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Thursday, February 22, 2018

insane human intrusion into animal zone !! - who pays the price ?


It is a rare phenomenon of human relations with animals – in some zoos, the animal keepers become so friendly with the animals, that they respond to human language and calling by names ! In life – sometimes there would be options ~
there have been occasions of man intruding in to the enclosure of wild animals and .. .. ..
o   in more than a couple occasions in Western World, the animal (though not at all faulty) was shot dead and humans saved !
o   in a Delhi incident, a man jumped into the cage – a 200 kg Tiger mauled him, while the gory incident was caught on mobile video and circulated widely.
o   Is there any other possibility ? .. . .. ??
 lion at Nandankanan zoo
Thiruvananthapuram Zoo is one of the oldest of its kind in India. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, who ruled Travancore between 1830 and 1847, established a menagerie where royal tigers, panthers, cheetahs, deer, boar, and other wild animals were kept. His brother Uthram Thirunal and British Resident William Cullen formally establish the zoo in 1857 as an annex to the Napier Museum.

The Zoo is in news as media reports and mobile phone footage shows a man jumping  into an open enclosure housing lions at the Zoo on Wednesday. The footage, filmed by a visitor at the zoo, shows the man crawl towards a lion's cage.  But unlike the earlier cases where either the animal was shot dead or the man getting killed, here was a happy ending – man saved by the alacrity of zoo workers.

Police say the man, scaled a barbed fence, jumped over a short wall and crossed a moat towards what appears to be the lion's cage this morning around 11 AM. On seeing this, another visitor immediately alerted zoo workers.  One media writes perhaps with a tinge of sadness that the alleged  face-off was not caught on camera.  In the footage, the insane mane is seen crawling towards the animal – however, the alert staff keeper of the animal, risked his life, entered the cage, lunged to grab the man and dragged him away with more workers helping them out.  It could have ended rather sadly, if the animal had attacked any of them.  

It is stated that the keepers acted with alacrity and good presence of mind, in trying to divert the attention of the lioness.  Further reports put the lioness as ‘gracy’ – which perhaps exhibited its  usual behaviour of running away at the sight of humans when she spotted a stranger  in her open enclosure.  It was gracious that  she didn't get time for her second act; lurking somewhere and pouncing back with all the might.

In an interesting story, TOI reports quoting Vimal, the zoo-keeper who has taken care of the lioness since she was born saying -  had the zoo-keepers been even a teeny bit late to act, she would have come back and attacked Murugan.“Whenever we get to the enclosure with her daily diet, she would run away first, only to come sprinting towards us from somewhere. May be, it was the presence of lot of men that dissuaded her from doing soon Wednesday or else it would have been tragic for that person,'' said Vimal.

The CCTV visuals in the enclosure show the intruder  crawling on all fours and the lioness running off on seeing him. The foolish person kept following the lion but in a  matter of few minutes zoo keepers entered the enclosure and dragged him out. It is further reported that Gracy, one among the two remaining lions in the city zoo was raised by the zoo vet and the keeper after her mother Aiswarya died of cancer. Nursing became essential as the cub used to be attacked by Ayush, its biological father.“She was born with deformed limbs. As a cub she was under incubation and had to be fed with goat milk and supplements through a syringe by the vet,'' said the other zoo keeper.  Till she was one year old, Gracy would gambol around Vimal as he prepared feed for other lions or cleaned the cages. When she was released into the open enclosure she would follow the familiar zoo staff whenever they walked by the enclosure.

They concluded - “For all her pet-like behaviour, she is still a lion and I have often experienced the animal instinct in Gracy even though I had raised her.'' Looks a real miraculous escape ! – happy ending for the person did not lose his life and the animal too was not harmed.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Feb 2018.

South Africa ~ not T20 news - remembering Thillaiyadi Valliyammai


Indian team has been on a surge and fans have been happy following the team’s winning performance in South Africa, but at Centurion it was a different tale.  First Junior Dala priced out Rohit & Kohli cheaply ~ then came a grand 98 run partnership between Manish Pandey and MS Dhoni that set up a target of 189.

Rohit Sharma, who hasn't been in the best of form since his arrival in South Africa, had another forgettable show with the bat as he was dismissed for a first-ball duck  by Junior Dala.   Rohit now has maximum ducks by an Indian batsman in T20 internationals. Prior to the match, he was jointly in the first place along with Ashish Nehra and Yusuf Pathan, who all have scored three golden ducks each in their T20I careers. ~ and in his 3rd over Chahal was torn apart by  JP Duminy and Heinrich Klaasen, who as hit for 23.  Yuzvendra Chahal conceded 64 runs in his four overs.

