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    The small Sri Mangalambiga Vilas eatery could be easily missed as a non-descript joint in this temple-cum-business town but for a board reading “Since 1914” kept outside amidst the bustle on the lane leading to the Adi Kumbeswarar Temple.

    It is not easy to remain in the restaurant business for over 100 years serving traditional South Indian dishes like idly, dosa and others. All the more in Kumbakonam, where almost every eatery serves tasty food and the famed degree coffee.

    The success of Sri Mangalambiga Vilas becomes evident when one starts eating the sponge-like soft steaming idly or the crispy dosa (rice or rava) with sambar and coconut chutney.

    A little girl who was troubling her mother by refusing to eat the idly on her banana leaf started gulping it down fast after the first bite.

    The South Indian coffee – a mix of milk, coffee decoction and sugar – tasted great.

    There was a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) family from the US enjoying their meal at the cramped eatery without making any fuss. The staff treated them like any other guests, a pointer that NRI guests are regulars there.

    The lunch (rice, sambar, rasam, curd/buttermilk, vegetables) is also good – light on the purse and the stomach. It is a pleasant surprise to hear the staff enquiring from the guests if they wabt second or third helpings of vegetable curries, whereas in such places, you will only get a single small cup.

    “The hotel must have been functioning even prior to 1914. But I do not have any record. Based on my father’s age at the time of his death and his age when he came to Kumbakonam I arrived at the year 1914. That is why I have used the words “Since 1914” and not “Established 1914,” proprietor H. Rajagopal told IANS.

    He said his father V.G. Harihara Iyer came to Kumbakonam when he was 14 to work in the eatery, then owned by a named Thayu Patti.

    “My father died in 1955 when he was 52 years old. By that time, he had bought the hotel from Thayu Patti, who decided to quit the business due to her old age,” Rajagopal said.

    In those days the eatery was also called Sannadhi Kadai or Koil Kadai.

    While there are outlets in Chennai proclaiming to sell Kumbakonam Degree Coffee, strangely no such boards were visible in Kumbakonam itself.

    According to Rajagopal, coffee which is prepared with the first decoction and freshly boiled, pure cow’s milk, is called degree coffee.

    “Coffee decoction is made pouring boiling water on coffee powder kept in a filter. The filtered decoction will be strong. It is called first decoction and coffee made with this is called degree coffee,” he said.

    Rajagopal said another round of decoction can be obtained from the same coffee powder but it will be lighter.

    “Degree coffee made with cow’s milk would taste better than the one made with buffalo milk. We used to roast coffee beans ourselves. The more the beans are roasted the decoction yield will be lower but the coffee would taste better,” he pointed out.

    “Today, rich people come here. But the hotel is not for the rich class. People from all walks of lives frequent the hotel,” Rajagopal, also known as Ramani, remarked.

    According to K. Hariharan, who manages the eatery, Tamil and Telugu movie actors have visited the place.

    Rajagopal’s cousin Ambi Iyer has acted in Tamil movie “Nanban” made by director S. Shankar.

    “Shankar, in his younger days, had bought tiffin from our hotel. At that time he had seen Ambi Iyer. And in “Nanban”, he had a role suitable for Ambi Iyer,” Hariharan told IANS.

    However, business establishments too have to change with times and Sri Mangalambiga Vilas is no exception. In 2010 the 30-cover eatery was renovated and another round of renovation and expansion is in the offing.

    “We are planning to expand by soon opening an air-conditioned dining hall which would increase the number of covers,” Hariharan said.

    According to Rajagopal, there are several traditional South Indian dishes like sevvai and others that can be added to the menu so that the offering is not limited to items like idly, dosa, upma and pongal, among others.

    Rajagopal does not have any plans of branching out on his own or on franchising the model.

    “My elder daughter in the US wants to open an outlet there,” Rajagopal said.

    On his plans for celebrating the centenary or say naming a dish with 100 as the suffix, Rajagopal said he had not thought about that.

    (Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at

    source: / Business Standard / Home> News-IANS> Features / IANS / Kumbakonam (TamilNadu) / January 21st, 2014

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    January 31st, 2014adminBusiness & Economy, Records, All

    Coimbatore :

    Hold your breath shareholders! Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) has declared an interim dividend of 9,000 per cent. Yes, you read it right.

    That’s actually Rs 900 per share of Rs 10 each, for the fiscal ending March 2014.

