Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Horses .. .. .. Mustang .. .. famous owners !!


Other than my self-professed love for elephants, there were couple of animals that formed the trio in Thiruvallikkeni Perumal purappadu – a beautiful white horse and majestic Ox.  There were rumours that ‘the white horse’ was once a racing pedigree and was later retired and presented to Temple ! – now there is none !!

Horse  is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. Humans domesticated horses and needed them to perform a variety of duties.  There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion, and behavior. One type of horse-powered work was the hauling of heavy loads, plowing fields, and other tasks that required pulling ability. 

Mustang Caves or Sky Caves of Nepal are a collection of some 10,000 man-made caves dug into the sides of valleys in the Mustang District of Nepal. Maharajadhiraja Prithivi Narayan Shah (1723–1775) was the last ruler of the Gorkha Kingdom and first monarch of Kingdom of Nepal, also called Kingdom of Gorkha.  Prithvi Narayan Shah is credited for starting the campaign for the unification of Nepal. He proclaimed his kingdom  as Asal Hindustan ("Real Land of Hindus") due to North India being ruled by the Islamic Mughal rulers.  He followed Hindu social code Dharmaśāstra.  His rule extended over Mustang District  is in Dhawalagiri Zone of northern Nepal.  The district, with Jomsom as its headquarters, covers an area of 3,573 km²  and is the gateway of our holy Salagrammam (Mukthinath divyadesam)

This is no divine post but one on horses -  Mustang horses are descendants of escaped, domestic Spanish horses that were brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. The name is derived from the Spanish words "mestengo" and "mostrenco" — meaning "wild or masterless cattle," according to the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries.  Mustangs are not technically wild horses because they came from a domesticated population, and so the mustangs living in the wild are considered feral, according to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). They can be found roaming free across the western United States but are also kept by humans in captivity and ridden like other horses. Mustangs have muscular bodies and hard hooves, which makes them suitable for scouting and trail riding, according to Horse Canada, a government-run equine website.

Mustangs, which like other horses, are typically measured in hands,  stand 14 to 15 hands tall. This measurement equals 56 inches to 60 inches (140 to 150 centimeters). They weigh around 800 pounds (360 kilograms), according to the America's Mustang program. Mustangs can be a wide variety of different colors and, according to Oklahoma State University, their coats show the entire range of colors found in all horses. Usually, they are bay, which is a reddish-brown, or sorrel, which is a chestnut color. They can also have a variety of patches, spots and stripes. Most mustang horses can run, or gallop, at speeds of 25 to 30 mph (40 to 48 km/h), although a mustang has been recorded reaching 55 mph (88 km/h) over a short distance, according to Horse Canada. 

We are reading about horses because couple of very famous people now own them ! .. ..  thala MS Dhoni, whose love for big dogs is well known, added to his list of pets when he bought a black stallion soon after arriving at his seven-acre farmhouse on the outskirts of Ranchi. The Chennai Super Kings skipper flew in from Delhi where he was leading his franchise before the tournament was potsponed due to Covid-19 cases in the bio-bubble. Dhoni's wife, Sakshi posted a video of the horse on her Instagram account and captioned it, "Welcome home Chetak! A true gentleman! Happily accepted in our pack!" Dhoni already has a Belgian Malinois, a white husky and a German Shepherd.

Dhoni is the second cricketer after CSK team-mate Ravindra Jadeja to keep a horse as pet. Soon after reaching home from Delhi, allrounder Jadeja too had posted pictures of his three horses on twitter, captioning it "Back to the place where I feel safe."

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th May 2021.

Monday, May 10, 2021

fight, riots, killings - between fans on who acts better ?

A deadly riot occurred on this day 172 years ago ! resulting in large civilian casualties too – and its genesis was a dispute between two actors – which one of them was better in doing major roles of Shakespeare !!!

An year and few months ago, at Triplicane, people would converge in street corners – in front of homes and happily speak / discuss / hotly debate on various topics ranging from Cricket, Sampradhayam, Temple affairs, Cinema, History, Politics and more .. .. very rarely they would become mud-slinging, and mostly people remained friendly.

In pandemic, people spend more time in social media – and in forums and e-platforms  – often we see people criticize, say harsh things, fill their heart’s hatred and suddenly become sworn enemies blocking each other – criticizing the person, their personal traits and more ..

Cinemas are intended to be medium of entertainment – actors and actresses earn money, celebrity status and more.  MG Ramachandran and NT Ramarao rose to become Chief Ministers primarily with their movie fame while a popular actor Sivaji Ganesan failed in politics ! 

