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    Chennai :

    Gandhigram Trust has come to the aid of 27 households in Meenatchi Oothu village in Dindigul district, living without electricity for many years.

    The village, situated in a mountainous region, has been without any source of power. Currently, the villagers are using kerosene lanterns after sunlight. With infrastructure for regular source of power needing more funds, the trust approached the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Rural Development to supply free solar lanterns to the households. They will be distributed in the village on Friday.

    “There are around 150 people in the village and there is no infrastructure to set up a transformer and a power system. This is due to paucity of funds as the panchayat’s net revenue is only Rs 35,000 annually. This is when Gandhigram through NIRD offered to supply solar-powered lanterns,” said village panchayat president M C Ratnakumar.

    With extra funds from the district administration, we were able to provide a borewell, solving the drinking water problem in the village. However, electricity remained a dream for the villagers until a few days ago, said Ratnakumar.

    The Gandhigram Trust sent a team to assess the conditions in the village and then approached the NIRD with a proposal to substitute kerosene lanterns with solar.

    “Our water and sanitation team conducted a baseline survey in the village. After this, we approached the NIRD for distribution of solar lanterns free of cost,” said trust secretary K Shivakumar.

    The households are involved in cultivation of pepper and the trust is planning to source solar dryers from the institute in the coming months.

    “The solar dryers cost around Rs 7,000 to 8,000 per piece. We have approached the institute for free distribution of the dryers in the coming months,” said Shivakumar.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / by B Sivakumar, TNN / October 30th, 2014

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    October 31st, 2014adminScience & Technologies
    The centre's facilities will help residents avoid the unnecessary sinking of deeper bore wells to find water —Photo: M. Karunakaran

    The centre’s facilities will help residents avoid the unnecessary sinking of deeper bore wells to find water —Photo: M. Karunakaran

    Wondering which spot to dig for groundwater or what is the quality of water in the land you own? Are you still thinking of folks walking around with those peculiar ‘Y’-shaped twigs? It’s not quite that way any more.

    We’ve become more scientific, we’re using special tools to figure out where the water lies. The ‘we’ in this case refers to the State Ground and Surface Water Resources Data Centre, Taramani, which provides consultancy services to identify groundwater potential.

    The centre is also set to improve its water testing laboratories in Chennai, Tiruchi, and Madurai, at a cost of Rs. 5 crore, to test more parameters.

    On an average, the staff members of the centre functioning under the Water Resources Department carry out nearly 30 field inspections every month to choose suitable sites for digging wells.

    “We survey the site with a geophysical receptivity metre to check the depth of water availability and soil condition. We also analyse the water quality using the equipment. Consumers can get results about groundwater table and quality in a week,” said an official.

    Consumers can save time by not having to sink deeper bore wells unnecessarily. Farmers, residents and commercial establishments also make use of the service, which is offered for Rs. 500 for farmers and Rs. 1,000 for others.

    “As per the government order, consumers will also have to provide transport facility,” the official added.

    To increase patronage, the centre plans to hold more awareness meetings on its services and groundwater among residents and students.

    At present, the water testing lab in Taramani gets only around 30 to 40 samples every month. The lab also has facilities to test the presence of harmful heavy metals like cadmium and pesticides in groundwater.

    “We are taking measures to create awareness about the water testing facility and expand the infrastructure of the lab. We have the facility to test up to 29 parameters. Consumers can get up to 18 parameters tested for Rs. 250 and get results in three days through post or in person,” an official said.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Tamil Nadu / by K. Lakshmi / Chennai – October 31st, 2014

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    Chennai  :

    By day he is a laparoscopic surgeon who spends long hours in the theatre. Once night falls, though, he exchanges the white coat for the guitar, and the hospital for karaoke bars.

    “In the last two years, I have been singing a lot,” says Dr J S Rajkumar, chairman, Lifeline Rigid Hospitals, who used to sing and play the guitar through medical college. After a hiatus from the world of music, he decided to take it up again, taking time out from his busy schedule.

    “All of us wait for that golden period when you can have your books, guitar and be with friends, but that is a myth. You have to pick up that book or guitar and be with friends right now, or never do it,” he says.

    Like Rajkumar, many doctors who are also ardent musicians are “taking up old arms” now that they have established a name for themselves in the medical profession. In a few months’ time, a group of them will come together to perform at ‘Doctors’ Special’, a concert being organised by musician-drummer ‘Pioneer’ Suresh. The concert, to be held soon after the December music season, will feature film numbers, mainly Tamil and Hindi, from the 1960s onwards.

    “There is a misconception that only professional singers are talented, but I believe music is there in every human,” says Suresh, who has his own band, Bharti Entertainers, and has played for singers like K J Yesudas, Shweta Mohan and Vani Jayaram. “I found many talented doctors and decided to form a group so that they get a platform to showcase their talent.”

