How an Idea, …and an Ad … and Some Italians Got us the Auto Rickshaw!!!

After that glorious stroke at midnight in August 1947, following two centuries under the colonial yoke, India finally became free.

While citizens reeled under the after-effects of a hurried partition, leaders had a mammoth task at hand. They needed to plan and act towards the development of the new nation—economically and socially—and her people as producers and consumers.

“Correcting the disequilibrium” in the economy and an improvement in “the living standards” of the people featured in the objectives for the First Five Year Plan(1951-52 to 1955-56).

In a February 1947 session of then Bombay’s legislative assembly, a member raised the inhuman conditions of rickshaw pullers. This discussion set many wheels in motion.

Morarji Desai, then Home Minister of Bombay province, suggested that cycle rickshaws be discontinued.

Cycle Rickshaws. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Navalmal Kundalmal Firodia, a freedom fighter, saw in this an opportunity to provide low-cost public transport to the country. The image of a three-wheeler “goods carrier” from a trade paper caught his eye and inspiration.

He submitted a plan to Desai and was told that if the vehicle was satisfactory from “a technical viewpoint”, it could be permitted under the public conveyance plan.

Firodia’s Jaya Hind Industries, set up a joint venture with Bachhraj Trading Corporation (later Bajaj Auto Private Limited), to replicate the vehicle in the image. It was manufactured by Italy’s Piaggio.

To better understand the nuances, Firodia bought a scooter and two three-wheeler goods carriers from the Italian company, studying the models and making several modifications to arrive at the final product.

Painted in hues of green and yellow, it was a mix of the hand-drawn carriages of the time and the automated two-wheeler. This contraption would soon become commonplace on Indian roads and affix its reliability on the Indian psyche.

The industrialist in Firodia had perhaps foreseen how it would enable independent Indians to undertake convenient and affordable trips around the country’s myriad cities and towns.

With the approval in the Bombay province, he saw and used another opportunity to popularise his vehicle—the prohibition of cycle rickshaws in Pune.

By December 1950, N Keshava Iyengar, the Mayor of Bangalore, approved the licenses of ten auto rickshaws in the capital of the princely state of Mysore. These vehicles “resembled a scooter pulling a passenger cabin attached to its rear”.


Iyengar inaugurated the first auto and is even said to have volunteered to take the vehicle’s owners, a Bangalorean man and his Italian wife, on its maiden journey!

While people hailed the autos, the jatka union (hand-drawn cart) in Bangalore and the tongawallahs in Pune were unimpressed; the last-mile connectivity to and from public transport that auto rickshaws provided stood in their way.

As did the restrictions from the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969.

A coffee-table about Kamalnayan Bajaj, the pioneer of Bajaj Auto, highlights this in the following words.

“In the beginning, we were licensed to make 1,000 scooters and auto rickshaws per month. In 1962, we applied to increase manufacturing capacity to 30,000 and 6,000 auto rickshaws per year. In 1963, we applied to increase capacity from 24,000 scooters to 48,000. In 1970, we asked for 100,000. Eventually, in 1971, the government approved an increase to 48,000.”

While the Bajajs and Firodias went their separate ways, with the auto rickshaw coming under the Bajaj Group, Bangalore’s ten auto rickshaws grew to 40.

The fact that middle-class Indians did not yet have enough disposable income to own vehicles furthered the popularity of the auto rickshaw, and it became the symbol of affordable urban transport.

This was true not only for India, but also for other developing countries. By 1973, Bajaj Auto was exporting three-wheelers to Nigeria, Bangladesh, Australia, Sudan, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Yemen.

In the financial year 1977, the company introduced rear engine auto rickshaws and sold 100,000 vehicles.

Until 1980, the vehicles were only allowed to carry two passengers at a time. However, this changed in the next two decades, and today, autos can transport as many as can fit themselves on the seats!

As per data from EMBARQ, auto rickshaws in tier-2 cities (population between 1 and 4 million) number between 15,000 and 30,000, to more than 50,000 in tier-1 cities (population more than 4 million).

The sector also employs an estimated 5 million people!

