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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Transporting Cargo - Box Trains

As you travel by there would a railway level crossing. Quite expectantly one would look out for the oncoming train – a goods train would chug out winding its way past.

One wonders what could be inside the goods wagons (if at all they are closed ones) – down South here, you might not have frequent opportunities of containers being hauled by. That could happen only if there is a inland container depot nearby. (Remember my recent article of fire in Tuglakabad ICD)
It is common knowledge that Indian Railways is one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world, transporting 20 million passengers and more than 2 million tonnes of freight daily. It employs around 1.6 million employees; closer to 7000 railway stations spanning close to 64000 kilo meters.

A goods train is the special train which hauls cargo wagons transporting bulk material and various others – sometimes intermodal containers. The economy of any country is dependent on movement of goods and we do not have any specialised cargo operation for container cargo by train.

Whilst it is not happening inside the Country, Europe is far different. Italy is located in Europe in the Italian peninsula of Southern Europe; Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia – strong in agriculture and manufacturing. Efficient transport is the lifeblood of the European economy. Fast and cheap delivery from factories in Europe is available – though road is the most preferred mode, the increasing traffic and congestion has lead to exploration of rail, sea and inland waterways both within and across European countries. One of the specialists in such logistics is Marco Polo which aims at improving the environmental performance of European freight transport, by freeing the roads.

It was reported in Press  (news source)  that a Belarusian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister is set to hold talks with Italy's Deputy Minister for Economic Development to discuss a wide range of topical issues of trade and economic cooperation, including a possibility to set up the Italian Industrial Area in the Brest Oblast. Last year the countries concluded agreement on launching Express Freight train known as Marco Polo Express freight train between Brest and Portogruaro.

This project envisages the transportation of goods from Italy to Belarus and in transit to the CIS and Baltic states and in the future to Scandinavian states, China, Korea in both directions. The first pilot train left Portogruaro on 9 March 2010. The train consisted of 24 carriages with 40-feet containers. The train arrived in Brest on 13 March. The cargo was then forwarded to other destinations by container trains of Belarusian Railways.

In the other part of the World, in the China’s central Jiangxi province similar thing occurred with the launching of empty container train service from Nanchang in China’s central Jiangxi province to Beilun port in February, the Port of Ningbo has started a loaded box train service on the same route. The inaugural train carried 96 TEU on 48 wagons with a transit time of 27 hours.

The freight train service is aimed at hinterland service expansion by the Port of Ningbo.

It is not the production alone that matter more is on the distribution channels and Countries with such far reaching vision would be way ahead of others when it comes to Export, logistics, earning foreign exchange and of course increased per capita earning and standard of living of its citizens.

With regards – S Sampathkumar.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

diesel tank of truck explodes killing worker - do you call this an accident ???

Death awaited a casual worker whilst he was on his usual routine repair ritual in a lorry. A small column news in some local newspaper and would fade away unnoticed, unobserved and not discussed.

Industrialisation and urbanisations ensures that there are hundreds of trucks plying into the city loaded with various material and obviously many of them are rickety old ones requiring many repairs. Mostly these are carried out on a temporary way at road side repair garages who might have expertise but certainly not the tools needed. The lack of safety features and more importantly the inability to recognise potential hazards abets more accidents, which are easily avoidable. Sad state of affairs indeed when you know that there are hundreds of labourers involved in this, eking out measly amounts after hard toil.

The hazard is very high in case of tankers (lorries which transport liquid cargo) In western countries for liquefied loads, the vehicle would be sophisticatedly maintained. After each carriage, they would be put to proper cleaning, using steam or chemical going by what was carried. It would be in prime fit for the next carriage but not in places where they operate on small margins and are prepared to carry anything for a small margin. The consignors who send cargo normally do not care much to check on the vehicle. You could see rickety trucks leaking out precious water, some places milk, oil and even chemicals.

Repairs – mending damaged parts is mostly manual exercise. Tinkering sheds prop up in nuke and corners where by expertise gained over the years, mechanics apply their learnt wisdom to unseen and issues not experienced by them earlier. It is the safety which runs away and the conditions are appalling indeed.

When there are gaps in joints or body parts, welding is the common medicine. Welding primarily is a fabrication or process that joins materials / metals by causing coalescence. This is done by melting workpieces and adding a filler material to form a pool of molten material, which when cooled becomes a strong joint. Soldering is another technique which involves melting a lower melting point material between the pieces. This is done by using gas flame which is noxious, not to be seen with naked eye and can cause great damage when spilt. Electrodes are also used and this consumable material is molten by current or gas – thus there is lurking naked fire.

The shops would not have any safety mechanism and these technicians do not have any exposure to safety measures to be followed in the event of some accident ! (Do you still call them accident when it is waiting to happen and almost invited to…)

In a gruesome incident, a labour cutting the diesel tank of a mangled lorry with gas-cutting equipment suffered severe burns and died later when the tank exploded at a shop in Border Thottam off the arterial Anna Salai in the Tamilnadu’s capital city of Chennai on 27/4/10. 25 year old worker hailing from Bihar was thrown a few metres away in the impact of the blast that occurred around 12.15pm. Four others were injured.

The police initially registered a case under Sections 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC. Later, after the worker died of burns at the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital (KMCH) they registered a case under IPC Section 304 (a) (causing death by negligence) and arrested the gas-cutting shopowners, holding them responsible for the death, allegedly failing to provide adequate safety.

It is reported that the worker was taking apart he lorry that had been brought from nearby State, as he could not remove the diesel tank, tried cutting it into two. The diesel traces inside ignited and the tank exploded causing the accident. He was rushed to nearby Govt. Royapettah hospital where he succumbed to the injuries.

