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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    Left Manoj Kumar, director, Department of Technical Training & Education (DTTE), center Harsha Prabakaran, right Sumir Kumar Jha

    Left Manoj Kumar, director, Department of Technical Training & Education (DTTE), center Harsha Prabakaran, right Sumir Kumar Jha

    Chennai :

    Chennai-based student Harsha Prabakaran has got an opportunity to represent India in the electronics category at Worldskills 2017, more popularly known as “Skill Olympics .”

    Worldskills 2017 will take place in Abu Dhabi in October. It will see participation from over 77 countries across the globe in 50 different skills.

    The runner-up in the selection is Sumir Kumar Jha from Delhi.

    Prabakaran is an electronics engineer from the Chennai Institute Of Technology.

    The four-day pre-selection for the championship was organised by Electronics Sector Skill Council of India (ESSCI), Emtech Foundation and Delhi Technological University, New Delhi.

    The two contenders had to prove their mettle over a 17-hour task, which included schematic design, PCB design, embedded system programming, fault finding, repair and measurement.

    The ceremony for felicitating the winners saw participation of Manoj Kumar, director, Department of Technical Training & Education (DTTE) , S K Garg, pro-vice Chancellor, DTU, N K Mohapatra, CEO-ESSCI, Yogender Pal Singh, electronics expert and Naveen Kumar, technical consultant, ESSCI.

    Before the final event, Prabhakaran will undergo training at international electronics manufacturing firms to meet Skill Olympics’ standards

    Prabhakaran will meet PM Narendera Modi on July 15 before the final event.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City News> Chennai News / by Rachel Chitra / TNN / July 04th, 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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    In the past few weeks — as well as at a celebration — we’ve heard much about the splendid growth of the Chemplast Sanmar Group from scratch 50 years ago and of how over those years it had nurtured and then been nurtured by N Sankar, whose first job, unpaid apprentice, was on the day Chemicals and Plastics India opened its doors. To me, the happiest part of that success has been how the Group has returned much back to society, promoting education and training, community welfare and healthcare, greening and nature, sport and art, and even saving failing journals like Madras Musings. But one thing I missed in all this was the seeding of the group.

    (Clockwise) KS Narayanan (extreme left) and TS Narayanaswami (extreme right) at the Indo-Commercial Bank’s Vizianagaram branch in 1938

    (Clockwise) KS Narayanan (extreme left) and TS Narayanaswami (extreme right) at the Indo-Commercial Bank’s Vizianagaram branch in 1938

    Those seeds were first sown in the back of beyond, in the village of Kallidaikurichi in Tinnevelly District when Nanu Sastrigal entered textile retailing, then moved into financing. His eldest son SNN Sankaralingam Iyer took the business further and with landowners in Tanjore helped found the Indo-Commercial Bank in Mayavaram in 1932. SNN’s eldest son KS Narayanan (KSN) joined the bank in 1936, gaining experience while moving from branch to branch. He also became a close friend of TS Narayanaswami (TSN), who was with the bank. The two enjoyed a warm working relationship till Narayanaswami passed away in 1968. By then, they had moved beyond banking.

    In fact, KSN moved earlier. In the late 1930s, he was Madras-bound to shepherd a failing ink manufacturing unit, Nanco, that had been acquired. By 1941, it was a success. With a War on, he next turned to a commodity in short supply, rubber, acquiring a re-treading unit in Coimbatore. There followed the first foray into chemicals, a sick unit there making calcium carbide, Industrial Chemicals, being taken over.

    Meanwhile, SNN who had bought substantial acreage in Tinnevelly to farm, found it was limestone-rich. His thoughts turned to cement. And so was born India Cements in 1949, with Narayanaswami helping SNN set it up while KSN went to Denmark to train with cement major FL Smidth. At a time when India was yet to industrialise, this was a major venture. When TSN died, KSN headed India Cements till retiring at 60, in 1980.

