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    Records show that it was Sullivan who had laid the groundwork for establishing Ooty

    Records show that it was Sullivan who had laid the groundwork for establishing Ooty

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    HIGHLIGHTS

    • The Nilgiri Mountains was in possession of the British since 1800
    • Collector John Sullivan had laid the groundwork for establishing Ooty

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    About 190 monsoons ago, the Board of Control of East India Company, on the recommendation of governor Sir Thomas Munro, gave its stamp of approval to establish a hill station on the Nilgiris primarily to revitalise sick soldiers. And what is known today as the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ was established on July 6, 1827.

    “The Nilgiri Mountains was in possession of the British since 1800. It was only after collector John Sullivan’s visit to the hills in 1819 that the idea of developing a station on the hills for the sake of sick soldiers came about,” says Venugopal Dharmalingam, director, Nilgiri Documentation Centre (NDC), a trust recording the history of the Nilgiris.A factor that greatly helped this idea was the appointment of Sir Thomas Munro as governor of Madras Presidency . “To learn the tragic irony that Munro met his untimely death on the very day, July 6, 1827, at Pattikonda in Andhra Pradesh, is saddening,” says Dharmalingam.

    Records show that it was Sullivan who had laid the groundwork for establishing Ooty. He had made repeated requests to the Madras government from 1820 to set up a hospital in the hills. To convince his superiors, Sullivan created a sense of the English countryside  by building colonial-style bungalows, well planned roads, introduced English vegetables, trees and fruits. Till that time sick soldiers and officials had to go to England or Mauritius or Cape Town for rest and recuperation.

    “It is interesting to learn that the Board in London could not believe that so near to the Coimbatore was a cold and salubrious place which was the dream of every British suffering in the hot, disease-ridden plains,” says Venugopal, adding it was only in 1826, the recommendation came through when Munro visited Nilgiris and saw for himself what Sullivan had been exalting about.

    Munro sent his recommendation in May 1827 to the board stating that though the Nilgiris may not be suitable for setting up a hospital, but officers of the civil and military services could visit the hills on their own for recovery. “To reinforce his proposal, Munro argued that a sum of Rs 170 lakh had been spent in the previous three years to send sick officers to England.”

    Stating further the healthfulness of the Nilgiris had not been correctly assessed by the young medical officers, Munro’s recommendations thus go, “It seems therefore advisable that we should station permanently on the Hills a Medical Officer qualified to make the necessary observations on the climate”.

    Thus was born the hill station, to heal the sick British soldiers, and which till date has remained one of the most popular retreats for tired souls.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Chennai News / by Shantha Thiagarajan / TNN / July 13th, 2017

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    He cracked the Rajiv assassination case; helped identify bomber Dhanu

    Renowned forensic expert, Pakkiriswamy Chandra Sekharan, who helped investigators crack the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case and played a seminal role in getting back the stolen 1,500-year-old Pathur Nataraja idol from the U.K., died here on Tuesday.

    He was 83 and is survived by his wife and daughter.

    A former director of the Tamil Nadu Forensic Sciences department, Prof. Chandra Sekharan was awarded the Padma Bhushan.

    An acknowledged expert as well as a pioneer in some forensic techniques, Prof. Chandra Sekharan deconstructed the suicide bomb attack on Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991.

    He made the sensational disclosure a day after the assassination that the killer was a woman who acted as a human bomb.

    He pieced together tattered pieces of denim fabric to conclude that the assassin was wearing a vest or jacket in which a bomb could have been packed.

    He proceeded to reconstruct the belt bomb as well as its two-switch circuitry, one to switch on the mechanism and the other to detonate the RDX bomb.

    K. Ragothaman, the chief investigating officer, recalled Prof. Chandra Sekharan’s great help. The forensic expert obtained the roll of film from a camera used by Hari Babu, a photographer who was killed in the explosion, to get pictures of the fateful public meeting.

    “But for those 10 crucial photographs, we would not have been able to detect the case. While video footage taken minutes before the explosion was suppressed by none other than the then Intelligence Bureau Director, Prof. Chandra Sekharan preserved the valuable evidence and gave it to us,” Mr. Ragothaman said.

