September 29th, 2014Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Records, All, World Opinion
The news that the Schmidt Memorial on Elliot’s Beach was being restored and the area around it landscaped is welcome indeed. But while this memorial has kept alive for several decades memories of the courage of a young Danish mercantile executive (Miscellany, September 23, 2013), there have been at least two other persons with Danish connections in the city’s past who deserve commemoration for significant contributions they made to Madras — and even to India.
John Goldingham was of Danish descent but was more British than Dane. He was the first official head of the oldest modern observatory in the country and of the oldest modern technical school in Asia, both surviving to this day. But better remembered is what was considered his patron Lord Edward Clive’s folly — or entertainment space. Built by Goldingham to host the Governor’s Council, thisAssembly Hall became better known as Banqueting Hall (and should I say ‘Ballroom’?) but today languishes as Rajaji Hall. Making me wonder how this splendid building can be revived and given new life.
Goldingham’s contributions may be remembered by a few, but very, very few outside the scientific community are likely to remember a German who made Denmark his home and later contributed significantly to India. Dr. Johann Gerhard König was a Danish-trained physician who served the Madras Government in the late 18th Century but became better known as ‘The Father of Indian Botany’, with scientific botany in India emerging through his efforts.
Born in what is now Latvia, König moved to Denmark in 1748 to study and became a private pupil of Linnaeus at Uppsala University from 1757. He lived and worked in Denmark till he came out to Tranquebar in 1768 to serve the Danish Halle Mission as its medical officer. Simultaneously, he worked with the Nawab of Arcot as his Naturalist and travelled throughout his domain (virtually what became the Madras Presidency) and Ceylon. In 1778, he was appointed the East India Company’s first Natural Historian /Naturalist/ Botanist and served in that capacity till his death near Vizagapatam in 1785. Amongst those who benefitted from his training them as naturalists were the Rev. Christoph John and Rev. Johann Rottler in Tranquebar and William Roxburgh in Madras. It was Roxburgh who treated him during his last days in what is now Andhra Pradesh when dysentery was felling him. J. König, a name to reckon with in Indian botanical terminology, was responsible for South India being the earliest centre for botanical and zoological research in the country.
Until König came along, plants found in India by the ‘greens’ were sent to Europe to be classified and described by scientists like Linnaeus and others. König introduced the Linnaean rules in India and was soon followed by others. Many of these students of Indian vegetation in the Peninsula and Ceylon, like James Anderson, Francis Hamilton-Buchanan, Roxburgh, Rottler, and John and a few others formed a society to promote botanical studies, exchanged specimens and information on new species collected, and, acting in concert as a society, named them. But as they became more confident of their botanical knowledge, some of them began naming their finds themselves without consultation. All this information was sent by them to European botanists who published the information under the names sent to them or under names they had changed the originals to. Later authors of botanical information, like Edward Balfour and Robert Wight, tended to use the names in general use at the time, but also offered the synonyms that had been earlier used. One of the names listed is Murraya Königii, a species of curry leaves.
Footnote: Searching for material for this column constantly throws up new leads to follow. And while writing today’s piece I came across the name of Dr. Francis Appavoo. Here was an Indian who, as early as the 1860s, was in charge of the Conservator of Forests’ office in Madras. I wonder if anyone can tell me more about him.
A commitment to restoration
I had met Father Vijay Kiran many years ago in the Archbishopric’s archives and had been very pleased to meet someone who was more than an administrator, who was, in fact, a person who valued the riches he was in charge of. When I heard he had been transferred, I was rather dismayed because it would have been difficult to find someone who would have appreciated as much as him the history of the archdiocese. I was therefore delighted when I met him the other day to find that his interest in the past had led him to becoming a committed conservationist, now calling on his fellow Roman Catholic clergymen to maintain, and restore where necessary, their churches.
When I met Fr. Kiran a couple of weeks ago, it was at a viva for his second doctorate. His thesis this time was Conservation of Church Architecture (Buildings) and Their Artifacts in Tamil Nadu, and it was an excellent presentation that he made of it, ending with an appeal to parish priests to ensure regular maintenance of their churches and restoration of them if they were heritage buildings. Towards this end, he urged the support of the archdioceses.
