Tuesday, May 26, 2020

remembering Hockey legend Balbir Singh

Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs of India is seen with the legend.   Nation is paying homage to the legend !

Can you identify the player in suit ? – had he been a Cricket player of IPL fame, most of us would have identified him in a trice.

India had last made it to the knockout stages in 1980 Moscow Olympics. This was also the Games in which it won last of their eight gold medals in hockey. India have won a record eight gold medals at the Olympics. Could read that way back in  1932 Olympics,   the Indian team put in a fine performance though the field was reduced to just three contenders, United States and Japan being the other two. India notched a record 24-1 win against the hosts and drubbed Japan 11-1 to win their second Olympic gold medal.

Hockey had debuted much earlier.  At the 1908 Summer Olympics, a field hockey tournament was contested for the first time. Six teams entered from three states. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was represented by a team from each of the four Home Nations: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Germany sent a championship club team, while France sent a team composed of players from three clubs.  England won the gold medal, Ireland the silver, and Scotland and Wales the bronze medals.  The Summer Olympics in 1928 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, was golden for India as India took its first ever gold in the sport of field hockey, beginning a streak of six consecutive gold medals in the sport.

The 1952 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XV Olympiad, were held in Helsinki, Finland, from July 19 to August 3, 1952. Helsinki had been earlier selected to host the 1940 Summer Olympics, which were cancelled due to World War II. It is the northernmost city at which a summer Olympic Games have been held.

The indian team was : Kunwar Digvijai Singh - Captain, Leslie Claudius, Keshav Dutt, Chinadorai Deshmutu, Randhir Singh Gentle, Grahanandan Singh, Ranganandhan Francis, Jaswant Rai, Balbir Singh Sr., Dharam Singh, Govind Perumal, Raghbir Lal, Udham Singh, and Muniswamy Rajgopal — Field hockey, Men's Team Competition.  Team India won the Gold and Khashaba Jadhav, won Individual Bronze medal in  Wrestling, Men's Freestyle Bantamweight.

Balbir Singh was vice-captain of 1952 Olympic team, with K. D. Singh as the Captain. Balbir was India's flag bearer in the opening ceremony. He scored a hat trick against Britain in semi-final, which India won 3–1. He scored five goals in India's 6–1 win against the Netherlands setting a new Olympic record for most goals scored by an individual in an Olympic final in men's field hockey. The previous holder of this record was England's Reggie Pridmore with his four goals in England's 8–1 victory over Ireland in the 1908 Olympic final. Singh scored nine of the India's total 13 goals at the Helsinki Olympics, 69.23% of the team's goals.

A goal-scoring machine from the days when hockey was played on grass, Balbir won three Olympic golds — 1948, 1952 and 1956 — and was India’s most-decorated athlete ever. The legend is no more – he passed away on 25.5.2020 after battling multiple health issues. The iconic player was 95 and is survived by his daughter Sushbir and three sons Kanwalbir, Karanbir, Gurbir. "He died at around 6:30 this morning," Abhijit Singh, Director Fortis Hospital, Mohali, where he was admitted on May 8, told PTI. Balbir Sr was in a semi-comatose state since May 18 and had developed a blood clot in his brain after being first admitted to the hospital for bronchial pneumonia with high fever.

One of the country's greatest athletes, Balbir Sr was the only Indian among 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee across modern Olympic history. His world record for most goals scored by an individual in the men's hockey final of the Olympics still remains unbeaten.

Balbir Singh Dosanjh (1923 - 2020)  played a key role  in India's wins in London (1948), Helsinki (1952) (as vice captain), and Melbourne (1956) (as captain) Olympics. He is regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time, a modern-day Dhyan Chand, a legend regarded as  greatest ever centre-forward.  Singh was the Manager and chief coach of the Indian team for the 1975 Men's Hockey World Cup, which India won, and the 1971 Men's Hockey World Cup, where India earned a bronze medal. During the London Olympics in 2012, Singh was honoured in the Olympic Museum exhibition, "The Olympic Journey: The Story of the Games” held at the Royal Opera House.  The exhibition told the story of the Olympic Games from its creation in 776BC through to the London 2012 Olympic Games. He was one of the 16 iconic Olympians chosen  whose example "tells of human strength and endeavour, of passion, determination, hard work and achievement and demonstrates the values of the Olympic Movement.

Son of a freedom fighter, Balbir had a difficult initiation into hockey. He grew up in Moga, detesting the police who had jailed his father multiple times. The same police force, as fate would have it, would shape his hockey career. At Wembley stadium on 12th Aug 1948, a just born Nation (India) beat its earlier colonisers securing a Gold with a sense of pride.   
Balbir at Melbourne

He may not be a household name like Dhyan Chand or others from that era, but Balbir will remain the ultimate grand old man of Indian hockey, both in terms of stature and the warmth he effused.

Before concluding the man walking in that photo is another Hockey legend – Dhanraj Pillay, a fine player.  He became a National player in  1989, represented India in four Olympic Games, World Cups and Champion Trophies each. He made 339 appearances for the national team and is recorded, to have scored 170 goals. He also played for clubs in countries such as Malaysia, France, England and Germany. Recognizing his achievements, he was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India in 2000.

