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    For political parties in southern India, election manifestos and selection of candidates can wait. Not their leaders’ customised campaign vehicles sourced from a garage in Coimbatore, 430km southwest of Chennai.


    Koyas and Sons began rolling out luxurious raths (chariots) for politicians much before BJP stalwart L K Advani made them fashionable with his Rath Yatra in 1990.

    AIADMK head and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa swears by their luxury on wheels, so do rival DMK chief M Karunanidhi and former Andhra Pradesh  chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy.

    Amma, as Jayalalithaa is called, had a sophisticated ‘Koya rath’ — her second this poll season — delivered on Monday.

    Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) and his younger son MK Stalin have already been driving around in the ones the garage designed for them.

    DMK leader TR Baalu, PMK chief Ramadoss and Vijayakanth of DMDK have not ordered theirs; the ones they had for the 2011 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu are as good as new.

    According to the garage’s managing partner PV Mohammed Riaz, a campaign vehicle — essentially a tempo traveller — is virtually a luxury apartment on wheels.

    From toilet, sofa cum beds, recliners, refrigerator and microwave to TV, sensors and wifi internet facility, it has everything one can ask for.

    Depending on requirement, refurbishing the interiors of a campaign vehicle costs `3-5lakh. Each takes at least a month to complete, and political parties order well in advance to get theirs on time.

    “But these campaign vehicles are season business. Our main activity throughout the year is refurbishing caravans for film stars and other VIPs,” Riaz said, adding the most important aspect they keep in mind is a client’s riding comfort.  The comfort factor had made former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi refurbish his Ambassador at Koyas and Sons. Gandhi was impressed by what the garage had done to former Kerala chief minister M Karunakaran’s car.

    Ditto with film stars Rajinikanth and Amitabh Bachchan, who had their caravans redone by Koyas. Home> Campaign Watch / by K V Lakshmana, HT / Chennai – March 19th, 2014

    source: / Hindustan Times / Home> Campaign Watch /  by K V Lakshmana, Hindustan Times / Chennai – March 19th, 2014

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    Joshna Rebecca Naveen in one of her creations./ Photo: Justapose Photos /  Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    Joshna Rebecca Naveen in one of her creations./ Photo: Justapose Photos / Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    From software engineer to fashion designer – Joshna Rebecca Naveen’s transformation was seamless. Susanna Myrtle Lazarus talks to the newest designer on the virtual block about the shift.

    Joshna Rebecca Naveen’s Online Boutique is a line of designer and customised saris. She talks to NXg about her journey and inspiration.

    From computer codes to crepe and chiffon — what prompted the shift?

    After working for several years in the IT industry, I took a break to sail with my marine engineer husband. A few months ago, I wanted to do something creative. I love fashion, especially saris; since I’ve always had an eye for colour and design, I took the leap and started dabbling in designing saris. The first sari I made was for me, and since then there has been no looking back.

    Why Facebook?

    Using Facebook as the medium for marketing was purely for convenience. It gives me the freedom to post and interact with customers on the go. I also get feedback that I use in creating my next collection. So far the customer response has been great, especially after my first exhibition a few weeks ago.

    What’s your marketing/advertising strategy?

    I get a lot of work on recommendation from clients, who are happy with what I’ve created for them. Of course Facebook advertisements help. I model my saris and have my clients send in photos of them wearing Rebecca’s creations so that they have an idea of how the sari will look on an average-sized woman.

    There are several such online boutiques on Facebook. What makes Rebecca’s special?

    Each sari I have made has a story behind it. A lot of care and effort go into every consultation but it’s worth it when they’re delighted with their sari. It is a reflection of themselves and their taste. I also keep the pricing affordable so anyone can stand out in the crowd without spending a bomb! I’m very proud of the mother-daughter series of matching sari and pavada chattai. I feel it is something unique I have to offer.

    What has been your success rate?

    I’ve just about broken even. The success rate is about 75 per cent with sales and 100 per cent with customer satisfaction. I started out wanting to make trendy designer pieces for young women. However, I soon realised that older women too want such saris, but find that the ones in the market aren’t what they feel is “suitable” for their age.

