Search This Blog


Friday, March 23, 2018

Parliament passes Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill 2018

‘Gratuity’ ~ the dictionary meaning is :  a tip given to a waiter, taxi driver, etc. It also means :  sum of money paid to an employee at the end of a period of employment.  Every employee looks forward to peaceful retirement as they near the homebend !!

For topic of the day – it is about Employee benefit (social security !) .. ..  Gratuity is a benefit received by an employee for services rendered to an organisation. For companies covered under the Gratuity Act, this benefit is paid when an employee completes five or more years of service with the employer. The Gratuity Act applies to establishments employing 10 or more persons.  The primary objective of providing a gratuity scheme is to provide a retiring benefit to the workman who have rendered long and unblemished service to the employer and thereby contributed to the prosperity of the employer.

In Western Nations the concept of Social security is "any government system that provides monetary assistance to people with an inadequate or no income." Social security is enshrined in Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

In economic parlance, Gratuity is a defined benefit plan given by the employer to the employee parting for the services rendered.  In India, we have a statue - Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 - an Act to provide for a scheme for the payment of gratuity to employees engaged in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. It was  enacted by Parliament in the Twenty-third Year of Republic of India and called  Payment of Grataity Act, 1972.

Section: 4 of the Act states :  Payment of gratuity. (1) Gratuity shall be payable to an employee on the termination of his employment after he has rendered continuous service for not less than five years, - (a) on his superannuation, or (b) on his retirement or resignation, or (c) on his death or disablement due to accident or disease: Provided that the completion of continuous service of five years shall not be necessary where the termination of the employment of any employee is due to death or disablement: Provided further that in the case of death of the employee, gratuity payable to him shall be paid to his nominee or, if no nomination has been made, to his heirs, and where any such nominees or heirs is a minor, the share of such minor, shall be deposited with the controlling authority who shall invest the same for the benefit of such minor in such bank or other financial institution, as may be prescribed, until such minor attains majority.

As per Section 4(1), the completion of continuous service of 5 years is not required where termination of employment is due to death or disablement. In such case mandatory gratuity is payable. Gratuity is paid at a rate of 15 days wages for every completed year of service or part thereof in excess of Six months. The wages here means wages last drawn by the employee. The "15 Days Wages" will be calculated by dividing the last drawn wages by 26 and multiplying the result with 15.

The good news for employees is that  Parliament has passed the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill which will increase the ceiling of tax-free gratuity amount to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh. Further, this will allow the government to increase the gratuity ceiling from time to time without amending the law.

The amendment bill is seen as a  long awaited change, much expected to bring private sector employees at par with their public sector counterparts as far as gratuity ceiling is concerned. The gratuity amendment act, once it comes into force after receiving Presidential assent and publication in the Official Gazette, would provide greater defined benefit advantage for employees as it is likely that income tax limits are increased as it has been the case in the past. The amendment also gives flexibility to the Government to extend the ceiling in the future by mere notification as opposed to the requirement of an amendment.

The amendment further  allows the government to fix the period of maternity leave for female employees as deemed to be in continuous service in place of the existing 12 weeks  enhancing the maximum maternity leave period to 26 weeks.

The enhancement in ceiling could mean  that  tax liability will be nil in respect of  any amount upto Rs.20 lakh as gratuity. After the Amendment bill comes to force, the government may raise the limit of Rs. 20 lakh further to increase the cap in gratuity amount as and when the need arises without having to change the law. Amount of gratuity is directly proportional to the tenure of service, and also to the last drawn salary.  According to the  formula, the time period of over six months or more is considered as one year.

Section: 13 of the Act categorically states that :  No gratuity payable under this Act and no gratuity payable to an employee employed in any establishment, factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port, railway company or shop exempted under section shall be liable to attachment in execution of any decree or order of any civil, revenue or criminal court.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2018.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Boult and Southee skittle out England for 58 - Auckland Test

In 8 balls Dinesh Karthik’s career has changed ~ now perhaps he has more fans than ever before ! ~ Test Cricket is no slambang – no T20 this, yet .. today a pink ball proved to be not so pink as England was skittled out for a paltry 58 inside 21 overs. 

