Archive for April, 2011

Entrepreneurs! … Take Heart …

Posted on April 28, 2011. Filed under: American Thinkers, Guide Posts |

This is Teddy Roosevelt in a 1910 Speech in Paris  …

“It is not the critic who counts,  nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena – whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly – who errs – who comes short again and again.  Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.

He is the one who strives to do the deeds and who knows the great enthusiasms and the great devotions. He is tne who spends himself in a worthy cause and who best knows – in the end – the triumph of high achievement.

And who at the worst – if he fails – at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls, who neither know victory nor know defeat”.

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Greatest Batsman Ever – Donald Bradman …

Posted on April 22, 2011. Filed under: Personalities, Sports |

Did you know that in Cricket the first Testical Guard was adopted way back in 1874. It took a whole hundred years before the Cricket World adopted, in 1974, the Helmet!

Early this month India won the Cricket World Cup and the euphoria has been unending. Sachin is the God of Cricket! But yesterday there was Gavaskar and before that P0lly Umrigar and Vinoo Mankad. There were Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards and Sir Garfield Sobers, the Three Ws – the list is endless.

About time we had  a look at the Greatest of them all –  Sir Donald Bradman (1908 –  2001). Mind you the Second War robbed him of some seven years of  play – and that when he was at his most prolific!

Standing five foot seven, Don Bradman was the most prolific run getter of all time – a veritable run making machine. In the team he was not a popular figure. His dynamic batting contrasted sharply with his aloof, quiet, solitary off-field demeanor. And he was the most reluctant of heroes.

Intensely private – even reclusive. At least initially he received less from the Cricket World compared to the  adulation he received from the public. Such hero worship embarrassed him no end.

In his first class debut at 19 he scored a century and did the same in his second Test. His style featured his trademark of supreme confidence,  fast foot work and rapid scoring.

In the initial First Class Season he hit his first triple century of 340 not out and averaged 93.88. In the next season he hit 452, a world record and averaged 113.28.

In the last Test of his first Ashes series Australian lost by 12 runs when he was last man to be out – a run out. Such was his remorse that never again in his entire Test career did he ever get himself run out. And to minimize the chances of his being caught, he always kept the ball low; hitting sixes was not favored.

In 1930 England were favorites to retain the Ashes. The first Test saw him make 131 but his team lost. In the Second his 254 helped level the series. The third Test saw him score a century before lunch and  two more  before end of play. He remains the only player to pass 300 in a day. His 334 became a world-record.

In the deciding Test he made 232 and Australia regained the Ashes.  He had scored 974 runs at an average of 139.14 with two double hundreds and a triple hundred!

Against the West Indians he made 223 in 297 mins and 152 in 154 mins. Against the South Africans he made 226 in 277 mins, 112 in 155 mins, and 167 in 183 mins.

His overall scoring rate was 42 runs per hour with 38.5% being scored in boundaries. Significantly, he had not hit a Six which typified his attitude of keeping the ball on the ground.

His youth and natural fitness allowed him to adopt a machine like approach to batting. A fast bowler said bowling to him was heart-breaking – what with him not even perspiring and with the ghost of a grin playing on his face.

Before the 1932 Ashes Series, the English Papers screamed, “It is almost time to request a legal limit on the number of runs Bradman should be allowed to make!”

The response was more sinister when the dour, diabolic, Mumbai’s Malabar Hill born, Douglas Jardine was made  Captain. Jardine settled on five pace men and devised what came to be known as Body Line, with fast bowling consistently aimed at the leg stump and delivered short so as to rise and hit the body of the batsman. There was a cordon of six fielders on the leg side to catch any thing that the batsman hit.

Bodyline was specially prepared, nurtured and expended on Bradman. In the event it plucked something vibrant from his art.

Bradman missed the first Test but in the second, he was bowled first ball for a duck. The leg side delivery had failed to rise and Bradman drew the ball onto his leg stump. In the second innings he hit a century.

Thereafter he developed his own tactic and much to the dismay of cricket lovers began to hit the ball as if it were a tennis or golf ball so as to place it in the large open vacant spaces. His series average dropped to 56.57 .

Despite loud and persistent calls for the Australian team to repay in kind, their Captain steadfastly refused to adopt Bodyline despite being injured himself. There were others injured too – one of whom had his skull fractured. The Aussie Captain maintained that there were two teams but only one was playing cricket.

