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Saturday, January 31, 2015

How a debate against British was won in UK - kudos to Shashi Tharoor !!!!

In the UN elections held in 2006 to succeed Kofi Annan,  he gave a scare to Ban Ki-moon.  His website describes him as an author, UN Peacekeeper, refugee worker, human rights activist – he is a former Minister and twice elected MP from Thiruvananthapuram.  In recent times, people from his own party including leader PC Chacko, had demanded his  resignation after he praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  

His personal life also is entangled – there is investigation in the mysterious death of his wife  - this post is not about all that, but about the literary skills of Mr. Sashi Tharoor and his articulation  that needs appreciation.

In Sept. 2014, the Indo-British Heritage Trust organised a debate as the inaugural event to mark the 400th anniversary of formal relations between India and Britain back in 1614.  The interesting conclusion in the historic debate that put the mighty empire on a mock trial at the Supreme Court in London,  was that the British Raj did more harm than good in the Indian subcontinent. The motion before the house was, "The Indian sub-continent benefited more than it lost from the experience of British Colonialism". The team against the motion, eloquently led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and including fellow authors William Dalrymple and Nick Robins, clinched a decisive victory. "No wonder the sun never set on the British Empire, even God couldn't trust the English in the dark," said Tharoor as part of his arguments which focused on the economic ruin of India at the hands of the East India Company.

"The might of Britain was built in the 18th and 19th centuries on the ruination of India - where India went from a 23 per cent share of the global economy to 4 per cent," he added.  Dalrymple, author of 'White Mughals' and 'The Last Mughal', echoed the sentiment from the perspective of a prospering Mughal Empire which 'haemorrhaged' under the British.  To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the British presence in India -- King James I's envoy, Sir Thomas Roe, arrived at the court of Emperor Jehangir in 1614 -- the Indo-British heritage Trust held a debate, in the chamber of the UK Supreme Court, on the motion "This House believes that the Indian subcontinent benefited more than it lost from the experience of British colonialism."   Shashi Tharoor  spoke against the motion, alongside two Indophile Brits, authors William Dalrymple and Nick Robins. The proposers were Pakistan's Niloufer Bakhtyar, an editor, Martin Bell, former BBC war correspondent, and Kwasi Kwarteng, a Conservative Party MP of African descent.

On  Chair, Labour MP Keith Vaz, called for an initial vote, which went 35 to 28 for the motion. When it was over, voting took place again, and the needle had moved dramatically: 26 to 42 against. The anti-colonialists had carried the day.  Tharoor articulated that at the beginning of the 18th century India's share of the world economy was 23%, as large as all of Europe put together. Here is some of his arguments reproduced :

By the time India won independence, it had dropped to less than 4%. The reason was simple: India was governed for the benefit of Britain. Britain's rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India. Britain's Industrial Revolution was built on the de-industrialisation of India - the destruction of Indian textiles and their replacement by manufacturing in England, using Indian raw material and exporting the finished products back to India and the rest of the world. The handloom weavers of Bengal had produced and exported some of the world's most desirable fabrics, especially cheap but fine muslins, some light as "woven air". Britain's response was to cut off the thumbs of Bengali weavers, break their looms and impose duties and tariffs on Indian cloth, while flooding India and the world with cheaper fabric from the new satanic steam mills of Britain. Weavers became beggars, manufacturing collapsed; the population of Dhaka, which was once the great centre of muslin production, fell by 90%. So instead of a great exporter of finished products, India became an importer of British ones, while its share of world exports fell from 27% to 2%.

Colonialists like Robert Clive bought their "rotten boroughs" in England with the proceeds of their loot in India (loot, by the way, was a word they took into their dictionaries as well as their habits), while publicly marvelling at their own self-restraint in not stealing even more than they did. And the British had the gall to call him "Clive of India", as if he belonged to the country, when all he really did was to ensure that much of the country belonged to him. By the end of the 19th century, India was Britain's biggest cash-cow, the world's biggest purchaser of British exports and the source of highly paid employment for British civil servants - all at India's own expense. We literally paid for our own oppression. As Britain ruthlessly exploited India, between 15 and 29 million Indians died tragically unnecessary deaths from starvation.