I have witnessed manual welding / gas cutting inside the tanker portion of the truck, little realising the presence of residual gases which are a great hazard. Men would get into the narrow holes, cling on in unreconcilable positions. Many a times they would ignore the falling fire balls of small and large hue and other hazards. There are stories of explosion once in a while, in which the tanker portion would get tossed in air.

Quite unfortunate this unorganised sector is never insured and the worker would never have enough for the treatment, leave alone thinking of compensation benefits.

Obviously there would be regulations and most of them are flouted at will. Safety is the condition of being protected against physical, occupational, chemical and other accidents and this can be done only when the hazard is recognised. The key to prevention is to understand and identify the hazard i.e., any existing or potential situation that by itself or through interaction could result in a potential accident.

Human lives are invaluable irrespective of whether it was that of a labour or somebody from a rural place ! With some thinking such accidents are indeed avoidable.

With concern
S Sampathkumar.

Welcoming the new Office Bearers of Srinivas Youngmens Association (SYMA)

Dear (s)

Those of you with whom I have been in constant touch would not require any introduction of Srinivas Young Mens Association (SYMA) committed to the cause of social service and functioning from Triplicane for more than 33 years now. I have been circulating to you all, our monthly newsletter BLISS of which I have been the editor for more than 7 years now.

To those of you new, the origin of SYMA established in 1977 can be traced to a few spirited youngsters of Triplicane, who dared to dream towards the betterment of the Society. Their zeal, wisdom, awareness of the fact that evil would triumph only when good men remain still without doing anything made them realise the imperative need for organized efforts to advance human welfare. All these lead to the formation of SYMA. Legend has it that these young men with vision, undertook a trip to the holy Seven Hills vowing to serve the society and very aptly the guiding spirit “Srinivas” was chosen as the prefix for this Young Men's Association. Thus the name is HE and nothing human. SYMA is founded on the basic tenets of love for mankind, promotion of peace & human brotherhood and does not discriminate anybody on caste, creed or religion. Little wonder, that these strong and lofty fundamentals have enabled it to withstand the test of time for nearly three decades.

Over the years our Association has been in the forefront of service in Education, Health, Civic Amenities, Environment Protection, Rainwater Harvesting and more importantly Nation building. The association believes in coordinating with the various Government departments and other agencies in developing proper infrastructure and civic amenities besides creating civic awareness. Our volunteers have been in the forefront in times of crisis by natural calamities like flood / Tsunami and whenever the society at large needs help. Also, inculcating good qualities in youth is very much a part of our agenda.

We at SYMA believe that Duty is not for reward and we serve the society as the rain cloud does to the world without thinking of any recompense. SYMA has been immensely benefited by the strong and service minded office bearers who have worked tirelessly in catapulting it to where it is today. We are also extremely fortunate to have the patronage of a lot of philanthropists who have provided the financial assistance for our operations.

Being an Organisation wedded to democratic principles, we have our General Body convened every year wherein the office bearers for running the association for the ensuing year are elected. This year our AGM was conducted on Sunday, 25th of April 2010 and new team of Office bearers assumed charge. The change in mantle is to ensure service in tune with the times and the organisational principles will never be diluted. Here is the new team: -

This year I have taken charge as Secretary and commit to discharge the responsibility with vigour and commitment. Look forward to the blessing of Almighty, support of you all in steering the activities in right direction. This year we would concentrate on our newly planted sapling tuition centre – SYMA GROWTH and the medical centre, which we are running independently for a year now. Soon we will have our Education Aid programme through which we provide uniform to school children and monetary aid for some college students.

I request you all to join SYMA and help ourselves in improving not only the locality but this Great Nation into a strong self sustained Bharat

Devotedly yours
Srinivasan Sampathkumar.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Here is an interesting Insurance claim decided by Apex Court on 15th April 2010 – that is pertains to the policy period 1976 – 77 makes a very sad reading though. In the Apex Court, the Civil appeal was preferred by the Amravati Dist Central Coop Bank Ltd against United India Fire & General Insurance Co Ltd (not many would still remember that it was the name of United India Insurance Co those days)

The claim arose under Banker’s Indemnity Policy for the period 1.7.76 – 77 which was to indemnify the Bank against losses caused by acts or omission of bank’s employees to a limit of Rs.6 lakhs; + cash in safe of Rs.9 lakhs. The Policy was to indemnify all direct losses but not exceeding the total SI in respect of any one person in respect of any one casualty and twice the total SI in respect of all such losses in any one period of insurance. The Policy Excess was 25% on each and every claim with a minimum of Rs.11500/-

An employee of the Bank committed a series of embezzlements and based on a report dated 28 2 1977 from its Special Auditor, the Bank complained to the Police and suspended the employee during March 1977. The employee was eventually dismissed from service on 19.3.1978. The Bank preferred a claim arising out of this embezzlement for Rs.3,58,000/- and after prolonged correspondence, the Insurer offered to reimburse Rs.29000/- in full and final settlement of the claim, subject to further deduction of premium of Rs.538/-

The Bank did not agree and appointed an arbitrator. As the Insurer did not appoint theirs, this arbitrator turned the sole arbitrator. The Insurer did not participate in the proceedings. An ex parte award was made during Aug 1983. The Arbitrator felt that all the embezzlements were connected and in all a sum of Rs.344450/- was defrauded from various accounts of the bank. The Arbitrator held that these losses were covered under the contingency envisaged under the Policy and held that Excess clause could not apply to each and every loss separately, the amount had to be aggregated and the Bank had to bear 25% as Excess – Insurer liable to pay the balance.

The Bank made an application in Civil court under Sec 14 & 17 of Arbitration Act 1940 in Jan 1984. The Insured filed a petition under Sec 30 seeking setting aside of ex parte award. Both the petitions were heard together and during June 1990 the Civil Court upheld the award. Feeling aggrieved, the Insurer filed an appeal in the High Court of Bombay.

