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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Minorities have a major role

KOCHI: They are still minorities. However, if counted together, their votes can easily swing in favour of a candidate’s victory.

The leadership of different fringe groups of non-Keralite organisations is confused over which front to support, but the leaders clearly advise their members to ‘vote for those candidates who stood by them in crises.’

According to the office-bearers, those candidates who didn’t hurt their interests should be favoured in the elections.

In spite of the please-all-parties policy, there are strong undercurrents and the members take a common decision in an area regarding support for candidates.

An important feature, however, is that the members of the non-Keralite organisations have different party leanings and the office-bearers of the same organisation take different stands at different areas based on the situations existing there.

“We have over 2,000 memberships in Kochi alone. However, we haven’t taken a decision on support to any front. We advise our members to vote for candidates who take up the interest of Tamilians,” says Tamil Aikya Sangam president L.Chappani Muthu.

The Sangam, which was founded in 1978, had actively participated in the previous elections as well.

The Cochin Gujarati Mahajan too has not taken any open decision on support for any front. Barat Kona, a member of the Gujarati Mahajan, said that their organisation was non-political and hence no decision on voting in support of any front.

However, as a business community it is imperative that the members vote for “those who support the cause of the business community and those who stood for development.”

The Mahajan has not only Gujaratis, but Jains and Marwadis are also its members. It has nearly 3,000 members in Kochi.

Though a minority, Sardarjis too are keen to cast their votes in the state. Bunty Singh, whose father Harbans Singh was the first Sikh to settle down in Kochi, said that their community has nearly 40 members having voting rights in the state.

“We do not take a common decision on voting. It is left for the members to select a candidate,” he said.

However, Bharatiya Konkini Bhasha Vikas Sabha (BKBVS) has openly come out in favour of the LDF by appealing in Konkani to vote for the CPM candidate. BKBVS general secretary P.R.Shanmugham said that the UDF led by Oommen Chandy had failed in protecting the “genuine rights of the minorities.”

The BKBVS has already held a ‘survey’ which says that the LDF would come to power with 76 to 84 seats, he said.

Long live the Gumat

Once a favourite instrument t weddings, churches and at social gatherings, the Gumat is now on its way to becoming a museum piece.

Prior to Western influences and the invasion of technology, the entire Karavali Coast, from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra to Cochin in Kerala, reverberated with the melodious, soul stirring beats of the Gumat.

The Marathi Kudumis and the Mumbai East Indian Koles beat the Gumat and dance to its rhythm. The Gowdis, Karvis and the Siddhis love this instrument and played it to express their joy. The Kudubis wore flowery head-gears and not only played it to mark festivals but also worshiped it as a sacred object. The Mangalorean Catholics sat on mats and played it every evening as a stress buster. The Halakkis wore festive garments with head-gears of artificial flowers and played the mridanga shaped Gumtam. To put it simply, the Gumat was the most popular musical instrument of the Konkani speaking communities living along the Karavali coast.

This does not mean that the modern, technological world has negated the Gumat. Far from it! Gumat art has merely taken a backseat in the field of modern Konkani music perhaps because of its antique nature, western influence, modern civilisation and the difficulties involved in procuring one. Despite all of this, the ancient Gumat has proved that it can blend with the new with absolute ease.

Change is evident

However, the Gumat has undergone several changes. Modern musical groups have experimented with it and blended it with guitars, keyboards and violins with astounding results. Though not widely used, the Gumat still occupies an important place in the world of Konkani music and there is every chance that the Gumat would regain its popularity, provided the Konkanis play an active role in preserving their rich cultural heritage.

Gumat art is a male domain. It either hangs around the neck of Konkani men as they sing and dance or nestles on their laps as they sit and sing. Gumat art is difficult and requires a lot of energy because a single artiste has to sing, play the instrument and dance as well. There was a time when men from the Mangalorean Catholic community played the Gumat and accompanied their playing with song and dance. The Gumat was, at one time, considered scared and used during church services. They also forbid the dance aspect of Gumat art. For a long time, until modern musical bands took over, the Gumat was indispensable at Catholic weddings. Unfortunately, due to expulsion from the church, the Gumat lost its sanctity and became a cheap instrument that could be played in a drunken state or broken in a fit of rage.

This led the new generation to regard Gumat art as uncouth and uncivilised.

An exponent of Mangalorean Catholic Gumat art is Mr Joachim Pereira.

Having learnt this delightful art from his father, he guides a troupe of Gumat artists and has won several awards. He is also the first Gumat artiste to introduce women to an exclusively male art form.

The art is intact

Untouched by the negative influences of Western missionaries, the Kudubi community has preserved this art in its original form. The Kudubis consider the Gumat as sacred, use it only on festivals and religious occasions and worship it before using it for the first time during the year. Holi, a spring festival, celebrated on the full moon during the month of Phalgun is the first occasion of the year for the Kudubi artiste to express their art. The men decorate their heads with long garlands of the bright orange Aboli flower, wear colourful robes and proceed to the Gurikar’s (chief) house with their precious musical instrument. There the Gumat is placed along with the other musical instruments in front of a decorated stage newly set up near the tulasi and worshiped. The actual Gumat performance begins only after the singing of the ‘Noman,’ an initial song. The dancers form themselves into two rows. Two people called Kol Gurikars begin the song. The artiste sing and dance in co-ordination in keeping with the beats of the Gumat hanging around their necks. There are a variety of subtle movements in Kudubi Gumat dances. After their first performance in front of the Gurikar’s house, the troupe goes from house to house repeating the performance. The modern Kudubis have relaxed the rules of using the Gumat only on festive and religious occasions. The Gumat is now taken to the stage to delight a number of worshippers of this ancient folk art.

Forms of Gumat

Though the music emanating from a Gumat is great, the instrument in itself is simple and if I may say it is the King of Konkani folk music. A clay pot open at both ends; one a large opening and the other a smaller one. The larger opening is covered by with the skin of a Monitor Lizard. This forms the Gumat. It requires the combined efforts of six people to cover the skin over the mouth of the pot as the slightest wrinkle will render the Gumat useless. The skin is pasted into place with Tembra, a gum obtained from the Glue tree and secured with ropes. The instrument is now ready to produce music and the affectionate Gumat artiste beats on the skin with his fingers. The Gumat of various communities vary in shape and size. While, the Kudubi Gumat can easily be mistaken for a pumpkin, the Catholic Gumat is pot-like. The Siddhi Gumat is slightly bigger than the Catholic Gumat while the Halakki Gumat resembles a mridanga.

The Gumat artiste uses a permutation and combination of four different types of beats — Lalith, Sheeda, Udthi and Talyo. The Gumat songs, filled to the brim with knowledge, wisdom and devotion, reveal the heart of the community to the listener. In addition to their literary value, the songs are social, historical and religious documents. They give profound knowledge of the community’s history, culture, folk literature, lifestyle and religious beliefs. Sung slowly to the accompaniment of the Gumat, they can instill the spirit of dance in the idlest feet.

The present position of the Gumat is pathetic. Despite attempts being made from all quarters to preserve and popularise this art by training more people, innovating it and blending it with modern electronic musical instruments, the Gumat is on its way to becoming a museum piece. In several houses, it occupies the attic, gathering dust and forgotten by the members of the family. Rich, modern, educated, materialistic youth shy away from the Gumat, considering it to be a useless, unproductive art belonging to an unsophisticated past. Luckily, Gumat music is preserved in cassettes and CDs. Gumat songs are finally in print. Gumat artists are recognised for their great talent and their art. The youth might develop a taste for it. May the Gumat survive for many more generations.!


