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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Super Blue Blood moon today ! ~ its significance !!

Today 31st Jan 2018 is a significant day ~ it is Thaipoosam – also Pournami .. .. religiously significant.  On this day at Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam, there will be purappadu of Sri Parthasarathi Perumal to Big Street junction signifying harvesting.  By no stretch of the definition is a full moon rare. It happens approximately once a month, or every 29.5 days. Occasionally, it happens twice in one month, approximately every three years or so.  But .. .. there certainly is hype globally on a phenomenon known as ‘Super Blue Moon’ and there is to be lunar eclipse too .. .. !!

A lunar eclipse is a spectacular celestial show, during which the bright, pearly-white disc of the full Moon turns dark, and sometimes takes on the colour of dark copper, or even dried blood. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, the Earth and the Moon are so aligned that for a period of time, the full Moon passes through the shadow of Earth in space (called Earth’s Umbra).  A total lunar eclipse happens when the whole moon enters Earth's shadow. Some sunlight still reaches the moon, but first it goes through Earth's atmosphere. The atmosphere filters out most of the sun’s blue light, so the moon looks red.

In US – the media is all gaga  about the lunar phenomenon "super blue blood moon" taking place on Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Excitement is growing, even at NASA, where they plan to live stream the moon as it would dazzle skywatchers.  The full eclipse will be visible on the U.S. West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, Western Canada, Eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and the event is slow and drawn out — the key is to get the timing of your viewing right.  For instance, in the Pacific time zone the moon will be in totality — completely covered in Earth's dark shadow — between about 4:52 and 6:08 a.m.,  For locations farther east, the moon will set before totality is visible.

A supermoon is named after a full moon when it is at the closest distance to the Earth in its orbit. When timing is just right, a full moon coincides with the moon's perigee (closest distance to Earth). This event usually occurs 3-4 times per year and most recently occurred on January 2nd  2018. The end result of the moon being closer to the Earth, it is 14 percent brighter than normal.

You all would have heard the phrase :  ‘Once in a blue moon’ ~ informally it would mean ‘very rarely’.  Synonyms:  hardly ever, almost never, scarcely ever, rarely, very seldom.  Interestingly, the colour of moon is never blue. A blue moon is an additional full moon that appears in a subdivision of a year: either the third of fourth full moon in a season, or the second full moon in a calendar month. The phrase has nothing to do with the actual color of the moon, although a literal "blue moon" (the moon appearing with a tinge of blue) may occur in certain atmospheric conditions.

The term has traditionally referred to an "extra" full moon, where a year which normally has 12 full moons has 13 instead. The "blue moon" reference is applied to the third full moon in a season with four full moons, thus correcting the timing of the last month of a season that would have otherwise been expected too early.   The March 1946 issue of Sky & Telescope misinterpreted the traditional definition, which led to the modern colloquial misunderstanding that a blue moon is a second full moon in a single solar calendar month with no seasonal link.

One lunation (an average lunar cycle) is 29.53 days. There are about 365.24 days in a tropical year. Therefore, about 12.37 lunations (365.24 days divided by 29.53 days) occur in a tropical year.   Each calendar year contains roughly 11 days more than the number of days in 12 lunar cycles. The extra days accumulate, so every two or three years (seven times in the 19-year Metonic cycle), there is an extra full moon. The extra full moon necessarily falls in one of the four seasons, giving that season four full moons instead of the usual three, and, hence, a blue moon.

Now getting back to “super blue blood moon”  ~ it will be at its attractive best to those watching from the  western part of North America, Alaska, and the Hawaiian islands.   Beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 31, a live feed of the Moon is being offered on NASA TV and You can also follow at @NASAMoon. Weather permitting, the NASA TV broadcast will feature views from the varying vantage points of telescopes at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; and the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory.

The Jan. 31 full moon is special for three reasons: it’s the third in a series of “supermoons,” when the Moon is closer to Earth in its orbit -- known as perigee -- and about 14 percent brighter than usual. It’s also the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a “blue moon.” The super blue moon will pass through Earth’s shadow to give viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse. While the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a “blood moon.”

In India, the eclipse will start around 17:18 IST. It will be total at 18:21 hours and remain totally eclipsed till 19:37. Then after, the total eclipse will end and the Moon will slowly come out of the shadow of the Earth, the partial eclipse ending around 20:41 hrs. The totality of the eclipse will last for about 1 hour and 16 minutes.  At Chennai at 16:21 the Penumbral eclipse would being though may not be directly visible.  AT 18:21, total eclipse would begin and it could be a completely red moon.  At 18.59, it would be max eclipse with moon closest to the centre of the shadow.  At 20.41 hrs, the partial eclipse would end. At 21:38, the Penumbral eclipse too would end.

Interesting it would be !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
31st Jan 2018.
Collated from various sources in the web.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

India Pak encounter at Christchurch - Shubman Gill century; Ishant Porel 4/ .. ??