This appeal was decided in favour of the Insurer on 18.2.2008 and the award of the Arbitrator was set aside. Case was remitted to the Arbitrator for deciding the claim afresh granting due opportunity to parties. The court held that acts of embezzlements are to be considered separately and not aggregated for computing the liability of the Insurer. The High Court held that the Policy envisaged deduction from every claim, that is every single amount embezzled – 25% of the embezzled amount of Rs.11500/- which was higher was to be deducted to arrive at the liability. This was challenged by special leave submitting that the High Court ought not to have set aside the well reasoned award of Arbitraor nor remitted the matter for consideration, after nearly a quarter century.

It was the interpretation of Excess clause which was to be considered. In General Assurance Society Ltd. v. Chandumull Jain (AIR 1966 SC 1644) a Constitution Bench had laid down the principle relating to interpretation of Insurance Contracts.

The Court had held that “In interpreting documents relating to a contract of Insurance, the duty of the court is to interpret the words in which the contact is expressed by the parties, because it is not for the court to make a new contract, however reasonable, if the parties have not made it themselves." The Insurance Policy representing a contract between the parties and the terms of the agreement have to be strictly construed to determine the extent of liability of the Insurer.

Excess clauses are commonly used in Insurance contracts and in insurance parlance, the terms refers to "that part of the amount of loss, under each claim, which is not covered by the policy" or the "amount that the policy holder has, by agreement, to bear or contribute to each insurance claim". It is the amount the Insured has agreed to bear either by his volition or by the terms of the Policy.

In a famous English decision (Philadelphia National Bank v. Price reported in (1938) 2 All ER 199) the Policy provided indemnity to bank against loss sustained by reason of making advances against forged or invalid documents subject to an excess of $25,000 "by each and every loss and occurrence". Credit facilities were granted by the Bank to a trader on the security of invoices assigned to the bank. Each day, the trader assigned a bundle of invoices and the Bank advanced a sum corresponding to the total of the invoices. The invoices turned out to be false and the bank was unable to recover advances of over $400,000 in the aggregate, although no single daily loss amounted to more than $25,000. The Court of Appeal held that a separate loss had occurred in respect of each day's advance and the loss cannot be treated as one loss, as each production of documents led to a fresh loss and must be treated as number of losses occasioned by a number of advances. The claim of the Bank was therefore dismissed as loss in each case was below the excess limit of $25000/-.

In another case, the learned Single Judge of Bombay High Court (Central Bank of India Ltd. v. New India Assurance Co.Ltd. (AIR 1981 Bombay 397)) held that the word Excess meant that the Bank is to be considered as co-insurer to the extent of 25% subject to minimum excess stipulated. It was interpreted that the word is of common occurrence in the field of insurance and may mean either the right to make a claim or an assertion of a right. The plain object of the clause, as stated earlier, is to exempt the insurance company from the liability to pay small claims which the Bank has to bear itself. The word, "claim" in this clause means the occurrence of a state of facts which justifies a claim on insurer and does not mean the assertion of a claim on company. In other words, by the judgment, the operation of the Excess Clause is determined by the facts which give rise to the claim and not by the form in which the claim is asserted.

When an employee committing several acts of fraud & defalcation, each such separate act caused loss and gave distint and separate cause of action though all these could be discovered at a later stage together. The discovery at a later date are not to be treated as one composite loss. When treated this way losses below Rs.11500/- would not be payable at all – for losses above Rs.46000/- Insured will have to bear straight 25% of the loss. This way it is necessary to identify each act of embezzlement and not the aggregation of the misdeeds, which the Arbitrator had done.

In the instant case, it was series of embezzlements defrauding the account holders, the Bank had to bear the entire amount when no single act was more than the minimum excess.

The Apex Court held that the award of the arbitrator is liable to be set aside as there is a clear error apparent on the face of the award. Contending that award of the High Court is a speaking award as it extracts the relevant clauses of the insurance policy including the excess clause. It placed on record that if the amount of each and every embezzlement had been separately recorded in the award of the Arbitrator, the court could have calculated the amount that was due, instead of remitting the matter to the Arbitrator for fresh decision.

The Apex Court upheld the decision of the High Court and dismissed the appeal. It concluded that if however the appellant is not interested in proceeding afresh before the arbitrator after all these years, and is willing to accept the sum of Rs.29,000/-, offered by the insurer, it may inform the insurer accordingly in which event, the insurer shall pay the same to the appellant -Bank, if it had not already been paid.

To the Insurers it would sound music as its terms have been very logically atomised in the summit Court of Law. The quantum and merits of the case certainly do not deserve spending 34 years in Courts. Though the policy was a Banker’s Blanket policy, the contingency primarily was Employee dishonesty. Individual Fidelity Guarantee policies or those under Package section, mostly have only the limit of liability set out and does not have any specified excess. Here are the different wordings prevalent :

1) As stated in a FG Policy : No deductible specified, the Policy adds that “ All Loss arising out of the same and all interrelated Wrongful Acts shall be deemed one Loss, and such Loss shall be deemed to have originated in the earliest Policy Period in which a notice is first given to the Company ”

2) Seen in a Banker’s Blanket Policy : Excess. Insured shall bear the first 25% of each loss under items “A” to “E” or 2% of the Basic Sum Insured whichever is higher, but not exceeding Rs.50,000/-. Each loss in respect of each dishonest or criminal act shall be treated as a separate loss. The Excess will however not apply to loss or damage arising out of fire, riot and strike, burglary and house-breaking. In respect of loss under Sections F, G & H the Insured shall bear the first 25% of each loss. { Legend : This being a Package Policy covers various contingencies. They are A) On premises; B) In transit; C) Forgery / Alternation; D) Dishonesty ; E) Hypothecated goods F) Registered Postal sendings ; G) Appraisers ; H) Janata Agents / Pygmie collectors.}

3) A Policy of Foreign Insurer : “ The Underwriters shall be liable only in excess of the deductible of the applicable Insuring Clause stated in Item 7 of the Schedule. In the event that more than one Insuring Clause shall be applicable then the largest deductible relating to the applicable Insuring Clause shall apply. The deductible shall apply to the Ultimate Net Loss sustained by the Assured subsequent to the Retroactive Date.

