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Thursday, August 29, 2013

bio-pic on life of Flying Sikh - Milkha Singh....

There have been cinemas and bio-pics … this only is a must see.  It is - Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (English: Run Milkha Run) a  biographical sports film based on the life of "The Flying Sikh" Milkha Singh, an Indian athlete who was a national champion runner and an Olympian. The film has been produced and directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra on a script written by Prasoon Joshi. The film stars Farhan Akhtar, Sonam Kapoor, Divya Dutta, Pavan Malhotra and Meesha Shafi. The film was released on 12 July 2013  and reportedly grossing well.  

The man fondly known as Flying Sikh, was born in 1935 – Milkha Singh is his name – a field sprinter who was introduced to the sport while serving in the Indian Army. As of 2013, he is the only Indian male athlete to have won an individual athletics gold medal at a Commonwealth Games. He represented India in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour, in recognition of his sporting achievements.

The race for which Singh is best remembered is his fourth-place finish in the 400 metres final at the 1960 Olympic Games, which he had entered as one of the favourites. He led the race for some time before easing off, allowing others to pass him. Various records were broken in the race, which required a photo-finish and saw American Otis Davis being declared the winner by one-hundredth of a second over German Carl Kaufmann. Singh's fourth-place time of 45.73 became the Indian national record and held for almost 40 years.

Milkha was born at Govindapura, a village in Muzaffargarh city of Punjab province [now in Pakistan] -  one of those millions displaced during the tragic partition of India, later rising to become Sports icon of the Nation. He is described as "the finest athlete India has ever produced".  Wikipedia states that he was one of 15 siblings, eight of whom died before the Partition of India. He was orphaned during the Partition, when his parents, a brother and two sisters were killed in the violence that ensued. He witnessed these killings.  Escaping the troubles in Punjab, where killings of Hindus and Sikhs were continuing, by moving to Delhi, India, in 1947, Singh lived for a short time with a married sister.    He joined the armed forces in  1951, and while stationed at the Electrical Mechanical Engineering Centre in Secunderabad, was introduced to athletics.

Milkha at Rome – photo courtesy :

Milkha reportedly was persuaded by Jawaharlal Nehru to set aside his memories of the Partition era to race successfully in 1960 against Abdul Khaliq in Pakistan, where a post-race comment by the then General Ayub Khan led to him acquiring the nickname of The Flying Sikh. Singh and his daughter, Sonia Sanwalka, co-wrote his autobiography, titled The Race of My Life.  The book inspired Bhaag Milkha Bhaag,  the biopic now released.  Flying Sikh’s Bollywood avatar is running pretty and grossing hugely not only here but also at the US box office too.

Farhan Akhtar, plays the title role in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag – reportedly the scene where he defeats Pak Olympian Abdul Khaliq was shot 10 days, reshot 100 times to make it perfect.  To make the scene realistic, Farhan ran alongside professional athletes. He approached Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Patiala to hand-pick a good runner. Bhupender Singh Bhokkar, one of the three athletes selected by the SAI authorities, finally got that golden chance to play Pakistani athlete Khaliq.  The 400-metre track at Punjabi University in Patiala was chosen to enact the event which took place in Pakistan in 1962 when Milkha defeated Pak Olympian Khaliq in the 200-metre race.

There are reports that Milkha singh was elated….. for the legendary American sprinter Carl Lewis who had won 9 Olympic gold medals called him after watching the biopic.  Milkha is quoted as saying in a Hindustan Times report :  “Yes that’s true. Lewis called me today. He saw the movie with an Indian fan and was impressed with it. He said he was moved by that fact that I went on to represent my country in such difficult circumstances. He wanted to send me a gift and asked for my postal address”.  The two athletes have never met or spoken before and Milkha was surprised how Lewis found out his Chandigarh number.

Milkha Singh was promoted from the rank of sepoy to junior commissioned officer in recognition of his successes in the 1958 Asian Games. He  subsequently became Director of Sports in the Punjab Ministry of Education, from which post he  retired by 1998. All of Singh's medals have been donated to the nation and are now on display at sports museum in Patiala.  In 2012, he donated the Adidas shoes that he had worn in the 1960 400m final to a charity auction organised by Rahul Bose, the actor.

Milkha has three daughters and a son, Jeev Milkha Singh. In 1999, they adopted the seven-year old son of Havildar Bikram Singh, who had died in the Battle of Tiger Hill. Jeev Milkha Singh (born 1971) is a professional golfer who became the first player from India to join the European Tour in 1998. He has won four events on the European Tour making him the most successful Indian on tour. He is the highest ranked Indian golfer in the world and first broke into the top 100 in October 2006.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Ace archer Deepika Kumari in tears - thanks to arrogance of media

Onions make people cry and so do TV serials ! ~ both are most sought after still !! as tears make compulsive viewing; more so when the person in tears is famous and the one liked by the viewer – sympathy factor has been selling not only in TV but in political arena as well. Often the 9 PM news of many English channels [in India] start with the presenter screaming the news claiming it to be ‘live and unexclusive’ in unbridled enthusiasm…. Sensationalism !

the golden archers - foto

Captain cool is a cliché often used to describe MS Dhoni. MSD has   tasted success in all formats of the game, and that too in just four years. Australian great Greg Chappell calls Dhoni the best captain in the world today. Former Indian skipper Kapil Dev, who led the country to its first major cricketing triumph - the 1983 Prudential World Cup - has no qualms in accepting that Dhoni is a better captain.  The transformation of MSD, from a long-haired pinch-hitter to a suave captain is dramatic.  He burst on the scene in 2004 as a small-town boy with a penchant for whacking the ball out of the ground;  Captaincy came his way in September 2007  when many stars opted out of T20 WC ~ then there was the IPL – in between he had the guts to claim rest and opt out of a tour…. He has seen continued  failures in England and Australia too… yet he never wears his emotions on the sleeve and is mostly undemonstrative. 

