Thursday 1 February 2024

MASTER SHIPBUILDERS OF INDIA:CRAFTED WORLD CLASS WARSHIPS FOR ROYAL BRITISH NAVY!

WHAT IS THE HISTORICAL RELATIONSHIP OF NATIONAL ANTHEM OF AMERICA AND INDIA? WHICH IS THE OLDEST SHIP STILL AFLOAT IN THE WORLD?AND WHO BUILT IT?

We all know that as the greatest colonial power on earth, the British once emerged as the 'Empire on which the sun never set' due to their supremacy over the high seas- with their fantastic ships, admirals and sailors. Being an Indian, this I had learnt repeatedly right from the the days I started reading as a toddler to this very day.But what I didn't know or learn was that one of the biggest contributions for the British to attain this status rivaling Spain,Portugal or France was colonial India itself! 

More than  India's rich resources being stolen by them- traders turned as masters- systematically, an Indian shipbuilder at Bombay, exclusively built indigenously using Indian craftsmen, skilled workers and raw materials including Malabar Teak , world class ships on orders of British Navy! Not just one or two but 363 of them- enabling the British merchant and naval gunships and others trotting the whole globe covering and mastering all the seven continents in the 17th,18th and 19th  centuries!! Such a fleet which were products of exclusive Indian brains, skills and technology contains HMS Minden,HMS Trincomalee and HMS Cornwallis ! The name of the great shipbuilder was Jamsetjee Bomanjee and family of  Wadia Shipbuilders !!

More than what you have already read above, it is believed to have been on  board  this Indian made Royal Naval ship HMS Minden, that the great American lawyer poet wrote the US National Anthem 'Star- Spangled Banner ' while on the coast of US near Baltimore in  1814!  The poet Francis Scott Key was a prisoner in the ship held by  British Navy who also coined and gave America its motto:In God we trust! Again it was on board  HMS Cornwallis built by Indians in 1842 that the Treaty of Nanking was signed that ceded Hong Kong to the British! Then the record of the oldest ship afloat goes to HMS Trincomalee, another one!!

Hard to believe? Incredible? But be rest assured that this is absolutely true.It is high time that we learn from our own history - our strengths and weaknesses- more than who invaded or colonised and looted us.....It is high time that we tell about ourselves to the world than waiting for others to do that which they limit to 'extreme poverty or casteism' only for their interests! 


HMS Trincomalee is kept at National Museum of Royal Navy,England. Figurehead                  of the ship is modelled on its builder Jamsetjee Bomanjee.                                                                                                                                                     

How I ran to this....

Two months back I could see a magnificent telefilm video produced  by the Indian Navy on themselves. Impressive it was but I wished that they could add our ancient past too as ancient Indian port at Lothal was  one of the oldest dry docks in the world, if not the oldest. Subsequently, my interest in digging the past on the subject hit a gold mine of historical information on our own naval history - of reasonably recent past than ancient ones.That's how I could write this article which I am sure will make many eyebrows raise like I did. 

The background

The Mughals who were ruling India were a bit relieved to see the British East India Company(EIC) in the early 16th century defeating the Portuguese, predominantly because while the later were Christian fanatics against Islamic fanaticism, British were not , which went on tune with Mughal's interests in India initially. The Mughals eagerly made concessions to EIC to accommodate them as emperor Jahangir gave them permission to trade within their territory followed by commencement of the first British factory at Surat in 1613. Bombay was just a sleepy fishing village then.That status continued till 1662, when Catherine of Braganza of Portugal  was given Bombay village as a dowry to wed Charles II of Britain!

At the end of the Napoleonic war against France, after Battle of Trafalgar in 1815,British Royal Navy felt the need to replenish lost or ageing  fleet of theirs.At that time there was a shortage of availability of quality Oak wood for the purpose of ship building.But soon the British knew about the availability of quality Malabar Teak wood of India which was even better than Oak as being more denser for building ships. Than bringing the bulky cargo of teak wood to Britain taking time, they focused on the fame of a master shipbuilder at Surat in India-Jamet Bomanjee of Wadia Shipbuilders! The British decided to 'outsource' the engineering skill of shipbuilding to an Indian which was just a tip of an iceberg of events of naval history of the world to follow. 

