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Friday, April 27, 2012

Ghol fish rains gold for Gujarat fisherman


Protonibea diacanthus is a species of fish of the family of esci̬nids and the order of Perciformes Рhave you heard of Otter boards ?

India dots a long coastline and fishing is the livelihood of many.  There are many variants of fishing boats right from the contraptions of catamarans to big factory ships.  Along the coastline are the Fishing harbour from which many Trawlers, again of varying sizes operate.  For a commoner, a fishing trawler (also called a dragger) is a commercial fishing vessel designed for fishing in a method that involves pulling fishing nets that are spread along the bottom of the sea.   Depending upon the size, area, local conditions and the availability of fishing, fisherfolk go for day, 3, 5 or more days of venturing into the sea.  In one variant of trawlers, there would be rectangular boards known as otter boards, which keep the mouth of the trawl net open.  The boards are made of timber and would weigh heavily.  The net is further kept open by floats and other equipments.  

There are trawl owners and then people employed on board for wages.  Many a times, the lives of those on sea are in a pitiable condition due to varying reasons including vagaries of sea, low catch, no profitable marketing and more.  Occasionally there could be bounty too…  once heard in Kakinada that trawlers had huge catch of prawns and many netted lakhs of rupees – one of the versions was that floods had breached the bunds of Naraspur prawn farms and the fresh water prawns upon entering sea were gaining weight and were caught in huge numbers – the veracity not known !

Now there is another story of riches this time in the Gujarat coast.  Newspaper reports have it that a fisherman from Jamnagar in his late forties has become overnight crorepati – not from all his experience for 2 or more decades but from one catch. He struck virtual gold mine, when he caught some 350-odd ghol fish from Jhakhau creek in mid-sea. The catch is worth close to Rs 1 crore.  It is stated that the  value of ghol fish, scientifically known asprotonibea diacanthus, comes from its fins which are used in the pharmaceutical industry to manufacture dissolvable stitches. It is also used in wine purification and is exported to countries like Singapore. It is three to 4.5 feet in length and can weigh up to 20 kg.


It is the rag to riches story of a fisherman with just one medium-sized boat, whose family has struggled to make ends meet so far. But thanks to ghol fish, he is starting to think big. "Constructing a pucca house is our top priority given that we are a joint family," he  was quoted as saying. says. "I will also buy another boat and name it after the ghol fish.   There are further reports that Ghol fish are not rare but found only in the fag end of the season. Lucky fishermen net eight to 10 fish in the entire season. A catch of 350 ghols is the largest  that has been heard of in that region.  
Ghol (Protonibea diacanthus), called Croaker in English – as the saying that ‘it would rain gold through the housetop’ – it has rained gold fish for this fisherman of Gujarat

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Charity and colourful exploits of famous allrounder


Hannibal crossing the Alps, in 218 BC, was one of the major achievements of the Second Punic War, and one of the most celebrated achievements in ancient warfare.

He was extremely famous in his playing days – curiously he could not see the greenish lawns or the cherry – he was colour blind ! – still he was the most feared all-rounder and could walk in to any team on the strength of either his bowling or batting.  

The news reports state that he has mouldy toenails – great because those are because of his 27-year pounding of almost 10,000 miles of the British landscape in a mission to raise £13 million and counting for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. His gargantuan effort in raising money for leukaemia research over the last 15 years has earned him a respect no amount of centuries could.  He is a great personality, a prodigious fundraiser for charitable causes, undertaking a total of 12 long-distance charity walks. His first, in 1985, was a 900-mile trek from John o' Groats to Land's End. His efforts were inspired after a visit to Taunton's Musgrove Park Hospital whilst receiving treatment for a broken toe; when he took a wrong turn into a children's ward, he was devastated to learn that some of the children had only weeks to live. Since then, his efforts have raised more than £12 million for charity, with Leukaemia Research among the causes to benefit.

In April 2012, Beefy  again walked  to beat blood cancers in ten cities across Great Britain. Head down, knees angled slightly inward and massive calf muscles bulging with every relatively short, relentless step, the 56-year-old completed the 13.6 miles of  walk around Cambridge in less than three hours. A real motivation  for his fans.  Organized with military precision, he is known to lead from the front exhibiting his keenness and showing that he is thoroughly enjoying doing that.  

