Worlds Safest Airlines …Top 20….” Qantas is in Top of the list for the 3rd Year ” …


Nervous flyer?  Just want to know you’re traveling with a reliable airline? Find out who are the world’s safest airlines., the world’s only safety and product rating website, which was launched in June 2013, has announced its top twenty safest airlines and top ten safest low cost airlines for 2016 from the 407 it monitors.

Top of the list for the third year is Australia’s Qantas, which has a fatality free record in the jet era – an extraordinary record. Making up the remainder of the top twenty in alphabetical order are: Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Hawaiian Airlines, Japan Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airline System, Singapore Airlines, Swiss, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.’s rating system takes into account a range of factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the airline’s fatality record.’s editorial team, one of the world’s most awarded and experienced, also examined each airline’s operational history, incident records and operational excellence to arrive at its top twenty safest airlines.

The top twenty have always been at the forefront of safety innovation and launching of new aircraft and these airlines have become a byword for excellence. Responding to public interest, the editors also identified their top ten safest low cost airlines.

They are in alphabetical order: Aer Lingus, Flybe, HK Express, Jetblue, Jetstar AustraliaThomas Cook, TUI Fly, Virgin AmericaVolaris and Westjet.

Unlike a number of low cost carriers, these airlines have all passed the stringent International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and have excellent safety records.
Of the 407 airlines surveyed, 148 have the top seven-star safety ranking but almost 50 have just three stars or less. There are 10 airlines with only one star and these airlines are from Indonesia, Nepal and Surinam.

In selecting Qantas as the world’s safest airline editors noted that over its 95-year history the world’s oldest continuously operating airline has amassed an extraordinary record of firsts in operations and safety and is now accepted as the industry’s most experienced carrier.

The Australian airline has been a leader in: the development of the Future Air Navigation System; the Flight Data Recorder to monitor plane and later crew performance; automatic landings using Global Navigation Satellite System as well as precision approaches around mountains in cloud using RNP. Qantas was the lead airline with real time monitoring of its engines across its fleet using satellite communications, which has enabled the airline to detect problems before they become a major safety issue.

Last year was a disturbing year for airline safety with some tragic and bizarre accidents such as the high profile GermanWings and Metrojet disasters. However according to data, the 16 accidents in 2015 with 560 fatalities were below the 10-year average of 31 accidents and 714 fatalities. Last year was also a significant improvement over 2014 when there were 21 fatal accidents with 986 fatalities.

Balancing these numbers the world’s airlines carried a record 3.6 billion passengers on 34 million flights in 2015.

Flashback 50 years and there were a staggering 87 crashes killing 1,597 when airlines carried only 141 million passengers – 5 per cent of today’s number.

– See more at:




At 57, Asia’s First Woman Bus Driver Still Works Routes in Chennai Out of Passion for Driving…

Vasanthakumari has been driving buses for 23 years now, making her Asia’s first woman bus driver. While she started it because that was the only way to make money, she also had a passion for driving.

Her story begins at the Southern-most tip of India, Kanyakumari, where she was born. When she was very young, her mother died and her father remarried. At 19, she got married to a man with four daughters, and later had two children of her own, in Chennai. Her husband worked as a construction labourer, while she took care of the children and also was the secretary at the Mahalir Mandram, a women’s group.

When the going got tough and there wasn’t enough money to support the family, she agreed to become a bus driver. Soon it became a passion.

women bus driver

Vasanthakumaru, Asia’s first woman bus driver

Source: YouTube

“But when I applied for the government job, the officials told me there were hardly any women bus drivers in the world, and asked me how I would manage in a profession where men struggled,” said Vasanthakumari to Times of India. Nevertheless, she got herself a license in heavy vehicle driving.

But she didn’t get an opportunity to even have her skills tested. After repeated requests, she was called for a test.

Recollecting those early tests, the 57-year-old says, “During one test, they asked me to drive along the figure eight formation. When I started, all the officials ran to safety thinking I may drive in a haphazard manner.”

In March 1993, she joined the crew at the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation as the first woman bus driver. She was not given any special concessions, either. For instance, she still drives on the Nagercoil-Thiruvananthapuram route regularly, ending her shift at 10 PM.

