CT Aravindakumar, a faculty at Mahatma Gandhi University’s (MGU) School of Environmental Sciences, will lead an eight-member team of Indian scientists for an expedition in the Arctic region this month. National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) in Goa, the nodal agency that coordinates India’s polar research, will organize the expedition, which will last four to six weeks. MGU had recently signed a MoU with NCAOR on joint polar research.
Under this agreement, MGU researchers can take part in Artic expedition every year. India conducts nearly 5 expeditions each year. The team will be studying atmospheric, biological, marine and earth sciences, glaciological and pollution issues. The main research programme is on pollution in the Arctic region which will have a long-term impact. It has already initiated a long-term programme with NCAOR on the study of air and water pollution, fate and transport of pollutants, aquatic organism etc.
India is one of the leading contributors in polar research and had started its Arctic expedition in 2007. India’s first Arctic research station, named Himadri, was inaugurated in 2008 at the International Arctic Research base, Ny-Alesund, located 2,000km north of Norway.
India is the 11th country to set up a permanent research station in the region. Himadri can host 8 scientists at a time under normal conditions. Members of the station are given weapon training to protect themselves from polar bears.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News> Schools & Colleges / TNN / July 14th, 2017
Union Minister says researchers must work towards people-centric science
Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan has said that scientists and researchers have to work towards a people-centric science and emphasised the need for scientific social responsibility on the lines of corporate social responsibility. The Minister was speaking at a press conference after the dedication of the Stratosphere-Troposphere (ST) Radar Facility at the Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research at the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) here on Tuesday.
He said scientists and researchers had the responsibility to give back to society. The scientists behind the achievement had to be congratulated because they had followed the call for ‘Make in India’ and the effort had been appreciated internationally by countries such as Japan, Korea and Sweden. He said climate science was doing well in India, and the country had entered into high quality collaborations with countries like Israel recently.
A handout issued at the dedication of the facility at the university said that it was the first stratosphere troposphere wind profile radar operating on 205 MHz installed in the world. The facility will aid monitor atmospheric wind conditions across altitudes up to 20 km and beyond. The research has applications in meteorology, cloud physics, thunderstorms, convections, atmospheric electricity and climate change.
Mr. Vardhan said India expected to provide optical fibre cable facility to all panchayats in the country by 2018. The 38 CSIR laboratories will be made accessible to students in Kendriya Vidyalayas for two to three weeks to create awareness about the work being done in the laboratories. The programme will help familiarise people with the scientific research being done in the country. The government wanted to create a passion for science among students, the Minister added.
Director of the Centre K. Mohankumar and Cusat Vice Chancellor J. Letha were among those present at the dedication of the facility.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – July 12th, 2017
Some of the rare books in Malayalam language would have been lost if Herman Gundert, the German missionary, had not taken the trouble to transport them to his home town Calw. The documents preserved by Gundert, who was also a scholar credited with the first Malayalam-English dictionary, included nearly 80 manuscripts and 150 printed works. Some of the available palm leaf manuscripts run into 42,000 pages. These books have been archived in the Gundert archive of Tubingen University which has also taken steps to digitise the documents. The Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, Tirur, established in 2012 to promote Malayalam language, has received access to the documents through an MoU signed with the Tubingen University.
Mr M. Sreenathan, professor of language at the university, told Deccan Chronicle that it all started with Dr Scaria Zacharia, a Malayalam professor who visited Germany in connection with the meeting of the World Malayali Council, visiting the archives of the university in 1986. He published books like Pazhassi Rekhakal, Payyanoor Pattu and Thalasserry Rekhakal from the university. Some of the other books that were discovered from Tubingen included Nalacharitham Manipravalam and Sheelavathy written by Mannan. The first version of the Mahabharatham Killipattu, Krishnagatha, Thulalkadha, Panchathantram and Ekadeshi were brought to the state from the archives. The copy of Meenakshi written by Chathu Nair and published in 1890 was also discovered from Tubingen, Mr Sreenathan said.
