Chennai First a Celebration. Positive News, Facts & Achievements about Chennai, Tamilians and all the People of TamilNadu – here at Home and Overseas
  • scissors

    James Ajoo, a man who grew up in Chennai, realised that his grandfather was a pawn in one of the greatest heists of the 19th century – the Great Tea Robbery.

    Canton, Kwangtung province, China. Photograph by John Thomson, 1867. Image: Wellcome Image

    Canton, Kwangtung province, China. Photograph by John Thomson, 1867. Image: Wellcome Image

    When James Ajoo, a Chennai-based English professor, was growing up, he often wondered why his surname was so different from that of his classmates. It was not a typical South Indian name – for that matter, it didn’t even sound Indian. When he asked his paternal grandmother, her answer was so unexpected that it set him off on a quest to trace his roots.

    His grandmother told him that his ancestor was one of the six Chinese tea manufacturers that Robert Fortune smuggled into India to help the English manufacture tea, harvested from their newly planted tea estates. Some of these estates are in what is now The Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu. His grandfather was a primary player, albeit a pawn, in one of the greatest heists of the 19th century – the Great Tea Robbery pulled off by Robert Fortune, a botanist and plant hunter who stole tea from Imperial China.

    In modern day terms, there are three serious violations: Geographical Indications (GIs), bio-piracy and the theft of a process.

    James Ajoo

    James Ajoo

    James questioned other older members of his family, but none of them knew anything more. The information he had gathered was inadequate. Several years later, when James went to the US to study, he found the time and resources to further research his ancestor, the mysterious John Ajoo.

    European interest in China

    Since the Ajoo family story in India is tied up with that of Robert Fortune and the nascent tea industry in India, let’s start with the Scottish botanist. What made him a hero in the times he lived in and a villain thereafter? Robert Fortune was best known for stealing tea plants from China, the only country where tea was grown at that time. Tea growing and manufacture in China was a closely guarded secret.

    Trade with China was much sought after by the European trading powers of that time, primarily the English, Americans and the Dutch. Trade with China grew and flourished right through the 18th century, when the English East India Company traded woolens and Indian cottons for Chinese tea, silk and porcelain.

    However, with the widespread popularity of tea in England, tea soon became the single largest export item out of China, while the imports declined. The Chinese made things more difficult by insisting that tea has to be paid for in silver. Soon, there was a shortage of silver and the English were forced to look for other commodities to offset the balance of trade.

    L0056403 China: women tea plantation workers by John Thomson Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Fukien province, China: women tea plantation workers. Photograph by John Thomson, 1871. 1871 By: J. ThomsonPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

    L0056403 China: women tea plantation workers by John Thomson
    Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
    Fukien province, China: women tea plantation workers. Photograph by John Thomson, 1871.
    1871 By: J. ThomsonPublished: –
    Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

    This is when they introduced opium grown in India to China, which proved to be a profitable business.

    The tea robber

    After the Treaty of Nanking in 1848, Fortune was sent by the Royal Horticultural Society to collect exotic plants from China, tea primarily. The latter was to be replanted in parts of India which was considered to be congenial to tea and thus break China’s monopoly of global trade.

    “The task required a plant hunter, a gardener, a thief, a spy,” writes Sarah Rose, in her award-winning book ‘For All the Tea in China’, which charts Fortune’s great British Tea Robbery. Though some of the saplings perished, the tea seeds brought back by Fortune were instrumental in starting the tea industry in India and breaking Chinese monopoly on tea.

    Rober Fortune. Source: Wiki Commons

    Rober Fortune. Source: Wiki Commons

    In 1849, Fortune disguised as a wealthy Chinese trader travelled to the remote tea growing areas in China and witnessed both green and black tea being processed. He realized that manufacturing tea was a complex and intricate process and experienced tea manufacturers would be required. So, he recruited a team of experienced tea farmers and manufacturers from Hawgchow, present day Huizhou in the Anhui province of China, with help of Chinese contractors called Wang tih Poon and Hoo. Fortune and this small band of Chinese set sail for India from Shanghai.

    John Ajoo enters India

    James Ajoo, now in his 30s, is of the opinion that his ancestor took the name John when he arrived in India, because he had been secretly converted to Christianity by the Jesuits who had been active in China since 1582. The name Ajoo, he says, could be the phonetic pronunciation of a Chinese surname.

