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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Remembering the supreme sacrifice of Veera Vanchinathan, 108 years ago !

The debates after celebrating ‘Quit India movement’ –  brought to fore – what we should be learning in Schools as History and whom we should  rever ? – the freedom at midnight was gotten not free or easily but due to sacrifices of those martyrs who underwent untold sufferings and yet remained without ever getting in the limelight.  The Nation should be learning the lives of such great people.  The name District Collector evokes awe even among the senior officers. The person on the street looks at the post as a saviour and the administration is diffident in the presence of the Collector. The post was created on May 14, 1772 by the East India Company.  Up to 1853, the Directors of the British East India Company made appointments of covenanted civil servants by nominations. This nomination system was abolished in 1861 by the Parliament in England and it was decided that the induction would be through competitive examinations of all British subjects, without distinction of race.

A century and a decade ago, a man made a speech at Thai Poosa Mantapam in the bed of river Thamirabarani at Tirunelveli [on the night of 9th March 1907] and was convicted under sections 124A & 153A of Indian Penal Code by the Bench consisting of CA White & Miller.   After that speech in 1908, he was arrested on charges of sedition. Mahakavi Bharathiyar and Subramanya Siva appeared in the Court in the case and VOC was sentenced to double life imprisonment tantamount to 40 years ad confined to prison. He was treated badly as a convict and subjected to inhuman torture. 

The report of the sedition commission introduces “  Republican or Parliamentary forms of government, as at present understood, were neither desired nor known in India till after the establishment of British rule”.  Infamous words of the President of Sedition Committee who was later was viewed synonymous with cruelty - the Hon'ble Mr. Justice S. A. T. Rowlatt. 

As you travel down south and as the train winds its way to a small station – perhaps you might get down to free your legs, take a stroll or enjoy a cup of tea – unlikely that you will bow down to touch the land ! – after Madurai, it would be Virudunagar, Sattur, Kovilpatti and 624 km away from Chennai Egmore it is Maniyachi station – now named ‘Vanchi Maniyachi Junction’. 108 years ago, at 10.30 in the morning pistol sounded – there was commotion as the only killing of British Official in South India occurred – few minutes later – there were sounds of pistol again – this time the martyrdom of a youth – hardly 25 years of age did the supreme sacrifice of his life for the motherland. 

This is not to eulogise the killing but the martyrdom needs to be extolled. Inspired by the Surat Congress in Dec 1907 the man who pioneered shipping – VO Chidambaram Pillai organised political meetings in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli.  There were fiery speeches by Subramania Siva.  The Freedom struggle spread and on Feb 1908, around 1000 workers struck work in the Coral Mills of Tuticorin.  The collector Robert William Escourt Ashe had imposed restriction by Sec 144 and the union of workers was not to his liking.  When the patriotic leaders planned to celebrate release of Bipin Chanda Pal as Swarajya day – violence was unleashed by the Dist Admn.  VOC, Siva, Padmanabha Iyengar were arested in Mar 1908. There were riots in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli termed as incendiarism.    Perhaps all these made Ashe.  The downfall of the VOC’s Swadeshi Steam Navigation Company was also linked to Ashe. 

Robert Ashe had been born in 1872 in Ireland.  In 1895, he arrived in India, where he began his career as an Assistant Collector and rose up to be District Magistrate and Collector.   In 1907 he had his posting in Tirunelveli.  For two months he officiated at Tuticorin during which period much occurred.   A few years later, on 17th June 1911 -  Ashe was travelling along with his wife Mary Lillian Patterson.  At 10.38 the train halted at small Maniyachi, a neatly dressed man with tufted hair alongwith another in a dhoti approached the carriage and shot Ashe on the chest from point blank range with a belgian made pistol.  The assailant ran towards the latrine and shot himself in the mouth.  He belonged to Bharatha Matha Association.

---- and that Man  of unflinching courage was Vanchinathan.  He was  born in 1886 to Raghupathy Iyer and Rukmani Ammal. His actual name was Shankaran. He did his schooling in Shenkottai and graduated in M.A. from Moolam Thirunal Maharaja College in Thiruvananthapuram. Even while in college, he married Ponnammal and got into a lucrative Government job. After Vanchi shot Ashe and himself, a letter was recovered which purportedly indicated that the murder was political and caused great apprehension. The timing of the assassination indicated a protest against the impending coronation.  A massive manhunt followed the assassination.  Sadly, it was reported that even his last rites were not performed.  14 persons were arrested and charged with conspiracy.  More deaths were to follow as two committed suicide - Dharmaraja Aiyar took poison, while Venkateswara Aiyar slit his own throat. Madasamy, widely believed to be Vanchi's accomplice and who was seen running away after the assassination, was never traced.

In a Court of Justice in the colonial context there were testimony of approvers who perhaps were threatened and there was panic amongst the freedom fighters as they feared strict action.  What happened to the family of Veera Vanchinathan is not documented but there cannot be any doubt that his lineage would have suffered chill penury and were left uncared for – they would have been hounded by the British and after India obtained freedom, nobody ever cared for them.  Indians exhibited their loyalty immediately after the killing by erecting two memorials – one at the place where Ashe was interred and another  a mantap at Great Cotton Road in Tuticorin - the subscription of Rs.3002/- being raised from the Indians !!. 

The life history of the Great Patriot Vanchinathan is not found in any great detail  in the history books and not many remember him.  In his birthplace Sengottai [Shencottah] in the foothills of Western Ghats closer to Tenkasi / Courtallam, a statue was erected during the regime of CM MGR.  In the movie Kappalottiya Tamizhan, Actor Balaji played the role of Vanchinathan.

With tears thinking of the Great son of India
-           S. Sampathkumar. 

