The building is now being used as a telephone exchange. | Photo Credit: M. Sathyamoorthy
The inspection bungalow built by the British more than a century ago in Kendala, near Selas, from where engineers oversaw the construction of one of India’s first hydroelectric systems, still stands today. Though the main inspection bungalow is in a dilapidated condition, it continues to function as a telephone exchange, where most visitors fail to appreciate its role in the history of the Nilgiris.
The building still possesses a great amount of charm, with the teak roofs and wooden floors of the building still standing strong. Apart from the main inspection bungalows, the smaller buildings, believed to be staff quarters and also stables for horses still remain, although they have fallen into a state of extreme disrepair.
The building has been functioning as a telephone exchange for the last decade, with a sign at the top of the entrance of the building, stating its year of construction as 1902, being the only reminder of its historical significance. Venugopal Dharmalingam, the honorary director of the Nilgiris Documentation Center, said that the bungalow overlooking the Kattery waterfalls and the hydroelectric system was known popularly as the “Kattery bungalow.”
“When the dam was being built in the early 1900’s, it would have been used by the British to oversee the construction” he said. The entire project was designed to power the cordite factory in Aravankadu.
“Kattery itself was a popular picnicking spot for the British, and there are old pictures attesting to its natural beauty. Now, the landscape itself is under threat due to the construction of too many resorts and private buildings,” said Mr. Venugopal.
Apart from the main inspection bungalow, there are also a couple of other bungalows nearby built around the year 1906. Though these buildings are in a relatively good condition, they too require maintenance. These buildings are being used as quarters for Cordite factory workers.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / News> Cities> Coimbatore / by Rohan Premkumar / Udhagamandalam – February 24th, 2017
The 65-year-old former STF chief does push-ups on the Marina in Chennai. | Photo Credit: Dinesh Krishnan
But the country’s most famous bandit-catcher still can’t get his wife to read his book
This is not in his book but Veerappan, India’s most notorious bandit, had K. Vijay Kumar, India’s most famous bandit-catcher, who had been on his trail for most of his uniformed life, in his sights on three occasions. Not more than 500 yards away. All Veerappan had to do was squeeze the trigger, and with even a standard issue .303, which can take a target down at 500 metres, Vijay Kumar may not have got to write a book about how he killed the bandit.
Veerappan was a good marksman, Vijay Kumar says at the Police Club in Egmore, Chennai, where he is hours away from launching his book, Veerappan, Chasing the Brigand. At the back of the Police Club, where he stays in Room 108 every time he visits the city, stretches a lawn that now has shamianas erected to serve, as he puts it, “high tea” to the 300 people he expects in the evening. Many of them will be gun-toting buddies from his Veerappan days. The dais is green like the backdrop, which has hills painted over it; in the foreground are male mannequins wearing camouflage combat fatigues and pith hats with leaves sticking out of them.
As he walks me through the programme for the evening, I can’t help mentally picturing one heavily moustachioed policeman chasing another excessively moustachioed brigand—is this quaintly archaic term the right word for someone who killed 124 people?—through 1,200 square kilometres of forests in three States over several years, each taking turns to scope the other through the business end of a gun. The forensic specialist told Vijay Kumar that Veerappan at 52 had the body of a 25-year-old. At 65, the cop looks just as fit.
Vijay Kumar was lucky he lived to tell the tale, unlike some other policemen. He is not superstitious, just lucky. His lucky charm is about as big as an old 25 paisa coin, maybe a little bigger, with the image of the Hindu god, Ayyappa, whose temple he has been visiting from the time he was in college studying Shakespeare, Milton and Thomas Hardy. He pulls it out of his black wallet and shows it to me. He has carried this charm around for as long as he can remember. He got this particular one after he lost a similar one 10 years ago. There have been times when the wallet had no money, but the charm would always be comfortingly there.
Roughly how many times has he visited Sabarimala, I ask. “More than 35 times,” he says unhesitatingly, “maybe 40”. Sometimes he goes twice a year. And does he follow all the procedures? Ayyappa demands a stringent pre-visit regimen. “Yes,” says Kumar. “So you didn’t have a drink to celebrate the night you finally killed Veerappan?” “No,” he says, “I am fairly abstemious. I had a drink much later, maybe two months later. At that time, I was going to Sabarimala.” I consider his response and say, “That certainly qualifies you for sainthood.” He laughs uproariously and shoots it down, “No, hardly!”
Ultimately, when Vijay Kumar closed the file on Veerappan on Monday, October 18, 2004, at 11.10 pm, he did so without exchanging a single word with the bandit who died under the impression that the policeman who kept chasing him was related to MGR’s nephew, a rumour then floating around.