    The board of this Tuticorin-headquartered bank took a decision to this effect at a meeting held on January 18.

    Bank sources said this would translate into an outgo of Rs 25.6 crore (unchanged from last year).

    Highest in the sector

    The 9,000 per cent interim dividend is said to be the highest in the banking industry and this is the second year in a row that the bank has declared such a high dividend. It may be recalled that the bank’s board had approved a dividend of Rs 750 per share for 2008-09 and Rs 1,000 per share the following year, but could not make the payment as the annual general meetings for 2009-10 and 2010-11 were not held due to legal issues.

    Legal tangles

    The AGMs for the subsequent years have also not been held till date.

    As a result of the legal tangles, the bank has been compelled to hold back some major decisions, including the plan to go for an initial public offering.

    Bank sources said TMB’s shares continue to trade at between Rs 60,000 and Rs 65,000 a share in the informal market.

    source: / Business Line / Home / by L. N. Revathy / Coimbatore – January 21st, 2014

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    Madurai :

    Even as the climatic conditions are not favourable and drought-like condition appears imminent, a group of farmers from Kannanur village in Chellampatti Union are confident to tide over the crisis with the system of mulch farming. In mulch farming method, the root soil of the plant is covered with the plastic sheet or organic materials. The method is beneficial to save moisture on the earth, reduce weed growth and protect the soil fertility.

    The farmers in the village were desperately looking out for some alternative since they were finding weeding laborious and finding workers for the task was even more troublesome.

    P Kaniraja (37) from the village stumbled upon a news about mulch farming of using plastic sheets in Tharapuram and Thuraiyur in Trichy district. A school drop out; the progressive farmer keeps track of all new inventions in the field and wanted to try mulch farming in 2008. He attempted mulch farming on tuberose which turned out to be a huge success for him. “We chose tuberose since it is 1,000 day crop and the mulches can be used for long without replacing,” Kaniraja said. While in conventional farming he used to run around for agricultural labourers for weeding but along with his wife Sathya, he completes weeding work in just few hours once in a while.

    “Weeds are real menace in tuberose and it will cause lot of damage if not removed on time. The soil will lose its fertility since weeds consume the nutrients and chemical fertilisers have to be used in that case. It bears lot of financial burden on the farmers. Mulch farming is really beneficial for the farmers since we are relieved of weeds and additional cost on fertilising the soil,” says M Selvam, another tuberose farmer from the village.

    Another great benefit of mulch farming is that the plastic layers prevent moisture loss from the ground and the plants require lesser water. Sprinklers are ideal for irrigation. “In conventional irrigation method, water has to be pumped three to four hours continuously for an acre of cultivation but operating sprinklers for 15 minutes in a day is all sufficient for the plants. We can irrigate on alternate days also,” Kaniraja explained.

    Some 10 farmers from the village are making use of mulch farming and they are actively promoting it among their friends. “Initially, five of us adopted mulch farming and many other farmers are showing interest due to its benefit. There are around 10 of us in the village and two more started it recently,” said Selvam.

    “It will be beneficial to fight drought season also since it requires hardly 1/10{+t}{+h} of the water used in conventional methods,” said Kaniraja. Out of his interest, he had created a rose garden under mulch farming in nearby Arul Anandar College at Karumathur. College principal, Fr Xavier Vedham said that the model farm is attracting a lot of farmers. “We have kept it as demo model and many farmers are visiting to have a look of it,” he said.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai> Soil / TNN / by J Arockiaraj, TNN / January 22nd, 2014

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    Madurai  :

    About 100 delegates representing reputed eye hospitals from across the world have arrived in Madurai to participate in the first annual meeting of the World Association of Eye Hospitals (WAEH) in India. The five-day event commenced here on Tuesday with a board meeting of WAEH. The meet would be officially inaugurated on Wednesday.

    Aravind Eye Care System, Madurai, is hosting the eighth edition of WAEH meet that commenced in 2007.

    Ophthalmologists and eye surgeons will discuss various developments and problems in their field during the sessions. Representatives of hospitals, including some centuries-old eye hospitals, are attending the event, said Johannes Cornelis Adrianus, president of WAEH.

    Various topics, including digital innovations in eye-care and extended roles of non-medical staff, apps in healthcare, current and future developments in the ambulatory care environment, future healthcare and technology to improve efficiency will be discussed elaborately, Adrianus said.

    The meet is an opportunity for WAEH members to interact and exchange knowledge about professional topics.

    R D Thulasiraj, executive director of Aravind Eye Care System, said latest technology available globally is available in India also. Medical tourism is picking up in India with several foreigners from small developing nations arriving. All new technologies and methods in the field would be shared during the gathering, said.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / TNN / January 22nd, 2014

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    The pits, the Coimbatore Corporation has dug for processing wet waste at the Chokkampudur burial ground./  Photo: S. Siva Saravanan / The Hindu

    The pits, the Coimbatore Corporation has dug for processing wet waste at the Chokkampudur burial ground./ Photo: S. Siva Saravanan / The Hindu

    Being done on experimental basis at Chokkampudur

    Following the initiative to segregate waste at ward 23 in R.S. Puram, the Coimbatore Corporation has taken the next step by processing wet waste.

    According to Corporation Commissioner G. Latha, the civic body had started the process a week ago, on an experimental basis, at the Chokkampudur crematorium, where the civic body had dug three pits to process the waste.

    The area councillor S. Manimeghalai said that conservancy workers collected two small truck loads of wet waste, took it to the crematorium, where they dumped it in the first pit.

    The workers then sprinkled effective micro-organism solution to hasten the process of composting.

    They also topped it with dry waste and dried and powdered cow dung to complete the process.

    Thereafter, every day, the workers would stir the waste till the 20 day.

    They would then transfer the waste to the second pit.

    Once the experiment was complete, the workers would dig a bigger pit to accommodate the entire ward’s wet waste. Ms. Manimeghalai said that the initiative had provided a solution in wet waste management, which became necessary after the Corporation and residents came together to segregate waste.

    Every day, the workers in the ward collected six-and-half to seven tonnes of dry waste, which they sold to a private firm which paid the workers at Rs. 3 a kg.


    Ms. Latha said that the local processing of wet waste also helped the Corporation save on fuel in that the civic body need not transport the waste till the compost yard in Vellalore.

    The motto was local solution for local problem.

    If the civic body found the process successful, it could consider replicating it in other wards, starting with the four wards where it had begun waste segregation.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by Staff Reporter / Coimbatore – January 22nd, 2014

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    Madurai :

    As alternative methods of farming are tried to boost agricultural output, the state government is keen on promoting kitchen gardens to produce fresh fruits and vegetables. Arul Anandar College at Karumathur, 25 km from Madurai city, has been raising vegetables in sacks and that too with the least of water to counter water shortage in the region.

    Though, sack cultivation is not novel, its irrigation method is rarely heard of, at least in the region. Discarded pet bottles of 2 to 3 litres are hung upside down from a pole attached to the sack. Intravenous tubes used to give saline to patients are used to regulate water flow to plants.

    The college has been involved in several research work in agriculture under the Rural Development Science (RDS) programme. The RDS department has been testing sack cultivation for the last few years as it is ideal for raising vegetables especially creepers on terrace, said college sources. The practice involves filling discarded plastic sacks with enriched soil and composted coir so that the sack weighs light. After successfully growing creeper vegetables like ash guards, snake guards, bitter guard and pumpkin in this way, the college has started experimenting with intercrops like brinjal and ladies finger of late.

    Second-year students of the RDS department water the plants once in two or three days. Guru Eswaran, one of them, said purpose of the saline tubes is to regulate water flow. “We fill bottles once in two or three days. In case of holidays, we can reduce the flow so that the water in the bottle lasts for a week’s time,” he explained. The students also add diluted vermicompost wash (the concentrated run-off water obtained from vermicompost fields) into the bottles as fertiliser.

    Ambudoss Arvind, associate agriculture professor, said sack cultivation is ideal for roof-top gardens and kitchen gardens. Using this method, one can save space and water, besides adopt organic methods. It could be used even in dry areas not fit for conventional farming. “We are also trying poly-bags for kitchen gardens. Pesticide spraying is very intense in conventional method of farming. Vegetable crops can be raised organically too. A kitchen garden can serve the needs of an entire street,” he claimed.