Tributes to Hockey legend Balbir Singh

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Anglo-Maratha War - British defeat and the Treaty of Salbai

                                    The Lovers (released in the UK as Time Traveller and in Belgium under the French title La Prophétie de l'anneau) is a 2013 English-language romance time travel adventure film written and directed by Roland Joffé from a story by Ajey Jhankar. The film stars Josh Hartnett, Bipasha Basu, Alice Englert, Tamsin Egerton and Abhay Deol in lead roles.

The seven islands of Bombay were 16th-century Portuguese territories lying off the west coast of India, that were handed over to England under this title as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza when she married Charles II in 1661.  After acquiring them as dowry, Charles II rented the islands to the East India Company in 1668 for £10 a year.

Maharashtra on Saturday reported 2,608 fresh coronavirus cases, taking its total count to 47,190.  With 60 more deaths getting reported in the state, its death toll reached 1,577, said the state health department.  With 821 patients getting discharged on Saturday, number of recovered Covid-19 patients in Maharashtra rose to 13,404. 1,566 new Covid-19 cases and 40 deaths were reported in Mumbai on Saturday, taking the total number of positive cases in Mumbai to 28,634 and death toll to 949, said Municipal Corporation Greater Mumbai. Out of the 40 deaths, 22 patients had co-morbidities.  Covid is affecting and threatening people – has changed the way people have lived thus far !.

Salsette Island (Salsete) is an island in the state of Maharashtra on India's west coast. The metropolis of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and the cities of Thane and Mira-Bhayander lie on it, making it very populous and one of the most densely populated islands in the world.    Salsette is bounded by Vasai Creek, Ulhas River, Thane Creek,  Bombay Harbour, and Arabian Sea. The original seven islands of Bombay, which were merged by land reclamation, are now practically a southward protruding peninsula of the much larger Salsette Island.

The Treaty of Purandar was a doctrine signed on 1 Mar 1776 by the Peshwa of the Maratha people and the British East India Company's Supreme Council of Bengal in Calcutta.  Based on the terms of the accord, the British were able to secure Salsette. Treaty was signed between the then Governor General Warren Hasting who sent Colonel Upton and Nana Phadnavis of Peshwa in which British accepted Sawai Madhav Rao as a new Peshwa and Maratha accepted not to recognise existence of French in India.

The Treaty of Salbai was signed on 17 May 1782, by representatives of the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company after long negotiations to settle the outcome of the First Anglo-Maratha War. Under its terms, the Company retained control of Salsette and Broach and acquired guarantees that the Marathas would defeat Hyder Ali of Mysore and retake territories in the Carnatic. The Marathas also guaranteed that the French would be prohibited from establishing settlements on their territories. In return, the British agreed to pension off their protégé, Raghunath Rao, and acknowledge Madhavrao II as peshwa of the Maratha Empire. The British also recognised the territorial claims of the Mahadji Shinde west of the Jumna River and all the territories occupied by the British after the Treaty of Purandar were given back to the Marathas. The Treaty of Salbai resulted in a period of relative peace between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company until outbreak of the Second Anglo-Maratha War in 1802.

The First Anglo-Maratha War (1775–1782) was the first of three Anglo-Maratha wars fought between the British East India Company and Maratha Empire in India. The war began with the Treaty of Surat and ended with the Treaty of Salbai.

After the death of Madhavrao Peshwa in 1772, his brother Narayanrao became peshwa (ruler) of the Maratha Empire. Narayanrao was murdered by his palace guards in Aug 1773, and his uncle Raghunathrao (Raghoba) became peshwa. However, Narayanrao's widow, Gangabai, gave birth to a posthumous son, who was legal heir to the throne. The newborn infant was named 'Sawai' Madhavrao Twelve Maratha chiefs, known as the Baarbhai and led by Nana Phadnavis, directed an effort to install the infant as the new Peshwa and to rule in his name as regents.  Raghunathrao, unwilling to give up his position of power, sought help from the British at Bombay and signed the Treaty of Surat in  1775. According to the treaty, Raghunathrao ceded the territories of Salsette and Bassein to the British, along with part of the revenues from Surat and Bharuch districts. In return, the British promised to provide Raghunathrao with 2,500 soldiers.

The British Calcutta Council condemned the Treaty of Surat, sending Colonel Upton to Pune to annul it and make a new treaty with the regency. The Treaty of Purandhar annulled that of Surat, Raghunathrao was pensioned and his cause abandoned, but the revenues of Salsette and Broach districts were retained by the British. The Bombay government rejected this new treaty and gave refuge to Raghunathrao. In 1777, Nana Phadnavis violated his treaty with the Calcutta Council by granting the French a port on West coast. The English retaliated by sending a force towards Pune.

