Sunday, September 30, 2007

KTWV 08 Issue 34: Two faces of sport in India

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, the Mumbai Cathedralites Seventh Heaven Blog and the Delhi Stephanians Kooler Talk Blog.

Cathedral School Hockey side in 1959:
I am the goalkeeper!

I have always been a hockey player and enthusiast.

(My interest in hockey, especially to be a hockey goalkeeper started in 1952-53 when I was a 10 year old living in Bangalore. I used to live opposite the St, Joseph College Hostel and sports grounds.I had many friends studying in the college. One was a guy called Abe Tharakan. He was the hockey goalkeeper for the college. I used to watch the team train and watched all their games. Abe inspired me to take up the game and the position of goalkeeper after I moved to Bombay in 1954. Today, Abe and I are good friends and he runs a popular blog Song of the Waves - I repaid him by bringing him into the world of blogging at which he has become a real expert and writes beautifully!)

I played for the First XI of the school for two years. I played for St. Stephen's College, Delhi, till injury cut short my further prospects to play for the College, the University and higher. When I played for the College, I played alongside some of the future greats of Indian Hockey, with Arun Shourie as my Captain.

In London, I played for my college and then played in the trials for London University. Injury again kept me from progressing my hockey career.

Shrewsbury Town Hockey Team:
I am fourth from left.

Then when I started my professional career in Plastics at Shawbury Village near Shrewsbury Town, I played for the Town team regularly, first in my preferred spot in the goal and then as the centre half in the line up.

I loved to play hockey. Though I wanted to see good hockey, I never got to watch it on TV as it has never been a popular spectator sport to merit much TV time.

I love football equally, and though I played it at school, I never progressed much, as my love for hockey was over-powering. However, as it was on TV in England, I watched a lot of it and learnt much about strategy and the game from the hours spent in front of the box. The real highlight was watching such greats as the Portuguese wizard Eusebio and the Brazilian Pele along with the English household names of Bobby More and Charlton, with England winning the World Cup in 1966.

I used much of what I learnt of the sport from watching the best players on TV to help me manage youngsters getting into the sport. I became a master of strategy in a game that I hardly played, even though, if I had played, I would have progressed as far as I did in the sport of my choice.

I played many other sports as table tennis, badminton (right up to the age of 55). I was active in athletics. I enjoyed TV coverage, however limited of each of these sports. My last sporting exploits was when I skied for the first time in my life at the age of 57 and finished the 20 km course tearing every ligament in my body. And then at the same age I raised a crew of long boat rowers to row the 30+ kilometers from Muhos to Oulu.

I enjoyed my gym training doing as much as 2 hours of intensive gym work to ensure all my muscles were kept fit and also helping me to solve serious problems with my back and also avoiding operations on my knees.

Now at 65, I keep fit by walking whenever I can, sometimes as much as 20 km keeping my pulse rate at as high as possible for my age - 140 to 150 pulse beats per minute!

My interest in cricket was generated by the excellent radio commentary that I used to listen to when I was just 7 to 8 years old. England playing against Australia and the Commentary broadcast by Radio Australia and BBC were the starting point, later followed by following the fortunes of the Indian Cricket team with stars such as Mushtaq Ali, Vijay Merchant, Vijay Hazare, Ghulam Ahmed, Polly Umrigar, S.P. Gupte, Bapu Nadkarni. And we had some good Indian Commentators too, but some exasperating ones, as well.

I did not liked watching cricket on TV as the sponsors hogged so much of time that I hated sitting through the irritating ads. However, when the International Cavaliers played the Sunday afternoon 40 overs, with great names as Sobers, Lloyd and others showing their unbelievable poweress with bat and ball, as well their superb fielding, and with NO ads intervening, I really took to watching ad free cricket on TV.

What I could, however, not understand was the super star status given to the Indian Cricket players. Yes, they may have been good players, and Kapil Dev's team winning the World Cup certainly gave the players the boost.

But considering that the Indian Hockey side dominated the Olympic and World Hockey agenda for generations, I could never understand why they were never given the super star status of the cricketing counterparts. It was no wonder that Indian Hockey sunk into the toilet.

This year was no exception. The Indian Cricket team won the Twenty20 Cricket Tournament and the whole of India and the politicians have been all rolling over to be seen with the cricketers.

In the same period the Indian Hockey side won the Asian Hockey Tournament against major rivals, and it was difficult to even find this mentioned in the headline news.

The news that the State Bank of India was doing something to correct this by giving each hockey player in the winning side $ 12,500 for the world beating performance was news, but in comparison to what has been showered on the cricketers, the air coverage time, the print space given to each sport, it really makes my heart sink.

India can quickly produce the best hockey players of the calibre of Dyanchand if it wants. It can beat other world sides if the Indian side was given only walking sticks to play with. But when the sport and its players are treated so shoddily, can we ever expect the Indian Team to ever become the real world class they are capable of being!

