Obituary - Current Affairs for March,2017

Month and Year:   
▼ Anti apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada passes away   [03-30-17]

Indian origin anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada passed away on 28th March 2017 after brain surgery complications.

Settled in South Africa, Kathrada was one of Nelson Mandela’s closest aides in his struggle to end the white minority rule.

During his struggle, he spent 26 years and 3 months in prison, including 18 years on the infamous Robben Island.

Kathrada was among three political prisoners who were sentenced to life imprisonment after the infamous Rivonia Trial of 1964.

After the end of apartheid, he served from 1994 and 1999 as parliamentary counsellor to President Mandela in the first African National Congress (ANC) government.

Kathrada also got the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, India’s highest honour for foreign nationals of Indian-origin, in 2005 from the President of India.

As a prolific writer, Kathrada penned six books alone or with co-authors.

Kathrada was born in 1929 to Indian immigrant parents in northwestern South Africa.

▼ Sakitya Akademi award winner Ashokamitran dies   [03-27-17]

Well known Tamil writer and Sahitya Akademi award winner Tyagarajan whose pen name was Ashokamitran has died at age 86 on 23rd March 2017.

The oeuvre includes 200 short stories, 8 novels, 15 novellas and other prose writings.

Born on Sept 22, 1931 and is one of the few writers who wrote fluently in Tamil and English

He had a career spanning six decades

He won the Sahitya Akademi award in 1996 for Appavin Snegidhar, a collection of short stories.

Twice, he had been awarded the creative writing fellowship at the Iowa University.

As editor of Tamil literary magazine Kanaiyaazhi for 25 years, he maintained close links with the mainstream media and his works were published in leading journals and newspapers.

He also wrote Karaindha Nizhalgal, a fictionalised account of the Tamil film world in a novel.

He also wrote about classical music.

▼ Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein nationalist, no more   [03-22-17]

North Ireland's former Deputy First Minister and one time IRA commander Martin McGuinness died aged 66, according to Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein on 21st March, 2017.

Mr. McGuinness had resigned from politics in January, citing a serious illness and a breakdown in relations with the rival Democratic Unionist Party.

Sinn Fein refused to appoint a replacement for Mr. McGuinness in January due to a row with the DUP, its partner in a power-sharing government set up to bring peace to the Province.

That triggered local elections in which Sinn Fein made major gains against the DUP and the two parties are currently deadlocked.

This means the British government could impose direct rule of Northern Ireland from London.

McGuinness had made history by entering a government with his once bitter foe, Ian Paisley of the DUP.

The decision to share power was a key part of the peace process in Northern Ireland, which endured three decades of violence in which more than 3,500 people died.

McGuinness was a commander in the IRA paramilitary group that fought for the Province to leave Britain and join the Republic of Ireland to the south.

McGuinness never hid the fact that he had been a commander of the IRA - classed as a terrorist organization by the British, Irish and US governments.

Born May 23, 1950, he joined the breakaway Provisional IRA faction in his native Londonderry - simply "Derry" to Irish nationalists - after dropping out of high school and working as an apprentice butcher in the late 1960s.

At the time, the Catholic civil rights movement faced increasing conflict with the province's Protestant government and police.

Sinn Fein: Know More

  • Leader: Gerry Adams TD
  • Chairman: Declan Kearney MLA
  • Deputy Leader: Mary Lou McDonald TD
  • Leader in Northern Ireland: Michelle O'Neill MLA
  • General Secretary: Dawn Doyle
  • Founder: Arthur Griffith
  • Founded: 28 November 1905(original form); 17 January 1970 (current form)
  • Newspaper: An Phoblacht
  • Youth wing: Sinn Féin Republican Youth

▼ Billionaire David Rockefeller dies   [03-22-17]

David Rockefeller was the last of his generation in a famous American family that taught its children that wealth brings great responsibility.

Even as children, he and his siblings had to set aside portions of their allowances for charitable giving.

To mark his 100th birthday in 2015, Rockefeller gave 1,000 acres of land next to a national park to the state of Maine.

Rockefeller died on 19th March 2017 in his sleep at his home in Pocantico Hills at age 101.

Unlike his brothers Nelson, the governor of New York who hungered for the White House and was briefly vice president, and Winthrop, a governor of Arkansas, David Rockefeller wielded power and influence without ever seeking public office

Among his many accomplishments were spurring the project that led to the World Trade Center.

Unlike his other brothers, John D. 3rd and Laurance, who shied from the spotlight and were known for philanthropy, David Rockefeller embraced business.

