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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Welcome New Year 2015 - celebrate, party, enjoy - in a saner way !!!

Just a day to go - it is time to rollick and celebrate.  Before we (in India) could do that people of Kiribati would be enjoying.  The New Year celebrations around the World are far varied and widespread.  In Australia spectacular New Year Eve fireworks are burst. Many other countries plan  massive pyrotechnic displays.  People venture to islands, go for sky walk,  para-glide,  plan their party in Ships, night time bash in star hotels charging differently for couple and stags and champagne might flow unabated, hearing DJs blare favourtie tunes,  dance floors with celebrities,  ..  Revelries, dance, consuming whatever one desires, being with whomsoever they adore, making merry – all are individual’s wish and reach.  In many apartments, people get together to enjoy food, music and friendship.   Enjoy and make merry – it is individual desire and way of reacting to events.

Love it or hate it, many people  feel compelled to count in the New Year at midnight, whether celebrating at a party or freezing outside watching fireworks.  In the Gregorian calendar, New Year's Eve , is on December 31. In many countries, celebrations generally go on past midnight into January 1 (New Year's Day). The island nations of Kiribati and Samoa are the first to welcome the New Year while Honolulu, Hawaii is among the last. Vaanam  movie’s  story revolved around the lives of five individuals from different walks of life. Cable Raja (Silambarasan) living in a slum bemoans his poverty and wishes to become rich by marrying his girlfriend Priya (Jasmin Bhasin). He cons her into believing he is well off, and adopts a well-bred persona in front of her. When he is asked by Priya to buy high-priced passes to a New Year's Eve gala, he finds himself severely short of money. After a failed attempt at chain snatching and crossing paths with the police, he heads to a hospital with theft on his mind……..

Let 2015 unleash a million reasons to smile!  In one posh hotel in the City, the  New Year extravaganza offers beverages - Whisky - Chivas Regal 12 years and Ballantine's; Vodka – Absolut; Rum – Bacardi; Red Wine - Jacob's Creek Cabernet Shiraz – all for an early bird couple price of Rs.7999/- only – there are hundreds of restaurants in Chennai city itself and all of them could be full !  On  New Year eve, the average Briton calls it a night at 01:38am, people in Russia party through the night and stay up the latest in the world, according to data gathered from hundreds of thousands of Jawbone Up wearers.  Last year, as  Britain celebrated the beginning of 2014, pictures taken revealed  many  woken with a very sore head next morning and some may even had to sleep in a police cell or a hospital bed. From Swansea to Manchester, Birmingham to London, and Liverpool to Newcastle, partygoers were drunk and dishevelled as they spilled out of bars, clubs and parties and onto the streets last night.  And in some instances they ended up on the wrong side of the law, with Scotland Yard revealing that 100 people were arrested for drunken, violent or sexual crimes during the celebrations in central London. Meanwhile Ambulance trusts said they received one phone call every 15 seconds that  night as they dealt with the results of excessive drinking.  It was worried that alcohol  abuse is increasing more rapidly among young women in Britain than anywhere else in the Western world. Twice as many women from 18 to 24 as men are drinking at danger level or above. As a result, official figures show an alarming increase in the number of young women developing serious liver disease.

Chennai is no different – the Buhari hotel would get spruced  up for the late night bash –at  midnight, group of youth would gather on roads, drink, drive crazily, shout and  disturb, annoy, rattle, enrage and even cause harm to others……….  What is this about and what would this merriment provide to any body ?  Everybody knows that drunken driving causes majority of accidents during New Year Eve and most claims are viewed with suspicion by the Insurers when they are reported closer to New Year.  The City Police keeps a big patrol on road.  Nearly 10,000 police personnel would be deployed on security duty for New year celebrations in the city.  A couple of years back unsavoury incidents took place in Mumbai beach on New year Eve ~ sure most of us have forgotten.

As  large number of people would throng the beach front, traffic restrictions and changes would be imposed in the Marina and East Coast Road, the favourites spots for the revelleries. Beach road, Marina beach, Elliots beach, ECR, Mount road are some of the places where some incidents and some accidents get reported every year.   Besides the road accidents, Chennaites should remember the grisly incident at a famous hotel a couple of years ago.  On that fateful day, the makeshift dance floor on swimming pool collapsed killing 3 of the revellers and injuring few more.  The year before last,  five fatal accidents and 22 non-fatal ones were reported from across the city.  Police had to be lenient and were not booking people for over-speeding or drunken driving – thousands of cops were on the streets – but are not human lives and limbs precious.. are there not better ways of ushering in and celebrating New Year.

