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Saturday, July 19, 2014
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The 'Maverick' Bids farewell

(With his wife Lois Garner)

I am so sad to hear the demise of James Garner, the most popular American Film and Television actor who died at home in Los Angeles on Saturday, at the age of 86 (7 April1928 -19 July 2014) He was 'Bret Maverick or Jim Rockford' to many people who followed his great performance in the TV series, 'Maverick' and 'The Rockford' Files'! He was such a great actor who made it look so simple in all his roles that people didn't take his acting seriously sometimes! He also had supporting roles in 'The Great Escape' – as a military “scrounger”. I remember him mostly in the great film 'Space Cowboys' in 2000 with the greatest of all, Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland; 'Rockford Files and the 'Maverick', and of course, in the film version of 'Maverick' with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster; 'Victor Victoria' with Julie Andrews in 1982; 'My Fellow Americans in1996 with Jack Lemmon; The Notebook' in 2004, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams; 'Sunset' in 1988 with Bruce Willis and in the Motor racing film, 'Grand Prix' made in 1966.

He starred in such films as The Children's Hour (1962) with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLain; 'Boy's Night out' in 1962 with Kim Novak,'The Thrill of it All' and 'Move Over Darling' with Doris Day in 1963; 'The Great Escape in 1963 with Steve McQueen; 'The Americanization of Emily in 1964 and 'Victor Victoria' in 1982 with Julie Andrews; 'The Art of Love in 1965 with Dick Van Dyke; 'Duel at Diablo' in 1966 with Sidney Poitier and as Wyatt Earp in Hour of the gun in 1967; 'My Fellow Americans in1996, alongside Jack Lemmon; and 'The Notebook' in 2004, 'The Great Escape' in 1963, the ever time hit War film, Garner played the second lead with Steve McQueen among a cast of British and American screen veterans including Gordon Jackson, Donald Pleasance, Richard Attenbourough, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. This film was released in the same month as 'The Thrill of it All' and both films were at the box office at the same time in 1963!

He had won the Emmy thrice, including the one for the most promising newcomer in 1958, and had 18 nominations for Emmy, Screen Actor Guild and one Oscar nomination for the 1985 romantic comedy 'Murphy's Romance', in which he played a small-town druggist opposite Sally Field. He won four 'Golden Globe awards' and had eleven nominations, including the one for the TV film, 'Heart Sounds' with Mary Tyler Moore. In 2005 he received a 'Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award' and was bestowed with many awards including a place in the 'Hollywood’s Walk of Fame! He was taken up with car racing after acting in the film 'Grand Prix' and he owned the "American International Racers" (AIR) 'Auto Racing team' from 1967 to 1969. He was also a great enthusiast of Golf and Football! It was quite a poignant occasion when a 10' Bronze Statue of the 'Maverick' was unveiled in his hometown in Norman in Oklahoma on 21 April 2006, to honour its famous son! The statue stands in James Garner Plaza in James Garner Avenue and a portion of Main Street has been officially designated the 'James Garner Corridor'!

During an interview he joked, "Marriage is like the Army, everyone complains, but you'd be surprised at the large number of people who re-enlist"! And when asked about being a 'Super Star', he said that all he wanted to do was to act in films and 'Superstardom' didn't come into it! He has been happily married to Lois Clarke since 17 August 1957 and he is survived by Lois and their daughter Gigi Garner and the adopted daughter, Kimberley. Just the mention of his name always brought a smile to everyone's lips, remembering his lopsided infectious smile! James Garner had the charm and charisma and that smile will always be remembered! May his soul Rest In Peace!




Rishi Raj Singh IPS, No More the Commissioner of Transport!
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Rishi Raj Singh IPS, No More the Commissioner of Transport, but 'The Saviour of our Women and Children' -- wherever Rishi Raj Singh is, that becomes the 'Head of the Table'!

A great loss that an upright IPS Officer like Rishi Raj Singh had to go from his position as the Transport Commissioner, and the way it evolved was even more shameful! He was the one who made people aware for the first time that there was such a department and a Commissioner looking after their road safety! The roads in Kerala were getting safer since Rishi Raj Singh became the Transport Commissioner, as he enforced the laws strictly, and then he had to go! He only implemented the law that existed in India since 2002, that makes wearing seat belts for passengers in the rear seats too, mandatory! He did not need permission from the minister to enforce an existing law – and it doesn't make any difference if that law is not enforced in other parts of India as has been stated! Rishi Raj Singh only did it to save the lives of people on the roads! The anarchy on the roads was curbed by Rishi Raj Singh within months of becoming the Transport Commissioner and our roads were safer, once branded the 'Killing Fields', and the hospitals reported less number of casualties! But then, he is not new to adversities for enforcing the law, as when he clamped down on pirate CDs and DVDs while he was the head of the Anti-Piracy Cell in 2007, and the eviction of people from encroaching of public property in Munnar in 2006!

