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    Chennai :

    An eye donation camp held here on Friday in connection with the birth anniversary of Helen Keller, has reportedly entered the Assist World Record with nearly a lakh pledging  to donate their eyes.

    Lions Club International, which organised the eye donation awareness camp at Quaid-E-Millath Government College for Women, claimed that about a lakh people undertook the pledge during the day, making it the biggest such programme ever.

    “The last record was 22,000, and we created history today to emerge on top according to Assist World Record,” said a proud G Manilal, Governor, Lions Club district 324-A8.

    Most of the volunteers were students from institutions in the city like Stella Maris and MGR University among others.

    “We have circulated forms to college students of whom many have registered. The rest are waiting for their parents’ approval. We are expecting the registration to cross one lakh,” added Manilal.

    Each person who registered was given a smart card, which had important medical data about him/her, including the consent to donate eyes.

    Justice P Jyotimani, member, National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, distributed the eye donation smart card, which was received by popular director-actor Thangar Bachan.

    Dr KS Seetha Lakshmi, principal, Quaid-E- Millath Government College, and many eminent eye surgeons attended the camp.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai  / by Express News Service  / June 30th, 2014

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    Madurai Trees 25’ being released in Madurai on Sunday. Author D. Stephen, left, Assistant Professor in Botany, The American College, is seen. / Photo: R. Ashok / The Hindu

    Madurai Trees 25’ being released in Madurai on Sunday. Author D. Stephen, left, Assistant Professor in Botany, The American College, is seen. / Photo: R. Ashok / The Hindu

    Lists 25 species that are common in Madurai with details of origin and uses

    ‘Madurai Trees 25,’ a book on trees in Madurai was released by Madurai Green, a non-governmental environmental organisation, here on Sunday.

    The book authored in Tamil by D. Stephen, Assistant Professor in Botany, The American College, has a list of 25 species that are common in Madurai, with elaborate details of the origin and uses of the trees. The book was released by P. Saravanan, managing director of Saravana Multispeciality Hospital, at Gandhi Memorial Museum where the 25 Green Walk of Madurai Green was organised on Sunday.

    Speaking on the occasion, N. Chidambaram, coordinator of Madurai Green, said the organisation, established 22 years ago, had conducted 25 Green Walks in the past two years. “Involvement of people in green walks has given us fresh hope that the environment of Madurai can be conserved in a better way in the coming years. The participation of youth is laudable,” he said.

    “One of the major environmental issues Madurai faces is improper disposal of garbage. Sewage and garbage disposal should be done properly by the public,” Mr. Chidambaram added.

    Mr. Stephen said the book would serve as guide to people on the different trees in Madurai. Purasu, nuna, athandai, vattakanni, oduvan, banyan, peepal, palm, neem and coconut were some of the trees mentioned in the book.

    M.P. Vasimalai, executive director of Dhan Foundation, emphasised that the city’s green cover should be improved. “We should start planting saplings of rare and traditional trees,” he said.

    President of Madurai Green D. Raghavan pointed out that the city’s temperature had rapidly increased in the three decades because of felling of trees. “In 1982, the maximum temperature here was 27 degree Celsius, whereas it was 32 degree Celsius in 1990 and now it is 39 degree Celsius,” he noted.

    Members of Nanal Nanbargal and other youth organisations that took part in the green walks regularly also shared their experiences.

    A.K. Xavier, Principal of St. Joseph ITI, Edwin Rajkumar, Professor of CSI Jayaraj Annapackiam College of Nursing, Ranjitham, Principal of St. Teresa Teacher’s Training Institute, and several others spoke. Free saplings of trees were distributed to those who attended the programme.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Madurai / by Staff Reporter / Madurai – June 30th, 2014

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    Peanut vendor P.S. Gopalakrishnan on the Government Botanical Garden Road in Udhagamandalam. / Photo:M.Sathyamoorthy / The Hindu

    Peanut vendor P.S. Gopalakrishnan on the Government Botanical Garden Road in Udhagamandalam. / Photo:M.Sathyamoorthy / The Hindu

    His presence is not as conspicuous as his absence. That is Trichur Kilimangalam P.S. Gopalakrishnan, a septuagenarian, who along with his pushcart equipped with a stove, a hurricane lamp, a ladle, a pan and a stainless steel container is a familiar sight on the Government Botanical Garden road here.

    Though his presence is taken for granted and people from all sections of the society here and many regular visitors are aware of the fact that he has been around for long, only a few know that it is now 50 years since he started wheeling a push cart with pea nuts. Though landmarks are aplenty in this vacation destination many tend to agree that the best known is Mr .Gopalakrishnan’s pushcart.

