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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Bruce Lee back in news !!

In our school days, it was undiluted, social media was not there, we listened to our elders, heard people speak and thought, whatever was spoken firmly and with authority were hard facts ! .. .. when we moved from elementary to middle school, there was talk about fights, martial arts and the weapons.

Noonchak [nunchaku] – a couple of well-made wooden sticks connected at one end by a short chain was famous. We heard with awe that this was a dangerous weapon and the wielder can ward-off any challenge including swords thrown at them.  Then there was the frail-looking martial art practitioner whose on-screen martial arts career didn’t get off to a good start on The Green Hornet, the American TV show which gave him his first taste of fame in the West. It wasn’t that he performed badly – he just moved too fast for the cameras. After shooting a scene in which he was so fast no one could see the moves he was making, resulting in laughter from the show’s cast and crew, the man reportedly stormed into his dressing room in a bad mood.

Then came some movies – everyone was talking of ‘Enter the Dragon’ the martial arts action film released in 1973 produced by and starring Bruce Lee. The film directed by Robert Clouse would sadly be the final completed film appearance as the man sadly died in 1973 at age 32. A joint American and Hong Kong production, it premiered in Los Angeles in Aug  1973, one month after Lee's death and went on to gross US$90 million worldwide.    The movie is considered to be one of the greatest martial art films.  The man ‘Bruce Lee’.

Lee Jun-fan (1940 – 1973), known professionally as Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong-American actor, director, martial artist, martial arts instructor, and philosopher. He was the founder of Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid martial arts philosophy drawing from different combat disciplines that is often credited with paving the way for modern mixed martial arts (MMA).  Lee is considered to be the most influential martial artist of all time. He is often credited with helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films. Raised in Hongkong, he was introduced to the film industry by his father and appeared in several films as a child actor. Lee moved to the United States at the age of 18 to receive his higher education at the University of Washington in Seattle, and it was during this time that he began teaching martial arts.  With films like Fist of Fury, Enter the dragon, the game of death, he became an icon, more to Chinese, based upon his portrayal of Chinese nationalism in his films and among Asian Americans for defying stereotypes associated with the emasculated Asian male.

Moving away, remember having posted one on the  plight of a Cricketer, born in Australia, raised in Australia, captained England then came back to live in Australia, whose career graph fell and financially was ruined ! sad !!

Adam Hollioake may be better known for his days as England and Surrey cricket captain but that wouldn't be paying respect to his whole professional sporting career.   As a seamer he was more effective in the one-day game, where his hard-to-pick knuckle ball fooled batsmen into playing too early. He shone with the bat in the one-day games against the 1997 Australians - even breaking into the Test team - and later that year inherited the captaincy of England's one-day side from Mike Atherton, who continued to lead in the Tests. It was an unprecedented but initially successful move as Hollioake's inexperienced squad lifted the Akai Singer Champions Trophy in Sharjah. His England career appeared to be over when he was dropped after the disastrous 1999 World Cup, incidentally, the match against India at Birmingham in May 1999 was his lost in  ODI.   For the records, he played 4 Tests made 65 runs; took 2 wickets; in ODIs – played 35, scored 606 and took 32 wickets !  In 2012, Hollioake became the first international cricketer to compete professionally as a Mixed Martial Artist when he fought Joel Millar on an event called 'Glory 2 – The Struggle Within' and he competed professionally as both a boxer and a mixed martial artist many times after. 

Now read this news that a company run by Bruce Lee's daughter is suing a popular Chinese fast food chain over its use of an image of the late martial arts star. Shannon Lee's Bruce Lee Enterprises alleges Real Kungfu has used the image in its logo without permission. The firm wants the fast food chain to immediately remove the image, and is reportedly seeking $30m (£23.1m) in compensation. The restaurant argues local authorities approved its use of the logo. The image depicts a dark-haired man in a martial arts pose.

"The Real Kungfu chain's logo is one that the company had applied for and obtained after a rigorous screening by the national trademark agency, we have already been using this for 15 years", the company said in a statement posted on China's Weibo platform. "We are baffled that after so many years we are now being sued, and we are currently energetically studying the case and preparing our response." The Guangzhou-based fast food chain, which is known as Zhen Gongfu in Mandarin, was founded in 1990 and has around 600 outlets across China.

Bruce Lee Enterprises handles the merchandising and licensing of the kung fu star's image. In a statement on its website, the company said it is "dedicated to sharing the art and philosophy of Bruce Lee to inspire personal growth, positive energy, and global harmony and aims to keep the martial artist's energy alive".

The case is likely to be watched closely as the Chinese government has in recent years promised to increase protections for intellectual property rights.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th Dec 2o19.

Friday, December 27, 2019

racing is a sport ! certainly not on public roads !!

On the city roads, vehicle drivers instil mortal fear ! ~ one feels it more as a pedestrian or as a fellow user.  Vehicles zip past unmindful of those walking glued to their mobiles. There are some experts driving with mobile locked between head & shoulder too – at signals, it is always the fear & dilemma – vehicles fly past when it is amber before turning Red and on the other, some take a sharp shoot just as the Red closes and Green is yet !

