C.S. Falhan became the first member of the Blind Football Academy when he received the membership from Union Minister K.J. Alphons here on Thursday.
Sunil J. Mathew, Indian Blind Football Federation sporting director; Fr. Robin Kannanchira, director, Chavara Cultural Centre; and M.C. Roy, attended the event. The academy, which has been established by Indian Blind Football Federation, will be opened on Friday at Jogo Football arena near Bund Road at 4 p.m.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – September 14th, 2017
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
Rekha is the first woman in the country who goes fishing in the sea by boat, according to CMFRI
The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) will felicitate K.V. Karthikeyan and his wife K.C. Rekha who have been venturing into the sea for fishing using gill nets and hooks since the past 13 years.
Sudarshan Bhagat, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, will present a memento to the couple at a fishermen meet to be held at CMFRI here on Friday. He will hand over fish seeds to the couple for launching sea cage farming. The programme is part of the ongoing platinum jubilee celebrations of the institution.
An official release here said that the couple hails from Kundazhiyoor near Chettuva in Thrissur district. It claimed that Ms. Rekha is the first woman in the country who goes fishing in the sea by boat. Although there are women engaged in fishing in backwaters, no record about women’s presence in fishing along the Indian coasts is available so far, said A. Gopalakrishnan, Director of CMFRI. He said that the institution wanted to felicitate the courage shown by the couple.
“There are some superstitious beliefs in the society that women are not supposed to go to the sea for fishing. But, here a lady has courageously broken all these unreasonable customs and conventions and made a living out of fishing,” said Mr. Gopalakrishnan. The CMFRI has offered them financial and technical support to launch cage farming in the sea.
The Minister will address the representatives of fishermen and fish farmers. An interactive session will also be held on the occasion to solve the issues being faced by stakeholders.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – May 04th, 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
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
The real story of how one woman’s rebellion against oppressive feudalism has been hijacked and repurposed by the patriarchy
Her name was Nangeli and she lived in Cherthala, a watery alcove on the Kerala coast. We do not know when she was born or who sired her. But we know she died in 1803, her spirit cast in a hundred moulds in the two hundred summers that followed. Today, Nangeli has champions on the Internet, her story is told by men and women seeking inspiration and courage on this side of time. And they too have recast her sacrifice, celebrating a tale that would have been alien to the protagonist. Nangeli has been reduced from a woman who thrust a dagger into the heart of society to one who died to preserve those artful shackles that many of us know as ‘honour’.
The contours of the tale are well known. Nangeli and her man, Chirukandan, were Ezhavas — toddy tappers — who laboured in that awkward gap that society fashions for those who are low but not the lowest. They had a little hut where they lived, and they had no children. Life for Nangeli and Chirukandan was as hard as it was for their neighbours. They toiled hand to mouth, toeing lines drawn by caste, and bowing before the pretensions of their superiors. Nothing about them was remarkable till Nangeli stood up. They will proclaim that she stood up to preserve her dignity, but that is because they are afraid to admit that she stood up to them. Nangeli was a rebel, but like many rebels, in death her memory became the possession of those she opposed. She threw off one tyrant, and found her legacy in the grasp of another.
The Kerala that Nangeli and Chirukandan knew was not the Kerala celebrated today for its healthy children, emancipated grandmothers, and literate masses. It was a hard, difficult landscape, and Cherthala was a speck on the map of Travancore, a state with a ruler of its own to whom was owed allegiance — and tax money. Land tax was low, but the Rajahs made up for this ancestral blunder through other levies. If you were a landless fisherman, you had a tax on your fishing net. If you were a man sporting a moustache, your facial hair fell within the mandate of the revenue inspector. If you owned slaves, you most certainly had to pay tax on these bleeding units of muscle. Nangeli and her husband acquiesced like loyal subjects, but they will tell you that she stood up to the one abhorrent tax that touched upon her honour; that when it came to her rights as a respectable woman, she declared: ‘No more.’
Cleaved her place
They came one morning, the story goes, to tax her breasts, leering at its shape and dimensions to calculate the figure owed. It was called mulakkaram — the breast tax — and women who were not high-born were surveyed as soon as they advanced from girlhood to adolescence. Nangeli was probably taxed for years, but in 1803 when the villains of the tale came to her hovel, she was prepared for the act that would cleave for her a place in history and lore. She went inside calmly while they waited by the threshold, it is said, and returned with the tax offering on a plantain leaf. Since they had come for the breast tax, that is what they got: Nangeli’s breasts, severed by her own hand and placed in a bleeding lump. She collapsed in a heap and died in agony, her corpse cradled by Chirukandan who returned to find his home turned into the scene of one of history’s great tragedies. Some say he jumped into the pyre as Nangeli burned and perished in flames of grief — for him too there was sacrifice.