“When I began working, I did single duty and used to report by 6 AM and end the shift around 2 PM,” she said, adding that she would leave her children with her neighbours.

She says that the job is highly stressful, which is why many women who join as drivers end up switching to desk jobs later on.

“Everyone asks me what challenges I faced as a woman driver. I tell that everything seems difficult but it is the way we deal with it that is important.”

The winner of the recent Raindropss Women Achiever Award will be retiring in April 2017. Her plans after that include starting a driving school dedicated to women. “Or else, I can always get a job as a driver in college campuses,” she said. Whatever it is, she does not want to stop driving in life, she adds.

Source….Neeti Vijaykumar in http://www.the


படித்து நெகிழ்ந்தது …” மே /பா காமராஜர் தலைவர் சத்திய மூர்த்தி பவன் “

எட்டயாபுரம், பா.நா.கணபதி எழுதிய, ‘நினைவுகள்’ நூலிலிருந்து:

ஒரு முதிய காங்கிரஸ் தியாகி, சென்னை அரசு மருத்துவமனையில் சிகிச்சைக்காக சேரும்போது, தன் பெயருடன், மே/பா. காமராஜர், தலைவர், சத்தியமூர்த்திபவன், சென்னை என, பதிவேட்டில் எழுதி கொள்ளும்படி கூறினார்.
ஒருநாள், அம்முதியவர் திடீரென்று இறந்து விட்டார். அவர் தந்த முகவரிப்படி காமராஜருக்கு தகவல் தரப்பட்டது. அதைக் கேட்டு அதிர்ந்து போனார் காமராஜர். ஏன் என்றால், இறந்தவர் யார் என்றே அவருக்கு தெரியாது.
‘இறந்தவர் காங்கிரஸ் தியாகி; என் முகவரியை தந்திருக்கிறார். அவருக்கு என்னிடம் அவ்வளவு நம்பிக்கை! தியாகியின் இறுதி சடங்கை நல்ல முறையில் செய்ய வேண்டும்…’ என்ற கடமையுணர்வு அவரது உள்ளத்தில் மேலிட்டது.
மருத்துவமனை சென்று, இறந்தவரின் உடலை பெற்று, நல்லடக்கம் செய்யும்படி, செயலர் வி.எஸ். வெங்கட்ராமனிடம் தெரிவித்தார். அன்று, தன் வழக்கமான நிகழ்ச்சிகளை ரத்து செய்தவர், செயலற்றவராக, ஈஸி சேரில் சாய்ந்து விட்டார்.
சடலம், மூலகொத்தளம் சென்றடைந்து, எரியூட்டும் சமயம் அங்கு சென்ற காமராஜர், ‘இந்த தியாகி யாரோ… வீடு, வாசல், மனைவி, மக்கள் எல்லாவற்றையும் துறந்து, காங்கிரசில் சேர்ந்து பல அவஸ்தைகள் பட்டும் கூட, அக்கட்சியிடம் நம்பிக்கை இழக்காத இவர், மரணம் அடையும் முன், காங்., அலுவலக விலாசமே தந்துள்ளார். இவருக்கு நாம் எல்லாருமே கொள்ளி போடுவோம்…’ என்று, நா தழுதழுக்க கூறிய வார்த்தைகள், அனைவரையும் கண்ணீர் விட செய்தன.
ஒரு எளிய தியாகிக்காக, தியாக சீலரான காமராஜர் சிந்திய கண்ணீர், தூய்மையான அன்பின் வெளிப்பாடாக விளங்கியது.




படித்ததில் பிடித்தது ….” காக்கா முட்டை …” !!!

