Monday, February 27, 2012

Rhythm On The Railways

Travelling after all is discovering. And, it is quite often the journey, rather than the destination, that presents us many pleasant moments of life. During the turn of this decade, we decided to travel to a peaceful corner of our beautiful country, without knowing how a simple train journey would offer us such a romantic experience.

The train to Murshidabad, from Kolkata starts early in the morning and the journey takes about 5-hours. The train is called Hazarduari Express – named after the palace with more than one thousand doors in Murshidabad. It's a real train for real people. So, to be on the safe side, we reserved our seats, as someone told that on the Haat (weekly market) day the train would get overcrowded - somewhere on the way. Not yet being a 'heritage route' means it is spared the mock interiors and trapping of luxuries. The train, however, is clean with padded seats of earlier vintage and overall interior giving a charming retro-chic look.

As the train left Sealdah, varied landscape of a changing society was flying past our windows - bustle of the mega city, with its tall buildings and squalid extremities, followed first by a decaying industrial landscape of the outskirts and then, after Kalyani, giving way to a distinctly rustic sceneries. Gradually green became predominant colour in this fertile outlying area. During this period we saw mainly office goers and business people as our co-passengers and a busy group of hawkers selling a wide assortment breakfast.

But, The Hazarduari Express is not a mode to travel with faceless crowd, but to make your little discoveries. So, when the train reached Krishnanagar, the outlook inside the train changed quite a bit. Here we met many rural gentries and rich landlords entering the reserved car. They happened to be very keen to talk to the “visitors” from Mumbai, which we readily reciprocated. Though from hinterland, they were educated, knowledgeable and pleasant to talk. Most of them were talking proudly about their children, who were doing well all over India and abroad. Yes, here the people are known not by how much money they have but how educated and well placed are their children.

After Krishnanagar it is a single – line rake and as such the train had to take longer stop in smaller stations – in-front of colourful fields of mustard, rice and pulses. We took a look at the crowded unreserved compartment full with people carrying their produce to the Haat. Everyone seemed to be happy without any apparent reason. We also noticed absence of any beggar inside the coach or on the platform. It seemed that somewhere land reform, mass education and decentralization of power by Panchayati Raj were really working in this rural hinterland.

The passengers, mostly from the reserved compartments, came down during such halts and the platform became abuzz with their discussions on myriad subjects, ranging from family happenings, neighbourly gossip, national politics, American meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan, some new plays launched in Kolkata and off course, football and cricket. In a single place, we could capture the gloriously lazy pace of Bengali suburban and rural life, in all its senses and sensibilities.

But, off course the best bit of Bengali culture was to be enjoyed inside the train. With luck, a ride on the Hazarduari express can be more than just a ride from point to point. I was told that, in this route one can enjoy great folk dances, talented percussionist and group of men doing reasonable rendition of popular one-act political plays with hardly any prop. Luckier ones can even expect a puppeteers and even a travelling magician – their performances putting smiles to the faces and twinkles to the eyes of the weary passengers.

So, we were expecting to taste a few samplings. And, just after Plassey, an enterprising fellow entered with a bright “Namashkar, Good Morning!” hung a wine-red velvet curtain between the two chromed posts at the end of the car and painstakingly started up his Karaoke player. He gave some renditions of famous Bollywood and Bengali modern songs interspersed by his interesting cues and exchanges with the audiences and his grand and gracious “thank yous”.

The intrepid Bengali Baul singer was the next performers with his song about touching the divine grace through the earthy life. The sound of the string of his ektara was reverberating inside the coach and wordings of the song entertaining as well as getting the travelers to take a pause and think about the frivolous-ness of daily life. Next came a fantastic flute player giving magnificent rendition of some well known Bengali classic tunes. It, indeed, turned out to be a veritable cultural show.

Time flew unnoticed and the journey from Plassey to Murshidabad seemed so short. We remembered that Robert Clive defeated nawbab Siraj-ud-Ullah in that famous battle of Plassey and ushered British Company rule in India. And, Murshidabad had the distinction of having grand palaces built by the British for subsequent nawbabs. The intention was to convert Indian rulers to British puppets and totally change the culture of the people.

