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Monday, August 17, 2020

Serangulam Bashyam @ Arya - hoisting Indian National flag in 1932

Life has changed ! ~ from Mar 24, we are officially on lockdown -  people are expected to remain at home and step out only for essentials !  SYMA Medical centre, lab, Growth all remain closed and there have been no activities .. on 15th Aug 2020, we assembled at our Medical Centre, hoisted National flag maintaining social distance and wearing masks.

Independence Day is the greatest day for the Nation and its citizens – We feel so proud and happy when our Prime Minister hoists the National flag at Red Fort and addresses the Nation.

A flag is a symbolic representation of a Nation and its principles. It is considered a symbol of pride and is unanimously associated with the nation’s spirit and ethos.  The National flag of India in its current form was first adopted during the Constituent Assembly held on July 22, 1947. This was a few days before India's independence from the British was declared.  This is on a post circulating in social media as photo of  the man who hoisted the Indian flag at Fort St. George.  While the incident is a great event, the photo is not correct ! (when pointed out in a couple of posts, they removed the comments !)

The National Flag of India is a horizontal rectangular tricolour of India saffron, white and India green; with the Ashoka Chakra, a 24-spoke wheel, in navy blue at its centre.  It is famously  "tricolour" ( तिरंगा, Tiragā).  The flag is based on the Swaraj flag, a flag of the Indian National Congress designed by Pingali Venkayya. Born in 1878 in Andhra Pradesh, Venkayya was educated at Cambridge and grew up to become a polymath — with interests in geology, agriculture, education and languages.  In 1921, Venkayya met Gandhi in Vijayawada and presented a rudimentary design of the flag.  Venkayya inspires otherwise too with the sheer number of nicknames given to him. He was known as Jhanda Venkayya for his role in designing the flag. An avid gemologist, he was also called Diamond Venkayya, and for his knowledge of Japanese language, Japan Venkayya ; Patti Venkayya or Cotton Venkayya because he “dedicated most of his time researching staple varieties of cotton and did a detailed study on a particular variety called Cambodia Cotton.”

By law, the flag is to be made of khadi, a special type of hand-spun cloth or silk, made popular by Mahatma Gandhi. The manufacturing process and specifications for the flag are laid out by the Bureau of Indian Standards. The right to manufacture the flag is held by the Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission, who allocates it to regional groups.  Usage of the flag is governed by the Flag Code of India and other laws relating to the national emblems. 

In Chennai, as one travels in Beach road aka Rajaji Salai – one of the main attractions is the Tamilnadu Assembly / TN Secretariat and of course the National flag that flutters on a tall flagmast.   This has a long history and dates back to 1644, when the fort was built at a time when it was White town.   The fort is considered to be the first establishment of the British in India. Initially erected as a trading post, it later served as the origin of the modern Indian Army. A live example of the military architecture marvel, the St. George Fort is probably the most noticeable ancient monument in Chennai. The fort holds great historical importance and is looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India.  The Govt Museum here  was organised and opened to the public in Jan  1948. The museum began with a small collection of objects of the British Raj donated by the then Madras Presidency Government, the disbanded army units and others. 

Today it is a steel replica, but until 1994, what stood here was a teak beam. Rising to a height of 148 feet, it was considered the tallest flag post in the country. Salvaged from a shipwreck in 1687, it was used by Governor Elihu Yale for unfurling the Union Jack the subsequent year. The Indian tricolour was hoisted on it on August 15, 1947. But that was not the first time the flagstaff had sported the Indian flag. It had done so for a brief while on January 26, 1932, thanks to ‘Arya’ K. Bhashyam, a freedom fighter. This may not be a well-recognised name today, but in his time he was a livewire, organising flash stirs against foreign rule and burning foreign goods in public. In her biography Naan Kanda Bharatham, S. Ambujammal writes that Bhashyam had a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Madras but had become a freedom activist from 1920 or so.

In the Tamil Srivaishnava tradition, Serangolam ( Serankulam) near Mannargudi  is one of five villages collectively known as Panchagramam. The other villages are Karappangadu, Nammankurichi, Peravoorani and Puliyakkudi (Idaikkadu).  Bashyam hailed from there.  Bhashyam’s activities were not to the liking of his aristocratic family. His uncle was Sir N. Gopalaswami Aiyangar, of the Madras Civil Service, later Dewan of Kashmir, and still later, the Railway Minister of free India. Bhashyam’s brother Sadagopan was a senior officer in the South Indian Railway. Their displeasure, however, had no effect, and on January 26, 1932, he committed an act of unparalleled daring. When it was still dark, Bhashyam climbed the ramparts of Fort St. George, and having shinned his way up the riggings of the flagstaff, managed to reach the top. There, he unfurled the Indian tricolour that he had brought along.

