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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy days are here again ~ India wins Jr World Cup in Hockey 2016

It is going to be a nerve-wracking day at Chepauk ~ after Karun Nair tryst with destiny – that 303* joining the elite club where  Virender Sehwag was a loner ! – some of us are following Tamil Nadu’s fortunes in Ranji as well.   Kaushik Gandhi's double ton and Vijay Shankar's century helped Tamil Nadu garner three points, owing to their first innings lead, and grab the third position in the points-table of Group A. BCCI has since announced the revised schedule – Semis are to be held in Rajkot and Nagpur respectively, with both matches starting on 1 January, 2017. QF Line up will be :

Hyderabad vs Mumbai in Raipur; . Karnataka vs Tamil Nadu in Visakhapatnam;  Gujarat vs Odisha in Jaipur  and  Haryana vs Jharkhand in Vadodara

None of the seven venues named for the knockouts is home for any of the eight teams that have qualified, ensuring that each match will be on completely neutral territory – a new experiment that the Indian cricket board has implemented for the 2016-17 season.  According to a  report, Ravichandran Ashwin and Murali Vijay have been picked by the Tamil Nadu team for the knockouts.

Just as we remember 25th June 1983, 29th July 1980 is a day to remember for Hockey fans – the day India won Gold in Men’s Hockey in Moscow Onlympics.  The team under  V Baskaran's leadership then, stood like a rock when Spain's rampaging Juan Amat had lurked the defence line in the last ten minutes as he almost pulled off parity.

Back home, this week, there was reason to celebrate as India played with intensity and imagination, seldom allowing their opponents any foothold in the match. The celebrations that ensued were understandably wild. Gurjant Singh would have lived the scenario several times in his dreams: a World Cup final, the crowd cheering him, and he beating the goalkeeper with a fierce hit. But even in his dreams, the 21-year-old wouldn’t have executed it with such precision. Varun Kumar, the scorer of India’s first goal in the junior World Cup, spotted an idle Gurjant near the Belgian ‘D’. You could have forgiven the European side for assuming it was harmless to leave Gurjant unmarked. It isn’t India’s style, after all, to play long, aerial balls. But this Indian style has ditched several old ways. And the Belgians would realize that the hard way. That Varun dared to play the lobbed ball – that travelled half the length of the field from right to left – was a surprise in itself. Belgian defenders were caught off guard and they failed to control it. Gurjant was the first to reach. He controlled the wobbling ball with the two deft touches and took it away from the defenders. To close Gurjant’s angle, Belgium goalkeeper Loic van Doren charged towards him. Gurjant looked up, saw the tournament’s best goalkeeper running towards him, then spotted faintest of gaps between him at the post, and from an acute angle, unleashed a reverse hit that flew past Van Doren.

It was one of the finest goals of the tournament, if not the finest. And it couldn’t have come at a more crucial moment. That goal, in the 8th  minute, changed how the final would be played.  India beat Belgium to be crowned as Champion. The 2016 Men's Hockey Junior World Cup was the 11th  edition of the Hockey Junior World Cup held in Lucknow, India from 8–18 December 2016.  It certainly was the hardwork and unity as a team that got them there – and there were many sacrifices too, writes Indian Express.

Harendra Singh, the team’s coach, days before the team left for its first tournament in 2014, received a call from his family informing him that his cousin – an Armyman – had sacrificed his life while fighting insurgents in Mizoram.   The Johor Cup in Malaysia in October 2014 was the first time Harendra had a proper assessment of his players. He had been appointed coach six months earlier, but they had been involved only in camps. This wasn’t the only tragic incident Harendra suffered as he prepared his bunch of world beaters. In December last year, as the team’s preparation entered its home stretch, Harendra’s son injured his right eye in a freak accident while playing football. His retina was damaged to such an extent that 80 per cent vision was lost in the eye. Others in the team too made sacrifices. Santa Singh, who started in the midfield in every match of the tournament, chose to skip his sister’s funeral last year while back-up goalkeeper Pathak did not travel to Nepal for his father’s last rites because he wanted to travel with the team for one of their most important exposure tournaments before the World Cup in July.

These incidents brought the team together, Harendra says. “We have a Whatsapp group so everyone gathered in the team meeting room within five minutes. And they would not let the player who suffered the loss stay alone even for a moment. Someone or the other was there to take care of him,” Harendra says. The coach himself focused on the emotional and psychological needs of the players, knowing well that these are the two key areas where Indian players had invariably faltered. In his first meeting with the players, he reminded them of the Sydney Olympics debacle, where India conceded a late goal against Poland to miss out on a semifinals berth.

Hockey fans should relisht he  golden moments of Indian hockey rather than recalling  that one humiliating loss killed the backbone taking away the fanfare and following for the game – that dark day of Dec 1982 when the whole Nation sat before TV sets watching Indo Pak game in the finals of Delhi Asiad – and sadly, team lost badly.  In the 1982 Asian Games final, India met with arch rivals Pakistan. Back then, hockey, like cricket later, was the symbol of Indian pride. In a country deprived of sporting glory, the legend of hockey was the perfect metaphor for a country trying to hold its head high on the world stage. Its stars, Zafar Iqbal and Mohammad Shahid, were extensions of India's honour.