By the count of ballistics experts, in the encounter that began at 10.50 pm and lasted some 20 minutes, 24 policemen fired 338 bullets on the vehicle that carried Veerappan and three members of his gang after they had been lured into the kill area, out of the forest and on to the road at Padi, 12 km from Dharmapuri. Only three bullets found the bandit. Of the three, one went clean through the left eye. Veerappan’s moustache, which spread like a tarantula sitting on his face, remained untouched.
I ask Vijay Kumar why so few bullets found the mark. He says that Veerappan might have been hit early on in the ambush and fallen down even as the other bullets slammed all around him. He should have been killed instantly but he wasn’t. Veerappan was still dying when the policemen yanked open the vehicle door. It was the only face-to-face moment between the two foes. No words were exchanged. No words could be. Veerappan was on the verge of death, his remaining eye already losing focus.
Was there anything he would have told Veerappan had he had the opportunity? It is not exactly superstition, but as long as Veerappan was his target Vijay Kumar had always kept a picture of the bandit at hand to remind him of his mission. He now tells me that he would have told Veerappan that it would be a relief to finally throw away the picture; over the years, it had weighed heavier and heavier, like an albatross.
Being a cop
What was easier, I ask. Killing Veerappan? Or writing a book about it? “Both were equally formidable missions,” Vijay Kumar says, laughing. In fact, the joke in his “immediate circle” of friends is that he took almost as long writing about Veerappan as he took to hunt him down. Vijay Kumar had a version of the book ready two years after the mission, but it then became a protracted struggle. Maybe, he told himself, he was too busy for the book. He says, “You know that Wordsworthian quote? The one about the parent hen? I guess in my case the egg took too long.”
My Wordsworth is rusty, but the picture is vivid. As vivid as the frustration that comes through in the book when the reward on Veerappan’s head touches Rs. 5 crore and yet no one comes forward with information. Picture this:
Police officer: You will get five crore if you can help us catch Veerappan.
Villager: Five crore? How much is that in goats?
Police officer: If one goat costs Rs. 2,500, that would be 20,000 goats.
Villager: What would I do with so many goats? They will be unmanageable. It’s better to hold on to my life.
I ask Vijay Kumar if there is anything he put into the book but took out later because he thought better of it. He thinks, then tells me how one night after eating poha, his stomach started rumbling at one in the morning. When he could bear it no longer, he rushed over and shook his buddy awake and both set out. In the jungle, they always followed the buddy system: each had to look out for the other. The buddy kept watch while Vijay Kumar went to answer the call of nature. After he’d squatted, he realised that the spot he’d picked had elephant dung everywhere. It was too late to go elsewhere and he hoped it would be okay. But almost immediately he heard his buddy hissing insistently, “Aiyaaa! Aiyaa! Yaanai! Yaanai!” (Sir, elephant!) He knew if it was a single elephant, he would be done for, but then, barely a few feet ahead, out of the inky black night, several elephant forms began to emerge like dark mountains on the move.
I probe no further, but I realise the episode had a happy ending because it isn’t in the book.
I ask instead: what does your wife Meena think about your book? He begins to smile. “She hasn’t read it,” he says. He intends to try other means to get her to read it but he isn’t sure he will succeed. She usually can’t get beyond five pages, he says. “If she does finally read your book,” I ask, “will you go to to Sabarimala?” He laughs uproariously again. “Of course, I’ll be happy to go again to Sabarimala but I doubt whether even Lord Ayyappa can make Meena read my book.”
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society / by V. Sudarshan / February 25th, 2017
The PSBB Group of schools celebrated their diamond jubilee on Wednesday in an event where the the history of the school and its journey so far was brought to the fore.
R. Ravichander, Group President (Business & Development) South, YES Bank, who presided over the event, recalled the growth of the school from a thatched roof at the home of the founder Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarathy, with just 15 students, to the institution that it is today with 7,600 students.
“Mrs. YGP will always be the lady of many firsts as she was the first entrepreneur in education,” he said. Mr. Ravichander was a part of the first batch of students at PSBB.
S. Vaidhyasubramaniam, Dean of Sastra University, and another alumnus of the school, donated ₹9 lakh towards a corpus fund for Sastra PSBB Action For Refreshing Knowledge (SPARK).
Speaking at the event, Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarathy, credited the teachers of the institutions for the school’s journey.