In my school days in late 1970s – there used to hot exchanges between benches -  Sunil Gavaskar Vs Gundappa Vishwanath; Bjorn Borg Vs John Mcenroe; Illayaraja Vs MS Viswanathan; Rajni Vs Kamal; Balachander Vs Barathiraja.  Those days films would be released on Fridays – on Thursdays, one can see posters being pasted on streets.  Deepavali would be a bonanza for movie goers – a dozen films or more were released for 1980 Deepavali  including – Viswaroopam (Sivaji); Varumaiyin niram sivappu (Kamal / Balachander); Polladhavan (Rajni); Nizhalgal (Barathiraja).  My knowledge of cinema was slightly above zero and hence was a passive spectator in those arguments !    remember that in our school class room, one vividly portrayed Barathiraja calling Balachander – a week prior to Deepavali release, exclaiming that both of them had dwelt on the same subject [Unemployment – Nizhalgal & Varumaiyin niram sigappu] – he went on to say that an unperturbed Balachander replied that both had unique styles and need not worry about the other ~ not sure of its authencity – incidentally both flopped . ..

Those days it was intense rivalry between fans of Rajni vs Kamal.  Shivaji Rao(Rajinikanth) debuted in Tamil cinema with K Balachander's Apoorva Raagangal in 1975,  Kamal Haasan was already a seasoned actor.  Then for some time, it was Thala – thalapathi [Ajitkumar V Vijay] – there were some reports of skirmishes in theatre complex when both actor’s film were released. In neighbouring Kerala, the Malayalam film industry has been obsessed with two men in particular for nearly three decades now, much to their acting versatility and immense crowd pull. Mammootty and Mohanlal, have often locked horns at the box-office, but their cinematic rivalry has never affected their real-life friendship, which has spanned and survived the course of their respective careers.

The Astor Place Riot occurred on May 10, 1849, at the now-demolished Astor Opera House in Manhattan and left between 22 and 31 rioters dead, and more than 120 people injured. It was the deadliest to that date of a number of civic disturbances in Manhattan, which generally pitted immigrants and nativists against each other, or together against the wealthy who controlled the city's police and the state militia. The riot resulted in the largest number of civilian casualties due to military action in the United States since the American Revolutionary War, and led to increased police militarization (for example, riot control training and larger, heavier batons). Its ostensible genesis was a dispute between Edwin Forrest, one of the best-known American actors of that time, and William Charles Macready, a similarly notable English actor, which largely revolved around which of them was better than the other at acting the major roles of Shakespeare.

On May 7, 1849, three nights before the riot, Forrest's supporters bought hundreds of tickets to the top level of the Astor Opera House, and brought Macready's performance of Macbeth to a grinding halt by throwing at the stage rotten eggs, potatoes, apples, lemons, shoes, bottles of stinking liquid, and ripped up seats. The performers persisted in the face of hissing, groans, and cries of "Shame, shame!" and "Down with the codfish aristocracy!", but were forced to perform in pantomime, as they could not make themselves heard over the crowd. Meanwhile, at Forrest's May 7 performance, the audience rose and cheered when Forrest spoke Macbeth's line "What rhubarb, senna or what purgative drug will scour these English hence?"

After his disastrous performance, Macready announced his intention to leave for Britain on the next boat, but he was persuaded to stay and perform again by a petition signed by 47 well-heeled New Yorkers – including authors Herman Melville and Washington Irving – who informed the actor that "the good sense and respect for order prevailing in this community will sustain you on the subsequent nights of your performance”.

On the day of the riot, police chief George Washington Matsell informed Caleb S. Woodhull, the new Whig mayor, that there was not sufficient manpower to quell a serious riot, and Woodhull called out the militia.   By the time the play opened at 7:30 as scheduled, up to 10,000 people filled the streets around the theatre. One of the most prominent among those who supported Forrest's cause was Ned Buntline, a dime novelist who was Rynders' chief assistant.  Buntline and his followers had set up relays to bombard the theater with stones, and fought running battles with the police. They and others inside tried (but failed) to set fire to the building, many of the anti-Macready ticket-holders having been screened and prevented from coming inside in the first place.  The audience was in a state of siege; nonetheless, Macready finished the play, again in "dumb show", and only then slipped out in disguise !

