Wednesday, August 12, 2020

World Elephant day ~ Chirakkal Kalidasan

Somewhere saw that today is ‘International Elephants Day’ ~ Westerners create and celebrate days . .. for us things are different – our love for animals especially elephants is of a different class – Triplicanites loved temple elephant Azhwan.  There are legends about Elephants- movies, songs,  video albums, even statues, FB pages and more on - Guruvayur Kesavan,  Thiruvambadi Sivasundar, Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, Mangalamkunnu Karnan, Chirakkal Kalidasan, Puthupally kesavan, Pampadi Rajan , Thrikkadavoor SivaRaju, Mangalamkunnu Ayyappan. Cherupplassery Rajasekaran,  Cherupplassery Parthan, Paramekavu Sri Padmanabhan, Thiruvambady Chandrasekaran, Guruvayur Nandan, .. to name a few of the elite tuskers of Kerala !  -  Though may not be the rule – most Temple elephants in Tamilnadu are lonely ie., there would only one in the Temple and mostly they are females : Srirangam Andal, SriVilliputhur – Jayamalyatha; Sriperumpudur Kothai;  Thiruvanaikaval Akila, Madurai Meenakshi – Parvathi;  Thiruchendur Devayani;  Thiruvidaimaruthur Gomathi;  Nellaiyappar Ganthimathi;  Rameswaram Ramaletchumi;  Sivagangai Sornavalli; Thirukkurungudi Valli;   Azhwarthirunagari Adhinathar thirukovil – Adhi Nayaki; Thirukkolur – Kumudavalli; Irrattai Thiruppathi Lakshmi .. .. to name a few.

Elephants are not new to tinseldom. In  ‘Nalla Neram’, a MGR starrer  released in 1972, the storyline was around choice between love (his wife) and friendship (his loyal and devoted pet elephants). .. .. one of those elephants was Rathi, who lived a long live till 77.    She had shared tinseldom with MGR, Rajnikanth and Rajesh Khanna.  Rathi starred alongside MGR and Chief minister Jayalalithaa in 1971 released film - Neerum Nerupum, directed by P Neelakandan.   After a 6 year hiatus, Rathi starred in Rajnikant’s  ‘Annai Oru Alayam’ where Sripriya was the heroine.


Sure you would have seen Bahubali.  Baahubali 2: The Conclusion -  directed by S. S. Rajamouli and written by his father K. V. Vijayendra Prasad starring  Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka,  Tamannaah, Ramya Krishna, was released in 2017.   The film is set in medieval India and follows the sibling rivalry between Amarendra Baahubali and Bhallaladeva; the latter conspires against the former and has him killed by Kattappa.  In part1, the film had an iconic moment when Shivdu scoops the giant shivlinga from the ground to place it under water and keep his mother away from suffering.   In the second part,  the drama unfolded with  Prabhas’s entrance where he fights with an elephant to protect Shivagami.    The scene was put in perspective of Baahubali’s immense strength and love for his mother.  Though it was all graphics, Rajamouli shot scenes of a famous elephants of Kerala.

Chirakkal is a census town in Kannur district in the state of Kerala, India. It is 7 km from Kannur town.  From the dense forests of Karnataka, Manniserry Hari, an elephant lover brought Kalidasan to Kerala. Within a limited time frame, this elephant became famous among the people with its unique physique. And with a height of 314 cm, it is even known as ‘junior thechikod’ with its stature that resembles Thechikottukavu Ramachandran,  Chirakkal Kalidasan is a legend.  It is Kalidasu that was part of the film ‘Bahubali 2’.   

On August 12, 2012, the inaugural World Elephant Day was launched to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants. The elephant is loved, revered and respected by people and cultures around the world, yet we balance on the brink of seeing the last of this magnificent creature.  Conceived by the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation and filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark in 2011, the first international Elephant Day was celebrated on August 12, 2012. The aim of the day is to sensitise people about better treatment of captive elephants and against the illegal poaching and trade of the jumbos for ivory.

Given the latest incident of the death of the pregnant elephant in Kerala after allegedly consuming a cracker-stuffed fruit, death of elephants in some Indian states due to human-elephant conflicts, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar highlighted the measures to curb the same. The Vice President too pledged his support to ‘Haathi Hamara Saathi’. On the eve of World Elephant Day, Javadekar launched a beta version of the national portal on human-elephant conflict called ‘Surakhsya’. He also released a document on the best practices for ensuring the human-elephant coexistence. Sharing a video he tweeted, “India has nearly 60% of wild Asian elephants not just because of strong wildlife laws, but because we Indians revere, are more tolerant & affectionate towards animals.   

The song that goes with the lines "Indrapala padasheershamoo" casts the elephant, Kaalidasan, as the hero.  The video draws out the true allure of Kaalidasan and when combined with a melodious song and stunning visuals depicting the Kerala culture like Pooram, Theyyam; the near five-minute music video is a real treat for viewers. Jinodkumar Pillai and Vibin Vinayan presents a thrilling video on the famous elephant of Kerala. Elephant lovers are still  complaining for not featuring Kaalidasan's mahout Sharat (Mambi), reportedly he was  too shy to face the camera.   Kaalidasan has a popular Facebook page and fan clubs in Kerala.