There was another exponent [his losses made me cry – though he remained stoic is another matter] – with his punishing topspin ground strokes,Lendl won eight Grand Slam singles titles, reached the final of at least one Grand Slam tournament for 11 straight years;  advanced to 19 Grand Slam finals -  was ranked No. 1 for 270 weeks – had many honours – but never could win a Wimbledon.  Lendl had to move away due to back injury – has a relaxed life and is now coaching Andy Murray. It is stated in matches involving Andy Murray, Lendl would look more like a modern art - with his arms crossed, or his chin resting on his left hand;  reserved and serious rarely showing any emotion.

Men are generally strong and hide their emotions well ! ~ remember the sad end to Andre Agassi's 20-year career  beaten by German qualifier Benjamin Becker [no relative to more famous Boris Becker] at the US Open.  Agassi was clearly affected by the chronic back injury which hastened his decision to retire. Backed by a fiercely patriotic crowd, Agassi battled courageously but Becker's power proved too much. The man thought as a legend was shattered and was in tears. He was crying on the ground and later on screen too……

Now the Nation is concerned with the cry of the wonder girl who helped Team India win its second successive gold at the Archery World Cup in Poland. Deepika and co beat the Koreans 219-215 to follow up their gold at the stage 3 meet in Medellin, Colombia — where they had beaten China…… back home, she cried unable to bear the pressure of media – seeking ‘exclusive interview’  

Reports suggest that the jet-lagged archer did provide time for interviews but later sought them to be a common one as she had to leave for a flight – in the argument that ensued, some journalists had questioned her attitude which pushed her in tears.  Deepika, the star of the Indian women’s recurve archery team that won the gold at the Wroclaw World Cup in Poland, along with Rimil Buruily and L. Bombayla Devi, was much in demand during the media interaction at the residence of Archery Association of India (AAI) president V.K. Malhotra.  Though there was no grand welcome arranged for the winners, several news channels gathered at the airport. Most managed to get sound bytes from all concerned. However, things escalated when the TV channels demanded individual interviews and Deepika was left a distressed individual amidst a crowd of ‘admirers’.

TV footages show one of India’s best sportspersons, Deepika Kumari, breaking down in tears. The anchors showed no mercy, no compassion and all they wanted was an exclusive, if it was to be the tears of the athlete that make up the exclusive.  It is media serving their brand of aggression. 

Firstpost reports that a cameraman followed every move of the archers, forcing Deepika to request him to move away and let her eat breakfast with the team coach. Instead of acceding to the request, the cameraman taunted the 18-year-old, saying Deepika should actually be grateful for such media coverage. Deepika along with the remaining members of her team, Buruily and Bombayla, tried to do as many interview requests as possible. But then with time running out and the team scheduled to fly out to Aurangabad in the afternoon, they requested the remaining TV crews to conduct combined interviews instead. Things went downhill. A couple of reporters insisted on ‘exclusive’ sound bytes. Then a reporter accused Deepika of being arrogant by refusing to talk individually to everyone. That’s when the 18-year-old broke down.

The Q put by Firstpost is: what does it take to make an athlete cry? In most cases, one would say it would be injury, defeat or triumph. Wiping her tears, Deepika said she had not slept for more than 24 hours, had a headache because she had not eaten since morning and was rushing to catch a flight.
deepika in tears - the hindu photo

Can they try doing this with suave Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri or with ice-cool Dhoni…….. or a Leander Paes…  the quest for one-on-one interviews isn’t new. Though the point of it is rather lost – the questions usually are the same that were asked in the press conference. And most of them don’t even know the sport well enough !   should TRP rating down the morale of sportspersons ! ~ why and how should somebody invade the personal space.

Deepika – Nation wants you and others – we are appreciative of you and are proud of the laurels that you have brought… no need for any exclusive interviews ….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

with inputs taken from

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Masakadza stars in Zimbabwe's historic win against Pakistan

Zimbabwe  is a landlocked country located in southern Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Mozambique. It’s capital is Harare.  Understand that Zimbabwe has 16 official languages with English, Shona and Ndebele being most common.  Things are not all that well for this State and it is  trying to rebuild its tourism industry after a decade of conflict and hyperinflation.

President Robert Mugabe was elected for a seventh term in peaceful but disputed elections this month. Robert Gabriel Mugabe  born in 1924,  is the second and current President of Zimbabwe. As one of the leaders of the national liberation movements against white-minority rule, he was elected as head of government in 1980.  He won his seventh  term as president defeating Morgan Tsvangirai with 61 percent of the vote.

For Zimbabwean cricket, things are more tough.  There are enough role models in Flowers and Streaks……… but the struggling National side is not offering enough for its young players.   Recently,  fast bowler Kyle Jarvis, all of 24, quit international cricket so that he can play the game for counties and franchises and make some money while his body lasts.  Yesterday they made some history by beating Pakistan after 15 years.

