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Monday, December 11, 2017

Nobel Prize 2017 ~ the dinner and Google doodle on Robert Koch

The Robert Koch Institute,  is a German federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention. It is located in Berlinand Wernigerode.  It was founded in 1891 and is named for its founding director, the founder of modern bacteriology Robert Koch.  The Institute prepares a report on cancer in Germany every two years. The institute also plays a role in advising the German government on outbreaks, such as the 2009 swine flu outbreak.

Dec 10th is an important day ~ for since  1901, the Nobel Prizes have been presented to the Laureates at ceremonies on this day, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death. As stipulated in the will of the Swedish-born inventor and international industrialist Alfred Nobel, which was opened after his death in 1896, the Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, while the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway. Since 1969 an additional prize has been awarded at the ceremony in Stockholm, The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, which was established in 1968 on the occasion of the Riksbank's 300th anniversary. The Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm has, almost without exception, taken place at the Stockholm Concert Hall (Stockholms Konserthus) since 1926.

At the Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm, presentation speeches extoll the Laureates and their discovery or work, after which His Majesty the King of Sweden hands each Laureate a diploma and a medal. The Ceremony is followed by a banquet at the Stockholm City Hall (Stockholms Stadshus) for about 1,300 people, including 250 students. In addition to the Nobel Laureates and their families, Their Majesties the King and Queen and other members of the Royal Family of Sweden are guests of honour at both the Prize Award Ceremony and the Banquet. Representatives of the Swedish Government and Parliament also participate.  In Oslo the Nobel Peace Prize is presented by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Norway, the Government, Storting representatives and an invited audience.

Mankind’s destruction caused by a nuclear war is just one “impulsive tantrum away”, the winners of the Nobel peace prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), warned on Sunday as the United States and North Korea exchange threats over the nation’s nuclear tests. “Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?” ICAN head Beatrice Fihn (photo at the start of this post)  said in a speech after receiving the peace prize on behalf of the anti-nuclear group. “The only rational course of action is to cease living under the conditions where our mutual destruction is only one impulsive tantrum away,” Fihn added. “[Nuclear weapons] are a madman’s gun held permanently to our temple.”

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have spiralled as Pyongyang has in recent months ramped up its number of missiles and nuclear tests. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump have taunted each other in recent months, with the US President pejoratively dubbing his rival “Little Rocket Man” and a “sick puppy”. ICAN, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs around the world, has worked for a treaty banning nuclear weapons which was adopted in July by 122 countries. The text was weakened by the absence of the nine nuclear powers among the signatories. In an apparent snub of the ICAN-backed treaty, the three western nuclear powers - the US, France and Britain - broke with tradition by sending second-ranking diplomats rather than their ambassadors to Sunday’s ceremony. Several survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, which killed more than 220,000 people 72 years ago, attended the ceremony in Oslo. One of them, Setsuko Thurlow, received the Nobel on behalf of ICAN jointly with Fihn.

On 10th Dec 2017, Google is honoured the scientist who spent his life studying germs and how they cause infectious disease. On Sunday, Google transformed its logo into a tribute for Robert Koch, who received the Nobel Prize on this day in 1905.  As Google explains, Koch identified the bacterium for diseases including anthrax, cholera and tuberculosis. Koch is also credited with sparking a "Golden Age of bacteriology," during which scientists discovered the causes behind 21 diseases.

"Perhaps better than anyone else at the time, Koch understood that sometimes the keys to solving big problems lay in their microcosms," wrote Google in a blog post explaining Sunday's doodle. The doodle features potato slices, used by Koch as part of his research. The doodle also features a Petri dish with Koch's name. According to Google, Julius Petri, its inventor, worked as Koch's assistant. Koch died in 1910, five years after receiving the Nobel, according to a biography on the Nobel Prize website.
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

11th Dec 2017.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Remembering Mahakavi Subramanya Barathiyar

கணிதம் பன்னிரண்டாண்டு பயில்வர்,பின் கார்கொள் வானிலோர் மீனிலை தேர்ந்திலார்;
அணிசெய் காவியம் ஆயிரங்கற்கினும்; ஆழ்ந்தி ருக்கும் கவியுளம் காண்கிலார்;

11th Dec ~  மஹாகவி சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதியாரை நினைவு கூறும் இந்நாளில், நீங்கள் இந்த வரிகளை கேட்டதுண்டா ?  அற்புத கவி, தனது காலத்துக்கு முன்பே வருவன குறித்து தீர ஆலோசித்த தீர்க்கதரிசி  மகா ஞானி பாரதியார் தனது சுய சரிதையில் அன்றைய ஆங்கிலப் பள்ளிக் கல்வி முறை பற்றி  மனம் நொந்து கூறிய வார்த்தைகள் இவை.

Thiruvallikkeni ~ is the famed Divaydesam of Sri Parthasarathi – also is the place e where Mahakavi lived and breathed nationalism  – that was at Thulasinga Perumal Kovil Street ~ opp.  the entrance of Sri Azhagiya Singar sannathi on the western side of the temple.

Dec 11 – is to be eternally remembered for that iconoclastic freedom fighter - born in a small village called Ettayapuram on Dec 11' 1882 ~ the man who breathed freedom struggle.  He had a troubled existence, constantly chased by the British Govt,  was on the run – still his indomitable will and his concerted action mobilized masses, making them aware of the need for freedom in the Southern  India.

