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Monday, November 20, 2017

Madras High Court out of bounds for a day ! locked !!!

By Court Order, premises could be sealed ~ can you ever imagine, Court Premises getting locked and not transacting any business ! ~ strange things do happen ..

Every time one passes by, one is awe-struck by this magnificent edifice !  ~  it is the  brick mortar in red of the Madras High Court.   The  court is one of the three High Courts in India established in the three Presidency Towns of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras by Letters patent granted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, bearing date 26 June 1862. It exercises original jurisdiction over the city of Chennai and appellate jurisdiction over the entire state of Tamil Nadu and Union territory of Puducherry.   Even before that, Governor Strynsham Master felt that the Choultry Court was inadequate to deal with the subjects and hence, he established the first Court of Judicature at Madras and the first trial by Jury was held on 16.04.1678.

Recently, in 2017, for the  first time in the 135-year history of the Madras high court, the prestigious first bench has become an all-woman bench. Headed by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, it has Justice Bhavani Subbaroyan, who was sworn in on Wednesday , as junior judge. Justice Indira Banerjee herself is the only second woman chief justice of the high court -the first one being Justice Kanta Kumari Bhatnagar, who held the post for more than five months from June 1992. Sir Thiruvarur Muthuswamy Iyer KCIE (1832 –1895), a native lawyer  became the first native Indian to be appointed as judge of the Madras High Court in 1877.  He acted as Chief Justice for 3 months in 1893.  Iyer was acclaimed for his sharp intellect, memory and legal expertise.

The eye-capturing building of the High Court is  an exquisite example of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture,  built in 1892 with the design prepared by J.W. Brassington and later under the guidance of the famed architect Henry Irwin, who completed it with the assistance of J.H. Stephens. Though Madras has not seen many wars and not certainly the World Wars – the High Court building was damaged in the shelling of Madras by S.M.S. Emden on 22 September 1914, at the beginning of the First World War. It remains one of the very few Indian buildings to have been damaged by a German attack.

The painted ceilings and the stained glass doors are masterpieces in themselves. The minars are quite attractive – they once housed the lighthouse of the city, which is decrepit now.  According to some reports, the lighthouse used kerosene to produce light with an intensity equivalent to that emitted by about 18,000 candles  ~ and perhaps that was one of the  reasons for attracting the attention of the German warship SMS Emden.   The Department of Posts has allotted a Postal Index Number (PIN) code of 600 104 to the zone occupied by the Madras High Court. The boundaries of the High Court complex are marked by  namely, Prakasam Road (formerly Broadway), NSC Bose Road  and Rajaji Road (the old North Beach Road)

Of the many statues, the decade old statue is apt symbolism – it is the majestic one of  Chozha, King Manuneethi Chozhan known to have ruled in the third century BC. This Tamil king is considered the embodiment of justice himself. Legend has it that he crushed his son under the wheels of the royal chariot just as his heir apparent had run over a calf !  Arising out of that deed of executing his own son, when the cow moved the kingdom bell, he became ‘Manuneethi Chozha’.  

Every year in Nov this strange ritual happens – last year it was on 28.11.2016 and this year it was on 19.11.2017 ::  Madras high court was locked for 24 hours from 8pm on Saturday to 8pm on Sunday. Heavy locks and chains made sure that no one — judges, advocates or litigants — were allowed to enter the premises  !  - what Court premises locked out ?

Photo credit : The Hindu Tamil.
No, justice was not locked out. The court was closed in keeping with a pre-British era tradition, one that requires the high court premises to be locked for 24 hours each year. Senior lawyers said the land for the construction of the court was acquired from a private person — whose name is lost with hoary antiquity — in the 1800s. Though the land was initially taken on lease, the ownership deed was later transferred to Lord Permual Temple on Parry's Corner. To ensure that no individual or entity claims ownership of the edifice, the court's administrators lock the court premises, hand over its keys to the chief priest of the temple and renew the lease agreement on one day each year.

The State Government continues to protect the building and site from bogus ownership claims while maintaining its status as a public property/pathway. In sync with the old tradition, the court's registry locks up the premises every last Sunday of November after putting up notices on its six gates that it would reopen on Monday. The current high court building moved to its brand new quarters from an edifice near Beach Station on July 12, 1892. Sir Arthur Collins, chief justice at the time, formally received permission to start proceedings in the new building from Madras Presidency governor Beilby Lawley, 3rd Baron Wenlock.

~ .. .. .. strange it may sound that the Court was locked and remained out of reach – closed, yet,  neither delay nor denial of justice to those who seek it in its corridors.

