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Monday, January 30, 2006

AIDS awareness programme held

Belgaum heads the list of HIV in the region and hence there is a drastic need to create awareness in the region, said Renuka Shenoy of Prerana Academy, resource person and counsellor of Family Planning Associations of India (FPAI), Belgaum.

She was speaking at an AIDS awareness programme organised by Lingaraj College, Belgaum, in association with the FPAI, Belgaum branch, at the college premises recently. She said lack of proper communication was mainly due to the practice of gender difference.

Renuka said there were some chapters on procreative organs in textbooks, but the students hardly had any knowledge about sex. She elaborately discussed the spread and prevention of HIV.

Renuka said the main cause spreading HIV was unprotected sexual intercourse.

She advised that it was better to be open-minded about sex, and it should be protected.

She stressed on married couples to regularly use condoms.

Sudden loss of weight, rashes on the body, etc., are some of the symptoms of HIV infection, she added.

She said any person could get infected by HIV due to carelessness.

Principal of the college, B K Jagajampi presided over the function. Prof F B Patil welcomed. Ghadkari and Rajashri Goodnavar compered the programme.

Vikas R Kalghatgi, Vice-President, FPAI, Prakash Kalkundrikar, former president of Giants, staff and students were present on the occasion.

English as a subject not enough, says NCP

PANJIM, GOA : The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has thanked Education Minister Luizinho Faleiro for heeding to the party’s demand to reintroduce English at the primary level but hastened to add that the introduction of English as a subject was not enough.
In a press note, party general Secretary and Spokesman Surendra Furtado said that unless English was made a medium of instruction at primary level the knowledge of English for jobs will not be sufficient.
He said, past experience has shown that without the day-to-day usage of English, the required fluency is lost and what eventually is churned out by schools are students who know a smatter of the language rather than the working knowledge to get the much sought after while collar jobs.
Furtado pointed out that the medium of instructions was an aberration since the switch over from English to the vernacular language came forth due to grants and nothing else.
He said, teaching the students in either English or Konkani as medium of instructions at primary level and then switching over to English at secondary level is fraught with danger and pointed out to the numerous dropouts at the secondary level because there is no “fluency in English”.
The NCP spokesman advocated Konkani as a compulsory subject at the primary level rather than the English in the wake of Goan tendency to immigrate for jobs, even work at call centers where English is the soul of the job.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Love bug bites Konkona Sen

Page 3 star Konkana Sen Sharma is in love!

Well, the rumour mills are rife that Konkona is dating Channel [V] VJ Ranvir Shenoy, who has also done some movies.

According to sources, Konkana and Shenoy fell in love while working for a film. The couple just cannot stay without each other. In fact, they were even spotted shopping together buying fruits and vegetables.

The actress has confessed her love to the media.

ICICI to Double Share of Overseas Business by 2008

ICICI Bank Ltd., India's second biggest lender, expects overseas business to contribute 30 percent to profit by 2008, twice as much as now, as it boosts credit to domestic companies seeking to expand abroad.

``We're probably looking at this business growing to 30 percent of profit'' by 2008, Chief Executive Officer K.V. Kamath said yesterday in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. ``We think that this will get to be a substantial piece of our overall balance sheet.''

Rising prices of commodities, a stronger local currency and faster-than-expected economic growth have encouraged many Indian companies to buy assets abroad, opening up new avenues for ICICI, State Bank of India and other lenders. ICICI last year bought a bank in Moscow and opened a branch in Hong Kong to capture the business of Indian companies trading with China and Japan.

``There's a good potential for Indian banks to earn more from the offshore market as companies carry their relationship with banks'' when they expand overseas, said Rajat Jain, chief investment officer at Principal Asset Management, which has $1.6 billion in assets and 250,432 ICICI shares. ``Banks are going beyond just earning from overseas Indians.''

ICICI, which raised $1.75 billion in December, is looking to boost its share of the remittances market. An estimated 25 million Indians living in the U.S., the U.K., the Middle East and Southeast Asia sent $22 billion back home last year. A fifth of this money was sent through ICICI, Kamath said.

ICICI has units in Canada, the U.K. and Russia, and is also present in markets such as Bahrain, Dubai, Singapore and the U.S.

`Credit Cycle'

Indian companies and individuals are borrowing more, taking advantage of interest rates that are the lowest in three decades. An average 6.3 percent annual economic growth in the past decade, the fastest in more than 50 years, has encouraged spending. ICICI's shares are the fifth-biggest gainers on the benchmark Sensex over the past 12 months.

``I don't see a credit cycle which will turn worse,'' Kamath said today. ``When a country starts to emerge from poverty, growth sustains for 15 or 20 years. Maybe we are in the third, fourth year of that cycle, so we have a long way to go.''

The ratio of consumer lending to gross domestic product is about 10 percent in India, leaving room for future growth, ICICI forecasts. That compares with a ratio of 53 percent in Taiwan and 34 percent in Malaysia.

Almost two-thirds of ICICI's loans in the December quarter were given to individuals to purchase homes, cars and other durables, helping the lender post a 24 percent jump in profit.

The lender's shares rose 3.7 percent to 619.35 rupees on the Mumbai stock exchange on Friday.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Specialist: Georgia needs more emergency plans

The Georgian government needs to build a response plan in case of emergency situations in the energy sector, an American energy expert thinks.

"There should be a plan in terms of different scenarios of what could happen, so when it happens you are in a far better position to fix it, rather than doing it in hot manner," Bhamy Shenoy told The Messenger.

The emergency plan is only a part of the energy strategy Georgia needs to bring to action, says Shenoy, who is also a member of the advisory board of the state-owned oil and gas producer Saknavtobi.

He contends the government also should put an emphasis on developing an integrated energy plan that includes diversification of gas sources. Already Georgia anticipates receiving an additional source as Shah-Deniz gas pipeline starts operating presumably later this year. But Shenoy urges Georgia to not only depend on Shah-Deniz gas but look for additional sources.

Currently the government views Iran as a potential energy provider. Minister of Energy Nika Gilauri held talks with the Iranian government this week. Although Gilauri did not comment on details of his talks, he said there is a theoretical and practical possibility for Iran to become an alternative supplier.

Shenoy says the decision of Georgia to seek out Iran as an alternative source of gas was a real surprise to him and warns Georgia should be cautious not to upset the United States by making an agreement with Iran. "The United States is definitely a big ally of Georgia and it helped Georgia in many ways," he said.

Shenoy gives the example of India who at one time considered getting gas from Iran. "Even a country like India could not totally ignore what the United States will do [in response]. So when such a country like India is thinking of [the U.S. position], I cannot imagine Georgia is in a position to totally ignore this," he said.

If Iran satisfies its nuclear ambitions, it would end up isolated and Georgia would be cut off from Iranian energy, Shenoy forecast: "This was not a good move on part of Georgia to have approached Iran at this particular time."

It was a surprise for Shenoy that Georgians have so far taken the energy crisis in stride and not broke out in protests and public dissatisfaction.

A specialist in the gas sector, Shenoy doubts there is anything the capital's gas distributor Tbilgazi can do in such an emergency. "The way it is managed, Tbilgazi is totally incapable of handling this kind of emergency situation," he said. Shenoy advised officials to at least prepare liquid propane importers to bring in more supplies.

The expert, however, thinks Tbilgazi should develop its own response plans for emergency situations. "They should be thinking about such kinds of things earlier, and expect that they cannot afford to depend only on one source and to put more pressure on the government to look for such sources," he said.

Shenoy thinks the government should give a higher priority to storage of gas, liquid propane and fuel oil. "It should really look at how commodities are to be stored, but especially gas," he said.

Several Georgian and Russian experts said the explosions in North Ossetia will spoil Russia's image as an energy supplier. Shenoy agrees Europe will look for other sources of gas and says that this will happen especially after the dispute between Russia and Ukraine over gas and the recent explosions.

"Every time they [Europe] will think of getting any supplies from Russia, simultaneously they will have to think in terms of what they should do, what kind of a price Russia will get. It will definitely be less. If some other country comes forward with gas even at a higher price, they are likely to give more preference to that supply than to Russia," he said.

Students make a sweeping success of beach clean-up

On R-Day they did their bit for coastal environment; 40 handicapped kids join in too..