    James started his research by digging deep into the available material on the internet. After months of searching, he finally got lucky when he found a log entry made on February 15, 1851 which mentions that the Chinese tea manufacturers are to be paid from that date and the order was to be executed by the Chinese contractor Wang tih Poon.

    Ajoo was clutching at straws but persisted in his search; he combed through endless maritime lists and passenger arrivals lists and then finally, struck gold when he found an old notice of passenger arrivals into Calcutta port on November 27, 1851, when the streamer Lady Mary Wood docked in Calcutta with six Chinese on board. (Most records show that there were eight Chinese – six tea manufacturers and two pewterers, whose sole job was preparing lead casings to the tea chests).

    When Ajoo came to Nilgiris

    James Ajoo followed the progress of the Chinese tea manufacturers who were sent to work in the tea gardens of the North-West Province. It was hard work, (for James Ajoo) for there was but a scant mention here or there. In May 1862, the Chinese left government service and entered private employment for higher wages.

    The next year, a report on the tea plantations in East Indies made to the House of Commons mentioned that Dr HFC Cleghorn, Conservator of Forests of the Madras Presidency, had asked the government for Chinese tea manufacturers to help tea growers in the Neilgherries (as Nilgiris was spelt those days). This report also states that there were no Chinese tea manufacturers available for the Nilgiris planters, and instead “native” tea manufacturers were offered.

    However, may be because of continued pressure from the Nilgiris planters, two Chinese tea manufacturers were sent to the hills in 1864, one of them being John Ajoo. It is interesting to note that these two were not the only Chinese in the Nilgiris at the time.

    Did Chinese PoWs teach Indians how to manufacture tea?

    Between 1856 and 1860, the British brought in Chinese Prisoners of War (PoWs) captured during the second Anglo Chinese war, also known as the Opium Wars, which involved British trade in opium to China and China’s sovereignty. Chinese prisoners were also brought to the Nilgiris from the Straits Settlements of Singapore, Malacca, Dinding and Penang. They were initially sent to the Nilgiris because of the overcrowding in the Madras jails, but later, when it was discovered the Chinese were good workmen, they were put to work in the newly opened tea and cinchona plantations.

    An 1850 depiction of the tea cultivation process in Assam. By Joseph Lionel Williams after Thomas Brown, via Wiki Commons

    An 1850 depiction of the tea cultivation process in Assam. By Joseph Lionel Williams after Thomas Brown, via Wiki Commons

    Many senior Nilgiri planters have poofed the idea that the Chinese PoWs taught the pioneer planters how to plant and manufacture tea, mainly because the PoWs were mostly seafaring men with no experience in tea farming or manufacture. Sir Percival Griffiths, a British civil servant and tea historian is one who dismissed claims that Chinese PoWs instructed planters how to plant and manufacture tea. But records indicate that at this time, Miss Cockburn, (pronounced Coburn) daughter of the Collector of Salem and pioneer tea and coffee planter, had one Chinese man help on the tea estate near Kotagiri, while Thaishola Estate, where many PoWs were housed, has anecdotal evidence that the Chinese planted tea and has a Jail Thottam (garden) even today.

    Chinaman’s field

    James Ajoo at this point, reiterates that his ancestor, John Ajoo, a free man, worked with some planters in the Nilgiris for a short while and was then lured away to work with a tea planter called AW Turner, who founded the North Travancore Land Planting Agricultural Society in Munnar.

    S Muthiah, the Chennai based historian, in his book “A Planting Century” which records the history of South India’s plantations has made a mention of John Ajoo, a Chinaman who planted 13 acres of tea in Munnar, and this plot of land was known popularly as the Chinaman’s Field.

    Somewhere along the line, John Ajoo married a local woman, though there is no mention of that. (It would be pertinent to note that most of the Chinese PoWs who settled down in Nattuvattom, a small hamlet in the Nilgiris where the Government cinchona factory was located, married local women and lived the rest of their lives tending cattle and growing garden vegetables.)

    The Chinaman’s son

    \John Ajoo’s son John Antony, referred to as the Chinaman’s son, was born in June 1869 and would become the owner of a small estate called Vialkadavu near Talliar Estate in which the Turner family had an interest.

    Now John Antony was quite a colorful character and had worked in a provision store owned by an Englishman in Munnar town. He taught himself English, joined the Anglican Church and endeared himself to the English planters in the area. He was a skilled tracker and shikari and in the course of time, became a favourite with the planters for the hunting jaunts; which lead him to be acquainted with the Sri Kerala Varma Valiya Koilthampuranan, who was married to Her Highness Bharani Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi, the adopted niece of the Maharajah of Travancore.

