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Monday, 1 August 2022


 The more I read about the history of India especially how the British East India Company (EIC) came to power and colonized the country, it becomes more and more intricate and convoluted to me. New unknown names and characters come to central stage all of a sudden from nowhere which the Indian historians have hardly mentioned, for reasons beyond my comprehension!

Such a name is Dr. William Hamilton, a surgeon who came to India in 1717.How come a doctor played a crucial and decisive role in the affairs of EIC which captured the control of India ultimately? Such a reflection can be still seen on the grave inscriptions of the doctor at the St John's church, Calcutta which is given below. It ends with 'he made his own name famous at the court of the Great Monarch; and without doubt will perpetuate his memory as well in Great Britain as all other nations of Europe'!

Here is  another episode on how Britain became 'great' at the expenses of oppression of Indians and systematic loot of  resources for centuries, one of the biggest benefactors of his country. How EIC became the bellwether of the British Economy? What's the roles of surgeons in the establishment of the domain of EIC in India? And at least in one instance EIC reps were forced to prostrate in front of the Indian Emperor asking for forgiveness in Child's war!!

EIC... Coat of Arms

1600....EIC is born...
It was in the year 1600 that Queen Elizabeth I of Britain granted a petition signed by over 200 merchants of London allowing them to trade with the Eastern world. Thus East India Company (EIC) was formed on 31 December 1600, the first Joint Stock Company in the world. It was during the reign of Akbar, the Mughal emperor in India that this incident happened which was hardly noticed in many parts of even Britain or Europe, forget about India. After all having trading relationship with India was existing from time immemorial by Romans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Venetians, Egyptians, Chinese, Arabs...'Red Dragon' the first ship owned by EIC set sail to the East Indies(Indonesia) under the command of James Lancaster soon. Medical Officers were employed as ship surgeons who were qualified to treat the crew of the ships initially and later the staff of EIC at shores as they were not sure of the quality of medical service available on the lands they will trade.

'Red Dragon' docks in India... the first EIC factory
It was in 1612 that 'Red Dragon' came to India for the first time which was under the command of Thomas Best, who could get trading rights at Surat. In 1613 the first EIC factory in India was established there. Gabriel Boughton, the ship's surgeon is said to have saved Princess Jahanara, daughter of the reigning Mughal emperor Shah Jehan, from injuries due to  burns. The emperor was pleased and the incident acted like a catalyst for giving the trading rights and eventually to award duty free rights to EIC. By 1647 EIC had 23 factories in India. Money started pouring to London in leaps and bounds, in spite of few Anglo Dutch wars!  

Initial humiliating set back for EIC... Child's war 
When it was thought that everything is in order for a thriving business in India, the relationships with the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb soured. In 1689, a Mughal fleet under command of Sidi Yaqut defeated the forces of EIC at Bombay when Sir Josiah Child was their Governor at London. The Company was forced to seek pardon with the Emperor by sending their representatives to prostrate in front of the Emperor for forgiveness. I don't think EIC had to do such an act before or after in the history of India! And I wonder myself why I did not know that all these years!

Soon after the company decided to concentrate at Calcutta to continue the business.

William Hamilton's role commences....
He reached India as a surgeon in the ship named 'Sherborne'. Later he was appointed as second surgeon to the British settlement in India in 1711.When the British Embassy started operation at Calcutta in 1714, he was reappointed as Medical Officer.

It was Farrukhsiyar, the tenth Mughal ruler who reigned in north India between 1713 and 1719.He also happened to be Aurangzeb's great grandson who came to power after assassinating his own uncle. He was a handsome man but lacked the brightness to rule his kingdom on his own, more depending on his advisors!

 In 1715 EIC decided to send a delegation to the Emperor at Delhi asking for major grants for the establishment of the company affairs in India further. They were mainly (1) to purchase 38 villages surrounding the headquarters of the company in Bengal (2) Trading privileges in Bengal and (3) further fortifications of Calcutta. Why EIC decided to include William Hamilton who is a medical officer at the Embassy in such a delegation is not known. Could be that they remembered about the services of Gabriel Doughton in 1613 or might have heard about the decease the Emperor had which was kept as a state secret.

How William Hamilton succeeds in the getting the grants ...'Magna Carta' of EIC leading to British Raj!
Farrukhsiyar's second marriage was fixed with princess Indira Kanwar, daughter of Maharaja Ajit Singh, Rajput of Jodhpur. The conquered Rajput king wanted to make a treaty with the Mughals by submission to Delhi. But the marriage had to be postponed many times due to a very bad ailment the Emperor had on his groins. He had a bad swelling there and no indigenous medicines of Vydhyas and Hakims were effective. That's when William Hamilton reached Delhi and was consulted by the Emperor. The surgeon took a chance and made an operation which was successful.Needless to note that the Emperor was more than pleased!

The surgeon was honoured by gifting a lot of valuables including an elephant! But the unexpected bonanza was for the East India Company as the Emperor sanctioned the requests of the company in full issuing a Farman! This in hindsight turned out to be the 'Magna Carta' of EIC, eventually making the company loot India high and dry!