Environment conservation is a burning issue. And city students took it upon themselves to do their bit in preserving and protecting the city’s environment as they picked up the broom to sweep the city’s sun-kissed beaches recently.
Many a student from various city schools participated in a massive beach clean-up on Wednesday. The exercise was organised at Shivaji Park by Orchid, Asia’s first ecotel hotel. Out of the various children thronging the beach, about 40 were physically challenged.
Of these, 22 were from Mookdhwani School in Vile Parle while the others were students of the Sanskardham Vidyalya, also from Parle. The students assembled at the pre-decided venue at 9 am and swept the shores clean working their way till over a couple of hours later. The students cleaned up one stretch of the coast, spanning over three to four kilometers.
The schools which participated included Activity High School, S.V.D.Devshi Secondary School, Regina Pacis Convent High School, AII English Primary School, Oxford Public School, Divine Child High School, L. Poddar ICSE School, Digambar Patkar Vidyala, Mookdhwani, anskardham Vidyalya, Trinity High School, K.V.K. Ghatkopar, Saifee Girls High School, BKM School, Sarvajanik School, IES (Matunga) and Sathya Sai Seva Organisation.
Commending the efforts of the students, Vithal Kamat, chairman and managing director, The Orchid said, “Every year we involve students to undertake certain environment campaigns. This year I am very happy to see even physically challenged students coming forward to support the drive.”
Expressing his gratitude to the principals and teachers of the participating schools, Kamat said, “The reason for targeting students was that children are more enthusiastic and imbibe ideas quicker than adults. We decided to undertake the beach-cleaning drive because we felt that these students should set an example to other students on Republic Day.”
Noting that if every individual took small steps to save the environment, the overall impact would be significant, Kamat added that the children could begin with their own homes by doing little things like not wasting water and electricity. “Later, they can join an NGO or a local government organisation. The idea is to get them involved when they are young so that they can inculcate and imbibe environment consciousness from an early age,” Kamat explained.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Elephant experts, mahouts to be honoured

Kochi: Five leading elephant experts and 100 mahouts in Kerala will be honoured for the first time - and the latter will also get free insurance.

Balakrishna Shenoy, vice president of Elephant Care, an NGO, told IANS: "The function is unique because this is being jointly organised by the Kerala forest department, the Elephant Owners Welfare Association and us."

The event will take place Saturday.

"For the first time we are giving free insurance cover of Rs.100,000 to 100 mahouts," Shenoy said.

The experts who will he honoured are Radhakrishna Kaimal, K.C. Panicker, Muraleedharan Nair, Jacob V. Cheeran and Vaidyan Maheswaran Namboodiripadu. All of them will get the title 'Palakappya'.

Palakappya is an ancient sage who wrote the ayurveda text known as "Hasthi Ayurveda", which literally translates into Ayurveda of Elephants.

Four of the experts are leading veterinarians specialising in elephant care, while Namboodiripadu is an ayurveda expert in treating elephants.

Elephant Care is collating information for a survey of captive elephants in Kerala. Kerala reportedly has more than 700 captive elephants.

Sankranti Utsav celebrated

MANGALORE: Yakshagana Kala Mandali, Panambur has been conducting Sankranti Utsav with great pomp every year. This year the utsav was held at Nataraja Ranga Sangama at Shree Nandaneshwara Temple recently.

On the occasion several competitions from kinder garten to high school level inter-district cultural programmes were held.

The programme was inaugurated by S Gopal Krishna of New Mangalore Port Trust and was presided over by literatteur Anantharam Rao.

Painting competition, elocution competition, quiz competition, and bhajan competitions were conducted in which public and students participated in large numbers.

In painting competition, M Vaibhav Shenoy won first place while Nitesh Kumar and Bharat won second place in the primary level.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

P N Shanbaug Elected President of Konkani Bhasha Mandal

Election for the executive body of Konkani Bhasha Mandal Mumbai was held for the first time this year. P N Shanbaug got elected as president as his was the only nomination filed to that position. The general body by voice vote elected veteran banker John D'Silva as the vice president.

Election to the committee members posts was necessitated as none of the candidates were prepared to withdraw the nomination papers. Senior members' efforts to have a smooth unanimous election did not succeed.

Interestingly, most of the new faces in the field got elected. The elected members are Ancy Paladka, Joy Paladka, P N Shanbaug, Cyprian Albuquerqe, Leo Fernandes, S S Kodkani, J B Moraes, Joe DSouza, Sheela Kolambkar and Lawrence D'Souza.

The new committee met and elected other office-bearers as follows:

Secretary: Joy Paladka
Tresurer: Leo Fernandes
Chairman: J B Moraes
Asst. Secretary: Ancy Paladka
Asst. Treasurer: Sudhir Kodkani

Konkani Bhasha Mandal is the oldest Konkani organization which was founded on April 5, 1942. The body got revived in 1992 and was registered in 1995. Since then this is the first time that elections were held to this organization to choose their committee members.

Konkani Parishad's silver jubilee session in February

Delegates from Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Goa to attend

  • Artiste and writer Girish Karnad and pop star Remo Fernandes will attend
  • Chief Minister Pratapsing Rane and Governor S.C. Jamir will be special invitees
  • Seminars will be held on a variety of topics

The All India Konkani Parishad is expecting a major turnout from Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra apart from Goa for its three-day silver jubilee session to be held here from February 10.

Addressing presspersons on Tuesday, organisers led by Chairman of reception committee MP Shantaram Naik said that they expected over 4,000 delegates from Goa for the session. Efforts are on to get at least 200 delegates from the other three states.

The parishad was established in 1939 in Karwar. Since then, the parishad has held its 24 biennial sessions in Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.

Mr. Naik said that efforts are on to invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to open the session.

Among the dignitaries to attend the session will be artiste and writer Girish Karnad, actress Varsha Usgaonkar, pop star Remo Fernandes and Karnataka Minister R.V. Deshpande. Goa Chief Minister Pratapsing Rane and Goa Governor S.C. Jamir will be special invitees.

Writer and activist of Konkani movement Paul Moras of Mangalore will be President of the 25th Parishad.

Office-bearer of the parishad Tanaji Halankar said that recipient of the Sahitya Academy Award for 2005 N. Shivadas will be felicitated at the session.


Twelve former Presidents of the parishad hailing from Karnataka, Kerala and Goa will also be felicitated.

Seminars will be organised on topics such as "cultural state of Konkani people- possibilities and prospects", "use and interaction of Konkani language through information technology", "economics, politics and sociology of traditional occupations of the Konkani society", "non- Konkani people and their "Konkani-isation" and "Konkani education and its practical utility".

Monday, January 23, 2006

Help Me Konkanis updated

A Mail from Umesh Kamath

Free bone mineral density check-up at KMC Hospital

MANGALORE: KMC Hospital Attavar will conduct a two-day free bone mineral density check-up, peripheral neuropathic screening and consultation by doctors from January 23.

Eminent orthopaedic surgeons Dr Surendra Kamath, Dr K R Kamath and Dr Amarnath Savur of KMC Hospitals will examine patients during the camp.

According to a press release from chief operating officer (COO) Dr Sunil Deshpande, the advantage of this Bone Mineral Density (BMD) investigation is that no ionizing radiation is required.

Dr Deshpande said, “The aim of providing BMD test free is to enable people, poor and rich, to know their bone mineral density and have an understanding at the earliest stage”.

People can utilise the opportunity by walking into the clinic from 10 am to 5 pm. A total of 150 patients can be accommodated in the camp per day.

For more details patients can contact (0824) 2445858 extn:5203.

Develop money saving attitude, students told

Vijay Prabhu, regional manager of Syndicate Bank, Hubli, advised students to develop the attitude of saving money by opening a savings account in a bank for future economic stability.

He was speaking after inaugurating a workshop on ‘Synd Samanya Saving Account’ organised by KLE Society’s M R Sakhare High School for students here recently.

He said the bank had launched the ‘Synd Samanya’ banking scheme in all its branches.

In this system, apart from the general public, students could also open an account with an initial deposit of Rs 25 and this would supplement the latter for pursuing higher studies in the future, he added.

