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    A ‘Nalla Soru’ member preparing traditional food | R Satish Babu

    A ‘Nalla Soru’ member preparing traditional food | R Satish Babu

    When Rajamurugan, a catering graduate, was mulling an alternative for junk food, he hit upon the idea of bringing nutritious small millets into the modern day cooking menu.

    Thus was born ‘Nalla Soru’,  with a team of five members, all aged between 25 and 30, from different parts of Tamil Nadu.

    “During my college days, I used to take part in several cooking competitions. I prepared food items using small millets and herbs. I used athimadhuram instead of sugar in halwas. My innovative cooking skills were appreciated by many and I won many prizes. That inspired me to take up this venture,” said Rajamurugan.

    Coming from a family of agriculturists, Rajamurugan completed his masters in Business Administration and was pondering over starting a food processing firm.

    While on the Tata Jagriti Yatra — an 18-day rail tour across India — Rajamurugan got introduced to a team ‘Nalla Keerai’ from Chennai that produced green leaves and vegetables through organic farming. That was when the idea of starting ‘Nalla Soru’ struck him. From then on, there was no turning back for him and his team.

    “Making millets as a wholesome food item is our vision. By using small millets such as thinai (foxtail millet), saamai (little millet), varagu (Kodo), pani varagu (proso millet), kudhiraivaali (barnyard millet), ragi (finger millet), kambu (pearl millet) and solam (jowar), we are now able to cook more than 150 traditional food items. We conceptualised this in 2005, but implemented it only a year before,” he said.

    “There are many preparing similar kind of traditional food items. But we are the only team using only small millets in our preparation.” The small millets and other required ingredients are brought from areas such as Tirumangalam in Madurai, Thanjavur and several other places from Andhra Pradesh. Vegetables used in the food are grown by organic farming method. “We only use mud pots for cooking,” he said.

    Adding that traditional dishes are still in vogue in several parts of Kongu region and Madurai, he said, “Sunduvara Rasam and Kozhi Saru in Kongu and Madurai respectively would be given to women post-delivery, as they cleanse the uterus.”

    In parts of Madurai and Thanjavur, Ulunthangkali is given to girls who attain puberty and in Kongu region, Karuppatti Pottukkadalai mix is the most preferred.

    The protein and iron rich food items will protect girls from becoming anaemic,” Rajamurugan said. “We must pass on the benefits of traditional food items to future generations. I am in the process of writing a book on these food preparations,” he added.

    But how much will these food items cost? “Less than a pizza, burger or noodles,” Rajamurugan quipped.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by N Vinoth Kumar – Chennai / January 03rd, 2013

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    Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited (SSTL) that provides telecom services under the MTS brand has announced the launch of its high-speed mobile broadband service, MBlaze in 37 new towns across Tamil Nadu  – Neyveli, Sathyamangalam, Tindivanam, Viluppuram, Rasipuram, Pattukkottai, Tenkasi, Udumalaipettai, Oddanchatram, Periyakulam, Sivaganga, Kallakkurichi, Virudhachalam, Gobichettipalayam, Sankarankoil, Mayiladuthurai,  Surandai, Arakonam, Omalur, Pallipalayam, Panruti, Andipatti Jakkampatti, Pavoor chatram, Avaniapuram, Batlagundu, Chinnalapatti, Keelakarai, Othakadai, Sokalampatti, Thirupuvanam, Thirupathur, Tiruvethipuram, Papanasam, Pattamadai, Perur-Chettipalayam, Nallur and Thirunageswaram.  With this roll out, MTS has expanded its high speed data footprint to over 140 towns across Tamil Nadu.

    According to Suresh S Kumar, Chief Operating Officer Tamil Nadu Circle, MTS India, “MTS is focused on expanding its high speed data network across the country. As a part of the same endeavor, I am proud to announce the launch of MBlaze services in 37 new towns in Tamil Nadu. This latest expansion will enable MTS data customers to experience state-of-the-art high speed data services including Live TV and Games-on-Demand”. Adding further, Suresh said, “MTS has over 1,75,000 data customers across Tamil Nadu and with further expansion in our HSD footprint in the state, we expect to add many more customers in the next few months”.

    source: / Light Reading India / Home> News Wire Feed / June 20th, 2013

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     Kannerimukku is where John Sullivan fell in love with the hills and discovered Ooty, writes SUBHA J RAO

    Sullivan Memorial./ Photo: Subha J Rao / The Hindu

    Sullivan Memorial./ Photo: Subha J Rao / The Hindu

    January 8, 1819, Dimbatty Valley. Sitting in a valley kissed by the clouds, Collector of Coimbatore, John Sullivan, 31, wrote to Sir Thomas Munro, Governor of Madras: “My dear Colonel, I have been in the Highlands for the last week. This is the finest country… it resembles I suppose Switzerland more than any other part of Europe… it freezes here every night, this morning we found ice in our Water chatties (clay pots).”

