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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

there is water in Mars ~ says NASA

The Red planet has had a special attraction for humanity ~ Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System, after Mercury. Named after the Roman god of war, it is often referred to as the "Red Planet" because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. The rotational period and seasonal cycles of Mars are likewise similar to those of Earth, as is the tilt that produces the seasons.  Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregularly shaped.

Mars One—a controversial project that aims to send humans on a one-way trip to the Red Planet by 2023— immediately  garnered interest from 202,586 people from more than 140 countries who sent in video applications.  Even if the mission overcomes a host of currently insurmountable problems including cosmic radiation, designing a sufficiently powerful spaceship and securing TV rights, nobody who makes it aboard would ever be able to come back down to Earth - and would die on Mars. Despite that drawback, applications flowed in is astounding.

Back home, there was reason to celebrate as 24th Sept was the First birthday of India's MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission), proudly known as Mangalyaan! The space probe entered the Mars orbit on 24 September 2014, almost a year after its launch, and made its home around the Red Planet. On that day last year ISRO's Mars mission was the pride of entire India as it was only the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, Nasa, and the European Space Agency. India became the first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, and the first nation in the world to do so in its first attempt. The Nation’s joy knew no bounds when it successfully entered the orbit of the Red planet on 24th Sept 2014.  The spacecraft entered into an elliptical orbit around Mars. After its successful entry,  ISRO’s Mars Orbiter sent pictures of Phobos — the largest of the two natural satellites that orbit around Mars.

Now there is more to read about Mars.  Potentially life-giving water still flows across the ancient surface of Mars from time to time, NASA scientists said Monday in revealing a potential breakthrough in both the search for life beyond Earth and human hopes to one day travel there. While the discovery doesn't by itself offer evidence of life on Mars, either past or present, it does boost hopes that the harsh landscape still offers some refuge for microbes to cling to existence.

"The existence of liquid water, even if it is super salty briny water, gives the possibility that if there's life on Mars, that we have a way to describe how it might survive," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA.  NASA says it found proof of water in dark streaks called recurring slope lineae, on the walls of the Garni Crater on Mars.  NASA researchers using an imager aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter confirmed the watery flows by looking at light waves returned from seasonal dark streaks on the surface, long suspected to be associated with liquid water.

The investigation showed the streaks absorb light at specific wavelengths associated with chemicals known to pull water from the Martian atmosphere in a process known as deliquescence, said Georgia Tech doctoral student Lujendra Ojha, who first discovered the streaks while still an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona in 2011.  The chemicals allow the water to remain liquid at lower temperatures but also help keep it from boiling off in the thin atmosphere of Mars, the researchers said. “Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

Ojha and his co-authors interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate. Some perchlorates have been shown to keep liquids from freezing even when conditions are as cold as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius). On Earth, naturally produced perchlorates are concentrated in deserts, and some types of perchlorates can be used as rocket propellant.

The discovery of water in Mars  is the latest of many breakthroughs by NASA’s Mars missions ~and offers lot of hope for the researchers.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
29th Sept. 2015.

Ganesan becoming Sivaji ............. Congress to celebrate his birth anniversary

Shivaji Bhonsle, famously  Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,  Veer Shivaji - carved out an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanateof Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire. In 1674, he was formally crowned as the Chhatrapati (Monarch) of his realm at Raigad. Shivaji established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of a disciplined military and well-structured administrative organisations. He innovated military tactics, pioneering the guerrilla warfare methods.  

Veer Shivaji visited Chennai and offered worship at the Kalikambal Temple at Thambu Chetty Street on 3rd October 1667 -  a plague commemorating this could be seen at the temple.

Back home, lived the versatile actor -  Vettaithidal Chinnaiahpillai Ganesan remembered as Nadigar Thillagam.  He progressed from a stage actor since his childhood to the filmdom and in a career  spanning close to five decades he acted in nearly 300 films in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi.  Known for his stylish dialogue delivery, Ganesan was the first Indian film actor to win a "Best Actor" award in an International film festival, the Afro-Asian Film Festival held in Cairo, Egypt in 1960.

Ganesan’s portrayal of the character of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the stage play Shivaji Kanda Hindu Rajyam earned him the name "Sivaji”.  Today’s Times of India, Chennai edition, has an article titled -  ‘Cong to celebrate Sivaji Ganesan's birth anniversary’.