    The landmark makes its appearance near the out gate of the Lawley Institute, a heritage club on Government Botanical Garden road everyday around 2 p.m. and remains there till late in the night monsoon rain or winter chillness notwithstanding.

    Mr. Gopalakrishnan who is now about 72 has been pushing it between that place and his house or some place nearby almost everyday since 1964 selling roasted pea nuts. Ever since he started the business, he has stuck to the spot near the Lawley Institute. In the process very few among the large number of people who use the road fail to stop or slow down to exchange pleasantries with him or buy a packet of his peanuts.

    The taste of his uniformly roasted (in hot sand) peanuts sold earlier in ‘potlams’ and now in packets has remained the same but the price has gone up over the years. Speaking to The Hindu the ‘kadalaikaran’ as he is popularly known said that a small ‘potlam’ which he had in the early days sold for ten paise started fetching fifteen paise in the early 1970s. A few years later 25 paise and 50 paise potlams were offered.

    With coins becoming increasingly scarce he started selling Rs. 1 potlams. For sometime now small packets are being sold for Rs. 5 and slightly larger ones for Rs. 10. In a reminiscent mood he says that he dropped out of school after doing his Class V due to personal reasons and when he was around 20 years moved to Ooty in search of a livelihood.

    Finding a ramshackle cart he had started selling peanuts. With perseverance enabling him to make ends meet, he got married in 1970.The couple has a daughter and two sons and all are married.

    Stating “my worst experience was when I was attacked by a few stray ponies and my  cart caught fire in 1972”, he said that he escaped with minor injuries. Regretting that with age catching up he is finding it increasingly difficult to stick to his routine.

    “The strain of standing in a single spot for 50 years is beginning to tell”. He added that he would be happy if his health permits him to continue his trade for at least another couple of years.

    Having endeared himself to people of all ages by patiently answering questions about himself and his trade and listening to the personal problems of  his customers, many treat him as, ‘part of the family’. He cherishes a scarf thoughtfully bought for him from New York by a girl from the Lawrence School in Lovedale who has been eating his peanuts since the late 1980s. Many tourists particularly foreigners are intrigued and excited at the manner in which he roasts the peanuts and see in him a fine photo opportunity.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by D. Radhakrishnan / Udhagamandalam – June 30th, 2014

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    Country chicken farm at Keeranur in Sivaganga district. / Photo: L. Balachandar / The Hindu

    Country chicken farm at Keeranur in Sivaganga district. / Photo: L. Balachandar / The Hindu

    Animal Husbandry Department plans to provide poultry sheds for free

    As the country chicken (native breed or nattu kozhi) commands a niche market and prime rate compared to broiler chicken, the Department of Animal Husbandry has decided to encourage successful country chicken breeders by providing them additional sheds free of cost.

    For the first time in Sivaganga district, those who had taken up country chicken breeding as an additional income generating source and bred three batches of birds, would be provided with an additional shed, costing about Rs. 1.25 lakh free of cost this year. The sheds measuring 331 square feet, would be built by involving the workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), said T.Nagarajan, Joint Director of Animal Husbandry and B.Manivannan, Nodal officer, poultry scheme during a field visit.

    The department has launched the process of short listing existing breeders to extend the benefit, they said. Besides, 160 new beneficiaries would be given front ended subsidy of Rs. 29,250 each to set up poultry farms during the current year under the State Poultry development scheme, they added.

    The beneficiaries would also be entitled for back ended subsidy of an equivalent amount by the National Bank for Rural Development (NABARD) if they set up the farms, costing Rs. 1.25 lakh by availing loans from public sector banks. However, not many could get bank loans last year, they said. “We proposed 90 out of 240 beneficiaries for bank loans last year, but only 22 were given,” they said.

    When contacted, sources in the lead bank said the banks could not concentrate on the loan applications last year when the model code of conduct for the elections was in force. This year public sector banks would be instructed to examine all applications and provide loans to eligible breeders, the sources said.

    S. Kaleeswaran and his wife K. Sathya, practicing integrated livestock farming at their farm in Keeranur, have set up a country chicken poultry farm and had made a profit of Rs. 25,000 when they sold the batch of 220 birds. They, however, lost the second batch of 250 birds following diseases.