Many will remember Zimbabwe beating famed Aussies in 1983 WC and pinning India down at 17 for 5 before cavalier Kapil Dev played innings of life. Even die-hard fans may not remember Charles Coventry who for sometime held the World record for most runs in ODI along with Saeed Anwar.  For many years Glenn Turner’s 171 was the highest till Kapil set 175 n.o in 1983; then it was Viv Richards 189 in 1984; Anwar’s 194 at Chepauk in 1997 at Chepauk – equaled by Coventry in 2009.  Months later in Feb 2010, Sachin Tendulkar scored the first ever double century in ODI – later to be outsmart by Virender Sehwag’s 219 in Dec 2011.

Hamilton Masakadza was still a schoolboy at Churchill High School in Harare when he set the record - since beaten by Mohammad Ashraful - of being the youngest batsman ever to score a century on his Test debut, at 17 years and 254 days. This was against West Indies in 2000-01 when, batting at No. 3, he scored 119 and saved the match.   Years have passed by and he was instrumental in Zimbabwe celebrating  their 100th ODI at the Harare Sports Club with a seven-wicket victory against Pakistan.  The success also ended Zimbabwe's 15-year wait for a win against Pakistan.

The Zimbabwe openers put up a century opening stand that set the platform for the chase. Hamilton Masakadza was the top-scorer with 85, while Sibanda also registered a half-century.  Set a target of 245, they reached it in style losing only 3 wickets.

Way back in Nov 1998 a much stronger Zimbabwe had beaten a classy Paki side.  Pakistan made 211 with a star studded batting line up of Saeed Anwar, Afridi, Aamer Sohail, Inzamam-ul-Haq,  Yousuf Youhana, Hasan Raza, Moin Khan, Azhar Mahmood, Wasim Akram ~ the other two being Saqlain Mushtaq and mohammad Akram.   Neil Johnson made a century as they won with 56 balls to spare. 
Hamilton and Shingi Masakadzas....

The MoM of yesterday’s match Masakadza has a younger brother who has also played for Zimbabwe - Shingi Masakadza,  is a fast-medium seamer.  He has so far played 3 tests and 11 One dayers

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kadai Ezhu Vallalgal - Angavai & Sangavai - Sivaji the Boss

Rajnikanth starrer ‘Sivaji- the Boss’ released in 2007 ran packed houses reportedly for 175 days.  The film begins with a masked person being brought to Central jail – the story narrated in   ‘in medias res’ artistic narrative technique…. the masked person is revealed to be Sivaji (Rajinikanth). It’s central theme was black money but Rajni upstaged the story……..  Patti Mandram [stage for literary discussions] is very popular in Tamil Nadu ~ two persons who are famous in this form acted in Sivaji but both roles brought some dishonour than fame….

Over centuries there have been Kings and Kings…. What set apart the famous  from others was their great virtues of valour and benevolence. There have been some Emperors known for their - benevolence, generosity, charity, humanitarianism, bountifulness, large-heartedness, magnanimity …… Tamil literature is ripe with Kings who were greatly appreciated for their philanthropy. Those benevolent donors were called ‘Vallals” in Tamil.  The Sangam era eulogies them as ‘Seven great donors’ [Ezhu vallalgal] ~ in fact there were 3 sets of them and this particular post is more about the ‘last set – popularly known as “Kadai-ezhu-vallalgal”’. 

Thirukovilur is famous for Sri Ulagalantha Perumal temple sung by Azhwars.  This place is associated with vallalgal.  The Kadai ezhu vallalgal were : “Thirumudi Kari, Paari, Valvil Oari, Adiyaman, Perumpeyar Began, Aai Andiran and Nalli” – the sangam literature while eulogizing their philanthropic quality lists out that :
  • Thirumudi Kari gave his horse and kingdom to Iravalas a tribe;
  • Paari vallal gave his chariot to support a creeper [mullaikku ther koduthon]; 
  • Valvil Oari gave his kingdom to the artists of Kollimalai.;
  • Adiyaman gave the  Nelli fruit to AVvaiyar;
  • Began gave a shawl to protect a peacock from exposure to cold.;
  • Aai Andiran gave the rare dress he obtained to Lord Shiva;
  • Nalli helped people who came to him for help in the forest without  revealing his true identity.
All of them were very generous, benevolent kings who felt that service to the people was their duty. The notable aspect was the avowed friendship between Kings and Scholars.  Scholars advised the Kings on correct way of ruling. During this period great poets like Kapilar, Paranar, Nakkeerar, Pisirandaiyar, Avvaiyar – all flourished.  The Kings respected and took great care of poets of wisdom.  Agriculture, industry, crafts, trade and arts flourished during this time thus spreading prosperity all around.  The Kings were concerned of the welfare of their subjects.  They did not erect statues of themselves but built Temples, Forts, Dams and more for the wellbeing of their kingdom. 

Malaiyamān Thirumudi Kāri was one amongst them, was a clan of Malaiyaman dynasty.  The Malaiyamān chiefs ruled over the Tirukoyilur area also known as Kovalur. It was a strategically important region located on southern the banks of the Pennar river.  There were battles of supremacy between the many kingdoms that existed

Pari was another vallal – the bestower of the Sangam era.  He was considered to be very modest King acquiring fame by leaving his chariot to allow the ‘mullai’ creeper to grow. "முல்லைக்கு தேர் கொடுத்தான் பாரி" .  He had two daughters by name -  Angavai and Sangavai  - who were also very good in literature and poetry.  They are referred in Purananuru also.  When Pari died,  these two daughters of Pari were taken care of by Kapilan who at a later point of time gave up life. Great poetess Avvaiyar took care of them and got them married to  king Malaiyamān Thirumudi Kāri, by some accounts. 

