1931 – Respected Hindustani classical musician Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar passed away. As a kid, during the festival of ‘Dutt Jayanti’ , a fire-cracker burst near his face as a result of which he had lost his eyesight. It was the King of Miraj who recognized his talent and made arrangements for his training under Balakrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar, a learned musician who trained young Vishnu for 12 years. He toured India to study different musical traditions. He gave the first public concert in India at Saurashtra breaking a long standing tradition of Indian music of giving concerts in palaces or temples only, charging a nominal fee. In 1901 he founded the ‘Gandharva Mahavidyalaya’ an institution that imparted training in Indian classical music. He registered his participation and support to the freedom struggle by singing the famous ‘Pagdi Sambhal Jatta’ when Lala Lajpat Rai was arrested in 1907.He was also an expert at adding a classical flavour to old religious songs.Gandhiji’s favourite bhajan ‘Raghupati Raaghav Raja Ram’ is an example of this which was sung daily during the Dandi March by Satyagrahis.
1978 – Legendary Cricketer Mulvantrai Himmatlal Mankad or ‘Vinoo’ Mankad passed away. This Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1947 is best remembered for his World Record Opening stand of 413 runs with Pankaj Roy against New Zealand at Chennai in 1956, a record that stood for 52 years but is now registered against the names of Graeme Smith and Neil Mckenzie of South Africa .He is one of the only three cricketers to have batted at all positions from number 1 to 11. He is also one the ‘trio’ of non-England away players whose names feature on both the batting as well as bowling honors boards at Lords. Keith Miller of Australia and Sir Gary Sobers of West Indies being the other two. Interestingly one of the ways dismissing a batsman in cricket is referred to as ‘Mankading’. In 1947 when India toured Australia Vinoo Mankad broke the wicket at the non-striker’s end during his run-up while Bill Brown, who was at that end, was out of his crease. This incident enraged the Australian media and referred to the way of dismissal as ‘Mankading’. However, the great Sir Donald Bradman had a different opinion and chose to side with Mankad instead stating in his autobiography that it was within the rules and it was unfair on the part of the batsman to gain extra ground even before the ball was bowled. According to the rules, a batsman must be warned before he is ‘Mankaded’. Incidentally Mankad had warned Brown before dismissing him.
Here’s how Kapil Dev mankaded Peter Kirsten of South Africa:
1995 – Nobel Laureate and nephew of another Nobel Laureate Dr.C.V.Raman, Dr.Subrahmanyam Chandrashekhar passed away. In 1930, Dr. Chandrashekhar gave the maximum mass of a stable white dwarf star above which a star collapses into a neutron star or black hole. The currently accepted value of which is about 1.44 solar masses (1 solar mass = 1.9891 × 10^30 kilograms). This limit is also known as the Chandrashekhar limit. In 1983, Dr.Chandrashekhar was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his studies on the physical processes important to the structure and evolution of stars. He was also awarded the National Medal of Science in 1966 and the Copley Medal in 1984.The Government of India honored him with the Padma Vibhushan in 1968.
2006 – Noted Shehnai Maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan passed away. He is credited with making the classical aerophonic instrument popular single-handedly. He had the honour of playing the shehnai on the eve of India’s Independence in 1947 at the Red Fort. In fact his recitals had become a tradition as ‘Doordarshan’ would broadcast a live performance of the maestro every year right after the Prime Minister’s speech. He also played the instrument on India’s first Republic Day at the Red Fort. One of India’s finest musicians he was so devoted to this art form that he referred to the shehnai as his ‘Begum’ after his wife passed away. Upon his death, Ustad Bismillah Khan was buried with his shehnai at the Fatemain burial ground in Old Varanasi. The Indian Army paid tribute with a 21-gun salute. Ustad Bismillah Khan had received all four civilian honours. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1961, the Padma Bhushan in 1961,the Padma Vibhushan in 1968 and the Bharat Ratna in 2001.
Listen to Ustad Bismillah Khan playing ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ :