Will Chennai be able to save a 300 year old Plaque connecting it to its Armenian Past …?

The plaque is the last living relic of the Marmalong, the first ever bridge built over the Adyar river in 1726 by Armenian trader Coja Petrus Uscan.








If you take a walk across the busy roads of Saidapet in Chennai, chances are that you would cross what is perhaps one of the oldest living relics that connects the city to its Armenian past.

To the uninitiated, it may look like an unremarkable slab of stone on a pale green crumbling wall. However, this ordinary looking slab of stone is in fact a 300-year-old plaque that belonged on the pillars of one of oldest bridges in the city.

Marmalong Bridge, the first ever bridge across the Adyar river, was commissioned in 1726 by Coja Petrus Uscan, an immensely wealthy Armenian trader. Uscan, who had decided to settle in Madras after coming to the city in 1724, paid 30,000 pagodas from his own money to build the bridge and another 1,500 pagodas for its upkeep.

“Uscan was immensely respected and perhaps was even one of the only non-British allowed to stay in Fort St George or the White town. A devout believer in St Thomas, Uscan wanted more people to visit the Saint Thomas Mount, and therefore removed the two impediments – the river and the lack of steps – by building the bridge as well as 160 steps to the mount. This was the initial purpose of the bridge. But all that soon changed as the Marmalong Bridge became crucial to the expansion of the city, especially towards the South,” says Chennai-based novelist and historian Venkatesh Ramakrishnan.

Mount Road came after the bridge











 Mount Road, around which the city developed, came 60 years after the Marmalong bridge.

Named after Mambalam, one of the villages near the Adyar, the Marmalong Bridge perhaps laid the foundation stone for the city as it led to the emergence of the Mount Road, around which Chennai developed.

“It was only natural that a road followed after a bridge was built. The British built the Mount Road in the 1800s, around which the city grew. So, in a sense, the bridge led to the city’s birth and is very close to its heart,” Venkatesh adds.

However, the Marmalong only lives in our memories today. Where the arched bridge of Uscan once stood, a concrete replacement called the Maraimalai Adigal Bridge now exists. There are no traces of this Adyar-Armenian connect but for the last living relic – the plaque commemorating Uscan’s construction of the bridge.

With inscriptions in three ancient languages – Persian, Armenian and Latin, the Uscan plaque was established in memory of the great nation of Armenia and is a tribute to the people who helped build the city.

“The Armenian inscriptions are on the lower portion of the plaque. It can’t be read because the writing has faded with time and neglect,” according to Venkatesh.

Crusade to preserve the plaque











The neglected plaque stands near the Saidapet Metro construction site. 

Displaced from its original site, the plaque faces the perils of urbanisation and is further threatened by the metro rail work that is underway.

Years of neglect and development in the area has buried the stone in layers of debris. In fact, the bottom of the stone has disappeared under the ground as the road levels have been rising every year due to re-carpeting, Venkatesh laments.

With the construction of the Saidapet Metro station underway, historians who are fighting to save the plague urge the CMRL to give the stone a place of honor in the metro station.

Highlighting the importance of preserving such relics, Venkatesh says, “The Armenians have contributed immensely to this city. I believe it is important to preserve all traces to this link. It is really unfortunate that while the Uscan stone stands neglected, another plaque at the Fourbeck Bridge is preserved by the Architectural Society of India,” he said.

A dedicated group of Chennai historians have launched a Facebook page “Retrieve Uscan Stone” to draw attention to the issue and save the plaque.

“The Saidapet Metro work is too close to the plaque. We have been urging the officials to move the relic to a better place, may be a museum or a memorial site. We just don’t want to lose a precious piece of the city’s history,” Venkatesh says hopefully.




Meet Muruganantham, the real Pad Man…

His low-cost machines that make sanitary pads have earned him international recognition. A Muruganantham’s story is now being told on the big screen as Pad Man

A Muruganantham’s life is a haze of interviews to newspapers, TV channels and radio stations. His phone doesn’t stop ringing and his wife sees him only during meal times. To the world, he is a social entrepreneur; ‘Pad man’, ‘Menstrual man’; ‘The man who wore a sanitary napkin’: the low-cost sanitary napkin machine that he created is changing the lives of thousands of women across the world.

But at his home in Coimbatore, he’s a busy father whose bonding time with his daughter is during his work tours —he takes her along since he’s rarely home; an elusive husband with whom his wife seeks an appointment —she says this jokingly to us, but there’s truth in it.









Just the same

There’s a Bollywood movie about him that’s releasing this week and he has gained international recognition. But the man is matter-of-fact about his celebrity status. “My work remains the same,” he says, seated in the living room of his rented house. “Tomorrow, I will walk into a remote village with my machine and no one will recognise me,” he says. “Nothing has changed or will change.” But the cause that he upholds —to take sanitary pads to every nook and corner of India —is gradually gaining momentum. In another 30 years, Muruganantham is sure that he will ensure 100% penetration.

