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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mystery shrouds the missing of Arunachal Chief Minister – Dorjee Khandu.

Mystery shrouds the missing of Arunachal Chief Minister – Dorjee Khandu.  He had left Tawang by a helicopter in the morning to reach Itanagar which is 401 km away.  After concerns of the missing copter, there were reports that it had safely landed at Bhutan. 

Arunachal Pradesh attained statehood on 20th Feb 1987.  It is a lovely place with snow-capped mountains in the north to the plains of Brahmaputra valley in the south. Arunachal is the largest state area-wise in the north-east region, even larger than Assam which is the most populous.  It is situated between latitude 26 30' N  and 29 30 ' N and longitude 91 30' E and 9730' E.  Itanagar is the capital of Arunachal Pradesh and located at an altitude of 530 meters above MSL. It is named after Itafort meaning fort of bricks built in 14th century A.D.

Tawang is the HQ of West Kameng district.  It is a place of mystics and enchanting beauties, has the highest Peak - Gorithan (6858 Mts Mls.) and is the home of Monpa tribe.  Tawang is believed to have derived its name from the grandiose Tawang Monastery perched on the edge of the ridge running along the western part of Tawang township. Ta means Horse and Wang means chosen. As the legend goes the site of the present monastery is believed to have chosen by a Horse owned by Merag Lama Lodre Gyamtso.

Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu had left from here in the morning – the air contact stopped and searches were initiated – then there were reports of the helicopter carrying him landing in Bhutan.    The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small landlocked country in the Himalayas bordered by India, China and Nepal.  Its capital Thimpu is 245 kms away from Itanagar and would take approx 40 minutes by air from Itanagar to Thimphu.

Confusion prevailed as Defence spokesperson stated that CM had landed in a palce called Daporijo in Upper Subansiri dist; CM’s office had stated that it had landed in Bhutan.   Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of a helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh, with official claims that it had been traced to Bhutan denied and no news about the chopper till late evening Saturday. Bhutan has denied any Indian helicopter had landed in its territory.  Unfortunately, no direct contact appears to have been established, nor is there any proof of such landing.   The Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter had taken off from Tawang at 9.50 a.m. Saturday and was scheduled  to land in Itanagar at 11.30 a.m.  The helicopter is reported to have  had two pilots and three passengers on board, including the chief minister and his personal security officer. The third passenger, is stated to be a woman named Lamu.  There are lurking fears as the  helicopter is a single-engine chopper.  If and when the engine fails there are slim chances of it making a safe landing.

With concerns – S. Sampathkumar.

the late running of Rockfort Express and other trains in Tamilnadu

Train No. 16178 Rockfort Express scheduled to arrive at Chennai Egmore @ 05.30 am is late by more than 8 hours.  The common refrain from all quarters is – trains always run late and the conditions are horrible – nobody cares ! How often we pass judgment without trying to understand the real thing !! 

In Chennai, Tamilnadu, the Sun is scorching hot and the sweltering heat is oppressive.  Today it is reported to be 34 °C – described as ‘extremely hot’.  The weather in Trichy is given as 38 °C (with a comment that Feels Like 44 °C ].  Yesterday was hotter.

As you would surely know, Indian Railways is  a multi-gauge, multi-traction system covering over 1 lakh track kilometres, more than 7000 stations, 300 yards, 2300 goodsheds and 700 repair shops. Its rolling stock fleet includes 8300 locomotives, 39,000 coaching vehicles and 3.5 lakh freight wagons. Its work force is 1.65 million and it runs some 11,000 trains everyday, including 7,000 passenger trains. The lines traverse the vast country and carry over 25 million passengers  and 2.5 million tons of freight daily.  The network established in 1853 is certainly one of the most efficiently run organization, though passengers often complain of delay, improper maintenance and lack of customer service.  
The Rockfort Express (16178/16177) is one of the  the most popular night express trains and connects Trichy and Chennai Egmore in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and extends till Kumbakonam. The train numbered 16178 departs from Kumbakonam at 19:55 Hours and reaches Trichy at 21:55 Hours as a link Express. From Trichy it departs as an Express by 22:20 hours and reaches Chennai Egmore at 5:30 the next day. The parallel train numbered 16177 starts around 22:30 Hours from Chennai Egmore and reaches Trichy around 05:30 hours the next day.

The train derives its name from the famous 12th century fortress Rockfort temple in the heart of Tiruchirapally and originally ran between Chennai and Trichy in the chord line. 
Yesterday night there were very heavy rains in the peak of summer, coupled with gale winds which uprooted many posts and disrupted the service due to snapping of electrical lines.  This forced stoppage of many trains stranding thousands of passengers.  Many trains were diverted on alternate routes. 

The winds brought down many trees and electric poles – darkness descended in the neighbourhood of Trichy as electric current was disrupted.  The Lalgudi Kattur line was severely affected – due to this man trains were diverted through the Mayavaram (Mayiladuthurai) line and had to travel hundreds of extra kilometers.

