Search This Blog

Thursday, June 30, 2022

not all retirements are timed properly ! - some are painful !!

One may not easily identify her !  .. .. this is Tamara Korpatsch,  a German tennis player with a career-high singles WTA ranking of No. 104 and doubles ranking of No. 291.  In Wimbledon, she lost in the first round to Heather Watson then was more upset !!   reason ? – her partner suddenly withdrew .. .. .. After beating Serena Williams in an epic Wimbledon singles match on Monday night, Harmony Tan  pulled out of the women’s doubles event – prompting an angry response from her planned partner, Tamara Korpatsch. Harmony Tan has career-high WTA rankings of World No. 90 in singles and World No. 302 in doubles.  Tan is of Chinese Cambodian and Vietnamese descent.

With tinge of sadness remember that ODI at Faridabad on 17th Oct 1994 – Cameron Cuffy, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Stuart Williams debuted – and the greatest Indian Cricketer played his last match.  In an illustrious Test career, Kapil Dev scored 5,248 runs and bagged 434 wickets with the best figure of 9/83, claiming 23 fifers and two ten-wicket hauls – he set very high standards in One day Cricket with that epic 175 not out and the title triumph in 1983. 

On that day, a century opening stand between Phil  Simmons and Williams, in his first one-day international, gave the tourists an ideal start. Though Lara went cheaply, Hooper reached 50 in just 47 balls, and the 90 he added with Arthurton took West Indies to a fine 273. That was out of India's range after ten overs, in which Walsh and Cuffy reduced them to 21 for four. Though Sidhu and Bedade (remember this left hander !) then contributed half-centuries, their significance was academic. Kapil Dev had a sad match, which turned out to be his final international appearance;   he conceded 37 runs in five wicketless overs.  Captain Mohd Azharuddin rudely treated him – as he walked to bowl his 6th, the ball was almost rudely snatched away .. .. rather unceremonious ending to a glorious career.

It is all happening at Wimbledon – thousands of  spectators   into the All England Club for Wimbledon, the largest annual sports catering operation in Europe. Over the two weeks of the tournament, the crowd is expected to consume more than 60,000 pounds of strawberries, complemented by nearly 2,000 gallons of cream.  Every Wimbledon, the British media spreads news on how far the British players could go ~ yet the spotlight would eventually be on William sisters.  Serena Williams and Venus Williams together have gobbled many of them.    The Williams sisters changed tennis, bringing it a new audience and forcing fans to rethink their perceptions of what a tennis player could be. Both sisters have carved out their own unique legacies through their decades of play, but as the eldest of the two, their story began with Venus.   

                Serena Williams set aside her eponymous financial investment company Serena Ventures this summer with the goal of getting back in business on the tennis court – the business of so-called play, where her true spirit of enterprise has thrived for so long. But 364 days after Williams limped off the Centre Court and out of The 2021 Championships with a first round ankle injury, her return to the tennis boardroom was voted down by France’s Harmony Tan 7-5, 1-6, 7-6(7) in a sensational three hours and 14 minutes. Undaunted by the seven-time champion, Tan responded magnificently to the challenge of her own very first match at the All England Club.  

Serena Jameka Williams (born 1981), an American professional tennis player has dominated the game like none before. She has been ranked singles world No. 1 by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) for 319 weeks, including a joint-record 186 consecutive weeks, and finished as the year-end No. 1 five times. She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most by any player in the Open Era, and the second-most of all time (behind Margaret Court's 24). Along with her older sister Venus, Serena Williams was coached by her parents Oracene Price and Richard Williams. Turning professional in 1995, she won her first major singles title at the 1999 US Open. From the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open, she was dominant, winning all four major singles titles (each time over Venus in the final) to achieve a non-calendar year Grand Slam and the career Grand Slam, known as the "Serena Slam".  Williams has also won 14 major women's doubles titles, all with her sister Venus, and the pair are unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals.  Considered as among the greatest of all times, Serena was the world's highest paid woman athlete in 2016, earning almost $29 million.  She repeated this feat in 2017 when she was the only woman on Forbes' list of the 100 highest-paid athletes, with $27 million in prize money and endorsements.  

She has been plagued by injuries -   She underwent knee surgery in 2003, yet within a year of her return she was a grand slam champion again. After arriving at the 2007 Australian Open ranked 81st, she left with the title. She nearly died from a pulmonary embolism in 2011, but she toiled back to enjoy her greatest years. In 2017, she survived a life-threatening childbirth, yet she recovered to reach four grand slam finals. Over the course of her 27 years as a professional tennis player, Williams has seen generations rise and fall, with most of her contemporaries over a decade into retirement. But time comes for us all, and in a torrid evening on Centre Court showed the challenge before her in the final chapter of her career.

After tearing a hamstring in a fall on Centre Court last year and then not playing another singles match for 52 weeks, on Tuesday she made her singles return in the same venue. Rusty and short of confidence against a player who gave her none, Williams recovered from a set down and fought her heart out before falling in the first round 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (7) to France’s Harmony Tan. In terms of ranking and experience, the world No 115 Tan was one of the better draws Williams could have received.   

