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Thursday, September 30, 2010

National Awards - the measure of popularity in India - என் இனிய பாரத தேசமே ! உனது மதிப்பீடு அளவு கோல் தான் என்ன ?

A Nation’s destiny is determined by the path of its people and the direction of its Leaders.

Have you heard of Sandeep Verma, Sanjeev Galande, Shubua Tole, Swapan K Patil, GK Ananthasuresh or atleast of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar ??

Recently, National Film awards were announced which were very widely reported in all media. President Pratibha Patil will present the 57th National film awards as also the Dadasaheb Phalke Award to D Rama Naidu. The annual award given by the Indian Government for lifetime contribution to cinema carries a cash prize of 1 million along with a swarna kamal medallion and a shawl. Why should a Govt. institute an award and donate so much of money for an activity which is no contributes to Nation building or in any instrumental for the betterment of the Nation.

Cinema at best is entertainment and those involved in creation of a movie are doing so for their own benefits – definitely not curative of the society, it can neither be considered an industry whose product is going to the improve the lot of the society. By now – Raju Hirani, Ananya Chatterjee, Vidhuvinod Chopra, Jiva, Anbukkarasu, Rasul Pookkutty – are all household names. Show their photos, anyone can identify and all local magazines would post their photos, their interviews, their life story and do roaring business by having them on their cover……

The regular programmes in local television channels wherein participants answer questions would not field a question on Sanjeev Galande or identifying the picture of SS Bhatnagar but Shankar would articulate on their efforts in filming a song sequence in the land of Incas, whilst Vairamuthu would speak of his genius in finding words for song of the robot – a Nation would watch with bated breathe.

Nine Scientists were on Sunday (26th Sept 2010) chosen for the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2010. This award is for their achievement in the field of Science & Technology. The news release also stated that three of awardees being women for the first time. The announcement were made by the CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) Director General Samir Brahmachari at a function held to mark the foundation day of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. The CSIR said its award for S&T Innovations for Rural Development 2009 will go to Indian Oil Corporation Ltd's Research and Development Centre in Faridabad. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh, a citation and a plaque and will be given by the Prime Minister later this year.

Sandeep Verma, Prof of IIT Kanpur has been named this year’s recipient for his outstanding contribution in the field of drug design. Professor Sandeep Verma of the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur.
His major achievements include the development of artificial chemicals to model biological proteins. The artificial chemicals help in identifying the root cause of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. He said to Indian Express “The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award is a major achievement in my life and will vastly boost my efforts,”

The awardees are :
Biological Science : Sanjeev Galande of National Centre for Cell Science, Pune and Shubha Tole of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.

The other recipients are Swapan K Pati, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, Sandeep Verma, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (Chemical Sciences), G K Ananthasuresh, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata (Engineering Sciences). Mitali Mukerji, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi (Medical Sciences), Umesh Vasudeo Waghmare, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore and Kalobaran Maiti, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (Physical Sciences) will also get the honour.

No award is being given in the area of Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences and Mathematical Sciences this year. In his address, Minister for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan noted that India's research funding is almost one per cent of GDP and is poised to go up.

The Minister emphasized that there should be more engineering research and said he looked forward to the day when CSIR would launch its own commercial entities based on the laboratory generated know-hows." Department of Science & Technology (DST) was established in May 1971, with the objective of promoting new areas of Science & Technology and to play the role of a nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting S&T activities in the country.

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards are announced everyyear and last year eleven scientists had the honour. The awards are given to scientists below 45 years of age for their outstanding scientific contributions made primarily in India during the last 5 years preceding the year of the Prize.

Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (February 21, 1894 – January 1, 1955) was a wellknown Indian scientist. He was born in Shahpur (now in Pakistan); his father died when he was 8 months old. One of the good moves of PM Nehru was setting up of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) under the chairmanship of Dr. Bhatnagar. He became the first director-general of the CSIR. He became known as "The Father of Research Laboratories" and is largely remembered for having established various chemical laboratories in India. He established a total twelve
national laboratories such as Central Food Processing Technological Institute, Mysore, National Chemical
Laboratory, Pune, the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, the National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur, the Central Fuel Institute, Dhanbad, just to name a few.

Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar played a significant part along with Homi Jehangir Bhabha, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai and others in building of post-independent S&T infrastructure and in the formulation of India’s science and technology policies. He was the first Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC). He was Secretary, Ministry of Education and Educational Adviser to Government. Bhatnagar played an important role both in the constitution and deliberations of the Scientific Manpower Committee Report of 1948. Bhatnagar was a University Professor for 19 years (1921-40) first at the Banaras Hindu University and then at the Punjab University.

Strange are the ways of the Nation. A google search for Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2010 yielded 62,000 results; whilst Film fare awards revealed 254,000 and National Film Awards showed 9,490,000 results.

Good things are not popular and all that is popular need not be good always

Regards – Sampathkumar S

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sweet Chocolate - sailing in France - yes Chocolate Boat at Concarneau

For those of us born or brought up on the coasts of Marina – there are many pastimes. Most of the time was spent near the sands of Bay of Bengal, playing cricket on the inner roads. When we were adults the sea shore attracted – sitting in a group in evenings and early nights, talking of many things under the moon bonded many relations. The tranquility of the sky, pleasantness of the moon and stars and the voices of ocean was a unique combination which cast spells on minds.

The sky would be roaring with waves jumping settling white foam on the sands – new comers to be beach would go near the sea, back out when wave would rise and rush towards the shore. In between for a community it was life at sea – unmindful of the little distraction, the men folk would venture into the sea, and return with catches for their livelihood.

