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Monday, September 29, 2014

Modi rocks at Madison Square ... more gold at Incheon and Manish Pandey too hits..

There are some cynics who said - Modi was preaching to the converted in New York, and getting an already-eager crowd to chant "Modi, Modi" was hardly something to crow about. But when was the last time you saw an Indian Prime Minister drive an audience to frenzy in New York or even New Delhi? Did the previous PM even draw a polite handclap when he spoke anywhere ! As Modi rocked the big apple enthralling Madison Square Garden ….

This is what NY Times wrote :  Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, sold himself on Sunday as a onetime tea vendor who wanted to lift India to glory by cleaning up the country, clearing the way for business and preparing its young citizens to be the work force of an aging world. His speech at Madison Square Garden telegraphed a wish list on the eve of his first meeting with President Obama, while also deftly rallying an influential diaspora to his side. Mr. Modi addressed a wildly enthusiastic audience that was largely made up of Indian-Americans, and played skillfully to their sentiments. He reminded the crowd of the taunts they had heard for years that India was a land of snake charmers, and he offered lavish praise for their success in the United States.

They wore his face on their chests, waved it on posters, chanted his name and quoted his slogans, 19,000 fans drawn to a single star. His image stared down from the big screen at Madison Square Garden and emerged on canvas in a live speed-painting onstage. And when the man himself emerged, the capacity crowd on Sunday in New York’s most storied arena roared as one, as if all the Knicks, all the Rangers, Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen had suddenly materialized.

America has seen the future of its relationship with India, and Narendra Modi is the name of the game. Prime Minister Modi charmed a capacity crowd at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden on Sunday, reaching out to non-resident Indians with welcome announcements on the visa regime, while exhorting them to join the mission of realising his dream of India.

And this is what the famous ‘Time’ magazine had to say  :  Until this weekend, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had one thing in common with Eric Prydz, the Swedish DJ and electronic dance music star known for his elaborate concerts. Prydz’s shows are audiovisual extravaganzas complete with pulsating lasers, animations and three-dimensional holograms, including one of the man himself. Modi, too, has experience with digital doppelgängers: during the Indian national election in which his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) eventually won a large majority, the 64-year-old used the latest in high-tech wizardry to deploy holograms of himself at simultaneous rallies around the country.

Now, Prydz and the Prime Minister have two things in common. On Sunday morning, hours after the Swedish DJ finished playing an extended set at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, lines began forming along 31st Street and up 7th Avenue for the next big act at the venue: a “community reception” for Modi, who like Prydz, made his debut at the famed arena this weekend.

Nakul is a Tamil film actor and playback singer who debuted in Boys. 

At Incheon on 10th day of 17th Asian Games, Tennis star Sania Mirza teamed up with Saketh Myneni to clinch the gold in mixed double while Seema Punia also brought glory with her gold—winning act as India maintained the ninth position in the overall standings. Wrestler Bajrang and the men’s tennis combination of Sanam Singh and Myneni picked up silver medals on yet another productive day for the Indian contingent. Athletes OP Jaisha (women’s 1500m) and Naveen Kumar (men’s 3000m steeplechase) and wrestler Narsingh Pancham Yadav (74kg) also contributed to the medal collection by picking up bronze medals.  On the track and field, it was Seema’s day as she clinched the coveted gold medal, making amends for her non—participation in the last two Games in Guangzhou and Doha. Bajrang (61kg) was also a star performer as he scripted remarkable come—from—behind victories to reach the final where he ultimately succumbed to Massoud Mahmoud of Iran in a closely—contested bout. The wrestlers continued to provide the much—needed boost to India’s medal collection as Narsingh Yadav also claimed a bronze in the men’s 74kg freestyle event.

With the addition of seven medals today, India maintained their ninth position with a total of haul of 42 —— six gold, seven silver and 29 bronze. China maintained their supremacy with a tally of 238 (112—72—54) followed by hosts South Korea 146 and Japan 132.

India’s shooters did make it to Incheon but the administrators made it as hard as possible for them regardless. The shooters had to fly half-way around the world and back again because their accreditation cards were not ready. They also had to fend for themselves once they reached South Korea. When customs confiscated Shweta Chaudhry’s gun because the registration number on it didn’t match the form, there was no team manager to sort out the situation. Chaudhry had to run around to arrange a replacement gun just so she could compete on the very first day of the Games. Despite all this, India’s shooters won nine medals, one more than they managed at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. The incremental increase takes on a much brighter hue when seen through the prism of what came before.

At Hyderabad in CLT20, Dolphins are struggling after the brutal assault of KKR – the 18th over of Kyle Abbot who bowled fast and furious symbolised KKR dominance – the 3rd ball was a square drive for 4 that brought Pandey his 50 off mere 39 balls; the next was a 6 over long on; the 5th a full toss was lifted off the front foot for a huge six and last one nicely between backward point and thirdman for a four. The 3rd wicket stand between Manish Pandey and Uthappa was worth 153 as KKR set 188 as target.  Manish Pandey  touted as the first Indian to score a century in the IPL dazzled today ending up 76 n.o of 47 while Robin Uthappa too remained unbeaten making 85 off 55.
Manish Pandey and Naukul (inset)

To me Manish Pandey has some resemblance to Nakul who catapulted to unexpected publicity after ‘adra adra nakka mukka’ in Kadhalil Vizhunthen.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

29th Sept. 2014.

felling of statue (Lenin) at Kharkiv, in Ukraine...

If statues are symbols – felling them are symbolisms !!!.... ‘Ozymandias’  is a sonnet written by the  PB Shelly. Kharkiv is the second-largest city of Ukraine.  The city was founded in 1654 and was a major centre of Ukrainian culture in the Russian Empire. Kharkiv was the first city in Ukraine to acknowledge Soviet power in December 1917 and became the first capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic until January 1935, after which the capital was relocated to Kiev.  It is in news …. !!

