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Monday, October 18, 2021

Colin Powell - the face of US in Iraq war is no more !!

          The man became an instant hero as he made  his presentation making the case for war with Iraq at the United Nations on February 5, 2003.

He  noted that Iraq harbored a terrorist network headed by al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (in a small region controlled by Ansar al-Islam). He also claimed that Iraqis visited Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and provided training to al-Qaeda members.  As much criticism as Powell received for this — he’s called it “painful” and something that will “always be a part of my record” — it hasn’t been close to what’s justified. The man who  was secretary of state under President George W. Bush, was much more than just horribly mistaken: He fabricated “evidence” and ignored repeated warnings that what he was saying was false.

Unfortunately, Congress never investigated his use of the intelligence he was given, so public did not  know many of the specifics. Even so, what did reach the public record in other ways is extremely damning.  My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.  

Colin Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants who became a US war hero and the first Black secretary of state but saw his legacy tarnished when he made the case for war in Iraq in 2003, died today of Covid-19 complications. He was 84. The retired four-star general and former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who served four presidents made his reputation as a man of honor distant from the political fray -- an asset in the corridors of power.

"General Powell is an American hero, an American example, and a great American story," George W. Bush said as he announced Powell's nomination as secretary of state in 2000.  In December 1989, Bush ordered Gen Colin Powell, then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, to launch Operation Just Cause, sending 26,000 invasion troops into Panama in a rehearsal of the Powell “doctrine of overwhelming force” that was next employed two years later in the first Gulf war. "In directness of speech, his towering integrity, his deep respect for our democracy, and his soldier's sense of duty and honor, Colin Powell demonstrates ... qualities that will make him a great representative of all the people of this country."  His infamous February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council about the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- the evidence he presented was later proven to be false and remained a blot.

Born April 5, 1937 in Harlem, Powell's "American Journey" -- the title of his autobiography -- started in New York, where he grew up and earned a degree in geology.  Along with earning his degree Powell graduated college in 1958 as a second lieutenant in the US Army.  That led to a 35-year career in the Army, including leading the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  While stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Powell met his wife Alma Johnson. They married in 1962 and went on to have two daughters and a son.

Powell's overseas service began in Vietnam that same year, where he was sent by John F. Kennedy to train South Vietnamese forces.   He was injured soon after in 1963 when he stepped on a booby trapped stake while on patrol, earning a Purple Heart award. Powell went back to Vietnam in 1968 for a second tour, where he famously escaped a helicopter crash and returned to the burning wreckage multiple times to rescue his fellow soldiers. 'With complete disregard for his own safety and while injured himself, Major Powell returned several times to the smoldering aircraft which was in danger of bursting into flames,' his subsequent Soldier's Medal commendation read. 

Upon his return Powell worked toward a Masters of Business Administration at George Washington University.  From there Powell embarked on a career in government service when he earned a prestigious White House Fellowship under the Nixon administration in 1972. Ronald Reagan appointed him his national security adviser in 1987.    His Army service culminated in George H.W. Bush naming Powell as the first black person to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989, where he was confirmed unanimously.

Powell's first big test came soon after he took office when the Gulf War began in 1990. As the nation's highest-ranking military adviser he guided US forces through Operation Desert Storm. The US's successful Middle East campaign had then received rare public praise for the government's handling of a conflict and earned Powell a parade in his hometown of New York.  He stayed on the job for most of Bill Clinton's first year in office but clashed with Clinton officials on a number of social and strategic military fronts.

For many Americans, he was the public face of the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. Powell was initially lukewarm about going into the country, but his reputation soared in the aftermath of the blitzkrieg that ejected Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait. For a while, he even considered a run for the presidency.

Colin Powell, the first black Secretary of State who formulated foreign policy under several presidents, died Monday morning at the age of 84 of complications from COVID.   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

18th Oct 2021. 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Rich, wealthy ... whither money - how much is required in life ? Who is the richest person ??

பணம் தேவையா ! அல்லது தேவையற்றதா ! or how much of wealth is required !! – can you identify this rich person ?!?!?  This is no post on whether the earnings of some is really worth and justified !!

'காசு இல்லாமல் ஹோட்டலில் சாப்பிட்டால், மாவாட்ட வேண்டி வரும்' - பல பழைய படங்களில் நெஞ்சை பிழியும் வகையில் வறுமையை காட்ட  ~ சாப்பிட்டுவிட்டு பணம் தர வக்கில்லாமல் தவிக்கும்படி காட்சி அமைப்பை கண்டு இருப்பீர்கள் !  ஏனோ பணம் என்பது நல்லதல்ல ! - பணக்காரன் நல்ல ஆரோக்கியத்துடன் இருக்கமாட்டான் ! பணக்காரர்கள் சரியான தூக்கமில்லாமல் பரிதவிப்பர் போன்ற கிளிஷே கருத்துகள் தமிழ் திரைப்படங்களில் விரவி இருப்பதை பார்த்து இருப்பீர்கள் !! 

