Tuesday, September 29, 2015

FIBA Asia Championship: India seal historic quarterfinals berth
BENGALURU/CHANGSHA, 29 September 2015: For the first time since 2003, India has qualified to the quarterfinals of the 28th FIBA Asia Championship for Men that is underway in Changsha, China.  This will provide solace to the team, which lost to a hot Philippines side, 99-65, earlier this afternoon. Prior to today’;s game against India, Philippines is coming off 4 straight victories and its first ever win against Asian giant Iran yesterday.
Despite the loss, India progressed to the knockouts based on its two wins in the last three games, the biggest over Palestine on Sunday morning.  While both teams finished with the same Group record of 2-3, India won their only head-to-head matchup and will move on to face the Pool F topper, who will be determined by the winner of the China-Qatar matchup later in the evening.
Commenting on the achievement, veteran forward Yadwinder Singh said, “We are ecstatic to have qualified and all the players have put in a lot of effort. Compared to teams in the past, the key difference has been the improved showing of our big men Amjyot Singh and Amritpal Singh.” Both Amjyot and Amritpal are professionals in the Japanese developmental league, and their exposure abroad is showing immediate divided.
India started off strong against Philippines, winning the first quarter 17-16. However, the hot-shooting of Philippines kicked in during the second quarter and it took a 42-36 lead into halftime. In the second half, the tired legs of India couldn’t keep up, as a rested and deep Philippines team took off on large runs. Captain Vishesh Bhriguvanshi led the team with 21 points, including 5-10 outside shooting, while Amritpal Singh matched former-NBA player Andre Blatche blow for blow with 18 points and 13 rebounds.  Star Amjyot Singh had an off-night with 11 points and 5 rebounds.
India (Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 21 pts, 3 rbs & 3 asts; Amritpal Singh 18 pts & 13 rbs; and Amjyot Singh 11 pts & 5 rbs) lost to Philippines (T Romeo 20 pts & 4 asts; A. Blatche 15 pts & 5 stls; and R. DeCampo 13 pts) 65-99 (17-16, 19-26, 14-23, 15-34)
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FIBA Asia Championship: India beat Hong Kong and inch closer to historic quarterfinals berth
BENGALURU/CHANGSHA, 28 September 2015: Battling a slow start and an off-night for one of its stars, the Indian senior men’s basketball team fought back, relying on role players to hold off a pesky Hong Kong team, 76-71.  With this win, and following Palestine’s loss to Japan, the South Asian giants are just a step away from progressing to the quarterfinals of the 28th FIBA Asia Championship for Men underway in Changsha, China, after a gap of 12 years.
Yet again, power forward Amjyot Singh was India’;s most efficient performer with 26 points and 12 rebounds, while veteran Yadwinder Singh had a stellar shooting performance off the bench.
Speaking about the game Yadwinder said, “Although we were trailing at the beginning, we were fully confident that we would win.” On his own offensive performance he said, “My focus has always been on defense but I found that our scoring was stuck, so I stepped up my aggression and it paid off.”
In their final second round match tomorrow, India plays Philippines, one of the top Asian sides, at 12:00 pm IST.
India (Amjyot Singh 26 pts, 12 rbs, 4 assts, & 3 blks, Yadwinder Singh 18 pts, 6 rbs, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi 16 pts, 3 rbs, 4 stls, & 6 asts, Amritpal Singh 8 pts & 15 rbs) beat Hong Kong (C Wong, 21 pts & 10 rbs, S. Chan 17 pts & 4 rbs) 76-71 (14-19, 20-20, 19-17, 23-15)
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RBI slashes repo rate by 50 bps in Fourth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Review for 2015-16

Policy repo rate reduced to 6.75% and Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) unchanged at 4%

RBI in its fourth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2015-16 has reduced the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) to 6.75% from 7.25%, cash reserve ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks unchanged at 4% of net demand and time liability (NDTL). Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 5.75%, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 7.75%. RBI will continue to provide liquidity under overnight repos at 0.25% of bankwise NDTL at the LAF repo rate and liquidity under 14-day term repos as well as longer term repos of up to 0.75% of NDTL of the banking system through auctions.