The worst bowling performance in T2oI  is by BJ McCarthy playing for Ireland against Afghanistan giving 4-0-69-0.  The next 64 has the names of Kyle Abbot, James Anderson, Sanath Jayasuriya, A Tye, BM Wheeler and Yuz  Chahal ~ while all of them gave 64 in 4 overs, Wheeler had figures of 3.1-0-64-0.

Whilst most of you would have read the match report on this day – 22nd Feb – not sure whether you remember to connect this day (South Africa to a small village in Tamil Nadu and a frail woman who died 103 years ago !)  If not read on – connecting the collection of these sarees to that woman – it is a photo taken at Coo-optex,  the Tamilnadu Handloom weavers’ cooperative society. 


This little village  has connection with Gandhiji … hundreds of people from here had gone gone to South Africa in the early 20th Century both as indentured and free labour. Several of them had been deported back after that first Satyagraha movement Gandhiji had launched while in South Africa ~ and one among them was a woman (rather a young girl) who lived for only 16 years.  Tharangambadi also known as Tranqubar is in Nagapattinam from where indentured labour from India, mostly Tamil and Telugu peasantry, left fromMadras aboard the S.S.Truro.

22nd February marks the death anniversary of  Thillayadi Valliammai, the revolutionary, famed to have inspired Mahatma Gandhi in his fight against colonial rule.  Born to Mangalam and Muthusamy Mudaliar, Valliammai was initiated into political struggle by Gandhi, when the colonial State of South Africa declared null and void all marriages forged outside of the South African law or Church law. Thousands of marriages were annulled. Valliammai marched with her mother from Transvaal to Natal protesting against the unjust laws. Valliammai also participated with her mother in protests against exorbitant taxes levied against workers. They were arrested and sentenced to three months of hard labour.

It is recorded that when Gandhi visited a fragile and ill Valliammai shortly after her release, the young girl vowed to be arrested any number of times to carry on the fight for people’s rights. Gandhi cited her as someone who inspired him to stay the course in the fight for equality in South Africa. But the girl’s physical health did not match her mental strength. Shortly after her release, Valliammai, all of 16 years, died on February 22, 1914.

Popularly called Thillaiyadi Valliammai, she had never been to her native village or for that matter to  India. She grew in an environment that was rather hostile to Indians.

A law had been passed that any marriage that is not according to the Church or according to the marriage law of South Africa would be held null and void, which disproportionately affected the Indian community in that country.  Young Valliammai joined her mother in the march by women from Transvaal to Natal – which was not legally permitted without passes. Valliamma, and her mother Mangalam, joined the second batch of Transvaal women who went to Natal in October 1913 to explain the inequity of the three pound tax to the workers and persuade them to strike. They visited different centres and addressed meetings. They were sentenced in December to three months with hard labour, and sent to the Maritzburg prison. Valliamma fell ill soon after her conviction, but refused an offer of early release by the prison authorities. She died shortly after release, on 22 February 1914.

Gandhi wrote in Satyagraha in South Africa about his meeting with Vallammai when she was emaciated and terribly ill.  She reportedly expressed her strength to fight, go to jail again, and even die fighting for the cause.  It is reported that Gandhi spoke about her in his meetings in Marina beach and also spoke at Wenlock park near Marina ground, overlooking the Triplicane MRTS station.


Now a Memorial hall including Public liabrary stands at the Thillaiyadi village. A commemorative stamp on her was released in Dec 2008. The main showroom of Cooptex at Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai – is named after ‘Thillaiyadi Valliammai’………

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Feb 2018.





Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Indian Coinage ! ~ buzz around Rs.10 coins ..


In the modern World, there are no rules for spending ~ one need not have anything to spend – not even Credit cards (plastic money) ! – people are wary of carrying coins – yet the Rs.10 coin has created so much of buzz that RBI is sending messages ! urging people that it continues to be a legal tender !!

There are legal tenders and there are  commemorative notes in coins – for example, in 2015, Reserve Bank of India  issued   10 coins to commemorate the International Day of Yoga - the obverse of the coin bears the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar in the center with the legend "सत्यमेव जयते" inscribed below, flanked on the left periphery with the word "भारत" in Devnagri script and on the right periphery flanked with the word "INDIA" in English. It also bears the Rupee symbol "" and denominational value "10" in the international numerals below the Lion Capitol. The reverse of the coin bears the logo of "International Day of Yoga", with inscription "सामंजस्य एवं शान्ति के लिए योग" in Devnagri Script and "YOGA FOR HARMONY AND PEACE" around the logo and design.

