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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Remembering 26/11; saluting our bravemen who saved the Nation

Today is a day -  Nation can never forget -  26/11 –the day,  when it Nation  under siege by militants from across the border.  On 21st  Nov 2012, -  Ajmal Kasab, the living  face of Mumbai terror  was hanged, almost  4 years after that incident that shocked India and entire World. The Nation can never forget that dreaded  day in 2008 when  Kasab and nine Pakistani gunmen launched a bloody attack on multiple locations in south Mumbai. Kasab and another gunman attacked Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in south Mumbai shooting train commuters. In this great Nation of ours, even the killer was given a fair trial – the entire legal process unfolded with Kasab being served food and he asking for Urudu papers and more.  India took  the trouble to conduct and ensure, that it believed in a proper justice system and would deal with attacks against its people according to the law.

The deadly terror attacks on Mumbai in 2008 numbed the entire nation. It changed the lives of many who witnessed the macabre dance of death and destruction on Mumbai's roads and inside the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel. On the eighth anniversary of the attacks, the citizens need to recall the gory of the 10 terrorists from Pakistan createing havoc in the city of Mumbai with more than 10 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks on hotels, a train station, a hospital and a Jewish community centre. It lasted for 3 long days, killing around 164 people and injuring more than 600 people.

It was on 21st  November, 2008 that ten terrorists left Pakistan in boat, and headed towards India.  They killed four fishermen and hijacked an Indian trawler, the Kuber and threatened the captain to sail to India on 23rd November. On 26th November, while they were 7km away from the Mumbai shore, the terrorists killed the captain, and headed towards Colaba in inflatable speedboats.

Today, reports state that Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was among the dignitaries who paid homage at the 26/11 police memorial site at the Mumbai Police Gymkhana in south Mumbai. "I pay homage to the brave policemen who fought for Mumbai's safety and laid down their lives for us on 26/11. We are proud of them and we will strive hard for safety and security of our state," Fadnavis said. "We will strengthen police force with better equipment. It is our priority," he is quoted as saying. Floral tributes were paid to those who laid down their lives while fighting terrorists who had attacked the metropolis on this day eight years ago. The official commemoration was held at Police Gymkhana where Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao laid a wreath and led the State in paying homage to all those who lost their lives in the terror attacks.  Also present were, Director-General of Police Satish Mathur, Mumbai Police Commissioner Datta Padsalgikar, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray. The guests also included the widows, orphans and other family members of the victims.

It anyone ever thought that terrorism affected only those who suffered personally or only those in Mumbai, our thinking is flawed. 

It is worth hearing Capt Raghu Raman speak on this : Capt on TerrorismCapt. Raghu Raman has  most unique career profiles spanning over 25 years. He spent eleven years as an officer in the Indian Armed Forces , followed by another eleven years in the corporate sector before joining the Government as CEO of the National Intelligence Grid.  We can take a lot of lessons from the army, but the most important one is leadership qualities. Raghu Raman, former CEO of the Indian National Intelligence Grid speaks at a Ted Talk at IIT-BHU, about the kind of on-the-ground decisions that the army had to take during the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai and what we can learn about leadership from that.

26.1. 2008  – a sad day it was for the Nation.!
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
celebrations at Taj - after terrorists were flushed out !

PS: much of these you would have read elsewhere – yet this is another tribute by an ordinary citizen feeling melancholic for that fateful day.

[photos taken from web : Indian Express & apblive]

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Indian way of curries, dhals, and rice dishes as old as Bronze age, says Cambridge research

It is often said that human’s first wish is ‘filling meals’… it is food that attracts most.

We all have seen it – multiple times, the great song "Vivaha Bhojanambu" ("Kalyana Samayal Saadham" in Tamil)  in ‘Maya Bazar’, the epic 1957 film,  produced by B. Nagi Reddy and Aluri Chakrapani under their banner, Vijaya Vauhini Studios. The film was shot in both Telugu and Tamil with the same title, but with a few differences in the cast. The story is an adaptation of the folk tale Sasirekha Parinayam, which in turn is based on the epic Mahabharata. It revolves around the roles of Krishna (N. T. Rama Rao) and Ghatotkacha (S. V. Ranga Rao), as they try to reunite Arjuna's son, Abhimanyu with Balarama's daughter.   The song in which Ghatothkaja satiates his anger is very famous !

We all like our food ~ none greater than a full mean served traditionally on banana leaves, starting with banana, sweet, rice, many many varieties, ending with curd rice.   It is our tradition to place a full /top leaf for guests [thalai vazhai]. Eating on banana leaves is a custom that dates back thousands of years, however its benefits are still relevant today.  Madras has been home to a network of hotels that serve pure vegetarian fare rooted in the Udupi region of Karnataka.  So the tagline ‘Udupi Hotel’ became a  benchmark for quality. Pulses are a great tasting addition to any diet.  

We have many of them ~ then there are curries and if some one were to ask how old it is ?  What would be your answer ? – do keep your mind away from the food that is made in week-end and stored in your refrigerator, getting served for a few days to come by !  Indians have been tucking into curries, dhals and rice dishes since the Bronze Age, according to new research, and probably even had takeaways. Ancient Indians used advanced farming techniques to bring in rice, bean, lentils tuck into curries, dhal and rice dishes - around 5000 years ago. Archaeologists have discovered that rice was cultivated in India at the same time farming techniques were developed in China, around 2800BC, and 400 years earlier than previously thought.

