Swansea move out of drop zone

first_imgThere’s more Cup action tonight.Aston Villa could do with a morale-boosting win over Wycombe at Villa Park, while West Brom are the other Premier League club in action as they must travel to face Briston City.Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich side visit Portsmouth.Those matches are among the 7:45 starts tonight, while there’s also two 8 o’clock kick-offs as Bolton host Eastleigh and Huddersfield visit Reading. It’s after a 1-nil win at home to Watford – with their new head coach Francesco Guidolin watching on from the stands.Captain Ashley Williams got the only goal of the game.Also last night, 10-man Blackburn booked their place in the FA Cup fourth round after a 2-1 win over Newport County in their third round replay.last_img read more

Seven summits, seven flights for charity

first_img16 July 2010 The paraglider slowly drifted down from the blue sky, moving in broad circles as he lined up to land alongside a banner reading “Seven summits, 7 flights”. Pierre Carter’s aim was perfect – he landed softy and gently ran up to the crowd gathered in Delta Park in northern Joburg, his rectangular orange and white parachute billowing behind him. Carter is one of three athletes to tackle this “journey of a life time”, in which they will be the first team in the world to summit the highest mountain on each of the seven continents, and once on the summits, paraglide down to their starting points. The other members of the team are 33-year-old Marianne Schwankhart and Peter Friedman. Carter and Friedman are both 43. They set off on Sunday, 11 July and will begin by tackling Mount Elbrus in Russia, at 5 642 metres. The other summits on which they will be leaving their footprints are: Carstensz Pyramid in West Papua, Indonesia (4 884m), Mount Vinson in Antarctica (4 897m), Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (5 895m), Denali in Alaska (6 194m), Aconcagua in Argentina (6 959m), and the tallest of them all, Everest in Nepal (8 850m). They admit that Carstensz Pyramid is the one that makes them the most nervous; despite the fact that it is the lowest, it is the most dangerous, and no one has ever tried to paraglide off it before. “Walking back down a mountain is the most dangerous part of climbing, so paragliding down will reduce the risks,” says Carter. All three members of the expedition recognise that there are great risks involved. Problems for paragliders at these heights include strong winds and temperatures dropping to -30°C, or -50°C with the wind chill element. If the winds are too strong they will have to wait until they drop, for up to eight hours, if necessary. The three have had special lightweight gliders made, weighing 10 kilograms. A standard glider weighs 40 kilomgrams. Carter and Schwankhart will do a tandem paraglide off the summits, so that Schwankhart can photograph the summits on the way down, while Friedman will attempt the flights as a single glider. They will be taking along two cameramen, Guy Hubbard and Kyle O’Donoghue, to capture the three of them climbing and flying. Both are climbers as well.Carter’s idea The idea originates with Carter, who has had this dream since 1991. The team expects to finish the challenge in around two years, largely driven by financial constraints and weather and seasons. For instance, Mount Everest can only be climbed between March and May. The idea of climbing the seven summits originated with Dick Bass in 1985. Since then more than 200 people have climbed all seven. Climbing and paragliding off them has been attempted before, by a French couple, but they never completed the task. Carter has been paragliding since 1988, and represented South Africa in the world paragliding championships for five consecutive years between 1991 and 1995. He has been climbing for almost 30 years and has summited and paraglided off two of the seven mountains – Elbrus and Aconcagua. He is considered to be one of the 15 greatest paragliders in the world, and will be the team leader of the expedition.First woman Schwankhart, an award-winning photo journalist with The Times newspaper, has been a climber since 1995. She was the first woman to climb the sheer east face of the central tower of the Torres del Paine in Chile in 2003, and returned in 2008 and climbed all three of the peaks, again setting the record for a woman. In 2005, she climbed the Trango Tower in Pakistan – 900m of vertical rock face – to a height of 6 500m. The same year she climbed Cerro Torre in Patagonia, Argentina. Climbing a sheer cliff face requires the climber to sleep for several nights on the mountain, sleeping in a suspended hammock-like contraption, hanging from the mountainside. In 2006, she filmed No Need for Parking – an Africa Rock Adventure, a record of her climbs in southern Africa. Remarkably, Schwankhart doesn’t see the climbing or the sub-zero temperatures as her greatest challenge in the venture; she wants to be able to take good photographs. “The purpose of my trip is to take amazing photographs, so I hope I can do this. My main worry is whether my camera batteries are charged,” she explains. The climbing is of secondary concern. “Mount Elbrus is an easy mountain, I am not too worried. I can rely on muscle memory for the climb.” She is not a paraglider though, and is a little concerned about being air sick. Friedman has been paragliding for eight years and has fixed-wing and helicopter licences. He has a black belt in karate and has represented South Africa in Japan at the world karate championships. He has also represented South Africa in the world surf skiing championships in the United States. He has been the driving force behind putting the expedition together, raising the all-important funding and sponsors.Funds The expedition will be raising funds for The Trust, an organisation that raises funds for 100 charities, with causes ranging from crime survivors, abused animals, HIV and Aids sufferers, to protecting the environment. This year’s particular cause is fighting human trafficking, in partnership with Cintron Africa, says Tracey-Lee Cohen, the managing trustee. The Trust will run a series of TV and radio adverts by R&B singer Akon to assist in raising awareness of human trafficking. “The anti-human trafficking case is just one example of a social cause that will benefit from the bravery and initiative shown by the 7 Summits 7 Flights team,” says Cohen. The expedition will also be raising funds for The Smile Foundation, a charity involved in assisting children with facial anomalies get surgery. “We admire the dedicated work of charitable organisations such as The Smile Foundation and hope to help provide them with the resources and funds they need to do their work and overcome their own challenges,” says Carter. The three estimate they will need about R7-million to complete the whole venture. All the gear has been sponsored, but funding is still needed. Donations can be made through their website. The team can be followed on a range of social media: they will be updating their website, Twitter and Facebook pages every few days, and articles will appear in The Times newspaper. DSTV will provide R2-million in airtime to the expedition. Source: City of Johannesburglast_img read more

Choosing Triple-Glazed Windows

first_img Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details. Start Free Trial Already a member? Log in This article is only available to GBA Prime Memberscenter_img Since 1977, when Sweden introduced its stringent energy code, almost all new homes in Sweden have been equipped with triple-glazed windows. Here in the U.S., where energy codes are more lax, triple-glazed windows are still rare.For a minority of U.S. builders, however — especially cold-climate builders of superinsulated homes — triple-glazed windows are considered essential. Since few U.S. manufacturers offer high-solar-gain triple-glazed windows, most Americans get these windows from Canadian manufacturers.Look for a low U-factor and a high SHGCIn any climate, a window with a low U-factor performs better than one with a high U-factor. The lower the U-factor, the better. (For more information on low-U-factor windows, see “Passivhaus Windows.”)Most cold-climate builders want windows with a high solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and a high visible light transmittance (VT). After all, solar gain helps heat a house during the winter. During the summer, when solar heat gain is less desirable, a properly sized roof overhang will shade south-facing windows during the hottest hours of the day. (For more information on the desirability of windows with a high SHGC, see “High-Solar-Gain Glazing” and “Windows That Perform Better Than Walls.”)Most low-U-factor windows have a SHGC that is unacceptably low — at least for cold climates. Designers of cold-climate houses have to balance conflicting needs — the need for windows with a very low U-factor and as high a SHGC as possible. Most builders end up choosing triple-glazed windows with a U-factor ranging from 0.19 to 0.26 and a SHGC ranging from 0.39 to 0.47.The higher the visible light transmittance (VT), the better. Windows with a low VT look gray and depressing. To get an idea of what range you’re looking for, consider the advice of Robert Clarke, a technical specialist at Serious Energy and the former president of Alpen Windows. According to… last_img read more

5 Must-Know Tips for Working on Set

first_imgFilm Riot shares 5 tips for working as a grip that will land you more work on set.All images via Film Riot.Whether you’re just starting out or looking to move up in the film industry, helping out a friend or a local production is an excellent way to broaden your experience. Film Riot’s latest tutorial can help you land more gigs with tips for almost any job on set. Courtesy FlagAs Connolly puts it, one of the foremost duties of a grip is to make sure the DP, AC, or director is comfortable and that they can see the shot, monitor, and setup clearly. A courtesy flag is a great way to do this. The most common flag you’ll run into is a 4X solid or a “floppy.” If you’re dealing with wind, always clamp the flag so it doesn’t smack your DP. (You can also use the clamps to connect two flags for your video village setup.) Remember, your job is to make the lives of your DP and AC much easier.Operator SupportOffering support for your camera operator is one of the most important duties you’ll have on a shoot. After you’ve brought the apple box for your operator, making sure they are comfortable is the next step. Whether you use a stadium seat, a happy butt, or a yoga mat, make the camera op’s knees and back a top priority.Silence your DiffusionOne of the biggest issues if the DP decides to use opal diffusion is the sound caused by rough wind. Two avoid this, grab two styrofoam cups from crafty and tape them facedown on the diffusion. This will silence the disruption and make the audio recorder’s life much easier.Know Your FernyA sound blanket, furniture pad, or ferny can serve many purposes on set — it’s up to you how to use it. As the tutorial demonstrates, you can roll it up to help support your camera operator, lay it down to silence loud shoes, or block out unwanted light — among other things. Knowing all the different ways you can use a ferny will speed up production.Picking the Right ClampIf you’re working grips and electric, C-47s (simply a wooden clothespin) are common, but they break pretty easily. However, having a few zero clamps on hand will always improve your lighting setups and cable management. Virtually the same size as a C-47, the zero is the smaller version of a number 2 clamp. If you are in a rush and can’t find a zero clamp in time, little binder clips will get the job done as well, and they are more durable than C-47s.The duties of a grip change with each production. However, the goal will remain the same, no matter the size of the operation.Do you have tips for working on set? Let us know in the comments.last_img read more

Get Back On the Horse That Threw You

first_imgIt’s easy to fall off a horse, especially a difficult horse to ride. But it’s also easy to get right back on that horse.You have every intention of exercising daily and strengthening your physical body. But you miss a day, and now your streak is ruined. It’s very easy to decide that since you missed yesterday, there’s no reason to worry about missing today. It feels like you have to start over now.You committed to prospecting and developing new opportunities daily. But you got busy with existing client demands, and the day slipped by without you making a single outbound call. Yesterday was a wash, so now the week is ruined. You tell yourself you’ll start again next week, after you muster up the willpower to start over again. It’s easy to fall off the horse, but it’s just as easy to get back on. In order to do so, you can’t rationalize your failure to keep that single commitment for that single day. You failed to keep that commitment one day. Make no excuses. Today is a different day, and if you promised yourself you would do something this day, worry about that commitment. The very best thing you can do is start over with a clean slate and ride the horse today.You also can’t beat yourself up for having missed a single day and having fallen off the horse. There will be days when you don’t have the physical energy to do all that you need to do. There will be days when you don’t have the psychic energy to do what you promised yourself you would do. And there will certainly be days when the world makes other plans for you. Sometimes it won’t even be up to you whether not you do what you promised yourself you would do.No rationalizing. No judgment. Today is a different day. Pick up right where you left off, get back on the horse, and start riding it again.last_img read more

Beermen, Painters try to bolster Q’Final bid

first_imgFire hits houses in Mandaluyong City BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Read Next “Alaska is not a team you can relax against,” said RoS coach Caloy Garcia referring to the Aces. “We have to come out with the mentality of wanting to win rather than just playing the game.” MOST READ Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:33Leo Austria, SMB wary of ‘more experienced’ Hotshots ahead of PBA Finals rematch00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games LATEST STORIES Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  PH fighters bag 2 golds LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversarycenter_img Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine will shoot for wins on Wednesday that would push them closer to a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.And it’s not much of an advantage that the Beermen and the Elasto Painters will be facing teams that have scraped the bottom of the barrel. In fact, it could work against the two squads in the doubleheader at Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.ADVERTISEMENT Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president The Beermen take on Phoenix Fuel at 7 p.m., right after the 4:15 p.m. duel between the Painters and the Alaska Aces.San Miguel coach Leo Austria got first-hand experience how it is paying against a team with nothing to lose when the Beermen needed a big finish and a huge game from June Mar Fajardo to subdue KIA Picanto, 118-112, in what he aptly described as “an ugly win.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“It is a wake-up call for us,” said Austria who is hoping to bring to the illustrious franchise its second Grand Slam.Rain or Shine will also guard against complacency when it battles Alaska. E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad  Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa View commentslast_img read more

Talked out: Cavs drop 4th straight day after team meeting

first_imgMOST READ Thaddeus Young scored 26 points, Darren Collison had 25 and the Indiana Pacers sent Cleveland to its fourth straight loss, 124-107 on Wednesday night.James had 33 points and 11 assists, but it wasn’t enough to keep Cleveland from losing for the fifth time in six games and falling to 3-5.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutJames was upbeat following Sunday’s 19-point loss to New York and pointed out it was still October. He was in a far less positive mood Wednesday, saying three times, “It’s a new month.”The Cavaliers held a lengthy meeting before Tuesday’s practice to discuss their struggles, but the defending Eastern Conference champions have lost by a combined margin of 58 points in their losing streak. Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH The Cavaliers haven’t looked like the team that has been in three straight NBA Finals since winning their first two games.“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “We’ve got to do it ourselves.”Indiana showed little effect from playing the second end of a back-to-back. The Pacers rolled pastSacramento 101-83 on Tuesday and led for most of the first half.“It’s a big win for this young team,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “We knew Cleveland would come outwith a sense of urgency after losing their last three.”Lance Stephenson was assessed a flagrant one in the second quarter for hitting James in the groin area as the four-time MVP drove to the basket.James spent several seconds on the baseline hunched over in pain before walking to the bench while the officials looked at the replay. James made both free throws, sparking an 11-0 run.Derrick Rose had 19 points while Kevin Love had 13 points and 13 rebounds.BAD NUMBERJames tied a season high with eight turnovers.“That’s way too many,” he said. “I’ve been in the three or four range, but when you double that, that’s nota good ingredient for your team to be successful.” View comments LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, right, drives against Indiana Pacers’ Thaddeus Young in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)CLEVELAND — There’s not much more for the Cleveland Cavaliers to talk about.A day after a clear-the-air team meeting, LeBron James and his teammates didn’t get any better.ADVERTISEMENT Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion Read Nextcenter_img Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC PH team chief wants new facilities for nat’l athletes Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa “A lot of teams are playing well right now,” James said. “We’re not. That’s just a simple fact.”The Cavaliers still have issues to work out, especially on the defensive end. Cleveland led 69-68 in the third quarter, but Indiana hit four straight 3-pointers and built an eight-point lead.Indiana was 16 of 26 from 3-point range. Cleveland had allowed the second most 3-pointers in the league going into the game.Victor Oladipo scored 23 points for the Pacers. Bojan Bogdanovic added 17, and Domantas Sabonis had 15 points and 12 rebounds.Cleveland has battled injuries since training camp and was hit with another when forward Tristan Thompson left in the second quarter with a strained left calf. He exited the arena on crutches.ADVERTISEMENT QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games GOOD BALANCEEach of Indiana’s five starters scored in double figures and combined for 106 points.“That’s what we’re doing, winning games by committee,” Young said. “We’re moving the ball and trusting each other. I love playing with this team.”CLOSING INJames will likely reach two personal milestones Friday against Washington. He’s eight points away from becoming the seventh player with 29,000 in his career. James can also extend his streak of double-figure scoring games to 800. The last time he didn’t score 10 in a regular-season game was Jan. 5, 2007 inMilwaukee, where he had eight.TIP-INSPacers: Bogdanovic took a knee to the head from Dwyane Wade, who was leaping trying to block his shot in the fourth quarter, but stayed in the game. … C Myles Turner worked out before the game, but remains in the concussion protocol.Cavaliers: Thompson had eight rebounds and two points in 14 minutes. He had one point, no rebounds and four fouls in 19 minutes Sunday. … G Iman Shumpert (sore right knee) has missed the last two games.UP NEXTPacers: Visit Philadelphia on Friday night. Indiana has won 12 of the last 14 in the series.Cavaliers: Visit Washington on Friday night.last_img read more

Congress(I) holds training camps to tone up party, make it fighting fit for 1985 polls

