Tuesday, 1 June 2021

PEARLS OF STATECRAFT AS TOLD BY JACKALS,LIONS,CROWS AND OWLS ....3000 YEARS BACK.....

During my exposure in management in countries abroad, I always had a feeling that  we Indians are poor managers especially in marketing sector comparing to other nationalities, mostly from developed countries. I am sure that many of my Indian readers must be raising their eyebrows! I also wish that I am wrong but always I had a ready made excuse for it handy to satisfy my own ego- that we are only 70 years old since we became an independent country ....albeit it need not be necessarily a good one. 

India is having a very old civilization in the world, if not the oldest, which is still live. While other similar civilizations-Mesopotamian, Mayan, Egyptian, Greek or Chinese  have ceased to exist or drastically changed beyond comparison to originals, India lives on. Pretty  rich in her pedigree culture but we fail to market India or to project our own treasures while we silently but eagerly accept the bad points of ours, when others want to project those for their own vested interests! I think this is a virtue Indians have to change....

Thanks to Covid onslaught on the world at large, India's 'Namasthe' 🙏greeting with folded hands prevalent in the country for the last 5000 years is now known to the educated world. 'Yoga' which is another exclusive product of the ancient India is very popular in the modern world now. 

I am sure that all of us have heard of Aesop's fables. But have you heard of Panchatantra fables which was created in India earlier? The chances are that you haven't ,if you are not an Indian. And those Indians need not necessarily know that it is more than 3000 years old and the reason behind its creation!  But I assure you that this is more than interesting to know...because while Aesops fables are moral stories, Panchatantra fables are basic lessons for statecraft.. which can be extended to a good social life, business management and other fields to date!!



Fable ...much more than a story!
Fable is more than a fictitious tale. It is a story with talking animals as characters, conveying a moral advise or a good lesson. May be similar to fairy tales.

Oldest popular fable in the world is none other than Aesop's which is believed to be narrated by a slave story teller in ancient Greece around 500 BC. Children and grown ups equally can read and enjoy these fables- around 600 of them-  any day which came to us across distant and unknown lands and oceans carried by travelers and traders over centuries. 'The fox and the grapes' could be arguably the most popular of these fables which even gave us the phrase of 'sour grapes'! 'The tortoise and the Hare' essentially give us the teaching to us to 'never give up'! The hare, the crow, the lion, the mouse, .. all play various roles in these fables to deliver home the right message at the end.

Panchatantra fables....principles of statecraft
Panchatantra means  five (pancha) treatises or chapters (tantra) in Sanskrit , the ancient Indian language, one of the oldest living languages in the world, not forgetting that India has another living language- Tamil which is even older than Sanskrit!

These fables are composed around 300 BCE while some of the stories can be traced to Sanskrit text Rig Veda as back as 1500 BCE or earlier! The author is Vishnu Sharma who was entrusted by his king to teach his three sons on art of kingship and wisdom. The children of the king happened to be , it is recorded, dull witted and it made Sharma, the wise and learned teacher go to fables to illustrate human behavior to these children which he could achieve successfully in the end. In fact the stories teach not only the princes but people in authority as well to this day statecraft, strategy, moral conduct and lessons in power and the pleasures and perils of friends!!

Panchatantra bisected to detail.....
The five parts this can be classified into 1.The loss of friends 2.The gaining of friends 3.On crows and Owls(war and peace) 4.Loss of gains and 5.Ill considered action. Having considered the fact that it is all well thought of, even 3500-5000 years back, that too as statecraft is undeniably appreciable.

The first part features two jackals named Karataka (horribly howls) and Damanaka ( Victor)- with their names in Sanskrit- with a lion king and host of many other animals. It contains 34 fables. The second part has 10 fables which teaches the importance of friends and friendships in life. All the 18 fables of third section emphasizes that battles of wit is required as a strategy to neutralize vastly superior opponents' army! Crows are presented as good but weak creatures while that of owls evil for easy understanding of the three princes for whom primarily it was intended. The 4 th part which consists of 13 fables gives us the most noble advise: "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush"! And the last part is all about hasty decisions/actions or jumping into conclusions! It contains 13 fables.

                         

How Panchatantra went international.....
Persian king named Khasru was the first one to send his envoy to India to fetch a copy of the the Panchatantra fables from another country.it was thus translated in Pahlavi as early as 750BCE!The Arabs got its Arabic translation by Ibn al Maquaffa in eighth century which was named as 'Kalilah Wa Dimnah'.It seems the popularity of this version was popular among all the palaces of  reining kings in Arab lands which was taken to  Spain. It was translated to old Castilian in 1252 named as 'Calila e Dimna'.

Also it was translated to Ottoman Turkish, Ethiopic and Malay. It surfaced in Greece as 'Stephanites Kai Lehenlates'.Panchatantra was translated to Hebrew and Latin around 1480.It is not an accident that 200 versions of Panchatantra are available across the globe in 50 countries now!

Johannes Gutenberg...
How these fables influenced even the very epoch making events of history such as Renaissance and French Revolution is interesting. It is a wonder that Boccaccio the famous Italian writer of Renaissance time, La Fontaine an authority on French Literature of the 16th century, Grimm Brothers , the great German  Academicians- to list a few known- are all influenced by the teachings of Panchatantra...written by a teacher  exclusively for his not-so -bright student Princes 3000 years back in India! 

Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in the 14th century ushered in an information revolution like internet did few years back in our era. In 1455 his first book to be printed in his press was the Bible. It is equally astonishing to me to know that one of the books he chose after that for printing was a German translation of Panchatantra tales as Das Buch Der Beispiele!!
And  majority of Indians- forget about others- may not be aware of these facts, albeit the stories are popular among them! That's why I said in the beginning that Indians are poor in marketing of their great values and culture! At least so far!

Illustrations: courtesy google

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Thursday, 1 April 2021

THERE WAS AN OLD KING WITH A DEAD TOOTH........

 I am not about to narrate anything out of  Aesop's fables but on the contrary about some thing of a recent invention which has conquered our life style thereafter!

We all know what is Bluetooth technology at least for the last decade or so. It unifies devices. The technology has become so popular in our lives that the services of Bluetooth technology cannot be ignored all the time-phones, earphones, speakers, stereos, TVs, cameras, cars, tablets, game consoles...the list can be pretty long since I am limiting to devices I mostly use.

How come the non techy name 'Bluetooth' of all names, I have wondered often? I have read somewhere that late great Steve Jobs created the brand name 'apple' over a number of technical names after spending few months in an apple orchard! Steve Jobs thought that the name 'apple' ushers fun, spirit and not intimidating. And he went for  McIntosh , his favorite type of apple! In case of Bluetooth also there could be something drab like that I thought  but left the topic as such until I came to know about the real story recently. And it is worth knowing about if you don't know  yet!

'The teeth often bite the tongue, still it stays together' is a famous Scandinavian proverb. And the name Bluetooth  and technology which unifies devices also comes comes from Scanadavania but shrouded with its rich history. The name and logo comes from a 10th century Danish King-Harald Bluetooth Gormsson. Why the inventers- a technology company- went for an old and dead king with an unusual name is more than intriguing! 

The race for innovation..

By early 1990s major international companies specialized in electronics were silently working on finding a technology to replace wired communications which totally eliminates the need for cables and wires. The companies in such a race were mainly Intel, Ericson, Nokia, IBM and Toshiba. It was Jaap Haartsen of Ericson, the Danish company who found out a revolutionary way to connect devices without cables by mid 1990s.But it needed further development .In 1997 the companies thought that it would be to their technical and commercial advantage that they pool their talents and resources and jointly decided to form a special interest group(SIG) to fine tune the technology. All these companies have been working individually on their own short range radio technologies till then.

The name 'Bluetooth' surfaces...

The special interest group (SIG) thus formed had to decide on a  coded name of their secret mission temporarily. Jim Kardach of Intel pioneered in naming the group as 'Bluetooth'. That was the nick name of a Viking King named Harold Gormsson who lived and ruled Scanadavania around 1000 years ago. The king was the force behind in unifying Denmark, Norway and other parts to a great country. The king had a dead tooth which eventually became blue in colour and the history records that the people fondly called him 'Blue tooth' which eventually became more popular than his real name! All member organizations whole heartedly welcomed the suggestion of the temporary name since the mission of the SIG was also unifying various devices like the great king did for Scandinavia while a a tech savvy name -more market friendly- could be found out when the mission is successful.

The 'Bluetooth' technology is born...

The new technology which unites communication protocols is innovated by SIG in 1999. As decided by the group, they also considered many tech savvy names to replace the Blue tooth. Finally the proposed names which were short listed to just two- either Radio Wire or PAN (Personal Area Networking).But before SIG could take a final choice of name, the existing name of Bluetooth caught on fast with the public and customers to the surprise of SIG.

Comdex is the abbreviation of Computer Dealers Association and technical convention. It was a trade show related to computers and peripherals held in Las Vegas, US from 1973 to 2003.It was one of such greatest exhibitions on the subject in the world. In this context I also remember my official days in late 1990s and later where I had attended a number of famous trade shows world wide. Surely such an action and close interaction with live wire executives contributed a lot in understanding international business which in turn helped me in my contribution in transforming  a medium construction company to a well known successful corporate in Qatar, where I was a CEO for 21 years.

In 1999 show at Las Vegas SIG showcased their Bluetooth technology to the world. It was an instant hit!



The magic behind the iconic logo...

The SIG while selecting the logo also showed complete honour to their great king Harald Bluetooth completely. Their logo is straight combination of the initials H and B of his names in Nordic runes shown as above! Obviously they chose the blue colour. Today this branded logo is recorded to have a 92% global recognition rate!

 After all blue colour stands for serenity, stability, inspiration and wisdom. This I had learnt long back in 1994, while I got a chance to decide on the sky blue colour of the company logo from black and white ,while with Al Balagh group in Qatar.

Illustrations: courtesy Bluetooth technology.

Monday, 1 March 2021

HOW THE UNLUCKY SNEEZE BECAME LUCKY FOR JAMES BOND !

 Ian Fleming remains a known literary name for his creation of British secret agent named James Bond to this day. But popularity of his creation outgrew that of the creator itself over the years like in case of Mickey Mouse, Harry Potter or few others! By now more than half of the population of the world is estimated to have watched at least one Bond movie!

23 official movies of the Bond have grossed over $ 6 billion world wide at the box office- a figure I have not adjusted for inflation or TV rights etc. Though Ian Fleming introduced his character Bond to the world in 1953,the first movie 'Dr.No' was released in 1962 which is still popular in TV as it was only the other day that I had watched it last! And along with the Bond movies, surprisingly the title theme song also started getting popular to the extent that the theme song alone can identify with James Bond! It was tuned by  Monty Norman, a British composer whose popularity also rose with the song!

