Monday, August 22, 2011

Immortal moments

Immortal moments

Divya S

“The moments we missed have been immortalised” wrote Jacob Punnoose, DGP in the visitor’s diary at the exhibition. Pictures that awed, shocked and delighted you and then sank into oblivion were brought back to the life at Capital Lens View, the press photographer’s photo exhibition that began on 11th August at VJT hall, Palayam .
The exhibition was organised by the Public Relations Department and Thirivananthapuram Press Club, in association with Kerala Chalachithra Academy. More than a hundred renowned photographs by forty four press photographers were on exhibit. Historical moments, disasters, the marginalised society, golden memories of political events and aspects of nature were caught on the canvas. Photograph in which Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma shakes hand to Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of former American President John F. Kennedy, caught everybody’s attention.
Say cheese: Oommen Chandy inaugurates the exhibition by clicking the camera
  “Most people won’t get the chance to see good photographs that appear in the news papers that they don’t subscribe. This exhibition is for such people. This would also inspire younger press photographers”, says Ratheesh Kumar C., SenoirPhotographer at Hindu .
The exhibition inaugurated by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy ended on 14th August. A workshop by eight prominent photographers was also held during the exhibition.

They make us proud

They make us proud


Dr. Babu Gopalakrishnan hails from Ponkunnam, Kottayam. He did his M.Phil in American literature secured his doctorate in Film Semiotics from JNU. He has worked for the Observer and Pioneer and was the former vice chairman of the Kerala State Chalachithra Academy. He then wrote for The Sunday Indian. Dr.Babu was member of the Kerala University Senate. Recently he was appointed as the director of C-DIT.


 K.A. Beena is News Editor at Doordarshan. She began her career in Kerala Kaumudi before working at Mathrubhoomi. She has written several books the first of which was Beena Kanda Russia. In 1991 she joined the Indian Information Service and was also News Editor at AIR. She has now received a national award for the script of her radio documentary Swapnakoodu. She is a columnist in Malayala Manorama online and writes for weeklies like Mathrubhoomi, Madhyamam and Kalakaumudi.

Biju Mathew is Programme Co-ordinator at Ananthapuri FM. He has also worked as Senior Programme Executive at All India Radio. He has won several national and international awards for the scripts as well as for the production of his radio documentaries. Recently the United Nations Economic and Social Council for Asia Pacific recognised his script on disaster management. It is to be aired in radio channels across the globe.

Never say die

Never say die:  Tea break after a hectic day’s work.
May this Onam augur well for them !

The voyage of Sree Chithira Thirunal Library

The voyage of  Sree Chithira Thirunal Library
Pooja Jayan
Sree chithira Thirunal library, an integral part of Trivandrum’s cultural heritage is nearing its Centenary. The man behind this venture was Sree Kesava Pillai. His passion for knowledge and the commitment he showed in setting up the library earned him the title “Vayanashala Kesava Pillai”. Initially Kesava Pillai setup a library in his house with the collection of a few books which later blossomed into the library which we see today. Now the library is at Vanchiyoor on a piece of land given by the royal family.
            The library was started in the name of Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the last ruler of Travancore, when he  was just two years old, as a token of respect to the royal family. Many eminent personalities of the time such as C.V. Raman Pillai , Dr.Kunjan Pillai(chief secretary), M.Rajarajavarma (Devaswom Commissioner) and R.Krishnapillai(Head Translator) were instrumental in developing it into a full fledged library. At that time there were only a few libraries in Kerala. Those libraries were named after Lalalajpath Rai ,Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das , Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, A.R. Rajaraja Varma, Kerala Varma Valia Koyi Thampuran and so on. Today SCT library is being looked after by a nineteen member committee including a member from the royal family. Former chief secretary R. Ramachandran Nair is the present president and Kesava Pillai’s son Bhanuvikraman Nair is the secretary.
            With the proud collection of over one lakh books, in the library now, this library is a boon to research scholars, academicians and students across the country. One can delve into this   vast ocean of knowledge and pick up pearls of information, education and entertainment.
            Public libraries in Trivandrum ,Trissur, Kottayam  and Kollam may not have as much  Malayalam books as in Sree Chithira Thirunal library, says Haridas, Chief librarian.
            The library is a repository of palm leaf scriptures and old publications. The well preserved old publications include journals like Sudhrama, Lekshmibhai, Sarada and Vidya Vinodini. It has also publications in Hindi, English and Sanskrit. The library has a huge collection of ‘panchagams” which makes it distinct from other libraries. The library enables the present to communicate with the past and imparts the profound ideas of the doyens of the past.
            Another noteworthy factor of this library is its contributions to the Malayalam theatre. The tradition of writing a new drama every year and staging it on stage on the occasion of its anniversary celebrations continues to this day.
            Sree Chithira Thirunaal Library played a pivotal role in bringing women to limelight through its plays. Educated women were persuaded to perform on stage thereby creating a notable revolution in our cultural fabric. As elsewhere till then male actors used to do the role in Malayalam theatre. High court judge Anna Chandy, Collector Omana Kunjamma, Parvathy Mills owner B.Radhadevi, Government Secretary Aananthavalli Amma were some of the prominent women who used to act in those anniversary plays.
            The library is now passing through difficult days.  Need for more space for accommodating books and inadequate funds are two problems that require urgent remedy. With the advent of the much hyped internet boom there is a perception  that the future of libraries is bleak. Several academicians and industry pundits contribute to this perception. Will Sree Chithira Thirunal Library be able to withstand the onslaught of the internet revolution and its byproduct the e-book?