சுப்ரமணிய பாரதியார் ஒரு உன்னத பிறவி.   கவிதைகள் வாயிலாக மக்களின் மனதில் விடுதலை உணர்வை ஊட்டியவர். இவர் ஒரு கவிஞர் மட்டுமல்லாமல் ஒரு எழுத்தாளர்பத்திரிக்கை ஆசிரியர்சமூக சீர்திருத்தவாதி - தன்  காலத்துக்கு  மிகவும் பல்லாண்டுகள்  பிறகு நடக்க வல்லவை பற்றி  கூர் நோக்குடன் சிந்தித்தவர்.  குறைந்த காலமே வாழ்ந்தாலும் சாதனைகள் செய்தவர். இளமையிலேயே கவிபாடும் திறமை பெற்றிருந்த சுப்பிரமணியன்எட்டையபுர சமஸ்தானப் புலவர்கள் அவையில் பாரதி என்ற பட்டம் பெற்றார். அன்று முதல் இவர்சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதியார்என அழைக்கப்பெற்றார்.

வெள்ளிப் பனிமலையின் மீதுலவுவோம்; அடி மேலைக் கடல் முழுதும் கப்பல் விடுவோம்
பள்ளித்தலமனைத்தும் கோயில் செய்குவோம்;எங்கள் பாரததேசமென்று தோள் கொட்டுவோம்.

என தேசத்தின் பெருமை இயம்பி அதே நேரத்தில் புது சிந்தனையாக, தன்னைம்பிக்கை ஊட்டும் புது ஆத்திச்சூடியையும் தந்தவர் நம் திருவல்லிக்கேணி முண்டாசு கவிஞர்.  பாரதி, தமிழ், ஆங்கிலம், இந்தி, சமஸ்க்ருதம்,, வங்காள மொழி ஆகியவற்றில் புலமை பெற்றவர். பிற மொழி இலக்கியங்களை மொழி பெயர்க்கவும் செய்தார். இதோ புது ஆத்திச்சூடியில் இருந்து :

அச்சம் தவிர் ;  ஆண்மை தவறேல்;  இளைத்தல் இகழ்ச்சி;  ஈகை திறன்;  உடலினை உறுதிசெய்; எண்ணுவது உயர்வு;  ஏறுபோல் நட'  ஐம்பொறி ஆட்சிக்கொள்' ;  ஒற்றுமை வலிமையாம். .. .. .. 

Mahakavi Subramanya Barathi…. the greatest of modern poets  acclaimed that ‘writing poems is his profession’ – but lived the life of fighting for independence.  He was proficient in Sanskrit, Telugu, English, Hindi, Bengali  and French. He wrote with felicity in English. The poet was closely associated with many Swadeshi leaders in the south, including V.O. Chidambaram Pillai. When the British Raj clamped down on the Swadeshis, he took refuge in Pondicherry in 1908; Aurobindo and V.V.S. Iyer also sought shelter there later. In 1920, Bharati returned to Madras to rejoin Swadesamitran. He met Mahatma Gandhi and wrote an oft-quoted poem in praise of non-violence. But his last years were tragic and he died in obscurity in September 1921.

During his lifetime and after his death, his works were banned by the British Govt – following which Madras Presidency Police too issued orders confiscating his works. Opposing this in the house of Madras legislature in 1928 there was a debate in which many including Theerar Sathyamurthi participated.  However, it was a rare honour bestowed on him, as immediately after Indian Independence in 1949, his works were nationalized by the State Government; he is perhaps the First Writer to be honoured thus which eluded even Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. 

On this day, we remember the man with twirled moustache who dreamt and ignited the Nation towards Independence.

Jai Hind ~ remembering Mahakavi Subramanya Barathi.

~ S. Sampathkumar

MSD ensures that it is not India's nadir at Dharamshala

2,0,9,0,2, ** , 10,0,19,0,0 reads our scorecard and at 29/7 Indians were certainly looking at one of the worst performances ever in ODI Cricket, thanks to thala Dhoni whose 65 ensured that it did not happen as India ended at 112.  The soaring six to the 2nd tier brought some joy for the Indian fan, who otherwise felt choked in the  fresh mountain air of Dharamsala.  When the ball seamed a bit, Sri Lanka's opening bowlers - Lakmal and Angelo Mathews - repeatedly hit the perfect length: just fuller than good. On a surface with sufficient, but not exaggerated, lateral movement, that length becomes even harder to negate. Batsmen are indecisive with their footwork and therefore shot selection and that is what the scorecard reflects ..

Remember that the lowest against India was by Bangladesh, who were shot out for 58 and in that match Mohit Sharma (remember CsK) took 4/22 and .. .. and Stuart Binny had enviable figures of 4.4-2-4-6.

Some of you may know that spell by ex-coach Greg Chappel in that Benson & Hedges WS Cup match at Sydney way back on Jan 8, 1981- Chappel had figures of 9.5-5-15-5 – Indians were all out for 63 (their 2nd lowest) chased easily by Aussies losing just a solitary wicket. On that day, Gavaskar chose to play in middle order, Chetan Chauhan opened with Roger Binny, followed by Dilip Vengsarkar,  Viswanath, Gavaskar, Yashpal, Kapil Dev,  Syed Kirmani, Karsah Ghavri, Yograj Singh and Dilip Doshi.

If you are to worry of our worst performace, it came in ODI 1652 against Sri Lanka at Sharjan in Oct 2000.  Sanath Jayasuriya made 189 and Lankans made 299/5.  Chasing Indians were defeated by 254 runs, getting bowled out for 54.  That line up had Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Vinod Kambli, Hemang Badani, Robin Singh, Vijay Dahiya, Sunil Joshi, Agarkar, Zaheer Khan and Venkatesh Prasad.