All this activity had not passed unnoticed and a considerable police force had assembled at the base waiting for his descent. Bhashyam made his way down and halfway through, jumped on the policemen thereby injuring a few. In the ensuing scuffle, he also managed to thrash a few of them before being arrested. In court, Bhashyam refused to tender any apology and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment. It was not the first and it would definitely not be his last tenure as a guest of the State.

Post independence, Bhashyam refused the pension to which he was entitled as a freedom fighter. He eked out a living painting portraits of his idols — Subramania Bharati and Mahatma Gandhi, all of which he signed as Arya. The best-known depiction of the poet, with handlebar moustache and turban, is his. He also sculpted busts and statues of Gandhi and one of these is present at Thakkar Bapa Vidyalaya. His statue of S. Satyamurti stands at Ripon Buildings. Bhashyam passed away in 1999 at the age of 93. If we had any sense of history, we would have a plaque in his honour next to the flagstaff inside the Fort.

Was surprised to  read that  17th July  is celebrated in Tamil Nadu as ‘Thiyagigal Thinam’ and in 2017 TN  Ministers paid homage and floral tributes to 3 great freedom fighters ~    Thiyagi Arya alias Bhashiyam;  Thiyagi Sankaralinganar and Thiyagi Shenbagaraman

Now the photo that was referred earlier is one associated with a beautiful temple in  Thiru Ayodhya known as “Ammaji mandir”.   Around 100 years earlier, there was a great person by name Yogi Parthasarathi Iyengar and his wife was Yogi Singamma [the portrait]. Sri Yogi Parthasarathi Iyengar in his wisdom created a press for re-publishing on paper edition,  the great granthams of our Vaishnavaite mahans and in this venture established a press and persons to take care known as -  “Saraswathi Bhandram Committee” – saraswathi bhandaram meaning ‘library / treasure house’ of the works of Goddess of Learning Saraswathi. He spent his fortune towards establishing this and on this place built a temple for Sri Nampillai as the rightful person to own this treasure house at what is known at Komutti bungalow at Thiruvallikkeni.   Yogi Singamma, a century ago, built a temple of Sri Rama at the historic Ayodhya, a typical South Indian type temple, which is popularly known as ‘Ammaji Mandir’.  This temple is being maintained by ‘Saraswathi Bhandaram Committee’ – being taken care of by Dr MA Venkatakrishnan Swami.   Here is a photo taken at Nampillai sannathi and one can see the photo portrait on the wall.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar



Sunday, August 16, 2020

Wishing Chetan Chauhan speedy recovery

Remember our joy on 20th Jan 1980 – Pongal Test against Pakistan, Gavaskar scored a century, Kapil 84 + 11 wickets .. on the final day when India needed 78, Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan opened the innings, Chahuan played delectable squarecuts and with 8 boundaries scored 46* steering India to a massive victory by 10 wickets.  Those were the days of Sunil  Gavaskar having various partners  including Eknath Solkar, Farokh Engineer, Parthasarathi Sharma, Anshuman Gaekwad, Chetan Chauhan, Pranab Roy, Krish Srikkanth,Arun Lal, Ghulam Parker – to name a few.  Chauhan  forged a long lasting successful combination with little master Gavaskar. 

Chetandra Pratap Singh Chauhan debuted in the  1st Test, at Brabourne statdium against New Zealand in 1969 – India won by 60 runs.  In all he played 40 tests making 2084 runs and 7 one dayers.  His first 3 tests were in 1969, then next 2 in 1973 and had wait for more 4 more years – from  Dec 1977, he was a permanent fixture till Auckland test in 1981. Along side Chauhan debuted Ashok Mankad & a fast bowler by name Ajit Pai.  Pai took 29/2 in 17 overs and in the 2nd innings was given 2 overs and .. .. forgotten thereafter !!  

It was ODI no. 54 at Quetta on 1st Oct 1978, when India led by Bishan Bedi played Pak and won by 4 runs  ~ came  Indian second win in an ODI, the first having come against East Africa in inaugural World Cup 1975.  At Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad on 16th  Oct 1978, Pakistanis and the World were to witness a rare spectacle – a bouncer from Indian pacer, and Sadiq Mohammad calling for a helmet !  In that one dayer Kapil Dev made his debut alongside senior Chetan Chauhan and Surinder Amarnath.

