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    May 31st, 2014adminEducation, Records, All
    Sindhuja is the first Tamil medium student to top her school with 1,160 marks./  Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    Sindhuja is the first Tamil medium student to top her school with 1,160 marks./ Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    Girl from Dooming Kuppam is school topper at St. Raphael’s. Liffy Thomas on the super achiever

    Six years ago, it was a difficult decision for N. Sinduja to take. She wanted to switch over to English medium like her other classmates, but stopped herself from doing so did not make the move.

    “I did not want to burden my father with more fees to pay. Also, I was not confident if I would shine equally well in English medium,” explains Sinduja.

    Today, whatever lingering regrets she had about not making the switch have disappeared.

    The student of St. Raphael’s Girls Higher Secondary School, Santhome, is the first Tamil medium student to top her school with 1,160 marks.

    In the Dooming Kuppam fishing hamlet at Santhome, where she lives, she is possibly the first student to rack up such a high total.

    Her stock has gone up among her family, friends and neighbours.

    “I got centum in business maths and commerce, 199 in accounts but lost most of my marks in English,” she says, talking to us from her single-room Housing Board quarters where she lives with her father, mother and grandmother.

    Her father A. Nethyanandam is a coolie and her mother N. Mageshwari, a homemaker.

    “There were many financial hurdles in educating our two daughters, but her father was always particular that he met their demands even if it meant sacrificing our comforts,” says Mageshwari, adding that Sinduja would walk from her home to school. She never had to be told to study.

    According to Sr. Ranjitham, headmistress of the school, 285 students appeared for the Board examination and a majority of these students are from the fishing hamlets.

    A class topper through her school days, Sinduja even taught her classmates.

    “That helped me a lot,” says Sinduja, who wants to pursue CA and become an auditor. In class X, she scored 427 marks. Sinduja never took tuitions and was guided by her sister Sasi Rekha, who completed her BSc in maths and accounts.

    On the one hand, Sinduja is happy about her marks, but unsure of how she will pursue CA. “I will have to go for coaching and I heard that the fee is a huge,” she concluded.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> DownTown> Mylapore / by Liffy Thomas / Chennai – May 19th, 2014

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    May 30th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment

    Chennai :

    The 62nd annual awards function of the Film Fans’ Association turned out a mediocre affair as the glitz, glamour and hype that filmdom is known for were missing.

    A few shining stars in this galaxy turned up to receive their awards at the Kamaraj Arangam recently.

    Among those who made it to the occasion were Premgi Amaren, who received the award for his lesser known role of a music director for the film Ennamo Nadakkudhu, accompanied by Vijay Vasanth, hero of the film, who received an award for his rising status as an upcoming actor.

    Leggy lass Dhansika of Paradesi fame received an award for her role in the film.

    ‘Power Star’ Srinivasan was seen with his trademark smile, obliging the starstruck fans who sought him out for autographs and photographs. He was recognised for his role in Kanna Laddu Thinga Aasaiya with an award.

    A trickle of lesser known but rising stars from the film and television scene came in to pick up their trophies.

    Music director Shankar Ganesh gave away the awards in the presence of R Vijayabose, executive committee member, Film Fans’ Association, G Purushotham, honorary general secretary, and other members of the Association.

    Light music and dance performances by youngsters kept the audience entertained throughout the evening.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service / May 26th, 2014

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    Farmers taking an oath to increase land area under pulse production. - Photo: Special Arrangement / the Hindu

    Farmers taking an oath to increase land area under pulse production. – Photo: Special Arrangement / the Hindu

    The project has been started in Edaiyapatti panchayat in Pudukottai

    Pudukottai district is one of the driest regions in Tamil Nadu. The major crops under tank fed and open well irrigation system in this region in Tamil Nadu are paddy, millets, black gram and groundnut. Pulses like green, black and red gram are generally grown as a rainfed crops especially during summer.

