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Saturday, February 27, 2016

India beats Pak in Asia Cup, Amir's spell and Yuvi handling the ball !!

India Pakistan matches are gripping ~ and this one indeed was, though it was a T20 without a single Six !!

Mohammad Amir, bowled a sensational over, and at one point threatened to slice through the Indian innings.  Virat Kohli played an innings of quality and earlier Pak had folded for too low a score to allow anything to happen. All credit to the left-arm pace bowler, who almost a decade ago burst into the scene, was picked as a special talent by Akram and at the peak of his career was embroiled in match fixing controversy, handed over 5 year ban, and now is back, bowling fast !   

In T20 no. 512 at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur – Pak were all out for 83 – Hardeek Pandya taking 3.3-0-8-3 – then in the first over Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane both got out for ducks, then removed Raina too.  Kohli made 49 off 51.  Yuvraj struggled around making 14 off 32. 


At 15.1 Wahab Riaz hit Yuvi on the pads, the ball dropped at his feet, Yuvraj bent to pick it up and threw back to the bowler, as if in a net practice – surprisingly, Pakistanis did not appeal – it was one shot to the victory at that stage, yet, had they appealed, it was clearly out !

The rules on ‘out handled the ball’ is clear. The striker is out Handled the ball if, except in the circumstances below, in the act of playing a ball delivered by the bowler, he wilfully strikes the ball with a hand not holding the bat.  This will apply whether No ball has been called or not and whether it is the first strike or a second or subsequent strike.   

Notwithstanding 1 above,
(a) the striker will not be out Handled the ball if the strike with a hand not holding the bat is in order to avoid injury.
(b) the striker will not be out Handled the ball but will be liable to be out Obstructing the field if he makes a strike with a hand not holding the bat  
(i) unless trying to avoid injury, as a lawful second or subsequent strike which prevents a catch. 
(ii) unless trying to avoid injury, after he has completed the act of playing the ball, as defined in 1 above. 
(iii)  at any time while the ball is in play, to return the ball to any fielder, without the consent of a fielder. 
Such a dismissal  is not new in Cricket either – the first victim was South African Russel Endean padding out to Jim Laker, ball looping off his pads and he instinctively knocking it away with hand.  Andrew Hilditch was the next victim in an ill-tempered way.  Hilditch picked up the ball and returned it to the bowler after a wayward throw from a fielder. The bowler, Sarfraz Nawaz, appealed for the wicket and Hilditch had to be given out,  the only time a non-striking batsman was  out for handling the ball.
Remember that occasion in 1983 in India when Desmond Haynes redirected the ball away from the stumps with his free hand. After he was given out, ignorant Haynes who used to wear a chain reading ‘live, love, laugh’ argued with the Umpires on the dismissal.
Mohinder Amarnath out handling the ball against Australia

It was a big relief for Indian fan as Dhoni smashed a length ball through cover and picked up a stump as a keepsake, he may not  be allowed to keep that, as this is a stump with LED ! 
So at 10 pm India time, India beat Pakistan by five wickets and 27 balls to spare. … yet, a chase of 84 at one stage appeared improbable !
Last month, NZ announcer Mark McLeod, who is contracted by NZC, played a cash register sound effect during one of Amir's spells during the match at Westpac Stadium. NZC CEO David White said he has since apologised to the Pakistan team, and publicly reprimanded McLeod. Amir was playing in his first international tour since being suspended for spot-fixing in 2010. Amir  had a lukewarm response from New Zealand crowds upon his return. A couple of Pak players too had initially refused to share the room when his selection was announced. 
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Feb 2016 @ 2215hrs

freebie State or Welfare State and who garner more of subsidy - poor or rich ?

When the happiness or misery of others depends in any respect upon our conduct, we dare not, as self-love might suggest to us, prefer the interest of one to the interest of many." – said  Adam Smith [1723-1790] a Scottish moral philosopher, pioneer of political economy, and a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. Smith is best known for two classic works: The Theory of Moral Sentiments, and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. The latter, usually abbreviated as The Wealth of Nations, is considered his magnum opus and the first modern work of economics.

There could be an ‘invisible hand’ – which in Economics is the  metaphor used by Adam Smith to describe unintended social benefits resulting from individual actions. The phrase is employed by Smith with respect to income distribution (1759) and production (1776). The exact phrase is used just three times in Smith's writings, but has come to capture his notion that individuals' efforts to pursue their own interest may frequently benefit society more than if their actions were directly intending to benefit society.

Welfare economics is a branch of economics that uses microeconomic techniques to evaluate well-being (welfare) at the aggregate (economy-wide) level. A typical methodology begins with the derivation (or assumption) of a social welfare function, which can then be used to rank economically feasible allocations of resources in terms of the social welfare they entail. Is Tamil Nadu, a welfare state ? – do you decry or praise to the hilt ‘Amma Unavagam’  … the food chains primarily serve South Indian food namely Idli, Sambar Rice, Curd Rice, Pongal, Lemon Rice, Curry leaf Rice and also Chapathi - - at unbelievable prices :  Re.1 for an Idli, Rs. 5 for a plate of Sambar Rice and Rs.3 for a plate of Curd Rice, etc.   When TN CM turned 68, food was distributed free in these Amma unavagams.