On a final note. the commercialisation of sport where one has to pay money to hear a cricket commentary between two country sides, unlike the time when I was a small boy, will only destroy the sport in the long run.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

KTWV 08 Issue 33: Open letter to the Indian President

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, the Delhi Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog and the Mumbai Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog.

This just reached me. It is an is an open letter to the President of India submitted through the Governor of Karnataka. It is from Dr. Sajan George, who is the President of the Global Council of Indian Christians.

There are three major reasons that I am publishing this letter on my blogs.

First and foremost is that my grandfather held the post of First Member of the Privy Council of the Mysore Maharajah, a post given to a Christian by a Hindu who valued the individual and his capabilities rather than which ethnic minority the person hailed from.

My grandfather was a person from what is now known as Kerala and was not a Mysorean. But all through the State of Mysore, this Keralite and Christian was known as Mysore Matthan. Even 30 years after his death respect, when I was living in Maddur in Mandya District, was shown to me just because I was his grandson!

Many Matthan's have served the State, Mysore and Karnataka, selflessly and have yet practiced their faith without fear. After retirement they have considered Karnataka as their home. They are sons of the soil of Karnataka.

The second reason I am publishing this letter is that around the middle it draws attention to the controversial action by the Officiating Principal of my alma mater, St, Stephen's College, Delhi, about the admission policy that was introduced this year.

The third reason is that Prof. Ajeet Mathur, a fellow Cathedralite and Stephanian, was in Oulu a couple of weeks ago and gave an interesting talk. He holds the position of Director of the Institute of Applied Manpower Research of the Planning Commission of India. His Research Group is working on the 9% growth that is presently being seen in India and the rapid expansion of educational facilities to meet this need. 30 new Universities, 7 new Indian Institute of Technologies and many hundreds of thousands of educational institutions of every level requires a huge input of highly skilled and talented people of every level.

What message will such actions, as are described in the letter below, become knowledge of people who intend to come to work in India?

Here I am entertaining requests from many tens of Finns wanting to go and work in India and from Finnish companies wanting to find opportunities to establish their operations all over the Indian sub-continent.

What answer will I give them when they ask me about conditions prevailing in India for them to work safely in their jobs or to run their companies?

I shudder to think of the consequences to our National Policy if those who play for short term political gain are allowed to carry on regardless.

To Her Excellency The President of India,
Rashtrapathi Bhavan,
New Delhi

Through the Governor of Karnataka,
Raj Bhavan,

Your Excellency:

We offer our respectful greetings and humble salutations, on behalf of the Christians of India, especially those who have suffered greatly on account of their religious faith. In this regard, we submit the following for your kind and benevolent attention:

We are gravely concerned about the escalating violence being perpetrated against Christians in the state of Karnataka for the past 20 months, and we have evidence to clearly link the same to the change in the government at the state level. In other words, after the BJP came into the coalition, there has been a climate of impunity for any acts of violence that are committed in the name of Hindutva. To place the facts and relevant documentation on record, we herewith submit a detailed report on attacks against Christians in Karnataka between Jan 28th and July 29th 2007 wherein it is clear from the facts that unprovoked attacks by communal elements have occurred inside homes and the places of worship of Christians, as people are praying and worshipping within the privacy of their homes and churches. Later, the police are pressurized to file cases against the victims. The hardest blow to the victims however is the inaction and neglect of our just grievances by the law-and -order machinery and the State. In fact, the police officials in several cases have said that they have received orders from the Dy. Chief Minister and the local (usually BJP MLA)on how to act. Therefore, the widespread attitude (though not universal) is that of treating Christians as second class citizens. We have failed in numerous peaceful efforts to get justice, namely redressal of the violation of our Constitutional and Fundamental freedom of Religion and Conscience. We now approach your kind self in the hope that you who are well known for your secular outlook, will certainly take steps to ensure that justice and the right to constitutional remedies, hitherto denied to the majority of the Christian victims of persecution, will be made available to them in a speedy and time-bound manner.
The Christian Rights Rally in Bangalore held on 22nd June 07' was the largest gathering so far of victims of religious persecution by the communal forces in India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Gujarat to Orissa. Christians in Karnataka are observing Awareness Day on 22nd September 2007 to raise the awareness of the public against Christians in general and in Karnataka in particular and are converging on Bangalore to make their voice heard against the injustice meted out to them and share their experiences and agony and express solidarity with other victims of the extreme distress faced by the Christian community in India. They are joined by a number of persons from all walks of life, various Christian churches and groups including those from other faiths who came together to express solidarity and share their grief and sorrow.