As Williams seethed, the roof was closed over Centre Court. She broke serve for 2-0 after a seemingly endless 20-minute game on Tan’s serve that required seven break points and was sealed in comical fashion with a high, loopy backhand that elicited a shanked forehand from Tan.  Williams was asked if she will be back at Wimbledon, a question she did not have the answer to. “That’s a question I can’t answer,” she said. “Like, I don’t know. Who knows? Who knows where I’ll pop up.”  Despite her uncertainty, Williams did say that a tight defeat in her first match back motivated her to return to the practice court and to improve for the US Open to come.  

In her press conferences over the past week, she has insisted that she has no idea exactly how long she intends to continue.  The question after her loss is what exactly she does want and whether this new comeback will turn out to be a farewell to Wimbledon. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th June 2022. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Triplicane nostalgia ! - Excellent Stores

It was almost 9 pm – Thiruvallikkeni aka Triplicane sleeps late and gets up early – still, not the time many customers would visit this shop, just opposite to Hindu Senior Secondary School in Veeraraghava Mudali Street (famously Big Street) – its owner – lean and tall Jalaluddin was sitting relaxedly.  This shop in Triplicane has completed 70 years !! 

For Office-goers and businessmen, life is dependent on ‘Excel’ing – every transaction including household expenses are often posted on MS Excel.  Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet developed by Microsoft for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. It features calculation or computation capabilities, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications.  Excel forms part of the Microsoft Office suite of software. Using a grid of cells arranged in numbered rows and letter-named columns to organize data manipulations like arithmetic operations, it is so easy to operate. It has a battery of supplied functions to answer statistical, engineering, and financial needs. In addition, it can display data as line graphs, histograms and charts and more.  You can sort, filter and do whatever with the data at hand. Excel 2016 has 484 functions. Of these, 360 existed prior to Excel 2010. Microsoft classifies these functions in 14 categories. Of the 484 current functions, 386 may be called from VBA as methods of the object "WorksheetFunction"  and 44 have the same names as VBA functions. 

So Computer Class this .. .. but something on the noun ‘Excellent’ !!! 

The adjective Excellent  - would mean : very good of its kind : eminently good : first classx : superior.   

Etymologically, the word is from Middle English excellen, from Old French exceller, from Latin excellere, excelsum – and has many synonyms like – admirable, attractive, distinguished, exceptional, exemplary, fine, magnificent, outstanding, sterling, choicest, distinctive, meritorious, notable, premium, prime, supreme, top-notch, world-class and more.  

The noun Excellency is - "high rank," c. 1200, from Latin excellentia "superiority, excellence," from excellentem; as a title of honor it dates from early 14c. Be that it may – no post on ‘language’ either.  

In 1970s and mid 1980s – Thulasinga Perumal Kovil Street [TP koil Street where I lived] started from Gangana mantapam [Gangaikondan mantapam for Perumal].  On the left side – no. 1 was Nataraja Stores – it had an Ayurvedic practitioner (Venkataramana Dikshitalu !!) and Hindi classes on the terrace.  No.3 housed another big Ayurvedha hospital .. .. and somewhat big store called ‘Excellent Store’ selling stationery, school note books, Pencils, Pens, toys, batteries, colour paper, wired bags and more .. .. 

A grand old man used to sit in the galla, and Jalaluddin seen in first para is the grandson, now continuing family business.  It used to bustle with customers in the mornings and evenings and was a premium shop, perhaps a bit costly.  

Jalaluddin was my classmate in 8th standard in Hindu High School, Red Building – yesterday, as I passed by, took a moment and in a thrice both of us called each other name, remembering good old days.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Monday, June 27, 2022

Remembering Sher-e-Punjab - Ranjit Singh

Madhya Pradesh scripted history on Sunday as they registered their first-ever Ranji Trophy title win. The Aditya Shrivastava-led side triumphed over heavyweights Mumbai in the Finals by six wickets. Chasing 108, Madhya Pradesh took just 29.5 overs to get over the line and in the end.

                            Colonel H. H. Shri Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji II, Jam Saheb of Nawanagar, GCSI GBE (1872 – 1933) often known as Ranji or K. S. Ranjitsinhji, was the ruler of the Indian princely state of Nawanagar from 1907 to 1933, as Maharaja Jam Saheb, and a noted Test cricketer who played for the English cricket team. He also played first-class cricket for Cambridge University, and county cricket for Sussex.  The premier tournament Ranji Trophy is named after Ranjit Sinhji


Today’s post is on Ranjit Singh who died on this day 183 years ago ! – and nothing connected to Cricket.  Ranjit Singh (2 November 1780 – 27 June 1839) was popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab ie., "Lion of Punjab", was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. He survived smallpox in infancy but lost sight in his left eye. He fought his first battle alongside his father at age 10. After his father died, he fought several wars to expel the Afghans in his teenage years and was proclaimed as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at age 21.  His empire grew in the Punjab region under his leadership through 1839.