Quite unfortunate that in the supposedly comic scene “Vaanga Pazhagalam” Solomon Pappaiah introduces Sivaji to his daughters using not so decent language and those two daughters who are shown as black and somewhat ugly are named ‘Angavai and Sangavai’… Vivek’s dialogues are replete with vulgarity and do not befit the scene.  A person of Pappaiah’s caliber should not have acted in such a role denigrating two great poetesses of Sangam era.

Here is a newsitem that appeared in Dinamalar about the drama ‘Avvaiyar’ in which the characters of Angavai and Sangavai were depicted appropriately.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

26th Aug 2013

Indian Budget - the Finance Minister who first presented and ..... more

Lot has changed … things keep changing and only change is permanent.   Indian Budget used to be a great day in annual calendar….. the common man would queue up in petrol bunks filling up their mopeds [which had capacity around 3 litres] – hedging against petrol hike [remember those were the days when petrol hike would come only  in the budget speech; in the early 1990s everyone of us working in Insurance Companies listened to budget speech with rapt attention – for there were expectations of Insurance industry getting opened up… which did happen eventually much later….. further the FM would dwell at length on raising the IT limits – these would capture much space – would actually result in a couple of thousands of savings for salary earners in a higher bracket………. While a silent reference on cut in Excise duty on some specific item would result in profit in crore for some industrialists…... TVs would show the Finance Minister walking to the Parliament in the evening with a leather briefcase [yes for ages budget was presented in the evening – a colonial practice, till Yashwant Sinha changed it]….. a typical Quiz Q – Who presented free India’s first Budget ?

There is lurking doubt on whether the proposed or promised plans really materialize to benefit the citizens ??  Chennaites have heard PC and others speak on desalination plant for Chennai -  Years ago, as it was with  the surface and groundwater options either running dry or proving highly undependable, Chennai also looked towards the sea.  In 2008, the residents reacted with joy to the announcement of  allocation of  Rs 300 crore by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in his  budget for a mega sea water desalination project near Chennai under public-private partnership.  A few months back, water packaging industry went on strike when their plants were checked by authorities – the result – water in city costs more. 

On Nov. 26th 1947, RK Shanmukham Chetty, India’s first Finance Minister presented the first budget.  It covered only 7 and half months from Aug 15th the day of Independence to March 31, 1948.  Though New Delhi could have authorized the expenditure for the part of the financial year, a budget was indeed presented in the Parliament and approved.   Understand that the Budget Estimate for total revenues was Rs 171.15 crore; of which notably, Rs 15.9 crore was to come from the Posts and Telegraphs Department. It was to be a deficit budget of 26.24 crores.  The first budget of the Republic of India was presented by John Mathai on Feb 28, 1950.   This budget laid down the roadmap for the creation of the Planning Commission. The Commission was entrusted with the responsibility of formulating phased plans for effective and balanced use of resources. 

In 1987, the budget was presented by Rajiv Gandhi.  A decade later, P Chidambaram launched the Voluntary disclosure of Income scheme to bring out black money !

Now this report in TOI of date makes a sad reading…………………. Here it is reproduced :

At first glance, 81-year-oldJagadheesh could pass off as just another senior citizen battling loneliness at a private home for the elderly in the city. But a few minutes of conversation will convince one there is more than what meets the eye. Primary among them was an illustrious lineage. Grandson of the country's first finance minister R K Shanmukham Chetty, all Jagadheesh now owns are sepia-tinted memories of a sunny past.

The bachelor, who once lived in a 14-bedroom house in Coimbatore, now shares a hall in a Kilpauk home for the elderly with 22 others. "I have seen both extremes of a human being — poorest and richest. But I don't have regrets," says Jagadheesh, now known as Paul Jagadheesh after he converted to Christianity.  Jagadheesh says his family was traditionally wealthy. "My father operated four outlets of Burmah Shell, now known as Bharat Petroleum, in Coimbatore, owned Shanmuga Theatres and financed movies."

So, how did a family member of the man who presented independent India's first budget end up in a home for the elderly? "I am to blame. After joining college in 1933, I became a regular drinker and remained so for 50 years. I frittered away Rs 40 lakh of assets, including properties in Chennai, Ooty and Coimbatore, for imported alcohol and cigarettes," he says, wiping his spectacles.
His friends left after his wealth vanished. He was found unconscious in a Kilpauk park on August 3, 1998 by a family friend and taken to the old age home where he says he has finally found peace. "I gave up drinking and smoking 15 years ago. I don't ask my relatives to visit me or send money."

R K Shanmukham Chetty resolved the 'sterling crisis,' managing to get a huge amount from the then British administrators. He also served as the Diwan of Cochin. Says Jagadheesh: "My grandfather had a lot of determination. Nehru made him finance minister even though he was in the Justice Party."  He remains optimistic though the country is going through a financial crisis. "I believe our Prime Minister and finance minister can overcome this crisis as they are experts. Inflation doesn't mean the country is in crisis. It is a sign of the country's growth as a superpower as now even daily wage workers are earning more than Rs 500 a day," says Jagadheesh, closing the gate of the private home.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Aug 2013.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bovonto ~ Kali Mark against Pepsi - Coke... and Panneer Soda in pet bottle

It is almost end of the month of August but it is still very hot in Chennai – in the sweltering heat, a few minutes outsides leaves you parched.  You would think that an icy-cold soft drink is ‘a must’….  you go to any mall or any shop even it be a roadside one – you get the multinational branded Coke or Pepsi and can enjoy the chill bottled drink.  It might appear to be refreshing but actually it is not – it would neither reduce your thirst nor supplement you in any manner.  Loaded with sugar and devoid of any nutritional value, carbonated soft drinks can only do harm.  You can read that it contains – carbonated water, sugar, caffeine, phosphoric acid, caramel colour and natural flavouring but does not contain any fruit juice or fruit pulp, yes a fruit drink where fruit is not a component in any manner.   An occasional soft drink would be relatively harmless but not when it is consumed displacing nutritional food and beverage.  The soft drink corporations are aggressively marketing their products targetting children mostly through grand advertisements, movies – promoted by Cine stars and sportspersons.

