Kodagu First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Kodagu, Coorgs and the People of Kodagu – here at Home and Overseas
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    Hotbed for hockey. Nikkin Thimmaiah with his Chendanda team at the Kodava Hockey Festival final.

    Hotbed for hockey. Nikkin Thimmaiah with his Chendanda team at the Kodava Hockey Festival final.

    The Kodava Hockey Festival is testimony that the game is still thriving in Kodagu, feels internationals Nikkin Thimmaiah and SK Uthappa

    A crowd of 30,000 people turned out to watch the Kodava Hockey Festival final between Chendanda and Pardanda on May 14, an eye brow-raising statistic to the uninitiated. This wasn’t an international event, not even a national championship. The average spectator turnout for an Indian Premier League game at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium was 25,000 but this hockey contest — played between families in Kodagu district — beat even the IPL. Cricket, they say is religion in the country. In Kodagu district, it’s hockey that gets the adrenaline pumping.

    “Every player from Kodagu begins his career in this tournament, including me,” Nikkin Thimmaiah, India forward and a member of the Chendanda winning team, said.

    “I watched my father play in this tournament as a six-year-old. That was one of the catalysts that spurred me to take up the sport.”

    The tournament is unique in many ways. A team comprises members of a family and there is no distinction between either age or gender. The festival itself has been conducted annually since 1996. The game, though, goes on through the year as youngsters are encouraged to make it a career. “It’s the most talked about sport in Kodagu and even now, kids are still enthusiastic about the game,” Thimmaiah added. “Kids generally place hockey on a priority.”

    Over the years though, the number of players from Kodagu making it to the international level has fallen. Currently, there are only three — Thimmaiah, SK Uthappa and SV Sunil — in the Indian squad. There’s no player from Karnataka in the junior team, but Uthappa insists hockey is not dead. The sport is now alive, more than ever, and tournaments like the Kodava Hockey Festival keep it ticking. “I began playing hockey seriously after watching my brother play,” Uthappa said. “I played badminton first, but in Coorg, everything is about hockey. Hockey is in our blood and that’s why we start playing. The next influential factor is your family. It depends on how they support and encourage you to play hockey as a child. Thanks to that tournament, it’s a tradition that everyone participates in it.

    “Even now, that culture of developing the sport remains. You often hear that gadgets have taken the fun out of outdoor games. There are kids who use iPads in Coorg but they know how to balance it with the game. I think that love for the sport is influential in getting everyone to play it. Imagine you have to play this sport in every school. You will naturally be inclined to it.”

    But it’s not just this tournament which gets Kodavas hooked to the sport. Uthappa says everyone is interested in playing some sport, but what cricket is to the entire country, hockey is to a Kodava. “We Kodavas follow, discuss and dissect hockey just as other people in the country do with cricket,” Uthappa said. “Families here are aware of everything that we do. Over the years, they have become more educated about hockey, thanks to the promotion and media exposure hockey is getting. Now, everyone’s involved in an educated discussion. For example, they tell me I played well in the first quarter, but my dribbling went awry in the third quarter and so on. Earlier, it was only the basic question of whether you won or lost and by what score.”

    source: http://www.bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com / Bangalore Mirror / Home> Sports> Others / by Aravind Suchindran / Bangalore Mirror Bureau / May 23rd, 2017

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    Role Models: Paintings of General K S Thimayya, Field Marshal K M Cariappa.

    Role Models: Paintings of General K S Thimayya, Field Marshal K M Cariappa.

    Kodagu is not just known for its serene landscape and picturesque surroundings, but also for the valour of its people. Rightly, the district boasts of several military heroes. The statues of such brave men can be seen in Madikeri. The Sudarshan Circle in Madikeri is flanked by the statue of Field Marshal K M Cariappa and the equestrian statue of Subedar Guddemane Appayya Gowda.

    One of the earliest revolutionaries from Kodagu, Appayya Gowda, was hanged by the British in 1837. His contemporary revolutionaries from Kodagu included Subedar Naalnaad Mandira Uthayya, Chetty Kudiya and Shanthalli Mallayya who were imprisoned for many years by the British. Further along the main road, you can see a circle with the statue of General K S Thimayya. If you take the deviation to the right, you will find Major M C Muthanna Circle near the town hall and Squadron Leader A B Devaiah Circle near the private bus stand.

    The first family

    In Kunda, near Gonikoppal, lived the Kodandera family, hereditary chieftains of a group of villages. I M Muthanna’s Coorg Memoirs mentions that Naad Parupatyagar (native village official) Kodandera Kuttayya was the grandson of Diwan Mandepanda Thimmaiah. Between 1901 and 1909, he was the assistant commissioner and highest ranked native official in the then Coorg province. When his wife Dechy, or Dechamma, passed away, a locality in Madikeri was named as Dechur in her memory.

    Two members of this family, Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa and General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya, rose to become the chiefs of the Indian Army. Hence, the Kodandera family came to be considered as the first family of Kodagu’s military heroes. Field Marshal Cariappa was the son of Kuttayya’s younger brother Madappa, who worked in the revenue department. General Thimayya was the grandson of Kuttayya.

    Born in 1899, Field Marshal Cariappa, ‘the Grand Old Man of the Indian Army’, studied in the Madikeri Government Central High School and then in the Madras Presidency College. He gained admission at Daly Cadet College, Indore, in 1919 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in Bombay’s 88th Carnatic Infantry, during World War I. The following year, he served in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and was promoted as a lieutenant.

    He became the first Indian army officer to attend the Staff College in Quetta. He married Muthu Machia, a forest officer’s daughter, had a son K C Nanda Cariappa, who later rose to the rank of air marshal, and a daughter, Nalini. During World War II, Cariappa was awarded the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). He became the first Indian to become a brigadier.

