Category Archives: Arts,Culture & Entertainment

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: / The Hindu / Home> Profile> Society / by Vidya Ram / January 13th, 2018

Kozhikode’s golden reign continues

Thrissur, 10/01/2018, Calicut Team Win Overall Gold Cup in Kerala School Art Festival in Thrissur on Wednesday_Photo_K_K_Najeeb

Pips Palakkad by 2 points to emerge champion for the 12th consecutive year, Malappuram comes third

Kozhikode completed a golden dozen on Sunday. The district lifted its 12th successive Gold Cup at the State School Arts Festival. No mean feat that.

It is truly remarkable that the young artistes from Kozhikode have never let their grip go of the cup that is given to the district scoring the highest number of points at the State festival after they won it at Kannur in 2007. But, Palakkad gave it a very stiff fight here before settling for the runner-up spot.

Kozhikode finished with 895 points, just two more than Palakkad. Malappuram was third with 875, while host Thrissur took the fourth place with 865.

Top school

Palakkad, however, had the consolation that a school from the district, BSS Gurkukulam, Alathur, emerged as the best both in the Higher Secondary and High School categories, overcoming strong challenges from the likes of Silver Hills HSS, Kozhikode, St. Teresa’s, Kannur, and MKNMHS, Kumaramangalam (Idukki).

In the Sanskrit Festival too, Kozhikode emerged champion, with 95 points. Kannur and Palakkad, with 91 points each, finished second and third respectively.

In the Arabic Festival, Malappuram finished on top with 95 points.

Kasaragod and Thrissur, with 93 points apiece, were placed second and third respectively.

The prizes were distributed at the main venue of Thekkinkadu Maidan in front of a packed house. Speaking at the function, Education Minister C. Ravindranath said the State School Arts Festival should evolve into a cultural festival.

Revised manual

“This edition of the festival was held with a revised manual,” he said.

“The process of revision will continue for the next three years. We welcome suggestions from the public about the changes made in the festival, such as the discontinuation of giving the prizes to the top three,” he said.

Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar, actor and MP Innocent were among those who attended.

Alappuzha next host

The next edition of the festival will be held at Alappuzha. “It is the home district of our Opposition Leader and it has enough venues to conduct the festival,” Mr. Ravindranath said.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by P.K. Ajith Kumar – Thrissur / January 10th, 2018

How Kerala’s first community radio station is creating waves of change

Broadcasting programmes in different tribal dialects, this radio channel is disseminating important information to the marginalised groups of Wayanad.

Nammada Mattoli (our Mattoli) is what listeners across Kerala fondly call this radio station. Operating from a shopping complex space in the quaint municipality of Mananthavady, Radio ‘Mattoli’ (meaning echo/reverberation in local dialects) broadcasts socially-relevant programmes that are cheered by a wide range of audiences across the Wayanad hills.

Home to many farmers and indigenous tribal groups, Wayanad is among the most sparsely populated, backward districts of Kerala (according to the 2011 Census). Though it scores well in sex ratio, Wayanad still has the lowest literacy rate in entire Kerala.

Promoted by Wayanad Social Service Society (WSSS), a non-governmental development organisation, ‘Radio Mattoli 90.4 FM’ started its operation in 2009 to bridge the information gap that existed between agriculture-dependent communities and government authorities. Tracing back its origin and purpose, Father Sebastian Puthen Varghese, the current Station Director says,

A lot of people in the tribal communities were not getting relevant governmental information in an easily accessible manner. Radio Mattoli began with an aim to reach out to such marginalised communities.

 Acquainting farmers

Brainchild of Bishop Mar Jose Porunnedom, Radio Mattoli today broadcasts 20 hours of various programmes and documentaries with its signals covering more than 85 percent of Wayanad district.

Wayanad’s District Police Superintendent Arul RB Krishna speaking to the listeners of Radio Mattoli.

With farmers and agriculturalists occupying the majority of the population in Wayanad, many of Radio Mattoli’s programmes are geared towards addressing their needs and concerns.

For example, programmes such as NjattuvelaVayalnadu and Kambolanilavaram spread pertinent agricultural knowledge on market value of products, weather updates, bio-farming techniques, etc. shares Fr. Sebastian.

The channel also gets on board relevant experts from government authorities who acquaint farmers in the Wayanad hills with the methods to preserve of water bodies, dairy farming, organic farming, and precision farming.

Quoting an anecdote from his previous work experience as documentation and communication officer at Radio Mattoli, Krishnakumar CK recalls an incident when “there was a high incidence of foot-and-mouth disease among the cattle in the Wayanad region in 2013.” Despite repeated requests, veterinary doctors from the government were hesitant to reach out and help farmers in remote areas who had lost their cattle.

To address this negligence on part of authorities, Radio Mattoli toured these places, recorded the woes of 10 dairy farmers and their families who had lost their cattle, and escalated the issue by broadcasting a timely, special programme. Such an effort immediately promoted government authorities, who swung to immediate action and sent out an ambulance for help.

