Monthly Archives: June 2015

Mridangam maestro Guruvayur Dorai feted


It was a journey down memory lane for Mridangam exponent Guruvayur Dorai on Sunday when his disciples and fans converged at Kalpathy near here to celebrate his 80th birth anniversary. It also marked the opening of the Guruvayur Dorai Music Centre.

“Music is not just my passion. It is my life,” said the eminent musician in his acceptance speech. He also recalled his initial training under Palghat Subba Iyer and E.P. Narayana Pisharody and later under the legendary master Palani Subramaniam Pillai.

“I had initiated my concert performances at the age of eight. It was a long road since then. I am happy that my efforts in the field of mridangam and music have helped propagate the art around the globe,” said this ;exponent of the Pudukottai style of mridangam. Dorai aka Vaidynathan was born in Guruvayur to G.S. Krishna Iyer and Meenakshi. His sister Guruvayur Ponnammal was a highly reputed singer. His brother, G.K. Rajamani, is a violinist of repute.

Dorai also recalled an evening in 1949 when he went to Chennai for the first time to perform in a concert with Carnatic vocalist Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar.

The music centre was inaugurated by A R Venkateswaran.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Palakkad – June 29th, 2015

Latex Backpack for Rubber Ryots Bags Top Honours

Thiruvananthapuram  :

‘Latex Carry Backpack’, designed by students of Amal Jyothi College of Engineering, Kanjirapally,  was adjudged the best project at the 10th National Innovation Contest- TechTop 2015 that concluded at the Mar Baselios College of Engineering and Technology (MBCET) here on Saturday.

The prize, instituted by Degree Controls, was awarded to Ajin Omanakuttan, Alen Anil, Mintu Elizabeth Shaji and Parameswaran S of Amal Jyothi College of Engineering by Governor P Sathasivam at the valedictory function. The prize comprise cash award of Rs one lakh.

Greeshma Unnikrishnan of IIT Mumbai won the second prize of Rs 50,000 for her project ‘Cost Effective Monitoring System for Intravenous.Infusion’, while the third prize (Rs 30,000) went to MBCET for their project called ‘Upasana: Diagnostic Toolkit for ASHA Workers.’

One of the highlights of TechTop this year was the Junior Innovation Challenge introduced for high school students. Of these, Placid Vidya Vihar School, Kottayam, won the top honors in the category, comprising cash prize of Rs 25,000, for the project ‘Easy Patient Transferring Machine’.

Speaking on the occasion, Governor P Sathasivam noted that entrepreneurship and innovation were crucial for economic growth of the country.

The Latex Carry Backpack, which won the first prize, aims to address a common issue that rubber tappers face when they transfer the milk from the tree to the containers.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Express News Service / June 28th, 2015

Kerala startup targets first-time writers

Kochi :

Kerala-based startup Valmeeki has come up with an idea to help first-time writers to publish their works in digital book format online. The startup, founded by three IT students from CUSAT, is mentored by government-owned consultancy Kitco through its ‘My Enterprise’ project.

Offering a royalty of 50-60% for books sold online, Valmeeki is focusing initially on Malayalam and English eBooks. Writings can be uploaded either in MS Word or PageMaker for text and in jpeg for illustration content. Those who lack typing skills can send manuscripts as well. The book will be ready for sale online after the necessary editing in 72 hours.

Former journalist Kuruvilla Chacko is the team leader and Vishnu Unnithan, Vishnu G P and Suhair Zain are the students behind the project.

Currently, 28 books are available on the Valmeeki site Cyriac Davies, Manging Director, Kitco, said in his press statement: “Eight projects similar to this are being hatched in the incubator of Kitco. Our aim is to hold the hands of the new entrepreneurs and initiate them into the market. An entrepreneurship culture has to be nurtured. Small industrial projects like this are welcome to the Technology Business Incubator at Kitco”.