first_imgRajiv (left) and Tariq Anwar at a Youth Congress(I) meeting: Management therapyIt might have passed off as a workshop of jet set professionals, crackling with high-tech lingo, embellished with neatly documented figures and complete with company-paid lunches. Like all management meets, it had its peaks and troughs of adrenaline level,Rajiv (left) and Tariq Anwar at a Youth Congress(I) meeting: Management therapyIt might have passed off as a workshop of jet set professionals, crackling with high-tech lingo, embellished with neatly documented figures and complete with company-paid lunches. Like all management meets, it had its peaks and troughs of adrenaline level and also its light moments of guarded executive humour. If the pin-stripes were missing, they were abundantly compensated for by the starchy rustle of white khadi uniforms. And, like in all business conferences, the few hundred participants were discussing the product, which is the Indian National Congress of Mrs Indira Gandhi; the immediate sales target – winning the 1985 general election; and the long-term marketing strategy of establishing unassailable monopoly in the future.Gone was the sight of pot-bellied Congressmen delivering pep talks while reclining on thick cushions, draped in white. Gone was the rush of toadies and hangers-on during a typical Congress session. Gone too were the truck-borne rent-a-crowds and the populist rallies. The ongoing orientation and training camps of the Congress(I) and its front organisations, taking place in New Delhi through most of the summer/monsoon months, were much more than the usual jamboree of the Congress kind. They released a highly motivated army of 4,000 Congress(I) workers who, before the year is out, will rope in a militia of one million Congressmen spreading the message of the party to virtually each of the 5,72,000 villages of the country. No deployment of this magnitude was ever ordered by any party in the country. Nor did the Congress gird up its loins so purposefully on the eve of any of the past seven parliamentary elections.Low Morale: It could not have been better timed for the party either. Even with 352 MP’s in the 542-member Lok Sabha, the party’s morale had sunk to its lowest depth. None of the 25 Pradesh Congress Committees(I) (PCC-I), which is supposed to- be the. fulcrum of the party, had been elected by the members.advertisement Even the District Congress Committees(I) (DCC-I) units, all 327 of them, have been nominated ad hoc and have been foisted on the organisation from Delhi, like the PCC(I)’s. The image of the party among the more sensitive urban middle class was that of a wild bunch of rapacious politicians clinging to Mrs Gandhi because she was nothing more than a meal ticket.The Congressmen’s track record in government has also sunk unspeakably low: A.R. Antulay, Gundu Rao, Jagannath and Ram Lai providing some of the latest grim examples.There was also the painful realisation that the Congress(I)’s triumphal return to power in 1980 might not be repeated. The Sanjay brigades who spearheaded that victory lay scattered, and the party suffered the humiliating loss of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, two states long considered to be its bastions, in the assembly elections early this year. In 12 out of 23 Lok Sabha by-elections held in the country since 1980, its candidates have been defeated. Last year, it was re-elected in the two northern states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh with a much depleted strength: particularly in Haryana, it retained power by horse-trading in MLA’s rather than by the strength of its popularity. In Kerala, it no doubt ousted the Marxist-led government, but there too it had to join hands with others to establish a wafer-thin majority. In West Bengal, it improved its position in the assembly polls but was still lagging miles behind the Marxists.All the while, the downward droop of its electoral curve was only reflective of its diminishing popularity among the masses. Its ranks were criss-crossed by conflicting loyalties; its leadership lacked purpose; its ideology was reduced to a few phrases of well-meaning cliche which had lost relevance many years ago.Its members left the business of winning elections to Mrs Gandhi, their only insurance against bad times, and if they still stayed close to the party, it was just as ants stay close to crystals of sugar. The concept of training and motivation had been given a decent burial long ago.But, not any longer. The flurry of activity in the Congress(I) beginning from end-July, if not anything else, is normally what could be associated with a war command. It was time to shake the mothballs off the 1980 Congress(I) election manifesto: a manifesto implementation committee, headed by former minister Vidya Charan Shukla, therefore got going at once.Its activities have been marked by unaccustomed briskness, the committee having met six times since its inception in June, and having already submitted its first interim report. Shukla said the reports have relied heavily on “unorthodox channels of information” and are “factual and down-to-earth”.Said Ramachandra Rath, minister of state for petroleum and chemicals, and a member of the committee: “The main task is to fathom – for our own consumption – the gap already there between the 1980 election promises and the real achievement. Whenever there has been a shortfall, we have tried to understand the reasons.”advertisementThe committee is armed with extraordinary power: it can question the chief ministers of the party and can route its queries directly to Congress(I) ministers and office bearers in the states. It was also the hour to look clean before the public: hence, Youth Congress(I) commissars were despatched to places away from their homes to stay with the masses, snoop around at government offices, and file reports to the high command about corruption, bungling and inadequate implementation of the 20-point plan.And, when mere filing of reports was not enough, they were given the green signal to challenge the authorities. While the widespread establishments of the Congress(I), its impressive office buildings and its hierarchical committees remained intact, things were indeed happening at another level.For the first time, the party was realising that it was accountable for the actions of the Government; it was realising the need to reach over the shoulders of the administration. As Tariq Anwar, MP from Bihar and president of the Youth Congress(I) (YC-I), put it: “It is our government, not the administration’s. Before the electorate holds us responsible for the officials’ follies, we must put them right ourselves.”Heralding Change: The changes were triggered by a series of camps held in New Delhi. The earliest was the YC(I) camp commencing on April 13 (INDIA TODAY, May 15), only a month after Rajiv Gandhi, the prime mover of the operation shake-up, had assumed office as general secretary of the All India Congress Committee(I) (AICC-I) in charge of its front organisations, the VC(l) included.A Youth Congress training campFrom July 22, the Congress(I) Sewa Dal too held its camp, lending itself for the first time to any organisational discipline; the Dal was so far looked upon as a reservoir of obedient odd-job men. Close on its heels came a camp of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the students’ wing of the AICC(I), where, by way of a refreshing change, college-going boys and girls, many in their teens, participated. From August 1, however, the Congress(l) elders were summoned to AICC(I) training camps, divided into four for the four zones of the country.The PCC(I) office-bearers and the DCC(I) chiefs, fed for years only on the staple of factional politics, were given brainstorming lectures at the camps on topics ranging from history of the freedom movement to matters of high finance.The top floor of Jhankar, a large catering complex in the shadow of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, was converted into the venue for the lecture sessions, with Sewa Dal volunteers strictly regulating entry.advertisementRajiv with aides in the 2K, Motilal Nehru Marg office: Coordinated progressParty veteran Shankar Dayal Sharma, himself a former AICC(I) president, spoke on the Congress’s history: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, in a lecture aided with charts and diagrams, advised partymen on how they should defend themselves against the charges of financial bungling; External Affairs Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao provided the catch-line for the claim of achieving a foreign policy breakthrough; Home Minister P.C. Sethi expatiated on the party’s strategy to combat the pulls of regionalism; Mrs Gandhi inaugurated the camps while Rajiv rounded them off.The speeches were often heavy, the drawl punctuated by yawns hidden behind sleeves. The day’s sessions over, the delegates retired to their neatly furnished rooms on the eastern wing of the saucer-shaped Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, watching films on the video terminal placed in the lobby, or just relaxing.Still the camps had served their twin purpose: that of bringing Rajiv in close touch with a thousand Congress(I) functionaries; and of gently driving home the message that to be a Congressman meant something more than just lording over one’s private organisational fiefdom. They were also a reminder that the partymen themselves would have to fight the 1985 general elections, and they could not perhaps win a war by proxy. “The idea was clearly Rajivji’s”, said Jagdish Tytler, the goatee-sporting general secretary of the Delhi PCC(I) who, like many others attending the camps, marvelled at their “strict business-like approach”.Rajiv was indeed the mastermind behind the new burst of activity, the undisputed archangel to call out his flock to the electoral arena, and the supreme strategist of the party. He was the author of the party’s new diction and approach and the planner of each of its moves in recent times.Last fortnight, besides meeting the delegates at the camps, he met individually nearly 300 Congressmen including chief ministers, MP’s, MLA’s and leaders of the front organisations. In early August, when the constitution of the YC(I) was being amended, he sat up with its leaders till two in the morning, helping them draft the amended clauses to the last comma, and even checking out the bad phrases.The secretariat attached to his office at the AICC(I) headquarters on Akbar Road buzzed with activity, the pool-typists often working way past evening to prepare for him an assortment of papers – notes, manuals, letters, even accounting procedures. Each time he met a person, he dictated out brief minutes with a marginal noting in deep blue ink of the prescribed follow-up action.Says a person working in the AICC(I) office: “Everything is put on record in Rajiv Gandhi’s office. No other general secretary uses so much of paper as he does. I may also say that no other general secretary expends so much of labour on party affairs.”Building Bridges: This was surely not the first time that Rajiv was at a hailing distance from his partymen. He first began building bridges with the vast, amorphous mass of Congressmen way back in October 1980, four months after Sanjay’s tragic death, when, switching from aviation to politics, he organised from backstage an extravagant kisan rally in Delhi.After his election to the Lok