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Monday, December 6, 2021

brazen politics of Myanmar !

The Sun never sets in British empire – they thundered but by mid 1940s, there was decolonization – in India, Gandhi got us freedom without bloodshed and Jawaharlal Nehru became the Prime Minister – around this time, many countries without Gandhi & Nehru too got freedom and the Union flag was lowered in ceremonies. 

No post on Indian freedom struggle – but one on contemporary happenings in our neighbouring Country – and about the female politician who has now been found guilty on charges of inciting dissent and breaking Covid rules under a natural disasters law.  She spent nearly 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010 and World projected her to be peace icon though many inside the country saw her otherwise. Despite her landslide victory in 2015, the Nation’s  constitution forbade her from becoming president because her children were foreign nationals.

The Nation is Burma .. ..  some would remember reading in History books of Aung San, a revolutionary who was instrumental in Burma getting freedom.  Aung San was the founder of the Myanmar Armed Forces, and is considered the Father of the Nation of modern-day Myanmar. He was instrumental in Burma's independence from British rule, but was assassinated just six months before his goal was realized.Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Aung San fled Burma to solicit support from Chinese communists but was recruited by Suzuki Keiji, a Japanese army intelligence officer stationed in Thailand, who promised support. Aung San recruited a small core of Burmese revolutionaries later known as the Thirty Comrades and left for Japan. During the Japanese occupation of Burma, he served as the minister of war in the Japan-backed State of Burma led by Dr. Ba Maw. As the tide turned against Japan, he switched sides and merged his forces with the Allies to fight against the Japanese. After World War II, he negotiated Burmese independence from Britain in the Aung San-Attlee agreement.



Years later, his  daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, rose to prominence in politics.  She was Burma's State Counsellor and its 20th (and first female) Minister of Foreign Affairs in Win Myint's Cabinet until the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état.  It is all about - Myanmar, also known as Burma, is in South East Asia.   The biggest city is Yangon (Rangoon), but the capital is Nay Pyi Taw.The main religion is Buddhism. There are many ethnic groups in the country, including Rohingya Muslims.The country gained independence from Britain in 1948. It was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until 2011, when a new government began ushering in a return to civilian rule.

Aung San Suu Kyi was  once seen as a beacon for human rights - a principled activist who gave up her freedom to challenge the ruthless army generals who ruled Myanmar for decades.In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, while still under house arrest, and hailed as "an outstanding example of the power of the powerless".In 2015, she led her National League for Democracy (NLD) to victory in Myanmar's first openly contested election in 25 years. But she was deposed by a coup in 2021 when the military took control and arrested her and the political leadership around her.

The ruling military changed the country's name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. The two words mean the same thing but Myanmar is the more formal version.Some countries, including the UK, initially refused to use the name as a way of denying the regime's legitimacy.The military is now back in charge and has declared a year-long state of emergency.It seized control on 1 February 2021  following a general election which Ms Suu Kyi's NLD party won by a landslide.

The peace icon’s  reputation abroad was severely damaged by the way she handled the Rohingya crisis, which started in 2017.In 2019 Ms Suu Kyi appeared at the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) to defend her country against accusations of genocide.  Today comes the news that ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to four years in prison, the first in a series of verdicts that could jail her for life.She was found guilty on charges of inciting dissent and breaking Covid rules under a natural disasters law.Ms Suu Kyi faces 11 charges in total, which have been widely condemned as unjust. She has denied all charges.The 76-year-old has been slapped with an array of charges, including multiple counts of corruption and violating the official secrets act.In one case Ms. Suu Kyi was convicted of violating Covid restrictions for waving at a group of supporters during last year's election campaign while wearing a mask and face shield.In the other she was found guilty of inciting unrest for a statement calling for public opposition to the coup put out by her party after she had already been taken into custody.

She has been under house arrest since a military coup in February which toppled her elected civilian government.It is not clear when or if Ms Suu Kyi will be placed in prison.Co-defendant Win Myint, the former president and Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party ally, was also jailed on Monday for four years under the same charges.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th Dec 2021. 

Election 161 years ago |! Boden Prof of Sanskrit at University of Oxford

In school curriculum – languages, we with curiosity heard of ‘Rama Shabdam’.  Shabda,  is the Sanskrit word for "speech sound” referring to an utterance in the sense of linguistic performance. the grammarian Katyayana stated that shabda ("speech") is eternal (nitya), as is artha "meaning", and that they share a mutual co-relation.   Sad, my acquaintance with ‘Sanskrit’ was too short lived !  .. .. BUT do you know or imagine the importance ‘Sanskrit’ was accorded by the Westerners !! – and the relevance to an election held this day, 161 years ago !