Following a treaty between France and the Poona Government in 1776, the Bombay Government decided to invade and reinstate Raghoba. They sent a force under Col. Egerton reached Khopoli and made its way through the Western Ghats at Bhor Ghat and onwards toward Karla, which reached there in 1779 while under Maratha attacks. Finally the British were forced to retreat back to Wadgaon, but were soon surrounded. The British were forced to sign the Treaty of Wadgaon on 16 Jan. 1779, a victory for the Marathas.  Reinforcements from northern India, commanded by Colonel (later General) Thomas Wyndham Goddard, arrived too late to save the Bombay force.  Goddard with 6,000 troops stormed Bhadra Fort and captured Ahmedabad in  1779. There was a garrison of 6,000 Arab and Sindhi infantry & 2,000 horses. Losses in the fight totalled 108, including two British !  War occurred between  Mahadji Scindia and General Goddard in Gujarat, but indecisively. Hastings sent yet another force to harass Mahadji Shinde, commanded by Major Camac, Marathas won the war. A Vijay Stambh (Victory Pillar) erected to commemorate Maratha victory over British. The pillar is located at Vadgaon/Wadgaon Maval, close to the city of Pune, India.  Here is a  mural depicting the British surrender during the First Anglo-Maratha War.

By Amit20081980~commonswiki - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44016664

Treaty of Salbai, was signed on 17 May 1782, and was ratified by Hastings in June 1782 and by Nana Phadnavis in February 1783. The treaty ended the First Anglo-Maratha War, restored the status quo, and established peace between the two parties for 20 years.

The 2013 Hollywood film titled The Lovers is based on the backdrop of this war. The Lovers was  written and directed by Roland Joffé from a story by Ajey Jhankar. The film stars Josh Hartnett, Bipasha Basu, Alice Englert, Tamsin Egerton and Abhay Deol in lead roles. The film is the tale of an impossible romance set against the backdrop of the first Anglo-Maratha war across two time periods and continents and centred on four characters—a British officer in 18th century British India, the Indian woman he falls deeply in love with, and a 21st-century American marine biologist and his wife.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

Covid times - Delhi 'aam' ............. and men on street 'aadmis' story !

Covid has kept people at home (is it so ?) and summer is peaking.  As the mercury shoots up and as people start predicting that ‘this year summer is going to be more hot’ …. people start thinking of delicious mango season.   Mangoes have enriched the literature ~ So many stories, real as well as apocryphal, are associated with this sublime fruit. Like Cricket among all sports, mango among all fruits has lent itself to the folklore of Indian and subcontinental literature.  Every place in India,  have their own variety of mangoes – some to be eaten ripe, some green and raw and some pickled and devoured.  Sure you can add more to this list ……..Alphonso, Totapuri, Aambaat, Banganapalli,  Neelam, Sindhoori, Malda, Pairi, Chandrakaran, Alphonso, Langra, Gulaab khaas, peddarasalu, Kesar, dashehari, movandhan, mallika …..  

The cyclone  Amphan cut a swathe through Malda before entering Bangladesh, destroying around 250 huts also in the district. No fatality was reported. The cyclone has come as a double whammy for the mango growers who didn’t get labourers for maintenance of the trees because of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.  Cyclone Amphan has spelt a doom for mango cultivators. The farmers had already suffered losses as they could not carry out maintenance of trees and fruits in the absence of labourers because of the ongoing lockdown. Semi-ripe mangoes fell from the trees because of pest attack. The cyclone has damaged whatever fruits left on trees,” said Ujjwal Saha, the secretary of the Malda Mango Merchants’ Association.  The district produces around 3.5 lakh metric tons of mangoes on an average a year. The cyclone has also affected paddy, vegetables and litchi. “The data we have received from different blocks so far indicate around 16,050 metric tons of litchis were lost in the cyclone. Paddy cultivated in an area of 16,000 hectares and vegetables in around 500 hectares were damaged,” said a source in the administration.

With a history as delicious, mangoes make for one of the most popular fruits across the world. In addition to being sumptuous, pulpy and amazing, mangoes pack a host of health benefits too! – but sadly, humans misbehave at every possible opportunity.  A crisis, it is often said, brings out the best and worst in people. Delhi's worst was laid bare on Wednesday when dozens of men - passers-by, auto drivers and just about anybody - pounced upon crates of mangoes left unattended by a street vendor and robbed it clean in a nauseating display of inhumanity in the country's capital.

According to  NDTV, Hindusthan Times and other media reports, Chhote, a fruit-seller in north Delhi's Jagatpuri area, was the affected person as  the incident took place after a fight broke out in the neighbourhood, at a time when law enforcement agencies are supposed to be on heightened alert to enforce the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. "They had a fight over there, near the school. A group of men came here and asked me to move my theli (push cart)," the smalltime vendor said. Seeing his crates lying unguarded, some people in the area passing by decided to take advantage of the situation. Two, four, six - everyone scooped up whatever they could carry. The video of the incident, recorded by a witness and widely shared on social media, showed the free-for-all that followed.

Riders put mangoes in their helmets. Others called out like hawkers, encouraging everyone to help themselves. The incident caused a small traffic jam in the area, the video showed. "I had 15 crates of mangoes here worth about Rs 30,000. They took everything," Chhote said. Business has been slow because of the coronavirus lockdown and this incident has practically broken his back, the fruit-seller said.