         India raced to the finals, decimating every opponent by huge margins in the group stage, scoring 37 goals and conceding just one. The team's performance on home ground, the euphoria of holding a successful Games and of winning 13 gold medals, gave Indians the hope that a win in the hockey finals, by beating Pakistan, would be the crowning glory. It was not to be. After scoring the first goal through a penalty stroke and triggering raucous premature celebrations across the country, India lost 1-7 to Pakistan, whose forwards attacked the Indian half like a cavalry on a roll. The prime minister, stunned by the humiliation, left midway; fans started crying and the mood quickly turned funereal. That day, stoves were not lit in many Indian households.

Indian Express now adds that at Lucknow, it became obvious that Indians still love their hockey. On the day of the final, Lucknow's Dhyan Chand Stadium was spilling over with spectators. "It was a record turnout for a junior World Cup match, forcing the organisers to open sections of the stadium which were covered until Sunday, for the fear that everyone may not accommodated. They could’ve built a couple of more tiers and still run short of space to accommodate people." That Indian hockey is on the upswing is apparent. Over the past few years, the Indian team has eclipsed all its Asian rivals, racing ahead of Pakistan, demolishing Malaysia and South Korea, who after the highs of the 80s and the 90s appear to be in terminal decline.

The junior team's victory could well be the big-bang moment just as 1983 WC win was for Cricket.  This is a team that can dominate the kind of hockey that is played on astro-turf with its fast, relentless attacks that come in unending waves and score from unexpected angles and positions. The good news for Indian hockey is that some of these players would soon replace the ageing players in the senior team and give a new push to India's quest for glory.

Could we see the resurgence ~ Happy days are back again for Indian Hockey

Regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th Dec 2016.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Karun Nair completes more than what KL Rahul missed out ! ~ a triple century

Chepauk Tests are interesting ! ~ I have been writing about Pongal tests. Remember that famous Test win at Chepauk in Pongal 1975 – bespectacled Anshuman Gaekwad made a good 80 in the 1st innings, while all talk would be on that lovely 97 of Gundappa Viswanath.  Gaekwad  played some gutsy innings taking lot of body hits in Caribbean tours.  In test no. 962 at Jullundhur in Sept 1983, he grinded Pak attack to a patient  201 playing 671 minutes facing 436 deliveries. .. .. then there was Virender Sehwag, the Sultan of Multan who scored the first triple century for India ~ in 2008 against South Africa, in Chepauk, he repeated – making 300 off just 278 balls. 

Not many would have fancied Karun Nair – who is the talk of all media – he had failed in the 1st two tests … yesterday made somewhat ordinary 71 off 136 balls ad today he added 232 more in 245 balls.. the triple coming much faster as Kohli declared immediately on his reaching the great landmark.  Nair rocked on to the backfoot and thumped Adil Rashid’s delivery of the 191st over  to  become only the third player in Test history to turn his maiden hundred into a triple.

Thanks to Karun Nair’s triple century, India amassed 759 for seven – their highest ever Test score – as England’s misery continued in the fifth Test at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. The total also marked the most runs ever conceded by an England side in a Test innings.

Resuming on 391 for four in response to England’s first innings 477, and despite the late loss of KL Rahul one short of his double century on day three, the hosts soon took the first innings lead and from there the game resembled a batting exhibition on a lifeless pitch. After Nair completed his maiden Test century, Murali Vijay departed LBW to Liam Dawson for 29 to leave India 435 for five, but England’s hopes of ending the series with a win soon evaporated as first Ravichandran Ashwin (67) and then Ravindra Jadeja (an entertaining 51 from 55 balls, another wicket for the debutant Dawson) helped themselves to a slice of Indian history. When Jadeja departed, India were on 754 and Nair on 299, and after surviving a half-hearted LBW appeal the stocky Nair flashed the next ball to the boundary to take his score to 303 from 381 balls. On the fourth day alone, he added 232 runs from 245. And with that, his side declared with a lead of 282 runs.

That gave the Indian spin attack a brief run at England’s openers before close but despite some nervous moments Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings will resume on day five with their side 12 without loss, though with little to encourage them of any consolation.

Karun Nair got to his hundred in 185 balls. His double ton in 306 deliveries; and the third in 381 balls. To highlight his remarkable achievement even further, if it needs any added adulation, it is just his third Test match or his third Test inning to be more precise.

He joined Virender Sehwag who is the only other Indian with a triple hundred to his name. The ‘Sultan of Multan’  who has two 300s to his credit was quick to greet him with his signature wording on twitter. 

During his stint in the middle, Karun Nair  became the third Indian batsman to turn a maiden century into a double ton with Dileep Sardesari (200*) and Vinod Kambli (224). He thus became the highest scoring Indian with a maiden Test century.  Before Karun Nair, Gary Sobers (365*) and Bobby Simpson (311) had turned their maiden centuries into a triple ton in the past.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Dec 2016.

there existed slavery ! and insurance of slaves ! for the benefit of owners !!! dark age

IN 1856, just five years before the outbreak of the Civil War, the Charter Oak Life Insurance Company printed a pamphlet offering life insurance.  For just $2, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee residents, for example, could purchase a 12-month policy from the Hartford-based insurer – premium obviously was based on age; older the person insured, costlier it was.  Though the company no longer exists, these policies are drawing increasing attention nearly 150 years later because of a lawsuit that was filed in United States District Court in Brooklyn !  Do you find anything odd or eerie !

