Monthly Archives: September 2014

Solar-powered, self-cleaning eToilet for schools unveiled

The eToilet has an automatic flush, which works before and after use, sensor controlled water usage and eliminates the need for manual cleaners in schools. / The Hindu
The eToilet has an automatic flush, which works before and after use, sensor controlled water usage and eliminates the need for manual cleaners in schools. / The Hindu

Eram Scientific, manufacturers of the country’s first eToilet, on Tuesday unveiled the world’s cheapest unmanned, self-cleaning eToilet with inbuilt solar panel and metallic platform for schools.

“This is our contribution to the nation and comes as a response to the “Clean India Campaign” announced by the Central Government. It perfectly matches with the “Make in India” campaign as well,” said Siddeek Ahmed, chairman of Thiruvananthapuram-based Eram Group.

Built of stainless steel base, mild steel super structure and occupying 25 sq.ft space, the eToilet comes with a price tag of Rs.99,999 ex-factory, which is inclusive of insurance charges and one-year warranty.

It has got an inbuilt solar panel, which eliminates the need for electricity connection while the metal platform avoids civil construction too.

It has an automatic flush, which works before and after use, automatic floor wash, sensor controlled water usage and eliminates the need for manual cleaners in schools.

“The present problems in sanitations at schools are known to be not because of the dearth of toilets. The lack of maintenance and requirement for manual cleaning has made them dysfunctional. We are out to address that gap and that is why we are now launching this comprehensive solution for schools,” said K. Anvar Sadath, CEO.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / IANS / Thiruvananthapuram – September 30th, 2014

Former India volleyball captain K. Udayakumar passes away

Thiruvananthapuram :

Former India volleyball captain and Arjuna Award winner K. Udayakumar passed away Friday due to a cardiac arrest, according to family sources. He was 54.

Udayakumar was an ADC to the Kerala governor since 2006 and held the rank of superintendent of police with the Kerala Armed Police Battalion. He, as usual, came to the office Friday morning as usual, but started feeling uncomfortable. He was taken to the medical room at Raj Bhavan. He was later being moved to a private hospital but breathed his last before he could reach the hospital.

Tall and well built, Udayakumar was a member of the Indian team that won the bronze at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games. He also captained the national team which won silver at the 1989 SAF Games. An active sportsman even after retirement, Udayakumar was a key member of the organising committee of the upcoming 35th National Games to be held here next year. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and several leading lights in the state capital paid their last respects to Udayakumar. The funeral will be held at Mararikulam in Alappuzha district, his hometown, Sunday.(IANS)

source: / Headlines India / Home> Social Interest News> Death / Friday – September 19th, 2014

Starry start to Female Film Festival

Vetran actors Madhu and Saradha greeting each other at the inauguration of 4th Female film festival in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday. Film maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan looks on. Photo:S.Gopakumar / The Hindu
Vetran actors Madhu and Saradha greeting each other at the inauguration of 4th Female film festival in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday. Film maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan looks on. Photo:S.Gopakumar / The Hindu

The Nila theatre on Saturday witnessed a rare get-together, the coming together of three of the key players behind the 1972 classic Swayamvaram. Director Adoor Gopalakrishnan and actors Madhu and Sarada shared the stage for the first time, 42 years after the release of the landmark film, which fetched four national awards.

The get-together happened during the inaugural function of the 4th Female Film Festival organised by the Kerala Sthree Padana Kendram. On the occasion, Ms. Sarada was presented with the P.K. Rosy award, in memory of the first female actor in Malayalam cinema, who starred in Vigathakumaran.

Road to award

Mr. Gopalakrishnan, in his inaugural address, reminisced about the making of Swayamvaram and its journey to the national awards. “I was fortunate to have two of the biggest stars in the industry for my first film. But once the film released, a lobby started working to deny it all the awards. We sent a long letter to the National jury requesting them to watch the film. Fortunately, a print of the film which was sent to the Moscow film festival had arrived back in Delhi at that time and the jury happened to see it. The fact that the film had less dialogues also probably worked in its favour. The experience tells that if you do your work sincerely, the awards will follow. These days, there is too much lobbying for awards.”