The fall of wickets would give you a different story :  1-6 (AN Cook, 4.2 ov), 2-6 (JE Root, 6.2 ov), 3-16 (DJ Malan, 8.1 ov), 4-18 (MD Stoneman, 9.4 ov), 5-18 (BA Stokes, 10.3 ov), 6-18 (JM Bairstow, 11.2 ov), 7-23 (CR Woakes, 12.6 ov), 8-23 (MM Ali, 13.4 ov), 9-27 (SCJ Broad, 15.4 ov), 10-58 (JM Anderson, 20.4 ov)

~ ignominy was shining on the face when England were 27/9 ~ but Craig Overton, one of two Somerset fast-bowling twins,  playing his 3rd Test scored an unbeaten 33  - and that made the England coach Trevor Bayliss berate England batting.  I have read about smaller totals, this one was embarrassing !

If put into bat on a cloudless afternoon,  and  tormented by some exemplary bowling by the left-arm paceman Trent Boult, who finished with six for 32 & his partner Tim Southee taking  four wickets in a variety of ways,  was not enough, NZ scored runs briskly.  There was some movement for Boult, in particular, but it was as if the batsmen were playing blind man’s buff after someone had mischievously plastered glue on the soles of their boots.  Most of the humiliating records were averted thanks to a cameo from Overton, who seemed to be able to pick up the pink ball rather better than his colleagues. There was one superb flat-batted six off Boult as well as a few, crisp drives in his unbeaten 33 but Anderson could not keep him company for long. Despite that last-wicket partnership, England could not reach their previous lowest score against the Kiwis, which was 64 at Wellington in 1978 when Geoffrey Boycott was the captain.

Trent Boult, who could barely keep the smile off his face in the post-day press conference, claimed career-best figures of 6 for 32 while Tim Southee bagged four - they were the only two bowlers needed to clean up a feeble England. Then Kane Williamson, their best Test batsman, ensured they capitalised with a delectable, unbeaten 91 that stretched New Zealand's lead to 117.

Away,   South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada has been cleared to play in this week’s third Test against Australia by the International Cricket Council. The 22-year-old’s two-match ban has been overturned after his charge of “making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with the Australia captain, Steve Smith, during the second Test in Port Elizabeth was downgraded following an appeal. The South African barrister Dali Mpofu successfully argued at Monday’s six-hour hearing that the paceman did not deliberately make contact with Smith’s shoulder during a fiery send-off. Rabada has instead been found guilty of “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game” and has been fined 25% of his match fee and received one demerit point – reduced from his initial punishment of three. That leaves Rabada on a total of seven demerit points, one short of triggering an automatic two-match suspension, and he is available for the third and penultimate Test, which starts in Cape Town on Thursday. The series is currently level at 1-1.

In Test Cricket – the lowest total is New Zealand’s 26 in Mar 1955 made at Auckland against England in Test 402; India’s hour of shame  is ‘42’ –at Lords in June 1974 when they were bowled out in 17 overs.  

At Eden Park in 1955, Len Hutton's team finished their triumphant tour by setting up a world record – dismissing  New Zealand in the second innings for 26, the lowest total in the history of Test cricket.  In that 2nd innings only B Sutcliffe the opener made 11; there were 5 zeroes.  Tyson took 2; Statham took 3 – Appleyard took 4 for 7 in 6 overs. 

Long before Dhoni, Ajit Wadekar had taken India to newer heights with Series win over West Indies and England (on tours) – but sadly that tour of 1974 was a disaster…. It is reported that India reached there in a bitterly cold England in April as the leading side in the world. In the previous three years they had won series in the Caribbean and England, and then defeated England at home. Their superb quartet of spinners (Bishan Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and Venkat) backed by some top batsmen (Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Wadekar, Gundappa Viswanath) made them a formidable team, albeit one lacking any real seam prowess. Ten of India's 12 three-day warm-up matches were drawn, largely because of what Wisden described as "outrageously unkind" cold, wet weather, which was a hallmark of the summer. Against Essex and Surrey, the tourists won with Abid ali taking wickets.  

In the first Test, at a damp and chilly Old Trafford, India lost by 113 runs.  The ignominy was complete in that Test no. 740 played at Lords in June 1974.  England piled up  629  - with Dennis Amiss scoring 188; John Edrich 96; Mike Denness 118 and Antony William Greig scoring 106.  The bowling card would put Indian bowlers to shame :  Abid ali 22-2-79-2; Madanlal 30-6-93-0; Chandra 9.3-1-33-0; Prasanna 51-6-166-2 and Bishan Singh Bedi 64.2-8-226-6

Indians started soundly with a century partnership between Sunil Gavaskar (46) and Farokh Engineer (86) – the first wicket falling at 131 was no indicator of the things to come; Gundappa Vishwanath made 52; Eknath Solkar, the brilliant fielder made 43 and Indians were all out for 302.   Indians following on suffered their worst being all out for ‘42’ (technically for 9 as Chandra was absent hurt) – Only Solkar reached double figures with 18 and remained unbeaten.   Arnold had figures of 8-1-19-4; while Chris Old had 8-3-21-5.