Life Insurance is not my cup of tea ~ and my first learning of the same was naturally from following Cricket. 25th June 1983, Kapil Dev standing proudly with the Cup – Prudential World Cup, made me read about - Prudential plc, an international financial services group with significant operations in Asia, the US and the UK.  Prudential was founded in London in 1848 – and one of its divisions is Insurance (Life Insurance).  As Cricket fans would know, the  inaugural Cricket World Cup was hosted in 1975 by England, the only nation able to put forward the resources to stage an event of such magnitude at the time. The first 3 (in 1975, 1979 & 1983) were played in England,  matches consisted of 60 six-ball overs per team, played during the daytime in traditional form, with the players wearing cricket whites and using red cricket balls.

Life insurance is a contract  insurer promises to pay a designated beneficiary a sum of money (the benefit) in exchange for a premium, upon the death of an insured person (often the policy holder) or on maturity of the policy. Depending on the contract, other events such as terminal illness or critical illness can also trigger payment.  Life Assurance dates back to centuries, often referred to he one traced to William Talbot and Sir Thomas Allen.  As in most forms of insurance, there is ‘Sum assured’.   Sum assured is the amount that your beneficiary will get if you die during the policy term. According to one thumb rule, quoted by many financial planners, this sum assured should be at least 12-15 times your annual expenses or 8-10 times your annual income. If you have a debt, such as a home loan, factor in that too when calculating your cover.

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda) has mandated a minimum level of insurance in these products so that they don’t end up being pure investment products. The minimum cover depends upon your policy term and age.  The minimum sum assured or the death benefit on a life insurance policy shall not be less than 10 times the annual premium for individuals below 45 years of age. And for individuals above 45 years of age, minimum sum assured is 7 times the annual premium.

Though it makes a sad reading, it is a fact that there existed slavery ! – man enslaving fellow humans !! Slaves were considered property, and they were property because they were black. Their status as property was enforced by violence -- actual or threatened.  Enslaved African Americans could never forget their status as property, no matter how well their owners treated them.   Human beings who live and work together are bound to form relationships of some kind, and some masters and slaves  could genuinely  have cared for each other; however, the caring was tempered and limited by the power imbalance under which it grew.   Masters and slaves were never equal. 

This is no post on ‘treatment lf slaves’ – but on insurance of slaves, who were even treated as cargo when in transit and policies inured to the benefit of masters.  Slave insurance in the United States has become a matter of historical and legislative interest. In the history of slavery in the United States, a number of insurance companies wrote policies insuring slave owners against the loss, damage, or death of their slaves. The fact that a number of insurers continue the businesses that serviced these policies has brought attention to this history.

Now, if you are to read the first para again, in 1856, just five years before the outbreak of the Civil War, the Charter Oak Life Insurance Company printed a pamphlet offering slave owners in six Southern states the option of insuring the lives of their slaves. For just $2, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee residents, for example, could purchase a 12-month policy from the Hartford-based insurer on a 10-year-old domestic servant that would yield $100 if the slave died. Policies for older slaves, like a 45-year-old, were more expensive, costing the slave owner $5.50 a year.

Though the company no longer exists, these policies are drawing increasing attention nearly 150 years later because of a lawsuit that was filed in United States District Court in Brooklyn, in late March against Aetna Inc. and two other companies, claiming that they profited from the slave trade. In Connecticut, where insurance has long been a principal industry, the documents exhibit a painful reminder of the past, especially in a Northern state that is proud of its abolitionist ancestors like John Brown.  ''It's not pleasant to talk about it today, to put it mildly, but slaves were insured just like any other thing that the farmers owned, that the slave owners owned,'' said Tom Baker, director of the Insurance Law Center at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

New York Life, the nation’s third-largest life insurance company, opened in Manhattan’s financial district in the spring of 1845. The firm possessed a prime address — 58 Wall Street — and a board of trustees populated by some of the city’s wealthiest merchants, bankers and railroad magnates. Sales were sluggish that year. So the company looked south. There, in Richmond, Va., an enterprising New York Life agent sold more than 30 policies in a single day in February 1846. Soon, advertisements began appearing in newspapers from Wilmington, N.C., to Louisville as the New York-based company encouraged Southerners to buy insurance to protect their most precious commodity: their slaves.

Alive, slaves were among a white man’s most prized assets. Dead, they were considered virtually worthless. Life insurance changed that calculus, allowing slave owners to recoup three-quarters of a slave’s value in the event of an untimely death.

James De Peyster Ogden, New York Life’s first president, would later describe the American system of human bondage as “evil.” But by 1847, insurance policies on slaves accounted for a third of the policies in a firm that would become one of the nation’s Fortune 100 companies. Georgetown, Harvard and other universities have drawn national attention to the legacy of slavery this year as they have acknowledged benefiting from the slave trade and grappled with how to make amends. But slavery also generated business for some of the most prominent modern-day corporations, underscoring the ties that many contemporary institutions have to this painful period of history.  Like New York Life, Aetna and US Life also sold insurance policies to slave owners, particularly those whose laborers engaged in hazardous work in mines, lumber mills, turpentine factories and steamboats in the industrializing sectors of the South. US Life, a subsidiary of AIG, declined to comment on its slave policy sales. Wachovia, one of Wells Fargo’s predecessor companies, has apologized for its historic ties to slavery as have JPMorgan Chase and Aetna.

More than 40 other firms, mostly based in the South, sold such policies, too, though documentation is scarce and most closed their doors generations ago. New York Life survived. Its foray into the slave insurance business did not prove to be lucrative: The company ended up paying out nearly as much in death claims — about $232,000 in today’s dollars — as it received in annual payments. But in the span of about three years, it sold 508 policies, more than Aetna and US Life combined, according to available records. Now, the descendants of one of those slaves — who were recently identified by The New York Times — are coming to terms with the realization that one of the nation’s biggest insurance companies sold policies on their ancestors and hundreds of other enslaved laborers.

Policy No. 447 covered Nathan York, a slave who toiled in the Virginia coal mines where the earth often collapsed on its subterranean work force. Policy No. 1141 insured a slave known as Warwick, who fed the fiery furnaces on a Kentucky steamboat. Policy No. 1150 covered Anthony, who labored amid the whirling blades of a sawmill in North Carolina. The handwritten record of sales, insurance premiums and expenditures, many described here for the first time, illuminate the inner workings of a company born before the Civil War. That history has stirred anxiety among some New York Life executives, who take pride in their multiracial work force and customer base. They worry that news coverage about the company’s ties to slavery may overshadow their efforts to provide philanthropic support to the black community.

Insurance companies have gone on record putting their profound regret of their erstwhile act of such insurances.  The recent newsitem of NY Times put that - Officials typically insured the lives of white customers for $1,000 to $5,000 in the early years. Slaves, on the other hand, were considered property under the law and were typically insured for about $400, the records show, and some for as little as $200. Payouts from death claims usually went to the grieving relatives of white customers. In the case of slaves, however, it was the slave owners — who insured their laborers and paid the annual premiums — who collected.

The facts and figures and more importantly the cause of action [the nature of death of such insured slaves] makes a sad and disturbing reading .. .. ..

With sadness – S. Sampathkumar
19th Dec 2016.

PS : excerpted from various articles predominantly of

Sunday, December 18, 2016

KL Rahul's day out at Chepauk ~ and the missing single that saddens him !!

Sure, you rode a bi-cycle in your life… as all of us know, it is the roller chain that transfers power from the pedals to the back wheel, driving the cycle forward ~ and as could be seen the pedal has teeth … is it the available teeth or those missing teeth that moves the cycle forward ?

At Chepauk, in Test no. 2241, the day clearly belonged to KL Rahul – who however would rue the day !!  - Rahul managed a wonderfully fluent century, the fourth and the highest of his career;  his first in India. But for an aberration against Rashid just before the close, he would be celebrating wildly tonight.

Chennai has not witnessed any battles and is not the land of any kingdoms.  Many of us who have lived for ages in Chennai may not have seen this !  Sandwiched between landmarks, this has often escaped public glare.  On the one side is the Beach Road –  Opposite to Triumph of Labour Statue [Uzhaippalar Silai] lies the Ezhilagam Complex housing many State Govt. offices.  On the banks of Buckingham canal which once flowed and thorough which boat transportation occurred till Pondy, is a century old  building with a colourful history behind – touted as a fine example of Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, a style for which Madras became famous. It is called Chepauk palace and on the other banks is the famous Chepauk stadium – MA Chidambram Stadium.

Here are some tests… Test No. 708 – India won by 4 wickets against England;  Test No. 752 ever remembered by that classy knock of Vishwanath; great bowling of Andy Roberts and the defeat (100 runs at that) suffered by Clive Lloyd against Pataudi led Indians in 1975; Test no. 841 Kalicharran led WI lost to Gavaskar captained India in 1979; Test no. 869 – grand Indian win against Pakistan in 1980 – Kapil Dev Man of the Match, Sandip Patil made his debut;  Test no. 1089 Vivian Richards led WI lost badly (255 runs) to Ravi Shastri led Indians – Hirwant made dream debut taking 16 wickets – WV Raman and Ajay Sharma also made their debuts….   

                  ~ all Indian wins …. Not the only link… all Chepauk tests… and more importantly the Pongal Tests !!!...............  the ground at Chepauk has been in existence from imperial days – the first ever test here was in 1933-34 when Douglas Jardine played Ck Nayudu led team.  Crowds have always come in large numbers  ~ it is not only the numbers – they are reputed to be most knowledgeable and appreciative.. somehow some sheen has been lost after Pongal tests. It was unwise to have a match in Dec ~ cyclone Vardah almost proved that – yet the Test is on [after the tearful farewell to respectful CM Ms J Jayalilathaa]

I remember seeing that Pongal Test at Chepauk in Jan 1977.  Critics booed India for their lacklustre performance.  Those were the days when Test matches had a rest day ! In that Test no. 793, England opened with Dennis Amiss and Bob Woolmer who was born in Kanpur and later died in Jamaica mysteriously during WC 2007, when he was the coach of Pakistan.  Tony Greig was the captain- John Brearly, Roger Tolchard, Derek Randall, Alan Knott, John Lever, Chris Old, Bob Willis and Derek Underwood played and were all out for 262.  Bishan Bedi took 4; Madanlal and Prasanna 2 apiece.  India could muster only 164 – Lever took 5/59.  England were bowled out for 185 [Chandra took 5/50; Prasanna 4/55] and chasing 284, Indians were bundled out for 83 – Willis  3/18 and Underwood 4/28 inflicting the damage. .. .. and that was the infamous Lever Vaseline test too !!!

