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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

a pass at 14216 feet Nathu La ~ the great Indian Soldier protecting us ...

India is “behaving like a mature power” in the Doklam standoff in the Sikkim section and making China look like an adolescent throwing a tamper tantrum, a top American defence expert has said. India and China have been locked in a face-off in the Doklam area for the last 50 days after Indian troops stopped the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from building a road in the area. Praising India’s behaviour over the matter, James R. Holmes, professor of strategy at the prestigious US Naval War College, said, “New Delhi has done things right thus far, neither backing away from the dispute nor replying in kind to Beijing’s over-the-top rhetoric.

“It is behaving as the mature power and making China look like the adolescent throwing a temper tantrum,” Holmes said.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling today  said its people are like "unpaid soldiers" defending the motherland and hit out at the West Bengal government for their "suffering" due to the ongoing Gorkhaland agitation.  "Sikkim's location states how strategic it is to the unity and integrity of the nation ... Our people are like unpaid soldiers defending our motherland. Unbounded peace and harmony for people living in the border states are great assets for the nation," he said unfurling the National Flag here on the occasion of Independence Day.

Yes Sikkim is far different and more strategic ~ the only Organic State is a beautiful tourist location and one has to see the cleanliness to believe that a place could be so neat and tidy.  Besides beautiful scenic spots, it also has – ‘Nathula Pass’ once a major corridor of passage between India and Tibet before it was closed in 1962. Located around 56 kms from Gangtok at an altitude of 14450 ft, the road to Nathula passes through the Tsomgo lake. It is one of the highest motorable roads in the world and is richly surrounded by alpine flora. Tourists are allowed to go close to the international border from where you can see Chinese soldiers at a handshaking distance  on the other side of the barbed wire.

On a visit here, nearer the border, Airtel messaged ~ ‘Welcome to China, Opt for International roaming pack and enjoy unlimited free incoming calls …. ’  - brushing it aside,    Nathu La means the pass of the Listening Ear. It served as a link on the old silk route between Gangtok and Kalimpong in India and Yatung in Tibet. This is the route where China suddenly and arbitrarily stopped the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra over its differences with Bhutan over the boundary and miffed with India coming to Bhutan's aid. It is at such altitude in hostile weather, our Soldiers protect us from foreign invasion, and we have to eternally remain indebted to our Jawans for protecting our motherland and making us feel happy and secure and with the freedom, we continue to utter every nonsense. 

Sikkim, the Organic State, borders China in its north and east, Bhutan in its east, Nepal in its west and West Bengal in its south. Sikkim is also located close to the Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states. A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kanchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth. Sikkim's capital and largest city is Gangtok. The Kingdom of Sikkim was founded on the Silk Road by the Namgyal dynasty in the 17th century. It was ruled by a Buddhist priest-king known as the Chogyal. It became a princely state of British India in 1890. After 1947, Sikkim continued its protectorate status with the republic of India. It enjoyed the highest literacy rate and per capita income among Himalayan states. In 1975, the Indian military deposed the Sikkimese monarchy. A referendum in 1975 led to Sikkim joining India as its 22nd state.

Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital  is located in the eastern Himalayan range, at an elevation of 1,650 m (5,410 ft). The town's population of 100,000 belongs to different ethnicities such as Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutia. Nestled within higher peaks of the Himalaya and enjoying a year-round mild temperate climate, Gangtok is at the centre of Sikkim's tourism industry.

The Nathula Pass on the Indo-China border in the state of Sikkim is a strategically important location for the Indian Army. Blocked by snow in the winters, it is one of the four Border Personnel Meeting points for the Indian and Chinese armies.  A visit to the pass at 4,310 m (14,216 ft) above mean sea level would make us gasp for breathe and realize the hardship of being there.  The 80 odd steps to the Indo-China checkpost at such altitude makes you feel the wind, velocity, chillness and difficulty that our soldiers brave daily. 

Besides, Nathu La, there  are Shipkila in Himachal Pradesh and Lipulekh (or Lipulech) at the trisection point of Uttarakhand–India, Nepal and China. Sealed by India after the 1962 Sino-Indian War, Nathu La was re-opened in 2006 following numerous bilateral trade agreements. The opening of the pass shortens the travel distance to important Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region and was expected to bolster the economy of the region by playing a key role in the growing Sino-Indian trade. However, trade is limited to specific types of goods and to specific days of the week and now it sealed again with China not allowing Manasarovar pilgrims too. To me and my family it was a great experience visiting Nathu La and shaking hands with our soldiers protecting us. 

In our Country, people become military experts in opining on strategies – read this interesting report in Economic Times on Doklam [forgetting your own perspectives]

For some strange reason people in India seem to think that India is somehow on the backfoot in its latest showdown with China over the Dokalam trijunction. Some feel that should the situation continue or deteriorate, ‘strategic defiance’ may be the only option. This, however, is not the impression in Beijing. In private, the Chinese feel that they, rather than India, are caught in a bind, unable to resort to the use of force for fear of destroying the myth of nuclear deterrence, but still supremely confident that strategic defiance by India, on the other hand, will be economically and diplomatically disastrous for India.  

