first_imgLINCOLN, Neb. — Baseball fans in more than a half-dozen cities from Oregon to South Carolina crowded into minor league ballparks Monday to watch the solar eclipse at game-day viewing parties.The Lincoln Saltdogs wore special black-and-white jerseys and stopped their game just before 1 p.m. to watch the eclipse darken the sky. Spectators erupted in applause at 1:02 p.m. as the moon crawled in front of the sun until the whole sky looked like a late-evening sunset. The air turned chilly and went still.ADVERTISEMENT WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding LOOK: NBA teams exploit solar eclipse to mock Phoenix Suns Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:1355,000 early birds flock at Manila North Cemetery02:11Paranaque cemetery bust: Marijuana seized from minor01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games LATEST STORIES SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief SEA Games: PH’s Alisson Perticheto tops ice skating short program UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension “This was really the easiest place to get to that was in the path of the totality,” he said as he walked into the Lincoln stadium. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event — that minute and a half of experiencing something out of this world.”Jordan Wilson and his wife, Nicole, brought their 5-year-old son, Izayah, to the game to see the eclipse. On the way down from their home in Omaha, the family sat through bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 80.“It’s probably the last full eclipse we’ll see in our lifetimes,” he said.In South Carolina, the Columbia Fireflies celebrated a “Total Eclipse of the Park” event as they hosted the Rome Braves. The Fireflies wore special glow-in-the-dark jerseys that were scheduled to be auctioned after the game, with proceeds benefiting local science, technology, math and engineering programs.No Major League Baseball games coincided with the event, but some players checked out the eclipse as their teams warmed up to play hours later. And the cosmic spectacle caught the interest of teams from other sports preparing for their season openers.Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey scheduled practice to end in time so that the team could watch the eclipse on the practice field.“It was pretty cool to be out there with the rest of the team, looking like 9 o’ clock at night at 1:30,” linebacker Derrick Morgan said.As the Titans gathered to watch the eclipse, Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded By The Light” and “Dancing In The Dark” and Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses At Night” played over the loudspeaker.Ohio State defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle said he and his teammates were all excited to see the eclipse. “We’ve been talking about it in the locker room,” he said.The Minnesota Golden Gophers tweeted out their practice play list for the day, with songs ranging from Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games MOST READ Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses “It made me all teary-eyed,” said Robyn Mason, who watched with her husband, Greg, from a grassy embankment near the third base outfield. “It was just so momentous. Just really cool — and very pretty.”Other teams hosting events included the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Oregon, the Idaho Falls Chukars, the Bowling Green Hot Rods in Kentucky, Tennessee’s Nashville Sounds and the Greenville Drive, Columbia Fireflies and Charleston RiverDogs, all in South Carolina.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThe Volcanoes’ game against the Hillsboro Hops started late because the Hops got stuck in traffic. The game stopped briefly in the first inning as fans and players paused to watch the eclipse. Many players donned disposable protective glasses and sat in the grass in front of each dugout. At one point, the sellout crowd chanted, “Let’s go science!”In Nebraska, the Saltdogs sold game tickets to buyers from as far away as the United Kingdom and Germany, team spokesman Michael Shively said. LIST: Class, gov’t work suspensions during 30th SEA Games One of the Germans was Theo Kleinfeld, 65, who flew to Lincoln last week so he could photograph the eclipse at the Saltdogs’ game against the Gary Southshore Railcats.Kleinfeld said he watched the 1999 eclipse that crossed Germany and traveled to Shanghai for another in 2009. But in Shanghai, he said, the sky was overcast.“This is a good opportunity,” Kleinfeld said as he set up his camera outside Saltdogs Stadium. “If it doesn’t work today, I’ll just have to come back in 2024,” when the next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will occur.Paul Kobs, 38, of Minneapolis, took a day off work and drove to Lincoln with his girlfriend. The couple started planning the trip three months ago and picked Lincoln because it was one of the places closest to their home to see the eclipse.Kobs said they initially planned to drive down to Beatrice, Nebraska, where eclipse viewers gathered at the Homestead National Monument, but the cloudy forecast for that area persuaded him to stay in Lincoln.ADVERTISEMENT Read Next View commentslast_img read more

