Monthly Archives: March 2015

The call of the Himalayas he just can’t resist

Kannur :

Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said ‘you cannot step twice into the same river’. Likewise, every time one climbs a mountain peak it is a different world out there, feels K V Manish Kumar, a casual labourer from Kannapuram here, who had conquered 12 Himalayan peaks over the last nine years.

An urge to do something different had landed Manish at Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, 10 years ago. During his maiden attempt in July 2006, he climbed the Friendship Peak in Pir Panjal range, followed by other peaks Frey Peak, Draupadi ka Danda, Gangothri, Nanda Devi and finally Khaktet in Ladakh, in February. The temperature was -34 degrees then, he remembers.

“Mountains taught me many things. I could meet new different people and learn about different types of plants and animals,” says the 35-year-old, who also feels that it’s high time we created awareness against global warming.

Manish makes it a point to sensitize public about the dangers of global warming through his expeditions. He also collects plastic wastes on the way to the peaks, making his expeditions a cleanliness drive.

Though he came face to face with death many a times, it has not deterred his spirit to climb the peaks. “While climbing down I leave behind such harrowing experiences and make up my mind to begin the next expedition After all, an expedition is all about successfully coming back,” he says. Manish has not received any recognition, not even a job offer so far, as he is not a professionally qualified mountaineer. His expeditions were not sponsored and his expenses are met by doing odd jobs like wood cutting.

“Though the state government is said to be promoting sports, I didn’t get any recognition and I too do not wish for any,” says the mountaineer. He is all set to go on a solo expedition in July. Also, he is planning to do a short-term course from Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, to become a qualified rock climbing judge and route setter.

“There are many peaks that are tougher to conquer than Everest, but still it’s my dream to be on the top of the world one day,” says Manish who cherishes the dream of scaling the Mt Everest.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Thiruvananthapuram / by P. Sudhakaran, TNN / March 30th, 2015

Women on Board Take ‘Firm’ Control

Kochi :

Last week saw a mad rush by Indian-listed companies to appoint at least one woman director on their board before the deadline set by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) expires on March 31, 2015, and Kerala companies were no exception.


Some of the noted Kerala-based companies which appointed women directors in recent days include AVT Natural Products, Kitex Garments, Manappuram Finance, Dhanlaxmi Bank, GTN Textiles, Accel Transmatic, Nitta Gelatin and Inditrade Capital (formerly JRG Securities).

The capital markets regulator Sebi had earlier asked all listed companies in India to appoint at least one woman director on their board before October 1, 2014, which was later extended to March 31. Some of the other Kerala companies which used the period to appoint woman directors include Muthoot Finance (November 11, 2014), South Indian Bank (October 1, 2014) and Muthoot Capital (July 28, 2014).

Interestingly, public sector Fertilizers & Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) is the only major Kerala-based listed company that have no woman on its board. Though not made official, various reports have suggested that the companies which fail to adhere to the Sebi rule may face a penalty of Rs 25 crore. This would be the last straw for FACT, which is hoping for a financial dole from the Centre to revive its fortunes.

Pamela Anna Mathew, managing director of the Kochi-headquartered OEN India, is the most sought-after woman director for Kerala-based companies. She was appointed on board of Muthoot Finance and GTN Textiles (March 17).

Dhanlaxmi Bank appointed Susobhan Sinha, general manager, RBI, Bengaluru, while Nitta Gelattin complied with the Sebi rules when Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), one of the promoters, replaced its board nominee T P Thomaskutty with Dr M Beena, IAS. Inditrade Capital brought Debanshi Basu on board on March 26 while Kitex Garments appointed Sindhu Chandrasekhar as whole-time director on March 12. Manappuram Finance appointed Amla Samanta, who is MD of the Mumbai-based Synermed Biologicals. The Thrissur-based South Indian Bank appointed Ranjana S Salgaocar, a former director of Syndicate Bank.

The board with most number of women (two) among Kerala companies are Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services (Franciska Decuypere, nominee of BNP Paribas and Dr M Beena, representing KSIDC), Aluva-based Federal Bank (Shubhalakshmi Panse, an independent director, and Grace Elizabeth Koshie, a director) and Kochouseph Chittilappilly-promoted V-Guard Industries (Joshna Mithun, wife of MD Mithun K Chittilappilly, and Jayasree K, company secretary). AVT Natural Products appointed Shanthi Thomas on March 23. Pamela Anna Mathew, of OEN India, which was a listed company until 2007, said she wished the one-woman rule was introduced at least 15 years ago.