4) The Policy which was the subject matter of this Judgment : EXCESS - The Insured shall bear the amount of excess stipulated in the Schedule in respect of each and every loss if the loss is under Contingencies 1, 2 or 3 insured by the Policy. In respect of losses under contingencies 4 or 5, the Insured shall bear 25% of the amount of the loss or the amount of excess stipulated in the Schedule whichever is the higher."

Here 1) money / security for which Insured is responsible or custody undertaken 2) money / security in transit 3) forged or raised cheques 4) dishonest or criminal act of offier, clerk or employee & 5) …….. deleted.

As could be seen, the impugned Policy has a slightly different wording for contingencies 1,2,3 as against 4 & 5 – which became the subject matter of litigation all through. There are lessons for every body.

If you liked this article, do provide your feedback

With regards – S Sampathkumar.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Rash and Negligent Driving ~ What ? What is the Penalty ??

You would recall my piece on ‘car flying off unfinished bridge’ - the driver was booked for rash and negligent driving. As we travel along in highways, we often see accidents and the common refrain is ‘rash and negligent driving’ causing the accident. In any petition before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, you can see the victim pleading that the vehicle which caused the accident was driven in a rash and negligent manner, causing harm to public.

Legally, any driving or riding on a public way that endangers or hurts a person is considered rash driving. Bare negligence which endangers a person’s life without actually causing any injury is a criminal offence.

The Indian Penal Code has atleast two sections devoted to this.

Sec 279 Rash driving or riding on a public way. - Whoever drives any vehicle, or rides, on any public way in a manner so rash or negligent as to endanger human life, or to be likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

More serious is Sec 304A - Causing death by negligence..--Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both..

The offence is cognizable and bailable which means the police can arrest and release the accused immediately. There cannot be any damages claimed for negligent or rash driving if no one is hurt.    But negligence and driving at high speed which can risk injury to someone else is punishable criminally even if nobody is hurt.   Under the Motor Vehicles Act, the police can confiscate the driving licence of a person if he/she is caught speeding.

The Authorities are peeved stating that the fine amount is meagre and being bailable, even in a fatal accident, the accused can be released without production before a magistrate. There are cases where famous persons have caused grievous injuries due to their reckless driving but have escaped the arm of law. It is reported that Sec 304 of IPC was first introduced as an offence for causing due to negligence in 1870 when such offences were exceptional due to only few vehicles plying on road. You feel that it needs revision when you see spoilt brats drive at break neck speeds in sophisticated vehicles creating panic and fear in the minds of other road users. Criminal negligence is the gross neglect or failure to exercise precaution to guard against injury caused to others. The precaution should be seen as the failure of the control on the speed of the vehicle.

Vehicles driven at breakneck speeds are not likely stop immediately when breaks are applied. Law enforcement authorities may not be able to ascertain the speed of recklessness merely by observing the scene of the accident after it had taken place. Whilst the perpetrator might go scot free, the victim often are paralysed for the rest of their lives due to the grievous injuries caused by such recklessness.

A few years back, Delhi High Court passed instructions to Police personnel investigating road accident cases to ensure that the accused are properly brought to book. They even suggested recording photos of accident site, mechanical inspection reports of vehicles involved, medical report of the erring driver and prevailing weather conditions. In a case where the trial court had sentenced the driver to 15 months imprisonment for causing death of motorcyclist due to rash and negligent driving, the High Court acquitted holding the view that driving vehicle at a ‘high speed’ did not necessarily mean that the accused had driven the vehicle in a rash and negligent manner to invite sections 279 and 304A of the IPC.

Strange are the ways. After the eerie accident over the (unfinished bridge) here are a couple of photos most probably caused by negligence of the drive. 

accident near Dharmapuri (courtesy Indian Express)

near Thuraipakkam, Chennai (photo : Times of India)
With regards – S Sampathkumar.


Chennai made it to the finals due to the largesse of Deccan. They helped CSK in every possible way to do that.

The shifting of venue and the sky high prices had ensured that there was not much of turn out and though all of us kept criticising IPL, the tourney coming closer to a finish is impacting us.

Dhoni won the toss – had the guts to have a full spin attack – chose to include the young Anirudha Srikkanth in this crucial match. Hayden and Murali Vijay walked in and Hayden was desperate in getting out, it appeared. Not only was the fluency missing but he was barely able to connect. Gilly opened with Symonds and Harris. RP Singh dropped a sitter at cover and next over Bodipati Sumanth showed no reaction at gully. Despite these endowments, Hayden returned back. Murali & Raina also perished and at 4.5, CSK were looking down the barrel at 29-3. Dhoni and Badri scratched around and even at the completion of 15 overs, 100 had not been made. The final flourish with Anirudha hitting two lusty sixers ensured a not so competitive score of 142.

Considering Deccan’s five consecutive wins, this was measly one thought. That was not to be. Boulinger and by now regular opening bowler Ashwin crippled them. The 50 came in 11.3 by far the slowest and at 54 they had lost 5. Gilchrist and Gibbs appeared pale shadow of themselves and though big shots were attempted, they failed to connect even. Suman and Rohit perished exited sooner than they entered and the lack of conviction from the so called champion side was apparent. Symonds made an ungainly swipe only to be caught easily in the deep and that almost sealed Deccan’s fate.

