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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

'Telengana' ~ to be the new State; Hyderabad could become new Union Territory

The river originates in Anantagiri Hills near Vikarabad, Ranga Reddy district, and flows due east for almost all of its course. It joins the Krishna River at Pangal in Nalgonda district after covering a total distance of about 240 km ~ the city on its banks is in news now… !!

He is a constitutional authority and yet in the past parties have vehemently queried whether such a post is required at all ?  ~ some parties have expressed that in the interest of smooth Centre-State relations and in a truly federal structure it is desirable that a Chief Minister be consulted on the appointment of a Governor. Article 157 and Article 158 of the Constitution of India specify eligibility requirements for the post of governor.  A governor must be a citizen of India; be at least thirty-five years old; not be a member of the either house of the parliament or house of the state legislature; not hold any other office of profit.

Sure would have heard of this ‘lieutenant governor’ – especially when there is reference to a Union Territory like Pondicherry. Lieutenant-governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction, but is often the deputy or lieutenant to or ranking under a governor — a "second-in-command". In many Commonwealth of Nations states, a lieutenant governor is the representative of the monarch and act as the nominal chief executive officer of the state, province or territory they received appointment, although by convention the lieutenant governor delegates actual executive power to the premier of a province.

The governors and lieutenant-governors of the states and territories of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as that of the President of India at Union level. Governors exist in the states while lieutenant-governors exist in union territories and in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies in the hand of the Chief ministers of the states and the chief minister's Council of Ministers.
In India, a lieutenant governor is in charge of a Union Territory. However the rank is present only in the union territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Delhi and Puducherry (the other territories have an administrator appointed, who is an IAS officer). Lieutenant-governors hold the same rank as a governor of a state in the list of precedence. The governors and lieutenant-governors are appointed by the president for a term of 5 years.

A Union Territory is an administrative division in the Republic of India. Theoretically, Union Territories are ruled directly by Union Govt – though it is modified in case of Pondicherry, Delhi as they have their own elected legislative council of ministers. The seven Union Territories are : Andaman & Nicobar islands; Chandigarh; Dadra & Nagar Haveli; Lakshadweep; Puducherry [Pondy]; Delhi.  Union territories of India have special rights and status due to their constitutional formation and development.

You are about to watch the birth of another Union Territory much as a compromise rather than by any choice or fore-though. It is that city on the banks of Musi river [earlier known as Muchkunda river] which originates in Anantagiri Hills near Vikarabad, Ranga Reddy district, 90 kilometers to the west of Hyderabad and flows due east for almost all of its course. It joins the Krishna River at Pangal in Nalgonda district after covering a total distance of about 240 km.  The Muchkunda i.e.Musi River is a tributary of Krishna River in the Deccan Plateau region of Andhra Pradesh state in India

There are reports that Hyderabad is likely to be a Union territory for five years and will act as joint capital of the two states to be created out of the bifurcation of the present Andhra Pradesh. News suggest that this new  Union territory will be administered by a lieutenant governor. The governor of the Telangana state will be the ex-officio lieutenant governor of Hyderabad in these five years. A proposal to this effect is going to be put up to the Union cabinet before August 5. The cabinet will meet after the Congress working committee and the UPA steering group approves a proposal to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.

There is  still no official word on whether the newly created State would be :  Telangana or a Rayala-Telangana state. The former will consist of the ten districts of Telangana and the latter proposal envisages the addition of two Rayalaseema districts — Anantapur and Kurnool to the proposed Telangana state. Interestingly, the Andhra part of the bifurcated state will be called Andhra Pradesh.  TOI states that Congress party bosses are hopeful of completing this process within a week because Parliament convenes for the monsoon session on August 6. A bill might be presented in this session itself. Meanwhile, with Kiran Kumar Reddy having already resigned, a new chief minister for integrated Andhra Pradesh to oversee the process of bifurcation will be appointed. In all likelihood the new incumbent will belong to Telangana. However with intelligence reports suggesting that there will be major trouble in the Seemandhra region [a term connoting Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra] in the wake of the announcement, it seems inevitable that President's rule will be clamped in the state till the process of bifurcation is complete. Much of the trouble is expected to be fomented by interested parties although spontaneous outpourings are not unexpected. Seemandhra ministers including Union ministers who met Prime Minister on Saturday to convey their opposition to the bifurcation seemed crestfallen with Manmohan Singh hearing them out and promising nothing.

So in the formation of a new State – Telengana, there is going to be another Union TerritoryHyderabad’ as well..

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th July 2013.

Remembering the power outage last year and Minister gaffes....

Politicians – their gaffe – speaking without knowing the subject and their intemperate remarks – all nothing to new Indian politics – yet Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh stoked a fresh controversy in Madhya Pradesh, calling fellow MP Ms. Meenakshi Natarajan a ‘100% tunch maal’. The words translated in Bhojpuri mean, "desireable" or sexy woman".  According to Zee, while addressing a gathering in Mandsaur, Digvijay Singh said, “She is your Member of Parliament. She is a Gandhian, she is simple and honest...she goes to everybody, from village to village. I have 40-42 years of experience (in politics) and I am an old connoisseur...politicians come to understand things even with little hint as to who is genuine and who is a fraud. She is 100% tunch maal and fights for the poor.” …….. that died down …..

Last year he was the Power Minister and in response to criticism, Sushil Kumar Shinde observed that India was not alone in suffering major power outages, as blackouts had also occurred in the United States and Brazil within the previous few years. The event was described in Washington Post  as a big  failure as adding urgency to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's plan for a US$400 billion overhaul of India's power grid.

Before that why the Nation is not appreciating BCCI for its speed and efficiency ~ the two-member panel that investigated the allegations of betting and spot-fixing against Raj Kundra and Chennai Super Kings turned out to be much faster than the Mumbai and Delhi Police. The report was signed, sealed and delivered to BCCI  disciplinary committee even before the Delhi police could file a chargesheet. In a country where legal proceedings and disputes can drag out for years – this sort of urgency is commendable.
That is the  in-house exoneration  formula and now ‘all is well’ in cash rich BCCI.  – wrongly the Mumbai Police had arrested Gurunath Meiyappan; stranger still is the demand that Mumbai Police send an officer to depose before the BCCI. As BCCI has done the house cleaning there is no further need for any police action at all….  Indian cricket fans  are buoyed by the recent wins in Tri Series, Champions Trophy and the Series win at Zimbabwe

Last year on this day – 30th July there was the ‘black out’ -  the largest power outage in history, occurring as two separate events on 30 and 31 July 2012. The outage affected over 620 million people, about 9% of the world population, or half of India's population, spread across 22 states in Northern, Eastern, and Northeast India. An estimated 32 gigawatts of generating capacity was taken offline in the outage.An article in The Wall Street Journal stated that of the affected population, 320 million initially had power, while the rest of the affected population lacked direct access. Electrical power was restored in the affected locations between 31 July and 1 August 2012.