Now I will come to the catch of this all famous theme song of James Bond! It has very strong Indian connections. In fact only few know that this theme song is actually based-more than inspired- on the song sung by an Indian composed by the same music director Monty Norman. It was an abandoned song created for the story written by VS Naipal  titled 'A house for Mr.Biswas'!

Mohan Biswas, the main character of the novel is Naipal's father himself!
VS Naipal is a Nobel Prize laureate for literature. He is  from Trinidad and Tobago and his grand parents were from India. He won the Booker prize in 1971,Nobel prize in 2001 and has received a Knighthood in Britain in 1990.He has written a number of books while 'A House for Mr.Biswas' was published in 1961.This book had received world recognition and was included notably in the 'All time 100 novels by Time magazine' and '100 Most inspiring works by BBC Arts'.

Mohan Biswas, the main character of the novel is a creation based on Naipal's father himself. His birth was considered inauspicious as he was born with an extra finger. The novel revolves around superstitions prevalent in the Hindu and other  societies of Trinidad.

By late 1950s Monty Norman was contracted for his role to compose to  make a musical based on the novel 'A House for Mr.Biswas'. He composed the tune 'Good sign Bad sign', a song sung by an Indian with lyrics done by    .But later the whole idea of the musical was abandoned but Monty kept the tune with him. "I liked a number in it very much which I put in my bottom drawer" to quote his words.

                    "I was born with this unlucky sneeze,
               And what is worse I came into this world,
               the wrong way round...
               Pandits all agree that I am the reason why 
               father fell into the village pond and drowned."

it was basically an Indian tune with Indian musical instruments like tabla and sitar  in the back ground!
               
Enter Albert Broccoli and Dr.No with the theme song.....
Albert R Broccoli, an American along with a Canadian Harry Saltzman were the producers of the first James Bond movie titled Dr.No. By the time Broccoli was interested in production of the movie Saltzman had acquired the required rights who was not ready to sell off the rights to Broccoli. But he was ready to co produce the movie. As they decided to produce the first Bond movie under Eon productions, Sean Connery was selected to be first James Bond.

By that time Monty Norman had already celebrated five successful stage musicals in a row. In 1961 while he was working on a musical named 'Belle', Monty had close interactions with Broccoli. Finally composing the theme song and other music of the movie was offered to Monty Norman along with a visit to Jamaica with his wife, the location of the shoot of the movie, all expenses paid.

From sitar and tabla to guitar...
As Monty settled at Jamaica, the tune he had put in his bottom drawer for 'A House for Mr.Biswas' came out again to his mind. The song which was tuned in a typically Indian background had to be be totally westernized. He split the notes and switched initial riff from sitar to guitar! John Barry was his orchestrator who also did his job very well. Finally when the product was ready Monty played to the producers who liked it very much! So also Sean Connery !! I am loading up another video of Monty explaining what had happened....courtesy BBC.


Dr.No was an instant hit as released in 1962. Sean Connery with his style and grace no doubt gave life to the secret agent in action. So also the theme song was a hit including UK charts.  The rest is history!!!The signature theme remains catchy to this day.

Later there was a dispute over the tune between Monty and Barry over the ownership of the tune. But Monty won the case all the times. He was completely vindicated and awarded the damages....

Courtesy: BBC/utube/google

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Monday, 1 February 2021

TOKYO TRIALS.....THE DISSENTING JUDGEMENT

Yasukuni Shrine at  central Tokyo is the memorial to Japan's war dead. It is a Shinto shrine founded in 1869 dedicated to souls of millions of Japanese who died for the country since then. But interestingly there stands a monument to an Indian as well which I could visit two years back.I could see myself many Japanese men, women and children come to the spot and bow in front of this man, about whom I did not know being an Indian!Later I could find that another Shinto shrine at Kyoto also is exhibiting a similar monument.

Ex Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe on his visit to India in 2007 had paid a special tribute to same Indian in the Indian parliament.He also traveled all the way to Calcutta to  meet aging son of this particular Indian to convey warmth of Japan in person!! In spite of these news which were flashed few years back in the media, I dont think that most of the Indians remember name of such a person- an Indian revered in Japan to this day!

He is Radhabinod Pal.He was one among eleven Allied justices hand picked from eleven countries for the Tokyo Trials conducted post WWII to make trial of 25 Japan's top most war criminals. But why he is revered in to the extent that he was awarded later with highest civilian honour of Japan ?



Background of Tokyo Trials....
Destruction of Japan was complete in 1945 as the world war II ended. On 15 August 1945 Japan surrendered unconditionally. The Allied nations decided few months later  to hold trial of Japan's war criminals which came to known as Tokyo Trials later like Nuremberg trials which was held specific  for the Germans.For this purpose the International Military Tribunal for the Far East(IMTFE) comprising of judges from 11 different countries-US,Britain,Canada,France,The Netherlands,Austria,New Zealand,USSR,China,Philippines and India.India was colony of Britain then.So also Philippines was occupied by US.