It was a meek surrender getting all out for 104 in 19.4 and allowing a run rate of 7 to climb uphill was certainly not a noteworthy performance.              Streaky Chennai is into finals now.

Regards – Sampathkumar S

Thursday, April 22, 2010


You may not like the ways of IPL – lot of news on tax evasion, too many behind the screen activities, scores of betting and even some grapevine of match fixing. In all the murky scenario, the first Semi finals between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers was a real entertainer.

As usual there was much of pre match hype. Fans of Sachin want him to succeed irrespective of the format, opponent – to them Sachin should score and it did start with Sachin in the short knock of 9 balls executing two delectable boundaries - first trademark leg glance and next in the off. We were getting charged up expecting a great knock as Dale Steyn ran in. The ball was swinging and Kumble had just removed the second slip. The little master played on the up and Ross Taylor at short cover took a good catch. It was not even two overs – Sachin gone and score read at 11-1. disaster followed with some reckless running - Shikar Dhawan played on the leg side, charged for a non existent one, Nayar sent him back, KP messed up, Nayar screamed for over throw – Kohli did some smart work running in and hitting the bowler’s end with a neat throw; 3.4 and 29-2. Nayyar scratched around and in the 9th over got out to Pieterson. Duminy also failed. KP rotating his arms and not being hit was pathetic and he ended up with 1-20 in four. With not much of batting to come, MI were not poised for any high score.

Jumbo Kumble has his share of antics on field, though gentle off the field. He had Ambati Rayudu in the 18th over, score reading 144 in 17.4. Dhoni’s clan Saurabh Tiwary may not please aesthetics but scored plenty of runs in this version and he played a masterly innings scoring 51 of 31 with 4 mighty heaves over the rope and Kieron Pollard finished so nicely with a cameo of 33 in 13 enabling MI reach respectable 184. The shot by Tiwary straight off Kumble displayed brutal power. For the major part, it appeared RC had things in control and it was around 110 – Kallis was torn apart by Tiwary in the 16th for 17. Kumble had a similar fate befalling on him and Kumble was red; falling of Rayudu and advent of Pollard speeded up things with sixes of Vinay and Steyn.

Chasing a big total was never going to be easy and Kallis though successful has slowed down things fell cheaply out to a smart combination of Rayudu – Malinga. The not so regular Ambati Rayudu displayed efficient work behind the stumps with the stumping of KP off Harbhajan standing out. Bhaji bowled round the stumps and seeing KP charging down, pushed one down the leg – a wide very smartly collected and an acrobatic dive ensured kicking off the bails with KP stranded.

Robbie who did some smart glove work and has been in great nick this IPL smashed Bhaji around with two thumping sixers but hit one too early to the throat of Dhawan off Pollard and soon RCB were struck. A smart catch by Duminy on the line showed the exit of Manish Pandey. The star studded RCB folded up at 149 handing a 35 run victory to the consistent MI. the runs made by Ross Taylor in the end were not of much meaning.

The little master has piloted the MI all along – today though he did not contribute much and had to leave the field early trying to take a catch of Dravid – he felt convinced in taking but ended up with bleeding injury requiring some stitches. His team ensured a good overall display and an entry into finals for the first time in IPL for them.

In the extra match, RCB would play the loser of the day for the third position. It was really a good match to watch.

Regards – Sampathkumar.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

பாருக்குள்ளே நல்ல நாடு - நம் பாரத நாடு

The ordinary middle class man is extremely attached to his family. His thinking and all his action is oriented towards the welfare of his family. The parents forego all their wants and do things thinking of the future of their children. They don’t even see it as a sacrifice, for them it is their way of life. Father would travel long, endure all hardship, earn not spend much on himself. Mother leaves all luxuries tries to save as much as possible – keeping the best of things for the child. Whatever the parents had not savoured, the best is kept for the child. Those who struggle to make their ends meet also take great efforts to ensure that their children have much better future. All this with the fond hope that one day, the child would grow, get a good job, earn and take care of the parents when they become old.

Our Bharat is a land of great culture and our ancient civilization reveals the greatness of families. There were many great kingdoms which thrived primarily due to the family loyalty. The greatest of warriors Bhishma lived his life wedded to the cause of Hastinapur. It was his vow to protect Hastinapuram, its rulers and their clan. Indian culture is all about respecting elders, taking their advices and acting accordingly. Lord Rama went to forest without even thinking of anything, just because he was ordained by his father to do so. The battle of Kurukshetra was about conflicting loyalty to two families. The Gaurav clans struck together; family loyalty and duty preceding over what is morally right.

For ages, Bharat had the tradition of joint family system – concept of extended family where parents, their children, children’s spouses, their offspring all lived under one roof. The elder’s word was the rule and accepted without giving it a thought and it benefitted the family. The patriarch took all the decisions and all others abided by it.
In Tamilnadu, tamil literature speaks lot about respect to elders and caring for parents. There is a thirukkural which says

Men will treat their sons as their wealth for it flows to them through those deeds of the sons performing on their behalf.

In such a great country, we hear about abuse against elders and one would tend to disbelieve that it would require an enactment for providing and guaranteeing maintenance and welfare of parents and senior citizens. It is a fact that there is an enactment “The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act 2007”

It makes a very sad reading that this Act was invoked for the first time in Tamilnadu and son was held for neglecting his father at Coimbatore.

In the Namakkal District, Police have arrested M Swaminathan, a powerloom owner for driving out his frail old father from house. He has been booked under Sec 24 of the Act for neglecting and assaulting his 77 year old father. This section envisages a three month imprisonment or Rs 5,000 fine or both on children who fail to provide maintenance to their parents.