                                   
Portrait of Jamsetjee Bomanjee in British naval archives.A divider in one hand while the drawings of  HMS Minden on the other. One can also see the progress of construction of the very ship with 74 guns which was launched in 1810- also through the window!Interestingly this portrait is available in US historical archives also for reason as explained in the article

Wadia family ...the illustrious shipbuilding family of the world..

The Wadia Parsi family hails from Surat in Gujarat.The very name 'Wadia' means carpenter/shipbuilder in Gujarati language. Jamset Bomanjee's  firm which was named Surti Ship Builders(later known as Wadia Shipbuilders) secured initial contracts for building ships with EIC from 1736. He himself was the master shipbuilder. 

Bombay Dry Docks was built by his brother Lovji Nusserwanjee in 1750 on the British request as EIC headquartered to Bombay from Surat. Incredibly between 1735 and 1899, seven generations of Wadias built 363 ships of world class quality for the British and others ,which sailed all over the seven high seas ! The Indian Parsi shipwrights exclusively produced 39 vessels on orders of  British Royal Navy- 16 ships of the line, 13 frigates, 9 sloops and 1 schooner! Some of them remained the finest creations of it's class for decades which followed! The British, the US and the west have officially chronicled this info but we, Indians are yet to add in our curriculum for our children, it seems!

Bombay Dock , the oldest in Asia is functioning even today as the Naval Dockyard.The northern part of the erstwhile dockyard is today's Mazagon Dock, India's premier Ship Building Centre.

HMS Minden and birth of US national anthem 'Star-Spangled Banner' 

This 74 gun frigate had set off for the maiden sail on 8 Feb 1811 from Bombay Dockyard after the customary 'breaking the bottle' ceremony performed by the then British Governor Jonathan Duncan.HMS Minden was the handiwork of Jamshedji for which the order was received from Royal Navy ten years earlier. This was the first British Royal Navy ship of the line built out of 'Great' Britain.

Indian made teak 74 gun ship HMS Minden and actual remains of the US flag preserved at National Museum of American History,Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History.

On 3rd Sept 1814 many Royal Navy ships including INS Minden were about to attack US Fort McHenry near Chesapeake Bay , outside Baltimore as they were enemies then. On the advise of the US President James Madison , two of his representatives Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skimmer had set sail on a US boat flying a flag of truce and reached INS Minden. Their aim was peaceful negotiations for surrender with the British. What the British did was not only agreeing to the discussions but kept the two American reps as captives! In the night the royal Naval ships bombarded the fort the whole night to the astonishment of the American captives. In the early morning, expecting a complete devastation of the US fort, as they looked out they could see almost a miracle -the fort was standing loud and clear with a fluttering US flag atop!!They believed that God had intervened!

Key was a poet too. As he saw the US flag with 15 stars and 18 stripes on the fort , he scribbled down a poem while still as a captive in the ship...the fragile faded flag remains the holiest icon of American life.


                 Francis Scott Key               original scribbling of the poem  
                                                            

It was recognized as a patriotic song immediately but it took more than 100 years. On 3rd March 1931 it was declared as US National Anthem. 

The last years of HMS Minden was in Hong Kong where it was used as a hospital before being scrapped in 1861!

 HMS Trincomalee and HMS Cornwallis

HMS Trincomalee was launched on 12th October 1987 at Bombay. A 46 gun frigate it served many occasions for Royal Navy including Crimean war in 1897 and even WWII (1939-1945). It also served as a training ship under the name Foudroyant.To this day it floats at a British Museum and attracts around 60000 visitors a day!


                               
Guns in HMS Trincomalee

                                  Signing the treaty of Nanking in HMS Cornwallis

14 gun ship HMS Cornwallis was built in 1813 for Royal British Navy and served till 1957!  The treaty of Nanking by which Hong Kong was ceded to Britain was signed in this Indian made ship.