The western countries had primarily an intention of limiting to only to those western countries and China who had signed in the agreement of surrender of Japan.But India and Philippines were included either for more popularity of such a decision among colonized nations also or because a lot of Indians and Filipinos had fought and lost lives for their masters in the same war!While 2.5 million Indian soldiers fought for their masters around the world ,87000 had died! It is not an coincidence that exactly two years later in 1947 on the same day Japan surrendered - 15 August, that the British Govt chose to give freedom for India officially!!

Radhabinod Pal was a senior judge in the High court of Calcutta and Vice Chancellor of University of Calcutta, India when the British and American authorities picked him to join the panel of justices to make trial of 25 Japanese war criminals.

The Trials....the dissenting note...the final verdict
The Tokyo trials commenced on May 3, 1946 and lasted for two and half years. Originally it was aimed to conclude within six months. On the fateful day 14 December 1948 one judge after the other announced the verdict -guilty! And a lone firm voice thundered then-not guilty!!The court room stood silent for few seconds!!The lone dissenting voice came from Radhabinod Pal.

He was very hard on Japan and fully acknowledged the atrocities committed by the devilish Japanese army in China and elsewhere. At the same time noted that the trials was an exercise to Victor's justice and the Allies were equally culpable in similar acts during the war or even outside it. He was highly critical of US using atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He questioned the right and eligibility of Britain and other western countries questioning Japanese imperialism when they themselves were colonists and imperialists!!He specifically was critical of Britain colonizing India and stealing the resources for centuries! His judgement concluded in 1235 pages. During the trial period could be due to his deliberations with judges from The Netherlands and France that they also made similar observations to the annoyance and discomfort especially of US and Britain.

Anyway due to the rules of the trial majority prevailed. All the 25 defendants were found guilty.7 were sentenced to death.16 to life imprisonment.1 each for 20 and 7 years in prison respectively!!

                                        Panel of judges-Tokyo Trials
And.....
Pal returned to India to rejoin his services.He was elected to be in UN International Law Commission where he worked till 1966.Pal was awarded in 1966 Japan's greatest Civilian honour-First class Order of the Sacred Treasures.He passed away in 1967 at the age of 80.A number of Japanese books are written and documentaries were made on him and the subject.

Obviously Pal's dissenting judgement was a huge controversial historical document. While his detractors criticized him for being an agent of Japan war criminals, his admirers applaud his courage and fairness in giving out his anti colonial judgement.


Friday, 1 January 2021

CRACKING OF 'ENIGMA' CODE...AND THE WAR WAS OVER !

Good day! Happy new year to all my readers world wide!!

Second world war remains the biggest global war ever fought in this world so far which involved virtually any part of the world in 1939-45.Finally  as we all know the axis powers-Germany, Italy and Japan were defeated by the Allies-France, Great Britain, United States and the Soviet Union. Did any single event during the course of the war can we pin point as the reason  for the defeat of the Axis forces? Probably not ,but many historians believe to the extent that cracking of 'Enigma' secret code of the Germans by the British was the single most important victory of the Allied forces- a secret the British kept  as top secret not only from the Germans and Axis powers but even from The Allies, own partner countries!

The word Enigma in English means puzzle, mystery or riddle. The Germans invented an encryption machine in 1930s to send coded secret messages and suitably named it as 'Enigma'. The Germans thought it as 'undecodable' under all circumstances, the way the British once thought 'unsinkable' when the Titanic was built and launched! The Americans, Russians and the French all considered such a machine invented by the Germans was invincible!

Bletchley Park with a huge mansion in the country estate of 550 acres located at Birmingham shire, north of London is a museum now. But it was once the secret home of code breakers during WWII. Again we hardly know about Alan Turing, a very bright mathematician who played a major role in decoding of 'Enigma' at Bletchley Park...The mystery which was kept as top secret by the British for 50 years even after the war!


The origin...
The Enigma machine was invented by the end of the First World War by a German engineer named Arthur Scherbius but perfected by 1923.In 1933 German Army had acquired the manufacturing rights of the Enigma machine and started in use of sending thousands of coded messages in the various wings of armed forces. During the course of second world war, the German forces used to sent more and more secret commands as they were convinced of the invincibility of their machine!

How the Enigma machine worked?
This machine looks more like a typewriter to the lay man. For each letter that was tapped in, another letter would come out so that the message sent would be received in a code. The receiving party had an identical machine with the same settings. So when the coded messages was fed in, the German text would come out! And the machine had 158 million million million different settings so that it was impossible to crack the code! Or at least the Germans thought so!!To make it invincible the Germans changed the code setting each day!!

Enter Alan Turing in Bletchley Park...
The British knew that decoding the Enigma machine to access the secret directives and motives of the German command is the best solution to be the winner of the war but at the same time knew that it was an impossible task or close to it. The fact that three Polish mathematicians, Henry, Marian and Jerzy-I am cutting down their surnames as it is a bit complicated to pronounce being typically Polish- had almost solved the riddle in 1939 but the fact that Germans changed the cipher system code each day made their dream fade away gave a lead to the authorities at the Park but nothing further.


                                             Enigma machine

It was at this time that Alan Turing, a very bright mathematician  enrolled at Bletchley Park. He was considered to be super genius with an IQ rating of 185-gets into the top 0.1 % of the population of the world. At the same time his behavior was very odd, did not cooperate with any colleagues-mostly crossword enthusiasts- and hardly spoke to anyone or eat - always at work! His movements were so suspicious that his bosses at Hut Eight of the Park thought that he is a Soviet spy!!Interestingly as Alan did not know German language, it was a puzzle for his bosses that how could he decode the message sent by Enigma machine which was sent in German language! Contention of Alan was that knowledge of German is not at all essential, instead was working for a machine of his own for decoding!

