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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    Chennai :

    Integral Coach Factory (ICF) on Thursday rolled out the first two of the Military AC II tier coaches for the defence personnel as part of an order tendered by the Ministry of Defence. ICF General Manager Ashok Kumar Agarwal and  Major General Umamaheshwar, VSM, Additional Directorate, General Strategic movement Integrated HQ, Ministry of Defence( Army) flagged off the coaches in an event held at ICF.

    ICF had bagged the order in March last year to supply 40 specially designed Tier II air conditioned coaches and 32 Military Langer (pantry) cars.


    Speaking at the launch, ICF GM, Ashok Kumar Agarwal said, “These coaches have more or less the same features of a standard AC two tier coach and are designed to accommodate the comfort level of troops who are always on the move.”

    One of the main features of the coaches include enhanced water storage capacity so as to help the troops in long time sustenance without supplies. Besides this, all the lighting is of LED leading to less power being consumed and an additional diesel generators in the pantry units to give power to one additional coach beside it.


    Apart from these, minor enhancements such as RO plant with dispenser, bio retention plants for the toilets, charging point on each berth, LED based lighting, Public Address system, Mini office cabin, chest for storing documents,additional inter vehicular coupler for connecting power car are adde  to the standard configuration of AC TIER II coaches, ICF officials said.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service / February 05th, 2016

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    An inscription found at the Mahamaham tank. -Photo : special Arrangement

    An inscription found at the Mahamaham tank. -Photo : special Arrangement

    The inscription has it that it was composed by Guru Rajacharya of Kumbakonam, who was the brother of Guru Ragavendra of Brindhavan.

    As Kumbakonam is gearing up for the Mahamaham, discovery of a rare inscription throws light on the Mahamaham tank plan and the arrangement of 20 ‘theerthas’.

    “I found inscription in Sanskrit on the outside wall of the sanctum sanctorum of the Brahma Theerteswara temple on the bank of the tank. Probably this is the first inscription giving plans of a temple tank,” historian Kudavayil Balasubramanian told The Hindu.

    He said the Brahma Theertheswara temple is one of the sixteen temples built by Raghunatha Nayakkar under the guidance of Maha Pradani Govinda Dikshithar in the 17thcentury. He had also renovated the steps on all sides of the temple leading to ‘theerthas’ .

    “The ‘theerthas’ listed in numerical order in the inscription will help the devotees find their exact location,” he says. According to the inscription, ghats leading to the tank have been identified as various ‘theerthas’ and they are similar to the ghats in the Ganga river at Kasi.

    “In the past, the tank would be full during Mahamaham. But in the early 1900s, wells symbolising various ‘theerthas’ were dug and the water level in the tank was kept very low to prevent drowning of devotees,” said Mr Balasubramanian.

    Raghunatha Nayakkar also built the sixteen Dhana Mantapas in front of the shrines.

    The inscription has it that it was composed by Guru Rajacharya of Kumbakonam, who was the brother of Guru Ragavendra of Brindhavan.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by B. Kolappan / Chennai – February 03rd, 2016

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    Chennai  :

    Archana Ramasundaram, a 1980-batch IPS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, has been appointed director general of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), a paramilitary organisation guarding the country’s eastern frontiers with Nepal and Bhutan. She is the first woman IPS officer to head SSB since its inception in 1963 and will continue in that post till her retirement on September 30, happy to head next year. “I am happy to head SSB and want to use my years of experience to improve the force,”Ramasundaram told TOI over phone.

    In 2014, she was caught in a tug-of-war between the Centre and Tamil Nadu government when the UPA government was in power. She was selected as additional director of CBI in Delhi after clearance from the state government. But the state did not relieve her from TN police after she was selected for the CBI post. Ramasundaram, who has replaced B D Sharma, another official from her batch, who retired from service on January 31, was director of National Crime Records Bureau in New Delhi since June last year. The Union government had upgraded the post of director NCRB to that of director general of police to accommodate her in that post.