With the collapse of the Northern power grid, more than 300 million people, about 25% of India's population, were without power. Railways and some airports were shut down until 08:00. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), not normally mandated to investigate blackouts, began to do so because of the threat to basic infrastructure facilities like railways, metro rail system, lifts in multi-storey buildings, and movement of vehicular traffic. On the day of the collapse, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde ordered a three-member panel to determine the reason for the failure and report on it in fifteen days.  On a different note, Team Anna, the supporters of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare, charged that this grid failure was a conspiracy to suppress the indefinite fast movement started on 25 July 2012 for the Jan Lokpal Bill and targeting Sharad Pawar.  

~ another Union Minister exhibited his power of the art of magical thinking, stating that  he’s sceptical the Indian Mujahideen exists, because “nobody knows what it is, where it was formed, and who runs it”. “only a short while ago, we heard that it was the creation as aftermath of Guj riots…. There has been a spate of killing of Hindu National outfit leaders in Tamilnadu ~ which group did is not of primary concern – finding out the culprits and preventing recurrence is……

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Sunday, July 28, 2013

match-fixing ! suspicion in Pak V WI - India beats Zimbabwe

The International Cricket calendar is most active – India is playing Zimbabwe; Pak is in West Indies; Australia is getting drubbed in England ~ South Africa is finding it too difficult in Srilanka……….. but when there is so much of game, off-field activity is garnering more news as there is fresh spectre of corruption with the recent one-day international series between the West Indies and Pakistan set to be investigated over allegations of wrongdoing.  Daily Mail and many others reported that suspicious betting patterns were identified during the low-profile five-match series, which concluded on Thursday, while unusually slow run-rates during certain overs followed by bursts of high scoring have ‘set alarm bells ringing’, according to industry experts. Concerns have been raised, in particular, around the tied third match of the series played in St Lucia a week ago on Friday, as well as the final game, which resulted in a last-ball win for Pakistan on Thursday. The second ODI, which saw Pakistan fail to score a run off the bat in the first five overs after being set 233 to win, is also being looked into. One betting website reported unusually large sums of money — said to run into several millions of pounds — being wagered between innings on a tied result during the third ODI after the West Indies were set 230 to win from 50 overs. Field placings for the final over, when No 11 Jason Holder and fellow tail-ender Kemar Roach crashed 14 off six balls from Wahab Riaz, will be scrutinised by officers of the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), along with a failed run-out bid off the last delivery.

So at this juncture, if it is a close match, suspicions will be rung………. Not at Harare though as India sauntered to an easy win.  After restricting Zimbabwe to 183 with Amit Mishra taking 4 for 47; India reached home with loss of 3 wickets.  Teams winning the toss have enjoyed a huge advantage in this series, and today was no different as Virat Kohli called correctly and watched his bowlers wipe out Zimbabwe for 183. A quick end to the Zimbabwe innings seemed imminent but the bottom three weren't about to throw their wickets away.

This is how Cricinfo describes the chase : “Faced with a small target and a placid pitch, India weren't too troubled during the chase, and there were never any doubts over which side was heading for victory. Rohit Sharma played a few eye-catching strokes before falling cheaply for the third time in the series.”  Can you imagine how much he made in that innings studded with eye-catching strokes ?

The PCB has expressed concern over allegations of fixing raised in the media with regard to the recently concluded West Indies-Pakistan ODI series. "The PCB is obviously extremely concerned at the recent allegations of fixing reported in the media with regard to recently concluded ODI series between Pakistan and West Indies," the official  is quoted as saying.  They can learn from their neighbours………….. there have been match fixing allegations in BPL as also IPL…..

Back home in India, a two-member panel has found "no evidence of any wrongdoing" against Raj Kundra, co-owner of Rajasthan Royals, the Rajasthan Royals franchise, and India Cements, the owner of Chennai Super Kings. The panel, comprising former high-court judges, was formed to look into the involvement of the owners of two IPL franchises in corruption during the tournament. The BCCI working committee met in Kolkata on Sunday and Niranjan Shah, a BCCI vice-president, said that the report submitted by the two retired judges, T Jayaram Chouta and R Balasubramanian, will now be forwarded to the IPL governing council. The investigation into Gurunath Meiyappan, a top Super Kings official and BCCI president N Srinivasan's son-in-law, India Cements, Kundra and Rajasthan Royals' owner Jaipur IPL Pvt Ltd was sanctioned after Meiyappan was arrested by Mumbai Police and Kundra reportedly confessed to betting in IPL matches. So, now the path is cleared for Mr Srinivasan to assume office back again.

Now getting back to Indian Cricket, Rohit Sharma made 14 off 21 balls and how many eye-catching strokes could he have played ……… … somehow the media, commentators and … are heaping praises calling him great talent;  It would ever remain a mystery as to how he played against England at home after scoring – 5,0,0,4,4 at Srilanka and 4 against Pak at Chennai.. 17 in 6 innings and still he got a chance.  From 2012 on, he has played slightly less than 30 matches aggregating 684 runs at an average of 25 approx and yet he is chosen over Ajinkya Rahana who made so many runs in England when everyone else failed and immensely talented Cheteshwar Pujara… Murali Vijay who is dubbed a failure did not play a single ODI in 2012 ~ this year he made 30 and 27 in 2 matches at WI Tri nation series..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th July 2013. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

CBDT - filing of Income tax returns - need for e-filing.... !

Some say that ‘tax and death’ are inevitable…. As a good and responsible citizen, it is our bounden duty to pay our taxes promptly….there are direct and indirect taxes and for those of us – whose life entirely dwells on going to work, looking eagerly for the salary day, overspending whatever is earned – in the month of March struggle for making tax savings and come July, file our tax returns without fail….

