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Thursday, March 31, 2011

India beats Pakis in the Semi at Mohali - the Nation rejoices

There have been thousands of matches before this but ODI 3147 at Mohali was a supercharged one.  The entire Nation stopped work, streets were empty – family and friends reunion everywhere.  People were talking to each others, phones kept ringing – the only topic INDIA --  read cricket….

At 11 pm in the night, most children are awake so also are parents.  In Triplicane, one can hear bustling sounds of crackers.  People descend down in our apartment to stealthily bring the electric crackers, light them – jump in joy and return to their beds.  In some ways reminiscent of 25th June 1983 – when the whole Nation erupted but 28 years is too long and this generation and times are far too different perhaps. For most of the days, the cities were ghost towns, markets deserted…… people actively had only one work – watching India expecting and praying a win. 
In my yesterday’s post I had mentioned of  ODI No. 729 played at SCG on 4th Mar 1992. India opened with Ajay Jadeja and Krish Srikkanth.  The young Sachin made a flamboyant 54 off 62 balls  and India mustered 216 for 7 in 49 overs.  Pakistanis were all out for 173 with Kapil, Manoj Prabhakar, Srinath all taking 2.  Sachin chipped with 1 giving 37 in his full 10 overs and was the Man of the match. The greatest batsman ever failed to get a hundred but got another Man of the Match.  Well, it was never that simple as the drama unfolded making the weaker hearts sink.    

It is no coincidence that Sachin is the only player who has appeared in all the 5 Indo Pak clashes in WC and has helped them on the winning side.  He won the MoM in 1992, 2003 & 2011.  You need not be in the stadium, you can be in a large group to understand and feel this phenomenon.
When Sachin is on say in his twenties, generally no body speaks much (inside stadium there will be raving chants of sachin, sachin.. and the beat would raise up) – the air is expectant of a big innings from him.  If he is in a spot of bother – hush would descend and there would be total silence.  Then slowly people would find reasons for his getting out – either blaming the pitch or the decision but never the icon.

Yesterday, after the Sehwag blast at 11th over – 4th ball Saeed Ajmal deceived Sachin with a good delivery.  Ian Gould raised his finger.  Sehwag had already contested the decision unsuccessfully – India went on a review – the ball was legal, pitched in line but likely missing the leg stump.  All the pundits roar that he is not out.  So says Billy Bowden and Gould reverses but there is no respite.  The next ball sachin lunges forward and beaten by the doosra – Kamran Akmal who has poor outing these days, whips the bails in a flash and now the Simon Toufel refers to Billy.  All the children inside the room, say that his leg is very much planted well inside – most out of conviction than factual.  He was in and he continues. 

It was not the greatest innings from the greatest batsman of this generation – he plodded and pushed – lucky to be dropped but nothing will diminish the grit and tenacity of the little master. In 1983 Krish Srikkanth during that sweet knock of 38 went down on this knees to make the sweetest drive off Andy Roberts, which remain etched of the memories of all cricket lovers.  Yesterday Sachin played a very similar shot.

Indians are savouring this moment and not speaking of the match against Lanka.  To many a win against Pak was more sweeter.  Statistically, India played Pak in WC in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003 & 2011 – all Indian victories. 

When the match started – almost the entire Nation watched and sang the National anthem along with the team.  Yusuf was deservedly left out in favour of Raina, who eventually played a neat little cameo in the company of rabbits and fielded electrically.  But No Ashwin – something incomprehensible.  How and why the leaking Munaf and the oldie Nehra found a place !!  Shoaib Akhthar has been training hard and was expecting this to be his swan song – he was also dropped even when Pak went in with an extra bowler.   Wahab Riaz and Sajeed Ajmal ae playing.  In the end the pitch played a lot slower and Ashwin would have exploited things better – the Indian bowling for once did appear good though Misbah helped the cause in his own way. 

When almost all batsmen prodded and found scoring difficult, it was a different ball game for Virender Sehwag.  The third over of the match was bowled by the best Pak bowler – Umar Gul and Viru was on strike.  The first one was pitched on leg and flicked nonchalantly past midwicket for a four.  No one move shot.  Second, viru without any foot movement whips it past midwicket again slightly  away from the earlier spot – the same result.   The field changes – viru plays it to square leg – no run.  Gul sighs a relief.   Fourth ball another leg side shot beats long leg for a four.  Fifth a slower ball finds the point boundary.  Sixth was a no ball – a front foot one and hence free hit – sent scurrying through extra cover.  [21 runs already] and a ball left.. mayhem. No run off the free hit.  When Sehwag was blazing, there were talks of India scoring 310 [people dreaming 350 in their mind but wantonly telling a lower figure] which vanished later as the game progressed and Indians struggled to milk Ajmal and Afridi. 

The score card of India 260/9 and Pak 231 – India winning by 29 runs would never reflect these happy moments.  India's dream of a World Cup triumph at home is one step closer now.   The Indians bowled a much disciplined length and the first extra came off Munaf in the 37th over. 