    They make up a large part of my clientele now as I can design what they have in mind.

    Rebecca's creation. / Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    Rebecca’s creation. / Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    What inspires you?

    Everything! Tablecloths, curtains, bouquets of flowers… Being a compulsive embroiderer, I love working out colour combinations and patterns. While I like working with ethnic designs, I continue to have an eye out for contemporary and quirky trends. I try to incorporate a little bit of both in the pieces I design. When it comes to colours, I have a weakness for pastel shades.

    How do you survive in the tough world of being an entrepreneur?

    I’ve a very simple philosophy: don’t think about the competition and don’t let it get you down.

    I love designing. It is my passion and I do it for myself and not for competing. In fact, I am quite tickled when clients send me photos from other online designers and ask me if I can make a similar sari.

    What is your long-term dream?

    I hope to run my own little boutique bridal studio in a couple of years with a full-fledged tailoring unit. Apart from that, I’d love to have the opportunity to dress Deepika Padukone in one of my creations!

    Check out her work at

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> XNG / by Susanna Myrtle Lazarus / Chennai – March 30th, 2013

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    One of the earliest hero-stones, of the Pandya country found in March 2014 in Tuticorin district. / Photo: G. Paul Durai / The Hindu

    One of the earliest hero-stones, of the Pandya country found in March 2014 in Tuticorin district. / Photo: G. Paul Durai / The Hindu

    One of the earliest hero-stones of Pandya country, with Tamil vatteluttu script datable to eighth century CE, has been found in a village called Vellalankottai in Tuticorin district, Tamil Nadu. It was erected in the memory of father and son who killed a tiger. The hero-stone has the carvings of the father and son, standing on either side of the tiger armed with weapons. There is a three-line inscription in Tamil vatteluttu above the figures. G. Paul Durai, research scholar, Department of History, Pondicherry University, found the hero-stone at Vellalankottai on the Kayattar-Kazhugumalai Road, about eight km from Kayattar.

    The 2.5-feet tall hero-stone is locally called kaduvakkal meaning a “tiger stone.” The script reads “Peruraaliyar Sentan-Kannan Kannan-Kovanun thozha-i-puli kalaaitu-p-pattar (the two heroes, Senthan Kannan and his son Kannan Kovan, residents of Peruraali village, killed the tiger). Epigraphists S. Rajagopal, C. Santhalingam and R. Pungundran helped in deciphering the inscription.

    “This is one of the earliest hero-stones of the Pandya Naadu, with vatteluttu script. The Peruraali village mentioned in the inscription is probably the Perali located near Virudhunagar. Such stones erected to celebrate heroes who killed tigers have been found at Mottakkal in the Chengam region” in northern Tamil Nadu, said K. Rajan, Professor of History, Pondicherry University.

    Dr. Rajan, who explained the origin of hero-stones, said erecting memorial stones was a custom in south India since the Iron Age (circa 1000 BCE to circa 600 BCE). Tamil Nadu witnessed a proliferation of such monuments during the Iron Age. These monuments included menhirs. (Menhirsare tall, majestic monolithic stone slabs planted in memory of the dead).

    Hero-stones with Tamil-Brahmi script of the fourth century BCE, said Dr. Rajan, have been found at Pulimaankombai and Thathapatti villages, near Batlagundu town. “However, memorial stones are more visible in the Dharmapuri and Chengam regions from fifth century CE,” he added.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National> TamilNadu / by T. S. Subramanian / Chennai – March 30th, 2014

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    March 30th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment
    The 11-day music and dance festival, which kicked off with a concert by Bombay Jayashri (left), was inaugurated by N. Murali (right). P.S Sachu is seen in picture / Photo: R. Ragu / The Hindu

    The 11-day music and dance festival, which kicked off with a concert by Bombay Jayashri (left), was inaugurated by N. Murali (right). P.S Sachu is seen in picture / Photo: R. Ragu / The Hindu

    As an eager audience gathered at the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore on Tueday evening, a concert by Bombay Jayashri marked the start of the 11-day Panguni Peruvizha and Vedaiyaatri Music and Dance Festival.