The Central Government has been empowered by Entry 82 of the Union List of Schedule VII of the Constitution of India to levy tax on all income other than agricultural income. The Income Tax Law comprises The Income Tax Act 1961, Income Tax Rules 1962, Notifications and Circulars issued by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Annual Finance Acts and Judicial pronouncements by Supreme Court and High Courts. The Government of India imposes an income tax on taxable income of all persons including individuals, Hindu Undivided Families (HUFs), companies, firms, association of persons, body of individuals, local authority and any other artificial judicial person.  The CBDT is a part of Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance. On one hand, CBDT provides essential inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India,at the same time it is also responsible for administration of direct tax laws through the Income Tax Department.

Sure you have received the form 16 – the essential document issued by Employer detailing salary, tax incidence and the amount of tax deducted from your salary at source.  There can be two categories – those whose assessable income is less than 5 lakhs and above 5 lakhs.  The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) earlier in May this year made the E-filing of income tax return compulsory. The rule is applicable starting the assessment year 2013-14 for persons having total assessable income exceeding Rs.5 lakh. More importantly, unlike the past two years, salaried persons earning up to Rs.5 lakh annually will have to file income tax returns, CBDT said.

The CBDT had exempted salaried employees having total income of upto Rs.5 lakh including income from other sources upto Rs.10,000 from the requirement of filing income tax return for assessment year 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively. "The exemption was available only for the assessment years 2011-12 and 2012-13...the exemption provided during the last two years is not being extended for assessment year 2013-14," the CBDT said in a statement.

To put it simply – every one with assessable income taxable will have to file their return …….. for those with income above Rs.5 lakhs, e-filing is mandatory.  It is not too cumbersome; for filing returns, an assessee can transmit the data in the return electronically by downloading ITRs, or by online filing ~ and it does not stop there.  After filing electronically, the assessee should  submit the verification of the return from ITR-V for acknowledgement after signature to Central Processing Centre.

In the past, the special counters operated from IT Offices in Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi…. But don’t leave it until the proverbial 11th hour and rush for paying it on the last day.   Some basic steps to be remembered are :

          Do not use your Office e-mail address on ITR from, preferable to have your personal ID for reference
          Never hide any income – pay tax at your slab for all that you receive from various sources [if any]
          Make sure that you mention the income arising out of sale of house property; rent received; interest earned etc.,
          Collect all the relevant documents from the  financial institutions where you have taken loan / placed deposit etc.,

When you file your returns electronically, you would immediately get a confirmatory mail from the Income Tax department at your registered mail id.  You are required to verify, print and sign the acknowledgement [ITR-V] and send it by Ordinary Post Or Speed Post  Only within a period of 120 days from the date of transmitting the data electronically, to the address as mentioned below.  The Dept will not accept ITR-V sent by Registered Post or Courier. Further,  ITR-V will not be received in any other office of the Income-tax Department or in any other manner. The address to which the acknowledgement is to be sent is :

Income Tax Department - CPC,
Post Bag No – 1,
Electronic City Post Office,
Bangalore – 560100.

Tailpiece: Only for the salaried income, who are overtly worried about their income and the taxes deducted.  Indian Express recently had this newsitem stating that the CBDT has launched an inquiry into a contentious income-tax order which dismissed a tax demand of Rs 980 crore on now-jailed Haryana politician Gopal Goyal Kanda and his business ventures, including the MDLR Group. The inquiry is also expected to look into the sequence of events leading to the tax demand being dismissed as it was categorised as "collectable" in February 2010, shifted to the "difficult-to-recover" category a month later before being completely dismissed in March 2012.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

27th July 2013.

Shikhar Dhawan's ton wins; Thisara Perera's one over heroics in vain

One swallow does not make a summer and one over is not good enough to change the match !! ~ Nicknamed Panda, Thisara Perera - Narangoda Liyanaarachchilage Thisara Chirantha Perera is in news.

Remember watching this tall 6.6” Bob Willis running in at Chepauk – a slightly bent frame, he was considered a genuine quickie….. Robert George Dylan Willis known as Bob Willis was an aggressive fast bowler with a notably long run-up, played 90 tests; took 325 wickets at that time behind only Dennis Lillee.  He was a rabbit with the bat……. On that England tour of 1981-82, I remember watching with glee [may not have been live but only recorded]…. Willis mauled by Sandeep Patil at Manchester.  In that particular over, Patil hit : 4,4,4,0,4,4,4 [don’t count and say I am wrong – it was indeed a 7 ball over with the third, a no ball and a dot ball !!!] Patil jumped from  73 to 104 in nine balls. He was 129 not out when rain brought an early end to the match. Years later Ramnaresh Sarwan was to emulate his feat clubbing 6 fours in an over of Munaf Patel joining the elite club of Patil, Sanath Jayasuriya [off James Anderson] and Chris Gayle [off Matthew Hoggard] ~ all that was in Tests….

At Zimbabwe in the 2nd ODI,  Shikhar Dhawan capitalised on three reprieves to slam his third ODI century as India maintained their stranglehold over minnows Zimbabwe with a comfortable 58-run victory in the second cricket one-dayer today. Dhawan struck 116 as India recovered from early jolts to post a competitive 294 for eight and then restricted the hosts to 236 for nine to take a 2-0 series lead in the five-match series. The comeback man Jayadev Unadkat took 4 wickets.  Miffed at being given out to a controversial catch, an incensed Indian captain Virat Kohli argued aggressively with on-field officials even after the third umpire ruled against him and spoiled his name further…

Elsewhere at Pallekele, the burly Perera made Robin Peterson’s life miserable.  In the 33rd over it was 6; 1 [wide]; 6; 6; 6; 4 and 6… the last one was the biggest sailing in to the night sky and disappearing !!  Chasing a modest 224, Lankan middle order failed and that over could not make much difference as Lankans were all out for 167.   Earlier, the  49th and 50th over of SA innings produced 38 runs.  Though that Peterson’s  over brought Sri Lanka's required run-rate below six it proved that  it would take more than one over to change the course of the match.

