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    November 30th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Records, All
    S. Venkatraman travelled across the country over the past two years to collect material and photographs for his book — Photo: V. Ganesan  / The Hindu

    S. Venkatraman travelled across the country over the past two years to collect material and photographs for his book — Photo: V. Ganesan
    / The Hindu

    After his first train ride in the 1920s, Venkatraman went on to work with the Railways and has now authored his second book on the Indian rail network

    In the late 1920s, five-year-old S. Venkatraman boarded a train for the first time from Madras to Vijayawada, along with his father. He was smitten.

    In 1942, he joined the Railways. As a culmination of his love for trains, 91-year-old Venkatraman travelled across the country and has come out with a book on the Indian Railways.

    Indian Railways – The Beginning up to 1900 is a reminder of the glorious past of the world’s largest rail network.

    The book comprises 534 pages and 600 pictures, including some rare ones in black-and-white.

    But launching the book was not an easy task for this retired railway employee.

    Over the past two years, he has travelled to Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to collect details and take pictures of railways stations and trains.

    “I also went to Bombay from where the first train chugged out. I travelled on nearly 350 trains and spent many lakhs compiling the book,” he says.

    Mr. Venkatraman joined the Railways as a materials manager (stores) in Hubli and retired in 1982.

    “I began writing the book more than three decades after retiring. My wife Lalitha, who was a lecturer of political science at Banaras Hindu University, was my inspiration. She passed away four years ago,” he says.

    His first book Indian Railways at a Glance was a success. “The British had a separate coach for women, refreshment bars in stations and compartments with seating capacity of 200, way back in the 1880s. There were no toilets in trains then,” says Mr. Venkatraman, who feels that privatisation is the only way ahead for the Railways.

    He says he is bringing out books on Railways out of sheer interest and not for profit. “My book should be a wake-up call to the railway administration that is now facing infrastructural deficiencies,” says Mr. Venkatraman, a member of the Indian Railway Fan Club.

    He feels his efforts will be rewarded when more youngsters, especially in the Railways, learn about the heritage of our trains.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Vivek Narayanan / November 28th, 2014

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    Madurai :

    City mayor V V Rajan Chellappa on Wednesday undertook an inspection of the Vaigai river where cleaning operation is being carried. Meanwhile, the Vaigai River Restoration Pageant has planned to recover the grand waterway by restoring its historic value.

    The mayor has ordered cleaning operations of the Vaigai river after appointing 200 corporation workers. An initiative was also being taken to plant trees along the Vaigai to add beauty to its existence.

    Chellappa said, “We have also planned for an eviction drive to remove all the encroachments along the Vaigai river and expand the roads along it to make it useful for commuters.”

    Moreover, the Vaigai River Restoration Pageant in collaboration with Dhan Foundation, an NGO plans to recover the grand waterway by introducing various ideas like social credit to the public and assuring to keep the river clean.

    The social credits shall help the public redeem them in the form of health insurance and enrolling themselves for English speaking classes. A Gurunathan, chief executive officer of Dhan Vayalagam (tank) Foundation said, “We are trying to restore the forgotten history of Vaigai river by introducing mythological aspects like that of Lord Shiva so that the people residing in Madurai understand the significance of the river.”

    The project is more about making the people understand the importance of river for the farmers and potters. In its bid to sensitise the issue, the project also plans for a walk through the Vaigai river starting from Fathima College to Albert Victor Bridge.

    Ahead of Chithirai festival, Dhan Foundation in collaboration with Earths Celebration, an US-based NGO has also planned for a series of 20 to 25 artisans who will be placed along the Vaigai river wearing kavadi dresses and people wearing paper masks showcasing the cultural aspects of the city. The preparations for the restoration pageant will start in the month of December ahead of Chithirai festival.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / TNN / November 27th, 2014

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    November 30th, 2014adminUncategorized
    Visitors having a look at the exhibits displayed in ‘Click Your Pic 2014’ wildlife photography contest and expo at Brookefields Mall in Coimbatore. / by Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    Visitors having a look at the exhibits displayed in ‘Click Your Pic 2014’ wildlife photography contest and expo at Brookefields Mall in Coimbatore. / by Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    Importance of wildlife photography stressed

    Thousands of visitors flocked Brookefields Mall in the weekend to see the wildlife photographs displayed by 165 photographers across the country in the ‘Click Your Pic 2014’ wildlife photography contest and expo. It was organised by the Environment Conservation Group.