Lenin (1870-1924) was a Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist. He served as leader of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1917, then concurrently as Premier of the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death. Lenin, along with Leon Trotsky, played a senior role in orchestrating the October Revolution in 1917, which led to the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the establishment of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.  Under his administration, the Russian Empire was replaced by the Soviet Union; all wealth including land, industry and business was nationalized. Based in Marxism, his political theories are known as Leninism. 

After his death, there was a struggle for power in the Soviet Union between two major factions, namely Stalin's and theLeft Opposition (with Trotsky as de facto leader). Eventually, Stalin, whom Lenin distrusted and wanted removed,  came to power and eliminated any opposition. In the Soviet Union, many cities had statues and monuments of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov.  With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of them were broken with no permission from their authors.

Now comes the news that Ukraine nationalists tear down Kharkiv's Lenin statue – the renewed felling reportedly occurred with huge cheers from the crowd as the statue came thudding down.  Reports suggest that Ukrainian nationalists tore down a statue of Lenin in the centre of Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, in a move supported by officials. Pro-Russian demonstrators in the largely Russian-speaking city defended the statue in February, when President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. Kharkiv escaped the violent unrest which swept through east Ukraine's other regions, Donetsk and Luhansk. A fragile ceasefire has been in place for weeks between pro-Russian separatists in those two regions.

News reports suggest that on Sunday night, when nationalist protesters had already gathered around the statue for a "Kharkiv is Ukraine" rally, the governor of Kharkiv region, Ihor Baluta, signed an order to dismantle the statue. Some correspondents say the order was probably a last-minute face-saving move.  Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is quoted as stating on his FB wall - that he had given orders for police to ensure only the safety of people, "not the idol".

The so-called ‘Fall of Lenin’ – the Ukrainian movement of toppling statues of the Soviet-era totalitarian leader by strong-willed citizens – began in Kyiv last winter, on December 8th, when Euro-Maidan protesters took down the statue of Lenin near the Bessarabska district. Soon after, over 150 monuments throughout Ukraine were felled by Ukrainians to show that they are eager to part with Soviet symbols and demonstrate their pro-democratic and pro-European outlook. Putin’s imperial ambitions, and the threat of restoring a Soviet-style state, prompted Ukrainian activists to declare a definite “no” to the suggestion of slipping back into Russia’s control.

Ozymandias  is a sonnet written by the English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.  In antiquity, Ozymandias was an alternative name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II.  The 7.25-ton fragment of the statue's head and torso had been removed in 1816 from the mortuary temple of Ramesses at Thebes by the Italian adventurer Giovanni Battista Belzoni.  Shelley wrote the poem in friendly competition with his friend and fellow poet Horace Smith who also wrote a sonnet on the topic. Both poems explore the fate of history and the ravages of time—that all prominent men and the empires they build are impermanent and their legacies fated to decay and oblivion. Away, the  destruction of the Firdos Square statue (of Saddam Hussein) was an event in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and marked the symbolic end of the Battle of Baghdad.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

29th Sept. 2014.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Modi in NY; Yogeshwar Dutt notches gold; Khushbir Kaur wins silver ...

The Indians who draw crowds of adoring fans are usually tall and sultry, with washboard abs and elaborate outfits, Bollywood stars like Shah Rukh Khan — described by some as the Brad Pitt of India — or Priyanka Chopra, the bombshell actress, singer and model. But this time it is a teetotaler and bachelor who has boasted of his 56-inch chest and wears a simple cotton shirt. Narendra Modi, India’s new prime minister, will receive a rally fit for a rock star at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.  

………..writes NY Times….. another tidbit is while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join President Obama for dinner on Monday and attend a State Department lunch the next day – there is a hitch – as Mr Modi will not have any of the food.   He  is in the midst of a nine-day fast dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga and consumes only water or lemon water.

At Incheon, Star wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt notched up India's fourth gold medal, while Khushbir Kaur became the first woman from the country to win a medal in 20km Race Walking by clinching a silver as India shot up to ninth in overall standings on the ninth day.  Besides, tennis players accounted for three bronze medals through Yuki Bhambri (men's singles and men's doubles with Divij Sharan) and Sania Mirza and Prarthana Thombare (women's doubles). M R Poovamma and Rajiv Arokia won a bronze each in men's and women's 400m race respectively while Manju Bala added another medal of same hue in women's hammer throw.

India made a resounding start in kabaddi competition of the 17th Asian Games with both the men's and women's teams thrashing Bangladesh in their opening preliminary round matches at the Songdo Global University Gymnasium. Indian women's team was the first to get across their Bangladeshi counterparts as they trounced their neighbours 29-18 in a Pool A match.  The men's team then brushed aside the Bangladeshi men 30-15 to start their campaign on a positive note in Pool A, which also consists of Thailand and Pakistan.

In India, people are following CLT20 ….. another disciplined effort from Hobart Hurricanes' bowlers put the side into the semi-finals, with a six-wicket win over Barbados Tridents. Tridents' score of 113 was the lowest by a side batting first in a full game.  Yesterday, CSK which had to compulsorily win found the runs too hard to come by. After 18 they were only 115 for 5.  In what should have been the 5th ball,  Yasir Arafat delivered a high full-toss from around the wicket. Dhoni swivelled, met the ball with the meat of the bat, and sent it soaring into the top tier of the stands behind the deep backward square leg boundary. Next ball was another full-toss, which was despatched  over deep square leg, over the roof of the stands, and into the city beyond. Another six and in the end CSK had set a reasonable target and won too…… Lahore Lions offspinner Mohammad Hafeez has been reported for a suspect bowling action by the umpires, following the team's Champions League T20 match against Dolphins in Bangalore on Saturday evening. Dolphins offspinner Prenelan Subrayen was also reported.