British imperialism had long justified itself with the pretence that it was enlightened despotism, conducted for the benefit of the governed. Churchill's inhumane conduct in 1943 gave the lie to this myth. British imperialism had triumphed not just by conquest and deception on a grand scale but by blowing rebels to bits from the mouths of cannons, massacring unarmed protestors at Jallianwallah Bagh and upholding iniquity thru institutionalised racism. Whereas as late as the 1940s it was possible for a black African to say with pride, "moi, je suis francais", no Indian in the colonial era was ever allowed to feel British; he was always a subject, never a citizen.

What are the arguments FOR British colonialism benefiting the subcontinent? It is often claimed that the British bequeathed India its political unity. But India had enjoyed cultural and geographical unity throughout the ages, going back to Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC and Adi Shankara travelling from Kerala to Kashmir and from Dwarka to Puri in the 7th century AD, establishing his temples everywhere.  The construction of the Indian Railways is often pointed to as benefit of British rule, ignoring the obvious fact that many countries have built railways without having to be colonized to do so. Nor were the railways laid to serve the Indian public. In fact the Indian Railways were a big British colonial scam. British shareholders made absurd amounts of money by investing in the railways, where the government guaranteed extravagant returns on capital, paid for by Indian taxes.  The English language comes next on the credit list. It too was not a deliberate gift but an instrument of colonialism.

Hats off to Mr Shashi Tharoor and his articulation – this is worth circulating to all Indians.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Jan 2015.

PS:  inputs taken from the web of Mr Shashi Tharoor and from his exclusive interview to NDTV.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

when Pigs flew Business Class in Boeing 747 !!

Pigs are not the animals much liked – looked down all the times.  There is a phrase ‘when pigs will fly’ is a hyperbolic figure of speech that describes an improbable occurrence.  The meaning is that such a circumstance would never occur !.  Perhaps the only place where Pigs are treated better are in the 1994 Walt Disney animated film ‘The Lion King’- where also Timon (the meerkat) is intelligent personified and Pumbaa (the warthog) is the foolhardy character.  The name Pumbaa is derived  from the East African language Swahili where again it means -  "to be foolish, silly, weakminded, careless, negligent".

Trade and commerce can quite often be strange.. a simple understanding of Trade would be the supply or making available the goods in a place where they are most required from the places where they available in plenty.   One does not try selling a Refrigerator to an Eskimo – ‘Carrying Coal to New Castle” is an idiom of British Origin portraying the foolhardy or pointless action.  

Newcastle upon Tyne  is a city  in North East England on the bank of River Tyne which grew as an important trade centre for wool and a major coal mining area. The economy of the area flourished with the distribution and sale of coal and the phrase indignantly meant the act of doing an act which no sane person would do and the act doomed to failure.  It is another matter that Timothy Dexter known for his eccentricity did consign coal to Newcastle and made a profit during a miner’s strike which had crippled local production !!   -  the importance of coal to industry has much declined with the usage of diesel and then electricity as power; still the expression is still used with accuracy and exactitude.  Later the harbour of New Castle in New South Wales in Australia also grew to be a major handler of coal is another matter.  

Pigs are one of the animals to be domesticated before centuries and are one of the most widespread mammals found in many parts of the World.  They have been introduced to many parts of the World and rearing of pigs has been a flourishing trade thanks to the adaptation of this creature to the environment.  Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig  eaten in many countries. Burgers are the most sought food in many places and usually connotes a sandwich consisting of cooked patty of meat (usually beef) placed inside a sliced bread roll. There are many vegetarian variations though !   The meat is processed in different forms which extends its shelf-life (what a misnomer extending life after one is killed !!)

Once in a hotel, there was this particularly tempting fried brownish  dish ‘sausage’ which I sheepishly enquired whether it was vegetarian ? [fortunately before ripping into it] - and by that Q came to know that ‘sausage’ is a food usually made from ground meat, mixed with salt, herbs and spices.  Though vegetarian versions are available, typically they are made from intestine..  this is no post about ‘what was not eaten and what should not be’ – but something on why British pigs are flying in Jumbo jets to China !!