   The RBI policy rates so far    
Components
28-
Jan-14
01-
Apr-14
03-
Jun-14
05-
Aug-14
30-
Sep-14
02-
Dec-14
15-
Jan-15
03-
Feb-15
04-Mar-15
07-Apr-15
02-Jun-15
04-Aug-15
29-Sep 2015
CRR
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
4.00%
Repo Rate
8.00%
8.00%
8.00%
8.00%
8.00%
8.00%
7.75%
7.75%
7.5%
7.5%
7.25%
7.25%
6.75%
Reverse Repo Rate
7.00%
7.00%
7.00%
7.00%
7.00%
7.00%
6.75%
6.75%
6.5%
6.5%
6.25%
6.25%
5.75%
WPI Inflation
6.2%
4.7%
5.2%
5.4%
3.7%
1.7%^
0.17^^
-0.5
^^^
-0.39”
-2.06””
-2.65
@*
-2.4
@**
(-) 4.95
@***
IIP growth
-2.1%
0.1%
-0.5%
4.7%
0.5%
2.8%*
-4.2%**
3.9%***
3.2@
2.6@@
2.1% @^
2.7@^^

4.2@^^^
Real GDP growth
4.8%
4.6%
4.7%
4.7%
5.7%
5.3%#
5.3%
5.3%
7.4$
7.8 $$
7.3%$$$
7.6%;
7.4%;;
Source: PHD Research Bureau, compiled from various sources,  Note:, , #Data for Gross domestic product for Q2 of 2014-15, ^Data for Oct 2014, ^^ Data for November 2014 , ^^^December 2014,” Data for Jan 2015, “” Data for Feb 2015,  *Data for Sep 2014, ** Data for Oct 2014 and *** Data for Nov 2014.@ Data for Dec 2014 @@ Data for Jan 2015.  Note: The Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation has released the new series of national accounts, revising the base year from 2004-05 to 2011-12. With this backdrop, real GDP growth for 2012-13 is estimated at 5.1% and 6.9% for 2013-14, $Advance estimates of national income 2014-15 MOSPI, $$ RBI projections in the first Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2015-16. @^ IIP for the month of March 2015, @* WPI for April 2015. $$$Real GDP growth Provisional estimates of 2014-15, MOSPI, @** Data for month of June 2015, @*** Data for August 2015 @^^ Data for May 2015, @^^^ Data for July 2015 ; RBI projection of GVA  growth for 2015-16, ;; RBI projections according to 4th Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2015-16

Snapshot of fourth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2015-16

Since the third bi-monthly statement of August 2015, global growth has moderated, especially in emerging market economies (EMEs), global trade has deteriorated further and downside risks to growth have increased. In the United States , industrial production slowed as capital spending in the energy sector was cut back and exports contracted, weighed down by the strength of the US dollar. Consumer spending stayed buoyant, however, amidst steadily improving labour market conditions. In the Euro area, a fragile recovery strengthened, supported by domestic consumption, less slack in the labour market and improving financial conditions engendered by ultra-accommodative monetary policy.

Economic activity in Japan , however, is faltering under the weight of weak private consumption and exports, with both business and consumer confidence subdued. EMEs are caught in a vortex of slowing global trade volumes, depressed commodity prices, weakening currencies and capital outflows, which is accentuating country-specific domestic constraints. China ’s intended rebalancing from investment towards consumption is being hit by the stock market meltdown, slower industrial production and weaker exports. The devaluation of the renminbi on August 11, while mild, has unsettled financial markets across the world. Brazil and Russia are grappling with recession and runaway inflation, while South Africa is facing tightening structural constraints which threaten to tip it into a downturn.

In India , a tentative economic recovery is underway, but is still far from robust. In agriculture, sown area has expanded modestly from a year ago, reflecting the timely and robust onset of the monsoon in June, but the southwest monsoon is currently deficient by 14 per cent – with production-weighted rainfall deficiency at 20 per cent. Nevertheless, the first advance estimates indicate that food grain production is expected to be higher than last year, reflecting actions taken to contain the adverse effects of rain deficiency through timely advisories and regular monitoring of seed and fertiliser availability. Allied farm activities, which are more insulated from the monsoon, remain resilient and could partly offset the effects of adverse weather on crop production. Rural demand, however, remains subdued as reflected in still shrinking tractor and two-wheeler sales.