    A plac of John Antony

    A plac of John Antony

    Anecdotal evidence within the family is that, the marriage of John Antony to Mariamma was brought about by none other than the Koilthampuranan himself. Mariamma, it is said, was a child widow of a member of royal family. Nothing more is known of the mysterious Mariamma (that may not even be her real name) as there is no documentary evidence to the marriage or her background.

    John Antony died when he was 82 after establishing himself as a planter and with a large acreage under him. He was also a founder member of the Travancore Cardamom Planters Association in Madurai district. Subsequently, the Ajoos moved away from the plantations and turned to the Church with many of them becoming pastors.

    James Ajoo has never visited the land of his ancestor but hopes to do so one day. But now he has a story to tell too, of John Ajoo’s long journey from the tea growing farms of his youth in China, to the High Ranges in the south of India. One wonders, did John Ajoo ever think of going back home?  We will never know.

    source: / The News Minute / Home> History / by Nina Varghese / Sunday – October 22nd, 2017

  • scissors
    October 21st, 2017adminRecords, All, Sports, World Opinion
    lying high Aswin has set his eyes on representing India in the Commonwealth and Asian Games next year

    lying high Aswin has set his eyes on representing India in the Commonwealth and Asian Games next year

    In conversation with JK Aswin, a third-generation cyclist who is winning laurels for the country

    Practising a sport requires commitment and dedication but excelling at it needs grit and determination. Coimbatore-based JK Aswin, a gold medallist from the Track Asia Cup 2017 and a third-generation cyclist, talks about his journey in spinning the wheels. Excerpts:

    What inspired you to take up cycling?

    Coming from a family of cyclists, there was no lack of inspiration and motivation. My grand-dad, late Jayaraman was a member of the national road cycling team from 1958 to 1962. My dad Krishnamoorthy was also a member ofthe national squad from 1984 to 1987. I was a late bloomer, started riding a bike when I was seven years old. I had always been fascinated by my grandad’s and dad’s medals and certificates. once on the bicycle, the joy of riding inspired me to aim for my own collection of medals.

    Can you talk a little about your formative years?

    In the first couple of years, I spent a lot of time riding with my dad along Kovaipudur and through the villages around Coimbatore. This helped build my riding technique and connect with the bike. My first taste of racing was at the age of 10 in the Tamil Nadu State Cycling Meet in 2009. I finished fourth in the under-13 category. After that, the fun rides were gradually substituted with more intense training. Three to four hours of riding became a norm during weekdays and weekends were booked for hill training sessions in The Nilgiris.

    Why did you go in for track racing?

    The different disciplines in cycling require specific skills. A 100 km race requires endurance and efficient usage of energy reserves, whereas a track sprint requires muscular power, ability to understand the competitor’s weakness and technique to ace. I was hooked on speed and quick short sprints so I picked the latter. Another key reason was that training indoors was safer than on open roads. We in India are still warming up to cycling as a sport and road users are not used to a bicyclist riding at over 40 kmph.


    How did the transition from state to national level happen?

    It started in 2014 when I was selected to train in the national camp hosted by the Cycling Federation of India and Sports Authority of India. The training was scientific and focussed. The regular rides were measured and post-training effects analysed. Speed and duration became secondary parameters and training with heart rate and power was introduced. In time, I got to understand that recovering after a training session was key to performance rather than slogging day in and day out on the bike. The technique was to push the body and mind to higher levels of performance through High Intensity Interval Sessions (HIIT), give the muscles just enough time to recover, gain strength and slot in another HIIT session focussing on another performance parameter.

    What about the training camp in Germany?

    The big jump came when the Indian squad at the CFI camp enrolled for a three-month training programme in Germany between June and August 17. We were trained by the German national coach in the Cottbus Velodrome. The formula was to train, race, recover and repeat. The team was not allowed to use mobile phones for three months and the training was intense. We also got an opportunity to compete with teams from other European nations and the take-away was immense. Competing with these Olympic standard teams became part of the training schedule and we were able to finetune our understanding of aerodynamics, riding posture and race strategies.

    What is next?

    The interim goals is to represent India in the 2018 Commonwealth Games to be held in Queensland, Australia. I also have my eye on the Asian Games in August 2018 at Indonesia. Good results in these two will win India a berth in the 2020 Summer Olympics at Tokyo. This would be a big one for us as a nation, as the Indian cycling team would have won a slot to compete in the Olympics after 56 years. The last time India was represented was in 1964 at the Tokyo Olympics.


