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    Susan Tuller, Deputy Consular General, Consulate General of United States, in Chennai, presenting the title to Bharatanatyam exponent Malavika Sarukkai at The Music Academy’s 11th dance festival. Academy president N. Murali is in the picture.

    Susan Tuller, Deputy Consular General, Consulate General of United States, in Chennai, presenting the title to Bharatanatyam exponent Malavika Sarukkai at The Music Academy’s 11th dance festival. Academy president N. Murali is in the picture.

    The Music Academy’s 11th dance festival inaugurated

    Renowned Bharatanatyam dancer and guru Malavika Sarukkai was on Tuesday conferred the title of ‘Natya Kala Acharya’ at the inauguration of The Music Academy’s 11th dance festival here.

    Susan Tuller, Deputy Consular General, Consulate General of United States of America in Chennai, who presented the title, said this was her first Margazhi season and that she was awed by the scores of ‘sabhas’ in the city that have thousands of concerts. She congratulated Ms. Sarukkai on winning the title. The US Consulate here enjoyed bringing together South Indian and American artistes, she added.

    Academy president N. Murali said Ms. Sarukkai was a wonderful exponent of Bharatanatyam. “Excellence and holistic approach to art are her hallmarks and she is never afraid to explore and innovate. To her, innovation is only an organic growth from within,” Mr. Murali said. The 2017 edition of the dance festival will feature 26 performances over seven days comprising a variety of dance genres, including Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam, he said.

    In her acceptance speech, Ms. Sarukkai said it was an honour to be recognised by the Music Academy which has played a pivotal role in the resurgence of Bharatanatyam from the 1930s. She acknowledged with gratitude her gurus and her mother Saroja Kamakshi, who anchored her dance journey.

    “Classical dance is a gift — both precious and vulnerable — that must be nurtured and supported for it represents the heritage of India and requires a conducive ecosystem to survive and flourish,” she said . The responsibility to do this lay with sponsors, philanthropists, organisers, artistes, media, dance enthusiasts.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – January 04th, 2017

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    Avula Anik Kumar and others from IIT Madras showed that adsrobed arsenic leached from the saturated filter was one-tenth that of the background level. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

    Avula Anik Kumar and others from IIT Madras showed that adsrobed arsenic leached from the saturated filter was one-tenth that of the background level. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

    Exhaustive research carried out by a team of researchers led by Prof. T. Pradeep from the Department of Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, spread over four years, has put to rest the scepticism about the merits of the arsenic water filter developed by them. The water filter has been in operation for three and half years in about 900 sites in India, serving close to 400,000 people.

    Arsenic in drinking water is the largest natural mass poisoning in the history of humanity, affecting 13 crore people globally. The problem of arsenic in the environment, known for over 1,002 years, has not been solved satisfactorily, due to the non-availability of appropriate and affordable materials. Arsenic is a slow poison, causing numerous adverse health effects, including cancer and genetic anomalies.

    The technology developed at IIT makes use of confined metastable 2-line iron oxyhydroxides and its large adsorption capacity to remove arsenic in two different dissolved forms (arsenate and arsenite). The filter was able to reduce the arsenic concentration in the water from 200 ppb (parts per billion) to well below the WHO limit of 10 ppb. The results were published recently in the journal Advanced Materials.

    “The arsenic removal capacity of the material filter was found to be 1.4 to 7.6 times better than all the other available materials,” says Prof. Pradeep. “The superior arsenic uptake capacity is due to its inherent structure. Nanostructured iron oxyhydroxide makes many sites available for arsenic uptake. The ions of arsenic adsorb on the nanoparticles at specific atomic positions. No nanoparticles are released into the purified water due to the biopolymer cages in which they are contained.”

    The team mimicked the average arsenic concentration seen in West Bengal — 200 ppb of arsenic — for carrying out several laboratory studies. Though studies were carried out at a pH of 7.8, the team found the adsorption capacity of the filter was not compromised in the pH range 4 to 10. “The pH of drinking water is in the range of 6.5 to 8.5. But we tested the filter in a wide range of pH so it can be used for other purposes as well,” says Prof. Pradeep.