    The photographers displayed India’s rich biodiversity. Eminent wildlife photographer T.N.A. Perumal, who distributed prizes to the winners of the competition, on Sunday, spoke on the importance of wildlife photography and change in technology that had made wildlife photography much easier.

    I. Anwardeen, Conservator of Forests, Sathyamangalam, asked the public to work towards conserving wildlife and India’s rich natural heritage.

    R. Mohammed Saleem, president of ECG, elaborated on the importance of the pictures displayed in the expo and efforts taken by photographers in taking them.

    Winners were given prizes in three different categories. In the mammals category, Sudharshan Murthy came first, followed by Bharathi and Dhanuparan. In the birds category, Ganesan Ram won the first prize. Anvitha Jaganath and Sivakumar came second and third. In the insects category, Sibi Ussan bagged the first and the second prizes. R. Prakash Kumar of Nallampalayam bagged the third prize.

    Prizes for the drawing competition held on Friday were also given away to school students on Sunday.

    The exhibition is open to visitors at Brookefields till November 19. Schools can bring their students in batches to visit the exhibition and learn our rich natural heritage.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by Staff Reporter / Coimbatore – November 18th, 2014

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    November 30th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Records, All
    Students at ‘Kovaipex 2014’, a district-level philatelic exhibition at Techno Park, TNAU, in Coimbatore on Thursday. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan / The Hindu

    Students at ‘Kovaipex 2014’, a district-level philatelic exhibition at Techno Park, TNAU, in Coimbatore on Thursday. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan / The Hindu

    P.R. Krishnan, who is into export business, considers some of his most profitable investments to be those made outside that business. For, his best returns have come from philately.

    Mr. Krishnan, a senior philatelist in the city, says, gold purchased for Rs. 100 in 1949 will be worth around Rs. 79,000 now. However, stamps bought for the same amount in the same period will now be valued in excess of Rs. 3.25 lakh, more than four times that of the gold’s value. “Today, stamp collection is the best investment avenue for youngsters,” he adds.

    Mr. Krishnan is the secretary of Philatelist Club of Coimbatore, playing its role with India Posts in organising a three-day philatelic expo “Kovaipex” that began here on Thursday.

    Manju P. Pillai, Post Master General of Western region, says the expo is a quadrennial event that is being given a fresh impetus this time around. All the schools in the district have been invited to send their students for the expo. It features 144 frames holding thousands of stamps collected by many young and senior philatelists in the city.

    Rare stamps such as the ‘Scinde Dawk’, the first Indian stamp released in 1852, ‘Sandalwood Scented Stamp of India’ released in 2006 and ‘Kurinji stamp’ released later in the same year to celebrate the legendary blossoms of Western Ghats also find a place of prominence.

    U. Srinithish, Class VIII student of PSG Public School, says, “I have a personal collection of around 500 stamps that is something of a generational inheritance. They were passed down from my grandmother to my father and now, to me. Its value struck me only after visiting this expo.”

    Competitions are also being held for the best collection. Students from various schools in the city visited the exhibition, which is being held at the Techno Park II and III on TNAU premises on Marudamalai Road. Entry is free for the expo, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It concludes this Saturday.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by Srinithi Mahendran / Coimbatore – November 28th, 2014

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    Chennai :

    With real estate prices and cost of construction on the rise, owning a house in cities remains a dream for the middle class. But it might soon be a thing of the past, courtesy IIT Madras and its efforts to popularize the cost-effective, rapid and eco-friendly method of construction using Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum (GFRG) panels.

    After the successful construction of a two-storey building at the IIT campus in June this year using GFRG panels, experts from the civil engineering department of the institute are close to an agreement with Tata Housing Development Corporation Ltd to build a housing project at Boisar, a suburb in Mumbai, for low-income groups.

    The GFRG building method essentially uses glass fibres and specially calcined gypsum plaster to make the regular panel stronger and water resistant.

    According to Shinto Paul, structural design engineer for the GFRG building at IIT-M and PhD scholar at the civil engineering department, the foundation for the building is laid in the regular manner and GFRG panels are used for erecting the remaining superstructure with minimum concrete usage except at the joints and cavities of the panel. Once the foundation is constructed and the panels are erected, the main structure can be built in a few days.