In the bi-monthly policy statement of August, the Reserve Bank indicated that further monetary policy accommodation will be conditioned by the abating of recent inflationary pressures, the full monsoon outturn, possible Federal Reserve actions and greater transmission of its front-loaded past actions. Since then, inflation has dropped to a nine-month low, as projected. Despite the monsoon deficiency and its uneven spatial and temporal distribution, food inflation pressures have been contained by resolute actions by the government to manage supply. The disinflation has been broad-based and inflation excluding food and fuel has also come off its recent peak in June. The Federal Reserve has postponed policy normalisation. Markets have transmitted the Reserve Bank’s past policy actions via commercial paper and corporate bonds, but banks have done so only to a limited extent. The median base lending rates of banks have fallen by only about 30 basis points despite extremely easy liquidity conditions. This is a fraction of the 75 basis points of the policy rate reduction during January-June, even after a passage of eight months since the first rate action by the Reserve Bank. Bank deposit rates have, however, been reduced significantly, suggesting that further transmission is possible.

Inflation is expected to reach 5.8% in January 2016–Looking forward, inflation is likely to go up from September for a few months as favourable base effects reverse. The outlook for food inflation could improve if the increase in sown area translates into higher production. Moderate increases in minimum support prices should keep cereal inflation muted, while subdued international food price inflation should continue to put downward pressure on the prices of sugar and edible oil, and food inflation more generally. It is important that pro-active supply-side management by the government be in place to head off any food price pressures should they materialise, especially in respect of onion and pulses. The pass-through of the recent depreciation of the rupee will have to be carefully monitored, although benign crude prices should have an offsetting effect. Taking all this into consideration, inflation is expected to reach 5.8% in January 2016, a shade lower than the August projection

Quarterly Projection of CPI inflation (y-o-y) for 2015-16
Source: RBI

Output growth projected for 2015-16 at 7.4%– The modest pick-up in the growth momentum in the first half of 2015-16 benefited from soft commodity prices, disinflation, comfortable liquidity conditions, some de-clogging of stalled projects, and higher capital expenditure by the central government. Underlying economic activity, however, remains weak on account of the sustained decline in exports, rainfall deficiency and weaker than expected momentum in industrial production and investment activity. With global growth and trade slower than initial expectations, a continuing lack of appetite for new investment in the private sector, the constraint imposed by stressed assets on bank lending and waning business confidence, output growth projected for 2015-16 is marked down slightly to 7.4 per cent from 7.6 per cent earlier. Concurrent indicators also suggest that the new GDP series shows higher growth than would the old series, which necessitates recalibrating old measures of potential output and the output gap to the new series.
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Delhi Dynamos announce partnership with BRICS football cup
Delhi Dynamos will make a mark in top three this year: Roberto Carlos

To celebrate the BRICS summit in 2016 in India, Delhi Dynamos FC, the national capital’s team of Indian Super League (ISL), today signed an agreement with BRICS Football Cup management to be their 6th official football team partner, at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi today.
Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Delhi Dynamos entered into an agreement with BRICS Football Cup tournament organisers to be its sixth football team partner at ASSOCHAM launch of the Football: BRICS U-17 Football Cup 2016 (India).
Delhi Dynamos FC’s marquee player Mr. Roberto Carlos said, Delhi Dynamos have reinforced this time with a new players, new coach, new mentality to find a place at the top three of the charts.
Indian players can prove much more and we are here to help them and improve their skills to become better. Mr. Carlos also said, we have come here to promote football in India. It’s is very important for development of Indian football and also for development of Indian culture and Brazilian culture.
To celebrate the BRICS summit in 2016 in India ASSOCHAM and in line with the official announcement made by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi in the last BRICs summit held Ufa-Russia that India will host an Under-17 Football Tournament on the tenure of India as a host of BRICS summit in 2016 to strengthen relations, promote a safe and protective environment along with corporate social responsibility (CSR) among the five nations, said Mr Joao Gilberto Vaz, Project Leader & Tournament Organiser at an ASSOCHAM event.
The Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) in partnership with BRICS Football Cup is proposing to organize the first ever BRICS Under-17 football cup next year in India.  Delhi Dynamos will also participate effectively in all the grass roots and CSR related activities of BRICS Football cup, said said Mr Vaz, Project Leader & Tournament Organizer at an event.
Speaking on the occasion, Prashant Agarwal, President Delhi Dynamos FC said, “We at Delhi Dynamos FC have always worked towards the development of the game at grassroots level. The partnership with BRICS football cup will not only promote better football interaction among BRICS youths but will also bring together people from different cultures. The tournament will provide a huge platform to young athletes and encourage them to showcase their talent”.
Mr. Agarwal further said, given that the BRICS football cup has now kicked off with the Under-17 age group, should the event include a senior tournament in the future, Delhi Dynamos will be proud to represent India at that level as well.
The other agreement was also signed with NIVIA Sports a leading Indian manufacture of sports apparel and professional football balls. NIVIA sports will be the official ball supplier of BRICS Football Cup events. BRICS football cup supports the “Make in India” campaign and involves as much as possible Indian companies and manufactured products on this event.
The agreement was signed by the Delhi Dynamos and Mr. Vaz, Project Leader & Tournament Organiser, in the presence of H.E. Tovar da Silva Nunes, Ambassador of Brazil here at New Delhi.
Other speakers who also spoke during the conference were Mr. Nikhil Sawhney, Chairman of ASSOCHAM National Council on Sports & Sports Infrastructure and other BRICS nation’s diplomatic representatives.
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Quality, Reliability Matter for 24×7 Electricity Access, CEEW’s Energy Access Survey Finds