படித்ததில் பிடித்தது…….
குழந்தைகளின், ஐக்யு. தனியார் பள்ளி ஒன்றில், ஆசிரியையாகப் பணி புரியும், ஒருவர் சொன்னது:
சாதாரணமா தனியார் பள்ளிகளில், தமிழை தீண்டத்தகாத மொழியாகப் பார்த்து, ஒதுக்கி வைப்பாங்க. ஆனா, நான் பணிபுரியும் பள்ளி கொஞ்சம் வித்தியாசமானது;   இங்கே, தமிழுக்கும் முக்கியத்துவம் கொடுப்பாங்க. சமீபத்தில், யூ.கே.ஜி., குழந்தைகளுக்கு, படம் பார்த்து கதை சொல்லும் வகுப்பு எடுத்துட்டு இருந்தேன்.   அதில் ஒரு கதையில், ஆலமரத்தில் கூடுகட்டி,முட்டையிட்டிருக்கும் காக்கையின் முட்டைகளை, அதே மரத்தின் பொந்தில் வசிக்கும் பாம்பு, ‘ஸ்வாகாசெய்து வருவதையும், பாம்பை பழிவாங்க நினைக்கும் காகம், ராணியின் முத்து மாலையை, காவலர்கள் கண்முன்னே கவர்ந்து வந்து, அதை பாம்பு வசிக்கும் பொந்தில் போட,பாம்பை கொன்று, முத்து மாலையை, காவலர்கள் எடுத்துச் சென்று, காகத்தை அதன் பிரச்னையில் இருந்து விடுவிப்பதையும் குழந்தைகளுக்கு விளக்கினேன்.  தலையைத் தலையை ஆட்டியபடி எல்லா குழந்தைகளும் கதையை ரசிக்க, ஒரேயொரு குழந்தை மட்டும் எழுந்து நின்று,  ‘இது என்ன கதை மிஸ்?’ என்றாள்.  இது தான் நீதிக்கதை…என்றேன்.  இந்தக் கதையில என்ன நீதி இருக்கு?’ எனக் கேட்டாள்.   தன்னைவிட பலசாலியான எதிரிகளை, தன்னோட புத்தி சாமர்த்தியத்தினால வீழ்த்தி வெற்றி பெறணும்ங்கிறது தான் நீதி…என்றேன்.  அதுக்காக காகம் என்ன செஞ்சது?’ என்றாள்.  ராணியோட முத்து மாலையை எடுத்துட்டு வந்து பாம்போட பொந்துக்குள்ள போட்டது…என்றேன்.  உடனே, அக்குழந்தை, ‘ஒருத்தருக்கு சொந்தமான பொருளை, அவங்களுக்கு தெரியாம எடுத்துட்டு வந்தா, அது திருட்டு தானே… அப்போ இந்தக் கதையில திருடறதுக்குத் தானே சொல்லித் தந்தீங்க மிஸ்… திருடறது தப்பு இல்லயா?’ எனக் கேட்டாள்.  குழந்தையின் அந்த கேள்விக்கு என்னால் பதில் சொல்ல முடியவில்லை.   திருதிருவென்று விழித்தேன். குழந்தை மேலும் தொடர்ந்தாள்… என்ன தான் காக்காவோட முட்டைகளை பாம்பு சாப்பிட்டாலும்,  அதுக்காக பாம்பை கொலை செய்றது தப்பில்லயா மிஸ்… பாம்பும் ஒரு உயிர் தானே…என்றாள்.  நானும், ‘தப்பு தான்!என்றேன். உடனே, ‘இந்தக் கதையில திருடுறதையும், கொலை செய்றதையும் தானே எங்களுக்கு சொல்லித் தந்திருக்கீங்க;   இது நீதிக் கதையா?’ எனக் கேட்டாள்.  வயசுக்கு மீறி பேசும் குழந்தைகளை அதுவரை திரைப்படங்கள்ல மட்டும் தான், பார்த்திருக்கிறேன்; அன்று நேரிலேயே பாத்தேன்.  இதே கதையை தான், நம் பெற்றோரும், நாமும் படித்துள்ளோம். யாராவது இது குறித்து, இந்தக் கோணத்தில் சிந்தித்துப் பார்த்துள்ளோமாஅக்குழந்தை, ‘காக்காவோட முட்டைகளும் பத்திரமா இருக்கணும்; பாம்பும் சாகக் கூடாது. அதுக்கு வேற வழி தோணலியா மிஸ்?’ எனக் கேட்டாள். தோணலியே கண்ணு…என்று, என் தோல்வியை கவுரவமாக ஒப்புக் கொண்டேன்.  ஆனாலும், உள்ளுக்குள் குறுகுறுப்பு! குறை கூறத் தெரிந்த குழந்தைக்கு, அதற்கு வழி கூறும் ஐடியா தெரிந்திருக்குமோ என நினைத்து,   ‘குட்டிமா… இதுக்கு வேற ஏதாவது வழி இருக்குதா செல்லம்…என்றேன்.  உடனே அது, ‘இருக்கே!என்று கூறி, ‘காகம் சாது; பாம்பு துஷ்டன். துஷ்டனை கண்டா தூர விலகுன்னு நீங்க தானே சொல்லி இருக்கீங்க… அதனால, பொந்து இல்லாத வேற ஒரு மரத்துல போய் காக்கா கூடு கட்டி, முட்டை போடலாம்ல்லே மிஸ்… அப்ப, முட்டையும் பத்திரமாக இருக்கும்; பாம்பும் சாகாதுல்ல…என்றாள்.  இதைக் கேட்டதும், உறைந்து போனேன். இப்படியொரு கோணத்தில்,நாம் ஏன் இதுவரை சிந்தித்து பார்த்ததில்லை என, நினைச்சேன் எனக் கூறி முடித்தார் அந்த இளம் ஆசிரியை.  நம்முடைய தலைமுறை வரை கேள்வி கேட்காமல் பெரியவர்கள் சொல்வதை, ‘பிளைண்ட்டாக நம்பிக் கொண்டிருந்தோம்;   இக்காலத்து பிள்ளைகள், துணிந்து கேள்வி கேட்டு சந்தேகங்களைத் தீர்த்துக் கொள்கின்றனர். வரவேற்கத்தக்க முன்னேற்றம் தான் என எண்ணினேன்!
Source……….Input from a friend of mine

This Man donated every Rupee he EARNED to the poor ….

What began as a challenge ended up a way of life for ‘Paalam’ Kalyanasundaram, whom the UN adjudged one of the most outstanding people of the 20th century.
This is the story of his inspiring journey, as told to Shobha Warrier/

Paalam Kalyanasundaram

IMAGE: The extraordinary Paalam Kalyanasundaram. Photograph: Sreeram Selvaraj


Thin, frail, clad in a dull white dhoti and sleeveless vest, ‘Paalam’ Kalyanasundaramlooks older than his 75 years. Though born into a wealthy agricultural family where he was surrounded by abundance, his possessions today are a couple of dhotis and shirts and a small black bag that he carries everywhere.

He doesn’t have a house of his own, but the doors of many homes in Chennai, including that of superstar Rajinikanth, are open to him.

He never married because he did not meet a person like Sarada Devi, Ramakrishna Paramhansa’s wife. yet, hundreds of children are willing to take care of him.

I meet this extraordinary human being in a tiny one room house in a slum. He is like a grandfather to the young girl who lost her father to cancer a few years ago. She eats with him, runs errands for him, travels with him and takes care of him more than he takes care of her. He has many such grandchildren.

As we speak, a young man walks in. A driver from the interiors of Tamil Nadu, he had come hearing of Paalam’s large heart and wanted to help by driving him around. A man like Paalam, he says, should not travel in autos and buses.

This is the kind of unconditional love people have for him.

Paalam worked as a librarian in a college for 35 years and donated every paisa he earned as salary to charity. To meet his needs, he worked as a waiter in a small hotel after college hours. He also gave away his entire pension to the poor.

He had won many awards including the best librarian award from the Government of India. The International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, honoured him as one of the ‘noblest of the world.’ The United Nations adjudged him one of the most outstanding people of the 20th century.

The Man of the Millennium award from an American organisation gave him Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million) along with the award. He donated the entire amount to the poor.

Today he runs the organisation Paalam (bridge), which works as a bridge between donors and the needy. “I do not earn any money now, so I can only act as a bridge,” he says.

It may be hard to believe that a man like Paalam Kalyanasundaram lives on this planet, but he does, and here is his story.

Childhood in a village

You will realise how backward my village, Melakarivelamkulam in Tirunelveli district, was when I say that there were only 35 houses. We had no road, no electricity, no primary school or even a tiny shop to buy a match box!

Till I reached high school, we only used kerosene lamps at home.

It was only when I came to Madras for my post-school education that I saw, for the first time in my life, a train, a cinema theatre, big shops and even electricity.