Sri Padmanabha V/s Supreme Court

Sri Padmanabha V/s Supreme Court 
Karthika C

 Trivandrum: The news about the treasure trove in the vaults of Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple has bowled over not only Keralites but also people from other parts of the world. Plenty of stories embellished with colour and spice have been spreading from the very first day of stock-taking. Believers and atheists got to their feet in two groups and voiced their opinions. The discussions and controversies are still raging. The intervention of the Supreme Court has given the controversy a new dimension. With the entry of astrologers to the scene to conduct Devaprashnam the debate has taken a new turn.

Interestingly the findings of the Devaprashnam and the Supreme Court order contradict each other. It was found in Devaprashnam that the opening of the B vault would have disastrous consequence including the extinction of the family of the person who opens it.  Also, the disclosure about the details of the immense wealth has made Lord Padmanabha unhappy.
                Now the opening of the vault has turned into a Sri Padmanabha versus the Supreme Court issue. All are curious to know whether this will lead to an open fight between the God and the law of the land.
                Public opinion as to the credibility of the Devaprashnam is divided. A number of respondents especially the youth expressed skepticism about the very idea of the Devaprashnam. Saji A. S., a journalist trainee with Kerala Kaumudi said that the Devaprashnam lacked scientific basis.
                With a reference to the yet-to-be-opened B basement, the astrologers have said that the aura of the temple has a close link with the vault and opening it could unleash the wrath of the deity. This could upset the very administrative set-up of the country. Taking the enormous treasures out of the temple complex would be ominous.
                Sheethal, a Post Graduate in English Literature said "everyone knows that Sri Padmanabha Temple is of national significance and after the discovery of huge mass of gold and other wealth, Intelligence Department has cautioned against terror attack. The judgment of the Devaprashnam is no different".
                Students of journalism, Archana and Beena spoke in support of the custom. Archana is of the opinion that the stocktaking must not be resumed as seen in the thamboolaprasnam. Stocktaking would create more problems, she believes." The world knows that it is a priceless treasure. So there is no meaning in collecting details again. The view of the royal family must be taken in to consideration", she opined.
                A group of archeology students also spoke in favour of the Devaprashnam. Such rituals have been conducted in temples for years and are an integral part of Hindu customs. Even the daily chores of the temples are conducted in accordance with Devaprashnam.
                Arya S. Nair, another journalism student believes that there is always a chance of the priests getting influenced by the news in the media and approaching the question with prejudice. Engineering graduate Dwija believes that this treasure symbolizes the tradition and culture of our country. “It should be estimated and the stocktaking should continue."
                Now everyone is eager to know whether the  will of the deity or the judgment of the Supreme Court will prevail.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

108: The life saving number

108: The life saving number
Haridas K C

                Road accidents, contagious diseases, natural calamities, suicide attempts... whatever be the emergency, just call 108 free ambulance services and within minutes you will be in safe hands. The 108 ambulance service launched on May 19th 2010 at Thiruvananthapuram is creating a new history in emergency medical assistance.