GSB Vrinda Celebrates Konkani Diwas

GSB Mahila Vrinda celebrated Konkani Diwas at Gokarnamath Dwarakanath auditorium in City, recently.
Veeravenkatesh Charitable Trust president A K Manjunath, who presided over the function said, it is the responsibility of the parents to preserve and encourage Kokani as a mother tongue and develop Konkani culture in younger generation.
The ideology of late B V Baliga, who started the observation of Konkani Diwas, is in fact commendable, he said.

GSB Yuvaka Vrinda Fund managing secretary G Vishwanath Bhat was honoured on the occasion for his contribution to social service and literary field, while, Srinivas Pathashale former head Indira Nayak was also felicitated.
Prizes were distributed to the winners of different competitions. Mahila Vrinda founder president Malathiu M Kamath, present president Vasudha and secretary Kasturi Kamath were present.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Prasar Bharti to air 'Bharatiyan' series on Indian history

Prasar Bharti Chairman M V Kamat today announced that the broadcasting body has planned to air by the year 2007 a 520-episode mega project 'Bharatiyan' on the history of the country from 1857, in commemoration of the birth of the country's public broadcast system 'Akashvani'.

Addressing a press conference after chairing the two-day board meeting of Prasar Bharti here, he said the mega project would be brought out in three parts, five days a week. The first part would cover the country's history from 1857 to 1897 with special reference to Swami Vivekananda's address in Chicago and the starting of Sri Ramakrishna Mission. The second part (1898-1947) would wax eloquently about the freedom struggle against colonial rule. The final part would highlight the growth the country had achieved in all fields after independence.

Stating that the main objective of the project was to make the younger generation aware of the nation's rich and glorious history, Mr Kamat said most of the episodes would be primarily in-house productions and be both in documentary and dramatised versions. In cases where documents were available, it would be used and in others it would be made in dramatised form.

Replying to a query, he said the cost of production would be less wherever documents were available. Each episode would cost from Rs eight lakh to Rs ten lakh based on the format.

Prasar Bharti Chief Executive Officer K S Sharma said the project was the brainchild of Mr Kamat and primarily the episodes would be in Hindi. All India Radio Director General Brijeshwar Singh would be the overall in-charge of the project.

St Aloysius Teacher Gopalakrishna Bhat Bags Highest Award in Scouts

Bar to Medal of Merit, the highest State honour for service in scouts has been awarded to U Gopalakrishna Bhat, teacher in St Aloysius High School, Mangalore. He has been guiding the younger generation through scout activities and also has been training the teachers not only in the district and State, but also in other states.

Bhat is a national-level trainer since 1989. Bhat was awarded Medal of Merit in 1998 and has been conferred with the Best Teacher of the district award in 2003 by the Education department.

Bhat is presently rendering service as honorary headquarters commissioner in Bharath Scouts and Guides, DK district.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Omega Hospital Goes to the 'Heart' of the Problem

Radio-frequency catheter Ablation has proved to be a boon for patients with rare heart disease and the good news is that the city has a centre with the technology to treat such ailments.

For the first time in the district, Omega Hospital here has been successful in treating two patients using the technique.

According to Dr K Mukund, director of the hospital, two patients aged 42 and 18 respectively were found to have a rare heart ailment as they used to suffer sudden loss of consciousness due to rapid heart beats which in medical terminology is called ‘Reentrant Tachycardia’. In such case the heart beats will be above 200 per minute.

Diognised by senior cardiologist Dr P S Bhat, the patients were advised to undergo catheter-based technique of radio-frequency ablation.

The operation, conducted at the hospital under the guidance of Dr Bhat, Mukund and Dr R L Kamath, went on for almost 4 hours involving the technique through which multiple catheters were passed through the femoral veins and right jugular vein into the heart and extra communicatory pathways. Doctors opine that this is minimally invasive procedure, which does not need general anaesthesia and patients need to stay in the hospital for a day or two.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

PM invited to inaugurate 25th AIKP in Goa on Feb 10

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been invited to inaugurate the three-day silver jubilee session of the All India Konkani Parishad (AIKP) to be held here from February 10.

Rajya Sabha member Shantaram Naik, who is the chairman of the reception committee and parishad's working president Dr Tanaji Halarnekar told mediapersons here today that as many as 1,000 delegates from Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa and other parts of the country will attend the session.

Among the dignitaries expected to attend the event are - Goa Governor S C Jamir, Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, Karnataka Minister for Cooperation R V Deshpande, noted writer Girish Karnad, actress Varsha Usgaonkar and poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar

Konkani writer and activist from Mangalore, Paul Moras has been elected president of the session.

The parishad provides a common platform to the Konkani people to interact and facilitate exchange of views regarding Konkani language, literature, education, culture and society as a whole, they said.

Mr Naik said the session will promote interaction between Konkani people across region, religion and caste.

The past 24 presidents of the parishad, representatives of the Konkani Bhasha Mandal in all the four states that are affiliated to the parishad and the Sahitya Akademi award winner for Konkani for 2005, N Shivadas, will be felicitated for their dedicated service to the parishad and the promotiopn of Konkani language and culture.

As a part of the session, an exhibition of Konkani books, cassettes and VCDs published and produced in all the four states will be held.

The parishad was established in 1939 in Karwar. Since then its 24 biannual sessions have been held in Goa, Maharashtra and Kerala.

Participant’s death dampens spirit of youth at Konkani festival

The 11th Konkani Yuva Mahotsav ended this evening on a sorrowful note as one of the participants and a student of Goa College of Music, Ms Shamma Shirodkar killed in a road accident, while returning home on a motorcycle at Grant Neura, few kms away from the venue of the festival.

Young boys and girls from various higher secondaries and colleges who had cheered up the mohotsava venue amidst drum beats since yesterday dampened their spirit after hearing the tragic news about the death of their participating colleague. Though some youth rushed to the spot, which was hardly few kms away from the venue, they could not control their emotions.

The gathering, which was attended by some Konkani writers, poets and others were shocked over the incident and a pal of gloom descended on the festive mood. The different youth groups, who are competing hard against each other have had in one voice decided not to participate in the remaining contest, especially a popular item Mustaiki, a humorous skit contest.

A first year music student, Ms Shirodkar had earlier shown her skill in ‘Lok Mand’ contest. She told her colleagues that she is returning home to Shiroda with her cousin. However the tragic news trickled in the festival venue just few minutes after she left for Shiroda.

However, a formal concluding function was held, wherein the Minister of Art and Culture, Mr Digamber Kamat and the St Andre MLA, Mr Francis Silveira distributed the awards to the winners of various competitions in the festival. However, there were no claps, nor enthusiastic dancing while taking the awards.

Mr Kamat in his brief address said that the government was committed to provide the required grant to hold youth activities in Goa. The Konkani Yuva Mohotsava has changed a lot and the talents of the youth are being tapped in the festival in right earnest, Mr Kamat said and added that youth also get an opportunity to learn many creative skills in the festival.

The Vivekananda Sadarikaran, Keri, Sattari and Savoiverecho Sakyahari groups shared the first prize by scoring equal marks, while the second prize was given to Chowgule College Margao.

While proposing the vote of thanks, Mr Sandesh Prabhudessai informed that the youths should take a lesson from such road accidents. The participants had demonstrated their unity after hearing the news of the road accident and this shows how deeply they are attached to each other in Konkani Yuva Mohotsava.

Meanwhile, the St Cruz MLA, Mr Francis Silveira, who was chairman of the reception committee, the Principal of Fr Agnel College Fr Fredrick Rodrigues and President of the KBM, Mr Bhiku Naik have expressed deep condolences on the sad demise of Ms Shamma Shirodkar.

In a joint statement they have said that Ms Shirodkar was the first year music student in harmonium and immediately after the accident she was rushed to the GMC but the tragic news came when the prizes were being distributed.

They said the organizers had wound up all remaining programmes. Later, the members paid homage to the departed participant by observing two-minute silence.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A train of thought

IT IS one Marathi film that is definitely grabbing eyeballs. Incidentally, it happens to be one of the strongest contenders in the International Marathi Film competition at PIFF this year. Dombivli Fast written and directed by Nishikant Kamat portrays the victims of large-scale non-chalance, laxity and insensitivity. Madhav Apte, a middle-aged, hassled banker who decides to clean the scum from the society by taking the law in his hands, makes for a thought-provoking protagonist.