Though Tamil Nadu is widely regarded as relatively well-governed, the State spends an inordinate amount of money on sops. Given the State’s finances, the question being asked is whether governments should continue with the policy of giveaways. Over the past decade, successive governments in the State have spent nearly $2 billion (Rs.11,561 crore) on just three freebie schemes – colour television sets, laptops and household appliances. These sops  are not  acceptable even when the State had excess money to spend. But with the government’s own recent budget projections indicating weak financial health, questions do not get  raised on whether the money spent on freebies over the last decade should continue and why not use such revenue for growth and welfare like creating better infrastructure for schools and primary health centres. 

The DMK opened the gates of this freebie culture in 2006 after the state Assembly elections by distributing colour television sets as per its poll promise, and the AIADMK in 2012 went a step further by giving away laptops, mixies, grinders and table fans.  Come the State elections, more announcements would galore – the middle class would cry over Fb and other media – but who benefits from subsidies and freebies is a moot Q

India’s rich feed off subsidies worth over Rs. 1 lakh crore a year that are meant for the poor, according to the Economic Survey. And this figure only considers the subsidies on six commodities, two public utilities — the Railways and electricity — and one small savings scheme, the Public Provident Fund. “There are a fair amount of government interventions that help the relatively better-off in society. In many cases, this takes the form of explicit subsidisation, which is surprisingly substantial in magnitude,” the Survey said in a provocatively titled chapter ‘Bounties for the Well-off.’

The Survey classified the population on the basis of consumption data collected by National Sample Surveys. “Poor refer to the bottom 30 per cent of the population and the rich the top 70 per cent,” it said in a footnote. This categorises a sizeable portion of the non-poor as ‘rich’. Some commodities are subsidised more for the poor than the rich, such as railway tickets (since there are different categories of tickets), but even here, the rich avail of a subsidy of 34 per cent, according to the Survey. Similarly, the tax structure has resulted in aviation fuel being cheaper per litre than petrol and diesel. “Aviation fuel is taxed at about 20 per cent (average of tax rates for all states), while diesel and petrol are taxed at about 55 per cent and 61 per cent (as in January 2016). The real consumers of ATF are those who travel by air, who essentially are the well-off,” the Survey said.  Among six commodities, the maximum subsidy to the rich is for LPG at Rs 40,151 crore followed by electricity Rs 37,170 crore, Kerosene Rs 5,501 crore, Gold Rs 4,093 crore, Railways Rs 3,671 crore and ATF Rs 762 crore.   The rich consume 98 per cent of the gold in the country, and yet gold is taxed at only 1-1.6 per cent, according to Economic Survey.

~  if you are wondering what the photo at the top has to do with this post – it is Diego Maradona kissing and hugging the referee who allowed his handball goal in the 1986 World Cup. Maradona's quarter-final goal against England in Mexico City gained added notoriety when the Argentine, who tapped the ball over the head of onrushing goalkeeper Peter Shilton with his fist, claimed it had been scored by the invisible  'Hand of God'.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Feb 2016.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Mumbai wins Ranji for 41st time ! Claire Polosak to stand with Kathy Cross

Have you heard of Claire Polosak ? – the clue is : she is an Australian and 27 year old High School Science teacher [which is not relevant !]  

There is busy schedule :  11 matches in all  in a league format from 24th  Feb till 6th  Mar – in T20 format [for the first time in Asia Cup] –  quickly followed by 35 matches from Mar 8 to Apr 3 – ICC T20 World Cup 2016.

Another Query – do you know what brackets : Sind,  Central Provinces & Berar; Holkar, Gwalior, Kathiawar, Patiala, Madhya Barath, Northern Punjab.##

The news is Mumbai has won the Ranji Trophy again.  For those who do not know history much, Ranji Trophy is a domestic first-class cricket championship played in India between different city and state sides, equivalent to the County Championship in England and the Sheffield Shield in Australia. The competition is named after Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji (Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, also known as "Ranji") This Indian King born in 1872 played in Tests for the English Cricket team and also first-class cricket for Cambridge University, and county cricket for Sussex.  Neville Cardus described him as "the Midsummer night's dream of cricket  Ranji trophy was inaugurated in 1935 by the Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala.

Today, the Ranji Trophy final was delicately poised at the start of the third day. By lunch, it was dead and buried. Mumbai's first-innings lead was 33 when No. 11 Balwinder Sandhu joined Siddhesh Lad; by the time they finished, 33 became 136, aided by poor catching and defensive tactics from Saurashtra. Whatever happened after that was a futile attempt at damage control as Mumbai knocked the stuffing out of Saurashtra and sealed their 41st Ranji Trophy title with an innings win.

Of their 45 appearances in the finals, Bombay has won 41; followed by Karnataka 8; Delhi 7 and Baroda 5.  Not many would have followed the fortunes of the 27 teams.  A 28th team from Chhattisgarh will take part in the tournament from the 2016–17 Ranji Trophy. 

Another match which would have gone unnoticed is the T20 series between India and Sri Lanka.  India Women's spinners stifled the Sri Lanka Women batting, squeezed them to 89 for 9 in their 20 overs, before the top three knocked off the target in 13.5 overs to complete a nine-wicket thumping in the third T20I in Ranchi. The win secured a 3-0 series sweep for India.

More to follow ~ from Mar 15 to Apr 3, there will be 23 matches played between  Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Srilanka; Bangladesh, England, India, Pakistan and West Indies.  The women T20  WC 2016. 