All would be lost count in a win like this but the later middle order has not been contributing at all – Dhoni has not contributed much with the bat.  Virat failed, Yuvraj did not trouble the scorers.  The score of 260 was eventually enough but more contributions should come as India have the best chance of lifting the trophy on Saturday at Wankhede.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All roads lead to Mohali and airspace is under surveillance - the WC Semi hype - India plays Pakistan

The security at major hotels has been tightened, and several approaches to the venue have been sealed. The venue is to have four layers of security personnel including intelligence officials, armed policemen, and elite commandos. The airspace over the venue is being be monitored; anti-aircraft guns have been put in place.
---  what is all this.  Anything to do with a Head of Country’s meet or a State dignitary arrival…
No the hype is all about the much awaited  semi-final contest in the World Cup at  Mohali. It is not cricket.  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Yousuf Raza Gilani,  are to be there watching the match.  
It is a Cricket match – an One dayer between two Countries, the result at best would only pick the Team that would play in the final at Wankhede.  To attach any other significance does not seem logical…
Here are some interesting facts on the clash, the venue and the WC.  Indians fans all around would stop all other work and pump for an Indian win.
Regards – S. Sampathkumar

Herath Mudiyanselage Rangana Keerthi Bandara Herath – to even those who have been following Lankan cricket regularly, his selection was bemusing.  A left arm spinner more suited to longer format, he was a surprise selection ahead of Suraj Randiv – the offie who can stake claims to be an all rounder.   Srilanka has game plans and they seem to be working over time. 
NZ have reached Semis for the 6th time in the 10 World Cups, and they have lost at this stage in all their previous encounters.  Just as we boast of an all win [in four matches in WC] against Pak, Lankans had also played Kiwis four times and had won on all occasion.  So the result was a foregone conclusion – an ‘All Asian finals at Wankhede’. 
India and Pak both exited ignominiously in the last WC but have had contrasting runs thereafter.  The win at VB series in 2007-08 was mighty for the Indians besides the home wins against many visitors.  Pak have been dogged by player inconsistency, smug deals, bans, player running away and more, but have risen greatly under Afridi.  A loss could show the other face again and there could be some senior player revolts.   
It is only a match – an One day game but it stokes emotions and passions.  The last time when both the teams met in 2003 WC – India had a stiff target of 274 from 50 runs and the openers Sehwag and Tendulkar (the same combination) sparkled with a start.  Sachin went on to make a glorious 98 off 75 with that famous sail over point for a six. 
To all those fans, do you know or remember who ensured an Indian win when the teams met for the first time in WC 1992 at Sydney Cricket Ground ?
The famous Miandad aping Kiran More incident
In the first Semis, Lankans lost the toss and Kiwis decided to bat first.  Against England, with Strauss and Bell left combination – they opened bowling with Tilakaratne Dilshan and Strauss struggled to score.  At Khettarama stadium [yes Ranasinghe Premadasa stadium] was known by this name till 1994, the Nation was cheering for their team to win.  And as expected Kiwis were fed 34 overs of staple spin bowling. 
If that was expected in some ways, the second over being given to Herath was something that took everyone by surprise.   He was up against Brendon McCullum capable to tearing anybody.  The second ball was thumped over midwicket for a four.. he came back courageously to bowl the fourth and looped his quality spin – it was a maiden – in a power play – 4th over of the match with dangerous McCullum playing it out.  The first ball of the 6th over was sent deep into the crowds over deep square for a mighty six. But at 7.1, McCullum’s heave was deceived – Herath and Sanga had the laugh.  Kiwis folded for 217 with Malinga (3), Mendis (3), Murali (2) – Dilshan & Herath one a piece sharing the spoils.  
After the thrashing they gave to England with both Dilshan & Tharanga making centuries, this was expected to another thrashing but there were some pressure points before Lankans emerged comfortable winners losing 5 wickets.   From 1601 for 1 there was a mini collapse to 169/4 and 185/5 but Lankans prevailed.
Today’s encounter is at Punjab Cricket Association stadium at Mohali where IS Bindra ruled the roost for long.   This excellent looking stadium was a swamp in 1992 but now is lush green, with excellent practice facilities, spectator friendly outlook – spoiled by the visit of politicians and the usual mismanagement of sale of tickets.   This was inaugurated during 1993 when India played SA in Hero cup.  Mohali is known for its lively pitch and seamer friendly conditions.    Mohali is located in the outskirts of Chandigarh.  Had written the history of Mohali in one of my recent posts.  In 1996 WC, it was the venue for the thrilling semi final clash where Aussies beat WI.    The first test was played in Dec 1994 when Walsh and Kenny Benjamin sliced through the famed Indian batting line up.  

The flood lights here  are unconventional compared to other cricket stadiums, in that the light pillars are very low in height.  When most other stadiums have 4 towers, Mohali has 16 smaller flood light towers.  This is because it is close to Indian Air Force base – should we really have a stadium if that poses a hazard that was tried to be answered ??
The current curator is  Daljit Singh, a wicket keeper who played for Delhi and Services.  To prevent spectators from running on to the field, a common trouble in Indian grounds – some places employ extra cops, some have nets, Mohali has a man made lake. 
Dhoni inspecting pitch with Daljit
Now coming back to the Indian first match and first win in WC – it was in 1992 in a format that was a league when all played all in qualifying round.  India had a very dismal outing managing only two wins with the match against Lanka getting washed out.  There were innovations of coloured clothing with names on back, flood lights, white  ball, fielding circle rules redefined (Botham, Greatbatch and even Kapil opened).  It also saw the ludicrous rain rule. 
In ODI No. 729 played at SCG on 4th Mar 1992, India opened with Ajay Jadeja and Krish Srikkanth.  The young Sachin made a flamboyant 54 off 62 balls  and India mustered 216 for 7 in 49 overs.  Pak bowling attack was headed by Wasim Akram with Imran, Aaqib Javed, Mustaq Ahmed and Wasim Haider.  Pakistanis were all out for 173 with Kapil, Manoj Prabhakar, Srinath all taking 2.  Sachin chipped with 1 giving 37 in his full 10 overs and was the Man of the match. 
With regards – S. Sampathkumar    