  • In Nov 1908 before the Bench of CA White & Miller came up the appeal filed by patriot V.O. Chidambaram Pillai who was the  accused in Calendar Case No. 1 of 1908 on the file of the Additional Sessions Judge of Tinnevelly.  The offences  convicted were three offences of abetment of the uttering of seditious words.   Mr Sadagopachariyar pleaded on his behalf.  At Tuticorin, Subramania Siva made a speech in which in plain language he put before his audience the goal to which they should aspire, the overthrowing of the British supremacy and the liberation of India from a foreign yoke.  He was the prime accused.  The bench however felt that V.O. Chidambaram Pillai was therefore rightly convicted and that the law was vindicated by a sentence of 6 (six) years' transportation.
  • Satyendranath Tagore [1842 – 1923) was the first Indian to join the Indian Civil Service and become a Collector. He was the second eldest brother of Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel laureate  in Literature.

India - Pakistan encounter at Old Trafford 2019

What the weather is going to be like in Manchester during the marquee India vs Pakistan clash at the World Cup has been one of the biggest talking points in the build-up to the game ! Of the 12 editions of World Cup – India and Pak did not play each other in 1975, 1979, 1983, 1987 & 2007 .. .. they met in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2011 & 2015 – with identical results – in every game (other than 2003) India batted first, amassed runs and beat Pakis easily.  In 2003, Pak batted first but was beaten badly .. ..

It has been a wet campaign this time -  with several matches at the tournament already rained out, fans of both teams would be hoping that the match remains unaffected by rain.   Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar  said ECB’s lack of preparation for rain is “totally unacceptable” and ICC should punish the hosts if the much-anticipated India vs Pakistan World Cup match in Manchester is washed out on Sunday.  Three matches so far have been abandoned without a ball being a bowled, including India’s last match against New Zealand, while one game had no result, the most in any World Cup so far and there are predictions that rain may play spoilsport again at Old Trafford on Sunday.

If one were to ask – ‘what will happen if today’s match is washed out ?’ – I would say – nothing, sky would not exactly come crashing down ! – it is a match, I have been advocating that India should boycott playing against hostile Nation, which has openly incited terrorism against the Nation.  That way, today, I would not post anything on today’s match !!

Sky came not crash but Star could fall !!  .. .. Star India -- the official broadcaster of the ICC Cricket World Cup --  is fearing  huge losses on the advertising front due to these washouts. If the India-Pakistan match is hit by the bad weather, the loss will escalate.  Advertisers who have spent significant amount of money for campaigns and advertisements during Cricket’s flagship event, are now looking at a no-show for a lot of matches. This is costing them as the advertising rates for the ongoing World Cup matches were as high as Rs 15-20 lakh for a 10 second slot.  Money Control reports that sponsorship package for matches during the World Cup costs around Rs 40 crore on television and Rs 15 crore on digital. For India-Pakistan match, the advertising rates went up to Rs 22 lakh for a 10-second slot. The match is expected to generate over Rs 120 crore. With such investments riding on World Cup matches, advertisers are unhappy with the way things have been arranged. A better management or scheduling of the tournament in July are few suggestions by the disappointed brands.

If reserve days come into play, the World Cup will get extended for another month, which would lead to a logistical nightmare. Accommodation, travel expenses, venue availability and broadcast logistics, everything will go for a toss. However, most importantly, cricket fans will lose out the most as they have been traveling to watch their favourite teams and players play.  Anyway, ECB should have known their weather conditions and should have planned better !!

Must we succumb to building this game up beyond the point of hyperbole?  Indo-Pak encounters despite hypes ‘maukha, mocha – and the Cup’ – have always been one-sided in favour of India.  Apart from the hyped rivalry there is not much at stake.   Still this is the most  anticipated game of the tournament when the fixtures were announced  Steve Elworthy revealing that the ICC had had 400,000 applications for tickets, and that they "could have packed out Wembley four times over"  ~ and that is the reason this is held on a Sunday while the hosts played on Saturday.

Lancashire County Cricket Club was founded  in 1864 as a successor to Manchester Cricket Club, Lancashire have played at Old Trafford since then and, in 1865, played their inaugural first-class match, beating Middlesex at Old Trafford. Cyril Washbrook became Lancashire’s first professional captain in 1954.  Our own Farokh Engineer, the flamboyant keeper and opener played alongside Clive Lloyd between 1968-76.  Years later, the left-arm spinner Murali Karthik too played for this club.  The immediate reference of modern times of this place would of course be – ‘Manchester United Football Club’ the professional football club, based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester; founded in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR Football Club and changed name to Manchester United in 1902.

Old Trafford is England's second oldest test venue and one of the most renowned. It was the venue for the first ever Ashes test to be held in England in July 1884 and has hosted two Cricket World Cup semi-finals. In 1956, the first 10-wicket haul in a single innings was achieved by England bowler Jim Laker who achieved bowling figures of 19 wickets for 90 run.  It was here in the 1983 Semis, England were tied by the bowling of Kirti Azad and Mohinder whose 24 overs cost only 55 runs.  It was at Manchester in 1982 that Sandeep Patil famously moved from 80 to 104 in a single over of Bob Willis (6 fours struck in that 7 ball over !)  The ground is in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester situate in North West England, comprising ten metropolitan boroughs that include the cities of Manchester and Salford. It is landlocked and borders Cheshire; Derbyshire; Yorkshire and Merseyside.   