Finally to the total surprise of his bosses in , Alan Turing came out successfully with a machine of his own creation which he named as 'Bombe'. He was assisted by a fellow code breaker Gorden Welchman. They all cried with joy and disbelief when the messages in German sent by the machine as war intelligence were recorded in English at their lab! Sadly but firmly Alan resisted immediate revelation of his secret invention to authorities or call for counter rescue actions to avoid any doubt of such a finding by the Germans. Eventually without invoking any doubts for the Germans, other Axis forces and even other members of Allies, Alan and his team at Bletchley Park started saving millions of lives by timely counter actions. Stalingrad, The Ardennes, The invasion of Normandy, the Battle of Atlantic...all would not have been possible but for the intelligence they supplied from Park!

British kept it as top secret...even after the war !
Strangely, finding of such a machine, cracking the 'indomitable' enigma code was kept away from even the other partners of Allied forces by the British throughout the war. Even after the war such an information was not made even to the public for nearly 50 years after the war!!That is incredible. Once the war was over the group of decoders at the Park were asked disperse in secrecy to go back to their respective jobs with keeping their mouths shut for the rest of life.


Anti climax...of a person who saved 14 million lives during the war!

Military historians estimate that due to decoding of Enigma, war could be ended two years earlier, saving not less than 14 million lives of people of different nationalities!

Not only Alan Turing was never recognized for the meritorious service he did for the British, the Allies and the mankind, surprisingly he was arrested for homosexuality- a crime then- in 1953. After  an year he was awarded with hormonal therapy-castration by the Government, Alan committed suicide at the young age of 41 in 1954!! 

Posthumously in 2017,Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a royal pardon considering his unprecedented achievement  for the mankind. In 2019 Alan Turing was chosen as the new face of British 50 pounds currency notes in recognition of his services!!

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

SHARKARA TO SUGAR....SWEET ENOUGH TO TURN YOU ON BUT.....

 This article is dedicated to one of my closest friends PRAKASH NAYAK who departed from this world all of a sudden two weeks back. He died of cardiac arrest. Good Bye my great friend Prakash....until we meet again...whenever and wherever it is !!😭🙏

Two reasons make me dare enough to do a write up on sugar, something everyone in this world knows about. First is that the very English word 'sugar' is derived from 'sharkara'  from Sanskrit, the Indian  language which  my mother tongue Malayalam has strong connections.

Second reason is that Indians are credited with the invention of sugar granules for the first time made from sugarcane juice. That was in the first century. I don't know whether this is the unfortunate reason for making India the Diabetic capital of the world now! Probably yes. Though a good percentage of Indians are vegetarians, most of them eat a lot of sweets it seems, looking at the number of such shops selling exclusively sweets all over India! India remains the biggest consumer of sugar in the world in volume but 'thankfully' the highest per capita consumption goes to Americans and Germans and others !!Then, who consumes the least sugar in the world? The north Koreans!!

Some time back I wrote an article about coffee which was well received by the readers. Here I am with another similar product from the kitchen shelf. You can be rest assured that I shall write about milk also if this also is found palpable to readers...

All Indian origins- 'Sharkara' to sugar....'Khanda' to Candy!Sugarcane origin is in New Guinea but the technology of making crystals from sugarcane is exclusively credited to ancient India since 350AD during Gupta dynasty. Until sugarcane was domesticated 8000 years back, honey was the natural sweetener of the world. After emperor Darius of Persia  invaded India around 510 AD, there is a specific mention about  'a reed in India that brings honey without the bees' in his chronicles! Science of sugar also traveled to Greece and Rome. Among written documents about sugar  the oldest is a mention in Mahabashya, an Indian document written by Patanjali in Sanskrit around 400-350 BC.It is mentioned about  sugar in recipes of rice pudding with milk and sweet barley meal and fermented drinks with ginger in it!!


Sharkara(Sanskrit) became Shaker(Persian) , then to sakkar(Arabic), to sucre in French and finally sugar in English within a time span of almost 1200 years!The process of crystallization of sugarcane juice was also exported or stolen to those countries initially and finally to the whole world.

The origin of the word 'candy' too is originally based on the Sanskrit word 'Khanda" meaning fragmented crystals for sugar candy.

Sugar travels to Arab lands and finally to Europe..
Arabs of old time were excellent traders. Not that I have opinion that they are not of the present time. Now also they are but they are facing stiff competitions from others. Science of sugar from farming to making crystals Arabs took from Persians, where they used it in medicines also but became masters of the field exporting to Europe. Marzipan, a moldable colored sweet made of sugar with ground almonds which is popular in Germany, Hungary, Italy  and elsewhere to this day has roots in Arabia of 650 AD.Sugar cane was largely introduced by Arabs to Europe in the 9th century during their rule in Sicily.

There is clear record of European soldiers returning home after crusades in 1099 with bags of sugar as trophy .The Spanish and Portuguese expeditions have largely contributed for sugarcane plantations and making of sugar in Canary Islands. The massive requirement of hard labor for this was solved by them bringing slaves from Africa! Sugar was considered 'white gold' among European nobility until 1500s.