Another finding was Keralopakari, an illustrated weekly published in 1870. There has not been much reference about this weekly earlier. A copy of Krishi Pattu was also preserved at Tubingen. The specialty of the copy of Krishi Pattu, an agriculture verse popularly known as Krishi Geetha in the state, is that it was published from Kozhikode before the advent of Chandrakala in Malayalam. Another significant discovery was Kerala Natakam. This book republished by the university was released recently. Many people, including historian M.G.S. Narayanan, have said that they have seen the book. However, the book was not available anywhere in the state. It was also received from the archives of Gundert. Many literary historians, including Ulloor Parameswara Iyer, have mentioned about this work. There are differences among the historians about who wrote the book.
Some believed that this was written by Thunchath Ezhuthachan. However, Ezhuthachan had not written anything other than poetry. The book was published by Basel Mission. Ulloor had disagreed with the theory that it was written by Ezhuthachan. The book was in the handwriting of Gundert himself. The language of the book proved that it was not written by Ezhuthachan. However, it has many similarities with another work of the period named Keralolpathi. But there is one major change. This is in the chapter Kulakrama Vivaranam which in Keralolpathi was based on Sankaracharya’s Kulakrama Vivaranam. However, the Kulakrama Vivaranam chapter in Kerala Nadakam dealing with the origin of caste was more in the nature of folklore, Mr Sreenathan said.
The documents in the collection of Gundert can be classified into three: printed books; books that had been transcript by Gundert himself or using the service of a scribe; and books in Thaliyola. Many books related to subjects like Manthravatham and on Christianity, including Puthiyaniyamathile Lekhanangal and Sathyaveda Ethihasam, are at the archives. The university is the only one in Europe that teaches Malayalam as an optional. It has also set up a Gundert chair. “I visit Tubingen as a faculty of the university and Mr Scaria Zacharia goes there as an outside academic. The Malayalam and Tubingen universities also have student exchange programmes,” Mr Sreenathan said. He will visit Tubingen soon to identify the original version of the works of Ezhuthachan, including Adhyadhama Ramayanam. Mr Scaria Zacharia said that the access to Gundert archives had begun in 1986. Many books like Pazhassi Rekhakal, Payyanoor Pattu, Thacholli Pattu and Thalassery Rekhakal were published from the archives. However, it was only recently the efforts were noticed in the state, Mr Zacharia said.
Christian missionary turned linguist
Herman Gundert, who left Germany at the age of 23 for missionary work, had planned to go to Calcutta and gained working knowledge in Bengali, Hindustani and Telugu even while travelling by sea. However, he landed in Madras in 1836 instead of in Calcutta. Gundert learnt Tamil while working in Chittoor, Andhra, and Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. During his work in Mangalore, he had a chance trip to Thiruvananthapuram where he had an audience with Swathi Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore who himself was a scholar. Gundert was attracted to Malayalam and became a scholar in the language in a short span of time.
Born in 1814, Gundert is the grandfather of 20th century Nobel prize winning novelist Hermann Hesse. Gundert had studied theology and Sanskrit in Tübingen University before completing his doctorate in theology in 1835 and joining the Bassel Mission in which he worked in Thalassery from 1938. Apart from authoring the first Malayalam-English dictionary, he translated the New Testament into Malayalam. He left India in 1859 due to illness. Most of his Malayalam books, including his Malayalam-English dictionary and hymn book, were written when he was in the south western German town of Calw.
He worked primarily from Thalassery where he compiled a Malayalam grammar book, ‘Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam,’ published in 1859. He lived at Illikkunnu near Thalassery for 20 years spreading the gospel among the natives and writing 13 books and a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew and New Testament from Greek. He attempted a systematic grammar of the language based on non-Sanskrit-based approaches to Indic grammar as he considered Malayalam as a branch of Proto-Tamil-Malayalam, or Proto-Dravidian. It was Gundert who used punctuation marks like full stop, comma, colon and semicolon for the first time in Malayalam. In recognition of his contribution to Malayalam, a statue of Gundert has been erected at Thalassery.
source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation, In other news / by Sabloo Thomas, Deccan Chronicle / July 05th, 2017
Chakkanath Pradeep from Pookkottumpadam, near Nilambur, set the world record by doing 99 knuckle push-ups in a minute.
The 91-knuckle push-up record of America’s Ron Cooper gave way for a new world record by an Indian on May 1.