Sabha in 1981, he began meeting partymen directly though discreetly. However, since his installation as a general secretary in March this year, Rajiv wasted no time to take over the controlling levers of the party.Chief ministers were jettisoned at his behest. PCC(I)’s were reshuffled lock, stock and barrel as he had wanted. Every dispute in the party was ultimately referred to him, and each warring faction reposed its final loyalty in him. He humoured all but kept his own counsel, freely using his growing clout to cram bitter pills down unwilling throats.The camps jolted the Congress(I) hierarchy, never quick at appreciating novelty or responding to changes. While private reactions alternated between stupefaction and muted scepticism, there was no dearth of encomiums showered on Rajiv in public.Said Raghunandanlal Bhatia, who owes his new post of president of the Punjab PCC(I) to Rajiv: “Shri Rajiv Gandhi is in total command of the party machine. He is providing a new, valuable guidance to the party.” Echoed M. Veerappa Moily, leader of the Congress(I) legislature party in the Karnataka Assembly: “We seem to have got a new lease of life. Thanks to Rajivji, there are a lot more programmes, guidelines and communications in the party now. Suddenly there’s so much of activity!”Rajiv is by no reckoning a man of eloquence, and there was nothing in his speeches delivered at the camps which could have set the Ganga on fire. But, given his flair for organisation, he readily grasped the practical significance of the meetings.In an interview he gave recently said of the training programmes: “This…is a one-year programme based on building a sizeable cadre strength of 1 million to 1.5 million by the end of next year. If the message goes down in depth it will be a major achievement with the involvement of 70 per cent to 80 per cent. Once this formidable number get the message it will constitute an impressive gain in quality as well as quantity.”The “message” itself was hardly unique: identify with the masses; assess the work of the Government, and implementation of poll promises first hand; bury the factional squabbles; and, above all, get ready for the polls.There was no clear ideological line discernible anywhere. On the contrary, Pranab Mukherjee and P.C. Sethi spoke on their respective charges as though they were arming the partymen with plausible replies to the most likely opposition charges at the election time.What struck observers was not the content of the speeches but the clockwork organisation that Rajiv was attempting to build.Significant Force: Significant emphasis was attached to a nation-wide mobilisation of the Sewa Dal, 372 of whose instructors were trained in Delhi in a two-week session. They will raise in the next two months a force of 20,000 people, who, in their turn, will build up an auxilliary force of 7 lakh. “We want to have two Sewa Dal volunteers for each of the three-and-a-half lakh election booths in the country.” said C.M. Stephen, the party’s vociferous ideologue and general secretary of the AICC(I) in charge of the training camps.Mrs Gandhi addressing Congress workers outside the Red Fort: Formidable forceThe Dal is surely not going to take any chances: the camp witnessed a long and arduous training of these sturdy people, dressed in coarse khadi trousers and sporting khadi caps, undergoing training in unarmed combat. “They must know how to protect themselves,” said Navin Bhai, chief organiser of the Dal, with an enigmatic smile.The camps were far from an all-male affair. The women’s wing of the party, hibernating for long under a soporific leadership, had all of a sudden woken from slumber. The delegates included a brand-new crop of post-university women, polite and pretty, attending special sessions and scrawling out on their note-sheets the strategy of action: fanning out in their areas; organising campaigns against dowry; holding evening classes for uneducated women; counselling on family planning. Many of the girls had just come in from the fringes of feminist organisations and were much better educated than the sisterhood of traditional Congress women. The Congress(I) legal aid cell for women organised walks in Delhi and other metros, and provided legal defence in a large number of dowry victimisation cases.Many of the DCC(I) chiefs and youth workers were meeting Rajiv for the first time, and carried their experience of the man to their home towns. To many of them, the AICC(I) headquarters in the capital had so far seemed to be a remote symbol of authority without people they could relate to and almost totally fenced in by its own bureaucracy.Said Hargian Singh, president of east Delhi DCC(I), who participated in the camps: “Rajivji is not like an ordinary politician who would command his men from a distance. There is a personal touch in his relationship with the party.”The personal touch was manifest in the detailed exercise that the YC(I) has now embarked on sending droves of its middle-rank workers, or coordinators, out to districts away from their home states to report directly to the capital on practically every aspect of the Congress(I) party and the local administration.The 434 coordinators, carefully picked from a few thousand applicants by Rajiv’s deputies, brought in a whiff of fresh air in the stale corridors of the traditional YC(I), riven by the spill-over factionalism of the parent body, and generally playing second fiddle to the PCC(I)’s.They were a cut above the rank and file of the YC(I) in every way. Each of them is a graduate. Of the first lot of 217, as many as 59 held postgraduate degrees. Over a dozen are professionals including doctors, engineers and business executives.Rajiv assigned Deba Prasad Ray, an unobtrusive youth leader from West Bengal and one of the general secretaries of the YC(I), the task of selecting the coordinators. Their curricula vitae were checked in New Delhi, and their referees were questioned by YC(I)’s central team visiting each recruiting zone. Finally they were called for written and oral tests, “just as”, said one of them, “the personnel department chief of a corporation would interview us for a managerial post”. They were asked to pen out brief notes on a variety of subjects: on India’s poverty, on how to ensure a larger flow of resources to the villages, on the Congress tradition, on the freedom movement, on the international situation, even on ecology and society.Said Ray: “Their writings were checked for depth and imagination, for grammar and diction. Modern psychometric methods were applied to size them up for commitment, loyalty and qualities of leadership. They were literally put under the gaze of a mental microscope. I must say that those who made the grade finally are a fine specimen of humanity, a type that any party would be proud to own.”After the six-week orientation in the capital, they were despatched by the last fortnight to each of the “target districts”‘ in groups of two. Each was given an allowance of Rs 500 – not a princely sum but still entailing an expenditure of Rs 2.13 lakh every month from the party’s central coffers.The local MP’s of the Congress(I) were asked to put them up and provide them with transport. In most cases they didn’t; nevertheless, the youths, all in the 25-28 age group, managed to survive even though the lie of the land was not known to them and the local party units treated them as strangers. Anand Prakash Sharma, the coordinator selected from Haryana, was assigned to the sun-baked, sandy Osia block in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, where, in the absence of anything to ride on, he walks every day 13 km from his temporary residence to the villages and footslogs all the way back.Bimal Jain and Narendra Dev, one from Madhya Pradesh and the other from Uttar Pradesh, were sent to Katihar district in Bihar, the home town of Anwar, where they have been pedalling down the village dirl-roads everyday on their own bicycles, stopping by the jhopar-pattis to interview casual labourers, calling on the manager of the local branch of the nationalised bank for some intensive statistics about loans, and even literally counting the number of saplings planted by the Forest Department under the afforestation programme.Detailed Data: The first batch of coordinators, with the help of a second tier of youth motivators – 30 in each district – and the last tier of rural youth workers – 200 in every district-have been sending in piles of raw data every week.(From left) coordinators Dev and Jain, data processor Bakshi and Deba Prasad Ray: “Meaningful work”The data pours into the new, whitewashed office of the YC(I) monitoring cell on Raisina Road, sparsely furnished with only a desk, a few chairs and rows upon rows of filing cabinets. Anuradha Bakshi, the YC(I) worker who looks after the data pool, is an attractive 26-year-old who recently resigned her lecturership in the French department of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, “to put in more meaningful work”.She underwent a crash course in computer programming, and will take charge of the computer that is shortly to be installed at the cell. At the moment, she and her two assistants condense, rewrite and file the mass of reports coming in from the coordinators, with a self-approving earnestness that shows on their faces and the late hours that they put in.The processed reports, which unfailingly go up to Rajiv at the end of the week, often make interesting reading. They are invariably marked by a certain cheekiness and candour, qualities that the Congressmen seemed to have irretrievably lost ever since the Union Jack went down to make way for the tricolour in 1947. Examples:Om Prakash Panday and C.S. Yadav, coordinators posted at Lohardaga in Bihar, write that the local administration and the Congress(I) are in collusion with the mafia operating in the mica mines of the area.They say the local bank officials have been forcing the tribals to “pay commissions” on loans and that some leaders of the local Congress(I) are a party to “this system of exploitation”.Jain and Dev report from Katihar that the 20-point programme has been implemented “only within five kilometres of the district town”. They say that the district officials levy a “10 per cent cut” on every loan under the programme, and that “a half of the tube-wells sunk under the programme are unserviceable”.Sharma reports from Osia in Jodhpur a series of examples of bureaucratic bungling, and sums up pithily with the words that “the 20-point programme is implemented only on paper and is in fact a source of income not for the poor, who are the intended beneficiaries, but for the officials entrusted with its implementation”.B.P. Chowdhury reports from Ranchi that the local Congress(I) is gradually losing ground to the Marxists and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha because the party MLA’s have substituted the 20-point programme with their one-point programme, that of “feathering their own nests”.The fact that the coordinators, strangers as they are to the local intrigues of the neighbourhood, have no axe to grind in the district-level politics lends a new element of honesty to the reports.They have tried to drag out under the public gaze the hidden truth behind the strident claims of success in implementing the 20-point programme as made frequently by the Congress(I) chief ministers. Ironically, these chief ministers have often trotted out evidence, which are mostly