After the presentation, I was rather surprised when an elderly, rather well-spoken man, who I got the impression was a retired priest, wondered whether it was really necessary to restore old churches when it was so much less expensive to build new ones to suit the congregations of today. He had me wondering whether, with his obviously cultured background, he really appreciated the cinematic elements that have been creeping into representations in many churches, whether all new churches had to sport St. Peter’s domes, and whether, if heritage was not particularly important, the leaders of faiths for hundreds of years should be forsaken for new messiahs.
Be that as it may, what was particularly pleasing was to hear that Fr. Kiran had during his three-year parish priesthood at St. Anthony’s, Pudupet, collected over Rs. 25 lakh to restore that 80-plus-year-old church using the best possible conservation practices that he had read about and heard of from a few conservationists. With this knowledge he had supervised the entire work — and now it only needed regular maintenance to retain its attention-drawing appearance.
There is a tradition that the French Capuchins had ministered to the needs of the rather impoverished Roman Catholics of Pudupet before it became the parish of Pudupet in 1873, a part of the then Archdiocese of Mylapore. Fr. Y. Arulappa was appointed parish priest in 1909 and was to hold the post for the next 20 years. It was during his tenure that the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, the church restored by Fr. Kiran, was built, being consecrated in September 1927. Starting a collection drive in October 1920, Fr. Arulappa had funds enough by the end of the year to have the confidence to invite a papal dignitary to lay the foundation in January 1921. But collecting the funds to finish the work was a slow process.
Priests who succeeded Fr. Arulappa embellished the church over the years that followed — a pale wooden altar was replaced by a gleaming ebony one, the interior was painted and improved with paintings, and other elements of beauty were added. All those and the building itself have now been restored — an example for the nearly 1,200 Catholic churches in Tamil Nadu, about 375 of which date to before 1947 and considered by Fr. Kiran, who visited and listed all of them for his thesis, as heritage churches. He hopes his lead will be followed in other States and by other denominations. For me, it was great to find a fellow-enthusiast for heritage.
When the postman knocked…
* Does John Pereira’s Garden still exist and, if so, where, wonders reader Raymond Pereira. I don’t know whether my correspondent is a descendant of John Pereira, but I can only disappoint him. To the best of my knowledge, the garden, once a small coconut thope at the southwest extremity of Peddanaickenpet, in the vicinity of where the General Hospital was developed, no longer exists, being completely built over. It belonged originally to Joao Pereira de Faria (John Pereira), a prosperous merchant of Negapatam (Nagapattinam), who fled the Dutch occupation and re-settled in Madras in 1660 with a house in White Town (Fort St. George). The Fort had 118 houses within it at the time, 79 of them belonging to Portuguese merchants and employees of the East India Company. Pereira’s daughter Escolastica married Cosmo Lourenco Madera (or Madeiros) who built the Descanco Church on St. Mary’s Road, Mylapore. Their son, the merchant-seafarer Luis Madera, was the owner of the garden house that his widow Antonia Madeiros sold to Governor Saunders and which became the nucleus ofGovernment House, so rudely pulled down not so long ago to build a new legislature that has now been transformed into a hospital.
* My reference the other day to the statue of Rev. G.U. Pope on the Marina (Miscellany, September 8), had K.V. Iyer asking me whether I knew that Pope owed his Tamil scholarship to Ramanuja Kavirayar. Not only did I not know that, but I must confess that I had not heard of Pope’s guru. I did, however, go a-digging and found that this Ramanathapuram-born scholar was in his thirties when he come to Madras in 1820 and began bringing out in print for the first time the Tamil classics with commentaries. But simultaneously he began gaining a reputation as an outstanding teacher of Tamil. Among his pupils were Pope (who acknowledged him as “my first teacher of Tamil”), the Rev. Myron Winslow, the Rev. W.H. Drew and the Rev. C.T. Rhenius. He helped Winslow with his English-Tamil dictionary and Drew with his translation of the Thirukkural into English. The other two missionaries also owed much to his advice for the literary works they produced. But from all accounts, despite his contribution to Tamil literature, Ramanuja Kavirayar was best known as an outstanding scholar and teacher.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by S. Muthiah / September 28th, 2014
The story goes that the original recipe for sambar – a dish which is so intrinsic to Tamil Nadu cuisine – can actually be traced to Maratha ruler Shivaji’s son.