The Sheldonian Theatre, located in Oxford, England, was built from 1664 to 1669 after a design by Christopher Wren for the University of Oxford. The building is named after Gilbert Sheldon, chancellor of the University at the time and the project's main financial backer. It is used for music concerts, lectures and University ceremonies, but not for drama until 2015 when the Christ Church Dramatic Society staged a production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

This post is all about the election held on   7 December 1860 in the Sheldonian Theatre. Three special trains were run  between Didcot and Oxford that afternoon to enable passengers travelling from the west of England, and one additional train was provided between Oxford and London via Didcot in the evening. A London-bound train from the north of England called additionally at Bletchley to allow onward connections to Oxford for passengers from places such as Liverpool, Manchester and Birkenhead.  Over about five and a half hours of voting, 833 members of Congregation declared for Williams, 610 for Müller. – Guess what was this about ??

Although five men indicated their intent to seek the chair, two persons contested the election - Monier Williams and Max Müller. Williams (known later in life as Sir Monier Monier-Williams) was the son of an army officer and was born in India. He studied briefly at Balliol College, Oxford, before training at Haileybury for the civil service in India. The death of his brother in battle in India led to him to return to Oxford to complete his degree. He also studied Sanskrit with Wilson before teaching this and other languages at Haileybury from 1844 until 1858, when it closed following the Indian rebellion. He prepared an English–Sanskrit dictionary, at Wilson's prompting, which the East India Company published in 1851; his Sanskrit–English dictionary was supported by the Secretary of State for India.

The election in 1860 for the position of Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford was a competition between two candidates offering different approaches to Sanskrit scholarship. One was Monier Williams, an Oxford-educated Englishman who had spent 14 years teaching Sanskrit to those preparing to work in British India for the East India Company. The other, Max Müller, was a German-born lecturer at Oxford specialising in comparative philology, the science of language. He had spent many years working on an edition of the Rig Veda (an ancient collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns)and had gained an international reputation for his scholarship. Williams regarded the study of Sanskrit as a means to an end, namely the conversion of India to Christianity. In Müller’s opinion, his own work, while it would assist missionaries, was also valuable as an end in itself.

The election came at a time of public debate about Britain's role in India in the wake of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Opinions were divided on whether greater efforts should be made to convert India or whether to remain sensitive to local culture and traditions. Both men battled for the votes of the electorate (the Convocation of the university, consisting of over 3,700 graduates) through manifestos and newspaper correspondence. Williams laid great stress in his campaign on the intention of the original founder of the chair, that the holder should assist in converting India through dissemination of the Christian scriptures. Müller's view was that his work on the Rig Veda was of great value for missionary work, and published testimonials accordingly. He also wanted to teach wider subjects such as Indian history and literature to assist missionaries, scholars, and civil servants – a proposal that Williams criticised as not in accordance with the original benefactor's wishes. The rival campaigns took out newspaper advertisements and circulated manifestos, and different newspapers backed each man. Although generally regarded as superior to Williams in scholarship, Müller had the double disadvantage (in the eyes of some) of being German and having liberal Christian views. Some of the newspaper pronouncements in favour of Williams were based on a claimed national interest of having an Englishman as Boden professor to assist with the work of governing and converting India.

As of 2017, the professorship is still in existence, and is now the last remaining Sanskrit professorship in the United Kingdom. The position of Boden professor at the University of Oxford was established by the bequest of Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Boden of the Bombay Native Infantry, who died in 1811. His will provided that on the death of his daughter (which occurred in 1827), his estate should pass to the university to fund a Sanskrit professorship. His purpose was to convert the people of Indiato Christianity "by disseminating a knowledge of the Sacred scriptures among them".An editorial in the British national newspaper The Times in 1860 said that the professorship was "one of the most important, most influential, and most widely known institutions at Oxford, not to say in the whole civilised world. It paid between £900 and £1,000 per year for life.

Williams was Boden professor until his death in 1899, although he retired from teaching (while retaining the title) in 1887 because of his health. He took as the title for his inaugural lecture "The Study of Sanskrit in Relation to Missionary Work", in keeping with his views as to the role of the chair. He received a knighthood in 1886, and was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1887, when he changed his surname to become Sir Monier Monier-Williams.