Prior to his rise, the Punjab region had numerous warring misls (confederacies), twelve of which were under Sikh rulers and one Muslim. Ranjit Singh successfully absorbed and united the Sikh misls and took over other local kingdoms to create the Sikh Empire. He repeatedly defeated invasions by outside armies, particularly those arriving from Afghanistan, and established friendly relations with the British.   His Khalsa army and government included Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Europeans.

He is described as having had many marriages – in 1789, Ranjit Singh married his first wife Mehtab Kaur,  the only daughter of Gurbaksh Singh Kanhaiya and his wife Sada Kaur, and the granddaughter of Jai Singh Kanhaiya, the founder of the Kanhaiya Misl. This marriage was pre-arranged in an attempt to reconcile warring Sikh misls. The separation became complete when Ranjit Singh married Datar Kaur of the Nakai Misl in 1797 and she turned into Ranjit's most beloved wife.   Like his first marriage, the second marriage also brought him strategic military alliance.  During the expedition to Multan in 1818, she was given command alongside her son, Kharak Singh. Throughout her life she remained Ranjit Singh's favorite. During a hunting trip with Ranjit Singh, she fell ill and died in  1838. Ratan Kaur and Daya Kaur were wives of Sahib Singh Bhangi of Gujrat (a misl north of Lahore, not to be confused the state of Gujarat).  Of the others, Jind Kaur, was to be the final spouse of Ranjit Singh.   On 6 September 1838 she gave birth to Duleep Singh, who became the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. Ranjit Singh married many times, in various ceremonies, and had twenty wives.  In 1802, Ranjit Singh married Moran Sarkar, a Muslim nautch girl. This action, and other non-Sikh activities of the Maharaja, upset orthodox Sikhs, including the Nihangs, whose leader Akali Phula Singh was the Jathedar of the Akal Takht.  When Ranjit Singh visited Amritsar, he was called outside the Akal Takht, where he was made to apologise for his mistakes.   

After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal Empire fell apart and declined in its ability to tax or govern most of the Indian subcontinent. In the northwestern region, particularly the Punjab, the creation of the Khalsa community of Sikh warriors by Guru Gobind Singh accelerated the decay and fragmentation of the Mughal power in the region.  Raiding Afghans attacked the Indus river valleys but met resistance from both organised armies of the Khalsa Sikhs as well as irregular Khalsa militias based in villages.    Ranjit Singh's fame grew in 1797, at age 17, when the Afghan Muslim ruler Shah Zaman, of the Ahmad Shah Abdali dynasty, attempted to annex Panjab region into his control through his general Shahanchi Khan and 12,000 soldiers.  The battle was fought in the territory that fell in Ranjit Singh controlled misl, whose regional knowledge and warrior expertise helped resist the invading army. This victory gained him recognition.  In 1798, the Afghan ruler sent in another army, which Ranjit Singh did not resist. He let them enter Lahore, then encircled them with his army, blocked off all food and supplies, burnt all crops and food sources that could have supported the Afghan army. Much of the Afghan army retreated back to Afghanistan. 

In 1801, Ranjit Singh proclaimed himself as the "Maharaja of Punjab", and agreed to a formal investiture ceremony, which was carried out by Baba Sahib Singh Bedi – a descendant of Guru Nanak.  In 1802, Ranjit Singh, aged 22, took Amritsar from the Bhangi Sikh misl, paid homage at the Harmandir Sahib temple, which had previously been attacked and desecrated by the invading Afghan army, and announced that he would renovate and rebuild it with marble and gold.  On 1 January 1806, Ranjit Singh signed a treaty with the British officials of the East India Company, in which he agreed that his Sikh forces would not attempt to expand south of the Sutlej river, and the Company agreed that it would not attempt to militarily cross the Sutlej river into the Sikh territory. The most significant encounters between the Sikhs in the command of the Maharaja and the Afghans were in 1813, 1823, 1834 and in 1837.  On 25 November 1838, the two most powerful armies on the Indian subcontinent assembled in a grand review at Ferozepore as Ranjit Singh, the Maharajah of the Punjab brought out the Dal Khalsa to march alongside the sepoy troops of the East India Company and the British troops in India.  In 1838, he agreed to a treaty with the British viceroy Lord Auckland to restore Shah Shoja to the Afghan throne in Kabul. In pursuance of this agreement, the British army of the Indus entered Afghanistan from the south, while Ranjit Singh’s troops went through the Khyber Pass and took part in the victory parade in Kabul.

The geographical reach of the Sikh Empire under Singh included all lands north of Sutlej river, and south of the high valleys of the northwestern Himalayas. The major towns at time included Srinagar, Attock, Peshawar, Bannu, Rawalpindi, Jammu, Gujrat, Sialkot, Kangra, Amritsar, Lahore and Multan.

Singh's most lasting legacy was the restoration and expansion of the Harmandir Sahib, the most revered Gurudwara of the Sikhs, which is now known popularly as the "Golden Temple".   

