Saturday 27 February 2016


Clouds are fascinating things, which we pay no attention to, even when we fly in airplanes, and can observe them first hand. They play an absolutely vital role in our daily lives, but we tend to pay so little attention to them, in science studies. Poets, though, love them and cannot resist writing about them or using them as metaphors.

Cloud over Texas - from SFO to ATL

Cloud over the Arctic - Dubai to LAX

The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Madras organized a set of lectures at the Music Academy on February 14, 2016. There was an excellent turnout. The first lecture was about Clouds, by Dr Rama Govindarajan. Her actual title was "A Future in the Clouds." She is the first woman to get the Government of India's S. S. Bhatnagar award, the highest award for science! The following is my summary of her lecture.

--- Begin summary ---

Let us understand the value of green house gases Carbon dioxide, Methane and water vapor. Life on earth is possible ONLY because of green house gases. Oxygen and nitrogen, which together constitute nearly 99% of the atmosphere, do nothing for warming the planet or keeping it at optimal temperature for life. Without an atmosphere, the surface temperature of the earth would be -18 degrees Celsius. It would be as barren of life as the other planets in the solar system.

Sunlight and ultraviolet light from the sun are shortwave radiation coming into the atmosphere. When reflected, it becomes long wave outgoing radiation (heat, infrared). 

India gets high concentration of rain during four monsoon months - 85cm annual average. In contrast, Paris, France, for example, gets 6cm every month and this barely changes across 12 months. There is an On and Off pattern to the clouds moving over the Indian subcontinent. The monsoon, a special feature of Indian geography, has rain clouds going north bearing water. Kalidasa's epic poem Meghadootham and Sangam Literature in Tamil discuss this northern traversal of clouds. Tamilnadu is an outlier from most of India, because here the monsoon is mostly in October and November. The onset of the monsoon in India is preceded by scorching heat and parched earth, and the rains are greeted with great celebration.

Most clouds are white, highly reflective. Fifty to seventy percent of Earth is covered by clouds.  Low clouds and high clouds act very differently in terms of allowing reflecting or radiating heat. Low thick clouds act as a reflector, they keep the surface under them cool. High thin clouds are transparet, and act like a blanket they preserve the heat that they let in.

Weather is very chaotic (mathematically speaking) . Extreme events of weather are not as statistically rare as they would be on normal distributions. Industrial greenhouse gases have pushed weather towards more extreme events at higher temperature.

Life has adapted to climate change when change happens gradually. Biggest extinction event was 640 million years ago, when temperatures rose very fast and 75% of life perished. Now because of global warming (i.e., industrial pollution) which is really fast, life doesn't have time to adapt.

Scientist Roddam Narasimha has hypothesised a model of clouds. He has built clouds in his lab in Bangalore.

We don't understand why a cloud forms. We can't answer the most trivial questions about clouds. But we know they are very turbulent. Full of Eddies. Why do they go that high? We dont know. Clouds are obviously different from chimney smoke, which doesn't rise one km high.

-----End Summary----

These are from quick notes, so naturally not even an attempt to be comprehensive.

Gopu's comments

What struck me was the she had a hazy idea of biology, and of the history of Life. Sadly even most biologists may have limited understanding of history of life. She thinks there was one large extinction event 640 MYA (Million Years Ago). There have actually been five major extinction events in just the last 540MYA (and more before that). The biggest was the Permian extinction, which happened about 250 MYA. There are also Snowball earth events, that happened two billion years ago. Most biologists seem to ignore all geological events and even life before 540MYA!

I was struck by her remark that scientists don't know the most trivial things about clouds. The Climate Change alarmists tend to speak about Global Warming as uncontested indisputable Absolute Truth. 

It was a wonderful lecture, opening up a world of information on clouds, a topic rarely discussed.