For  Max  Müller, losing the election was "a decisive turning point in his scholarly and intellectual life", according to Chaudhuri. It meant that Müller was never to teach Sanskrit at Oxford, although he remained there until his death in 1900; nor did he ever visit India. Greatly disappointed by not winning the chair, Müller "regularly avoided or snubbed Monier Williams and his family on the streets of Oxford", according to Williams.

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Boden, after whom the professorship in Sanskrit at the University of Oxford is named, served in the Bombay Native Infantry of the East India Company from 1781 until his retirement in 1807. He moved to Lisbon, Portugal, for the sake of his health, and died there in  1811. His daughter Elizabeth died in 1827, and Boden's will provided that his estate should then pass to the University of Oxford to establish a professorship in Sanskrit. His purpose, as set out in his will dated 15 August 1811, was to convert the peoples of India to Christianity "by disseminating a knowledge of the Sacred scriptures among them".

Christopher Zand Minkowski, an American academic, has been Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford since 2005. His writings include Priesthood in Ancient India (1991) as well as articles on Vedic religion and literature and the modern intellectual history of southern Asia.

Interesting ! ~ the way UK recognized Sanskrit and tried using its rich treasures for conversion of Hindus !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th Dec 2021. 

Saluting the genius of Sonam Wangchuk !

The Bharat Ratna is India’s highest civilian award which is conferred to people in recognition of their exceptional service in any field – the list of recipients has more than fair share of political leaders starting from Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari,  Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Lalbahadur Shastri,  Pant, Vallabhai Patel (not the full list); from tinseldom like Satyajit Ray, Lata Mangeshkar, Economist Amartya Sen; Scientists CV Raman, Visweswaraiah, Abdul Kalam, C Subramanian, CNR Rao, JRD Tata and couple of foreigners like Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela – one would expect that the recipients have changed the way of Indian society .. .. that way how foreigners ! – and the list has Sachin Tendulkar too .. .. 


I am never a big fan of Cinema – do see comedy scenes .. .. always get bamboozled by the punch dialogues and heroic portrayal of short heroes beating scores of people.  That is not the issue here – am more than  a bit confused – somewhere the Society and its thinking went wrong – instead of immortalizing National heroes, the society started patronizing Cricketers and cine stars.  For example is this movie that ran well, but showed no credits of the man on whom it was based -  should one positively appreciate the Director and Hero for portraying such a great person or should they be condemned still for not bringing ‘the real hero’ – all credit.  How many (what %) of fans who adored 3 Idiots / Nanban would recognize the real hero behind that film !!!  

Ladakh is a trans-Himalayan mountain desert in the extreme north of India with villages located at 2,700m to 4,000m altitudes. It is a cold desert with winter temperatures touching -30° C, and an average annual rain/snow fall of only 100 mm. Human settlements are almost always located around glacial streams which feed into the Indus and other rivers as tributaries. The key to human settlement in this cold desert is the art of diverting water from the streams through meticulously built canals toward deserts to grow crops like barley, wheat, vegetables and trees like apricots, apples, willow and popular.  

The man, the real hero,  was born in 1966 in Uleytokpo, near Alchi in the Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir. He was not enrolled in a school until the age of 9 year as there weren’t any schools in his village. His mother taught him all the basics in his own mother tongue till that age, contrary to what others would say, he considers himself lucky to have been spared the pains of schooling in alien languages which other children are forced to !!!  it is stated that  he looked different compared to the other students,  would get addressed in a language that he did not understand; his lack of responsiveness was mistaken for  being stupid.   Years later, he was to complete his  B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology (then REC), Srinagar in 1987.  

Solar water heating (SWH) is heating water by sunlight, using a solar thermal collector.  

Nanban directed by Shankar, starring Vijay, Jiva, Srikanth, Sathyan and Sathyaraj was a good entertainer;  it was a remake of ‘3 idiots’.  The knot of the movie was all about education – how the most studious behave and how not so good in class are ill-treated.  Years later after college days, Of the trio, Venkat becomes a successful wildlife photographer, Senthil, gets married and settles happily in a  middle class life; they set out to find their classmate Panchavan Pari around whom there is lot of mystery.  Sathyan that first bench boy turns wealthy and successful pro owning a company – comes down  looking to seal a deal with Kosaksi Pasapugazh, a famous scientist and prospective business associate.  They find out that Panchavan Parivendan is altogether different  - at  Dhanushkodi, they end up meeting Kosaksi Pasapugazh, who of course is none other than Pari ! ~ for our hero is much much greater ….  

