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Monday, November 19, 2018

Azaj Patel spins New Zealand to a dream victory over Pak

Ajaz's rise to international cricket was built on repeated success at domestic level. He was the highest wicket-taker in first-class cricket for three years running before he got the call from selector Gavin Larsen in July 2018.  Having emigrated with his family from Mumbai in 1996,  it is indeed a big climb to Patel

Back in Nov 2004 in Mumbai, in the 4th test, India 104 & 205 beat Australia 203 & 93 by 13 runs, which is the lowest margin for India.  Micheal Clarke had magical figures of 6.2-0-9-6 in Indian second innings – yet, the commentator Murali Kartik with 7 wickets in the match was the man of the match.  The lowest in the history of Test Cricket is that of 4th test at Adelaide in Jan 1993 when WI beat Aussies.  WI 252 & 146 beat Australia 213 & 184.  Curtly ambrose was the Man of the match.

Today at Abu dhabi, it was a miracle – dead and buried against Pakistan, New Zealand fought valiantly to summon one of the greatest comebacks in their test cricket history, turning the test on its head to claim a famous four-run triumph.
It was a game that they had absolutely no right to win. Chasing 176, Pakistan were cruising at 130-3, with Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali having added 82 to put their side on the cusp of victory. Even when Neil Wagner removed Shafiq just before lunch, it seemed a mere footnote in the plotline seemingly scripted for this tour – the Black Caps being good, but not quite good enough. The equation had been reduced to just 29 runs required with six wickets in hand, and with experienced batsmen at the crease, it looked like the question was not if, but when, Pakistan would take a 1-0 series lead.

In the pantheon of infamous Pakistan implosions, this must rank right around the top. Pakistan were cantering to a victory around lunchtime, courtesy Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali, and the wicket of Shafiq off the last ball before lunch seemed no more than an inconsequential irritant. But New Zealand, blindly, illogically, unreasonably, refused to write off this match as a lost cause, compelling Pakistan to believe the game was still on, the pressure all theirs to bear.  Kiwis had a four-run victory, their narrowest Test win in history, and surely one of their most gratifying ones.

The score card reads : New Zealand 153 (Williamson 63, Yasir 3-54) and 249 (Watling 59, Nicholls 55, Hasan 5-45, Yasir 5-110) beat Pakistan 227 (Babar 62, Boult 4-54) and 171 (Azhar 65, Patel 5-59) by four runs. Black Caps captain Kane Williamson hailed the performance as a superb fighting effort. "It's a great advertisement for test cricket. We knew the surface wasn't easy and it required a really scrappy performance. The attitude was outstanding – the guys stayed in the contest for long periods of time. "That fighting attitude that we showed throughout was something that we want to hold onto."

It was an attitude which led to the Black Caps conquering with the second-lowest fourth-innings target they have ever successfully defended. The lowest was 137 in the famous win over England in Wellington in 1978. The third-lowest is now the 241 defended in beating Australia in Hobart in 2011, another memorable victory.

The debutant Ajaz Patel hailing from India had figures of 5/59 -  the second best by a New Zealand spinner on Test debut. Alex Moir had taken 6 for 155 against England in Christchurch in 1951, which is the best. Ajaz was also named Man of the Match, which makes him fifth New Zealand player to win the award on Test debut.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Nov.2018.

Cyclone 'Gaja' has caused devastation in parts of Tamil Nadu

In Dec 2015, there were unprecedented rains in Chennai ~ water ran over Saidapet, Adyar bridges, many houses were inundated – people suffered – the devastation was captured and shown  widespread in every media; social media highlighted more and there were so many groups including SYMA of Triplicane that were involved in relief work.

On Nov 5, 2018 -  a low pressure system formed over the Gulf of Thailand. The system crossed through Southern Thailand and the Malay Peninsula on Nov 8. The next day, it crossed into the Andaman Sea and lingered there, organizing further throughout the day and intensified into a depression over the Bay of Bengal on November 10. The next day, the system was designated by the IMD as BOB 09. Soon after, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert (TCFA). At 00:00 UTC on November 11, the deep depression strengthened into a cyclonic storm, and was named 'Gaja'. There was red-alert too .. .. it made a landfall later – there were not even heavy rains in Chennai and social media made memes making fun that ‘Gaja went jaga’ – it became a joke .. .. .. first regret for not realizing the devastation caused elsewhere in our own state of Tamil Nadu .. ..

Gaja made landfall along the coast of Tamil Nadu as a severe cyclonic storm between Vedaranyam and Velankanni shortly after midnight on 15.11- it reportedly was more than 120 kmph at the eye of the storm.   The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder or AIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Cyclone Gaja on Nov. 15 at 3:29 p.m. EDT (around 2 am IST) and analyzed the storm in infrared light. Infrared light provides temperature data and that’s important when trying to understand how strong storms can be. The higher the cloud tops, the colder and the stronger they are.  When Aqua passed over the Indian Ocean, Gaja’s center was making landfall along the coast of southeastern India. The AIRS instrument found coldest cloud top temperatures in thunderstorms around the center, where temperatures were as cold as minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius). Storms with cloud top temperatures that cold have the capability to produce heavy rainfall.

