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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    The eighth Human Rights Award of Amnesty International was presented to Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director, Madurai-based People’s Watch, at a function organised in Berlin on Monday.

    “Henri Tiphagne’s passionate advocacy in the fight against torture and discrimination in India is exemplary and serves as an inspiration for activists all over the world who are campaigning for human rights,” said Selmin Calıskan, Director of Amnesty International Germany.

    In his address, Mr. Henri said, “We would like to thank Amnesty International for this award, which reminds us that we are not alone in our fight for human rights. India has a vibrant civil society; I am humbled to accept this prize on behalf of all the brave women and men who tirelessly campaign for human rights in India.

    However, the space for civil society activists is shrinking constantly.”

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Madurai / by Special Correspondent / Madurai – April 27th, 2016

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    Chennai  :

    Classic and vintage movies have always been cherished for their grandeur and story line. In a recently conducted public art festival, M Venkatesan, a filmmaker displayed a photo-art-installation of vintage classics including movies like Meera (1945), Ambikapathy (1937), Manthiri Kumari (1950) and Ponmudi (1950). But, do these movies ring a bell? Classic movie buffs can spot the one common feature in a jiffy. Yes, Ellis R Dungan!

    This American film director is renowned for his work in Indian films, predominantly south Indian films. Themed around Dungan’s journey in Indian cinema, Venkatesan said, “All these pictures have been meticulously sourced and restored for the present and future generation to witness the golden era of films.”

    Venkatesan has been interested in film restoration and image preservation film archiving for over a decade now. “My interest in films goes back to when my grandparents idolised MGR and Sivaji on screen. It was always about getting a haircut like Rajinikanth or being an ardent lover like Gemini Ganesan,” he quipped about his venture into the industry.

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    Inspired by the works of Dungan, Venkatesh wanted to restore lost images and visuals of his works. “I have been researching, sourcing, preserving and restoring these images for almost eight years. The man introduced actors like MGR in Sathi Leelavathi and T S Balaiya. Should I say more?” smiles the filmmaker who runs a production house, Sai Media.

    With most of the images from vintage movies lost in time, he explained, “Unlike foreign classic movies, most of our old movies are lost in time and there aren’t many who come forward to restore it. Why? Because we give more importance to foreign movies!” he avers.

    Pointing to the installation of a still from the movie Avvaiyar (1953) starring the legendry K B Sundarambal, he claimed, “This might be the first still photo of an actress outside the sets. In those days, taking stills of actors beyond the film set wasn’t common unlike now and having a still of it is worth a million dollars.”

    Having done a digital version of these images, Venkatesan elucidated, “This is my first attempt in having a hard copy of the installation. I earlier did a digital presentation. But, I feel doing it this way will have a better impact,” he said. “I have spoken to over 42 people in a single day. This shows that everyone is interested in classic cinema and they know it. They just need a medium where they can learn more about it,” stated Venkatesan who considers legendary Indian archivist P K Nair and American director Martin Scorsese as role models in Film Culture & Preservation.

    While most of us think that roping in technicians from abroad and having larger-than-life sets have been a fad only for the last decade, the installations prove us wrong. “If you look closely at the photo of Bhama Vijayam (1934), you’ll be able to spot foreigners who are also a part of the movie,” he explains, “Period movies were taken on a grand scale and the sets are just mind-blowing. All this was always a part of the Indian cinema, it’s only now that people are hyped about how we have an international connection in a movie.”

    Working towards his goal of taking classic cinema to everyone, he said, “My team has been supportive and I want this to be preserved for our future generation to know how rich our techniques were.”

    Notable Projects

    Kadhal Mannan: The King of Romance: The Biography of Late Gemini Ganesan

    Kshama: Written & Directed By Venkatesan M (Special Honorary Screening: Chennai International Film Festival & Other international Festivals)

    Madurai Jallikathu: Written & Directed By Venkatesan M (New York Times Media & Other Channels)

    canada connect

    Participated as the only South Indian Filmmaker/ Producer in the Indo-Canadian Co-Production Delegation 2015 and was part of the team which initiated and signed the Treaty with Canada Government.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Roshne B / April 27th, 2016

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    April 27th, 2016adminEducation, Records, All, Sports, World Opinion

    Chennai :

    Come summer, parents wonder how to keep children occupied. The studious types keep themselves engaged with computers, painting or music classes. Naughty ones prefer to play outdoors.

