Monthly Archives: February 2015

The idly-dosa man of Bengaluru

Success story: Musthafa believes it was team work all the way that helped.
Success story: Musthafa believes it was team work all the way that helped.

Musthafa P.C, a school dropout who went on to study at IIMB, quit his software job to start an enterprise that sold idly-dosa batter. His is a success story that has trickled down to his 600 –odd rural employees too

A young techie who could just about make himself daal, rice and papad in his bachelor days now runs a company with a 70 crore turnover that provides almost five lakh idlis a day to hungry Bengalureans. Most young working people in the city in a rush, simply fish out the now-famous “iD Fresh” readymade idly/dosa batter from their refrigerator for their quick breakfast fix.

While Bengaluru is where all this began for techie-turned-entrepreneur Musthafa P.C, his idlis and dosas find a place on the breakfast tables in households in Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, and even Dubai! And it’s not limited to idlys and dosas anymore. Their oeuvre now includes parotas, chapattis and chutneys too, all made without chemicals and preservatives, Musthafa is quick to add.

It started in a small corner of the city’s Thippasandra locality where Musthafa’s cousins ran a grocery store. “This was eight years ago, and a local supplier would sell idly/dosa batter in an unbranded plain plastic bag tied up with a rubberband, on weekends. There was a great demand, but they couldn’t keep up the quality. That’s when I felt there was a gap in the market,” says the 42-year-old Musthafa, CEO of iD Fresh Food, one of the new-age food startups in the city.

And then, one can conclude, the Malayali business instinct kicked in!

The enterprising cousins set up a 50 square foot kitchen — “our so-called factory” laughs Musthafa, and started a trial in 10 stores in and around Indiranagar. “In a year’s time we were selling 100 packets of batter a day.” During that time, Musthafa had quit his plum job to study his MBA at the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B). “I did a proper survey and found that Bangalore then had a production requirement of 5,000 kg of batter a day.” The sales and the survey gave them the confidence to set up a 600 square foot kitchen in Kaggadasapura, where Musthafa pumped in six lakh from his savings. They were still using regular household grinders to make the batter. “I had a high-profile job in Dubai. I had worked with Motorola, Citibank, had lived in the U.K., and then later even worked with Intel. But I wanted to come back to India to pursue higher studies, spend time with my parents, and give something back to society,” says Musthafa of making the proverbial switch.

It is with this intent that Musthafa is very particular that they identify “smart guys from rural areas who are unemployed” and provide them opportunities in their company. Today they employ 650 such people from the eight regions they work in across India. “I come from a life of poverty in Wayanad (Kerala) where my dad was a coolie, and breakfast was a luxury. I was a school dropout after I failed my sixth standard. The teacher persuaded me to repeat the class and continue my studies.”

No one supported his decision to quit the IT industry; it was a job that had brought stability to the family, helped him build a home and marry off siblings. Even his wife’s family was upset that he was becoming a “rice merchant”.

But by 2008, his company had expanded into a proper factory in Hoskote, with the help of the Karnataka State Industrial Development Council (KSIDC). Custom-made grinders were brought in from America. “With Indian grinders, cleaning is the most difficult task. Moreover the small grinders would take an hour to grind a kilo of dal. So we had to import these large, modified grinders that self-sterilise at the touch of a button.” Musthafa swears the actual batter making process is “the same that your mom uses at home, starting with the soaking”. “We are only professional assistants to the homemaker. Our products will always be ready to cook, not ready to eat. So they don’t reach the dining table; they first go into the kitchen. If the idli is good, the homemaker gets the credit; if the idli turns out bad, iD takes the credit!” All the products, he says, are first tested on his children aged 12, nine, and five.

Business is of course growing phenomenally with venture capital (VC) firms wanting to invest in them; 60 companies evinced interest in pumping money; mostly American. Finally Helion Venture invested Rs. 35 crore in their expansion plans. “We are targeting expansion to 10 Middle-Eastern cities over the next five years. As well as expanding into north India, especially Delhi.” While initially a friend named it iD for “idly-dosa”, Musthafa says it now stands for their “identity”.