Indians may not be following Cricket at Incheon as the Board decided against sending teams (and concentrate in CLT20 !!!)  Pakistan team captain, Sana Mir, won the toss and elected to bat first.  Pak women won Gold by  defeating Bangladesh by 4 runs in a rain-reduced match. Sri Lanka won the Bronze medal by defeating China in the play-off for third place.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Sept. 2014.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cricket scales newer heights .... match at Kilimanjaro ....

The Sankar directed Rajni starrer ‘Enthiran’ had this song – Rajnikant and AishwaryaRai singing a duet in the background of tribal dancers.   The most popular trail for climbing Africa's highest mountain is dismissively known as the "Coca Cola route". It has comfortable huts for tourists to sleep in, food and drink is for sale and the paths are thronged with climbers ~ they say it is no "technical climbing" – still there could be altitude sickness  It is a very high mountain. Normally people take five or six days. Travelling 1500-2000m in a day is a lot for one person who lives at sea level. – is what is written about it.   Recently, there was a marriage too - Tanzania's tourism authorities commended two American nationals for exchanging wedding vows on Africa's highest peak.

It is Kilimanjaro…… Mount Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira, is a dormant volcanic mountain in Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in theworld at 5,895 metres or 19,341 feet above sea level. The summit of Kilimanjaro has half the level of oxygen than land at sea level, doubling the energy needed for the match. Climbers run the risk of acute mountain sickness and even potentially deadly pulmonary or cerebral oedema - the flooding of the lungs or brain.


Cricket was taken to greater heights …. Not that the standards were raised in any manner………. a  plastic track, stumps, bats, pads and plenty of spare balls were all hauled up by Tanzanian porters during a seven-day trek, and qualified umpires were on hand to ensure the game was played properly and eligible for the record. The final score was a winning 82 for 5 for the 'Gorillas' team, led by England women's vice-captain Heather Knight, against 64 for 9 for Giles's 'Rhinos' team.

It was unlike anywhere else they will have taken guard, played a cover drive or bowled a ball. A group of cricketers, including Ashley Giles, Makhaya Ntini and Heather Knight, have attempted to set a new world record for the highest-ever match played after setting up stumps atop Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. After an eight-day trek to what is known as the "roof of Africa" they played 10 overs per-side before one of the more memorable weather interruptions: cloud stopped play at 5730 metres (18,910) above sea level in a dusty and icy crater just below the dormant volcano's 5895-metre summit. The previous record for the world's highest game had been 5,165 metres, played in the Himalayas at Everest base camp in Nepal in 2009.

Players are raising funds for charities including Cancer Research and conservation charity Tusk Trust, which works to stem rampant poaching of elephants and other animals. Funds raised will also go towards building Rwanda's first international cricket pitch.

"Kilimanjaro" in Enthiran sung by Chinmayi was a hit.  The song,  reportedly based on the raga Karaharapriya, had variety of musical instruments – the song was not shot at Mt. Kilimanjaro but in Macchu Picchu in Peru.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Photo credit of match at Kilimanjaro BBC

Friday, September 26, 2014

Alipiri the start to holy Thirumala ..... Tirupathi Court sentences three

For Sri Vaishnavaites, the word Kovil, Thirumalai, Perumal Kovil would refer to “Sri Rangam, Thirumala Tirupathi and Kanchipuram” respectively. The sacred and most reverred temple of Sri Venkateswara is located on the seventh peak – Venkatachala hill of Tirumala.  The Lord stands tall as bestower of all boons and lakhs of people reach here to have a glimpse – a few seconds darshan of the Lord.  This beautiful temple in its present form owes a lot to the works of the greatest Vaishnava Acharya – Sri Ramanujar.  The very thought of Tirumala and chanting the name of Lord of Seven Hills would cleanse our souls.

“Adi vo Alladi Vo Sri Hari Vasamu…. Padi Velu Seshula Padagala Mayamu” … sang the famous Annamayya …. Look and behold, this is abode of Hari- the place where He resides, formed by the hood of Adisesha; places where sages dwell uttering His name all the time; the place replete with riches and prosperity, the Holiest of all places …. The sacred Thirumala, the abode of Lord Venkataramana, Balaji, Govinda.

Alipiri is the starting place at foothill of seven hills in Tirupathi, from where pilgrims starts ascending the Holy Thirumala. Alipiri literally would mean resting place. In olden days pilgrims used to climb all the seven hills only through the stepped way on foot, as there was no other option. Hence the pilgrims came from long distances used to take rest for some time there, cooked their food, eat there. After taking rest they started to climb the steps. What was thick vegetation and foothill of a forest has in the recent decade been converted– to a spacious hub where vehicles and persons undergo ‘security check-up’. 

There are now 3550 steps and for a healthy person would take around 4 hours to climb the hill.  The footsteps in most places are well covered and there are shops which make available things to the pilgrims.  The Tirumala Temple Devasthanam has made good arrangements which include taking care of the luggage of the devotees who ascend the hill on foot.  The baggage deposited at Alipiri is carried free of cost and the ones deposited at the foot of the hill can be collected at the top.  Also there are arrangement for issuance of tokens facilitating special darshan for them.   On the way stands a deer park which attracts people. At any point of time, you can see thousands of people climbing the hill by foot – the pilgrims include children, youth, old people and those with some disabilities – all in the faith and wanting to have darshan of the Lord Srinivasa climb happily singing paeans in praise of the Lord and speaking of the greatness of the Lord.

The transformation at this place in someways owes to that ghastly incident in Oct 2003, when the then  CM of Andhra Pradesh N. Chandrababu Naidu, survived an attempt on his life when suspected People's War naxalites exploded improvised claymore mines targeting his motorcade on the Tirumala ghat road at 4.15 p.m. Mr. Naidu suffered fractures on his right hand and collar bone and minor injuries on the chest and nose. The impact of the blast was so severe that the bullet-proof car was hurled in the air. The explosion left a huge crater on the road. The car was virtually reduced to metal scrap, but its interior was intact. A catastrophe was averted because the car could absorb the impact of the powerful blast.

