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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

vistadome coach at Araku valley ! - Kilimanjaro Machu Picchu ..

The Incas were brutally conquered in the 16th century by the Spanish, who made Peru one of the capitals of their empire, and sent a steady stream of gold and silver from the country to Spain. But Machu Picchu, also known as “the lost city of the Incas,” was never discovered by them and so never plundered.   This place was seen in "Kilimanjaro" song in Enthiran starring Rajnikant, directed by S Shankar.  Machu Picchu is in Cusco Region, Urubamba Province  on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level.

PeruRail is a railway operator working tourist, freight, and charter services in southern Peru. It was founded in 1999 by peruvian entrepreneur Lorenzo Sousa and British company Sea Containers. Its website claims that - If you love nature and the countryside, the Vistadome is exactly what you’re looking for.The panoramic windows located beside and above your seat will bring you close to nature unlike anything you’ve experienced before.The Vistadome* train offers a unique connection with the scenery along the way to Machu Picchu, making passengers feel as if they were somehow part of the nature that surrounds them.

Quite exotic and we could see them only in Cinema, one may wonder – not really, as there is Vistadome coach having  glass panels in the roof providing  tourists with all-round views on scenic lines in India – yes, at Vishakhapatnam – Araku route.  Two Vistadome coaches have been built for the route by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai. As well as the glass ceiling, they have rotating seats, LED lighting and a GPS-based passenger information system. Similar vehicles are planned for introduction on other scenic routes.

‘The long cherished dream of Vishakhapatnam tourists to travel in Vistadome coaches with wide windowpanes has become a reality,’ said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu when he flagged off the first service via a teleconferencing facility. ‘The objective here is to offer tourists to enjoy the scenic beauty, not only at destination, but also en route to picturesque Araku Valley.’  - it is yet another attempt by the active Railway Minister   Suresh Prabhu.   With cleanliness, world-class technology, quick responses, reduced grievances, agile booking facilities and a lot more, services with Indian Railways have touched a new high. But that doesn't stop Prabhu from improvising. Aiming to provide a delightful travelling experience to the picturesque Araku valley in Visakhapatnam, the Railways recently  introduced a see-through Vistadome coach on its Visakhapatnam-Kirandul passenger train.

This train has Vistadome coach that has glass roof, LED lights, GPS-based info system and rotating seats among other features.MrPrabhu also laid the foundation stone for mechanised laundry at Visakhapatnam, which he said will significantly improve the quality of linen provided on the trains and would lead to enhanced passenger satisfaction.A function was also arranged at Visakhapatnam in which a number of public representatives including MP Kothapalli Geetha and several MLAs were present.

Though the demands and expectations of common man are high, they do not often transform – though the attractive train was made available, it is reported that many tourists did not avail the train with vistadome coach from Araku to Vizag due to high ticket prices and unfavourable timings ! 

Railway officials said tourists are not willing to pay Rs 665 per head for one journey and are also upset that there are no concessions for children. Moreover, the trains scheduled daily departure back to Vizag from Araku is 4.10pm and arrival at the port city is 8.30 pm. However, passengers complained that the return journey gets delayed regularly because of which the train leaves Araku much after sunset and leaves no room for them to enjoy the view before reaching Vizag.

The  journey in the glass-domed coach from Vizaag to Araku would provide  a good glimpse of the valleys, trees, animals, birds and tunnels – and luxury naturally comes at a price. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Apr 2017.

Haryana impersonated alleges Anju George ~ 14th National Youth Athletics Championship 2017

In Big bash league, in the commentary box, former Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds tried impersonating the  Yorkshire accent of  former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott.  Those following Chennai local league, (especially Triplicanites) would have heard this story.  There was this local team trying to break into the lower division league.  In the all important match, with the team chasing, their ace batsman got out scoring little opening the innings.  Hearsay stories put that, he went to a nearby saloon, had his head tonsured and came to bat again ! impersonating another .. .. ..

At Nelson Mandela’s funeral with top old leaders assembled including US president Barack Obama and president Jacob Zuma, person named  Thamasanqa Jantjie stood on stage and translated eulogies from world leaders with  series of hand signals – which were later revealed to be nothing and the man a fake.  He later  blamed his behaviour on a schizophrenic episode, saying he lost concentration, started hearing voices and hallucinating.  Deaf groups responded immediately, saying he made no sense in any language and did not seem to know the recognised signs for South Africa, Mr Mandela’s clan name Madiba, President Jacob Zuma or former President Thabo Mbeki.

Now read this story of impersonation accusation as it appeared in The Indian Express, Chennai edition.

With the sun setting on the 14th National Youth Athletics Championship,  overall victors Haryana were expected to walk off into the sunset. Instead, the 50-odd contingent will be worried after one of their male athletes was accused of impersonation by former World Championship bronze medallist Anju Bobby George and the Kerala team. In Anju’s words, the incident took place during the medley relay event on the third and final day. “After finishing one of the laps, one of the boys just kept running and went out of the scene and didn’t come back,” she told Express.