Rockefeller graduated from Harvard in 1936 and received a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago in 1940.

He served in the Army during World War II, then began climbing the ranks of management at Chase Bank.

That bank merged with the Manhattan company in 1955.

Rockefeller was estimated to have met more than 200 rulers in more than 100 countries during his lifetime, and often was treated as if he were a visiting head of state.

Under Rockefeller, Chase now known as JPMorgan Chase was the first U.S. bank to open offices in the Soviet Union and China.

In 1974, it was the first to open an office in Egypt after the Suez crisis of 1956.

▼ President of Odisha Janamorcha Party Pyari Mohapatra dies   [03-21-17]

Former Rajya Sabha MP and president of Odisha Janamorcha party Pyari Mohan Mohapatra passed away in Mumbai after a prolonged illness at the age of 77. Mohapatra, who was also called ‘Chankya of Odisha politics’.

Mohapatra was the Principal Secretary to the chief minister when Biju Patnaik occupied the top post.

Mohapatra, a career bureaucrat, guided the Odisha CM in 1997 soon after the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader landed in Odisha, after the death of his father, Biju Patnaik.

He was dubbed ‘super chief minister’ and ‘Chanakya’ of Odisha politics.

He changed the DNA of BJD and made it a politically winning machine.

Naveen sent Mohapatra to Rajya Sabha in 2004.

Mohapatra helped the BJD win 109 of the 147 seats in the assembly.

But post-2009 polls, the bond between the two men showed signs of cracks.

Mohapatra lost out on May 29, 2012 when he allegedly tried to engineer a coup in the BJD. He formed his own party after that.

▼ Monsoon Man of India, Dev Raj Sikka is no more    [03-21-17]

Dev Raj Sikka, the former director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, who first proposed a link between the El Nino phenomenon and the Indian monsoon, died of a cardiac arrest at age 85.

Six out of 10 El Nino-years have been associated with below-normal rainfall over India.

Former Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) director Dev Raj Sikka, known as the ‘monsoon man’ for his role in helping scientists develop better prediction systems for India’s rainy season, died on March 19.

Sikka was honoured with the lifetime achievement award by the Indian Meteorological Society (IMD) in December 2016 in recognition of his contribution to Indian meteorology spanning over six decade.

Born in Jhang Maghiana (western Punjab) in Pakistan Sikka joined the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in 1954 before moving to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune, from where he retired as its director.

Sikka became known for his work on the prediction of monsoon - notoriously erratic in the subcontinent - and tropical meteorology, including extreme weather events.

Dev Raj Sikka was the force behind the Monsoon Mission, an India-UK scientific collaboration that aimed at setting up the infrastructure and man-power to improve the prediction at all-time scales.

This mission enabled the meteorologists to predict perfect seasonal and extended range prediction system. It also helped to predict better short and medium range prediction system.

Sikka was also chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) committee on climate change, and chairperson of the Research and Advisory Council of the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast.

CSIR: Know More

  • Established: 26 September 1942
  • Chairman: Prime Minister of India
  • Director General: Dr. Girish Sahni
  • Staff: 17,000 - contain over 4000 active scientists, over 12000 technical/ support personnel and over 5000 students.

▼ Rock and roll musical legend Chuck Berry dies   [03-20-17]

Rock and roll founding guitar legend and storyteller Chuck Berry who came up with classics like Johnny B. Goode, Sweet Little Sixteen and Roll Over Beethoven died on March 18, 2017 at the age of 90.

Berry was found unresponsive and was pronounced dead.

His core repertoire included three dozen songs, and his influence was tremendous from Beatles to Rolling Stones.

A life performer and skilled song writer, his music captured the core of 1950s teenage life.

He was singing good and intelligent lyrics at a time when others were only trying to be origin, musical genius John Lennon once observed.

Berry, in his late 20s before his first major hit, crafted lyrics that spoke to the teenagers of the day and remained fresh decades later.

“Sweet Little Sixteen” captured rock and roll fandom, an early and innocent ode to the young girls later known as “groupies.”

“School Day” told of the sing-song trials of the classroom and the liberation of rock and roll once the day’s final bell rang.

▼ AP newsman George E. Bria dies   [03-20-17]

The Associated Press journalist who flashed word of the German surrender in Italy at WWII's close, George Bria died at age 101.

Bria bore witness to Benito Mussolini's death and covered the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

George Bria was a journalist with many interests and a dedicated professional.