The Rockfort Express was caught in the affected line and could not move.  The Railways were quick to react and arranged for a diesel Engine to be sent which reached the place and chugged the train towards its destination.  It was clearly a good, smartly orchestrated move by the Southern Railways.  The train which was to reach Villupuram around 2.23 am reached the place around 11 am in the morning.   Mangalore Express was late by 4 hours – trains departing from Chennai including Kanyakumari Express, Nellai Express, Muthunagar, Guruvayoor, Pothigai were all disrupted and were running late. 

Regards – S. Sampathkumar. 

Arunachal CM is safe (posted at 1515 hrs on 30th April 2011)

Have you heard of Dorjee Khandu ? 

Arunachala Pradesh – the North Eastern State of India borders the states of Assam, Nagaland and has international border with Burma, Bhutan and China.  The northern border reflects the controversial McMahon Line. Itanagar is the capital of the state. Arunachal Pradesh means "land of the dawn lit mountains” - in Sanskrit.

A chopper carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu was reported missing since 10 am today(30th Apr 2011).  The CM and four others were on board and after hours of anxiety, now there are reports that all of them are safe.   The Chief Minister was on his way from Tawang to Itanagar.   The chopper was a Eurocopter AS350-B3 and was only about four months old. It was to land at Itanagar at the Raj Bhavan helipad at 11:05 am, but reportedly had to make an emergency landing due to bad weather.  It had crossed Tezpur airfield and Misamari Air Force base at the last point of radio contact. It then crossed a mountain pass and thereafter, there was no contact between the chopper and the ATCs in Tezpur, Jorhat and Guwahati till about 2:30 pm.

There were conflicting reports as concern mounted as the fate of the CM remained uncertain for hours.  The CM has been accompanied by two of his personal aides in the chartered Pawan Hans helicopter and should have landed by 11.30  after the 200 km travel. 

Quoting the Home Secretary, search parties had left from Ita nagar by road to the probable site near Sela Pass. The Defence Ministry, Army and the Air Force had all been alerted.   There was bad weather and flights had difficulty in flying in Tawang area. Two Cheetah helicopters had been presssed into service from Tezpur in Assam for search and rescue operations.

According to reports, this is the third helicopter to get into trouble in the Northeast in the last fortnight.   Earlier on April 19  a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed in the mountains of Tawang, bordering Tibet, killing all 17 people on board. The helicopter crashed not far away from the helipad and the DGCA had found that proper fire-fighting facilities could have saved lives.  In the other incident, an army helicopter crashed near Gangtok killing four occupants on board.

The Nation has memories of   Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy better known as YSR a two time CM  of the state of Andhra Pradesh.  On Sept 2009, a helicopter carrying Reddy went missing in the Nallamala forest area in a mysterious way.  The next day  the wreckages of the copter were found  on top of Rudrakonda Hill, 40 nautical miles (74 km) from Kurnool.  All five occupants including the YSF were pronounced dead. 

Dorjee Khandu  is the leader of Indian National Congress and the current Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh. He became the sixth chief minister of the Indian state, replacing Gegong Apang on April 9, 2007. After the victory of his party in the Arunachal Pradesh legislative assembly elections, 2009 he again sworn in as the chief minister on 25 October 2009. He belongs to Monpa tribe. He is the son of late Leki Dorjee, and has four sons and two daughters.

Regards – Sampathkumar S

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Booking the refill for Indane Gas cylinder - do you know the new procedure !

Do you know who was the first chairman of Indian Oil ?  Our taste buds want quality good food served hot but many may not know the gas connection at home, how much does a cylinder cost  and how it gets refilled ???

Not many of today’s youngsters would know the ordeals that the earlier generation had in making the good ready.  Even in cities there were only stoves (kerosene stoves).  In villages, it was mostly by wood fired ovens.  Imagine the plight of those who had to stand near the hot oven for preparation of food.  Worst was the plight in lighting a stove again and again – there existed pump stoves and wick stoves.

A gas stove is common in most households [there are some who have only induction and electric ones besides the microwave ovens]  The gas stove uses LPG – liquefied petroleum gas, which is mostly a mixture of propane and butane.  Propane is a three-carbon alkane, normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid.  It may also contain small amounts of propylene and/or butylene. An odorant such as ethanethiol or thiophene is added so that people can easily smell the gas in case of a leak. 

The gas cylinders available for domestic use generally are of 14.2 kg capacity; 5 kg variant is also available in some places.  The commercial ones also come in 19 kgs and 47.5 kgs. The gas that we use at home LPG  has an explosive range of 1.8% to 9.5% volume of gas in air. This is considerably narrower than other common gaseous fuels. The auto-ignition temperature of LPG is around 410-580 deg. C and hence it will not ignite on its own at normal temperature. LPG has only a very faint smell, and consequently, it is necessary to add some odourant, so that any escaping gas can easily be detected.LPG is colourless both in liquid and vapour phase. During leakage the vapourisation of liquid cools the atmosphere and condenses the water vapour contained in them to form a whitish fog which may make it possible to see an escape of LPG.  LPG even though slightly toxic, is not poisonous in vapour phase, but can, however, suffocate when in large concentrations due to the fact that it displaces oxygen. In view of this the vapour posses mild anaesthetic properties.

