Chennai First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Chennai, Tamilians and all the People of TamilNadu – here at Home and Overseas
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    Vipulananda Adigalar

    Vipulananda Adigalar

    Film throws light on unknown facets of Vipulananda Adigalar’s life

    Tracing the unknown aspects of a prominent personality in the world of Tamil literature is quite a challenging task and Mu. Elangovan, a faculty in the Kanchi Mamunivar Centre for Post Graduate Studies, Puducherry, has travelled across the sea to do exactly that.

    After a year of research, documentation and interviews, Mr. Elangovan has brought out a 50-minute documentary to depict the life of Vipulananda Adigalar, who wrote the famous Yazh Nool (a book of stringed musical instruments), a principal research treatise on Isai Tamil.

    “I wanted to know more about his life. While I began collecting his books, manuscripts, photographs and letters, many unknown facts about him attracted my attention. I felt that a documentary film would be the proper medium to bring these facts before the public. SivamVeluppillai, who works in a private firm in Canada and Kasupathi Nataraja, an elderly person in Sri Lanka helped me complete this work,” said Mr.Elangovan.

    Taught in T.N.

    The famed Tamil scholar and educationist, who was born in Karaitivu near Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, in 1892, edited several magazines, translated works and played an instrumental role in establishing several academic institutions in Sri Lanka. On the invitation of Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar, the founder of the Annamalai University, Vipulananda Adigalar even served there from 1931 to 1933 as Tamil Professor.

    While teaching in Annamalai University, he translated Vivekanandar’s Gnana deepamKarma YogamRaja yogam, Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutram. He was a pioneer in teaching and propagating Bharathiar’s Poems in the academic circle during the British rule. “He was the first scholar to recognise and appreciate Bharathiar’s poetic genius. He protested the visit of the English Governor to Annamalai University by hoisting black flag at his residence,” he added.

    Vipulananda had his early education at his native place Karaitivu, Kalmunai, Batticaloa, and later he studied Technical Education at Colombo, got his B.Sc Degree by passing the Cambridge University Examinations, and also ‘Pandithar’ title of the Madurai Tamil Sangam at the age of 24; served as a teacher at Colombo, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Jaffna, received Mahatma Gandhi when he visited Jaffna and also hosted Maraimalai Adigal at Jaffna.

    Mr. Elangovan travelled to Sri Lanka and Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Chidambaram, Kumbakonam, Chennai, Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Mayavathi (the Himalayan foot) for making the documentary.

    “This documentary will remind the future generations about the excellence of Vipulananda Adigalar. It has interviews of those who have been his co-workers, friends and relatives, and addition to his writings, photographs. This film will be released first in Sri Lanka.”

    In Sri Lanka, he visited Colombo Tamil Sangam, Sri Lanka Ramakrishna Mutt Branches, Swami Vipulananda Institute of Aesthetic Studies at Eastern University as well as his relatives and many other places including Karaithivu, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Jaffna, Mandur, Thetratthivu, Colombo, Rosalla, Kandy, where evidences of his life and works are available.

    The documentary also depicts Vipulananda’s association with Ramakrishna Math and his visit to Chennai where he had his ascetic training from 1922 to 1924. His Brahmachariya name was Prabodha Saithanyer and got his spiritual initiation from Swamy Sivananda in 1924 and later he was called Vipulananda Adigalar. Vipulanandar established and superintended various schools in Sri Lanka from 1925 to 1931. He founded Sivananda Vidyalayam in memory of his Guru who initiated him in the spiritual order and thereby paved way for several thousand poor pupils to receive education.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Puducherry / by S. Senthalir / Puducherry – October 30th, 2017

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    “The functionalisation process avoids the use of organic solvents. This makes it safe and eco-friendly,” says Pradeep (second from right).

    “The functionalisation process avoids the use of organic solvents. This makes it safe and eco-friendly,” says Pradeep (second from right).

    The material can be coated on a variety of surfaces including glass and paper

    Nanocellulose-based liquid dispersion that renders the coated surface extremely water repellent — superhydrophobic with water contact angle more than 160 degrees — has been developed by a team of researchers led by Prof. T. Pradeep from the Department of Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras.