Director NISHIKANT KAMAT's DOMBIVLI-FAST took home the top prize at the fourth Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles in Hollywood on Sunday night (23APR06).

The film, starring SANDEEP KULKARNI, claimed the Jury Grand Prize during the last night celebrations of the five-day festival.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

‘Konkani Cinema Day’to be observed today

‘Konkani Cinema Day’ will be celebrated on April 24 at 5 p.m. at the black box, Kala Academy, Panaji to commemorate the screening of the first Konkani film ‘Mogacho Anvddo’ directed by All Jerry Braganza on April 24, 1950, a press release said.

The president of Goa Konkani Academy, Mr Pundalik Naik will be the chief guest. The Chief Minister’s Press Liaison Officer and chairman of the Draft Committee of the Scheme for Production Assistance for Films, Mr Pramod Khandeparkar, will be the guest of honour.

The president of Dalgado Konkani Academy, Mr Wilson Mazarello will preside over the function. The Director of Information and Publicity, Mr Menino Peres and member secretary of Kala Academy, Dr Pandurang Phaldesai will grace the occasion.

The first full length Konkani film ‘Mogacho Anvddo’ was produced by All Jerry Braganza, a native of Mapusa under the banner of Etica Pictures (Exchange Talkies of India, China and Africa). The film was based on the novel ‘Mogacho Anvddo’ written by Dioginho D’Mello.

Mr All Jerry Braganza, a pioneer in the field of Konkani cinema, who besides producing the film also acted in the lead role, is called the father of Konkani cinema. The function which is open to public is organised by Dalgado Konkani Academy in collaboration with Kala Academy and department of Information and Publicity, the press note adds.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Kingfisher, Airbus ink $1 bn deal

The Vijay Mallya promoted Kingfisher Airlines has signed a US $ one billion deal with European aircraft producer Airbus to acquire five 340 – 500 aircraft. This is in addition to the aircraft already acquired by Kingfisher Airlines.

The deal was finalised in presence of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and German Chancellor Angela Merekel on Monday at the ongoing Hannover fair where India is a partner country after 21 years.

The deal was signed by Airbus President and CEO Gustav Humbert and Kingfisher Airlines Chief Vijay Mallaya on Monday. Later briefing newsmen, Mallaya said that the aircraft scheduled for supply by 2008 would be deployed on the US route to fly passangers non-stop between Indian metros, New York and San Francisco. At present Mallya doesn't have permission to fly to the US, given that he doesn't meet the five year cut off for domestic airlines.

"Until the new Bangalore airport is ready, the aircraft would fly from Mumbai," he said. The aircraft would have a seating capacity of 220 with all classes, and the fares would be at a premium, Mallya said.

Kingfisher is yet to finalise plans to connect Indian metros with German cities. And, Mallya said that the company is yet to look at the feasibility of flying aircraft between the two countries.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Tech security training pushed: Education in technical fields can help Oklahoma's economy, a TU professor says.

Oklahoma, U.S.A : Efforts to train students for careers in cyber security are helping Oklahoma position itself to build a high-tech economy, a University of Tulsa computer science professor said Friday.
Sujeet Shenoi, a nationally recognized expert in cyber security and digital forensics, said a high-tech economy can be developed more quickly than other economies, and that it relies on intellectual capital instead of financial investment.

Shenoi said corporations are beginning to take notice of the Cyber Security Education Consortium (CSEC) in Oklahoma, which is training students in the discipline of information security.

Although some of the graduates are leaving for jobs in other states, Shenoi said the program shows high-tech companies that Oklahoma -- and the surrounding region -- is serious about providing skilled, trained employees.

"If we want to set our state for the future, we need to focus on high tech. If we leverage our human capital, I think we can do something," Shenoi said during a Leadership Tulsa luncheon at TU.

In 2004, Oklahoma obtained a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop programs for cyber security research and education. The money went to CSEC, which includes a consortium of Oklahoma's major community colleges, the state's CareerTech centers and TU.

The schools have worked to develop a curriculum, train instructors and build academic programs. The number of participating colleges and tech centers is expected to grow through 2008.

During the current academic year, CSEC has trained 629 students, and 1,265 students have been trained in the past two years.

Information security will become increasingly important because the country's information infrastructure is vulnerable, Shenoi said.

The likely targets of cyber attacks include dams, utilities, chemical and manufacturing plants, refineries, banks and other financial institutions, power grids, state and local government, and information systems for the Federal Aviation Administration and the military.

In 2003, the FBI and Computer Security Institute estimated the number of cyber attacks in the United States at 32,000, compared with 7,000 or fewer in other countries.

Shenoi said the information technology industry needs one in 10 employees trained in cyber security, but the ratio is only one in 20 to one in 300.

The federal government has a deficiency of 100,000 cyber security professionals, and there's a massive shortage of trained people in state and local government.

The plan, Shenoi said, is for Oklahoma's CSEC to train public and private sector personnel, create a steady stream of graduates and attract or create security-related businesses in the state.

"Before long, Congress is going to realize that we cannot outsource and offshore these kinds of jobs, so we want to position our state and our region as the place to do this stuff," said Shenoi, who performs investigations on projects supported by the National Science Foundation, FBI, IRS, National Security Agency and the departments of Defense and Homeland Security.

"The major companies are seeing what's happening," he said. "We could move businesses here. . . .

"If we train enough people and keep knocking on doors, eventually some doors will open."

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Satyan Pai

Residence: Oakland.

Age: 21.

Family: Single.

Education: Carnegie Mellon University junior majoring in biological sciences and minoring in chemistry. Plans to pursue an advanced degree in molecular biology.

Background: Conducts molecular biology research that involves analyzing a method of fluorescently labeling proteins so they can be monitored inside cells. He will intern this summer at Merck Pharmaceuticals Research Labs in New Jersey.

Noteworthy: Recently was one of 323 college sophomores and juniors nationwide to be awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

Quote: "I was really surprised I was the only one from Carnegie Mellon," he said. "My parents were ecstatic. My dad is still telling everyone at home about it."

Chicago Headline Club Honors City's Best Journalism in Peter Lisagor Awards

The Chicago Headline Club chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has named the winners of its annual Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism.

The Chicago Tribune received 29 honors, including awards to its Sunday magazine, Web site and video production unit. The Chicago Sun-Times was presented 19 awards; Chicago Public Radio, 15; Associated Press, 9; Crain's Chicago Business, 10; Daily Southtown, 7; and Daily Herald and Chicago magazine, 6 each.

These are the Chicago Headline Club's 29th annual awards to area journalists. The competition's categories range from in-depth reporting and photography to business, commentary and feature reporting.

Miami Herald syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. was the featured speaker in the April 21 awards banquet at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza.

The awards are named for Peter Lisagor, late Washington bureau chief of the Chicago Daily News. Reporters and editors from SPJ chapters in Indianapolis, Miami and Seattle reviewed more than 800 entries published or broadcast in 2005. Plaques were presented for 60 reports, chosen for such attributes as enterprise, accuracy, scope, style and impact.