Raised in Waterbury Connecticut by Italian immigrant parents, Bria earned his degree from Amherst and Middlebury colleges.

He learned the reporter's trade in 4 years at the Waterbury Democrat and Hartford Courant newspapers.

In 1944, Bria was sent to the European war zone. In 1945, he reported the summary execution of Mussolini.

Bria later joined the AP postwar staff in Germany, covering the Nuremberg trials of Nazi generals and the Berlin airlift of 1948-49 flying to the Soviet blockaded city abroad US supply planes.

He rejoined the foreign desk in 1961. He was also chief correspondent at the UN in NY.

▼ Executive editor IANS Arvind Padmanabham dies   [03-10-17]

Veteran journalist Arvind Padmanabhan, Executive Editor at IANS, died of cardiac arrest.

Arvind Padmanabhan was born in 1967 at Tirunelveli, Tamul Nadu.

Padmanabhan had a long inning at IANS, joining the India Abroad newspaper that was then part of the wire service in 1999 as in-charge of its Business Section.

He was soon elevated as the Executive Editor and headed the business and economy team.

He was earlier with the PTI, The Times of India and TV18.

He was the son of G. Padmanabhan, who worked for many years with the Press Institute of India and the Indian & Eastern Newspapers Society (IENS, now INS).

IANS: Know More

  • The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju.
  • It was founded as the India Abroad News Service.
  • It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.
  • The IANS has main offices located in Noida.
  • IANS reports about India with news, views and analyses about the country across a wide range of subjects.
  • News, features and views from the subcontinent reach subscribers via the Internet.

▼ Former Puducherry agricultural minister M. Chandrakasu passes away   [03-10-17]

Former Agriculture Minister of Puducherry M Chandrakasu died of renal failure at the age of 67.

Chandrakasu is now the opposition AINRC legislator in Puducherry Assembly.

Chandrakasu was first elected as Congress legislator from Neduncadu reserved constituency in Karaikal in 1980.

He is survived by wife and a daughter Chandirapriyanga who is now the opposition AINRC legislator in Puducherry Assembly.

Chandrakasu was first elected as Congress legislator from Neduncadu reserved constituency in Karaikal in 1980. He retained the seat in the 1985 polls and became Speaker of the Assembly.

He was Minister in the Congress ministry led by V Vaithilingam between 1991 and 1996 after being elected for the third successive term from Neduncadu.

He was Agriculture Minister in the AINRC government formed by Rangasamy in 2011.

Puducherry Government: Know More

  • Lieutenant Governor: Kiran Bedi
  • Chief Minister: V. Narayanasamy (INC)
  • Chief Secretary (India): Manoj Parida IAS
  • Director General of Police: Sunil Kumar Gautam IPS
  • Legislature: Unicameral (33*seats)

▼ LS Speaker Rabi Ray passes away   [03-8-17]

Noted socialist leader and former Lok Sabha speaker Rabi Ray passed away at age 91.

He had served as the Union minister of health and family welfare in the Morarji Desai led Government from January 1979 to January 1980.

He was the speaker of ninth Lok Sabha from 1989-1991.

In 1991, he was re-elected to the 10th Lok Sabha from Kendrapada in Odisha.

He was also a ex chairman of Common Wealth Speakers Forum.

He was born on November 26, 1926 at Bhanragarh village in Khurda district of Odisha.

Born on 26 November 1926, Rabi Ray passed obtained his bachelor’s degree in History from the Ravenshaw College in Cuttack.

Later, he studied Law in the Madhusudan Law College in Cuttack.

In 1948, he joined the Socialist Party as its member. During 1953-54, he held the post of the Joint Secretary of the All India Samajwadi Yuvak Sabha.

Under the leadership of Rammanohar Lohia, Ray founded the Socialist Party in Orissa in 1956.In 1967, he was elected to the 4th Lok Sabha from Puri constituency in Orissa.

He was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Orissa in 1974.

▼ Dr. Thomas Starzl, kidney and liver transplant pioneer, is no more   [03-7-17]

Dr. Thomas Starzl, who pioneered liver transplant surgery in the 1960s and was a leading researcher into anti-rejection drugs, has died. He was 90.

The University of Pittsburgh, speaking on behalf of Dr. Starzl’s family, said the renowned doctor died on March 5, 2017 at his home in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Starzl performed the world’s first liver transplant in 1963 and the world’s first successful liver transplant in 1967, and pioneered kidney transplantation from cadavers.