It all happens in a game !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Mar 2018

Human error and rain intervention sees WI qualify !!!

Scotland were 105-4 in the 32nd  over when Windies off-spinner Ashley Nurse rapped Berrington's pads and umpire Paul Wilson raised his finger after lengthy deliberation.
Although the ball deflected into the off side, replays showed it had struck Berrington in or just outside the line of leg stump and would have gone past the stumps with the spin.

Berrington was unable to review, with the International Cricket Council electing not to use the decision review system in this tournament.   Earlier, the  Scots made a sensational start when the excellent Sharif (3-27) had Gayle caught behind with the first ball of the match, then removed Shai Hope in his second over. Doubt why you are reading this ??

I remember that Clive Lloyd tour immediately after the World Cup 1983 which Kapil Devils won – the 4th Onedayer at Keenan stadium, Jamshedpur in Dec 1983 – Chetan Sharma made his debut.  Those were days when 250 was a match winning total and WI went on to make 333/8 in 45 overs with contributions in tons coming from Gordon Greenidge and IVA Richards.  Such was the total dominance of West Indies those days ~ and it is hard to digest that it took a human error and help from rain enable them qualify for the World Cup.

The score card would never reveal the actual happening.  West Indies 198 (48.4 overs): Lewis 66, Samuels 51; Sharif 3-27, Wheal 3-34.  Scotland 125-5 (35.2 overs): Berrington 33, Munsey 32no; Roach 2-20, Nurse 2-35. West Indies win by 5 runs (DLS)

It usually rains on around 191 days a year in Edinburgh, where Scotland play much of their international cricket. Harare Sports Club sees, by comparison, around 73 rainy days a year, and one of those days brought a soggy end to what was shaping up to be a thrilling match between West Indies and Scotland. Chasing 199, Scotland were 125 for 5, five runs behind the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern par score, when the rain came down. The result means West Indies have booked their place in Sunday's final, and thus the World Cup in England next year.  Eventually, the West Indies simply seemed like undeserving beneficiaries of two lucky breaks, one courtesy a human error and the other through nature’s diktat, as they booked a spot at next year’s World Cup at the expense of a devastated Scotland team, who for most parts of the day looked all set for a fourth World Cup appearance.
For, if Scotland had lost one less wicket at the point a heavy drizzle turned into a mini-storm and forced the players off, they would have been ahead by three runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method and therefore been adjudged winners. Instead at 125-5 in 35.2 overs, they were five runs behind.

Scotland's hopes of reaching the 2019 World Cup are effectively over after West Indies won a rain-affected game in Harare to qualify for the tournament. The Scots needed another 74 off 14.4 overs when the deluge intervened, Kyle Coetzer's side trailing by five runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method. They had earlier bowled the Windies out for 198, Safyaan Sharif and Brad Wheal both taking three wickets. Richie Berrington hit 33 after Scotland were reduced to 25-3 in reply. But his controversial dismissal, given out lbw to a ball that replays appeared to show was heading down the leg side, proved costly as Scotland's hopes of a fourth World Cup appearance - after reaching the 1999, 2007 and 2015 tournaments - were ended by the weather.

Zimbabwe will take the second and final qualifying place if they beat UAE, who are already eliminated, on Thursday. A shock defeat for the hosts would see the winner of Ireland against Afghanistan on Friday go through.

More Cricket shock – elsewhere downunder in the 1st  Test (D/N), England tour of Australia and New Zealand at Auckland.  England have been bowled out for 58. Ben Stokes made his return to Tests, albeit largely as a specialist batsman amid concerns regarding his workload and fitness for the longer format. He missed the Ashes, which England lost 4-0, due to a police investigation after his alleged street brawl in Bristol. England captain Joe Root also confirmed he will move up to No. 3, which meant James Vince was dropped after a sub-par Ashes.  Overton finished the highest and perhaps has the highest individual proportion of an innings as the scorecard of Cook, Stoneman, Root, Malan, Stokes, Bairstow, Ali, Woakes, Overton, Broad, Anderson reads :   5,11,0,2,0,0,0,5,33,0,1.  Trent Boult has figures of 10.4-3-32-6; Tim Southee 10-3-25-4.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Mar 2018.