Sadly, the legend called off celebrations after completing a 150-mile charity walk to rush by helicopter to be by his critically ill mother's bedside just hours before she died.  The mother Marie, 85, died on 21st April night at Yeovil District Hospital in Somerset having been admitted due to an unconnected illness.

-         if you are wondering whom the post is all about – it is Ian Botham.  

Sir Ian Terence Botham OBE (1955) current commentator was a great all rounder  with 14 centuries and 383 wickets in Test cricket; Beefy was a good fielder in Slips too.  Besides his cricketing feats, he made 11 appearances in the Football League.  He was inducted into ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2009.



I remember seeing him perform in that One off Test at Wankhede in Feb 1980 – it was the Test to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.  Botham was in the thick of action taking 13 wickets and scoring a century too.  The England keeper Taylor was in the news – took ten catches in that match.    India having made 242 had England on the mat with five down for 58 and would have been worse -  Umpire Hanumantha Rao upheld an appeal against Taylor for a catch behind the wicket, off Kapil Dev. Taylor hesitated and protested at the decision. Viswanath, the Indian captain (the only time in his career) felt it otherwise; persuaded the umpire to rescind his verdict.  That generous recall gave fame to Vishy but cost India the match.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Sachin Tendulkar nominated to Rajya Sabha - What an honour ?


In Politics it is outsmarting the opponent and every move of the party is opposed by their opposition, because they cannot side with them.  There are vestiges of colonial era, which continue to haunt the Nation.   Not many Members regularly attend the proceedings ! and there are reports of many MPs never opening their mouth to speak on any issues of importance and relevance to their constituencies.- and we add to the list with nominated MPs !!    The frontline news of the day is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar becoming nominated Member of Parliament of Rajya Sabha – that being a honour conferred on the Cricketer. He is likely to take oath today.

Rajya Sabha is the upper house of the Indian Parliament.  Membership is limited to 250 members, 12 of whom are chosen by the President of India for their expertise in specific fields of art, literature, science, and social services. These members are known as nominated members. The remainder of the body is elected by state and territorial legislatures.  Sachin no doubt is a genius of a Cricketer, the finest batsman of the era  - only Cricketer to have scored hundred centuries in International Cricket – highest run aggregator – holding almost all possible batting records with 15470 runs in Tests and 18374 in One dayers……..  unequalled and very unlikely to be surpassed ! but is that any qualification for a Membership to Parliament ?  

The news is that the Indian president has approved Sachin Tendulkar's nomination to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament. Tendulkar met the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday and was offered a seat in the upper house's nominated category. He accepted the offer and his name went from the prime minister's office to the home ministry, and then the office of the President, who formally approved the candidature.  Tendulkar will fill one of 12 seats in the Rajya Sabha that are reserved for those persons "having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service." Tendulkar is the first sportsman to be nominated in this category, which has no election process.

Policy making and administering the Country is in the hands of Parliamentarians – don’t jump to tell that there are many with lesser or no qualification – but they have been elected by a due process – the process of elections.  What special qualifications does Sportspersons, Cine actors, artists have to walk to coveted posts and is there need for nomination to such posts.  Honouring Arts, Culture, Sports can be done by giving them awards in their own fields -  but in what way they become superior to Industrialists, Doctors, Scientists, Educationists and other eminent persons who contribute to the society.

Sachin is not the first person to be nominated and my opposition is not against my favourite Cricketer – I do idolise him on the Cricketing field but not necessarily in other domain.  Previous nominated MPs, who serve a six-year term, include the musician Ravi Shankar, the singer Lata Mangeshkar and the artist MF Husain – and the yardstick of my criticism remain.  It is an adroit political move - Tendulkar's nomination  is not expected to meet with much opposition, given his stature in India. The nomination came from the ruling Congress party, which is currently fighting political battles on various fronts. Before meeting the prime minister, Tendulkar and his wife Anjali met the Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who reportedly congratulated him on his hundred international centuries.  The reaction from the main opposition party, the BJP,  had to be swift and unambiguous. The party's chief spokesperson, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said: "Sachin is a great player. We are proud of him. If Sachin is being nominated surely he will devote some time to Parliament."