Chaminda Vaas took 5/14 while Mutiah Muralitharan had figures of 6-3-6-3.  The lowest ever in ODI thus far is Zimbabwe’s 35 against Lanka at Harare in 2004; followed by Canada (36); Zimbabwe 38 again against Lanka, Sri lanka 43, Pakistan 43, and Zimbabwe 44 against Bangladesh; Canada 45 and Namibia 45 being the other totals below 50. 

The ** mark at the start represents Dhoni’s 65 which propelled India to 112.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

10th Dec 2017.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Google doodle on Dalda 13 photographer .. what is ISO ?

Today’s doodle is on a photographer born in 1913, under pseudonym ‘Dalda 13’ ~ nothing to do with the Dutch company’s vanaspathi, to which Hindustan Lever added their L making it ‘Dalda’.  People tend to take potshots at photographers whose no. is multiplying day by day .. .. .. only the numbers not the class.  Everywhere you see them wielding big equipments (or small mobile phones) station themselves trying to capture weird angles, pause moments after the ‘press’ – then rewind their equip to check whether the capture is ok – and perhaps one can click this iconic moment of their satisfaction, which may not be forthcoming easily !! – what does it take to call yourself a photographer, of course not a mere Camera ?

By capturing an object, one tries to focus on the subject - Focussing can be manual, by twisting the focus on the lens; or automatic, activated by pressing half-way on the shutter release or a dedicated AF button. To take an image, the mirror swings upwards in the direction of the arrow, the focal-plane shutter opens, and the image is projected and captured on the image sensor, after which actions, the shutter closes, the mirror returns to the 45-degree angle, and the built in drive mechanism re-tensions the shutter for the next exposure.

For those better humans using ‘DSLR’ (Digital Single Lens Reflex) – life may not be as easy as the digital cousins, who push their hand and camera inside the already waiting angle to click gleefully.  DSLR is a digital camera that uses a mirror mechanism to either reflect light from a camera lens to an optical viewfinder or let light fully pass onto the image sensor (which captures the image) by moving the mirror out of the way.  For a good photographer, there are challenges of setting up to capture perfect images and one of the all important 3 is ‘ISO’. 

In very basic terms, ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. The component within your camera that can change sensitivity is called “image sensor” or simply “sensor”. It is the most important (and most expensive) part of a camera and it is responsible for gathering light and transforming it into an image. With increased sensitivity, your camera sensor can capture images in low-light environments without having to use a flash.  One increases the ISO when there is not enough light for the camera to be able to quickly capture an image.

[real photographers, do not get angry, all the above info. is collated from some web sources and nothing of my own or to be precise not written knowing any of what is written !]

Now on the google doodle of the day ~  it is Homai Vyarawalla,  India’s first woman photojournalist whose lens earned her a reputation for the candid shots of India’s independence movement, the first tri-colour hoisting, the death of Mahatma Gandhi, and others which become a part of national archives. Today, google doodle in its portrait featured Homai Vyarawalla to mark her 104th  birth anniversary. (I still do not understand the sense behind celebrating birthdays of those who have passed away !)

Born in 1913 in a Parsi family in Navsari, Gujarat, Vyarawalla’s childhood was spent on various places as her father worked in a travelling theater company. Besides completing her education from Bombay University and Sir JJ School of Art, she started taking snaps of daily life of mumbaikers and in this way become a professional photographer. During the turbulent time of second world war in 1942, Vyarawalla was employed by the  British Information Services in New Delhi, and also started working with the Bombay-based ‘The Illustrated Weekly of India’ magazine where many of her black and white images were published that became iconic later.

The photographs that she clicked were published under the pseudonym ‘Dalda 13’. This number was symbolic as her birth year was 1913, when she was 13-years-old she met her husband and her first car’s registration number was DLD 13. A year after her husband’s death in 1973, Homai Vyarawalla quit photography and lived alone in Vadodara, Gujarat. In the year 1989, she lost her son and only child. The country honoured her with a Padma Vibhushan in 2010. The photo lady passed away on January 15, 2012.

Tailpiece : 
1.       The first known practical sensitometer, which allowed measurements of the speed of photographic materials, was invented by the Polish engineer Leon Warnerke – pseudonym of Władysław Małachowski in 1880, among the achievements for which he was awarded the Progress Medal of the Photographic Society of Great Britain in 1882.
2.      The current system of speed standards called ISO came into vogue in 1974. It defines  scales for speeds of black-and-white negative film and colour reversal films too alongside digital cousins.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

9th Dec 2017.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Indian elections ~ RK nagar by-poll - how difficult is contesting in Election ??

Elections are in some ways festivals in India and by-elections are bonanza to some.  All eyes are on RK NagaR  constituency  that fell  vacant after the death of former Chief minister  Ms J Jayalalithaa. The bypoll is a prestige issue as it sees the United AIADMK back with twin leaves, opposition DMK and split ADMK.  Disappointed at the rejection of his nomination papers for RK Nagar bypoll, Tamil actor Vishal Krishna said he is mourning the “death of democracy”. "What we are witnessing is the systematic and effectual death of democracy in our country. Every democratic norm is being reduced to a mockery," news agency IANS quoted him as saying.  ~ what does common man say ?

In every election, every contestant says his aim is to serve the common man – the man on the streets, does his life change ? does anyone really care him after the elections ?? – and is contesting elections so difficult ??