Happily, our train journey to visit Murshidabad allowed us to get an interesting perspective of our country. We understood that the colonial power might have had exploited and looted us of many things, but in their two-century long rule they were not successful in breaking our cultural mooring and Indian-ness. And, I am sure none will be able to do that to us in any foreseeable future.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Infertility of Indian Establishment

The man who gave the world in vitro fertilisation (IVF) has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Dr. Robert Edwards (85) was named winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine on October 4, 2010 for his work, which has helped millions of couples around the world have children, popularly known as test tube babies.

“His contribution represents a milestone in the development of modern medicine,” said the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, which selects the Nobel Prize winner for Medicine. "This discovery represents a monumental medical advance that can truly be said to confer the 'greatest benefit to mankind'," it continues. "Human IVF has radically changed the field of reproductive medicine."
Robert Edwards and his obstetrician colleague Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988, announced the birth of Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, on 25 July 1978. Since then, 4 million babies have been born thanks to IVF, and the method has become routine worldwide, accounting for 2 to 3 per cent of all births. Infertility affects one in 10 couples worldwide, of whom an estimated 19-20 million live in India, according to the World Health Organization.

Yet at the time, Edwards and Steptoe had to fight widespread hostility. Throughout their quest to develop IVF they faced opposition from religious leaders who expressed moral outrage, from politicians keen to reduce the world's population, and from scientists who warned that the technique would be unsafe. Their request for key funding was denied by the UK's Medical Research Council, and only succeeded thanks to a rich donor whose identity remains a secret.
India’s Unsung Hero

This is the time to remember the bureaucratic catastrophe that has ultimately caused robbing of the credit, due to Indian researcher Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay, of concurrently working on similar project which ended successfully. Indian scientist had a rightful claim of a share in this Nobel Prize but, instead, he ultimately committed suicide when he failed to convince his colleagues and an inept authority sponsored enquiry board of his achievement.

Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay created history when he became the first physician in India (and second in the world) to perform the In vitro fertilization resulting in a test tube baby "Durga" (alias Kanupriya Agarwal) on October 3, 1978, just 67 days after Marie Louise Brown. In this research Mukhopadhyay was assisted by Sumit Mukherjee and S.K. Bhattacharya. As their efforts were concurrent, Dr. Mukhopadhyay definitely deserved the credit for the original success of IVF techniques together with Dr. Robert G Edwards and Dr. Patrick Steptoe. Instead this historic and pioneering feat was mired in controversy generated by jealous professional contemporaries and ignorant and inept bureaucrats in India.

IVF - Cure for Infertility

Dr Mukhopadhyay and Dr Edwards started working on infertility related issue in the 1950s and 1960s respectively. Their aim from the outset was to find a way of fertilising human eggs outside the body then returning them to the womb. However, it is now known that Dr. Mukhopadhyay, on the one hand used much advance technique of fertilization and much simpler technique of ovum removal. It was necessitated due to very rudimentary facilities and support he had from other advanced techniques, which was not prevalent in India at that time.

In his research Dr. Edwards had joined forces with Patrick Steptoe, who had pioneered the technique of laparoscopy in the UK and Steptoe's "keyhole surgery" technique made it possible to extract mature eggs from a woman's ovary. At first they observed the evolution and development of the Ovum for a long span of time and then collected it through a small incision. Ovum thus collected is then fertilized by sperm on a small disc. When it forms into an embryo scientists placed it into the womb. But Mukhopadhyay, without any access to Laparoscopy specialist, collected ovum by performing a small operation in the vagina. He increased the number of ovum collected by using a hormone and developed embryo. Lastly, he placed it in the womb.
Edwards and Steptoe relied on the woman's natural menstrual cycle to get the eggs to mature, whereas Dr. Mukhopadhyay’s used Ovarian Stimulation technique using certain hormones. Today ovarian hyper stimulation is the standard procedure for all women subjected to IVF not natural menstruation cycle followed by Dr. Edwards. It is noteworthy that Mukhopadhyay was far ahead of his time in successfully using an ovarian stimulation protocol before anyone else in the world had thought of doing so. Dr. Mukhopadhyay also used cryogenic preservation of Embryo at very low temperature, a technique which has now become standard procedure.
End of Experiment

Unfortunately, immediately after this historic success, Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyaya started facing social ostracization, bureaucratic negligence, reprimand and insult instead of recognition from the state government and refusal of the Government of India to allow him to attend international conferences. Frustrated and in failing health, Mukhopadhyay killed himself on June 19, 1981.

Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay’s effort was not initially accepted as an IVF procedure frivolously sighting lack of scientific documentation. In November 1978, an ‘expert committee’ was appointed by the Government of West Bengal under the medical association to decide over the fate of a convict named Dr. Subhas Mukhopahyay. His charges were, one, he claimed to be the architect of first human test tube baby named Durga (3 October 1978). Secondly, he announced the report to the media before being cleared off by the Government bureaucrats. Thirdly, he made this impossible possible with few general apparatus and a refrigerator in his small southern avenue flat while others cannot even think of it, although, having all the expensive resources in their hand. Fourth and most important allegation, he never let his head down by the Government Bureaucrats and his straightforwardness always attracted jealousy out of his peers. The expert committee was presided over by a Radio physicist and it was composed of a gynecologist, a psychologist, a physicist and a neurologist. None of them were having any knowledge about modern reproductive technology. “Where did you keep these embryos?” Mukhopahdhyay said “…in sealed ampoules.” Then he asked again “How did you seal an ampoule?” Speechless Mukhopadhyay could only utter “pardon?” From here started a questioning and counter questioning session which need not to be mentioned was utterly meaningless. “Oh! Embryos do not die while sealing?” there were people who never saw embryos in the entire span of their lifetime.

The Committee put forward its final verdict, “Everything that Dr. Mukhopadhyay claims is bogus.” Thanks to his peers and Government bureaucrats he was ultimately handed with a punishment. He had been transferred to ophthalmic department which sealed his prospect to work on hormones.

An insulting silence carried on with every passing day. According to Scientific records, Harsha Chawda, born 16 August 1986 at KEM Hospital, Mumbai, became the first human test tube baby of India. The credit for this achievement went to T.C Anand Kumar, Director of IRR (ICMR) supported By Dr. Indira Hinduja.

Late Recognition

A country's pride was eventually restored after 27 long years when the Indian and international scientist communities had began accepting Dr Subhas Mukhopadhyay's claim and recognising India for producing the world's second test-tube baby Kanupriya Agarwal alias Durga.
Ironically this turn of event is attributable to TC Anand Kumar himself. Kumar took the crown off his own head after reviewing Subhash Mukhopadhyay's personal notes. In 1997, he went to Kolkata for participating in the Science Congress. It was there that all the research documents of Mukhopadhyay were handed over to him. After meticulously scrutinising and having discussions with Durga’s parents, he became certain that Mukhopadhyay was the architect of first human test tube baby in India.
In 2005, The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) officially acknowledged that Dr Mukhopadhyay was indeed the creator of India's first test-tube baby. Dr. Kumar himself took initiative in setting up a research institute in reproductive biology in memory of Mukhopadhyay. And then, Dr. Mukhopadhyay’s name found a place in the ‘Dictionary of Medical Biography,’ published by World Foundation, which enlists names of 1100 Medical Scientists from 100 countries around the world for their path breaking contributions to the medical science.

Collective Failure

While the so called establishment failed to recognize the success of Dr. Mukhopadhyaya, our media also showed a lack of depth and understanding in such issues. Even today our media reports that his success was not recognized due to lack of documentation, which the subsequent ICMR study actually conclusively refuted. Indeed, our establishment created all barriers so that his scientific papers could not be published in reputed journals; he was also debarred from presenting his papers in a major seminar in Tokyo in November 1978. Dr Mukhopadhyay's story was immortalised in the 1991 film Ek Doctor Ki Maut starring Pankaj Kapur and Shabana Azmi and directed by Tapan Sinha.

We repeatedly fail to recognize the bias and injustice to our scientific achievement and always failed to project and lobby for recognition in international forum. So, as a result the pattern injustice has become well accepted even by the victim. Today, like in the past, hardly any Russian or developing country’s scientists get top recognition in science. At the same time, if they change their work place to any western countries, then Nobel and similar recognition becomes quite achievable. This very subtly project that those western countries as the crucible for real scientific development and indirectly turn our scientific and technical image as kind of backward.

