A Kashmiri boy near frozen water in Tangmarg, north of Srinagar on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad Kargil town in the Ladakh region was the coldest place in J&K at -20 degrees Celsius. Life moved at a snail’s pace in nearby Leh town at -14.2 degrees Celsius. It was the coldest night of the season so far in Leh and Kargil. Kashmir is currently under the grip of Chillai-Kalan a 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably. It ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in the valley. The MeT office said there was possibility of light rain or snow at isolated places, especially in the higher reaches, today and tomorrow. Normal life crawled at -20 degrees Celsius in Kargil in the cold desert of Ladakh even as temperatures remained several degrees below the freezing point elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley. Light rain or snow at isolated places over the next 48 hours may add to the discomfiture, the weatherman said.Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, had a low of -3.9 degrees Celsius, a MET department official said. The mercury in Qazigund in south Kashmir settled at a low of -4.4 degrees Celsius. The nearby town of Kokernag recorded a low of -2.5 degrees Celsius. Kupwara in north Kashmir quivered at -3.6 degrees Celsius. The world famous ski resort of Gulmarg reeled under freezing -6 degrees Celsius. The night temperature in Pahalgam, which also serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath Yatra, had a minimum of -4.5 degrees Celsius.
Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games NGCP on security risk: Chinese just technical advisers Portugal’s Ines Henriques celebrates after winning the gold medal and setting a new world record in the women’s 50-kilometer race walk during the World Athletics Championships in London Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)LONDON — The first women’s 50-kilometer walk at the world championships produced a world record.Ines Henriques of Portugal bettered her own mark on Sunday by finishing in 4 hours, 5 minutes, 56 seconds on the two-kilometer loop in central London.ADVERTISEMENT NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Football, Netball, Water polo bets open PH bid Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters LATEST STORIES The Frenchman’s time was the second fastest in history. Diniz set the world record of 3:32:33 in 2014.“A lot of training has gone into this – cycling, swimming – everything for this 50 (kilometer) walk,” Diniz said. “Last night I kept away from watching the TV because I did not want to get too excited. I went to bed at 9 because I knew it was going to be my day today.”Hirooki Arai was second in 3:41:17, two seconds ahead of Japanese teammate Kai Kobayashi in third.The 20-kilometer walks were also held Sunday. Yang Jiayu of China won the women’s event in a personal best time of 1:26:18. She beat Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez of Mexico by only 1 second.Antonella Palmisano of Italy was third in 1:26:36.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. DILG, PNP back suspension of classes during SEA Games Lyu Xiuzhi had been in line for bronze, but the Chinese walker was disqualified with about 50 meters to go.“In the last 100 (meters) I was in a hurry,” Lyu said. “I forgot that I already had a medal.”The men’s 20K was also close. Eider Arevalo beat 18-year-old Sergei Shirobokov of Russia by two seconds to win gold.The Colombian finished in 1:18:53. Caio Bonfim of Brazil was third in 1:19:04.Action will return to the Olympic Stadium later in the evening on the final day of the championships, and the United States is expected to add more to its medal haul in the 4×400-meter relays.American great Allyson Felix is favored to win a 16th world championship medal.Other finals are in the women’s 800, 5,000 and discus, and the men’s high jump and 1,500.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ View comments Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo “The last 5 (kilometers) were really tough,” said Henriques, whose previous world record was 4:08:26. “My goal was to go under 4 hours and 6 minutes.”Yin Hang was second in 4:08:58, followed by Chinese teammate Yang Shuqing in 4:20:49.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsOnly seven women started the race, which was being run at the worlds for the first time, and only four finished.In the men’s 50K, Yohann Diniz of France won in 3:33:12. At 39, Diniz is the oldest man to win a gold medal at the world championships. MOST READ Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side