Judges' comments on all finalists in the contest will be posted at . Here are the Lisagor Award winners:

In-depth reporting
-- Associated Press, "Cleaning Contracts," John O'Connor
-- Chicago Reporter, "No Sure Thing," Sarah Karp, Robert VerBruggen and
Rupa Shenoy
-- Chicago Tribune, "Pipeline to Peril," Cam Simpson
-- Chicago Tribune, "The New Street Hustle," David Jackson
-- Chicago Tribune, "The Oreo, Obesity and Us," Jeremy Manier, Patricia
Callahan and Delroy Alexander
-- Chicago Tribune Magazine, "America's Best Prosecutor? Jury Still Out on
U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald," Kirsten Scharnberg
-- Crain's Chicago Business, "The Billionaire Next Door," Steven R.
Strahler and Steve Daniels
-- Daily Southtown, "The Iron Fist of Education," Linda Lutton and Kati
-- South Shore Community News, "Sex Offenders in the City," Jeff Kelly
-- WBBM Radio, "Chicago's Vanishing Neighborhood Bar," Steve Miller
-- WBEZ, "Banking the Unbanked," Lex Gillespie
-- WTTW, "Paper Trail: 100 Years of the Chicago Defender," Barbara E.
Allen, Chris Benson, Patricia Lofthouse and Paul Buckner with
contributors Gail F. Baker, Ph.D., Joe "Jody" Williams, April Wilson,
Evan Allen-Gessesse and Brandon Blu
-- WMAQ, "The Voices and Faces Project," Carol Marin, Don Moseley and Mark

Global outsourcing market is sizzling

In its latest report global sourcing advisory firm TPI has indicated ‘the first quarter of 2006’ as the strongest quarter ever for outsourcing contracts. The report says 83 contracts have been signed so far this year worth $22.7 billion in total contract value (TCV). TPI India’s managing director Siddharth Pai said the strong quarter is the result of rise in the number of contracts being restructured. “Restructurings of first-generation agreements have yielded an increased impact on both the volume and the value of contracts in the broader market this quarter,” he said. The report also claims that financial savings available from outsourcing have been greatly over-estimated. Opinions vary widely about the cost savings to be gained from outsourcing. This study proves that the promise of massive operational savings is unrealistic if the costs of procurement and ongoing contract management are taken into account. “In our experience, outsourcing arrangements which focus solely on delivering huge savings often fail to meet client expectations,” added Mr.Pai.

Sidelines: Pai charts a course in singles after reaching state doubles

Maumee Valley senior Abi Pai is playing at the No. 1 singles spot this season. Pai and Craig Choka reached the Division II state tournament in doubles last season. His sister, Shweta, played for the school and qualified for the state tournament four times.

Ohio, USA: Abi Pai brings more to the tennis court than meets the eye.

Maumee Valley Country Day’s top player brings plenty of experience from past endeavors he believes have helped make him one of the better tennis players around.

Pai, a senior, began looking at tennis seriously when he was in the seventh grade. It was around the time when he had to narrow his list of extracurricular pursuits.

By then, Pai had already achieved second-degree black belt status in karate. He was an accomplished gymnast who had experienced success against national competition. He also played organized soccer and studied piano.

However, staying with tennis came down to which activity piqued his interest the most.

“It was something we got into as kids and we just kept on playing,” said Pai, speaking of himself and older sister Shweta, a former standout tennis player at MVCD who was a state qualifier four straight years.

Abi, who reached the Division II state tennis tournament a year ago as a doubles player, has been channeling much of his attention to honing his skills on the tennis court. Past activities remain a part of his repertoire.

Pai, who earned a first-degree black belt by the age 9 and his second-degree belt by 11, said his karate experience has been a benefit with the “mental aspect” involved in playing tennis. He said studying karate raised his focus level and taught him plenty about perseverance.

He also said competing in gymnastics and soccer helped him recognize the importance of conditioning.

Pai placed as high as third in a national gymnastics competition held in Las Vegas when he was 11. However, he eventually put an end to a difficult balancing act trying to juggle gymnastics and tennis, which represented his two favorite extracurricular activities.

He settled for applying his gracefulness to the tennis court.

“The main reason I gave up gymnastics was it also was a huge time commitment,” he said. “I’d have to spend three to five hours a day training for gymnastics.”
Pai believes playing soccer when he was younger also helped him with developing quick and agile feet, which he now uses to run down lobs or speedy returns. He also says learning how to play piano has helped him develop a general understanding that nothing is accomplished without practice and dedication.
“Learning how to play the piano is not something you can pick up in one day and learn how to play a song,” he said. “And you just can’t come out here and play tennis one day and expect to be good. You have to work hard.”

Quality time spent on the tennis court shows in Pai’s game, according to MVCD’s first-year coach Jarin Jaffee.

“He’s got all the shots,” Jaffee said. “He’s strong on both sides and he’s very fast on the court.

“He’s a good thinker on the court and he’s a fighter. He’s got the package.”

Pai said playing tennis regularly with Shweta when they were younger also played a major role in his development. It wasn’t until about the time he reached high school when he finally was able to defeat his sister, who is a freshman playing tennis at Washington University in St. Louis.

“When we were growing up, we just hit with each other all the time and I think that’s why I improved,” Pai said. “My sister and I pushed ourselves. We both really tried to beat each other.”

He played most of his junior season as the Hawks’ No. 2 singles player before teaming with Craig Choka to form a doubles tandem that proved good enough to make it to the state tournament. Choka graduated and this year Pai is playing as the No. 1 singles player.

He entered the season excited about the opportunity to serve as a team leader.
Pai, who has a 3.5 grade-point average, plans to attend Miami University to study business.

“I’m really just going into the season looking to have fun,” said Pai, who has won his two singles matches this season in just two sets each. “I really want to do well and see my teammates do well.

“Breaking through to state last year helped me to gain some confidence and now I know what to expect.”

He anticipates a tougher road to get to the state tournament this year if he decides to stay with singles.

“I know at first singles I’m going to get a lot more quality matches during the season,” he said. “Those kinds of matches will help me get ready for sectionals, districts and hopefully state.”

Coming up short of placing at state serves as motivation this time.

“It’s a completely different feeling when you’re on the [Ohio State University] tennis courts,” he said. “When you’re down there it’s no joke. It’s good competition down there and you realize to get there it’s a feat.”

But Pai’s ready to serve his best shot for a return trip to Columbus.

Friday, April 21, 2006

BJP to break its Kerala jinx?

As Kerala prepares to elect a new assembly from Saturday, the usual question has cropped up: will the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) finally open its account?

Statistically speaking, BJP's prospects are not too bright. Its vote share has seen a slide since the 1987 assembly poll.

In 1987, the saffron party managed a 6.47 per cent share, in 1991 5.53 per cent, in 1996 5.48 per cent and in 2001 5.02 per cent, a further slump.

Of the 140 seats in the assembly, the BJP and its associates are contesting all but one seat.

Since 1987 the Manjeswaram seat from Kasaragod district has seen all BJP candidates end in the second place. However, BJP candidate Narayan Bhat claimed: "This time we will win.

"Ever since the campaign began, we have felt that the voters here are looking for a change from the normal practice of sending the same UDF (United Democratic Front) candidate to the assembly."

Another seat where the BJP is putting its money is Kasaragod where again its candidate has ended up as runner-up in the last three successive elections.

And moving down to Palakkad, the BJP has put up former union minister O Rajagaopal to infuse hope in the party veins.