Additionally, the auto rickshaw union is one of the most organised labour groups in the country. They follow the latest trends—from unitedly aping a favourite actor’s haircut to expressing their thoughts on the vehicle.

While auto drivers have been criticised for irregularities in the fare system, and their disregard to the safety of passengers, autos remain the quintessential mode of intermediate or even end-to-end transport for an Indian.

Taxi aggregators born in India and abroad have take note of this, and as a result, co-opted the vehicle in their business models.

Interestingly, Firodia was not just responsible for bringing the three-wheeler goods chassis from Italy and converting it into a passenger vehicle in India, but also coined the term ‘auto-rickshaw’.

The word now finds a place in the Oxford Dictionary, and since its introduction in 1949, the auto has not gone off the road.

Featured image: Pxhere

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

Source…..Shruti Singhal in http://www.the





How The Legendary Ambassador Conquered Indian Hearts…And Roads!!!!!

What is it that makes the good old ‘Ambassador,’ the only car in India that served dignitaries as well as the common man, a quintessential part of the Indian identity?

Today’s young generation will never entirely be able to fathom the wave of nostalgia that follows the mention of the burly car, or the sense of authority and importance exuded by a fleet of white Ambassadors with a ‘laal-batti.’

The year was 1958 when the Ambassador, a gift that Hindustan Motors gave India and its people, hit the roads for the very first time. It was a true representative of the Make in India initiative, almost half a century before the terminology even came into existence.

It was a car that could endure quite literally anything and did not require one to possess

esoteric knowledge for its maintenance.

In fact, the running joke of the time was that even a kid could repair an Ambassador!

Perhaps that was what the makers had in their mind—a car that was supremely efficient, able to withstand even the worst of potholes, and seat extended families under one roof.

Interestingly, the original Ambassador was modelled upon the Morris Oxford series III model, which Morris Motors Limited manufactured from 1956 to 1959 at Cowley, UK. With a 1,489 cc engine, this was the first car in India to have a diesel engine.

In total, Indians have lived through seven generations of the car, with the first one being Mark-1 and the final one named Encore, which complied with BS-IV engine standards.

The Ambassador’s love affair with the state and bureaucracy was even more deep-seated. The sturdy four-wheeler acquired an altogether new identity when a beacon was fixed atop its roof.

Be it prime ministers, politicians or even civil servants; the Ambassador was the natural option for an official vehicle for many decades. One of its print advertisements used to say, “We are still the driving force of the real leaders.”

It changed only when the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee ditched the ‘white elephant’ for a swanky BMW in 2003. It was a move that shocked many, and paved the way for a narrative shift in India’s power optics and with that, end of an era.

Talking of politics, a rather amusing anecdote surrounding the Ambassador is from the days when Pandit Nehru was the PM. While he would usually opt for Indian-made cars for day-to-day travel, he would travel in a Cadillac when it came to receiving foreign heads of state and dignitaries from the airport.

A confused Lal Bahadur Shastri, who was the then External affairs minister, asked Nehru about the switching between cars. Nehru responded that he did this “to let them know that the Indian Prime Minister could also be driven in a Cadillac.

However, when Shastri took over India’s premiership in 1964, he stuck with the Ambassador—even when foreign dignitaries came visiting.

Upon being asked why he didn’t follow Nehru’s practice, he said, “Pandit Nehru was a great man, and it is difficult to emulate him. It makes no difference to me what the foreign dignitaries think as long as they know that the Indian Prime Minister is travelling in a car which is made in India.”

By the mid-1990s, automobile industries from across the world began flocking to India and the market supremacy that Ambassador once enjoyed slowly began to give way to smaller and easily manageable cars like Maruti.

Like the curtains fall after every great play, time was slowly inching up on Ambassador. With the exception of official cars and taxis, there very few of them on the road.

It was in 2014 that Hindustan Motors finally ended the production of Ambassador, following a failed attempt at rebranding the car in a more compact and swanky version titled ‘Amby.’

The customary tribute post by Amul at that time was extremely poignant as it seemed to resonate with almost everyone who had driven the vehicle or even sat on the passenger seat, at some time or the other.

