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    This was the second time Capt. Divya participated in the Republic Day parade after marching as an NCC cadet in 2008. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    This was the second time Capt. Divya participated in the Republic Day parade after marching as an NCC cadet in 2008. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan / The Hindu

    Chennaiite Capt. Divya Ajith Kumar led the widely-celebrated first all-woman Army contingent in the Republic Day parade

    On a chilly winter Monday, amidst a light drizzle, history was made as an all-woman Army contingent marched on the stretch in Rajpath, New Delhi, during the Republic Day parade.

    Seated in the audience, in gallery no. 14, was Binah Ajith Kumar. A resident of Madipakkam, her heart overflowed with pride as the women officers marched by. After all, the contingent was led by her daughter Capt. Divya Ajith Kumar.

    “Her contingent was the first to march after the display of military firepower, machines and vehicles. When it was announced that the first ever all-woman Army contingent was marching by, everyone in the audience rose and applauded. When my daughter’s name was announced as contingent commander, I was overjoyed; it was the most memorable moment in my life,” Ms. Binah recalls.

    Belonging to the Corps of Army Air Defence, Capt. Divya marched past the dignitaries and audience, flanked by two woman officers. They were followed by 144 serving woman officers from the Army and trainee lady cadets from OTA.

    This is not the first time Capt. Divya is marching on the Rajpath stretch. She had also led the all-India contingent of National Cadet Corps’s senior division girls wing for the Republic Day parade in 2008, when she won the All India Best Girl Cadet and best parade commander awards. Capt. Divya was a student of Good Shepherd Convent and a B. Com graduate from Stella Maris College.

    Her NCC officer from college, Dolly Thomas, remembers her as very focussed and hardworking. “She was very responsible and used to single-handedly take care of Cadostar, our annual inter-college NCC festival,” Prof. Thomas says.

    Capt. Divya graduated from college in 2009, cleared the Combined Defence Services Examination and joined OTA the same year. She passed out in 2010, bagging the sword of honour – the first woman to receive it in the history of the academy, where she is now an instructor. She had earlier served in Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir.

    “It was a terrific feeling and I got a lot of calls of appreciation. I want more young women, especially from Tamil Nadu, to join the army,” adds the 25-year-old, who, like any true Chennaiite, is a fan of the Marina Beach.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai> Society / by K Manikandan / January 28th, 2015

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    STILL AS STONE: Akshintha La Se Shu Babu has already entered the Limca Book of Records

    STILL AS STONE: Akshintha La Se Shu Babu has already entered the Limca Book of Records

    Madurai :

    On Monday, people attending the Republic Day celebrations at NMSS Vellaichamy Nadar College were surprised to find what was, at first glance, a brand new statue of Mahatma Gandhi. Till Sunday evening, no such statue had been spotted on the premises, and many believed that an Aluminium structure had been mounted for the special occasion.

    In fact, the Gandhi ‘statue’ was Akshinthala Seshu Babu, a 44-year-old man from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh, who is attempting to set a new record by standing still for at least 36 hours at a stretch. Dressing in Bapu’s attire, Seshu Babu began his stillness feat at 10.30 am on Monday here, and is aiming to continue in the pose till 10.30 pm on Tuesday.

    Sesha Babu, who began standing still in public in 1993, when he stood motionless for four hours at a function in Vijayawada, has already entered the Limca Book of Records and has won several competitions. With the latest stunt, he is hoping to break his own record of 35 hours which again, he performed dressed as the Mahatma.

    According to Sesha Babu, standing still is not as easy task. It requires painful preparation, and being a regular yoga practitioner has helped him a lot, he said. Moreover, he tried to keep his physique fit by running and cycling, he said.

    He had been fascinated by Gandhi since childhood, Babu added, and the objective of his performance was to demonstrate the principles of Gandhi to the nation’s youth, which he hoped might influence them to fight the evils in the society in a non-violent way.

    “Most people know about Gandhi but remain ignorant of the principles he stood for. Since there is a lot of violence in the world today, I want to create this record and spread the message of living in harmony,” he said.

    Besides, the performance would also demonstrate the importance of leading a healthy life, he said, without which such a feat would be impossible to achieve.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / TNN / January 27th, 2015

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    Major Mukund Varadharajan

    Major Mukund Varadharajan

    Indu Rebecca Varghese, wife of martyred officer Major Mukund Varadharajan is in New Delhi to receive the Ashok Chakra award bestowed on her husband, on Monday.