……. Years later a Tirupati court on Thursday sentenced three persons -- G. Rammohan Reddy, S. Narasimha Reddy and P. Chandra alias Kesava -- accused in the Alipiri blast case to undergo rigorous imprisonment for four years and to pay fine of Rs. 5,000 each. The final verdict delivered by Additional Senior Civil Judge O. Venkata Nageswara Rao pertained to the second charge-sheet filed in the case. While the trio was being taken away from the court complex amid tight security, the fourth one, Rammohan Reddy, who worked as a sub-editor in a newspaper, claimed innocence and said even the investigating officials could not establish his link.

Of the 33 accused in the case registered in Alipiri police station in 2003, 11 died during trial and 15 were still at large.  Besides Mr. Naidu, others who were travelling in his bullet proof car, Minister Bojjala Gopalakrishna Reddy, MLAs Reddivari Rajasekhara Reddy and Chadalawada Krishnamurthy were injured.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Sept. 2014.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lanka appoints desi Marvan Atapattu as Coach....will India follow !!

A Coach needs to know the nuances of the game too well – should evaluate the players, encourage their strengths, ensure bonding and empower their performing as a team…….. need not be a great performer of hey days …and need not be a foreigner perforce.   The island Nation has now has its first full-time local coach in 15 years  - the man a  vulnerable starter, struggled to make ground in his debut but showed immense strength of character accumulating runs and scored six double-hundreds in his career, a feat bettered only by Don Bradman (12), Wally Hammond and Brian Lara (seven each).

Before that Kolkata Knight Riders chased and won against Perth Scorchers keeping the winning habit in tact.  When India relies on pace bowling options and plays part-time spinners in T20 (and in ODIs too) – KKR plays with Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla…. ..interesting  !! yesterday too, led by Sunil Narine, their spinners were un-hittable. Perth Scorchers realised that after much huffing and puffing that amounted to only 151 for 7.  KKR batsmen faltered and eventually a good innings from Suryakumar Yadav and his twin sixes in the 19th over saw them through. Earlier he had hit 2 sixes in 15th over too. Kuldeep Yadav, the 19-year old left-arm chinaman and googly bowler in tandem with mystery  carom balls of Narine made Scorchers fumble.

For Sri Lanka it is Marvan Atapattu- appointed as first full-time local coach in 15 years.  The executive committee "unanimously approved and appointed Mr. Marvan Attapattu to the position of National Head Coach of Sri Lanka Cricket with immediate effect," an SLC release said. Atapattu was always a strong contender for the position, thanks largely to his intimate knowledge of the Sri Lanka set-up and its players, as well as his success as interim head coach. Sri Lanka's last local head coach, aside from brief interim appointments, had been Roy Dias, in 1999.
Atapattu played 90 Tests scoring 5502 runs with 16 tons; in ODIs – in 268 he made 8529 runs and he played two T20s too. He had a forgettable debut in Nov 1990 at Chandigarh out for duck in both innings at Chandigarh – India made only 288 and yet enforced follow-on ……..  won by an innings and 8 runs -  Venkatapathi Raju had dream figures of 17.5-13-12-6 in the first and 36-25-25-2 in the 2nd. His next chance came in Aug 1992 at Colombo against  Australia; he made 0 & 1 – in Feb 1994 at Ahmedabad, he bagged a pair again.  After that he next played  in 1997 at Dunedin, where he made 25 & 22 and back home in Apr 97 at Colombo, he made another duck and 25.

Ken Rutherford, the New Zealander had a similar streak – he made 0 & 0 in his debut in Mar 1985 against mighty West Indies; followed up with 4; ,0,2; 1,5; 65; 0; 0,50*;0;24…..ended up making 2465 runs in 56 tests.

Atapattu had earlier been named interim coach following the resignation of Englishman Paul Farbrace in April.  Paul Farbrace from Kent enjoyed considerable success as head coach of Sri Lankan Cricket Team, winning the ICC World Twenty20 2014 and Asia Cup 2014; but deserted ranks to join at Assistant coach for England. Remember the stocky Whatmore who toured India under Kim Hughes later became the successful coach of Lanka.  He  played just seven Test matches and one One Day International. Whatmore was born in Ceylon; his family migrated to Australia in 1962.; retired from Tests, coached Lanka, Bangladesh and later Pakistan too.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Sept. 2014.

luxury train Golden Chariot stoned ..........

Train journey is most enjoyable as one can spend time leisurely eating the choicest delicacies looking through the window  at the different culture, fields, people and more … as the train chughs past different areas.  Interestingly, Indian Trains have Names besides the Numbers. As you would know, Trains now have 5 digit numbers – earlier they were 4 digits.  Most trains are named after Gods, rivers, important places in the origin or destination – ……. and regularly more get added to the long list..   some are named after personalities and some after traits too.. there are some luxurious trains like ‘Palace on wheels’ and the recent addition is the ‘Golden Chariot’….. a train which has been awarded the ‘Asia’s leading luxury train’ award at the World Travel Awards, 2013.

The Golden Chariot is a luxury tourist train that connects the important tourist spots in arnataka, Goa, Kerala & Tamil Nadu as well as Pondicherry, depending on the selected itinerary. It is named after the Stone Chariot in the Vitthala Temple at Hampi.  The 19 coaches on the train are coloured purple and gold, and sport the logo of a mythological animal with the head of an elephant and a body of a lion. The train had its maiden commercial run in 2008 and operates between the months of Oct – Mar. The train is operated by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation and The Maple Group handles the hospitality services on the train.