After the grant, Farukkhsiyar expressed his wish to retain the surgeon at Delhi but Hamilton refused. Dr. Hamilton died in 1717 at Calcutta, the same year of the grant while Farrukhsiyar was assasinated in 1719 at Delhi! EIC played the right trump card at the right time!!


Friday, 1 July 2022


Undoubtedly the names of Coke and Pepsi remain the two most popular brands among soft drinks in the world from inception in 1886 and 1893 respectively.

Pepsi which was started by a small town pharmacist named Caleb D Bradham was selling his product initially under the name 'Brad's drink'. He bought the name 'Pep Kola' from a local competitor in North Carolina, US and changed the name to Pepsi Cola. PepsiCo had to go through many ups, downs and  bottle neck situations and became bankrupt at least once. Had to change ownerships but appreciatively  continued to grow along with Coke- rivals to this day! I am not here to tell more about them or their rivalry which is well known to all of us.

Here I am for a narration of how PepsiCo came to own a Soviet Naval Fleet! How Pepsi Navy all of a sudden became the sixth largest in the world in  1989 !! This is not fiction. This is real history. Before the fall of Soviet Union(USSR), they traded 20 warships of theirs with the American Beverage Company PepsiCo! The thirst for Pepsi cola among the Russians compelled them to do that once!!

1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow

Iron Curtain period. In US it was the tenure of  President Dwight D Eisenhower and Richard Nixon as Vice President. That was also time when Nikita Khrushchev as Premier of USSR ,honestly believed that life under Communist rule was better than in Capitalist US and vice versa. Moreover the propaganda of USSR was that their Economic system is far superior to that of US and may overtake them soon! I remember reading free periodicals issued by USIS (United States Information Service) as well as 'Soviet Land' of USSR, both claiming themselves to be the best in the world! Indian Prime Ministers Nehru and daughter Indira Gandhi also were mesmerized by the Soviet's claim who were very often taking conducted tours in USSR and had tried to implement  'Socialism' in  India as well until when India took a U turn in late 90s and headed for Capitalism, though not fully yet!

President Eisenhower took a chance and decided for US participation in 1959 and to show case their products at Moscow. Thus many US companies in the Govt and Private sectors like Kodak, General Electric ,McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins etc decided to participate. Pepsi also joined the delegation represented by CEO Donald Kendal, while Coco Cola decided not (see the photo below).

At the exhibition hall, on the first day during the inaugural function when Khrushchev visited the stall of Pepsi , he was offered  Pepsi to taste by CEO Donald Kendall in the presence of Nixon. Khrushchev fell for the drink immediately! He ordered the concerned to negotiate with Pepsi team and settle the order to make Pepsi available in the country. Exhibition was visited by 2.7 million Soviets.

The problem of currency surfaces...

Soviet's  own currency Rouble has no value outside the country and Americans expressed their inability to execute the order. The problem was finally resolved by USSR amicably. Americans will have state owned vodka named as Stolichnaya against payment to Pepsi! A sort of barter system. Thus US and USSR had a successful deal, could be for the first time during the iron curtain period. Kendall eventually negotiated a landmark deal to mass produce Pepsi in USSR.

One of the catchy advertisement of Pepsi those days was: 'Be sociable, Have a Pepsi". When the photo of Khrushchev sipping Pepsi came out in newspapers of the world , the wordings of the advertisement was changed to: 'Khrushchev learns to be Sociable'! The westerners are very good at wry humour to this day I admit.

                                                Khrushchev learns to be 'sociable'!            

Pepsi gets a Soviet naval fleet!

Pepsi and the Soviets didn't have any problem and business flourished till 1980. That was the year USSR invaded Afghanistan. The American people for political reasons responded by boycotting products of USSR including Stolichnaya vodka! Pepsi had a real problem then.

The Soviets finally resolved the matter in 1989 offering a veritable navy owned by them. Pepsi agreed for the offer which included 17 submarines, a cruiser, a frigate and a destroyer!!In the same year tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square and the notorious Berlin Wall fell in Germany- events which shook the communist world just before the down fall of Communism in USSR itself  in 1991!!

Tail Piece

(1)PepsiCo never had a navy of theirs in reality since they didn't take possession of the fleet. As the vessels were in a very old and unseaworthy conditions, PepsiCo ,as the fleet came to them to be owned ,immediately turned them over to a Norwegian Shipyard to be scrapped to raise the monies Soviets owed to them!

(2)In 2004 Kendall received the Order of Friendship from the Russian President Putin!

(3)Russia remained Pepsi's second largest international market after Mexico until April 2022.Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, PepsiCo has suspended their operations in Russia.


Wednesday, 1 June 2022


To be honest I would not have come to this topic but for the smugglers in my state. Some of them were booked for smuggling Ambergris recently which made me focus more on this substance. I don't know whether to thank the smugglers or the media which covered the incident but I now know  about something which even the ancient Egyptians knew of! I don't know how I couldn't remember about it when I skimmed through the book 'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville years back!

