We wish you a happy new year in 19 languages-via Google Translate

It is that time of the year where we take stock of how far Google Translate has progressed.

Here we take the phrase “We wish you a happy new year” and see what comes out in all the 11 Indian languages now available, besides a few other world languages. See how accurate the translations are.

There seems to be  improvement in some Indian languages such as Bengali and Hindi. Other languages such as German seem to be better served.

We wish you a happy New Year!

In various Indian languages:
Bengali: আমরা আপনাকে একটি শুভ নববর্ষ চান
Gujarati: અમે તમને એક હેપી ન્યૂ યર માંગો
Hindi: हम आपको एक नया साल मुबारक इच्छा
Kannada: ನೀವು ಹ್ಯಾಪಿ ನ್ಯೂ ಇಯರ್ ಬಯಸುವ
Malayalam: ഞങ്ങൾ നിങ്ങൾക്ക് ഒരു ഹാപ്പി ന്യൂ ഇയർ നേരുന്നു
Marathi: आम्ही आपल्याला एक नवीन वर्षाच्या शुभेच्छा
Nepali: हामी तपाईं सुखी नयाँ वर्ष इच्छा
Punjabi: ਸਾਨੂੰ ਤੁਹਾਨੂੰ ਇੱਕ ਖੁਸ਼ੀ ਨਿਊ ਸਾਲ ਚਾਹੁੰਦੇ
Tamil: நாங்கள் உங்களுக்கு ஒரு இனிய புத்தாண்டு வாழ்த்துக்கள்
Telugu: మేము మీరు ఒక హ్యాపీ న్యూ ఇయర్ అనుకుంటున్నారా
Urdu: ہم آپ کو ایک نیا سال مبارک ہو چاہتے ہیں

And other languages:

Arabic: نتمنى لكم سنة جديدة سعيدة
Chinese (simplified): 我们祝你新年快乐
French: Nous vous souhaitons une bonne année
German : Wir wünschen Ihnen ein frohes neues Jahr
Latin: Optamus tibi felix novi anni
Portuguese: Desejamos-lhe um Feliz Ano Novo
Russian: Мы желаем вам счастливого нового года
Spanish: Le un Feliz Año Nuevo deseamos


People born on December 25

To begin with, Jesus Christ’s real birth date is not known. It is generally understood that he was born between 6 BC and 3 BC. Even Pope Benedict XVI has written on these discrepancies:


Numerous articles can be seen on the net which mention that his birth was not in the year 1 BC or 1 AD, there being no zero year used by historians. 1 BC was followed by 1 AD. (However astronomers do have a zero year between 1 BC and 1 AD.) For all these details see


Anyway, it is interesting to see that a number of prominent figures in recent South Asian history were born on December 25. The link below is useful for locating famous people born on your birthday and even on the same day and year when you were born.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/December_25#Births

1861: Madan Mohan Malaviya

1876: Muhammad Ali Jinnah

1924: Atal Behari Vajpayee

1949: Nawaz Sharif

(There was a time when the Indian and Pakistani PMs shared the same birthday)

But it would be fair to say that this scientist and mathematician was the most influential of those born on December 25:

1642: Isaac Newton*

From other walks of life we have actors, film-makers and musicians:

1899: Humphrey Bogart

1919: Naushad Ali

1936: Ismail Merchant

1949: Sissy Spacek

1970: Nagma


1891: Clarrie Grimmett

1975: Marcus Trescothick

1984: Alastair Cook


1916: Ahmed Ben Bella

1918: Anwar Sadat

1971: Justin Trudeau


1887: Conrad Hilton

1890: Robert Ripley

* It has been pointed out that Newton was born on 25 December 1642 according to the Old Style or Julian calendar then used in England. It should be 4 January 1643 according to the New Style or Gregorian calendar now in use. See if this makes things clearer:



Man of the moment-Kirti Azad

Kirti Azad is not the only Indian international cricketer to have entered politics-but his impact on cricket may well have been more than that of more distinguished players who went into politics (e.g. Navjot Sidhu, Chetan Chauhan and Azharuddin).

He was born into a political family-his father Bhagwat Jha Azad was a freedom fighter and was briefly a Congress CM of Bihar in 1988-89. In contrast, Kirti is now a third-term MP of the BJP, presently representing Darbhanga. This is what the Lok Sabha website has to say:

But we now concentrate on his relatively undistinguished cricketing career which nevertheless had some high points. We start with the Cricinfo player page:


As you can see, Cricinfo does not think he is important enough to rate a photograph.

It can be seen that he played 7 Tests with a top score of 24 and best bowling of 2-84. By some criteria one could consider him among the worst Test players of all time, since there might be only a handful of players who played that many Tests without scoring above 30 or taking a 3-for.

His main contribution to Indian cricket was in the 1983 World Cup, where he played a small supporting role in most of the matches-but came good when it was needed in the semi-final against England:


He took a miserly 1-28 off 12 overs (while Mohinder Amarnath took 2-27).

The one wicket he took was that of Botham.