    Cariappa also served as India’s first commander-in-chief (C-in-C) between 1949 and 1953. Now this position rests with the President of India. He represented India as its high commissioner in Australia and New Zealand from 1953 to 1956. In 1986, he was made a field marshal. Thus, he became one of the two Indian army officers to hold this rank. He died in 1993.

    General Thimayya’s actual name was Subayya, while Thimayya was his father’s name. He was born in Madikeri in 1906. Admitted to the then Prince of Wales Military College in Dehradun, he was one of the six Indian cadets who underwent training in Royal Military College, Sandhurst, England. In 1926, he was commissioned into the Indian army. In 1935, he married Codanda Nina and the couple went to Quetta. During the Quetta earthquake that year the couple rendered outstanding humanitarian service.

    During World War II, Thimayya was awarded Distinguished Service Order (DSO). He represented India during the Japanese surrender. Between 1953 and 1955, Thimayya was the chairman of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission. He gained international fame for the way he handled the exchange of the prisoners of war (POWs) held during the Korean War. In 1954, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. Between 1957 and 1961, he was the chief of the Indian army.

    In 1964, he was appointed Commander of the United Nations Forces in Cyprus, where he passed away. Cyprus released a stamp in his memory, and later, his wax statue was displayed in Singapore. Both Cariappa and Thimayya are iconic figures in India.

    Fond memories

    According to Major General Arjun Muthanna, a great grandson of Kuttayya, Cariappa and Thimayya belonged to a generation of Indian officers who stormed the bastion of India’s colonial masters and deftly navigated unchartered situations. Both had huge responsibilities thrust upon them at a relatively young age and rose to the challenge. Cariappa, commissioned as a lieutenant when Indians were just being permitted to become British Indian Army officers, would ‘Outbritish the British’, probably to be accepted and treated as an equal by the British officers.

    A strict disciplinarian, he demanded punctuality and proper dress code. He was fiercely nationalistic and moulded the Indian Army into its current apolitical position.

    In 1948, the Kashmir situation grew tense and war was imminent. Lieutenant General Cariappa became the head of the Western Command and led Lieutenant General S M Shrinagesh and Major General Thimayya. It was during this war that Thimayya helped India secure Ladakh.

    Cariappa’s contemporary and friend, Lieutenant General Nathu Singh, was first offered the post of C-in-C but he declined and stated that his senior Cariappa, who won the 1948 war for India, was more eligible for the post. It was on January 15, 1949 that the three centuries old colonial army became a national army. That was the first time an Indian, General Cariappa, was made chief of the Indian armed forces.

    Every morning, Cariappa paid his respects to the portrait of his parents and the statue of a jawan. He was ever thankful to the soldiers for protecting the country. Hence, he was called the soldiers’ general. Cariappa would go to the war front, even after retirement, in order to motivate the troops.

    Muthanna narrates a personal anecdote about the Field Marshal, “When I called on him at his residence, in Madikeri, in May 1986, to invite him for my wedding, I was wearing a half sleeve shirt and trousers as appropriate for the hot summer day. After accepting the invitation, he commented on my attire saying ‘You’re an officer in the army aren’t you? In which case, you should be wearing a coat and tie.’ I had no response and thought in my mind I’m calling on my family elder. Pat came his next comment, as if he’d read my mind, ‘In case you’re calling on me as a relative you should be wearing our traditional dress of kupya.’ He walked the talk. He was always dressed formally as a respect to the person who was visiting him.”

    Thimayya was charismatic, approachable and had great interpersonal skills. When Thimayya visited his Dehradun alma mater as an alumni, one of the cadets there wanted to know how to address the general. Thimayya simply replied ‘Call me Timmy’, referring to his nickname!

    Some of the other military heroes of Kodagu are: Major Mangerira Chinnappa Muthanna, who was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously, and Squadron Leader Ajjamada Bopayya Devaiah, nicknamed ‘Wings of Fire’, the only Air Force personnel to be awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously so far.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> Supplements> Spectrum / Mookonda Kushalappa / May 22nd, 2017

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    Around 4,800 players will participate in Kodava community’s event

    The Kodava community’s craze for hockey is as legendary as their participation in the Indian army.

    This love for the sport is celebrated by the people of Kodagu with an annual hockey festival, where family teams from the community get together to test each other’s dribbling skills.

    This year’s festival will have a special resonance as the organisers are making a bid to enter the Guinness World Records for the most number of participants at a hockey event.

    The festival which started in 1996 with 60 teams will see the participation of 306 hockey family teams this year.

    Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Ramesh, the organizer of the festival, said, “This year, we have more than 300 teams, which means that 4800 players will be articipating. Theirs is a Guinness Record for 4000 players taking part in a tournament. This event will break that record.”

    Ramesh also said that they have already entered the Limca Book of Records in 2004 for participation of more than 281 teams in the festival.

    Speaking about the significance of the event, Ramesh said that it has become a cultural festival for the Kodavas.

    “We never call it a hockey tournament, but we call it a hockey festival. It is the 21st year of the celebrations and it has become a cultural milestone for the Kodavas,” he said.

    About the festival

    * The hockey festival in Kodagu was started by Pandanda Kuttappa and Kashi Brothers at Karada in 1996.

    * Kuttappa and Kashi Brothers also founded the Kodava Hockey Academy in 1997 and continuing to be the founder president for the academy till now.

    * The festival follows the international rules for hockey.