Your Excellency, the Christian community - which continues to be a tiny 2.04% of this nation's population according to the 2001 Census data - has been at the forefront of service to the massive numbers of poor and needy in our country. Our patriotism and commitment to the nation has been tangibly expressed in the form of committed service to the deprived and disadvantaged sections of society in the fields of education, healthcare, and training in vocational services far in excess to our share in the population. A large section of the Christian community, including the cream of our young men and women have dedicated their lives to socially productive activities full-time. Even though they can easily choose to migrate to any country and enjoy a very good quality of life due to their qualifications, they choose to work in Indian running schools, hospitals, orphanages, leprosy rehabilitation centres, nursing schools, counselling centres, colleges which are known for their excellence, etc. Christians are among the largest groups intervening with people living with HIV/AIDS. They work among the poorest of the poor in remotest regions of the country, facing life-threats from the so-called "patriotic" Indians for their work, starting schools, spreading literacy and offering primary health care where state interventions are totally neglected or absent. Their inspiration is the life of Jesus Christ, known for spending his brief and youthful life on this earth in healing the sick, and reaching out to the disabled, the untouchables and the downtrodden those rejected by mainstream society, in preaching the "good news to the poor". His personal example continues to inspire people all over the world and down the ages to express their faith through service to fellow-human beings through a life dedicated to God's will.

Despite this track record of committed service to the Indian people, Christians are constantly referred to by their detractors as foreigners and as people having allegiance to forces outside the country. How long do we need to keep on proving our credentials as full citizens, peace-loving, law-abiding and committed to the advancement of the nation? When India was a nascent state, Christians showed their confidence in the Constitution and their trust in the mainstream by declining reservation in the seats in Parliament. This shows how well the Christian community consider themselves integrated into society. It is sad that the degeneration of the political climate has caused Christians in India to be isolated from the
mainstream by small, noisy, violent groups of communally divisive elements who attempt to damage the pluralism that has been the most abiding characteristic of Indian society for centuries, by bringing pressure on the police and the judicial system. These communal forces raise their voices and weapons against this tiny, dedicated, service-oriented and peace-loving community. They engineer increasingly violent and murderous attacks against not only the Christians themselves but also those whose hope for a better future is kindled by the compassionate service and love shown by these dedicated citizens of India: there are allegations that Christians "convert" those who they serve.

There are attempts to demonise the Christian community through allegations of force, fraud and inducement to convert - through offering services such as education or jobs. Laws aimed at "preventing conversion through force, fraud and inducement" have been passed in several states. But despite several decades of these laws existence, not a single case has ever been successfully prosecuted under these laws. What then is the reason for their existence except to serve as a threat to those who serve the poor? Some of the Christian service institutions in the country have been functioning for over a hundred years, but has the population in the surrounding areas converted enmasse? To the contrary, every year, 8 million students come out of the portals of Christian institutions. Can anyone prove that even 0.001 % of this group has "converted" as a result of indoctrination? Then what is the motivation for these false claims?

We assert that the real reason is that these vested interests and their children, community and class actually welcome and enjoy the services provided by the well-established and older Christian educational and health institutions located in cities and towns. But they do not want availability of these facilities to the poor and disadvantaged in rural and tribal areas. As long as some welfare and charity work is done there is no problem, but when hitherto voiceless and powerless sections of Indian society begin to get education and a socially empowered self-image there is a huge reaction. Witness the outcry against the management of St. Stephen's College, Delhi, for announcing reservations in seats to some of the disadvantaged sections of society, something well within their constitutional rights. The progress of the subaltern groups is not tolerated by those who have enjoyed the fruits of the economic, social and political marginalization of the subaltern groups in India. There is fear that if these groups, hitherto marginalised, become educated and aware, the access of the elites to power, their social and economic status will be eroded. Therefore, they mislead young and gullible sections from the subaltern groups to attack the defenceless Christians, while keeping themselves free of the taint of violence.

In the wake of the recent exposure of these manipulations a violence in the electronic media, who gave publicity to violence against Christian workers, these groups are attempting a damage control exercise. But the nation has now woken up to the grim reality of the extreme, brutal and widespread violence against the Christian community all over the country which has so far been successfully kept from the public by a mostly (though not entirely) complaisant media. Several Christian groups have attempted to highlight these attacks with very little response. However, we must mention that in some cases the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Minorities have responded positively and taken steps to ensure that the matters were enquired into. Justice delivery, however has been slow if not totally absent in most cases.

Also complicit in the "invisibilisation" of these outrages are some lower-level functionaries in the police and judiciary who have often abused their positions to harass and deny Christians their constitutional rights, and support the anti-social and unconstitutional excesses of the Sangh Parivar activists. Even cases of murder of Christian pastors and workers have not been investigated. Due to their own ideological learning towards the communalists most cases the police refuses to file an FIR or take up the matter with any enthusiasm. It goes without saying that these officials would not get away with these actions if it were not for the patronage of politicians allied with the BJP and Sangh organizations.

In view of the above facts, we therefore humbly request your Excellency

  1. to call for an independent investigation into the atrocities against the Christian minorities in India, and especially in Karnataka in the recent past, by a specially empowered group in a speedy and time-bound manner. GCIC pledges its support to such an enquiry.

  2. To enquire into the reason for the blatant discrimination by the State law-and-order machinery and the judiciary in the matter of incidents against Christians, and their support to the unconstitutional activities and antisocial behavior of persons against the Christians.

  3. In cases where undue delay in investigations are established, to fix responsibility at the appropriate level and take punitive administrative and criminal action against those responsible.