Sir Thomas Andrew Lumisden Strange (1756 – 1841) Chief Justice  in Nova Scotia, known for waging "judicial war" to free Black Nova Scotian slaves from their owners,  became the first Chief Justice of the erstwhile Supreme Court of Madras (which has since become the High Court of Madras) and in that capacity was also the first Chief Justice of the Madras Presidency, British India from 1801 to 1817.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Nov. 2017.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Moody upgrade India rating; Red attack Tom Moody FB

At Kolkata, Openers KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan capitalised on vastly improved batting conditions, to lead India's recovery on the fourth day in Kolkata; Dhawan missed a century.  Earlier,  Rangana Herath's third Test fifty too the lead to 122.. .. remember that Reliance World Cup match in Oct 1987  at Chepauk between India and Australia, 2 players debuted – one who was earlier dubbed as strokeless wonder hit 5 sixers – Navjot Sidhu and shared a partnership with Srikkanth who too made a 70. For Australia Tom Moody debuted and did little of note.  He went on to play 8 tests and 76 one dayers.  The man in news,  Thomas Masson Moody coached Sri Lanka, IPL team  Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rangpur Riders, Multan Sultans and applied for the head coach position in Indian team too. 

At 202 for 2 – 70 to be scored  with about 15 overs to go, India looked set to start their defence of the title with a win ~ but Aussies under Alan Border had different plans.  Steve Waugh started the final over with 8 to be scored, Manoj Prabhakar ran himself out and it boiled to 2 off the last with Maninder, the hero of that tied test on strike.  Steve Waugh cleaned Maninder and the big Moody ran towards Steve celebrating.

The good news for India is : Moody’s Investors Service has raised India’s sovereign rating for the first time since 2004, overlooking a haze of short-term economic uncertainties to bet on the nation’s prospects from a raft of policy changes by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Rupee, bonds and stocks rallied after the ratings firm upgraded India to Baa2 from Baa3 and said reforms being pushed through by Modi’s government will help stabilize rising levels of debt. That’s a one-level shift from the lowest investment-grade ranking and puts India in line with the Philippines and Italy. While government officials hailed the move as long overdue, some investors termed it a surprise given that India recently surrendered its status as the world’s fastest-growing major economy amid sweeping policy change. The upgrade is a major win  for the ruling party.  The upgrade "reflects willingness of Moody’s to look beyond the transitory disruptive effects of difficult reforms," said a  senior economist.

Sri Narendra Modiji is a game changer and is always on positive news and here is he seen with the  Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian in New Delhi on November 17, 2017.  The Govt naturally is celebrating the upgrade of India’s sovereign credit rating by Moody’s Investors Service. The new rating places India at Baa2, up a notch from Baa3. The outlook has also been raised from positive to stable, while other ratings including the one for short-term local currency have seen an upgrade by a notch each. India’s last upgrade by Moody’s was 13 years ago in 2004. According to the IMF, India’s economy is expected to grow at 7.4 per cent in 2018, up from an estimated 6.7 per cent in 2017. The timely and smooth implementation of landmark reforms such as the GST and IBC as well as decisive action to resolve the non-performing asset (NPA) challenge in public sector banks are crucial for India to realise its potential real GDP growth of 8-10 per cent.  The IMF projects India to overtake Germany in 2022 as the world’s fourth-largest economy,  displacing the UK from the top five.

Moody's Investors Service, often referred to as Moody's, is the bond credit rating business of Moody's Corporation, representing the company's traditional line of business and its historical name. Moody's Investors Service provides international financial research on bonds issued by commercial and government entities. Moody's, along with Standard & Poor's and Fitch Group, is considered one of the Big Three credit rating agencies. The company ranks the creditworthiness of borrowers using a standardized ratings scale which measures expected investor loss in the event of default.  Moody's was founded by John Moody in 1909 to produce manuals of statistics related to stocks and bonds and bond ratings. In 1975, the company was identified as a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (NRSRO) by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Often touted as the most literate State, Kerala Red showed their ugly face again.  When Moody’s Investors Service, the international rating agency, on Friday upgraded India’s sovereign rating after 13 long years from Baa3 to Baa2, it triggered  a war of words on former Australian cricketer Tom Moody’s Facebook page. After all, what could possibly be the connection between Moodys and Tom Moody except…..the name?  And yes, that’s exactly what triggered an online war of words, which is still continuing.  

Immediately after news broke out regarding the improved credit rating Moody's has accorded to India, hard-core CPM activists hell bent on promoting the party ideology  started showering criticism against the cricketer on his Facebook page wall. The comrades, most of them in their prime youth bluntly told Tom Moody that he should be ashamed of himself for giving an improved rating to the Indian economy under the Modi government. Some of them even dared Moody to visit Kerala. While one Comrade said Moody would fail in his mission as even Israel's secret agency Mosad could not inflict even a minor injury to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. However, there were some other comments which tried to expose the communists, but such seemingly mild criticism failed to deter the comrades from understanding their blunder attack against Tom Moody.

According to one comment, Moody gave such positive report after taking commission from Modi. Some Malayali Facebook users who understood the drama were also seen tendering apology to Tom Moody for the bizarre criticism against him. Apparently, it was only on October 4 that Moody had his last post, saying thanks for all those wished him birthday wishes.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Nov. 2017.

substitution on filed ! ~ fake fielding and more !!

The 1st Test at Eden Gardens hangs on a delicate balance.  India struggling to recover from that awful start of top order failure, some respectability restored by late order and tail enders but Srilanka gaining a handsome lead – has left Indians fighting hard. Lot interesting things happening on the field at Kolkata !!