This place attracted industrialisation in the 19th century when the region flourished as the global centre of the cotton industry. The recorded history of Manchester began with the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium.  Manchester's unplanned urbanisation was brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution; the building of the Bridgewater Canal in 1761 built to transport coal triggered an early-19th-century factory building boom which transformed Manchester from a township into a major mill town. Manchester's fortunes decreased after the Second World War; however investment spurred by the 1996 Manchester bombing led to extensive regeneration, particularly in the city centre. Manchester was the site of the world's first railway station and is where scientists first split the atom, and developed the first stored-program computer. Cottonopolis denotes a metropolis centred on cotton trading servicing the cotton mills in its hinterland. It was inspired by Manchester which has become a sobriquet applied solely to the city of Manchester. Have read that Matka gambling flourished in India – a wager  on random numbers and that was on closing /opening prices of wholesale cotton traded on Bombay Cotton Exchange……  

Here is something on Indo-Pak World Cup encounters starting from the lastest one !
In 2015 at Adelaide,  India 300 for 7 (Kohli 107, Raina 74, Dhawan 73, Sohail 5-55) beat Pakistan224 (Misbah 76, Shehzad 47, Shami 4-35) by 76 runs.   A Virat Kohlihundred and supporting hands from Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina lifted India to 300 for 7, and the task of claiming victory proved beyond Pakistan for the sixth time out of six in this most intense of World Cup fixtures.

In 2011, India played Pak at Chandigarh – when Nation came to a screeching halt !  - that win enabled India move onto Semis at Mohali.  Sachin played a sedate knock to take India to 260 which was good enough for a comfortable win.   India 260 for 9 (Tendulkar 85, Riaz 5-46) beat Pakistan 231 (Misbah 56) by 29 runs.  In 2007 at West Indies, both the teams crashed out at the first round rather unceremoniously.  In 2003 at Centurion, Pak set up a big score aided by a ton by Saeed Anwar  and came the grand opening partnership of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar and some solid batting in the middle.   In Jun 1999 at the same venue, Manchester,  Venkatesh Prasad shone with the ball.  India made 227/6 – Rahul Dravid & Azharuddin making half centuries.  Prasad took 5/27.  In 1996 at Bengaluru, remembered for Aamer Sohail, Prasad showdown – India batting first made 287/8 – Sidhu made 93 while Ajay Jadeja breezed with 45 off 25 belting all Paki bowlers.   Pak culd muster only 248.  In that  high voltage game, when Wasim Akram pulled out there was criticism. 

In 1992 Sydney, India won – but fared not so well in the cup, while Pakis despite initial losses, somehow qualified and went to win the cup.  India made 216/7 with Ajay Jadeja 46 & Sachin Tendulkar 54 – India bundled Pakis for 173.  So another match, another win for India, if rains allows game.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
16th June 2019.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Bhutan PM raises salaries of teachers, doctors and nurses .. ..

Just saw Rajnikant in ‘Kuselan’ ~ in the climax the hero Ashok Kumar (Rajni) speaks highly of School teachers and of classmates .. .. do you remember / recall the names of your elementary school teachers ? – when was the last time, you interacted with a teacher in a school ! .. .. and do you earn more than a teacher ??

The 12th year of our Education centre – SYMA Growth commenced with a pooja on 12.6.2019 – this centre provides quality educational support to under-privileged children [around 120 students of X & +2 at Triplicane].  This centre provides ample opportunity to be in the midst of students of economically backward and to talk to dedicated teaching staff at the centre.. ..

The subject matter of the post is a Prime Minister of our neighbouring country – a real multi-tasking master – not sure whether you would have identified this footballer or the surgeon at the operating table to be the present Prime Minister !

In the 18th century, the Bhutanese invaded and occupied the kingdom of Koch Bihar. In 1772, the Maharaja of Koch Bihar appealed to the British East India Company which assisted by ousting the Bhutanese and later in attacking Bhutan itself in 1774. A peace treaty was signed in which Bhutan agreed to retreat to its pre-1730 borders. However, the peace was tenuous, and border skirmishes with the British were to continue for the next hundred years. The skirmishes eventually led to the Duar War (1864–65), a confrontation for control of the Bengal Duars. After Bhutan lost the war, the Treaty of Sinchula was signed between British India and Bhutan. As part of the war reparations, the Duars were ceded to the United Kingdom in exchange for a rent of Rs. 50,000. The treaty ended all hostilities between British India and Bhutan.

Bhutan is a landlocked country, located in the Eastern Himalayas,  bordered by the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, Sikkim, Chumbi valleu, States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal.    Thimphu is its capital and largest city.  The independence of Bhutan has endured for centuries and it has never been colonized in its history. Situated on the ancient Silk Road between Tibet, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, the Bhutanese state developed a distinct national identity based on Buddhism. Headed by a spiritual leader known as the Zhabdrung Rinpoche, the territory was composed of many fiefdoms and governed as a Buddhist theocracy.  The country's landscape ranges from lush subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan mountains in the north, where there are peaks in excess of 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Gangkhar Puensum is the highest peak in Bhutan.

In South Asia, Bhutan ranks first in economic freedom, ease of doing business, and peace; and is the least corrupt country as of 2016. However, Bhutan continues to be a least developed country. Bhutan is also notable for pioneering the concept of gross national happiness.

Lotay Tshering , the current Prime Minister is unique, he is a Doctor, who spends his weekends at an operating table and tending to patients. Dr Lotay Tshering was one of Bhutan’s most highly regarded doctors before he entered politics and while his prime ministerial duties occupy him during the week, on weekends he returns to the hospital as a way to let off steam. “Some people play golf, some do archery, and I like to operate,” Tshering said as he tended to patients one Saturday morning at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck national referral hospital, describing his moonlighting medical work as a “de-stresser”.

After a first failed election attempt in 2013, Tshering was voted in as prime minister of Bhutan in November 2018. He is the third democratic leader since the country.   He is in news for good reasons !! .. .. .. In a move earning it praise, Bhutan has announced that salaries of teachers, doctors, nurses, and all medical staff will be hiked to make them the highest paid civil servants in the country, The Bhutanese reported. The cabinet decision was taken on June 5. Terming the announcement a “huge strategical move”, the news portal stated that the announcement has overturned the present hierarchy in which unofficial civil service administrators enjoyed various perks including training and trips.