A few decades ago, New Year would usher in with hundreds of ‘Greeting Cards’ personally written wishes from relatives and friends that would make one happy.  That was the time when people thronged Post Offices for Post cards, Inland letters and covers – are they still in use ? – then e-mail took over ; now even sending e-mail is considered old-fashioned in the era of Facebook, twitter and other medias.  How many of us know the price of a Post card or Inland leter…

So, Welcome the New Year 2015 – enjoy and make merry – be cautious on thy self and care for others also.  On Jan 1, 2014, as I walked in Marina beach in the morning – saw this bike, parked ….. nothing amiss and perhaps some people would not have watched it at all……  ~ a closer look – would reveal – it is parked on the wrong side – is damaged and is left unattended  – most probably its rider was drunk, drove wild, caused an accident, injured himself, perhaps injured somebody else too…… could have been hospitalized – not knowing where the vehicle presently is and perhaps for some more hours none would care for….

If you felt this post to be too cynical…. You must read this report in The Hindu, Chennai edition last year  too before deciding ……………. - After two years of fatality-free New Year celebrations, the city and its suburbs witnessed five deaths in road accidents on New Year’s eve on Tuesday. Rash driving proved fatal for some of the revellers. P. Ramprasad (19), an engineering student, died after his bike rammed a lorry on the Sardar Patel Road flyover. He and his friend Saravanan, who was riding pillion, were headed to Besant Nagar beach. While Ramprasad died on the spot, Saravanan sustained injuries. In another accident, Ramanarayanan (42), an employee at a hotel in M.K.B. Nagar, died after the two-wheeler he was riding was knocked down by a lorry near Basin Bridge. He was on his way to Washermenpet to celebrate New Year with his friends. Lorry driver Muthuvel (32) was arrested and remanded. The accidents on New Year’s eve kept the staff at government hospitals on their toes. The casualty ward of Rajiv GandhiGovernment General Hospital received a total of 69 cases since midnight.

Every New year spells trouble for the Police and law-abiding citizens. In the melee, Police are lenient and generally do not book  people for over-speeding or drunken driving – more than 18000 cops were on the streets – Are  not human lives and limbs precious.. are there not better ways of  celebrating the  New Year. Is there real need for continuing the legacy of the colonial rule ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th Dec 2014.

End of a Saga ... MS Dhoni retires from Test Cricket !

Not a great day for Indian Cricket. End of a saga !!   Indian sports fan [read Cricket fan] is often fickle minded …. Critics have been braying for his blood ~ and would have cried for more, had India lost at Melbourne,  he ensured that Team salvaged a draw and ……..came the dramatic announcement.

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.  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 was as  dramatic as his exit now 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.  

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (7th July 1981) the best finisher in limited overs cricket,  has come a very long way since he made his debut in Dec 2004 against Bangladesh and played his first test a year later. The Vice-President of a big Corporate,  has interests in a IPL team, coowns Indian Super League Team Chennaiyin FC; racing team and Hockey team too.  He has been a recipient of many awards including ICC ODI player of the year; Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna; Padma Shri….. and more – the man who  captained India to glory in T20 WC 2007 and WC 2011 – has chosen to retire from Test Cricket – midway during the Tour – with immediate effect. 

Life can be so uncertain – a fall to disgrace from top can happen so suddenly.. every arm-chair critic wagged  his tongue and harsh words were  flowing unabated. True, the team has not been performing well  overseas but people have been rather harsh in their criticism choosing choicest adjectives calling for his head.  There was a time when most felt that his moves are so apt that nothing can go wrong – not any longer  !!! It was a meteoric rise for one born in Ranchi – a keeper batsman, unorthodox in his methods and unkempt in looks at that time to aspire playing for the Nation itself was a dream but he rose to become its  Captain shortly after his debut in Dec 2004 (ODI) and a year later in Tests.  While many would reel out his statistics of Tests, ODIs, T20s – here is something from a tour to Kenya which catapulted him to the big league – remember seeing him a fearless youngster making runs fast in the Tri Nation tournament held at Kenya.  That innings on 16th Aug 2004 at Gymkhana Club Nairobhi, a sensational 120 off 122 balls with 10 fours and 2 sixers catapulted him to National fame.  In Nairobi, he played alongside – Gambhir, DS Jadhav, Amit Bhandhari, Powar, Bahutule, S Sriam, Venugopal Rao, Avishkar Salvi,  and where are others ?  

There was a time when  management gurus and researchers were trying to map MS Dhoni's brain so they can understand how India's most successful captain's mind works - how he manages to synchronise his thoughts into ideas and then into deeds. One of India's leading business schools wanted to use the research as part of a neuromanagement course they planned to introduce.  At Sydney, he will not be there – India will take long to find a replacement and at some point of time, people will lament his absence calling for the head of the replaced skipper. All that happens in life and Cricket too. 

The stress of modern day is far different – MSD played Tests, ODIs, T20s, IPL, CLT20 and had more things to manage.  It certainly is beyond realms of ordinary minds to keep smiling and hitting as he lead India to No. 1 position in Tests, lifted the T20 & ODI WC; IPL title (twice) and the Champions League Twenty20. Dhoni has the onerous task of leading four teams, that had so many different players from far different places. A captain, a man-manager,a strategist, a wicketkeeper, a brand ambassador, and an idol for most aspiring Cricketers.