    Maj. Mukund’s father R. Varadharajan, who has accompanied his daughter-in-law to the national capital, told The Hindu that it was a proud moment for their family as many of his son’s colleagues called on them to congratulate.

    Mr. Varadharajan, who spoke over phone, said: “When Maj. Ashutosh Pandey, the officer who substituted Mukund’s place in the  44th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles (22 Rajput) narrated tales of Mukund’s bravery and subtleness in handling crisis in the battle to fight terrorism, it brought tears to my eyes,” he said.

    Mukund’s four-year-old daughter Arshea is also in New Delhi for the award ceremony on Tuesday.

    Tambaram resident, Mukund Varadharajan, who laid down his life fighting insurgents in Kashmir, has been posthumously awarded the nation’s highest peacetime gallantry award ‘Ashok Chakra’.

    Major Mukund Varadarajan, of 44th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles (22 Rajput) was leading an anti-terrorist search operation in Shopian in South Kashmir. He was killed in an encounter with Hizbul Mujahideen militants in April last year.

    He gunned down two heavily armed terrorists before breathing his last.

    Maj. Mukund’s mother, Geetha Varadharajan said: “we take this award as a reward for our son’s bravery in combating terrorism and it will give us courage to bear the loss.”

    “We take this award as a reward for our son’s bravery”

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by T. Madhavan / Chennai – January 26th, 2015

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    January 27th, 2015adminLeaders, Records, All

    Chennai :

    Three police officials including ADGP Sunil Kumar and IG P Kannappan were awarded President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service ahead of Republic Day.

    In addition, 21 officers were selected for the same.

    Sunil Kumar is now a member of TNUSRB, while Kannappan is head of the Intelligence wing.

    In addition, PC Sivakumar, an SSI with the DVAC, too was awarded.

    Others include DIG (Coimbatore) Ayush Tiwari, DIG (Salem) Vidya Kulkarni, ASP R Veeraperumal and ASP (Chennai) S Flora Jayanthi.

    source: http://www.neewindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service / January 26th, 2015

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    Chennai :

    Tamil Nadu had a modest share in Sunday’s Padma awards list. Of the nine Padma Vibhushan awardees, one is from Tamil Nadu, and out of 20 Padma Bhushan awardees two are from the state. Of 75 Padma Shri awardees, three are from Tamil Nadu.

    Nuclear scientist M R Srinivasan is the sole candidate from the state to bag Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honor, next to Bharat Ratna. He was conferred Padma Bhushan a quarter century ago, in 1990, and Padma Shri three decades ago, in 1984. A team member of the legendary Homi Bhabha, Srinivasan was involved in India’s first nuclear research reactor Apsara in mid-1950s.

    He later became chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and rose to be secretary of department of atomic eergy. Srinivasan was founder-chairman of Nuclear Power Corporation of India, in 1987. He was responsible for a total of 18 nuclear power units in the country.

    The two Padma Bhushan awardees from the state are former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami, and Carnatic singer Sudha Ragunathan.

    Gopalaswami, a 1966 IAS officer of Gujarat cadre, was chief election commissioner from June 2006 to April 2009. He was former union home secretary as well, and had held posts of secretery in department of culture, and secretary-general in National Human Rights Commission. “It is a happy feeling to have won the award. I would like to acknowledge the fact that work done by others has helped me fetch the honour. It is not just an individual’s work, but a whole team has worked for me to get this credit. I am grateful for the recognition. Good work never goes waste,” Gopalaswami told TOI.

    Sudha Raghunathan is one the best recognizable faces in Carnatic music circles, and among the most sought-after vocalist during music seasons. A distinguished disciple of M L Vasanthakumari, Sudha Raghunathan got her Padma Shri award in 2004.

    When contacted, she told TOI: “I am extremely happy and overwhelmed on winning the award. I am grateful to the government for the honour. Through the years, there have been many people who stood by me and motivated me. I want to thank the God almighty. I want to thank my guru M L Vasantha Kumari, mother V Choodamani and fans from all around the world. I want to thank the organisers who have encouraged me from my teen years for all their support.”

    A top-notch violinist and this year’s recipient of Padma Shri award, A Kanyakumari is a recipient of TN government’s Kalaimamani award as well.

    Two other Padma Shri awardees from the state are former civil servants P V Rajaraman and R Vasudevan.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / TNN / January 26th, 2015

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    January 21st, 2015adminBusiness & Economy, Records, All, World Opinion
    Venu Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Motor Company, was appointed ‘Goodwill Envoy for Public Diplomacy’ of the Republic of Korea at an event Monday —Photo: Special Arrangement

    Venu Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Motor Company, was appointed ‘Goodwill Envoy for Public Diplomacy’ of the Republic of Korea at an event Monday —Photo: Special Arrangement

    The Republic of Korea is a shining example for India and Indians to learn from, in terms of development, said Venu Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Motor Company.