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Will the land of Long white clouds put it across Lankan Lions - First Semi WC 2011

The WC now shifts to a higher platform.  The glory of the game is its uncertainty  - the form and history can only be pointers but would not determine the result.

Kiwis have been the most consistent performers in WC – having been in the Semis six times but not proceeding farther even once.  New Zealand prior to WC had forgettable series in India losing all 5 and losing 4 at Bangladesh – that way Daniel Vettori stood no chance of dreaming for the finals, though realistically he has today.   If they lose today, it will be an All Asian Finals at Wankhede.

New Zealand is an island country in the Pacific of two main land masses – the land of long white cloud.  They have been gentle cricketers and despite being tenacious don’t show up on losing.  They are up against a Team which openers have just hammered England out of contention inside 40 overs and have a good middle order to boost.  Besides, the uncanny Murali is solidly backed by Mendis and at times unplayable Malinga.  Then there is Mathews – that England struggled against the gentle bowling of Dilshan was an added bonus.  Their big loss to Lanka in the group match might also weigh heavily in their mind.  

They have nothing to lose and that way the pressure will be squarely on Mahela playing infront of their home crowd who would egg for their best performance.  Of the top 5 aggregate scores thus far in this tourney, three Lankans – Dilshan, Sanga and Tharanga figure in.

Against SA, the spirited fielding where Guptill excels and some disciplined bowling won them the match.  Srilanka looks forward to the fitness of  Muttiah Muralitharan  who is recovering from his knee injury and strained quadriceps

Chasing in floodlights is considered difficult at Premadasa stadium, though Lankans did so well without losing a single wicket against England – that perhaps was a different ball game. In an interesting  trivia, Kiwis played out 171 dot balls in QF against SA and could still win.  

Psychologically as Indians keep saying that we have never lost a match to Pak in a WC, Lanks have also won all their 4 WC games against Kiwis and their overall record is 33-35 – but in this decade it is a heavily loaded 20 -11 in Lankan’s favour.  Ross Taylor has kept his reputation very high with 14 sixers which is higher than all that hit by Lankans.  

So there are huge expectations and Onedayers are always of that team which performs better on that day………… So whom do you support today …… my heart pumps for Lankan Lions..

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

Monday, March 28, 2011

All roads lead to Mohali - India Vs Pakistan - Semi Finals on 30th March 2011

All roads now lead to the city of Mohali, named after the eldese son of Guru Gobind Singh, Sahibzda Ajit Singh (House of Sahibzada Ajit Singh). History has it that when Mughal forces besieged Anandpur in 1705 Ajig Singh, a veteran of many wars,  displayed his qualities of courage and steadfastness.  After a long stalemate, the Mughals assured that they would let the population of the town unharmed and take only the Fort of Anandpur. But they violated – Ajit Singh fought bravely against heavy odds with a small group defying a huge army.  Ajit singh grimly laid his life in the battle. 
The Politicians, industrial heavy weights, IPL owners everyone would be there – all hotesl within 25 km radius have already been booked and in the usual scramble, genuine fans would be disappointed and would not be able to get a ticket for the match. 

Cricket Fans would be delighted at the prospect of India maintaining their unbeaten streak over Pak and a win over Pak is not merely a passage to Finals but much more than that for them. It would be a great encounter for the Cricket fans, a dream for the business of the game – a contest between rivals would benefit every one commercially. 
But there is absolutely nothing for the Nation than viewing it as a mere semi final match much as against any other opponent.  Indians beat the reigning champion Aussies and broke their winning streak of 3 WC in a row and perhaps would play Lanka (or Kiwi) – will there by any other significance than that of a major match ??

It is the 10th WC – there have been matches before and there will be matches after – but there is very big media hype of the India Pakistan encounter on Wednesda to be "mother of all battles".  Sure whenever India plays Pakistan there is bound to be an air of stiffness, pressure for every one including the not so well informed spectator – it is war. There is another term ‘cricket diplomacy’ which would circulate broadly in media now.

BUT is not a Cricket a game – in fact the Indian Cricket team is more a representation of the Board of Cricket Control of India than the Nation….  In more than a way, this sort of hype and a match of this type is bound to give more troubles…..    The Indian PM Manmohan Singh has invited his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani and he has accepted the invitation.  He will see the match at Mohali.  There are reports that besides the PM atleast five sitting governors of Pakistan are likely to be put up in the guest house, besides half-a dozen Union ministers.

Reports quoted Pak  President Asif Zardari’s spokesperson  as welcoming the invitation but refused to state anything on the possibility of talks on any issues that strains the neighbours.  The  Punjab governor and Chandigarh administrator Shivraj Patil may host the dinner on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the Raj Bhawan here if the PMO gives its clearance.