“I just wanted to show a middle-class person in realistic, contemporary settings,” says Kamat who was inspired by Robert De Niro’s character in Taxi Driver and took one and a half years to pen the story. With a gripping narrative as its USP, Dombivli Fast makes for quality entertainment as well.

<What has also leveraged the film’s appeal is its marketing strategy. “It was a conscious decision to market the film aggressively. We even had personalities like Shobhaa De and film-maker Khalid Mohammad reviewing the film,” reveals Kamat who incidentally scripted the Neha Dhupia starrer Julie.

Kamat further delves into some more trivia about his first directorial venture. “Dombivli Fast was made with a budget of over Rs 50 lakhs, that is quite a big amount for a Marathi film. Actually, I would love to make a big budget, commercial film,” he says.

For someone who began his career as an assistant director in Marathi serials, Kamat has also dabbled in editing. He has also edited a few episodes of Hum Paanch. “I became a script writer due to lack of good work in the television industry,” he says candidly.

For the time being, Kamat is enjoying a busy work schedule. After having scripted a few Hindi films which await release, he will soon start work on two Hindi films as a director. And as for Dombivli Fast that is already been requested by American distributors for a release in the US, Kamat reveals that he has already applied for an entry for this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

TMA Pai Foundation awards presented

Five distinguished Konkani personalities who have made rich contributions in their fields were presented distinguished achievement awards by Dr T M A Pai Foundation here today.

The awardees are, V. Leeladhar, Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India, B P Baliga, Vice-President, Support Services, Jet Airways (I) Pvt. Ltd., Ramdas Kamat, renowned Marathi stage artiste, Madusudhan D Kushe, Chairman and Managing Director of PVS Beedies Pvt. Ltd. and Prof. R K Rao (posthumously).

In reply to the felicitation, Leeladhar said that banks in India, especially in the public sector, have played an important role in the development of our country.

Even with the prudential norms of international standards many of the country's banks have been able to withstand even the worst of crises, he said.

Today ’s newspapers lack vision, says M V Kamath

“Newspapers of today lack vision. They prefer to entertain readers, have developed a tendency to give less information and they hardly educate,” veteran journalist and Prasar Bharathi chairperson M V Kamath said on Saturday.

Delivering a talk on challenges in journalism at the ‘Mangalore Today’ conclave held at Dr T M A Pai International Convention Centre to mark the decennial year of ‘Mangalore Today’ English monthly, Kamath stressed on the need for newspapers to have a vision. Besides providing entertainment, they should also inform and educate the public.

Earlier Kamath was felicitated by former Supreme Court judge N Santosh Hegde for his distinguished career in journalism. Justice Hegde delivering a talk on ‘Law and common man’ said society could not work without law.

Describing rumours of the Indian judicial system dying a slow death as without any substance, he said there was no dearth of law but only dearth of infrastructure.

Emphasising that judiciary was doing its best to dispose of the maximum number of cases possible; he said there was no proportionate increase in the infrastructure facilities.

The allocation for judiciary was just 0.0078 per cent, he said. Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) president Dr Ramdas M Pai who spoke on education stressed the need to introduce vocational courses from secondary year onwards.

“Students failed miserably in life because most educational courses are not job-oriented,” Pai observed.

Dr Pai also said the Sheikh in Dubai had invited MAHE to open a medical college in Dubai and the institution was considering the proposal seriously.

NITTE Education Trust president N Vinaya Hegde delivering a talk on ‘Infrastructure and Urban Development’ wondered how the civic authorities allowed 24 buildings on a particular road in the city that was just 12 feet wide.

“Why did a single intellectual citizen of Mangalore not file a public interest litigation,” he asked adding “Should I call people spineless or cowardly?”

Without mincing words Hegde said the builder himself should be made responsible for any building violations.

He also warned that Mangalore was on its way to becoming another Chennai or Bangalore if the number of slums continued to increase.

Laser Soft Infosystems Chairman Suresh Kamath delivered a talk on ‘Scope of IT’ while MRPL-ONGC former vice-president V K Thalithaya spoke on Industry and Environment.

Karnataka Bank Chairman Ananthakrishna presided and spoke on banking. Mangalore Today chief editor V U George welcomed the gathering.

The 10th anniversary issue was released by Dr B R Shetty.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

5 eminent Kokanis honoured by Pai Foundation

Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor V Leeladhar is among five eminent Konkani personalities honoured with achievement awards by Dr T M A Pai Foundation here today for their contribution to their chosen fields.The other awardees were Jet Airways India Private Limited Support Services Vice President B P Baliga, renowned Marathi stage artiste Ramdas Kamat and PVS Beedies Private Limited Director Madhusudhan D Kushe. The award was posthumously presented to Prof R K Rao.In reply to the felicitation, Mr Leeladhar said banks in the country, especially in the public sector, had played an important role in the nation's development. ''Despite prudential norms of international standard, many of our banks have been able to achieve sound financials and withstand even worst of crises.''

Friday, January 13, 2006

Milind Kamat to Drive Zyxel's India Initiative

Zyxel Communications Corporation, the networking and information security product manufacturing company and one of the worlds's leading broadband access solutions provider, has appointed Milind Kamat as its principal representative for the country.

Kamat, a distinguished networking and security industry expert, is a certified information systems security professional (CISSP) and a certified ethical hacker (CEH) by qualification. He is the principal consultant, founder and head of technology division, Landmark Management Services. Zyxel has also appointed his company, Landmark Management Services, as their India Liaison Representative Office.

Along with his professional responsibilities at Landmark, Kamat will drive Zyxel's India initiative and position it aggressively in the region in accordance with the company's business strategy. His key result areas for Zyxel in India include the entire marketing and support process, right from assessing the customer requirements for the products to developing modifications and improvements in the products, if required.

Kamat brings to Zyxel his vast experience in techno-marketing of IT hardware and software products, apart from a strong base of consultants from the domain. As an electronics & telecommunication engineer, he has been active in this field in various capacities for over two decades now.

On his new appointment, Kamat said, "With distribution, marketing, sales and technical support facilities and offices in every major market throughout the world, Zyxel is a true global operation that can deliver on its promise to provide the best products to Indian customers today. I look forward to my new role with the company and establishing Zyxel's next-generation networking and information security solutions in the Indian market by working very closely with customers and channel partners."

Prior to establishing Landmark, Kamat was the country manager, Accton Technology Corporation, Taiwan (1996-2003) wherein he successfully established country-wide operations for the company in India. He established Accton India, subsidiary for the business in India and other South Asian countries besides managing Accton's manufacturing activity in India. In his capacity at Accton, Kamat managed business volumes exceeding US$ 4 million for the company.

He has successfully architected the implementation of first VDSL network in Bangladesh, implemented 4,000 node metropolitan area network (MAN), pioneered 'Hot-Spot' setups across leading hotel chains like the Taj Group and implemented many communication services through ISPs, telcos and cable operators.

Kamat, through his professional career spanning two decades, has had successful stints at senior management with Melstar Information Technologies (1992-1996) and Dynalog.(1987-1992) as well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Iowa Co. buys stem cell robot machine

CORALVILLE, Iowa -- An eastern Iowa company has acquired a robotic machine designed to isolate stem cells from ubilical cord blood or adult blood that scientists said will provide endless research opportunities.

Cellular Engineering Technologies Inc. bought the $50,000 Robosep machines on Dec. 29 and ran initial tests the same day.

Company officials said the machine advances scientific research by using two high-powered magnets on opposite ends to bind CD34 stem cells with an antibody.

The machine then separates the cell from its originating blood, isolating any immunological cell from either umbilical cord blood or adult blood. The goal is that, once treated, the stem cells can be reintroduced to a body to repair damaged areas.

"The possibilities for tissue engineering and tissue development are endless," said Anant M. Kamath, the company's chief operating officer.

Once isolated, the stem cells are treated with different growth factors, grown in an incubator and then evaluated for their response. The results can be used to better understand pharmaceutical drugs or genes' effects on cell functions, he said.

"We are attempting to see if we can rebuild cells after they've been damaged," Kamath said. "When treated with the right growth 'cocktail,' the cells can be differentiated into many kinds of cells - immunological, skin, cardiac."