This morning as I watched the TV relay, it was a comedy of errors – 49.5 Muhammad Musa to Porel, 1 run – that was very crucial – penultimate ball – No.11 – why that it should be -  because at the other end was Shubman Gill stranded at 99* - it was a simple run out chance ..  Ishan Chandranath Porel heaved a sigh of relief (at the time of posting this, he has done wonders with the ball reducing Pak to 32/4 – all the 4 wickets to Ishan !)

So – it was 49.6 -  Muhammad Musa to Shubman Gill,  hits high, the nervous Pak gets under it makes a mess, drop – gill runs 2, completes century – and that was a no ball, a free-hit.  Off the last - 1 run, a brilliant catch at long-off by Hassan Khan. Hassan runs back and turns around to snaffle a stunningly-judged catch in front of the boundary, anyway last ball and that too a free-hit. 
Indian youngsters have done very well ~ that is 2nd Semis of  ICC Under-19 World Cup at Christchurch, India setting a target of 273.
A day or so earlier, team mates , Nagarkoti and Abhishek Sharma were having fun at Shubman Gill's expense, even as his name came up for bidding. Gill's was the first among members of the India Under-19 team at the auction table. It was well past 11pm in Christchurch, the time they've all generally been going to bed every day. But this was different. Gill finally gave in and switched on the live stream. "When I finally saw online, my bid was at INR 1.2 crore," Gill says with a sheepish smile. His first reaction was: "I'm in the IPL." The price didn't matter, so he switched it off. Ten minutes after the hammer went down, Gill received a call from his mother. He had just been sold for INR 1.8 crore (USD 281,000 approx).
Today it was another  India-Pakistan contest without the hype at Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Yet a high voltage match.  Rahul Dravid, India's coach, who was at the center of the fiercest on-field battles involving both countries, believes the experience will make the players aware of the stakes, without being overly worried about the result.
The winner, in all probability India would meat Australia who stopped the dream run of Afghans - Australia 182 for 4 (Edwards 72, Uppal 33*) beat Afghanistan 181 (Ikram 80, Merlo 4-24) by six wickets.  Afghanistan's decision to bat first backfired, as they were bowled out for 181 with medium pacer Jonathan Merlo picking four wickets. With their only hope of causing a stir in the Australian camp hinging on their mystery spinners, they unleashed Mujeeb Zadran, who on Sunday bagged an IPL contract worth USD 625,000, with the new ball. This move was met with a spectacular counter-attack from opener Jack Edwards, who smashed him for 14 in the eighth over on his way to a 40-ball half-century.
Earlier Afghanistan had  sprung a surprise on New Zealand by handing them a massive 202-run drubbing in Christchurch to storm into the semi-finals of Under-19 World Cup. Afghanistan not only scored 309 after opting to bat, they then routed New Zealand in under 30 overs to register their third win in four matches of the tournament and set up a semi-final clash against Australia.
Of the many little superstars, there is Nagarkoti who hits 146 kmph - "Andar se thoda nervous tha mai (I was a little nervous from within)," Nagarkoti said as he traced the events leading into his eventual bid of INR 3.2 crore (USD 500,000 approx) by Kolkata Knight Riders.  India under-19 star Manjot Kalra was bought by Delhi Daredevils for a base price of Rs 20 Lakh.  In the allorunder's bracket, India Under-19 Shivam Mavi who too works out lively pace went for Rs 3 crore to Kolkata Knight Riders while his teammate Abhishek Sharma was snared by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 55 Lakh.
Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Zadran fetched a hefty pay-check of Rs 4 crore from Kings XI Punjab, thus becoming the third Afghan player to be bought by an IPL franchise after Rashid Khan (Rs 9 crore to SRH), Mohammad Nabi (Rs 1 crore to SRH).
With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th Jan 2018.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

India beats South Africa at Wanderers !

Test Cricket is at its charming best ~ a team doomed to loose 3-0 – finished victorious on day 4 reminding me of that 4th day – 28th Jan 1976 at Auckland !

It will remain etched in memory of Indian fans – India beat South Africa by 63 runs.  Indians were all out for 187 in first innings – the match card reads :  India 187 (Kohli 54, Pujara 50, Rabada 3-39) and 247 (Rahane 48, Kohli 41, Bhuvneshwar 33) beat South Africa 194 (Amla 61, Philander 35, Bumrah 5-54, Bhuvneshwar 3-44) and 177 (Elgar 86*, Amla 52, Shami 5-28) by 63 runs.

It was great drama throughout – after that hype yesterday when Dean Elgar received a nasty blow on helmet grill and discussions led to even improbable match abandonment due to crumbling pitch.  When day closed prematurely at 17/1, all of us thought, that Indians might wrap up the match easily – that was not to be and there were moments when we thought that the game had slipped away – only two results possible – SA win or they playing for a draw ..

India couldn't dismiss Dean Elgar at all, but found a way around him to complete their third Test win in South Africa. He was ridiculed on the third evening for a short ball that hit him in the face and caused an interruption in the play, but Elgar exhibited exemplary patience, courage and application even as he received some painful blows.   This morning  Elgar and Hashim Amla went more than half the day without losing a wicket and adding 119 of the 241 required for the second wicket.

To the credit of India, they waited patiently and still trying to force something all the time and when the first break through came they just grabbed it.  Ishant Sharma began the slide with a mid-afternoon spell of 7-2-15-2, victims being  Amla and Faf du Plessis. Jasprit Bumrah was equally impressive in his nine-over spell that followed up with wickets of AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock. Once the two were taken off, Mohammed Shami came back from an average morning with quick, full and accurate bowling to run through the tail – a great 5 wicket haul.  India had 5 pacers – Hardik Pandya bowled just 6 and Shami just 12.3 – taking 5 / 28. 

Most of us thought the target of 241 was good enough – yesterday there was suspension of play for   19 minutes before stumps – then there were rains  overnight and early-morning rain in a place where water had all but dried up.  The pitch showed signs it had settled down a little with the uneven bounce becoming a lesser concern for the batsmen than the seam movement. Elgar and Amla took body blows, were beaten, yet kept batting on and on.  At 124/1 – a SA win was probable.

Tea was about to come in and around  25 minutes - South Africa needed 117 runs and the second new ball would be available in 28 overs.  Ishant had Amla flicking to Pandya at short midwicket and that opened the flood gate.   Bumrah reared a beauty getting De Villiers caught at  gully.  Ishant cleaned du Plessis;   Quinton de Kock grabbed a golden duck plumb to Bumrah.   From 124/1 – wickets fell at 124 (Amla); 131 (de Viliers); 144 (du Plessis); 145 deKock; 157 Vernon Philander; 157 Phehlukwayo; 160 Rabada; 161 Morney Morkel and 177 L Ngidi. 

On that day in Jan 1976, in  Test no. 769 in Auckland came a remarkable Indian win.  Remember reading about the Test in ‘The Hindu’ and partially hearing commentary in the mornings of January 1976 – the Test at Eden Park, Auckland, when India won handsomely.  Kiwis were led by Glenn Turner, a legend those times.  Playing first they were all out for 266 with Chandrasekhar taking 6/94.  Sunil Gavaskar led India in the absence of an injured Bishan Bedi.  Gavaskar made a patient 116 and was over taken by Surinder Amarnath who made a fine 124 with 16 fours and 1 six.  Mohinder coming late down the order made 64 ; Madanlal’s 27 and Prasanna’s 24 swelled the score to 414 in 121.7 overs –yes 0.7 not a mistake – those were 8 ball overs. 

In the second, NZ were to be bowled out for 215 with JM Parker 70 and BE Congdon 54 resisting.  Erapalli Prasanna had a fine spell taking 8 wickets for 76.    Surinder took 2 catches – the reliable Gavaskar ensured successful chase of 68 remaining not out with 35. Alongside Surinder – Kirmani and Dilip Vengsarkar were to make their debuts and went on to play much longer than Surinder did.   Both went on to have longer stints, though such recognition eluded the abundantly talented Surinder.

It has happened 53 times in Test Cricket ~ carrying the bat through ! – Opener remaining unbeaten as 10 other wickets fall.  Dean Elgar who had done it earlier against England in 2015 did it today, joining the long list of AB Tancred of South Africa who scored 26* in team total of 47 in Test 31 in Mar 1889; the other early achievers include JE Barret, R Abel,  PF Warner, WW Armstrong, JW Zulch, W Bardsley, WM Woodfull .. .. .. ……  Desmond Haynes has done so thrice; for India – Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Cheteswar Pujara have performed – ‘carried the bat through’.

Happy  India won convincingly today . ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

27th Jan 2018.

Dean Elgar hit ~ Wanderers Test and the Coach of South Africa

What happens when a bowler gives a brilliant performance ?  ~ read what happened to Ottis Gibson who was on screen yesterday – he is the head coach  of  Standard Bank Proteas national team across all three formats.  His contract runs  from mid-September 2017  until the conclusion of the ICC World Cup in mid-2019.

Amidst much drama, comes the news that the  Wanderers Test will continue as scheduled on day four. There was uncertainty over the future of the match when umpires took the players off 19 minutes before scheduled stumps on day three because of concerns over their safety on a spicy pitch. The pitch has had exaggerated bounce and seam right from the start of the match, but on day three various batsmen copped blows to their bodies against balls kicking up off a good length. The ball that finally prompted the umpires to halt play was one from Jasprit Bumrah that hit Dean Elgar in the grille of the helmet. The two captains then met the match referee. India made it clear they wanted to continue playing, and South Africa didn't express a preference either way but said they would continue playing if the match referee deemed the pitch safe to play on.

The match officials first had a conversation regarding the pitch with the teams during the tea break on day three, when it was expressed to the two managers that the new ball could behave dangerously. The decision to take players off was the umpires'. The match referee  Andy Pycroft was then briefed, and he consulted both the captains.  The protocol is to continue only if both the captains agree to play on. If the decision is not to play, then it is seen if the pitch can be repaired without - in the view of the match referee - disadvantaging any side. There will be no repairs on this pitch except for the customary light roller at the start of the day's play. A light roller was used on the pitch on day three too.  The ICC later sent out a statement via Twitter, confirming an on-time start on day four:

South Africa insisted that the uneven and excessive bounce and seam movement at the Wanderers in the third Test was not part of their request for helpful pitches. Though South Africa admitted to asking for surfaces that would assist their attack, they maintained that all they wanted was pace and bounce, and not the lateral movement or exaggerated bounce that this surface provided. "Everybody is making a big issue of grass but we've never asked for grass, we asked for pace and bounce. If you're a groundsman and we ask you to make a wicket with pace and bounce, and you feel that the best way to do that is leave grass on the wicket, that's it. Then we get on and play with it," Ottis Gibson, South Africa's coach said. "The Test in Cape Town only went three days, but we thought it was a good wicket. We asked for a similar wicket in Centurion, and it was more like Mumbai than anywhere else, and it was a great Test match as well. With this one, the wicket has unfortunately got worse as the match has gone on."

Please do re-read the para above and compare with the dust that gets raised when visiting teams play on a rank square turner !! ~ pitch doctoring !!

Asked whether the pitch may have been a result of extra pressure placed on the groundsman by the knowledge that South Africa would not settle for anything less than bowler-friendly conditions, Gibson did not think that was the case. "I can't speak for groundsman. We asked for a certain type of pitch and then the groundsmen have a month to try and get it right," he said. But there is some expectation within the home camp that the scrutiny on the surface will not let up, even after play resumes on day four. "There is no doubt that questions are going to be asked about the preparations of the pitch, Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager said.  South Africa stopped short of criticising the Wanderers surface and reiterated their willingness to play on. But between the two sides, they placed more emphasis on safety after Dean Elgar was struck on the grille of the helmet in the ninth over of South Africa's chase. The incident caused play to called off 19 minutes before the scheduled close.

India were clearly not happy with being taken off the field when they were by the match officials, 19 minutes from the scheduled close of day three. They felt the ball that led to the players going off was not unusual but was consistent with how the pitch had played. They felt disadvantaged after they had batted on the "same" pitch, and felt that it didn't seem dangerous to them. "The wicket was definitely challenging, but if you see our openers batted so well," Ajinkya Rahane said. "The wicket was similar for both teams. Vijay got 25 runs, and he faced 130-140 [127] balls. It was completely the same for everyone. Our approach was that we want to play and win this Test match. When Bhuvi and I were batting, we were not thinking about the wicket. We were just focussing on playing that particular delivery. Yes, the odd ball we got hit on the hand or the glove, but that's the nature of the wicket, we cannot control that."

Now getting back to that performer Ottis Gibson, the West Indian is well versed with English conditions. He signed up for Glamorgan in 2006 but next season, he played for Durham and took 10 wickets in an innings against Hampshire in July 2007 ~ and immediately after that was appointed bowling coach of England !   Ottis Delroy Gibson hails from Barbados. Gibson made two Test appearances for the West Indies. In his first outing against England in 1995, he picked up the wickets of Alec Stewart and Darren Gough in the first innings, finishing with figures of 2-81, but was less successful in the second with 0-51. With the bat he made 29 and 14, as the West Indies slumped to a 72 run defeat. His next was to come years later in 1999 against South Africa.  He was considered a ODI specialist – yet played only 15 making a best score of 52 and 5-42 against Sri Lanka. He took another 5 wicket haul against the same opposition and two four-fors, finishing with an impressive bowling average of 18.26.

His moment of glory came when he clean swept Hampshire in July 2007.   38 at that time, the Barbadian cut down his pace and relied more on swing than seam on a pitch which had sweated under covers to finish with figures of 17.3-1-47-10 as Hampshire were dismissed for 115. Gibson had five for 31 from 12 overs at lunch and eight for 47 from 17 overs when rain brought a 90-minute break. He admitted: "It couldn't have worked out better for me, because both times I started to feel tired I got a break.

In Sept. 2007,  Gibson was appointed as England's bowling coach for the one-day series in Sri Lanka because Allan Donald had commentary duties in South Africa.  In Jany 2010 it was announced that Gibson would be leaving his England post  and became  coach of West Indies. Now he is the coach of South Africa in all formats !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Jan 2018.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Johannesburg Test ~ Dean Elgar hit on helmet - play suspended for the day !!!

The 3rd  Test  at Johannesburg, (Test no. 2294) between India and South Africa is interestingly poised (that should be a misnomer !)