There would lie reclined some pieces of logs muddled together - a contraption called kattumaram – the tamil word has entered English dictionaries as ‘catamaran’ – a primitive type of boat if it could be called so – basically three or four wooden logs strung together. Though an outboard Yamaha motor could be attached to this, mostly these would be moved by oars – human power. Obviously they would not venture too long in to the sea and would return in a few hours where as trawlers would go on fishing for days together. Another one that captured our imagination and minds were sail ships – large boats driven by wind power which had masts and sails. Our images of ships were formed much later.
                                                     a wooden boat being constructed

Boats are watercrafts designed to float in water. Scientifically, an object would float when its average density is light compared to water’s average density. In a water pool, one would get drowned if he wraps his arms around legs and curl like a ball, whereas when one stretches body flat, one tends to float. Though the weight would not change, the area spread changes…. Even in school days, the scientific principle of buoyancy was not all that easily understood (for that matter subject of Science & you could add Maths, History, Geography as well !)
                                                                     speed  boat
                                                                      sail   boat

There are many types of boats such as Banana boat, Barges, Tugs, Canoe, catamaran, Coracle, Dhow, Dinghy, Ferry, Gondola, Jetboat, Kayak, Lifeboat, Motor boat, U boat, Raft, Lighter, Vallam, Schooner, Submarine, Whale boat to cite a few…….. some would be the names of boats in local parlance but to literally translate them would be dangerous for a Banana boat has nothing to do with fruit banana but is an unpowered recreational boat designed to be pulled by a large boat. But any amount of google search or asking those mariners would you get something called ‘chocolate boat’, which in fact is a reality.
                                                                     the cocoa bean

The word chocholate which enamours children and elders is of Spanish origin. Chocolate comprises a number of raw and processed foods produced from the seed of tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Its beans after fermentation are dried, cleaned, roasted, shell removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then groun to cocoa mass – pure chocolate in rough form.

French chocolatier launched a 3.5m chocolate and sugar boat in front of a crowd of hundreds of onlookers in the port of Concarneau. It is reported that Georges Larnicol who owns a dozen shops across Western France, won a bet by successfully building a seaworthy boat entirely made up of chocolate. A very sweet sporting moment. It was a 3.5 meter vessel which successfully took to the water. It is also reported that there was a traditional ceremony of breaking champagne bottle of the bow at the time of launch. The boat seats two passengers and is both sail and motor driven. The boat weighing 1.2 tonnes was made in Lamicol’s workshop and ismade up of entirely chocolate except for the frame which is made of sugar. Whether one would like to sail or eat would be the question ?

Concarneau is a town in France, known for ship building and tourism. There is also a Chocolate river – the Petitcodiac river in Canada in south eastern New Brunswick is known so. The sedimentation in the 80 mile long river has prompted the residents to call it the ‘chocolate river’ due to the resultant brown tint.

Regards – Sampathkumar S

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Chennai landmark is closing down - the TVS petrol bunk

Dear (s)         

Do you remember  No. 7 Whites Road , Chennai 600 014 ? unlikely though, you would have utilized this service many a times.    A few years connoisseurs of food lamented upon closure of a famous landmark – ‘the woodlands drive-in restaurant’. Now another landmark is about to close when one short of Fifty.

                                                         a view of  of Express Avenue mall


Whites Road in Royapettah with postal index code of 600 014 branches off from the arterial Mount Road after Thousand lights mosque and runs up to Royapettah Clock tower. At one end it has the HO of United India Insurance and the clock tower on the other. A sprawling 23 acre area once known as Express Estates from where Indian Express / Dinamani / dinamani kathir / Cinema Express used to be published has given way to a new mall known as  'Express Avenue'

This road is also famous for automobile tyre trade. TV Sundaram Iyengar & Sons has its presence in what was once known as ‘Gopal Bagh’

                                                   the new looking clock tower of Royapettah

With famous places such as United India, Cognizant, Hobart School, Royal Sundaram, Express mall – this ……… place was the landmark and a place frequented by many. United India was incorporated on 18th Feb 1938 and upon nationalization in 1972 – 12 Indian companies including the TVS run ‘Madras Motor General Insurance’ and few other foreign insurers & coop insurance societies were merged. Until a few years back, this road was less frequented and there was not much of motor traffic – but few motorists ventured specifically with single minded objective. If your curiosity of this place is rising, here is something more.

Chennai with its dravidan background still has many streets with British names. Quite a few years back –: 

Pycrofts Road became Bharathiyar Salai,

Beach Road was named Kamarajar Salai,
Mount Road became – Anna Salai,
Walltax Road became VOC Salai. 

Still there are hundreds of Blackers, Wallers, Ormes, Barnaby, Baker, Adam, Coat, Greames, Strahans, Sterling, Taylor, Wheetcraft, Waller and many other roads – many people living in these streets also may not know why these roads were so named. Recently Chennai Corporation took a decision to rename these roads after tamil scholars. Some renaming has also been done. The Whites road (subject matter of our story) is named after J.D. White who in 1809 built a house which formed the nucleus of the original Madras Club’s home. Express Estate was once the home of Madras Club founded in 1832. JD White had been granted ground by the Govt. here. This road is still called Whites road, though the history is most likely to be unknown.

Most of us use vehicles which run on petrol. Petrol also called gasoline is a petroleum-derived liquid mixture primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. Most Commonwealth countries call this fuel, petrol, whilst it is gas in US. Petrol is the fuel in all two wheelers and most of the cars. The service utility distributing this fuel is known as Petrol bunks in India. Petrol bunks commonly distribute oil in retail to individual customers,  obtained from companies like IOC, BPCL etc.,    After industrial renaissance, lot of petroleum refineries came up. An important player in South Asian market was the Burmah Oil company. In late 1800s crude oil was produced from primitive hand dug wells in Burma and Burmah Oil grew out of Rangoon Oil Company. Oil wells were drilled in Assam also. In 1928 Asiatic Petroleum (India) joined with Burmah Oil leading to the fomation of Burmah Shell oil storage and distributing company. In 1976 Burmah Shell was taken over by the Govt and was renamed Bharat Petroleum Corporation. 