1. Video of Dr Rama Govindarajan's Lecture

2. Botanical Gardens 
3. Floating among the clouds - How to numb your senses

Saturday 20 February 2016

இரண்டு லட்சம் கோடி டாலர் - கச்சா எண்ணையின் விலை சரிவு

செல்போன், இணையதளம், முகநூல் கடந்த இருபதாண்டின் புரட்சிகள்; பெரும் வளர்ச்சிகள். இதற்கு சமமாக, ஷேல் கச்சா எண்ணையால் ஒரு பெரும் வளர்ச்சி நிகழ்ந்துள்ளது. இதை விளக்கும் மேட் ரிட்லியின்கட்டுரையின் சில பகுதிகளின் மொழிபெயர்ப்பு இது.

----தமிழாக்கம் ஆரம்பம்---

கச்சா எண்ணையின் விலை அபாரமாக சரிந்துள்ளது. 2014-இல் ஒரு பீப்பாய்க்கு 115 டாலர் இருந்த கச்சா எண்ணை 2016 பிப்ரவரியில் பீப்பாய்க்கு 30 டாலருக்கு சரிந்துள்ளது. இது மிகவும் நல்ல செய்தி. எண்ணை நிறுவனங்களும் அரசுகளும் திவாலாகும் என்றும் பங்கு சந்தை சரியும் என்றும், பொருளியல் நிபுணர்கள் அச்சுறுத்துகிறார்கள். விலைவாசி வீழும், பெட்ரோல் பருகல் பெருகும், அரசியல் கலவரம் பொங்கும் என்றெல்லாம் ஆரூடம் சொல்கின்றனர். அவர்களெல்லாம் நுகர்வோரின் சார்பாக பேசாமல் எண்ணை தயாரிப்பாளரின் சார்பாக ஓலமிடுகின்றனர். எண்ணை பெருஞ்செல்வர்களுக்கும் சர்வாதிகாரிகளுக்கும் இது பிடிக்காமலிருக்கலாம். ஆனால் சமூகத்திற்கு இது மாபெரும் நன்மை. கச்சா எண்ணை விலை வீழ்ச்சியால் எண்ணை தயாரிப்பாளர்களிடமிருந்து நுகர்வோருக்கு இரண்டு ட்ரில்லியன் டாலர் ($ 2,000,000,000,000 = 140,000,000,000,000 ரூபாய்) கைமாறியுள்ளது.

(கோபுவின் குறிப்பு: இது ஆயிரத்து நானூற்று லட்சம் கோடி ரூபாய்க்கு சமம். ஒரு ட்ரில்லியன் டாலராக கணக்கிடப்படும், இந்தியாவின் ஒட்டுமொத்த பொருளாதாராம் இதில் பாதிதான் இருக்கும்)

இன்னாள் உலக சமூகத்தின் தவிர்க்கவியலாத சரக்கில் கச்சா எண்ணைக்கே முதலிடம். தினசரி செயல்களின் சக்திவேர். ஒரு வருடத்தில் உற்பத்தியாகும் நிலக்கரி, இரும்பு, கோதுமை, செம்பு, பருத்தி, இயற்கை வாயு ஆகியவற்றின் மொத்த விலைமதிப்பைவிட கச்சா எண்ணை ஒரு வருடத்து விலைமதிப்பு மிகையாம்!!!!! கச்சா எண்ணை இன்றி அனைத்து தொழில்களும் சரிந்து விழும் – விவசாயம் உட்பட. எண்ணை விலை குறைந்தால், துணிவிலை, உணவு விலை, போக்குவரத்து விலை எல்லாம் குறையும். இதனால் மிஞ்சும் செலவை நாம் மற்ற பொருட்கள் வாங்கலாம், அதனால் வேலை வாய்ப்புகள் வளரும்.