It appears that – we have not fully understood or realized the havoc caused by the cyclonic storm 'Gaja', which crossed Tamil Nadu's coast early on Friday, claiming more than 20 lives and thousands of cattle. The winds due to the cyclonic storm resulted in hundreds of trees and electricity poles being uprooted in places of :  Nagapattinam, Vedaranyam,  Pattukottai, Karaikal, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Pudukottai, Cuddalore, Pudukottai to name a few.

Thanjavur is the delta region, that produced quintals of paddy when Cauvery was in full flow.  Tanjore district encompasses the entire cauvery delta. For administrative reasons the erstwhile Thanjavur district was divided into three districts Viz. Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam districts. The sad news is -   Cyclone Gaja has left coconut farmers devastated, felling lakhs of trees in groves across the Cauvery delta and in neighbouring Pudukottai district. “The impact created by cyclone Gaja certainly is deeper than we could imagine. Livelihoods of thousands of villagers have been destroyed.

The coconut growing belt of Pattukottai and Peravurani in Thanjavur district have been the worst affected, farmers say. The Agriculture Department has launched a survey to enumerate the extent of damage and it is expected to be completed by November 25. Coconut is raised on about 40,000 hectares (ha), mostly in Pattukottai, Peravaruni and Orathanadu areas in Thanjavur district, the department officials said. According to initial estimates, over five lakh coconut trees in Pudukottai district have been uprooted by the cyclone, leaving coconut growers literally in tears. Authorities in Nagpattinam said that coconut trees on 3,000 hectares have been damaged. Farmers of Pattukottai and Peravurani areas said for most them coconut groves were the only source of livelihood.

Nearly two lakh farm labourers are also estimated to depend on the coconut farms for employment in Thanjavur district. Peravurani is a panchayat town which is a leading producer of coconut.  The town lying in new delta region is   irrigated by Kallanai Kalvai and its distributories. Peravurani means "big pond", deriving from the Tamil words periya meaning big and oorani meaning a pond or a tank.

The villages in and around Peravurani – some of which named as -  Thirupooranikadu, kalagam, kondraikadu, thenangudi, hiruchitrambalam  seruvaviduthi, uppuviduthi, Mudachikkadu, kalanikkottai, Kuruvikkrambai karambakkadu ,  Nadiyam,  Marungappallam, Nattanikottai, Kazhanivasal, Rettavayal, Ottangadu, Sethubavachathiram – and more have been devastated by the cyclone with coconut trees, plantain trees, maize and paddy have been badly damaged.  Electric poles have fallen – there has been no electricity and many people are suffering without food and basic amenities.

It is our duty to ensure that we participate in some relief measures and help our brethren in these areas – whatever listed out here is limited and practically, there could be hundreds of villages badly affected and thousands waiting for some assistance.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th Nov. 2018.
Pic credit : IMD, NASA, FB page of Peravurani (just to highlight and make us understand the impact of cyclone)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri ~ hero of Battle of Longewala is no more

Pre-script 1:  The Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) is the second highest military decoration in India, after the Param Vir Chakra, and is awarded for acts of conspicuous gallantry in the presence of the enemy, whether on land, at sea or in the air. It replaced the British Distinguished Service Order (DSO). The medal may be awarded posthumously. 

2) Decades ago, this book titled ‘Pathinaalu Naatkal’ [14 days] impressed me most…. It was a story on Indo-bangla war … the hero is an  Indian pilot who gets captured and falls in the hands of a Paki general who hates India….. the air warfare was so wonderfully depicted with Sujatha touch of humanism….

                                Thar Desert, also known as the Great Indian Desert, is a large arid region in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent that covers an area of 200,000 km2 and forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan.  About 75% of the Thar Desert is located within India, with the remaining 25% in Pakistan.  Longewala is a border town in the Thar Desert in the western part of Jaisalmer district, in the state of Rajasthan. It is very close to the border with Pakistan and is most notable as the location of the Battle of Longewala during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.

The Battle of Longewala (4–7 December 1971) was one of the first major engagements in the western sector during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, fought between assaulting Pakistani forces and Indian defenders at the Indian border post of Longewala, in the Thar Desert.   "A" company (reinforced) of the Indian Army's 23rd battalion, Punjab Regiment, commanded by Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, was left with the choice of either attempting to hold out until reinforced, or fleeing on foot from a mechanised infantry Pakistani force.  Choosing the former, Chandpuri ensured that all his assets were correctly deployed, and made the most use of his strong defensive position, and weaknesses created by errors in enemy tactics. He was also fortunate in that an Indian Air Forceforward air controller was able to secure and direct aircraft in support of the post's defence until reinforcements arrived six hours later.