Some search in to ODI records reveal that on top stands Herschelle Gibbs with that 6 sixers off the poor Van Bunge in 2007 WC and the second is the effort of NLTC Perera; then 32 by Shahid Afrid off Malinga Bandara; 31 – a combined effort of  Williamson (1) and Franklin (30); 30 twice by Sanath Jayasuriya [off Aamer Sohail and Chris Harris]’ 30s by Mark Boucher (5) and Kallis (25); Mascarenhas off Yuvi and Ross Taylor hitting Abdul Razzaq.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Ambati Rayudu debuts against Zimbabwe and scores....

In Andhra Pradesh, this place is known for Red Chillies, Cotton and tobacco and certainly not a place for grooming a Cricketer…… it gets narrower on top of pyramid ~ reaching is tough and staying is tougher. 

Not many of us would be following the present India – Zimbabwe One dayers…… in the first match Kohli scored a ton and his 84-ball 63 runs partnership with the 27 year old debutant sealed a comfortable win.  Many have played as middle order but this 27 year old has gone through many rough patches including a brawl at the middle -  this man  after a run out was attacked with stumps by Arjun Yadav, who happened to be son of administrator and Indian offie Shivlal Yadav.

A small village Bhattiprolu was originally  Pratipalapura, a flourishing Buddhist town in the ancient Sala kingdom that predated Andhra Satavahanas.  This is in Guntur, located closer to Vijayawada and Tenali.  Guntur is a centre of learning  and home of historically significant Amaravati, Undavalli caves, Kondavid Fort and Sitanagaram monuments ~ and the debutant Ambati Thirupathi Rayudu hails from this place.  He captained U19 and was referred to becoming another Sachin Tendulkar.  He has had a roughshod – having  debuted for Hyderabad way back in 2001; left for Andhra; came back to Hyd; shifted to  Baroda and has been scoring many runs. 

The latest star Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik all know him well – having played him at U19.  some more like RP Singh, Robin Uthappa, VRV Singh also represented India at some point of time ~ yet this man considered to be a precocious talent had to wait long – contributed in a big way by his decision to join the now defunct ICL and making runs there too.   IPL brought him good luck and signing Mumbai Indians took him further high up. So at last, he has earned India cap and a 63 on debut is good display of talent, good headed patience and ability to play shots.  Zimbabwe may not a formidable opponent – but still for somebody who has waited so long, the runs are worth their weight. Often people refer to his belligerent 177 at Taunton against England in U19 ODI series in Aug 2002.  Just prior to that Rayudu had scored a double ton for Hyderabad against AP and he was just 16 at that time.

By 2005,  he was watched by the new coach Greg Chappell too and everyone were commenting him to be future material.  Robin Singh was his Coach; Sandeep Patil when he was with India A. 

The Champions trophy victory is not the panacea for all the ills of Indian cricket but it did come at a right time to boost the sagging image. Now you have so many youngsters – Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Chetesh Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja – in the middle – augurs well for the team.  Rayudu has earned his way into the team and his succeeding at the top would mean a lot for the National team

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th July 2013.

Saluting our Armed Forces on "Kargil Vijay Diwas" - Param Vir Chakra winner : Yogendra Singh Yadav

This is the day when we must remember Yogendra Singh Yadav  and a host of others who gave their tomorrows for our today…  26th July is a very important day for the Nation and all of us……. Today is the  ~Kargil Vijay Diwas, the day   of successful completion of Operation Vijay. On this day, 26 July 1999, India successfully took command of the high outposts which had been lost to Pakistani intruders. The Kargil war was fought for more than 60 days, ended on 26 July.  This did result in the loss of lives but not the honour of the Nation.

Great People – Country must remember the Names -  :  Captain Anuj Nayyar, Captain Amol Kalia, Captain Manoj Pande, Captain P.V.Vikram, Captain Vikram Batra, Deputy Commander Sukhbir Singh Yadav, Driver-Soldier Gopinath Moharana,  Flight Engineer Raj Kishore Sahoo, Grenadiar Amardeep, Grenadiar Bajinder Singh Naik Surjeet Singh, Naik Subedar Lal Chand, Naik Vikram Singh, Naik Yoginder Singh, Rifleman Ansuya Prasad Dhayani, Rifleman Bachan Singh, Subedar Sumer Singh Rathore, Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, Squadron Leader Rajiv Pundir, Squadron Leader Lal Singh, Squadron Leader Ojha, Zrfn Man Singh,  Kaushal Yadav in the history books of the school curriculum.   The illustrious list includes all the  527 heroes who sacrificed their future for protecting the honour of the Nation….. yes these are some of the names of Indian jawans and officers who made the supreme sacrifice in the battle field of Kargil.

Kargil War was fought on the high glaciers of Himalayas between May and July 1999 – 14 years ago.  During that time Pak soldiers infiltrated and after valiant fight, India recaptured the positions, in exhibiting the highest valour in high altitude warfare in mountainous terrains.  Tiger Hill or Point 5353, a mountain in the Drass-Kargil area of Jammu & Kashmir, India was the subject of the most famous battle.    It was the  highest peak in the sector, the Pakistani forces who held the peak could easily see the military headquarters of the 56 Brigade, the main Indian force in charge of the area. The Pakistanis could also watch the Srinagar-Leh Highway, the main supply route of the Kargil Sector, and relay information of troop and supply movements to their superiors. Indian artillery started shelling Tiger Hill to force the enemy to keep their head down, while the 18 Grenadiers, 2 Naga, and 8 Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army got ready to attack Tiger Hill. The main tactic was the most difficult ever employed on an open battlefield.  An Indian contingent assault team successfully claimed this back…….. the hero was  Yogendra Singh Yadav  who  survived 15 bullets while capturing Tiger Hill.   Yadav was a member of the 'ghatak' (assault) commando platoon which captured three strategic bunkers on Tiger Hill overlooking the Drass-Kargil road on the night of July 3-4, 1999.

I had on the previous years lamented that if one were to search on this day ~the 26th of July – the headlines of papers do not mention about Kargil but many other ordinary things take the centre stage….. War need not be about sorrow all the time… last year, Indian Express had this newsitem – a happy and inspiring story at that…….. of  Jayant and Urmila Mijar,  who happily sent their only son to join the army. Their illustrious son  Colonel Prasad Mijar did them and the Nation proud returning victorious with the message that "Every child in this country must join the Armed Forces,”.  Zee also carries the news that our Defence Minister AK Antony paid tribute to Kargil martyrs at Amar Jawan Jyoti on the occasion of the 14th anniversary of the Kargil war on Friday in New Delhi. Chiefs of Army, Navy & Air Force also joined the nation to pay homage to the soldiers who laid down their lives during the Indo-Pak war in Kargil in 1999. 