Way back in 1951, the 1st Indian General Elections were held ~ there were 62 Parliamentary constituencies in Madras Presidency.  From Pathapatnam – VV Giri was elected;  Vizianagaram – Kandala Subramaniaml; Vijayawada – Harindranath Chatopadhyya;  Nandyal – Seshagiri Rao; Tirupathi – M Ananthasayanam Ayyangar; Madras – TT Krishnamachari; Thiruvallur – Maragatham Chandrasekhar were among the winners.

In the Madras Assembly elections held in 1951 there were 309 constituencies and in Triplicane constituency – AM Sambandam defeated Independent MS Abdul Majeed. Contesting elections has never been considered an herculean task – in the present election to be held in RK Nagar too, there are 59 candidates in fray – Bahujan Samaj Party, Bharatiya Janata Party,  All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, DMK, Desiya Makkal katchi, Naam Tamilar, Ezhuchi Tamilargal munnetra kazhagam,  Puratchi thalaivar Makkal munnetra kazhagam, Socialist Unity cenre of India, Namathu Kongu Munnetra Kazhagam, United States of India Party and Kamarajar Deseeya Congress are the parties in fray; while PMK, TMC have not put up candidates ~ and there are 47 independent candidates ! – so would one consider becoming a candidate so difficult as voiced by the actor and Deepa.

Some of the conditions to be met include opening of a separate bank account by each candidate for election expenditure.  It is specified that this account shall be opened at least one day before the date on which the candidate files his nomination papers. The Account Number of this bank account shall be communicated by the candidate in writing to the returning officer at the time of filing of his nomination. All election expenditure shall be made by the candidate only from this bank account . All money to be spent on electioneering shall be deposited in this bank account irrespective of its funding from any source including candidate’s own fund.

In India, one of  the basic qualifications for candidature at an election to Parliament or the Legislature of a State is that the person concerned should be an elector. The nomination paper must be in the prescribed form. For election to the House of the People (LokSabha), the nomination paper must be in Form 2-A. For election to a Legislative Assembly (VidhanSabha), the nomination paper must be in Form 2-B  - the forms, the rules are all available in the website of Election commission, which also displays the affidavits filed by all the candidates. 

In earlier days, candidates used to come in a procession displaying their pomp and affecting the traffic. Keeping this in view, the maximum number of vehicles that is allowed to come within the periphery of 100 metres of ROs/AROs Office has been restricted to three and the maximum number of persons allowed to enter the Office of ROs/AROs at the time of filing nomination has been limited to five (including the candidate.   The candidate has to be 25 years of age and should place before the EC, his assets as also whether he is convicted or cases pending.

Under the amended section 33 of the Representation of the People Act. 1951, the nomination of a candidate at the election to the House of the People or a State Legislative Assembly shall be required to be subscribed by- (i) One elector of the constituency as proposer, if the candidate has been set up either by a recognised National party or by a recognised State party in the State or States in which it is recognised as a State party (ii) Ten (10) electors of the constituency as proposers, if the candidate has been set up by a registered un recognised political party or if he is an independent candidate.

This actor was engaged in a verbal dual with  Election Commission’s office on Tuesday as his papers were rejected.  The actor took to Twitter to express his disappointment. 

Tailpiece  :  those following politics will know the name of K Padmarajan from Salem, who has contested more than 150 elections, including filing for the Presidential elections.  His name figures in Limca book of records as most unsuccessful candidate ~ yet he know the knack of filing nomination successfully.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

8th Dec 2o17. 

working overtime and Japanese idea of blasting with drone !

Drones have come to stay ~  :  an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. Its flight is either controlled autonomously by computers in the vehicle, or under the remote control of a navigator on the ground or in another vehicle.
A brilliant photo of Madurai taken from a drone (from FB of Manivannan of Madurai)

A couple of decades ago, in life and in Cinema, hardworking people would become by doing extra work in Office, getting Overtime pay.  OT simply is the amount of time someone works beyond normal working hours. Most nations have overtime labour laws designed to dissuade or prevent employers from forcing their employees to work excessively long hours. These laws may take into account other considerations than the humanitarian, such as preserving the health of workers so that they may continue to be productive, or increasing the overall level of employment in the economy. In the modern World, people do work hard, spending extra hours in Office and even at home doing official work – how much they climb or how high they are placed may not be directly proportional to the hours or work put though.
Then there are situational demands – of natural disasters.  Out there in US - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel have been stretched that in the  past three months,  some of its field personnel had  been home just once, for a two-week stretch.  The team has spent  the other dozen weeks amidst calamity.  Some had been  deployed to Texas on Aug. 24, as Hurricane Harvey pummeled Houston. Six weeks later, they flew straight to Puerto Rico, the island struggling to cope with widespread devastation following back-to-back hurricanes, Irma and then Maria. With much of the commonwealth still without power, they had to sleep alongside hundreds of other workers inside a convention center, taking cold showers and bunching up spare clothing to use as a pillow.

Now, FEMA says hundreds of  FEMA employees who pulled double-digit days during this year's massive storms may be forced to pay back some of their overtime pay. Under federal law, government staffer's annual earnings are capped — and following a record-breaking hurricane season, "several hundred" staffers have butted up against their maximums, FEMA confirms to ABC News.  Strange are the rules !