Here is that article : Congress has made preparations to celebrate thespian Sivaji Ganesan's 87th birth anniversary on Thursday with an evening of entertainment at Kamaraj Memorial Hall owned by the TNCC charitable trust. The event was the brainchild of former MLA and Sivaji Ganesan fan club general secretary V Rajasekharan. He said clips from old Sivaji films and songs from Sivaji starrers will be screened on the occasion. Sources said the party had to put off plans to host Sivaji's birthday festivities with participation of the actor's family members for the past few years as his sons were unable to come. This time his admirers decided to go ahead on their own without the involvement of Sivaji's sons -Prabhu and Ramkumar, who have not shown any inclination in politics, sources said.

After a stint in DMK in the 1950s, Sivaji quit the party after his visit to the Tirumala Tirupati temple. DMK leadership had felt he had tarnished the party's atheist and rationalist image by visiting the temple. He joined Congress in 1961 and staged plays in various parts of the state to raise funds for the party to set up offices. “The Congress office building in Salem was built by Sivaji with the proceeds from his drama shows,“ said senior leader S Thirnavukkarasar. Sivaji also campaigned for the Congress-AIADMK alliance in the 1984 assembly polls when MGR was admitted in a hospital in the USA.  Sivaji was a party member for almost three decades and a star campaigner during the Kamaraj days, he said. A Kamaraj protégé, he moved closer to then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after his mentor's demise. Indira Gandhi nominated him to the Rajya Sabha in 1982. His political career in Congress ended with her assassination.

~ Sivaji Ganesan was a great actor – deserves all the praise for breaking out expressing his personal faith.  What remains unstated in the post of TOI is the fact that he came out of Congress too and floated his own party  - ‘Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani’ in 1988 contested elections.   The party for born after a split in Tamil Nadu Congress party. The split  came at the time when ADMK fragmented.  Ganesan and his supporters left the Congress party on differences in opinion on which fragment of AIADMK to ally with in 1989 state elections.  Thamizhaga Munnetra Munnani backed Janaki Ramachandran – but  lost in all seats its competed for. Sivaji too lost at Thiruvayaru. Ganesan eventually regretted his decision to float his own party and merged the party with Janata Dal. 

        The statue of Sivaji that stands in the middle of Beach road – mired by some controversy, somehow  does not represent the image that people of Tamil Nadu associate with him.  Recent reports suggested that it might be removed from its present place and installed at the proposed Mani mandapam.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

29th Sept. 2015.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rwandans sentenced in Germany for crimes against humanity

In 2011, a sensational trial started in Stuttgart in Germany.  The new law allowed prosecution of foreigners for crimes committed outside Germany and it was the trial of  two Rwandan Hutu leaders accused of masterminding atrocities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.  Those facing the trial were : Ignace Murwanashyaka, head of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and his deputy Straton Musoni both living in Germany.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo also known as DR Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. From 1971 to 1997 it was named Zaïre.  The Congolese Civil Wars, which began in 1996, brought about the end of Mobutu Sese Seko's 31-year reign and devastated the country. The wars ultimately involved nine African nations, multiple groups of UN peacekeepers and twenty armed groups, and resulted in the deaths of 5.4 million people. The Democratic Republic of Congo is extremely rich in natural resources, but political instability, a lack of infrastructure deep rooted corruption, centuries of both commercial and colonial extraction and exploitation have limited holistic development.

In neighbouring Rwanda occurred a genocide - mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority. The genocide was planned by members of the core political elite known as the akazu, many of whom occupied positions at top levels of the national government. The genocide took place in the context of the Rwandan Civil War, an ongoing conflict beginning in 1990.  After Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, returning refugees swept into the country’s biggest national park with herds of cattle and wiped out the last lions. Now the once-abandoned reserve on the border with Tanzania is drawing more tourists, reducing poaching and involving more villagers in conservation. It even re-introduced lions this year.

It is quite a turnaround for Akagera National Park, whose landscape of savannah, acacia woodlands and papyrus swamps was reduced by more than half to 433 square miles (1,122 square kilometers) following the 1990s upheaval.  It is not an easy recipe to emulate. In many parts of Africa, conservation has suffered because of state corruption, lax law enforcement, porous national borders and conflicts that make it easier for gunmen to poach wildlife. Today, visitors to Akagera see hippos, crocodiles and cormorants on sunset cruises on Lake Ihema, where British explorer Henry Stanley camped in the late 19th century.

Today, a German court sentenced two Rwandan rebel leaders to long jail terms for masterminding massacres in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo from their homes in Germany.   The two Rwandans, who have lived in Germany for more than 20 years, were accused of "the full range of atrocities that one can imagine in a civil war", said federal prosecutor Christian Ritscher. Ignace Murwanashyaka, head of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), received 13 years in prison, while his deputy Straton Musoni was given eight years, judge Jürgen Hettich told the court after a trial that lasted more than four years. Both men were convicted of holding leadership roles in a foreign terrorist organization, while Murwanashyaka was also sentenced for a charge of aiding and abetting war crimes.

