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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PANCHAAMRITAM 41 - 50

PANCHAAMRITAM - 41

ONE

Two years ago, zoologists at Oxford University found that the crow can make tools. They left some meat in a small toy bucket inside a tall cylinder, into which the crow could not reach to get the food. What it actually did was to pick up a piece of stiff wire (left nearby by the experimenters), bent it into a hockey-stick shape by tapping ever-so-rightly against a surface and lifted the bucket using this hook and partook of the meal! The Oxford experiment is, in a way, a retelling of the Panchatantra tale, where the thirsty crow drops pebble after pebble into a pot of water to raise the level and drink. The crow is also thought of as stupid and vain. Remember the Aesop’s Fable about the crow with a piece of food in its beak? Praised by he wily fox, which wants to hear it sing, the crow opens its mouth and the fox walks away with the food. Will someone now demand that NCERT rewrite Aesop’s Fables, at least about the crow?

Based on a write up by Shri. D.Balasubramanian (dbala@lvpei.org) in

THE HINDU of June 3, 2004.

TWO

Admission fee to a medical college: Rs. 2,50,000. For a journalism course: Rs. 1,50,000. For an engineering class: Rs. 25,000. For Mambalam Samskrita Vidyalaya: Re: 1. Situated in the Ahobila Mutt School, West Mambalam, Chennai, the Vidyalaya is proud of its ‘Periya Master’. Shri. O.R. Rajagopalan, the 84 year-old teacher, has taught, in the past 50 years, the choicest Samskrit literature including Kalidasa’s poetry and Bhavabhuti’s drama to over a 1,000 students. And he has never demanded even a rupee from any of them as school fee. The frail scholar started this Vidyalaya beside a well, half a century back. He has never missed a class, even when his wife was ill and had to be hospitalized. The Vidwan has taught the schoolboy and the software professional, the Hindi teacher and the college girl. Even if there be just two students in the class on one fine day, Rajagopalan would not mind. He would teach them happily, with his trademark commitment. A specialty at the Vidyalaya is the Saturday ‘Vagvardhini Sabha’ where students are taught to speak in Samskrit. “In fact, we use it as a forum to discuss social issues”, says a student. The Vidyalaya, in many ways, is a throwback to a different age run by an idealistic old man who believes that Samskrit cannot be sold.

Based on a report by Smt. Dhanya Parthasarathy

in the ‘educationplus’ section of THE HINDU on June 28, 2004.

THREE

Late Shri (Prof.) Rajendra Singh (endearingly called ‘Rajju Bhaiyya’ by RSS swayamsevaks) turned 61 when he was in Kanyakumari, Bharat, in January 1982. He was there on an annual tour as the Sar-karyawah (General Secretary) of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In tune with the tradition of self-denial that marks out an RSS pracharak, he let no one know that it was the auspicious day of his Shashti-abda-poorthi as per the Hindu calendar. Once the Sangh work for the day was over, he sat for a while in Dhyanam in front of Mother Kanykumari at the temple there at the land’s end. Then he proceeded to Palakkad in neighbouring Kerala to participate in a camp of RSS workers of the state, wherein the Sar-sanghchalak of the organization, respected Shri. Balasaheb Deoras was also present. On the last day of the camp, Shri, Singh received a Shashti-abda-poorthi greetings sent by his sister from Delhi. It was then that the swayamsevaks learnt of the fact. They prevailed upon Rajju Bhaiyya to agree for a simple ceremony to commemorate the auspicious occasion. Accompanied by Vedic recital, the Saha-prant-sanghchalak (state vice-president) of Kerala, Shri. (Prof.) Govindan Nair greeted Shri. Rajendra Singh. Earlier in his life, Rajju Bhaiyya, a physicist by training and a favourite student of Nobel Laureate C.V Raman, had given up his teaching career in the Allahabad University to serve the motherland by becoming a pracharak, belying the fond expectation of C.V.Raman that Prof. Singh would join him in his research some day.

Based on an article in Tamil weekly

VIJAYABHARATAM (Chennai - 31), February 19, 1982.

FOUR

At least two instances of fruitful, organized, pro-active steps by general public with concern for water conservation in Tamilnadu, Bharat, were reported in the newspapers during the last week of June, 2004: 1. Coimbatore district failed to receive monsoon showers for five years in a row and as a result, the area was declared ‘black zone’, that is, completely lacking ground water. Leading industrial houses and welfare associations in the industrial hub of Coimbatore city pooled up resources to the tune of Rs. 1.5 crore which included public donations and launched ‘Siru Thuli’, a voluntary group with a resolve to desilt all the 7 tanks in and around the city and raise the tank-bunds. In one year, Siru Thuli deepened the tanks up to 5 feet and raised the bunds to 15 feet. As a result the total storage capacity of the tanks rose to 951 million cubic feet. Following rains during the early monsoon showers of 2004, the levels in the tanks went up and the quantity of water stored in them is nearly 60 percent of their capacity. The state government too pitched in with a grant of Rs. 30 lakh under its rural self reliance programme to enable the achievement of Siru Thuli target – of bringing back the sub-soil water to life (DINAMALAR of June 22). 2.The Chitlapakkam lake is a major reservoir girding Chennai metro. It was a scene of hectic activity in June 2004. A Lake Protection Group was formed to thwart increase in encroachments into the lake. The Group took steps to deepen the lake and raise its bund. Local residents contributed towards the cost of the works to the tune of Rs. 2.5 lakhs. The rural self-reliance programme of the state government backed the initiative of the public. The government released a grant, taking up the amount to Rs. 10 lakhs. Work on raising the lake-bund to an extent of 600 metres is over

(DINAMALAR of June 29).

FIVE

Smt. Rekha hails from a tiny hamlet off Mannachanallur, near Thiruchirapalli, Tamilnadu, Bharat. After her engineering graduation in Coimbatore, Rekha works in Montario, Canada as software professional. Her husband too is employed in Canada. Recently, Rekha was blessed with a beautiful girl child. As a Hindu mother, she preferred to be with the infant all through. She was averse to the idea of leaving her baby-daughter in a crèche. So, she coolly resigned her job, sending shock waves among her office colleagues (Source: January 2004 issue of HINDU SANGHA SEIDHI, Tamil monthly). “No wonder, they were struck by Rekha’s action in an atmosphere where pregnancy itself is postponed in order to maintain body form. But a Hindu mother is one who is ready for any tyaga in order to bring up her offspring as a cultured person”, comments the February 2004 issue of GRIHINI, a monthly Seva bulletin in Tamil, devoted to cultural activism of women, brought out by

Smt. Amudha Chinnabalan from 11/27, PSK Nagar, Rajapalayam - 626 108, Tamilnadu, Bharat.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 42

ONE

1. Shri. Kumari Ananthan, former president of the Tamilnadu unit of the Congress party, buys 8 morning newspapers and 3 evening papers. At his office on Venkatanaraayana Road, T.Nagar, Chennai, any one can walk in and read the newspapers. An office staff says his employer knows many can hardly afford to buy several newspapers (THE HINDU, June 30, 2004). 2. Shri. C. Vetrivel, a reader, informs in a Letter To The Editor that he has converted one room of his two-room house measuring just 500 square feet in all, into a reading room with a copy each of 500 magazines arranged in 20 categories. He writes that he has arranged his collection of 5,000 books also in that room. He has named it as ‘Meenakshi Noolagam’. He claims that this is Tamilnadu’s first Idhalagam, that is, a magazine library (DINAMANI, July 12, 2004). 3. On any Sunday afternoon, a visitor to the house of Shri. L. Narayanan, a swayamsevak of Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu, Bharat, can find Narayanan sizing old envelops and wedding invitations into small slips and making tiny packs of Kumkum and Bhasma (sacred ash). Later in the evening, he, accompanied by a group of friends, distributes these among the ailing in-patients in the government hospital as prasad. 4. Another swayamsevak of village Veerasikamani in Tenkasi district, Tamilnadu, distributes photocopies of his doctor’s prescription that had helped him get rid of white patches all over his body. He makes it a point to reach the info also to those who seek temples to pray to God to heal skin diseases.