Remember, that early morning on 12th Jan 1978 as we anxiously listened to the radio – Aussies were reeling under – but whether they could avoid the follow-on ?  -  Peter Toohey 82 pulled Karsan Ghavri and a sprinting Madan lal took a good catch to make it 2-2; Aussies defeated by an innings and 2 runs at Sydney.  Those were the days when substitutes cannot stand in close-in and specialist positions and a commentator remarked that way, Madan lal should not be allowed anywhere in the field as substitute !!

Substitutes are nothing new ! ~ it would be proud moment for us to enter the field in any cricket match, at any level, carrying water, replacing a fielder or having a specific errand – appearance matters !! ~ in Nov 1983, at Ahmedabad, Gursharan Singh, a promising talent, but played only one match,  took four catches as a substitute, three of them off Kapil Dev in the second innings.  CRicinfo stats reveals that the  first substitute catch in a Test match was taken by a member of the opposing side… and the captain, to boot! When WG Grace injured a finger in the first Test ever played at Lord's, in 1884, the fielder who came out to replace him was the Australian skipper, Billy Murdoch. He was soon in action, when Australia's top scorer, "Tup" Scott, offered a catch off the legspin of AG Steel. Murdoch held on, and his side were all out.

This morning, Srilankans slumped to 201/7 when Dinesh Chandimal got out – but a fifty by HMRKB Hearth took them to 294.  Rangana Herath's third Test fifty propped up Sri Lanka's lead to 122 before the visitors were bowled out for 294 on the fourth afternoon at the Eden Gardens. Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took 4 apiece; with Umesh Yadav also taking two wickets, this was the third time India's seamers took all ten wickets in a Test innings at home, and the first since 1983-84.

Dilruwan Perera, the Sri Lanka allrounder, survived an lbw decision after an unusual route to taking the assistance of the Decision Review System (DRS). At the time of the incident, Dilruwan was batting on 0 off 7 balls. He apparently turned and started back when the  Umpire gave him out but had some assistance from the dressing room (which was on his view as he turned back).  The non-striker Rangana Herath offered no opinion on the review !!

DRS protocol says that the  captain may consult the bowler and other fielders, and the two batsmen may consult with each other prior to deciding whether to request a Player Review. Under no circumstances is any player permitted to query an umpire about any aspect of a decision before deciding on whether or not to request a Player Review. If the on-field umpires believe that the captain or either batsman has received direct or indirect input emanating other than from the players on the field, then they may at their discretion decline the request for a Player Review.

It was in the 57th  over of Sri Lanka's innings, Nigel Llong upheld an lbw appeal from Mohammed Shami when an indipper beat Dilruwan's forward defensive and hit him on the back pad. Dilruwan turned around and began walking back,  then asked fro a review Llong had to change his decision.  In the Bengaluru Test earlier this year, umpires stopped Steven Smith from reviewing an lbw decision against him after he was seen seeking advice from the Australian dressing room.

Earlier there was ‘fake fielding’ too.  On Saturday,  fourth ball of the 53rd over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar pushed one through covers, cover fielder Dinesh Chandimal, put in a slide even when the ball was nowhere near him, tried to pose a throw in but checked himself. According to the new ICC rules, this is fake fielding. However, on-field umpires – Nigel Llong &  Joel Wilson decided against handing a penalty. This left an animated Indian skipper Virat Kohli visibly unimpressed as he gestured towards the cameras for a penalty of five runs.  According to the lawmakers of the game this action is against the spirit of cricket. MCC’s new Law 41.5 states that “It is unfair for any fielder willfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball.”

As you may  have observed the Umpires for this match are : Richard Kettleborough  and Nigel Llong; with  Joel Wilson as TV Umpire. .. .. .. and there came the substitution .. . Down with a throat infection, on-field umpire Richard Kettleborough pulled out of day three's play on Saturday. Kettleborough was replaced by West Indies' Joel Wilson, who accompanied Nigel Long to start the day's proceedings as India resumed on 74/5 at Eden Gardens.   Fourth umpire Anil Chaudhary became the TV umpire while Cricket Association of Bengal's Binod Thakur was inducted on board.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

19th Nov. 2017.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

when WI allrounder Marlon Samuels won defamation against Geoff Lawson

He bowled fast creating doubts and fears in the minds of batsman. In all he took 180 test wickets and 88 ODI scalps.  At a young age, Lawson had problems with tunnel vision. He also had to endure blind spots and red mist; he later became a qualified Optometrist, though we know him better as a fast bowler and a coach later.

During Asia Cup 2008,  Journalists stormed out of Geoff Lawson's press conference as tempers frayed after Pakistan's 64-run loss to Sri Lanka, which pushed the hosts to the brink of elimination.  

A visibly irate Lawson, Pakistan's coach, attended in place of captain Shoaib Malik and immediately set down some ground rules. "Couple of rules before we start. Don't make statements, ask questions. If someone asks a question twice, I won't answer it. Make questions sensible, otherwise I won't answer it."  Shortly thereafter, he was  sacked as the Pakistan coach and said that he  was better off than other officials working with the Pakistan board since he was paid out and got a decent exit.