    Why KSN and TSN decided to get into chemical products we’ll never know, but in 1962 they thought of manufacturing PVC. TSN went to the US and negotiated a joint venture agreement with BF Goodrich, a PVC major. Agreement led to starting Chemicals and Plastics India Ltd in Mettur, near Mettur Chemicals which would supply the necessary chlorine. The plant went on stream on May 4, 1967, the date the Golden Jubilee celebrations recalled. This was one of the first Indo-American joint ventures, also among the first with a multinational in South India. The story only grows from thereon.

    *****

    The death of a trainer

    Few knew him outside the two worlds he’ll sorely be missed in, those of printers and Salesians. They merged for Bro Julian Santi, who passed away recently, in the Salesian Institute of Graphic Arts he set up in Kilpauk in the late 1960s with help from friends and Salesians in Italy from where he arrived in 1957.

    We first met years later and, even after, it was infrequently, but for over 40 years I would meet ex-students of his. And they were generally a class apart. Most of us printers, and several abroad, preferred them when recruiting, because they came with two advantages: More machine experience than those from other printing schools, and they considered themselves craftsmen, not ready-made white collar supervisors, which many from elsewhere thought they should be because they’d got a few letters as suffixes. Training on the job and a strong work ethic, that a printer had to be a hands-on person, not necessarily a whiz in theory, was what Santi taught his wards. Few of our training institutions look at students that way.

    Was Santi a printer himself, was he SIGA’s Principal, I never discovered, but I did find out he was a trainer par excellence, a man who taught his wards the dignity of working with their hands. I hope he has rooted that culture deep in SIGA.

    *****

    When the postman knocked…

    Several items over the last six weeks have brought much mail and, happily, several noteworthy pictures. They’ll appear over the following weeks, one at a time, starting today to supplement the earliest, Marmalong Bridge.

    The Marmalong Bridge seen c.1900

    The Marmalong Bridge seen c.1900

    DH Rao for whom bridges, lighthouses and the Buckingham Canal are passions, sent me today’s picture. Rao had seen it at a Corporation of Madras exhibition where it was dated to 1900. Its caption added, “In 1966 it was dismantled and replaced with today’s bridge.” The caption also said that a plaque was removed and re-positioned at the bridge’s north end. That plaque, recalling Uscan’s contribution, is little cared for today and is almost hidden by road-raising.

    Rao adds he came across the following, written in 1829, by a French naval officer, J Dumont D’Urville: “An entire neighbourhood is reserved for Muslims and we go there by the Armenian bridge (Saidapet?) built on the river Mylapore. This bridge 395 metres in length (has) 29 arches of various sizes.”

    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 / by S. Muthiah / May 15th, 2017

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    Palm leaf manuscript. | Photo Credit: Handout

    Palm leaf manuscript. | Photo Credit: Handout

    Palm leaf manuscripts reveal a history of slavery in Nanjil Nadu, now part of Kanniyakumari district

    “The severe drought has left us with nothing, not even gruel. Our legs and calf muscles have become swollen and we are not able to walk. So as suggested by the head of our family, we sold ourselves to Raman Iyappan.”

    A 1459 palm leaf manuscript faithfully records the grim story of a Kerala Samban magan, Avayan, his nephew Thadiyan and his sister Nalli, in the note prepared for their sale as slaves.

    The lush green fields of Nanjil Nadu, the rice bowl of erstwhile South Travancore and now part of Kanniyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, hide a history that cut across the social spectrum. Slavery was common in the region as recently as 200 years ago.

    Interestingly, while members of the Vellalas, a land holding community that wielded enormous influence during the reign of the Travancore kings, were sold as slaves, Dalits, who were also often sold as slaves, also owned land.

    A collection of 19 palm leaf manuscripts, part of the so-called Mudaliar Olaigal, reveals details of the practice. Written in Tamil script, the language of the manuscripts is mixture of Malayalam and Tamil, reflecting the composite culture of the region.