                The 108 ambulance service is a joint venture of NRHM and Kerala Emergency Medical Services Project (KEMP) of the Kerala Health Department. As part of the pilot project, the twenty five ambulances in the district have been divided into eight clusters. These ambulances costing about Rs.33 lakh apiece are equipped with sophisticated emergency medical devices like Ventilator Defibrillator, Foetal Monitor, Pulse ox meter, Suction Apparatus and so on. Technical assistance has been provided by ZIQITZA Health Care, Mumbai.

                All technical facilities like receiving calls, locating and informing ambulance are completely controlled by a technical unit working within the premises of Techno Park. Automatic vehicle tracking system, GPRS facility and voice logger are the specialties of 108 Ambulance.
                So far, 108 has handled about 24,000 emergency cases of which 42% were accident cases, 17%   cardiac problems and 10% respiratory system related issues.  Every day they deal with approximately 175 cases. But there are instances of fake calls which disturb the smooth flow of. Recently it was decided to extend this service to Alappuzha as well.
Remember: Just dial 108 if you see an accident on your way home… You may save a valuable life.

The never ending misery

The  never ending misery
Beena A
                You can’t reach your destination on time if you travel through Ulloor junction during peak hours.Ulloor junction is a major point in the city which is often haunted by traffic congestion. The main reason for this is its proximity to the Medical College, Technopark, Kerala University, Kinfra, Akkulam Lake and several other crucial destinations. Thousands of people pass through this junction daily.
                                   Ulloor traffic conjunction

              The narrowness of the roads and their pathetic condition also contributes to the traffic congestion. “The roads have not been widened or properly maintained to keep up with the swelling number of vehicles”, a traffic official said. The plan for widening the roads had to be withheld due to strong protest from the shop owners and the passengers suffer.
One wonders why such a bottle necked area doesn’t have traffic lights. Ambulances rushing to and from Medical College may be one reason for not installing a traffic light in the junction, said the policeman. A satisfactory solution to this problem can be found only if the roads are widened.

             Lack of bus bays is another major reason for traffic congestion in Ulloor, the cop added. K.S.R.T.C. drivers completely ignore the ‘line traffic system’ meant to ensure proper traffic movement, the officer opined.

             There are several instances of a patient dying on his way to the Medical College, missing an interview at Technopark or an examination in Kerala University due to the traffic block at Ulloor junction.
When will this misery end? No one knows for sure...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Guardian of a lost tradition

Guardian of a lost tradition
An interview with the princess by Pooja Jayan

                Aswathy Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi is a member of the much revered Travancore Royal family. She’s the niece of His Highness Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma , the last ruler of Travancore and of Sri Uthradam Thirunam Marthanda Varma the present head of the royal family. As a multitasker she has distinguished herself as a writer and a remarkable speaker. A woman of substance, her simplicity graces her personality.  At the outset she told our representative that she would not say anything on the Padmanabha Swami temple issue.

Excerpts from the interview:
In your opinion what are the major differences between democracy and monarchy?

                Monarchy is free from the time based urgency faced by democracy Monarchy has continuity which provides ample time to bring about planned progress.

                  In monarchy the power is entrusted with a dynasty or a family and it goes on and on...whereas in democracy people are given the opportunity to vote and change their representatives. I think corruption and bribery were relatively negligible under monarchy, while under democracy if newspaper reports can be believed corruption is rampant..

 What do you think is the role of media in the society?
Her Highness Aswathy Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bai
                Unfortunately media has become a transmitter of negative information. If you start your day with newspapers you imbibe a lot of negative vibes, so it’s better to keep it aside for sometime and read it later. Media has a great social responsibility; same as that of a teacher.

 It is often said that character assassination in media is on an alarming rate. What is your opinion on this?

                It is true that media can make or mar people. Irresponsible reporting has spoiled many lives. For instance during Mumbai terrorist attacks, television journalists were making   running commentaries on the VVIP presence in a particular portion of the building. Along with the rest of the world the terrorists saw the reports and went directly to that area and shot the people inside. VVIP had been shifted to a safe place before the terrorists arrived but others in the room lost their life. On such occasions you modus operandi should not be out, it could be disastrous.