It is sad that the ignorant and irresponsible behaviour of people in 'High places' has brought the greatest loss for the those who use our roads! The Commissioner was only enforcing the law, a law that is already in force in most countries worldwide for many years, except in the developing and low income countries. It was unethical for the Minister to cancel the Circular issued by the Transport Commissioner, without even discussing with him! The comments made by a Member of the Legislative Assembly were rather crude, insulting to the core, which demands a public apology, especially when it was directed at an upright IPS Officer like Rishi Raj Singh, who has done so much for saving lives on our roads, and especially when he was only enforcing the law of the Central government of India! One would expect certain amount of basic courtesy and a language that is socially acceptable from our elected members in the Assembly, and the said member was not even aware that seat belts were used in most countries worldwide! There was a time when we only had few cars on the road and we did not have safety devices like the seat belts, child restraints/ child seats or the air bags, but technology has moved forward. It is important that we acknowledge the facilities available for our safety and make use of them instead of crucifying the Police Officers who are only trying to save our lives or prevent injuries to those travelling in a car!

People who are unaware of the dangers of not wearing the seat belts make all the objections. If the belt is not worn properly by the driver and the passenger in the front, they will be thrown forward and the head will hit the windscreen which would be fatal – and if the back passengers do not wear the seat belts, they would be thrown over to the front in case of a collision, which would cause multiple injuries or deaths to themselves and the front seat passengers! The seat belt also helps people with back and neck problems even during a short journey. And now, it is for the people to protect themselves by wearing the seat belts in both the front and the rear seats! Also, there is a misconception among the public about the airbags: the airbag only opens up in very severe collisions within certain guidelines, it only opens once when it is really needed and deflates immediately, within 0.1 second -- it works with the seat belts preventing direct injury of head/chest over the dashboard/the steering wheel, but without the seat belts, the injuries or deaths would be higher. It is proven that the death rates are 10 times higher without the use of seat belts even at very low speeds, in case of a collision! Another belief that a child is better protected in an adult's lap or arms is due to lack of awareness -- in a collision at 25 miles/hr, a child weighing 10 kg would weigh around 300kg due to the 'g' Force ('g' Force: a measurement of acceleration felt as weight, not gravitational force), and an adult will not be able to control that and this applies to any movable objects like boxes or bags kept on the floor of the car or on the dashboard! Now that we have the cars fitted with safety facilities, it is only just that we listen to those who know the benefits of these devices!

It is worth looking into the fatalities or multiple injuries that happened on our roads or asking those survived, to see if the driver and passengers, including the children were wearing seat belts or the floor of the cars were loaded with bags or boxes instead of keeping them safely in the boot of the car; what one finds out would be an education in itself – I know quite a few people who are still alive because they were wearing seat belts, both front and rear seat passengers; Dr D Babu Paul, whose name is synonym to IAS, has stated that he always wears the seat belt even while travelling in the back seat and was saved because of the seat belt he was wearing! Wearing helmet also is important in various sports and while riding two-wheelers to prevent deaths, the seven times F1 Champion Michael Schumacher is alive today only because of the helmet he was wearing while skiing when he had the accident on the French Alps in December 2013! It is important that we accept that there is a limitation for the number of people travelling in a car and the children must be protected by a belt/ appropriate restraint – count ourselves lucky if no untoward accidents have happened so far, when more people were piled into our cars. It's human to err mainly due to ignorance, but we should be prepared to accept that these rules are for our safety, rather than waiting till we learn the hard way! Now that we have the facilities and the knowhow, we should act not out of fear of being caught, but for our safety! And without this wisdom, we would be inviting death and multiple injuries of our loved ones and unaffordable cost of rehabilitation. Media also has a big role to play when reporting accidents on the roads, to mention if the occupants were wearing seat belts or if the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or if the driver had a proper licence suitable for the vehicle.

And now, it has been said that people are scared to use the roads again, as the roads are not safe anymore because people on two-wheelers, in cars and buses have stopped following the rules, more people on the roads without helmets, buses over-speeding with no care for the speed limit, commercial vehicles with over-flowing load at high speed that causes overturning, etc! It's about time that the people realised that Rishi Raj Singh only enforced the laws to save their lives on the roads, and hence the importance of following those rules, in spite of his absence! Now that he is in charge of 'Special Forces and Traffic' and 'Nirbhaya', at least our women and children would be safe, but would they be safe on the roads from the on coming traffic?! I am sure his presence will make any department function well and get to the prime position, bringing on awareness among the people and a feeling of safety, even the most neglected or insignificant department would sparkle with a new vigour -- wherever Rishi Raj Singh is, that becomes the 'Head of the Table'!

I only hope that the new Commissioner of Transport, ASGP R. Sreelekha, will continue to implement all the rules Rishi Raj Singh started, without easing up, as it should make it easy to be strict with enforcing the law now, as there is a precedent! Best wishes to both Commissioners, Rishi Raj Singh and R. Sreelekha, in their new posts, as all we want is safety!

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