சரிந்த விலைக்கு தடுமாரும் உலக பொருளாதாரமும், (வடதிசை நாடுகளில்) மிதமான குளிர்காலமும் முக்கிய காரணங்கள். சில தயாரிப்பாளர்கள் திவாலாவார்கள். மீண்டும் எண்ணை விலை ஏறும். ஐக்கிய பிரித்தானிய ராஜ்ஜியத்திலிருந்து தனிநாடு கேட்ட ஸ்காட்லண்டு தேசியவாதிகளின் பொது நிதி திட்டங்கள் வீழ்ந்தன.

ஆனால் இதற்கு முக்கிய காரணம் ஷேல் புரட்சி. ”ஷேல் புரட்சியால் பொங்குவுள்ள எண்ணை கடலால் எண்ணை விலை சரியும். ஷேல் வாயு பழைய கதை. ஷேல் எண்ணை உலகை மாற்றும்.,” என்று 2013இல் நான் எழுதினேன். அப்பொழுது எண்ணை உற்பத்தி உச்சவரம்பைத் (peak oil) தொட்டுவிட்டதே பெரும்  “செய்தியாய்” இருந்தது.

டெக்ஸாஸ், வட டக்கோடா மாநிலங்களில் ஷேல் புரட்சியால் பெருகிய எண்ணையால், சவுதி அரபுதேசத்தையும் ருஷியாவையும் மிஞ்சிவிட்டது அமெரிக்கா. இது உலகின் மிக முக்கிய புதுமைகளில் ஒன்று. இப்புதுமைக்கு இது குழந்தை பருவமே, வளரந்து ஓங்க நல்ல எதிர்காலம் உள்ளதாக எண்ணையின் விலை என்ற நூலில் ஆஸ்திரேலிய பேராசிரியர் ராபெர்த்தோ அகுலேரா, ஸ்வீடன் பேராசரியர் மரியன் ரடெட்ஸ்கி விளக்குகின்றனர். ஆர்ஜண்டைனா, மெக்சிகோ, சீனா, ஆஸ்திரேலியாவிற்கு இந்த தொழில்நுட்பம் பரவுமாம். இதனால் எண்ணை விலை 2035 வரை தாழ்ந்தே இருக்குமாம். 40 முதல் 60 டாலருக்குள் நிலவுமாம். சர்வதேச எரிசக்தி கழகமும் அமெரிக்க அரசின் எரிசக்தித்துறையும் 2035இல் எண்ணைவிலை 130 டாலரை தொடும் என்பதை ஒப்பிட்டலாம்.

எண்ணை விலை இப்படி நிலையற்று மேலும் கீழும் ஊஞ்சலார்டுகிறது? ஓபெக் (எண்னை உற்பத்திக்கு நாடுகளின் சங்கம்) நிறுவனத்தின் எண்ணை கட்டுப்பாடு கொள்கை ஒரு காரணம், எண்ணை பற்றாகுறை மற்றொரு காரணம், என்று நான் நினைத்துவந்தேன். இந்நூல் பற்றாகுறையோ எண்ணைகிணறு வற்றுவதோ ஓபெக் நிர்மாணமோ எண்ணை விலையை பாதிப்பதில்லை என்கிறது.

1960கள் முதல் பல நாடுகளில் எண்ணை கம்பெனிகள் நாட்டுடைமையாகின. (அமெரிக்காவில் மட்டும் நாட்டுடைமையாகவில்லை).இன்று 90 சதவிகிதம் எண்ணை நாட்டுடைமையான கம்பெனிகளின் கையில் உள்ளது. சவுதி அரெபியா, வெனிசுவாலா, ஈரான், ஈராக், குவைத்து, அமீரகம், நைஜீரியா, ருஷியா ஆகிய நாடுகளின் தேசிய கம்பெனிகளோடு ஒப்பிட்டால் அவை திமிங்கலங்கள், எக்ஸான்மோபில், ப்ரிடிஷ் பெட்ரோலியம் போன்ற சர்வதேச தனியார் கம்பெனிகளெல்லாம், வாலமீனும் விலாங்குமீனும்தான்.