Right from the toss, the gentlemen in the middle with white coats with authority to decide are of seminal importance – the finger going up, signalling or ordering the batsmen to trudge back towards the pavilion.  In  ICC Women’s World Cup India 2013,  there was  Kathy Cross from New Zealand, only female umpire officiating.   On 10th Feb 2013, she stood in the match between  Sri Lanka Women and  Australia Women; as also  in the match between WI and Australia.

This year, two female umpires are set to officiate at the Women's World T20 for the first time in the tournament's history.  Kathy Cross and Claire Polosak have been named in a 31-person list of officials for the concurrent men's and women's events in India. Cross, from New Zealand, has prior experience of an ICC event, Polosak, however, will be making her first appearance in a global tournament, having overseen the women's World Cup qualifiers in Thailand recently. At 27, will be the youngest official on duty in India, with her first match coming at Mohali on March 18, when New Zealand take on Ireland.

Sydney-based schoolteacher by profession, Polosak made another slice of history last year when she became the first woman to officiate in Australia's Matador Cup, standing as third umpire for Queensland v Cricket Australia XI in October 2015.

The World T20 2016 could only feature seven venues – Chennai the famous MA Chidambaram stadium is left out, with the 3 locked stands being cited as reason.  However, it is one of the venues for Women T20 WC.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

## that list of Sind and …  are some of the teams which had participated in Ranji but are defunct now !

Presenting Feb 2016 issue of Bliss – voice of SYMA

Presenting Feb 2016  issue of Bliss – voice of SYMA

The newsletter of SYMA – Bliss is in your hands.  Click here : SYMA Bliss Feb 2016 to download the issue : 

SYMA celebrated its 25 complete years of Medical service in a grand function at Terapanth Bhavan on 2nd Oct 2015. From the humble beginning, SYMA has come a long way since  ~  many people like you have helped us in big way and have ensured that we have grown, serving more people.  The occasion provided us the opportunity to acknowledge gratefully the services of all those Doctors, volunteers, donors and others ~ full details of the function where we had Dr J Radhakrishnan IAS as our Chief Guest would follow in our forthcoming issues.

This issue comes after quite a long break – with lot happening in between, especially Chennai floods – the immediate relief operations by many good hearted persons and associations.  SYMA was engaged in relief measures in a big way, then took a strategic break, following up with rehabilitation in many places.  Our present issue contains :

*        Our coordination in helping out students of Chennai High School, Kotturpuram through 104 Helpline – an effort in distressing those affected in floods
*        Our thanks to Kalaignar TV  for the programme  முகவரி கொடுக்கும் முகங்கள்  [the faces that provide address i.e. identification] on primetime @ 08.30 am on Republic Day.. ..  you may see that video following this link : Kalaignar TV Mugavari Kodukkum Mugangal


*        Thanking our donors for Corpus Fund
*        Triplicane Post Office ~ Sri Parthasarathi Koil PO – functioning now at North Tank Sq St
*        Refurbishing and updating the facilities at our Medical centre
*        Farewell pooja for SYMA Growth students of 2015-16
*        Tributes to departed Kalaimamani GP Kamala…

Thanks to all of you – do continue to provide your feedback on Bliss and any other activity of SYMA – through e-mail / phone.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
Editor – Bliss

26th Feb 2016.

Railway Budget ~ shortest named Station ~ fully unreserved train and more ..

Have you heard of  William Acworth ? ~ and his relevance to India ? – this is one service which has changed rapidly in tune with times, yet people keep complaining.  Remember those days of standing in long winding queues, getting closer to the counter, to realise that ticket is not available ! [which itself was a novel measure of booking ‘any counter – any ticket’] to the comfort of booking from our mobiles and desktops and not having to carry any paper ticket !

Easily a service that every Indian would have used many a times - Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the world’s second largest. Daily it carries over 23 million passengers (that's about the entire population of Australia!). Do you know that there are 4 emergency exit windows in every passenger train coach ?

There are stations and maddening crowds.  The New Delhi Railway Station has  the world’s largest Route Relay Interlocking System.   Ib River is a tributary of Mahanadi river originating  near Pandrapet at an elevation of 762 metres (2,500 ft). It passes through Raigarh district and Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh and Jharsuguda and Sundargarh District of Odisha and finally meets Mahanadi at Hirakud Dam in the state.  There is a Railway station named after this river and ‘Ib’ station which opened in 1900 is the shortest name !

The annual financial statement of Indian Railways, popularly Rail Budget is presented every year by the Minister of Railways, representing the Ministry of Railways, in the parliament.   Following the recommendation of the 10 member-Acworth Committee in 1920-21, headed by British railway economist William Acworth, the  "Acworth Report" led to reorganisation of railways, the railway finances of India were separated from the general government finances in 1924. A practise which continues in independent India to date.  Ackworth wrote Railways of England in 1889  followed by Railways of Scotland.  He visited the United States where he studied the statistical methods used on the railroads there, and on his return wrote his third book, Railways and the Traders (1891), which was critical of the accounting practices of the British railway companies.  In 1924 he was given the task of reorganising the German railways by the Inter-Allied Reparations Commission. The heavy workload led to a deterioration in his health, and he died suddenly at his London home at The Albany, Piccadilly, aged 74, records Wikipedia !!

Now getting back to the commoner aspect – many people are not in a position to plan – and for the middle class to, it is nightmare thinking of travel in an unreserved compartment, of which there would 3 or 4 in a train. To those come ‘Antyodaya’ – superfast train that will have only unreserved coaches, focussing  on transporting the common man in a time-bound manner without burning a hole in his pocket.