There has been stalemate in Indo Pak ties after the fall out Islamabad last year.   It is stated that the Pak PM would  visit Mohali but would not visit New Delhi – what is welcome in this limited position is not known.  Bilateral talks between the countries are required but should Nation be so overtly wary of cricket happenings ! and what makes news in a person, be it the PM of neighbouring country visiting to view the match ?  In what way it serves the Nation  ??

Some would jump to say that it would generate a congenial environment conveniently forgetting that there was trouble across the border after the bus diplomacy.  Remember there has been no cooperation from the Pak side in bringing in 26/11 guilty to book, remember the skirmishes that keep happening near the frontier, remember the incursions into the land, remember Kandahar hijack and remember cross border abetted terrorism – there are major issues than the result of a cricket match.

This is a match between the Nations after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.  Anyway this is not the first time.  In 1987, Zia Ul Haq visited Jaipur at the instance of Rajiv Gandhi.  In 2005, Genl Pervez Mushraff watched ODI at Kotla.  Apart from the incursions, there have been reports of overstayal of missing of Pak citizens who had come in the garb of seeing cricket match, what potential harm these persons who sneaked could do is worrisome.

Dialogue between the leaders,  at Home secretary level and measures in peace harmony are all welcome – this symbolic trip of seeing a cricket match is not going to add value to this, is my feeling.  Negotiations with civil authorities , cooperation and credible engagement with military leadership, tangible foreign policy, diplomacy, belief and mutual trust are all needed for peaceful coexistence. 

Due to all the hype, there would extra pressure on Dhoni, Sachin, Sehwag and on Afridi and his men too.  Remember again, this only a  cricket match.  In all India has played  Pakistan 119 times starting from 1978, a series where Bishan Bedi won a match and forfeited one.  Indians have won 46 and lost 69.

In WC, Indians have played Pakistanis in 1987, 1992, 1999 & 2003 and have beaten them convincingly on all the encounters.  So far cricket fans, it should be a great match but nothing more than a cricket match…..

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rajiv Trivedi swims to glory – fastest swim across sea from Lanka to India

Do you know the youngest Arjuna Awardee ?  The Arjuna Awards were instituted in 1961 by the Government of India to recognize outstanding achievement in National sports. The award carries a cash prize of  500,000, a bronze statuette of Arjuna and a scroll.

Elsewhere, a Senior IPS Officer Rajiv Trivedi created record of sorts by swimming from Lanka to India in 12 hours 31 minutes on 25th March 2011.   New Indpress reports that he started from Talaimannar in Srilanka and reached Danushkodi (Rameswaram tip) in the shortest time recorded thus far.   He reportedly had reconnaissanced the route several months ago and was accompanied by another DSP Bala Saheb Ghatge.  Rajiv Trivedi,  is currently posted as the Additional Director of the AP Police Academy in the ranks of senior IGP.  He was the Contingent Commander of the contingent of Indian police officers which served in the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the year 1999-2000.

The great achiever is stated to have reached Talaimannar by boat on Thursday and stayed in the boat itself overnight.  The newspaper report quotes him as having had some noodles on a kerosene stove and having jumped into the waters at 4 am sharp when it was very dark.  He had with him an electronic shark deterrent system to avoid sharks as this portion is shark-infested.  He said he met several dolphins and a variety of fishes on the route.  There are systems utilising advanced three dimensional electrical wave which repel sharks via an electric field that induces spasms in the shark’s snouts.   

He is not the first man to swim across from Srilanka to India – Kurtaleeswaran, Meher Sen and Bula Chowdary had all achieved this feat and Rajiv has been the fastest.    The basic principle of swimming is buoyancy. It is an art to float in water and move around faster.  Swimming in a pool is much different than on a river or on a vast might Ocean.  The long distance swimming is more of endurance and stamina.  
Achievements are nothing new to Rajiv Trivedi.  In Jan 2010, he completed the famous Standard Chartered Full Marathon Mumbai as a tribute to martyrs.  He ran the distance of 42.195 Kms. in a creditable time of 3 hours and 37 minutes.

Sure, you would remember Ashok Kamte, ACP Mumbai [on whom Ashoka Chakra was conferred after he was killed in the dreaded 2008 Mumbai attacks].  Rajiv Trivedi and Kamte were together at Sarajevo.  A month after the attacks, famous Gadge brothers of Mumbai planned a long distance swim from Dharamtar to Gate of India to honour the martyrs and Rajiv was to join them.  Eventually he did not.  Gadge brothers swum in the Straight of Gibraltar but tragedy struck as Vinod Gadge got entangled in a fishing net. 

This busy Police officer is known for his fitness and has been actively encouraging all to keep fit and slim.  

His earlier achievements include becoming the First IPS officer to swim the strait of Gibraltar when he swam from Spain to Mount moosa in Moroccan coast.  Only 65 people have crossed the strait of which 18 are Indians.   He had tried to swim across the English channel but after a distance of 40 km had to stop due to high tide.  