as thin as the paper on which they are advertised at government cost, claiming even over 100 per cent successful implementation of the programme. The coordinators, for instance, filed the most devastating reports from Bihar even though Jagannath, the state’s chief minister till mid-August, had all along claimed that his government’s success rate in the implementation of the programme was above 90 per cent.Implicit Trust: Rajiv retains the caution of the commercial pilot that he was, and is normally wary of discussing his findings in open forums of the party.But his implicit trust in the observations of his new youth brigade is being reflected in his increasing petulence with the traditional Congress(I) leaders and his diminishing confidence in their capacity to put the party in fighting trim.A close aide of Rajiv says that he recently blew up when a Union minister sidled up to him with lengthy reports of the implementation of tribal area uplift plans. “How I wish the tribals you say you’d helped were present here, and were in agreement with your statistics,” he reportedly snarled back.Even at the PCC(I) office-bearers’ and DCC(I) chief’s camp in Delhi, when the Bihar contingent complained to him about the “new Youth Congress boys” trying to ride roughshod over them, he exploded, saying: “I know your exact worth. You can’t solve your own problems of factionalism, and you think you can solve the problems of the nation? Please don’t create hurdles for the boys who are doing an excellent job and do your own work.”Sitting serenely in his AICC(I) office at room number seven of the building, and keeping his own hours, Rajiv has a flair for insulating himself from the general atmosphere of cynical intrigue and petty-mindedness of the place. His room, complete with the charts, the diagrams and a shiny mahogany working desk that seats three on each side, is totally insulated from the office. The other general secretaries, occupying neighbouring rooms, are often blissfully unaware of his true intentions and the real motives underlying his actions. The Working President. Kamalapati Tripathi, for instance, was recently trying to convince newsmen assembled in his house about the seeming permanence of Jagannalh’s tenure in Bihar: “He’ll stay in power,” Tripathi said, “don’t you know that he came to my house the other day to seek my blessings?”The exercise was indeed redolent of the theatre of the absurd, because the same morning a message had gone out from Rajiv and Mrs Gandhi to Jagannath, asking him to resign.For Rajiv, it was as speedy as growing-up could be. There is no evidence that he was even remotely interested in politics till Sanjay’s death in 1980, after which Mrs Gandhi summoned him to fill the void, unobtrusively at first, but with more vigour later on. Once parachuted onto the political scene, he fast realised his limitation that he could not perhaps emerge, unlike his mother and his illustrious grandfather, as a leader of the masses. Nehru had fired the imagination of an entire generation by assuming the vanguard role in the freedom movement, which was essentially a moral struggle.Mrs Gandhi, with her image of a lone woman fighting against persistent odds, had become synonymous with a Joan of Arc-type bravery. But, for Rajiv, joining politics was only a smooth take-off, facilitated by the fact of his birth.He had a long way to climb and fly, unaided by charisma, special charm, and, as one of Mrs Gandhi’s former aides wryly says, “unaided by history”.Even Sanjay, who was dropped on the political scene with similar suddenness, had a chequered phase of the country’s recent political history to catapult him on a high perch. The extraordinary and extra-constitutional powers he had wielded during the Emergency enabled him to slide into the armour-plate to terror – a useful component of leadership in India.The following 30 months of Janata rule put to test his feisty calibre as a street-fighter: he stormed the law courts, rustled up his own squad of goons, and won the game whose rules he had himself set.Clockwise from top left) Antulay, Pahadia, Bhosale and Jagannath: Shedding liabilities An unabashed champion of free enterprise, and free from most of the Fabian socialist dogmas of the Nehru era, Sanjay was the last stormy petrel of Congress politics.Rajiv entered around a stable, and unexciting, phase – at a time when the rot had set in from within. Disunity was at its peak. The scandals involving A.R. Antulay had besmirched the reputation of the entire party.A gang of petty bureaucrats and office assistants had encircled the prime minister and had acquired clout. The top ministers were a bunch of Lilliputians trying to make up for their inefficiency with loud professions of loyalty to Mrs Gandhi. The Augean stables were rendered still more daunting by the fact that there was no second line of leadership in sight. The 150-odd new MP’s whom Sanjay had brought into the Lok Sabha for the first time were essentially one-function robots: they knew how to win elections, and not much else.It limited Rajiv’s choice to a degree of hopelessness. On the plus side, he knew that the party was so dependent on Mrs Gandhi for its survival that there would be hardly any revolt against his taking charge.On the other hand, he had to bear the heavy cross of the 1980 poll-winning slogan-‘elect the government that works’-which was a promise that could hardly be fulfilled with the human material at his disposal.”Things became no doubt a bit chaotic since 1980,” said C.M. Stephen, in what might have been the understatement of the year.Personal Friendships: Rajiv dithered for a while, pretending to “help mummy”, while actually having his hairline recede further in an effort to get a hang of things in the Congress(I).The vacuum in the party impelled him to turn towards the people whom he had known closely for years in personal life: such as Arun Nehru, the MP, well-known for his bulldozing ways; Arun Singh, the quiet organiser who helped him experiment with advanced management ideas in politics; Vijay Dhar, the Kashmiri pandit with a cool head and a flair for public relations.Beside putting together a coterie of aides, he relied more and more on the relatively unspoilt elements of the YC(I). After March, when he formally took over as AICC(I) general secretary, he has openly tilted the scale in favour of the youth. Some instances:Vinod Sharma, one of the YC(I) general secretaries, has now been appointed a PCC(I) general secretary in the troubled state of Punjab;Arun Kumar Singh, another YC(I) general secretary, is now one among the Uttar Pradesh PCC(I) general secretaries;Jagdish Tytler, a former president of the Delhi unit of the YC(I), is now a general secretary of the Delhi PCC(I); and,Harbhajan Singh, the former president of the Himachal Pradesh YC(I), is now a general secretary of the state PCC(I).Clearly, Rajiv’s “education programme” extends much beyond what it outwardly seems: it involves building up a party within a party, avoiding fuss, and – as is typical of Rajiv – without attracting a lot of public attention. Although Rajiv has begun to open up to the media, for example, he is cautious and calculated in his access, choosing his moment and the outlet. The only exception is the liberal attention given to him in the government media, All India Radio and Doordarshan (INDIA TODAY, August 31).In a similar vein, Rajiv’s approach to his work is methodical and systematic. His methods are outlined in the note on the YC(I) training programme, drafted entirely by him. It has an instruction carrying the curious headline: “Important collaboration stages before any confrontation is launched”. It exhorts the YC(I) coordinator to take the following steps “assuming that the administrator is indifferent to the 20-point programme”.The coordinator should at first discuss with him the problem and “try to convince him”;failing which, he should meet the administrator “along with several group leaders” and send a report to the local party or district organisation;if that fails, he should send a report to the state organisation of the party;and as last resort, “active confrontation backed by local groups should be organised”, with district, state and central leaderships to be treated as “go ahead”.Ray describes the new militancy as a vindication of the “age old values” that the Congress(I) stands for, that of complete identification with the masses and “standing by the poor”.He says: “The poorer people have all along voted for us, whereas we have been led by the richer sections. Rajivji’s efforts will for the first time resolve this inherent dichotomy. We are training an army for him.” Ray’s reverie apart, the novelty of Rajiv’s approach seems to have caught on.Gimmickry: This was in stark contrast to Mrs Gandhi’s populist phase between 1969 and 1971, when she converted her minority presence in the Lok Sabha to a massive majority by a series of gimmicks with hardly any involvement of the party.Anwar and Rajiv overseeing a camp: Novel approachOnly once, in 1975, when D.K. Borooah was the AICC(I) president, a cadre-training drive was initiated, though with limited effect. That was in the thick of the Emergency when the party had entirely alienated the middle class by its absolutist stance and Borooah’s lone voice in favour of the abiding values of the Congress was liable to be interpreted as a comic interlude.Nor is there any evidence that Mrs Gandhi ever thought of building up the party from below upwards. Says K.P. Unnikrishnan, a far-left Congressman even during the Emergency days and now a leader of the Congress(S): “She is a mass leader of sorts, but she had never been a party leader as such. In fact, she had always taken the party for granted.”Even after her ignoble defeat in 1977, she rode the crest of a negative wave against the Janata rule, projecting only herself on the political horizon, keeping herself busy on her barnstorming tours, and leaving the affairs of the party to the hands of Sanjay. Decades earlier, when her father was alive and she had become the AICC(I) president, there was hardly any evidence of her greater involvement in party affairs, which used to be looked after by S.K. Patil, Atulya Ghosh and K. Kamaraj.Said H.N. Bahuguna, president of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), a former secretary-general of the Congress(I), and a know-all of Congress affairs: “Mrs Gandhi, as I know her, is not a party-person at all. She is a mass leader, and will always remain so.” In the Congress(I) circles, stories still do the rounds of Mrs Gandhi not being able to recognise PCC(I) chiefs and important party dignitaries.Rajiv too is not much of a party man. Right now, his efforts aim at bypassing the present party hierarchy rather than making it serviceable again. The recruitment of coordinators is a good start: but, Rajiv cannot overnight disregard the imperatives of Indian politics which has a strong element of the satrap system, with individual families or caste groups holding sway over particular regions.For instance, he wanted to replace the ad hoc office-bearers of the Congress(I) with elected representatives, and prompted the party leadership to make a commitment that internal elections would be held by October 1982.Limitations: They did not come about except in five states, thanks to the party’s factionalism and internecine squabbles. Says Stephen: “Election presupposes an electorate, which, in the context of a party, means members