  4. Baseless reports against the Christians and Christian institutions in the vernacular media have fuelled hate crimes against the Christians in several states, notably Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.

  5. Specifically, we want to bring to your notice that there has been a rape of an 8-year old girl, a daughter of an impoverished Dalit worker in Bidar for her religious identity. F.I.R 100/07 in Nenyara Police station Bidar District, Karnataka state, has been registered and we have brought the matter to the notice of the National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Women.

  6. Finally, Your Excellency, we humbly call upon your kind self to exercise your Constitutional Authority and repeal the 1950 Presidential Ordinance which has denied the Constitutional Rights of Christians of Dalit Descent.

    Through this one action, you will create history by righting the historical wrongs against a deprived and oppressed section of Indian Society and earn the immense gratitude of millions.

We remain,

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Sajan George, President, Global Council Of Indian Christians

Let us be clear, it is not the common folk of Karnataka who are following this route, but, as usual, those who are lobbying for power.

I am grateful to John Dayal for drawing my attention to this letter and the issues that it highlights.

Friday, September 14, 2007

KTWV 08 Issue 32: Ignore or reply?

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, the Mumbai Cathedral School Seventh Heaven Blog and the Delhi Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog.

Although the bulk of this posting relates to my alma mater, St. Stephen's College, Delhi, the moral and rationale that I talk about here applies to all my alma maters and also to my many readers on my primary blog.

It has been quite a while since the exchange of views on the Kooler Talk Blog about the appointment of Rev. Valson Thambu as Acting Principal of St. Stephen's College and then his radical new Dalit Christian oriented admission policy to the College.

I was greatly honoured when John Dayal, Member of the National Integration Council, Secretary General of the All India Christian Council and President of the All India
Catholic Union, asked me to contribute to a book which would consider the aspect of admission of Dalit Christians to minority educational institutions.

Then came those couple of Anonymous postings in the Comments section of the Kooler Talk Blog which accused me of being a fundamentalist Christian.

That made me sit back for more than a moment and search through my 11 years of writing on the internet to see whether I had ever given cause to be considered as a fundamentalist Christian.

There was a time when I took part in a fundamentalist Hindu web discussion site where I came out strongly against Hindu Fundamentalism and Muslim extremism in the wake of the Gujarat massacre. It left a very bad taste in me to get into a discussion with a set of rabid and illiterate Hindu fundamentalists located all over the world who were foaming at the mouth when challenged about their fundamentalism.

Then there was a time when, thanks to Stephanian Prof. Sreenath Sreenivasan, Professor of Journalism at Columbia university, New York,I was looking in on the South Asian Journalists (SAJA) Discussion Forum where, again, a few well-educated Hindu Fundamentalist "journalists" were putting forward all sorts of arguments to prove "their" theories of the Indus Valley Civilisation to demonise other religious groups in India.

There was no limit to the twisting of the truth, very much as George Bush continues to use his "Christian Fundamentalist" values to kill innocent Afghanis and Iraqis to achieve his ends.

As a result I had decided not to be drawn again into such arguments as they only leave me with wanting to use a new mouthwash!

When I decided to wish Rev. Thambu well on his appointment as the Officiating Principal of St. Stephen's College, I had no idea that I was being drawn into a major controversy which is raging there.

I am 7000 km away from India. I have not visited India since the year 2000. I am not an expert on anything Indian. I have only my nostalgia of a time long gone by and that does not make me competent to even write a line in support or defense of policies of education, religious fundamentalism or any other matter related to what is taking place in India.

After much deliberation with my friends and my main confidante, I felt that I would only be adding fuel to the fire if I wrote about the controversies. After 8 weeks of much thought and prayer, my wife and I decided that we should not be embroiled in a battle of which we knew nothing about.

We have a reputation, which has been stated by many of our regular readers, that we have never done anything or written anything which violated the trust of all the different religious and ethnic groups that read our many blog pages.

When I went through the Indian Press Reports that I get daily, yesterday there was this one in the Times of India "Exclusive quota for backward Christians and Muslims in Tamil Nadu". This is for the second time that DMK Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has sought to provide exclusive reservation for specific castes in the backward classes catagory. In 1989, he had carved out 20 per cent of the 50 per cent reservation for Backward Classes for the Most Backward classes.

This has been Karunanidhi's vote gathering politics.

Rev. Valson Thambu's strategy was to divert the attention from his controversial appointment to a more amenable to improver his public ratings. In that he succeeded admirably by focusing on the concept of social justice.

To continue to stay away from the personal glare, yet another step was undertaken to undo anything controversial that previous Collge Principal had done. Rev. Thambu took steps to end the open ended permission that Principal Anil Wilson had given to the Centre for Mathematical Sciences (CMS), run by the Mathematical Sciences Foundation (MSF), by asking them to move out of the Stephania campus, causing a section of senior teachers at the college to protest.

What is happening in Stephania today is not based on the ideals that I imbibed in the educational institutions that I attended in India.