    The boys keep themselves occupied by enrolling in numerous cricket academies, and many also join swimming clubs. Girls generally take up table tennis or chess and stay away from the heat.

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    This is how CR Harshavardhini was initiated into table tennis at the tender age of seven. She has grown since, and is currently No 1 in the junior category in India. The 17-year old’s self-belief, dedication and hard work have helped her evolve as a table tennis player of repute. Moreover, her decision to train under one coach and one academy has paid rich dividends.

    “At a time when players were shifting from one academy to another once in 2-3 years, I entrusted Harshavardhini to noted coach Ravi Venkatesh. Ravi took personal interest in her game, and has groomed her into a champion,” recalls CK Ravichandran, Harshavardhini’s father.

    Harsha has forged a reputation as a ‘giant killer’ thanks to her attacking play. “She has developed into an attacking player, who is swift on her feet too. She is dedicated and sincere. Her self-belief is a big plus,” says coach Ravi, based at MVM Academy at Maharishi Vidya Mandir School, Chetpet. “Since the academy is in her school, it’s easy to train in the morning and evening. The school management too has been supportive by granting her leave to take part in tournaments,” adds Ravi.

    Harsha says passion for the game is her driving force. “Love for the game has enabled me to climb up the ladder. My solid preparations at the academy have helped beat higher ranked players like Manika Batra, who is ranked No 1 in youth and women.”

    The Class 12 student, who wants to do commerce, has represented India in the cadet category and won gold in the team event at the South Asian Games. Harsha has also won gold for India at Open events in Elsavder and Gautemala.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Ashok Venugopal / April 27th, 2016

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    Old-timers remember Chennai as Madras, a city of horse-drawn carriages, lonely streets and men in suits. A TOI series brings recollections from a mix of neighbourhoods

    Tall white pillars, long ornate windows and spacious porticos – the exquisite Chettinad Palace which stands along the Adyar estuary with its sprawling lawns and vast terraces was amongst the earliest structures that adorned Raja Annamalaipuram (RA Puram) more than 70 years ago. The magnificent mansion stood solitary, overlooking the Adyar river, as its ivory coloured walls made from Italian marble and limestone bespoke the royalty it housed. Built by wealthy businessman Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar from Chettinad, the historic marvel is now part of an industrial and educational neighbourhood that buzzes with activity. “The palace was originally to be built opposite the Taj Connemara hotel on Binny road. But Lord Willingdon, the then governor of Madras requested my grandfather to give the land for constructing a club for women as there weren’t any then,” says MeenaMuthiah, Kumara Rani of Chettinad, and granddaughter of Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar. 

    This led to the purchase of the expansive 104-acre estate in RA Puram where the palatial structure (the main house) and the smaller quarters, a few yards from the big one, were built.

    “Our childhood memories revolve around The Theosophical Society, Kalakshetra campus, Rosary Matric school (then St Thomas Convent), where I studied and, of course, the Adyar river,” says Meena aunty, as she is fondly called.

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    The locality had only a handful of buildings, including Andhra Mahila Sabha, earlier the residence of capitalist Rangachari. “Previously, this neighbourhood was called Adyar. Only in recent times, they renamed it after my grandfather,” says the 81-year-old educationist. Many eminent people have frequented the aristocratic home for high teas and dinners on the lawn.
    “Politicians such as Kamaraj and VR Nedunchezhiyan came here often. Thatha used to call the governors by name,” says Muthiah. “But since we were not allowed into these gatherings, we used to peek through the railing on the balcony and see them.”

