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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Botswana decides to allow big game hunting !!


Bharat Ane Nenu  starring Mahesh Babu was released in 2018   directed by Koratala Siva.  The film is about Bharat, a student unexpectedly becoming the leader of Andhra Pradesh and his attempts to reform politics.  No comparison between a Cine portrayal – elsewhere in Botswana,   Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi became s the fifth President of Botswana, in  2018. He has also served as Minister of Education since 2014, and previously he was Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration – has now sought to redefine the lives of elephants !!

Botswana—widely considered a safe haven for elephants in Africa—appears to be suffering from its own surge in poaching, according to aerial survey work published today in the journal Current Biology. “We have a significant poaching problem—let’s deal with it,” says Mike Chase, who, as the director of the Botswana-based nonprofit Elephants Without Borders, led the latest aerial survey study as well as earlier elephant counts, including the 18-country Great Elephant Census. “We were warned by conservationists in other countries that the poachers would eventually come down to Botswana, and now they’re here,” he says.

Botswana is estimated to be home to more than 130,000 savanna elephants—about a third of Africa’s remaining population. Until recently, the southern African country had largely escaped the scourge of elephant killings for ivory, still in high demand in China and elsewhere. The African Wildlife Foundation, an international conservation nonprofit, estimates that as many as 35,000 elephants are killed each year in Africa. Zambia’s Sioma Ngwezi National Park, for example, had about 900 elephants in 2004 but only an estimated 48 just over a decade later—losses likely driven by ivory poaching. And in the Ruaha-Rungwa region of south-central Tanzania, the elephant population is estimated to have fallen from more than 34,000 in 2009 to 8,000 by 2014.

The Botswana count in Current Biology appears on the heels of last month’s announcement by the government that it will lift its five-year-old hunting ban on all species—a controversial move that will allow renewed trophy hunts of elephants and other animals. Such hunts, the government said, are needed because dangerous encounters between people and elephants have been increasing and may threaten livelihoods, among other reasons. It's one of the world's last sanctuaries for African elephants. But now, Botswana says, its population of the animals will be fair game for hunters. The southern African nation, which is home to 130,000 elephants -- more than anywhere else on the continent -- imposed the ban in 2014 to help declining numbers recover from poaching and shrinking habitats.

Recently, Botswana's government scrapped the ban, shrugging off criticism from some environmental groups and conservationists. It cited increasing conflict between humans and elephants, as well as the need to monetize conservation efforts. "Conservation is in our DNA. We have never been reckless. Our responsibility towards conservation has not changed, but our responsibility to the people has not changed as well," said Kitso Mokaila, minister of environment, wildlife and tourism in a press conference in the capital, Gaborone. He maintained the ban had always been temporary. Earlier this year a cabinet group in Botswana recommended elephant culling and a factory to can elephant meat. The proposals drew a major backlash.

"If it is all about community and wildlife conflict, there are dozens and dozens of options that can be used before one hauls out the guns," a Conservationist  told CNN. "Many people would be willing to put up a lot of money and ideas to help communities before we resort to the killing of animals." The African elephant is classified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List.  

Hunting for big game, including elephants, is common practice in the neighboring countries of southern Africa. The governments of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa assert that well-managed hunting can help preserve the herds by channeling profits into conservation, and protect ecosystems from the destructive power of large elephant populations. Hunting, what ? ~ mere killing by rich people armed with sophisticated machinery, shooting and killing animals that have no protection and what is great about this mindless act ??

There is an ongoing debate about the actual worth of hunting licenses compared to tourism dollars. The Botswanan government said it would grant up to 400 licenses per year for shooting elephants. Overall, tourism generates far more jobs and revenue than hunting, according to photographic safari operators and former hunters. Many scientists and conservationists also feel that protecting elephants is a moral imperative. "It's a morally repugnant issue, the equivalent of shooting dogs, cats, whales or great apes," said Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton. Multiple studies show that elephants are highly intelligent, sentient creatures that are aware of what happens in their environment, and express fear and stress when other members of their species are killed. "Hunting is an outdated practice which has no place in the modern world," Kenyan wildlife conservationist Paula Kahumbu told CNN. .. .. .. and sadly, the so called hunters,  prefer the biggest bulls, with the largest tusks.  That can skew sex distribution and affect elephant ecology, knocking out the strongest and most knowledgeable of the species out of the gene pool.

Of course, it is far less evil that  Poaching, that potentially could wipe out populations. And in some parts of the continent, it already has. The main difference between Poaching & Hunting is – first is considered illegal activity by people trying to make money by killing the latter is legal killing by rich people willing to spend money for the same activity – for the hapless animal it makes no difference !

Right now, the sale of ivory is banned by an international agreement on trade in endangered species.But Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with the support of South Africa, are making a fresh appeal to lift restrictions on the sale of raw ivory. Those countries account for more than half of the world's elephants and have millions of dollars' worth of stockpiles that they say could be sold and plowed back into conservation. Several weeks ago, as they discussed lobbying against the ivory ban at a summit in Botswana, the host government presented the visiting leaders with elephant feet stools. It was an odd gift for a country trying to push its conservation credentials. All these point to a  shift under President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who has taken a markedly different stance on conservation and hunting than his predecessor.

As it happens the move to lift the ban is tried to be projected by PR pundits as if a move  lauded by locals claiming  wild elephants are ruining their livelihoods.  In a statement detailing the reversal, Botswana’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism cited the increasing prevalence of human-elephant conflict, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ inability to respond to animal control reports in a timely fashion, and the toll on communities ill-equipped to handle the unimpeded roaming of these roughly 12,000-pound creatures. The ministry further said that reinstatement will be performed “in an orderly and ethical manner.”  The exact nature of this “ethical” implementation remains unclear, as do the long-term ramifications of the decision for both Botswana’s human and pachyderm residents.

To protect the pachyderms from trophy hunters and ivory poachers, former President Ian Khama imposed the hunting ban in 2014. An ardent conservationist, he also introduced a highly controversial “shoot to kill” policy for stopping poachers, which included arming anti-poaching units with military-grade weapons and approved shooting known poachers on sight. Both policies have been eliminated under the current administration. The elephant hunting ban helped Botswana emerge as a “conservation success story.” Soon after taking office, Khama’s successor President Mokgweetsi Masisi tasked a committee with re-evaluating the ban. A committee of local authorities, affected communities, non-profits, tourism organizations, conservationists and other so-called “stakeholders” was created to assess the ban’s status. In February, the committee released its recommendations, which included lifting the ban, implementing “regular but limited elephant culling,” and, most controversially, establishing the practice of canning elephant meat for pet food—a suggestion that has since been abandoned. Rather than advocating for outright culling, Masisi’s government now prefers the term selective “cropping.”

As elephant expert said , “There’s no such thing as ‘ethical hunting.’ It’s an oxymoron.” Africa loses some 30,000 elephants to ivory poaching every year, but Botswana, according to National Geographic’s Bale, has so far “largely escaped” the crisis. An elephant is killed on the African continent once every 15 minutes,  Botswana was the last refuge for these elephants, and suddenly that refuge is going to start hunting them. Many environmentalists fear that the lifted ban is simply a precursor to renewed efforts aimed at legalizing the ivory trade. In purely economic terms, suspending the ban carries the risk of hurting Botswana’s tourism industry, which is the country’s second highest source of foreign income after diamond mining. Currently, Botswana markets itself as what BBC News deems a “luxury safari destination,” attracting wealthy visitors eager to interact with elephants and other exotic animals in their native habitat. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, agriculture and land development have driven African elephants into an increasingly smaller area over the past several decades.

So like the story of African story of ‘deer getting up every day knowing that it has to run faster than the fastest of chasing cheetah’ – elephants in Botswana will have to get up thinking of hiding themselves from the modern gadgets of licensed game hunters ! Sad !!  .. .. every now and then a Western journalist would raise a hue of elephants being chained, confined and not properly treated in India, would they not read, know – travel to these places, cry for saving the same hapless mammoth elephant !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Aug 2019.
Pic of impressive elephant : credit facebook page of Botswana President Masisi

Thursday, August 15, 2019

VB is no more !!! Sad !!


57 certainly not the age ! ~ my heart still wishes that the news it untrue !

Have not seen many from Tamil Nadu play for India – Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik is almost out; will Vijayshankar get another chance is not known – most talented Ravi Ashwin is getting a raw deal; while Washington Sundar plays in T20 – there was a time when this man opened with Krish Srikkanth and then with Woorkeri Venkat Raman.

In all he played only 7 ODIs – ended up making 88 in total with highest of 53 – certainly not doing justice to his talent – could never fathom why he did not succeed at that level. – the man Vakkadai Biksheswaran Chandrasekhar born on 21.8.1961 – played for Tamil Nadu and Goa at Ranji level. Was a real swash buckler !

It was a real thriller of match in Oct 1988 which brought VB Chandrasekhar into National reckoning.   ROI captained by Arunlal made 433 with good contributions from IB Roy 60; Navjot Sidhu 86, Srikant Kalyani 93; Jeshwant 62.  S Vasudevan took 5 for 116.  Krish Srikkanth leading TN made 57 and TN were all out for 226.   Gopal Sharma took 6/69.  ROI made the blunder of batting again and this time were shot out for 132 in less than 50 overs with Vasudevan taking 4 and Srikkanth taking 3 for 14.  Chasing a target of 340, Srikkanth and VB Chandrasekhar plundered at will and TN made the required runs in 79 overs brining out a remarkable victory which remains etched in memory.  Hirwani and Gopal Sharma were hit to all parts of Chepauk.  Watched that innings at Chepauk when most of my friends had started for home with no hope of TN doing something in that match.

He  scored 4,999 runs from 81 matches when he retired from first class cricket. Remember that he made his debut against New Zealand at Visakhapatnam – Krishnamachari Srikkan took 5 wickets and scored 70.  At Vadodara, he opened with Srikkanth again, scored 53. Later in 1990 played his last 2 matches against Australia at  Christchurch & Hamilton – and was never to play for India again.

He would ever be remembered as the man who picked up Mahendra Singh Dhoni.  He once wrote of his train journey to Hyderabad Ranji Trophy debut.  His father was a leading lawyer and he made Ranji debut at the Secunderabad Gymkhana. Abdul Jabbar lost the toss Abdul Azeem scored a triple hundred. Khalid Abdul Qayyum and Vijay Mohanraj also get a hundred. Immanuel Rajkumar, also made his debut and would not like to remember that match. In 1988 in that Irani Cup match at Chepauk, chasing a mammoth 340 to win, VB  scored 119. He scored his hundred from 56-balls. It was then the fastest in First-Class cricket by an Indian.


In 1997, Chandrasekhar opened his VB Cricket Academy.  He served as state and national level selector. He served as a Chairman of State Selection from 2001 to 2007. He was the national selector in between 2004 and 2006.

Sad to know that the gentle person  V.B. Chandrasekhar passed away in Chennai today. He was 57 !  He had a great role to play in TNPL too.  His commentary was pleasant and enjoyable

Tamil Nadu and his innumerable followers will miss him. I was a great fan of his and FB friend of him too.

Feeling sad – S. Sampathkumar
15.8.2019.@ 22:15 hrs.


Indian Independence ~ some history at Lal Qila (Red Fort)


In his first address to the nation from Red Fort after this year's Lok Sabha elections and the sixth consecutive one on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modiji  today spoke about issues like Article 370, Article 35A, criminalising triple talaq, welfare schemes for the farmers and announced the launch of a new Jal Jeevan Mission to provide potable water.  On the economic front, PM Modiji  expressed confidence that India will become a $5 trillion economy in the next five years. "From 2014 to 2019, we became a $3 trillion economy. Before that, in the last 70 years, the country was a $2 trillion economy. We added $1 trillion to the economy in just five years. Now we are looking forward to making the nation a $5 trillion economy," said Narendra Modi in his speech. He also stood up in support of industrialists, saying that wealth creators should not be eyed with suspicion and that they are country's wealth and should be respected.

Every Independence Day, Prime Minsiter delivers address from the ramparts of Red Fort.  Here is some history that the Nation should be knowing !

·         Heard  of drama film – Raag Desh ?
·         Heard of Gurbaksh Singh Dillon and his connection with LaL Qila ?
·         Were the British merciful and did India benefit because it was subjugated to foreign rule ??

                     Red Fort [Lal Qila]  has Lahori Gate and Delhi Gate.  Images of the fort have  featured prominently on postage stamps. It is associated with history. The vandalism carried out in 1857 after the suppression of the rebellion makes it a site remembered for national resistance.  In Nov  1945, the Red Fort was selected as the venue for the court martial of Shah Nawaz Khan, PremSahgal and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon. These were three token individuals, selected from the many thousands of Indian officers and troops who had joined the Indian National Army and fought against the British during the Second World War. But in our History books, we did not read of Indian freedom struggle but more of mercy of Cawning, kindness of Atlee, administrative skills of Dalhouse, coronation of King George, Delhi Durbar and more .. .. not on INA and other freedom fighters. 

Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon (1914 –2006) was an officer in the Indian National Army (INA) who was charged with "waging war against His Majesty the King Emperor". Along with Shah Nawaz Khan and Prem Kumar Sahgal, he was tried at the end of World War II in the INA trials that began on 5 November 1945 at Red Fort.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Singapore on the early morning of 7 Dec 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. The Japanese forces completely destroyed the squadrons of the Royal Air Force at Sungei, Alor Star, and Kota Bharu airfields. On 11 Dec 1941, 1/14th Punjab Regiment fought a pitched battle at Changlun near the Thai frontier. Dhillon commanded the Headquarters Company with his C.O. Colonel Fitzpatrick. The Battle of Changlun went on for eight hours, before ending in defeat. The town of Alor Star had also fallen. But in Dec 1941, Dhillon fell ill afflicted by Malaria and hospitalised at Singapore.  The Battle of Singapore concluded on 15 Feb 1942 resulting in the British Forces in Singapore surrendering unconditionally to the Japanese Army under General Yamashita.

The Indian National Army trials (INA trials), which are also called the Red Fort trials, were the British Indian trial by courts-martial of a number of officers of the Indian National Army (INA) between Nov 1945 and May 1946, for charges variously for treason, torture, murder and abetment to murder during World War II. The first, and most famous, of the approximately ten trials held in the Red Fort in Delhi. In total, approximately ten courts-martial were held. The first of these, and the most celebrated one, was the joint court-martial of Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan. The three had been officers in the British Indian Army and were taken as prisoners of war in Malaya, Singapore and Burma. They had, like a large number of other troops and officers of the British Indian Army, joined the Indian National Army and later fought in Imphal and Burma alongside the Japanese forces in allegiance to Azad Hind. These three came to be the only defendants in the INA trials who were charged with "waging war against the King-Emperor" as well as murder and abetment of murder. Those charged later only faced trial for torture and murder or abetment of murder. These trials attracted much publicity, and public sympathy for the defendants who were considered patriots of India and fought for the freedom of India from the British Empire. Outcry over the grounds of the trial, as well as a general emerging unease and unrest within the troops of the Raj, ultimately forced the then Army Chief Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck to commute the sentences of the three defendants in the first trial.

During the trial, mutiny broke out in the Royal Indian Navy, incorporating ships and shore establishments of the RIN throughout India from Karachi to Bombay and from Vizag to Calcutta. The most significant if disconcerting factor for the Raj was the significant militant public support that it received. At some places, NCOs in the British Indian Army started ignoring orders from British superiors. In Madras and Pune, the British garrisons had to face revolts within the ranks of the British Indian Army.  Another Army mutiny took place at Jabalpur during the last week of Feb 1946, soon after the Navy mutiny at Bombay. This was suppressed by force, including the use of the bayonet by British troops. It lasted about two weeks. After the mutiny, about 45 persons were tried by court martial. 41 were sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment or dismissal.

Whether as a measure of the pain that the allies suffered in Imphal and Burma or as an act of vengeance, Mountbatten, Head of Southeast Asia Command, ordered the INA memorial to its fallen soldiers destroyed when Singapore was recaptured in 1945  After the war ended, the story of the INA and the Free India Legion was seen as so inflammatory that, fearing mass revolts and uprisings—not just in India, but across its empire—the British Government forbade the BBC from broadcasting their story.

Today on 73rd Independence Day of the Nation, we remember all those martyrs whose blood, bravery, patriotism and sacrifice only ensured that we got freedom and live in a freeland.  Jai Hind !!

                                   RaagDesh (Love thy country) is a 2017 Indian historical action drama film directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and produced by Gurdeep Singh Sappal and Rajya Sabha TV.  The film is based on Indian National Army trials, the joint court martial of Indian National Army officers. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Aug 2019.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Independence of Nations ~ history of Balochistan


In our Nation some fringe parties speak of Kashmir and Independence after abrogation of article 370  without understanding the finer aspects and with no knowledge of History – pity them, for they know not, what they speak ! ~ and we have not read History properly in our school days. 

How many of them will condemn this - Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will celebrate the Independence Day of Pakistan (August 14) in PoK where he is scheduled to address the legislative assembly after India revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. According to the Pakistan Prime Minister's office, Imran Khan, accompanied by several ministers, will fly to Muzaffarabad on August 14 and hold an all-parties' conference there. He will be presented with a Guard of Honour. .. .. this is only to needle India ! - here is some history for those minions ! ~ that of Balochistan – one of the districts of Pak.

The Khanate of Kalat was a princely state that existed from 1666 to 1955 in the centre of the modern-day province of Balochistan, Pakistan. Prior to that they were subjects of Mughal emperor Akbar.  Ahmedzai Baloch and Brahui Khan ruled the state independently until 1839, when it became a self-governing state in a subsidiary alliance with British India. After the signature of the Treaty of Mastung by the Khan of Kalat and the Baloch Sardars in 1876, Kalat became part of the Baluchistan Agency.  It was briefly independent from 12 Aug 1947 until 27 Mar 1948, when the Khanate was occupied by the new Dominion of Pakistan.

To go back in history, the Pāratarajas was a dynasty of Parthian kings,  from the 1st century to the 3rd century. The seat of their capital was Balochistan. Centuries later the place was under the Durrani Empire which at its peak, ruled over modern-day countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, as well as some parts of northeastern Iran, eastern Turkmenistan, and northwestern India including the Kashmir region. After the death of Nader Shah in 1747, the region of Kandahar was claimed by Ahmad Shah Durrani. From there he began conquering Ghazni followed by Kabul. After the death of Ahmad Shah in about 1772, his son Timur Shah became the next ruler of the Durrani dynasty who decided to make Kabul the new capital of the empire, and used Peshawar as the winter capital.

The Third Battle of Panipat took place on 14 Jan 1761 at Panipat, about 60 miles (97 km) north of Delhi, between a northern expeditionary force of the Maratha Empire and invading forces of the King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Abdali, supported by two Indian allies.  The battle is considered one of the largest and most eventful fought in the 18th century,  and has perhaps the largest number of fatalities in a single day reported in a classic formation battle between two armies.  The forces led by Ahmad Shah Durranidestroyed several  Maratha flanks.

The modern day Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan. It is the largest province in terms of land area, forming the southwestern region of the country, but is the least populated. Its provincial capital and largest city is Quetta.Balochistan shares borders with Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Iran, Afghanistan and Arabian Sea.  The main ethnic groups in the province are the Baloch people and the Pashtuns. Largely underdeveloped, its provincial economy is dominated by natural resources, especially its natural gas fields, estimated to have sufficient capacity to supply Pakistan's demands over the medium to long term.

In the 15th century, Mir Chakar Khan Rind became the first Sirdar of Afghani, Irani and Pakistani Balochistan. He was a close aide of the Timurid ruler Humayun, and was succeeded by the Khanate of Kalat, which owed allegiance to the Mughal Empire. Later, Nader Shah won the allegiance of the rulers of eastern Balochistan. He ceded Kalhora, one of the Sindh territories of Sibi-Kachi, to the Khanate of Kalat. Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Afghan Empire, also won the allegiance of that area's rulers, and many Baloch fought under him during the Third Battle of Panipat. Most of the area would eventually revert to local Baloch control after Afghan rule.

During the period of the British Raj from the fall of the Durrani Empire in 1823, four princely states were recognised and reinforced in Balochistan: In  1883, the British took control of the Bolan Pass, south-east of Quetta, from the Khan of Kalat.  In 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand negotiated an agreement with the Amir of Afghanistan,  to fix the Durand Line running from Chitral to Balochistan as the boundary between the Emirate of Afghanistan and British-controlled areas

Balochistan contained a Chief Commissioner's province and four princely states under the British Raj. Three of the princely states, Makran, Las Bela and Kharan, acceded to Pakistan in 1947 after independence. But the ruler of the fourth princely state, the Khan of Kalat, Ahmad Yar Khan, who used to call Jinnah his 'father',  declared Kalat's independence as this was one of the options given to all of the 565 princely states by British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. Kalat finally acceded to Pakistan on March 27, 1948 after the 'strange help' of All India Radio and a period of negotiations and bureaucratic tactics used by Pakistan.  The signing of the Instrument of Accession by Ahmad Yar Khan, led his brother, Prince Abdul Karim, to revolt against his brother's decision in July 1948. The Princes fought a lone battle without support from the rest of Balochistan.  Jinnah and his successors allowed Yar Khan to retain his title until the province's dissolution in 1955.

Insurgencies by Baloch nationalists took place in 1948, 1958–59, 1962–63 and 1973–77 – with a new ongoing insurgency by autonomy-seeking Baloch groups since 2003. Many thousands of the Baloch still support the demand for autonomy.  History has it that Balochistan was forcibly accessed years later after the Independence of India and Pakistan ~ and state which made such force in taking regions, now talks of internal matter of India aka Kashmir

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Aug 2019.