Sugar travels to US.......The trade triangle!!
Sugarcane was introduced to US by none other than Christopher Columbus during the 1492 voyage. Again sugar was the prime reason for the notorious slave trade that brought millions of Africans to the Americas from 16th century.

What the historians call 'The Trade Triangle' is actually the story of African slavery whereby slaves were sent forcibly to work in US plantations, then the product of of their hard labor - sugar was sent to Europe to be sold and the money received from those sales were used to buy more slaves!!The history of sugar is not at all sweet to read.

Beet sugar....sugar art..
It was in 1747 that a German chemist is credited to have discovered sugar from sugar beets. Subsequently the first refinery was set up in 1802.Now the lead three countries which produces sugar from beets are Russia, France and USA.

In fact sugar is found in the fibers of all plants in various levels as a byproduct of the process of photosynthesis. Only two plants give enough concentrations to make crystals for our consumption-sugarcane and sugar beets. While largest crop in the world remains sugarcane, it contributes 80% of the sugar crystals produced in the world.

Sugar art of sculpturing art pieces with sugar and sugar derivatives are very popular in Europe and other places from the time of renaissance!


Why the 'but' comes....
The only taste humans have a crave from birth is for sugar. Probably that remains till an age when life spans end also. But those who are educated  know that excessive sugar is bad for health which can create health hazards. They say that sugar is a white poison!

 Food manufacturers have identified all these facts but cleverly camouflage the word sugar using a different name than sugar as the first ingredient when they describe their products on packets. Sucrose,lactose,fructose,glucose.... are conveniently used by them to dupe all of us to this day! A 500 ml bottle of Coke or similar   contains more than 50 grams of sugar or over 12 teaspoons!!We are not probably thinking about how much sugar we are adding to our food when we use ketchups and sauces! Sweet to turn you on but.....

Images: Courtesy Google.

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Sunday, 1 November 2020

AS THE GRAND FRENCH LADY TURNS 134 NOW !

Statue Of Liberty at New York is positioned perfectly in the southern part of Manhattan-ideally for views from ships entering the harbor. It is a grand view as she holds a torch above her head with her right hand while she carries a tabula on the left hand, with broken chain at the feet, which many might have not noticed. It is written on the tabula worded JULY IV MDCCLXXVI -July 4 1776- in Roman numerals, the date of declaration of independence in US!

The grand looking lady of famed statue which is officially named as 'Liberty Enlightening the World'  is dressed in flowing robes. Such a dress has never been normally used anytime by a woman in US nor in France, the country which gifted the statue to US! Is there something more to why such an alien dress was chosen by the sculptor albeit it is said to be a figure of Liberta, Roman Goddess of Liberty?

Yes, Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, the French sculptor who created the statue was definitely inspired with much more, something most of us are not aware, if his career is tracked which is no secret. This time I am sharing such intriguing and fascinating facts related with one of the most recognized monuments of the modern world at a time it is 134 years exactly - 28 October 1886 since the statue is erected....at a time France, the cradle of democracy and freedom of expressions of modern world is going through not a smooth time.


How the admiration for liberty took shape into a statue                              
Eduord de Laboulaye was a very prominent French political thinker of his time. He loved freedom and democracy and for the same reason supporter of Abraham Lincoln and an expert on American constitution. It was his exclusive brain child that he proposed the idea of creating a colossal monument as a present to United States for liberty, thinking that it would be equally a right guiding force for the French, his own people.

Though Eduord made the proposal in 1865, it took another ten years for his dream to take shape. In 1875 he sought the help of his sculptor friend Fredriec Auguste Bartholdi who was asked to design a suitable colossal statue for the purpose. It was so decided that the statue would be funded by the French people while costs of the pedestal would be borne by the Americans.

How the statue took the shape of what it is now......
Fredric Bartholdi , the famous French sculptor was contracted by the Egyptian Government in 1869, few years before he was assigned with the project for the statue of Liberty, to design a suitable light house monument at the mouth of the Suez Canal at the Mediterranean mouth at the time of opening the marvel of engineering of that time.

He had prepared a colossal fallaha- meaning female farmer in Arabic to this day- many times life size holding a torch with a theme 'Egypt carrying light to Asia' for his Suez Canal project as below. But the project was abandoned by the Egyptian Government due to paucity of funds.


The Egyptian lady definitely bore a resemblance to his creation of the Statue of Liberty. 

Bartholdi to Gustav Eiffel of Eiffel tower...
In 1870 Bartholdi commenced his work on the statue of Liberty. It was made of copper sheets hammered into shape manually and assembled over a framework of gigantic steel supports. Not only the structural stability but the swaying wind pressure expected at sea could be a threat, Bartholdi knew. For this purpose he hired the services of Eugene Violet le Duc who was a famous architect cum engineer of his time. While the design of the internal structural support system was almost completed  he died in 1879.

It was then Bartholdi went to Gustave Eiffel for the helps. He completed the design and execution of the support system of the statue of Liberty enabling it to withstand the winds of New York harbour- swaying up to 3 inches, temperature changes and other weathering actions. It was the same Gustav who became a house hold name all over the world by his creation of Eiffel tower!!

The colossal statue was completed in copper colour, shining as a new penny. 7 rays of the crown represents 7 oceans and continents while at the feet the statue lay the broken chains of oppression and tyranny!