Amergris is referred to as whale vomit generally. Scientifically it is excreta of whale than the vomit, I understand. And it floats around the seas where sperm whales are found but limited to only less than 3% - could be 1 in 100-of such whales produce this substance. Ambergris is considered to be one of the strangest natural occurrences. Mostly around a tennis ball size. It is used to make medicines and perfumes although for the last many years alternatives founded in a lab is used. This makes the aroma of the perfumes last long. But what makes it most sought after is its price- above $ 25000 a kilogram!!That's a whale of a money!

The origin...
The origin of the word 'Ambergris' is derived from Arabic language. The word 'anbar' in Arabic means a sperm whale. In the simplest way to put it , it is a whale poo. It smells very bad when excreted but over the years Ambergris turns  into a sweet smelly rock!

There was a time when people wondered about the origin of this substance seen floating in the sea. The Chinese thought that it was dried saliva of the Chinese dragon! Some thought it was fish liver, a tree sap or even precious stone! Seals and crocodiles were subjected to prejudiced stories with Ambergris. Anyway the earliest perfumes made of Ambergris comes from Spain when it was under the Arab occupation. It is generally found in the  Atlantic and Indian Oceans. 

In 2006 Rober Clarke , a biologist coveted that as the whale eats a lot of squid beaks which is then accumulated into the intestine of the whale which in turn forms as finally Ambergris is scientifically accepted as a logical explanation. Hence Ambergris cannot be cultured or cultivated like in the case of pearl.

Ambergris in history...
Ancient Egyptians as well as Arabs used it as incense. During outbursts of plague in Europe in the 14th century , many rich used to hang in their rooms containers with Ambergris. King Charles II of Britain used to eat Ambergris with eggs in the 17th century. Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France  just before French revolution loved it to go with her hot chocolate drink! Her ancestor King Louis XIV drank it in his healthy broths!  In the Gulf states it is thought to be a sexual performance enhancer.

Some of the most expensive  perfumes are known to have contained Ambergris...Chanel, Gucci, Givenchy... to make the fragrance last long! Although these days synthetic Ambergris is used, some professionals say that it can never be compared with the natural predecessor. Some of the most expensive cigarettes also use Ambergris tincture to have a pleasant smell as one smokes!

Bermuda colonization....
The first English men who arrived in the island of Bermuda were those- almost 150 of them- who came out of a ship wreck due to a hurricane in 1609.It was the vessel named 'Sea Venture' which was on the way to the US land of Virginia. In fact this episode only made William Shakespeare write his famous creation named 'The Tempest' in 1611!

To their utter surprise they could find large chunks of Ambergris on the shores of Bermuda it is recorded. Whether such a finding invoked the British to colonize Bermuda is not known for sure but must have influenced them to do so in the following years!

In India, UK  and many other countries of the world, all species of whales and dolphins are protected by law. But at the same time the convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES), a UN body having 183 countries as members consider Ambergris as waste product of the sperm whale that occurs naturally, making it legal to collect them from the beaches of seas but cannot be sold!



Sunday, 1 May 2022


It took seventy years for me to know about it! I haven't studied in any of the text books either. Probably if the Govt of India had not issued a new currency note with a picture of it two years ago, I might not have come to know about it in my life span either!! 

A new currency note of India's Rs.100 denomination issued in 2018 features Mahatma Gandhi on one side but on the other side an under ground structure- which doesn't look so in the photo- which is a combination of a marvel in Engineering, art and another long lost or neglected episode of  Indian history. 'Rani Ki Vav' means The Queen's stepwell but in essence it is Queen of Stepwells ! When it is learnt that this could be the only well so featured on a currency note in any country of the world, which was built over thousand years back one will have to but admire...UNESCO has declared it as a world heritage site. I find that ancient India has contributed quite a few number of similar stepwells including Chand Baori in Rajasthan which is built in more or less the same era, I will stick here to 'Rani ki Vav'    


 My specific interest in what is featured on currency notes started about 20 years back while in Qatar. The firm 'AL BALAGH'  of which I was the CEO was selected to build a small but an important landmark of the country in connection with a Gulf Cooperation Council GCC  meeting which took place at Doha. It was the Pearl Oyster monument right in the heart of the city on the corniche, overlooking Qatar Central Bank on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other. The structure was a combination of selective art and modern engineering skills to be built within few weeks, I remember. The same scenario was featured on the currency note later as shown below . Qatar was once a pearl diving nation, struggling to exist while the main industry was the same. It was taken over by hydro carbon industry in the later years of 1950s. Thanks to the wise leadership over there, the country has become now the richest in the world on per capita basis!   

                          Pearl Monument as featured on old and new currency notes of Qatar.

What is a stepwell?
A stepwell in Gujarati means a 'vav' or in Hindi 'Baori'.Essentially it is subterranean edifice and water source! Obviously the kings and queens in the old days dug wells in different parts of their states to get over shortage of water.