Even as we celebrate days and hail elephants, hundreds of them are dying elsewhere due to human greed for their tuskers and somewhat mysteriously in Botswana. Between May and July of this year, the remains of hundreds of elephants were discovered near the Okavango panhandle, in northwest Botswana. They were often found close to waterholes and distressing photographs showed they had crashed headfirst into the earth, indicating a sudden death. Other sickly elephants were emaciated, weak, and barely able to walk. Close to 400 of them have died.  Deliberate poisoning was initially suspected due to the ongoing conflict between farmers and elephants. However, this was later discounted as carrion feeders such as vultures were unaffected. Botswana is home to around 130,000 elephants, Africa's highest population of the animals, according to the BBC. Around 10,000 of those live in the grassy Okavango Delta, which floods seasonally.

There are Western and African countries where rich can hunt and kill elephants – they pay the Govt the requisite fee, given license to kill – armed with sophisticated weaponry, they track and kill elephants and then carry them home as trophies.  Understand that in  South Africa, the laws are basically, if one owns land, they owns the animals there too and hence hunting is common.    In the name of Game hunting – they call it sport, and kill unarmed animals with machine guns – this is no game, but savagery. PETA or anyother organization claiming to fight for animals, first should fight this organized brutal killing before raising any voice on elephants being tortured in India.

Before concluding there is a famous lie – that Mahakavi Subramanya Barathiyar was killed by Triplicane temple elephant.  Understand that somewhere in June 1921, frail Barathi who had been haunted and subjected to harsh treatments in jail was pushed by the elephant.  He did fell down, but survived – toured later, spoke at a conference in Karungalpalayam on July 31 and breathed his last on Sept. 12 (early morning of) 1921.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


Photos of Chirakkal Kalidasan taken from web /FB page.

Vladimir Putin, Sputnik in news ~ as Global Scientists pour scorn on new vaccine !!

The overall number of global coronavirus cases has crossed the 20 million-mark – 20,521,644  to be specific, while the death toll has reached 745,918. The US accounted for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities at 5,085,821 and 162,919, respectively.  The World is looking forward to the known remedy – a vaccine, and yet when one was announced, Scientists have poured scorn !!

Katerina Tikhonova  is a Russian acrobatic dancer, and director of two initiatives at Moscow State University: the National Intellectual Development Foundation (NIDF) and the National Intellectual Reserve Centre (NIRC).  Her sister is in news! More so because – she has had immunization with the latest vaccine ! and she is the daughter of Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (1952) is a   former officer of the KGB who has served as President of Russia since 2012, previously holding the position from 1999 until 2008. He was also the Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.

Putin was born in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) and studied law at Leningrad State University, graduating in 1975. Putin worked as a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, before resigning in 1991 to begin a political career. He later moved to Moscow in 1996 to join the administration of President Boris Yeltsin. He served as Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Secretary of the Security Council, before being appointed as Prime Minister in Aug 1999. After the resignation of Yeltsin, Putin became Acting President, and less than four months later was elected outright to his first term as president and was reelected in 2004.

During his first tenure as president, the Russian economy grew for eight straight years, with GDP measured by purchasing power increasing by 72%, real incomes increased by a factor of 2.5, real wages more than tripled; unemployment and poverty more than halved and the Russians' self-assessed life satisfaction rose significantly.  The growth was a result of a five-fold increase in the price of oil and gas which constitute the majority of Russian exports, recovery from the post-Communist depression and financial crises, a rise in foreign investment,and prudent economic and fiscal policies.

He is seen as a charismatic macho man – few years back, he was  awarded the highest rank in taekwondo, giving him honorary grandmaster status. It meant that the fit President attained a higher ranking than former US martial artist Chuck Norris. The actor has an eight-degree black belt, while Mr Putin has a ninth-degree. Putin also   holds a black belt in Judo and has been awarded an eighth Dan in the martial art by the International Judo Federation.

Now read the article in MailOnline – the caption itself shows the prejudice – ‘Global scientists pour scorn on Putin's 'reckless, foolish and unethical' claim that Russia has won Covid-19 vaccine race with 'Sputnik V' jab already given to his daughter which he claims offers 'two years' immunity' but has not been fully tested.  Vladimir Putin was savaged by scientists today for his 'reckless and foolish' claim that Russia has developed the world's first effective coronavirus vaccine.