Though there are Bharat Gas and others, Indane is perhaps the largest brand in India It is the product of Indian Oil Corporation, a State owned gas company headquartered in Mumbai.  It began operation sin 1964.   IndianOil began operation in 1964 as Indian Oil Company Ltd. The Indian Oil Corporation was formed in 1964, with the merger of Indian Refineries Ltd.

Depending on the usage in a household, the 14.2 kg cylinder might last for a month or less.  And getting a refill is sometimes a ordeal, especially for office goers.  The cylinder is often supplied by an Agency which acts as a retail outlet.  A telephone no. would exist but would be next to impossible to reach people on that line.  If you are lucky, the person may not answer and if by chance you get through, there is no guarantee that your cylinder has been booked as there would be no confirmation process. And days after, you might have to redo the entire process afresh.  A visit in person is often considered the right measure to book a cylinder.  There have been complaints of malpractices of cylinders booked in one name being to supplied to some others as also complaints of domestic cylinders being used for commercial purposes.

Often there would be crisis and delays in supply.  To tide over, the Companies introduced  ‘21 day waiting period’  for registering request for refill.  Now for the convenience of Indane LPG consumers, the Company has introduced IVRS [Interactive Voice Response System] which aims to benefit 18 lakh users in the city.   With the launch of this system, irrespective of your distributor or retail outlet, you need to call--    8124024365 for an LPG refill.

The IVRS would ask for selection of language (No 1 for Tamil and 2 for English); then idntify distributor by dialling the distributor’s phone number with STD code.

The system will identify and announce the distributor’s name and would ask you to confirm the same by pressing no.1.  Then you need to enter your consumer number [can you recall your consumer number without referring to any Xl sheet or a print out !]

Though some would have alphabets, there is provision for entering the numerical only.   The system would repeat the no. keyed in and you need to confirm by pressing no. 1.  Then press 1 for booking the refill.

At this stage, the systems seeks confirmation for storing the no. so that the booking can be done easier from the next time onwards.  There is also a provision for registering your mobile no. for refill and subsequent bookings can be made through SMS by texting ‘REFILL’ to the same no.  An SMS alert is also provided confirming the booking. 

A single refill costs around Rs.352.40 and depending on the floor of delivery, the agent might ask for Rs.380/- approx..  If you take delivery of the cylinder from the premises of the retailer, there is provision for a small rebate [which I read somewhere to be Rs.8/- ]  At Delhi, it is 345.34, Kolkata 365.10 and at Mumbai 348.45.

Feroze Gandhi [1912-1960] was the first chairman of Indian Oil Corporation Limited.  He published the National Herald and ‘the Nanjivan’ newspapers from Lucknow In 1942 he married Indira Priyadarshini [daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru], subsequently became a member of the Lok Sabha.  His father in law, Wife and son were Prime Ministers of India, is history. 

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

something on Coaching - meet the new Indian Coach : Duncan Fletcher

In olden days, only those who struggled in the classroom would go for private tuitions; for others the class room deliverance was quite enough to succeed.  With years, the concept changed – now a days, coaching is seen as an effective tool for optimizing efficiency.  One need to be a good coach – need not have the best of the abilities in the field and need not have succeeded at the top is another theory.

Partly true with India perhaps for the person with a century in his first and last tests and 22 in between – with career average closer to 54, most stylish player of his time – divided the team, the morale more than the performance reached its nadir – no prize for guessing who ?  -  it was  Gregory Stephen Chappell – born in 1948 and played for Australia, Queensland, Somerset and South Australia.   The mercurial batsman with 24 centuries in 87 tests was not a great hit amongst the cricketers……….

Yes a time immediately after the pinnacle of glory in WC, a new coach is bound to find it difficult in a country so vast as India but with a good enough system for identifying talent and some wisemen as selectors.  He could bank on the present prospects of IPL too in fishing for raw new talent, if required.    India has a chequered history of coaches -  they did not have a full time local coach for too long.  We have seen John Wright, Greg Chappel, Gary Kirsten and now Duncan Fletcher.  Without reading in between in 2003 when India reached the finals, it was John Wright, when we won in 2011, it was Gary and when we plummeted out of the cup in 2007, it was the mercurial Greg Chappel.  Now to read in between, India won the T20 WC in 2007 without a full-fledged coach.  The Team manager Lalchand Rajput doubled as a coach for a relatively young and new team under Dhoni.  Gary himself had a reasonable level of success for South Africa playing in 101 tests and 185 one dayers.  To his credit, it should be said that Kirsten did announce his plans to hang prior to WC stating that he wants to spend time with his two growing sons !