The technical prowess and skills of Indians in shipbuilding for the last three centuries is recognized in maritime world history very much. I am neither a professional  historian nor a naval architect or expert but anyone can find out these facts from historical chronicles. Am I wrong in suggesting that the subject is to be inducted immediately in Indian school curriculum as I find this a 'must' ,the whole of India and world should know?

                                       ___________________ 







Monday 1 January 2024

HEAVENLY FRAGRANCE OF GODS WAS FROM INDIA!!

Happy new year to all my readers .... worldwide! Let me kick off the new edition of the new year with a hardly known historical fact about India.

It is a fact that in spite of our resources and local demand, India doesn't make a lot of consumer goods of Indian origin.Most of the FMCG items we manufacture and use are international brands though made in India. But steadily the scenario is getting changed I notice, but next ten years India could change the current speed of it,I am sure.

In the field of cosmetics and perfumes now we are nowhere though the consumption rate has gone high.Parisian brands are the most sought after here too for those who can afford it.I have read somewhere that the famous Indian brand in that field 'Lakme' was started by Tata's Unilever at the request of our first Prime Minister Nehru to JRD Tata to go for an Indian brand which our women could afford.JRD earnestly took the request, ending up in the creation of the brand 'Lakme'.But many of us may not be aware that 'Lakme' is a French rendition of the Sanskrit word 'Lakshmi'  who is the Goddess of wealth and beauty in Hinduism. Though Lakme created in 1952 has become a premier brand in India and even exported to 70 countries or so, now House of Tatas represent and just distribute a lot of imported international brands in India through their enterprise Tata Luxury even online! May be good for the organization  for profits but definitely not for the country. Just an observation and nothing more since, I am not an expert in the field. It is comparable to our computer hardware field where our own brands are much less, though we claim ourselves to be software giants!

But here I am to share a hardly known information among us that India has  one of the richest history in own fragrances and perfumes which is yet to be commercially tapped.Here I am writing about Agarwood or Aloes or Oud, a fragrance of Indian origin that mastered the fragrance world since 1400 BC about which shamefully I came to know first from Arabs only, while in Qatar.

Oud shops of Mumbai....
It was Mr. Sherida Al Kaabi, Chairman of the business group 'Al Balagh' where I had been working in Qatar, who told me first that among the Oud wood the best and costliest comes from India! I specifically remember that he told me so while we were strolling Mumbai Fort area looking for some specific shops selling them! We were on a business trip .To be very honest and frank, when I had landed in Qatar in 1984, I was so ignorant about perfumes and fragrances that I did not know the difference between an eau de cologne, eau de toilette and eau de parfum! I didn't know about Oud wood chips either. I think many of the educated Indians could  still  be in that state even now.

But let us be awake fellow Indians...We have introduced the first most popular fragrance to the  rest  of the world centuries back. Let it be in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Middle East or else where...India has done it historically making it the 'favourite fragrance of the Gods' whether it is Hinduism,Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or Islam as it is mentioned in seminal texts!

As spiritual history rolls out....
Agarwood of Assam, India and its mystifying fragrance was first mentioned in the Sanskrit epic 'Mahabharata' in 1500 BC. There it is mentioned as a welcome aroma as 'Agaru'.The earliest recorded use of this plant aromatics is found in the four vedas of ancient India written between 1500-1000 BC . So also in Arthasastra of 320 BC it is clearly mentioned that the aromatics originates from resin infused infected wood in the stem of the Agar tree or even artificially done so!Agarwood was in use as an ingredient of perfumery in India along with sandalwood,musk, camphor from olden times.From time immemorial Hindus burn incense stick in puja rooms and elsewhere. It is known as 'Agarbatti' which is derived from 'Agar bathi' in Hindi- incense stick made from Agarwood!

In the Old Testament of the Bible, Aloe (Agaru) is specifically mentioned many times may be because it was in use in Jewish traditions.Even in the New Testament as per the Gospel of John 19:39-40 it is stated that Jesus's body was anointed with a mixture of Myrrh and Aloes following His crucifixion!

In 'Nirvana Sutra Buddhism' when Buddha was about to enter the state of Nirvana, about Aloe aromatics there is a mention.Buddhist text 'Jataka Tales' of 4th century BC also mentions about Aloe categorically!