I lost my father, a rich landlord, when I was 10 months old. I was brought up by my mother and maternal grandmother. My biggest life lesson came from my illiterate mother.

Before she got married, my grandmother ran a small idli shop in her village and my mother and her sister worked as servers. My father, a rich agriculturist, used to visit the village to sell his farm products. As this was the only idli shop there, he was a regular visitor.

A 45-year-old widower, he would leave his two small children at the idli shop while he completed his work. When he found that my mother lovingly looked after them, he wanted to marry her. My mother had two conditions — that her mother would stay with them and he had to bear the expenses of her younger sister’s wedding.

He agreed and they were married.

My elder brother was born when my father was 50, I was born 11 years later. Within a year, my father passed away.

Kalyanasundaram's mother urged him to share his snacks with others.

IMAGE: Kalyanasundaram’s mother urged him to share his meals with others (Image used for representational purposes only). Photograph: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

When my brother and I were young, she would tell us, ‘Even if you have all the money in the world, you will not be happy. To attain happiness, you should not be greedy. You should donate one tenth of whatever you have to the needy. You should help a living being — human or animal — every day. If you follow these three things, you will be happy.’

My life was not shaped by what I learnt in school or college, it was shaped by my illiterate mother’s thoughts.

Every morning, when my brother and I got ready to go to school, my mother would pack either 10 biscuits or 10 murukku (a savoury snack) or 10 chocolates and tell us, ‘Before you start eating, you should give one to somebody else. Without doing that, you should not eat anything. It can be a beggar or a dog or even your friend.’

One day, the snack she gave me was a delicious sweet. I couldn’t control my desire, I ate all 10 myself. In the evening, I asked her for some more after confessing I hadn’t shared any earlier since it was so tempting. She was so angry and disappointed; she slapped me hard and said she would have made more if I had shared it with someone.

A challenge, and a saviour

When we became teenagers, the voice of all my friends cracked, but mine didn’t. My classmates would constantly tease me about my shrieky, feminine, voice.

It disturbed me to such an extent that I wanted to commit suicide.

Depressed beyond words, I went to meet a Tamil writer who was my hero and told him I was fed up living a boy’s life with a girl’s voice. I was 16. He was shocked. He took me to a hotel and ordered some food.

Later, he spoke to me for two hours. ‘How Kalyanasundaram speaks is not what makes your life,’ he said. ‘What society speaks about Kalyanasundaram is what matters. You should live such a life that people speak highly about you and your life.’

I have not forgotten his words.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru addresses a public meeting in New Delhi during the 1962 war with China.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru addresses a meeting in New Delhi during the 1962 war with China. Photograph: Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images


A war and a challenge

In 1962, when the India-China war started, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru urged all citizens to donate to the war fund. I was a student of library science at Madras University.

I didn’t have any money, so I immediately took the gold chain I was wearing and donated it to the Prime Minister’s Fund.

When Kamaraj (the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu) came to know of this, he arranged a meeting at Marina Beach (in Chennai) on May 1, 1963. When he complimented my donation as a great social service, I said I had done it for my own satisfaction and happiness.

A newspaper editor asked, ‘Till now, you have been donating what your mother and grandmother gave you, not what you earned. When you start working, can you donate your entire salary for at least five years?’ Taking it as a challenge, I agreed.

When I was in school, I wanted to see all the other children there as well. But most of my friends from the village could not afford the fees. So, after I turned 14, I gave free tuition to the village children. I felt it was unfair that I could study because I belonged to a rich family and my friends could not because their parents were poor.

Keeping a promise, and more

I am a gold medallist in library science and have master’s degrees in Tamil literature and history. After my studies, I decided to work as a librarian at the Kumarkurupara Arts College at Srivaikuntam near Thanjavur.

At that time, our family income from agriculture was around Rs 2 or 3 lakhs (Rs 200,000 to Rs 300,000). I remembered what I told the newspaper editor. I knew I could donate my salary of Rs 140 and live on the family income.

But what is so great about giving away Rs 140 for charity when your family income is in lakhs? It becomes great only when that Rs 140 is all you have.