China is one of the largest consumers of pork and a Country  famous for its sweet and sour pork.  Typically what is available locally should not find market from elsewhere ! – again no one would ever think it logical that somebody would spend  amounta as high as  £2,000 per pig when locally it much much cheaper.  But in reality it is happening   for satisfying the growing appetite of the burgeoning middle class of China and because British stock have a far higher fertility rate than Chinese breeds.  Daily Mail reports that an entire Boeing 747 was  hired at £330,000 per trip to fly pigs in more comfort on the 5,500-mile journey than humans often have in economy class.  It is an extraordinary turn of events for a country of 1.3 billion once known for eating everything and anything.  The report states that due to sophisticated breeding programmes, an average British-bred sow gives birth to 22 piglets a year, compared with 14 for a Chinese one.  The initial price for a breeding sow in Britain is between £400 and £500, but with transportation the cost of exporting one rises to £2,000.  A total of 1,239 pigs left the UK before the summer and a further 900 are flying out this month.  By the end of the year close to 5000 pigs would be living in their new home of China after a new livestock trade agreement.  
Before putting them on aircraft, the pigs are loaded on to the aircraft in slatted pallets in groups of 15 to 20. the pigs have reasonably good space for stretching out, rolling and standing during the long air transportation.  Sufficient quantities of food and water are also planned to be provided during the transport.  Even humans do not get so much of space when travelling in an economy class.  

The Chinese liking to the pig dish has rejuvenated the beleaguered pig rearing industry in UK.  A spokesperson of British Pig Executive was quoted as saying that they were seen as top-notch in the World (when it came to pig breeding stock) and will conquer China, aiming for Vietnam and South Korea In the early part of the last Century, they had claimed that ‘Sun never sets in the British Empire’.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

31st Oct 2011.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cricketers haunted by ghosts ~ apparition !! - Lumley Castle

A scenic picture – Jimmy Anderson practising with a fort in the background !
photo credit :

They say that often courage is shaken when alone ~ lonely places haunt.  Have you heard of the ‘Philip experiment’ ?  ….  In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost  or specter, phantom, apparition or spook-  is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestation, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, lifelike visions.  In psychology,  an apparitional experience is characterized by the apparent perception of either a living being or an inanimate object without there being any material stimulus for such a perception.

Sure you would remember - ‘Chandramukhi’ – the Rajnikant starrer released in 2005;  it was the official remake of the 1993 Malayalam film Manichithrathazhu, starring Mohanlal.  Manichitrathazhu (The Ornate Lock)  a Malayalam psychological thriller was written by Madhu Muttam, directed by Fazil, and produced by Swargachitra Appachan. The film dealt with an unusual theme which was not common in Indian cinema but proceeded to become a high grosser at the box-office.  It was Aaptamitra [in Kannada]; Chandramukhi [Telegu]; Bhool Bhulaiyaa [Hindi]; Rajmohol [Bengali]; Chandramukhi ke Hunkaar [Bhojpuri]; Der Geisterjäger (lit. The Ghost Hunters in German).

Downunder in Newzealand, the Hindu reports that  Pakistan team management says cricketer Haris Sohail was left “visibly shaken” after a ghostly encounter in a Christchurch hotel room.  Sohail fled what he believed was “a supernatural presence” which shook his bed at the Rydges Latimer hotel, taking refuge in the room of a team coach after the encounter earlier this week. Team manager Maveed Akram Cheeva said - Sohail, 26, phoned a member of the coaching staff to say he had been woken by his bed being shaken. The coach rushed to Sohail’s room and found him shaken and feverish. Cheeva said management tried to persuade Sohail the fever may have caused a nightmare, but the player was adamant his experience was supernatural. The hotel’s management says it knew of “no active ghost” on the premises.

Pakistan media reports said Sohail, an allrounder who has played nine one-dayers and three Twenty20 internationals, was so “traumatised” by the experience he has been unable to train and was forced to miss a one-day warmup match against a New Zealand President’s XI. Cheema said Sohail was examined by the team doctor after his encounter and found to be in good health.

Sohail joins an elite group of international cricketers who have had ghostly experiences. England fast bowler Stuart Broad switched rooms at London’s Langham Hotel last year after a ghostly experience. Broad told the Daily Mail newspaper he had woken in the night and “all of a sudden the taps in the bathroom came on for no reason. I turned the lights on and the taps turned themselves off. Then when I turned the lights off again, the taps came on. It was very weird.” Australia allrounder Shane Watson fled to the room of teammate Brett Lee after becoming spooked in his own room at the Lumley Castle Hotel in England in 2005.