In the game of cricket, on the field, it is all split second decisions – you cannot rethink of your strategy, the book or the words of coach when the cherry is hurled at you @ closer to 100mph nor when the wily Murali or any other spinner bowls a doosra or a wrong one. It is more of eye sight and foot work.  There are some who deal big though they lack the latter.  The essential ingredient of success is performance though there is much hype when they overstate that some part of the match is already played much before the first ball is delivered.  Cricket strategists rely on empirical data and watch hours of footage deciding on strengths and weaknesses of players and plotting their downfall…

The mercurial candid clever Bishan Singh Bedi who could spin a web over the batsmen had a brief stint and was the first to don the full time coach of the Indian team.  That was in 1990 when it was close to a disaster which made him quip that he would dump the entire team in the sea.  We have seen some Indian coaches – one of the prime differentiators is that Indian coaches have been individuals who had tried to put this stamp of thinking whilst Westerners were strategists who would bring along a load of support staff from biomechanist, physio, motivators and mental tougheners.   The greatest motivator by performance – Kapil Dev Nikhanj struggled when he donned the cap of National Cricket coach in 1999 – alongside Sachin Tendulkar who also failed as a captain.   He walked over the other contender Krish Srikkanth  and fellow bowler Manoj Prabhakar tried to scandalize.  Rabindra Ramnarayan (none other than Robin Singh) born in Trinidad did improve the lot when he was the fielding coach.   The dour and doughty opener Anshuman Dattajirao Gaekwad  preceded and succeeded Kapil as Coach.

Now the Board has appointed Duncan Fletcher to replace Gary Kirsten. Duncan Fletcher was at the helm in June 1983 in Zimbabwe’s moment of glory when they ripped apart the mighty Aussies – he captained them, scored an unbeaten 69 and took 4 for 42 – that could not be the reason for the decision of the BCCI to appoint him as Indian coach.  He has had stints with  domestic teams  of SA, England.  After England’s debacle in 1999 WC, he replaced David Lloyd.  He was there on the side of Kiwis when they struggled in their recent tour to India in 2010 and was SA’s batting consultant in 2011 WC.  He was with Glamorgan when the county registered the first title in 28 years; his association with country cricket has been quite long.  After the Ashes triumph in 2005 , he was heaped with praises and touted as a great coach and two years later, England lost all their tests in Australia; he had some skirmishes with some famous English players is another story.   His style reportedly is more of business orientation with reports to Captain and a group of Senior players and keen on analysis.

Duncan Andrew Gwynne Fletcher  is going to have a two year contract.  He has played 6 one dayers, scored 191 with 71 as his highest and has never scored a century and has taken 7 wickets. When the minnows played Aussies at Trentbridge, Nottingham way back in 9th June 1983, they were real outsiders.  At one point half side was back with less than 100 on board but Fletcher’s innings saw them reach respectable 239/6.  Aussies initially coasted off to century  but eventually finished 13 runs short surprising all cricket followers.  Fletcher, Traicos, Dave Houghton, Pycrofts, Peter Rawson became known names.  For those with good memory, Indians were reeling at 17 for 5 at Turnbridgewells when Kapil made that historic 175.  Curiously, chasing 240 for a win, Aussies were not all out but finished at 226 for 7 in the allotted 60 overs.
Coming back to the appointment of Duncan Fletcher, here is some piece of Indian history on coaches. 
During 2005, Tom Moody, Mohinder Amarnath, Desmond Haynes were the names that went rounds but it was Greg Chappel.   But in June 2007, a seven-man committee listened to presentations from  Graham Ford.  To create the illusion of a contest for a job that had once interested so many, the board roped in Emburey, a man with no coaching credentials to speak of.  Both of them had flown in, in the same flight & Emburey returned empty handed. It was no secret that Ford was the players' choice, with the grapevine suggesting that the move for him had been initiated by Rahul Dravid, the Indian captain. After Greg Chappell's tenure, characterised by off-field controversy as much as anything on the field.  Ford - who has a reputation as a back-room facilitator rather than an outspoken disciplinarian - was seen as the perfect choice to heal the fissures within the Indian team.  There were reports that Dav Whatmore had already been offered the job. 

This man Ford, had nothing significant as a player having averaged a poor 13.5 in fist class.   He was an assistant to Bob Woolmer and was fired in the Hansiegate affair.  This man was offered the job but it ended up a fiasco because he denied the job expressing his desire to stay with Kent. Perhaps negotiated a better pay packet with the Indian Board offer.    Eventually, India toured England without a coach.  An  embarrassment that the BCCI brought upon itself – Viru was dropped for that tour.   Though he was behind the winning combination in T20 WC win 2007, Lalchand Rajput was axed for no reason.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The success story of ‘aavin’ and the recent fire at Sholinganallur.

There was a fire accident which is threatening to affect the regular flow of milk to Chennai residents. 

Here is something on the fire accident as also some reminiscence of the past.  :  Those who are 40+ would remember the olden days and scramble for milk in the morning.  In the mid 1970s was the paradigm shift in the city of Chennai to pasteurized milk.  Prior to that the localities depended entirely on the neighbourhood cowherds for milk.  They use to buy cow’s milk as also buffalo milk for different needs.  The milkman would come in front of the house, have a customary check of the utensil before they touch the udder and then milch the cattle in your presence – still people used to complain of the milk being very much watery.

