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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

remembering that gruesome assassination of 1991

On this day in 1939,  the National War Memorial (titled The Response)  a tall, granite memorial arch with accreted bronze sculptures in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, designed by Vernon March and first dedicated by King George VI in 1939 was opened. Originally built to commemorate the Canadians who died in the First World War, it was in 1982 rededicated to also include those killed in the Second World War and Korean War and again in 2014 to add the dead from the Second Boer War and War in Afghanistan, as well as all Canadians killed in all conflicts past and future. It now serves as the pre-eminent war memorial     ~ 21st May is remembered by Indians for different reasons though !

August 15, 1991. It was a pleasant morning in Konanakunte, people did not know that the day would change their lives .. .. can you connect it with this day 28 years ago !  Just as we await results of Lok Sabha elections, 1991 too was an election year – held in 2 phases – each had a different impact.  Maragatham Chandrasekar was to win by a margin of 180572 and the man lost his life campaigning for her this day.   

Visitors to Chennai would not miss the landmark as they come out Central Railway station – the imposing  Government General Hospital, visited by more than 12000 outpatients everyday.   This premier institution dates back to 1664, started  as a small Hospital to treat the sick soldiers of the East India Company. It was the untiring inspired efforts of Sir Edward Winter who was the agent of the company that materialised in the first British Hospital at Madras. In its early days the Hospital was housed at the Fort St. George and in the next 25 years grew into a formal medical facility. Governor Sir. Elihy Yale was instrumental in the development of the Hospital and gave it a new premises with in the Fort in 1690.  In 1842 the Hospital opened its doors to Indians.     In the 19th century, medical college got annexed to it and in 2011, the hospital was renamed after Rajiv Gandhi, sadly because his body was brought here after his assassination in May 1991.

This place (Sriperumpudur) is famous for being the birthplace of our greatest Acharyar – Sri Ramanujar ~ life has changed a lot in the past couple of decades after that fatefulday…..  one may not ardently believe in ‘fate or destiny’…….in the prelude to General elections, there were far too varied predictions …… the National Front was still nursing some hopes, there was a wave predicting return of Rajiv Gandhi.  In that melee, was this person, who had retired from active politics  – not any ordinary person for sure~ a man who had been the CM too…. in 1984 in the aftermath of assassination of Indira Gandhi saw routing of all political parties.  Bharatiya Janata Party could win only 2 seats. One in Mehsana and the other was in South ~ the Hanamkonda constituency where M. Chandupatla Janga Reddy of BJP defeated his nearest Congress rival by 54198 votes.  The man who lost so at a time when Congress swept to power was 70 by the 1991 elections, could not get a ticket and had chosen to retire to peace…….. destiny thought otherwise….. he became the PM in 1991 – Sri PV Narasimha Rao.

The night of 21st  May 1991 changed it all ~ on a campaign trail, he arrived from Vizag, garlanded Nehru at Kathipara, even the Press chose not to travel along for that meeting at Sriperumpudur – and rest is bloody history – the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.  About two hours after arriving in Madras), Rajiv Gandhi was driven by motorcade in a white Ambassador car to Sriperumbudur, stopping along the way at a few other election campaigning venues. When he reached a campaign rally in Sriperumbudur, he got out of his car and began to walk towards the dais where he would deliver a speech. Along the way, he was garlanded by many well-wishers, Congress party workers and school children. The assassin, Dhanu, approached and greeted him. She then bent down to touch his feet and detonated an RDX explosive-laden belt tucked below her dress at exactly 10:10 PM.  Rajiv, his assassin and 14 others were killed in the explosion that followed, along with 43 others who were grievously injured. .. .. a very sad day as the Nation lost its ex-Prime Minister assassinated in his own land and a host of innocent Tamilians who had gathered too died in that blast.

Beeroota, a tiny village near picturesque Muthathi on the banks of the Cauvery,  came to news as it was here  LTTE cadres including Sivarasan hid themselves  after the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. The village also played a prominent role in the gunning down of Sivarasan (the ‘one-eyed-jack’ mastermind behind the assassination); Dhanu alias Anbu; and others, in Bengaluru’s Konanakunte in Aug 15,  1991. With just three houses and some huts, nearly three decades ago, Beeroota was one of the most backward villages in the State when the LTTE arrived.

