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Friday, July 20, 2018

planning one's retirement - speculation on MS Dhoni retiring !!

If you are over 50 – feel stressed in job; family reasonably well-settled, perhaps would have pondered on this already ! – and for such people this post may make an interesting read. crisis of existentialism !!

Retirements are  normal; We have seen so many in our lives with the passage of time…… it is a process where a person stops employment completely.  We are not speaking about anything forced but the natural retirement upon person reaching the prescribed age limit of 58 or 60….  In some ways, it is a happy event that somebody can take rest peacefully and perhaps devote his time and attention to religious or social activity ~ not required to work any longer……not all are fortunate..  retirement is  an emotional event for everyone and it is more emotional for the retiree.    In most PSU, there was a well established procedure……. ~ the Department would often conduct a ‘Farewell party’ – presided by the Head of the Organisation / Head of that particular Department / or a Senior Executive of the Organisation.  People will speak of all the good characteristics that the individual displayed in their service; followed by an emotional speech of acceptance by the retiring employee.  He for sure will be given gifts [personal and official – most importantly the retrial benefits], will be garlanded [mostly garland made of sandalwood], given fruits [apple] and dropped at home in office conveyance with some colleagues accompanying him / her back home.  [there of course is the cardinal rule that the retired employee better not go to the office for he may never get that respect again !!]

Even Pope retires; but in India where retirement is compulsory for all office goers, there is none for politicians…. In the 9th  Lok Sabha elections, there was this gentleman who at the ripe age of 89 was contesting the elections and actually won by a handsome margin too…. That was ‘Mr NG Ranga’.  My mind goes back to an ODI at Faridabad in Oct 17, 1994, where I felt my favourite national Hero was insulted by the Captain.

To millions of his followers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a phenomenon, a great thing to happen for Indian cricket.  Yet at this age, often his  future becomes  fodder for speculation.  There is so much after a small incident of his seeking the  match ball at the end of the lost third ODI against England. The 37-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman was seen seeking the ball from the umpires as players left the ground after India lost by eight wickets on Tuesday to go down 1-2 in the series.

"Is Dhoni retiring?" was the talking point as all and sundry ..  Dhoni asked for the ball from field umpires Bruce Oxenford  and Michael Gough (England) at Leeds ~ and immediately Twitter went abuzz rumouring that to be an act of taking a relice and that he may not be present again in an ODI .. .. how sad !! England put up a strong all-round show to thump Team India by eight wickets in the series-deciding third and final ODI . The series loss marks this Indian team's first bilateral series defeat under Virat Kohli. But more than the defeat, former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking the match ball from the umpires had the fans worried. India coach Ravi Shastri dismissed the rumours. "MS wanted to show the ball to Bharat Arun. He wanted to show him the wear and tear the ball had endured, to get a general idea of what the conditions were like." "But right now, all this clamour is nonsense. He just wanted to show the ball to Arun to just have a look at it after close to 45 overs had been bowled," Shastri told Times of India.

MSD sprung a surprise in 2014, downunder when he retired mid-way during the series at Australia after   the drawn Test against Australia in Melbourne. Dhoni was batting on 24 when the Test was called off early at the MCG - four overs were left and India had four wickets in hand - and he made no mention of his retirement during the customary captain's press conference at the end of the match. The announcement was made via a BCCI press release shortly after and it cited "the strain of playing all formats" as the reason.  He certainly has a lot of left as revealed by his wicketkeeping performance in this tour, the way he has taken catches and effected stumpings – a class of his own.

Shabby treatment to our heroes towards their retirement is perhaps nothing new to us.  Kapil Dev Nikhanj was the very best to occur for Indian Cricketer – the man burst into the scene making debut at Faislabad, when India was a land of spinner (more specifically the famous quarter of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandra and Venkat) – made Pak opener Sadiq Mohammed scurrying for cover, wearing a helmet, surprised by the pace of an Indian bowler. 

Dev’s finest moment was captaining the Team in 1983 WC triumph.  He retired in 1994, holding the world record for the most number of wickets taken in Test cricket, a record subsequently broken by Courtney Walsh in 2000. At the time, he was also India's highest wicket taker in both major forms of cricket, Tests and ODIs. He is the first player to take 200 ODI wickets. He is the only player in the history of cricket to have taken more than 400 wickets (434 wickets) and scored more than 5,000 runs in Tests.  There was some suggestion that he stayed a bit long, especially chasing that World record of highest wickets of Richard Hadlee. 