first_imgMOST READ “There’s no excuse for not running as fast as you can.”Beram’s gold was the country’s 14th after lawn bowls and boxing also brought home honors earlier today. Anthony Beram of the Philippines won the men’s 200 meter dash in the Southeast Asian Games Wednesday night. He also won the 400m race the day after. INQUIRER/ MARIANNE BERMUDEZKUALA LUMPUR — Trenten Anthony Beram just became Philippine sports’ newest hero Thursday night.The 21-year-old University of Connecticut math major clocked 46.39 seconds to win the men’s 400-meter gold for his second title in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.ADVERTISEMENT WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses Could your hands predict your sporting success? “It was feeling heavy going to the race, but I gotta do my 100, no 1,000 percent to win,” said Beram after making the rounds wrapped in Philippine flag to the cheers of a packet of Filipino fans inside the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.“I just thank God. I tried my best. I was just so happy I was able to get it done,” he said of the feat which could resuscitate the country’s campaign here.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThe 200m dash champion said he didn’t mind being put in Lane 7.“I doesn’t matter, 400m is all around. The only drawback is I can’t see my toughest opponent,” said Beram whose mother hails from Cebu City. “But it’s a sprint and you gotta run as fast as you can. UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension Read Next Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Gamescenter_img LATEST STORIES Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief View comments LIST: Class, gov’t work suspensions during 30th SEA Games SEA Games: PH’s Alisson Perticheto tops ice skating short program Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Gameslast_img read more

first_imgBrace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City Jeric Diego of EAC and JRU’s Abdul Wahab battle for position for the rebound. —AUGUST DELA CRUZFinally figuring out a way to cope with the absence of its prized big man, Emilio Aguinaldo College brought down another contender Tuesday in NCAA Season 93.Sidney Onwubere exploded for 28 points, but it was diminutive guard Francis Munsayac who made the biggest plays down the stretch as the Generals subdued the Jose Rizal U Heavy Bombers, 88-84, to stay within Final Four range at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.ADVERTISEMENT Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president Read Next NCAA Season 93 Preview: Letran Knights PLAY LIST 02:11NCAA Season 93 Preview: Letran Knights02:05NCAA Season 93 Preview: EAC Generals02:12San Beda, Lyceum early favorites ahead of NCAA Season 9301:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Beermen, Painters try to bolster Q’Final bid Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. “At least, we’re back on the win column,” said Napa. “It’s an important win because it’s a tight race from No. 3 to No. 6 and a lot of things can happen.”center_img Atoning for missed opportunities in previous games when the Generals relied on his shotmaking, Munsayac did not disappoint with an assist and a key basket inside the last minute as the Generals completed an impressive comeback for their sixth win in 12 games.“We’re very thankful for this win because we’ve been struggling to adjust without (Hamadou) Laminou,” said EAC coach Ariel Sison. The 6-foot-8 Laminou has been sidelined for more than a month after sustaining a season-ending ACL injury.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutLetran also improved to 6-6, while gifting coach Jeff Napa a victory on his 37th birthday as the Knights turned back the Arellano Chiefs, 84-73, in the second game.JP Calvo and Bong Quinto fired 20 points each for the Knights, who led by as large as 18 points in the third period. Still, Letran went through anxious moments when the Chiefs closed in at 73-79 with 37 seconds remaining only for Calvo to stop the bleeding with a triple. MOST READ BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad  Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa LATEST STORIES View commentslast_img read more

first_img“General John Kelly totally agrees w/ my stance on NFL players and the fact that they should not be disrespecting our FLAG or GREAT COUNTRY!”Trump — who faces low poll numbers and is struggling to enact his agenda — earlier tried to single out the NFL players who protested.“Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!” he tweeted.He also pointed to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ acceptance of a White House invitation and support from racecar fans.“So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!” Trump tweeted.Only a handful of NASCAR drivers have been African American.But driver Dale Earnhardt also took to Twitter, implicitly rebuking Trump with a quote from former president John F Kennedy: “All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”Trump also drew a furious backlash from NBA basketball stars, including superstar LeBron James, who described the president as a “bum.”“He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the president of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement,” said James.“The people run this country. Not one individual. And damn sure not him.” Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Fire hits houses in Mandaluyong City US President Donald Trump smiles before signing a memorandum on increasing access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in the Oval Office of the White House on September 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. AFPWASHINGTON—US President Donald Trump denied inflaming racial tensions Monday, insisting his charged comments that prompted a wave of symbolic protests by NFL players were about patriotism not color.After his volley of verbal attacks on black athletes led players across the country to kneel during the US national anthem over the weekend, the besieged president played defense on Twitter.ADVERTISEMENT More than 150 pro football players took a defiant stance on Sunday, kneeling, linking arms or raising clenched fists during the anthem before 14 games.READ: 200 NFL players protest in defiance of TrumpIn response, the US leader doubled down on those remarks by urging fans to boycott the NFL as long as the protests continued.And on Monday, keeping the issue alive for a fourth day, Trump insisted: “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”Twelve hours later, he was still at it, denying