In the photo that you saw at the start, it is  Chester-le-Street with Lumley Castle, a 14th-century quadrangular castle in the background.  It is  named for its original creator, Sir Ralph Lumley, who converted his family manor house into a castle in 1389 after returning from wars in Scotland. However, after being implicated in a plot to overthrow Henry IV he was imprisoned and ultimately executed, forfeiting his lands to the Earl of Somerset. In 1421 the ownership of the Castle reverted to Sir Ralph Lumley's grandson, Thomas. In 1976, management of the castle was handed over to No Ordinary Hotels who had the castle turned into the 59-bedroomed hotel it is today. The castle is believed to one of the most haunted places in County Durham.  Locals believe that the castle is haunted by the ghost of Lily Lumley, Ralph's wife, who was thrown down a well in the castle grounds by two priests for rejecting the Catholic faith. Knowing they would be in trouble, the priests told Sir Ralph that she left him to become a nun. Her ghost is said to float up from the well and haunts the castle. In 2000 and 2005 visiting cricketers staying at the castle claimed to have witnessed paranormal activity.

In films - Manichitrathazhu, Chandramukhi and more… the storyline was a thriller of a young couple arriving at an ancestral home haunted by a ghost of a girl who dies young without realizing her dreams.   The Apparition is a 2012 American supernatural horror thriller film written and directed by Todd Lincoln  that was loosely inspired by the Philip experiment conducted in 1972.

The Philip experiment was a 1972 parapsychology experiment conducted in Toronto, Ontario to determine whether subjects can communicate with fictionalized ghosts through expectations of human will. The experiment has been criticized for improper controls, inconclusive results, and possible fraud.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Jan 2015.

AIADMK supremo Ms J Jayalalithaa provides succour to Kolkata gymnast

A great Republic Day with US President as Chief Guest for the RD Parade at New Delhi is making news.  The event was grandly organised in Chennai too –  the AIADMK supremo Ms  J Jayalalithaa may not be visible after she relinquished the chief minister's chair following the verdict in the disproportionate assets case, but Amma was the face of the Republic Day parade in Tamil Nadu as colorful tableaux from government departments featured her prominently , to the virtual exclusion of everyone else. 

Here is an altogether  different newsitem, which certainly is encouraging !.  – sadly, a  young former gymnast from Kolkata is fighting for life in the absence of any help. As long as a sportsperson does well it is fine, but when a tragedy falls there is no one to extend a helping hand.  It is the poignant tale of Soumita Dey fighting for her life at a nursing home in Kolkata. Dey is a former gymnast and judge in the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games. So bad is her condition that Dey cannot even move her legs, with the lower half of her body affected by paralysis. Doctors say she is suffering from Neurosarcoidosis since 2012.

After representing Bengal at the national level for almost a decade (from 1998 to 2008), Soumita took to coaching in 2005. She completed the sports coaches training at Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala in 2008 and was selected for judging at New Delhi's CWG.  "Life was all fine and I was looking forward to starting MPed in August, 2012 when suddenly life came to a halt," Soumita said from her bed at nursing home.  Her condition is stated to be critical -   She is undergoing pulse therapy and  requires high anti-biotic, RBC replacement and WBC replacement which is quite an expensive matter.   They are running short of money with not of much help forthcoming.

Neurosarcoidosis  refers to sarcoidosis, a condition of unknown cause featuring granulomas in various tissues, involving the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It can have many manifestations, but abnormalities of the cranial nerves (a group of twelve nerves supplying the head and neck area) are the most common.   Down with Neurosarcoidosis since 2012, 27-year-old Dey now cannot even move her legs, with the lower half of her body affected by paralysis.

Solace has come from a distance….. TOI and other papers report that AIADMK general secretary and former Chief Minister Ms. J Jayalalithaa on Saturday announced a financial assistance of Rs. 5 lakh to the ailing gymnast.   The former CM is quoted as saying that she is saddened by the reports on the sportswoman.   Ms Jayalalithaa expressed regret about Dey's critical condition and prayed for her speedy recovery .

Media reports quoting the former gymnast said that improper treatment in a hospital for a few years crippled her. Her mother Simanta Dey was also quoted as saying the family's is incapable in meeting the medicinal expenses. Moved by the plight of Soumita Dey, a former gymnast from West Bengal, fighting for life at a Kolkata hospital, AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa has granted  Rs. 5 lakh from party funds for her treatment.

Clearly a noble gesture without any political or any other motive.  Much appreciated.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Jan 2015.

Monday, January 26, 2015

celebrating Indian Republic Day ~ a Great Day for the Nation

65  years back, a salute of 21 guns and the unfurling of the Indian National flag by Dr. Rajendra Prasad heralded the historic birth of the Indian Republic on January 26, 1950; that significant day was  894 days after our country became a dominion following withdrawal of British Rule. Since then, every year the day is celebrated with great pride and happiness all over the nation. The transition of India from a British colony to a sovereign, secular, and democratic nation was indeed historical. It was a long journey of around two decades that started with the conceptualisation of the dream in 1930 to its actual realization in 1950.

