A move to confer honorary doctorate for Chess icon Vishwanathan Anand was today at the centre of a raging storm after the HRD ministry reportedly raised questions over his Indian nationality but Minister Kapil Sibal stepped in to apologise to him.The HRD Minister, who called Anand over telephone in Hyderabad, said there was no question of his ministry raising queries being raised over Anand’s citizenship and that he has persuaded him to accept the doctorate.But the chess wizard politely turned it down for the present saying he would accept it on a later date because of his travel schedule and prior commitments now.Anand was to have been conferred the honorary doctorate along with Prof. David Mumford of Harvard University at a function here last night coinciding with the current International Congress of Mathematicians in Hyderabad.Bureaucratic hurdles caused by the Union Human Resource Development Ministry put paid to the plans of University of Hyderabad to confer the honour on the 39-year-old champion, who lives in Spain for the last few years but holds an Indian passport.As reports on the unsavoury episode broke out in the media, Sibal sought to do some damage limitation. He called Anand in Hyderabad over telephone and expressed his apologies, apparently over questions raised in regard to his citizenship.”But in the case of Vishwanathan Anand there is no question (of questions over his citizenship). We are sorry for what has transpired. I told him even if some Indian were to acquire foreign nationality we are still proud of him,” the minister told a hurriedly-called press conference in Delhi.advertisementHe blamed bureaucratic procedures in the delay on clearance of the doctorate degree for Anand, who maintained he had always played under the Indian flag and held an Indian passport.”I don’t understand this issue. I am in Hyderabad to play with Mathematicians and enjoy the Congress,” said the Grand Master who went ahead to play a game of Chess simultaneously with 40 mathematicians.He defeated all his opponents barring one in a game that lasted over three hours and participated in a question-answer session with them. With one, the game was drawn. The media was told not not to put any questions.Earlier, he was accorded a grand welcome at the Congress venue and Anand remained unfazed and did not not betray any emotions over the treatment meted out to him.Anand’s wife said the minister was apologetic when he spoke to the player and wanted the matter to be put to rest now now.But she made it clear that the issue of questions over Anand’s nationality did not not come as a surprise to them as they were asked to give a copy of the passport, which she had sent to the HRD ministry in June last year.Giving his version of the story, Sibal dismissed suggestions that the ministry had doubted Anand’s nationality.”There is no question, there is no issue. There is no question of nationality (about Anand),” he said adding that he had cleared the file on Anand’s name for conferring the doctorate on May 22 last year.But, he said, there were five other names. “When I went to the Visitor it came back to me with reference to an individual. Then the University event was over. This issue arose when another file came regarding a foreigner. If I had known I would have put my foot down,” he said.Sibal said he told Anand that the honorary degree could be conferred today itself. But he indicated that he had some problem about this evening. “Then I told him that any date of his convenience for the function was okay. He has accepted it,” the minister said.He said procedural error has led to problems regarding doctorate for Anand. Immediate corrective action was taken.It should not nto take time (to implement such decisions) but sometime it happens, he said adding this was not not the time for apportioning blame on anyone.Hailing Anand for his achievements, Sibal said “Vishwanathan Anand has done India proud like Arjun Atwal (who won a top professional golf championship in the US yesterday). We should be proud of those who climb the heights of global excellence.”Meanwhile, the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) expressed sadness over not not being able to confer the honorary doctorate on Anand because of “insensitive bureaucratic obstructions”.The ICM executive committee has conveyed its deep apology to Anand over this development, its Chairman M S Raghunathan and Secretary Rajat Tandon said in a statement.advertisementThey said the idea of conferring an honorary doctorate was mooted as early as in October 2009. The UoH took up the proposal and did all the necessary work and submitted it for clearance to The HRD Ministry, they said.Despite repeated follow-up by the university, the HRD Ministry did not forward this proposal for signature by the President of India, they claimed adding, as a result “this unfortunate turn of events had taken place”.Tandon earlier told reporters that as per UoH Vice Chancellor Syed Hasnain’s direction they had made necessary arrangements for conferring the Ph.D degree tonight itself.”He (Anand) changed his mind and he is not willing to take the degree. He doesn’t want it (degree) due to the controversy,” Tandon said.Asked whether Anand has said no, Raghunathan said, “He has not told me”.