    Sullivan's first letter from Nilgiris. Photo: Subha J Rao

    Sullivan’s first letter from Nilgiris. Photo: Subha J Rao

    Nearly two centuries later, the valley still retains part of the charm that captivated Sullivan, who went on to found Ooty, the first hill station in India. On a wet June afternoon, the tea plantations and vegetable patches shimmer a bright green. In a way, they are a tribute to Sullivan. For, it was he who introduced European fruit trees, vegetables and flowers to the hills and suggested that the British cultivate tea there.

    John Sullivan./ Photo: Special Arrangement

    John Sullivan./ Photo: Special Arrangement

    When he first trekked up the Neilgherry (as the Nilgiris were then known) with a contingent of soldiers, elephants and ponies (who were disbanded halfway), it was through dense shola-filled forests and steep cliffs. During his second visit to Dimbatty (which means soft, pillow like) valley, Sullivan set up a camp. Later, it became a two-storey structure called Pethakal bungalow, named after a sacred stone that existed there. Sullivan lived there till 1823. In the five-acre property, he experimented with cultivation of potato and other English vegetables such as cabbage, beetroot and carrot. In the 1820s, the spud finally made its appearance in Ooty.

    Today, the area is called Kannerimukku. You drive past winding roads, mist-soaked mountains, tea factories and tiled houses to reach the memorial, resplendent in brick red against a sea of green. When Dharmalingam Venugopal, director of the John Sullivan Memorial and Nilgiri History Museum (now housed in the Memorial), first saw it, it was crumbling, a pale shadow of the edifice it once was. In the years leading to its ruin, it was ironically used to store hay and the very potato that Sullivan introduced!

    Today, with Government funds (the Hill Area Development Programme) and private donations, it stands two-storeys tall; the rooms hold a treasure trove of material about Sullivan and his family, the role of the British in the Nilgiris and the traditions of the local tribes.

    There’s an original pencil sketch of John Sullivan, drawn when he was a lad of 15, before he set out for India. It was donated by historian and writer, David Sullivan, his great great-grandson.

    There are also some exhibits collected by Venugopal that show you what life in the hills used to be like. A Badaga wooden food plate polished with use, hunting tools of local tribes, the bugiri, a cane flute used by communities in the Nilgiris, photographs of the local tribes by the self-taught Philo Hiruthayanath….

    The section on the modes of communication and transportation in the hills is an eye-opener. The Nilgiris had six entry points (Sispara Ghat, Mulli, Gudalur, Sigur, Coonoor and Kotagiri) at a time when most hill stations had two. Today, five remain open; the original Sispara Ghat that connected it to Calicut has been closed. And, how did people travel? By foot, horseback, palanquin and tonga.

    The Sullivan Memorial in Konnerimukku /  Photo: Subha J Rao

    The Sullivan Memorial in Konnerimukku / Photo: Subha J Rao

    Though the Memorial is located just two km off Kotagiri, this is not a road regular tourists tread. But, there’s every reason why they should. Because, this is where it all began, years ago on a cold January day.

    (June 15 marks John Sullivan’s 225th birth anniversary. The Nilgiri Documentation Centre, which works out of Sullivan Memorial, organises a two-day trek on June 15 and 16 to retrace the Sullivan trail.)

    Getting there

    Drive up to Kotagiri, about 75 km from Coimbatore. Take the road leading to Ooty. The memorial is two km from Kotagiri, past Ramchand Square and Kotagiri Medical Fellowship.

    What to do

    Read the well-documented panels at the memorial ( that throw the spotlight on the making of a hill station.

    Browse through the books on the Nilgiris that Venugopal has collected.

    Visit the Ooty lake, created by Sullivan, and Stonehouse, where he lived. It now houses the Government Arts College. Plan a trip to St. Stephen’s Church, Ooty, where Sullivan’s wife Henrietta and eldest daughter Harriet are buried.