Chakkanath Pradeep from Pookkottumpadam, near Nilambur, in the district set the world record by doing 99 knuckle push-ups in a minute.
A painting worker, Pradeep harboured the desire to set a record in push-ups ever since he was a child. He achieved the distinction at the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Amarambalam Panchayat Painters Association at Pookkottumpadam.
Pradeep staged his performance in front of a gathering of civic and political leaders, including Nilambur MLA P.V. Anvar and Amarambalam grama panchayat president C. Sujata.
When Pradeep began training for the fete, the world record had remained in the name of a Malayali. The 86-push-up record was set up by K.J. Joseph from Munnar a few years ago.
“I had set my eyes on Joseph’s record. But in December last year, Cooper broke that record by doing 91 push-ups. Then my objective changed,” said Mr. Pradeep.
He has been training intensively without the help of any expert for the last two years. He kept aside some time for training after his daily work. He did not hide his happiness at the achievement he made without the help of anyone.
The fete was videographed and sent to the Guinness World Records and the Limca Book of Records.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Abdul Latheef Naha / Malappuram – May 03rd, 2017
As many as 30 plays from 14 countries staged at the nine-day festival
The nine-day International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFoK), which witnessed many theatre experiments, formats, and debates, concluded here on Tuesday.
Theatre companies from 14 counties performed over 30 dramas in the festival. With focus on street performances, the ninth edition of the festival reached across the streets and stadia, captivating the onlookers along with theatre fans. The festival featured artistes from Spain, Germany, Israel, Chile, Georgia, France, Italy, Iran and Serbia alongside some of the finest street artistes from across India.
A Catalan-based theatre company, Kamchatka, conducted a theatre workshop, Migrar, at the festival. Theatre Colloquium and Dramaturgy and writing conclave also provided a different experience.
Organised by the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi under the aegis of the Department of Culture, ITFoK has grown into a globally recognised festival of contemporary theatre over the period.
Pentesilea by Teatro Dei Venti, Italy, which tells about love and hate, was performed at the Kavalam Arangu on Palace Ground on the concluding day. Sari Rosa, an India-Chile collaborative production, was the other play staged on the day.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Staff Reporter / Thrissur – March 01st, 2017
Dolls, a thousand of them, with curly or straight hair dressed in the national costume of countries including Japan, Norway, Sweden, Africa, America greet visitors when they step into Edith Virginia Greet’s neatly furnished office.
Her adoration for dolls stemmed from her genuine affection for children, remembers Geetha, her personal caretaker who has been living with Edith for the past 39 years.
“She used to say that the dolls reminded her of the pitter-patter of tiny feet and would make it a point to buy them for the children at the orphanage to play. She loved children, which is why she probably went on to start an orphanage in the following years,” she added. These kids loved her back and kept visiting her right upto the day she breathed her last on Monday.
Little children as young as three months who were abandoned would be brought to Kanaka Mandiram where Edith stayed. When their number increased, she started writing letters, in the dead of the night, to like-minded people living in the West, praying that they adopt these foundlings.
Many of the children were adopted by well-off families abroad. Over the years, she and Thomas Vadakekut along with other 15 members started the Edith Greet’s Bethel Foundation and was sponsored by Swiss Nationals Laes Walan and Inguar Broden, who had adopted Johanna and David through the Foundation. Bethel Foundation’s orphanage, which has over 1,000 children, still runs efficiently at a village in Plamody.
“She got a calling from the God which is why she left her government job in Washington DC after the World War II and arrived in Kerala. She came here with just 12 dollars in her pocket,” Geetha says. Esther, now 63, who was adopted by Edith when she was a baby, remembers how well-fed the staff and children at the orphanage were under Edith Greet’s patronage.
“It was heavenly. Edith aunty always ensured that we received foreign cloths, cod oil, mineral tablets, chocolates and medicines. It was given to us in boxes. We never ever knew what poverty was,” says Esther.
“I can still hear the grinding of peanut. Edith aunty loved making peanut butter which she would go and sell at the Lotus Club. She spent time with the ladies and would come back home for rest. This was another of her hobbies,” Esther said.