Remember very well that famous 175 n.o. by the great Kapil Dev, retrieving the team from 17/5 against Zimbabwe.  Earlier on 9th   June 1983 In their very first one-day international, Zimbabwe announced their arrival with one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history, beating Australia by 13 runs at Trent Bridge. Brief scorecard reads :   Zimbabwe 239 for 6 (Fletcher 69*, Butchart 34*) beat Australia 226 for 7 (Wessels 76, Marsh 50*; Fletcher 4-42) by 13 runs.. Zimbabweans had played with ease the renowned Australian pace attack of Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson,  Geoff Lawson and Rod Hogg.

A couple of years back,  WI Cricketer – all rounder, Marlon Samuels filed a defamation case against Geoff Lawson for ‘erroneous, malicious and unjustifiable comments’ that the former Australian fast bowler had made about the West Indies batsman accusing him of being ‘tied up with gangs in Jamaica’ during a radio show in April this year. According to Samuels’ statement, the defamatory comments were made by Lawson in a radio podcast, ‘Big Sports Breakfast’ on April 4, a day after the Jamaican had led his team to their second World T20 triumph in Kolkata.

“He’s tied up with some shady people back in the West Indies….he’s a guy you don’t muck around with on or off the field. He’s from Kingston, Jamaica, it’s one of the murder capitals of the world…he’s tied up with gangs there, it goes well beyond cricket,” Lawson is quoted as having told the radio podcast in the statement.

The law suit also includes journalist James Matthey, who published a news story on the website, accusing Samuels of ‘being involved with criminal gangs in Jamaica’. The statement states that both the website and Big Sports Breakfast were  sued for defamation for publishing and airing the comments.

There were also stories  on the  strong comments that Samuels had made against Shane Warne following his second man-of-the-final winning World T20 performance in response to a few extremely critical remarks that the Australian spin legend had passed about the West Indian.  Samuels’ statement stated that he found the comments not just defamatory but also deeply offensive and damaging to his character.

An year or so later, Marlon was successful – the award came forcing Lawson to tender   a full apology and undisclosed "substantial damages".  Samuels instructed his lawyers Richard Owen-Thomas and Suzette A Thompson in London after defamatory comments were made about him on the Big Sports Breakfast radio programme.   London based barrister Thompson in a release said "These comments were published and aired without proper journalist research, nor was Samuels contacted to give his views on the damaging remarks about his character.  We are delighted that Lawson and the Big Sports Breakfast radio have now settled and are issuing a full apology and agreed to pay substantial damages to Marlon".

Samuels said: "Through this case, my intention was not only to defend my integrity and image as an international cricketer, but also the values I have defended all my career.   “I also wish to avoid any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence or foundation and to go unpunished."

Interesting to say the least !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Nov. 2017.

Japanese Railways apologises for not keeping time !!!

Last week, provided me an opportunity to traverse close to 1500 km in 2 days – in 4 different trains and I thoroughly enjoyed the journeys, though one part was day travel.  For  Indian Railway fan, this train ‘Antyodaya Express’ should provide added attraction for they  are completely Unreserved/General coaches and of the few to be introduced, two are to run in Tamil Nadu.  One from Tambaram to Tirunelveli via Chengalpattu, Vilupuram, Mayavaram,  Thanjavur, Dindigul, Madurai and another from Tambaram to Shenkottah.  These overnight trains would cater to those who are now shelling out heavily to bus services.  Antyodaya, means uplifting of the weakest section of the society  ! ~ and I read that it is yet to be introduced.

It is easy or a fad to criticize Indian Railways stating they run late.. .. a recent report attributed far newer reason that adverse competitions among different railway zones to  beat others on best on-time performance are leading to delay in services! – it is stated that trains are kept waiting for green signals at interchanging point between two railway zones and divisions. 

Miles away, passengers on a local train in Gifu prefecture, Japan were pleasantly welcomed by meowing companions in Sept this year,  at an event hosted by a local train operator and an NGO hoping to bring awareness to the culling of stray cats. About thirty cats roamed freely on a moving train, where some passengers mingled with the felines while others enjoyed lunch boxes and tea. The event, hosted by Yoro Railway Co Ltd and Kitten Cafe Sanctuary, was held to bring awareness to the culling of cats. Although the number of cats admitted to shelters and culled has dropped significant over recent years, some are aiming for no culling of cats at all.

Japan is different and so also their trains !!  ~  on Nov 14,  at approximately 9:44 a.m., a northbound Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company train left Minami Nagareyama Station roughly 20 seconds earlier than the time indicated on the timetable. .. .. .. and the Rail company apologized for the same !

Management on the Tsukuba Express line between Tokyo and the city of Tsukuba said that they  "sincerely apologise for the inconvenience" caused. In a statement, the company said the train had been scheduled to leave at 9:44:40 local time but left at 9:44:20. The mistake happened because staff had not checked the timetable, the company statement said. It added that no customers had complained about the early departure from Minami Nagareyama Station, which is just north of Tokyo.