    He was addressing a gathering after being appointed ‘Goodwill Envoy for Public Diplomacy’ of the Republic of Korea at an event held in the city on Monday.

    Kyungsoo Kim, Consul General of Republic of Korea in Chennai, conferred the title on Mr. Srinivasan before lauding the entrepreneur’s dedication to the promotion of Korean culture among Indians.

    The industrialist was feted with the recognition for his efforts towards strengthening the relationship between the East Asian nation and India for more than a decade.

    Addressing the guests, who included foreign diplomats and Korean industrialists, Mr. Srinivasan reminisced on his 15-year-long association with Korean culture and its people. “Looking into history, Indians has had strong links with Korea, which is rich in arts and culture. Today, I respect what Korea, once a war-torn nation, has achieved mainly in terms of commerce, which is flourishing,” Mr. Srinivasan added.

    N. Ravi, Editor-in-chief, The Hindu , said Korea has become a household name in the Indian electronics market.

    Lauding Mr. Srinivasan on the title, Mr. Ravi added, “Apart from his entrepreneurial spirit and innovations in his field of work, he has touched the lives of over a million people with his rural development and temple restoration projects. This honour from Korea will have a special place in his heart.”

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Staff Reporter / Chennai – January 21st, 2015

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    Vellore :

    Students, faculty and trustees of Sigaram Matriculation School in Vaniyambadi , on the eve of the 66th Republic Day celebrations, will be creating the world’s largest Indian national flag using plain salt scheduled to take place in the school premises on Sunday, January 25.

    Students will be using around 40 tons of plain salt to create the largest national flag measuring 3,456 square meters (72 meters in length and 48 meters in breadth) on the ground. In addition 300 kgs each of Red and Green coloring powders and 90 kg of blue color power will be used.

    The event will begin by 7.30 am on Sunday morning and the salt flag should be ready by 2.30 pm well within the 12 hour period the world record authorities have allowed for setting this particular record.

    The world record will be judged by officials from various World Record agencies such as Asian Records Academy (Singapore), India Records Academy (Mumbai) and Tamilan Book of Records who will be present on the occasion. Each participant in the event will also receive a certificate after the acceptance of the record by the adjudicating agencies.

    “We have conducted special classes and training to all the students and they have been practicing for the big day for two months,” said the college principal Kalpana.

    source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Express News Service / January 21st, 2015

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    G. Kanagaraj

    G. Kanagaraj

    Head constable G. Kanagaraj, who lost his life in July last while attempting to nab an individual involved in sand smuggling, has been chosen for the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Police Medal for Gallantry.

    An official release said the head constable was about to apprehend Suresh in Uriyurkuppam, near Thakkolam of Vellore district, who was seeking to take away sand illegally from the Kosthalaiyar river bed. The legal heir of the deceased head constable would be given a cash prize of Rs. five lakh.

    Besides, 1,500 police and other uniformed services personnel, belonging to the rank of police constable, head constables and equivalent ranks would be given the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Constabulary Medals for Pongal.

    One hundred and twenty Fire and Rescue Services personnel in the ranks of Leading Fireman, Driver Mechanic, Fireman Drivers and Firemen and 60 Prison Service personnel in the rank of Grade-I Warder would be given the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Medals.

    Medal allowance

    The monthly medal allowance to the recipients of the medals would be Rs.200/- with effect from February 1, irrespective of their rank. The medals would be presented to the recipients at their respective district headquarters.

    In addition, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Medal for excellence in technical and specialised services would be given to five personnel — two each from the Police Radio Branch and the Dog Squad and one police photographer. The officers in the rank of constable and head constable would get Rs.3,000; those in the levels of sub-inspectors and inspectors – Rs. 4,000 and deputy superintendents of police – Rs. 6,000. The medal would be presented by Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam later, the release said.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by Special Correspondent / Chennai – January 15th, 2015

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    Chennai :

    The long wait to read rare palm leaves and paper manuscripts at the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library and Research Centre will soon be over. In a rare initiative, the state archaeology department on Tuesday launched e-publishing of manuscripts, beginning with Saptarishi Nadi, an astrology-based palm leaf manuscript in its portal, www.tnarch.gov.in

    The 145-year-old treasure house was a result of laborious efforts of British linguists and historians, Col Colin Mackenzie, C P Brown, Rev T Foulkes and Prof Pickford and later conserved by the state. The priceless manuscripts give deep insight into literature, astronomy, siddha, Ayurveda, unani, veda, agama, architecture and fine arts, written in Sanskrit, South Indian and Oriental languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Urdu, Persian, Sinhalese, and Burmese and Kaifiyats (historical accounts) of various periods. The bundles of manuscripts stocked in the library have been great resource material for scholars pursing research on ancient works.

