Category Archives: Inspiration/ Positive News and Features

Amid ruins stands the last king of Travancore

Chennai :

Conflict among Hindus, divided by caste, over the right to worship their preferred deity can be found all over modern Indian history. But at the height of Indian independence struggle,  the last Maharaja of Travancore,  Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama  Varma, stunned the rest of the country with a royal proclamation.

The decree, issued on November 12, 1936, removed restrictions on dalit entry to Hindu temples. The announcement had a profound impact on the Madras Presidency, where despite the efforts of Dravidar Kazhagam founder Periyar E V Ramasamy entry for dalits into temples was still not a reality.

Three years later, to commemorate the radical declaration, a statue of Chithira Thirunal was erected near Esplanade Road. Funded by public subscription, the statue was sculpted by M S Nagappa, then the official sculptor to the British Crown. On October 28, 1939, then Governor of Madras Lord John Erskine unveiled the statue.

“It is the only statue erected for a king in Chennai,” said historian R Venkatesh. A park around the statue was taken up for Broadway bus terminus expansion, leaving the statue exposed to the elements. The Travancore royal passed away in 1991, and a few years later the statue was shifted to the Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple in Gandhi Nagar, Adyar by well-wishers.

Today, 81 years since the decree, the statue stands among discarded materials in the corner of the temple premise, having lost its place and significance in transition. “The Maharaja’s decree brought out reformist tendencies in Hindus. It is another thing that the decree did not find favour among dalit leaders like Ambedkar and Rettamalai Srinivasan who only saw it as an appeasement, and not a solution,” said political commentator D Ravikumar.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Chenna News / by Pradeep Kumar / TNN / November 14th, 2017

Biennale founders among ‘Power 100’

They first entered the list in 2015

Artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari, founders of the Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB), have figured on the list of 100 most influential people in the world of art for the third year in a row.

The ‘Power 100’ is an annual ranking compiled by the Art Review magazine on the world’s topmost contemporary artists and influential figures. Mr. Komu and Mr. Krishnamachari have been placed 84th on the list that includes Chinese artist Ai WeiWei, who participated in the first edition of the KMB in 2012; Germany’s Wolfgang Tillman; French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe; Hans Ulrich Obrist, the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries; Bernard Arnault, founder of the Foundation Louis Vuitton; and Italian fashion house designer Miuccia Prada.

Two more Indians

Germany’s artist-as-theorist Hito Steyerl heads the 2017 ranking which only has two other Indian entries: the Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective (39) founded by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and well-known art collector Kiran Nadar (99).

Mr. Komu and Mr. Krishamachari first entered the list in 2015 after the second Kochi-Muziris Biennale that ended in March.

Their individual success as artists was also acknowledged by the magazine, which said “Krishnamachari’s first solo exhibition in four years, Colour Code, took place in July at Gallery G, Bangalore, for ‘one polychromatic week’”.

“Komu has been continuing to promote contemporary Indian art through URU Art Harbour, a cultural hub housed in an old warehouse in Kochi that he opened in November,” it noted. “He recently launched a two-month inaugural exhibition titled ‘Mattancherry ‘– named after the historic quarter in Kochi in which URU Art Harbour is based – bringing together 13 artists and research collectives to reclaim the site from the tourist gaze.”


  • ‘Power 100’ is an annual ranking compiled by the Art Review magazine
  • Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari have been placed 84th on the list

source : http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / Special Correspondent / Kochi – November 11th, 2017

A platform for budding entrepreneurs

Tapping talent: Students showcase their skills at the Vadakara Regional Vocational Expo at Meenchanda VHSS in Kozhikode on Tuesday . | Photo Credit: S_RAMESHKURUP;S_RAMESHKURUP –

Exhibits in most innovative category focus on management of energy

Schoolchildren seem to be well aware that food is profitable business in Kozhikode. Most of the stalls in the most-profitable category at the Vadakara Regional Vocational Expo, which began at Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Meenchanda, on Monday, featured food and were hosted by girls.

The vocational expo, organised as part of the Kozhikode Revenue District Science, Social Science, Mathematics and IT Fest, was where youngsters from the vocational higher secondary schools of Kozhikode and Wayanad districts showcased their entrepreneurial skills. The competition was in categories such as most innovative, most marketable, most profitable and curriculum-related. Most of the exhibits in the most innovative category focused on efficient management of energy and natural resources.

Irrigation system

The host, GVHSS, Meenchanda, developed an automatic irrigation system based on the water content in the soil. The technology can also be adapted to be used in households to automate the water pumping system completely.

The GVHSS Kinasseri team came up with a wireless doorbell while the Government Sarvajana VHSS in Sulthan Bathery came up with the model of a semi-aquaponic integrated farm that suits small spaces such as apartments. It was a concept in which pisciculture, a bird farm and vegetable garden go hand in hand. The Technical Higher Secondary School team from Sulthan Bathery developed a simple home automation system that enables a person to switch on or off all electronic and electrical devices in a house through a mobile application with the help of a website.