As a dear friend in Beijing summed it up rather rudely, “India is a dog. Whatever we do to you, you will first bark and snarl, but then accept and come back wagging your tail. The problem now is what we can do to you is also very limited.” This raises the question as to why India feels it is losing control of the situation. And second, if this idea that India will somehow finally turn on China is based on reality or plain wishful thinking.

Let us be clear about one thing — far from losing control, this has, in fact, been one of the best managed crises by India’s ministry of external affairs. India’s tone has been persistently calm, not threatening action, but sticking to its guns. And for the first time in decades, it is standing up to Chinese bullying and staring it down. The ‘losing control’ and ‘escalating crisis’ narratives seem to be emerging only from a set of strategic commentators whose window seems to be limited to Xinhua and Global Times, and completely devoid of primary research.

Having toured the area over the last seven days, there seems to be no escalation in troop numbers whatsoever. Landing in Lhasa, one could count about 12-14 Sukhoi family aircraft. And driving past the Shigatse airbase, given the difficulties of observing the tarmac, one could count between three and seven J-10 fighters. The entire Lhasa to Shigatse stretch also showed no signs of increased infantry activity, no spurt in military logistics and only some parade/TV optimised artillery lined up in Lhasa's marshalling yards along the Lhasa-Beijing railway. Clearly then, the only real ‘escalation’ that can happen is unarmed Chinese border troops coming into and squatting in Indian territory, as suggested by the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs earlier this week — a major ‘climb-down’, if one can call it that — from previous threats, which were ominous simply because of the lack of specificity.  

We also have a pattern of similar action across the South China Sea to judge China by. It has resorted to similar ‘sea grabs’ there, depending purely on the fear of the other parties to the dispute to avoid escalating the situation to fatalities. That fear simply doesn’t work with India, for the simple reason that both sides are nuclear-armed. This is particularly important as the situation thus far indicates that while India’s doctrine of deterrence may have failed on the western front (in all fairness, it was never directed against Pakistan), it has had a clear success in the east (where it was directed all along) by putting hard limits on how far China can escalate.

The diplomatic and strategic costs of escalation for China now are severe, even if Indian warheads can’t reach the Chinese eastern seaboard, taking China down several pegs equating it with rogue revisionist states like Pakistan and destroying the image of it being a more or less ‘responsible’ player on the world stage. All indicators then are that short of an extremely serious miscalculation by the Chinese leadership, the situation has plateaued. The only spikes will be verbal, and that too from the Chinese side.

Which also complicates things for the Chinese leadership when it chooses to de-escalate. It, however, seems to have realised its mistake after its first attempt to do so — claiming that India had reduced the number of troops. The furious denial by India caught it off guard with colleagues in Beijing admitting that they had miscalculated, and not factored in how this would be perceived in India domestically.

All up, we seem stuck in limbo. Escalation is not an option for China. But de-escalation also seems impossible, till public attention is shifted elsewhere. On the other hand, it is high time the Indian media also realise what the MEA and PMO seemed to have long back — that Indian strategic defiance is a non-starter.

China’s massive infusion of finished goods, such as mobile phones, are the core drivers of the Indian economy and impossible to substitute. Equally, if we choose to go against China, we might as well kiss goodbye to any chance of UN Security Council and Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) membership. In this situation, Dokalam is a win, an emphatic win, the best possible under the circumstances, marking the first serious Indian (and arguably global) pushback to Chinese salami tactics.

The writer, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra  is senior fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi. Views expressed are personal. Economic Times ~ India winning Doklam

·         PS :  Visitors to Nathu La can buy a Certificate wherein one can post their photos ~ the acclaimed trophy reads :   ''Nations Have no permanent friends and foes. They only have permanent interests. It takes years to build capabilities, intentions can change anytime.''

·         Soon would post one on Harbhajan mandir at Nathu La.

Long live our Nation and long live those Jawans who protect us.  Jai Jawan, Jai Hind.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

15th Aug 2017.

Celebrating 71st Independence Day of Great India

The greatest day for all of us is 15th August ~ Indian Independence Day. Let us celebrate 71st Independence Day of the Nation in a grand manner.  70 years ago, it was on this day [rather night] – the Union Jack faded descended for one last time from the flagstaff of Viceroy’s house at New Delhi marking the symbolic end to imperialism and the awakening of the spirit of free India.

Winston Churchill passionately held the conviction that British rule in India had been just and exercised in India's best interests ! ; that her masses looked on their rulers with gratitude and affection; that the politicians agitating for independence were a petty-minded, half-educated elite, unreflective of the desires or interests of the masses. He contemptuously dismissed those fighting for freedom of India as 'men of straw'.