Australia strongly appealed to the English to play like  sportsmen. The English hierarchy refused to halt the intimidatory tactic and relations between the countries became tense. Even trade was effected.

However when Bodyline was used in England against the West Indians, they returned the compliment in kind and injured Jardine himself.

The English public had now seen first hand, for the first time, what Body line really was and they booed and deplored the tactic thereby forcing the establishment to shy away.

There were many in the English side too (including their star bowler Harold Larwood), who were against it.  Indeed the Nawab of Pataudi (Actor Saif Ali Khan’s Grand Pa) playing for the MCC, refused to field in the leg trap and Jardine taunted him a ‘conscientious objector.’

Forced by public opinion, the cricket establishment in England began to give it a wide berth. Jardine saw the writing on the wall and announced his non availability thereby saving himself the ignominy of being sacked.

For the initial part of the next -1934 – tour Bradman suffered from ill health though he started with a double century. He seemed to have lost his touch as he batted with total disregard for anything defensive and was often out to wild strokes. He went 13  innings without a century – the longest such spell of his career.

He then found his touch and in the third Test made 140, with the last 90 runs coming in just 45 minutes. In the next Test he batted all day before finally being out for 304 off 473 balls.

In the first innings of the next Test Bradman made 244 off 271 balls and for the fourth time in five series, the Ashes changed hands. England would not recover them again until after Bradman’s retirement.

In the 1936/37 Ashes as Captain, Bradman with two ducks lost the first two Tests. In the Third Test, battling influenza and coming at No 7 he made 270 off 375 balls. Wisden rated this performance as the best Test match innings of all time.

His patient second innings of 212 from 395 balls helped level the series. In the series deciding Fifth Test, Bradman returned to his aggressive style and top scored with 169 (off 191 balls) and Australia won by an innings.

During the 1938 tour of England, Bradman played the most consistent cricket of his career. Playing 26 innings, he recorded 13 centuries and in scoring 2,429 runs achieved an average of 115.66.

In the First Test Bradman secured a draw with a patient 144 not out. He played a similar innings of 102 not out in the next Test as Australia again struggled to draw. Rain washed out the third Test but in the next Test he scored 103 out of a total of 242 having accepted to bat in poor light.

The euphoria of securing the Ashes preceded Australia’s worst ever defeat when England amassed a world record of 7/903 with Len Hutton scoring his 364. With Bradman and another batsman  injured and unable to bat, Australia were thrashed by an innings and 579 runs – which remains the largest margin in Test cricket history.

Despite the pressure of captaincy, Bradman’s batting form remained supreme. The experienced mature batting of the ‘Don’ had replaced the blitzing of the ‘Boy from Bowral’.

In 1938–39, in Australia he made centuries in six consecutive innings and totalled 21 centuries in 34 innings.

The 1939–40 season was Bradman’s most productive ever with 1,448 runs at an average of 144.8 and with three double centuries. However, it was the end of an era as the outbreak of World War Two led to the indefinite postponement of all cricket tours.

Surprisingly, in light of his batting prowess, a routine army test revealed that Bradman suffered from poor eyesight.

In the 1946 Test Series after the War, Bradman regained his finest pre-war form in making 187, followed by 234 during the Second Test despite serious health and fitness problems. In the remainder of the series, he made three half-centuries in six innings, but remained the leading batsman on either side with an average of 97.14.

Against India in Australia, he made 172 and in the five Tests scored 715 runs at an average of 178.75.

His last double century in Australia was in Adelaide where he announced that he would retire after the next England tour.

For the 1948 tour, Australia had one of the Great Teams of Cricket History. Bradman had made it known that he wanted to go through the tour unbeaten – a feat never accomplished before or since.

Spectators were drawn to the matches knowing that it would be their last opportunity to see Bradman in action.

Often, especially at the start of the innings, due to his vision problems, Bradman played where the ball wasn’t and spectators rubbed their eyes!

Yet despite his waning powers, Bradman compiled 11 centuries, amassing 2,428 runs (average 89.92). His highest score was 187 when Australia compiled a world record of 721 runs in a day.

In the Fourth Test, England set Australia a world record 404 runs to win in 345 minutes on a heavily worn wicket. In partnership with Arthur Morris’ 182, Bradman reeled off 173 not out and the match was won with 15 minutes to spare. The victory was called the finest ever in its conquest of seemingly insuperable odds!

In the Final Test at The Oval, Bradman walked out to bat in Australia’s first innings. He received a standing ovation from the crowd and three cheers from the opposition.