It’s like breaking a massive mountain with a sledgehammer singlehandedly—the stigma surrounding the subject is as such. Which is what makes his story interesting. Muruganantham recalls how his obsession to research on sanitary napkins earned him nothing but ridicule from those around him. “My fellow villagers thought I was a vampire,” he laughs. “I came close to being tied up to a tree.” Muruganantham wanted to create low-cost sanitary towels.

His work took bizarre turns —he strapped onto himself a machine fashioned using a football bladder that pumped out blood into a sanitary pad that he wore. He was that mad scientist the world just didn’t understand. In 2006, when his innovation won an award from the then President Pratibha Patil, his life changed forever.

“My machines now run in 4,800 points in India and in 29 other countries,” he says. His story has appeared in several foreign language publications—Hebrew being one of them. It’s only natural that it be made into a feature film.

Now a feature film

Pad Man, directed by R Balki, featuring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte, and Sonam Kapoor, presents Muruganantham’s journey from a school drop-out to a social entrepreneur. “It does have ‘masala’ elements, being a Bollywood film,” says Muruganantham. He worked with the crew for over three years, helping them set up his machines on the sets and demonstrating his work.

The story is set in Madhya Pradesh and not Tamil Nadu. Muruganantham feels that only then will the cause have a pan-India reach. “I did have Tamil filmmakers approach me,” he says. “But I didn’t want the film to be confined to one part of the country.” Elusive that he is, it took a while for actor and writer Twinkle Khanna, who has produced the film, to pin him down for a conversation. “She contacted me in 2015,” says Muruganantham. Khanna featured Muruganantham in her 2016 book The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad.

Pad Man is the first feature film that talks about women’s monthly period,” he says. With barely any knowledge of Hindi, Muruganantham managed to effectively convey his thoughts to the team. “It helped that director Balki and the cinematographer PC Sreeram knew Tamil,” he says.

Despite his wide network of employees and volunteers, Muguganantham personally travels with his machines to train women to make sanitary napkins in regions affected by extremism. He rolls off names of villages that many may not have heard of — Dhamtari, Lakshmipuramu, Gajroli, Tehri… Many girls in such villagers don’t attend school due to lack of awareness and access to sanitary pads. Murugnanantham is changing that. This is the best thing about his innovation—that a village girl who shut herself at home simply because she menstruated, can finally go to school.

In all these years of working on menstrual hygiene, what Muruganatham finds most difficult to deal with, is the superstition surrounding it. “Women in rural India have the strangest beliefs surrounding the monthly period,” he says. He is trying to break these by educating them. In a tribal village in the Nilgiris, women believed that if they used a sanitary towel, their eyes will be taken away. Muruganantham says, “A girl used it for two months and told her friends ‘Look, my eyes are still intact’.”

Source…Akila Kannadasan in http://www.the hindu.com



Meet Narasamma…97 years…Padma Awardee from Karnataka ….Who help delivering babies for 70 years ….

When Narasamma helped deliver the very first child in 1940, the mother told her that her hands were ‘special’.

It was the year 1940. Narasamma was only 20 years old when she helped bring the first baby into the world. This child was her aunt’s. And even as an overwhelmed Narasamma took on the role of a midwife for the very first time, little did she know that what she would one day win a national honour for it.

‘Sulagatti’ Narasamma has been delivering babies for 70 years in backward areas of Tumkur district in Karnataka. And her life-long services to women whose children she helped deliver without taking a penny were finally recognised – she was honoured with a Padma Shri on Thursday.

Narasamma, now 97, is currently admitted at a nursing home for treatment.

TNM spoke to Sriram Pavagada, one of Narasamma’s 12 children. He says that Narasamma would always observe her grandmother Margamma deliver babies, when she was a child.

“Margamma herself was locally famous in Tumkur for delivering babies around 70 years ago. When she delivered her aunt’s child – her first – her aunt remarked ‘Narsu, your hands are special’. That was the start,” Sriram narrates.

Encouraged by her grandmother and aunt, Narasamma began delivering babies and soon became the go-to person in Pavagada for pregnant women.

Narsamma delivered babies free of cost at a time hospitals and roads were unheard of in Pavagada. It earned the moniker ‘Sulagatti’ Narasamma – sulagatti in Kannada means ‘delivery work’.

“Even now, though there are hospitals, many people don’t like to go there. Instead, they prefer Narsamma since they know her,” says Sriram.

People’s immense faith in Narasamma and her ways has seen her deliver over 1,500 babies in the last 77 years. And until a few years ago, she did this apart from agricultural work. “If you ask her, she will say I don’t have a count since she has been doing it all her life,” Sriram says with fondness.

Midwives were an integral part of rural life in Tumkur until technological innovations in medicine reached there. The introduction of hospitals contributed to the gradual fall in the prominence of women who help during childbirth.

The Padma Shri award has brought Narasamma’s work into limelight once again, and her son hopes that there is a greater interest in taking her work forward.

Narasamma’s work is now being continued by close to 180 pupils who learnt the traditional way of delivering babies from her. This includes her youngest daughter Jayamma who is now an experienced midwife.

Though he doesn’t remember when, Sriram says that his mother has also been conferred an honorary doctorate by Tumkur University.

Source…Prajwal Bhat in www. the news  minute .com



The village that gave India its new ISRO chief…..DR.Sivan

A humble son of a farmer who studied in local government run schools, in Tamil medium, is the new head of India’s premier space agency.

Dr K Sivan was born in Sarakkalvilai in Kanyakumari district in 1957. His father was a farmer, and Dr Sivan is the first graduate in the family.

By all accounts, his is an unusual story.

A young Sivan studied in government schools in his native village till the 5th standard, and completed his schooling in neighbouring Valankumaravilai, all in Tamil medium. Later, he graduated from the S T Hindu College in Nagercoil.

He then graduated from the Madras Institute of Technology in aeronautical engineering in 1980 and completed his master’s in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1982.

That year he joined ISRO on its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle project, towards which he contributed in mission planning, design, integration and analysis. He has held various responsibilities during his stint in ISRO, finally going on to head India’s space agency.

At ISRO, he completed his PhD in aerospace engineering from IIT-Bombay, in 2006.

Dr Sivan, who takes over from Dr A S Kiran Kumar on Monday, January 15, for a three-year term, is only the second rocket scientist after G Madhavan Nair to head ISRO.

MAGE: Dr Sivan’s family home in Sarakkalvilai village. He comes here regularly to attend family functions and for the Bhadrakali Amman puja. Photograph: A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com

Sarakkalvilai falls on the outskirts of Nagercoil, which is the headquarters of Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu. All of a sudden this small village has become the centre of attraction for people near and far, thanks to its famous son.

“Take the next right and it is at the end of the road,” says a villager, and as you reach the house you realise it is as unpretentious as the man who grew up there.

Dr Sivan’s sister-in-law Saraswathi lives in the family house with her daughter. “My eldest daughter got married five months ago and Sivan had come for the function,” she says, her eyes glowing with happiness.

Since the announcement about his appointment, people have been coming in droves to congratulate her, and her face beams with pride.

“I was married 30 years ago into this family and at that time he was already working for ISRO in Thiruvananthapuram. He used to live in a lodge then. He comes home for festivals and family functions,” says Saraswathi.

The conversation is interrupted when former Tamil Nadu Congress president Kumari Ananthan lands up with a dozen supporters to congratulate her.

One of the men who comes along with Ananthan hands her a book with the message, “Please give it to him when he comes next.” Another hands her a monthly magazine.

“He comes here every year for the Badrakali Amman puja which takes place in April-May,” adds his sister-in-law.

“He comes with his family, offers prayers and leaves the same day. He always comes for all family functions. When he is with the family he is always smiling and joking. He never calls, but his wife calls regularly and keeps in touch with us,” Sarawathi says.

“He was a class topper from school to college,” says Dr Sivan’s uncle who lives in the house opposite.

“He was a brilliant student and never went for tuitions or private classes. His father used to pluck mangoes and young Sivan used to go to the market to sell it. He was a helpful child,” the uncle adds.

The school Dr Sivan studied at is also opposite the family house. The retired PT master there recalls him clearly. “He was five years my junior in school, I remember him as a very quiet boy.”

“I too was five years his junior,” another villager pipes in. “You know the final exams used to come during harvest time. His father used to be in the field while Sivan sat on the lower branch of a tree with his books, studying, keeping one eye on the harvest, and run if his father called. He was always studying.”

“When Sivan and I were in school we had a very good headmaster,” the villager adds. “That headmaster planted many trees in the school compound and made every class in charge of a few trees. In the morning, when we came to school, the first thing we did was to water the trees and only after that did we attend school.”

“Kanyakumari is basically an agricultural district,” an elderly villager points out. “Apart from coir, there was no industry here. We all survived on farming. It’s rich fertile soil and there is plenty of water. Paddy, bananas, coconuts, mangoes, rubber is grown here.”

“Sivan was exceptional,” the elderly gent adds, “while he helped his father in the field he continued studying every free moment.”

“As there was only a primary school here we went to nearby Valankumaravilai for our SSC (Class 10). Those days there was no 12th standard. As there was no bus facility we walked.”

A colleague from ISRO, who retired a decade ago and did not want to be named for this feature, recalls, “He (Sivan) would go home only to sleep. He is extremely hard-working and totally focused on his work. He was not only the first graduate from his family, he was also the first graduate from his village.”