Do you know what connects - Cigar,   Monterosso, Victoire Pisa, Glória de Campeão, Well Armed, Curlin, Invasor, Roses in May, pleasantly Perfect, Moon Ballad………………….  Sure, you would have crossed Guindy many a times and wondered why it attracts so many people vastly different from each other ! – have you ever ventured inside to see what happens inside ??  Sometime back I had posted about the  Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta held at Weymouth, Great Britain.  More than 1000 sailors participated in the Regatta battling across a total of 13 classes.   There is also another famous one -  The Volvo Ocean Race (formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race),  a yacht race around the world, held every three years.  One of the highlights of the event is the in-port race where spectators can watch closesly the action where man and machine engage in battle. 

There are various other races from the 100M sprint to long distance running, F1, snake-boat races of Kerala and races involving horses, dogs, elephants and more.  Cycling too ! ~ before becoming President, Donald Trump was the face of one .. The billionaire-turned-politician’s exploits and business dealings are  legendary, -  and there was this  Tour de Trump, a cycling event that was supposed to become America’s very own Tour de France. It was to be a cycling event the likes of which had never been seen before in the United States—with big-name bikers, international teams and a course that spanned the Eastern seaboard.  In the end, the race found a new and more stable corporate sponsor, became sanctioned internationally and rode on for another five years.

Anything on racing would not be complete without reference to F1.  Formula One (F1) is the highest class of single-seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and owned by the Formula One Group. The FIA Formula One World Championship has been one of the premier forms of racing around the world since its inaugural season in 1950. The word "formula" in the name refers to the set of rules to which all participants' cars must conform. A Formula One season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix (French for 'grand prizes' or 'great prizes'), which take place worldwide on purpose-built circuits and on public roads. The results of each race are evaluated using a points system to determine two annual World Championships: one for drivers, the other for constructors. Drivers must hold valid Super Licences, the highest class of racing licence issued by the FIA.

                           Formula One cars are the fastest regulated road-course racing cars in the world, owing to very high cornering speeds achieved through the generation of large amounts of aerodynamic downforce. The cars underwent major changes in 2017, allowing wider front and rear wings, and wider tyres, resulting in peak cornering forces near 6.5 lateral g and top speeds of up to approximately 350 km/h (215 mph).  While Europe is the sport's traditional base, the championship operates globally, with 11 of the 21 races in the 2019 season taking place outside Europe.  Blown front axles were banned in the 2019 regulations. Previously, teams would direct airflow through a hollow axle, bringing a high-pressure jet of airflow out to meet up with the flow coming around the front wheel, thereby boosting the power of the vital outwash. Red Bull, Renault and Ferrari all sought to compensate for this by fashioning their wheel rims to induce a flow through the wheels, with cut-outs on the inner faces of the wheelrims.

Robert Kubica is in advanced talks to join Alfa Romeo as a development driver for the 2020 F1 season. The 35-year-old has been in negotiations with Haas and Racing Point about similar roles after announcing his departure from Williams. RaceFans understands Alfa Romeo is now the front runner to secure Kubica’s highly-rated services as a development driver.  Orlen, the Polish petrochemical company with close ties to Kubica, is also likely to play a role in the deal. Alfa Romeo’s sponsorship deal with Shell is set to end this year. While Shell is believed to favour continuing, the forthcoming merger between Alfa Romeo owner Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Groupe PSA has cast doubt over that.

On a totally different plane, there have been races on city roads, threatening and sometimes killing and maiming people too and this news in Times of India Chennai edition offers solace. In a Christmas eve crackdown on bike racers, the Chennai police have seized more than 80 two-wheelers and registered about 100 cases against 150 youths for rash driving and endangering others. Based on a specific tip, police laid traps on Kamarajar Salai, Anna Salai, Sardar Patel Road and Dr Radhakrishanan Salai to catch the racers. They set up barricades at various points and closed some stretches to funnel bikers towards spots where law-enforcers waited in strength.

A police officer who was part of the crackdown said bikers use Whites road and Westcott road to access Anna Salai so they set a trap near the clock tower at Royapettah. When police barricaded all the main junctions along the Marina, the racers had to cross the clock tower to reach Pattulas road. Since it was a turn, they did not know that police were waiting ahead of them. Once they reached the spot, police blocked the road from behind as well, trapping them on Westcott road alongside the Royapettah government hospital. Similar traps were set at Mylapore and near the Kannagi statue, said police.

While 120 people were booked under IPC section 336 (Act endangering life or personal safety of others) and sector 114 (Abettor present when offence is committed), the other 30 people were booked under various sections of the Motor Vehicle Act for overspeeding and rash and negligent driving. Police said that all the men were released on station bail and this time, instead of calling their parents, they were asked to collect the two-wheelers from court. These racers for sure scare the life of other road users and a Police officer said that such attempts to scare people would be dealt with an iron fist !