Another great instance of ignorance and bias of Nobel committee was shown in case of Italian Guglielmo Marconi who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1909, while before him Dr. Jagadish Chandra Bose invented and demonstrated wireless transmission. Indeed, during the 150th Birth anniversary of Dr. Bose, in 2009, Marconi’s grand son F. P. Marconi categorically stated that “The real inventor of Wireless or electromagnetic rendition was not Gugliemo Marconi, but Jagdish Chandra Bose”! He also said “Guglielmo Marconi had probably interacted with Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose in the spring of 1899 in London before sending and receiving the first wireless message across the Atlantic in 1901.” The son of D P Marconi, senior Marconi’s eldest daughter, earlier visited the city in 2006 and was “astounded” to find at Bose Institute the detector or coherer that his grandfather had used to receive the transatlantic wireless signal. “The instrument was critical to radio communication,” acknowledged Marconi. Indeed, on the website of the Marconi International Fellowship Foundation, the grandson admits that the senior Marconi “had not invented anything really new… what was new was the use to which he put the old concepts and techniques in order to exploit them for a very practical purpose… He was not a great scientist… but could foresee the commercial potential of wireless telegraphy”.

In the past there have been several other examples. In 1902, Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his remarkable work on malaria. His Indian able and equal assistant Dr. Kishori Mohan Bandyopadhyay was denied an equal credit and was awarded a gold medal by King Edward VII, as a kind of consolation prize. In 1922, Dr. Upendranath Brahmachari invented Urea Stibamine, the potent drug to cure Kala-azar which saved millions of life in India and rest of the tropical world. Dr. Brahmachari missed the Nobel, though he was nominated for it in 1929. Eminent and path breaking Indian scientists like Homi J Bhaba, the inventor of the concept of nuclear fission energy development, or Dr. Meghnad Saha or Satyendra Nath Bose of Boso-Einstein theory fame were never considered for Nobel prize in the past.
Indian authorities and even the traditional media have shown a lack of empathy and concern in such vital issue. In any other country, the authorities and countrymen would have tried their best to recognize such world beating scientific feats, for improving its own image. In any other modern competitive nations the flow of such recognition and award would have come first from the national authorities itself. So, when we ourselves failed to honour scientist like Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay with a Bharat Ratna or a Padma Vibhusan, how we can we expect outsiders to give justice to such genius?

It is time that Indian Intelligentsia starts understanding the importance of the projection and recognition of our scientific achievements. It is also high time that our historians arrange for proper archival of all relevant facts and figures of past successes so that our future generation understands and be proud of their scientific heritage, though many of such scientific achievements might have missed recognition from the western world.

--- by U.Keci

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dr. A. Q. Khan Story - The Great Proliferation Fairy Tale

A plethora of newspaper stories and editorials and a number of books have been continuously bombarding us with the story and pet theory that Dr. A. Q. Khan, the father of Pakistani nuclear bomb had single handedly organized smuggling of nuclear weapons technology and equipment to Libya, North Korea and Iran etc. It is interesting because the same newspapers and other media (national and international), during last three decades, printed hundreds of news stories on Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear technology import as well as its public stance of helping Islamic countries to do so. It is perplexing that large sections of the media are forgetting their own stories and analysis made during last three decades. And, most of them seem to be quite reluctant to point fingers towards or at least conjecturing the possibility of involvement of Pakistani authorities as well as roles played by different agencies of other nations in this dangerous operation.

It is quite amusing that when most of the Pakistanis believe that Dr. A. Q. Khan is not the real culprit and almost surely acted at the behest of Pakistani state, it is much of the Indian media, which are blindly projecting and regularly propagating the incredible story as final truth.

On the other hand, it seems that Dr. Khan and his government have similar understanding about the reality behind the scene, and consequently, taking mutually acceptable actions to find solutions that satisfactorily address each other’s interests. Otherwise, how one can explain major concessions extracted by Dr. Khan from his state including favourable wording of the confession, living in his luxurious home, permission to meet his friends, relatives and doctors and, of course, now release from his illegal residential confinement.

