Thursday, January 1, 2009

Newsmakers 2008

There have been many people and events that have made the year 2008 what it was. The year has been remarkable for various innovations in science and technology, new heights in space exploration and new records in sports, in short a giant leap forward by humans. The year also witnessed occurrence of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, piracy and civil unrest in various parts of the world. The world is passing through a great economic recession since the 1930s and is also awaiting to embrace the new leadership of hope, progress, democracy and development. Though it is not possible to enlist all, six personalities clearly stand tall among the achievers who inspire us to excel in our fields and transform our dreams into reality.
Jeev Milkha Singh
Jeev Milkha Singh, held off Padring Harrington and Ernie Els in a crunch situation to win the $5 million Barclays Singapore Open on Nov. 16. 2008 which made him the Asian Tour's first single-season millionaire. Singh was the first Indian golfer to become a member of the European Tour. He has been the highest ranked Indian golfer in the world and first who broke into the top 100 in October 2006.
Singh, born 15 Dec. 1971 in Chandigarh, India is the son of the famous Indian Olympic athlete Milkha Singh. His first professional win came at the 1993 Southern Oklahoma State Open, a minor local event, but he played mainly in Asia, where he was a regular winner in the mid 1990s. In 1997 he finished seventh at the European Tour qualifying school, and he joined the tour the following year.
His best season in Europe up until 2006 was in 1999, when he came 50th on the Order of Merit. He struggled with injury in the early years of the new century but in April 2006 he won the Volvo China Open, becoming the second Indian player to win on the European Tour after Arjun Atwal. He also won the season ending Volvo Masters, which elevated him to a final position of 16th on the Order of Merit. He finished 2006 as the winner of the Asian Tour Order of Merit and capped his season with a pair of back to back wins in Japan to become the first Indian to make the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings. In 2007 he became the first Indian golfer to participate in the Masters Tournament. In Aug. 2008, Singh achieved the highest ranking for an Indian in any major event at the 2008 PGA Championship in Oakland Hills, finishing at T-9, making him arguably India’s best golfer ever.
Singh finished the 2008 European Tour season ranked 12th on the Order of Merit, and after winning the Barclays Singapore Open has won his second Order of Merit title on the Asian Tour in three years.
Singh received India’s fourth highest civil honour the Padma Shri in 2007. He has reached where hardly any Indian has ever dreament of being. He is an example of achieving great thing with sustained and continuous effort. He has made a mark for himself and has become equally renowned like his father, not because of him, but by himself.
Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nobel laureate, Mohammed Mustafa ElBaradei has been awarded the 2008 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development .
An international jury, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, announced its decision on Nov. 19 to honour Dr. ElBaradei for his impassioned opposition to the use of nuclear energy for military purposes and for his steadfast espousal of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy sustained over many years.
ElBaradei earned a Bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Cairo in 1962, followed by a DEA degree in International Law at the Graduate Institute of International Studies HEI in Geneva and a Ph. D in International Law at the New York University School of Law in 1974. His diplomatic career began in 1964 in the Egyptian Ministry of External affairs, where he served in the Permanent Missions of Egypt to the United Nations in New York and in Geneva, in charge of political, legal, and arms control issues. From 1974 to 1978, he was a special assistant to the Egyptian Foreign Minister. In 1980, he became a senior fellow in charge of the international law program at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. From 1981 to 1987, he was also an Adjunct Professor of International Law at New York University School of Law.
In 1984, ElBaradei became a senior staff member of the IAEA Secretariat, serving as the Agency’s legal adviser (1984 to 1993) and Assistant Director General for External Relations (1993 to 1997). He began serving as Director of the IAEA on Dec. 1, 1997. He is currently serving his third four-year term since 2005.
Dr. ElBaradei stand apart, as he has consistently argued that states should move away from reliance on nuclear weapons. He advocates a collective, rule-based system of international security.