    * It also encourages the participation of women and senior members in the hockey team.

    source: http://www.bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com / Bangalore Mirror / Home> News> States / by Bangalore Mirror Bureau / May 12th, 2017

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    She’s a hardcore advocate of tribal rights, who, as the government have realised to their cost, will not back down.

    Tribal leader Muthamma climbs a tree in support of her demands at Diddalli in Kodagu on Thursday

    Tribal leader Muthamma climbs a tree in support of her demands at Diddalli in Kodagu on Thursday


    Muthamma, the woman who transfixed her supporters and critics by shedding her clothes to lead a protest, parading stark naked against the unfair treatment meted out to the tribals of Kodagu, is no exhibitionist. She’s a hardcore advocate of tribal rights, who, as the government have realised to their cost, will not back down.

    “It is not easy for a woman to remove her clothes and march nude in public. But it was my intense agony for my people and anger over the injustice they had suffered that forced me to opt for such a protest,” says 48- year-old Muthamma, who is leading the tribals camping in Diddalli in their fight for housing sites and land to farm on.

    A video of her nude march to protest the tribals’ eviction from Diddalli in December last year had gone viral on social media. Married to Basappa, a daily wage worker, Muthamma has four children and her younger brother, Appaji is a GP member.

    “As a child I was deeply pained to see my own parents moving from one place to another after they were removed from the forests. But they did not give up and go to line houses in coffee plantations. Instead they ensured that I studied till class 10. Later the Union government made me part of the Mahila Samukya, where I trained in empowering women and motivating them to have an education. In 1993, I was elected a GP member, but my hands were tied and I couldn’t do much to help my people,” she recalls. Although her parents finally settled in Channanakote in Diddalli, the family got land rights only in 2008 after a prolonged battle with the government.

    “Although there are 200 of us in Channanakote, only 30 have got land rights. I was shocked to hear about our Diddalli tribals living in line houses in plantations in Kodagu being treated as bonded labourers. I was an Aasha health worker, but gave up that job to lead their protest,” she reveals, adding, “I am not part of any NGO, but just another daily wage worker fighting for justice for my people.”

    source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / by Shilpa P / May 06th, 2017

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    As many as 306 teams have enrolled for the prestigious Kodava family hockey tournament scheduled to begin here on Monday. With Biddatanda family hosting this edition of the annual tournament, the event is named Biddatanda Hockey Namme-2017.

    The hockey festival, in its 21st year, promises to a treat for hockey buffs with a record number of teams are vying for the top prize. The tournament has produced fine talents over the years some of whom have made the cut into state and national teams. The matches will be played at three grounds – two at Gen Thimayya Stadium at Cheriyaparambu, and at Govt PU College ground.

    Grounds Committee chairman B B Belyappa said, “Final touches are being given to the grounds to make them match-ready at a cost of Rs 16 lakh. The 27-day tournament is being organised at a cost of Rs 1.6 crore.”

    Thunder showers, in the recent past, in the run up to the competition have delayed the preparations. With rain taking a break on Saturday, the groundsmen took up the last-minute preparations to make the grounds ready for the matches, starting on Monday.

    For the first time in the history of the tournament, a metal gallery has been erected for the benefit of the spectators. The organisers have also made necessary arrangements like mats, sound system, lighting, media gallery at a cost of Rs 33.50 lakh.

    As many as waterproof make-shift food stalls have been set up at the grounds. Safety measures are also in place with shade nets covering the banks of Cauvery river to prevent people from venturing into water and contaminating the same.

    Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha had promised Rs 30 lakh from his MPLAD funds for the tournament but released only Rs 20 lakh. Zilla Panchayat is also expected to chip in with Rs 4 lakh for building a check wall.

    MLC Shantheyanda Veena Achaiah has sanctioned Rs 5 lakh. Legislators K G Bopaiah and MLC Suneel Subramani too have promised funds.

    Hockey India, Hockey Karnataka, Hockey Kodagu and Umpire Association have extended their support to the event. President of Umpire Association Katumaniyanda Umesh has taken over the mantle of supervising the matches.

    According to technical director of Biddatanda Hockey Namme B S Thammaiah, seating facilities have been made for 20,000 people. It includes 4,000 seats for VIPs. Parking facilities have been made on 15 acres of land.

    Hockey Olympian Anjaparavanda B Subbaiah will inaugurate the tournament on April 17 at 10.30 am. Founder of Hockey Namme, Pandanda M Kuttappa, will be the chief guest, while Prof B C Ponnappa of Biddatanda clan will preside over the inaugural function.

    Revenue Minister Kagodu Thimmappa, Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai, former minister M C Nanaiah, MP Prathap Simha, MLAs K G Bopaiah and Appachu Ranjan, MLCs Shantheyanda Veena Achaiah and Suneel Subramani, SP P Rajendra Prasad, president of Kodagu Hockey Association Pykera Kalaiah and Muliya Prasad from Muliya Foundation are also expected to attend the inaugural session.

    source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> District / DH News Service / Napoklu – April 16th, 2017

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    Coffee grown in the hills of Karnataka is making its way to the Starbucks Reserve store in Seattle

    Coffee is undergoing something of a transformation in India. Local beans, grown in the country, are finally making it onto store shelves, where provenance and growing techniques are emphasised. Meanwhile, a certain section of savvy consumers trawls the Internet, searching for new ways to brew their daily cuppa using a range of different home-grown beans, each of which comes packaged with tasting notes that emphasise subtle flavours.

    Meanwhile, an ocean away, India’s coffee prowess was given a different stamp of approval, when last October, Starbucks sold Indian coffee for the first time at its flagship Starbucks Reserve store in Seattle, the city in which the brand was founded. The coffee came from Tata’s Nullore estate in Kodagu, Karnataka, and was the company’s first microlot coffee. While Tata has 19 plantations in Kodagu (spread over 7,300 hectares), this was the first time that the company’s arabica beans made it to international shelves.