Prosecutors said during their closing argument last week that the two men were guilty of "the full range of atrocities that one can imagine in a civil war" and demanded life imprisonment for Murwanashyaka. They had initially been accused of 26 counts of crimes against humanity and 39 counts of war crimes committed by militias under their command between January 2008 and November 2009, although those charges were gradually whittled down to avoid forcing traumatized witnesses to testify.

While Murwanashyaka will be jailed immediately, Musoni will serve no further time in jail, as he has served his time in custody during the investigation and trial. The trial was hailed by the United Nations and human rights groups as a breakthrough in pursuing war criminals when it opened four years ago, as it is more difficult to prove crimes against humanity than terrorism charges.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

28th Sept. 2o15.

Sept 2015 is hotter in Chennai ~so also Globally excepting south of Greenland

The September is about to close ~ Sunday was hot and sweltering; few hours out in the noon – one felt very thirsty and felt like drinking more cool drinks.  It is time South-west monsoon would fade.

One felt that summer is not yet over perhaps as days are hot and one needs airconditioners in the night – has the weather pattern changed completely.  We hear people say that every year that Chennai was never like this before and it is much hotter than it was last year.  Is that true ?  IMD statistics reveal that in Tamilnadu this season had rains of 237.5 mm against 289.2 mm representing 20% short.  In Chennai, it is relatively better with 8% shortage only.

Well, it is not our perception – but is a scientific fact ~ it is hotter not here alone, but globally too.  Scientists have a theory about why the planet is going through a record warm stretch except for one  area near Greenland.  An interesting report in ‘Washing Post’ states that it  is an extremely warm year for our planet.

Only recently, the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration revealed that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest such stretch yet recorded for the globe's surface land and oceans, based on temperature records going to 1880. It's just the latest evidence that we are, indeed, on course for a record-breaking warm year in 2015. Before reading further  - see this interesting illustration of land and ocean temperature percentiles from January to August 2015. Source :  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centres for Environmental Information

It shows that the World is getting hotter, but yet in one part, in the North Atlantic Ocean, south of Greenland and Iceland, the ocean surface has had very cold temperatures for the past eight months.  First of all, it's no error. Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch at NOAA's National Centres for Environmental Information, confirmed what the map above suggests - some parts of the North Atlantic Ocean had record cold in the past eight months. As Arndt said in an email: "For the grid boxes in darkest blue, they had their coldest Jan-Aug on record, and in order for a grid box to be 'eligible' for that map, it needs at least 80 years of Jan-Aug values on the record."

"It's pretty densely populated by buoys, and at least parts of that region are really active shipping lanes, so there's quite a lot of observations in the area," Dr Arndt said. "So I think it's pretty robust analysis." So, the record seems to be a meaningful one - and there is a much larger surrounding area that, although not absolutely the coldest it has been on record, is also unusually cold.

While there may not yet be any scientific consensus on the matter, at least some scientists suspect that the cooling seen in these maps is no fluke but, rather, part of a process that has long been feared by climate researchers - the slowing of Atlantic Ocean circulation. In March, several top climate scientists, including Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Michael Mann of Penn State, published a paper in Nature Climate Change suggesting that the gigantic ocean current known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, is weakening. It is sometimes confused with the "Gulf Stream" but, in fact, that is just a southern branch of it.

The current is driven by differences in the temperature and salinity of ocean water. In essence, cold salty water in the North Atlantic sinks because it is denser, and warmer water from further south moves northward to take its place, carrying tremendous heat energy along the way. But a large injection of cold, fresh water can, theoretically, mess it all up - preventing the sinking that would otherwise occur and, thus, weakening the circulation. In the Nature Climate Change paper, the researchers suggested that this source of fresh water is the melting of Greenland, which is now losing more than a hundred billion tonnes of ice each year.

It is stated that the fact that a record-hot planet Earth coincides with a record-cold northern Atlantic is quite stunning. The accelerated melting of the Greenland ice sheet will continue to contribute to this decline by diluting the ocean waters." It's not clear that all climate scientists agree with this interpretation of what's happening in the North Atlantic - but clearly some important ones do, and they have published their conclusions in an influential journal.

Washington Post in another article states that a hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise. Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.

 “The idea of warm ocean water eroding the ice in West Antarctica, what we’re finding is that may well be applicable in East Antarctica as well,” says Martin Siegert, a co-author of the study and who is based at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London…………. … ..and they do sound alarming for the humanity.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th Sept. 2015.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

the wheeled dog at Marina ~the kindness and care of its owner

The sands of Marina beach offer pristine beauty - the sandy shore running  from Fort St George to Besant Nagar, has a long history, conceived in 1884 and christened by Mount stuart Elphinstone Grant-Duff, the then governor of Madras. Crowds throng the beach on holidays and in summer to enjoy the cool sea breeze.  On the road side, many stone statues, some of them installed during the Tamil World Conference adorn the area.