The youngest Arjuna Award winner was Kutraleeswaran [1981 born] famous in Tamilnadu as a marathon swimmer.  He swam across the English channel in 1994 when he was just 13.  The very same calendar year, he  swam across 6 channels to break Mihir Sen’s record of swimming across 5 channels in a calendar year. Kutraleeswaran entered the  Guinness Book of World Records for this feat.

He was awarded ‘Arjuna Award in 1996’  Tamilnadu State Board text book in Tamil has a lesson on him.  Unfortunately,  he was not recognized as much as he deserved.  He is no longer an active swimmer and went on to study MS at the University of Texas, Dallas.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Will it be an all - Asian final at Wankhede ?? - choking again...

It is a knockout stage and only one team proceeds next – that is too obvious – but SA were the clear favourites and after restricting the Black caps to 221 and having a good start, the match was well within their hands.

One loves to call them chokers and they oblige mostly.  Chasing a modest total on an ordinary pitch against a regular attack, SA folded for 172 to hand over a 49 run win for Newzealand – they have been there at the Semi stage so many times, but have never progressed beyond.  Jacob Oram was the Man of the Match

Will it be an all Asian finals (most likely) and an India Srilanka match is probable.  Sachin whose walk even in increasing his popularity and Muralidharan will be playing their last match at Wankhede !!!

Not many fancied the Kiwis chances outright but history repeats itself with regularity and Kiwis have beaten South Africans in WC many a times before.  AB De Villiers the champion of batsman who was touted to be the highest scorer of this WC failed in crucial matches not being able to guide them to victory, when chasing an ordinary target.

Though many speak of the mindless dash made by Lance Klusner in 1999 WC, when ran and Donald did not.  There are more.  In 1996 they lost the WI who had just been beaten by Kenyans.  They chased 264 and were 140 for 2 but lost three wickets in a single over to Harper’s off spin and lost.   In 2003, they made a hash of Duckworth Lewis calculation – Boucher hit a six and played the last ball gently without scoring a run to crash out of the tournament. 

Something happening in the present day or a performance of Pak in a similar manner would immediately draw Press on match fixing……….
Now, Aussies are gone (after their Cup triumphs in 1999, 2003 & 2007) – the Pretorias are also gone; would England follow their way today remains to be seen……

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Indian Government set to allow Export of Sugar

The sweetener is a paradox – in some years after a good harvest, we are in a position to export and in other years, we become a major importer of the product, when the domestic crop is poor.

Sugar is sucrose, a carbohydrate found in every fruit and vegetable.  All green plants manufacture sugar through photosynthesis,  the process by which plants transform sunlight  into their food and energy supply. The origin of sugarcane is placed to thousands of years ago.  Annals of Alexander make mention of sugar in about 325 BC referring to a reed that yielded honey without bees.  In earlier days, it was a scarce luxury, a modern day necessity….

There are optimistic reports that Indian output in 2010/11 will be close to 25 million tonnes as against the domestic consumption of around 22 million tonnes.  Thus there is to be excess sugar output than domestic consumption, paving way for additional exports. 

Traditionally, Indians like sweet and sugar is prime requirement of every household starting from morning coffee to much more….. other than domestic consumption, there are bulk consumers like bakeries, sweet makers, biscuit makers, soft drink manufacturers and more.  This makes India top the list of consumer besides being the second largest producer. 

In India, the sugar is extracted from sugarcane, tall perennial grasses of the genus Saccharum (family Poaceae, tribe Andropogoneae). These canes have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six meters tall.  Sugar cane products include table sugar, molasses,  bagasse and ethanol.

Sugar mills are mostly seasonal industries with crushing starting from October onwards and peaking in January, generally ending in March or April – and depending upon the availability of supply could run longer also.   The Govt. fixes the price at which cane can be purchased from the farmers – it is 145 per 100 kg. The sugar prices had declined during the last 2 months with uncertainty over exports permission also contributing.   Some States also provide transport subsidy for every tonne of excess sugarcane sent for crushing.  There exist some problem due to the capacity of the sugar mill as also the problems in storage which could push the price down, if excess quantity is crushed. 

Reportedly the prices have gone up by 3.19% with the announcement of export of 5 lakh tonnes of sugar under OGL.  This announcement comes after a long delay of nearly three months. Centre  has also decided to increase the stockholding limit for a trader to 500 tonnes from 200 tonnes.

The unrestricted permission for exports is expected to benefit the trader as the global prices are higher by around Rs.200/- per quintal as compared to domestic rates.  The Food Ministry is likely to distribute the quota of 500000 tonnes among the Sugar mills on the basis of their 3 years’ average output or two years average production in case a mill has not been in operation for that period.  Any mill set up in 2010-11 will not be eligible to export.  The export is also dependent on the present year’s output and food inflation.   Though the destination is not clearly identified, the demand from the Middle East has been strong.

Sugar is also extracted from commercially grown Sugar beet, a cultivated plant of  Beta vulgaris,  whose root contains a high concentration of sucrose. The sugar comes from the tuber of the beetroot plant, chard and fodder beet. The European Union, the United States, and Russia are the world's three largest sugar beet producers. Mackay is widely noted as the "sugar capital" of Australia, producing a sizeable portion of Australia’s domestic supplies and exports.  Mackay Harbour is also home to one of the largest bulk-sugar loading terminals in the world.