    Microlot coffee refers to beans that are generally the best of the estate, and are those that imbibe flavours of the terroir. Arabica is one of two types of coffee beans, and is prized for its flavour, lower caffeine content and almost twice the concentration of sugar than is found in robusta. As a result, arabica is more expensive, and harder to grow.

    Place of origin

    Walking around the Nullore plantation’s block 19 (where the beans grew), what strikes you is the sense of calm that comes with standing in the midst of a 505-acre estate.

    The microlot that was ultimately produced got its flavours from plants and trees that fruit bats propagate, while they make their homes in the silver oak trees above that provide shade to the arabica plants below. This two-tier system allows the coffee to grow under a canopy of trees, which includes jackfruit, pepper vines and fruits such as orange and lychee. On a tour of the block, Mandana, plantation manager, says, “We collected the coffee berries separately from eight hectares of this [block], where the fruit bat population is high.”

    Changing trends

    The story of the coffee though, goes beyond its growth, and rather is the story of how Tata Coffee is responding to changing customer demands, especially at the high-end, where international coffee drinkers are willing to spend between $10-30 to buy beans with unique tasting notes. Sunalini Menon, a well-known coffee cupper, who is also an independent member of the Tata Coffee board, has been instrumental in galvanising the plantation managers to experiment with microlot coffee. Chacko Thomas, the deputy CEO and executive director, says, “As a result of Nullore, we have 150 [microlot] experiments in progress.” Processing aside, the recognition has showed employees, that the beans grown in Kodagu can be cupped alongside the best in the world.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Life & Style> Food / by Aatish Nath / March 30th, 2017

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    Over the years, India has had several woman diplomats, ambassadors and high commissioners who have done stints in countries like the USA, China, Spain, Sri Lanka, Australia, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Qatar, Switzerland, Serbia, Russia, Slovakia and Ghana. We’ve also had two women Foreign Secretaries – Chokila Iyer and Nirupama Rao – who were highly respected for their tough stance and unflappable poise during their years of distinguished service.

    It’s a far cry from what India’s first IFS woman officer, Chonira Belliappa Muthamma, had to face when she joined service in 1949.

    In an age when most Indian women didn’t even try getting into foreign service, this gutsy Kodava woman didn’t just choose IFS when she qualified UPSC, she fought gender bias, stood her ground and went on to become India’s first female ambassador.

    photo source: mea.gov

    photo source: mea.gov

    Born in Virajpet in Karnataka’s Kodagu (then Coorg) district in 1924, Muthamma lost her father, who was a forest officer, when she was nine. Raised singlehandedly by her mother, Muthamma completed her schooling in St Joseph’s Girls School in Madikeri before graduating from the Women’s Christian College in Chennai (then Madras) with a triple gold medal.

    Muthamma completed her post-graduation in English Literature from Presidency College in Chennai before deciding to appear for the UPSC examinations. She performed brilliantly, becoming the first Indian woman to clear the UPSC examinations in 1948. She wanted to join the Indian Foreign Service but the board that interviewed her discouraged her from joining this ‘not suitable for women’ service.

    However, Muthamma was determined to get her choice of service. She convincingly argued her case, stood her ground and joined the foreign services in 1949, becoming India’s first IFS woman officer. Incredibly, she had to sign an undertaking which stated that she would resign if she got married. However, after a couple of years, the rules were changed.

    For the next few decades, Muthamma served with distinction in many capacities in Europe, Asia and Africa. However, she had to fight against gender bias all through her diplomatic career. Despite serving in the foreign service for long, her case was overlooked when it came to posting her as an ambassador.

    photo source: inmemoryglobal.com

    photo source: inmemoryglobal.com

    Not the one to accept any injustice lying down, Muthamma filed a petition against the Indian government in the Supreme Court on the ground that she had been unjustly overlooked for promotion. The determined and stubbornly honest officer argued that the rules governing the employment of women in the service were discriminatory.

    The government of India, represented by Solicitor General Soli Sorabjee, argued that that the chances of leakage of confidential information of strategic significance was a dangerous risk, should women ambassadors marry. Realising that this was flagrant prejudice against women, the court asked the Solicitor General how leakage of information was not a possibility if a male ambassador married.

    Finally, in 1979, a three-member Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer quashed the government’s argument, struck down the discriminatory provisions governing foreign service personnel and upheld Muthamma’s case.

    The nation’s apex court also impressed upon the government of India “the need to overhaul all service rules to remove the stains of sex discrimination, without waiting for ad-hoc inspiration from writ petitions or gender charity.” A landmark judgement for women’s rights in India, it was distributed at many a women’s meeting in support of their struggle for equality.

    Consequent to this ruling, Muthamma was posted as India’s Ambassador to Hungary, the first woman from within the service to be appointed to this prestigious post. Later, she served in Ghana and her last posting was as Indian Ambassador to the Netherlands.

    After 32 years of exemplary service, she retired from the IFS in 1982 but only after breaking the South Block’s glass ceiling for the women who joined the IFS after her.

    photo source: alchetron.com

    photo source: alchetron.com

    Even after retirement, Muthamma remained active in various fields. She was nominated as the Indian member of the Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues set up by the then Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme. She was also a prolific writer, and during her retirement authored several works on a range of interests, from a cookbook on Kodava cuisine to a collection of scholarly articles titled “Slain by the System: India’s Real Crisis.”