    National medallist in Track Championship 2012, 2013 and 2015

    Won the National Award for Exceptional Achievement in 2010. The award was presented by then President of India Pranab Mukherjee

    Track Asia Cup. Gold in team sprint (men junior) and bronze in sprint (Men junior) at the Track Asia Cup in 2017

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Life & Style> Fitness / by Deepak Samuel / October 20th, 2017

  • scissors
    Sippiparai dog at the show held at Maduravoyal on Saturday. | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

    Sippiparai dog at the show held at Maduravoyal on Saturday. | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

    No registration fee for these dogs, says canine club president

    Various breeds of dogs made a beeline to Mettukuppam Main Road in Maduravoyal on Saturday as the two-day All Breeds Championship Dog Show organised by the Madras Canine Club began.

    The Labrador Retriever Club of India’s 13th National Show, The Tamil Nadu Rottweiler Association’s Speciality Show, The Indian Association of Doberman Breed Speciality Show and The Madras Canine Club’s All Breed Championship Show saw a number of entries from across the country.

    “About 400 dogs of 52 breeds have registered. Over 50 dogs of Indian breeds have also registered. Mudhol Hounds, Rajapalayam and Chippiparai are among the popular Indian breeds. Every dog, as per the rules, has to be microchipped. The cost of a microchip is about ₹500. We are not charging registration fee for native breeds this year. People with other breeds will have to pay,” said C.V. Sudarsan, president, Madras Canine Club. Pointing to the new system of competition among native breeds this year, Mr. Sudarsan said the Kennel Club of India was now making an all-out effort to improve the native breeds.

    A. Swaminathan, a participant whose 6-month-old Doberman Pinscher came second, said the show continues to be an opportunity to learn and draw inspiration from other breeds. Software engineer C.Nithyanandan, who brought two of his Rajapalayam dogs from his native village near Gudiyatham, said he wanted to continue work on conserving native breeds.

    While the first day of the event saw breeds such as Labrador retriever, Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler and Dachshund competing in different rounds, Sunday will also have other breeds participating in the show.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News>States> Tamil Nadu / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – October 07th, 2017

  • scissors


    The state boasts of being one of the major cultivators of jasmine in the country . Yet, with jasmine being a seasonal shrub, its cultivation is limited between March and September, leaving farmers unemployed during the off-season. Not anymore.

    Floriculturists at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) are now working on developing a variety of jasmine that grows all year round. Called the improved CO2 variety of `pitchi’ -one that is popular for hair accessorising – it promises to produce flowers throughout the year.

    Though the yield of the variety is expected to be around 30% lesser than the older varieties of pitchi jasmine, it will give the farmers extremely high returns during the off season or winter.

    The older varieties of pitchi jasmine cultivated during the flowering season (between March and September-end) give farmers an annual yield of around 10 tonnes per hectare.

    “However, the price of jasmine during the season is only Rs150 per kg. They almost have no income during the off-season, ” says professor and head of the floriculture department, M Kannai.

    “But, there were a few farmers who harvest their flowers during the off season too, because it yields a much better price. That is what gave us the idea to come up with a clone of a variety that grows all year round, ” he adds.

    The new variety called `improved CO2′ is expected to produce a uniform yield throughout the year. “The variety will give an overall yield of 7 tonnes per hectare, which is 30% lesser than the yield given by CO1 and CO2,” says Kannan.

    “But the advantage is that farmers will be able to rake in at least `700 to `800 per kg for even loose flowers during the off season between October and February. Thus, the returns for farmers will be higher with the new variety than the older CO1 and CO2 varieties, ” he adds.

    The variety is also resistant to major diseases and pests that affect the jasmine plant. “The buds of the new variety are an intensive pink, com pared to the usual light pink, but once the flower blooms, it assumes a neat white colour, ” says Kannan.

    The only disadvantage of the variety is that, with a shelf life of hardly 24 hours, the pitchi jasmine is unlikely to be chosen for ex ports. The Gundu Malli which stays fresh for around 48 hours when refrigerated is instead preferred for exports.