The countdown has begun. In exactly five months from now the curtain will go up on what is easily the most ambitious project India has undertaken in recent years – the IX Asiad. On November 19, which also conveniently happens to be Mrs Gandhi’s 65th birthday, 5,000 athletes from 32,The countdown has begun. In exactly five months from now the curtain will go up on what is easily the most ambitious project India has undertaken in recent years – the IX Asiad. On November 19, which also conveniently happens to be Mrs Gandhi’s 65th birthday, 5,000 athletes from 32 countries representing the cream of Asian sport will assemble in New Delhi to battle for a total of 580 medals over the next 15 days.For the athletes, it will be a culmination of four years of blood, sweat and tears. Their triumphs and tragedies will be part of sporting history, half-buried in the mass of dry statistics. But the statistics will fail to reveal the real triumph of Asiad ’82 – the incredible saga of how the New Delhi Games became a reality. The real heroes of the Games will not be the lithe, finely-honed athletes but the faceless men who made the Asiad dream come alive.Stripped of the controversies that have dogged the frenetic scramble to physically make the Asiad a possibility; the political snakes and ladders that has taken place; the strident outcry of the environmentalists and the inevitable allegations of rake-offs, the Asiad project is undeniably a triumph of India’s technical and professional ability.It has been an Olympian race against time: a mere 20 months to erect five brand new, complex and state-of-the-art stadia and renovate and expand 12 more existing ones, apart from the other accompanying arrangements that entail the hosting of an international sporting meet of the magnitude of the Asiad. “It is the largest and most complex management exercise the country has undertaken so far,” boasts S.S. Gill, the stern-visaged secretary-general of the Special Organising Committee (SOC) for the Asian Games and a senior IAS officer.advertisementIndian cycling hopes practising in the velodrome with the indoor stadium in the backgroundAwesome Task: Even viewed statistically, the totality of material that has gone into the making of Asiad ’82 indicates the awesomeness of the task. Just the stadia alone have accounted for over 8 crore bricks, 100.000 tonnes of cement, 90,000 tonnes of steel and over 300 kilometres of cables and wires. Put end to end, the number of bricks alone would girdle the globe. The amount of cement and steel would be enough to erect a new township or build a dozen bridges. And that is segregated from the other beaver-like building activity that has disrupted normal traffic flow in the capital for the last two years and is undoubtedly very much a part of the Asiad project. This includes no less than seven flyovers, widening of 30-odd roads and 10 new five-star hotel projects, in itself a mammoth undertaking which has in one stroke changed forever the face of Delhi.By last fortnight, the biggest question mark that loomed over the Asiad project – the question of it being ready in time for the Games – had almost been obliterated. A majority of the stadia have long since lost their skeletal shape and are rapidly nearing completion. Last fortnight, the first of the flyovers was commissioned and an official D-day for the last of the project has been slated for September 1. Apart from the hotels, of which only two or possibly three will beat the deadline. Asiad ’82 will be go by that date if the current momentum continues.That, of course, will be the triumph. The tragedy is that the frantic and unrelenting round the clock pace at which the project has been operating was totally unnecessary. The vote to give New Delhi the Games was decided in Montreal as far back as 1976. Yet actual work on the project started in earnest only in 1981.Woman worker at the indoor stadium: Racing against timeIn between was a succession of disasters, all of them man-made and politically motivated, that seriously threatened to jeopardise the Games even before the first brick had been laid. India’s hesitant bid to host the Games predictably ran into a strong political headwind. Initially, it was brushed under the carpet amid the urgency of the 1977 general elections.Then came its biggest hurdle in the form of the Janata government which dithered over the issue of whether to hold the Games or back out. Typically, no decision was taken except the formation of an inevitable steering commitee under Vijay Kumar Malhotra. By the time the Janata government had dug its own grave in 1979. Asiad ’82 consisted of a handful of dusty and dogeared files. But bigger threats loomed ahead. Charan Singh, heading a shaky caretaker government at the Centre, dismissed the Asiad as a “costly tamasha” and one the country could ill afford.advertisementControversy: Meanwhile, the Asiad was embroiled in an unprecedented controversy over whether it should be held in Delhi or in neighbouring Haryana, where Chief Minister Bhajan Lal was making a desperate bid for its staging for reasons that again had very little to do with sport. Fortuitously for Asiad, while the Cabinet was debating Charan Singh’s directive to renege on hosting the Games, his government collapsed. The suspense, however, was only over in mid-January 1980, when Mrs Gandhi gave the Games the go-ahead at the first Cabinet meeting held by the new Congress (I) Government.Political delays, however, continued to dog the Games with the unsavoury dismissal of Malhotra as chairman of the Organising Committee and his replacement by V.C. Shukla, the then civil supplies minister. But once Shukla fell out of favour and was dropped from the Cabinet, his ouster from the Asian Games was only a matter of time. By the time the axe actually