Putin says the vaccine offers 'sustainable immunity' against Covid-19 and says his daughter has already been given the jab, with Russia eyeing up mass injections as soon as October - causing widespread alarm because it has not yet passed clinical trials.   One scientist blasted Putin's move as 'unethical' because an 'improperly tested vaccine' could have 'disastrous' effects on public health, while others warned that there is 'no data' to tell whether the Russian vaccine is effective. Another expert warned that 'the damage from release of any vaccine that was less than safe and effective would exacerbate our current problems insurmountably'.  While small trials can show whether a vaccine is likely to be safe, the usually months-long Phase III tests which measure its effectiveness have not yet taken place, while the WHO has not yet granted approval for the jab.

Nonetheless, Russia claims that 20 countries have already ordered a billion doses of the vaccine, which has been named Sputnik V after the former Soviet space satellites. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has already struck a deal for millions of doses while India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia have previously expressed an interest in the drug, according to Russian officials. The Kremlin and its state-controlled media have touted Russian scientists as global pioneers and turned the vaccine race into a matter of national prestige - leading to fears that safety could be compromised for the sake of Russia's image.

Putin said one of his daughters Maria  and Katerina had been injected with a coronavirus vaccine. Reports in Russia say it was the younger Katerina who was inoculated. The Russian jab is a type called a viral vector vaccine, meaning it uses  another virus to carry the immune agent - damaged parts of the real coronavirus, which can trigger a reaction but not cause an infection - into human cells. Putin's vaccine uses an adenovirus, a type of virus best known for causing the common cold, which has been weakened so it cannot trigger illness. Oxford University's vaccine candidate uses the same method. Russia claims the jab sped through early trials on monkeys and humans, known as Phase I and II trials, and was safe and effective at producing antibodies against Covid-19.

According to some reports, there  are currently 19 vaccines that have been tested for the ability to generate antibody (Phase I), another 11 that have passed this stage and gone on to expended testing (Phase II), eight at Phase III and one vaccine approved for limited use.  Speaking at a government meeting today, Putin claimed that the vaccine has undergone proper testing and been proven safe to use. 'I would like to repeat that it has passed all the necessary tests,' he said. 'The most important thing is to ensure full safety of using the vaccine and its efficiency.' 

Putin said his daughter had a temperature of 100F (38C) on the day of the first vaccine injection, which then dropped to 99F (37C) on the following day.  After the second shot she again had a slight increase in temperature, but then it was all over, Putin said.  He did not reveal whether it was his daughter Maria or Katerina who received the vaccine. However, reports in Russia said it was the younger Katerina who was inoculated. Further reports last month claimed that some of Russia's business and political elite had been given access to experimental vaccines as long ago as April.  The Russian president said he hoped the country would soon start mass producing the vaccine.  Russia has suffered nearly 900,000 coronavirus cases, but the daily infection rate has been slowly falling for several months.  Billionaire tycoons and government officials began getting jabs developed by the state-run Gamaleya Institute in Moscow in the spring, sources told Bloomberg.

Sputnik or спутник literally means 'fellow traveller', but has held a special place in Russian history. Sputnik was the first-ever artificial Earth satellite launched mankind. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 Oct 1957. At the time, Sputnik was an invention way ahead of its time and had left the USSR’s then adversary USA in a state of shock. Sputnik gave birth to the space age. The successful launch shocked the world, giving the former Soviet Union the distinction of putting the first human-made object into space.   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar



Tuesday, August 11, 2020

During lockdown ~ SYMA conducts Online Essay Competition for School Children

Year 2020 has unfolded newer threats ~ the dreaded Corona Virus (Covid 19) has changed the way people live.  From Mar 24, the Country is under lockdown – and by adopting saner methods, the spread has been somewhat controlled.  We look positively forward to a happier ending, perhaps the evolution of effective vaccine and the threat getting totally contained, if not eliminated.

Today, there is news that the Govt is mulling ways to re-open schools that have been closed ever since March when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.  As we all know, TN Govt (as alo other States) cancelled examinations – and there is some news that schools may not be reopened before Dec 2020 !   

SYMA has an unsaturated desire for serving the Society.  SYMA [Srinivas Youngmen’s Association]  has been in the field of Social service since 1977.  In 2019, we prospered to having a new bigger premises for our Medical centre and started providing multi-specialty treatment  ~   We have : General physician consultation and free medicines (Rs. 2 since 1989), Blood analysis lab, Gynecological consultation, Physiotherapy, Dentistry, Eye clinic – all under one roof – added private Doctor for ENT ; Pediatrics   and Ortho. We have another initiative – providing quality educational support to poor students – SYMA Growth since 2008.  

Sad, things are at a stand-still as we could not continue the services during Covid 19. During Covid stressful times, everyone is undergoing different types of stress – of health, of being alone, of not being able to do what they had been doing normally, office pressures, work related; financial troubles; family related and more. This is testing time for students too – being at home, not pursuing education.