    In 2014, based on instruction from Centre to join duty at CBI headquarters, she sent a letter to the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu and shifted to Delhi in 2014. This resulted in her suspension by the state government on charges that she deserted office. The Centre, last year, quashed her suspension. Though the state moved the Delhi high court on appeal, the petition was dismissed.

    Ramasundaram, known among her colleagues as an upright official, is the senior most IPS officer in Tamil Nadu cadre at present. The pre sent DGP of Tamil Nadu Ashok Kumar, is two years junior to her. She hails from Ballia in Uttar Pradesh and is married to S Ramasunda ram, a 1979 batch IAS officer from Tamil Nadu, who took voluntary retirement from service in 2011.

    There are five paramilitary forces SSB, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Border Security Force (BSF) Central Industrial Security Force and Indo Tibetan Border Police and none has ever had a woman chief.

    Besides Ramasundaram, IPS officers, K Durga Prasad and K K Sharma, have been appointed directors general of CRPF and BSF, respectively.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / TNN / February 02nd, 2016

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    A calendar anyone interested in the city’s past might like to possess is ‘Madras Then…’ brought out by the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation with a dozen old pictures of Madras taken in, I would say, the early 20th Century. There are certainly a couple of pictures in it I’d like to use in this column when the occasion rises, because in one case the view presented is of buildings well-known but no longer visible in this fashion, and, two, the scene and its venue no longer exist. Meanwhile, however, with all the recent references to houses on Eldam’s Road, a third picture caught my attention and I present today The Grove, the Foundation’s present home and once the home of Sir C.P., though its main entrance was then on what was Mowbray’s Road.

    Once woodland, the land at the junction of Eldam’s Road and Mowbray’s Road (T.T.K. Road) had belonged to John Bruce Norton, the eminent lawyer. It then passed into the joint hands of Bhashyam Aiyangar, Madhava Rao and Chentsal Rao. They, in turn, sold the three acres and a small house in it for Rs. 30,000 to Venkatasubba Aiyar in 1882. Venkatasubba Aiyar had only one child, Seethalakshmi Ammal, and she was CP’s mother. In 1885-86, Venkatasubba Aiyar developed the small house into a mansion, The Grove, and gifted it to his only daughter. She in turn left it to her only son, CP.

    Two outstanding features of the house were its magnificent, eight-pillared portico and its 16-pillared central hall, a kalyanakoodam (wedding hall). In this marriage of Occidental and Oriental styles, the former’s pillars were of masonry, the latter’s included 12 of Burma teak and four of African ebony. Steel girders were imported from England for the roof of the kalyanakoodam and the ceiling for the Venetian marble-floored library came from Belgium. Over the years, the mansion was expanded considerably, but leaving its main features untouched.

    A description of the property adds, “The grounds were lovingly tended… Two-century old rain trees and the rare African baobab trees were carefully looked after. Well manicured lawns were laid. Exotic plants defied the searing Madras summers to perform botanical miracles. Fountains and marble statues sprouted at the most unexpected spots. A lovely naked marble maiden sprang up bang in front of the portico. At the main entrance to the property a grand pair of wrought iron gates was erected. Needless to say, the long driveway (from the gates to the portico) was simply spectacular…”

    It was in these grounds that CP exercised his passion for riding while his numerous dogs yapped at the heels of whichever horse he was on. These gardens had a fascinating story to tell. When Annie Besant was interned in Ooty over her allegedly seditious writing in New India, CP took it upon himself to edit the paper and bring it out. If he had edited the paper from his house, he ran the risk of the house being confiscated under the prevailing laws of sedition. So he placed chair and desk under the shade of a divi divi tree in the garden and put up a notice saying the spot was the editorial office of New India. It was an arrangement that continued till Annie Besant returned to Madras.