Then slowly people shifted to pasteurized milk supplied by the Govt. which was a very big hit those days.  The process (not of manufacture) but of getting it home was arduous.  The milk van would come early in the morning, the attendant at the booth would unload and nap for a few more minutes. Around 0500 am, there would a big queue lined before each booth.  Each had to carry either the empty bottle as replacement for the milk in bottle or carry a utensil, into which the milk from the bottle would be poured.  Here also people complained that the booth attendant would not pour the milk in its entirety but keep some quantity back, which would then collected and made in to more bottles – small drops of milk make more bottles !!  It was very fragile, the milk crate would contain 20 bottles and crates would often be handled roughly resulting in breakages – besides there was always the lurking fear of the bottles being dropped on way to home.  There were specially made iron carriers which would house 3 / 4/ more bottles – contraptions making lives easier.  Almost every street had a booth.  The empty van (mt) would come around 0800 am to collect the empty bottles and the crates would whizz past – being thrown with specialized skill into the lorry.  The process would repeat itself again the afternoon – supply at 0300 pm and collection at around 0400 pm.

On days, when the carrying van had a breakdown or delay to any other reason, which were not so frequent, residents would exhibit their impatience cursing everything as they could not have their morning coffee in time.  Those were the times, when a refrigerator was a great luxury to be had in less than a dozen houses in the entire locality. Moreover the milk was scarce and not easily available.  One has to use some influence and extra money in procuring a monthly card.  For those foreign readers, the drink that is brewed from roasted seeds of coffee beans enthuses the entire south Indian community and generally their days begin with a big tumbler of freshly filtered coffee and perhaps English daily.

It took them a great change of mind to shift from the milk (where they could see the cattle) to getting the milk in bottles, being prepared elsewhere.  There were always doubts in people’s mind.  There was that ubiquitous glass bottle with aluminum flap, which was gathered at households and sent to waste dealer making some money.

The debate on the benefits of cow’s milk vs buffaloes one was eternal though the former was most preferred in households having children.  Buffalo milk was commercially cheaper and more bought.   Those were the days when there were hundreds of cows and ten times their no. of buffaloes in Triplicane with a similar story in all other localities of the city of Singara Chennai.

That paradigm shift was ignited by the Operation Flood – a rural development programme of National Dairy Development Board – one of the largest of its kind with objective of creating a nationwide milk grid.  It resulted in making India the largest producer of milk and milk products, and hence is also called the White Revolution of India. It also helped reduce malpractices by milk traders and merchants. This revolution followed the Indian Green Revolution and helped in alleviating poverty and famine levels from their dangerous proportions in India during the era.  Dr. Verghese Kurien was the Chairman of  Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd.(GCMMF) and was  recognised as the man behind the success of the Amul brand and  the architect of  Operation Flood.

Elsewhere on the globe – in Persia to be precise, the White revolution would mean different.  It was a series of reforms in Iran launched in 1963 by the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi  built especially to strengthen those classes that supported the traditional system.  People said that it  was a way for him to legitimize the Pahlavi dynasty. Part of the reason for launching the White Revolution was that the Shah hoped to get rid of the landlords' influence and create a new base of support among the peasants and working class.  In order to legitimize the White Revolution, the Shah called for a national referendum in early 1963  is another story which has no relevance to the present topic.

The Dairy Development Department was established in 1958 in Tamilnadu. With the adoption of 'Anand pattern' in the State of Tamilnadu, Tamilnadu Co-operative Milk Producers' Federation Limited was registered in the State on 1st February 1981. The commercial activities of the Department such as Milk Procurement, Processing, Chilling, packing and sale of milk to the consumers etc., hitherto dealt with by the Tamilnadu Dairy Development Corporation Ltd., were transferred to the newly registered Tamilnadu Co-operative Milk Producers' Federation Limited.  Aavin  is the trademark of the Tamilnadu Co-operative Milk Producers' Federation Limited, a Tamil Nadu-based milk producer's union. The objectives were to assure a remunerative price for the milk producing members, distribution of quality milk and milk products at a reasonable price.

Aavin  became quite a hit with a neat infrastructure with chilling centres, pasteurization plants and modern processing system. This decade saw many private milk companies mushrooming and giving Aavin a run for its money.   Aavin has four dairy plants located at  Ambattur, Madhavaram, Sholinganallur and        Ambattur.   The last one is a Product diary which  is also engaged in the manufacture of milk products such as Yogurt, Ice Cream, Khova, Gulabjamoon, Buttermilk, Curd and Mysorepak.

Sholinganallur  is a suburb in the Old Mahabalipuram road, now famous as the IT corridor of south Chennai.  Several tonnes of milk powder were destroyed in a major blaze that engulfed the state-run Aavin dairy godown at Sholinganallur on Thursday (21st April 2011).  The loss is reported to be the tune of 2.5 crore and the sabotage angle is also being probed.

This plant at Rajiv Gandhi salai alone was supplying 3.5 lakh litres of milk to the areas in South Chennai.  Fresh milk brought to the dairy is usually ‘reconstituted’ by adding milk powder and butter to produce four categories of products, including high fat and skimmed milk.  According to an official, the  milk powder packed in polyethylene and paper bags, were brought in from Erode, Salem and other districts and stored at the godown.  In the early morning, some employees noticed flames coming out of the godown.  The blaze spread rapidly and engulfed the entire building and took more than 5 hours for the firemen in large numbers, 5 fire tenders, 15 water lorries to contain.  The fire had been categorized as ‘class A’ and the polyethylene wrappers reportedly were the main reason for the high intensity of the fire.  Luckily, the fire was controlled before it could spread to the adjacent ammonia plant and generator room, where diesel was stored.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

When the wind blows – Gayle power pummels KKR

A gale is a very strong wind.   The Beaufort Scale would put it at 62 – 74 kmph per hour.  Forecasters typically issue gale warnings when winds of this strength are expected.  When such a wind blows, lot of things would be blown away as it happened yesterday.