During the night of the 4th, Lt. Veer's platoon conducting a patrol detected noises across the border that suggested a large number of armoured vehicles approaching. These were soon confirmed by reports — from the Army's Air Observation Post aircraft flown by Maj. Atma Singh — in the area of a 20 km long armoured column on the track leading to the post advancing in the general direction of the Longewala post.  Directing Lt Veer's patrol to trail the advancing armoured column, Chandpuri got in touch with the battalion headquarters requesting urgent reinforcements and armour and artillery support. Battalion HQ gave him the choice of staying put, and containing the attack as much as possible, or carrying out a tactical retreat of the company to Ramgarh, as reinforcements would not be available for at least six hours. Considering that Chandpuri's command had no transportation, and was facing a mobile enemy, he decided to maintain the defensive position of the post where his troops at least had the benefit of prepared defensive works, rather than conducting a withdrawal at night that was a far riskier option.

The battle of Longewala saw heavy Pakistani losses and low Indian casualties. Since the Indians were able to use the defenders' advantage, they managed to inflict heavy losses on the Pakistanis. Indian casualties in the battle were two soldiers along with one of their jeep mounted recoil-less rifles knocked out. Pakistani losses were 200 soldiers killed.  The Pakistanis suffered the loss of 34 tanks destroyed or abandoned, and lost 500 additional vehicles.  Invading Pakistan troops meanwhile, had underestimated the Longewala post's defensive capability due to the difficulty of approach over sand, conducting the attack at night and in full-moon light, against stiff resistance encountered there from a well prepared defensive position located on a dominant height.

Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri was awarded Maha Vir Chakra, India's second highest gallantry award.  Several other awards were earned by members of the defending company, and the battalion's commander. On the other hand, the Pakistani divisional commander was dismissed from service.  Sadly, Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri MVC, VSM (22 November 1940) a decorated Officer passed away yesterday.   He was a councillor in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation from 2006 to 2011.   The  hero of the Battle of Longewala during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, died at a hospital in Mohali on Saturday, his family said. He was 78. Brig Chandpuri was suffering from cancer. He is survived by his wife and three sons, his family said.

The 1997 Bollywood film, ‘Border’, in which actor Sunny Deol played the role of Brig Chandpuri, was made depicting the Longewala battle. The cremation will take place on Monday with full military honours. Brig Chandpuri passed out from the Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai, in 1963 and was commissioned into the 23rd Battalion of the Punjab Regiment. He took part in the 1965 war on the western sector and, thereafter, served in the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) for about a year. He also served twice as an instructor at the Infantry School, Mhow.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condoled the passing away of Chandpuri, saying his exemplary and heroic leadership in the Battle of Longewala would inspire the young soldiers and officers of the defence services to discharge their duties with utmost devotion, commitment and sincerity.  The citation for his Mahavir Chakra Award reads: “Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri was commanding a company battalion of the Punjab Regiment occupying a defended locality in the Rajasthan Sector.” At the Battle of Longewala, Brig Chandpuri exhibited dynamic leadership, exceptional courage and determination in holding his command intact and steadfast. He inspired his men moving from bunker to bunker till the reinforcements arrived, the citation added.

Salute to the hero !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Nov. 2018

Saturday, November 17, 2018

son of pacer who ran in fast and hurled deliveries !!!

Nothing big ~ he has played in 5 T20s – scored 38 runs with 21 as highest – watched him play a T10 today !!!

Carrara Stadium (known commercially as Metricon Stadium) is a sporting venue on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, located in the suburb of Carrara. The venue is primarily used for Australian rules football and is the home ground of the Gold Coast Suns, who compete in the Australian Football League.  The stadium has hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Commonwealth Games as well as the athletics competitions.  Gold Coast is a coastal city in the Australian state of Queensland, approximately 66 kilometres (41 mi) south-southeast of the state capital Brisbane and immediately north of the border with New South Wales. It was the venue of T20 match between touring South Africans and Australia.

The Gold Coast region remained largely uninhabited by Europeans until 1823 when explorer John Oxley landed at Mermaid Beach. The area boomed in the 1980s as a leading tourist destination and in 1994, the City of Gold Coast local government area was expanded to encompass the majority of the Gold Coast's metropolitan area, becoming the second most populous local government area in Australia after the City of Brisbane. Today, the Gold Coast is a major tourist destination with its sunny subtropical climate and has become widely known for its surfing beaches, high-rise dominated skyline, theme parks, nightlife, and rainforest hinterland.

It was not the greatest of matches – in a rain-reduced 10 overs aside, the innings changed with du Plessis' dismissal. With 3.1 overs left South Africa had a score of 120 on offer. Du Plessis hammered Stanlake to deep midwicket. Very few fielders in the world could have saved six let alone completed the catch. Maxwell leapt high and took the catch at full stretch above his head while momentum carried him over the rope. He threw the ball up just before his left foot hit the ground over the rope, he balanced, got back inside the rope and made the end result look exceptionally simple despite the incredible degree of difficulty. Coulter-Nile and Andrew Tye then closed the innings brilliantly conceding just 24 runs from the last 18 balls and claiming three wickets with some well-executed slower balls.