    But for all the magnificence of The Grove and its gardens, its lavish parties and the hosting of the eminent, its pride was its library. In the 1930s, it was described by a knowledgeable visitor as “one of the finest private libraries in India”. It had 50,000 books, numerous paintings and antiques. Situated on the first floor of The Grove, in a room that could have done with more windows, it was a meticulously arranged facility that always overwhelmed visitors.


    When the postman knocked …

    With a whole heap of mail, the rest of this week’s column is devoted to what the mail, snail as well as space, has brought in.

    *Pointing out an error in my recollection of G. Subramania Aiyar (Miscellany, January 18) S. Raghavan writes: “The story states that Mr. Aiyar was among those who started The Aryan School (which was the precursor to Hindu High School). Hindu High School (or its precursor), to the best of my memory, was founded in 1852 and the school celebrated the centenary in 1952 with the construction of a Centenary Block. Mr. Aiyar was born around 1855, I wonder as to how he could have been among those who started Hindu High School. Of course, if he had started The Aryan School sometime in the 1880s and this was later merged with Hindu High School (which obviously was an older school) the story may be acceptable but in that event Mr. Muthiah ought to have clearly stated thus (instead of stating “now Hindu High School” in parenthesis). The story gives the impression that Hindu High School was started by Mr. Aiyar (as Aryan High School) which is definitely not true.” This was a case of error compounding error. My original source was an article in The Hindu of April 26, 1998 which stated: “He was appointed headmaster of the Anglo-Vernacular School, Triplicane. Later, he started the Aryan (now Hindu) High School.” What I did not read carefully enough was a correction to this from V. Subramanyan, grandson of G. Subramania Aiyar. He wrote to the author of the original article as follows:

    “No doubt G.S. Aiyar was appointed the Headmaster of the Anglo-Vernacular School (now the Hindu High School), Triplicane. Disagreeing with some of the committee’s policies, he came away and in 1888 founded Aryan High School (now Kellett High School), Triplicane. He admitted to the school all boys regardless of caste.” In further clarification, may I add, a Tamil and a Telugu Padasala in Triplicane were founded in 1852 and merged in 1860 as the Triplicane Andhra Dravida Padasala. This was later renamed Anglo-Vernacular High School of which G.S. Aiyar became Headmaster in 1879. This School was renamed as Hindu High School in 1897.

    *It’s all still a bit confusing, those houses on Eldam’s Road that I wrote about on January 4 and 25. V. Ramnarayan tries to explain it to me in these words: “Soundarya was the large house next to Sri Sundar(where P.S. Ramachandran (PSR) lived) in a compound measuring 28 grounds or an acre or so.Soundarya was in a separate compound to the left of Sri Sundar. There were two houses, Sundar andParvati, in one compound, and Soundarya was a different property. It was much bigger, too.Soundarya had belonged to Justice P.R. Sundara Iyer, Ramachandran’s father. M.D. Seshadri Iyengar had bought it for about Rs. 60,000. P.S. Ramachandran’s eldest brother P.S. Swaminathan owned Soundarya Nursery, and I am sure it was no coincidence that it shared a name with the Eldam’s Road house. Sri Parvati still stands in its original form, maintained by Lakshmi Venkataraman, daughter of P.S. Venkataraman (PSR’s elder brother), a building contractor. At Sri Parvati is an art gallery run by Lakshmi. Sri Sundar was developed into flats many years ago.

    “When I was growing up, both Sundar and Parvati were with our extended family (and still are), whileSoundarya was already owned by M.D. Seshadri Iyengar. It had belonged to an Englishman, and I have all along believed that P.R. Sundara Iyer bought it from him and that his sons sold it to MDS. However, I was once told, that P.R. Sundara Iyer sold it to an Englishman who sold it to MDS.

    “When P.R. Sundara Iyer’s sons ventured into business and went bankrupt, only the minor son P.S. Ramachandran’s properties had been protected under the law, according to family lore. That is howSundar and Parvati were saved. PSR is said to have helped his brothers, including the eldest, P.S. Swaminathan, who then started Soundarya Nursery, which became a success.”