    D.R. Kaarthikeyan, former CBI Director and Chief of the Special Investigation Team that investigated the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, said Prof. Chandra Sekharan had enormous knowledge in forensic science and his service was of immense help in the case.

    Tracking Nataraja

    He used both forensic science and traditional knowledge in establishing India’s claim over the Nataraja idol at the Royal Court of Justice in the U.K.

    After the idols were stolen from the Viswanatha Swamy temple, they were hidden for some time in a haystack. Termites devoured the haystack and in the process left their ‘galleries’ on the idols. The idols were later unearthed, but the Nataraja idol alone was sold and it found its way to London. “Though the idol was cleaned a couple of times, the lower part was left untouched and I spotted the termite nest. I used that to win the case,” he once told The Hindu.

    He was a much sought-after expert witness, appearing in courts across India, as well as in the United Kingdom, Singapore and Sri Lanka for both prosecution and defence.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> National / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – July 11th, 2017

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    Whether it was to celebrate Madras’ August birthday or not, Vikram Raghavan, a regular contributor to this column from the American capital, a Madras history buff, and a collector of Madras memorabilia, has just picked up the Thomas Daniell aquatint of Fort St George seen here. Thomas Daniell and nephew William were in India from 1785 to 1793 (Miscellany, April 21, 2008) and published in Britain between 1795 and 1808 “a monumental work”, Oriental Scenery, with 144 prints of Indian scenes. Of these, half a dozen are of Madras. A few more are of Mamallapuram, Tanjore, Madura and Rameswaram.

    My favourites, one of which I would like to get a real-life glimpse of, are two of the earliest pictorial representations of sport in Madras. A print of the Assembly Rooms on the Race Course at Madras hangs in the Fort Museum. The other is of Cricket in India, an original aquatint which is with a private collector in Calcutta who once sent me a poor transparency of it. As this representation was dated 1792, it was probably done in Madras because that was when the Daniells had left Calcutta and were here. And if that was so, the match was at The Island, the only grounds for the game at the time.

    In the picture, the bowler is shown bowling under-arm, the practice then; the bat is a club-like implement like a baseball bat; many of the fielders wear coloured trousers and the scorer is sitting a little wide off gully. A cow ambles about in a corner of the field in the foreground and at the left, by a few trees, is a tent, probably the pavilion. All this is really recognisable only if the picture is seen large. So take my word for it! It was sailors from East Indiamen, locally stationed British soldiers, and East India Company Writers and younger merchants who introduced the game in India. The first recorded cricket activity in the country dates to 1721, when visiting sailors played a game in Cambay, Gujarat, “to divert ourselves”, according to ship’s captain Nicholas Downton.

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    As for the Assembly Rooms, they were a kind of grandstand and clubhouse a little south of today’s racecourse where “entertainments” were held, a ball organised for every race day evening; the races were in the morning, then it was off to work and back again for waltzes and minuets. The first reference to organised sport in Madras, racing at St Thomas’ Mount, is in 1775.

    As for Vikram’s original colour-engraved aquatint, it dates to 1797 and is titled South East View of the Fort St George, Madras. The scene was probably viewed from somewhere near Royapuram. It shows masula and other boats, four men pulling a boat through the surf, and ships well out to sea in Madras Roads. Madras Harbour was many years in the future.

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    When the postman knocked…

    Clarifying my Institute of Mental Health (IMH) story (Miscellany, June 26) is my Australian correspondent, Dr A Raman, whose hobby is Madras medical history. His research deserves a book one day. Meanwhile, a more accurate story from him than mine about what began in Purasawalkam in 1794 as ‘The Madras Madhouse’ run by Valentine Connolly. It was a leased building (at ₹825 a month) to which Surgeon Maurice Fitzgerald succeeded, holding charge until 1803. James Dalton took over, rebuilt the facility and ran it till 1815 as Dalton’s Mad Hospital. Its cases included ‘circular insanity’, later described as ‘manic depressive illness’ and today as ‘bipolar illness’.