Fearing they had lost control of the city, the authorities called out the troops, who arrived at 9:15, only to be jostled, attacked, and injured. Finally, the soldiers lined up and, after unheard warnings, opened fire, first into the air and then several times at point blank range into the crowd. Many of those killed were innocent bystanders, and almost all of the casualties were from the working class; seven of the dead were Irish immigrants. Dozens of injured and dead were laid out in nearby saloons and shops, and the next morning mothers and wives combed the streets and morgues for their loved ones.

Between 22 and 31 rioters were killed, and 48 were wounded. Fifty to 70 policemen were injured. Of the militia, 141 were injured by the various missiles.  Three judges presided over a related trial, including Charles Patrick Daly, a judge on the New York Court of Common Pleas, who pressed for convictions. The city's elite were unanimous in their praise of the authorities for taking a hard line against the rioters.  

To an outsider, it would sound – how insane ? – what is one actor was better than another ? – and by which yardstick – should people fight, kill, lose lives over such bickerings !!

Rhyming with MGR, NTR, SSR, there was KRR -  Kumbakonam Ramabadra Ramasamy  who worked mainly in Tamil theatre and cinema. He was born in Kumbakonam and was active during the early days of Tamil cinema.  His notable films include Velaikkaari, Gumasthavin Penn and Poompaavai. KRR acted in numerous stage plays and around 25 films in Tamil. He was also instrumental in funding DMK in its early days and later became a Member of the Legislative Council of the party in 1960.

So, no fight .. in the name of heroes !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Chinese Long March 5B uncontrolled re-entry - somewhere near Maldives !!

Maldives is 1344km away from Chennai and would take  6.30 hrs by flight to reach. 

David Warner and Michael Slater are in a group of 39 Australians, comprising players, coaches and support staff, to have flown to Maldives on Thursday on a charter flight organised by the BCCI.  Star opener David Warner and cricketer-turned-commentator Michael Slater have denied reports of their involvement in a drunken bar brawl in Male, where Australian cricketers competing in the now-suspended IPL are waiting to board a flight home in a few days’ time. According to the ‘Daily Telegraph’, Warner and Slater got into a late night physical altercation after a heated argument at the Taj Coral Resort where they are in quarantine.  Slater had made headlines after he lambasted threats of jail time and fines for returning Australians put in place by his government as a “disgrace” and said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had “blood” on his hands.

Maldives, is a small archipelagic state in South Asia situated in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 700 kilometres (430 mi) from the Asian continent's mainland. The chain of 26 atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to Addu Atoll in the south (across the Equator). Comprising a territory spanning roughly 298 square kilometres (115 sq mi), Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed sovereign states as well as the smallest Asian country by land area and, with around 557,426 inhabitants, the 2nd least populous country in Asia. Malé is the capital and the most populated city.

The Long March 5B successfully launched a 22.5-metric-ton core module of China’s first space station last week. During the launch, the first stage of the Long March 5B also reached orbital velocity instead of falling downrange as is common practice. That placed the empty rocket body in an elliptical orbit around Earth where it is being dragged toward an uncontrolled reentry in the coming days.  Sounds an innocuous statement but was in fact a threat to humanity, downplayed!

The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Orbital Reentry and Debris Studies (CORDS) was in news for its tracking the reentry path of the rocket body from the Chinese Long March 5B (CZ-5B) launch of April 29. The CORDS’ graphic has generated a lot of questions such as, “what exactly am I looking at?” and “am I in the path of debris?”  .. …. as it often happens, people like us could make out nothing but could get some solace seeing that the curves did not touch India !!

The good news is that the  bulk of the rocket was destroyed as it re-entered the atmosphere, but state media reported that debris landed just west of the Maldives this morning IST. There have been days of speculation over where the rocket might land, and US officials and other experts warned its return risked potential casualties.  There were some reports too that US would shoot it with a missile if it were to come anywhere closer to their land !

But China insisted the risk was low. The news is Long March-5b vehicle re-entered the atmosphere at 10:24 Beijing time (02:24 GMT) on Sunday, state media reported, citing the Chinese Manned Space Engineering office. There were no reports of injuries or damage. U.S. Space Command  too stated that it can confirm the Chinese Long March 5B re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 p.m. EDT on May 8. (around 745 am IST) but added that it is  unknown if the debris impacted land or water.  More to follow with a very terse statement - USSPACECOM does not conduct direct notifications to individual governments. The exact location of the impact and the span of debris, both of which are unknown at this time, will not be released by U.S. Space Command.