The incident comes amid reports of violations of coronavirus restrictions in several parts of the country. The Union Home Ministry, which controls the Delhi Police, on Thursday sent out a memo to all states asking them to be vigilant and not let people break the rules.  NDTV circulated an independent note seeking monetary contributions to the fruit seller and followed with another report, this time act of goodness !

For the second time in a week, Phool Mia aka Chhote, a fruit-seller in north Delhi can barely believe his eyes. Just three days after he found his stall looted by ordinary people of mangoes worth nearly Rs 30,000, he is stunned by the response he has received. "I am thankful to you. You told my story. I am thankful to everyone who has helped me," Chhote told NDTV. "Those who had to steal, did so. But I am overwhelmed that so many people have helped me," he said. Over the last 24 hours, since NDTV ran his story and shared his bank account details, more than a hundred people have sent in contributions ranging from Rs 100-200 to several thousands.

Until this morning, he had no clue about the outrage that his ordeal had provoked or the outpouring of solidarity. When NDTV went back to him on Saturday and told him about the response from viewers and readers, Chhote was taken aback. A quick trip to the bank revealed that he had received more than enough to cover his losses.

This fruit seller was lucky to get monetary compensation – but shame on the people who looted property on road. All of them knew that they were stealing fruits that too from a smalltime roadside vendor. Fie upon them.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Salute the great martyrs of motherland - Operation Randori Behak

Once lockdown was announced, I asked my Newspaper agent, not to deliver daily newspapers; mostly do not read them online and my watching TV is also limited – not news channels – for I am not too savvy about ‘trending and breaking news’.

·         Today read this trending news :  Samantha Akkineni wore her yellow kurta with a blue dupatta at Rana Daggubati’s engagement bash. She complemented her vibrant canary outfit with a light blue tulle dupatta. Although a pastel tone, when matched with the cheerful yellow kurta, it instantly uplifted the look. .. .. ..  Rana Daggubati getting engaged could be a news that many would read with interest but what Samantha wore ? – is that all important. Perhaps channels deliver what people read most !!

·         Remember CSK Vs DC – IPL match at Hyderabad in 2008.  Afridi scored a solitary run and took no wickets in 3 overs conceding 19 runs.   When he spoke about a foundation a la Imran, Harbhajan and Yuvraj supported though they should have exercised caution knowing the designs of the hatred monger, who has cried sour for not being part of IPL.   Later, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh expressed regret supporting Shahid Afridi's foundation after ex-Pakistan cricketer's controversial remarks about India, our PM and Kashmir.  A Press wrote – is he the next Imran ? After all he’s got all that’s needed to take the reins of prime minister’s office. He is handsome and without brains.  At one  event  responding to Imran Khan’s call to stand for 30-minutes in a show of solidarity with Kashmir, Afridi told a triggered crowd about his grandfather Abdul Baqi Sahib, who was given the title of Ghazi-e-Kashmir. Hence, Kashmir belongs to him and his future generations

The Neelum River  is a river in the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan; it starts in the Indian city of Gurais and then merges with the Jhelum River near the Indian city of Muzaffarabad. The Neelam River originates from Krishansar Lake in the vicinity of Sonamarg in  India’s  Jammu and Kashmir, and runs northwards to Badoab village in Tulail Valley where it meets a tributary from the Dras side.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Thursday said that the security forces have arrested three newly recruited terrorists in a joint operation at Sogam of Kupwara district. A further investigation in the matter is underway, the police said. Two of them have been identified as Zakir Ahmad Bhat and Abid Hussain Wani and all three terrorists had joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group recently. This comes days after the Jammu and Kashmir Police busted a terror module of proscribed organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in Awantipora sector of Pulwama district in the Union Territory.

“Army Killed ultras in a hand to hand combat” reported ‘Times of India” (ToI) dated 7 April 20 at page six. This news was also covered by ‘Economic Times’ (ET), ‘The Hindu’ and ‘Indian Express’. On 9 April 20 the incident was reported in ‘Hindustan Times’  and ‘The Print’ giving an update after a preliminary probe.  While the five infiltrating terrorists were killed in an intense fire fight, five soldiers of the Indian Army  were also martyred. The infiltrators belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba based out in Pakistan. Three of the militants killed in the encounter were from the Kashmir valley who had crossed over to Pakistan on 12 and 27 April 2018 respectively. They were reported as missing as per the police reports.  Authorities feel that there has been an increase in terrorist activities for radicalising local population in retaliation to abrogation of Article 370 by Government of India.  Feel that the Nation should be reading and hearing more of the armed forces and their martyrdom.  Randori  is a term used in Japanese martial arts denoting  an exercise in attacks.  Do you know of ‘Randori Behak’ ?

In a sheer white expanse of snow, a group of Special Forces commandos are seen jumping off a helicopter in the mountains of Kupwara in Kashmir, an image captured at 12:45 pm on April 4, 2020. One of the soldiers stands waist deep in snow as the others emerge. This would be the last photo of the soldiers from 4 Para, the same unit which participated in the surgical strikes of 2016.