Haryana claimed gold in the event but the former Olympian alleged that it was not the same boy who had run the race. “I’m 100 per cent sure that it was not the same person.” As soon as the race ended, the former long jumper set out to locate the mystery boy. When the Haryana camp presented the said participant in front of her, she refused to accept him as the same competitor. “The pictures clearly show that he was wearing a wrist band and necklace while running.

Where did all of that suddenly disappear? The boy in the picture looks quite muscular too. We are always vigilant about malpractice but these keep happening,” Anju, who was present at GMC Balayogi Athletics Stadium as an AFI observer, said. The athlete in question said that his mother had given the bands to wear during the race. “I removed it after the race. My teammates know that I am the one,” he told in his defence. Kerala team coach Rajeevan K cited the team photographer as the person who spotted the incident. “He found about it while looking at the photographs,” Rajeevan said.

An Athletics Federation of India representative lodged Kerala’s complaint and said that due diligence would be done. Anju also lamented the fact that there is huge gap between senior and youth-level athletes.“Youth athletes have a tough time assembling for camps because of their studies and this needs to be addressed urgently. My academy in Bengaluru has tied up with Sports Authority of India and we are taking care of the athletes’ studies as well,” Anju said, while hinting that the process of approaching the Court of Arbitration for Sports to claim her Athens Olympics medal in long jump is also underway.

Anju Bobby George made history when she won the bronze medal in Long Jump at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris. With this achievement, she became the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in a World Championships in Athletics jumping 6.70 m. She went on to win the Gold medal at the IAAF World Athletics Final in 2005, a performance she considers her best. Anju was upgraded to gold status from silver in the 2005 World Athletics Final in Monte Carlo following the disqualification of Tatyana Kotova of Russia by the International Association of Athletics Federations, following the recent re-testing of the latter’s sample collected at the 2005 World Championship in Helsinki. She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2002.

She perhaps was denied her rightful fame – years after the Athens Olympics 2004, Anju Bobby George and two other athletes — Australia's Bronwyn Thompson and Britain’s Jade Johnson —  made a bid to claim the long jump medals the trio believes were "stolen" from them by dope cheats.Even though the medallists in the women's long jump event at Athens — Tatyana Lebedeva (gold), Irina Simagina (silver) and Tatyana Kotova (bronze) — passed the dope tests at the time, they have subsequently failed tests in other competitions. That, and the revelations of state sponsored doping coming out of Russia in recent months, have led Anju, Thompson and Johnson to believe that foul play was afoot during the 2004 Games.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Apr 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017

famous Jeweller of Dehradun sentenced for holding Bank Account in Swiss !!

In early 2011, several reports Indian media alleged Swiss Bankers Association officials to have said that the largest depositors of illegal foreign money in Switzerland are Indians.  Though these were to be denied immediately later by Swiss Bankers Association as well as the central bank of Switzerland – there have been many reported list containing the name of Indians having such black money deposits. 

In 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 !!  April is different, salaried middle class ordinary Indian is busy providing details of proposed savings and possible deductions towards Housing loan and more !!

Money problem would mean different to different persons.  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…. In Kandasamy, Vikram would hack the password and transfer millions of the villain’s account. In Hollywood style, James Bond enters a Swiss bank in Spain and is frisked before he can meet with the banker. In the "Da Vinci Code," a triangular-shaped key activates a robotic arm that pulls a safety deposit box from the wall in a Swiss bank in Paris to ultimately reveal the secret to Christianity. Never sure whether such things would happen and for that matter not sure even of imagination, on what a Swiss bank looks like.   Mostly we have a distorted or mostly unrealistic view of what it really means to have the prestigious Swiss bank account.  Our imagined Swiss bank accounts is for millionaires, criminals or government officials trying to hide ill-gotten wealth,  celebrities protecting their assets from former spouses.

Ever heard realistic version of a person holding Swiss bank account  ? – here is a Dehradun jeweler who has been handed imprisonment !

The court of the Dehradun Chief judicial Magistrate (CJM) recently  sentenced the owner of a famous jewellery showroom  at Dehradun  to two years' rigorous imprisonment for “hiding“ his Swiss bank account from the income tax (I-T) department. The court also slapped a fine of Rs.8 lakh on Raju Verma, who owns Punjab Jewellers on Rajpur Road. A prosecution lawyer said the I-T department had found that Verma had `92 lakh in his Swiss bank account in 2006, “which he had not disclosed to evade tax“. The jeweller has been convicted under Section 276 C (1) (wilful attempts to evade any tax) and Section 277 (false statement in verification) of the Income Tax Act 1961. The court, however, freed Verma on bail for a month to appeal in a higher court.

Incidentally , the I-T department had received a written complaint in 2012 which claimed that Verma had a personal bank account in HSBC's Geneva branch in Switzerland, which he had not disclosed to the government. “On the basis of the complaint, I-T department sleuths raided his house on Dehradun's Curzon Road on March 14, 2012 and recovered important documents regarding his Swiss bank account. He neither took the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) permission to open the account and nor did he disclose the money deposited in it,“ prosecution lawyer SM Jain said. After gathering evidence against the jeweller, the income tax department filed a complaint with the economic offences wing of the CJM court in Dehradun in 2015. During the trial, the prosecution examined six I-T department officials, including its commissioner and inspectors, to prove the offence.  An official told TOI that ED imposed a fine of `5 lakh on Verma for violating Fema rules, which has already been paid by him.

