The 7 million dollar cameraman

Legendary photographer and film producer, Mohinder Singh Dhillon, who is now eighty years old is fondly fondly called “The seven million dollar cameraman” due to his moving coverage of the Ugandan famine. His short clip has profound effect and instantly help raising 7 million dollars aid.
He is Kenya’s leading film maker, Mohinder Dhillon, was knighted by the Order of Saint Mary of Zion during a ceremony at the Royal Artillery Headquarters in Woolwich, U.K. on November 12th 2005.
Now he is writing his autobiography which is named aptly as “Death wish Dhillon” because of his daring exploits in the battlefields during Yemen’s struggle for liberation from British colonial forces.

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He hails from Baburpur in Patiala district of Punjab. His father was first literate person in their village and went to Kenya to work in the railways. He joined him in 1947 when he was a 17 year old boy fresh from the village who has not gone anywhere till then and loved the cock fights.
His father bought a camera from stock clearance sale, a basic second hand Brownie having a fixed speed and aperture. It was the beginning of the life long photographic career and fame spanning 60 years.
Although he was called Death wish Sir Dhillon, he says laughs away saying “no one wants to die”
Another of his sensitive exploits is his 1984 Ugandan famine expedition. It moved the world and helped collecting 100 dollars help.
He is also called Mo lovingly.

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Dhillon clicks Kenya’s founding father President Jomo Kenyatta beings interview

Kallianwala Khooh: Another Example of British Brutality

It is said that sun never set on the British empire once upon a time. They colonised most of the world and plundered all kind of wealth by making the innocent inhabitants their slaves. India was subjected to this treatment for two centuries. In the process to subjugate those who tried to oppose, they perpetrated heinous crimes.
One such famous incidence in firing on the unarmed and peaceful thousands of people in the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar Punjab. Another instance of their brutality came to light in the same district at Ajnala. There was a well called Kallianwala Khoo (well) once upon a time. This well was excavation by volunteers. The digging began on 28th of February 2014 and within 3 days, skulls, bones, some coins of East India company and jaws were excavated.
It’s believed that it was here, in this khoo or well, that the bodies of 282 Indian soldiers who rebelled against the British during the 1857.
Covered in the freshly dug earth were skeletal remains — skulls, bones — coins and pieces of jewellery.
Amritsar based historian Mr.Surinder Kochhar who led the excavation did a lot of research before undertaking this task.
By March 2, the excavators — mostly volunteers — had dug about 23 feet and claimed to have exhumed 90 skulls, 170 “intact jaws”, more than 5,000 teeth, 70 one-rupee gold coins belonging to The East India Company, gold beads, three gold amulets, six finger rings, four karas and two medals dated 1835, before they declared the digging complete.

