Vertical Bank Notes in Canada

Vertical currency is a type of currency in which the orientation has been changed from the conventional horizontal orientation to a vertical orientation. why a vertical currency?

People generally handle and deal with currency notes vertically rather than horizontally. People ‘tell’ (count) the notes, holding the bundle vertically.  They tend to hold an open  wallet or purse vertically while searching for notes.   Most people hand over notes to one-another vertically rather than horizontally, especially when making purchases.  All machines like Automated Teller Machines (ATM), vending machines, etc accept notes vertically.  Thus it appears that vertical note makes more sense.  Bermuda, Brazil, Cape Verde, Israel, Switzerland, and Venezuela have adopted vertically oriented currency and now Canada has also joined them by issuing a vertically oriented $10 note.  Early Chinese banknotes were also vertical, due to the direction of Chinese writing.

Many countries have different colors for their notes as it is one of the best ways to distinguish one note from another.  USA issues only green backs which traces its history to 1861, when US government issued paper money as a means of financing the American Civil War.  The backside of these notes were printed with green ink as an anti-counterfeiting measure.  Green colour was chosen to avoid photographic duplicates, since the cameras of the time could only take black and white pictures.  Thus these notes came to be known as ‘Greenbacks.’  In order to cut down on manufacturing costs, US government shrunk the size of all paper money and instituted standardised designs for each denomination, which made it easier for people to tell real bills from fakes. The small-sized bills continued to be printed with green ink because green ink was plentiful and durable and green colour was associated with stability.

Various images on the notes relate to the value of each note.  These images depict the history of the nation, its culture,  its important personalities, historical events, national achievements, monuments etc, to be educational, for its citizens and also for the others handling the currency.

On 08 March 2018, on the International Women’s Day, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen S Poloz unveiled the new $10 bank note featuring Viola Desmond.  It was the first time that an iconic Canadian woman is portrayed on a regularly circulating Bank of Canada note.  She became the first black person and the first non-royal woman ever to appear on regularly circulating Canadian notes.  Please click here to read about my earlier post ‘Canadian Woman on Banknote.’

The note also features the Canadian Museum for Human Rights—the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Also depicted on the note are an eagle feather—representing the ongoing journey toward recognising rights and freedoms for Indigenous Peoples in Canada—and an excerpt from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This new $10 note is the first vertically oriented bank note issued in Canada. This will allow for a more prominent image of Viola Desmond and differentiates this new $10 note from the current polymer notes.

Viola Desmond was selected for the new $10 bank note by Minister Morneau following an open call to Canadians to nominate an iconic Canadian woman for the next redesigned bank note. A successful Black Nova Scotian businesswoman, Desmond is often described as Canada’s Rosa Parks after she refused to leave her seat in the ‘whites only’ section at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, in 1946.

Desmond, then aged 32, was dragged out of the theatre by police and jailed. The civil rights activist was convicted of defrauding the province of a one-penny tax — the difference in tax between a downstairs and upstairs ticket.

Segregation was legally ended in Nova Scotia in 1954, in part because of the publicity generated by Desmond’s case.  Desmond died in 1965. The province of Nova Scotia apologised to her posthumously, 45 years later.


Military Lounge @ Buffalo Airport

On 04 February 2018, I traveled to Buffalo Airport, USA to pick up Reshma Sameer, daughter of Veteran Brigadier Azad Sameer. To read more about Brigadier Sameer,Please Click Here.

Buffalo Airport is 160 km from our home, about two hours of drive by car.  She was scheduled to land at 2 PM.  It was snowing in the morning and was foggy.  Hence, I left home by 10 AM, catering adequate time for a slow drive,  breaks, and crossing at the Canada-US border.  We generally cater for about 30 minutes for border crossing formalities.

As I pulled up at the US Customs & Border Protection counter, there was hardly anyone waiting there to cross.  I drove up to the counter and the officer manning the post came out.  As I was handing over my passport he asked “Sir, aren’t you watching the Super Bowl?”  “I am off to Buffalo Airport to pick up our family friend”  I answered.  Returning my passport he said “Drive safely, have a nice day, Sir.”  This quick clearance must have been due to the ‘Veteran’ Licence Plate of my car.

The Super Bowl is the final game of the National Football League (NFL), played on the first Sunday in February.  It is one of the most watched TV event in United States with more than 100 million people from the United States alone watching it.  Every year the TV commercials, known as Super Bowl ads attract a lot of interest and also money.  This year it featured Hollywood stars Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman.