Pre Islamic Arabian tribes were trading in Aloeswood/Agarwood of India.In the Quran there is a mention of many fragrant plants. In several Hadiths, Oud (Agarwood) is referred to as an Indian Incense for rituals as burning of incense wood, which is being practiced in many Islamic  countries to this day.

As I am not an expert on holy books all as these references are made from  historical records available and any wrong interpretations be taken in that spirit.

Black Gold.....


Botanically when an Agar tree - Aquilaria Malaccensis- becomes infected by a mould -Phialophora Parasitica- the tree produces a dark, dense and fragrant resin to protect itself.It is this resin which becomes embedded in the tree which is the source of Oud! As in the case of pearl, artificially also such a resin can be produced.Originally discovered in India in  Assam locally known as Xasi,the ' info and technique' of Agarwood was later passed on to Tibet (a-ga-ru), China (Chen Xiang),Thailand (Mai Krishna), South East Asia and Middle East where it was known as Oud.

As the neo rich of the Arabian Gulf states likes the fragrances and perfumes, the area became a big market for this costly oil-- more than $ 12000 per kg! International brands of perfumes of Paris and London fight with each other for their market share with neo fragrances in neo bottles with neo prices each season- the highest ever perfume created for a human nose so far !From Tom Ford, to Christian Dior to Armani or Yves Saint Laurent ......But this fragrance is not popular among westerners is another fact. 

It all started with India centuries back...It is high time that Indians take a note of it! Not only we have to teach others but we have to learn also from others- what we don't know or not good at...It is difficult to believe that now India makes one of the best whiskies in the world out beating even renowned scotch brands - 'Amrut' single malt.And the best cheese in the world out classing all the best European brands-'Eleftheria Brunost' is from Bombay!I am sure that among perfumes also we are capable of competing Paris- just a matter of time.

Tailpiece
I don't find any mention of this history in Indian textbooks!I wish that I am wrong!!

                        _______________________________

Dr.Rajan Varghese, Ex Principal UC College has shared the following postal stamps of India on the subject.His comments are given in appropriate column.          
                                         

_______________________________________________




Friday 1 December 2023

GUILLOTINE -HOW A KILLING MACHINE BECAME A SYMBOL OF EQUALITY!

While the French revolution gave the world 'Liberty , Equality and Fraternity' which reverberated throughout the world , though necessarily immediately like in India, it also gave a killing tool some sort of a status in the French  society! Guillotine which was promoted by a surgeon became respectable at that time since it symbolized equality in  death also! When it was introduced in 1789 by Dr.Joseph Ignace Guillotin as a lawmaker this was the logic behind and the name of the equipment got stuck to the family name.Till capital punishment was stopped recently in France in 1981, Guillotine was continued to be used.

As the Guillotine way of execution which was quick and considered to be more humane compared to the various ways of execution existed till those days, the King Louis XVI was slaughtered in 1793 in public, declaring the country to be republic followed by queen Marie Antoinette in the same year! 

During the days of 'Reign of Terror' (1793-94) fight among revolutionaries themselves following execution of the King took place while Jacobin's eventually took control, 40000 such executions took place using Guillotin.Such executions were popular among the masses as an entertainment and staged in public.


How Guillotin came into France...

The story of beheading was different in the world.At least 500 years before Guillotine was put into practice in France, similar but more crude and other ways of executions were there in Ireland ,Italy and England. "Planke" of Germany, Scottish "Maiden"  and "Mannaia' of Italy are some of them. "Halifax Gibbet" was used in England in the 12th century.

In 1790 Dr Joseph Ignace Guillotin did not invent the machine but as a lawmaker promoted  it that death penalty shall be equal to all regardless of crimes committed or social ranking of the person who did it!In fact this machine was invented by another surgeon Antonie Louis.Initially the machine was called as Louisette.

 Dr. Guillotin presented his six articles as follows and became law in France.Quote:

1. Offences of the same kind will be punished by the same kind of penalty.

2. In all cases where the law imposes the death penalty on an accused person, the punishment shall be the same, whatever the nature of the offence of which he is guilty; the criminal shall be decapitated; this will be done solely by means of a simple mechanism.

