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Saturday, December 5, 2015

Seep! Seep!! Seep!!!

‘Seep’ used during WW II saves scores in Chennai

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Vinayak Shankar with his 1943 Ford GPA Amphibious Seep with which he helped rescue services across Chennai. -Photo: Sruthisagar Yamunan
Vinayak Shankar with his 1943 Ford GPA Amphibious Seep with which he helped rescue services across Chennai. -Photo: Sruthisagar Yamunan

By March 1943, Ford had built 12,778 Seeps which marked its presence by dropping Allied troops on to Normandy in ‘Operation Neptune’ on June 6, 1944.

Seventy-two years after it was first produced, the 1943 Ford GPA Amphibious Seep, which helped put thousands of Allied troops on the Normandy beach during World War II, came to the rescue of Chennai residents when a business man used the vehicle for extensive relief work.
When Vinayak Shankar of Krishna Mines realised the proportions of the flooding in Chennai, he quickly called up his men in Tirunelveli to transport the Ford GPA on a truck to the city. When the ‘amphibious seep’ finally arrived on Tuesday, Mr. Shankar rushed to Kottupuram and met officials, offering to help in the rescue and relief efforts.
By March 1943, Ford had built 12,778 Seeps which marked its presence by dropping Allied troops on to Normandy in ‘Operation Neptune’ on June 6, 1944.
The landing is considered the most decisive military operations that quickened the destruction of the Nazi regime.
While the officers in Chennai first hesitated, they quickly realised how efficient the ‘amphibious’ jeep was in manoeuvring in deep waters. In Kotturpuram, Mr. Shankar braved strong currents of the Adayar river in spate to distribute food packets to stranded residents. “At one point, the current was so strong that I swirled with the vehicle. I had to hook the vehicle to a building and then distribute the food packets,” he said.
Mr. Shankar has a special mechanic, Udhayasuriyan, who has been with his family for thirty years and takes care of the Seep, which runs on petrol.
“After World War II, the British brought a few of these vehicles to be put to use in the Brahmaputra. When they were leaving India, some were sold off to locals. My grandfather picked one,” he said.
Mr. Shankar was so much in demand on Saturday that much of the food distribution to flood-affected colonies happened on his Seep. “When I looked at how the people were stranded, my conscience did not let me stay idle. Miners are usually seen as troublemakers. I also wanted to prove that notion wrong. We are also very much human,” he said.
Ford GPA, deployed to drop Allied troops on Normandy Beach, delivers food packets

On a relief camp

This link may throw some light for directing the focus of charity of the humble people like us.


Published: December 6, 2015 08:55 IST | Updated: December 6, 2015 08:56 IST  

Sad state of a relief camp in North Chennai

Residents say they have been getting food on time but do not have enough blankets and medicines. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam
Residents say they have been getting food on time but do not have enough blankets and medicines. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam
A group of people sat shivering on a narrow corridor near the playground in Velayan Chettiar Higher Secondary School, Tiruvottiyur, clearly in need of blankets and good clothes, on Saturday. 
Residents of different localities of Tiruvottiyur including Kargil Nagar, Rajaji Nagar and Radha Krishnan Nagar, are at currently a relief camp in North Chennai. 
The camp, set up at a school, is packed with over a thousand people. 
“We encounter many problems at relief camps. Initially, they kept many of us at wedding halls in the locality. But as marriages have been scheduled, they shifted us to this school,” an inhabitant of the relief camp says.
Though food is being provided on time, most of these residents are unhappy that they have not been provided with blankets and medicines. 
“Not many rooms are open. Hence, many of them, including children and senior citizens, have been forced to sleep out on corridors, shivering in the cold,” said S. Dhanalakshmi, a resident of Rajaji Nagar. 
Besides this, mosquitoes are a major problem at these camps. 
“We are frightened that the children and the elderly will be infected with dengue. The government needs to carry out fogging operations here. We are also in need of a doctor who can check on the sick; and also, we will be able to protect ourselves from catching any illness if we are provided with nila vembu kudineer,” said P. Anjala, a resident of Kargil Nagar.
Water is a big issue at the relief camp. 
“They told us that there is only a little water and we have to use it carefully,” said A. Rajan. Many residents at the camp in Victory Matriculation School in Village Street, complained that they were put up in cramped spaces. 
Printable version | Dec 6, 2015 9:54:12 AM |

Tuesday, December 1, 2015



This was in response to a mail. I share it with you, for sheer joy.