    Some of the doctors who will be performing in the concert have had formal training in music. Dr Chandrasekhara Chandilya, head of department of internal medicine in Apollo Hospitals, learnt Carnatic music and mridangam.

    No novice to the stage, he also had his own music troupe. “Since I had my own practice then, I could make time for shows,” says the 61-year-old. Though his singing had to take a back seat from 2000, as he moved to Sri Lanka, he took it up again a decade later. “I have sung for DD Podhigai’s ‘Thullatha Manamum Thullum’,” says Dr Chandilya, who sings mostly in Tamil, though he has sung a few Hindi and Malayalam numbers too.

    The senior consultant physician and cardio-diabetologist, who was earlier with Ilayaraja’s troupe, did playback singing and even tried his hand at music direction. “I did it for three movies, but only one was released,” he says. “Everybody in Chennai knows me as the singing doctor,” he says.

    For many of them, singing is a stress buster. While it “gives an element of calm” to Dr Rajkumar’s frazzled nerves, for eye surgeon Dr J Chandrakanth, it is a way to destress. “I didn’t do professional concerts though I performed through school and college,” says Dr Chandrakanth, who learnt Carnatic music violin recital and Bharatanatyam for 10 years.

    While all of them are passionate about music, medicine was their career of choice.

    Having carved a niche for themselves in the world of medicine, they are now keen to pursue their passion. “I recently performed at the Don Bosco reunion with DB School of Rock,” says Dr Rajkumar. “It was a success. We are now planning to form a classic rock band.”

    Right now, though, they are all looking forward to the Doctors’ Special. “There are so many of us out there who have talent, it is a good platform to showcase our talent,” says Dr Chandilya.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by Priya Menon, TNN / October 28th, 2014

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    Trichy  :

    Two idols and copper plates with inscriptions were excavated during the renovation work at the Srirangam temple on Tuesday.

    The 10.45 crore renovation work led to the findings near the Parthsarathy temple, where the labourers were working for the past few days. While digging a platform near the temple, the workers found the idols and plates. They immediately alerted HR and CE authorities. According to the joint commissioner of HR & CE P Jayaraman, a two- feet idol of Chandrashekarar and another idol of Lord Ganesha in a dancing position were excavated. A set of copper plates with inscriptions were also found near the spot. Jayaraman said,

    “We have no idea about the type and make of the idols. We have alerted ASI authorities, who would be able provide more details on the idols.”

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> City> Trichy / TNN / October 08th, 2014

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    Members of the G.D.Naidu family with the Stoll family of Esslingen, Germany, during a celebration of the 75th year of friendship between the two families, in Coimbatore. Photo:K.Ananthan / The Hindu

    Members of the G.D.Naidu family with the Stoll family of Esslingen, Germany, during a celebration of the 75th year of friendship between the two families, in Coimbatore. Photo:K.Ananthan / The Hindu

    What makes the bonding between the two families significant is that it has expanded to become a relationship between two cities (Coimbatore and Esslingen) and two countries

    It was September of 1939 and Europe faced the Second World War. Forty- six-year-old Gopalswamy Doraiswamy Naidu from Coimbatore was on a business trip to Germany and was at Holzmaden, Esslingen. He had no place to stay or get vegetarian food and spent a night under the open sky.

    Berta Stoll, wife of Gottlieb Stoll, saw G.D. Naidu and invited him to their home, which was nearby. Naidu stayed with the Stoll family for four or five days, cooked his own food with vegetables picked from their garden and thus began the story of a friendship, which has lasted for 75 years, between the two families.

    A few years after his visit to Germany, when businesses were down in that country and there were no buyers for German products, Mr. Naidu wrote to his friends the world over, recommending Festo products from the company of the Stolls.

    What makes the bonding between the two families significant is that in the last seven-and-a-half decades, it has expanded to become a relationship between two cities (Coimbatore and Esslingen) and the two countries.

    About 20 members of the Stoll family are here on a five-day visit. The second, third and fourth generations of the two families — Stoll and G.D. Naidu- gathered in the city on Sunday to celebrate 75 years of their friendship.

    Members of the two families recollected the visits to India and Germany, their education and early days of work at each other’s factories, exchanged gifts and cut a cake.

    There is a proposal to twin Coimbatore and Esslingen and the Esslingen Coimbatore Association has been formed. Over the years, the Stolls have also contributed to institutes and hospitals here.

    “The Stoll family is into water conservation and research on waste water treatment. We can work together for water conservation and waste water treatment projects here,” says Vanitha Mohan, Managing Trustee of Siruthuli.