Legend has it that Shivaji’s son Sambhaji, who was one of the Maratha rulers, attempted to make dal for himself when his head chef was away. “He added a little tamarind to the dal that he made and no one in the royal kitchen dared to correct him on the fact that tamarind was not used in dal,” says S Suresh, Tamil Nadu state convener of Intach, who gave a lecture on Tanjore Maratha history earlier this week. “He loved his own concoction, which was then referred to as sambar,” says Suresh, who adds that the other culinary contribution of the Marathas – now very popular in Tamil Nadu – is ‘poli’ (sweet roti).
Although Sambhaji’s sambhar is more lore than recipe, and there are more than 50 varieties of sambar today, chefs do admit that the Tanjore sambar is still something to be savoured. “While the Sambhaji influenced sambhar was more a tamarind soup, the Thanjavur brahmin sambar recipe is mostly followed today – where there is no onion and garlic, and the dish is not heavy on spice,” says K Natarajan, corporate chef at Gateway Hotels and Resorts.
“But even today, the sambar of Tamil Nadu is very different from what you find in the state’s neighbour Karnataka,” says Vasanthan Sigamany, associate professor of food sociology and anthropology at the Welcom Group Graduate School of Hotel Management, Manipal. “In TN, dry powders are used, while in Karnataka they use wet pastes. In Tamil Nadu, in a traditional vegetarian meal, sambar is served first and then rasam, but it is the opposite in Karnataka,” he says.
Sigamany adds that while in Tamil Nadu only local vegetables such as drumstick, radish or brinjal are used in the sambar, in other states like Kerala, ‘English’ vegetables – that became popular during the British rule in India – such as potato and carrot are used.
Over the years, sambar has seen numerous variations. Chef Damu, who specializes in Tamil Nadu cuisine, for instance, says that apart from the 30 varieties of vegetarian sambar that he prepares, he has also flirted with the idea of seafood sambar and chicken sambar, which weren’t big hits in south India. “People are still not open to the concept of chicken in their sambar. But to be honest, it is delicious,” he says.
But perhaps the most unusual of the sambars that evolved is the ‘milk sambar’, which food blogger and cooking instructor Roma Patil believes evolved in the 1930s, an unusual blend of Maratha and Jain traditions. “In Kolhapur, the Marathas ate a dish called Tambda Rassa, a kind of sambar made from lamb stock. The Rassa was so flavourful and aromatic that Jains there thought of adapting it for the Jain palate. They used milk instead of lamb stock and that was how milk sambar was made,” says Patil, who now lives in Belgaum.
source: http://www.timeofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by Kamini Mathai, TNN / September 26th, 2014
A Tiruchi-born techie working in Finland has become one of 89 Indians and the only Tamilian to have participated in a new world record setting tandem skydiving event in Spain recently.
P. S. Karthikeyan, 36, who works for Microsoft Mobile in Helsinki, Finland, took part in the April 25 challenge to set a world record (confirmed by the Guinness and Limca Book of World Records) for the largest group of Indian civilians to perform a total of 35 tandem jumps in an hour. The earlier record was 28 jumps. The same team had to abandon a similar 10-hour tandem jump attempt due to adverse weather.
The event, organised by the Maharashtra-based Phoenix Skydiving Academy, and sponsored by Indian businessman Manish Gupta, had a further Indian connection of being held at the Skydrive Empuriabrava centre in Girona, Spain, which was featured in the 2011 Bollywood hit Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
In the adventure sport, a student skydiver is connected by a harness to a tandem instructor who guides him or her through the whole jump. “I came to know about this adventure, earlier this year through my friend Vaibhav Rane, who is the husband of Indian skydiving pioneer (and Phoenix Academy founder) Shital Mahajan,” Karthikeyan told The Hindu in an email.