Here we go... I toured recently about 40 cave temples in South India, scintillating with sculptures that surpassed every thing that he had seen anywhere, said John, who curates South Asian section in the Metropolitan Museum in NY. We were a bunch of 25 crazy Archaelogy & Bakthi scholars from all over the globe -Austria, Canada, USA, japan, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Australia and so on. and only two of us were Indians. Needless to add, I ranked lowest among scholars, being a student. About a thousand photographs taken by me are yet to be sorted out. I can send about 25,000 photographs of exquisite and embellished statues of yore. Leonarda da Vinci will swoon over them.


Monday, November 30, 2015



November 30, 2015

This series endeavors to trace the trajectory of the evolving democracy in India, with the Constitution of India 1950 being the beacon-light.  The youth, particularly those competing for  the IAS etc., may benefit by the Montesquieu’s Separation of Powers -India Version.

Piloting the Article 19 in 1947, Sardar Patel wanted us to move with the times, shed the irrelevancies and put forth: ‘Land will be required for many public purposes, not only and but so many other things may have to be acquired And the State will acquire them after paying compensation and not expropriate them. That is the real meaning of the clause...’.

Barely four years later and within fifteen months of the working of the Constitution, Prime Minister Jawahrlal Nehru moved the Constitution (First Amendment) Bill, which was enacted as the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951.  He worried about dilatory litigation stalling agrarian reforms, thereby affecting large numbers of people. He was, perhaps, impatient as is his wont. The crux of the matter was that of enabling the Parliament to amend the Constitution, by a clarificatory Article 19 (6). His reference to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by article 19(1)(a) was beside the point and that to the article 46 about the special care [educational and economic]  of the weaker sections of the people and protecting them from social injustice was mere rhetoric, in this context. One is reminded of Shakespeare’s

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Nehru was barking at the wrong tree.!
A dispassionate study of the implementation of the four cardinal recommendations of the the Congress Agrarian Reforms Committee under the Chairmanship of J C Kumarappa goes to show that the landlords adroitly used loopholes in the enacted law [not in the Constitution] to escape. Legal loopholes, indifferent implementation, political interference at State and Central levels enjoined with negligence of rules caused the turmoil. All this, when  Zamindari abolition was top agenda of Independent India!
Of the three land tenure systems in India on the eve of Independence (viz,. the zamindari system, ryotwari system, and mahalwari) the zamindari system covered 57 percent of cultivated land in British India. The zamindar’s estates ranged in size from a few acres to tens of thousands of acres. Layers and layers of intermediaries thrived by collecting more and remitting less -rackrenting. This caused distress to the poor, the creamy layers of unearned income contributing to the income inequality. The ryotwari system recognized individual cultivators (ryots or raiyats) as proprietors of their land with generally recognized rights to sell, lease, mortgage, and otherwise transfer their land. Nonetheless, informal intermediaries of the zamindari type emerged even in areas where the ryotwari (and mahalwari) systems had strongholds. While some raiyats were owner-cultivators, many rented out part or all of their land to tenants, mostly sharecroppers. It was usury in the extreme. Whatever the rationalizations dot the history books, the truth of the matter is that the erstwhile princelings were lent large sums of money by the colonial government, offsetting it by taking over land revenue collection thorugh agents. This is best illustrated by the folklore about the tension between Collector Jackson and Veera Pandia Kottabommen.

I am afraid that the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951and its bete noir Shankari Prasad vs Union of India (AIR 1951 SC 455) will have to wait for the next round.



Sunday, November 29, 2015




November 29, 2015

Intended neither as an exhaustive or authoritative or academic study,this  series is erected on the solid foundation of lifelong tracking of the events. It endeavors to guide the youth, particularly those competing for  the IAS etc., to grasp the the Rule of Law, as a concept and its complex operating system.

Machiavelli exhorted his Prince not to kidnap the defeated enemy’s wife and not to deprive him of his property, adding for good measure that murdering his father was in order! Such is the hold of property on one, instead of being the the other way about! It is legal to shoot a trespasser under U.S. Law, to this day; In the UK and in India, such extreme steps are illegal. 

Article 19 of our Constitution guaranteed, inter alia, to all citizens the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property.  Article 31 provided that "no person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law." It also provided that compensation would be paid to a person whose property has been taken for public purposes. This did not augur well for the socialist ambitions of the newborn Union of India. Zamindari abolition topped the agenda.

