Category Archives: World Opinion

Kerala girl at centre of ‘period poverty’ campaign in London

Last month, thousands of protesters gathered outside Downing Street as part of the campaign. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

With her #FreePeriods campaign, Amika George hopes to help young girls in Britain stay in school

On a cold London morning last year, 17-year-old Amika George was at the breakfast table when a news story caught her attention. It was about young girls, some just 10 years old, in the northern English city of Leeds missing a week of school every month because their families couldn’t afford to buy them sanitary napkins.

A Leeds school had, in fact, sought help from a charity that provided hygiene products to women in Kenya, the report went on to say.

Shocked, Amika knew she had to do something. She launched the #FreePeriods campaign, and prepared a petition that quickly garnered support, with over 1,33,000 signatories. Last month, a thousand protesters, including politicians, activists and models, gathered outside Downing Street to ask for the government’s help to end ‘period poverty’ in the U.K. — by providing free sanitary napkins to the poorest students.

“I think one of the reasons the campaign attracted so much attention is because people have been shocked that such levels of poverty exist in the U.K., considered a developed country,” she says.

Amika George

Talking about the motivation behind the initiative, the North London-based student says, “It seemed wrong to me on every level that there were children creating almost primitive, makeshift solutions such as socks stuffed with stolen toilet paper or newspaper. Missing school means falling further behind in academics, and these girls find they are such a long way off from attaining their goals and ambitions, all because they bleed.”

Too poor to bleed

The protest garnered widespread media interest. Amika’s campaign also tapped into wider sentiment — both about women’s equality and the larger issue of poverty in austerity-ridden Britain — with several political parties making commitments to help end the problem.

The Labour party has committed £10 million to end ‘period poverty’ in schools, while the campaign has spurred the Green party to pledge free sanitary products for women and students from low-income households.

“The root cause is poverty, and while eradicating poverty is a challenging mission in itself, making life better for a small pocket of the population is what I’m aiming at,” says Amika. The teenager hopes to now attract the attention of Education Secretary (minister) Justine Greening with her campaign. “I’m encouraged that there are a huge number of people who’re working to put pressure on her.” Amika hopes to use the impetus the campaign has generated to push for a wider examination of attitudes towards periods, which she believes reinforce the obstacles the poorest sections face.

“There’s certainly a feeling now that periods should not be all cloak-and-dagger, as it’s been in the past. I’m trying to be as outspoken as I can about menstruation; it’s a normal biological process, but we speak about it with embarrassment and shame.”

Going places

Given her background, Amika, whose family is originally from Kerala and regularly visits there, is keen to broaden her campaign beyond the U.K., and enthused by the way campaigners, from Nepal to the Philippines, have reached out to her. She is motivated by initiatives such as Kerala’s She Pad Scheme.

“I’d really like to connect with campaigners in India to work to end the taboo and help campaign to ensure all girls can access menstrual products. It’s staggering that we haven’t really moved away from the taboos our grandmothers faced back in their days, but it horrifies me that there are thousands of girls in India who drop out of school altogether and feel ashamed to go back because they have their period.”

“It really is a global issue, and I’ve been contacted by women in many countries saying that period poverty is affecting girls there, so we should all be joined in working to stamp out period poverty across the globe. We really can do it together,” says Amika.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Profile> Society / by Vidya Ram / January 13th, 2018

Valuable folk art recordings remain neglected

Kozhikode :

Video and audio recordings  of the folk art forms of Kerala, painstakingly documented under a project funded by US-based Ford Foundation , are getting damaged at the Calicut University due to lack of proper care and conservation.

The local fund audit wing of the state government in its report has said that the archives at the varsity’s Centre for Folklore Studies is non-functional leading to valuable recordings created under the project getting damaged.

The four-year project, under which the varsity had received Rs 67 lakh grant from the Ford Foundation, had created around 400 hours of recordings of live performances of various folk and ritual art forms of Kerala, including 13 versions of the ancient ritual art form of Padayani and a rich variety of Theyyam performances.