The  Government of India has the sole right to mint coins. The responsibility for coinage vests with the Government of India in terms of the Coinage Act, 1906 as amended from time to time. The designing and minting of coins in various denominations is also the responsibility of the Government of India. Coins are minted at the four India Government Mints at Mumbai, Alipore(Kolkata), Saifabad(Hyderabad), Cherlapally (Hyderabad) and NOIDA (UP). The coins are issued for circulation only through the Reserve Bank in terms of the RBI Act.   Coins in India are presently being issued in denominations of 50 paise, one rupee, two rupees and five rupees. Coins of  50 paise are called 'small coins' and coins of Rupee one and above are called 'Rupee Coins'. Coins can be issued up to the denomination of Rs.1000 as per the Coinage Act, 1906.

Coinage of India, issued by imperial dynasties and middle kingdoms - Cowry shells was first used in India as commodity money.  Metal currency was minted in India  during the famed  Mauryan Empire.    Coins of the Indian rupee were first minted in 1950. New coins have been produced annually since then and they make up a valuable aspect of the Indian currency system.  After Indian independence, British Indian coins were in use as a frozen currency until India became a republic in 1950. 

The first rupee coins of the Republic of India were minted in 1950. These included 1/2 rupee, 1/4 rupee, 2 anna, 1 anna, 1/2 anna & 1 pice coins, and are referred to as the anna series or pre-decimal coinage. Under the anna series, one rupee was divided into 16 annas or 64 pice, with each anna equal to 4 pice. In 1957, India shifted to the decimal system, though for a short period of time, both decimal and non-decimal coins were in circulation. To distinguish between the two pice coins in circulation, the coins minted between 1957 and 1964 were printed with the legend “Naya Paisa” (“New Paisa”).  The word "naya" was dropped in 1964 and a new denomination, the 3 paisa, was introduced into circulation.  Stainless steel coinage of 10, 25 and 50 paisa was introduced in 1988.  In 2005, the 10 rupee coin was minted for the first time.  On 30 June 2011, all coins in denominations of 25 paisa and below were officially demonetised.


Now it is the 10 rupee coin that is at the centre of controversy making the need for Indian Central Bank to send out   hundreds of millions of text messages   to protect the value of the Indian currency. It's powerful evidence of just how seriously governments take their task of ensuring the illusion that the cash in our pockets actually has value.  The issue is rather  simple: at some pockets especially in rural India,  people don't seem to believe that the 10 rupee coins are real and, as a result, they are unwilling to accept them.

Factually,  14 different kinds of 10 rupee coins have been issued by the bank between 2009 and 2017 ~ social media adding to the confusion circulating stories that a  man on his way to a job interview was forced to get off the bus because the conductor wouldn't accept 10 rupee coins, the only currency he had ! (there can be another movie on what happened to him by not attending the interview or a girl intervening to buy a ticket and a different story thereafter !)

Me too received a text   from the central bank urging me to accept the 10 rupee coins "without fear". The no. when called had a   recorded message, explaining that the Indian government has minted a number of different 10 rupee coins over the years, each with a different pattern, and that all are valid.  Members of the public should, it exhorted, "continue to accept coins of the 10 rupee denomination as legal tender in all their transactions without any hesitation".

Currencies are legal tender  - you take it for some service – and are able to buy anything of its value with everybody accepting it – other than the trouble of carrying coins in bulk, there should be no other impediment.  The worth of money isn't based on the inherent value of the paper or metal - it's forged from a collective act of trust.   The Indian central bank's PR offensive in defence of the 10 rupee coin is an attempt to ensure that the peoples' faith in the rest of the country's cash isn't undermined.

