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Sunday, 1 August 2021

WHAT IS THE COLOUR OF YOUR COLLAR? ............. MAGNOLIOUS CRAFTSMANSHIP NO ONE CAN BEAT....

I consider myself a prosperous man, if the number of my official meetings and close interactions with hundreds of multiple nationalities from all around the world is the basis of such an assessment. I should profusely thank the State of Qatar and Al Balagh where I had been working for attaining this status. I got a right platform at the right time to which so many international executives had been flocking around to take advantage of the oil boom. Every time, every day there was something for me- an observant student- to learn, improve or correct myself. The process was never ending... which persisted for more than three decades.

My perspective towards life also might have been influenced by these close interactions, which started as unexpected challenges but ended up as a boon ultimately in my career and life ! I got many chances to review the competency of Indians and Indian products as  compared to others during this periodI also consider myself lucky to have traveled widely in the world, both officially and otherwise and got thoroughly exposed to the world. 

Having said this, when it comes to the traditional skills and craftsmanship like in black smithy, gold smithy ,carpentry and joinery , stone masonry and the like, I can categorically note that Indians are the best in the world- past or present. With all due considerations for Italians, Greeks, Chinese or others in the world, as it  stands today, there is not even a close consistent second I would say from my first hand professional exposure in construction sector. In acquired skills from an institute like plumbing, welding, electrical, electronics, machinist, AutoCAD, IT and other engineering skills also Indians are comparatively very good. I am limiting to the skills of Indians in engineering fields where I am exposed and left other areas like Medical, Commercial, Banking etc..where Indians perform well but I have to depend on statistics than first hand information.

 This is one of the reasons why so many Indians are seen in the Middle East for the last 30-40 years, a region where hectic construction activity is going on. Not just because they are cheap to be hired. All the Arabs in the Gulf region and others in the Middle East know this and their contributions to the region but sadly Indians esp Indian Government Officials and politicians , I am afraid, have not realized this fact yet, or are poor in marketing and  taking advantage of the situation. Instead the poor lot is rather exploited in many cases. And this is not limited to white collar or blue or gold but all jobs with different coloured collars!


Diplomatic Club....
Al Balagh got a chance to build Diplomatic Club, Doha - a building with traditional Qatari design features having modern club amenities- in 1998.Under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this was the first structure to come up in the newly developed area of whole west Bay in Doha, Qatar. If I borrow the words of the owners of the club now as written in their website, it is a building of 'Quality and extravagance infused with a rustic Middle Eastern charm'. The second building to come in that area is Ritz Carlton.Pl browse
https://www.thediplomaticclub.com/virtual-tour.html

It was a challenge for us at that time - to make a dream come true in engineering skills. I took a bold step from my own cue on the quality of traditional Indian craftsmanship in engineering fields and recruited them exclusively for the specific purpose. Thanks to them and supervising staff, the building came out exactly what Ibrahim Jaidah, the famous Qatari architect had in mind....it stands loud and clear to this day in Qatar. Quality and delivery of the project took the company altogether to new levels once completed.

                                                                                                                                       
                                                   The Diplomatic club, Doha

What's in colour of a collar?

White collared shirts were very popular in US in early 1930s among office and administrative workers. It was an US writer politician named Upton Sinclair who coined the term 'white collared' for the first time. Whereas workers who used to do manual jobs preferred to wear blue denim clothing not to show the dirt easily were called blue collared workers. Other colours are not popular as these two but I think it is prudent in this context to know about different types of jobs classified by the colours of the collars.

Gold collar: Highly skilled and high in demand. Surgeons, certain class of engineering consultants, limited number of lawyers and airline pilots come in this category.
White collar : General office workers and employees in management, non manual  knowledge intensive jobs.
Green collar: Employed in environmental sector.
Red collar : Government workers.
Blue collar: Manual labourers.
Black collar: Coal miners, oil workers etc. Artists, graphic designers, video producers also come under this these days as they are stuck to black attire.
Pink collar : Workers belonging to service industry, waiters, sales persons and the like.
Orange collar : Prison labourers. 
Scarlet collar : Sex workers.
Steel collar : Robots.
Grey collar: Elderly workforce working beyond the age of retirement.
No collar: People like artists who work not for payment.

                                                       
                                      Akshardham temple- a poem in marble -year 2000, Delhi


                      Ramanathaswamy temple- symmetry in rock carvings-12th century

                             
                         Ellora cave carvings from solid rock- 6th century

And why quality of craftsmanship among Indians better?
Quality of Indian workmanship is deeply rooted in history. For the last 5000 years or so, since 3000 BC it is so evident, as seen in the Harappan civilization. And the special skill is handed over traditionally between generations than acquired. Not just limited to Taj Mahal which is mostly publicized , all one should do is travel across India. Let it be any state in the country -north or south, east or west one cannot miss those marvelous and incredible ancient, not so ancient and modern structures mostly Hindu and Buddhist temples built before many centuries which are yet to be known to the world.

