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  1. India men's badminton team celebrated their historic win at the Thomas Cup. India's badminton team on Sunday stunned 14-time champions Indonesia at the men's finals for a historic win at the 2022 Thomas Cup. Sports journalist Susan Ninan reports on the significance of the title for a team that had never made it to the finals in the event's 73-year history. On Sunday, India showed up to play in the final against Indonesia - the most successful country in the history of the team event - with an appetite for an unlikely win. The India men's team has little tradition of success at the world championship in this sport. But their Thomas Cup win has all the makings of a defining sporting moment - rarity, incredulity and impact. Singles player Lakshya Sen hustled from a game down against world number five Anthony Sinisuka Ginting to first put India in the lead at 1-0. Next, doubles duo Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty came back from four match points down against three-time world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo to bring the lead up to 2-0. Rankireddy and Shetty had previously lost to one half of this opposing pair 11 times in a row. The final act was left to former world number one Kidambi Srikanth, who hadn't lost a match all week. Srikanth played the match of his life in this final - with gif-worthy reflex returns, signature smash-follow up charges and a final cross-court smash that will inhabit highlight reels for posterity. Former world number Kidambi Srikanth played the match of his life in the final. The Thomas Cup is named after George Alan Thomas, an English player from the 1900s who proposed the idea of a championship tournament for badminton, borrowing from the World Cup in football and the Davis Cup in tennis. Since the event began in 1948, India has qualified for only 13 of its 32 editions. In the tournament's seven-decade-long history, the championship title has changed hands only among five nations - China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Denmark. With its win on Sunday, India became only the sixth country ever to break into this elite club. India entered the 16-nation team event earlier this month with its best men and a bold claim on the title on the players' WhatsApp chat group: "It's coming home". Doubles duo Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty fought to come back from four match points down. The Indian players were perhaps the only side to turn up at the tournament in plain Yonex jerseys because the team doesn't have an official sponsor yet. (Maybe this win will inspire change and spark corporate interest.) The team wasn't exactly an underdog, like Leicester City with its 5000-1 odds in the 2015 English Premier League. But neither were they the easy favourites. They were in a comfortable place of being able to dream about a win without being complacent. Through the next several days, India played against nations with greater pedigree - Malaysia and Denmark - and crossed the biggest hurdles - playing against top seeds and defending champions - to make its way to a historic spot in the finals.
  2. Refugees arriving at the Polish border. The World Bank has approved $723m (£551m) in loans and grants for Ukraine, as the country fights against a Russian invasion. The bank said it is continuing to work on another $3bn package of support in the coming months for the country. It also promised extra help for neighbouring countries that are taking in more than 1.7m refugees, which are mostly women, children and the elderly. The financial package for Ukraine includes a $100m pledge from the UK. "The World Bank Group is taking quick action to support Ukraine and its people in the face of the violence and extreme disruption caused by the Russian invasion," the bank's president David Malpass said in a statement. The bank said the funds would help Ukraine's government provide critical services, including wages for hospital workers, pensions for the elderly and social programmes for the vulnerable. Russia says it may cut gas supplies if oil is blocked War is unleashing 'hell on earth' for food prices McDonald's and Coca-Cola boycott calls grow The package includes a $350m loan, augmented by about $139m through guarantees from the Netherlands and Sweden. It is also made up of $134m in grants from Britain, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania and Iceland, as well as $100m of financing from Japan. Last week, Mr Malpass told the BBC that the war was "a catastrophe" for the world which will cut global economic growth. "The war in Ukraine comes at a bad time for the world because inflation was already rising," he said. He stressed that his biggest concern was "about the pure human loss of lives".