    *Joshua Kalapati, the chronicler of Madras Christian College, writes in connection with my reference to Prof. Edward Ross and S.R. Ranganathan, the Father of Library Science (Miscellany, January 4), “Ross was an outstanding teacher of both head and heart. He was Seventh Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos of Cambridge University in 1904. Having studied Statistical Theory under the famous Professor Karl Pearson in the University of London, Ross sought to introduce all these pioneering ideas in the Mathematics Department of Madras Christian College, where he taught between 1907 and 1933. Ross not only enabled Ranganathan to do his B.A. in 1909, but Masters as well, although he was the only one student in the Mathematics Department. It was a blessing because Ross taught his brilliant pupil, as it is said, ‘in the corridors, in his flat and all around’. Because Ranganathan lived in the First Student Home of the College, more interaction was possible. There was also a connection with the great mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who also admired the genius of Ross. Robert Kanigel, Ramanujan’s biographer, narrates that when he was very ill, Ramanujan placed two large notebooks stuffed with Mathematics into the hands of a close associate, saying, “If I die, please hand over to Professor Singaravelu Mudaliar from Pachiappa’s or to Edward Ross of Madras Christian College’.”

    *From Australia comes another communication from A. Raman. Sending me the title page of Materia Medica – Madras published by the Government of Madras, he points out that the correct name, as indicated on this page, is Mohideen Sheriff and not Moodeen Sheriff as variously stated (Miscellany, January 4). Dr. Mohideen Sheriff’s classic comprises six volumes.

    *A.V. Mukuntharajan, responding to my request for more information on P.M. Adikesavalu Naicker (Miscellany, January 18) wonders whether he is the same person who was known as Sardar Adikesavalu Naicker who lived opposite the railway gate in Washermenpet. The title ‘Sardar’, he thinks, was bestowed by Mahatma Gandhi. Which only makes me want to know more about this leader.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus> Society> Madras Miscellany / by S. Muthiah / January 30th, 2016

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    Coimbatore :

    For Arunachalam Muruganantham, the year 2016 couldn’t have started off any better. It was only a few days back that he got to know that he had been honoured by the Portugal government as Indian Business Leader of the Year.

    Even before congratulatory messages for the recognition were still pouring in, Muruganantham’s mobile phone has gone again into a non – stop ringing mode. The 52 year old native of Coimbatore, acclaimed for invention of low cost sanitary napkins, has been chosen by the union government for Padma Shri award 2016.”I am not usually excited by awards. But Padma Shri is an exception,” says Murugantham who had just landed in Coimbatore on Monday evening after a tour of various cities addressing a variety of audiences ranging from students to businessmen.

    “The award will be an inspiration for youth, especially engineering students. Rather than helping me, the award might inspire another Muruganantham to emerge,” he said.

    He hopes that youth would start realizing that social activism doesn’t always mean getting on to the streets and serving the poor. Youth, especially engineering graduates, should realise that social change and improving someone’s life could also be done through an invention, using engineering,” Muruganantham tells.

    There are lakhs of youth without jobs. They should identify a social cause and be a solution provider by coming up with more machines like the low cost sanitary napkin making machine,” he said.

    The Coimbatore based social entrepreneur, who was listed by TIME magazine as one among world’s 100 most influential persons in 2014 was born in a poor family of handloom weavers in Coimbatore.He lost his father at a young age and had to drop out of school at the age of 14 years.

    Soon after marriage, he realized troubles of women during menstruation after marriage, he started experimenting with sanitary pads to help his wife. When women members of his family grew tired of being test subjects, he started experimenting with sanitary pads on himself. SSubsequently, he came up with a machine to make those low cost sanitary pads and sold his first napkin making machine in 2004 in Madhubani in Bihar. tnnIn the decade since then, he has sold 2500 machines across India and abroad as NGOs and corporates saw the value in promoting the machine for better personal hygiene among women.