He later perfected the process by using identical twins and, eventually, other blood relatives as donors.

Since Dr. Starzl’s first successful liver transplant, thousands of lives have been saved by similar operations.

Scientists regard him as the father of transplantation.

His legacy in transplantation is hard to put into words it’s really immense.

About Dr. Starzl

  • Dr. Starzl joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1981 as professor of surgery, where his studies on the anti - rejection drug cyclosporin transformed transplantation from an experimental procedure into one that gave patients a hope they could survive an otherwise fatal organ failure.
  • It was his development of cyclosporin in combination with steroids that offered a solution to organ rejection.
  • Until 1991, Dr. Starzl served as chief of transplant services at UPMC, then was named director of the University of Pittsburgh Transplantation Institute.
  • Here he continued research on a process he called chimerism, based on a 1992 paper he wrote on the theory that new organs and old bodies “learn” to co-exist without immunosupression drugs.
  • The institute was renamed in his honour in 1996, and he continued as its director.
  • In his 1992 autobiography, The Puzzle People - Memoirs of a Transplant Surgeon, Dr. Starzl said he actually hated performing surgery and was sickened with fear each time he prepared for an operation.

▼ Veteran Manipuri political leader Yumnam Yaima Singh dies   [03-6-17]

Veteran Manipuri politician and former Member of Parliament Yumnam Yaima Singh passed away in Imphal after a brief illness.

He was 95. He was first elected to the Territorial Council in 1957.

Later he was elected seven times continuously to Manipur Assembly from Oinam Constituency from 1962 to 1985.

In the state, he had held various Ministerial post such as Education, Law & Legislative Affairs, IFCD.

He also was Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly form 1980-1985.

He was elected to the 10th Lok Sabha in 1991 from Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency.

He was a brilliant writer and had composed a book titled “A Piece of Tenth Lok Sabha”.

Yumnam Yaima Singh: Know More

  • Yumnam Yaima, born on August 28, 1922, ventured into politics under the guidance of Lamyanba Hijam Irawat when he was just 17 years old.
  • He served 7 terms as Minister, Speaker and MP.
  • Late Yumnam Yaima was also an avid writer.
  • He is well known for his books Punshi Khongchat, Sita Ram and Nungsinana Hingminnaba.

▼ Raymond Kopa, French football legend, is no more   [03-6-17]

Raymond Kopa, a former Real Madrid attacking midfielder known as the “Napoleon of football” who helped the team win the European Cup three times, died March 3rd, 2017 in Angers, France at age 85.

Small in stature like the French emperor, Mr. Kopa earned the “Napoleon” nickname after an incredible performance with France in a 2-1 win over Spain in 1955.

A talented player with a magnificent eye for passing and for goal, he won the Ballon d’Or in 1958 when he played for Real Madrid.

He won the European Cup three times with the Spanish club, from 1957-59.

A versatile midfielder who could also play centre forward, Mr. Kopa was also gifted with spectacular dribbling skills and speed, qualities that have often lead to comparisons with Lionel Messi.

Mr. Kopa was born Raymond Kopaczewski in Noeux-les-Mines in northern France, on Oct. 13, 1931.

As a youth, he worked in the mines like his father and lost two bones in his hand as a result of the strenuous work.

He started in soccer with Angers before joining Reims, the club where he spent most of his career.

After winning four French titles with the eastern team and guiding it to a runner-up finish in the 1956 European Cup, Kopa joined Madrid for 52 million francs, a very high price at the time.

The first big star of French soccer, he was part of the great Real Madrid team that dominated Europe at the end of the 1950s, playing alongside Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas.

Crowned after Stanley Matthews and Di Stefano, Mr. Kopa won the Ballon d’Or 25 years before Michel Platini secured it three years in a row.

Two other French players have won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award, Jean-Pierre Papin and current Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

Mr. Kopa returned to Reims in 1959 and retired when he was 35 before embracing a successful career in the sports business.

He played 45 times for France, scoring 18 goals.

He led the French team to third place at the 1958 World Cup and was elected the tournament’s best player after helping Just Fontaine set the record for most goals scored in a single edition of the tournament (13).

▼ Former IFS, MP Syed Shahabuddin passes away   [03-6-17]

Former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and MP Syed Shahabuddin, who was suffering from prolonged illness, died on March 4th 2017. He was 82.

Born on Nov 4, 1935 in Ranchi, now in Jharkhand, he joined the IFS in 1958 but took premature retirement in the 1970s to delve into politics.