 The game would be better served if only the Q is – whether a player is good enough to represent the side, are there players who can substitute him, rather than comparing one with past deeds or weighting against expectations !! Kapil did play till early 1994, and by then he was over 35. That meant 16 years of international cricket, 16 years of wear and tear, 16 years of shouldering the burden of bowling in a nation not known for speedsters.

Before concluding the little master, the man with most compact defence, the run machine, Sunil Gavaskar always had things under his control.  He made a grand debut in West Indies  making  65 and 67 not out in the second Test in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, hitting the winning runs which gave India its first-ever win over the West Indies  in 1971. He followed this with his first century, 116 and 64* in the third Test in Georgetown, Guyana, and 1 and 117* in the Fourth Test in Bridgetown, Barbados. He returned to Trinidad for the fifth Test and scored 124 and 220 to help India to its first ever series victory over the West Indies.  He played his last Test innings – the 5th test at Bangalore in Mar 1987 – having become the first batsman to score 10000 test runs.  The wicket was a square turner and Pakis were bowled out for 116.  In a minefield of a pitch, in  4th innings, he made a stoic 96 only to see India lost by 16 runs.  He was the man of the match in his last test. Months later, in Reliance World Cup  at his home in Mumbai in Nov 5, 1987, India lost to England when Graham Gooch swept everything.  Gavaskar made 4 but in the match earlier (his penultimate match) he made his first century in ODI and was joint man of the match with Chetan Sharma, who took a hattrick.

Getting back to that Faridabad onedayer which India lost, the captain Mohammed Azharuddin, sort of plucked the ball from Kapil Dev’s hands as he returned nonchalantly to bowl his next over – he had bowled hundreds of them for the Nation – India played with Manoj Prabhakar, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Rajesh Chauhan and yet Kapil was given only 5 overs – rest bowled by Sachin Tendulkar.  Retirements are but common !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th July 2018.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

school admission ~ trauma of parents waiting !!

More than 130 parents at a primary school queued from 3am in a bid to secure their child a place at a breakfast club in the new school term reads an article in MailOnline .. .. 

how were you admitted in to school and as a parent what is your experience attending an interview for admission of your child ??  ~ 130 is no great number – we get more applicants for our free tuition centre – SYMA Growth .. .. in mid 1970s, my parents had some difficulty in enrolling my elder sister in to 3rd standard of N. Samarao School at Singarachari St. .. .. an innocuous statement by the school authorities, that enrolling in 1st Standard (no L.Kg / U.Kg at that time) – made by parents put me into school – even they had not planned and had taken simply because there was none to take care ! ~ and thus began my education career .. ..

Cardiff, is the capital and largest city in Wales and the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom.  Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales; in June 2013, in ICC trophy ODI, India made 331 / 7 aided by a century of Shikhar Dhawan and 65 by Rohit – South Africa were defeated b6 26 runs.   Indians fielded well and Dhoni squeezed the lift out of SA chase with his shrewd employment of spinners – Ravi Ashwin, Ravi Jadeja and Suresh Raina.

 ‘Abhyium & Nanum’ movie was interesting – it revolved around Raghuraman and his home in Ooty. The way he narrates the story of his daughter Abhi's enrollment in school and his endless preparations for the 'parents' interview, not to mention his wife Anu's own treatment, was hilarious.

A couple of years back, The Hindu had an article on a techie taking half a day’s leave from work to collect the LKG admission form for his 4-year-old daughter from a famous Chennai convent.  He realised he had arrived late – he was there at 6 a.m. — only to find out that many other parents, also seeking LKG admission for their children, had parked themselves at the school much earlier. To avoid the rush, the school had put up notices outside asking parents to not wait as plenty of forms available, but this did not help. While some came in the morning, a large number had begun queuing up since the previous night.  This year for the 30 odd seats in each section of SYMA tuition centre, we issued around 70 applications for Commerce group alone i.e., ensured issuance of application for all those who stood in the queue at the appointed hour – then in due process, we selected our students – we had set our eyes on random no. generation even !!!

The story reported in MailOnline is about   Ysgol Y Berllan Deg in Cardiff, Wales, that opens up applications for its before-school breakfast club, which has had a capacity as low as 80 pupils in the past.  When it opened, parents were  pictured lining the road outside the school on fold-out chairs with flasks of tea to hand as they hoped to bag a slot for each of their children.

But with only 135 places available, some of the 130 parents, some with more than one child, faced disappointment, with a potential nightmare to come when the new term begins in September. The breakfast club is a government scheme aimed at providing primary school children with the opportunity of receiving a free, healthy breakfast at school each day. For many parents with a long commute it is vital as it allows them to drop their kids off early and get to work on time. The school opened its applications for the next school year today and some parents were so worried about missing out they queued through the night outside the school gates.