Japanese trains are awesome for a number of reasons, not the least of which is how amazingly punctual they are. So a train not sticking to timetable naturally makes news, though it is not so natural that it left 20 secs early and the Company apologized for the mistake.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Nov. 2017.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Grace Mugabe falls into disgrace !!

It is not ‘Crocodile tears’ but true tears of the crocodile .. .. ..  media reports confirm that Zimbabwe's military has placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest in the capital Harare.  Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, is being confined to his house by soldiers who surrounded his official and private residences, as well as other government buildings.  BBC reports that  Grace Mugabe, who was being positioned to eventually take over from her husband, has left Zimbabwe for Namibia.  The sacked vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was reported to have returned to Zimbabwe on Wednesday morning 15th Nov 2017  from South Africa, where he fled after being stripped of his office.           The president of neighbouring South Africa, Jacob Zuma, however said he had spoken to Mugabe, who was “fine” and that he was sending special envoys to meet both Zimbabwe’s president and its senior army officers.

Mr Mugabe, 93, has dominated the country's political scene since it gained independence from the UK in 1980. With tanks on the streets of Zimbabwe and enemies at the gates of his plush mansion, perhaps the globe is  witnessing the end of Robert Mugabe’s remarkable and blood-stained rule over Zimbabwe?  After 37 years running the nation, the old despot’s vice-like grip on the shattered ‘breadbasket of Africa’ has weakened, the like cause – his  loathed second wife, Grace.

Western media confirms that the  man who has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years looks deposed after a shock coup was orchestrated by the vice president he sacked last week.  Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924 at a Catholic mission village near Southern Rhodesia's capital city, Salisbury. His father, Gabriel Matibiri, was a carpenter and his mother, Bona, was a religious teacher.  He qualified as a teacher at the age of 17, later studying at Fort Hare University in South Africa, where he met many of southern Africa's future black nationalist leaders. It was during this period that Mugabe was introduced to Marxism by South African communists. He later embraced Marxist doctrine, but claimed that his biggest influence was Mohandas Gandhi because of his behaviour during the Indian struggle for independence.

When he returned to Southern Rhodesia in 1952, he was 'completely hostile' to European imperialism. He headed to Ghana to teach in 1958, where he was influenced by president Kwame Nkrumah. Mugabe claimed tat  went to the country as an 'adventurist' because he wanted to see what an independent African state looked like (Ghana was the first nation in the continent to win freedom from a European power).   In 1980, he was elected Prime minister after independence elections; in the military actions in 1982 the Govt was accused of killing thousands of civilians.  In 1987, the amended the constitution and became the President.  In 2000, Zimbabwe witness turmoil and ugly scenes of land seizures owned by the While.   In 2008, Mugabe and opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirayi agreed to share power after contested election; Britain's Queen Elizabeth II annuled Mugabe's honorary knighthood.  The elections were set to be held in 2018.  Early this month, Mugabe fired deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, appearing to position first lady Grace Mugabe for vice president post.

In his early days, Mugabe  repeatedly called for violence against white people in Rhodesia, lashing out at them in racist rants as being 'blood-sucking exploiters' and 'sadistic killers'.  The freedom had been possible due to violent insurgency and economic sanctions forcing  the Rhodesian government to the negotiating table. Mugabe took control of one wing in the guerrilla war for independence - the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and its armed forces - after his release from prison in 1974.  His partner in the armed struggle - the leader of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), Joshua Nkomo - was one of the early casualties of Mugabe's crackdown on dissent.

His second wife, Grace, the  First Lady has been viewed as a front-runner to succeed her husband after decades of his vice-like grip on power. But now has ran away to Namibia.  The man, Mugabe, aged 93, once heralded as liberator is seen differently by his own people.  In the final decades of his rule, Mugabe - one of the world's most recognisable leaders with his thin stripe of moustache and thick-rimmed spectacles - has embraced his new role as the antagonist of the West.

The man believed to be behind the coup in Zimbabwe is the country's recently sacked vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa - also known as 'The Crocodile'. Mnangagwa, 75, is a notorious and much-feared figure in Zimbabwe, having led a vicious crackdown on opponents in the 1980s with the help of the dreaded North Korean-trained Fifth Army brigade. Thousands of civilians were killed during the Gukurahundi campaign, but Mnangagwa has always denied involvement. His reputation for cruelty is so legendary that he was one of the few leaders of Zimbabwe known to drive around the country without security.

With Zimbabwe in turmoil, it perhaps is from one tyrant to another !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Nov. 2017.

PS :  Remember very well that famous 175 n.o. by the great Kapil Dev, retrieving the team from 17/5 against Zimbabwe.  Earlier on 9th  June 1983 In their very first one-day international, Zimbabwe announced their arrival with one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history, beating Australia by 13 runs at Trent Bridge. Brief scorecard reads :   Zimbabwe 239 for 6 (Fletcher 69*, Butchart 34*) beat Australia 226 for 7 (Wessels 76, Marsh 50*; Fletcher 4-42) by 13 runs.. Zimbabweans had played with ease the renowned Australian pace attack of Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson,  Geoff Lawson and Rod Hogg. 

utterly delicious 'khajas' of Kakinada !!