Here are some on Railway budget.  For the first time, an assessment report has been included in this year’s budget to see what action has been taken on steps announced in last year’s railway budget….and - implementations have been made on 139 budget announcements made last year; Railway punctuality has increased to 95%

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has made a good balancing act as he vowed to continue with his big investment-push to turn around Railways as a major engine for India’s economic growth. Prabhu announced several initiatives to expand railways’ reach and efficiency. These include creation of dedicated rail corridors, improving railway infrastructure and revamping the suburban railways system. ..the big Q is how these can be addressed without hike in fares ! Prabhu expects Rs 1.5 lakh crore help from LIC over next five years and going overseas with rupee bonds to raise funds. Prabhu has hinted that the freight rates will be revised. Prabhu’s budget shows the government’s intent to transform Railways as a crucial engine to economic growth and change the country as a high-growth manufacturing economy among emerging markets.

In a welcome initiative, the Railway Minister wants to make Railways more passenger-friendly by promising more efficiency and customer experience. Prabhu listed out a host of initiatives in the budget such as improving the customer experience through the help of technology. “It is the people who are the soul of Indian railways," Prabhu said. Railways plans to build 17000 bio-toilets in trains and 475 in stations this year.  Monetising the assets is another key area Prabhu stressed in the last budget. Prabhu spoke about creating a holding company to monetise the assets owned by railways, including the companies it own.

One-time registration for availing concessions while booking tickets online, online booking of wheelchairs and Braille-enabled new coaches for the differently-abled are some of the other schemes. Also, the quota of lower berths has been increased for senior citizens and women. There are slew of other initiatives like developing freight corridors, rail auto hub in Chennai, FM radio entertainment in Railways, baby food at stations, refreshing new uniforms for Sahayaks [erstwhile coolies / porters]….and more.
For those who don’t have a high opinion of Railways, specifically late-running of trains -  Guwahati Thiruvananthapuram Express is  the most unreliable long-distance train on the Indian Railways network. It gets delayed by 10 - 12 hours, on an average.  The Superfast train  traverses 3553 km halting at 48 stations running time of 64 hours 15min.  In 1990s, it was scheduled to reach Rajahmundry at 18:05 & Vijayawada around 21:45 on Thursdays – on more than couple of occasions, have conveniently caught the train around 10 pm on Friday.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Feb 2016.



PC's comment on Afzal Guru - Congress distances itself& PC was Home Minister when ....

Mohammad Afzal Guru was  a terrorist convicted for his role in the December 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. He received the death sentence for his involvement, which was upheld by the Indian Supreme Court.  It is stated that he  received terrorist training in Pakistan and was found to have played a central role in the Parliament attacks having provided hideout and logistics for the terrorists in New Delhi. Tracking of phone calls between him and the militants, minutes before the attack, proved his role, which he later confessed to. In 2001, Guru was arrested, along with three others. The initial conviction and sentence was made by a special Prevention of Terrorism Act Court in 2002, which was confirmed in 2003 by the Delhi High Court. In 2005, his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court of India.  In Feb 2013, his mercy petition was rejected by the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee and he was hanged at Delhi's Tihar Jail on  9 February 2013.

Sad to read that a seasoned politician  P C Chidambaram now wakes up to the possibility that Afzal Guru may not have been that involved in the attack on Parliament. It took 15 years and a bunch of students creating a ruckus for him to have this epiphany and wake up to a whole new ball of wool !  To be absolutely fair, it is the BJP who inherited this issue and had nothing to do with it except being in power when the assault took place and 14 people were killed including 5 terrorists intent on committing mayhem. The UPA government had over a decade to exercise whatever options it wanted to, including setting the self-confessed man free. It did not take any action. In 2013, the Congress cabal was keen to show its credentials to its vote banks and counter the speeding Modi bandwagon.  Now suddenly Mr P Chidambaram has got a public change of heart and is indicting his own party too on a man against whom evidence of involvement was way beyond reasonable doubt. He was charged under section 121 of waging war against the state. The Vice President’s car was targeted. The death toll of innocents was 9 people: would Mr PC ever ask their families how they feel.

Afzal Guru was unrelenting and stated that the 13 December attack was linked to the Kashmir issue.  The Supreme Court rejected his final appeal against the death sentence. The President of India rejected his mercy petition. It was an attack on the symbol of the country. It led to a troop movement of 100,000 soldiers to the border in preparation of a possible war. Afzal took sleuths to his hiding places from where explosives were discovered.

Is it blatantly challenging the Apex Court too for the decision ?  expectedly Congress on Thursday distanced itself from its senior leader P Chidambaram’s remark that the case of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged in 2013, “was perhaps not correctly decided”. “The decision of the honourable Supreme Court in the Afzal Guru case is final and declaratory of law and justice in the case. It is futile to reopen this debate since the matter has attained judicial finality. Every citizen and instrumentality of the government is bound in law to accept the judgment of the final court,” party spokesman Ashwani Kumar told reporters.  Chidambaram was Union Home minister when Afzal Guru’s mercy plea was rejected by the previous UPA government in 2011.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Feb 2016.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Guantan prison closure !! ~ Ramon Castro is dead.


Do you know Castro ?