Ms. Sarada said she was fortunate to have received the maiden award in the name of P.K. Rosy.

Mr. Madhu said that few women from Kerala are coming forward to act in films, which has led to those from outside taking their place in many films.

Fourteen films will be screened at the festival in four days. Seminars and debates are arranged as part of the festival at the Gandhi Park at 5 p.m. on all four days.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by S.R. Praveen / Thiruvananthapuram – September 28th, 2014

Leading an orchestra differently

Rakesh Rajnikant seen practising at his house on Thursday for his Carnatic music debut on Friday./  Photo: C. Suresh Kumar / The Hindu
Rakesh Rajnikant seen practising at his house on Thursday for his Carnatic music debut on Friday./ Photo: C. Suresh Kumar / The Hindu

When Rakesh Rajnikanth was six months old, his parents and relatives discovered to their shock that he was blind and mentally challenged. Now, 32 years later, they are only too proud to say that he is in fact “differently able”.

Even now he is completely expressionless when hungry or thirsty and cannot do anything on his own.

But he sings so well that he can bring an entire audience to their feet. Friday marks a big day in the life of his family since he will be making his debut in Carnatic music at the Lakshminada temple here as part of the Navaratri celebrations.

It all began with his grandfather giving him a tape recorder 30 year ago as a toy. That was because he could only hear and other toys were of no use. From that age he began listening to songs, says his father, Rajnikanth, from a Gujarati family settled in Kollam for the past 60 years.

Some years later all of a sudden, Rakesh began to sing a song he regularly heard over the tape recorder and that surprised his family. It was a Kishore Kumar song and he sang it as though Kishore Kumar himself was singing. Then he went on to sing Mohammed Rafi and S.P. Balasuramaniam songs with the sound of the original singer.

His family members soon discovered that though blind and challenged, he can master any song in any language after hearing it a few times. With the karaoke machine, he times the songs with mathematical precision. This happens because he is an echolaliac, meaning that he echoes what he hears.

Singing with ease

Today, he even sings with ease the not-so-easy-to-sing ‘Marutamalai Mamaniye…’ of Madurai Somasundaram. Rakesh has a databank of hundreds of songs in six languages in his head and can play any one of them at will, improvising each song each time.

As news about his exceptional talent spread, the International People Leap Organisation promoted him and today, even though he is not aware of it, Rakesh leads a devotional song orchestra.

The orchestra has more than 80 bookings a year. He also sings Christian and Muslim devotional songs. The only two words he understands is “music concert” and on hearing them, he starts practising.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Kerala / by Ignatius Pereira / Kollam – September 26th, 2014

Celebrating 33 Years of Unni Menon’s Musical Eclat

Palakkad :

The Palakkad chapter of Swaralaya will organise a programme titled ‘Oru Chempaneer Poove Pole’ to mark 33 years of singing by Unni Menon here on Saturday and Sunday.

Former Nagaland Governor K Shankaranarayanan will inaugurate the function at Lions School auditorium at 10 am. In the afternoon, there will be a seminar on ‘Malayalam film songs – Yesterday and today’ which will be inaugurated by music director M Jayachandran.

On Sunday there will be a seminar on ‘Contributions and achievements of Unni Menon’ at the Lions School Auditorium. Music director Shyam will inaugurate the programme.  Critic Ravi Menon and film director V K Prakash will deliver the keynote address.

At 3 pm, there will be a seminar on ‘Music and Palakkad’ which will be inaugurated by carnatic vocalist K Omanakutty.

K J Yesudas will inaugurate the valedictory function at the Indira Gandhi Municipal stadium at 6 pm. The keynote address will be delivered by CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala will inaugurate the programme ‘Oru Chembaneer Poove pole’. Young singer award will be presented on the occasion.