TWO

Smt. Manjula Ramesh, Consultant Editor, MANGAIYAR MALAR, a leading Tamil monthly for women, was struck by a scene as she entered the manufacturing unit of Sakthi Masala in Erode, Tamilnadu: scores of workers emerged, after a shift, from the plant, chatting merrily; only a close look revealed that several of them were blind. Many more were handicapped and many mentally retarded. Manjula was there to meet Smt. Shanti Duraiswami, the executive of the factory. The well-meaning couple, Shanti-Duraiswami has employed such special individuals in all the departments of their factory. Shanti says, the handicapped workers gain tremendous self-confidence after some time while the retarded ones gradually become normal as they engage themselves gainfully here, writes Manjula. Some workers have entered into wedlock and are rearing families, memories of boycott by relatives earlier having receded fast

(MANGAIYAR MALAR, August 2003).

THREE

Five-star hotels in Chennai had a problem disposing of used cooking oil from their kitchens. The diesel engines maintenance workshop of Southern Railway in Perambur, Chennai, came to their help by collecting the oil in order to manufacture bio-diesel. The workshop has been collecting 300 litres per month by placing barrels in the kitchens. The Southern Railway has appointed a bio-diesel task force and experiment has been going on for a year now. A plant for producing eco-friendly fuel from herbs like Kaattamanakku (wild castor), Neem, Iluppai (an oilseed) and rubber seeds was inaugurated on July 14, 2004 at the workshop, with an estimated daily production of 500 litres of bio-diesel. Experiments show that carbon dioxide emission was minimum when Kaattamanakku was used. Already several vehicles like vans and jeeps are run on this bio-diesel on a trial basis. Soon, the Southern Railway is to come up with a diesel locomotive running on this bio-diesel, say reports.

Based on a report in DINAMANI, July 14, 2004.

FOUR

Five years back, Shri. Shanmugam (50) of Ranipet, Vellore district, Tamilnadu, chose to be at the service of needy children in the industrial town, after years of successfully running a leather tannery and after his children were settled well in life. He had the wholehearted cooperation of his wife, Smt. Mallika, in this. He found that children of conservancy workers and beedi mazdoor in and around Ranipet were unable to study in schools and had to go without even two square meals a day. The Shanmugam-Mallika couple gathered the hapless kids at their premises on the Bazaar street, gave them new clothes and began serving them wholesome food every night. Two teachers have been appointed by the couple to coach the children in their lessons and homework from 5.30 to 8.00 in the evenings. Children also learn Dhyanam and Yoga here for imbibing character. In two years, the number of such child beneficiaries swelled to 102. That includes children studying in all classes right up to 12th standard. This philanthropic couple issue free uniforms and textbooks to the children at the start of the academic year. By and by, families in the town are encouraged to donate in cash or kind for the benefit of the children on memorable occasions like birthdays and wedding dates or on days in memory of departed relatives.

Based on a report in DINAMANI, July 14, 2004.

FIVE

The stench emanating from the 5.5 acre Suri Amman tank in Pammal, Kanchipuram district, became unbearable to Shri. S.Viswanathan, Honorary Secretary, Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal. People had been using it as a lavatory. He wowed to set this right. Realizing that it demands teamwork to achieve the goal, he roped in the cooperation of service organizations in the locality like the Sankara Women’s Mandram, Rotary Club Of Fort and the Sankara Health Center of which he forms a part. The work began in August 2001, with Shri. Rajaraman, Collector of Kanchipuram District, readily providing the back up. The tank bed that had accrued silt over the years and had become a 4 feet deep marshland; it was deepened up to 15.5 feet. Canals that provide the inflow to the tank were repaired. Water flowing into the tank is filtered properly. A compound wall 1,800 feet long was built out of the funds raised by the residents of Pammal to restrict miscreants entering the tank area. Now, children play in the garden at the tank side and elders go for a morning walk, deeply inhaling the cool breeze.

Based on a report in DINAMANI, July 15, 2004.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 43

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ONE

The SEIL (Student Experience in Interstate Living) programme of ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) seems to have inspired a university to take up a similar programme, but on an international level. The University of Madras is planning to bring out a directory of families that are willing to accept foreign students as paying guests. Why families and not the usual hostel? Explains Vice Chancellor Shri. S.P. Thyagarajan: “From the enquiries we are receiving, many foreign students seem to prefer staying with a local family than in a hostel, probably because they want to know our culture better. That is why we are identifying the families which want to accept foreign students.” So far, the academic and student coordinators of the university’s international center have identified about 30 families. Till now the University has about 67 applications from foreign students (from Malaysia, Singapore, Korea and the Middle East) for joining various courses. The University Students Advisory Bureau is preparing the directory.

Based on a report by Shri. K.Ramachandran in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS of July 15, 2004.

TWO

Villagers of Edaiyur, in the Thirukazhukundram Taluk of Kanchipuram district, Tamilnadu, Bharat, have taken upon themselves the task of restoring the Oorani (pond). It is not that the villagers do not have any source of water. An overhead tank and a hand pump, drawing groundwater, are there. It is the quality of the Oorani water that has inspired the villagers. The taste was extremely good. That is why we want to have it again, says Shri. M. Mohan, president of the water users association of Edaiyur (The Edaiyur Model, which is still under development, has already attracted the attention of many including the German government). As silting is a major problem for any water body, we have put up a grid chamber (which will arrest silt before water entering the pond) and a filter chamber in the pond. Water can be drawn only from an open well at the bund of the pond,. There is a pipe connecting the filter chamber and the well, says Shri. Dirk Walther, a water resources management expert from Germany and attached to Anna University, Chennai, now in Edaiyur to execute the project. The pond water is meant for domestic consumption alone and so the pond will be fenced and access to it restricted. A full Oorani will hold 30 lakh (three million) litres of water. The village panchayat has passed a resolution against use of pesticides in the area. The Edaiyur experience promises to show that the restoration of traditional water bodies can be executed at a low cost.

Based on a report by Shri. T. Ramakrishnan in THE HINDU of July 19, 2004.

THREE

It is well known that, even as the freedom struggle raged, Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of a Ram Rajya for Hindusthan. In the free Bharat, Ayodhya movement is thick in the air during the recent decades. It presents Shri Ram as a national hero imbued with noble qualities. The movement is seen as heralding a resurgence of cultural nationalism. What is not so well known is the view of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in this aspect. He wrote in his foreword to a book, Valmiki Ramayana, by Shri. N. Chandrasekara Iyer, a former Judge of the Supreme Court: Among our great festivals which spread joy and comradeship amongst all our people, there is none which is so popular, more especially in Northern India, as the celebration of the story of Rama and Sita. Valmiki wrote his immortal epic, and in later days, Tulsidas writing in homely language, made this story a part of the texture of the lives of our people. A story and a book which has had this powerful influence on millions of people during some millennia of our changing history, must have a peculiar virtue in it.