President Barack Obama announced on Twitter that he's going to Cuba next month, which will be the first time a sitting president has visited the country since 1928. The US recently restored diplomatic relations with the communist country after a 54-year break.
Cuba's tourism boom continues at a record pace but is expected to cool off during 2016 with the government forecasting nearly 6 percent growth this year after a 17 percent increase in 2015. Amid the international buzz surrounding the country's detente with the United States, Cuba received a record 3.5 million visitors in 2015, then set another record for any single month in January 2016, officials said.  The influx has pushed capacity to the limit and forced many tourists to scramble for hotel rooms, raising questions about how Cuba will absorb additional visitors when scheduled U.S. commercial airline service starts this year.

That has created a flutter ~ Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said that President Obama is pushing to shutter the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility as final gift to the Castros before leaving office. "I believe that President Obama intends to try to give the Guantanamo naval facility to Raul and Fidel Castro as a parting gift," Cruz told a couple hundred voter in Nevada, according to The Washington Post.  "Four decades ago, Jimmy Carter gave away the Panama Canal. We built it, we paid for it, and then a feckless left-wing president gave it away to undermine this country. Well, Mr. President, you don't have the authority to give away vital military assets!" Cruz added, according to the newspaper.

 Republican presidential rival Marco Rubio, also campaigning in Nevada on the day of the GOP caucuses, mentioned the possibility of the military prison ending up in the hands of the Cuban government. "This makes no sense to me," Rubio told supporters at a rally in Las Vegas. "We are not giving back an important naval base to an anti-American communist dictatorship." The White House has repeatedly indicated such a move is off the table, but the Republican senators — both of Cuban descent — are using the opportunity to criticize the president ahead of his visit to Cuba in March.

Cuba, is a sovereign state comprising the islands of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud and several archipelagos in the Caribbean Sea. The capital and largest city Havana.  Prior to Spanish colonization in the late 15th century, Cuba was inhabited by Amerindian tribes. It remained a colony of Spain until the Spanish–American War of 1898, which led to nominal independence as a de facto U.S. protectorate in 1902. Dictator  Fulgencio Batista was ousted in 1959 , which afterwards established a government under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the country has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba.

Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (also called GTMO because of the airfield designation code or gitmo because of the common pronunciation of this code by the U.S. military  is located on 45 square miles (120 km2) of land and water at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which the United States leased for use as a coaling and naval station in 1903.  The  Cuban government has consistently protested against the U.S. presence on Cuban soil . Since 2002, the naval base has contained a military prison, the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, for unlawful combatants captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other places during the War on Terror.

Ramon Castro, the older brother of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and current President Raul Castro, had died at age 91, Cuban state television reported on Tuesday.  Ramon Castro, brother to Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro, has died, a government-run newspaper reported Tuesday. He was 91. The oldest of the three Castro brothers, Ramon was born in 1924 according to a death notice printed in Granma Internacional, a government-owned newspaper. His two brothers are more well known.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (Fidel Castro) the revolutionary,  governed the Republic of Cuba as its Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then its President from 1976 to 2008. Politically a Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, he also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011.

Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz (Raul Castro) has been President of the Council of State of Cuba.  Raúl Castro was a rebel commander during the 1950s; after his brother Fidel Castro took power, Raúl Castro was one of the most important figures in the party, serving as Minister of the Armed Forces from 1959 to 2008, the longest to serve in such a position.  Raúl Castro was officially elected as President by the National Assembly in Feb 2008, after Fidel Castro, who was still ailing, announced his intention not to stand for President again on 19 February 2008. He was re-elected President on 24 February 2013, and shortly thereafter announced that his second term would be his final term and that he would not seek re-election in 2018.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th Feb 2016



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mars 'Snickers' recalled in 55 Countries

During the ‘Jubilee Test’ back in February, 1980, England were in dire straits when Taylor was adjudged caught behind by umpire Jiban Dhan Ghosh off Kapil Dev’s bowling. However, captain Gundappa Viswanath asked Taylor whether he nicked it and the English batsman replied in negative. The Indian captain then recalled him  !  ~ do you know that Viswanath captained India in ODI only once !!

Sure you know of Cocoa bean……..most people are addicted to chocolates, made of cocoa bean.... the dried and fully fermented fatty seed of ‘Theobroma cacao’, from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted. A cocoa pod (fruit) has a rough and leathery rind about 3 cm thick (this varies with the origin and variety of pod). It is filled with sweet, mucilaginous pulp (called 'baba de cacao' in South America) enclosing 30 to 50 large seeds that are fairly soft and white to a pale lavender color. While seeds are usually white, they become violet or reddish brown during the drying process. Republic of Ghana,  located in Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in West Africa is famous for cocoa beans.   There are many popular brands.  Toblerone  is a Swiss chocolate bar brand owned by Mondelēz International, Inc.,  It is well known for its distinctive prism shape (triangular prism or pentahedron). 

A product recall is a request to return a product after the discovery of safety issues or product defects that might endanger the consumer or put the maker/seller at risk of legal action. The recall is an effort to limit liability for corporate negligence which can cause significant legal costs and limit ruination of the corporate image.  Primarily any product can be recalled and that includes the automobiles too. An automotive recall is a way for a manufacturer to tell you that there could be something about your car or  vehicle that presents a risk of injury or property damage.  The  recalls are intended to fix known problems with vehicles in an effort to keep roadways, the vehicle, the owner, driver and other road users  safer. 

U.S. confectionery giant Mars has ordered a full recall of a number of its most popular chocolate bars in the UK, and several other European nations, reports MailOnline. 