The Sarvajana team won the first prize in the category while Rahmania VHSS, Kozhikode, bagged the first prize in the curriculum-related category as well as the most marketable category. K.K.M. VHSS, Orkatteri, bagged the first prize in the most profitable category. The expo concluded on Tuesday.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kozhikode / by Staff Reporter / Kozhikode – November 08th, 2017

Entrepreneurs who found meaning in failures

Andrine Mendez, founder trustee of The Kitchen, a not-for-profit organisation, at TiEcon Kerala in the city on Friday.

‘Failure Lab’ at TiEcon Kerala features businesspeople who changed tacks to relish success

Nowhere does the maxim ‘success has many fathers, failure is an orphan’ holds more relevance than in the world of entrepreneurship where failures are at best glossed over.

So, while start-up labs and FabLabs have mushroomed across the State, no one had heard about a Failure Lab before one appeared at TiEcon Kerala, a convention of entrepreneurs, which got under way here on Friday.

Failures take place often

“Failures need to be discussed as much as successes, so that people aspiring to venture into entrepreneurship do not repeat the same mistakes,” said Andrine Mendez, founder trustee of The Kitchen, a not-for-profit organisation connecting big and small businesses and professionals alike, which organised the first-of-its kind initiative in Kerala.

Fifteen persons, either entrepreneurs or professionals who had to face failures at some point in their careers and consequently recovered or changed tacks, featured in the lab. Mr. Mendez himself was one of the participants, as he candidly confessed he had to close down two companies, a web TV and loyalty-based discount card venture, in one-and-a-half years before succeeding in his third venture, a digital advertisement company that was eventually acquired by a French company.

Similarly, Rafeek Kavanur’s experiments with the marketing of banana chips failed owing to a combination of flawed pricing and trade union issues. Mukesh Dev had an even more spectacular failure when he entered the entrepreneurial world with the hope of striking gold by making every Indian purchase India-made handicrafts.

He amassed a team, collected handcrafts from across the country and put them up for sale on the online market. Only, no one bought into his idea or the handicrafts. Fortunately, he eventually had success with his third venture based on education.

“It was not easy to persuade people to talk about their failures for obvious reasons. Even TiE Kerala was initially sceptic about the concept of Failure Lab before eventually supporting it wholeheartedly,” said Mr. Mendez who now plans to make it a regular feature of the monthly event being organised jointly by The Kitchen in association with TiE Kerala.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Cities> Kochi / by M P Praveen / Kochi – November 11th, 2017

What’s got Malayalis on a record-breaking spree?

Pulling a bus with teeth, smashing coconuts with bare hands, and singing endlessly for days — the feats attempted by some Malayalis are as diverse as those who sought to achieve them.

In recent years, there’s been an obsession among Malayalis to create world records and the latest in the list is Thiruvananthapuram-based caricature artist William Panipicha, who broke the world record for the longest caricature marathon on Saturday.
Is the craze for the world records only for the 15 minutes of fame or something more? We talk to a few record holders to find out:

A mode to inspire others


The latest Malayali entrant in the Guinness Book of Records is William Panipicha, an art teacher at St Thomas HSS, Poonthura. By sketching non-stop for 72 hours, with just a five-minute break every hour, the teacher says he wanted to inspire his students.
“I wanted to convey to them that hard work pays. Drawing is my God-given skill and I wanted to use that for something good for the next generation, who loves to draw and paint,” says William, explaining that he broke the record of 61 hrs 55 minutes caricature marathon set by Australian artist Ronald Francis Heberling.

William, who hails from a fishing community, says that he hopes the recognition would also motivate the children from the community to chase their dreams.

“I am a self-taught artist and it’s with my sheer will power that I reached where I am today from poverty. Nowadays, fine arts can lead to prolific career opportunities in our society including animation sector. I want my success to motivate the youth to take up art and be successful,” he says.

Inspiring others is not the only reason for attempting such feats. Noted mridangam artiste Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan, from Palakkad, has five Guinness World Records to his name — including longest performance by a solo artiste and longest mridangam marathon.

While the feats showcase his creativity and diligence with the instrument, he says his first attempt in 2004 by setting the record of a 36-hour mridangam marathon, was dedicated to all cancer patients in memory of his sister, who passed away due to lung cancer the same year.

“I was not even aware of the world records at that time and it was meant as a musical tribute to my sister,” says Ramakrishnan. “When the event was over, my friends suggested that it can be submitted for the record.”