A day later, all five would be dead but not before they engaged and took out four heavily armed and highly trained terrorists in a gunfight at point blank range. The soldiers who never returned were part of at least two squads of Special Forces commandos who had been deployed to hunt down the terrorists. In the course of the next day, the two teams split up, while operating in close vicinity to each other. When it was all over, a day later on April 5, one of the Special Forces squads would be wiped out but not before they killed four terrorists in one of the most brutal encounters seen in Kashmir in recent times. The mortal remains of soldiers lay a few feet from the terrorists they eliminated, suggesting that in addition to a firefight, the commandos had fought the terrorists hand to hand.  

The Special Forces squads killed four terrorists. A fifth terrorist was intercepted by other soldiers as he made a run for the Line of Control. "One of the targets, who most likely was a guide, started to return back to the Line of Control. He came into the stops of the LoC battalion. He was neutralised immediately," says Lt General BS Raju, the Commander of the Srinagar based 15 Corps.

The operation called Randori Behak began on April 1, three days before the Special Forces commandos were called in. Soldiers deployed in the Battalion manning the defences of Kupwara repeatedly picked up and lost track of the terrorists as they infiltrated across the Line of Control. On April 3, soldiers picked up the trail at 4:30 pm and again at 6:30 pm on April 4. Aware that they had been detected, "the targets (terrorists) abandoned their heavy loads and were able to bolt down a deep gorge," says Lt General Raju. But by then, the writing may already have been on the wall. "The formation responsible for that area was able to successfully isolate the terrorists (between) the Line of Control (to the North) and the Shamshabari Range" to the South, he said. The Special Forces teams who were called in were meant to finish the operation.

"Special forces were dropped in close vicinity by helicopters," says Lt General Raju. "The Special Forces approaching the area were traversing extremely challenging terrain, very high snow levels and extremely steep slopes." On April 5, around dawn, the Special Forces squad had ventured onto a cornice, an overhanging patch of hardened snow with no underlying support. The cornice broke under the weight of two soldiers. "Two of the soldiers in the squad slid down," says a para commando who was in the second squad a short distance away and was witness to what was taking place.

As luck would have it, the soldiers fell in the exact area where the terrorists were hiding. A gunfight broke out. The location of the encounter in Kupwara. "To rescue our soldiers, the remaining squad went down," says the Commando whose identity has not been disclosed. "As soon as they went down, the terrorists opened fire. Without thinking twice, our jawans returned fire, eliminating two of the terrorists." "When I saw him (the next morning), the Subedar was lying on top of one of the terrorists," says the Commando.

Soldiers who lost their lives were Sub Sanjeev Kumar, Hav. Davendra Singh, Sepoy Bal Krishan, Sepoy Amit Kumar and Sepoy Chhatrapal Singh.

A minute of mourning and salutes to the raw courage of these great martyrs.
Jai Jawan, Jai Hind.

With great regards to our army
S. Sampathkumar
*photos and details of operation Randori Behak from NDTV.

Fascism, liberalism and upholding human rights - the Commie way

வரலாறு மிக முக்கியம் அமைச்சரே ! ~  I do not see political debates in TV – mostly because some favourites of  channels would use clichés ‘fascism’; worker’s unity, human rights and more –  perhaps not knowing or knowing yet choosing to ignore (they knew their audience would never know) that the party to which they are affiliated is the biggest killer of liberty and voice of common man.

Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarianism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society   Zindabad is a suffix in Odia, Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and Bengali of Persian origin which is used as a shout of encouragement or as a cheer, and literally means "Long live [idea or person]". Sad to observe that ‘workers unity zindabad’ reverberated in many small scale industries in TN industrial estates – now after 3 or 4 decades, the units have turned sick, the employers could not sustain, employees lost the job and the industry itself would present a pale shadow of what it was – some self-inflicted by those protesters !!  - Here is some history of what happened to ‘uprisings by students’ and those protesting for human rights in the land of communism – China, from where Corona spread everywhere.

The Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace), is a monumental gate in the centre of Beijing, widely used as a national symbol of China. First built during the Ming dynasty in 1420, Tiananmen was the entrance to the Imperial City, within which the Forbidden City was located. Tiananmen is located to the north of Tiananmen Square, separated from the plaza by Chang'an Avenue.

The Treaty of Versailles was the most important of the peace treaties that brought World War I to an end. The Treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919 in Versailles, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which had directly led to the war. The other Central Powers on the German side signed separate treaties.  Although the armistice, signed on 11 Nov 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 Oct 1919.

Hong Kong has prohibited a planned annual march to mourn the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and effectively banned a candlelit annual vigil that has taken place without interruption for 30 years, the organizer said Thursday. The Hong Kong police banned a march and two rallies that were to take place on May 31, citing the risk of COVID-19 infection, said Richard Tsoi, spokesman for the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. The government has also effectively banned the vigil for the Tiananmen Square massacre, which has taken place annually since 1990 and been attended by tens of thousands, sometimes more than 100,000, people.  Tsoi said while police have yet to formally respond to an application for the annual vigil, to be held in Victoria Park, they were not optimistic. Tsoi expressed his group’s dissatisfaction with the government’s decision.