    “A filter composed of 60 grams of the material can be used safely for removing arsenic from 1150 litres of water and till such time the concentration of arsenic in the filtered water does not cross the WHO limit of 10 ppb,” he says. Once the filter has reached its saturation limit it has to be reactivated or recharged with new material.

    Reactivation is done by soaking the material in sodium sulphate solution for an hour at room temperature. It is further incubated for about four hours after reducing the pH to 4. “Using this reactivation protocol we reused the same filter seven times,” he says.

    Studies were carried out to test if the adsorbed arsenic leached from the filter. The team found that the amount of arsenic that got leached was 1 ppb in the case of arsenite and 2 ppb for arsenate. “Soil in the affected regions also contains arsenic, typically around 12 ppb of arsenic, which is the background concentration. The amount of arsenic leached from the saturated filter was far less than the background concentration,” Prof. Pradeep says. Leaching of arsenic from disposed filters was one of the biggest criticisms by a few researchers who had worked on arsenic filters. Arsenic, being an element, cannot be degraded further to simpler species.

    Since the arsenic filter developed by the team has so far been in use at a community level, studies were carried out to test its performance as a domestic water filter. A domestic three-stage filter was developed to remove particulate matter, iron and arsenic. Input water containing 200 ppb of arsenic and 4 ppm (parts per million) of Fe(III) was passed through the filter for a total volume of 6,000 litres (translating to 15 litres of water per day for one year). “The output was below the WHO limit for both arsenic and iron throughout the experiment,” he says.

    “For a family of five, arsenic-free drinking water can be produced at $2 per year,” he adds.

    In the course of the development of this technology, he and his former students incubated a company, InnoNano Research Pvt. Ltd. at IIT Madras. In July this year, the company received venture funding to the tune of $18 million. “With this research, a home grown technology appears to be all set for global deployment. Knowledge is no more a limiting factor for solving the arsenic menace,” he said.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Science / R. Prasad / December 19th, 2016

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    December 19th, 2016adminBusiness & Economy, Records, All

    Madurai :

    It will take some time for cashless transactions to be popular as 70% of the Indian population is below the poverty line and they have to be brought into the system, said TR Dinakaran, chairman of the Ramalinga Mills .  He was speaking at the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Madura Yarn Merchants’ Association here on Sunday.

    “Farmers and other people, who are below the poverty line, should be educated and made aware of the methods of cashless transactions to make the demonetisation drive successful,” he said.

    The meeting resolved that GST should be implemented at the earliest as it would help the textile industry. Uniform taxes at the lower slabs should be applicable to all units of the textile industry, including yarn and readymade garments.

    Senior president of the Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industry S Rethinavelu presided over the event. President of the Madura Yarn Merchants Association N Palaniappan, secretary R Kishankumar Goyenka and KG Devadoss among others spoke.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Madurai News / TNN / December 19th, 2016

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    December 18th, 2016adminRecords, All, Science & Technologies

    Chennai :

    J Daniel Chellappa, senior scientist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre’s (BARC) technical coordination wing, Chennai, has won the PRSI national award for the best communications campaign for 2016.

    Chellappa, a gold medallist from University of Madras, was associated with IIT Madras for his PG project and joined the scientific community of Department of Atomic Energy, Kalpakkam in 1984. He has carried out research in high temperature fuel behaviour as part of the indigenous development of the Uranium – Plutonium Mixed Carbide Nuclear Fuel for the Fast Breeder Test Reactor.

    source: / The Times of India / New> City News> Chennai News / TNN / December 18th, 2016

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    December 17th, 2016adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Records, All
    L. Sabaretnam, Chairman of Karthik Fine Arts (fourth from left) and dancer Chitra Visweswaran (third from left) with awardees at the inauguration of ‘Natya Darshan 2016’ at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on Friday. | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

    L. Sabaretnam, Chairman of Karthik Fine Arts (fourth from left) and dancer Chitra Visweswaran (third from left) with awardees at the inauguration of ‘Natya Darshan 2016’ at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on Friday. | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

    Five dancers were honoured at ‘Natya Darshan 2016’, an annual dance seminar here on Friday. The event organised by Karthik Fine Arts and convened by dancer Krithika Subramanian conferred the Madurai N. Krishnan Memorial Award on Rathnakumar, Lifetime Achievement Award on Raja and Radha Reddy, ‘Natya Chudar Award’ on Sudharma Vaidyanathan and ‘Nithya Jyothi Award’ on Mathura Vishwanathan Vijay.