This stepwell was a part of local folklore for ages and is also narrated in some of the older chronicles like that of Mertunga in 1306. It was built near erstwhile river Saraswati but silted due to floods and people never knew about it for centuries unfortunately. It was rediscovered by two British archaeologists- Henry Cousens and James Burgess- employed with Architectural Survey of India (ASI) as Superintendent civil engineers who were travelling the concerned location in the 19th century. They wondered what could be the sculptured arches they found protruding out of soil! They could not find more.  But it took almost another century till 1980s when Archeological Survey of India (ASI) started excavating the area to unearth this marvelous stepwell to what we see now.

The architectural and structural  background...
These stepwells played much more role than just being a water source. They had social and cultural significances. I think it could be another excellent Indian contribution with unique 'desi' style to the  architectural world. An inverted temple in seven stories underground  with stunning sculptures  with a water storage, the way ancient world has not seen. I can't blame the  so called experts of the west for this short coming either because I myself didn't know about this and I am sure that I am just one among millions of Indians in similar situation! Again I remember the basic fact that we Indians are good in everything except marketing ourselves and our products- past or present! At least so far but might change sooner than later.

The statues - mostly dedicated to Lord Vishnu, together with hundreds of pillars which are built in perfect symmetry and sculptural completeness  in many floors underground about a thousand years back will take a visitor, his or her breath away it is told. The structure has more than 500 principle sculptures and more than 1000 minor ones!

The historical background..
Patan is a town in the Gujarat state about 140 kms north west of the its capital Ahmedabad.

Bhima I was a king of Chalukya(Solanki) dynasty who lived between 1022-1064 CE where as the dynasty existed between 950-1300 CE .After the king died,it is believed that the construction of this stepwell was executed by his queen Udayamati along with her son. In an area of scanty rains and lower water tables, she decided that the best monument for everlasting memory of her late husband and useful for her subjects would be a unique stepwell, highlighting sanctity of water !

I am loading up more photos possible here to showcase the beauty of this art centric engineered marvel of India, which is much more effective than description of the same in words. As it is designed and built about thousand years back, I wonder how they could reach this perfection in stone without modern scientific instruments. Probably they might have had their own instruments but was not clever enough to  'patent' them! I am sure the world will  talk and write more about this marvel as years go by as it is only 7 years since UNESCO had declared it as a world heritage site, while only twenty-five years since it has been unearthed.


My specific interest in bisecting what is featured on currency notes  came after one of the structurers which the firm did in Qatar while I was the CEO was featured on the currency note oyster monument was built right in the heart of the city in the corniche, within few weeks by us in connection of a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting(GCC) at Doha. Perhaps only few in the new generation knows that Qatar was once a pearl diving society which was the nation's main industry before it was replaced by hydrocarbon industry. Qatar is now one of the richest countries in the world per capita wise.

Friday, 1 April 2022


My interest in business trade marks might have started while I was doing my 12th grade in high school(Pre Degree). Although mostly limited to Indian trade marks, I used to derive some sort of fun or enthusiasm in bisecting the trade marks to find out what is hidden in them. As years passed it increased but limited to Indian scenario since the country was not opened up. With my arrival in Qatar in mid 1984 where almost everything was imported from the rest of the world, it was a feast for my interest in trade marks hunger! I still remember the great fun I used to have in this field in quizzing with my good friends D Souza, Jomy and late Prakash. Thank God my interest in trade marks and captions and slogans in business still continues unbated at my 72 !

A trade mark is essentially a recognizable sign, design or expression. It is a type of intellectual property which defines a product or service of a particular source of business organization. If you think that this subject is a drab or lifeless topic you are far from it. I am not going to explain here how we can have registered trade marks for our products legally but how we have reached to the level of identifying a product for its popularity or quality seeing a trade mark! How it evolved to what it is today from Mesopotamian days in 3500 BC.

What ancient history says...

First traces of trade marking in history was in Mesopotamia followed by Egypt and China. While bricks and roof tiles had specific markings in Mesopotamia around 3500-3200BC,Egyptians and Chinese used personal markings to claim ownership of livestock. However Romans were the first in the world to leave distinctive on many products they produced such as decorative vases, grave stones, roof tiles, tableware etc to stamp as a measure of quality , other than identification.

Although it may not be a trade mark in the business sense of it, it could be interesting to note that early Christians in the first and second century who were facing persecution under Roman empire used to identify between the Christians secretly by a mark of Ichthys's  fish as below! It was so derived from the Koine Greek pronunciation of 'fish' which actually meant Jesus Christ, son of God, the Savior, if translated to English. The Cross which is international representation of Christianity was recognized few centuries later only after Rome declared Christianity as state religion.

First trade mark law emerges...in England, France and US
In 1200 in Britain, massive frauds on quality of bread baked was rampant. In order to stop or at least control such frauds, in 1266 King Hay III of England passed a trade law which is considered to be the first of its kind in the world. The law insisted that all bread makers to place a mark on the bread they produced and sold so that on quality issues they can be traced and punished! In 1363 silversmiths were required to mark their wares. Soon after in 1400 every printer of books had to put their markings. In 1862 England passed 'the Merchandise Marks Act' to be followed with  comprehensive laws on the subject in 1905.

The French came out with 'Manufacture and Goods Mark Act' in 1857 but by 1751 in Paris furniture makers were asked to put their marks on the finished products.