Elsewhere in Singapore, a couple of years back, drones buzzed up to high-rises under construction in Singapore and dropped off cans of Coke to the migrant workers building the towers. Tucked into the care packages were 2,734 messages from Singaporeans thanking the tradesmen for their hard work.  The idea was to link two communities that don't often come into contact - Singaporean nationals and the migrant workers who travel far from their countries to build the city-state's apartment buildings, offices and schools.  Some agencies dubbed it "Happiness From the Skies" that was part of Coke's international campaign called "Where Will Happiness Strike Next?", bringing the brand theme of happiness to places that could use some cheer.  Coke planned to utilize the drone technology to a newer height.  It was strategized to reach out to  migrant workers at building sites, cooming from places including India, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar, who did all that hard work but remained isolated otherwise.   

Hundreds of volunteers from the Singapore Kindness Movement asked ordinary Singaporeans to write messages of support to the migrant workers, then snapped photos of them holding the notes. The photos were tied to Coke cans and delivered to more than 2,500 workers using several drones. When the crafts landed, people weren't always sure how to react.

Anything on work may not be  complete without reference to Japan that  has a culture which encourages overtime out of a sense of loyalty, and that's a serious problem. It not only cuts into family and social life, it leads to entirely avoidable deaths. Taisei (the company behind the main Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium) aims to fix that in an unusual way: having a drone nag you into going home. Its newly unveiled T-Frend is ostensibly a security drone that surveils the office with its camera, but its specialty is blasting workers with "Auld Lang Syne" (commonly used in Japan to indicate closing time) to force them out of the office. In theory, the music and the drone's own buzzing make it impossible to concentrate.

The drone is autonomous, and doesn't need GPS to find its position. It'll be available in Japan in April as a ¥50,000 ($443) per month service, which largely limits it to mid- and large-sized businesses that can easily justify the cost through improved worker health.  Whether or not T-Frend is effective remains to be seen -- we could see stubborn workers donning noise-cancelling headphones. However, it could contribute to a national effort to create more balanced lifestyles. And it might even be more effective than existing strategies. Right now, overseers at companies frequently find themselves working overtime as they urge staff to avoid those extra hours -- the drone might let everyone punch out on time.

~ and what is happening in your workplace ? do you stay long hours ?? – and do you really take care of your team’s work-life balance.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

8th Dec 2017.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

the courageous girl who tried to eliminate Bengal Governor in 1932

How good a student were you in your school days ? ~ was History an interesting subject whilst you studied ?? do you now realize that whatever was taught and learnt were a different side of history, in reality, we should have read more about the real India and the struggle !!!

Before proceeding further, what attracts you in this picture, the revolutionary in the foreground or the monument in the background .. !

We read that India got freedom without shedding blood – the path of ahimsa as shown by Gandhiji ~ and in the process, we perhaps failed to glorify and honour many of our martyrs.  Is it not true that Freedom was gotten only after  years of struggle, massacre, bloodbath and unconditional sacrifices;  thanks to the undying efforts of hundreds of freedom fighters who left the comfort of their homes to fight the British colonial power. 

These freedom fighters also included thousands of women who courageously stood up to the British and massively contributed to the Indian independence movement.  On 6th February 1932, the whole ambience of convocation Hall of Calcutta University was disrupted by volley of bullets fired by a young girl. The young and courageous girl was arrested on attempt of assassinating Stanley Jackson, the British governor of Bengal. How many of us know this  courageous student who dared to shake the British Empire with her revolutionary action ? – is that our fault or those who wrote history for us !?!?!?.

Yet, we know the history of British East India Company too well ! The East India Company (EIC), was formed to pursue trade with the "East Indies" (in present-day terms, Maritime Southeast Asia), but ended up trading mainly with Qing China and seizing control of the Indian subcontinent. Originally chartered as the "Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies", the company rose to account for half of the world's trade.  During its first century of operation, the focus of the company was trade, not the building of an empire in India. Company interests turned from trade to territory during the 18th  century.  Company rule in India effectively began in 1757 and lasted until 1858, when, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 led to the British Crown's assuming direct control of the Indian subcontinent in the form of the new British Raj.

From 1690, a governor represented the British East India Company in Bengal, which had been granted the right to establish a trading post by the Nawabs of Bengal. The man whom we know in Madras, Robert Clive was the Governor of Bengal during 1757–60 and again during 1765–67 and established Dual Government in Bengal from 1765 to 1772.

This is no post on British history, though ends with some Cricket connection of a Governor of Bengal.  The courageous girl whom we failed to honour is Bina Das by name, (1911–1986)  daughter of a well-known Brahmo teacher, Beni Madhab Das and a social worker, Sarala Devi. Bina Das was a member of Chhatri Sangha, a semi-revolutionary organisation for women in Kolkata. On 6 February 1932, she attempted to assassinate the Bengal Governor Stanley Jackson, in the Convocation Hall of the University of Calcutta. She was not a trained assassin,  fired five shots but failed and was sentenced to nine years of rigorous imprisonment.

After her early release in 1939, Das joined the Congress party. In 1942, she participated in the Quit India movement and was imprisoned again from 1942-45. From 1946-47, she was a member of the Bengal Provincial Legislative Assembly and, from 1947–51, of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.

The man who was shot at was – Stanley Jackson,  written in history as Sir Francis Stanley Jackson GCSI GCIE KStJ.  He was born in Leeds, played for Cambridge University, Yorkshire and England. He reportedly  spotted the talent of Ranjitsinhji.   He captained England in five Test matches in 1905, winning two and drawing three to retain The Ashes.  He was also the first batsman to be dismissed for nervous 90's on test debut.