The summary scorecard reads :  India 187 & 247 / South Africa 194 & 17/1* - chasing a target of 241.  When play halted in unnatural manner – at close on day 3 :  South Africa require another 224 runs with 9 wickets remaining – that is not going to reflect the true story at all .  One cannot imagine a Test India playing 5 fast bowlers, yes – Bhuvi Kumar, Jasprit Bumra, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya

Closer to the end as SA lost Markram, at 8.3 – Bumrah pitched one short to Dean Elgar.  Elgar had been unsteady;  struck more than a couple of times on hand and body – painful blows.  This time the rising delivery hit him on the helmet, on the grille to be precise – he was writhing with pain.  Physio ran in – play stopped for a while as he was attended to – meantime the Umpires had a chat – in came the Match Referee too – the two Captains were called – the Captains were seen with their Coaches – and, and the two captains headed  into the refereee's room.

Collaged picture : bcci pic and tv grab.
Experienced Ian Gould and Aleem Dar are the Umpires - Michael Gough is the TV Umpire and Andy Pycroft is the match referee. It was drizzling too as day 3 was halted rather abruptly and there are apprehensions that they are discussing about the deteriorating pitch and may call it a dangerous pitch, suggesting abandonment.

The real story could be far different - India have set South Africa an improbable 241 to win on what is described as a  treacherous Wanderers pitch. South Africa had to bat for about 65 minutes ! The 55-run partnership between Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, both of whom were dropped in the last Test, made India's lead a formidable one, and the cherry on the cake came through a cameo from Mohammed Shami, who scored 27 off 28 balls. He hit the first six of the match, and soon followed it up with another, clattering Kagiso Rabada over wide mid-on. For the first time in the match, the second new ball was called for but used for only one ball.

The pitch did have un even bounce.  With a skilful SA attack bouncing it short, Indian batters did have tough time, taking some body blows.  Kohli, Rahane and Vijay - and later Bhuvneshwar Kumar - showed exceptional courage, skill and match awareness.  In the morning, KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara fell cheaply threatening a debacle.   Vijay though scored only 25 did a fine job seeing off the threat for long. Vijay wore five blows, Kohli one in that session. However, the judgement didn't waver.  The Indian tail contributed and the target of 241 looks so menacing now.

Bhuvneswar Kumar and Shami opened the attack.  Shami had them hopping in – particularly Elgar and got rid of Markram.  Bumrah had bowled just 3 deliveries when play was stopped.  The injury caused some talk on the status of the pitch :

"Two out of 100 [is my rating for the pitch]. It's a s**t pitch. You can interpret that. They should have called it off when Vijay got hit. This is not a cricket pitch, this is dangerous. Call it off, forget it. You can't play cricket on that. I have no idea what has gone wrong but I know it's not a good cricket pitch. The last time I saw something like this, the match was abandoned - in Jamaica 1998, and it didn't even last this long." Michael Holding, the former West Indies fast bowler and television commentator present at the Wanderers Test.

While all tend to blame the pitch, something is grossly missed.  Sunil Gavaskar was quick to point out that, that particular Bumrah delivery had been pitched pretty short -   8.5 metres from the base of the stumps; so not a brute of delivery but regular short pitched and perhaps Elgar’s technique and judgment was not good enough. Gavaskar also queried that what would have happened if the same blow would have been received by an Indian batsman – perhaps the World would have drawn knives to inflict on the batter that Indians do not play rising deliveries well.  Sad, double standards and if the match were to be abandoned, very sad – for this ball was a short one and not a brute one flying off good length !!!

In Jan 1998, the first Test between West Indies and England was abandoned  because of a dangerous pitch  at Sabina Park. On that day, it took less than an hour's play at Sabina Park before the test was abandoned because of a substandard pitch. In a move unprecedented in Test cricket's 122-year history, the umpires brought the players off the field. As the sole arbiters of what happens on the field, the decision was theirs, though it had the backing of both captains as well as a those of England's battered batsmen. When play was halted, immediately after Graham Thorpe had been struck another nasty blow to the hand, England were reeling at 17 for 3, though the bruise count was much higher. In fact the England physio, Wayne Morton, made six appearances on the field in order to administer his cold spray to throbbing fingers and arms.  Windies were captained by Brian Lara and had Ian Bishop, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, N McLean as bowlers.  The Umpires were  S A Bucknor (WI) and S Venkataraghavan (Ind).

Memory drifts back to that Chepauk test in 1979 when Dhiraj Parsana and Chang made their debuts.  Chang had a nasty blow off Karsan Ghavri delivery and was left bleeding.  Chasing a smaller target of 126, the ball was flying.  Dilip Vengsarkar was subjected to a barrage of short pitched ones by Stuart Clarke and Norbert Philip.  When hit, he threw his bat and threatened to walk out ! – India won that test, Viswanath, Gaekward and Kapil Dev making some good runs as India lost 7 wickets making 126. .. .. ~ and some may remember that a tall leg-spinner  Modireddy Venkat Narasimha Rao from Hyderabad played replacing legendary Bhagwat Chandrasekar.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Jan 2018.