Indeed, if we merely study already published materials in public domain, do a cursory analysis of the facts and its geopolitical background and then try to put those pieces together properly, a more plausible scenario would emerge. Such exercise would almost certainly point towards the direct involvement of Pakistani state machinery and indirect association of agencies connected to other states as well, if not the government itself. Naturally, the cover-up extends far beyond the border of Pakistan.

The entire operation was brazen and would have exposed dangerous double dealings of so called responsible states – big and small. As a result it needed equally brazen cover up operation. First blame an individual for the nuclear smuggling, precluding any state actors in Pakistan or elsewhere. Isolate him so that he can not be accessed or other independent international enforcement agencies like IAEA. Then destroy evidence of involvement Pakistan and other governments. Example - the case of officially pardon to Tinner brothers in Switzerland, closing their case of nuclear equipment export to North Korea and elsewhere and destroying all evidence incriminating to the interest of involved nations. (In May 2008, President of Switzerland himself informed this event to his parliament and The New York Times reported that it was done under pressure from the CIA to Swiss Justice Minister). Finally, launch a massive disinformation campaign worldwide around the Dr. A Q Khan story, for diverting attention from the actual players in this intriguing drama.

But we can come nearer to the truth by applying deductive logic to some well known fact and draw a more plausible inference from the findings. Some of these relevant facts are-
- Pakistan itself announced development of an Islamic Bomb and their intention of helping radical Islamic nations in development of the bomb.
- While there was a hue and cry on Dr. Khan’s purported stealing of Uranium enrichment technology from Holland, subsequent follow up showed that it was actually a clandestine operation by Pakistan, with full knowledge of the CIA. Moreover, mode of clandestine transport of large quantities centrifuge without alerting intelligence agencies was also never explained.
- Even USA and other western nations have in the past accused Pakistan of smuggling nuclear technology to other countries, which proves that it was aware of the development.
- Dr. Khan’s activity was in CIA’s scanner from in Early 70s. Then in mid 80s, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, America was very much working hand in glove with Pakistani military and ISI. It would be very na├»ve to believe that it was not keeping close watch on Pakistan’s nuclear activity.
- The CIA publicly admitted that despite being told about “Khan’s action” decided to just watch him for “pressing strategic concerns”.
- With top notch military and intelligence expertise, it was absolutely impossible to be involved in such large scale activities like using chartered planes to take related heavy equipment and systems to other countries without being tracked.
- That the cover-up actions actually began after IAEA (which only has the mandate to officially investigate and give a binding verdict),was planning its UN sponsored investigation in earnest. That was the time to close down the mission, preempting any other agency to trail the event or further investigate.
- The language of Dr. Khan’s so called confession itself is ambiguous. And, in May 30, 2008, he publicly denied his involvement with the spread of nuclear arms. He said that the Pakistan government and Mussaraf forced him to be a “scapegoat” for the national interest.
- The glaring fact that actually Dr Khan was neither charged nor served any detention notice. It was just pretence. He was just confined inside his well guarded residence not as a punishment but to prevent his access by any independent investigative agencies. And, now he is freed with the condition that he would not speak about the case or anyone’s involvement to anyone. Thereby precluding any further unraveling of truth.
- If Dr. Khan has really committed that crime, both Western countries and Pakistan are supposed to give proof or at least broad outline of what has really happened. Nobody cared to give any such details.
- Careful observation would show that similar pattern of cover up have been used in both phases (development and export) of the Pakistani nuclear weapon initiatives. Only the players changed – for example in the development phase in late 70s phase it was Holland (and Japan) and in the proliferation phase it was Switzerland where the private companies manufactured and transferred nuclear equipment and all such protagonists were let off the hook in similar way after destroying all evidences.
- Both in Pakistan and other involved countries, there is an effort to trump up the case Dr. Khan (while carefully not demanding punishment for him) and a concerted initiative suppress facts and destroy documents about the whole incident.
- There is also a great eagerness to close the matter by Pakistani authorities (“So called Dr. A.Q.Khan issue is now closed” declared Pakistani foreign minister, after Dr. Khan’s release) thereby disabling IAEA’s efforts to unearth the truth behind this murky affair.