Welcome !! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Dec 2019.

democracy, right to protest and .. .. thus spake the FM in Feb 2012

In a democracy (of which India is the finest example) citizen’s voices must be heard; subjects should voice their opinion in a peaceful manner ~ whatever may be violence shall not pass ! and acts such as the ones highlighted in the Press in the name of protests shall not be allowed.

According to official sources, public property worth crores of rupees have either been destroyed or have been looted by the mob in various parts of the state. Worst chaos  prevailed in the state of West Bengal as the Govt apparently has not taken any action against rioters, whom many allege are not even citizens of the Nation.  At Krishnapur station in Murshidabad district a number of empty trains were set on fire, besides railway tracks at Lalgola station, which they also ransacked. The goons  vandalised Sujnipara also in Murshidabad district and set fire on railway tracks at Harishchandrapur in neighbouring Malda district. They ransacked Sankrail railway station in Howrah district, torched its ticket counter and damaged the signalling system. “When RPF and railway personnel tried to stop them, they were beaten up,” a senior Railway Protection Force official said.  How sad !!

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill or CAB, which grants Indian citizenship to the non-Muslims of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, was passed by the Rajya Sabha - as many as 125 lawmakers voted in the favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and 99 against it. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill voting in Rajya Sabha was taken up after six hours of debate on the legislation.  Besides the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the CAB was supported by JD(U), SAD, AIADMK, BJD, TDP and YSR-Congress. The Shiv Sena did not participate in the voting. The citizenship bill was passed by the Lok Sabha with a majority of 311 votes against 80.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill exempts certain areas in the North-East from this provision. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the area covered under the Inner Limit notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. This effectively means that Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram along with almost whole of Meghalaya and parts of Assam and Tripura would stay out of the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.  Do the protesters and organisers know at least partial facts of the Bill ?

In a Democracy, voicing of opinion, protests are most welcome – b u t – that right is allowed only to the citizens of the country – no other country would ever allow foreign nationals to organize, participate, incite violence in their soil.  In between do you know or remember Sonnteg Reiner Hermann and how he was treated ? – the former FM who is out of the jail citing ailments but participated in the protect, seemingly thinks that public memory is short-lived.

Now read further - It’s Janne-Mette Johansson’s fifth visit to India, but on Thursday morning immigration officials visited the 71-year-old Norwegian citizen at her hotel in Fort Kochi. She was ordered to appear at Kochi international airport 20km away for “questioning” because she had participated in anti-CAA protest rally in Ernakulam on December 23.  She was eventually let off with a warning and told that she could remain in Kochi pending a “decision” on whether she could stay on in India or not. Her visa expires  in March and visa regulations prohibit  a tourist from taking part in such protests.

A day after German student Jakob Lindenthal from IIT Madras was sent back to his country by immigration department on charges of him joining a protest against CAA and NRC, Congress leader P. Chidambaram took  to his twitter handle to criticise his expulsion.  Hinting towards the events that unfolded in Nazi-Germany under Adolf Hitler, the Congress leader wrote, "The German is reminding us of a dark chapter in the world's history so that we may not repeat that in India.  24-year-old Jakob Lindenthal was told to leave by the Immigration department that insisted on him violating his visa rules by indulging in political activities in India. Jakob Linthedal was a student in the Physics Department of IIT Madras.  Holding a placard that had an indirect reference to the Nazi persecution of the Jews in Germany between 1933-45 during the Hitler regime, he had told co-participants at a protest last week that small measures against Jews had not attracted much attention initially.

BJP called Rahul Gandhi as “jhoothon ka sardar” (master of lies) as it hit back at the former Congress chief on Thursday for his ‘liar’ jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party cited several documents from 2011-12 to stress that detention centres were set up in Assam by the then UPA government. Addressing a presser, BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said “doublespeak” is the other name of Congress and recalled that then home minister P Chidamabaram had handed over the first NPR card to then President Pratibha Patil and later to UPA chief Sonia Gandhi.  Now, if you get to read newspapers of Feb 29, 2012 – they would read : Home Minister P Chidambaram has said that there was information to show that German national Sonnteg Reiner Hermann, who was deported on Tuesday, had links with the anti-Kudankulam nuclear project protests which was not consistent with his tourist visa. Addressing a press conference, he said Hermann was sent back to Frankfurt on a flight because his conduct here was certainly not consistent with a person who comes here as a tourist.  "There was information to show that he had links with the anti-Kudankulam stir that was not consistent with a person who had come here on a tourist visa," he said. The minister also disclosed that cases have been filed against four NGOs after it was found prima facie that they were involved in diversion of foreign funds from the purpose for which they were received.

Double tongued repartee from someone who cited ill-health after more than 100 days in jail .. now on bail.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Dec 2019.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

bright flowers of a thorny plant !