QUALITY, RELIABILITY MATTER FOR 24×7 ELECTRICITY ACCESS, CEEW’S ENERGY ACCESS SURVEY FINDS

Quality, Reliability Matter for 24×7 Electricity Access, CEEW’s Energy Access Survey Finds
New Delhi (29 September 2015) – Despite 96% of villages electrified, only two-thirds of rural households have a connection and only half of them receive more than twelve hours of power a day, the largest energy access survey in India has found. Minister for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal, today released an independent study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), in collaboration with Columbia University.
Speaking at the release of the ACCESS study, Minister Piyush Goyal, said, “CEEW’s ACCESS study provides a holistic approach to analyse the deep distress to rural India due to poor electricity access and could be the handbook for all future discussion on this topic. In urban India, we often take electricity for granted without realizing the poor state of electricity access faced by large parts of rural India. Though 96% of villages are electrified, it is crucial to note that this does not equal to electrification of the households. Rural citizens today demand quality electricity to light their homes, use fans, charge mobiles and provide a conducive environment for the education of their children. Ensuring quality 24×7 electricity at affordable prices to backward regions and the poorest of the poor citizens in rural India is the prime focus of my government.”
The Access to Clean Cooking Energy and Electricity – Survey of States (ACCESS) is India’s largest energy access survey, covering more than 8500 households, 714 villages and 51 districts, across Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Key findings on Electricity Access
  • Even though 95.5% villages are electrified, only 68.6% of rural households have electricity connection across the six states
  • Only half therural households receive electricity for more than 12 hours a day. This is as high as 97.5% for West Bengal and as low as 23.5% for Uttar Pradesh
  • Proportion of rural households receiving 4 or more hours of evening supply varies from 93% in West Bengal to more than 70% in Madhya Pradesh and Odisha to less than 30% in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • 65% of electrified households face at least one black-out day in a month
  • 64% of electrified households in Bihar use kerosene as primary lighting source
  • For a lifeline consumption of 30 units/month, unmetered households end up paying more than the metered households
  • Even a household electricity connection does not guarantee its use as a primary source of lighting; 46% of households having electricity connection have severe issues in terms of supply quality and duration
  • Significant lag exists between the time when a village was first electrified and when the households got electrified. This varies from a median lag of 25 years for a rural household in Odisha to 15 years for households in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to only two years in Bihar and Jharkhand
  • Nearly a third of the households expressed preference for a micro-grid over regular grid
  • ~78% rural households expressed preference for subsidy on solar lanterns in lieu of subsidy on kerosene
Mihir Shah
Communications Specialist
Council on Energy, Environment and Water
Thapar House, 124, Janpath, New Delhi 110001
Mob: 91 85 859 188 54 . Tel:   91 11 407 333 62
Website : www.ceew.in
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STAR STUDDED AAI PARAGLIDING WORLD CUP TO COMMENCE ON OCTOBER 23

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STAR STUDDED AAI PARAGLIDING WORLD CUP TO COMMENCE ON OCTOBER 23
  • AAI Paragliding World Cup at Bir Billing in Himachal Pradesh is the first-ever event of the World Cup Tour to be held in India
  • Participation confirmed from the top paragliders from across the world including the biggest names from Europe, Asia and Africa
  • AAI Paragliding World Cup Trophy and the mascot, which is the Snow Leopard, the state animal of Himachal Pradesh also unveiled

New Delhi, September 28 2015: A galaxy of world’s top Paragliders will descend onto India for the AAI Paragliding World Cup, the first-ever event of the World Cup Tour to be held in India. The week-long event, which will see a veritable feast of Aero Sports at one of the most natural locations for the sport at Bir Billing, about 40 km from Kangra, will see three of the four World’s top-ranked pilots besides the Top-3 from Oceania-Asia and Top-2 from Africa and one of the most successful woman pilots in a field that has 130 Pilots from over 35 countries.