A diamond jubilee planner was unveiled by Deputy Dean and Director of the institutions Sheela Rajendraa. Along with it, a logo to commemorate the milestone. A video screening presented some of the notable alumni who passed from the school, a press release said.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Staff Reporter / Chennai – February 23rd, 2017
Prashanth Kota in action at Helios Academy of Marshal Arts in Adyar | Photo Credit: special arrangement
Prashanth Kota promotes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which is based on the philosophy that strength does not guarantee success
People often find their life mission in the school of hard knocks. For Prashanth Kota, there is a literality to this statement.
“There was a point in my life when it was all about wanting to be the biggest and strongest guy in the gym,” recalls Prashanth. This goal ceased to be appealing to Prashanth when he began to train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).
“On the first day, Cary Edwards, my BJJ trainer at First Impact MMA, tossed me around like my size didn’t matter at all,” he says.
Following that ‘walloping’ from his trainer, Prashanth knew in his bones that BJJ would make up a big part of his life. And it has. For, today, Prashanth holds a blue belt in BJJ and has competed in international BJJ tournaments. He has won a silver medal at the national level and a bronze medal at the Central Asian level. BJJ has done much for Prashanth and the most significant lesson it has taught him is that the “conventional big body” is not necessary to succeed in martial arts/ sports. BJJ is not about being the strongest and biggest. It’s about having the right technique, timing and leverage, explains Prashanth.
Driven by the desire to share with others what he has learnt from BJJ, Prashanth started Helios in Adyar.
Affiliated to the Ribeiro Jiu Jitsu Association, Helios trains people for tournaments and also helps them develop strength irrespective of their build. For his students, Prashanth demystifies the complex sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, breaking it into simple steps that could be easily learnt and practised.
For Prashanth, BJJ is a way of life, not just a sport. He calls it the ‘BJJ lifestyle’. The ‘sensei’ says, “Taking up BJJ as my full time job is the best decision I have ever made in my life.” Prashanth can be contacted at 8939115522.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Varsha Saraogi / February 24th, 2017
Srikrishna recieving the Young Achiever award
Did you know that the current World Amateur Snooker Champion is a school student from Chennai?. CE chats with Shrikrishna S on beginning out with tennis and ending up with cue sports
From slamming forehands on the tennis court to potting cue balls at the snooker table, young Shrikrishna S has straddled two different games successfully. The Class 11 student of National Public School is the current World Amateur Snooker Champion, the latest addition to his achievements in a short cue sports career. He was recently awarded the Young Achiever Award by Rotary Club of Madras East, where CE caught up with him for a quick chat.
His foray into cue sports happened by chance. As a child, he was more of a tennis player, but didn’t want to run a lot! He chuckles, and adds. “I chanced upon billiards when I was at the Mylapore Club where I saw my father play. I wanted to give it a try but I was told that children under 12 weren’t allowed in the room.” After some sweet talking, the member-in-charge allowed him to attempt a few balls, which he fortunately potted into the pockets. “After that, they changed the rules and height requirement for me,” he grins.
A 27-foot-long machete or ‘aruval’ manufactured in Thirupuvanam, the town famous for its huge knives, will be the major attraction of the Sivarathri festival in a village near Usilampatti. The showpiece will also promote Thirupuvanam as a serious competitor to Thirupacheti, the town which is even more famous for its ‘aruval’.
Often, these famous knives are preserved in many homes in the southern districts as an heirloom though their sharpness makes them good for use after many years. Thirupuvanam is being sought-after mainly for the huge machetes that are kept as show pieces in temples to redeem vows rather than to be used as tools or weapons.
Thirupachethi, just 10 kilometres away, enjoyed a big reputation even during the pre-Independence days. It was said that the Marudhu Pandiyar brothers, who fought the British, sourced their weapons, knives and spears from there. They are unique in their shape, size and sharpness and the manufacturers say that they never get blunt. Even today, the manufacturers give a guarantee of 20 years for their products.
Predominantly populated by agriculturists, the town was filled with smithies which made machetes in large numbers till about two decades ago. The business which fell drastically thereafter is now seen to be picking up. There was a period when police cracked down on this region and imposed restrictions on their manufacture, as many criminals who had used ‘aruvals’ for fights and murders confessed to having bought them from here.
S Nagendran, the vice-president of Vishwakarma Association, of blacksmiths, says that Thirupuvanam aruvals have gained a name for themselves now. At present, the town has 15 smithies like Thirupachethi. They also make agricultural implements like spades, digging bars and knives in a variety of sizes. But now they have been asked to restrict the size of their aruvals to 2 feet or less to ensure that they are not misused by criminals. The aruvals are made manually by heating steel to red hot condition and hammering the blade to make it sharp. A single aruval has to be heated about 12 to 15 times to be shaped into a weapon.