Her love for children becomes evident by the fact that Edith always ensured that she bathed the children. “She would give us a body message, but never applied coconut oil on our hair. Those senior to us, always said how Edith aunty loved spending time at Baby’s room,” adds Geetha. Greet’s Public School principal Jaya Sabin says she was always a motivation for children. “She had a special way with kids and everybody was so fond of her. She always reminded the children that they could achieve anything in life, if they followed the slogan ‘I can, I will, I did’.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New IndianExpress / Home> Cities> Kochi / by Princy Alexander / Express News Service / February 27th, 2017
Church commemorates the January 1653 vow taken by Malankara Nazranis
The Koonan Kurishu Church (Church of the Leaning Cross) in Mattancherry has undergone a transformation worthy of its remarkable place in history.
The church, built in 1751, commemorates the January 1653 vow taken by the Malankara Nazranis or Christians against Portuguese and Roman Catholic Church attempts to dominate their spiritual and ritual affairs.
The 1751 church underwent major renovation in 1974. Now, it has been renovated by retaining the original structure except in places where it had deteriorated badly. The church has been rebuilt, mostly avoiding conventional materials such as cement and steel, and using compressed, stabilised mud blocks.
The renovated church provides a brief glimpse into the past with its earthy shade, domes, vaults and arches that rise up as symbols of early eastern Christianity. The Marthoma Cross (St. Thomas Cross) crowns it and the altar is blessed by a cross formed by light beams, says NRI businessman and philanthropist John Samuel Kuruvilla who oversaw the renovation works.
He said architect Vinu Daniel designed the structure. The masons were provided training in the use of earth blocks, employing the ancient Nubian technology of arch and vault-building without extensive shuttering, said Mr. Kuruvilla.
The Koonankurisu Church, under the Malankara Indian Orthodox Church, will be reconsecrated on February 24 and 25. A religious amity meet will be organised as part of the reconsecration of the church. The all-religion meet will celebrate its lineage steeped in an era when different communities lived in harmony.
The spot where the church is located is where thousands of the Nazranis, restive over the Portuguese efforts to dominate, gathered to pledge their allegiance to their long-standing traditions. But the gathering was so large that hundreds were unable to touch the cross directly. They drew a rope from the cross, and touching it, publicly denounced the Portuguese. The story is that the cross bent under pressure and hence the name ‘Koonan Kurisu’. The event is described as ‘Koonan Kurishu Sathyam’ or the oath before the bent cross.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – February 22nd, 2017
On November 23, 2016, Josephai Abraham (Sam) stood inside the 1.5 acre Jewish cemetery on the Kathrakadavu-Pullepady road, Kochi. It was the burial of his mother-in-law Miriam Joshua, aged 89. “When I looked around, I suddenly realised that the cemetery was in bad shape,” he says. Many tombs could not be seen because of the high grass.
There were more problems. “At one corner, neighbours had thrown their garbage, in plastic packets,” says Sam, the president of the Association of Kerala Jews. “Some inhabitants had pushed their water pipes under the wall, so that all the waste water would flow into the property.”
So Sam decided to do something, with the backing of six families of the association. Workers were hired, grass and weeds were chopped off, and, at one side, where there was a marshy pond, several layers of building waste was put in, to smoothen the surface. “Thereafter, interlocking tiles had been put,” says Sam.
“At least now, we can park our cars inside. Otherwise, we had to do so on the narrow road and it created problems for the other motorists.” The walls have been painted white and many tombs, which were broken, have been repaired and repainted.
And, on the wall, at the opposite end to the entrance, a Shield of David have been etched, along with the seven candles of the Menorah.
The Menorah has been a symbol of Judaism, from ancient times, and is now part of the emblem of the state of Israel.
However, it has not been smooth sailing. One neighbour approached Sam and told him he could not do any renovation, as all construction has been frozen. On being asked how, the neighbour said there are expansion plans for the road and the cemetery will be taken over. “I said no such decision has been taken,” says Sam.
Then, in mid-January, Gracy Joseph, Chairperson, Standing Committee for Development of the Cochin Corporation, came to inquire. “I had received complaints from the local residents that some construction was going on,” she says. “But the members of the Jewish community told me that they were only renovating the place.”
Clearly, the cemetery is under threat. “The Cochin Corporation has plans to broaden the road,” says Association secretary Dr Susy Elias.