The Golden Chariot offers 2 itineraries. The itineraries are named Pride of the South and Splendor of the South. Pride of the South tour is a 7 nights and 8 days itinerary during which several tourist places including Mysore, Nagarhole, Hassan, Belur, Halebedu, Hampi,Badami  in Karnataka are covered.  Splendor of the South tour covers tourist places in 3 South Indian states.  The advertisement boasts it to be a sojourn through well known & off beat destinations of South India in luxurious fashion. An adventure in comfort, a romance on rail tracks, with heritage & cultural destinations  taking  through timeless Historical Heritage Sites, Palaces, Wildlife and Golden Beaches.

The train is in news because the one carrying Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and other members of the entourage was stoned by some unidentified miscreants near Pandavapura on Wednesday as reported in The Hindu.  Pandavapura is approximately 130 km from Bangalore and 25 km from Mysore and is surrounded by beautiful paddy and sugar cane fields. The name meaning "Town of Pandavas" myth logically is believed to be the place where Pandavas stayed for sometime during their exile. 
this picture credits : The Hindu

The Karnataka Chief Minister was on his way to Mysore from Bangalore to participate in the Dasara festival, which will commence from Thursday. The stone-throwing is suspected to be the work of some urchins, and the window pane of the coach next to which the Chief Minister was travelling, was damaged. Sources in the Railways said the Government Railway Police were investigating.

According to its website, the fare for an Indian National on board Pride South is Rs.22000/- per person per night (Single) and Rs.154000/- for a 7 night journey.  In Southern Splendour it is Rs.26400/- & Rs.184800/- respectively.   Besides Service Tax a 10% Surcharge would be levied on departures during Christmas / New year.  The tariff rate includes accommodation on board the Golden Chariot as also at resorts / conducted sight-seeing tours and entrance fees at monuments. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Sept. 2o14.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Swimming elephants and rescue at Jaipur ........... !!

Elephants are large mammals of the family Elephantidae - Elephantidae are the only surviving family of the order Proboscidea; other, now extinct, families of the order include mammoths and mastodons.  Traditionally, two species are recognised, the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) …. From young age I have been fascinated by these huge pachyderms (had posted in detail on Temple elephants specific reference to Azhwar, the one that lived at Triplicane)

By some accounts, elephants are capable swimmers – still not many can be seen swimming and this one at Andaman is reportedly one of the last breed of ocean swimmers.  The video circulating on the web it that of 65-year old Rajan, the world's last ocean swimming elephant who lives on a beautiful archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.  Rajan, who weighs around four tons, once worked hard carrying lumber between islands but is now retired—although he still takes the occasional swim for fun.

It takes ten years to train a working, swimming elephant and it is no longer considered economically viable with the availability of modern transportation. However elephants are still valued workers and this was reflected in the $40,000 price that Rajan's keepers paid for him. This swimming elephant is a well known celebrity having featured in the Hollywood movie 'The Fall'. Like most elephants, Rajan loves the water and enjoys his swims. Every year many professional underwater photographers and magazine journalists make the journey to the Emerald Isles just to meet and have the opportunity to interact and photograph this amazing swimming elephant.

They say that the moment is truly an experience, to see the  large Asian male elephant  move so elegantly and almost effortlessly in the water. Web reports suggest that the three-ton bull elephant has almost reached the £37,000 target his owners need to pay back the loan they took out to buy his freedom.  There is a fee to witness Rajan swimming because his owners at Barefoot India literally rescued him from being sent back to the Indian mainland to work in 2008 by taking out a loan to buy him.

………… this report in Daily Mail (13.8.13) speaks of a big elephant being saved from drowning in a lake.   The mammoth was cooling off in the water in the shadows of Jaipur's iconic Amer Fort in India when it started to struggle in a deep patch. The elephant, named Anarkali, was only coaxed out of the lake when her owner jumped on her back.

Anarkali, who gives rides to tourists, was bathing at the lake shore before wandering further into the water.  Tourists could only look on as she began to struggle in a pocket of deep water; she was too afraid to move and remained trapped out of her depth.  Its owner is quoted as stating that the elephants love cooling off in the water, but after an elephant entered the lake with a tourist on its back last year the administration banned elephants from doing so. The mahout took Anarkali to bath in the shoreline the elephant wandered off into the lake.  She only moved back to shore when its mahout  leaped from the motor boat onto the elephant's back…. With the help of fellow boaters, he was able to gently coax the confused elephant back to shore, where a crowd of onlookers had gathered. Fortunately, Anarkali emerged unscathed after the efforts to save her.


With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Mangalyaan slips into Mars Orbit .... Proud moment for India

A very happy day – all Indians should be celebrating as India created history today,  becoming the first country in the world to succeed on its first Mars mission when Isro's Mangalyaan slipped into Martian orbit after a few nail-biting moments.  The country joined the United States, European Space Agency and the former Soviet Union in the elite club of Martian explorers with the Mars Orbiter Mission, affectionately called MOM. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country had achieved the "near impossible". Speaking at the mission control centre in the southern city of Bangalore he said: "The odds were stacked against us. Of 51 missions attempted in world only 21 have succeeded. We have prevailed."

The Happy News is that India has successfully put a satellite into orbit around Mars, becoming the fourth country to do so. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System, after Mercury. Named after the Roman god of war, it is often described as the "Red Planet" because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it areddish appearance.

A proud ISRO reveals that : Spacecraft Successfully enters Martian Orbit; Burn Start of Main Liquid Engine Confirmed; The radio link between the Spacecraft and Earth is now blocked by Mars; Eclipse starts - The Spacecraft is in shadow of Mars………..

