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    5 projects have been identified for evaluation

    Leading development economists and social scientists across the world are likely to take part in the formulation and evaluation of various schemes in the State in sectors such as school education, health, poverty alleviation and skill development.

    To facilitate this, the State government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Abdul Latif Jameel–Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), the U.S., and the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR), Chennai, the host institute for J-PAL in India, according to an official release issued on Wednesday.

    The J-PAL, headquartered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has more than 100 affiliated professors from top universities, including MIT, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, London School of Economics and IIM- Ahmedabad.

    Initially, five projects have been identified for evaluation — primary school education interventions, youth labour market outcomes, healthy habits to reduce the burden on non-communicable diseases, engaging women to improve breastfeeding outcomes and weekly iron folic acid supplementation and school anaemia monitoring.

    The J-PAL would assist the government in building internal capacity to carry out monitoring and evaluation of the ongoing or new schemes.

    The MoU was signed by S. Krishnan, Principal Secretary (Planning, Development and Special Initiatives), and Shobini Mukherji, Executive Director, J-PAL, South Asia, in the presence of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – November 20th, 2014

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    November 20th, 2014adminLeaders, Records, All, Science & Technologies

    Vellore :

    The Madras University has, for the first time, conferred the Doctor of Science (D Sc) research degree to a former Christian Medical College (CMC) scientist, Dr S Gunasekaran, for his lifetime contribution to research on insulin in the field of physiology. Governor K Rosaiah conferred the prestigious degree on him at the 157th convocation of Madras University held recently.

    Gunasekaran received his Ph D in Physiology in the year 1981 from Madras University. With almost four decades in teaching at CMC, he devoted his research time to contributing to knowledge on primate pancreatic islets (insulin secreting cells) from monkeys, white pigs and to some extent human islets from brain dead persons.

    Gunasekaran told Express that it was a big honour and recognition of his unique research work.

    He recalled how he had teamed up with professor P Zachariah to study insulin. He established the first radioimmunoassay (to estimate hormones) technique in the country in 1973.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by V. NarayanaMurthi / November 19th, 2014

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    In 1928, B. Ananda Bai was the first woman law graduate in then Madras Presidency. Photo: The Hindu Archives

    In 1928, B. Ananda Bai was the first woman law graduate in then Madras Presidency. Photo: The Hindu Archives

    B. Ananda Bai was the lone female law graduate in then Madras Presidency, which included parts of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

    Cornelia Sorabji, the first woman to practice law in India, was born on November 15, 148 years ago. She was only one among the many pioneers who worked long and hard to breach the glass ceiling for women in courtrooms across the country.

    For the women of Madras, the foundations of this struggle were laid by B. Ananda Bai in August 1928. After graduating with a degree in law from Madras University, she became the lone female law graduate in then Madras Presidency, which included parts of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

    Bai’s original career path, however, did not involve becoming a lawyer. According to the Palaniappa Brothers’ book Madras: the Land, the People and their Governance, it was only after being rejected in the government services that Bai considered entering the chambers of law. Finally, after a rigorous apprenticeship under V.V. Srinivasa Iyengar, she enrolled in the Madras High Court on April 22, 1929, to become the first woman advocate trained and specialised in the city of Madras.

    Hailing from the South Kanara region (present day districts of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi), Bai’s father, Dr. Krishna Rao, was particular that all female family members receive a ‘liberal and academic education’.

    While admitting that Bai represented a privileged minority, historian V. Geeta points out the 1920s and 30s were a time of churning for women. “With the social reform movement gaining ground, law became central to a lot of the debates regarding women, which were governing civil discourse. Both Hindu and Muslim women with The All India Women’s Conferences, for instance, were very vocal about their aspirations for empowerment through social legislation,” she says.

    However, as Rukmani Lakshmipathi, president of the League of Youth, said at a meeting to honour Bai in 1929, “Education and medicine are becoming more and more popular with girls. That is not the case with law. We are glad that a beginning has been made in this direction, and an impetus has been given.”

    K. Shantakumari, president, Tamil Nadu Federation of Women Lawyers, points out that storming the male bastion of law was far from easy. She says, “In those days, people were apprehensive and would not give cases to women. Societal taboos also forbid women from taking criminal cases. Because of this, many had to work under male lawyers and did not receive fair remuneration.”