Old-timers would remember how he almost single-handedly won a match against Pakistan-which was not an official ODI or even a List A match:


In domestic FC cricket he had a fairly impressive record, more as a batsman (20 centuries) than a bowler (5 fivers, no tenner).

But he seemed to have some strange power over England’s batsmen. His two best bowling analyses were against touring MCC teams. His best innings figures of 7-63 and match figures of 9-134 came in 1981-82 when he was still in contention for Tests and ODIs:


Much later, long after he had played his last match for India, he took 6-30 for Delhi against the ill-fated 1992-93 MCC team:


This was one of the last FC matches he played.

Anyway, the contest between a BJP backbencher and top leader is likely to generate enough heat and light in the days to come.

Update: As expected, Kirti Azad was suspended from the BJP on disciplinary grounds on Dec 23.



The Satpura Railway still exists!

In the last few months, there have been a number of articles in the popular media and rail fan groups regarding the demise of the network of narrow-gauge lines in Central India known as the Satpura Railway, now coming under the South East Central Railway.

If you were to take these articles seriously, you would imagine that these lines were being permanently closed down leaving this area without rail communication. They are, of course, being converted to broad gauge and this network has been gradually converted over the last decade. You can expect the conversion to be over within a couple of years.

Here we have an 1964 map of the then SER which shows all the NG lines long before Project Unigauge was even thought of.

SER 1964 001

Note the numerous NG branches all over the zone. However, the Raipur branches and everything east were not part of the Satpura system.

For the moment, however, there still exists one functioning narrow gauge line between Nagpur and Nagbhir which has three pairs of trains a day. This will also face the conversion axe sooner or later, but you can certainly travel there now. Thanks to local expert Alok Patel for this tipoff.

Here you can see the overall list of trains (from an official website, but errors are not impossible):


Nagpur Nagbhir


Nagbhir Nagpur

Here are the timetables for the first trains in either direction:


Nagpur Nagbhir TT


Nagbhir Nagpur TT

Note that the station of Moti Bagh was known for its narrow-gauge loco shed and other workshops (besides a small railway museum) but was not used for regular passenger services. I do not think it appeared in passenger timetables until now.

For instance, it is not there in the printed timetable of 2014. That shows the first train leaving from Nagpur at 05.55. The second train given above is shown at Itwari at 10.10/10.15 and then at Nagpur at 10.45.

So the laments for the demise of the narrow gauge Satpura Railway were a little premature. Ride this 110-km route south of Nagpur while you can. There are also a few BG trains running through Nagbhir. These include an express between Chennai and Bilaspur (once weekly in each direction) and between Yesvantpur and Korba (twice weekly).

This map showing part of Nagpur may be helpful:


Incorporating a few comments received from my old friend Alok Patel:

“Conversion has been sanctioned for the NGP-NABN line but no serious allocations done yet. I suspect they will want to complete the main Satpura lines first since the Nagpur-Chhindwara-Jabalpur-Gondia network had surprisingly high traffic. Also note that the station code for Nagbhir Narrow Gauge has been changed to NABN to signify NG. The BG station must now be using the code NAB”

“I haven’t been to MIB for a long time now but the trains don’t start from MIB per se. They start from the MIB yard, go to NGP, reverse at NGP, go down the same route till the triangle at MIB where they stop to pick up passengers, bypass the MIB yard at the triangle and continue towards Itwari. I suspect the one kilometre or so long NGP-MIB stretch won’t stay operational for much more time, now that the key Chhindwara side traffic has ceased to exist.”



Spotlight on the Arakkonam airfield

Arakkonam (formerly Arkonam) is well known to railway followers because it is an important junction as well as electric loco shed, but has recently come into prominence because the inundation of Chennai airport caused some commercial flights to be operated from there. To be precise, this is the NAS (Naval Air Station) at Arakkonam which the Navy calls INS Rajali.

Most basic information can be seen here:


Although it started off as an IAF base in the 1940s, it was abandoned soon after WW2 and was reactivated for the long-range reconnaissance aircraft of the Navy during the late 1980s. The TU-142s and now the Poseidon P-8s have made good use of the 4.1 km runway which has been claimed to be the longest military runway in Asia.

Here you can see the locations of Chennai international airport (MAA), IAF Tambaram and INS Rajali marked with the small gold stars.

Chennai area

One can see that INS Rajali is about 50 km west of MAA, while IAF Tambaram is only 10 km away. At least there is no chance of a confused airline pilot landing his 747 at INS Rajali by mistake, though this has happened once at Tambaram in recent years.

Here is a closer view of INS Rajali:

INS Rajali

Though it is not very clearly shown, the railway line from Chengalpattu runs along the highway right by the boundary wall of the base. The Railways have been planning to electrify this section for a long time but the Navy have objected to the presence of the traction equipment being an obstacle to the flight path. Thus an alternative line is being built further from the airfield, but this seems to have dragged on for several years. This new line is not shown in the map. Meanwhile  the diesel-hauled trains continue to run past the base.