With the party doing extremely well in the local bodies poll in Palakkad last year, hopes are high that this time the BJP will finally break into the Kerala assembly.

Kodungallor - where it has put up Mohan Sankar - and Thiruvananthapuram East - where a BJP-supported candidate is in the fray - are the other two constituencies where the BJP hopes to give their opponents a run for their money.

State BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai said: "All these years the CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) backed the UDF in at least two or three seats to keep us out in north Kerala. This is why we were kept out of the assembly.

"We have done enough work with an array of national leaders campaigning in north Kerala for our candidates. If the CPI-M does not play foul like in the past, you wait and see - we will be in the floor of the assembly," Pillai said.

A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader said the CPI-M, in order to keep the Indian Union Muslim League forces at bay, might not engage in cross voting.

Double for Aditya Bhat

KOCHI: Aditya Bhat, the promising 13-year-old from Elamakkara Bhavan's Vidya Mandir, won a double in the Ernakulam District tennis championship, which concluded at the Regional Sports Centre courts here on Wednesday.

Aditya won the under-16 and under-14 boys titles.

Also taking a double was State men's champion Rynold Timothy who won the men's and under-18 boys trophies.

The results: Men (final): Rynold Timothy bt G. Ramamurthy 6-4, 6-3. (Semifinals): Rynold bt Prasad 6-0, conceded; Ramamurthy bt Govind 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

Under-18 (final; best of 15 games): Rynold Timothy bt Atul Roy 8-5. (Semifinals): Rynold bt Joel Jacob 8-2; Atul bt Eldo George 8-5.

Under-16 (final): Aditya Bhat bt Eldo George 8-6. (Semifinals): Aditya Bhat bt Joel Jacob 8-4; Eldo bt Sachin Antony 8-1.

Under-14 (final): Aditya Bhat bt Jacob Jeeson 8-2. (Semifinals): Aditya Bhat bt Vikram 8-3; Jacob bt Sachin Antony 8-2.

Under-12 (final; best of 17 games): Vikram Ramesh bt Chacko Joseph 9-0. (Semifinals): Vikram bt Roshan Issac 8-0; Chacko bt Kevin Joseph 8-5.

Girls: Under-16 (final; best of 11 games): Isha Ananya bt Preethika 6-2. (Semifinals): Isha bt Annie 6-2; Preethika bt Nitya Kumar 6-5.

Under-14 (final): Nithya Kumar bt Sana Sadiq 6-3. (Semifinals): Nithya bt Visali 6-3; Sana bt Tanmayi 6-3.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Konkani film Just a minute released

A Konkani film entitled ‘Just a minute,’ produced by Maachi Mogi and M/s V P Sinari was released recently on the occasion of Easter at the hands of Menino Peres, Director of Information & Publicity at a function held at Dinanath Mangueshkar hall, Kala Academy, Panjim. A premier show of the film was held after the release ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion, Peres said that the film is an effective e medium for mass communication and considering its importance to educate the masses, the Goa Government has formulated a scheme for providing assistance for production of films in Konkani, Marathi, English and Hindi.
He asked the producers to take maximum benefit of the scheme, so that Konkani and Marathi film industry is spread further.

Profile :: Professor Ajit Shenoi

Professor R Ajit ShenoiSchool of Engineering Sciences

University of Southampton
University Road
SO17 1BJ

Position: Head of Group, LLoyd's Register / Royal Academy of Engineering Research Professor, Professor of Lightweight Composite Structures

Home Page :

Wine war saga

New wine maker Renaissance will lock horns with the big three in the Indian market
Shailendra Pai, wine professional turned wine maker, believes he makes exceptional wine. With his Renaissance wines now on retail shelves and hotel menus across India, he is hoping that wine-drinkers will concur.
While some may say he has lost the first-mover’s advantage in the game (he will be taking on the three established leaders — Chateau Indage, Sula and Grover), Pai thinks his timing couldn’t be better. “The licensing climate is perfect in Maharashtra, and the market is growing at 35 per cent annually,” he says.
Even as Grover Vineyards’ Kapil Grover sounds a note of caution that the Nashik region has over-produced, Rai believes there has never been as much quality to choose from. “Today over 1,800 acres in Nashik are under wine grape contract farming, with several hundred acres being added each year,” says Rai, who currently bottles Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz Cabernet and Sauvignon Cabernet Classic. The wines are available in the Rs 419-480 range.
“We are in the premium segment precisely because we will never resort to using table varieties of grapes to produce fortified and port wines,” claims Rai. He dismisses any concerns on quality due to the fact that they have to resort to harvesting grapes from contract farms until 2007. “Every major wine maker in India has a certain proportion of his wines coming from contract farms. Besides, our contract farms follow our viticulture parameters. We restrict the yield from the average seven to eight tonnes per acre to five tonnes per acre, and ensure maturity of grape before harvesting, even if that means the recovery period is delayed,” says Pai.
Renaissance recently acquired 52 acres of land, which will be ready for harvesting in 2007. “We’ve set aside three and a half acres for experimentation with Pinot Noir, Merlot and Chardonnay,” says Pai.
Varietals and quality aside, there’s no denying that a successful wine brand is a well-marketed wine brand. And Pai is aware of that. “Wine makers are dumping wine on distributors under the guise of trade promotions. Our strategy is to choose large-scale but supervised consumer trials over trade discounts and dumping. Indian wine drinkers are extremely brand loyal, so we will work with our intrinsic quality and presentation to build top-of-the-mind brand recall.”
Pai is projecting revenues of Rs 3.2 crore in 2006-07 at the current production capacity of 200,000 litres-a-year. By 2009, Renaissance hopes to be producing over 500,000 litres of wine. Assuming, of course, the brand succeeds where several others have failed.
Pai’s not taking chances. He believes that a well defined target audience is the first step. “We’re targeting the 25-to-35 year old young executive for our Chenin and Shiraz. The Cabernet Classic is aimed at mature drinkers who’ve drunk over 200 bottles of wine, because it is a more complex wine,” he says.
With domestic retail barely off the ground, Renaissance is already processing enquiries from a UK based retailer. “We hope to be selling in the UK by September,” says Pai. However, exports will absorb only 25 per cent of total production. “I refuse to deprive my people of fine wine,” says Pai, confident he will not wind up like the 31 other registered wineries that few can name.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ajay Kini sizzles

Ajay Kini had a rollicking time in the first two rounds of the JK Tyre Racing Cup 2006, brainchild of JK Tyre and Madras Motor Sports Club, winning both all the four races of the two-day event at the MMST track, Irrungattukottai near here.
After dominating on Saturday, winning both the races, Chennai lad Ajay was in top form yesterday, winning the two events staged.

In the qualifying session Ajay and P V Bharat took the pole positions in the Formula Maruti and Esteem categories respectively. The grid for the second race is based on the finishing order of the first race as per the regulations for this cup.

The first race in the Formula category saw pole leader Ajay build on a good start to race ahead in the opening laps and despite being hotly pursued by several drivers, held on to romp to a win. Finishing second was Saran Vikram from Chennai while P Vivekanandan of Coimbatore came in third. It was a repeat performance by Ajay Kini who won the second race of the the day making it four in a row. In second place was Saran Vikram followed by Sudarshan Rao.

Chennai's P V Bharat continued his good run to take the chequered flag for the third successive time in the first race of the Esteem category. Finishing way behind in second and third places were R Sriram and Bollisetti Sailesh of Vishakapatnam respectively.