    While the manuscripts are 300 to 400 years old, many are in a state of decay. “We have taken 23 lakh pages of these manuscripts for digitization and completed 10% of the work so far. In another 18 months, the entire process will come to an end benefitting global researchers,” Archeology commissioner D Karthikeyan told TOI. The library has some rare manuscripts of classical literature, Tholkappiyam, a work on Tamil grammar, with Nachinarkiniyar commentary, Nakkeerar’s Tirumurukatrupadai, the Sangam literature in praise of Lord Subramaniya and the two-century-old Kari-Naal, a smallest palm-leaf manuscript about inauspicious days. “It’s a treasure house that needs to be preserved and disseminated. Digitization is a welcome move,” said Roja Muthiah Research Library director G Sundar. The library has chipped in with expertise to digitize the leaves with clarity.

    “The manuscripts are digitized 300 to 600 dpi or pixel resolution and converted to pdf or tiff format. Before the manuscripts are taken up for scanning, the old leaves are cleaned with brush followed by a rectified spirit,” Library curator S Vasanthi said. The 5% of solution of citronella oil or lemon grass oil in rectified spirit is applied and allowed to dry. This not only gives flexibility to the leaves, but also provides insecticidal and fungicidal property to the palm-leaf manuscripts.

    The manuscripts are digitized 300 to 600 dpi or pixel resolution and converted to portable document format or tiff format.

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by Julie Mariappan, TNN / January 14th, 2014

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    January 12th, 2015adminRecords, All, Sports

    Arikapudi Ramana Rao is a rarity in Indian volleyball.

    Not only did he excel for his native state (Andhra Pradesh), Rao also shone in Tamil Nadu, his `second home’.Rao carved a niche for himself as a coach too, becoming in 1986 an FIVB (Federation Internationale de Volleyball) instructor, the first Indian to do so.

    It is no surprise then that Rao, the national team’s head coach during the Asian volleyball championships in Perth, Australia, in 1991, is among the chosen few to have won both the Arjuna award (in 1977-78) and the prestigious Dronacharya award (in 1990-91).

    Born in Chamallapudi village near Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, volleyball caught Rao’s attention relatively late, at college.”While studying at Hindu College in Guntur, I used to play both basketball and volleyball regularly since both courts were side-by-side,” recalls Rao.He did well for the college in both disciplines. “There came a point when I had to choose between the two, and I went with volleyball,” says Rao. It was a master-stroke because soon after his graduation, Rao got an offer to join the Southern Central Railway (SCR) team in Hyderabad. “At SCR, I had an opportunity to play in various nationallevel tournaments which gave me the exposure. Soon, I featured in the Indian team which was a huge high,” he says.

    In 1970, Rao shifted base to the erstwhile Madras, courtesy an offer from State Bank of India (SBI) “They (SBI) had to wait for about six months before I joined, since Railways were reluctant to relieve me. I had to report on April 30, 1970, and I got my relieving order only a day prior to that,” says Rao. But that didn’t affect Rao’s performance and he soon made his mark with his new employers in his new home. “SBI had a great side, and most of the members were part of the state side.”

    He may have been a part of numerous victorious squads throughout his glittering career, but winning the maiden national title for his adopted state remains close to Rao’s heart. “The 1975-76 nationals in Trichy where we won the title were special. We were two sets down in the final, and the crowd, which had gathered in large numbers, left the stadium disappointed. By the time we pulled things back, there were very few left to cheer us,” says Rao.

    However, many fans came to congratulate Rao the next day after learning about Tamil Nadu’s spectacularwin through the newspapers. “Be it during a practice session or during a game -we were always cheered by the spectators in Madras.

    If not for the crowd, I don’t think there will be volleyball or the players,” he says.

    It is thanks to the efforts of the likes of Rao and G E Sridharan, another stalwart from the state that Tamil Nadu remains a force to reckon with in volleyball in the country .

    (A weekly column on famous sport spersons whose first playing field was Chennai and its neighbourhood)

    source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by Prasad RS, TNN / January 10th, 2014

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