Explaining the improved pay scale, the report states: “The numbers of teachers involved in the hike are huge as there are 8,679 teachers, followed by the medical staff who number around 4,000”. A press release issued by the Bhutanese Prime Minister’s Office stated: “If the pay revision comes through as proposed by the government, teaching becomes the highest paid profession in the country.” The reason for the pay revision, The Bhutanese reports, could be higher stress levels and longer working hours in both medical as well as teaching profession  In a revolutionary move, Education and Health have been given a top spot by the Bhutan Cabinet in a recent pay revision meeting.

As per the new salary hike, teachers with zero to 10 years of experience have been given a 35 per cent professional allowance, whereas a teacher with 10 to 20 years of experience has been given a 45 per cent allowance and 55 per cent has been given to teachers with experience above 20 years. In addition, as per a Bhutan Professional Standards, 10 per cent allowance is given to a proficient teacher, 15 per cent for an accomplished teacher and 20 per cent for a distinguished teacher, the report said. As far as medical staff are concerned, “MBBS doctors get a 45 per cent professional allowance while specialists get between 55 to 60 per cent. Nurses and clinical staff start at 35 per cent for 10 years and go to 45 per cent for above 10 to 20 years and then hit 55 per cent for above 20 years.”

Really laudable attempt ~  respect thy teachers.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th June 2019.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Rishab Pant flying ! ~ what is Contingency planning !!

Most people plan ~ some over do ! ~ there should always be a plan B – a viable alternative. … once I missed Tirupathi Express by a few minutes – took an auto, reached REnigunta where train would stop for 20 odd minutes – could conveniently catch the train to Chennai ! – the  Contingency   plan may not work all the time..In philosophy and logic, contingency is the status of propositions that are neither true under every possible valuation (i.e. tautologies) nor false under every possible valuation (i.e. contradictions). A contingent proposition is neither necessarily true nor necessarily false. .. .. .. difficult to fathom !!

Contingency (noun) would mean a future event or circumstance which is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty.A contingency plan is a plan devised for an outcome other than in the usual (expected) plan. It is often used for risk management for an exceptional risk that, though unlikely, would have catastrophic consequences. Contingency plans are often devised by Govt, business houses and other planners.  During times of crisis, contingency plans are often developed to explore and prepare for any eventuality. The World could come crashing down for any Company if the Computer server that has all information crashes ~ for this they would have a back up server.  I know of a company operating in Chennai having back-up servers in Bangalore and in Singapore – not sure whether there are cloud solutions for this magnitude too.

Rishabh Pant will fly in this week to join the Indian squad as a cover for Shikhar Dhawan, who suffered a hairline fracture after being hit on the left thumb against Australia on Sunday. Pant was one of the standbys announced by the selectors in April, while announcing the 15-man squad for the World Cup.The selectors have worked out that KL Rahul can perform Dhawan's role should he fail to recover, which is the rationale behind choosing Pant, a middle-order batsman, as cover. Rahul was originally picked as the third opener in the squad, but sneaked into the XI last minute as No. 4.

Dhawan is also currently India's only specialist left-hand batsman in the squad, and he disrupted Australia's bowling plans during his century earlier this week, negating legspinner Adam Zampa. This purported advantage against legspin in the middle overs is another significant reason the selectors have opted for the left-handed Pant.At a media briefing at Trent Bridge on Wednesday*, India' assistant coach Sanjay Bangar hinted that Dhawan would sit out of the next three to four matches. Bangar agreed that having a left-hand batsman in the top order was always an advantage and that is something India would need to just cope with until Dhawan is declared fit.He said that Dhawan is a "precious player" and hence the team management decided to not to rule him out straightaway.

Bangar said it was only appropriate to get Pant to be with the squad immediately. "The thing is around 10 or 12 days, we'll be taking a call on the status of Shikhar. Until that point, just to make sure that if and when the replacement is required - and I'm saying if and when - then it is always good to have the replacement player coming in and practising with the team, as a standby."Pant has played five ODIs since his debut against West Indies in October last year and averages 23.25, and he was part of India's squad during their home series against Australia this year. But Dinesh Karthik's experience and wicketkeeping had edged him ahead of Pant when the World Cup squad was named.

Now read this interesting article from TOI where the contingent plan went awry ! -  a Chennai-Ahmedabad GoAir flight (G8911) scheduled to depart at 6.55am on Thursday was delayed by more than four hours after one of the pilots did not turn up for duty.

Passengers had a tough time as they had to wait inside the plane, which was on a parking bay far away from the terminal, till the airline managed to summon a replacement for the crew. The flight finally left at10.30am.The passengers boarded plane on time using shuttle buses. But the plane did not leave well past the departure time.“Around 7.15am, they announced that there would be a delay. After sometime, the cabin crew said the flight would depart after one and a half hours. When we insisted, they said that first officer did not turn up for duty,” said K Suganthan, a passenger, who boarded the plane.

A few passengers wanted to get off the plane and return, but the crew discouraged them saying that they might not be able to leave the terminal till the plane took off and that they would arrange a replacement for the absent pilot when a flight from Mumbai landed.“I managed to return to the terminal because I told them there was no point in flying because I had a return flight the same evening. An official said that they tried to arrange another pilot but failed as they were not reachable,” Suganthan said.

Airlines usually keep one pilot on standby if a crew member scheduled for duty is not able to do the work. However, in this case, the airline could not arrange a pilot immediately.GoAir, in a statement, said, “GoAir flight G8 911 from Chennai to Ahmedabad was delayed as the first officer did not join for duty due to health exigencies. GoAir arranged for a pilot and the flight took off at 10.30am with 177 passengers on board.”