Remember Chauhan for the way he batted in Australia in 1977 and in 1981.  India  won twice at Melbourne.  In  Feb 1981 – a Test which was almost sparred by ‘smoke was coming out of my ears and I heard nothing’ comment of Sunil Gavaskar.   In Test No. 895, Indians led by Gavaskar, made 237 with a brilliant 114 by Gundappa Vishwanath.   Lillee scalped 4, Pascoe took 3.  Aussies made a massive 416.  India had the best partnership of 165 when Gavaskar was adjudged LBW to Lillee when he had nicked it on to his pads.  Gavaskar protested and almost took Chauhan along with him.  Chauhan went on to make 85 and Indians made 324 – a target of 143 looked simple and Kapil was not fit to bowl with a strained thigh muscle.

In  the dramatic last session Aussie lost 3 wickets for 24.  Ghavri removed Jack Dyson; Wood was out to Doshi and Greg Chappen was out bowled by Ghavri for a first ball duck.   The next morning Kapil dev fired them out with figures of 5 for 28 bundling them out for 83 – one of the lowest movements for Australia.


                     Chetan Chauhan who batted so well – played in 40 Tests making 2000 odd runs but never made a century, though was closer many a times.  In that Melbourne test, Chauhan was urged by Gavaskar to walk out and leave the field but the manager  Wing Commander S. K. Durrani, intervened,  and ensured that the controversial dismissal did not spoil the match.  The whole of the Series there was inconsistent umpiring always going against the Indians.   The inexperienced Rex Whitehead, who made his debut in the first Test and stood in all three matches even after Indians protested.

Chetan Chauhan, the former India opener and veteran cricket administrator, has been put on ventilator, a report in PTI stated. Chauhan, who in July had tested positive for the Covid-19, was yet to recover fully when a further infection affected his kidneys and caused blood pressure problems.  After testing positive for Covid-19, Chauhan was hospitalised at the Sanjay Gandhi PGI hospital in Lucknow. He was later moved to Gurugram’s Medanta hospital. On Friday night, Chauhan’s condition deteriorated, after which the doctors put him on life support. “Early morning today, Chetan ji had a kidney failure and subsequently, had multi-organ failure. He is currently on life support. We are all praying that he wins this battle,” a senior DDCA official, who is keeping track of the development, told PTI on Saturday.

Chauhan has served the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) in various capacities - president, vice-president, secretary and chief selector - apart from being manager of the Indian Team during their tour of Australia. Chauhan was twice elected to the Lok Sabha from Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, in 1991 and 1998 and was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 1981.  He was Chairman of NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) and is a Cabinet Minister in UP of Sainik Welfare, Home Guards, PRD, Civil Security.

Wishing the gutsy opener speedy recovery. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


PS : Sadly couple of hours after posting this Chetan Chauhan passed away in Gurugram this evening.  He breathed his last at 4.15 pm at Medanta Hospital due to multiple organ failure.


Saturday, August 15, 2020

MSD's retirement announcement shocks Cricketing World !!

I distinctly remember watching this match at Kenya on Aug 19,2004 – India A led by Sairaj Bahutule beat Pak A led by Misbah Ul Haq ..  .. saw a young wicketkeeper score some big hits – searched to find he was Mahendra Singh Dhoni – little did I realize that he would go on to make it really huge and make Cricket fans plunge into melancholy, this day, for he has announced his retirement.  

Before we read eulogies to that great Cricketer described ‘Captain Cool’ – couple of Qs – can you name at least 15 of the 24 wicketkeepers who have represented India in One dayers ? and do you know why of the 350 ODIs that he played, MSd would remember that match against West Indies at Johannesburg on 30.9.2009

The crowds love him and have turned up in large nos. to see him in action.  MSD has been always is in the thick of action ~ in the 40th over of SA innings, he stumped  Phehlukwayo  with ease bringing delight to be bowler Yuzvendra Chahal. It was a happy sight for all of us seeing the stumping again and again on TV but not for a Paki Minister !!!  ~   cleaning Rassie van der Dussen  The stumping of Phehlukwayo . .. .. is in news !  as people spotted MSD spotting an insignia in his gloves ~ not any ordinary one but the ‘Balidan badge’ ! 