Empowering tribal communities

Wayanad, a well-known bio-diversity hotspot, is also home to 13 of Kerala’s 36 tribal communities. As Krishnakumar explains,

The social isolation levels in many of these tribal communities is very high and they often hesitate to integrate with the people in the mainstream.

However, thanks to Radio Mattoli’s programmes such as Thudichetham which broadcast the complexities of the issues faced by tribals and suggest remedies in their own dialects and slang, the tribal communities of Wayanad now possess a very strong and personal sense of ownership with regard to the channel.

The tribal producers of Radio Mattoli

Fr. Sebastian is both proud and emotional when he recollects how Radio Mattoli and its community-driven content has impacted many people. “We have heard from Joseph, an illiterate who quit habitual smoking after listening to one of our programmes that spoke about the ill-effects of the same. Now, he frequently visits our station office with sweets and poems written by him”.

In one of our radio club meetups, Bhasakaran, who belongs to the backward classes, also shared how he carried his radio set with him even when he climbed trees to pluck peppercorns. That’s the kind of affection people have shown for Radio Mattoli, he adds.

Radio Mattoli is the only electronic media channel in the whole of Kerala to broadcast programmes in tribal languages. The station has a team of active volunteers from tribal communities who first train and then produce creative content (in the form of scripting shows, lending their voice for radio dramas, etc.) on their own.

Many tribal dialects in Kerala do not even have a script. In this context, the effort of these young volunteers striving to help their communities is extremely crucial, opines Krishnakumar.

Bringing the issues of marginalised communities to mainstream

Apart from farmers and tribal communities, Radio Mattoli also produces content for women, children and people from marginalised communities such as the elderly, orphans, etc. While programmes such as Vanitha Mattoli and Karuthal throw light on a wide range of women and children related issues, more targeted broadcasts are also designed to benefit groups as specific as the auto rickshaw drivers in the region.

Talking about programmes such as Ponpulari, which feature the entrepreneurial efforts of women in Wayanad region, Fr. Sebastian says,

Radio Mattoli has identified and interviewed several women who are running small businesses (such as that of pickle and Namkeen) of value added products.

Airwaves of change

Licensed by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Radio Mattoli is also the only community radio channel functioning out of the Wayanad region. In span of eight years, the channel has expanded from broadcasting just four hours initially to 20 hours (12 hours of fresh content and eight of previous broadcasts) today, from 5:30am to 1:30am.

Though revenue generation was an initial hurdle, Radio Mattoli now gets financial assistance from various government departments, organisations, and also benefits from regularised advertisements.

Radio Mattoli, through its 60 exclusive programmes, has been able to reach out to a varied group of listeners in Wayanad such as farmers, tribes, dalits, women, and children.

“Over the years, a team of dedicated volunteers from grassroots communities have helped Radio Mattoli gain the kind popularity that it has. We are proud of this active citizenry since it marks the triumph of any community radio station”, says Fr. Sebastian.

When questioned about future plans for Radio Mattoli, he adds,

Our biggest dream in the coming years is to broadcast the voice of every citizen in Wayanad. And eventually, we want this radio station to be owned by people themselves.

“Radio Mattoli provides a lot of autonomy at work. Since, there’s no pressure to do news, we have the bandwidth to plan and proceed with our special programmes,” says 28-year-old Lithin   who works with the station.

India has about 179 community radio stations, a number that’s too small compared to the proposed 4,000 by Government of India in 2007. However, among the ones disseminating information in the remotest areas and empowering the masses, Radio Mattoli stands out as a shining example.

source: / / Home> Social Story / by Amoolya Rajappa / January 09th, 2018

State’s own daughter is in raptures

Sreeja T., the State’s ‘first adopted daughter’ helping her daughter Meenakshi get ready for the Ottanthullal competition. Vinod Kumar, Sreeja’s husband, is to the left. | Photo Credit: K_K_Mustafah

State’s ‘first adopted daughter’ is at the fete with her ward

Tears rolled down her cheeks as T. Sreeja helped with the make-up of her daughter Meenakshi for the Ottanthullal competition at the Vivekodayam HSS on Monday.

It was but natural for her to turn emotional. For, Sreeja, “the first adopted daughter of the State” was exactly her daughter’s age when fate left her an orphan, leaving her to the mercy of the government.

Twenty-four years ago, on July 20, a giant tree, uprooted in heavy winds, had landed atop her home at Aninja in Kasaragod district crushing her parents, two elder brothers, and a sister. All seemed lost when the government adopted her.

Drawing her daughter, a Class 9 student of Durga HSS, Kasaragod, near, she thanked all those who helped piece her life together.

“It was the then UDF government led by the late K. Karunakaran that took her as the first adopted daughter of the State. P. Mara Pandiyan, then District Collector of Kasaragod, had recommended to the government to adopt her,” said Vinod Kumar, Sreeja’s husband, a teacher at the Govt. High School at Thachangad in Kasaragod.

Sreeja was appointed as clerk in the Revenue Department immediately after she completed pre-degree. She is now working in the taluk office at Hosdurg.