As a diplomat, he lobbied for the creation of Bangladesh and rallied support in Latin America - where he was posted at that time - for Indian intervention in the affair.

With the death of Mohammad Hashim Ansari, the oldest litigant in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri title suit, who passed away in Ayodhya on July 20 last year and now Shahabuddin, an era in UP politics came to an end.

Known for his strong and articulated stand on the Babri Masjid demolition, he wrote extensively on the matter.

Shahabuddin became president of the AIMMM ( All India Majlis-e-Mushawarat) thrice between the years of 2000-2010.

AIMMM, a joint forum of muslim organisations and national institutions was founded in 1964.

Formed in 1986, the Babri Masjid Acyion Committee underwent a split in a few years with the other faction led by then Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid Imam Abdullah Bukhari.

Shahabuddin worked to resolve differences between the two.

He founded the Insaf Party in 1989 (dissolved in 1990 and later revived).

He was involved with many Muslim institutions and organizations including the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, of which he was the President between 2004 and 2007.

Shahabuddin edited the research monthly journal Muslim India between 1983 and 2002 and again from July 2006.

He was a regular contributor to TV discussions relating to current affairs.

He has written many articles about topics ranging from Pakistan to the status of Urdu for the Saudi Arabian newspaper Arab News.

Syed Shahabuddin: Outstanding Voice of Muslim India was his biography was compiled by Mushtaque Madni and published by P.A. Inamdar. It was released on 21 April 2013.

▼ Gujarati writer and playwright Tarak Mehta is no more   [03-2-17]

Renowned Gujarati writer and playwright Tarak Mehta passed away at 87, on March 1, 2017, due to old age.

He was best known for his Gujarati column Duniya Ne Undha Chasma in which he touched upon contemporary issues with a tinge of humour.

In 2008, writer Asit Kumarr Modi, decided to pay an ode to his writings by adapting them into a TV series titled Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah.

Apart from other characters, the show also has a character called Tarak Mehta played by Shailesh Lodha.

It is India's longest running comedy show.

Tarak Mehta, Indian columnist, humorist, writer and playwright, who has garnered huge popularity for his column Duniya Ne Undha Chasma in Gujarati language translated and adapted several comedies into Gujarati, and has been popular in Gujarati theatre.

In 2008 SAB TV had begun the show Tarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah which draws its content from his column Duniya Ne Undha Chasma.

▼ Congress leader, RS member Haji Abdul Salam dies   [03-2-17]

Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Haji Abdul Salam passed away on 28th Feb 2017. He was 69.

Haji Abdul Salam is the first Manipuri Muslim to be a member of RS from Manipur.

He has been representing the state in the upper house since 2014.

He was elected to the 3rd, 6th and 8th Manipur Legislative Assembly from Wabagai assembly constituency.

Born at Heibong Makhong in Thoubal district, Haji Abdul Salam is survived by his wife, son and 5 daughters.

Chronology of events
Former President of Haiti Rene Preval passed away. He was 74. He was an agronomist and champion of the poor. He had served for two terms from 1996-2001 and 2006-2011 as President of Haiti.
Popular Bengali folk music singer Kalikaprasad Bhattacharya died in a road accident at Hooghly, West Bengal. He was 56.
Veteran British artist Sir Howard Hodgkin has died at the age of 84. Sir Howard was born in London in 1932.
George A. Olah, whose work won a Nobel Prize in chemistry and paved the way for more effective oil refining and ways of producing less polluting forms of gasoline, has died at age 89
British Formula One (F1) legend John Surtees passed away. He was 83. He was the only racer to have won world championships on motorbikes and in Formula One.
Senior legislator of Andhra Pradesh and three-time MP from Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Kurnool district Bhuma Nagi Reddy died of a heart attack at Nandyal, Kurnool district.
Derek Walcott, a Nobel Prize-winning poet known for capturing the essence of his native Caribbean and who became the region’s most internationally famous writer, has died on the island of St. Lucia. He was 87.
Former national racing champion Ashwin Sundar and his wife Nivedhitha died after their BMW hit a tree and caught fire in Chennai on 18th March 2017.
Eminent jurist and senior advocate T R Andhyarujina passed away. Andhyarujina, 84, who also served as Solicitor General during 1996-98, was part of the team of constitutional law expert H M Seervai in his initial days as a lawyer and witnessed from close-quarters the history-defining hearings in the ‘The Kesavananda Bharati Case’.
Former Punjab minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Gurdev Singh Badal passed away after prolonged illness.