Naib Subedar Yogendra Singh Yadav  of the 18 Grenadiers was part of the Commando 'Ghatak' (Deadly or Lethal) Platoon tasked to capture three strategic bunkers on Tiger Hill in the early morning hours of 4 July 1999. The bunkers were situated at the top of a vertical, snow-covered, 16,500 foot high cliff face. Grenadier Yadav, volunteering to lead the assault, was climbing the cliff face and fixing the ropes for further assault on the feature. Halfway up, an enemy bunker opened up machine gun and rocket fire, killing the platoon commander and two others. In spite of having been hit by three bullets in his groin and shoulder, Yadav climbed the remaining 60 feet and reached the top. Though severely injured, he crawled to the first bunker and lobbed a grenade, killing four Pakistani soldiers and neutralizing enemy fire. This gave the rest of the platoon the opportunity to climb up the cliff face.  Yadav then charged the second bunker along with two of his fellow soldiers and engaged in hand-to-hand combat, killing four Pakistani soldiers. The platoon subsequently succeeded in capturing Tiger Hill. For his sustained display of bravery, Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India's highest medal for gallantry.

Grenadier Yogender Singh Yadav displayed the most conspicuous courage, indomitable gallantry, grit and determination under extreme adverse circumstances ~ reads the citation….. actually, the The Param Vir Chakra was announced for Yadav posthumously, but it was soon discovered that he was recuperating in a hospital, and it was his namesake that had been slain in the mission. The Indian Army also initiated  a high-level inquiry into the "unpardonable mistake" of declaring one of the Param Vir Chakra winners, Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav, dead, though he was convalescing in an army hospital in New Delhi. The army chief  himself rushed to the Base Hospital on Sunday afternoon with gifts and apologies.

Param Vir Chakra awardees : Sanjay Kumar; Yogendra Yadav and Bana Singh

Today, certainly is the day to remember the heroic acts and sacrifices of our Jawans and remember them with pride.

Jai Jawan ~ long live our armed forces

Respectfully Saluting them….     S. Sampathkumar

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ponni, Samba - Indian rice - IR8 and Green Revolution

Daily in the morning most of us eat our staple food of rice; some of us eat rice for lunch and again for dinner too ……… for a typical Tamilian the food is never complete with curd rice !  The  eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan remarked in a Forum that  India needs an "Evergreen Revolution" to increase productivity without harming the environment.   He said, "If cultivation of land is continued without conservation of soil fertility and replacement of large local varieties of plants with one or two varieties, then there will be a disastrous effect, so we must have a 'Evergreen Revolution' in terms of increasing productivity without perpetuating any associated ecological harm,".

Heard of : Mappillai Samba; Karunguruvai; Seeraga Samba; Kudavazhai; Varappu Kudainchan, Ponni etc., - rice varieties of Tamilnadu and here is something about IR 8 and the Father of Green revolution.

Green Revolution refers to a series of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1940s and the late 1970s, that increased agriculture production worldwide, particularly in the developing world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s. Dr. MS Swaminathan is known as the "Father of the Green Revolution in India".  Globally, it was  led by Norman Borlaug, who earned the sobriquet "Father of the Green Revolution" credited with saving over a billion people from starvation, involved the development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers. The term "Green Revolution" was first used in 1968 by former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) director William Gaud, who noted the spread of the new technologies.

Back home, Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan, an Indian geneticist and international administrator, was renowned for his leading role in India's "Green Revolution," a program under which high-yield varieties of wheat and rice seedlings were planted in the fields of poor farmers. From 1972 to 1979 he was director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and he was minister of Agriculture from 1979 to 1980. He served as director general of the International Rice Research Institute (1982–88) and became president of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1988. In 1999, Time magazine placed him in the Time 20 list of most influential Asian people of the 20th century.

Norman Ernest Borlaug (1914 – 2009) known as the Father of Green revolution worldwide  was an American agronomist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate.   who has been called "the father of the Green Revolution".  Besides the  Nobel Peace Prize, he was awarded  the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal;  also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honor. During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these high-yielding varieties combined with modern agricultural production techniques to Mexico, Pakistan, and India.

In 1961 India was on the brink of mass famine. Borlaug was invited to India by the adviser to the Indian minister of agriculture M. S. Swaminathan. Despite bureaucratic hurdles imposed by India's grain monopolies, the Ford Foundation and Indian government collaborated import wheat seed from CIMMYT. Punjab was selected by the Indian government to be the first site to try the new crops because of its reliable water supply and a history of agricultural success. India began its own Green Revolution program of plant breeding, irrigation development, and financing of agrochemicals.

India also adopted IR8 – a semi-dwarf rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) that could produce more grains of rice per plant when grown with certain fertilizers and irrigation. In 1968, Indian agronomist S.K. De Datta published his findings that IR8 rice yielded about 5 tons per hectare with no fertilizer, and almost 10 tons per hectare under optimal conditions. This was 10 times the yield of traditional rice. IR8 was a success throughout Asia, and dubbed the "Miracle Rice". IR8 was also developed into Semi-dwarf IR36.

There is something more on rice – of a country’s whose politics is mired with rice now….. more of it in a later post…

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th July 2013.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Atlas ~ the new age Robo Sapien unveiled....

In Greek mythology, Atlas was the primordial Titan who held up the celestial sphere. He is also the titan of astronomy and navigation. There have been science fictions on robots taking over mankind… worst feared being the humanoids. A humanoid robot is a robot with its body shape built to resemble that of the human. We all saw and were thrilled by the Rajnikanth starrer ‘Enthiran’ released in 2010 directed by Shankar. The plot was provided Srirangam Rangarajan [Sujatha] who unfortunately was not there to see the film’s success.  The story revolved  around the scientist's struggle to control his creation, the android robot whose software was upgraded to give it the ability to comprehend and generate human emotions. The plan backfires as the robot falls in love with the scientist's fiancée and is further manipulated to bring destruction to the world when it lands in the hands of a rival scientist.