இதன் விளைவு – தேசிய கம்பெனிகளின் பணத்தை அரசியல்வாதிகள் சுரண்டுவதால் அவை தொழில்நுட்பங்களில் புத்தாய்வு செய்யவோ, வீணாக்கலை தவிர்த்து சீராக நிர்வகிக்கவோ எந்த ஊக்கமுமில்லை.

அரசியல்வாதிகள் குறுக்கிடவில்லையேல், இருபதாண்டுகளுக்கு மலிவான எண்ணை கிடைக்கும். பெட்ரோல் சர்வாதிகரிகளுக்கும், ஐசிஸ் தீவிரவாதிகளுக்கும், காற்றாலை, சூரிய சக்தி, அணுமின் சக்தி, மின்சார கார் தயாரிப்பாளருக்கும் கெட்ட காலம் தான். நுகர்வரோக்கு அது நல்ல செய்தியே.
----தமிழாக்கம் முற்றும்----

கோபுவின் பின்னுரை

செய்தி என்றால் என்ன? என்று தலைப்பிட்டு முன்பு ஆங்கிலத்தில் ஒரு கட்டுரை எழுதினேன். வக்லவ் ஸ்மில் சொன்ன தகவல் – 2011 முதல் 2013 மூன்றாண்டில் சீனாவின் சிமெண்ட் பயன்பாடு, 1900 முதல் 2000 வரை நூறாண்டில் அமெரிக்கா பயன்படுத்திய சிமெணடை விட அதிகம் என்பது அச்செய்தி. ஆனால், அரசியல் சர்ச்சையும், லஞ்சமும், ரகசிய காதலிகளும், நடிகர் எழுத்தாளர் பித்துக்குளித்தனங்களும் ஊடகங்களில் செய்தி. இதுவே நம் விருப்பம் போல. வணிகச்செய்திகளில் இவ்வித செய்திகள் அலசப்படுகின்றன. கிட்டத்தட்ட இரண்டு லட்சம் கோடி ஊழல் என்று பேசப்பட்ட ஸ்பெக்ட்ரம் (அலைவரிசை) விவகாரத்தை விட, இந்த அளவு பெரிது. செய்திகளில் பேச்சுமூச்சு காணவில்லை! வெங்காய விலையை விட மிக அடிப்படை கச்சா எண்ணை விலை. பாமரருக்கும் ஊடகங்களுக்கு பொருளாதாரத்தை பற்றிய அறியாமையை இது காட்டுகிறது.

3டி அச்சு இயந்திரத்தால் மற்றுமொரு இயந்திர புரட்சி நடக்குமா என்றும் ஒரு முறை எழுதினேன். நடக்கலாம், நடக்க பல ஆண்டுகளாகும். ஆனால் இதுவரை பெரிதாக ஒன்றுமில்லை. ஷேல் புரட்சி சாலப்பெரிது.

தேசிய கம்பெனிகள் பெருமளவில் எண்ணை வைத்திருக்கலாம். ஆனால் எக்சான்மோபில் போன்ற தனியார் கம்பெனிகள் அவர்களுக்கு சமமாக சம்பாதிக்கின்றன. இதை மேட் ரிட்லி கட்டுரையில் சொல்லவில்லை. 

இருபதாண்டு ஆருடமெல்லாம் சந்தேகத்துக்கு உரியதே. இருபதாண்டுக்கு முன்னால் நிபுணர்கள் சொன்ன ஆருடங்களை பார்க்கவும். 

தோற்று பின்வாங்கும் நோய்கள் நற்செய்தி கட்டுரை எழுதினேன். பறவைக்காய்ச்சலும் பன்றிக்காய்ச்சலும் டெங்குவும் சிக்கன்குனியாவும் பெற்ற விளம்பரம் மருத்துவ முன்னேற்றங்களுக்கும் கிடைப்பதில்லை. நற்செய்தி மேல் ஓர் அலட்சணம் ஏன்?