Front of the queue was Annett Farrow from Carmarthen, whose grandchild goes to the school. 'We have been on the road since 1am and got here at 3am,' she said. 'My son and daughter-in-law are on holiday so we had to come. If it gets them a place it will have been worth it. Another said - 'We have bought biscuits and crisps - the only problem is the toilets. We have been using the toilets in the hotel opposite!' For some parents like Leanne Taylor, who has been in her chair since 3.30am, there  is no back-up plan. She said: 'I have two children, one of whom is starting in reception in September. 'I had to do this last year when it did rained a bit. I had only moved into my house two days before and I didn’t have internet.  'I planned to bring my laptop and do some work while I waited. The police turned up and asked what I was doing!'  According to Leanne there is no other option for her if she wants to maintain her career. She said: 'For some it is essential. I work opposite Tredegar House and I drive in. If I drop them off at 8.30 I won’t be getting into work until 10 because of the traffic. 'If I didn’t have this I would not be able to go to work- I can’t risk not getting a place, I don’t have a plan B.

'The ones that are here first are the ones that need it most. It gets longer and earlier because the people who did not get a place last year will get here earlier this year.'  Another parent, who did not want to be named, said that in previous years it had been slightly different. 'It is a big talking point among parents,' she said. 'You get a text two weeks before and then a letter. It goes straight in the diary. I have been doing this for two years and this is the biggest queue I have seen. 'I don’t know how a single parent would be able to do it as they would have to bring their children with them. 'In previous years people have bought multiple forms for friends and that has been banned because it wasn’t fair on the people who queued up. The atmosphere is much nicer this year.' Some parents are now veterans of the process. In spring this year, Prime Minister Theresa May unleashed £26million to support school breakfast clubs. The cash was taken from a sugar tax on soft drinks and spread across 1,770 state schools in England, boosting a way for parents to take care of their children while still getting to work early.  The levy worked out at 24p per litre on soft drinks which contain more than 8g of sugar per 100ml.

Over the border in Wales, the devolved Welsh Assembly has aimed to offer all primary pupils the chance of receiving free breakfasts each day since 2013. The move was intended to boost health and classroom concentration as well as tackle health inequality.  Sections 88 – 90 of the School Standards & Organisation Act 2013 state: 'Local authorities must provide free breakfast to all pupils in maintained primary schools that have requested them'. 

Places changes, sometimes scenes do not !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th July 2018.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Russian warship Dimitrii Donskoi, claimed to have been spotted for salvage !

A South Korean salvage team has discovered the wreck of Russian warship Dimitrii Donskoi, 113 years after it sank.   

In law, abandonment is the relinquishment, giving up or renunciation of an interest, claim, civil proceedings, appeal, privilege, possession, or right, especially with the intent of never again resuming or reasserting it.  In general, to abandon is to give up or renounce. However, the word abandonment is used in different senses in marine insurance.  It may simply refer to the act of physically quitting a vessel, usually when a casualty is in danger, imperilling the safety of those on board. With particular reference to Marine Insurance (MI Act)  - the general concept of abandonment is contemplated when there is a Constructive Total loss (CTL).  According to MI Act, where there is a CTL, the assured may either treat the loss as a partial loss or abandon the subject matter insured to the Insurer and treat the loss as if it were an actual total loss.  Further proviso in the Act states – ‘where the assured elects to abandon the subject matter to the Insurer, he must give notice of abandonment’- if he fails to do so, the loss can only be treated as a partial loss.

For pursuing a claim as CTL, the assured must abandon (the ship or goods) to the Insurer by way of notice of abandonment.  Here the meaning of ‘abandonment’  constitutes the transfer of the subject matter insured from the assured to the Insurer in return for a full indemnity.  Insurers must tread carefully, for acceptance means, they do not only get proprietary rights but also any possible liabilities  !!!

Dmitrii Donskoi,  was an armoured cruiser built for the Imperial Russian Navy in the early 1880s. She was designed as a commerce raider and equipped with a full suite of sails to economize on coal consumption. The ship spent the bulk of her career abroad, either in the Far East or in the Mediterranean. Dmitrii Donskoi was assigned to the Second Pacific Squadron after the Japanese destroyed the Russian ships deployed in the Far East during the early stages of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05. The squadron was intercepted by the Japanese fleet in May 1905 in the Battle of Tsushima after a lengthy voyage from the Baltic.

