When we talk about the world’s all-time richest people, we immediately come up with names like Rothschild Family, John D Rockefeller, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates.
The Celebrity Net Worth website compiled a list of the world’s 26 richest people in the last 1000 years. Oddly, there are no women on the list, only three members are alive today and 14 of the top 25 are Americans.
Here is the list of the ‘26 richest people of all time’ (courtesy: independent.co.uk):
1. Mansa Musa I, (Ruler of Malian Empire, 1280-1331) $400 billion
2. Rothschild Family (banking dynasty, 1740- ) $350 billion
3. John D Rockefeller (industrialist, 1839-1937) $340 billion
4. Andrew Carnegie (industrialist, 1835-1919) $310 billion
5. Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (last Emperor of Russia, 1868-1918) $300 billion
6. Osman Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VII (last ruler of Hyderabad, 1886-1967) $236 billion
7. William the Conqueror (King of England, 1028-1087) $229.5 billion
9. Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company founder, 1863-1947) $199 billion
10. Cornelius Vanderbilt (industrialist, 1794-1877) $185 billion
11. Alan Rufus (Fighting companion of William the Conqueror, 1040-1093) $178.65 billion
12. Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft, 1955- ) $136 billion
13. William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey (Norman nobleman, ??-1088) $146.13 billion
14. John Jacob Astor (businessman, 1864-1912) $121 billion
15. Richard Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel (English nobleman, 1306-1376) £118.6 billion
16. John of Gaunt (son of Edward III, 1330-1399) £110 billion
17. Stephen Girard (shipping and banking mogul, 1750-1831) $105 billion
18. Alexander Turney Stewart (entrepreneur, 1803-1876) $90 billion
19. Henry, 1st Duke of Lancaster (English noble, 1310-1361) $85.1 billion
20. Friedrich Weyerhaeuser (timber mogul, 1834-1914) $80 billion
21. Jay Gould (railroad tycoon, 1836-1892) $71 billion
22. Carlos Slim (business magnate, 1940- ) $68 billion
23. Stephen Van Rensselaer (landowner, 1764- 1839) $68 billion
24. Marshall Field (Marshall Field & Company founder, 1834-1906) $66 billion
25. Sam Walton (Walmart founder, 1918-1992) $65billion
26. Warren Buffett (investor, 1930- ) $64billion
Mansa Musa I
Topping the list is Mansa Musa I (c. 1280 to c. 1337) was the tenth Mansa of the wealthy West African Mali Empire making his fortune by exploiting his country’s salt and gold production. The term ‘Mansa’ translates to “sultan“, “conqueror” or “emperor”.
As a young man Mansa Musa I built many mosques which still stand today.
After Mansa Musa I death in 1331, however, his heirs were unable to hang on to the fortune, and it was substantially depleted by civil wars and invading armies.
“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.” – Richard Johnson, Nephrologist, University of Colorado Denver
What does the word “sugar” mean to you?
To me, anything that tastes sweet: cane sugar (sucrose), beet sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, honey, syrups, sugary drinks, molasses, agave the popular ingredient for tequila, chocolates, toffees, confectioneries, etc.
Most of us had our first singular experience of sweetness when we licked the dab of cake icing or a drop of honey from the finger of one of our loving parents.
Even though sugar tastes delicious it is not a food.
Though it is habit-forming it is not a drug, but many people get addicted to it.
The more sugar you taste, the more you want.
Sugar provides instant energy and quickens the muscles, but it is not a nutrient.
Sugar is the universal name for a variety of carbohydrates, derived from various sources.
Carbohydrates supply energy for working muscles. They provide fuel for the central nervous system, enable fat metabolism, and prevent the protein from being used as energy.
Before learning to grow food, the carbohydrates that our ancestors consumed for energy must have come from whatever plants that were available to them according to the season.
Around 6,000 BC, people in New Guinea cultivated sugarcane. They drank the sweet juice by chewing the stalks of the sugarcane. The cultivation of sugarcane spread gradually from island to island, and around 1000 BC reached the Asian mainland. By 500 BC, the Indians were processing crystalline sugar from sugarcane. By 600 AD sugar found its way to China, Persia, and northern Africa. Eventually, by the 11th century, it reached Europe. In England between the 18th and 19th centuries consumption of sugar increased by 1,500 percent.
By the mid 19th century, Europeans, Americans and the people of the civilized world became habituated to the use of refined sugar and considered it as a staple item of food.
Now, we consume sugar daily in one form or another because our body cells depend on carbohydrates for energy. An ingrained love for sweetness has evolved within us and we use sugar generously to sweeten almost all our raw, cooked, baked, frozen food and drinks.
There is good and bad food. Health experts point their finger accusingly at all foods that have sugar and brand them bad. They say that we are in fact poisoning ourselves by satiating our sweet tooth. Some even use the adjective ‘toxic’ to describe sugar and say it disrupts the body’s usual hormonal cycles and endangers our internal and external organs.
All experts say the use of sugar results in high rates of obesity, metabolic disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many other ailments.
Testing urine by smelling and tasting was once the primary method used to diagnose diseases. Hippocrates (460-377 BC) of Kos noticed that a patient’s urine smelled differently as the course of fever changed. The Greco-Roman doctor Galen (131-201 AD) of Pergamon believed that urine revealed the health of the liver, where blood was supposedly produced. He stated, evaluating the urine was the best way to find whether or not the body’s four humours – blood, phlegm, yellow and black bile – were in equilibrium.