  3. India is the world's third largest consumer of oil, behind US and China. With Brent crude - the international benchmark for oil prices - surging to $113 a barrel sparked by the war in Ukraine, is India headed for an oil price shock? The price rise, the highest since June 2014, is worrying India no end. Guzzling up to 5.5 million barrels every day, India is the world's third largest consumer of oil, behind US and China. But India imports 85% of its oil from more than 40 countries. The bulk of supplies come from the Middle East and the US. (India imports only 2% of its supplies from Russia.) Imports include oil which it converts to petroleum products after refining. India exports petroleum products - accounting for more than 13% of its total exports - to more than 100 countries. Oil price rises again as buyers shun Russian fuel Demand for oil is growing at 3-4% every year in the country. In a decade, India could easily end up consuming more than 7 million barrels a day, say experts. Much of the oil goes into keeping some 300 million vehicles on the road and for different industries such as petrochemicals and plastics. India uses diesel to produce some 80,000 mega-watts of electricity. Diesel generators provide electricity to a lot of private housing. India's tax revenues are also heavily dependent on oil. Oil accounts for more than 50% of federal excise duties - tax collected on goods produced within the country. States depend on oil taxes to shore up their revenues. "We are the hottest market for oil. And there is no other country among large emerging economies which is more vulnerable to high oil prices than India," Narendra Taneja, a leading energy expert, said. a exports refined petroleum products to more than 100 countries The health of India's economy is inextricably connected to oil. The government's latest Economic Survey has projected 8-8.5% growth on the assumption that oil prices would remain between $70-$75 a barrel. "Oil prices at anything more than $68-$70 a barrel is bad news for our economy," Mr Taneja said. For one, it widens India's current account deficit when the value of imports of goods, services and investment income exceeds exports. Second, it puts pressure on prices at a time when inflation has already climbed to above 6%. High oil prices also hurt growth and slow down the economy as people end up spending more money on energy and spend less on other things. And when growth sputters, the government's fiscal calculations can go completely awry. The pandemic battered Asia's third-largest economy, which was already in the throes of a prolonged slowdown. It is still struggling: growth slowed down to 5.4% in October-December 2021. Joblessness is rife. A further slowdown triggered by an oil price shock will leave the government with less money to spend on a planned massive infrastructure push to spur growth and welfare benefits and subsidies. Russian oil makes up around 8% of global supply "At the end of the day, high oil prices end up shrinking the government's resources", said Dharmakirti Joshi, chief economist at Crisil, a ratings and analytics firm. Many believe that India's ample $633bn (£473bn) foreign exchange reserves provide a good cushion to weather an oil price shock. Also, oil-producing countries could ramp up production to bring prices down and offer relief. Experts believe the rise in oil prices over fears of supply disruptions from the war in Ukraine shows that India needs to decentralise its energy policy by letting states come up with their own initiatives - seaboard states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal could harness the plentiful wind energy, for example - and push "every single source of energy" that is available. Per-capita consumption of energy in India is still among the lowest in the world. "The war in Ukraine is a major wake-up call for us to plan our energy security better," Mr Taneja said. The last time oil prices surged past $100 in 2014, India battled high inflation, the current account deficit shot through the roof and growth slowed. "How long this war will continue and how high the prices will rise to we don't know. There's so much uncertainty. It is like driving in the fog. You don't really know what lies ahead," Mr Joshi said.
  4. Ukrainian troops take a grenade launcher from a destroyed Russian infantry vehicle in Kharkiv. India has had to walk a diplomatic tightrope over Ukraine in the past few days as it tried to balance its ties with Moscow and the West. Delhi's first statement in the UN Security Council (UNSC) did not name any country directly but it said it regretted that calls from the international community to give diplomacy and dialogue a chance had not been heeded. It, however, stopped short of criticising Russia. And before the UNSC voted on a draft UN resolution to condemn the invasion, Delhi faced calls from Russia, the US and Ukraine "to do the right thing". Ukraine and Russia even issued public appeals for Delhi to take a clear stand. India chose to abstain from the vote but a careful reading of its statement suggests that it did go a step further and indirectly asked Moscow to respect international law. India talked about the importance of "the UN Charter, international law, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states", adding that "all member states need to honour these principles in finding a constructive way forward". But India's decision to abstain raised questions, particularly in the West, over whether the world's largest democracy should have taken a clearer stand. Former Indian diplomat JN Misra says India "has bad and worse options to pick from". "One can't tilt both ways at the same time. India has not named any country, which shows it won't go against Moscow. India had to be subtle in picking a side and it has done that," he adds. There are several reasons for India's quest to find a diplomatic balance over Ukraine. The most important are India's time-tested defence and diplomatic ties with Moscow. The S-400 missile system is seen as crucial for India's defence needs Russia continues to be India's largest arms supplier even though its share has dropped to 49% from 70% due to India's decision to diversify its portfolio and boost domestic defence manufacturing. Also, Russia is supplying equipment like the S-400 missile defence system which gives India crucial strategic deterrence against China and Pakistan, and that is the reason why it went ahead with the order despite threats of looming US sanctions. Defence supplies matter Moreover, it's hard for Delhi to overlook decades of history of diplomatic co-operation with Russia on several issues. Moscow has vetoed UNSC resolutions over disputed Kashmir in the past to help India keep it a bilateral issue. In this context, India appears to be following its famed strategy of non-alignment and promoting dialogue to resolve issues. Michael Kugelman, deputy director at think tank the Wilson Center, says India's stand is not surprising as it's consistent with its past strategy. He adds that Delhi doesn't "seem comfortable with what is happening in Ukraine but it's not likely to change its stand". "It simply can't afford to do so at the moment because of its defence and geopolitical needs," he says. Though he adds that Delhi has chosen some strong words in the UNSC to show it's not comfortable with the situation in President Putin and PM Modi share good relations India also has the tough task of trying to evacuate 20,000 citizens, mostly students, from Ukraine. Former Indian diplomat Anil Triguniyat, who served in Moscow and also in Libya where he oversaw the evacuation of Indian citizens when conflict broke out in 2011, says safety assurances are needed from all parties in a conflict to run a successful evacuation operation. "India can't take a side at the risk of endangering the safety of its citizens. Moreover, it's seeing the holistic picture which involves keeping channels open with everyone," he adds.