Valmeeki targets to publish 500 books in 45 days and 1500 books within the next 9 months.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kochi / TNN / June 24th, 2015

TechTop has best of innovation on display

Students of the Amal Jyothi College of Engineering go fashion conscious with their Advance Hair Colouring Technology project on display at the 10th TechTop National Innovation Challenge on Thursday. / The Hindu
Students of the Amal Jyothi College of Engineering go fashion conscious with their Advance Hair Colouring Technology project on display at the 10th TechTop National Innovation Challenge on Thursday. / The Hindu

National Innovation Challenge begins at Mar Baselios college

As many as 21 projects from various engineering colleges across the country are on display at the 10th TechTop National Innovation Challenge that began at the Mar Baselios College of Engineering and Technology (MBCET) here on Thursday.

Students from schools and engineering colleges in the capital city and its suburbs are flocking to MBCET to see the projects based on the contest theme ‘Smart Designs for Healthy Living.’ The top prize that awaits the winners is Rs.1 lakh.

Some of the projects on display at the two-day fete are a cost-effective monitoring system for intravenous infusion (IIT Mumbai); cost-effective filter for having anti-bacterial property (Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology, Kottayam); and EMG-activated arm for paralytic patients (Sethu Institute of Technology, Tamil Nadu).

Students of Sahradaya College of Engineering and Techology introduce their fire extinguishing robot

A fire extinguishing robot (Sahradaya College of Engineering and Technology, Thrissur); tactile Braille display (St. Francis Institute of Technology, Maharashtra); pneumatic engine (St. Vincent Pallottil College of Engineering, Maharashtra); and a location-aware gas leakage detection and alert system (Amal Jyothi College of Engineering) are also on display.

One of the highlights of TechTop this year is the Junior Innovation Competition organised for school students.

The Young Innovators Club of St. Berchman’s Higher Secondary School, Changanassery, has seven projects on display and Placid Vidya Vihar, Kottayam, has one project.

Earlier, Kerala Technological University Vice Chancellor Kuncheria P. Isaac, in his inaugural address, said that those who could keep up with the speed of technological growth and create new products would find success.

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


Entries invited for M.V. Pylee award

Cochin University of Science and Technology has invited applications for the Prof. M. V. Pylee award for the distinguished academician in the country for 2015.

An official release said that it consists of a cash award of Rs. one lakh, citation and memento. Vice Chancellors, renowned personalities, university and college teachers, research students could nominate a distinguished teacher for the award. Self-nominations are not accepted.

The annual award is given to an excellent teacher, good researcher, research guide, an educationist, educational planner and a visionary of future programmes in higher education.

The last date for the receipt of nominations is July 15. More details can be had from 0484-2575039;

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – June 24th, 2015

Pretty tough cop

Merin Joseph. /  Photo: H. Vibhu /The Hindu
Merin Joseph. / Photo: H. Vibhu /The Hindu

Merin Joseph, the youngest IPS officer in the Kerala cadre, believes in the power of the youth

Is there anybody yet who hasn’t heard of Merin Joseph, the dashing young IPS officer who took social media by storm? Photos of her were circulating on Facebook and many declared that they wouldn’t mind being arrested by the “gorgeous officer”. Merin, however, brushes it aside casually. “As a civil servant, we are public figures. At the end of the day, we are in the public domain. I was just upset about the form in which it reached me. They (these posts) said that I had taken charge as the ACP, Kochi, and it was incorrect. I was still a trainee then and I clarified it as soon as possible,” she says.

The Assistant Superintendent of Police under training in Ernakulam Rural District, Chengammanad Station, says all the publicity, however, seems to be working in her favour. “Wherever I go to address people, I see that I have an interested audience. I feel I can get a message across effectively,” she says. The youngest IPS officer in the Kerala cadre (Merin is 25) will complete her training in September, after which she will be given independent sub-divisional charge.

At the lobby of the Government Guest House in Kochi, where she is sitting with her husband Dr. Chris Abraham, Merin doesn’t seem like the archetypal IPS officer; she is petite with rather soft hands. Her FB page reveals her love for the English language, so does a plastic bag full of books she has just bought. “I enjoy reading. It is one of the only hobbies that I can easily pursue,” she says.