The recent circular issued by Reserve Bank of India reads :  It has come to the notice of RBI  that in certain places there is reluctance on part of traders and members of public to accept 10 coins due to suspicion about their genuineness. It is clarified that the Reserve Bank puts into circulation, the coins minted by mints, which are under the Government of India. These coins have distinctive features to reflect various themes of economic, social and cultural values and are introduced from time to time. As coins have longer life, coins of different designs and shapes circulate in the market at the same time. So far the Reserve Bank has issued 10 coins in 14 designs and the public has been informed of their distinctive features through Press Releases (list appended). All these coins are legal tender and can be accepted for transactions. The Reserve Bank has also advised banks to accept coins for transactions and exchange at all their branches.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Feb 2018.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bhuvi's achievement .. Captain of the Year ~ mating call of Tree Crickets


Everyone wants to present themselves in the best light - especially when it comes to finding a partner. Some rely on supplying honest information about their attributes while others exaggerate for good effect.

Could still remember that debut ball with which Bhuvi started his ODI career at Chepauk on Dec 30, 2012 against Pakistan  ~ Bhuvneshwar Kumar – a big inswinger from outside off, Mohammed Hafeez thought he was just letting it go harmlessly, as it came back took the Offstump .. .. after his recent success in T20 in SA, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is now the first Indian to have a five-for in each format. The economy rate of a run a ball too matters more - this in turn brings wickets, sometimes for other bowlers but, like on Sunday evening, for Bhuvneshwar himself.

Steven Smith, Nathan Lyon, Heather Knight, Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Amir are among the winners of the ESPNcricinfo Awards for the best performances in cricket in 2017.  Knight, the England Women captain, who led her side to the World Cup title, won the Captain of the Year award over Smith, Virat Kohli and Sarfraz Ahmed. It was the first time women were nominated in the category.  The T20I batting award went to Evin Lewis, who made 125 not out, the highest score in a T20I chase, in Kingston against India. Yuzvendra Chahal was voted the T20I bowling winner for his 6 for 25 against England in Bengaluru.  Kuldeep Yadav was adjudged Debutant of the year. Yadav, whose first international wicket was David Warner, in the Dharamsala Test, ended the year with 43 international wickets at 22.18, well ahead of his nearest spin rival on the shortlist, Pakistan legspinner Shadab Khan, who took 34 wickets at 25.35.

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith believes Aiden Markram's appointment as interim captain for the ODIs against India was "not the right decision," and hopes that his confidence hasn't taken a dent after the home team was comprehensively beaten 5-1.  Smith, who was himself handed the captaincy as a 22-year old after South Africa's early exit from the 2003 World Cup, said 23-year old Markram, who had only played two ODIs before he was thrust into the role, should have been allowed to "grow, develop and become a strong player." Markram made 8, 32, 22, 32 and 24 in five innings as captain, and finished the series with 127 runs at an average of just over 21.

Cricket is not all about players, statistics, winning and more ~ there could be some more too.   Tree crickets are insects of order Orthoptera. These crickets are in the subfamily Oecanthinae of the family Gryllidae .. .. How do you find a mate when you are just two centimetres in size and there aren’t very many who match your profile?

An old trick is to draw attention to yourself by creating a lot of noise. But the tiny tree crickets have taken this a step further: they amplify their mating calls using loudspeakers that they themselves build using leaves.  The Hindu reports that  scientists have discovered that the loudspeakers they make are almost maximally optimised for the purpose at hand: transform any given leaf into the best ‘amplifier’ it could be.

When these ingenious insects rub their wings together to generate sound, they also engineer a biological contraption known as a ‘baffle,’ which increases its volume. They do this by cutting a neat hole near the centre of a leaf, adjusting themselves within the hole, and flapping their wings against the leaf surface, thereby using it as a megaphone. A group of scientists from the United Kingdom and India studied how these insects (male Oecanthus henryi) selected the leaves and cut the holes. The findings were published recently in the journal eLife.

The team observed that the insects always followed three design rules for making the baffle: use the largest available leaf; make a hole the size of the wings and place the wings at the centre; and make the hole as close to the centre of the leaf as possible. They invariably select the best leaf and modify it appropriately, all in a single attempt. “Brain size is often conflated with intelligence. We ought to look at insects a bit harder and even what we think is stereotyped may not be so. Making baffles is almost certainly an inherited behaviour....and not really studied that much. When given a choice of two leaves, they always pick the bigger. They exercise what we call material selectivity. When it’s hard to find large leaves, they don’t waste time on the small leaves that make poor baffles,” writes Natasha Mhatre, who was part of the team at the University of Bristol, that conducted the study and the first author of the paper.

In an email to The Hindu, Rittik Deb of the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, and co-author of the paper, says: “The discovery that tree crickets can optimise acoustic baffles means we are just about beginning to tap into under-appreciated intelligence of insects.”

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th Feb 2018.