On a friendly note, Will 100-century man Sachin Tendulkar sit on seat number 100 in Rajya Sabha? - This question was posed by quizmaster-turned-politician Derek O’Brien today shortly after the 39-year-old batting maestro was recommended by Government for nomination as a member of the House of Elders.  O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress is quoted as saying that eminent industry expert Ashok Ganguly, a former Chairman of Hindustan Lever Limited(HLL) who has been alloted seat number 100 in Rajya Sabha, had told him he was ready to shift his seat for the cricket icon.O’Brien also said Rajya Sabha will now have two former India captains.  “Hockey got there before cricket! Dilip Tirkey sworn in yesterday…now Tendulkar,” he said in another tweet.

In a quick retort, it is stated that the nomination is no indicator of Sachin’s retirement !!  - alongside actress Rekha and industrialist Anu Aga have also been nominated.  The nomination of the three eminent personalities was  approved by President Pratibha Patil under Article 80 of the Constitution that allows the President to nominate 12 members to the 250-member Upper House.

Sachin is a famous Cricketer,  Rekha is  known for her brilliant and emotional portrayals in Hindi cinema in the 80s.  70-year-old Aga, former chairperson of Thermax Industries and a member of the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council, is a social worker who had figured among the richest Indians in the list by Forbes.  She came more into the limelight after she spoke against the Gujarat government led by Narendra Modi  for its alleged role in the 2002 communal riots.

Long live the democracy ! – and we chose to be ruled by all these persons.  When will we ever distinguish that ‘fan following’ is different than ‘statesmanship’ !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Marathon World Record holder is left out of Kenyan Team - Makau


It is the biggest sporting extravaganza -   2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad, will take place in London, England, United Kingdom from 27 July to 12 August 2012   Athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are expected to participate. As of date, 165 countries have qualified at least one athlete.  Olympics is not new to London, having hosted twice earlier – in 1908 and 1948.   Many countries have started finalizing their squads – a high standard is required for qualifying itself and a medal is always a cherished dream.  In Sports and in Life, nothing can be taken for guaranteed and there is nothing called ‘certainty’ until it happens.  

Only months back in Sept 2011, the Kenyan Makau was set to duel against Haile Gebrselassie, the world record holder from Ethiopia. The Kenyan dropped his more experienced rival after the halfway point and went on to finish in a world record time of 2:03:38 (an average speed of 4:42.9 per mile), beating the existing record by 21 seconds.  Kenyan runner Patrick Makau shattered the world men’s marathon record by 21 seconds at the  race in Berlin.  Makau ran alone for the final 12 kms for the greatest day of his life. 

The 26-old-Kenyan had won the Berlin race and finished third in London.   Things were totally rosy as besides the recognition of having ascended the throne of ultimate distance running, Patrick Makau's purple patch continued when he welcomed twin sons to his family on January 31st.  He triumphantly felt that he has added two more to his art.  One can never rest on laurels however recent they are, was understood by him the hard way now.  

Year 2011 was great as he ran two big races, the London where he came third  and then won at Berlin.  He knew after turning 27 recently, the test at Olympics will be much tougher.  Initially, Makau was promised an automatic Olympics berth on his victorious return from Berlin by Athletics Kenya before the federation later ruled to include him in a list of six who will vie for three final slots during the spring marathon season.  He was quoted as saying that  "Winning Olympics gold or championships is also on my mind. Running championships is easy  and  I can bring a medal for Kenya," the runner who won silver twice for his nation at the 2007 and 2008 World Half Marathon Championships outlined.  He was a class apart and was one who preferred training without the services of any coach with his group of about 26 runners in the hilly terrain of Ngong in the outskirts of Nairobi.  Makau's rise from abject poverty, who grew in a family of eight siblings with scarce means, to the riches accrued from a rewarding career  has been a story worthy of emulation !!! 