3. In view of the personal character of crime, no punishment of a guilty person shall involve and discredit to his family. The honour of those belonging to him shall be in no way be soiled, and they shall continue to be no less admissible to any kind of profession, employment and public function.

4. No one shall reproach a citizen with any punishment imposed on one of his relatives. Whosoever ventures to do so shall be publicly reprimanded by the judge. The sentence imposed on him shall be written up on the offender's door. Moreover, it shall be written up on the pillory and remain there for a period of three months.


                                             Dr.Guillotin
5. 
Confiscation of the condemned person's property shall in no case be imposed.

6. The corpse of an executed man shall be handed over to his family on their request. In every case, he shall be allowed normal burial and no reference shall be made on the register to the nature of his death.Unquote.

The machine...

The device releases a sharp blade from a height of 226 centimeters.With the combined weight of the blade and counter the Guillotine can cut through the neck of a human being within .005 seconds!According to Guillotine, this invention was one of the best deals of the revolution-humane,equalizing and scientific!A guillotine blade that was originally used during revolution for executions is exhibited in Paris at the Police Museum.Still it seems like a star attraction!

By the time joseph Guillotin died at his age of 75, the machine had become synonymous with terror with his family name stuck to it. After his death , his relatives approached the Government to change the name of the machine which was rejected.It could be a paradox in history that instead the family changed the name!

Earrings and Tricoteuses of the revolution period


Tricoteuses is a French term used to describe 'a knitting woman' who used to flock in thousands and watch the live executions staged in public while continuing to knit!It became a nickname to describe the women who sat to watch the executions by guillotine and cooly knit enjoying the scenario! The liberty cap they knit those days became infamously popular. Charles Dickens in his famous novel 'A Tale of Two Cities ' has popularized the images of Tricoteuses profusely. Even fashion was influenced by the  earrings modelled after Guillotine as seen above!!

Ironically Hitler made the Guillotine the state method of execution in the 1930s and 40s with 20 such machines placed across the German cities killing thousands!

Tailpiece....The Cross

Having written about Guillotine and how it was regarded as a symbol of equality on death in a modern society in France and elsewhere, if I skip about a killing device which has become arguably the most popular in the history of the world, I would be unfair.The Cross, the most important symbol of Christianity  not only remains a symbol of  hope and peace... but also revered among Christians for last 2000 years!

                                 ________________________

Wednesday 1 November 2023

IN EUROPE PINEAPPLE WAS "PINA DE INDES" - PINE OF THE INDIANS, A STATUS SYMBOL! .... rediscovering unknown history!

Kerala , my home state in India is blessed with a lot of locally grown tropical fruits. Pineapple is one among them. This exotic fruit is so cheap here that it is available for less than half a USD a KG! And it is abundantly available during the season.But when I read somewhere that pineapple was a status symbol among the elite in Europe some time back- in 16th and 17th century- I decided to make a trail of it to have a better understanding of the theme.

Pineapple is a native of South America especially to Brazil and Paraguay. It was known as 'Ananas Comosus' in Guarani, a local live language which existed there from the days of the conquest of the Spanish. It was Christopher Columbus in 1496 who brought a lone pineapple which survived his long voyage of weeks- in a ship which had only wind power- from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe to Spain. He presented it to King Ferdinand as "pina de Indes"- Pine of the Indians thinking that he had just discovered India for this island!. The king fell for the taste of the fruit which was unknown to anyone in Europe till then! The hey days of pineapple commenced that day!!

As pineapples started being available in a limited way in Europe, the wealthy went wild with the taste of this fruit. Along with the taste, pineapple became synonymous with nobility and wealth as it became the favorite of Charles II of Scotland, Catherine the Great of Russia, Louis XV of France and King Ferdinand of Spain!