அந்தமான் காதலி படத்தில் சிவாஜி பாட்டு :  'பணம் என்னடா பணம் பணம்!  குணம் தானடா நிரந்தரம்; .. .. ..என்னிடத்தில் இல்லாததா !!  - இரக்க மனத்தை கெடுக்கும் அரக்கன்.. பணம் பணம் பணம் ஆ... 

சமீபத்திய சூது கவ்வும் படத்தில் :  காசு பணம் துட்டு மணி மணி; காசு பணம் துட்டு மணி மணி ;  கொடை புடிச்சி நைட்டுல; பறக்க போறேன் ஹைட்டுல; தல காலு புரியல ; தலை கீழா நடக்குறேன்; நல்ல வாயன் சம்பாதிச்சத - நார வாயன் துன்னுறான் ! கணக்கு போட தெரியாதவன் - காச வாரி இறைக்குறான்  

Whether one likes it or not – fact of life is ‘money is certainly needed’ and most people run after money though financial targets can never give absolute satisfaction !!  - People want to be rich, some want to become rich overnight ! 

Richness is a quality or characteristic, either of having a lot of money or of being plentiful. Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial assets or physical possessions which can be converted into a form that can be used for transactions. The modern concept of wealth is of significance in all areas of economics, and clearly so for growth economics and development economics, yet the meaning of wealth is context-dependent. An individual possessing a substantial net worth is known as wealthy. Net worth is defined as the current value of one's assets less liabilities. 

Adam Smith was a famous  Scottish economist, philosopher as well as a moral philosopher, a pioneer of political economy, and a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment, also known as ''The Father of Economics'' or ''The Father of Capitalism''. Smith wrote two classic works, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). The latter, often abbreviated as The Wealth of Nations, is considered his magnum opus and the first modern work of economics.  Smith laid the foundations of classical free market economic theory. The Wealth of Nations was a precursor to the modern academic discipline of economics. In this and other works, he developed the concept of division of labour and expounded upon how rational self-interest and competition can lead to economic prosperity.  

Stop .. .. How much is 230 billion? Do you really know, how many digits or cyohers it has ?  - if written in numbers, it would be :  230,000,000,000.  Yes,  – it would be : 2,30,00,00,00,000 [Twenty three thousand crores !!]  … contain your astonishment – if one were to convert the same into Indian Rupees, it would be:  Rs.172,58,58,31,04,511/- 

Elon Musk's net worth has surpassed $230 billion making him the richest man on the planet after shares at Space X soar by 33 percent and sell for more than $100 billion, after only joining the Forbes top ten billionaire list in the middle of last year. The Tesla CEO has now outstripped former richest person, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and is currently wealthier than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined. 

The Tesla founder saw his and his SpaceX company's wealth swell after a share sale at SpaceX on October 8 worth $100 billion in a secondary offering. The company had an agreement with both new and existing investors to sell up to $755 million in SpaceX stock from insiders at $560 per share, multiple people close with the deal told CNBC.    The 33 percent increase in its new share price brings the company’s valuation to $100.3 billion after initially offering the deal to investors in February, when SpaceX's valuation stood at $74 billion at 419.19 a share. The first round of offerings raised nearly $1.2 billion, the outlet reports.  

The company's new increased valuation places it in the rare company of a private 'centicorn' or 'hectocorn,' which are companies with a valuation of $1 billion unicorns 100 times over.  Forbes Real-Time Top six  Billionaires List reads :  1.Elon Musk - $214 billion; 2. Jeff Bezos -$197 billion; 3. Bernard Arnault and family - $185 billion; 4. Bill Gates - $132 billion; 5. Mark Zuckerberg -  $116 billion; 6. Larry Ellison - $125 billion 

SpaceX is now the second-most valuable private company worldwide behind only China’s Bytedance, according to CB Insights. That's a far cry from just over a year ago, when Musk didn't even make Forbes top ten billionaires list, which Bezos dominated at number one with a then-net worth of $113 billion. The SpaceX founder was quick to boast about taking the number one spot on the rich list, tweeting a second place medal at Bezos after the Blue Origin and Amazon founder shared some motivational words about his company.