The event sponsored by Airports Authority of India, which has taken upon itself to promote and push Adventure Sports in India also has a host of other sponsors. The AAI Paragliding World Cup will be held at Bir Billing in Himachal Pradesh from October 23 to 31, 2015 with actual competition beginning on October 24.

The venue Bir-Billing often referred to as a “Paradise for Paragliders” is considered one of best launch sites for the sport in the world.

While announcing the participation of the world’s best 130 pilots, including an Indian team of seven pilots, the Organisers also unveiled the customized AAI Paragliding World Cup Trophy and the mascot, which is the Snow Leopard, the state animal of Himachal Pradesh.

A range of colourful merchandise to be worn by the Indian national team and also to be sold at the event was also released on Monday.

Mr. R K Srivastava, Chairman, Airports Authority of India, said, “We are extremely pleased to be associated with the Paragliding World Cup. For quite some time we were looking for a sport that was in sync with our specialization, which is aviation. And Paragliding fits perfectly with that. Also Adventure Sports has become hugely popular among youth. We plan to start with Paragliding and take Adventure Sports in India to a new level.”

He added, “The AAI has been supporting hundreds of sportspersons in various disciplines ranging from Badminton to table tennis and chess and much else. Many of our sportspersons, under various schemes like Scholarship schemes and contract schemes have been representing their states and also India and have also won medals at the International competitions. At the Asian Games our badminton stars got a bronze medal and in chess our stars include National Champions like Mary Ann Gomes and Padmini Rout. In recent past, D Harika won the World Juniors and Parimarjan Negi was part of the first-ever Indian team to win a medal at Chess Olympiad. Both were supported at various points by AAI. Now we wish to add Adventure Sports to our portfolio.”

Mr. Sudhir Sharma, President of Billing Paragliidng Association, and the Minister of Housing, Urban Development and Town & Country Planning, Himachal Pradesh, said, “It will be the first-ever World Cup of Paragliding in India and we want to make it a Festival of Aero Sports with a lot of activities planned around it. Apart from the competitive element there should also be fun elements to attract those who are not tuned to something like Paragliding.”

He added, “The state government has developed world-class infrastructure in and around Bir-Billing by re-doing the take-off and landing sites and ensuring state-of-the-art facilities for the paragliders, officials and spectators,” he said. “This is because we feel that an event like this can be used to promote Tourism and also boost the local economy. When you have such large numbers of foreign visitors and also Indians, the local are going to benefit from this.”

Mr. Rajesh Srivastava, Sr. Vice President of BPA, added, “This is a very attractive sport to watch and follow but it also requires a high degree of planning to ensure safety for all pilots. So, there will be rescue reams in Control Room for back-up and each team has six members and stretcher carriers. Each Rescue Team consists of four Mountaineering Instructors, two trained Marshals, one Paramedic and one policeman. And, each Retrieval Team consists of two trained Marshals, one policeman equipped with radio Set and mobile communication and each Rescue team is equipped with full mountain climb/rescue gear equipment and hard stretchers.”

Supported by action film hero Akshay Kumar and other film personalities like John Abraham, Preity Zinta, Mahesh Bhatt and cricket superstar Yuvraj Singh, the AAI Paragliding World Cup also aims to take the sport across India and promote Tourism through Adventure Sports.

During the course of the week, the Organisers have also planned daily festivals to showcase Tourism and history and culture of Himachal Pradesh and India. Food festivals, information on those wishing to learn and pursue Paragliding will also be made available as the sport grows in Himachal and India. One of the highlights of the week will also be Tandem Flights for Children with Special Needs. They will be taken into the skies by experienced pilots and given a unique “Once-in-a-Lifetime” experience to empower them and help enjoy a sport that adds to the sense of freedom for all those who follow it.

World Class field

The field at the AAI Paragliding World Cup will be one of the strongest on the Tour. With three of the world’s top four , including one of the all-time greats, Julien Wirtz of France, who has been No. 1 in the world for 20 of the last 25 months. He is currently ranked No. 3 in the world, one behind Vidic Jurij of Slovenia, who unseated Wirtz from No. 1 in spot in July before losing it himself.