    But the harvested pulses do not fetch a good net income because of low yields due to pest and disease attack and poor processing facilities for value addition.

    New project

    The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), working in Illuppur taluk, Annavasal Block, Pudukottai district, for the past seven years to improve the livelihoods of small farmers, designed a project for increasing the production of pulses in the region.

    Accordingly the foundation successfully facilitated farmers from five panchayats in the taluk to form a farmers’ federation called South Vellar Agri Producer Organisation (SVAPO) in which 600 women and men farmers are paid shareholders.

    Nearly 50 per cent of members are pulse growers whose seeds are much sought after by the state seeds department in a buy-back agreement.

    “The concept of the Pulse Panchayat movement evolved spontaneously from the farming community in Edaiyapatti Panchayat. The community passed a resolution to put the maximum available land (474 acres) into pulse production in collaboration with National Pulse Research Station, Vamban, Government Agriculture department, and the foundation,” says Dr. R.S.Shanthakumar Hopper, Director, Ecotechnology, MSSRF.


    The farmers’ field school trained them to cultivate pulses with new climate-smart agriculture technologies like accessing quality seeds, pest and disease resistant varieties, soil health cards, seed treatment, foliar spray of DAP (Di Ammonium Phosphate) / pulse wonder (a booster with nutrients and growth regulators developed by the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University specifically for pulse crops), line planting, intercrops, integrated pest and disease management options and post harvest processing for drying etc.

    The village knowledge centre provided timely and area specific information on climate smart agriculture technologies, market prices, animal health care, monsoon behaviour and government schemes through phone in programmes, voice and text messages to enhance pulse productivity and profitability.

    Monsoon failure

    “We faced severe monsoon failure in the year 2012 and 2013 but have managed to cultivate pulses in 406 acres. We are planning for a “pulse panchayat movement” of 1,000 acres in June-August and in September -December 2014 seasons in five panchayats especially on pulse seed production and consumption to combat protein hunger and adapting to drought confidently,” says Mr. Palaniyappan, president of SVAPO.

    A significant achievement in this project is that as a result of a series of farmer participations in this movement was the move from traditional black gram (T9) variety towards Vamban 4 (VBN 4) variety which is resistant to virus and pest attack. In fact several farmers have preferred Vamban variety as it yields more and increases income for them.

    “The experience in Maharashtra in organizing pani (water) panchayats has shown the value of group endeavour in water harvesting, storage, saving and sharing. India continues to import three to four million tones of pulses every year and thus the initiative of the Edaiyapatti panchayat in initiating a pulse panchayat movement is timely and important development in the history of pulses production in our country,” says Prof M.S.Swaminathan.


    The foundation was conferred the Bhoomijal Samvardhan Puraskar — National ground Water Augmentation award 2010 for promoting innovative practices of groundwater augmentation which complements the Pulse Panchayat Movement says Dr. R.S.Shanthakumar.

    To know more farmers can contact Dr. Shanthakumar Hopper, mobile: 09445394394 and Mr.K. Thachinamurthy, Project Coordinator, M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation, Samathanapuram, Illuppur – PO, Pudukkottai District, Tamil Nadu, email :, Mobile 9626737207.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> S & T> Agriculture> Farmer’s Notebook / by M. P. Prabu / May 21st, 2014

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    May 29th, 2014adminSports


    Chennai  :

    Twelve-year-old Varun, one of the members of the Royal Madras Yacht Club (RMYC) is getting ready for his sailing classes in the Optimist while his coach Chinna Reddy is giving him instructions about adjustments and speed control. “I am going to Hyderabad this year for the nationals. This is my first time,” he says happily.