                                  


From the Mayas to "Pineries" of Europe...
Around 750 BC, the Mayas and Aztecs of Mexico were the oldest civilization which cultivated pineapples. Soon it might have spread around the areas of that Continent , but nothing is recorded until Christopher Columbus who transported the first pineapple to Europe in 1496 which he named as "pina de Indes"-Pine of India. Just 25 years later Magellan too discovered the pineapple plant in his exploration of Brazil. Spaniards named the fruit "pinas" due to resemblance to pine cone.
In Europe by mid 1600 pineapples were successfully cultivated in specially designed hot houses called "pineries". In 1677 the first European grown pineapple in England was presented to King Charles II and soon "pinery" became a status symbol.

Pineapple madness...
As the pineapple became sought after, rivalries broke out among the aristocrat families of Europe! It was so expensive that only few could eat it. At one stage it was "rented" out to banquets for display! Pineapples were carved into stones, carpet, sand, wood by artists making pineapple a luxury. By 18th century, the fruit became an architectural feature of selective buildings.In Europe  such a craze reverberated to the extent that a single fruit cost $8000 by today's standards!

How the price came down....
By early 18th century, steamships came into existence for navigation. Long voyages could be made in rather short periods unlike the earlier ships which were depending on wind power. Transport of pineapples in bulk also could be facilitated in shorter period which made Europe to get fresh supplies from far away countries which were colonized by then. Pineapple became a product of colony and prices came down!

 So also many countries of South America. In 1888 John L Jensen, a new migrant to US made a modern plantation of 133 acres extent and export center at Florida. In 1899 James D Dole ,a Harvard graduate developed a modern pineapple plant of 65 acres at Hawaii who was known as pineapple king!


And now..
As the scientific world found out that pineapples are low in calories while high in vitamins,minerals and an antioxidant, the fruit- fresh as well as canned- became very popular.Largest producers of pineapples currently are Philippines, Costa Rica and Brazil.Even fresh pineapples come under world renowned brands like Del Monte,Dole and Chiquita.The best and tastiest pineapple is the Caribbean Antigua Black Pineapple although it is not black.

Pineapple cultivation was introduced to India in 1548 by the Portuguese colonists in Kerala and Goa but was limited to traditional cultivation.Assam,Meghalaya and Tripura are the states where pineapples are grown largely in India currently.There is a village named Vazhakulam near my home town which is very well known for this exotic fruit which I believe has a geographical tag for taste and quality. I have read the other day that Kerala state is in the process of making wine from locally grown pineapples and few more fruits.I am sure that only few might have observed Pineapple motifs built on famous Charminar at Hyderabad as seen below.Interestingly it is there since 16th century built by Qutb Shahi dynasty. 


                      

To this day when the best hotels and banquet halls display fruits from all over the world, it will be crowned by a fresh pineapple! Many countries of the world call pineapple as ananas to this day especially those who speak Arabic, Hindi, German, French and Greek. This is the story of Pina de Indes or ananas  oops pineapple!

                         _______________________________

Sunday 1 October 2023

FROM NAZI TO NASA, US AND ROSCOSMOS, RUSSIA......

HOW  V2 - THE NAZI ROCKET AND SCIENTISTS WERE USED BY AMERICANS AND RUSSIANS IN SPACE WAR!!

October 4, 1957.Moscow time 10.29 PM. As Russia launched the first artificial satellite named 'Sputnik 1' -meaning fellow traveller in Russian language- US ,the west and the rest of the world were taken aback by surprise!Russian(Soviet) news agency TASS and Radio Moscow announced that the successful launch  could be seen with the use of a powerful binocular and even record the Beep-Beep signal  using apt instruments!As the scientists and others in US watched and listened in awe, mixed with panic than happiness, this Soviet spacecraft passed over them many times a day!! The space war between Russia and US had begun that day during another already  ongoing war- the cold war.

Before the excitement over Sputnik 1 was over, Russians fired the 'Sputnik 2' just after 4 weeks, on November 3 1957! The world got bewildered knowing that a dog named 'Leika' too was sent in it into orbit making it the first living creature ever to do so.On May 15 1958, 'Sputnik 3' was launched with a lot of instruments fitted on them, though other than the Russians nobody knew what  precisely those were.When the Russians sent their cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space for the first time three years later, on April 12,1961 they sincerely thought that the Americans were left much behind in the race. Russians were proved wrong.In another 8  years thereafter, the Americans could make a human walk on the moon for the first time as a befitting response to USSR! Neil Armstrong made the 'Giant Leap for Mankind' on July 20, 1969 as we all know!!