    Dancer Chitra Visweswaran, after presenting the awards, said this seminar has grown from strength to strength over the last several years primarily because of the cooperation from dancers. “It was started locally, then went national and now people from across the world come to participate,” she said.

    Kuchipudi exponent Raja Reddy recollected the time when one of the great dance gurus refused to accept him as a disciple because of his appearance. “He told me bluntly that I cannot dance because I have a dark complexion and huge nose; he said I must have attractive features to be a dancer. After a long struggle I learnt this art form and then sometime back when I gave a performance in Elizabeth Hall, London I was appreciated to a great extent,” he said. Chairman of Karthik Fine Arts L. Sabaretnam also spoke during the event. It was followed by a dance recital by Priya Murali.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities / by Staff Reporter / December 17th, 2016

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    Chennai  :

    Stalwarts and eminent professionals from the healthcare industry gathered for the book launch of ‘Ward 10 – Remembering Rangabashyam’, a chronicle of the life of celebrated gastroenterologist, the late Dr N Rangabashyam, at a ceremony in the city, on Thursday.

    Rangabashyam, who passed away in 2013, was a pioneer in the field of surgical gastroenterology and proctology. He was the first person to establish the Dept of Surgical Gastroenterology at the Madras Medical College, and served as the honorary surgeon to former president R Venkataraman. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2002.

    Apollo Group Chairman Prathap C Reddy speaks on late Gastroenterologist Rangabashyam at a function held to launch a book on the latter | P JAWAHAR

    Apollo Group Chairman Prathap C Reddy
    speaks on late Gastroenterologist
    Rangabashyam at a function held
    to launch a book on the latter | P JAWAHAR

    Speaking at the function, chief guest Dr Prathap C Reddy, chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group, said: “I admired NR, as he was fondly known, in every way – not just as a wonderful colleague but also a respected teacher who showed his proficiency in his field. No wonder Ward 10 (his ward at MMC) was always filled with students who wanted to learn from him!”

    Dr Abraham Verghese, vice chair for theory and practice of medicine, Stanford University, USA, recounted his experience as a student under Rangabashyam, describing him as “a skilled surgeon”, but short-tempered if his colleagues failed to keep his high standards. “He leaves behind a legion of physicians whose moral compass is absolutely set,” said Verghese.

    The book was launched by Chitra, Rangabashyam’s wife, who presented a copy to Reddy. ‘Dr Rangabashyathin Saritham’ – a Tamil biographical sketch by Shanthakumari Sivakadaksham, was also released.

    source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> TamilNadu / by Express News Service / December 16th, 2016

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    The Madras Literary Society houses more than 55,000 books / PM Naveen

    The Madras Literary Society houses more than 55,000 books / PM Naveen


    The 204-year-old Madras Literary Society in Chennai is getting a new lease of life, thanks to youthful volunteers and a social media campaign. Karthik Subramanian finds out more.

    The sight takes your breath away.

    As you step in, you encounter bookshelf after bookshelf rising up from the floor to the ceiling. It is as though you have stumbled upon a waterfall of books.

    The Madras Literary Society library located in the centre of the south Indian city of Chennai, formerly known as Madras.

    It houses more than 55,000 books, including a huge collection of tomes that are between 150 and 300 years old.

    From outside, the imposing red brick building, which was constructed in 1905, looks like something out of a British period movie.

    The architectural style is typical of the Indo-Saracenic movement, favoured by the architects of British India in the late 19th Century.