    A J80 is almost prepared to glide into the deep waters and in it are a few young sailors waiting for Chinna to get in. “We are the present champions of the club and also permanent members here,” one of the sailors introduces the group. As the boat leaves the dock, the champions start discussing flash mobs, demos and many more events they are planning to host in the coming days. “We are trying to create awareness about this amazing watersport. There is a huge potential for it in Chennai. The metropolis has such a huge coastline that you do not have to come to the port to sail. You can literally sail out of anywhere here. But the sad part is that nobody knows much about sailing as a sport or maybe they are unaware of the right place to look for,” complains Zephra Currimbhoy, who represented India as the only female practicing sailing squad in the 2010 Asian Games held at China.

    “We have students from the ages of seven to 70 years,” Reddy says proudly. “Some children are afraid of the water initially but after awhile they literally start living in the sea!” However, inspite of their best efforts to promote sailing in more than 50 schools across the city, the instructor says with a sad smile, “The response has been limited.” But things quickly look up again when Rufus, a sailing student, speaks up. “I love the water and have come across a number of fascinating marine creatures. The kind of atmosphere out there is unexplainable.” As long as there are those who find a second home in the waves, sailing will have a fair amount of wind beneath its wings.

    (For details, log onto:

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Seetha Dinesh  / May 28th, 2014

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    May 29th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment


    Chennai :

    Men in veshtis welcome us at the Mylai Maami Samayal food festival at Deccan Plaza. Huge banners of  traditional kolams, bharatanatyam poses and auspicious mud pots hug the walls. On one corner we see bharanis of pickles arranged much like the kolu set up, and on the other corner a dosa and neiappam counter.

    Prema maami, the chef behind the 45 varieties of dishes that the festival menu boasts of, pours dosa maavu on the pan to make a perfect circle. In no time, it looks like a mild gold sheet of cotton. Soft podi dosas pile up on the plate. After it makes its way around the restaurant, the plate is empty. She repeats the process again. “This was my idea, to make hot dosas for customers,” says maami, adjusting her red madisar sari.

    Everything, from the traditional Kumbakonam special vendakka mor kuzhambu to ragi payasam in the menu, has been prepared by her. She enters the kitchen early each morning, and gets the dishes ready by service time, 7 pm. A handful of chefs assist her with moving heavy vessels, but otherwise she does all the cooking by herself. Don’t you get tired putting all this together yourself? we ask. She just smiles, and finding out she started cooking when she was just a child, poured over the authentic Kumbakonam recipes, followed by working as a chef in Dubai, New Jersey and Muscat, and later started a catering service of her own,  we understand why.

    While our plates gradually fill up with podi rice, keerai kootu and vazhapoo usili, she prompts us to try everything else. “Rasavangi is a special Kumbakonam dish, so is akkaravadisal among the sweet dishes,” she says. We learn that mor kali, a  blend of buttermilk and rice flour, should be accompanied with vetha kozhambu, and panagam, a brown drink tasting of ginger and jaggery, that is the best for digestion. “No panneer, cauliflower, mushrooms or lettuce, if you are searching for it. It is not part of the authentic menu,” maami explains. But one glance at the buffet, and there’s no room for disappointment. Maami’s hospitality as she points a finger at the other options (how about Paruppu podi or vepillakatti?) makes us feel  at home, quite like the flavours in her cooking.

    “And all this has been cooked without any onion or garlic,” she saves this important fact for the end. Maami adds, “Most people in the North think that South Indian food lacks flavour without these ingredients. What do you think?” A satisfied burp will have to suffice in response.

    The festival is on at Deccan Plaza, Royapettah till June 1. Contact 98849 32022  or   044  6677 3333.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Naveena Vijayan / May 29th, 2014

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    The Special Prison for Women in Vellore | Express

    The Special Prison for Women in Vellore | Express

    Vellore :

    Inmates of the Special Prison for Women in Vellore, apart from serving their jail term, are also receiving hands-on training in manufacturing sanitary napkins, which would be  disbursed to girl students of the government schools under the State government’s Free Sanitary Napkin Project to promote the health of adolescent girls.