He was President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1921. He was elected as a Member of Parliament at a by-election in 1915, representing Howdenshire (Yorkshire).  He served as Financial Secretary to the War Office 1922-23. In 1927 he was appointed Governor of Bengal and in that year was knighted with the GCIE and was made a member of the Privy Council. In 1932, he was shot at by Bina das, but  ducked five pistol shots fired at close range in the Convocation Hall of the University of Calcutta. The attacker was tackled and disarmed by Lieutenant-Colonel Hassan Suhrawardy (the first Muslim Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta), who was knighted by the King for his heroism.

Now recall, search your history books on what you studied, on whom the lessons had been made and think what should have been read and remembered !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
7th Dec 2o17.

wildfires of California

Often the first perceivable difference between village life and city is that of – ‘good clean air’ – we, the city dwellers may not notice that easily, until we read about smog and other pollutants. 

We do not have this trouble – that of ‘wildfires’.  Each year, thousands of homes in woodland areas are damaged or destroyed in wildfires that burn millions of acres across the United States, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Wildfires usually ignite in hot, dry weather and, most often, during droughts. If you live in the foothills, grasslands or mountains, your home or community may be at risk. While some wildfires, such as the ones that begin with a lightning strike, cannot be prevented, 90 percent of wildfires in the U.S. are caused by humans, according to the National Park Service. Three major fires are raging in Southern California. The first, the Thomas fire in Ventura County, started Monday evening and exploded overnight. The second, the Creek fire, started at 4 a.m. Tuesday near Sylmar. The Rye fire erupted in Santa Clarita shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday ~ and they are normal.. .. !

Whether the home insurance covers the peril of ‘wildfire’.  Typically, the answer is yes. Standard homeowners policies generally help protect against specific perils, or certain causes of loss, such as theft and fire, but coverage may vary by geographic location and by policy. In USA it is not surprising to  find  some insurers do not sell homeowners policies in areas where wildfires are common.

Over there, Interstate 405 (I-405) is a major north–south Interstate Highway in Southern California. It is a bypass auxiliary route of Interstate 5, running along the southern and western parts of the Greater Los Angeles Area from Irvine in the south to near San Fernando in the north. The entire route is known as the northern segment of the San Diego Freeway.  This is a heavy travelled thoroughfare by both commuters and by freight haulers along its entire length and is the busiest and most congested freeway in the United States. Multiple fires are raging in Southern California. A series of Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires have destroyed at least 180 structures, forced thousands to flee and smothered the region with smoke in what officials predicted would be a pitched battle for days.    It  spread through the hills above Ventura, in the northern greater Los Angeles megalopolis, with the speed of a hurricane. Driven by 50 mph Santa Ana winds—bone-dry katabatic air moving at freeway speeds out of the Mojave desert—the fire transformed overnight from a 5,000-acre burn in a charming chaparral-lined canyon to an inferno the size of Orlando, Florida, that only stopped spreading because it reached the Pacific. Tens of thousands of people evacuated their homes in Ventura; 150 buildings burned and thousands more along the hillside and into downtown are threatened.

That isn’t the only part of Southern California on fire. The hills above Valencia, where Interstate 5 drops down out of the hills into the city, are burning. Same for a hillside of the San Gabriel Mountains, overlooking the San Fernando Valley. And the same, too, near the Mount Wilson Observatory, and on a hillside overlooking Interstate 405—the flames in view of the Getty Center and destroying homes in the rich-people neighborhoods of Bel-Air and Holmby Hills.

And it’s all horribly normal. Southern California’s transverse ranges—the mostly east-west mountains that slice up and define the greater Los Angeles region—were fire-prone long before there was a Los Angeles. They’re a broken fragment of tectonic plate, squeezed up out of the ground by the Pacific Plate on one side and the North American on the other, shaped into the San Gabriels, the Santa Monica Mountains, the San Bernardino Mountains. Even the Channel Islands off Ventura’s coast are the tippy-tops of a transverse range.

A series of Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires raging across Southern California have destroyed at least 180 structures, forcing thousands to flee and filling the region with smoke. Much of the reported structural damage has been in Ventura County, where the Thomas fire has already burned 65,000 acres. The fire jumped the 101 Freeway on the evening of Dec. 5, threatening towns near the ocean. Here’s where some of the damage has occurred so far. Thick blankets of smoke from wildfires burning in Southern California are visible from space. An image captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite shows large plumes of smoke streaming into the Pacific, illustrating the fires' scope and size.

NY newspapers report that on Little Tujunga Canyon Road at the Wildlife Waystation, staff members worked on little sleep to keep the wild and exotic animal sanctuary — and its residents — safe. Wildlife Waystation,  was on risk and so were the animals housed in.  their staff and fire fighters started work at the dawn,  they began preparing for evacuation. They separated the different types of caging, some suitable for hyenas, others for Siberian tigers, another suitable for a chimpanzee. They had to figure out what to do about the buffalo roaming loose in the fire zone, as well as what they’d do with animals with small lungs — like birds — who wouldn’t be able to survive the smoke.

 There was no power and they had to work in dark too, at a time when they were exposed in their work with  very dangerous animals. Some of the animals were evacuated to a zoo and others to motion picture compounds — facilities capable of dealing with them. Of 350 to 400 animals usually housed at Wildlife Waystation, 100 were not evacuated.

It is all about preparedness and strategic execution .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
7th Dec 2017.

Couple of photos credit :

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Maria Angela Di Trapani, (the real Sornakka) arrested !!