    Veterinary Assistant Surgeon K.Suganya who periodically visited the farm said the birds had died of Raniket and Coccidiosis diseases, which affect the birds due to poor maintenance of litter. The farmers were advised to follow guidelines to avoid mortality, she said.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National / by D. J. Walter Scott / Kalayarkoil (Sivaganga) – June 29th, 2014

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    Giving clothes a second innings: Employees of Re-Stitch Point./ Photo: K. Pichumani / The Hindu

    Giving clothes a second innings: Employees of Re-Stitch Point./ Photo: K. Pichumani / The Hindu

    For 25 years, this small establishment in Mylapore has made a business out of a need to alter clothes, reports Liffy Thomas

    Finding a tailor who specialises in altering stitched clothes is a challenge. More likely than not, your regular tailor is not keen on alteration work. If he accepts such work, he is likely to sit on it for a few weeks. And then, you don’t always trust the road-side tailor with an expensive dress.

    For 25 years now, this shop specialises only in alteration of clothes for men and women. Re-Stitch Point at Mylapore does not take up stitching jobs. It does not have to. It has a huge number of customers giving it re-stitching jobs.

    Not many tailors are keen on taking up such work, so that makes us different from most tailors, says M. Sashikala, who owns the shop.

    Five tailors and two front-office staff take care of the day-to-day activities: taking measurement of customers and altering clothes.

    From patchwork on an old and torn jeans to re-sizing a salwar kameez , the shop does it all, except for altering blouses.

    A good number of customers want clothes altered for sentimental reasons.

    For instance, a lady customer wanted a pair of trousers worn by her brother, who passed away, altered to fit her so that she could continue to wear it.

    “It was a low-waist trouser and we had to add extra material to make it her fit,” said a staff that altering was more challenging that stitching.

    Amjad Khan, who has been working in the shop for the last two decades, says the most difficult task is increasing the waist. “Unlike other parts that have extra stitches, here we have to get almost matching material to increase the waist,” he says.

    Re-Stitch is keen on expanding, provided it gets more employees.

    The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.

    Address: Shop No 15, Luz Ginza, Shanthi Vihar Complex, Luz Corner, Mylapore.

    Phone: 4210 6971.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> DownTown / by Liffy Thomas / Chennai – June 28th, 2014

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    All the bells in the Armenian Church bear the stamp of Thomas Mears, which indicates that they were all cast between 1787 and 1844. / Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    All the bells in the Armenian Church bear the stamp of Thomas Mears, which indicates that they were all cast between 1787 and 1844. / Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    The Armenian Church standing on the eponymous street is one of my favourite locations in the city. Its solidly-built walls, quiet nooks and stately interiors fill me with a sense of peace that cannot be matched. Lovingly tended by the Armenian community in Calcutta and by the local caretaker Mr Alexander, it ought to be on every resident and tourist’s visit itinerary.

    Leaving that aside, it was while walking around it with a group of Americans last week that I recalled that the heritage structure has its (albeit tenuous) links with the US of A. This concerns the bells of the church, which are housed in an independent three-storied tower, on the southern side of the yard. They are accessed via a three-century-old staircase by the more physically fit and brave. The church authorities restrict entry to the tower – a sensible precaution given the age of the staircase. The ground floor of the tower has three tombs all with the same carvings on the headstone. The inscriptions are in Armenian but they probably were members of the family that funded the tower. The belief is strengthened by the fact that the same motif as the headstones – winged angels, is repeated on all floors of the belfry.

    The bells are rung every Sunday at 9.30 am. Said to be the largest in the city, there are six of them, donated at different times to the church, each weighing around 25 kgs. All of them were cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry of London. The company, founded in 1570, moved into its present premises in 1739 and continues in the same business. Talk about focus!

    Given that all the bells in the Armenian Church bear the stamp of Thomas Mears, it indicates that they were all cast between 1787 and 1844, when two men of that name, probably father and son, were master founders with the company. It is of interest to note that the same company cast the bells for St Pauls Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in London, besides several other churches in England and the Big Ben in the Houses of Parliament in London.

    Now for the American connect. The Liberty bell of Pennsylvania is one of the treasured heritage possessions of the USA. Commissioned in 1751, it was cast at the same Whitechapel Foundry and shipped to Philadelphia where it hung in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House. It cracked even during its first ring and had to be recast twice locally before it could be used properly. A second and more lasting crack in 1835 ended its career as a ringing bell but it has remained a tourist attraction. Scaled down models of it, crack and all, remain popular souvenirs across the country. Our own ‘Belfry Six’ as the set of bells in the Armenian Church are referred to, have thankfully remained crack-free.