In the first ever T20 match between West Indies and Pakistan played at Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia (T20 No. 199) the home team beat Pakistan by seven runs and started their campaign in a good manner.   Lendl Simmons made an impressive 65 whilst the leggie Devendra Bishoo took four wickets.  There were five debutants as the coach Ottis Gibson was desperate to have a win.  That news was dwarfed in the cricketing circles by another famous West Indian who was making waves far away from the home land.

Have you read the story of Separmadu.  Unlikely !!  - it is Separmadu Lasith Malinga, the slinger.  He gave up Test cricket due to long standing degenerative condition in right knee.  He is only 27 and announced himself unavailable for the upcoming test tour of England.  The Lankan Board and the Chairman of selectors Duleep Mendis were fuming stating that it is awkward when someone is injured but plays elsewhere. 

That is stating the obvious – the lure of IPL is more that players tend to stay away from National duties – Tait announced retirement from ODI, perhaps Gilchrist’s was timed prematurely to ensure a place IPL.  Curious is the case of Chris Gayle.   He went unauctioned as no franchisee raised theirs when he was on call.  But recently he was taken by Royal Challengers Bangalore as a replacement for injured Dirk Nannes – a batter for a good left arm pacer – illogical one would feel. 

Back home, the decision angered the  West Indies Cricket Board, which said it granted Gayle a no-objection certificate only after he had made himself unavailable for national selection and flown to India. That announces that he is not playing for the Nation against Pak in the Tests and ODIs and ofcourse in the only T20.   WICB  was aghast as Gayle was on a rehabilitation programme !  Chris Gayle on his part justified stating that  the way he had been treated by the West Indies board (WICB) had left him with little choice but to join the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad for the 2011 IPL and miss the home series against Pakistan. Gayle was particularly severe on coach Ottis Gibson blaming him for wrecking the confidence of the team. 
In one match, Gayle not only ensured victory of RCB over his ex-team KKR but threatened to write the script of big hitting totally differently.  Presently, Ravindra Jadeja leads the list with 11 over the ropes.  But that was in 5 matches.  He is followed by the new sensation Valthaty with 10 in 4.  De Villiers & Mccullum have 8 in 5; next comes Gayle with 7 in a single matches with the longest ones to his credit now.  Y Venugopala Rao, the unlikely in that elite group  has 7 in 4 and Manoj Tiwary has 7 in 6. 

KKR were fancying their chances setting a target of 172, which proved nothing for the Gayle onslaught.  His century came off and is the second fastest in this edition.  At one stage, Gayle had 3 singles as against Dilshan’s 19 but in the end had 10 to the fence and 7 over it.  At one point he was hitting everything and Gambhir had no answer.  Poor Manoj Tiwary who would fancy himself as a bowler saw first of two deliveries flying nonchalantly over the ropes and disappearing in to the stands.  Gayle’s jersey had 333 – his highest test score and only one who threatened to prevent his century was his partner Virat Kohli.  After his arrival, Gayle got little of the strike and at 98 RCB were six away from victory.  Virat launched on to a ball from Iqbal Abdulla for a four  and played some tantrums apologizing for that stroke.  Then when the bowler sent one wide down the leg side, it was almost all over.  Gambhir did not instruct a Randiv and gracefully offered Gayle the majestic ton that he so well deserved.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do you follow Cricket this way : Demystifying IPL – the format and the matches thus far……

The 2011 version of Indian Premier League – IPL 4 is underway and has generated much interest. As on date only little over 30% of the matches are over – there are some facts which would have escaped your attention.    In this lengthy format stretching from April 8th to May 28th  - there are to be 74 matches.  Your arithmetic would defy you – if you are to calculate matches based on the fact that there are 10 teams and that the preliminary round is on league basis. 

If 10 teams are to play each other once, it would be 45 matches and when twice, it would be 90 matches – but how 74 now.

It actually is 70 matches preliminary + 4 in the next round.  As you would know, there are 10 teams which are into two groups of five.  Each team plays the others in the group twice and the team that is in their row also twice – with the rest of the teams in the other group, they would play once.  Here is the grouping :-
Group A
Group B

Deccan Chargers
Kolkata Knight Riders
Delhi Daredevils
Kochi  Tuskers Kerala
Kings XI Punjab
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Mumbai Indians
Rajastan Royals
Pune Warriors
Chennai Super Kings

Thus, KKR would play  Kochi, RCB, RR, CSK and DC twice and play DD, KXIP, MI and Pune Warriors once.  14 matches for each team and there would a total of 70 matches in the preliminary.

Then the Next round is no “Round 6 or Round 8” or not even “the Semi finals”.  We are used to ‘knock-out stage’.  Infact Wimbledon is a classic example.  Typically it is 128 players – the 1st round is QF and it starts with 128 (64-32-16-8-4-2-1). 