  5. The first of three Air India flights to Kyiv left on Tuesday morning A special flight left for Kyiv on Tuesday morning to evacuate Indian nationals stranded amid an escalating crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Air India's Dreamliner B-787 aircraft with a capacity of over 200 seats has been deployed, reports ANI news agency. This comes as 150,000 Russian troops are positioned close to Ukraine's borders. Russia's Vladmir Putin has denied planning to attack Ukraine but the US believes he will soon. India has told the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that the safety and security of its nationals is essential. "More than 20,000 Indian students and nationals live and study in different parts of Ukraine, including in its border areas. The well-being of Indians is of priority to us," India's Permanent Representative to United Nations, TS Tirumurti said, according to ANI news agency. Air India had announced on 18 February that it would operate three flights between India and Ukraine's Boryspil International Airport on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this week. The first of the three flights from Ukraine will land in capital Delhi on Tuesday night, ANI reports. The Embassy of India in Kyiv issued an advisory on the special flights on Monday, tweeting that additional flights are being organised "in view of the continued high level of tensions and uncertainties of the current situation in Ukraine". The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. View original tweet on Twitter Presentational white space The Indian government had removed restrictions on flights to and from Ukraine earlier this month. The move from Delhi comes amid increasing tensions in the region. According to the US, Russia has moved more than 150,000 troops close to Ukraine's borders, both in Russia and Belarus. Russia says it has no plans to invade Ukraine but on 18 February, US President Joe Biden said he believed Mr Putin had decided to attack "in the coming days". Several Western nations accuse Russia of cooking up a fake crisis in certain regions in Ukraine to give it a reason to launch an offensive. At an emergency meeting called by the UNSC, India said the escalation of tensions "is a matter of deep concern". "We call for restraint on all sides. We're convinced that this issue can only be resolved through diplomatic dialogue. We need to give space to recent initiatives undertaken by parties which seek to diffuse tensions," Mr Tirumurti said. India said it strongly emphasises the "vital need for all sides to maintain international peace and security by exercising the utmost restraint and intensifying diplomatic efforts to ensure that a mutually amicable solution is arrived at the earliest."
  6. The guests were sitting on a metal slab covering the well At least 13 people have died after falling into a well during a wedding ceremony in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Police said the victims - all women and children - were sitting on a metal slab covering the well when it collapsed under their weight. Two more people have been injured in the accident, which took place in Kushinagar district. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the deaths "heart-wrenching". The tragedy took place on Wednesday evening during the traditional "haldi" ceremony, in which relatives apply turmeric paste to the faces of the bride and groom as a marker of prosperity. When the slab broke, other guests ran to rescue the victims and took them to a nearby hospital. While 11 people were declared dead immediately, two others died later during treatment, police said.
  7. Mangeshkar was cremated in Mumbai city with full state honours Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar died on Sunday. A prolific artist, she recorded more songs than the Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined - and she will be remembered as one of the world's greatest singers. But for many South Asians around the world, she leaves another legacy. I remember the first time I heard her voice - it was mesmerising. I was about eight years old and I was watching a black and white Bollywood film, when the leading lady burst into song. The sound was unlike anything I'd heard before - high-pitched yet perfect, the voice didn't strain as it travelled up the octaves hitting the top notes. "It's not the actress singing, it's Lata Mangeshkar," my mum informed me. "She's the voice of Bollywood". In Indian films, which are largely musicals, "playback singers" lend their vocals to actors who lip sync the lyrics. And Lata Mangeshkar's was a voice actresses coveted most. As I started to listen to more of her music, it was easy to understand why she was so revered - her voice was filled with an intensity that conveyed both passion and pain. If you listen, you'll know what I mean. You don't even have to understand the lyrics (I often don't) to appreciate her songs. And to so many South Asians around the world, her songs represented much more than a mere melody - she was the voice of a faraway land many of us barely knew, but wished we did. As the child of immigrants, born and raised in Milton Keynes, I craved connections to the culture and country my parents called home. Lata Mangeshkar transported me there. As I sat on the garden bench pressing play and rewind on my yellow sports Walkman with its chunky plastic buttons, I closed my eyes and imagined I was in India. And I wasn't alone in this.
  8. Four people from the UK have won the EuroMillions jackpot this year A UK ticket-holder has won a £109.9m EuroMillions jackpot. The winning numbers were 3, 25, 38, 43, 49 and the lucky star numbers were 3 and 7. A UK player matched all seven numbers to scoop the top prize and lottery firm Camelot is urging players to check their tickets to see if they have won. While it is a huge sum of money, the win is not in the top five highest UK winners, with a British record of £170m claimed in October 2019. How to spend your jackpot What do lottery winners spend their money on? 'We sat in the garden giggling like children' Andy Carter, senior winners' adviser at The National Lottery, said: "What an amazing night for a single UK ticket-holder who has scooped tonight's whopping £109.9 million special EuroMillions Super Jackpot. "Players are urged to check their tickets and give us a call if they think they are tonight's lucky winner."
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