தொடர்புடைய கட்டுரைகள்

Big Oil's Bigger Brothers - Economist article

செய்தி புதுமை பற்றி என் வலைப்பதிவுகள்

பொருளாதாரம் பற்றி என் வலைப்பதிவுகள் 

முன்னேற்ற சூனாமி மேட் ரிட்லி கட்டுரை - தமிழாக்கம்
உலக பொருளாதார வரலாறு - ஆலன் பீட்டி நூல் விமர்சனம்

Monday 15 February 2016

Samrat Asoka - Book release

Speaker : Chidambaram

"Much of American English is stylistic error. Much of Indian English, especially pulp fiction is not even English," said P Chidambaram at the book release of Siddharthan's Samrat Asoka. It was organized by Madras Book Club, at the Binny room of Vivanta by Taj, formerly called Hotel Connemara, on 13 February 2016. Mr Madhu compered the program.

“Many of you may know I have become a publisher in the last six months. We undertake to sell new authors' first books. We commit to sell 2000 books but we can barely sell a few hundreds.

In a way Kindle has killed books. I have a grand daughter who is a book worm. She stopped buying books after she got a kindle. I've nothing against the kindle, it is a library you can carry along.

I know Tamil writers who have given up writing because they can't publish and sell. Latin and Sanskrit are virtually dead. And Tamil is faced with death. Schools and colleges don't buy books anymore.

I'm glad there is a book club but depressed it has only 350 members. Teach your children and grandchildren to read and love books.

We love listening to the Ramayana over and over even though we know how it ends and what episode comes next. I don't think in any other country, the same story is told so many million times as the Ramayanam and Mahabharatha, in so many languages. I have forgotten the Greek stories of Theseus and Perseus that I learnt in school.

Asoka's story is almost as well known. I congratulate author
Siddharthan for rewriting his four volume Tamil book into English.
Clearly he is influenced by Kalki and acknowledges it.”

Speaker : Ramnarayan

“Talking after Chidambaram is like batting after Tendulkar,” said V Ramnarayan, editor of Sruti magazine. “I had the pleasure of listening to Mr Gauthama Neelambaran analyse the Tamil version of Asokan at Tamil Puthaga Nanbargal. We visited Mr Siddharthan later, and he sang for us. What an allrounder!

We live in an era of intolerance for the other voice. I suppose intolerance has become a bad word now. Asoka was the king who signified great tolerance, after his change of heart of Kalinga war. I congratulate Rishikesh who edited and Maniam Selvan who did the cover art. 

He wrote a book called Vaishali about a trade union leader and a book about the period when Pallava rule ended and Chola role began. 

Technology is the enemy of good editing and proof reading. In Era Murugan’s book Arasur vamsam, the word Ayyan had been changed to Ayyar just before printing and we had to go through it all over again.

Our club membership is mostly geriatric but hopefully we can encourage our children to read.”

L-R: Siddharthan's wife, Ramnarayan, Chidambaram, Narasiah. Siddharthan

Speaker : Siddharthan

Author Siddharthan, said “I came here only to listen; what I want to say I've written in the book. 

Sivakamiyin Sabatham had released when I was young and I was first to read every episode in my club.

Historical writing is confined to a framework of history. Historians will jump on your mistakes. But the advantage is that the character can be different from the real person. The novel can suppress a historical character’s bad qualities and promote his virtues.

I wanted to avoid writing about kings. I met writer Sivapadasundaram who had traveled Buddhist sites like Gaya. I was inspired to write about Buddha (whose original name Siddhartha I have used as pseudonym). Constantine was the Asoka of Christianity. Asokan period of Indian history was an international period of Indian history, not national or regional. As Nehru said, he sent missions to other countries, not as a superpower but in peace.

Kalki wrote about greatness of Tamil, arousing Tamil nationalism the before Independence. He exhausted the national movement also with Alai Osai.
 So I had to find a different era to write about.