For all that hype surrounding Swiss accounts, the secretive era could be at an end.  The neutral country has long been famed for its anonymous accounts which can be used to facilitate money laundering and tax evasion as well as being used for entirely legitimate purposes.  It has now bowed to increasing pressure to come into line with international transparency standards by introducing rules that ensure bank accounts details will be shared with tax authorities of other nations.

More than one hundred other states have already signed up to the international agreement. Switzerland will begin collecting the information this year and share it in 2018 with other signatories to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. Prior to 2017, Switzerland only provided bank account information upon request to countries with which it had signed a bilateral agreement to prevent double taxation. Even then, there was no guarantee of full cooperation. Data will now be automatically shared once a year among all countries who have signed up to the agreement.

For most of us, the news is interesting but has little or no relevance !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Apr 2017.

Elephant calf comes calling home .. .. ....

‘depredation’ ~ (noun) would mean an act of attacking or plundering.  This word is often associated with the ravage/ raid and resultant damage caused by elephants.  The picture of an elephant atop a house at Mudumalai surprised me – but perhaps was no great news for locals !

There are frequent reports of wild elephants causing damage to crops, some property and rarely humans too. Most of the damage is said to be caused during the rainy season when the elephants from these protected areas enter the human settlements in this region. 

In summer, elephants search for waterholes and in their movements come in conflict with humans – again, in many cases, the shrinking forests and encroachments in the elephant corridor are cited as reason for the conflicts.  Globally, they are poached in large numbers, mainly for the tusks and are getting killed cruelly.

Those working in MNCs for sure would have heard very many high sounding terminologies, words of Management parlance  and some are associated with elephants.  Yes, elephants. Sales people go hunting for elephants; lack of coordination across teams is like the story of blind men grasping at the elephant; ~ and elephant in board rooms.

Board members are concerned about the Company’s value; that is related to growth and then profitability, declaration of dividends, goodwill, reach of Company’s product and the like. Making more money from existing customers is the heart of “Customer Success Management” and as the Company grows,  revenue from existing customers becomes a larger and larger part of its economic value. In Board rooms, there would be talk on new sales, bookings, managing sales and service, competitor analysis, leads and pipelines – but still, there could be larger and important issues, which may not be touched upon.

The phrase, ‘Elephant in the (board) room’ would mean an important and obvious topic, which everyone present is aware of, but which isn't discussed, as such discussion is considered to be uncomfortable.

Presence of elephant could be uncomfortable and not very pleasant as found out by a houseowner, as reported in Times of India of date.  Building a house close to the road with its roof at the ground level has its hazards. A vehicle can veer off the road and plunge into the house, Zumila knew. But not even in her wildest dreams did she expect an elephant to crash through the roof.

A jumbo and its year-old calf were taking a stroll in the early hours of Thursday in the Kozhipalam area of Gudalur town when the baby stepped on the asbestos roof of the house. The sheet gave way and the calf vanished into a hole right in front of the eyes of its horrified mom. Zumila, 30, and her 45-day old baby were deep asleep when a deafening crash jolted them awake. In the dim light Zumila could see an elephant in the room looking dazed.

Just a bad dream, she thought, and wanted to go back to sleep. But things started happening. On hearing the terrified baby shrieking, the equally petrified calf went berserk. Zumila grabbed her baby and made a dash for the kitchen. “The elephant calf, in its haste to get out of this strange environment, knocked her down causing minor injuries,“ said P Ganesan, forest officer, Gudalur range.

The calf could not get out of the house as the front door was closed. Just as Zumila was desperate to save her child, the calf 's mother too was looking for ways to get its baby out of the mess. “The mother elephant broke open the back door of the house and pulled the calf out,“ said the forest official. “Once we received the information, we went to the spot and coaxed the elephant and its calf back to the forest,“ he said. Located on the Ooty Kozhikode road, Kozhipalam is just 500 metres away from a reserve forest area.

A badly shaken Zumila was  admitted to Gudalur Government Hospital. “We have photographed the damaged house. After procedural formalities, the government will recommend compensation to be paid to the family, the Forest official added.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Apr 2017.

PS :  During an Insurance seminar of IIISLA at Anaikatti, Coimbatore, I thought of taking a luncheon stroll – was informed by the lonely gatekeeper not to venture far on the road and be conscious all the time. It sounded eerie but this photo answers it all .. .. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cassini begins its final dive - in & out of Saturn's rings !!

If you live away from a City or visit a village, the great opportunity is ‘star gazing’ in the night – away from city light refractions, you can easily spot more stars !!

The second largest planet in our solar system, adorned with thousands of beautiful ringlets, Saturn is unique among the planets. It is not the only planet to have rings -- made of chunks of ice and rock -- but none are as spectacular or as complicated as Saturn's. Like fellow gas giant Jupiter, Saturn is a massive ball of mostly hydrogen and helium. Surrounding by 53 confirmed and nine provisional moons, Saturn is home to some of the most fascinating landscapes in our solar system. From the jets of Enceladus to the methane lakes on smoggy Titan, the Saturn system is a rich source of scientific discovery and still holds many mysteries.