Nation sadly remembers and pays tribute to Rajiv Gandhi

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st May 2019.

Monday, May 20, 2019

secret video leads to downfall in Austria !

A total of 543 constituencies, seven phases spanned over a month, millions of voters — India's battle for the ballot has reached its final stage on Sunday. All eyes are set on May 23 when the results of the Lok Sabha elections 2019 will be declared.   ~  and before that, there are numerous exit polls predicting them results.   These are  post-voting polls, conducted just after a voter walks out after casting his or her vote.   The basic step to predict exit polls is sampling ~ and do not ask whether a small sample will give a skewed prediction or real one ?  .. ..

After nearly two months of high-pitch campaigning and seven phase of hectic poll schedule, most exit polls have predicated a clear majority to BJP-led NDA with many more than  300 seats, out of total 542 Lok Sabha seats. Polls are also predicting a clean sweep by NDA in several key states including Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.  Most have concluded that North India is giving Narendra Modiji  and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a sweeping mandate in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The South, according to the exit poll, has slowed the saffron sweep.  Quite obvious – Kerala, Tamil Nadu may throw different results. 

In 654 BC, Phoenician settlers founded a port on Ibiza. With the decline of Phoenicia after the Assyrian invasions, Ibiza came under the control of Carthage, also a former Phoenician colony. The island produced dye, salt, fish sauce (garum), and wool. A shrine with offerings to the goddess Tanit was established in the cave at Es Cuieram, and the rest of the Balearic Islands entered Eivissa's commercial orbit after 400 BC. Ibiza was a major trading post along the Mediterranean routes. 
                      Ibiza, now in news and becoming most searched one on web -  is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Spain. It is 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the city of Valencia. Ibiza has become well known for its association with nightlife, electronic dance music, and for the summer club scene, all of which attract large numbers of tourists drawn to that type of holiday. Ibiza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – you are reading about it because of ‘Ibiza affair’ !

Austria is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. It is bordered by the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.  The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps.  The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Austria played a central role in European History from the late 18th to the early 20th century. Austria was involved in both world wars; it started the first one under Emperor Franz Joseph and served as the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, who provoked the second one. Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy with a President as head of state and a Chancellor as head of government.

The Ibiza affair is a  political scandal in Austria involving Heinz-Christian Strache, the Vice-Chancellor of Austria and leader of the Freedom Party (FPÖ); Johann Gudenus, a deputy leader of the Freedom Party; and both the Austrian Freedom Party and political landscape in general.  The scandal was triggered on 17 May 2019 by the publication of the content of a secretly recorded video of a July 2017 meeting in Ibiza, Spain, which appears to show the then opposition politicians Strache and Gudenus discussing their party's underhanded practices and intentions.  In the video, both politicians appeared receptive to proposals by a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch, discussing providing the FPÖ positive news coverage in return for business contracts. Strache and Gudenus also hinted at corrupt political practices involving other wealthy donors to the FPÖ in Europe and elsewhere. The video also revealed the party's authoritarian intents to suppress the freedom of the press in Austria and replacing it with a compliant media, with a view to turning the country's largest-circulation tabloid, Kronen Zeitung, into a mouthpiece of the FPÖ.  The scandal has now  caused the collapse of the Austrian governing coalition and the announcement of the early election.

Five people took part in the videotaped meeting, according to the German news outlets, which had examined the tapes but had not released the full recordings. Those persons included Heinz-Christian Strache; a woman who said she was the niece of a Russian oligarch; an interpreter (the woman's company); another Freedom Party official, Johann Gudenus, who appears to have set up the meeting; and Gudenus’s wife, Tajana. The persons spoke in English, German, and Russian.  During the conversation in the footage, Strache said he had contacts with Israelis who opposed left-wing politics in Israel, and that he had been invited to China to promote business between Austria and China. Strache also said that Hans Peter Haselsteiner, a major shareholder of the construction company Strabag, would no longer receive commissions by government.