We have assimilated so many cultures that conquered our nation. My elder sister Rajam Krishnan is my guru. She would go to the territory of her novel and move with the people before her books. I adopted that method. Many incidents in my novel are set in Kashmir. Srinagar was founded by Asoka. He visited Burma too, which he called Swarnapuri.

I found Asoka the ideal hero for my book. I took five years to write the Tamil book two years to translate to English. I don't know if some one else could have translated as well so shortly though their English vocabulary may be better. 

Intolerance has always been there. But the majority of Indians are not intolerant. In every thing Buddha advices Madhyama maarga. Jains asked for fasting to clean up all sins. Buddha tried that but consuming Sujatha's offer of milk he chose a different path.. Middle way. Madhyama marga. This we have assimilated in our nation. Sober people will always be the majority and they will and have always chosen Madhyama marga

'Poorana jnanam pongiya naadu..Buddha piran puzhangiya naadu..' said Bharathi. 

There are all kinds of preachers emotional and extremist, but the middle way, best advocated by Buddha will prevail. Jai Hind," he finishes.

Speaker : Narasiah

KRA Narasiah  in his presidential address, said, “Fictionalisation of history and historisation of fiction are always competing. Kalki was perhaps more historical than Chaandilyan, but they both had lots of gray areas to deal with. To a sailor like me, who has travelled the oceans, Kadal Puraa is laughable, but others may enjoy it. But their books are still popular! Publishers tell me they are still best sellers at every book fair.

Siddharthan differs from them. He has taken Asoka, a difficult character. Who ruled 37 years, a quarter of the Mauryan era. Asoka's history is well recorded. We know Maurya history from the Nanda period well before Maurya era. Nanda hoarded treasure as he was greedy and Chanakya tried to distribute it to the people. In Kurnthokai, song 75 by Moosu Keeranar, a lady tells her friend, “If what you say about the hero is true, I will give you as much treasure as Nanda has.” In Agananooru song 265 by Mamoolanar also, the wealth of Pataliputra ruled by Nanda is mentioned. These songs may be 500 years after Nanda period. And in that period, history was recorded and preserved well and captured in literature.

Siddharthan did not have the freedom of Kalki and Chaandilyan, and he has kept sincerely to narration of Asoka. 

I knew Sivapadasundaram personally, friend of my uncle, the writer Chitti. The author has borrowed perhaps from Sivapadasundaram’s book Buddharin Adichuvattil. His Tamil is wonderful. He has written fairly well in English also. Very readable. As he said it was easy for him than any other translator, because he had to retell, not reconstruct.”

Speaker : Smt Siddharthan

Mrs Siddharthan, who gave the vote of thanks, said her husband has become tolerant and he forgave her when she made some mistake that nearly ruined a days work. She produly quoted VaVeSu, who quipped that the book will make any reader a better human being.


Mr Venu Sundar, son of author Chitti Sundararajan, introduced me to the author, after the event, and the latter invited me to visit!

Earlier, the pav bhaji was good, the brownies were better. At least one gentleman had his dinner and the next day’s breakfast too. Friends Muralikrishna, Bafna, Viswanathan, David Michaelangelo were also in attendance. 

Corrections (Feb 15, 2016)

1. I had wrongly listed Agananooru song as number 375, Mr Narasiah says it is 265, by the poet Mamoolanar.

2. I had written that "Kalingathu Barani also mentioned Asoka’s Kalinga war, a thousand years later." Mr Narasiah says that what he actually said was : "Continuity in reporting has been throughout, from Asoka's war to Chola's war" 

3. The right word is historisation not historification, Narasiah adds.

Related Links

5. நூல் அறிமுகம் - Guns, Germs and Steel

Friday 12 February 2016

The Sehwag Difference

In the last years of his career, Sachin Tendulkar tried to score his 100th century after a long dry spell. It was a long dry spell only by Tendulkar’s high standards – he had begun his third decade in international cricket. Very few of the greatest batsman have a career longer than 15 years. But nevertheless, the fact was unavoidable – Sachin was struggling to make his 100th century. And fans, even young adoring ones, started wondering loudly, whether he should retire.