The legend of Nangeli was birthed in blood and injustice. Women of low caste, they will tell you, couldn’t cover their bodies if they didn’t pay the breast tax. They silently wept and lamented their fate, shame building upon shame under the gaze of lewd old men for whom the right to dignity came with a price. But Nangeli was a woman of virtue — she would not barter money for honour. And so she chose death.
Embarrassed and horrified by the tyranny of their ways, the Rajahs abandoned the tax on breasts. Nangeli became a heroine. Womanhood prevailed.
This is the tale they will tell you of Nangeli. As it happens, it is all a travesty.
For a society as open as Kerala once was, breasts came to provoke a grave panic in the Victorian age. This was the land where Portuguese merchants in the 16th century beheld bare-breasted princesses, negotiating treaties of trade and leading bare-chested troops in battle. It was here that a 17th century Italian found himself in the court of a prince, packed with royal women covered only around the waist — two young nieces of the ruler wondered with amusement why on earth he was so covered up in the tropical heat. This was also the land where women enjoyed physical and sexual autonomy, where widowhood was no calamity and one husband could always be replaced with another. The coast was rich with the tales of great women — from Unniarcha of the Northern Ballad of Malabar, an accomplished warrior from Nangeli’s caste, to Umayamma of Attingal, a princess who reigned over kings. These were brave women of towering personality. But in the 19th century, Kerala’s moral conscience grappled not with their achievements as much as the conundrum that their unabashed bare-breastedness presented.
Virtue, as we recognise it today in its patriarchal definition, was not a concept that existed in Kerala. And till our colonial masters — and fellow Indians from patriarchal backgrounds — sat in judgement over the matrilineal streak heavily infused among the dominant groups here, women, their bare torsos, and their sexual freedoms did not in the least attract attention or opprobrium. Where elsewhere polygamy was a practice available to men, in Kerala there was polyandry on offer, because women were not unequal to their brothers (or, to be more exact, they were less unequal). They owned property and controlled resources, living fuller lives than the domesticated child-rearing destinies granted to their sisters elsewhere. But this was, of course, the case of women of privilege. For women like Nangeli there was no question of living a life of heroic glamour with armies or ballads; she had to earn her way through every day of uncertainty. It was in death that the songs followed, and so worrying were they, that they focussed not on Nangeli’s message but a perversion of it that was more palatable to changing social mores.
The advent of the British meant more than just political rule; they brought to Kerala a new sense of morality, reinforced by missionaries who had the ear of these foreign masters. Polyandrous marriage was deemed ‘very revolting’ — women were told that they ought to be virtuous, which meant deference to one husband, one master. They had to cultivate modesty, and toplessness was not a step in that direction. The sexual gaze of the patriarchal Victorian was turned towards the breast in Kerala, till then not a cause of concern. When men and women entered temples, they both took off their top cloth. Today only the men are obliged to do this. As late as the 1920s and 1930s, when Namboothiri Brahmin women for the first time acquired the blouse to cover themselves, purists excommunicated them for breaching custom — modesty and true moral superiority lay, they argued, in not covering up. As Aubrey Menen remarked of his grandmother’s attitude to his Irish mother, it was thought that ‘married women who wore blouses were Jezebels’ and ‘a wife who dressed herself could only be aiming at adultery’. To cover breasts because men demanded it, was regressive to elders as it meant succumbing to objectification. But these elders were a minority in the face of young, ‘progressive’ men bent on making their women ‘virtuous’.
Across the coast, the torso — male and female — was not something that was covered. Higher castes sported shawls, but not for reasons of modesty or because they had notions of virtue more consistent with those of a patriarchal society, but because the shawl was a mark of honour. When Christian converts from lower castes covered themselves in the 1850s, riots broke out after violent upper-caste attacks on them. The bone of contention was not that the converted women wanted to cover themselves — it was that they had covered themselves with the shawl permitted only to the high-born. Peace was restored when the converts invented a blouse; the covering was not the issue in the first place. The tale of Nangeli that they will tell you today has her fighting to preserve her honour, where honour is construed as her right to cover the breast. But in Nangeli’s time, the honour of a woman was hardly linked to the area above the waist. As F. Fawcett remarked, dress was ‘a conventional affair, and it will be a matter of regret should false ideas of shame supplant those of natural dignity such as one sees expressed in the carriage and bearing of the well-bred… lady’.