In 1675, Thomas Willis (1621-1675), an English physician who played an important part in the history of anatomy, neurology and psychiatry, and a founding member of the Royal Society of London, was the first in modern medical literature to diagnose diabetes by the taste of urine. He observed that the urine of the diabetics tasted “wonderfully sweet, as if it were imbued with honey or sugar.” His taste test impelled him to append the latin word ‘mellitus‘ for honey to this form of diabetes. Ancient Hindu, Chinese, and Arab texts also have reports of the same sweet taste in urine of patients suffering from diabetes.
Haven Emerson (1874-1957), Emeritus Professor of Public Health Practice at Columbia University, New York, pointed out that significant increase in deaths from diabetes between 1900 and 1920 corresponded with an increase in sugar consumption.
In the 1960s a series of experiments on animals and humans conducted by John Yudkin, the British nutrition expert revealed that high amounts of sugar in the diet led to high levels of fat that paved the way for heart disease and diabetes. But Yudkin’s warning was not heard because other scientists blamed the rising rates of obesity and heart disease to cholesterol caused by much-saturated fat in the diet.
Even though the Americans changed their diet by consuming less fat than they did 20 years before, obesity increased.
The culprit was sugar and fructose in particular.
Now, we eat most of our sugar mainly as sucrose or table sugar. Americans include high-fructose corn syrup as well.
One molecule each of two simple sugars – glucose and fructose, having the same chemical formula, but with slightly different molecular structures, bond together to form a molecule of sucrose.
Because fructose is about twice as sweet as glucose, an inexpensive syrup mixing the two was an appealing alternative to sucrose from sugarcane and beets. In the 1960s, the U.S. corn industry developed a new technology to convert corn-derived glucose into fructose from which high fructose corn syrup was produced. Despite its name, the high fructose corn syrup has 55% fructose, 42% glucose, and three percent other sugars.
The various avatars of sugar are metabolized differently in the body. Our body cells prefer the simple sugars fructose and glucose to the heavier disaccharide sucrose. Enzymes such as sucrase in the intestine split sucrose into fructose and glucose instantaneously. Glucose travels through the bloodstream to all of our tissues.
The human body regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose reaches all the tissues in the body through the bloodstream. It stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, the hormone which helps remove excess glucose from the blood, and boosts production of leptin, the hormone which suppresses hunger.
All body cells convert glucose into energy, but only liver cells can convert fructose to energy by metabolizing it into glucose and lactate.
Too much fructose from sugars and sugary drinks including fruit juices taxes the liver by making it spend much energy on converting and leaving less for all its other functions. This leads to excess production of uric acid that induces the formation of gout, kidney stones and leads to high blood pressure. According to some researchers, large amounts of fructose encourage people to eat more than they need since it raises the levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger.
Sugar also triggers the body to increase production of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol often informally called bad cholesterol. LDL cholesterol transports their content of many fat molecules into artery walls, attract macrophages, and thus drive atherosclerosis.
Also, excess fructose increases fat production, especially in the liver. The fat converts to circulating triglycerides that are easily stored in fatty tissue, leading to obesity and a risk factor for clogged arteries and cardiovascular diseases.
Some researchers have linked a fatty liver to insulin resistance – a condition in which cells become unusually less responsive to insulin, exhausting the pancreas until it loses the ability to regulate blood glucose levels properly.
Richard J. Johnson, a nephrologist at the University of Colorado Denver has proposed that uric acid produced by fructose metabolism also promotes insulin resistance thought to be a major contributor to obesity and Type 2 diabetes, the disorders that often occur together.
Rich Cohen in his article “Sugar Love” (A not so sweet story) published in the National Geographic quotes Dr Richard J. Johnson:
“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path to the first cause, I find my way back to sugar.
Why is it that one-third of adults [worldwide] have high blood pressure when in 1900 only 5 percent had high blood pressure? Why did 153 million people have diabetes in 1980, and now we’re up to 347 million? Why are more and more Americans obese? Sugar, we believe, is one of the culprits, if not the major culprit.”
Now, more than one-third of adults and nearly 12.5 million adolescents and children are obese in the United States. In 1980 about 5.6 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes. However, in 2011 more than 20 million Americans were found to be diabetic.
Dr Arun Bal, diabetic foot surgeon warns:
“India is facing an epidemic of diabetes. At present, confirmed diabetes patients in India are 67 million, with another 30 million in prediabetes group. By 2030, India will have the largest number of [diabetic] patients in the world. Diabetes is not only a blood sugar problem but brings along other complications as well.”
Dr Suresh Vijan, an Interventional cardiologist, also warns:
“The incidence of heart disease is increasing at a rapid rate. It was 1.09% in the 1950s, increased to 9.7 % in 1990, and 11% by 2000. This rising trend will make India the heart disease capital of the world… Indians face a dual risk of heart disease and diabetes. The risk of death due to myocardial infarction is three times higher in diabetics as compared with non-diabetics. Life expectancy too is reduced by 30% in diabetics as compared to non-diabetics; this translates into a loss of eight years of life… Increased consumption of dense-rich foods along with increasing sedentary lifestyle has increased the incidence of diabetes and heart disease.”
Sugar is the universal name for a variety of carbohydrates or saccharides that have a sweet taste.
The word ‘sugar’ immediately brings to our mind the white crystals we add to tea and coffee to make it sweet.
However, scientifically, the term ‘sugar’ refers to various types of substances derived from different sources: simple sugars known as monosaccharides, and compound sugars: disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.
Any word that ends with “-ose” would most probably denote a sugar.
The range of sweetness we experience when eating foods is determined by the different proportions of sugars found in them.