But Soumini Jain, the Mayor of the Corporation says that the stretch in front of the cemetery has been handed over to the Public Works Department of the State government. “It is they who will do the road expansion works,” she says.
“There are suggestions of building an overbridge in front of the cemetery. But whether the government has the funds for that, I am not sure.”
Meanwhile, according to Jewish religious law, once a person is buried, the grave cannot be disturbed. It can only be removed if a relative gives permission. But the local Jews have no idea where they are, since many have emigrated to Israel. So, the Jews are anxious about whether the authorities will insist that they will have to give up a part of their cemetery. “Many tombs will be disturbed,” says Sam.
Sometime ago, the association got in touch with Israeli ambassador Daniel Carmon. Thereafter, last month, the Bangalore-based Israeli Counsel General Yael Hashavit met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and appraised him of the situation. “The CM said that he was aware of it,” says Mordokkayi Shafeer, the treasurer of the association.
Meanwhile, despite these tensions, the Jews come once a month to light candles and to pray at the graves. “We also come on death anniversaries and during the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) festival,” says Shafeer. “Life has to go on.”
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Kochi / by Shevlin Sebastian / Express News Service / February 20th, 2017
The 122nd Maramon Convention has honoured the Metropolitan Emeritus of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, Philipose Mar Chrysostum, who will be celebrating his 100th birth anniversary on April 27, at a function held at the traditional convention venue on the sand bed of the river at Maramon near Kozhencherry on Saturday.
The supreme head of the Mar Thoma Church, Joseph Mar Thoma, felicitated Mar Chrysostum on behalf of the Church as well as the Maramon Convention which is billed as Asia’s largest week-long annual congregation on the occasion.
The Metropolitan further announced that the new mission project undertaken by the Mar Thoma Evangelistic Association in Andhra Pradesh would be named after the Metropolitan Emeritus as `Mar Chrysostum Birth Centenary Mission Project’.
Yuyakim Mar Coorilos Episcopa presided the meeting. Bishop Mar Aprem of the Chaldian Church, Cyril Mar Baselius of the Thozhiyur Syrian Christian Church, the Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker P.J.Kurien, and Mathew T.Thomas, Water Resources Minister, were among those who attended the meeting, besides all bishops of the Mar Thoma Church.
Addressing the congregation, Mar Chrysostum said he firmly believed it as a great privilage and God’s blessings to be a part of the Mar Thoma Church at different stages. “It was nothing but sheer Blessings of the Lord Almighty that has made me what Iam,’’ he said.
Mar Chrysostum invited two children who were sitting in the front row to cut the birthday cake. The Metropolitan Emeritus and the Mar Thoma Metropolitan also shared sweets each other on the occasion.
The renowned evangelist, Lord Griffiths from United Kingdom, delivered the religious discourse on the occasion.
Yuyakim Mar Coorilos Episcopa del addressed the afternoon session of the Maramon Convention.
The century-old annual Christian retreat will come to a close on Sunday afternoon. The Mar Thoma Metropolitan will deliver the valedictory message.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Pathanamthitta – February 18th, 2017
Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum in association with the Embassy of France in India will be screening Farewell My Indian Soldier, a documentary film by Paris-based Indian filmmaker Vijay Singh.
The film will be screened on February 19 at 6.30pm at Bharat Bhavan. Vijay Singh, known filmmaker, scriptwriter and novelist, will be present along with Shashi Tharoor, the chief guest of the evening.
Farewell My Indian Soldier is a docu-fiction on Indian soldiers who came to France and Belgium to fight in the First World War. Following its market screening at the Cannes Film Festival 2016, this film is expected to travel to international film festivals worldwide.
It’s also the first ever film to be dedicated to the 140,000 Indian soldiers and civilian workers who defended France against invasion.
Co-produced by Silhouette Films and Rajya Sabha Television, and supported by the Embassy of France in India, this film uses rare archive material, historical testimonies, 100-year old Indian war songs and 600 insightful letters written by soldiers to tell the story of 10,000 Indian soldiers who never returned to their motherland.
The screening will be followed by a discussion between the director and the chief guest Shashi Tharoor. Entry is free.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / Express News Service / February 16th, 2017