Indians have been tucking into curries, dhals and rice dishes since the Bronze Age, according to new research, and probably even had takeaways  - not my version, but an article reproduced from MailOnline of date.  Research discovered that the ancient Indus Civilisation, which streched across what is now Pakistan and northwest India during the Bronze Age, had massive cities of up to 40,000 people because their advanced farming techniques meant they could grow surplus food and spices that would be traded at central hubs. The new information confirms that the Indus people were the world's earliest farmers, after they were previously thought to have learned rice farming techniques from the Chinese.

The research also confirms that Indus populations were the earliest people to use complex multi-cropping strategies across both seasons, growing foods during summer, like rice, millets and beans, before swapping to winter crops in the colder seasons - like wheat and barley. Researchers from the University of Cambridge reckon a network of regional farmers supplied assorted produce to the markets of the civilisation's ancient cities. Study co-author Dr Jennifer Bates said: 'We found evidence for an entirely separate domestication process in ancient South Asia, likely based around the wild species Oryza nivara.

Archaeologists have discovered that rice was cultivated in India at the same time farming techniques were developed in China, around 2800BC, and 400 years earlier than previously thought - 'This led to the local development of a mix of 'wetland' and 'dryland' agriculture of local Oryza sativa indica rice agriculture before the truly 'wetland' Chinese rice, Oryza sativa japonica, arrived around 2000 BC. 'While wetland rice is more productive, and took over to a large extent when introduced from China, our findings appear to show there was already a long-held and sustainable culture of rice production in India as a widespread summer addition to the winter cropping during the Indus civilisation.' Evidence for very early rice was discovered at a site in the central Ganges basin, but it has long been thought that domesticated rice agriculture did not reach South Asia until towards the end of the Indus era, when the wetland rice arrived from China around 2000 BC. But researchers found evidence of domesticated rice in South Asia as much as 430 years earlier, making them the earliest farmers.

The new research is published today in the journals Antiquity and Journal of Archaeological Science by researchers from the University of Cambridge's Division of Archaeology, in collaboration with colleagues at Banaras Hindu University and the University of Oxford. Co-author Dr Cameron Petrie says that the location of the Indus in a part of the world that received both summer and winter rains may have encouraged the development of seasonal crop rotation, way before other major civilisations of the time, such as Ancient Egypt and China's Shang Dynasty.

The archaeologists sifted for traces of ancient grains in the remains of several Indus villages within a few kilometers of the site called Rakhigari. They reckon their advanced farming techniques meant the Indus civilisation could support cities with massive populations of up to 40,000 people. They used radiocarbon dating to provide the first absolute dates for Indus multi-cropping, discovering they began growing them around 2890-2630 BC for millets and winter pulses, and 2430-2140 BC for rice. Urad beans, however, are a relative of the mung bean, often used in popular types of Indian dhal today. The variety of crops may have been transported to the cities, which would suggest that there was some sort of bartering system in place for people to trade services for food - like modern-day takeaways. Urban hubs may have served as melting pots for produce from regional growers, as well as meats and spices, and evidence for spices have been found elsewhere in the Rakhigarhi region.

Dr Bates said: 'It is certainly possible that a sustainable food economy across the Indus zone was achieved through growing a diverse range of crops, with choice being influenced by local conditions. 'It is also possible that there was trade and exchange in staple crops between populations living in different regions, though this is an idea that remains to be tested.' Dr Petrie added: 'Such a diverse system was probably well suited to mitigating risk from shifts in climate. 'It may be that some of today's farming monocultures could learn from the local crop diversity of the Indus people 4,000 years ago.'

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Nov. 2016.

S Badrinath reaches 10000 runs in First Class Cricket - what is success !!

Not many would have been following the Ranji Trophy, Group C: Chhattisgarh v Hyderabad –match  at Valsad !   .. Many Pakistanis also may not remember Ijaz Faqih who played 5 Tests and 27 One dayers – but is part of history !!

According to Warren Buffet, principles of life and investing often parallel each other.  He says ‘you only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong”. One should feel sorry for today’s children – for often they are pressurised into doing or becoming whatever their parents wanted to achieve [but never achieved perhaps] in life. From the times when children were desperate in capturing the attention of elders, the present day parents try to have the child’s attention all the times.  Matching the parental expectation becomes the single most arduous task for the child. In the city, you find so many Sports training  / coaching camps – cricket camps have mushroomed in every open area. The coaches talk of nurturing the cricketer from their childhood, making them mentally tough, making them hungry for accomplishment and more.. 

Their eyes glisten in seeing their kid in cricketing flannel – a dream of becoming Sachin Tendulkar. There is a story that everyday tens of villagers get down at Chennai Central or Egmore railway station dreaming to become a star in cinema ……. How many of them live to realise their dream is too well known.  So, what is accomplishment in Sports  ?   The first ever ODI was played in 1971; India played theirs in 1974 and only in 1983 – the first century by an Indian was registered – Kapil Dev’s magnificent 175 n.o at Trentbridgewells.  Sachin did not make a ton in his first 80 ODI matches but today he has more than 50. Before the advent of IPL & T20, cricketers rose from domestic tournaments – premier amongst them being the Ranji Trophy & Duleep Trophy – Deodhar later. 