I reached the Airport at noon and was looking for a place to spend two hours at my disposal.  I picked a book I had in the car and my reading glasses after parking the car in the parking lot.  As I entered the arrival area, I read a sign ‘Freedom Lounge – A Courtesy Centre for Military Service Members and Veterans.’

This lounge was setup in 2016 by WNY Freedom Lounge Inc in recognition of  sacrifices by the US Military Service personnel.  It ensures a welcoming environment for traveling Military personnel & Veterans at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport. The lounge is open to members of the military, veterans and their families free of charge.

WNY Freedom Lounge Inc is a private, non-profit organization, headed by Veteran Lieutenant Colonel Dan Walther of Kenmore, who raised funds and made arrangements for the lounge. The lounge provides morale and recreational services to members of the US Military and their families. The lounge offers comfortable seating, reading material, TV, phone, snacks, and internet access. It is staffed by veteran volunteers, veteran organizations and military supporters.

I was welcomed in by Veteran Chief Petty Officer Ronald of the US Navy.  After exchanging usual pleasantries, he ushered me in and showed me three rooms – a reception area, a kitchenette and a small living room with sofas and chairs.  He opened the fridge, well stocked with beverages and asked “What would you like to have Sir?”  “Black Coffee” I replied.  He brewed a cup for me in the coffee maker and we sat down and talked.

He said that this lounge has been created for transitioning Military personnel, who  often have significant wait times between connecting flights.  Most Military personnel often travel alone and they need a place to rest.  The lounge is staffed and maintained fully by volunteers.  It is generally open from 9 AM to 10 PM and during other times, the Information Desk staff would open it.

We spoke about all matters two Veterans would speak – about our service in the Forces, places served, family, children, aspirations, dreams, et al.  At the end I realised that we Veterans – from US and India – why from world all over – speak the very same language.  The Military is in our blood and it cannot be shed easily.

Super Blue Blood Moon

On 31 January 2018, it is going to be a Super Blue Blood Moon – crossover of three individual lunar occurrences happening at the same exact time..  It is a lunar spectacle, a stellar show in the sky that night.  Last super blue blood Moon happened way back on March 31, 1866.

Social media will be abuzz with all possible details and explanations and also many e-rumours, some grotesque and some funny.  Many conspiracy theorists will claim this spectacular lunar display as a sign that end of the world is coming near.

To study this phenomenon, one needs to look at the moon’s orbit.  It is elliptical shaped, inclined at about 5 degrees.  It is offset from the centre with the closest point from the earth called ‘Perigee’ and the farthest ‘Apogee’.  The moon revolves around the earth along this orbit in 27.55 days.  As the moon revolves, it also rotates along its axis in very same 27.55 days.  Thus we see the same face of the moon every time.

New moon waxes to a full moon and then wanes back to new moon.  This takes 29.53 days and is called a lunar month.  It is due to revolution of the moon around the earth and the earth’s revolution around the sun.

A super-moon is when a full moon occurs when the moon is at its Perigee.  The New Year Day of 2018 was ushered in by a super-moon.  A super-moon appears around 7% bigger than an average full moon  and 12% to 14% bigger than a micro-moon – when a full moon occurs around Apogee.  Super-moon appears the biggest of all full moons as it is the closest it can get to earth.

Next super-moon will appear after 15 revolutions by the moon around the earth (15×27.55) – about 413 days  as it would coincide with a full moon after 14 lunar months (14×29.53) – about 413 days (one year and 48 days).  Thus we can calculate past and future super-moons.

The term  super-moon is believed to have been coined  by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 in Dell Horoscope magazine .  It gained credence when the media titled the full moon of March 19, 2011 as super-moon.

The idiom ‘once in a blue-moon‘ refers to a rare occurrence, but in fact it appears once every 2.7 years, because the lunar month – from new moon to new moon-  is 29.53 days compared to 30 or 31 days of our calendar month.  Hence February (with 28 or 29 days) can never witness a blue-moon.

12 lunar months  (12×29.53) makes it 354.36 days, against the 365.25 days in a calendar year,  The difference of (365.25-354.36) 10.89 days adds up over 2.7 years (2 years 8 months) to about 29.5  days, which is a lunar month.  Last blue-moon occurred on July 31, 2015.