Today, (18th Dec 2016) Chepauk was on its feet. It was deafening. KL Rahul and Virat Kohli sprinted; Kohli rejoiced Rahul’s three figure mark midway. .. .. sadly, towards the close of play – while everyone was celebrating Rahul’s feat, he perhaps would be melancholic, having been dismissed for 199 – 1 run short of a maiden 200.  He joined a sad but illustrious list of 9 Batsmen who have been dismissed for 199 in Tests - KL Rahul is the second Indian in this list, after Mohammad Azharuddin, who fell for 199 against Sri Lanka in Kanpur 30 years ago. In all there have been 11 instances of batsmen scoring 199 in Tests, including two occasions when batsmen were not out at that score.  All those happened after 1984.  Mudassar Nazar was the 1st ; Kumara Sangakkara and Andy Flower remained unbeaten on 199*

All headlines of Cricket today is - KL Rahul fell one short of a maiden double-hundred after leading India's response to England's 477 in excellent batting conditions at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Having been at the crease for more than 100 overs, Rahul fell with stumps imminent. He walked off distraught, after reaching for a loopy, wide ball from Adil Rashid and spooning a catch to cover point.  At stumps, India trail England by 86 with six wickets in hand, with Nair batting on 71. With him on 17 was M Vijay, who came in at No. 6 rather than his customary position at the top of the order because of a shoulder injury sustained while fielding.

In the last ball of 82nd over, with Rahul on 154* - there was a single off Joe Root with Nair running to non-striker end.  The throw was bad, and a ruing Johnny Bairstow did not take the bails off – was it frustration or a fumble ? – Rahul was clearly out of the crease then !!

Regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Dec 2016.

Pic credit :

Saturday, December 17, 2016

migrated deer in Harlem dies due to stress !!

It would surprise a visitor and some residents may not even be aware, that the city of Chennai houses a deer park in the middle.  It is the Guindy National park, established in 1976 ranging 2.82 Km2. The park is an extension of the grounds surrounding Raj Bhavan, formerly known as the ‘Guindy Lodge’, the official residence of the Governor of Tamil Nadu.  The National park has various vegetation zones mainly tropical dry evergreen flora and is home to  spotted deer, black bucks and many other animals too.  Cyclone Vardah wrecked havoc on the green lung of the city, felling trees everywhere.  Reports suggest that the Vandalur Zoo and the Guindy National Park present a picture of devastation with hundreds of trees uprooted inside. 

Miles away, a white-tailed deer that went from being a minor celebrity in Harlem to a cause célèbre after its capture – is in the midst of some not so happy ending !

The man facing criticism is - Bill de Blasio,  the 109th  mayor of New York City. From 2010 to 2013, he held the citywide office of New York City public advocate. Manhattan is the most densely populated borough of New York City, its economic and administrative center, and the city's historical birthplace. Mayor de Blasio on Friday refused to stay the execution of a deer that wandered into Manhattan — saying it would be more humane to kill it because relocation would lead to a long, traumatizing death. “There’s no other option,” the mayor insisted on WNYC radio, rejecting Gov. Cuomo’s offer to try to safely relocate the deer. The deer isn’t injured, but de Blasio said the process of moving it would be too “traumatizing” and lead to “all sorts of extended pain” because the deer wouldn’t be able to adapt to a new environment.

The animal-rights lovers  were quick to blast the mayor.  The one in news is a deer that swam across the East River to Manhattan in a vain bid to find a mate and then was living  in a park in Harlem for weeks; was given a reprieve from a death sentence.  The wayward buck was set to be put to death after galloping merrily for weeks around a housing complex.   The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, tweeted : 'We want to do everything we can to save the deer. We have told the city that the feds or we can transport it upstate today.' ;  while reports suggested that the Mayor felt there was 'no other option' but to euthanize the deer.

That was not to be a firm position ~ as the Mayor later relented.  The deer was guessed to have swum across from the Bronx, which is attached to the mainland. Some plans were on to transport it to Newyork.  The deer was first spotted earlier this month in a copse in Jackie Robinson Park and has been living there ever since.  The State position was that  euthanization was the preferred route, as it was felt unsafe to relocate deer.

~ ~ ~  and  .. then the  deer died, presumably due to the considerable amount of stress it had experienced in a short period. The preliminary causes of death, according to a New York City parks spokesman, were stress and the day and a half that the deer spent at a city animal shelter in East Harlem.

Now more people are talking about the deer and the way it was treated !!!  -  the East River is a salt water tidal estuary in New York City. The waterway, which is actually not a river despite its name, connects Upper New York Bay on its south end to Long Island Sound on its north end.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Dec 2016.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Demonetisation ~ serpentine Queues ~ are you among the affected ?

India was hit by a storm on the night of 8th Nov 2016 ~ people first rumoured and then heard in disbelief – PM Shri Narendra Modi’s announcement that the currencies in the denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 would become invalid by night.   People in cities were glued to TVs and news channels following US Presidential polls, when something trembled under their carpet.  The major unprecedented step  to check black money,  did cause panic.

People were given long time [from 10th Nov to 31st Dec 2016] to deposit whatever they legally had with them [in 500s & 1000s] in their bank accounts and a small portion was allowed to be changed instantaneously.  There have been serpentine queues in front of ATMs and bank branches and many have been making negative criticisms too ! Before we read further, how many of us had lakhs of Rupees [in 500s & 1000s] and did anyone of us have had any difficulty in depositing the same in Bank account .. .. [personally, I  waited for a fortnight before walking to my friendly bank to deposit, had only 3 persons standing before ~ the transaction took less than 15 minutes ! ]

Economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das today said initially the focus was on printing Rs 2,000 notes and now the focus has been shifted to Rs 500 as there is enough of former now. He also estimated that in another 10 days about 50 percent of the value of notes demonetised will be replaced. He added that  the enforcement agencies are conducting surgical action of cash hoarders referring to the increasing income tax raids on various individuals and bank branches.