His impact was felt on silver screen too.  Dhoni, a film written and directed by Prakash Raj,  simultaneously made in Tamil and Telugu was released in 2012.  The nucleus was on the conflict between  a father and his son;  with the son aspiring  to become  famous cricketer like Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Those of us following Indian Cricket know too well that many Captains went down humiliated.  Some like S. Venkatraghavan for no fault theirs.   Ajit Wadekar first showed that India can win Overseas – first at W Indies and then at England – and in 1974, Team performed so poorly that the team was so badly treated on arrival at the airport.   Sunil Gavaskar  was booed for his defensive captaincy at Eden Gardens; team bus was stoned after a loss to West Indies and fruits were thrown at Gavaskar  that he vowed not to play at Eden Gardens.  Bishan Bedi was dumped after that Pak tour in 1978.   The greatest all-rounder Kapil Dev lost his captaincy in 1984 and Azhar meted harsh treatment to him towards the end.  Azhar played 99 tests and ended with charges of match-fixing.  Sachin was unable to cope up with the pressures of Captaincy. 

The strong man MS Dhoni had on earlier occasions demanded rest and now has taken a considered decision to retire (midway !)  – sure, India will miss him.  Statistically, Dhoni played 90 Tests in which he scored 4876 runs at an average of 38.09, with six hundreds and 33 fifties. He captained India in 60 of those Tests, winning an Indian record 27 matches while losing 18 and drawing 15.  He took 256 catches and 38 stumpings adding to 294 test dismissals, the 5th highest among Wicketkeepers and best by an Indian thus far.   Dhoni's retirement comes with him one defeat away from equalling the record for most away defeats as captain - 16 - held by New Zealand's Stephen Fleming and West Indies Brian Lara.

Dhoni, the man has certainly left an indelible impression ~ from the time I started following  Cricket – Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev,  Krish Srikkanth, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni stand out as class apart …….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th Dec 2014.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Is there remote chance of an Indian win at Melbourne .. Ishant's 300 wickets !

A test cap is what people yearn for ! – at Melbourne, alongside Joe Burns another 22 year old, got his chance and batted at number six though he  had never batted at that position even  for his state side in domestic cricket – and when he got out – ‘Stupid, irrational and suicidal’  were just some of the adjectives that were used to describe his debut innings.  In many ways, it was a position of comfort – a great stand of 262 had weakened and demoralised Aussie bowlers and he was to play a spinner. Perhaps  the occasion got the better of him – he was dropped once and yet got out the next ball.
photo credit :

Before that can you identify this person – she is a promising batswoman – hailed as the future of English Cricket ?

For the Indian fan, what will happen tomorrow …. Is there not a remote chance of an Indian win ? – will India try and play for a draw – would they go “allout” or would they be all-out !!! – the possibilities are unlimited and some exciting at Melbourne.  -  Possible rain; possible overnight declaration and challenging target, Indian batsmen freezing ….. . The Border-Gavaskar Trophy is not yet quite secured.  What would Steven Smith and the coach Darren Lehmann think to be an ideal target – will they play it safe or try to foster a win ?  Australia, for sure will have the Adelaide Test in the back of their minds on the final day in Melbourne, where they will begin the morning with a lead of 326 and three wickets in hand. Aggressive declarations are not unknown to the Australians but they will look for further runs on the fifth day, with a draw enough for them to win the series and India having shown solid chasing form in the first Test. On a deteriorating drop-in pitch at Adelaide Oval, India were set 364 and were bowled out for 315, Virat Kohli's century not quite enough as Nathan Lyon bowled Australia to victory.

So tomorrow offers great prospects to the eternally optimistic Indian fan !!!!

KL Rahul became the 284th Indian to don the Test cap. The Karnataka opener was called up for the Boxing Day Test against Australia, ahead of Suresh Raina, Naman Ojha and Wriddhiman Saha and dropping the immensely talented Rohit Sharma. Rahul was picked in the squad  after scoring tons of runs in domestic and touted as a batsman for the future.  The Indian team has done well to hand a cap to KL Rahul, the 22-year-old Karnataka opener with an eye on the future. He did get out playing recklessly – still one hopes that he makes amends in the 2nd essay and in the other opportunities. Now a days there are not many from Karnataka – Roger Binny was the earlier one – unlike yesteryears, when Bombay, Karnataka and Delhi dominated the scene.

At Melbourne, Ishant Sharma joined an elite list of those Indians who have more than 300 International wickets.  For once, I was bowled- thinking it to be 300 club in Tests which has Anil Kumble 619; legendary Kapil Dev 434; Harbhajan singh 413 and Zaheer Khan 311.   It actually is 300+ International wickets i.e., Test + ODI + T20 wickets which still has Kumble on top with 953; followed by Harbhajan 690; Kapil 687; Zaheer 597; Javgal Srinath 551; Agarkar 359; Irfan Pathan and Ishant Sharma 301….. and B Venkatesh Prasad 292.