any rifts about the issue with his influential chief of staff.ADVERTISEMENT Trump had started the furor by attacking players like Colin Kaepernick — who first took a knee through renditions of the “Star-Spangled Banner” during last year’s American football season to protest police brutality toward African Americans — as a “son of a bitch” who should be fired.READ: Trump says protesting players in NFL should be firedFEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutIn a separate feud, Trump also disinvited basketball superstar Stephen Curry from a White House event.READ: Trump tells Curry that White House visit is off; LeBron reacts E.T. returns to earth, reunites with grown-up Elliott in new ad  MOST READ LATEST STORIES Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fightcenter_img Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  View comments The White House denied that Trump’s “son of a bitch” remarks were unbecoming of his office.“I think that it’s always appropriate for the president of the United States to defend our flag, to defend the national anthem, and to defend the men and women who fought and died to defend it,” said spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.“The president is not talking about race,” she claimed.Courting controversy Trump has wholeheartedly embraced the controversy, with his advisors suggesting it plays well with his largely white base.Trump also changed his Twitter background photo to an American flag and stated that the “White House never looked more beautiful than it did returning last night.”That has led critics to accuse Trump of creating a diversion.His efforts to repeal Barack Obama’s health care reforms have run aground and would-be signature tax reforms are giving way to much less ambitious tax cuts.At the same time, Trump faces a number of challenges from overseas, not least a war of words with North Korea that threatens to become a shooting war.Trump has also faced criticism for his low-profile White House response to Hurricane Maria, which has left much of the US island territory of Puerto Rico. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Read Next Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Meralco, Star seek Final 4 LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes PLAY LIST 01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss01:04Trump attends World Series baseball game in Washington DC01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Gameslast_img read more

first_imgLATEST STORIES Slumping Milwaukee Bucks fire coach Jason Kidd Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Another member of the 2016 team, Aly Raisman , gave some of the most compelling testimony last week.“To believe in the future of gymnastics is to believe in change,” she said. “But how are we to believe in change when these organizations aren’t even willing to acknowledge the problem?” Former Olympians Aly Raisman, left, and Jordyn Wieber sit in Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s courtroom during the fourth day of sentencing for former sports doctor Larry Nassar, who pled guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, in Lansing, Mich. (Matthew Dae Smith /Lansing State Journal via AP)Three top board members of USA Gymnastics resigned and the man who coached the 2012 Olympic team was suspended Monday, after calls from angry gymnasts who say the organization did nothing to protect them after they were abused by former team doctor Larry Nassar.Chairman Paul Parilla, vice chair Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley announced they were stepping down as testimony in Nassar’s sentencing hearing in Michigan moved into its second week. Nassar faces a minimum prison sentence of 25 to 40 years in a molestation case.ADVERTISEMENT Later Monday, USA Gymnastics suspended the coach of the 2012 Olympics team, John Geddert, who worked with Nassar at his gyms in Michigan.A number of Olympians have been among those testifying in the Nassar hearing. Many have also sued the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics and called for the sports leaders to leave their jobs.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutUSA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was forced out last year.A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that USOC CEO Scott Blackmun met with Parilla earlier this month and asked for his resignation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the issue publicly. Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Read Next Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa In a statement, Blackmun said the USOC has been discussing changes with leaders at USA Gymnastics since October.“Those discussions accelerated over the holidays and today you have seen three board resignations,” Blackmun said. “New board leadership is necessary because the current leaders have been focused on establishing that they did nothing wrong. USA Gymnastics needs to focus on supporting the brave survivors.”The new CEO, Kerry Perry, said USA Gymnastics supported the resignations.“We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization,” she said.Last week, USA Gymnastics said it would no longer hold training camps at the Karolyi ranch in Texas, where a number of gymnasts said Nassar abused them. That announcement only came after Olympic all-around champion Simone Biles complained that USA Gymnastics hadn’t moved to find a different training locale.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ View comments Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencerslast_img read more