Now to the serpentine queues in front of banks and ATMs – there appears problem – common men  are spending long hours and put to difficulty – what defies understanding is –the ATM dispenses one single note Rs.2000 [limit is 2400 !] – one teasing Q is how many of salaried people like us withdraw every month – is that ever in lakhs ? ~ [for many there would be nothing to withdraw after taking 30000 or so in a month] – then Rs.24000/- a week [when available] should not be presenting any problem at all !! – also sections of 10 / 20 / 50 / 100 would have been hoarded in some households and such money should last for a couple of months. 

While there is no denying the fact that common man is put to hardship – is the media hype real ? are people really dying standing in queues.  In Tamil TV channels, in Discussion Forums, you could see and hear comrades ask typically :
o   Are Adanis & Ambanis standing in the Queue for exchange ?
o   Can such people conduct marriage at the stipulated withdrawal limit of Rs.2,50,000/-  - how utopian
~ nothing can be misleading and farther than the truth than their contentions !! Without thinking of Adani & Ambani – think of any Rich person you know – how many persons he has working ? – have you ever seen them standing in any queue ?
The much touted speech on 2.50 lakh limit is cash withdrawal for marriage and not the limit of expenditure.  In a typical way, the South Indian marriages are conducted – you fix marriage hall; arrange famous caterer; another contractor for miscellaneous; buy dress for relatives …. and the like – now all these can be done by swipe of card / cheque / other payments – where is the trouble ?

Bank officials / Unions are protesting .. yes, many of them did work hard – again in some ways, dispensing only Rs.10000/- per individual, that too in 2000 currency could have been done with much easier aplomb – may be in more counters also (they would have had their share of trouble and stress) – but the following news are disturbing…. !!!

In a fresh raid conducted at the Axis Bank's Noida branch, Income tax department  unearthed deposits worth Rs 60 crore from twenty fake accounts. A TOI report said these deposits were found in the accounts belonging to low-income workers and labourers. The I-T department found these fake accounts after a jeweller sold gold of Rs 600 crore post the 8 November demonetisation announcement, and later deposited the money at the Noida branch, the TOI report added.  This came after the I-T department conducted a raid at the bank's Chandni Chowk branch in New Delhi last week where they uncovered Rs 100 crore deposited in 44 fake accounts.

Another report states that Chief Executive Officer of a Jaipur co-operative bank went missing after officials of the Income-Tax department swooped down on several of its branches.  Before some cry foul on Private banks, IT officials unearthed nearly Rs 10 crore of unaccounted money from lockers of a Bank of Maharashtra branch in Pune. Authorities are probing the involvement of bank officials in the illegal stashing of black money.  The system is not to be blamed but there are some blacksheep derailing the good move. 

Now read this report in today’s Economic Times :  Long queues in front of the ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) are not necessarily due to lack of currency supply alone, but banks, which get the supplies from the Reserve Bank, are hoarding the cash themselves to service their own customers instead of putting them in the vending machine, say executives.  Companies which manage the ATM network of the country and transport cash say that they are receiving less than 10% of the currency that is being supplied into the system by the Reserve Bank of India. That hoarding at the bank level is holding back ATMs getting replenished even though most of the 2.2 lakh ATMs have been recalibrated to dispense new currency notes.

While the RBI may be deliberately reducing the cash availability to boost digital payments, banks are helping their preferred, priority customers with cash.  “Initially we were not getting cash because there was a serious shortage of supply, but now supply has gone up significantly but the ATM network of the country is still running dry, because banks are keeping the cash with their branches and not giving to us,” said an official from a company which manage a major ATM network, but who did not want to be identified.  Industry sources say that the larger banks in the country are keeping 90% of the cash that they are receiving in their branches to be distributed only to their customers, with wealthier ones getting preference.  “If they put money in the ATMs they fear that smaller bank customers will take away the cash, hence they are keeping it in their branches so that they can service their own customers,” said the person quoted above.  

As per data released by the Reserve Bank of India currency worth Rs 4.6 lakh crore has been released to the public through bank counters and ATMs between November 10 and December 10, which shows that around Rs 15,000 crore was pumped in every day. “Now the number has gone up beyond Rs 20,000 crore, still we are not getting our share to replenish the ATM network,” said an official with a cash logistics company. “This is causing the ATMs to remain empty,” he added.  Further they said that instead of filling up ATMs with Rs 50 lakh which was the norm previously, now banks are not putting more than Rs 5 lakh per ATM. “This is causing most of the ATMs to get empty within few hours of starting service,” said one of the officials quoted above.

There is confusion !!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

16th Dec 2o16.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

HC makes some harsh comments on Insurer's (PSU) dealing MACT claims

                 Every road in every city bustles with traffic - with the increasing no. of vehicles, congested roads, speed, recklessness, urbanization, transport vehicles – accidents on the road are common place. 

Many of us have seen some accidents – death and injuries are not to be construed at medico legal phenomena alone. There are many profound psychological and social consequences apart from the death or the injuries. The sufferings can seldom be quantified in financial terms. More significant would be the horrific trauma caused to those bereaved by the sudden, unexpected snatching away of the bread winner.  Motor Insurance is compulsory ~ all vehicles on public road should compulsory have insurance – not a policy covering the vehicle or its owner but some, which are stated in the Motor Vehicles Act itself.