Every employee in the company is an entrepeneur like he is, believes Musthafa.
Every employee in the company is an entrepeneur like he is, believes Musthafa.

Musthafa makes it a point to stress on the fact that it has been team work all along the way; first his cousins came on board, then his engineering classmates and then family friends, to start the operation in various cities. “We don’t work on an employment basis; there is no fixed pay. Every employee is a micro-entrepreneur. For example, each area sales team is given a vehicle and “they have to maintain their own profit and loss account,” explains Musthafa. Whitefield, Jayanagar, Indiranagar and Koramangala is where they do their best business, he says. They have a SAP-based backend platform so that they have a zero inventory model – 90 per cent of the products are sold on the same day; a mobile app keeps track of sales patterns in each store.

Musthafa’s personal favourite from his company is the wheat parota. “We eat our idli and dosa once a week at home, then three days of wheat parota,” he breaks into a boyish grin.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Bhumika .K / February 26th, 2015

The Palakkad lad who will take on Team India for UAE

Krishna Chandran at the hotel lobby in Perth. Manorama.
Krishna Chandran at the hotel lobby in Perth. Manorama.


In 2011, when India hosted the ICC World Cup, Krishna Chandran was in Dubai and like any ardent Indian fan he was glued to TV rooting for his favourite team. Not even in his wildest dreams did he think of watching a World Cup match in the stadium, let alone play in one. By quirk of fate, Krishna Chandran, who hails from Kollengode in Palakkad, will pad up against the country of his birth when UAE plays India in Perth on Saturday.

Krishna Chandran, who has already become a part of cricket history by becoming the first cricketer from Kerala to score runs and take wickets in the World Cup, spoke to Manorama. Excerpts:

You have become a big star back home in Kerala and your life is full of ironies. How do you react to the this?

Yes my life is full of ironies. I was born into a family of farmers. My parents sent me to St.John’s international school in Chennai for my studies. Initially, I was thrilled but when my father put me in hostel and left, I began to feel terribly homesick. I even wrote a letter to my parents threatening suicide if they don’t bring me back home. I started playing cricket to overcome my homesickness. I started off as a bowler but within one year I progressed to become a top-order batsman. I continued to play cricket even after I finished my school studies. I got selected for the district under-19 team and from there I made my way up to the state under-19, under-22 and under-25 teams.

I had played three one-day and two T20 matches for the senior Kerala team. Though I was among probables for the Ranji Trophy squad I wasn’t selected. At that time getting a permanent job was a priority. I tried to get employment in Railways and SBT but nothing worked out. I had a friend in Dubai who worked in a shipping company and in desperation I wrote to him and he arranged a job for me in that company. In Dubai, I continued to play club cricket and in 2012-13 playing for Umma al-Quwain Emirates I was chosen as the best cricketer for that season. But I had to wait for four years to get permanent residency which I got last year. It enabled me to play for UAE. But playing in the World Cup was still beyond my dreams.

What were the thoughts in you mind when you first played against Zimbabwe?

I was tense, but I became confident after I scored my first run. I was middling the ball well and was thinking about scoring a fifty when I was dismissed for 34. I was able to take a wicket with the ball. I think I didn’t do that badly in my first match and it gives me great satisfaction.

How about playing in the pitches in Australia? 

Krishna Chandran. Facebook page
Krishna Chandran. Facebook page

Look, I was part of the Kerala Cricket Association’s development squad of 25 players and had spent 45 days training in Brisbane. At the same time India A was touring Australia and and were playing against Australia A in Brisbane. I was among the five players who were selected to be the net bowlers for the Australian A team.

Everyday a short man would pick us up from out hotel and he would drive us to the stadium. We just called him the driver. One day we found this man padding up to play in the nets. Next year he went on to play for Australia. I was stunned when I saw him live on TV. He was David Warner.