At 6.30 pm there will be Samarpana Ganamela and visualisation of songs. Singers K J Yesudas, S P Balasubramaniam, Susheela, Vani Jayaram, K S Chithra, Mano, Vijay Yesudas, Madhu Balakrishnan, Sudeep Kumar, Krishnachandran, Gayathri, Najim Arshad, Siddique, Manoj K Jayan, Dinesh, Kallara Gopan, Franco, Devanand, Nishad, Minmini will take part.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / September 26th, 2014

Celebrating the MARS moment


The young generation erupted in joy across the schools in the state as India made its tryst with Mars on Wednesday with the successful launch of Mangalyaan.Many schools across Kochi used the day to engage students in various activities based on the proud mission. “We want the memory of this historic achievement to be etched in their minds forever. So we are giving them various projects, such as devising the model of the orbiter craft, imagining pictorially its possible task on Mars,” said Jaideep Shenoi, a teacher who heads the Science Club of the TD High School, Mattancherry.

The club also collected available videos of various stages of the mission and played it for the high school students and also held a quiz programme. Earlier in the day, the students stood in assembly in the shape of the letters, M, A, R and S.Most of the schools wore a festive look, with giant screens displaying the event. “We distributed sweets and replayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech. The students were very inspired,” said Dr Indira Rajan, chairperson, MET Public School, Perumbavoor.

The students of Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Kannamaly, wore red, representing the ‘Red Planet’. School head boy Gokul S Menon spoke on the mission at assembly.Schools, such as the Saraswathi Vidyaniketan and the cluster of Bhavan’s Vidya Mandirs, announced the ‘breaking news’ during their assemblies. The recorded video clips of the Mars Mission will be played to the various classes in the next two days. A victory march was conducted by the students of ACS English Medium School, Kaloor.

A large number of students attended the various programmes, organised by the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum in Thiruvananthapuram in association with Rajya Sabha TV, Vigyan Prasar and teh Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research. The historic mission was beamed live with the aid of state-of-the-art technology at the museum. Selected students from various schools were allowed to watch live  Mangalyaan’s entry into Mars’s orbit at the museum.

A  seminar on human space exploration and a quiz based on space exploration were some of the other events held. Students of Aakulam School were excited as they distributed toffees and sweets. Principal Mr Muraleedharan Nair explained to the students about the expedition and the future mission of Mangalyaan, recollecting his own memories as a student, rejoicing on the occasion of man reaching the moon. “This is an unforgettable moment in our history and it should always remain in the minds of students,” Mr Nair said.
Kendriya Vidyalaya, Pattom and St Mary’s Higher Secondary School also organised various programmes. Earlier, the students had a chance to interact with experts from the Indian Space Research Organisation and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.
Most of the schools in Kollam organised special assemblies and exhibitions. Siddhartha Central School in Pallimon organised a special assembly to convey to the students the importance prominence of the  moment. The Mars mission was shown at the school, using projected displays. A special exhibition of photographs was held and people spoke.
The Oxford Senior Secondary School in Karavaloor also discussed India’s path to Mars by presenting special programmes in the assembly. The timeline of the Mars mission was also presented by students.
In Bright land Discovery English Medium School in Alappuzha, the assembly was devoted to the Mars mission while Maria Montessori Central School, Ambalapuzha, has decided to conduct a grand function on Thursday. “We have decided to put up a flex board, showing Mangalyaan’s entry and take a special class on the Mars mission. We cut short the celebration on Wednesday with a brief procession at school as exams are going on,” said the school staff.
The Letter Land School, Alappuzha, too has decided to hold a celebration on Friday, according to Asha Philip, school director. Schools in Thrissur and Palakkad too did not miss the mega event and organised science quiz and created a collage of the mission. Students of Devamatha Public School, Thrissur launched a picture of ISRO chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan and the Mars Mission into the air to celebrate the occasion.
Some of the schools in Kottayam district telecast the Mars mission  on Wednesday itself while some others have recorded it and have decided to show it to the students in the coming days..The Cleemis School, Chingavanam, the SFS School, Ettumanur, and the AKM Public School, Changanacherry were not able not able to show the telecast live since their semester exams were on but plan to show it in the coming days.
Students of Lourdes Public School and the Junior College, Kottayam, wrote on their facebook accounts, “May this historic achievement rekindle in us the inspiration to go forward with a scientific aptitude….PROUD TO BE an Indian.”
source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / Team DC / September 25th, 2014

Veteran footballer dead in Kerala

Veteran football player N.T. Karunakaran / The Hindu
Veteran football player N.T. Karunakaran / The Hindu

Veteran football player N.T. Karunakaran died at his residence here on Tuesday. He was 92.