Sadly, there is the news of his omission from Kenya's marathon squad for  Olympic Games.  Yes, Makau has paid the price for failing to finish in Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon after being left out of the Kenyan team for this summer’s Olympics.  The coveted three places in the men’s marathon go to Wilson Kipsang, who won Sunday’s race in the second fastest time in history, two-time world champion Abel Kirui and Chicago Marathon winner Moses Mosop. 

Makau, the World record holder, pulled out of Sunday’s race after 11 miles with a hamstring problem.  Sad, the World Record holder -  Patrick Makau Musyoki  would not be there to have a tilt at the windmill again.  The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards)

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Release of Jhina Hikaka and negotiating for Alex Menon - what cost ?


Defeat of the State at the hands of Maoists, having to succumb to their demands does not augur well for the Nation.  Yet another time when the state is acting like the proverbial headless chicken.  Every time such a kidnapping occur, emerges Civil society mediators – the State gets forced to meet the ransom demands of hostage takers. Yes, the State is pressurized by the fact that they have to obtain release of high power victims and negotiation is one-sided.  Maoists give a devil's choice demanding the release of eight prisoners in exchange for Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon.  In every such instance, the ghost of release of dreaded prisoners for the release of abducted Rubaiya though vehemently opposed by the then CM continues to haunt.  

The sympathizers might even say that the Collector and MLA are not innocent bystanders, but representatives of the State.  The negotiations are not for any package but release of those captured after struggle and against whom cases are pending.  To some, Maoists are a kind of militant socialists, not very different from the Congress or the Communists who serve in our Parliament.   But it is reported that as many as 720 non-combatants were killed by the Maoists, in addition to the 285 security force personnel.   The tribal and long-neglected regions certainly need development and more funds for their growth – but what is happening is not what should be happening !

For begetting Alex Menon, Raman Singh has little options and the surrender of Naveen Patnaik sure would weigh down heavily.  Concern for human rights is well taken in a civil society but one should always think that those supporters never raise single voice when it comes to the killing of innocent civilians, or police by the militants.   From the volumes of news, it is learnt that the  six hardcore cadres that the Maoists want freed in exchange for the abducted Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon have 122 criminal and terror cases lodged against them.  Three women top this dreaded list of cadres. One of them is Nirmala, who has as many as 67 cases pending against her while another woman member Malti alias Shantipriya was in 2010 sentenced to 10 years in prison for waging war against the state and had not even bothered to file an appeal.  Mail Today  reportedly has accessed the dossiers of the hardcore prisoners demanded by the Maoists and writes that the Home ministry and the Chhattisgarh government are both so far dead against releasing any of these six Maoists.

Not far away from the happenings of Alex Menon episode, Odisha Maoists have reportedly freed BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka after more than a month in captivity. News of Hikaka’s release came in the wake of a decision taken on Wednesday by the Maoists Praja Court or People’s Court to free him, on the condition that he resign from his position if Maoist demands were not fulfilled. Media reports quoting sources, said Hikaka had been released in an undisclosed location into the custody of his wife, and Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, a lawyer who fights cases for the Naxals. The AOBSZC has stuck to their demand for release of 29 rebels in exchange for the MLA’s freedom, while the Odisha government was ready to facilitate release of 25 prisoners. Sharp differences among Maoists had come to the fore over the demands for release of Hikaka. Earlier, A Maoist leader calling herself Aruna, in an audio message aired by a local television channel in Bhubaneswar, said the decision to free Hikaka was taken in a people's court held on Monday and Tuesday.  She is quoted as stating that  the legislator apologised to the rebels and villagers who participated in the people's court for not being able to solve the problems of the tribal people through the political process. The people's court decided to release him after he announced that he would resign from the BJD as well as from the assembly soon after his release, the rebel leader said.

There have been occasions when such acts of terrorism have been supported by various political parties for their ends such as the roping in of Maoist support by Trinamool Congress in changing Nandigram and Singur agitations to trounce the CPM in the state. The marriage of convenience was brief and bitter.  Earlier the CPM too had indulged in a similar cynical game.  In some ways, they do not champion the cause of tribals, but become power hungry anarchists prospering at the cost of tribals.