The robot  Chitti, its movements and the way it starts interacting with humans was well narrated and portrayed.  Scientifically, a humanoid design might be for functional purposes, such as interacting with human tools and environments, for experimental purposes, such as the study of bipedal locomotion, or for other purposes. In general, humanoid robots have a torso, a head, two arms, and two legs, though some forms of humanoid robots may model only part of the body and may not look as beautiful as its human counterparts. Androids are humanoid robots built to aesthetically resemble humans.

The concept does not belong to this century ~ Leonardo da Vinci made reference to a humanoid automaton designed  centuries ago. These were rediscovered during the mid of the last century.  It is stated that Leonardo displayed his "robot" at a celebration hosted by Ludovico Sforzaat the court of Milan in 1495. The robot knight could stand, sit, raise its visor and independently maneuver its arms. The entire robotic system was operated by a series of pulleys and cables. Since the discovery of the sketchbook, the robot has been built faithfully based on Leonardo's design; this proved it was fully functional, as Leonardo had planned. The robot clad in German-Italian medieval armour, was able to make several human-like motions.

The step-by-step making of Chitti and how it develops its functions; and how it passes the tests of other Officers including those who do not want it to succeed, were interestingly depicted in the film ‘Enthiran’……. Sure, we would love to see a formidable person who can stand upright even when slammed by heavy objects, walk up on difficult terrains, climb over obstacles, walk through fire and more… and more impressive if he were to be taller than 6 feet weigh more than  150kg, stretch his arm far wide and still move with speed and alacrity.  The two-metre tall robot was created as a test bed for a US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency challenge. The Darpa challenge demands the the robot completes eight tasks that it might have to perform in an emergency. Lot is expected of him as he could pave way for intelligent machines helping in the wake of natural disasters and terror strikes.  It is ‘Atlas’ !!

Atlas is a bipedal humanoid robot primarily developed by the American robotics company Boston Dynamics, with funding and oversight from the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The 6-foot (1.8 m) robot is designed for a variety of search and rescue tasks, and was unveiled to the public on July 11, 2013. Six teams have until December 2013 to develop software that will help Atlas complete the tasks. Like a human, Atlas has two arms and legs and gets around by walking. It sees using a stereo laser scanning system and has gripping hands developed by two separate robotics companies. Unlike humans, it has a high speed networking system built-in so it can communicate with its creators and pipe data back from disaster areas. Before now, the teams taking part in the robotic challenge have only worked with virtual versions of Atlas. In the next stage of the competition, algorithms and control programs for the virtual Atlas will be transferred to the real thing. The teams will then have five months to refine Atlas's abilities before taking part in a series of trials. During those, a tethered version of Atlas will be expected to complete tasks which include driving a car, removing debris blocking doors. climbing a ladder, finding and closing a valve and connecting a fire hose.

In 2014, Atlas robots programmed by six different teams will compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge to test the robot's ability to perform various tasks, including getting in and out of a vehicle and driving it, opening a door, and using a power tool. A variety of other robots will also compete. The contest was inspired by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and carries a US$2 million prize for the winning team.  Atlas is intended to aid emergency services in search and rescue operations, performing tasks such as shutting off valves, opening doors and operating powered equipment in environments where humans could not survive.The Department of Defense has stated that it has no interest in using the robot for offensive or defensive warfare. The New York Times said that its debut was "a striking example of how computers are beginning to grow legs and move around in the physical world", describing the robot as "a giant – though shaky – step toward the long-anticipated age of humanoid robots."

So a new species, Robo sapiens,  has now emerged… !!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th July 2013.

India lives in villages.......... and rural India is poor...

India is diverse and understanding India is akin to blindmen feeling different parts of elephant and assuming what it is….. India is not the metropolis of Mumbai – Delhi – Kolkatta – Chennai…. Infact each city is different too…….. the Indians living in villages are far different than those who enjoy life in cities…
From a predominantly agrarian society the face of India is changing – little by choice.. farmers are finding it difficult to cultivate and market their products – multinationals sell everything from drinking water, cool drinks, tender coconut water to beauty products ~ soaps, cakes, vanishing creams all sell more than basic needs……….. and they have cultivated market for all of them in rural India too……
For many everything from the basic needs of food, shelter and clothes are not available and they struggle for their livelihood…. Poverty has conventionally been estimated with reference to a poverty line – The line of cut-off between poor and non-poor. That poverty line is derived  on the basis of notion of a minimum nutritional requirement of a person, expressed in calories.  Orissa, Bihar, UP, are some of the States considered very poor though there are many poor persons in States like Maharashtra, parts of Andhra and more.  By some estimates,  Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of poor population at 7.37 crore, followed by Bihar and Maharashtra in 2009-10; Bihar and Maharashtra had poor population of 5.43 crore and 2.7 crore respectively in the year 2009-10 based on poverty line fixed using the Tendulakar Committee formula, as per data provided by the Planning Commission in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
Today’s TOI has this interesting report which states that : Odisha and Bihar have registered the sharpest decline in poverty levels between 2004-05 and 2011-12, although the proportion of the poor in these states remains well above the national average. Latest data released on Tuesday revealed that in Odisha, the proportion of people below thepoverty line (BPL) in total population came down from 57.2% in 2004-05 to 32.6% in 2011-12, a decline of 24.6 percentage points. In Bihar, which logged the fastest growth rate during the 11th five-year plan (2007-12), the share of BPL in total population was estimated at 33.7% in 2011-12, compared to 54.4% in 2004-05, a reduction by 20.7 percentage points.  
At the all-India level, the share of the BPL population was estimated at 21.9%, which is almost 270 million. This means that roughly every fifth Indian lives below the poverty line. The government has set the bar low, defining anyone earning Rs 27.20 or less in rural areas as BPL, while those earning up to Rs 33.30 a day in urban areas are classified as poor, though these benchmarks vary from state to state. Although things seem to looking up in the poor states, especially Bimaru, they still remain home to the maximum number of poor people in the country. While Uttar Pradesh has just under 30% of its population in the BPL group, the number adds up to almost 60 million. Bihar, despite the improvement, still has 35.8 million poor, and ranks second, followed by Madhya Pradesh where 23.4 million or 31.6% of the population is BPL. 
Among the Bimaru states, only Rajasthan has managed to do better than the national average with the share of BPL in total population estimated at 14.7% in 2011-12, compared to 34.4% in 2004-05. In fact, the state now is a better performer than Gujarat, famed for its rapid growth and good infrastructure. The state ruled by Narendra Modi had 16.6% people below the poverty line. The other important trend coming from the latest poverty estimates, which have traditionally created controversy, is the fact that rural India has seen faster improvement than urban centres. The decline in poverty was steeper in rural areas as BPL population came down to 25.8% (2011-12) from 42% (2004-05), around 17 percentage points, as against around 12 percentage points in urban areas.
On an all-India basis, there were 217 million poor in rural areas and 53 million in urban areas in 2011-12, as against 326 million and 81 million, respectively, in 2004-05. The final figures for 2011-12 are likely to be revised once a government-appointed committee under C Rangarajan submits its report on a new methodology for fixing the poverty line, but thePlanning Commission in its press release pointed out that this would only change the numbers, not the declining trend. 
…………. All these may still mean nothing to those really poor… mere statistics