fell and Buta Singh, the vice-chairman of the committee and, ironically, Shukla’s replacement in the Civil Supplies Ministry, was elevated to chairman, 1980 was well on its way.Chetal (left) and Dass: Unique projectBut with Mrs Gandhi’s official blessings and the fact that son Rajiv and his personal kitchen cabinet were later actively involved in the Games, the Asiad nightmare gradually faded and the uncertainty gave way to increasing optimism. In late December 1980, Gill was appointed secretary-general of the SOC and a hand-picked team was selected with the help of Raja Bhalindra Singh, president, Asian Games Federation and president, Indian Olympic Association (IOA). Though packed with politicians, the 28 committees set up under the SOC to handle various aspects of the Games contained enough talent in the form of technocrats, senior service officers and bureaucrats to ensure that once established, the pace could be maintained.Costly Blunders: The delays and the drastically shortened time-span had, however, taken their toll. The original estimate of Rs 61 crore as the price-lag for staging the Games was soon made a mockery of by escalation, deliberate delays by contractors, some costly blunders and unforeseen expenses as a result of sheer inexperience. In fact, it is the spiralling cost of holding the Games that has given its detractors the most ammunition and labelled it in many quarters as an unaffordable extravagance. Appu, the prancing elephant, the IX Asiad’s mascot, has also become a symbol of the white elephant that many people believe the Games will be as far as the country is concerned.In fact, the myriad related controversies that have accompanied the preparations for Asiad have largely paled before the main controversy regarding its actual cost. There are alarming variations between the figures that have been given out in Parliament, the figures given by the SOC and the costs computed by people actually working on the Asiad sites. Parliament, for instance, has been repeatedly informed that the cost of staging the Games will work out to a mere Rs 61 crore.advertisementThe main stadium on Lodhi Road: Producing its own heroesThat, however, is the original estimate and bears not the slightest relation to the final total, which, if one includes the related activities – seven flyovers, widening of 30-odd roads, construction of 10 hotels, electrification of the ring railway – works out to over Rs 470 crore which is considerably less than the Rs 700 crore that is being bandied about but also infinitely higher than the official figures being handed out.Officials of the SOC conveniently delink their expenses to that incurred on the flyovers and hotels with the excuse that “these are all part of the metro’s normal requirements”. But there is no question that it is only because of the Asiad that they are being built now. The controversial School Lane flyover, for instance, was mooted as far back as 1962 – 20 years ago. But even accepting the SOC’S argument, their figures are definitely being underplayed.Their claim is that they have spent Rs 49 crore as capital cost on construction of the stadia with a 15-20 per cent escalation cost. Yet, according to engineers on site, the cost of the village alone will work out to over Rs 35 crore while the Indoor Stadium, the largest in Asia and the third largest in the world, will cost close to Rs 40 crore.The SOC’s total figure, which includes administrative expenses such as equipment, transport and furnishings estimated at Rs 18 crore, works out to Rs 77 crore. Again, according to official estimates, the revised cost of the stadia alone totals slightly over Rs 100 crore and with the cost of the expensive equipment imported for the Games, the actual total is nearer to Rs 150 crore. Seven flyovers and road widening activities have cost around Rs 35 crore while the 10 hotel projects together come to around Rs 280 crore. A fairly conservative estimate of the cost of the Games then is close to Rs 465 crore.(Clockwise from top left) Jayaraman, Sarma, Chawla and Rishi: Working under pressureThe irony, however, lies in the fact that even that figure is hardly an over-indulgence for something as mammoth and prestigious as the Asiad. Just one modern fertiliser project would cost more, and the Asiad is certainly destined to boost India’s international stature considerably alter the Games. Says SOC Chairman Buta Singh: “The Asian Games will put us firmly on the world sporting map. Once we have staged the Asiad successfully, India will have a much larger say in international decisions concerning sports. Many people don’t realise that with this, the number of votes India has in international federations are almost doubled. Apart from that, India is a major Asian power in everything except sport. We wanted to catch up and this was the best time. The very fact that we are staging the Games increases our status considerably.”Advantages: IOA President Raja Bhalindra Singh, a keen sportsman and the guiding spirit behind the Games, takes a longer and broader view. “I see it as a tremendous incentive for the youth of the country. For the first time, they have equipment and facilities that are the best available. Above all, it