Nayakan, directed by Mani Ratnam based on the Bombay don Varadaraja Mudaliar ran packed houses and was a trend setter after which many movies hailing Dons came.  The theme of the film was inspired from Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather.   Released almost 15 years earlier, ‘Godfather’ directed by Francis Ford Coppola based on Mario Puzo's best-selling eponymous novel, starred  Marlon Brando and Al Pacino as the leaders of a fictional New York crime family. The story, spanning 1945 to 1955, chronicled the family under the patriarch Vito Corleone (Brando), focusing on the transformation of Michael Corleone (Pacino) from reluctant family outsider to ruthless mafia boss.

Arumugam (Vikram) lives in a village and is a kind hearted man. There is a chemical factory in the village which releases toxic wastes into the river and the villagers decide to give a petition to the minister requesting him to close the factory.  As Arumugam fights for the villager’s cause,  Sornaka (Telangana Shakunthala) and her brother Aadhi (Pasupathy) are local goons involved in many illegal activities with the minister Kaalaipandi supporting them behind.  That was the storyline of ‘Dhool’  2003  film directed by Dharani starring Vikram, Jyothika and Reemma Sen in the lead roles.  Telangana Shakuntala (born in Maharashtra) played many characters in Telegu but attained more fame with that Sornakka character. 

Miles away, particularly in Sicily, Mafias are for real though many myths surrounding them are not.  The Mafia is oppression, arrogance, greed, self-enrichment, power and hegemony above and against all others. It is not an abstract concept, or a state of mind, or a literary term... It is a criminal organization regulated by unwritten but iron and inexorable rules... The myth of a courageous and generous 'man of honour' must be destroyed, because a mafioso is just the opposite." -  Cesare Terranova, Italian Magistrate murdered in 1979.. whether you like it or not – mafia does exist.  It is a symptom of Sicily's endemic political corruption and a general cynicism regarding public institutions and the criminal justice system, its life sustained by a widespread mentality which breeds a general distrust in even the youngest Sicilians - distrust of everybody and everything.  Now this post is about the real ‘Sornakka’ - Maria Angela Di Trapani, if you have not heard her name earlier. 

MailOnline reports that a female mobster suspected of being the mastermind behind a reshuffle of the Sicilian Mafia following the death of 'boss of bosses' Toto Riina has been arrested, Italian police said on Tuesday.  Maria Angela Di Trapani, the daughter of a fugitive, has already spent seven years in prison for having passed the orders of her husband, a convicted mobster, from behind bars to the clan on the outside.  Her husband, Salvino Madiona, is serving life for the 1991 murder of renowned anti-Mafia businessman Libero Grassi, who was gunned down for attempting to persuade Sicilians to stand up to the mob.

Maria Angela Di Trapani, a female mobster suspected of being the mastermind behind a reshuffle of the Sicilian Mafia following the death of "boss of bosses" Toto Riina, is escorted by carabinieri during a police operation today.  Riina, who was nicknamed 'The Beast' because of his cruelty, died last month and his presumed heir Matteo Messina Denaro is on the run.  Di Trapani, who was freed in 2015, is suspected of having since scaled the rungs of the crime group - nicknamed 'the octopus' for its tentacled reach into all areas of society - from messenger to boss, according to wiretaps obtained by the police.

'Once released, she immediately returned to Cosa Nostra and took up a decisive role,' prosecutor Salvo De Luca told a press conference. Police said jailed bosses had appointed Di Trapani to head up the Madonia clan and tasked her with liaising with other clans on the relaunch of Cosa Nostra following Riina's death. It is further reported that 25, including Ignazio Calderone were arrested on Tuesday in a sting involving over 200 policemen, helicopters and sniffer dogs.  Those arrested are accused of mafia association, extortion and shifting stolen goods.  The arrests 'reveal how Cosa Nostra, though weakened by investigations and trials, still has an enduring capability to use intimidation to force businesses to pay (the mafia tax) pizzo', police said in a statement.

The 'Addiopizzo' ('Goodbye Pizzo') association, which campaigns to end the payment of protection money, on Tuesday urged Sicilian entrepreneurs and shopkeepers to stand up for their rights and denounce extortionists. The woman mafia killed Riina  was serving 26 life sentences. Riina's most high-profile ordered hits were the assassinations in 1992 of anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who had worked fearlessly to bring more than 300 mobsters to trial in 1987.  Di Trapani hit the headlines in 2000, when she conceived a child with her husband despite the draconian detention conditions he was being held under. In 2007, despite backing from a court, the prison refused to allow the couple to have a second child by artificial insemination.

Interesting or disgusting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

5th Dec 2017

'A clear Blue sky' ... Jonny Bairstow presented gloves !!

Indian Cricket fan ~ do you remember that Oval Test of  1979 – when 438 in 4th innings looked gettable and how Srinivasa Venkatraghavan was treated  ?

After an interesting day 3 at Adelaide – the score card reads : Australia 8 for 442 dec and 4 for 53 (Handscomb 3*, Lyon 2*) lead England227 (Overton 41*, Lyon 4-60, Starc 3-49) by 268 runs.  England can take solace that they still hold the Ashes. And they had the ball hooping and Australia's batsmen hopping in a tense final session on the third day. But lest anyone get carried away with this impressive bowling display, led by James Anderson, it is worth remembering that Australia lead by 268 runs, with six wickets in hand. Unless they can roll Australia for under 117, England will need their all-time highest successful Test chase to win this match.  This is no match update but a post on England wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow.