When the day beckoned,  Louis Mountbatten and his advisers, drawing on those manuals which had ordered all the grandiose manifestations of the Raj, had estimated 3o,ooo people would attend the celebrations. The figure was wrong, not by a few thousand but well over half a million. Never before had anyone ever seen anything remotely like it in India's capital city. 

இந்த உலகில் ‘சத்யம், தர்மம், அழகு, படிப்பு, வீரம், ஒழுக்கம் என்று எல்லா நல்ல குணங்கள் கொண்ட மனிதன் யாரேனும் உண்டா?’ என்று வால்மீகி முனிவர் கேட்க, நாரத பகவான் ‘உண்டு. அவர் தான் இக்ஷ்வாகு வம்சத்தில் வந்த தசரத குமாரர் ஸ்ரீராமர்’ என்று கூறி வால்மீகி முனிவருக்கு ராம சரித்திரத்தை சுருக்கமாக நூறு சுலோகங்களில் உபதேசித்தார். இது வால்மீகி ராமாயணத்தின் முதல் ஸர்கம்.

The great sage Valmiki wanted to know about that man – who is the epitome of all virtues ~ of Truth, Honesty, Beauty, Scholarliness, Valour and discipline ~  Omniscient Sage Narada replies that is *Maryadha purush Sri Rama*  Himself.   ~ and epic Ramayana was born…. The greatest Epic “Sri Ramayana” is a smriti [written from memory as seen and heard].. .. ..  The following phrase is a Sanskrit sloka uttered by Sri Rama Himself…

“Janani Janma-bhoomi-scha Swargadapi Gariyasi"जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी)  

~ it translates to mean “Mother and Motherland are superior to Heaven”.. This part of Valmiki Ramayana - Rama uttering this while addressing  Lakshmana  after their victory over (demon) king Ravana.

अपि स्वर्णमयी लङ्का मे लक्ष्मण रोचते जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी
"Lakshmana, even this golden Lanka does not appeal to me, mother and motherland are greater than heaven." 

Independence was granted by an Act – ‘The Indian Independence Act 1947’ passed by the  Parliament of the United Kingdom that partitioned British India into the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan. The Act received the royal assent on 18 July 1947, and Pakistan came into being on 15 August at the same time as Indian independence. However, due to Mountbatten's need to be in New Delhi for the transfer of power, Pakistan celebrated its formation a day ahead on 14 August 1947 to enable the viceroy Lord Mountbatten to attend both events !  The legislation was formulated by the government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten, after representatives of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, and the Sikh community came to an agreement with the Viceroy of India,  on what has come to be known as the 3 June Plan or Mountbatten Plan.

Independence was not achieved in a day ~ nor through a single enactment. The struggle and sacrifices encompass millions of activities right from 1757 spanning 190 years till 1947. Many names have been forgotten, many did not receive the honours their sacrifices deserve – may be due to doctored history. 

Triranga or the National Flag was first recognized in 1906 in Calcutta Meeting; the next occasion was in 1907 by Madame Cama; in 1917 Lokmanya Bala Gangatara Tilak and Annie Besant hoisted it; in 1931, it was the Tri-colour designed by Pingali Venkayya with Spinning wheel at its middle.

The National flag of India was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, when it became the official flag of the Dominion of India. The  term "tricolour" always refers to the Indian national flag. The flag is based on the Swaraj flag, a flag of the Indian National Congress designed by Pingali Venkayya. The flag, by law, is to be made of khadi, a special type of hand-spun cloth of cotton or silk made popular by Mahatma Gandhi. The manufacturing process and specifications for the flag are laid out by the Bureau of Indian Standards – the length should be 1.5 times more than the width.

Usage of the flag is governed by the Flag Code of India and other laws relating to the national emblems. The original code prohibited use of the flag by private citizens except on national days such as the Independence day and the Republic Day. In 2002, on hearing an appeal from  Naveen Jindal, the Supreme Court of India directed the Government of India to amend the code to allow flag usage by private citizens. Subsequently, the Union Cabinet of India amended the code to allow limited usage.  Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha (KKGSS) is a manufacturing federation located in the Bengeri area of the city of Hubli in the Karnataka, state of India. It is the only unit in India that is authorised to manufacture and supply the Flag of India.  

IN Capital New Delhi,  India Gate is a memorial to 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21 in the First World War, in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and elsewhere in the Near and the Far East, and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. 13,300 servicemen's names, including some soldiers and officers from the United Kingdom, are inscribed on the gate. In 1971, following the Bangladesh Liberation war, a small simple structure, consisting of a black marble plinth, with reversed rifle, capped by war helmet, bounded by four eternal flames, was built beneath the soaring Memorial Archway. This structure, called Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier, since 1971 has served as India's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 Celebrating Indian Independence 
~  it is the time to celebrate the birth of this Great Nation and remember those great men whose martyrdom gave us the fresh air to breathe !!  Jai Hind..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


Sunday, August 13, 2017

records galore ~ as Hardik Pandya makes maiden century at Pallekele

Pawuluge Malinda Pushpakumara ~ the spinner has just played a Test before – he may like to forget playing here at Pallekele today ! There was another Pushpakumara, Ravindra who played for Lanka earlier.