Bezos had previously held the title of world's richest person at $197.8 billion as of 2021, after the pandemic and lockdowns saw a boom in online sales.  In April of this year, Musk pledged to give away $150 million, including a $100 million prize in a carbon removal contest, where the billionaire asked participants to create workable solutions for reducing the planet's CO2 emissions at scale in a 'durable and sustainable way.' The contest started on Earth Day and will run for four years, ending on Earth Day 2025. Since beginning that contest in April, his wealth has increased by around $60 billion, with Bloomberg reporting that the SpaceX deal alone added $11 billion to Musk's net worth. 

The 50-year-old began his career co-founding PayPal before moving on to found SpaceX and Tesla Motors in the early 2000s.  Musk has seen his own net worth soar thanks to Tesla and SpaceX's rising valuations, with the latter having raised billions in an effort to fund two capital-intensive projects, Starlink and Starship. Starlink is a satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX providing satellite Internet access to most of the Earth, while Starship is a fully reusable launch system currently in development.  SpaceX has already launched 1,740 Starlink satellites to date, currently providing an internet network to over 100,000 users in 14 different countries who are a part of the project's public beta, with service priced at $99 a month. 

Don’t lose sleep over all these – we do not need such riches to be happy- for those who live with contentment, good money is what is good enough to take care of one’s basic needs.


With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Oct 2021.


Triplicane heritage - Dwaram House

Dwaram in Telegu means ‘doorway’ !!  - it is not a simple peephole or gap as understood in Tamil – a cursory reading takes us to one man whose very mention initiates a sojourn in to the World of Instrumental Carnatic music.  Unlikely that many Triplicanites ever understand his association with Thiruvallikkeni. This is a photo of a statue at Visakhapatnam [credit Wiki commons – thotfulspot]

He is no ordinary person .. .. Maharajah's Government College of Music and Dance (మహారాజా ప్రభుత్వ సంగీత నృత్య కళాశాల) is an educational institution in Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh. Vizianagaram around 850 km away from Chennai - was ruled by different Hindu emperors of Kalinga and it was an integral part of Kalinga. The area including Srikakulam in the north was under the domain of Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi.  The area was under the rule of Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagara Empire too. The Maharaja college is the first music college of South India.  Its first President was  Ajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasu  & the second was the famous - Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu whose statue is above.

The month of November can be dedicated to the legendary violinist Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu (November 8, 1893 - November 25, 1964). Dwaram Naidu, popularly known as ‘fidelu’ Naidu was the first person to bring violin to the forefront of Carnatic music. He performed his first solo in Vellore in 1938. As he mastered the nuances, infused the techniques of both western and Hindustani music into his playing without compromising on the Carnatic music tradition. Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu was partially blind. He played at the National Physical Laboratory auditorium, New Delhi in 1952, to raise funds for the Blind Relief Association was related to the famous kuchipudi dancer Padma sri Dr Shoba Naidu.  The  famous playback singer Ghantasala learned Carnatic music under Naidu.  

Thiruvallikkeni aka Triplicane is a famed land… It is a place where religion, nationalistic fervour, patriotism, sports, education and the individual dignity have interspersed for the benefit of the State and the larger interests of the Nation.  Triplicane was the seat of freedom struggle –  it is a place of rich history and heritage…. There existed  many famous people   .. .. ..

From the Icehouse which became Vivekananda House, as you travel in Dr Besant Road (named after Annie Besant) … there are smaller lanes and one such is BV Street [there are two BV – Bandi Venkatesa Naicken Street nearer Gangaikondan Mandapam and this Bandala Venugopala Naidu Street]  … in the Bandala Venugopala street, there is one ancient house, one may not attach any significance now – a house with a compound and a garden too.  It is ‘Dwaram house ’  ……..  Way back in March 2006, our Bliss (newsletter of SYMA) featured a post on its famed resident and Yours Truly interviewed that frail women, a reverred violinist.   

One need to travel back to 1800s, in 1893, was born Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, who went on to be an inspiration to many aspiring musicians.  Raised in  Vishakapatnam, he was appointed Professor of violin in the Maharaja's Music College in Vijayanagaram, at the young age of 26, and became its principal in 1936. Have read that Dwaram accompanied almost all the stalwarts of the time,  listened to Western and Hindustani music and even gave Hindustani touches to ragas.  In early 1950s, Dwaram bought a house in Bandala Venugopala Street in Triplicane, and moved to Madras. The awards and titles that Dwaram won were legion  yet this post is not about this man too…..