Ponugupati Kotiah  along with his son Venkata Apayya, moved to Kakinada from Repalle village in Tenali, Guntur district, in 1900 and started a sweet shop named Kotiah Sweets in the main market.” An erstwhile farmer, he came to this town and literally found his pot of gold — sweet gold. I lived in Kakinada for 6 years and recently had happiness of visiting the place again.  The  district headquarters of East Godavari was a very calm and pleasant place as observed by in 1990s.  Those days, there was the Main road, Cinema road and another parallel road – now found that the city has changed a lot.  In earlier days, the village called Kakinandivada was a Dutch settlement. Some would say that it was known for coconut products and hence Cocanada. 

Train journey is most enjoyable as one can spend time leisurely eating the choicest delicacies and look through the window the different culture, fields, people and everything as the train chughs past different areas.  Interestingly, Indian Trains have Names besides the Numbers. As you would know, Trains now have 5 digit numbers – earlier they were 4 digits.  I have travelled so many times in this particular train no. 7043 [Chennai Central to Kakinada] – now it is 17643 [Chengalpattu Junction via Egmore – Vijayawada to Kakinada].  Kakinada is also known as  ‘Pensioner’s paradise’ and old timers were happy in calling it ‘Second Madras’.  Kakinada in fact is a planned, neat peaceful city.  There are several edible oil refineries and the Port has become busy now a days.

The word ‘Circar’ – noun would mean a District or part of a Province. This is a common word to old timers as there was the ‘Northern Circar’  - which was a former division of British India's Madras Presidency, which consisted of a narrow slip of territory lying along the western side of the Bay of Bengal in the present-day states of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Circar region mainly corresponding to Coastal Andhra and comprised some of the modern day places in the districts of Krishna, Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Guntur and some in Orissa. In 1765 Robert  Clive obtained from the Mughal emperor Shah Alam a grant of the five Circars. Thus over the years the possession of these places and the geographical pattern kept changing.  

After West Bengal was awarded with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for ‘Banglar Rasogolla’ (Bengal Rasogolla) on 14.11.2017,  the Odisha government announced a few hours later that it was “in process” of obtaining the same for ‘Odishara Rasagolla.’  It originated in Odisha and is offered at Jagannath Temple as part of religious rituals by people of Odisha since the 12th  century,” Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night. A GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation related  to that origin.  If rosogolla gets GI, can Khaja be far behind ??

Kakinada khaja (కాకినాడ కాజా) is a sweet delicacy of Andhra, specifically  Kakinada. Some attribute that khaja is Arabic meaning pure or sacred.  Whatever be its origin, there is no denial that it a ghee rich, succulent, melting delicacy made of fine-grounded wheat flour, sugar, ghee / edible oil.  Very very tasty !!  ~ the paste made of wheat flour is deep fried till crispy; soaked in sugar syrup as they absorb the watery sweet syrup.  There are atleast two well know variants – the madatha khajas looking small tapes, of Tapeshwaram and the gottam khajas of Kakinada, that are dry outside, but full of syrup inside, melting and leaving one satiated for a long time. 
 Tapeshwaram khajalu

The only complaint perhaps is its shelf life ~ as  maida becomes soggy and sugar syrup solidifies, the shelf-life of the gottam khaja is restricted to five days, making it difficult to be stored outside.  Those days, khajas made and ready for sales in the evening would be emptied in few minutes of their arrival !! ~ here are some photos of Kotiah Khaja shop in Main road Kakinada.  While those days, there was only one Kotiah Sweet, now they are found in few places – not sure whether it is family spread or competition.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

15th Nov. 2017.

Google doodle on the first woman lawyer

It is a story of a life of cliff-hangers.  She never knew whether it was going to be triumph or failure next, and indeed, this continued for the whole of her life.  This story of cliff-hangers is set against the background of huge movements which were going on in India.  I am not pretending to be a historian who can explain what was going on in India, but I have to be conscious of the background all the time.  ~ excerpts from a lecture delivered at Gresham in 2012. 

Gresham College is an institution of higher learning located at Barnard's Inn Hall off Holborn in central London, England. Founded in 1597 under the will of Sir Thomas Gresham, and it hosts over 140 free public lectures every year. Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange, left his estate jointly to the City of London Corporation and to the Mercers' Company, which today support the college through the Joint Grand Gresham Committee under the presidency of the Lord Mayor of London.  The early success of the College led to the incorporation of the Royal Society in 1663, which pursued its activities at the College in Bishopsgate before moving to its own premises in Crane Court in 1710.

Getting back to the subject matter of that lecture Richard Sorabji threw new light on the life of the extraordinary woman who was his aunt as well as India's first woman lawyer.  With the special insight and knowledge he possesses as Cornelia's nephew, and through scrupulous research in her unpublished papers, he tried explaining  involvement with Katherine Mayo, her disagreements with Gandhi, her disappointments in her career and other crucial aspects of her life. 