The farthest planet from Earth observable by the unaided human eye, Saturn has been known since ancient times and is named for the Roman god of agriculture and wealth. The Greek equivalent was Cronos, the father of Zeus/Jupiter. This is all about an  ambitious 20-year mission to gain a better understanding of Saturn, its rings, its magnetosphere and its icy moons. It is  Cassini – a sophisticated robotic spacecraft – sent to orbit the ringed planet and study the Saturnian system in detail.  It was to have 4 phases :
1.       initial four-year mission (2004-2008)
2.       first extension, called the Cassini Equinox Mission (2008-2010)
3.       second extension, called the Cassini Solstice Mission (2010-2017)
4.       conclusion – to  carry out a daring set of orbits called the Grand Finale (2017)

Cassini-Huygens was a joint project between Nasa, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency when the probe first launched in 1997. After seven years it arrived at Saturn on July 1, 2004 and it has been orbiting it ever since. The Huygens probe attached to the spacecraft and travelled with Cassini until 2005, when it detached and landed on Titan in 2005. Both have beamed back invaluable images about Saturn and its moons.

Today, Nasa's Cassini spacecraft will boldly go where no probe has gone before as it begins its descent to the region between Saturn and its innermost ring. The spacecraft's "Grand Finale" will see it dip in and out of the planet's rings 22 times over the coming months before it enters the planet's atmosphere, burning up in the process.  Cassini, which launched two decades ago, has been circling the planet for 13 years but it has finally begun to run low on the propellant used to adjust its course, and scientists fear it damaging one of the moons it was sent to space to study for signs of life.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has had its last close brush with Saturn's hazy moon Titan and is now beginning its final set of 22 orbits around the ringed planet. The spacecraft made its 127th  and final close approach to Titan on April 21 at 11:08 p.m. PDT (2:08 a.m. EDT on April 22), passing at an altitude of about 608 miles (979 kilometers) above the moon's surface.

Cassini transmitted its images and other data to Earth following the encounter. Scientists with Cassini's radar investigation will be looking this week at their final set of new radar images of the hydrocarbon seas and lakes that spread across Titan's north polar region. The planned imaging coverage includes a region previously seen by Cassini's imaging cameras, but not by radar. The radar team also plans to use the new data to probe the depths and compositions of some of Titan's small lakes for the first (and last) time, and look for further evidence of the evolving feature researchers have dubbed the "magic island."  "Cassini's up-close exploration of Titan is now behind us, but the rich volume of data the spacecraft has collected will fuel scientific study for decades to come," said Linda Spilker, the mission's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The flyby also put Cassini on course for its dramatic last act, known as the Grand Finale. As the spacecraft passed over Titan, the moon's gravity bent its path, reshaping the robotic probe's orbit slightly so that instead of passing just outside Saturn's main rings, Cassini will begin a series of 22 dives between the rings and the planet on April 26. The mission will conclude with a science-rich plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15.

After the spacecraft's first finale on April 26 at 2 a.m. PDT (5 a.m. EDT). (Pacific Daylight time and Eastern daylight time) – the  spacecraft will be out of contact during the dive and for about a day afterward while it makes science observations from close to the planet. Cassini may be beginning its journey to destruction, but the process will take several months. It will dip in and out of Saturn's rings 22 times over the next 142 days before its mission finally ends on September 15, reaching a top speed of 76,806 miles per hour. The mission has been extended by Nasa three times, but with Cassini finally running out of fuel, scientists fear that it could crash into one of the planets that may support life. While unlikely, Nasa wants to avoid any microbes from earth that might remain on the probe contaminating the surface.

Giovanni Domenico Cassini (1625 – 1712) was an Italian mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and engineer. Cassini was born in Perinaldo, near Imperia, at that time in the County of Nice, part of the Duchy of Savoy. Cassini is known for his work in the fields of astronomy and engineering. Cassini discovered four satellites of the planet Saturn and noted the division of the rings of Saturn; the Cassini Division was named after him. Giovanni Domenico Cassini was also the first of his family to begin work on the project of creating a topographic map of France. The Cassini spaceprobe, launched in 1997, was named after him and became the fourth to visit Saturn and the first to orbit the planet.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th apr 2017

Pic credit : News source : NASA

Monday, April 24, 2017

RCB : Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers ~ all out for 49 in 9.4 overs !!

7 0 1 8 9 8 2 0 2 5 0 7 ~ and this entry of Umpires did not look any innovative to me !

The game of Cricket has undergone many and varied changes since its inception – the accidental invention of ‘limited Overs Internationals (ODI)’  and subsequent thoughtful proposition of T20 have attracted more people – now slowly it is becoming more of a media sport.   There have been no radical changes nor visionaries, though some bold changes are always contemplated.  One novel attempt was the substitute which in effect allowed 12 players rather than the traditional 11. 

IPL showed some new dimensions – for people hooked to the concept of Nation and States vying for trophies, it brought in Clubs with players of different nation participating as one team – the colour, theme, dresses, and the concept no doubt attracted newer audiences and increased popularity.  There are people who are adding colour by their newer looks too ..