will channelise their energies into something worthwhile.” To illustrate this, he quotes the example of Thailand which was racked with serious student violence in the early ’60s.But once Bangkok established itself as an international sports centre (it has staged three Asiads since then), Thailand’s students have had more productive channels for their energies. On another plane, Japan is a classic example of the advantages that accrue from becoming an international sports centre. Before the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Japan was at the bottom of the sporting ladder. Since then, Japanese athletes have challenged the best in the world and have increased their medal tally, quite literally, by leaps and bounds.Indian grapplers at practiceBut even if the Games turn out to be an unqualified success, the question of whether they were necessary or not will continue to simmer. Arguably, the Rs 470 crore which the Games will cost, and that is a highly conservative estimate, is Rs 200 crore more than the total investment in village and small industries for the 1981-82 Plan allocations.If invested in small industries, it could have provided employment for over two million people. But that is largely an academic exercise, which always comes back to the crucial point – if India wants to play in the Big League and wants the facilities to do so, the cost factor is justified. If, however, the facilities are left to rot after the Games and the staging of Asiad ’82 is only an ego trip for a handful of people , the cost would be far too heavy a price to pay. But only the future will really tell. In that context, the New Delhi Asiad is clearly a major investment for the future.Till now, India’s decline in the sporting arena and the monotonous string of failures has been conveniently disguised under the all-embracing heading of “lack of proper equipment” whether it was astroturf for the hockey players, synthetic tracks for athletes, fibreglass poles for pole-vaulters, et al. With the Asiad having ushered in the modern sporting age in India, that catch-all no longer applies and if Indian sportsmen continue to lag, it will be for other reasons.Pride: Nobody can doubt that Asiad ’82 is a sports-lovers’ dream come true. The stadia and the equipment are undeniably world-class. The fact that they have been completed in record time is a matter of statistical record. What is clearly a matter of national pride is the fact that the stadia are state-of-the-art affairs designed and built by men who had no experience in the field at all.A diver framed in the upraised arms of anotherThe piece de resistance of the Games is the Indoor Stadium inside the Indraprastha sports complex which sprawls over 110 acres of land on the banks of the Yamuna. Viewed from the air, the Indoor Stadium looks like something out of Star Wars, a futuristic space station that overshadows everything else for miles around. Assigned to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) which so far has confined itself to battalions of box-like houses, the Indoor Stadium is an architectural marvel. The stadium has a diameter of 150 metres and is a bowllike structure supported on eight pylons. The complexity of the design required the import of an international expert on stress analysis of space structures – Professor Z.S. Makowski. Makowski admitted that the Indoor Stadium was “one of the most interesting structures” he had been associated with. The stadium, which is centrally air-conditioned, will be the venue of the gymnastics, badminton and volleyball events during the Asiad and has a capacity of 25,000. It will also have a soundproofed, collapsible partition which can divide the stadium into two halves for simultaneous events.In the office of the chief project engineer for the stadium, V.P. Chetal, is a board giving the day’s work. Above that is a sign which says “Countdown 65”, an ever-constant reminder that there are 65 days left to get the complex ready for handing over to the Asiad. “It is the biggest project I have ever worked on,” says Chetal, “there are 49 separate agencies involved in one way or another; 7,000 labourers working in two shifts round the clock and over 50 engineers and architects.” The main architect, Sharat Dass, who designed Mrs Gandhi’s farmhouse, admits that he will probably wind up losing money on the project but the reputation will more than compensate for the loss. For DDA Vice-Chairman, V.S. Ailawadi, there is a similar benefit. “It has redeemed our reputation,” he says.Real Heroes: It is Ailawadi and a handful of others who are the real heroes of the Asiad and not the fat cats who are cornering all the glory. Chetal, the chief engineer of the Indoor Stadium, is a modest, self-effacing man who insists that the credit should be jointly shared. But obviously, it is his dynamism and 18-hour-a day-seven-day-a-week efforts and his rapport with the main architect, Sharat Dass, a short, earnest, bespectacled individual, which have made the stadium into a top-of-the-line product.Bhalindra Singh (left) and Buta SinghChetal’s office is an island of quiet efficiency within the helter-skelter of the pounding of pile-drivers and the hammering of nails. Maps; charts