It must have been with a very heavy heart a desperate V Manickam Mudaliar presented his poignant tale of neglect and despair to the Namakkal district collector during a weekly grievance meeting. In a grim tale, this thriving powerloom operator in Suriyampalayam hamlet in Tiruchengode taluk, had owned six powerlooms. Advancing age and poor health had forced him to hand over looms to his son and lease out some. It is reported that he was assaulted and rudely thrown to the streets. With no money and no body to take care, despondency drove him to this extreme step.

It does not augur well for the society that there are more Manickams out there and some are already contemplating petitioning. For quite some time it was thought that abandoning aged parents was aping western culture and urban phenomenon. It is shocking that it exists in rural parts as well.

It does not require Act to say that one needs to take care of one’s parents who had missed their present for the future of the children; the Act states ‘Whoever abandons a senior citizen shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or fine which may extend to Rs 5,000 or with both’ The Tribunal may order them to make a monthly allowance which shall be up to Rs.10000/- per month.

It is the mind and state of affairs which requires change – mere legislation cannot bring this about – it can only bring a fear to abide – that is not what is sought after.

Regards - Sampathkumar


In day to day life, there are innumerable transactions which require payment and the commonest way is payment by cheque. Cheque primarily is an order to the bank where one holds an account to make a payment. In some ways, cheques are transferable orders and are negotiable instruments.

A negotiable instrument is a type of contract for the payment of money that is unconditional but is capable of transfer by negotiation. The payment of money is promised and the instrument can be used by the holder in due course as money. These being open ended, the document falling into wrong hand can spell disaster. The bank would readily effect payment to anybody who presents a bearer cheque, provided there are enough funds.

To prevent encashing by parties other than those who are intended to receive, cheques are crossed. This is done by merely putting two parallel transverse lines. The lines are usually drawn on the left-hand top corner of the cheque. But they may be drawn anywhere across the face. Crossing affects the mode of payment of the cheque. The cheque is no more payable to the payee or holder at the counter of the bank. The payment of a crossed cheque can be obtained only through a banker i.e., it is credit to an account only. Still a wrong party could take the payment to their account.

To prevent this there is Restrictive crossing - `A/c Payee only' crossing, which becomes a directive to the paying bank that the proceeds be released for the account of payee only. But, it is the collecting bank which has to ensure that the proceeds are credited to the account of payee only and no other.

Simple and easy to understand. Banks have lakhs of transactions and have very robust systems in place to ensure that this work properly.

Well, that is not the end of the story. Howsoever robust the systems are, it is the handlers that make or mar the system and here is a recent experience.

1) a payment to a service provider (Firm) was approved and Finance prepared cheque favouring the same service provider – ABC
2) the right payment was sent wrongly to another service provider – DEF due to a clerical error
3) Upon receipt of cheque, DEF did not check whether it was theirs and whether drawn in their name
4) the same instrument was tendered to their bankers
5) the bankers of DEF (collecting banker) without basic verification sent it for collection
6) the payee bank approved the same and advised the collecting bank
7) the collecting bank credited the account of DEF even where the cheque was not in their favour and was crossed as “Account payee only”

All these came to light, only when the rightful recipient ABC asked for their payment and upon tracing these facts were unearthed. Being known parties, the simplest solution was to recover the amount from DEF and effect fresh payment to ABC.

However, this story reveals the woeful inadequacies that plague the so called fool proof system. It is men everywhere and to err is human.

Regards – S Sampathkumar.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Have you heard more of MGNRES or IPL ??

If one were to tell what causes sharper pain than poverty, the answer can only be poverty.  (Thirukural : Adhyayam : Nalguravu)

The IPL extravaganza is about to conclude. More than cricket, everything was in thousands of crores. To view some, Kingfisher Airlines signed up as official umpire partner at Rs.106 crore. When the expansion of Teams took place, Kochi franchise was brought at 1530 crores and there was news of a beautician closer to a Minister being gifted stake worth 70 crores. Suddenly the taxmen have woken up and hundreds of crores are doing round. How much would really be realised would perhaps never be known.

Then there is the murky side of betting which according to tax authorities is generating between 25000 to 40000 crores. Virtually betting is on everything - wins, losses, runs per ball, the number of runs scored by a batsman, the number of wickets taken by a bowler, the Man of the Match, third umpire decision etc., The punters place their bets from illegal betting rooms in various cities that feed a master betting room in Dubai. They also use online betting sites such as the UK-based Bet365, Ladbrokes, Victor Chandler and Paddypower as well as the London Stock Exchange-listed William Hill, besides the popular Betfair, BetClick, BlueSquare and others. When the expectations are tight as in the case of CSK game the odds are less and more money is pumped in. Betting sites accept Indian registration and payment to foreign web sites are made through legal money transfers in foreign currency.

Is India land of poor ? It infact is a land of great inequalities. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act aims at enhancing the livehood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Here is a news item that appeared in Times of India but not much in local press and not many would have bothered to read this even, when there are other burning issues !!!

The IPL extravaganza rained money for players, officials, franchisees, administrators, Ground authorities, BCCI, technician, physio, non playing manager, batting coach, keeping coach, bowling coach, media manager, kit assistant, computer analyst and so on…….. the city breds did their part in expending huge amounts by way of tickets which at some places included after match entertainment

As all these continued, the rural India continues its struggle for a simple meal a day (their meal is much much cheaper !)

Way back in 2005 National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was framed to provide for the enhancement of livelihood security of the households in rural areas of the country by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do skilled manual work and others works connected thereto. The objective of the Act is to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.