M.S. Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni or MSD ,who was born on July 7, 1981 is the current captain of the Indian cricket team. Initially recognized as an extravagantly flamboyant and destructive batsman, Dhoni has come to be regarded as one of the coolest heads to captain the Indian ODI side. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, CB Series of 2007-08 and IDEA Cup India-Sri Lanka ODI Series of 2008, the first ever bilateral ODI series win of India in Sri Lanka and The Border-Gavaskar trophy 2008 in which India beat Australia 2-0 which let India regain its spot at No.2 in world test rankings. Dhoni also recently captained the ODI team that beat England in the series 5-0. He is currently ranked the best ODI batsman in the world by the ICC. He was awarded the ODI Player of the Year award in 2008, the first Indian player to achieve this feat.
Before taking up circket as his career, Dhoni was a goalkeeper for his football team and was sent to play cricket for a local cricket club by his football coach. Though he had not played cricket, he impressed with his wicket-keeping skills and became the regular wicketkeeper at the Commando cricket club (1995 - 1998). Based on his performance at club cricket, he was picked for the 1997/98 season Vinoo Mankad Trophy Under-16 Championship and he performed well.
Dhoni is an aggressive right-handed batsman and wicket-keeper. Referred to as ‘Mahi’ by his friends, he debuted in the Bihar cricket team during the 1998/99 cricket season and was selected to represent India-A for a tour to Kenya in 2004. He made multiple centuries against the Pakistan-A team in a tri-nation series and was selected in the Indian national team later in that year.
As a batsman, Dhoni has shown the maturity to restrain his aggressive nature and play a responsible innings when the situation requires. Apart from traditional shots, he has two very unorthodox but effective cricket strokes. Since his entry into the Indian cricket team, his aggressive batting style, success on the field, personality, and long hair have made him one of the most marketable cricketers in India.
The void created by Sourav Ganguly as the captain of the Indian team is filled by Dhoni in a style and manner worth praising. If Ganguly imbibed the team with the ‘winning-spirit’, Dhoni brought the much required unity in the team through his off the field actions. He inculcated the ever missing spirit of brotherhood by making it a practice of visiting houses of other team members, sharing the family moments and even watching movies together. Dhoni has successfully applied the maxim ‘Family which dines together, stays together’ to the Indian cricket team.
Barack Obama
Democrat Barack Obama captured the White House on Nov. 4, 2008, after an extraordinary two-year campaign, defeating Republican John McCain to make history as the first black to be elected US president.
Obama will be sworn in as the 44th US president on Jan. 20, 2009. He will face a crush of immediate challenges, from tackling an economic crisis to ending the war in Iraq and striking a compromise on overhauling the health care system.
The win by Obama, son of a black father from Kenya and white mother from Kansas, marks a milestone in U.S. history. It came 45 years after the height of the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King.
He is a cool deliberator, a fluent communicator, a professor with a hunger for academic expertise but little interest in abstraction. He may be uncomfortable making decisions quickly or abandoning a careful plan, but would prize consensus, except when he would disregard it. His lifelong penchant for control would likely translate into a disciplined White House.
For Obama, winning the presidency is the latest in a lifetime of dramatic, self-induced transformations: from a child reared in Indonesia and Hawaii to a member of Chicago’s African-American community; from an atheist to a Christian; from a wonkish academic to the smoothest of politicians; and now, just possibly, from an upstart who eight years ago was crushed in a Congressional race to the first black commander in chief of the only superpower on earth.
Mr. Obama resists making quick judgments or responding to day-to-day fluctuations. Instead he follows a familiar set of steps: Perform copious research. Solicit expertise. Project all likely scenarios. Devise a plan. Anticipate objections. Adjust the plan, and once it’s in place, stick with it.
Mr. Obama has risen as an embodiment of transformation and hope for the US and indeed, the entire world.
Arvind Adiga
Mr. Adiga's achievement is an inspiration for youngsters to ponder over what is happening around them, in the society and in fact, around the world. He is an inspiration to act and contribute for the betterment of all.
Viswanathan Anand
Mr. Anand has shown a steady and consistent progress over the years to reach the pinnacle. His being at the peak of his career is an example that success requires an unflinching focus on the end goal and it does not come as a fluke.

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