    By setting a precedent, in spite of these daunting obstacles, the likes of Bai and Sorabji made a career in law a distinct possibility for women. Today, as we celebrate the latter’s birthday, it only seems fitting to raise a toast to these pioneers for the new ground they broke.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Society / by Nitya Menon / Chennai – November 15th, 2014

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    An engineering heritage centre has been established at Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Thandalam near Sriperumbudur to showcase the growth of various branches of engineering. The centre was inaugurated by A. Sivathanu Pillai, managing director of BrahMos Aerospace recently. Dr. Pillai, distinguished scientist, Defence Research and Development Organisation, traced the development of space and missile technology in India under the leadership of Vikram Sarabhai and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

    He appreciated students’ effort in fabricating and displaying various engineering gadgets and emphasised that creative and innovative thinking was the need of the hour. “A strong industry-institute interaction and joint patents should be part of core activity in any technical institution” he said.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – November 15th, 2014

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    Pallanguzhi holes found by a research team at Pannamparai village in Thoothukudi district | express

    Pallanguzhi holes found by a research team at Pannamparai village in Thoothukudi district | express

    Thoothukudi :

    Pallanguzhi (a traditional mancala game) holes dating back to the Stone Age were found at Pannamparai village in the district, claimed Thavasimuthu, an archaeologist. The holes were discovered during a ground study by Thavasimuthu and his students.

    Pallanguzhi is a traditional mancala game played in rural areas. It is normally played on boards and before boards emerged, people played the game by making holes in rocky areas. Thavasimuthu claimed that the holes represent a shorter version of Pallanguzhi, which is played even now.

    He added that the holes represent several things, including the earliest human settlements, the impact that the game had on human lives and also the adjacent trade routes. He further said that the game was even used to settle disputes between kings and had avoided several wars as the winner of the game was considered the winner of the dispute.

    After examining the holes, Thavasimuthu said, “The Pallanguzhi holes should be at least 10,000 years old.”

    He added that the holes would normally be made with axes but in the case of holes found at Pannamparai village, the holes were made using stones.

    He noted that by relating the age of the Pallanguzhi holes and the earliest possible  human settlements, it could be discerned that men from Africa had first settled in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu.

    He added that similar holes were earlier found in Pazhani hills and they date back 25,000 years.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Express News Service / November 16th, 2014

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    “Make in India” may be the buzz now, but there was a time when ‘to make in Madras’ meant fighting vested interests. The accompanying advertisement may bring old memories — of pencils such as Kohinoor, Ajantha and Spectrum, all sold by V. Perumal Chetty & Sons, and manufactured at their Madras Pencil Factory. That factory closed in the 1990s, but it had a history that stretched to a time when ‘make in Madras’ was considered possible.


    It was sometime in 1899 that the Madras government got Alfred Chatterton, of the College of Engineering, to study the potential to set up industries. He did pioneering work in this area, first demonstrating that aluminium could be used in place of brass and copper to make vessels. That effort led to the Indian Aluminium Company (INDAL). The established business houses of Madras, all British-owned, were not happy with this. They were comfortable exporting raw materials to Britain and importing finished goods. Local industrial development they felt would mean Indians would take to it, thereby threatening them with competition.

    But Chatterton was undeterred. In 1908, he convinced the Government of Madras to set up a Department of Industries, a first for the entire country. The Swadesi movement led by patriots such as V.O. Chidambaram Pillai was gaining ground then. Chatterton openly sided with the Swadesi Movement, declaring it “a good sign for India to develop her industrial life” and “Madras to rid itself of its character of an overstocked market of literacy employment”. His colleague Frederick Nicholson went a step further, stating that in the matter of Indian industries, “we are bound to consider Indian interests — firstly, secondly and thirdly — I mean by firstly, that local raw products should be utilised; by secondly that industries should be introduced and by thirdly, the profits of such industry should remain in the country.”

    Both Chatterton and Nicholson felt that the government would need to set up small industries, which could then be sold to Indians to run. Nicholson established the Fisheries Department and created the Lalita Soap Works in Madras. Chatterton founded the Government (later Madras) Pencil Factory at Korukkupet. He imported wood from East Africa for the pencils and ran advertisements with a strong nationalist slant as you can see, to drum up business.

    The business houses of Madras lobbied hard through the Madras Chamber of Commerce and got the Department of Industries closed in 1910. It was only after repeated protests by Indians in the Madras Legislative Council that it was reinstated in 1914. Its resurrection was celebrated with a Madras Industries Exhibition organised by the Department.