The passage of the Resolution on Article 19 by Sardar Patel on Friday, the 2nd May, 1947 calls for reflection by each and every one of us for many reasons. It instructs; its foresight is commendable; no differences with Nehru is manifest. And, then, Independence was still on its way. The ruling party’s agenda was mounted with vigor and consensus.

Clause 19.-Miscellaneous Rights. 
The Hon'ble Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (Bombay: General): I beg to move clause 19. 

The clause runs thus:
     "No property, movable or immovable, of any person or corporation including any interest in any commercial or industrial undertaking, shall be taken or acquired for public use unless the law provides for the payment of compensation for the property taken or acquired and specified the principles on which and the manner in which the compensation is to be determined."
     I do not expect any amendments to this motion, but if there are any, we shall consider them in time.”
(Amendments Nos. 86 and 87 were not moved.)

After much discussions, he replied to the discussions as under: 
The Hon'ble Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel: 
Sir, the discussion on this question has gone on a wrong track. An amendment was moved by somebody, which has been subsequently withdrawn, but those who took part in the debate assumed that this clause was intended for the purpose of acquiring Zamindaris. That is, to say the least, not understanding the real meaning of the clause. Land will be required for many public purposes, not only and but so many other things may have to be acquired And the State will acquire them after paying compensation and not expropriate them. That is the real meaning of the clause. But the Zamindars or some of their representatives thought that their interests must be safeguarded by moving an amendment or by making a speech here. But they are not going to safeguard these interests in this way. They must recognise the times and move with the times. This clause here will not become the law tomorrow or the day after; it will take at least a year more, and before that, most of the Zamindaris will be liquidated. Even under the present Acts or laws in the different provinces legislation is being brought in to liquidate Zamindaris either by paying just compensation or adequate compensation or whatever the legislatures there think fit. Therefore, it is wrong to think that this clause is Intended really for them. It is not so.The process of acquisition is already there and the legislatures are already taking steps to liquidate the Zamindaris. Therefore, we must not or need not go into the question whether the Zamindars have in the past been patriotic or a nuisance or anything of that kind. It is all irrelevant and we need not go into the past.”

Rather unhappy with the judicial interpretations that were not on all fours with the ambitions of the Executive, Prime Minister Jawahrlal Nehru moved the Constitution (First Amendment) Bill, 1951 on the 10th May, 1951. This was enacted as the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951,  The Statement of Objects And Reasons behind that Bill is as under:

“During the last fifteen months of the working of the Constitution, certain difficulties have been brought to light by judicial decisions and pronouncements specially in regard to the chapter on fundamental rights. The citizen's right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by article 19(1)(a) has been held by some courts to be so comprehensive as not to render a person culpable even if he advocates murder and other crimes of violence. In other countries with written constitutions, freedom of speech and of the press is not regarded as debarring the State from punishing or preventing abuse of this freedom. The citizen's right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business conferred by article 19(1)(g) is subject to reasonable restrictions which the laws of the State may impose "in the interests of general public". While the words cited are comprehensive enough to cover any scheme of nationalisation which the State may undertake, it is desirable to place the matter beyond doubt by a clarificatory addition to article 19(6). Another article in regard to which unanticipated difficulties have arisen is article 31. The validity of agrarian reform measures passed by the State Legislatures in the last three years has, in spite of the provisions of clauses (4) and (6) of article 31, formed the subject-matter of dilatory litigation, as a result of which the implementation of these
important measures, affecting large numbers of people, has been held up.

The main objects of this Bill are, accordingly to amend article 19 for the purposes indicated above and to insert provisions fully securing the constitutional validity of zamindari abolition laws in general and certain specified State Acts in particular. the opportunity has been taken to propose a few minor amendments to other articles in order to remove difficulties that may arise.
It is laid down in article 46 as a directive principle of State policy that the State should promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and protect them from social injustice. In order that any special provision that the State may make for the educational, economic or social advancement of any backward class of citizens may not be challenged on the ground of being discriminatory, it is proposed that article 15(3) should be suitably amplified. Certain amendments in respect of articles dealing with the convening and proroguing of the sessions of Parliament have been found necessary and are also incorporated in this Bill. So also a few minor amendments in respect of articles 341, 342, 372 and 376.”

The very first amendment stirred a hornets’ nest. It was shot down Shankari Prasad vs Union of India (AIR 1951 SC 455). Thereby hangs a tale!

Kesavananda Bharathi is the culmination of the first round of exploring the tweaking of our Constitution and was preceded by some interesting constitutional points that were first addressed in Shankari Prasad vs Union of India (AIR 1951 SC 455) and then by two other landmark judgements.