2018 has another specialty. January has a blue-moon on 31st.  As February this year has only 28 days, there will be no full moon in February.  This results in March having two full moons on the 2nd and 31st being a blue-moon again. Double blue-moons occur about 3 to 5 times in a century. The next occurrence will be 2037, while the last was in 1999.

Super-blue-moon on January 31 will coincide with a total lunar eclipse, which is colloquially referred to as  a  blood-moon or a red-moon.  The Moon will turn a shade of red as observed from many parts of the world as the earth moves between the sun and the moon, casting its shadow on the moon’s surface.  The moon takes 3 hours and 23 minutes to cross the earth’s shadow.

Even though the moon is in the umbral region of eclipse, some of the red spectrum of visible light  emanating from the sun (longest wavelength) tends to skim over the earth and reach the moon. This red spectrum is reflected by the moon when it is passing through the umbral region.  Thus the moon appears red with a copper-tone during an eclipse.

Lunar eclipse, partial or total, can only occur on a full moon day as that is the only time, the earth may come in line between the sun and the moon, casting its shadow on the moon.  Eclipse does not happen every full moon as the earth’s orbit around the sun is not in the same plane as the moon’s orbit around the earth.

(Image Courtesy NASA)

Eastern North America can see beginning stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the west before sunrise of January 31.  Portions of the Middle East and far-eastern Europe can view the ending stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the east after sunset.  Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, the eclipse will already be underway as the moon rises.  In India it would start at 6:21 PM on January 31 2018 and will be visible till 7:37 PM.  South America, most of Europe and Africa will not witness this trilogy.


Canada’s African Lion Safari


It has become a ritual for me to take our guests to the African Lion Safari, located in Cambridge, Ontario.  I have even lost count on the number of times I have been there.  I can for sure claim that I am now an accomplished tour guide for anyone visiting the Safari.  When Air Vice Marshal TD Joseph (Joe) and Sophie Joseph came calling in May 2016, how could I omit the African Lion Safari from the itinerary.

African Lion Safari, a family owned private entrepreneurship, is a picturesque and fun-filled Wildlife Park that offers not only a Safari trip of 9 km, but also conducts educative shows on birds and elephants.    This conservation theme-park showcases many different and rare animals from Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The drive through the game reserve will get you as close as you can ever get with fascinating wild life.

At the Safari, animals are exhibited in an entirely different way – visitors are caged in their cars or tour bus, and the animals are free to roam the 5 to 50 acre reserve, in their natural habitat.  The Safari Trail comprises seven game reserves that showcase a diverse collection of species such as lions, cheetahs, baboons, rhinos, ostriches, giraffes, and many other exotic and native species.

In case you take your own car, you are in better control of the time that you spend observing and photographing the animals, and it affords a great deal of flexibility. There is a  guided tour on the Safari bus, which takes just over an hour.  The tour guides offer unique and information about the animals you encounter.  Visitors who spend a full day at the African Lion Safari, often exercise both options. I prefer the drive in our car and surely there are a few risks involved.

It is worthwhile to note some interesting facts about the founder of this wonderful place. Late Colonel GD Dailley founded the Safari with a vision to create an environment for self-sustaining populations of declining wildlife species.  It opened with 40 lions  in three reserves in 1969.  Today the park houses in excess of 1,000 animals comprised of more than 100 species.


Colonel Gordon Debenham Dailley  (July 24, 1911 – May 3, 1989), was born in Winnipeg, Canada and was educated at St John’s College and at the University of Manitoba.   He was a member of the team which won the gold medal in ice hockey for Great Britain at the 1936 Winter Olympics. The team consisted mostly of British-born Canadian citizens, as well as Dailley, whose only justification for playing for Britain lay in his long years of living in England.  He led the team to European Championships in 1937 and 1938,  after which he left hockey to join the Canadian Army.

Colonel Dailley served in England throughout World War II. After the war, he remained with the Canadian Forces and held a number of posts in Ottawa and served on the United Nations Armistice Commission in Korea. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel in 1955 and was assigned to Belgrade, Yugoslavia as the Canadian Military Attaché.  In August 1960 he was appointed the base commander at Gagetown in New Brunswick.  He retired from the army in 1964.

After about an hour’s drive from our home, we generally reach the Safari gates at 9:55 AM, five minutes before the gates open.  In order to avoid the rush, it would be better to visit the park on a weekday, that too well before the schools close for summer vacations.  This gives all the time o watch and photograph the animals as there is no pressure from the vehicles following.