Google honours woman researcher on radioactivity on seawater with a doodle

Most days begin with Google and today Google is honouring a woman scientist who did pioneering work in her field – and then inspired many more like herself to do the same – with a doodle.

Rich people travel to isolated destinations enjoying nature ~ Bikini Atoll is an atoll** in the Marshall Islands which consists of 23 islands totalling 3.4 square miles (8.8 km2) surrounding a 229.4-square-mile (594.1 km2) central lagoon. Bikini and Eneu are the only islands of the atoll that hosted a permanent population. Bikini Island is the northeastern most and largest islet. Before World War II, the atoll was known by its German name, Eschscholtz Atoll.
Pic credit :

Operation Castle was a United States series of high-yield (high-energy) nuclear tests by Joint Task Force 7 (JTF-7) at Bikini Atoll beginning in March 1954. It followed Operation Upshot–Knothole and preceded Operation Teapot. Conducted as a joint venture between the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Department of Defense (DoD), the ultimate objective of the operation was to test designs for an aircraft-deliverable thermonuclear weapon.

Operation Castle was considered by government officials to be a success as it proved the feasibility of deployable "dry" fuel designs for thermonuclear weapons. However, one test in particular, Castle Bravo, resulted in extensive radiological contamination of nearby islands (including inhabitants and U.S. soldiers stationed there), as well as a nearby Japanese fishing boat (the Daigo Fukuryū Maru), resulting in one direct fatality, and then continued health problems for many of those exposed. Public reaction to the tests and an awareness of the long-range effects of nuclear fallout has been attributed as being part of the motivation for the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

After the Bikini Atoll nuclear tests in 1954, the Japanese government asked the Geochemical Laboratory to analyze and monitor radioactivity in the seawater and in rainfall.  A Japanese fishing trawler had been downwind from the tests at the time they occurred, and its occupants became ill from the effects. The woman of the day - Saruhashi found that it took a year and a half for the radioactivity to reach Japan in the seawater. Today’s google doodle honours that woman who helped clean the seas of nuclear bombs.  Saruhashi's commitment to inspiring other women scientists was as remarkable as the work she did herself.

Katsuko Saruhashi, a Japanese scientist did pioneering work in her field – and then inspired many more like herself to do the same. Saruhashi's list of achievements is vast and wide. Chief among them is work she did to test how nuclear fallout was moving in the seas, and use it to show that tests of nuclear explosions in the ocean should be limited. But Saruhashi's achievements weren't only scientific, and the list of work that others went on to do as a result of her inspiration is even longer. She also worked incredibly hard to ensure that other women got a chance to make the breakthroughs she did, explaining that it was her mission to make the field she worked in more equal.

"“There are many women who have the ability to become great scientists," she said. "I would like to see the day when women can contribute to science & technology on an equal footing with men.” Her work in that area has been recognised with, among many others things, a prize named in her honour. When she retired in 1980, her colleagues gave her five million yen – and she used that money to establish the Association for the Bright Future of Women Scientists, which has rewarded Japanese women scientists working in the natural scientists with a prize every year since.

Today on her 98th birthday, Google pays  tribute to Dr. Katsuko Saruhashi for ‘her incredible contributions to science, and for inspiring young scientists everywhere to succeed," it wrote on its page. Before she did the work she would go on to be remembered for, Saruhashi was already breaking through barriers. She was the first woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Tokyo in 1957, for instance, and she would continue such achievements by becoming the first woman to win a prestigious geochemistry award.  The specific work that was to define her scientific life was begun after the US started testing nuclear weapons at Bikini Atoll. In response to that, the Japanese government wanted to know whether exploding the warheads was affecting the water in the ocean and in rainfall, and commissioned the Geochemical Laboratory, where she worked, to analyse that.

She made use of the understanding of accurately measuring water but turned it to explore the way nuclear fallout spread through the water. She found that the pollution was taking a long time to make its way through the ocean – but that eventually it would spread out and mix with the water, moving across the world. It was those findings and others like it that helped contribute towards stopping the test of nuclear warheads in the ocean. And it was some of the first work that explored the way that nuclear fallout spreads over the world – a field that would go on to become terrifyingly relevant in accidents like those at Chernobyl or Fukushima.   Saruhashi would go on to explore the other dangers posed by rain and water, including work on acid rain. 