The Govt. measure is aimed at creating a safety net for the vulnerable groups by providing a fall-back employment source, when other employment alternatives are scarce or inadequate; it is also a growth h engine for sustainable development of an agricultural economy. Effectively implemented, NREGA has the potential to transform the geography of poverty by empowerment of rural poor. NREGA aims at fostering conditions for inclusive growth ranging from basic wage security and recharging rural economy to a transformative empowerment process of democracy.

Under this Govt. administered scheme, adult members of rural household willing to do unskilled manual work can register themselves with Gram Panchayat and will get a Job card with photograph. The workers are to get wages according to the Minimum Wages Act 1948 for agricultural labourers in the State, - which is not less than Rs.60/- per day (@ 100 days it is Rs.6000/-)

With this background, you will be able to appreciate Karupayee better. She was one of the first at Madurai Panchayat Union Office volunteering to work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (MNREGS). Is it a benefit that she and millions of other Indians get from the Govt. programme !!!

Karupayee is officially 101 years young though she claimed to be around 110 and her age calculated by her living son @ 82. This pioneering lady hails from Thanakankulam village in Thiruparankundram panchayat union in Madurai district and is probably the oldest NREGS employee.

Her villagers rightly call her 'suru surupu paati' (brisk granny) as even at a ripe old age she hasn't stopped working. Karupayee has worked for 60 days so far, between April 2009 and March 2010, and says it has helped her live with dignity. "My husband always said we should be independent, and that is what I am doing by earning and cooking my own food," she says. She married Chockanvirumandi, a mill worker, over 80 years ago. He died 50 years ago, after contracting rabies when a street dog bit him. She kept her family afloat by taking up various jobs. Only three of her seven children are alive today, but she has 15 grandchildren and a handful of great-grandchildren. She also avails of the monthly widow pension of Rs 400 given by the state government. She lives in a small portico outside a house.

Her story was represented recently in Times of India. Not many local newspapers could devote space for her. It is reported somewhere that this self-reliant elderly lady claims that she has never visited a doctor for minor illness and uses home remedies but was surgically operated for cataract. Apart from this Govt work, she earns briskly selling vegetable / fish. Karupayee is already 101 (officially) and perhaps continue with the same vigour till her last without depending on others.

She deserves special appreciation on all possible ways for her indomitable spirit and positive attitude.

BUT whether mere appreciations are going to help thousands of Karupayees or whether anything individually or collectively could be done to stop Karupayees having to work at their ripe age is the question every right minded citizen need to ask themselves. Spare a thought. Life is not all about money making and cheap entertainments – there are very many meaningful ways in bringing a change in the way people live even if in a smaller way.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

Monday, April 19, 2010


This lady was in the news recently having won a prestigious award. Can you identify her.


It is Mary Chind, photographer of Des Moines Register who won the Pulitzer Prize today for her dramatic photo of a construction worker rescuing a woman from the Des Moines River.

Pulitzer award perhaps is very well known across the globe as a recognition for great photographs. Instituted by Joseph Pulitzer, who in the latter years of 19th century, stood out as the very embodiment of American journalism. Hungarian-born, an intense indomitable figure, Pulitzer was the most skillful of newspaper publishers, a passionate crusader against dishonest government, a fierce, hawk-like competitor who did not shrink from sensationalism in circulation struggles, and a visionary who richly endowed his profession. His innovative New York World and St. Louis Post-Dispatch reshaped newspaper journalism. He made a flexible will in 1904 which provided for the establishment of the Pulitzer Prizes as an incentive to excellence. The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded June 4, 1917; they are now announced each April. Recipients are chosen by an independent board.

Here is the photo which won international acclaim and the Pulitzer prize.

Chind’s winning photo showed construction worker Jason Oglesbee dangling from a crane, reaching down to grab Patricia Ralph-Neely from the roiling water. Ralph-Neely and her husband, Alan Neely, had fallen into the water after their disabled boat went over the Center Street dam in downtown Des Moines June 30. Alan Neely drowned, and rescue workers were unable to reach his wife in the swirling current under the dam. The rolling water repeatedly sucked Ralph-Neely under, then pushed her back to the surface.

Oglesbee, who’d been working on a pedestrian bridge over the dam, chained himself to the end of a crane. The crane operator lowered him to the water, where he managed to pluck Ralph-Neely from the water. Chind, standing on the opposite riverbank, captured the scene. The photo won the Pulitzer for breaking news photography. The subjects of the photo including the hero Oglesbee had avoided publicity. Though the woman could be saved, the husband could not be. The boat that carried the couple was later pulled out of Des Moines River after it remained lodged under the dam for two days.

But Pulitzer is not all about photography alone. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. In twenty of these, each winner receives a certificate and a US$10,000 cash award. The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal, which always goes to a newspaper, although an individual may be named in the citation.
The Pulitzer Prize does not automatically evaluate all applicable works in the media, but only those that have been entered with a $50 entry fee. Entries must also fit in at least one of the specific prize categories, and cannot simply gain entrance on the grounds of having general literary or compositional properties. Works can also only be entered into a maximum of two prize categories, regardless of their properties.

One displaying the greatness of Pulitzer is the award for Public service recognising distinguished meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site through the use of its journalistic resources which, as well as reporting, may include editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, video and other online material, presented in print or online or both, a gold medal.

This year Prize under this category was awarded to the Bristol (VA) Herald Courier for the work of Daniel Gilbert in illuminating the murky mismanagement of natural-gas royalties owed to thousands of land owners in southwest Virginia, spurring remedial action by state lawmakers. The Bristol Herald Courier is a 39,000 circulation daily newspaper owned by Richmond, Virginia-based Media General, Inc. The newspaper is located in Bristol, Virginia, a small city located in Southwest Virginia on the Tennessee border.

With regards – S Sampathkumar.