Remember watching Majidkhan in that Pongal Test at Chepuak in 1980 when India won, Kapil was the man of the Match and Sandip Patil made his debut – we were wondering what he would go on to become having watched him make couple of clean hits in the nets.  Sandip did not make much in that Test, Majid was run out for 56 in the 1st innings.  Khan who came at no. 3 had that record behind him ~ a century before lunch – only Victor Trumper, CG Macartney, Donald Bradman, Majid and David Warner have till this date [other than Majid rest are all Aussies]

Have read that Farokh Engineer came agonizingly close at another Madras Test against the West Indies in 1967, nobody expected much from him as a batsman. He had made his Test debut way back in 1961 and in the intervening years he played just 11 Tests — mainly as a tailender. He had scored 3 fifties — including his then highest of 90, all at the No. 9 position. Kunderan who had made runs earlier was dropped for Engineer.  WI had  Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith, arguably West Indies’s greatest fast bowling combine before the advent of Andy Roberts & co. Engineer was on 57 in India’s score of 72 for no loss in 12 overs after the first hour.  He was  94 from India’s total of 125 for no loss at lunch. 

Years later, in 2006 – Virender Sehwag came much closer on a tour that  Sachin Tendulkar had opted out.  The new ball was shared by S Sreesanth and Munaf Patel, with the experience of two Tests apiece. The first Test at St John’s also saw a debutant tearaway called VRV Singh.  The over rate was abysmally slow and Sehwag was stranded at 99 by lunch. Sehwag got his hundred three balls after lunch, and smashed his way to a 190-ball 180.

At Pallekele, Indians are on a roll.  Shikhar Dhawan is scoring centuries at will.    If his 190 in the first Test at Galle was not enough, Dhawan backed it up with another whirlwind innings scoring 119 on day one of the third Test in Kandy. Then there is another, who is blamed for making runs !   KL Rahul, batting on 85, was going great guns before he stepped out to left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara,  ended up giving a catch to mid-on. In terms of momentum, it was the cut-off point for India, as they meandered to 329 for six after that. It was the seventh consecutive half-century for Rahul, and even though he joined the likes of Everton Weekes, Andy Flower, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kumar Sangakkara and Chris Rogers for the most consecutive fifties, the 25-year-old would be a bit sad to find that he and Rogers are the only players to have not converted any of their seven fifties in that sequence into a hundred. Rahul's scores in this streak are 64, 90, 51, 67, 51* versus Australia at home, and 57 against Lanka after his return from illness at the SSC in Colombo.

It was clear that India are not going anywhere near 600 that they had posted in first two tests and when Shami got out, it appeared that 450 was not on radar. It was a different story as Hardik Pandya registered his maiden hundred in first-class cricket taking the total to  487.  Hardik put on 62 with Kuldeep Yadav for the eighth wicket and 66 with Umesh Yadav for the last wicket.

During that epic innings, he hoisted Malinda Pushpakumara for 26 runs  2 fours and 3 sixers eclipsed 24 runs scored by Sandeep Patil off Bob Willis in Manchester in 1982, and by Kapil Dev off Eddie Hemmings at Lord's in 1990. Recall that Sandeep scored 6 fours in a 7 ball over and Kapil struck consecutive 4 sixers taking India out of the danger of follow-on.

Today’s performance of 7 Sixes hit by Hardik is the joint-second most in an innings for India. The record is held by Navjot Sidhu who hit eight against the same opposition in Lucknow in 1994. Sehwag also hit seven against Sri Lanka at Brabourne in 2009 as did Harbhajan Singh against New Zealand in Hyderabad in 2010. These are tempting to compare him with legendary Kapil Dev – style is there and he has to score consistently to make that comparison real.

Today he scored 107 - in the first session of the second day. He became the first India player to score over 100 runs before lunch on any day of a Test. The session, however, was extended by 30 minutes as India were nine-down.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13th Aug 2017.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

protect wild elephants ~ World Elephants day 2017

Elephants have always attracted me.  For ages, temple elephants have been a vital part of temple ceremonies and festivals especially in South India. In Kerala, they have a pride of place – as evidenced by the Pooram festivals or the Punnathur kotta, the place for temple elephants at Guruvayoor. Residents of Triplicane will ever remember the great majestic beautiful tusker named “Azhwar” about whom I have posted in detail earlier.

Elephants have been the central theme of many films : Yanai Pagan, Yanai valartha Vanampadi, Nalla Neram, Ram Lakshman, Annai Oru Alayam, Kumki; more beautifully portrayed in some Malayalam movies like -  Aanachandam, Gajaraja Manthram  and the ultimate  Guruvayur Kesavan … the love of the film industry dates back to 1937 movie ‘Elephant boy’ made   at the London Films studios at Denham, and in Mysore.