Finch is the Captain, and the team reads : Chris Lynn, DJM Short, Glenn Maxwell, MP Stoinis,  BR McDermott,  AT Carey (WK),  Nathan Coulter-Nile, AJ Tye, JP Behrendorff, B Stanlake  ~ not exactly an inexperienced line-up or perhaps we are able to familiarize the team because of IPL .. ..

Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast had set itself for its first international cricket match, just seven months after hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games. But a deluge of rain pre-game, 18 millimetres in total, nearly ensured the match never started. Fortunately, the heavy rain cell passed due to strong winds. The game did start after a delay of nearly two hours, with the playing conditions changing to 10 overs per side, two overs maximum for each bowler, with a three over Powerplay.  South Africa inflicted Australia's third loss in four matches to leave the home side down right miserable. Australia have now lost their last four T20Is and five of the last six on top of losing a one-day and Test series in between times.

The squad did ring a bell – McDermott is a known name – it is Benjamin Reginald McDermott   who has not followed the family trend of bowling fast like his father Craig and brother Alister, but has instead made a name for himself as a batsman and some-time wicketkeeper. Craig McDermott made his Test debut aged 19 on the way to 291 wickets and his son Alister had a Queensland rookie contract before leaving high school in Southport. Alister, who was in year 12 when the deal was signed, carries the red hair and bowling action of his father and Queensland are hoping for similar results in the future.  Benjamin Mcdermott is playing as a batsman .. ..

Craig Mcdermott (photo at the start) bowled fast, and threw in accurately and flat. He played 71 tests taking 291 wickets at an average of 28.63 and in 138 ODIs he took 203 wickets.  Remember that he played in that famous Tied test at Chepauk but went wicketless.  He played in 2 matches at Chepauk further – Reliance WC 1987 – against India in the first match he took 4/56 and against Zimbabwe 1/13. Craig McDermott used to smear his face white with chapstick, run in fast  and hurl down quick deliveries — several years before Allan Donald had transformed the act into the realms of legend.  His career was plagued by injuries .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Nov. 2018

emerging out of shadows of father ~ and playing for another country

Subash Gupte, VV Kumar, BS Chandrasekhar, MV Narasimha Rao, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Narendra Hirwani, Anil Kumble, Amit Mishra, Piyush Chawla, Yuzvindra Chahal  ……….all leg spinners – who played for India.  Across the border, there was a legend with a different action, springy jump, landing the ball near leg and turning it big .. .. .. he played 67 tests took 236 wickets and 132 wickets in 104 one dayers.  Qadir had an ordinary Test debut against England in December 1977, where he scored 11 with the bat and took a solitary wicket of England’s No. 11 Bob Willis.  However,  had a  brilliant ODI debut against New Zealand at Edgbaston during the 1983 WC. With his all-round performance of 12-4-21-4 and 41 not out, also the top score of Pakistan’s innings, he was adjudged the man of the match, albeit in a losing cause.

In that Test at Chennai Chepauk in Feb 1987, which I would remember ever for that magnificent century by Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Pak scored 487/9 & 182/3 with India scoring massive 527/9 decl. – the man Abdul Qadir. In Reliance World Cup 1987,  it was the last over, to be bowled by Courtney Walsh, West Indies looked to have it in the bag. Pakistan needed 14 runs off the six.  Abdul Qadir took a single off the first ball and Saleem Jaffar another off the second, leaving 12 to get off four. Qadir, who had done nothing of significance with the ball in that match turned it on, hitting a two and then launching a straight six that drew the crowd roaring to its feet. They ran another two off the next ball, leaving two to get off the last. Walsh ran in to bowl the last ball and pulled up without delivering: Jaffar, at the non-striker's end, was well out of his crease, heading up the wicket. Walsh could have run him out comfortably but chose not to do so and headed back to bowl the delivery again. Qadir scored  the necessary runs off the last ball. Pakistan were through, Qadir was a hero – Walsh though earned a name for being a sportsman, let his side badly down and West Indies’ downslide started around that time. 

A couple of years later in 1989 when India toured Pak with Srikkanth at helm, a 16 year old Sachin Tendulkar made his debut – an onedayer at Peshavar was washed out and a festive match was played.  In an interesting anecdote when Sachin walked in – India  needed 69 runs in five overs or so. He had a go at Mushtaq Ahmed who had taken two wickets and hit him for a couple of sixes. Qadir then came up and  said, "Bachchon ko kyon mar rahe ho? Hamein bhi maar dikhao" ("Why are you only hitting the kid? Hit me too.")  In that 20 over match  Pakistan had  put on 157 and India only got close thanks to an 18-ball 53 from a 16-year-old Sachin Tendulkar. One over from Abdul Qadir read: 6, 0, 4, 6 6 6. It announced Tendulkar to the world.