Dressed in uniform, her hair tied back, Merin says she always wanted a dynamic job. IAS was a dream and IPS was second preference. Clearing the exam in the first chance in 2012 was not a big deal as she had streamlined her preparations. “It was a childhood dream and I had a focussed approach.” Merin completed her BA and MA in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, where her parents have been settled for over 35 years. Her father, who is from Ranni, is the Principal Advisor in the Ministry of Agriculture and her mother, from Kottayam, is an Economics teacher.

Coming back to the home cadre is a rare fortune few officers have, she says. “Compared to certain other places, Kerala is a relatively comfortable place to work in,” she says.

The third woman Malayali IPS officer in the Kerala cadre, after R. Sreelekha and B. Sandhya, Merin says IPS training does harden one’s soul. “You realise you are made of tougher material.” A typical day starts at about 4.45 a.m. and it involves running 4 to 5 km. Horse riding, weapons training, swimming, diving, 40-km route marches, jungle attachments, which means living in the jungle with bare minimum supplies and such are part of the deal. Initially, especially for those who are not athletically inclined, the rigours could be taxing. “Your body will resist and minor injuries are a given. But it lets you get over your fears.”

The profession is still very male-dominated, she says. “I am surrounded 99 per cent of the time by men. I have found that I may have to be slightly more assertive. That said, I have to admit my subordinates have accepted me well.” But the real challenge is in the domain of hardcore policing. “Being a good police officer, to be on call 24 hours, being there for people, is what I want to achieve.” Though she has not lived in Kerala, Merin has a working knowledge of Malayalam. She admits she isn’t proficient enough to give an entire speech in Malayalam yet.

Merin, who was selected from the Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Police Academy to lead the Indian delegation for the Y20 summit, an official youth engagement programme of the G20 countries, believes in the power of the youth. “We are tech savvy, we grew up in the age of the internet. And we need more young people in the services as the youth can bring in a breath of fresh air to the way Government departments function. We can change the system.”

The Ernakulam Rural SP Yathish Chandra, to whom Merin reports, had created a buzz on social media himself with his “Singham” style. “I guess it is because the level of exposure is much more for the younger officers. They are active on social media and perhaps, the youth feel they connect to them better. It is a good thing as we should be able to inspire the confidence of the public. I believe there is nothing wrong in looking good and being an icon as long as you are doing your job.”

Merin feels more women should come into the police. “The services have a lot to benefit from women coming in. Even as the job is seen as physically demanding and brutal, it is rewarding. I make sure I encourage young girls to consider joining the profession,” she says.

source : / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Anusuya Menon / Kochi – June 21st, 2015

Youth develops software to access catalogues of libraries

Kannur  :

Turn the page on poor reading habits. Here is a new software that would help people access catalogues of libraries. Moreover, it shows the kind of books the user should read, based on the search history, using artificial intelligence and robotic technology.

“I believe that easy access to books helps cultivate good reading habits,” said Kannur native M C Anoop, the brain behind the software called 99 Library. Anoop, a software engineer, wants to install it for free at all public libraries. The software was released by veteran writer T Padmanabhan in Kannur on Thursday.

Apart from online cataloguing, the software can also maintain a record of issue and return of books and subscription of magazines, newspapers and journals by the user. It also reminds the user of the date of return via email. All one needs to do is to log on to the website of 99 Library (

“After installing the software at major libraries, a system to exchange books could be developed, which could help improve reading habits of people,” said Anoop, who added that organizations like the library council in the state could play a major role.

P K Baiju, secretary of district library council, said”Though we will not be able to integrate the library networks to exchange books now, the online catalogue will be a great advantage to book lovers,” he said.

A mobile app version of the software was also developed by Anoop. Though the software would be given free of cost to public libraries and individuals, Anoop is planning to sell it to big establishments like universities and its libraries to meet the expense of managing the website. He also plans to make available e-books that are copyright-free on the website soon.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Kozhikode / TNN / June 19th, 2015

Mechanisation reaches Pokkali fields in Alappuzha

AThe district now has a new machinery to replant paddy seedlings in Pokkali fields.