Honestly enough, while cars may come and go in India, nothing will come close to the adulation that the ‘King of Indian Roads,’ as Ambassador was known, has enjoyed.

A car that became the enduring symbol of post-Independence India, the Ambassador will forever remain an intrinsic part of the country and an unforgettable memory for its people.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

Source….. LekshmiPriya .S in http://www.the




Charvolant: The Kite-Drawn Carriages….

On 8 January 1822, an extraordinary journey was made from Bristol to Marlborough. An English schoolteacher named George Pocock took his wife and his kids on a 182 km-trip in a carriage drawn not by horses but by a couple of enormous kites. Pocock designed the carriage himself, which he called “Charvolant”.

George Pocock was fascinated with kites from a young age, and as he played and experimented with them, he learned that kites had tremendous lifting power. Young Pocock would tie small stones at the end of the string attached to the kite and watch it soar into the skies. As Pocock grew older, his experiments became bolder and more dangerous, usually involving his own children. In one stunt he put his young daughter in a wicker chair, hoisted her up in to the air with a 30-foot-tall kite and then flew her across the Avon Gorge. Fortunately she survived and went on to become the mother of the cricket legend W. G. Grace. Later the same year—year 1824—he flew his son to the top of a 200-foot-tall cliff outside Bristol.
















Two years later, he patented the design of his “Charvolant” buggy. The Charvolant consisted of two kites on a single line that was 1,500 to 1,800 feet long (nearly half a kilometer) and was capable of pulling a carriage with several passengers at a fairly fast speed. Steering was achieved by four control lines attached to the kite, and a T-shaped bar that controlled the direction of the front wheels. Braking was provided by an iron bar that could be pushed down into the road.

Shortly after its invention and after many risky trials, Pocock published a book titled The Aeropleustic Art or Navigation in the Air by the use of Kites, or Buoyant Sails, where he sang the virtues of travelling in a Charvolant.

“This mode of travelling is, of all others, the most pleasant,” he wrote. “Privileged with harnessing the invincible winds, our celestial tandem playfully transpierces the clouds, and our mystic-moving car swiftly glides along the surface of the scarce-indented earth; while beholders, snatching a glance at the rapid but noiseless expedition, are led to regard the novel scene rather as a vision than a reality.”

Pocock mentions that during his trials he timed the Charvolant travelling at 20 miles an hour (32 km/h) over considerable distances, and a mile could frequently be covered even over heavy roads in 2 minutes and three-quarters. Because the weight of the vehicle is partially supported by the kite, the buggy glides over any potholes making the journey considerably less bumpy. “The occasional dips and irregularities in the surface of the road are scarcely perceptible,” he wrote.

Pocock tried hard to interest the public in his invention, mentioning that the Charvolant could pass free at turnpike toll gates because tolls were levied according to the number of horses the carriages were pulled by, and the Charvolant had none. Pocock also advocated numerous other uses for kites, such as as auxiliary sail power for ships, as means of dropping anchor and effecting rescues from shipwrecks.

Despite his attempts, the Charvolant failed to ignite the interest of the public, possibly because controlling the buggy was not easy. Nevertheless, Pocock and his family continued to use the Charvolant for day trips until his death in 1843.

Source…..Kaushik in



IconsOfIndia: Murphy Radio & the Baby That Got All of India Glued to News!!!


This Republic Day, we take a look at the iconic objects that collectively defined the Indian experience over the past 68 years. From things that brought the world to our living rooms to tasty treats, take a nostalgic journey down memory lane!

Members of the Joshi family would gather around their prized possession at 7 every evening. The main door of the house was open–it wouldn’t be long before the neighbouring kids, their parents and maybe even grandparents joined the regular party.

A beautifully knit blue-green cover protects the wooden radio box which is only taken off when the radio is switched on and tuned in. One member of the family reaches the top shelf to pull out the long antenna of the radio and turns the two knobs till the radio frequency sets perfectly.

In the 1960s and 70s, when the television was still a rich man’s luxury, it was Murphy Radio that brought people together.