People chose to fly by air because it is lot convenient and more importantly, saves time in a big way !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th June 2019.

Elephant story ! ~ baby born at Belgium Zoo

Brugelette is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut.  The Battle of Jemappes (6 Nov 1792) took place near the town of Jemappes in Hainaut, Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium), near Mons during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. One of the first major offensive battles of the war, it was a victory for the armies of the infant French Republic, and saw the French Armée du Nord, which included a large number of inexperienced volunteers, defeat a substantially smaller regular Austrian army.

General Charles François Dumouriez, in command of an army of French Revolutionary volunteers, faced the Imperial army of Field Marshal Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen and his second-in-command François de Croix, Count of Clerfayt. The French, who outnumbered their opponents by about three-to-one, launched a series of enthusiastic but uncoordinated attacks against the Austrian position on a ridge. At length, the French seized a portion of the ridge and the Austrians were unable to drive them away. Saxe-Teschen conceded defeat by ordering a withdrawal.  Jemappes was won by costly but effective charges against the Austrians' prepared position. Dumouriez overran the Austrian Netherlands within a month, but lost it at the Battle of Neerwinden in March. The French would not reconquer the Austrian Netherlands until the summer of 1794.

I love elephants ~ and recently I had posted on the  newly-built water shower for  Akila,  17-year-old female elephant at the Thiruvanaikoil Arulmigu Jambukeswarar Akhilandeswari temple,  to beat the heat as the temperature soars beyond a threshold in city. The female elephant, which required frequent bathing to beat the heat, now would be able to keep itself cool and active with the water shower, the authorities said. The shower, costing 1 lakh, was gifted to the temple by a Chennai-based donor to celebrate the elephants birthday, which falls this month.

Every now and then, we happen to see campaigns in various modes – spearheaded by foreigners, calling people and funds to save elephants - they would try to portray that in India, elephants are treated cruelly, being tortured and are suffering .. .. go to Kerala – in Temples if you have time to spend – you can realise the bond that exists between humans and the pachyderm and the way they are treated not with care but with affection.

The potential disruption to trade in services from Brexit could pose a far greater threat to the UK and EU economies than restrictions around the movement of goods, according to new research from the Dublin-based Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA).The study - entitled “The Elephant in the Room” - argues that while much of the debate around the implications of Brexit has centred on the free movement of goods, there has been comparatively little focus on the issue of services, which makes up nearly three quarters of the UK’s economic output, and about 70 per cent of the EU’s economic activity.

Miles away, Animal park PairiDaiza in Brugelette in Hainaut province this weekend welcomed a new arrival, with the birth of a baby elephant. The baby is the fourth to be born in the park, and the fourth offspring of 16-year-old mother Farina, whose first two calves were born while she was at Hannover Zoo in Germany.

The father is 18-year-old Po Chin, who has been at PairiDaiza since 2010, and who has already sired two calves there – Ta Wan in 2017 and Malee in February this year.The new female, who is yet to be named, is the second calf to be born this year. The zoo said she was in good health, surrounded by her mother and a team of zoo workers. The elephants at the park are Indian elephants, making up a herd 20-strong, the largest herd of Indian elephants in Europe.

The Indian elephant is one of three types of Asian elephant, all of which are generally smaller than their African cousins, standing up to 3.5m at the shoulder and weighing up to 5 tonnes. The female is smaller than the male, and has short tusks or none at all. Perhaps the most recognisable feature of the Indian variety is their noticeably smaller ears.The Indian elephant has been listed as endangered since 1986, because of a loss of habitat, environmental deterioration and the fragmentation of wild populations. It is now extinct in Pakistan, but there are populations mainly in India, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.

“We’ve had a lot of luck,” said head elephant keeper Rob Conachie. “This is the third female out of four births here. It’s a step forward in the protection of this species. There are only 38,000 of these wonderful creatures left on the planet, so every birth, especially of a female, is of huge importance.”

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th June 2019
Reference on zoo elephant : / photo :

rain abandons play exposing poor planning ECB

"Rain Rain Go Away" is a popular English language nursery rhyme.  There is a short story in the same name too,  by American writer Isaac Asimov. A fantasy rather than a science fiction story, it was based on an idea by Bob Mills, editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, but rejected by him. It was instead published in the September 1959 issue of Fantastic Universe and reprinted in the 1975 collection Buy Jupiter and Other Stories.

The story concerns a seemingly perfect family, the Sakkaros, who become neighbours of another family, the Wrights. The Wrights are puzzled at the great lengths the Sakkaros go to avoid any contact with water !  .. .. in climax,  the downpour happens and the Sakkaros are hit by the rain, causing the faces to blur and their bodies to dissolve, leaving only their clothes and sticky heaps. Mrs. Wright is unable to stop her sentence "...made of sugar and afraid they would melt".  [any connection of Tamil sakkarai with Sakkaros !]

Cricket World Cup 2019 was to have a match between India and New Zealand and some wrote that with both the teams unbeaten, there must be a loser ! – not to be .. the  tournament had its third abandoned match as India-New Zealand fixture was called off without even a toss.  One point each, New Zealand stay on top, India edge ahead of England to third spot. Australia stay second. This now means Afghanistan, England and Australia are the only three sides to escape rain results this World Cup.   It was a record-breaking week at the World Cup..  .. .. for the rain. With as many as four abandonments, it seems like the rain has gathered more points than any other team in the competition.  The World Cup washouts have been frustrating for fans across the planet, and for the teams who feel they have missed out on outright victories. But they have been especially tough on those who have traveled to watch the game.

