Monday, 1 April 2019

AT CROSS pursuit of history of cross..

April.Month of Good Friday for Christians  which is synonymous with a wooden cross on which Jesus Christ is believed to have died.Many may not be aware that the  cross which is the most common symbol of Christianity internationally  now, took few centuries to be recognized so after the death of Jesus Christ.So also the new faith born in Palestine- Christianity was not welcome only there but in any land under Roman rule for few centuries.In fact early Christians were persecuted until end of 3rd century in places like Rome......

During the time of Jesus Christ a cross was just an instrument for the capital punishment while crucifixion was one of the most painful,disgraceful,dreaded and brutal mode of death in history, if not the most. The victim eventually died after several  hours or days from exhaustion and asphyxiation hanging from a large wooden beam.

But how and when did the cross start representing Christianity?During the month of most famous public execution of all time, few non theological rather historical musings on the cross,arguably the most recognizable symbol in the world ....

Crucifixion..when did it start and end?
Crucifixion had become an established form of execution in the Roman empire long before birth of Jesus.It is first attested in ancient history in Persia.That was by 6th century BC.Probably Assyrians and Babylonians(more or less present day Turkey and Iraq) might have used it before.This was later used by Greeks, mainly by Alexander the great and Carthaginians who introduced the method to Rome.

It was Romans who perfected the technique of crucifixion.When I use the term 'technique' I do that intentionally. Because Romans made sure that maximum agony for maximum prolonged period is inflicted on the victim. For this reason it was widely used only for slaves and non citizens from 3rd century BC.It was not used among the citizens.History clearly notes that when Spartacus led his rebellion against Rome,once he and his 6000 followers  captured, were crucified mercilessly. Crucifixion was a common sight in the Colosseum those days. Romans might have chosen this mode of capital punishment to put fear in everyone who wanted to stand against Rome and Roman laws.Palestine was under Roman rule during the time of Jesus Christ.

After execution of Jesus Christ who had few followers,they were not allowed to preach or practice what they believed in any land under Roman rule.Early Christians were persecuted there for the first few centuries of its birth!In other places also people of new faith were not welcome.

 In Rome, Emperor Nero had the distinction of executing quite a number of early Christians!However after continuously adapting Crucifixion as a method of capital punishment for 500 years,Roman Emperor Constantine in AD 341 abolished it abruptly in honor of Christ's death and legalized the new religion on a surprise move once he came to power! Christians started  using cross as a symbol of what they believed in public only after Emperor Theodosius declared Christianity as state religion in AD 380 ! Until then it was represented by other symbols such as Alpha and Omega,Ichthys (shape of a fish)....

Different forms of cross that existed in history... 
Historically there are two methods by which the victim was attached to a cross-by rope and by nails.Roman historical sources indicate that those who were condemned to crucifixion generally forced to carry only the cross beam and not the complete cross.The vertical upright was set on a permanent place where it was used for subsequent executions.

There are different forms of cross that existed in history. The word for cross in Greek and Latin is Stauros and crux respectively.Crux Simplex (I) was single upright post only.Crux Ansata/Anka based on a tau cross surmounted with a loop and Saint Thomas cross are believed to be earliest forms of crosses used in Egypt and India respectively. Crux Decussata is shaped after Roman numeral X.Crux Immissa  is the type of cross in which the vertical beam sticks out above cross beam.This type of cross is believed to have used for Jesus Christ and eventually became the most widely recognized symbol of Christianity.Over the centuries quite a number of different types of crosses came into existence among the believers.

Symbol of Cross...something common among all Christians...
There are tens of major divisions and hundreds of different sectors among the christian believers today.Albeit all are Jesus centrist churches, denominations or congregations, they practice different forms and ways over the centuries, each one believing that theirs is the best! And as a christian I can see that unfortunately some of them may not be necessarily practicing all the time what Jesus lived for-Love, peace and tranquility!But almost all of them acknowledge something in common- cross as the symbol of Christianity!!But in this matter too there are very few groups within Christianity who differs!!

One can find in churches and elsewhere, a cross with Jesus crucified or a simple cross alone.While the first one is a reminder of Jesus Christ's sacrifice, the later reminds the believers of Christ's resurrection adapted by Catholics and protestants respectively.Many cathedrals and churches are built to have floor plans based in the shape of a cross-cruciform- to this day.And during the course of the worship Christians make the sign of cross by touching the forehead,chest and each shoulder few times.

Saint Thomas cross...