The seeds of a republican nation were sowed at the Lahore session of the Indian National Congress at the midnight of 31st December 1929. Those present in the meeting took a pledge to mark January 26 as "Independence Day" in order to march towards realizing the dream of complete independence from the British. The Lahore Session paved way to the Civil Disobedience movement. It was decided that January 26, 1930 would be observed as the Purna Swaraj (complete Independence) Day. Many Indian political parties and Indian revolutionaries from all over the country united to observe the day with honour and pride.

On Republic Day, flag hoisting ceremonies and parades by armed forces and school children are held in different parts of the country. The grandest and most important of these parades is held at Rajpath in New Delhi, which showcases a multi-hued image of the country's rich cultural heritage and military prowess. This parade is presided over by the President of India.   One of the main functions of the Republic Day Parade is to pay tribute to the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for the country and to confer bravery awards on military persons, citizenry and children for showing courage in the face of adversity.

The Republic Day Parade is a grand and pompous event.   At Delhi, apart from the parade armed forces, police and other forces;  display of various tanks, missiles and other equipment added to the arsenal of the military,  vibrant parade comprising tableaux from different States and cultural dances;  - children who have won National Bravery Awards ride past the spectators on colourfully decorated elephants. The Republic Day Parade is concluded by dare devil motor cycle riding and a flypast by Indian Air Force fighter jets over Rajpath, as spectators look on with their hearts filled with pride.

Every year, in the Parade,  India has been hosting a Head of State or Government of another country as the state guest of honour for Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi..  Before India fought wars with China and Pakistan, leaders from these countries were invited as state guests for the Republic Day celebrations. Interestingly, Pakistan Food and Agriculture Minister - Rana Abdul Hamid,  was the second state guest from that country for Republic Day in 1965, a few days after which the two countries went to a war. Countries which have been invited multiple times include India's neighbours (Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Mauritius), defence allies (Russia/USSR, France and Britain), trade partners (Brazil) and NAM allies (Nigeria, Indonesiaand erstwhile Yugoslavia). France and Bhutan have the distinction of being the guest of honour for the maximum (four) number of times followed by three visits each from Mauritius and USSR/Russia.  Last  year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the Chief Guest and this year.  This year it is the distinguished President of the US Barack Obama.    It is a "genuine honour" for US President Barack Obama to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade and witness India's national day celebrations firsthand, the White House has said. Obama will witness India's cultural and social heritage as well as its diversity and defence capability that will be put on display during the parade at Rajpath on 26 January, after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee hoists the national flag at Red Fort in the morning.

On the eve of RD,  the President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, addressed the Nation on the eve of the 66th Republic Day conveying warm greetings to all  citizens. He conveyed  special greetings to members of our Armed Forces, Paramilitary Forces and Internal Security Forces.

Twenty Sixth January holds an everlasting place in our national memory because it is the day when modern India was born. Under Mahatma Gandhi's moral and political leadership, the National Congress passed the Purna Swaraj resolution demanding complete independence from British rule in December 1929. Gandhiji organized nationwide celebrations on 26 January 1930 as Independence Day. From then on, the Nation took a pledge on this day every year to carry on the freedom struggle till we attained it.

Exactly twenty years later, in 1950, we adopted our charter of modernity, the Constitution. Tragically, Gandhiji had been martyred two years before, but the framework of a Constitution that has made India a role model for today's world was constructed out of his philosophy. Its essence lay in four principles: democracy; freedom of faith; gender equality; and an economic upsurge for those trapped in the curse of dire poverty. These were made Constitutional obligations. Gandhiji's talisman for the country's rulers was simple and powerful and I quote: "Whenever you are in doubt...recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself...will it lead to swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?" (unquote). Our resolve to eliminate poverty through inclusive development has to be a step in that direction.

Live coverage of the Delhi Parade in Doordarshan attracts good audience for a couple of decades now …..  there will live webcasts too and the event in You Tube would attract millions.