In the world of - Cocoa Cola, Limca, 7 Up, LMN, Slice, Maaza, Mountain dew, Slice, Sprite, Mirinda, Thumsup, Pepsi and more…. would modern day children know that about 4 decades ago, the most selling carbonated drink was “Panneer Soda’ and ‘Goli Soda’………there were so many Soda manufacturers in each area – with big names such as Kali Mark,  Bovonto, Vincents and Mapillai Vinayakar.  Slowly most of them have been pushed out of the market, not only by aggressive campaigns of multi-nationals promoted by big and famous – the subjugation of desi drinks was by some cruel means too………. The industry earlier depended entirely on bottles – the bottles were costly measuring a sizable chunk of the product…. Slowly most of the bottles that went in to the market did not return – reportedly bougth and destroyed by vested interests.  The breakage of the bottle was literally  breaking the very backbone of the small time manufacturers who were ruthlessly eliminated to  capture market share.  The other technique was taking over popular brands including Parle.  Slowly Citra, Thums Up, Goldspot, Torrino, Double seven, Campa cola.. etc., went out of market.

That soda bottles were potent weapons – especially when it came to dispersing crowds by unruly rowdy elements – ‘soda bottle’ throwing was sort of an art – is altogether different dimension – nothing to do with this post…

Once upon a time, in this beautiful World, there used to be a drink called soda partnered by another variant ‘panneer’ soda (flavoured version).  In political meetings the speaker in the midst of  an enthralling speech,  would be offered a soda – the thirst quencher.  The ‘goli soda’ -  soda bottle would have a coloured marble which would serve as closer also was a pure carbonated water made into a fizzy effervescent drink  – while panneer soda was the most sweetened form.  

Away from the world of Pepsi & Coke, Bovonto is a soft drink popular in South India. It is manufactured and marketed by Kali Mark (Kalis Sparkling Water (P) Ltd.), which has offices and bottling plants at several locations in Tamilnadu. The drink is mildly carbonated and has a tangy grape-cola taste. Kali Mark has survived the onslaught of take-overs by multinational giants.  You may not get to see any advertisements for the product and the online presence is also minimal.   Understand that the product Bovonto came into existence in 1916, in Virudhunagar under Mr. P.V.S.K. Palaniappa Nadar. Bovonto entered the city of Bangalore, India, through a few Chettinad restaurants. Recently Kalimark group has reinvented itself with modern technology for production. The shape of Bovonto pet bottle was redesigned and production was increased.

For those who have tasted, Bovonto would give a run for Coke and Pepsi.  It is available in many stores in Chennai – perhaps priced slightly more but still selling in good quantity. It may not provide the facilities like refrigerators, façade make-up and more  that MNCs offer to their dealer – but still has a market share.  There is a good brand image and customer loyalty but very little of marketing, lacks economies of scale. Still Kalimark is a 100 crore + brand by some accounts. 

One always nurtures a fear that the panneer soda that is being sold in mofussil area may not have been manufactured of quality water….. the other day was happy to see that Kalimark has forayed into ‘pet bottles’ and a supermarket in Velachery had ‘Ginger beer and Panneer soda’ of Kali mark brand at a very competitive price.

Tailpiece : Panneer soda is more likened to the fragrant rose water and has nothing  to do with Paneer, the fresh cheese fondly eaten in Asia.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

26th  Aug 2013.

Indian Women claim Gold in Recurve Archery at Poland

It is a game with we need to get associated emotionally and historically – all our Ithihasa puranas hail those possessing this skill as great people ~ it is archery….

On July 22nd this year, I posted  ‘Most unlikely that we might be reading of this city founded in 1616 ~ Medellín’ …………  in a very similar fashion we are getting to know about Wroclaw, Poland…  Wroclaw is situated on the banks of river Oder  and is the largest city in western Poland and sixth largest metropolitan area in the country.  Wrocław is the historical capital of Silesia, and today is the capital of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship. At various times it has been part of the Kingdom of Poland, Bohemia, the Austrian Empire, Prussia, and Germany.

It is not history that we are getting to read but that of history repeating itself as the  Indian women repeated as World Cup champions in an upset over Korea, while the men’s medals were decided in exciting rematches of last year’s Olympic semi-finals.  The Indian trio of Laishram Bombayla Devi, Rimil Buriuly and Deepika Kumari won their second successive gold medal on Sunday [25th Aug 2013], defeating former world champion Korea 219-215 in the final of the recurve team event of the World Cup archery stage 4 at Wraclow, Poland.

The women’s final featured two teams that have been shooting at an incredible level this season: Antalya winner Korea against Medellin winner India. Korea was by far the strongest team during qualifications and elimination rounds this week. Since 2010, these teams have met seven times, and Korea led the victory count 5-2.  Indian team of Deepila Kumari,Devi Laishram and Rimil Buriuly were pitted against three Olympic gold medalists – Yun Ok-Hee, Ki Bo Bae and Chang Hye Jin.  The wind was a factor in the final, with unusual 7s on both sides. Nothing seemed to be able to separate the two teams, who tied during the first fifteen arrows. The final end would be decisive, when initial 6 by KI Bo Bae - who let down her bow - ended Korea’s hopes. Victory 219-215 and the second straight gold medal for India!