    Multi-locational trials of the variety have been under progress for the past six months, say department staff. ” We have been conducting trials with the new variety in farmer’s fields, shrubs for which were planted in March.Some of them have started bearing flowers too, ” says Kannan. The department has also distributed plants of the new clone to around 25 jasmine farmers in 10 jasmine growing districts including Madurai, Dindigul, Erode, Krishnagiri, Villupuram, Thiruvannamalai and Coimbatore.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Madurai News / by Pratiksha Ramkumari / TNN / September 26th, 2017

  • scissors

    India Yamaha Motor (IYM) Pvt Ltd on Friday achieved a milestone by rolling out the one-millionth two-wheeler to be produced at its Chennai, Tamil Nadu factory in two-and-a-half years of operations. The millionth two-wheeler to be produced at the Yamaha premises is a unit of the Yamaha Fascino. India Yamaha Motor has reached this figure on the back of good sales of its two-wheelers including the Ray Z, Ray ZR and Alpha scooters, and the Saluto and Saluto RX motorcycles. Yamaha had begun operations at the Chennai facility in March 2015 with an initial production capacity of 4.5 lakh units per year, ramping it up to 6 lakh units this year. India Yamaha Motor now aims to produce 9 lakh units per annum by 2019 at the Chennai factory and 7 lakh units at its facility in Surajpur, Chattisgarh, taking total production to 1.6 million units in two years. Yamaha recently launched the Fazer 25 faired version or its FZ25  250cc motorcycle. To boost sales, Yamaha has also been launching scooter boutiques in select cities of the country.


    IYM deputy MD Riuji Kawashima said that the company would continue to enhance the production facilities in India to better serve the Indian market. Yamaha has so far invested Rs 1,300 crore in the Chennai Factory and plans to invest more than Rs 200 crore by 2018. Out of one million products manufactured from the Chennai Factory, 8.5 lakh units have been manufactured for the domestic market and remaining 1.5 lacs units for the export market including African market as well as ASEAN and Latin American markets. Yamaha Fascino is the most produced model with 3.7 lakh units. The production percentage ratio of the scooter & motorcycle production at the factory is 7:3 right now. The models with highest export numbers were the FZ series, Ray ZR, and Fascino.

    source:  / OverDrive / Home> News / Team OD / September 22nd, 2017

  • scissors
    MGR: A Life R. Kannan Penguin Random House ₹499

    MGR: A Life R. Kannan Penguin Random House ₹499

    In his centenary year, a perceptive biography presents MGR with all his achievements and faltering, his personality and politics

    M.G. Ramachandran never ceases to fascinate. In the 30 years since his death, there are signs to show that his popularity in Tamil Nadu has not declined. If a digitised version of one of his movies from the 1960s is released, it still runs to packed houses. It is his centenary year, and the same veneration that he commanded among his followers seems to prevail even among a generation that could not have seen him in his heyday.

    R. Kannan’s informative biography brings out the major reasons for the MGR phenomenon: an everlasting reputation for charity, the trust he inspired in the masses that he stood for their welfare, and his carefully cultivated image as a do-gooder. What makes this a perceptive account is that it rarely descends to hagiography, and touches, albeit in a nuanced way, the man’s undoubted shortcomings.

    Early episodes in MGR’s life accounts are revealing. Much of this part is perhaps drawn from MGR’s own memoirs and from contemporary accounts, but what Kannan offers is the first cogent narrative of MGR’s early years, the debilitating poverty in which he grew up, the role of his mother and brother in shaping his outlook in life. The portrayal of Ramachandran’s poverty-stricken life as a child theatre artiste makes for a moving read. Too poor to go to school, he and his brother lived through ordeals and torments in a theatre company as they had no other means of livelihood. MGR had early exposure to both the survival throes and the petty jealousies of an incipient theatre and cinema career. These experiences informed his welfare-centric policies several decades later as chief minister.

    Tinsel world stories

    Many pages are devoted to MGR’s experiences in the tinsel world, understandably so, as this was the medium that was used to project his image. Initially used by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to draw crowds, he was somehow catapulted into the political limelight due to various factors. His mentors in theatre and politics were not his only influences. Even those who saw him as a threat and still others who underestimated his rise in the party, were also indirect motivators for his aspirations.

    Almost all of MGR’s film songs were written with an eye on his emerging political career. Even though this is well known, the author’s engaging account — as well as free-wheeling translations — of the various songs that made him a hero, a revolutionary, a friend of the masses, a philanthropist, a teetotaller and the scourge of evil, helps in understanding the direction in which he was heading in politics.