The first reserve is Nairobi Sanctuary which houses elegant birds like the crowned crane and white stork  with llamas and robust Watusi cattle from Africa with its large distinctive horns that can reach up to 8 feet.

Next is the Simba Lion Country, home to a large pride of lions, perched on large rocks or in the shade of trees.

If you are lucky, you can capture the lions in such poses too.

There is a separate enclosure for the White Lions.  They are same as their African Lion cousins with a rare color mutation.  They are found in the Timbavati area of South Africa.


Adjacent to the lion sanctuary  is  the Duma Cheetah Preserve.  African Lion Safari has been very successful with breeding cheetahs, who are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity, with over 40 cubs to date.


The most entertaining reserve is Wankie Bushland Trail where you will encounter baboons.  This is where the risk of taking your car lies.  These baboons have developed special skills to pull at wipers or peel rubber stripping or to simply perch atop the car’s roof and take a ride around their habitat.


The next enclosure is the Rocky Ridge Veldt representing the Savannahs of Africa.  It is home to a mix of species from the curious ostrich to the highly endangered Rothschild giraffes, as well as  zebras, eland and rhinos.


The ostriches and giraffes come very close to the cars and this shot of the giraffe saying hello through the moon-roof  of our car.

The last reserve takes you to North America which houses animals like elk and the bison.


There are also a number of entertaining, educative  and informative shows starting with the Elephant Swim.  The keepers bring the Asian elephants, all cutely holding the tail of one in front by their trunk. They range from the oldest at 35 to the youngest at two years


Next show, the ‘Birds of Paradise’ where various birds showcase their incredible intelligence like a crow cleaning up tin cans to put in a blue recycle bin to a macaw deciphering colours, as well as the red-legged Seriemas,  a long legged bird from South America, showing off their natural abilities.  The Serena displayed its skill at killing a snake by picking it up and throwing it repeatedly hard on to the ground.  They also showcased a wide assortment of birds like macaws, emu, an Indian bat,  peacock and ended the show with a talking and singing parrot.


The next is another great show, the ‘Birds of Prey’.  The flying and hunting skills predator birds are on display here.  The birds include marabou stork, a bald and golden eagle, a couple of owls and peregrine falcon ,the fastest moving creature in the animal kingdom.


Elephant Round-Up show is a display of elephant’s impressive strength, agility and intelligence.  One even paints a t-shirt in the show, holding the paint brush in its trunk.  It was heartening to see that not even once was an elephant shouted at or goaded with a pointed metal rod as seen in some parts of Asia. African Lion Safari is home to the largest Asian elephant herd in any zoological facility in North America and has one of the most successful breeding programme.  The Safari announced the birth of Jake in 2009, a healthy male calf , through artificial insemination, the first ever in Canada.


African Queen boat cruise piloted by one of the parks guides, circles a lake to see exotic birds, primates, ring-tailed lemurs, ground horn-bills, spider monkeys, black and white ruffed lemur and endangered Angolan Colombus monkeys that reside on the islands.


The shows were conducted mostly by university students, many pursuing their degrees in zoology related fields.  What an opportunity and environment for these students to earn, learn and apply their knowledge and also improve their confidence levels, communication skills and self-esteem?

How do these animals, mostly from the tropics, survive through the harsh Canadian winter?  The Safari has large barn-like centrally heated housing where the animals can go in and out.  As per the Safari staff, the Cheetahs love playing in the snow and enjoy the winters.

Since its inception in 1969, the Park has been successful in breeding 30 species, considered endangered, and 20 species, considered threatened. The original idea of maintaining self-sustaining populations of species in decline is still the Park’s priority, all while providing its visitors with a safe, entertaining, and educational environment.

Randomness of Life

Life is a random sequence of events on which neither God nor humans have any control.  It should and must remain as random as it could be.  Otherwise where is ‘thrill’ in one’s life? Where is the place for our ‘dreams’? How do we celebrate our ‘achievements’? When will we shower our ‘praises’ on our children and other humans who helped us through this ‘randomness’? When will we thank our God Almighty for all his ‘blessings’ for guiding us through this randomness?

The ‘godmen’ will try to influence you with a promise that this randomness can be controlled, but you will always be happier with very same randomness and your will to face it.  Hence, let it remain random. Let us not allow godmen and astrologers to solve this randomness.

Let us begin with our birth.  “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)  He created us in His ‘image’ indicates that we were made to resemble God.  He gave us all Godly powers- power to create, power of love, power to carryout Godly acts, power to influence others, power to control the environment around us, etc.