The youngster from Vishakapatnam came up with a splendid effort to win race two. Gautam Shankar finished second while Sriram came third.

Ajay Kini now heads the championship table in the Formula Maruti category having notched up 43 points. In second place is Ajith Narasimhan with 22 points while Saran Vikram is in 3rd place with 17 points.

Flavoursome Konkani Kanua

Bangalore: Tucked away in by lane off Sarjapur road is a back- to-the-roots (as opposed to state-of-the-art) restaurant with an an intriguing name, “Kanua.”

The ambience is earthy. Even the drinking water is served in a small mud pot. The open rectangular restaurant is 3,000 sq ft and has 70 covers. The traditional elements are redesigned for modern application. The roof of the restaurant is Mangalore-tiled and the rafters of tropical hard wood are from various old houses in the coastal region.

Kanua, explains Rajesh Pai is the name of a lost breed of rice from South Kanara. It's been lost to mass production and commercialisation. He is very passionate about this variety of rice, “Kanua is a par-boiled brown rice. Today hybrid rice varieties are known by cryptic names like M1, M4 or H4. There is no romance or story left. Kanua is a variety of rice grown in the interior parts of Kundapur in my grandfather’s village. It is locally known as kanuke or eye of a beautiful woman.” The Kanua project is an attempt to revive and rediscover this rice.

This restaurant is tribute to Konkani cuisine. All the ingredients are flown in fresh from South Kanara, only seasonal vegetables are used . The recipes are authentic and even ghee used for preparing meals is home-made. The shelves are lined with vegetables like snake gourds, pumpkin, ash gourd, mounds of gnarled yam, raw bananas, raw papaya, vine spinach, yard-long beans. No firangi vegetables like cauliflower, French beans, carrots or tomatoes but just the produce of the coastal region and they are cooked in time-honoured fashion. Tamrind and salt is stored in traditional ceramic jars.

Coastal fish such as prawn, seer, mussels, kaane (ladyfish) and bolanjeer (silverfish) is cooked in mud vessels and therefore the taste is closer to home-cooked food.

For starters there is Ghare happol - sun-dried jackfruit pappads, Pohdies - seasonal vegetables deep fried with a coating of flour. Kaane rawa fry is spiced ladyfish in a crisp semolina crust fried in coconut oil. Kanua ghee roast is a speciality in which morsels of chicken are fried in pure, home-made ghee.

Kuvaale sassam is ash gourd in a mild mustard-based curry. There is liberal use of coconut in some of the dishes like the Naarla egg curry and Naarla chicken curry. You can use this as a dip for Mangalore roxtti (crisp rice sheets) or Paanpolo (thin rice flour pancake). Paanpolo can also be had along with Dalithoi which is dal seasoned with curry leaves and red chillies or Vaali Ambat - crunchy vine spinach and raw papaya with stir-fried onions. To those who favour rice then there is Kanua chicken curry and Kanua prawn pulao.

Desserts too are coastal and traditional. Sakre Khichdi is split Benxgal gram and semolina cooked in a mix of sugar and cardamom and served with sliced banana. Kaelenche is ripened plantain stir-fried in ghee and served in light sugar syrup. Katmandige is sheets of rice-and-jaggery layered and laced with ghee.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Konkani Book Awards presented

MANIPAL: Konkanis spread over 4-5 states can be united only by Konkani literature and its dialect, said noted Konkani writer Prakash Padgaonkar from Bardez, Goa.

He was speaking after receiving the Dr T M A Pai Best Konkani Book Award-2005 instituted by the Dr T M A Pai Foundation, Manipal, for his book ‘Vhaunti Nhai Kallachi,’ here on Saturday.

Prakash said the great visionary Dr T M A Pai firmly believed that Konkani literature would unite Konkani speaking people. He also said, “it does not make any difference what script you use.Irrespective of the script,let it be Devanagari, Roman, Kannada or Malayalam, one should popularise the Konkani language.”

He urged parents to teach Konkani along with English to their children. The T M A Foundation chairman K. K. Pai presented the Award and presided over the programme. Konkani Book Appreciation Award 2004-05 were also presented to Balachandra P. Gaonkar for his book ‘Dongrache Avonde’, Nayana Adarkar for her book ‘Man Sanvar’, Jyothi Kunkolikar for her book ‘Kannyadaan’ and posthumously to George Pinto for his book ‘Porot Porot.’

Gracy Pinto received the award presented to George Pinto. Prasar Bharathi president M. V. Kamath was the chief guest.

The Foundation secretary H. V. Kamath said that since 20 years awards have been given to 42 authors; out of which 15 were in Kannada and 27 were in Devanagari. There were entries in Malayalam also.

The entries in Roman script were not up to the expected standard, Kamath added. Dr Shantharam compered the programme.

Ajay Kini keeps winning

CHENNAI: Ajay Kini led both races of the Formula Maruti category from pole to finish on Sunday to extend his winning streak to four in the JK Tyre Racing Junior Cup here at the MMST track in Irrungattukottai.

The 16-year-old Kini, who had won both of Saturday's races, displayed admirable car control during each of the eight-lap long races after he had secured pole with a time of 1:14.521.

While Kini, who has come through the karting ranks, built a comfortable lead in the first race, he had to stave off a late surge by Saran Vikram in the second. The two cars went wheel-to-wheel after they rounded the last corner, but Vikram, despite setting the fastest lap, could not find his way past.

With the double victory, Kini moved to 43 points in the championship table, while Vikram, who finished second in both races, went to 17. Ajith Narasimhan, with 22 points, is in third place.

In the Formula Esteem category, P.V. Bharat won the first race to make it three on the trot, but was forced to pull out of the second with a broken drive shaft. Bolliseti Sailesh from Vizag won race two.

The JK Tyre Racing Cup 2006, the brainchild of J K Tyre and Madras Motor Sports Club, gives an opportunity to those without race experience to compete at an affordable cost.

The results (all races eight laps):

Formula Maruti: Race I: 1. Ajay Kini 10:15:040, 2. Saran Vikram 10:17:490, 3. P. Vivekanandan 10:38:451; Race II: 1. Kini 10:08:851, 2. Vikram 10:09:064, 3. Sudrashan Rao 10:13:857.

Formula Esteem: Race I: 1. P.V. Bharat 10:49:241; 2. R. Sriram 10: 57:863, 3. Bollisetti Sailesh 11:01:512, Race II: 1. Sailesh 10:52:089, 2. Gautam Shankar 10:53:480, 3. R. Sriram 10:54:247.

Why did Infosys CFO Pai move to HR?

Hey India Inc, if surging employee attrition is bothering you, flagging employee morale is becoming an issue, and hiring people is giving you sleepless nights, then wake up and listen to what job-hopping high-flying executives in Corporate India are demanding.

For top-rung executives, clearly, empowerment and a clarity in the organisation’s vision is what matters the most — while 62% of India’s top executives want their organisation to clarify its vision, 31% want more empowerment. However, for the middle and junior management, rewarding performance on a frequent basis appears to play an important role.

A survey carried out by the executive search firm, Executive Access, reveals this and provides many more insights into what Indian executives are looking for in their career.

HR is no longer a non-core function and in the ongoing talent war, it will play a critical role in employee engagement and retention. Look at what just happened at Infosys — TV Mohandas Pai traded his CFO job for the position of HR head, something virtually inconceivable a few years ago. Progressive companies are now waking up to the importance of the HR function.