In studies involving mice, researchers have seen artificial injuries reversed, Kamath said.

"But there is a leap between mice and humans. It is still in a very experimental stage on humans," he said.

The robot can do four simultaneous operations, which drastically increases productivity, Kamath said.

He said such research does not receive funding from the state. CET also does not conduct embryonic stem cell research, which is banned in Iowa.

"It's not necessary anymore," Kamath said.

He said the company wants to show that high technology for stem cells can be found in Iowa.

CET, founded in 2000 by its president and chief executive officer, Dr. Alan Moy, operated through the University of Iowa until July 2005. It then became an independent company and moved to Coralville.

Lakshmi Vilas Bank eyes growth with Flexcube core banking platform

The bank has chosen i-flex's Flexcube as its core banking platform and Wipro Infotech , IT solution provider, as systems integrator.

i-flex, provider of technology solutions the financial services industry, says deployment of the solution will allow the bank to offer its customers anywhere and internet banking. It further claims its product will substantially reduce the bank's operation costs by improving the quality of management information.

Flexcube is expected to allow the bank's business analysts, with no programming skills, to design and roll out new products and services in a matter of weeks rather than months.

R.M. Nayak, chairman and CEO of LVB said, "With the Indian economy seeing unprecedented growth we see enormous potential for growth. We believe that we will be able to seize that opportunity because the implementation of Flexcube will provide us the institutional agility that we require. With Wipro we have the assurance of flawless implementation and reliability."

Wipro will be responsible for implementing and managing the banks infrastructure, and is required to provide the branch connectivity and required support services as the Bank rolls out the core banking software in branches in a phased manner.

Booming semiconductor industry begins talent hunt

The Indian semiconductor industry is ready to boom, believe industry representatives. While the number of semiconductor companies setting up shop in India is on the rise, so is the demand for human resources.

However, doubts are being raised on whether the supply can equal the burgeoning demand at this point in time. Companies are, therefore, initiating campus programmes to create more awareness, train students and thereby recruit the best of the available few.

Says Ganesh Guruswamy, country manager of Freescale Semiconductor India Pvt Ltd, “We spend around one-and-a-half years to train freshers who join us. This is because, though there are innumerable engineering colleges in the country, most of them are not equipped with tool-kits that the students need to be trained on for joining the industry.”

Poornima Shenoy, president of the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), says that there are around 130 semiconductor design houses in the country employing around 15,000 people. Of this, around 9,000 alone are very large scale integration (VLSI) designers.

“The industry has the potential to hire more than 16,000 designers in the next few years. However, whether the demand will be met or not is still a question that is best left unanswered,” she adds.

“One of the basic reasons for this shortfall is lack of awareness about the career opportunities available in the semiconductor industry today. Students still find software field more glamourous as compared to design engineering in semiconductor companies. This is in spite of very attractive starting salary – about Rs 4.5 lakh in the semiconductor industry as compared to around Rs 2.5 lakh in software services,” Shenoy says.

The ISA is, therefore, working with the engineering colleges in India to sort out this issue. “We have initiated a programme called ‘Si-Quest’ that aims at talent generation from a broadbased pool in India. Not only do we spread awareness about the career opportunities available in the semiconductor industry but also design tests to enable companies to recruit students,” she adds. ‘Si-Quest’ covers the top 40 engineering colleges in the country.

The ISA has also started a special programme with Visvesvaraya Technological University, Karnataka, wherein it is involved in initiatives like faculty development through increased industry interaction and augmenting the curriculum. “The IT department of Andhra Pradesh has enquired whether such a programme can be replicated in Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University,” Shenoy says.

Apart from the association, companies are pitching in on the individual front too. The $12.6-billion, Texas Instruments (TI), for instance, has partnered with 475 universities in the country, wherein it has set up labs for engineering students so that they can hone up technology skills before they join the industry. It also supports campus product incubators that build innovative products on TI platforms.

GDA Technologies, another player in the semiconductor industry, is also starting a similar initiative wherein it plans to work with various universities to train people in chip design activities.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Generating rural wealth by marrying commerce, tech

After a two-year effort, K.V. Kamath, CEO of India’s second-largest and most aggressive bank, is confident that he can successfully take a new model of banking to rural India and grow it into a unique business model.

ICICI Bank, as everyone would agree, is a hard-nosed enterprise, clearly focussed on its bottomline. It is unlikely to turn sentimental over rural development, unless it can be made commercially viable; at the same time Kamath is candid that necessity is an important trigger for the bank’s rural effort.

India’s organised sector is no longer dependent on bank loans. Large companies are well able to fund business needs through internal accruals, equity and low-cost external borrowing. Banks do provide a wide variety of services, but margins are thin and rates are commoditised. Only consumer financing, especially mortgages still provide ‘‘the bread, butter and jam’’.

At the same time, banks have to direct 18% of their lending to agriculture. So it made sense to explore the potential of rural lending. Two years ago, ICICI Bank began to explore the potential of this market, not in terms of jostling to provide crop loans to farmers, but through ‘‘product innovation’’ and ‘‘customer clarification’’.

Kamath’s hypothesis is that rising urban incomes will also stimulate rural aspirations; and ‘‘as rural aspirations grow, it will be important to meet them by helping to create rural wealth’’. One way was to finance business activity at the rural level. But the big challenge is to manage costs. Indian banks, on an average, operate at a tenth the cost and ticket size (for loans) of foreign banks.

Rural markets, says Kamath, would be viable only if costs were further shrunk to a fourth of normal banking costs even in India. This would be impossible through the conventional banking network.

ICICI’s challenge was to find affordable technology and new delivery mechanisms for appraisal, lending and recovering tiny loans of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 each. Creating these structures meant getting past social and infrastructure bottlenecks such as illiteracy, lack of electricity and telecom connectivity. So a solar-powered ATM, operating on wireless technology which uses biometric identification instead of the standard PIN cards was one answer.

However, ICICI Bank is more likely to pursue a better and lower cost alternative more aggressively in the form of point-of-sale terminal attached to the local bania store. This involves the same biometric identification, but since the bania uses and deposits cash extensively, it will marry his financing needs with that of the bank customer.

The challenge is to build these systems at extremely low costs. Fortunately, says Kamath, ‘‘Big name hardware and software companies are seeing the rural market as a huge opportunity’’. And they have put in a great effort to develop low-cost solutions. The business potential is huge: it is common knowledge that unorganised enterprises and rural folk pay usurious interest rates to money lenders. Also, in the absence of funding for value addition, there is large-scale wastage especially in the process of getting agri-produce from farms to markets.

Once the basic structure is in place, the business possibilities keep growing and these would open the doors to a slew of businesses for the ICICI Group. For instance, its test market exercise has successfully offered low premia life and accident insurance.

Another effort, says Kamath, was to explore ‘‘How much can you take price discovery to the farmer’’. This led to possibilities such as actually posting prices with the help of the commodity exchanges; providing warehousing facilities and bridge finance to allow farmers to time the market correctly and even offering weather insurance to secure them.

While the potential for rural financing is indisputable, the key is to get the delivery mechanism right. ICICI is already working through thousands of Self-Help Groups (SHGs), micro-credit institutions and large companies with strong rural markets or linkages (seeds, fertilizers, tea plantations, tractor companies and so on) to be able to lend safely. But barring the last mentioned, the challenge will be to get these groups and credit institutions to operate professionally.

So far, ICICI seems to have had a happy experience with SHGs and the Reserve Bank of India is also keen on encouraging micro finance as a delivery mechanism. But to scale it up to the level of 18,000 to 20,000 credit outlets that will be required for a viable business, ICICI needs to ensure that the credit delivery institutions use robust technology, software and processes and accountability is ensured. Kamath admits that there are some constraints and the need for an institutional building mechanism as also appropriate supervision.

‘‘Slowly, we will have to link the credit rating bureau to this effort’’, says he. Building individual credit histories will allow good borrowers to expand even faster. ICICI’s rural foray is serious business; Kamath sees it as the fourth horizon of the bank’s growth. Once a low-cost model, that works through Self Help Groups is successfully established, this can work equally well for the urban poor, or unorganised businesses (small-time plumbers, carpenters, vendors, hawkers, painters, domestic helpers and more) and workers who currently shut out by the banking system.