Customers are warned not to eat any Mars or Snickers bars or Celebration boxes with best before dates from June 2016 to January 2017, as they may contain plastic. The massive recall covers millions of products sold in 55 countries, including Britain, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Spain, which are all made at Mars Inc's factory in the Netherlands.

The recall initially covered products sold in Germany and the Netherlands, before being extended to Britain, Italy, Spain and France on Tuesday afternoon, as well as dozens of other countries. The recall affected all Mars and Snickers products, Milky Way Minis and Miniatures as well as certain kinds of Celebrations confectionery boxes. The concerned products will have best-before dates ranging from June 19, 2016 to January 8, 2017.

According to a Coordinator, there are 55 countries involved,'  and the recall 'only involves the products that are made in the Netherlands', at the Mars factory in the southern town of Veghel.  The move comes after a customer found a red piece of plastic in a Snickers bar bought on January 8 in Germany.  After he complained to Mars, the plastic was traced back to Veghel which determined that it came from a protective cover used in the plant's manufacturing process.

The  food giant  decided in a 'voluntary' fashion and 'out of precaution' to issue the recall which covers mostly European nations It also spreads further abroad to some countries like Sri Lanka and Vietnam, but does not extend to the United States, it is stated… web searches indicate that India is not among the countries of recall. 

Mars introduced Snickers way back in 1930; it was  named after the favourite horse of the Mars family. The Snickers candy bar consists of nougat, peanuts, and caramel with a chocolate coating.

Getting back to the Q on Vishwanath, he was at the helm for only once – in ODI no. 117 at Hamilton on 15th Feb 1981 when New Zealand beat India by 57 runs.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Feb 2016.

UAE qualifies ~ Asia Cup to commence .. potential never won anything !!

United Arab Emirates entered the main draw of the Asia Cup after a convincing 71-run win against Oman in Dhaka. UAE won all three of their qualifying matches to finish first on the points table and book their berth. Oman were still alive going into the last match of the qualifying group, but had to chase the target in 13.5 overs after opting to bowl. UAE just needed a win to qualify.

In case you are not following – it is Asia Cup – India, Srilanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh & UAE – 11 matches in all  in a league format from 24th Feb till 6th Mar – in T20 format [for the first time in Asia Cup] – a precursor to World T20 WC 2016.

There is news that Parthiv Patel is set to  join India's squad at the Asia Cup as a back-up for their captain MS Dhoni. According to a BCCI release, Dhoni suffered a muscle spasm in his back during a training session in Dhaka on Monday. Parthiv, the 30-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, last played for India during the ODI triangular series in Australia in February 2012.

Away, Trevor Bayliss, the England coach, has called for the team to play smarter cricket following the poor end to their tour of South Africa as they turn attentions to the World T20 in India. However, he does not want the players to go into their shells after a difficult couple of weeks, saying that the winner in India will be the "boldest" team on show. England ended their stay in South Africa with a crushing nine-wicket defeat at the Wanderers to lose the T20 series 2-0. From a promising position of 157 for 3 - with Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler finding their range - they were well placed for 200, but conspired to lose 7 for 14 and not even play out their overs.

It led to Bayliss saying it was like "men against boys" and meant that England finished with five defeats on the bounce having been 2-0 up in the one-day series before being let down by poor fielding when they could have sealed it in the Johannesburg ODI. Although the Test series was secured on that heady day at the Wanderers when Stuart Broad blew South Africa away the tour ended on a downbeat note. "I can guarantee you one thing, the team that wins the World Twenty20 will be the boldest team there," Bayliss said. Both Bayliss and Morgan have cited the inexperience in the side as a factor as to why the wheels came off somewhat in South Africa and cautioned that more such days cannot be ruled out as players continue to find their feet at international level.

Bayliss said " potential never won anything ... we've got some hard work to do.

At Christchurch in Trans-Tasman trophy – the score card reads : New Zealand 370 & 311/7 (102.0 ov) - Australia 505  in Test no. 2202.  In a test that will be remembered for the farewell to Brendon McCullum and his record-breaking ton off 54 balls, Aussies arrogance was to the fore again. Josh Hazlewood and Steven Smith were at the centre of an ugly confrontation with umpire Ranmore Martinesz on the fourth day in Christchurch, which could come under scrutiny from the match referee Chris Broad. The incident occurred in the 73rd over of New Zealand's second innings, the last over before lunch, when the Australians appealed for an lbw after a near yorker from Hazlewood to Kane Williamson.

Martinesz ruled not-out on the field, and Smith immediately asked for a review from third umpire Richard Illingworth. Hot Spot showed a small mark on the bottom of the bat as the ball passed, which was enough to satisfy Illingworth of an inside edge, and he then asked Martinesz to stay with his original not-out decision. The Australians, who had seen the replays on the big screen at Hagley Oval, appeared to be furious with the review, indicating to Martinesz that they thought the Hot Spot was the result of Williamson's bat hitting his boot. Smith walked towards Martinesz to remonstrate and Hazlewood was heard uttering expletives, on the stump microphone.

Their reaction drew immediate criticism from the TV commentators on air at the time, Mark Richardson declaring the actions of the Australians as "intolerable" and Ian Smith condemning the players for showing their anger at Martinesz. It is the same Australians who had objected to a decision favouring Kiwis using the big screen just a match ago !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Feb 2016.

excerpted from Cricinfo

Monday, February 22, 2016

what is the colour of black money ~ it helped Indian economy says !!!