The report said that the archives have around 500 CDs with the video and audio recordings of the live presentations of folk art forms.

“The CDs are lying in a room without proper care and there is no dedicated staff for its upkeep. We do not know how much of the recordings can be retrieved. There are chances that some of it has already got damaged. The Ford Foundation’s folklore project had a special focus on the Kali cult in Kerala. It would be a loss for the posterity if the work is not preserved,” Anil K M, former head of the Centre for Folklore Studies, said.

Experts said that some of the folk art forms documented under the project have become nearly extinct and so rare that it is practically impossible to video document them again.

He said that lack of funds and staff was posing hurdles for the maintenance and upkeep of the video recordings. “We had submitted a project to store the recordings in a cloud storage facility, but it has not taken off,” he added.

The folklore project funded by Ford Foundation was implemented during the 2002-2006 period and aimed to preserve and document the folklore tradition of the state. The project was headed by folklore expert Raghavan Payyanad.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kozhikode News / TNN / January 09th, 2018

Family contests GI tag for Aranmula mirror, says their formula was leaked

The unique mirror, made of high-tin bronze in a secretive metallurgical formula, has found patrons across the globe.

Kochi :

The geographical indication (GI) of Aranmula mirror  — the first product from Kerala to receive the tag in 2005 — has been contested by a family that claims to have developed its technology. The unique mirror, made of high-tin bronze in a secretive metallurgical formula, has found patrons across the globe.

Members of Thikkinampallil family, hailing from Aranmula in Pathanamthitta, have contested the GI tag given to Viswabrahmana Aranmula Metal Mirror Nirman Society (VAMMNS) by the Geographical Indications registry. “We have moved the Chennai registry to cancel the tag for Aranmula mirror and instead give it to our Thikkinampallil Aranmula mirror,” said M C Sureshbabu, secretary of Thikkinampallil Aranmula Metal Mirror Nirman Family Charitable Trust (Thikkinampallil Trust).

The family also plans to move court against the tag. Sureshbabu said his predecessors were brought from Shankaran Kovil near Thirunelveli by a former Pandalam raja for the construction of Aranmula Parthasarathy temple. “The manufacturing technique of the mirror was developed by one of our family members through trial and error. We have a certificate given by the Travancore ruler to one of our family members in the 1940s to attend an exhibition to support our claim that our family had traditionally been into Aranmula mirror making. The formula, however, leaked through workshop assistants,” he said.

The website of GI registry shows that the application from Thikkinampallil Trust is being examined. “The first sitting on our application is over; we are awaiting the examination report,” James said.

‘ Application from Thikkinampallil Trust being examined’

“We have a certificate given by the Travancore ruler to one of our family members in the 1940s to attend an exhibition to support our claim that our family had traditionally been into Aranmula mirror making. The formula, however, leaked through workshop assistants,” he said.

The website of GI registry shows that the application from Thikkinampallil Trust is being examined. “The first sitting on our application is over; we are awaiting the examination report,” said Febin James, legal counsel to Thikkinampallil Trust.

The immediate provocation for the petition with the GI registry was the opposition from VAMMNS to Sureshbabu’s mother Maniammal opening a mirror dealership near Aranmula temple nearly three years ago. “We have a certificate given by the Travancore ruler to one of our family members in the 1940s to attend an exhibition to support this. The formula, however, leaked through workshop assistants,” Sureshbabu said.

Society founding president A K Selvaraj said it tried to stop the sale of mirrors as Maniammal’s shop had been sourcing them from a relative’s workshop in Cherthala. “When something is GI tagged, it should be produced in that region only,” he said. “A member of Thikkinampallil Trust was the founder treasurer of VAMMNS but the relationship soured after VAMMNS decided to impose holograms on products.”