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Standing a few feet away from the well, Amritsar-based historian Surinder Kochhar, who led the group of amateur excavators, says the decision to excavate the well was based on historical research. He had based his claims on then Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Frederick Cooper’s book, “The Crisis in the Punjab” , published in 1858, which vividly narrates the incident and on the Amritsar District Gazetteers from 1883 to 1947, all four editions of which mentioned the Kallianwala Khoo killings.
According to popular history, the 282 soldiers buried in the Ajnala well were part of a platoon of 500 soldiers of the 26th Native Infantry who had revolted at the Mian Mir Cantonment in Lahore during the 1857 uprising and had swum across Ravi to reach Ajnala town in Amritsar. Around 218 of their comrades were killed by the British at Dadian Sofian village near Ajnala. Of the remaining 282, many were captured and put in a cage-like room where several died of asphyxiation, while the rest were shot dead. Their bodies were then thrown into the well.
If DNA testing is conducted, it could be another evidence,” he says.
Dr Sukhdev Singh Sohal, professor of history at the Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, says there is no unanimous view on how the well got its name. The popular view, he says, is that Kallianwala khoo means the ‘well of the blacks’, referring to “dark-skinned Indians”.
The villagers want a memorial and a museum in Ajnala in memory of the soldiers. There have also been proposals for DNA- and carbon-dating tests on the exhumed remains. The government has decided to set up a committee of historians to examine these demands.
“We are getting suggestions from various quarters, including from INTACH, saying that the skeletons should be studied to ascertain how the soldiers could have been assassinated. Were they beheaded, shot dead or killed using some other means?” says Randhawa. Back at the site, Kochhar says, “A lot of research has gone into this. I didn’t dream of the well.” That the reference was to a seer’s dream that triggered a failed gold rush at Unnao in UP, wasn’t lost on anyone.
FROM COOPER’S BOOK
“Ten by ten the sepoys were called forth. Their names having been taken down in succession, they were pinioned, linked together, and marched to execution; a firing party being in readiness. About 150 having been thus executed, one of the executioners swooned away (he was the oldest of the firing party), and a little respite was allowed. Then proceeding, the number had arrived at two hundred and thirty seven; when the district officer was informed that the remainder refused to come out of the bastion, where they had been imprisoned temporarily a few hours before. Expecting a rush and resistance, preparations were made against escape; but little expectation was entertained of the real and awful fate which had fallen on the remainder of the mutineers… The doors were opened, and, behold! They were nearly all dead! Unconsciously, the tragedy of Holwell’s Black Hole had been re-enacted. No cries had been heard during the night, in consequence of the hubbub, tumult and shouting of the crowds of the horsemen, police, tehsil guards and excited villagers.
Forty five bodies, dead from fright, exhaustion, fatigue, heat and partial suffocation, were dragged into light, and consigned, in common with all other bodies, into one common pit, by the hands of village sweepers…The execution at Ujnalla (read Ajnala) commenced at day break, and the stern spectacle was over in a few hours. Thus, within forty-eight hours from the date of the crime, there fell by law nearly 500 men.”
— Extracted from The Crisis in the Punjab (1858)

As you might have seen in many documentaries on the Discovery Channel, the extraction of the remains of the bodies requires great patience, delicacy and is time consuming. This is because with time the bodies become very fragile and prone to disintegration. Here, the work was done by volunteers who had no knowledge of such delicate processes. They in their enthusiasm did the work in 3 days and it might have caused deterioration to the quality of the remains.
Now the mortal remains are in the possession of the Punjab Director of Cultural Affairs. A team of two professors from the department of Anthropology from Panjab University for working out the biological profiles and DNA profiles to identify the soldiers. Since there are no records of the names of the soldiers, British government has bee requested to provide the details of the soldiers who were killed in the massacre.

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Custodian of the Past

One is surprised and awestruck at the single minded passion of the person. His name is Narinderpal Singh Panesar. He is 43 years old businessman and belongs to Ludhiana district in Punjab. He has the mind boggling collection of antiques which include rare coins, antique cameras, international currency notes and other materials. These are mostly related to Sikh history but in addition to all sorts of antiques. He has collected these in 30 years. He wishes to set up Sikh museum which shall have no parallel.

His collection includes 55000 coins which belong to ancient, medieval, British India, Sikh misls of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Patiala, Nabha, Jind and Malerkotla.

He has rare stamps. Oldest stamp is of golden temple which was released in 1935 on the silver jubilee ceremony of George V. Also stamp issued by Pakistan in 2008 on martyrdom day of Sikh Guru Arjan Dev. Many stamps have gold, silver, silk, Khadi, tin, chocolate and Swarovski on them. Some are perfumed and embroidered.

Manuscrpits are from Gurumukhi, Sanskrit, Persian Arabic or Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. There is Adhyatam Prakash Granth  dating back to 1668 AD. Also there are paintings belonging to Mughal, Sikh, Pahari, Kishangarh and East India Company.

There was the news that due to financial problems in setting up the Museum, he has decided to sell the antiques which are non-Sikh category with heavy heart. He is disappointed over the attitude of Government and SGPC.

Here are some of the sample photos taken from the article in Times of India.

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Unesco World Heritage tag for Rani-ki-Vav

Rani ki vav or the Queen’s Stepwell at Patan, Gujarat has been bestowed with this honor a few days back under criteria i and iv which say. First criterion is the structure represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and second criterion says the item under consideration is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history.Rani-ki-Vav (le puits à degrés de la Reine) à Patan, Gujarat

Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Step well) at Patan, Gujarat is located on the banks of the Saraswati River and was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Rani or the queen Udayamati commissioned this vav or step well, in 1063 in the memory of her husband King Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. Rani-ki-Vav was built at the height of craftsman’s ability in step well construction and the Maru-Gurjara architectural style, reflecting mastery of this complex technique and great beauty of detail and proportions. Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water, it is divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality. The vav was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati River and silted over until the late eighties, when it was excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India, with the carvings found in pristine condition. Rani Ki Vav is among the finest step wells in India, and one of the most famous legacies of the ancient capital city.

Rani-ki-Vav (le puits à degrés de la Reine) à Patan, Gujarat

The vavs of Gujarat are not merely sites for collecting water and socializing, but also simultaneously hold great spiritual significance. They were originally constructed quite simply, but became more intricate over the years, perhaps to make explicit this ancient concept of the sanctity of water by carving it out in stone deities thus representing a subterranean temple.

The steps begin at ground level, leading you down through the cool air through several pillared pavilions to reach the deep well below. There are more than 800 elaborate sculptures among seven galleries. The central theme is the Dasavataras, or ten incarnations of Vishnu, including Buddha. The avatars are accompanied by sadhus, Brahmins, and apsaras (celestial dancers), painting their lips and adorning themselves. At water level you come to a carving of Sheshashayi-Vishnu, in which Vishnu reclines on the thousand-hooded serpent Shesha, where it is said he rests in the infinity between epochs.

The fourth level is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank of 9.5 by 9.4 meters, at a depth of 23 meters. The well is located at the westernmost end of the property and consists of a shaft, 10 meters in diameter and 30 meters deep.

For more pictures visit the Unesco page.

Ice hides memories of past climate!!!!

Almost all the elements in the universe are composed of atoms siblings though are chemically equivalent but have slightly different weight. Atom is composed of equal number of electrons and protons to make it electrically neutral and stable. There are also neutrons which are electrically neutral but have weight almost equal to the proton. Protons and neutrons reside in the centre of atom and called jointly nucleus. This is due to the different numbers of neutrons in these atoms. More the neutrons more shall be the weight of the isotope.
Oxygen has two prominent isotopes. The lighter one contains 8 neutrons and the heavier one contains 10 neutrons this is exactly 2 neutron heavier. The ratio of the heavier atoms to the lighter ones is 1:500 or 0.2%. The number and ratio of the oxygen isotopes is constant if water was present at one place only. But the distribution changes due to physical and biological processes. These two phenomena fractionated the distribution. The oxygen atoms are labeled 18O and 16O.
Since heavier oxygen has lower tendency to evaporate than the lighter and higher tendency to precipitate, the distribution changes continuously with the movement and phase changes of the water.
Originally in the sea water there was a given ratio. Now suppose sun heats the sea and evaporation takes place initiating the water cycle. But notice, the ratio of heavier atoms to lighter atoms will change both is the sea water left behind as well as the vapours. Sea water will become richer in heavier isotope and vapours poorer. Now these vapours rise and starts migrating towards the poles. Temperature gradually begins to fall triggering the precipitation but again further fractionation will take place. In the beginning, some of the heavier atoms will precipitate thus further depleting the pole ward moving water vapours in heavier atoms. So when the snow will start falling, it will be containing the least numbers of heavier atoms.
The snow will settle down. Future years will bring more snow, thus snowflakes shall begin to compact at the lower layers. Snowflakes contain roughly 80% air. After compaction, the air will be expelled and firn will form having only about 20% air. Ultimately lowest layers shall become ice containing only 2% air or less. Layer upon layer will build.
The snow precipitated in the relatively warmer climates shall have more heavier oxygen than the snow precipitated in cooler climates. This phenomena is used to measure the temperature at which a particular layer was deposited. This provides a tool for temperature records in the history of the earth.
For this purpose, scientists take out the continuous cylindrical cores of the ice and measure the abundance of heavier oxygen atoms relative to the lighter ones using ratio recording mass spectrometer and plot this against depth. From the calibration curves with temperature, scientists are able to measure the temperature records.
Knowing the past climatic history of the earth can help in understanding the ice ages epochs, chemical and biological reactions and thus the abundance or otherwise of minerals like petroleum.
Thus the ice deposited over millions of years preserves the memories of the climate in the past. They have been able to recreate the 4 million years record of temperatures.

Some snippets from childhood ?