Meanwhile Richard Morris Hunt a US architect designed the pedestal on which the statue is erected. The fee he got by doing this was donated by him, to the committee to fund the statue.

And finally...
The statue was finished in 1884 and formally presented to the American ambassador in Paris. It was then dissembled to 350 pieces and to crates for transportation to US. The statue was dedicated on the pedestal on 28 October 1886. 

As the copper colour of the statue turned into green after 25 years of erection, as we all see now, due to oxidation the statue became a symbol of hope for thousands of immigrants who arrived in New York thereafter, while it also symbolizes the American imperialism in many parts of the world for many....

courtesy Google for 
images.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

ROAR LION ROAR! ......... a lion keeps roaring for the last 100 years!!

I have been an ardent fan of Hollywood movies from my teenage days,then through adolescence and youth. The curve started coming down thereafter,giving way to Indian - Hindi and Malayalam- last being my mother tongue movies. I still enjoy selective Hollywood movies.But what I have been enjoying without an iota of drop of interest to this moment is while watching the growl rather than roar of the lion of MGM-Metro Goldwyn Meyer- studios!It must be equally amusing to millions around the world all these years considering the fact that it is a century that MGM studios have retained  the famous logo while launching  their movies.  

Along with MGM,few other logos of old Hollywood studios like Paramount,Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox,Dream Works.... with their distinctive signature designs have attracted me.But none like that of MGM! At a time when the logo has already scored a century since it was created, it is more than interesting to know how this was achieved.It is not one lion as you think but seven!!

Popularity of the lion and his roar finally engulfed that of the creator!It was created for marketing purposes but emerged as the best among the iconic  logos!  The lion and his roar have become indispensable for MGM ..or perhaps the whole Hollywood!!


  


Merger of 3 companies-MGM....but why a lion?
In 1924 Morens Loew's Metro Pictures  decided to merge with two other companies of Hollywood.They are Samuel Goldwyn's studio  and Louis B Mayer Pictures.The company thus formed was named MGM- Metro Goldwyn Mayer.The newly formed company MGM obviously decided to continue to use the popular mascot of Goldwyn's studio- a roaring lion designed by Howard Dietz.

Dietz was a product of Columbia University in Journalism which falls in the IVY League,US.After his graduation he had joined an ad firm where he was assigned the job of designing a mascot for Goldwyn Studios. Dietz must have been very proud of his Alma Mater that he decided to honour the athletics team of the University nick named as 'The Lions' ,the mascot of which was a lion. Interestingly even now the mascot of the athletics team of the University continues to be a lion with a caption...roar lion roar! In 1917 he could make the exclusive design with a lion roaring which was trade marked.The motto chosen for the studio by Dietz, who later also became a popular lyricist was 'Ars Gratia Artis' which in Latin means 'art for art sake'! In 1919 Dietz joined Goldwyn studio and continued with them and later MGM till 1957 as Director of Advertising.

Slats,Jackie,Telly,Coffee,Tanner,George and Leo.....
They are the real names of the seven lions which were used in creation and improvisation  of the logo of the MGM albeit most of us think that it is just one named Leo .

In 1917 initially for the execution of the project Goldwyn studio also hired the services of the best known animal trainer named Volney Phizer while the lion was a Dublin born 'Slats'.The lion did not roar for sure since it was an era of silent movies but was asked to look around!Goldwyn studio successfully used this lion till 1928 in black and white movies.In between the bond between Slats and Volney Phizer became so close that when the lion died in 1936,he was buried with honour in the estate of the later.

Jackie was the second lion used for the purpose by MGM but first to roar in the screen which was trademarked including the sound.His trainer was Melvin Kootz. Jackie's head was filmed in a frame while the roar was recorded separately.MGM successfully used this roaring mascot from 1928 in more than 100 movies.When Jackie retired in 1931, he was sent to zoo at Philadelphia.



                                      Paw imprints of Leo, the lion.
Lions Telly and Coffee could stay only a very short period of 7 years between 1927-1934 with MGM.Tanner(1934-56) was the largest among all the lions while  sixth lion named George was with MGM only for a very short period 1956-58.Finally Leo was inducted in 1957 and his roar is what the world hears since then.On walk of fame in Hollywood, along with prominent actors, actresses and directors, Leo was given the honour of impressing his paw prints in wet cement in 2014!

Innovative marketing techniques ....
MGM has successfully experimented allowing several alterations to the studio logo in many contexts. Some of the Tom and Jerry cartoons  released through MGM from 1963-67, in place of the lion, MGM introduced Tom meowing in the style of  the lion to the amusement of the viewers. When MGM did a horror movie in 1967, the lion was animated with blood dripping from the mouth! MGM allowed a crocodile in place of the lion in an animal based movie in 2002-The crocodile hunter-collision course!  
    .

Once the logo of the lion clicked, MGM has perfectly marketed the logo in various other fields than movies. Leo the lion stands out on the front in their luxury resorts at Las Vegas where  we had a chance to stay for few days. Leo the lion also is statued outside Culver Hotel, California.

Courtesy photos:Goggle

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

LUT..LOOT..CLIVE!....................THE BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY YOU DON'T KNOW!

We all know that the English word 'LOOT' means plunder or rob.But what we don't know is that this word came into English from the Indian language Hindi 'LUT' which means the same.It was the British East India company that facilitated such an introduction of the new word in English vocabulary  in the 17th century.And understandably so!The British East India company was doing exactly that in India in short-looting the Indian people and resources!!