If He created us like Him, He would never want us to suffer for sure.  He did not want to create unpleasantness or cause sickness in our lives.  He did not want us to face disasters.  These are natural, hence random, and never a satanic or a demonic attack.  When we overcome these difficulties, we look back at our lives and grow closer to God, learn to trust Him more, and also evaluate the true value of our God gifted life.  God is not trying to test you at all as He is ever-loving and all-knowing and He knows how much you love Him.

Our birth, was a random chance, a divine occurrence that our parents met.  It was also a random occurrence that a sperm out of thousands fused with our mother’s egg in a specific condition and time.  The genes we inherited due to this fusion could well be traced back to the family tree of both our parents and here too randomness play an important role, despite all Mendel’s theory of genetics.

Now comes our physical birth.  Who decided the time of your birth?  Wasn’t it random, even if it was a C-Section?  The time of birth, based on which astrologers predicted your life span by means of Kundali or Jathakam or birth chart, who recorded it?  Was it as per the hospital clock?  Was it as per the nurse’s or surgeon’s watch?  Was the time accurate?  Wasn’t the time of your birth random?  Hence let it remain random and let us not allow the astrologer to play into this randomness and dictate how our lives are going to flow through.

As we grow up and cross many milestones, we realise this very same randomness.  Many people around us help us through difficulties we face, some known and many unknown.  Some call it a ‘miracle’ but isn’t it all humane?  God does not come down to execute ‘miracles’, but He does it through us humans and that too randomly.  We need to recognise these humans, which we ignore conveniently many times.

God himself never did any miracle, but it was always through humans -Moses split the Red Sea, Elijah divided Jordan River, Jesus cured lepers – and so on.  Lord Vishnu took ten Avatars (Dasavatharam) of humans, animals and also their combination to to restore cosmic order.

Our family friend in Canada, suffered a massive stroke and was admitted to the ICU. I was there with his wife for the 10 days.  The bed on which the patient lay was maintained at a temperature, a degree less than normal human temperature with many gadgets connected.  There was a dedicated nurse, sitting beside his bed 24 hours, monitoring all his body parameters. The nurses changed every eight hours.

The doctors attending to him said to us at least seven times that he is gone, but always managed to resuscitate  him.  They said that his complete recovery was doubtful.  On the tenth day, he came into his conscious self, surprising even the doctors, with all his facilities intact.  It was a ‘miracle’ for sure. The Canadian Government would have spend nearly a million dollars to bring him back to life.  Now, I realised where the heavy tax money we were paying was put to use.  I concluded that the tax I paid and would pay in future will not be sufficient to compensate this ‘miracle’.

After a week, I had to drive him and his wife to hospital for follow-up. Enroute his wife said that they are visiting Tirupathi (India) to offer the hair of him and their son as a vow (‘Mannath’). I asked her “Do you know the name of the Doctor who took care of your husband for those ten crucial days? Do you remember any of those nurses who sat beside his bed?” Obviously the answer was a clear “No”.

“What use is hair to Tiruppathi Balaji? You are likely to incur Rs 10 Lakh ($20,000) for the journey from Canada. In case you even donate 10% of it to educate a child in your village or buy books & blackboard for the village school, I am sure Tiruppathi Balaji will be much happier” I said.

Whatever it was, they went to Tiruppathi, shaved off their heads and returned to Canada.

In Canada, a few of our friends working as nurses have shown me ‘Thank You’ cards dropped off by patients or their relatives, appreciating their services.  There would also be many offering prayers, poojas and their hair to the Gods instead.

God executed a ‘miracle’ for you through some random person.  Now, you become the instrument of God in executing a ‘miracle’ for another random person and let the randomness prevail.

St Matthew 25:35-40  – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Ultimately, what you do for the least of these brothers and sisters, would be counted and you will reap the benefits.  You may call it Karma, you may call it destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

Coldest New Year in Canada

Mercury in Toronto region plummeted to minus 30⁰ C, with the wind-chill it felt minus 35⁰ C to minus 40⁰ C soon after Christmas.  The freezing temperatures continued through for the first week of January.  This was the coldest New Year’s Eve in 158 years.  Quebec recorded frigid minus 49⁰ C.  Taking Maximus out on a walk during these days was bit difficult.  We shortened our walks to about 15 minutes.  I always walked on the sidewalk which the city had cleared of snow, but Maximus – he is a Labrador Retriever from Canada – obviously he enjoyed the cold and the snow.  He preferred walking in the snow with his legs buried.

