LAST WEEK WAS BURSTING WITH NEWS, and how! I have seen this before, you know, news cycles in which one struggles to pick a cover for your favourite newsweekly. On August 23, Wednesday, Chandrayaan-3 softly kissed the lunar surface. At the same time, R. Praggnanandhaa was locked in combat with Magnus Carlsen in Baku, Azerbaijan, over 64 squares. On August 24, the 18-year-old Chennai boy became the youngest person with a Chess World Cup silver medal.
But things did not end there, did they? On August 27, Subedar Neeraj Chopra walked into the history books in Budapest, Hungary, as the first Indian with a World Athletics Championship gold. I know it is unfair to Neeraj, but I have kind of come to take his magic for granted! As a former college-level sportsman, I know fully that it is all discipline and perspiration. But, when geniuses make things seem effortless, we tend to expect that to be the norm, don’t we? And then there is that rare quality that Shashi Tharoor highlighted about Neeraj—consistency.
Let me not forget the spirited fight by the men’s 4 x 400m relay team which finished fifth in the world. Muhammed Anas, Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Ajmal Variyathodi and Rajesh Ramesh were held up as the finest examples of the diversity that our nation offers.
In the glut of news events, I must also mention a few photographs that made the events memorable. There was that touching moment when Neeraj called silver medallist Arshad Nadeem of Pakistan into the shadow of the tricolour, sharing with him the limelight and the brotherhood that international sporting events represent.
Then there was the image that Praggnanandhaa shared, of his mother, Nagalakshmi, wearing the silver medal. I am told that the image was clicked by the Indian representative in Azerbaijan, Ambassador Sridharan Madhusudhanan, when Praggnanandhaa put the medal around her neck. My dear Nagalakshmi, for all your struggles over the years, there is no greater honour now that your darling child can give you. You are truly blessed!
In my excitement over the last week, I almost forgot about the cover this week! With the world descending on India for the G20 summit, THE WEEK decided to bring you the story of how Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government so successfully repackaged a global event for a local audience, and how that helped the many host cities across India. This is going to be a tough act to replicate by the hosts who follow us.
And, India has used this opportunity to highlight many topics that need global attention, from climate change to fintech like UPI to millets to tourism to the need to ensure a seat at the table for Africa. These initiatives will not end once India hands over the gavel to Brazil, I am sure.
An added cause of joy for me is the presence of Amitabh Kant as the G20 sherpa. Long before he became THE WEEK’s columnist, he was my junior at St. Stephen’s College and a young sub-collector of Thalassery, Kerala. His brother, Ravi Kant, was formerly vice chairman of Tata Motors; we served together on the board of the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Thank you for the detailed interview, Amitabh.
I was ribbing Amitabh that there was no escaping his fame even abroad. I was in a Hong Kong restaurant last month and reading his Last Word on my iPad when someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I knew the writer. I said I did. The person turned out to be his cousin!