When serving became a tribute

After donating my entire salary, I chose not to take any money from my family. To take care of my basic needs, I worked in a restaurant in a small town away from my college.

After college, from 5 pm to 7 pm, I worked as an honorary professor teaching students Gandhian studies. From 8 pm to 11 pm, I worked as a waiter.

Though the owner asked me to work as a manager or a cashier, I wanted to work as a waiter as my mother was one when she was young. I didn’t consider it demeaning even though I was the chief librarian of a college.

The hotel paid me Rs 600 as salary. I was also given free food.

Slowly, people came to know that I worked in a college and the restaurant came to be known as the one where a college teacher worked as a server! Many people would come there just to see me.

Even today, people point out the restaurant and say this was where a college professor worked as a server.

In rural India, many of the poorer children may not have access to education (Image used for representational purposes only).

IMAGE: In rural India, many poor children do not have access to education (Image used for representational purposes only). Photograph: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters


The joy of giving

After giving away my salary for five years, I thought why not donate my entire salary for another 10 years and prove the editor wrong?

After 10 years, I realised I felt good using my money to educate poor children. I continued to donate my entire salary till my retirement, that is, for 35 years.

Nobody knew what I was doing till 1990. It remained a secret as I didn’t want to publicise what I was doing.

When our pay scale changed to what the UGC (University Grants Commission) prescribed, everyone got huge arrears. I also got Rs 120,000.

I met the district collector and asked him to keep the money in a trust to be used as scholarships for the education of orphaned children. He asked if I had any conditions. I said I wanted members from all communities who were involved in charity work to be on the trust so that the scholarships would be used properly even after my death.

When he wanted to arrange a public meeting to appreciate my gesture, I told him I didn’t want anyone else to know about it. He agreed, but, without my knowledge, sent this information to newspapers, agencies and radio stations. It was flashed all over India. His reasoning was that he wanted more people to follow what I did.

That’s how, after April 16, 1990, people came to know of a person called Kalyanasundaram.

A sacrifice, happily made

I knew that if I got married, I would not be able to donate my entire salary. So I decided to remain a bachelor.

If I had met a person like Sarada Devi, who was the perfect wife to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, I would have got married.

A superstar for a son

After I gave my entire pension, gratuity and provident fund to the poor, the United Nations named me one of the Outstanding People of the 20th Century.

An American organisation honoured me with the ‘Man of the Millennium’ award, which included Rs 30 crore. I distributed the entire amount to the needy.

When Rajinikanth came to know of this, he organised a meeting at the Kamarajar Arangam and gave me money and 101 sovereigns. There itself, I gave away the money and 101 sovereigns to 101 needy children.

On seeing this, he adopted me as his father and wanted me to stay with him. But I couldn’t stay with him for more than a month as I found that life quite stifling.

I like to lead an anonymous, simple and independent life which I didn’t get while staying at his place. He respected my wishes and let me go, saying the doors of his house would always be open for me.

Paalam Kalyanasundaram

IMAGE: The man who became a bridge — Paalam Kalyanasundaram. Photograph: Sreeram Selvaraj


A much needed bridge

After my retirement in 1998, I decided to return to my village, but Nalli Kuppuswami Chettiar (the well-known textile industrialist and philanthropist) asked me stay back in Chennai and work for the poor.

I didn’t have a single penny — no salary, no savings. He promised to take care of my needs and the expenses of an office. Even today, he takes care of everything.

Now that I don’t earn any money, I decided to be a paalam (bridge) between the needy and the donors. That is how people started calling me Paalam Kalyanasundaram.

Source…Shobha Warrier in


One Doctor Is Quietly Building a World-Class Cancer Hospital for the Poor in Assam….

Dr. Ravi Kannan’s vision has turned a small cancer centre into a full-fledged hospital in Assam’s Barak valley.
Barak Valley is a remote area on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Assam. For years, the people in the area had limited access to medical care. In fact, the nearest hospital was in Guwahati, which is 350 km away. This journey would often take 24 hours to complete, due to the difficult terrain as well as the threat of landslides.

The high incidence of cancer in the region, possibly due to extensive tobacco use, prompted citizens of the valley to come together and set up a hospital in 1996.