    Where to stay

    Kotagiri has many good hotels and homestays. Else, stay in Ooty (32 km) and drive down to the Memorial on your way back to the plains.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Feature> MetroPlus> Travel / by Subha J Rao / June 13th, 2013

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    June 27th, 2013adminArts, Culture & Entertainment

    In Tamil Nadu on work, Shruti Haasan recently managed to take some time off to visit her grandfather’s native place

    It’s always nice when you can mix business with pleasure. Thanks to one of her brand commitments, Shruti Haasan made a quick trip to Tamil Nadu, and managed to take some time off to visit the city of Ramanathapuram.


    The actress has spent some of her childhood days there, in the company of her grandfather D Srinivasan.

    A source says, “Shruti had gone to Tamil Nadu for a product launch. She took a break to visit Ramanathapuram. She would often long to go there but was unable to do so because of her hectic schedule.”

    Her quick visit triggered a flurry of fond memories for the actress. Says Shruti, “My grandfather was a lawyer and I visited the court where he fought his cases. It was a very proud moment for me.”

    source: / Mid Day / Home> Entertainment / by Sonali Joshi Pitale / Mumbai – June 13th, 2013

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    Some of the children having Kuttiyan as a prefix or a suffix to their names at Valayapatti village.

    Some of the children having Kuttiyan as a prefix or a suffix to their names at Valayapatti village.

    Customs followed in India’s villages range from the mundane to the strange to the bizarre but one village in Virudhunagar district has been following a unique practice, which even applies to both genders. For nearly 10 generations, residents of Valayapatti village have been naming their firstborn child, irrespective of gender, ‘Kuttiyan’ or giving any name that starts with ‘Kutti’ in honour of their ancestral deity Sakthi.

    Currently, there are around 50 people whose name starts with Kutti living in Valayapatti. While earlier there used to be many Kuttiyans in the village, in recent times, the need to avoid confusion and complications associated with certificates, villagers have preferred to use Kutti as a prefix. There are currently around eight children at the Kannappar Hindu Primary School, a government-aided institution at Valayapatti,  who are named Kutti Priya, Chinna Kutiyan and so on, while the school’s headmaster is, you guessed it- Kuttiyan!

    One among the many other Kuttiyans says that there are about 60 houses in the village. Kuttiyan explained that their ancestors, who were cowherds, had migrated from a village called Mavoothu near the Mahalingam temple in Virudhunagar. Another Kuttiyan said that the people carried over the worship of Sakthi from their ancestral village, where there is a temple to the deity as well.

    “About 10 generations ago, three of our ancestors- Periyasamy, Ponmalan and Podukalam- went hunting and caught a deer. It is believed that when they were cooking its venison in three different vessels, they found elephant calves in one vessel, baby snakes in the second and baby deer in the third vessel,” Kuttiyan explained adding that his ancestors attributed this as a miracle by Sakthi. He claimed that the custom of naming the firstborn child Kuttiyan began since then.

    T Dharmaraj, the head of the folklore department at Madurai Kamaraj University said that the residents of  Valayapatti belong to the Moopar community, a tribal group.

    “It appears that the custom of naming children as Kuttiyan started as some ancestor of the villagers may have killed a cub or pregnant animal and named their first child as Kuttiyan out of a guilty conscience,” said Dharmaraj.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Kaushik Kannan – Virudhunagar / June 27th, 2013

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    Toda embroidery dress displayed at a function in Udhagamandalam on Thursday. / Photo:.M.Sathyamoorthy / The Hindu

    Toda embroidery dress displayed at a function in Udhagamandalam on Thursday. / Photo:.M.Sathyamoorthy / The Hindu

    Toda tribal representatives on Thursday formally received a Geographical Indication certificate for their unique embroidery, which is known for its striking colours. District Collector Archana Patnaik handed over the certificate to the representatives at a function held here. The GI status was given in March by Chaitanya Prasad, Registrar of Geographical Indications. The recognition came after five years of effort by Toda Nalavaazhvu Sangham, Key Stone Foundation and Poompuhar (Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation).

    The status not only ensures uniform pricing for Toda embroidery products but also insulates the art from being duplicated.