The highly professional setup of the apparent trap, the amount of time and money expended on preparing and realising it, made Germany's Die Welt wonder who might have been behind this operation meant to create what the newspaper referred to as Kompromat (incriminating material to be used at the right moment to undermine one's enemy), which had been held back for two years and made public days before the 2019 European Parliament election.  This has led to the resignation on 18.5.19 by   Heinz-Christian Strache  as Vice-Chancellor of Austria and Chairman of the Freedom Party at a press conference. He stated that he offered Chancellor Sebastian Kurz his resignation from the office of Vice-Chancellor at 11 o'clock that day, shortly before attending the press conference – Kurz accepted his withdrawal and will advise President Alexander Van der Bellen to formally dismiss him. At the press conference, Strache portrayed the recording of the video as an illegal and immoral act by the press and announced that he would take any legal action possible against the organizers, recorders and publishers of the video. However, he later admitted and recognized his wrongdoing.  Shortly after Strache's announced resignation, Johann Gudenus followed up and officially announced his withdrawal from all political posts as well.

We have seen this in cinemas and now a video has turned the applecart of politicians and changed the political atmosphere in Austria

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th May 2019.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Battle of Gallipoli ~ a century ago ! - disaster for Allies - visit by Aussie team

Is distance a factor now ! ~ and how was that a century ago !!

On 27 Oct 1914, two former German warships, the Ottoman Yavûz Sultân Selîm and Midilli, still under the command of German officers, conducted the Black Sea Raid, in which they bombarded the Russian port of Odessa and sank several ships.  On 31 October, the Ottomans entered the war and began the Caucasus Campaign against Russia. The British briefly bombarded forts in Gallipoli, invaded Mesopotamia and studied the possibility of forcing the Dardanelles. The Ottoman Empire, literally "The Exalted Ottoman State"; historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries.  One might wonder what is the relevance to the Cricket World Cup 2019.

Australian fast bowler, Jhye Richardson, was withdrawn from Australia’s World Cup Squad as he continues to recover from the shoulder dislocation he suffered in the UAE in March. After a recent scan and testing with the team’s medical staff, it was determined that Jhye was not going to be ready to bowl at the level required for him to be considered for selection at the start of the World Cup.     Australia's squad of : Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa have traversed 15000 odd kilo meters from Australia to England for the cup .. .. and they had a stopover at a historical place is the subject matter of this post.

Donning casual get-up including baseball caps and compression pants rather than the regular team uniform, Australia's 15-man squad plus support staff retraced the footsteps of their countrymen from more than a century ago. It was a rare extended sojourn from professional routine, and a fair logistical feat given the proximity to their June 1 World Cup opener against Afghanistan in Bristol. Their visit is the first by an Australian cricket team since Steve Waugh's side made the trip ahead of the 2001 Ashes. Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa laid a wreath at the Lone Pine Memorial, with its yellow and peach flowers.. ..

The Gallipoli Campaign,  the Battle of Gallipoli was a campaign of the First World War that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula (Gelibolu in modern Turkey). The Entente powers, Britain, France and the Russian Empire, sought to weaken the Ottoman Empire, one of the Central Powers, by taking control of the straits that provided a supply route to Russia. The invaders launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula, to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (Istanbul). The naval attack was repelled and after eight months' fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign was abandoned and the invasion force was withdrawn. It was a costly and humiliating defeat for the Allies and for the sponsors, especially Winston Churchill.

The campaign was a great Ottoman victory. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the history of the state, a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire retreated.  The campaign is often considered to be the beginning of Australian and New Zealand national consciousness; 25 April, the anniversary of the landings, is known as ANZAC Day, the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in the two countries, surpassing Remembrance Day (Armistice Day).