There was a time when more than 10000 turned up at Chepauk to see CSK practice as MSD was in town and had come for practice ! .. .. only today, we read statement of  Batting coach of the Chennai Super Kings, Michael Hussey  who felt  MS Dhoni will be best suited to bat at No. 4 for CSK in the IPL 2020. Dhoni, who will return to cricket for the first time since July last year, has got fans excited an intrigued to see him back in action. CSK will leave for the UAE on August 20, and Hussey has revealed how the team is playing attention on its preparation, but even though the former batsman stressed on the importance of being flexible in the middle order, he reckons CSK can benefit more if Dhoni bats slightly higher.

Do you still remember that Group D match in -  ICC World Twenty20 at Durban, played on Sep 14 2007  !  ~ if not for the date or otherwise, for the result and more so, for the manner perhaps !! – Super Over and Dhoni’s ingenuity in asking Harbhajan, Sehwag and Uthappa to bowl and standing close to the stumps did the trick beating Pak 3-0. 

On 2nd Apr 2011, it was close to 11 pm and perhaps the entire India was awake.  There were sounds of crackers, people shouting in happiness as Dhoni received the trophy – the ICC World Cup was lifted – icons were getting lifted – the stadium bustled and spectacular fire works were on.   The cricket capital of India reverberated and the capacity crowd witnessed a great match at Wankhede.  , established in 1974.  The curator of the pitch was Sudhir Naik, who represented India decades back without great success.  

When we were expecting R Ashwin, in the place of injured Ashish Nehra, it was Sreesanth who had  a poor 5 over spell against Bangla in the opening game.  Lankans made sweeping changes – Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath, Chamara Silve and Ajanta Mendis were out – in came – Perera, Randiv, Kulasekara and Chamara Kapugedera.   Immediately after lunch, at around 0650 pm – a hush descended at Wankhede.   The first ball of the seventh over silenced the Nation.  The noise Wankhede went in to a huddle.  The ball moved got the outside of Sachin and thudded into the gloves of Sanga. At that point 31/2, not many were optimistic of India.  Virat Kohli played well with Gambhir but departed at 114 @ 21.4; still a long way to go.  A very well phased innings by Gambhir, who unfortunately missed his century and his century partnership with Dhoni who had promoted himself  enabled Indians pull off a great win.  Dhoni wrapped it in style with 10 balls to go, he sent the ball flying over long on for a huge six.

Here is the list of Wicket-keepers, who have played for India :  Farokh Engineer, Syed Kirmani, Pochiah Krishnamurthy, Bharath Reddy, Surinder Khanna, Kiran More, Sadanand Viswanath, Chandrakant Pandit, Vijay Yadav, Nayan Mongia, Syed Saba Karim,  MSK Prasad, Rahul Dravid, Sameer Dighe, Vijay Dahiya, Deep Dasgupta, Ajay Ratra, Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik, the King Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha, Robin Uthappa, Rishabh Pant & KL Rahul

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's ascent to dizzying heights put a small city like Ranchi inadvertently on the cricket map. From the eastern state of Jharkhand, MSD rose to become the heart-throb of the city.  On Sunday evening (17.3.2019), ahead of a CSK practice match at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, the serpentine queues outside the main entrance could have easily been mistaken for an eager audience ramping up to an international match.  They had come to see MSD !

Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday announced retirement from international cricket.  Even Pope retires; but in India where retirement is compulsory for all office goers, there is none for politicians…. In the 9th  Lok Sabha elections, there was this gentleman (Mr MG Ranga)  who at the ripe age of 89 was contesting the elections and actually won by a handsome margin too….  

Dhoni has not played since India's semifinal exit from the ODI World Cup last year in July and his comeback is a highly anticipated sub-plot of this year's IPL, which starts on Sept 19.  BUT  Corona which has marred IPL and pushed back the T20 WC perhaps has put a fullstop to the hero’s planned comeback !  

The 39-year-old batsman-wicketkeeper is the only captain in the history of cricket to win all ICC trophies. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the 2010 and 2016 Asia Cups, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.  One of the best runners between the wickets was run out following a hard-earned 50 in that tense game, shattering Indian hopes and leaving him in a state of disbelief. The reticent man from Ranchi will, however, go down as one of the finest to have played the game for India, turning up for the country in a whopping 350 ODIs, 90 Tests and 98 T20 Internationals.

He signs off as  ODI legend with 10,773 runs, averaging more than 50 despite batting between No.5 and 7 for a major chunk of his career. In the Test format, Dhoni accumulated 4876 runs at an average of 38.09 and led India to more wins (27) than anyone else before him.  Runs would never be the best parameter for judging his Cricketing genius and his contribution to Indian Cricket – he was a master strategist, capable of inspiring ordinary players, great runner between the wickets, stylist behind the wicket, wondrous reader of match situations, best capable judge in UDRS, jaw-drooping hand-speed style in collecting and running batsmen out ! – he had the Cricketing World mesmerized and now signs off when perhaps none imagined that it would come today. 