Who do you expect to win in tomorrow’s match between India and UAE?

We don’t have big dreams. But we want to beat at least one big team in the tournament. I want India to retain the World Cup and will pray for that. But I want UAE to win tomorrow. I want to score a fifty and take three wickets and it is my dream.

source: / On Manorama / Home> News> Kerala / by Anish Nair / Friday – February 27th, 2015

Now, she-gyms to shape up entrepreneurial dreams

Kozhikode :

Women entrepreneurs under Kudumbashree in the city are all set to extend their successful entrepreneurship forays to a new level by venturing into the fast-growing fitness industry.

A group of five Kudumbashree members in Kozhikode corporation have decided to try their luck in the fitness segment by starting a health club at Eranhipalam exclusively for women, which they planning to develop as a one-stop fitness solution for women of all ages, in the long run.

Community development society (CDS) of the Kudumbashree, attached to the corporation, has decided to explore the potential in the fitness market after observing the interest of women in the ‘feel and look good’ factor.

The centre was set up with an estimated cost of Rs 9 lakh. Of the 9 lakh, Rs 3 lakh is the subsidy of the corporation provided to the beneficiaries.

The centre, which commenced its operation here on Tuesday, has a ladies gym and day care centre. The day care centre will function from 8.30am to 6pm while the gym will be operational from 7am to 7pm. Also, classes in cooking and tailoring will be offered. M Divya, a resident of Karaparamba, said that nowadays women are very keen in maintaining their fitness. “The day care centre attached to the gym will be a blessing for many women especially those who are worried about becoming overweight after pregnancy,” she said.

S Salina, one among the five member group of the Meta Lady Health Club, said that the centre has already started receiving registrations for the day care and gym.

“The gym has a trainer -cum-dietician and steam bath facility.Children above the age of six months will be enrolled at the day care centre,” she said. “We have started with a small venture in the initial phase which will be expanded to include a ladies’ beauty parlour and spa in the long run on the basis of acceptance from the public,” she said.

Meanwhile, Shija Vinod, chairperson of south CDS said that Kudumbashree will set up similar ventures in other parts of the corporation area on the basis of public response. “We are planning to set up similar establishments in other location and identification of suitable locations has already commenced,” she said.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kozhikode / TNN / February 04th, 2015

Kerala Agricultural Varsity Develops Seedless Cucumber


Thrissur :

Paving the way for a fillip in ‘polyhouse’ cucumber cultivation, the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) has developed a seedless hybrid cucumber variety, ideal for polyhouse cultivation.

This is the first such hybrid developed by a public sector research team in South India, according to reports on Friday.

At present, multinationals have monopolised in ‘parthenocarpic’ variety of cucumber hybrids used in poly house farming which have the ability of producing fruits without pollination.

Farmers have to depend now on corporate sector for such variety of hybrids, and they have to pay in the range of Rs 5 to 7 per seed. The development of parthenocarpic hybrid by KAU offers availability of indigenously developed hybrid seeds to Kerala farmers.

Field tests in university farms have proved that a 10-cent polyhouse can yield five tons of fruits in three months. Dark green fruits, weighing 220 gm with a length of 24 cm and 15 cm width, can be stored up to one week at room temperature without any loss in quality.

The Southern Zone Research Extension Advisory Council of KAU, held at College of Agriculture, Vellayani, recommended this hybrid for multi-locational testing across selected polyhouses in all districts, said Dr Pradeepkumar T, associate professor, Department of Olericulture, College of Horticulture, Vellanikkara, who led the research team.

The team, according to reports, developed the hybrid variety by inculcating parthenocarpic trait into plant types with only female flowers through complex breeding programme.

The team had also developed earlier seedless hybrids of watermelon successfully. It has now followed with the technique of F1 hybrid seed production in parthenocarpic cucumber.

The state government has accorded high priority to polyhouse cultivation in the state by providing subsidy for polyhouse construction in 1000-odd panchayats.