‘Dwaram Mangathayaru’,  was born on 29th Aug 1937 at Vizianagaram in a family which boasts generations of Carnatic musicians. She was the daughter of renowned violinist Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu, who at that time was  the principal of the music college of Vizianagaram.  This unassuming great personality was embellished with many titles & awards– Nadha kanal, Nadha Jyothi, Sangeetha Kala Jyothi, Thirupugazh Mamani, Nadha kala nidhi, Violin Vara gana sudha vani, Sangeetha nadha mani, TTK Award, Gangadevi Eminent Citizen award, Hyderabad to name a few and the conferment of Kalaimamani award on 25/2/06 was really another feather.

In her early age, She studied vocal music under the guidance of Janardhanachari, a renowned veena player. Even in her schooling curriculum she studied music as a special subject. At a very young age of 14 she made a remarkable debut performance on stage as an accompanist of Chembai Vaidhyanatha bagavathar at Vizianagaram. She contined her studies in Waltair obtaining a diploma of violin playing as main subject. During early 1950s their family shifted to Chennai and she had intensive lessons from her father – Great Violin Maestro Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu. At her tender age, she accompanied her father on concert platform before elite audiences that include – Presidents : Babu Rajendra Prasad, Radhakrishnan, Sanjiva Reddy; Premiers – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv and many other noted personalities.

She studied vocal music from Sri Sandhyavandhanam Sreenivasa Rao. She was a recipient of scholarship for 3 years from the Govt of India under the tutelage of Sri Varahur Muthu Swami Iyer another violin vidwan of yesteryears. She imparted music to many as a Professor of Karnatic music in Maharaja college at Vizianagaram for few years and for over 15 years as a staff artist in All India Radio. In her later part of her career, she taught violin as HOD at Music Academy, Chennai. She  adorned many podiums as a professional accompanist and solo artist. Initially, she played violin in hundreds of concerts with the legend flautist TR Mahalingam. She performed duet concerts with her brother Dwaram Sathyanarayana moorthy. She has played alongside many vidwans on stage, the long list which includes – DK Pattammal, MSS, MLV, Veena Doraiswamy Iyengar, DK Jayaraman, Dr Balamurali Krishna, Oleti Venkateswaralu, S Ramanathan, Radha Jayalakshmi, Bombay sisters, Prema Hariharan, Mani Krishnaswamy & more.  Here is a rendition of hers available on Youtube.

This sublime artist lived in our midst in Triplicane imparting her talents to the young generation that  included some foreigners also. I was fortunate to sit nearer and talk to her for SYMA Bliss and during the conversation she felt that the young generation has less of patience and is drawn to the fast food culture sans nutrition. She was to say that they  devote less time to music and many seek to learn through rapid courses.   

Vivid remembrances !  .. .. .. the Dwaram house now-a-days is seen locked. There are rumours that none lives over there and the property had been sold !  .. .. perhaps sooner it would fall under the hammer and some new apartment would come at that place with its occupants blissfully unaware of its glorious past and association with music – that of Violin flow !! – what a pity.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Oct 2021. 

PS 1:  excerpted from my earlier article based on personal interview with Dwaram Mangatayaru in Apr 2006.  At that time itself, Kumari Mangathayaramma was close to 70 and age was taking its toll.  When the talk centered about SYMA running a Public convenience at the erstwhile place for Temple elephant – she told that she was under the impression that the majestic tusker was still there [Azhwan, the beautiful yanai passed away in 1977 !!]

2: Lt. Col. Pusapati Vijay Ananda Gajapathi Raju  better known as the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram or Vizzy, played Test Cricket for India and was in fact the Captain of the  team that  toured England in the 1936 -  played 28 first-class fixtures, winning four of them.  The test series was lost 0-2 with 2nd test ending in a draw. The team included -  Lala Amarnath,  Vijay Merchant, Mushtaq Ali,  C. K. Nayudu,  MJ Gopalan, Cotah Ramaswami .. .. … 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Hindu Munnani protests TN Govt move to melt Temple Gold ..

Hindu Munnani protests  TN Govt scheme to melt Temple Gold ..

புனிதமான தமிழகத்திலே பல்லாயிரக்கணக்கான திருக்கோவில்கள் உள்ளன. ஹிந்து பக்தர்கள் பல நூற்றாண்டுகளாக திருக்கோவில்களுக்கு பல்வேறு விதமான நன்கொடைகளை அளித்து பராமரித்து வருகின்றனர்.  தெய்வ நம்பிக்கை கொண்ட ஆன்மீகத்தில் ஈடுபாடு கொண்ட, தினமும் திருக்கோவில்களுக்கு செல்லும் ஒவ்வொருக்கும் எம்பெருமானுக்கு எப்படி கைங்கர்யம் செய்ய வேண்டும், திருக்கோவில்களில் என்னென்ன செய்யவேண்டும் என்பன நன்கு தெரியும்.