James said VAMMNS couldn’t insist on manufacturing mirrors in Aranmula. “Unlike the Darjeeling tea, which is very much tied to the locality where it is grown, the Aranmula mirror is a technology-based product and it could be made anywhere,” he said.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Shenoy Karun / TNN / January 04th, 2018

‘Viswaguru’ aims to set a Guinness record

Pre- and post-production works of film completed in 48 hours

A biopic on Sree Narayana Guru, Vijeesh Mani’s Viswaguru, is all set to create a new record.

Aiming to break the current Guinness world record, all the pre- and post-production works of the film were completed within 48 hours, making it the fastest film ever made. “From scripting to title registration and shooting to censoring, all works were done within 48 hours. It’s an attempt from our part to bring Malayalam cinema to global attention,” says the director.

The production began at 10 p.m. on December 27 with Pramod Payyanur writing the first scene. “I had done my research on the subject as we cannot tamper with historical figures and facts. Though I started writing the script with a clear-cut idea, there were a lot of improvisations as well. When I completed the first scene the filming started,” says the scenarist. Viswaguru portrays the major events in the life of Sree Naryana Guru who spearheaded the social renaissance in Kerala. “Along with him, the film features many historical figures and Guru’s conversations with them make a major part of the film,” says Mr. Payyanur.

The film had its censoring on December 29 at 5 p.m. through special arrangement and was later screened at Nila theatre in Thiruvananthapuram at 11.30 p.m. “A Sri Lankan film holds the current record of the film with shortest script-to-screen time. While it was completed in 71 hours, Viswaguru had its screening within 48 hours,” he adds. Sivagiri Madhom and premises were the main locations of the film.

Following Guinness guidelines, all the production-related activities were recorded on camera. The film produced by A.V. Anoop has Purushothaman Kainakkari, Gandhiyan Chacha Sivarajan, Kaladharan, and Kalanilayam Ramachandran in key roles.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Staff Reporter / Kollam – December 30th, 2017

Marayoor jaggery to get GI status

Awareness meeting of sugarcane farmers and jaggery producers on Jan 4

Marayoor jaggery, a world famous delicacy, will soon get Geographical Indication status. The documentation and scientific studies on this unique jaggery are in the completion stage.

Marayoor and Kanthalloor Panchayaths in Idukki district are famous for the unique product Marayoor jaggery or Marayoorsharkara.

Marayoorsharkara is one of the sweetest jaggeries produced in the area using traditional technologies. High sweetness without salty taste, high content of iron, less sodium content, less insoluble impurities, organic method of production and dark brown colour are the unique characters of this traditional sharkara.

A meeting of the apex body constituted for the GI registration of Marayoor jaggery chaired by Minister for Agriculture V.S. Sunil Kumar at Kerala  Agricultural University on Thursday decided to submit the GI application at the earliest.

An awareness meeting of sugarcane farmers and jaggery producers will be held on January 4, 2018 at Marayoor as a prelude to this.

The quality of Marayoor jaggery is attributed to low temperature prevailing in the area, soil characteristics, quality of water used for irrigation and jaggery production, the traditional methods of production and sugarcane varieties used in cultivation.

Another specialty of this jaggery is that it is not made in factories using modern equipment, but in the jaggery production sheds located in the farm itself, in a traditional manner. The jaggery produced from the geographical area has a higher market demand than that produced from other regions, since it is very sweet in taste and is of good quality.

Marayoor sharkara without colouring agents will be dark brown in colour. Undasharkara (ball shaped, solid form) is the main product of the area while paani ( liquid form), flavoured sharkara and powder form are also produced in minor quantities.