Will IPL provide platform for National duty – the likes of Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey, Nitish Rana, Rishab Pant, Sanju Samson – all have been scoring heavily and at a great strike rate – hoping for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy that  is scheduled to be held in England and Wales between 1 and 18 June 2017.[1] This will be the 8th edition of the tournament. The top eight teams in the ICC ODI Championship rankings as on 30 September 2015 qualified for the tournament. The eight teams were divided into two groups of four.Bangladesh replaced the West Indies, who finished outside the top eight in ninth position, in the ICC ODI Team Rankings on the cut-off date. Bangladesh returned to the ICC Champions Trophy for the first time since 2006, and for the first time, the West Indies lost their place in the Champions Trophy. So sadly, the likes of Pollard, Bravo, Narine will not be seen !!

There have been instances when team's won the match despite making a low score. Bowlers have single-handedly ensured victories.  In 1983, Kapil Devils defended successfully 183 against mighty West Indies and in 1985, India bowled out Pakis for 87 to win a match in Sharjah.  In Mar 2014, Netherlands hit the bottom, bowled out for 39.  Netherlands were all out for 39 in 10.3 overs – their scorecard read : 0;0;1;16;0;8;4;1;3;0;0.. Lankans were in a hurry recording the  fastest ever victory in a T20 International. Digging into records, one would be surprised to note that the lowest in T20 is higher than the lowest in ODI, which again is higher that the lowest in an innings in Test Cricket.

In Test Cricket – the lowest total is New Zealand’s 26 in Mar 1955 made at Auckland against England in Test 402; South Africa had been shot out for 30 twice once in Feb 1896 and later in June 1924;  next is South Africa’s 35 V England in Apr 1899 and again by the same South Africa 36 in Feb 1932.   Next is ‘42’ – of New Zealand in Mar 1946; Australia in Feb 1888 and Indian’s dismal show at Lords in June 1974 when they were bowled out in 17 overs. 

Yesterday it was RCB to hit the nadir.  The commentators kept asking what could be a reasonable target to be set for RCB to chase – for a lineup that had Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB deVilliers – they were dwelling that even 200 may not be safe – but the scorecard of RCB read : 7 0 1 8 9 8 2 0 2 5 0 7 ~ none including extras reached the double figures.  The Bangalore team was blown away for IPL’s lowest ever total to hand Koklata a 82 run win – chasing a mere 131.  The mighty folded meekly  in mere  9.4 overs.

Nathan Coulter-Nile struck in the third over of the innings by having dangerman Kohli caught at second slip by Manish Pandey . Pandey again  caught the other opener Mandeep Singh off Umesh Yadav. Coulter-Nile consumed AbD   in his next over and Keder Jadhav followed.  Chris Gayle perished trying to pull Woakes only to be caught at mid-off by Coulter-Nile.  Earlier Sunil Narine once again gave the home team a flying start but sensational middle-order collapse saw Kolkata being bowled out for a mere 131 in 19.3 overs.Kolkata, who recorded the fastest 50 of this IPL in 3.5 overs ultimately ended up as the first team to be bowled out while batting first. Chahal, Bangalore's highest wicket-taker, played the role of wrecker-in-chief, finishing with figures 316 -the best in IPL-10.

The earlier lows have been :  58 all out in 15.1 overs, Rajasthan Royals (banned from IPL 2016-17) Vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2009.  67 all out in 15.2 overs, Kolkata Knight Riders Vs Mumbai Indians, IPL 2008.

The unpredictability always makes the game most interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Apr 2017.

Monday, April 17, 2017

United Air gets people off air and is in news !!!

Even today, we feel that Train travel is for the masses and elites travel by air ! – till a couple of decades ago, the most arduous part was standing in long queues and booking tickets.  Indian Railways revolutionized the way people travel, or rather they buy tickets when they first introduced Computerised reservation and later – the e-ticket.
When you book, ticket may not be readily available and you get wait-listed.  Some may still not know that waiting list ticket is invalid and one cannot travel holding the same.  Earlier, unconfirmed e-tickets only were considered invalid, but those with tickets (waiting list) can travel in general compartment and may get an upgrade, in case there is still some vacancy, with people not showing up.

Away in USA, a couple about to be married -  groom Michael Hohl,and his fiancee Amber Maxwell discovered people sleeping in their allocated seats when they boarded the plane, after a layover at George Bush Intercontinental airport after departing Salt Lake City.  They reportedly  moved to different seats in the same class, because people were sleeping in theirs and he didn’t want to wake them up ~ and now they are in no news, for seemingly no fault of theirs.

United Airlines, Inc., commonly referred to as United, is a major American airline headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.  By some accounts, it is the world's third-largest airline when measured by revenue, operates a domestic and international route network, and has presence in the Asia-Pacific region. United was founded in 1926 as Varney Air Lines  and was later known as United Air Lines.  United operates out of nine airline hubs located in Chicago, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C.