Principal Anil Wilson was obviously wrong to have made such an agreement with the MSF. The Bishop of North India was wrong to appoint his son onto the Supreme Council of the College. Principal Wilson was wrong to have continued to hold his position as Principal when he went forward as Vice Chancellor of another University. The Supreme Council was wrong to appoint Rev. Thambu as Officiating Principal when they had not resolved the issue with Principal Wilson. Principal Wilson was wrong to publicise his dissent. Rev. Thambu was wrong to start his tenure with moves meant to divert attention away from his appointment. Principal Thambu was wrong to cause the still waters of campus life to be stirred so violently.

And, all this is being done in the name of "education" and "Christ".

To me none of this stands up as promoting "Christian values".

I know there are many senior and outstandingly intellectual and honest alumni, before and of my era, in and around Delhi like B. G. Verghese, Rahul Bajaj, Ashok Jaitly, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Mani Shankar Ayar, Shanker Menon, John Dayal, etc., who have the depth of vision to tackle these issues rather than someone as uneducated as me who is so far away from home base to contribute anything worthwhile to resolving them.

All I can do is to tell my audience of all alma maters that what is happening in St. Stephen's College will happen in all minority institutions when internal and personal politics supersedes the values which we should adhere to.

I do not appreciate anonymous input. One should have the courage of convictions to put a name and identity to what one believes. Have the courage to call a spade a spade. As otherwise the spade is being called a bucket to hold the nightsoil!

Do I approve of the actions of the Bishop of North India, his son, former Principal Anil Wilson, or present Acting Principal Rav. Valson Thambu in what is happening in the college?

The answer, from this distance is - NO.

That is because it is not in keeping with the values which were imbibed by me from all my Indian alma maters - Good Shepherd Convent, Mysore, Bishop Cotton School, Bangalore, Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai and St. Stephen's College, Delhi.

These values have nothing to do with any religion. It has to do with Fair Play.

I request the alumni in all these institutions who are nearer to the home bases to get actively involved in the institutions that they love to ensure that what is happening in St. Stephen's College is not repeated elsewhere.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

KTWV 08 Issue 31: 100% attendance at Finnish Chapter Reunion

Posted on Delhi Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog, Mumbai Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog and my Jacob's Blog.

On Thursday afternoon I had a call from fellow Cathedralite and Stephanian, Professor Ajeet Mathur that he was on his way to Oulu to address a conference here. I decided to call a reunion meeting of both our alma maters, Delhi Stephanians and Mumbai Cathedralites.

Ajeet and spouse, Sari.

Ajeet's better half arrived on Friday afternoon, so Friday evening was reunion time with spouses at my residence. I am glad to report that yet again we had 100% attendance with both spouses present!

Ajeet is now the Project Director of the Finland - India Economic Relations Project being executed at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. He is also the Director of the Institute of Applied Manpower Research, which is part of the Planning Commission of India (working on the 11th 5 Year Plan), which is headed by Stephanian 63er (like me) Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Quite surprised to see that Ajeet is now an Indian bureaucrat!

Ajeet gave a very interesting talk at the conference in Oulu "Promoting mutual cooperation, economic and social development". Ajeet's topic was "On why unemployed are unemployable and what Finland can do about it".

A few years ago I would have been very excited about such a topic, but retirement has caught up with me and it is a topic for others, especially the younger expats in Oulu and Finland, many of whom have stayed jobless (for no fault of theirs) for many a year. Did Ajeet's talk offer any solutions - yes, migrate to India which requires an enormous influx of trained cadre in every field!

One particular slide was of great interest to the entire audience. It has stuck in my mind. It was a picture of a monkey cleaning utensils at a roadside truck dabha somewhere in India. Ajeet pointed out that the wages given to the monkey for his work was 2 bananas a day.

Not even the lowest of lowest in India can afford to compete with the work of this monkey.

Ajeet added that one of the largest exports from India to the US was Monkeys where they are being researched to see what human tasks can be handed over to monkeys such as repetitive keyboard entry, etc.

Great reunion - going way past midnight!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

KTWV o8 Issue 30: Coincidence at Oulu Airport!

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, the Oulu Chaff Blog, the Mumbai Cathedral School Seventh Heaven Blog and the Delhi Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog.

Yesterday was Annikki's birthday. I had offered to take her to any restaurant of her choice in Oulu. We have an offering of several cuisines here: Algerian, Chinese, English, Finnish, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Moroccan, Thai, Turkish, Russian, US, Vietnamese, ...

But Annikki had other plans.

We started on a shopping expedition where she first went to he favourite Flea market and did some expensive shopping - maybe a couple of Euro!

Then we went to some small shops where she bought stuff for the house. Her next stops were two shops that were also celebrating their birthdays. We got free coffee/tea and cake for just visiting them.

Just then I had a call from Prof. Ajeet Mathur, a Cathedralite and Stephanian, like me, and also resident in south Finland. Ajeet said that he was on his way to Oulu and his plane should land around 6 pm. I told him I would pick him up from the airport.