Decades have passed by, Qadir, too retired, became a commentator, sports administrator and more .. he had sons and loved them deep – his   last son, was the one he chose to attend the Madrassa to learn the Hafiz Qur’an. The one he stopped from playing cricket for Pakistan to avoid accusations of nepotism. And when he stepped into the playing arena, there were always comments that he was there because of his father and not by his game. Still, in Pak, crowds mob Qadir wherever he is seen, seeking autographs and hearing his sharing events of his playing days.  

As the child of a legend, Usman Qadir  was born with a silver spoon, but says that they were not as rich as  some people might think. They  lived in a big house in the grand city of Lahore, the family had a car and everything needed. Usman says that there  were four floors in our house. The first was rented out. On the second was his  father’s office. The third floor was where they  lived and on the fourth was a terrace with a barbeque. On the terrace there was space for games of tennis ball-cricket and they used Qadir’s  bowling machine. They would fly kits too as it was a popular pastime in Pakistan back then.  He claims having seen Shane Warne and Anil Kumble visiting their house to meet Abdul Qadir.  At a very young age, the son of Qadir had the opportunity of bowling at Gadaffi stadium in the nets to Marvan Atapattu and mucking around with Murali.

The other brothers were good cricketers and each played for first-class teams at home. However, Abdul Qadir , by that time, would sometimes speak up about things he saw were going wrong at the Pakistan Cricket Board, which made it hard for his son’s careers to progress.  Now, one of them is in England playing club cricket and running a business, another takes care of Qadir’s  academy in Lahore and the other runs a property business.  Usman did his  studies at the Madrassa and would go  straight to his  father’s academy to practise.  He was selected for Pak U15 .. ..but people were not looking at his performances, just the name.   When people saw ‘Qadir’ they would know he was the son of the great Abdul Qadir. People would talk  behind on his selection because of that.

Bowling leg spin is very hard. To put it in the right place every ball is a great challenge, so I was asking my dad all the time to help me. He was a great support, I was doing well and getting better every day. Quips Usman.  Then something peculiar happened. I was playing in a national tournament and did very well. In one match I took seven wickets including a hat-trick. The people at the Pakistan Cricket Board could watch the game because they could view the ground from their offices. I was named best bowler in the tournament. Pakistan A was going to tour Australia soon afterwards. The PCB chairman at the time, Ijaz Butt, and two other selectors put my name in the squad. However, my father, who was the chief selector at that time, took my name off the list. He said he would resign from his post if they put my name back again. The chief executive, Wasim Bari, asked my father why he cut my name from the squad. Everything had been ready; my clothes, my visas, my flights. My father told him that people would think I was selected only because I was his son. It was a very hard time for me. That was when I started to tell my father that I wanted to leave Pakistan and play in Australia.

Now Usman Qadir is all set to play for Australia .. ..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Nov. 2018. Excerpted from

Kerala Govt puts trouble to devotees ~ offers facilities to social activists

Nilackal,  earlier famously known as  Chayal, is a remote ghat region located in the Goodrical range of Ranni forest division in Pathanamthitta District.  .. ..  Today an advertisement issued by the Kerala Govt imposes some added restrictions :  ~  why would a secular Govt headed by Communist Pinarayi Vijayan indulge in these :

o    Base camp shifted to Nilakkal – pilgrims need to commute only by KSRTC buses
§  Govt’s way of putting more hardship to devotee
§  Trying to earn revenue from the Temple of which they are seeking to destroy
§  What happens to freedom of choice ?
o    Halt not allowed at Pamba and pilgrims have to return immediately after darshan at sannidhanam
These are evil designs – the devout would be undeterred but yet, why are the Aiyappa devotees have to undergo more suffering in reaching Pamba itself and why try to promote Nilackal now ? – sinister designs.. .. the Devaswom or the Govt never had any plan nor took any effort to provide basic amenities to the Swamy’s bakths – the Holy Sabarimala, the abode of Swami Aiyappan lacks basic amenities and devotees young and old, simply ignore all hardships, think and chant Him – say ‘kallum mullum kaalukku methai’ (the stones and thrones are but softbeds for the legs of his devotee)

To us Hinduism is a way of life  ~ it is with deep sense of anguish that we received the verdict which contravenes the  beliefs and conventions followed for thousands of years in Sabarimala overruled by a Court judgement ….this is no comment on the judicial position or questioning the verdict, yet – I like many millions of others believe, that such beliefs are supreme and are outside the purview of Courts (as has been held many a times, when it comes to questioning of practices of others religious beliefs.) Why should a Court interfere in religious matters.  Every religious place have their own rules, restrictions – in Kerala in most Temples, males are not allowed with upper garments (shirts) – can someone argue in a Court that this is discrimination ?  Factually, there are clubs in Cities that bar men without shoes and pants !!

The argument that women are barred from entering the Sabarimala shrine is farcical and untrue. The absolute truth is that lakhs of women come to Sabarimala every year. That itself goes to prove that this whole debate is misplaced and based on a wrong premise. Restrictions are in place only for those women aged between 10 and 50 and this is primarily due to “Naishtika Brahmacharya Pratishta” wherein the reigning deity of the Sabarimala shrine is an absolute celibate.