That the man who scored more centuries than anyone else was struggling to score another, should have helped people realize how incredibly difficult it is to score a century. Sachin made a whole nation assume that a century was easy. Fans expected a century from Sachin, every time he batted.

A few years earlier, in 2003, there was a test match in Australia. The hosts batted first and scored 400 runs on the first day! A humongous score. Ricky Ponting scored a double century. Australia ended the first innings with 566. Going in to the dressing room, VVS Laxman said something memorable: “We need a double century from The Wall.”

The Wall, Rahul Dravid, delivered. He scored 233 after India lost four early wickets, and he put on a show with Australia’s thorn in the flesh, Very Very Special Laxman. In 2001, in Eden Gardens in Calcutta, VVS had scored the most memorable, most remarkable, most unforgettable double century by an Indian.

Laxman’s 281 surpassed what to me was the previous superhuman Test innings by an Indian – Sunil Gavaskar’s 221 at the London Oval, chasing an impossible fourth innings total of 436. As a kid, I watched that match at a friend’s house on black and white television.

In 2001 in Calcutta, in India’s second innings, Laxman was promoted to No. 3 from his usual No. 6 while Dravid was demoted from his usual No. 3 to No. 6 – because Laxman was the only one who batted well in the first innings. Australia had won sixteen Test matches in a row, this one was going to be another cakewalk – except Laxman had other ideas. So did Dravid. The two batted the whole of the fourth day, which was beyond the imagination of Australian cricket team, Australia, and pretty much all of India. “Batting as fine as I have ever seen,” Steve Waugh said about that partnership. Laxman scored 281, Dravid 180. History.

Now, back again in 2003, perhaps the Indian fans were expecting another double ton from Laxman. But, it was Laxman who said – “We need a double century from The Wall.” This, in a nutshell is Rahul Dravid. Of Sachin, the fan expects a century each time he bats. Of Dravid, even Laxman expects a double century in a crisis.

Shortly after this, in a remarkbale turn of history, India toured Pakistan. This was the friendliest tour India has ever had of Pakistan. Crowds were cheering one man. Not Sachin, not Dravid, not Laxman, not even the local boys Inzamam ul Haq or Shoaib Akthar. The crowds everywhere roared one word: “Balaji!” Over and over again, “Balaji, Balaji.” But that is a story for another day.

In Multan, someone finally surpassed Laxman’s 281. And Gavaskar’s 221 (and 236). And Sachin. And Vinoo Mankad. And even Rahul Dravid. Virender Sehwag score 309, scoring the fastest Indian double century on the first day, which he finished 228 not out. He reached his century with a breathtaking six. And the next day he showed no nerves, reaching the first Indian triple century with another six. I thought he might cross 365 the Sobers mark, but he fell at  309. India beat Pakistan by an innings, the most comprehensive victory on their soil. For most fans, his triple century was bigger and more historic than the victory over Pakistan!

In March 2008, South Africa toured India, and played the first test in Madras. One of my two great regrets in life, about sports, is not buying a ticket to see this match in person. The other is not staying up to watch the 1983 World Cup final…

South Africa played great scoring 540 runs in their first innings, well into the second day. I’m glad I didn’t buy a ticket for the first day. But boy am I sorry I didn’t try to buy a ticket for the third day. Because - Sehwag topped Multan, where he scored the fastest Indian double century, by scoring the fastest triple century - ever! By ANY batsman! Dravid who scored a wonderful hundred at the other end, was awed, as was anyone who saw that match. SA coach Mickey Arthur called it the best Test batting he’d ever seen. To open after a day and half fielding, in the Madras heat and humidity, and then to bat another day, at that destructive pace : that was just unbelievable!