Early morning the famous Marina beach offers intriguing things.  There are young, old, fast, slow, and varied people indulging in chit-chatting, eating and drinking the various health drinks ! that are sold on pavements.  You can see people walking, walking fasting, jogging, sprinting, skipping, doing physical exercises, yoga, laughing out loud – more –  pursuing their perceived ways of  passport to good health. Then there are pets – of varied hues – dogs of big and small – and this particular dog has been a regular for years now.

Human body is a mystery and health is wealth.  The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells.   The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system(CNS). The spinal cord begins at the occipital bone and extends down to the space between the first and second lumbar vertebrae; it does not extend the entire length of the vertebral column. The spinal cord functions primarily in the transmission of neural signals between the brain and the rest of the body but also contains neural circuits that can independently control numerous reflexes and central pattern generators.  It is very central to our body and some trouble in the spine could literally send shivers on the spine !

In an interesting report –, reports of a paralyzed 26-year-old man being able to walk for the first time in five years, thanks to an electrical system that connects his brain and legs, bypassing his injured spine, researchers are reporting.

The unidentified man is the first person to show that a system like this might help people with a spinal cord injury regain some ability to walk, the researchers said. “The work does offer exciting promise,” said Randy Trumbower, an assistant professor in the department of rehabilitation medicine at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, who was not involved with the research. That said, it “must overcome several hurdles before it may be applicable to a broad population of persons with spinal cord injury,” he added.  Study authors An Do and Zoran Nenadic, both at the University of California, Irvine, said they don’t yet know how the system will work in a larger population of people with paralysis.  The experimental system is appropriate for people who have spinal cord injuries to their upper to lower-middle backs and who don’t have other major problems, Do and Nenadic said.

Before he could try out the system, the man had to go through some muscle reconditioning to regain some strength in preparation for standing and walking. The system required him to wear a cap with electrodes, a backpack with an amplifier, a contraption called a Parastep that electrically stimulates the legs, and a belt with a controller for the Parastep.

Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst (herniate) into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis.  I never thought that animals too can have spinal problems -    slip disc – affecting dogs.  A web search indicates that breeds of dog that are predisposed to IVDD include the Dachshund, Beagle, Basset Hound, and Shih Tzu.

Made up of a gelatinous substance surrounded by a thick outer layer, intervertebral discs are basically the shock absorbers of the spine. There are two types of disc herniation seen in dogs: Type I and Type II, of which Type II generally has less severe signs and symptoms.

The dog which I had seen to be active and obedient following its masters [a woman and her husband] – was seen differently about a fortnight back.  Understand from its concerned owners that it developed spinal problems and with slipped disc, had trouble in movement – perhaps affecting the movement of its hind legs and lower limbs. It would have experienced great pain and was in no position to walk.

Its owners greatly moved by its plight, had made enquiries and found out that dogs with similar plight in foreign countries have a cart supporting its back portion and moving with its front legs.  It was not possible to take the dog to US where treatment is available, they could communicate to the Veterinary Doctors over there, providing all information of the dog, its problem, had it measured methodically and in the process found that the cart are in fact made in India too at Ludhiana and being exported.  With concern and care, they have custom-made a cart for their beloved pet and now bringing the dog to Marina beach, allowing it fresh air and then fixing the cart, enabling it to move.  The extended hind legs which look paralysed, now get cushioned on the wheels and the dog is able to move around with its tail a plume of joy.

The owners do deserve a word of appreciation for the kind act and care shown.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Sept. 2015.

Friday, September 25, 2015

DGFT restricts apple imports to Nava Shewa port Only

“Apple” is the fruit of the apple tree, species Malusdomestica in the rose family Rosaceae. It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits. The tree is small and deciduous. 

The tree originated from Central Asia, where its wild ancestor is still found today. It is grown in million tonnes – China produces 2/5th of this; US is the second leading producer. In US, more than 60% sold are commercially grown in Washington state. Newzealand exports huge quantity competing with US.

Every mother would want her child to eat  more of  green vegetables and lentils – as also fruits and apple would stand top of the chart.  Apple was often linked to health – and fruits were bought depending on how fresh they looked.  Not any longer – today people are concerned about pesticides and chemical wax keeping their sheen.