who have been properly enrolled.And this is a vicious circle: if you don’t have properly elected party committees, you don’t have members; if you don’t have members, you don’t have party committees.” But, the factor that really stood in the way of inner-party elections was not any technical snag as Stephen suggests but the basic truth that Congressmen could never agree on a consensus “electorate”: often the membership forms of the party were forged and duplicated, and the high command played the role of helpless bystander.Rajiv at the Sewa Dal camp: Building up a cadreRajiv’s writ seldom runs beyond the neophytes and those who are overly anxious to be on his right side. As a matter of fact, the Rajiv idolatry which is evident in New Delhi has not permeated much down the state and the district levels.The traditional Congressmen disregard Rajiv’s injunctions whenever it suits their purpose. For instance, the anti-chief minister dissidents from Bihar, Rajasthan and Haryana descended on Delhi in hundreds even though Rajiv had explicitly ordained that they should not flock to the capital each time they had to ventilate their grievances against the leadership. He said the dissidents should not rush to the press with their complaints against the chief ministers; yet, there was no let-up in their issuing press statements.It is doubtful if the high-pressure selling of Rajiv and his new ideas will really infect the PCC(I) offices in the state capitals, and the levels further down. At the PCC(I) offices, Rajiv’s portraits are not yet as conspicuously on display as even Sanjay’s, even though Sanjay died over three years ago.Under Rajiv’s leadership, if the old order in the states changeth, it does so only too slowly and too little. In Gujarat, for instance, the talking point in the Congress(I) circles now is not so much what Rajiv is going to do, but what is the latest in the battle of attrition between Madhavsinh Solanki, the chief minister, and Jinabhai Darji, the PCC(I) chief.In West Bengal, the impact of Rajiv on the PCC(I) and the YC(I) is minuscule: “He has to be tolerated as long as madam is there,” cynically remarked a young MLA holding a key portfolio in the West Bengal PCC(I).So far, the traditional Congressmen have had a rather favourable experience of Rajiv, their consensus being reflected in key words like “mild-mannered”, “pleasant” and “accommodating”.One reason for it may be that while supervising the distribution of nominations for the assembly polls during the last two years he did not thrust himself too much, and did not offend the entrenched pressure groups. But, if he seriously intends to bring the coordinators up to the forefront, the “pleasant” exterior will wear off.In 1971, Mrs Gandhi could bring a new team into the Lok Sabha because she was not weighted down by a legacy of the past: she had split the party only two years ago. In 1980, Sanjay brought in his own team for a similar reason – the 1978 split. Rajiv does not have the advantage of such a safety valve to let off the steam.The camps are undoubtedly an attempt to inculcate discipline into an otherwise unruly party, given to agitating on patently selfish grounds and functioning purely on considerations of group or clan loyalty. Their impact on the YC(I) will be much greater than on the older Congressmen who, as an aide of Rajiv said, quoting an apt saying in Hindi, are like “old parrots who never learn to sing”.Naturally, Rajiv hopes for a rapid downward filtration of the rigorous training imparted to the coordinators at the YC(I) camps, so that the 125,000 trained YC(I) personnel take up positions in the villages before the elections are called.Continuing Process: “The process will definitely not stop with the elections,” said G.K. Moopanar, another general secretary of the AICC(I), pointing out a clause in the amended 1974 constitution of the party which states that no Congressman without the experience of attending training camps is eligible to contest for any party post.But nearly everyone in the AICC(I) privately admits that the constitution is a mere formality, and that the new crop of people occupying top places in the Government since 1975, the year of the Emergency, have little or no political culture.Explained Stephen: “Mrs Gandhi had little or no respite ever since the party split for the first time in 1969 and again in 1978. There was thus little scope for choosing workers, for training them up. It was a war-like situation right through, and we had to accept whoever was on our side.” Whether Rajiv can now hone the Congress(I) into a creative set-up is a question which only the future can answer. In a recent interview, Rajiv carefully skirted the basic issue: in which direction does he want the country to be led?When he was asked why in India the rich have grown richer and the poor poorer, his disarmingly innocent answer was that it happened because of the “traditional reasons”: he said the people of Punjab, Haryana and Tamil Nadu, being “quite aggressive”, have “cornered all the developmental works”.Rajiv also conducted election campaigns actively in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Jammu & Kashmir, but never did he pronounce the kernels of his basic thoughts on the economy, politics and society. Even in formal interviews, he generally avoids questions that might draw him out of his shell and force him to comment on the gut-issues – such as the almost colonial bureaucracy, the anti-business taxation and licensing procedures, the low productivity of labour, the pampering of the public sector, and the plunder of public resources carried out by paying lip-service to socialism. “Neither riff nor raff”: the 1981 aphorism about Rajiv seems to have stuck relentlessly.In managing the party, his key phrase is “competent working methods”. And to him, “competence” is an input, even in politics. “We have professionals in transactional analysis and like techniques, which will introduce new and competent working methods (of party management),” he said recently.But, with the clock already ticking towards the 1985 elections, can he put all his trust on his greenhorn coordinators, all steeped through in the jargon of “effective leadership”? On the other hand, he has to contend with the cumulative clout of 17 Congress(I) chief ministers and over 400 state ministers of the party – all carrying a labyrinth of vested interests and localised pressure groups. The lesson of the Congress(I) defeat in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh proved that the people had judged the party not in terms of “Indiramma”, nor Rajiv (‘the man who made the Asiad a success’), but by the image, reputation and performance of the state governments.The record of the Congress(I) governments in Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh or Orissa is not a whit better than that of the Gundu Rao administration in Karnataka.After shaking off his early coyness, Rajiv experimented with the familiar maxim: “If you can’t beat’em, join’em.” There was sycophancy unleashed (INDIA TODAY, January 31, 1982) by the party’s entrenched Sanjay brigade who thought there would be business as usual behind the change of guards at 1, Safdarjung Road.Some of Rajiv’s personal acts confirmed the impression: tolerated for a while the indefensible actions of A.R. Antulay, saying that there was nothing “illegal” in his controversial trusts; he allowed Gundu Rao, the former Karnataka chief minister, to felicitate him in Bangalore in an obscene display of toadyism; even as late as 1982, he remained a silent spectator when Bhajan Lai carried out horse-trading in MLA’s in Haryana.But before long he realised that he was riding a tiger, and his”priorities shifted. Rajiv may axe a few of the chief ministers in the months to come, but he cannot replace the culture of the party in 15 months.On the contrary, he at times has to come to terms with it. For instance, though his antipathy to T. Anjiah, Bhavanam Venkataram and M. Channa Reddy – all former chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh – is well-known, he could not but accommodate all of them when the PCC(I) executive was reconstituted last month. In Bihar, he gave marching orders to Jagannath, yet retained five of the former chief minister’s men in the new cabinet. Though projecting himself as a modern man, and not a believer in castes, he had to go into the caste composition of the ministers carefully each time requests for the green signal to reshuffle cabinets came to him from the chief ministers. The same wariness is reflected in his hesitation to change Darbara Singh, the ineffective chief minister of Punjab, or in sorting out the nagging internecine feuds in as many as four partly units – Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.Electoral considerations, again, stand in the way of changing the chief ministers too often. Mrs Gandhi, in consultation with Rajiv, tried it in Andhra Pradesh where four chief ministers were changed in two years. It did not go down well with the electorate, and the party paid dearly for it.Indian Realities: Mrs Gandhi recently in an interview with The Times of lndia, referred to the British Broadcasting Corporation serial. Yes Minister, to buttress the argument that shifting personnel was an integral part of democratic working. Maybe Rajiv shares the view too; but, between intention and action, falls the shadow of the Indian reality.Given a chance, Rajiv would go to the electorate in 1985 leading the column of his new drummer boys, sanitized against the epidemic of factionalism and computer-tested for “effective leadership”, “power of articulation”, and all such virtues which are copiously lauded in manuals of modern management.There is as yet little evidence that Rajiv has been able to size up the resistance that will be offered when the election drums roll, and he really tries to throw his weight about in the distribution of party tickets.If he wants to put his new methods to the litmus test, he has to act around that time, ruthlessly sweeping the broom to clear the accumulated cobwebs of the past, bringing into the centre-stage his trained personnel, and meeting the threat of internal revolt on his own terms.Those who feel threatened by Rajiv’s new stance so far continued to say homilies to him only with the hope that he would apply his scalpel too deep and too extensively. Sanjay too had applied his scalpel in 1980: but he had the double-billing of leading a party not in power, and leading it against a tottering enemy.The Opposition is still disunited on a national level. But the regional parties are firmly in the saddle; such as the Marxists in West Bengal and Tripura, the Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagarh in Tamil Nadu and the National Conference in Jammu & Kashmir. The recently forged alliance between the Lok Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party is a formidable adversary in a sizeable part of the Hindi-speaking north. The Janata Party is now a force to reckon with in Karnataka and Bihar, just as the Congress(S) cannot be written off in Maharashtra. Opposition from within the Congress(I) may make that marginal difference between victory and defeat. If Rajiv wants to quell it, he has to leave his brave new team in the lurch. If he wants to face it head on, he makes his task doubly difficult. If he still wins the electoral battle, the saga will go down as the triumph of management over politics.last_img read more