    I am not inclined to display the Award in my house or call myself Padma Shri,” says Muruganantham signing off with the note that he has a long way to go to ensure that every single woman in the country uses a sanitary napkin.

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / TNN / January 27th, 2016

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    Gastroenterologist T.S. Chandrasekar, the founding chairman of MedIndia Hospital, said he felt honoured to be chosen for the award for his medico-social work in the field of gastroenterology.

    Dr. Chandrasekar, who has several firsts to his credit including the Braille chart on hygiene that he created last year, is also the founder of the MedIndia Charitable Trust. A graduate of Madurai Medical College, Dr. Chandrasekar also founded the department of medical gastroenterology at Coimbatore Medical College.

    His hospital is affiliated to the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University to offer post-doctoral fellowship programme in advanced GI endoscopy.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / January 26th, 2016

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    Madurai :

    Two students from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Narimedu, in Madurai will be the participants from Chennai region (Tamil Nadu – Pondicherry) to attend the first ever “Seema Darshan” to be held on the Indo-Pakistan border at Wagah in Punjab on January 26.

    The Seema Darshan programme is being organised by the Ministry of Human Resource Development for school students. Students from Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas are eligible to participate in the programme which aims at encouraging students to witness soldiers in action on the borders.

    M Ponni and K Bala Ramadas, both 11th,  12th standard students, edged out students in other parts of the state. They left for Delhi on Saturday evening. The 50-year-old Kendriya Vidyalaya-Narimedu has been having NCC programmes for the last 12 years. The NCC cadets are given intensive training.

    Principal of the school C Muthiah said the two students had proved their prowess in firing, attended over 25 camps and had NCC-A certification. The programme aims at selecting 60 students from 32 Kendriya Vidyalayas and 28 Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti schools throughout the country. They will participate in the flag hoisting ceremony to be held on the Wagah border during the 67 th Republic Day celebrations and will have the honour of spending some time with the Border Security Forces (BSF) in their camps.

    The two students said they were excited about this journey and that their school and parents had helped them achieve this. G S Murugan, NCC officer of the school, said the two students had brought laurels to the institution.

    source: / The Times of India/ News Home> City> Madurai / TNN / January 18th, 2016

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    January 24th, 2016adminAmazing Feats, Education, Leaders, Records, All

    She hails from a family of educationists and is married to one. So, it was only natural that Shima Sendhil, who spent more than a decade in the US, came back to the country to help with the family run educational institution.


    The director of Rathinam Educational Institutions tells us, “I hail from a remote village in Ernakulam, Kerala and my father was a headmaster of a school there. We moved to the US, when I was just 15 years old. After completing my studies in the University of Florida, I worked for a private concern as a programmer for five years. I moved to Coimbatore to take over the family business after the stint. When my husband heard the news about the award, he was quite excited. He asked me to consider this achievement as a motivation to take up many more programmes for the benefit of students.”

    Shima has been voted as one of the #100Women Achievers of India in the category of education by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. “I wasn’t even aware of the fact that my name was nominated in the list. It was only when the Ministry asked for my profile that I believed the news was true. A lot of credit goes to my husband for being a pillar of support.”

    When it comes to education, Shima ensures that she doesn’t leave any stone unturned as far as benefiting her students are concerned. “We have associated with many corporate companies to provide skill-based training to our students, through their CSR activities. The activities include training in electrical work, plumbing, IT and even costume designing. The idea is to make our students more employable.”

    Shima says that her five-year-stint in the US has helped her pick many tricks of the trade and implement them back home in Coimbatore. “For instance, we have upgraded many technical aspects in the college and have also begun providing smart classes for students.” This apart, Shima has also taken steps to provide scholarships to underprivileged students. “We have also been undertaking tree plantation drives, helmet awareness campaigns and providing support to the needy in the times of crises, like the Nepal earthquake and Chennai deluge. We are now envisioning a waste-free campus in 2016 by which we intend to reuse plastics and covert food waste into gas & thus, use negligible resources from outside. This apart, we have a plethora of new activities in the pipeline, focusing on women.”