    Of the nearly 1,600 tribal people in nearly 69 hamlets, a little more than 400 are said to be actively involved in embroidery. The product range has now widened from Pootkhulu (shawl) to wall hangings, table mat, shoulder bags and gents and ladies shopping bag.

    GI is a name or a sign used on prized goods to indicate their specific geographical location or origin, says Mathew John, trustee, Keystone Foundation. The three organisations are the Registered Proprietors of the GI.

    The art of Toda embroidery, known as ‘pukhoor,’ has been passed on to generations. Organisations such as the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India have been facilitating training programmes.

    The function was attended by Pratim Roy – director of Key Stone Foundation, Jailani of Win Lexis that supported the initiative for GI status, Prasanth from the Registry of Geographical Indications, Prem Kumar – Marketing Manager of Poompuhar, Geetha Srinivasan of INTACH, Dr. Tarun Chabra, patron of tribal community, and Kottradu Kuttan – Head of Toda Nalavaazhvu Sangham.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Udhagamandalam – June 14th, 2013

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    June 24th, 2013adminBusiness & Economy

    Chennai :  

    Groom India Salon & Spa Pvt Ltd, that owns the salon chain brand Naturals, has signed a pact with Indian Overseas Bank to promote women entrepreneurship in the country.

    According to C.K. Kumaravelu, co-founder and CEO of Groom India Salon, the bank has come forward to fund up to Rs 25 crore under the ‘Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises’ scheme to roughly 100 women franchisees identified by the company.

    Each salon will cost anywhere between Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 lakh per salon, depending on the infrastructure and location of the outlet. While the franchisee would bring in 30 per cent of the required investment, the bank will fund up to 70 per cent without demanding any collateral, he explained.

    “All these salons are expected to be up and running before the end of the current financial year,” he said.

    Naturals currently has 240 salons predominantly in the South. Of this, 230 salons are franchised out and only 10 are owned and run by the company, says Kumaravelu.

    To a question whether the Rs 180-crore company would take in any private equity player, Kumaravelu replied in the negative.

    He said though a couple of PE players expressed interest to invest if it was prepared to change the model to a company-owned one.

    “However, we have a strong feeling that the franchisee route is the best way to grow the business,” he said.

    Naturals is targeting a Rs 350-crore turnover with 3,000 outlets pan-India by 2020. Asked if that isn’t that too ambitious a target, Kumaravelu says, “Five years ago, we had only 13 outlets,” came the reply.

    source: / Business Line /  Home> Industry> Banking /  / Chennai – June 18th, 2013

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    June 23rd, 2013adminBusiness & Economy

    New Delhi :

    Water management firm Va Tech Wabag  (Wabag) today said it has received Rs 115-crore order from Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board for setting up of pumping stations and laying pipelines.

    “The order comprises construction of pumping stations and pipeline works for providing comprehensive water supply and sewerage scheme for residents of Sholinganallur-Karapakkam on the Old Mahabalipuram Road in Chennai city under Chennai Mega City  Development Mission Project,” Wabag said in a BSE  filing.

    The project is scheduled to be completed in 24 to 30 months, it said.

    “The order is special to us since this is the largest order involving pumping stations and pipeline works for Wabag till date. This is also the first comprehensive water supply and sewerage project for the firm,” Abhijit Ray Chaudhuri, Wabag’s Head, Pumping System, said.

    Shares of the company were trading at Rs 443.35 apiece towards the close of trading hours on the BSE.

    source: / The Economic Times / Home> News> News by Industry> Int’l Goods-Svs / PTI / June 10th, 2013

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    June 22nd, 2013adminSports
    Gold medal-winners with chief guest Grandmaster Adhiban Baskaran

    Gold medal-winners with chief guest Grandmaster Adhiban Baskaran

    After sweeping the field with a 9/9 score, National amateur girls champion V Varshini of Velammal School, Chennai won the individual gold medal in the Under-15 girls section in the Velammal-2nd National Schools Chess Championship, at Nehru Stadium, here on Tuesday.