    According to Coimbatore Mayor P. Rajkumar, cooperation between Esslingen and Coimbatore will help in technology transfer and exchange of ideas. The Mayor of Esslingen is expected to visit Coimbatore next year and efforts are on to have an agreement between the two cities.

    “The common interests and value systems have strengthened the friendship between the two families over the years and the friendship has made Coimbatore attractive to them, says a member of the G.D. Naidu family.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by M. Soundariya Preetha / Coimbatore – October 29th, 2014

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    October 29th, 2014adminGreen Initiatives/ Environment, Nature
    With petals of its white flowers spread out, this orchid presents a ghostly appearance. / Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    With petals of its white flowers spread out, this orchid presents a ghostly appearance. / Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    Long, meandering, steep and punctuated with hair-pin bends, the highway connecting Mettupalayam and Kotagiri is a source of delight to tourists.

    A fascinating variety of vegetation on either side and favourable weather enhance its beauty. Different wild flowers catch the eyes of the passersby. Among them are Lady’s slippers and even kurinji. However, the most striking are the orchids with the popular name, Spreading Flowered Habenaria (Habenaria rariflora).

    Conservationist and nature photographer P.J. Vasanthan says the orchid is an endemic variety restricted to the Western Ghats. It belongs to a group popularly called ‘bog orchids.’ However, in contrast to the popular name of the group, this orchid is usually seen growing on damp and rocky terrain. With the petals of its white flowers spread out, it presents a ghostly appearance. The plant comes to notice only when it is in bloom, and the flowering season coincides with the monsoon.

    Once found all over the moist parts of the outer slopes of the district, it is now restricted to a few areas owing to anthropogenic activities. It is quite common around Droog near Coonoor, considered a haven for ground orchids.

    It is now seen along the roadside at Muloor near Kunjapanai on the Kotagiri-Mettupalayam Highway. Though unexpected, it indicates the health of the ecosystem as orchids are sensitive to changes in the environment.

    The Nilgiris hills were once rich with orchids, with over a hundred varieties being listed in the district manual of 1880. Agriculture and plantation forestry have vastly reduced their numbers.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Tamil Nadu / by D. Radhakrishnan / Udhagamandalam – October 20th, 2014

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    October 28th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment

    Madurai :

    Guru puja of Maruthu brothers went off peacefully with more than 100 people from various districts visited the memorial and paid homage to the statue at Teppakulam here on Monday.

    People from Usilampatti, Karumathur, Virudhhunagar and Dindugal districts visited the memorial on guru puja day. As a mark of respect, they garlanded the statue of Maruthu brothers.

    Similarly, the guru puja was celebrated at Kalayarkoil in Sivaganga district. People from Ramanathanpuram, Madurai, Virudhunagar and Sivagnaga districts, visited the memorial at Kalayarkoil.

    As the event was marred by violence in 2012, the district administration had issued an order under section 144 of Cr Pc and imposed a ban on entry of private vehicles and higher vehicles to the memorial at Kalayarkoil.

    Usilampatti MLA Kathiravan said, “The volunteers visited the memorial in their own vehicles to pay their homage to Maruthu brothers. More than 300 women from Madurai district belonging to Agamudaiyar community visited the memorial carrying milk pots and poured the milk on the statues of Marathu brothers at Teppakulam.”

    The event passed off peacefully amidst the security provided by the police personnel in the city. Around 1,000 police personnel were deployed at various spots and sensitive areas to maintain law and order in the city.

    Deputy commissioner of police (law and order) Samant Rohan Rajendra, said, “The law and order of the city was maintained by deploying around 1,000 police personnel at Teppakulam, Goripalayam and Scot Road in the city. Traffic was diverted at Kalayarkoil.”

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / TNN / October 28th, 2014

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    The screening of Kreuzer Emden was an opportunity for the audience to reflect on the shared artistic traditions of India and Germany — Photo: M. Srinath / The Hindu

    The screening of Kreuzer Emden was an opportunity for the audience to reflect on the shared artistic traditions of India and Germany — Photo: M. Srinath / The Hindu

    Despite the rain and slushy roads, film and history buffs turned up in good numbers to watch the 1932 German war film, Kreuzer Emden, directed by Louis Ralph, at Woodlands theatre in Royapettah on Sunday morning.

    The film is about the various missions of SMS Emden, a German warship, which bombed Madras on September 22, 1914, and its eventual destruction at the hands of an Australian warship, HMAS Sydney.

    The screening, which was organised jointly by German Consulate General, Chennai and members of the Indo-Cine Appreciation Foundation, was preceded by a welcome address by Achin Fabig, consul general, and a short talk by Professor A.R. Venkatachalapathy from the Madras Institute of Development Studies, who provided the historical context.

    “The screening of the film does not aim to further understand the role played by the Emden in World War I or to even glorify it. It takes a critical approach to the attack,” said Mr. Fabig.

