sports world

The sports wrap: PV Sindhu breaks into the top-5 of badminton world rankings, and other top stories

Manchester United beat Saint-Etienne after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick, top seed Angelique Keber crashed out of the Qatar Open.

The big news: Sindhu on the rise

Shuttler PV Sindhu became the second Indian woman to break into the top-five of the badminton singles world rankings. The Olympic silver medalist, who broke into the top-10 in 2013, achieved her career-best ranking of No. 5 on Thursday. Former world No. 1 Saina Nehwal is only other Indian woman to achieve such a feat. Sindhu, who started 2016 at No. 12, finished the year at No. 6 owing to her stellar show at the Rio Olympics and for clinching the China Open Super Series Premier in November.

Sindhu was delighted and said the No. 1 rank remains her goal. “I’m really very happy for achieving a career high rank of No. 5,” Sindhu said. “When I started playing in 2016 I never thought I would break into top-five within a year. This is quite unexpected,” she added. Her next target is to be world No. 3 by the end of 2017.

“I want to do well and win tournaments. I want to be No. 3 by the end of the year. But to achieve that I need to work really hard. Hopefully, I will give my best,” said Sindhu, who started 2017 by winning the Premier Badminton League title and the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold. Meanwhile, Nehwal remained static at No. 9, while Ajay Jayaram is the top-ranked Indian in men’s singles at No. 18.

Football:

  • Edin Dzeko smashed a hat-trick for Roma as they beat Villareal 4-0 in their first-leg encounter in the round-of-32 of the Europa League. The former Manchester City striker scored three in the last 25 minutes to take his European total to eight goals.
  • Southampton have signed former Juventus and Barcelona defender Martin Caceres until the end of the season. Caceres, who is a free agent and has 68 caps for Uruguay, left Serie A giants Juventus in the summer.       
  • According to Mesut Ozil’s agent, the forward is being made the scapegoat for Arsenal’s problems. Ozil was criticised again after Arsenal suffered a 5-1 defeat at Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s Champions League clash.
  • Tottenham were handed a surprise 1-0 loss by Belgian side Gent in their Europa league encounter. French striker Perbet scored the only goal of the match in the 59th minute. The second leg of the encounter will take place at Wembley on February 23.  
  • Mark Clattenburg is quitting his job as a Premier League match official to become Saudi Arabia’s new head of referees. Clattenburg is widely regarded as one of the best referees in football and took charge of the Euro 2016 final, the Champions League final and the FA Cup final last season.
  • Manchester United continued their amazing run as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick in their 3-0 win against Saint-Etienne in the first leg of the round-of-32 clash in the Europa league. The two sides meet for the second leg in St Etienne on February 22.
  • India coach Stephen Constantine has been asked to take temporary charge of the Under-17 squad and help them prepare for the World Cup, reported Hindustan Times

Tennis:

  • Top seed Angelique Kerber crashed out of the Qatar Open after she was beaten by Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 0-6, 6-4. Kasatkina will face Monica Puig in the quarter-finals.
  • Top seed Marin Cilic reached his first quarter-final of 2017 after he beat compatriot Borna Coric 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 at the Rotterdam Open.
  • Netherlands’ Jean-Julien Rojer recorded his 300th doubles career win by partnering Horia Tecau to a 6-4, 6-4 victory at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament over second-seeded Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez.      
  • Top seed Ivo Karlovic was stunned by Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(2), 6-3 of the Memphis Open. With the win, Basilashvili reached the quarter-finals of the tournament. 
  • Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov put up a solid performance at the Argentina Open after he beat second seed Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 7-6(4) to reach the quarters.
  • Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Barbora Strycova beat USA’s Raquel Atawo and China’s Yifan Xu to enter the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open. The Mirza-Strycova duo beat their opponents 6-2, 6-4.

Cricket:

  • India U-19 managed to earn a hard-fought draw against England U-19 in the first Youth Test in Nagpur on Thursday.
  • Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif has been appointed the assistant coach of Indian Premier League side Gujarat Lions for the upcoming Indian Premier League season. 

Boxing:

  • India’s Vijender Singh will be gunning for a second title when he faces WBO Oriental middleweight champion Zulpikar Maimaitiali of China in Mumbai on April 1. 
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As India turns 70, London School of Economics asks some provocative questions

Is India ready to become a global superpower?