Vidic Jurij (Slovenia), Julien Wirtz (France) and Torsten Siegel (Germany) hold the spots from second to fourth in the world and also in Europe. Another big name in the field is Frenchman Maxime Pinot, winner of the 2014 Super Cup in Turkey, who is now No. 8 in the latest world rankings.

The top Paragliders from Africa, both from South Africa are also confirmed. They are Andre Rainsford and Chris Noord.

The field also has the 3 from Oceania-Asia Zone. The leader is Japan’s Yoshiki Kuremotowith fellow countryman Yoshiaki Hirakawa right behind him. Iran’s Sohel Barikani is No. 3 in Oceania-Asia.

Klaudia Bulgakow, a well-known name in India, who won the women’s honours in 2013 Pre-World Cup in Bir Billing is back for another taste of Paragliding in India and leads the women’s contingent of about a dozen pilots.

The Indian challenge

Ajay Kumar, one of the most experienced Indian pilots will lead the home challenge. The Indian team will comprise Ajay Kumar, Gurpreet DhindsaJyoti Thakur, Arvind Pal, Prakash Chand, Gautam Nath and Sanjay Kumar. The Indian team includes five pilots who hail from Himachal Pradesh and will therefore have the advantage of knowing local conditions, having trained and practiced in the region.

Structure of the World of Paragliding:
The Paragliding World Cup is one of the elite events in aero sports. Only a handful are scheduled each year, though there are other smaller events. In 2015, only five World Cup events have been held.

The first four were held in Baixu Guandu, Brazil (April); Montalegre, Portugal (July); Disentis, Switzerland (August) and Ager, Spain (August). The last World Cup in the series for the year will be held in Bir-Billing, Himachal Pradesh, India from October 23 to 31, 2015.

The World Cups are followed by an annual Super Cup, which will be held in January, 2016 in Valle de Bravo, Mexico.

How is the competition held?
Over the seven days of competition, a specially designated Task Committee sets a ‘Task’ which the pilots are required to complete. The course decided upon is referred to as the ‘task’ and the task is to fly around the entire course and arrive at the end (the goal) in the fastest time. Points are awarded for various tasks over the period and cumulative points determine the winner.

Billing Paragliding Association
The Billing Paragliding Association has been entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the AAI Paragliding World Cup with the help of the Paragliding World Cup’s apex body based in France. The BPA is affiliated to the Aero Club of India, which in turn is recognized by Federation Aeronatique International (FAI), the world body which was set up in 1905.

Though Paragliding as a sport has been held in the region for some time, the Billing Paragliding Association was formed in 2006 and since then has organised local events and its biggest International was the Pre World Cup in 2013.

The successful conduct of the Pre World Cup enabled India get the World Cup for the first time this year. Each year the Paragliding World Cup Tour has about select five events which form the Paragliding World Tour and that ends with the World Cup Superfinal. In the coming seasons, the BPA hopes to add more National events and also bid for the World Cup Superfinal, which is held worldwide only once a year.


Bir Billing
Bir Billing has been a Paradise for Paragliding and Hang Gliding since 1984, when the first Hang Gliding event was held here. The then Rural Development Minister, Pandit Sant Ram, who helped start the event, set the ball rolling as things began slowly and then gained momentum. Now Bir Billing is world renowned for Paragliding and Adventure Sports.

Bir and Billing are separated by 14 kilometres in Himachal Pradesh. Bir is a Village 14 km to the south of Billing and offers accommodations for tourists and gilders and others. It is also a noted centre for ecotourism, spiritual studies and meditation. Bir is also home to a large Tibetan population and has Buddhist monasteries and a large stupa and the area is also well known for Mcleodganj and Dharamshala.

One of the best ways to reach Kangra (Gaggal Airport) is by flight. There are daily flights to Kangra, which is 40 km away from Bir. Other modes to reach the venue are by road and trains. Palampur is 29 km from Bir and Baijnath is 13 km from Bir. Bir Billing is 499 km from Delhi.

While pilots’ and visitors accommodation is at Bir and the village of Chowgan, where there are hotels besides special luxury tents that will be put up. The take-off for the Pilots will be from Billing, which is 14 km away and is roughly at 2400m, about 1000m above Bir. The pilots are taken from Bir to Billing in a little under 45 minutes and they take-off from Billing, the natural launching pad.