Age and experience are great teachers ! ~ yet, after crossing 50 years also, there are so many things, new and not learnt thus far ! ~ an experience I had this morning, on an errand to the terrace (garden). Even if I were to name some 20 odd flowers like – Lotus, Rose, Jasmine, marigold,  Tulip, lily, Kurinji, Kanakambaram, Mullai, Magizham, vrichi, senkanthal, ambal, anicham, vaagai, vagulam, kongam, bluebell, orchid, hyacinth, hibiscus, daffodil, dandelion .. .. I would not have named this as a flower – though commonly flowers are the reproductive organs of plants !!

The 1,500 to 1,800 species of this - mostly fall into one of two groups : opuntias (subfamily Opuntioideae) and "cactoids" (subfamily Cactoideae). Most members of these two groups are easily recognizable as cacti. They have fleshy succulent stems that are major organs of photosynthesis.  The remaining of them, fall into only two genera, Pereskia and Maihuenia, and are rather different.  

Cacti are prickly, and pleasing. Somewhat ungainly, they flourish in arid conditions where no plant will survive. Succulent inside, their thick coats and nettles ensure predators cannot get to the sap inside, sap the plants literally collect in drops off the moisture in the air. They are economically useful, and their flowers are magnificent !  Cacti require a small space, little water and minimum attention. They are quite extensively cultivated for economic purposes too. Growing in curious and unexpected forms, they  grow in the wild; and  also protected in conservatories and nurseries.

Though it might sound too obvious after gleaning some material on ‘cactus’ – I never knew that they bloom. Yes, those prickly green plants burst out some of the most beautiful flowers which could become  obsession of a photographer.

A cactus (plural cacti, cactuses)  is a member of the plant family Cactaceae, a family comprising about 127 genera with some 1750 known species of the order Caryophyllales. The word "cactus" derives, through Latin, from the Ancient Greek κάκτος, kaktos, a name originally used by Theophrastus for a spiny plant whose identity is not certain.  Cacti occur in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Most cacti live in habitats subject to at least some drought. Many live in extremely dry environments, even being found in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth. Cacti show many adaptations to conserve water. Almost all cacti are succulents, meaning they have thickened, fleshy parts adapted to store water. Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of most cacti where this vital process takes place. Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only spines, which are highly modified leaves. As well as defending against herbivores, spines help prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus and providing some shade. In the absence of leaves, enlarged stems carry out photosynthesis.

Cactus spines are produced from specialized structures called areoles, a kind of highly reduced branch. Areoles are an identifying feature of cacti. As well as spines, areoles give rise to flowers, which are usually tubular and multipetaled. Many cacti have short growing seasons and long dormancies, and are able to react quickly to any rainfall, helped by an extensive but relatively shallow root system that quickly absorbs any water reaching the ground surface.  Many smaller cacti have globe-shaped stems, combining the highest possible volume for water storage, with the lowest possible surface area for water loss from transpiration. Cacti have a variety of uses: many species are used as ornamental plants, others are grown for fodder or forage, and others for food (particularly their fruit). Cochineal is the product of an insect that lives on some cacti.

More searches reveal that their flowers are available for sale on line also.  You can buy fake ones from designers or real ones from good nurseries.   If you want to make a cactus happy, give it sunshine, sand, and – water. In fashion, the cactus has spread with a speed which is inherently uncactus-like. Cacti were plentiful at the Chelsea flower show  and similar shows in Western countries. 

This morning as I went up to the terrace [garden!  maintained by my wife] was surprised to see these flowers – I realized that there are cacti and when asked my wife, the answer – ‘elementary and obvious’ – and don’t display your ignorance !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th Dec 2019.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

MG Ramachandran ~ actor turned CM remembered !

Do you remember or know of a song which years after its release was screened in all the theatres of Tamilnadu in 1980s.  It was the song ‘Andavane unthan pathangalil naan kanneeral” from the film Oli Vilakku [ஒளி விளக்கு ] released in 1968. 

Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran (1917 – 1987) popularly known as MGR, was a legendary film actor who rose to dizzy heights of popularity becoming the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu successively for three terms. Those visiting Chennai from rural parts of Tamilnadu visit Marina  for visiting the samadhis of 4 CMs now .. ..

The Indo-China War  occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, when India had granted asylum to the Dalai Lama.  India was defeated in the war due to poor policies and lack of political will.  But when the Govt sought donations after the war, MGR rose to prominence by donating  Rs. 75,000/- [a very huge sum those days]  to the war fund.

The kind of adulation MGR enjoyed is unique and perhaps  continues undiminished even after 32 years of his death. MGR had with utmost care  created a screen image that corresponded to ‘the cultural presuppositions’ of Tamil Nadu’s subaltern classes as manifested in the state’s folk-hero ballads. The typical MGR hero is a low-status underdog who acquires the power to dispense justice, uses education as a tool of struggle, and defends the honour of women. All this held a tremendous appeal for the poor.  When he died after illness in Dec 1957, Madras  witnessed one of the  largest funeral processions.  Shops remained closed, transportation came to a halt, routine life was crippled and dozens committed suicide. Millions filled the streets as crowds travelled from all parts of the state for a final glimpse of the man called MGR.