Built with indigenous technology and work force these buildings stand outstanding to date all over India, compared  to those in Greece, Rome , Egypt, Istanbul or Iran (Persia) or China. Buckingham palace which is showcased at London is nothing compared to many palaces in India, allow me to state with due respects to the British and others.

photos : Courtesy Diplomatic club/Google.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

THANK YOU! TERIMA KASIH! DOH JEH! XIE XIE! DYAKUYU!

300,000!

THANK YOU!    TERIMA KASIH!    DOH JEH!       XIE XIE!

 DYAKUYU!       SHUKRAN LAK!        SPASIBO!    TOV,TODA!

JE VOUS REERCIE!  AND  SUKRIYA!

The last nine words above mean same as the first -Thank you in Indonesian, Hong Kong Cantonese and Chinese Mandarin, Ukrainian, Arabic, Russian, French, Hebrew and Hindi  languages!

300,000!That's the total number of readers world wide who have visited my blog MUSINGS FROM DOHA at www.jaisonchacko.com as on date. It is amazing, gratifying and equally encouraging to note that the readership has spread to 107 countries in  all the continents! Most of such countries are well known but quite a few are not that known- no offence meant to them- like Bukino Faso, Kosovo, Montenegro, Moldova or North Macedonia. Then, there are a few from 'unknown countries', classified as such by Google, presumably Cuba, Sudan, Syria, Crimea, North Korea or Iran, details of which is not known.120 articles on various topics are published so far, while 1240 valuable comments are received from the readers world wide! I thank each one of you for your continued support. As far as I am concerned it is incredible but true! It also shows that in spite of all the differences among us, this world is small!!

The following three articles are in the top of the chart in popularity:

1.What and How to negotiate business deals.

2.63,Ravipuram Revisited and 

3.Adios,Chatten!

And most of the readers are from the following 10 countries in that order...

1.USA                                                        6.China

2.Hong Kong                                              7.Qatar

3.Indonesia                                                8.Russia

4.India                                                       9.France  and

5.Ukraine                                                   10.Israel.

I am also pleased to announce the publication of the following book to commemorate the event. It is a collection of 65 articles on varied subjects selected from this blog which is written over last 10 years.



This book is readily available wherever you are in the world, hand delivered in www.amazon.com,www.amazon.in,www.amazon.com.uk in print and kindle editions. it is also available in Google Play while the e book can be had from www.kobo.com.

Thank you very much! Namasthe!!🙏🙏🙏


Thursday, 1 July 2021

TRADE SHOWS...LITTLE BY LITTLE....A LITTLE BECOMES A LOT!

I have used an African proverb in the title because there are good and adverse comments by many experts about the outcome of trade shows but what I think about it is clear albeit the fact that I am not an expert but surely exposed. A business trade show is essentially an exhibition of goods and related services belonging to a set of specific industry. It could be on a region or state, national or international centric. Either as a participant or attendee or as an exhibitor, exposure to such trade shows is definitely one of the keys to boosting own opportunities to find prospective and potential customers, clients, business partners as the case be, in any stage of business.

When the company in Qatar where I was working as CEO, wanted to expand and diversify our activities  from the core construction industry when we were reasonably established, I started looking for such opportunities. It was late 1990s while Qatar was poised to  make a giant leap of overall  development of the country. I don't remember how I ran to such a decision of attending international trade shows but I remember vividly about my visit to Frankfurt, Germany to attend ACHEMA, World Forum for the Process Industries.... albeit I had started earlier visiting such exhibitions in neighboring countries for our core activity.

I didn't know then that I would be able to make innumerable such visits world wide in later years, even changing the status from a simple attendee to a professional exhibitor. I would like to share what I have observed in this field.... could give a clue or two to those young entrepreneurs or those who have commenced  a start up, but at an  intersection or a seasoned business executive in the national level but  want to make it international....


How it all started..
When our firm Al Balagh  which was basically  in construction could reach  a 'A' grade classification in late 1990s, the highest grade in the country, my dream of making it into a known corporate business firm budded in my mind from no where. When Henry D Souza, our Finance Manager tipped me with an information that a small shop with petty construction goods and hand tools was available for sale in distress, we visited the place the same day. We could make a hurried study on the data available to make a feasibility study which was apparently not bad for us. The same day I discussed the matter with our Chairman who was at London over phone to get a go ahead signal. That was our first step to diversify our activities. After a year or so only we could learn the truth  that it was not possible to make profits without our own exclusive agencies of good brands but all good international brands are already represented in the country! That's how I started looking elsewhere to get new products, new brands and ended up to visit international trade exhibitions.