Based on the This Day that Age column of THE HINDU ( July 15, 2004).

FOUR

It is a reassuring scene: a scientist and a physician voicing concern over the goings on in their respective avenues of life. 1. First, the Scientist: I am not in favour of human cloning Let god be the only genetic scientist when it comes to creating human beings. But genetic engineering does have its place in curing diseases That was Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of Bharat, in an interaction through satellite. He was responding to the question of a schoolgirl from Bangalore who wanted to know what Dr. Kalam thought of cloning (Based on a report in THE HINDU of July 24, 2004). 2. Now, the Physician: It is not necessary to seek a specialist on each and every occasion. Let us go back to the family doctor system. The physician must try to evolve into a clinician, reading precisely the symptoms at the clinic itself to find out what the patient suffers from, instead of prescribing laboratory tests on every occasion needlessly. A doctor ought to imbibe goodness, skill and mercy. -- That was Dr. K.V. Thiruvengadam, a senior physician of Chennai. He spoke at the release function of the book Whats Up, Doc? authored by Dr. Sharanya (From a report in DINAMANI, of July 24, 2004).

FIVE

Want to effect a cut in huge electricity bills caused by washing clothes using the washing machine? Take to ‘Solar Washing’. Do what the village washerman did: heat the water with your clothes soaked in it. Vellavi was the Tamil term for it. This is the way to do it, according to Shri. B. Subhramaniam, director, National Institute of Technology (NIT) Trichy, Tamilnadu: Dissolve washing powder in water at 5 grams per litter. Soak clothes in this, wring them slightly and then place them in a bucket. Leave at least a quarter of the space in the bucket free. Close the bucket’s top with a polythene sheet and secure it using a thread. Now, take the bucket to the terrace where there is ample direct sunlight. Leave it there. In 20 minutes, heat inside the bucket would have risen up to 50 degrees Celcius, sufficient to destroy the bacteria in your clothes. Now, rinse off the soap from the clothes and hang them dry. Since the Tri Sodium Phosphate in popular washing powders harms the garden soil when we let the water into our garden after a wash, the NIT has come forward with an eco-friendly washing agent extracted from a herbal seed (poolan kottai or boondhi kottai), informs Subhramaniam (DINAMANI, July15, 2004).

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 44

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ONE

1. Suresh, a schoolboy, was found in an unconscious state inside a Chennai Metropolitan Tranport Cotporation bus plying in route 20-A on August 23, 2003. Conductor Elumalai and driver Thanigaimani of the bus rushed the boy to the hospital in the same bus and helped get him immediate medical attention. Thus they saved the life of Suresh. The coductor and the driver were honoured for their humane gesture at this years Republic Day celebrations, i.e., on January 26, 2004. (DINAMANI, January 27, 2004). 2. I know that hard-earned money is invaluable. That is why I saw to it that the Rs. 24,000 left on my autorikshaw reached its owner, said Shri. Kalidas, working as an auto-driver for 21 years in Chennai. On December 11, 2003, Dr. Thyagarajan, a retired physician, hired the auto at Chennai Central Railway Station. While alighting, he forgot to take his hand bag containing the amount. Later, when Kalidas found the bag, he promptly deposirted it with the Police Station at Central (DINAMANI December 12, 2003). 3. Devaraj is a small-time vegetable vendor of Nagerkoil, Kanyakumari district. On December 6, 2003, he spotted a bag on the roadside near the Kottar Government hospital. He found in it an amount of Rs. 75,000. Devaraj handed it over to the Kottar police. The owner of the cash, Shri.Francis of Maravankudiyiruppu, could be traced by the police with the help of the documents in the bag. Devaraj was rewarded b the police as well as by the owner (DINAMANNI December 10, 2003). 4. Shri. Mohamed Hussein (26), an Indian, is a taxi driver of Chicago. In October 2003, Antony Kamarko, an ornament designer, inadvertantly left a bag containing jewels worth Rs. 1 crore and 10 lakhs in the taxi while getting down. When Mohamed later found this out, he informed Antonys company of this by email and handed the bag over to the police formally. He was lauded by the Chicago police for this and was rewarded by Antony (DINAMALAR, October 25, 2003).

TWO

1. Auroville, an international town near Pondicherry, is maintained as an eco-friendly locality; even the roads therein are not tarred, they are gravel-topped. In a restaurant there fleas (makki) or house-flies are not killed in an electric insect-destroyer as in other hotels; they are scarred away by a novel method. Small plastic bags filled with water are hung on branches of trees encircling the tables in the restaurant. The fleas and mosquitoes coming close to these bags are frightened when they see their enlarged image on the water bag and thus are scarred away unharmed and not harming the hygiene either. (Based on a report in DINAMANI, Tamil daily on July 30, 2004). 2. The two-day national seminar on Cultivation of medicinal plants and manufacture of herbal medicines in Tiruchirappalli, Tamilnadu, recently kicked off with the lighting of a traditional lamp that had wicks made of herbal leaves, which, the manufacturers said, could glow for 12 long years. Shri. Sankaraiah of Marthamalai of Pudukkottai district, supported by NGO Gandhian Rural Action Movement (GRAM) Trust, claimed to have found the unbelievable property of the leaves of Maout. This herbal plant is found abundantly in the Kollimalai near Salem and is rarely found in any other part of the country, claimed Sankaraiah. The leaves look like banyan leaves and possess excellent medicinal properties. They are particularly used for treating piles, he further claimed

(A report in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS of June 21, 2004). Idea: Shri Pramod Kumar.

THREE

Located south of Chennai, the Alandur municipality has a total of 26,000 property tax assesses, predominantly middle class. Its Rs. 34 crore underground sewerage scheme is an example of public-private partnership that received national attention four years back for the community contribution to capital cost. Though the residents had been demanding an underground sewerage for some years, the seeds for the project were sown six years back when authorities decided to rope in the community for contribution to the capital cost. The response was positive. In four months (October 1999 January 2000) about 10,000 persons contributed Rs. 5,000 each. By November 2003, over 20,000 persons had given their contributions. That comes to Rs. 11 crore. A government grant of Rs. 4 crores under the Mega City Programme was added to it. The executing agency, IVRCL invested Rs. 8 crores in the sewer treatment plant. Loans also were taken from an appropriate government corporation. Now (August 2004), the scheme is on the verge of completion, with the sewer water pumping station coming up. Pallavaram and Valasarvakkam municipalities around Chennai are instances of similar community contributions to trigger the pace of providing civic amenities

(Based on a report by Shri. T.Ramakrishnan in THE HINDU, November 2003 and other inputs).

