Monday, April 30, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Agni V and a riddle

In July 2009, shortly after Dr. Tessy Thomas was appointed as Director of Agni V Project, I had written about it under the title Tessy Thomas: A star of space science. That had a fairly good readership. With the recent successful trial of Agni V missile, the interest in this piece has revived. I am getting quite a few visitors.

Two days back, on April 22, I got two comments – one through the blog and the other by email. One is from a visitor who has given his name in his comment which I have included in my post. The other is from an internationally known Europe based economist and author. Both are quoted below.

The first is: “I think enough is enough. We are all indians. Do not discriminate any community or the person as our ancestors from all community contributed in building united India and fought for our Independence. A success in any field of India is our success and in the field of Science & Technology or any other field as the case may be, collective contribution is led to the ultimate results and success. But the only difference is here that those who are led from the front is got more applauds than the people worked behind the screen. But their contributions also very well appreciated by the entire scientific community of india. This very fact well known to the scientific community of india but not necessary to the general public.”

The second one reads: “I have been closely following the news about Agni V and about the (deliberately?) low-profile scientists associated with it, particularly Dr. Tessy Thomas. The world laughed about India messing up the organization of the Commonwealth games, but have shown awe and admiration for the research, engineering, organization, and the capability shown in the Agni-launch. Knowledgeable people abroad of course know that there are 'two Indias'. And it should be also said that most countries, especially the Western Democracies have shown a lot of goodwill towards India's defence developments. Probably no other country could have got away without questions and criticism if a missile launch of this kind was carried out.

Thanks very much for the piece on Dr. Tessy Thomas.”

Can you guess which visitor wrote what comment? And what do you think of the points that these two have brought up?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vishu 2012

Wishing you all happiness, health and prosperity for this VISHU.

 Kani Konna (Golden Shower or cassia fistula) is the symbol of VISHU, one of Kerala’s important festivals. This photo is of a Kani Konna tree in our Olavaipe Estate. Click to enlarge. Copyright Reserved.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Three great former Indian hockey stars honoured in London

To commemorate the 2012 London Olympics, 361 tube stations in London were recently named after Olympic stars of the past. Three Indian hockey greats figure in that – Dyan Chand, Roop Singh and Leslie Claudius. They are the only Indians to make the grade.

Dyan Chand (1905-1979) is considered to be the greatest hockey player of all times. This superb Centre Forward played for India in Amsterdam (1928) Los Angeles (1932) and, as Captain, in Berlin (1936) Olympics. India won gold medals at all the three Games. The President of India awarded him Padma Bhushan in 1956.

I had the honour of meeting him in 1957 at the Bombay Hockey Nationals. He was the Chief Guest at the match in which I played for Kerala against the mighty Punjab. After the match which we lost 0-3, Dayan Chand praised my goalkeeping effort and said that it was one of the best he had seen. Great compliment.

Roop Singh (1910-1977) was Dyan Chand’s brother. He played in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics for India as Left-in forward. The Los Angeles Olympic Hockey Final against the USA was, it could be said, a family affair. Dyan Chand scored eight goals and Roop Singh ten goals in that match which India won 24-1.

Leslie Claudius (b. 1927) was one of India’s all time greats. If I remember correctly, his position was Left Half. I have, with great admiration, watched him play. This man from Calcutta represented India in four consecutive Olympics – London (1948), Helsinki (1952), Melbourne 1956) and Rome (1960). He won gold medals in the first three of these and, as Captain, a silver medal at Rome. That is a record.

Claudius was awarded the Padma Shri by the President in 1971. His son Robert also represented India in hockey at the at the 1978 World Cup in Mexico. Tragically, Robert died in a road accident.

Given below are photographs (from Wikimedia Commons) of the first three Indian Hockey teams to the Olympics:

 1928 Team

1932 Team on board  N. Y. K. Haruna Maru

 1936 Team.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter

This is a 1907 card from the U.S.A.
Here it carries my personal wishes as well.

(Reproduced from
Wikimedia Commons.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Last Supper, Leonardo Da Vinci, Sara Hussain

This is the Passion Week (Holy Week) for the Christians. It is the period from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday and includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. (See Memories: Passion Week, half a century back)

The Last Supper, which was immortalized by Da Vinci, took place on Maundy Thursday. It was during this meal that Christ announced that one of his twelve disciples would betray him. Christ was crucified on Good Friday. For Christians it is a time of prayers, meditation and fasting.

I was not planning any blog post for today. What made me do this one is a five column report in the Malayala Manorama newspaper this morning about the new Last Supper painting in the St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Cochin. While this oil on canvass painting is modeled on the Da Vinci creation, the faces and the background are different. Also, Jesus is shown blessing the Host while in the original the hands are kept on the table.

The Last Supper which Da Vinci did in Milan, Italy towards the end of the 15c was 15ft x 29ft. The new one at Cochin is 8ftx20ft. It is believed to be the largest canvas painting in Kerala. The canvas and the paints were imported. Da Vinci took about four years to complete his masterpiece. The Cochin one was done in six months.

There are differences also between the original painting and the one kept in the Royal Academy of Arts, London which was painted in 1520 by Giovanni Pietro Rizzoli. Interestingly, it was this copy (?) which served as the guide for the 21 years (1978-1999) restoration of the original Last Supper. The two paintings and the sketches by Da Vinci are reproduced below from Wikimedia Commons. Click on them to enlarge.

The painter in Cochin is Sara Hussain. (I am not sure whether she spells her name ‘Sara’ or ‘Zarah’ or ‘Zara’.) Can’t be any relation of MF Hussain. She is from Arookutty (Islands in the Sun) near Cochin. This girl has a 1st Class Diploma in painting and is currently doing BSc Multimedia in the Annamalai University. What is remarkable is that Sara Hussain has done paintings for twelve churches in India.

I plan to go and see the painting soon after the Easter rush is over.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Photos: Ixora coccinea?

 The photos given above were taken at Olavipe. Are they Ixora coccinea? This doubt comes because the petals of the florets are not sharply pointed but round. Also there are two different colors of florets in the same flower.
The pinkish ones below, from our villa at Cochin’ are supposed to be dwarf variety.

Photos by TP, AT. Copyright Reserved. Click on photos to enlarge.
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