    The festival was inaugurated by N. Murali, co-chairman, Kasturi & Sons Limited, and P.S. Sachu, member secretary, Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Mandram.

    Calling the atmosphere “uplifting”, Mr. Murali lauded the festival for bringing back performances into the temples.

    Ms. Sachu recalled how Mylapore and the temple, which she said was a hub of literature, dance and drama, was an integral part of her life as she had often visited the temple and the tank during her childhood. The music and dance festival is slated to conclude on March 28 with a performance by Sudha Raghunathan.

    Accompanying Bombay Jayashri on Tuesday were Embar Kannan on the violin, J. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam, and Raja Ganesh on the kanjira.

    The festival will host performances by eminent artistes and dance troupes including T.M. Krishna, N. Vijay Siva, P. Unnikrishnan, Ranjani and Gayatri, Priya Sisters, Jayashree Vaidyanathan, Abhinaya Natyalaya, Sri Devi Nrithyalaya, and Sanjay Subrahmanyan. The programme, sponsored by Preetha Reddy and Vijaykumar Reddy, is open to all.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Staff Reporter / Chennai – March 19th, 2014

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    Temple Trips, South India, a travel guide by Janaki Venkataraman (seen in picture) and Supriya Sehgal, was launched on Friday. / Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    Temple Trips, South India, a travel guide by Janaki Venkataraman (seen in picture) and Supriya Sehgal, was launched on Friday. / Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    Kapaleeshwarar temple is world-renowned, and yet few are aware of an inscription beside the main door which has references to Chinese and Greek travellers having visited the temple.

    The idol of the presiding deity at Parthasarathy Temple, Triplicane, has a moustache, but does not bear any weapons, a distinguishing feature from other Vaishnavite temples.

    Such details, often not spotted by the casual visitor, are among the many interesting facts brought out in Temple Trips, South India, a travel guide launched by Lonely Planet on Friday. It is the culmination of several months of temple visits and meticulous research by authors Janaki Venkataraman and Supriya Sehgal.

    Launching the book, N. Ravi, editor-in-chief, The Hindu, said south Indian temples were a treasure house of “Indian religious, artistic and cultural heritage.” Stating the book was rich in content and offered information to those not familiar with the religion and its traditions, Mr. Ravi added that with the launch of the book, a new sphere of temple tourism of south India was opened up by Lonely Planet.

    Sesh Seshadri, director and general manager, Lonely Planet India, said the book offered specific information on hotels, transport, accommodation and the region’s cuisine. It also has special features by Carnatic musician T.M. Krishna, Bharatanatyam exponent Alarmel Valli, temple historian Pradeep Chakravarthy, architectural expert Chitra Madhavan and journalist Nalini Rajan.

    Prior to the book launch, there was a rendition of songs associated with temples of the four southern States by Vijayalakshmi Subramaniam.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – March 29th, 2014

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    Social entrepreneurship has gained cultural acceptance as a career path, established social entrepreneurs told a gathering of students at an ‘unconvention’ organised at IIT-Madras on Saturday.

    Speakers at the event organised by Villgro, a city-based rural enterprise incubation centre, noted there was a never-like-before culture of embracing entrepreneurship and a growing number of investors willing to invest in such ventures.

    Villgro’s CEO and founder Paul Basil laid out a simple mantra for students to follow: “India is the world’s lab; solve it here, then globalise it.”

    Social entrepreneurs at the unconvention — a networking meeting that does not rigidly follow the rules of traditional conventions —included P. Srinivasan, co-founder and chairman of Jeevan Stem Cell and Blood Bank, K. Thiruvengada Krishnan, chief consultant of cornea and refractive services, Aravind Eye Care System, and Ravi Sarogi, co-founder of Uniphore Software Systems.

    Dr. Thiruvengada Krishnan, in his presentation about Aravind Eye Hospital, outlined the founder Govindapa Venkatasamy’s vision of taking affordable eye care to the masses.