The Mangalyaan robotic probe will soon begin work studying the Red Planet's atmosphere. After a 10-month journey, India's Mars Orbiter Mission, also called Mangalyaan, is scheduled to make some final complicated manoeuvres before entering the Red Planet's orbit after 7:30 am (0200 GMT). The Mars Orbiter Mission informally called Mangalyaan was  launched into Earth orbit on 5 November 2013 by ISRO.  It was successfully inserted into orbit of Mars today - 24 September 2014 making India the only country in the world to enter the orbit in first attempt. The Mars Orbiter Mission probe lifted-off from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR,Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket C25 on 5 November 2013. Now with the successful entry into Mars, it becomes India's first interplanetary mission and ISRO has become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after theSoviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency.

Two weeks before Mangalyaan was lauched, NASA sent off its own Mars mission named Maven. Its cost: Over Rs 4,000 crore. India's mars mission, is worth just a fraction of that -- Rs 450 crore -- and was executed in just 15 months after the government approved it in August 2012. 

 India’s Mars mission represents a technological leap for the South Asian nation, pushing it ahead of space rivals China and Japan in the field of interplanetary exploration.  India now has the distinction of becoming the only country to reach the orbit of Mars in its first attempt. More than half the missions to Mars have failed, either crashing or going off course. China’s Mars mission of 2011 was among the failures.

Happy Day, Feeling  Proud as an Indian

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Sept. 2014.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Abhinav Bindra wins bronze; Saurav Ghosal silver and Wushu (what !)

At Incheon  in the 17th Asian games, Star Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra brought the curtains down on his competitive career with two bronze medals while Saurav Ghosal had to be content with a historic squash silver as India maintained 13th position after the fourth day. Bindra was the star performer as he picked up the individual as well as team bronze in the men's 10m air rifle event, Ghosal narrowly missed out on a coveted yellow metal on what turned out to be a mixed day for the Indian contingent.

Yumnam Sanathoi Devi and Narender Grewal also brought laurels for the country by bagging a bronze each in wushu competition.  India have filed an appeal with the Asian Games jury of appeal after Narender Grewal was adjudged to have lost his 60 kg Sando semi-final 2-0 to Jean Claude Saclag of the Phillipines. Grewal successful threw Jean Claude to the ground in the first round on two occasions and knocked him off the platform multiple times in the second round. He was the aggressor through most of the fight and to the naked eye appeared to have the edge, but the head judged ruled in his opponent's favour in each round.~ and it is most likely that you do not know who ‘Yumnam Sanathoi Devi or Narender Grewal’ or what the game ‘Wushu’ is… honestly I have not heard of the game till date.

Wushu  upon searching I read to be both an exhibition and a full-contact sport derived from traditional Chinese martial arts. It was developed in China after 1949, in an effort to standardize the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts.  The term wushu is Chinese for "martial arts" - In contemporary times, wushu has become an international sport through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), which holds the World Wushu Championships every two years; the first World Championships were held in 1991 in Beijing and won by Yuan Wen Qing. Competitive wushu is composed of two disciplines: taolu  and sanda. Taolu involves martial art patterns and maneuvers for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. Sanda is a modern fighting method and sport influenced by traditional Chinese boxing, Chinese wrestling methods. 

Wushu player Thoudam Sanathoi Devi  is from Manipur and participated in women's Sanda 52kg category winning bronze medal.  Sanathoi will be the third Indian to win   a medal in wushu in the Asian Games while her medal will be the fourth won by the country in the history of multi-sporting event. W Shandyarani Devi won a silver in women's Sanda 60kg in 2010 while M Bimoljit Singh bagged a bronze each in men's Sanda 60kg even in 2006 and 2010. In the men’s Sanda-60kg quarterfinals, world No.9 Grewal  was adjudged to have lost his semi-final 2-0 to Jean Claude Saclag of the Phillipines and had to be content with bronze. 

Before concluding this report in India Today makes a sad reading… On Monday, four shooters of the Indian contingent heading for the Asian Games in Incheon were asked to get off their flight due to lack of clearance for themselves and their weapons.

Shooters Shweta Chaudhary, Mansher Singh, Om Prakash, Onkar Singh were all offloaded from their flight despite clearing the customs first, said Verinder Dhall, the manager of India's shooting team in Incheon. Later, the team was told that they were carrying shooting accessories and overweight weapons that did not have clearance, hence they were made to disembark. The shooting contingent put the blame for the failure in coordination and other delays on the IOA.  These developments signal that all is not well with the Indian shooting contingent in Incheon that has bagged 4 medals, including 1 gold, till now, and there is lack of coordination between the IOA, the sports ministry, the National Rifle Association of India and the shooters. The shooting contingent is the biggest of the Indian representation at the Asiads and is likely to win more than 10 medals.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Sept. 2014.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dhoni's first ball duck ... CSK posts 242..

CLT20 is absorbing …. Only 8th match of the tourney … you have KKR on top of one group and CSK languishing in the same half… At Bangalore, Morne van Wyk, the Dolphins captain, won the toss and opted to bowl saying he had heard the M Chinnaswamy Stadium was a good ground to chase targets.

Ever heard of Robert Frylinck- he  was the highest wicket-taker at the 2009-10 Standard Bank Pro20 with his right-arm medium-pace. He hails from Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) …. He will be heard more as he cleaned up Dhoni for a first ball duck – a rarity ….the last over of Kyle Abbot produced only 5 runs …….. and so you can imagine, which way winds are blowing….

The romance of T20 cricket is the sudden change in fortunes …. Yesterday Cobras had set a target of 186 and looked all set for a victory until that 18th over…….. it was to be bowled by their lead bowler Vernon Philander – who had routed Hobart Hurricanes' final hope having  Aiden Blizzard caught on the long-on boundary-  Blizzard was walking off the field when he was asked to wait; the umpires wanted to double-check the legality of the ball. The replay gutted Cobras - Philander had overstepped.   After 17,  Hurricanes need 44 off 18 balls. Cobras certain  favourites, but strange things  happened. Philander was hit for 24 runs… and in the last two 20 were required Langelveldt bowled – the presence of Adrian Blizzard ensured that there was no last over at all – Hobart won with a over to spare !!!!  