ICICI’s CEO is acutely aware that this is a revolutionary effort where ultimate success would often require a quick course correction or modification and some mistakes. At the same time, ICICI’s success in this endeavour has the potential to transform and empower rural and backward parts of India.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Tower Power

The towers used to relay calls to cell-phone users are sprouting everywhere. But the skyrocketing demand for cell phones and for wireless Internet access overwhelms the relay stations' capacity as fast as companies can erect them. A radio-frequency transistor technology created by electrical engineer Jayant Baliga at North Carolina State University could help stem the tide by allowing towers to handle 10 times their current signal capacity.

Baliga says his new chip design will make the transistors used in relaying calls cheaper and smaller, and it will boost the power of the towers' signal amplifiers as well. That should allow wireless stations to handle more calls at once, send data faster and help avoid the interference that occasionally results in users overhearing others' conversations. Baliga has founded a company called Silicon Wireless in Raleigh, NC, to commercialize the technology and has received funding from Fairchild Semiconductor. The first chips using the transistors could be in cell towers by the end of the year.

Robot separates stem cells

Anant M. Kamath, chief operating officer of Cellular Engineering Technologies, holds samples of blood used by his company to isolate stem cells using Robosep, a new automated robotic stem cell separator.

A Coralville company has announced it is the first in Iowa to operate a robotic stem cell separator that will provide "endless" opportunities for tissue research.

Cellular Engineering Technologies Inc., or CET, acquired the automated machine, called a Robosep, on Dec. 29 and ran the first tests the same day.

Company officials say the $50,000 machine advances scientific research by using two high-powered magnets on opposite ends to bind CD34 stem cells with an antibody.

What is relevant is that the machine then isolates the cell from its originating blood, isolating any immunological cell from either umbilical cord blood or adult blood. The goal is that, once treated, the stem cells can be reintroduced to a body to repair damaged areas.

"The possibilities for tissue engineering and tissue development are endless," said Anant M. Kamath, the company's chief operating officer.

Once isolated, the stem cells are treated with different growth factors, grown in an incubator and then evaluated for their response. The results can be used to better understand pharmaceutical drugs or genes' effects on cell functions.

"The cell is 100,000 times smaller than the thickness of a strand of human hair," Kamath said. "We are attempting to see if we can rebuild cells after they've been damaged. When treated with the right growth 'cocktail,' the cells can be differentiated into many kinds of cells -- immunological, skin, cardiac."

In studies involving mice, researchers have seen artificial injuries reversed, Kamath said.

"But there is a leap between mice and humans. It is still in a very experimental stage on humans. Our work is not for therapeutic use. The difference between research and therapeutic use is a lawsuit," he said.

The robot can do four simultaneous operations, which drastically increases productivity, Kamath said.

The six person staff at CET, 2660 Crosspark Road, would be able to produce hundreds of samples per week, he said.

Kamath said such research does not receive funding from the state. CET also does not conduct embryonic stem cell research, which is banned in Iowa.

"It's not necessary anymore," Kamath said.

He said the company wants "to show that high technology for stem cells can be found in this state."

"(Schools, investigators and other biotech companies) don't have to outsource stem cell isolation and testing to other states," he said.

CET, founded in 2000 by its president and chief executive officer, Dr. Alan Moy, operated through the University of Iowa until July 2005. It then became an independent company and moved to Coralville.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

UTI Bank to raise up to $1billion to fund expansion

UTI Bank is considering issuing medium term notes to raise up to $1 billion to fund its global operations, according to Dr P J Nayak, chairman and managing director.

He said that the bank would open its Singapore branch by February, after which it will start the medium term notes (MTN) programme. "As we are opening a branch in Singapore we require funds and MTNs is an attractive option," he said. The notes could be raised in tranches, he added.

Dr Nayak disclosed That the bank was in the process of getting ratings from Standard & Poor's and Moody's..
He also said that though the amount was not finalised, initial estimates indicated the bank may need to raise up to $1 billion.

The bank also plans to expand in other Asian countries, Dr Nayak said. It already has
tie-ups with the Doha Bank in Qatar and the UAE Exchange Company for its remittance business.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Bollywood singers team up for Konkani album

Bollywood singers Sunidhi Chauhan, Vasundhara and Soumya Rao, have been roped in to sing in the Konkani album titled `Dini Dini'.

They will join several reputed singers who live in various parts of the world but share a common Konkani heritage, to be part of the jazz-funk venture, which has been put together by `Kavita', a trust working for promotion of Konkani poetry, and, a website focusing on news from the Konkan coast.

The album put together by lyricist Melvyn Rodrigues, and Mumbai-based composer Alwyn Fernandes, comprises three each of male and female solos, a duet and a trio. Recording of songs have been held at Kuwait, Mumbai and Bangalore, according to Eric Rozario, President of the Konkani Sahitya Academy.

The sale proceeds from the album would go towards establishing a permanent fund to conduct the annual Konkani poetry competition among high school students in Karnataka.

Affordable ornaments

Usha Corals of Mumbai presents an exhibition of gold plated silver jewellery for Sankranti at 95 Parklane, till January 7.

IN RECENT times when jewellery is dear and unsafe in the house locker, folks are opting for attractive alternatives since ornaments are necessary even for those neighbourhood birthday parties. A popular option is that of gold plated silver jewellery. "The jewellery offers variety. You can buy about ten sets to match the saris, for the price of one in gold. The stones and corals used are real. The cost varies depending on the amount of silver used. Moreover they are handy. You can keep them in the house instead of rushing to the locker before attending any party," says Pragnya Pai of Usha Corals, Mumbai in town for the exhibition cum sale of silver plated jewellery for Sankranti at 95 Parklane (Tel: 27812160, from 10.30 a.m to 8.30 p.m.) till January 7.

Usha Corals was started by the mother daughter duo Usha Prabhu and Pragnya Pai about three years ago and is frequented by Kavita Khanna, Nisha Munim, Ritu Choudhary (KSBKBT), Revathy, Suhasini and Usha Uthup. While mama Usha Prabhu has a penchant for jewellery that she sources from different parts of the country, Pragnya, an artist, designs trendy jewellery.

Thus the collection holds traditional and contemporary designs. In the former, earring and necklace sets in temple jewellery (Rs. 1,200-Rs. 3,000) borrow from motifs seen on the panels of South Indian temple. For those in stones, the Victorian sets featuring an antique finish in two tones hold amethysts and topaz and are priced between Rs. 1,800 and Rs. 2,000. Chokers in paachi (meenakari) work from Rajasthan held in zardosi thread bands (Rs. 650-Rs. 1, 250) and those in Korean silver (Rs. 200-Rs.1, 600) are chic as also pendant and earring combos (Rs.250) for college wear. Sets in corals (also loose corals for Rs. 250-Rs.450 per gram), emeralds, peridots, navratna and other semi precious stones are also available along with sets of bangles to match them with. The kadas with ethnic motifs (Rs. 600-Rs. 800) and lac bangles (Rs. 250-Rs.350) those sported by the bahus in the prime time soaps are among the collection too. Designer bindis and maang tikkas are the other buys to complement your Indo-westerns and ghagras.

About the maintenance part Pragyna recommends, "keep the jewellery in plastic bags. Avoid contact with water and perfumes. The polish lasts for about four years and about nine years for oxidised antique finish sets, depending on how you use them." Bag a few then since they are easy on the purse.

Ando Keshav Shenoy {MoreNews}

An Indian jeweller Ando Keshav Shenoy has been appointed as special advisor for South Asia to the New York Governor George Pataki recently.

An official release issued here said that Shenoy has been appointed particularly to increase the industrial relations between New York and India. This is the first time that an Indian has got an opportunity to work in a high New York administration post.

Shenoy had worked as coordinator for the meeting between former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pataki. He is also a recipient of the Governor's award for best work in 2005.

His appointment assumes importance, considering Pataki's scheduled visit to India during February-March this year.

After assuming charge, Shenoy said Indians should come forward to invest in New York and New York businessmen should do likewise in India.

Shenoy had migrated to New York from Mumbai in 1990. He was instrumental in persuading Pataki for enhancing relations with India since 1994.