First voting experience?

I’ve not voted so far

Your perception of student politics?

                It’s better for students to stay away from politics. Period of studies is vital and involment in politics may lead to loss of focus
Do you regret staying away from limelight?

                Not at all, we are doing our bit by running a number of trusts to keep up help the cause of health, education and other developmental activities.

As a resident of Thiruvananthapuram what are the transformations you have noticed in the city with time?

                I’m so depressed with the present state of the city. Old Thiruvananthapuram was a well knit city and was one the clean cities in India. Today in the name of progress old landmarks are beingdemolished. Thiruvananthapuram has become a ‘city without an identity’.

Your comment on consumerism and commercialization in the city?
                Consumerism and commercialization have taken a heavy toll on quality of life and simplicity of the average trivandrumite has vanished. Nowadays price is proportionate to status. Thiruvananthapuram has become a ‘dependant city’. For instance if lorry strike comes, Thiruvananthapuram will be left starving.

What is your comment on ‘duplication’ of products because of globalization?

                Globalization is a challenge to the identity of the nation. We are going back to slavery through our dependence on foreign goods. Duplication is reasonable if the products are not available in India. Unfortunately even if the same products are available in the Indian market we go after foreign goods as it has become a status quotient.

Your opinion on the ‘card giving culture’ of Keralites aped from the west.

                Father’s day, mother’s day, Valentines Day there is a card for every occasion. It is not our tradition to celebrate these days with cards and gifts. Special day for father and mother is a bit strange. Matha pitha guru daivam.. Our culture says it’s our duty to respect our parents who are a step ahead of god and a special day is not necessary for it.

What are the lifestyle changes you could notice in Trivandrumites ?

                Among Trivandrumites there is an urgency to catch up with the west. In the process of makin g amends we forget to hold on to our roots. Fast-food, western dresses-we are moving far from our cultural heritage I think.

Your advice for the younger generations?

                Advice is something which everyone hates, so I would only like to make some suggestions. Do good, be good and think good...

 ‘...lokasamastha sukhino bhavanthu…’

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Junk heap bothers Govt. offices

Junk heap bothers Govt. offices
Harishma  A S

Trivandrum: The various Government offices in the city suffer immense junk heaps awaiting disposal. The ‘official waste’ includes outdated files, old furniture, vehicles, typewriters, e-wastes like computers and air conditioners. Renovation activities are going on in most of the offices without proper disposal of existing wastes. The waste piles dumped by the side of new files are real bother to employees. The storing of waste in the office corridors and surroundings affects free movement and restricts office space.
                Delay in auction procedures including inviting tenders and clearance time taken by the contractors inevitably lead to accumulation of waste. Even if scraps are auctioned, the non-recyclable ones stay in the offices for a longer time as there are limited needers for them.

                “The unavailability of proper stores and store keepers makes the current situation even worse” said Sreekumar, an official in the General section of the City Corporation.

CBi to develop Snake Venom detector

CBi to develop Snake Venom detector

 Akhila V Krishnan 

Kariavattom: The Centre for Bioinformatics (CBi), University of Kerala, is all set to develop a new biosensor for identifying the snake that bites a person.   Dr. Dileepkumar, a Post Doctoral Fellow in the centre leads the research.
                “India has an enormous variety of both poisonous and non-poisonous snakes. Every year about seventy thousand people die in India due to snake bite. One reason for this is the inability to determine which snake has bitten the victim.  The hospitals give a symptomatic treatment for the patient by giving a poly-venom which is a mixture of anti venoms for four types of snakes. At times, this would fail to neutralize the poison, resulting in the death of the victim” he said.
                “The Snake Venom Detection Biosensor would solve this problem by helping to identify the snake. I hope I could come out with the output in eight months.” Mr. Dileep added.
                This will be another feather in the cap of the Centre for Bioinformatics. The whole department is eagerly awaiting the achievement.