The Tiananmen Square protests or the Tiananmen Square Incident, commonly known as the June Fourth Incident were student-led demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing during 1989. The popular national movement inspired by the Beijing protests is sometimes called the '89 Democracy Movement.  The protests started on April 15 and were forcibly suppressed on June 4 when the government declared martial law and sent the military to occupy central parts of Beijing. In what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, troops with assault rifles and tanks fired at the demonstrators and those trying to block the military's advance into Tiananmen Square. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more wounded.  Ever heard an Indian Communist talk on human rights of those students ?

Set off by the death of pro-reform Communist general secretary Hu Yaobang in April 1989, amid the backdrop of rapid economic development and social changes in post-Mao China, the protests reflected anxieties about the country's future in the popular consciousness and among the political elite. The reforms of the 1980s had led to a nascent market economy which benefited some people but seriously affected others, and the one-party political system also faced a challenge of legitimacy. Common grievances at the time included inflation, corruption, limited preparedness of graduates for the new economy, and restrictions on political participation. The students called for greater accountability, constitutional due process, democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, although they were highly disorganized and their goals varied.  At the height of the protests, about 1 million people assembled in the Square.

Just in case you thought the iron-hand bloodshed and killing of political leaders of 1989 is what Tiananmen is all about – you are suddenly mistaken, there is more – for 1989 is not alone.  The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement which grew out of student protests in Beijing on 4 May 1919.

Students protested against the Chinese government's weak response to the Treaty of Versailles, they especially protested against its decision to allow Japan to retain territories in Shandong that had been surrendered by Germany after the Siege of Tsingtao in 1914. The demonstrations sparked nation-wide protests and spurred an upsurge in Chinese nationalism, a shift towards political mobilization, a shift away from cultural activities, a move towards a mass base and a move away from traditional intellectual and political elites. Many radical, political, and social leaders of the next five decades emerged at this time. In a broader sense, the term "May Fourth Movement" is often used to refer to the period during 1915–1921 more often called the New Culture Movement.

The Western Allies dominated the meeting at Versailles, and paid little heed to Chinese demands. Britain and France were primarily interested in punishing Germany. Although the United States promoted Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points and the ideals of self-determination, they were unable to advance these ideals in the face of stubborn resistance by David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau and the U.S. Congress. American advocacy of self-determination at the League of Nations was attractive to Chinese intellectuals, but their failure to follow through was seen as a betrayal.

Learning history is important ~ more important is to present only the side that suits and call others Fascists !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Islamabad Court orders relocation of Paki elephant

But for the elephant news, I may not be reading about Cher !  - Cher's hit song with Sonny, “I got you Babe,” will not be out of place in her love story with the loneliest elephant in Islamabad. Her tweet “I wish to thank the Pakistani government'' (heart emoji) late on Wednesday night went viral.  Cher ( Cherilyn Sarkisian)  is an American singer, actress and television personality.  Cher gained popularity in 1965 as one-half of the folk rock husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher after their song "I Got You Babe" peaked at number one on the US and UK charts. By the end of 1967, they had sold 40 million records worldwide and had become, according to Time magazine, rock's "it" couple.

Archaeologists have discovered the nearly complete skeleton of an enormous, now-extinct elephant that lived about 300,000 years ago in what is now the northern German town of Schöningen, according to new research. Although this elephant — the Eurasian straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus) —died likely of old age, meat-eaters promptly devoured it; bite marks on its bones suggest that carnivores feasted on the dead beast, and flint flakes and bone tools found near the elephant indicate that humans scavenged whatever was left, the researchers said.

Elephants are interesting animals. Their size is awesome, and their strength is incredible. They are intelligent and affectionate beings. Amazingly, even with their large size, they can walk silently. You might not even notice them passing by!  A baby elephant is called a calf. It weighs about 250 pounds at birth and stands about three feet tall. Calves can't see very well at first, but they can recognize their mothers by touch, scent, and sound.  Baby elephants stay very close to their mothers for the first couple of months. The calves drink their mother's milk for about two years, sometimes longer. They drink up to 3 gallons of milk a day! At about four months old, they also begin eating some plants, like adult elephants, but they continue to need as much milk from their mother. They keep drinking milk for up to ten years!

The news is - caravans of elephants and mahouts have embarked on a long journey through the hills and forests of northern Thailand. They would have to walk for days before reaching their native villages in remote areas along the Thai-Myanmar border inhabited by the Karen – an ethnic group with centuries-old tradition of keeping and taming elephants. It is a journey of uncertainty – both for the tribesmen and their animals left unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nobody knows if they will be able to return to their old workplace, as dozens of elephant camps which once attracted coachloads of tourists all year round are now shut due to the international travel ban. “Tourists disappeared when the COVID-19 outbreak started. Everything shut down. Everybody was shocked but not as much as the elephants' owners,” said Sangdeaun ‘Lek’ Chailert, Thailand’s leading animal activist and president of the Save Elephant Foundation.

The news is about an elephant in Pakistan. Read that Pakistan has no elephant habitat and has presence of the pachyderm in its zoo.  Pak Court has ordered the release of Kaavan the 'mentally tormented' bull elephant to a sanctuary after 35 years of being beaten and kept in a tiny pen in Pakistani zoo.  An online petition for Kaavan the elephant had gained over 280,000 signatures.