Later on, he chose the recording-breaking attempts as a mode to popularise the percussion instrument. “My final attempt in 2009 was sort of a musical therapy. As an artiste, I feel responsible to contribute for the musical world. Music has the power to heal and thus I performed Hridaya Talam — the longest percussion concert that lasted more than 500 hrs at the Nandavanam Hospital at Ottappalam,” he says, adding that he chose the venue as the hospital as that’s where his sister breathed her last.

Chasing records tests your potential
More than competitions to set records, chasing feats aid exploring one’s skills, echo the world record holders.

Ramakrishnan says that he experimented with new genres for his feats. “I was able to test the potential of mridangam and myself while setting these records. When our contributions are engraved in the history of music, it will also give the upcoming artistes confidence to discover their skills.”

Supporting the veteran’s view is 18-year-old music prodigy Anantha Krishnan S R, who etched his name in Asia Book of Records for the longest flute marathon earlier this year.

The fame has given him confidence and also more stages to perform, he says. “Because of the title, I now have a small celebrity status in the music arena despite being so young.

I wanted to give my music teachers the best gurudakshina and that’s what prompted me to chase the record,” he says.

Despite the laurels it has brought him, the youngster says, “I am not obsessed with the record. In fact, I want the upcoming musicians to break it. These challenges help us to analyse our potentials better.”

The satisfaction of chasing your dream and being the best in the world is something that completes you, says Payyanur-based, 30-year-old Prijesh Kannan, who entered the Guinness World Records for his memory power, a few years ago.

Creating records are never easy, he says. “It was my childhood dream to enter the record books. My preparations began while I was in Class 6 and it took me around 14 years to create the record. There were days when I slept only for four hours, so I could prepare,” he says.

Prijesh now is using his fame to help others improve memory power as well as training others based on his experience.

Some Malayalis have also attempted bizarre task in a bid to set records – one among them being Abheesh P Dominic from Kottayam, who found his way to the Guinness World Records by smashing 122 coconut shells with bare hands in a minute in February this year.
“I have tried to do so many weird things to enter the book of records. However, it was not to attain fame but to prove that our body has the potential to endure whatever we wish to do,” he says.

The dangerous stunts he has attempted till date includes pulling a 10 tonne bus for 50 meters using his teeth, stopping a high-speed pedestal fan, breaking helmets, hockey sticks and smashing tender coconuts using elbow, knee and head.

While most onlookers would think that Abheesh is abusing his body, he says on the contrary, the road to records has him living a disciplined lifestyle. “I avoid processed food, keep away from drugs and alcohol and eat healthy. That’s what has helped me achieve the feat,” he says. “Making your hands as hard as a rock was a result of determination and patience.”

Fame subsides eventually
While records help achieve fame and recognition, it’s not something that Abheesh ultimately wishes for. In fact, he wants to use the feat to find a livelihood. “Though I am credited for world records, it doesn’t help me find a job,” he says.

He works as a temporary mechanic at the Erattupetta KSRTC depot. “Despite the records, I have not received any support from the government. I have been working in a temporary post for the past 10 years but they did not convert me as a permanent staff. If we visit foreign countries and introduce ourselves as a world record holder, they treat you with respect. But it’s different here. We are ignored. A world record cannot satisfy the hunger of the family,” he says.

In Video: Kerala art teacher makes Guinness record for longest caricature marathon 

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Arya UR / TNN / November 06th, 2017

48-hour free care for accident victims

Thiruvananthapuram :

The state government has decided to launch a trauma care project to provide immediate treatment for accident victims.

At a high-level meeting convened by chief minister Pinrayi Vijayan , it has been decided to provide free treatment to accident victims for the first 48 hours.

Once the project kicks off, the hospitals would be asked not to demand any kind of payment from the patient or their bystanders. The government has decided to provide necessary funds for providing all kinds of treatment, including emergency surgeries, in all government hospitals.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News / TNN / November 03rd, 2017

It’s a story of rice to riches for Kerala farmer

Against the grain: Praseed Kumar with his children in his progressive farm at Sulthan Bathery.

When others moved to cash crops to cut losses, he brought Gujarat and Punjab varieties to Wayanad

India’s traditional rice diversity has brought riches to a farmer in northern Kerala .

Praseed Kumar from Thayyil at Sulthan Bathery went against the tide, when his peers in the loss-hit farming community in Wayanad switched to cash crops such as plantain and arecanut a few years ago.

The 43-year-old progressive farmer got a small packet of rice seeds from a friend in Gujarat, which stood out with its violet-coloured chaff. He decided to propagate this variety. Initially, it was on just one cent of land, but later, it was expanded to one hectare.

Mr. Kumar has been conserving the ‘Krishna Kamod’, a basmati rice variety from Gujarat known for its taste, colour and aroma on one hectare for the past seven years.

Last year, he harvested nearly 2,500 kg of this paddy and sold it as seeds to farmers at ₹ 200 a kg, rather than in the open market.