Padma Awards 2018

Padma Awards 2018 have been announced.  I am happy reading the list of recipients.  On earlier occasions, I had posted  on a different perspective. I have always believed that the National honours have to be more on what they have done for the Nation and that way Cine artistes should not hog such limelight than Scientists, Social workers and those who have toiled to change the Society.  Yet, this year’s list makes me feel very happy**

Padma Awards 2018 have been announced.  The Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian honours of India announced annually on the eve of Republic Day. The Awards are given in three categories: Padma Vibhushan (for exceptional and distinguished service), Padma Bhushan (distinguished service of higher order) and Padma Shri (distinguished service). The awards seek to recognize achievements in all fields of activities or disciplines where an element of public service is involved.

The Government of India instituted two civilian awards-Bharat Ratna & Padma Vibhushan in 1954. The latter had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri vide Presidential Notification issued on January 8, 1955. All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards. The awards are normally not conferred posthumously. However, there have been exceptions.  The general rule is that a  higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.

The awards are presented by the President of India usually in the month of March/April every year where the awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire. The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony. The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to  NRI/ foreigners /OCIs) should not be more than 120. The awards do  not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name.

Nation’s President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday approved conferment of 85 Padma awards which include three Padma Vibhushan, nine Padma Bhushan and 73 Padma Shri awards.  

Padma Vibhushan  :  Isaignani Illaiyaraja; Ghulam Mustafa Khan & P. Parameswaran
Padma Bhushan :  Pankaj Advani; Philipose Mar Chrysostom; Mahendra Singh Dhoni; Alexander Kadakin (Foreigner/Posthumous);R. Nagaswamy; Ved Prakash Nanda (Overseas Citizen of India); Laxman Pai; Arvind Parikh ; Sharda Sinha
Ilayaraja : pic credit my friend Joseph Raja

From specialists in music to wildlife conservation, six persons from Tamil Nadu have found a place for their distinguished work in a range of fields on the Padma Awards list.  We grew up hearing Isaignani whose entry into the field with ‘machanai paathingala’ was grand. It was a marked departure from the days of MSV, KV Mahadevan, Shankar Ganesh to Ilaya Raja.. ..  .. though not a regular cinema buff, I was fascinated to hearing ‘andhi mazhai pozhigirathu …’ the violin that mesmerized – Ilayaraja combined folk rhythms with film music – my earlier favourites would include Nandooruthu (Bhairavi); Metti oli karrada; akkarai Cheemai; Sri Ramanin srideviye (Priya); amma nee sumantha pillai (Annai Oru alayam); all songs of Nizhalgal and Kadhal Oviyam and more … those were the days when otherwise ordinary films too would run because of the music of the maestro.  That way, conferment of Padma Vibushan is most liked by his fans like me.  He has always been a very humble person after composing for more than 1000 movies in several languages.  He is quoted as saying that   he believed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had honoured Tamil Nadu and its people by conferring on him the Padma Vibhushan award.

Some of the other eminent awardees include Mr Ramachandran Nagaswamy (Padma Bhushan) who had   served as the Director of the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department,  instrumental in starting several regional, district and site museums, as well as initiating the famous Chidambaram Natyanjali festival. An accomplished epigraphist and international expert in south Indian bronzes, Mr. Nagaswamy appeared as an expert witness in the London High Court in the famous London Nataraja Case where he was described in the judgment as an unequalled expert in his subject.

At 98 years of age, V. Nanammal from Coimbatore, regarded as one of the oldest yoga teachers in the country, will be given the Padma Shri. A teacher at the Ozone Yoga Centre, which she founded in 1972, Ms. Nanammal has trained lakhs of students who have gone on to win laurels at international competitions.  Another is , 72-year-old R. Vasudevan, dean, Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai.  Well known among the residents of his city as the 'Plastic Man of India' he evolved a technology which enables the use of plastic waste in road construction.

Romulus Whitaker, founder of the Madras Snake Park, who also set up the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, has been awarded the Padma Shri for his work in wildlife conservation. Smt. Vijayalakshmi Navaneethakrishnan, an acclaimed Tamil folk artist, too has been recognised with the Padma Shri for the collection, documentation and preservation of Tamil folk and tribal music. The folk exponent, who is a retired professor from the Madurai Kamaraj University, had been with the Department of Folk Arts and Culture and was instrumental in coming up with a Tamil folk art encyclopedia.

Lakshmikutty, a tribal woman from Kerala, who prepares 500 herbal medicine from memory and help thousands of people especially in snake and insect bite cases, is among the awardees.  West Bengal’s Sudhanshu Biswas, a 99-year-old freedom fighter who serves poor, runs school and orphanages and set up free school for poor, is among the winners. Kerala’s medical messiah to terminally ill, MR Rajagopal, has  been honoured with Padma Shri. Rajagopal has specialised in pain relief care for neonatal cases.  The list further includes : Maharashtra’s Murlikant Petkar, India’s first paralympic gold medalist, who lost his arm in 1965 India-Pakistan war; Subhasini Mistry, a poor lady from rural West Bengal, who toiled 20 years as housemaid and daily labourer to build a hospital for poor in the state; Nonagenarian farm labourer Sulagatti Narasamma, who provides midwifery services in backward region of Karnataka without any medical facility; Yeshi Dhoden, monk physician of Tibetan herbal medicine working in remote areas of Himachal Pradesh.

Hail the awardees

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Jan 2018.


Republic Day Parade 2018 # Chennai

From my childhood days ~ I have relished Indian Republic Day more – living closer to Marina beach, the RD parade has always been a great attraction.  This morning TN Governor Sri Bhanwarilal Purohit hoisted the National flag and flagged off the parade.

Today -  26th Jan 2018 marks the  69th Republic Day of the Nation.  At the National Capital, the celebrations began  at 9am with the flag-hoisting ceremony by President Ram Nath Kovind, after which the Republic Day parade started from Rajpath at 9.50 am. This year’s Republic Day is special in a way that there is not one, but 10 chief guests at the event. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited all Asean leaders to be a part of celebrations.  Earlier, the President Ram Nath Kovind left Rashtrapati Bhavan for the Republic Day parade escorted by 46 Bodyguards on Bay and Dark Bay coloured mounts. Raised in 1773, the President's Bodyguard is the oldest and senior-most Regiment of the Indian Army.

On 26 January 1950, the newly-sworn President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, rode through the streets of Delhi to reach Irwin Amphitheatre (now Dhyan Chand National Stadium). This was the venue of the first ever Republic Day parade, where 3,000 officers of the armed forces, and more than 100 aircrafts had participated. The tradition of having a Republic Day parade hasn’t changed, though, the parade in itself has evolved over time.   The format of the current parade was adopted in 1955, and Rajpath was chosen as the permanent venue. From then on, Republic day parades have become a projection of the cultural heritage, military capabilities and achievements of the nation, besides being a reflection of India’s changing foreign policy.

To mark the importance of the Republic Day, every year a grand parade is held in the capital, New Delhi, from the Raisina Hill  Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President's residence), along the Rajpath, past India Gate. Prior to its commencement, the Prime Minister lays a floral wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, a memorial to fallen soldiers at the India Gate at one end of Rajpath, which is followed by two minutes silence in the memory of fallen soldiers. It is a solemn reminder of the sacrifice of the martyrs who died for the country in the freedom movement and the succeeding wars for the defence of sovereignty of their country. Thereafter he reaches the main dais at Rajpath to join other dignitaries, subsequently the President arrives along with the chief guest of the occasion. They are escorted on horseback by the President's Bodyguard.

First, the president unfurls the National flag, as the National Anthem is played, and a 21-gun salute is given as the PBG renders the National Salute. Next, important awards like the Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra are given away by the President, before the regiments of Armed Forces start their march past. The President comes forward to award the medals of bravery to the people from the armed forces for their exceptional courage in the field and also the civilians, who have distinguished themselves by their different acts of valour in different situations. Children who receive the National Bravery Award ride past the spectators on colourfully decorated elephants or vehicles.  The parade traditionally ends with dare devil motor cycle riding by motorcycle units of the Armed Forces and a flypast by the Indian Air Force jets and helicopters carrying the national flag and the flags of the three services.

In all the State Capitals, there will be a RD parade where the Governor hoists the National flag.  In Chennai, in Kamarajar salai, there was a grand parade – first by armed forces, police and others – with school children and other cultural dances, followed by the tableaux representing the might of armed forces and then floats of various State Govt. departments. 

Tailpiece :  on the Independence Day right from 1947, the Prime Minister of the Nation unfurls the National flag at Red Fort; while it is President on Republic Day.  In the States, it is the CM & Governor respectively.  However on RD 2017, it was TN CM Mr O Panneerselvam who  hoisted the national flag for the first time on the 68th  Republic day of India at the Marina beach in Chennai. Tamil Nadu Governor (in-charge) C Vidyasagar Rao holding dual charge  was in Mumbai on Republic Day and hence the flag was hoisted by the CM.

Here are some photos taken this morning during the Parade in Chennai.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar                                                                       26th Jan 2018.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Celebrating 69th Republic Day of the Nation

The history of our  Nation is a fascinating epic of a great civilisation. It is a history of amazing cultural continuity.  Though the history was written by invaders and we might not have studied the fullest glory of the Nation, the Gangetic civilisation and its influence on humanity, the growth of royal institutions are all brilliant.  The great cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro when  discovered in the 1920s, presented India in a greater perspective to the whole World.   the history of the Indian subcontinent attained a new dimension.  The  great cities of the Indus civilisation proved to be much older. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro show a surprising similarity although they were separated by about 350 miles. In each city the archaeologists found an acropolis and a lower city, each fortified separately.