Satish Kumar who is a third generation manufacturer of aruvals, is making the 27-foot-long aruval for a customer from Usilampatti in Madurai. The machete weighs 250 kilograms and costs about Rs 40,000 at Rs 1,500 a foot. The biggest this town had made was an 18-foot-long machete last year. Though ordinary weapons are made of steel, these showpieces are made using iron. Around five to ten persons have been involved in making the weapon for the past one week.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Madurai News / TNN / February 24th, 2017
The feat has earned the sensei a Guinness World Records Certificate of Participation
R. Venkatesan has won gold medals at various international taekwondo championships, but he is extremely proud of his recent achievement, because it’s different from most other achievements he had managed before and it has a connection with Guinness World Records. Recently, Venkatesan, secretary, OMR Taekwondo Academy, won the Guinness World Records Certificate of Participation for exhibiting face kicks for more than a thousand times in an hour at a taekwondo kick tournament.
While receiving the award at a recent function, the Sensei, who specialises in karate, taekwondo, boxing, kick-boxing, kobudo and silambam, said, “From my childhood, I have wanted to master various martial arts, especially taekwondo. I have learnt yoga and meditation too. Taekwondo develops strength, speed, balance, flexibility, stamina, self-control and self-conditioning and improves concentration.”
According to Venkatesan, this Korean martial art combines combat and self-defence techniques with sport and exercise.
The taekwondo kick tournament was organised by J. R. International TKD Academy, Andhra Pradesh last year, and around 50 contestants from across the country, including 12 from Tamil Nadu, together exhibited face kicks more than 58,000 times.
The Sensei has learnt the martial art from John Alexander, secretary general, Association of Tamil Nadu Taekwondo, and his students have won gold, silver and bronze medals at several tournaments including the 17th State Taekwondo Championship conducted at the SDAT Ground in Tiruvallur in January 2017; the 36th National Taekwondo Championship conducted in Dehradun in November 2016; and Speed Power International Taekwondo Championship conducted in Malaysia in 2015.
“I wish my students represent the country at the Olympics,” says Venkatesan, who is an executive committee member of Association of Tamil Nadu Taekwondo and can be reached at 9841306396 and 9500020300.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by T.S. Atul Swaminathan / February 17th, 2017
It’s 1:30 pm. There is a flurry of activity at the Corporation Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Saidapet. As we enter the administrative cabin, head master Lyla greets us and enthusiastically says, ‘Let me call her!’ She sends news of our arrival to Sivakami, the Class 8 student who has been selected the second time for an educational trip — this time to Germany. She looks like any teenager would, but as we chat, we discover that the little girl’s ambitions and goals are deeper than what meets the eye.
This is the second time 13-year-old Sivakami has emerged the winner in the Elocution competition, ‘Wings to Fly’, organised by Rotary Club of Madras East. Reminiscing her first international educational trip to Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, Sivakami says it was a life-changing experience. “I was surprised when I won last year. I was in awe of their culture, especially the respect they give to every language. I like how they don’t mix languages. For instance, Tamil and Malay aren’t mixed with English, unlike our ‘Tanglish’ here… I wish we could learn to speak that way too! Also, the place is extremely clean; why can’t we maintain our place like that?” she says.
This year, the final competition, conducted by the club along with Goethe Institut and Greater Chennai Corporation, was themed ‘Embrace Our Rivers’. Sivakami said she felt a strong urge to protect and preserve the water bodies. “It was my father who wrote the draft of the speech for me…but the topic was extremely relatable. and I was able to add several anecdotes,” she shares.
Excited and curious about her trip to Germany in July, she says, “I have heard that the water bodies there are maintained with utmost care. I want to see how they do it. I also want to observe and analyse the public contribution towards conservation and preservation.” To her, this will be the biggest take away from the trip. “Once I am back, I will lend a hand to preserve our rivers!” she smiles.
Crediting her parents, teachers, and friends for her success, she says that she has been lucky to have their constant support. “Even if I miss classes for competitions, my teachers don’t discourage me. They say that this is the time for me to achieve. My parents also push me to give my best. My friends have been extremely patient when I rehearse my speech with them a number of times. They don’t get bored, but keep giving suggestions,” she beams.
Apart from elocution, music, writing and storytelling are Sivakami’s other interests. “I enjoy singing and I love storytelling. I come up with my own stories and improvise according to the expectations of my audience,” says the NCC junior leader. A n all-rounder, the 13-year-old wants to serve the society and lead it to a ‘better future’.