FILE PHOTO::: New Delhi: Renowned scientist K. Sivan has been appointed as the new Chairman of ISRO, by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on Wednesday, January 10, 2017. PTI Photo **                                                

“He is a disciplined taskmaster,” says D Karthikesan, former director of the ISRO Propulsion Complex in Mahindragiri, Tamil Nadu.

“He likes to keep everything on schedule and works with a deadline,” adds Karthikesan. “If he thinks there is a problem somewhere he will go and talk to the people actually working on the project, and never limit himself to seniors in the organisation.”

“Though he is a hard taskmaster,” the former ISRO scientist points out, “he is also extremely generous and always looks after the welfare of the people working under him. So people work hard for him.”

“He is a bold decision-maker,” says Karthikesan. “Where others may hesitate wondering if it would work or not, he will say it will work and will do it.”

“Though he followed the schedule strictly,” adds Karthikesan, “he also made sure that all parameters are met at every stage. Whether it is quality or safety, he made sure every parameter was up to the mark before proceeding, and yet kept a tight schedule.”

Dr Sivan has two sons. The elder one has finished his BTech, the younger son is in college.

The school Dr Sivan studied in was built over 60 years ago. “We need to pull it down and build another,” says a villager. A government-run school, the land was given free by Dr Sivan’s uncle.

The village still does not have a bus service, a fact the villagers highlighted to Kumari Ananthan, the Congress politician. Nor does it have a middle, high or higher secondary school.

K Sivan’s ascent bears an uncanny resemblance to another ISRO scientist who was born in a fishing village in Ramanathapuram, also in Tamil Nadu.

That scientist, of course, went on to become the most beloved President this Republic has had.

Source….A.Ganesh Nadar in http://www.rediff.com


Which is the ‘Best Police Station’ in India? This Coimbatore Station Bagged the Award!

The New Year brings with it new beginnings and felicitations of various kinds – best movies of the year gone by, television series, best designers etc.

Now here is an award with a difference – Tamil Nadu’s RS Puram police station, in Coimbatore city, won the award for the ‘Best Police Station’ in the country in the category of SMART Police Stations, an initiative by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

SMART Police (S-Sensitive and Strict; M-Modern with mobility; A- Alert and Accountable; R- Reliable and Responsive; T- Trained and Techno-savvy) was a concept that was introduced by Prime Minister Modi at the 49th annual conference Directors General/Inspectors General held in Guwahati in November 2014.

Station House Officer T Jothi, Inspector (law and order), received the award from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at the All India Conference of Director Generals/Inspector Generals of Police held at BSF Academy Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh.

The Union Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh presenting the medals and trophies after inaugurating the three-day All-India Conference of Director Generals / Inspector Generals of Police, 2017, at the BSF Academy, in Tekanpur near Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh on January 06, 2018.
The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, the National Security Advisor, Shri Ajit Doval the Union Home Secretary, Shri Rajiv Gauba and other Senior Officers are also seen.













This is yet another feather in the station’s cap, the RS Puram station has an exclusive room for visitors, a waiting hall, investigation room, a receptionist cabin, treated drinking water and a ramp for the disabled. The all-woman police (east) has set up a crèche for the kids accompanying petitioners.

Station House Officer Jothi attributed the station winning the award to the teamwork of Tamil Nadu police. “No single person was responsible for the award. It is a team from the top to the constable level,” he said. “The station has been chosen as the best in the nation based on 80 parameters including basic amenities, crime detection, property recovery, cleanliness and citizen-friendly,” he said, as per a report in DNA.

The Hindu reported, following instructions from the State police headquarters, the Coimbatore City Police sent a file containing the initiatives it had taken in the past for effective and friendly policing. Based on the proposal a Home Ministry team visited the city and interacted with people who fell under the police jurisdiction limits.

Some of the parameters considered for the assessment include the rate of crime detection, execution of warrants, recovery of properties, enforcement of local laws and special acts, preventive arrests and detention under Goondas Act.

Here are the other stations that made it to the top 10 list released by the Ministry:

1. R.S.Puram PS, Coimbatore
2. Panjagutta, Hyderabad
3. Gudamba, Lucknow
4. Dhupguri, Jalpaiguri
5. K4 PS, Anna Nagar, Chennai
6. Banbhoolpara, Nainital
7. Ghiror, Mainpuri
8. Rishikesh, Dehradun
9. Valapattanam, Kannur
10. Kirti Nagar, Delhi

Source….Vidya Raja in  http://www.thebetterindia.com


108 ஆம்புலன்ஸ் சேவை தெரியும்… `515 கணேசன் கார் சேவை’ தெரியுமா?

108 ஆம்புலன்ஸ் சேவை நமக்கெல்லாம் தெரிந்திருக்கும்… `515 கணேசன் இலவச கார் சேவை’ தெரியுமா? தமிழ்நாட்டின் ஒரு மூலையில் இருக்கும் ஆலங்குடியில் இருந்துகொண்டு மகத்தான மக்கள் சேவை செய்துகொண்டிருக்கிறார் கணேசன். வயது 70-ஐத் தாண்டிவிட்டது. ஆனாலும், `உதவி’ என்று யார் கேட்டாலும், காரை எடுத்துக்கொண்டு ஓடுகிறார். பிரசவம், அவசர சிகிச்சை… எனப் பல உதவிகளுக்காக 46 வருடங்களாக ஒரு ஆம்புலன்ஸ் போலவே செயல்பட்டுக்கொண்டிருக்கிறது கணேசனின் அம்பாசிடர் கார்.








புதுக்கோட்டையிலிருந்து சுமார் 21 கிலோமீட்டர் தொலைவில் இருக்கிறது ஆலங்குடி. ஊரில் இறங்கி, `கணேசன்…’ என்ற பெயரைச் சொன்னால் யாருக்கும் தெரியவில்லை. `515…’ என்றால் உடனே அடையாளம் தெரிந்துகொள்கிறார்கள். ஒரு டீக்கடைக்காரரிடம் `515 கணேசன்’ குறித்து விசாரித்தோம்… “நேரம் காலமெல்லாம் பார்க்க மாட்டாரு. உதவினு யார் கேட்டாலும், காரை எடுத்துக்கிட்டுக் கிளம்பிடுவாரு. அக்கம்பக்கத்துல இருக்குற புதுக்கோட்டை, தஞ்சாவூர், சிவகங்கை ஊருங்க மட்டும் இல்லை… சமயத்துல வெளி மாநிலங்களுக்குக்கூட அவரோட கார் பறக்கும். `கையில் காசு இல்லை’னு சொன்னா, `எனக்குப் பணம் முக்கியம் இல்லை’ம்பாரு. அவர்கிட்ட இருக்குற பணத்தைச் செலவு செஞ்சு உதவி செய்வாரு 515. (அவரை `515’ என்றுதான் ஊர் மக்கள் அழைக்கிறார்கள்). பெத்த புள்ளைக்கு அஞ்சு ரூபா தர்றதுக்கு யோசிக்கிற இந்தக் காலத்துல இப்படியும் ஒரு மனுஷர். சாதாரண ஓட்டு வீட்டுலதான் குடியிருக்காரு. `ரேஷன் கடை அரிசியும் பருப்பும் இருந்தாப் போதும்… எங்க வயிறு நிறைஞ்சிடும்’னு சொல்லிட்டு வர்றவங்களுக்கு எந்த எதிர்பார்ப்பும் இல்லாம உதவி செய்வார். இவரோட நல்ல எண்ணத்துக்கு ஏராளமான பரிசுகள் கிடைச்சிருக்கு. வேற என்ன… ஏகப்பட்ட பட்டங்கள், சான்றிதழ்கள்தான். இவ்வளவு ஏன்… அவர் தெருவுல இருக்குறவங்க, அவங்களோட வீட்டுக்கு வழி சொல்லணும்னா எப்படிச் சொல்வாங்க தெரியுமா… `515 வீட்டுலருந்து நாலு வீடு தள்ளி எங்க வீடு இருக்கு’, `515 வீட்டுக்கு எதிர்ல எங்க வீடு…’ இப்படியெல்லாம்தான் சொல்வாங்க’’ என்று சொல்லி கணேசன் மீதான எதிர்பார்ப்பைக் கூட்டுகிறார் டீக்கடைக்காரர்.

பல வருடங்களாக இப்படி ஒரு சேவை செய்ய வேண்டும் என்றால் ஒன்று, அவர் பெரும் பணம் படைத்தவராக இருக்க வேண்டும். அல்லது, ட்ரஸ்ட் ஏதாவது நடத்தி, நிதி திரட்டி, அதைக்கொண்டு உதவி செய்பவராக இருக்க வேண்டும்.’ – இப்படியெல்லாம் யோசித்தபடி வழி விசாரித்துக்கொண்டு `515’ வீட்டுக்குச் சென்றோம். நாம் நினைத்ததுபோல அவர் வீடு பெரிய பங்களா எல்லாம் இல்லை. சாதாரண பிளாஸ்டிக் கூரை வேய்ந்த எளிமையான வீடு. வீட்டுக்கருகில் அழகழகான குட்டிக் குட்டிச் செடிகள்… சிவப்பு நிறத்தில் சாயம் பூசப்பட்ட தரை. மலர்ந்த முகத்தோடு நம்மை வரவேற்றார் கணேசன். நரைத்த தலை, லுங்கி, சாதாரணமான ஒரு சட்டை. `இவரா மக்கள் சேவை செய்பவர்?’ என்று ஆச்சர்யமாக இருந்தது. நம்மை அறிமுகப்படுத்திக்கொண்டதுமே சரளமாகப் பேச ஆரம்பித்தார் கணேசன்…