Come March, the salaried Indian middle class gets a different stress ! – Employers would be deducting tax at source; many would have assured saving in specified schemes X amount,  trying to have some IT exemption – at the 11th hour would find that they could not save ! ~ interestingly some would borrow to save !! 

Often the talk dwells on ‘black money’, nay not the colour of money.  Sometime back …. ‘a YYY group gave crores of loan, free of interest to that Eye hospital, which one were seeing at every corner that time.  It also gave substantial amount of Rs 40 cr in cash — that is, black money — ‘all on a single day’, ‘as a single transaction’ – the cash reportedly found its way to an influential politician who was an ex Central Minister…  Corruption, hoarding of money, black money and stashing money in foreign banks have been haunting the Nation and have been the themes of many blockbuster films where the incidence of black money is very high !

Till a few decades ago, men lived for their pride – keeping up promises and paying back debts were virtues and somebody not able to do so would even give up their lives.  Those who were unable to pay back their debts for some reasons announced their position by filing ‘insolvency petition’ [called yellow leaf-let] and those who had done so, had no honour in the society and would often commit suicide.  In recent times, we often see that Companies [chit funds and others] collect public money, don’t repay and cheat the public – the owners / directors when arrested, merrily wave their hands to the media, as if they had just achieved some notable thing.

In Sankar’s  ‘Sivaji, the Boss’ the story line was black money…. Adiseshan played by Suman manages to put Sivaji behind the bars and hatch a plot to eliminate him.  In the long climax, Sivaji fights the villain in the terrace of his medical college ~ and unravels hard currency notes stashed below the tiles………. !! …. Currency notes fly everywhere and the students start collecting them stating it was the black money paid by them for begetting seats…….in the melee, the villain gets killed in the stampede.

There is no question that India has the most positive economic story on the planet. Buoyed by increased manufacturing output, India's economy grew by 7.4% in the third quarter of 2015, the fastest growth of any major country in the world. But there is a dark side to India's success, says one of the country's most eminent economists. I certainly feel like agreeing to this – but just read on the article that appeared in BBC.  Kaushik Basu, the chief economist of the World Bank and former chief economic adviser to the Indian government, says the nation's tradition of petty corruption helped India avoid the worst of the banking crisis that has crippled most other large economies in the last few years.

It is an extraordinary claim for such an influential figure to make but, as he says in his new book, An Economist in the Real World, "economics is not a moral subject". His argument is that the pervasive use of "black money" - illegal cash, hidden from the tax authorities - created a bulwark against a crisis in the banking sector.

Mr Basu says dirty money saved India from the financial crisis that engulfed the rest of the world. Back in the last years of the noughties India's economy was looking just as frothy as the rest of the world.  It had been growing at an astounding 9% a year for the three years to 2008. What's more, India's growth had been fuelled, at least in part, by a dramatic housing boom. Between 2002 and 2006 average property prices increased by 16% a year, way ahead of average incomes, and faster even than in the US. The difference in India is that all this "irrational exuberance" did not end in disaster.

There was no subprime loans crisis to precipitate a wider crisis throughout the banking sector. So the big question is why not. There were some shrewd precautionary moves by India's central bank, concedes Mr Basu, but he says one important answer is all that dirty money. In most of the world the price you pay for a property is pretty much the price listed in the window of the local realtor or estate agent. Not in India.  Here a significant part of almost all house purchases are made in cash. And because the highest denomination note in India is 1,000 rupees, ($15; £10) it isn't unusual for a buyer to turn up with - literally - a suitcase full of used notes.

Let's say you like the look of a house that is for sale. You judge it is worth - for argument's sake - 100 rupees. The chances are the seller will tell you he will only take, say, 50 rupees as a formal payment and demand the rest in cash. That cash payment is what Indians refer to as "black money". It means the seller can avoid a hefty capital gains tax bill. Buyers benefit too because the lower the declared value of the property, the lower the property tax they will be obliged to pay.

What it also means is that Indians tend to have much smaller mortgages compared to the real value of their properties than elsewhere in the world. At the peak of the property boom in the US and the UK it was common for lenders to offer mortgages worth 100% of the value of the property. Some would even offer 110% mortgages, allowing buyers to roll in the cost of finance and furnishing their new home. That's why when the crash came, the balance sheets of the big banks collapsed along with property prices.

In India, by contrast, mortgage loans can only be raised on the formal house price. So, says Mr Basu, a house worth 100 rupees would typically be bought with a mortgage of 50 rupees or less. So when prices fell in India - and they did fall in 2008 and 2009 - most bank loans were still comfortably within the value of the property. That's why India managed to avoid the subprime crisis that did so much damage elsewhere.

India did experience a slowdown, but it was collateral damage from the global recession rather than the result of any national problem. Indeed, within a year India had begun to pull out of the crisis, returning to growth of almost 8% a year between 2009 and 2011. That is not to say that Mr Basu approves of petty corruption.  Basu says only those who take bribes should be held criminally responsible. He compares it to the effect of an unpleasant disease: it may have some positive side effects - encouraging your hair to grow, for example - but you would still prefer not to have the illness.