Annikki told me rush back from the airport as her plan was to buy a pizza and go and sit on the beach and enjoy the sea breeze and the glorious sunset. She wanted a large open air restaurant and not be cooped up in a tiny one with no view in town!

I reached the airport at exactly 6 pm. There were a load of people coming off a plane. I noticed what looked like a foreigner waiting with a small placard identifying a conference, which I knew would be the one Ajeet would be headed for. I also noted a cameraman waiting to get a film of the arrival of Ajeet. Obviously, Ajeet was to be a distinguished speaker at the conference.

I positioned myself next to these two gentleman, who obviously had come for the same purpose - to receive Ajeet. I heard them conversing.

One said to the other that he was from Australia.

Always ready to break the ice, I asked him whether he knew our popular Australian CHAFF participant, Benjamin Hayes. The answer was in the negative, but with the formalities done away with, we struck up a conversation. He asked me where I came from. When I said Bangalore, India. Out of the blue, he said his parents were from Bangalore, India and they had left India at the time of Independence in 1947.

Then came a second shock as he said that his dad was from Bishop Cotton School, one of my alma maters.

I asked Alen his surname. Then came the even bigger surprise. His surname is Pembshaw.

Alen's dad used to come to Bangalore in the 70's very regularly. He would head straight to my dad's office as my dad was, at the time, the Chairperson of the Bishop Cotton Boys School Old Boys Association. My dad had passed out of school in 1926. Alen's dad was much junior to him.

I had met Alen's dad several times, as my office used to be in the same buolding!

As we were looking at the coincidence, the cameraman, whom I do not recall ever seeing in my life, turned to me and said that he knew my daughter, Joanna and also my wife. Apparently they go to the same church and his wife, a doctor, is a good friend of my daughter.

That was a string of coincidences which seemed outrageous to me!

Later, Annikki briefed me that Seppo Ahava is the husband of Maria, who is a doctor now and whom she has seen as a small girl in the church.

Ajeet arrived. As I am camera shy, I made myself scarce.

Usually Ajeet stays with me, but as the City of Oulu had organised this programme, he had been booked into a hotel. I took Ajeet to his hotel and organised that he spend the evening usefully.

I rushed home, picked up Annikki, picked up a pizza from a friends's pizzeria and headed to the beach. The sun was just setting and darkness was falling fast, but the glorious colours could still be seen.

It was extremely windy, so we sat in a shaded place and enjoyted our pizza.

There was no one around when we reached, as it was still drizzling, but before we finished our pizza, some kids and then some elderly people could be seen walking on the windy shores.

Before darkness finally set, we set off back for home, not accomplishing one part of Annikki's mission, to look for more stones to take home!

Coincidences and a windy pizza dinner on the beach were the mark of Annikki's birthday for this year. (Of course, there was cake when we got back home!)

Monday, September 03, 2007

KTWV 08 Issue 29: Philosophy behind my multiple entry blogging

Posted on Jacob's Blog, the Oulu Best Buy Blog, the Oulu CHAFF Blog, the Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog, the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog, the Jacob's Politics Blog, the Move the UN Blog, and the Talk Show Ratings Blog.

Many diverse groups of people with multiple interests are reading my blogs.

Some of you are reading more than one of my blogs.

It is very annoying to see the same posting on more than one blog.

I apologise.

I have, therefore, to introduce a strategy till such time as I can get all or most of my 120 000+ readers to install a policy of being updated whenever there is a new blog entry on the blogs of their specific interest.

If they do this registration, then I need only post any entry to a single blog. The blog info service should inform you if that particular blog has been updated.

If you subscribe to getting this info for three blogs, then I need not post an entry to all three blogs!

Till the recording service is fully operational, at the top of each entry I will include a list of the other blogs that the entry will be found.

For instance, this entry will be found on ALL my blogs.

If any of you have a better solution, I am all ears.

Remember, I am a computer idiot and know nothing about the art of designing things for the computer. :-) That's because I use a Mac!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

KTWV 08 Issue 28: Thanks Mr. Anonymous. I am back with more gusto...

Posted on the Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog, the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog and my Jacob's Blog.

I am listening on the internet to the audio commentary from BBC of the fourth one day international being played at Leeds between England and India, where India is trying to cut the lead in the one day series.

Also, yesterday here in Oulu we lost our television reception at home. Finland went over to Digital Television. I have not installed a Digi Box. We have a satellite antenna with access to two satellites. However, as soon as the green leaves appear on the trees in late April, they mask out the reception. Autumn is a bit late, but in another few weeks all the leaves on the trees would have fallen. We can get our satellite reception back again. I can then think whether to invest in a Digi Box by next April.

I am so happy at the emails that I received welcoming me back to the world of blogging. Here is a small cross section of the mail I received:

From Mumbai, India:
Dear Jacob,

26th June to 31st August was a very long sabbatical Never mind, it's good to have you up and about. You were missed!

Looking forward to a normal, hyperactive Jacob's Blog!

The only "fanatical" or "fundamentalist" attribute, you can be accused of, to my mind, is your fierce loyalty to the educational institutions that you studied in and your fellow students, young and old.