As we read the British and Moghul history, this kingdom of Ranjit Singh did not even get a cursory in our school curriculum.  It is clear that the grand powerful Sikh ruled over a big akhanda kingdom that included Punjab and most parts of present day Pakistan. His samadhi is  in Lahore, Pakistan.  On 20 August 2003, a 22-foot-tall bronze statue of Singh was installed in the Parliament of India and in June 2019,   a nine-feet bronze statue of Singh was unveiled at the Lahore Fort at his 180th death anniversary.[ It has been vandalised several times since, specifically by members of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th June 2022. 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Anne Frank doodle ! - and some history

As we get up – we look to Google searching almost everything including – ‘where did I keep my vehicle key’ – ‘when is my wife’s birthday ?  .. .. most likely you too did some search yesterday and perhaps noticed the Doodle.  Google Doodles are the logos on the Google search home page – making search more knowledgeable,  fun and enjoyable for the user. 

Of the many Cinema halls in Cinema Road in Kakinada in East Godavari district, Satyagowri is perhaps unique.  In 1990s it used to screen only English movies – the specialty was they would issue only one ticket to the person standing in the queue, all had to stand in the queue and those who stood within the marked line, were sure of getting a ticket ! – it had good music system inside – understand that this theatre stands renovated in 2008, has capacity of 696 and now screens Telegu movies as well.  I remember seeing this movie there – on day 1 – there were not many and more than half moved out fast in a few minutes as they could see more of a typewriter and letter only as someone leaving the hall remarked.


It was ‘Schindler’s List’ based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist,  released in 1993 -  directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian.  It was a film based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories.  It is a touching story dating back to 1939 when the Germans move Polish Jews into the Kraków Ghetto as World War II begins.  Not a post on Schindler or his list but on another diary – tragic though !! Yesterday Google celebrated   Anne Frank with an animated slideshow on the 75th anniversary of the publication of her diary--"The Diary of a Young Girl." 

The Franks were progressive Jews who lived in the religiously diverse outskirts of Frankfurt until the autumn of 1933. Anti-Semitism had been on the rise in Germany for several years. When the Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, took control of the government in January 1933, the Franks relocated to Amsterdam. Anne described the move in her diary: "Because we're Jewish, my father immigrated to Holland in 1933, where he became the managing director of the Dutch Opekta Company, which manufactures products used in making jam." Anne Frank was a teenage Jewish girl who kept a diary while her family was in hiding from the Nazis during World War II. For two years, she and seven others lived in a "Secret Annex" in Amsterdam before being discovered and sent to concentration camps. Anne died in the Bergen-Belsen camp in 1945. Frank's father was the family's sole survivor. He decided to publish the diary, which gives a detailed account of Anne's thoughts, feelings and experiences while she was in hiding. It has been an international bestseller for decades and a key part of Holocaust education programs.   

In May 1940, the Nazis invaded Amsterdam and the Franks were put on edge again. Jews had to wear the yellow Star of David and observe a strict curfew. They were forbidden from owning businesses. Otto Frank transferred ownership of his company to Christian associates but ran it behind the scenes. Anne and Margot had to transfer to a segregated Jewish school, according to Muller. Anne wrote, "After May 1940, the good times were few and far between; first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews." On June 12, 1942, Anne's 13th birthday, Otto gave her a red-and-white-checked notebook that she had previously picked out at a local shop. Anne decided to use it as a diary. Her first entry reads, "I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support." 

In July 1942, Germans began sending Dutch Jews to concentration camps. The Franks attempted to emigrate to the United States but were denied visas, according to The Washington Post. The family began making plans to go into hiding. Otto set up a hiding place in the rear annex of his firm, with the help of his Jewish business partner, Hermann van Pels, and his associates Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, according to the Anne Frank House. The hiding place was at 263 Prinsengracht, an area with many small companies and warehouses.

On July 5, 1942, Margot received a summons to report to a concentration camp. The Frank family went into hiding the next day, a few weeks earlier than planned.  For two years, eight people lived in the Secret Annex, according to Muller. The four Franks were joined by Hermann and Auguste van Pels and their 16-year-old son, Peter. In November 1942, Fritz Pfeffer, a dentist and friend of the Frank family, moved in. Pfeffer is referred to as Albert Dussel in many editions of Anne's diary because she sometimes used pseudonyms. 

In her diary, Anne described the Secret Annex, saying it had several small rooms and narrow halls.   Anne wanted to be a professional journalist when she grew up. She kept several notebooks when in hiding. While her first and most famous was the red-checked notebook, when that ran out of space, she moved on to others, according to the Anne Frank House. Anne made detailed entries throughout her time in the Secret Annex. She wrote, "The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings. Otherwise, I'd absolutely suffocate." 

On March 28, 1944, the residents of the Secret Annex heard a special news report on the radio. Dutch Cabinet Minister Gerrit Bolkestein announced that diaries and other documents would be collected when the war ended in order to preserve an account of what happened for future generations. Anne decided that she would submit her diary, and began revising it for future readers !!  

On Aug. 4, 1944, German police stormed the Secret Annex. Everyone in hiding was arrested. It is unknown how the police discovered the annex. Theories include betrayal, perhaps by the warehouse staff or helper Bep Voskuijl's sister Nelly. At  Auschwitz, the men and women were separated. This was the last time that Anne saw her father. Later  Anne & others were transferred to Bergen-Belsen in Germany. Bergen-Belsen was overcrowded, and infectious diseases were rampant. After three months, Anne and Margot developed typhus. Margot died in February 1945. Anne died a few days later. The exact dates of their deaths are unknown!!  