Getting back to the olden days in Oct 1996, when India played South Africa at home, Sujith Somasundar walked with Sachin Tendulkar and that team had – Somasundar, Rahul Dravid, J Srinath, Sunil Joshi, Anil Kumble and Venkatesh Prasad from Karnataka  (6 in playing X1) .  In June 1982 at Headingley, Leeds  - Sunil Gavaskar’s side had Ghulam Parkar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sandip Patil, Ravi Shastri,  Suru Nayak  (6/11) – besides Viswanath, Yashpal, Kapil, Kirmani & Madanlal.

The photo at the start is that of Nat Sciver, 22 year old, considered to the future of England Cricket and hailed as a great hitter.  Sciver grew up playing football before switching careers to cricket – MailOnline reports that  Natalie, or Nat, Sciver was born in Tokyo and played football in a Polish youth league before taking up cricket. Sciver, 22, is a batting all-rounder good enough as a seam bowler to take a hat-trick in a Twenty20 international against New Zealand.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

29th Dec 2014.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Air Asia plane QZ8501 goes missing ! over Java sea ..

Perhaps all is not well with aviation this year 2014.  Reports suggest that Indonesian authorities launched then suspended for the night an air search for an AirAsia plane carrying 162 passengers and crew after it lost contact Sunday morning with air-traffic control. As night fell in Asia, Indonesian officials said they had spotted no sign of the plane in the area over the Java Sea but had to stop their search, hampered by bad weather and darkness. Flight QZ8501 — an Airbus A320-200 jet — was bound for Singapore but lost contact – the break in communications is reported to have occurred 42 minutes after takeoff from the Indonesian city of Surabaya and roughly an hour before its scheduled landing at Changi Airport, Indonesian authorities said.

AirAsia Berhad is a Malaysian low-cost airline headquartered near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. AirAsia group operates scheduled domestic and international flights to 100 destinations spanning 22 countries. AirAsia was built up from two planes in 2001 to an airline industry that operates more than 180 jets in just over a decade but now faces its biggest ever challenge.  Its dream run appears to have run sour with the reported missing of airbus 320 with 160 people on board.  The fate of the aircraft alongwith its occupants remains a mystery more than 16 hours after it disappeared in violent weather, authorities said.

Indonesia called off the air search for the night at about 7 a.m. ET- according to an official with the country's search and rescue agency and the search would resume at dawn tomorrow 29th Dec 2014.  "We don't dare to presume what has happened except that it has lost contact," said Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia's acting director general of transportation. Minutes before the plane disappeared from radar, the pilot asked air traffic control for permission to avoid a cloud bank by turning left and going higher, to 34,000 feet, Murjatmodjo said. "It's hard to say if 34,000 feet would have been enough" Roys said. "We know the thunderstorms were very tall, very high up. They could have encountered severe turbulence, strong wind sheer, lightning and even icing at that altitude."

A statement puts that the plane has six Indonesian crew, a French crew member and 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant. Among the passengers are three South Koreans, a Singaporean, a Malaysian and a Briton. The rest are Indonesians, the statement said. At Surabaya's Juanda International Airport, dozens of relatives sat in a room, many talking on mobile phones, crying and looking dazed as the hours dragged on without additional news. As word spread, more and more family members arrived at the crisis centre awaiting official announcement.   Another Indonesian official is quoted as saying that the plane is believed to have gone missing somewhere over the Java Sea between Tanjung Pandan on Belitung island and Pontianak, on Indonesia's part of Borneo island.

In its International fallout, Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, tweeted his condolences. In Washington, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said President Obama had briefed on the lost plane and that " White House officials will continue to monitor the situation."

AirAsia, which has dominated cheap travel in the region for years, has never lost a plane. The plane's captain reportedly had had a total of 6,100 flying hours.  The plane, with registration number PK-AXC, had its last scheduled maintenance Nov. 16, airline officials said.  Worldwide, 3,606 A320s are in operation, according to Airbus.  Other newsagencies report that this is the third major air incident for Southeast Asia this year.  One would not forget MH370, the Malaysian Airlines flight Boeing 777 that went missing soon after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. It remains missing with 239 people in one of the biggest aviation mysteries. This year also saw another Boeing 777 also Malaysia Airliner shot down at Ukraine when 298 people were killed.

Despite being the largest and most expensive search in aviation history, there has been no confirmation of any flight debris, resulting in many unofficial theories about its disappearance of MH 370.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Dec 2014.
photo credit "

Virat Kohli Ajinkya Rahane 262 partnership - Boxing Day and Pongal Day

At Melbourne on day 3 at draw of stumps, Indians are 462/8 trailing Aussies by 68 runs – sound pretty healthy, though the danger is not yet totally gone, considering the fact that we have folded in a couple of sessions in day 5.  It was a good day as close to 4 hours, Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli stood together after Murali Vijay had played his part.  The stand was a massive 262, India's highest stand outside Asia in the last 10 years.  After grand centuries by both the batsman, there was another slide – from 147/3 to 409/3 … Rahane fell, then the debutant Kannaur Lokesh Rahul played in uncharacteristic fashion throwing his wicket followed by Dhoni and Ashwin and eventually Kohli at 462/8.  The byline cliché – ‘it could have been better’ !!!
photo credit : BCCI tv