    People like Chonira Belliappa Muthamma come along very rarely. Civil servants like her are rarer. The courageous lady lived a life only a handful of other women of her time lived, fighting a lonely battle against the sexist principles – a few written, many more unwritten – that governed the Indian civil services of her time. A woman who broke barriers and set examples, she inspired many other Indian women to take up the challenge of civil service in the coming years.

    source: http://www.thebetterindia.com / The Better India / Home> Civil Services / by Sanchari Pal / March 01st, 2017

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    The Sarang helicopter team talks about the risks in the air,how they were inspired to master the skill of formation flying and the courage it takes to deliver a flawless performance

    The Sarang helicopter team talks about the risks in the air,how they were inspired to master the skill of formation flying and the courage it takes to deliver a flawless performance

    Bengaluru :

    In their saffron uniforms, the men and women who swing their Sarangs into perfect flight formations display skill and dare and splendid teamwork. Not many on the ground know the challenges and risks that go into it.

    After enthralling the crowd at the inaugural day of Aero India 2017, the pilots shared their life stories, and how they came to be flying their HAL Dhruv choppers.

    Sneha Kulkarni wanted to become an event manager, but ended up as an Indian Air Force pilot in 2006. “When my elder brother joined the Army, I went for a training camp. There, the uniform inspired me to join the air force. I had not believed that I would become a pilot, but here I am,” a relaxed Sneha said on Tuesday afternoon.

    Wing commander Sachin Gadre, team leader, says the choice of a new teammate is almost always a collective one, with the final call left to him. “First, we ensure that the person joining our team actually volunteers to be here. Considering how strenuous and challenging it is, we don’t want them to be under any risk. He or she has to fly with us once before we finalize the person to ensure that the entire team bonds. The ability to remain calm, no matter what, is the most important quality,” he said.

    “We fly so close to each other that the slightest mistake could be disastrous. And we have to ensure that we maintain our formation. We need to have our emergency protocol in place and follow it,” he added.

    Considering the challenges, the Sarang Air Force Helicopter team performs on non-fixed wing aircraft, flying the choppers in perfect sync. The highly skilful pilots are called into action 12-15 times a year for various academy parades, exercise programmes and other formal events. To achieve the perfection that they are famous for, they have to put in nearly 500 hours of practice time, specially on a helicopter. “It is for the safety and beauty of our performance that we train so hard. It requires courage,” says Gadre.

    It was precisely this precision that attracted squadron leader Bhushan Rao to the elite team of performers. “I saw them perform at Marine Drive in Mumbai and was so impressed that I immediately wanted to join. It is much more difficult than the apparent ease with which the performance happens,” said Rao, who is serving his second tenure and has been with the team since 2012.

    Wing commander P Prithvi Ponappa
    , 38, says he was watching a Sarang display in 2003 when he first wanted to fly one. And at Aero India 2015, he finally did. For him, performing at the Aero Show is like being on home turf. “It was always my dream to perform at the show. I was on standby last time, so this is a dream come true. The first time I flew, I was so nervous that I was looking to my senior beside me for guidance,” he said. The airman from Kodagu narrated how every display performance is preceded by multiple dry runs on the ground, followed by a mandatory video debriefing.

    Wing commander Ashish Moghe says, “Apart from maintaining the basic level of fitness that an average military aviator should have, the team claims that they do nothing out of the ordinary, apart from following a balanced diet.”

    The voice of the team cannot be missed. Tinju Thomas, 28, from Ahmedabad, is an economics graduate and now commentator of the Sarang team for four years. Managing a team of 15-16 officers and pilots and 30 technicians isn’t easy, but for her it is as much fun as it is duty. “I always wanted to visit Bengaluru and my work brought me here,” she laughs.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Bangalore News / Arpita R / TNN / February 17th, 2017

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    Ashwini Ponnappa opens up to Sportskeeda about her career, struggles, achievements, doubles getting ignored and much more.

    Ashwini Ponnappa. [Image Courtesy: Red Bull]

    Ashwini Ponnappa. [Image Courtesy: Red Bull]

    “India, as a country, is reactive rather than pro-active.

    ”Having won tournaments ever since joining the international circuit and still not getting enough support, Ashwini Ponnappa hits the nail on the head with this statement.

    The Gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in women’s doubles was supported with a mixed team silver while she and Jwala Gutta became the only Indian pair, and second Indians after Prakash Padukone in 1983, to win a medal at the World Championships when they won the bronze at London in 2011. The 2015 Canada Open triumph came on the back of yet another successful CWG campaign in Glasgow and a bronze at the 2014 Asian Games.

    Despite all these achievements, it wasn’t until September 2015 – less than a year before the Rio Olympics – that Jwala and Ashwini were included in the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme. And that, too, came after a war of words and multiple requests and demands to the Sports Ministry.

    “Not just the TOP scheme, a lot could have been handled way better, to be honest. I think when Jwala and I did well at the World Championships in 2011, things should have changed then,” the 27-year-old claimed. “When we did well in 2010 at the CWG, we should have had support, which would have eventually led to us, probably, doing well at the 2016 Olympics, not in 2012, where we lost out by just 1 point.”

    “So when you see a pair having potential, who have done well, are doing well and have the potential to do even better, support them! Did anyone come forward to do that?,” questioned Ashwini. “They didn’t. And that’s why I think the delay in us being involved in the TOP scheme cost us a little bit (at the 2016 Olympics).The support we got was not enough to guarantee a medal.”

    Looking at the likes of HS Prannoy, Guru Saidutt part of the list already, it is natural that the country’s most successful doubles pairing would be hurting from being overlooked time and again.

    Doubles ignored by the badminton fraternity

    This inadvertently prompted the question if doubles badminton gets step brotherly treatment as compared to singles. And like she plays on the court, Ashwini didn’t hold back from this either, bluntly admitting that it is foolhardy to harbour expectations of a medal from the Olympics without significant backing.