    The material can be coated on a variety of surfaces including glass and paper. It has several distinct properties such as high mechanical durability and chemical stability. Like other superhydrophobic materials, the dispersion-coated surface exhibits microbial resistance thus preventing biofouling.

    The researchers used cellulose nanofibres (5-20 nm wide and more than 500 nm in length) and functionalised them with flurosilane in water over six-seven hours at room temperature. The linkage of fluorosilane with cellulose happens through the hydroxyl groups present on cellulose.

    The functionalisation makes the long fibres of cellulose, resembling bamboo poles of molecular dimensions, to be covered with fluoroalkyl groups. This reduces the surface energy of cellulose fibres. Low surface energy together with enhanced surface roughness at nanoscale renders the coated surface highly water-repellent. Tiny water droplets dropped from a height bounced off the coated surface attesting the extreme water-repellence. Other tests too confirmed superhydrophobicity.

    “The functionalisation process avoids the use of organic solvents. This makes it safe and eco-friendly. This science helps expand the use of sustainable materials. And similar to water, the dispersion is not sticky thus making it easy to coat or spray paint on any surface,” says Prof. Pradeep.

    Superior durability

    The coating exhibited superior mechanical durability even when subjected to a variety of abrasion tests — scratches using a knife, peel-off test and sand paper abrasion. “There was negligible reduction in water repellence even when subjected to wear and tear. The covalent linkages between the cellulose fibres provide superior mechanical stability to the coating,” Prof. Pradeep says. The coating also strongly adheres to the surface.

    Even when exposed to organic solvents such as hexane and ethanol, the coating exhibited chemical stability and retained its extreme water-repelling property. “The coating absorbs organic solvents. Once the coating dries, which happens very quickly, the water-repelling property returns,” says Avijit Baidya from the Department of Chemistry, IIT Madras and the first author of the paper published in the journal ACS Nano.

    “The coating remained stable even when subjected to extreme temperatures of 200 degree and –80 degree and exposed to direct sunlight,” says Baidya. “The longevity was also tested for two years under laboratory conditions.”

    Despite the extreme water repelling property, coated paper absorbs organic components. “Since ink has organic components, the coating allows the ink to diffuse. Unlike normal paper where the ink washes off when exposed to water, the ink on the coated paper remained intact even when in contact with water,” says Baidya.

    Though the coating strongly adheres to glass and exhibits all the desirable properties, light transmission gets compromised as the coating turns the glass white. “This material is truly not for glass. Better applications will be in paints and for coating the paper used for printing currency,” says Baidya.

    The team is already working to address the issue of light transmission by using a starting material other than cellulose. “We have nearly developed a superhydrophobic material that remains transparent once coated,” says Prof. Pradeep, who is the corresponding author.

    “We are willing to commercialise the product either through a start-up or by licensing it. We have already filed for a patent,” He says.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Science / by R Prasad / October 28th, 2017

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    File photo shows the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge. | Photo Credit: AP

    File photo shows the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge. | Photo Credit: AP

    The setting up of a Chair for Tamil will immensely contribute to Indology and also research on Tamil literature and culture, says Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami.

    In a fillip to a proposal to set up a Chair for Tamil studies at the prestigious Harvard University, the Tamil Nadu government on Friday announced a sum of ₹10 crore towards the plan mooted by two United States-based Tamil enthusiasts.

    The setting up of such a Chair would immensely contribute to Indology and also research on Tamil literature and culture, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said in a statement.

    Cardiologist Dr. Vijay Janakiraman and oncologist Dr. S.T. Sambandam had floated the idea and had personally contributed funds towards it.

    Following their request, then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had in her party’s election manifesto in 2016 announced that her government would take steps for setting up a Tamil Chair in Harvard University.