 Dmitrii Donskoi took part in the Battle of Tsushima, which was disastrous for Russia. It fled crippled and chased by Japanese warships and was eventually scuttled by its crew to avoid surrender off the coast of what is now South Korea’s Ulleung Island, or Ulleungdo.  The cruiser is a coveted target for treasure hunters. According to some historical accounts, the Dmitrii Donskoi carried the treasury of the entire flotilla, meant to cover port expenses and pay the salaries of sailors and officers. Individual gold reserves of several other ships damaged in the battle may have been transported to the warship as well.  There has been belief that whoever manages to find the wreck site may become a very wealthy person.

Shinil Group, a South Korean company, says it knows where the ship lies. On Tuesday it said its exhibition used a couple of submersibles to dive 434 meters deep in seas 1.3 kilometers off the island and found the rusty hull of the armored Russian warship. Footage and photos released by the treasure hunters clearly shows the word ‘Donskoi’ written in Cyrill.   .. .. and according to its finders,  Donskoi is believed to have been carrying the gold supplies of the entire Second Pacific Squadron when it sank, which would be worth $133billion at today's prices.

Divers from salvage firm Shinil Group have been searching for the wreck for years and finally located it on Saturday at a depth of 1,400ft (434m) around a mile off the coast of Ulleungdo. Teams concluded that the wreckage was likely the Donskoi because its sail plan appeared identical to the long-lost ship, which had three sails and two chimney stacks, relying on both wind and coal power to drive it. A second exploration of the wreck the following day confirmed it to be the Donskoi after the ship's name was spotted written in Cyrillic across its stern. Divers said the stern of the ship is in a poor condition along with the hull which has partially split, but that the upper wooden deck remains largely intact. The armour on the side of the hull is well-preserved while the cannons, machine guns, anchor and steering wheel are all still in place.

Even as salvage divers claimed to have located her, a Russian campaign group has since demanded that the entire fortune be returned to Moscow as a 'goodwill gesture'.  Yaroslav Livanskiy, an official of the Russian Public Movement to Commemorate Those Who Died Defending the Motherland, led the calls. Livanskiy, who is also head of a salvage group in eastern Russia, said: 'The cruiser is a priceless find for Russia, an invaluable relic, a symbol of our heroic and tragic past, a part of military history of Russia.  'Therefore whatever was discovered on board of the cruiser is inseparable from the overall value of the find.'

The ship was escorting transport vessels at the rear of the Second Pacific Squadron when the flotilla was attacked by a much larger Japanese force at the Battle of Tsushima.  A large number of iron boxes were also discovered in the ship's hold, which may contain the gold, though divers have not yet been able to open them. Operations are now underway to raise the wreck from the sea bed along with companies from China, Canada and the UK. Shinil Group believes there could be as much as 200 tons of gold on board the ship, which would be worth around $133.4billion.  Should their hopes prove correct, they have pledged to donate 10 per cent of their find to help develop Ulleungdo, which is a largely uninhabited island but an important tourist destination for South Korea. Development plans would include a museum dedicated to the ship, according to The Telegraph. Another 10 per cent will be gifted to Russia as the owner of the wreck, and would be used on projects such as a railway to connect Russia and South Korea running through North Korea.

At least 60 of the crew were killed and 120 more wounded, including Captain Ivan Lebedev, who ordered the ship to anchor off Ulleungdo and took his men ashore.  Given a history of false claims about discovering the Donskoi in the past, Shinil Group has promised to bring some of Lebedev's personal effects to the surface as further proof of their discovery.  The salvage operation is scheduled to begin October and November and further finds will be presented to the public in December, RT reported.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th July 2018
~ largely reproduced from Daily Mail UK.  Saint Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy (1350 – 1389)  son of Ivan II the Fair of Moscow,  reigned as the Prince of Moscow from 1359 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1363 to his death. He was the first prince of Moscow to openly challenge Mongol authority in Russia. His nickname, Donskoy (i.e., "of the Don"), alludes to his great victory against the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo (1380), which took place on the Don River.

Novak Djokovic, the Serb relishes grass at Wimbledon - 2018

“It tastes very, very good this year, he said after with a laugh. “It’s a little tradition obviously. As a kid I was dreaming of winning Wimbledon, so, like every child, you dream of doing something crazy when you actually achieve it — if you achieve it — and that was one of the things.”  ~ can you imagine what this reference is to – when the Serbian won Wimbledon ??

Serbia's finance ministry said on Tuesday it sold 4.1 billion dinars ($40.7 million/34.7 million euro) of five-year dinar-denominated Treasury notes in a reopening of the issue. The amount sold is 15.02% of the target, the finance ministry said in a statement. The government securities were first auctioned on January 23, when the finance ministry raised 11.6 billion dinars, below its target of 110 billion dinars, at an average weighted yield of 4.28%. Demand for the government debt paper, which matures on January 25, 2023, stood at 10.3 billion dinars.