The run to top started with Charles Bannerman who with 239 topped the list for a while; then naturally he was taken over by others which included Billy Murdoch, Joe Darling, Clem Hill, Jack Hobbs, Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey, and then Garfield Sobers with 8032 runs.  At that point of time, scoring 8000 runs in Test Cricket was considered Himalayan achievement.  Geoff Boycott broke that and in that Test went on to play Golf without caring to be with the team. 29  years ago, the little Master’s nudge took him past 10000 runs which was remarkable achievement those days; he ended up with 10122 and was overtaken by Allan Border, then Brian Lara – now Sachin is at the pinnacle of glory with 15921 runs.    It was  on 7th March 1987, Sunil Gavaskar nudged through the slips off Ijaz Faqih moving on to 58 runs at  Motera – Sardar Patel Stadium which sent the crowd erupting.  It was the first time ever a batsman had scored 10,000 runs in Test Cricket.   Indian Wicket Keeper Kiran More was the non-striker and he was reported as saying that Gavaskar celebrated it as he never did earlier – Sprinting, waving the bat and enjoying the moment.  Gavaskar raised his bat in triumph even as he was mid way completing the run. To the millions watching the TV, that was a feat which nobody else can ever acquire…. Records are meant to be broken, first by Alan Border and happily we have Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar perched on top. 

Gavaskar was a supreme accumulator of runs and would wait patiently when things were not easy – he scored 63 in that match.  He was certainly one Indian batsmen who redefined the art of run scoring and accumulating runs, putting a value tag to the wicket.   Now in that 10000 Test runs club, we have Sachin, Ponting, Kallis, Dravid, Sangakkara, Lara, Chanderpaul, Jayawardene, Alan Border, Steve Waugh, A Cook and Sunil Gavaskar.

There is another man with appetite ~ but never as successful – a run-hungry S Badrinath has been the mainstay of the Tamil Nadu batting since the mid-2000s, and has also captained them. Badrinath stands tall at the crease, and plays with a correct technique. He was pitchforked into the national consciousness in 2005-06 when he nearly topped the batting charts, scoring 636 runs from seven matches at almost 80, missing pole position by 36 runs to Amol Muzumdar, who played one match more.  At Valsad, with his 32nd  first-class century, Subramaniam Badrinath went past 10,000 runs in first-class cricket. Leading Hyderabad in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season, the batsman scored 134 against Chhattisgarh in the seventh round of the tournament to reach the milestone.  With this Badri became the 47th Indian to complete 10000 runs in first class Cricketer.

Read it again – it is first class Cricket and not Ranji Trophy !!!  Badri made his Test debut against SA in Feb 2010 scored 56 in his first outing, then had another 2 innings to play !  He batted in another 6 ODI innings too.  In Ranji, at the top is Wasim Jaffer with 10143; then Amol Mazumdar, D Bundela, Mithun Manhas, H Kanitkar, Amarjit Kaypee, Pankaj Dharmani, SH Kotak, RR Parida and Badri with 7516 runs.
What does it take to succeed in life – Playing for India would ever remain the highest priority for any cricketer.  With such prolific scoring and abundant talent, Amol Mazumdar was never selected to play for the Nation despite a first class average of 50+   Heart-broken he considered quitting the game in 2002 but somehow continues to play in the Ranji format.  Amol overtook the other great scorer Amarjit Kaypee – who again never played for India in a Test of an One dayer.  There are some others in that list, who nevert were close to playing for the Nation.   Incidentally, the highest wicket taker in Ranji, Rajinder Goel with 637 wickets never played for India.

So what is success, is it good performance, reaching  higher echelons,  abundant talent or easy recognition……   one can have enormous talent but still might go unrecognised is what the lives of Amol Mazumdar, Kaypee, Dharmani, Goels – all represent …….. there are many many more who never got their due credit or never attained the heights they deserved in life… do we call them unsuccessful !!

Anbe Vaa, the movie starring M. G. Ramachandran and Saroja Devi released in 1966  had the Q ‘Test match puriyuma ?’ ~ do you understand Test match, which at that time was considered to be understood only  by elites.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd Nov 2016.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Vizag Test - What will happen ? or is it simply When will it happen ??

At Vizag, Indian fan is hoping a meek surrender this morning and an Indian win – what does British Press think about the 2nd Test at Vizag day 5 today ?

The Sun UK captions ‘Cookie crumbles’ : India vs England day four: Hammer blow for Alastair Cook as skipper falls to last ball of the day after England launch spirited fight-back in Second Test.  According to the report, the  last ball of the day swung the pendulum a long way. Alastair Cook, after 59 overs of diligent self-denial, pushed across the line against Ravindra Jadeja and was lbw for 54. Thus a brilliant, passive response to the targets of batting for five sessions or scoring 405 runs – both of which would be historic – was badly diminished. Until then England, who have battled so hard since that self-destructive session on the second evening, had caused considerable headaches for Virat Kohli and his men. At the close of another gripping day of Test cricket India needed eight more wickets for victory; England required a much less likely 319 runs to win.