    Government involvement started in 1867 with approval for a facility to be called the Madras Lunatic Asylum (later called the Government Mental Hospital and from 1978 the IMH). The Asylum, raised in the 66.5 acres of Locock’s Gardens, Kilpauk, opened in 1871 with 150 patients and Surgeon John Murray as Superintendent. By 1915, there were 800 patients, 80 per cent of them civilians. About half the cases were classified as ‘mania’, about 20 per cent as ‘melancholia’ and about 25 per cent as ‘dementia’. ‘Criminal lunatics’ were kept segregated.

    Cycling Yogis will mark Madras Week with a booklet called Cycling Trails. It includes 40 trails with details about what to see on them. Every trail in the booklet has been cycled on by the compilers over the last year. Some of the trails which caught my attention were called ‘Madras the First’, ‘Madras the Oldest’, ‘Historic Residences’, ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ and ‘Police Heritage’. For booklets, contact ramanujar4u@gmail.com, then make use of them during Madras Month.

    This is not about Madras at all, but strange things happen around us all the time. And the recent strike by our Government medicos drew Don Abey’s attention to it. He refers to the Government Medical Officers’ Association in Sri Lanka calling off their agitation in mid-strike when the National Movement for Consumer Rights threatened “it would stage ceremonies in front of the homes of GMOA executive committee members to invoke God’s curses on them for holding hundreds of thousands of patients to ransom!” Powerful are the threat of death-threatening curses and pleas of consignment to Hell!

     The chronicler of Madras that is Chennai tells stories of people, places, and events from the years gone by, and sometimes, from today.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> Madras Miscellany – History & Culture / by S. Muthiah / Chennai – July 10th, 2017

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    “After obtaining permission from Tamil Nadu government, the restoration project was taken up in coordination with TELC The bungalow has now been restored without affecting the original structure,” she said adding that the bungalow had been converted as a museum

    Nagapattinam :

    A heritage bungalow occupied by German-born Danish missionary Bartholomeus Ziegenbalg, who set up the country’s first ever printing press in 1712, has been restored and converted as a museum at nearby Tarangambadi.

    Francke Foundation, Halle, Germany, has sponsored the restoration work and museum project in coordination with Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church  (TELC),  Jasmine Eppert, project manager of the museum, told PTI.

    Ziegenbalg’s translation of the New Testament into Tamil in 1715, and the New Jerusalem church that he and his associates constructed in 1718, are still in use today.

    Eppert further said Francke Foundation wanted to preserve Ziegenbalg’s legacy and came forward to restore the bungalow where Ziegenbalg lived in Tarangambadi.

    “After obtaining permission from Tamil Nadu government , the restoration project was taken up in coordination with TELC. The bungalow has now been restored without affecting the original structure,” she said adding that the bungalow had been converted as a museum.

    “Articles used by Ziegenbalg, including remains of the printing machines used by him, models of the typeface letters, books have all been collected and put up in the museum. The museum will be inaugurated on July 15,” she said.

     

    source: http://www.outlookindia.com / Outlook / Home> The News Scroll / Nagapattinam – July 06th, 2017

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    Left Manoj Kumar, director, Department of Technical Training & Education (DTTE), center Harsha Prabakaran, right Sumir Kumar Jha

    Left Manoj Kumar, director, Department of Technical Training & Education (DTTE), center Harsha Prabakaran, right Sumir Kumar Jha

    Chennai :

    Chennai-based student Harsha Prabakaran has got an opportunity to represent India in the electronics category at Worldskills 2017, more popularly known as “Skill Olympics .”

    Worldskills 2017 will take place in Abu Dhabi in October. It will see participation from over 77 countries across the globe in 50 different skills.

    The runner-up in the selection is Sumir Kumar Jha from Delhi.

    Prabakaran is an electronics engineer from the Chennai Institute Of Technology.

    The four-day pre-selection for the championship was organised by Electronics Sector Skill Council of India (ESSCI), Emtech Foundation and Delhi Technological University, New Delhi.

    The two contenders had to prove their mettle over a 17-hour task, which included schematic design, PCB design, embedded system programming, fault finding, repair and measurement.

