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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Shenoy takes the bugs out of Web sites of flea markets

Inspiration comes from strange places.

In Kat Shenoy’s case, it came from a flea market in Solebury, Bucks County.

Shenoy, the president and CEO of Blue Bell software developer E-SoftSys Ltd., had always thought flea markets were small-time affairs with maybe two dozen vendors, tops. As a result, it had never occurred to him to develop software for the people who run them.

Both things changed in early 2001 when he visited Rice’s Market, which says on its Web site that it hosts as many as 700 vendors and 15,000 shoppers.

The manager, Chuck Kane, is a friend of Shenoy’s. And he told Shenoy that there were no good software packages for running markets like Rice’s and that there were plenty of markets like Rice’s around the country.

That was all Shenoy needed to hear. He had E-SoftSys, which he had founded the previous year, develop software for running flea markets. The company sold it to Rice’s and then sent representatives to the National Flea Market Association’s next annual convention where they landed some other big markets as customers.

“Based on the success of this, I started looking for other, smaller industries where people rent space,” Shenoy said.

He found two — the trade-show industry and the self-storage industry — and had E-SoftSys send people to conventions for both. As Shenoy suspected, both industries had software requirements that were similar to each other and to the flea-market industry. So he had E-SoftSys come up with software for both of them.

“What we focused on was the technology and the customer support,” he said. “My philosophy is, you provide the best customer support possible and the product will sell itself based on referrals from other customers.”

That philosophy appears to be working. E-SoftSys has grown to 100 employees and, although it still gets half its revenue from custom software development, the other half comes from its flea-market, trade-show and self-storage management software.

E-SoftSys recently landed a big customer in the last industry when Stor-All Management Ltd. of Deerfield Beach, Fla., which has more than 29,000 units in 44 locations, implemented its Self Storage Manager software.

“It’s not often you get a company with 44 sites switching their applications,” Shenoy said.

Jeff Anderson, Stor-All’s CEO, said his company evaluated all the leading self-storage management systems available.

“With the exception of Self Storage Manager, none came close to meeting our key requirements,” he said.

Among other things, Stor-All needed to be able to smoothly import the information about its tenants from its old software and to keep its management operations up and running after a hurricane or other natural disaster.

Shenoy attributes Self Storage Manager’s popularity in part to its architecture, which features both a centralized database and databases at each site. That gives self-storage companies the ability to centrally control prices and programs, as well as generate reports, while allowing individual sites to be able to keep operating when the Internet connection to their headquarters is down.

“Individual sites can do all the operations they need to do,” he said.

E-SoftSys’ background is also a plus. Because it started out as a custom software developer and still does custom software projects, it’s willing to customize its products for flea-market, trade-show and self-storage customers in ways its competitors often aren’t, Shenoy said.

It also does search-engine optimization and Web-site development for its customers, including the National Flea Market Association and Rice’s, which it developed Web sites for.

“Our clients like the fact that we are a one-stop shop for all [information-technology] services,” Shenoy said.


Manipal Institute of Technology Makes India Proud by Launching “Formula Manipal”

Manipal Institute of Technology’s students had crossed a spectacular mile stone in the History of India. A team of 15 students of MIT dreamt of making a racing car when they were in Second year of engineering. They formed a team named FORMULA MANIPAL, from various engineering branches.

Manipal Formula car was unveiled on the 4th of September 2008, at the Manipal University Main building (MAHE building) at 10 AM. Dr.Ramdas Pai Chairman, Manipal Education * Medical Group Flagged off the Event.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Ramdas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Education & Medical Group, said “" One small step for Manipal, but one giant leap for Indian engineering…


The car has been designed, conceived and fabricated by the students themselves and will take part in the prestigious Formula SAE –FORMULA SOCIETY OF AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERS.

Competition to be held in Italy from 20th to 22nd of September. 200 universities from world over will participate in this international competition. The event will be held at the Ferrari Fiorano Racetrack in Italy. This is the only Indian and the only Asian team to take part in the Italy event.

Dr. Pabla, Director M.I.T- "Couple of years back, the team had approached us with the idea for designing and manufacturing of this race car. At first we were a little skeptical and apprehensive whether this is possible at Manipal. But I am glad that the students have erased all doubts from our mind and will do themselves, Manipal University and more importantly the country proud at Italy".

It was a jam-packed event with the audience comprising of students and faculty members from Manipal Institute of Technology and including prominent dignitaries, the audience were astonished that their college mates could pull off such a massive project, and went berserk once the car was started.