Although the radio set was a device even the upper-middle-class boasted on owning, it was still more accessible and affordable than the TV.

Source: India Design Museum/ Facebook.

The Murphy Radio was founded by Frank Murphy and E J Power in 1929. The radio company had manufactured sets for the British Armed Forces to use during the Second World War, but they aimed to make radio sets “a homely gadget”, one that did not need military expertise to operate.

In a 1931 advertisement, Murphy had said, “Your wireless set should not be a “gadget” which only “Father” can work. It should be something which can be used and enjoyed by everybody in the family. That is why, I made it my business to see that all Murphy sets are extremely simple to use, cheap to maintain and always reliable. The constant high standard of reproduction is an outstanding feature of all Murphy sets.”

Although the founder left his company in 1937 to establish another called the Frank Murphy Radio or FM Radio, the name ‘Murphy’ stayed.

This brand debuted in Indian households in 1948–just a year after we got independence and even before we became a republic!

Immediately, it became a popular source of news and entertainment.

Source: Murphy Radio.

Jyoti Sohini, a 70-year-old homemaker from Pune, fondly recollects the ‘Murphy days’. “It was a very popular brand in those days. The Murphy Baby calendar especially was very famous. The radio set was a common possession where I lived, but even then, there would be a huge crowd at our place, eager to listen to the cricket commentary,” she tells The Better India.

Adding to the programmes that they listened to in that era, Jyoti says Radio Ceylon, Binaca Geetmala, Vividh Bharati and Pune Kendra (a local news bulletin) were popular.

Much like this family in Pune, India fell in love with the brand and its adorable mascot–the Murphy baby or Murphy Munna. Print ads featured the chubby-cheeked Rinpoche, looking inquisitively, with a finger placed near his lip, instantly garnering the adoration of Indian families.

The three-year-old Kagyur Tulku Rinpoche fascinated many mothers or expectant mothers of that era. For millennials like me, the perfect reference point is Anurag Basu’s 2012 film, Barfi, where Ranbir Kapoor’s reel life mother names him after the Murphy because “Murphy Munna jaisa lalla, Amma ka tha sapna” (Mother wanted a baby just like the Murphy’s).

Speaking to the Hindustan Times about this shot to fame, Rinpoche said, “I was three years old and used to reside in Manali. Everyone in Manali knew about the ad.

Source: Veena Bhat/ Pinterest.

The makers wanted me in the ad, as the original Murphy baby who was a girl, had died. They were looking for someone identical.”

Rinpoche went on to become a monk for about 20 years before marrying Mandakini, an actress. But that is a story for another time.

Much like Rinpoche, Mohammed Rafi composed a tagline jingle for the brand to attract more customers.

Murphy ghar ghar ki rounak, tarah tarah ke Murphy radio, la deten hain ghar mein jaan (Murphy is the pride of homes, different kinds of Murphys bring life to the home),” played as an advertisement while superstars like Sharmila Tagore, featured in print ads.

68-year-old Kamlesh Chawla speaks to The Print about his childhood when he threw a tantrum to get a Murphy Radio after the Sharmila Tagore ad.

Source: Veena Bhat/ Pinterest.

Catchy phrases that spoke of the Murphy Radio as something that “delights the home” and “sets the standard” added to the aspirational sentiment.

Kamlesh says, “I used to be a calm child. But I can only recall one instance where I had cried for many days insisting [that] my father buy a radio. He bought the radio set on Diwali. I still have a memory of placing the radio right next to the black-and-white Keltron TV set in our sitting room.”

Writing for the Caleidoscope, Levine Lawrence says, “Those were the glory days of BBC, Voice of America, Radio Moscow and our own All India Radio. Vividh Bharati, the colourful movie songs and trivia programme was transmitted by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation due to a ban on film songs on Akashvani!”

Eventually, the radio gave way for black-and-white TV, which in turn, was replaced by the colour TV and now, the Internet.