In fact it was not British Govt that seized and colonized India initially but a private company formed in 1600 run by a handful-less than just six permanent staff for the first 20 years and 35 for first hundred years- from a small office building in London.How did that happen?How did a company formed to trade in spices,silk,salt,pepper and the like using few rented ships have security forces double the size of British army? How did a company which made money smuggling opium to China  bring down magnificent empires, some even greater than British Kingdom which existed in India those days?

I have had the opportunity to mix and interact closely with hundreds of British nationals and British firms mostly on business during my corporate career in Doha.I have to admit that most of them were good, if not better in business deals comparing to international standards.But why that trait didn't show up in business deals of  erstwhile British East India Company with Indians years back? 

If a single person and single event can be attributed to be responsible for  establishment and success of British East India Company, it is Robert Clive and Battle of Plassey respectively.And how... by treachery.And I would love to share those facts lying in the dustbins of history with my readers which are not much known .....




Robert Clive...the clever sociopath....the meteoric rise of his career!
British historians confirms that Clive was a sociopath. One who is having social personality disorder by medical terms but in simple words a hard core manipulator, a thief.I don't know whether the British are using such decent terminology to white wash those huge treacherous activities he committed or not, but it is a fact that the British got control of India and British Govt ultimately  prospered due to this evil man. 
 
As a student, Clive was a despair to his teachers, it is recorded.He moved from from one school to other for the same reason until at a tender age of 18 he was sent to join in the civil service of British East India company by his family!It was in a junior clerical position as a Writer, at Madras in 1743.He was not a racist.It is recorded in history that he used to enjoy,betel chewing and supari, a practice of native Indians and visited brothels of native girls like most of the junior staff of the company!!To his credit, he also started spending hours in the library of the Governor General and educate himself.In spite of being selfish and unscrupulous, he was credited with good intelligence, fearlessness and excellent managerial traits- ability to get things done and inspire others!!!

Right from the position of a clerk, Robert Clive became Governor of Bengal, Commander-In Chief, and Viceroy in the hierarchy of British East India company in 1757, within a short span of 14 years, nothing short a meteoric rise from the position of a Writer, who was earning just 5 pounds per annum.

It has to be particularly mentioned that Bengal was richer than Britain itself in that time!I still remember my first visit to have a view of Buckingham Palace, London years back.I was terribly disappointed to be honest, because India has innumerable palaces all over the country...many folds grandeur than that.


Clive becomes the richest person in Europe!
Once he was in command in India,he used to regularly ship to Britain the bribes in kind, artifacts he had looted as spoils of wars he fought and won by treachery and betrayal !Along with those, he used to amass wealth in gold, money by huge bribes,gems to become  as one of the richest in the whole Europe by the time he returned to Britain for good in 1767!!

British Govt showers accolades to Clive....
Regardless of the crooked ways, having no parallel in history which  Robert Clive made it possible, British Govt recognized the contributions to make the empire conquer India!

He was made Lord Robert Clive, the Baron of Plassey. A drop out of school, Clive was awarded honorary degree as Doctor of Law- DCL- from none other than Oxford University! He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society-FRS- which is 'dedicated for promoting excellence in Science for the benefit of humanity' to this day!!!! And Mayor of Shrewberry, where a statue of his still stands!!Clive was knighted and made an MP till his death!!There could be more honours...

But.... the tragic end!
Robert Clive was hoping for a peaceful retired life basking in all the glory and wealth he had looted.But destiny had something else in store for him.

Many of British aristocracy never accepted him as equal in spite of his position as Baron, may be because of jealousy that this man became much richer than them.In 1769 and 1773 there was great famine in Bengal during which one third of the population perished.Few in the British parliament criticized that the disastrous ill effects of the famine was due to policies of the British Govt in Bengal for which Clive was directly responsible.The vote which followed in parliament surprisingly  fully exonerated Robert Clive and his actions!But Clive had bouts of depression in the following years.He had become addicted to opium.

On 22 November 1774, Clive committed suicide.British Govt declared about his death without conducting an inquest but not mentioning that it was a suicide !!He died at the age of 49 without a chance to live in a palace he had built with some of the  loot from India!!




Tail piece- British Commonwealth to Commonwealth of Nations
British Common wealth of Nations , created in 1926 is an association of  independent nations which were British colonies except one which is Britain! India joined in 1947.Name 'British commonwealth' was officially adapted to describe such a community and not because Britain took all the wealth from those colonies, though a fact!

In 1949 India decided to be a sovereign republic from following year.By existing laws India should have discontinued being a member.Heads of other member countries and King of England himself wanted India to remain in the group.May be they did not want to loose India which was jewel among the colonies in the crown.In the same year  new rules were set to allow India to continue dropping the tag 'British' from British Commonwealth to simple -Commonwealth of Nations.But India was outwitted, in my opinion, to agree that India , along with other member countries will continue to accept British crown as 'symbolic' Head of the association!!What for I don't know!

Among all the colonists of the modern world-Spanish,Portuguese, Dutch,British,French,Japanese..I am of the opinion that the British are the cleverest.In spite of the fact that they could steal all the wealth of India for 200 years , they could still smile and shake hands with Indians when left for good.And still remain as 'symbolic' boss even after 73 years of independence!!That's a political shrewdness I have to admit!!


Images: Courtesy Google.

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