SYMA mooted an idea of ensuring connect with students and keeping them busy.  We initiated an Online essay competition seeking ‘Hand-written essays of not more than 500 words’ from students of 8th to 12th standards on the theme – *‘Future of Education System post Covid 19’*.  The aim was to keep the students engaged, make them stay positive  and if some real good ideas emerge – the same can be shared with Authorities as well.   Since it was during lockdown – it was a technology driven contest.  Candidates had to register, would receive a link, download and upload their essays on line.   We are really happy in sharing that though this contest was open for a fortnight only – it attracted 90 entries.  Students from far and wide from rural Tamil Nadu, Bangalore, Mumbai, Varanasi and other countries (Indian children living there) – Dubai & USA. 

The contest was conceptualized by our TJ Ramani & Sanjeevi Ragunathan, entirely handled brilliantly by Mrs Jayasudha Sanjeevi.  Essel Narasimha, TA Sathya Narayanan, Mrs Anuradha, TA Sampathkumar, Mrs Saranya & S. Sampathkumar did the initial appraisal – while the final analysis was done by famous History novelist writer, Kalachakra TA Narasimhan, Managing Editor, The Hindu.  Special thanks are due to Mr TAN for picking up the winners in a very short time.  In his words, “ the winners have  written extremely well;  they have ploughed deep into the topic and analysed seriously without eyeing the prize. In fact, when I read these three essays, I could sense that they were more concerned about the future of  education, than in winning the prizes. Using flowery language and ornamental words does not help to make an essay readable. The points should flow like a river and mingle with the ocean of thoughts. And these three have excelled in that.”

Hearty Congratulations to the winners :

1. L. Abhinav (Kendriya Vidhyalaya,  Adyar)

2. Rupali Rai  (Central Hindu Girls School, Varanasi )

3. Amoha Venkataraman (Brigade School, Bengaluru ) 

There are special prizes too – on a different note Ms. Sriamathi R is selected as winner for presenting her essay in Tamil.  She is from Kamaraj School, Chidambaram.

SYMA thanks the winners, parents, our patrons, Judges, Mr TA Narasimhan and all others involved in this.  A Big Thank you to all ~ Corona may keep people inside homes, yet there is always opportunity to connect and stay optimistic, constructive and confident

With regards – S. Sampathkumar,

Secretary, SYMA






Monday, August 10, 2020

Election results are out in Belarus

General Election results are out ! ~  Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko   who has served as President of Belarus since the establishment of the office on 20th  July 1994, appears to have won again. Before launching his political career, Lukashenko worked as director of a collective farm (kolkhoz), and served in the Soviet Border Troops and in the Soviet Army. He was the only deputy of the Belarusian parliament to vote against the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union. Lukashenko heads an authoritarian regime in Belarus.  There are allegation sthat elections are not free and fair, opponents of the regime are repressed, and the media is not free.

Belarus   formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Poland,    Lithuania and Latvia. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forest.  Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk (11th to 14th centuries), the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire. In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, different states arose competing for legitimacy amidst the Civil War, ultimately ending in the rise of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (Byelorussian SSR) which became a founding constituent republic of the Soviet Union in 1922. Belarus lost almost half of its territory to Poland after the Polish–Soviet War (1919–1921).  The republic was redeveloped in the post-war years.   The parliament of the republic proclaimed the sovereignty of Belarus on 27 July 1990, and during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Belarus declared independence on 25 August 1991.

Alexander Lukashenko has served as the country's first president since 1994. Belarus has been labeled "Europe's last dictatorship" by some Western journalists, on account of the country's poor human rights record and Lukashenko's self-described authoritarian style of government. Lukashenko continued a number of Soviet-era policies, such as state ownership of large sections of the economy.  Over 70% of Belarus's population of 9.49 million resides in urban areas. More than 80% of the population is ethnic Belarusian, with sizable minorities of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians. Since a referendum in 1995, the country has had two official languages: Belarusian and Russian.   

This photo of Tsikhanouskaya with Maria Kolesnikova, Babaryka's campaign chief, has become a symbol of her campaign. The main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has rejected the official results that gave President Alexander Lukashenko a landslide victory and her team has vowed to stay in the country to campaign for a change of power. “I will believe my own eyes – the majority was for us,” Svetlana told reporters in the capital, Minsk, on Monday, after widespread reports of vote-tampering in Sunday’s election. Tikhanovskaya said she considered herself the election winner not Lukashenko, and described the election as massively rigged. Her aides said the opposition wanted a vote recount at polling stations where there were problems. They also said the opposition wanted to hold talks with authorities about how to bring about a peaceful change of power.

The country’s election commission reported on Monday that Lukashenko won 80.23% of the vote while Tikhanovskaya took 9.9%, despite a popular wave of support for the opposition candidate, whose political rallies have drawn some of the country’s largest crowds since the days of the Soviet Union. Similar, preliminary results released on Sunday prompted unprecedented protests in cities across the country, posing the greatest threat to Lukashenko – often referred to as Europe’s last dictator – since he came to power 26 years ago.  There were bloody clashes as riot police used rubber bullets, flash grenades, teargas and water cannon to suppress demonstrators. Police detained about 3,000 people, Russia’s RIA news agency cited the Belarusian interior ministry as saying. Further protests are expected on Monday night.