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The Cachar Cancer Hospital Society faced multiple challenges, including a severe financial crunch and lack of infrastructure, right from the start. In fact, the hospital got its first radiation unit only in 2006.
The first qualified nurse came on board in 2008. Though there were other trained personnel in the region, they were choosing to migrate to bigger cities in search of better employment.

The hospital continued to reel under all these problems till 2007, when it got a saviour in the form of Dr. Ravi Kannan.

“When I got the offer to come and work in Assam, my wife was hesitant. But after coaxing her, we came and spent some time here. I worked at the hospital and interacted with the patients. Meanwhile, my wife and daughter mingled with the members of the community. All of us realised that there was much work to be done here and this is where we should be,” he says.

So Dr. Kannan, who was a renowned oncologist at the Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai, and his family, packed their bags and moved to Silchar.


It was a big change for the family. For instance, his daughter, who studied in a school which didn’t have exams, had to take her first exam to get admission into Kendriya Vidyalya. The weather was different and so was the language. And life here was harder in comparison to their hometown of Chennai. However, slowly, they all settled into the new place and Dr. Kannan got to work.

“From day one, we just kept reacting to situations, whether they were related to finance or manpower or infrastructure,” says Dr. Kannan.

Over the years, this doctor and his incredible team managed to turn the place around.  There were only 23 staff members when he joined. Today, there is a 200-member strong team.

From 25 beds, the hospital now has 100 beds. And from 6, the number of nurses has grown to 102.


It is his selfless service and vision that have transformed this unknown cancer hospital into a comprehensive cancer centre that is providing free and heavily subsidised treatment to thousands of poor cancer patients every year,” says Rajeev Kumar, Dr. Kannan’s colleague.

In the early days, Dr. Kannan noticed that only a few patients who came for the initial check-up would come back again for a follow up. Every year, the hospital would conduct a review and find that most patients didn’t return a second time. Finally, it dawned on the administration that most people couldn’t afford the treatment.
Over 60% of the patients visiting the hospital have an income of Rs. 3,000 or less per month. As many as 80% are daily wage earners – labourers, tea garden workers and agricultural workers.

“We realised that most of them were the sole breadwinners of their families. They couldn’t afford to not work. The challenge was to figure out how to get them to undergo medical treatment, without taking away their daily bread,” he says.

This is how the hospital started home visits. The doctors started going to the villages to provide treatment to cancer patients. The patients do not have to pay for home-based care and follow up. Slowly, the hospital started satellite clinics for patients who are unable to travel long distances to visit the hospital. The doctors also provide phone consultations and stay in touch with patients who have returned home with prescriptions.

Dr. Kannan and his team discovered yet another way to get the patients to come in. They started employing those who come as attendants with the patients. These attendants help out in the garden or do other small tasks. Initially they were paid Rs. 30 but now they get about Rs. 100 per day for their work.

According to Dr. Kannan, because of the free food available at the hospital and the opportunity to work, some patients stay behind even after their treatment is completed.
The hospital has a desk in the outpatient department where the staff proactively assess the economic needs of the patients and assist them in getting treatment from the hospital at subsidised rates or for free.

They also provide patients with a better understanding of their treatment options.

“We make efforts to offer the best treatment possible to all the patients, irrespective of their socio-economic status. No one should be denied access to treatment due to want of money,” Dr. Kannan says.
The hospital now has a strict follow up policy. The supervisors of each ward are given cell phones. They are required to call up people and find out why they have missed their appointments. They maintain contact with patients and their families and motivate them to complete their treatment as advised.

At present, the hospital has an annual inflow of 3,000 new and 14,000 follow-up patients. It also gets patients from other states, as well as from neighbouring Bangladesh.
For Dr. Kannan and his team, every day presents a new challenge.

“There have been times when my colleagues and I have conducted surgeries in fields we have not specialised in. The patients cannot always go rushing to Guwahati. How can we say no to someone who is critical? By taking up these surgeries, we have also been pushed out of our comfort zones,” he says.

The hospital runs on the funds it receives from various organisations and individuals. A grant from the Indo-American Cancer Association helped establish the Department of Pain and Palliative Care in the hospital in 2011. A Department of Dental Surgery has also been set up. The pharmacy offers medicines at highly discounted prices. An ICU was started from the contributions made by individuals and NGOs.