The procedures for GI registration of Marayoor jaggery was launched on December 29, 2016 by Agriculture Minister V. S. Sunil Kumar. KAU Vice-Chancellor Dr. Chandra Babu R , Registrar Dr. Leena kumary , Director of Research Dr. Indira Devi and Dr. C.R. Elsy, Coordinator of IPR Cell participated in the meeting, along with apex body members.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Mini Muringatheri / Thrissur – December 29th, 2017

Portraying the life and myths of Paniyars

Documentary maker Aneez K. Mappila

Feature-length documentary on the Wayanad tribe’s struggle for existence

A humdrum yet clear rendition of Penappattu, the ballad of the Paniyar tribe of Wayanad with its narrative on their origin and life, soaks the Paniya household in bereavement seven days after someone’s parting.

The intoner, Athali, takes no break as he calmly retells from morning, well into the brooding night, the course of his clan’s struggle for existence from the beginning. “It’s like a swirling song of the dead – the soul of their forbears rattling out their saga,” says Aneez K. Mappila, who has authored the life and death of Paniyars in a feature-length documentary, The Slave Genesis. “The tribe, as you see in the film, is deeply and inwardly spiritual.” The Paniyars believe that long ago, a feudal landlord, Ithimala Gowda, also referred to as Ithimala Pappan, had trapped them using a hand net and engaged them for labour in the fields.

“There is no paddy field, coffee or pepper plantation in Wayanad, especially those owned by settlers, that hasn’t used their labour. The practice continues to date,” says Aneez, from Kalpetta. The film, shot single-handedly over three and a half years, has a scene in which Aneez’s grandfather Moidu Haji, who has since died, narrates the story of his grandfather Pakramar, left with no other option, migrating to Wayanad in the 1860s with three of his friends. “They bought 32 acres of land from a Gowda, who also parcelled out a few Paniyars for tilling their fields. The Paniyas were paid in kind, with a portion of rice as wages,” Haji says in the film. It was his long association with the Paniya workers that prompted Aneez to make a film on their life and after-life. The film opens with a personalised childhood recollection. “I was a single-man crew and as I went about shooting, a suicide happened in the community, which led me to their pithy Penappattu.”

From a death and the superstitions surrounding it, the film takes us through various facets of the Paniya life, all punctuated with hardship, misery and tales of exploitation. “They realise they’ve been historically exploited, as we understand from the Penappattu in which the Gowda, eager to have more of their ilk, asks Paniya siblings to stay man and woman below the waist.”

Cut to modern times, scenes of the elaborate ritual following a girl attaining menarche are followed by episodes of young men getting entangled in POCSO cases, thanks to the tribe’s practice of marrying off girls young.

A graduate in English, he worked as a journalist for sometime before taking documentaries on Wayanad’s agrobiodiversity and tribal food security.

The Slave Genesis was produced with support from DOCEDGE-Bang, crowdfunding from the Kalpetta Film Fraternity and his own Canopy Black production.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by S. Anandan / Kochi – December 28th, 2017

Keralite in tourism encyclopedia team

World’s largest encyclopedia on Tourism

‘Gods Own Country’, billed as one of the ten paradises in the world and one of the 50 must-see destinations of a lifetime, is now seeking attention through an academic contribution to the world’s largest encyclopedia in tourism.

Dileep M.R., a researcher in tourism-related issues and Head, Department of Tourism, Pazhassiraja College, Pulpally, Wayanad, has made this possible by getting nominated as a member in the expert team of hundreds of researchers and academicians from around the globe that prepared the Encyclopedia of Tourism.

Published by Springer, New York, the United States, the reference book, running more than 1100 pages, has elaborate descriptions consisting of definitions, explanations, examples/cases, and references for more than 700 key topics spanning travel, tourism, hospitality, and allied areas of the industry.

Dr. Dileep was included in the team based on his research paper published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research brought out from Hong Kong.