TOI has an article blaming the Organisers for not even having rain cover - “What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in England? Get yourself some rain cover. That’s common sense. Why can’t the same be for the grounds? Trent Bridge has a great hovercraft. The squares are covered. The drainage is great. Why don’t they have full ground covers?” a major stakeholder in this ICC World Cup, angry that the match between India and New Zealand couldn’t begin, told TOI. A senior cricket executive pointed out, “How much does a ground cover cost? Ask the BCCI because they bought a few of those ahead of the World T20 in March 2016. It wasn’t the monsoon season in India at the time but they still spent that money – around one crore per cover, I think. The India versus Pakistan match at Eden Gardens could take place only because there were full ground covers.”

The England Cricket Board (ECB) has clearly not been short of funds. Former BCCI president and now a member of parliament, Anurag Thakur, said that the budget allotted to ECB for hosting this 2019 World Cup has been three times higher than what India received for hosting the 2016 World T20. “I had taken this up with the ICC in the 2015 ICC board meeting in Barbados,” Thakur recalled. Sources said ECB had asked for an increased budget because they wanted to buy office space in London to work on the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy and the 2019 ICC World Cup. “Renting in central London would’ve been a costlier proposition. ICC approved the budget even as BCCI argued against it. At three times the budget, they couldn’t invest in rain covers?” said the source.

Squabbling over rain forcing no-shows doesn’t end here. There are those who blame the scheduling of the World Cup, which they say has to do a lot more with the 2019 Ashes series that begin in the first week of August. “June and July are the tricky months in England. That is why, every marquee home series in England begins after mid-July. Look at India’s tour of England last year. The one-dayers began on July 12 and the Tests were scheduled straight in August. That’s because it helps the ECB broadcaster. Even the World T20 in Australia next year is a risk.

It’s scheduled in October. Australia’s best four cricketing months are November onwards. But that’s reserved for their home series,” added the sources. Scheduling aside, England is in a mess right now because of traveling spectators who had invested in this trip months in advance.

Here is some rain rule .. at group stages, when match is abandoned, teams get split points.  If a Semi-Final is tied, the teams shall compete in a Super Over to determine which team progresses to the Final. If following a tie, weather conditions prevent the Super Over from being completed, or if the match is abandoned or a no result at the end of the reserve day, then the team which proceeds to the Final will be the team that finished in the higher position in the League Stage. In the event of a tied final, the teams shall compete in a Super Over to determine which team is the winner.  If following a tie, weather conditions prevent the Super Over from being completed, or if the match is abandoned or a no result at the end of the reserve day, the teams shall be declared joint winners.

Cricinfo has this interesting one – on what Srilankan Board does .. ..  driven, of course, by the desire to deliver a bankable broadcast product (the only whip that reliably animates administrators), SLC has taken stock of its challenges. Teams are generally unwilling to tour the island in its driest months, largely due to clashes with the Southern Hemisphere summer. As such Sri Lanka are forced to schedule tours from June through September, when there are frequent downpours. Worse, with sides such as England, who have their own home season through the middle of the year, SLC must occasionally host them in October and November, which is the domain of the northeastern monsoon. And yet, SLC has counteracted these scheduling misfortunes with a singularly effective strategy: they cover the whole ground.

No full tour of Sri Lanka goes by without a rain interruption, and to watch Sri Lanka's groundstaff - the fastest in the world - in action, is practically its own form of entertainment. The pitch is first covered by a rubberised tarpaulin, before two more are heaped on top of that, a team of over 100 working in unison to ensure less than a minute's worth of rain falls on the square. Once the centre is protected, the staff break into separate crews, a supervisor calling out instructions, and the remainder of the playing area is enveloped before 10 further minutes, at most. So well-drilled are these enormous teams, and so efficient, that at times you suspect, they surpass North Korean military shows for precision and spectacle. The clear advantage that covering the entire playing area yields over, say, merely having good drainage, is the speed with which a ground can be readied the moment rain stops. Within an hour, play has often resumed. Can the same be said for serious rain interruptions virtually anywhere else? The square and the bowlers' run-ups might require little work, but the vast areas of the ground that remain uncovered in England require substantial going-over with super soppers, plus additional drying with a rope.

The obvious caveat to all this, of course, is that labour is relatively cheap on the island. More to the point, perhaps, masses of young Sri Lankans can more easily be convinced to spend several days pulling covers, if for no other reason than they are keen to watch the cricket while the sun does shine. Hiring a hundred casual staff for match days plus rehearsals may be impractical in nations such as England. But covering the entire ground need not be. A few new tractors, a pile of fresh covers, and perhaps just a handful of additional staff - all this is feasible. It is not as if either the ECB or the ICC can claim to be hard up for cash.

Or should Cricket be played in indoor stadiums or ones with roofing over – the retractable ones ! ..  the roof at Wembley is partially-retractable and can be moved - but doesn't cover the pitch. It sits 52 metres above the playing surface and can move forwards and backwards, enough to cover the seating behind each goal. The design team wanted maximum sunlight to enter the ground and the roof is never adjusted whilst spectators are in the stadium. The closed nature of the stadium means that it is not illuminated by traditional light towers. Instead, the lights are spread out in a rectangle along the framework that holds the roof. There are fewer lights at both ends in line with the wicket, so as to not be in the batters line of sight.

The Etihad stadium has a roof .. .. .. Mike Hussey became the first player to hit a ball into the roof, a full 120 feet above the ground, back in 2005. It was in an Australia versus World XI exhibition game, and the ball was called a dead ball, much to Hussey’s displeasure. The rule was modified in the 2012 BBL, to allow the batter six runs if the ball hit the framework of the roof outside the boundary.

