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


    Bama’s Karukku remains a trendsetter, 25 years after its publication

    Long, long ago, 25 years ago, Karukku was published in Tamil by Ideas, of Madurai, in 1992. It was not a big name in literary publishing. Nor did Bama write Karukku as a literary work.

    For her it was pages written in a notebook given by Fr. Mark to heal her wounds and the pain of her major decision to leave the convent. She was recovering from the trauma of having her utopia smashed. Never did anyone imagine that with Karukkua new voice in Tamil literature will start.

    In full bloom

    In fact, at a festival in 1993, the self-appointed ‘agmark’ literary critic Jayamohan had referred to Karukku as reportage. He still keeps spouting such comments.

    What irked Bama the more was that people in her own village felt that she had written about them in “an ugly way”.Of course, the youth of Kandampatti laboured to change that opinion by reading aloud the text to the villagers. Bama was invited to her own village and felicitated.

    In December 2017, Karukku’s 25th birthday celebrations were held in her village as a whole-day event with seminars, procession, dances and songs. Bama has mentioned in many places that it was the recognition she truly craved for and was gratified. Karukku is on the literature syllabi of many colleges and universities across the world today. Bama’s writings have also been dramatised. At 25, Karukku is in full bloom.

    It is also important to understand that Karukku is the child of Ambedkar Centenary. As Bama said in an interview, if Karukkuwere published in the 80s, it probably would not have drawn this level of attention.

    “When Karukku came out at that time, it fed that fire of social awareness,” she said. Though the works of Poomani and Imayam were already in circulation, the Tamil literary circle saw in them an extension of the social realist trend.

    It is interesting to remember here that they did not wish to be classified as Dalit writers. That is primarily because Dalit discourse had not yet been brought into literary debate by the gatekeepers of Tamil literary criticism of that time.

    Bama faced the brunt of it all. The tendency to discredit her literary potential died down only after Karukku was translated into English by Lakshmi Holmström. It got further validation with the awards that came its way and the many translations in different languages of the world.

    Karukku defied genre classification. It was not a novel. The protagonist was not named. The story did not have a linear or non-linear structure. It had the quality of an oral narrative. It was not autobiography in the traditional sense.

    It was not the story of one person. It was the story of a community. It painted the Tamil-Indian village from the perspective of the cheri, thus turning the socio-cultural geography upside down.

    For those of us fed on Janakiraman and Kalki in Tamil, for the first time, the temple was not the centre of the village, and therefore, of the discourse.

    Even progressive literary texts situated in rural Tamil Nadu hardly ever had the voices of women going about their everyday lives.

    Bama peopled her texts with persons who were proud of their labour. They laughed, cursed, fought and cried; but were never cowed down by authority. Even the direst situation elicited at least a smirk in them.

    Deceptively simple

    Autobiography was not a flourishing genre in Tamil, as in the case of Marathi Dalit writing of that time. Among women’s writing in Tamil, Karukku was followed by Azhagiya Periyanayaki Ammal’s Kavalai, a documentation of the Hindu Nadar community women in the southern districts; Muthu Meenal’s Mul narrated how she won over leprosy; Muthammal Palanisamy’s Naadu vittu Naadu documented the migrant labourer’s story. So Karukku set the trend of autobiography, especially among women writing in Tamil.

    Karukku challenged the time-worn tools of measuring aesthetic appeal. It forced a re-thinking of aesthetics, which is needed to make sense of this new, deceptively simple kind of writing.

    Even the well-meaning, liberal readers/ critics were upset that her characters spoke obscene language in public with ease.

    Again and again, Bama explained that she has captured the language of everyday life without any cosmetic facelift.

    As we celebrate Karukku’s silver jubilee, Bama continues to enrich us with her compassionate reading of people. As she always says, she presents people who come her way. If that irritates or upsets readers, N.D. Rajkumar, the powerful Dalit poet, has an answer in this poem translated by Azhagarasan:

    When readers of communities other than my own

    Read these…/ They will feel giddy, experience acute palpitation in the heart,

    And intense, painful soreness in the eyes.