Even as we surf the web to find such fascinating stories about the times and technologies of the past, the simplicity of the radio and the magnificent events it covered–right from Nehru declaring India’s independence in the speech that still gives us goosebumps to the wars that India fought later–can hardly be replaced.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

Source……Tanvi Patel  in http://www.the better



This Pocket Watch Rescued From A Titanic Victim Has A Backstory Worthy Of Jack And Rose…

This tragic timepiece recovered from a victim’s body just fetched an enormous price at auction.                                                    Left: Heritage Auctions, Right: Wikimedia CommonsLeft: Front of Sinai Kantor’s watch, Right: The R.M.S. Titanic.


An antique, rusty pocket watch recovered from a passenger who died on the Titanic just sold for a pretty penny at auction.

The watch — which belonged to Sinai Kantor, a Jewish Russian immigrant aboard the Titanic on that fateful day — sold on Aug. 25 for $57,500, according to the Associated Press. The artifact was originally recovered from Sinai’s body after it was pulled from the icy waters by a recovery operation following the ship’s fateful sinking on April 15, 1912.

The winning bid on the pocket watch was placed by John Miottel, a collector of timepieces related to the Titanic disaster. According to Heritage Auctions, he runs the Miottel Museum in San Francisco, Calif., which already features timepieces from other notable Titanic passengers like Col. John Jacob Astor, the ship’s richest passenger, and a watch previously owned by the ship’s postal clerk, Oscar Woody.

“It will take one of the primary spots in our collection,” Miottel said regarding Sinai’s watch.

Sinai Kantor, then 34, traveled on the Titanic with his wife Miriam. The pair were both from Vitebsk, Russia and boarded the ship with second-class passenger tickets, which cost them £26 in 1912 (about $3,666 today).

The college-educated pair hoped to start a new life together in America. Sinai and Miriam aimed to study medicine and dentistry once they settled in New York City. Sinai was a furrier and he intended to sell trunks of furs to help fund their dreams, according to Heritage Auctions.

He ritage Auctions  The front and back of Sinai Kantor’s pocket watch.                        







Unfortunately, the couple would never get a chance to start their new life together. As a part of the “women and children first” protocol, Miriam made it safely onto a lifeboat. But there was no room for Sinai, who, along with thousands of others, was forced into the frigid waters once the ship sank.

A few days later, Sinai’s body was recovered along with many belongings, including the pocket watch recently sold at auction. It was not easy for Miriam to receive her husband’s belongings once his body was located. Only after an extensive legal battle that lasted for five weeks after her husband’s death was the widow given the rest of his items.

The pocket watch was sold by a “direct descendant of Miriam and Sinai Kantor” according to Heritage Auctions. The front of the watch has numerals written in Hebrew and the back case features an embossed design that depicts Moses holding the Ten Commandments.

After several days in the cold seawater and more than a century of age, the Swiss-made watch is not in very good shape. According to Smithsonian, the hands have almost completely worn away, the dial is stained, the movement is rusted, and the silver that once covered the watch’s case has eroded away leaving just the brass below.

Despite its decay, artifacts like Sinai Kantor’s pocket watch have helped keep the story of the Titanic captivating for more than a century.













Jessica H. asks: What happens to people you hear about who fall over in museums and damage priceless works of art, do they have to pay damages?

destroyed-ancient-potteryIf you’ve ever walked through a museum or an art gallery you may have noticed that a lot of the art and historical treasure on display is completely exposed. In fact, with the exception of some of the world’s more famous pieces of art, you could easily fall over and damage much of the artwork on display worldwide, right now. So, what would happen if you did trip and accidentally damage an irreplaceable priceless piece of art? As it turns out, not all that much.

This is mainly because of two things- first, museums and galleries will almost always have insurance to cover any such damage. Second, accidents happen and the people running the museums understand that.

In fact, in nearly every case we could find of a piece of artwork accidentally being damaged, no charges were pressed by either the museum or, in some cases, the owner of the art in question. In fact, it appears that the worst that might happen in such a scenario is that you’ll get banned from the museum.