England needs to plan the World Cup ~ fans do not pay for seeing rain, though rains are the most wanted one here in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and many parts of India.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th June 2019.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

two tankers attacked in strait of Harmuz

The Strait of Hormuz  is a strait between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. It is the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and is one of the world's most strategically important choke points. On the north coast is Iran, and on the south coast is the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman.   Considered as a choke point – some trouble does garner global attention.  Here, to reduce the risk of collision, ships moving through the Strait follow a Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS): inbound ships use one lane, outbound ships another, each lane being two miles wide. The lanes are separated by a two-mile-wide "median".    Twenty percent of oil traded worldwide moves by tanker through the Strait of Hormuz.

File photo of tanker pic credit –
The Fifth Fleet is a numbered fleet of the United States Navy. It has been responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean since 1995 after a 48-year hiatus. Established in 1944, the Fifth Fleet conducted extensive operations against Japanese forces in the Central Pacific during World War II. World War II ended in 1945, and the Fifth Fleet was deactivated in 1947. It remained inactive until 1995, when it was reactivated and assumed its current responsibilities.   The ships of the Fifth Fleet also formed the basis of the Third Fleet, which was the designation of the "Big Blue Fleet".  Under Admiral Spruance, the Fifth Fleet was by June 1944 the largest combat fleet in the world, with 535 warships.

The prospects of a showdown between the U.S., its Arab allies on one hand, and Iran on the other, have spiked since the Trump administration stopped granting waivers to buyers of Iranian oil early in May. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. last year from a landmark 2015 agreement meant to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear weapon.  Today after the reported attack on 2 tankers at Gulf of Harmuz, US crude oil futures surged as much as 4% !.

United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, which monitors security in the region, said that it was aware of an incident, and that Britain and its partners were investigating.An advisory from the agency indicated the incident had occurred near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital trade artery through which roughly 30% of the world's sea-borne crude oil passes.Singapore-based BSM Ship Management said in a statement that the vessel was about 70 nautical miles from Fujairah, a port in the United Arab Emirates, and about 14 nautical miles from the coast of Iran.

US crude futures had been trading near their lowest levels in five months. But they rebounded as traders reacted to reports of the attacks, gaining 2.3% to trade at $52.25 a barrel by 4:30 a.m. ET.The price for Brent crude, the global benchmark, surged 2.4% to $61.37 a barrel.  These followed  an incident in May in which four ships were targeted near Fujairah in what the United Arab Emirates described as a "sabotage attack." 

The U.S. Fifth Fleet said two oil tankers were damaged in an incident near the Strait of Hormuz that one of the ships’ operators described as a suspected attack. The development will inflame already-rising political tensions in the region weeks after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were sabotaged in what the U.S. said was an Iranian attack using naval mines. Tehran denied the charge.The Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet said it received two separate distress signals at 6:12 a.m. and about 7:00 a.m. local time. “U.S. Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance,” Commander Josh Frey, a spokesman, said. He couldn’t confirm reports that one of the attacks was caused by a torpedo. Iran said it has rescued 44 sailors.

The manager of one tanker, Front Altair, said it was sailing in international waters when it was damaged by an explosion, whose cause “is as yet unknown.”The second tanker, the Kokuka Courageous, said the vessel “has been damaged as a result of the suspected attack.” It was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a cargo of methanol.“The hull has been breached above the water line on the starboard side,” Bernhard Schulte GmbH & Co KG said in a statement on its website. It said the cargo was intact and the ship wasn’t in danger of sinking.

Iran has repeatedly said it has no knowledge and did not instruct any surrogate forces to attack Gulf shipping, or Saudi oil installations. Iranian state TV reported that 44 crew had been evacuated from the tankers to an Iranian port.Gulf tensions have been close to boiling point for weeks as the US puts “maximum economic pressure” on Tehran in an attempt to force it to reopen talks about the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of last year.Iran has repeatedly said it has no knowledge and did not instruct any surrogate forces to attack Gulf shipping, or Saudi oil installations.An inquiry by the UAE into the attacks on 12 May found that the sophisticated mines were used by state-like actors, but did not identify Iran or any other state as the culprit. The US national security adviser, John Bolton, said Iran was almost certainly involved. An alternative explanation is that the attacks were undertaken by Houthi rebels fighting the Saudi-led efforts to oust them from Yemen.

The latest incident came as the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, held talks with the Iranian leadership in Tehran in a bid to see if a basis for discussions between the US and Iran can be found. Japan’s trade ministry says the two oil tankers reportedly attacked on Thursday carried “Japan-related” cargo.The Japanese stressed they were not bringing specific messages from the US president, Donald Trump, and said nothing that they had heard in the first day of talks suggested a breakthrough was imminent.Abe, seen as close to Trump but also a supporter of the original 2015 deal, met both the Iranian foreign minister JavedZarif and the President Hassan Rouhani. On Thursday Abe also met Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In a sign of how the Yemen civil war and the wider US-Iranian tensions are becoming intertwined, Riyadh accused Tehran of ordering a Yemeni rebel missile strike that wounded 26 people at a Saudi airport on Wednesday.Iran and the Yemeni rebels both follow branches of the Shia branch of Islam but Tehran has always denied providing more than moral support to the rebels.The rebels say that missile and drone strikes against Saudi Arabia are one of few ways that they can retaliate after more than for years of bombing by the Saudi-led coalition, which has exacted a heavy civilian death toll in Yemen.

All is not well ~ tension at Hormuz and oil prices went up !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
13th June 2019.

story of Cricketer nicknamed Judge ~ who almost ended his life !!

Life is all about perceptions ! ~ we think that Cricket stars who are so much adored are so well placed in life, especially those who have had National recognition and had done well at bigger International arena !