Today the price of ordinary petrol is Rs.56.33 per litre. There are hundreds of petrol bunks in the City catering to the ever increasing needs of two wheelers, auto-rickshaws, cars, SUVs and other commercial vehicles. With so many petrol bunks to choose from, one has a bunk almost at every half a kilo metre and need not store much in one’s tank. The proliferation of so many petrol stations also has ensured that there is generally no rush and not much of waiting time in station for filling up.   Chennai has lot of middle class people. Till a few years back, a day before the budget, there used to be serpentine queues in petrol stations as people would fill up their vehicles tank full to ward off the hike in petrol price. I have often wondered whether there was any real saving with tank capacities of less than 10 litres. Now a days, petrol hikes are not with the budget and are announced more frequently. The contraption which runs more in chennai, the auto rickshaws haggle the rates for every small distance and are highly price wary. 

Thus it would defy all logic to know that customers throng in huge numbers and stand in queues for filling up petrol from a particular bunk. Is it the brand loyalty ? Whilst in many petrol bunks, you will be serviced at any time during day and night, this one runs almost like an office – works from 0730 am to 0730pm on days excluding with tea-break and lunch break gaps.

This is the petrol station fondly known as ‘TVS PETROL PUMP’ – a landmark in Whites Road...  . Any point of time, even during lean hours, people stand in queues for filling up their vehicle from this utility. They serve only petrol – only the ordinary variety – no diesel even. One needs to stand in the queue, pay the amount, get the receipt and only then would petrol be distributed.
                                            haphazhardly parked two wheelers and their owners
                                            standing in the Q (a lean time !! - 12 40 noon)
A small impediment would turn away your customer; if you are offering something less than what your competitors offer; customers would go away. In this competitive world it is tough to retain a customer – any Management Guru would say. A board kept here states that ‘only cash – as credit card machine is not functioning’. Not sure whether it is a malfunction or a decision not to accept credit cards. Whilst all modern bunks accept credit cards / petro cards and even have place for ATMs – here is one which denies such facility, but that has not dispelled their loyal customers

                                                               autos wait for their turn 

There are 100s of car owners who drive a few kilo meters extra to have their vehicle filled up only here. Auto drivers who fight and bargain for every rupee and seldom give back any change, drive extra mile to come to this station. What is the driving force that make people come here on their own volition braving the scorching Sun to stand in the queue that extra minutes, when they can have it elsewhere without this trouble.

That is the TRUST that TVS has earned over years. The trust of quality fuel being served here. There are many who readily would vouch on the quality and say that their vehicles go extra distance when they put fuel from here. Some say that filling up petrol here never spoils their vehicle as they are assured of the quality. It is also a quality statement that the quantity would not be compromised when you are serviced here. There is a lurking fear when you go to many petrol bunks  that though you are billed for x quantity, you get much less,  as the servicing individual will manipulate the lever and deliver something less. Certainly nothing of that sort in a TVS bunk. Such has been the NAME AND FAME OF THE PETROL BUNK.

This bunk has been functioning at No. 7 Whites Road , Chennai 600 014 from 1961 [recall the first line of this Post] – first when they entered into agreement with Burmah Shell – Bharat Petroleum now. Only petrol – no premium brand here. The station does not function on Sundays and on National holidays. This TVS bunk is run by Sundaram Motors. T V Sundram Iyengar & Sons Ltd., established a Vehicle Dealership in Chennai for handling Cars and Commercial Vehicles and Sundaram Motors was born on August 13, 1945. In 1946, the Company acquired the present premises and their Workshop was built in 1947 to provide for rapid expansion in the business activities.  Over the years, Sundaram Motors has added dealerships for distribution and service of vehicles and ventured into distribution of petrol also.


All this is becoming a thing of the past ; sadly this utility serving petrol satiating the needs of its trusted customer has chosen to close down. By 30th Sept. 2010, it will be closing down permanently and will not function from this place. Sources state that there will be a petrol bunk of Sundaram Motors at Poonamallee – having seen the crowds and the attitude of people, I will not be surprised if somebody makes it a point to travel the 20 odd kilo meters to be serviced by TVS. 

With regards – S Sampathkumar


Monday, September 27, 2010

Recall of some Bentley cars - the safety reason !!

Cars catch the attraction so easily – there are cars and there are luxury ones – at the most one can only dream of. In the film ‘Ninaithaale Inikkum’ – Rajni would risk his finger for a bet on a Toyota car. Those days, the word ‘toyota car’ rhymed with those ultimate mean dreams of ambitious people. Not any longer !!

Of the short list of the cosy ones, Bentley would be amongst the top ones. Quite often Aston Martin 77 is reported to be the costliest one – only 77 pieces ! all sold out at a premium priced at US $ 1.5 M (more than 6 crores !!) The ultra luxury automakers that have the potential for getting included in to the list would be Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini, Leblanc, Maserati, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Pagani, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Saleen, Shelby SuperCars and Spyker.

Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of automobiles, founded in 1919 by Wlaer Owen Bentley. This company was known for the rotary aero engines in WW 1. Since 1998, the company has been owned by the Volkswagen group of Germany. We have not heard much of Cheshire as much as we have heard of Somerset, Yorkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Gloucestershire et al. Well, the list other than Cheshire is some of the County clubs that play cricket. Crewe is a railway town in Cheshire known for Crewe Railway works, an engineering facility of 1840s and also housed Rolls Royce production; now Pyms Lane factory produces Bentley cars exclusively. Bentley cars are hand-crafted and a favourite of rich and famous.