    Efforts are also on to mobilise funds from interested parties through the social media for setting up the Chair.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Tamil Nadu / by Dennis S. Jesudasan / Chennai – October 27th, 2017

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    DrShanmugamCF21oct2017

    Since 1967, a doctor in Perambur has been making medical care affordable for the economically underprivileged residents of the locality

    In 1967, Dr. D. Shanmugam opened Dr. Shanmugam Child Health Clinic on Patel Road in Perambur. The same year, an unexpected patient came knocking on his clinic.

    S. Vijayalakshmi, a resident of Perambur, was suffering from severe abdominal pain. With tablets proving futile in controlling the pain, she turned to Dr. Shanmugam. As he was running a clinic for children, the young and tall doctor was reluctant to treat her. He however broke the rule and treated her.

    Through this intervention, Dr. Shanmugam gained not only a new patient, but also received his life partner. Impressed with what he had done for their daughter, Vijayalakshmi’s parents were only too glad to give her in marriage to him the same year.

    Now 84 years old, Dr. Shanmugam completes 50 years of service in the neighbourhood this year.

    Born to M. Dharman and D. Nagammal, who worked at the Kolar Gold Mine Fields (KGF) in Karnataka, Shanmugam pursued his schooling in Kolar before coming to Chennai, where he was enrolled at Pachaiyappa’s Higher Secondary School. Later, in 1957, he pursued MBBS at the Government Stanley Medical College.

    With a meagre income, his family struggled to send him his monthly allowance of ₹15, let alone afford the education fee. Scholarships saw him through school and college.

    For a decade he studied medicine and later worked in a Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in Karunkalagudi village in Madurai and also spent a few years at the paediatric section of Madras Medical College (MMC) in Park Town.

    After serving at the PHC in Madurai for a few years, he was posted in various districts as government medical officer for child care.

    His longest stint was at the state-run Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children in Egmore, where he served the as Regional Medical Officer for 22 years.

    The clinic, which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on October 15 with a free health camp, has maintained a ‘no-charge policy’ with its patients, many of whom are economically underprivileged. If the treatment went beyond consultation and basic treatment, he would refer the patient to government hospitals.

    Over the years, Dr. Shanmugam’s son Dr. S. Nagaderan, a pedestrian, has assisted his father at the clinic.

    “I was keen on having my own clinic as doing so would help residents receive timely treatment.

    “For nearly four decades, I had my clinic on Patel Road before shifting it to my house on Anandavelu Mudali Street in Perambur as the building on Patel Road was demolished,” he says.

    Patients from as far as Ambur, Vellore, Walajabhad, Tirupathi, Sulurpet near Gummudipoondi, Thiruvannamalai and Kancheepuram have come here to consult Dr. Shanmugam.

    For patients who can afford a fee, Dr. Shanmugam charges ₹200 for a consultation, while for those who cannot afford a fee, he offers free consultation and treatment.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News>Cities> Chennai / by D. Madhavan / October 19th, 2017

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    Chennai :

    The achievement of  Tamil Nadu’s power utility, providing connections in a single day, seems to have become a big hit, with may discoms keen on replicating the scheme in their states.

    The 16,000 connections, including domestic, provided by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company Ltd (Tangedco) so far figured prominently at the recent conference of chairmen of discoms in New Delhi.

    Under the scheme, consumers seeking a connection can apply and pay the required charges online and receive the new connection within 24 hours. Residents of Chennai region, which includes parts of Kancheepuram  and Tiruvallur districts, have benefited the most, receiving 8,036 connections.

    Only those consumers who are not part of any special or multi-storey buildings falling under the ‘mere service connection category’ are allowed to apply under the scheme. “The applicants of the LT domestic and commercial service connections can apply either through Tangedco’s web portal (www.tangedco.gov.in) or in person at the section office concerned. In online mode, the applicant has to fill all the details in the application and upload the scanned copies of the supporting documents,” a senior official told TOI.

    The applicants have to ensure that valid documents being uploaded are in complete shape before making online payments. They can pay the charges at the time of registering the application either online or in person at the office concerned.

    “We briefed the chairmen [of various discoms] about the scheme and immediately the Centre wanted states to implement it depending on their resources and availabilty of power,” said the official.