    “You see the companies that are supporting the junior players – all of them are supporting singles players while nobody supports doubles players. Nobody wants to gamble on a doubles pairing and pick a pair and back them to win a medal, the way they would do for a singles player.”

    “If you look at Saina and Sindhu, they have been given consistent support since the age of 13-14 and that’s what has helped them achieve everything at the international level. There’s not one doubles player who is given that backing. But, you expect so much out of us when we are struggling, as it is. You can’t expect miracles at the Olympics as it is simply not going to happen with this backing,” she continued.

    Rewinding the clock and remembering the unrealistic expectation the nation had on the pair during the London and Rio Olympics, I had to agree with her. Just when my mind began to wander about how they kept their motivation up, she explained:

    “Everything that Jwala and I achieved. Everything that Jwala-Diju achieved, what the other doubles players have achieved – is amazing. I think that’s remarkable. It’s an outstanding effort put by all of us because without having support, to just go there and play because you want to play and work hard for yourself, for your country. Of course, it stings when you don’t get any support, but it hasn’t stopped us from working and fighting and trying to do really well,” she answered as if she could read my mind and anticipate the next question.

    “But, to push us to the next level, we need more – a lot more – to make us do that and that isn’t happening. We still believe that despite all that we are going to do well, but how far can belief just take you alone. We need a lot of support. But, hopefully things change. It hasn’t happened in the past, though despite Jwala and I performing well,” the anguish was quite palpable on her face as she talked about the obvious lack of support.

    Jwala Gutta’s and Ashwini Ponnappa’s success has come despite the obvious lack of support

    Jwala Gutta’s and Ashwini Ponnappa’s success has come despite the obvious lack of support

    By this time it was clear that having already competed with the top nations and coming out on top on quite a few occasions was despite the negligible funds and backing given to doubles badminton in India rather than because of it.

    No Indian pair goes into any Superseries, Olympics or Asian Games as one of the favourites. Any achievement by any Indian pair, not just Jwala and Ashwini, is considered as a bonus. From parents not encouraging kids to take up doubles to lack of media coverage, it is not just the lack of funds or support that has resulted in Indian players merely making up the numbers at every tournament and playing second fiddle to the Far East and European countries when it comes to doubles. The problems are deep-rooted and many, which have resulted in India’s current standing in doubles badminton.

    “When we look at other countries, I feel, we are definitely capable of beating them. But, at the same time, there’s a massive difference in the kind of facilities they are provided in terms of training and encouragement – which is most important at the grassroots level.“The fans, as awesome as they are, can only feed what’s given to them and that’s where the media plays a huge role. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot mentioned about doubles as opposed to singles. The same performance between a singles player and a doubles player, the singles player would get definitely more. In terms of that, I feel doubles is not given any importance, whatsoever. And that makes parents question whether they want to put their kid into doubles or let them continue there if he/she is put in doubles,” a realistic Ashwini confessed.“As a parent, you are looking out for the well-being of the child. So, you see how much a singles player gets and at the same time you see that a doubles player doesn’t get anything, it makes you question if you should let them continue doubles. I feel in that sense, India’s got a HUGE way to go to ensure the doubles players get the respect, acknowledgement, and encouragement – which is there in the other Asian as well as European countries,” said Ashwini, for whom being pragmatic about the whole ordeal seemed to come naturally. To be honest, if I was a doubles player like her, I would be seething at the system we’ve created.

    “There are plenty of problems, but it all starts from the backing you have. You go to a tournament, we send 5-6 singles player, but just 1 doubles pair – that’s it. So, how can we expect India to catch up because there’s a vast difference between that one pair and everyone else?”

    Playing singles with Carolina Marin

    After listening to the Cinderella-esque challenges that doubles badminton faces in India, I begin to ponder when they would get the Fairy Godmother it so badly requires. After an awkward silence, I look down at my list of questions as I seek to change the mood in the reception of the Karnataka State Badminton Association facility – the venue of the interview.

    Suddenly my thoughts began to move towards the Premier Badminton League (PBL) where the ‘interviewee’ played an unexpected, yet delightful singles match against the reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin. Ashwini displayed an array of shots to surprise the Spaniard, and everyone else, and take the first game 11-9. Although she went down 5-11 and 8-11 in the other two games, it was refreshing to see her step away from her comfort zone and give an excellent account of herself.

    “Thank you so much,” she uttered mustering a smile when I mentioned that it was my favourite match of the 2017 PBL. “It (playing with Marin) was amazing, to be honest. That’s the best part about PBL – it gives you opportunities. In life you have things thrown at you and you have to grab them. And as I love playing singles despite being better at doubles and not having played that format for a long time, I put my hand up to play against the Olympic gold medallist.”

    Ashwini Ponnappa gave the Olympic champion a scare at the PBL

    Ashwini Ponnappa gave the Olympic champion a scare at the PBL

    Talking about the match, she explained how well she prepared herself that led to winning the opening game against the then World No. 1. “I wanted to make sure that I play really well. Getting on the court, I just wanted to put up a fight and make sure I didn’t lose 11-0, 11-0. (grins as she recalls her mentality at the time). I just wanted to prepare well and I think it is part of being a professional badminton player that you don’t get into a match, irrespective of whether you’re training for it or not, without being prepared. So, I decided I was going to prepare myself, watch how she plays, and it actually paid off,” she recalled.

    The PBL has thrown up such challenges at players time and again while giving them the opportunity to share the dressing room with the who’s who of the badminton world. Although she never had an idol growing up, she had always been a keen observer, trying to pick things from each and every player and that is precisely what she has been doing at the PBL as well. Asked about how the league has helped her and other youngsters, the Bangalore-born shuttler was unequivocal in her praise of the tournament.

    “The PBL has helped me a lot, personally and I am sure it has helped the others too. When I played the first edition of the IBL (the IBL was rechristened as the PBL after the first edition), I partnered Victor Fischer who had won bronze in the Olympics and the World Championships. So I learnt A LOT! Being somebody who isn’t primarily a net player, and playing with someone like Fischer helped me immensely and I partnered him in the second season too,” she fondly recalled.

    “Like I have learned a lot, I am sure the other Indians would have also learned by just watching them play, get ready, their preparations. These top players are very forthcoming with their opinions. They are happy to share and give you advice as well.”

    Partnering with Sikki Reddy

    In the 2017 edition of the PBL, Ashwini Ponnappa partnered Sikki Reddy for the Bengaluru Blasters and had the former World No. 2 Korean pairing of Ko Sung-Hyun and Yoo Yeon-Seong to learn from – something she believes helped her massively as it was one of the biggest learning curves in her illustrious career.

    “In the last PBL, when Sikki and I partnered, the Koreans in our team were like coaches to us and it was amazing how well we got to interact with them. They would guide us how to move and also give us drills. I learned a lot, and I am sure Sikki did as well as they would point out the nitty-gritties tell us what we were doing right and wrong, that nobody generally tells you. But, the fact that they did, was really helpful as we’re constantly learning,” uttered Bengaluru Blasters’ star doubles player.

    Ashwini Ponnappa with Sikki Reddy (L) [Image courtesy: Ashwini Ponnappa’s Facebook]

    Ashwini Ponnappa with Sikki Reddy (L) [Image courtesy: Ashwini Ponnappa’s Facebook]

    Post the PBL, the unseeded pair of Ashwini and Sikki got another feather in their cap by reaching the final of the Syed Modi International. Despite leading in both games at one point, they ended up on the losing side against the Danes, something which Ashwini believes would not happen if they were to get more consistent.“I feel, we still have to get more consistent. At the Syed Modi International, I feel we improved on the consistency bit. But, as a pair, we haven’t had that many matches, so I think it would still take time,” confessed the 27-year-old. “I am quite disappointed that we lost, irrespective of it being just our fourth tournament, because as a player you go to every tournament to win. And, I truly believed we could have won and pull it off. But, we do tend to lose a couple of points in cases when we’re leading. So, we’ll have to work on that and maintain a consistent lead.

    ”Unlike with Jwala where Ashwini did most of the running, we have seen Sikki and her share the running and be a more fluid unit, exchanging positions effortlessly. Their debut tournament was a second round exit before a final in Wales, a semi-final appearance at Ireland and reaching the final at the Syed Modi Int’l. Asked if the team dynamic was the reason behind the upward curve ever since they teamed up, Ashwini said that could be one of the reasons along with the fact that the two of them are “go-getters” while playing down all their achievements so far.

    She explained, “We’ve started with tournaments that we thought we could handle well as a pair. But, as you go on to the bigger tournaments like the Superseries, it’s not going to be so easy. It’s good to start on a positive note and that’s why we started off in the smaller tournaments and the results in the first 3 tournaments gave us confidence. And now reaching the final at the Syed Modi, which is a big tournament, is a big deal for us. So, that motivates us a lot.”

    With the All England Championships up in March the next major challenge for the pair, Ashwini said that the duo would be ready for their first Superseries despite the stiff challenge posed by the presence of the Chinese and the Koreans.

    The difference between Sikki and Jwala

    A hyperactive child growing up and one who loved running out and playing till the sun went down, Ashwini didn’t envisage herself as a professional badminton player when she was ‘forced to pick up the sport’ as her parents thought it was a good way to keep her busy. However, once she got into the junior category, it was then that the bustling little girl began taking badminton seriously.

    After spending a few years in the junior category, she was thrown into the deep end when she, just 20 years old was asked to partner a then 26-year-old Jwala Gutta. Their partnership lasted for 6 glorious years – a period she looks back on fondly, calling her former teammate a great mentor and partner.

    “When I partnered with Jwala, I had zero experience. I started playing in the junior category and then moved to the seniors for a year and the next thing I know, I was partnering Jwala. So, I believe Jwala had a lot of responsibility because we played in big tournaments. However, the good thing is that when I started playing with Jwala, we clicked instantly! She guided me a lot, was very supportive and was there for me every step of the way. She was always the one with experience and I was picking things up,” Ash gave a glowing tribute to her former partner.

    Drawing parallels to Jwala in 2010 and Ashwini now, I asked her if she felt any added pressure to guide 23-year-old Sikki Reddy similar to how Jwala mentored her? “Not at all,” came the instant reply from her. “Sikki and I are, more or less, on the same page considering she already has a few years of experience under her belt, unlike me when I started out with Jwala.”When quizzed about the future of the partnership, Ashwini is taking a pragmatic approach while looking forward to a great partnership in the meantime.

    “We are two ambitious individuals who have gotten together. We are going to see how it goes. If it works, that’s great. If it doesn’t, well, that’s how life is,” admitted Ashwini.

    Saina or Sindhu


    Moving on to the biggest debate in Indian badminton was a no-brainer, but Ashwini, diplomatically, refused to pick one out of Saina Nehwal or PV Sindhu, saying they both have a long way to go.