Almost all tournaments including cricket World Cup have knock-out rounds.  Perhaps with the need to pick up the top 3 teams which will qualify for Champion League, this version has a skewed format. 

From the initial 70 matches, the top 4 teams would qualify to the next stage.  Here comes the difference :

1)    Qualifier 1 Vs 2 :  the Winner goes to the Finals; the loser is not knocked out but gets another chance
2)    Eliminator  :  the Q 3 and Q 4 play each other – the loser is out of the tourney and the winner gets the next match
3)    Q 2 :  the loser of Qualifier and the winner of Eliminator play to get a chance to challenge the winner of Q 1

The winner of Q1 & Q 2 play a single-match final.

To decide the top 4 – the team with the  highest number of points shall be at the top of the table and the Team with the lowest shall be at the bottom.

-  where  Teams have an equal number of points their relative positions shall be determined by the following:
ü       The  Team with the most wins in Matches in the League during the Season will be placed in the higher position;
ü        If there  are Teams with equal points and equal wins during the Season, then in such case the Team with the higher net run rate  will be placed in the higher position;
ü        If after the above, teams are equal, then the Team with the higher number of wickets taken per balls bowled in the Matches played that Season in which results were achieved will be placed in the higher position;
ü        If still equal  at the end of the regular Season then the Team position will be determined by drawing lots.

At this stage : KKR, RR, Kochi, DC & RCB have played 5 matches, whilst the rest are one short.  The Orange cap for the Most runs scored is in the hands of Sachin Tendulkar (236) followed by Paul Valthaty (201).  Among the top 15 there are 10 Indians – Sachin,  Valthaty,  Ambati Rayudu,  Gambhir, Virat, Ravindra Jadeja, Venugopala rao, Murali Vijay, Bharat Chipli and Manoj Tiwari.  Quite surprisingly in a league dominated by some Internationally reputed big  hitters – the leader is R Jadeja with 11.  Valthaty, Tiwari  & Venugopala have 7 sixers.

The purple cap for most wickets taken is worn by Lasith Malinga with 11.  Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan both of KKR follow him with 7.    Amit Mishra, Iqbal Abdulla, Siddarth Trivedi, Valthaty and Shrikant Wagh (who ?) also figure in the top 10 leading wicket takers. 

After 22 matches of the 70, KKR lead the pack with 3 wins in 5 with NRR of +0.629 followed by MI, Kochi and RR.   IPL is 4 year old and Yusuf is the second player to have 25 wickets + 1000 runs – the first being Jacuqes Kallis.   The first timer Kochi have 3 consecutive wins from their 5.  Manoj Tiwary has the dubious distinction of the most no. of dot balls in a match – 24. 

So that is IPL for you friends, hope you enjoyed it.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar. 

Middle class dream of house property - the loan and the ever increasing ROI

Do you have a housing loan (floating !) – did you care to  notice the hike in the rate of interest.  What does this mean to you ??

For most people, buying a home would remain the most decisive and the moment one dreamt off for long.  Decades back, there was a Balu Mahendra film titled ‘veedu’ starring Archana which was all about the middle class person dreaming to buy a house of their own.  There have been regular comedies based on the theme of ‘middle income persons’. The S Ve Shekar / Prasanna / Crazy comedy ‘crazy thieves in palavakkam’ was all about a person buying a house in the outskirts of the city and ending up facing a group who kidnap a boy and take shelter at that forsaken place.  It is another fact that the same location thence mentioned as forlorn has risen magically.

Certainly this is no write-up on whether to invest in a house or how to fund the same.  Many of us have bought houses / property availing loan from a bank or any other financial institution.  People used to check the credentials and ended up burning their mid-night oil.  To me, it was simple – you are the recipient and you need not worry too much on which institution is funding – simply within all para meters of legality, you should be taking from the one who lends cheapest i.e., one who charges the least rate of interest.  Of course there could always be strings attached.

There primarily exists two ways : Fixed – where the rate of interest is fixed over the no. of years that you have agreed to repay. There would be no surprises.  The other alternative is the ‘fly-trap’ – floating ROI.  Sometimes, you may not have options as some now a days have only floating.  It is otherwise called adjustable, variable or flexible interest rate loan.  Whatever be the terminology, here the interest rate on your loan will keep changing depending on how the rate in the economy is moving.  

In this, the Home finance company will decide upon a base rate known as floating reference rate.  This is generally based on their internal base rate called the Retail prime lending rate.  The interest rate that you are fleeced will be benchmarked against this internal base rate.  

The home finance company will decide upon a base rate -- known as the floating reference rate. This is generally based on their internal base rate (which every finance company has) called the retail prime lending rate. The interest rate on your loan will be benchmarked against this internal base rate.  Some of the financial institutions have their own standards on how often the interest rate would be changed.  It could be year, 6 months, quarter or even less !  The more frequent a change, the closer it reflects the economy.  