Indeed, Mr Basu is famous for having devised a particularly clever and characteristically radical way of rooting out corruption - legalising bribery. A few years ago, he proposed that instead of both bribe-givers and bribe-takers being held criminally responsible for their actions, only the bribe-taker should face sanctions. It is a simple change, but radically alters the relationship between the two parties. It means people who give bribes no longer have a shared interest in keeping their nefarious activity secret. Freed from the risk of prosecution, bribe-givers would have a powerful incentive to reveal corruption.

Unfortunately, says Mr Basu, his innovation has still not found its way into mainstream Indian law.  ….. what is your take on this ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Feb 2016

** reproduced from :  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35610332

Saturday, February 20, 2016

transportation of new cars from Chennai Port to Pipavav by RO-RO vessel

“Ro-Ro”  is an acronym for Roll-on/roll-off, specialised Carriers that transport wheeled cargo, mainly new automobiles.  The ro-ro ship is different from lo-lo (lift on-lift off) ship that uses a crane to load the cargo. The vehicles in the ship are loaded and unloaded by means of built-in ramps. Normally these ramps are made towards the stern (backside) of the ship.

These vessels are slightly odd-shaped and in recent years, one can spot such vessels from Marina beach.  India has a lengthy coast line.  Our coast spans from the south west Indian coastline along the Arabian sea from the coastline of the Gulf of Kutch in its western most corner and stretches across the Gulf of Khambhat, and through Mumbai, Konkan, Canara, Mangalore, Malabar, to Cape Comorin,  into Southern India aong  Coromandal Coast.  Our Nation has a coastline of7,517 km (4,671 mi).

There are so many ports in Gujarat ~ some are administered by Private.  Gujarat Maritime Board, is the statutory body of State Government of Gujarat, which responsible for management, control and administration of 44 ports in Gujarat State. Port Pipavav, India’s first port in the private sector, is a port on the West Coast of India for containers, bulk and liquid cargo. Its lead promoter is APM Terminals, one of the largest container terminal operators in the world.

APM Terminals recently  announced having hosted the maiden call by leading RORO operator Höegh Autoliners vessel – m.v. HOEGH ANTWERP at Pipavav Port. HOEGH ANTWERP berthed at Pipavav Port in late January, 2016, to load Ford’s small and midsized cars, being exported from its Sanand plant in Gujarat. Norway-based Höegh Autoliners is a leading global provider of transportation and logistics services within the RoRo segment. It has large fleet of vessels for Pure Car and Truck Carriers (PCTCs) sailing in global trade systems.

In August 2015, APM Terminals Pipavav commenced operations of its RoRo facility and successfully berthed its first RoRo vessel m.v.Grand Dahlia at the port. Over 10,000 cars have been shipped from Pipavav Port since the commencement of the RoRo facility.   The first shipment was of  1,380 new Ford Figo Aspire vehicles loaded on to  ‘Grand Dahlia’ vessel.   
Photo credit : marinelink.com

Hyundai Santro was launched in Sept  1998 and was a runaway success. Within a few months of its inception HMIL became the second largest automobile manufacturer and the largest automobile exporter in India. Hyundai has a manufacturing facility near Sriperumpudur in Tamilnadu, closer to the Capital and Port at Chennai.  Hyundai exports cars to foreign countries and cars do roll out to other parts of India – it is very usual to see so many specialised trucks waiting for loading cars.

The interesting news is - Hyundai Motor Company is now using ships to move its cars across domestic markets to save on costs and reduce carbon footprint.

As many as 800 cars were loaded on to the M.V. IDM Symex, a roll-on-roll-off (RoRo) vessel, at the Chennai Port  recently and the vessel sailed for Pipavav Port.   Though Hyundai had been using Chennai Port for exporting cars, this is the first time it is transporting its cargo through the sea for domestic market. Trade sources said it takes normally three to four days for the car manufacturer to move vehicles from the production centres near Chennai to Gujarat region through trailers.

However, shipping them is seen as eco-friendly and low-cost as the Centre had promised to provide incentive of Rs.3,000 per car to those using coastal route.  The Hindu reported that after flagging off the maiden service, Chennai Port Trust officials are also talking to other OEMs such as Nissan and Ford to start using the coast for transporting cargo.  The Port Chairman is quoted as stating that to encourage the OEMs to use the Port services, they announced a flat wharfage rate of Rs.500 per small car and Rs.2,000 for big cars.  Kamarajar Port, which recently overtook Chennai Port in car exports, is also reportedly  thinking in a similar direction.

The news report adds that Vessel owner Symex Maritime Inc. has been granted permission by the Directorate General of Shipping to carry out coastal run for five years. IDM Symex will be used to transport cars manufactured mainly by Hyundai and other manufacturers. To make it viable, Symex is in discussion with exporters and importers to ship other commodities during the return trip to Chennai. Reportedly an earlier attempt was not so successful. 

It is now sated that moving cars by coastal shipping would be 25 to 30 per cent cheaper when compared to road. It is pollution free, as nearly 100 car trailers would be off the road.  According to government estimates, a diversion of 5 per cent of cargo transportation to a waterborne mode can result in an annual saving of  Rs.2,000 crore and a reduction of 6 per cent in harmful chemicals and pollutants.

Commodities carried by coastal shipping include thermal coal, crude oil, iron ore and cement, and this has not changed over the years.  A web search reveals that APM Terminals Pipavav  received its first domestic Ro-Ro shipment of 800 Hyundai cars  recently.  The development follows Ministry of Shipping's decision to relax cabotage regulations on special vessels … lot happening out there, on the sea and at ports.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Feb 2016.