“The encyclopaedia is more research-oriented, collects the essence of the world’s leading tourism research with its application, and provides authoritative definitions and explanations of all important tourism topics. It is going to be the epicentre of this emerging discipline of tourism,” says Dr. Dileep.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by S. Anil Radhakrishnan / Thiruvananthapuram – December 29th, 2017

Navy’s operational sea training organisation turns 25 years

C​hief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba ​delivering the keynote address at the silver jubilee seminar​ of Flag Officer Sea Training organisation. ​

Seminar today to mark the occasion will have 18 foreign delegates taking part

A two-day seminar on “Operational sea training and safety on board” got under way at the Southern Naval Command (SNC) here on Wednesday with the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, as the chief guest to mark the silver jubilee off the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) – an organisation within the Navy headquartered in Kochi and is responsible for the conduct of operational sea training of all Indian naval ships through its ‘work up’ teams located in Kochi, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam.

Operational sea training involves comprehensive training of a ship and its crew, to prepare it as a team to perform its full range of tasks during peace and war.

Vice Admiral A.R. Karve, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the SNC, inaugurated the seminar, while Admiral Lanba delivered the keynote address. The first day of the seminar witnessed presentation of papers by speakers from the Indian Navy on the themes, “Combat efficiency through operational sea training” and “Promoting safety on board”.

The seminar will have an international flavour on Thursday with the participation of 18 overseas delegates, from Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Oman, UAE and Mauritius.

The Indian naval work-up team, headed by FOST, has been undertaking sea training service for not just the Indian Navy, but also for the Coast Guard and foreign navy ships since 1992. Over the past 25 years, the organisation has trained the crew of over 1,075 ships and submarines from the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and friendly foreign countries. Training for 16 foreign ships and regular interaction with foreign navies/coast guards has helped exchange best practices, while strengthening bonds of maritime cooperation, a defence media release said.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – December 20th, 2017

Malabar: It’s no giving up for footwear industry

Started in the 1980s, the footwear industry in the region is growing with new units emerging every year.

Representational Image

Kozhikode :

The footwear industry of the Malabar region registered a jump over the years with the annual cumulative turnover of the Kozhikode-based footwear companies alone crossing Rs 1,500 crore, according to the Kerala State Small Scale Industries Association. With 150 manufacturing units supported by 300 ancillary units and providing direct employment to 25,000 workers, the footwear sector has been a breadwinner for thousands of families. With many popular brands including VKC, Paragon, Lunar, Mark, Odyssia, Cubiz, Fisher, Hawalker and Jogger, the footwear sector of the state is strong and most of the players have their origins in Kozhikode, it was pointed out.

Confederation of Indian Footwear Industry vice-president V. Naushad, who is also the managing director of VKC group, told DC that Kozhikode is contributing a lion’s share of the state’s footwear production. “Unified efforts of the industry players helped in making significant growth over the years”, he said, adding that India could pose a challenge to China, the global footwear market leader, in a few years.

“The entrepreneurs here have been getting exposure to world class technologies and changing trends during the International Footwear Exhibitions that is organized often which attracts several players to the footwear industry”, he added.    Started in the 1980s, the footwear industry in the region is growing with new units emerging every year. The flagship footwear company of the region is the VKC group with an annual turnover of Rs 1,500 crore (approx.).

source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> In other news / Deccan Chronicle / November 28th, 2017

Focus on role of folklorists in safeguarding traditions

Robert Baron, founding director of Folk Arts Programme at the New York State Council on the Arts, in Kochi on Wednesday.

Robert Baron, founding director of Folk Arts Programme at the New York State Council on the Arts, delivered a lecture here on Wednesday on American public folklore and folklorists as cultural brokers.

The lecture, organised in collaboration with Sahapedia, was followed by an interactive session in which Rajan Chedambath, secretary, Centre for Heritage and Development of the Kochi Corporation and anthropologist Indu Menon participated. Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the event.

The focus of the session was on the role of folklorists and cultural brokers, who enabled communities to safeguard and transmit their traditions on their own terms.

Folklore expresses shared identity of ethnic, religious, regional or occupational groups; folklore is emergent and evolves and changes constantly. Folklore is also a key instrument in facilitating cultural self-determination in a community.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – December 20th, 2017