A little bit of history....
Almost all ancient towns in the world had  market days-mostly once in a week- during which all the traders and local buyers and sellers throng traditional markets with all produces. In ancient civilizations like India other than this, from time immemorial there existed  such markets and entertainment carnivals linked to festivals of temples and churches  which exist to this day. I would say that concept of professional trade exhibitions start with that.

But the first international business trade fair ever conducted can be zeroed to Champagne Fairs which has been taking place every year in northern France to this day from 13th century. Unlike the name denotes the fair was not restricted to wines but in textiles ,leather ,fur, spices etc. attracting many from other European countries. It is so named because it is taking place in the province of Champagne with the name-The Foires De Champagne from day one. In US such a fair was organized in 1810 for the first time by the renowned American traveler and agriculturist named Elkanah Watson who successfully introduced the breed of 'Merino' sheep in the country which was eventually a great success. But it was more at national level.

But the first major and professional international fairs ever conducted were three- The Great Exhibition of 1851 at London in the Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, The First International Trade Fair at New York in 1889 and the Great Paris Exposition in the same year along with the inauguration of Eiffel tower.

Why one should attend such trade shows...
Aims of attending such industry -specific trade shows of your field is extensive but depends on your role to attend the same. You could be a simple consumer or a distributor or supplier. You could be a manufacturer or a professional buyer or a person who wants to get into relevant business field or  any other but there are quite a number of benefits for attending such trade shows. I shall list what are such benefits at random  but depending on your specific role , one should strategize and prioritize.

*Direct purchases/sales of your products.
*Collecting leads/data  for the sales.
*Renew faith in existing customers.
*Exposure to new trends.
*Opportunities for distributorship or representation as the case be.
*Testing ground for new products.
*Analysis of competitors of your product.
*Gather feedback/market intelligence.
*Convert discussions in related workshops to your advantage.
*Opportunity to meet genuine and prospective business partners of future.
*Media opportunities.
*Brand expansion.
*Marketing/Advertisement opportunity of your company/products.
*A place for direct interface or interaction with professionals of the same fields.

Preparations required prior, during and after the trade shows....   
Again how to prepare and attend the tradeshows depend on your role. Due to paucity of space here, I am limiting to the role of a distributer/agent looking for good makes for representations.

*Plan the trip in advance. Book the air tickets and accommodation early  as possible since as the dates near it is likely that rates go up esp in case of internationally known trade fairs. Some countries take a lot of time to process your visas as as well especially if you are from a third world country.  
*Browse the web site of the trade show to find out the details of exhibitors. If a company/product is identified, go further to find out more like whether they are already represented in your area/country etc. If at all represented, see whether that is exclusive or there is room for one more distributor. 
*Make a  short list of the products/ manufacturers of your choice and note down their booth details. You can even start a correspondence with them or make an appointment.
*Arm yourself with plenty of visiting cards and company literature in swipe form of yours with QR Code etc since there could be heavy rush to have a detailed meeting.
*Collect such details from all the booths of your interest. Twenty years back, it was all in print forms and difficult to carry. Many executives used to bring foldable trolleys into the hall. And I remember that there were post offices near the exit with adequate envelops or card board boxes where one can send home the bundle of literature so collected. These days this is not required as we have gone digital.
*Make sure that you are one of the early birds to visit such fairs. It has its own advantages. 
*Don't ignore small time exhibitors or those who have just launched a new product. One never knows the outcome. 
*Don't waste too much time at the food stalls which can be crowded at lunch hours. Instead have your bites when you notice the stalls empty. It is important that you make good time while you are in the hall.
*At the end of your visit-may be after 2 or 3 days in the hall, if time permits, you can renew your interest in any particular product/company visiting them once again. 
*On the last day 3 or 4 hours before closing time, generally the crowd will be thin and all are busy to wind up and leave. Please do not try to do serious business/talk at that time.
*Once you are back to your office after the trade show, on the first day only shoot positive mails to parties in which you are interested to do business further.


Tail Piece..
When I used to travel around the world long back, it was common to be asked by a taxi driver or someone who doesn't have much idea about India with very embarrassing questions like Is Indira Gandhi daughter of Mahatma Gandhi? Or just relate to utter  poverty he has witnessed in his last trip to Mumbai!

It was a Frankfurt taxi driver who shot me a different question which I felt proud to hear for the first time. As soon as I got into his Mercedes Benz taxi and told my destination to be dropped which was Messe Frankfurt (Exhibition Hall at Frankfurt),he started his car and started moving. Once he was on the road, looking at his rear view mirror and asked me "Indian?" I told him yes. Then he asked me :"A computer engineer?" .....The inevitable change had taken place...

Courtesy: Image Google.

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

                                                   _______________________________________

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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