To conclude with the words of our Pressident - Our national ambition is to raise the quality of life of Indians by quantum leaps and raise generations enlightened by learning, patriotism, compassion, honesty and a sense of duty. Thomas Jefferson had said and I quote: "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty" (unquote). We must strive for the highest quality in our educational institutions so that we can take our place, within a visible future, among the knowledge leaders of the 21st century. I would urge, in particular, that we lay special stress on the culture of books and reading, which takes knowledge beyond the classroom and frees imagination from stress of the immediate and the utilitarian. We must be a creative people, nourished by innumerable, interlinked rivers of ideas. Our youth must lead the way to mastery of technology and communication in a universe where the cloud has become a library without frontiers, and vast opportunity awaits within the computer in your palm. The 21st century is within India's grasp.

Here are couple of  photos of RD Parade at Chennai taken a couple of years back and some taken during this year’s rehearsal. Let us all celeberate the Day, by  hoisting the National Flag and singing patriotic songs !  Jai Hind..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

whither the quality Indian spinner !!

One cannot be faulted for not following Ranji, especially when India is thrashed downunder.   For the uninformed,   Assam shot out Goa for 175.  Assam offspinner Swarupam Purkayastha registered yet another five-wicket haul, this time dismantling Goa's top order in Porvorim. His 13 wickets in the previous game - the best performance by any bowler this season - had set up an innings win last week in Hyderabad. It continued to flow in the same vein.  At Mumbai, the hosts were bundled out for 141 thanks to a great bowling performance by left-arm spinner Rahil Shah who took 7 for 34.  TN are 136 for 4 with Shankar unbeaten on 47.  One of the Umpires is Nick Cook who once played for England.

Indian bowlers have struggled in recent times –not being able to bowl out opponents even on tracks that have juice.  Whether the spinners are not practising enough, or whether the quality has just deteriorated ?

India was hailed as land of spinners – when the famous quartet Bishan Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Venkatraghavan prospered – there were the likes of VV Kumar, Doshi, Shivalkar, Goel, Hans, Dhiraj Parsana, Ramnarayan,  Shukla, Raghuram Bhat and more – who could not make the cut over the dominance of the quartet and Ranji matches were ‘bowler-dominated !’

Dilip Rasiklal Doshi,  was one of only two Test bowlers who played in their first tests after the age of thirty, yet went on to take 100 wickets, the other being Clarrie Grimmett.  Dilip Doshi, the slow leftarm spinner with spectacles, was born in Rajkot in 1947, debuted in 1979 when he was 32+, went on to play 33 Tests and 15 One dayers.  Having waited for so long, he didn't waste any time in making his presence felt. With figures of 6/103 & 2/64 he was India's best bowler in that debut match.  He performed well in a One dayer at Australia too and won Man of the Match. 

There have been some quality off-spinners apart from Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivasan Venkatraghavan.  Harbhajan was quite  successful – remember his bowling during that Aussie tour in 2001, and that Kolkatta hat-trick.... there was Shivlal Yadav too (M Venkatramana, Ashish Kapoor, Ashok Patel, Arshad Ayub) – all Off-spinners, who played for India at some point of time.  Ravichandran Ashwin prospered so well at home, but has been struggling overseas !   Besides Chandra,  other leggies would include Subash Gupte, VV Kumar,MV Narasimha Rao, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Narendra Hirwani, Anil Kumble, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla………. The  bespectacled man who took a record 16 wickets on his debut at Chepauk in 1988 – on that Pongal Test,  Narendra Hirwani subsequently faded away.

Maninder Singh promised so much – and went out too quickly.  Yearning to see a full complement of ‘leftarm spinner, leggie and offie’ in the team – which perhaps can bowl out opponents twice in a Test match with ease and thus win matches for India.
When will that happen ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Jan 2015.

iPhone 6 lands unscathed in 100,000ft - space drop test

The other day infront of a busy traffic junction – was a young girl on a scooty, talking on mobile (placed between her head and shoulders) – the signal turned green, the van driver behind buzzed horn impatiently, the girl slightly lifted her head and sped ~ for a second I was worried of the mobile falling down, but it was secured around her neck and nonchalantly was intact.

‘Drop test’ (noun) -  a  test of the strength of an object, in which it is dropped under standard conditions or a set weight is dropped on it from a given height. Marine Cargo insurance is about insuring cargoes in transit from place to place and one of the important aspect for consideration is the way they are packed.  The packing should be good enough to protect the subject matter from the normal hazards during transportation. 