That was the story of the man who rose from abject poverty, having been born in Kandy in 1917   as the fifth and the last child of Sathyabama and Gopala Menon, faced extreme poverty after losing his father before he was three. He lost two of his sisters and a brother to poverty, something he often mentioned to identify himself with the common man. He built an iconic image in tinseldom, the crowds followed him everywhere—when he was hospitalized after being shot by his co-actor M.R. Radha; when he suffered a paralytic stroke in October 1984.

Sathi Leelavathi, released in 1936 had MG Ramachandran in a supporting role but that was to change the fate of the State was not known for sure.  He graduated to leading roles and for the next three decades dominatin the tinseldom as ‘Do Gooder Hero’ who could nothing wrong and who would always care for the poor.  He became a member of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and rose rapidly through its ranks.  He successfully used his popularity as a film hero to build a large political base. In 1972, he  challenged those at the helm and was promptly expelled  from DMK, came out to  form his own party the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK).

In 1977 he became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu - the first film actor in India to become the chief minister of a state. He remained as Chief minister till his death in 1987.  He had built a mass following and glorious  reputation for philanthropism idolized by his followers  as Puratchi Thalaivar ( Revolutionary leader).  MGR was posthumously honoured with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award.

In October 1984, MGR was diagnosed with kidney failure, which was further complicated by diabetes, a mild heart attack and a massive stroke.  MGR died on December 24, 1987 after his prolonged illness. He was 70. His death sparked off a frenzy of looting and rioting all over the state of Tamil Nadu. Shops, movie theatres, buses and other public and private property became the target of violence let loose all over the state.  Around one million people followed his remains, around 30 followers committed suicide and people had their heads tonsured.

When he fell ill,   there were so many Cinema theatres and all of them were running full houses attracting people ~ before the start of every Cinema,  the  song ‘aandavane unthan pathangalil’  from the film ‘Oli Vilakku’ -   was screened as a prelude, more of the people of Tamilnadu praying to God for saving the life of CM MG Ramachandran, who though hailed from ‘rationalist party’ never spoke against God and at some point of time reportedly was a devotee of Kollur Mookambigai too…

After days of treatment  in Apollo [when Greames Road reportedly was not allowed for commoners ~ huge crowds thronged the Road to get nearer MGR, anxious of his health], on the night of 5th Nov 1984, MGR left for New York. It is another sad story that the then PM Indira Gandhi had visited MGR at hospital on 16/10/84.  Mrs Gandhi promised all help in treating him, including an aircraft to take him to hospital if needed.  The sad part was Mrs Indira could not see MGR recover as she was cruelly assassinated on 31st Oct 1984, a fortnight  after the meeting.  The planning and logistics involved in moving MGR was exceptional ~ again remember that air traffic was a microscopic % of what it is today !

Mrs Gandhi’s offer for aircraft was accepted by the TN Cabinet; a team of American doctors flew in by PM’s Indian Air Foce aircraft and stepped into Apollo Hospital on Oct 17;  Air India exclusively made available one Boeing aircraft and kept it  at Meenambakkam and by express orders the crew were staying on the craft itself, ready to fly any moment.  The leader of the Medical experts from America Dr Eli Friedman reportedly told that MGR was not fit for travel and will have to be observed for 10 days; the Boeing returned to  Bombay ~ before it went, a team of Doctors had an on board inspection suggesting the facilities that were required.

On Oct 19, came anxious moments as MGR lapsed into low levels of consciousness because of a tennis ball sized swelling in the brain.  Around this time, Dr Kanno, a Neurosurgeon from Japan was on his way from Tokyo.   They were brought to Madras in a chartered   350 seater aircraft –  during the journey, MGR was served with a special liquid diet; at London blood analysis was done; the results were obtained whilst airborne through radio from control tower at Heathrow airport. After all this, the flight safely landed at New York and was taken to Brooklyn Hospital by Dr Sreepada Rao.

That he returned back to Madras, won the elections in and ruled the State for some more time, eventually died on Dec 24, 1987 is history.  There are thousands of his followers who adore, admire and remember him still ~  32 years after  his death, today too, one could see people on roads  placing his picture and offering their obeisance on his death anniversary.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
24th Dec 2019.

restoring PWD - using old technique and Kangeyam bulls

The bulls have a defined routine: 48 rounds a day to produce 30 cubic feet of lime mortar for about 300 sq ft of wall. The output is 10% less than what modern techniques yield, but the quality tilts the scales towards tradition. The bulls are expected to toil at least six months on this part of the restoration ~  wonder what this ‘bull-story’ in modern era !

Visitors to Chennai for sure, would be captivated by the winding road along the beach – the Beach Road on Marina beach .. .. there are so many statues, of which our hero Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathiyar stands infront of a famous red building. Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff, the governor of Madras from 1881 to 1886, conceived and built the promenade along the beach in 1884 by extensively modifying and layering with soft sand. He also gave it the name Madras Marina ~  since the early 19th  century, a number of public buildings were constructed fronting the beach.  That beautiful building infront of Mahakavi statue is that of PWD (Public Works Department).   It  is the oldest department in Tamil Nadu, founded during British Raj during 1800. It became a government body in 1858.  The Public Works Department is entrusted with the construction and maintenance of buildings for most of the government departments and public undertakings, and the construction of bridges, roads, and infrastructure.