This was England’s best day of this Test so far, but they aren’t any closer to winning it, and only slightly closer to salvaging a draw. That is an adequate summation of just how far behind they were in this match before the day began. A decent bowling effort on the fourth day of the second Test in Visakhapatnam saw them dismiss India for 204. Four wickets a piece for Stuart Broad and Adil Rashid meant that India lost seven second innings wickets for 106 runs in the morning session. That is, objectively, a fine performance from the England team. The issue was, just like buying your wife expensive jewellery the day after your wedding anniversary, it was too little, too late.

However, the reason why a draw is so unlikely on this pitch was summed up by Hameed’s dismissal. Hameed played his first truly attacking shot to the 130th ball that he faced, drilling a ball from Ravichandran Ashwin over the top for four runs. He had got himself set for the long haul. Then, on 25 and facing up to the 144th ball of his innings, a delivery from Ashwin shot along the ground and dismissed him LBW. It was a brutal way for it to end, but there was little that the young Lancastrian could do about it. While someone in 20 years’ time may glance down the scorecard and see Hameed was run out on 13 in the first innings and lbw for 25 in the second, the numbers will not tell them about Joe Root’s calamitous call on Friday nor the manner in which Hameed’s 188 minutes and 144 balls of pressure-soaking batsmanship ended. The courage shown after a blow to his little finger, first ball from Mohammed Shami, will similarly go unsaid.

Indians who have never been comfortable with DRS will continue to rue.  Jadeja bowled to the England captain Alastair Cook outside off-stump; the ball turned and took the pad; the batsmen ran a leg-bye to discover that India were asking for a review. It was not the worst review of the series by a long chalk, but the outcome to Cook’s relief was two reds and an orange.  Had it been an ordinary Umpiring decision, it was out – as replays showed that bails would have been dislodged… again in the next  over Ravichandran  Ashwin bowled and Cook prodded forward; the lbw appeal was rejected, whereupon Ashwin had his way and the review was sought. Once again it was tight but the umpire’s original decision was upheld.  On both the occasions, crowd rejoiced on seeing TV replays – but for DRS all 3 have to be in place, otherwise, it gets referred back to Umpires decision.  Rod Tucker and Kumara Dharmasena were unwilling to correct themselves thus exposing their act as a mistake… the fate of England could well have been different.

Ben Stokes is hungry for runs and can devour bowling — now he must learn to eat while he is batting. Guardian reveals that all-rounder Stokes suffered from cramp during the First Test against India because he did not consume anything while scoring his century. Not an energy bar, fruit or anything else passed his lips. And certainly not the local diet of curry and rice. It has become a significant issue in a series where daytime temperatures rarely drop below 35C and players must take on board food as well as fluids.  As he prepared for  Second Test, Stokes explained: “I can’t eat when I’m not out, I don’t know why. Our physio and doctor were trying to force feed me pretty much but I literally can’t eat, not even a protein shake or anything. “I’ve never been able to do it. That was the reason for the cramp, yes, so the medical people are on my case to make sure I eat whenever I can. I eat on a bowling day, yes, but when I’m not out I can’t eat anything, not even a banana.

“It doesn’t really affect me in England because it is always freezing. But cramping does relate back to not eating. When I came to bowl in Rajkot, I was a bit worried about cramping up. It took a few balls to realise that I wouldn’t.

So, is the Q what would happen or simply when it would happen ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

21st Nov. 2016.

Indore- Patna Express derails ~ more than 100 feared dead

Accidents are sad ! loss of human lives is tragic !  Pukhrayan is a town and a Municipality in Kanpur Dehat district in  Uttar Pradesh, situate south-west of Mati on National Highway 25, Pukhrayan is 4 km from Bhognipur.  We may not be reading about this place nor about the train that runs a distance of 1359 km for 26h 40 m from Indore to Patna – but for the tragic rail accident in the early hours of Sunday.

Newspaper reports state that at  3.03 AM, the driver of the Indore-Patna Express witnessed “the overhead equipment shaking” and “felt a jerk” — both out of the ordinary occurrences — and applied emergency brakes, show official Railways records of the worst train accident in recent years that killed at least 120 people and injured over 180. Fourteen coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed at Pukhrayan in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh early Sunday morning – killing over  115 passengers and injuring more than 200, nearly half of them grievously, in the worst train accident in recent years.  The disaster took place just a little after 0300 hrs when the passengers were jolted out of their sleep as the Patna-bound train jumped the tracks, badly damaging four ordinary sleeper coaches in which hundreds were trapped. Of the four coaches, the S1 and S2 had telescoped into each other and most of the casualties were feared to have been in these two compartments.

S3 and S4 coaches also suffered severe damage while an AC III tier coach was also affected but casualties in it were not heavy. As railway personnel assisted by those of army, NDRF and state police carried out the search and rescue operation, the number of casualties kept on increasing by the hour. By evening, 110 bodies were recovered and taken to Mati mortuary in Kanpur rural. The death toll is over 115, UP DGP Javeed Ahmad said. Among the dead, 43 have been identified, of which 20 are from Uttar Pradesh, 15 from Madhya Pradesh and six from Bihar and one each from Maharashtra and Gujarat. Post mortem of 27 identified bodies has been done and they were being handed over to the families. Ambulance facilities were also being provided to the families of the victims to transport the bodies, officials said.