It said debris from the 18-tonne rocket, one of the largest items in decades to have an undirected dive into the atmosphere, landed in the Indian Ocean at a point 72.47° East and 2.65° North.  The monitoring service Space-Track, which uses US military data, said the rocket was recorded above Saudi Arabia before it fell into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives and stated that it would not be releasing any further statements on this. .. …  . the  uncontrolled return of the rocket led to pointed criticism from the US amid fears that it could land in an inhabited area. US and European websites tracked its return, and there was much speculation on social media about where the debris might land.

"Spacefaring nations must minimise the risks to people and property on Earth," US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement. "It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris." The main segment from the Long March-5b vehicle was used to launch the first module of China's new space station last month. Originally injected into an elliptical orbit approximately 160km by 375km (99 miles by 233 miles) above the Earth's surface on 29 April, the Long March-5b core stage soon began to lose height.

NASA has lambasted China for its failure to "meet responsible standards" after debris from its out-of-control rocket likely plunged into the Indian Ocean.  "Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations," said NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson in a statement released on the space agency's website Sunday. "China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris," he added.  Generally, the international space community tries to avoid such scenarios. Most rockets used to lift satellites and other objects into space conduct more controlled reentries that aim for the ocean, or they're left in so-called "graveyard" orbits that keep them in space for decades or centuries. But the Long March rocket is designed in a way that "leaves these big stages in low orbit," said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University. 

It is stated that the threat was real and Chinese rocket debris crashing into Earth is not the first time and perhaps not the last too.  The threat to populated areas of land was not negligible, but fortunately the vast majority of Earth's surface area is consumed by oceans, so the odds of avoiding a catastrophic run-in were slim. The rocket is one of the largest objects in recent memory to strike the Earth after falling out of orbit, following a 2018 incident in which a piece of a Chinese space lab broke up over the Pacific Ocean and the 2020 reentry of an 18-metric-ton Long March 5B rocket.

Despite recent efforts to better regulate and mitigate space debris, Earth's orbit is littered with hundreds of thousands of pieces of uncontrolled junk, most of which are smaller than 10 centimeters. Objects are constantly falling out of orbit, though most pieces burn up in the Earth's atmosphere before having a chance to make an impact on the surface. But parts of larger objects, like the Long March rocket in this instance, can survive reentry and threaten structures and people on the ground.

"There's no international law or rule — nothing specific — but the practice of countries around the world has been: 'Yeah, for the bigger rockets, let's not leave our trash in orbit in this way.'"  . .. .. and when bigger Nations commit harm, it would get buried – but the same Nations would talk of green gas emission and other pollution as though committed only by Third world countries.  The loud and clear message is – ‘ you are expected to put down your airconditioners, refrigerators and every other thing of utility while the big brothers would experiment and leave the results untested’.

S a d .. .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
9th May 2021.

Bharat Insurance Building !!

Mount Road aka Anna Salai is one of the busiest arterial roads of the Chennai city – in olden days, every Tamil movie, to show that heroine has landed in MadraS would show Central Railway Station and then ‘the tallest 14 storeyed LIC building’.  As you travel from Santhi theatre signal – Mount Road, around 100 meters in front of LIC has road on the left – “General Patters Road’ and dead on that intersection an old building stands ! [one could wonder how is it standing still!]  Remember that upon joining Insurance industry in 1985, I had been to that building – for Madras Insurance Institute (as also some branch of LIC) used to function from there !

Even that time, it was close dilapidation .. .. the staircase would be creepy .. it is ‘Bharat Insurance building’ a structure dating back to  1897.  Searching its history read that it was earlier known as Kardyl Building, inaugurated in 1897 taking 3 years for completion, and is an example of the Indo-Saracenic architecture.  Constructed for W E Smith and Company, it was bought by Bharat Insurance in 1934. This insurance company became part of  Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).   The Madras High Court in 2010  restrained LIC’s  move to pull down the structure. The building with stained glass panels, domes, spires, arches, verandahs and 100-ft minarets was once perhaps a  lively commercial centre, but deteriorated over the years due to poor maintenance.   In 1998, tenants were asked to vacate the premises due to the weakness of the structure, and LIC planned to demolish the building in 2006.

The building when seen last a few months ago ! and photographed in Sept 2020 by me [the first set photos date back to Aug 2012] was ‘a dangerous building’ – people not allowed to go near and certainly not allowed to enter the premises !