It is no secret that Pakistan has developed its nuclear bomb following its stated official policy and not clandestinely. Frankly, no country can be expected to develop atomic weapons with full public knowledge. But, in the past certain facts leaked out from behind the curtain of secrecy to public knowledge through authoritative reports. Some of these are - China had helped it with the bomb design and initial testing; Japan and a few European countries like Holland and Switzerland were either aware or indirectly involved in related activities in their own soil and the USA indirectly at least facilitated Pakistani development, by turning a blind eye towards it.

In exporting nuclear weapons technology, Pakistan’s main aims were to project itself as helpful power house among Islamic countries and at the same time support its indigenous nuclear and missile ambition with money earned in export. Later on Pakistan had to add North Korea in its client list for two reasons – to repay obligation of getting missile technology from it and probably under some pressure from China, which is a big brother for both the countries.

The American strategy probably was to go along with the operation, with an intention to subvert and thwart nuclear weapon development initiative of its current foes like Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and North Korea. Probably, for tactical reason, Pakistan also joined in that effort, and started double dealing against its own clients.

The so called targeted clients, however, took different diverse paths. Iraq and Syria abandoned its nuclear plan at the initial planning stage itself. Iran decided to avoid the trap and went on developing its independent dual use technology. North Korea, being a rather tough closed country, advanced with its nuclear programme and was in a position to negotiate hard with the USA. Libya, which had the biggest ambition and least technical capabilities, went on to build its facility with tampered and faulty equipment and technology received from this ring and expectedly failed in its nuclear weapons programme. At the end, it had no way but to cooperate and rollback its programme under supervision of IAEA.

After accomplishment of the objective of the mission and with the changed geopolitical situation, it was time to close the operation and cover the trail to get the real players off the hook. The action had to be hastened as IAEA and other neutral intelligence agencies were about to start their own investigation. But, such investigation would have compromised the identity of state players in Pakistan, USA, Switzerland and China, among others, which was to be particularly embarrassing for many countries after the Iraq WMD fiasco.

Pakistan was at the receiving end and, at that stage, facing the possibility of getting tagged as a nuclear smuggling rogue state. So, it worked out a deal which involved exonerating its state in nuclear matter and at the same time assuring its full cooperation in fighting some elements of Taliban and Al Qaeda inside and across Pakistani border.

So, here was the solution. Let us project that Dr. A Q Khan and some of his associates were actually the culprits, not the state of Pakistan. But how can it be done convincingly? Well, coerce him to give false confession in the national interest. Let us save Pakistan first! And, so the involved actors suddenly launched a sustained drama highlighting Dr. Khan to divert the international attention. Naturally it was an understanding between allies to close the operation and cover up the matter.

But, Dr. Khan is not just anybody and also had a few cards up his sleeves, which had the potency to hurt the interest of Pakistan and its alleys. So, unless a solution acceptable both to him and Pakistani state was available, the whole corpse could not be buried for good. So, the next step was to free Dr. Khan in return of his pledge of not suing anyone or pursuing his version of the case. So, now there is no threat from Dr. Khan himself.

USA duly rumbled about possible danger from Dr. Khan being free. However, it has neither asked for any specific action against him nor bothered to give any ultimatum. Europe, China and India have generally maintained guarded silence on the issue.

As such there is indeed a case to strongly doubt that the concerted efforts to propagate the fairy tale story of Dr. Khan’s misdemeanor were actually to hide and deny the involvement of any state sponsored agencies in this dangerous affair. Ironically, to the discerning, this brazen cover up operation, destruction of event, withdrawal of cases against accused in Holland and Switzerland have only brought in to the open the role of official agencies in Pakistan and beyond.

It is doubtful whether history’s worst nuclear scandal can really be buried for long. Probably many nations decided to keep their silence and not to raise it now for strategic and tactical reason. It is quite likely that IAEA, which is usually at loggerhead with the USA, will not officially close the case so easily. It is also possible that in future some enterprising national and international researchers will take up more fact finding and analysis work to unearth further factual details on the affair. Hopefully, truth will come out, sooner or later. A truth which is likely to be quite different from what we now tend to believe so naively.

Meanwhile, let us reserve our final judgment on this globally significant case.
------------------------------------ By U. KECI