    A group of youngsters are stepping into help restore the library to its former glory / PM Naveen

    A group of youngsters are stepping into help restore the library to its former glory / PM Naveen

    Established by the East India Company in 1812 to train its employees in administration, languages, law, religion and “customs of the natives”, the library was initially located inside the Fort St George between 1812 and 1854 and moved to its current location in the year 1905.

    One of the oldest books in its collection is Isaac Newton’s Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”) published in the year 1729.

    It also contains memoirs and accounts published by the British officers of the Raj, such as “The History of Buckingham Canal” which was published in 1898.

    But some of these are in a dire state and require immediate restoration, a process that costs from 5,000 rupees ($74; £58) to 12,000 rupees. Without adequate funds and staffing, the old books will soon turn to dust.

    Many already have.

    Without adequate funds, some of the books are turning to dust / PM Naveen

    Without adequate funds, some of the books are turning to dust / PM Naveen

    But now, a group of young volunteers are stepping in to help.

    “The first time I saw the shelves, I just went wow,” Rajith Nair, a 38-year-old entrepreneur and volunteer at the library told the BBC.

    “I have seen libraries like this only in the movies and thought they only existed in old libraries and museums of Europe.”

    That was in June last year.

    Since then, many youngsters have enrolled as members in the library. They are also actively recruiting other young people through projects like open house days, an adopt-a-book campaign and an aggressive social media strategy.

    Thirupura Sundari Sevvel, a 26-year-old heritage consultant, is a regular at the open house the library conducts every Saturday. She helps in the conservation of books, and also trains volunteers to catalogue the titles.

    She is also responsible for creating and maintaining a Facebook communities page that actively promotes the restoration of the library’s books.

    The Madras Literary Society is still a circulating library / PM Naveen

    The Madras Literary Society is still a circulating library / PM Naveen


    One such recently restored book is a collection of cartoon prints by legendary political satirist James Gillray, which were originally published between 1798 and 1810.

    They first caught the attention of author KRA Narasiah last year.

    “I was writing a series in a newspaper about Buckingham Canal and was at the library doing some research when this book caught my eye,” he says.

    “It was a serendipitous find. The comics were a wonderful example of political satire. I knew it was something special and had to be revived.”

    The restoration work itself was carried out by P Renganathan, who has been restoring books for more than two decades now. The book of cartoons, he recalls, was in bad shape.

    “It was affected by insects, had fungus and several water strains. I had it restored by encapsulating it in specially processed archival grade polyester films.”

    A collection of cartoon prints by legendary political satirist James Gillray is one of the restored books / PM Naveen

    A collection of cartoon prints by legendary political satirist James Gillray is one of the restored books / PM Naveen


    Mr Mohanraman, the 73-year-old honorary secretary of the library, says the youth interest has been a huge lease of life to the library, which he believes “is caught between two worlds”.

    The library is "caught between two worlds", its secretary says  / PM Naveen

    The library is “caught between two worlds”, its secretary says / PM Naveen


    “The Madras Literary Society was established to encourage scholastic work. This is one of the birthplaces of what we refer to as the Madras School of Orientalism. We want to preserve that aspect,” he explains.

    “But it is also a circulating library that is still catering to its members. Most of our members are senior citizens, who prefer to read books in the physical form. Our challenge is to find a middle path and achieve both goals.”

    The library today has close to 350 members who each pay 850 rupees a year to access the rare books inside. The membership has actually doubled over the last 12 months, Mr Mohanraman says.

    He says that the goal is to reach a target of 1,000 members, which will help him realise his dream of restoring it to not just a vibrant lending library, but a thriving cultural centre.

    source: / BBC / Home> BBC News> Asia> India / December 10th, 2016

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    Carnatic vocalist, playback singer and composer Mangalamapalli Balamuralikrishna, who burst into the music world as a child prodigy, died on Tuesday. He was 86 and is survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters.