“Had it been, we would have seen many more corporates emerging to create wealth for the nation and for the people behind the initiative. The late introduction of the rule, which is an acceptance and acknowledgement of the capabilities and effectiveness of women in the corporate world, is certainly appreciated,” she told ‘Express’, in an earlier interaction.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Business> News / by Rajesh Abraham / March 30th, 2015

O V Vijayan’s Historic ‘Njattupura’ Dedicated to Nation

Cultural Affairs Minister K C Joseph dedicating the renovated ‘Njattupura’ in Thazrak village to the nation in Kodumbu panchayat in Palakkad on Sunday. District Collector P Marykutty Isaac is also seen
Cultural Affairs Minister K C Joseph dedicating the renovated ‘Njattupura’ in Thazrak village to the nation in Kodumbu panchayat in Palakkad on Sunday. District Collector P Marykutty Isaac is also seen

Palakkad :

The state government has decided to sanction another `50 lakh for the O V Vijayan cultural complex being set up in Thazrak village in Kodumbu panchayat in the district, said Cultural Affairs Minister K C Joseph.

He was speaking after dedicating the renovated ‘Njattupura’ to the nation at Thazrak village here on Sunday.

Joseph said that the classic work of O V Vijayan, Khazakinte Ithihasam, is deeply ingrained in the literature and culture of the state. The land which formed the backdrop of the novel, the lifestyle and customs of its inhabitants should be preserved for posterity.

O V Vijayan has immortalised Thazrak village and its native people through his novel.

The Minister said that the O V Vijayan Memorial Committee had received `1 crore in the last four years.

The renovated ‘Njattupura’ is now part of history. The real life counterparts of characters in ‘Khazakinte Ithihasam’, Mymoona and Kittu, were honoured on the occasion by the Minister.

The Minister handed over the keys of renovated ‘Njattupura’ to District Collector P Marykutty at the function.

Prizes were awarded to Subhash V R of University College, Thiruvananthapuram, Soumya P R of Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam and Neetha P M of NSS College, Ottappalam as part of the paper presentation contest organised by O V Vijayan Memorial Committee.

Committee president K Sasikumar presided over the meet. Kodumbu panchayat member K. Janaki spoke.

Memorial committee secretary Azeez Master welcomed the gathering and committee member P Mohana Kumar proposed a vote of thanks.

Legislative Assembly members K Achuthan and Shafi Parambil were among the present.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by  Express News Service / March 30th, 2015

New Brain Scanning Method for Early Detection of Autism

Kozhikode :

For years, scientists have been trying to find out the reasons behind autism and to formulate effective treatment methods.

In a breakthrough, for the first time, a team led by Rajesh Kanna of University of Alabama at Birmingham has used different types of brain scanning techniques to understand how the brain of people with autism is organised and connected.

“We studied the structure, function, chemical level, and connectivity of the brain of people with autism,” said Rajesh, who hails from Karivellur Panchayat in Kannur district.

In an e-mail interview    with ‘Express’ from the US, he said that the importance of the study using multimodal neuroimaging-based classification would help to diagnose autism at an early age, when the brain is at formative stage and the intervention will be more effective.

Neuroimaging research will help in improving and supporting the diagnosis of autism, and enhance the pace of diagnostic process, he said.    “The important aspect is its approach in using multiple brain imaging modalities. Such an approach emerges from the fact that behaviorally complex disorders like autism may entail complex neurobiology. Focal brain markers may not explain such disorders. And we may have our best bet in using multiple levels of measurements in order to identify biomarkers for this disorder,” he adds.

“The findings of this study provided a comprehensive picture of the complex brain pathology in autism spectrum disorders. In advancing the field, this study emphasises that the brain abnormalities in autism may not be confined to a single area, rather, it will be distributed across different areas at multiple levels and layers,” he said.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by C P Sajit / March 30th, 2015

Hundreds of Christians observe Palm Sunday

Believers taking out procession on Palm Sunday in Kannur. Manorama/Vidhuraj MT
Believers taking out procession on Palm Sunday in Kannur. Manorama/Vidhuraj MT


Waving palm leaves, hundreds of Christians across the state took out processions to commemorate the Palm Sunday, the day Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem as a King.