“While farmers procure the rare rice variety as seed, others buy it as a gift, or keep it in their pooja rooms and offer it to temples,” Mr. Kumar said.

Fights drought, pests

He spent ₹ 85,000 as costs and earned ₹ 5 lakh. The Agriculture Department, which finds the rice attractive, chipped in with ₹18,000 as incentive.

“It seems quite suitable for Kerala and its pest and drought resistance are plus points,” said M.K. Mariyumma, Agricultural Officer, Krishi Bhavan, Nenmeni. Many farmers coming under Krishi Bhavan are eager to cultivate it.

The farmer has become famous for growing 15 varieties of rice. These include Mahamaya, a hybrid with an average yield of 4.3 tonnes an acre, Ramli, a traditional Punjab rice, Navara and Rakthashali, with medicinal properties, Black Jasmine, a violet medicinal Assamese type, two basmati variants from Jammu and Kashmir, besides Valichoori and Adukkan, both indigenous varieties.

Mr. Kumar is looking at rented land now, to grow even more.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by E.M. Manoj / Kalpetta – October 31st, 2017

Expertise of engineering college to go virtual

Local libraries, reading rooms in Taliparamba constituency to be linked to GCEK’s virtual learning facility

The interactive virtual learning facility of Government Engineering College, Kannur, (GCEK), at Dharmasala here will be linked to the local library-cum-reading rooms in the Taliparamba Assembly constituency for the dissemination of e-contents of expertise useful for the public.

The plan, outlined as part of the entrepreneurship support initiative Samruddhi, launched in the constituency under the leadership of local MLA James Mathew, envisages provision of computers, LED display boards and printers to 164 library-cum-reading rooms in the constituency for linking them with the interactive virtual learning centre of the GCEK started under its Centre for Information, Communication and Educational Technology (CICET). Mr. Mathew had announced the other day that a workshop for five functionaries each of the libraries would be held at Taliparamba on October 20 to discuss activities to be carried out under the Samruddhi scheme using the libraries as centres.

“Once the libraries are connected to the interactive virtual learning facility of the college, the e-content stored in the college’s server can be accessed by them,” GCEK Principal C. Sreekumar said. Another feature is a programme being organised by one of the libraries can be streamed to rest of the others, he added.

The CICET includes a resource studio and a server that would used as a platform for interactive classroom programmes and contents involving the expertise of the colleges faculties in different disciplines.

The CICET was inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan last month. Under the Samruddhi scheme, this facility is being extended for the benefit of the public through libraries and schools. The e-contents will be created, stored and disseminated under the initiative.

As the Samruddhi scheme envisages dissemination of information on socially beneficial programmes of the government among their beneficiaries, including aspiring entrepreneurs, the facility would function as a common link between government departments and the public.

Mr. Mathew said the funds would be accessed if the clusters of entrepreneurs propose projects that cannot be established on their own. Water conservation, waste treatment and good agricultural practices are being given priority under the scheme, he said.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Mohamed Nazeer / Kannur – October 16th, 2017

Former freedom fighter K.E. Mammen dies aged 96

Students of Holy Angels’ Convent greeting K. E. Mammen on his 94th birthday in Thiruvananthapuram. File Photo

The Kerala native had participated in the Quit India Movement

Freedom fighter K.E. Mammen, who had participated in the Quit India Movement, passed away here on Wednesday morning. He was 96. He had been under treatment for age-related diseases at a private hospital in Neyyatinkara for the past three months.

Mr. Mammen had always followed Gandhian principles. He became active in the freedom movement as a college student. He was first jailed for taking an open stand against C.P Ramaswamy Iyer, the then Dewan of the erstwhile Travancore state. After being denied an opportunity at continued studies here, he shifted to Madras Christian College in 1940. He was ousted from there too, following his participation in the Quit India Struggle.

In recent years, Mr. Mammen had been active in anti-liquor struggles in the state.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Thiruvananthapuram -July 26th, 2017

Fr Gabriel Chiramel passes away

Thrissur :

Educationist, administrator and founder of several institutions, Fr Gabriel Chiramel CMI passed away at Amala Bhavan here on Thursday.

He was 103-years-old. Fr Gabriel, who was conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 2007, was the founder principal of Christ College (1956-1975), Irinjalakuda.

Known for his administrative acumen, he served as the provincial of Devamatha Province, Thrissur. It was during this time the Amala Cancer Hospital was established.

He was also instrumental in establishing several other institutions such as St Joseph’s College, Irinjalakuda; Carmel Higher Secondary School, Chalakudy; Bharat Matha School, Palakkad; Catholic Centre Irinjalakuda and Deepthi Cultural Centre, Kozhikode.

Fr Gabriel’s funeral will be held at noon on Saturday.

source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / May 12th, 2017