    “A manuscript recorded in 1601 that records the sale of land by two Dalits — Avaiathan and Konathan, who belong to the Pallar community — proves the claim that Dalits also owned lands,” said folklorist A.K. Perumal, who has translated and edited Mudaliar Olaigal, published by Kalachuvadu.

    The term ‘Mudaliar’ refers to the head of the family in Azhagiyapandiapuram in Kanniyakumari district. The community of Saiva Vellalas were conferred the title ‘Mudaliar’ by the Travancore kings and they ruled Nanjil Nadu on behalf of the kings.

    Late poet Kavimani Desigavinayagam Pillai copied a few manuscripts in 1903. In addition to records on slave auctions, they contain a wealth of detail on the revenue system, maintenance of irrigation tanks and rivers and professions of many communities.

    Chronicling a reality very different from the present, the manuscripts speak of wealthy Dalits.

    A manuscript from 1462 says one Sundarapandian Chetti borrowed four ‘kaliyuga Raman panam’ (money used in that period), from one Kesavan of ‘sambavar’ caste, a sub-sect of Dalits. A 1484 manuscript, when referring to the border of a piece of land, says it lies “south of [the property of] Perumparaian”, a big land owner from the community.

    Women punished

    “But in the case of Vellalas, the women sold as slaves were used as maids in their owners’ houses. Only a Vellala was allowed to own another member of his community as a slave and this was openly announced before the commencement of an auction,” said Dr. Perumal.

    The women slaves from the Vellalas were known as ‘Vellatti’. According to the Madras University Lexicon, ‘Vellati’ means a servant maid or slave.

    “Slaves from the upper caste were clearly differentiated from Dalit slaves. Vellattis were used for the housekeeping,” explains said Dr. Perumal, who collected the manuscripts from the Thiruvananthapuram archives.

    Women from upper castes were often sold as slaves after they were found to have had relationships with men from lower castes.

    Dr. Perumal said slave markets existed in Aloor ( present day Kalkulam taluk), Aralvaimozhi, Thazhakudi (Thovalam taluk) and Rajakkamangalam (Agastheeswaram taluk).

    K.K. Kusuman, who has studied the history of slavery in Travancore, had recorded that the price of a slave depended on the social hierarchy.

    The manuscripts contain records of the prices fixed for slaves. In the records, the caste of a slave is used as a prefix unlike the modern day practice in which a caste title is used as a suffix.

    Dr. Perumal said poverty was the reason for slavery.

    A 1458 manuscript records a slave as saying: “We sold ourselves because of poverty.” Another one, recorded in 1472, records the poignant story of a man pledging himself and his daughter as he was unable to repay a loan and interest due on it. Subsequently he is recorded as having become a permanent slave.

    Slavery was abolished in Travancore on July 18, 1853 by a declaration made by the King Uthiram Thirunal.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Tamil Nadu / by B. Kolappan / Chennai – May 08th, 2017

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    PadmaCF03may2017

    Chennai :

    Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Tuesday presented Avvaiyar award for 2017 to Padma Venkataraman, chairperson, Women’s Indian Association (WIA) and daughter of former President R Venkataraman.

    The award which has been instituted to encourage women excel in social reforms, women’s development, communal harmony, arts, science, culture, journalism and administration, carries `1 lakh, a gold medal and a citation. She was chosen for the award in appreciation of her services to rehabilitation of the leprosy-affected for over 30 years.

    Thanking the Chief Minister, Padma Venkatraman recalled the services of WIA to the leprosy-affected and its work with the State government covering all 10 government-run homes, colonies and the community-based people.

    She said the award would strengthen WIA’s resolve to service society further.

    She lived for many years in Vienna, Austria, where she was, among other positions she held, a permanent representative of All India Women’s Conference to the UN, member of several non-profit panels accredited to the UN, such as Committee on Narcotics and  Committee on Disabled. She was also vice-president of a non-profit organisation, Committee on Women and president, United Nations Women’s Guild.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Express News Service / May 03rd, 2017

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    That was a question I was recently asked in connection with a reference I had made to Umda Bagh and its links with education in the city for nearly 125 years. Good question, and off I went ahunting for information.

    Into the Umda Bagh campus moved c.1895 the Madrasa-I-Azam, the chief Muslim school in the South and which was established in 1849. This developed partially into a Government Muhammadan College with its own buildings in 1934.

    In 1948, the College was reconstituted as the Government Arts College for Men. The College moved to Nandanam in 1972 and a women’s college opened in its stead in 1974. This was named the Quaid-E-Millat Government College for Women, leaving many a student puzzling over the prefixed name, which I’m told means ‘Leader of the Nation’.

    A Tirunelveli Rowther, Mohammed Ismail went into business in the 1920s and became a leader in the worlds of leather and Madras commerce. That leadership led him into politics, in which he had shown interest from when, as a 13-year-old, he started in 1909 the Young Muslim Society in Tirunelveli.

    Nine years later, he founded the Council of Islamic Scholars and joined the Indian Muslim League. In 1946, he led the League’s Madras unit in the Assembly elections and became Leader of the Opposition. He was also elected to the first Lok Sabha, which simultaneously served as the Indian Constituent Assembly. And, an intriguing election that year was as the founding President of the Madras State Mutton Dealers’ Association, which he remained till his death 26 years later.

    When Pakistan was born in 1947, the Muslim League divided and an Indian Union Muslim League came into being. Mohammed Ismail was elected its first President. After serving in the Rajya Sabha from 1952 to 1958, he moved into Kerala politics with States’ Reorganisation in 1956. Leading the IUML, he won Lok Sabha seats in 1962, 1967 and 1971. He died a year after his last election, revered in both Tamil Nadu and Kerala as the Quaid-E-Millat, a leader who ensured communal harmony. Interestingly, his education had been in Hindu, Catholic and Protestant schools and colleges!

    Perhaps the greatest tribute paid to him was by Congress Chief Minister M Bhaktavatsalam who, describing his dignified and conciliatory behaviour in the Legislature, said he was “a model for all Opposition leaders”.

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    When the postman knocked…

    V Mahalingam writes (Miscellany, April 17): “N Kannayiram went to the West Indies as a replacement for G Kasturirangan of Mysore who cried off because of groin injury and not as replacement for CD Gopinath.

    Also CDG didn’t opt out as he was not happy with the cricket board’s ways. He pulled out as he was suffering from collar bone injuries and he was replaced by L Adisesh of Mysore who also pulled out. Totally there were four replacements before the tour.”

    With this column’s word length now abbreviated, I don’t have the luxury of elaboration. But even then, there was no reason to link two entirely different sentences about Kannayiram and Gopinath except for the fact that they were adjacent to each other. Juxtaposition is not the equivalent of replacement! More interesting is my correspondent saying it was “collarbone injuries” that made Gopinath skip the tour.

    Reporting a long interview with Gopinath for the book Office Chai, Planter’s Brew — Gopinath approving every word of the final text — this writer stated: “(In 1952) Gopinath, being South Indian, was ‘rather strangely called Madrasi in a rather contemptuous way’ by other members of the team. This was an era when cricket essentially meant Bombay — and in Gopinath’s words, ‘…it was almost as if, if you came from Madras, you had no business to play cricket…’ He goes on that around then Gordon Woodroffe’s offered him a job — it was a time when the first Indians were being recruited by British firms — and he was mulling over it because he felt the remuneration was inadequate given his academic and sporting record.

    But his father, an old Imperial Bank hand, pointed out he’d get fair treatment in a British firm and could go far (he did; he became its first Indian Chairman). The interview then records, “Musing on the advice and his issues with (Indian) cricket, Gopinath decided to refuse the West Indian tour.” No mention of collar bone injuries anywhere.

    Subash Chandra Bose at the Tea hosted for him at the Beehive Foundry, Madras on September 3,1939. To his right is K S Rao, owner of the Beehive Group, and third from right (seated) a mystery man only recently identified by the owner of this picture. Standing is C. Audikesavalu Chettiar, Rao’s partner.

    Subash Chandra Bose at the Tea hosted for him at the Beehive Foundry, Madras on September 3,1939. To his right is K S Rao, owner of the Beehive Group, and third from right (seated) a mystery man only recently identified by the owner of this picture. Standing is C. Audikesavalu Chettiar, Rao’s partner.

    Ramesh Kumar, who’s kept the Beehive Foundry name going in its original Oakes & Co. premises on Popham’s Broadway (Miscellany, June 2, 2014), now Prakasam Salai, sends me today’s picture of yesteryear. It’s of Subhas Chandra Bose being hosted at tea at the Beehive premises on September 3, 1939. With him are Kowtha Suryanarayana Rao, the founder of the group that owns the premises, and his partner C Audikesavalu Chettiar, Ramesh Kumar’s grandfather. To Rao’s right is a person whom I wonder how many recognise, despite his being a well-known name in Tamil Nadu. He is Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar.

    Rao founded the Swadharma Swaarajya Sangh (Orthodox National League) in 1913 for the “revival of the declining spiritual and cultural values of Bharateeya life, dharma and religion”, I wonder how much Bose or Thevar had in common with it? I also wonder, given the date of the felicitation, whether Bose fled to Germany from Madras; that was the day India was dragged into a World War.

    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> History & Culture / Madras Miscellany / by S. Muthiah / May 01st, 2017

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    The sensors are placed on the segments of each finger.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

    The sensors are placed on the segments of each finger. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

    15 sensors that help gather data on kinematics or hand motion

    A data glove, which measures the individual joint angles of all the five fingers to understand the activity of daily living, developed by Nayan Bhatt, Research Scholar from the Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, recently won the Budding Innovators Award given by the Delhi-based National Research Development Corporation (NRDC). Mr. Bhatt has been working on developing models for studying finger kinematics for the past three years.

    The data glove has 15 sensors (plus an additional reference sensor) that help in gathering information about kinematics or hand motion. The sensors are placed on the segments of a finger — each finger has three segments and the junction between two segments forms a joint. Each sensor is connected to a microcontroller board using a flexible wire to collect data.

    “The sensors measure the joint angles through the change in orientation information. We are interested in gathering information about motion of the fingers excluding the wrist,” said Mr. Bhatt. “In the case of people with Parkinson’s disease, the data glove will provide information about hand kinematics and help clinicians assess the severity of disease. It will complement the traditionally used Universal Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale.”

    Avoiding deformation

    The development may find application in animation and other industries.

    Unlike in the case of the conventional data glove, the sensors are placed directly on each segment of the finger to avoid any deformation. “We placed the sensors directly on the segments of fingers as the use of cloth like in a traditional data glove can hinder natural movements and also cause slippage or deformation,” he said.

    Efforts are on to reduce the number of sensors used. “We will first use all the 15 sensors to perform some training postures, which will then be used for developing an algorithm that will reduce the number of sensors used. Currently, with the machine learning algorithm developed by Mr. Bhatt we can use as few as eight sensors. We want to reduce it to six,” said Dr. Varadhan S.K.M. from the Biomedical Engineering Division of the Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras.

    “We are using the prototype to develop products for speech-related disability,” Dr. Varadhan said. “By using specific movements of a finger for specific words, the data glove can help speech-disabled people to communicate. We can use a speech synthesiser and speaker to generate sound.” Work has to be done to first map specific words to specific movements of the finger.

    21 angles

    One finger can move in different directions. So the total number of joint angles is about 21. Sensors have been used to sense all the 21 angles. “Ten predicted angles have large errors of more than two degree, and the remaining angles have less than 2 degree error. The average is five degrees. In a few months, with advanced algorithms, we might be able to reduce the average prediction error to two-three degrees,” Dr. Varadhan said.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Technology / by R. Prasad / Chennai – April 26th, 2017

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    At the cattle shed in P. Chellandipalayam, Karur district. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

    At the cattle shed in P. Chellandipalayam, Karur district. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

    Meet the man who has devoted his life to saving some of those now-famous native cattle breeds in his farm in the heart of Tamil Nadu.

    A dappled calf saunters up. I offer it my hand. It nuzzles and then proceeds to lick it. Another joins it, and yet another. I am enjoying the attention — until a sudden tug distracts me. A tiny mouth has just begun nibbling the tassels of my cotton dupatta. I beat a hasty retreat, almost landing ankle-deep in a mound of steaming dung.

    Ganesan laughs and pats the head of the calf that has just tried to eat up my dupatta. “This calf belongs to the Gir breed,” he says, drawing my attention to the convex forehead and pendulous ears distinctive to the breed whose origins lie, as the name suggests, in the Gir forest region of Gujarat.

    C. Ganesan is a slender, bespectacled man, wearing a dhoti, blue shirt and ready smile. He runs what he calls an “experimental farm” in P. Chellandipalayam in Karur district of Tamil Nadu, the state that exploded with the jallikattu protests some weeks ago. Among the arguments extended by the fans of this rather cruel bull race was that native breeds of cattle could be protected through the sport. Experts spoke of how Indian cattle had vanished and of the higher nutrient content in the milk of these cows.

    Despite the argument, the truth is that most cattle raised for dairy farming in India is imported from abroad. Since these breeds are reported to yield much higher quantities of milk, they are found more suitable for commercial use.

    A Sahiwal and a Rathi calf. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

    A Sahiwal and a Rathi calf. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

    There is merit in wanting to protect the hardier native breeds from extinction, but clearly the solution lies in efforts that are far more effective, committed and enduring than jallikattu. The 69-year-old Ganesan is among a handful of cattle breeders in India making that effort.

    The road that leads to Ganesan’s farm is a kaccha, vertigo-inducing path flanked by arid, patchy coconut groves, rust-coloured rocks, and acres of barren paddy fields. Thorny scrub give way to worn fences but they offer scant protection from the marauding peacocks, complains Ganesan, “I really need to fence these fields properly,” he says with a shrug.

    Ganesan set up his farm some 13 years ago to prove that Indian breeds can give high yields of milk, more than 15 litres a day: “My cows produce copious quantities of milk and like all other local breeds have excellent immunity.” His farm has only indigenous breeds. Besides Gir, there is Sahiwal and Tharparkar (named after the Pakistani towns of their origin), a few buffaloes, the local Kangayam breed, and a few head of Thalacherry goat.

    Ganesan’s family also owns a textile business but farming is in their blood. “Agriculture is our ancestral occupation and we have been keeping cattle for a long time,” he says. Earlier, the genial farmer’s animals were Jersey cross-breeds. “The government recommends a mix of 65% Jersey with 35% native breed of cattle, but this is hard for farmers to maintain,” he explains. “Proper breeding management doesn’t happen in India.”

    Then, in 2003, he lost five Jersey cross-bred cows very suddenly, “They have poor immunity and one had to keep replacing them,” he says. That’s when he began to convert exotic cross-breeds into desi. “I purchased a few desi animals — around 10 Tharparkar cows. Also, I began inseminating my Jersey cross-bred cows with semen samples taken from pure Indian breeds.”

    At the cattle shed in P. Chellandipalayam, Karur district. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

    At the cattle shed in P. Chellandipalayam, Karur district. Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

    There are over 50 heads of pure Indian cattle on his farm now — of various colours, shapes and sizes. A newly born calf totters up as we approach while its mother fixes us with a steely gaze and lowers her horns. Pitch-black buffaloes swill down water and bellow; red and white cows stick their heads into feeding troughs; gambolling calves behind wire-netting peer curiously at us.

    “The easiest way to identify a desi breed is by the hump,” says Ganesan. And yes, all humped cattle produce milk rich in the much-touted A2 milk protein. A2 milk is excellent for children, he says, adding that it helps brain function and promotes growth. The fodder, culled from the fields around him, does not have pesticide and unlike commercial establishments he does not inject his cows with oxytocin injections to induce lactation, “My grandchildren refuse to drink any other milk or curd,” he laughs, as he leads me into his sparse office where a hot cup of tea made with freshly-drawn milk awaits.

    Milk, however, is only a by-product of Ganesan’s experiment, “This is not a commercial farm — it is only a model one,” he says, explaining that he sells his milk at the ridiculously low rate of ₹30 per litre, “It must be the lowest rate in Tamil Nadu,” he grins. But the milk reaches his customers within two hours of milking.

    What Ganesan really wants to prove is that native Indian breeds are more than capable of producing milk on a commercial scale. “The government doesn’t work at improving their milk capacity. Even breeds like Kangayam, which are not traditionally bred for milk, can produce up to six litres a day if the breeding is done properly.”

    According to him, the best sort of cattle comes from artificial insemination done right. Getting high quality semen samples can be challenging. Ganesan currently gets his frozen samples from the National Dairy Development Board. “Once we get good animals, the milk is automatically better.”

    And what role can jallikattu play in preserving desi breeds, I ask. “Those bulls are not really used for breeding — they are trained to be ferocious,” he says, and adds, “Anyway, jallikattu is not about preserving local breeds, it is about men proving themselves.”

    preeti.z@thehindu.co.in

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> History & Culture> Cattle Class / by Preeti Zachariah / February 04th, 2017

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    Laura Eastman Malcolm

    Laura Eastman Malcolm

    Chennai :

    When Laura Eastman Malcolm first saw native Indian-American beadwork, she was fascinated. Today, the self-taught designer who is known for her beadwork, uses her skills to help empower women across the world, be it Afghanistan or India. The New Yorker is now in Chennai to help widows and `women at risk’ learn skills for a livelihood.

    “I prefer to work with translucent and faceted beads.They reflect light, and with so much darkness and negativity around, so many people around the world are in need of light,” says Laura, who is now trying to shine a ray of hope into the lives of women who are being supported by Sangita Charitable Trust as part of the White Rainbow Project (WRP), a US-based non-profit organisation launched by Linda Mandrayar in 2010.

    On Friday, Laura will talk about her experience of working with women in various countries and also showcase the products made by Chennai women at `One Handed Clap’, an event to be hosted at Maal Gaadi, a store in Besant Nagar.

    WRP collects saris donated by women all over India, which are then turned by widows in Vrindavan into scarves, kimonos, and tunic tops, are then sold across the US.

    “They also make jewellery out of paper and beads,” says Mandrayar, whose tryst with India began when she married the nephew of late actor Sivaji Ganesan. Mandrayar who along with her husband made the movie `White Rainbow’ on the lives of the women in the holy city, in 2005. “After the movie, people wanted to help, so I thought of starting a centre in Vrindavan,” she says.

    Five years ago, WRP partnered with Sangita Charitable Trust, which has a widow outreach programme. “Once a month, they give rice, vitamins and sugar to around 450 women,” Mandrayar says. The NGO also works with young women from neighbouring villages. “They are women `at risk’ of becoming widows as their husbands are alcoholics or drug addicts,” says Mandrayar, who decided to tie-up with Laura. “Our motto is `Helping Women Live Better Lives’,” says Laura. In 2005, she was invited to work with women in Kabul by an NGO but five years later the project was shut down after the Taliban put an end to it. The same thing happened in Mazar-i-Sharif, where she could work with the women for only six months.

    ‘One Handed Clap’ will be held at Maal Gaadi from 6.30pm on February 24. People are also encouraged to donate saris.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Chennai News / by Priya Menon / TNN / February 24th, 2017

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