In days of yore, to give effective rights to the person injured or expired in an accident, Fatal Accidents Act, 1885 was enacted in India. This Act provided only a procedure and a right of named legal heirs to claim compensation from the person committing negligence. In 1939, Motor Vehicles Act, a statute consolidated the laws relating to motor vehicles. This has since been replaced by MV Act 1988.  Motor Accident Claims Tribunal [MACT] have been set up in accordance with the statute and the injured or the legal representatives of deceased can file claim application in MACT.

The Motor Vehicles Act and the setting up of MACT is considered beneficial legislation in nature – a legislation that has a broader view considering the welfare of people.  MACTs are set up for providing correct and speedy compensation to the victims of road accidents. 

Motor Insurance is compulsory and all vehicles (other than Govt vehicles) must possess valid Certificate of Insurance.  Though Motor constitutes major portfolio of most Insurers, it is loss prone too.  Over the years, the no. of accidents have risen and so did the quantum of awards.  Perhaps the premium is still not enough.  The TP premium are tariffed and regulated by IRDA.  In Apr 2011, they had issued a notification reviewing the premium rates of Motor Third party insurance covers spelling out a specific formula.  Recently (Mar 2016) it was observed that the cost inflation index (CII) had increased by 5.57% over the previous year, i.e. from 1024 in FY 2014-15 to 1081 in FY 2015-16. Subsequently the rates were revised upwards.

When there is a road accident – the injured or the legal heirs (if deceased) file petition before MACT claiming compensation against the vehicle owner impleading the Insurer also.  After due procedure, the Hon’ble Court passes award against the owner / Insurer and by virtue of Policy, Insurers effect payment of compensation.  Here is a recent instance of a MACT claim  (reported in The Hindu) – whence the Honble High Court of Madras commented that the work of Officials of Govt Insurers is detrimental to the interests of the Companies.  Here below is the news reproduced :

The Madras High Court Bench has said that it has every reason to believe that officials of public-sector insurance companies often collude with claimants in motor accident cases and let them walk away with huge amounts of money as compensation, without placing the true facts of the case before motor accident claims tribunals. This is to the detriment of the insurance companies the officials work for, the court said. Justice N Kirubakaran made the observation last Friday while passing interim orders on two appeals lodged by United India Insurance challenging an award for INR 6.67 lakhs  passed by the Tirunelveli Motor Accident Claims Tribunal in favour of two injured motorcyclists though the offending car did not have a valid insurance policy on the day of the incident, reported the local media.

“These appeals would highlight as to how the public-sector undertakings are functioning and how the officials are acting negligently and without any responsibility in a manner prejudicial to the interest of the insurance companies,” the judge said. He summoned the Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) of United India Insurance to the court on 22 December to explain the "negligence and carelessness" of officials which were repeated in motor accident claim cases. The CMD was ordered to be present in the court along with details of the quantum of money that had been paid by the insurance company towards third party claims in the last 10 years. “If insurance companies are going to defend their cases in this fashion, it would cause losses to the companies which are already incurring heavy losses in respect of third-party claims running to hundreds of crores of rupees,” the judge said.

“It is also brought to the notice of this court that counterstatements are not properly prepared ... and there is collusion between some of the insurance lawyers and claimants/counsels and officials of insurance companies prejudicing the rights of those companies. This aspect has to be looked into very seriously. “This court has every reason to believe that even the officials of the insurance companies are not properly giving instructions and are defending the case with design. This kind of failure or negligence should be curtailed or prevented.”

Insurance policy:  During the course of the hearing, the judge said it was difficult to comprehend how the insurance officials could not have brought up the fact that the car lacked a valid insurance policy on 5 January 2014 when the accident occurred on Tirunelveli-Kovilpatti Main Road though the car owner had renewed the expired insurance policy on 7 January. He pointed out that the tribunal had directed the insurance company to pay INR5.59 lakh to the injured motorcyclist and INR1.08 lakh to the pillion rider only in the belief that the car had a valid insurance on the date of accident. Otherwise, the owner of the car would have been directed to bear the liability of paying the award amount.

The vehicle had hit the motorcycle, injuring both the rider and the pillion rider. The insurance company had denied all allegations, except regarding the insurance policy. This showed how negligently the insurance company officials acted without responsibility, the court said. "There is no collection of materials to defend the case of the insurance company whether the vehicle is insured." Utmost care must be taken to defend the cases when the claim filed involved hundreds of thousands of rupees, the court said.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
11th Dec 2016.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

what drives people ~ and what propels this 82 year old lady !!

When you wake up in the morning, what is the passion that fuels you to start your day?  Are you living this in your work?   If others asked you what drives you to achieve, would the answer be obvious?   The triggers that motivate people to achieve are unique for everyone.  A Management Guru quoted people as saying it is : Money, incentives, rewards, recognitions, career advancement, edge over others, … and more !!!  - what is your take ????

In Vijay film ‘Sura’ – Vadivelu as Amber la would tickle bones.  In one scene, he would start elaborately for a boat race, spend money for his friends only to reach the venue by evening, when the race was scheduled in the morning !

There have been movies revolving around sea and fisherfolk  - Manickam is the leader of a fishing community named Thirukkai Meenavargal; their opposition group is Sura meenavargal.  There is enmity between the groups – Manickam, the honest, compassionate, principled man faces lots of trouble – add the usual village zamindar.  Manickam falls in love with the daughter of his rival – there comes the boat race, Manickam in disguise helps the rival party. – old timers would easily have identified this to be the storyline of ‘Padagotti’ the MG Ramachandran starrer. 