The luxury car maker Bentley is in news because of its recall of some models over concerns of its distinctive ‘flying B’ hood ornament that they could hurt pedestrians in a collision. The flying B is a winged statue that is designed to retract if the car crashes. Luxury carmaker Bentley is recalling some models over concerns its distinctive "Flying B" hood ornament could hurt pedestrians in a collision.

The fact of life that most metals corrode. Rusting is the common term for corrosion of iron and its alloys, many other metals also undergo corrosion. Rusting is red oxides, formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or air moisture. The priciest of metals is also susceptible as Bentley has found them to be – the safety administration has issued a recall of some of its models manufactured between 2007 – 2009 due to the perceived problem of retractable ‘flying B’ on the hood corroding and not retracting in the event of a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is an agency of US Govt whose mission is ‘save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes’.

The regulators state that the ornament could increase the risk of additional injury if Bentley struck a pedestrian. The car company however stated that they were unaware of any accident or injury related to the same. However, close to 600 units are to be recalled – reports say that the retractable flying B is an optional accessory and Bentley will replace the faulty mechanism free of charge. The recall for this reason, is highly unusual and the company has decided to recall the cars after a dealer spotted the problem in Britain. The total across the globe of this fault could be close to 1400 with 300 in Britain.

The Flying B badge at the centre of the recall dates back to the late 1920s, when W O Bentley was operating out of Cricklewood in north London. It survived until the 1970s, when it was withdrawn for safety reasons, only to return in 2006, with the development of the retractable mechanism. Now the safety mechanism finds itself in news due to water seepage on the system, resulting in rust and corrosion. Some of the famous owners in England include the football captain Rio Ferdinand and hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg.

The Company claims that the repair could be carried out within an hour. Recalls are not rare and Bentley has also has its track record of recalls arising out of problems with filters, retaining blots etc.,

The common Indian need not feel affected as the Bentley Arnage would cost around 2.25 crores, Azure close to 4 crores; a cheaper variety of Bentley continental flying spur would cost around 1.70 crores.

Have you ever seen a Bentley on Indian road – perhaps none at Chennai, though have seen a couple of Lamborghinis which are costlier.

Regards – S Sampathkumar.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Champions League T20 Finals - CSK set an easy target

After the first half with CSK needing only 128 for a win, things are looking very bright for CSK Dhoni and his men.  It is 15 minutes to 11 pm at Chennai.  Many Chennaites would be awake - happy with the progress so far, expecting an easy win for CSK.

The Organisers could not have expected a better podium fight as CSK with a huge Indian fans turnout playing a local team.  A good finals is on the cards.  Johannesburg has been a happy hunting ground for Dhoni. He lost the toss and DA Jacobs had no hesitation in choosing to bat first and set a formidable target.  In walked Aleem Dhar and RE Koertzen and Bollinger started running in.

Well the first ball was not delivered as there was a hold up. It took some irritating minutes before it was sorted with Bollinger and Ashwin speaking to the ground staff and the reserve umpire Asad Rauf climbing over the advt. hoardings. A good finals on the cards. Jacobs has so far been the highest scorer in the tournament. Teams are unchanged and Jacobs opened with Ashwell Prince. For CSK, Ashwin, Murali, Bollinger all have been amongst wickets with Ravichandran Ashwin leading the highest wicket takers.
When it happened, it was a clinical performance by CSK. After the beauty of a delivery, Davies struck in – the next two were fours. He was chancing and hitting at will - after 4 overs, Warriors were 39 and a big score was in the offing.

Ashwell Prince was not hitting the sweet spot and was first to go - out to a full from Bollinger. Davie Jacobs ungainly reverse sweep off the first ball he faced from Ashwin saw Rudi Koertzen raising his finger after some thought. The turning point perhaps. Murali showed his class, foxing Boucher and taking another wicket. Wickets fell at regular intervels. Raina was a live wire, was everywhere took a well judged catch yelling Murali Vijay to stay away. Anirudha was also good on the field. Balaji bowled a steady line save his final over when he was hit for 18. Murali the 800man bowled the final first two dot balls. Thyssen presented a simple catch to Anirudha at covers off the fourth. Just four in the final over. 4-0-16-3 reads his figure ; Ashwin finished with 2/16 off 4. A target of 129 seems eminently gettable with the much famed batting line up of CSK.

It was a methodical and clinical win in the end. CSK had really performed as a team with many contributing. Just a solitary loss that too in the super over. The youth brigade and wily seniors had all plotted it. The new stars are Murali Vijay, Ashwin and Anirudha Srikanth which will do Indian and State cricket lot good.
Chasing a modest total and getting along, Murali Vijay was distinctly lucky in the fifth over when he edged one; Boucher showing signs of old age did not go for the catch at all. The chance went abegging & Murali collected four runs also for that.

Just the type of people needed for chasing this s score - the experienced Mike Hussey partnering the prolific Murali Vijay. The only threat appears to be the mindset of playong to the target rather than the usual game.

Even when the match is on, one of the players is on mike and then Rudi was on for a lengthy time. Will it not be a diversion and impact the match is a valid Q - but would remain unanswered in present scenario where onfield happenings get directed elsewhere.

After 8 Boje came on, Vijay danced down with elan and played him over extra cover - one bounce - a statement of authority as to which team was dictating. Immediately another stumping chance went begging. That time he was 16 less than the aggregate of 286 in the tournament by Jacobs.