For example, consider the case of Nick Flynn, a man who in 2006 tripped over his shoelace while walking around the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and knocked over three 17th century vases worth about £175,000 (~$225,000). Flynn noted of the experience,

I snagged my shoelace, missed the step and crash, bang, wallop. There were a million pieces of high quality Qing ceramics lying around underneath me… Although [I knew] the vase would break I didn’t imagine it would be loose and crash into the other two.  I’m sure I only hit the first one and that must have flown across the windowsill and hit the next one, which then hit the other, like a set of dominos. I can say with my hand on my heart that it was not deliberate … it was just my Norman Wisdom moment, just one of those unbelievably unlucky things that can sometimes happen.

The museum official’s response was to merely send him a letter advising Flynn “not to visit the museum again in the near future.” Yes, he didn’t even technically get banned; just politely asked to abstain from visiting for a while.

In fact, the museum didn’t even identify Flynn to the public to spare him the embarrassment of being known as the guy who tripped and knocked over three vases that, before encountering Mr. Flynn, had managed to survive about four centuries and a full six decades sitting on those very windowsills. (We only know his name because British tabloids tracked him down after the fact.)

In another example, this one in 2015, a 12 year old boy tripped while visiting a Taiwanese art exhibition. During his fall forward, he managed to punch a hole through a 350 year old painting, Flowers, by Paola Porpora, valued at about $1,500,000… (You can watch the video of this happening here.) The organisers of the exhibition went out of their way to assure the boy and his family that they wouldn’t be liable to pay any damages nor in any trouble legally. In fact, one of the organisers, Sun Chi-hsuan, publicly insisted that the boy wasn’t to blame.

In yet another case, in 2010, a young woman, who as per usual with these sorts of things went unnamed publicly, damaged a $130,000,000 Picasso painting called The Actor by falling into it during an art class. The result was a six inch tear in the lower right-hand corner. In this specific case, the museum officials were more concerned with reporting that the woman was uninjured than the fact that her accident had potentially wiped away half the painting’s value.

So those are pure accidents. What about more negligent cases? All evidence would seem to indicate that museums and galleries similarly seem hesitant to do anything to the patron in question.  Beyond countless selfie-related accidental destruction of art that has become something of a frequent occurrence in recent years, there is the case of a clock made by artist James Borden that hung in Columbia Pennsylvania’s National Watch and Clock Museum for over two decades before being destroyed. How did it meet its end? An elderly couple began touching and pulling on its various bits, seemingly trying to see what the clock looked like when working; this ultimately caused the clock to come crashing down. (You can watch a video of this here.) The museum chose not to press any charges nor seek compensation for the damages. In fact, as in other examples, they didn’t even berate the individuals in the press, choosing not even to name them at all.

That said, we did find one exception to this “no fault” negligent destruction of art general rule. This happened when a tourist scaled the facade of a Portuguese train station to take a selfie with an 1890 statue of Dom Sebastiao, resulting in the statue’s destruction when said tourist accidentally knocked the statue over and it shattered on the ground below. The unnamed man was later charged with destruction of public property.

As for the non-public, even in cases where museum or gallery staff damage or destroy the art, the individual usually gets off with only a slap on the wrist if it truly was an honest accident. For example, in 2000, some porters at the Bond Street auction house accidentally put a painting by artist Lucian Freud, valued at £100,000 (about $130,000), into a crushing machine…

The painting was stored in a large wooden box, which the porters assumed was empty and put out with the rest of the trash. The auction house assured papers that the porters wouldn’t lose their jobs over the matter, and that it was an honest mistake.

In another case, an unnamed cleaning lady tossed a bunch of modern art valued at about $15,000 into the garbage in 2014. To be fair to the cleaning lady, the “art” in question, created by modernist Paul Branca, was a bunch of cardboard boxes haphazardly strewn across the floor of a section of the gallery (modern art everybody). Again, no action was taken against the cleaner. (We can only hope Mr. Branca was on his game that day, and he simply took the opportunity to go full meta-on it, displaying his former cardboard box art now in the garbage bin, perhaps even increasing its value in that case…)

All this said, while it appears most museums, galleries and even artists will take the destruction or damage of their work in good humor if done accidentally (even if there was a fair bit of negligence involved), the same can’t be said if the damage is malicious. In these cases, the museum can and will press charges, and one might expect a bit of jail time.