    However, while using GFRG panels, all floors should ideally have the same floor plan. Curved structures and domes are best avoided or concrete can be used for such areas.

    “The rapid low-cost housing project is headed in the right direction and we are in talks with Tata Housing to use the technology for mass housing projects. We are also collaborating with various state governments and housing structures are already being built in Kerala using this technique.” said Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director, IIT Madras.

    A senior official with Tata Housing confirmed the development and said the pilot project discussions were under way. The pilot module of the Boisar project consists of nine buildings, each with five floors and eight apartments on each floor. After the construction of the pilot module, the project may be scaled up with more buildings. It is estimated that the total cost of construction will be limited to less than 1,200 per sqft.

    “We have been getting numerous enquiries about the project after the completion of the demo building at our campus,” said A Meher Prasad, head of the department of civil engineering, IIT Madras. The 1,981sqft two-storeyed building at the IIT campus, with two one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments, was completed in just a month at a cost of 24 lakh.

    “We are constructing a 54-unit housing building for Kerala government at Chottanikara at a cost of 1,000 per sqft. The idea is to bring down the cost of constructing the structure and the customer can choose the remaining accessories and fittings,” said Shinto Paul.

    As of now, the GFRG panels are being manufactured at FACT-RCF Building Products Ltd (FRBL) in Kochi, a joint venture between The Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mumbai. Proposals have been mooted to the Union government and more manufacturing units for GFRG panels are expected to be set up across the country to further scale down the transportation cost of the panels.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by Binoy Valsan, TNN / November 24th, 2014

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    November 25th, 2014adminEducation, Science & Technologies, World Opinion

    Chennai :

    Led by an expert who was part of the ATLAS experiment that helped find the God Particle, Higgs Boson, by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras has become a full member of a collaboration with the Geneva-based organisation in search of the structure of the universe.

    While reputed institutions including TIFR, BARC and a few others have been partnering with CERN, IIT-M is the first IIT to come on board of the prestigious LHC experiment.

    According to Prafulla Kumar Behera, associate professor with the department of physics, this initiative will help the institute strengthen its capabilities in fundamental research. “CERN is home to a lot of innovations, including the world wide web. This collaboration is like a bridge that would connect us to the highest level of scientific research while offering them our talent and expertise,” Behera told The New Indian Express.

    Besides him, another faculty, James Libby, and two PhD scholars have come on board on the CMS collaboration.

    Behera was part of the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus), one of the many particle detector experiments at the LHC particle accelarator, for half a decade till 2011 before returning to India to take up the job at IIT-M.

    The collaboration will be on CMS or Compact Muon Solenoid, a particle detector that is designed to see a wide range of particles and phenomena produced during high-energy collisions in the LHC. This information is believed to hold answers to questions like what the universe is really made of, what forces act within in and what gives everything substance.

    Behera has previously worked on silicon pixel detector, a sophisticated technology used primarily in fundamental scientific research, which is not available in India. “We would like to collaborate and develop Indian expertise so that by the time the plant is upgraded by 2020 as has been planned, there will be substantial contribution from our country,” said Behera, who returned from CERN a week ago.

    The silicon pixel detector has uses outside the limits of fundamental scientific research, including medical purposes like advanced imaging, he said, pointing out that Indian industries could manufacture the detector in the coming years.

    While the team from Chennai will be placed at CERN during the summer, the idea is to collaborate from here by using grid computing to access data generated at the labs in Geneva. Grid computing facility has already been networked till TIFR, Mumbai, which will be expanded to south India, he added.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Express News Service / November 23rd, 2014

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    November 25th, 2014adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Sports
    Photos: B. Jothi Ramalingam

    Photos: B. Jothi Ramalingam

    Island grounds on Saturday night found a crowd of thousands gathered to run for a cause as part of the city’s very first dusk-to-dawn marathon.

    The initiative, conceived to increase awareness about liver diseases, liver wellness and the need to donate organs, was flagged off at 10 p.m. by actor Suriya, who has pledged to donate his organs.

    The event saw a massive turn-out, with as many as 6,000 individuals participating.  While some ran a daunting 21 km, others did a course of 3 km. Transplant patients too took part in the event and were to cover a distance of 1.5 km.