In August, the most awaited apple season in the hill State of Himachal Pradesh began with the first lot of around 10 lakh cartons reaching various markets in the country.The State, despite undergoing an encroachment removal drive ordered by the High Court, is expecting to pack around 4 crore boxes of 20 kg of apples each. Though a majority of business is carried out in the private sector, the government has also opened procurement centres. With an expected production of around 8 lakh tonnes, about a million boxes or about 2,000 trucks of some early varieties of fruit like Red June and Tydeman’s have already been transported out of the State. The fruit from Himachal reaches the  markets of Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat, Rajasthan and even down South in Bengaluru and Chennai.

Apple is the most important fruit crop or cash crop of the hill State and constitutes about 49 per cent of the total area under fruit crops — about 85 per cent of the total fruit production, says the latest Economic Survey of the State. The apple fruit, is grown mainly in the districts of Shimla, Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi, Chamba and some parts of Sirmaur and Lahaul-Spiti.  Indian manufacturers have been facing stiff competition from foreign countries as people buying in supermarkets prefer buying imported varieties which have more sheen !

Down under, Australian apple growers are congratulating Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce on his decision to endorse International Eat an Apple a Day. “If the majority of Australians were to eat an Australian grown apple on 'international eat an apple day' then our industry would likely seen an instant impact from that,” said Baden Ribbon, Sales and Marketing manager for Hansen Orchards, a large Tasmanian based grower. “High quality Australian apples are available all year round so there is no reason to stop having one every day.” Then there is Fuji apple, a hybrid variety, considered to be very sweet and a hit in the market.

Back home, the Directorate General of foreign Trade (DGFT) is the agency of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Government of India, responsible for execution of the import and export Policies of India. DGFT plays a very important role in the development of trading relations with various other nations and thus help in improving not only the economic growth but also provides a certain impetus needed in the trade industry.

Today’s Indian Express writes that imported apples will cost more in Tamil Nadu following the notification by Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to ban import of apples through Chennai Port.

According to the notification, only NhavaSheva Port in Maharastra has been approved for importing apples. A Chennai Port official told Express the move would affect the revenue of Chennai Port, while it is also expected to have an impact on a large network of wholesale and retail traders. Chennai Port imports 5,000 cartons of apples every years.“We will take the issue up through Shipping Ministry with Union Commerce Ministry,” said the official.

Union Commerce Ministry apparently took the decision to protect the domestic apple trade - India is the third biggest producer in the world. However, port sources pointed out that the domestic apple trade was seasonal while the import of apples through Chennai Port happened round the year. “There is no reason why Commerce Ministry resorted to such a decision,” said the official.The notification of DGFT to import apples into India only through NhavaSheva Port has irked apple importers in Chennai Port.

ChozhaNaachiarRajasekar, president of Tamil Chamber of Commerce, has urged Commerce Minister NirmalaSeetharaman to allow import of apples through the Chennai Port by issuing a fresh DGFT notification, pointing out that it would otherwise involve huge rise in freight charges to transport the containers to southern states.

“Apples are imported in refrigerated containers from countries like the US, Australia and Fuji Island. If the consignments are to be imported only at NhavaSheva, then the goods should be transported in refrigerated container or trucks to Chennai and other places involving a huge freight component, pushing up the price of apples which is avoidable,” said Rajasekar. 

Concluding, there is ‘modi apple’- nothing to do with our respected Prime Minister, Sri NarendraModi.  It is a variety [or a brand] from Italy.  Their website claims that Modì® is the first apple with a carbon footprint marker (CFP), measured by the Faculty of Science and Technology of the University of Bolzano. Its carbon monoxide emissions are equal to 0.028 kg of CO2 per kg of Modì® produced in a fruit orchard, with a reduction of up to 49% of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere compared to other benchmark varieties under the same conditions as Modì®.  Understand that Carbon footprint is an environmental indicator that measures the impact of human activities on the planet’s climate and expresses the amount of greenhouse gases generated by goods and services. Modi is an international brand that began production in Italy with the establishment of the Modì Europa consortium in 2007.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Sept. 2015.

move to prevent cattle from entering Beach Road - Marina !!

The entry from Beach Road through the landmark Eastern entrance to Sri Parthasarathi Swami temple is stopped – as some civil work is going on for the couple of days !! – can you imagine the reason ?

Chennai does not possess many wide roads – one of its arterial road runs along the beautiful sea coast.  The First Line beach road, a main thoroughfare of erstwhile Georgetown is named after Rajaji and is now known as Rajaji Salai.  The famed Marina beach runs from near Fort St George towards Besant Nagar, along the Bay of Bengal.   The southern side of the Beach road is now known as Kamarajar Salai, named after the man known for simplicity and integrity, Kumarasami Kamaraj, CM of Tamil Nadu during 1954–1963 and a Member of Parliament during 1952–1954 and 1967–1975.