The holy Sabarimala draws millions of people – Lord Ayyappa,  the presiding deity of Sabarimala had his human sojourn at Pandalam as the son of the King of Pandalam, known by the name of Manikandan, who found him as a radiant faced infant on the banks of the river Pampa, wearing a bead (‘mani’) around his neck. Manikandan’s feats and achievements convinced the King and others of his divine origin.  

Lord Iyappa is the Lord of masses -  the cult of Sabarimala broke the ‘divide’ created internally within the Hinduism and also created by ‘’divide and rule’’ model of invaders. During the Sabarimala season, you can see millions of people wearing coloured dhotis, wearing the mala and sandal paste on their foreheads. They observe strict ‘’brahmacharya’’,strictly follow food restrictions, live a dharmic path. These *Iyappa samis*  mingle freely with each other without any discrimination based on caste, age, social status etc etc.. address each other ‘Sami’.  Faith has been deeply rooted in  society's political and moral behaviour.  Any challenge to that  faith, offends followers and believers,  seriously threatens the very fabric of religious beliefs.   Life is all about perceptions – to some fools, who say that they are seeing goons put mala for a short while and go to Temple, you are trying to see microscopic minority – I have friends who at the age of 50 have visited the holy shrine close to 200 times. I know friends who follow absolute vratha, eating rice food once in the day, take fruits in the night and nothing in the noon, those who walk kilo meters every day and go to many temples when wearing malai. 

In between a handful of unworthy people get so much of Press attention – they are called social activists – a woman details her plan of visit to  Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CM arranges all facilities while crores of devotees have even their basic amenities stopped.  The devout is made to walk another 30 kilo meters from the base camp or travel by paying money to rickety Govt buses – but the Govt tries to arrange airconditioned coach and earlier ensured another woman walk in full riot gear of Police – whose money and whose authority ?  the woman who tries media attention and promptly gets them too writes to CM, the entire Police force welcomes her and she makes   a strange request that Kerala government should bear all her expenses !  including her travel, accommodation and meal  ~  what a democracy !!

She for sure learnt something ~ there  weren’t too many people, around 1,000, according to media reports – but they were determined and unrelenting. As the self-acclaimed Bhumata Brigade’s Trupti Desai landed at the Cochin International Airport in the wee hours of Friday, claiming to enter  Sabarimala temple, she was met with a strong crowd of devotees.  Chants of Ayyappa rung the air, reaching feverish highs and electrifying the crowd into louder slogans.  An old man asked security officers what this was all about, and after he was explained to, he looked in Trupti’s direction, slapped his forehead in disdain and walked on.  The Sabarimala crowd is not air-travellers, they travel in packed trains, buses, vans, two-wheelers, have darshan at scores of Temples on the way, they undertake strict vradham of self-restraint, walk on foot close to 100 km, their belongings are the holy ‘irumudi’ and perhaps changeover dress .. .. nothing much – and primarily it is masses, not rich and privileged.  They take whatever food is available and keep trekking, sleeping in open in the forest way that leads to temple, take holy bath in Pamba and rush to their Lord.

At the airport, it was the best possible exhibition of a peaceful protest and the intent was quite stern and clear.   One of them  holding a placard stating, ‘Trupti, you are wrong this time’ in loud red letters, said, “I am here to put pressure on Trupti to leave the state and not create a riot-like situation here. I want people across the country to understand. This is about our faith.” His wife, a devotee who was ‘ready to wait’, said that there was no threat to Trupti’s life. “Even if there is, it’s her own doing. She should not have come,” she said calmly, adding that all of them are here to protest peacefully.  Until late in the morning, Trupti and her aides, who were holed up at the airport amidst tight security, were adamant that the government provide her protection and transport.

Earlier in the morning, the cab unions had thrown their hands up and said they won’t provide transport for her to travel. When police officers started telling media that they were absolutely ready to provide her protection, but were under no obligation to provide transport and accommodation in the state, their strategy seemed to become clear. Meanwhile, leftist spindoctors had also started creating the narrative online that Desai was an RSS plant sent to destabilise the state, possibly providing cover to the government in their decision to not support Trupti all the way through to Sabarimala. After a 15-hour-long wait at the airport, Trupti Desai decided to give in. She had been adamant for a long time,  resorted to her own ways of diverting stating the lie that  Ayyappa devotees resorted to abuses and threats,  and she would   return with guerrilla tactics !  ~  tactics right, the other ??

Sad, that a few women of opposite faith, calling themselves social activists, throw out all rituals, try to walk to temple for a simple FB post ‘I was there’ – and there are ulterior motives for the fascist Govt and others in calling holy Sabarimala a secular temple and everyone has a right to entry.  Just for a moment, can they think of toeing the same line for all other places of worship in the same State, nay will they allow all people to visit Communist citadels.