An A grade

“I feel happy when Meenakshi performs. My elder daughter Sreelakshmi, a Plus Two student at Hosdurg HSS, had won the Ottanthullal event in the school arts festival in 2015,” said Sreeja. Meenakshi won A grade in the high school section, in which 23 students participated.

Most of the participants in the Ottanthullal event stuck to the traditional stories. A student from Palakkad said she presented ‘Santhanagopalam’ as it gave ample scope for facial expressions.

Manaloor Gopinathan, noted Thullal artiste, said that his disciples tried something different while narrating a piece from ‘Nalacharitham’ and ‘Sundariswayamvaram.’ Mr. Gopinathan, a sub-inspector with the State Special Branch in Thrissur, pointed out that the contest needed new and interesting stories.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities > Thiruvananthapuram / by G. Krishna Kumar / Thrissur – January 08th, 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: / 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: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Shenoy Karun / TNN / January 04th, 2018

Ace guitarist Emil Isaac dead

Emil Isaac, the ace guitarist who accompanied playback singers K.J. Yesudas and Usha Uthup in many of their live shows and who was one of the prominent musicians in the orchestra, died at a private hospital here on Wednesday.

Emil was the eldest son of violinist Joe Isaac and singer Emilda. The 70-year-old guitarist had been bed-ridden ever since he suffered a paralytic stroke.

Emil’s musical journey began with a guitar loaned from Azad Music Club in his formative years.

While Yesudas and Usha Uthup played an important role in shaping his career as a guitarist in their troupes, Emil had quite a few firsts in his right.

First such Western music band

He was responsible for forming the first Western music band in Kochi called the Elite Aces.

He had been part of the Western music group Flamingo before starting his own band. Much of his time was also devoted to devotional music. He had conducted the orchestra for Kalabhavan for three years, leading a group of 60 musicians.

Emil had been the chief guitarist for Usha Uthup for years and he shifted his base to Kolkata to take care of her studio.

Of his 10 siblings, Rex, Eugine, Antony, Efry, Eloy and Eldrige took to music. He is survived by his wife Helen and two children.

The funeral will be conducted on Thursday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Chathiath.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Staff Reporter / Kochi – January 04th, 2018

A professor becomes a successful caregiver for cancer patients


Prof. Ramani Tharayil has been able to empathize with the pain of the patients ever since she was the principal of Kottayam BCM College.

When she retired from service 17 years ago, she told her husband Dr. K. C. Joseph that she wanted to do something to help cancer patients during her retirement life. He did not raise any objection and she began her service.

Prof. Ramani created beautiful craftworks using the waste pieces of clothes from tailoring shops and sold them to her acquaintances.

Knowing her intention of charity, her friends and relatives accepted her idea with open heart. People flowed to her house at Kaniyamkudil near BCM  College, asking for the creative pieces she made. After 3 years her husband died, which turned her complete attention to tailoring.

More of her creations are useful for household purposes, like beautiful kitchen towels or fridge handle cover. The money collected from sales is handed over to the cancer palliative care units every month. All the craftworks are made of eco-friendly materials.

Prof. Ramani said that the sales have increased, since she started trying new designs and crafts from internet. “I feel the same happiness I used to feel as a principal, when my students win or maybe a lot more,” said Prof. Ramani.

Her daughter Priya Mohan, who is a computer science graduate from Calicut Regional Engineering College, offers full support for her mother’s endeavour..

Priya’s husband Mohan Thomas, who is an engineer, also support her activities.

source: / Mathrubhumi / Home> News / December 12th, 2017

Joseph Pulikunnel, church critic and reformer, cremated

Kottayam :

Joseph Pulikunnel (85), the renowned Christian social reformer and critic who advocated liberalism in church, was cremated at his residence in Hosanna Mount in Edamattom near Pala on Friday. The funeral pyre was lit by his grandchildren.

Hundreds of people arrived at Hosanna Mount to pay tribute to the person, who, all along his life, fought for the reformation of the church.

Representing the Syro Malabar church, major archbishop Mar George Alencherry and curia bishop Mar Sebastian Vaniyapurackal performed the prayer service. Bishops and priests of various church denominations also conducted prayer services.

Pulikunnel, a revolutionary, used to address issues related to marriages and funerals that got ensnared in the rules of the church.

When his wife Kochurani died in 2008, her body was cremated in his residential premises. In his will, he had written that he should also be cremated in his residential premises. He had also specified the funeral services to be carried out after his death and had distributed it in print among his relatives and friends.

Pulikunnel, who passed away at his residence on Thursday, is best known for his independent and scholarly views on the state of the established church in India.

His main concerns were on contemporary religious and social problems, including the plight of the poor and minority rights. He was also the founder member of Kerala Congress (M).

The newsletter Hosanna, started by Pulikunnel in 1975, was successfully brought out for over 40 years without any break.

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / TNN / December 30th, 2017

‘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: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Staff Reporter / Kollam – December 30th, 2017