Narayanaswami SrinivasanNarayanaswami Srinivasan, 65, is in the middle of several controversies, befitting his status as newly anointed president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the richest, most powerful and most-pilloried cricket board in the world. He has rejected demands for an inquiry into India’s disastrous England,Narayanaswami SrinivasanNarayanaswami Srinivasan, 65, is in the middle of several controversies, befitting his status as newly anointed president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the richest, most powerful and most-pilloried cricket board in the world. He has rejected demands for an inquiry into India’s disastrous England tour, sought legal advice on how to resolve the Kochi Tuskers crisis, and parried countless calls from Pakistan Cricket Board president Ijaz Bhatt seeking a renewal of Indo-Pakistan cricket ties.The chairman of India Cements which, in turn, is the prime investor in IPL team Chennai Super Kings, Srinivasan is a chemical engineer from the Illinois Institute of Technology as well as a chartered accountant. As he sits in the Chennai office of India Cements, which has a turnover of Rs 3,800 crore, surrounded by pictures of grandchildren, a clay model of Mahatma Gandhi and a miniature charkha on his table, he is determined to change the course of BCCI in his three years as president.”I hate this middle path where you have to please everybody. The Lalit Modi issue has been hanging fire, it has to end. In the International Cricket Council (ICC), I would like members to strongly take up various cricketing issues and involve associate members as well. Let’s expand, let the best man lead ICC,” he says. With fewer hours devoted to golf-he used to play daily as compared to his current weekly cycle-he has also dropped out as president of the All India Chess Federation so that he can devote more time to BCCI.advertisementHe has enough on his plate. The finance ministry claims the board owes it Rs 160 crore in service tax on IPL franchisee fees and sale of advertisement space in 2010. Worse, his one-time mentor and former BCCI president, A.C. Muthiah, has been seeking an injunction from the Supreme Court against Srinivasan holding top slots in the BCCI and an IPL team. The courts have refused to restrain Srinivasan who, as a matter of routine, maintains that he does not own Chennai Super Kings and that it’s run by a team of professionals.From district vice-president of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association in 2001 to his big break in 2005, when he became treasurer in the Sharad Pawar-led BCCI, he has managed to steer clear of controversy until now. Excerpts from an interview with deputy editor Shantanu Guha Ray.Q. Did you check your stars before assuming the role of BCCI president?A. (Laughs) I did but cannot share the name of my astrologer, nor what he told me about my future.Q. List three of your immediate priorities as board president.A. I want to focus on the development of the game, greater accountability and transparency. There is a fourth priority: The public must know the truth about former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. It must also know that the BCCI is an honest body.Q. Why is the BCCI not pushing for Modi’s extradition? He is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department on charges of accepting kickbacks in IPL television deals, rigging bids for teams and openly flouting BCCI guidelines.A. He is mocking us from England with his tweets. He is making a mockery of our judicial system. He thinks he can still control cricket with his tweets and blogs. I cannot issue summons, I do not run a court in this country. There are investigating agencies which are pursuing these cases against him. There are courts which will take note if summons are being avoided. If the Government wants, his passport will be cancelled. The recent Supreme Court judgment rejected Modi’s demand for a change in the BCCI Disciplinary Committee probing him.Q. But the Kochi issue is hanging fire and the team has been suspended because of payment defaults. There are rumours that some of the players could be put up for auction.A. We did what was written in the rule book. The team was repeatedly warned and asked to pay its dues. Now, the Kochi Tuskers management has threatened legal action. As far as the BCCI is concerned, Kochi is out of IPL. The case needs to be resolved. I know what you will ask next. There’s no personal agenda here. We had issues with Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab but those were sorted out.Q. What are your thoughts on icc’s recent efforts to revisit the governance of the game? There are demands that associate members be given a larger say.A. I am not in favour of regulations which give only a few the upper hand. They need to be changed. After all, members own the ICC and have to play an integral part in running the game.advertisementQ. Do you think the ICC’s rotation system of appointing a president should be done away with?A. It’s my view that the best person should run ICC. We can work out a system where