In US trade mark law had to meet a series of changes from 1870 to 1946 with the Lanham Act spelled out to be comprehensive federal trade mark protection rules and statue that governs the trade marks.

Signs of trade marks..and the oldest!
I am sure that most of us know  the following marks which we notice in every day life on almost everything we use.
TM- unregistered trade mark
SM- unregistered service mark
C within a circle denotes Copy Right and
R within a circle denotes Registered

It would be interesting to know the history of some of the oldest registered trade marks in the modern commercial world.

Czech beer trade mark registered in 1859!   Pilsen is a city now in Czech Republic where this type of beer is born.                                                                                               
 In Britain the first trade mark registered in 1876.Bass & Co  Pale Ale!           Once the Bass was the highest selling beer in UK and its red     triangle was the first registered trade mark there which was in 1877.                                                                  

In US the first registered trade mark belonged to Averill Chemical Paint Company with an eagle holding a paint can in its beak! That was in 1870.

The oldest 10 logos registered include those of Shell, Stella Artois ,Levi Strauss, Heinz, Peugeot and Coco Cola.

The top among the most valuable brands in the world as on today include Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Visa ,Ali Baba and Tencent.

And the weird stories...
The weird stories related to trade mark rights never ends.

The famous DJ Paris Hilton had made a massive impression with her catch phrase "That's hot"! And she trade marked it!! She had a long stint in the court with the famous firm Hallmark over that. In 2007 she won the case with an out of court settlement with her opponent .

Tiffany &  Co, the giant among jewellery merchants had trade marked their shade of blue. So also  the yellow colour of 'Post it' which we use every day is trade marked by 3M! 

The ringing of opening and closing bells of New York Stock Exchange NYST also is trade marked, if you don't know. Another sound  which is trade marked is 'Tarzan's yell', by Edgar Rice Burroughs the author of ' Tarzan of the apes'. Have you ever heard the sound of a cigarette lighter when opened? The famous brand Zippo had  trademarked theirs. But the most famous sound which is popular and trademarked is-yes, you guessed it right- the roar of the MGM lion!

Cadbury, the famous confectionary maker in the world could trade mark its famous purple colour till 2013.But thereafter it couldn't because their rival Nestle objected. You will remember Usain Bolt , the famous runner who beat a lot of records. He had trademarked his signature lightning bolt victory gesture as above!!

Tail piece...
I was curious to find out the first trade mark registered in India. It was Buchanan & co Ltd , a British firm for their Scotch whisky brand of Black & White done in 1942!That's a good start I would say...... 


Tuesday, 1 March 2022


If you think that the well known phrase given in the title has originated in ancient Hebrew scriptures or any other religious texts - whether Abrahamic or Dharmic- as I used to , you are wrong. It is a paraphrase of a law as given by Hammurabi, creator of one of the earliest codes of law ever made on earth, in 1750 BC! Roman and Greek philosophies on codes of law flowered  later. Indian came out much later. And if you haven't heard about this Hammurabi, I will not find anything wrong with you either since I too didn't until very recently.  But once I started reading about it I was amazed which I want to share with you.

The Americans  have identified this Hammurabi pretty long back. His head is figured over the gallery doors of home chamber in the US Capitol building, Washington DC as one of the historical few who have influenced in forming the American law! So also a replica of stele -or stone pillar in simpler term-  of Hammurabi is placed in the HQ building of the United Nations and the original stele which is  at the world famous 'The Louvre' at Paris. I didn't notice that when I visited them. Justinian the great of Byzantine and Napoleon Bonaparte of France along few others have been identified as heavily influenced by the legal codes of Hammurabi! Almost all the countries of the world have referred to this code of law before they could finalize their own even in the modern world! I am sure that he must be a topic to be studied in law schools.

Paul is my schoolmate but a dropout. He couldn't continue studies for some unknown reasons. He is native of my own city but lives in a suburb. The poor fellow had to struggle a lot in life to make both ends meet. Still he does. He is two years older to me. I got into regular contact with him over telephone, once I came back from Doha. I have found out that his level of knowledge on history and geography of the world is outstanding which we used to share and enjoy. He says that he picked up the habit of reading soon after he had dropped out of the school, taking books from local library and purchasing a few on his own if possible, while doing sorts of errand jobs for a living. Finally he  had a good collection of such books but none of his immediate family members were interested. Finally he donated them to the library from where he used to take books!! Paul is  materially a poor man but good hearted and has a covetable wealth of knowledge which he failed to make use in this world. It was this Paul who tipped me on Hammurabi albeit it was a just a tip of an iceberg. Strange are the ways of this world! This article  is dedicated to my friend Paul.... 

                            Hammurabi as exhibited at the Capitol

Oldest Civilizations...And Hammurabi emerges...

Earliest civilization of the world is Sumer followed by ancient Egypt, ancient India(Indus Valley),Minoan (Island of Crete, Greece), ancient China and ancient Peru. Sumerian civilization existed in the  Mesopotamian region named Babylon which was between rivers Euphrates and Tigris around 4500BC.In the current world this part is located not far from south of Baghdad in Iraq. Most of the ancient civilizations existed on the banks of perennial rivers and Sumerian civilization is not an exception.