Officials said that prima facie the cause of the accident could be due to track fracture. Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha told reporters at the spot that it seems the cause of the accident is rail fracture. Member (Engineering) of the Railway Board will find out the cause of the mishap and action will be taken against those responsible, he said. With several passengers feared trapped, rescue personnel employed cold cutters to break open the compartments as gas cutters produced excessive heat and suffocation hampering their efforts.

A number of trapped passengers were rescued. Teams of army doctors, railway officials and personnel of NDRF, state PAC and other policemen were involved in carrying out rescue and relief operation. The Chief Minister instructed the DGP to personally monitor the relief operations and deploy traffic police along the route of the mishap site to ensure green corridor for ambulances to reach hospitals quickly. More ambulances/roadways buses have been rushed to the spot for speedy relief operations, the CM said. DG Health and ADG (Law and Order) also rushed to the accident spot to monitor the relief operations. Buses were pressed into service to help passengers complete their journey, Kumar said.

Gory details are avoided and intentionally no photos posted here, though there are many in every newspaper website. Sad as we mourn the death of passengers.

Way back in Nov. 1956, a ghastly train accident occurred in Ariyalur near Trichy in Tamilnadu when 100s of passengers were feared dead  -  and immediately after the accident Lal Bahadur Shastri resigned as Railway Minister…….. a resignation may not change the fate of the victims, but sure sign that someone takes responsibility and expresses concern in ensuring that such things do not repeat themselves – and there have been so many accidents thereafter – each time remorse felt immediately and slowly forgotten !!

-         S. Sampathkumar.

-         21st Nov 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

travails of stuntmen ~ those who risk their lives for income and fame of others

In every climax, it would invariably happen ! ~ the hero would perform something impossible, an auto chase, burning car, fast train, jumping from air and more – hero would leap into villain’s vehicle.  Fans would rejoice – would keep discussing that no other hero could fight so well – most know that most of the risk was undertaken by some lesser mortal whose name may not even figure in the cast; worser still, would remain uncared for if involved in an accident and got injured.

Long ago, waiting in an hospital, closer to nighttime, a van arrived and out in the stretcher was a youngman with bleeding injuries all over – some stuntman who had performed breaking a glass door, flying through it ! ~ stunts in films would include car crashes, bike accidents, bombings, falls from heights, getting thrown out of fleeting horse and more. no need to tell that there is inherent risk in all stunt work .. .. .. overheard that the hero in the movie, when a scene of kicking on the face was to be filmed, lifted his foot shortly, asked the camera man to take a shot from a pit ! 

Life perhaps has never been easy for those stunt performers – right from the early days of movie making to modernised methods of date. In India, they are generally uncared for and do not even get proper insurance protection – as this is one excluded risk.  Still, most performers do not have a choice – it is not attitude, but often driven by the only way they know to earn money.  Attitudes to risk are source of income and yet it may not be proportionate or paying all the time.  These are the men who put their lives for the original hero to get applause and rise to greater heights.  They do not get any awards ! – but ensure that the ones for whom they double-up earn millions !!

Recently, in a tragic turn of events, two Kannada actors died after a movie stunt went horribly wrong at Tippagondanahalli Lake in Bengaluru.The actors were filming the stunts for an upcoming film ‘Masti Gudi,’ which stars Duniya Vijay in the lead role. While filming the scene, Vijay and the two actors, Anil and Uday, jumped into the lake from a helicopter. While the lead actor swam ashore, the other two didn’t surface for a long time, post which a search party was immediately dispatched. While a team of expert swimmers tried to recover the two actors, they could not retrieve anything. A safety harness was provided to the lead actor but none were provided to the other two. The two had even confessed to not being good swimmers before going into the shot. Previously, yesteryear’s Malayalam superstar Jayan had also died in a helicopter accident in 1980 during the making of the film, ‘Kolilakkam’. Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan received a near fatal blow, while filming a crucial action scene for his cult film, Coolie.

Many people condemned the carelessness with which the stunt shooting was carried out —  questions were raised about the safety measures undertaken while shooting a stunt of this proportion. The film production unit could procure a chopper for the shoot, paying a hefty amount, but did not have a motor boat to save the actors. Both the stuntsmen had  admitted to a TV channel before the shoot that they were not good swimmers, had a phobia of heights and that they had never gotten into a helicopter before. Perhaps they were not provided of details of the stunt and risk.  It is further stated that the permission to shoot at the reservoir was only to use the bank and surrounding area, not for jumping into the water. There was no permission for aerial shooting. The actors were bare-chested, showing off their abs, for continuity, hence could not be provided with safety jackets.

.. .. if we are inclined to say that Indian tinseldom is bad ~ World-over it is not much different.  Today MailOnline reports that James Bond stuntman and SAS hero was  killed in an abseil race after plunging 300ft from a helicopter in China.

Steve Truglia had appeared in James Bond movies Tomorrow Never Dies and the World Is Not Enough, as well as Saving Private Ryan.  The stuntman, from East London, died on Thursday after the abseil stunt in Chongqing, southwest China, went wrong. The 54-year-old - who once described being a stuntman as the 'best job in the world' - won awards in parachuting and mountaineering and held the world record for the fastest 100m abseil.