Media reports suggest that local and international animal rights organizations launched a campaign to free Kaavan the elephant a year ago after reports that zookeepers were beating him and denying him food. The Islamabad High Court  ordered wildlife officials to consult with Sri Lanka, where the Asian elephant came from, to find him a 'suitable sanctuary' within 30 days. The plight of Kaavan, a mentally tormented bull elephant confined to a small pen in an Islamabad Zoo for nearly three decades, has galvanized a rare animal rights campaign in Pakistan

Animal rights groups called on Pakistan to relocate Kaavan to an animal sanctuary. But the Capital Development Authority, the local agency in charge of managing the zoo, had refused.   'The pain and suffering of Kaavan must come to an end by relocating him to an appropriate elephant sanctuary, in or outside the country,' the court ordered, criticising the zoo for failing to meet the animal's needs for the past three decades.  The court has also ordered dozens of other animals - including brown bears, lions and birds - to be relocated temporarily while the zoo improves its standards.

Elephants are gregarious by nature, and males can become aggressive when they are separated from the herd. Kaavan, who was brought to the zoo from Sri Lanka in the mid-1980s, grew even more unruly when the female elephant he was being kept with died in 2012. Activists say caretakers responded to his aggression by chaining his legs, beating him and confining him to an enclosure that was far too small.  An activist,  who visits the zoo regularly, says the pen can reach 40 degrees Celsius (100 F) in the summer, and that the elephant is given little water to cool down. 'It is cruel,' he said.  The caretaker of the elephant too was quoted as saying -   'I have hardly seen him happy.'  

The Capital Development Authority, the local agency in charge of managing the zoo, had originally refused the transfer - perhaps fearing it would lose visitors. Instead, it had worked on bringing in another female elephant, but that ran to issues of permits, imports, costs and logistics.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Thursday, May 21, 2020

the assassination that shook the Nation ! ~ this day 29 years ago !!

Brutal killings have been part of History -    ever read about the Battle of Samugarh,  a decisive battle in the struggle for the throne during the Mughal war of succession (1658–1659) between the sons of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan after the emperor's serious illness in  1657.  It was fought between his sons Dara Shikoh (the eldest son and heir apparent) and his two younger brothers Aurangzeb and Murad Baksh (third and fourth sons of Shah Jahan).

There have been political assassinations too – and you may not have read about : - James Garfield and Charles J. Guiteau

What we failed to read and what should have been part of History in schools was the killing by Madanlal Dhingra of Curzon Wylie in 1909 in London.  William Hutt Curzon Wyllie KCIE CVO,  was a British Indian army officer, and later an official of the British Indian Government. Over a career spanning three decades, Curzon Wyllie rose to be Lieutenant Colonel in the British Indian Army and occupied a number of administrative and diplomatic posts.

On 6 Feb 1965, he was on his way from Delhi to Chandigarh when he was waylaid near Rasoi village, Sonipat district, and shot dead along with his personal assistant — ex Chief Minister and a man who participated in Indian freedom struggle.  Partap Singh Kairon (1901 – 1965)  was the Chief Minister of the Punjab province (then comprising Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh), and is widely acknowledged as the architect of post-Independence Punjab Province.  He was jailed twice by the British Empire, once for five years for organizing protests against British rule. His political influence and views are still considered to dominate politics in Punjab.

On this day in 1939,  the National War Memorial (titled The Response)  a tall, granite memorial arch with accreted bronze sculptures in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, designed by Vernon March and first dedicated by King George VI in 1939 was opened. Originally built to commemorate the Canadians who died in the First World War, it was in 1982 rededicated to also include those killed in the Second World War and Korean War and again in 2014 to add the dead from the Second Boer War and War in Afghanistan, as well as all Canadians killed in all conflicts past and future. It now serves as the pre-eminent war memorial     ~ 21st May is remembered by Indians for different reasons though !

One may not concur with his political views and ideologies but for sure would be outraged by the way he was eliminated.

He was born in  1944, sent to London, joined engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge, but did not obtain a degree. He returned to India in 1966,  became a member of the Flying Club, where he was trained as a pilot. In 1970, he was employed as a pilot by Air India.    On 23 June 1980, his  younger brother  died unexpectedly in an aeroplane crash.  70 members of the Congress party signed a proposal and went to Indira, urging Rajiv to enter politics and he plunged into politics inevitably after the sad assassination in 31.10.1984 of Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi.

Politics continues over the convicts in former PM  Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination case. Perhaps his own party too – which once stated that they had forgiven the killers and are silent on the death of League Munusamy and 18 others on that fateful day.  His rule was marred by the politically sensitive Rs 64-crore Bofors pay-off case.  The Bofors deal, signed in 1986, was believed to be one of primary reasons for the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress' defeat in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections.

August 15, 1991. It was a pleasant morning in Konanakunte, people did not know that the day would change their lives .. ..!  1991 too was an election year – held in 2 phases – each had a different impact.  Maragatham Chandrasekar was to win by a margin of 180572 and the man lost his life campaigning for her this day.   