Lukashenko’s victory was quickly endorsed by Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China. The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, stopped short of congratulating Lukashenko and in a statement called for restraint. Activists said they had reports dozens of people were injured in the fighting and one person may have been killed after being hit by a police van driving at speed. Belarus’s interior ministry on Monday denied anyone had been killed. The Guardian could not immediately verify the death.   Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European commission, called for Belarus to publish accurate results and condemned the violence against opposition supporters. “Harassment and violent repression of peaceful protesters has no place in Europe,” she said. Lukashenko called the protesters “sheep” under foreign control who were “wanting to spoil the holiday”.

Analysts said it was the deepest crisis Lukashenko had faced in his career. He was already facing unprecedented anger over his handling of the economy and a bungled coronavirus response. Before the elections he jailed opposition candidates and targeted foreign allies, accusing Moscow of sending mercenaries to destabilise the country. Internet connectivity has been significantly disrupted since Sunday.

Tikhanovskaya was initially a stand-in candidate for her husband, a popular YouTuber jailed earlier in the year. She has grown into an effective campaigner, attracting more than 63,000 people to a rally last month in Minsk, and thousands more in small cities and towns usually dominated by Lukashenko. She has been joined onstage by two other female politicians in a “trio” that has transformed the image of the country’s male-dominated politics.

The woman at the start – ‘Yuliya Nesterenko’ is a famous sprinter from Belarus. Nesterenko won the women's 100 metres at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens in 10.93 seconds, becoming the first non-black and first non-U.S. athlete to win the event since the 1980 Summer Olympics. She ran all four times (two qualification rounds, semifinal and final) under 11 seconds. After the Olympic games in Athens she took an almost year-long break. At the 2005 World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki she reached the final in the 100 metres, though came only 8th (11.13 seconds).  At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Nesterenko competed in the 100m again. In her first round heat she came 2nd behind Kim Gevaert in a time of 11.40 to advance to the second round. There she improved down to 11.14 seconds, but finished 4th, normally causing elimination, however hers was the fastest losing time and enough to qualify for the semifinals. She came close to reaching the final to defend her title with a time of 11.26, 5th place, while the first four athletes qualified for the final.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar



Louvre museum opened this day, 227 years ago !

Madame Récamier, gracefully reclined on a meridienne with her head turned towards the viewer, is dressed in a white antique-style sleeveless dress and is barefoot. The room is empty except for the antique-style sofa, stool and candelabra. She is seen from some distance, so her face is quite small, but this is less a portrait of a person than of an ideal of feminine elegance. Madame Récamier (1777-1849), although then only twenty-three, was already one of the most admired women of her time. The daughter of a notary, she epitomized the social ascension of the new post-revolutionary elite. Her husband, older than her, had become one of the principal financial backers of the First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte. .. one of the works on display !

Masks are compulsory, a one-way system is in place and numbers of visitors will be controlled.  There will also be a spaced queue to view Leonardo Da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa painting. Some 10 million people come to what is thought to be the world's most visited museum each year, the majority from abroad.   Museums around the world are struggling because of the coronavirus: New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is projecting $100 million in losses this year, and even France’s publicly funded Louvre has lost 40 million euros following a four-month closure.

Dan Brown is a great writer and packs so many illustrious things in each page – recently I was engrossed in his book ‘Origin’.  The Da Vinci Code is a 2003 mystery thriller novel by Dan Brown. It follows "symbologist" Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu after a murder in the Louvre Museum in Paris causes them to become involved in a battle between the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei over the possibility of Jesus Christ having been a companion to Mary Magdalene.

The title of the novel refers to the finding of the first murder victim in the Grand Gallery of the Louvre, naked and posed similar to Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawing, the Vitruvian Man, with a mathematical message written beside his body and a pentagram drawn on his chest in his own blood.  The book starts with -   Louvre Curator and Priory of Sion grand master Jacques Saunière  fatally shot one night at the museum by an albino Catholic monk named Silas, who is working on behalf of someone he knows only as the Teacher, who wishes to discover the location of the "keystone," an item crucial in the search for the Holy Grail.


The Louvre or the Louvre Museum   is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement (district or ward). Approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres.  The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as the Louvre castle in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum was renamed Musée Napoléon, but after Napoleon's abdication many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners.

The Louvre is a  central landmark in the city of Paris, France.  It is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement (district or ward).  The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum was renamed Musée Napoléon, but after Napoleon's abdication, many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces.  