                          Serbia   is a sovereign state situated at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe in the southern Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. It borders Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro  and claims a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Its capital, Belgrade, ranks among the oldest  cities in southeastern Europe. Following the Slavic migrations to the Balkans postdating the 6th century, Serbs established several states in the early Middle Ages. The Serbian Kingdom obtained recognition by Rome and the Byzantine Empire in 1217, reaching its peak in 1346.  Following disastrous casualties in World War I, and the subsequent unification of the former Habsburg crownland of Vojvodina (and other territories) with Serbia, the country co-founded Yugoslavia with other South Slavic peoples, which would exist in various political formations until the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. During the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia formed a union with Montenegro, which dissolved peacefully in 2006. In 2008, the parliament of the province of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence, with mixed responses from the international community.

Last year, Federer beat Nadal in the Australian Open final, the Spaniard won a 10th French Open final, Federer took the Wimbledon title and then Nadal won the US. For the large numbers of fans of the two men across the globe -  it was a joyous battle. But it was not a good advert for men’s tennis and it continued this year as they both defended titles in Australia and France respectively. This year was different at Wimbledon.

Anderson had come into the final less than 48 hours after beating John Isner in a six-and-a-half-hour epic that saw him triumph 26-24 in the fifth set. His opponent Novak Djokovic was also faced with a physical challenge after his semi-final was postponed midway through by the 11pm curfew and he and Rafael Nadal were forced to come back on Saturday to finish the match. However, it was still Anderson who appeared to be struggling with tiredness the most and that might have accounted for his extremely unusual error.

The South African had already lost the first set 6-2, his towering serve broken twice by Djokovic, and was serving at 0-2 in the second after being broken again. The Serb had forced the game to deuce and the pair found themselves in the middle of a baseline rally when umpire James Keothavong was forced to intervene and stop the point. A spare ball had dropped out of Anderson’s pocket onto the court which is a mandatory let the first time it happens - the second time incurs a point penalty on the part of the offending player. The replay of the point ended up in another battle from the baseline and Anderson ended up winning it anyway, much to Djokovic’s frustration.

Anderson, a prolific server, was broken four times in the opening two sets as Djokovic stormed into the lead. The 6ft 8ins giant had five set points to take it into a fourth at 5-4 and 6-5 - only to squander them all. Djokovic then moved up a gear in the tie-break to take a 6-2 6-2 7-6 win in 2hr 18mins. The Serb's win extended the domination of the big four - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and himself. The quartet have now won 48 of the last 53 major championships.

Back home, World no.1 Novak Djokovic was greated by 100,000 people in front of the National Assembly of Serbia in Belgrade on Monday. Thousands of people lined up the streets as Novak, accompanied by his family and members of his professional team, drove from the airport in an open-top bus to the centre of the city, bringing traffic to a standstill and triggering ovations from citizens. People got out of their cars on the main motorway to salute Serbia’s most popular athlete, whose entire family paraded alongside him on a giant stage where bands entertained the crowd. “Nole, we love you”, “Nole the king”, the crowd chanted as Nole stepped on a stage holding a replica of the Wimbledon trophy.

Earlier  Djokovic prompted controversy at home after he announced he would be supporting the Croatian national football team as they enter the final stretches of the World Cup in Russia. The two neighbors and former Yugoslav nations have had tense relations since Croatia won its independence in 1995 following a bloodly conflict. Although they established diplomatic ties shortly thereafter, the subsequent two decades have been punctuated by mutual accusations of war crimes and an intense sports rivalry.

"Only idiots can support Croatia. Aren't you ashamed Novak?" tweeted politician Vladimir Djukanovic, a member of President Aleksander Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party. "Djokovic is a national hero and I thank him — but support Croatia, how can he not be ashamed? So many Serbs from Krajina (a region in Croatia where Serbs were once the majority) backed him and yet he supports the country who drove them out." The parliamentarian also called anyone who supported Croatia in their recent win over Russia "psychopaths and mad, fit for being locked up in an asylum." Defending himself in the Serbian daily Telegraf, the 12-time grand slam winner said: "Sports have their 'universal language,' they erase boundaries between people, overcome differences in religion, race and nationality."

Now if you still remember reference to the bizarre incident – of the taste referred in para 1 – Novak Djokovic has the habit of eating blades of grass after his win at Wimbledon.  After his 4th title, he  performed his traditional Wimbledon victory celebration by kneeling down, grabbing a few blades of grass and tasting them to savor his win on the most hallowed court in tennis.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th July 2018.