Visitors to Chennai would not miss the landmark as they come out Central Railway station – the imposing  Government General Hospital, visited by more than 12000 outpatients everyday.   This premier institution dates back to 1664, started  as a small Hospital to treat the sick soldiers of the East India Company. It was the untiring inspired efforts of Sir Edward Winter who was the agent of the company that materialised in the first British Hospital at Madras. In its early days the Hospital was housed at the Fort St. George and in the next 25 years grew into a formal medical facility. Governor Sir. Elihy Yale was instrumental in the development of the Hospital and gave it a new premises with in the Fort in 1690.  In 1842 the Hospital opened its doors to Indians.     In the 19th century, medical college got annexed to it and in 2011, the hospital was renamed after Rajiv Gandhi, sadly because his body was brought here after his assassination in May 1991.

This place (Sriperumpudur) is famous for being the birthplace of our greatest Acharyar – Sri Ramanujar ~ life has changed a lot in the past couple of decades after that fatefulday…..  one may not ardently believe in ‘fate or destiny’…….in the prelude to General elections, there were far too varied predictions …… the National Front was still nursing some hopes, there was a wave predicting return of Rajiv Gandhi.  In that melee, was this person, who had retired from active politics  – not any ordinary person for sure~ a man who had been the CM too…. in 1984 in the aftermath of assassination of Indira Gandhi saw routing of all political parties.  Bharatiya Janata Party could win only 2 seats. One in Mehsana and the other was in South ~ the Hanamkonda constituency where M. Chandupatla Janga Reddy of BJP defeated his nearest Congress rival by 54198 votes.  The man who lost so at a time when Congress swept to power was 70 by the 1991 elections, could not get a ticket and had chosen to retire to peace…….. destiny thought otherwise….. he became the PM in 1991 – Sri PV Narasimha Rao.

The night of 21st  May 1991 changed it all ~ on a campaign trail, he arrived from Vizag, garlanded Nehru at Kathipara, even the Press chose not to travel along for that meeting at Sriperumpudur – and rest is bloody history – the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.  About two hours after arriving in Madras), Rajiv Gandhi was driven by motorcade in a white Ambassador car to Sriperumbudur, stopping along the way at a few other election campaigning venues. When he reached a campaign rally in Sriperumbudur, he got out of his car and began to walk towards the dais where he would deliver a speech. Along the way, he was garlanded by many well-wishers, Congress party workers and school children. The assassin, Dhanu, approached and greeted him. She then bent down to touch his feet and detonated an RDX explosive-laden belt tucked below her dress at exactly 10:10 PM.  Rajiv, his assassin and 14 others were killed in the explosion that followed, along with 43 others who were grievously injured. .. .. a very sad day as the Nation lost its ex-Prime Minister assassinated in his own land and a host of innocent Tamilians who had gathered too died in that blast.

Beeroota, a tiny village near picturesque Muthathi on the banks of the Cauvery,  came to news as it was here  LTTE cadres including Sivarasan hid themselves  after the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. The village also played a prominent role in the gunning down of Sivarasan (the ‘one-eyed-jack’ mastermind behind the assassination); Dhanu alias Anbu; and others, in Bengaluru’s Konanakunte in Aug 15,  1991. With just three houses and some huts, nearly three decades ago, Beeroota was one of the most backward villages in the State when the LTTE arrived.

Nation sadly remembers and pays tribute to Rajiv Gandhi

1.     Wijemuni Vijitha Rohana de Silva was a Sri Lankan sailor and an astrologer. On 30 July 1987 at President's House, Colombo, he assaulted Rajiv Gandhi while he was taking the guard of honour. .  Years  later, he  contested a general election under the Sihala Urumaya party in 2000.   Vijitha Rohana faced a court martial headed by K.R.L. Perera, Group Captain Buddhi Siriwardhen and Colonel Vijaya Wimalaratne. He was charged with attempted murder and acting contrary to navy discipline and insulting a state leader.  The defence implied that Rohana was not aiming to kill since he could have stabbed the premier with the bayonet affixed to his Lee–Enfield rifle at the time. The court martial found him guilty of attempted culpable homicide not amounting to murder and insulting the Indian Prime Minister. He was sentenced to six years in prison, however President Premadasa gave him a presidential pardon after two and a half years.  He later became an astrologer and claimed that President Maithripala Sirisena would die by 26 January 2017. This was seen as a part of a conspiracy to assassinate the president and he was arrested again.

2.     Charles Julius Guiteau (1841 – 1882)  was an American writer and lawyer who assassinated United States President James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881. Guiteau falsely believed he had played a major role in Garfield's victory, for which he should be rewarded with a consulship. He was so offended by the Garfield administration's rejections of his applications to serve in Vienna or Paris that he decided to kill Garfield, and shot him at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. Garfield died two months later from infections related to the wounds. In January 1882, Guiteau was sentenced to death for the crime, and was hanged five months later.  Guiteau's trial was one of the first high-profile cases in the United States where a defense based on a claim of temporary insanity was considered. Guiteau vehemently insisted that while he had been legally insane at the time of the shooting (because God had taken away his free will), he was not really medically insane, which was one of the major causes of the rift between him and his defense lawyers. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st May 2019.