Despite hurting his feet on a rocky beach shortly before the event, Karthikeyan decided to go ahead with the skydive as it was a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.
“As this was a special day, I had decided to wear the T-shirt given by my brother, with the words ‘Engal vaazhvum engal valamum mangatha thamizh endru sange muzhangu,’ during this historic event,” he wrote.
Karthikeyan recalled his days as a student of Bishop Heber Higher Secondary School, Puthur, and the Jamal Mohammed College, and being allowed to “get away with adventures” as the youngest son in the family of four siblings.
source: http://www.thehindu.con / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Tiruchirapalli / by Nahla Nainar / Tiruchi – September 26th, 2014
September 27th, 2014Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Records, All, Science & Technologies
The century-old engineering workshop of Southern Railway at Arakkonam, which played a crucial role in building the country’s first sea bridge (Pamban Railway Bridge), is on the verge of closure due to shortage of manpower.
Established in 1905, the workshop played a vital role in the construction of major railway bridges, including the railway bridges in Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which come under the Southern Railway.
Among the workshop’s main products are welded type girders, riveted type girders, steel channel sleepers, dip lorry, push trolley, points and crossings assemblies, passenger platform shelters and foot over-bridges. Ten years ago, around 4,000 employees worked at various units of the workshop. Today, the workforce has reduced to less than 800. About 80 per cent retired over the years.
Sources said officials surrendered the vacant posts without filling them. One year ago, 30 were recruited through Railway Recruitment Board. But every year, at least 100 persons were retiring from service. “If this situation continues, the workforce will be reduced tremendously to less than 300 in the next three to four years,” an employee, who is also nearing retirement, said. In the next six to seven years, only 50 employees will be left, he added.
Employees said vacant posts were not filled intentionally in a bid to shut down the workshop. The workshop has been manufacturing components to build bridges, tracks, signals, crossings, switches, trolley, inter-loading wagons, moulding and casting of wheels.
Employees said the foundry shop of the workshop had already been closed and many other units were likely to be closed in the near future. The source said there were many employees in group-C category that comprises supervisors, while group-D category had fewer employees. Some employees, who were part of the labour unions, were not working properly, said a Railway staff.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by J. Shanmugha Sundaram / September 27th, 2014
September 25th, 2014Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Green Initiatives/ Environment, Inspiration/ Positive News and Features, Nature, Records, All
The All India Tiger Census 2013-2014 held in the three divisions of the Nilgiri forests and the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR), brought together a varied group of people, many of them participating for the first time in the tiger census.
A large section of the volunteers are members of different NGOs involved in wildlife activities and students of the forest college and wildlife zoology. A few of them had participated in the census previously and wanted to experience the thrill of it again. People from across the board participated including software engineers, fashion designers, business men and even journalists.
The seven-day tiger census started with a training programme on December 16 in Ooty. The volunteers were transported to their respective allotted beats in the forest areas on the same evening.
The breathtaking and exciting field survey started at 6.30 am on December 17 on the transect lines in all the beats in the three divisions of the Nilgiris forest as well in the MTR. The following five days included activities such as carnivore sign survey, ungulate encounter rate, vegetation and human interference and pellet counts of herbivores.
S Sathesh Premnath, a senior software engineer from Coimbatore, who is attending the census for the first time, said, “It was a fascinating experience. I was completely bowled over by the sense of adventure in spotting indirect signs and direct sightings of animals like elephants and gaurs. The census made me more aware of my social responsibility.”
For Karthick, a business man from Chennai, who is a wildlife enthusiast and has visited several forests and tiger reserves in India, the census was a great learning experience. “It is very exhilarating just wandering the forest searching for signs of carnivores and once in a while actually spotting a wild animal,” he said.