Schindler’s list saved a few hundreds from death – Anne’s diary reveals children’s experience during those tragic times – one cannot even imagine on how many other little girls were there and how many were persecuted during those horrid era.  

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th June 2022. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

devastating Earthquake rocks Afghanistan - leaves thousands dead !!

The name Durand may strike a chord !  - Sir Henry Mortimer Durand (1850 – 1924)  was a British diplomat and member of the Indian Civil Service. Born at Sehore, Bhopal, India, he was the son of Sir Henry Marion Durand, the Resident of Baroda and he was educated at Blackheath Proprietary School, and Tonbridge School. 

Paktika is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan, located in the eastern part of the country. Forming part of the larger Loya Paktia region, Paktika has a population of mostly ethnic Pashtuns. The town of Sharana serves as the provincial capital, while the most populous city is Urgun. Paktika sits adjacent to the Durand Line border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The Shinkay Hills run through the center of Paktika; Toba Kakar Range runs along the border with Pakistan.   Paktika, like many other areas of Afghanistan, has been severely deforested. This has been a cause of devastating floods in recent years. The province is mainly hilly and interspersed with seasonal river valleys.  The Gomal River, which has a varied flow depending on season, runs from its origin in the mountains of the Sar Hawza District and flows south, before turning southeast to the Pakistani border, forming the broad river valley that defines the topography of the Gomal District, before flowing east through Pakistan and eventually running to the powerful Indus River.

An earthquake (also known as a quake, tremor or temblor) is the perceptible shaking of the surface of the Earth, resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. Earthquakes can be violent enough to toss people around and destroy whole cities.


Earthquakes have been occurring on Earth since its formation. They occur when tectonic plates that are sliding against or past each other build up enough tension to slip, causing the rock to settle into a new position and the ground to shake. The United States Geological Survey predicts that 500,000 earthquakes happen every year, although most go undetected because they are so small or so far away from populated areas. 10,000 of them can be felt by humans and 100 of them cause damage. Unfortunately, scientists have not yet discovered a reliably precise way to predict earthquakes, and there is debate over whether such a thing is even possible. Current prediction methods involve measuring the tension that has been bled off by past earthquakes and how often earthquakes have occurred at that location before. Due to the fact that the instruments that can measure tension and accurate seismographs are a recent invention, earthquake prediction continues to be inaccurate and imprecise. 

A powerful earthquake has killed at least 1,000 people and injured 1,500 in eastern Afghanistan, an official of the ruling Taliban told the BBC.  The Taliban appealed for international help for the rescue effort as pictures showed landslides and ruined mud-built homes in the province of Paktika. The quake struck shortly after 01:30 (this morning) as people slept.  Media reports suggest that hundreds  of houses had been  destroyed by the magnitude 6.1 event, which occurred at a depth of 51km (32 miles). 

Landlocked and mountainous, Afghanistan has suffered from such chronic instability and conflict during its modern history that its economy and infrastructure are in ruins, and many of its people are refugees. The Taliban, who imposed strict Islamic rule following a devastating civil war, were ousted by a US-led invasion in 2001, but made a rapid comeback to take over almost all of the country after US forces left in 2021. Hibatullah Akhundzada became the supreme commander of the Taliban in 2016, and is now head of state of their interim government in Kabul, called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. He fought in the resistance to the Soviet military occupation in the 1980s, and went on to lead the Islamic courts during the Taliban's last period in government in 1996-2001.


It is the deadliest earthquake to strike Afghanistan in two decades and a major challenge for the Taliban, the Islamist movement which regained power last year after the Western-backed government collapsed. The earthquake struck about 44km from the city of Khost and tremors were felt as far away as Pakistan.  Witnesses reported feeling the quake in both Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, and Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Taliban officials asked the UN to "support them in terms of assessing the needs and responding to those affected", Sam Mort from Unicef's Kabul unit told the BBC. 

Earthquakes tend to cause significant damage in Afghanistan, where dwellings in many rural areas are unstable or poorly built. Speaking to Reuters news agency, locals described horrific scenes of death and destruction in the aftermath of the late-night earthquake. "Every street you go, you hear people mourning the deaths of their beloved ones," a journalist in Paktika province told the BBC.  Afghanistan’s deputy minister for disaster management Sharafuddin Muslim said at least 920 people had been killed and a further 600 injured, at a news conference.  Media reports suggest that death toll could be much more ! The devastation caused by the earthquake include villages razed to the ground. There have been landslides and destroyed mud houses in the eastern province of Paktika, according to the BBC.    

The quake was of 6.1 magnitude, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, and tremors were also felt in neighbouring Pakistan. 