After Ajmal, today Lahore Lions offspinner Adnan Rasool has been reported for a suspect bowling action, following his team's four-wicket loss to Kolkata Knight Riders in the Champions League Twenty20 in Hyderabad on Sunday. Rasool has been placed on a warning list and can continue to play and bowl in a match.

Not sure whether you imagined or knew it …. CSK despite Dhoni’s duck and last over 5…. Secured 242 thanks to McCullum’s 49; Raina’s 90 off 43 and Jadeja’s 40 off 14…..  now Dolphins require another 105 runs with 6 wickets and 42 balls remaining

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd Sept 14 @ 22:44

Jitu Rai does India proud .... the new Gold finger..

Incheon, literally 'kind river', a city located in northwestern South Korea, is the centre of attraction now as it hosts the 2014 Asian Games, officially known as the XVII Asiad …….   It is  the third time Korea has hosted the OCA’s showpiece event, following Seoul in 1986 and Pusan in 2002. Expectations of improved Indian performance is high in the air – last time (2010) India finished with 65 medals of which 14 were Gold medals.  Traditionally shooters have held Indian flag flying high.

In the London Olympics, Subedar Major Vijay Kumar excelled by winning silver medal.    Earlier it was Jaspal Rana,  a gold medallist at the 1994 Asian Games,1998 Commonwealth Games  and Ronjan Sodhi  who won two silver medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games.

……….. and the new Goldfinger is ‘Jitu Rai’.  Not since Jaspal Rana's heyday has India produced a pistol shooter with such a Midas touch as the country's latest shooting star. In the last three months, the Nepal-born Indian Army soldier has produced a run of success to rival the greats of world shooting, winning three World Cup medals, a World Championship silver (with a Rio Olympics quota spot) and a Commonwealth Games gold medal.   

At Korea on Saturday, he put up a nerveless performance to clinch India's first gold at the 17th Asian Games in the men's 50m pistol event.


From his very first shot in the competition soon after 9.30 am local time till the 8.4 he scored with his final bullet at the Ongnyeon range, Jitu soaked up pressure like a sponge.  Looking cool, composed and focused each time he raised his pistol to fire at the target, he seemed to be in the 'zone'.

It was certainly a great moment for the Nation as the Indian flag went up and the national anthem was played – kudos to Jitu for that golden performance.   In the teams event, India finished fourth, behind China, South Korea and Vietnam.

Away from the main arena comes the news that Indian Olympic Association has been fined USD 10,000 for withdrawing teams from the Asian Games at a late stage;  All India Tennis Association chief Anil Khanna is hopeful that the penalty would be withdrawn.

The shooting range has proved good as the women's pistol trio of Rahi Sarnobat, Anisa Sayyed and Heena Sidhu shot down a bronze.  Besides the Gold of Jitu Rai, Shweta Chaudhary won the Bronze in women’s 10M air pistol; Jitu Rai combined with Samaresh Jung & Prakash Nanjappa in Men’s 10M Airpistol team to win Bronze. 
Looking forward to lot more from Team India.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd Sept 2014

Learning basics - Marine Cargo Insurance - Letter of Credit (LC)

Marine Cargo Insurance is insurance of goods in transit from one place to another …. International trade is exposed to financial losses due to different set of risks – physical loss or damage to cargo caused by various perils (some insurable and some not) and non-payment of goods. After all a transaction is made for commercial purpose of making money and when not paid for, it is of no use.  Goods can be bought and sold with payment of price in various forms – cash(currency); credit; cash against documents (negotiation through a bank); telegraphic transfer; barter and more.  There will be no conclusion to a commercial transaction : if the Seller insists that he will send goods only when he receives payment in advance and buyer insists that they will pay only when the goods are delivered at their doorstep.

The potential non-payment could arise due to various factors – political, commercial risks and could be due to condition of cargo too.  Marine Cargo insurance offers financial protection against the incidence of loss or damage to goods arising out of insured perils, is not the subject matter of this post, as I venture something on the financial side and more specifically on ‘Letter of Credit’ (LC). Again, who is obliged to insure – whether it is Seller or Buyer or both – and that it is categorically determined by the ‘Sale contract’ – the Inco terms is not also the objective of this post.

The Policy of Insurance covers financial loss arising out of physical loss or damage to the subject matter insured but does not cover pure financial losses.  Even in this global era of advanced communication, there could be financial default arising out of – insolvency of the buyer, failure of the buyer to make the payment, buyer’s failure to accept the goods and more. In normal circumstances – there could be different terms of payment – Advance payment (which is most beneficial to seller and could harm the buyer, if goods are not sent after receipt of payment); payment upon receipt of consignment; payment upon receipt of documents (documentary collection); documentary credit and the like.  ….. can there be something which will make both Seller and Buyer happy and serve both the interests in a proper way …. Can there be somebody (who is credible and trustworthy) who can guarantee payment – more so, if that body can make payment and collect it from the buyer later. 

Other than ‘cash’ transactions, there are ‘credit’ transactions – where the buyer is allowed to make payment after receipt of consignment (documents) within stipulated time of 30/60/90/180 days.  So here is an attempt to peep into the financial World by someone who has no finance background…  In the Credit front, there can be Guarantee and Undertaking.  In the former, the parties will be : Principal Creditor, Principal Debtor and Guarantor.  In the latter, there is the Indemnifier and Indemnified (not to confuse with Insurance Indemnity here).  We are to read of an Undertaking by a reputed Institution.  It is the “letter of Credit’ (LC) – where a Bank agrees to effect payment on behalf of buyer, subject of course to compliance of certain stipulations – receives the documents, pays for and then collects from the buyer. LC is an undertaking of the Issuing Bank to the Beneficiary (who will the Seller) for payment against compliance of set terms (documents). 