FOUR

1. Shri. R.Ramachandran (51) of Mylapore, Chennai, quit his job in Indian Overseas Bank to collect rice for distribution among the needy. Every day he sets out armed with cloth bags on his old scooter. In a month he covers about 600 families in various parts of the city. Every family in his list stores a handful of rice (pidi arisi) daily before cooking for the family. Ramachandran comes and collects this once a month. Altogether, he distributes upto 200 kilograms of rice to 25 institutions serving destitute women, orphaned children, etc., as also a few Veda Pathasalas. Ramachandran has successfully involved his wife Smt. Uma and son Sree Guru Raghavan in his mission. He says he will continue all his life, the pidi arisi scheme originally launched by the Maha Swamigal (Late Kanchi Sankaracharya Shri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati Swami) to feed the poor. Meanwhile, the beneficiaries of his scheme affectionately call him Rice Rama (A report in DINAMANI, August 3, 2004). 2. Meet Shri. N. Periyasami (76), of Thiruchirappalli. He is described as mobile counter in the local Theppakkulam post office. This retired raiway employee arrives at the post office at 9.50 in the morning, dangles a placard saying May I help you? For any help approach me and waits for members of the public to come. Once they are sighted, he approaches them, finds out what help they need and provides it meticulously What value of stamps to be affixed or how to send a postal article by registered post or by Speed Post, etc. All information that the staff at the ten counters could provide to the enquiring public are at his fingure tips. His is a free service. Observing his helpful attitude, the Post Master offered him a desk and a chair which he politely declined. The towns citizens have been availing Periyasamis service ever since 1996

(A report in DINAMANI, August 3, 2004).

FIVE

This is the story of a wedding that took place in March 2002 at Guwahati, Assam, Bharat. Shri. K.S.Sudarshan, the Sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was present at the occasion to bless the couple Chiranjeevi Shailesh Goenka and Sushri Ranjana Agrawal. The bridegroom is the son of Shri. Krishna Kumar Goenka, the Uttar Assam Prant Vyavastha Pramukh of RSS and the bride is the daughter of Shri. Yugal Kishore Agrawal. Both the familes are well off. Sailesh and Ranjana offered Rs. 51,000 each to the Sarsanghchalak while seeking his blessings. This ‘Mangala Nidhi’ is intended for serving the suffering poor through Sangh-inspired projects, reported KESHAV SAMVAD, a Hindi monthly of Meerut on March 20, 2002. (An update: RSS Swayamsevaks are in the forefront in serving the flood-hit people of Assam in July-August, 2004, rescuing the marooned and reaching relief material to those renderd homeless by the floods).

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 45

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ONE

It was July 9, 2004. Smt. A.Amala Mary (48) was attending to domestic work, when she heard a deafening noise near her house in Thengangudi of Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu, Bharat. A heavy landslip from a height of 50 feet, upon the railway track, caused the noise. It was the Tiruvanandapuram-Nagerkoil section. The thought of a train accident close to her residence sent shivers down her spine. All her priorities, taking care of her disabled husband, unmarried daughters and the only son doing a diploma course were given the go-by. Her only concern was to stop the train that was a few kilometers away from the spot. Realizing that she was running out of time, she rushed in the opposite direction along the track. The moment she saw the train after covering 300 meters, she started waving the pallu of her red colour saree to signal the train to stop. Her presence of mind produced the desired result. The train carrying 500 passengers came to a halt well ahead of the spot where sand and boulders lay. On August 15, Independence Day, Chief Minister Jayalalitha honoured Amala with the Kalpana Chawla award for bravery. Amala was also given Rs.5 lakh by the State Government.

(Based on a report in THE HINDU of August 16, 2004).

TWO

Kashi, the holy city of Hindus, is also known as Varanasi or Beneras. “The city of ashta koop (8 wells), nava baavali” (9 ponds), describe the puranas. According to some, the water of some of these wells cure many serious diseases. Professor Girish Chowdary, formerly of the geology faculty of Banaras Hindu University, informs that the water of an ancient well in Kamacha locality in the city is known as “destroyer of kidney stones”. He explains that carbonic elements in the water dissolves the stones in the kidney and removes them along with urine. Water of another ancient well in Kabir Chowra locality is known to cure constipation-related disorders. The moment ones drinks it, the pressure in the stomach shoots up instantly and one has to run to the toilet, adds the professor. He demands a scientific investigation into the medicinal properties of water in such wells. Shri.Krishna Murari Lal, an educationist of Kashi, informs that the water from wells in Kashi used to be carted to far off Calcutta on account of its medicinal values.

(Based on a report in SWANTANTRA BHARAT, Hindi daily of Lucknow (U.P),

August 27, 2004 with other inputs).

THREE

‘Hanuman Traders’ is a shop in the Jayanagar area of Bangalore, Karnataka, Bharat. What is special about it? Only ‘Swadeshi goods’ are sold here. Owned by Shri. Ramkumara, the experiment started by stocking Swadeshi goods in a separate rack. Now, Swadeshi goods alone are sold. Ramkumara had to painstakingly convince his customers, mostly women, on the benefits of switching over to Swadeshi. He argues,”for half a kilogram of soap powder, the MNCs (multi national companies) charged Rs.80, whereas the Swadeshi product is available for Rs.48. MNCs allow just 8 percent on the sale of their products. Swadeshi companies offer up to 20 percent. So, what would be my choice?” The consideration is not at all monetary. Ramkumara has banned use of polythene for packing rice or wheat flour in his shop. He does not consider that his Swadeshi duty ends with selling Swadeshi goods. He motivates youngsters to take to his Swadeshi line. He trains willing shopkeepers in this respect. As a result, Swadeshi shops do brisk business in places like Tumkur, Hasan and Mysore in Karnataka. (Based on a report in SWADESHI SEIDHI, Tamil monthly from Coimbatore, August 2003).

FOUR

Shri.Sekar Raghavan spends most of the waking hours answering queries from people about harvesting water. Described as ‘cycle’ Raghavan because of the years he spent riding his bicycle around Chennai to disseminate the benefits of tapping rainwater. He has been instrumental in implementing water harvest system in over 500 houses in the city. His horizon widened after the setting up of the Rain Centre in 2002 with support from the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Enviornment. Shri.Raghavan started his career as a physics lecturer at Madras University and proceeded to research at the Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai. He played a pivotal role in the amendment of the Tamil Nadu Municipalities Buildings Rules Act (1972) that made Rain Water Harvesting mandatory.

(Based on a report by Smt. K.Lakshmi in THE HINDU of May 30, 2004).

FIVE

Samskritam is among the 22 languages accepted for translations by the Central Sahitya Academy, Bharat. Doordarshan and Akaashavani broadcast news in Samskritam. In India, 10 Universities are entirely devoted to Samskritam. Samskritam is taught in 250 Universities in 40 countries around the globe. All over India, 5,000 traditional pathashaalaas teach Samskritam. Over 3 crore students in classes between I to XII study Samskritam in India today. A steady stream of Samskrit books on a variety of subjects comes out in India today. Over 60 Samskrita magazines are being published in the country. There are quite a few villages in the country where all residents speak in Samskritam. Last but not least, the Government of India itself had expressed the view that Samskritam is a modern language. While replying in Parliament in 1987-88 to a question whether Samskritam is a classical language or a modern language (Reference Number 6329), the GOI stated, “ in view of its current usage, Samskritam is regarded as a modern language”.

(Information found in a mail of an e-group samskritabharatichennai@yahoogroups.com ).