After ten - CSK were 65 without loss. Murali Vijay gets the golden bat and Ashwin, the ball - two to Chennai besides the cup. 100 came up with a straight six hit by Vijay. He left at 103 with little to be achieved by his teammates. His 58 came off 53 balls laced with 6 fours and two sixers. The winning runs came from Dhoni’s bat and Hussey also completed his fifty.

(the second part was posted subsequently)

Regards – Sampathkumar. S
PS: In TOI (Chennai Edition) today in the first page - photo caption reads 'Ingram out to Muralidharan ; actually it is that of D Jacobs getting out to Ashwin'.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Christophe Colomb at Khorfakkan - Employment of 10 cranes

I had earlier posted an article on the giant Christophe Colomb, a big container vessel with capacity of 13344 TEU of which 800 are reefers. The vehicle fitted with modern Pre-swirl stator for increased propulsion efficiency is said to be a strategic asset to CMA CGM and is capable of operation at super eco speed closer to 15 knots. The vessel is the first of the series of 3 which are named after great explorers. Christophe Colomb is the largest container ship ever to sail under French flag. It has 365 M length and 52m breadth with DWT of 157092 & GT 153022.

As you would know, container vessels are cargo ships that carry all of their load in intermodal containers mostly standardized TEU of forty footers. By construction, above a certain size the container ships do not have their own landing gear. So loading and unloading from the vessel can only be done at the Port with the necessary cranes.

Container cranes stationed in Ports have a supporting framework that can traverse the length of a quay and moving platform known as spreader. The spreader can be lowered down on top of a container and locks on to the box at the four locking points known as corner castings using a twistlock mechanism. Typically cranes handle one container at a time, though there are some which have the capability of picking up more. The first use reportedly was at a terminal in Alameda, CA by Matson and was called a portainer.
There are gantry cranes which are overhead structures with hoisting machines mounted on frame or structure. Gantry cranes are for any type of cargo such as timber, paper rolls, containers and any kind of bulk material.
The marvel of vessel’s maiden call at Khorfakkan container terminal during Aug 10 was a record of sorts as 10 cranes were used at a time for unloading containers from the vessel. Gulftainer reports that it worked with a maximum of 10 cranes and a picture has also been released with cranes all over the ship. It is stated that technically it is feasible to fit 12 cranes within the lengthwise stack profile of 365 m LOA ship.

According to reliable reports, CMA CGM Christophe Colomb is the largest vessel ever to enter the recently expanded terminal at Khorfakkan. When the vessel made its maiden foray into the terminal, the operations commenced with 10 cranes lined up and with around 7000 moves a record breaking performance in offloading had been achieved.

Khorfakkan is a town located along the Gulf of Oman on the east coast of United Arab Emirates. It is scenically beautiful part and means creek of two jaws. It belongs to the Emirates of Sharjah but is geographically surrounded by the emirate of Fujairah. It has a natural deep water port and is a major container terminal. KCT is managed by international port management company Gulftainer on behalf of the Sharjah Ports Authority, and is widely considered to be amongst the most efficient terminals in the world, a crucial factor for companies operating large vessels between Asia and Europe. KCT has 1900 meters of quay, 20 world class gantry cranes and water depths allowing entry of largest vessels. It is a major transhipment port with numerous feeder connection to gulf ports of hinterland, Iran, East Africa. Gulftainer Co was established in 1976 and primarily manages and operates container terminals in Port Khalid and Khorfakkan.

It is claimed that the efficient operations ensured the leaving of the terminal by Christophe Colombo in 24 hours which then proceeded her eastward voyage to Asia.

Regards - Sampathkumar S

Presenting our Sept. 2010 issue of BLISS - voice of SYMA

Dear (s)

Here is our monthly issue of BLISS - Sept 2010 issue:    Sept 2010 issue of BLISS

There are grave concerns at the National level – the continued unrest at Kashmir, occurrences overshadowing the conduct of Commonwealth Games etc., There is need for stopping the bloodshed and progress as a strong Nation.

At SYMA, we have been very active in the past months with the conduct of Asthma detection camp, Blood donation camp, Education aid distribution programme and conduct of Eye camp. Our regular activities of tuition centre and medical centre are running well.

This issue contains something on :
• The Eye Camp for detection of cataract held on Independence day and subsequent free surgery conducted at Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal
• Thanking the NKT authorities for providing infrastructure for SYMA Growth
• Q on the famous speech ‘tryst with destiny’ speech of JN Nehru – when and what time was it made and who sung the invocation song in that meeting ?
• Something on Swine flu – requesting not to spread rumours and to have vaccine
• About the flag hoisting and Independence day celebrations
• The new tele line at our premises and on intimating change of address of our members
• Fondly remembering our beloved KE Raghavan who left for heavenly abode on 25th Aug 2007
• Felicitating Ravi Srinivasan, our member who was the Chef de Mission for the Indian contingent that secured bronze medal at the 2nd World Tennikoit competition held at Germany.

All these and more in the present issue of BLISS.

Look forward to your feedback.

With regards – S Sampathkumar

PS : For those new recipients, SYMA is a Social service organization in existence for more than 3 decades and BLISS is the newsletter / voice of SYMA.

Yours truly is the Secretary of SYMA and has been the Editor of BLISS for more than 7 years since its inception.

Champions League - Chennai Super Kings in Finals - Who is to lose to them ?

In the first Semis at Kingsmead, Durban, it rained and Raina reined. It was overcast at the start and match was disrupted after 2.5 overs at which time CSK were 15 without loss with Murali Vijay on 11. The match was reduced to 17 overs a side. MEK Hussey, left at 3.5 when score was 11; Vijay was out for well made 41 off 32 when score was 100(2) off 11.5. Raina remained unbeaten on 94 off 48 with 5 hits to the boundary and six over it.

