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    Members of Tamil Nadu Snake Research and Wild Animal Rescue Trust with a snake at an awareness programme in the city. / Photo: S. James / The Hindu

    Members of Tamil Nadu Snake Research and Wild Animal Rescue Trust with a snake at an awareness programme in the city. / Photo: S. James / The Hindu

    They are on a mission to create awareness among the public

    As P. Manimegalai stealthily takes out a snake from a bag and shows it to the group around her, a collective gasp of fear is heard. “This snake is like a baby. It will not harm you,” she states confidently as she pulls out another snake from her backpack.

    The founder of Tamil Nadu Snake Research and Wild Animal Rescue Trust, this 27-year-old woman from Ramanathapuram is one of the few female snake catchers in the State.

    Ms.Manimegalai, along with R. Nagarathinam, M. Selvakumari, Katheejal Begum and S. Amutha, run the all-women members trust that has been attending calls from people who spot snakes and ask them to be caught. The trust also conducts regular programmes for college and school students as well as housewives.

    “It has been ingrained in most of us that all snakes are poisonous and we immediately react with fear and end up killing them. But most of them are harmless and in the long run if people continue to keep killing them, everything from the food chain to the ecosystem will be thrown out of balance,” says Ms.Manimegalai. “We also talk to people about first aid to be administered in the event of a snake bite and teach them how to differentiate between poisonous and non-poisonous snakes”, she explains.

    The members of the trust say that out of the 65 types of snakes that can be found in the district, only four types are poisonous.

    “If not harmed or disturbed, they will just slither away and not cause any harm but people get together in groups and beat them up. We offer to catch snakes when called and either hand them over to the Forest Department or release them safely in a forest area,” explains R. Nagarathinam, a member of the trust.

    The women from the trust also rue the false notions propagated through mass media and popular culture. “Snakes don’t wait for their prey, nor do they remember people across generations and take revenge as depicted in movies,” they say.

    At an awareness programme that the trust conducted on Wednesday for a group of residents in Anaiyur, many women who were first hesitant to touch the snakes that were being shown slowly mustered courage to do so after they were told about the species. M.D. Lakshmikantham, a resident of Anaiyur drew applause from the crowd when she put the snake around her neck.

    “If my message reaches at least 10 other people like her who will be calm when they spot a snake and not kill it, it will do a lot for the conservation of the species,” concludes Ms.Manimegalai who stays in Vilangudi.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Madurai / by S. Poorvaja / Madurai – February 15th, 2014

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    With chapathis to be served in all the Amma Unavagams, more than 1,600 women employees have begunworking in the canteens to roll out chapathis.

    More than two lakh chapathis were prepared by them on Friday. Nearly eight more women will be working in each canteen.

    Later, machines which were purchased for the purpose would be used, according to an official of Chennai Corporation.

    A plate of two chapathis and dal is priced at Rs. 3.

    Tree planting scheme

    Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday launched a scheme for planting 66 lakh banyan saplings. This is to mark Ms. Jayalalithaa’s 66 birthday, which falls on February 24.

    The Chief Minister planted a sapling on the premises of the office of Director General of Police here. In each of the districts, as many as 2.06 lakh saplings would be planted by the Forests Department. Totally, the scheme would cost Rs. 49.18 crore, according to an official release.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai /  by Special Correspondent / Chennai – February 22nd, 2014

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    February 26th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Education

    Just as the first two days of Deepwoods 2014 at Madras Christian College, powered by The Times of India, the third day was also packed with events. The final day of the fest witnessed contenders pouring in since morning — all prepped to put their best foot forward.

    The cultural team had a busy day. While various college teams battled it out on the main stage to win the light music competition, new techniques and concepts were explored and brought to the fore through mime.

    On the other hand, the literary and debating team hosted adzap,wordfuzz, sudoku and voice-over competitions. Meanwhile, a few others were seen bringing out their artistic best through face painting and clay modelling.

    The last treat of the day came in the form of a professional light music show featuring Shakthisree Gopalan, Santhosh, Nikhil Mathew and Malavika.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> Entertainment> Events> Chennai / TNN / February 18th, 2014

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    February 26th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Education

    Rajesh Dalal, trustee of the Krishnamurti Foundation India, passed away in Pune on Monday. He was 61.

