Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Unsatisfactory year for Indian cricket
Indian cricket went through another disheartening year both on and off the field, starting with the national side failing to defend its World Cup title to Indian Premier League (IPL) sides Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) being suspended by the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Lodha Committee in the spot fixing and betting scandal.
 
Co-hosts India who had won the World title after 28 years in 2011 under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, failed to defend it in March 2015, as the visitors went down to Australia in the semi-finals by a big margin. Co-hosts Australia went on to clinch their fifth World title beating New Zealand.
 
More than the Cup loss that shook the sport in the country was when the cash-rich Twenty20 tournament saw a new low with its star-studded teams being suspended for two years.
 
Both franchise's officials and co-owner Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, both of whom were earlier found guilty of betting, were suspended for life from any cricketing activity undertaken by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
 
Following the suspension, the game's governing body in the country had to bring in two new teams (Pune and Rajkot) for the tournament to make it a competitive one.
 
Besides controversies surrounding the game off the field in the country, the national team's on-field performance too began on a wrong note at the start of the year with India somehow managing a draw against hosts Australia in fourth and final Test, eventually losing the series 0-2.
 
This was soon followed by a dismal show in the tri-series involving England and hosts Australia where the Dhoni-led side failed to win a single match.
 
The loss was followed by heartbreak for millions back home as two-time World Cup winners failed to defend their title on foreign soil.
 
Next up was the flamboyant T20 league in the country which paved the way for both fans and players to start afresh. Mumbai Indians clinched their second IPL crown beating CSK at the iconic Eden Gardens.
 
But the Indian team's misery continued as they went down to a well organised hosts Bangladesh 1-2 in the ODI series after drawing the lone Test.
 
Next it was a chance for the youngsters to prove a point as the team flew to Zimbabwe for three-match ODI series where they won all three and managed to win one and lost one in T20 encounter.
 
India then toured Sri Lanka for a three-match Test series where the visitors came out victories 2-1.
 
It was followed by over two-month-long South Africa tour of India which started on a disappointing note as the hosts lost both the T20 and ODI series.
 
The longest format of the game was left to restore some pride and the four-match Test series saw India make the best use of the home conditions, by producing rank turners to outplay the Proteas 3-0 in style.
 
The pitch in Nagpur was the centre of all controversies, as critics across the globe hit back at India for producing such unplayable conditions.
 
Swashbuckling batsman Yuvraj Singh made a comeback to the Indian team after more than a year when he was named in the Indian T20 squad for the limited-overs series in Australia next month.
 
The left-hander returned to national reckoning thanks to a series of impressive performances in the Vijay Hazare trophy, including a scintillating 83-ball 98 against Services which helped Punjab qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament.
 
The country saw plenty of controversies off the field during the year, with the acrimonious relationship between India and Pakistan resulting in the proposed bilateral series being cancelled.
 
The BCCI and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had signed an MoU last year, agreeing to play a total of six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023. The first of these were to be hosted by the PCB in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in December.
 
But with BCCI president Shashank Manohar reluctant to play in the UAE, the PCB agreed to host a limited-overs series in Sri Lanka. The BCCI asked the Indian government to play the series.
 
But the government did not come up with a decision, which ultimately led to the series being cancelled.
 
Allegations of corruption within the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) also created a storm with the Delhi government launching a probe into the body's financial affairs.
 
The ruling Aam Admi Party (AAP) accused former DDCA president Arun Jaitley of overseeing massive financial irregularities during his 13-year tenure which ended in 2013 and demanded his resignation as Union Finance Minister.
 
Former India player Kirti Azad also held a press meet where he alleged that the DDCA gave contracts to fake companies, paying them crores of rupees in cash and had fudged the audit of accounts.
 
He also played a video produced by WikiLeaks4India which claimed that some of the companies favoured by the DDCA had given fictitious addresses.
 
Addressing the media with former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi, Azad sought an investigation by the Enforcement Directorate into the working of the DDCA.
 
The row led Jaitley to file a defamation suit in the Delhi High Court against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders, seeking Rs.10 crore in damages.
 
Above all, the keeping aside of all controversies surrounding the game, history was made in the world of cricket when for the first time in the international level a day and night Test match was played between hosts Australia and New Zealand with the help of pink ball in Adelaide in November. Thousands turned up to witness the game take giant steps to the next level.
 
The year also saw Australia speedster Mitchell Johnson retire from the game after a successful 10-year-long career.
 