Many chemically-different substances that are non-carbohydrates may also have a sweet taste but are not classified as sugars. Some of these are used as low-calorie food substitutes for sugar and are categorized as artificial sweeteners.
Saccharides (Greek sacchar: sugar) are one of the most important biomolecules. They are also known as carbohydrates and control the energy in cells, provide structural integrity, and provide a role in the immune system, development and fertilization in all living things.
Natural saccharides are generally simple carbohydrates called monosaccharides having the general formula (CH2O)nwhere n is three or more.
Plants use carbohydrates to store energy and to provide supporting structures. Animals and humans consume plants to get their share of carbohydrates as a source of carbon atoms for the synthesis of other compounds.
Carbohydrates supply energy for working muscles. They provide the fuel for the central nervous system, enable fat metabolism, and prevent protein from being used as energy.
Monosaccharides (Greek monos: single, sacchar: sugar) or simple sugars are the most basic units of carbohydrates with the general formula C6H12O6. Examples of Monosaccharides include Glucose (dextrose), fructose (levulose) and galactose. They have one sugar unit with six carbon atoms and five hydroxyl groups (−OH). They are the building blocks of disaccharides and polysaccharides (such as cellulose and starch).
Each carbon atom that supports a hydroxyl group (except for the first and last) is chiral (a molecule that has a non-superposable mirror image), giving rise to a number of isomeric dextro– and laevo-rotatory forms all with the same chemical formula. For instance, galactose and glucose are both aldohexoses but have different physical structures and chemical properties.
Monosaccharides form an aqueous solution when dissolved in water.
Glucose, also known as D-glucose, dextrose, corn sugar, grape sugar and blood sugar is a simple dietary monosaccharide found in plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with fructose and galactose, absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion.
The name “glucose” is derived from the Greek word γλευχος, meaning “sweet wine, must”. The suffix “-ose” denotes a sugar.
In a biological sense, glucose is found everywhere. It occurs naturally in fruits and plant juices. It is the primary product of photosynthesis. Most ingested carbohydrates get converted into glucose during digestion and it is the form of sugar transported around the bodies of animals in the bloodstream. It is used as an energy source by most organisms, from bacteria to humans.
Use of glucose maybe by either aerobic respiration, anaerobic respiration, or fermentation. Glucose is the human body’s key source of energy, through aerobic respiration, providing about 3.75 kilocalories (16 kilojoules) of food energy per gram. Aerobic respiration requires oxygen.
C6H12O6 (s) + 6 O2 (g) → 6 CO2 (g) + 6 H2O (l) + heat ΔG = −2880 kJ per mol of C6H12O6
The negative ΔG indicates that the reaction can occur spontaneously.
Glucose can be manufactured from starch by the addition of enzymes or in the presence of acids. Glucose syrup is a liquid form of glucose that is widely used in the manufacture of foodstuffs.
Fructose or fruit sugar, is a simple dietary monosaccharide found in honey, fruits that grow on trees and vines, flowers, berries, and most root vegetables. It is the sweetest of the sugars.
Fructose, a 6-carbon polyhydroxy ketone is an isomer of glucose – both have the same molecular formula (C6H12O6) but they differ structurally. It is often bonded to glucose to form the disaccharide sucrose.
Along with glucose and galactose, fructose is absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion.
Commercially, fructose is processed from sugarcane, sugar beets, and maize.
Galactose(Greek galakt: milk), a monosaccharide sugar, is a constituent of the disaccharide lactose along with the glucose. It does not occur in the free state. It is less sweet than glucose.
Galactose is a component of the antigens found on the surface of red blood cells that determine blood groups.
Sucrose, maltose, and lactose are compound sugars or disaccharides, with the general formula C12H22O11. They are formed by the combination of two monosaccharide molecules with the exclusion of a molecule of water.
Sucrose is the granulated sugar that we customarily use as additive in our food. It is a disaccharide with one molecule of glucose covalently linked to one molecule of fructose.
Sucrose is found in the stems of sugar cane and roots of sugar beet. It also occurs naturally alongside fructose and glucose in other plants, in particular fruits and some roots such as carrots.
After eating, during digestion, a number of enzymes known as sucrase split sucrose into its constituent parts, glucose and fructose.
Maltose,also known as maltobiose or malt sugar, is a disaccharide formed during the germination of certain grains, the most notable one being barley, which is converted into malt, the source of the sugar’s name. It is less sweet than sucrose, glucose, or fructose.
A molecule of maltose is formed by the combination of two molecules of glucose.
Maltose is formed in the body during the digestion of starch by the enzyme amylase and is itself broken down during digestion by the enzyme maltase.
Lactose is the naturally occurring disaccharide derived from galactose and glucose found in milk. A molecule of lactose.is formed by the combination of a molecule of galactose with a molecule of glucose.
A molecule of galactose is formed by the combination of a molecule of glucose with a molecule of lactose.
After consuming milk, during digestion, lactose is broken down into its constituent parts by the enzyme lactase. Children have this enzyme in them. In some adults, the enzyme lactase does not form as they grow up and are unable to digest lactose.
Oligosaccharides (Greek oligos: a few, sacchar: sugar) are polymeric carbohydrate molecules containing a small number, typically three to nine, monosaccharide units. They are commonly found on the plasma membrane of animal cells where they play a role in cell recognition.
Fructo-oligosaccharides, also sometimes called oligofructose or oligofructan, are oligosaccharidefructans. They consist of short chains of fructose molecules.
FOS occur naturally and are found in many vegetables.