    He is survived by his wife, a brother and two sisters.

    A close associate of J. Krishnamurti, Mr. Dalal, who graduated from IIT Kanpur, abandoned a promising career to join the Rajghat Besant School, Varanasi, as a teacher in the mid-1970s. He later worked in the Rishi Valley School.

    After Krishnamurti passed away in 1986, he helped develop ‘Vasanta Vihar’ in Chennai as a study centre. He also held the post of Director of the Rajghat Education Centre for some years, and was actively connected with all the other KFI schools and study centres.

    He had a passion for JK’s teachings and helped many young people and newcomers delve deep into his philosophy.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / Chennai – February 26th, 2014

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    Chennai :

    The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras is hosting a science awareness workshop for higher secondary students on February 24 and 25.

    The workshop, organized by IIT-Madras in association with the Federation of Science Clubs of Tamil Nadu (FSCT) and the Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School, will be based on the theme, ‘Science and Engineering – A Journey.’

    The workshop will introduce recent developments and applications of science and engineering and is expected to help students shape their careers.

    A total of 250 students from government, aided, Anglo Indian, matriculation, CBSE, and international schools, and those run by the Chennai Corporation will be registered on a ‘first-come-first-served’ basis.

    IIT-Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi will speak to the students on the challenges and career prospects in physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, engineering design, biotechnology, electrical, chemical, mechanical and aerospace engineering disciplines. Participants will also get an opportunity to visit the laboratories and state-of-the-art research facilities at IIT-Madras.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / b y M. Ramya, TNN / February 17th, 2014

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    February 26th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment

    Akila Kannadasan visits Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, a residential school for kattaikkuttu in Kanchipuram, ahead of a performance in the city

    “I’ll divorce him,” says the shy S. Thamizharasi. “If my husband doesn’t let me perform koothu, I definitely will.” The slender young woman from the village of Perungattur smiles as she says this. But you know she means it. Thamizharasi is among the first few women to perform kattaikkuttu, a form of street theatre with roots in northern rural Tamil Nadu. She is known to ‘become’ Draupadi once she dons the chalangai and steps in front of the audience for a performance of the Mahabharata. Koothu transforms her; this would not have been possible without Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam.

    Founded by P. Rajagopal, a third-generation performer of the theatre form, the Gurukulam is a residential school for kattaikkuttu. There is silence all around as we walk into the campus in Punjarasantankal village in Kanchipuram District one morning — students are in their classrooms. An expansive hall opens out from the entrance — this is the heart of the school, where students train and perform the koothu.

    Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam is Rajagopal’s dream. He has realised it with the support of his Dutch wife Hanne M. de Bruin. “I met her on January 10, 1987 at Kalavai in Tiruvannamalai,” remembers Rajagopal. Hanne was a researcher in her twenties who was falling in love with India then. “I told her about my dream — to start a school for kattaikkuttu.” They started it in 2002 with 21 students. “Today, there are 23 girls and 27 boys in all,” he says. The school is run by the Kattaikkuttu Sangam formed by Rajagopal in 1990 to bring together various kattaikkuttu companies to share their knowledge and experiences.

    Koothu is seamlessly merged into the Samacheer Kalvi syllabus. Alongside Math, Science and History, mridangam, dance and mukaveenai are taught. There are periods for each of these subjects, whose teachers are sometimes old students. Thamizharasi, for instance, is a pass-out who is now a teacher.

    “The performing arts and education are organically linked,” says Hanne, an Indologist, who holds a PhD in kattaikkuttu. Though their syllabus is not unique, their approach to education is. “Koothu helps in the overall development of children. They do better in class; learn how to perform in front of an audience. This gives them confidence,” she feels. While koothu itself can be empowering, when combined with education, a student has the choice of opting to pursue it or any other career he/she prefers.

    The school is gradually transforming kattaikkuttu and people’s notions about it. Women, for instance, did not perform kattaikkuttu traditionally. Male actors played the female roles; women had nothing to do with the art form. But Rajagopal has changed that. “Why shouldn’t women perform?” he asks. Girl students are taught what women couldn’t dream of learning in the past.