Of course, I will not list your other attributes lest you should get a swollen head!

Carry on carrying on!


From Mysore, India
Dear Jacob,

With joy I observed that you were back to providing entries in your Seventh Heaven blog, after a long hiatus.

I was then deeply shocked to read of the calumnious references made to Annikki and you, to which you refer.

Be assured that at no time have I perceived the least religious bias in any of your writings or responses;  I doubt these could possibly occur, given the wonderful truly secular attitudes bred into us by the educational institutions in India which we were fortunate to attend.  I pray you will retain strength to defeat your detractors.

An earlier entry mentions that Viney Sethi was at Loughborough in the 1960s.  I read Chemical Engineering there from 1954 to 58, so the association pleased me.  If it so pleases Viney, I would be happy to hear from him.


From Toronto, Canada
Hi Jacob,

Just a short note to let you know that I am really pleased that you are back blogging!

It's a real pleasure to read your 'ramblings'. Pity about your camera breaking down whilst Viney was with you, but .......

Take care, and all the best to you, Annikki and the family.

From Milan, Italy:
Dear Jacob,

Welcome back to your internet heaven!

It felt rather eerie without your entries these past two months!



From Perth, Australia
Dear Sushil,

We have known you now for close to 40 years. Never have we once known you to be either a religious fanatic or an anarchist or hippie.

I wonder how anyone who knows Annikki and you could ever make any of these accusations.

Vera and I missed your blog entries, but we prayed for you and now we are happily settling back to our routine of checking your blogs.

Please do update the Maliyakal and Kandathil web pages also as many of us out here like to see what is happening with our many relatives around the world.

From Rio de Janerio, Brazil
Dear Mr. Matthan,

I was so glad to see your blog active again.

I have subscribed to a service which tells me when you update your pages. I was wondering whether the service had gone bust. It forced me to visit the pages, to see only the old posts, to my disappointment.

Having been reading your work online for close to 10 years, I cannot see how anyone could ever accuse you of being a religious fundamentalist.

And seeing the 40 year relationship you have with your wonderful wife depicted in your tribute to her, it is impossible to understand anyone accusing you or Annikki being anarchists or hippies.

Please do not take such words seriously, as all those who know you, either personally, or like me through your writings, know that these are just idle thoughts of thoughtless persons.

Dr. Samuel Pires

Thank you all for your concern and well wishes.

Annikki and I are strong enough to defend ourselves when people start any baseless onslaught on us. And dear Ubi, I already have an enormous swollen head that it could be used as a basketball. No need to cause it to swell any more!:-)

Yesterday I attended a Thai Festival in Oulu (had a taste of some really spicy papaya salad). I met a whole new lot of new Indians, as well as Sri Lankans, now here in Oulu. Engineers, software specialists, almost all of them.

And by today I find I have half a dozen committed readers of these blogs! Here was an email from a young Maharashtrian from Mumbai, India:
Dear Jacob Sir,

As you had suggested during our conversation at the Oulu Thai festival today, I read your blog.

It is really good and honestly it makes me proud to see an fellow Indian already done and doing so well far away from our motherland.

I also read your web page dedicated to your wife Annikki. It was really sweet.

I especially liked the pictures of the Indian evening. It would have been great fun doing those bollywood numbers. :-)

I would certainly like to be part of this unique community Findians.

Thanks n Regards,
Sagar Shinde,

Welcome Sagar, not only to the City of Oulu but also to the Findian Community which spans every continent. The very fact that you are an Indian in Finland makes you part of that Findian Community of which Annikki and are the proud parents!

Yes, it has been good to get back to blogging. I think the advice from the Anonymous Commenter for me to get a life was certainly good as it allowed me to focus on what is going on around me and to come back to blogging with some gusto.

I will have to get a new camera as the old one held together by grey silicone sticky tape is just to difficult to use. Joanna has sent me hers from England, so at least you will soon be able to see some pictures.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

KTWV 08 Issue 27: Religious Fundamentalist of Anarchist Hippie?

Posted on the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog, the Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog and my main Jacob's Blog.

One of the reasons that I took time off from blogging was that an Anonymous Commenter on the Kooler Talk Blog said that I had no life of my own and that was why I was running so many blogs!

So I took time off, causing deep concern amongst many of you about my health and well-being!

Those of you have been reading the Comments on the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog would have seen some Anonymous Comments alleging that I am a Christian Religious Fundamentalist.

On the other hand, on a popular Christian TV Channel, another strange allegation about Annikki and me surfaced. Millions of viewers heard that we had been "anarchist hippies"!

Well, well, well - what a contradictory couple of allegations and turn of events.

In response to the Anonymous Commenter, I protested that I do not belong to ANY religious faction and never have. I have not subscribed, contributed or financially supported any religious movement.

The only monthly contribution that Annikki and I make regularly is € 20 to Amnesty International.

JudgementCover.jpg Book Cover image by jmatthan

Cover of book by Annikki
published in 1994.