and progress reports are plastered all over the walls and walkie-talkie sets keep him in constant touch with his key men on the project site. “I think our main achievement is the constant minute by minute monitoring which has enabled us to stay on top of the work,” he says. Chetal also concedes that his bosses in the DDA have backed him all the way.DDA Vice-Chairman Ailawadi, for instance, gave Chetal the go-ahead to start the pile-driving work even before the project budget had been officially sanctioned, thus giving them at least two months of lead time. Says Dass: “It is a unique project and that is why I think everybody pitched in and worked like madmen. The sense of satisfaction in seeing something like this take shape before your eyes is something incredible.”Wonders: Ironically enough, the Asiad has been an inadvertent advertisement for the DDA with its engineers having surpassed themselves like never before. R.S. Jindal, the chief project engineer of the Village project, is another overly-modest individual but one who has achieved wonders. A short, plump, clean-shaven man with no airs about him, Jindal has, however, been responsible for a Village that is as good as anything thatBangkok or Tokyo can provide. Though it is likely that some of the 853 houses may not be ready in time, the ones that will are tastefully designed and well-constructed with the interior designing in traditional Indian motifs. DDA will, of course, get three times the amount they have spent when the houses are sold after the Games but for once the scramble for the houses will be justified. “I think we have proved that a combination of determination and hard work is all that is required,” says Jindal.A bird’s-eye view of the sprawling village complex for the 5,000 athletes expected for the AsiadThe main stadium has its own heroes in the form of the four-man team that, sans experience, drew up the design and plans in the record time of one month. Originally, the main stadium was meant to be sited in the National Stadium at the end of Delhi’s central vista that stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate. Only after work had started did it dawn on the organisers that the stadium with its lighting towers would ruin the central vista concept laid down by Lutyens. “By the time the new Lodhi Road site was located and approved, it was June 1980. By July, the conceptual drawings were handed over and on August 2, we submitted our estimates,” says N.C. Jayaraman, the balding, affable chief engineer of the project.Actual work started on October 26, 1980 which gave them less than two years in which to construct an international Olympic standard stadium. “It is entirely our own design and concept and the best part is none of us had ever seen an international stadium before,” says S. Gupta Sarma, the thin, earnest man in charge of the complex lighting system.Sarma, Jayaraman, S.K. Chawla, the superintending engineer and M.K. Rishi, the architect who designed the actual stadium, all feel that it has been a joint effort. “It has been a period of considerable tension and trauma,” they chorus, “the short time span has limited our work but it is still a matter of great pride and satisfaction.”The Asiad limelight will fall squarely on the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, a sprawling, saucer-like structure spread over a 100-acre plot in the heart of the city with a seating capacity of 75,000, which will stage the Games’ glamour events – the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics and football. Scheduled to be completed in the incredible time span of 20 months, this stadium is of Olympic standards with an eight-lane synthetic track girding a green football field. Towering above the stadium like giant insects are four steel towers, each 57.5 metres high, which will provide the lighting for the stadium to facilitate colour TV transmission and floodlit events.Each headframe perched at the end of the towers is the size of a tennis court and consists of 172 metal Halide lamps of 2 kw each and 84 Halogen lamps of 1 kw each. A giant scoreboard, 9 metres high, of the matrix type will flash out instant results in English and Hindi as well as black and white pictures. It will be connected to a computer-controlled micro-processor. The scoreboard will also be connected to a computer terminal which will enable it to display almost instant results of events taking place at other venues. It will be supplied and operated by Seiko.Other, no less ambitious projects include the Games Village which is virtually a township and will accommodate about 5,000 athletes and officials. The houses themselves are easily the best design that the DDA has evolved so far, with a theatre for the performing arts, a giant reception centre, a dining area capable of feeding 2,000 people at a time, a discotheque, and a 60-foot water tower with a restaurant and viewing gallery.Test: Though the Asiad infrastructure is almost complete except for the cosmetic applications, the real test will lie in the running of the Games, which will be handicapped by India’s relative inexperience. Organising, and monitoring an event as gigantic as the Asiad is an unenviable exercise that will entail