Polyhouse cultivation requires specific cultivars in each crop, and farmers now depend on the seed produced from Korea, Thailand, imported and marketed by multinational companies.

KAU vice-chancellor Dr P Rajendran said cucumber is an ideal vegetable variety for polyhouse cultivation as the fruit is harvested in immature stage. The vertical height of the polyhouse structure can also be exploited for producing more number of fruiting nodes.

F1 hybrids have a very important role in boosting vegetable production in the state. Development of parthenocarpic cucumber is a great beginning in this direction. Time bound action for making available this technology to farming community is the next step, he said.

Normal cucumber types produce both male and female flowers and require pollination for fruit development, said Dr T R Gopalkrishnan, KAU director of Research. Development of fruit without pollination is a tricky trait in cucumber and naturally seedless fruits in this hybrid make the commercial production of seeds a cumbersome task, he added.

Seeds of the new hybrid cucumber are expected to reach the farming community within a year.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / February 28th, 2015

A spirited girl who fought the odds

Mary Shahina receives a modified scooter from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Friday.— Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
Mary Shahina receives a modified scooter from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Friday.— Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

Fate always tried its best to shatter her spirit; but failed every time.

Restricted to the bed with a body paralysed from the waist down since birth, Mary Shahina hailing from Maradu made it a habit to fight the odds and kept her spirits up writing poems.

That determination shone through in the smile the 25-year-old had on her face when she received a modified gearless scooter from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the district revenue adalat held in the city on Friday.

The vehicle is nothing but a godsend to her. Having passed her SSLC examinations 10 years ago and despite being good at academics, Shahina had to stop studying due to restricted movement. But never one to say never, the youngster cleared the Plus Two studying from home a couple of years ago.

The scooter will now help her pursue B.Com at a private college at Kumbalam. “I want to secure a bank job after completing my graduation,” she said looking at her prized possession.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by M.P. Praveen / Kochi – February 28th, 2015

MAKING A DIFFERENCE – The Monk Who Left Journalism

Thotta Tharani as Swami Chinmayananda. Photo: Special Arrangement
Thotta Tharani as Swami Chinmayananda. Photo: Special Arrangement

The movie, ‘On a Quest’ made on the life and vision of Swami Chinmayananda is worth watching. It is not a propaganda film but a story about transformation, seeking truth and interpreting life.

Who says commercial films starring superstars like Rajnikanth or Shahrukh Khan alone can have punch lines?

Sample this: “India is free, but are Indians free?”; “God is like the petrol in a car. Without the petrol, the car cannot run. But it is the driver who determines where the car goes.”; “Without the touch of life (read God), a sinner cannot sin neither can a monk meditate”.

These are powerful words not penned by any scriptwriter but uttered by men of high knowledge and wisdom that appeal equally to the atheist and the divine. Many more such meaningful dialogues generated applauds, evoked emotions and accentuated the wow factor of ‘On a Quest’ — a period film on Swami Chinmayananda’s journey from a freedom fighter and a non-believer to a teacher of Vedanta.

The two hour biopic in English was screened for the second time on popular demand in Madurai and the people who filled up the Mookambika theatre on Sunday morning got their money’s worth.

Made by the Chinmaya Mission to mark the birth centenary celebrations of Swami Chinmayananda, this is the first ever documentation of the fiery young revolutionary’s transformation into a missionary. It is a beautifully woven and enacted story which unlike the stories about most other gurus, does not push Swami Chinmayananda’s lectures, achievements or books to the forefront.

Rather, director R.S.Prasanna of “Kalyana Samayal Saadham” fame convincingly and touchingly tells the story of a man who never made claims of being a god or a godman and offered miracles. He simply interpreted the Bhagavad Gita for the masses. No matter, if there weren’t enough people to listen to him or even if the most educated came to him to understand the meaning of life. The multi-linguist Swami simply shared his knowledge without a fee and alluring promises.