After the end of Sumerian power, as the sixth king of Babylon Dynasty comes reign of Hammurabi between 1792-1750BC.He successfully conquered the adjoining kingdoms to his domain. Under Hammurabi the city of Babylon became the most powerful city in the world. Along with  notable infrastructure projects the city was known to have flourished with Science, Art, Music, Mathematics, Astronomy and literature. As he conquered more and more land and his empire grew to be the biggest in the region, he also saw the need to have  uniform civil laws to unify the various groups he conquered. He sent legal experts and collected existing laws and compiled and modified them to have his 282 laws to be implemented under his empire.

Stele of Hammurabi codes...
Louvre Palace or simply known as The Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world. It is located at Paris on the right banks of Seine with  magnificent palace buildings of 12th century. It also has a modern glass pyramid which has become iconic with the museum designed by I.M.Pei who has also designed the Islamic Museum at Doha in Qatar.

                                                          The Louvre,  Paris
Monolisa, the most popular painting of Learnado da Vinci is the star attraction in this museum but it is to be noted that Stele of Hammurabi is considered to be one of the most precious possessions of The Louvre!

It was a French explorer named De Morgan in 1902 who discovered the stele which was found in three huge pieces in the ruins of Susa, presently in Iran which finally landed in this museum. The top of the  stele figures an image in relief of Hammurabi with Shamas, the Babylonian Sun God and God of Justice. Hammurabi claimed to have these laws given by Sun God. The codes were written in Cuneiform script, old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian on a basalt slab The stele is 8 feet high.

282 laws of Hammurabi...
His code consisted of 282 laws which I have read myself. May be the fact that  it is around 4000 years since these are made, some looked very blunt to me while some are progressive. But he has covered very large areas such as civil behaviour, penalties for stealing, rules for adoption of children, marriage and even divorce !It also covers wages, trade norms, rental and definitely slaves. Hammurabi states that he wants "to make justice visible in the land, to destroy the wicked person and the strong might not injure the weak"!! I am sure that all these phrases are read many times over in your life time without knowing the originator!

An eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth refer to the logic that people should be punished according to the way in which they were offended. If they hurt some one they should be hurt equally bad in return. When you come across this phrase next time..think of Hammurabi, the Babylonian king !!


Tuesday, 1 February 2022


Not far from Paris is the region of Champagne in France. As we all know that  the wine where it is grown, fermented and bottled within 100 miles of this region is exclusively known as Champagne. The wine made out of this region but in France is known as cremant, if you don't know. It was a French monk in the 17th century named Dom Pierre Perigton who is accidently credited with the creation of Champagne but has gone through a lot of improvements to have reached the current status which also includes that the cork while opening could attain a speed of 64 km/hr !

Here I am not trying to market Champagne or comparing it to its German version known as Sekt or Porsecco the Italian or Cava the Spanish. Nor why this bubbly beverage I like the most in its class,  but to write about Lady Veuve Clicquot, the first international business woman who made her name out to this world as creator of best known Champagne. And how she became  known as 'Grande dame of Champagne' from just a veuve (widow in French) in an era where the women were largely ignored in all fields including business!

In spite of the fact that she could create history with a best known brand in wine industry, she is largely ignored by the mainstream of history. I think it is more because it was men who wrote history in Europe in 1800s than the fact that she was much ahead of her time.

 All Champagne is sparkling- but not all sparkling wine is Champagne!

How Barbe-Nicole became Madame Cliquot...
Her name was Barbe-Nicole. She was born and brought up in a rich French business family. At her age of 21 in 1798 she was married to Francois Cliquot by arranged marriage. Interestingly her marriage took place in a wine cellar owned by her husband. Family of Francois was in textile industry albeit they had few interests in wine business. Unfortunately Fracois died of Typhoid in 1805 making her a widow at age of 27 with a three year old daughter! Definitely that was a time a woman could not even hold a bank account, forget about running a business!!But Barbe Nocole decided to take the rein of her husband's wine company against all such odds while her father in law thought of selling off the company.

A series of innovations and inventions...
That's what Madame Cliquot did. Her continuous pursuit to improve the quality of her products and her innovative mind to achieve the best in any circumstances is remarkable. Her motto was "Only one quality, the finest!". This is something which is palpable for me. Quality of the projects/products of the company where I was a CEO for 21 years was of prime concern from inception. But when we reached a position where an official motto was required in 1993 to grow bigger, what we selected from a lot of proposals was "Quality and Professionalism" in which I firmly believed.

A vintage champagne is when  all the grapes come from one particular vintage(year). But then it is kept for a minimum period of three years to a maximum of ten years to the best of my understanding. In 1810 Veuve Cliqout came out with the first vintage champagne which was noticed by the consumers. One day in 1816  she ran to her cellar storage and asked to take her kitchen table and make holes to fit  wine bottles to the utter surprise of her staff. She then placed the wine bottles upside down in an angle. She rotated the bottles each day and the sediment collected in the neck of the bottle was much easier to be removed than the bottom. Her method of ridding table process was a success. The crystal clear champagne of her brand was a hit in the market!! She came out again as a first to make Rose champagne which is a blend of red wine with white in 1818.