                                            St.Thomas cross

One country where Christianity was welcome right from ancient times and flourished without any hardships is my own great country India.Saint Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ is believed by tradition to have landed in Kerala, South India in 56 AD!It is also believed that he came in search of Jews already in India by that time.Though Christians remained less than 2 % of total population, in 1972 the Govt of India came out with a postal stamp to commemorate the 18th death centenary of Saint Thomas, depicting the Saint Thomas cross which is being used here for the last 2000 years without much changes!!

Photos/Illustrations:courtesy google images.

Friday, 1 March 2019


Yes, in modern history of the world there was a night named as such-night of broken glass.That was the night shattered glass windowpanes littered streets of Germany.It is remembered as the beginning of the Holocaust.Yet many of us may not be aware of that night which in German is known as Kristallnacht.

In 1933 Hitler came to power.Since then most of the Nazi laws enacted to oppress Jews were social, political and economic in nature but remained non violent.But it changed over night.During this night for the first time Nazi action against Jews turned violent and deadly!

On night of 9-10 November 1938 in Germany Nazi paramilitary forces such as SS along with civilian supporters targeted German Jews in a pre planned mission.Thousands of helpless Jews were arrested,Jewish homes and shops were destroyed while synagogues were burnt down!

The background...
Hitler blamed Jews for almost everything which went wrong in Germany in his time albeit they were less than 1% of population.He believed that Jews were responsible for the economic and social damages inflicted on Germany during  First World war.Once he came to power in 1933 he strongly believed and advocated that Jews could not assimilate to German society though they were in Germany for many centuries because they were not Aryans!Ideology of Nazism was based on concept of the superior race of Aryans!He sincerely wanted Jews in Germany to leave the country for good to elsewhere.And he started taking forcible action to make it happen!

Initial action against Jews by Hitler was the announcement of boycott of Jewish shops in 1933.Paramilitary officers were engaged to dissuade shoppers entering Jewish shops.Thereafter the Nazis took effective action banning kosher butchery.Jews were denied practice of legal profession and entry to civil services.Voting right for parliamentary elections was called off.Sex between Jews and Germans(Aryans) was an offence. Persecution of Jews became official albeit it was not for the first time in Germany.History has recorded that Jews were treated in a similar way during the time of first crusade!

On 7 November same year a Polish Jew walked into German Embassy in Paris and shot at a German diplomat who died two days later of his wounds.He was a refugee who wanted to avenge the deportation of his father to Poland.It seems Nazi party got something they had been waiting for... 

Night of broken glass..Beginning of Holocaust...
On night of 9-10 November thousands of Jews-30000- were arrested,Jewish shops were looted and destroyed.Jewish homes were attacked and vandalized.Hundreds of synagogues were destroyed.In the rampage 90 Jews were killed.Most of the arrested men between 16-60 were transported to concentration camps at Dachau,Buchenwald and others.

Streets of Germany and annexed parts of Austria and Czechoslovakia were full of shards of broken glass that night.While Nazi arm like SS with support of few Germans carried out this operation,Nazi Govt declared that it was spontaneous outbursts!!While heavy fines were imposed on Jews for this, they were deprived of taking compensation from insurance companies.

Following night of broken glass half of Jews who were in Germany for centuries migrated to neighboring countries.We all know what Nazis did to the remaining half .....

Jews,Holocaust and Palestinians in my life...
I hail from town of Kochi which is not typical of India.The main difference with most of  other such B grade towns in India is the fact that Kochi is cosmopolitan all along.Among my schoolmates there were Jews.But they left the country in late 1950s and early 1960s for Israel.They had left not because of persecution of any kind from the Indian society but for Israel.I understand that many of the Jews so left the country keep on coming to the town in their old age regularly on visits or even own apartments for such stays!Although they left for good, names such as Jew town and Jew street remain intact to this day in this sprawling city along with few well preserved synagogues and cemeteries exhibiting famed tolerance of Indian society.

It was in later life-in my early 20s- that I knew about Holocaust.When I started reading about that I came to know of the hardships Jews had to face in Germany and elsewhere.Leon Uris and Elie Wiesel have painted the atrocities Jews had to undergo in ghettos and concentration camps vividly in their books.I have seen couple of movies based on such themes as well.I really felt sorry for what had happened to them. 

It was when I started my career in Doha that I had the opportunity to mix with a lot of Palestinians.Some of them became my good friends.Almost all of them were second generation Arabs who had to leave the country when Israel was created, now mostly holding passport of Jordan.Through them I have heard first hand many times their own bitter experiences with authorities in Israel while trying to to meet their own relatives or on other contexts. I felt sorry for them as well.

I look forward to the day long lasting peace in the region with all concerned parties prevail.I am an optimistic person and I really look forward for those moments.... 