The children were chanting verses from the Bible and sang hymns.

Churches in the state had made elaborate arrangements for Palm Sunday celebrations. Special church services were held in the local churches to mark the day, five days before the crucifixion of Christ.

Starting today, the Christians will observe the next seven days with lots of religious fervour and will celebrate Easter on April 5.

Christians form nearly a quarter of Kerala’s 33 million people and churches across the state was overflowing with the laity turning up in good numbers to take part in the Palm Sunday mass.

“The mass got delayed because our church was overflowing with people and it took a long time to distribute the leaves. These leaves are taken home and displayed in the best part of the home and on the coming Christmas eve it’s returned to the church to be part of the bonfire,” said Mini Antony, a housewife in Kottayam.

source: / OnManorama / Home> News> Kerala / by Manorama Correspondent / Sunday – March 29th, 2015

Exploring Theyyam: ‘God’s Own Dance’

Kannur :

It was in 2012 that Portugal-based Russian painter Madina Ziganshina got to witness a couple of theyyam performances in Kannur. Its colour and religious fervor literally mesmerized her that the artist decided to do a series of paintings capturing the spirit of theyyam, which she likes to describe ‘God’s Own Dance’.

A series of 15 paintings are on display at Brushman’s Art Gallery here till March 10. These watercolours are, in a sense, an outsider’s curious impressions of a ritualistic performance, its vibrance and unearthly ambience.

“When I saw the performance where the theyyam jumped into the fire, I was astonished and even wanted to jump and perform along with him,” said the painter, who was enthralled by the transformation of man into god.

There were lots of researches involved before embarking on the mission, including watching theyyam performances over the last couple of months in various kavus here, said Ziganshina. “The light, the dynamism of movement and the mesmerizing environment in the night air literally ignited my creative spirit which was later translated into these compositions.”

“Though I was influenced by legends and Russian folklore as a child, which later influenced my works too, those experiences were all through books while here, I got the chance to come face to face with the God’s own dance,” said the artist, who is here on an invitation by Travel Kannur, a firm promoting cultural tourism.

Though Ziganshina’s works is a merger of different styles including impressionism, abstraction and hyper realism, here she prefers to stick to realistic figuration to express a ‘magically realistic’ performance.

But rather than the momentum and vigour of theyyam, it is a stillness that is reflected in most of these works. Some of them appear like the frames seen through the viewfinder of a camera.

Still, there is a beauty of craftsmanship in these compositions that are narratives of a colorful ritual with a soul of fire.

Ziganshina, who has exhibited her works in many countries including the US, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Sweden, and Dubai, plans to take ‘God’s Own Dance’ to other towns in Kerala in the coming days.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kozhikode / by P. Sudhakaran, TNN / March 07th, 2015

Tracing an eventful journey

might of letters:Poet Sugathakumari releasing O.N.V. Kurup’s ‘Pokkuveyil Mannilezhuthiyathu’ by handing over a copy to poet V. Madhusoodanan Nair in the city on Thursday. —Photo: S. Gopakumar
might of letters:Poet Sugathakumari releasing O.N.V. Kurup’s ‘Pokkuveyil Mannilezhuthiyathu’ by handing over a copy to poet V. Madhusoodanan Nair in the city on Thursday. —Photo: S. Gopakumar

Memoir of O.N.V. Kurup released

Pokkuveyil Mannilezhuthiyathu , a memoir by poet and Jnanpith laureate O.N.V. Kurup, was released by poet-activist Sugathakumari at a function held here on Thursday.

The memoir, which was released simultaneously in Kollam, Kochi, and Kozhikode, traces the author’s childhood days, his stint as a teacher, his political journey, association with socio-cultural movements, and the world of letters, theatre, and movies.

The first copy of the book was received by poet V. Madhusoodanan Nair in the presence of T.N. Seema, MP, Communist Party of India (Marxist) district secretary Kadakampally Surendran, and writer Ezhacherry Ramachandran .

Ms. Sugathakumari said that the poet, in his inimitable style, presents a factual account of his journey as a human being, without criticising or praising anything. His language had all along been “love,” she said. The poet might have his ideological moorings but his indebtedness was to the “mother earth.”