the use of 2,600 technical officials, 2,000 general officials, 1,000 ushers, 2,000 men from the Indian army and the BSF for security and 600 people as liaison officers and receptionists. “We are not claiming that it will be an easy task but we have identified all the possible problem areas and I think we will be able to pull it off,” says Bhalindra Singh.The actual cost of running the 15-day Games has been optimistically estimated at around Rs 15 crore but the SOC, if it plays its cards right, should earn more than that from various sources. In fact, one prime example of the SOC’s inexperience is that they were convinced that the major source of revenue would be from the sale of tickets. It was only much later that it dawned on them that the Asiad is big business. The biggest money-spinner is the sale of television advertising rights and arena advertising inside the various stadia. A Dubai firm, Metco, has agreed to pay $6 million (Rs 5.4 crore) for arena advertising rights while a Los Angeles-based company, Vipin Sehgal and Associates, have guaranteed a like sum. Together, the revenue from that and sponsorship of various TV programmes by multinational companies will net the SOC over Rs 10 crore.Revenues: Foreign television rights have already been sold to the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union and the Arab States Broadcasting Union for around Rs 21 lakh. In addition, the franchising of the logo and the emblem of the Games will bring in another Rs 50 lakh. The sale of tickets is expected to bring in another Rs 1.5 crore since five Indian banks will pay the SOC five lakh each to get their names printed on the back of the tickets.Mikasa of Japan, the famous ball manufacturers, will also pay Rs 7 lakh for the privilege of having their names printed on the rear of the tickets in addition to supplying $60,000 (Rs 5.4 lakh) for royalty fees as “official ball suppliers to the Games”. Mikasa will also supply 500 balls each for football, volleyball, handball, water polo and basketball.Similarly, a total of $110,000 (Rs 9.9 lakh) in cash and sporting goods will be supplied by top sports manufacturers like Asics, Dunlop, Yonex, Garuda and Canon. Gill estimates that the eventual revenue from the Games should wind up around the Rs 17 crore mark. Little wonder then, that India has already made a bid for staging the 1983 Afro-Asian Games and is also hopeful of staking a powerful claim for the 1992 Olympics as well. But that is really putting the cart before the horse.One major area where the SOC has been slack is in the pre-publicity of the Games. Very few people outside Delhi have an idea of what the Games are all about or what the achievements have been so far. Tarlochan Singh, the public relations head of the SOC, admits that they have been lax in publicising the Games, or exploiting the souvenirs and mascots for commercial purposes.Publicity: The SOC, however, has an answer to that accusation. Buta Singh and Gill say that the publicity has been deliberately low-keyed because of accommodation restrictions. “We can easily get 50,000 visitors for the Games but if there is no accommodation for them they will go back with a bad image of us,” says Gill, SOC estimates that the maximum accommodation available for the Games will be 6,500 rooms.So far, travel agencies and hotels report a negligible amount of bookings for the Asiad but it is certain to pick up in the months ahead, particularly from Japan which is expected to walk away with a major share of the medals. Current indications are that there will be at least 10,000 spectators from outside Delhi who will be here for the Games but many of those from inside the country will probably make their own arrangements with relatives and friends. The delay in producing the tickets means that they will go on sale only next month, barely four months before the start of the Games.As it is, the pre-Asiad preparations have produced some bitter lessons, apart from the laxity in the publicity campaign. Even inside the maze-like offices in Pragati Maidan that house the SOC headquarters, the organisation is derisively referred to as “Sikh Organising Committee”, a none too subtle dig at the number of turbaned heads that occupy the jerry-built offices.Many of the occupants have found their way there because of political connections rather than any specific merit. Gill, the operational head, has antagonised a number of SOC employees because of his autocratic behaviour and his bureaucratic approach to problems. Last fortnight, Lt-General Harbuksh Singh, a distinguished army officer, quit the SOC because of differences with Gill and at least three others have preceded him for the same reason.Indian sports history is littered with disaster stories all involving the excessive concentration of members of a particular community and it might be advisable to avoid such concentrations if only to keep events like the Asiad free from further controversies. It is also questionable whether a full-time politician like Buta Singh, despite his status as head of the Amateur Athletic Federation, should be put in charge of similar projects. Buta Singh may have contributed much to the success of Asiad but his political duties