Yesterday, read  an interesting article on ‘ultimate drop test’.   It is a new model expected to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona at the beginning of March and go on sale in April 2015.   Samsung's next generation Galaxy handset could have a curved screen that covers both its sides. The handset, which is expected to have a 5.5inch screen, will come in a 'special edition' version with the curved technology, according to Sammobile. The Korean giant believes its curved technology could give it an edge over arch rival Apple.  It will also have an octa-core processor, Mali-T768 graphics processing unit, and a 16-megapixel rear-facing camera.

Earlier this month, in the face of stiff competition, and following a consecutive drop in profits, Samsung announced plans to curb the number of phones it makes each year. Instead of releasing handset after handset and saturating the market with Samsung devices, the firm has decided it needs to concentrate on making fewer handsets, better.  There reportedly has been drop in profits. 

The post  is about the drop test of ‘iPhone 6’  sent 100,000ft up to the edge of space - and surviving temperatures of -56C (and a crash-landing) without a single scratch.   MailOnline reports that an  iPhone 6 has survived what must rank as the ultimate drop test after being sent 100,000ft (30,480 metres) to the edge of space and brought back down to earth with a thud.Incredible footage reveals the device soaring into the stratosphere while attached to a weather balloon, and being exposed to 70mph (112kph) winds and temperatures of below -56°C (-70°F). The rig carrying the phone then drops back down to earth, before crashing to the ground to supposedly demonstrate the durability of its protective case.

The firm sent the iPhone into space attached to a rig that had two GoPro cameras, a GPS locator, a weather balloon to lift it to the intended 100,000ft altitude and a parachute to regulate the descent.   A video posted by CNET, shows that the rig lifting off from a field close to Chirk Castle in north Wales on a grey, rainy day in November.  Footage reveals the device surviving 70mph (112kph) winds and temperatures reaching below -56°C (-70°F).  The image after loading shows that  the phone despite not having a screen protector still managed to come out unscathed.

The balloon  rapidly climbs above the rain clouds to emerge in bright sunshine and, as it gains altitude, so the temperature rapidly drops. Once it passes 101,000ft, the balloon is detached from the rig and the handset begins its fall back to earth. The parachute fails to fully stabilise the rig and the footage shows it spinning wildly as it descends, turning at speeds of up to 150rpm. It eventually lands, in a field 12 miles from its take-off point, with an almighty bump that breaks the rig - but the iPhone remains intact.

Steve Armstrong, the co-founder of Urban Armor Gear, said after the test: 'Our cases already meet military drop-test standards, but now we can officially say that they are space tested as well. So another good reason to buy one, as many of us negligently let go and cause falling down of our mobiles, to find their touchscreen or other vital parts not functioning.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Jan 2015.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

neutral Umpires - Nick Cook to officiate in Tamilnadu Mumbai Ranji

Nicholas "Nick" Grant Billson Cook, a slow left arm spinner played in fifteen Tests and three ODIs from 1983 to 1989. Cook made his international debut against New Zealand. He picked up 32 wickets in his first four Tests, taking four five-fors, including one on debut, and a best bowling match return of 11 for 83 against Pakistan at Karachi. However Cook's next 11 Tests fetched him 20 wickets at an average of 56.75, and he was dropped. His total of 52 Test wickets were taken at an average of 32.48.

In Cricket, the Umpire holds an exalted position – he stands in the best position to watch and judge and his decision is final [forget the referrals !] – in yesteryears, the crowds would come alive, the moment they can sight the two gentleman taking that walk to the middle.  In the famed list there are names - Maninder Singh, Kumara Dharmasena, Srinivasan Venkatraghavan, Peter Willey, Paul Reiffel,  Richard Illingworth not an exhaustive list of the Gentlemen in the middle with white coats with authority to decide – the finger going up, signalling or ordering the batsmen to trudge back towards the pavilion. 

For the uninformed, on the field of play, there are two umpires officiating a match. One umpire stands behind the stumps at the bowler's end of the pitch, while the other umpire stands at square leg. The concept of Third Umpire is relatively recent one.   The Third Umpire debuted in Test Cricket in Nov 1992 at Kingsmead, Durban and Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman to be dismissed (run out) by using TV replays.  In July 2008, Tillakaratne Dilshan became the first player to successfully appeal against an umpiring decision.

In between the concept of neutral Umpires came and tapered to one among the two ! ~ do you know that there are foreign Umpires in Ranji matches too – if not read on.  There is the strategic tie-up with Cricket Australia (CA) and the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to conduct exchange programmes for coaches. Similarly, there exists Umpire exchange programme between some.