“ஆலங்குடிதான் எனக்குச் சொந்த ஊர். அப்பா ஒரு மாட்டுத் தரகர். என் சின்ன வயசுலயே அப்பா, அம்மா தவறிட்டாங்க. அப்புறம் நானா ஏதேதோ வேலை பார்த்து, கொஞ்சம் கொஞ்சமா முன்னேறினேன். வாழ்க்கையில முன்னேறிக் காண்பிச்சவங்க எல்லாருக்குமே மனைவிதான் உதவியா இருப்பாங்க. எனக்கும் என் மனைவி தெய்வானைதான் எல்லாமே. எங்களுக்கு அஞ்சு பெண் குழந்தைங்க… எல்லாருக்கும் கல்யாணமாகிடுச்சு…’’ என்றவரிடம், “அது ஏன் உங்களை `515’-னு எல்லாரும் கூப்பிடுறாங்க?’’ என்று கேட்டோம்.

அது, 1968-ம் வருஷம். ரோட்ல நடந்து போய்க்கிட்டு இருந்தேன். ஒருத்தர், தன்னோட மனைவியை ஒரு தள்ளுவண்டியிலவெச்சு தள்ளிக்கிட்டுப் போய்க்கிட்டிருந்தாரு. ஏன்னு பார்த்தப்போதான் தெரிஞ்சுது… அந்தப் பொண்ணு நிறைமாத கர்ப்பிணினு. என் மனசு உடைஞ்சு போயிடுச்சு. வீட்டுக்கு வந்து, என் மனைவி தெய்வானைகிட்ட விஷயத்தைச் சொன்னேன். `இந்த மாதிரி இருக்கறவங்களுக்கு உதவறதுக்கு ஏதாவது பண்ணணும்’னு என் ஆதங்கத்தையும் சொன்னேன். அவங்க, `இதை உங்களால மாத்த முடியுமா… இப்படி கஷ்டப்படுறவங்களுக்கு உங்களால என்ன பண்ண முடியும்’னு கேட்டாங்க. `முடியும்’னு சொன்னேன். நான்வெச்சிருந்த பழைய இரும்புக்கடையை வித்தேன். 17,500 ரூபா கிடைச்சுது. அந்தப் பணத்துல, செகண்ட் ஹேண்ட்ல ஒரு அம்பாசிடர் கார் வாங்கினேன். அந்த காரோட நம்பர் TNZ-515. நான் முதன்முதல்ல வாங்கின காரோட நம்பரையே `515 இலவச சேவை கார்’னு பேரா வெச்சேன். `உதவி’னு கேட்குறவங்களுக்கு, நேரம் காலம் பார்க்காம காரை எடுத்துட்டுப் போய் என்னால ஆனதைச் செய்றேன்…’’ அடக்கத்தோடு சொல்கிறார் கணேசன்.

கிட்டத்தட்ட 46 வருடங்களாக இந்தச் சேவையைச் செய்துவருகிறார் கணேசன். அதற்காக யாரிடமும் பணம் வாங்குவதில்லை. காருக்கு டீசல் போடுவது, அது ரிப்பேர் சரி பார்ப்பது… என அனைத்துச் செலவுகளையும் அவரே பார்த்துக்கொள்கிறார். கார் சேவைக்கு வேளை வராத நேரத்தில், பழைய இரும்பு, தகரம் போன்ற பொருள்களை வாங்கி விற்கும் கடை நடத்துகிறார். இதுவரை 19 அம்பாசிடர் கார்களை வாங்கியிருக்கிறார் கணேசன். ஒரு கார் பழுதாகிவிட்டது, இனி ஓடும் கண்டிஷனில் இல்லை என்று தெரிந்ததுமே அடுத்த காரை வாங்கிவிடுவார். எல்லாமே செகண்ட் ஹேண்ட் கார்கள்தான். அத்தனைக்கும் `515’தான் பெயர். அவரேதான் முதலாளி, அவரேதான் டிரைவர்!

இதுவரை இரண்டாயிரத்துக்கும் மேற்பட்ட கர்ப்பிணிகளை பிரசவத்துக்கு ஏற்றிச் சென்றிருக்கிறது, விபத்துக்கு ஆளான நான்காயிரத்துக்கும் மேற்பட்டோரைச் சுமந்து சென்றிருக்கிறது 515 கார். அது மட்டுமல்ல… பணம் இல்லாமல், சடலத்தை ஊருக்குக் கொண்டு போக முடியாமல் தவிப்பவர்களுக்கும் இவரின் கார் உதவிக்கு ஓடி வரும்… இலவசமாக! அப்படி, இது வரை 5,400 சடலங்களை பல ஊர்களுக்குக் கொண்டு சேர்த்திருக்கிறது. கொச்சின், பெங்களூரு, தூத்துக்குடி… என கணேசன் பயணித்த ஊர்கள் எண்ணற்றவை. நாம் அவரைப் பார்ப்பதற்கு சற்று முன்னர்தான் திருநெல்வேலி வரை ஒரு கர்ப்பிணியை அழைத்துச் சென்று, விட்டுவிட்டு வந்திருந்தார்.