R Parameshwari, a first year student of Wildlife Zoology in the Ooty Government Arts College said, “On the first day of survey I was actually afraid to enter the reserve forest. But the forest staff encouraged me and were very supportive. I soon forget about my fear and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, despite the rough terrain we had to cover”.
Dr. K. Bharanidharan, assistant professor of the Wildlife Department in the Forestry College and Research Centre in Mettupalayam said, “Around 36 students from our college participated in the census in MTR. Though theoretically they are familiar with the wildlife subject, nothing can beat hands-on experience”.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Coimbatore / by Shantha Thiagarajan, TNN / December 23rd, 2013
The initiative by Lions Club International, District 324 A6 to honour the true heroes of the classroom brought recognition for Sapna Sankhla, principal of Narayana E-Techno School Arumbakkam.
Her 18 years of exemplary contribution to the cause of education led to her selection for the Best Teacher Award 2014.
Sapna was invited to attend the award ceremony on September 21 and was felicitated with a certificate and a citation by the chief guest, district governor PMJF Lion D Thulasingam, and guest of honour district chairperson MJF Lion S Balasekaran.
The chief guest in his address emphasised the importance of teachers and said that the award was presented in appreciation and recognition of outstanding service to the student community with dedication and devotion as a teacher.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Education> Student / by Express News Service / September 25th, 2014
On September 22, 1914, the unsuspecting shores of Madras were bombed by German cruiser, Emden, during World War I.
A whole 100 years on, the terror the word Emden invokes has lived on, and the word has crept into local slang to denote a person who is fearsome.
Yet lost in the narrative of notoriety, is the surprising reputation of generosity and honour the otherwise despised adversary earned, thanks to Captain Karl Von Muller and his crew.
In a series of articles featured in The Hindu on the experiences of those captured by Emden, accounts suggest that the crew, before vanquishing enemy ships, gave time to seamen onboard to collect essentials before being transferred as prisoners into the accompanying German liners.
A survivor of the sunken ship Indus was quoted as saying: “As we went on board, each man was handed a towel and a soap. The German engineers and inmates vacated their cabins to make room for us.”
It wasn’t for nothing that Muller was titled the ‘gentleman of the seas.’ Not only did he reduce casualties to the bare minimum but is also said to have treated his defeated captives well.
B.B Furbester, chief engineer of Pontuporous which was sunk by Emden, recalls, “As I stepped on board, the German chief engineer came forward and shook hands, saying, ‘Mr. Chief, you will be treated like a gentlemen. We can never tell, but we may be prisoners next.’ All the crew raised their caps to me and the skipper came down… also assuring me I would be treated well.”
The hostages were ensured three full meals, including coffee, served diligently at 6 p.m., every day.
Breakfast, consisting of porridge, boiled rice, milk, hot roast beef, and cheese, was provided at 7.30 a.m., while potatoes and sausages were prepared for ‘tiffin’ at noon.
Supper was light with portions of bread and butter distributed at 3 p.m.
The fact that Muller and many of his crew members spoke English was a further source of comfort for the hostages.
A.G.G. writing for the Daily News and Leader found that Muller, in many ways, embodied the best of the spirit of war.
He wrote, “He has fought without hate and without bitterness, with chivalry and good temper and he has shown that it is possible to be a brave man and a gentleman.”
It was said that if ever he were to land in Liverpool, where many of his victims had landed, he would be hosted to a lavish celebratory dinner.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai> Society / by Nitya Menon / Chennai – September 24th, 2014
September 24th, 2014About Chennai(Madras) / TamilNadu, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Records, All, World Opinion
Two persons, Francis Day and Andrew Cogan, decided to buy a strip of land. For them, it seemed a gamble. Now, three centuries and more later, we look back and find that the gamble did pay off.
August 22, 1639, South of Pulicat, Tamil Nadu
Two men were standing on a sandy strip by the beach. The afternoon sun was scorching, but they didn’t seem to mind the heat — considering they were Englishmen, obviously unused to such temperatures.
“So, you are satisfied, then?” asked one, his shoes scrunching in the sand.