    He pointed out that although the hospital ran several charitable projects such as provision of free spectacles and conducting of free surgeries in rural areas, they still made considerable profits because of their non-subsidised healthcare. He added that social enterprise could adopt a hybrid model that combined ‘not-for-profit’ and ‘for-profit’ operations.

    Villgro welcomes social entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas for programmes. For more details, interested persons can visit

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai> Events / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – March 16th, 2014

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    Madurai :

    Augmented reality games may be in their nascent stage in tier-I cities like Chennai. But, that hasn’t deterred the passion of this Madurai-based game developer, who has come up with trial version of an augmented reality game titled ‘Zombies Table.’ The demo game, which was released 20 days back in Apple Store and Google Play, has already started gaining attention among online users.

    In fact, the game, which is the brain child of T S Gokul Prasath, 29, from Anna Nagar in Madurai, has already become one of the top rated augmented reality games with more than 5,000 downloads in Apple Store and Google Play.

    Unlike other games, augmented reality games engage the player with the objects in real life. It has been an emerging area where lots of research and developments have been taking place. While the demo game has got instant acceptance, the Madurai youth vows to bring out the full version of ‘Table Zombie’ in the next 30 days.

    Gokul completed his engineering in a city college and later pursued his MBA in International Business from a reputed college in Coimbatore. Though he was interested in application and game development from his under graduation days, he could not pursue it then. After his MBA, he got placed well-reputed companies. But his urge to become a game developer never subsided. He quit his job and started developing applications before he stared his own developing unit named SRG United Solutions in the city.

    Briefing about the game, Gokul says, “The game can be downloaded at free of cost and played in smart phone or tablet. We have also linked the game with a PDF document. Once the print out is scanned through the camera after launching the application, the characters would come alive and people can play it. The demo version of the Table Zombie has been rated among the top three games in augmented reality field. There has been articles and positive feedback by users too.”

    When contacted R Sivarajah, the former president of Software Industries Development Association of South Tamil Nadu (SIDA) and founder of Nativelead, an organisation to develop entrepreneurship skills of students, he said there are not many companies developing augmented reality games even in tier one cities. “It is in a nascent stage in South India,” he said.

    According to this young game developer, augmented reality game is the future of all games. “In fact, that time is not too far when movie wall posters would start playing the entire trailer. Google glass could be connected to this application. This would enable us to watch the trailers through posters, which would be designed using augmented reality technique,” Gokul added.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / by V. Devanathan, TNN / March 19th, 2014

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    March 29th, 2014adminEducation
    Chairman and Managing Director, Skoda Auto India, Sudhir Rao, adorning students with an epaulette at the Lawrence School in Lovedale on Saturday / The Hindu

    Chairman and Managing Director, Skoda Auto India, Sudhir Rao, adorning students with an epaulette at the Lawrence School in Lovedale on Saturday / The Hindu

    Way back in 1976 he stepped out of the Lawrence School at Lovedale near here with a firm foundation and a desire to carve out a name for himself on the global stage.

    Thirty-eight years later when he returned on Saturday as a force to reckon with in the global auto industry Sudhir Rao, Chairman and Managing Director, Skoda Auto India, was given a red carpet welcome by his alma mater.

    The occasion was the investiture ceremony of the school for 2014-15 and Mr. Rao had been invited to participate as the chief guest.

    The objective was to raise a toast for a student who had made his school proud and also showcase his success to inspire the present and future generations.

    Addressing the gathering on leadership and what it takes to become a leader, Mr. Rao said that if one can’t pursue a goal with passion he or she can’t make much headway. He opined that compromises are major hurdles. He recalled the role of his teachers in making him what he was now.

    Headmistress Sangita Chima pointed out that when a student achieves success in life he automatically becomes someone worthy of emulation to the generations that follow.

    Mr. Rao adorned the prefects who took charge with epaulettes.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / D. Radkhkrishnan / Udhagamandalam – March 24th, 2014

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    Madurai :

    Keeping in touch with old classmates and friends is not a big deal in this era of social networking sites. But it is something rare when about 50 people, who studied together in class 1 at the OCPM School here in 1964, could maintain regular contacts over the past 50 years and could gather here on Sunday at their old school premises after a long while.