Friday, 1 February 2019

NO MORE CARS PLEASE.... MAKE BOMBERS AND TANKS!................................. How US became the largest producer of warfare equipment from 19th position!!

It is estimated that US now accounts for 34% of all global arms sales amounting to more than US$100 billion.World's second largest exporter of weapons is Russia but US is 58% higher than those of Russia!When this news caught my attention, though it has a negative tinge of war and violence, I was curious how this happened.All these developed countries-barring a few like Japan-are making whopping revenue by doing this while developing countries like India remain largest importers!!

From a position of 19th,US came up all the way during the second world war,a position US retained since then to this day.How could US, a democratic country  attain it decades back relatively in a short span to counter the axis of two largest industrial and military giants of the world then - Germany and Japan is interesting to any person with a corporate background.

On 1 January 1942,three weeks after the attack of Pearl Harbour, by an unexpected,unusual Govt decree, American automobile manufactures were asked to stop production and sales of cars, trucks and even auto parts for an indefinite period commencing Feb of the same year.The order  froze even delivery of cars to customers who had previously booked them!US automobile industry, producers of largest number of cars in the world- as high as 3 million in 1941- was transformed completely to turn out plane engines, tanks,bombers and guns within a short span of few weeks!! From 1942-45, for four years only 139 cars were manufactured in US, that too for the Govt purposes only!! Detroit, the automobile city turned overnight to take lead of another role- hub of 'arsenal of democracy'.

United States became United Americans over night...
Until attack on Pearl Harbor took place, Americans were in comfortable position thinking that the venues of actual war are far away places, in other continents.For the same and other reasons there were people who opposed US direct participation in the war-almost 50% of the population.But the shocking,unexpected and devastating attack on Pearl Harbor where 2400 US citizen were killed while 8 battleships and 200 planes destroyed made the change of the minds of the people instantly.United States became United Americans over night.US might have faced a worse situation thereafter only on 11 September 2001.US declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy within 24 hours.

I think it is human nature to behave so collectively.Kerala, my home state had to face unprecedented flooding in August 2018.People of Kerala collectively faced it and came out of the debacle albeit now we are back to our favorite sport- mudslinging and petty politics.

US entering into war had dramatic effect on life of the people.President Roosevelt had to take a lot of hard decisions with the full support of the American congress.Japanese Americans were identified and asked to report to authorities.Later they-including second generation Japs in US and their families- were sent to far off 'relocation centers' set up for the purpose which were nothing more than glorified isolated detention camps.But there was no such treatment for German Americans or Italian Americans!However it may not be fair on my side not to mention that in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan American congress formally apologized for its wartime treatment of these innocent Japanese Americans and paid some token compensation !

Rationing of food, petrol and diesel, clothing,rubber and few other products were introduced among the public.The automobile industry was ordered to change the production line.

US becomes 'arsenal of democracy'....Detroit becomes its center
President Franklin D Roosevelt used a novel but an apt phrase of 'arsenal of democracy' to describe own country as he tried to arouse popular support for sending military aid to nations fighting Axis of powers.Detroit, the biggest car city started playing a pivotal role as all the auto factories started to churn out military warfare products.

General Motors produced 60000 bomber engines for Pratt and Whitney,500000 military trucks, millions of artillery shells and 3800 T17 Stag hound armored scout cars among others during the period of 1942-45.Ford Motors built B24 bombers from their exclusive plant at Willow Run other than plane engines,jeeps, gliders.Each of the  'Battle of Atlantic' fame B 24 Liberator bomber came out of assembly line each hour!! Chrysler built M3 Grant tanks.One will remember that this was successfully used in North Africa against the Germans and Italian forces.They also manufactured Sherman tanks.Packard made aeroplane and marine engines......

The result of such a vigorous move in production was unimaginable.US became the largest producer of warfare equipment in the world from the its standing of 19th in the world in 1939, a position which they hold to this day.

Fiat,Porsche,Volkswagen.... America was not the only country that entrusted auto industry to build warfare weapons.Fiat of Italy also made tanks and aeroplanes. Porsche and Volkswagen had close connections with Third Reich during second world war.But world history is recorded by the winners of wars and conquests mostly, while losers will have hardly a say.....

Photos courtesy:google

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

YKK - Lesser known but better to know SUCCESS STORY !

A very happy new year to all my readers worldwide!Let me open the year on a positive note!

Everyday we all use zippers many times albeit we hardly notice it.It is part and parcel of our life style.Yes;I meant the simple device used for closing openings in our clothing,bags...We do not give much attention to that gadget unless it gets stuck or difficult to operate.In those cases also we blame the manufacturers of those clothing or bags than the zipper.Because almost all of us do not know that the zippers are also branded! 