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
PS : the portion in black majorly reproduced from Times of India today.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spanish police seize cannabis hidden in consignment of frozen sardine

A perfect reference to Sec 5 of Marine Insurance Act, 1963.

Sardines, or pilchards, are common names used to refer to various small, oily fish within the herring family of Clupeidae. In Tamilnadu / Kerala, they are known as ‘mathi’ ~ the photo above is not of Sardine but placed because it is beautiful [source : unknown]  The United Kingdom's Sea Fish Industry Authority, for example, classifies sardines as young pilchards. Typically, sardines are caught with encircling nets, particularly purse seines. Many modifications of encircling nets are used, including traps or weirs. The fish are caught mainly at night, when they approach the surface to feed on plankton. After harvesting, the fish are submerged in brine while they are transported to shore. Sardines are commercially fished for a variety of uses: for bait; for immediate consumption; for drying, salting, or smoking; and for reduction into fish meal or oil. The chief use of sardines is for human consumption, but fish meal is used as animal feed, while sardine oil has many uses, including the manufacture of paint, varnish and linoleum.

Daily Mail reports that Spanish police seized 900 kilos of cannabis stuffed inside consignment of frozen sardines. Customs officials tracked the cargo from Morocco, North Africa, to Marbella; Police found cannabis hidden underneath frozen sardines.  Is this what people call ‘something fishy’…..  the Spanish police smelt something fishing of the consignment of  frozen sardines in Marbella ~ and  their suspicions were proved right when they opened up the container and found a staggering 900 kilos of cannabis stuffed underneath the frozen fish - worth more than £3.6million. The operation - codenamed Maria - led to the arrest of 14 suspected traffickers and the confiscation of the cannabis.

Customs officials had tracked the cargo from Morocco in North Africa to a dockside warehouse in Cadiz, southwestern Spain. From there it was transported on to a luxury villa in Marbella, southern Spain, where it was seized by police. 'Officers found 325 kilos of hashish hidden inside the frozen sardines in the refrigeration truck,' said a police spokesman. 'A further 570 kilos was intercepted in a warehouse of El Puerto de Santa Marma in Cadiz,' he added. Police had been monitoring the gang for more than a month after the syndicate leader arrived in Spain from Morocco to plan the shipment. It comes after a sailor caught on a yacht carrying £20million worth of cocaine died last month after he fell from his mast trying to escape customs officials.

In that incident, the  Dutch national was heading to Cornwall from Portugal but made a distress call to coast guard after suffering problems. The following day when customs officers entered the vessel, named ‘Windrose’, to carry out an inspection the man panicked and climbed up the yacht's mast. The unnamed man fell off the mast and landed on the quayside, suffering such severe injuries that he later died in hospital. The boat was subsequently towed to Newlyn, Cornwall, where a full search uncovered the illicit cargo of drugs, believed to have a street value of £20million. A Border Force spokesman said: ‘Following a search of the yacht, Windrose, a substantial quantity of cocaine, thought to be approximately 200 kilos, was discovered. ‘It is estimated that if cut and sold in the UK the drugs could have had a potential street value of around £20 million. The drugs  were removed from the Windrose and taken to a secure location for further analysis. An investigation is ongoing.’

Cannabis  is a genus of flowering plants that includes three putative varieties, Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Cannabis has long been used for fibre (hemp), for seed and seed oils, for medicinal purposes, and as a recreational drug. Cannabis, also known as marijuana (from the Mexican Spanish marihuana), is a preparation of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug and as medicine. Cannabis is most often consumed for its psychoactive and physiological effects which include euphoria, relaxation, and increase in appetite. Unwanted side-effects include decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, reddening of the eyes, paranoia and anxiety. The  United Nations has said that cannabis is the most-used illicit drug in the world. In large enough doses  it  can induce auditory and visual hallucination

Tailpiece : Sec 5 of MI Act 1963 is :  Lawful marine adventure ~ Subject to the provisions of this Act, every lawful marine adventure may be the subject of a contract of marine insurance [and an adventure which is not lawful cannot be subject matter of insurance]

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
23rd July 2013.

Source :

providing quality food to India's poor ~ is mid-day meal scheme a failure or mis-administered ?

India really is a land of paradoxes… there are kids in metropolis getting dropped in posh foreign cars, eat very rich food, carry swanky mobiles and have i-phones and ipads as playthings…. …… then there are children who do not get to eat one quality meal per day…. have you ever visited the cooking room of a school in your city / village or that of an ordinary hotel ?  Can you imagine the place depicted by these photographs….

Sad that 23 children died ~ fault, eating midday meals at school… and a  Bihar court has issued an arrest warrant against Meena Devi, the headmistress of the Chhapra school.  Ms Devi has been absconding since the deaths of the children and was suspended from her post after the Bihar police filed an FIR against her last week. According to district officials probing the incident, Meena Devi had forced the cook to use contaminated oil despite the latter’s complaint that it had a pungent smell. Sure, the guilty needs to be punished and one cannot be tolerant where so many little children have lost their lives………. But, is She really to blame and are things anyway different elsewhere………..