The Danish women were the surprising bronze medallists. Despite having lost all four previous encounters with Russia, they killed the match by taking an 11-point lead in the first end (53-42) after a disastrous performance by Russia under treacherous wind.  The men’s medal matches were rematches of last year’s Olympic semi-finals, and the scores were entirely different this time. For the gold, Korea, the dominant team of the 2013 season with victories in Shanghai and Antalya, faced the United States, who had deprived them of the Olympic final last year. It is the third World Cup victory this year for Korea in as many participations. The silver is an improvement for the United States whose best result so far this season had been a bronze medal in Medellin.

Earlier, the Indian women team won with modest scores against Indonesia, Mexico and Denmark before facing Korea which held a 5-2 lead over India in head-to-head contest since 2010.

To those new – there are many different kinds of bow shapes. However, most fall into three main categories: straight, recurve and compound. Straight and recurve are considered traditional bows. In archery, the shape of the bow is usually taken to be the view from the side.  A recurve bow has tips that curve away from the archer when the bow is strung.  It is a complex format – the World Cup Archery is in 4 stages being held for  recurve and compound divisions.  There were to be 4 legs with the last one just concluding at  Wroclaw, Poland.  The finals will take  place at Paris in Sept 2013.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26th Aug 2013.

Dipika Kumari and Co does it again... another Gold at Wroclaw Poland.

On July 22nd this year, I posted about Medellin in news to us because Indian women won gold in the third stage of the 2013 World Cup – Archery…… very similarly we are getting to  know Wroclaw, Poland……… yes
The Indian trio of Laishram Bombayla Devi, Rimil Buriuly and Deepika Kumari won their second successive gold medal on Sunday, defeating former world champion Korea 219-215 in the final of the recurve team event of the World Cup archery stage 4 at Wraclow, Poland.

photo courtesy :
More on this soon…..

Regards – S. Sampathkumar

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pay Property Tax Online at Chennai Corporation Web .. some useful tips.

The bustling metropolis ~ Chennai city which according to provisional results of 2011 census, has  4.68 million residents and a few more millions floating is  the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the country and 31st largest urban area in the world. Chennai's economy has a broad industrial base in the automobile, computer, technology, hardware manufacturing and healthcare sectors.  The city of Chennai is maintained by Corporation of Chennai.

The Corporation of Chennai (previously Madras) is the Oldest Municipal Institution in India established on the 29th September 1688. A charter was issued on the 30th December, 1607 by East Indian Company constituting the "Town of Fort St. George" and all the territories thereunto belonging, not exceeding the distance of ten miles from the Fort, into a Corporation.  There are various aspects including maintenance of roads; providing electricity, metro water; removal of solid waste etc., that are managed by the Corporation.  It is administered by the  200 councillors, headed by the Worshipful Mayor.  There are Deputy Commissioners and various Heads of Departments and 15 Zonal Officers at present.

Do you know that most of the transactions pertaining to Chennai Corporation  can be made “On line” through its friendly web :  ???

The need for prompt and timely payment of taxes by all the citizens need not over stated – for it is our responsibility as good citizens to pay tax promply.. There are the : Property Tax, Water tax; water charges etc.,  A property tax is a levy on property that the owner is required to pay. The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located.  The state list in the VII schedule of the Indian Constitution provides for the levy of property tax. The tax is designated as “Taxes on lands and buildings”. Property tax is by far the main stay of Municipal finance in the State. This tax possesses the essential characteristics of a good tax.  The three stages are : levy or declaration of liability; Assessment and collection.  All buildings and lands unless exempted under the statutes are liable to property tax.  In deciding liability – it could be on reasonable letting basis or capital cost basis.

Today I tried paying the Property tax online.. For this one need to log on to :

The Online payment does help us for one need not stand in queues and can pay at their convenient timing.  Further link to the digitized property data for computation of tax will eliminate scope for undervaluing the property for taxation purpose and this will ensure greater revenue mobilisation for the corporation. For making Online payment  of Property tax, one need to know their Zone No. ~ Ward No. and Bill No.  These details can be seen on your Property Tax assessment book.

Now a small hurdle….. there were earlier 10 Zones ~ now they are 15 in number.  Last time when I paid in Feb 2013, Triplicane [my street]  fell under Zone 6 – Ward no. 90.  Now it has changed…. It is Zone no. 9 [Teynampet Zone] and Ward No. 116…….  How does find out the new Bill no. without which payment cannot be made Online.  I got struck ~ and at 21.15 hrs, I telephoned the local Councillor……..  Councillor for Ward no. 116 is Mr B Srinivasan @ MGR Vasan – who is easily accessible on mobile and always politely and readily attend to the calls of public.  It was another pleasant interaction and he provided the telephone of the Corporation Official who also readily helped. 

On the website of CoC, on the Right hand side, One can find the link – Property Tax payment – upon clicking it leads to Property Tax New bill no. search – whereupon providing details of your erstwhile Zone / Ward no.  and the bill no. – you get your new Bill no.

Now you are armed with enough details, just click the Online Civic services on the LH side, and proceed with hassle-free experience of paying your Property tax Online through Credit / Debit card or Internet banking.