    Answering the debate in the same clever manner she deals with a tricky drop shot on the court, she said, “I feel the one that is more mentally tough and lasts there the longest will be considered the greater player. Sindhu is still young while Saina also has a few years ahead of her. Saina is very strong mentally and is extremely hard working while Sindhu has age on her side. When they both hang their boots, we may have Saina and Sindhu as 1-2, or it could be the other way around, you never know. Either way, it doesn’t matter as both of them are Indians at the end of the day.

    ”Going nowhere with the Saina-Sindhu debate despite repeated probing, I moved on to ask her about her fitness mantra, which has helped her stay at the top of her game for so long.

    “Currently, my fitness mantra is being smart. I’ve always been on the stronger side physically. When I started working on my fitness in December after a spell out, I took on a routine that was ‘my body specific’. Being a sportsperson, it is very important you only do stuff which helps your body and not everything which ends up breaking your body.

    ”She talked about having to keep herself motivated to work out and keep her fitness levels up, specifically highlighting the effort of fitness trainer Deckline Leitao and Red Bull, who have let her enjoy her fitness sessions once more with their unique ‘best fitness friend’ campaign.

    “It’s nice I’ve found this new found love to enter the gym and go and work out. It’s been good,” said the Red Bull athlete.

    Using social media as a motivating tool

    Ashwini is one of the most accessible Indian sportspersons, regularly using social media as a tool to communicate with her fans and loved ones – something she thinks the European players do extremely well. However, she has made her share of mistakes by being over-indulgent and says that she has been learning over the years.

    “In the past, I had put out my email address on social media, and I got a lot of mails. I was overwhelmed with all the love and replied to each of them. But, I would get more replies and it became an endless cycle,” laughed Ashwini recalling her young, naïve self.

    “Twitter helps that way. When I have time, I go there and answer questions of fans who I feel are genuine and want to know about me. So, I feel like social media like Twitter and Facebook is a good way to let your fans know what you’re up to. It’s amazing the kind of support you get, especially when you’re down and things aren’t going your way. They give you messages like ‘It’s okay. We’re with you, etc. So, it’s very motivating.’” she claimed.

    “Being a public figure, it’s important you stand up for a cause”

    Anyone who knows Ashwini Ponnappa is well aware of her love for animals. She has been an active PETA campaigner while constantly lending her voice and face for causes supporting animal rights. Being a public figure, she feels it is imperative that one supports a cause.

    “For me, personally, I do it because I love animals. Being in the limelight, a celebrity, sportsperson or a public figure, it’s important you stand up for some cause – need not be animal rights, it could be the environment, supporting the girl child, old age homes, etc. I think that when you are in a place where you can make a difference and you can help out, I think you should do that,” professed the animal-lover, who herself has 4 adorable dogs at her parents’ house in Coorg.

    Biggest achievement

    The coveted gold at the 2010 CWG made a massive impact as it was won in front of the home crowd.

    The coveted gold at the 2010 CWG made a massive impact as it was won in front of the home crowd.

    A quick glance at my watch made me realize that I had overshot my time by over 20 minutes – a period which had flown by as she patiently answered each of my questions, keeping me entranced all the time. Trying to quench my never-ending thirst, I put forth a final question in front of her: ‘Which achievement would you classify as your best so far in your career?’

    “The best would definitely be the 2010 Gold at the CWG. The next would be followed by the bronze at the World Championships because it is, after all, the World Championships! Also because we were the first Indian pair to win it and the second after Prakash sir to win a medal there was a huge deal,” she revealed. “However, the CWG is close to my heart as it was the first win for us (Ashwini and Jwala) and it was massive because it was in front of our own fans with everyone watching.”

    “It made a huge difference that we won it in India. If we had won it in 2014 in Glasgow and not in 2010, the impact wouldn’t have been the same and people probably wouldn’t have known who Jwala and I were. If it was somewhere else other than India, the newspapers would have carried it as (uses her hands to indicate a small heading at the bottom of the page) ‘Jwala and Ashwini won CWG gold’. While the same paper would have printed ‘Saina won CWG gold’ (gestures it to be a front page headline).

    With the kind of treatment meted out to doubles players despite all the achievements, I shuddered as I thought of the impact, or lack of, it would have made had the 2010 CWG been held outside India. The repercussions would have been unimaginable and despite going through it all, Ashwini continued with her charming smile as I thanked her for her time before she humbly bowed out of the room to continue working ‘smart’ on her fitness in her quest to bring further laurels to the country.

    source: http://www.sportskeeda.com / Home> Badminton / by Saransh Gehlot @saransh2703 / Editors Pick / February 13th, 2017

  • scissors

    Mysuru :

    This year’s two Republic Day parade contingents at the Rajpath in New Delhi were led by two Commanders from Kodagu. While Col. Bommanda Dhiraj Chengappa led the President’s Bodyguard, a regiment of the Indian Army that consists of 46 horsemen, Ajjinanda G. Aishwarya led the all-girls National Cadet Corps (NCC) contingent.

    Col. Dhiraj Chengappa is the son of Bommanda Muthanna Chengappa, a retired IGP in the Border Security Force. Dhiraj was selected for the Army through UPSC and he lives in New Delhi with his wife and son. He graduated from Delhi University and then joined the Army.

    Aishwarya is the daughter of Ajjinanda Ganesh and Monthi Ganesh. She is a student of St. Joseph’s Girls’ Composite Pre University College in Madikeri and has been the ‘Best Cadet’.

    Aishwarya belongs to the 19 KAR Battalion and was also part of the R-Day camp in 2015 as a junior wing cadet. This was the first time after 18 years that a girl from the Directorate had been given the honour.

    Aishwarya, a Science student with good academic track record, is also an accomplished skater and hockey player apart from playing the guitar.

    This cadet wants to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and become a fighter pilot.

    source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / January 27th, 2017

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