You often see attractive packets of sugar in super market and there are bagged also.  But when transported over sea, it is generally transported in bulk.  They are placed on holds of specialized ships and discharged by means of very large "spoons" – and placed on tapes, the tapes take the grain to a silo. A silo is a tall cylindrical structure built for storing grain. Or Trucks are placed under very large funnels, the "spoon" drops the grain into the funnel and then a hatch, at the bottom of the funnel, is opened and there goes the grain, directly into the truck. They are vaccum suck also for unloading or done by grabbers.

Whilst all this is about the physical activity, there is also online trading on sugar as a commodity.  The rate of 100 kgs as at 20/4/11 is Rs.2765/- as at 20th may is Rs.2846/- and as at 20th June is Rs.2911/- clearly indicating that the rates are going to rise in the coming months.    Commodities are the things of value that are available in huge quantities.  Online trading (just as trading on shares, gold and silver) on agricultural produce like corn to natural resources like oil is done on mercantile exchanges of London & NY. 

There is also the future trading and trade on perishable are most volatile.  Money can be made or lost depending on your research, the extent of investment, your knowledge of history and future market trends and above all element of luck.  Those involved in the trade are necessarily the ones who have a need for the commodity but could be speculators aiming to make a profit predicting the movement.  It is more of paper purchase and sale without real need or even when the quantities are non-existent.

This known as Futures contract is a commitment to buy a  commodity with an inherent value at the date specified. It's used by the people who produce those commodities to regularize their income streams and protect themselves from excessive market volatility. 

Any kind of product that's produced in large quantities with regular production cycles, lead times of more than a month, seasonable variations in availability and price, and near constant demand for the raw material can be the subject of a futures contract. Futures can be thought of as agreements to sell or buy commodities at a specified price in the future, regardless of the market conditions.  Unlike stock portfolio or bond investing, you aren't buying a chunk of a corporation or a debt commitment to be paid back with interest, you are  taking a gamble on the future price of a commodity. Futures trading is risky, as is any kind of investment,  but experts would say that when spread on a diversified portfolio, it is most likely to yield positive results. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

When Pakitanis were beaten by West Indies – QF update – WC 2011

It was an interesting incident when the Adjudicator gave the MOM to a bowler, stating that it is customary to give the award to the member of the winning team, without realizing that the team had in fact lost after been in commanding position for a larger portion of the match.

There is very little to write about on the first QF.  It was a complete mismatch – WI succumbed not to the great pace attack of Pak but to their gentle spinners.  Gayle was out at 14 and the contest was never on.  Hafeez who opened the attack took 2 for 16; Afridi took another 4 for and Ajmal took another two.  A total of 112 was never going to test the opponents and Pakis pulverized them in 20.5 overs without losing a wicket.

In what can be termed as Finals for Indians, the match at Motera is threatening to be a livewire.  A win would sour the dreams of India lifting the WC after 25th June 1983.  After all the initial hustle, the Indian bowling option is most likely to be R Ashwin opening the bowling, initial burst from Zaheer with the new ball and there could be heavy dependence on spin.  How of much assistance they get from Motera wicket would hold the key.  The Indian batting has not collectively fluent but very good at the start which if continued could pose a great threat to Aussies despite the fact that Indians have crumbled in the slog and the batting powerplay.

Whether the personal pressure on Ricky Ponting would descend on his team remains likely to be seen.  On form and by statistics, Aussie is a superior team and they have won big titles though their 34 match streak came to an end with the loss to Pakis. 

It was the last league match in the inaugural WC – Tom Graveney, who was appointed to give out the Man-of-the-Match award, had left for the bar at the fall of our eighth wicket, that of Keith Boyce. He came back in time for the presentation, and gave the award to Sarfraz Nawaz.  When asked about his choice, he said: "Sarfraz has taken four wickets and it is normal for a player from the winning team to get the award." Someone then pointed out that West Indies were the winners. That was the first he got to know of the result of the game!
It was ODI no. 26 8th match of the tournament – a thriller.  Javed Miandad, Pervez Mir (who ?] and Gordon Greenidge made their debuts.  WI were playing Pakis for the first time.  Asif Iqbal, Pak captain and allrounder, had to opt out due to illness. Majid Khan took over as captain and elected to bat on winning the toss.

Majid and Sadiq opened against the likes of Roberts, Boyce, Julien and Holder.  There were half centuries from Majid, Mustaq and Wasim Raja and Pak finished at 266 for 7 in their allotted 60 overs.  WI had a strong batting line up too – Fredericks, Greenidge, Alwin Kallicharran, Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd and Vivian Richards  -  Pak bowling was in the hands of Asif Masood, Sarfraz Nawaz, Naseer Malik, Pervez Mir – Javed Miandad whom all know as a batsman who appeared till 1996 WC bowled the full quota of 12.

At 36 – Fredericks, Greendige, Kalli were back all out to Sarfraz and at 99 half of the team were inside the pavilion.  At 166 they were 8 down.  Holder held out for a while taking the score to 203 and when he was out – 65 had to be scored with Wicket keeper Deryck Murray being joined by Andy Roberts – match was over though were as may as 16 overs left  ………..  a great partnership blossomed and 5 were required off the last over – Majid had ran out of his main bowlers and Wasim Raja bowled the last one and WI won.   Murray was not out with 61 and Roberts made an unbeaten 24

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Defence Investiture Ceremony

The glitz and glamour of Cinema is overwhelming.  Media would devote the first page and photo feature to any cine related event – be it filmfare award of any other award involving cinema – worser still even for any function where a cine person is the chief guest.    Did you notice the  news item on Defence Investiture ceremony or know anything of  its significance?