Recently they were in news for all wrong reasons - after passenger Dr David Dao lost two front teeth and suffered a broken nose when he was forcibly removed from a fligh.  United Airlines said the move was aimed at improving its customer services.
The incident involving Dr Dao caused outrage and widespread condemnation of the airline after shocking footage was shared and watched by millions of people online.His daughter, Crystal Dao Pepper, later told a news conference in Chicago that the family had been "sickened" by what had happened.Law enforcement officials dragged Dr Dao off a flight departing from Chicago for Louisville, Kentucky, because it was fully booked, and the airline wanted four passengers to make way for staff members.The 69-year-old Vietnamese-American physician had refused to leave, saying he needed to go home to see his patients. He was then dragged down the aisle of the aircraft.His lawyer later said that Dr Dao found the experience "more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced when leaving Vietnam".

The ordeal led to demonstrations at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and turned into a public relations disaster for United Airlines.  Now comes the news of a  bride and groom headed to Costa Rica for their wedding getting  kicked off a United flight out of Houston following an issue with seating on the plane.

Michael Hohl, the groom, said he and his fiancĂ©, Amber Maxwell, were the last to board United Airlines Flight 1737 which was headed from Houston to Liberia, Costa Rica. According to Hohl, they noticed a man was spread across their row napping when they approached their seats, so they decided to move three rows up to row 21.He said they didn't think it would matter because the flight was half full with multiple empty rows.“We thought not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat," said Hohl.“We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.”In a Boeing 737-800 like the one the couple was on, United considers Row 21 "economy plus," which is an upgrade.

After sitting, Hohl said a flight attendant approached and asked if they were in their ticketed seats. The couple explained they weren't and asked if they could get an upgrade, but instead they were told they needed to return to their assigned seats.Hohl said after complying with the flight attendant's demand, a U.S. Marshall came onto the plane and asked them to get off.The couple cooperated and got off the plane without incident, but they still don't understand why.

United Airlines said in a statement that the couple tried to sit in an upgraded seat "repeatedly" and they "wouldn't follow crew instructions."The bride and groom were rebooked for another flight the next morning, but Hohl said they won't be flying United again and described the whole situation as "quite strange."

Despite their flight delay, their wedding is still planned for Thursday.United Airlines is steel reeling after the  viral video of passenger being dragged off a United flight went viral.

Strange are the ways of people

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Apr 2017.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

heritage home damaged by fire at Dorset ~ what is indemnity ??

‘And near that day one of his soldiers with his sword casually killed Lady Strode in that same place.’ - So wrote A. R. Bayley in his book, The Great Civil War in Dorset 1642-1660, published in 1910. The soldier was one of those under the command of Colonel Fairfax, the Parliamentary commander in the West, and ‘that same place’ was Parnham House near Beaminster. It was one of the examples of gratuitous violence that occurred during the 1640s when England was rent by the Civil War. Dorset, (Dorsetshire) is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. Covering an area of 2,653 square kilometres (1,024 sq mi), Dorset borders Devon, Somerset,  Wiltshire, Hampshire (thankfully couple of counties that I have read the names because of their Cricket connection !!)

Fire Insurance is a contract whereby the Insurers upon consideration,  agree to indemnify the insured against loss or damage to subject matter insured caused by perils during the currency of policy. In India, we have the Standard Fire & Special Perils Policy.  Though the name is Fire Policy, it covers a host of perils including – flood, cyclone, storm, riot, strike, impact damage and more.  There has to be a specified subject matter which is insured against, at a given value, i.e., the sum insured.  It can be Building, Plant & machinery and Stocks – and when damaged by insured perils, the Insurer’s indemnify – place the insured back in the position as they were prior to the loss.  This indemnification is purely on monetary terms and no Insurer can in reality bring back certain subject-matter – and the subject matter is a heritage building damaged by fire. 

MailOnline reports that Twenty fire engines were called to Parnham House, in Dorset, this morning to tackle the blaze. Pictures appear to show a large part of the home engulfed by flames which gutted the interior.  The mansion is believed to be privately owned with all occupants accounted for.  Dorset Police are investigating how the fire was started  and have not ruled out suspiscious circumstances. 

The building damaged in fire is a  16th century stately home and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service tweeted images of the blaze which appeared to destroy a large part of the mansion.  The house is believed to be privately owned by Michael and Emma Treichl who renovated the site eight years ago. A spokeswoman for Dorset Police told Somerset Live officers were alerted at 4.10am.  'Officers arrived at 4.25am to find an extensive fire at the premises - all occupants were accounted for,' she said and an investigation in to the cause of fire was on.

It was the site of the brutal 1645 murder during the English Civil War. Parnham was brought into the ownership of the Strode family in the mid-1500s who lived in the property for 200 years.  It was the site of murder  of Lady Ann Strode by a soldier under the command of Colonel Thomas Fairfax - commander-in-chief of the Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War. During the 1920s the house was a country club until it was used to accommodate American soldiers during the Second World War. It was bought by the Treichls in 2001. Before the fire, the house and gardens were open to the public during spring and summer.