நாம் அவரிடம் பேசிக்கொண்டிருந்தபோதே செல்போனில் அவருக்கு அழைப்பு! உள்ளே போனவர், கார் சாவியுடன் வெளியே வந்தார். `நீங்க என் மனைவி தெய்வானைகிட்ட பேசிக்கிட்டு இருங்க. பக்கத்துல ஒரு பொண்ணுக்குப் பிரசவ வலியாம்… ஆஸ்பத்திரியில விட்டுட்டு வந்துடுறேன்.’’ நம் பதிலை எதிர்பாராமல், காரை எடுத்துக்கொண்டு விரைந்தார் கணேசன். `காலம் மாறினாலும், சிலரின் குணங்கள் மாறாது’ என்பார்கள். உலகெங்கும் நாம் அறியாத எத்தனையோ கணேசன்கள், பிரதிபலன் பார்க்காமல் யாருக்கோ உதவி செய்துகொண்டுதான் இருக்கிறார்கள். 515 கணேசனின் சேவையை மனமார வாழ்த்தலாம், வணங்கலாம்!

Source….Priyadharshni in http://www.vikatan.com



God on the Runway ….

As part of the custom, the idols along with temple elephants are taken to Shangumugam beach for the ritualistic bath.

For two days in a year, the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport halts its flight operations for five hours on the basis of a ‘Notice to Airmen’ (NOTAM).

Respecting a centuries old temple tradition, the airport runway makes way for a grand procession.

Saturday is one of the two days in a year that sees members of the Travancore royal family, temple priests, police, and even elephants walk down the runway, as part of the temple procession. Hundreds of people also escorted the idols past the 3400-metre runway.

Flights have been halted between 4pm and 9pm at Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.


The ‘Arat’ procession marks the conclusion of the Painkuni festival and the Alpassi festival. Painkuni and Alpassi are references to Tamil months. While Painkuni is in April, Alpassi is in October.

Arat is the ritualistic bath procession of temple idols at Sree Padmanabha Swami temple in Thiruvananthapuram. The procession, which began at 5pm, crossed the runway at 6.30 pm.

As part of the custom, the idols along with temple elephants are taken to Shangumugam beach for the ritualistic bath. The procession sees royal family members wearing traditional attire and carrying swords. All priests along with royal family members take a dip into the sea three times. The idols are also given a ritualistic bath.

The procession returns to the temple on the same route, accompanied by people carrying traditional fire lamps.

They have to, however, ensure that they clear the runway by 8.45pm.

“The ritual was started centuries ago when the Travancore royal family ruled here. Even after the airport was established, the procession continued to pass through the runway. When the airport was established in 1932, it was under the Royal Flying Club. Since then, the runway was open for these processions. Even after it was converted into an international airport in 1991, the practice continued as the tradition is very important to this place,” an airport official told TNM.

Since the runway is part of traditional arat procession route, the Airport Authority of India issues passes to those who participate in it. Only those who have a pass can enter the route and cross the runway to head to the beach.

“There are strict restrictions inside the airport area. CISF officials guarding the area allow only people with passes. We issue the pass only to people in the list given by temple authorities,” he added.

NOTAM is issued a week before these two dates in the year, so that all the international flights can change their schedule. NOTAM is a notice issued to pilots or airline operators before flights, alerting them of the circumstances or changes in aeronautical facilities or about local procedures that affect safety.









Source….Haritha John in http://www.the newsminute.com




The Fascinating History of the Iconic Mysore Sandal Soap…

A soap that has held a special place in the hearts of Indians for more than a century, Mysore Sandal Soap’s legacy is intricately interwoven with Karnataka’s history and heritage.

There is something beautifully Indian about the fragrance of sandalwood. Sweet, warm, rich and woody, it is a scent that is deeply interwoven with the nation’s history and heritage. This is, perhaps, one of the many reasons why the Mysore Sandal Soap has held a special place in the hearts of Indians for more than a century.

Here’s the fascinating story behind India’s most-loved sandal soap.

One hundred and one years ago, in May 1916, Krishna Raja Wodiyar IV (the then Maharaja of Mysore) and Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya (the then Diwan of Mysore), set up the Government Sandalwood Oil factory at Mysore for sandalwood oil extraction.

The primary goal of the project was to utilise the excess stocks of the fragrant wood that had piled up after World War I halted the export of sandalwood from the kingdom of Mysore (the largest producer of sandalwood in the world at the time).

Two years later, the Maharaja was gifted a rare set of sandalwood oil soaps. This gave him the idea of producing similar soaps for the masses which he immediately shared with his bright Diwan. In total agreement about the need for industrial development in the state, the enterprising duo (who would go on to plan many projects whose benefits are still being reaped) immediately got to work.