Most unlikely.  Before you read some thing on the Investiture – Today [23rd March]  is the death anniversary of effulgent  Shahid Bhagat Singh.  For those of us born and brought up in the Southern part of India, not much of history of those martyrs is known as we did not have great details in our school books nor was it inculcated through folk legends. 
We often attach great importance to the soil or the place and that way Khatkar Kalan is a historic village for it has given many famous patriots and freedom fighters like Sardar Kishan Singh, Sardar Ajit Singh, Sardar Swaran Singh, Shaheed-e-Azam Sardar Bhagat Singh.   Nawanshahr  situtated on the banks of river Sutlej is a city in Punjab which was upgraded as a district in 1995, now it is a municipal council in the district named after the revolutionary and is called Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar district in Punjab.  It reportedly was built during the reign of  Khilji (1295-1316).  In Sept 2008, in commemoration of Shahid’s 101st birth anniversary, Punjab CM Prakashsingh Badal announced the formation of a district after him.  
Whilst gleaning the net this particular piece from Daily times of Pakistan [March 2004] captured attention.    :  Pak Daily times on Bhagat

It is an article on the celebrations of the 73rd death anniversary of Sardar Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhadev, that was celebrated in the city of Lahore in March 2004.   On that day, Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign had held a rally, which started from Faletti’s Hotel and ended at Shadman Chowk where all the three leaders were hanged in 1931. Kiran Jeet Singh, the nephew of Bhagat Singh,  had been specially invited from India to participate in the rally.  The efforts and ideology of the martyrs were lauded.

In India, there are many documents on the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh who was born on 28th Sept 1907 and was hanged on 23rd March 1931 are available.  He came from a family long associated with revolutionary activities.   He was deeply attached to Lala Rajpat Rai who started National College in Lahore.  Lajpat Rai led the protest against Simon commission at Lahore on 30th Oct 1928 and was beaten brutally by Scott. He later succumbed to the injuries.  Bhagat vowed revenge.  The Defence of India Act was in someways an ordinance to combat the revolutionaries.  On 8 April 1929, Singh and Dutt threw a bomb onto the corridors of the  assembly.   Bhagat  & Dutt were sentenced to 'Transportation for Life' for the bombing on 12 June 1929.Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev were charged with the murder.   On 1st  May 1930, by declaring an emergency, an ordinance was passed by Lord Irwin, that shifted the Lahore Conspiracy Case Trial from the court of Rai Sahib Pandit Sri Kishan to a Special Tribunal of three judges. On 7 October 1930, this tribunal convicted Singh among others and sentenced him to be hanged till death.  On 23 March 1931, Bhagat Singh was hanged in Lahore with his fellow comrades Rajguru and Sukhdev.  Bhagat Singh was cremated at Hussainiwala on banks of Sutlej river. The Bhagat Singh Memorial was built in 2009 in his hometown of Khatkar Kalan and a museum by the name "Shaheed-e-azam Sardar Bhagat Singh Museum" has been built at his maternal village, where sand and newspaper stained with his blood and his half burnt bones are preserved  These exhibits are silent reminders of supreme sacrifices these martyrs made for the motherland. They shall inspire the generations to come

The splendour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is multi-dimensional. It is a vast mansion and its architecture is breathtaking.  It is the residence of the President of the largest democracy in the world.   Amongst its pristine halls, there is the Durbar hall which has a  2-ton chandelier hanging from a height of 33 meters.  In the erstwhile British period, it had separate thrones for the Viceroy and Vicereine.  This hall is the centre for  State functions,  Defence Investiture ceremony,  Padma awards etc.,

On 18th March 2011,  President Pratibha Devisingh Patil decorated the nation’s brave soldiers at the Defence Investiture Ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
Ms. Patil presented 75 medals —14 Param Vishist Seva Medal, 13 Kirti Chakra, 25 Ati Vishist Seva medals and 23 Shaurya Chakras — at the ceremony attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and top brass of the armed forces. It is the time when military personnel are recognized for their bravery. 

The President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil presented the Defence Investiture Awards to  Defence and Paramilitary personnel at a function in the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 18, 2011. The President presented 13 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 4 Kirti Chakras (2 of them posthumously), 2 Uttam Yuddh Seva Medals, 24 Ati Vishist Seva Medals, 2 Bar to Shaurya Chakras and 19 Shaurya Chakra Medals (5 of them posthumously), to the Officers or Next of Kin who were present at the function.

The Kirti Chakra is an Indian military decoration awarded for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the field of battle. It may be awarded to civilians as well as military personnel, including posthumous awards. It is the peacetime equivalent of the Maha Vir Chakra.  It is second in order of precedence of peacetime gallantry awards; it comes after Ashoka Chakra and before Shaurya Chakra.