Time will make them realize – never play with God – never hurt sentiments – Lord is mightier.  Swamiye Saranam Iyappa ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Nov. 2018.

tuskless African elephants ~ facility for treatment at Mathura

I love elephants and everytime I get a chance to travel to Kerala, I look forward to the opportunity of getting closer to a big tusker ‘komban yaanai’. Kerala is famous for its elephants, many of them  are featured in the local legends of Kerala. Aitihyamala ("A Garland of Historical Anecdotes") by Kottarattil Sankunni was written in eight volumes; each volume ending with a story or legend about a famous elephant.  Many prominent temples in Kerala own elephants, many of which are donated by devotees. Elephants are a core part of ritual worship in the famous Guruvayur temple which owns more than 60 elephants.  Some Churches too have copied that .. .. many private people too own elephants.  

In Assam,West Bengal,  Odisha and many other States too there are many elephants .. .. miles away are the African cousins which have some varied traits   there both male and female have big tuskers. In some ways, their  weighty teeth are the key to reproductive success, as they will be used to bully and intimidate less well-endowed males, and also size really does seem to matter among the females. But due to man’s insatiable greed for ivory, these huge tusks have become the metaphorical albatross around their necks.   African elephants are traditionally referred to as "tuskers" when their tusks grow so long they reach the ground. Sadly, this ornamental growth  makes them an especially attractive potential target for poachers, who attack elephants for their lucrative ivory. Their numbers are dwindling !

Back home, the Odisha government has asked the power distribution companies (discoms) to disconnect power supply in elephant corridors during the movement of pachyderms, said an official on Friday. The direction of the state government came after it drew flak following the death of several elephants including seven in Dhenkanal district due to electrocution recently. “The death of elephants due to electrocution in recent times has been a matter of great concern. In this regard it is requested to disconnect power supply in elephant corridors as well as movement areas on getting credible information from Forest Department or any reliable sources regarding movement of elephants/ wildlife in the said areas,” said Energy Department Special Secretary Surajit Das in a letter to the discoms. Further, it is requested to ensure reconnection of power supply after ascertaining safe exit of wildlife from the said area, he informed.

Read this somewhat disturbing report in National Geographic on ‘Elephant behaviour change’ :  the oldest elephants wandering Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park bear the indelible markings of the civil war that gripped the country for 15 years: Many are tuskless. They’re the lone survivors of a conflict that killed about 90 percent of these beleaguered animals, slaughtered for ivory to finance weapons and for meat to feed the fighters.

Hunting gave elephants that didn’t grow tusks a biological advantage in Gorongosa. Recent figures suggest that about a third of younger females—the generation born after the war ended in 1992—never developed tusks. Normally, tusklessness would occur only in about 2 to 4 percent of female African elephants.  Decades ago, some 4,000 elephants lived in Gorongosa, says an elephant behavior expert and National Geographic Explorer who studies the park’s pachyderms. But those numbers dwindled to triple digits following the civil war. New, as yet unpublished research indicates that of the 200 known adult females, 51 percent of those that survived the war—animals 25 years or older—are tuskless. And 32 percent of the female elephants born since the war are tuskless.

This tuskless trend isn’t limited to Mozambique, either. Other countries with a history of substantial ivory poaching also see similar shifts among female survivors and their daughters. In South Africa, the effect has been particularly extreme—fully 98 percent of the 174 females in Addo Elephant National Park were reportedly tuskless in the early 2000s. Despite the wave of human-influenced tusklessness in recent decades, elephants missing their tusks are surviving and appear healthy !  Scientists say that the significant proportion of elephants with this handicap may be altering how individuals and their broader communities behave, and they want to find out if, for example, these animals have larger home ranges than other elephants because they might need to cover more ground to find recoverable foods.

Back home, a hospital to treat injured, sick and ageing elephants was inaugurated in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura district on 16.11.2018. Wildlife SOS, a conservation non-governmental organisation, has established the fully-equipped hospital in collaboration with the state Forest Department. The hospital has the latest technology and medical facilities, including hydrotherapy, wireless digital X-ray, ultrasonography. Located in Churmura village in Farah block, the hospital is equipped with a medical hoist for lifting elephants requiring critical care, a pathology laboratory, digital weighing machine, elephant restraining device and a dedicated indoor treatment enclosure for longer medical procedures.      An observation deck will allow veterinary students and interns to observe and learn elephant treatment routines from a safe distance. It was inaugurated by Agra Divisional Commissioner Anil Kumar.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Nov 2018.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Telangana elections ~ crorepathi owns no car

Telangana became the latest entrant, the newest State to be born in India.  Carved out of Andhra Pradesh, it is located  on the centre-south stretch on  high Deccan Plateau. It is the twelfth largest state and the twelfth-most populated state in India.  On 2 June 2014, the area was separated from the northwestern part of Andhra Pradesh as the newly formed 29th  state with Hyderabad as its historic permanent capital. Its other major cities include Warangal, Nizamabad, Khammam and Karimnagar. Telangana is bordered by the states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Andhra.