    There is a lot about his career in cinema, but somehow, there seem to be too many details about how he signed up particular films and how he landed a certain role. There is not enough about many other aspects of his film career, including his directorial ventures and his insight into various trades in the industry. Given the build-up in the biography about his career trajectory, the account of his three successive stints as chief minister can be seen as sketchy. As this part is narrated mainly through public events and major political developments, the reader does not get a full insight into the functioning of MGR as an administrator. At the same time, the author does convey the essentials. One gets a sense of how MGR did not believe in the core Dravidian principle of rationalism and opposition to religion, of how he lived in perpetual fear of the Centre and how tax investigations influenced his political decisions.

    Chief minister’s diary

    As chief minister for 10 years, he relied on intuition and the unique connect he had with the masses in making major announcements. Of course, there were blunders and long phases of inactivity, economic and administrative stagnation and political uncertainty because of his bouts of illnesses. The transition from a person who managed to run a relatively clean government to one who allowed corruption to acquire huge proportions has been captured. The extent to which the liquor trade and the privatisation of engineering and medical education contributed to it is amply clear in the account.

    Nearly a century ago, E.M. Forster contrasted the western or English character with that of the easterners. “The Oriental has behind him a tradition of kingly munificence and splendour,” he wrote, contrasting these qualities with the “middle class prudence” of an Englishman. Forster would have been delighted had he met someone with MGR’s reputation for munificence.

    But MGR had other qualities that monarchs are famed for. He rewarded loyalty and punished disloyalty. He rarely brooked dissent, although political heavyweights within his party did take him on occasionally. Farmers and government employees, political rivals and the media, all bore the brunt of his authoritarian style, although he sometimes tried to balance the strong-arm tactics with occasional sops. He was whimsical to a fault, once attempting to undermine caste-based reservations by introducing economic criteria and then rolling back the decision and raising backward classes quota from 31% to 50%. This biography does not miss any of this.

    When writing about a larger than life figure, one tends to place more emphasis on the aura and mythology around the person and less on the man himself. R. Kannan manages to tease out a balanced picture of the man, with all his idiosyncrasies and foibles, his achievements and faltering, his personality and politics.

    MGR: A Life; R. Kannan, Penguin Random House, ₹499.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Books> Reviews / by K. Venkataraman / September 16th, 2017

  • scissors


    Narayanan Kumar receives Foreign Minister’s Commendations

    The Consulate General of Japan awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendations to Narayanan Kumar, president of the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IJCCI), on Tuesday.

    Seiji Baba, Consul General of Japan, who presented the certificates of commendation, said Mr. Kumar has contributed significantly to the development of Japan-India relations, especially in business cooperation, as well as the dissemination of knowledge, culture and information about Japan.

    “He has done this through a number of programmes of the IJCCI, including publishing Gateway Newsletter and establishing the Centre for Japanese Studies. He visited Japan as the head of an IJCCI delegation and met Kiyoshi Odawara, the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs,” he added.

    Mr. Baba also noted the contributions made by IJCCI to promote business relations between the two countries.

    Mr. Kumar said,“I really hope business cooperation between the two countries will reach great heights,” he added.

    source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Staff Reporter / Chennai – August 30th, 2017

  • scissors

    What do you know about Campbellabad, I was asked the other day. Thinking I still knew the Political Geography I had once specialised in, “It’s a town in Pakistan,” I casually answered. Only to be told it’s a 300-year-old village in Tuticorin District. When my caller wanted to know whether what the locals had told him, that it was named after a Madras Governor, was correct, I was a little more careful. “I think Governor Campbell was some time later but let me check,” I hesitantly answered.

    So achecking I went. And found Sir Archibald Campbell was Governor from 1786 to 1789, not quite 300 years ago. But I also found that there was another Archibald Campbell, a Madras Civilian from 1896 to 1937. He has been involved with the raising of the Mettur Dam (1925-934), retired as Chief Secretary and had served on the Boards of Revenue and Irrigation. He was more likely to have had something to do with land settlement for which the Muslim settlers could have named their new village after him. But that was just 100 years ago.


    Later that day, who should I bump into but Civilian Campbell — or at least a bust of him in the 1901 banqueting hall of the Freemasons of Madras. He had been an ardent Freemason and started the Sir Arthur Campbell Lodge in Madras in 1930. This was the first Lodge where both Europeans and Indians could be members, on condition each spent at least six months a year in the others’ country (Miscellany, March 11, 2013).