Today Google has honoured her with a doodle in what would be her 151st birthday ! – some interesting news collated from various sites posted here. Google's doodle depicts Ms Sorabji in front of the high court to which she was eventually admitted.

Cornelia Sorabji seen as India’s first female barrister, was never technically called to the English Bar. She studied for a law degree at Somerville College, Oxford, (1889-93), the first woman to sit the law exams in the country. Despite standing first in university examinations at the Deccan College, Sorabji had difficulty in becoming eligible.   When Sorabji first arrived in England she stayed with Elizabeth Adelaide Manning, Secretary of the National Indian Association. At Oxford, Sorabji developed an enduring friendship with the Master of Baliol College, Benjamin Jowett. This granted her access to members of the upper-classes of British society, and consequently she remained loyal to the British through her career. Sorabji's memoir, India Calling, recalls the number of prominent establishment figures Sorabji met during her time in Britain. Sorabji became a member of Lincoln’s Inn in 1922, having been barred as a woman when a student. She lived and died in England !

In  1892 she was given permission to take Oxford's law exams; yet was not awarded a degree simply because she was a woman - a tradition that did not change until decades later. She went back to  India in 1894,  landed a job as a legal adviser for the Indian government, but she was not admitted to the Allahabad high court until 1923, when the ban on female lawyers was lifted. During her career she represented hundreds of purdahnashins - women who are forbidden by custom from talking to men outside their family.

Wikipedia reports that she was also involved in social reforms,  was associated with the Bengal branch of the National Council for Women in India, the Federation of University Women, and the Bengal League of Social Service for Women. Although an Anglophile, Sorabji had no desire to see "the wholesale imposition of a British legal system on Indian society any more than she sought the transplantation of other Western values." Though she supported the Indian Independence early in her career, Sorabji later  adopted a staunch anti-nationalist attitude relating women's rights to the capacity for self-government. She was actively involved in promoting support for the Empire and preserving the rights of the Hindu Orthodox. She favourably viewed the polemical attack on Indian self-rule in Katherine Mayo's book Mother India (1927), and condemned Mahatma Gandhi's campaign of civil disobedience.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Nov 2017

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Nelson (in Cricket ~ Capetown Test) who conquered sea battles

The man who created history was afterall a  small man, just 5ft 4in tall, of slight build and with a weak constitution. He was frequently very ill with recurrent bouts of malaria and dysentery, relics of his time in the tropics, Madras, Calcutta and Ceylon.  It is read that he sailed for East Indies and arrived  at the British outpost at Madras on 25 May 1774.  With the outbreak of the First Anglo-Maratha War, the British fleet operated in support of the East India Company and in early 1775 Seahorse was dispatched to carry a cargo of the company's money to Bombay. In early 1776 Nelson contracted malaria and became seriously ill. He was discharged from the vessel  Seahorse on 14 March and returned to England aboard HMS Dolphin.  In 1780 he was again very ill, this time with scurvy and his life, and the lives of his shipboard companions, hung in the balance. But once again this small, apparently frail man survived!

The famous battle of  Trafalgar (1805) was a naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars(1796–1815). 27 British ships of the line led by Admiral Lord Nelson aboard HMS Victory defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the line under the French Admiral Villeneuve in the Atlantic Ocean off the southwest coast of Spain, just west of Cape Trafalgar, near the town of Los Caños de Meca. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships, without a single British vessel being lost. It was the most decisive naval battle of the war, conclusively ending French plans to invade England. The British victory spectacularly confirmed the naval supremacy that Britain had established during the eighteenth century and was achieved in part through Nelson's departure from the prevailing naval tactical orthodoxy. During the battle, Nelson was shot by a French musketeer; he died shortly thereafter, becoming one of Britain's greatest war heroes.

In between, we know ‘ Nelson ’ ~ for a different reason and meaning altogether – more of a Cricket slang and superstition !!  - in the game, the reference is to scores of 111 or multiples thereof.  Often the reference 111 meant that Nelson was one eyed ! ~  it was feared that bad things would occur at this score, batsmen would get out !!  David Shepherd made popular the longstanding practice of raising a leg  from the ground on Nelson in an effort to avoid ill fate. Whenever the teams or individual score is 111 or multiple (222, 333, 444, 555) crowds would cheer seeing the raised leg of David Shepherd. 

No post on Cricket, more on the famous sailor hero.  Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté KB (1758 – 1805) was a British flag officer in the Royal Navy.  Known for his  inspirational leadership, superb grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics, which together resulted in a number of decisive naval victories, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars, he is hailed as hero of UK. He was wounded several times in combat, losing the sight in one eye in Corsica and most of one arm in the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife. He was shot and killed during his final victory at the Battle of Trafalgar near the Port City of Cadiz in 1805.

He was particularly active during French Revolutionary Wars in the Mediterranean. In 1797, he distinguished himself while in command of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St Vincent. Shortly after the battle, Nelson took part in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where his attack was defeated and he was badly wounded, losing his right arm, and was forced to return to England to recuperate. The following year, he won a decisive victory over the French at the Battle of the Nile and remained in the Mediterranean to support the Kingdom of Naples against a French invasion.