It is for the first time that such mechanisation process has been introduced in the scheme of Pokkali farming in the State.

The machine, costing about Rs.2 lakh, was launched by District Collector N. Padmakumar at the Koorichal Pokkali fields at Eramalloor in Cherthala on Saturday. The replanting machine was developed by the scientists of rice research centre of Kerala Agricultural University, in association with a private company.

Replanting of seedlings is a labour-intensive process and availability of workers has been one of the major challenges faced by farmers. Pokkali rice in Kerala is considered organic and has got Geographical Indication (GI) certification. Pokkali fileds stretch over the coastal areas of Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts in the State. Pokkali farming area in Kerala has come down from 25,000 acres to 5,000 hectares within the last 15 years owing to various problems faced by farmers, Francis Kalathngal, a Pokkali farmer and convenor of coordinating committee of Pokkali farmers, told The Hindu .

Pokkali fields do not require inorganic fertilizers or irrigation facilities set up by the government. As such, the government needs to support the farmers through providing subsidy on the machine so that it could be widely used, he said. Subsidies under certain schemes such as Gram Vikas Yojna are available from the Union and State governments, but are generally not disbursed on time, he added. The machine is an innovation pioneered by the scientists of rice research station, Ernakulam, said V. Sreekumar, professor and head of the centre, told The Hindu . Three years of experimentation has proved that it could be deployed in Pokkali fields characterised by loose sand and mud. It would take only one to one and a half hours to conduct the replanting operations in one acre. The use of seeds could also be reduced by spreading the because of the optimum practices employed in replanting, he said.

Preparing the fields for the mechanized process is important, according to Mr. Kalathingal. Late arrival of monsoon is a problem confronting the farmer. Washing away the salt content in the field by the rains for a fortnight is important. The traditional way of ‘broadcasting’ for sowing the seeds involves wastage whereas mechanisation provides scope for optimum use of seeds. The distance between the plants could also be set conveniently for giving maximum harvest, he said.

It is for the first time that such mechanisation process has been introduced in the scheme of Pokkali farming in the State.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> National> Kerala / by R Ramabhadran Pillai / Lappuzha – June 22nd, 2015

Treasure trove of history but victim of government neglect

Thalassery Revenue Reference Library. / Onmanorama
Thalassery Revenue Reference Library. / Onmanorama

The Thalassery Revenue Reference Library is a treasure trove of history. Thousands of important revenue records of the country and the state, especially Malabar, are stored here. But curiously enough, the government is yet to appoint a librarian to curate these documents.

It is the only reference library under the revenue department outside of the state capital. The valuable books and records here throw light on various historical events of North Malabar; some of the most important ones pertain to the British Raj of the 19th century.

Records not available elsewhere in the state or country are available at the Thalassery Revenue Reference Library. Among them are detailed records of the revenue department, which used to handle functions that are now handled by various departments. But the library, housed in a beautiful building in the Thalassery sub-collector office compound, is now no one’s baby.

Courtesy: Archaeology Department’s oversight

It is the interest in history that A.C. Mathew, a revenue divisional officer here in 1996-2001, had that led to the setting up of the library. Mathew and his colleagues went around revenue offices from Manjeri to Kasaragod on holidays to find these books and documents and bring them to Thalassery, with permission from the department.

Thalassery Revenue Reference Library.  / Onmanorama
Thalassery Revenue Reference Library. / Onmanorama

 In 1992, the archaeological department had collected thousands of documents from Thalassery sub-collector’s office. The documents stored at the library are those that escaped the scrutiny of archaeology officials. The RDO and other employees of the revenue department spent from their own pockets to preserve these documents in plastic covers. Later, following newspaper reports, then minister K.E.Ismail allotted Rs 1 lakh to have those books bounded.