    The ceremony for felicitating the winners saw participation of Manoj Kumar, director, Department of Technical Training & Education (DTTE) , S K Garg, pro-vice Chancellor, DTU, N K Mohapatra, CEO-ESSCI, Yogender Pal Singh, electronics expert and Naveen Kumar, technical consultant, ESSCI.

    Before the final event, Prabhakaran will undergo training at international electronics manufacturing firms to meet Skill Olympics’ standards

    Prabhakaran will meet PM Narendera Modi on July 15 before the final event.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City News> Chennai News / by Rachel Chitra / TNN / July 04th, 2017

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    Involves 3D electroanatomical mapping of the heart

    For 10 years, 53-year-old Baaskaran Subramaniam suffered from palpitation and dizziness, which made him tense and angry. A family member said he had speech difficulty.

    Mr. Baaskaran, a Malaysian resident, was suffering from arrhythmia, irregular rhythm of the heart. With no drugs yet to treat the condition, doctors rely on the conventional method of radiofrequency ablation.

    Though accurate, the method exposes patients to irradiation.

    Ulhas M. Pandurangi, chief of cardiac electrophysiology and pacing, arrhythmia-heart failure academy, Madras Medical Mission, opted for a new method of 3D electroanatomical mapping of the heart. The method dispensed with fleuroscopy and use of defibrillators.

    “In the conventional radiofrequency ablation, we have to insert several catheters. It was like exploring inside the heart blindly. But the new method allows us to make just two incisions in the groin to insert two catheters. On contact, the image of the heart rhythm pattern is visible on the monitor and the physician can guide the catheter towards where the electrical impulse is created,” he explained.

    “It is an experience to be able to go into the heart and find the exact place where the electric impulse is created,” he said. The Ensite Precision cardiac mapping system allows for a high level of automation, flexibility and precision that helps cardiologists to effectively diagnose a wide range of arrhythmias.

    Dr. Pandurangi said the therapy is curative and the patient does not require medication post-procedure. It also reduces cost for the patient as using defibrillator could set back the patient by ₹7 lakh.

    Mr. Baaskaran, who underwent the procedure two days ago, said the treatment cost of ₹4.8 lakh was covered by the insurance company in Malaysia.

    During its meeting, the Tamil Nadu Electrophysiology Council had resolved that some of the therapies be covered under the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Insurance Scheme, Dr. Pandurangi said.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – June 17th, 2017

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    June 7th, 2017adminRecords, All, Sports, World Opinion
    Indian beach volleyball player Master Robin, belongs to a fisherman family at Pazhaiyar village, who got second place, returned from France. | Photo Credit: G. Krishnaswamy

    Indian beach volleyball player Master Robin, belongs to a fisherman family at Pazhaiyar village, who got second place, returned from France. | Photo Credit: G. Krishnaswamy

    Robin’s team returns with runners-up trophy in beach volleyball

    Even after a long journey, R. Robin did not feel tired for a minute talking about his team winning silver medal in beach volleyball competition at Tahiti. The class 11 student and his team-mates, Dharun and Swagath, were runners-up playing against Brazil in the championship conducted by the International School Sports Federation.

    Hailing from a family of fishermen from Pazhaiyar near Sirkazhi, his father V. Ravi is a fish worker, playing beach volleyball came naturally to the youngster. “Having come in 3rd at the national level, we were sent to play at the international level. We made small blunders, which was the reason the other team won. Next time, I will practise harder and win gold,” said the youngster, whose elder brother R. Radhan too came in runners-up in beach volleyball in the State-level recently.

    Robin has been playing beach volleyball for the past three years. “I used to play regular volleyball at school and then someone told us about the beach version. Initially it was difficult playing in the sand and required more energy. We are now used to it. We practise at Nagapattinam in 10-day-long camps,” he said.

    In his first international trip, Robin had the opportunity to go around Tahiti. “It was a very beautiful place,” he added.