After scoring his third Test hundred of the tour, Virat Kohli brought his attacking form to the press conference too, saying he was left with no good reason to respect Mitchell Johnson and some of the other Australia players after verbals flew "throughout the day" at the MCG.  Cricinfo reports that the squabbling reached its peak when Johnson fielded in his follow-through and threw back at the striker's stumps. Unlike with Mohammed Shami and Steven Smith on day one, there was a genuine case for Johnson trying to run Kohli out, and the throw was headed for the stumps when it hit Kohli, who was trying to get back into his crease. Kohli believed it was an attempt to hit him and an argument ensued, which needed the intervention of the umpires. "I was really annoyed with him hitting me with the ball, and I told him that's not on," Kohli said. "'Try and hit the stumps next time, not my body.'
Kohli said this attitude from Australia helped him play better, which he said might be one of the reasons why five of his nine hundreds have come against them. – hopefully, Indians salvage a draw by extending some more time on day 4 – and not allowing Aussies to make quick runs and most importantly, do not fold on day 5.
As most know, this test at Melbourne started on Boxing day.  Boxing ~ pugilism is a combat sport – known as contest of strength, reflexes, speed and more… but can be quite nasty. Boxing Day perhaps has nothing to do with pugilism but traditionally the day following Christmas day when people would receive gifts from their employers known as Christmas box over there  … understand that it is most popular down under; but in South Africa, Boxing day was renamed to day of Goodwill in 1994. The Indian cousin to Boxing day tests at Melbourne  was ‘Pongal Tests’~ the matches at Chepauk which  has been in existence from imperial days – the first ever test here was in 1933-34 when Douglas Jardine played CK Nayudu led team.  Crowds have always come in large numbers  ~ it is not only the numbers – they are reputed to be most knowledgeable and appreciative………. 
Understand that the first ever Test match involving Boxing Day took place in 1950. Prior to that, Boxing Day at the MCG had been the domain of Sheffield Shield cricket, often the highly popular Victoria-New South Wales encounters.  Today, there is a report by Ashley Mallet that way back on Dec 26, 1866, the legendary Tom Wills pitted his team of Aboriginal cricketers against the Melbourne Cricket Club at the MCG. This game was the genesis of the nation's most-loved summer fixture, the Boxing Day Test, and the catalyst for Australian sport's first major overseas tour - the 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour of England.
Looking back, the last time Chepauk hosted a test was in Feb 2013 against Aussie and India won that match quite easily. Bhuvneshwar Kumar debuted in that match.  Sachin Tendulkar ending the day with 71 raised great expectations – next day, he got out adding just 10 more – but a double-century from Dhoni had eclipsed everything else. India had  dropped slow left-armer Pragyan Ojha (who has since been banned now!) preferring instead the off-breaks of Harbhajan Singh, who earned his 100th Test appearance against his favourite opponents.
For long – connoisseurs had the pleasure of seeing Pongal Tests at Chepauk – pitch for sure would assist spinners and surer still were the results. The famous Indian spinners would be virtually unplayable in the 4th innings.  In 1975 Andy Roberts and Gundappa Viswanath shared honours in a match which India was to win by 100 runs (massive in those days); in 1979 it was a good performance of Kapil Dev as India beat Windies led by Kalicharra...... and in the twilight of Viv Richards – India led by Ravi Shastri (his only Test as Captain) had 3 debutants : WV Raman, Ajay Sharma and Hiru.  Phil Simmons debuted for Windies.  At Chepauk in Jan 1988 -  India won an important toss, made 382. Hirwani took three of the five West Indian wickets to fall on the second day. On the third morning, Hirwani clean-bowled Vivian Richards with a googly  went on to  finish at  8 for 61; in the Second against a huge target of 416, Vivian Richard’s WI were dismissed in 40 overs.  Hirwani was the wrecker-in-chief again with 8 for 75 and overall match figures of 16 for 136.  Sadly, Chepuak was to become a batsmen’s paradise with hundreds and doubles flowing later……..
~ and statistically that Hirwani debut, Shastri led Test was the last Pongal Test.  Returning to Melbourne, in Test No. 812 in Dec 1977,  Indians led by Bishan singh Bedi were off to a worse start losing both the openers without a run on board.  The bowling attack was Jeff Thomson, Wayne Clark, JB (Sam) Gannon, Gary Cosier and AL Mann and the captain RB Simpson. Mohinder, Vishwanath, Vengsarkar and Ashok Mankad took the score to 256.  Craig Serjeant made 85, while rest Dyson, Coiser, Ogilvie, Simson, Toohey, Rixon went out cheaply and were bowled out for 213.  Chandrasekhar took 6 for 52.     In the second India made an imposing 343 with Gavaskar making 118.  Set an improbable 387, Aussies mustered only 164 giving Indians their first win – a big one at that.  The accomplishment of the first win in 12 tests in Australian soil was outrightly due to Chandra’s magical figures of 12 for 104 in the match. Then in 1981 Kapil Dev demolished Greg Chappel led Aussies for 83 taking 5/28 fashioning a remarkable win.   When will we see another spirited performance and another Indian win ?
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Dec 2014.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Thiruvallikkeni Thiruvizha – a Cultural fete – 2014.