professionals take charge.Q. Does this mean the president has to be from India?A. No, I didn’t say that. He can be from any member country.Q. Is the BCCI behind the ICC’s call for depoliticisation of cricket because of the mooted National Sports Development Bill that seeks to rein in sports bodies in India?A. There should be depoliticisation of cricket. But I was not on the executive board when this decision was taken. I think it would be grossly unfair to lay the blame at BCCIs doorstep.Q. Politicians like Rajiv Shukla, Vilasrao Deshmukh and Anurag Thakur are holding crucial posts in the BCCI. It appears as if you are seeking a political solution to what has become a political problem (the sports ministry’s demand to bring BCCI under its control) in sports?A. Scan the list of BCCI’s state bodies and you will see loads of politicians, except in the south where people associated with cricket run the show. So, appointing politicians is not a recent phenomenon and I am certainly not doing it to fortify my defence.Q. The parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in 2010 asked the Government to investigate FEMA and FIPB violations by IPL franchisees. Will the BCCI cooperate?A. Aren’t we cooperating? All papers pertaining to IPL during Modi’s tenure were handed over to the investigating agencies in 2010.Q. The Indian team is riddled with injury-related problems. You lost as many as eight players on the England tour. Already short of pacers, the batting mainstay of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman is unlikely to last your three-year term. How do you propose to reinforce the side?A. We have a strong bench. That’s why we could send a team to the West Indies and survive the England tour. This is cricket, not child’s play. It’s an ordeal by fire. Those in it will have to perform if they wish to replace legends like Sachin and Rahul.Q. Do you think the huge sums of money involved in cricket distract attention from other sports?A. That is an unfair charge. Corporations in India put in money because they find the game of cricket an attractive investment. You cannot blame BCCI for the decline of other sports. On the contrary, the BCCI continues to help games like football in India.Q. Finally, when will you play a series against Pakistan?A. This needs a political answer. Please get it from Delhi.
Kolkata: In an attempt to combat the dearth of doctors at various state-owned hospitals, the Bengal government is considering a proposal to make it mandatory for the doctors from the private establishments to provide voluntary service at the government hospitals.The matter is, however, in the primary level and the state Health department has been mulling if the doctors from private hospitals could be roped in. It has been learnt from the sources that during her recent meeting with the senior health officials at Nabanna, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also instructed the officials to explore the possibilities on how the doctors from private hospitals can be utilised in government hospitals, if there is a need. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsThe state Health department is contemplating how the private doctors can be engaged for giving voluntary service at the state run-hospitals. The move is aimed at ensuring proper and timely medical care to those undergoing treatment at various hospitals, particularly in the multi super-speciality ones that have come up in various parts of the state.It may be mentioned here that after coming to power, the Mamata Banerjee government has set up around 42 multi super-speciality hospitals in the districts. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedVarious modalities like determining the consultation fee of these doctors or their fixed honorarium will be worked out, most likely on the basis of the number of patients they attend. The matter is, however, up to the government.The senior Health department officials may chalk out an elaborate plan for engaging private doctors for voluntarily devoting time ato treat patients at district hospitals, as well as the multi super-speciality hospitals, sources said. The present government has increased the number of medical seats in the state. According to sources in the state Health department, the combined number of MBBS and BDS seats have increased from 2,205 to 3,750, while the number of post-graduate medical seats have increased from 880 to 1,297.The number of post-doctoral seats has also increased to 147 from 107. Around 93 tutor-demonstrators were appointed by the Health department, bringing the total number of such appointments to 2,095.Despite the initiatives taken by the state government, there is a dearth of doctors at government establishments, as the number of medical seats were not increased for a long time.According to a senior government official, the plan is at the preliminary level. The decision will be taken after considering all aspects relating to the proposal.”There is a proposal regarding the utilisation of the private doctors, which is under the consideration of the government,” the official said.