    Changes in costume

    Hanne takes care of fund raising. She has also brought about changes in the costumes. “We are trying to use cotton instead of the polyester costumes artistes wear,” she explains. She is experimenting with handloom fabrics and colours that go well with the mirror-studded accessories actors wear.

    At the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, children participate in every activity. The students of Standard VII are having a free period and Sundara Lakshmi, the director of education, is showing them how to makenei urundais. Another bunch is seated outside the kitchen, chopping vegetables for dinner. A little boy among them suddenly breaks into a virutham (a verse) to the accompaniment of the ‘chop chop’ of the knife — koothu leaves its imprint on everything they do.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Akila Kannadasan / Chennai – February 18th, 2014

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    February 26th, 2014adminLeaders

    Coimbatore :

    Parvathi Krishnan was at ease addressing trade union meetings outside textile mills and tea estates in Coimbatore and Valparai, rubbing shoulders with the partisans during the Spanish Civil War or roaming with the brightest minds in Paris when the Nazis were at the doorsteps during World War II. She was a rebel and a non-conformist of pure grit and sheer determination, who led a dynamic life until she passed away at her residence here in Coimbatore on Thursday morning.

    As a student at Oxford and later as a key organiser of student movements in Paris and London, Parvathi Krishnan had travelled extensively in war-time Europe and counted among her close friends former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Jyoti Basu, a fellow communist who later became chief minister of West Bengal for 24 consecutive years. She returned to India in 1942 and married Krishnan whom she met in Britain. She too went underground when the undivided CPI was banned in 1948 along with her brother, late Mohan Kumaramangalam, who too was then in the communist movement. Mohan later joined the Congress and was a member of the Indira Gandhi cabinet in the 1970s.

    The Krishnans shifted base to Coimbatore in 1953 and began a long political and social association with the region. She engaged actively with the tea estate workers in Valparai. She won three Lok Sabha elections from Coimbatore constituency and one of her memorable moments in Parliament was when she forced the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai to apologize for his remarks against women in Parliament. She even underwent a prison term in the 1970s — the only woman political prisoner in Tihar Jail in 1974 — when she was arrested for participating in the landmark Railway Strike.

    “Parvathi Krishnan and Renu Chakravarthy (CPI MP and wife of iconic journalist Nikhil Chakravarthy) were among the few women leaders in their days who always made it a point to be directly involved in political action. Woman rights should not be discussed in isolation and they were a great source of inspiration to many women following their footsteps,” said Vaigai of the CPI.

    Social historian V Geetha said Parvathi Krishnan represented a remarkable aspect of the CPI in the 1940s and ’50s in Tamil Nadu, when a large number of women worked in the working class movement. These women participated in the numerous workers’ movements and struggles, worked among agricultural workers and beedi workers etc, and went to jail as well. Much of the leadership of the party then was drawn from the middle class. The political activism of Parvathi Krishnan and her contemporaries like Pappa Umanath, Shajathi and Janakiamma or a pioneering activist like Manalur Maniamma, a brahmin widow who worked among farm labour and dalits in Thanjavur, ought to be seen in this context. These women came from diverse backgrounds and through their work in the Communist Party linked women’s issues with issues of land, labour, social emancipation.

    Geetha recalled that Parvathi Krishnan’s parents, P Subbarayan and mother Radhabai, were active in the politics of pre-independent India. Radhabai was active in the national movement and the family engaged with issues of social justice that helped Parvati develop an understanding of the caste question while being active in the communist movement.

    Parvathi Krishnan lived at her residence on West Periasamy Road here in RS Puram with the couple, P S Chandrasekaran and wife, Geetha. Her daughter, Indrani Dasgupta, her husband and daughter Poornima Dasgupta are in the US. There were more than one portrait of her daughter and grand daughter in her bedroom besides a TV and a collection of English DVDs. John Grisham to books of ancient Indian history lined up the shelves in the drawing room. “She used to read a lot but was confined to bed for the last couple of months. She had some respiratory problems for the past few days. She used to love having vanilla ice creams, but we stopped giving it ot her a couple of weeks ago as it was affecting her health. She also loved mashed apple slices mixed with ice cream,” said Chandrasekaran, who has been with Parvati Krishnan since 1997.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Coimbatore / TNN / February 21st, 2014

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    February 26th, 2014adminEducation, Science & Technologies
    Village Health Nurses with the free laptops they received to compile data on women and childcare in Villupuram district / The Hindu

    Village Health Nurses with the free laptops they received to compile data on women and childcare in Villupuram district / The Hindu

    At a function held recently at Kallakurichi near here Rural Industries Minister P. Mohan handed over the free laptops to the Village Health Nurses (VHNs).