The library building was built on a grant of Rs 3 lakh given as part of the central government’s project to strengthen the revenue department. In between, there was an attempt to move the books and documents to Thiruvananthapuram, but then chief minister E.K.Nayanar intervened and stopped it. The public was also allowed to refer these documents. There are many who have done research here for their doctoral degrees.

In 2010, then revenue minister K.P. Rajendran and home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan visited the library and gave the nod for the creation of a librarian’s post. But even after five years, the post is vacant. Apparently, the officials are still in a search for a revenue department staffer who is also qualified in library science!


From the collection:

There are many valuable documents here related to the freedom struggle, from leaders’ speeches to secret police reports to administrative procedures:

In 1922, those interned in Kannur central jail over the Mappila rebellion had attacked jail wardens with knives and other weapons procured from the jail kitchen. Several were killed in the shooting that followed. The reports on their post-mortems as well as information related to the rebellion not available elsewhere are in the Thalassery Revenue Reference Library.

The properties of those who were banished to Andamans over the rebellion were confiscated. The list goes like this: a sleeping mat, iron rimmed pestles for grounding rice, a red oxen with horns curved forward…

Another document is the order issued by William Logan, the sub-collector here in 1860, to shoot tigers that were terrorising travellers on the way to Ancharakandi.

Also available are documents on encounters with police at Morazha, Thalassery Jawaharghat and Mattannoor; and those about Gandhiji’s fast at Yarvada jail and the Agakhan Palace. Among the documents are the various orders issued by British officials on the steps to be taken if Gandhiji dies during his fast, such as not allowing black flags or even mourning processions.

There are also other interesting documents. Among them is a complaint by local people that a revenue official called Krishnan Nair refusing to accept property tax at the office and instead going to homes to collect it; also he had demanded bribe in the form of cow’s ghee and chicken eggs while visiting homes.

Another document shows that an Anglo-Indian in the service of the British army had entrusted the care of his mentally ill mother to the sub-collector as per the law. The official put her in the care of the Sacred Heart Convent. The letters that followed between the woman’s son, who served in the North-West Frontier Province, and the sub-collector and the convent authorities show the selfishness of man. The son writes to the sub-collector and the convent about how much he earns and asserts that despite saving as much as he could he cannot give more than Rs 2 per month for her care.

Among the thousands of priceless documents available here are Logan’s Malabar Manual, the work called Treaties and Engagement of British Affairs in Malabar published in 1870, the Manual of British Administration in Malabar Presidency published by the Madras government in 1882, a true copy of Magna Carta, the report on the commission that probed the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the Rowlatt Act.

Will the authorities wake up to ensure this history of north Malabar is preserved before it is claimed by time and neglect for ever?

source: / OnManorama / Home> News> Kerala / by V.K. Jayanthan / Sunday – June 21st, 2015

India’s first air-conditioned DEMU train launched in Kochi


Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today flagged off India’s first diesel electric multiple unit (DEMU) train service with an air-conditioned coach here.

The Angamaly-Ernakulam-Tripunithura-Piravom train service is expected to help in reducing traffic congestion in the state’s fastest growing city.

“It is for the first time in a DEMU service, we have provided air conditioned service. We want to increase it further,” Prabhu said at a function in Ernakulam Junction.

Top Railway officials said the AC coach provides reclining type comfortable cushion seats for 73 passengers similar to air-conditioned chair car of inter-city express trains.

Other coaches of DEMU train are provided with bench type cushion seats and large windows with glass shutters.

The train is equipped with bio-toilets and fully vestibule for free movement of passengers between coaches.

Prabhu said the DEMU after the inaugural service would be withdrawn temporarily and replaced with MEMU (mainline electrical multiple unit) train till the completion of renovation work of Harbour Terminus and Old Railway Stations.

He assured that the DEMU launched today would itself be restored once the renovation work was completed.

Kerala Power Minister Aryadan Muhammed, K V Thomas, MP, and Hybi Eden, Congress MLA, were among those who attended the function.

source: / Deccan Herald / Home> National / PTI / Kochi – June 21st, 2015