The Durand Line  forms the Afghanistan–Pakistan border, a 2,670-kilometre (1,660 mi) international land border between the countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan in South Asia. The western end runs to the border with Iran and the eastern end to the border with China. The Durand Line was established in 1893 as the international border between British India and the Emirate of Afghanistan by Mortimer Durand, a British diplomat of the Indian Civil Service, and Abdur Rahman Khan, the Afghan Emir, to fix the limit of their respective spheres of influence and improve diplomatic relations and trade. The British considered Afghanistan to be an independent state at the time, although they controlled its foreign affairs and diplomatic relations.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd June 2022. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

SYMA thanks you for your generous donation to Educational Aid

*Smile changes miles* !  - *Purpose of life is making others happy through service to Society*. 

Good quality Education is the only thing that can change the lives of children coming from lower echelons of society.   I am happy by the response of my friends in their extending support to SYMA for the Educational Aid programme including distribution of uniforms to school children & Tuition centre Growth -  details @ : 

A big thank you !! – would request those who have transferred to please message me through SMS/WA/Twitter/email providing details.  (require PAN & address – please ignore if you have provided already)


Pic of twins who had come for receiving application for uniforms !!


Monday, June 20, 2022

the captivating smile of ........

ஹேய் நீ ரொம்ப அழகா இருக்கே !!  (யாரவது உங்களை பார்த்து சொன்னால் எப்படி இருக்கும்) - தலை நரைத்து, வெண்தாடி கொண்ட என்னை பார்த்து சொல்லவில்லை - நான் சொன்னேன் !!

சிரிப்பு ஒரு சிறந்த மருந்து - கண்ணதாசன் வரிகளில் ஆண்டவன் கட்டளை படத்தில் ஓர் சிறந்த பாடல் : 

சிரிப்பு வருது சிரிப்பு வருது சிரிக்கச் சிரிக்க சிரிப்பு வருது

சிரிப்பு வருது சிரிப்பு வருது சிரிக்கச் சிரிக்க சிரிப்பு வருது

சின்ன மனுஷன் பெரிய மனுஷன் செயலைப் பாக்க சிரிப்பு வருது 

பல வருஷங்கள் முன்பு NS கிருஷ்ணன் TA மதுரம் சேர்ந்து பாடிய மருதகாசி இயற்றிய பாடல் :  

சிரிப்பு, இதன் சிறப்பை சீர்தூக்கிப் பார்ப்பதே - நமது பொறுப்பு

கருப்பா வெளுப்பா என்பதை எடுத்துக் காட்டும் - கண்ணாடி சிரிப்பு - மனம்

இந்த பாடலில் மேலும் வரும் வரிகள் :

சிந்திக்கத் தெரிந்த மனித குலத்துக்கே-  சொந்தமான கையிருப்பு - வேறு

ஜீவராசிகள் செய்ய முடியாத - செயலாகும் இந்த சிரிப்பு  

இந்த காட்டு கழுதை  சரியான போஸ் கொடுக்க கொஞ்சம் பிகு பண்ணியது !! என்னை படம் எடுத்து என்ன பண்ணப்போறே என்று வினவியது ?  -  ஹேய் நீ ரொம்ப அழகா இருக்கே !!  என்றேன்.  மேலும் மக்கள், உன் படத்தை  'என்னைப்பார் யோகம் வரும்' என்ற வாசகங்களுடன் மாட்டி,  விழித்து எழுகிறார்கள் என்றேன் !!  

களுக் என்று ஆனந்தமாக பற்கள் பளீரென தெரிய,  சிரித்து  மயக்கினாள் அந்த அழகி! 

உங்களுக்கு பிடித்துள்ளதா !!!


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Joining the elite Indian Army - Support " Agnipath" - it is good for the Nation

It sounds shame and insane – at some parts, some anti-social elements are indulging in violence, damaging public property and torching even trains ! – the culprits should be punished severely.  Today the Central Govt has  banned as many as 35 WhatsApp groups for spreading fake news about the new military recruitment scheme - Agnipath. The government is tracking people involved in spreading misinformation and inciting violence.


The distinguished history of Indian Army dates back more than ten thousand years. The two grand epics of ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ constitute the fundamental framework around which the edifice of Indian Army is built.  Though innumerable wars have been fought thereafter, most were in quest of universal peace and ‘dharma’. Recourse to arms was only taken when peace was threatened. In fact the word 'peace' forms the very core of Indian philosophy, which can most aptly be traced to one of India's ancient scriptures known as the ‘Yajurveda’. It is stated in verse, the English translation of which reads - “May the sky be peaceful; may the atmosphere be peaceful; may the earth be peaceful; may eternal peace cometh upon us”. 

Immediately after the Independence of the Nation, there was unrest in some parts and Indian Army brought things under control.  The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947–1948, or the First Kashmir War,  was an armed conflict that was fought between India and Pakistan over the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir from 1947 to 1948.   

Amid protests and agitations against the newly-launched Agnipath recruitment scheme for the military, Lt Gen Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Dept of Military Affairs, today clarified the scheme will be implemented and there is no question of a rollback. He also clarified that all recruitment will be through the Agnipath scheme only.  Lt Gen Puri was addressing a joint military briefing on the Agnipath recruitment scheme with Air Marshal SK Jha, Vice Admiral Dinesh Tripathi, and LG C Bansi Ponnappa. He further stated that  the Agniveers would get the same allowance in areas like Siachen and other areas which are applicable to the regular soldiers serving at present. "No discrimination against them in service conditions," he added. Calling this reform ‘long-pending’, Lt Gen Puri said, "We want a mix of josh and hosh and that is why we wanted to reduce the age profile. The average age is 32 years at present and we want to reduce it as per the recommendations of the Kargil review committee and Arun Singh committee report," Lt Gen Puri said.