You certainly know but would still not know it fully – there are two essential components of repayment :  “The tenure and the EMI” .  When the base rate increases, the interest that you pay on your loan gets revised and this would result in either ‘increase in EMI’ – where you would feel the pinch instantaneously if you are running on a budget.  Otherwise, your tenure would increase and you would end up remaining a debtor for more no. of months, if not years – this some of us fail to notice.  Think immediately and tell whether you know the final month on which your loan would get extinguished … unlikely that you remember.  
Recently, the Reserve Bank of India has increased the rate of interest as also the short-term lending rate & short-term borrowing rate.  The Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) remains unchanged as of now  @ 6% - it is the amount banks are required to keep with RBI in cash.  In order to tackle inflation, the increase in interest rates have been occurring quite frequently in recent times.  

Whatever be the option of repayment : fixed / variable – you would be repaying in Equated Monthly Instalments (EMI) which is a calculated schedule where you spread your payments over multiple periods.  In this process of repayment of debt known as ‘amortization’ a portion of each payment is for interest and rest is towards balance.  By this, one would be paying the same amount every month – the catch is at the earlier stages it is more of interest and when you go for a pre-closure you would notice that the principal has not diminished much.

So do check with your financial institution on : the rate of interest that you are charged, the EMI, the balance tenure and the last month of repayment.  Most likely that the ROI would have increased and either your EMI or the tenure has gone up.  In such a situation, do check whether your financial institution has any plan whereby they take care of the spread meaning – they reduce the ROI to you as a special customer on payment of some charges…………….

Regards – S. Sampthkumar.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PSLV C6 successfully launched a few minutes ago - Happy moment for Indians

Dear (s)

PSLV C 6 was successfully launched from Sriharikota today @ 10.12 am.

As one kept searching for the news of success, probably the first to flash the news was Dinamalar (a leading tamil daily)

Here are some excerpts from

A proud moment indeed for all INDIANS

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

இந்திய விண்வெளி ஆராய்ச்சிக் கழகத்தின் தயாரிப்பில் உருவான, பதினெட்டாவது பி.எஸ். எல்.வி., ராக்கெட், வெற்றிகரமாக விண்ணில் சீறிப் பாய்ந்தது. ஆந்திர மாநிலம், ஸ்ரீஹரிகோட்டா, சதீஷ் தவான் விண்வெளி மையத்தின் முதலாம் ஏவுதளத்தில் இருந்து, இன்று காலை, 10:12க்கு, பி.எஸ்.எல்.வி -சி16 ராக்கெட் விண்ணில் செலுத்தப்பட்டது.

முந்தைய ராக்கெட்டுகளை விட, மேம்படுத்தப்பட்ட தொழில்நுட்பம் இதில் பயன்படுத்தப்பட்டுள்ளதாக , "இஸ்ரோ' தெரிவித்துள்ளது. இதற்கான, ஐம்பத்து நான்கரை மணி நேர கவுன்ட் டவுண், 18ம் தேதி அதிகாலை 3.42 மணிக்கு துவங்கியது.

பி.எஸ்.எல்.வி., சி16 சிறப்பு : இன்று செலுத்தப்பட்ட பி.எஸ். எல்.வி., ராக்கெட், முந்தைய இதே வரிசை ராக்கெட்களில் இருந்து, பல்வேறு வகையில் மேம்படுத்தப்பட்ட தொழில்நுட்பத்துடன் உருவாக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது . பி.எஸ்.எல்.வி., ராக்கெட்டில் இதுவரை 25 வெளிநாட்டு செயற்கைக்கோள்களும், 19 உள்நாட்டு செயற்கைக்கோள்களும் அனுப்பப்பட்டுள்ளன. இதில், சந்திரனை ஆய்வு செய்ய அனுப்பப்பட்ட சந்திரயான் - 1 செயற்கைக்கோள் குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது. இன்று விண்ணில் செலுத்தப்பட்ட பி.எஸ்.எல்.வி., ராக்கெட்டில், இந்திய தயாரிப்பில் உருவான 1,206 கிலோ எடை கொண்ட, "ரிசோர்ஸ்சாட்-2' என்ற தொலை உணர்வு செயற்கைக்கோள் அனுப்பப்படுள்ளது. இதன் மூலம், இயற்கை வளம் குறித்து அதிகம் அறிய முடியும். மேலும் சுற்றுச்சூழல் குறித்தும், இயற்கை பேரழிவுகள் தொடர்பாகவும், ஆராய முடியும். இத்துடன் 92 கிலோ எடை கொண்ட, இந்திய - ரஷ்ய கூட்டு தயாரிப்பில் உருவான, "யூத்சாட்' என்ற, சிறிய ரக செயற்கைக்கோளும், சிங்கப்பூரில் உருவான 106 கிலோ எடை கொண்ட, "எக்ஸ்- சாட்' என்ற சிறிய ரக செயற்கைக்கோளும் விண்ணில் செலுத்தப்பட்டன. இதில், யூத்சாட் செயற்கைக்கோள் கல்லூரி மாணவர்களுக்கு உதவும் வகையில், வான்வெளிக்கும், பூமி மண்டலத்திற்கும் உள்ள தொடர்பை ஆராயும் வகையில், நவீன தொழில் நுட்பத்துடன் உருவாக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.