It is time the Nation drafts a strong stringent Policy to deal with these sort of situations ruthlessly

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Nightmare for Chawla as Mumbai wins


If one is able to keep away one’s dislike for the gaudiness of IPL, this version – IPL 5 has indeed produced some intensely fought matches where the result gets stolen in the last or the penultimate overs.  Yesterday’s match between Mumbai Indians against King’s XI Punjab was one.

32 0ff 12 – you don’t fancy the batting side’s fortune much – but that was not to be as the poor Piyush Chawla learnt.  The 19th over’s first ball was reverse swept by Peterson for 4; then another sort of switch hit saw the ball dispensed to extra cover for another 4; third was slogged over the country for a 6; 4th was a relief as it yielded a single or was that the antidote as it brought Ambati Rayudu on strike – 5th disappeared over long off and 6th over long on for another 6 – 27 off the over and it got reduced to 5 off 6 balls.

For Kings XI Punjab it was rude result after posting their highest in the tournament at 168/3 with good knock by David Hussey.  Little known Parvinder Awana has been amongst wickets and he had a double strike  in his final over - the 18th - in which he removed both Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh.

Earlier the heroics of Miller lifted the score as he scored some good runs of Munaf Patel who continues to display ugly aggression and bowls ordinary military medium stuff.  He conceded 41 off his 4

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Identity of whistleblower 'Swedish Deep Throat' - remembering Bofors scandal


25 years is a long period and today newsreports are agog with the revelation of identity of the whistle blower.  Lindstrom appears to be a very common Swedish surname but the man ‘Sten Lindstrom’ is special.  The Hoot.org is special !

Bofors threatened to blow the horizon but never really did – it all began with revelations on Swedish State radio.  A source concealed as ‘Swedish Deep throat’ reportedly leaked over 350 documents to a journalist then with The Hindu – and those included payment instructions to banks, hand written notes, diary and more.  The man is quoted as saying that it was an accident.  They were conducting several search and seize operations in the premises of Bofors and their executives. In the pile were one set of documents to Swiss banks with instructions that the name of the recipient should be blocked out. Bofors was unable to explain and then we found more and more documents leading to India.  The man is -  Sten Lindstrom  who as  the former head of Swedish police  led the investigations into the Bofors-India gun deal.

155 mm Howitzer was there everyday on the captions of news ! – it was Field Howitzer 77 FH77 – a Swedish 155 mm howitzer, developed and manufactured by Bofors. A howitzer is a type of artillery piece characterized by a relatively short barrel and the use of comparatively small propellant charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories, with a steep angle of descent. The middleman associated with the scandal was Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian businessman who represented the petrochemicals firm Snamprogetti. Quattrocchi was reportedly close to the family of Gandhi and emerged as a powerful broker in the 1980s between big businesses and the Indian government. Years later Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991  and things were never the same after those revelation.

Though it erupted to be a major corruption scandal in the history of India, the subsequent Govts never solidified anything as the Nation got a feeling that things were never pursued in right earnest.  VP Singh assumed power on the issue announcing his desire to book those involved, but the Nation now knows how that never materialized.   With the opposition screaming, about 25 years ago,  K.C. Pant rose to reply to a six hour debate on the unending Bofors saga in the Lok Sabha, no one had expected the mild-mannered defence minister to spring a surprise. But in a move that caught the Opposition flat-footed, Pant placed on the table of the House the entire set of 26 letters exchanged between the Government of India, Bofors and the Swedish Government since mid-April.  That perhaps was indicative of the confidence the rulers had in tiding over the crisis.   As one Q would keep nagging – money was made but who made money in the Rs 1,700 crore Bofors gun deal signed in March 1986 – perhaps would remain unanswered or the real identity would never be known !!

The corruption also saw the formation of Joint Parliamentary Committee constituted by Indian parliament.  The committee, headed by B Shankaranand, held 50 sittings and gave its report on April 26, 1988. Opposition parties boycotted the committee on the ground that it was packed with Congress members. The JPC report was tabled in Parliament, but it was rejected by the Opposition.