The site, Bir-Billing is almost naturally suited for the sport and makes for spectacular views and provides for pilots an area that offers as much as a 200 km expanse for flying in the mountains for heights of as much as 4,500 metres.
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MODI’S BABU PROBLEM: Expectations high from PM but he must fix bureaucratic talent crunch to deliver

I was alerted to the Pew Research Centre’s latest survey findings on India by a remark from MoS finance Jayant Sinha at a recent conference, that the survey report was a great birthday gift for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is also well timed coming just in advance of his impending trip to the US.
The survey reveals that 87% of the 2,452 respondents have a positive rating for Modi, up from 78% in December 2013.More remarkably 89% regard him favourably in rural India, 25% higher than Congress. In cities BJP scores a high 84%, 31% higher than its main rival.
With Modi at the helm Indians have shed their dissatisfaction with the government, with 56% now believing that the country is moving in the right direction compared to less than a third in December 2013.
Clearly , the benefit of doubt is still firmly with Modi and people expect him to deliver on his promises for acche din, better governance and higher global recognition for India. People’s expectations from Modi remain sky high.
Pew ratings and sky high expectations are of course welcome. But these also raise the stakes for Modi to deliver on his promises before it is too late. In this context, Sinha’s caution on limited bandwidth for implementing reform measures is well taken. It must also be a cause of concern.
If true, this capacity constraint could convert passionate supporters 73% give Modi ‘very favourable’ ratings in the Pew Survey to disillusioned and disgruntled voters. They would feel let down and be ready to teach a lesson when the next major elections those in UP in 2017 come along.
Given that Indians have just recovered their self-esteem and self-confidence, this eventuality must be prevented.Otherwise cynicism directed at the political
However, bureaucratic capacity must already be stretched especially if, as reports go, there are not too many takers within IAS for deputation as joint secretary to the central government.>If former home secretary Gopal Pillai writing recently for an online portal is to be believed, this lack of enthusiasm in IAS could be due to a noticeable loss of morale. This is a real surprise because the prevailing impression is that bureaucracy has unprecedented power under and support from Modi.It is important to nurture and enhance the bench strength on Raisina Hill especially when the in-house perception is of limited bandwidth.The key issue, therefore, is the quality of in-house
capacity for governance.
Publicly available data from the Union Public Services Commission gives us some idea. Unfortunately , it reveals a rather worrying trend. The competition for getting into the 24 covenanted civil services is as severe as it has ever been. Barely 0.36% of those applying in 2012 were selected as compared to 0.5% in 1997 (phew). I suppose this justifies the superior know all attitude of our covenanted bureaucracy .
Of those who finally made it, only 15.1% were between 21-24 years of age in 2012 compared to 17.4% in 2002. During the late 60s and 70s several of my peers joined the civil service straight after their undergraduate degrees.
This would be unheard of today when as many as 35.8% of those selected in 2012 were older than 28 years. The rise in the share of ‘senior entrants’ is partially because of an increase in the number of professionals, doctors, engineers and management graduates, whose share has more than doubled between 2002 and 2012.
It still remains rather small at 15%, but the trend is clear. Moreover, the share of ‘reserved category candidates’ including other backward castes, who have a higher age eligibility , has also risen from 48% in 2002 to 54% in 2012. Quite creditably , SC and ST candidates’ share has gone up from 19% to 24% between 1998 and 2012.
These senior entrants have limited career options and so could be easily under motivated. The conclusion is inescapable that top students, who would join at an early age, are not as keen as earlier to join the civil services.
The bandwidth for governance has certainly not been improving over time.Given this sobering reality , should Modi not try and attract talent laterally? Time is not on Modi’s side. Inducting and activating new talent takes time and considerable effort especially when this is not exactly welcomed by the ‘system’.
It will be a pity if the prime minister succumbs to his top bureaucrats’ advice that they will manage. Have they not always done so! Only fresh talent and feedback from multiple sources can help Modi keep his promises.
The Modi government would do well to better communicate its successes as also the work in progress. Investment behaviour is all about expectations and these can be turned around through better communications. This is an important task, because substantial negative sentiment is being generated by the consultants agents brokers dalals who have been cut off from the gravy train hitherto flowing down Raisina Hill.
The writer is Senior Fellow at Centre for Policy Research and Founder Director of Pahle India FoundationThis email was sent to nksagar_1@yahoo.com

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