A great comet appeared in 1811 over Champagne province and nearby areas in France. Wine makers believed that this type of astronomical event had an effect on weather conditions to make the grapes the best suitable for wines. I think this has no base on science. But that year onwards many wine makers produce comet wines! It was Tsar Alexander of Russia  who declared that his brand of champagne would be Veuve Cliquot Cuvee de le Comete. Thereafter by 1831 the fame of her champagne spread from New York to Saint Petersburg...from Paris to London with iconic yellow label without perhaps who was behind it !!

                                                  Veuve Cliquot vine yards and cellars

Act with audacity...
In 2010 a group Finnish divers found out few bottles of Champagne including those of Veuve Cliquot beneath the Baltic Sea. It was from a Canadian ship which wrecked in 1913.The bottles were tested and found out to be still drinkable. It was sold in an auction. A bottle of Veuve Cliquot got a price - a  whopping  30,000 British pounds, the highest ever in the world for a champagne bottle!!From 1987 Lois Vuitton Moet Hennessey group has acquired the ownership of Veuve Cliquot.

From 1972 onwards an award named 'The Veuve Cliquot Business Woman' is being presented to the best successful women entrepreneurs. What she wrote in 1860 to one of her great grand daughters is what she was essentially in business. Quote. "The world is in perpetual motion and we must invent the things of tomorrow. One must go before others determined and let your intelligence direct your life. Act with audacity" Unquote.


Saturday, 1 January 2022


I have used the word 'unbeknownst' in the title intentionally meaning 'without someone's knowledge' which is more apt than just 'unknown'!! Hardly publicized  episodes of the erstwhile  ' Portuguese India' which is being continued as part II!

When I read and reread about the atrocities committed by the Portuguese on Hindus, Jews, Muslims etc and their beliefs and cultures during Inquisition of Goa from 1570 in the name of Christianity, I felt sad for my fellow countrymen and felt self defeated being a Christian. I made a number of checks on the truthfulness  of the same to find some escapism on that for no reason but found absolutely correct. Finally in 1800 equality was restored and same status was given to all the citizens there. When I read that, I felt relieved for the same reason. Is it for the love for fellow country men? Or is it love for Christianity? Could be both.

"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" is what Jesus Christ is believed to have prayed  while on cross. I think this is applicable to Portuguese or anyone for that  matter who is indulging in injustice in the name of Jesus Christ and Christianity!

Cochin becomes Administrative capital of 'Estado Portugues da India' and then shifted to Goa...

When da Gama left Cochin in his second trip to India he left Diogo Fernandes Correa to look after Portuguese trade and other interests including propagation of Christianity in the region. Their first fort which they named as Manuel fort after their king was built in the same year in the vicinity. The very name of Fort Cochin which is being used to this day is derived from this fort. Portuguese could take control of Cochin as its colony in 1503 albeit skirmishes with Zamorin of Calicut continued where the Portuguese had the final victory. In 1505 king Manuel I appointed Francisco d'Almeida as the first Viceroy of India with Cochin as administrative capital, which remained so until they shifted to Goa in  1510.But the Portuguese could continue to keep Cochin as its colony till 1663 when it was taken over by the Dutch. As per records it is estimated that there were 5000 Portuguese living at Fort Kochi in 1520.

In 1509 Alfonso de Albuquerque was appointed as the Viceroy. Finding Goa more strategically located to be the headquarters of Portuguese operations in India, China(Macua) and Timur (Malay archipelago)he captured Goa in 1510 from Sultan of Bijapur with the help of Timoji who was with erstwhile Vijayanagar empire. Unlike the Dutch or British who ruled India later, one of his immediate action  was encouraging Portuguese  to marry indigenous women and to settle in Goa as farmers, traders or artisans. Once in power the Portuguese started actions against local Hindus, Muslims and Jews. The official archdiocese of the Estado da India was created by a Papal bull in 1533 headed by an archbishop at Goa and later at Cochin. Interestingly at Cochin the Portuguese were against even the original Christians in Kerala who are believed to be converted by Saint Thomas, disciple of Jesus Christ in 52 AD known as Syrian Christians .They are so known because their prayer and church liturgy is based on Syriac language. The Portuguese couldn't digest the facts that they followed Eastern Christianity beliefs, held Hindu way of life, church rites in old Syriac language which was very close to the Aramaic language that Jesus Christ spoke and never recognized the supremacy of pope! The Portuguese could split the Syrian Christian church but many sections hold such beliefs dear to them to this day!

Bombay (Mumbai) was given as a dowry by the Portuguese!

It is unbelievably true how India was treated by the western colonists on many occasions. King John IV of Portugal had a daughter who was known as Catherine of Braganza. She became the Queen of England between 1665-1685 as wife of King Charles II. The present day Mumbai( Bombay) which is constituted by seven islands were in control of Maratha rulers but had to be ceded to the Portuguese empire .The same Mumbai was given by the Portuguese King to that of England as a dowry of Queen Catherine at the time of her marriage in 1661!