After playing days,  Nicholas Cook  faced many challenges in a varied cricket career including trying to teach Swann patience while he was Northamptonshire’s second-team coach and facing Allan Border’s rampant Australians in the 1989 Ashes. Then he was diagnosed and recovered from a prostatectomy.  He was diagnosed of cancer of the prostate.  After recovery,  Cook has been in regular contact with the Professional Cricketers’ Association, who run a prostate awareness campaign for English cricketers past and present.

Today’s Times of India reports that Cook is to officiate in Tamilnadu Mumbai Ranji match Group A game.    For someone who fought numerous battles against the likes of Sir Vivian Richards on the field, Nicholas Cook fights battles off the field as well. The former English left-arm spinner, who will officiate in the Tamil NaduMumbai Ranji Trophy Group A game here from Wednesday , is a prostrate cancer survivor who has played mentor to former English spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar among others.

Part of the umpires exchange programme between the BCCI and ECB, Cook feels the experience of umpiring in Indian conditions will be a test.  After calling it quits as a player, Cook made a smooth transition to coaching, and then umpiring.  That list in para 2  is that of some  Umpires who have earlier played Cricket at National level …

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

21st Jan 2015.

22 feared dead in tug boat capsize tragedy in China's Yangtze river

Capsize   means : to overturn or cause to overturn.

The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world. It flows for 6,300 kilometers  from the glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in Qinghai before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. The river is the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country.  In recent years, the river has suffered from industrial pollution, agricultural run-off, siltation, and loss of wetland and lakes, which exacerbates seasonal flooding. Some sections of the river are now protected as nature reserves. In mid-2014 the Chinese government announced it was building a multi-tier transport network, comprising railways, roads and airports, to create a new economic belt alongside the river.

In a tragedy, 22 people are feared killed after brand new tug boat capsized during test voyage on China's Yangtze River.  News reports state that just 3 of the 25 men on board survived when the ship suddenly turned over in one of the river's channels. Reports suggest that strong currents made it difficult to pull the 368-ton tug boat, which was built in October, into shallow water. Rescue crews were only able to conduct a thorough search of the tug boat on Saturday morning, then it was pulled into shallow waters.  A survivor is quoted as saying that water entered the boat cabin very quickly in les then 20 seconds it was completely filled with water.  A survivor narrates that he could do so by clinging to a hydraulic pump and said he had grabbed the Japanese engineer, but their grasp was broken as the boat began to sink.

Rescuers, who had been hampered by swift currents, finally managed to pull the 98-foot long Wanshenzhou 67 into shallow waters later, allowing them to search inside. The ship had been on a test voyage in the river's Fubei Channel, in Jiangsu province, and it is understood the ship's owner, parts supplier and engineer were among the 25 people aboard when it went under.  The ship was built by Anhui Bengbu Shenzhou Machinery Co. Ltd in October. Distraught relatives gathered at the banks of the river, in Jiangsu province, to wait for news of their missing loved ones.  A Singapore foreign ministry spokesman said Friday that the vessel was registered in the city-state and four of its nationals were on board.

The accident occurred on a stretch of the river that experiences extremely strong currents, between the cities of Jingjiang and Zhangjiagang, which is close to the Yangtze's mouth near the commercial hub Shanghai. The provincial government said the boat was undergoing trials without properly completing the required procedures and without first reporting the condition of the ship, as required by regulations.

So like the ill-fated Titanic, the newly built, 30-meter (98-foot) long Wanshenzhou 67 also sank on (this time on its test voyage itself) taking along its owner, parts suppliers and engineers.

As could be read, at some places it is referred as a ship and as ‘tug’ in others.  Tug boats look similar to fishing trawlers but pack great power.  These Tug boats are often smaller with width:length ratio higher as it would need a lower draught.  They require minimum crew – they are stationed at harbours; pilot, pull and bring bigger ships in to their designated place inside the Port.  In ports where mid-sea loading / unloading takes place, tugs would pull barges in a row.  If it was indeed a tug, perhaps, it might not have had this much crew !

This casualty occurred at ‘Yangtze’ – there is another river ‘Huang He’ often referred as ‘yellow river’ originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai province of western China.  It is called  "the cradle of Chinese civilization", because its basin was the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilization, and it was the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. However, frequent devastating floods and course changes produced by the continual elevation of the river bed (due in part to manmade erosion upstream), sometimes above the level of its surrounding farm fields, has also earned it the unenviable names ‘China's Sorrow’ and Scourge of the Sons of Han.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Jan 2015.