    While the bust and I looked each other in the eye, the voices swirling around us talked of the August celebration of 300 years of English Freemasonry with the consecration of the first Grand Lodge of the English Order in London. There was that number again, but this time the records showed the date was indeed 1717. Thirty-five years later, the Grand Lodge of Madras was consecrated. From then on, till the British left India, virtually every British official who was anyone in Madras was a Freemason, it would seem.

    Two winners of honours

    Two residents of Madras many decades ago whom I met recently were on quick visits to the city. To me the link between them were the honours they’d won, rather more distinguished and national in the case of one, rather more local in the case of the other. But both were greeted with the same warmth and enthusiasm by their former colleagues on the occasion of the 150th year celebrations of their respective affiliations.

    It was while visiting his old school, Lawrence of

    Lovedale, as a distinguished guest that Paul Sabapathy from Birmingham heard that he had been honoured for the third time by the Queen of England. An OBE in 1995 for urban regeneration, a CBE in 2004 for his contribution to business and higher education was being followed by a CVO (Companion of the Royal Victorian Order) for his services as Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands.


    As Lord Lieutenant, he was the Queen’s personal representative in the area from 2007 to 2015. It could well have been a knighthood if an email of his had not been leaked. In it, after a visit to the Pakistan consulate in the city, he was critical of the Pakistani community of Birmingham. Apologising, then stepping down was not enough.

    Sabapathy, who went to Birmingham 53 years ago, soon after graduating from Madras Christian College, had a rather remarkable record in Britain. He was the first non-white to be a Lord Lieutenant (a 550-year-old institution), chairman of a British University (Birmingham City U), and a President of the Walsall Chamber of Commerce.

    Unlike Sabapathy, Demitrius Sarandis was no public figure except in the small world of rowing in India. And in the even smaller world of the Madras Boat Club (MBC) he was welcomed for all he had achieved when he was a member (1958-1962).



    Sarandis, from Greece, came out as a 22-year-old to Madras in 1957 to monitor the machinery that his company in the UK had supplied to the South India Flour Mills. While first living in that legendary chummery Chesney Hall, and then closer to the Club, he established an enviable record becoming the MBC’s Captain of Boats within three years. He’d never rowed in his life till a fellow resident at the chummery made him a member of the Boat Club. There, some thought him too small, others, seeing his scanty hair and luxuriant moustache, thought him more aged than he was and too old (35) to row successfully. But taught by the boat boys, he rowed competitively for the first time in 1959. Beating KR Ramachandran, reckoned till then the best Club sculler, Sarandis went on to team with him and win the Pairs too. In three years, his trophy cupboard was full. But then, faced with visa problems, he had to go back — and greater honours were not to be his.

    The chronicler of Madras that is Chennai tells stories of people, places and events from the years gone by and, sometimes, from today

    source: / The Hindu / Home> Madras Miscellany> Society / by S. Muthiah / July 31st, 2017

  • scissors
    One of the remotely-operable tanks at an exhibition organised by DRDO in the city

    One of the remotely-operable tanks at an exhibition organised by DRDO in the city



    • Muntra-S is the country’s first tracked unmanned ground vehicle developed for unmanned surveillance missions
    • Muntra-M is for detecting mines
    • Muntra-N is for operation in areas where there is a nuclear radiation or bio weapon risk
    • ___________________________

    Chennai :

    Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an unmanned, remotely operated tank which has three variants – surveillance, mine detection and reconnaissance in areas with nuclear and bio threats. It is called Muntra. Though developed and tested for the Army by Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) in Avadi, paramilitary has expressed interest to use them at Naxal-hit areas. That will require a few modifications.

    The two remotely operated vehicles designed like an armoured tank were on display at an exhibition – Science for Soldiers – organised by DRDO as a tribute to former President APJ Abdul Kalam at CVRDe in Avadi.

    Muntra-S is the country’s first tracked unmanned ground vehicle developed for unmanned surveillance missions while Muntra-M is for detecting mines and Muntra-N is for operation in areas where there is a nuclear radiation or bio weapon risk.

    The vehicle has been tested and validated at Mahajan field firing range in Rajasthan under dusty desert conditions where temperatures touched 52 C. Army comfortably tele-operated the vehicle. It has surveillance radar, an integrated camera along with laser range finder which can be used to spy on ground target 15km away – may be a crawling men or heavy vehicles.

    The exhibition also showcased CCPT vehicle which is a remote command centre.