It has a long and chequered history – the  Telangana Rebellion was a peasant revolt, tumulted in 1946 by communists.  It originated in the Nalgonda district raised to be  against the feudal landlords and later against the Nizam Osman Ali Khan. The violent phase of the movement ended after the Government of India's Operation Polo. Later in 1951, the CPI shifted to a more moderate strategy of seeking to bring communism to India within the framework of Indian democracy. On 30 July 2013, the Congress Working Committee unanimously passed a resolution to recommend the formation of a separate Telangana state. After various stages the bill was placed in the Parliament of India in February 2014.  In February 2014, Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 bill was passed by the Parliament of India for the formation of Telangana state comprising ten districts from north-western Andhra Pradesh.

The state of Telangana was officially formed on 2 June 2014. Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao was elected as the first chief minister of Telangana, following elections in which the Telangana Rashtra Samithi party secured majority. Hyderabad  continued  as the joint capital of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for a period, not more than 10 years; however, Andhra Pradesh selected Amaravati as capital and moved its legislature by Mar 2017.   Now Telangana is in news for elections !

Esa Bin Obaid Misri probably has little trouble punching above his weight. Indeed, the award-winning bodybuilder remembers how he knocked out a wrestler twice his age and size when he was around 20.  He has vowed to defeat Akbaruddin Owaisi, the Telanagna state lawmaker representing Chandrayanagutta in Hyderabad.  Misri, 49, has spent his life wrestling and pumping iron, and next month's election will mark his debut in politics.  Esa Misri runs a gym, has Yemeni roots and is contesting  on a Congress ticket.  Sources said the Congress chose him since Chandrayanagutta is known for its cultural and historic connections with Arabic nations !! – nothing strange !!! Telangana Legislative Assembly is the lower house of the Telangana Legislature. The Legislative Assembly of Telangana currently consists of 119 elected members and 1 nominated member from the Anglo-Indian community.

Elections for the Telangana Legislative Assembly is scheduled to be held on 7 December 2018 to constitute the second Legislative Assembly. Incumbent CM   Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao went for early elections in 2018, by resigning  six months before the completion of his term.  TRS chief and Telangana’s first chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR) is a wealthy farmer with assets worth ₹22 crore. But, according to an affidavit filed with his nomination papers, he doesn’t own a car. Ironically, his party’s symbol is a car.

Four years ago, when he contested Telangana’s first election in 2014, KCR had said he didn’t own a car. On taking office in 2014, he had changed the colour of three of the six cars in his official convoy from black to white, apparently after consulting an astrologer. In 2015, his government added four new Toyota Land Cruiser Prados to his convoy. The cost was estimated at nearly ₹1 crore, which included bullet-proofing of the vehicles. Rao, who filed his nomination from Gajwel on Wednesday, listed his profession as ‘agriculturalist’ and declared a net income of ₹91.5 lakh annually. Despite this, he has told the Election Commission that he owes his son KT Rama Rao ₹84 lakh, and his daughter-in-law K Shailima ₹24 lakh. While filing his nomination papers in 2014, KCR had declared himself to be a businessman and a farmer. He has now chosen to give up the ‘businessman’ tag. He’s among the very few prominent politicians in the country without either a Facebook or Twitter account.

The chief minister has mentioned that he has invested ₹3.2 crore in his farm and the total value of the farmhouse is ₹6.5 crore. He had bought it for ₹1.3 crore. He had 37 acres in 2014 when he became chief minister after the Telangana agitation. Today, it has grown to 54 acres. His total assets were ₹15 crore four years ago and have now increased to ₹22 crore. KCR hasn’t taken loans from banks, but  has unsecured loans from Prathima Group chairman Boniapally Srinivasa Rao who is close to the KCR clan. The chief minister has also taken loans from Pact Securities and Financials Services, a company promoted Boinapally Srinivas Rao’s wife Boinapally Usharani. He has also borrowed from TRS MP G Vivekanand. KCR has investments in companies that run a TV channel and a newspaper. He owns gold jewellery worth ₹2.4 lakh, while his wife has diamonds and gold worth ₹93 lakh.

KCR is facing 63 criminal cases across Telangana, most registered by the government railway police during the Telangana agitation. In his affidavit, he said that as the summons have not been issued, he is not aware of case numbers and the jurisdiction of the courts. Most of the cases relate to criminal conspiracy, rioting, disobeying orders promulgated by public servant, unlawful assembly, Prevention of Damage to Public Properties Act, criminal trespass and violation of Indian Railways Act.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Nov 2018
PS 1:  collated from various sources including Wikipedia, Firstpost, Times of India & Indian Express.
2.  :  Mullath Kadingi Vellodi CIE, ICS was the first CM though not an elected one.  He  was appointed by Govt of India after the fall of the Hyderabad state ruled by Nizam rule. A member of the Indian Civil Service, he was Textile Commissioner and ex-officio Joint Secretary in the Department of Industries and Civil Supplies during the British Raj. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in the 1944 Birthday Honours list.