THE MAN BEHIND: Director Prasanna with Sandeep Hebber in the role of young Swami Chinmayananda. Photo: Special Arrangement
THE MAN BEHIND: Director Prasanna with Sandeep Hebber in the role of young Swami Chinmayananda. Photo: Special Arrangement

Obviously Swami Chinmayananda is not his real name. He was born Balakrishna Menon in 1916 in Ernakulam. As a student of Lucknow University, he briefly joined the nationalist movement and was jailed by the British in 1941. When he is tortured and left to die by the British, he is nursed back to life from the throes of death by a friend’s family. But when the same friend dies unexpectedly in the prime of his youth, it sets Balan thinking about life, its meaning and uncertainties. He joins The National Herald as a reporter and in a short time establishes a fan following with his articles. The subjects he chooses and his style of writing sets the paper’s circulation to a new high.

But deep within Balan is unable to fathom many things that touch his life. If a cobbler’s life humbles him, he wonders why the rich argue with a poor rickshaw puller and pay him only 30 paise for a ride with no regard for his labour and with much ease offer a sadhu five rupees to seek his blessings.

He plans to expose what he calls the racket of religion and the myth of sadhus and goes off to Rishikesh to meet Swami Sivananda. He stays on for six months to see things firsthand at the ashram. While the rationalist in him refuses to believe in the existence of God, the journalist in him questions meaningless rituals and the seeker in him sets about experiencing everything.

Eventually he gives up his name and profession and gets his orange robe and the name of Chinmayananda. Then he goes further North and learns the Shastras for 10 years from the well know sage, Swami Tapovan. It is this ardent quest for the truth that sees Swami Chinmayananda reaching out to the world in a way it understands best. It is a spectacular transformation from an unconventional seeker to a revered master, who inspired the establishment of missions all over the world and embraced an ever-expanding network of devotees and students.

The film has created a lot of buzz with 75 plus screenings across the country. Except art director Thota Tharrani who plays the older Chinmayananda, all others on the screen are amateurs. Together with technicians from KSS, the film has succeeded in matching international quality because all the people who have been associated with the film in any which way have done it with the purity of their heart.

Madurai is the only city in Tamil Nadu to have screened the film twice and is planning a third one soon. “We have received good response from the people,” says Swami Sivayogananda, Acharya of Madurai Centre, “but want more children and youths to watch it for the inspirational and invaluable lessons that can be drawn from Guruji’s life”.

If you feel inclined to watch, don’t miss it the next time. It could make a difference to your lives. Or at least watch it for the effort that has gone into it.

(Making a difference is a fortnightly column about ordinary people and events that leave an extraordinary impact on us. E-mail to tell her about someone you know who is making a difference)

To know more about the film, click here

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Soman Basu / Madurai – February 25th, 2015

Master of Black and White Camera Stops Rolling at 86

A Vincent (1928-2015)
A Vincent (1928-2015)

After making his debut as a cinematographer in 1953, Vincent shot into prominence in the very next year with the acclaimed Malayalam film, Neela Kuyil that won awards at the national level. Vincent then went on to man the camera for over 250 films and directed about 50, in languages including Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi over the years.

Born in Kerala in 1928, Vincent landed in Chennai, then Madras, the capital of the presidency, to begin his career in films as an assistant cameraman. Here in Chennai, he assisted the legendary cinematographer, Marcus Bartley, who introduced what is called Hollywood style camera work in regional language film industry.

His noted works as cameraman include Amar Deep (Hindi, 1958), Uthama Puthiran (Tamil, 1958), Nenjil Oru Aalayam (Tamil, 1961), Sumaithaangi (Tamil, 1962), Kadhalikka Neramillai (Tamil, 1964), Enga Veettu Pillai (Tamil, 1965), Vasantha Maligai (Tamil,1973) among others.

His directorial debut was in Malayalam with Bhargavi Nilayam in 1964. The first film in Malayalam to feature a ghost, this was a runaway hit, establishing Vincent as a director. He went on to make several popular and critically-acclaimed films, often choosing scripts based on works by renowned writers.