This record-breaking stretch of cold weather started when a mass of abnormally warm air moved up the western side of Canada and settled over the North Pole. That pushed a huge mass of frigid air known as The Polar Vortex southwards into Central and Eastern Canada.

A polar vortex is an upper level low-pressure area circulating around both of the Earth’s poles, an upper level feature in the troposphere and extend into the stratosphere.  It may not be felt directly on the Earth’s surface.  It acts as a heat pump that moves extra energy from the tropics towards the poles and keeps the Earth’s temperatures in balance.  Polar Vortex weaken in the summer and pick up strength in the winter.

Due to the rotation of the Earth, this circulation is counter-clockwise in the North Pole and clockwise in the South Pole.  The cold air gets locked into the Polar Vortex and can be scientifically explained by Coriolis/ Magnus effect.  This could well be added to the reason why the spin bowlers of the Indian cricket team (Northern Hemisphere) are ineffective in Australia and South Africa (Southern Hemisphere) and vice-versa.

The outer edges of the Polar Vortex – a low pressure conveyor belt like circulation above 60⁰ Latitude – ensures that the cold air remain in the polar regions, like water being held in a dam.  When the warm air from the equatorial region moves towards the poles, the dam like edges weaken at places.  This results in the Polar Vortex getting elongated towards the equator like a sheet of dough or chewing gum being pulled.  This winter, the elongation of the Polar Vortex covered Central and Eastern Canada, going down south to touch Florida in US.  As this elongation of Polar Vortex escaped Western Canada and Alaska, while Toronto was freezing, Alaska – much North of Toronto – enjoyed warm weather with mercury at plus 5⁰ C, about 20⁰ C above the average winter temperature.

The outer edge of the Northern Polar Vortex is like a conveyor belt moving counter-clockwise.  It is at a much lower pressure and when it collides with warmer air and when the pressure rapidly drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.  This causes ‘Weather Bomb’ or ‘Bombogenesis’.

The effect of Polar Vortex this time ended with a Weather Bomb, resulting in a storm that dumped snow on the Southeast of Canada and US and delivered near hurricane-force blistering winds, with record-breaking cold.  Florida in the sunny south also experienced snow this winter due to this Weather Bomb.

Did Niagara Falls freeze this winter due to Polar Vortex?  The Niagara was not frozen and probably never will.  It may appear to a viewer that  parts of Niagara Falls are frozen.  It is due to the miniature glaciers and long icicles forming around the mouth of the falls, but water continued to flow beneath the ice.

The mistaken frozen appearance could also be due to increased diversion of water, a  kilometer away from the falls, through tunnels and canals for hydro-electric purposes.  In winters about 75% of water flow is diverted and in summers about 50%, obviously to give a better view to the tourists.  With less water going over the falls, there is more scope for ice build up, giving the appearance of frozen falls.

The only instance when Niagara Falls nearly froze occurred in March 1848 when a preponderance of ice above the falls reduced the flow of water to a trickle.  However, there are lots of images floating over the internet claiming to show Niagara falls in a frozen state.

Power Companies have been generating hydro-electric power from the Niagara River since the 1880’s.  The ice floating on the river at the mouth of the tunnels reduce water flow into the turbines and may also jam the tunnels.  To avoid such a havoc,  an ‘ice boom’ – 2.7 km long, made of floating 30 feet long steel pontoons – is  installed each fall since 1964 by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

During the winter season, the ice breaking boats work at breaking ice formations in the river that may hinder the flow of water into the hydro water intakes along the American and Canadian shoreline.  The boats are operated by the power generation companies.

To read my Blog Post  about the Niagara Gorge, Please Click Here.

By Monday, January 8, the Polar Vortex receded bringing is above seasonal temperature in the Toronto region with a forecast of about plus 8⁰C.  This warming up melted the ice and the cold evening temperatures froze this water on the roads and sidewalks causing ‘Black Ice’, making it slippery.  As I was walking Maximus, a lady carrying a large bag slipped and fell as she got on to the sidewalk.  I helped her to get up and offered to carry her bag and escort her to her apartment building entrance.  I tied Maximus to fire hydrant and then escorted the lady while I carried her bag.  At the entrance to her apartment where I bid bye to her, she said “Thanks a ton, you really saved my day, but tell me why you helped me.”  I replied “I only helped a fellow human.  Like Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross for Jesus despite not knowing who Jesus was, I have done it for you.  Take care and Good Night.”