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Coimbatore / P . Sangeetha, TNN / January 17th, 2016

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    When Latha Sundaram got a letter from the consultants of the Women Achievers Award project by the Ministry of Women & Child Development in the fag end of 2015, she chose to keep it under wraps. Latha won the award for her contribution to “Access to justice and protection of women and their rights” in the #100 women contest to recognize women who are the pride of the nation.

    LathaSundaramCF23jan2016“Frankly speaking, I never expected to win this award. So, I waited until I got the official confirmation from the Union Ministry. Once the list was up, everyone from the Railway fraternity, including the Railway minister Suresh Prabhu congratulated me.” Interestingly, Latha is the first railway employee to win the award.

    53-year-old Latha has been an employee of the Indian Railways for the last 33 years and has undertaken many cleanliness programmes through her charitable trust, Aram Foundation (she has been with the foundation for over four years and is the managing trustee of the same). “As the managing trustee of the foundation and an employee of the Railways, we have been cleaning the Coimbatore Railway station periodically. We have been getting many volunteers from colleges and we are planning to devise a mechanism, through which the cleaning process can be done in a systematic manner. We have also been painting the walls of all stations across Salem division.”

    In the meantime, Latha’s trust also provides many counselling services for children in corporation schools. “These children do not get personal attention and that is what we are trying to focusing upon. We have been conducting self-defense training, cleanliness & traffic awareness programmes, pre-marital counselling and smart class guidance to these children. This apart, we have been providing counselling to prisoners as well, where the primary focus is upon women and children. We are planning to take these programmes to Tiruppur and Erore as well in a phased manner.”

    Though Latha says that she finds it tough to manage her time between social service, Railways and her family, she has absolutely no qualms about it. “There are two things I strongly believe in- to give back to the society as much as possible & never come up with an excuse when it comes to social service. I have always believed that women are extremely crucial to the well-being of the society and for a society to flourish, women have to be empowered. I grew up in a family of teachers and I have seen my parents facing many a hardship to transform their students into good individuals. I intend to follow the same. I am also extremely grateful to my trust and every volunteer who have provided yeoman service to the women and children.”

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> Coimbatore / by P. Sangeetha, TNN / January 17th, 2016

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    January 22nd, 2016adminAmazing Feats, Records, All, Sports, World Opinion

    When B Sakthi, a civil engineering student of SNS College of Technology skipped backwards with his arms clasped at a popular mall in the city in October 2015, little did the audience expect that he would surpass two world records on that day. Sakthi made Coimbatore proud by entering the Guinness Book of World Records for doing the maximum number of backward skips- 46 skips in a minute. (a record hitherto held by Brittany Boffo, an Australian (40 skips in one minute). The result came in last December.


    And now, the 20-year-old has managed to achieve yet another feat. This time around, he has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for doing the maximum backward skips- 25 skips in 30 seconds. This record was also held by Brittany Boffo (20 skips in 30 seconds).

    “I was pretty confident about this feat as I had already achieved the more challenging record for 1 minute. One needs immense amount of stamina to continuously, skip backwards that too with your hands clasped. Moreover, I didn’t make a single mistake when I attempted both feats last year,” he says.

    Right from his childhood, Sakthi had always wanted to do something different. “I used to watch record-making and breaking videos right from my school days and was quite inspired by them. I decided to do backward skips and soon started practising for it after I joined college. I started with endurance exercises including running in the morning for three hours and skipping for three hours in the evening. This apart, I underwent a strict flexibility exercise regimen and a strict diet.”

    Now that he has set two records, Sakthi hopes to complete his studies and provide employment to many others. “My dream of achieving both feats has come true and my parents are elated. I now plan to concentrate on my studies and reach a position where I can dole out jobs to many other youngsters.”

    source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Coimbatore / by P. Sangeetha / TNN / January 17th, 2016

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