After the failure of the naval attacks, troops were assembled to eliminate the Ottoman mobile artillery, which was preventing the Allied minesweepers from clearing the way for the larger vessels. Kitchener appointed General Sir Ian Hamilton to command the 78,000 men of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.  Soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and New Zealand Expeditionary Force(NZEF) were encamped in Egypt, undergoing training prior to being sent to France.  The Australian and New Zealand troops were formed into the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), commanded by Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood, comprising the volunteer 1st Australian Division and the New Zealand and Australian Division.  The  troops, were subsequently placed under Hamilton's command. Over the following month, Hamilton prepared his plan and the British and French divisions joined the Australians in Egypt. Hamilton chose to concentrate on the southern part of the Gallipoli peninsula at Cape Helles and Seddülbahir, where an unopposed landing was expected. The Allies sadly had  discounted the fighting ability of the Ottoman soldiers. The underestimation of Ottoman military potential stemmed from a "sense of superiority" among the Allies, because of the decline of the Ottoman Empire and its poor performance in Libya in 1911 and the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913.

The Allied fleet and British and French troops assembled at Mudros, ready for the landings but poor weather from 19 March grounded Allied aircraft for nine days and on 24 days only a partial programme of reconnaissance flights were possible. Allocated the northern landing, Birdwood's force   was to land and advance inland to cut the lines of communication to the Ottoman forces in the south.  The troops would disembark from the transports into ships' boats and be towed close to the shore by steamboats and then row ashore.  The landing was more difficult, over ground which rose steeply from the beaches, unlike the objective to the south, which was more open. The landing site was garrisoned by only two Ottoman companies but from positions on commanding ground the Ottomans inflicted numerous casualties on the Australians before being overcome.  It was a disaster - ANZAC casualties on the first day numbered around 2,000 men killed or wounded. Casualty figures for the campaign vary between sources but in 2001, Edward J. Erickson wrote that in the Gallipoli Campaign over 100,000 men were killed, including 56,000–68,000 Ottoman and around 53,000 British and French soldiers. Using the Ottoman Archives, Erickson estimated that Ottoman casualties in the Gallipoli Campaign were 56,643 men died from all causes, 97,007 troops were wounded or injured and 11,178 men went missing or were captured.  

Australians and New Zealanders coming from tens of thousands of miles away suffered worst casualties mainly due to poor strategy and lack of knowledge of the conditions.

Anzac Day  is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served".  Observed on 25 April each year, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the First World War(1914–1918).  This is the place now visited by Australian Cricket team

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th May 2019.

Friday, May 17, 2019

blabbering actor needs to know history of 1926 and earlier too !

 One should not pay any attention to the blabbering of actor turned politician – his views has never been stable – a person known for making long sentences, without fullstop and from the start till end – only confusing.  He and his supporters for sure, would know history and certainly not this piece of history of the killing of 1926 – nor that of the case before Calcutta High Court in 1927 titled – ‘ Ishwari Prasad Sharma And Anr. vs King-Emperor on 13 July, 1927’.  For ease of reference, it was a petition by an editor of a weekly newspaper published in the Debnagri character in Calcutta called "Hindi Punch"; and the printer of that.  They had been convicted by the Chief Presidency Magistrate of Calcutta under Section 153A, I.P.C., and sentenced .. …

Swami Shraddhanand (22 Feb 1856 – 23 Dec 1926), also known as Mahatma Munshi Ram Vij, was an Indian educationist and an Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Dayananda Saraswati. This included the establishment of educational institutions, like the Gurukul Kangri University, and played a key role on the Sangathan(consolidation and organization) and the Shuddhi (re-conversion), in the 1920s.

 He was born in  1856 in the village of Talwan in the Jalandhar District of the Punjab Province of India. He was the youngest child in the family of Lala Nanak Chand, who was a Police Inspector in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh), then administered by the East India Company.  He first met Dayanand Saraswati when Dayanand visited Bareilly to give lectures.  He after  completing his studies practised as lawyer.   He headed the 'Punjab Arya Pratinidhi Sabha', and started its monthly journal, Arya Musafir.  In 1902 he established a Gurukul in Kangri, Indianear Haridwar. This school is now recognized as Gurukul Kangri University.   In 1917, Mahatma Munshi Ram took sanyas as "Swami Shradhanand  Saraswati".

He was actively involved in reforms as also in Independence movement.   He also joined the nationwide protest against the Rowlatt Act. In the early 1920s he emerged as an important force in the Hindu Sangathan (consolidation) movement.  Wikipedia reports that Swami Shradhanand was the only Hindu Sanyasi who addressed a huge gathering from the minarets of the main Jama Masjid New Delhi, for national solidarity and vedic dharma starting his speech with the recitation of ved mantras.  He wrote on religious issues in both Hindi and Urdu. He published newspapers in the two languages as well. He promoted Hindi in the Devanagri script, helped the poor and promoted the education of women.  

On 23 Dec 1926 he was assassinated by a person named  Abdul Rashid. Two days after his death,  Gandhi moved a condolence motion at the Guwahati session of the Congress.  An excerpt from the speech in relevant part reads "If you hold dear the memory of Swami Shraddhanandji, you would help in purging the atmosphere of mutual hatred and calumny. You would help in boycotting papers which foment hatred and spread misrepresentation. I am sure that India would lose nothing if 90 per cent of the papers were to cease today. . . Now you will perhaps understand why I have called Abdul Rashid a brother and I repeat it. I do not even regard him as guilty of Swamiji's murder. Guilty indeed are all those who excited feelings of hatred against one another. .. it reads that Gandhi did not condemn the killing but spoke of hatred !
A statue of him was placed in front of Delhi Town Hall after independence, replacing a statue of Queen Victoria.

Pic  :  By Varun Shiv Kapur from New Delhi, India - Town Hall, CC BY 2.0,

Now the case AIR  1927 Cal 747 before Calcutta High Court - Ishwari Prasad Sharma And Anr. vs King-Emperor on 13 July, 1927

The petition had been made by   Iswari Prashad Sharma, the editor of a weekly newspaper published in the Debnagri character in Calcutta called "Hindi Punch"; and Mukund Lall Burman, its printer thereof. They had been convicted by the Chief Presidency Magistrate of Calcutta under Section 153A, I.P.C., and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonments.

The subject-matter of the charge against the two petitioners was  the publication of an article in the form of a drama called Balidan (sacrifice) at page 109 in the issue of the newspaper in question dated the 27th Jan 1927. The immediate occasion, as claimed by the Govt for the publication of the drama in question was the murder of Swami Shradhanand at Delhi in 1926. The murder according to the Magistrate was an event which deeply moved the Hindu world and not only the Hindu world but all classes and conditions of men, and there can be no question that the Hindu community in particular all over India was intensely agitated after the assassination.   In the drama the murder of Pandit Lekhram in Lahore in 1897 by a Mahomedan is recalled apropos of the assassination of Swami Shradhanand, and the writer after indulging in an attack on the miscreants, urges in support of his argument that the salvation of India lies in what is called the Suddhi movement, the fact that at diverse times the Hindus have not received at the hands of Mahomedans the treatment which they thought they had a right to receive from them. The last words are our paraphrase of many of the expressions used by the writer in the drama.

The Judge held that  the intention of the writer has to be judged not only from the words used in scene 4 of the drama but from the drama taken as a whole. The drama taken as a whole, as has been pointed out, is one which was written at a time of great public excitement. It is possible that the writer may have without any malicious intention and honestly thought that he should express himself in the manner in which he did with a view to the removal of causes which according to him were promoting or had a tendency to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of His Majesty's Indian subjects, to wit, the Hindus and Mahomedans. Bearing that in mind and reading the article as a whole from that point of view it is difficult to say that the intension of the writer of this drama was to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of His Majesty's Indian subjects. We think that the writer was quite honest in the view which he took (it may be that it was a wrong view) that the only way to prevent murders like those referred to above was to take steps in the direction indicated in the concluding portion of the drama. If that was so, the writer could not in our opinion be brought within the mischief of Section 153A, I.P.C.; at any rate there is much in the drama which entitles to us to give the benefit of the doubt to the accused.

The Court opined that the conviction and sentence of the petitioners must be set aside. The petitioners who are on bail should be  discharged from their bail bonds.

Interesting but forgotten piece of history ~ also makes us understand the views of Gandhi, Congress, the way our history has been written and more !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th May 2019.