According to the survey, one in every four respondents across the country wants his/her company to let HR play a proactive role. Understandably, in the already-conscious IT & ITeS sector, this proposition got a high 25% vote. But even executives in the FMCG and hospitality sectors voted in a similar range — 21-25% — showing that the criticality of the HR function is being felt far beyond the technology sector.

This is also a wake-up call to the manufacturing sector, which has seen top talent fleeing to the services sector. Lagging far behind the services sector in employee engagement, a high 37% in the manufacturing sector want their companies to empower HR and make it play a proactive role.

The maximum overall executive votes — 33% — however, go to giving clarity to the company’s vision. Employees want their companies to deliver what they promise and walk the talk. Clearly, employees want their companies to constantly communicate and update them on its visions and goals. “There is a very serious disconnect. One in every three employees is not clear or cannot relate to his/her company’s visions,” says Ronesh Puri, managing director, Executive Access.

Rewarding performance is the third most critical area of concern for employees. And guess what — this is being felt most acutely in the media sector. Around 30% of respondents in the sector — almost double the national average of 15% — want their companies to focus a lot more on performance reward.

As expected, performance rewards got the highest marks in Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, where the presence of a large number of IT companies and MNCs has raised awareness levels among executives about rewards and compensation. 21% of executives surveyed in Bangalore want companies to focus on performance rewards to retain top talent.

What also came out loud and clear in the survey is a strong gender bias on the empowerment issue. While for male executives, empowerment is an area of concern with 17% voting for it, only 2% of women executives found it important enough in making their career decisions. Perhaps, the fact that top management in India Inc is still a male bastion has something to do with this, since empowerment as an issue becomes important in the top echelons.

Swarashri to present ‘Tanka Amchem Noman’ in New Delhi

Vasco, April 15: The Minister for Art and Culture, Mr Digamber Kamat handed over a presentation letter and funds to Swarashri, a Konkani cultural institution to present a Konkani musical programme in New Delhi.Swarashri has produced a unique musical feature based on the freedom movement of our country and the liberation of Goa, Daman and Diu named ‘Tanka Amchem Noman’ in a lucid style of narration and songs.

The script and songs are written by renowned poet and former, director of Panaji DDK, Mr Pandharinath Damodar Lotlikar. Beautiful stage settings and arrangements with lights are done by a well known artist, Mr Dayanand Bhagat. Renowned singers, and musicians in the Goan music field are participating in the show.

The chairman of Swarashri, Mr Assiz Lobo is the production incharge and Mr Arvind Shinde is the programme manager. This musical feature was presented in many parts of Goa under a special scheme introduced by the Goa Konkani Academi.

The show will be presented at a few locations in Goa on behalf of the Directorate of Art and Culture and thereafter it will be presented at New Delhi.

The renowned Konkani music composer, Ramanand Raikar has composed music for this show. The show will be jointly presented by the Directorate of Art and Culture, National Academy and a local organization, Goenkarancho Ekvott at New Delhi and also in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

MAHE to contribute Rs 100 cr

As many as 80 per cent of the population in India are not in a position to afford even basic health care, he said and added that at this juncture health infrastructure should be developed and made affordable to the poor.

Advanced medical services should be made affordable to the poor, said MAHE Registrar Vinod Bhat.

He was speaking at a symposium on ‘Evidence based clinical gastroenterology’ at TMA Pai hall in the city, on Saturday.

Latest devices and technology of diagnosis have brought a sea change in the medical services. But persons and institutions offering these services including the pharmacy companies are transferring the huge costs involving research and development (R & D) on the patients or the customers, he lamented.

As many as 80 per cent of the population in India are not in a position to afford even basic health care, he said and added that at this juncture health infrastructure should be developed and made affordable to the poor. By the year 2010, MAHE has decided to provide Rs 100 crore endowment for the community health services, he informed.

In his remarks, KMC Dean Dr C V Raghuveer said that with the change in understanding and manifestation of diseases, paradigm shift in the treatment and pathology could be noticed.

Speaking on the occasion, Indian Society of Gastroenterology Secretary Dr G Chowdary said that significant number of cases related to morbidity and mortality reported in the nation were due to gastroenteritis.

ISGCON is encouraging research activities in gastroenteritis. Lecture and demonstration programmes had been organised throughout the nation to sensitise the medical fraternity about the advanced practices in the field, he informed.

Organising Secretaries of KMC Dr Ganesh Pai, Dr B V Tantry and others were present on the occasion.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Infy's CFO Pai takes over as HR chief

In a move that took everybody by surprise on Friday, Infosys Technologies announced that its long serving CFO TV Mohandas Pai would step down from the position effective April 30 and take over the functions of human resource development, education & research and administration. He will continue to be both on the board of the company and as chairman of the BPO arm, Progeon.

Mr Pai was the CFO for the past 12 years and this position will now be taken over by V Balakrishan, currently senior vice president (finance) and company secretary but will not be a board member.
Considering that CFO’s position is seen as a more powerful one than a HR chief’s in most company set-ups, this move has indeed raised eyebrows. The industry thinks it is a positive move. Said a senior industry executive, “He has been handling two functions, finance and HR for some time now and that is not tenable in the long run.

In fact, by putting a director level guy directly in charge of HR, Infosys has upgraded the HR function.”
The former HR chief of Infosys, Hema Ravichandar used to report to Infosys COO, Kris Gopalakrishnan. Mr Pai, will directly report to the CEO. Said another senior HR professional in the IT industry, “HR chief’s plays a very important role in people centric organisations like Infosys. One needs personalities like Mr Pai in this sector.”

The change comes at a time when Infosys is looking at making a gross addition of 25,000 people during the current fiscal which will include 18,000 in the parent company and the remaining in its various subsidiaries. The software giant’s current employee strength stands at 52,715.

Mr Pai, has increasingly emerged as the public face of Infosys and the guy to quote on Infosys’ expansion plans, especially its vexed land acquisition issue in Bangalore.

Infosys chairman and chief mentor NR Narayana Murthy said the decision of Mr Pai to voluntarily step down from the CFO position, paving the way for younger people to take up more responsibility was a very rare in any company.

He said that Mr Pai would moving into a more important role and is expected to be “busier than ever.”
Commenting on the transition, Infosys managing director Nandan Nilekani said, the movement is just from “finance capital to human capital,” and comes at a time when the future challenge for the company would be ensuring adequate human capital.

On the recent reports that Infosys lacked the depth in the middle management, Mr Pai said this has been a debate for the industry as a whole, but Infosys had got the depth and width to manage any activity. Quoting an example, he said Infosys annually does around 4,000-5,000 projects a year and only 6-7 fall in the default list. Infosys during the fourth quarter of ’05-06 fiscal, made a lateral addition of 1,620 people.

He said Infosys would go on with its expansion activity both within India and outside. This would mean expansion in places like Jaipur, Kolkata and Hyderabad and will also include in its operations in China and Australia. Mr Murthy said Infosys as a corporation needs to take decision fast and Andhra Pradesh government offered land earlier so it went ahead with its Hyderabad plans.

On the expansion plans in Karnataka, Mr Pai said it has received a letter from the government and it has yet to begin discussion with KIADB on the actual land acquisition process.