Had the property been insured, its owners might get the value required for rebuilding the same at its present site, but the heritage value, however, would have been lost forever.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

15th Apr 2017.

liability of Railway Company for missing goods ! ~ interesting judgement

When processing a quote for Marine transit ~ the first Q of a Marine Underwriter is the mode of transit.  Generally, it is Road / Rail / Sea / Air – by Sea, it could be by Ship, sometimes by Sailing vessels and country crafts also.  Every Carrier upon receipt of goods issues document establishing entrustment and it is the basic duty of the Carrier to deliver the goods at destination, in the same state as they were entrusted to them.  Earlier there was Indian Railways Act 1890 replaced now by – The Railways Act 1989.  What happens when goods entrusted to Railways for transportation goes missing ?  How much is the Railways liable and what is the procedure (when Insured and when goods are uninsured) ~ something interesting from a Caselaw of Allahabad High Court pertaining to year 1923 !! is the subject matter of this post.
coils in transit in open Railway wagons .. 

Section 93 of the Act deals with the general responsibility of Railway Administration as carrier of goods: 

         A Railway Administration shall be responsible for the loss, destruction, damage or deterioration in transit or non-delivery of any consignment arising from any cause except the following namely: Act of God; Act of War;  Act of Public Enemies; Arrest, restraint or seizure under legal process; Order or restrictions imposed by the Central Government or a State Government;  Act of omission or negligence of the consignor or the consignee or the endorsee or the agent or servant of the consignor or the consignee or the endorsee;  Natural deterioration or wastage in bulk or weight due to inherent defect, quality of vice of the goods; Latent defects; Fire, explosion or any unforeseen risk, provided that even where such loss, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery is proved to have arisen from any one or more of the aforesaid causes, the railway administration shall not be relieved of its responsibility for the loss, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery unless the railway administration further proves that it has used reasonable foresight and care in the carriage of the goods.

There is another Section – Sec 103 that deals with the extent of monetary liability in respect of consignments entrusted.  The Act provides for declaration of value to the Railways.  If value is declared and prescribed fee paid, then the extent would the value of the cargo so declared and where the value of consignment is not declared,  the amount of liability of the railway administration for the loss, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery of the consignment shall in no case exceed such amount calculated with reference to the weight of the consignment as may be prescribed, and where such consignment consists of an animal, the liability shall not exceed such amount as may be prescribed.

It is a case of Allahabad High Court against East Indian Railway Company in Nov 1923, an appeal on a decision of Small Cause Court. 

                        The plaintiff was the consignee of 126 bags, which were loaded at Kidderpur station and were despatched to Cawnpore. (Kanpur!)  The railway wagon arrived at Cawnpore on the 27thof December, 1921, and the seals on the wagon were found intact. As the railway company had many other wagons to unload, this wagon was put on a siding and remained there for two days.  Later it was reported that the seals on one side of the wagon were broken. When the contents were checked, it was discovered that six bags were missing. After a lengthy correspondence, which came to nothing, the plaintiff instituted  suit to recover damages for the loss of the bags.

Railway  company took several pleas in defence, but three main issues were framed by the trial court. The first was whether the risk-note absolved the defendant company of all liability or not. The second was whether the goods were stolen at Cawnpore yard and whether the risk-note (form B) applied and whether the defendant company was guilty of wilful negligence or not. And the third was to what money the plaintiff was entitled.

The learned Judge of the Small Cause Court found these issues in favour of the plaintiff and granted him a decree.  Railways went for revision urging that the findings of the lower court are quite insufficient and further that the burden lay on the plaintiff to prove that there was either a wilful neglect of the company or theft by or on account of the wilful neglect of its servants.

I am bound to concede that under the contract which took the shape of the risk-note (form B) a prima facie burden lay on the plaintiff to prove neglect or theft of the kind mentioned therein. I agree that a mere proof of the loss of the goods would not be sufficient to entitle the plaintiff to a decree. This was the view expressed by a Bench of this Court in the case of East Indian Railway Co. v. Nathmal Behari Lal (1917).  It is obvious that the evidence, if any, of wilfull neglect or negligence is within the special means of knowledge of the railway company, and it is ordinarily very difficult for a plaintiff to establish that the loss was due to the wilful neglect of the company. Nevertheless, I concede that under the terms of the contract the burden is prima facie on the consignee. But I am of opinion that where certain circumstances have been established, either by direct evidence produced by the plaintiff or by the cross-examination of the witnesses for the defendant, from which circumstances wilful neglect or negligence can be inferred, the burden must then be shifted to the defendant company. Such circumstances coupled with the patent fact that the packages have been lost, may justify a court to hold that the burden has been discharged.

                    It  is to be noted that the only circumstance which the plaintiff had there proved was the fact that the goods had been despatched and on arrival of the train in Cawnpore the seals of the doors of wagons were found to have been broken and six bags of sugar found missing. The learned Judges were doubtful whether it was not a case of theft from a running train.

 In a recent case decided by the House of Lords, namely, H.C. Smith Ld. v. Great Western Railway Co. (1922) 1 A.C. 178 (188), it was laid down that the burden of proving in the first instance that the loss sustained arose from the wilful misconduct of the company's servants was thrown upon the trader.

In the present case I find that the learned Judge of the Small Cause Court had before him a clear issue as to the wilful negligence of the company. In the course of his judgment he has pointed out that the yard where the wagon was kept was a very large one and that its wall on the jungle side was broken at several places at the time when the goods were stolen. He has commented on the fact that the railway company took two days to unload the goods after their arrival at the station. Having considered these circumstances, he remarks: "If the goods are lost on account of the railway company's not making proper arrangements, the railway company is liable." Further on, he remarks that it was clearly not a case of theft from a running train. In view of these findings I am unable to hold that the judgment of the learned Judge of the Small Cause Court is wrong. In view of this I am unable to interfere. The application is rejected.