In routing the French fleet during the Battle of the Nile, as it became known, he was protecting British interests, threatened by Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt which lay on the trade routes to India. Having earned the gratitude of the Sultan of the Ottomon Empire, Horatio Nelson was given the Ottoman Empire's highest military decoration.  Sultan of the Ottoman Empire bestowed on Nelson the Chelengk, the Ottoman Empire’s highest military decoration. Traditionally pinned to a turban, but attached by Nelson to the cockade of his hat, it would become one of the most famous, and yet ill-fated, jewels in British history.

The 1st  Test in 2011 Series between Australia and South Africa was played at Capetown.  Put in, Aussies made 284 and dismissed hosts  South Africa for  96 runs. In the 2nd essay,  Australia were reduced to 13–3 by tea ; 21–6 to 21–9, before being bowled out for 47 runs. Debutant Vernon Philander finished with figures of 5–15 from seven overs.  Then  Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla both scored centuries to ease SA to  8-wicket victory.  On the final day of the test, being 11 November 2011,  with the time at 11:11 with South Africa requiring 111 runs to win, the majority of the crowd and umpire Ian Gould did Shepherd's leg raise Nelson for that minute with the scoreboard reading 11:11 11/11/11.

A glittering mass of more than 300 white diamonds, it was the size of a child’s hand but with 13 fingers, one for each of the French ships taken during the action;  its centrepiece was a rotating clockwork star which threw candlelight around a room.  However, it reportedly brought misery to Nelson and to every other person who later possessed it.  It was to be  stolen  shortly after World War II from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.   

London jewellers Symbolic & Chase have  financed a replica which has just gone on show at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and will be exhibited in London this week.  Made with real diamonds, and its own clockwork mechanism, it’s a faithful reproduction of an object which seems to have brought ill-fortune to just about everybody who came into possession of it.  Valued at £250,000, the replica will be auctioned in London next year, with some proceeds going to fund the conservation of HMS Victory.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13th Nov. 2017. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

tipsy monkeys ~ petrol and coffee, the villain !!

Some like the smell of ‘petrol’ ~ to some it could be nauseating.  Petrol (Gasoline in USA) is a transparent, petroleum-derived liquid that is used primarily as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives.

The price of petrol always affects the market, changes the prices and threatens Governments too.  With Brent crude prices hovering around the $64 a barrel mark, the highest in more than two-and-a-half years, analysts and economists have sat up and took note.  Asia’s emerging markets such as India and Indonesia run large current account deficit (CAD), in which the oil bill is the biggest component.  Reports suggest that Crude oil prices above $60 a barrel is a concern for India’s domestic economy. It can potentially have a bearing all across from causing a spike in inflation, raising raw material and transportation cost.

Away in UK, a  brazen trio of would-be motorcycle thieves rode off empty-handed after an off-duty police officer stopped them stealing a motorcycle. The men struck at lunchtime in the middle of a busy street in Solihull surrounded by shoppers and office workers. The gang, described as aged between 18 and 22-years-old, wore helmets and rode three abreast into the pedestrianised area next to Marks & Spencer before attempting to swipe a parked red Yamaha. The bike's alarm went off and the police officer, who was drinking coffee in a nearby Cafe Nero, raced to stop the thieves.

Back home in Panipat, a  thieving monkey addicted to drinking petrol has been caught stealing fuel from motorbikes. A group of bike owners in Panipat, northern India, held a stake-out after finding their vehicles were being repeatedly drained of petrol.  

They  were stunned to realise the true culprit was a monkey that was pulling fuel pipes off and sucking the tanks dry.  The reports state that the crafty monkey would wait until no one was around before ripping out a fuel pipe and taking a drink.  The animal was consuming so much petrol it was 'always high' and would even refuse gifts of bananas ~ the monkey did not pose any threats to humans otherwise.  

Monkey on a high is not perhaps totally new ~ in Bangkok, an  young macaque was knocked out for 10 hours after downing a cup of coffee it stole from a tourist.  MailOnline reports that that  poor monkey suffered a caffeine overdose and had to be slowly brought around using a saline and carbon solution administered by local medics.  Locals believe  that six-month-old long tailed macaque monkey watched the tourist drinking from the cup, then copied their actions while their back was turned.  The youngster fell ill after drinking the coffee and eventually passed out, prompting witnesses to call vets who took him for treatment. 

Witnesses said the six-month-old long tailed macaque fell ill after climbing down on to a tourist's motorbike where a cup of coffee was sitting inside a plastic bag hanging from the handlebars. Before anyone could stop the primate, it took the cup out and sipped from it. It soon fell ill and collapsed in the street after suffering a severe reaction to the caffeine, prompting witnesses to call in the vets. The monkey was given a mixture of carbon and saline (leaving it with black lips) to help flush the toxins from its body and woke up 10 hours later. 

The monkey was later released back     to the care of its troop and assigned a warden to make sure it suffers no further ill effects.  Tourists have been warned not to leave food or drink unattended around the macaques, and to only give them fruit and vegetables to eat.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

9th Nov. 2017.