For instance, in the aforementioned vase-smashing story, sometime later there was some thought that Flynn had smashed the vases on purpose for the publicity of it (given his going out of his way to give interviews about it and some of his comments therein, despite that the museum had so carefully avoided assigning any blame or mentioning his name). As a result, he was eventually detained for a night, though noted he was treated very well while under arrest, with the police simply trying to determine if he’d done it on purpose. Once they decided it had indeed been an accident, he was let go with no further consequences.

In another instance, one Andrew Shannon punched a Monet painting, Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat, then worth about £7m (about $9 million). He later claimed he tripped and fell and it was an accident, but security footage clearly showed him intentionally punching the painting.  When he was detained by security guards, a can of paint stripper was also found in his pocket.  He was given a five year prison sentence.

This brings us to perhaps the most obvious question that arises from all this- why is such valuable, and often irreplaceable, art stored in such a way that people can just walk up to it and damage it (whether accidentally or not).

Well one reason is cost- placing every painting, sculpture and fresco behind protective glass or under the careful watch of a burly guard is expensive. Contrary to the value of the pieces they sometimes contain, museums and art galleries often aren’t swimming in money.

A second, perhaps more important reason, is that it would disrupt the experience of viewing the art in question; ensuring the art can be properly appreciated is of tantamount importance to those running various museums and galleries. It’s noted that said institutions have to constantly strike a balance between “keeping works of art accessible to the public, and protecting them at the same time”. Such a balance necessitates a degree of trust be placed in the public to not paw at the priceless works of art on display and to otherwise be careful around them.

Bonus Facts:

  • Perhaps the most famous example of a piece of art being damaged maliciously is the time a man called Piero Cannata attacked Michelangelo’s David with a hammer, breaking off the statue’s toe. Prior to Cannata’s attack, visitors were free to walk right up to the statue to appreciate it up close. Afterwards, it was placed behind a protective glass screen.
  • In 2012 a fishbowl personally painted and signed by Orson Welles belonging to conservative firebrand Glenn Beck was irreparably damaged by a cleaner who assumed the bowl was dirty.  Contrary to his fiery personality on air, Beck forgave the cleaner, stating: “I can’t be pissed at her because here’s somebody who wants to go above and beyond. Here’s somebody who wants to do the right thing, somebody who saw a fish bowl that looks like it hadn’t been cleaned since 1940. And took it in and washed it. Scrubbed, scrubbed the signature, scrubbed all the little fishies, scrubbed it all.”
  • It appears that insurers will cough up to pay for damage to art even if the person who damages it is the owner themselves, as famously happened with casino magnate, Steve Wynn after he drove his elbow through a $139,000,000 painting by Picasso while gesturing towards it. After a few months in court, Wynn’s insurance did eventually pay up. Wynn later sold the painting for more than it had been valued at prior to the damage.
  • Speaking of garbage art, there is a definite trend of avant garde modern artists creating pieces mostly made up of literal trash that gets accidentally thrown away by cleaners. Among the many examples of this we found in researching this piece includes the case of Damien Hirst (the shark in formaldehyde guy). In 2001 a work of art of his consisting of pieces of actual trash strategically placed around a room containing other of his works was thrown away by a janitor identified only as “Mr Asare”. Asara thought it was just left over trash from the opening party the night before. Said Asare, “I didn’t think for a second that it was a work of art – it didn’t look much like art to me. So I cleared it all into binbags and dumped it.” Upon hearing about this, Hirst was reported as finding the whole thing hilarious, while a critic of Hirst’s work was quoted as saying:

    The cleaner obviously ought to be promoted to an art critic of a national newspaper. He clearly has a fine critical eye and can spot rubbish.

Source….www. today i


What a 60 ft Bridge in Salem meant for Script writer Karunanidhi ….!

The dialogues Karunanidhi penned from the bridge made cinema halls reverberate with claps and whistles of movie buffs and catapulted him to greater heights in filmdom and in politics.