V.K. Joseph of Chintha Publications, which brought out the memoir, highlighted an incident in the book where the poet saw a group of youngsters celebrating Gandhiji’s assassination by distributing sweets at Thampanoor. “ONV thought they were distributing sweets without knowing about the assassination. He was taken aback when they said they were celebrating it,” Mr. Joseph said.

The account was relevant today when there was a clamour for a temple in the name of Gandhiji’s assassin, he said.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Staff Reporter / Thiruvananthapuram – March 27th, 2015

Advocate of law, for 140 years

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Speaker N. Sakthan, and CPI(M) State unit secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at the 140th anniversary celebrations of the Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram, on Wednesday.— Photo: S. Mahinsha
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Speaker N. Sakthan, and CPI(M) State unit secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at the 140th anniversary celebrations of the Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram, on Wednesday.— Photo: S. Mahinsha

At the first alumni meet of law college, promises pour in

There was pride in their eyes and awe in their voices as the ‘who-is-who’ in Kerala politics spoke about the institution that has mentored thousands in the legal profession and helped hundreds to build careers in politics and social activism.

The chief among them rued the fact that he had not studied there, but was all praise for its alumni. The reference is to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who studied at the Government Law College, Ernakulam, and not where he stood on Wednesday evening, at the Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram, which was celebrating its 140th anniversary and the first alumni meet on record.

Mr. Chandy promised the gathering that his government would do everything possible to lift the college to national status. A firmer offer came from an eminent alumnus of the institution, N.R. Madhava Menon, who promised to hand over to the college his collection of books and also do his bit to raise a corpus fund to develop the institution. He would also be available to guide the research programmes at the college, Prof. Menon said.

Present to celebrate the occasion were Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, Transport and Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Information Minister K.C. Joseph, CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, and former Union Minister of State Kodikkunnil Suresh and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ajith Joy. Almost everyone agreed on the need to raise the college to the status of a centre of excellence and, perhaps, a university in the none-too-distant future.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Special Correspondent / Thiruvananthapuram – March 26th, 2015

A treasure trove of books to Kichangani from Kochi

Kochi :

In less than a month Panchatantra, Aesop’s fables, Gulliver’s Travels and Oliver Twist will reach the remote village of Kichangani in Tanzania, thanks to Somy Solomon and her social media friends. Hartal or no hartal, her team of 50 is busy categorizing the 7,000 odd books -collected from all over India and abroad- at SH School of Communication on Saturday. Around 50 volunteers from the college and Cusat turned up to categorize the books before shipping. The sorting works will be completed by Sunday and the books will be shipped before March 22.

Kichangani Library, which received social media attention since October 2014, is not just a library, but a learning centre for the villagers. “Such a learning centre came to my mind after I reached Tanzania in 2012 after my marriage. Education is a luxury that most people cannot afford. And for the same reason, they are exploited and most kids go for domestic work at a young age. I feel a learning centre would be the first step to help them,” said Solomon, mother of two-year old Pachu. The envisaged centre will also have a reading room, a video room and computer training centre.

While the space for the centre was provided by the Kichangani village chairman, books were donated by people across India, Singapore, Sharjah, Dubai, Germany and the US. The cost of packing and shipment was sponsored by an IT firm based in Kochi and the transportation is being done with the help of a non-resident Malayali based in Tanzania.

The contributions were books and CDs in English and Swahili, including language and literature, general knowledge, biographies and diaries, dictionaries, atlases, geography and history texts, art books etc.

The learning centre, which Solomon hopes to extend to other villages, will have a drinking water facility. “Water scarcity is one of the major problems here. We hope to set up a drinking water facility at the centre for which the people have to pay as per the law of the land. The money collected will be used to run the library,” she said.

Solomon has begun a non-profit organization named ‘Ubuntu Reads’ to get government recognition for the library project. Twelve kids from the village will be given training to run the library. “This is to ensure that even if I leave the place, the movement will still go on,” she said.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kochi / TNN / March 15th, 2015

A thousand kilos of curry

BLESSED FOOD The origin of the feast is associated with a legend and preparations involve the entire village folk. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
BLESSED FOOD The origin of the feast is associated with a legend and preparations involve the entire village folk. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

The annual feast of St. Joseph in Kanamally is a century-old tradition that sees the entire village come together to prepare a meal for over one lakh people

Year after year, for the last 110 years, all roads, from far and wide, wind their way to Kannamaly on March 19. On this day the scenic village, hemmed in by backwaters on the east and the sea on the west, finds itself in the throes of a celebration that is both spiritual and communal. The annual feast of St. Joseph held at the village church, St. Antony’s, feeds on the day almost a lakh and fifty thousand, with a meal, a sadya, prepared by the village community and volunteers who come from different parts of the State to participate in the activity.