first_imgRobredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo LATEST STORIES NGCP on security risk: Chinese just technical advisers Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters 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 Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Pau Soriano and Rosemarie Vargas led the Cool Smashers, who have played without skipper Alyssa Valdez since the end of the elimination round, with 11 points apiece while Cesca Raqraquin and Rizza Mandapat combined for 16.And all that scoring began from the playmaking of the league’s Best Setter Jia Morado who put up 34 excellent sets.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 starsMary Ann Pantino led the Lady Jet Spikers with seven points. NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netCreamline got a head start in the race for the bronze medal after putting down Philippine Air Force, 25-16, 25-21, 25-19, in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference Saturday at Filoil Flying V Centre.The Cool Smashers, who went on an 8-0 tear early in the competition, lost two straight to Bali Pure in the Final Four and will now settle for a crack at third place.ADVERTISEMENT Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ MOST READ DILG, PNP back suspension of classes during SEA Games ‘Pool queens’ eye 1-2 billiards finish for PH Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more

first_imgFrontline fighters like Sukhois and MiG-21s will be in ready mode and guard the skies while Army will deploy air defence guns and medium machine guns as the Capital comes under heavy security blanket to secure the Commonwealth Games from any aerial threats.Apart from these comprehensive air defence measures against any air threats like rogue aircraft, microlights or balloons over a 60-km radius in Delhi, the Indian Air Force’s Garud special forces and a Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) specialist team would be also on stand-by to deal with any emergencies including NBC attacks.Two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles of the IAF will also hover over Delhi at 6,000 to 10,000 feet altitude on all days of the CWG from October 3 to 14.The IAF will station fighter jets like Sukhois and MiG 21 Bisons at nearby air bases to deal with any eventuality such as a hijacked plane or a fast flying aircraft.While the IAF will place its anti-aircraft surface- to-air weapons such as Pechora, OSA-Ak and Igla, its fighter jets and armed helicopters will be based in ready mode at Bareilly, Sirsa, Adampur and Srinagar to provide combat air patrol.The fighter jets, UAVs and para gliders are besides security personnel manning observation posts for unidentified aircraft. Night vision and surveillance activities too would be carried out by Army teams,The IAF, official sources said here today, will be the lead agency in the air defence of the city with agencies from the Home Ministry and Delhi Police supporting the effort to secure the CWG from any threats from the skies.advertisement”We have put in place a comprehensive air defence over a 60-km radius in Delhi with the IAF leading the security forces comprising of Home Ministry agencies and Delhi Police.”The holistic air defence plan will cover all conceivable threats be it hijacked planes, low-speed and high-speed aircraft, para gliders, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles and aero-models,” sources said.IAF’s Mi-17 helicopters would be on stand by for casualty evacuation, apart from its Chetak and Cheetah helicopters carrying out reconnaissance and surveillance flights.Other security agencies, including the Delhi Police, will be spread out across the city to man observation posts and they will take a decision on further action including shooting down any threat.The Army’s air defence guns and medium machine guns too would be deployed during the period, they said.”The IAF has trained the Delhi Police personnel over the last three months in aerial observation and interception activities to observe, report and target the sub-conventional threats in urban areas.”We have also put in place a joint network of IAF and Delhi Police for better coordination,” the sources said.The air space over Delhi would be a no-fly zone for all unscheduled aircraft during the CWG for which the Aviation Ministry has already issued guidelines.Also, the radars of IAF and the Airports Authority of India would be manned 24 hours during the games, sources added.The security agencies have also organised mobile observation posts all around Delhi, which, sources said, would be the first line of air defence.- With inputs from PTIlast_img read more

first_imgSo clamorous is the worship at the altar of growth in our country that the din drowns out the occasional noises of concern about other areas of economy and policy.Like the stunning — and growing — disparity between the haves and the have-nots, for instance. Some time before it was due to face the public in the last Lok Sabha elections, the previous government realised this might pose a problem, revised the terminology to include ‘inclusive’ with ‘growth’, gave out massive doles to the rural populace by way of employment guarantee schemes, swept back to power, and promptly pushed it to the back burner as far as policy imperatives were concerned.Growth was more important — or at least, was made out to be. It hasn’t helped that media attention has also tended to follow the government’s cues, and focus on growth and reforms to the near exclusion of everything else. Dry economic numbers are anthropomorphised and endowed with the persona of a star athlete gunning for yet another record. Monthly economic data is given saturation coverage, the minutest upticks or downticks in the growth graph followed with breathless eagerness and analysed ad nauseum.In the process, other issues which need, not just spot coverage but detailed exposition and informed analysis in the public sphere, tend to get left out in the cold.PhenomenonHow else does one explain the astonishingly little attention which is being paid — at least in public — to an issue which affects every citizen directly and personally, like inflation? India has been faced with double digit inflation — except for a brief dip for a few months in 2009 — since 2008. Our inflation rate is the highest among the 20 developed and rapidly developing large economies which comprise the G20 grouping of nations.advertisementMake no mistake, we have a serious problem on our hands as far as inflation is concerned. For one reason or the other, prices have stayed stubbornly high and have refused to respond to either the Reserve Bank’s monetary measures, or the government’s half-hearted and ineffective measures to tackle it on other fronts.Initially, the surge in prices was attributed to the huge spike in global energy — particularly crude oil — prices. The resultant spike in fuel and power prices was the cause for high prices we were told. Then came the meltdown and fuel prices actually fell.Yes, prices fell too, but for a short while. Soon, inflation was climbing again, this time on account of food inflation.For well over a year now, prices of food articles of common consumption have been racing along in the high teens. Initially, the surge was attributed to the effects of last year’s deficient monsoon. Everything would be back to normal once the next monsoon — the one just gone by — happens, we were told.Well, we have had not only normal, but near excessive rains this year. The principal agricultural states have reported bumper crops. And yet, prices — food prices — show no sign of coming down. With little over a month to go for the Prime Minister’s December deadline for seeing inflation back to the six per cent or less level, overall wholesale price inflation is running closer to 9 per cent and food inflation is still in the mid teens.For such a sustained problem, and one which impacts so many people directly and at such a basic level, there has been astonishingly little informed public debate or analysis. Instead, the off the cuff explanations trotted out at the time of every spike have been accepted without so much as a murmur.Even politically, the ruling alliance has had an easy time of it, with the principal opposition failing to come up with anything more meaningful than a one day strike and a public march which made more headlines for its leader’s dramatic fainting fit, preferring instead to focus on mythical temples and the mammoth corruption extravaganza of the Commonwealth Games.Hunger One shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the shaming numbers in the recently released Global Hunger Index were easily drowned out by the celebrations over India’s record-busting medal haul at the Commonwealth Games. But that would be doing the numbers — and what they represent — a signal disservice.India ranks 67th out of 84 countries, well below even its impoverished neighbours like Nepal and Pakistan.India is home to nearly half the world’s malnourished children.India is the only country to buck the inverse correlation between income and hunger. While our gross national income has been rising, so has gross national hunger, unlike every other nation with rising income.advertisementThe direct correlation between hunger and overall poverty, though, is firmly established. A recent study released by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative stated that 38.9 per cent of the poor in India were not only undernourished, but suffered severely on other indicators as well, like access to cooking fuel, drinking water and sanitation (Nearly half the poor — 49.3 per cent — have no access to sanitation).Not so direct — at least on the data front — is the correlation between inflation and consumption.Inflation hurts everybody, although the effect may show up differently. In rural areas, for instance, high prices have led to a sharp fall in the consumption of packaged food and beverages — which account for two thirds of the fast moving consumer goods consumption in rural areas and which are the only items which are easily tracked by non-government agencies. In urban areas, the impact is visible more indirectly, in the form of falling bank credit as companies defer investments and consumers delay loanbased purchases.So much noise is made about reforms and growth in India that people tend to forget how long, and how sustained, the reform process has been in our country and just how far we have come along the growth path.The coming January will mark the eleventh anniversary of reforms. We have had nearly a decade — with exception of the blip in 2008 — of high growth. For the current fiscal, growth is projected at upwards of 8.4 per cent and anywhere between 9.7 per cent and 9 per cent for the next fiscal. Growth has happened, and will continue to happen.On the reforms front, too, we are doing pretty well. Some reforms — in ‘sensitive’ areas like labour — are unlikely to ever happen, at least on paper. But this does not mean that reform on the quiet has stopped.Leader In fact, on most ‘reform’ parameters — ease of getting investments into or out of the country, ease of starting a business and so on, India now compares pretty favourably with other global investment destinations, which is one reason for the flood of foreign direct and portfolio investment which is pouring into the country.The real question is, what will we do for excuses once ‘reforms’ and ‘growth’ lose their currency? How then will we explain hunger amidst plenty, starving children amidst a mountain of sporting medals, or the fact that even in our rich, metro- sporting steel and glass cities, around half the population lives in slums? Having an economist as Prime Minister has been good for India.We have managed to pull off high growth and clawed our way to the top table in global economic affairs. But having a growth and reforms obsessed economist at the helm may have skewed the government’s policy and programme priorities too much in their favour.It is high time we focused more attention on the other larger and more severe problems facing our country. Getting a grip on prices would be a start.advertisementlast_img read more