FOS exhibit sweetness levels between 30 and 50 percent of sugar in commercially prepared syrups and are used as an alternative sweetener. Due to consumer demand for healthier and calorie-reduced foods, FOS emerged commercially in the 1980s.
The range of sweetness we experience when eating foods is determined by the different proportions of sugars found in them.
Galactooligosaccharides occur naturally and consist of short chains of galactose molecules. These compounds can be only partially digested by humans.
Mannan oligosaccharides (MOS)
Mannan oligosaccharides (MOS) are widely used in animal feed to improve gastrointestinal health, energy levels and performance. They are normally obtained from the yeast cell walls of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Polysaccharides are polymeric carbohydrate molecules composed of long chains of monosaccharide units bound together by glycosidic bonds. Typically, polysaccharides contain more than ten monosaccharide units. Cellulose, starch, glycogen, xanthan gum in plants, etc., are polysaccharides.
Polysaccharides have a general formula of Cx(H2O)ywherex is usually a large number between 200 and 2500. Considering that the repeating units in the polymer backbone are often six-carbon monosaccharides, and the general formula can also be represented as (C6H10O5)nwhere 40≤n≤3000.
Definitions of how large a carbohydrate must be to fall into the categories polysaccharides or oligosaccharides vary according to personal opinions of scientists.
Polysaccharides are an important class of biological polymers. Their function in living organisms is usually either structure or storage-related. Starch (a polymer of glucose) is used as a storage polysaccharide in plants, being found in the form of both amylose and the branched amylopectin. In animals, the structurally similar glucose polymer is the more densely branched glycogen, sometimes called ‘animal starch’. Glycogen’s properties allow it to be metabolized more quickly, which suits the active lives of moving animals.
The different proportions of sugars found in food determine the range of sweetness we experience when eating them.
Sugar is the universal name for a variety of sweet-tasting carbohydrates, derived from various sources. Sweetmeats, confectionaries, chocolates, alcoholic liqueurs, sweet beverages, etc. use sugar for sweetening.
The English word ‘sugar’ is derived from the Arabic word سكر sukkar, which came from the Persian شکر shekar, itself derived from Sanskrit शर्करा śarkarā, which originated from Tamil சர்க்கரை Sarkkarai. Thus, the etymology of the English word ‘sugar’, in a way, reflects the spread of sugar from India to the western world.
Rich Cohen in his article “Sugar Love” (A not so sweet story) published in the National Geographic says:
“In 1700 the average Englishman consumed 4 pounds a year. In 1800 the common man ate 18 pounds of sugar. In 1870 that same sweet-toothed bloke was eating 47 pounds annually. Was he satisfied? Of course not! By 1900 he was up to 100 pounds a year. In that span of 30 years, world production of cane and beet sugar exploded from 2.8 million tons a year to 13 million plus. Today the average American consumes 77 pounds of added sugar annually, or more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.”
Most plants have sugar, but only sugarcane and sugar beet are endowed with sufficient concentrations for efficient extraction. Around 80% of the world’s sugar is derived from sugarcane.
Sugarcane is any of several species of tall perennial true grass of the genus Saccharum, tribe Andropogoneae, native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, and used for sugar production. They have stout jointed fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar. They grow six to 19 feet (two to six meters) tall. All sugar cane species interbreed and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids.
The crop has been cultivated in tropical climates in the Far East since ancient times.
Eight thousand years ago, sugar featured prominently in the food of the inhabitants of the island of New Guinea, the world’s second largest island, after Greenland. During sacred religious ceremonies, their priests sipped water sweetened with sugar from coconut shells.
The use of sugarcane spread gradually from island to island, and around 1000 BC reached the Asian mainland.
By 500 BC, the Indians were processing crystalline sugar from sugarcane. In India sugar was used as a medicine for headaches, stomach flutters, impotence, etc. The art of sugar refinement passed from master to apprentice and remained a secret science.
Sugar found its way to Persia around 600 AD and as luxury rulers entertained their guests with a variety of sweets. From there Arabs carried the knowledge and love for sugar. The Arabs perfected sugar refinement made it into an industry. “Wherever they went, the Arabs brought with them sugar, the product and the technology of its production,” wrote Sidney Mintz in Sweetness and Power. “Sugar, we are told, followed the Koran.”
From there sugar travelled with migrants and monks to China, Persia, northern Africa and eventually to Europe in the 11th century.
The first Europeans to know about sugar were the British and French crusaders that went east to wrest the Holy Land from the Arabs. Having their taste buds excited by sugar they returned with stories and memories of sweets. Unfortunately, they found the temperate climates in Europe unsuitable for cultivation of sugar cane, which needed tropical, rain-drenched fields to grow.
The sugar that reached the West through a trickle of Arab traders was rare and was classified as a spice. Due to its high cost only by the nobility consumed it.
With the spread of the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s, trade with the East became more difficult for the Europeans. To the Western elite who had fallen under the spell of sweets were propelled to develop new sources of sugar.
So, it was the age of exploration for the Europeans – the search for new territories around the world.
Infante Henry, Duke of Viseu (March 4, 1394 – November 13, 1460), the third child of King John I of Portugal, better known as Henry the Navigator, was an important figure in the early days of the Portuguese Empire and the Age of Discoveries in total. He was responsible for the early growth of European exploration and maritime trade with other continents. In 1419, Portuguese sailors in the service of Infante D. Henrique claimed Madeira, an archipelago about 250 miles (400 km) north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the North Atlantic Ocean. In 1425, Infante Henry sent sugarcane with an early group of colonists who settled in Madeira.