    The scenic landscape and lavish interiors served as an ideal backdrop for many movies including M S Subbulakshmi’s Meera. “The stretch where the Image Auditorium stands was a dairy farm then. We used to do kalamkari printing in a small unit, near the farm,” says Muthiah, reminiscing how well-known social reformer Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay bought material from the unit to take to Bengal. The day-long holiday from the convent typically began with a visit to the library in The Theosophical Society and ended with a game of pandi. “We would often stopover at Rukmani Devi’s house too. And it was athai who encouraged me to start a school inspired by Kalakshetra’s cultural values and the discipline of the convent I went to,” says Muthiah, who founded Chettinad Vidyashram in 1986, on 7 acres of the property.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Chennai / Aditi Maithreya / TNN / April 22nd, 2016

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    April 22nd, 2016adminLeaders, Records, All
    A view of the Thana Road, Arasappa Mudali Street junction. It is one of the places that is the parties’ favourite venues for organising rallies.— PHOTO: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

    A view of the Thana Road, Arasappa Mudali Street junction. It is one of the places that is the parties’ favourite venues for organising rallies.— PHOTO: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

    Places like Thana Street and Robinson Park bear witness to momentous occasions that shaped the State’s history.

    K. Umapathy was 27 when heard the former West Bengal Chief Minister, Jyoti Basu, address a rally at Mangollai in the city’s Mylapore area in May 1991.

    A resident of Mylapore’s Warren Road, he used to attend every public meeting at Mangollai. “I cannot forget that meeting. Even as the meeting was on, it was wound up abruptly. Only later did we hear about the news of assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi,” recalls Mr. Umapathy, now a resident of Mudichur on the city’s outskirts.

    Similarly, V. Rama Rao remembers how he used to listen to politicians at Thana Street in Purasawalkam. For R. Ramesh, the arrest of some leaders under provisions of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act after their speech at Bharathi Thidal in West Tambaram remains a vivid memory.

    These places, despite having transformed over the decades, remain political parties’ preferred venues for organising election meetings.

    “Every political party used to organise public meetings on Thana Street. I used to have meals for just 50 paisa at Eswari Mess and then listen to speakers talk from the stage near Saraswathi Theatre. This was in the 1960’s and both the theatre and the mess have gone,” Mr. Rama Rao recalls.

    Mr. Ramesh, a restaurant owner, says Bharathi Thidal was created by members of Communist Party of India. “Former Chief Ministers M.G. Ramachandran and Kamarajar have spoken here.”

    Says historian V. Sriram: “The meeting in Robinson Park in 1948 was a turning point in the history of Tamil Nadu. C.N.Annadurai spoke from here to launch Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam after breaking away from Dravida Kazhagam.”

    It is now known as Arignar Anna Poonga.

    All trade union meetings in the city used to be held at Mayday Park, originally called Napier Park, in Chintadripet and leaders who spoke there went to become top political leaders too, Mr. Sriram adds.

    A news report in The Hindu in March 1957 said that a meeting was organised by the Congress at Bandi Venkatesan Street in Triplicane (near CSI Kellet School) in support of Union Finance Minister and Lok Sabha candidate T.T. Krishnamachari.

    Things have not changed at all as meetings continue to be held there.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by K. Manikandan / Chennai – April 22nd, 2016

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    Statues of the Marudhu Pandiyar brothers — Periya Marudhu and Chinna Marudhu — who were hanged for their revolutionary acts, in Madurai. Photo: S. James / The Hindu

    Statues of the Marudhu Pandiyar brothers — Periya Marudhu and Chinna Marudhu — who were hanged for their revolutionary acts, in Madurai. Photo: S. James / The Hindu

    One of the freedom fighters, Puli Thevar, is considered the first south Indian to rebel against the British rule.

    A documentary, commemorating the efforts of freedom fighters belonging to the Thevar community, was released on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the Marathiya Manila Thevar Munnetra Peravai, an association of the community in Mumbai.

    Titled ‘Contributions of the Thevar Community to the Indian Freedom Movement’, the 20-minute documentary gives a glimpse of the role the community played in the freedom struggle.

    At a function in the Shanmukhananda auditorium, the contributions of five Thevar freedom fighters were commemorated in the presence of over 2,500 members from the community.

    One of the freedom fighters, Puli Thevar, is considered the first south Indian to rebel against the British rule. He fought between the 1750s and late 1760s.

    Varadarajan, founder president of Marathiya Manila Thevar Munnetra Peravai, said: “At a time when women were oppressed, Rani Velu Nachiyar valiantly fought in the 1740s, opposing the taxes levied by the British.”

    The Marudhu Pandiyar brothers — Periya Marudhu and Chinna Marudhu — who were hanged for their revolutionary acts, issued a proclamation of independence from the British in 1801. Another freedom fighter, Pasumpon Muthuramalingam Thevar, was mentioned for the role he played in garnering support from south India for Subhash Chandra Bose.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Mumbai / Alakananda Chatterjee / Mumbai – April 19th, 2016

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    If you have ever been on a heritage walk, you may have wondered about the wealth of information that was shared with you about the city, its history, its people and institutions. Where does all of these come from? On World Heritage Day (April 18), we spoke to four people who conduct these walks to find out.

    If you have ever been on a heritage walk in the city, you may have wondered about the wealth of information that was shared with you about Chennai, its history, its people, its institutions and its organisations.

    Where does all of this come from? Where do those who conduct heritage walks discover interesting nuggets of information about the city’s streets? On World Heritage Day (April 18), we spoke to four people who conduct these walks to find out more.

    Who: Sudha Umashankar and Padmapriya Baskaran. Contact: sudha.ganesha@gmail.com

    What: Walk down Harrington Road

    How: When Sudha Umashankar moved to Harrington Road in 1977, it bore no resemblance to the well laid-out street with coffee shops, a shopping mall and eateries that it is today. “It used to be deserted in the evenings and it was notorious for house break-ins,” she says. For the walk, which was held last month, Ms. Umashankar spoke to residents of the road, went to institutions to collect information and read a lot. “Books about Chennai, publications such as booklets or magazines brought out to commemorate milestones — these are all useful. I did get information online, but corroborated it first,” she says. The trick is to put the whole thing together in a digestible way, spiced with rumours or legends that people can identify with. Her next focus is Marshalls Road — choosing a street with history, a unique facet to it or landmark institutions helps, she says.

    (Pics: In NICA today)

    Who: N.L. Rajah. Contact: nlrajah.advocate@gmail.com

    What: Madras High Court Campus Heritage Walk

    How: “One of the advantages of researching about an institution that has been there for so many years is that every development which has happened over the last century has been recorded in the form of letters, documents and books,” says N.L. Rajah, a senior advocate of the Madras High Court (HC).

    Interactions with people who had worked at the High Court over the years and authoring a book, The Madras High Court: A 150-year Journey from Crown Court to People’s Court, also yielded a lot of information about the history surrounding the High Court; the legal history of the 150-year-old institution and the architectural value, all of which is explained during the walks. “Most of my walks are attended by architecture students wanting to learn about the sprawling premises, which will turn 125 years next year. As a part of the heritage committee of the HC, we speak about the ongoing renovation work and its importance for a structure with so much heritage value,” he says.

    NICA IDs: 153220034/153220035/153220036

    Who: V.S. Sukumar. Contact: 9840622611

    What: Gandhi Nagar Heritage Walk

    How: Having lived at Gandhi Nagar for 65 years, V.S. Sukumar, honorary secretary, Gandhi Nagar Cricket and Sports Club, knows the ins and outs of this area, which is one of the earliest planned layouts of Madras, built just after independence.

    “Several of us have studied in the schools here, played cricket at the cricket club and even gone to the same nursery,” he says. Land documents, publications of the government from the time of the inauguration of the colony, the book South of the Adyar River and information from organisations are all sources of information, he says.

    “There are also old institutions such as Theosophical Society and Kalakshetra nearby which are resources,” he says. Senior citizens apart, residents who have moved in to live in many of Gandhi Nagar’s bungalows-converted-to-apartment-complexes are interested in these 131 acres. The walk is held in December every year, he said.

    Pics:

    Who: Kombai S. Anwar. Contact: anvars@gmail.com

    What: Nawab of Arcot: Walajah Trail

    How: Kombai S. Anwar, who has previously hosted the ‘Nawab of Arcot: Walajah Trail’ and a walk focussing on the Islamic heritage on Mount Road says that he likes to focus on heritage which had been overlooked.

    “We are inundated with heritage structures and monuments in Chennai so much so that many remain unaware of their value. I had a fair idea about these structures but information from books available at the Connemera, Madras University and Mohammeden Public Libraries in Chennai about Muslim monuments as well as the general literature of that period serve as great pointers towards how many of these heritage structures came to be,” he says.

    He recalls that his initial tryst with research into the city’s heritage was as part of the Madras Gazetteers Project. “Visiting the many heritage structures in the city yielded so much information,” Mr. Anwar says.

    Pics: In NICA today

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Zubeda Hamid & S. Poorvaja / Chennai – April 19th, 2016

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    Sivasundari Bose with the original manuscript and published version of her father M.V.S. Ratnavale's catalogue of ancient Tamil poetry. Photo: M. Moorthy

    Sivasundari Bose with the original manuscript and published version of her father M.V.S. Ratnavale’s catalogue of ancient Tamil poetry. Photo: M. Moorthy

    M.V.S. Ratnavale’s catalogue of classical Tamil works is a worthy tribute to the language

    Though technology has made it easier to research ideas and let the mind wander down the lanes of a world where the writer is God, it has become harder to write prose or poetry that could be called a timeless classic.

    At a time when nearly every word has a loaded significance due to the polarisation of discourse, lovers of classical writing can welcome a compendium titled English Catalogue of Ancient Tamil Literature (Palantamizh Ilakkiya Thoguppu).

    The editor of the tome is M.V.S. Ratnavale, (1915-1994), who has meticulously recorded 687 works of Tamil poets from 1000 BC (pre- to post-Sangam period). “My father had no reason to write his book except for his love of Tamil language,” says Sivasundari Bose, who finally put together the tome as a souvenir to celebrate Mr. Ratnavale’s birth centenary on December 25, 2015.

    Bringing the 600 loose typewritten sheets into a modern book format was in itself a challenging task, says Ms. Sivasundari, a Tiruchi-based author who writes in English and Tamil.

    “Outsourcing the typing work to data entry operators was not a good idea, because those who know accurate Tamil typing are hard to find,” says Ms. Sivasundari.

    Born in Tuticorin into a family of 11 children, Mr. Ratnavale was the seventh child of M. V. Shanmugavel Nadar, the founder-chairman of Tamilnad Mercantile Bank. “His father died young, but my grandmother made sure that all the children were educated,” recalls Ms. Sivasundari. Mr. Ratnavale studied History in Presidency College, Chennai and American College in Madurai.

    “He was always interested in doing something more than just earning a living,” says Ms. Sivasundari.

    It was this desire to live differently that led him to start cultivating cardamom on the wild forest slopes of the Western Ghats in his estate ‘Kaantha Paarai.’

    Besides collecting books in English and Tamil, his days were consumed by a passion for numismatics, philately and photography.

    He won a national-level bronze medal for his extensive collection of Indian and British Commonwealth stamps.

    After a peripatetic life, and the marriages of his four children, Mr. Ratnavale chose to settle down in Kallidaikurichi, Tirunelveli district, near the foothills of his estate. “Though my father wasn’t from a literary family, he had developed a taste for Tamil literature, and was equally fluent in English. He used to buy a lot of old books which he thought had to be shared with the world. And he felt the sharing would be best done in English, to reach out to a wider audience,” says Ms. Sivasundari. “That’s when he started taking notes.”

    For over 20 years, Mr. Ratnavale tracked down the works for his catalogue, and kept saving his work on loose sheets of translucent paper.

    “He had time, but he also worked very hard,” says Ms. Sivasundari. “He’d be at his writing desk at 9 a.m. and work till lunch. There’d be a short break, and he’d go back to the manuscript in the evening,” she adds.

    Operating in a pre-internet era in a village where there was nobody he could share his work with or seek assistance from, Mr. Ratnavale’s catalogue, which begins at Aadai Nool and ends at Yellathi, is an example of meticulous research and physical effort.

    “Each entry had to be typed correctly, and corrections had to be made immediately. It is so easy to delete or correct sentences on the computer. But I didn’t realise then what he was doing. Now I see the manual and intellectual effort he had put in to compile the book,” says Ms. Sivasundari.