Reports suggest that forensic tests on the food served to the children confirm that the food was poisoned, and also contained the alarming revelation that it contained five times the poison levels found in insecticides and pesticides. There are now lingering doubts on whether the young victims in Chapra, Bihar, really poisoned as the state government claims? The State education minister PK Shahi was slammed for his comments in a media conference, when he insisted that the children had been deliberately poisoned and hinted at a political conspiracy. The Forensic Science Laboratory report found Monocrotophos, an organophosphorus compound in the samples of oil from the container, food remains on the platter and mixture of rice with vegetables on Aluminium tasla (utensil), Additional Director General of Police (HQ) Ravinder Kumar told reporters making the report public. In his media statement Shahi put the blame on the principal of the school and her husband, hinting that they had something to do with the incident.  The fact that the Principal and her family members went into hiding immediately was being held against them ~ but is that not a natural reaction of timid people who have no political backing….. If deliberate poisoning can indeed be proven, it will undoubtedly give the Nitish Kumar government a much needed lease of credibility. The tragic incident has dealt a massive blow to the Chief Minister’s ‘good governance’ claims and given his political opponents some lethal ammunition against him.

Perhaps some heads would roll and then the sordid affairs continue as it has been…. a report in The Times of India stated that as much as Rs 463 cr that had been allocated to the state government for the running of the midday meal scheme in Bihar had been returned to the centre as it had not been utilised. In the wake of the Bihar incident, reports of equally shocking reports from across the country started flooding national media. On Wednesday, 31 students of a government school in Dhule, Maharashtra were admitted to a hospital after they ate food served as part of the midday meal scheme in their school. The students, from Class 5 to 10, had reportedly developed gastroenteritis after eating the food.

In someways it is no shocker – schools across States, when things are administered by the Govt and are to be free schemes – there are middle men at every stage and eventually the quality takes a hit….! In most places, whatever is made available to poor is what would never be eaten by any of those luckier affluent ones… there are voices that the scheme is bad, and should be stopped at once…………………….. if the administration is not good that would never make the noble intentions bad. The noon meal provision is seen as  punishment posting for some of its administrators.  Often it gets allocated to teachers who are notorious absentees.

Down South on the banks of river Thamirabarani lies the hamlet Cheranmahadevi, which in someways  changed the way children go to school in our Great land…………………. It is stated that  decades ago, the then CM of Tamilnadu Thiru K. Kamaraj saw a boy near the town of Cheranmahadevi herding livestock he asked him, “What are you doing with these cows? Why didn’t you go to school?” The child immediately retorted, “If I go to school, will you give me food to eat? I can learn only if I eat." Unknowingly, this young boy had touched on a critical problem facing the nation’s children: they cannot learn on a hungry stomach. His simple response sparked a series of events which gave rise to the Mid-day Meal Scheme as it is known today. Started in the 1960s in Tamil Nadu, the program was set up to reduce hunger and encourage universal primary education.

The key objectives of the programme  was to protect children from classroom hunger, increasing school enrollment and attendance, improved socialization among children, addressing malnutrition, and social empowerment through provision of employment to women. The scheme introduced statewide by the then Chief Minister K. Kamaraj in the 1960s was later expanded by the M. G. Ramachandran government in 1982. It has been adopted by most Indian states after a landmark direction by the Supreme Court of India on November 28, 2001.
Now whatever it be, don’t blame the system for all the evils…. Every time there is a scandal about an institution, we perform post-mortems; we feel the organisation has breathed its last.  We see mistakes as lethal and scandals as fatal and yet a week later, despite the loss of lives we move on as if nothing has happened. None at the top suffer and after sometime things move on as thought it never occurred.  Let not the fright of Chhapra children add to this list.  There is media frenzy which will either taper off as time passes or shift attention to something else more popular.

A shining example of how to run the scheme is live at Bangalore – a real story of “Akshaya Patra”, set up by the ISKCON. The photos at the start of the post are that of this institution. Their leader once saw a group of children struggling over scraps of food near a garbage can. Groups like ISKCON, the Ramakrishna Mission, the Sikh langars, the Swaminarayan are masters of cooking and food as hospitality. Welfare schemes need ideas of care, seva, beyond the pinched ideas of bureaucratic charity.  While some get too much of mileage of little charity, the works of some remain not so publicized and appreciated – however those service Organisation continue serving the society without expectation of any recompense just as rain serves the land.  

The Akshaya Patra Foundation runs school lunch programs; the organization distributes freshly cooked, healthy meals daily to 1.3 million underprivileged children in 9,000 government schools through 20 locations in 9 states across India.  For many of the children, this is their only complete meal for the day. It gives them an incentive to come to school and stay in school and provides them with the necessary nutrients — becoming the food for education. In ten years, the foundation has grown to become one of the largest and most innovative school lunch programs in the world. The mission of the organization is to reach out to 5 million children by 2020, and holds to the belief that "no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.” Tucked away on busy West of Chord Road, the Akshaya Patra kitchen on the Iskcon temple campus is a place where hygiene is non-negotiable. Anyone entering the automated kitchen has to wear gloves and caps, which are not reused. Meals are churned out like clockwork in this kitchen, which was set up 13 years ago, ever since the midday meal scheme began in the year 2000.  

If you are to see this, you would eat here so happily. Akshaya Patra kitchens are technology-driven, which ensures the entire cooking process is untouched by human hand. These centralized, automated kitchens can cook close to 6,000 kg of rice, 4.5-5 tonne of vegetables and 6,000 litres of sambar, in under six hours. Akshaya Patra uses customized industrial steam generators and specifically designed vegetable cutting machines. The vehicles that transport cooked food to schools are heat insulated and dust-free special purpose vehicles. Such are the measures taken to ensure cleanliness in this three-tier kitchen, that rice is tilted out of the silo through a computer controlled flow valve. Once the cooking is done and food dispatched to schools for the day, the vessels are steam washed and read for the next day. Little wonder the scheme was a Harvard Business School case study. This Quality has ISO 22000 certification for 11 Akshaya Patra kitchens….

There are some more in the fray providing quality food on their own… in the dusty village of Thuraiyur nearer Trichy there is - Sri Agathiar Sanmaarga Charitable Trust that  has been serving the poor and downtrodden in Thuraiyur, Trichy, Tamilnadu, India since 1989. The center, known as ''Omkarakudil", has charity as its basis of spirituality. Reportedly around 2000 poor people are fed daily here and the Sangam extends its help to many villages around 50 km radius serving quality food packets distributed in their own lorries……..

Never blame the system ~ the intentions are noble – the administration of the scheme may not be !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd July 2013.