    His music appealed to both the connoisseurs and the laymen alike. In classical music, he was able to give “play acting” to the essence of the lyrics in his song. In the film world,  “Oru Naal Pothuma”, a ragamalika in Thiruvilayadal, “Chinna Kannan Azhaikiran”, a Reetigowla-based song in the film Kavikuil, “Mounathil Vilayadum Manasatichye” from the film Noolveli  and the Abhogi song “Thanga Ratham Vanthathu” from the film Kalai Koil continue to enchant a generation of music lovers.

    A native of East Godavari district of the erstwhile Madras Presidency, his father Pattabiramaiah was a musician and his mother Sooryakanthamma was a veena player. He gave his first concert when he was nine and the quality of his music is explained by the fact that All India Radio (AIR), Chennai, included him, a child artist, in the list of A-grade artists.

    He was also an accomplished violinist and once accompanied Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, the pioneer of the modern-day Carnatic concert format.

    Balamuralikrishna learnt violin by listening to his father playing the instrument.

    “Since my father was against me playing violin, I created my own instrument. Once I summoned courage and played his instrument in his absence. When questioned by my father I admitted and played Bhairavi ata thala varnam.  My father was impressed and allowed me to play the instrument,” he had recalled in his biography Sangita Perunkadal, penned by Ranimynthan.

    Violin playing came in handy when his voice underwent changes in his teens and could not sing.

    “He had a magic voice. He is to Telugu keerthanas what M.M. Dhandapani Desikar was to Tamil music. Since Telugu was his mother tongue, he knew the meaning of Thiyagaraja’s keerthanas and would not maul them,” said clarinet maestro A.K.C. Natarajan, who also learnt many keerthana’s from him.


    Actually Balamuralikrishna’s career in film industry began as an actor. He played the role of Narada in the film Bhakta Prahalada on the request of A.V. Meyappa Chettiar. It was a Telugu film and was dubbed in Tamil, Hindi and Kannada and he played the role in other languages also. His first song is also for a Telugu film Sati Savitri.


    “S. Varalakshmi was the heroine of the film and she learnt music from Balamuralikrishna. She requested him to render at least one sloka in the movie. But he ended up singing all the songs for the hero A. Nageswara Rao,” recalled Ranimynthan, the biographer of Balamuralikrishna.

    When K. Balachander directed Apoorva Ragangal, he told M.S. Viswanthan to compose a song in a rare raga to justify the title of the film. It was Balmuralikrishna who helped him compose the song Athisaya Ragam in raga Mahathi. His other creations are raga Sarvashri, Lavangi, and Sumukham.

    He also scored music for the first Sanskrit film Adi Sankarar . He won the national award for best playback singer, music director and classical singer. He was awarded the Sangita Kalanidhi award of the Music Academy. He is also a recipient of France’s Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National / by B. Kolappan / November 23rd, 2016

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    November 15th, 2016adminEducation, Records, All, World Opinion

    Eighteen students from the city are taking part in the Tournament of Champions at Yale University

    On November 18, over 3,500 students from 50 different schools around the world will gather at Yale University, U.S., to take part in the Tournament of Champions. And, while that might sound like a jousting challenge, this is part of the World Scholar’s Cup, where the kids will parry their knowledge and intelligence, hone their talents and discover new ones.

    It is on this international stage that 18 students from Chennai will be competing. They’ve made it through some rigorous regional and global rounds, and are making their way to Yale this week. Trained by Shaan Katari Libby of A to Zee Creativity, this is the first time that such a large contingent has made it to the tournament in the last 10 years.

    Says Shaan, “We’re very proud of these kids for working so hard. At the World Scholar’s Cup, they will have the chance to interact with and learn directly from Yale students and faculty. Last year, we had three students who went to Yale, although six had qualified. This year has been very special so far; hopefully, they will do their country and their schools proud.”

    To begin with, the students did the Regionals in Chennai in April 2016, and qualified for the Global Round by placing in the top 15 per cent. “This led to the Globals in Bangkok / Prague, where they competed against 3,000-plus students in each division (Seniors/Juniors) from around the world. They placed in the top 10 per cent, which meant qualification for the Tournament of Champions at Yale,” explains Shaan. They will compete in teams of three.