Now they await the winner of the match at Centurion where South Australian Redbacks play Eastern Cape Warriors, the local side. Redbacks have not lost a single game thus far. Warriors have Botha, Juan Theron and Justin Kreusch bowling well and the caption Davie Jacobs making runs. They also have Ashwell Prince and Boucher. Redbacks are riding a crust with Klinger, Putland, Christian, Tait all performing well. It remains to be seen whether Makhaya Ntini and leftie Lonwabo Tsotsobe would threaten as much Tait & Co.

RCB had a lucky route to Semis with only two wins. A team like Victorian Bush rangers were out of the race though they had three wins. On a day when Raina was at his violent best, all bowlers including Kumble were hit all over the park. Rain had threatened Kumble already as the funny rule was that in case of no result, the team that finished higher on its Group points table will progress to the final i.e., CSK – had there been a no result.

As often said, the famous Kumble’s scowl - the characteristic distraught face with sullen contraction of eye brows was to the fore. The warrior went down fighting. He was let down badly by a terrible mishap of Dale Steyn running to take the spiraled mishit of Hussey and made a terrible landing. Thus one bowler less, he had to manage. Their fielding was also awful. Manish Pandey misjudged one at deep midwicket, when Raina was on 18 – perhaps had moved in too much on his own.

In the end the great knock of Raina ensured drubbing of RCB by 52 runs. Pandey made 52 off 44. Kallis was off due to an injury and the replacement; the highly priced White disappointed with both bat and ball. The good opening spell of Morkel also sealed the fate.

Now CSK has a fair chance of lifting the cup. Namma CSKku periya whistle adingo !

Regards – Sampathkumar S

Friday, September 24, 2010

The role of ANCHOR (in a Ship - illustrated)

The caption sure would mean different things to different people.

NZ High Commissioner to India has apologized to CM Sheila Dikshit for the racist remarks made by an anchor (Paul Henry) in a talk show. There are anchors for TV / Radio show and for the various entertainment programmes who present the show interlaced with glamour. Star News made an initiative to find out budding talents who aspire to become anchors. It was a multistage elimination process to select Star Anchor from amongst thousands of aspirants. The first two selected were awarded Ford Figo car and opportunity to become anchor in Star News.


The news of Greenpeace activists attaching a survival pod to the anchor chain of Stena Carron off Bressay prompted me to write something on anchor. Purely an attempt by a non-technical person, not a sea-farer to write something solely based on some articles collated and things seen from a distance.
                                                        the survival pod can be seen here.

                                                      greenpeace activist inside the pod

The life near Marine beach has influenced me in many ways – there are days when we sat in beach, enjoyed the sea breeze, discussed everything under the sun. The huge vessels that float on the Bay of Bengal, the fishing trawlers, catamarans all captivated us. One would wonder about the movement of those gigantic floating objects that carry passengers, cargo, oil, containers and more. Though from the sands one can hardly make out the different types or for that matter cargo that was being carried.

Probably it was the fascination for sea and venturing into it would have made people sail without fathoming the depth, the distance or the sustenance of the equipment that they depended on. Men would certainly have ventured into the sea much before the construction of modern day boats and ships. Ships and boats would have developed alongside mankind. We have read of wars where the power at sea had a major role to play. Chozha and Kalinga kings went to Ceylon, Burma and beyond and established their kingdoms over there. In tamil literature there are proverbs and adages of venturing across the sea for gaining riches. Have often wondered why the vessels would be stopped as though the ship contains advanced controls and automation, would not have brakes. When it is required to be held at a place from drifting astray, anchors are used. Here is an amateur attempt to write something on anchor !!

The purpose of anchoring is to secure the vessel and stop drifting due to the actions of wind, wave, tide and currents. A vessel closer to land is secured to a dock, piling, mooring buoy etc.,
                                                 ship anchored mid sea - illustration.

                                                             vessel tied at the port
Anchor is not a machine or equipment. For those who have absolutely no idea, an anchor is a heavy object, often of metal, used to attach the ship to the bottom of body of water at a specific point to keep the ship from drifting (moving). To put it crudely, anchor is like a large rock. When one end of a rope from the boat is tied to the dead weight, it is anchored. But this may not work when there are strong winds and tides act on the boat. A permanent anchor is often termed mooring. The anchor is attached by chain, cable, mooring line. The hole in the vessel’s hull through which the rode passes is called ‘hawsepipe’ as the thick mooring lines are known as hawsers.

Anchors are dropped into sea in the sea bed, it contains a chain (ropes in case of smaller boats) – the extra length would allow movement depending on weather conditions. Of course nothing is as simple as they are written. Legends are agog with stories that in olden days tying people to anchor and throwing them into sea was one method of execution (Recall Kamal being thrown into the sea in the opening scene of Dasavatharam). It is believed that the stones shaped like letter T in Tutankhamen’s tomb could be anchors. Over thousands of years, this developed into rudimentary anchor, and its design improved gradually. It is also a fact that the design of anchor has not changed much over the years.
                                         anchor of Lexa Maersk(courtesy :

The role of anchor can be simply explained by the principle of resistance to the movement force of the vessel. The primary ways of achieving this are the sheer mass and by hooking to the sea bed. Permanent moorings use large masses resting on the seabed. For temporary anchors, this is not practical. These anchors are stored on board and are dropped whenever necessary. The metal flukes on them hook on to the rocks in the bottom or bury themselves in soft bottoms.