If you have not noticed any brand on a zipper yet, please do so.Fifty percent chance is that it is branded as YKK especially if the clothing or bag happens to be branded or of good quality.Or to put it in another words, if you have not heard of the brand or sure of the quality of a clothing like a pants,jeans,ladies or children wear the shopkeeper exhibits, may be while shopping in a foreign country on which a zipper comes, all you do is look for YKK brand on the zipper and buy.It will be of good quality if one can believe what the world statistics say....

Here I am sharing the success of YKK branded zippers-originally made in Japan but now globally, including India-which each of the lead brand in the world proudly uses.And about the 'Cycle of Goodness' the philosophical strategy the founder of the company has based its success which can be emulated in any business. A lesser known but better to  know story!

Zippers are a big business!
YKK.This three letters might not ring a bell for many.I was one among them until few years back. It is a trade name abbreviation of Yoshida Manufacturing Shareholding Company in Japanese.Zippers are not small but big business.The global market for zippers is estimated to be $11.7 billion now. YKK makes almost half of all zippers in the world-46% to be exact.Spread in 71 countries,558 locations and 111 companies YKK produces enough zippers to wrap around the world 50 times each year!And that looks incredible but true!

Cycle of Goodness....
Tadao Yoshida founder of YKK firmly believed in a business philosophy which he formulated and practiced as early as 1940s!I am of the opinion that it is still valid 100% but at the same time difficult to practice anywhere anytime.Cycle of Goodness that he envisaged says that well treated workers or employees create a better product, a better product benefit customers or clients and a satisfied customer in turn benefit YKK! They did not change the approach to quality and  customers even after his death in spite they had to face a lot of challenges including that their factory at Tokyo was burnt down in 1945.Of course YKK was supplying zippers needed for Imperial Japanese armed forces during ww2. I am not sure whether it is at that time YKK invented specially made silent zippers for the soldiers!

Yoshida believed that business belongs to society while a company survives through existence.No one prospers without rendering benefit to others.No wonder that YKK is well respected by the world's apparel industry along with many other fields such as bags and suitcases,back pack or even sleeping bag!

Evolution of zipper...which finished supremacy of buttons
Having said so high of YKK,it also has to be noted that YKK did not have anything to do with invention of of the zipper.It was in 1851 that Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, received a patent for a forerunner of a zipper.It seems he was after the sewing machine that he paid little attention to this patent.

it was Whitcomb Judson who improved the gadget further in 1893 to the level of a 'clasp locker'.Interestingly he worked on the product to help a close friend of his who found it difficult to bend to fasten the shoes due to acute back pain!

The modern zipper was designed in 1913 by Gideon Sunback but not the name.Name zipper was developed by BF Goodrich Company.Earlier zippers were used for boots and tobacco pouches until The Universal Fastener  Company later renamed as TALON began mass producing zippers in 1930.By end of WW2 TALON was selling around 500 million of zippers in a monopolized market.

YKK comes in and steal the show.....
The roles of Americans and US companies started dwindling as YKK came to picture.It is even rumored that YKK copied products of TALON initially.But soon  YKK started using aluminium instead of copper for zippers and other innovative ideas which made the later to penetrate to the monopolized market of TALON. I also remember having read that. It is also rumored that the Japanese copied German auto designs initially but made cheaper, efficient and value-for-money versions of them after WW2!!

Back to YKK.They introduced a lot of innovative patented fastenings such as Beulon,Ziplon,Kensin....Finally TALON had to close down in 1993, though I think they have revived since then.In spite of hundreds of Chinese companies have entered to the scene, YKK continues its dominance. It may be because of their belief in their own Cycle Of Goodness!

A bit of own similar experience in Doha....
In this context , I also remember those few occasions where I myself used to 'sneak in' getting friendly with the watchmen, on holidays in some of the project sites of leading companies in Doha.That was when Al Balagh was a small company in the early nineties!!Of course my aim was to look around to see the 'modus operandi' at sites, quality of their work,levels of safety measures and house keeping adapted!!Hardly anyone knew this and I didn't share this with anyone either because nursing  such an idea to learn and observe from the best firms in Doha could have looked to some a bit different than ambitious those days!! For sure my belief in own business mantra- 'excellent quality and timely delivery' also took shape those days !

20 years later Al Balagh Group came up all the way to be awarded as the best national company in 2012 in Qatar, out beating all those leading  firms, projects of which I used to 'sneak in', is also part of history!

photo:courtesy google