Agnipath: would infuse young blood to the Indian army and bring down the average age.    The process of recruiting 46,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen this year will begin on a "all-India, all-class" basis under the Agnipath scheme.



The Union government on June 14 announced the radical and far-reaching 'Agnipath' scheme, deploying Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the three Service chiefs to deflect criticism that it will undermine the armed forces' professionalism, ethos, and fighting spirit, as well as potentially lead to the militarization of civil society. The process of recruiting 46,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen this year will begin on an "all-India, all-class" basis under the Agnipath scheme, which was authorised by the PM Shri Narendra Modi-led Cabinet panel.   

·         The scheme allows patriotic and motivated youth to serve in the Armed Forces for a period of four years. Agnipath scheme entails a recruitment process for individuals with ranks below that of officers, with the goal of deploying fitter, younger troops on the front lines. It's a game-changer that will give the Army, Navy, and Air Force a more youthful image.

·         Primarily it will be men and women between ages of 17.5 and 23 (then why people who look in their 40s in photos are protesting !) "After four years, Agniveers will be able to apply voluntarily for the regular cadre. Based on merit, organisation requirement, up to 25% shall be selected from that batch"

·         All three services will be enrolled via a centralized online system, with specific rallies and campus interviews held by recognized technical colleges such as Industrial Training Institutes and the National Skills Qualifications Framework, among others.

·         The first-year salary package is s 4.76 lakh, with an increase to Rs 6.92 lakh in the fourth year. Following the release, the Seva Nidhi package costs approximately Rs 11.71 lakh, including interest (tax-free) There is also a Rs 48 lakh non-contributory insurance cover. If the individuals receive an Agniveer skill certificate, it will help them find post-release employment.

·         After completion of 4 years -  25% of Agniveers will be retained in the regular cadre based on merit, willingness, and medical fitness. They will then serve another full term of 15 years. While the remaining 75% of Agniveers will be demobilised, they will be given an exit or "Seva Nidhi" package worth Rs 11-12 lakh, which will be funded in part by their monthly contributions, as well as skill certificates and bank loans to help them in their second careers.


It gives young people a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to serve their country and contribute to national development. The Armed Forces would be more youthful and vibrant. The Agniveers will receive a good monetary package as well as the opportunity to train in the best military ethos in civil society and institutions while also improving their skills and qualifications. This will result in civil society having well-disciplined and skilled youth with a military ethos. 

Some guided insane are protesting that  there is no job security in the scheme and Agniveers will not be eligible for pension benefits. They demand a rollback of “contractualisation” of jobs in the Indian Army.  

On the protests and acts of violence happening across the country, Lt General Puri said, "Indian Army's foundation is discipline. No space for arson, vandalism. Every individual will have to take a pledge that they were not part of protests or vandalism". He said that the individual against whom an FIR is lodged would not be allowed to join the forces. All candidates will have to give a written pledge that they did not indulge in any arson/violence, he added. 

"By December, we will get the first batch of 25,000 Agniveers and the second batch would be inducted around February 2023 making it 40,000," said Lt Gen Bansi Ponappa. Lt Gen Puri that the Centre will start with the recruitment of 46,000 Army aspirants to 'analyse' the scheme. "In next 4 to 5 years, our intake (of soldiers) will be 50,000-60,000 and will increase to 90,000 to 1 lakh subsequently. We've started small at 46,000 to analyse the scheme... and to build up infra capacity," he said.


Jai Jawan, Jai Hind


With regards – S. Sampathkumar
19th June 2022. 

Sunday streetwalk - sunflower and painting !

 Sunday’s would start rather leisurely for some ! – if you enjoy your sleep, you may lose some ! – on the streets there are plethora of surprises awaiting
1.   The common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is a large annual forb of the genus Helianthus. A common misconception is that flowering sunflower heads track the Sun across the sky. Although immature flower buds exhibit this behaviour, the mature flowering heads point in a fixed (and typically easterly) direction throughout the day.
எந்த பூவிலும் வாசம் உண்டு;  எந்த பாட்டிலும் ராகம் உண்டு;  எந்தன் வாழ்விலும்
அர்த்தம் உண்டு  - (முரட்டுக்காளை - இசை இளையராஜா - பாடல் பஞ்சு அருணாச்சலம்)
சற்று கூர்ந்து நோக்கின் பூவில் ஈரத்தையும் காணலாம்.
2.   What a lovely art – unlikely that this artist was recognized or paid well – painting on the RBI subway nearer Parrys Corner.

If you had observed some distortion – good !  - it is not entirely on a single wall – the background is on the wall – and in between a pedestrian passage – the painter has synchronized it so well.
Hats off to this unknown genius.
Sampath speaking ! and photographing !
19th June 2022

Friday, June 17, 2022

Hail the great martyr of Indian freedom struggle - Veera Vanchinathan - this day 111 years ago !