Meaningful changes have always been driven by the right, but inconvenient questions. As India completes 70 years of its sovereign journey, we could do two things – celebrate, pay our token tributes and move on, or take the time to reflect and assess if our course needs correction. The ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, the annual flagship summit of the LSE (London School of Economics) South Asia Centre, is posing some fundamental but complex questions that define our future direction as a nation. Through an honest debate – built on new research, applied knowledge and ground realities – with an eclectic mix of thought leaders and industry stalwarts, this summit hopes to create a thought-provoking discourse.

From how relevant (or irrelevant) is our constitutional framework, to how we can beat the global one-upmanship games, from how sincere are business houses in their social responsibility endeavours to why water is so crucial to our very existence as a strong nation, these are some crucial questions that the event will throw up and face head-on, even as it commemorates the 70th anniversary of India’s independence.

Is it time to re-look at constitution and citizenship in India?

The Constitution of India is fundamental to the country’s identity as a democratic power. But notwithstanding its historical authority, is it perhaps time to examine its relevance? The Constitution was drafted at a time when independent India was still a young entity. So granting overwhelming powers to the government may have helped during the early years. But in the current times, they may prove to be more discriminatory than egalitarian. Our constitution borrowed laws from other countries and continues to retain them, while the origin countries have updated them since then. So, do we need a complete overhaul of the constitution? An expert panel led by Dr Mukulika Banerjee of LSE, including political and economic commentator S Gurumurthy, Madhav Khosla of Columbia University, Niraja Gopal Jayal of JNU, Chintan Chandrachud the author of the book Balanced Constitutionalism and sociologist, legal researcher and Director of Council for Social Development Kalpana Kannabiran will seek answers to this.

Is CSR simply forced philanthropy?

While India pioneered the mandatory minimum CSR spend, has it succeeded in driving impact? Corporate social responsibility has many dynamics at play. Are CSR initiatives mere tokenism for compliance? Despite government guidelines and directives, are CSR activities well-thought out initiatives, which are monitored and measured for impact? The CSR stipulations have also spawned the proliferation of ambiguous NGOs. The session, ‘Does forced philanthropy work – CSR in India?” will raise these questions of intent, ethics and integrity. It will be moderated by Professor Harry Barkema and have industry veterans such as Mukund Rajan (Chairman, Tata Council for Community Initiatives), Onkar S Kanwar (Chairman and CEO, Apollo Tyres), Anu Aga (former Chairman, Thermax) and Rahul Bajaj (Chairman, Bajaj Group) on the panel.

Can India punch above its weight to be considered on par with other super-powers?

At 70, can India mobilize its strengths and galvanize into the role of a serious power player on the global stage? The question is related to the whole new perception of India as a dominant power in South Asia rather than as a Third World country, enabled by our foreign policies, defense strategies and a buoyant economy. The country’s status abroad is key in its emergence as a heavyweight but the foreign service officers’ cadre no longer draws top talent. Is India equipped right for its aspirations? The ‘India Abroad: From Third World to Regional Power’ panel will explore India’s foreign policy with Ashley Tellis, Meera Shankar (Former Foreign Secretary), Kanwal Sibal (Former Foreign Secretary), Jayant Prasad and Rakesh Sood.

Are we under-estimating how critical water is in India’s race ahead?

At no other time has water as a natural resource assumed such a big significance. Studies estimate that by 2025 the country will become ‘water–stressed’. While water has been the bone of contention between states and controlling access to water, a source for political power, has water security received the due attention in economic policies and development plans? Relevant to the central issue of water security is also the issue of ‘virtual water’. Virtual water corresponds to the water content (used) in goods and services, bulk of which is in food grains. Through food grain exports, India is a large virtual net exporter of water. In 2014-15, just through export of rice, India exported 10 trillion litres of virtual water. With India’s water security looking grim, are we making the right economic choices? Acclaimed author and academic from the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, Amita Bavisar will moderate the session ‘Does India need virtual water?’

Delve into this rich confluence of ideas and more at the ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, presented by Apollo Tyres in association with the British Council and organized by Teamworks Arts during March 29-31, 2017 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. To catch ‘India @ 70’ live online, register here.

At the venue, you could also visit the Partition Museum. Dedicated to the memory of one of the most conflict-ridden chapters in our country’s history, the museum will exhibit a unique archive of rare photographs, letters, press reports and audio recordings from The Partition Museum, Amritsar.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Teamwork Arts and not by the Scroll editorial team.