    At the meeting held on Saturday last in New Delhi, the financial turnaround that Tangedco had acheieved came up for discussion, with almost all the participating delegates expressing awe at the acheievement. The steps the discom had put in place to make itself financially viable even before it joined the Ujwal Discom Rejuvenation Yojana (Uday) scheme of the central government came in for praise.

    “A new domestic connection before the introduction of the scheme used to take 30 days and 60 days for new low tension industrial connection as it involved extension of the transformers or setting up new ones.

    But the delay has now been avoided with the introduction of new schemes in both the sectors,” said the official.

    All chief engineers of Tangedco have been asked to take necessary action to ensure that meters and other service connection material are available in the stores for effecting service connections without any delay.

    “Once an application for a new LT connection is received, the officials are expected to monitor the progress in providing the connection. Superintending engineers will be taken to task if there is any delay in providing the connection,” he said.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Chennai News> Civic News / by Sivakumar / July 28th, 2017

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    June 20th, 2017adminAmazing Feats, Education, Records, All

    firstwomanengineerCF20jun2017

    When Dr Shantha Mohan, who is writing a book on the women graduates of the College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG), contacted me recently, seeking more information on May George (Miscellany, February 3, 2014 ), I got more information from her than I could give. I’d always thought that the College had admitted only two women students, its first, in 1940, but I learnt from her that three had been admitted. They were PK Thresia, Leelamma George and A Lalitha, all receiving their degrees in 1943 with the certificate having ‘He’ struck out and replaced with a handwritten ‘She’.

    A history of the College brought out by it in 1991 curiously states that the first women students were only two and one got her degree in Electrical Engineering, the other in Civil. Shantha Mohan provides me a wealth of detail about the Electrical Engineering student, Lalitha, so it must be presumed that the other two she mentions did Civil Engineering.

    Lalitha, married at 15, was 18 when she had her daughter. A few months later, in 1937, her husband passed away. Determined not to stay at home and mourn or to remarry, she decided to take up a professional course. Lalitha applied to CEG in 1939, an all-male institution at the time.

    It was her good fortune that her father, Pappu Subba Rao, was Professor of Electrical Engineering there and he persuaded Principal KC Chacko (the first Principal with a Doctorate) and Director of Public Instruction RM Statham, who was all for women’s education (Miscellany, August 24, 2015) that it was time the College admitted women students — and Lalitha became CEG’s first woman student, a widow and a mother at that. With the gates opened, Thresia and Leelamma followed her in. Lalitha stayed on a year after they left to get her Honours degree.

    firstwomanengineer02CF20jun2017

    After a stint with the Central Standards Organisation in Simla, Lalitha spent a few years with her father, helping him with his research. He patented a Jelectromonium (an electrical musical instrument), smokeless ovens and an electric flame producer. But the need to make a living on her own beckoned, and she joined Associated Electrical Industries, a British firm.

    She then began designing transmission lines, doing substation layouts and executing contracts. She was noteworthily associated with the work on electrical generators for the Bhakra Nangal Dam.

    After 30 years with AEL, including the time after it had been taken over by General Electric, Lalitha retired, much of the last years of her working life focused on supervising contract projects. She was the only woman engineer from India to attend the First International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists which was held in New York in 1964. Thereafter, she was active in international women’s engineering organisations internationally till she passed away in 1979.

    She had once said, “Electrical Engineering runs in my blood. My father, four brothers, nephew and son-in-law are all Electrical Engineers.”

    Shantha Mohan adds a request to all this information: “If you have information about women engineers from CEG from the 1940s to the 1960s, please let me know at shantha.rm@gmail.com.”

    The Philippines connection

    Many moons ago, on December 22, 2014, I had written about Tambaram railwayman Noel Fuller’s search for roots. At that time he had discovered that his great grandfather, Albert James Fuller of Madurai, had married Ellen Matilda Narcis, really a Narcisonian and an Armenian. Her line Noel traced back to Coja Sultan David who arrived in Madras from Isfahan in Persia around the 1720s.