           பால், தயிர், தேன்  முதலிய திரவியங்களால் திருமஞ்சனம் செய்து, பெருமாளுக்கு பட்டாடைகள் அணிவித்து,  இறைவனுக்கு பாமாலைகள் பாடி, அற்புத மணமுடைய அருமையான அழகு பூக்களை செவ்வனே கோர்த்து அழகிய பூமாலைகள் சாற்றி,  தங்கம், வெள்ளி, வைர வைடூரிய ஆபரணங்கள் செய்து சாற்றி,  பலவித  அன்னங்கள் செய்து, திருவமுது செய்வித்து, பெரிய கோவில்கள் கட்டி, அவற்றை பராமரிக்க நிலங்களையும், வீடுகளையும் திருக்கோவிலுக்கு கிரயம் பண்ணி .. .. என பற்பல,  மன்னர்கள் முதல் சாதாரண பிரஜைகள் வரை அவர்தம் சக்தியையும் மீறி செய்து வந்துள்ளனர்.

தமிழகத்தில் ஹிந்து கோவில்கள் மட்டும் அரசாங்க கட்டுப்பாட்டில் உள்ளன. ஏனைய மதத்தினரின் வழிபாட்டு தலங்களை அவர்களே நிர்வாகம் செய்து வருகின்றனர்.  திருக்கோவில்களுக்கு பக்தர்கள் தரும் காணிக்கைகள், சில சமயங்களில் - திருக்கோவில் சம்பந்தப்படாத விஷயங்களுக்கும் உபயோகப்படுத்தப்படுகின்றன.  அதே சமயம் நிறைய திருக்கோவில்கள், சரியாக பராமரிக்கப்படாமல், நித்ய பூஜைகள் கூட சரிவர நடக்கும் நிலைமை இல்லாமை உள்ளது மிகுந்த வருத்தம் தரும் ஒரு விஷயம். 

சமீப கொரோனா காலத்தில் - திருக்கோவில்களுக்கு மூன்று நாட்கள் வாராந்திர விடுமுறை என திருக்கோயில்களை சாற்றி - முக்கிய பண்டிகை  நாட்களில் கூட தம் இறைவனை வழிபட முடியாமல் ஹிந்து பக்தர்கள் மனம் வருந்தினர்.  

இத்தகைய இழி நிலைமையில், கோயில்களில் பயன்பாட்டில் இல்லாத நகைகளை மத்திய அரசின் உருக்காலையில் உருக்கி தங்க பிஸ்கட்டுகளாக மாற்றி, வைப்பு நிதியாக வைக்கப்பட்டு, அதன் மூலம் கிடைக்கும் வட்டித் தொகையில் கோவில் திருப்பணிகள் மேற்கொள்ளப்படும் என  இந்து சமய அறநிலையத்துறை அமைச்சர் கூறியது பக்தர்களை அதிர்ச்சிக்கு உள்ளாக்கியது.  திருக்கோவில்களுக்கு பக்தர்கள் அளித்த நகைகள், பொருட்கள்,  காட்சி பொருள்களாக ஆகிவிடுமோ ! - திருக்கோவில்களுக்கு உபயோகம் இல்லாது  போய் விடுமோ ! - முறைகேடுகள் நடந்தேறுமோ ! என பக்தர்களின் மனதில் அச்சம்.

கோயிலுக்குச் சொந்தமான சொத்துக்களை மீட்க நடவடிக்கை எடுக்க வேண்டும் என   இந்து முன்னணி போராடி வருகிறது.   கோயில்களில் உள்ள தங்கம், வெள்ளி, விலை உயா்ந்த கற்கள் குறித்து இந்துசமய அறநிலையத் துறை வெள்ளை அறிக்கை வெளியிட வேண்டும்; கோயில் தங்கத்தை உருக்கும் திட்டத்தை கைவிட வேண்டும் - இறைவனுக்கு பக்தர்கள் காணிக்கையாக அளித்த நகைகள் - இறைவனுக்கே மட்டுமே, வேறு எந்த காரியத்துக்கும் அவற்றை உபயோகப்படுத்தக்கூடாது - இந்த நகைகள் உருக்கும் திட்டத்தை கைவிட வேண்டும் என வலியுறுத்தி, இந்து முன்னணி திருவல்லிக்கேணி ஸ்ரீபார்த்தசாரதி எம்பெருமானை வணங்கி, அவரிடமே முறையிட்டு, அறப்போராட்டத்தை இன்று திருவல்லிக்கேணியில் நடத்தியது. 

இன்று காலை நடந்த அறப்போராட்டத்தின் படங்கள் சில இங்கே:
16th Oct 2021.