    I wonder if any other church in our city has bells cast by the same company.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> Society / by Sriram V / Chennai – June 27th, 2014

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    Chennai, well-known for its rich Kanjeevaram saris, can undoubtedly be called India’s Mecca of silk./  Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    Chennai, well-known for its rich Kanjeevaram saris, can undoubtedly be called India’s Mecca of silk./ Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    In the age of social media, the traditional garment is unfurling itself in more ways than you can imagine. Pragya Priyadarshini traverses the lanes of T. Nagar to tell you why

    If you think tradition and technology make for an incongruous marriage, think again. ‘Sari’, an app, can teach you how to drape your six unstitched yards like a professional, while your mother’s trusted silk-store is now creating Style Boards on Pinterest. The age-old sari has unfurled itself in more dimensions than our minds ever imagined.

    Whether it is granting the wishes of its young connoisseurs or wooing the larger audience through the Internet, Sari like a mythological goddess with a hundred hands, is managing the incredible feat of pleasing women of all age-groups and how!

    “Everything is quick now, the customers send us the designs of their choice through WhatsApp and we get them manufactured at our factory,” says A.B. Sidiq of Madeena Kalanther, a store in T. Nagar. “The designs are mostly from films, and television, especially Bollywood,” he says, as he turns the pages of the latest sari design catalogue, frequently pausing to point out the “filmi-saris” to me.

    At a time when older generations are concerned about the increasing loss of tradition, the World Wide Web has made sure that the sari retains its magical charm in an ever-changing scenario. “With close to six lakh followers on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts, we are ahead of our competitors on social media,” beams Priyadarshini Ramesh of Pothy Silks. At 23, Priyadarshini, just out of college, is all set to bring in a fresh perspective to the business that her great-grandfather set up almost a century ago.

    Chennai, well-known for its rich Kanjeevaram saris, can undoubtedly be called India’s Mecca of silk. The city exports saris to Germany, Russia and France where they have graced numerous red carpets. As I walk through the bustling streets of T. Nagar, making my way through the evening crowds with the aroma of lip-smacking street food hanging heavily in the air, each sari shop appears to be more lavish than the other. Some shops are spread across multiple floors, dressed in carved wood and glass-chandeliers, while others have an army of salesmen in matching uniforms to assist you, their lips curved in welcoming smiles, their hands joined in a vanakkam. Some of these shops have been here for more than half a century while the others, relatively new, are quickly catching up in terms of variety.

    There was a time when saris from Chennai meant being exuberant Kanjeevarams with gold borders and temple prints, gracefully ending in pallavs with tassels. Snap out of that dream! Far from the Ramakathas and Dasavatara tales from olden times spun on them in conventional reds, blues and greens, saris today are inspired by every colour and theme under the sun. Saris are not confined anymore to Kanjeevarams and Pochampallis. From Kollywood designs to prints of auto-rickshaws, you’ll find symbols of namma Chennai ooru in a variety of saris.

    “I have never seen my mother in anything else than a sari, she loves her silks,” says Amrutheshwari V., 23. When asked if she would wear one herself, she giggles, saying, “Yes, I would, but something more stylish you know, something modern.”

    As I wander on my sari-quest through the city, at several places I am greeted with the new-age kitschy palm prints and Madhubani-inspired saris in bright colours. “You can’t wear heavy silks for occasions such as ethnic day in college or the valedictory function. Silks are okay for weddings, but for other occasions I would love to go for some funky kitsch designs on chiffons or crepes,” says 21-year-old Karthika Suresh, who speaks for girls of her generation. With street style trickling in, these new age saris also jostle for space alongside silks in many of the stores. “Saris in kitschy colours and prints are fashionable and fun, and they have been in demand, especially with youngsters, for three years now. Earlier, for all the wedding events, we wore just silks, but girls now want to wear something other than silk at receptions. That is where kitsch comes in, there’s nothing wrong with it,” says Priyadarshini. “Personally I would like to wear the designs and the silk that my grandmother wore 50 years ago. Fashion always gets back to its roots.”

    Another store stocks a collection of beautiful half-saris called ‘Kochadaiiyaan’, named after the latest Rajinikanth flick. “There are always some customers who come looking for film names, every shop has them these days. Anything worn by Deepika (Padukone) or Sonam (Kapoor) becomes a hit, we have to meet the demand,” the manager says.

    When some 150 years ago, Raja Ravi Verma, through his paintings, popularised the nivi drape as the Indian way of wearing a sari (with the pleats in front and the loose end draped across the shoulder), would he have ever imagined that this elaborate process of placing, pleating and pinning would turn into a quick-fix “tuck-and-go” affair. Gone are the days when grandmothers and mothers would spend their evenings carefully sewing gold borders onto their daughter’s trousseau, and chiffons and georgettes were ordered from abroad.