DOUBLE ACHIEVMENT FOR FAMILY COMBOS

first_imgWhen most people say `the family combo’ you think of KFC or your local fish and chip shop…but in this case I’m talking about the Australian Under 18 Development Camp.Remarkably, the group of 40 of Australia’s most promising Touch players contains 3 sibling combinations, with two of those being twins.There’s Steve Naughton and older brother Scott from the Southern Suns, quick stepping twins John and Maurice Kennedy and the Clarkson girls; Megan and Rebecca (good luck telling them apart!)All of the pairs are quick to agree they push each other competitively, each challenging the other and helping them to improve individually.“Being a twin often people assume there is rivalry, however in our case as much as we may look very much alike we are very different people with different personalities. We do not experience rivalry as such, but we are competitive and strive to do our best on every occasion and this brings the best out of each of us especially when we are playing together,” said Megan.The Clarkson twins are obviously excited about sharing this opportunity together. Rebecca, who represented QSST at the National Under 18 Championships, while Megan played for SunCoast, is excited about sharing the experience with her sister.“We’re both looking forward to having the opportunity to be coached by different people and to gain their knowledge and further insight into the game. We’re eager and ready for the intensity of the camp and the challenge of pushing ourselves to another height while improving our skill level,” said Rebecca. The Naughton brothers have shared their story with the Touch world before, having a story written on them at the 2005 National Under 18 Championships. When interviewed at that event, they were quick to agree that growing up together and playing together has definite advantages.“We both keep each other grounded, if one of us does something wrong the other isn’t afraid to let them know about it,” said Scott.“We read each other pretty well. Often we don’t even have to say anything and the other knows what we’re going to do,” said Steve.For twins John and Maurice Kennedy their selection alongside each other began with NSWCHS at the 2004 National Under 18 Championships.However, it was quickly put on hold when Maurice suffered a serious neck injury pre-tournament, an injury that could have ended his career right there and then.After two operations and extensive recovery and rehabilitation, Maurice was back on the Touch field, quick stepping his way to selection, again alongside his brother John for the 2005 NSWCHS side.They made their way to the grand final, where they were defeated by a red hot Southern Suns side, including the Naughton brothers.Despite the grand final loss, both John and Maurice were excited by their Australian selection and keen to make an impact at the camp. With all three family combos not only being pushed by the nature of the camp and the other players around them, the added incentive of competing alongside their brother or sister is also exciting.The Clarkson girls could be following in the steps of the Judd sisters, Barr sisters or Winchester girls.For the Naughton and Kennedy brothers, they could be the next Farrow brothers, McDonald brothers or Cheung brothers.Make sure you remember these young players, one day we may be seeing them taking the field for Australia together in a World Cup or Trans Tasman.last_img