The Kangeyam (காங்கேயம்) cattle derives its name from the Kangeyam town located in Tiruppur district in the state of Tamil Nadu. This cattle breed is also known locally as Kongu Maadu. The name Kangayam was derived from Emperor Kangayan of Kongu Nadu. It is an indigenous breed of India. The animals are medium built in general and is considered a good draught breed in South India.  This breed is used in Jallikattu owing to its aggressive nature. It is disease resistant and has low body mass index, low metabolic rate and low water requiring, has capacity to withstand heat and humidity stress and resilience capacities.

The Public Works Department of Tamil Nadu which was established in the year 1858 by Lord Dalhousie turned 150  last year. The  department has over the years, undergone several structural and organizational changes to be in tune with changes in the political and administrative systems and with pace and orientation in the developmental activities.  The Madras Public Works Department was formed in the year 1858 under one Chief Engineer with three Inspecting Engineers, twenty District Engineers,       seventy-eight Executive Engineers and Assistant Engineers, two hundred and four Upper Subordinates and seven hundred and fourteen Lower Subordinates. The revival of "Coodimaramut" or unpaid village labour of ryots was brought about by legal enactment.  Through the years of evolution, the administration of the Department and the Engineering Services in general has been well streamlined.

During the post-independent period, on account of enormous developmental schemes under the Five Year Plans and remarkable increase in the construction activities, it was necessary for the Public Works Department to shed some of its responsibilities to be taken over by independent organizations and this necessity started even as early as in 1946. With the fast emerging urbanization and urban centers, and intensification of activity to launch drinking water and sewerage schemes and with the avowed policy of the Government to provide safe drinking water to all the villages, a separate Public Health and Municipal Works Department was constituted in 1962. This  later became Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Sewerage Board in 1971.

The Public Works Department through its long innings of 150 years has created invaluable capital assets including irrigation infrastructure in the form of dams, reservoirs, tanks canals etc. A few of these are the Dams, Reservoirs and anicuts like Mettur, Bhavani, Manimuthar, Amaravathi, Vaigai, Parambikulam, Sathanur, Palar, Ponnai, Tirukoilur, Srivaikundam etc; Buildings like Presidency College, University Senate House, High Court, Madras Law College,  District Courts, Collectorates, Hospitals, etc. and other monumental buildings. The Public Works Department in charge of construction of Public Buildings and their maintenance in the State ~ wonder, who and how will its own building be maintained ?

For the first time in decades, the heritage structures in the Public Works Department complex at Chepauk are being restored.  Built in 1865, the iconic red building facing Marina beach is also known as the Chepauk Palace and housed the Nawab of Arcot. It houses the PWD headquarters.  The main building, designed by Robert Chisholm, has two rectangular wings on either side.  The State government  recently announced Rs.20 crore towards heritage conservation. At present, work is on to repair a hall in one of the wings that was once used for maintaining records.

Elaborating on the process, an official of the PWD said lime and river sand are sourced from Tiruchi and Virudhunagar for lime plastering. “Mughal plastering using various traditional materials like egg white, curd and lime powder is used and several processes are involved to revive the sheen of the walls. Structures with wire cut bricks need such plastering for stability,” the official said. “We are also repairing the roof and courtyard. Skilled masons from Kovilpatti have been engaged for the work,” said an official.  The chest, which was made in London, is now being used to maintain confidential documents of the department.

Reviving a traditional method of restoring heritage structures, the public works department (PWD) has introduced a stone roller yard to grind limestone and sand that would be used for plastering. A pair of Kangeyam  bullocks attached to the roller in the circular yard grinds these materials replacing machine grinders.   Nearly 249 years ago, the iconic  Palace, was built using construction techniques that were considered the best. Now, while restoring one of its constituent buildings, the Public Works Department has decided to go back to those traditional methods.   As a Department official explains, this ‘slow’ process yields plaster that is authentic and free from contamination.

The Kangeyam bulls working at Chepauk are from Saptur in Madurai district. They were yoked to draw a limestone grinding roller that mixes the lime mortar. “Normally, a grinder is used. But the traditional technique of bulls rotating the grinding roller blends the mortar better and provides superior adhesion.  It is  not just the use of bulls that is old-style. The roller stone, weighing five tonnes, had to be sourced from Sholinghur in Vellore district and the stones used to build the ‘grinder’ — a circular path 25-feet in diameter — were specially chosen from Mamallapuram. The channel in which the lime mortar is ground is made of stone, because concrete is not suitable. Fine concrete particles could mix with the lime mortar and affect its purity, an official said.  About 20 rounds by bullocks attached to a stone grinder generates 250 kg of mortar, quipped an official.

Interesting !