Not many have the honours of father and son representing the Nation -  coming from the Yorkshire club, both Jonny and his dad David have played for England, have kept wickets.  Jonny Bairstow, the son of the former England wicketkeeper David Bairstow, is a combative wicketkeeper-batsman who has become a cricketer to be reckoned with in England's middle order. The journey was far from easy for Bairstow, especially with Jos Buttler in contention for the gloves, but prolific run-making for Yorkshire eventually made a case that England's selectors could not ignore. Galvanised by his selection, runs flowed.

On Monday morning, a "fantastic gesture" from an Australian cricket fan in Adelaide saw  England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow handed a special piece of family memorabilia ahead of the third day of the second Magellan Ashes Test. Johnny was given a pair of wicketkeeping gloves that had been signed by his late father, the former England keeper David Bairstow, on England's 1978-79 tour of Australia. Bairstow Snr, played four Tests and 21 one-day internationals for England between 1979-1984.

Adelaide man Andrew Johns was given the gloves when he was a child and with the return of Bairstow Jnr to his home city, Johns was keen to reunite the Yorkshireman with the souvenir bearing his father's name. "A chap called Andrew messaged me on Instagram, actually," Bairstow told ABC Grandstand ahead of play on day three. "I don't really normally look at them (messages), but fortunately enough I did and (he had) a pair of wicketkeeping gloves signed by Dad in 1978-79. Having reached out to Bairstow, Johns was invited to the England team hotel on Monday morning to meet the England keeper and hand over the gloves. "We had a good half-an-hour, 45 minutes together, which was wonderful," Johns told ABC Grandstand… .. .. he was quite emotional to receive them, for his dad is now no more .. and that makes a sad story !

It was not to be a normal death.  David Bairstow was found hanged at his home on January 5, 1998. He was 46. Reports said he had been suffering from depression: his wife was ill, he had financial troubles, he faced a drink-driving charge and was in pain from his own injuries. The news stunned cricket, especially as Bairstow had always seemed the most indomitable and least introspective of men, and led to much comment on the problems faced by retired sportsmen. David "Bluey" Bairstow was not merely the Yorkshire wicketkeeper but almost the embodiment of the country's cricket throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He arrived in county cricket amid a blaze of publicity when he was drafted from grammar school in Bradford into the Yorkshire side as an 18-year-old on the day he sat an English Literature A-level.

His son was just 8 – and now Johny Bairstow has written a book  - ‘A Clear Blue Sky’, being  serialised in Sportsmail  is more than just a cricket book. It is essentially the story of how the Bairstows have coped with the very worst that life could throw at them, from David’s suicide almost 20 years ago to Janet’s two battles with cancer. But, much more, it is the inspirational tale of a small family with a close bond who have come through the darkness and want to tell the world that, however bad things are, up above the clouds there is always a clear blue sky. As Jonny says: ‘Most people believe their family is special. I know mine is.’ At the centre of this incredible story is Janet, a well-known and popular figure at Headingley through her work as a cricket administrator for Yorkshire but now, a little reluctantly, thrust into the spotlight.

It would have been a thoughtful and painful decision that  after almost 20 years, have the Bairstows decided to reveal details of how David, at 46, took his own life the day before Janet’s 42nd birthday at a time when she was suffering from the first of the two bouts of cancer which she has fought so courageously and beaten.   Jonny was just eight when, along with Janet and younger sister Becky, he returned to their home in Yorkshire after football training with Leeds United juniors to find David, a Headingley legend, had hanged himself.

One of the most striking aspects of A Clear Blue Sky — a title which also gives a nod to David’s nickname of Bluey and how Jonny, initially reluctantly but then proudly, adopted the same moniker — is the lack of anger in the Bairstows.

Tailpiece :  1:  In numerical analysis, Bairstow's method is an efficient algorithm for finding the roots of a real polynomial of arbitrary degree. The algorithm first appeared in the appendix of the 1920 book Applied Aerodynamics by Leonard Bairstow. The algorithm finds the roots in complex conjugate pairs using only real arithmetic.

2:  4th  Test, India tour of England at London, Aug 30-Sep 4 1979 – score card reads : Match drawn : England - 305 & 334/8d; India - 202 & 429/8 (150.5 ov) – score card would never reveal the high drama that unfolded on the final day when 438 in 4th innings was made to look  gettable.

On that tour, Indians were  beaten comprehensively in the first test by an Innings & 83 runs at Headingly and the 2nd & 3rd Tests were drawn.  Srinivasan  Venkatraghavan and Mike Brearly were the captains. In the 4th  Chetan Chauhan and Sunil Gavaskar were involved in a grand partnership of 213 and then Dilip Vengsarkar added another 153 – thus Indians were 366-1 at one stage, which for sure created jitters. At tea, India was in a commanding position at  304 and  England played negative tactics in slowing down the game.  When mandatory overs began, India required only 100 runs and were on course to a historic win.  Not to be, as in the end, India sort of throw away the match, with couple of poor decisions hastening the end.  Eventually India fell short by 9 runs with 2 wickets in hand losing the series 1-0. Bharat Reddy was the wicketkeeper then.

Sadly, Venkat was to lose the Captaincy in an ignominy – reportedly the news was broken in the PA system of the aeroplane when the team was travelling back, Gavaskar became the Captain..  David Bairstow made his debut in that match. Mike Brearley resigned as captain after that winter's tour of Australia but returned, triumphantly, in 1981

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

5th Dec 2017.