Projecting Hard Military Power the Soft Way in the Indian Context

As per the US Department of Defense (2013) Dictionary of Military Terms, Power Projection is a term used to refer to the capacity of a state to apply all or some of its elements of national power – political, economic, informational, or military – to rapidly and effectively deploy and sustain forces in and from dispersed locations to respond to crises, to contribute to deterrence, and to enhance regional stability.

Projection of Hard Military Power paid dividends up to the end of old War era.  With the breakup of USSR and change in the world order, even the US military was not successful in projecting Hard Military Power as was seen in Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

Soft Power Projection can be defined as ability of a state to project its influence other than through military combat into an area that may serve as an effective diplomatic lever, influencing the decision-making process and acting as a potential deterrent on other states’ behavior.  Deployment of various countries’ militaries during the humanitarian response to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami is one of the best examples.

Hard Power facilitates India’s use of military, economic and political means to influence other States; Soft Power has, through our cultural or ideological means, the ability to indirectly influence the behaviour of other States. ‘Soft Power’ also enables us to distinguish the subtle effects of our culture, values, societal ideas, developmental assistance programs and other forms of influence on the behaviour of other States, from the more direct coercive measures such as, military action or economic incentives or sanctions. A potent form of soft power is ‘intellectual power’, which entails ‘the knowledge and insight of the populace and their leaders’. The strength of India’s soft power has been the power of assimilation. India’s unique ability to embrace different cultures and the philosophy of tolerance and peaceful co-existence continues to be a source of strength for our Nation and a shining example to the world community. Smart Power would be our evaluative ability to combine Hard and Soft Power resources into effective strategies.

The Indian Armed Forces have been in the lead in projecting the nation’s Hard Power the soft way.  The political leadership, bureaucracy and media have not played up these achievements many a times, resulting in the soft power projection not achieving its full potential.

Humanitarian Aid.           Indian Armed Forces have an enviable track record in providing humanitarian aid whenever needed, within the country and also in the neighbouring countries, especially in the aftermath of a natural disaster.  In many cases, the armed forces moved its troops and resources, without awaiting a formal request from the civil administration or from the higher headquarters.

In the aftermath of the Tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean countries including India, the Indian Armed Forces provided assistance to Sri Lanka and Maldives and was able to reach out to Indonesia as well.  India provided humanitarian aid in the aftermath of earthquake that devastated Pakistan Occuppied Kashmir in 2005 providing relief materials of medicines, blankets, and food packets.  When a severe-cyclonic storm, Nargis, struck Myanmar in 2008, the Indian Air Force and Navy transported more than 100 tonnes of relief material.  The 2015 Nepal saw the Indian Army and Air Force commence relief operations on the first day itself, which was scaled up in the subsequent days.

Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations.              The Indian Air Force has come out with flying colours in the evacuation of Indian citizens and people from other countries from a third country when they were endangered by war or civil unrest (Operation Rahat in April 2015, Yemen).  During the evacuation operations during the Yemen crisis of 2015, the Indian Air Force took a lead in rescuing Indian citizens as well as foreigners trapped in Yemen, evacuating more than 550 foreigners from 32 countries, including a dozen Americans and three Pakistanis.

The 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait post Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait by Air India, the national carrier, with support of the Indian Air Force finds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner.  They evacuated 175,000 people.  This stands out as a prime example of the nation’s Hard Power, projected the soft way in a foreign land. The Indian Armed Forces repeated this act in Iraq (2003), Lebanon (2006) which included Sri Lankan and Nepalese nationals, Libya (2011), Nepal (after the 2015 earthquake- Indian and foreign nationals) and South Sudan (2016).

United Nations (UN) Peacekeeping.  A state that wants to project itself in the international arena as a major power needs to have strong presence in UN Peacekeeping efforts.  Indian Armed Forces have had a fair share in the UN’s commitments and always accredited themselves with their great deeds. India is the largest cumulative troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions over the past six decades.  India, with its demand for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC), has to prove to the world through its Peacekeeping that our demand is fully justified.  Such actions will surely ensure that India projects its hard military power the soft way, resulting in the nation having a greater say in international decision-making process.