The main person spoken of was the Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi who was being sought until early 2009 in India for criminal charges for acting as a conduit for bribes in the Bofors scandal. A decade later CBI named him in chargesheet also.   Later Interpol revealed two bank accounts of his containing large savings.  Years later the  frozen bank accounts were unexpectedly released by India's law ministry.  In Feb 2007, Ottavio Quattrocchi was detained in Argentina on the basis of the Interpol warrant; India lost the case for his extradition in June 2007, the judge remarking that "India did not even present proper legal  documents and embarrassingly, India was asked to pay Ottavio's legal expenses. His connection and proximity to high family ensured that he was out of the net !!

That way the identity of the whilstle blower after 25 years would not be of much value.  Today First Post quotes Subramaniam Swamy as saying that Lindstrom, had sought permission from the Indian Government to question Congress President Sonia Gandhi but was not allowed to. 

Naturally the later bigger scandals have ensured safe burial of the Bofors case.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


Ponting edges past Dravid - the day when 10000 barrier was breached


Many Pakistanis also may not remember Ijaz Faqih who played 5 Tests and 27 One dayers – but is part of history !!

The run to top started with Charles Bannerman who with 239 topped the list for a while; then naturally he was taken over by others which included Billy Murdoch, Joe Darling, Clem Hill, Jack Hobbs, Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, and then Garfield Sobers with 8032 runs.  At that point of time, scoring 8000 runs in Test Cricket was considered Himalayan achievement.  Geoff Boycott broke that and in that Test went on to play Golf without caring to be with the team.

25 years ago, the little Master’s nudge took him past 10000 runs which was remarkable achievement those days; he ended up with 10122 and was overtaken by Allan Border, then Brian Lara – now Sachin is at the pinnacle of glory with 15470 runs – the closest a cool 2000 runs behind.

In the 3rd Test at Roseau, the match is heading for a one-sided finish.  Matthew Wade  with his century tightened both his grip on the Test wicketkeeping spot and Australia's grasp.  The punter Ponting has overtaken Dravid to become the second top most aggregator in Tests  - there are 9 in the exclusive 10000+ zone.

Player
Mat
Inns
Runs
HS
Ave
100
SR Tendulkar
188
311
15470
248*
55.44
51
RT Ponting 
165
281
13289
257
52.73
41
R Dravid 
164
286
13288
270
52.31
36
JH Kallis
152
257
12379
224
56.78
42
BC Lara 
131
232
11953
400*
52.88
34
AR Border 
156
265
11174
205
50.56
27
SR Waugh
168
260
10927
200
51.06
32
DPMD Jayawardene 
130
217
10440
374
51.17
31
SM Gavaskar 
125
214
10122
236*
51.12
34


It was 25 years ago, on 7th March 1987, Sunil Gavaskar nudged through the slips off Ijaz Faqih moving on to 58 runs at  Motera – Sardar Patel Stadium which sent the crowd erupting.  It was the first time ever a batsman had scored 10,000 runs in Test Cricket.   Indian Wicket Keeper Kiran More was the non-striker and he was reported as saying that Gavaskar celebrated it as he never did earlier – Sprinting, waving the bat and enjoying the moment.  Gavaskar raised his bat in triumph even as he was mid way completing the run. To the millions watching the TV, that was a feat which nobody else can ever acquire…. Records are meant to be broken, first by Alan Border and happily we have Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar perched on top.  

Gavaskar was a supreme accumulator of runs and would wait patiently when things were not easy – he scored 63 in that match.  He was certainly one Indian batsmen who redefined the art of run scoring and accumulating runs, putting a value tag to the wicket.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

the zipper and the doodle


It is a contraption that has become part and parcel of our life, used in many ways, daily.  Strangely, they can increase or decrease the size of an opening to allow or restrict the passage of objects; join or separate two ends or sides ; attach or detach ; decorate an item.

It is the ‘Zip; the Zipper; Zip fastener” – which can achieve the above stated variations by sewing one end of the zipper together, sewing both ends together, or allowing both ends of the zipper to fall completely apart.  A zipper costs relatively little, but if it fails, the garment may be unusable until the zipper is repaired or replaced—which can be quite difficult and expensive.  A failure can cause great embarrassment depending on which part of the garment it is placed.  Zips are extensively used in clothing, luggage bags, sporting goods, camping gears and many other items. 