Elephants are not exactly happy !  - the illegal trade in animals and their body parts has been going on for decades. Black markets have been brimming with pangolin scales; elephant ivory, tiger skins, rhino horns and exotic pets for years, but more recently, a new fad has been emerging as Asia’s elephants are being poached for their skin. Hidden in the dense forests, Myanmar’s elephants are witnessing a drastic decline as they succumb to this growing, illicit trade. Ranked the fourth largest global illegal trade after drugs, arms and human trafficking, illegal wildlife trade is a sophisticated business with an even more sophisticated distribution network.

On August 12, 2012, the inaugural World Elephant Day was launched to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. The elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world, yet we balance on the brink of seeing the last of this magnificent creature.

The escalation of poaching, habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and mistreatment in captivity are just some of the threats to both African and Asian elephants. Working towards better protection for wild elephants, improving enforcement policies to prevent the illegal poaching and trade of ivory, conserving elephant habitats, better treatment for captive elephants and, when appropriate, reintroducing captive elephants into natural, protected sanctuaries are the goals that numerous elephant conservation organizations are focusing on around the world. World Elephant Day asks you to experience elephants in non-exploitive and sustainable environments where elephants can thrive under care and protection. On World Elephant Day, August 12, express your concern, share your knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike.

This year on World Elephant Day,  a giant ice sculpture will be left to melt in the New York sun to draw attention to the dwindling population of African elephants. It’s part of a global campaign called Don’t Let Them Disappear by South African liquor brand Amarula and conservation group Wildlife Direct to highlight the rate at which African elephants are being poached. A lifelike massive ice sculpture of an African elephant will be on display in union square from 7 am on Saturday and its 85 blocks of ice will be left to melt in the summer sun; a symbol of the animal’s dwindling numbers. According to Wildlife Direct, there are approximately 400,000 left in the world, with one lost every 15 minutes to poachers.

To reinforce the message, bottles of Amarula liqueur will be released for sale without the iconic elephant on the label. The trust will donate $1 for every bottle sold between now and the end of the year to support anti-poaching efforts. As recently expressed by one of Kenya’s foremost supporters of elephants, the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta, only a sustained global effort can save them.

Elephants have lived in coexistence with human beings in Africa for millions of years. They are part of our natural environment our culture, our identity and our heritage. The event in Union Square is intended to highlight the critical role that America and other consuming countries have to play, both by reducing its own ivory consumption and by building pressure for a global ban on ivory trade. On an African level, poachers can only be defeated by adopting a continent-wide approach. Otherwise, when controls are tightened up in one country, poachers will simply relocate to neighbouring countries to continue their gruesome work.

During the current election campaign in Kenya, armed invaders have wreaked havoc in some parts of Laikipia, undoing years of patient wildlife conservation work. Not a single arrest has been made. African elephants are the largest terrestrial animal left on the planet. They live in close-knit families, and develop lasting friendships. They mourn their dead, meet up for reunions, and go to extraordinary lengths to protect other, young and vulnerable elephants from harm. To know elephants is to fall in love with them.

It seems unthinkable that wild elephants should disappear. How can we make sure it doesn’t happen?   I love elephants and this is a post to express solidarity with the groups engaged in protecting the wild elephant.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

12th Aug 2017.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Remembering the martyrdom of the youngest revolutionary - Khudiram Bose

The recent debates after celebrating ‘Quit India movement’ – have brought to fore – what we should be learning in Schools as History and whom we should  rever ? – the freedom at midnight was gotten not free or easily but due to sacrifices of those martyrs who underwent untold sufferings and yet remained without ever getting in the limelight.  The Nation should be learning the lives of such great people.

I am no music aficionado  ~ may be some of you would have heard Lata Mangeshkar singing  the iconic patriotic song “Ekbar biday de Maa, ghure ashi” ("Bid me goodbye Mother") is a Bengali patriotic song written by Pitambar Das -

Mother bid me farewell once, I will be back soon.
Whole of India will watch me While I wear the noose smiling
With me I had a bomb I’d made
Waiting by the roadside O Mother
I went to kill the Governor
But killed some other poor Englander
Had I had a dagger on me
You think they could have caught me?
Would have made a blood bath
And the world would have watched how to fight … .. ….

One would be moved to tears when we understand that this is in memory of the youngest revolutionary of this mother land who was just 18 years 8 months and 8 days old  ~ and he was hanged 109 years ago !

Khudiram Bose was born on 3.12. 1889 in the village of Mohoboni at Keshpur Block in Paschim Midnapore district of West Bengal. In 1902 and 1903, when Sri Aurobindo) and Sister Niveditarespectively visited Medinipur and held a series of public lectures along with secret planning sessions with the revolutionary groups; Khudiram was among the teenage student community of the town which was fired up with a burning inspiration of revolution. It was from then that Khudiram took his first steps towards choosing the path that would make him a boy-martyr. At the young age of sixteen, Bose planted bombs near police stations and targeted government officials. He was arrested three years later on charges of conducting a series of bomb attacks.