Dear (s) 

Presenting our April 2010 issue of BLISS, the newsletter of SYMA BLISS 042010

Our Annual General Body is slated on 25th April 2010 when a new set of Office bearers would be elected. Notice for conduct of AGM has already been sent to all our members independently. All are requested to attend, partake in the discussions and guide SYMA in continuing service to society.
This issue contains :
• Our concern for the CRPF killed at Dantewada district of Chattisgarh
• Our appreciation for the great service rendered by Kanchi Kamakoti Sankara Medical Trust
• Many of us are under the impression that Pulitzer awards are given for the best photography. Actually, these prizes are awarded in 21 categories of which Public service is of great importance. Something on this year winner of Pulitzer award for Public Service category
• Something on our medical centre activities
• A different perspective of IPL and the way it affects Chennai & power parched State
• This month’s Q is on U44 a ship launched in Aug 1939
All these more inside our April issue. Please read and send your feedback. We look forward to your continued support and patronage

S Sampathkumar
PS : Srinivas Youngmens Association is a social service organisation functioning from Triplicane for more than 3 decades and Bliss is the voice of SYMA.  I have been the editor of more than 6 years of this now.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Animals (Tomistoma schlegelii) in transit - would you cover the same ???

Movement of people or goods from one location to another is transportation and coverage during this period is Marine Insurance. Many a times, frustrated and exhausted travellers complain of being treated like animals. Today there was an interesting article on a crocodile making a luxury trip from Ahmedabad to Chennai. Exchange of animals between zoos are not uncommon. This time it is a female crocodile - Tomistoma schlegelii (or false gharial), which is threatened with extinction. She is being flown in the cargo hold of a passenger flight for pairing with male at Madras Crocodile bank. Tomistoma schlegelii, a freshwater reptile native to Malaysia and Sumatra resembles a crocodile with a very thin and elongated snout, which is thicker than gharial.

The transportation is to take place in a temperature regulated container and obviously this will be kept segregated from the rest of the cargo by a wire mesh. What is of interest to us is not the ‘breeding loan’ arrangement or its matchmaking but the potential insurance coverage of such transits.

In Kerala, quite frequently one could see elephants astride trucks. Movement of cattle – buffalo, sheep etc., by truck are also common. Livestock would be of high value and would be transported carefully. These being transits of shorter duration, perhaps no special skill is required in drafting a policy covering these. At the outset, everything would seem simple – whether the voyage policy should offer coverage for accidental death or injuries arising out of fire, accidents to carrying vehicle (very basic cover) or an increased coverage is sought would be the Q. Theft or non delivery could also be perils. Cattle, bloodstock, livestock, sheep, goats, poultry, zoo animal, deer, elephant, game birds, dogs, cats and pet animals, exotics and marine animals all could be the subject matter of insurance.

When it comes to rating, there could be no actuarial tables and perhaps would be fixed arbitrarily – raised or lowered by the experience or more by the perception of the risk. Many years ago, I came across a proposal when an Amusement park imported couple of exotic sea lions and dolphins for game show in India and that was fraught with dangers as there could be issues of behaviour of the animal, acclimatisation, stress, adapatability, medical care available, climatic change, temperature maintenance, handling and more. The duration required to be covered could be : quarantine prior to departure, transit and period after arrival before delivery at destination and the perils could be accident, sickness, disease, Govt. denying entry, & more.............

Though there are specialised non institute clauses for providing coverage to livestock, no standard form is available for animals in transit and coverage thoughtlessly on Institute cargo clauses (All risks) could be an invite to disaster. The Insurer need to analyse the proposal and understand the various requirements including feed and watering as also accompaniment of veterinarian during the transit (if required).

Mere certification of good health from any Health authority may not be of great help as the physical conditions surrounding a given risk at its natural habitat would be entirely different when the same is to be shifted to another region, with different climatic and feed conditions. Each risk presents a separate and distinct problem, and must be considered on its own merits, taking into consideration the physical hazards, peculiar to the particular risks, the moral hazard, insurable value, etc.

Some basic precautionary study in the details of serological tests, vaccination, quarantine, customs etc., preliminary to the transport and selection of animal could be of relevance and help. The animal needs to be treated / immunised for parasites and against respiratory diseases. Besides climate adjustment, another important aspect is to ensure that the animal is not wary and frightened as they would be difficult to handle and hence they need acclimatisation to the type and size of pen, crate or box or container in which they are to be transported. Whether they are moved singly or in groups also needs to be ascertained. Suitable feeding and watering and ensuring that these are available and presented throughout the entire journey is to be guaranteed. Depending on the region where transportation is to occur, clothing, hoods, blankets, blinkers, sheets, knee caps and bandages are to be determined. Animals are to be given adequate rest before loading and tranquilisers should not be used until sedation is compulsorily required.

The transporting wagon, vehicle, container needs to be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected. The planning of journey with consideration for the route, time, distances, stages and stopping places are to be well drawn. Animals which are likely to give birth during transport shall not be considered for transportation and coverage.

The loading, supervising, handling, unloading and delivery are to be properly planned and if required to be documented properly. Lighting also needs to be appropriate depending upon the subject matter of transport and insurance. Animals other than aquatic animals should have sufficient room to stand in its natural position having clear head room for air circulation and well ventilated.

The valuation of the animal is also fraught with innate difficulties. Policy coverage could be limited covering the risks of death / mortality from specified causes including breakdown of refrigeration mechanism or on wider cover including the risks of theft and non delivery.

Well, if you come across such a proposal, would you be inclined to offer any coverage ?? Marine insurance is always interesting !

With regards – S Sampathkumar.

PS : Just in case you were worried about the safety of the transit - either wearing the hat of an Insurer or as an animal lover - the giant croc reached Chennai safely and here is a photo (courtesy : Times of India) showing the way it was transported.