Family members said Vincent’s funeral mass will be held on Thursday at St Joseph Church in Nungambakkam, and the burial will be at the Quibble Island Cemetery.

Jaya offers condolences

Chennai: AIADMK general secretary J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday condoled Vincent’s demise. “His demise is  a huge loss to the film industry. I convey my deepest condolences to his family members and pray that his soul rest in peace,” she said. He had directed Tirumaangalyam, in which she had acted .

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Chennai / by Express News Service / February 26th, 2015

Ayurveda sports clinic at district hospital in Kottayam

Kottayam :

In a unique project launched with financial aid from district panchayath, a sports Ayurveda clinic will be launched at the district hospital here. The programme will be officially inaugurated on Thursday at 2.30pm by sports Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan.

The office of the deputy director of education will be providing a list of students who are eligible to avail the facility from the clinic. The list would include students who have already participated in athletic meets and tournaments as well as trainees. “The list will be screened and finalised,” said Rathi B Unnithan, Ayurveda DMO. The clinic will deal with sports injuries and general health improvement of the students, she added.

According to Dr Sreejith SP, coordinator of the project, the clinic will help students manage their injuries and also help enhance performance.

The Panchayath is providing Rs 5 lakhs for the project in its launching year. “This is a positive step towards promoting sports in the district,” said Anita Shaji, welfare committee chairman of the Panchayath and principal of CKMHSS Koruthodu. “I know many talented students who gave up sports due to continuous injuries. Now, this clinic will help such sportspersons manage their injuries better,” she said.

Initially, the clinic will open special OP clinics on Tuesdays and Saturdays. A possibility of starting an outdoor unit to assist sportspersons in athletic meets and tournaments in the district is also under consideration.

source: / The Times of  India / Home> City> Kochi / TNN / February 19th, 2015

Keralites bag top ranks

Students of Natyaveda College of Performing Arts, Thiruvananthapuram, have secured the first three ranks in BA (Honours) Bharatanatyam and the first rank in the Hindustani Vocal (Diploma) examinations conducted by the Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya of Chhattisgarh.

According to a statement from the Natyaveda College of Performing Arts issued here on Sunday, Parvathy Kurup secured the first rank in Bharatanatyam. P. Saritha and Deepthi Unnikrishnan won the second and third ranks respectively. Sreekanth Hariharan won the first rank in Hindustani Vocal (diploma). – Special Correspondent

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Special Correspondent / Thursday – Februry 23rd, 2015

His actions speak louder than words

Kochi :

K Bibish, a Class X student of Sree Ramavarma (SRV) Government High School, Pallimukku, Kochi, has made the city proud. The unassuming boy has won the bronze medal at this year’s National Games.

“Many of our students are into sports from football to fencing. We knew Bibish was interested in sports but had no idea that he had so much potential,” said T G Vilasini, headmistress of SRV High School.

Bibish, who hails from Kanyakumari has been living in the city and training at the Regional Sports Centre, Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium, Kadavanthra for the past three years. “We have eight students all of whom are into fencing. From the day he was selected we have done whatever we can to make sure that the boy achieves his dreams,” said Padman P K, sports teacher at SRV.

“Bibish and I stay together at the sports centre and we have a strict regimen of training and studies. He has always utilized every moment of his spare time either training or practicing. Fencing truly is his first love,” said his friend Nithin Surdhi J D. “He’s a reserved person and rarely speaks. But his actions speak louder than his words, especially when he is fencing.”

The school supported Bibish by utilizing their PTA funds to ensure that he had the best fencing uniform and gear for the Games. Though he missed his classes owing to the Games, his teachers assured that they would help him after school hours to ensure that he does well in his board exams.

“We are extremely proud of him and he deserves to be felicitated. We are awaiting his arrival to do the same.” said Vilasini.

The school has put up a flex of the boy’s achievement outside its main gate.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kochi / TNN / February 12th, 2015