To some -: "Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures."  Cows are considered sacred.  There were hundreds of them with equal or more numbers of buffaloes.  One can find cows, buffaloes, horses and more at Triplicane and in Marina.  Much has been written about the bovine menace in the streets of Triplicane.  Stray cattle, sometimes aggressive have threatened and harmed people, especially old aged.   Recently, Corporation made arrangements providing enclosure for cattle nearer Marina ground, where the owners can tie and rest their animals, instead of letting them out on the roads.   The enclosure put up beneath the MRTS track has soil floors and fixed iron rings for tethering the cows and buffaloes.  This has reduced the no. of cattle on road, though not fully eliminated.

On the beach road, people drive mad – in the early morning when the visibility is poor, those driving – seeing the road free, tend to drive much faster.  There have been some accidents too.  Sometimes, some unruly youngsters organise illegal road-races too imperilling the other road users. 

In May 2015, I had posted on a distraught horse.  Nearer Thiruvalluvar statue (opp to Madras University Oriental research facility) saw a horse lying down on the platform, writhing in pain – could not make whether it had been hit by a passing vehicle, but was in visible pain – could not stand up … a couple of police stood guard through the few hours of ordeal … a group of youngsters stood anxiously around, trying to do whatever they thought fit (none qualified to handle an injured horse though!) – the good Samaritans provided fodder (grass), cleaned and offered a bucket of water, telephoned bluecross and by the time, the horse could muster some strength, tried to stand and fell a couple of times, later slowly stood up …  the blue cross did come and took the animal in their vehicle.  On another day, saw a cow hit by a speeding vehicle and dying.

Have on a couple occasions witnessed cows crossing slowly and gently – even observing the discipline of crossing in zebra crossing ! – but many animals, bovines and dogs do get rattled, and run helter-skelter fearing their lives and in process causing chaos.  Those driving fast could be caught unawares seeing an animal suddenly in front of them. 

For children, we used to tell – that ‘beach would remain closed during hot day time – and will be opened only in the evening’ – so that they don’t insist on being taken to sands in the day time – and enjoy the cool sea breeze and lovely ripples of Ocean in the evening.  Can the beach be kept locked, preventing entry – especially to cattle ? – perhaps, Corporation has the answer !

They are erecting civil structures that will prevent cattle from entering the beach road.  It is stated that the cattle running on to the beach road from by-lanes cause accidents – some get injured or die – some vehicle drivers and other road users too get involved in nasty accidents.  A report in Dinamalar states that works at Avvai Shanmugham salai is on at a cost of 6.5 lakhs.  Similar works – a deep pit is dug, concretised and 125 mm steel tubes are fixed having a gap of 2 inches in between. 

A cattle grid (UK English), also known as a stock grid in Australia; cattle guard in American English; and vehicle pass, Texas gate, orstock gap in the U.S. Southeast; or a cattle stop in New Zealand English – is a type of obstacle used to prevent livestock, such assheep, cattle, pigs, horses, or mules from passing along a road or railway which penetrates the fencing surrounding an enclosed piece of land or border. It consists of a depression in the road covered by a transverse grid of bars or tubes, normally made of metal and firmly fixed to the ground on either side of the depression, such that the gaps between them are wide enough for animals' legs to fall through, but sufficiently narrow not to impede a wheeled vehicle or human foot. This provides an effective barrier to animals without impeding wheeled vehicles, as the animals are reluctant to walk on the grates.

So soon, we will have a cattle-grid in Sunkuwar Street – but having one here – but none at Pycrofts road crossing and at Vivekananda house crossing – will that be of any real use ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th Sept. 2015.

Presenting Sept. 2015 issue of Bliss – voice of SYMA

Presenting Sept. 2015 issue of Bliss – voice of SYMA

The newsletter of SYMA – Bliss is in your hands.  Click here SYMA Bliss Sept. 2015 to download the issue : 

We have pleasure in inviting you for a Special Function to be held at SHG Terapanth Bhavan on 2nd Oct 2015. We are celebrating 25 years of Medical Service – yes, it is 25 complete years since we embarked our medical service at 29 TP Koil Street.  We have a long way since  ~  many people like you have helped us in big way and have ensured that we have grown, serving more people. 
We acknowledge gratefully the services of all those Doctors, volunteers, donors and others and  it is our bounden duty to recognise the services and  honour all Doctors and Volunteers who have been instrumental in ‘serving the public with a smile’.   We heartily welcome you and request you to be with us on our Special Occasion

This issue has:

·         The Invitations for the Function on 2nd Oct 2015.
·         A detailed report on the programme conducted for our Growth students by 108 – on ambulance services and on 104, an initiative of the TN Govt providing health care over phone.
·         An article saluting the Hockey stars who readily responded to fight the Pak terrorists at Gurdaspur
·         Detailed report on the Eye Camp held on 15th Aug 2014
·         And on SYMA Seva awardee – Mrs KN Vijayalakshmi.