    M. Ilango, president, National Fisherfolk Forum, said the government must recognise the students as they have represented the country at the international level. “The children are both from the State and the Chief Minister should appreciate the under-16 winners. The encouragement would help them go to the next step,” he said.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – June 07th, 2017

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    Digging deeper: P.S. Sriraman, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, launching the third phase of the excavation work at Keezhadi on Saturday. | Photo Credit: S. James

    Digging deeper: P.S. Sriraman, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, launching the third phase of the excavation work at Keezhadi on Saturday. | Photo Credit: S. James

    Four trenches to be dug in an area of 400 square metres

    The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Saturday began the third phase of excavation at Keezhadi in Sivaganga district, roughly 12 km from here.

    P.S. Sriraman, Superintending Archaeologist, Excavations Branch (Bengaluru), ASI, who is now in-charge of the Keezhadi site, told reporters here that the excavation would continue through the end of September.

    “We are hoping to make more interesting findings in this phase,” he said.

    Four trenches in an area of around 400 square metres would be dug initially at the coconut groves at Pallichanthai Thidal in Keezhadi, where the excavation has been on since 2015, and the area will gradually be expanded throughout the third phase depending on the findings, he said.

    Saying that ₹40 lakh had been allocated by the ASI for the third phase, Mr. Sriraman stressed that there was no shortage of funds.

    On-site museum

    He said that shifting of artefacts, likely to be discovered at the excavation site, to ASI offices elsewhere could not be ruled out for advanced analysis and ensure preservation of the artefacts.

    “However, setting up an on-site museum, similar to the ones set up at various ASI sites, is under consideration. If that happens, all the artefacts will be brought here itself,” he said.

    Highlighting that carbon-dating of two samples of charcoal from the excavation site has indicated that the human settlement at the site was around 200 BC, Mr. Sriraman said more samples would be sent abroad for carbon dating.

    A total of 5,800 artefacts were found in the last two phases of excavation.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Tamil Nadu / by Arunachalam  / Madurai – May 27th, 2017

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    May 28th, 2017adminRecords, All, Sports, World Opinion

    Bhavani Devi has also become the first Indian to win a gold medal in an international fencing event.

    Bhavani Devi defeated Great Britain’s Sarah Jane Hampson 15-13 in the finals.

    Bhavani Devi defeated Great Britain’s Sarah Jane Hampson 15-13 in the finals.

    Indian fencer C A Bhavani Devi struck gold in the Turnoi Satellite Fencing Championship at Reykjavik (Iceland). Bhavani Devi, who hails from Chennai, defeated Great Britain’s Sarah Jane Hampson 15-13. En route to the final, she also defeated Jessica Corby 15-11 in the semifinal.

    With this win, Bhavani Devi has also become the first Indian to win a gold medal in an international fencing event. She had previously won a silver medal.

    “This is my third time in this competition. I have lost in quarterfinals in previous years. Now I have won my first medal. It is also the first medal in world level competition as I have won medals in Asian and Commonwealth championships,” a delighted Bhavani told PTI from Reykjavik.

    source: http://www.indianexpress.com / The Indian Express / Home> Sports> Sports Others / by Express Web Desk / May 28th, 2017

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    Several visitors from abroad come every year looking for ancestors — something, meaning lineages, few Indians are interested in. I can only suggest to them the Archives or this church or that cemetery. But, what is a constant surprise is how much information they already have. And, providing an example were my latest visitors, Norman and Gwen Rider from the UK. They were looking for information about Charles Robert MacGregor Ferguson (1847-1920), the second great-grandfather of Gwen. This is what they’d already found:

    Charles Ferguson was the son of Private James Ferguson, 15th Hussars, and Harriet (Chinnema) Chinamal. They had married in Bangalore where Charles Ferguson was born and baptised. James Ferguson died there in 1849. Harriet Chinamal died in Madras in 1903 and was buried in St Andrew’s Kirk. Tracing her family is one of the Riders’ least-likely-to-succeed quests.