His 78/229/52 sixers in Tests / ODI / T20I; 6 test Centuries and 10 in One dayers all has carved out a niche place for him in Indian Cricket history.  In case you remember that Q on 12th ICC match at Johannesburg – he took his only wicket in One dayer when a West Indies batsman by name - Travis Montague Dowlin was clean bowled !


The Cricketing World will miss you MSD


With regards – S. Sampathkumar


Friday, August 14, 2020

celebrating Indian Independence day & remembering our martyrs - 74 years since 1947

WE are all set to celebrate the 74th  INDEPENDENCE DAY of the Nation ~ the great day of 15th August when BHARAT was liberated from foreign rule. .. .. often described in a terse statement, India achieved freedom ‘without battle or shedding blood’ – Indian freedom struggle was far different perhaps – thousands sacrificed and more number underwent innumerable difficulties for that magic freedom, which we happily enjoy .. .. .. and, Indian History does not have much written about those great martyrs. 

On 15 August 1947, the first Prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, raised the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate and spoke those immortal words – ‘Long years ago... we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge’.  Every year on India's Independence Day, the prime minister hoists the Indian "tricolour flag" at the fort's main gate and delivers a nationally broadcast speech from its ramparts.  .. .. Can you name the Ministers who took oath on that all important day ?

Red Fort [Lal Qila]  has Lahori Gate and Delhi Gate.  Images of the fort have  featured prominently on postage stamps. It is associated with history. The vandalism carried out in 1857 after the suppression of the rebellion makes it a site remembered for national resistance.  In Nov  1945, the Red Fort was selected as the venue for the court martial of Shah Nawaz Khan, Prem Sahgal and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon. These were three token individuals, selected from the many thousands of Indian officers and troops who had joined the Indian National Army and fought against the British during the Second World War. But in our History books, we did not read of Indian freedom struggle but more of mercy of Cawning, kindness of Atlee, administrative skills of Dalhouse, coronation of King George, Delhi Durbar and more .. .. not on INA and other freedom fighters.

Before we read further, here is an extract from a book – which should have been our Text book .. ..   It was not a pleasure trip nor an official trip as Congress leaders enjoyed during the freedom struggle. It was banishment to the dark world of Andamans – the  feared Cellular jails.  On 11th Dec 1909, an youngman was exiled and remained for dozen years.    ‘Yet the changes outside are not so remarkable when compared to the change in my memory. This faculty seems to have fallen into a moribund condition and can only groan at its best.  When we reached the jetty there was yet some time for daybreak. The Superintendent,  Emerson, was there standing with his bike. Mounted policemen could be seen in every direction. We got on board the Maharaja, the ferry boat that was to carry us across the Black Waters. We were shoved in within a hold in the lower deck. A long chain was fixed on to the planking of that room and handcuffs were attached to it at the interval of a yard or so. All the seven had been handcuffed”. 

Before Collector Ash was assassinated by Veera Vanchinathan – there was this murder of a British officer in Indian civil service - Arthur Mason Tippetts Jackson,  Magistrate of Nasik, assassinated by a young 17 year old student.   Anant Laxman Kanhere, student of Aurangabad, shot Jackson on 21 Dec 1909 at a theater where a drama was tobe staged in his honour on the eve of his transfer.  The lesser known of the Savarkars – Mr Ganesh Savarkar elder brother of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was implicated and sent  to trial.  In the dark hours of  April 29, 1912, an alarm went up on the ‘yard three’ wing of the Cellular Jail in Port Blair. Warden Gulmir, stationed at the jail’s central tower, rushed to the wing and shined a hurricane lamp through the iron-barred door of cell 82. He found the bed empty. The prisoner, a young Bengali revolutionary called Indu Bhushan Roy, who had completed two years of his ten years’ rigorous imprisonment, was dead. His body hung from the window, a strand of torn kurta wound around his neck.  The newspapers wrote : Kalapani  had claimed one more tortured soul.  It was to this place Barinder ghosh was heading for .. ..

In 1907, Barin Ghosh arranged to send Hem Chandra Kanungo, one of his associates, to Paris to learn the art of bomb-making from Nicholas Safranski, a Russian revolutionary in exile in the French Capital. Returning to Bengal, Hem began working with Barin Ghosh again. With Fraser alerted, a new target was selected in Douglas Kingsford. Kingsford was the Chief Magistrate of the Presidency court of Alipore, and had overseen the trials of Bhupendranath Dutta and other editors of Jugantar, sentencing them to rigorous imprisonment.  The defiance of Jugantar saw it face five more prosecutions that left it in financial ruins by 1908.   Kingsford also earned notoriety among nationalists when he ordered the whipping of a young Bengali boy by the name of Sushil Sen for participating in the protests that followed the Jugantar trial. The first attempt to kill Kingsford was in the form of a book bomb that Hem constructed. An empty tin of Cadbury's cocoa was packed with a pound of picric acid and three detonators. This was packed into a hollowed section of Herbert Broom's Commentaries on the Common Law and delivered wrapped in brown paper to Kingsford's house by a young revolutionary named Paresh Mallick.  

 On 19 October 1908, the hearing for the trial began at the court of Charles Poten Beachroft who served as the additional sessions judge of the District 24 Paraganas. Beechcroft and Aurobindo had previously entered the Indian Civil Service Examinations in England in the same year, where Aurobindo had ranked ahead of Beechcroft. The defence team was composed of 15 lawyers, barristers and pleaders. Aurobindo was initially represented by Byomkesh Chakravarty, a leading Calcutta barrister. In addition to the 1500 documents and material evidence, defence team entered further 54 items.  

Emperor vs Aurobindo Ghosh and others, colloquially referred to as the Alipore Bomb Case, the Muraripukur conspiracy,  was a criminal case of  1908. The case saw the trial of a number of Indian nationalists of the Anushilan Samiti in Calcutta, under charges of "Waging war against the Government" of the British Raj. The trial was held at Alipore Sessions Court, Calcutta, between May 1908 and May 1909. The trial followed in the wake of the attempt on the life of Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford in Muzaffarpur by Bengali nationalists Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki in April 1908, which was recognised by the Bengal police as linked to attacks against the Raj in the preceding years, including attempts to derail the train carrying Lieutenant-Governor Sir Andrew Fraser in December 1907.

Among the famous accused were Aurobindo Ghosh, his brother Barinder Ghosh as well as 38 other Bengali nationalists of the Anushilan Samiti. Most of the accused were arrested from Barin Ghosh's Garden house in 36 Murarirupukur Road, in the Manicktolla suburb of Calcutta. They were held in the Presidency Jail in Alipore before the trial, where Narendranath Goswami, approver and crown-witness, was shot dead by two fellow accused Kanailal Dutta and Satyendranath Bose within the jail premises. Goswami's murder led to collapse of the case against Aurobindo.

Barin was to undergo rigorous imprisonment in Cellular Jail at Andaman from 1909 – later was released during a general amnesty in 1920.  Upon returning he dallied with journalism for sometime and later started  an ashram in Kolkata. He published his memoirs "The tale of my exile - twelve years in Andamans"  In 1923, he left for Pondicherry where his elder brother Aurobindo Ghosh had formed the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.  In 1933 he started an English weekly, The Dawn of India. He was associated with the newspaper The Statesman, and in 1950, he became the editor of the Bengali daily Dainik Basumati.   He died on 18 April 1959 – there are so many unsung heroes whose sacrifices got us freedom.

On this great day 15th Aug 1947, India got freedom at midnight.  Jawaharlal Nehru took charge as the first Prime Minister of India and chose 15 other members for his cabinet. Lord Mountbatten, and later C. Rajagopalachari, served as Governor-General until 26 January 1950, when Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first President of India.  The Prime Minister held additional portfolios of External Affairs, Scientific Research; Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel - Minister of Home Affairs and States; R. K. Shanmukham Chetty- Finance; B R. Ambedkar – Law; Baldev Singh- Defence;  John Mathai – Railways and Transport ; Abul Kalam Azad – Education; Rajendra Prasad – Agriculture;  Syama Prasad Mukherjee - Industries and Supplies; Jagjivan Ram – Labour; Cooverji Hormusji Bhabha – Commerce; Rafi Ahmed Kidwai – Communications; Amrit Kaur – Health;  Narhar Vishnu Gadgil – Power; KC Neogy – Relief and Rehabilitation & N Gopalaswami Ayyangar.

On this historic day, we look back with pride India’s achievements in the 7 decades after Independence and remember those martyrs whose blood and sacrifices ensured our breathing fresh and free air.

Jai Hind ~ Nation is greater than anything else.


With regards – S. Sampathkumar



Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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