So, how does she aim to do that? “I want to become the Chief Minister! That’s my ambition. I’ve always wanted to lead people and bring about a change. I believe that success comes when you observe and listen to things around you. This way, you understand a lot and direct your followers in the right path. As CM, my focus will be on providing quality education and improving the sanitary standards in villages. I would also arrange for counselling and make people realise these are important causes,” she says.
Talking more about her other goals, she says that if not CM, she would become a doctor. “I want to serve the society. I want to spread awareness about diseases through proper counselling so that the people don’t panic,” she smiles.
As she leaves for her class, she adds, “I think dreaming of serving the place where I was born isn’t a big thing. In fact, I feel it is our duty to do so.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Roshne B / Express News Service / February 20th, 2017
The last coal-fired X class engine of the Nilgiris Mountain train came to Coonoor Railway Station from Mettupalayam on Friday. | Photo Credit: M_Sathyamoorthy;M_Sathyamoorthy –
‘The engines are almost a century old and part of the tradition of NMR railway’
The last of the coal-powered steam engines operational along the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) route have been retired and are to be exhibited to the public at the Udhagamandalam and Coimbatore railway stations.
Speaking to The Hindu, Divisional Railway Manager of Salem Division, Hari Shankar Verma, said that the coal-powered steam engines had far outlived their technological relevance, and that the remaining two engines still in operation will be exhibited to the public at the two stations. “We had two options, either to sell the engines for scrap or to preserve them as a memento of the NMR’s long history. We are gifting one engine to the people of Ooty,” said Mr. Verma to reporters.
Engine number 37384, which is the older of the two engines, is to be exhibited at Udhagamandalam. K Natarajan, a heritage railway enthusiast and founder of the Heritage Steam Chariot Trust, said that the “X” Class locomotives, built at the Swiss Locomotives and Machine Works factory in Switzerland, was introduced sometime between 1917 and 1925.
“The coal-powered engines are almost a century old and are part of the tradition of the NMR railway. All the newer engines are oil-powered locomotives. The railways should have preserved this important part of the NMR history, as the engine to be retired in Udhagamandalam was still operational,” he said.
He said that railway enthusiasts across the world were prepared to pay good money to enjoy the experience of the old coal-powered locomotives, and that with the retirement of the engines, an important remnant of the NMR history will be lost forever. However, railways officials said that operating the oil-powered locomotives was the only viable solution to pull coaches up the steep hills as the quality of the coal used to power the older locomotives has gradually decreased over the years. It is also said that the older locomotives increased the chances of forest fires.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by Rohan Premkumar / Udhagamandalam – February 18th, 2017
Former director of Centre for Plant Molecular Biology at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University S Sadasivam on Wednesday released a book – “Genetically Modified Crops: A Scientist’s Perspective.”
The book aims at creating awareness about the advantages of GM crops among people and farmers.
President of Association Of Biotechnology Led Enterprises- Agriculture Focus Group (ABLE-AG), P Murali released the book, and the chairman of Rasi Seeds, M Ramasami, received the first copy.
Speaking about his book, Sadasivam said, “I was in academia and research from 1964 to 2011. Teaching was my passion and research was my interest. However, popularisation of science was the third dimension in my career.”
He further said, “Since 1964, I have participated in radio programmes discussing science and technology. I have authored six books so far. This one too is an attempt to make people aware about the benefits of genetically modified crops.”
The book is short and has four chapters. The book is written in Tamil so that it can reach out to the local farmers. The book talks about gene, theories of evolution and the introduction of genetically modified crops. “It is not a textbook material. It is written as a conversation between a scientist and a common man,” said Sadasivam.
Vouching for genetically modified crops, Sadasivam said that a group of 107 Nobel Laureates have recently passed a resolution that GM crops are safe. “There are regulatory bodies and the central and state governments have deeply accessed the advantages and consequences of GM crops. We need more research in the area of GM crops to address the growing needs of food and grain shortage,” said Sadasivam.
ABLE-AG has published Sadasivam’s book. Executive director of ABLE-AG Shivendra Bajaj said, “About two-three states have stalled research on GM crops. While others have not banned it, they are either positive about it or are evaluating the pro and cons.”
Ramasami said that Bangladesh has been cultivating Bt Brinjal for more than three years now. “Bangladesh has acquired all the data from India’s research and has begun cultivating it,” said Ramasami. The only GM crop cultivated in India is Bt Cotton .
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Coimbatore News / by Adarsh Jain / February 15th, 2017