Thanks to all of you for obtaining advertisements in our Souvenir.  Request you all to be present during the Function on 2nd Oct.  A souvenir containing many valuable information would be released on the occasion by His Holiness Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal, Pontiff of Kanchi Sankara Mutt.

Do continue to provide your feedback on Bliss and any other activity of SYMA – through e-mail / phone.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
Editor – Bliss

25th Sept. 2015.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

the art of persuasive selling ~ Vadasery - Nagercoil !!

When was the last time you sat in a town bus in a village and enjoyed the surroundings ?– life at small towns can be leisurely and enjoyable !! -  The recent trip to Nagercoil provided ample opportunity and this post is on the persuasive selling skills seen !   ….. in every bus stand, vendors would get into the bus selling – biscuits, condiments,  plantain, guava, pineapple, orange and other fruits; water packet and cool drinks, ground nuts and many other eatables; something like towels, shirts, nighties too.  A few years back, in every bus stand, there were small shops selling lottery tickets. There were so many Raffle deals, mostly from North Eastern States – some companies made big fortune selling tickets – which people would easily buy dreaming to become millionaires.  It helped small time vendors which included blind and handicapped people was the only solace, though many were losing big chunk of their salary - getting addicted to single number lottery.

Nagercoil (நாகர்கோவில்)  is a municipal town and administrative headquarters of Kanyakumari District.  Locked with the Western Ghats on all sides, it was a part of Kerala, the erstwhile Travancore state, till almost a decade after India's Independence from Britain in 1947. In 1956, it was merged with Tamil Nadu. In its earlier days, the town and its surroundings were known as Nanjilnadu. Nagercoil came under the rule of various kingdoms, notably the Chera, Chola and Pandya kingdoms, at various points in time; historical records reveal that these kingdoms fought over the control of the fertile area of Nanjilnadu and Kottar, a town mentioned in old Tamil writings and maps of ancient India.  The town came to prominence during and after the reign of Maharaja MarthandaVarma, the king of Travancore, the capital of which was Padmanabhapuram, about 20 km to the north of Nagercoil.

There are two bus stands in Nagercoil – Anna bus stand and Vadasery bus stand. Long distance buses ply from Vadasery. 

Selling is an art ~people are trained on selling skills for marketing the products better. There are dozens of selling skills that sales people should know.  From prospecting to calling, presenting, highlighting and persuading them in to buying there are various techniques adopted.  Yet people struggle to meet their sales targets is also a fact. Modern day companies go a long way spending huge amounts to get databases of prospective customers, seeking referrals, cold-calling and the like to sell.  They try to promote their products with advertisements in print and visual media, trying to make their presence felt and trying to create a brand awareness. 

One may never understand for example, a company manufacturing tyres for aircrafts, advertising on television – who are the target audience and what they are trying to impact ? – there are surrogate advertisements – there are many attempts to create an impression in the subconscious mind – the name, the brand, its perceived quality and more.   From the handheld presentations that Medical representatives used to carry to glitzy powerpoints, there are various presentation modules and skills to captivate customers.  Developing a connection is still important in today’s sales environment even though we rely heavily on technology. People still buy from people.

As I sat patiently for the bus to start, a middle aged man looking lot pleasant and cheerful, boarded the bus and went around surveying – looking for a seat, one first thought.  As the bus filled up – he stood in front – firmly placed to capture the attention and started with a majestic voice.

He positively spoke about our beloved APJ [Dr Abdul Kalam] who was born in the neighbouring Rameswaramisland and rose to great heights.  He reeled out his achievements of the missile man, right from his birth, education, becoming the President of India, being conferred Bharat Ratna.  He eulogised APJ for his humbleness and greatness. 

The small speech of note more than 2 minutes was heard with rapt attention – then he asked people around – on whether they knew authentic details of the great man.  People do know APJ but not details with authenticity.  He started distributing a book titled ‘life history of Dr Abdul Kalam’ – telling people that they can have a look at the book, even if they do not intend buying. 

The sales pitch reached a crescendo – he told the audience that from now on, all interviews, selection examinations and GK contests – would have Qs on APJ for sure and it is imperative to know factual details, as contained in the book.  The book which was priced at Rs.50/- was being sold at Rs.20/- to benefit the common man.

I was really impressed by the selling skills, the honest attempt to earn,  of this ordinary person ~ and brought a couple of books. ~upon telling him that the purchases are being made more appreciating his approach and skill – he parted a pleasant smile.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Sept. 2015.

Tianjin explosions - after more than a month, more information trickles

Tianjin  is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It is governed as one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of the PRC, and is thus under direct administration of the central government.  The land where Tianjin is located today was created in ancient times by sedimentation of various rivers entering the sea at Bohai Gulf, including the Yellow River which entered the sea in this area at one point.  There are diverse viewpoints for the origin of the name, "Tianjin". One version states that "Tianjin" as a word initially appeared in the poems of Qu Yuan, a famous patriotic poet of Chu State in the Warring States period.

We have been reading more about Tianjin, due to the series of explosions that killed over one hundred people and injured hundreds of others that  occurred at a container storage station at the Port of Tianjin on 12th August 2015. The first two explosions occurred within 30 seconds of each other at the facility, which is located in the Binhai New Area of Tianjin, China. Fires caused by the initial explosions continued to burn uncontrolled throughout the weekend, repeatedly causing secondary explosions, with eight additional explosions.  The cause of the explosions was not immediately known,  but Chinese state media reported that at least the initial blast was from unknown hazardous materials in shipping containers at a plant warehouse owned by Ruihai Logistics, a firm specializing in handling hazardous materials.

Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics is a privately held logistics firm that  handles hazardous chemicals within the Port of Tianjin, such as compressed air, flammable and corrosive substances, oxidizing agents, and toxic chemicals.  There are some reports that the licence had expired a couple of months earlier.  A report in South China Morning Post states that investigations into the blast have uncovered evidence of corruption and dereliction of duty on behalf of officials. Those found responsible of such wrongdoing would be held fully accountable, whoever they were, Premier Li Keqiang  is quoted as stating  after hearing from the investigation panel.  “Blood should not be shed in vain.” Various departments should learn from the accident and improve industrial safety, he added.

In a rare move, the investigation panel is being headed by the Ministry of Public Security – usually such panels are headed by the State Administration of Work Safety.  Li’s remarks, which came more than a month since the explosions on August 12, coincided with an announcement by local government of compensation plans for homeowners living near the site. However, may of the residents say the plans will not be enough to get their lives back on track. About a week after the blasts the government agreed to buy back about 10,000 homes following repeated protests by owners who blamed lax regulations for their loss. In defiance of the official compensation plans, some owners sealed their buildings and now guard the gates. Some would fight it employing lawyers, while some tired of the negotiations, are ready to accept the deals.

In another news, it is reported that a Chinese firefighter, who slipped into coma after receiving serious injuries in the country's worst industrial disaster at Tianjin port, regained consciousness 40 days after the incident. Zhang Chaofang, 19, recovering at Tianjin First Center Hospital is now able to speak, his doctor Gao Hongmei said.

He was comatose when transferred to the intensive care unit of the hospital on August 13, he suffered extensive burns, traumatic brain injuries, respiratory failure, as well as kidney and liver damage, Gao added. Zhang received four skin graft operations and all the grafted skin has survived, Gao said.  It is reported that on Sept 17,  tears were spotted dripping down his cheek after his mother called his name. The next day, his hand moved, attempting to touch his mother's face.

The blasts which rocked where house at the port city is also disastrous for the country's firefighting unit as 104 firemen were killed besides 11 police officers and 55 civilians. Sad indeed.   

British Press report that Insurer RSA has been left out in the cold by its larger rival Zurich Insurance, which suddenly pulled out of a £5.6bn bid and revealed it faces hefty losses caused by last month’s explosions at the Chinese port of Tianjin. Zurich took the blame for the collapse of the talks the day before it was due to table a formal offer, causing a 21% fall in RSA’s share price. As well as citing a $275m (£175m) of losses caused by the industrial accident in Tianjin last month, it outlined problems in its US car insurance arm rather than the discovery of any irregularities inside RSA for abandoning the talks. While RSA responded to the unexpected announcement by stressing it was trading better than it had expected, it failed to prevent a £1bn drop in its stock market value after the 106p fall in its shares to 403p. This left the stock below where it was trading when Zurich’s interest in a takeover was first revealed in July.

Zurich’s boss Martin Senn started exploring the 550p a bid share for RSA after telling investors he had $3bn of cash to spend on deals. But he was facing tough questions after Zurich blamed the “recent deterioration in the trading performance in the group’s general insurance business” for terminating the talks with RSA just a day before required to make a bid under takeover rules. The collapse of the talks also presented a fresh challenge to Stephen Hester, the RSA boss who stood to receive £8.5m if the deal was completed after joining only18 months ago being forced out of Royal Bank of Scotland. One his first moves was tapping shareholders for £773m and shrinking the business to focus on the UK & Ireland, Scandinavia and Canada.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Sept. 2015.