The Kamath brothers give Sufi music an electro-rock punch

Their latest track Teri deewangi has been warming the number 2 slot on the music charts for the last three weeks. From a brand of music that blends elements of Sufi with rock, their sound can be best described as neo-

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. But guitar-toting siblings Naresh and Paresh Kamath, and folk singer Kailash Kher who they make music for, differ in more than just their musical preferences.

While Kher comes from a Hindustani classical background, the brothers are well recognised on the city’s rock music circuit. As guitarist and vocalist of six-year-old band Bombay Black, Paresh and Naresh have performed numerous gigs in the country and abroad, having travelled to the US after winning the Great Indian Rock competition in 2001.

The Kamath duo started with college rock bands Witch Hammer, Modus Operandi and Crisis, later joining the jazz-oriented Divya, which included the likes of Ranjit Barot, Din Shah, Shankar Mahadevan and Roy Venkataraman.

But it was working with singer Shaan on his album Aksar, that had them change tracks. ‘‘We were as much music snobs as the rest of our rocker friends. But touring with Shaan, across the length and breadth of the country, and seeing fans in every city line up and go mad, gave us a huge reality check. We realised that being able to take your music to such sheer numbers was also a test of talent,’’ says Paresh. ‘‘Of course the fact that we made so much money was also responsible for that train of thought,’’ adds Naresh.

But it took them another couple of years, a stint with Asha Bhonsle, an offer to start a boy band, and a couple of jingles, to finally meet a perfect match in Kher.

‘‘After working with Kher, we’ve explored a whole new genre of music,’’ says Naresh. Kher’s manager asked the brothers to make music for a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song that the singer had recorded.

Not having heard much of the legendary Sufi singer’s music, the brothers were able to give a fresh sound to the song, which surprised industry professionals. ‘‘Kailash, who comes from a traditional gharana style of music, was stunned at first, but he loved it,’’ says Paresh.

Now the trio are inseparable. After Awaargi and their last hit Kailasa, their future albums will explore other folk and traditional music.

If these rockers are cool with Hindustani music, ‘‘Kailash greets friends with a ‘Hey dude’ these days,’’ says Naresh.

The Cocker Spaniels who follow Konkani

Sushila cuddles with her dogs at her Santacruz residence.

Language, no barrier

Sushila Shirali, lives with three generations of Cocker Spaniels — grandma Cuddles, mother Magic and grand daughter Dudoom.

The family heirloom that has been passed down from generation to generation is not a diamond-studded collar or a special chewy toy but, “It’s the Konkani language,” declares Sushila proudly, who doesn’t talks to her dogs in English.

Language therapy

The dogs’ understanding of the language goes way beyond simple commands like “sit” and “roll over”. The one that gets them most excited is “Malawali osoo ya”.

“We have a farm house at a hill station called Malawli, which is their favourite place. So, when I say, ‘we are going to Malawli’, it gets them all riled up. They even wear matching T-shirts and pile up into the Santro before us! It’s quite an event for them,” explains Sushila.

Another one of their favourite lines is when Sushila announces the arrival of her daughter, Niyanta, and grandson Yuvraj. “It’s probably the tone in which I say it, but it’s quite amazing that they react to full sentences, and not just one-word commands,” says the teacher.

Speaking to her dogs in Konkani is also Sushila’s small way of carrying on her own family tradition. “English is the dominant language in our home.

So, it feels nice to speak to someone in my mother tongue,” she smirks.
The black and white trio also double up as shrinks for this teacher.

“Cuddles, Magic and Dudoom are very sensitive to my emotions, and they aren’t judgmental. I pour my heart out to them, in Konkani of course.”


After a Ganpati puja at the Shirali residence, the first modaks are given to their three pets. Even during Diwali, they have the right to the first Kaju Katris, when the box opens.

“For them all festivals and religious ceremonies at home are synonymous with mithais. Especially Dudoom,” laughs Sushila, who named him Dudoom because as a puppy, he kept falling, and creating a ‘dudoom’ sound.

2 Konkani plays to be staged in Qatar

Goan Stars will organise two Konkani short plays in Qatar on April 21, after a gap of more than four years.

According to show co-ordinator Agostinho H Pires, this is the first time in history among the Goans in Qatar that a woman has written and directed a short play.
The two plays are ‘Hanganch Ami Chuktanv’, written and directed by Ms Natcey Barretto and ‘Uzo’ written and Directed by Mr Louis Carvalho.
The show will be held from 4 pm onwards at the Ministry of Education hall, opposite Qatar National library, Doha.
Noted artistes from Goa and Kuwait will be flown in to keep the Goan music, culture, heritage and the mother tongue alive among Goans in Qatar.
Norman Cardoz, will be specially flown in from Goa to provide music for the show, Mr Pires added.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Accenture's Chet Kamat quits

Chaitanya `Chet' Kamat, head of Accenture's delivery operations in India, quit his position recently citing personal reasons. Kamat was instrumental in building Accenture's delivery network capability in India from scratch over the past five years.
" Chet Kamat has decided to move on from Accenture for personal reasons," said Basilio Reuda, chief operating officer for technology and delivery at Accenture, in an e-mailed statement to Business Line. " Chet was the Lead Executive for the Accenture Delivery Centre in India and was also one of the members of Accenture's leadership team in India. Accenture wishes him all the best for the future." Accenture has appointed Sandeep Arora as Lead, India Delivery Centre. "Sandeep has worked with Accenture internationally and in India for over a decade, and brings an impressive track record in both sales and delivery in technology solutions," Reuda said.

Confirming his exit after being with Accenture for close to 19 years in two stints, Kamat said that he had decided to take a break and spend time with his family. Further, Kamat said he had not decided about his next move.

The India operation is considered a flagship for Accenture's global delivery network. Accenture had close to 18,000 people in India as of end-February and the company has been adding over a 1,000 people on a monthly basis for its IT and BPO operations.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Jayalakshmi Silks celebrates 60yrs

The Kochi-based silk sari showroom, Jayalakshmi Silks, which has completed 60 years, is all set to celebrate the event with festivities spanning 365 days, says Narayan Kamath, managing partner. The current storage space is more than one lakh square feet and it showcases the best apparels and designs, he says. Being the biggest buyers of cloth, especially for saris, over the past sixty years, Jayalakshmi Silks can control textile prices and pass on the benefits to the customers, he adds.

You can also visit

UTI Bank opens branch in Singapore

UTI Bank started its international operations with its first overseas branch in Singapore.

The branch would offer corporate banking and trade finance products, syndication and investment banking and liability businesses, said a press release. The bank also has approvals for representative offices in the UAE, China and full service branches in Sri Lanka and Hong Kong and an offshore in Dubai.

The press release quoted Dr P.J. Nayak, Chairman and Managing Director, UTI Bank, as saying, "There is a considerable opportunity for Indian companies to raise money overseas and our presence in Singapore would act as an anchor point for them."

Other Indian banks that have branches in Singapore are ICICI Bank, State Bank of India and Bank of India.

Bank of Baroda is likely to start its overseas business unit within a couple of months.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It’s all God’s grace

ALL SMILES: For A R S Vadhyar, wife Jayasree, son-in-law Rohit and daughters Manju and Sindhu, Sunday is the day for their weekly get-together

“I’ve become what I am today, living through poverty and prosperity, through the whole gamut of emotions that life has presented me with.” A.R.S.Vadhyar turns emotional as he takes us along on a trip down memory lane.

For this man who hails from a small village, Cheppanam near Panangad, childhood has been a series of ups and downs.