Sir Mokshagundam Vishweshvaraya KCIE, FASc (1861 – 1962)  the brilliant engineer,  the man behind Krishnaraja sagar dam, 19th  Diwan of Mysore, recipient of Bharat Ratna, knighted as a Knight Commander of the British Indian Empire (KCIE) by King George V for his contributions to the public good,  took a job with the PWD of Bombay and later was invited to join the Indian Irrigation Commission.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Dec 2019.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Shardul Thakur lifts India ~ Krish Srikkanth was stranded at 99

Remember that 2nd ODI at the same stadium played on 27.12.1984 for different reasons !  The Somavamshi dynasty ruled parts of present-day Odisha in eastern India between the 9th and the 12th centuries. Their capitals included Yayatinagara (modern Binka) and Abhinava-Yayatinagara (modern Jajpur).  The Somavamshis introduced a new style of art and architecture in Odisha, and their rule saw a remarkable shift from Buddhism to Brahmanism in the region.

Residential areas in Millennium city have been reeling under acute mosquito menace for the last few weeks. Negligence of Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) in initiating adequate measures to check the growth of mosquito population has aggravated the problem. The menace has assumed bigger proportions as mosquito density index stood at more than 60 against 45 to 50 last month. The density of mosquitoes is calculated by the average number of mosquito bites on 10 persons per hour. While a density of 30 is normal and 40 moderate, density level beyond 40 is considered high. The rising index level during this time of the year has left people worried about falling prey to vector-borne diseases.

                           Cuttack is the former capital city of Orissa.  The city has lineage to the Ganga dynasty  founded by King Ananta-Varman Chodaganga Deva (1078–1147), grandson of the Chola king Virarajendra Chola and nephew of emperor Kulothunga Chola I. Anantavarman is credited for having built the famous Jagannath Temple of Puri in Orissa.  The barabati fort was built by the Ganga dynasty and there lies the modern Barbati stadium.  The city is in the Mahanadi river delta and hence fertile. .Orissa is officially Odisha from Nov 2011 – the modern name of ancient Kalinga kingdom.   The Barbati stadium is the home ground of Orissa Cricket Team ~ it is here that the ODI against WI was played yesterday.  Cuttack and Bhubaneswar are often referred to as the Twin-Cities of Odisha.

In a major breakthrough, Forest Department officials on Friday arrested notorious wildlife smuggler Madhab Patra for his alleged involvement in the pangolin smuggling racket in the State. Patra was nabbed from Godi Sahi in the Narasinghpur area of Cuttack district. Earlier, as many as 10 members of the wild animal trafficking racket were arrested in Athagarh area of Cuttack district. A total of 15 members of the gang have so far been arrested up by the forest officials. But the mastermind of the racket has eluded the dragnet. Notably, the Forest department also announced a cash reward of Rs 10,000 to persons who will inform about the illegal trade of the endangered animal.

At around 10 pm in the night, India were 228 for 5, needed 88 off 67, which should be straightforward on most Indian evenings, but Kohli's mannerisms told a different story. When Iyer and Pant fell, he turned away and put his head down, visibly disappointed with the junior partners. He asked Jadhav to stand in front of the stumps because Cottrell was unlikely to bring a ball back in for the lbw. Cottrell somehow snuck one back in through the gate. Kohli didn't have West Indies fielders chirping him this time, but he was pumped up just as he was in the chase in the first T20 international.

The finish after Kohli fell was sort of easy, brought about by a cool Jadeja and a man who had total of 22 in 6 innings – highest of 22 and average of 22 (4 DNB).. Shardul Narendra Thakur.   Thakur, came out batting in a positive manner. He drove the first ball he faced on the up and got four through extra cover. With 22 required off the last three overs, West Indies went to Cottrell's last over. He began with a wide, bowled another bouncer too high, and when he got the bouncer right, Thakur obliged with a top edge on the hook. However, he had swung hard enough for the edge to sail over the fence. He followed it up with a flamboyant Ajit Agarkar-like bat swing to a full ball to beat long-on and all but kill the game. Jadeja remained unbeaten on 39 off 31.

The scorecard read : India 316 for 6 (Kohli 85, Rahul 77, Sharma 63, Paul 3-59) beat West Indies 315 for 5 (Pooran 89, Pollard 74*, Saini 2-58) by four wickets. West Indies' tour of India ended the way it began: denied by the bat of Virat Kohli after they had put in a fight despite losing the toss.  India were chasing 316 because of a stunning counterattack by Nicholas Pooran and Kieron Pollard that lifted them from 144 for 4 in the 32nd over, but it was still a relatively easy chase. The chase became difficult despite fifties from the openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul because once the partnership broke, West Indies kept finding a way to keep taking wickets, bringing India's dodgy lower order into the picture. The early damage India did was crucial, and the debutant fast bowler Navdeep Saini was responsible for the bulk of it, removing the in-form Shimron Hetmyer (37) and the promoted Roston Chase (38) in successive overs. Saini wasn't even in the fray for this ODI series, but an injury to Deepak Chahar paved the way for his return to international cricket. Saini himself was coming off an injury, after having impressed with his hit-the-deck bustle on his T20I debut against West Indies in August earlier this year.