In 1908, Bose and Prafulla Chaki were appointed to kill Muzzaffarpur district magistrate Kingsford.  Douglas Kingsford was the Chief Magistrate of the Presidency court of Alipore, and had overseen the trials of Bhupendranath Dutta and other editors of Jugantar, sentencing them to rigorous imprisonment. The defiance of Jugantar saw it face five more prosecutions that left it in financial ruins by 1908. Kingsford also earned notoriety among nationalists when he ordered the whipping of a young Bengali boy by the name of Sushil Sen for participating in the protests that followed the Jugantar trial.   

                   On 30th April 1908, Khudiram threw a bomb at a carriage believed to be carrying Kingsford right outside the European club. But instead of Kingford, the carriage was occupied by the wife and daughter of barrister Pringle Kennedy, a leading pleader.    A bounty of Rs 1,000 was also announced for anyone who could provide any information on Khudiram who walked throughout the night trying to flee, but was arrested in a railway station nearly 25 miles away.

His partner, Prafullka Chaki had split up from Khudiram soon after the attack. On being intercepted by the police, he shot himself dead before he could be put inside a jail. Khudiram was unaware of Prafulla’s death at the time of his trial. Khudiram was eventually hanged to death on 11 August 1908. The morning after, Anandabazar Patrika reported how Bose died ‘cheerful and smiling’. To honour the 18 year old’s death, poet Pitambar Das wrote and composed the popular Bengali song Ek Baar Bidaye De Ma – a song that resonates the passion the young boy had for his motherland. It is also a song that always manages to bring a lump in one’s throat because of its sad, haunting words.

The historical trial started on 21 May 1908. Along with Khudiram, two others were tried for assisting the boys in their mission—Mrityunjay Chakraborty and Kishorimohan Bandopadhyay, who had accommodated Khudiram and Prafulla in his dharmashala for their mission. The first man died during the trial, and subsequently the trail of Sri Kishorimohan was separated from that of Khudiram.  Unlike the case of Vanchinathan, whose family was abandoned, eminent lawyers Kalidas Basu, Upendranath Sen and Kshetranath Bandopadhyay took up Khudiram's defense. They were joined later in the trial by Kulkamal Sen, Nagendra Lal Lahiri and Satischandra Chakraborty—all of them fighting the case without any fees, fighting for their country.

Only during the later part of the trial Kudiram could know the death of his friend.  He smilingly accepted the death sentence for the Nation.  As per the legal system, Kudiram had 7 days time to appeal to the High Court. Khudiram refused to make appeal.  On that day in August, Kolkata erupted in intense protest from the entire student community. The streets of Kolkata started to be choked up with processions all at the same time, for several days. The Amrita Bazar Patrika, one of the prominent dailies of that era, carried the story of the hanging the next day, on 12 August. Under the headline "Khudiram's End: Died cheerful and smiling" the newspaper wrote: "Khudiram's execution took place at 6 a.m. this morning. He walked to the gallows firmly and cheerfully – an  established British newspaper, The Empire, wrote: "Khudiram Bose was executed this morning...It is stated that he mounted the scaffold with his body erect.

Akin to Vanchi Maniyachi, Khudiram Bose Pusa station is a two platform station located in Samastipur district, Bihar, India with zero originating trains. It is 72 kilometres (45 mi) away from Patna Airport and 13 km (8.1 mi) from Samastipur Junction.  A station named after the great martyr, who died so young !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th Aug 2017

Collated from a few sources on web – primarily Wikipedia.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Who is the most popular athlete of IAAF 2017 ? Isaac Makwala to run again in 200 M

Athletics, specifically is not only about Usain Bolt or Mo Farah.  At the  2017 IAAF World Championships, the 16th edition is being held from 4 to 13 August 2017 in London, United Kingdom, there was curiosity – on the track were Fred Kerley, Steven Gardiner, Baboloki Thebe,  Demish Gaye, Wayde Van Niekerk, A Haroun, Nathon Allen – count it again – yes, only 7 and the 8th a famous runner was missing in the 400M event.
Botswana  is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens refer to themselves as Batswana.  Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 percent of its territory being the Kalahari Desert. It is bordered by South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia.  Its  capital and largest city,  is Gaborone.  Botswana is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations.  It is a country badly afflicted by AIDS. 
Now Bolt has quit, the sport is desperate to replace him. Everyone is in a rush to coronate the new king.  Van Niekerk has been on the international circuit for four years. In 2014 he won the silver at the Commonwealth Games in 44.68sec, in 2015 he won the World Championships in 43.48sec and in 2016 he won the Olympics in a world record 43.03sec. The to get the coveted Gold, could scarcely have been more convoluted, but the London World Championships finally will have the showdown everyone wanted - Wayde van Niekerk versus Isaac Makwala in the 200m final.
To describe events of recent days as strange would be a gross understatement. The ‘Makwala Saga’ has seen more twists and turns than a pretzel and it continued apace on Wednesday. It was early afternoon when the International Association of Athletics Federations made the unexpected announcement that all was not lost for Makwala’s medal aspirations.