Securing Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC).   For India, a peninsular state with a coastline of about 7500 km and with Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, it is imperative to have a powerful navy.  The Indian Navy is a three-dimensional force, capable of operating above, on and underwater, ensuring the safety and security of the Eastern sea board and its assets and India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  The oceans in Indian Navy’s area of influence has witnessed an increase in maritime terrorism and piracy coupled with illegal narcotic trade, unregulated fishing, dumping of pollutants and natural disasters.  Also, there must have been many SOS calls made by the ships and fishing boats.

In order to project hard naval power the soft way, the Indian Navy along with the Coast Guard should possess sufficient resources to mount round-the-clock, all-year-around maritime surveillance in the SLOC. Indian Navy has been an active part of the anti-piracy ops in the Gulf of Aden and in the Arabian Sea.  There are quite a few  success stories of interceptions by the Indian Navy, but they have not received adequate global publicity.  The Navy and the Coast Guard  got to be well equipped to respond to the distress calls of ships and got to pursue cases of illegal and unregulated fishing.  They got to be vigilant enough to prevent illegal dumping of pollutants in the oceans around us.

Developmental Activities.            The Indian Military has proved time and again that it can take up any task that cannot be executed by their civilian counterparts.  Run-up to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, it took seven years for a company to build a Foot Over Bridge (FOB) near the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which then collapsed. The Indian Army, which was called in to salvage Delhi’s pride executed the same job in four days flat and at a fraction of the original cost.  In the aftermath of the tragedy where 23 people were killed in a stampede on a bridge at Mumbai’s Elphinstone railway station, the government has turned to the army for a new bridge.  This will help in projecting the Hard Power of the Indian Military in a soft way.

Parades and Pageants.  The Republic Day Parade at Delhi is the best example for projecting the nation’s Hard Power the soft way.  It is the culmination of synergy between all the departments of Indian Government and is telecast worldwide as a great show.  There is a need to encourage military formations in other cities and towns to facilitate the general public to view such parades/ pageants and also telecast them for wider viewership.

Military Facilities.             Most American airports have ‘Military Lounges’ and the signage for the same is placed everywhere in the airport.  The airlines board the serving soldiers even prior to the Business class passengers.  This surely projects the power of the American Military, especially to the travellers from other countries.  Many Indian railway stations have ‘Movement Control Office (MCO)’ for the military with a lounge, but is not signaged so.  Leave alone foreign travellers, even the Indian travellers are unaware of such facilities.  By doing so, it is sure to project the Hard Power.

Home Coming Videos.   The internet and social media is filled with ‘Home Coming’ videos of American soldiers.  Indian soldiers also do ‘Come Home’, but there are hardly any clips on the internet.  The same can be orchestrated well by incorporating various videographers available in Indian towns and villages and compensating them well for the clips they provide.  Many would even execute the task without charging as most Indians are devout patriots who hold their Defence Forces in high esteem.

Recognition to Soldiers, Martyrs and Veterans.   It’s an irony that India’s capital Delhi  does not have any War Memorial post independence.  India Gate was built by British to commemorate the sacrifices of Indian soldiers in World War I.  In Canada, almost every city and town has war memorials and museums.  During the innings break of baseball games, the two team captains present a signed shirt of their teams to veterans and serving soldiers.  During the cricket matches in India, a similar act will pay rich dividends in projecting Hard Military Power.

Military History
.               India has had a chequered and colourful military history, but the reality is that many Indians are unaware of it, forget about projecting it to the world.  Many European countries celebrate and recognise the service of the Indian soldiers during the World Wars in grand scale, but there is hardly any  such celebrations in India.  This year for the Armed Forces Flag Day (07 December) was observed throughout the country to honour the martyrs, veterans and the men in uniform.  The media came out with clips of the political leadership urging everyone to wear the Flag on the day, but the political leadership did not wear the Flag as seen from various news clips.  In Canada, during the week prior to the Remembrance Day (11 November), almost everyone appearing on the media are seen wearing the Red Poppy.  The English Cricket Team that played a test match at Rajkot (November 9-13) were seen wearing the Red Poppy.  Will the Indian Cricket Team ever do so?

In order to make the Indian youth aware of the great Military History, there is a need to infuse the same into the school curricula.  The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the state Commissions must include at least 5% questions from Indian Military History in their examinations.  This will ensure that the candidates study India’s Military History in detail, to a certain extent to answer the questions.

If India is to prove that it is a major Military power and also stake its claim for permanent membership in UNSC, there is a lot to be done to project its Military Hard Power.  Doing it the soft way will be cost effective and will also enthuse the nation.