One cannot judge the predicament of the consignor reading a case that occurred almost a century ago, .. .. yet, it is a case of short delivery of consignment, which Railway Company denied in first place, and the cargo owner had to go to Court and again appear on appeal made by Railway Company.

Interesting !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13th Apr 2017.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

riding a horse ~ sad tale of a young girl's injury - million pound law suit..

Is India a litigant State – not exactly ? – there are thousands of cases pending at Courts across States and UTs.  By some statistics there are lakhs of cases failed to have been decided in the last 10 years ~ and what justice if it comes after a decade ? – there are Criminal cases and Civil cases take much longer time to be adjudicated.  But when one asks - what would be the liability scenario in India, in near future ? – it is a totally different picture and newer perspective.

A lawsuit is : a suit, action, or cause instituted or depending between two private persons in the courts of law."  The term refers to any proceeding by a party or parties against another in a court of law.  It may also refer to a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy.

In US, there would be lawsuits, batch actions – all brought about in various courts arising out of single or a related event.  In Oct last, there were reports of   Talcum powder lawsuits alleging Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products can contribute to the development of ovarian cancer continue to move forward in Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis. A pool of 50 jurors has already been selected for the litigation's third trial, and the Court is expected to choose the final 12 jurors before opening arguments could begin.  The case scheduled for trial was filed on behalf of a California woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. According to her lawsuit, the plaintiff was a regular, long-time user of Johnson & Johnson's talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes in the years leading up to her diagnosis. She claims that the company was aware of the alleged link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer for years, but failed to take steps to warn consumers.

Moving away, what happens when one rides a horse ? – no, not the ones roaming at Marina beach – even there, there is the risk of injuries though they do not compare with the  risks inherent to moto-racing,  extreme sports and illicit drug use.  In our country, data relating to any such injury would not be available, as there are no authentic sources.  It should not only be the data of injuries and resultant claims, but also data on the no. horses, the no. or riders, the frequency of such rides and more.  Globally, horse riding causes deaths and very serious injuries such as long term paralysis from spinal cord damage.

In UK, many heads turned when a  teenager left paralysed by a tragic riding accident  battled for more than £3million compensation from her ex-boyfriend's mother.Ashleigh Harris had just turned 14 when she broke her back after falling from Polly Perks, a thoroughbred mare owned by Rachel Miller.She was riding Polly in a field in Mathern, near Chepstow, when she suffered catastrophic injuries in 2012.

The accident left the keen rider,  now 19 - with no function in her legs, and she sued Mrs Miller at London's High Court. She was hardly 14, when she broke her back after falling from Polly Perks, a thoroughbred mare owned by her ex-boyfriend's mother Rachel Miller in Mathern, near Chepstow.  Ashleigh, of Woolaston, Lydney, in the Forest of Dean, claimed that  Polly 'misbehaved' and broke into a canter of her own accord, throwing her off in the process.  However, the owner - Mrs Miller, in her 40s, contended that  the horse was blameless and that Ashleigh fell after losing her balance as she descended a 'short and gentle slope'.

The court heard Ashleigh had been taken to a field on 22 September 2012 by Mrs Miller, the mother of her then boyfriend Keiran Miller.Keiransupported  his mother in court, insisting Ashleigh was a competent rider and he had even seen her riding bare back.  The claimant told the Court that she felt Polly was 'fidgety' and had been nipping at her and others.Describing her fall, she added: 'I had been riding for about five minutes and started trotting Polly.'She then went to canter and I held her up because I didn't ask her to.'She was throwing her head around and bucked, then I came out of the saddle and went over the horse's head. I hit the floor and rolled.'

David Westcott QC, for Ashleigh, said she should never have been allowed into Polly's saddle, as she had only ever ridden ponies.She was not an experienced equestrian and was just over five feet tall at the time, he said.He also said the mare was more than a hand higher than Ashleigh's own pony, was 'bred for racing' and had not been well-schooled.The barrister told the court: 'Ashleigh should never have been permitted to ride Polly in an open field on that day.'The risk was that Ashleigh would fall and suffer serious injury, and that is exactly what happened.'

Mrs Miller disputeds Ashleigh's version stating that she  tumbled off Polly as she was riding her at a walking pace down a hill in the field.She also said she had spoken to the teenager's mother before letting her ride the mare, and believed Ashleigh was a more experienced rider.Judge Graham Wood QC asked: 'She may have been trying to impress her boyfriend with her riding skills? There's a cachet in that'.

Month later, Judge Graham Wood QC  ruled that Ashleigh, of Woolaston, Lydney, is entitled to full compensation from Mrs Miller.Polly Perk's owner was bound to suffer "dire financial consequences" as a result, he added.The judge said Mrs Miller, in her 40s, had "encouraged" the teenager to ride the "strong and wilful thoroughbred" and exposed her to a risk of injury.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

12th Apr 2o17.