Thiruvallikkeni Thiruvizha – a Cultural fete – 2014.

20th Dec 2014 provided entertainment and a chance to think of the glory of the land they live in, for the residents of Thiruvallikkeni – in the form of ‘Thiruvallikkeni Thiruvizha’ organized by Sri Ustav.  Through this festival they sought to celebrate the cultural heritage.  Culture, History, Religion, Heritage, Patriotism, Tradition, literature and the like can be founding points of greatness of a place – Triplicane has them all.

Here is the description found in an old book :  In the palmy days, vessels heavily masted and armed for defence sailed and gently reached  ________________ during July
-      Undulating sapphire sea
-      Line of white in surf upon shore
-      Strip of golden sand
-      Dark foliage
~ and the dash above is ‘namma Madras’ [aptly described by Azhwar as வந்துதைத்த வெண்திரைகள் செம்பவள வெண்முத்தம்] - the land of first territorial acquisition by British East India, even before Bombay was ceded and Calcutta was found.  ….. and much before that Madras existed our Triplicane.

Thiruvallikkeni  (Triplicane)  is  more ancient than the city of Madras.  This is the place located strategically closer (less than half a km) from the Marina beach off the Bay of Bengal owing its name to the sacred Lily pond (Thiru alli (lily) keni (pond) of Sri Parthasarathi Swami Temple, a great Vaishnavaite centre – brundaranya kshetram of the puranic scriptures.  According to Talboys Wheeler – ‘beyond south of Triplicane was native – where British had no dominion’ at that point of time. 

Triplicane is the land of Temples, the land visited by Swami Vivekananda, the land where Mahakavi Barathiyar, U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer, Maths Genius Ramanujam, legendary writer Sujatha lived.  One of the earliest hospitals – Gosha hospitals, and the earliest educational Institution Presidence Collge besides century old Hindu High School Kellet, NKT group of educational institutions exist. 

This year the Triplicane Cultural Festival was well organized by Mrs Uthra Sarang, Mrs Shobhana, Mr SR Parthasarathi and a group of enthusiastic volunteers.  There were stalls – there was competition for drawing kolam on the streets – a procession highlighting the culture.  An attractive podium was erected in front of theSri Parthasarathi Swami temple.  

The Chief Guest for the evening was Mr Sudhangan, well known Journalist, writer and TV anchor.  He started his career with Disaigal, worked in Kumudam, Junior Vikadan, Dinamani, Tamilan Express at various phase of career.  Has been a political analyst in many TV debate.  He lived in Triplicane and studied in Hindu High School.

The other guest was the nonagenarian (born in 1920) Dr. V.V. Ramanujam.  Versatile in Tamil, English, Sanskrit and Telegu, he has written many books and ran Sampradhaya magazine ‘Yathiraja Paduga’ for more than 3 decades.  He specialised in ‘Inorganic Chemistry’ – studied in Tulane University, New Orleans in 1958 and was honoured Sigma Chi (USA).  For years he taught in Loyola and Madras University and his lab manual ‘Inorganic semi micro qualitative analysis’ has seen many reprints.

Next was Sadagopan, fondly remembered for his depiction of ‘Mannar & Company’.  Chitralaya Gopu studied in Chingleput alongwith his friend Mr CV Sridhar.  He ran United Club – has penned dialogues for more than 60 movies including Kalayna Parisu, Kathalikka Neram Illai, Nenjil Or Aalayam, Ooty varai uravu, Galatta Kalyanam, Patti sollai thattathe and has directed 27 movies – the most famous being ‘Kasethan kaduvulada’ – the great hit ‘Jambulingame jadathara’ was sung by another famous Triplicanite Sri K Veeramani. He has been conferred with ‘Kalaimamani’.  He directed the serial ‘Washingtanil thirumanam’ too.  Mrs Lalitha, Cine and TV artiste, who is doing great work in Triplicane with her ‘Pasumai organisation’ in keeping the streets of Triplicane litterfree was also on the dias. 

Yours Truly dwelt at length on the glory of Triplicane.  Last year, I had spoken on 3 ladies who impacted the lives of many at Triplicane – they were Dr Mary Anne Dacomb Bird (Scharlieb) of Gosha hospital; Sister Subbulakshmi and Vai Mu Kothai Nayaki Ammal.  This year it was on a person whose letter during first World War to US President Woodrow Wilson asking to offer conditional support [only if UK were to agree to free india]

In the month of Margazhi, divine songs will reverberate and in all Vaishnava temples, Thiruppavai will be recited early morning.  In Sabhas, there will carnatic music festivals.  The sabha started in 1900 by Manni Thirumalachar – Sri Parthasarathi Swami Sabha of Tripicane is perhaps the pioneer sabhas.  As we walk in Raja Hanumantha Lalah Street from Pycrofts Road, as we pass Sri Kamakala Kameswari temple, an old building stands with name ‘Mani Aiyar hall’ – it belongs to Theosophical society.  It was here the 2nd conference of Madras Music Academy was held in 1930 which later paved way for margazhi uthsavs.  It is named after Dr Sir Subramania Iyer, the 1st Acting Chief Justice of Madras High Court.  It was Sri Aiyar who wrote to Woodrow Wilson !