“Rather a silly question to ask now, don’t you think?” replied the other, shielding his eyes as he stared across the sand to the choppy sea. “After all the endless haggling and arguing and signing of the required documents.”
“And that is when one always begins to question one’s decisions,” sighed the first man.
“I thought this place might be right if …”
“I thought the choice of location was mine,” cut in his companion.
“Yes it was, Mr. Day,” Andrew Cogan smiled slightly. “And that fact will go down for posterity, never fear. Let it be known, henceforth that Mr. Francis Day of the Honourable East India Company, having looked upon several sites to establish a factory…”
“And setting one right at the feet of the Dutch in Armagon, upon which we got on each others’ nerves.” Day put in with a grin.
“… for some very strange reason decided upon this sandy strip, some three miles long and one mile wide, south of a fishing kuppam …”
“Because this site offers us long cloth that’s cheaper than anywhere by almost 20 per cent. Excellent trade prospects, wouldn’t you say?”
Cogan carried on, as if there had been no interruption. “But choosing the site, ladies and gentlemen,” he informed his imaginary audience. “ …was only the beginning. Then began a protracted process of gaining an audience with the Nayak king who ruled these parts.”
“Wandiwash and Poonamallee.”
“And who went by the name of …” Cogan stopped. “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to their names. They break my teeth.”
“Damarla Venkatadri, and Damarla Ayyappa Nayak, governors of the stretch of land between Pulicat and San Thome, and representatives of the Vijayanagara Empire. Beri Thimmappa, my dubaash, certainly had his work cut out,” Day added, helpfully. “I think they want Persian horses and military protection. Why else would they let us in here, when the Dutch and Portuguese have already established trade?”
“Blahblahdeblah and you even managed to convince me, just going about my work in Masulipatnam, to persuade our superiors to set up our factory on this beach, bounded on two sides by rivers and the sea on the third.”
“It’s pretty here, isn’t it?”
Cogan stared around him. At the broad, sandy beach, leading right down to crashing, frothing waves. Beyond stretched a restless blue-green sea, heaving and tumbling in the mid-day sun. Random fishermen dotted the shores, staring at them curiously, while the fishing hamlet lay sleepily, hazy in the distance. It was not really pretty, from a conventional point of view. But Cogan understood what Day meant. This little place was now theirs.
“Ahem,” he cleared his throat, dismissing the emotion. “And now, beloved and bored members of this august gathering of sand and sea-creatures, I present to you…” he stopped, and stared at his colleague. “You know, we haven’t named this place, yet.”
“Likely because it already has a name? A long and complicated one in honour of the Vijayanagara Rayas, obviously.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Cogan waved his arms around. “This place — the one we’ve negotiated so hard for — is empty. No residents — and hence, no name. Come, now. We can’t keep calling it “that-sand-spit” for all eternity.”
“I highly doubt we will,” was Day’s dry answer. “But I see your point. Suggestions?”
“Plenty. That fishing hamlet just north of us — wouldn’t their name suit, for now?”
“It wouldn’t,” Day was vehement. “That hamlet’s headman wouldn’t give up his banana grove for our factory until Thimmappa promised privileges — I’m not sure I want our site named after him.”
“Well, it is his grove, after all.”
“Considering it was the Nayak’s grant, wouldn’t they want this place named after themselves?” Day interrupted. “Isn’t their father called Chinna — Chennappa, or something?”
“Possible. On the other hand, the people of that kuppam are parishioners of the Madre de Deus Church of San Thome. I’ve heard that they would like to adapt the church’s name to this settlement.”
“Or we could just as easily take the name of Madeiros, of San Thome. Wealthy Portuguese family and they’ve been of great assistance to us so far.”
“Madeiros City,” Cogan murmured.
“A city is called Pattinam in these parts,” Day offered.
They stared out at the beach together, thinking, making plans, about trade and about what — if anything — they could achieve here.
“Do you think we’ll ever make a success out of all this?” Cogan asked, finally.