    Coja Sultan David became a leader of the Armenian community in Madras and his son, Aga Shawmier Sultan, was the owner of that ‘Great House in Charles Street’ in the Fort known as Admiralty, or Clive House. Noel’s search for his Armenian ancestors’ tombstones led him to that of the wife of Coja Sultan David which he found on St Thomas’ Mount. The Aga Shawmier Sultans, husband and wife, are buried in the yard of the Armenian Church in Madras, a church raised on the site of the Shawmier chapel which the family gifted to the community. All Noel could discover at that time was that Coja Sultan David had died in Pondicherry in 1754 and had converted to Roman Catholicism just before he passed away so that he could be buried in consecrated ground, the Armenians having no church of their own in Pondicherry.

    Pondicherry yielded him no tombstones, but the information that after the English had taken the city in 1761 they had ravaged it, reducing even tombstones to rubble. The story then goes that in 1765, when the East Indiaman Earl Temple was to sail for Manila, it needed ballast and the rubble of Pondicherry was loaded on it. In the South China Sea, the ship hit a reef and sank. Salvagers in 1997 found in it, intact, the 1,335 kilogram tombstone of Coja Sultan David. There’s a missing link here, but the tombstone, its engraving still clear, is now in the Philippines, an exhibit in the Manila Museum.

    Wrong again

    My computer help once again sent out the wrong picture and, so, last week we had, with Subedar Subramanian, Brigadier K Sampath, one of the speakers, instead of the Subedar’s son Durailingam as mentioned. My apologies to Brig Sampath and Durailingam.

    The chronicler of Madras that is Chennai tells stories of people, places, and events from the years gone by, and sometimes, from today.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Madras Miscellany> Society / by S. Muthiah / June 19th, 2017

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    Tuticorin  :

    The 106th death anniversary of freedom fighter R Vanchinathan was observed at several places, including Vanchi Maniyachchi Maniyachchi Junction railway station and Kovilpatti in Tuticorin  district, on Saturday.

    The participants demanded the government to set up a memorial for Vanchinathan at Vanchi railway junction and also urged the rail department to erect Vanchi’s statue at the junction. It was at Vanchi Maniyachi junction where Vanchinathan shot dead the British government – appointed – Tirunelveli collector Robert William D’ Escourt Ashe dead, before killing himself on June 17, 1911.

    Tuticorin collector N Venkatesh garlanded the photo of Vanchinathan at the railway station and paid homages to it. In his speech, the collector recalled the history of the freedom fighter Vanchi. Vanchi was born to forest officer Regupathi Iyer and Rukmaniammal at Sengottai in Tirunelveli. He joined the freedom movement after hearing public speeches of veteran freedom fighters V O Chidambaram and Subramania Siva, said the collector, while asking students to involve themselves in public life.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Chennai News / June 18th, 2017

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    Dharshana (PTI Photo)

    Dharshana (PTI Photo)

    Krishnagiri :

    The nation was busy celebrating toppers who scored over 99 per cent in the CBSE Class XII exams, and Dharshana’s journey to scoring 96.6 per cent got less attention than it deserved. But her story is worth telling, for she overcame a different set of challenges on her way to success.

    A student of Nalanda International Public Sc­­h­o­ol in Krishnagiri, Dharshana, who has only parti­al vision, came third in the persons-with-disabilities cate­g­ory of CBSE exams, scoring 483 marks out of 500. Dharshana has no vision in her left eye and partial v­ision in the right. “She worked really hard right, but we did not ex­pect her to grab the third position,” says her father R Mohan, a businessman. “Her hard work to­ok her to this position. Dhars­h­ana wrote the exam herself, wi­th additional time of one ho­ur.”

    Parents of children with disabilities should spend more time with them, says Mohan. His wife Vijayalaskhmi is a stay-at-home mother and Dharshana is the second of their two daughters. “They expect this because they do not have many friends. So parents have to step up and spend time with them, be their friends, their guide… and they definitely will achieve their goals.”

    “I want to become an entrepreneur,” says Dharshana, thanking her parents, friends and teachers who were happy to hear about her achievement. “I want to study BCom. My father is a businessman and so I naturally like business,” she says.

    How the students fared
    Overall Pass Percentage
    2016: 83.05%
    2017: 82.02%

    Region-wise pass percentage
    95.62% Trivandrum
    92.6% Chennai
    88.37% Delhi

    Gender-wise pass percentage
    87.5% -Girls

    78% – Boys

    63,247 students scored above 90%
    10,091 students scored above 95%

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by M. Sabari / Express News Service / May 29th, 2017

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    AncestorCF12may2017

    Several visitors from abroad come every year looking for ancestors — something, meaning lineages, few Indians are interested in. I can only suggest to them the Archives or this church or that cemetery. But, what is a constant surprise is how much information they already have. And, providing an example were my latest visitors, Norman and Gwen Rider from the UK. They were looking for information about Charles Robert MacGregor Ferguson (1847-1920), the second great-grandfather of Gwen. This is what they’d already found:

    Charles Ferguson was the son of Private James Ferguson, 15th Hussars, and Harriet (Chinnema) Chinamal. They had married in Bangalore where Charles Ferguson was born and baptised. James Ferguson died there in 1849. Harriet Chinamal died in Madras in 1903 and was buried in St Andrew’s Kirk. Tracing her family is one of the Riders’ least-likely-to-succeed quests.

    The other quest is trying to trace Charles Ferguson’s career. He married Anne Elizabeth Ward in St Matthias’ Church, Vepery, in 1868. She died in Coonoor in 1878 after bearing him three children. He then married Alice Emmeline D’Abreu and had two daughters before she died the same year he did, when she was 64. Details about his career are scanty, also occasionally fanciful as in: “1861 — Lucknow. Government Survey Department, Post and Telegraph Department and became Postmaster General in Lucknow until 1902 and received a Government pension till the day of his death in 1920.” Joining service at 14? It was possible in those days for Anglo-Indian boys who’d learn on the job. But, Postmaster General sounds like gilding the lily. He was ‘Telegraph master’ in Pudupet in 1868, then, judging by family births and deaths (all listed), in Coonoor, Lucknow and Chittagong.

    The note on Charles’ retirement reads: “Government pension Yelagiri Hills area of South India. Joined a group of Scots families who farmed at Sunnybanks and Bethany where they were self-sufficient growing crops and keeping animals.” He died in Salem and was buried there. Norman Rider added that it was recorded that on his father’s death Charles was left in the care of his godmother, Maria Sandway, in Bangalore in 1849 and that, it was believed, sometime thereafter, that the boy was placed in the Madras Male Orphans’ Asylum (from which St George’s, Shenoy Nagar, grew).

    That’s quite a compilation from church and cemetery records and the British Library’s India: Select Births and Baptisms, 1786-1947 and India: Select Deaths and Burials 1719-1948. Even ‘select’, those must be quite some compendiums. But, for all that, the Riders still wonder whether there are Post and Telegraph and St George’s records to help them.

    The Riders are only a couple of the hundreds of persons from the UK and elsewhere who come in search of roots. With all the modern technology available, can’t some kind of network be established to help these searchers?

    A dance doyenne remembered…

    Kalakshetra and Nrithyodaya recently remembered someone who had made Bharatanatyam a significant part of the Singapore cultural scene for which she was awarded that country’s highest honour for artists, The Cultural Medallion, and was selected for its Women’s Hall of Fame. The remembrance was the passing away of that dance ambassador, 79-year-old Neila Sathyalingam, in Singapore, recently.

    ‘Neila Maami’, to all her students, did post-graduation and, later, taught, at Kalakshetra. She and husband S Sathyalingam, a talented mridangist, an alumni, and a teacher there, moved to Singapore in 1974 with his job and founded Apsaras Arts in 1977. Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music flourished in Singapore as Apsaras grew. That growth included Rukmini Devi-style dance dramas, Kannagi and Sivagami, her last, two memorable ones.

    Ancestor2CF12may2017

    The wedding of Suntharalingam Sathyalingam and Neila Balendra linked two of Colombo’s leading Jaffna Tamil families. Sathyalingam and I grew up together as neighbours, but none of that family’s love of music and dance rubbed off on me. Instead, I learnt about politics and ethnicity at the knee of that maverick Ceylonese politician, his father C Suntharalingam, a mathematics Tripos, too, who first used the word ‘Eelam’ in Parliament. None of his family was as committed to politics.

    …. and a young hero too

    The ambush of CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh reminded me of a 60-year old action that Capt D P Ramachandran of the Colours of Glory Foundation narrated to me in great detail a while ago. In the 1956 ambush, a 30-plus patrol of the Sikh Light Infantry found itself surrounded by 500 Naga insurgents. Second Lieutenant Polur Muthuswamy Raman of North Arcot District had the choice to surrender or suicidally fight it out. The 21-year-old chose the latter. Four hours later, during which Raman was twice wounded, there was relief. Another patrol of Sikhs at a higher elevation, spotting their colleagues pinned down, fought their way downhill to join them. The link-up broke the insurgents, but Raman and Major Mehta Singh, who had led the other detachment, lost their lives.

    Mehta Singh received the Kirti Chakra, the second highest gallantry award for counter-insurgency action. Raman got the highest award, the Ashok Chakra. Proudly, almost six decades after its alumnus had laid down his life in Nagaland, the National Defence Academy named a new academic building the ‘Raman Block’.

    The chronicler of Madras that is Chennai tells stories of people, places and events from the years gone by and, sometimes, from today.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> Madras Miscellany – History & Culture / by S. Muthiah / May 08th, 2017

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    The 65-year-old former STF chief does push-ups on the Marina in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: Dinesh Krishnan

    The 65-year-old former STF chief does push-ups on the Marina in Chennai. | Photo Credit: Dinesh Krishnan

    But the country’s most famous bandit-catcher still can’t get his wife to read his book

    This is not in his book but Veerappan, India’s most notorious bandit, had K. Vijay Kumar, India’s most famous bandit-catcher, who had been on his trail for most of his uniformed life, in his sights on three occasions. Not more than 500 yards away. All Veerappan had to do was squeeze the trigger, and with even a standard issue .303, which can take a target down at 500 metres, Vijay Kumar may not have got to write a book about how he killed the bandit.

    Veerappan was a good marksman, Vijay Kumar says at the Police Club in Egmore, Chennai, where he is hours away from launching his book, Veerappan, Chasing the Brigand. At the back of the Police Club, where he stays in Room 108 every time he visits the city, stretches a lawn that now has shamianas erected to serve, as he puts it, “high tea” to the 300 people he expects in the evening. Many of them will be gun-toting buddies from his Veerappan days. The dais is green like the backdrop, which has hills painted over it; in the foreground are male mannequins wearing camouflage combat fatigues and pith hats with leaves sticking out of them.

    As he walks me through the programme for the evening, I can’t help mentally picturing one heavily moustachioed policeman chasing another excessively moustachioed brigand—is this quaintly archaic term the right word for someone who killed 124 people?—through 1,200 square kilometres of forests in three States over several years, each taking turns to scope the other through the business end of a gun. The forensic specialist told Vijay Kumar that Veerappan at 52 had the body of a 25-year-old. At 65, the cop looks just as fit.

    Vijay Kumar was lucky he lived to tell the tale, unlike some other policemen. He is not superstitious, just lucky. His lucky charm is about as big as an old 25 paisa coin, maybe a little bigger, with the image of the Hindu god, Ayyappa, whose temple he has been visiting from the time he was in college studying Shakespeare, Milton and Thomas Hardy. He pulls it out of his black wallet and shows it to me. He has carried this charm around for as long as he can remember. He got this particular one after he lost a similar one 10 years ago. There have been times when the wallet had no money, but the charm would always be comfortingly there.

    Roughly how many times has he visited Sabarimala, I ask. “More than 35 times,” he says unhesitatingly, “maybe 40”. Sometimes he goes twice a year. And does he follow all the procedures? Ayyappa demands a stringent pre-visit regimen. “Yes,” says Kumar. “So you didn’t have a drink to celebrate the night you finally killed Veerappan?” “No,” he says, “I am fairly abstemious. I had a drink much later, maybe two months later. At that time, I was going to Sabarimala.” I consider his response and say, “That certainly qualifies you for sainthood.” He laughs uproariously and shoots it down, “No, hardly!”

    Ultimately, when Vijay Kumar closed the file on Veerappan on Monday, October 18, 2004, at 11.10 pm, he did so without exchanging a single word with the bandit who died under the impression that the policeman who kept chasing him was related to MGR’s nephew, a rumour then floating around.

    The mission

    By the count of ballistics experts, in the encounter that began at 10.50 pm and lasted some 20 minutes, 24 policemen fired 338 bullets on the vehicle that carried Veerappan and three members of his gang after they had been lured into the kill area, out of the forest and on to the road at Padi, 12 km from Dharmapuri. Only three bullets found the bandit. Of the three, one went clean through the left eye. Veerappan’s moustache, which spread like a tarantula sitting on his face, remained untouched.

    I ask Vijay Kumar why so few bullets found the mark. He says that Veerappan might have been hit early on in the ambush and fallen down even as the other bullets slammed all around him. He should have been killed instantly but he wasn’t. Veerappan was still dying when the policemen yanked open the vehicle door. It was the only face-to-face moment between the two foes. No words were exchanged. No words could be. Veerappan was on the verge of death, his remaining eye already losing focus.

    Was there anything he would have told Veerappan had he had the opportunity? It is not exactly superstition, but as long as Veerappan was his target Vijay Kumar had always kept a picture of the bandit at hand to remind him of his mission. He now tells me that he would have told Veerappan that it would be a relief to finally throw away the picture; over the years, it had weighed heavier and heavier, like an albatross.

    Being a cop

    What was easier, I ask. Killing Veerappan? Or writing a book about it? “Both were equally formidable missions,” Vijay Kumar says, laughing. In fact, the joke in his “immediate circle” of friends is that he took almost as long writing about Veerappan as he took to hunt him down. Vijay Kumar had a version of the book ready two years after the mission, but it then became a protracted struggle. Maybe, he told himself, he was too busy for the book. He says, “You know that Wordsworthian quote? The one about the parent hen? I guess in my case the egg took too long.”

    My Wordsworth is rusty, but the picture is vivid. As vivid as the frustration that comes through in the book when the reward on Veerappan’s head touches Rs. 5 crore and yet no one comes forward with information. Picture this:

    Police officer: You will get five crore if you can help us catch Veerappan.

    Villager: Five crore? How much is that in goats?

    Police officer: If one goat costs Rs. 2,500, that would be 20,000 goats.

    Villager: What would I do with so many goats? They will be unmanageable. It’s better to hold on to my life.

    I ask Vijay Kumar if there is anything he put into the book but took out later because he thought better of it. He thinks, then tells me how one night after eating poha, his stomach started rumbling at one in the morning. When he could bear it no longer, he rushed over and shook his buddy awake and both set out. In the jungle, they always followed the buddy system: each had to look out for the other. The buddy kept watch while Vijay Kumar went to answer the call of nature. After he’d squatted, he realised that the spot he’d picked had elephant dung everywhere. It was too late to go elsewhere and he hoped it would be okay. But almost immediately he heard his buddy hissing insistently, “Aiyaaa! Aiyaa! Yaanai! Yaanai!” (Sir, elephant!) He knew if it was a single elephant, he would be done for, but then, barely a few feet ahead, out of the inky black night, several elephant forms began to emerge like dark mountains on the move.

    I probe no further, but I realise the episode had a happy ending because it isn’t in the book.

    I ask instead: what does your wife Meena think about your book? He begins to smile. “She hasn’t read it,” he says. He intends to try other means to get her to read it but he isn’t sure he will succeed. She usually can’t get beyond five pages, he says. “If she does finally read your book,” I ask, “will you go to to Sabarimala?” He laughs uproariously again. “Of course, I’ll be happy to go again to Sabarimala but I doubt whether even Lord Ayyappa can make Meena read my book.”

    sudarshan.v@thehindu.co.in

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society / by V. Sudarshan / February 25th, 2017

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