An ex-servicemen who had played for various teams including the Mohammedans Sporting Club of Kolkata died of age-related ailments. He had been one of the two founders of the Football Friend Free Coaching Centre (FFFCC) here that had offered free coaching to thousands of children over the last three decades.

FFFCC office-bearers said that the body would be placed at the FFFCC at 11 a.m. on September 24 before it was taken to Payyambalam for cremation. The deceased was the convener of the centre. He had also played for Army teams during his service period. He had also played for a club in Rajasthan after his retirement in 1946.

Mr. Karunakaran was a bachelor.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Kannur – September 24th, 2014

‘Kahaani Masters’ weave a spell

The five winners of the Toonz- Disney ‘Kahaani Masters’ contest in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. Photo: Special arrangement / The Hindu
The five winners of the Toonz- Disney ‘Kahaani Masters’ contest in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. Photo: Special arrangement / The Hindu

The organisers said the idea was to make the children believe in themselves and instil confidence in them.

Five young minds, all aged below 12 years and whose creativity took them past 14,000-plus others from across the country in ‘Kahaani Masters,’ a story-writing contest held by the Technopark-based Toonz Animation India and Disney India, are putting their brains together to make their stories come alive on screen.

Suhani Shrikande, 10, from Nagpur; Animesh Nigham, 7, from Bhopal; Atri Garg, 11, from New Delhi; Mayul Verma, 11, from Agra; and Aryan Sharma, 9, also from New Delhi, had won the contest, meant for children aged between six and 14 years, and are in Thiruvananthapuram from Thursday for a three-day workshop at the Toonz Studio. Here, under the mentorship of well-known animation film designer Prosenjit Ganguly, the five young story-tellers will design and colour the characters from their stories, enrich the story background, and enhance the story.

The organisers said the idea was to make the children believe in themselves and instil confidence in them. Each of them would be supported by an animator from Toonz. Once the three-day workshop was over, a three-month process by a Toonz creative team would begin to create five animated short films, strictly keeping in mind the designs and stories of the children. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow would be in the form of these short films being telecast on Disney channel during January 2015.

As for the stories, Aryan’s nine-year-old talent delves into friendship, sacrifice, and celebrating with the family, while 11-year-old Mayul brings to the storyboard a magical toy that makes a big difference in the world. Suhani conveys a message, in a funny manner, that arrogance leads to one’s fall. Animesh lets his imagination run riot while bringing stationary articles to life and letting them take matters into their hands, while Atri narrates the hilarious story of a boy and his mischievous pet.

Toonz CEO P. Jayakumar, in a statement here, said Toonz was ‘spellbound’ at the magnitude of creativity that came to light through the entries for the contest, which was organised in connection with the 15th anniversary of Toonz.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Dennis Marcus Mathew / Thiruvananthapuram – September 20th, 2014

Self-styled Godman Takes Chilli Powder ‘Abishekam’

Chilli powder-mixed water being poured on Alukku Samiyar
Chilli powder-mixed water being poured on Alukku Samiyar

Vellore :

A 86 year-old self-styled godman took  bath in water mixed with over 30 kilos of chilli powder, in a bid to ward off the hardships and suffering of others. The news spread like wildfire and attracted a huge crowd to where the godman was performing his special ablution in a narrow street of Vavusi Nagar in Sathuvachari.

Around 100 people in and around Sathuvachari, Vellore and Gudiyattam poured the water mixed with chilli powder over the godman, who calls himself as “Alukku (Dirt) Samiyar.”