This is not the first time that military airfields have been used a a backup. Sulur for Coimbatore and Avantipur for Srinagar are other examples. The inaugural flight of Jet Airways to Coimbatore did land at Sulur by mistake. Apart from the Saudia 747 which wrongly landed at Tambaram, there have been several incidents including a mid-air collision and another which totalled a DC-8 which were caused by the proximity of BOM to Juhu. More about these later.

With all these movements of heavy aircraft, it is fortunate that this airfield has not seen a major aviation accident yet. However, India’s experimental AWACS on an Avro frame did crash a few km away in 1999, apparently putting an end to DRDO’s efforts in that direction.

Overview of Tests between Australia and New Zealand

With the conclusion of the pink-ball Test at Adelaide, Australia won the 3-Test series against New Zealand 2-0. So far 55 Tests have been played between these countries, and Australia lead 29-8 with 18 draws. In Australia there have been 31 Tests with Australia leading 17-3 with 11 draws, and in New Zealand Australia leads 12-5 with 7 draws.

Of the three victories by New Zealand in Australia, two were in 1985-86 (thanks mainly to Sir Richard Hadlee) and one in 2011-12.

We now look at figures for all Tests between these countries. The first was at Wellington in 1945-46 and was the first Test in any country after WW2. The result was so one-sided that matches between these countries did not resume until 1973-74.

It is worth looking at the scorecard of that first Test, in which several of Bradman’s invincibles made their debuts. Bradman himself did not play, and Australia’s captain was WA Brown.


First we look at the most runs (750 and above):

Aus v NZ-most runs

Dominated by players of the past, only Ross Taylor from the present. Border has the most hundreds (5), while he and Boon have the most (11) scores above 50.

Now for highest averages (for a minimum of 20 innings batted):

Aus v NZ-highest averages

Langer is somewhat unexpectedly at the top. Only McCullum is there among current players. And the one at the bottom is predictable.

Highest individual scores (150 and above):

Aus v NZ-highest indiv scores

Here there is more contribution from the current players-as the record scores for Australia and New Zealand were made in the current series by Warner and Taylor respectively. Interestingly no one had made 290 in Tests before.

Now for bowling-most wickets (25 and above)

Aus v NZ-most wickets

Headed by Sir Richard and Mr Shane. Only MG Johnson from current players.

Next we come to bowling averages (minimum 2000 balls bowled):

Aus v NZ-best bowling avgs

The same pair at the top, with Cairns senior and junior just above the hapless Chris Martin at the bottom.

The best economy rate is 2.08 by the under-rated Chatfield, while Hadlee has the best strike rate of 46.9.

Best innings bowling: (6wi and above)

Aus v NZ-best innings bowling

Dominated by Hadlee, with only Hazlewood from recent times.

Best match bowling: (8wm and above)

Aus v NZ-best match bowling

As above, dominated by Hadlee (with a bit of Warne) with only Hazlewood from recent times.

Now for fielding-most dismissals: (20 and above)

Aus v NZ-most dismissals

Rod Marsh has the most dismissals (58) and catches as a keeper (57), Smith the most stumpings (5) and Border the most catches as a non-keeper (31).

Looking at dismissals per innings: (minimum 20 innings fielded)

Aus v NZ-best dismissal rate

Rod Marsh leads with 2.230, while MA Taylor has the best rate by a non-keeper (1.136)

Coming to the end, we look at all-round performance.

The criteria for determining who is an all-rounder are debatable, anyway you can see what I have used at the top of this table.

Best all-round performance (career):

Aus v NZ-overall allround

Warne surprisingly comes out on top as he was more successful with the bat than Hadlee in these Tests.

Finally we come to best all-round performance in a match: (at least 50 runs and 5 wickets)

Aus v NZ-match allround

Hadlee’s fifty plus 15 wickets would take pride of place, including the best match bowling by anyone scoring a fifty in the same match. CL Cairns’s 2001 performance is also noteworthy, while Dodemaide achieved the rare feat of a fifty and fiver on debut.

(All this will have to be revised when Australia visits New Zealand in February 2016).





Lies, damn lies and statistics in cricket

It has been said that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. And Test cricket is a good place to check this out.

After the conclusion of the India-South Africa series we ask Statsguru a few questions. The answers will not be what you expect.

Q1: Who is the best opening bowler in Tests in the 2010s?

A1: Consider all those who bowled at No 1 or 2 since 01 Jan 2010 and took at least 50 wickets while doing so, and rank them by their bowling averages.

Opening bowlers since 2010

Didn’t realize it was a spinner, did you?

Q2: OK, something more conventional. Who is India’s best opening bowler of all time?

A2: Consider all Indian bowlers who bowled at No 1 and No 2, and took at least 50 wickets while doing so. Rank them by their bowling averages.

India-opening bowler

Probably you should have seen that coming.

Q3: OK, but wasn’t Kapil Dev India’s greatest all-rounder?

A3: Let us consider all Indians who scored the double of 1000 runs/100 wickets, and rank by them by the difference between their batting average and bowling average. This measure is as good as any other means for ranking all-rounders.


Well, you should have seen that one coming too.

It is up to you to decide how seriously you take these figures.