Wednesday, December 30, 2009



Bogi. This is the name of a mid January Hindu festival observed in the northern districts of Tamilnadu, Bharat. It falls on the day prior to the Makara Sankranti (Pongal festival). On Bogi day, people heap old and useless household articles on the public throughfare and burn them. This acts as a preparation to welcome a cleaner dawn on Sankranti. This tradition went astray. Old tyres came to be burnt replacing harmless organic waste. Pollution resulted. While motivated groups, using an ever-ready media, kept flooding Hindu society with their harangues on ecology, there was at least one concerned individual: Shri. K.Narayana Rao, a staunch Hindu activist, bent upon putting an end to harmful fumes on Bogi day as well as the indirect attempt to chuck out a healthy tradition. Accordingly, he organized Bogi at the school of which he is Secretary. On this year’s Bogi, the school, Sita Devi Garodia Hindu Vidyalaya, East Tambaram, on the outskirts of Chennai Metro, set a novel but noble convention. Each one of the children, parents and teachers picked a dry leaf of ARASU (pipal) tree and on that they scribbled an evil trait they wish to destroy. Coming in queue, each consigned the leaf to the fire in the Homa Kundam arranged for the occasion inside the school premises.

(Based on a report in the children’s suppliment of Tamil daily DINAMANI,

on February 22,2003).


He might be visually challenged, but this has not deterred the 25-year-old Shri. Buse Gowda of Bangalore, from achieving expertise in Bharatanatyam, the traditional South Indian classical dance. When he was a small boy, a dance teacher had come to a blind school in Bangalore to train some of them for a group dance. The teacher spotted the talent in Gowda and from then on there was no looking back for him. Now Gowda is part of a dance troupe called 'Natyanjali' and has given more than 1,000 performances, both within and outside Bharat. Another blind, Shri. Pradeep Sinha, is also deaf. But sheer persistence, grit and determination, has enabled him to become an assistant at a Braille press in Mumbai. Sinha's communication with others is through an interpreter. Sinha says he goes to the press on his own and does not need the help of others. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman Justice A S Anand presented both Gowda and Sinha with Cavinkare-Ability awards for this year. The awards have been instituted by the Ability Foundation, an NGO, and carry a cash prize of Rs 50,000 and a citation. Naseema Mohammed Amin Hurzuk, a paraplegic from Maharashtra's Kolapur, has won the award for her contribution to the disabled. She has been instrumental in rehabilitating over 8,000 physically challenged children with medical aid and vocational training. She had been awarded Rs 1 lakh in cash and a citation.

(Based on a coverage of a Chennai press meet addressed by the handicapped. Posted in chennaionline on March 17, 2003).


Plug your TV into the WICE box and a fluorescent green menu prompts you to select from live channels, Video-on-Demand (VOD), MP3 music, chat and learning, email and SMS. The joy comes from knowing that you pay only for the TV channels you watch! VOD lets you watch your choice of movie at your convenience. You can fast-forward, rewind or pause, as if it's your own mini-movie theatre. Stunned yet? There's more. Such as unlimited MP3 titles. You can also use the Karaoke function and re-record classics using your own voice. The icing on this huge cake is the email and chat without an Internet connection. When Anupam, Divinet's multilingual software expert (and also the brain behind CDAC's GIST technology), actually sent an email to me on my cellular phone using the TV set I was viewing, I began looking at it as if it were the eighth wonder of the world. The email can be in any Indian language, you can chat online (when you're not actually 'online'), and even see the person you're talking to if you choose video-conferencing. Your email address is, incorporating a unique identification number for every user. Developed by P R Eknath, Sanjay Wandhekar, and B P Narayan -- founder members of CDAC, brains behind India's PARAM-supercomputer, and currently the management team at Divinet Access Technologies Ltd, Pune -- this little gizmo is no larger than an overhead projector. Called the WICE (Window for Information, Communication and Entertainment) Box, or WICEMAN, it is Eknath's brainchild; his dream of creating a generic platform that can run any application. The best thing is, it is a boon to India's Net users. Divinet received USD 150,000 as prize money, thanks to the first E-Biz challenge award instituted by Dubai Internet City for world-class innovative e-business ideas. “We do not have any competitors yet. This technology is the first of its kind", says Narayanan, CEO-MD, Divinet. If it works, our TVs will never be the same again.