The word atoll**  comes from the Dhivehi (an Indo-Aryan language spoken on the Maldive Islands) word atholhu,  meaning an administrative subdivision.  Oxford English Dictionary’s first recorded use in English was in 1625 as atollon – Charles Darwin recognized its indigenous origin and coined, in his The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, the definition of atolls as "circular groups of coral islets" that is synonymous with "lagoon-island".

Interesting woman !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Mar 2018.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

pitiful end to the escaped animals of Tbilis Zoo ~ white Tiger shot at and killed

The white tiger is a pigmentation variant of the Bengal tiger. Rewa was a Princely State, famous for its white tigers, the first one, nicknamed Mohan, was caught in Rewa. In contrast to what some believe, the White Tiger is neither a subspecies in its own right, nor an albino form of a ‘normal’ tiger. Rather, it is simply a rare form of Bengal Tiger that possesses a specific gene, giving it a lighter appearance. This variation is truly exquisite, giving the White Tiger an undeniable sense of mystery and beauty. The scientific name of the White Tiger is Pantheratigris, and some say it is a result of inbreeding.
Photo credit

I have recently posted on animals escapade following flash floods in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.  Heavy rains and wind hit Tbilisi  turning a normally small stream that runs through the hilly city into a surging river. The flooding damaged houses.  Cars and debris were seen floating along the once busy streets – and wild animals reportedly were roaming on the streets, having escaped from the Zoo.

Not any happy ending but a pitiful one for – those escaped  Bears, tigers and wolves were seen dead with carcasses littering on the filthy streets of Tbilisi.  Only the darted hippo made it safe.  Burials had to be hastily prepared  for bears, tigers and wolves that all lay in the mud of the Georgian capital.  Flash flooding in the Georgian capital had destroyed the animal's enclosures at Tbilisi zoo and turned it into a 'hellish whirlpool', leaving them free to roam the streets in scenes reminiscent of a Hollywood disaster movie.  Later when the clean-up operations  began – they had only  to clear the carcasses of bears, tigers and wolves that all lay in a heap in the murky sludge of the capital city's streets. Animals lying in the sludge was a ghastly sight. 

Residents had been warned to stay indoors and particularly away from the area next to the zoo as a number of wild beasts werel unaccounted for, with fears they could be wandering the hills of the Georgian capital.  The Zoo was trying to determine what had happened to four lions, three tigers and one jaguar and host of other animals that escaped.  Helicopters continued to circle the city hunting for big game to track down the hungry and dangerous animals.  The flooding also killed about 60 of 300 homeless dogs at a private shelter near the zoo, shelter staff said.

A hippopotamus was seen on the roads – it was tranquilized, cornered and later taken to its confines.  Other animals were not so lucky.  The Zoo authorities also requested public not to resort to shooting of animals when sighted, unless the predators were seen attacking people.  A spokesperson of the Zoo said 20 wolves, eight lions and an unspecified number of tigers, jackals, bears and jaguars had been shot dead or were still missing from the zoo. 'Only three out of our 17 penguins were saved,' she added.Six wolves were shot dead at a children's hospital, as a bear was seen clinging on for life on an air conditioning unit of a second floor building above a flooded street. 

The heavy rain that lashed the city turned the Vereriver that flows through the hilly city into a surging river that swept away cars and buildings, flooded squares and damaged power lines.Several main roads were destroyed and half a dozen coffins in a city cemetery were washed out of the ground.  Rescue workers were searching submerged buildings to check for trapped residents and the clean-up operation resumed with people working together to dig out cars wedged in the mud and clear the carcasses of the fallen beasts. It is estimated the floods have caused £6.5million worth of damage. 

Prague Zoo, which suffered from the devastating flooding that hit the Czech capital in 2002 and again in 2013,  reportedlysent a team to Tbilisi volunteering help.  To add to the chaos, oneof the tigers that escaped during devastating floods, killed a man in front of horrified passers-by after four days on the loose.News of the death followed claims  that all the big cats from the city’s zoo had been found dead.The Interior Ministry said police shot the tiger dead after it attacked a group of men earlier today, killing one and injuring another.

It was a white tiger, a big one. It attacked a man, it seized him by the throat,” a witness told Georgia's Imedi channel.  The white tiger had escaped detection by hiding at an abandoned factory,a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said.  The animal was initially reported to be a lion.  The victim, named locally as OtarTsukhishvili, was mauled to death when he entered a warehouse where the animal had hidden for 3 days.   Another victim, who survived, was bitten on his arm as other people ran from the warehouse in a panic.  More panic was to follow after Rustavi-2 TV channel reported calls from locals that a hyena was on the loose in the city.