    The schools in the A to Zee Creativity delegation are Sishya, KC High, DAV Boys, DAV Girls, P.S. Senior Secondary and Chennai Public School.

    The participating students are Adam Libby, Anirudh Satish, Srinika Rajanikanth, Vichar Lochan, Nila Srinivas, Hrsh Venket, Sanjith Krishna, Vivaaan Nanavati, Tejas Narayan, Ridhi Agarwal, Vanshika Bhaiya, Rohan Manoj, Vipasha Gupta, Tarasha Dugar, Udhav Goenka, Guhan Kallapiran, Vedant Mimani and Naveen Varma.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Opinion> Features> Metroplus / Susanna Myrtle Lazarus / Chennai – November 15th, 2016

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     Although not a diarist in the strict sense, Nemali Pattabhirama Rao , the dewan of erstwhile Cochin State, did maintain a personal diary. It was a small notebook bound with red hard cover with a lock (having an ornamental key) on it — an indication that it was purely personal. But, having seen the value of the contents, Rao’s family decided to make it public in the form of a book. Titled ‘A Dewan’s Diary’ the book edited by Rao’s granddaughter Malathi Mohan was recently released in a function.

    Handwritten in neat cursive script, the content is autobiographical. Born in Siddavattam of Cuddappah district, Rao, a graduate from Presidency College (1882) of Madras, after an eventful career in the revenue department, was appointed as the dewan of Cochin State from September 6, 1902. The book reproduces a letter sent to Rao by the Raja of Cochin Sri Rama Verma when the former offered to resign from the post due to bad health. The letter speaks volumes about Rao’s integrity of character.

    The Golkonda vyapari community from which Rao hails is a sub sect of Telugu brahmins. While the Telugu brahmins adhered to strict Vedic practices, a group fell out as a secular sect and took up administration, trade and similar works. They were called aaruvela niyogis and a part of them called themselves Golkonda vyaparis — vyapari meaning trader. While the niyogis stuck to Shaivite principles, the vyparis took to Vaishnavism. This religious difference was the only factor that hindered marriage alliances between the two communities. The book says that Rao’s family was one of the rare ones to break the caste-based bias. His niece Rukmini, a freedom fighter married Lakshmipathy, a medical practitioner from Niyogi community of Achanta family.

    A major part of the book deals with the acute financial difficulties Rao faced during his tenure as the dewan. During this time Rao had employed Namberumal Chetty — known for building landmark buildings in Chennai — for the construction of a house on Edward Elliots Road (Radhakrishnan Salai; the site now houses AVM Rajeswari Kalyana Mandapam). The house was named Kanaka Bhavan, but unfortunately its construction caused great financial difficulty to Rao. His wife had invested money in Arbuthnot & Co Bank and it was lost when the bank collapsed in 1906. Rao had to complete the house by taking loans from friends and acquaintances. But, after his retirement, repaying the loans became difficult for him. It was during this time that his friend Namberumal Chetty offered him the job of supervisor for a construction. As luck would have it, Chetty and Rao were offered a contract to supply bricks for the construction of Ripon Building by the consultant architect of the then government G T Harris. To be close to the site, Rao shifted to Choolaimedu area and built a house. However his financial difficulties continued and as ill luck would have it he lost his wife in 1909.

    It was then that he decided to shift to Madanapalle, where he had a bungalow. Rao records in the diary that in 1918 he sold his house at Edwards Elliots Road to the zamindar of Devakota. He also gives the full particulars of his assets and liabilities and how they should be divided after his death. He continues further till February 1932 and ends the narration as on June 29, 1935.

    Apart from familiarizing the reader with the Nemali family and the joys and harrowing times they have undergone, the book has a fine compilation of family pictures that make the text relatable.

    (The author is a is a heritage enthusiast and a reviewer of historical books)

    Email your feedback to

    source: / The Times of India / News > City News> Chennai News / K R A Narasiah / TNN / November 15th, 2016

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