“During my childhood, our family was the wealthiest in the village. I had the best silk shirt and linen mundu of the day when I was in the LP school. Magnanimous and generous as my family was, the riches gradually slipped from their hands. To such an extent that during my high school days, I went to school in tattered clothes.” Pregnant silence pervades the home.

Vadhyar himself breaks it. “If I am anything today, it’s all God’s grace,” he manages to say in a broken voice as tears well up in his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he excuses himself.

Sensing that 97-year-old father-in-law R R K Kamath, wife Jayasree, daughters Manju and Sindhu and son-in-law Rohit are all disturbed, Vadhyar says with a chuckle: “But life is a mixture of joy and sorrow.’’

Vadhyar started his career in the Kerala Public Health Engineering Department (KPHED).

“I was in government service for 12 years. Later, I chose to execute private work,” he says. That is how Yasoram Builders took birth in 1977.

“His mother’s name is Yasoda and his father is Ram. Hence the name Yasoram,” explains Jayasree, who retired as a professor from Kerala Agricultural University.

We find it amusing to see Vadhyar’s youngest daughter Dr Sindhu, a dentist at Krishna Hospital, sporting braces. Vadhyar’s older daughter Manju says - “It’s unique too! People usually resort to braces to push their teeth in. Hers is to push them out!” The family shares a hearty laugh.

“One of the greatest things our parents have done for us is to put us in a government school,” says Manju.

“Till class VII, they were in Chinmaya Vidyalaya. We wanted them to get the real feel of a middle-class and below middle-class living. And that has helped them too,” says Jayasree, looking at their children.

“There, we saw starving children and children who came with just pazhanchoru and chamanthi. That showed us a new face of life, a face we had never seen before,” says Sindhu.

Vadhyar has a much talked about roof garden that abounds in home-grown fruits and vegetables. “We get most of the vegetables for our use from our terrace garden,” Manju says with pride. And each one in the family lends a hand for its upkeep.

“Do you happen to know these models here?,” she asks with a laugh, displaying the cover page of Karshakasri in, which Rohit and herself are seen posing with the ‘harvest’ from their terrace garden.

The family is proud to take us around the terrace garden rich with lush green vegetables, mangoes, flowers and even palms laden with bunches of coconuts.

Maintaining the garden is a good exercise, says Vadhyar. “If you go out for a walk in the morning, chances are that you’ll fall into one of the large-as-ditches potholes on the road. The garden is safer,” he quips.

As the ladies go inside to set the breakfast table, Vadhyar shows us the pooja room. “Every single flower here comes from our terrace garden,” he says with a smile.

Meanwhile, breakfast arrives. “We’ve all joined in today’s cooking. Rohit made the idlis, Manju made sambar, he made the kook chirdille (a curry made of mashed potatoes and curd), I made ksheera(a typical Konkani sweet) and Sindhu took care of the settings,” says a beaming Jayasree as she serves breakfast.

“Don’t mind my extra helpings. This is for the two of us, you know!,” says Manju, who is in her sixth month of pregnancy.

“Experts say that our kitchen is wrongly placed according to vaastu principles. But we turn a deaf ear to that. What matters is convenience,” says Vadhyar. Jayasree nods in agreement.

Sunday is set aside for family get-togethers. Manju and Rohit, who stay in a nearby flat, join the family every weekend. “We either sit at home and chat or go out to some calm corner in the city to spend a quiet evening,” says Manju, who is also a trustee of Yasoram Charitable Trust.

Vadhyar has high hopes about his dream project Sky City, which has already been submitted to the Government. “If the project comes into being, it’ll be the first of its kind in the world,” he says.

Jayasree adds: “It’ll be a major facelift for the city, where horizontal expansion is impossible. It’ll also be a major tourist attraction.’’

Manju shows us some of her mother’s creative wonders. “She has no background in civil engineering, but look at the things she has made using AutoCadd and 3DMax!’’

Admiring the beauty of the pieces, we take leave with the joy of having shared some lovely moments with a family that basks in the warmth of the bond of togetherness that they share.

UTI Bank To Expand In Asia, Eyes Hybrid Debt

India's UTI Bank Ltd. (532215.BY) Tuesday opened its first overseas branch in Singapore, and plans to raise up to $700 million in hybrid tier one capital this year as it expands in Asia and the Middle East.

UTI Bank, one of India's largest private sector lenders, plans to issue perpetual bonds that will qualify as tier-one capital to take advantage of proposed changes to Reserve Bank of India regulations, said UTI Bank's chairman and managing director P. J. Nayak.

Speaking to reporters at the opening of the Singapore branch, Nayak said UTI Bank hopes to open an office in Shanghai next month, followed by a branch in Hong Kong by the end of September.

The bank has also applied to open five retail branches in Sri Lanka, a branch in the Dubai International Financial Center and a representative office in Abu Dhabi.

"We have fairly ambitious plans to create a footprint in Asia," he said.

Nayak said the Singapore branch will initially focus on merchant banking and trade financing, and its activities will including trading in foreign currencies other than the Singapore dollar.

"There is a considerable opportunity for Indian companies to raise money overseas, and our presence in Singapore would act as an anchor point for them," he said.

The Singapore branch could in future serve as a second hub for its nonresident Indian, or NRI, customers, he added.

NRI is a term used to describe Indian passport holders who live abroad and who are exempt from many of the currency controls imposed by the Indian government.

Nayak said UTI Bank has applied to the RBI, India's central bank, for permission to issue perpetual bonds that will qualify as Tier-1 capital.

These hybrid bonds will be listed in either London or Singapore depending on where liquidity and demand for the paper is likely to be greater, he said.

The issue of hybrid debt will be preceded with an issue of short-term paper and then medium-term bonds, as UTI Bank believes it can get better pricing by gradually raising the tenor.

The series of bond issues is "doable" by the end of this year, Nayak said.

Nayak said UTI Bank will likely become the first Indian bank to list hybrid bonds overseas, although there's a possibility it could be overtaken by two other Indian banks that have also applied to the RBI for permission to sell similar debt abroad.

UTI Bank was set up in 1994 after India passed laws allowing the establishment of new private sector banks. Its early sponsors included Unit Trust of India, which is currently its largest shareholder with about 27%.

According to Nayak, UTI may be prepared to further reduce its stake in UTI Bank to ensure a division between its asset management activities and its ownership of a bank.

UTI Bank has 450 branches across India and plans to open about 100 branches a year in the next three years, Nayak said.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Canada - Konkani Sammelan July 1st to July 3rd 2006

The Canadian Konkani's are the hosts for 2006 convention to be held at Hamilton Convention Centre. This event being held first time outside the US, is expected to draw about 2,000 delegates.

We invite all konkani's from around the world to join us & be part of the celebration.

The clock is counting down, and the Registration Meter is climbing up! Just over 90 days remaining. Excitement is building up among Konkanis all over North America!!

Friends are planning to meet, families are organizing get-togethers, and the NAKA KonCANi Sammelan 2006 team in Canada is shifting into top gear. Check to see which of your friends and family will be attending. Make sure you join them at this celebration!

Enjoy vibrant Toronto! Get ready for three days of fun, entertainment, delicious food and merry making. Meet at our Sammelan !!

Many of the organizers of Sammelan 2006 are Youth - and they are planning to have a blast like never before! They extend a special invitation to all Konkani Youth to join them in Hamilton!