The Shaurya Chakra is an Indian military decoration awarded for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice while not engaged in direct action with the enemy. It may be awarded to civilians as well as military personnel, sometimes posthumously. It is the peacetime equivalent of the Vir Chakra. It is generally awarded for Counter-Insurgency operations and actions against the enemy during peace-time. It is third in order of precedence of peacetime gallantry awards and comes after the Ashoka Chakra and the Kirti Chakra. It precedes the Sena Medal.

The Ashok Chakra is an Indian military decoration awarded for valor, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the battlefield. It is the peace time equivalent of the Param Vir Chakra, and is awarded for the "most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent valour or self-sacrifice" other than in the face of the enemy. The decoration may be awarded either to military or civilian personnel and may be awarded posthumously.

Last year, the  president also named an Indian Air Force officer for Shaurya Chakra for saving a Russian-origin MiG-27 aircraft after a snag while being airborne at 9,500 feet. Flight Lieutenant Manish Arora was flying the MiG-27 when the canopy of his aircraft burst leading to injury to him and damage to the aircraft's cockpit. The fighter pilot recovered from the mishap quickly to get the aircraft to safety.

The cash purse accompanying these awards is very meagre and not commensurate either with the act or with the present age.  It’s time the Country honours and people recognizes its brave sons in the best possible manner

Jai Jawan   Jai  Hind.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

Tattoos - and something on todays’ QF between WI and Pak

The elections are round the corner – the poll manifesto of major parties speak of things that would be given free.  Tamilnadu electorate are used to receiving bounty –  already colour TVs were given to many households – now it is going to be free mixies or grinders to women,  free laptops to SC/ST students and free rice of 35 kg to BPL families ,  free bus travel to senior citizens ………. Saw a nice cartoon in a tamil daily – it depicted a man sitting in his easy chair as stating  ‘ why give items one by one – instead give 4 idlies and chutney to every person daily in the morning – so that one can sit idle and relax’  …..  there is lop sided development – people in cities whine while those in rural areas do not have access to even basic necessities.  

In politics, its makes good to wear one’s loyalty on your sleeve.  In a land where people keep falling at the feet of political leaders, supreme display of loyalty is often expected.  Years back, MG Ramachandran ordained that his party followers tattoo the flag of the party on their hands.  Many immediately had the party flag and the face of MGR tattooed on their arms and on chest.  Tattooing is known as pachai in tamil – pachai literally means green, and often the words / image looks green.  It is described as a painful process of pricking the epidermis with fine needles.

That tattooing was thought of to prevent people from jumping out  but still many jumped out of the bandwagon to join rivals at different periods is documented history anyway.  That is political alignment – no permanent friends or foes in politics – as they say.

As Insurers we also have tattooing – earlier  those animals (cattle / horses) which were insured were tattooed and later came the process of ear tags.  Tattoo is a painful process of  marking made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment for decorative or other reasons. Tattoos on animals are for identification often done crudely by brandishing them with hot rods – in humans it could be decorative body modification.  Tattooing has been practiced for centuries worldwide.  Many of the native tribes had this practice – in India this is associated with Nari kurava (vagabond) community.  Maoris, Arabics, Europeans, Taiwanese – the practice is reportedly prevalent in many lands. 

The World Cup is shifting gears and from today on, we have the QF stage matches.  India plays Australia at Motera tomorrow.  Their Vice captain is Michael John Clarke, a right handed batsman and left arm spinner.  Nick named pup, he is expected to take over from the Punter.  There are reports that he had a tattoo on left arm which read ‘carpe diem’  - a latin phrase which would mean ‘seize the day’.  It is stated that ‘carpe’ translates literally as ‘pluck’ – referring to picking of fruit, thus it could well be ‘enjoy the day, pluck the day when it is ripe’.

A couple of years ago, he had it changed and now sports something seemingly Arabic which is suggested to mean ‘the pain of discipline is nothing like the pain of disappointment’

There are motivational messages and many pin them on their desktops and some on their mirrors to see them every day.  Some append quotes or motivational sayings to their e-mail messages.  How much they really lift one, depends on how much one believe in them and want outside help to life their inner self…

Today’s match can be termed as one between unpredictables – the last time Windies played in Dhaka, they steam rolled their opponents into submission – a clinical swab given to Bangladesh.  Then as they travelled past the Shere Bangla stadium, stones were pelted at their bus, which was reported to be due to mistaken identity.  Chris Gayle from whom some towering infernos are expected in this match tweeted some bad words on the incident.  Sure this time they would have more security cover.  WI are the underdogs but if Gayle, Pollard, Russel, Kemar Roach blaze then they could be more than handy for the confident Pakis; then they have Darren Sammy and Bravo also in their ranks.    Pak has been playing well, finished on top of their group A and did a repeat of defeating Aussies – a la their win at Headingley in 1999. 

One day cricket is a game where the team that plays well on that day matters rather than form or previous performance guide.   If one goes by mere statistics, WI have won 64 of their ODIs against Pak but just 2 of the past 13 from Jan 2005.  Afiridi the fiercest hitter is yet to score a fifty in WC but has taken 17 wickets in this tournament so far.

WI won in 1975 & 1983 and were losing finalist in 1983.  In the last editions they have crashed out earlier.  Pak won in 1992 and were losing finalists in 1999 but crashed out in the first round in 2007. So whom do you bet on ?

Regards – S. Sampathkumar