    After he completed his manuscript, Mr. Ratnavale faced the hurdle common to most first-time authors: finding a publisher. “Up until his 80s, he used to visit me in Tiruchi and go looking for publishers, but nobody was interested,” says Ms. Sivasundari.

    The catalogue has managed to unearth works of greater literary and thematic depth than the ones that have held sway over popular imagination. “We all know Silapathigaram, or Thirukkural or Kamba Ramayanam, but there are others that we haven’t even heard of which are listed in this catalogue,” says Ms. Sivasundari. “Perhaps the lack of annotated texts or ‘urai’ to explain the lingo prevalent at that time could be a reason why they are forgotten now,” she adds.

    Treatises on the need for harmony in music (Isai Nunukkam by Sihandi, 6th century), geriatric medicine (Moopu Choothiram composed by Ambihaananthar, 8th century) and an exhaustive Tamil Thesaurus (Pingala Nigandu by Pingala Muniver, 8th century) are among the little-known texts that are listed out in the catalogue.

    Mr. Ratnavale has also added his own notes on various works to make it more reader-friendly.

    Information from palm-leaf scripts suggests that the poetry of this era was not just about divinity or royalty, but also accounts of daily life, the performing arts, and mercantile activity that saw Tamil traders sailing to ancient Ur and Rome.

    Publishing the book posthumously has made his family happy, but the book deserves to be more widely read, feels Ms. Sivasundari. “Ideally it should be available in university libraries as a key reference work. Tamil is like a treasure chest to some of us. It has a history going back thousands of years, and we should hold on to it because it is a way of life,” she says.

    * * *

    A life less ordinary

    “My father was very liberal with me,” says Ms. Sivasundari Bose, an attitude she attributes to Mr. M.V.S. Ratnavale’s own childhood spent in an extended family that included not just his 11 siblings, but also cousins and relatives. “Children growing up in big families don’t judge others harshly,” she reasons.

    Her own upbringing was marked by open style of parenting, says Ms. Sivasundari. “I was taught everything that my three brothers were taught,” she says. “My father never said ‘you are a girl and you shouldn’t do this.’ So I used to cycle to school, which was considered radical in those days. And because of the wild animals on the estate, I was also taught how to use a gun.”

    Her mother introduced her to lessons in music and dance. “Nothing was forced on us, but we were always told where the limits lay.”

    Ms. Sivasundari is the author of Golden Stag, a trans-generational saga about a community in Tamil Nadu that was published in 2006. In addition to this, she has translated Sangam-era love poems, and also written books in Tamil on more contemporary themes.

    * * *

    Gems from the catalogue

    Some of the rare works listed by Mr. Ratnavale:

    Koothu Nool by Cheyitriyanaar, 6th century, explains theory of dance and drama

    Manthira Nool by Putkaranaar, 6th century, on mystic theology

    Thaala Samuthiram by Bharata Choodamani, 8th century, on the importance of beat in music

    Kaasiyappa Silpam by Pattinathu Adigal highlights excellence in sculpture in 10th century

    – Thiraavaaham Ennooru by Macha Muni, 14th century, about science of metallurgy and alchemy

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / Nahla Nainar / April 15th, 2016

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    April 16th, 2016adminRecords, All, Sports

    First Indian woman jockey crosses social barriers to carve a niche for herself.

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    When Rupa Singh won the Annamalai Plate in the Ooty races on Thursday, it wasn’t her first. Rupa has done it many times before, but every time the city-based jockey wins a race, she feels like crossing an obstacle that society has put in front of her. The 33-year-old, from Velachery, is the only woman jockey in the country and she has won 720 races and seven championships. But it was never an easy road to glory for her. “I suffered a lot of rejection initially because I am a woman. I raced with ordinary and average horses for almost three years.It was only after I won 50 races with average horses that I could ride favourites,” Rupa said.

    For a long time, the owners and trainers did not show confidence in her skill. “My horse kept getting poor odds. The chances were few and it was demoralizing at times,” Rupa said, recollecting her difficult days. The champion jockey, however, concedes that men get an advantage in this sport, because riding a horse demands a lot of strength. “We don’t have the stamina and physical strength that our male counterparts have.We can get the strategy right but it takes immense strength to control a horse and a race. It is only through rigorous training that I have increased my stamina. I have always undergone the same training as the male jockeys,” Rupa, who is a Rajput by birth, pointed out.