Even after he became a Chief Minister and a national leader, M Karunanidhi never forgot his humble beginnings. Despite his hectic schedule, Karunanidhi would make sure to travel to a 60-foot bridge on the Yercaud Ghat road from time to time.

He often reminisced of the days when he used to sit there and pen unforgettable dialogues for iconic films like Mandri Kumari.

The dialogues he penned from there made cinema halls reverberate with claps and whistles of movie buffs, and catapulted Karunanidhi to greater heights in filmdom and in politics.

After he moved to Madras, it seemed he missed the panoramic view of Salem city from the mountain heights and the fresh air that he used to enjoy at the 60-foot bridge and longed to return to his favourite joint.










The 60-ft bridge on Yercaud Ghat road where Karunanidhi used to sit and write.

His colourful film career took flight right at Salem. In 1949-50, M Karunanidhi stepped into Modern Theaters as a dialogue writer on the recommendation of poet-cum-lyricist KM Sherif, writes R Venkatasamy, who wrote Mudhalalli, a biography of TR Sundaram, the legendary producer and the owner of Modern Theaters.

Karunanidhi had worked in Coimbatore Central Studios and at many other studios in Kodambakkam, but it was Salem’s Modern Theaters that gave him his big break into the world of Tamil cinema.

The writer of the film Ponmudi, which was under production, had left his work unfinished and TR Sundaram decided to assign Karunanidhi the task of completing it. Sundaram liked his work and Karunanidhi was employed at a monthly salary.

Karunanidhi had with him the script for a stage play based on Tamil epic Kundalakesi. TR Sundaram was impressed by it and figured that it would make a good movie if it was adapted. And this was then converted into the legendary Mandri Kumari.

American movie master Eliss R Duncan, who was the stable director of Modern Theaters, directed the movie. It was a box office hit and made Karunanidhi into an instant celebrity. The film also gave future Chief Minister MG Ramachandran a big turn in his career.

At first, Eliss R Duncan was hesitant to cast MGR as the hero in Mandri Kumari because of a minor curve on his chin. However, Karunanidhi strongly recommended MGR, suggesting that a short moustache can hide the flaw. The idea was accepted and the film took MGR to great heights in his film career and thus forged a lasting bond between him and Karunanidhi, and both, despite becoming political rivals, had a deep mutual respect for each other.

Mandri Kumari was also the first time that the dialogue-writer of the movie was given credit on the movie posters, writes Venkatasamy. Karunanidhi was one of the few celebrities recognised for his signature dialogues.

Karunanidhi’s contemporaries in Modern Theaters were lyricist Kanadasan, MGR and Janaki. The latter two became chief ministers as well. NT Ramarao, who also worked for Modern Theaters, became the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.










A rare photo of Karunanidhi with his colleagues at Modern Theaters, including late lyricist Kanadasan

Such was the platform that Modern Theaters gave to talented people. It was a one-of-its-kind studio outside Kollywood that made 118 films in all South Indian languages as well as in English. It produced the first colour film in Tamil – Albabavum Narpathu Thirudarkalum. TR Sundaram was seen as a towering figure and Karunanidhi, MGR and Kanadasan who were celebrities, used to call him, “Mudhalalli” (master), writes the biographer.

What remains of Modern Theaters today is only the iconic arch on the Yercaud Road in Salem.

Karunanidhi’s association with Salem’s Modern Theaters remembered by garlanding a poster on the iconic arch.

There is hardly anyone still alive who remembers Karunanidhi’s life in Salem at Sanathi Street in Fort Salem except Vekatasamy (79). The tiny tiled house where he lived survived till recently.

Whenever Karunanidhi came to Salem, he would drive past the arch to the sixty-foot bridge and spend time there alone, remembering his humble beginnings. For the old-timers, a stopover at the bridge will surely conjure up the unforgettable song “Varai, nee Varai,” as it was here that the song was shot.










The spot on Yercaud Ghat road where Karunanidhi used to sit and write.

The last time he was reported going to the place was in 2009 when he came to inaugurate the hi-tech government hospital in Salem.

Source…..G.Rajasekaran in http://www.the


10th August 2018