    The napkin manufacturing unit was established on March 28, with financial aid from the Confederation of Indian Industry and TITAN Limited that supply raw materials to the prison unit. Additional Director General of Police (Prisons), J K Tripathy said that the napkin manufacturing units were also functioning in the Central prisons in Puzhal in Chennai and Tiruchy.

    Through this initiative the government aims to promote the health of adolescent girls and ensure reproductive health of women by providing napkins to the government schools, government hospitals and Primary Health Centres in the State.

    Inmates serving life term have been engaged in production of napkins. A total of 58 life convicts are engaged in this project. “All the life convicts are trained in manufacturing napkins. A total of 15 life convicts have been engaged in manufacturing napkins for six hours from 8 am to 11.30 am and 1.30 pm to 4 pm on a daily basis,” Superintendent of the Prison, R Rajalakshmi told Express.

    This one-month-old napkin manufacturing unit  produces 1,500 sanitary napkins per day, said the official. “We will improve the productivity in the coming days. We also ensure high quality and hygiene as the products are disbursed only after sterilszation,” said the superintendent.

    Until four years ago the inmates in the Central prison had been manufacturing handmade napkin but its production came to a halt recently after the contractors failed to supply raw materials, particularly cotton, for manufacturing napkins from Mumbai. “Four years back we had been supplying the handmade napkins to two Central prisons for women and 11 sub-jails for women in the State. Now, again we have started production of the napkins,” said another official.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by J. Shanmugha Sundaram / May 26th, 2014

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    The wildlife interpretation centre established recently at Attakatti by the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) has proved to be a major hit with tourists and the public.

    For, contributions from amateur photographers and the public comprise a majority of the 100-odd photo exhibits on display at the centre, which is intended to highlight the role played by various animals, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and other creatures in maintaining the ecosystem.

    “More people are now coming forward to give photographs for the centre and we give credit to all contributors. All the exhibits are accompanied by written explanations, in English and Tamil,” says Rajiv K. Srivastava, Field Director and Chief Conservator of Forests, ATR.

    The centre gets around 150 visitors a day, the number nearly doubles during weekends and holidays. Tourists can easily access this centre as it is located right on the main road to Valparai, in the vicinity of a check post.

    The ATR is planning to show documentaries, focussing not only on the tiger reserve but also on wildlife in general. It will be an educational experience for the public, he adds.


    Further, he says the ATR has also helped open an eco-shop and eco-snacks centre, run by women from the tribal communities, on the same premises.

    Operated by the Eco-Development Committee of Poonathi tribal settlement, two women are employed in each of these shops. The eco-shop features eucalyptus oil, tea powder and souvenirs made by the tribal community.

    “We are enhancing the lives of those residing in the tribal settlement through such initiatives that provide a livelihood. As this place attracted tourists round the year, the shops have a steady inflow of customers,” says Mr. Srivastava.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by R. Sairam /  Coimbatore – May 27th, 2014

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    Donors and rulers built several choultries for travellers and livestock in Pudukottai district. — FILE PHOTO / The Hindu

    Donors and rulers built several choultries for travellers and livestock in Pudukottai district. — FILE PHOTO / The Hindu

    The region is dotted with several choultries

    The district accounts for a large number of choultries (community halls) built during the Samasthanam era which were built by donors and rulers for ensuring comfortable stay for passengers, bulls, and carts. Many of these choultries are now in a dilapidated condition.

    These choultries are a reflection of the hoary past and reveal interesting information, says N. Arul Murugan, Chief Educational Officer, who has done a study on these ancient buildings.

    Grand buildings on the lines of the present-day guest houses have been built during the “samasthanam” era in the district, he says. A large number of British officers and sepoys who were visiting Madurai or Thanjavur had used these choultries often as they kept visiting these towns. These choultries can be found in Adhanakottai, Narthamalai, and Mirattunilai villages. “The location of these choultries had been recorded in A Manual of the Pudukkottai State”, he added.

    The study brought to light the fact that the old highway route had changed over the decades following the formation of new rural roads or State highways.