While England and other Nations when they tour India make a big hue and cry about Delhi belly – UK is not free and Norovirus is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK. Symptoms include diarrhoea and vomiting and it is known as a 'winter bug' but can be caught at any time during the year. It is passed from person to person and is highly contagious, often causing hospital wards to shut. Doctors recommend sufferers drink plenty of water, take paracetamol and stay in bed.  Medics also recommend washing hands thoroughly with soap and using disinfectant on surfaces to prevent the spread of the sickness.
BBC presenter Gabby Logan has been accused of 'bullying' an athletics medical chief following a heated on-air interview about the withdrawal of Botswana runner Isaac Makwala from the World Championships.  Outraged viewers branded Logan 'ignorant' and said she 'should be ashamed' after she 'interrogated' Pam Venning, Head of Medical Services at the IAAF, during coverage of the event from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London last night. Dr Venning was forced to repeatedly defend medics' decision to recommend Makwala, 30, be withdrawn from the competition after he displayed symptoms of norovirus, which has already struck down at least 30 other athletes.
The recommendation led to Makwala, who is a national hero in his country, being denied entry to the stadium on Tuesday night shortly before he had hoped to compete in the 400m finals, despite him saying he felt 'ready to run'.  The good news is that ~ less than 24 hours after the Botswana athlete had been refused entry into the London Stadium when attempting to line up for the 400m final, he was handed a lifeline in the form of a 200m solo time trial.
Regardless of whether he had indeed suffered from the norovirus outbreak that has affected more than 40 athletes and officials at these championships - he maintains that he never did have the disease - his 48-hour quarantine period was over and the IAAF were only too happy to go into damage limitation mode as they looked to end the bad publicity that the episode had brought. So it was that two days after he had vomited on arrival for the 200m heats and been banned from running, Makwala was cheered to the rafters as he lined up all alone in the thundering rain on Wednesday evening.
The task was simple: run a time of 20.53 seconds to improve on the slowest qualifier from the heats and he would advance through to the semi-finals. Coming to London as the fastest man in the world this year, it appeared a simple enough assignment in spite of the conditions and so it proved as he clocked 20.20sec.  Then came the bonus action. Keen to prove a point to those who had stripped him of his 400m dream, Makwala dropped immediately to the track on crossing the finish line, completed a rapid-fire set of push-ups and stood to attention with a salute.

Ushered away by a member of the IAAF communications team, Makwala then had little more than two hours to prepare himself for the next round, for which he was given the tricky task of the tight inside lane - one of two lanes not sheltered from the rain. After everything he had endured over the previous few days those trivialities mattered not a jot as he later admitted he was "running with anger". The smile as he crossed the line was colossal.
Interesting !!
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Aug 2017.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

plight of road accident victims ~ esp when involving Transport Corpn buses

Every road in Chennai [be it every other Metropolis] are clogged with vehicles of various hues – two wheelers, autos, cars, taxis, trucks, buses and other miscellaneous vehicles.  The definition of ‘Motor vehicle’ as per Act is :  Any mechanically propelled vehicle adapted for use upon roads whether the power of propulsion is transmitted from an external or internal source of law

The increased traffic in roads also inversely increases the road accidents – road accident victims can claim for compensation in MACT –every MACT OP is but gory details of the tragic circumstances – human lives are precious and every such accident snatches not only life / or damage to limbs besides bringing untold hardship of financial strain, suddenly making the dependents defend themselves in the cruel World.  The Govt aims to provide some monetary compensation as a recompense - Motor vehicle insurance law in India is governed by the Motor Vehicles Act, Insurance Act and the like. 

Vehicles lined up for Nathu La  at picturesque Gangok

Though people tend to make a general statement that Motor Insurance is mandatory – it is not about insuring the vehicles but having insurance for the vehicle against third parties.  Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is an Act of the Parliament of India which regulates all aspects of road transport vehicles. The Act came into force from 1 July 1989. It replaced Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 which earlier replaced the first such enactment Motor Vehicles Act, 1914. The Act provides in detail the legislative provisions regarding licensing of drivers/conductors, registration of motor vehicles, control of motor vehicles through permits, special provisions relating to state transport undertakings, traffic regulation, insurance, liability, offences and penalties, etc. For exercising the legislative provisions of the Act, the Government of India made the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989.

Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal MACT deals with matters related to compensation of motor accidents victims or their next of kin .The Tribunal deal with claims relating to loss of life/property and injury cases resulting from Motor Accidents. The value of the awards are increasing and Insurers often complain that the portfolio is increasingly bad.  Recently, MACT, Mohali  has awarded a compensation of more than Rs 7 crore to the family of an NRI who died while travelling in a private bus which fell into the SYL canal near Rajpura in October 2009 after the driver lost control of the vehicle. It was reported that the deceased was earning US$ 95000 per annum and the Tribunal concluded that the driver, owner of the vehicle and its Insurer are jointly and severally liable.  In effect it is the Insurance Company [a private Insurer in this case] who has to pay the huge compensation [and think of the premium that would have been paid for this vehicle !!]  The Court fixed compensation of 5.56 crores and then there is interest of 6% from the date of filing the claim to the date of satisfaction of the award.

Is there any other angle – other than the victim’s hardship and the Insurer’s mounting losses ?  ~  now read this newsitem in Times of India, Chennai edition titled :  ‘ TN loses Rs 4L a day as 520 buses lie idle, unable to pay accident relief’. 

Nearly 520 buses owned by state transport corporations (STCs) are lying idle at different locations, as they have all been impounded by courts for having failed to pay compensation to road accident victims. This has resulted in an operational loss of `4 lakh a day for the corporations. In the past six years since 2010, more than 40,000 road accidents involving state-owned buses were reported in TN, killing a total of 9,971people.

Due to court orders on motor accident claims proceedings, the transport managements owed `200 crore to relatives of road accident victims, according to government records accessed by TOI. Additional chief secretary to government PWC Davidar said they had paid `90.55 crore to transport managements, out of the total pending `292 crore. Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, additional chief secretary to government PWC Davidar said they had paid `90.55 crore to transport managements, out of the total pending amount of `292 crore. Government was in the process of clearing the remaining dues soon, he added.

Interestingly, none of the 22,000 odd buses owned by STUs (except AC buses) have insurance policy to cover third party risks, said accident cases specialist and advocate V S Suresh.  “Karnataka has proper insurance for all its state-run buses,“ he said, adding that at least sums ranging from `5 to 10 could be collected from passengers using long distance services, just as some private buses do. An investigating officer (accident claim section) with government-owned United India Insurance Company Limited, however, said paying the annual premium of `30,000-40,000 could be a challenge to cash-strapped STUs in Tamil Nadu. Also, accident claims would be released by insurance firms only if norms pertaining to seating capacity are met. “In most cases, state-owned buses are found overloaded at the time of the accident.“

The buses impounded by courts for defaulting payment of compensation were initially parked in the respective court premises. “As spare parts of these vehicles were stolen during the nights, the vehicles were later shifted to nearby STU depots where they are now rotting,“ said K Arumugam Nainar of the CITU. “The state government has not been able to meet the increase in passenger demand, as they have not added augment the number of new buses. Under the circumstances, buses getting impounded have worsened the situation,“ said K Anbazhgan of Nethaji Transport Union. Transport managements, including Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC), have begun to stop services on routes where the daily ticket collection was rated low, he said.

The plight of relatives of accident victims too keeps mounting every passing year. Besides running from pillar to post, they are made to fight legal battles at their own expenses to win a compensation they deserve. Wins in initial rounds of litigations do not guarantee any compensation immediately . “Local authorities invariably go for an appeal in case of death claims,“ said advocate Suresh, adding that it was a ploy to avoid or at least delay payment of compensation to victims or their kin. A TNSTC (Villupuram) official said they had powers to release only up to `5 lakhs, and that if compensation package was more than this sum they had to get the Board nod, comprising higher officials from multiple government agencies. In order to overcome this hiccup, the state government setup a corpus fund for speedy and out-of-court settlements. Accordingly,  `70 crore was released for years 2010-17. But, since the incidence of road accidents involving state-run buses are very high, the fund sanctioned by the state transport department would never be sufficient, say experts.

At one stage, a total of 4,771 buses in the state were lying impounded due to non-settlement of dues, prompting the comptroller of auditor-general (CAG) to submit a damning report last year.   Sad state of affairs indeed !!!

Section 146 in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 deals with the ‘Necessity for insurance against third party risk’. —
(1) No person shall use, except as a passenger, or cause or allow any other person to use, a motor vehicle in a public place, unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that person or that other person, as the case may be, a policy of insurance complying with the requirements of this Chapter: 26 [Provided that in the case of a vehicle carrying, or meant to carry, dangerous or hazardous goods, there shall also be a policy of insurance under the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 (6 of 1991).]
(2) Sub-section (1) shall not apply to any vehicle owned by the Central Government or a State Government and used for Government purposes unconnected with any commercial enterprise.
(3) The appropriate Government may, by order, exempt from the operation of sub-section (1) any vehicle owned by any of the following authorities, namely:—
(a) the Central Government or a State Government, if the vehicle is used for Government purposes connected with any commercial enterprise;
(b) any local authority;
(c) any State transport undertaking:
Provided that no such order shall be made in relation to any such authority unless a fund has been established and is maintained by that authority in accordance with the rules made in that behalf under this Act for meeting any liability arising out of the use of any vehicle of that authority which that authority or any person in its employment may incur to third parties.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th Aug 2017.