PS 1:  not many would know that the city of Cuttack was the palce where  our hero, Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose was born.  Bose was born on 23rd Jan 1897 at Oriya bazaar to Janaki Nath Bose, a famous lawyer and Prabhavati Devi.   The place known as Janakinath Bhawan, is now a museum and showcases the original letters written by Netaji along with other important materials used by Netaji.

PS 2 :  if you remember that 1984 One dayer, England won by 1 run – a revised target due to poor light – Krish Srikkanth was out lbw to Mike Gatting ! @ 99

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Facebook Utility for Mercedes Benz Users - It is not a facility - ?0nly a Bane ???

What is ultimate in luxury – does facilities add up to betterment ?

When one think of luxury, high end cars – Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Volvo, Jaguar, Lambardini and the like could come to mind. Mercedes-Benz  is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG. The German automaker, renowned for its long history of high-end, luxury cars, wants to further connect with an increasing segment of drivers that use mobile technology and demand more integration with their automobiles.

Much has been written about social networking sites and about Facebook – million of addicted users are habituated to checking their FB accounts at Home, at  Workplace, at leisure, at restaurants, at movies and in any other possible place !  - if at all, there were to be any glass ceiling that is sought to be broken by the new frontier of use – the automobile.   Mercedes-Benz USA is bringing Facebook to its cars, with a special version of the service that is built-in to a new in-vehicle telematics system that will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.  Accessing Facebook on the road is not the exactly the same as using the social network on a personal computer or a smartphone. The version of Facebook offered in Daimler AG’s Mercedes is stripped down to a limited set of features, specially designed for drivers and centered around the locations of friends and businesses. 

According to Facebook authorities, the Mercedes version of Facebook reflects the social networking service’s expansion to a growing list of settings where screens and Internet connections are available.  “Now that cars have screens that are intelligent, you would expect that more and more car manufacturers will want to make those screens capable of allowing people to connect with their friends and take advantage of the social context that comes along with that,” – the FB official was quoted as saying.  The spokesperson added “One of the core things that people do on their screens in the car is GPS navigation and the ability to see which of your friends are nearby is something we think will be really interesting for people.”  It is also stated that  Facebook is  increasingly being integrated into televisions, with various TV manufacturers expected to showcase built-in Facebook integration at CES. DirectTV will show off a new social TV app with Facebook capabilities at CES, allowing people to share what they are watching and to add commentary. 

Technological advancement is good – let people waste more time connecting and posting about themselves and reading more unwanted things – when sitting at home, in front of TV / computer or elsewhere -  unlike television sets, offering Facebook in motor vehicles involves critical safety considerations, particularly at a time when lawmakers and safety advocates are increasingly focused on distracted driving. Already  World-over, people are using mobiles, fiddling with their music systems and such things – get distracted cause more accidents – those on road are already speaking on mobile unaware of the surrounding !! 

Defending this, the  Mercedes’ Product Manager for Telematics Services contended that  the service is no more distracting than a standard in-car navigation system or radio. Any Facebook activity that requires a user to enter text is disabled while the car is in motion, is what is being said. The Facebook application displays a variety of standard, pre-written postings that a driver can publish on Facebook with quick taps or turns of a knob. Drivers can also quickly access a list of friends that are nearby, or restaurants in the vicinity that their friends have “liked” on Facebook.

It is a luxury – Premier brand and they will tout offering FB as a service – a result of a collaboration between the two companies and a technological advancement at that.   The mbrace2 system  is to be made  available with the launch of the 2013 SL-Class Mercedes in the Spring. The company plans to make it a standard feature on all Mercedes 2013 models that will roll out throughout the year.  Only handicap that the Mercedes drivers will  be placed, is the inability  to play social games such as Zynga Inc’s Farmville. Mercedes’ version of Facebook does not support third-party apps.

The Manufacturer would only claim it as a great benefit but think of its distraught side.  It certainly would be an added distraction to a driver and remember a small mistake at wheel can result in no. of fatalities of others as also of theirs.  Is it really the need of the hour that the driver should update his status in FB 0r post a message, read the one posted by another friend or see how many of one’s friends are on-line, perhaps they too driving.  Is it driving that is foremost or texting, updating status and sending e-mail messages ?
Those gadget sellers would pose that the  interior environment is becoming a personalized space for consumers and the customer has to enjoy at comfort.  Even if this could be considered as a luxury by any yardstick, it would ever remain an interesting nuisance and a great distraction for the addictive electronic comfort seeker.  It would expose the motorists to the new risks of cyberworld adding to those present on road.  Whether a contraption is wired or wireless using technology, it still requires human interaction and human brain to utilize and that way drawing the attention of the driver away is no good for the society.

A device manufacturer would only think of enhancing his sale but seldom would think of the serious security implications and the increase risk that they pose to the road user including the one using such tool.

To me, this only appears a binder – allowing headlong plunge on the risk prone road than any tool of great advantage !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
Feb 2, 2012.