Two triple centuries…Sehwag redefined Indian batting, opening batting, orthodoxy, expectations, calculations, statisticians, bowlers’ plans, selection criteria. Sehwag was not an ordinary threat in the way Sachin or Dravid or Laxman or Lara or Gilchrist was a threat. With any other cricketer, he could play his finest innings and his team could still lose. With Sehwag, he scored at such  a torrential pace, the opponent was at risk of losing until Sehwag got out. Ironically, this was one extremely rare occasion – his fastest biggest innings of 319 – where India ended up in a draw.

To me what defined Sehwag was his innings at Bombay against Sri Lanka in 2009. Sri Lanka scored 393 batting first, closing their innings in the first session of the second day. Sehwag hammered 284, India scored 443 in about five hours! India’s run rate was SEVEN runs an over. I remember the days of the electric Srikkanth and Sidhu batting in a one-day match and FIVE runs was considered a sizzling pace. People actually felt a little disappointed that he had not scored his 300 that day. When Murali took his wicket at 293, there was a grand sigh of disappointment. The disappointment was that Sehwag did not become the first person to score three triple centuries on that day.

But here is the Sehwag difference : Almost no one doubted that he would do it, pretty soon. It's a surprise that he never did. Triple centuries are insanely hard.

Sehwag made triple centuries look easy.


6. The Sehwag Paradox - S Dinakar's essay

Saturday 6 February 2016

A Timeline of Sanskrit literature

Color Key
Blue rectangle - Ruling dynasty
Green rectangle - Poet or author and composition
Red letters - name of book (kaavyam)
Black letter - poet's name
Blue letter - name of poet who was also the king then
Italics - BrhatKaavyam

This is a rough timeline of some medieval literature in Sanskrit - this was borne out of trying to understand if there are connections between literature and sculptural art, during our Tamil Heritage Trust's October 2015 to January 2016 preparatory meetings for our Site Seminar of Chalukya sites, Badami Aihole Pattadakal and Mahakuta, which we just finished in January 2016.

One interesting discussion was about LaghuKaavyam and BrhatKaavyam.

Bhaaravi's Kiraataarjuniyam, Maagha's Sishupaala Vadham which are roughly contemporary and the much later Naishada Charitam of Sriharsha are considered BrhatKaavyaas (Big epics). Kalidasa's Raghuvamsham and Kumarasambhavam complete the set of five great epics.

Other works are considered LaghuKaavyas (smaller stories). A beautiful poem in Sanskrit links these poets and their styles with Dandi, a poet in the Pallava kingdom, who composed Dasakumara Charitam and Avanti Sundari Katha.

उपमा कालिदासस्य  भारवेः अर्थगौरवम् ।
दण्डिनः पदलालित्यं माघे संति त्रयंक्वचित् ॥
upamaa kaalidaasasya bhaaravEH arthagauravam 
dandinaH padalaalityam maaGhE santi trayamkvacit 
For metaphor Kalidasa
Profound Meaning, Bharavi
For  Wordplay Dandi …
Maagha, for all three!
I think timelines help us visualize or order history better than text,
or even tables. I've seen some timelines in history books, but they
are quite detailed and over such a long time period, so they can be
hard to follow for the general public. I wish historians of politics
and culture used timelines to help us understand some of these
events better. From what I have seen, historians of science and
technology use timelines well - but they rarely relate to them to
political or cultural history.

Correction: May 2, 2019 I have moved Kalidasa, composer of Shakuntalam and Raghuvamsham, from the fifth century AD to first century BC, which I believe is his correct time period.

Related Links

1. Karnataka and Tamilnadu - Political timelines 
2. Gujarat and Tamilnadu - Political timelines 
3. Aihole Meguti inscription (Tamil essay) - Pulikesi, Bharavi and Kalidasa