In the MRF World Series (Nehru Cup) match at Kanpur in Oct 1989, when India played England, Krish Srikkanth, Indian Captain promoted Chetan Sharma in chasing 256.  Chetan Sharma scored a century enabling a facile Indian win by 6 wickets.  The man who is subject matter of the post, one who as 4236 test runs in 62 matches and 2419 in 71 one dayers – was out for a duck, to Mano jPrabhakar.

Somewhere read him stating that his father bought a house, knocked it down, made a cricket pitch – Barry Richards & Mike Procter, legends would come and practice in their backyard.  He in fact had a bowling machine too – the pitch was concrete with an astro-turf overlay which meant they all practiced the hard way facing deliveries of 85 mph !  .. .. he went on to play not for South Africa but for England alongside David Gower and Alan Lamb and was a feared batsman.   There were some harsh criticism that he was very good against pacers but not so against spin, yet he averaged 45 against Mustaq Ahmed, scored hundreds against India and Srilanka – David Gower averaged 44 but the southpaw was considered good against spinners in using his feet !

When India toured England in 1990, in July in the first Test at Lords, England amassed 653 /4 and declared.  Graham Gooch with that high backlift made 333; Alan Lamb 139 and this man Robin Smith made an unbeaten ton.  Indian bowlers suffered Kapil Dev 34-5-120-1; Manoj Prabhakar 1/187;  Sanjeev Sharma who played only 2 tests – 1/122; Ravi Shastri 0/99 and Narendra Hirwani 1/102.

Read this interesting article in MailOnline on Robin Smith, known affectionately as 'The Judge', who has discussed his lowest ebb. The 55-year-old has revealed he contemplated taking his own life five years ago !  .. .. Smith struggled with retirement after a long career and had alcohol issues.  He was saved by son Harrison and partner Karin and is now flourishing in Perth.

There is nothing of the swagger and confidence that epitomised Robin Smith when he was one of the best and bravest batsmen in the world as he talks calmly but with the hint of a tear in his eye about the time he wanted to take his own life. Here is something excerpted from that article.

'It's very difficult for me now to even talk about it,' said the man known throughout cricket as The Judge because of his wig-like hair.'It wasn't a case of if I was going to kill myself but when the right time was. I was days away from doing it because I couldn't cope any longer. I was spending a lot of time at Barry Richards' place in Perth and often I would drink half a bottle of vodka, walk up and down the beach and look at the Rendezvous Hotel.… words  ofRobin Smith in a candid interview to Sportsmail's Paul Newman discussing his life !

'I'd worked hard at visualising bowling when I was a cricketer and now I visualised exactly what I was going to do. I felt quite comfortable about it because I believed it would put a lot of people out of their misery. I thought I was bringing too much baggage to my family and upsetting too many people.'I didn't feel I could ever recover from the things I did or the guilt of losing the respect of my children which is the last thing you want to do as a parent. I don't think I'd ever have had the guts to put a gun to my head but taking a whole heap of sleeping tablets, drinking three bottles of vodka and then jumping over a balcony was something I could do.'

It is a startling revelation from one of the most popular cricketers to have ever played the game, a batsman of rare ability who took on and conquered West Indies bowlers in their prime in the late 80s and 90s at a time of huge under-achievement and chaos in the English game. 'The last 15 years have been a traumatic time and that's because something that absorbed my life from the age of 10 when Dad dragged me out of bed at 5am each day to train had come to an end,' continued Smith.

'Cricket was my life, and even though it was always going to finish at some stage, that doesn't make it any easier to cope with retirement. To have that wonderful time taken away was particularly impactful on me because I'd given my heart and soul to this beautiful game of ours. Once I was no longer involved in that unity of dressing room life I found it very difficult to cope.'... life so difficult for someone who as  a batsman conquered the West Indies bowlers at the height of their powers in the 90s! .. .. the 55-year-old said the transition from playing every day to retirement affected him badly   
Suddenly in 2003 everything Smith had always known from his days as a sporting prodigy in South Africa under the tutelage of his driven father to his time as a superstar in the England team of Ian Botham, Allan Lamb and David Gower had come to an end.'I had very serious issues,' said Smith. 'At the time I felt alcohol was the only thing getting me through each day. I've always enjoyed socialising, I was an old-school party animal who loved a few beers after a game but it was controlled and I only drank back then to enjoy the company of others.'But when I retired I felt, rightly or wrongly, that I could have had another year or so in the game and it took me a while to get over that.
It all culminated five years ago, with failed businesses behind him and a history of anxiety and depression, with that contemplation of suicide. Smith, who had begun a new life in Australia after retiring to get away from his old self and in a doomed attempt to save his marriage, was only rescued by the words of his son Harrison and the salvation which came with meeting the woman who is now his partner, Karin. At the time of meeting, he said, 'I was still drinking and incredibly depressed. I'd lost the will to live and the enthusiasm to get out of bed in the morning. I'd lost my bubbly sense of humour but Karin became a friend and made me understand I was a good guy with a terrible problem.

Smith, 55, is sharing his extraordinary story in London where he has come to publicise his new book The Judge, an incredibly moving yet uplifting account of his career of high achievement and fall to the depths of mental illness and as a 'functioning alcoholic'.The book will be launched on Thursday at the Ageas Bowl when Smith will be surrounded by old friends and mentors like Richards, Lamb and Mark Nicholas. He will also be back at his old home ground on Friday when, appropriately, England face West Indies.

But now, with the love and support of Karin who is by his side throughout our hour together, he is actually enjoying being Robin Smith. He has metaphorically used his square cut to swat his demons to the boundary and he is flourishing in Perth working for his brother Chris, a former England batsman himself, and as a coach who advocates a traditional technique rather than Twenty20 strokes.  Retirement, alcoholism, depression, solitude ~ there could be so many – yet life is all about living, not about abrupt ending, whatever be the perceived pressure !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
13th June 2019.