(Based on a ‘Rediff on the Net’ news item. Author: Nikita Agarwal. Date: March 20, 2003).


Bharat’s struggle for freedom from the British rule had a lofty, unstated purpose. It was a fight to uphold values. See, for example, what THE HINDU on February 9, 1894, reported : “A poor native heroically resists them (the British soldiers) with a stick in hand and is shot down dead.” It happened like this: A group of British soldiers, on their way from Nilgiris to Secunderabad were waiting at Guntakkal railway station. They spotted two women on their way to their village and chased them with a mischievous intention. The two ran to protect their honour and rushed into the Gatekeeper’s cabin. To save them, Gatekeeper Hampanna locked the cabin and kept the keys with him. The soldiers told him to open the cabin. Hampanna refused. A fisticuff followed. One of the soldiers shot Hampanna, who collapsed and died later. People gathered and caught the culprits. But justice was not meted out. Hampanna’s killer Corporal Ashford was later acquitted by an English Magistrate. THE HINDU published names of donors who contributed towards erecting a memroial for Hampanna. With the money received from readers, a granite tablet was prepared in Poonamalee near Chennai and sent to Guntakkal. The tablet says: “Here lie the remains of Goolapalien Hampanna, the Gatekeeper, who, while defending two Hindu women against a party of European soldiers near the Guntakkal rest camp was shot by one of them on October 4, 1893. He died here on October 5. Raised by European and Indian admirers.”

(Source: A book, ‘THE HUNDRED YEARS OF THE HINDU’ ; Pages 86 – 87).


''Welcome. Please sit down. Would you like some water? Nice to meet you. See you again. Goodbye.'' From the walls of Shambhunath Jha's house, in the vanavasi (wrongly referred to as ‘tribal’) village Ganoda, district Banswada, Rajastan, Bharat, plastered posters vie for attention. But the one that catches the eye is a conversation chart like the one above.The chart doesn't just tell you how to make polite conversation. It also tells you how to do it in Samskritam (Sanskrit). Jha's little daughter rapidly replies to her father's questions, all in Sanskrit. Near the kitchen, the Jha household has put up another chart, this time listing the name of cooking ingredients and food items. ''We use it as a regular glossary. Sanskrit is not our mother tongue, so sometimes we need to look up the chart. But most of the time, we manage without it,'' says Jha proudly. The professor is one of the many residents in Ganoda village who are confident that they can carry on an entire conversation in Samskritam without a problem. The grocery shop owner claims he can rattle off shlokas in Samskritam. ''Almost everyone can speak or understand the language here,'' Naresh Doshi says. In this village, Samskritam is slowly becoming a way of life.The language spoken in practically every house and every school-going child rattling off a few sentences. Over 1,000 students in the three Samskritam institutions of the village - a primary school, middle school and the college - have joined hands with a group of their teachers to try and make Samskritam the second language of the Wagdi-speaking population. Kanhaiya Lal Yadav is a first generation learner from his vanavasi (tribal) household in Dukhvada. ''We speak Wagdi at home but with my friends I often debate in Samskritam,'' says the undergraduate student. And to spread the good word, the teachers and students are practically going door-to-door, teaching, putting up posters and impressing many with their synchronised recital of shlokas. For the motivated Samskritam-speaking lot of Ganoda, the ulitmate aim is to make it a unique and model Sanskrit village. Their punchline is ''don't say hello, say HariOm.''

(Based on a write up by Anuradha Nagaraj [Indian Express, March 11, 2003]).