On an anchoring run, the ship would lay the anchor together with a length of its iron cables on the seabed. Besides the weight of the anchor, the weight of the huge iron cables connected to the anchor also secure the ship. As extra length of chain is always allowed, the ship would be held to a circular area, the radius of which would be determined by the length of the cable released.
                                          anchor of Lexa Maersk(courtesy :

For an anchor to be effective, the anchor should be strong enough to withstand the strains and rode should be of necessary length. To be effective, the anchors should have sufficient weight for initial penetration, should bury deeply when subjected to horizontal pull, once buried should offer resistance to movement in the direction of pull, should remain rotationally stable even when pulled through the seabed and should break out of the ground easily when pulled upwards.

When the currents are high, the ship could drag the anchor or sever it at some weak link. A ship in water is subjected to wind and water forces and if restrained, it has to oppose these forces. The ship can maintain its position by steaming into the wind or current using energy.  According to the laws of physics, the primary purpose of an anchor is  not to hold the ship, but to hold one end of the chain on the seabed.  Given a chain long enough not to drag, any anchor at its end is entirely superfluous. The anchor occupies a smaller stowage space than the length of chain that it replaces: that is its engineering advantage over chain. As chain length is dropped on the sea bed and as the ship moves, a curve is formed, this is known as catenary.

A stiffly anchored vessel without scope for movement would be battered to pieces by wave action. This is what happens to most vessels that run aground.

In my experience in Kakinada, a claim of a fishing trawler reportedly was reported to have run aground in Hope island off Kakinada. I ventured into the sea in another fishing boat, reached the island and on the other side could see the fishing boat crouched on the sand. The salvage efforts were simple – to remove the sand from the bottom of the boat manually (sounds simple but very difficult to remove wet sand embedded under the weight of the boat against rough waves) dig on the sides, put wooden logs, pull it back to the sea by ropes tethered to another fishing boat, also push the boat manually. They would break and dismantle the engine from its cabin bed first.  This was done more to lighten the boat ; pulling a bare hull from sand to water is relatively easier.  Unfortunately, in this instance, nothing worked.  In a couple of days, all that remained were some planks and the huge fishing trawler had vanished. If none of us had seen it earlier, even the entire episode of running ground and then reduced to planks would have remained a story and we would have doubted the innocent fisherman of creating a story after intentionally breaking the boat for a TL claim.

As the boat stood aground, one side of it is battered by heavy waves and wind and the wooden structure slowly started giving way. In a few hours time, the remnants were only few planks. This could happen to a Ship as well though it is considered structurally much stronger and made of steel rather than wood.

As against a vessel that has run aground and immobilized, the anchor would allow movements of ship in three dimensions of yaw, pitch, roll and drift within design limits. ‘Aweigh’ is an important terminology describing the hanging anchor – not resting on the bottom. An anchor would be on aweigh when it is being hauled up from the bottom and is to be stored.

There are many more principles, types, angle of attack, scope, terminology – not all comprehensible to learners like us. Generally, the anchor and chain require little maintenance. Obviously such heavy weight of anchor and its chain cannot be manually hauled or dropped, there is something known as windlass which consists of cable lifter, mooring drum and warp which rotate and do the anchoring process.

Coming to the opening para, Stena Carron is a specialized vessel build by Samsung designed for exploration, batch drilling, capable of operating in depth of 10000ft of water. It has huge storage capacity of oil, has 6 – 7.4 MW diesel gensets, 6 sets of variable speed propellers, helicopter deck and accommodation of cabins, office, hospital, gym etc., Activists of Greenpeace trying to stop deepwater drilling taking place have attached a survival pod to the anchor chain, providing the campaigners a safe and comfortable haven from which to prolong their protest. Thus an anchor meant to prevent drifting is stopping it from doing its intended activity.

Hope this provided some basic inputs on anchor

Regards – Sampathkumar S
PS : The top two Star Anchor winners were : Akshay Shukla and Meenakshi Kandwal and the photo at the start of this article is that of Ms Kandwal

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Will CSK make the cut ? Chennaikku visil podanama ? Pujara - Who ??

Some update from South Africa and something on a 22 year old consistent batsman who has made news back home. Cheteswar Arvind Pujara born in Jan 25th 1988 could not have been ignored after prolific scores in domestic and in tours. In 2006 U19 WC, he was the highest scorer with 349. He is touted to be a classical player with good technique.

At South Africa the 2010 Champions League is entering a crucial phase after some absorbing tussles. This featured 10 teams – 3 from India, 2 each from Australia and Southafrica and 1 each from Sri Lanka, West Indies and Newzealand. The last 2 matches of the preliminary round is on today, which will determine the entrant to Semi from Group A where Chennai Super Kings have a stake.

This is a cash rich statement with the total prize money @ US $ 6 million (27 crores !) ; the winner gets 2.5 M$ and runner up gets 1.3M$. The winner, runner and the third team from the previous version of IPL (CSK, MI & RCB) were in fray. In a complex situation some players who had helped their team qualify for the tournament were part of another team also. The rule in such a scenario was that the player can play for his home team and if he plays for any other team, that team must pay the home team US$200000 as compensation. Royal Challengers Bangalore paid compensation for Jacques Kallis, Cameron White and Ross Taylor.

In Y day match RCB won convincingly thanks to good knocks by Manoj Pandey and Virat Kohli after good bowling performances of 2/23 by Vinay Kumar and 1/13 by Kumble. They have qualified for the semi stage though they won only two of their matches. South Australia is the other qualifier from Group B. Group A is wide open with the last match involving CSK Vs Warriors and Central Dist playing Wayamba in a match of no significance.

Warriors have won all their games thus far. If they beat CSK, they would qualify without using a calculator. So also would Victoria. But if they lose, they need to ensure that they do so by a small margin (approx less than 30 runs or more than 16.3 overs) to maintain a higher NRR than Victoria.