The Nation has a great history but was subjugated for a couple of centuries by the British and 15th Aug 1947 provided happiness.  There is another day of National importance.  Each year, 26th January is a day on which every Indian heart fills up with patriotic fervour and immense love for motherland. There are many significant memories as it was this day when the Indian Tricolour was first unfurled in January 1930 at Lahore, by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and the declaration of an independent Indian National Congress was made.

26 January, 1950 was the day when the Indian republic and its constitution came into force.  For us love for the Nation is the foremost and Mother India ranks upper most in our heart and mind. 

India - the Maha Bharat  is a great Nation where humanity has lived since ages. The month of January creates an aura of patriotism as Republic Day falls in this month.  After independence, laws were based on modified colonial Govt. Of India Act 1935 – a draft Constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Assembly on November 4, 1947. The Assembly met, in sessions open to public, for 166 days, spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many deliberations and some modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English) on January 24, 1950. Two days later, the Constitution of India became the law of all the Indian lands. The Constitution of India came into effect only on January 26, 1950. Following elections on January 21, 1950, Rajendra Prasad was elected as the president of India. This was, in fact, a deliberate act, signing the constitution on January 26, to mark and respect the freedom fighters who wanted January 26, 1947 as India's initial Independence day.

Thus on 26th January, 1950 that Republic of India was formed and the Constitution of India came into force. Over these years India has come a long way in overcoming various obstacles and hurdles to rejoice in the moments of triumph, glory and the pride of being an independent nation. Republic Day reminds us of the fulfilment of the pledge that was made on the midnight of Independence as a "tryst with destiny". Republic Day is celebrated with much enthusiasm throughout the country. The patriotic fervour of every Indian on this day brings the whole country united. To honour the occasion, a grand celebration is held at New Delhi, the national capital. The celebrations begin with spectacular presentation projecting India's military prowess. The President of India - unfurls the National Flag, followed by the National Anthem. The different regiments of Army, Navy and Air Force march in-synchrony from Rashtrapati Bhavan, along the Rajpath and reach the India Gate saluting the President of India, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces. This is followed by a massive parade by other military troops including State Regiments.  

Since 1950, India has been hosting head of state or government of another country as the state guest of honour for Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. During 1950–1954, Republic Day celebrations were organised at different venues (like Irwin Stadium, Kingsway, Red Fort and Ramlila Grounds). It was only starting 1955 when the parade in its present form was organised at Rajpath.  The guest country is chosen after a deliberation of strategic, economic and political interests. Do you know, who is the Chief Guest this year ??

The transition of India from a British colony to a sovereign, secular, and democratic nation was indeed historical. It was a long journey of around two decades that started with the conceptualisation of the dream in 1930 to its actual realization in 1950. The seeds of a republican nation were sowed at the Lahore session of the Indian National Congress at the midnight of 31st December 1929.  Those present in the meeting took a pledge to mark January 26 as "Independence Day" in order to march towards realizing the dream of complete independence from the British. The Lahore Session paved way to the Civil Disobedience movement. It was decided that January 26, 1930 would be observed as the Purna Swaraj (complete Independence) Day. Many Indian political parties and Indian revolutionaries from all over the country united to observe the day with honour and pride. On this Republic Day, read what the great Constitution of India, that propounds liberal democracy, has in its store. Let's also feel proud in pronouncing what the Preamble to our Constitution says.

History will repeat itself this Republic Day. On January 26 , 1950 when India celebrated its first Republic Day, the chief guest was south-east Asian strongman Sukarno. Sixty-eight years on, India has again invited an Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, to grace the occasion. Only this time, the Indonesian President will not be the solitary chief guest. The country will roll out the red carpet for heads of nine other Asean countries who will witness India display its military might and cultural diversity during the parade.  Leaders from the 10 nations -- Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei -- will be present on a stage enclosed with a 100 feet wide bullet-proof glass.

This year the Guests in the function would be :
1.         Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia since2014.
2.         Lee Hsien Loong, the third can current Prime Minister of Singapore has been in office since 2004. Mr Lee is the eldest child of Singapore's first first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
3.         Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Vietnam and member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
4.         Dato Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia was sworn into office in 2009. He is the eldest son of Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia's second Prime Minister.
5.         General Prayut Chan-o-cha, a retired Royal Thai Army officer and current Prime Minister of Thailand.
6.         Aung San Suu Kyi, State Councillor of Myanmar serves as the country's de facto leader and has been in office since 2016. She was also the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
7.         Rodrigo Duterte is the President of Philippines, who took office in 2016. The 71-year-old is the oldest in his country to assume presidency. 
8.         Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan of Brunei is also the first and current Prime Minister of Brunei. He acceded to the throne after the abdicatrion of his father Omar Ali Saifuddien III.
9.         Thongloun Sisoulith, the Prime Minister of Laos.
10.       Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia has been in office since 1985. He is Cambodia's longest serving head of government.
Let us all celebrate Republic Day 2018 with gaiety.  Jai Hind

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Jan 2o18.