    A lady’s silks were a symbol of prestige. While some lament the loss of hand-woven saris that lasted decades and were passed on as heirlooms, light and convenient machine-made saris have come as a whiff of fresh air to others. Either way, each strand of this six-yard- long canvas still has a story to tell. It is the story of a tradition, which has gracefully made its way from the treasure chests of our grandmothers to the aisles of modern-day boutiques. One that has synchronised its rhythm with our fast-paced times. Like a perpetually flowing river it can never go out of fashion. A celebration of our culture, our history and who we are, the sari is here to stay.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Pragya Priyadarshini / Chennai – June 27th, 2014

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    Picture for representational purpose (Photo: DC archives)

    Picture for representational purpose (Photo: DC archives)


    The newly-declared Sathyamangalam tiger sanctuary has emerged the largest tiger country in Tamil Nadu, with at least 60 tigers stalking the sprawling jungles. According to the latest official count, the population of the big cats has more than doubled and about 60 tigers have been captured on the hidden cameras in just four blocks of the 1405 Sathyamangalam jungles in Erode district, which was once an infamous haunt of bandit Veerappan.

    “We have visual evidence of a vibrant tiger population with an attractive prey base in the Sathyamanglam jungles. The camera trappings have spotted between 50 and 60 tigers. However, the sprawling forest has the capacity to carry at least 100 tigers,” the Erode Conservator of Forests, I. Anwardeen told DC.

    Interestingly, the tally of tigresses spotted in the four blocks surveyed by the Word Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Sathyamangalam unfolds a tale of huge hope for the big cats.

    source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / DC / by H. Zakeer Hussain / June 28th, 2014

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    A miniature model of World Cup and a lively football match made out of gold (Photo: DC)

    A miniature model of World Cup and a lively football match made out of gold (Photo: DC)


    Here is shining example of what the football World Cup frenzy can do to a fan. G. Venkatesh, a goldsmith by profession and belonging to Vellalore, has crafted a beautiful miniature model of the World Cup using 130 milligram of gold.

    Venkatesh, who has been making miniature objects using gold since 2009 hoping to create a Guinness record, has fashioned the football World Cup, all of 0.7 millimetres, with just 130 milligrams of gold.

    Along with it, he has also crafted a replica of a lively football match with a team of miniature players, all made of gold, running around a ball. “I used to play football during my school days. Nowadays, I get to watch matches on television despite my painstaking and demanding job schedule,” he said. It took nearly 12 long hours for him to craft the World Cup and recreate the match scene.

    Claiming to have dropped out of school after class 7, Venkatesh said his dream is to become a record-holder – like the achievers he sees on TV. Venkatesh is now busy crafting a miniature car, whose doors could be opened and wheels move.

    “I had participated in few exhibitions and showcased my works and won appreciation.  Some even came forward to buy my models for a good price, but I do not want to sell them,” he said. He hails from a poor family as his father T. Ganesh is a painter, mother G. Rajeswari is a homemaker and brother G. Manikandan is into crafting furniture.

    source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / DC / by V. Ashok Kumar / June 25th, 2014

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    Picture for representational purpose (Photo: DC)

    Picture for representational purpose (Photo: DC)


     Its not all about technology at the IIT-M. Showing concern for the blackbuck population on its campus, which has increased from 13 in 2007 to 34 this year and other deer roaming its grounds, the institute has decided to create deer corridors with adequate space between buildings to allow the animals free movement.

    “The architects drawing up a master plan for the institute have recommended that we demolish the old buildings and construct six storey ones with space in between for the deer to roam the grounds. We have decided to go along with this,” said  IIT-M director, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi.

    Noting that the institute had always given  priority to conserving nature and animals on campus, he explained that the idea was to create more open space as several old buildings had hardly any distance between them. “We have several buildings  like these at Triplicane and Mylapore, which we will now replace with taller more widely spaced constructions,” he added.

    The institute has also identified a couple of houses near the lake for demolition to preserve its natural surroundings.

    “As it is a  low-lying area the houses are often  flooded. Whenever these houses get condemned we will demolish them and their occupants shifted to multi-storey buildings that will be constructed in areas where they are permitted,” he assured, adding that  the new area identified by the architects was less than three per cent of the cap placed by the institute.

    Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi has been associated with the institute for over three decades as student ,faculty and director.

    The IIT-M’s annual animal census last year found 34 blackbucks, 238 bonnet macaque and 403 chital deer on campus.

    Wildlife conservationist R.J. Ranjith Daniels said the increase in number of blackbucks on IIT-Madras campus could be termed a success story in conservation and planning.

    “We recommended to the institute to identify critical habitat, identify territories and the area of herds to preserve them, which the institute did and the number of blackbucks increased. With equal number of male and female population we now have good scope for breeding,” he said.

    source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / by N. Arun Kumar / June 15th, 2014

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