Sugarcane found its way to other newly discovered Atlantic islands such as the Cape Verde Islands, and the Canaries.
In 1493, when Christopher Columbus set off on his second voyage to the New World, he too carried the cane. He planted the New World’s first sugarcane in Hispaniola.
From then on dawned the era of mass sugar production in the slave plantations in the Caribbean islands.
Within decades the Portuguese and the Spanish expanded sugar cane plantation to Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Cuba and Brazil. They cleared the rainforests for sugarcane plantations. The Portuguese turned Brazil into an early boom colony, with more than 100,000 slaves producing tons of sugar.
The harvested crop of sugarcane was crushed and ground and then pressed to extract the cane juice, which was thickened into a syrup by boiling. This produced sugar crystals, which were dried before storage. The raw sugar was piled in the holds of ships and carried to Europe for refining.
Until the 15th and 16th centuries, sugar was classed with nutmeg and cardamom as a luxury spice enjoyed only by the wealthy upper classes.
The original British sugar island was Barbados found by a British captain on May 14, 1625. Tobacco and cotton were grown in the early years, but sugarcane overtook these two on the island as it did wherever it was planted in the Caribbean. Sadly, however, the fields got depleted, the water table drained within a century, and the ambitious planters had left Barbados in search of other island to exploit.
In the 17th century the British established large-scale sugar plantations in the West Indies. The price of sugar fell. Sugar changed from a luxury to a staple item. Since the fall in price made it affordable to the middle class and the poor, the demand for sugar increased.
But the sugar trade was tarnished by its colonial heritage of inhumanity and exploitation. Profits from the sugar trade helped build the British Empire. When the enslaved native population dwindled due to disease or war the planters replaced them with more slaves brought from the west coast of Africa with the expansion of the Atlantic slave trade.
By 1720 Jamaica became number one in the sugar market.
Until the slave trade was banned in Britain in 1807, more than half of the 11 million Africans shipped to the New World ended up on sugar plantations.
The slaves from Africa found the life hard. In the Caribbean millions died in the fields, pressing houses, or while trying to escape. Gradually the people in Europe came to know and understand the hardship of the slaves. While reformers preached abolition, housewives boycotted cane sugar produced by the slaves.
In 1759, a slave in Voltaire’s Candide, ou l’Optimisme, missing both a hand and a leg, explains his mutilation:
“When we work in the sugar mills and we catch our finger in the millstone, they cut off our hand; when we try to run away, they cut off a leg; both things have happened to me. It is at this price that you eat sugar in Europe.”
William Johnson Fox (March 1, 1786 – June 3, 1864), an English religious and political orator in An Address to the people of Great Britain on the propriety of abstaining from West Indian sugar and rum. [London], 1791 wrote:
“So necessarily connected are our consumption of the commodity, and the misery resulting from it, that in every pound of sugar used, (the produce of slaves imported from Africa) we may be considered as consuming two ounces of human flesh…A French writer observes, ‘That he cannot look on a piece of sugar without conceiving it stained with spots of human blood.'”
Fox’s pamphlet was widely circulated, and helped promote the idea that sugar was contaminated with the blood and flesh of the suffering slaves who produced it. Nonetheless, production of sugar never stopped.
Current Production of Sugar
The use of sugar beet as a new source of production was developed in Germany in the early 19th century. By the end of the century, production of beet sugar had spread across Europe and beet had overtaken cane as the primary source of sugar there.
Sugarcane is indigenous to tropical South and Southeast Asia. Different species likely originated in different locations. Saccharum Barberi originated in India and Saccharum edule and Saccharum officinarum from New Guinea. Almost 70% of the sugar produced globally comes from Saccharum officinarum and hybrids of this species.
At present, Brazil and India are the world’s two largest sugar producers. For the past 40 years, these two countries have accounted for over half the world’s production of canesugar. The European Union is the third-largest sugar producer and accounts for around half the world’s production of beet sugar.
Fast facts: the sugar lowdown (Source: fairtrade.org.uk)
Sugar is one of the most valuable agricultural commodities. In 2011 its global export trade was worth $47bn, up from $10bn in 2000.
Of the total $47bn, $33.5bn of sugar exports are from developing countries and $12.2bn from developed countries.
The sugar industry supports the livelihoods of millions of people – not only smallholders and estate workers but also those working within the wider industry and family dependents.
Around 160 million tonnes of sugar are produced every year. The largest producers are Brazil (22%), India (15%) and the European Union (10%).
More than 123 countries produce sugar worldwide, with 70% of the world’s sugar consumed in producer countries and only 30% traded on the international market.
About 80% of global production comes from sugarcane (which is grown in the tropics) and 20% comes from sugar beet (grown in temperate climates, including Europe).
The juice from both sugarcane and sugar beet is extracted and processed into raw sugar.
World consumption of sugar has grown at an average annual rate of 2.7% over the past 50 years. It is driven by rising incomes and populations in developing countries.
The top five consumers of sugar use 51% of the world’s sugar. They include India, the EU-27, China, Brazil and the US.
Brazil plays an important role in the global sugar market, as the world’s largest sugar producer, the world’s major exporter and one of the highest per capita consumers, at around 55 kg a year.
The people in the lane where I live are all respectable. However, an old woman living on the first floor of a nearby apartment has been lately having trouble with a ‘Peeping Tom’ living in a nearby building. Every time she goes to her bathroom, this peeping tom looks through the Louvre and stares at her.