    Now, it is the turn of the Village Health Nurses (VHNs) attached to the sub-Primary Health Centres in Villupuram district to get on the technological bandwagon with free laptops. Besides taking care of pregnant women and child births they would have to hereafter collect and feed data on these aspects to their higher-ups in the headquarters. To facilitate this they have been provided with laptops.

    At a function held recently at Kallakurichi near here Rural Industries Minister P. Mohan handed over the free laptops to the VHNs. Speaking on the occasion the Minister said that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, driven by the motive to make available the best healthcare, had launched many schemes and the distribution of free laptops to the VHNs was one such scheme. The VHNs were serving as the vital link to the rural people, particularly women and children, in the health care delivery system. It was enjoined upon them to impress upon the rural people about the safety of institutional delivery. Mr. Mohan said that for framing the health policy it was essential to gather the statistics on number of pregnancies occurring within a given period in a particular village, how many child births take place in the PHCs, the infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality rate and so on.

    The laptops would help the Health Department to take immediate corrective measures, wherever necessary.

    The Minister further said that in Villupuram district so far 36,875 women were benefited to the tune of Rs. 40.75 crore.Mr. Mohan called upon the VHNs to intensify the health awareness drive among the people within their jurisdiction. Collector V. Sampath and others were present.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Villupuram – February 18th, 2014

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    Chennai :

    A free multi-speciality medical camp will be conducted at Srirangam on Saturday and Sunday to mark the birth anniversary of Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa.

    The camp will be held at Srimad Andavan Arts and Science College, Nelson Road, Srirangam. Over 100 doctors and paramedical staff will take part in the camp.

    Doctors from general medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, dermatology, cardiology, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, neurology and nephrology will provide free consultations. Blood tests, special investigations like ECG, Echo Cardiograph, ultrasound and X rays, wherever necessary, will be done free for cost. Medicines for one week will also be provided freely.

    Patients will have to bring their medical records. The camp will begin at 8.30am.

    The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Scheme consultation services will be available in the camp.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Trichy / by Ekatha Ann John, TNN / February 20th, 2014

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    Madurai :

    The nascent Saurashtra film industry in Madurai is all set to get another fillip. Buoyed by the response to Saurashtra movies made in Madurai, film buffs of the community have decided to launch the All India Saurashtra Film Chamber.

    The inaugural event has been scheduled for February 23 in Madurai. “Lot of Saurashtra youth are interested in film making. Some of them have made films and many more are preparing to make films. We want to help them, impart knowledge about various aspects of film making, prune their skills and channelize their talents,” said S Rama Eswarlal, founder chairman of All India Saurashtra Film Chamber (AISFC).

    Madurai is home to an estimated three lakh Saurashtrians who migrated from Gujarat about three centuries ago. While making Madurai their home, they pursued formal education in Tamil and English but strived to maintain their linguistic roots. That is one reason why movies were made in Saurashtra in Madurai when such attempts are found even in Gujarat.

    Aided by advancement in technology they have so far made about 10 films on a shoe-string budget with the content ranging from romance to religion. These films used to be screened at community gatherings but for the first time a movie was screened in a theatre last year.

    “We want to take our films to the next level. Saurashtrian films should also be enjoyed by Tamil people. We want our movies to get due recognition from all section of the people,” said Suraj Prakash, director of upcoming film titled ‘Ekos Eno.’

    Eswarlal said that the chamber would have a membership of about 500 people.

    Though the chamber is registered in Chennai, its functions would be centred in Madurai. The chamber would bring in veterans and regularly conduct seminars, workshops, discussions and film festivals in the city. World cinema and Indian classics would be screened in the film festivals. “Our priority is to enable youth to make commercial movies. Experts from Chennai and other cities would be brought to Madurai to enlighten Saurashtrian youth interested in film-making,” Easwarlal said.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / TNN / February 21st, 2014

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