    Madurai-based businessmen A Asokan and Ashraf Tayubare, who are behind the get-together, said, “It all started last December after one of our classmates, Aswathaman who is in Chennai, found his class I photograph. He urged us to locate our other classmates and hold a get-together.”

    Today, almost all the classmates have gone ahead in their respective careers. Shobana Ramachandran, a popular industrialist and educationist in Madurai, was active in planning the event.

    “Our OCPM School and Lady Doak College were on the same campus. As it was the most reputed English school then, our parents wanted us to be there. The 50 students were part of the 1964 batch of class 1. We went on to finish our class 5 studies there,” Asokan said.

    Their classmate Dr Sunandha, who is now in America, helped them to find some of the girls in their class. “Even back then we were a co-educated class,” they said.

    On Sunday, there was jubilation as they met. The old mates included Ganesh, Nandakumar, engineers Mukundan and Suresh, government officials Ashwathaman and Kanagaraj, Mathivanan the panchayat president of Chattrapatti, Kalaiyarasi a teacher. Jess and Bhanu came down all the way from Mumbai.

    The old batch walked through the school corridors, sat in their old classroom and recalled the characters in their favourite lessons and the dramas they staged during school functions.

    Then the old students felicitated five of their teachers — Mrs Lawrence, Mrs Vasntha Nallathambi, Mrs Chandra, Mrs Chellappa and Mrs Jamila — who they had located after much search.

    “We are delighted on seeing those wooden benches. They are still intact. We sat on them and recalled our days in class, while the ‘girls’ sat chatting just like in the olden days,” said Asokan. Though most of them were grandparents, they addressed each other as ‘girls’ and ‘boys’.

    With old memories welling up, Asokan and Ashraf said it is not difficult to keep in touch for half a century. “Fifty years back we were taught that nothing is impossible and the sky is the limit. We have achieved the ‘impossible’ by contacting our classmates,” they concurred.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / by Padmini Sivarajah, TNN / March 17th, 2014

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    A.V. Vaigai Ratna, a Class VI student of TVS Matriculation Higher Secondary School here, chose a different way to spend her Sunday.

    Instead of just playing with her friends as she usually does every week, Ratna chose to participate in the 22nd Tree Walk, organised by Madurai Green, an environmental organisation, and Dhan Foundation, to Kutladampatti waterfalls near Vadipatti.

    As she heard D. Stephen, Assistant Professor of Botany, The American College, speak about more than 40 species of trees, Ratna returned home determined to safeguard trees in and around her home. “Whatever Mr.Stephen said about trees, especially cluster fig and jamun trees, was very interesting. I also liked the trek up to the waterfalls,” she said.

    More than 50 nature enthusiasts, including 10 children, took part in the trekking. Mr.Stephen identified usilai, neem, kal aal, itchi, cluster fig, Indian elm, neikottan, ponga, jamun and kattu elimchai trees among others and explained their significance and benefits.

    “Punga trees are ecologically prominent as they support insects. There is a symbiotic association between the tree and the insects,” he pointed out. “The cluster fig trees provide food for monkeys and birds. They support the wildlife,” he added.

    R. Alagumani, an advocate of the Madras High Court bench here, said, “It was astonishing to hear that certain trees support at least 40 species of birds and animals. There is only a little forest cover in Madurai and it needs to be conserved properly.”

    “Getting to know the medicinal values of different trees was great. The walk made us understand that each tree has great value and is useful. I will pass on whatever (details) I heard here to others,” said Mercy Daniel Rajasekaran, who took part in the walk for the first time.

    Ranjitham, Principal of St. Teresa Teacher’s Training Institute, is a regular at the walks organised by Madurai Green as she thinks it helps her remain physically fit. “I have taken part in 20 tree walks. I get to know about the medicinal value and other values of the trees,” she said.

    N. Chidambaram, founder of Madurai Green, M.P. Vasimalai, Executive Director of Dhan Foundation, and R. Duraipandi, Forest Range Officer, Sholavandan, were also present.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Madurai / by M. Vandhana / Madurai – March 17th, 2014

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