But the import of Victorian patriarchy also imported shame, and women were told that a bare body was a mark of disgrace. Dignity lay in accepting male objectification; honour was in docility. Men, studying in colleges in big cities, received jibes about their topless mothers who may have had more than one husband. Could they ever be sure about who their fathers were? These men dragged into Kerala the masculinity of their patriarchal interlocutors, and women too, exposed to the West and a new conception of femininity, succumbed. ‘We will publish nothing related to politics,’ declared one of the region’s earliest women’s magazines in 1892, adding that ‘writings that energise the moral conscience’ — tips on cooking, stories of ‘ideal women’ — and ‘other such enlightening topics’ alone would be covered. A lady’s job was in the home as a mother, as a loyal wife, and as a housekeeper, not outside as a topless harlot who exercised her customary right to divorce. ‘As women,’ another declaration went, ‘our god-ordained duty is the care of the home and service towards our husbands.’
New icons needed to be found. Women who fit the bill of the new order rather than those who were emblems of a now disgusting bare-bosomed past. And where such women were in short supply, existing women were reincarnated, as J. Devika has shown. Umayamma of Attingal, the topless queen whom the Dutch noted for her ‘noble and manly conduct’, who was ‘feared and respected by everyone’, and who was a ‘young Amazon’, became in S. Parameswara Iyer’s poetry, a melodramatic damsel in distress, a helpless mother (when, in fact, she had no children) pleading for a male protector. Where the English found that the ‘handsomest young men about the country’ formed her seraglio and ‘whom and as many [men] as she pleases to the honour of her bed’ could be had by her, now she became a loyal, patriarchal icon of womanly virtue. The women of the past were turned into ciphers for the present, filled with doses of honour and draped in garbs tailored by men. The wheels of time had turned and this is what was needed in Kerala.
Nangeli too was recast. When Nangeli offered her breasts on a plantain leaf to the Rajah’s men, she demanded not the right to cover her breasts, for she would not have cared about this ‘right’ that meant nothing in her day. Indeed, the mulakkaram had little to do with breasts other than the tenuous connection of nomenclature. It was a poll tax charged from low-caste communities, as well as other minorities. Capitation due from men was the talakkaram — head tax — and to distinguish female payees in a household, their tax was the mulakkaram — breast tax. The tax was not based on the size of the breast or its attractiveness, as Nangeli’s storytellers will claim, but was one standard rate charged from women as a certainly oppressive but very general tax.
When Nangeli stood up, squeezed to the extremes of poverty by a regressive tax system, it was a statement made in great anguish about the injustice of the social order itself. Her call was not to celebrate modesty and honour; it was a siren call against caste and the rotting feudalism that victimised those in its underbelly who could not challenge it. She was a heroine of all who were poor and weak, not the archetype of middle-class womanly honour she has today become. But they could not admit that Nangeli’s sacrifice was an ultimatum to the order, so they remodelled her as a virtuous goddess, one who sought to cover her breasts rather than one who issued a challenge to power. The spirit of her rebellion was buried in favour of its letter, and Nangeli reduced to the sum of her breasts.
The writer, who authored the award-winning The Ivory Throne, when not writing is busy trying to make a mean meen pollichathu.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> History & Culture / by Manu S. Pillai
City-based internationally renowned magician Gopinath Muthukad will be conferred with a Lifetime Achievement Award along with the title ‘Indrajala Brahma’ and a cash prize of Rs 50,000 by the Indian Magic Academy in Visakhapatnam on February 23.
The award will be presented at a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of Indian Magic Academy. 16 years ago, Muthukad had captivated a sea of people in Visakhapatnam with his great escape art. On the occasion, B S Reddy, the founder of Indian Magic Academy and recipient of Merlin Award for ‘the most original illusionist’ would once again perform the act.
The event will also witness eight female magicians from various places in the country showcasing their talents.
Muthukad’s performances over the last four and a half decades in 50 countries has acquired him a huge fan base. A graduate in Mathematics, Muthukad took magic as a career and left his law course to pursue his passion.
Muthukad established ‘The Academy of Magical Sciences’ the first of its kind in Asia. He has been upholding the torch of science, dismantling superstitions and popularising magic as an art and science. He also serves as an executive director of Magic Planet, the first entirely magic-themed complex in the world – designed for children.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Express News Service / February 14th, 2017
Tiara Abraham, 10, has released her first album titled ‘Winter Nightingale’
The album contains her renditions of some classic carols and holiday songs, sung in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Latin and French
Tiara got enrolled at the American River College in Sacramento at the age of 7
Indian American child prodigy Tiara Thankam Abraham has released her first album, a collection of nine world holiday songs, in six languages.