A stickler for perfection, Visveswaraya wanted to produce a good quality soap that would also be affordable for the public. He invited technical experts from Bombay (now Mumbai) and made arrangements for soap making experiments on the premises of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Interestingly, the IISc had been set up in 1911 due to the efforts of another legendary Diwan of Mysore, K Sheshadri Iyer!

From the talent involved in the research happening at IISc, he identified a bright, young industrial chemist called Sosale Garalapuri Shastry and sent him to England to fine tune his knowledge about making soap. Affectionately remembered by many as Soap Shastry, the hardworking scientist would go on to play a key role in making Visveswaraya’s dream a reality.

After acquiring the required knowledge, Shastry quickly returned to Mysore where the Maharaja and his Diwan were waiting anxiously. He standardized the procedure of incorporating pure sandalwood oil in soaps after which the government soap factory was established near K R Circle in Bengaluru.

The same year, another oil extraction factory was set up at Mysore to ensure a steady supply of sandalwood oil to the soap making unit. In 1944, another unit was established in Shivamoga. Once the soap hit the market, it quickly became popular with the public, not just within the princely state but across the country.

However, Shastry was not done yet. He also created a perfume from distilled sandalwood oil. Next, he decided to give the Mysore Sandal Soap a unique shape and innovative packaging. In those days, soaps would normally be rectangular in shape and packed in thin, glossy and brightly coloured paper. To help it stand out from the rest, he gave the soap an oval shape before working on a culturally significant packaging.

Cognizant of the Indian love of jewels, Shastry designed a rectangular box resembling a jewellery case— with floral prints and carefully chosen colours. At the centre of the design was the unusual logo he chose for the company, Sharaba (a mythical creature from local folklore with the head of an elephant and the body of a lion. A symbol of courage as well as wisdom, the scientist wanted it to symbolise the state’s rich heritage.

The message ‘Srigandhada Tavarininda’ (that translates to ‘from the maternal home of sandalwood’) was printed on every Mysore Sandal Soapbox. The aromatic soap itself was wrapped in delicate white paper, similar to the ones used by jewellery shops to pack jewels.

This was followed by a systematic and well-planned advertising campaign with cities across the country carrying vibrant signboards in neon colours. Pictures of the soapbox were noticeable everywhere, from tram tickets to matchboxes. Even a camel procession was held to advertise the soap in Karachi!

The out-of-the-box campaign led to rich results. The soap’s demand in India and abroad touched new heights, with even royal families of foreign nations ordering it for themselves. Another important turning point for the company was when, in 1980, it was merged with the oil extraction units (in Mysuru and Shivamoga) and incorporated into one company called Karnataka Soaps and Detergent Limited (KSDL).

However, in the early 1990s, the state-run firm did face a rough patch due to multinational competition, declining demand and lack of coordination between sales and production departments. As losses started rising, it was given a rehabilitation package by BIFR (Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction) and KSDL grabbed the lifeline with both hands.

The company streamlined its way of functioning and soon it had started showing profits again. Thanks to rising profits year after year, it had soon wiped out all its losses and repaid its entire debt to BIFR by 2003. The company also successfully diversified into other soaps, incense sticks, essential oils, hand washes, talcum powder etc.

Nonetheless, the Mysore Sandal Soap remains the company’s flagship product, the only soap in the world made from 100% pure sandalwood oil (along with other natural essential oils such as patchouli, vetiver, orange, geranium and palm rose). Due to tremendous brand recall and loyalty associated with the soap, it also bags a prized position on the shopping lists of visiting NRIs.

In 2006, the iconic was awarded a Geographical Indicator (GI) tag — that means anyone can make and market a sandalwood soap but only KSDL can rightfully claim it to be a ‘Mysore Sandalwood’ soap.

Thanks to this near-monopolistic presence in the market for sandalwood bathing soaps, KSDL has also become one of Karnataka’s few public sector enterprises that turns consistent profits. In fact, the company registered its highest gross sales turnover (of ₹476 crore) in 2015-16.

Such is the legacy of sandalwood and this earthy, oval-shaped soap in the state that even Karnataka’s thriving film industry calls itself Sandalwood!

Today, there are a multitude of branded soaps in the market but Mysore Sandal Soap continues to hold a distinctive place among all of them. Its production figures continue to rise, even as the availability of sandalwood is on the decline.

To counter this, KSDL has been running a ‘Grow More Sandalwood’ programme for farmers, that provides affordable sandalwood saplings along with a buy-back guarantee.Working in partnership with the forest department, it is also working to ensure that for every sandalwood removed for extraction, a sandalwood sapling is planted to replace it.

The story of Mysore Sandal Soap and its enduring appeal is an inspiration not just for Indian PSUs but for the entire FMCG sector. Here’s hoping that its future is aromatic as its history!

Source….www.the betterindia.com