    The choultries are a mark of the old routes and provide information about donors from outside Pudukottai district.

    For instance, one of the donors from Thanjavur had built a choultry at Mazhaiyur village in 1806. At Kuzhaiayn Viduthi, the choultry dates back to 1763, according to the study.

    Mr. Arul Murugan points out that a village panchayat, Chinnaiah chathiram has now been named after its donor Rajasri Chinnadurai Tirumalaiyappan Thondaiman who built it in 1788.

    A number of choultries could be located in other villages such as Mullur, Vadavalam, and Varappur, according to historical data available in the samasthanam records.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Pudukottai – May 20th, 2014

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    May 27th, 2014adminLeaders, Records, All, Sports, World Opinion

    The Governing Council of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of  India (FMSCI) has nominated Akbar Ebrahim, a renowned driver coach and former Formula race driver, as India’s deputy representative at the Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA).

    FMSCI Chairman Vijay Mallya endorsed the decision and the FIA was informed about this, according to a FMSCI Media release here Saturday.

    Mallya is the Titular Delegate of India and a member of the prestigious World Motor Sports Council of the FIA, which is responsible for all aspects of international motorsport at every level from karting to Formula One.

    Ebrahim has replaced Vicky Chandhok in the role and will represent the FMSCI to lend a hand to Mallya in the FIA, the release added.

    Ebrahim said: “While my predecessor worked hard to get F1 to India, my priority now would be to get more Indians into F1 and its likes. We are going to work hard to create opportunities for our sportspersons to step out and take on the world.

    “We will make sincere efforts to align with global best practices and avail all possible assistance from international associates.

    “India has all that is required for our kids and our sport to unleash, and what we need to do now is to package and present our case to the world. To start the campaign, we need to lead the charge in the Asian Region.”

    Ebrahim had recently met FIA President Jean Todt at the FIA Asia Pacific Region Motor Sport Forum in Sri Lanka, where Todt had drawn everyone’s attention to FIA’s taskforce that is currently in operation in the Asia Pacific region.

    “The idea behind this initiative is to interact, assist and coordinate between motor sports federations in this region,” said Ebrahim.

    source: / Business Standard / Home> News-IANS> Sports / by IANS /  Chennai  – May 17th, 2014

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    May 27th, 2014adminSports, World Opinion

    India’s  Armaan Ebrahim finished on podium in both the races in the second round of the Blancpain FIA GT Series here Sunday, marking a successful return after having suffered a high speed crash in the opening round in Nogaro (France) last month.

    Driving for Fortec Motorsports in the Silver Cup Class, the Chennai driver finished an identical third in both the outings, less than a month after suffering a dislocated collar bone and a cracked rib in the qualifying of the sprint race.

    In Sunday’s second race, Armaan’s car was hit from the rear early on, forcing him to drop behind, but recovered solidly to finish third. A stewards hearing later could see Armaan move up to the second spot in his class in Race 2 in which he finished 13th overall.

    As the original car was completely written off and the new car due to arrive in another two weeks, Armaan drove the teams second car along with a new teammate, Miguel Torel.

    The two one-hour tests was spent mainly on getting to grips with Mercedes SLS AMG as due to the crash in Round 1, no pre race tests were possible.

    The grid being one of the most competitive in GT Racing with as close to six F1 drivers and most others being Platinum and Gold category drivers representing Factory teams, the top 14 cars were all within a second in Qualifying.

    “Two podiums in the Silver Cup is a dream start after a bad crash in the last round in France. It takes a bit of time to get back in the groove especially when you have to contend with acute pain in the collar bone and ribs which makes it very difficult to be aggressive with the steering wheel in the high speed corners.

    “Also, as this is the first time I am driving the Mercedes SLS AMG, it does require quite a bit of pre-season testing, and unfortunately we have not been fortunate to have that,” said Armaan.

    source: / Business Standard / Home> News-IANS> Sports / by IANS / Fawkham (Britain) / May 18th, 2014

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