    What is more, they will unlearn everything.”

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Silver Jubilee> Lit for Life / by Mangai / January 06th, 2018

  • scissors

    Tributes paid to founder Rukmini Devi Arundale

    Rich tributes were paid to Kalakshetra founder Rukmini Devi Arundale for her immeasurable contribution in giving Bharatanatyam a respectful position among the arts at an event organised here on Monday to present the Hamsadhawani R. Ramachandran Award of Excellence to Kalakshetra Foundation, Chennai.

    Mylapore MLA R. Natraj said Rukmini Devi Arundale took great efforts to chisel Bharatanatyam into a beautiful art form, retaining only what was good from its earlier version. He said she showed society that only the good will last long.

    Industrialist Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti appreciated Kalakshetra for preserving Arundale’s work and teaching dance and music to students.

    He said it was very apt that the R. Ramachandran (RRC) award was presented to such a great institution.

    Kalakshetra Foundation chairman N. Gopalaswami, who received the award along with Kalakshetra Dance College principal Pakkala Ramadas, said Arundale was a godsend to revive Bharatanatyam.

    Sabha secretary R. Sundar said RRC, founder secretary, would have turned 94 this month.

    Hamsadhwani president Ramnath Mani, secretary T.R. Gopalan and religious exponent Dushyant Sridhar were present on the occasion.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – January 02nd, 2018

  • scissors


    With Suvastra Designs, this NIFT graduate creates fashion for everyone, regardless of disability

    Meet fashion designer Shalini Visakan, a pioneer in adaptive clothing style in India.

    When big brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry launched their adaptive clothing lines in 2016, they weren’t successful, mainly because their designs were wearable for only a certain category of the differently-abled.

    The physique of each differently-abled individual differs according to their disorder and lifestyle, and Visakan understood this. She understood such requirements better, since her husband is also differently-abled. And that is how Suvastra Designs was born.

    Ergonomic designs

    She says, “We used to travel a lot, and every time he had to move, people wouldn’t know how to lift or handle him. So, I designed pants with handles to carry him along, with extra crotch length that would give space for his urinal cups, unlike normal pants. The important part is that it should also look good and formal.”

    Visakan took it forward by designing a one-piece sari for her friend’s mother, who wasn’t allowed inside a temple because she was wearing a nightie. The sari has an attached blouse, inskirt, pleats and pallu.

    She states, “My friend’s mother is very religious and had to stop visiting the temple since she couldn’t wear a sari any more. So, after looking at the clothes that I had designed for my husband, he requested me to do the same for his mother.”

    “We either meet the customer in person or ask them to send a video about themselves to understand their demands. For example, thicker fabrics such as denim are used to stitch pants for someone with polio.

    Likewise, for people with spinal cord problems, clothes are designed using materials that allow free air circulation. Velcro or elastic-attached towels are made for people who are fragile and unable to control their own body. People who are paralysed on one side of their body can use shirts with magnetic buttons and an easy-to-handle zipper,” she explains.

    Bridging the gap

    Her husband and pillar of support, Visakan Rajendiran, says, “In a country like India, people feel more comfortable attending a social gathering in traditional attire. We realised that there is a big gap between the clothes available in the market and the requirements of the people.”

    The Trios fashion show, held at Hilton, Chennai,  in January this year, was India’s first fashion show that had models on the ramp in wheelchairs, alongside able-bodied odels. Visakan took the initiative to include physically-challenged models, and designed outfits for the ramp.

    She explains her intent, “The idea was to create awareness about an inclusive societyThere is no need to be sympathetic. The disabled also live a normal, happy life. This show was not made to showcase their struggles or tell inspiring stories. It was instead a show where the platform about equality; to show that beauty is inclusive.”

    The success of the event was soon evident, as a lot of people started approaching Visakan. Their recent ad shoot for Suvastra Designs showed a differently-abled model.

    “We approached a lot of brands, offering to shoot for free, but the idea was rejected. Only then did we decide to shoot an advertisement for our own brand, Suvastra Designs. Many people weren’t able to tell that the model is differently-abled. We wanted this to be a motivating factor for others,” discloses Shalini.

    Bigger gains

    The custom-made clothes start from a basic price range of ₹1,000. The couple reveals that although the business isn’t profitable yet, they want to expand its reach, rather than focus on profits.

    The couple is also planning to train differently-abled persons to groom themselves, maintain fitness, ramp walk and build confidence, so that they can enter beauty pageants. They also hope to expand their stores across India to cater to the larger population.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Priyadarshini Natarajan / December 29th, 2017

  • scissors
    Special moment: Sanjay Khaitan, former international director, Lions Club, presenting the Lions Centennial Marquee Awards in Chennai on Sunday. | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

    Special moment: Sanjay Khaitan, former international director, Lions Club, presenting the Lions Centennial Marquee Awards in Chennai on Sunday. | Photo Credit: K. Pichumani

    Centennial celebrations of The International Association of Lions Club-District 324-A1 held

    The Lions Centennial Marquee Awards were presented on Sunday to four eminent personalities on the occasion of the centennial celebrations of The International Association of Lions Club-District 324-A1.

    Industrialist Nalli Kuppuswamy Chetti (philanthropy), musician T.V. Gopalakrishnan, State Higher Education Secretary Sunil Paliwal (public service) and N. Ravi, publisher, The Hindu Group (journalism), were honoured.

    Centennial district governor K.S. Babai said all the four awardees had rendered service with dedication. “Whenever someone comes asking for a donation for a genuine cause, without any hesitation, Mr. Nalli Kuppuswamy offers help almost immediately,” she said.

    Speaking of Mr. Gopalakrishnan, she said his music was pure and divine and attracted millions across the world.

    “It is hard to find a person like Mr. Ravi, who has made a great contribution in the field of journalism,” she said, adding that he was an extremely simple person and fine human being.

    On accepting the award, Mr. Ravi said he felt honoured. A postal stamp was released on the occasion. Vijayalakshmi Thavva, district chairperson, centennial celebrations, spoke.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Staff Reporter / Chennai – December 25th, 2017

  • scissors

    Shivansh Joshi wanted to become a soldier as he believes this is the best way to serve nation

    Shivansh Joshi

    Shivansh Joshi

    Shunning a future of hefty salary packages and a comfortable life, this 17-year-old has taken up a more challenging career in order to serve the country. Shivansh Joshi, who has topped the NDA exam, has decided to quit the engineering course at NIT Tiruchirappalli and join the Indian Army. The results of the NDA exam were released last week.

    Shivansh hails from Ramnagar in Uttarakhand. His father Sanjeev Joshi works with LIC India while mother Tanuja Joshi is a government primary school teacher.

    Shivansh scored 96.8 per cent in class 12 exams and cracked the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) in the first attempt. “I always wanted to join the Indian Army as the kind of pride, respect, honour, discipline and adventure associated with it is not offered in any other profession. Joining defence forces is the best way you can serve your nation,” he said.

    It was at his father’s insistence that Joshi appeared for JEE and aced it without joining any coaching centre. He was preparing for his board exams, JEE and NDA — all at the same time.

    “The syllabus for class 12 exams and JEE is quite similar. NDA picks more generic topics. But I ensured three hours of preparation for the exams and two hours of football and other physical activities,” said Joshi.

    How did he manage a perfect balance between sports and studies? “I stayed away from social media. Though I am fond of smartphones, I purchased it after clearing all my exams,” added Joshi. He feels sports and patriotism are in the blood of people from Uttarakhand.

    While he does not have a defence background, he was inspired by stories on Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, national security advisor Ajit Kumar Doval and General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Army staff. He also draws motivation from books like Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

    source: / The Indian Express / Home> Education / by Neeti Nigam / New Delhi / November 29th, 2017

  • scissors

    Start ups looking for investment, mentoring, or any support now have a platform to pitch the ideas.

    Sivarajah Ramanathan, founder and CEO of Nativelead Foundation, said Aadukalam will be a monthly meeting at PSG College of Technology with a group of investors and start up entrepreneurs.

    This will be a pitching platform where start ups can present ideas, get feedback from experts, and develop the concepts.

    Mr. Ramanathan explained that start ups can register online on the Aadukalam site and those identified for a particular month’s meeting will present the concept before the experts.

    Nativelead launched NAN (Native Angels Network) here two years ago to promote local start ups.

    The idea was to identify and nurture start ups. The network is engaged with about 100 companies in different kinds of activities, including mentoring and marketing lead. However, it is a challenge to take these to the level of investment.

    The top level start ups move to cities such as Bengaluru and those in the next rung in the ladder need to be prepared to move forward.

    Investors, who are part of the network here, have now invested in start ups in other cities in the State too.

    The local investors also need a learning platform where different kinds of start up pitch ideas.

    Hence, it was decided to come with Aadukalam. The concept will be introduced in other tier-two and tier-three towns also. In other places, the start ups come with agriculture-related ideas.

    In Coimbatore, many are technology-oriented, he said.

    source: / The Hindud / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by Special Correspondent / Coimbatore – December 17th, 2017

  • scissors


    Remembered at commemorations in Madras recently were two contrasting Gandhians. One, a man whose family I knew better than him, the other, I confess with regret, I had not even heard of. Of both I learnt so much subsequently, that two items in a column seem pitifully inadequate. If you hear about them again from me it will be because there are so many stories to tell about Dr Chandran Devanesen and Mahakavi Bala Bharathi Sankagiri Duraisamy Subramania Yogiar.

    Both were sons of scholars. Chandran Devanesen was the first professor at Madras Christian College who was the son of an earlier academic there, David William Devanesen, a Professor of Biology who later retired as Assistant Director of Fisheries. Devanesan Senior wrote prolificly on subjects ranging from oysters to Vedanayagam Sastriar, the evangelist poet of Tanjore.

    Yogiar’s father Duraisamy, fluent in Hindi, Persian and Urdu, lectured on the Holy Koran in English. Both imbued their sons with a yearning for knowledge and sharing it.


    The institution builder

    As the first Indian Principal of MCC, Chandran Devanesen is known for successfully transforming an institution influenced by Scots to one more Indian. But that exercise is not my focus. What is, is the little remembered founding of the North-Eastern Hill University in 1973. Starting from scratch in territory he knew little about, Devanesen developed in Shillong an institution to serve Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and, for a while, Arunachal Pradesh. He spent a year boning up on the Northeast before heading to it as Vice-Chancellor, but what he remembered best of that time was meeting this Central University’s Chancellor, Indira Gandhi, before leaving for his new home. The Prime Minister told him she trusted his vision and leadership on academic development, but “I can advise you on the tribal dynamics of the Northeast and its diversity.” He learnt more about the area in that one hour with her than in the year spent in libraries, he was to later recall.

    The first Chair he established there was the Mahatma Gandhi Visiting Professorship, the second the Dr Verrier Elwin Chair, remembering that expert on the tribes of much of India. From early in life Devanesen was interested in Gandhi. His doctoral thesis, titled ‘The Making of the Mahatma’, focussed on the first 40 years of Gandhi’s life. The thesis was dedicated to two ardent disciples of Gandhi, Devanesen’s uncles, J(oseph) C and (Benjamin) Bharathan Kumarappa, from the Cornelius family of Tanjore.

    Another significant Devanesen creation was the Estuarine Biological Laboratory by Pulicat Lake he helped Dr Sanjeeva Raj to set up. Devanesen did not live to see it come to naught in the new Millennium when Lake and surroundings, including environmentally sensitive islands, were despoiled by modern development. When he was alive he’d visit the Lab regularly with his family on weekends and return to Tambaram with a basketful of mud-crabs to distribute to faculty families. He considered the crabs, which Pulicat Lake has the highest yield of, the “greatest delicacy” on his menu. His Sinhalese wife Savitri’s Ceylon crab curry was always the “top” non-veg dish at dinners he hosted. Today, these mud-crabs are a ‘top’ export.

    The national poet

    Fair, 6-foot tall, chain-smoking Yogiar was a Gandhian who dressed in silk jibbas and white mull vaishtis and “sang in the voice of Kali”. Devoted to the Devi, he’d compose poetry almost on request but would always say, “The voice is mine/The singer is Kali”. His cornucopia of poetry and prose has been nationalised by Government, but what it’s done with the collection I have no idea.


    Yogiar was a polymath, described as a “scholar in English (which he spoke impeccably and accentlessly), writer in Tamil, one-time film director, sometime editor and all-time poet.” He was also a freedom fighter who spent nearly two years in gaol. In prison, Yogiar, author of Mudal Devi, wrote, inspired by a Malayalam writer’s work, his own version of Mary Magdalene. He also translated in Tamil Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat and in English a part of Kambar’s Ramayanam, titling it Seetha Kalyanam.

    As Editor-in-Chief with India Book House’s publishing division Pearl in the late 1950s, till his untimely death in 1963, he was prolific in translating Tamil and Malayalam classics into English.

    A regular reviewer for The Hindu of Tamil and English books, Yogiar would also analyse Gandhi’s and Periyar’s speeches for various publications, often critically. Several of his contrary views helped Periyar re-think his own. As Editor of Pudumai Pithan and other journals — the restless Yogiar kept changing jobs, from journal to journal, business establishment to establishment — he was known for his critiques of films and literature. But as Kannadasan said, Yogiar’s reviews hurt no one nor were they abusive; they only politely pointed out the faults.

    Inevitably filmdom beckoned. He worked on seven films. Writing story, dialogue and lyrics for the Ellis Dungan directed Iru Sagodharagal (Two Brothers) got him started in 1936. He then directed some of these, including his own Yogi Films’ Anandam (1941) for which he did everything but act or shoot. National poet Yogiar may have been, but his passion was Mother Tamil, which he once lauded: With the Comorin her lotus feet,/ Seven Hills as her golden crown,/ The bubbling Kaveri as her waistbelt,/ And the Three Seas paying obeisance,/ Holding the tall peaks of Vindhyas as Sceptre,/ Having Lanka as a blooming daughter,/ Our deity is Mother Goddess, / And our home is the land of Tamil, / The evergreen Maiden.

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

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Madras Miscellany> News> Cities> Chennai / by  S. Muthiah / December 11th, 2017

  • scissors

    Two former students of a college in Kodambakkam make it to a special list by Forbes, for their innovations in health care

    While he and his team have developed a compact affordable device to treat pre-natal jaundice, she is working on a software platform to help addicts free themselves of substance abuse.

    Meet Vivek Kopparthi and Akshaya Shanmugam, who now work in the United States.

    A few years ago, they went to the same college.

    Alumni of Meenakshi Sundararajan Engineering College in Kodambakkam, the two have made it to the “Forbes 30 Under 30” list, which recognises excellence in professionals aged under 30. Vivek is on the list released for 2017; and Akshaya, on the one for 2018.

    Social impact

    The son of Srinivasa Rao, a first-generation learner and Mangadevi, who believes employees in her small unit are family, Vivek says he hopes to make a social impact with the device, and is not interested in making money out of it.

    “The World Health Organisation says that in South East Asia India, Myanmar and Africa, roughly 5.4 million infants go untreated for jaundice, every year. Nine percent of them either die or suffer permanent brain damage, every day. Our device, which uses light to treat jaundice, would be among the most affordable in the market, as it based on simple plug-and-play technology that can run on solar power or batteries. The device has just four pieces, no complicated machinery and not much training is required to use it,” explains Vivek, who is co-founder and CEO of NeoLight, a healthcare company that engineers and designs solutions for newborns in need of neonatal medical care.

    Vivek is looking for organisations to tie up with him to supply the devices.

    Akshaya Shanmugam, CEO, Lumme Labs, an alumni of Meenakshi Sundarajan Engineering College in Chennai. Photo: Special Arangement | Photo Credit: Special_Arrangement

    Akshaya Shanmugam, CEO, Lumme Labs, an alumni of Meenakshi Sundarajan Engineering College in Chennai. Photo: Special Arangement | Photo Credit: Special_Arrangement

    Overcoming addiction

    His senior at college, Akshaya was part of team that was recognised for its work on creating a software platform to help addicts shake off their dependence.

    “What we have is a software platform that is capable of collecting data from wearable sensors like smartphones and watches, basically Android devices that help us understand the behaviour of addicts and the triggers associated with the behaviour. Finally, we also give them personalised interventions to help them recover,” explains Akshaya, who has co-founded Lumme Labs and whose first target are smokers.

    “This work is an outcome of research conducted at the University of Massachusetts and the Yale School of Medicine. Our work is funded and overseen by the National Institutes of Health. We have conducted two national-scale clinical trials in which we demonstrated that we can automatically detect smoking with an accuracy of 95% and predict smoking events six minutes in advance,” she explains.

    Their college secretary K.S. Babai, says that she is very proud of the achievements of her students.

    “Both of them did very well in academics when they were with us. We recognise leadership qualities in students and encourage them to organise events where they can showcase their capabilities,” she says.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Deepa H. Ramakrishnan / December 08th, 2017

  • scissors
    Recognising service: Activist Chezhian Ramu receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Manav Seva Award from President Ram Nath Kovind.

    Recognising service: Activist Chezhian Ramu receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Manav Seva Award from President Ram Nath Kovind.

    His organisation serves as a safe shelter for over 900 children across the State

    Chezhian Ramu, a social worker and child rights activist based in Tiruvannamalai district, was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Manav Seva Award, instituted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

    Mr. Chezhian received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind, on November 14, Children’s Day. He is among the three social workers selected across the country for the award.

    “It was a great honour to receive the award,” said Mr. Chezhian, who’s journey in protecting rights of underprivileged children began 25 years ago, when he lost his parents in a car accident. “I was left alone and moved to Tiruvannamalai. There I found an unreasonably high number of children begging. I began working for them without any organisation structure,” he said.

    For the next three years, Mr. Chezhian devoted his time working on eliminating child beggary and providing job opportunities to their families. “It was not easy as a lot of them were stuck in organised begging rackets. But we managed,” he said.

    He later joined the Swiss child relief agency, Terre Des Hommes, and worked on the rescue and rehabilitation of children affected during the 1993 Latur earthquake in Maharashtra. “The scene there moved me immensely and I decided to set up an organisation exclusively to protect children’s rights,” he said.

    In the year 1994, he set up TDH CORE – Terre Des Hommes Children Organisation for Relief and Education in Tiruvannamalai, and Lifeline in 1998, where over 900 children are currently being looked after in 16 homes across the State. Four of them are schools meant for disabled children.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Staff Reporter / Chennai – December 05th, 2017

  • scissors

    The two-minute video shows their latest ride, a two-hour journey to Cozhai village as part of the monthly mass contact programme where they disbursed Rs. 1.4 crore worth welfare measures

    Cuddalore District Collector Prashant M Wadnere on a local bus

    Cuddalore District Collector Prashant M Wadnere on a local bus

    Chennai :

    A video showing Cuddalore District Collector Prashant M Wadnere and his team of some 40 officials, including senior officers, travelling in an ordinary government bus has gone viral.

    The two-minute video shows their latest ride, a two-hour journey to Cozhai village as part of the monthly mass contact programme where they disbursed Rs. 1.4 crore worth welfare measures.

    The collector is seated on the first seat next to the front door.

    “More than saving fuel it’s more of logistics. This time spent with colleagues also helps in bonding as a lot of informal discussions happen. Unlike corporates, we don’t have such outing programmes,” the collector said.
    The collector who has been doing this over the last one year says this system also helps remove the fear ordinary people have about the district administration.

    “It’s also a confidence-building measure. People are now more forthcoming to speak to me,” he said.

    source: / NDTV / Home> Section> Tamil Nadu / by J. Sam Daniel Stalin / December 01st, 2017

  • « Older Entries