    Besides research, the college also demonstrates innovative farming practices to farmers. College principal Fr Xavier Vedham said the RDS department sensitises local farmers about its innovative methods.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai> Vegetables / by J. Arockiaraj, TNN / January 19th, 2014

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    January 29th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Sports
    Maxwell Jude Anthony in action./  Photo: G. Krishnaswamy / The Hindu

    Maxwell Jude Anthony in action./ Photo: G. Krishnaswamy / The Hindu

    Maxwell Jude Anthony teaches women easy defence techniques at his Shorinji Kempo classes. Vipasha Sinha reports

    There is no need to kick and punch to escape assailants, all you need to do is to put little bit of pressure at the right spot. Maxwell Jude Anthony says this feature makes Shorinji Kempo one of the best self-defence arts for women.

    “There is now a lot of talk about self-defence for women. They are being encouraged to learn physically demanding defence techniques. This approach may not be practical as assailants are well-prepared and attack after observing the victim. Often they work in pairs. Even if you hit them in the groin and put them down, they may return with more accomplices,” says Maxwell, who considers Shorinji Kempo effective in immobilisingthe attacker.

    “All you have to do is apply pressure on certain points in the body and the recipient automatically reacts to it and loses the grip. For instance, there are around 180 points in the wrist, which can be worked upon to desensitise the attacker. It is a camouflage technique, where the attacker is caught off guard and before he comes to his senses, you have enough time to escape, ” he says.

    Maxwell has been practising this art for 23 years. “Back in 1990, I saw a poster saying Shorinji Kempo, martial arts classes by Kirtie Kumar Futnani. Shorenji in Tamil means scratching, which piqued my curiosity and I went to the class. He invited me for a demonstration, where he was teaching kids. As past of the session, he asked me to grab his hand and the next thing I knew, I was flying mid-air to the other side of the room and the kids were clapping. I did know what had happened. The science of it got me intrigued and I practiced it regularly under my guru. I went on to be his successor and began practising as well as training,” says Maxwell, who also trains the visually impaired in foot reflexology.

    Founded by Doshin So, Shorinji Kempo, translated as Fist Way of Shaolin Temple, was used as a healing technique in Japan post World War to help people in distress. It was used to cure people through acupuncture by activating various pressure points. Later it was developed into a self defence-technique, especially for women and children.

    Maxwell organises Shorinji Kempo workshops on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 a.m. to 6.45 a.m. and 7 a.m. to 7.45 a.m. Venue: Russian Culture Centre, 27, Kasturi Ranga Road, Alwarpet, Kasthuri Ranga Rd, Parthasarathypuram, Teynampet.

    For details, call 4352 9970, 90251 40051.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai> DownTown / by Vipasha Sinha / Chennai – January 18, 2014

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    Malaysian Hindu devotee Karthi Gan grimaces while tapping his feet to the beat of ritual drums as two men plunge dozens of sharp hooks into his chest and back.

    The painful ritual is Karthi’s way of giving thanks to the Hindu deity Muruga as part of the country’s colourful annual Thaipusam festival, one of the world’s most extreme displays of religious devotion.

    Celebrated also in India and other areas with significant Tamil communities, the three-day festival that kicked off yesterday is marked with particular zest among Malaysian Indians.

    Hordes of Hindus flock to temples across the country with offerings, many showing their fervour via extensive piercing or by bearing the elaborately decorated burdens called “kavadi” that are carried to religious sites.

    “I got what I asked from Lord Muruga,” said Karthi, a 31-year-old engineer, who prayed during last year’s festival for “a good life”.

    “I got a new-born baby. I got a new home,” he said late last night, when he and thousands of others began the slow and painful process of affixing their kavadi in the northern state of Penang.

    His styrofoam kavadi structure — a frame attached to his hips and crowned by a peacock-eye design — was relatively light.

    The piercing, however, had him feeling “a little nervous” ahead of the ritual just outside a Hindu temple, but he soon joined dozens of others who submitted to the ordeal.

    Installing the kavadi, however, is merely the beginning.

    In Penang, devotees then paraded barefoot for hours today through the streets of the state capital Georgetown, carrying kavadi that can weigh as much as 100 kilogrammes.

    Participants swayed trance-like to drumbeats that had throbbed since yesterday.

    Cheered on by friends and family who danced and chanted, the processions culminated in an 800-step climb to a hilltop temple for prayers.

    Thaipusam commemorates the day when, according to Hindu mythology, the goddess Pavarthi gave her son Lord Muruga a lance to slay evil demons.