Friends said Mr Truglia and another stuntman were meant to be abseiling from the helicopter at the same time. Hours before his death, he had raised concerns it might not be big enough to take their combined weight, according to the Sun. His former military colleague, Phil Tunnicliffe, said: 'We have not been able to find out much about what happened. He had meant to be attempting the stunt on Tuesday above the Wulong National Park but it had been put off until Thursday because of heavy mist and fog. 'All we have been told is that there was a fall, but that does not make sense to us. Steve was a professional stunt man and had done these types of abseils many times. He added: 'It was 34 years ago we were at RAF Brize Norton doing our basic military parachute course. 'When I heard the news I phoned him and left him a message, it was something I just felt to do, I also sent him a text.'

In the message which he wrote on Facebook, he said: 'I can't believe you are gone mate, a part of me just died. You were my best friend and brother for 36 years. It hasn't sunk in that I'll never see you again. 'One thing is certain I'll treasure the memories and never forget you.'  Mr Truglia, who died on Thursday, was a member of the Barking and Dagenham Canoe Club.  Mr Truglia's girlfriend was informed of his death via a text message from a Chinese woman.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
20th Nov. 2016

PS : An abseil (meaning "to rope down"), also called a rappel after its French name, is a controlled descent of a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope. Climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection. Rescue teams are also known for using this method as a way to access injured or stranded victims.

lakhs of Salmon boiled alive in wrong treatment !!!

‘Salmon’  is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Other fish in the same family include trout, char, grayling and whitefish. Salmon are native to tributaries of the North Atlantic (genus Salmo) and Pacific Ocean (genus Oncorhynchus). Many species of salmon have been introduced into non-native environments such as the Great Lakes of North America and Patagonia in South America. Salmon are intensively produced in aquaculture in many parts of the world.  Typically, salmon are anadromous: they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to reproduce.  

Like, humans and other animals, fish too  suffer from diseases and parasites. Fish defences against disease are specific and non-specific. Non-specific defences include skin and scales, as well as the mucus layer secreted by the epidermis that traps microorganisms and inhibits their growth. If pathogens breach these defences, fish can develop inflammatory responses that increase the flow of blood to infected areas and deliver white blood cells that attempt to destroy the pathogens.  Lice kill many salmons… the  salmon louse, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, is a sea louse, a parasite living mostly on salmon, particularly on Pacific and Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout.  It lives off the mucus, skin and blood of the fish. They are natural marine parasites of fish, such as adult salmon. When they encounter a suitable marine fish host they may adhere themselves to the skin, fins, the gills of the fish, and feeding off the mucous or skin. Sea lice only affect fish and are not harmful towards humans.

According to a study, clouds of sea lice billowing from fish farms infect and kill up to 95 percent of the wild juvenile salmon that swim past the farms on the way out to sea.  Though they are common on adult salmon,  at 15 to 40 pounds (7 to 18 kilograms) and covered in scaly armor, the mature fish face little threat from the tiny lice. Juvenile salmon, however, are only about an inch (2.5 centimeters) long and lack scales.  In the wild, the salmon's migratory life cycle naturally separates adults from juveniles: Most adults are far out to sea when the juveniles swim from the rivers where they were born and into the ocean.

More than 175,000 salmon are thought to have been boiled alive when disease treatment at a fish farm went horribly wrong. The salmon died when their water was excessively overheated by lice treatments at a farm owned by Marine Harvest, one of the world's  largest fish farming companies, in Scotland. The accidental deaths have cost the Norwegian multinational an estimated  £2.7 million and there are calls for those responsible to be prosecuted for animal cruelty, reports the Telegraph.

The salmon died when their water was excessively overheated by lice treatments at a farm owned by Marine Harvest, one of the world's s largest fish farming companies, in Scotland.  The news broke just a month after Prince Charles  visited and praised Marine Harvest's Loch Leven farm for its 'sustainable practices'.  Marine Harvest supplies salmon to several supermarket, including Sainsbury's and Tesco, and it is feared the destruction of more than 600 tonnes of fish could force prices up significantly as demand increases in the run up to Christmas.

Some 95,400 salmon were killed at Marine Harvest's Loch Greshornish farm on the Isle of Skye in July and August, when fish were treated for lice with a new device called a Thermolicer. It works by bathing fish briefly in lukewarm water, killing the parasite's which have a low tolerance for a sudden change in temperature. No chemicals are used in the process and the fish should be completely unharmed, according to Scottish Sea Farms which invested more than £4m in the equipment this summer. However, a memo from government officials to Scottish rural economy minister Fergus Ewing show, that while the treatment killed 95 per cent of the lice it also caused 'significant salmon mortalities'.  Another 20,000 salmon were killed at the company's Loch Greshornish fish farm using a different chemical attempt to rid them of sea lice.  And more than 60,000 salmon were killed by hydrogen peroxide being used to treat them for amoebic gill disease at Marine Harvest's fish farm off the Isle of Harris.

Experts are being more and more concerned that lice are becoming increasingly resistant to chemical treatment and farmers are forced to resort to potentially risky measures to get rid of the parasites.  Steve Bracken, Marine Harvest's business development manager, told the Telegraph: 'We regret any loss of fish and are always mindful of the welfare of the fish and aim to continuously improve our methods to address changing environmental circumstances.He added the company has been dealing with a 'number of challenges' with fish health, which is increasing in this part of the world due to 'climate change'.