வீரசுதந்திரம் வேண்டி, தம் இன்னுயிர் ஈந்தார் தமை  போற்றுவோம்

This day 111 years ago !!


Padma river is one of the important rivers of Bangladesh and there is a century old steel railway truss bridge over the river at Ishwardi, Pabna and Bheramara, and Kushtia in Bangladesh. Those of us interested in history would have read about Delhi Conspiracy case too – the subject matter of the post preceded that too.     

In school days, History was no doubt interesting ! ~  what we read about Indian freedom struggle was often a terse statement of India getting freedom through non-violent (ahimsa) means advocated by Mahatma Gandhi.  The history as handed by Britishers and reviewed by commies neither portrayed the cruelty of the rulers nor the sacrifices of innumerable individuals. 

The King-Emperor vs Nilakanta Alias Brahmachari  and others was a sensational case before the Madras High Court  on 15 February, 1912.  In this case fourteen persons were tried by a Special Bench of this Court, constituted under Section 6(6) of the Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908, for an offence, and the arguments centered around ‘Evidence Act’  "competent to investigate the fact". It is unfortunate that there was no adequate inquiry before the Special Bench as to how far Inspector was an authority legally competent to investigate the facts relating to the murder of a British official.  The Deputy Inspector-General of his Department,  was a witness, but he was never asked any question at all as to the Inspector's competency to investigate. The result the Bench recorded that – ‘we are obliged to deal with the case on very imperfect information as to the facts’.  Fourteen persons were tried on charges under Section 121 A, Indian Penal Code, and Section 302, Indian Penal Code, read with Sections 109 and 111, by a Special Bench of three learned Judges (the Chief Justice, Sankaran Nair and Ayling, JJ.) constituted under the provisions of the Indian Criminal Law Amendment Act (XIV of 1908) which provides for the speedy trial of certain offences. The trial was held without a jury and the Bench unanimously found that the charge under the latter sections of abetment of murder was not proved against any of the prisoners and acquitted them all under that head of the indictment. But upon the remaining count, viz., the charge of conspiring to wage war against the King-Emperor, the learned Judges did not agree with respect to the case against all the accused : the Chief Justice and Ayling, J. came to the conclusion that the charge was substantiated against 9 out of the 14 persons tried but not against the rest  while Sankaran Nair, J. was of opinion that the Crown failed to establish the case not only against the five persons acquitted by the majority of the Bench but also against four other accused persons.

Before we proceed further – Tamil Nadu now has 38 districts – about a century ago districts in Madras Presidency would include :  Anantapur; Bellary, Chingleput, Coimbatore, Cuddapah, Ganjam, Godavari, Krishna, Kurnool,  Madura, Malabar, Nellore, Arcot, Canara, Trichinopoly, Vizag and Tinnevely !  The name District Collector evokes awe even among the senior officers. The person on the street looks at the post as a saviour and the administration is diffident in the presence of the Collector. The post was created in  1772 by the East India Company.  Up to 1853, the Directors of the British East India Company made appointments of covenanted civil servants by nominations. This nomination system was abolished in 1861 by the Parliament in England and it was decided that the induction would be through competitive examinations of all British subjects, without distinction of race.

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

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

As you travel down south and as the train winds its way to a small station – perhaps you might get down to free your legs, take a stroll or enjoy a cup of tea – unlikely that you will bow down to touch the land ! – after Madurai, it would be Virudunagar, Sattur, Kovilpatti and 624 km away from Chennai Egmore it is Maniyachi station – now named ‘VanchiManiyachi Junction’. 111 years ago, around 10.40 in the morning pistol sounded – there was commotion as the only killing of British Official in South India occurred – few minutes later – there were sounds of pistol again – this time the martyrdom of a youth – hardly 25 years of age did the supreme sacrifice of his life for the motherland.

Pic credit: Veera Vanchi by Rakami – Barathi Noolagam, KUmbakonam

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

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

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

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

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

The railway bridge mentioned in first para on Padma river is named Hardinge bridge, named after - Charles Hardinge, 1st Baron Hardinge of Penshurst, who served as Viceroy and Governor-General of India at the time of Ashe incident.  The Delhi Conspiracy case, also known as the Delhi-Lahore Conspiracy, refers to an attempt made in 1912 to assassinate the then Viceroy of India, Lord Hardinge by throwing local bomb (a self-made), on the occasion of transferring the capital of British India from Calcutta to New Delhi. Hatched by the Indian revolutionary underground in Bengal and Punjab and headed by Rash Behari Bose, the conspiracy culminated in the attempted assassination on 23 December 1912, when a homemade bomb was thrown into the Viceroy's howdah as the ceremonial procession was moving through the Chandni Chowk suburb of Delhi.

Nation needs to remember all those martyrs and record their history in proper perspective – it is not Congress who alone fought for freedom and obtained it without bloodshed.  They only got lioness share of power once British left.

With  great regards – Salutes to all those martyrs and special pranams to Vanchinathan.

S. Sampathkumar
17th June 2022.