It was a distressing sight of the killed animal, and municipal workers dragging out of mud many other animals which had died and were in mud inundated waters. Meanwhile, an African penguin that escaped from the zoo is believed to have been found in neighbouring Azerbaijan after swimming 30 miles along the river from Tbilisi.  A large crocodile found under a pile of wood and debris was hauled to safety.

Zookeepers say that of the roughly 600 animals in their care, more than half had perished in a 'hellish whirlpool' or died at the hands of the authorities.It remains unclear how many were shot dead by police and in some cases by general public, but they include lions, tigers and wolves; and in some cases, there was no real need for killing them. This hippo survived though !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th June 2015.

the button-less lifts of South Glasgow Univ Hospital

The South Glasgow University Hospital is one of the biggest critical care complexes in Europe.  It is nicknamed the "Death Star" by locals because of its imposing 14-storey star-shaped design, topped by a landing pad for aircraft.  The hospital cost £842m but the medical equipment inside has brought the final total closer to £1bn. The project was funded by the Scottish government.  The new campus is built on the site of the old Southern General in Govan in the south west of the city.  It will house a new 1,109-bed adult hospital and a 256-bed children's hospital.  Every patient in the general wards in the 14-floor hospital will have their own single room with an en-suite and views out across the campus. Demolition of the old Southern General surgical block will begin in the summer and be completed by the middle of 2016.

It is stated that patients from the old Victoria Infirmary and the nearby Mansionhouse Unit will begin the move to the new hospital in May.  The good point is that  leaflets are proposed to be delivered to every household affected, outlining the changes to A&E provision.   The hospital features interactive displays for children developed in collaboration with the Glasgow Science Centre, along with a cinema and roof garden in the children's wing. Patients enter the main hospital through a dramatic atrium which stretches up the entire height of the building. There are self-service check-in machines, and nearly all of the 1,100 beds have their own room, with an en-suite bathroom and views out over the city. A  fleet of robots deliver linen and other goods via a network of underground tunnels.  The new hospital has not been without its problems.  Staff say there are not enough car parking spaces and there have been claims that there are not enough beds, despite its huge size.

The first outpatients  are tobe treated sooner – there has been also news that the new hospital ran out of water just days after admitting its first patients.  Reports state that Inpatients, who were only transferred at the weekend, were left without hot or cold water in the new South Glasgow University Hospital.   Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jenny Mara insisted that the issues should have been resolved before doors opened to the public.  A Scottish Government spokesman added: “We have been assured by the health board that temporary measures were put in place and that the storage tanks have been filled and normal supplies resumed.”

More interesting is this report in MailOnline which states that -  “visitors to £1billion Glasgow super-hospital get stuck in the lifts... because they have no buttons inside”- sounds strange for a state-of- the-art building that cinema, robots and ....button-less lifts !!!!

Visitors to a £1billion new super-hospital keep getting trapped in the lifts - because they have no buttons inside. The futuristic new 14-storey South Glasgow University Hospital opened to patients last month featuring robots, a children's cinema and lifts without buttons to try and bring 'healthcare into the 21st century.'  But it appears the ultra-modern facility appears to be ultra-confusing for many staff and patients who claim they have spent 'what seems like days' trapped in the speeding elevators.  One hospital worker said: 'It's an amazing building but I've spent the majority of my time in the lift so far - as have a lot of people.

Finding one’s way up appears confusing.   'I had to go just one floor up, not long after arriving. I jumped into the lift without pressing the button and was lost for nearly half an hour!  'The staff will get used to it, but it catches newcomers to the building out time and time again.'  The issue arises from the fact that the new modern new lifts which will only travel to pre-selected floors. Anyone jumping in without pressing a floor number first may be stuck for quite some time.

It has become such an issue that NHS bosses have now enlisted staff and volunteers to explain how to use them properly.  There are even animated films to help people figure out how to negotiate the new building. Nicknamed the 'Death Star' by locals because of its giant 14-storey star-shaped design, the £1 billion hospital was funded by the Scottish Government.