The hospital is now awaiting permission to set up a blood bank in the region.


“The expenses just keep increasing. We rely on contributions to run this place and provide treatment to so many people. My amazing team has chosen to work here despite the fact that they would be better remunerated in bigger cities. The satisfaction we get from serving the community here is indescribable,” he says.

The Cachar Cancer Hospital Society is raising funds to support cancer patients. For more details visit its page onKetto.
To get in touch with Dr. Ravi, mail him at

Source…….Meryl Garcia in http://www.the


Chennai floods have passed, but this city crew continues its clean up …

Image: Chennai Trekking Club volunteers

More than 30 young people were assembled on the banks of the Adyar River next to Surya Nagar in Kotturpuram early in the morning on March 2. Armed with orange gloves and white rags, they were on a cleaning mission as part of the Chennai Trekking Club’s efforts to clear the area of all non-biodegradable waste.

According to Peter Van Geit (44), the founder of the Chennai Trekking Club, “This is the 14th session of the cleanliness drive that we are carrying out in the city. The waste that is seen on these banks has not been dumped by the locals but has been washed in during the floods. There were thick layers of garbage here but now it has reduced as we have been cleaning this place for the past two weeks.”

On the other side of the river, heaps of garbage still dot the bank, and the river runs an alarming black colour. “We can reach the other side of the river but the land is too steep for us to clean it up. The water is black in color as many illegal sewage connections are connected to the river,” said Peter.

Most of the waste that can be seen on the slope consist of cloth, glass bottles, plastic bags and other household trash. Peter and his team of volunteers have been gathering together all the non-biodegradable waste for transportation to the common dumping ground in Pallikaranai by trucks of the Chennai Corporation. –

The Chennai Trekking Club began the cleaning drive in the city two months ago, in the aftermath of the Chennai floods. “We started the relief work in different places like Cuddalore and Pulicat. Many slums were in a very bad condition and all the drainage water was inside their homes. We were helping them out in Cuddalore and Pulicat. Later, we decided to start cleaning near the Adyar and Cooum rivers in Chennai.”

The cleaning drive came about as a result of a shared passion among the club’s members for the environment, says Peter. “The Chennai Trekking club carries out trekking trips to beautiful natural locations like virgin forests, mountain ranges, rivers or lakes. Nature is very close to our hearts. So that’s where we started. It also helps to create awareness and reach out to thousands of people and sensitizing people about the issues.”

Building awareness, Peter feels, is an urgent task, as waste disposal is a crucial problem for Chennai. “There are 6000 tonnes of garbage which leaves the city every single day. Most of it ends up in water bodies, rivers and the ocean, which are our lifelines. Chennai has the highest per capita waste generation in the country. There is no segregation of waste in the city and all of it is accumulated in Pallikaranai, one of the few wetlands remaining in India. 90% of our garbage footprint can be reduced immediately by segregating dry (recyclable) and wet (compostable) waste at our home.” –

For the volunteers, many different reasons have drawn them to the initiative. Roopa, a doctor said, “I joined this initiative to help people in cleaning the place but it has changed many things for me. Now, I go home and try keeping the place clean and segregate the waste.”

Bensh, an engineer, said that he comes from an agriculture background and was drawn to an earlier tree plantation initiative. He later joined the cleanliness drive as he thinks it is the social responsibility of the people to do such things. For Mohan, it is about making new friends and enjoying time spent usefully in cleaning such places.

In the past, the group has carried out cleanliness drives in Chitra Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Pallaikarnai and few tree parks.

Peter Van Geit began the Chennai Trekking Club about eight years ago. “I’m a very active person in sports. I wanted a platform to connect. I set up a website and started sharing stories and images of trips and in some time people started joining me for cycling, swimming, running and trekking trips.” Now, the Chennai Trekking Club has more than 27000 members.

Besides their current cleanliness drives, the Club also carries out tree-planting initiatives, an annual coastal clean-up drive, workshops on nature, restoration of historical sites and organic farming. It also organizes trekking trips on weekends, swimming classes, triathlons and marathons.

Inspired by their example? Surely a task as large as cleaning up the city could use many more volunteers.