On the banks of Buckingham canal, on the not used road, after Victoria hostel remains a red building where public have no access.  This place known as The Lodge in 1880 was the residence of Principals of College of Engineering which later shifted to Guindy.  Here lived Henry Davison Love of Royal Engineers who earlier worked in PWD, Railways and then became Principal of the Engg College. He wrote manual of Hydraulics and chronicled ‘Vestiges of Old Madras’ providing accurate details of our City from 1640-1800. 

There was group singing, bharata natyam on stage, a video on old and new Chennai, besides the aerial photography taken during last year fest. The programme was complete with the ‘Theru Koothu’ on ‘Krishnan thoothu’ by Kalaivani Nataka Mandram.  Triplicanites turned out in large numbers, enjoyed and encouraged the performances on stage. 

Kudos to the Organisers for the neat good show and the effort in promoting the culture.   

With regards ~  S. Sampathkumar

22nd Dec 2014.

PS :  This is not a summary of all events - covers mainly the procession and the stage function ..

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Madras High Court dismisses petition - the North South divide !!!!

India is a vast country with diverse traditions, different landscapes, different languages, culture and more – Unity in diversity is what India shines. In the land with a rich history, the capital was moved to Delhi in the early part of last century – and British built a new Secretariat building to house the Govt offices.  For administration, many  employees were brought into the new capital from distant parts of British India, including the Bengal Presidency and Madras Presidency.  It is a majestic building that is the administrative office – the Secretariat built in 1910s, is home to most important ministries of the Cabinet of India. Situated on Raisina Hill, New Delhi, the Secretariat buildings are two blocks of symmetrical buildings (North Block and South Block) on opposite sides of the great axis of Rajpath, and flanking the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's House).

The South Block houses the Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs.            The North Block primarily houses the Ministry of Finance and the Home Ministry. The terms 'North Block' and 'South Block' are often used to refer to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of External Affairs respectively.

Globally, the ‘North–South’  divide is broadly considered a socio-economic and political divide. Generally, definitions of the Global North include North America, Western Europe and developed parts of East Asia. The Global South is made up of Africa, Latin America, and developing Asia including the Middle East. The North is home to four of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.  While the North may be defined as the richer, more developed region and the South as the poorer, less developed region, many more factors differentiate between the two global areas.  The better off regions have better education, more resources, technology and political stability. 

In India too, often there is talk about ‘North South’ divide – to some, everyone hailing from below Vindhya region is ‘Madrasi’.  The divide can be extended further within Tamilnadu – as saying Chennai and its neighbouring parts are better cared for and have more resources than their southern neighbours.  Inside Chennai city – the southern part of Chennai is considered to be luxurious than the Northern part. 

Generally, North Indians are fond of chai (tea) while South Indians (with the exception of Keralaites) are fond of kapi (coffee).  Wholesale prices of Indian tea have been diverging sharply between North and South India this year. Prices at the auctions in South India have fallen sharply, even as those up north have held firm.  For the period up to September 2014, prices in North India averaged about Rs.145 a kg while those for the South averaged Rs.85 a kg, according to Tea Board data.

The dravidan parties of the State have been harping on this for some decades.  During the Nehru era, Annadurai stated that  the South, particularly Tamil Nadu, was being meted out step-motherly treatment while north India enjoyed the fruits of development . Vadakku vazhgirathu, therku theigirathu (The North thrives, the South wanes) may no more be relevant with the rapid progress of southern states in the present day,  but many still hold that perception.   There’ s no North-South divide asserted  the Madras High Court.  Read this interesting newsitem that appeared in Times of India of date.

The Madras high court yesterday  dismissed a “public interest petition“ that objected to the court granting four to five days of holidays for “north Indian“ festivals like Diwali, and imposed an exemplary cost of Rs.20,000 on the petitioner.  Slamming a journalist who filed the petition and accusing him of raising divisive issues for publicity , the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan said: “There is no north-south divide, but for the endeavours of persons like the petitioner, who seek to raise divisive issues only to gain publicity and create unrest among people. It is necessary for this court to come down with heavy hands .“

Petitioner V Anbazhagan, claiming that till a couple of decades ago the HC had been granting just a day’s leave for Diwali, said that because chief justices of the HC happened to be from north India they tried to thrust northern culture on the people of TN. Granting four days of holidays in November 2015 for Diwali is unnecessary and it makes advocates jobless and affects court work, he said. Not more than one day should be declared a holiday for Diwali, he said.