The lifts are just one aspect of a futuristic design that also sees the hospital boast self-service check-in machines, a children's cinema and a fleet of robots delivering linen and other goods via a network of tunnels.  A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde defended the new lifts, but acknowledged it may take time for people to get used to them. She said: 'These lifts have been chosen because they offer the best way to get our patients to their chosen floor as quickly as possible.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claimed the state-of-the-art South Glasgow University Hospital –featuring a fleet of robots delivering linen, a children's cinema and helicopter landing pad – proved the SNP's commitment to the NHS when it opened last month.  It also comes amid growing pressure on English hospitals' finances, amid warnings of a financial 'black hole'. 

It sounds amazing concept and technology to have buttonless lifts !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

11th May 2015.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Kumbakonam tragedy and attempt to make money out of misery

That gory  incident took place on 16 July 2004 in a Middle School around 10 am when the noon meal was being prepared in the school kitchen that had a thatched roof. The roof caught fire when a spark from the burning firewood fell on it and spread to the thatched roof of the classroom where several children were studying ! – sure you have read those details and sadness.
Greenery of Kumbakonam

Kumbakonam, is located 40 km (25 mi) from Thanjavur and 273 km (170 mi) from Chennai. The town is bounded by two rivers, the Kaveri River to the north and Arasalar River to the south. Kumbakonam is known as a "temple town" due to the prevalence of a number of temples here and is noted for its Mahamaham festival which attracts people from all over the globe.  Kumbakonam dates back to the Sangam period and was ruled by the Early Cholas, Pallavas, Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, Madurai Nayaks, Thanjavur Nayaks and the Thanjavur Marathas. It rose to be a prominent city between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, when it served as a capital of the Medieval Cholas.

That sad and infamy of 2004 fire in a middle school reportedly killed 94 students of primary section and brought to fore the unsafe conditions in which some schools had been functioning.  A committee setup under a retired Judge found out that the heavy casualty was the false tactics of the management to bring the other two school students to the aided primary school to mislead the inspecting authorities about the student-teacher ratio. The Chief Minister who visited the site, ordered the withdrawal of the recognition of the three schools, prosecution of the school authorities and the correspondent, suspension of the Chief Educational Officer, the District Elementary Educational Officer and the Assistant Elementary Educational Officer of Thanjavur school district. A compensation of one lakh was provided to the kins of the victims, 25,000 to the severely injured and 10,000 to other injured from the Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund.

The trial of the case started after a long delay in Sept  2012 in the Thanjavur district sessions court. The case had 21 accused and had 488 witnesses that included 18 children affected in the accident. Thanjavur district sessions court sentenced school founder to life imprisonment and fined 51,65,700. Ten others including school staff and officials from the Kumbakonam municipality and education department of the state were sentenced to five year imprisonment. Eleven accused, including three teachers were released from the case.

There are people who try to make money out of disaster and other people’s agony too ~ and this report in Times of India and other media makes a sad reading :  

The families of the 49 children killed in the 2004 Kumbakonam school fire tragedy have approached the Madras high court alleging that their counsel had withdrawn 2.30 lakh each — amounting to nearly 1.12 crore — from the compensation given to them by the state government.  Admitting the pleas, a division bench of justices R Mahadevan and V Parthiban warned the advocate, S Tamilarasan, of dire consequences and suggested that he repay the money to the victims before it passed an order. The court then posted the matter for hearing on April 9.

According to U Marimuthu, one of the petitioners, after a delay of nearly 10 years by the state, the HC ordered the government to award compensation ranging from 5 lakh to 8 lakh to the parents of the victims along with interest. On December 21, 2016, the compensation was deposited in Marimuthu’s bank account. But a few weeks ago, advocate S Tamilarasan, who represented them in the high court, came to Kumbakonam and summoned all the parents. He obtained two undated blank cheques and signed blank papers from each of the claimants.

Thereafter, to his shock and surprise Marimuthu received a message from the bank on December 22 saying that 2.30 lakh had been deducted from his account. He rushed to the bank and found to his dismay that counsel had misused the blank cheques and diverted the money in his name and in the names of other such victims. Claiming that the act of the advocate was illegal, high-handed, fraudulent and breach of the trust of the claimants, the petitioner said each of the claimants had already paid 3,500 towards his professional fees totalling to 3.5 lakh. How sad !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th Mar 2018.

Monday, March 19, 2018

law of triviality ~ difference between big and small crime !!