I am 61 years old now and retired from the service. In the ample time at my disposal, the mind harks back and reel of memory rewinds on the spool of time and this time it stops at the days of my childhood. Our childhood was spent in the village called Manimajra. Nowadays it is in the Union territory of Chandigarh though at that time it was along with Chandigarh a part of Punjab.
We were like most others in the village poor peasants with small landholdings. Parents were totally illiterate. In those days, nobody was serious about the education and future of their children. It was supposed that they will fend for themselves when they will grow up. In all probability would be farmers like them. If they went to school it was by luck.
Even I did not like the school. There was nobody to cajole us about the need of education to become something and live comfortably. But still we went to school.
After school and taking lunch, we invariably headed for our fields which were quite far away. It was all the on foot through rough paths, streams littered with pebbles and thorny detours. We brought back the green fodder for our buffaloes.
But there were other outings also which we enjoyed most. One of these was going together to shrines of Mansa Devi which are about 4 to 5 kilometres away situated in the hillocks which are sub-systems of Shivalik hills. Usually the temples are situated in the hills.
There are two temples separated by half a kilometre distance. The lower one was constructed by the Raja of Manimajra and the other by Royal family of Patiala. The lower temple is older and was more aesthetic in design. There were frescos depicting mythological scenes related to Durga slaying the mehsasur and also of Krishna Leela. I don’t know what has become of them because even at that time they were not in well preserved condition.
There were small shrines littered around the main temples. One such was at the foot of the stairs leading to the temple. There was a big water tank in front of it. Pilgrims took bath in it during the times of annual fares in which people from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal came to participate.
Farmers usually came in groups. There was at that time fashion of carrying a stick which was specially designed with a bend at the one end. Usually there were quarrels between groups and then this weapon was used freely. These people drank the country liquor and sweets like Ladoos and Jalebis were favourite.
But this was during the fare. In other times, there were very few people and it was very peaceful. We came many a times with our grandfather who was friends with a sadhu of the shrine. As they sat chatting and smoking hookah we played there for long time.
During other times, we came with friends and headed for the area beyond the temple. There were unending clusters of thorny bushes which bore the fruit “Ber” diminutive variety of jejube. They were mostly sour and sweet. All day we ate those and collected for home. Other attraction was an army helicopter which hovered over and many a times landed in the clearings of the bushes. We were awestruck with it and the way bushes swayed when it came down.
There was another attraction. It was walking along the Chandigarh Kalka railway line which passed in that area. We always waited impatiently for the train to appear. When it came rolling like a black giant which inspired awe and fear. The engine was steam based with clouds of smoke from burning coal issuing from the exhaust. The goods train used to halt at the crossing of the road leading to the temple. Many women from nearby village came to fill pitchers of water from the engine. Sometimes the motorman also gave them the partially burnt coal for use in homes.
During winter, the cough usually pestered us. There were no of the counter medicines. There was a herb called Adusa which grew in abundance. It bore white flowers which contained a nectar which soothed the throat. We sucked them and also brought back home because the cough became acute as the temperature dropped during the night.


Such were the days. A carefree life not affected by lack of money. There was hardly any pollution. No gadget like television, radio etc which keep us engrossed at home and we miss the nature’s beauty and surprises which wait us outside.

Another Iraq!!

There is another Iraq. It is village situated in Ludhiana district of Punjab India. The village which is 30 kilometers from Ludhiana shares its name with West Asian country, presently torn by strife. People are being killed brutally by the terrorist outfit ISIS which some say is backed by Sunni Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia. Iraq is dominated by Shia Muslims. iraq

The Iraq in Punjab is just the opposite.

It is peaceful. No crimes in many years. People live in perfect harmony. The 800 people strong village is at pains that the namesake country is going through the most horrific days. In two years, here only one crime has been reported. Village near here take pride in the fact that they live in a peaceful Iraq. Villagers here want this Iraq to be recognized as a role model for peace in the state

Genesis of the name Iraq is like this. Earlier name was “Irakh” which is Arabic name for wild bull or pony like animal. During the periods when Muslims ruled Punjab, the people here used this animal to cross the small river which was in spate during rains.

After the partition, Muslims from here left for Sialkot in Pakistan. Presently there is not a single Muslim family. People mostly work in Ludhiana factories.

This name many a times, caused problems to its residents going abroad. Their passport is checked thoroughly. One of the passport officer even began locating it on the Google maps.