    The Government operated the pencil factory till 1918 and then put it up for sale. A syndicate of Komati Chettys of Madras, led by the Perumal Chetty clan, bought it and the rest is history. Chatterton and Nicholson were knighted, which is not the kind of reward that civil servants would get today if they went against the establishment for the sake of public interest.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> Society / by Sriram V / Chennai – November 16th, 2014

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    November 15th, 2014adminRecords, All, Sports, World Opinion

    Chennai :

    Get Manuel Aaron talking about chess and there’s no squaring him off.

    Whether it is about his own life, his birth in Burma, and how he learned all about the game from his parents, or how the game was what kept families in Chennai sane during World War II when people were asked to stay indoors with the doors and windows shut, Aaron – India’s first International Master, the country’s first Arjuna awardee from the game, and nine-time national chess champion – has a life-time of stories to tell about chess.

    The 78-year-old has finally managed to put all his thoughts and words together over six years to self-publish a 600-page tome, Indian Chess History (570 AD – 2010 AD). Co-authored by chess historian Vijay D Pandit, Aaron released it on Friday at a hotel in T Nagar.

    Apart from providing a detailed history of the game, the book has records of all national champions in all categories, as well as 367 annotated games and 397 diagrams, which, according to Aaron, who is now one of the most popular teachers of the game in the city, will help any enthusiastic chess player.

    “When I was the secretary of the Tamil Nadu Chess Association in 2004, I brought out a book on chess in the state. This one is kind of a sequel to that,” says Aaron.

    So, what kind of nuggets does the book contain? How about this one for starters, says Aaron. In 1925, the Maharaja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh organized a chess tournament, to which he invited Serbian grandmaster Boris Kostic. “The day the tournament was to begin, the King’s 13th wife gave birth to his 32nd son. The entire kingdom celebrated for three weeks and tournament was postponed to the end of the celebrations,” says Aaron, and adds that Kostic had to wait out the entire period of celebration before he could play.

    Poor Kostic ended up coming in second (first place went to NR Joshi of India) at the tournament, says Aaron, but was so embarrassed by his defeat that when he went back to Europe he told everyone that he had won. “He even brought out a book saying he had won, but my book says he did not,” says Aaron.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by Kamini Mathai, TNN / November 15th, 2014

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    Madurai :

    If researchers at Gandhigram university are successful in their endeavour, the rudraksha tree, which is endemic to the Western Ghats, can soon be saved from extinction.

    Researchers from the university have germinated seeds of the species ‘Elaeocarpus blascoi Weibel’ under laboratory conditions and the saplings reared by them are slowly taking root in their natural habitat of the shola forests in the Western Ghats.

    According to Dr Raju Ramasubbu, professor in the department of biology at the Gandhigram Rural Institute, there are 250 species of the rudraksha tree in the world, of which 25 are found in India. Eleven of the 25 are confined to the Western Ghats, and 10 can be seen only in the Palani Hills, Dindigul district. Fruits from the subspecies ‘Elaeocarpus sphaericus’ are used as beads to make rosaries, necklaces and bracelets.

    Dr Ramasubbu and his student Felix Irudhayaraj were alarmed at the fact that only a single ‘Elaeocarpus blascoi’ tree was found in the Palani hills when they undertook a study on the trees, which are on the red list of the International Union for Consevation of Nature (IUCN). The study on ‘E. blascoi’ was conducted from July 2012 to May 2014, and was published in the October 26 issue of the ‘Journal of Threatened Taxa’.

    On reason for the tree facing extinction is that nuts take very long to germinate due to their hard cover. A mature tree takes 15 years to start flowering and grows to a height of 20 meters. This large evergreen tree was found in the Bear Shola in the Palani Hills in 1970. But another report published in 1999 said it had become extinct. Later, a lone tree was spotted in 2000.

    After confirming that the species was staring at extinction, they went to the mother tree and collected seeds. Many seeds were found viable but had not germinated. Some were too old or affected by fungus, and there were no saplings near the mother tree.

    The researchers took the seeds to their laboratory and were successful in germinating 80% of them. They planted four saplings that were two- and-a-half months old in an isolated spot in its natural habitat and are happy with the way they are growing. “We visit the spot twice a month and check their growth,” Dr Ramasubbu said.

    The researchers collected tissue from the shoots of the mother tree and are culturing them. If successful, they plan to plant more trees in their natural habitat as it aids seed germination, which would help remove the species from the IUCN ‘red list’.

    source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / by Padmini Sivarajah, TNN / November 12th, 2014

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    Pandit Iyothee Thass / by Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    Pandit Iyothee Thass / by Special Arrangement / The Hindu

    He had his roots in The Nilgiris: Nilgiri Documentation Centre

    The Kotagiri based Nilgiri Documentation Centre (NDC) has pointed out that 2014 marks the death centenary of a pioneering Dravidian leader who had his roots in the Nilgiris.

    Stating that not many are aware of this, NDC Director Dharmalingam Venugopal has in a statement issued here on Wednesday pointed out that Pandit Iyothee Thass (1845-1914), who was born in Coimbatore, was brought up in the English household of George Harrington in Ooty. His father worked for the Harringtons. Thass was originally named Kathavarayan.

    Tamil scholarThass became a well known Siddha practitioner and Tamil scholar with expertise in the traditional knowledge on astrology and palm-leaf manuscript reading. In 1870, Thass founded Adhvaidhananda Sabha in Ooty. In 1891, he established an organisation called the Dravida Mahajana Sabha, and organised the first conference at Ooty. In that conference, 10 resolutions were passed including the one on enacting a criminal law to punish those who humiliated untouchables, creating separate schools and providing scholarships for matriculation education for untouchable children; providing employment for educated untouchables, and representation for untouchables in District Boards and Municipal Boards.

    In 1898, Thass visited Sri Lanka and converted himself to Buddhism under the influence of Colonel Olcott of Theosophical Society and founded ‘The Sakya Buddhist Society’ at Royapettah, Madras. In 1907, Thass launched his journal ‘Oru Paisa Tamilan’ as an organ of this organisation.

    After a year the name was changed to ‘Tamilan’. It was edited, published and owned by Thass. The average circulation of the weekly was 500. The ‘Tamilan’ is considered the most renowned journal in Dalit print history because of its rich content and ideology.

    In 1881, when the colonial Government planned to carry out the second census, Thass gave a memorandum to the Government requesting that the people of depressed classes in Tamil speaking land should be considered as Adi-Tamilar and not as Hindus.

    Thass died in 1914. The institute for Siddha Research in Chennai is named after him.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by Special Correspondent / Udhagamandalam – November 13th, 2014

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    November 13th, 2014adminBusiness & Economy, Nature, Records, All


    The cultivation period of the fish, which is considered an alternative variety to shrimp, was brought down from one year to barely seven months

    The Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA), Chennai, in collaboration with Nagayalanka-based progressive farmer has scripted a success story by bringing down the cultivation period of Gold Mullet (Liza Parsia) and Grey Mullet (Mugil Cephalus) fish with the help of ‘formulated feed’.

    The feed was developed by the CIBA and tested for the first time in Nagayalanka in Andhra Pradesh in the country. The cultivation period of the fish, which is considered an alternative variety to shrimp, was brought down from one year to barely seven months, drawing the attention of the worried shrimp farmers.

    On Wednesday, CIBA Principal Scientists K. Ambasankar and J. Syama Dayal came with up their findings following harvesting of the mullet species on an acre of pond here.

    The seed grown in the pond was collected from estuary and brackish water canals.

    “Findings of our research on cultivation of the spices indicate disease free and high rate of survival of the seed, apart from very low input cost,” Mr. Syama Dayal told The Hindu. However, the CIBA scientists experimented on these two species in their quest to come out with alternative to the shrimp, which was driving the farmer into irreparable loss in recent years.


    “The experiment on Liza Parsia and Mugil Cephalus in abandoned ponds where earlier shrimp was cultivated is a way for those failed to reap profits in shrimp cultivation. Farmers have already begun slowly inquiring about details such as input cost,” said Mr. Ambasankar.

    Beyond expectations

    According to Raghu Sekhar who cultivated the fish in his pond, growth of the mullet species was beyond expectations, wooing other farmers to try their luck. “No disease is found during the seven-month cultivation period, withstanding changes in the weather and the soil of the pond,” added Mr. Sekhar.

    Given the market value for value added to the Mullet Roe (egg) of the species, European countries and Japan are importing it in a large scale.

    On the other hand, the CIBA was engaged in developing seed of the mullet species by the end 2016, according to scientists.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Vijayawada / by T. Appala Naidu / Nagayalanka – November 13th, 2014

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