    RESULTS: (Medal winners): Girls: Under-5: 1. Sree Patil (Mah) 8, 2. Shraddha Somanath (Kar) 6.5, 3. Freeyah Golia (Mah) 6. Under-7: 1. Ananya Arumbakkam (Kar) 7.5, 2. Sanskruti Wankhade (Mah) 7, 3. MS Darsana (TN) 7. Under-9: 1. Garima Gaurav (Bih) 7.5, 2. BS Samyuktha (TN) 7, 3. Jiya Shah (Mah) 7. Under-11: 1. C Lakshmi (TN) 8, 2. Bommini Mounika Akshaya (AP) 7.5, 3. Aashna Makhija (Mah) 6.5. Under-13: 1. Hilmi Parveen (Ker) 7, 2. NG Sneha (Pon) 6.5, 3.Potluri Supreetha (AP) 6.5. Under-15: 1. V Varshini (TN) 9, 2. M Mahalakshmi (TN) 7.5, 3. P Thamaraiselvi (TN) 6. Under-17: 1. P Michelle Catherina (TN) 7.5, 2. P Bala Kannamma (TN) 7, 3. M Sandhya (TN) 5.5.

    Boys: Under-5: 1. Nikhil Ramakrishnan (Ker) 9, 2. M Rohan (TN) 7, 3. Ananth Ramdas (TN) 6. Under-7: 1. M Pranesh (TN) 8, 2. Nikhil Magizhnan (TN) 8, 3. Leon Mendonca (Goa) 7.5. Under-9: 1. R Raja Rithvik (AP) 7.5, 2. Nihal Sarin (Ker) 7.5, 3. Karthik Kumar Pradeep (AP) 6.5. Under-11: 1. P Iniyan (TN) 7.5, 2. Arjun Kalyan (TN) 7.5, 3. P Yutesh (TN) 7.5. Under-13: 1. Siva Mahadevan (TN) 7, 2. Y Grahesh (AP) 7, 3. A Abhishek (Ker) 7. Under-15: 1. Rajarishi Karthi (TN) 7.5, 2. S Ajay Krishna (TN) 7.5, 3. NR Vignesh (TN) 7. Under-17: 1. Akash PC Iyer (TN) 7, 2. J Nishvin (TN) 7, 3. KG Chaithanyaa (TN) 6.

    Angles beat Eagles

    Ed6 Skill Angels defeated Erode Eagles 3-2 in an closely-fought league round of the Tamil Nadu Badminton League (TNBL), organized by SunSportz group, in association with the Tamil Nadu Badminton Association.

    RESULTS: Ed6 Skill Angels bt Erode Eagles 3-2 (Mixed Doubles: Vijay/Stacy (Ed 6 Skill Angels) lost to Sanave/Shama (Erode Eagles) 12-21, 13-21; Men Singles: Ekiring Edwin (Ed 6 Skill Angels) lost to Bjorn Siguen (Erode Eagles) 11-21, 13-21; Junior Boys Doubles: Aswin/SriTeja (Ed 6 Skill Angels) bt Siddharth Rajan/Lokesh (Erode Eagles) 21-17, 15-21, 25-23; Women Singles: Sara Naqvi (Ed 6 Skill Angels) bt Gokulalakshmi (Erode Eagles) 21-11, 21-9; Men’s Doubles: Vijay/Raghavan (Ed 6 Skill Angels) bt VN Sathyanarayana/Karthik (Erode Eagles) 21-15, 21-16).

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Sport / by Express News Service – Chennai / June 12th, 2013

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    June 21st, 2013adminEducation, Records, All



    It was a memorable day for S. Abhinesh from Dindigul who scored 200 out of 200 cut off marks in both engineering and medical counselling this year. Directorate of medical education and Anna University, which conduct counselling for medical and engineering streams, released rank list for government quota’s single window counselling on Wednesday.

    A total of 11 students secured 200 out of 200 cut off marks in engineering whereas seven secured top marks in medical stream. The cut off mark has come down by 0.25 to 0.50 marks in engineering and 0.25 in medical this year. Admission to top medical and engineering colleges is expected to be stiff this year with several students securing the same cut off marks.

    About 26,348 state board students and 850 candidates from the CBSE stream have applied for 2,903 seats in medical colleges in the state this year. In the engineering stream, 1.89 lakh students had applied for 1.97 lakh seats.

    General counselling for medical stream will start on June 19 and engineering aspirants will sit for counselling on June 21. The state will add an additional 285 seats in medical colleges after it receives an official communication from the Medical Council of India (MCI).

    As far as engineering colleges are concerned the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has approved 11 new engineering colleges in the state, which will add over 3,000 seats to the seat matrix.

    source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> News> Current Affairs / DC / June 13th, 2013

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