The man associated with it is  Gideon Sundback  who was born on this day (April 24th 1880)  He  was a Swedish-American electrical engineer.  After his studies in Sweden, Sundback moved to Germany, where he studied at the polytechnic school in Bingen am Rhein. He later moved to US.  Sundback made several advances in the development of the zipper between 1906 and 1914, while working for companies that later evolved into Talon, Inc. He built upon the previous work of other engineers such as Elias Howe, Max Wolff, and Whitcomb Judson. His invention had two facing rows of teeth that pulled into a single piece by the slider, and increased the opening for the teeth guided by the slider.

The mechanical wonder that keeps lives together has come a long way since it was conceived.  The magazine and fashion industry made the novel zipper the popular item it is today, but it happened nearly eighty years after the zipper's first appearance.  Elias Howe, who invented the sewing machine received a patent in 1851 for an 'Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure.' Perhaps it was the success of the sewing machine, which caused Elias not to pursue marketing his clothing closure. As a result, Howe missed his chance to become the recognized 'Father of the Zip.'  Within the first year of operation, Sundback's zipper-making machinery was producing a few hundred feet of fastener per day.

The popular 'zipper' name came from the B. F. Goodrich Company, when they decided to use Gideon's fastener on a new type of rubber boots or galoshes and renamed the device the zipper, the name that lasted. Boots and tobacco pouches with a zippered closure were the two chief uses of the zipper during its early years. It took twenty more years to convince the fashion industry to seriously promote the novel closure on garments.

Today Google featured a very attractive doodle remembering - Gideon Sundback

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

SC refuses to stay release of MV Nordlake


There have been spate of accidents at sea getting reported on Newspapers – Enrica Lexie and Prabhu Daya were widely reported.  On 21st April 2012, a petition for Special Leave to Appeal filed  by the Union Govt came up for hearing and the Court observed that – ‘We do not see such an urgency in this matter to be taken up on a non-sitting day. Therefore, post the matter on Monday 23.04.2012)’

Then on Monday, The Supreme Court  refused to stay  Bombay high court order permitting a Cyprus merchant vessel MV Nordlake, to leave Indian shores after paying an amount equivalent to the ship's value.  The vessel would now be able to set sail from the Mumbai coast after a single judge bench of the high court accepts the final valuation report.  This in fact involves a high profile victim -  1058 crore valued INS Vindhyagiri.  Some digging of facts for understanding the victim first.

Commonly grouped as Frigates are several types of warships – of various sizes and hues.  In India, INS Nilgiri (F33) was the lead ship of her class of frigates. Commissioned on June 3, 1972 into the Indian Navy, she was decommissioned in 1996.  INS Nilgiri was the first major warship built in India keel up. It was built at Mazagon Docks Limited, Mumbai in collaboration with Yarrow Shipbuilders, Glasgow. The success of Nilgiri led to the Indian Navy along with Mazagon Docks redesigning the last two ships of the class - INS Vindhyagiri and INS Taragiri.  ‘Giri’ ships were all named after hill ranges of India.   Subsequent ships in the class are also named after the beautiful  hill ranges of India.

The victim of the collision - INS Vindhyagiri (F42) is a Nilgiri class frigate of the Indian Navy. Vindhyagiri was commissioned on 8 July 1981.  It is reported that on 30 January 2011, it collided with a Cyprus flag merchant ship MV Nordlake near Sunk Rock lighthouse at the entrance of Mumbai harbour at 3:30 pm. It is reported that several civilians including family members of the crew were on board at the time of the incident. No casualties were reported. A major fire broke out due to the collision which took more than 15 hours to control. It also caused a major crack in the hull of the ship.
On 31 January 2011, the ship sank due to the damage caused by the fire.  Due to flooding of its compartments, the ship touched the bottom. 

After the collision a  FIR was  lodged with Mumbai police and  the container vessel MV Nordlake was arrested and  held back in the Mumbai harbour.  A suit was filed in the Admiralty Court at Mumbai which was decreed on 7th March 2012.   The Suit had been filed seeking damages to the tune of Rs.1058.54 crores together with interest at 18% per annum from the date of suit till payment.  The defendants MS Nordlake GMBH had filed Admiralty Suit Lodging under part XA of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 to limit their liability in respect of claims of whatsoever nature in the aggregate of Rs.20,01,86,113/- being the limit prescribed by Part XA of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958.

The vessel owners sought release of the vessel stating that the claim for damages was yet to be proved; it would ultimatelybe the value o the vessel which would be the governing factor and the valuation as on the date of sale would be the crucial aspect.  They prayed that upon furnishing security either up to the limitation claimed or up to the value of the vessel and vessel should be released as her condition would deteriorate in value if continued to be under arrest. 

On the other hand, on behalf of Union Govt it was contended that there is a strong triable case; the ship being foreign ship would be difficult to he held if it leaves Indian territorial waters and may not return to the jurisdiction of Indian courts. The claim thereby, even if successful, would remain unexecutable or land in trouble in private international law in its enforcement.

Thus the  Chief Justice at Mumbai had set aside the order dated 26 November 2011 of the learned Admiralty Judge and restore Notice of Motion No.1525 of 2011 on the file of the learned Admiralty Judge for the purpose of deciding the same after getting independent valuation of the arrested vessel.

Now comes the news that the Supreme Court refused to stay the release of  the container vessel.  Refusing the Centre's plea, a Bench of justices H.L. Dattu and C.K. Prasad, however, said it was “keeping open” a question of law on the issue and no interim order can be passed by it at this stage.  “We wonder how vigilant you are that your naval ship has been hit by a merchant ship,” the Bench asked, in response to Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising's plea to stay the Bombay High Court's order to release the Cyprus ship.

Will update more on the subsequent posts.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
24th April 2012.

Aviva sacks 1300 staff by mistake


Once upon a time there were Stenographers – highly intelligent blokes who would take down dictations and type letters correctly.  Though they were capable of handling communication on their own, they would generally would do only as instructed.  In olden days, even a ‘rejection’ or ‘regret letter’ used to be drafted individually, personally addressed and sent.  At a personal level, people used to write a lot and send letters to near and dear.  Post  Offices were busy selling - Cards, Inland letters and postal covers.

World has changed – even e-mail is now considered obsolete. And in official communication, people try to use templates, auto-fill and look to other tools. Technology helps, assists those who use it, enslaves others who are dependent on it.

One of the fine tools is ‘Mail merge’ – a software function describing the production of multiple (and potentially large numbers of) documents from a single template form and a structured data source.  Mail Merge was originally the name of a utility supplied with MultiMate an early word processing product for the IBM PC, patterned after Wang word processors. This technique of merging data to create gave rise to the term mail merge.  Used generically, the term mail merge is a process to create personalized letters and pre-addressed envelopes or mailing labels for mass mailings from a word processing document which contains fixed text, which will be the same in each output document, and variables, which act as placeholders that are replaced by text from the data source.  The data source is typically a spreadsheet or a database which has a field or column for each variable in the template. When the mail merge is run, the word processing system creates an output document for each row in the database, using the fixed text exactly as it appears in the template, but substituting the data variables in the template with the values from the matching columns.

A common usage is for creating "personalised" letters, where a template is created, with a field for "first name", for example. The templated letter says "Dear ", and when executed, the mail merge creates a letter for each record in the database, so it appears the letter is more personal. Another common usage is for creating address labels from a Customer Relationship Management database, or for mass emails with pertinent information in them.

Daily Mail UK reports that blundering Aviva accidentally 'sacked' 1,300 staff after forwarding goodbye email to everyone.  It is reported that the Human Resources department at Aviva Investors in Britain accidentally sent out a goodbye email to 1,300 staff stating  'goodbye'  to everyone individually. The email was a standard message sent to people leaving the company, covering things such as handing back company equipment and confidentiality rules.   The message sent out was supposed to go to one worker who was leaving that day.  Instead it told all the staff: 'I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and wish you all the best for the future.'  Within minutes bosses realised what had happened and 25 minutes later the email was recalled.  A second email was sent to all staff apologising for the mistake.  Aviva Investors are the investment arm of Aviva insurers and have an office in London.  A spokesman said the message did not tell people that they were fired.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar