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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Bhutan PM raises salaries of teachers, doctors and nurses .. ..

Just saw Rajnikant in ‘Kuselan’ ~ in the climax the hero Ashok Kumar (Rajni) speaks highly of School teachers and of classmates .. .. do you remember / recall the names of your elementary school teachers ? – when was the last time, you interacted with a teacher in a school ! .. .. and do you earn more than a teacher ??

The 12th year of our Education centre – SYMA Growth commenced with a pooja on 12.6.2019 – this centre provides quality educational support to under-privileged children [around 120 students of X & +2 at Triplicane].  This centre provides ample opportunity to be in the midst of students of economically backward and to talk to dedicated teaching staff at the centre.. ..

The subject matter of the post is a Prime Minister of our neighbouring country – a real multi-tasking master – not sure whether you would have identified this footballer or the surgeon at the operating table to be the present Prime Minister !

In the 18th century, the Bhutanese invaded and occupied the kingdom of Koch Bihar. In 1772, the Maharaja of Koch Bihar appealed to the British East India Company which assisted by ousting the Bhutanese and later in attacking Bhutan itself in 1774. A peace treaty was signed in which Bhutan agreed to retreat to its pre-1730 borders. However, the peace was tenuous, and border skirmishes with the British were to continue for the next hundred years. The skirmishes eventually led to the Duar War (1864–65), a confrontation for control of the Bengal Duars. After Bhutan lost the war, the Treaty of Sinchula was signed between British India and Bhutan. As part of the war reparations, the Duars were ceded to the United Kingdom in exchange for a rent of Rs. 50,000. The treaty ended all hostilities between British India and Bhutan.

Bhutan is a landlocked country, located in the Eastern Himalayas,  bordered by the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, Sikkim, Chumbi valleu, States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal.    Thimphu is its capital and largest city.  The independence of Bhutan has endured for centuries and it has never been colonized in its history. Situated on the ancient Silk Road between Tibet, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the Bhutanese state developed a distinct national identity based on Buddhism. Headed by a spiritual leader known as the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the territory was composed of many fiefdoms and governed as a Buddhist theocracy.  The country's landscape ranges from lush subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan mountains in the north, where there are peaks in excess of 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Gangkhar Puensum is the highest peak in Bhutan.

In South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in economic freedom, ease of doing business, and peace; and is the least corrupt country as of 2016. However, Bhutan continues to be a least developed country. Bhutan is also notable for pioneering the concept of gross national happiness.

Lotay Tshering , the current Prime Minister is unique, he is a Doctor, who spends his weekends at an operating table and tending to patients. Dr Lotay Tshering was one of Bhutan’s most highly regarded doctors before he entered politics and while his prime ministerial duties occupy him during the week, on weekends he returns to the hospital as a way to let off steam. “Some people play golf, some do archery, and I like to operate,” Tshering said as he tended to patients one Saturday morning at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck national referral hospital, describing his moonlighting medical work as a “de-stresser”.

After a first failed election attempt in 2013, Tshering was voted in as prime minister of Bhutan in November 2018. He is the third democratic leader since the country.   He is in news for good reasons !! .. .. .. In a move earning it praise, Bhutan has announced that salaries of teachers, doctors, nurses, and all medical staff will be hiked to make them the highest paid civil servants in the country, The Bhutanese reported. The cabinet decision was taken on June 5. Terming the announcement a “huge strategical move”, the news portal stated that the announcement has overturned the present hierarchy in which unofficial civil service administrators enjoyed various perks including training and trips.

Explaining the improved pay scale, the report states: “The numbers of teachers involved in the hike are huge as there are 8,679 teachers, followed by the medical staff who number around 4,000”. A press release issued by the Bhutanese Prime Minister’s Office stated: “If the pay revision comes through as proposed by the government, teaching becomes the highest paid profession in the country.” The reason for the pay revision, The Bhutanese reports, could be higher stress levels and longer working hours in both medical as well as teaching profession  In a revolutionary move, Education and Health have been given a top spot by the Bhutan Cabinet in a recent pay revision meeting.

As per the new salary hike, teachers with zero to 10 years of experience have been given a 35 per cent professional allowance, whereas a teacher with 10 to 20 years of experience has been given a 45 per cent allowance and 55 per cent has been given to teachers with experience above 20 years. In addition, as per a Bhutan Professional Standards, 10 per cent allowance is given to a proficient teacher, 15 per cent for an accomplished teacher and 20 per cent for a distinguished teacher, the report said. As far as medical staff are concerned, “MBBS doctors get a 45 per cent professional allowance while specialists get between 55 to 60 per cent. Nurses and clinical staff start at 35 per cent for 10 years and go to 45 per cent for above 10 to 20 years and then hit 55 per cent for above 20 years.”

Really laudable attempt ~  respect thy teachers.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th June 2019.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Rishab Pant flying ! ~ what is Contingency planning !!

Most people plan ~ some over do ! ~ there should always be a plan B – a viable alternative. … once I missed Tirupathi Express by a few minutes – took an auto, reached REnigunta where train would stop for 20 odd minutes – could conveniently catch the train to Chennai ! – the  Contingency   plan may not work all the time..In philosophy and logic, contingency is the status of propositions that are neither true under every possible valuation (i.e. tautologies) nor false under every possible valuation (i.e. contradictions). A contingent proposition is neither necessarily true nor necessarily false. .. .. .. difficult to fathom !!

Contingency (noun) would mean a future event or circumstance which is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty.A contingency plan is a plan devised for an outcome other than in the usual (expected) plan. It is often used for risk management for an exceptional risk that, though unlikely, would have catastrophic consequences. Contingency plans are often devised by Govt, business houses and other planners.  During times of crisis, contingency plans are often developed to explore and prepare for any eventuality. The World could come crashing down for any Company if the Computer server that has all information crashes ~ for this they would have a back up server.  I know of a company operating in Chennai having back-up servers in Bangalore and in Singapore – not sure whether there are cloud solutions for this magnitude too.

Rishabh Pant will fly in this week to join the Indian squad as a cover for Shikhar Dhawan, who suffered a hairline fracture after being hit on the left thumb against Australia on Sunday. Pant was one of the standbys announced by the selectors in April, while announcing the 15-man squad for the World Cup.The selectors have worked out that KL Rahul can perform Dhawan's role should he fail to recover, which is the rationale behind choosing Pant, a middle-order batsman, as cover. Rahul was originally picked as the third opener in the squad, but sneaked into the XI last minute as No. 4.

Dhawan is also currently India's only specialist left-hand batsman in the squad, and he disrupted Australia's bowling plans during his century earlier this week, negating legspinner Adam Zampa. This purported advantage against legspin in the middle overs is another significant reason the selectors have opted for the left-handed Pant.At a media briefing at Trent Bridge on Wednesday*, India' assistant coach Sanjay Bangar hinted that Dhawan would sit out of the next three to four matches. Bangar agreed that having a left-hand batsman in the top order was always an advantage and that is something India would need to just cope with until Dhawan is declared fit.He said that Dhawan is a "precious player" and hence the team management decided to not to rule him out straightaway.

Bangar said it was only appropriate to get Pant to be with the squad immediately. "The thing is around 10 or 12 days, we'll be taking a call on the status of Shikhar. Until that point, just to make sure that if and when the replacement is required - and I'm saying if and when - then it is always good to have the replacement player coming in and practising with the team, as a standby."Pant has played five ODIs since his debut against West Indies in October last year and averages 23.25, and he was part of India's squad during their home series against Australia this year. But Dinesh Karthik's experience and wicketkeeping had edged him ahead of Pant when the World Cup squad was named.

Now read this interesting article from TOI where the contingent plan went awry ! -  a Chennai-Ahmedabad GoAir flight (G8911) scheduled to depart at 6.55am on Thursday was delayed by more than four hours after one of the pilots did not turn up for duty.

Passengers had a tough time as they had to wait inside the plane, which was on a parking bay far away from the terminal, till the airline managed to summon a replacement for the crew. The flight finally left at10.30am.The passengers boarded plane on time using shuttle buses. But the plane did not leave well past the departure time.“Around 7.15am, they announced that there would be a delay. After sometime, the cabin crew said the flight would depart after one and a half hours. When we insisted, they said that first officer did not turn up for duty,” said K Suganthan, a passenger, who boarded the plane.

A few passengers wanted to get off the plane and return, but the crew discouraged them saying that they might not be able to leave the terminal till the plane took off and that they would arrange a replacement for the absent pilot when a flight from Mumbai landed.“I managed to return to the terminal because I told them there was no point in flying because I had a return flight the same evening. An official said that they tried to arrange another pilot but failed as they were not reachable,” Suganthan said.

Airlines usually keep one pilot on standby if a crew member scheduled for duty is not able to do the work. However, in this case, the airline could not arrange a pilot immediately.GoAir, in a statement, said, “GoAir flight G8 911 from Chennai to Ahmedabad was delayed as the first officer did not join for duty due to health exigencies. GoAir arranged for a pilot and the flight took off at 10.30am with 177 passengers on board.”

People chose to fly by air because it is lot convenient and more importantly, saves time in a big way !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th June 2019.

Elephant story ! ~ baby born at Belgium Zoo

Brugelette is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut.  The Battle of Jemappes (6 Nov 1792) took place near the town of Jemappes in Hainaut, Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium), near Mons during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. One of the first major offensive battles of the war, it was a victory for the armies of the infant French Republic, and saw the French Armée du Nord, which included a large number of inexperienced volunteers, defeat a substantially smaller regular Austrian army.

General Charles François Dumouriez, in command of an army of French Revolutionary volunteers, faced the Imperial army of Field Marshal Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen and his second-in-command François de Croix, Count of Clerfayt. The French, who outnumbered their opponents by about three-to-one, launched a series of enthusiastic but uncoordinated attacks against the Austrian position on a ridge. At length, the French seized a portion of the ridge and the Austrians were unable to drive them away. Saxe-Teschen conceded defeat by ordering a withdrawal.  Jemappes was won by costly but effective charges against the Austrians' prepared position. Dumouriez overran the Austrian Netherlands within a month, but lost it at the Battle of Neerwinden in March. The French would not reconquer the Austrian Netherlands until the summer of 1794.

I love elephants ~ and recently I had posted on the  newly-built water shower for  Akila,  17-year-old female elephant at the Thiruvanaikoil Arulmigu Jambukeswarar Akhilandeswari temple,  to beat the heat as the temperature soars beyond a threshold in city. The female elephant, which required frequent bathing to beat the heat, now would be able to keep itself cool and active with the water shower, the authorities said. The shower, costing 1 lakh, was gifted to the temple by a Chennai-based donor to celebrate the elephants birthday, which falls this month.

Every now and then, we happen to see campaigns in various modes – spearheaded by foreigners, calling people and funds to save elephants - they would try to portray that in India, elephants are treated cruelly, being tortured and are suffering .. .. go to Kerala – in Temples if you have time to spend – you can realise the bond that exists between humans and the pachyderm and the way they are treated not with care but with affection.

The potential disruption to trade in services from Brexit could pose a far greater threat to the UK and EU economies than restrictions around the movement of goods, according to new research from the Dublin-based Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA).The study - entitled “The Elephant in the Room” - argues that while much of the debate around the implications of Brexit has centred on the free movement of goods, there has been comparatively little focus on the issue of services, which makes up nearly three quarters of the UK’s economic output, and about 70 per cent of the EU’s economic activity.

Miles away, Animal park PairiDaiza in Brugelette in Hainaut province this weekend welcomed a new arrival, with the birth of a baby elephant. The baby is the fourth to be born in the park, and the fourth offspring of 16-year-old mother Farina, whose first two calves were born while she was at Hannover Zoo in Germany.

The father is 18-year-old Po Chin, who has been at PairiDaiza since 2010, and who has already sired two calves there – Ta Wan in 2017 and Malee in February this year.The new female, who is yet to be named, is the second calf to be born this year. The zoo said she was in good health, surrounded by her mother and a team of zoo workers. The elephants at the park are Indian elephants, making up a herd 20-strong, the largest herd of Indian elephants in Europe.

The Indian elephant is one of three types of Asian elephant, all of which are generally smaller than their African cousins, standing up to 3.5m at the shoulder and weighing up to 5 tonnes. The female is smaller than the male, and has short tusks or none at all. Perhaps the most recognisable feature of the Indian variety is their noticeably smaller ears.The Indian elephant has been listed as endangered since 1986, because of a loss of habitat, environmental deterioration and the fragmentation of wild populations. It is now extinct in Pakistan, but there are populations mainly in India, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.

“We’ve had a lot of luck,” said head elephant keeper Rob Conachie. “This is the third female out of four births here. It’s a step forward in the protection of this species. There are only 38,000 of these wonderful creatures left on the planet, so every birth, especially of a female, is of huge importance.”

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th June 2019
Reference on zoo elephant : / photo :

rain abandons play exposing poor planning ECB

"Rain Rain Go Away" is a popular English language nursery rhyme.  There is a short story in the same name too,  by American writer Isaac Asimov. A fantasy rather than a science fiction story, it was based on an idea by Bob Mills, editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, but rejected by him. It was instead published in the September 1959 issue of Fantastic Universe and reprinted in the 1975 collection Buy Jupiter and Other Stories.

The story concerns a seemingly perfect family, the Sakkaros, who become neighbours of another family, the Wrights. The Wrights are puzzled at the great lengths the Sakkaros go to avoid any contact with water !  .. .. in climax,  the downpour happens and the Sakkaros are hit by the rain, causing the faces to blur and their bodies to dissolve, leaving only their clothes and sticky heaps. Mrs. Wright is unable to stop her sentence "...made of sugar and afraid they would melt".  [any connection of Tamil sakkarai with Sakkaros !]

Cricket World Cup 2019 was to have a match between India and New Zealand and some wrote that with both the teams unbeaten, there must be a loser ! – not to be .. the  tournament had its third abandoned match as India-New Zealand fixture was called off without even a toss.  One point each, New Zealand stay on top, India edge ahead of England to third spot. Australia stay second. This now means Afghanistan, England and Australia are the only three sides to escape rain results this World Cup.   It was a record-breaking week at the World Cup..  .. .. for the rain. With as many as four abandonments, it seems like the rain has gathered more points than any other team in the competition.  The World Cup washouts have been frustrating for fans across the planet, and for the teams who feel they have missed out on outright victories. But they have been especially tough on those who have traveled to watch the game.

TOI has an article blaming the Organisers for not even having rain cover - “What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in England? Get yourself some rain cover. That’s common sense. Why can’t the same be for the grounds? Trent Bridge has a great hovercraft. The squares are covered. The drainage is great. Why don’t they have full ground covers?” a major stakeholder in this ICC World Cup, angry that the match between India and New Zealand couldn’t begin, told TOI. A senior cricket executive pointed out, “How much does a ground cover cost? Ask the BCCI because they bought a few of those ahead of the World T20 in March 2016. It wasn’t the monsoon season in India at the time but they still spent that money – around one crore per cover, I think. The India versus Pakistan match at Eden Gardens could take place only because there were full ground covers.”

The England Cricket Board (ECB) has clearly not been short of funds. Former BCCI president and now a member of parliament, Anurag Thakur, said that the budget allotted to ECB for hosting this 2019 World Cup has been three times higher than what India received for hosting the 2016 World T20. “I had taken this up with the ICC in the 2015 ICC board meeting in Barbados,” Thakur recalled. Sources said ECB had asked for an increased budget because they wanted to buy office space in London to work on the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy and the 2019 ICC World Cup. “Renting in central London would’ve been a costlier proposition. ICC approved the budget even as BCCI argued against it. At three times the budget, they couldn’t invest in rain covers?” said the source.

Squabbling over rain forcing no-shows doesn’t end here. There are those who blame the scheduling of the World Cup, which they say has to do a lot more with the 2019 Ashes series that begin in the first week of August. “June and July are the tricky months in England. That is why, every marquee home series in England begins after mid-July. Look at India’s tour of England last year. The one-dayers began on July 12 and the Tests were scheduled straight in August. That’s because it helps the ECB broadcaster. Even the World T20 in Australia next year is a risk.

It’s scheduled in October. Australia’s best four cricketing months are November onwards. But that’s reserved for their home series,” added the sources. Scheduling aside, England is in a mess right now because of traveling spectators who had invested in this trip months in advance.

Here is some rain rule .. at group stages, when match is abandoned, teams get split points.  If a Semi-Final is tied, the teams shall compete in a Super Over to determine which team progresses to the Final. If following a tie, weather conditions prevent the Super Over from being completed, or if the match is abandoned or a no result at the end of the reserve day, then the team which proceeds to the Final will be the team that finished in the higher position in the League Stage. In the event of a tied final, the teams shall compete in a Super Over to determine which team is the winner.  If following a tie, weather conditions prevent the Super Over from being completed, or if the match is abandoned or a no result at the end of the reserve day, the teams shall be declared joint winners.

Cricinfo has this interesting one – on what Srilankan Board does .. ..  driven, of course, by the desire to deliver a bankable broadcast product (the only whip that reliably animates administrators), SLC has taken stock of its challenges. Teams are generally unwilling to tour the island in its driest months, largely due to clashes with the Southern Hemisphere summer. As such Sri Lanka are forced to schedule tours from June through September, when there are frequent downpours. Worse, with sides such as England, who have their own home season through the middle of the year, SLC must occasionally host them in October and November, which is the domain of the northeastern monsoon. And yet, SLC has counteracted these scheduling misfortunes with a singularly effective strategy: they cover the whole ground.

No full tour of Sri Lanka goes by without a rain interruption, and to watch Sri Lanka's groundstaff - the fastest in the world - in action, is practically its own form of entertainment. The pitch is first covered by a rubberised tarpaulin, before two more are heaped on top of that, a team of over 100 working in unison to ensure less than a minute's worth of rain falls on the square. Once the centre is protected, the staff break into separate crews, a supervisor calling out instructions, and the remainder of the playing area is enveloped before 10 further minutes, at most. So well-drilled are these enormous teams, and so efficient, that at times you suspect, they surpass North Korean military shows for precision and spectacle. The clear advantage that covering the entire playing area yields over, say, merely having good drainage, is the speed with which a ground can be readied the moment rain stops. Within an hour, play has often resumed. Can the same be said for serious rain interruptions virtually anywhere else? The square and the bowlers' run-ups might require little work, but the vast areas of the ground that remain uncovered in England require substantial going-over with super soppers, plus additional drying with a rope.

The obvious caveat to all this, of course, is that labour is relatively cheap on the island. More to the point, perhaps, masses of young Sri Lankans can more easily be convinced to spend several days pulling covers, if for no other reason than they are keen to watch the cricket while the sun does shine. Hiring a hundred casual staff for match days plus rehearsals may be impractical in nations such as England. But covering the entire ground need not be. A few new tractors, a pile of fresh covers, and perhaps just a handful of additional staff - all this is feasible. It is not as if either the ECB or the ICC can claim to be hard up for cash.

Or should Cricket be played in indoor stadiums or ones with roofing over – the retractable ones ! ..  the roof at Wembley is partially-retractable and can be moved - but doesn't cover the pitch. It sits 52 metres above the playing surface and can move forwards and backwards, enough to cover the seating behind each goal. The design team wanted maximum sunlight to enter the ground and the roof is never adjusted whilst spectators are in the stadium. The closed nature of the stadium means that it is not illuminated by traditional light towers. Instead, the lights are spread out in a rectangle along the framework that holds the roof. There are fewer lights at both ends in line with the wicket, so as to not be in the batters line of sight.

The Etihad stadium has a roof .. .. .. Mike Hussey became the first player to hit a ball into the roof, a full 120 feet above the ground, back in 2005. It was in an Australia versus World XI exhibition game, and the ball was called a dead ball, much to Hussey’s displeasure. The rule was modified in the 2012 BBL, to allow the batter six runs if the ball hit the framework of the roof outside the boundary.

England needs to plan the World Cup ~ fans do not pay for seeing rain, though rains are the most wanted one here in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and many parts of India.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th June 2019.