    The other quest is trying to trace Charles Ferguson’s career. He married Anne Elizabeth Ward in St Matthias’ Church, Vepery, in 1868. She died in Coonoor in 1878 after bearing him three children. He then married Alice Emmeline D’Abreu and had two daughters before she died the same year he did, when she was 64. Details about his career are scanty, also occasionally fanciful as in: “1861 — Lucknow. Government Survey Department, Post and Telegraph Department and became Postmaster General in Lucknow until 1902 and received a Government pension till the day of his death in 1920.” Joining service at 14? It was possible in those days for Anglo-Indian boys who’d learn on the job. But, Postmaster General sounds like gilding the lily. He was ‘Telegraph master’ in Pudupet in 1868, then, judging by family births and deaths (all listed), in Coonoor, Lucknow and Chittagong.

    The note on Charles’ retirement reads: “Government pension Yelagiri Hills area of South India. Joined a group of Scots families who farmed at Sunnybanks and Bethany where they were self-sufficient growing crops and keeping animals.” He died in Salem and was buried there. Norman Rider added that it was recorded that on his father’s death Charles was left in the care of his godmother, Maria Sandway, in Bangalore in 1849 and that, it was believed, sometime thereafter, that the boy was placed in the Madras Male Orphans’ Asylum (from which St George’s, Shenoy Nagar, grew).

    That’s quite a compilation from church and cemetery records and the British Library’s India: Select Births and Baptisms, 1786-1947 and India: Select Deaths and Burials 1719-1948. Even ‘select’, those must be quite some compendiums. But, for all that, the Riders still wonder whether there are Post and Telegraph and St George’s records to help them.

    The Riders are only a couple of the hundreds of persons from the UK and elsewhere who come in search of roots. With all the modern technology available, can’t some kind of network be established to help these searchers?

    A dance doyenne remembered…

    Kalakshetra and Nrithyodaya recently remembered someone who had made Bharatanatyam a significant part of the Singapore cultural scene for which she was awarded that country’s highest honour for artists, The Cultural Medallion, and was selected for its Women’s Hall of Fame. The remembrance was the passing away of that dance ambassador, 79-year-old Neila Sathyalingam, in Singapore, recently.

    ‘Neila Maami’, to all her students, did post-graduation and, later, taught, at Kalakshetra. She and husband S Sathyalingam, a talented mridangist, an alumni, and a teacher there, moved to Singapore in 1974 with his job and founded Apsaras Arts in 1977. Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music flourished in Singapore as Apsaras grew. That growth included Rukmini Devi-style dance dramas, Kannagi and Sivagami, her last, two memorable ones.

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    The wedding of Suntharalingam Sathyalingam and Neila Balendra linked two of Colombo’s leading Jaffna Tamil families. Sathyalingam and I grew up together as neighbours, but none of that family’s love of music and dance rubbed off on me. Instead, I learnt about politics and ethnicity at the knee of that maverick Ceylonese politician, his father C Suntharalingam, a mathematics Tripos, too, who first used the word ‘Eelam’ in Parliament. None of his family was as committed to politics.

    …. and a young hero too

    The ambush of CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh reminded me of a 60-year old action that Capt D P Ramachandran of the Colours of Glory Foundation narrated to me in great detail a while ago. In the 1956 ambush, a 30-plus patrol of the Sikh Light Infantry found itself surrounded by 500 Naga insurgents. Second Lieutenant Polur Muthuswamy Raman of North Arcot District had the choice to surrender or suicidally fight it out. The 21-year-old chose the latter. Four hours later, during which Raman was twice wounded, there was relief. Another patrol of Sikhs at a higher elevation, spotting their colleagues pinned down, fought their way downhill to join them. The link-up broke the insurgents, but Raman and Major Mehta Singh, who had led the other detachment, lost their lives.

    Mehta Singh received the Kirti Chakra, the second highest gallantry award for counter-insurgency action. Raman got the highest award, the Ashok Chakra. Proudly, almost six decades after its alumnus had laid down his life in Nagaland, the National Defence Academy named a new academic building the ‘Raman Block’.

    The chronicler of Madras that is Chennai tells stories of people, places and events from the years gone by and, sometimes, from today.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> Madras Miscellany – History & Culture / by S. Muthiah / May 08th, 2017

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