Slightly bigger than a basketball, with whiskers like features  of a cat as antenna, it was the launch of 'Sputnik 1' by Russia (erstwhile USSR)- not US- that opened the doors of the space age, heralding the space race and space explorations which continue to this day.Remarkably this war has taken place during my time and many more players have joined since then-France,Germany,UK,Japan,China, India and more....Definitely this topic would not have come to my mind, if India had not  made the mission Chandrayaan 3, becoming the first country to soft land a satellite successfully recently on the  southern polar region of  the moon.I am trying to take stock of how this race had started historically than scientifically especially for the reading of youngsters and old timers alike, including my grand daughters Maria and Serah...who will understand well later, if not now....A must read...


Development of Science in US and Russia(USSR)...

In spite of the fact that at least eight Founding Fathers of US including Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were renowned scientists,  most of Europe was much advanced in scientific explorations comparatively till almost mid  20th century.

Russia's history of development in Science started from Czarist days.Peter the Great established the Imperial Academy of Sciences as early as in 1725.In 1917 when the Communists came to power there, already  that country had 4 full fledged universities. USSR gave much importance to Mathematics,Nuclear Science and Astronomy thereafter, churning out thousands of Scientists and Engineers, much more than relative to world population then.

But all these actions did not bring the standards in Russia either to what was available notably in Britain and Germany because of the long established scientific infrastructure, societies, universities and institutes there over centuries.Then what made US and Russia(USSR) lead the race of space explorations all of a sudden?

US ,V2 and a man from NAZI to NASA....
Nazi Germany was much ahead in Quantum Physics and Rocket Science compared to any other countries of the world.But Nazi thoughts of Hitler were not conducive for Jew citizens who were leading among the scientists in that country even to survive there.As Nazis started their influence over Germany and Italy,there was a steady flow of Jewish German scientists to US, which the latter encouraged.The famous Albert Einstein was one among them who migrated to US in 1933 which was followed by a lot.We all know how the US managed to have the first nuclear explosion with the help of such emigrants including Oppenheimer in 1944.


Nazi Germany was able to develop the first long range guided ballistic missile code named V2, much ahead of others.It was the brainchild of the Nazi German aerospace scientist Werner Von Braun and his team. V-2 was the world's first functional large scale liquid propellent rocket which the Nazi army secretly developed at Peenemunde island in Germany. Just before  the Red army captured this island on May 5, 1945, Braun and his entire team of about 125 and about 1600 other German scientists had moved out secretly to surrender to US forces along with truck loads of related research papers. The secret US operation was code named as 'Paperclip'!No one knows the correct numbers.

 US was able to place Wernher Von Braun as Director in NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). He was on the cover of lot of American publications later including Life magazine! The fact that he became a US citizen and regarded as the 'Father of Rocket Science' in that country was never an accident!Redstone missile which made Alan Shepard possible as first US astronaut to travel into space in 1971 was a direct derivative of V-2! 

 At the same time I don't think that US Science was anyway substandard before the Germans reached there.But they took advantage of the situation before and after the WW2 which definitely gave an impetus to the scientific society there.Since 1950s to this day ,Americans have won half of Nobel prizes awarded in Sciences is a world record yet to be broken! When the Electronics, Medicine, and IT boom started too, Americans are the leaders for sure.

                      German Scientists picked up in Operation Paperclip in US-1946. 
     
           V2, Forerunner of all ballistic missiles, developed by Nazi Germany.

Russia (USSR), ROSCOSMOS, V.2 and Nazi Germany...
Russia was fully aware of Braun and V-2.But they couldn't stop him and the team of 125 going to US as they preferred to surrender to them, though it was Red army which reached Berlin first on May 2, 1945 with access to Reichstag and Hitler's dwelling.Russians did the best of next  available options.They took the V-2 assembly facility at Peenemunde to bits to decipher their workings ,along with detailed drawings and shipped available data to Moscow! Americans and the British had to wait another two months until July 4, 1945 to have an entry to Berlin. But they had their pieces of cakes from elsewhere in Germany!