Away from the once landmark building, here is an interesting case decided by High Court of Uttarakhand on 11th Jan 2019 – Amarnath Seth being the petitioner; Union of India and others being the Respondents.  The petitioner's case, as stated in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, is that he had taken the subject premises  at Dehradun on lease from Bharat Insurance Company Limited in 1956 at a rent of Rs.37.50 per month and, as proof thereof, receipt dated 07.09.1956, issued by Bharat Insurance Company Limited, was being filed; he had made an application to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer, under Section 3-A of the U.P. Control of Rent and Eviction Act, 1947, on 10.06.1959 for determination of the annual reasonable rent of the premises occupied by the tenants of the building; the Rent Controller had passed an order dated 17.02.1961 holding that the building, in which the subject premises was included, was constructed prior to the year 1951, and fell within the purview of the 1947 Act; the said order of the Rent Controller was challenged by the LIC in Civil Miscellaneous Writ Petition No. 1605 of 1961 wherein they admitted that the petitioner was a tenant, and his tenancy had commenced when the building was owned by Bharat Insurance Company Limited; the said writ petition was allowed, by order dated 11.01.1965, holding that the said building had not been completely constructed prior to 01.01.1951, and the provisions of the 1947 Act was excluded from operation over the said building by reason of Section 1-A of the Act; and the said building was not governed by the provisions of the 1947 Act. The order passed by the Rent Controller was, therefore, set- aside.

It is the petitioner's case that, even after the assets and liabilities of Bharat Insurance Company Limited stood transferred to the LIC in 1960, he continued to be in occupation of the premises; the petitioner took out an agency of LIC in July, 1958, and was attached to the Dehradun branch; after the building stood transferred to the LIC, he submitted a letter asking them to deduct the rent of the building from the commission payable to him; the agency of the petitioner was kept in abeyance by the LIC with effect from the date of his appointment as a Development Officer of the LIC on 09.07.1963; his services as a Development Officer was, however, terminated by order dated 21.11.1964; a notice was issued on 11.05.1977 stating that the petitioner was allowed to occupy the premises as a licensee of the LIC, and as he had made alterations and additions in the premises without the consent of the LIC, they no longer wanted to keep him as a licensee and, as such, the notice of revocation of the licence, and for vacating the premises was issued.

As the petitioner did not choose to file a copy of the rent receipt, which he now seeks to place reliance upon, (rent receipt allegedly issued by Bharat Insurance Company Ltd. on 07.09.1956), before the District Judge, Dehradun, he cannot, in proceedings under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, place reliance thereupon, and thereby claim to be a tenant of the premises before the 1971 Act came into force w.e.f. 16.09.1958. It matters little even if it is presumed that the petitioner was in occupation of the premises, as a tenant of Bharat Insurance Company, before the 1971 Act came into force w.e.f. 16.09.1958. LIC became the owner of the subject premises, under Section 45 of the Life Insurance Corporation Act, on the assets of Bharat Insurance Company Ltd. vesting in it, during the year 1960. The petitioner has, by claiming to be a tenant of the LIC and not to be a licensee, has admitted that the LIC is his landlord.  

Attornment is one mode of recognising a person as one's landlord, just as payment of rent is another mode for the purpose. The tenant is not allowed to impeach the title of a person to whom he has paid rent, or whose title he has otherwise recognized. Simply by attornment, the tenant is estopped from questioning the derivative title of the landlord's successor.  

The jurisdiction of this Court, under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, has been invoked by the petitioner seeking a writ of certiorari to quash the orders dated 21.10.1982 and 17.01.1983 passed by the third respondent; and the orders dated 23.02.1984 and 27.02.1984 passed by the second respondent.

Bharat Insurance building is more than a century old and this case under reference is more than 50 years old !! – a building previously owned by M/s Mansa Ram & sons who sold the property to Bharat Insurance Co. Ltd on 22.04.1955. The said premises were broken into five different numbers, and nearly a dozen multi-storied blocks were constructed thereupon. After the property was purchased by Bharat Insurance Co. Ltd., they continued to let out the shops and quarters. The petitioner herein (Sri A.N. Seth) claimed to be the tenant of one of the shops from 1956. As he was a permanent defaulter, Suit for ejectment and recovery of arrears of rent was filed against him.

The merit of the judgment  and the legal intricacies of 11.1.2019 may not attract us .. .. but the dispute arising out of tenancy dating back to 1956 becoming a subject matter of various Courts and finally getting adjudicated in 2019 – with one of the parties no longer in scene – the Bharat Insurance Co – makes us think of the long pendency, delay and the way some cases get dragged in Courts of Law. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
8th May 2021.