Tiara, 10, who entered college at the age of seven, is the younger sister of Tanishq Abraham+ , a contestant on the Lifetime reality show “Child Genius”.
The album titled ‘Winter Nightingale’, contains her renditions of some classic carols and holiday songs, sung in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Latin and French.
The Abrahams are second generation immigrants from Kerala, India. Their grandparents came to the United States when they were children.
Tiara is enrolled at the American River College in Sacramento, California — the same school where her brother graduated in May 2015. Currently a junior, she has big plans after school. “When I grow up, I want to be a soprano opera classical singer,” she said.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> NRI> US & Canada News / PTI / December 18th, 2016
City-based genius Prasanth C, who recently entered the India Book of Records for his memorisation skills, has broken his old record. This time, the differently-abled youngster recalled the days for the most number of dates given within the timeframe of a minute earning him an entry into the Asia Book of Records. The record breaking feat was held on Thursday at Hotel Hycinth in the city.
Those who attended the event included former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, noted magician Gopinath Muthukad and Asia Book of Records representative L Franklin Herbert Das among others.
The youngster earned the title by writing down the days for a set of seven random dates with the particular year, all in 45 seconds. Speaking about the record-breaking feat, Franklin, Asia Book of Records said, “It gives me great privilege to be part of this event. Youngsters like Prasanth are unique in the sense that they have high focus on a particular innate ability. He is a great learner and his parents have been supporting him immensely by providing him with the best of resources.”
Besides being visually impaired, Prashanth suffers from speech and hearing impairment. He also has a congenital heart defect.
However, in spite of these problems, the youngster has a number of wonderful skills. Apart from having a photographic memory to recall the days for random dates in the Gregorian calendar, he has the ability to calculate the exact temperature of any particular place he stands on.
The 19-year-old youngster is also talented in the keyboard and can play the instrument using only his right hand. His parents Chandran and Suhita as well as his elder sister Priyanka are equally overjoyed as Prashanth now adds another feather to his cap. Priyanka says, “I can’t describe my happiness. Now that he has entered the Asia Book of Records, he plans to compete for other record titles, especially the Guinness Book of World Records. I hope that he will achieve more.”
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Express News Service / July 29th, 2016
“To describe Mr. Menon was like trying to contain the Niagra in a flask,” former civil servant P.N. Haksar famously said of him.
The life and multi-faceted contributions of the Indian statesman V.K. Krishna Menon (1896-1974), especially the less-known phase of his life in Britain, were remembered at a meeting organised by the V.K. Krishna Menon Research Institute at the Nehru Centre in London.
Speakers at the meeting included Cyriac Maprayil, Director of the Krishna Menon Institute; Virendar Paul, Deputy High Commissioner of India; Sir Peter Lloyd, former Minister of State for the Home office; and Chaya Ray, a lawyer who offered interesting reflections on Mr. Menon who she knew as a child in London.
“To describe Mr. Menon was like trying to contain the Niagra in a flask,” said Mr. Maprayil, quoting the former civil servant P.N. Haksar.
Despite his prodigious intellect, Mr. Menon was no armchair intellectual and threw himself into local British politics and life. He an elected Councillor for Camden Town for four terms and was conferred the Freedom of the Borough for his public services.
As a member of the library committee, he wanted to see “as many libraries as pubs” in the area, Mr. Maprayil noted. His interest in promoting reading led him to set up Penguin paperbacks in 1935 with Sir Allen Lane. For a time during the war, he even acted as an air raid warden for his area.
Indian League role
Better known and documented are his activities in the India League, which he founded in 1929 and which canvassed support in Britain for Indian independence.
His contacts were wide and influential and included Bertrand Russell, J.B.S. Haldane, Michael Foote, Aneurin Bevan, E.M.Forster and Marie Seton.
1962 war defeat ‘hard on him’
Sir Peter Lloyd noted how Mr. Menon was invariably “right, but at the wrong time.” India’s defeat in the Indo-China’s war was “hard on him”, Mr. Lloyd said, “not the kind of payback he was looking for from the Chinese.” But on non-alignment, “his timing was right,” as it made the two power blocks take note of newly independent nations, even as it gave the latter a “sense of autonomy as equals rather than as players with client status.”
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News / by Parvathi Menon / London – May 04th, 2016