“To tell the truth, I have no idea,” Day admitted. “This is the wildest gamble I’ve ever indulged in.”
“You never know,” Cogan countered. Suddenly, he grinned. “This might become a bustling, thriving city at some point.”
“To the city of new beginnings,” Day mused. “Madras.”
In the beginning
Andrew Cogan and Francis Day’s factory site on an uninhabited sandy strip eventually grew to become one of India’s renowned metropolises, and the capital city of Tamil Nadu. Home to South Indian culture, automobiles, and for incredible advances in medicine, Chennai is the only city in South Asia, to find a place in 52 Places to go around the World by New York Times. Every year, August 22 is celebrated as Madras Day, and this year, 2014, is Chennai’s 375 birthday.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> Young World / by Pavithra Srinivasan / August 21st, 2014
Veejay Lakshmi Textiles Ltd of Coimbatore is one among the two export houses in Tamil Nadu that bagged the export awards for 2013-2014 instituted by TEXPROCIL (The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council of India).
The exporters from the state won the bronze medals/trophies for the highest global export category. This year, Texprocil distributed 71 awards based on 29 criteria, including the coveted gold trophy for the highest global exports.
Highlighting the challenges in the sector, chairnman of Texprocil Manikam Ramaswami said, “Indian textile industry, however competitive it may be at present, needs cotton at less than or equal to international prices and needs a level playing field when it comes to tariff barriers to perform to the best of its potential.”
He pointed out that despite India being a cotton surplus country, every year cotton prices go above international prices from February onwards until the new season and this severely impacts competitiveness.
Texprocil has already articulated a revenue positive solution to the ministry and hopes that it will be implemented soon, he said. On the tariff front, India needs to have agreements with the European Union, Canada and Australia, favourable duty in China similar to Pakistan, Bangladesh, who have negotiated reciprocal benefits with China.
India has US dollar 34 billion deficit with over US dollar 12 billion imports taking place at less than 5 per cent duty. Hence, the country should bargain reciprocal benefit for textiles. China exports US dollar 20 billion of textiles and India can improve exports by a huge amount if they get a level playing field, he said. Emphasising the need for implementation of the export incentive policy, he said, “Export of textiles is the only way forward.”
source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / DC Correspondent / September 23rd, 2014
September 23rd, 2014Amazing Feats, Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Inspiration/ Positive News and Features, Records, All, World Opinion
A poor girl’s dream to make a mark in Tinsel Town was more than fulfilled when she got the chance to act in a major role in a French film. Thirty- year-old Janagi, the daughter of a brick kiln worker from a remote village near Aralvoimozhy in the district, bagged the role of Gracie in Son épouse (His Wife). But Janagi’s journey to stardom was not easy. A performing artiste from Devasahayam Mount near Aralvoimozhi, she was the youngest of five children to Devasahayam, a brick kiln worker, and Virisithal, an anganwadi worker. “After completing my plus-two, I was compelled to go for tailoring and other menial jobs as my family was very poor. During that time, I was attracted to what my cousin Selvi did — she was part of a local cultural troupe Kalari and she used to act in plays,” said Janagi, speaking to Express. She later joined the troupe and learnt various folk arts. She was with them for three years, during which time she also managed to complete BA Tamil through correspondence. When she joined another cultural troupe Murasu, she got the opportunity to participate in a workshop organised by the National School of Drama held in Nagercoil. The workshop helped her hone her acting skills and she later enrolled in a three-year full-time diploma course in dramatic arts at NSD and successfully completed the course. In the course of time she got to know Prema Revwathy, who was a member of director Gautham Menon’s production team.
Not only did she get the opportunity to work as an associate director in the French movie Son épouse, directed by Michel Spinso, but Revwathy also got her the role of Gracie, said Janagi.
Gracie is the friend of the main character, Catherine, a drug addict, etched by Charlotte Gainsbourg. After Catherine’s untimely death her spirit enters Gracie. “I learnt French to act in the film,” said Janagi. The film was released in Paris a few months back.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> The Sunday Standard / by S. Mahesh / September 07th, 2014