    More than two million of racially diverse Malaysia’s 28 million people are ethnic Indian, mostly descendants of labourers brought in under British colonial rule. Most are Hindu.

    source: / Business Standard / Home> PTI Stories> National> News / AFP / Georgetown (Malaysia) / January 17th, 2014

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    The event by Center for Tamil Culture is to be held from January 20 to 22

    The Center for Tamil Culture will organise a three-day meeting of eminent Tamil writers and scholars across the globe in the city from January 20 to 22.

    Titled ‘Thayagam Kadantha Tamil’, the international conference will see the participation of 35 experts from all over the world, said Nalla G. Palaniswami, founder-chairman of the Center, here on Friday.

    The experts include R. Karthickesu from Malaysia, Cheran and A. Muthulingam from Canada, Nagarathnam Krishna from France, S. Ponnudurai from Australia, Shanmuga Siva and Muthu Nedumaran from Malaysia, Ulriche Nicholas from Germany, Kalaimagal from China, Seethalakshmi and Azhagiya Pandian from Singapore – all experts in their field, said senior journalist Maalan, who is the convener of the international conference.

    Seven sessions

    There would be seven sessions which will focus on literature, media, technology and education, for the four were important to take Tamil to the next generation.

    Sirpi Balasubramaniam, one of the trustees of the Centre, said that there were writers, scholars and experts from 12 countries to talk about their experience.

    They will elaborate on their understanding of language, how they viewed the Tamil publishing world, how technology had helped bridge the divide among Tamil writers and many more interesting topics.

    This was not the first programme. The Centre for Tamil Culture had conducted such an event, he said. It had also organised events focussing on Tamil writers from the Kongu region and honouring writers, he added.

    Improving quality

    Later talking to The Hindu Mr. Maalan said that the main aim of involving writers from outside Tamil Nadu will help improve quality of works published here. In other words the participants would surely bring in variety and experience that would enhance quality to whatever was available locally.

    It would also bring in new sections to Tamil literature just as there was American literature, African literature. He also hoped that in addition there would also be dialogue and synergy among the writers.

    He said that it was wrong to say that the Tamil diaspora literature was dominated by those from Sri Lanka, though it was true that there were many from the island nation, who shared their experience of being away from homeland and the struggle they went through.

    The Tamil diaspora literature included publications from people from Australia, Switzerland, Canada, the U.S., Malaysia and Singapore. And their experiences and works were as varied as any other. At the conference one could find feminist literature, post-modern literature and much more.

    Mr. Maalan said that a concerted effort was needed to take the works of writers outside Tamil Nadu to readers across the world and suggested that e-publishing could be a way out.


    Though a few publications in Tamil Nadu encouraged writers from abroad, the best way forward was e-publishing. But it was not uploading content that was converted into the printable document format.

    It had to be e-publishing in the real sense, he said and added that efforts were also being made to take the works to the mobile platform. He also welcomed the government support to such endeavours.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by Karthik Madhavan / Coimbatore – January 18th, 2014

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    Trichy :

    The Welding Research Institute (WRI) has signed a protocol of intention with Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany for joint working in the area of power source evaluation facility.

    The pact was signed at a function held at the WRI of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) on Thursday in the presence of A V Krishnan, executive director, BHEL, Trichy and senior executives.

    On behalf of Leibniz University, Prof Dr Ing D Rehfeldt exchanged the signed protocol with R Easwaran, general manager (WRI & Labs), BHEL, Trichy.

    Krishnan said that WRI has taken the right initiative to become a world class institute and this research – academia partnership will augment its efforts to develop a centre for welding power source evaluation which would be helpful to the nation in a big way.

    He also said that by bridging the technology gap, WRI can evaluate the current generation power sources, which have several advanced features and needed to be evaluated for their dynamic characteristics. Various manufacturing sectors in the country would benefit through the development.

    Prof Rehfeldt said that Leibniz University is looking forward for the joint establishment of the power source evaluation facility at WRI.

    It is not only the hardware and software of the equipment, but the human mind working on this, that would fully unleash the potential of the technologies, said Rehfeldt.

    Easwaran said the modern inverter-based power sources have many added features for improving the depth of penetration of welds, making spatter-free welds, welding thin sheets, etc and understanding the dynamic characteristics of the power sources required a high power data acquisition system in tandem with a high speed visualization system as well as automation even manual welding, to avoid human hand unsteadiness.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Trichy> Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited / TNN / January 18th, 2014

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