His Test batting average stood at 101.39. Bradman facing his second ball, tried to push it forward but was deceived by the googly and bowled between bat and pad, for a duck.

An England batting collapse resulted in an innings victory and denied Bradman the opportunity to bat again.

Thus his career average finished at 99.94. If he had scored four runs in his last innings, it would have been a picture perfect 100.

The Australian team won the Ashes 4–0, completing the tour unbeaten and entered History as ‘The Invincibles’.

With Bradman retired from professional cricket an English Newspaper wrote,

A legend has been removed from among us. Such must have been the feeling when Rome heard of the passing away of Hannibal“.

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Anna Hazare – the Man of the Times …

Posted on April 10, 2011. Filed under: Indian Thought, Personalities |

The Year 2011 seems to be the Year of the People. It saw the Arab World in turmoil courtesy the dissatisfied ordinary citizen. Among others there was Egypt whose people  ousted Hosni Mumbarak and ended his thirty year rule.

In India it seems that the Time of Anna Hazare, who epitomizes RK Laxman’s humble citizen, has arrived. He seems even more relevant than Gandhi!

The guy was a truck  driver in the Army and so is in sharp contrast to recent Army Chiefs who have been arraigned for moral turpitude amounting to corruption!

The current crises which put him on the National Stage is the fact that the Indian Anti Corruption Bill has been hanging fire since 1969 when the Rajya Sabha rejected it. Now on 5 April, Anna Hazare initiated a movement for passing a stronger anti-corruption bill. When his demand was summarily rejected by the Prime Minister, he began his fast.

This attracted attention very quickly and soon became a National Phenomenon cutting across all barriers – courtesy the media , the internet and the youth. Thousands, including the rich and famous, joined the protest and over a hundred joined in the fast.

On April 8. the Government relented because of the popular mood and agreed to his demand. So, who is this Anna Hazare?

He is essentially of the Gandhian mould having faith a plenty in the human race. Apart from the Padmabhushan and Padmashri Awards, he was bestowed the World Bank 2008 Award for Outstanding Public Service. The citation reads –

“Hazare created a thriving model village in Ralegan Siddhi, which lies in the impoverished region of Maharashtra. He also championed the Right to Information and the Fight Against Corruption”.

According to Anna Hazare, “The dream of India as a strong nation will not be realized without self-reliant, self-sufficient villages, This can be achieved only through social commitment and involvement of the common man.”

This briefly then is Anna’s story.

In 1940, Anna was born into the family of an impoverished unskilled daily wage labourer who fought a losing battle trying to retain his meager land holding. By nature socially aware, he was involved in brawls with antisocial elements. He subsequently became a truck driver in the Indian Army.and during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, he was the sole survivor in an exchange of fire.

He has been inspired and has become a social activist courtesy the writings of Vivekananda,Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave.

He began improvements in his village by addressing himself to improving agriculture by water harvesting and preventing soil erosion. Contour trenches and gully plugs were constructed along the hill slopes. Grass, shrubs and 3 lakh trees were planted along the hillside. There was afforestation, nullah bunds, underground check dams and cemented bandhs at strategic locations.

The Watershed Development programme became a huge success and helped increase the fortunes of farmers as they now had a reliable source of water. Ralegan has also experimented with drip and bi-valve irrigation in a big way. Papaya, lemon and chillies have been planted on a plot of 80 acres entirely irrigated by the drip irrigation system. Cultivation of water-intensive crops like sugar cane was banned. Crops such as pulses, oilseeds and certain cash crops with low water requirements were grown.

The farmers started growing high yield varieties of crop and the cropping pattern of the village was changed. He has helped farmers of more than 70 villages in the drought-prone regions of Maharashtra.

He also addressed dairy improvement and brought in better pedigrees to raise dairy prospects. Today around 2500 litres per day is sent to a co-operative dairy in Ahmednagar.

Side by side he fought against alcoholism, which was banned and he helped change the marriage celebrations thereby vastly reducing expenditure on that account.

Due to his efforts in July 2009, the state government issued a government resolution amending the Bombay Prohibition Act. As per the amendments, if at least 25% of women voters demand liquor prohibition through a written application to the state excise department, voting should be conducted through a secret ballot. If 50% of the voters vote against the sale of liquor prohibition should be imposed in the village and the sale of liquor should be stopped.