Man’s cruelty; food habits; negligence – all cause death of other species !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Nov.2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

visiting the place where the first Indian passenger train reached (Thane from Bori bundar )

A recent visit to Mumbai, provided opportunity to see this historic place!~ there was so much of crowd – busy in moving and reaching their place, unmindful of its past glory !!!

At the start of this year, read in newspapers of a deal, of largest Office space deal concluded – a Software major signing up to pick up 19 lakh square feet for its biggest office under one roof at Hiranandani Estate in Thane. It stated that it could house around 30000 employees – a long term contract with the option of a reset clause every three years. The monthly lease rental for the space  was reportedly between  Rs 50 and Rs 55 per sq ft and that the annual lease rental for the property could be  in the range of Rs 120 crore to Rs 130 crore.  Mindboggling ! – every city suburb nowadays sees the mushrooming trend of backoffices of IT/ITES and other Service industries including Insurance. The subject matter is not anything of property or rental value but historic significance !

Many of us still love the travel by train ~ not the hustle in an electric train – in olden days, the first advice from elderly was not to be seated in window and look out – for flying coal pieces could fall in eyes !! – those were the days of locomotives, the engine that provided the motive power.  Locomotive  originates from the Latin loco – "from a place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", first used in the early 19th century to distinguish between mobile and stationary steam engines. They did not have any payloads and had the sole purpose of pulling the train along the tracks.  Traditionally, locomotives pulled trains from the front.

A steam locomotive is  derived its pulling power  through a steam engine, fuelled by burning combustible material—usually coal/coke, wood, or oil—to produce steam in a boiler. The steam that was generated moved the pistons connected to the train wheels.   The first steam locomotive, made by Richard Trevithick, first operated in  1804, three years after the road locomotive he made in 1801. Steam locomotives were first developed in Great Britain during the early 19th century and used for railway transport until the middle of the 20th century. From the early 1900s they were gradually superseded by electric and diesel locomotives, with full conversions to electric and diesel power beginning from the 1930s.   In India, Indian Railways decided to eliminate steam from regular running several years ago, and has largely succeeded.

The most well known locomotives could be  the trio called ‘Sahib, Sindh and Sultan’.  These three historic locomotives hauled the inaugural passenger train on 16th  April, 1853 from Boribunder to Thane, a distance of 21 miles. It appears that the first locomotives used solely for construction came from Yorkshire – an experimental line was built from Kalyan and in 1853 it was decided to have a terminus at Boribunder.  The first passenger train chugged off, pulled by the 3 engines and comprised of 20 railway carriages having around 400 guests of honour. The journey lasted mere 75 minutes from 3.30 pm to 4.45 pm – heralded by salute of 21 guns. 

Some people on the way side, ran out of the way shouting it to be a demon – for conceptually it was new, though it was not the first ever train to run in Indian soil.  The train service was from Bori Bunder to Thane.  Bori bunder used to be a storehouse for imported goods and those awaiting shipment.  Read that 'Bori' mean sack and 'Bandar' means  store; Bandar also means port; Built by the Great Indian Peninsular Railway,  the station had the honour – it was not the last ever as it faded; decades later, the  station was  rebuilt as the Victoria Terminus, named after the then reigning Queen Victoria,  again  renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CSTM) after  the famed 17th-century king.  It is a very important locaton – total 154 passenger trains Start/End/Pass through Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

At the other end was Thane (thana !) – a place that had a fort dating back to 18th century.  It was a major port in 14th century and later came under British occupation.  A book titled Making of India reveals that the idea of railway to connect first occurred to George Clark and a meeting of prominent citizens wad held in Bombay in July 1844 – around which time, the Great Indian Peninsular Railway was formed in England.   When the first train reached its destination Thana, refreshments were served in tents.  The inaugural engines – Sultan, Sindh and Sahib had been built at Vulcan Foundry near Manchester, and were from batch of 8 contracted.  Later, Sultan was named Lord Falkland as a token of respect of the then Governor of Bombay Presidency.  Vulcan Foundry claimed in its leaflets, that they had the distinction of exporting first ever locomotives to India.

The Railway line was extended to Kalyan an year later and to Khapoli, a couple of years later. As stated those were not the first engines nor was that inaugural run, first ever in India, though it was the landmark first run of a passenger commercial train in India. 

Felt happy to visit this station, walk around – people were busy, every train was so packed – there were so many shops also around the station, in the roads leading to the station. The recent demonetisation order had its impact for it was a day when there were banks and people first felt the impact of higher value currencies ceasing to be a legal tender.  Here are some photos of the place – the picture of a locomotive seen at the start of the post, was taken in Railway Museum, Delhi. Not sure whether any one of those (Sultan, Sind, Sahib) is languishing over there now.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

19th Nov. 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Colin de Grandhomme memorable debut ~ Jayant Yadav's first wicket courtesy DRS

Lot happening on field ! Faf du Plessis, South Africa's stand-in captain, could be suspended for a Test match after being charged by the ICC over an alleged ball-tampering offence. Du Plessis has pleaded not guilty and is seeking legal advice to further contest the charge. A hearing before match referee Andy Pycroft will be held, but a date for the hearing has not yet been set by the ICC. The ICC confirmed in a statement  that du Plessis had been charged for breaching Article 2.2.9 of the ICC Code of Conduct, which relates to "changing the condition of the ball".