She complained to the old caretaker of the building about this annoying peeping Tom but he wantedpositive proof before he could take any action.
So, the old woman went to a friend’s apartment in the adjoining building and took a photo of the culprit peeping into her bathroom!
Watching the Red Super Full Moon at the end of the Lunar Eclipse from my home in Jalladampet, Chennai, India.
I took these photos with my iPhone. The cloudy sky was obscuring the moon like a transparent veil.
Date: January 31, 2018 Time: 7:05 pm
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth moves between the sun and the moon, preventing sunlight from reaching the moon. A total lunar eclipse occurs during a Blue Moon, Red Moon and a Super Moon. It’s a rare event that some have started to call a “super blue blood moon.”
Today’s total lunar eclipse occurred on the second full moon day of the month,
When I looked at the moon at 7:05 pm, it looked a bit larger with a reddish glow.
It is called a Super Moon because the full moon is closer to Earth, looking bigger and more luminous than normal. The last time this lunar phenomenon happened was in 1982. The next blue moon lunar eclipse during a Super Moon will not happen again until 2037.
Here is a photo of the Red Moon taken by another person.
A domestic helper, domesticworker or domestic servant, also in extreme instances called “a menial”, is a person who works in an employer’s household.
All over the world, many domestichelpers employed by urban families are people from the rural areas and most of them are live-in domestics receiving their room and board as part of their salaries. Often, their living quarters may not usually be as comfortable as those occupied by the employer’s family members. In most cases, they sleep in the kitchen or in small rooms, such as a box room or closet in the attic or basement of the house.
The domestic helpers do a variety of household chores: clean and keep up the house, cook, do laundry and ironing, buy food from vendors and shops, take care of children and elderly persons; and do other errands such as taking children to school, etc.
The contribution and skill of domestic helpers have been highly praised by some employers, but many households undervalue their contribution.
In the following video, Lisa, a domestic helper from the Philippines, comes to work at the household of Serene, her Singaporean employer. Serene takes Lisa’s passport and work permit, and does not allow her to take a day off. One day, summoned by the Principal of her daughter‘s school Serene realizes that she is inadvertently drilling her daughteron how to treat others badly and needs to mend her own ways and set a good example for her own child about respecting and appreciating others.
To mark the end of the harvest season, the Tamils in Tamilnadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, celebrate the festival called Pongal (பொங்கல்) or Thai Pongal(தைப்பொங்கல்). The farmers in these regions thank the Sun, the principal energizer that helps to reap a bountiful harvest.
In Tamilnadu and Puducherry, Pongal is a four-day festival comprising Bhogi Pandigai, Thai Pongal, Maatu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal. The Pongal festivities begin on the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi and culminates on the third day of the Tamil month Thai (January 13 to January 16 in the Gregorian calendar).
Cattle are important and are a form of wealth to people living in rural areas all over the world.
In Hinduism, the bull Nandi is the mount (Vahana), attendant (gana) of the god Shiva, and also the gatekeeper-deity of Kailashagiri, the abode of Shiva. According to a legend linked to Mattu Pongal, Shiva sent Nandi from the heavens to earth to deliver his message to the people on earth that they should have an oil bath every day and eat once a month. Nandi inadvertently advised delivered the message that people should take an oil bath once a month and eat every day. When Shiva came to know of his message related to food delivered wrongly, he was annoyed and in a fit of rage, banished Nandi to earth to live permanently among the farmers and help them to produce the extra food crops needed for the people to eat every day.
The rural folks in Tamilnadu and the Tamils in Sri Lanka dedicate the third day of the four-day-long Pongal festivities to their cattle and call it Maattu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்). Though the name Maattu Pongal seems specific to Tamil Nadu, it is also celebrated in other southern states such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
According to the Gregorian calendar, Maattu Pongal is celebrated on January 15, the second day of the Tamil month Thai((தை ).
The rural folk show their affection towards their cattle by applying kungumam (kumkum) on their cattle’s foreheads and garlanding them. They then feed their cattle with a mixture of venn pongal (sweetened rice), jaggery, banana, sugar cane and other fruits.
The sport of Jallikkattu (bull embracing)
In many parts of Tamilnadu, the youths take part in the adventurous ancient sport of Jallikkattu (or sallikattu), also known as Manju virattu (chasing the bull), and eruthazhuvatal (bull embracing) to celebrate Mattu Pongal.
Proof of Jallikattu, as an ancient sport of Tamil Nadu, has been corroborated from rock paintings of ‘bull chasing sport’ discovered on massive rock surfaces at Karikkiyur in Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, which are dated between 2,000 B.C. and 1,500 B.C.
Initially, and were a mild form of sport in the in the southern part of Tamil Nadu, particularly in Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjavur.
The sport was held in the afternoon or evening of the Mattu Pongal day. After worshipping and feeding the bulls in the morning, their owners tied money in the form of coins or notes on the horns of the bulls and let them loose among the crowd. Young boys chased and lassoed the bulls to retrieve the money tied to their horns.
Nayak dynasties emerged after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire. During the Nayak rule in Tamil Nadu, this traditional harmless bull-chasing sport transformed into the present form of Jallikattu, which is a bloodier bull-wrestling sport.
Nowadays, ferocious Bos indicus or Bos taurus indicus bulls, also known as indicine cattle or humped cattle, characterised by a fatty hump on their shoulders such as the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are selected, trained, and released into a crowd of people. The youngsters to exhibit their valour endeavour to subjugate the bulls by attempting to grab the large hump on the bull’s back with both arms and hang on to it attempting to bring the bull to a stop while it tries to escape. Participants who hold the hump for a long period are declared winners.