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 46

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ONE

1. On August 15, 2004, the Independence Day of Bharat, the college ground in Dimaji, Assam, Bharat, was the scene of a terrorist bomb blast. 16 schoolchildren were killed. Many more were injured. Amid the horror and confusion, Sangeeta was seen moving swiftly, reaching first aid to the injured and trying to console bereaved parents. She teaches in a school nearby. Suddenly Sangeeta noticed something odd. One of the ‘bodies’ of the killed children, being carried to a van in a hurry for removing them to the mortuary, was breathing. Sangeeta raised an alarm and saw to it that the child got medical attention. She also got all the bodies in the van completely checked. It was found that two more children were found alive inside. They were given medical attention instantly. But one of the three children died later. Of the two rescued, one was a girl by name Rasheeda. Sangeeta is a Sevika of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti (Based on an eyewitness account). 2. Scores of people died when a marriage hall in Srirangam, Tamilnadu, was burnt down in an accident in January 2004. The town’s population stood up as one man in rescuing persons caught inside the inferno. Before he died of burns, bridegroom Shri. Gururajan saved many lives. Quite a few in the hall managed to break the concrete windows to save people. Many ambulance vans were pressed into service by well-meaning healthcare centers in the town free of cost. Members of the Red Cross, college students, activists of various voluntary organizations and policemen offered their services in the rescue work and also at the hospitals. Many sent SMS messages through their mobile phones to their friends to come and donate blood to save those hospitalized

(Based on a report in DINAMANI, January 24, 2004).

TWO

1. Hindutva provides an abiding solution to any problem in Hindustan, also known as India that is Bharat, like it did in Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh recently. Minister for environment and forests, Shri S. Vijayarama Raju declared open a ‘mythological theme park’ at the Venkateswara Zoological Park in Tirupati on August 30, 2004. The theme park is an attempt to infuse a sense of care and attachment to animals by depicting gods of Hindu pantheon as associated with animals and birds. Images of goddess Durga seated on a lion, Shri. Kalahasteeswara (Lord Shiva) worshipped by an elephant, a spider and a snake, Lord Subhramanya on a peacock, Sita being charmed by a deer, etc., are etched on the park wall to drive home the important place that the animals and birds occupy in the Hindu religious lore (Based on a report in THE HINDU on September 1, 2004). 2. Shri. L.K. Advani, Leader of Opposition in Bharat’s Lok Sabha, is known to hold the opinion that the very Constitution of India owes its secular (equal treatment to all religions) character to the timeless Hindu mindset that honours all ways of worship by declaring, “Ekam sat, viprah bahudaa vadanti”. It means, ‘the Ultimate Truth is one; the wise describe it variously’.

THREE

1. Shri. Paresh Sirkar, 52, a railway employee of West Bengal, donated blood for the 100 th time. It was in a function to mark the birthday of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in August 2004. He has been donating blood once in every three months since 1972. Higher officials of the railways honoured him with a medal for this. Shri. Vimal Krishna Viswas, 59, who had donated blood 172 times, also was among those who attended the function (DINAMALAR, August 21, 2004). 2. Dr. Edith Johnson, M.D., D.C.H., 51, is a physician at the Government Hospital, Puducherry (Pondicherry), Bharat. She donated blood for the 98th time on January 4, 2004. “Nothing belongs to me, including my blood. It is a gift to me by my parents. I hope to continue donating blood since God has graced me with health”, asserts the doctor. She rides a bicycle to her work.The Puducherry government honoured the doctor with a certificate

(DINAMANI, January 24,2004).

FOUR

1. Residential localities in Pazhavanthangal, a southern suburb of chennai, Bharat, were crime prone. With less than 30 policemen and only around 10 of them on duty at any given time, keeping a check on the movement of criminals literally became a daunting task. It was in this juncture that ‘Friends of Police’ was started. There are around 200 youth volunteers now. Tenth standard students V.P.Haran, T.S.Srinath, R.Aravind and B.Pradeep said they were excited to be FoP volunteers and go on night patrols. They said their parents did not raise any objection, as it was a form of “social service”. Incidents of crime in the night has been virtually eliminated in the police station’s jurisdiction in the past three months, said Sub Inspector Shri. K.Jagadeeswaran (THE HINDU, September 6, 2004). 2. Alert residents of Natesan Nagar, Virugambakkam, Chennai, helped prevent a robbery at their neighbour’s home on July 13, 2004. Noticing a motorcycle standing unattended in their street for a long time, residents called up a beat constable on his mobile phone (provided by the members of the residents’ welfare association). Residents, the constable and members of the ‘Friends of Police’ in the locality gathered at the spot and started making enquiries. Noticing the group patrolling the street, the burglar scaled the compound wall of the house where he had broken in, and jumped into another house. He dropped the bag containing the 100 sovereigns of jewels he had looted and fled the spot. The jewellery was found in tact and was restored to its owner

(Based on a report in THE HINDU, July 15, 2004).

FIVE

VELRBO BIO-DIESEL is a fuel extracted from rice bran. The innovator, Shri. Velappan, 37, is the son of K.N.Chinnaraj-Muniyammal of Kandhukalpatti off Nallampalli in Dharmapuri district, Tamilnadu. Velappan who is joint director, Chemical Engineering division, Central Leather Reseach Institute Chennai, Bharat, has patented the bio-diesel. This fuel is eco-friendly, says Velappan. State Transport buses will be run on this bio diesel on an experimental basis in November 2004 (DINAMANI, August 25, 2004). [Meanwhile, Smt. Valerie Dupont, an energy engineer with the University of Leeds in England, leads a team of researchers who have developed an experimental Hydrogen generator that uses only sunflower oil air, water vapour and two catalysts – and no fossil fuel. This development can lead to cleaner ad and more efficient Hydrogen production for powering automobile fuel cells. Mass production of vehicles employing this technology will take years, experts say

(Based on a report in THE HINDU, September 2, 2004)].

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 47

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ONE

Place: BHOOTPUR [A Chenchu (vanavasi) village], in Mahabubnagar District, Andhra Predesh, Bharat. Time: 9 AM. The Scene: A small boy of 10 waits in front of his hut, ready to go to school. Three of his friends come by, with a used scooter tyre tied to a rope. They urge him, "Masayya, get on to the tyre. It is already time”. The boy slowly drags his incapacitated legs and climbs on to the tyre. The three, schoolmates of Masayya, drag the tyre all the way to the school. They lift him safely wherever they encounter a pothole or a bump on the way. This is not a one-day affair. It has been happening for the past few months. Masayya is polio-hit by birth. Having lost his parents, he lives with his brother Tirupatayya. Since transport is a problem, his brother expressed his inability to send him to school. His friends assured the Headmistress of the school that they would take the responsibility of bringing Masayya to school. They kept their word. Initially, they carried him on a bicycle. When the bike was broken, Masayya crawled to school for a few days. It was a heart rendering sight. Once he got drenched in rain. His friends were moved by the plight of Masayya. Munayya, another friend, suggested that they all could drag an old scooter tyre, with Masayya seated on it, to school. Abdul Nabi, Nagaraju and Ramu supported the idea. They carried on the task of taking Masayya to school for the past three months. They enjoyed doing it. Meanwhile, the Headmistress brought the plight of Masayya to the notice of the government and, as a result, Masayya goes to school on a tricycle these days.

(Contributed by Shri. Brahmmananda Reddy brahmarss@yahoo.co.in

of SAMACHARA BHARATHI, Andhra Pradesh).

TWO

It is a scorching afternoon. Priya (name changed) is extremely thirsty as she waits for a bus on Magadi Road, Bangalore. There is no refreshment stall in the area and the college student thinks she will be able to quench her thirst only when she reaches home. That is when she notices two big water cans near the bus stop. A notice on the cans says: "Drinking water — for the use of thirsty commuters." Like Priya, thousands of people have seen, rejoiced, and used water cans installed at 25 bus stops in Bangalore - primarily around Magadi Road, Sunkadakatte, and Rajajinagar areas, courtesy a business family from Bashyam Circle in Rajajinagar. They sell paan, betel nut, and banana leaves at their shop, "R.V. Bhadraiah", situated next to their house. "The shop is named after our father," says Shivakumar (29), one of Shri. Bhadraiah's two sons. He says the family is involved in the "water can project". "My father started it 15 years ago because he believes God has been very kind to him. He began with nothing and is now doing well. This is his way of giving something back," Shri. Shivakumar says. Every day, Mr. Bhadraiah, his sons, or their shop assistants cover a 25-km. radius. "We have four autorickshaws that we use to transport goods to our shop. We carry the water cans in them and do two or three refills a day," Mr. Shivakumar says. In summer, the cans empty quickly. "We do not supply bottled water, we use the well in our house." According to him, there is a story behind the well. "In our area, lots of people dug wells but found no water. When my father dug a well, he found water. He took that as an auspicious sign." Filling the cans costs them Rs. 500 a day. "We don't consider this a chore. This is something we consider our duty", he says. In the coming days, the Bhadraiah family plans to increase the number of "water holes" by another 50. "We are ready to supply water cans to those who want to do something similar," Shivakumar (reachable on mobile phone 9844358514) says.

Based on a report in THE HINDU (Bangalore Edition), May 2 2004 (Idea: Shri. Janardan Hegde, Aksharam, Bangalore 18).

THREE

1. Sri. Ramakrishnan, a call taxi driver of Ambattur, Chennai, Tamilnadu, Bharat, took a leading part in organizing Ganesh Chaturthi Utsav in village Oragadam near Chennai. The huge Ganesha Idol installed here had a unique schedule, a visit to a seva basthi everyday. All on a sudden, Gitalakshmi, the newly married daughter of Ramakrishnan was killed in a road accident on September 14, 2004. Though grief-stricken, Ramakrishnan requested the doctors that they can remove any organ from her daughter’s corpse. But only her eyes could be donated, as per Gitalakshmi’s pledge executed when she was alive, because the rest of her body from the waist had been crushed. Lest his daughter’s death may cause hurdles in the Vinyaka Chaturthi utsav, Ramakrishnan rushed to the houses of other Hindu activists in the area and persuaded them to maintain the full vigour of the utsav because basthi residents were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Ganesha at the doorsteps of their huts. With a heavy heart and understanding the situation, the team of Hindu activists swung into action keeping up the original schedule (Courtesy: INDIAN POST of Sertember 19-25, 2004, a neighbourhood newspaper of Ambattur). 2. Raman, 15, and Lakshmanan, 15, are twin brothers separated 11 years back. Surpassing any filmi denouement, the two rejoined on September 20, 2004, to the immense happiness of their mother Kanthamani and father Gopalakrishnan. It so happened, the brothers came to a Ganesh visarjan spot in Salem, each accompanying a procession. When the processions merged, Raman identified Lakshmanan and embraced him. Thus, Lord Ganesh has brought together the two separated brothers, in the same manner as He brings together various sections of Hindu society in every town and village of Tamilnadu ever since Hindu organizations started organizing Ganesh Visarjan celebrations on a big scale

(Based on a report in the DAILY THANTHI, September 21, 2004).

FOUR

Shri. Ramaswami opted for voluntary retirement from his job in the boiler plant of BHEL, Tiruchirappalli in 1999. He started a machine shop with one lathe. Within a year, the factory grew providing jobs for six workers. Their names: Manivasagam, Angamuthu, Perumal, Subramanian, Shaktivel and Balasubramanian. The workers were so attached to the factory that Ramaswami could run the shop by sitting at home and issuing instructions over phone. Now, he wished to settle down in his native village, Vellakovil in Erode district, Tamilnadu. There were several offers to buy his factory. But Smt. Chellam, wife of Ramaswami, suggested that the factory be sold to the workers. Ramaswami agreed to it. The workers had no property to cite as security for the purpose of bank loans and so they hesitated. Ramaswami offered his own house as security. This enabled the smooth take over by workers. They thanked Ramaswami in a programme held on August 20, 2004 at the office of the district employment exchange.

Based on a report in DINAMANI, August 24, 2004.

FIVE

It was the evening of September 6, 2004. Place: Chennai Central railway station. 32 boys and 23 girls — all inmates of an orphanage in Gelamangalam, Krishnagiri district, Tamilnadu – were undergoing what looked like an endless wait. Smt. Selvi, the executive of their Home, who had managed to bring them all this far, did not know how to meet the Chief Minister and express their grievances – the purpose of their Chennai visit (The home had run out of funds and faced trouble from hostile politicians, according to Selvi). The children had not had their breakfast or noon meal that day. Shri. Velaayudham, a head-load labourer at the railway station, serving under a contractor in egg business, noticed the plight of the children. He immediately bought them all food (Later the children were lodged by authorities in an asylum in the city).

Based on a report in DINAMANI, September 7, 2004.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 48

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ONE

Shri. Sanghamitran, age 30 (formerly Williams Raj, a Catholic Christian), returned to the Hindu fold in the year 2000. He is running a computer centre in his village. His is the only Hindu family now in Eduthukkatti village, Tharangampadi taluk, Nagappattinam district, Tamilnadu, Bharat. On September 13, 2004, Sanghamitran and his family members were severely attacked by some Christians of the village. He had to flee to safety along with his sister who was molested and dragged onto the street by the intruders. He has lodged a complaint with the local police. The district collector has assured him protection. But Sanghamitran is not at all afraid. He says many more families in his village are ready to return to Hindu fold. He also asserts that in spite of threats to his life, he will endeavour to bring back all willing Christians to Hinduism. Based on a report in DINAMALAR Tamil daily.

TWO

Date: March 18, 1997. Time: Night 11.30. Place: Railway track between stations Gardaha and Shodpur in West Bengal, Bharat. About 60-65 persons commit suicide at this spot in an year. An elderly woman stands guard, armed with a stick, protecting the corpse of a youth lying on the track from dogs and foxes on the prowl. Her sister Neelima Chowdary had gone to the college where the youth studies to inform the family. She had taken with her the identity card of the youth, one S.Ganguly, run over by a train. She rings up Swami Divyananda, the principal of the College and the Swamiji rushes to the spot in a van accompanied by the parents and relatives of Ganguly. It is four in the morning by the time the van reaches the spot of the tragedy. Neelima and her sister present there help the family remove the body. They do this without expecting any reward or praise for the past 21 years. There is a sad tale behind their service. Neelima’s husband suddenly disappeared in 1982. Neelima searched for him all around, but in vain. She almost lost heart when the body was found lying somewhere in a highly decayed condition. Then and there Neelima resolved that none else should suffer like her. She chose the suicide spot nearby for her service. She presents herself promptly when word of a suicide reaches her ears and without fear or hesitation busies herself in locating the family of the deseased quickly and arranging to guard the body in the meanwhile. Based on a report in SHRI RAMAKRISHNA VIJAYAM, Tamil monthly in its October 2004 issue.

THREE

1. Smt. Gowri, wife of an autorikshaw driver Shri. Sankar of Thirumangalam, Chennai, was stunned when she found Rs. 2,000 and 55 sovereigns of gold jewels in a bag that her husband showed her on the evening of August 8, 2004. He had noticed it lying in his vehicle, left there by a passenger who had hired his auto that day. Quickly, Gowri persuaded her husband to trace out the owner of the bag and hand it over to him. She pointed out how difficult it would be for anyone to bear such a heavy loss. Sankar promptly handed over the bag with its contents to Shri. Praveen Kumar of Valasaravakkam who had left the bag. Praveen Kumar gave Sankar Rs. 1,000 as reward (DINAMANI, August 10, 2004). 2. Shri. Elango, the owner of the auto that Shri. Vinayakam drives, found a briefcase lying in the auto when Vinayakam was about to leave after handing over the keys of the vehicle at the end of the day on June 11, 2004. Both handed over the box to the police at Vepery, Chennai. It was found to contain Rs. 65,000. The police traced the owner as one Marimuthu, an industrialist of Tiruppur, now on a visit to Chennai. Marimuthu gifted Rs. 6,000 to the honest duo (DINAMALAR, June 14, 2004).

FOUR

The name “R.P.Rajalakshmi Hindu Vidyalaya” in Thackklay near Kanyakumari, Tamilnadu, Bharat, has a tale to tell. Shri. Krishnamachari, Managing Director, Dextan Group of industries had donated buildings worth Rs. 50 lakhs for the school and so the school bears the name of his mother. This is not his single act of large heartedness. He has bought a piece of land for Rs. 5 lakhs and gave it to the school to be used as a playground. He has made a further donation of Rs. 10 lakhs to the school to mark the silver jubilee of his company. In addition to several other donations by Krishnamachari, his offer of taking care of the maintenance of any 6 persons who come forward to do social service, stands out. Thus Spake K: “My father Royampettai Parthasarathy was a Samskritam teacher. He left a deep impression on my life when he advised me that whatever I might earn belongs to the society, that I am to function only as a trustee of my wealth and that I should take just enough to meet my needs alone. I treat his words as mantra and keep helping others”. K is the son of the elder brother of Shri. Ra. Ki. Rangarajan, Tamil writer of renown. (Based on a report in DINAMANI, August 31, 2004)

FIVE

This happened in 1929, while the non-cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhiji was on. Raja Ganga Singh was the ruler of the princely state of Bikaner, Rajasthan. Singh was an able administrator. He got talented persons from many parts of Bharat appointed in his state. One day, while on his way back to his palace, the Raja found a picture of Gandhiji hung in the warden’s room in the students’ hostel attached to Dungar College. Once back in his palace he summoned the principal, Dr. Sampoornanand and said, “Professor, the hostel seems to have become a den of rebels. Get the picture of Gandhi removed and secure the letter of resignation from the warden.” Sampoornanand replied, “If displaying Gandhiji’s picture is an offence, I too am an offender. There is a picture of the Mahatma on my table as well”. Before the ruler could utter a word, he sat down, wrote out his resignation letter, handed it to Singh and walked out. From MAHAKOSHAL SANDESH (Hindi ), March 29, 2004.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 49

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ONE

A hundred years ago, there lived in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, Bharat, a saint by name Gaadge Baba, born in a peasant family. Broom in hand, he used to clean temples, ashrams, schools and roads, all the while singing loudly “Gopalaa! Gopalaa! Devaki nandana Gopalaa!” At the outset, people ignored him. But in due course, thousands became his followers. Remembering his service to humanity with gratitude, the state government of Maharashtra conducted a year-long hygiene campaign in 2003. In this campaign, the state administration as well as voluntary organizations participated. Dr. Chandragupta Shri.Varnekar, a professor of the Cummins College, Pune, cites Gaadge Baba’s example in an article to highlight the contamination of the space around Earth by over 1,000 space ships launched into the outer space by more than 20 countries ever since 1957 when Sputnik was fired by Russia. Dr. Varnekar quotes scientists as saying that the contamination is a maximum at heights from 200 kms to 3,600 kms above Earth. Varnekar also mentions the concern of the scientific community over this condition expressed at the 21st global conference of Inter-Agency Space-Debri Coordination Committee convened by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at Bangalore recently.

Based on an article by Dr. Varnekar in SAMBHASHANA SANDESHAH (Samskrit monthly), July 2004 samskrit@satyam.net.in

TWO

1. At Kanchipuram, the pilgrim cum silk center of Tamilnadu, Sri Kumaran Health Centre, a private hospital, charges just Rs. 3 per patient as registration fee. And nothing more. For any kind of treatment. Whether it is common cold or a minor surgery. A leading cloth merchant firm of the same name is running the Centre through a charitable trust since 1996. Though it is almost free, the every inch of the hospital is kept very clean. Based on a report by Shri. Durai Arul Karthik in DINAMANI, August 20, 2003. 2. This doctor, hailing from Thalakkulam, Kanyajkumari district, Tamilnadu, Bharat, has conducted over 100 free medical camps benefiting fishermen in coastal villages. He is Dr. Arumugam, 50, a cardiac surgeon and neurologist, serving people of his village through a trust named after his father Palaniyandi and mother Sarojini. His P.S. Medical Centre consists of a nurses’ training school also. Arumugam is running a Community College with the help of Manonmaniyam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, to help students of the area find a job. Both his legs were immobilized soon after Arumugam graduated from the medical college. So, he carries out all these activities and more, sitting in his wheel chair. Based on a report by Shri. S. Kumaran in DINAMANI, February 12, 2004. 3. Ask any autorikshaw driver or shopkeeper near the Duraisamy subway in T.Nagar, Chennai for the “one rupee doctor’s hospital”. You are sure to be guided promptly. Drop a one rupee coin in the hundi at the hospital and obtain a token. Wait in a queue. You can get medical assistance from Dr. Kumar, all for free. Mathala Manavalayya Trust began this service benefiting hut dwellers 50 years back. If it is found that a patient cannot afford to buy the prescribed medicine at the store, he is given the money to buy it. From a write-up by Smt. P. Anita in DINAMANI KADIR, October 26, 2003. 4. The same T.Nagar locality is home to the Homoeopathy clinic of Dr. Kopikkar, 89 who serves the poor for more than 66 years. He hails from Kolkatta, West Bengal, Bharat. This Homoeopath differs from others of his kind in that he prescribes medicines whereas the usual practice is to issue the medicine. He dispels the popular notion that Homoeopathy is slow in providing cure. Even emergencies could be handled by Homoeopathy, he asserts. Based on a report by Shri. S. Ramasamy in DINAMANI, April 14, 2003.

THREE

On a Saturday afternoon, an employee of a private company was seen preparing charts for a B.Ed student who is blind. A first year college student reads out a lesson word by word to a blind college student who took it down in Braille. The venue: Padma Seshadri Bal Bhavan School, KK Nagar, chennai. The volunteers: Members of Sree Satya Sayee Seva Samiti. They hail from middle class families opting to spend their weekly holiday usefully. 50 students benefit by their service every year. This has been going on for the past 10 years, with the help of 400 volunteers. Light refreshments and coffee are served by the volunteers during the lesson sessions. The volunteers refuse to disclose their names to the media. That is the level of self-denial on the part of the volunteers.