BPCL to give dhabas run for the money — To expand one-stop shop for truckers

THE NEXT time a truck driver commences his long and tedious journey from one end of the country to another, using the 65,569-km-long national highway network, he will not have to put up with the dhabas (roadside eateries) and their unhygienic surroundings, thanks to Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd's (BPCL) initiative.

BPCL has initiated a `one stop truck shop' (OSTS) facility, which includes a gas station, dormitory and eatery. Currently, 65 such `OSTS' are up and running all over the country. The company plans to expand it to 300 in the next three years. Every facility has a capital investment of Rs 2 crore.

"We hope that through such projects our diesel sales will go up by 20-25 per cent in the coming years," Mr K. Shenoy, Deputy General Manager (Highway Strategy Team), BPCL.

Truckers in India usually go to the highway dhabas for their food, which also doubles up as dormitory for an overnight stay. However, such dhabas are not hygienic and lack basic amenities.

The OSTS will take care of the personal, travelling and business requirements of truckers and long-distance travellers. "With the initiation of the Golden Quadrilateral projects and new-generation cars we expect more traffic on the roads. Our facility, spread over three acres, will offer food at economical rates, dormitories, laundry services and even a barbershop for drivers. We will also offer basic telephony services at the site," Mr Shenoy said.

Packed vegetables: "South Indian drivers do not eat at the dhabas, they prefer to cook their own food; keeping this in mind we plan to give them packed vegetables also," he added.

The OSTS would be greenfield sites. The company also plans to upgrade some of its strategically located petrol pumps to OSTS. Company staff would manage all the osts to ensure quality service, Mr Shenoy said.

Chelmsford High Student of the Month - Swetha Shanbhag

Swetha Shanbhag is presently a senior at Chelmsford High School, MA, USA. She is taking such specialized courses as studio art and advanced placement classes in physics, advanced chemistry and calculus BC. Swetha has been very involved in activities at Chelmsford High School. She has been a member of the Environmental Club for the past four years and this year she serves as the Club's president. She is presently the vice-president of the Key Club and has worked with this wonderful service club throughout her high school career.

She has been a Peer Tutor for two years and this year Swetha is the founder and president of the Community Tutoring Representative for four years and has been a member of the student Council the past two years. Swetha has worked on the school newspaper, "The Voice," and this year is the paper's activities editor. She is a member of the Junior States of America Club, the Indian Club and has participated with the Mock Trial Team. She is also a member of the school's talented Girls' Varsity Tennis Team and was elected Most Improved Player last season. She has volunteered with the school's Recycling Program and the annual Red Cross Blood Drive.
Swetha is a member of the school's National and French Honor Societies. She is a National Merit Semifinalist this year and received the Dartmouth Club Book Award last year. Outside of school, Swetha has given of her time and energy to many organizations. She has volunteered at the public library where she organized children's events, reading programs and cultural events. She has volunteered at Lowell General Hospital and Palm Manor Nursing Home. She is involved with the Westland School's Spring Fair, Special Olympics and the Walk for Hunger. She has also given of her time to the Jimmy Fund Theater Fundraiser and the Lowell Folk Festival.
Swetha plans to attend college next fall and major in pre-medicine with the future goal of becoming a doctor. Swetha is the daughter of Revati Kadelcar and Raj Shanbhag. Because of her outstanding achievements in academics, extracurricular and service activities, Swetha Shanbhag is an obvious choice for Emerson House Girl Student of the Month.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Konkani Written in Devnagari Script Only is Recognized - Sahitya Academy President

As there are various lots of developments going on with regard to the usage of particular script, the Central Sahitya Academy has said that it will not approve anything written in any other script than Devnagari script. Speaking at a programme in Panaji, Central Sahitya Academy president Prof Gopichand Narang said that Central Sahitya Academy has not approved two scripts for any language and the same will imply for Konkani too.

"Right now academy has approved Konkani literature and books which are written in Devnagari script. I have come to know that there are a lot of arguments going on about 'script' in Konkani. But all of them should be aware that books written in Devnagari script will only be approved by the Central Academy and only those will be selected for the academy awards," he added.

He further said that even the Sindhi, Bodo and Santali languages too are facing the similar problem since they are written in more than one script. "But there is a committee of language experts for every academy. Based on their recommendation, a script is approved for each language and the Central Academy will abide by the present norms," he said.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Magic is myth for this rationalist professor

An invitation to set up a rationalist association in distant Greece hardly surprised Mangalore-based Prof Narendra Nayak who has been campaigning against superstition all his life.

Since 1976, as the secretary of Dakshina Kannada Rationalist Association (DKRA), Nayak has been assiduously promoting atheism through education.

Ever since he was made president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA), an apex body of 50 rationalist associations, this senior rationalist’s mission has been taking him places.

An assistant professor of bio-chemistry at the Centre for Basic Sciences in Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Nayak landed in Greece in November. After a few days of ‘counselling’ on a cult ‘Radhaswamy Sat Sangh Bihas’, he set up the Greek Rationalist Association.

He travelled from Greece to England and with help of the Asian community there set up an Asian Rationalist Society of Britain (ARSB). Travelling extensively, he conducted ‘demonstrative lectures’ on superstitions at Birmingham, Leicester and Derbyshire.

Do not such programmes reinforce the West’s perception of Indians as rustics forever wallowing in superstition? Prof Nayak disagrees. True to its objective to develop a scientific temper and humanism, FIRA is not popularising myths but denigrating them showing that acts like swallowing fire can be done by anyone.

“I am also highlighting the fact that my country is culturally rich with an ancient history and wonderful people,” he asserts.

The mission to spread rational thought led Prof Nayak to visit Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa soon after his return. He visited a tribal belt at Itarsi in MP and interacted with ‘sapheres’ (branded as criminal tribes) on demystifying miracles.

He held a lecture demonstration on ‘fire walking’ at the Army Ammunition Training Centre in Mirzapur.

Following a request from the Sundargarh Superintendent of Police, Prof Nayak exposed the methods behind black magic to over 1,000 tribals.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Taking Vedas to common people

Nirnaya Sagara, a charitable trust in the city formed by a small group of youths, is taking the essence of the Vedas to the common people for their ‘general upliftment and for the prosperity of the entire society’.

For the last eight months, volunteers of the Nirnaya Sagara have been imparting the teachings of the Vedas to the young and old from different religion and caste backgrounds.

Nirnaya Sagara teach people the basics of Vedas. Nirnaya’s six-month course includes basic instructions on routines like ‘sandhyavandanam’, which is the practice of saluting the earth before touching it with the feet.

‘‘We are not making people ‘sanyasis’ by teaching them Vedas. Our attempt is to impart lessons which, we believe, will change the negative approach towards life seen in many people,’’ says Vivek Shenoy, director of the trust.

‘‘Vedic teachings are largely under the possession of a section of the society. We are now trying to take them to the common people of all religions and castes so that they benefit from it. Our teachings also help them to increase their productivity in work,’’ says Vivek.

As part of its attempts to disseminate Vedic knowledge among the masses, Nirnaya Sagara have taken up a project to produce a ‘Vedic digital book’ in the form of a CD.

The trust charges Rs 600 from a family for the course. The timing is from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

New York governor appoints Indian American to senior position

New York Governor George E Pataki has appointed Andy K Shenoy as special advisor to the governor for South Asian affairs.

"Andy Shenoy is an active member of the Indian-American community and was instrumental in the development of economic ties between India and the state of New York," Pataki said in announcing the appointment on December 30.

"His expertise in foreign trade will help us advance new economic initiatives with countries in southern Asia, while diversifying our relations and creating mutually beneficial trade opportunities in a region that is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world," he said.

Shenoy is the president of Indo-American Promotions (non-profit organisation), an organisation that facilitated the development of economic ties and relations between New York state and India in 2003.

He has served as a liaison between the Indian government and the state of New York and was the recipient of the Governor's Award of Excellence in 2005 for his significant contribution to the social, economic and cultural development of the state and the nation.

Shenoy has a BS in economics, history and psychology and is the president of Mitra Enterprises Inc.