                 At the end of Napoleon's First Italian Campaign in 1797, the Treaty of Campo Formio was signed with Count Philipp von Cobenzl of the Austrian Monarchy. This treaty not only marked the completion of Napoleon's conquest of Italy, but also the end of the first phases of the French Revolutionary Wars. Under this treaty, Italian cities were required to contribute pieces of art and patrimony to take part in Napoleon's "parades of booty" through Paris before being put into the Louvre Museum.  One of the most famous pieces taken under this program was the Horses of Saint Mark. The four antique bronze horses, which had adorned the basilica of San Marco in Venice after the sack of Constantinople in 1204, were brought to Paris to reside atop Napoleon's Arc du Carrousel in Paris in 1797. Several churches and palaces, including Saint Mark's Basilica, were looted by the French, which outraged the Italians and their artistic and cultural sensibilities.  Dominique Vivant Denon was Napoleon's art advisor, and accompanied him on the expedition to Egypt. Through his initiative, the Valley of the Kings in Egypt was discovered and studied extensively.

One of the most important discoveries made during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt was the Rosetta Stone. It was discovered in 1799, and eventually led to the ability to decipher ancient hieroglyphs. Although the Rosetta Stone was discovered by the French, it actually never made it to the Louvre Museum. It was seized by British Forces following the defeat of Napoleon in Egypt and the subsequent signing of the Treaty of Alexandria in 1801.  It is now on display at the British Museum.


After the French defeat at Waterloo, the works' former owners sought their return. The Louvre's administrators were loath to comply and hid many works in their private collections. In response, foreign states sent emissaries to London to seek help, and many pieces were returned, even some that had been restored by the Louvre.

The Louvre is owned by the French government; however, since the 1990s it has become more independent.  Since 2003, the museum has been required to generate funds for projects. By 2006, government funds had dipped from 75 percent of the total budget to 62 percent. Every year, the Louvre now raises as much as it gets from the state, about €122 million. The government pays for operating costs (salaries, safety and maintenance), while the rest – new wings, refurbishments, acquisitions – is up to the museum to finance.  The Louvre employs a staff of 2,000 led by Director Jean-Luc Martinez, who reports to the French Ministry of Culture and Communications.  

On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death, the Louvre held the largest ever single exhibit of his work, from 24 Oct 2019 to 24 Feb 2020. The event included over a hundred items: paintings, drawings and notebooks.  The whole world knows the Louvre/  Several hypotheses exist as to the origin of the Louvre, but none is unanimous.

– The first hypothesis would come from Latin. The Louvre used to be Lupara in this language, more precisely “Turris lupara”. Off the root word lupanar comes from “lupus”, which means wolf. Well before the museum, there would be here a forest, land of wolves …

– The second hypothesis has Saxon origins, spoken in Northern Gaul as a result of Germanic migrations. In this language, lauer or lower mean watchtower, what was the Louvre in the 9th century during the various seats in Paris by the Vikings.

– The third hypothesis is French, and dates from the origins of the current Louvre, when Philippe-Auguste decided to build a fortress around the capital in 1190. The dungeon located along the Seine, later transformed into a royal residence, is a gigantic work, from the verb ouvrer. The work, or the work as they say today, would have given its name to the castle. 

Interesting ~ this museum opened this day 227 years ago ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Pakistan snatched defeat at Manchester

                                     Test Cricket is an interesting game ! ~ a Team that dominated most of the Sessions and was all set to win – ends up losing !

I first thought 277 was gettable but when Ben Stokes got out to Yasir Shah (101/4) and Ollie Pope back making it 117/5, I thought all hopes had vanished. Ben Stokes, I thought was the man who could have changed the fortunes.  None would forget his heroics in the final of World Cup 2019 where he scored 84 runs, (and that included the ball hitting him for a 6) helping England win their maiden 50-over World Cup title.  Ben Stokes will miss the rest of England's Test series against Pakistan after withdrawing from the squad for family reasons. He is set to travel to New Zealand !

Britain could be heading into another full lockdown if Boris Johnson doesn't to sort out the "disastrous" test and trace programme, a former government adviser has said. Sir David King told the Sunday Mirror the the UK is "nowhere near" the safe reopening of schools, adding: “We need a proper test and trace system by September. Otherwise full school opening will put us right back.” Sir David, 80, the former chief scientific advisor to Tony Blair who now heads the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies shadowing the PM's scientific team, called on Mr Johnson to "get it right".

There have been more than 300,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far in the UK and more than 46,000 people have died, government figures show. However, these numbers only include people tested, and the actual death toll is higher.  Boris Johnson would close pubs, restaurants and shops ahead of schools in the event of severe coronavirus outbreaks, according to a Number 10 source. It comes as the PM said getting all children back in school was a "moral duty". Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson added: "Keeping our schools closed a moment longer than absolutely necessary is socially intolerable, economically unsustainable and morally indefensible." Meanwhile new figures suggest that nearly 1,800 UK companies told the Government of plans to cut 20 or more jobs in June as the coronavirus damaged the economy. Labour is calling on the Government to halt a “jobs bonfire” by helping out industries and businesses still shut down by the pandemic.