In Tamil, the word Pongal means “overflowing”, signifying abundance and prosperity. The Tamils in Tamilnadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, celebrate the festival called Pongal(பொங்கல்) or Thai Pongal(தைப்பொங்கல்). This festival marks the end of the harvest season. The farmers thank the Sun, the principal energizer that helps to reap a bountiful harvest.
In Tamilnadu and Puducherry, Pongalis a four-day festival. It begins on the last day of the TamilmonthMaargazhi (மார்கழி ) and culminates on the third day of the TamilmonthThai((தை ) – January 13 to January 16 in the Gregorian calendar.
In Tamil, the phrase “ThaiPirandhalVazhiPirakkum” meaning “the birth of Thai heralds new prospects” is an oft-quoted popular saying among the Tamils.
The four days of Pongal are Bhogi Pandigai, Thai Pongal, Maattu Pongal, and Kaanum Pongal.
Of the four-days Harvest festival, the second day is the principal day of the festival.This day is known as Thai Pongal by the Tamils and they celebrate it on January 14, the first day of the month of (தை).
All the states in India celebrate thisday which coincides with MakaraSankranthi, a winter harvest festival. On thisday the Sun begins its six-month-long journey northwards or the Uttarayanam. This also represents the Indic solstice when the sun entersMakara(Capricorn), the 10th house of the Indian zodiac.
In Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Sri Lanka and Malaysia it is celebrated as Thai Pongal.
In Andhra Pradesh, Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, and Uttar Pradesh, this day is is celebrated as MakaraSankranthi.
Gujarathis and Rajasthanis celebrate it as Uttarayana.
In Haryana, HimachalPradesh and Punjab it is celebrated as Lohri.
Assamese celebrated it as MaghBihu or BhogaliBihu.
Nepaesel celebrate it as MagheSankrantior Makar Sankranti.
In Tamilnadu, it is a tradition for the housewives to boilmilk at dawn in a new clay pot. When the milkboils and spills over the vessel, the folk blow the (a conch) yell “PongaloPongal!“ The Tamils consider watching the milkboil and spill over as auspicious as it connotes “good luck and prosperity.“
Later, the women prepare Pongal by boiling rice with fresh milk and jaggery in new clay pots. When the rice is half-cooked, sugar, ghee, cashew nuts and raisins are added to the pot. This traditional preparation of sweet rice or Chakkarai Pongal derives its name from the festival.
Newly cooked rice is first offered to the Sun at sunrise as gratitude for a bountiful harvest. Women prepare savouries and sweets such as vadai, murukku, payasam, etc., which they share with their neighbours.
In Islam marriage is considered as an extremely desirable institution, hence its conception of marriage as the rule of life, and divorce only as an exception to that rule. According to a Hadith, Prophet Muhammad said, “Marriage is one of my Sunnah (way). One who does not follow it does not belong to me.” (Ibn Majah, Sunan, Kitab an-Nikah.)
The disintegration of a family has an injurious effect on the society. If the family no longer exists, the whole of humanity suffers.
Nature demands that men and women lead their lives together. According to the Sharia, or Islamic religious law which forms a part of the Islamic tradition, the ideal way of leading such a life is within the bonds of marriage.
In Islam, marriage is both a highly sacred bond to which great religious and social importance is attached and a civil contract entered into by mutual consent of the bride and groom.
The state of marriage lays the foundations for family life. Once a man and a woman are tied together in the bonds of matrimony, they are expected to do their utmost, till the day they die to honour and uphold what the Qur’an (4:20-21) calls their firm contract, or pledge.
وَإِنْ أَرَدتُّمُ اسْتِبْدَالَ زَوْجٍ مَّكَانَ زَوْجٍ وَآتَيْتُمْ إِحْدَاهُنَّ قِنطَارًا فَلَا تَأْخُذُوا مِنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ أَتَأْخُذُونَهُ بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا – 4:20 But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?
وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَىٰ بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنكُم مِّيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا – 4:21 And how could you take it while you have gone in unto each other and they have taken from you a solemn covenant?
To this end, the full thrust of the Sharia Law is levelled at preventing the occurrence of divorce and exists primarily, as checks and not incentives.
All men and women are by nature quite different from each other, biologically. It is an accepted fact that everyone, man or woman, has strengths and weaknesses. This is equally true of husbands and wives. So, when a man and a woman are enjoined to live together as husband and wife, naturally they would have their differences.
Unity can be achieved only through patience and tolerance. According to Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet said, “No believing man should bear any grudge against a believing woman. If one of her ways is not to his liking, there must be many things about her that would please him. “ (Muslim, Sahih, Kitab ar-Rada’, 2/1091)
So, in a marriage, each partner should consciously recognize the plus points of the other and ignore the minus points. Nevertheless, in a few cases, unpleasantness crops up gradually increasing the friction between a husband and his wife preventing them from arriving at a just settlement of their differences reaching a stage of desperation that they become intent on divorce.
In such a situation, the Sharia Law gives them guidance by prescribing a specific method for separation.