Sometime back, I had posted on a small bridge [of say 30 odd meters]  across Buckingham canal at Triplicane – at Triplicane MRTS Railway station that was a welcome move for the residents.  It helped the residents avoid walking a few extra meters in the not so well maintained roads and provided a sense of security being in the midst of people.  The bridge connected the Railway station to the other part of the road across the canal.   There are bridges in many parts of the globe.  The Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge spreading  164.8-kilometre (102.4 mi) is the longest bridge and it is in China’s Jiangsu province.  In India, Mahatma Gandhi Setu over the river Ganges connecting Patna in the south to Hajipur in the north of Bihar with length of 5,575 metres is the longest river bridge in India, inaugurated by  the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi.

The Thamirabarani River (தாமிரபரணி) originates from  Pothigai hills on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats at an elevation of 1,725 metres (5,659 ft) above sea-level. The river is joined by its headwater tributaries Peyar, Ullar, Pambar before it flows into the Kariyar Dam reservoir, where it meets Kariyar. Servalar joins the Thamirabarani before it enters into the Papanasam lower reservoir, which was built for the Papanasam Hydroelectric station. The river flows through Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts of the Tamil Nadu into the Gulf of Mannar. It is a divine place too – with some most beautiful temples including Nava Tirupathi sthalams across the river and the famous Nellaiyappar temple and Tiruchendur Murugan Temples nearby. 

The river banks are fertile areas and one can see banana plantations and other vegetations.  There are villages and there are some – accessing which is by crossing the river.  Here is a story in Hindu (Tamil edition – 24th Nov 2016) on a 81 year old lady, serving for the locals in crossing the river.  The article is translated for easy reading :

படகு மூலம் தினமும் நூற்றுக்கணக்கானோர் ஆற்றைக் கடக்க உதவுவதை, மேற்கொண்டு 81 வயதிலும் உழைப்பின் மகிமையை உணர்த்தி வருகிறார் கன்னியாகுமரி மாவட்டத்தைச் சேர்ந்த மூதாட்டி ஒருவர். குழித்துறை பகுதியில் ஓடும் தாமிரபரணி ஆற்றின் கரையில் இருக்கிறது அஞ்சாலிக் கடவு கிராமம். இங்கு ஆற்றின் ஒரு கரை விளாத்துறை ஊராட் சியிலும், மறுகரை மெது கும்மல் ஊராட்சியிலும் இருக் கிறது. இப்பகுதியில் ஆற்றைக் கடந்தால் 200 மீட்டருக்கும் குறைவான தூரத்தில் மறுகரைக்கு சென்று விடலாம். அதுவே சாலை வழியாக செல்ல வேண்டுமானால் 12 கிலோ மீட்டர் தூரம் சுற்ற வேண்டும். இவ்விரு ஊர்களுக்கும் இணைப்புப் பாலமாக, தனது படகை ஓட்டி, தன் வாழ்வை யும் சேர்த்து ஓட்டி வருகி றார் மூதாட்டி ரத்னபாய்(81). பள்ளிக் குழந்தைகள் முதல் தொழிலாளர்கள் வரை கூட்டம், கூட்டமாக காலை நேரத்தில் படகில் ஏறிக்கொள்கின்றனர்.

In Kanyakumar Dist – At Kuzhithurai area, Anjalikkadavu is a tiny village on the banks of Tamirabarani river.  On oneside is Vilathurai Panchayat and on the other is Methu Kummal Panchayat.  If one crosses the river, the distance is less than 200 metre but if one were to travel by road, it is 12 km approx..

The old lady Ms Rathnabai (81) has been providing that vital link, earning her livelihood and  in the process helping the local cross the river.  In the morning the area buzzes with school children and labourers.  The process is laborious – a strong rope is connected from one shore to the other.  She at her ripe old age, has no power to row with oars, she simply pulls alongside the rope, making the boat and its occupants cross the river.  She is quoted as saying : ‘rowing boat is our family tradition.  My husband Ramaiyan too was engaged in this but after his stroke disease, I had to enter this occupation.  At first, I used a long bamboo pole, then oars. Those who use the boat are basically poor people and they pay a Rupee or Two ~ and family runs on this revenue.  After a prolonged illness for a decade, my husband passed away.  I had 4 boys and 2 girl children and only a boy and a girl have survived. 

She continues to be bread-winner – age has taken its toll and she is unable to oar and pull the boat as she did earlier  - now the boat and her lifeboat are pulled by the rope. The rope would last for an year or so and would cost Rs.1000/- for renewing. To the tale of woes, she adds that the boat developed a hole an year ago.  As she had no money to repair, she could not run the boat services (!) for 5 months. The villagers felt the impact and requested continuance of her services.  She felt the need for continuing the service that their family had done over the years and feeling the need for helping the villagers, had a new boat bought by her grandson.

It perhaps is the work of Govt – Public Welfare Department – there are many village bodies with revenue too – but in life as it happens, the old lady feels it her responsibility and continues to row for the villagers – thinking of it as a service and not as a burden.  In a Metropolitan city, every educated man would ask – why should I do something for the society, it is the duty of Government and I pay taxes !! – then there are old persons like Rathnabai who do something beyond their capacity.  She is quoted as requesting the Governmental agencies help in a big measure to ensure that his family continues the tradition – or else, fears that the ferry service might end with her life.

One is certainly at a loss of words !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

8th Dec 2016.