ROSCOSMOS is equivalent of NASA in Russia, if you don't know.Under 'Operation Osoaviakhim', Russians identified about 2500 Nazi German scientists - altogether 6500 including family members-  who were transferred to Soviet Union latest by October 22, 1946 in 92 trains!The famous rocket engineer Helmut Grottrup, who was a colleague of Braun was one among them.He along with other Germans such as Johannes Hoch,Kurt Mogus etc have contributed German technology to USSR.Here I have to mention that Grotropp defected to West Germany in 1953 and invented the first smart card of the world thereafter! Americans exploded the first atomic bomb in 1944, but Russians followed suit in 1949, now you know how!The famous rocket of USSR code named R-5M was made on the basis of V-2 as seen below!

                                               
                                          Soviets in Berlin hoisting their flag over Reichstag
And V-2....and India
V of V-2 stands for a difficult German word to pronounce for me- 'Vergetltungswaffezweir' which means 'Vengeance weapon'.It is estimated that thousands of concentration slave workers had perished in  manufacturing them by Nazis.Nevertheless both countries- America and Russia - considered V-2 as antecedent  of their own ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles and used effectively related German scientists, is a true record of history which even those countries don't deny! When US and West used to look down on India while getting into the bandwagon of atomic club or aerospace club with our own humble but honest efforts with all our problems including poverty , I never knew that they had such a  negative past! And I don't think that most of fellow Indians  either!!Perhaps even those who live in the west  now also may not be fully aware, as only after the cold war was over it is known in public domain.But look at the double standards of the western outlook! They laugh at us, forgetting what they did in this field with the Nazis'!


    The cartoon published in NYT when India sent record number of             satellites in a day. They later apologised for the same. Given another       opportunity probably, they may repeat!

        In 1925 -almost 100 years back- a US cartoon predicting that one                        day the balance of power would shift!

Always remember that the great invention of 'zero'('sunya' in Sanskrit) by Indian Mathematicians in the 5th century , was more than nothing.That's why Albert Einstein himself told once:"We owe a lot to Indians , who taught us to count without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made".Intelligent westerners like Max Muller,Mark Twain,Romain Rolland, Will Durant...the list can be longer ,have testified similar accounts, if you require such consolations from west itself.But I also remember that we cannot live quoting our glorious past alone.

India is very young country in the quest of aero space adventures comparing to existing experts.But the new economic situation of the country making it one of the richest in GDP have opened many avenues for the country and countrymen. And the situation will be much better as years go by.We may not have Godfathers to help us or need not be copy cats as the west did but still I feel that in the next 25 years, India will turn around to be a full blossomed robust nation in this respect.All we do is inject  a sense of nationalism in the veins of Indian youngsters , giving professional opportunities to grow in our own country,who now make serpentine queues in front of US and other western consulates to immigrate! Make them understand that after scoring excellent grades from top most best institutes of the country, which are on par with the best in the world in Sciences and Engineering, not to settle for selling FMCG or beauty products or cool drinks here or abroad just for the sake of some more  monies to earn!Sure,nothing wrong with those careers but they are making  others loose  chances for an entry to study  Science and Engineering in such prestigious colleges of fame and become world class scientists and engineers! Let us resolve problem of poverty in India also along with becoming a super power house in Science, Technology and Economy- not forgetting Arts, Literature, Humanities and others- reminding the fact that Science can help it being accomplished, more than anything else! We have to grow ourselves and protect ourselves! We have the right capabilities.We have to make it happen.

I shall sign off here after making two cartoons as above.The first one  could be a repeat for you.Elite Space Club of US/Europe making fun of India, when the later shot more than hundred satellites in one go, a world record so far.The second is to show that all westerners are not fools.One of them had made a cartoon about 100 years back forecasting what India would do now and in future! US cartoonist Bob Minor  had published in 1925, predicting that one day the balance of power would shift to China, India and Africa!I don't think that even an Indian could dream of such a status for India at that time!

Definitely I may not live long enough to see this situation happen.But that is secondary.

                             ___________________________

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