Annikki does belong to a Christian movement and her conversion to that faith to the extent of being baptised at the age of 40 can be found in the pages of her best-selling book "for the hour of his judgement is come:...."

In response to the "anarchist hippie" comment, we sent the tv station this comment. This allegation has been described to me by some people as saying Annikki and I are "hip" people in today's context - more a form of tribute!

Sadly, Annikki and I are not "hip" enough to understand this modern day lingo!

Given below is my email to the tv station:

Credibility of the Hope Channel!

Annikki and I listened to the interview of .................

We were quite horrified to hear the two of us described as "anarchist hippies".

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Annikki has been a dedicated Adventist from her childhood days, following in her father's footsteps. But she was only baptised as late as 1984 (when she was 40 years old) when she went through marvellous experience which is described in her book "for the hour of his judgement is come;..." (You can read this book on the internet at!)

Annikki is a creative and highly talented artist and author, a Montessori Educationalist, a trained hospital helper (having worked even at Adventist Hultafors Institution in Sweden in the early 1960s and also in the Marie Curie Hospice in London) and has worked in Sweden, England, Germany and Finland.

There is hardly another private expert on Ellen G. White and her writings than Annikki, having read and understood all her books in two languages!

She has never been part of any anarchist or hippie movement.

Jacob sang in the St. Thomas Cathedral Church Choir in Bombay all through his childhood in Bombay. He was outstanding student, both in studies and sports, in his school days being House Captain! He was part of the International Youth Christian Movement during his days in Delhi University, even holding the elected position of President of College Residents!

Jacob completed his second higher degree in England after his first degree from Delhi University. The day he completed his second degree he was employed by a Government Research Centre in England - in Shawbury.

It is only after Jacob completed his second degree and got a job that he and Annikki entered into the serious commitment of a Christian marriage, over 40 years ago!

We have always been law abiding responsible citizens and have given our life to give our children the very best in terms of education. Maybe you should look at these two web pages

A Tribute to Annikki:
Biodata of Jacob Matthan:

Our daughters were never sent to any boarding school in England or anywhere else. Like Jacob, who left for higher education at the age of 17, our elder daughter also proceeded to her further education away from home at the same age!

Our elder daughter (and our elder son) was able to settle in England only because we were responsible parents and preserved her birthright even when we were living in India!

Hardly what an anarchist hippie couple would do!

In later life we have devoted our life to helping various ethnic minorities and refugees. Even today, in our retirement, we look after an 87 year old dementia, tunnel vision impaired, physically weak lady, Annikki’s mother!

Hardly anarchists or hippies, then or now!

In the interests of accuracy, it would be only fair if the Hope Channel would correct this serious misconception, which borders on libel, which came through in your programme.

Annikki & Jacob Matthan
Oulu, Finland

The question arises as to my Christian roots.

Yes, I was born a Christian into a mixed very traditional Orthodox Christian/modern Protestant roots family and was brought up and educated by wonderful Christian Educational Institutions in India. Good Shepherd Convent in Mysore, Bishop Cotton School in Bangalore, Cathedral and John Connon School in Bombay and St. Stephen's College in Delhi.

I greatly valued the principles that were taught to me in these educational institutions which gave me strength to say that I was probably "educated" and not just a person who knew how to crunch numbers.

Yes, I was active in the Church Choir while at school.
Yes, like School Prefects of all faiths, I did read the Bible at the School Assembly.
Yes, I did read the Bible at the small College Chapel.
Yes; i was involved with the International Christian Youth Movement while in College. (We distributed food to poor villagers around  Delhi.)
Yes, I was part of the movement to start the non-denominational Christian prayer group in Oulu called as the International Church of Oulu.
Yes, I was even married in a Christian Church in the lovely town of Shrewsbury in England.

My break with the established church took place soon after our eldest daughter was born, when the vicar of the local church turned up at our home a few days after she was born to tell us that we should "christen" her quickly as otherwise, if she died, she would not be buried in a Christian graveyard.

What he said was hardly a Christian value that I had held so dear. It was, to me, emotional blackmail.

Annikki believed in a Church that did not support "child baptism". In her words one had to personally mature before one committed oneself to a religious institution, and as mentioned earlier, she found that strength only when she was almost 40 years old.

That experience ended my relationship with the established church, but not with religion or religious institutions of all shades.

My roots of education which I received from the schools and colleges that I attended were totally secular. There had never been any form of discrimination against any individual in any of these institutions. And my own classes both in school and college had people of many faiths in it - all brands of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, as well as people of all different colours from a variety of nations.

I will tackle the reason for the charge against me for appearing to be a Christian Fundamentalist in a separate blog entry as I am in the process of creating  a background document about education in India. It should be tackled in that context and not outside of it.

To date, I have not had any return comment from the Anonymous Commenter on my blog or from the tv Channel.

But I think Annikki and I got what we had to say off our chests!

Do tell us whether you think we come to any of you as being "religious fundamentalists" or "anarchist hippies"! Maybe, appearing at both ends of the spectrum sort of says that what we practice is just about right?