All that shows UK too is in turmoil affected by Covid 19 yet – they are hosting Cricket tests – first a 3 test series against West Indies and now Pakistan. In between they played ODI with Ireland.  The graphs show that covid has spiked over last week at  Greater Manchester.  The charts outline an increase in cases in Trafford, Manchester, Stockport, Oldham, Salford and Tameside since the middle of July. Statistics show many of the new cases are among young people. According to latest developments, with a spike in coronavirus cases, new restrictions have been imposed in the Greater Manchester area. However, the England and Wales Cricket Board  assured England’s first Test with Pakistan at Old Trafford will remain unaffected by extra coronavirus impositions. The government  banned separate households from meeting each other indoors or private gardens across the area.  

The mood in England camp in chasing 277 was perhaps not upbeat. After playing international cricket for ten years, I understand when I need to take certain decisions. When I bat, I'm not thinking about the captaincy, whether or not I'm out of form. And when I'm captain, I don't think about my batting at all, whether I scored a 100 or 0. That's the job of the captain. There's a lot of disappointment that we had this game in the palm of our hands, and we led at most points in the game, but that can happen sometimes, said Paki Capt Azhar Ali.

Chris Woakes hadn’t passed fifty since he scored his only Test hundred, against India at Lord’s in 2018. Buttler had done it only once in his last year of Test cricket.  They came together with scorecard reading 117/5.  Then things happened differently.  Jos Buttler played his part in England's thrilling victory against Pakistan believing that if he didn't make runs, he was probably playing his last Test. Buttler made the frank admission after scoring 75 and sharing a century stand with Chris Woakes, who finished not out on 84, to help England chase down an imposing fourth-innings target of 277 with three wickets in hand and a day to spare. It came as Buttler faced increasing criticism over his batting - his Test average had dropped to 31.63 going into this, his 45th Test - and he had a poor game behind the stumps, missing three chances during Pakistan's first innings.

The score card would never reveal the thrills that occurred.  England 219 (Pope 62, Yasir 4-66) and 277 for 7 (Woakes 84*, Buttler 75, Yasir 4-99) beat Pakistan 326 (Masood 156, Azam 69, Broad 3-54) and 169 (Yasir 33, Broad 3-37) by three wickets

A fighting century stand between Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler carried England to a stunning three-wicket victory over Pakistan in a thrilling opening match of their three-Test series. Buttler's gutsy knock of 75 from 101 balls in the face of mounting criticism over his place in the side, combined with Woakes' new-found form with the bat, handed England an unlikely victory and broke their run of five consecutive series in which they had lost the first match.  Woakes had had a poorer performance, with a high score of 37 not out from his previous 17 innings.  They both  shared a partnership worth 139 for the sixth wicket and helped England pull off the second-highest fourth-innings run chase at Old Trafford. Fittingly, Woakes hit the winnings runs with a four through third man off Shaheen Shah Afridi to finish not out on 84 as England snatched victory by three wickets inside four days.

Joe Root began the day suggesting a target below 260 would be within reach. Pakistan pushed it just beyond after Yasir Shah came out, as expected, and threw the bat. Yasir resumed on 12 with Pakistan 137 for 8 and leading by 244. He clubbed 21 from nine balls, including 11 off Jofra Archer's first four deliveries of the day, followed by a defiant four past mid-on and a brutal six over midwicket off Stuart Broad's first three.  In all, Pakistan pilfered 32 runs within the first half hour, before Naseem Shah was the last man out, bowled by Archer for 4.

England wickets fell - Mohammad Abbas took the first with the first ball of the 12th, which nipped back and struck Rory Burns on the back leg as it curled in off the seam. Yasir Shah, who had claimed four England wickets in their first innings, broke a 64-run partnership when he had Sibley caught by Asad Shafiq for 36.  Pak wasted its reviews.  Ben Stokes got out and  Pope could do little about his dismissal when he copped an unplayable delivery from Afridi that reared off a length and hit his top hand, ballooning to Shadab Khan running in from gully. With England 117 for 5 and hope fading fast, still 160 runs from victory, most thought that the match was over.

Ben Stokes will miss the rest of England's Test series against Pakistan after withdrawing from the squad for family reasons. He is set to travel to New Zealand, where his parents live, next week and will not be available for the two behind-closed-doors Tests in Southampton. Stokes' father Ged was hospitalised ahead of the Boxing Day Test against South Africa during England's winter tour, and has since been recuperating back home in New Zealand. England's Test vice-captain, Stokes has played a central role in the summer so far. He led the team in Joe Root's absence for the opening Test against West Indies, scored a century and a fifty in the second, and has chipped in with 11 wickets despite more recently playing as a specialist batsmen.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar




Friday, August 7, 2020

interestingly Marine Insurance ~ yacht in transit !!

 In unprecedented Pandemic – people have remained at home (!) from Mar 24,2020 – and many are talking about economic imbalance – of not being to earn.  There is a different World out there – of uber rich who own pleasure boats and this post is on one such !