Rejecting his contention, the first bench said the court’s calendar had been prepared after a lot of deliberations. “Whether advocates are rendered jobless or not is not the concern of the petitioner, as advocates and their representatives are consulted during the framing of the calendar. ” the judges said. The petitioner cannot set the calendar of the court by raising a divisive issue “of mythological nature”, they said. As for the PIL’s averment that senior judges were being brought from Northern states, they said: “It is immaterial who presides over this court as chief justice. That is an instant of policy of having an outsider as CJ, possibly to have greater national amalgamation.” Noting that India was a country with various cultures, they said: “All these cultures together form the nation. It should not segregate the country by raising divisive issues.” They asked the petitioner to deposit the cost within 15 days at the mediation centre of the court.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Dec 2014.

crime photo that makes one quaver - robbed at knife-point !!!

Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take anything of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear. Among the types of robbery are armed robbery involving use of a weapon and aggravated robbery involving use of a deadly weapon or something that appears to be a deadly weapon. Highway robbery or "mugging" takes place outside or in a public place such as a sidewalk, street, or parking lot.  For long one thought, that certain forms do not take place in India, especially in places like Chennai – for example mugging in public places – though cases of chain snatching gets reported, robber threatening public in common people have been extremely rare (or so one thought !)

A search in web revealed that at Port Chester, a Chase Bank branch at N. Main Street was robbed.  Police stopped a Grand Central-bound Metro-North train to search for the suspect. Port Chester police said that a man, black, thin, around 25 to 35 years old and wearing a tan jacket and a dark cap, robbed the bank of about $1,700 by handing a teller a note. No weapon was shown and an alarm was activated.  At Denville, there was a report of a township woman being robbed at knifepoint by a masked man.   Reports state that the victim was getting out of her car about 6:30 p.m. when the suspect approached and demanded her purse. She held on to the purse as he grabbed it; but after a brief struggle, he pulled the purse from her, police said.

In our Chennai city, this incident sends a shiver in the spine.  A woman was threatened at knifepoint and robbed of her gold jewellery near her house in Thoraipakkam.  A footage of the crime is getting circulated in social media and newspaper sites; the  police are yet to identify the suspect while the victim is yet to recover from the shock.

The footage, shows the robber, armed with a huge knife, threatening the woman, Velam Senthil (39), a school teacher. The robbery took place around 2.30 p.m. on 21.12.14.  Ms. Senthil, a resident of MCN Nagar, Second Lane, was going home when the robber rammed his motorcycle into her two-wheeler. He also had an accomplice. As the woman fell on the road, the robber, a well-built man, was upon her, and threatened to kill her if she did not hand over her jewellery. The video footage, recorded on a mobile phone by a person living in a house near the crime scene, shows the woman removing her jewellery and watch, shivering in fear, even as other motorists zoom past.

After further threatening the woman, the robber and his accomplice are seen speeding away on their motorcycle, even as the shell-shocked victim pushes her two-wheeler home.  The victim was reluctant to approach the police in fear of the robber. Residents of MCN Nagar alerted the police control room about the robbery ~ while a person could take video footage for close to 2 and half a minute, none chose to alert the neighbours / police, shout, organise, chase or do anything to stop the incident.  Or is that practically what people can do ? – may be the person taking footage was old and was afraid too ! How would the common would have reacted, how the Society expects them to react ~ and are there lessons to be learnt ?   Should the video be circulated in Social Forums at all – would it not have been better to have it handed over to Police ONLY !!!

In another crime incident reported in Times of India – knife wielding gang Of 3 barged into a home at villivakkam,  attacked and tied up a 38-year-old woman before robbing her of 20 sovereigns of gold jewellery worth around `4.2 lakh.   It is reported that around 1.30pm, S Soundari opened the door of her Agasthiar Street residence to go to a Mogappair school to pick her daughter up when she realised she had left her mobile phone in her bedroom.  Leaving the door open, she went in to fetch the phone. When she returned to the front door, she was shocked to see three men standing there, police said.  The badly shaken woman mustered courage to ask them what they were doing in her house when one of them hit her on the head with his hand. They slapped her and, brandishing knives, asked her not to raise an alarm. They asked her to remove the gold jewellery she was wearing and hand it over. When she refused, one of the gang slashed her lips and nose, leaving her with bleeding injuries. Soundari fainted when the trio tore her dupatta and tied up her hands and legs and gagged her, police said.

As soon as she came to, the men demanded that she disclose the place where the family had stored cash. But they heard some noises from outside and the gang members locked her in the bedroom and fled with the gold jewellery. The house is located in a corner of the ground floor of a two-storey building. None of Soundari's neighbours were aware of the incident when it happened. After about 30 minutes, one of her neighbours happened to hear her moaning, rushed in through the open door and untied her. Soundari told police the robbers appeared to be in their 20s and that two looked like they were residents of the area.

There are eight houses in the building where four of the tenants are bachelors. Police are investigating to see if any of the burglars had visited the bachelors' house earlier. There were no CCTV cameras in the building and police are trying to find out if they can find anything from footage of CCTV cameras elsewhere in the locality.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Dec 2014.