bar him from giving off his best.Slogan: The SOC has also been taken to task for the “junkets” its officials have been on. Originally, Air-India had agreed to provide 200 free tickets for Asiad officials but by last month, according to SOC figures, 225 tickets had already been utilised, all under the catch-all heading of learning from the experiences of previous major sporting events held elsewhere. The favourite destinations have been Los Angeles, Montreal, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Moscow. In fact, a popular slogan doing the rounds goes: “Join Asiad and see the world.”The question of whether India is capable of getting ready for the Games on time has disappeared but it has been replaced by one that is equally vital and looms as large – whether India can stage a successful Asiad. Politics rendered the Olympics in Munich and Moscow a disaster and though the Asiad should be free of political handicaps barring the tension between two participants, Iran and Iraq, anything could happen. Shankaran Nair, the man in charge of Asiad security, insists that all possible precautions have been taken and all visitors will be thoroughly screened, apart from the stadia being searched one hour before opening each day to avert possible bomb threat hoaxes.But security alone is not the only headache that Asiad ’82 will face. The Lok Dal and George Fernandes & Co have threatened to launch protests against the Games though most people are hoping that better sense will prevail. After all, Asiad ’82 is India’s big bid for international stardom. For 15 days, New Delhi will be making international headlines, for an event that, in terms of prestige, is the biggest stakes India has played for in a long time. November will be the moment of truth.
MONTREAL – Gabrielle Bouchard, the first trans woman to lead Quebec’s main women’s advocacy federation, says her detractors are guilty of trickle-down feminism.As long as white, privileged and wealthy feminists achieve equality, then less fortunate women will eventually see some benefits too, the logic goes, Bouchard said.“They are saying we’ll tolerate trans women as long as they are not in a position of power,” she told The Canadian Press. “We’ll tolerate lesbians in the movement as long as they stand 10 feet away.”Not long after Bouchard’s recent election to the presidency of the Quebec federation of women, the backlash began.A columnist in a Montreal newspaper wrote in early December, “who is this man who became a woman as an adult?“How can she speak on behalf of all women, as someone who was raised in a masculine culture, ignoring the experiences that women have lived through since they were born?” wrote Denise Bombardier, a well-known media personality in Quebec.Bouchard, 49, said she was chosen by members of the federation to be president and ran unopposed.Yet she’s been criticized on social media and privately in emails by members of the public.“From the members of the federation and the board — the reception has been great,” she said. “I am truly enjoying the team dynamic we have.”Outside the federation, however, “Some women are really, really, not happy,” Bouchard said.The federation of Quebec women represents roughly 300 feminist organizations across the province as well as about 700 individual members.It’s an organization that leans heavily to the left, and its mission, as described on its website, includes an aim to “deconstruct and eliminate patriarchy and all the other systems of oppression or domination with which it is intertwined, such as capitalism, racism, imperialism, heterosexism, colonialism.”The federation’s website also singles out Israel and demands the country end its blockade of Gaza.Bouchard’s vision for the presidency is to better enshrine her organization’s mission: Equality for all women and equality among all women.Her definition of feminism is inclusive: “It’s about not leaving anyone behind,” she said.Over the past few years, governments across Canada have made significant movement toward recognizing trans rights.The federal government passed Bill C-16 last June, which amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.Bouchard agreed society is more accepting today than just six years ago, when she began her activism, but barriers remain.Some women feel uncomfortable when a trans person seeks shelter at refuges for female victims of violence. Employees at those centres have been known to ask trans women if they’ve received gender-reassignment surgery, Bouchard said.Bouchard said part of her work as president will be to fight against so-called trickle-down feminism and for a more inclusive interpretation of womanhood.She rejects the idea she can’t president of a women’s rights organization.“(This opinion) presumes all women live the same experience — which is not true,” she said.“It also presumes the identity barriers I face, the risk of violence I face, the risk of unemployment and not finding housing are illegitimate and not based in sexism.“All the barriers I face are actually based in sexism. They also happen to be based in transphobia. I am living at the intersection of trans identity and being a woman, and it creates a marginalization that some women don’t face.”