Along with the removal of alcohol from the village, it was decided to ban the sale of tobacco, cigarettes and beedies. In order to implement this resolution, the youth group performed a Holi and burnt the tobacco items. There is not a single shop in Ralegaon Siddhi selling cigarettes or bidis.

He also worked to increase literacy rates and education levels. In 1976 they started a pre school for the primary school and a high school in 1979. The villagers formed a Trust to take over the function of the village school which was in a bad state due to government neglect and teachers who were moonlighting.

The trust obtained a government grant of 4 lakhs and a new school building was built in two months with volunteer effort and money obtained via the grant. A new hostel was constructed to house 200 students from poorer sections of society. A girl became the first female in the village to complete her SSC in 1982. Since then the school has a hostel for 150 boarders.

The social barriers that existed due to the caste system have been broken down by the villagers and people of all castes celebrate events together. The dalits have been integrated into the social and economic life and Houses for Harijans and Dalits have been built and they are helped to repay their loans to free them from their indebtedness.

Contrast this with the National Reservation Policy and the desire of the whole of India to be declared ‘scheduled caste/tribe’ so that the privileges and perks are a birth right!

The rural poor get into a debt trap due to the heavy marriage expense, which is a social obligation. Hazare helped start collective marriage celebrations wherein there is one feast cooked and served by a Tarun Mandal.

Anna campaigned between 1998 and 2006 for amending the Gram Sabha Act, so that the people (meaning the the villagers) have a say in the development works in their village. When the state government refused to bend to his demand, it had to give in due to public pressure.

Projects and development activities are undertaken only after they are discussed in the Gram Sabha. All decisions like Nasbandi, Nasabandi(bans on alcohol), Kurhadbandi (bans on tree felling), Charai bandi(bans on grazing), and Shramdan were taken in the Gram Sabha.

There are also several registered societies that take care of various projects and activities of the village. Each society presents its annual report and statement of accounts in the Gram Sabha every year.

The Sant Yadavbaba Shikshan Prasarak Mandali monitors the educational activities. The Vivid karyakari society gives assistance and provides guidance to farmers regarding fertilizers, seeds, organic farming, financial assistance, etc. Sri Sant Yadavbaba Doodh Utpadhak Sahakari sansta gives guidance regarding the dairy business. Seven Co-operative irrigation society provides water to the farmers from cooperative wells. Mahila Sarvage Utkarsh Mandal attends the welfare needs of the women.

Right to Information

In the early 2000s, Anna Hazare led a movement in Maharashtra, which forced the Government to repeal the earlier weak act and pass a stronger Maharashtra Right to Information Act. This Act was later considered as the base document for the Right to Information Act, enacted by Government.

Fight Against Corruption

Hazare protested against the alleged malpractices in the purchase of powerlooms by the Social Welfare minister of the Shiv Sena and his wife. He forwarded documentary evidences to the Maharashtra Governor The Minister filed a defamation suit against Hazare who was awarded three months imprisonment. The ensuing public protests ensured his release.

In 2003, corruption charges were raised by Hazare against four ministers of the Congress-NCP. A One Man Commission held three of them guilty and they resigned.

Hazare’s Favourite Observaions

Ban on consumption and sale of alcohol lays the foundation of rural development.

It is impossible to change the village without transforming the individual. Similarly it is impossible to transform the country without changing its villages.

The work of social transformation is neither easy nor impossible.

Indulgence causes disease whereas sacrifice leads to accomplishment.

It is experience that gives the direction but it is youth that gives the drive to every plan.


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True Grit and True Wit …

Posted on April 3, 2011. Filed under: Light plus Weighty, Movies |

There was this John Wayne movie, ‘True Grit’ which is supposedly a classic. Well, here are all most classic responses of mechanics on mechanical faults noted by pilots. “Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers lack a sense of humor”!

After every flight, pilots fill out a form called a gripe sheet, which conveys to the mechanics problems encountered with the aircraft during the flight, that need repair or correction.

The mechanics read and correct the problem and then respond in writing on the lower half of the form, what remedial action was taken and the pilot reviews the gripe sheets before the next flight.

Here follow actual logged maintenance complaints and problems as submitted by Qantas pilots and the solution recorded by maintenance engineers.

(P: is the problem logged by the pilot. S: is the solution/action taken by the engineers).

P: Left inside main tyre almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tyre.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet
per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That’s what they’re there for.

P: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you’re right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and
be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel.
Sounds like a little man pounding on something
with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from little man.

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