Sthree Shakthi award

Sthree Kala Shakthi award for excellence in display of Dasara Dolls and Home Garden was presented by Sthree Shakthi Mahila Prathishtana on Jan. 1 at 10 am at Veene Seshanna Bhavan. H.R. Leelavathi, ex-Chairman of Music and Dance Academy inaugurated the awards function. A.S. Nagaraj, Assistant Director, Kannada and Culture and A. Ramdas, ex-MLA were the chief guests. Gayathri Shankar and Savithri Gopinath Shenoy are the award winners.

A Unique feat

A 20-year-old woman from Kolar district in Karnataka has given birth to four babies in a city hospital.

Ayesha Sultana was eight-and-a-half months preganant when she was admitted to the Manipal Hospital here with high blood pressure.

Scans and diagnosis revealed that she was carrying quadruplets, according to a hospital release here.

Dr Praveena Shenoi, Consultant Gynaecologist, performed Caesarean and Ayesha delivered one girl and three boys on December 22. While the girl baby weighed 1.8 kg, the boys weighed 1.6 kg, 1.3 kg and 980 gms respectively.

''This is a very rare case since it is a spontaneous conception - one in 6,00,000. Most quadruplets are born as a result of assisted reproduction. The fact that all babies have survived makes it very unique,'' Dr Shenoi said.

''Most quadruplets are usually premature born and the survival rate is poor. In this case, the babes were born after 35 weeks of pregnancy and therefore are more mature,'' Dr Arvind Shenoi, Consultant Paediatrician, said, adding that the babies were doing well, but would be kept in the neonatal ICU under observation for some more time.

As a goodwill gesture, the hospital had waived off the ICU bed charges and doctor's fee for the three babies in ICU care as Ayesha hailed from a poor family.

Vidyaniketan Students Shine in IT Quest

Vidyaniketan Pre-University College, Kaup students, Krishnaraj and Ajay Barboza emerged winners in the collegiate section of Vidyodaya IT Quest 2005-06, a district-level inter-school IT quest for ICSE and CBSE schools held at Vidyodaya Public School, Udupi premises on last Wednesday.

They defeated Little Rock Indian School, Brahmavar students, Manoj M and Kasturi Soujanya Karthik in the final round. In high school section, Sri Sathya Sai Lok Seva Vidyakendra, Alike students Prashanth S Pai and Prajwal K S were declared champions. The host, Vidyodaya Public School, Udupi students Yathiraj Shetty and Yogiraj Shetty were declared runners-up.

In the quiz competition held for primary students, St Mary's Syrian College, Brahmavar students K Ujwala Shenoy and Prathiksha Hegde won trophy, by defeating Sila International School students Pranitha Nayak and Roxan Crasto.
In the Microsoft Paint Brush competition held for primary school students, SMS, Brahmavar student K Ujwala Shenoy won first place.

Manasa Tantry of Vidyodaya Public School and Roxan Crasto of Silas International school won second and third prizes respectively. In the page designing competition held for high school students, Yathiraj Shetty of Vidyodaya Public school won first prize. Larkin Rover D'souza of MRPL School won second place and St Mary's English Medium school student Shreyas Shetty won third place.

Small industries urged to make use of subsidies

Assistant general manager of Syndicate Bank, Udupi, K Mohan Kini, called upon small scale industrialists to make the best use of subsidies announced by the government and to compete at the international level by producing quality products.

Kini was delivering the presidential address at the small industries orientation camp organised by Small Industries Service Institute (SISI), Government of India.

Assistant director Uppal, who was the resource person of the camp, said the government of India would immediately release 15 per cent incentive announced for the technical upgradation of small scale industries.

He also gave details of the credit guarantee scheme and of the industrial cluster.

K Mohan Kini, Narayana Raju, M Ganesh Kini, Krishnananand Kamath and others at the small industries orientation camp held in Udupi on Saturday.

Monday, January 02, 2006

'Outstanding Manager 2005' Award Presented to Dr Ramadas Pai

The "Outstanding Manager 2005" award given by Mangalore Management Association was presented to Manipal Academy of Higher Education president Dr Ramdas Pai on Tuesday December 20. The award presentation ceremony was held in the premises of SDM Law College.

New Mangalore Port Trust president P Tamilvanan presented the award, which consists of a citation and memento to Dr Ramdas Pai. While Dr T G Shenoy read the felicitatory note, MAHE chancellor Dr H S Ballal delivered the felicitatory speech.

Vice president of Mangalore Management Association, M Shekhar Poojary, treasurer Prof JHG Anchan and Vasanti R Pai were present on the dais.

Dr Devraj, president, Management Association welcomed the gathering and F A Lobo proposed the vote of thanks. Vatsala Samarth compered the programme.

Konkani Academy Condoles B V Baliga's Demise - Rich Tributes Paid

A condolence meeting to pay respects to the late B V Baliga, Konkani author-poet and erstwhile president of the Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy was held in the Academy hall.

Academy president Eric Ozario, in his introductory remarks, spoke highly about the unassuming and selfless nature and way of working. Baliga was like a bridge between different denominations of Konkani-speaking communities, he said.

Noted vocalist and Akashwani artiste Vasanti R Nayak fondly and emotionally recalled the years she spent with the late Baliga not only as a close relative but as a mentor in vocal practice and poetic pursuits. Former Konkani Bhasha Mandal president Paul Moras also reminisced his close association with the departed in Konkani-related activities and stressed on the need to perpetuate his memory in a tangible and meaningful way.

The late Baliga's son, B S Baliga, expressed his gratitude to the Academy and the gathering for doing something worthy by organizing a condolence meeting, while also providing examples of how his illustrious father stayed away from self-interest and self-publicity.

In his concluding remarks, Ozario offered the Academy's initiative in getting the late Baliga's poems out in printed format. Besides, a meeting of his admirers would soon be convened to chalk out ways and means to implement a suitable project in his memory, Ozario added.

The meeting was attended by Konkani activists, writers and admirers of the late B V Baliga.

TV software major Endemol to open subsidiary in Mumbai

Entertainment software major Endemol - producer of popular television shows such as "Big Brother" and "Deal Or No Deal" - is opening an office in Mumbai to tap the large opportunities in India's entertainment industry.

Called Endemol India, the subsidiary plans to exploit Endemol's intellectual property within the Indian market in line with its international expansion strategy.

While Endemol is currently in negotiations with several Indian broadcasters to produce local versions of its formats, Endemol India will open with a two-year output deal with Sony Entertainment Television (SET).

Joaquim Agut Bonsfills, chief executive officer of Endemol says: "We are excited to announce the launch of Endemol India, which will play an important role in India's vibrant entertainment industry.

"Our formats have already proved their quality with broadcasters and viewers around the globe and we are delighted that Indian viewers will now have the chance to watch our groundbreaking shows."

Endemol India officially opens for business in Mumbai on Jan 2, 2006. Company sources said the India office will be headed by Rajesh Kamat, managing director, who was previously senior vice president and executive committee member of STAR India.

Kamat said in a company release: "I am happy to be part of the Endemol family. Endemol with its formats - 'Operacion Triunfo' ('Fame Gurukul'), 'Night Fever' ('Kisme Kitna Hai Dum') and 'Deal Or No Deal' has already developed a strong bond with Indian viewers.

"Having demonstrated the strength of the intellectual property, the task is now to demonstrate our production expertise by providing the Indian audiences with interesting and innovative content."

Endemol India will launch with eight full-time local staff members, consisting of both production and creative Indian talent, in addition to freelancers from Mumbai's extensive local pool.

The company release quoted Tarun Katial, executive vice president and business head of Sony Entertainment Television, as saying: "With Endemol coming to India, we are happy to cooperate with them to provide our viewers with programming which has never been experienced or seen on Indian television.

"We look forward to a long and fruitful future with Endemol and their world-renowned catalogue as well as their local production expertise. Endemol is 100 percent owned by Spanish telecom and media giant Telefonica, the largest provider of telecom and Internet services in the Spanish and Portuguese language world, with companies in 17 countries and more than 62 million customers."

India will be the 23rd country that Endemol operates in.

After rules for foreign participation in the media and television sectors were relaxed in India, several European groups have drawn up plans to invest in the country.

Earlier this year, the Independent News & Media invested 19 million pounds for a 26 percent stake in one of India's leading newspaper groups, Jagran Prakashan.

Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, is also reported to be considering launching a title in India.