For economic reasons and for satisfying the demands – ‘goods are moved from one place to another’.  Goods in transit are insured under Marine Policies.  There are two divisions – Marine Hull and Marine Cargo.  Goods are cargo, while Ships, boats are Hull – but when a boat is transported in another Ship – the boat (the Hull) becomes the subject matter of Marine Cargo Insurance.  In Marine, there will be a Consignor and a Consignee and often the goods are sent through a Carrier – the Carriage operator [need not be owning the conveyance of carriage] charges freight and is obligated to deliver the goods at the intended destination.

A yacht  is a sail or power vessel used for pleasure, cruising, or racing. There is no standard definition, so the term applies to such vessels that have a cabin with amenities that accommodate overnight use. To be termed a yacht, as opposed to a boat, such a pleasure vessel is likely to be at least 33 feet (10 m) in length and have been judged to have good aesthetic qualities.  There are some classifications su9ch as Commercial; Private; Pleasure – and then by its size and power.  Racing yachts are designed to emphasize performance over comfort.  Charter yachts are run as a business for profit. As of 2020 there were more than 15,000 yachts of sufficient size to require a professional crew.

Transportation, logistics, carriage, packing, documentation, liabilities of persons involved are complex.  When we entrust some goods to a Transporter  for delivery – we presume that they would safely deliver the same at intended destination failing which, you can hold them responsible for the loss or damage.  In reality,  things are not so simple !  ..  to start with there are Road Carriers, Rail Carriage, carriage by Sea (ship) and Air carriage.  If carriage is Port to Port Transport, the responsibility (if any) of the Carrier for loss or damage to the Goods occurring from the time when the Goods are loaded on board the Vessel at the Port of Loading until the time when the Goods are discharged from the Vessel at the Port of Discharge.   

The law of Carriage of goods governs the transportation of goods by land, sea, or air. The relevant law governs the rights, responsibilities, liabilities, and immunities of the carrier and of the persons employing the services of the carrier.   Until the development of railroads, the most prominent mode of transport was by water. The law governing carriage of goods by sea developed much earlier than that governing inland transportation. The sea laws of the island of Rhodes achieved such prominence that a part of them was carried, many centuries later, into the legislation of Justinian.  This duty of the carrier to deliver the goods safely was considered to exist without regard to obligations arising under any contract between the parties.

As an essential contractual undertaking of the carrier, delivery of goods gives rise to a series of related obligations and liabilities. According to the provisions in contracts of carriage of goods or the carriage laws, impliedly or expressly,   the obligations focus on the followings, inter alias: Firstly, a carrier shall deliver the goods safely; secondly, deliver at an agreed place, or in some special circumstances, at a proper place other than the agreed one; thirdly, deliver in time; fourthly, deliver with the proper mode; and, the last, deliver to the proper person.

Then there is ‘due diligence’; extent of liability (limited liability) and immunity of carriers.  One of the important provisions of COGSA [Carriage of Goods by Sea Act] is  “Neither the carrier nor the ship shall be liable for loss or damage arising or resulting from unseaworthiness unless caused by want of due diligence on the part of the carrier to make the ship seaworthy, and to secure that the ship is properly manned, equipped, and supplied.. .. …..   (partly reproduced)

Now with this lengthy background read this news article that appeared in MailOnline.  Italian billionaire Pier Luigi Laro Piana whose £30m superyacht sank after it fell off the back of a cargo freighter is suing the British transport firm for compensation. Pier Luigi is an heir to the high end clothing company Loro Piana, which was founded in 1924 by his grandfather Pietro.

The owner of a £30million  (Rs. 295 cr) super yacht is suing a British transport company for the loss of his vessel which fell off a cargo vessel and sank in a storm. Italian billionaire Pier Luigi Laro Piana commissioned Peters and May to transport his three-year-old yacht, My Song, between Antigua and Genoa. However, in May 2019, the yacht, which was being carried by the freighter Brattingsborg, was lost overboard in a storm around 40 miles from Menorca and sank.  Later, the huge yacht was spotted half submerged and drifting 40 miles from Menorca. According to The Times, Mr Piana is suing the the firm for the replacement value of yacht. However, the Southampton-based Peters and May deny responsibility.

According to court papers: 'The primary assessment is that the yacht's cradle - owned and provided by the yacht, warranted by the yacht for sea transport and assembled by the yacht's crew - collapsed during the voyage.'  Mr Piana's lawyers are seeking to have the case returned to an Italian court. He had previously told La Repubblica: 'For anyone who loves the sea, this boat is like a second home, and it is as if my home has burnt down.  'We decided to transport it on a cargo ship to be sure it wasn't damaged because you can never be sure of the weather.'   

The yacht was salvaged by a German firm but it was beyond economic repair as teh carbon fibre hull was holed in several places and the masts were broken off. Her owner had arranged for 'My Song' to take part in the 2019 Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta, where she was a returning winner. My Song is described as 'a wolf in sheep's clothing' - she has a 56-metre-high mast and under full sail can reach more than 30 knots.  'She was packed with cutting edge design and technology and also served as a comfortable cruising yacht.'

With regards – S. Sampathkumar