Pay your Taxes without delay…. Be a responsible citizen

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

23rd Aug 2013 @ 10.15 pm.

tidbits on US Open and the feat of Daniel Nestor

Another Grand Slam tournament got underway… it is the US Open - a hardcourt tennis tournament which is the modern iteration of one of the oldest tennis championships in the world, the U.S. National Championship, for which men's singles was first contested in 1881. Since 1987, the US Open has been chronologically the fourth and final tennis major comprising the Grand Slam each year; the other three are the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. It is held annually in late August and early September over a two-week period. The main tournament consists of five event championships: men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles, with additional tournaments for senior, junior, and wheelchair players. Since 1978, the tournament has been played on acrylic hard courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at New York City, New York, United States.

Technically, the  US Open has tie-breaks in every set, including the last set. The other three Grand Slam tournaments have tie breaks in every set other than the last set (i.e. the fifth set for men and third set for women), and therefore their last set continues indefinitely until a two-game lead is reached.  The Men and Women single are 128 draws – the winner takes home $1,900,000 and the runner gets $ 950,000; the losing semi-finalists get $ 475,000; those in the 1st round get $23000.
Photo courtesy : Davidwboswell  at en.wikipedia

In last year tournament [2012] - Djokovic and Samantha Stosur were the defending men's and women's champions respectively. Both were unsuccessful in their title defences; Stosur being narrowly defeated by World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals, and Djokovic defeated in the final by Andy Murray. Murray became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a Grand Slam singles title, and the first man to win both the US Open and the Olympic men's singles gold medal in the same year. In the women's draw, Serena Williams won her fourth US Open title, and first since 2008, by defeating Victoria Azarenka in the final.

This year, it is claimed that there will be more dining choices than ever before around the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, enhancing the US Open experience and ensuring that by the time fans leave, they’ll only be hungry for more tennis. A wide variety of globally- and locally-inspired menus and several new and innovative dining spaces have been added to create a truly unique and unparalleled culinary experience for fans. In addition, this year’s menu includes more than 40 percent of all produce locally-sourced from the region.  It is stated that there would be  250-person staff to serve guests at 60 concession stands, five restaurants, 100 luxury suites and the Player’s Lounge.

The tournament for sure would be colourful but it is going to be the green that would define the tournament.  The US Open Green Initiative, aimed at making the US Open responsible for its ecological footprint and creating a sustainable future, has become a recognized leader in green efforts at sporting events. Since the inception of the initiative in 2008, the USTA has diverted more than 850 tons of waste through recycling and composting, saved more than 1,100 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, offset enough electricity to power 600 homes for one year, recycled almost 1.5 million plastic bottles and entertained nearly 2 million fans who have arrived via mass transit. In 2012, the US Open’s Green Initiative diverted close to 50 percent of the waste from the landfill through recycling and composting.

It is claimed that green initiative at the 2013 US Open would include – putting the compost made from waste collected during 2012 US Open would be put use  to feed plants throughout the site at the 2013 US Open. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) will supply 605 metric tons of carbon offsets to offset the carbon emissions generated from player travel to the event as well as from the fuel consumed on-site to run the tournament. The USTA collects the tennis balls used during the matches and player practices to reuse in USTA tennis programs and to donate to various community and youth organizations throughout the United States. From the kitchens at the US Open, more than 12,000 gallons of food grease will be converted into biodiesel fuel. More than 180 tons of food and compostable plates, utensils and napkins will be collected to be turned into compost for landscape and farming uses. The USTA will continue to welcome 60 percent of its fans via mass transit. US Open tickets are printed on paper composed of 30 percent post-consumer waste, and parking books, parking visors and coupon books are printed on paper comprised of 10-15 percent post-consumer waste.

Now some news on the players-  Daniel Nestor became the first doubles player to reach the 900 match wins milestone, as he teamed up with fellow 40 year old Leander Paes for a 6-4, 6-4 win over Paul Hanley and John Peers on Wednesday night in the Winston-Salem Open quarter-finals. Nestor, who made his ATP World Tour debut as a 16 year old, has compiled a 900-358 match record and 80 titles over his illustrious career. He notched his first win in 1993 in Auckland, alongside Sebastien Lareau. Four players have reached the milestone in singles action:  Jimmy Connors (1253), Ivan Lendl (1071), Guillermo Vilas (929) and Roger Federer (910). Nestor and Paes are playing together for just the second time, after making their partnership debut in 1994 at The Queen’s Club.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

'Desh Shanti' detained illegally by Iran - on grounds of pollution...

In my post on Indian interest in Persian Gulf, I had started with - “Desh Shanthi” – would literally mean ‘peace of Nation’…but had not dwelt anything later…. Desh Shanthi is a ship which is troubled waters making news !

Photo courtesy :

We read so much about pollution now-a-days. Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change.  Pollution can be caused by chemical substances, noise, heat, or light.  Pollutants, the source can be either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants.  Many water bodies are polluted ~ water pollution is the contamination of water bodies  occurring due to pollutahts directly or indirectly discharged into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds. Water pollution affects plants and organisms living in these bodies of water. Petrol / oil slick is a major threat to water bodies. 

The UN and European sanctions on Iran and subsequent non-support of reinsurance has affected coverage and eventually import of crude from IranIndia has been a major consumer from Iran and the trade relations between the Nations have been good….. but for this incident -  recently, Iranian naval authorities detained an Indian oil tanker carrying Iraqi oil through the Persian Gulf on its way to India.  The  vessel in news is ‘MT Desh Shanti’ a 158,030- DWT oil tanker built in 2004,  owned by the Shipping Corporation of India ~ Iranian authorities  allege that  the Suezmax crude-oil tanker was polluting Iranian waters, though the company denies the allegation. Suezmax tankers are medium-sized oil tankers capable on average of carrying 1 million barrels of oil. Further the ship owners claim that the ship was not in the vicinity of Iranian water."