    From a helmet-mounted night vision to nano-driven thermal and electromagnetic protection and laser weapons, DRDO showcased hundreds of products in an exhibition aimed at boosting the confidence of its employees and to change a negative perception towards the organisation in the government at heavy vehicles factory.

    Besides heavy vehicles, DRDO labs also showcased a few inventions like a handheld wall penetration radar which if placed on a wall will project on a screen the presence of people inside a building and also a nano-based electro-magnetic shield which protects combat systems from electromagnetic attack and also a GSM monitoring system which helps to listen in on encrypted calls of mobile phones.

    DRDO chairman S Christopher said the products displayed would convey the technical competence of the organisation to the soldiers and the society. He also said DRDO was working on installing AWAC (Airborne Early Warning and Control System) on an A330 aircraft. The system is now perfected for use on a smaller Embraer plane. The exhibition will be open to the public on Sunday.

    Chennai: DRDO is looking for exporting version one or two of some weapon systems which become redundant for the Army because they have acquired newer versions, said its chairman S Christopher on Friday.

    After inaugurating an exhibition that showcased a wide range of products that they were in talks with countries to export weapons and systems that are phased out by the Army due to acquisition of latest versions, he said, “Older versions are good for some countries which have shown interest. Some of the systems under development too could be exported. It would also create goodwill.” He, however, did not reveal name of any country. He also said DRDO had urged the government to “allow us to test the products which we may not want immediately but can still be developed and exported. Torpedoes, rockets and missiles are a few products that are being considered for export.” He gave the example of Pinaki rocket as latest GPS-driven ones have been developed.

    Christopher also said DRDO products were ranked well world over. “We are fourth in the world in AWAC and fighter planes, fifth in missiles. Arjun is not far away from being the best among some countries.”

    As the thrust is on roping in private companies, DRDO is looking at capitalising on intellectual property. Private companies are being roped in because they are better placed to market and manufacture DRDO products and the Army seems to be more receptive when products are presented by private companies. Already 1 lakh crore has been generated in two years.
    “If we can generate 5 lakh crore in five years we do not have to depend on government for funds,” he said.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Chennai News / by V Ayyappan, TNN / July 29th, 2017

  • scissors

    Chennai :

    The achievement of  Tamil Nadu’s power utility, providing connections in a single day, seems to have become a big hit, with may discoms keen on replicating the scheme in their states.

    The 16,000 connections, including domestic, provided by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Company Ltd (Tangedco) so far figured prominently at the recent conference of chairmen of discoms in New Delhi.

    Under the scheme, consumers seeking a connection can apply and pay the required charges online and receive the new connection within 24 hours. Residents of Chennai region, which includes parts of Kancheepuram  and Tiruvallur districts, have benefited the most, receiving 8,036 connections.

    Only those consumers who are not part of any special or multi-storey buildings falling under the ‘mere service connection category’ are allowed to apply under the scheme. “The applicants of the LT domestic and commercial service connections can apply either through Tangedco’s web portal ( or in person at the section office concerned. In online mode, the applicant has to fill all the details in the application and upload the scanned copies of the supporting documents,” a senior official told TOI.

    The applicants have to ensure that valid documents being uploaded are in complete shape before making online payments. They can pay the charges at the time of registering the application either online or in person at the office concerned.

    “We briefed the chairmen [of various discoms] about the scheme and immediately the Centre wanted states to implement it depending on their resources and availabilty of power,” said the official.

    At the meeting held on Saturday last in New Delhi, the financial turnaround that Tangedco had acheieved came up for discussion, with almost all the participating delegates expressing awe at the acheievement. The steps the discom had put in place to make itself financially viable even before it joined the Ujwal Discom Rejuvenation Yojana (Uday) scheme of the central government came in for praise.

    “A new domestic connection before the introduction of the scheme used to take 30 days and 60 days for new low tension industrial connection as it involved extension of the transformers or setting up new ones.

    But the delay has now been avoided with the introduction of new schemes in both the sectors,” said the official.

    All chief engineers of Tangedco have been asked to take necessary action to ensure that meters and other service connection material are available in the stores for effecting service connections without any delay.

    “Once an application for a new LT connection is received, the officials are expected to monitor the progress in providing the connection. Superintending engineers will be taken to task if there is any delay in providing the connection,” he said.

    source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Chennai News> Civic News / by Sivakumar / July 28th, 2017

  • « Older Entries