At  Hagley Oval, Christchurch – in Test no. 2234,  two players made their debut and did nothing on day 1 as it was washed out.  One of them – tall, Richard Hadlee looks, a medium pace bowler who had left Zimbabwe for Auckland in 2006, before eventually finding his way into New Zealand's representative teams.  He made his International debut in 2012, but had to wait another 4 years to play in a Test.  The other debutant is an Indian, left-handed opener with strokes in most directions, Jeet Raval who is unbeaten on 55.

It was the unheralded medium pacer Colin de Grandhomme who rewrote the New Zealand test record books with a spectacular debut performance against Pakistan at Hagley Oval. The Auckland allrounder took six for 41 from 15.5 overs to rip through Pakistan and dismiss them for 133 shortly before tea, after New Zealand had won the toss. He is the eighth bowler to take five or more wickets on debut, and his are the best figures of them all.  De Grandhomme, born in Harare clearly outshone everybody.

Talking about debutants, Indians would never forget Narendra Hirwani and the tall lanky player from Dombivili, Nilesh Kulkarni, who played his last test at Chepauk. Remember him ?

I am really surprised to read this report in MailOnline which dismisses England on day 2 itself.  Indians made 455 with Ravi Ashwin and debutant Jayant Yadav having a long partnership.  The report reads : ‘England crumbled against spin once more and end day two on 103-5’ – and asks whether England can save this test at all ? ~ : If Rajkot shielded England from the realities of India, Visakhapatnam has mercilessly exposed them. At 103 for five on the second evening of this Test, they trail the Indians by 352, and need a miracle to avoid going 1-0 down ahead of next week's third Test in Mohali. It was the kind of session that England fans feared in advance of this trip, and the kind of session that many a touring team have experienced in India over the last couple of years. These things happen, and they will happen again before the series is over.   This pitch is already showing alarming signs of uneven bounce, not to mention sharp turn.

It could have been worse but for that large slice of luck that Ben Stokes enjoyed - he missed the flight of Jayant Yadav,  the  ball brushed the off bail without dislodging it.

The debutant Yadav was  summoned to the bowling crease in the 33rd over, he was under no pressure whatsoever. His first over was largely uneventful, but with the second ball of his second over, he defeated Moeen Ali’s dance down the track and struck him on his pad. Jayant was convinced the ball would have gone to hit the stumps had the pad not come in the way, though it was ultimately Saha who had been standing behind the stumps who convinced Kohli to go for the review. The review proved Jayant and Saha right, and Kumar Dharmasena, who had originally negated the leg-before shout, wrong. First Test wicket in the bag with the help of technology that India has shunned all along.  Certainly a good day for the Haryana off-spinner who became the 286th  cricketer to play Test cricket for India.   The 26-year-old hit 35 to help the hosts to a total of 455 before running out Haseeb Hammed with a great pick up throw – Saha collected and sort of emulated Dhoni is shying at the stumps without seeing it.   

Fifty-six bowlers have taken a wicket with the very first ball they bowled in one of the three formats of international cricket. Twenty bowlers have performed this feat in Test cricket.  There is only one Indian – Nilesh Kulkarni.  In One dayers, rather surprisingly, it is Sadagopan Ramesh.   Nilesh Moreshwar  Kulkarni, the tall bowler  came on to bowl in Test 1374 at Colombo in 1977 after India made huge 537/8 decl.  Off his first delivery, he had Maravan Atapattu caught behind by Mongia  - but cruel fate was to follow.  Lankans went on to make the highest in Test Cricket 952/6 with Sanath Jayasuriya making 340; Roshan  Mahanama 225, Arvinda Desilva 126 and Nilesh’s figures in the end read 70-12-195-1. The others had worser figures : Anil Kumble 72-7-223-1 and Rajesh Chauhan 78-8-276-1.  He ended up playing only 3 tests.  In all he bowled 738 balls, gave away 332 runs and could add just one more to that of Atapattu.  He last played for India in Test no. 1539 at Chepauk where India beat Australia by 2 wickets in March 2001.  He scalped the dangerous Mathew Hayden in the second essay. 

In that Pongal Test at Chepauk in 1988, India led by Ravi Shastri (his only Test as Captain) had 3 debutants : WV Raman, Ajay Sharma and Hiru.  Phil Simmons debuted for Windies.  Hirwani took three of the five West Indian wickets to fall on the second day. On the third morning, Hirwani clean-bowled Vivian Richards with a googly  went on to  finish at  8 for 61; in the Second against a huge target of 416, Vivian Richard’s WI were dismissed in 40 overs.  Hirwani was the wrecker-in-chief again with 8 for 75 and overall match figures of 16 for 136.   Though he started in the most exciting manner equalling Massie- an Australian - Robert Arnold Lockyer Massie despite that huge success in debut played in 6 Tests and 3 ODIs from 1972 to 1973. He took 16/137 at Lords.  Hiru too could not match his great opening – some said he was too slow in the air to cause trouble, except on wickets which turned sharply.  

Read that Jayant Yadav lost his mother  Lakshmi, an air hostess, to a plane crash near Aurangabad some 17 years ago.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

18th Nov. 2016.