    Her family has a history of dealing with horses and Rupa got hooked to it pretty early on in her life.

    “My grandfather Ugam Singh used to train the British Army horses here. My father Narpat and brother Ravinder have both been jockey and trainer. So I used to ride from my school days,” she said.

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    The first woman to make a name in the Indian horse racing circuit was Silva Storai, an Italian. It was Rupa’s father’s wish to see his daughter as the first Indian woman jockey . “Riding a horse is risky and I broke my collar bone and ankle after I had taken up racing as a profession. But in my childhood, I was more scared of my father than the horse,” Rupa laughed. Narpat was like a coach and he told her that she can give up racing after she had done it successfully . “But once I started racing, my passion for the sport grew. As I won a few races, I wanted to show the world that women can be as good as men.”

    Rupa rose to prominence in 2010 when she toppled the favourite in the A-Class race in one of the Madras Classics. “It was special because I was riding an average horse. So when I won the race, even MAM Ramaswamy came to meet me and encouraged me,” said Rupa. But the icing on the cake was the Shikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Championship Cup, which she won in Poland in 2014. “I had raced in Germany , Abu Dhabi and the Netherlands but the Poland race was really special. I never thought I would win riding against famous jockeys of the world,” said Rupa.

    Despite all the success, there’s a tinge of sadness that she hasn’t been able to inspire any other Indian woman to become a jockey . “I feel proud and sad at the same time for my achievements. I am perhaps living with a false hope that I can inspire at least one girl to take up the sport. The family has to be supportive and the girl needs to have a lot of mental toughness to go through the physical grind,” Rupa said, hoping for brighter days.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India/ News Home> City> Chennai / by Shilarze Saharoy / TNN / April 16th, 2016

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    The Bronze Gallery at Government Museum, Egmore Photo: R. Ravindran. / The Hindu

    The Bronze Gallery at Government Museum, Egmore Photo: R. Ravindran. / The Hindu

    Come summer, and museums are spruced up to receive visitors ready to dip into a treasure trove of artefacts. But, museum-visiting must be made part of popular culture to create a generation familiar with its roots, writes SUBHA J RAO

    It’s a searing 39 degrees and Anand Gopinathan’s T-shirt is plastered to his back. But, there’s a smile on his face as he walks from gallery to gallery at the Government Museum, Egmore, water bottle in hand. Kochi-based Anand, 45, is a compulsive museum-goer. He loves history, travels widely and makes it a point to visit the local museum, however small it may be. But, he has his favourites. “The Tower of London… I’ve visited it many, many times,” he says.

    Elsewhere, reluctant children are being dragged from exhibit to exhibit by eager parents and patient teachers, as if to tick something off the bucket list. The children file past objects of exceptional beauty, little registering their historical worth.

    So, how does one get children interested in museums? Or, even still, why must one visit museums? A senior Government employee, who’s served for a while in museums, puts it simply. “Museums are repositories of our history and culture. They bring alive a period that we can’t visit again. More importantly, at a time when the nuclear family has come to stay, oral retelling of history has taken a backseat. You need a museum to put facts in context for children. How else will they know where they come from?”

    Another history-loving official says that museums also help put things in perspective. “We’ve learnt so little of our kings and kingdoms in history books. We call Samudragupta of the Gupta Empire the Napoleon of India. That’s terrible and a disservice, because he lived from 335-380 C.E., while Napoleon (1769-1821) came in much later. Samudragupta was the pioneer. And that’s something a museum will reveal with great clarity,” he says. Similarly, an entire generation looks up to the West for everything, little knowing the treasure trove of talent that we possess from the Indus Valley Civilisation.