At 10.15 am, the godman sat inside a 25 litre cooking vessel, while his devotees poured the chilli-powder-water over him, one after another, for half-an-hour. “Around 10 persons purchased the chilli powder. We mixed it in water and we poured it over him using a small bucket . He did not show any sign of discomfort. We recorded the entire happening,” said Pandian, a realtor, who arranged  the special pooja.

“I observe the torment and miseries of the persons who pour the chilli-powder-water over me. With the holiness vested in me, I will relieve them from all their sufferings,” the godman claimed. He said, a couple of years ago, he performed a similar pooja in Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh.

During a special pooja in Sathuvachari on Tuesday | S Dinesh
During a special pooja in Sathuvachari on Tuesday | S Dinesh

“It (chilli powder water) will not harm me,” said the godman, who is a native of Kerala and was brought up in an ashram in Vadakara (Kerala).

Before coming to Vellore four months ago, he was in Red Hills and Tiruvallur. “We want to set up an ashram in Sathuvachari hills during his stay here. He does not ask for anything from persons seeking his blessing, but accepts whatever they offer,” said Pandian.

However, some residents stated that  few persons were trying to make money in the name of faith. The police warned the organisers of the pooja that action would be initiated if something happened to the godman.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Shanmuga Sundaram / September 24th, 2014

Sarpam Thullal: A Rustic Dance Form Fading into Oblivion

The ancient art is still prevalent in temples dedicated to snake gods and sacred groves in the state | Express
The ancient art is still prevalent in temples dedicated to snake gods and sacred groves in the state | Express

Thiruvananthapuram  :

‘Sarpam Thullal’, a unique form of mystical ritual for propitiating snake Gods,is slowly losing its sheen owing to the lack of patronage from the public and authorities concerned apart from the paucity of artists to perform and preserve the centuries-old art.‘Sarpam Thullal’ is conducted during the traditional festivals like ‘Aayilya Maholsvam’, a ritual performed on ‘Ayilyam’ star of the local almanac every year in sacred groves and temples dedicated for snake gods. Though the ritual is still prevalent in temples like Sree Pambumkavu Sree Nagaraja Temple, Parappur Ngathankovil, Pambu Mekkattu, Mala, and Pathirakunnathu Mana at Cherppulasherry and other temples and scared groves in parts of the state, it don’t get enough patronage and trained artists to sustain.“Earlier, the artists used to draw around 30 types of ‘sarppakalams’ (a pictorial drawing depicting the images of gods on the floor) and a total of 240 different other ‘kalams’. Now it is has been shrunken to only handful of Kalams,” former Kerala Lalithakala Akademi secretary T A Sathyapalan, who penned a book titled ‘Kalamezhuthu – a ritual art practice of Kerala’, said.

“In 2008, I made an attempt to document the primitive art by organising 45-day-long camp for these traditional artists and they had drawn around 140 ‘kalams’ which have been documented as part of an attempt to hands down the knowledge on various designs of Kalams to next generation. “But of late, it has been found that the artists are not even drawing the documented ‘kalams’ as well,” he said. “In recent times, many of communities like Mannan, Velan, Kuruppan, who were practising the art form,  were forced to take up other jobs to sustain their lives,” Suresh Koothuparamba, vice-chairman of the Kerala Folklore Academy, said.

However, some artistes and communities are still striving to keep the tradition alive, he said.

In ‘sarpam thullal’, girls perform a ritual dance and crawl like snakes on a decorated floor unbinding their hair to the tunes of the songs and music instruments played generally by Pulluva clan members. The girls would be exhausted and faint down one after another on the decorated floor.

Serpent worships have a long tradition in the state and these rituals had been drawing huge crowd in the past since it is believed that the spirits inhabiting the ‘kavu’ would bless the devotees at the end of the ritual, said Karappan of Kunnamkulam, a Pulluva clan member who sings ‘Sarappam Pattu’.

“These rituals and rites performed in the sacred groves would be varied in some regions in accordance with the precedence of region and the patron deity worshipped at the sacred groves,” he added.

source:m / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Dhinesh Kallungal / September 23rd, 2014