Reports quoting Nima Pourang, head of the maritime pollution department of the Iranian Environment Protection Organization, stated that the tanker had been detained because it discharged its oily ballast water 30 miles away from Iran's Lavan island, in Persian Gulf. That discharge, "caused a 10-mile length oil stain on the sea," and experts from Iranian ports were inspecting the tanker, he told Fars. The Marine Traffic commercial ship-tracking website showed the company's MT Desh Shanti vessel, at 0605 GMT Thursday, was traveling southeast at a speed of 11.5 knots off Iran's coastline in the Persian Gulf.

Indian authorities state that Iran has detained the ship without any provocation, especially when the United Nations Convention of the Laws of the Sea 1982 guarantees passage of the ship. Iranian vessels had been given blanket permission to sail in Indian waters after sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United Nations on Iranian crude imports made it nearly impossible for Indian vessels to get protection and indemnity cover. The latest development has taken the shipping industry by surprise. Most are reading this as a pressure tactic by Iran to discourage India from importing crude oil from other countries. India had considerably brought down its crude purchases from Iran following the sanctions and the cargo, if at all, was being brought in Iranian vessels only. Earlier this year, the SCI also decided to dissolve its joint venture with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line, Irano Hind Shipping. The purpose of the JV in 1970s was to boost economic ties between the two countries.

  It is learnt the SCI’s ship had received the clearance from the port state control officer before leaving Iraq.  The detention and the act of Iranian Revolutionary Guards getting on board the vessel have become a great cause of concern for the Nation.  Reacting angrily to the virtual hijacking of the Indian oil tanker MT Desh Shanti by Iran, New Delhi has provided proof that the ship was at least 400 nautical miles away from the area it is being accused of polluting. The ship was forcibly intercepted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the Persian Gulf last week and taken to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. New Delhi has also told Tehran that the charge that oil spill from MT Desh Shanti polluted Iranian waters was absurd because the vessel was not carrying any crude at that time. In fact, the ship was carrying sea water as ballast when the IRGC intercepted it in international waters and forced the captain to move it towards Bandar Abbas.

These make it apparent that Tehran is trying to bully New Delhi unsatisfied with the decrease in quantum imports.  As a natural corollary, India had to move towards Iraq and this is more unacceptable to Iran. More worrying news were to follow as after the impasse of illegal detention, there are reports suggesting that Iran wants $1m as guarantee money for releasing the tanker.

All along India had considered Iran a friendly country with good trade relations and had supported despite UN Sanction but still are facing this conflict.   The Wall Street Journal quoted an official of the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) on Wednesday as saying that Tehran wanted the guarantee money as compensation for the environmental damage allegedly caused by the ship. Maintaining that the detention was purely a technical issue, Iranian authorities continue to insist that the ship caused widespread pollution in Iranian waters on July 30,while it was on its way to Iraq. Iran claims that they followed the alert of the Bahrain based Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC).

Here is something more on the Insurance angle extracted from……  the demand by Iran for a letter of undertaking worth $1 million to release an Indian ship has put the ship’s owner and its insurer in a tight spot and could well test the sanctions regime imposed by Western governments on the West Asian country.  The article states that in shipping insurance, such letters are always given by the ship’s insurer.  MT Desh Shanti, the detained double hull tanker owned by Shipping Corp, was reportedly  insured with The Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association (Bermuda) Ltd.  The Steamship Mutual is a member of the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs (I G Clubs).

The letter of undertaking would guarantee payment for clean-up operations and to me it contradicts our stand that the vessel was not polluting.  Western nations imposed sanctions on Iran because they suspect Tehran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is intended for peaceful purposes. The European Union has banned the purchase, transport, finance and insurance of Iranian oil since  July 2012. Following the ban, IG Clubs has stopped providing third party liability cover to ships transporting Iranian crude. The 13-member IG Clubs, a London-based group, insures close to 95% of the world’s tankers against claims involving pollution damage and wreck removal. Each of its members is termed an IG Club. The news report also states that IG Club could give such a letter of undertaking if the voyage was not covered under sanctions.  MT Desh Shanti was carrying Iraqi crude and is not subject to sanctions. “In such a case, it would be treated like any other voyage, provided there are no international sanctions against the country asking for the letter of undertaking. Here, the case is complicated because there are sanctions against Iran which has sought the letter of undertaking.

For Insurers as also for most other entities, there has to be a legal mechanism even when they chose to pay and recipient has to be an approved party.  The Insurers might find it too difficult to consider any payment until the legality of the detention and the cause of the same is established.  This time as the proverbial ‘devil and deep-sea’ ~ Indian vessel  is entangled in the “cross-fire” of a border dispute between Iran and Iraq.

India is the world’s fourth-largest oil importer and was until June 2012 the second biggest customer of Iran, the world’s fifth biggest oil producer. Iran has been struggling to sell its crude in the face of sanctions. Iraq has now overtaken Iran as the biggest supplier of crude to India.
 Ms Praneet Kaur, Minister of State MEA receiving Iraqi PM
At a time when the impasse is troubling India,  Iraqi PM Nouri Al Maliki landed on a 3 day official trip.   Official statement would read that the two countries are keen to enhance their economic relations and are looking to sign an agreement on energy cooperation during what is the first visit at this level by a leader of either country in 38 years.  The visit is the first high-level bilateral trip in 38 years. Then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi visited Iraq in 1975.  Iraq seeks to become the highest supplier of crude to India

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Aug 2013.