    Presented by Apollo Hospitals Chennai – Centre for Liver Disease and Transplantation, along with Love your Liver Foundation, and supported by Chennai Runners, Dream Runners, Cool Runners, Tamil Nadu Cycling Club and Neville Endeavours, the marathon was expected to extend to the early hours of Sunday.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Staff Reporter / Chennai – November 23rd, 2014

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    November 23rd, 2014adminEducation, Leaders, Records, All, World Opinion

    This is a significant year for India and Australia to build bilateral relations and strengthen economic ties between the countries, Patrick Suckling, Australian High Commissioner to India, said here on Saturday.

    He was in Chennai to present the Indo-Australian Award for Meritorious Service to Elizabeth Varghese, chairperson, Hindustan Group of Institutions.

    Highlighting the significant aspects of recent meetings between Prime Ministers of India and Australia, Mr. Suckling said their mutual visits helped to intensify the relations between the countries.

    Drawing comparison between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, he said both were deeply committed to values and development. Pointing out that several agreements were signed for sustainable development, Mr. Suckling said mutual contributions by the communities in both the countries were also significant. He lauded Ms. Varghese for her achievements in male-dominated fields and also for her pioneering work in the engineering and education fields.

    Accepting the award and citation given by the Indo-Australian Association and Australian Consulate General, Chennai, Ms. Varghese said, “This award is recognition for my work in the fields.”

    Deputy Consul General to South India Stuart Campbell and Indo-Australian Association’s vice-president Eugenie Pinto also spoke.

    The Indo-Australian Award for Meritorious Service was presented to Elizabeth Varghese of the Hindustan Group of Institutions

    source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – November 23rd, 2014

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    Madurai :

    In a bid to strengthen bilateral ties with India and expand its programme in the south, the consulate general of republic of Korea held a traditional Korean performance here on Friday. The performance, which was carried out by a Korean music group called “Noreum Machi”, was held to commemorate the opening of consulate general of republic of Korea in Chennai. The office began functioning on February 7.

    In Kook Kim, a member of the consulate general, commented that their agenda was to deepen bilateral ties with India and expand their ties with different places in India. These ties would be cultural as well as academic, he said. The group of four artists, wearing the traditional Korean dress consisting of a hat and a long ribbon, gave a dance performance called the “sangmo”, accompanied by Korean folk music. The group sang as they danced, and traditional instruments like the ‘janggu’, which looked like a drum, ‘jing’, a large metal gong and ‘teapyungso’, which is a double-reed wing instrument, were used to create the music, besides a double-barrel drum called the ‘buk’. tnn

    source: / Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / TNN / November 22nd, 2014

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    Madurai :

    Although the beautiful Thirumalai Nayak mahal, a palace built by the Nayak king Thirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) more than 400 years ago, is only one-fourth of its original structure now, it still attracts thousands of tourists every year. The road that hosts it does credit to the handsome structure, as British-era buildings, including a church, line the stretch.

    The name Palace Road too is a British contribution, said V Vedachalam, an archeologist, explaining that the street came under the foreigners after they conquered Madurai by 1790. Many Nayak structures were converted to offices, and the district court was housed in Nayak mahal till the 1980s, assigning much prominence to the road, he said.

    The east gate CSI church is another important structure here, established by American missionaries in 1845. T Chinnaraj, former principal of American college, said that it had been the first church of the American missionaries.

    “It is believed that it was the most beautiful church at the time and British collectors had written back to England about this church coming up. The missionaries bought this piece of land outside palace entry and constructed a place of worship for themselves. Most of their constructions, like the mission hospital, came beyond this church,” he pointed out.

    The palace, built in 1636, was dismantled by Thirumalai Nayak’s grandson, who shifted most of the materials to Thiruchirapalli to construct his own palace.

    However, the hybrid Dravidian- Islamic style palace remains one of the prime attractions of city, drawing even foreign crowds.

    Sixty-nine-year-old A K Venkatachalapathy, a resident of Palace Road, recalls it as one of the most beautiful streets he had ever seen. The road used to act a min-bus stand, and buses would start from here and go to the tail ends of the city.

    The park in front of the palace used to be a hive of activity, he says, as people gathered there after their day’s work to listen to the radio. Televisions had not started to make an appearance, he recalls, and loud speakers used to blare out the radio for the residents. Over hot cups of coffee from the Saraswathy cafe opposite the palace, the residents used to meet and talk, and the memory of the good old days remains with Venkatachalapathy even as he admits that the face of the street has changed forever.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / by J . Arockiaraj,  TNN / November 23rd, 2014

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