Portuguese Inquisition in Goa..

Jesus Christ was a man of peace in all respects but Christianity or I would say many churches were or are practicing quite far from His teachings. Catholic church under Portugal rule in India seems gone very far from His noble teachings! 

Inquisition is a tribunal founded by Pope Innocent in the 12th century to be practiced in few Catholic countries. The very objective was examination and punishment of heretics-what is believed against the church dogma, simply to put it but in practice it is much complex than it looks. Having successfully executed in Italy and Spain , the official Inquisition was established in Portugal in 1536 at the request of its King John III. The main target of Inquisition were those who were newly converted then from Judaism to Christianity but silently practiced Judaism, who  mostly migrated from Spain. 

The Portuguese Inquisition expanded its scope to colonies such as Brazil and Goa in India. In Goa it was established in 1570 and remained till 1812 for 242 years, a fact most of the Indians are not aware of or not seen in the school history books. In Goa the administration initially targeted crypto-Hindus, one who practiced Hinduism  secretly after getting converted to Catholics. But over the years the Inquisitors burnt anything written in Konkani, Sanskrit, Dutch or even English! Many natives -mostly Hindus- were criminally charged, flogged in public and some even sentenced to death. It was during this period that thousands of Konkani speaking Hindus had to flee the state leaving their possessions to neighboring as well as far off states and towns including Kochi my home town where they are settled even now. Francis Xavier, a Spaniard Jesuit who was later elevated as a saint by the Catholic church cannot deny the role he played during this period, I presume.

The clear religious discrimination of Hindus, Jews and Muslims were practiced in many ways such a Xenddi tax, similar to Jizya tax imposed by some of the Islamic rulers. Jobs in the Govt service were reserved for Christians only!! The famous French writer Voltaire had remarked "Goa is sadly famous for its Inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshipped the devil and it is they who have served him"! 

However it is also to be added here that such religious oppression ended with a new Portuguese Civil Code of Goa, Daman and Diu in the 1800s where all citizen were given equal rights. Here it is also to be noted that since then Hindus, Christians, Muslims and all live in Goa in full harmony.

Portuguese Inquisition In Cochin and Kerala..

Due to the fact that Cochin was only under the direct control of Portuguese for a smaller period, the perils of Inquisition was much lesser here than in Goa. Interestingly it was directed more on the existing Christians, their beliefs and practices and  their church than other religions! The very fact that Christianity was brought to Kerala in 52 AD by none other than Saint Thomas, Disciple of Jesus Christ is something even now not accepted by Pope. I do not know about  reasons behind this move than could be non acceptance of more pedigree roots of original Christians in Kerala than those who control Vatican! And the 'wise' Portuguese burnt all the documents related to that!

Any way in 1599, the Portuguese could split the existing Syriac church then by conducting the Synod of Diampur, a council that laid down rules and regulations for the ancient Saint Thomas Christians formally uniting with Catholic church disconnecting their relations with Eastern church. This led to creation of Catholic Syro Malabar church.In1542 with the arrival of Francis Xavier, the Portuguese  could start a Portuguese Indian Church in Goa and Kerala with Latin rites.



Tomb of Vasco da Gama is 'majestically' displayed!!But true story of events will never be told ....until lions have their historians ...tales of the hunt always glorify the hunters!

The synod instructed to stop use of Aramaic language, the one Jesus himself was speaking along with closer old Syriac language which was used as liturgy by Saint Thomas Christians and instead to use Latin! All the older records of the older church were destroyed without any trace. It seems like done else where, they were more loyal to pope than even Jesus Christ! However a section of the original Saint Thomas Church revolted and reverted back to their beliefs and customs in 1653 after the Coonan Cross  pledge known as Jacobite church which flourished later years to this day in spite of few splits within. The Portuguese built a number of churches along the coast of Kerala and converted a lot of Hindus to be Christians. Portuguese to be followed by the Dutch and British later also contributed to form a new society named as Anglo Indians. But never meted out a la Goa in Kochi anytime which has a thriving most secular society of all in the state.It has to to be specifically noted that during the last 2000 years since Christianity came to Kerala, Hindus including all the rulers never troubled the Christians or their beliefs but the Christian Portuguese could!!

The Portuguese also contributed many  words which are still used in Malayalam such as Janal (window),chaavi(key),alamari (cupboard),kurishu(cross),maestri(foreman), pena(pen) and took Malayalm words to Portuguese such as jaco(jackfruit),manga(mango), teco(teak) and jagry(jaggery).Portuguese cuisine has  influenced many especially  in and around Kochi as well as Goa. Even now the central part of Fort Kochi is named as Vasco Da Gama Squire while there is a Cabral's yard close by!

Tomb of Vasco da Gama is ceremoniously exhibited in a highly decorated marble cask in Jeronimos Monastery at Lisbon. The place is a tourist attraction since the Govt of Portugal wanted to show case the location for its rich maritime past and colonizing power! But true story of events will never be told ....until lions have their historians ...tales of the hunt always glorify the hunters!