The Qur’an (2:229) expresses it thus:
الطَّلَاقُ مَرَّتَانِ ۖ فَإِمْسَاكٌ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ تَسْرِيحٌ بِإِحْسَانٍ ۗ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَأْخُذُوا مِمَّا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ شَيْئًا إِلَّا أَن يَخَافَا أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ ۖ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا يُقِيمَا حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَلَا جُنَاحَ عَلَيْهِمَا فِيمَا افْتَدَتْ بِهِ ۗ تِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّهِ فَلَا تَعْتَدُوهَا ۚ وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ – 2:229 “Divorce may be pronounced twice, then a woman must be retained in honour or allowed to go with kindness.” (Qur’an, 2:229)
From this verse, we understand that once a man gives notice of divorce to his wife (not menstruating at that time) by pronouncing twice, “I divorce you,” both are expected to think the situation over a period of two months and should remember God before giving notice a third time. If the husband has a change of opinion during this period, he can withdraw his words and he should keep his spouse with him in a spirit of goodwill. On the other hand, if he still wants to divorce her, he will say again, “I divorce you,” to his wife (not menstruating at that time) and they must again review the situation for a further month. During that period, if the husband has had a change of heart, he has the right to revoke the proceedings. If at the end of the third month he does not change his mind and does not revoke the proceedings then the divorce becomes final and the man ceases to have any right to revoke it. Now he is obliged to part with his wife in a spirit of goodwill, does no injustice to her, and gives her full rights.
This prescribed method of divorce has ensured that it is a well-considered, planned arrangement and not just a rash step taken in a fit of emotion. When we remember that in most cases, divorce is the result of a fit of anger, we realize that the prescribed method places a tremendous curb on divorce. It takes into account that anger never lasts and tempers cool down after some time.
Those who feel like divorcing their wives in a fit of anger will certainly repent their emotional outburst and will wish to withdraw from the predicament it has put them in. It also takes into account that divorce is a not a simple matter: it amounts to the breaking up of the home and destroying the children’s future. It is only when tempers have cooled down that the dire consequences of divorce are realized, and the necessity to revoke the decision becomes clear.
When a man marries a woman, he has to say only once that he accepts her as his spouse. But for finalizing a divorce three utterances are required, and the Qur’an enjoins a long gap of the three-month period for formalizing it. The purpose of this gap is to give the husband enough time to revise his decision and to consult the well-wishers around him. It also allows time for relatives to intervene in the hopes of persuading both husband and wife to avoid a divorce. Without this gap, none of these things could be achieved. That is why divorce proceedings have to be spread out over a long period of time.
All these preventive measures clearly allow frayed tempers to cool, so that the divorce proceedings need not reach a stage that is irreversible. Divorce, after all, has no saving graces, particularly in respect of its consequences. It simply amounts to rid oneself of one set of problems only to become embroiled in another set of problems.
Despite all such preventive measures, it does sometimes happen that a man acts in ignorance, or is rendered incapable of thinking coolly by a fit of anger. Then on a single occasion, in a burst of temper, he utters the word “divorce” three times in a row, “talaq, talaq, talaq!”
Such incidents, which took place in the Prophet’s lifetime, still take place even today. Now the question arises as to how the would-be divorcer should be treated. Should his three utterances of talaq be treated as only one, and should he then be asked to extend his decision over a three-month period? Or should his three utterances of talaq on a single occasion be equated with the three utterances of talaq made separately over a three-month period?
There is a Hadith recorded by Imam Abu Dawud and several other traditionists which can give us guidance in this matter: Rukana ibn Abu Yazid said “talaq” to his wife three times on a single occasion. Then he was extremely sad at the step he had taken. The Prophet asked him exactly how he had divorced her. He replied that he had said “talaq” to her three times in a row. The Prophet then observed, “All three count as only one. If you want, you may revoke it.” (Fath al-Bari, 9/275)
A man may say, “talaq” to his wife three times in a row, in contravention of the Sharia’s prescribed method, thereby committing a sin, but if he was known to be in an emotionally overwrought state at the time his act may be considered a mere absurdity arising from human weakness. His three utterances of the word talaq may be taken as an expression of the intensity of his emotions and thus the equivalent of only one such utterance. He is likely to be told that, having transgressed a Sharia Law, he must seek God’s forgiveness, must regard his three utterances as only one, and must take a full three months to arrive at his final decision.
On Tuesday, August 22, 2017, in a landmark judgement, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, Kurian Joseph, Rohinton Fali Norman, Uday Umesh Lalit and Abdul Nazeer struck down the practice of Triple Talaq declaring it as unconstitutional on the grounds that it goes against the Sharia Law and the basic tenets of the Quran.
The Quint spoke to noted Muslim jurist and former chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Tahir Mahmood, on the obscurity of the debate surrounding triple talaq. Here are excerpts from the conversation.
“If we go strictly by the teachings of the Holy Quran or by the teachings of the Prophet, it is one of the best laws that humankind can have. This law is about 1,500 years old. It is a wonder that we had such a progressive law at that time.
In 7th century AD, Prophet Mohammad gave inheritance rights to women. We did not have equal rights for men and women, but the law provided for at least half the share to be given to the wife, the daughter, granddaughter, the mother, or even distant relatives. This would’ve been inconceivable anywhere else in the 7th century. That was one progressive aspect of it.
But the law as written in the holy book of Quran is very different from what is in practice. The world has no time to look at what the Quran says. Muslims all over the world go by what the community dictates, not by Quranic text.
The practice of triple talaq is most un-Islamic, most un-Quranic. Even if it’s single talaq, the result will be the same. What is being objected to, in the name of triple divorce, is the practice of Muslim men unilaterally divorcing their wives without following the procedure laid down in the Quran.
Triple divorce is a misnomer. The problem is unilateral divorce. The divorce laws are very comprehensive, but no one, including the maulavis, is following the religious text. The law is not just being implemented wrong, its interpretation is being completely distorted. The judiciary is the only means to correct this. There is no other way.”