Based on a report by Shri. S. Shashidharan in DINAMANI, August 27, 2004.

FOUR

The Ambattur Industrial Estate near Chennai, Tamilnadu, Bharat, can very well boast of a unit – A One Seals Ltd - wherein the factory owner allows his employees to spend 40 minutes every day out of the working hours for practicing Yoga. Women workers do Yoga in the mornings from 8.30 to 9.10 and the men from 5.20 to 6.00 in the evenings. “As the men do Yoga after factory hours, I allow them overtime wages for that” says Shri. Gireesan, the owner, a B.Tech (Polymer Technology) gold medallist from the Kochi University. He disapproves of the daily exercise for ten minutes before the start of work as practiced in Korea and Japan. So, the 40 minute Yoga. He says Yoga helps sustain the productivity of his workers in addition to relieving their body pain following continuous work.

Based on an interview with Shri. Gireesan, published in the October 2004 issue of SWADESHI SEIDHI, Tamil monthly, Coimbatore - 12.

FIVE

The hutment named after Dr. B.R.Ambedkar close to the bus stand in Thiruvannamalai, a district headquarters in Tamilnadu, Bharat, presents a typical picture: little boys and girls play happily along the narrow lanes. An agent from a church nearby picks up a few of them, takes them to the church and begins implanting hate for anything Hindu in their impressionable minds. By and by, the picture in the lanes changes. The joyous shout of the children is stilled. Three schoolboys, living in the same lane, note the difference. Studying in 9th, 10th and 11th standard, they start ‘Gita Class’ right there on the roadside. They collect the children and regale them with popular Puranic tales that they gather from religious TV serials. That makes for their ‘Gita Class’! Gradually, the hutment children stop going to the church and return to the roadside class of their friends. An annoyed churchman tries to browbeat the trio by daunting them, “What Gita? Do you know Bhagavad Gita?” The threesome politely gives him correct replies to his questions. Next, the fellow tries to cajole the parents, who were in fact alerted by his advances. They build a small thatched shed on a vacant plot in the lane for the Gita Class and tell the children, “Why should we sit on the road?” Now, the Gita Class happily goes on in the shed. And the cheerful shout of the children playing has returned to the hutment.

Based on a report in VIJAYABHARATAM,

Tamil weekly, Chennai – 31, dated October 29, 2004.

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PANCHAAMRITAM - 50

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ONE

On Deepavali eve, workers of ‘Seva Bharati - Hosur’ (Tamilnadu, Bharat) went round the industrial town meeting friends and relatives, seeking contributions from them for celebrating Deepavali in the company of the inmates of Anbu Illam, an orphanage. This is an annual service activity and the townsmen happily come forward with their mite. Shri. Subramaniam (name changed), an employee of TVS Motors, is one among them. This year, however, the workers of Seva Bharati found him in the middle of a financial crisis. Father of three daughters, he was in deep debt and had to sell his house and had just received an advance amount from the buyer of his house. So, they tried to desist from accepting his contribution this year. But, Subramaniam argued, “Would I fail to buy new dress for my daughters on Deepavali day, however much I might be hard pressed for money?” He donated Rs. 600 from out of the advance and successfully persuaded the workers to accept it.

(Based on a chat with a social worker of Hosur).

TWO

PANCHAAMRITAM reader Ramya Ramaswamy has seent in the following useful information: Fertile lands are being poisoned continuously by using various chemicals like the pesticides & insecticides. Smt. Shantha Ramaswamy (Sreevatsa Farms) of Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, Bharat, has been using Panchagavyam – a mixture of milk, ghee, cow's urine, curd, and cow dung as an eco-friendly nutrient for the plants.. She collects the milk which flows from the sanctum of Hindu Temples after abhishekham on Pradosham days (monthly twice). Usually this milk is allowed to flow into the gutter. Thus, the blessed milk is put to good use. Also, the gutters in the temple premises are free from the stink of stale milk. She has noticed a marked difference by using panchagavya instead of the chemicals. There is a lot of cross-pollination, as milk based panchagavyam does not harm the birds and bees. Shanta also uses a mixture of erukku + neem to ward off insects harmful to the plants. Using earthworm, all the fallen leaves are converted into valuable manure. This way, she has been practising organic farming for the last 2 years. She also propagates this in and around Coimbatore.

THREE

Pallathur is a small village off Karaikkudi town in Sivaganga district, Tamilnadu, Bharat. Shri. Paalavalathaan celebrated his 103rd birthday on October 31, 2004. Born in 1901, he had fought the British during World War II, as a soldier of the Azad Hind Fauj (INA) of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Father of 5 sons and one daughters, he is today the proud grandfather, great–grandfather, great great–grandfather to 107 offsprings in all. The latest addition to his family is the baby girl born to his great granddaughter, rendering him the patriarch for five generations, who gather around him once a year. But Paalavalathaan needs no assistance to move about. He looks after himself. He himself washes his shirt and dhoti. When his family members tried to make him apply for his INA pension, Paalavalathaan said no and he prevailed upon them saying, “Do not try to attach a price tag to sacrifice”. His constant message to his descendants: “If your thought is good, you will find that good things alone happen”.

Based on a report in DINA THANTHI (Tamil Daily) of November 1, 2004.

FOUR

Precincts of a Hindu temple in Alwarkurichi near Ambasamudram, Tamilnadu, Bharat. An outdoor cinema-shooting unit was at work all over there. They were there to film a song and dance sequence for a Tamil film ‘Konji Pesa Vaa’. The hero, Vamshi and the heroine Nayakishree (scantily dressed) were all set to whirl before the camera. The shooting was on. All on a sudden, about 100 persons led by a youth of the village surrounded the unit and started shouting “Stop the shooting and get out!” The youth firmly informed the director of the film that they were determined to prevent the sanctity of the temple premises from being violated by the filming of obscene sequences. They demanded that the exposed film role be handed over to them. The shooting team tried to pacify them by offering to donate a tidy sum to the temple. That did not click. The filmmakers had no other way but to avoid offending the religious feelings of the youths who went ahead and demanded a written undertaking from the director that the scenes shot there shall not be included in the film.

Based on an article by Shri. Nellai Kuralone in DINAMALAR VAARAMALAR (Tamil weekly) of November 7, 2004.

FIVE

TIME Asia magazine features 38-year-old Gautam Goswami, District Collector, Patna, Bihar, Bharat, as one among the ’20 Asian Heroes’ in its issue dated October 11, 2004. When flash floods hit Bihar in July, Goswami coordinated for a month a massive relief effort that involved the government, Army and international aid agencies. He used to get up at 4.30 in the morning to monitor the distribution of relief materials. He works on till 11 in the night. A physician by training, he treats anyone who is ill at any time of the day or night. The number of such beneficiaries on some days would be 100 or more. Goswami spends half of his salary in helping the poor. Though transferred 12 times during his 15-year career, he is steadfast in his uprightness. Goswami was put in charge of the ballot in 1999. He barricaded Patna, so that gunmen in cars couldn’t enter the city. He set up telephone lines for citizens to call in with complaints. In 1999 and 2004, with Goswami as the overseer, Patna had the two fairest elections it had seen in years.

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1 comment:

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