Often this transaction is International in nature.  There would be two banks – the bank which issues the LC on behalf of the importer (buyer) and the bank of the Seller (exporter) called the accepting bank / negotiating bank.  The LC issuing bank does not directly deal with the goods but more to do with the compliance of documentation called ‘doctrine of strict compliance’.  Technically, a  letter of credit guarantees payment of a specified sum in a specified currency, provided the seller meets precisely-defined conditions and submits the prescribed documents  within a fixed timeframe.

The Sale contract between the Buyer and Seller would mention that payment shall be documentary credit.  The buyer (Applicant) would apply to the bank in his Country (Issuing Bank) to open and issue in favour of the Seller (beneficiary) an LC and to pay the Beneficiary such amount on the fulfilment of terms and conditions specified in Letter of Credit.  Once this is done, the Seller is assured of the price (by the bank) upon fulfilment of terms as contained therein in the LC, the buyer gets credit from the bank, the Issuing bank would collect commission and charges of security.  The seller, thus assured of payment – ships the goods, makes available the necessary documents and sends them to the LC issuing bank, who processes the documents, effects payment as agreed and then collects it from the buyer (applicant)

These documents that are required would include: Commercial  Invoice in Original, Packing List, Certificate of Origin, Clean bill of lading / air waybill and Policy / Certificate of Insurance……… that there would be stringent specifications for each of these documents is another lengthy topic.  More on the types of letter of Credit; on Uniform Customs and practice of documentary credit and ….in the posts to be continued.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd Sept. 2014.

Indian Railways ..... level crossings and 'mobile gate-keeper' !!!

The other day as the MRTS coach passed Chepauk station, was surprised to see a woman waving a green flag (she was having a red flag too on hand) …. Have not seen this in Triplicane station though ! ….. till a couple of decades ago, when we journeyed by road, we had to wait in long queue in level crossings … inside city too – traffic snarls occur when trains passby..

All of us know that Railway signals exist – ‘the green and red lights’ are seen in every Station - Railway signalling  is necessarily required to safely direct railway traffic -  prevent trains from colliding and other accidents. Though trains move on fixed rails, the weight of trains and momentum makes it difficult to stop before reaching the impending obstacle. Most forms of train control involve movement authority being passed from those responsible for each section of a rail network.  From the early days when rail cars were hauled by horses or mules, there have been hand signals.  Railway signals are a means of communication beyond the range of the voice. The nature or appearance of a signal is its aspect, while its meaning is its indication. The most fundamental signals are the hand, or mobile, signals. They may be given and received by men on the ground, or on a train. By day, they are emphasized by a flag (or an object held in the hand), and by night, with lights.

Signals convey lot of things : that the line ahead is clear (free of any obstruction) or blocked; that the driver has permission to proceed; the speed  the train may travel and more .. they could placed at the start of a section of track; on the approach to a movable item of infrastructure, and at various points…. Some of the types are : Vane, Semaphore, electric, light, motion and other type of signals.

Then there are level crossing – manned and unmanned – lots of accidents occur in the latter.  A level crossing is an intersection where a railway line crosses a road or path at the same level, as opposed to the railway line crossing over or under using a bridge or tunnel. Early level crossings had a flagman in a nearby booth who would, on the approach of a train, wave a red flag or lantern to stop all traffic and clear the tracks. Manual or electrical closable gates that barricaded the roadway were later introduced. The gates were intended to be a complete barrier against intrusion of any road traffic onto the railway. ………… Besides manned and unmanned – there seemingly is another – the mobile guarded one too………. [quite surprising] to read this report in BBC of date.




When Kanhaiyalal Gupta jumped off from the engine driver's cabin with a pair of red and green flags in his hands, we got off the slowing train too. What we did not expect was for him to shoot off across the next 200 metres like a sprinter. We ran behind him, stumbling on the uneven surface. Mr Gupta darted towards an unmanned railway crossing and waving his red flag, quickly shut and locked the gate there. Then he turned towards the train and waved the green flag. The train moved forward, passed the locked gate - and stopped again. Mr Gupta opened the gate and raced back to the driver's cabin, with us closely behind. He could do this up to 16 times over a distance of 68km (42 miles), on a one-way journey."

It's what I do. I'm the mobile gatekeeper," he says. Some 11,500 of the more than 30,000 railway crossings in India are unmanned. Nearly 40% of train-related accidents and two-thirds of deaths on railway tracks - usually happens when people are crossing them - take place at these unmanned crossings. The railways' response has been to shut down as many unmanned crossings as it can rather than staff them with gatekeepers. Or to create 'mobile gatekeepers' like Mr Gupta to do the work of many.

We are travelling on the crowded Dhamtari passenger train in the central state of Chhattisgarh. The slow narrow gauge train is better known as the "labour train" for it ferries hundreds of migrant workers from nearby villages to the state capital, Raipur, in search of work. It's a nine-station journey from Dhamtari to Telibandha, the last narrow gauge stop in Raipur. Only two or three of some 19 railway gates on the route are manned. "My job is to open and shut the gates. I enjoy my work," says Mr Gupta, who earns less than 20,000 rupees ($331; £205) a month ~ and Kanhaiyalal Gupta says he loves his work

In the early stations on the route, a "mobile gatekeeper" can board one of the rear coaches after seeing the train through at one of the railway gates. With the train yet to fill up, he can sit comfortably. As the train nears Raipur, though, he hasn't a chance of squeezing in. So he has to run up to the driver's cabin and stand there till the next railway gate.

India's state-run railways runs more than 12,000 trains, carrying some 23 million passengers daily. The "mobile" role Mr Gupta has been given is a way of keeping recruitment down, unions say. Mr Gupta, is reported to be totally focused on his work, readying for the next gate ~ and many of us complain that we are doing difficult work daily. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Sept. 2014

Credits : the info on mobile gatekeeper extracted from a report in BBC.