    Children enjoy a ride at the toy train at the Regional Rail Museum PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

    Children enjoy a ride at the toy train at the Regional Rail Museum PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

    Part of the problem why museums have become distant spaces, says Arun Devraj, Curator, Regional Rail Museum (RRM), Chennai, is because we have so many restrictions — Don’t touch this. Don’t walk on the grass. Don’t enter this place… Arun’s done away with all of them at the RRM. Children, who usually hold a deep fascination for trains, walk on the tender grass, at least whatever remains of it after being scorched by the summer sun, walk into the bogies in the bogie park, touch and feel the seats and upholstery and come out beaming. They then take a ride in a toy train, passing a park where the attractions are erstwhile coaches, including the iconic blue-white railbus that used to chug along on the Shimoga-Talaguppa section in Karnataka, covering 82 km in a leisurely three hours and 45 minutes.

    Inside the museum are models of bogies on the floor, so that children can sit around them and peer into them as much, instead of being forced to bend down to see the models. When we visited, a group of children from Ambattur had come in, sweaty and tired. But all that seemed to vanish as they gathered around the model trains, moving away from them with great reluctance.

    Museums must be interactive spaces to strike a chord with visitors believes Neeti Anil Kumar, Curator, Fort Museum at Fort St. George. The museum is currently hosting Kesh Vinyasa, an interesting exhibition that showcases hair dressing down the ages. Dreadlocks, Asha Parekh-style top buns, hair parted on the side and decorated with beads… all of them seem familiar, and then Neeti reveals their origin — the Gupta period. She then points out to a Vijayanagar-era sculpture from Srimushnam, a lady with plaited, long hair decorated with flowers — the traditional poo jadai that a South Indian bride still wears. “But, this alone won’t do to bring in people. And so, to move with the times, we’ve put in two selfie booths,” she says. A majestic Samrat Asoka and a decked-up Begum Hazrat Mahal have been placed in the centre of the gallery. Place your face in the gap provided, and click away.

    In the coins’ gallery, innovation rules. The museum offers an augmented-reality experience. Children and adults stand in front of a screen and hold a cardboard sheet. Suddenly, a coin zooms into view, and turns around slowly to show you its intricate beauty. This is a huge hit among kids, says the person manning this section. “Earlier, these exhibits were only under lock and key, ensconced in glass shelves. You could never see them up close and personal,” says Neeti. Likewise, at the entrance of the museum, there’s a talking cannon. In a seven-odd-minute speech, it speaks about how it came into being, where it was used, and why it went out of favour. And then, it goes on to promote peace and ahimsa. Children listen spellbound, because it is self-explanatory and in lucid language.

    A touch screen features a comic at the Reserve Bank of India Financial Gallery. Photo: V. Ganesan. / The Hindu

    A touch screen features a comic at the Reserve Bank of India Financial Gallery. Photo: V. Ganesan. / The Hindu

    A touch screen with games and puzzles and financial comics such as Raju and the Money Tree make the experience worthwhile at the Financial Gallery of the Reserve Bank of India. It is a space that promotes financial literacy, financial inclusion and customer protection. This place is an eye-opener for children and adults alike. The audio-visual section plays a selection of videos, including an interesting one on how mutilated and unusable rupee notes are destroyed. And, making the experience come alive, D. Vinothini, Assistant Manager, who looks after the gallery, shows us a briquette — a cylindrical brick made of shredded rupee notes! Every child leaving the museum is also given a small pouch with shredded notes.

    A view of the Museum at Officers Training Academy in Chennai. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    A view of the Museum at Officers Training Academy in Chennai. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    If all these museums promote a sense of enquiry, the one at the Officers Training Academy (OTA) inspires. It is a wonderful showcase of what the OTA, founded in 1963, stands for, and has a gem of a collection of weapons used in warfare. As you file past panels listing the achievements of the Academy, your heart swells with pride, and then almost immediately, turns sombre as you go through the list of Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra awardees from the Academy. As you read the plaques detailing the bravery of every awardee, especially those awarded posthumously, your eyes mist over and you’re consumed by a fierce sense of devotion towards the country.

    In a sense, that’s the purpose of the museum — it must inspire both officers in the making and those visiting, says Major Avinash Rawal, Officer-in-Charge. As he walks you around, he points out with pride the officers who’ve passed out of the OTA and proved their mettle in various theatres of war. This is, in effect, modern history. And, the museum places it in great perspective for future generations.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Subha J. Rao / Chennai – April 15th, 2016

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