Johnson, the country's fourth highest Test wicket-taker finished his career with 313 Test wickets behind only Dennis Lillee (355), Glenn McGrath (563) and Shane Warne (708) on the list of Australia's greatest wicket-takers.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Year India became fastest growing big economy
Notwithstanding a sharp cut in the government's growth forecast at the fag end, 2015 will go down as the year when India emerged as the fastest-growing large economy, despite setbacks such as 12 months of negative export growth, another bad monsoon and roadblocks to the far-reaching goods and services tax regime.
 
In addition to growth, the economy also saw some positives. Global crude oil prices fell to the lowest levels in over a decade, checking the balance of payments from going awry, inflation rate remained more-or-less under control, despite spikes in food prices, and economic reforms got a big push, notably in the form of further opening up of a host of industries to foreign equity.
 
India's real GDP in the first half of the current fiscal grew at 7.2 percent as per official data, which was slightly lower in comparison to the GDP growth of 7.5 percent in the previous fiscal.
 
India's external position improved at the same time. Forex reserves are a little above $350 billion in November 2015 as compared to a little over $270 billion in July 2013. Net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows have increased to $17 billion in the first half of 2015-16 in comparison to $15.8 in the same period last year. The second quarter's current account deficit logged at a level of 1.6 percent of GDP.
 
However, the global slowdown continued to weigh on exports, which have declined for 12 straight months. The government said this was also pulling down growth but felt the situation would improve in the coming months.
 
On the fall in the value of the Indian rupee, the finance ministry's mid-term economic review attributed it considerably to the major devaluation of the Chinese yuan.
 
The changes overall, however, led many global institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank and some UN institutions to upgrade India's growth forecast to some 7.5-8 percent, calling it the fastest expanding globally, surpassing China.
 
The year also began with India's changing the way it calculated its gross domestic product under a new series, though the controversy over the changed methodology employed refuses to die down with economists even terming it obscure.
 
Changing the base year to 2011-12 from 2004-05 in January, the Central Statistics Office said India's real GDP, that is adjusted for inflation, grew by seven percent in the first quarter of this fiscal, slower than the 7.5 percent expansion in the quarter before -- but much higher than 6.7 percent registered in the first quarter of the last fiscal.
 
Arun Kumar, till recently a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University here, told IANS that in view of negligible industrial growth, drought-like conditions in past years and no substantial increase in profits and wages, the new numbers fall flat from the point of credibility.
 
"Even input costs, that are now low with falling oil prices, were not low in the period 2011-12. Let the statistics office show the growth figures for up to 10 years prior to the base year for us to consider the new series seriously," Kumar said.
 
The mid year review released this month lowered the economic growth forecast for the current fiscal to the 7-7.5 percent range, from the previously projected 8.1-8.5 percent, mainly because of lower agricultural output due to deficit rainfall. It also said there may be a need to reconsider next year's fiscal deficit target of 3.5 percent.
 
"GDP growth has been powered only by private consumption and public investment is a concern. The proposed wage hike for government workers may impact plan for next fiscal." The economy continues to send "mixed signals" over growth, while all economic indicators were not yet aligned in pointing to a higher trajectory of growth, it said.
 
India's eight core industries, representing major infrastructure sectors, grew at 2.3 percent in the April-September period of the current fiscal, compared to a rate of 5.3 percent in the same period of the previous fiscal -- the fall in growth rate caused by lower expansion in electricity, coal and cement sectors and negative growth in steel and natural gas sectors.
 
Jaitley's first full union budget also announced an agreement earlier in the year with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that it constitute a Monetary Policy Committee to determine by majority vote on the policy rate required to achieve the inflation target.
 
Meanwhile, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan cut the interest rate in January for the first time in nearly two years and followed up with two other reductions to bring down the central bank lending rate to 6.75 percent.
 
Politics intervened during the year to prevent the enactment of India's most important reform of its indirect tax regime by way of the pan-India Goods and Services Tax (GST) that the government has targeted for implementing from April next year, because the ruling NDA does not have the numbers to pass the constitution amendment bill in the upper house.
 
Highlights
 
* Real GDP in first half of fiscal grew at 7.2 percent
* India emerges as fastest-growing large economy
* Forex reserves of over $352 billion as on the first week of December.
* FDI inflows increased to $17 billion in the first half of 2015-16
* Indian basket of crude oils fell below $40 a barrel
* Foreign investment limits raised in defence, real estate and insurance, foreign equity in railways
* Retail and wholesale inflation rates rose in November to 5.41 percent and (-)1.9 percent respectively, largely due to an increase in food prices
* Infrastructure sectors grew at 2.3 percent in the first half of fiscal
* Government lowers GDP growth estimate for fiscal by one percent to 7-7.5 percent
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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