The origins of this communal cooking and feasting began in 1905 when the area was supposedly hit by a tsunami. It led to water logging and a subsequent cholera epidemic. Parish priest Fr. Joseph Kadanattuthara says that stories of the time are about rotting dead bodies lying around and of the hungry and the sick in each household.

It was then that a group of doomed men came to the church to prepare for impending death. The priest is said to have placated them informing that the next day was the death anniversary of Joseph, father of Jesus, and they should prepare for death for the next day. He cooked a sparse meal and shared it with the group, asking them to offer some to the dying in their homes. This food is supposed to have cured them all. From that day, March 19, 1905 the feast of St Joseph began.

In the early days the villagers cooked food at home and brought it to the church for sharing. This grew into communal cooking over the years with people joining from different places as volunteers. Many partake in chopping of vegetables, grinding spices, cleaning the premises, arranging firewood, making pickles and winding up after the feast. “There are people who grow vegetables to be used for this feast; a family brings 2,000 kilos of yam every year,” says Fr. Joseph adding that they plant yam only for this occasion. “Similarly people bring coconuts, rice and other provisions.”

The meal that consists of ulli curry, two vegetables, sambar and rice is prepared on firewood in very big vessels. Members of the 1,500 families that form the congregation of the church help in the preparations that begin a month before.

Provisions like sacks of rice, sugar for payasam, mounds of vegetables, oil, ghee and such begin to be stocked in the school in the church yard. Closer to the date women from nearby houses begin arriving to chop and prepare.

A day before, the fires are lit and cooking is done all night long. Maria Xavier, 50, a former teacher who now runs a ladies store says that the preparations for this large scale cooking are planned and undertaken by the ‘kalavara’ committee.

It begins on March 12 with women peeling up to 1,000 kilos of onions and storing them to be used in the curries. Nearly 500 kilos of bitter gourd and 800 kilos of mangoes are peeled, cut and stored.

Two days later the only work in the ad-hoc kitchen is grating and grinding coconut- thenga peera- and roasting it with chopped shallots, vazhathu. The next day the onion curry, and mango pickle are made and stored. On March 16 bitter gourd is cut and prepared. The following day is a No Work Day. On the night before the feast the fires are lit and rice is prepared in almost 20 vessels. The main mixed curry too is prepared. Cooking is halted at eight in the morning.

“As soon as the morning mass is over, at eight, the meals are served,” says Jaison Ezhuthaikkal, event coordinator, who has put up a 1, 20,000 sq ft canopy to accommodate the diners.

“In the olden days people sat on the floor and ate on banana leaves but now with increasing numbers arriving arrangements have changed. The ela sadya has given way in the last two years to a buffet,” says Maria. A relatively new addition is bottled payasam, sold at Rs. 50. This is done by a group from Tripunithura.

Antony Peko, 78, is a known name in the area. He heads a team of 10 assistants to cook, having mastered the art from his father. Sisters Barbara and Baby Pullamaserry, in their 70s, too have been associated with the food preparations for the last many decades.

Thettamma is another respected cook known for her skill at cooking huge quantities. Tom Edward whose family has been associated with the activity since its inception and is a patron of the church, remembers a year when it poured heavily, but the area around the church, where the feast was being cooked, served and savoured remained dry. Another hearsay story is of rice remaining fresh in a pit where it was buried as leftover.

“It is generally believed that the meal is blessed and that is the reason that draws people in hordes from distant places. It’s faith that brings them,” says Maria whose house becomes an open house. Last year she had 45 people staying at her house, not all known to her. Her neighbours too open their homes to strangers. “Balconies and verandas of every house in this area hosts visitors who come in groups. This is tradition,” she affirms.

In its century-old history food has never run short. It is cooked manually right through the day and night. By early evening if the curries begin to get over, fresh parippu curry is prepared. This goes on late into midnight, “by which time everyone is tired.”

“But we wake up fresh next morning satisfied that so many people ate a blessed meal,” says Maria.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Priyadershini S / Kochi – March 18th, 2015