    Drawing attention to how the film’s cinematographer Josef Wirsching went on to work in several Hindi feature films in Bombay, he said that Indians and Germans also seem to have shared artistic traditions.

    Professor Venkatachalapathy began his talk by bemoaning the fact that Indians care too little for history. “We understand war as something spectacular and tend to glorify it. India has been lucky not to have experienced destruction of such scale,” he said.

    Speaking about the Emden, Professor Venkatachalapathy said that it symbolised the ascendancy of Germany on the seas, which had previously been dominated by England. “Within months of attacking Madras, it managed to pass into popular culture. It is today a part of local parlance,” he said.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Udhav Naig / Chennai – October 27th, 2014

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    Environment and nature enthusiasts in the city convened at the Gandhi Memorial Museum premises here on Saturday to initiate the ‘Madurai Nature Forum’, a collective of NGOs and individuals working for environmental causes in the city.

    The forum plans to conduct an extensive study of the biodiversity in the district over the next six months and document the flora and fauna. The biodiversity study, which will have a special focus on birds and the disappearing water ecosystems in the district, will begin on October 26 with a study of the Samanatham tank and the migratory birds which flock to the spot during the monsoons.

    Speaking at the launch of the forum, District Forest Officer Nihar Ranjan said that a forum and study like this would not only help people know about the unexplored biodiversity in the district, but would also motivate people to conserve their surroundings.

    “As many of the forest areas in the district are unexplored, the forest department will cooperate and help organise treks for enthusiasts who wish to document the biodiversity there,” he said, at the event.

    D. Raveendran of Iragugal Naturalists Association said that the study would seek to create awareness among many people who remain oblivious to their surroundings or the harm they might be causing to the environment. The members of the forum further made a mention of villages in the country which had celebrated a cracker-free Deepavali to protect birds in the area and urged the people to follow more such initiatives to conserve the biodiversity.

    Badri Narayanan, an avid bird watcher, spoke about the variety of birds in the district with a powerpoint presentation showcasing the various species of birds he had photographed in the district.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> TamilNadu / by Staff Reporter / Madurai – October 26th, 2014

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    Babu Ezhil Gunalan and Karpavalli were able to move into a home a few months ago after a long spell as pavement dwellers. Photo: M. Vedhan / The Hindu

    Babu Ezhil Gunalan and Karpavalli were able to move into a home a few months ago after a long spell as pavement dwellers. Photo: M. Vedhan / The Hindu

    A blind couple on the darker side of the city and their fight against all odds

    He hawks popcorn on suburban trains from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, to try and eke out between Rs. 200 to Rs. 300 to support his wife’s dream of becoming a teacher and also, towards caring for their one-year-old toddler.

    Babu Ezhil Gunalan (30) is blind, also to the challenges that life throws at him. He hopes that soon, his wife B. Karpavalli (30), who is also blind and studies at Presidency College, will complete her graduation in English literature and pursue a B. Ed immediately so that she can become a teacher. A student of Tamil literature from Tiruchi’s National College, Gunalan says his B.A. degree has not helped him find a job. “That’s why I wanted her to pursue English literature,” he says. “That’s why this train life for me.”

    The blind couple, who got here from their home town Tiruchi three years ago after their parents opposed their inter-caste love, have made Chennai their home against all the odds. The last couple of months have been relatively easier as they have rented out a home at Thiruninravur at a monthly rent of Rs. 2,500. Their newborn desperately needed shelter from rains. But life has not always been under a roof. They have spent a good deal of their life together in the city as pavement dwellers.

    The couple, who met at the voluntary organisation Vizhi Ilanthore Mahalir Maruvaazhvu Maiyam (Home for rehabilitation of blind women) in Tiruchi, arrived in Chennai with just Rs. 3,000 in cash and a few friends to turn to.

    City life, Gunalan says, is fraught with as many challenges as it provides hope. While Karpavalli pursues her study with the hope that she would one day be an English teacher at a school, Gunalan toils hard. He has turned to usurious money lenders (kandhu vadi) to make ends meet. He has borrowed Rs.10,000 and has to repay at an monthly interest of Rs. 10 per 100 every month. The sheer math of it makes the loan mind-boggling.

    “But what option do I have,” he asks. “No bank would give me a loan as I don’t have a regular income to show or some property in my name. Loans at high rates of interest are bothering us. A friend, who is also blind, recently committed suicide because he was unable to repay debts.”

    There are some spells during their stay when they find themselves at the mercy of friends or some sheer providence – at times considerate officials have allowed them to stay overnight at railway stations.

    The big dream is to one day own a house. “I have to find a home of my own. Homelessness is quite painful,” he says.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai> Society / by Aloysius Xavier Lopez / October 28th, 2014

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