Punjab National Bank (PNB) was at  the centre of a $1.8 billion fraud - one of the largest to be detected across the Indian banking sector. The statement that it had detected some “fraudulent and unauthorised transactions (messages)”,  might sound  innocuous – but the quantum is disclosed to be several crores.  We have heard of many scams, speak, debate on them, till next one gets unearthed and slowly forget them………. How many of us still remember Bofors, and Fairfax…. !!  ~ one has lost track and wonders how many cases have been taken to logical end and how many got convicted ?  Perhaps, in the present regime, we have not heard of any such scams ~ though there have been so many during the dynasty rule !! 

For those of you born later, here are some, which you may not have heard of !!  ~ in 1948 there was the ‘Jeep scandal’  the then Indian high commissioner to Britain, ignored protocols and signed a Rs 80 lakh contract for the purchase of army jeeps with a foreign firm.  A decade and half later, came the Mundhra scandal that exposed the nexus between the Bureaucracy, stock market speculators and small rogue businessmen. It also brought to light rifts between the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his son-in-law Feroze Gandhi, and also led to the resignation of India's then finance minister T. T. Krishnamachari.  In 1971 it was ‘Nagarwala scandal’ in which a person convinced a banker withdrawal of 60 lakhs from the branch of the State Bank of India. Nagarwala called Malhotra at the State Bank of India, imitating voice of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stating that he  immediately needed Rs 60 lakhs reportedly for a secret mission for Bangladesh.  ~ all those are buried and forgotten !!

Anniyan [literally Stranger] had a great theme – conceptually it was the guilty being punished… through the character of an innocent and honest lawyer.  One powerful dialogue penned by the Great Sujatha became an instant hit – but remembered more of a comedy… it was - “Anju paisa thiruduna thappaa? (Is stealing of five paise is wrong)” ~ it is not that 5 paise but the act of stealing and the impact is not that of that single act – but that of attitude – when lakhs of people all steal 5 paise – the effect is manifold and corruption is the biggest disease that afflicts the Nation. 

So does ‘triviality’ matter indeed ??  ~ the noun would mean something that is not important:  the state of not being important.  It would also mean : lack of seriousness or importance; insignificance; an insignificant detail; a trifle.

"an over-concentration on trivialities" – was reported in Civil Appeal no. 18799/2017 in Union of India &Ors. Vs. Amit Singh before the Apex Court of India.  The respondent was terminated from service on the basis of information gathered, on verification of the antecedents. Though it was done after three years of entering service, it was found that the respondent had been involved in a criminal case.   According to the learned counsel for the respondent, it was a trivial issue between the friends in a cricket match and hence the same was compounded by the learned Magistrate.  The contention was that information given to the employer by a candidate as to conviction, acquittal or arrest, or pendency of a criminal case, whether before or after entering into service must be true and there should be no suppression or false mention of required information.

Parkinson's law of triviality contends that  members of an organisation give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.  The  example cited was that  of a fictional committee whose job was to approve the plans for a nuclear power plant spending the majority of its time on discussions about relatively minor but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bike shed, while neglecting the proposed design of the plant itself, which is far more important and a far more difficult and complex task. The law has been applied to software development and other activities. The term bike-shed effect or bike-shedding was coined as a metaphor to illuminate the law of triviality. 

Now read this newsitem that appeared in Times of India – Chennai edition - Departmental action was  initiated against a government bus conductor in Chennai after a checking squad found a difference of 1 between the value of tickets sold by him and the amount collected. K Siva, a conductor from Aynavaram depot, said he had mistakenly given a new 2 coin instead of 1to a passenger in a crowded MTC bus.

Siva on that evening, was issuing tickets to passengers on a bus to Pudur from Villivakkam, when a ticket checking squad boarded the vehicle near Madhanakuppam. The team found a woman passenger travelling without ticket worth 7. When asked, she told the checking inspectors she had handed over the fare to Siva, but he did not issue her the ticket. Inspectors checked the Traffic Record (TR), which carries details about the number of tickets sold and collection made. “If their claims were right, the amount collected through sale of tickets should have exceed the value of tickets sold. But it fell short by just one rupee,” said Siva. “I gave a two rupee coin to one of the passengers instead of one rupee coin by mistake. It is difficult to differentiate it by size in a crowded bus in which a conductor is expected to issue tickets within a few seconds,” he added.

Authorities, however, handed him a memo  for not issuing a ticket to a passenger and for the collection falling short. The conductor was instructed not to report to work until the inquiry was over. In a separate incident, a MTC driver from Kundrathur depot was suspended for using mobile phone while driving based on a passenger’s complaint.

Does that sound too trivial or a right and justified action ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Mar 2018