Monday, April 18, 2011


Vishwa Samvad Kendra, Chennai


Pancha is five in Samskritam, Amritam is nectar

Poornima/ Kali Yugaabda 5113 / Kara Chithirai 4 (April 17, 2011)


It was Saturday, 16 April 2011. About 2,00,000 people watched in utter astonishment as the starry night suddenly turned cloudy and a heavy downpour, accompanied by strong winds, drenched the `yagasala' altar in Panjal, near Shoranur (Kerala, Bharat) after it was set afire to mark the ceremonial end of Athirathram, the ancient Vedic fire ritual. They erupted into thunderous applause as the first drops of the rain fell. Rain appeared miraculously because the weather throughout the day was blistering hot and dry and the sky remained starry and clear in the evening. It changed in five minutes as the sky turned dark and a strong wind built up at around 9.30 p.m. `The rain was caused by the strong convection current generated by the smoke rising from the altar and the continuous chanting of the mantras,' V.P.N. Namboodiri, head of the research team of the Panjal Athirathram. The 12-day fire ritual for peace, purification, fertility, health and rain began April 4. It was organised by a local non-profit group Varthathe Trust to revive dying Vedic traditions in the country. The village was host to four major Athirathrams in 1901, 1918, 1956 and 1975.


That was 27 years ago. Shri Dadaji Khobragade of Nanded Fakir village in Chandrapur district (Maharashtra, Bharat) noticed yellow seeds in three spikes of a paddy stalk in his field. Intrigued by the freak harvest, he preserved the grains. He subsequently planted them in a six-foot square plot, which he covered with thorny branches to keep foraging animals away. As the plants began to mature, he noticed that they had a firm kom, or ear, with straight grains. His doubts were confirmed when he harvested 250 grams of the paddy. "The grains were plentiful in each kom," he recalls. Realising that he had chanced upon a special rice variety, he continued the experiment, and this time he got 10 kilograms of paddy. The family cooked the rice and marvelled at its taste. In 1988, Khobragade sowed 4 kg of seeds in a 10-foot square plot and harvested 400 kg of paddy. The following year, he sowed about 100 kg of seeds and got 90 bags of paddy. He shared the harvested paddy with other farmers, and they too began sowing the new-found rice variety. After five years of research, Khobragade developed a variety of short-grained paddy that had an average yield of 40-45 quintals a hectare with a recovery rate of 80 per cent. The rice was aromatic and had a high cooking quality. Khobragade named the new variety HMT, on an impulse, after the brand of wristwatch he was wearing when he went to sell the first bag of paddy in the market. HMT went on to become one of India's most popular varieties and is sown across five States on at least one lakh acres (one acre = 0.4 hectare). Khobragade was 45 years old when he developed HMT. He is now 72. In the intervening years, he developed eight more varieties of paddy. He likens the rice varieties to his children. Vijay Waghmare, Collector of Chandrapur district, said that the Department of Agriculture was assisting Khobragade with developing his latest variety so that he followed certain procedures that would enable him to patent the variety. From FRONTLINE,  January 15-28, 2011.


Smt Uma Devi works as a science teacher in the Narayani Baalika High School, Patna (Bihar, Bharat). Every day she comes to school by train. One day, she left her hand bag in the train. The bag contained Rs 4,000 in cash, her mobile phone costing Rs 2,000, house key bunch, her spectacles, medicine, etc. She realized that her bag was missing only after reaching home. She almost fainted. But gathering her wits, she dialed her mobile number. The voice on the other end reassured her that her property will be duly handed over to her soon. It so happened that the bag was in the possession of a Swayamsevak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Shri Ananda Kumar (26), a resident of Kashmiri Chowk, Nalanda district. Within a few days, Ananda Kumar visited  the Narayani Baalika High School, collected the residential address of Uma Devi, reached the teacher's house, accompanied by a Swayamsevak of the Rajendra Nagar Shakha and handed over the bag to her with all its contents.  SAMVAD DARSHAN, Hindi fortnightly, Patna; March (I) 2011. 


Masthamma is a 65-yearold Soliga tribal healer with a vast knowledge of herbal medicines; shelives in Hebbal, Mysore district (Karnataka, Bharat). The popularity of this illiterate miwife spread far and wide after she launched a campaign against Caesarean sections, by naturally delivering more than 2,000 babies. She claims zero mortality of mothers and babies in the last 40 years. When husband Arasayya, an agricultural labourer, was forced out along with other tribals from their forest habitat in early 70's, she was forced to follow her parents into becoming a midwife. Over the years her fame spread through word of mouth across the state. Now many people in cities want her to stay over and take care of their pregnant daughters. She advises pregnant women to be active, and deliver while squatting. Though struggling to make ends meet, Masthamma is determined to pass her knowledge of herbal medicines to her daughter Shivamma to carry on her legacy.

THE NEW SUNDAY EXPRESS (Magazine) April 10, 2011.             

Read this as well. This one is from PANCHAAMRITAM 82: "Smt. Kanha Devi of Muzaffarpur (Bihar, Bharat) has helped 10,000 infants to land on this planet safely during the last two decades. Yes, she practices midwifery. Not a single case out of the 10,000 deliveries she attended on was a failure. The highlight is that she is blind since birth. Her husband forsake her. But she chose not to rue her fate. Today she is a much sought after dhai in her neighbourhood.(Based on a clipping telecast by ND TV- 24/7 news channel on February 10, 2006)".


The warmth and generosity of Chennaites has given 36-year- old teacher Smt  Kiyomi Tanaka, born in Kyoto, Japan, comfort. Kiyomi has been living in Ambattur since June 2008. She teaches Japanese to the students of the Soka Ikeda College of Arts and Science for Women, Manapakkam. The institute has strong ties with Japan and regularly receives Japanese students as part of its foreign exchange programme. They also send their own students to study at the Soka University in Tokyo. Kiyomi had just completed her class when one of her students informed her about the earthquake and the tsunami. "I didn't know about the news initially, but after that my phone had not stopped stop ringing," she says. "Many of my Tamil friends were calling to ask me if my family was doing ok. Even the cleaners and drivers at the school, who do not know English, stopped me in the hallway to ask me if my loved ones were fine. I feel very fortunate to be here with such nice people." From a report by Will Date in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS, March 21,  2011.