The man we should be talking about, photographed at the start  and about whom the 2nd and 3rd para of this post is all about - Sonam Wangchuk  is an engineer, innovator and education reformist. Of his many inventions,   the Ice Stupa technique that creates artificial glaciers, used for storing winter water in form of conical shaped ice heap, got him the precious Rolex award.   

Recently, Sonam Wangchuk shared the pictures on her Twitter handle and shared the features of Solar Heated Insulated Ladakhi (Shila) Shelter. This innovation of Sonam was shared by the Fire and Fury Corps of the Army saying that it is the first of its kind in forward areas.  


No risk of fire, no possibility of power outage. No pollution. Zero emission of carbon. In Chushul and other forward areas adjoining LAC in eastern Ladakh, the army has got wonderful accommodation dependent on solar energy. In these areas of high mountainous Ladakh these days the temperature outside is minus 20 degrees, while the mercury remains only 15 degrees inside due to the use of solar energy.This shelter has been prepared and handed over to the army by the institute of its real hero Sonam Wangchuk. In these shelters, the heat from the sun’s rays is stopped from going back out. The heat of the day works to keep the interior warm throughout the night.  

Salutes to you Sir – Sonam Wangchuk is the Bharat’s Biggest Ratna. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th Dec 2021. 

a big win for India at Wankhede

At Wankhede, Newzealand folded this morning without much fight and in someways that was more expected .. .. it still baffles why Kohli choose not to enforce follow-on and if he had, perhaps the result would have been obtained much earlier and perhaps easier too. 

Overall India has played New Zealand in 62 tests and have won 22 times.  At Home – it is 36 tests and a win of 17.

When young, remember that test at Auckland in Jan 1976 when India scored a facile win.  Dilip Vengsarkar, Surinder Amarnath and Syed Kirmani debuted.  Sunil Gavaskar was the make-shift Captain. Surinder made a century on debut but played only 10 tests for India, while Kirmani played 88 and Vengsarkar 116 tests.  That victory abroad was enabled by some brilliant spin of Bhagwat Chandrasekhar 6/94 in the first and Erapalli Prasanna’s 8/76 in the second.  However, in the 3rd test of the tour, Indians were bowled out for 81 with Richard Hadlee taking 7/23.

India achieved victory over Kiwis back in Dec 1955 at Mumbai  - hosts made 421/8 with Vinoo Mankad scoring a double century.  Kiwis followed on making 258 & 136 – losing by  an innings and 27 runs.   Batting for nearly eight hours, Mankad hit twenty-two 4's.  that time too, it was a spinner Subash  Gupte, who turned his leg-breaks appreciably.

This 2nd test at Wankhede that ended today would be remembered for Mayank Agarwal’s 150 & 62; NZ bowled out for 62 in first   (Ashwin 4-8, Siraj 3-19) and 167 ( Ashwin 4-34, Jayant 4-49)  - a loss margin of 372 runs, some reckless batting by Ross Taylor and more than everything that 10 wicket haul of Ajaz Patel.

Any hopes of NZ making some fight or staying longer was wiped out with Jayant Yadav striking   thrice in the first half hour of the fourth morning and four times in nine legal deliveries to finish with career-best figures of 4 for 49, as India wrapped up their biggest win in terms of runs - 372 - and also handed New Zealand their biggest loss. The result sealed the series 1-0 for the hosts who  regained the No. 1 spot in ICC Test rankings, with New Zealand on second place now. 



The not much heralded Ajaz Patel ended up savouring every moment with a match haul of 14 for 225, becoming the best figures in any test ending up on the losing side. Our own  Javagal Srinath previously held the record with 13 for 132 against Pakistan in Kolkata in 1999. The previous best innings figures in a losing cause were 9 for 83 by Kapil Dev against West Indies in 1983 – and in that Ahmedabad test, it was a great bowling effort and a very meek surrender by Indian batsmen.

372 is too huge – this is the   biggest win-margin in terms of runs in Tests for India.  The 337-run win against South Africa in Delhi in 2015 was the  previous biggest win in this format. The 372-run loss is also New Zealand's biggest defeat by runs, leaving behind the 358-run trounce from South Africa in Johannesburg in 2007.. .. .. as records tumbled, Ravichandran Ashwin added one more.  He has now taken 300 test wickets at home – following Anil Kumble.  Only 5 bowlers have scalped more than 300+ test wickets in their home country.

An Indian win, yet not the best or not the one that fills the heart of Indian fan.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
6th Dec 2021.