Fad for gold never dips

Fad for gold never dips
Krishnapriya J

The marriage season is here and the brides of Kerala never go gold-less. Jewelers in the city are heavily packed with buyers. Our society seems to run after gold despite the soaring prices and prefer to send their daughters decked with the shining yellow metal, to her groom’s house.  A marriage without gold is almost unthinkable. Traditionally, the marriage season is boom time for gold business and Kerala accounts for 22% of India’s gold consumption annually and India in turn accounts for about one-fifth of the world’s annual gold sales.

                Gold has a hereditary role in the life of our people. The precious yellow metal is dear to them and apart from being a personal asset, gold has become a lifetime investment in the past few years. Even the recent steady increase in gold price hasn’t impacted the total consumption of gold in any way. In fact, the number of people buying gold increases day by day. The price of 8gms gold was Rs.16400/- on the 1st of August; within the past days, the price has sky rocketed touching to 20,000/- .

                Gold’s popularity returns because investors fear inflation and sovereign downgrades and outlook of paper currency in general. All these reasons may not be of much interest to a common man. His lot is to just  keep on worrying as the price shoots up, especially if he has a daughter of marriageable age.

                Mr. Suresh, Showroom Manager of Bhima Jewelers, Trivandrum says, “There has not been any remarkable slowdown in the amount of gold being sold in Bhima even at this heavy rate. In fact, people are in a rush to buy gold a day before the price hikes up again. Another factor behind the increased consumption is the upcoming wedding season.”

                Gold is the most reliable asset and investment as the value of gold never goes down, at least it hasn’t shown any slowdown for the past one year. And that is why young investors are more interested in gold
                There are various attractive schemes introduced by the jewelers to beat the gold price and to induce people to buy gold. ‘Pay now – collect later’ is one  such. If you have a baby girl, you may start saving gold for her wedding by paying a sum of money monthly, yearly or at whatever convenience you wish.  The amount is then converted into gold coins.  You can cash in your savings for gold ornaments for her.

                Advance booking is a similar service. Pay a token advance for the ornaments you like and the jeweler will hold them for you  till you pay the whole sum. An advantage of this advance booking is that the price is calculated as on the date of booking even if there is a price rise in the meantime.

                The artisans who make gold ornaments also say that there is no relative slowdown in the number of people approaching them for ornaments. Rather, there is a slight increase. Some customers are very particular about getting ornaments custom made by artisans than buying them from a jewellery. The quality of gold, comparatively lesser manufacturing costs and traditional designs are what draw them to these artisans. Trust is also a major factor here. The new fad of  one-gram gold shops are also on the  increase, as the gold price shoots up.

                It is the middle class of our society which bears the brunt as gold prices hit record highs.  They are forced to spend the savings of a life time on 10 or 20pavans.

                Even young people who are vociferous about the practice of decking the brides with gold ornaments, sure seem to have no qualms about accepting it  as the most intelligent investment. Individual investors have been flocking to gold in a way they haven’t for at least a few decades. And the longer we worry about stocks, recession, inflation and government bailouts and spending, the higher gold goes. Yet the consumption will never come down, nor will the lust for gold.

Netizen boom impacts media and society

Netizen boom impacts media and society
Harishma A S
Netizen – as the word suggests, refers to a person (citizen) who has active access to internet. The swift rise in netizen population and there interference in web and social networking sites like facebook, twitter and orkut  play a key role  in the decision making on contemporary issues in society.

Graphics: Harishma A. S.
         It is through facebook and twitter campaigns, the community members in London assembled and cleaned the city, disfigured in riots this August. Anna Hazare, the Indian icon who is conducting a crusade  against corruption got almost 2 lakh  supporters in a day for his ‘fast unto death’ campaign through social networking sites. The huge mob insisted that the Government should take action on a faster pace. Now even celebrities from all fields have membership in these networking sites, as it gives a boost to their promotional activities.

                The blogs, video sharing site ‘youtube’, photo sharing websites like ‘picasa’ and ‘flicker’ get several members every hour, as they are excellent platforms to express opinions and creative talents of the common man. The impacts of ‘file sharing’ sites positively serve the purpose of knowledge dissemination, as well as negatively affect the morality of society through blatant exposition of vulgarity. Despite their negativism these sites have wide acceptance among the public.

      ‘Netizen journalism’ will pose great challenges to conventional journalism and it is believed that ‘netizen movements’ are going to dominate the society near future.