CSK are in a must win situation ; need to beat Warriors – CSK has the best NRR as of now. The Bushrangers have reeled off 3 straight wins but would require Warriors beating CSK for a sure berth. Wayamba and Central Dist have not won a single match and are already out of semis.

Back home, the Team to play the touring Aussie did not contain great surprises. The Squad is : MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, Cheteshwar Pujara, M Vijay, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Sreesanth and Amit Mishra

The punter’s men are already here and would play two tests : 1st at Mohali (Oct 1 – 5); 2nd at Bangalore (Oct 9-13).. They would also play 3 one dayers : Oct 17 – Kochi; Oct 20 Visakhapatnam; Oct 24 at Margao.

The dropping of Yuvraj Singh was on the cards and the heavy scoring Saurashtran Pujara is in the squad. He is unlike to play the Test as the no. 6 spot would go to Suresh Raina after his ton at Lanka. Abimanhyu Mithun has been dropped as Zaheer and Sreesanth make comebacks. Bhaji would continue to be the spinhead backed by Amit Mishra or Ojha. 

Pujara has been averaging more than 50 and during the tour to England socred a double. He has 14 first class centuries and is a big hundred player. Surprising he was part of the Kolkatta Knight Riders T20 squad also. At one point of time, he scored two triple centuries in CK Nayudu U22 and then completed one more against Orissa in Ranji becoming the first Saurashtran to make a triple ton. His stand with Ravindra Jadeja was worth 520 becoming the second best partnership in Indian cricket after Vijay Hazare and Gul Mohammed’s 577 for Baroda against Holkar in 1946-47.

How far he goes from here remains to be seen as Test cricket could be a different cup of tea…

Regards – Sampathkumar S

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A sad end to century old passenger train route - Punalur to Sengottai

A travel by train is always worth of savouring. A journey was worth its length. The yester generations cherished travel by talking a lot about the journey and the experiences during the travel.    The most popular advice perhaps those days was not to sit near the window and look out when the train chugged out of station – for those days, engines were powered by coal and fine coal dust would be in the air and could fall in eyes.

As you traverse along, you look outside to see a bowler starting his run up; your neck would turn and remain glued till the small ground goes out of sight – you might never know what happened to that ball – the sight of trees running past in the opposite direction as the train moves is indeed a great sight. In those days, whenever the train stopped at any station, people would hurriedly get down to fill up their containers with water from taps on the platform.   The state owned Indian Railways has more than 64015 km of tracks and 6909 stations, traversing the length and breadth of the country. Millions use this facility every day. From 1853, the Railways have come a long way. Going by the measure of distance between the tracks, there are gauges known as Broad gauge 1676mm; meter gauge 1000 mm as also on few hilly routes narrow gauge. To a regular traveller, whether it was a travel from Chennai Central or Chennai Egmore mattered. From Egmore it was to southern destinations of Tamilnadu and by MG trains – which would not have sidebirths ; the BG ones would have 8 (3 + 3 + 2 aisle)

On April 2, 1931 – the meter gauge suburban service of Electrical Motor Units popularly known as EMU on which great majority of chennaites depend was inaugurated. 30th June 2004 was a sad day as the EMU units entered their sheds, not to come out again – replaced by Broad gauge train units. Chennai area was unique to have electrified MG lines. Understand that the early EMU ran on 1.5KV DC and were built by Metreo Camell and were wooden bodied. Then came the gauge conversion project by 1999 there were two MG and one BG line.

Now comes an end to a 108 year old scenic passenger route – a 51 km track from Shengottai to Punalur. There was emotional farewell along the route. This route had started way back in 1873 and took 27 years to complete. The first goods train ran in 1902 and passengers were on in 1904. It is one of the last gauge conversion works to be taken up in Tamilnadu. This was a tiny five compartment train taking over 100 minutes to reach Sengottai near Courtallam in Tamilnadu from Punalur in Kerala. The passengers would have a breath taking view of Western Ghats as the train passes through tunnels, the longest one being the one between Bhagawathipuram and Aryankavu. The journey provided pristine view of wild life sanctuary, captivating waterfalls, teak plantations, sandalwood plantations and freshwater mangroves.

The Railway stations from Sengottai were Bhagavathipuram, Aryankavu, Edapalayam, Kathurthy, Tenmalai, Ottakkal, Edaman and Punalur. Remember that there was a movie in 1983 by name ‘Bhagavathipuram Railway gate’ starring Thiagarajan (father of Prashanth) with stirring music by Illayaraja

The gauge conversion is part of the bigger and longer Virudhunagar – Tenkasi – Tirunelveli – Tiruchendur project; upon completion it would serve as a shorter route from Trivandrum to Chennai. This could also open more avenues for commodity movement through rail to kollam (quilon)

The suspension bridge at Punalur is one of its kind in South India – built in 1877 by Albert Henry across kallada river. There is some history (source : IFRCA) that the Maharaja of Travancore had published of the first train trip on 1st June 1904; but there were heavy monsoon rains and a portion of the tunnel near Aryankavu had caved in. Still two steam locomotives were brought to Quilon to run the Punalur Quilon leg. It is written that these locos were brought from Shengottai to Tuticorin and transported to Quilon by ship. The first train was flagged by the Maharaja himself and had 21 salute gun fire. The Quilon Shengottai line was thrown open on 26/11/1904.

When it was perceived, it was comparatively easy to construct the rail line from Kollam to Punalur but five tunnels of different length had to be constructed between Punlaur and Aryankavu – the kazhuthurutti bridge being the most noteworthy one.

Already many meter gauge railway lines have become protected monuments and thing of the past. The Shengottai Punalur passenger train joined this sad list on 19th Sept. 2010.

Regards - S.  Sampathkumar