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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    A French Reunion island team interacting with students at Cauvery College of Engineering and Technology at Perur near Tiruchi on Sunday.... | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

    A French Reunion island team interacting with students at Cauvery College of Engineering and Technology at Perur near Tiruchi on Sunday…. | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

    Out of the 8.5 lakh population in the island, 3 lakh people are Tamils

    It was a trip Bernard Goulamoussen (50), a French citizen of Tamil origin settled in Reunion Island, had been longing for since his childhood.

    Eagerness writ large on his face, Goulamoussen tells how he was able to see traces of his roots wherever he went during his current trip in Tamil Nadu.

    For, he had no idea to which part his ancestors who had migrated more than 200 years ago belonged.

    Goulamoussen was among a group of 10 such visitors to Tamil Nadu from Reunion Island, a French overseas territory in the Indian Ocean, who have come to the State to understand their forefathers’ culture, tradition, civilisation, ancient history, educational system, rituals and practices.

    After visiting several parts of the State including Chennai, Madurai, Dindigul and Thanjavur, they landed in Tiruchi on Sunday to explore its cultural heritage.

    Led by Yogacharya Nilamegame, a native of Puducherry who had settled in Reunion Island about 30 years ago, they visited Cauvery College of Engineering and Technology at Perur near here and interacted with the students to understand the Indian educational system.

    Like Goulamoussen, most of the group members also have no knowledge of their mother tongue Tamil.

    But, they still practice Tamil culture reflecting in the way they dress and religious practices.

    “We do not know where our forefathers lived in Tamil Nadu. We feel ecstatic to be in the land of our origin. We may have forgotten Tamil. But we have not given up our tradition yet,” says Goulamoussen, a temple priest, in French.

    Out of 8.5 lakh population of Reunion Island, 3 lakh people were Tamils. Except one-third among them, the rest had poor knowledge about their roots in Tamil Nadu.

    “But then, it is because of our deep understanding of festivals of Tamils and religious practices that we regularly recite Devaram and Thiruvasagam in temples,” said Nilamegame, who has penned a book on rituals of Tamils in Tamil and French.

    After the interaction, N. Nallusamy, former Minister and Chairman of Cauvery College of Engineering and Technology felt that the State government should set up an exclusive Department to teach Tamil language to the diaspora, particularly in Reunion Island, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Tiruchirapalli / by C. Jaisankar / Tiruchi – January 08th, 2018

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    Twin-musicians Sahana and Shruti’s latest work, ‘The Celnatic Experience’, highlights cross-genre influences in world music

    They were born six minutes apart. But that doesn’t stop Sahana and Shruti from completing each other’s sentences.

    These musician-twins have just released a novel music project, titled The Celnatic Experience, which seeks to celebrate the 225-year legacy of Muthuswami Dikshitar and the East India company. The project, which includes a coffee table book, a children’s book and a CD that are available for purchase online, is an extension of their recent thesis in the Berklee College of Music.

    Competitive start

    “We started learning Carnatic music when we were just six and growing up in Muscat,” recalls Sahana. The thrust came from their father, Kumar, an ardent follower of Carnatic music. Soon, the family moved lock, stock and barrel to Chennai to strengthen their musical base under the tutelage of Bombay Jayashree. “It was initially very difficult to cope here because the scene was quite competitive,” says Shruti.

    The two knew that music was their future. After a bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media from MOP Vaishnav College, they packed their bags to Valencia (Spain), to train in the prestigious Berklee College of Music. That sowed the seeds for their present endeavour. “Even before enrolling there, we were supposed to submit a topic that we’d take up for our final thesis, and we chose ‘Nottuswarams’, something close to our heart.”

    Blast from the past

    They’d learnt Nottuswarams during their initial training years. “That time, we’d learnt only two,” they recall, “But we later discovered that there were 36 of them. We were also fascinated by their origins – about how Muthuswami Dikshitar had composed them in the 17th century deriving influences from British bands playing Irish music.”

    The connections between the Shankarabharanam ragam back home and compositions from across the world got them very interested. “Did you know that the Dikshitar composition — ‘Santatam Pahima’ — resembles the British National anthem,” asks an excited Shruti.

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    These interesting similarities – from musicians separated by thousands of kilometres, in an age when cellphones and Internet were unheard of sparked off the idea in them: to highlight cross genre influences between world music. “The effort was also to take Carnatic music beyond borders and expose children from across the globe to it, just like how children here learn Western music,” says Sahana.

    Thus came ‘Celnatic,’ a word coined by them. They even performed the ‘Nottuswarams’ back in Spain, which met with resounding applause. “We gave a little introduction in Spanish, so that people could follow. But audiences loved the music. They wanted to buy it, though the CD wasn’t even ready then,” say the twins, who’re currently learning Carnatic music under AS Murali.

    Meeting the Maestro

    This Season, the twins have hit Chennai with a two-fold purpose: to frequent kutcheris and promote their latest work.

    The biggest achievement, according to them, was getting the blessing of music maestro Ilaiyaraaja for their latest work. “It was such a blessing. We presented the compositions to him and he, in turn, took us a tour to the studio. He even taught us a pallavi, set in Hindolam ragam. We were awestruck that he took time off to spend interacting with us.”

    The twins, who’re currently working on putting together a Hindi folk single that will promote a music festival scheduled for later this year, are interested in singing for films. “We would also like to compose and come up with some independent music,” says Sahana.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Entertainment> Music . by Srinivasa Ramanujam  / January 02nd, 2018

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    Giving back: Indra Nooyi, chairperson & CEO, PepsiCo, with students and staff at the Madras Christian College.

    Giving back: Indra Nooyi, chairperson & CEO, PepsiCo, with students and staff at the Madras Christian College.

    Dedicates modern lounge for women on campus

    Indra K. Nooyi, chairperson & CEO of PepsiCo, and an alumna of Madras Christian College, dedicated a modern women’s lounge on the college campus on Monday.

    Ms. Nooyi, who did B.Sc. Chemistry (1971 to 1974) visited the college on Monday. She funded the renovation and modernisation of the Macnicol Lounge for Women.

    Addressing the students, she said: “I have benefited enormously from my education. My husband and I are now in ‘giving back’ mode to the institutions that made us what we are today. I had all my education in Christian institutions and we are planning to give back as much as we can. I am privileged to be back at the MCC and I wish I was young again to study here.” She said that the future of the country is in the hands of women and that they should be exposed to modern ambience.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – December 19th, 2017

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    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: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Deepa H. Ramakrishnan / December 08th, 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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    What do you know about Campbellabad, I was asked the other day. Thinking I still knew the Political Geography I had once specialised in, “It’s a town in Pakistan,” I casually answered. Only to be told it’s a 300-year-old village in Tuticorin District. When my caller wanted to know whether what the locals had told him, that it was named after a Madras Governor, was correct, I was a little more careful. “I think Governor Campbell was some time later but let me check,” I hesitantly answered.

    So achecking I went. And found Sir Archibald Campbell was Governor from 1786 to 1789, not quite 300 years ago. But I also found that there was another Archibald Campbell, a Madras Civilian from 1896 to 1937. He has been involved with the raising of the Mettur Dam (1925-934), retired as Chief Secretary and had served on the Boards of Revenue and Irrigation. He was more likely to have had something to do with land settlement for which the Muslim settlers could have named their new village after him. But that was just 100 years ago.

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    Later that day, who should I bump into but Civilian Campbell — or at least a bust of him in the 1901 banqueting hall of the Freemasons of Madras. He had been an ardent Freemason and started the Sir Arthur Campbell Lodge in Madras in 1930. This was the first Lodge where both Europeans and Indians could be members, on condition each spent at least six months a year in the others’ country (Miscellany, March 11, 2013).

    While the bust and I looked each other in the eye, the voices swirling around us talked of the August celebration of 300 years of English Freemasonry with the consecration of the first Grand Lodge of the English Order in London. There was that number again, but this time the records showed the date was indeed 1717. Thirty-five years later, the Grand Lodge of Madras was consecrated. From then on, till the British left India, virtually every British official who was anyone in Madras was a Freemason, it would seem.

    Two winners of honours

    Two residents of Madras many decades ago whom I met recently were on quick visits to the city. To me the link between them were the honours they’d won, rather more distinguished and national in the case of one, rather more local in the case of the other. But both were greeted with the same warmth and enthusiasm by their former colleagues on the occasion of the 150th year celebrations of their respective affiliations.

    It was while visiting his old school, Lawrence of

    Lovedale, as a distinguished guest that Paul Sabapathy from Birmingham heard that he had been honoured for the third time by the Queen of England. An OBE in 1995 for urban regeneration, a CBE in 2004 for his contribution to business and higher education was being followed by a CVO (Companion of the Royal Victorian Order) for his services as Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands.

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    As Lord Lieutenant, he was the Queen’s personal representative in the area from 2007 to 2015. It could well have been a knighthood if an email of his had not been leaked. In it, after a visit to the Pakistan consulate in the city, he was critical of the Pakistani community of Birmingham. Apologising, then stepping down was not enough.

    Sabapathy, who went to Birmingham 53 years ago, soon after graduating from Madras Christian College, had a rather remarkable record in Britain. He was the first non-white to be a Lord Lieutenant (a 550-year-old institution), chairman of a British University (Birmingham City U), and a President of the Walsall Chamber of Commerce.

    Unlike Sabapathy, Demitrius Sarandis was no public figure except in the small world of rowing in India. And in the even smaller world of the Madras Boat Club (MBC) he was welcomed for all he had achieved when he was a member (1958-1962).

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    Sarandis, from Greece, came out as a 22-year-old to Madras in 1957 to monitor the machinery that his company in the UK had supplied to the South India Flour Mills. While first living in that legendary chummery Chesney Hall, and then closer to the Club, he established an enviable record becoming the MBC’s Captain of Boats within three years. He’d never rowed in his life till a fellow resident at the chummery made him a member of the Boat Club. There, some thought him too small, others, seeing his scanty hair and luxuriant moustache, thought him more aged than he was and too old (35) to row successfully. But taught by the boat boys, he rowed competitively for the first time in 1959. Beating KR Ramachandran, reckoned till then the best Club sculler, Sarandis went on to team with him and win the Pairs too. In three years, his trophy cupboard was full. But then, faced with visa problems, he had to go back — and greater honours were not to be his.

    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 / July 31st, 2017

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    Whether it was to celebrate Madras’ August birthday or not, Vikram Raghavan, a regular contributor to this column from the American capital, a Madras history buff, and a collector of Madras memorabilia, has just picked up the Thomas Daniell aquatint of Fort St George seen here. Thomas Daniell and nephew William were in India from 1785 to 1793 (Miscellany, April 21, 2008) and published in Britain between 1795 and 1808 “a monumental work”, Oriental Scenery, with 144 prints of Indian scenes. Of these, half a dozen are of Madras. A few more are of Mamallapuram, Tanjore, Madura and Rameswaram.

    My favourites, one of which I would like to get a real-life glimpse of, are two of the earliest pictorial representations of sport in Madras. A print of the Assembly Rooms on the Race Course at Madras hangs in the Fort Museum. The other is of Cricket in India, an original aquatint which is with a private collector in Calcutta who once sent me a poor transparency of it. As this representation was dated 1792, it was probably done in Madras because that was when the Daniells had left Calcutta and were here. And if that was so, the match was at The Island, the only grounds for the game at the time.

    In the picture, the bowler is shown bowling under-arm, the practice then; the bat is a club-like implement like a baseball bat; many of the fielders wear coloured trousers and the scorer is sitting a little wide off gully. A cow ambles about in a corner of the field in the foreground and at the left, by a few trees, is a tent, probably the pavilion. All this is really recognisable only if the picture is seen large. So take my word for it! It was sailors from East Indiamen, locally stationed British soldiers, and East India Company Writers and younger merchants who introduced the game in India. The first recorded cricket activity in the country dates to 1721, when visiting sailors played a game in Cambay, Gujarat, “to divert ourselves”, according to ship’s captain Nicholas Downton.

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    As for the Assembly Rooms, they were a kind of grandstand and clubhouse a little south of today’s racecourse where “entertainments” were held, a ball organised for every race day evening; the races were in the morning, then it was off to work and back again for waltzes and minuets. The first reference to organised sport in Madras, racing at St Thomas’ Mount, is in 1775.

    As for Vikram’s original colour-engraved aquatint, it dates to 1797 and is titled South East View of the Fort St George, Madras. The scene was probably viewed from somewhere near Royapuram. It shows masula and other boats, four men pulling a boat through the surf, and ships well out to sea in Madras Roads. Madras Harbour was many years in the future.

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    When the postman knocked…

    Clarifying my Institute of Mental Health (IMH) story (Miscellany, June 26) is my Australian correspondent, Dr A Raman, whose hobby is Madras medical history. His research deserves a book one day. Meanwhile, a more accurate story from him than mine about what began in Purasawalkam in 1794 as ‘The Madras Madhouse’ run by Valentine Connolly. It was a leased building (at ₹825 a month) to which Surgeon Maurice Fitzgerald succeeded, holding charge until 1803. James Dalton took over, rebuilt the facility and ran it till 1815 as Dalton’s Mad Hospital. Its cases included ‘circular insanity’, later described as ‘manic depressive illness’ and today as ‘bipolar illness’.

    Government involvement started in 1867 with approval for a facility to be called the Madras Lunatic Asylum (later called the Government Mental Hospital and from 1978 the IMH). The Asylum, raised in the 66.5 acres of Locock’s Gardens, Kilpauk, opened in 1871 with 150 patients and Surgeon John Murray as Superintendent. By 1915, there were 800 patients, 80 per cent of them civilians. About half the cases were classified as ‘mania’, about 20 per cent as ‘melancholia’ and about 25 per cent as ‘dementia’. ‘Criminal lunatics’ were kept segregated.

    Cycling Yogis will mark Madras Week with a booklet called Cycling Trails. It includes 40 trails with details about what to see on them. Every trail in the booklet has been cycled on by the compilers over the last year. Some of the trails which caught my attention were called ‘Madras the First’, ‘Madras the Oldest’, ‘Historic Residences’, ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ and ‘Police Heritage’. For booklets, contact ramanujar4u@gmail.com, then make use of them during Madras Month.

    This is not about Madras at all, but strange things happen around us all the time. And the recent strike by our Government medicos drew Don Abey’s attention to it. He refers to the Government Medical Officers’ Association in Sri Lanka calling off their agitation in mid-strike when the National Movement for Consumer Rights threatened “it would stage ceremonies in front of the homes of GMOA executive committee members to invoke God’s curses on them for holding hundreds of thousands of patients to ransom!” Powerful are the threat of death-threatening curses and pleas of consignment to Hell!

     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 / Chennai – July 10th, 2017

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    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.

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    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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    CLOSER LOOK: Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi. Photo: Special Arrangement

    CLOSER LOOK: Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi. Photo: Special Arrangement

    Jayapal was born in Chennai, Krishnamoorthi in Delhi, while Harris was born in US

    Three of the five Indian-Americans elected to the United States Congress on Wednesday have south Indian connections.

    They include Kamala Harris (52), the first Indian-American Senator; Pramila Jayapal (51) the first Indian-American woman in the House of Representatives; and Raja Krishnamoorthi (43), who became a Congressman in his second attempt. All three are Democrats.

    Jayapal is the only one born in Chennai; Krishnamoorthi was born in Delhi while Harris was born in the United States.

    Understands Tamil

    Krishnamoorthi’s parents, of Tamil origin, migrated to the United States when he was only three. He was elected from Illinois’ 8th Congressional district. Krishnamoorthi is the son-in-law of the sister of T.R. Balakrishnan, who retired as the principal of Presidency College in Chennai.

    “His father, a physics professor, went from Delhi to teach at a University in the U.S. His family speaks Tamil at home, and while he does not speak the language, he understands it,” said Mr. Balakrishnan, adding that Mr. Krishnamoorthi visited his relatives in T. Nagar regularly.

    “He is very devout, calm and organised,” Mr. Balakrishnan said.

    Ms. Jayapal, who traces her roots to a Nair family in Palakkad, left the country aged five and lived in Indonesia and Singapore before relocating to the United States as a 16-year-old.

    She was elected from Washington’s 7th Congressional district. In March 2000, she published Pilgrimage: One Woman’s Return to a Changing India , saying that she had cultivated an emotional attachment with the country and revealing that she held on to her Indian passport during her formative years.

    Harris won from California

    Kamala Harris, who won from California, is the daughter of the late Dr. Shyamala G. Harris, world-renowned breast cancer researcher.

    Ms. Harris left India as a 25-year-old to study at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Her father and Stanford University’s Professor Emeritus Donald J. Harris is of Jamaican descent, which makes Kamala Harris only the second African-American woman senator.

    Harris’ niece Meena Harris has been quoted as saying that her aunt likes shopping at Chennai’s Nalli for sarees and GRT for jewellery.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Deepu Sebastian Edmond / Chennai – November 12th, 2016

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    Chennai :

    IIT Madras celebrated its second AlumNite, a variant of the traditional alumni day, on Saturday.

    Dr Jayant Baliga Distinguised University Professor and Director, Power Semiconductor Research Center, North Carolina State University, was conferred Distinguished Alumnus Award 2016 on the occasion.

    The other recipient of the Alumnus awards were Dr. S. Christopher Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Director General, DRDO and Dr. Aravind Srinivasan Professor, Department of Computer Science and Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, University of Maryland.

    Speaking on the occasion, president of IIT Madras Alumni  Association (IITMAA) Ravi Venkatraman, who passed out in 1971 said, “The Alumni Association besides trying to bring together entrepreneurs, was involved in social work. We refurbished schools affected in floods and collected Rs 15 Lakh within a week. We are also engaged with projects in villages and identified two villages in Kanchipuram. An alumni card is on the anvil,” he said.

    Thiru Srinivasan from 1989 batch said, “This year industry has taken a bigger role. Employment to the graduating students has increased. We are starting to reach out to the governing bodies like Anna University and NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council). We want to touch 100 colleges and would like to get more alumni.”

    Abhishek Sharma who graduated this year said last year the fund raised from graduating students was Rs 15 Lakh and this year it Rs 35 Lakh.

    V Balaraman who is the former Managing Director of Ponds and under whose name an alumni chair was established in April was officially launched on AlumNite.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service / July 24th, 2016

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