Team members:

1. Kausik Mani
2. Shelav Jain
3. Vineet Jain
4. Siddhartha Jain
5. Arjun Samara Divakera
6. Ankit Kumar Banka
7. Srikanth Toppaladodi
8. Ratnesh Kumar
9. Aditya Raghunandan
10. Sagnik Niyogi
11. Rachit Mathur
12. Nishant Jain
13. Eklavya Singh
14. Aayush Gupta
15. Dhawal Bavishi
Driver Name – Ankit Banka

Narayana Karvi inducted as president of Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy

The newly appointed president of Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy Mr. Narayana Karvi(60) took over the charge during the function held today 4th of September 2008 at 5 p.m at the Konkani Sahitya Academy office premises.

Mr Kharvi was welcomed by the outgoing president of the academy Mr. Eric Ozario to the office premises when he arrived in a procession led by Mangalore's own well known Harry's Century Band. All the guests were honoured with floral bouquets.

Mr.Shiva Rudrappa registrar of Karnataka Sahitya Academy, introduced Mr. Narayana Karvi to the gathering. In his introductory speech, Mr Rudrappa explained Narayana Karvi's contribution to the growth of Konkani and thanked Mr. Eric Ozario former president of Konkani Sahitya Academy, for his sincere commitment and dedication towards the academy during his tenure.

Mr. Ozario speaking on the occasion lauded the contribution of Mr Karvi to Konkani folklore and relentlessly working towards preserving the culture among the Karvi community. "The appointment of Mr Karvi as the president has erased the Brahamanism(caste based domination) in the administration of the academy which has been headed in the past mostly by GSB or Konkani Catholics. Mr Karvis appointment is victory for the Karvi(fisherman) Community," he said. Mr Ozario also thanked everyone who have supported the organization and media for giving it a wide coverage during his tenure. He also suggested that all Konkani speaking communities be given an opportunity to lead the academy.

Dr. Edward Nazreth, Mr. Roy Castelino, Mr. Louis Pinto (President of Mandd Sobhann), Mr. Venugopal (President of Tulu Sahitya Academy) congratulated Mr. Karvi with floral bouquets and garlands. Speaking on the occasion Dr. Edward expressed his happiness over the appointment of Mr Karvi and assured his support to him.

Mr Roy Castelino speaking on the occasion said that Eric Ozario has made Konkani community proud through his commitment to the cause of language and culture. Mr Ozario believed in bringing Konkani to a stage where it is today considered as one of the optional languages in schools in the state. Mr Castelino said Karvi is a considerate and compassionate person who has tirelessly worked towards preserving Karvi Konkani culture through his immense contribution and expressed his confidence over his support in making Konkani as a compulsory language.

The President of Tulu Sahitya Academy Mr. Venugopal termed Mr Karvi a humble and a capable man. He thanked all past presidents of the academy for their support towards Tulu Sahitya Academy. "We have been organizing many events with the support from Konkani Sahitya Academy and we will continue to work together for the growth of our languages," said Mr. Venugopal assuring his support to the new president.

The president of Mandd Sobhann Mr. Louis Pinto too speaking on the occasion expressed his confidence over the new president. He recalled that when he requested Mr Ozario to continue as the president for another term, he said that he believed in Mr Karvi who was a capable person to take over the mantle and lift the Konkani flag high. "We should give equal opportunity to every Konkani speaking community," he had said.

Mr. Eric Ozario formally handed over the charges of Academy to Karvi. Mr Karvi thanked Eric for his support and encouragement in taking over the charges. "If I am taking this charge of the academy, it is due to Eric who questioned the Government why a person from minority community couldn't come to power. Hopes and dreams are like clouds, some will disappear while some bring rain," he said. "I have been given a great responsibility and I request everyone to continue supporting the academy towards its growth," he said promising to work for Konkani and its growth. He also called upon more children to come forward to take up Konkani as an optional language. Mr Karvi thanked Mr. Krishana Palemar, Raghupathi Bhat, Lalaji Mendan, Mr. Ronald Colaco and others for their support.

Mr. Eric Ozario took Mr. Karvi to his new office and handed over the President's chair to Mr. Karvi. Mr. Felix D'Souza who had arrived from Mumbai to attend the programme, on behalf of the Konkani community of Mumbai congratulated Mr. Karvi. Mnsgr. Alexnder D'Souza, Former President of Konkani Sahitya Academy was also present on the occasion. Mr. Stany Alvares compeered the entire programme.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mallya bullish on aviation industry growth prospects

UB Group Chairman Vijay Mallya said on Tuesday that he was bullish about the growth prospects of the Indian aviation industry.

Speaking at the launch of the non-stop flight service from Bangalore to London, he pointed out that several airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Lufthansa, have been seeking permission to increase frequency of flights to the country.

He noted that Indian Airlines represented just 30 per cent of all internationalflights, and there was ample opportunity to grow.

Mallya also gave a thumbsup to the much-maligned Bangalore International Airport.

‘’The roads to the airport are quite impressive. It takes me only 45 minutes from the heart of the city to the airport,’’ he added.

However, he noted that the airport could have been slightly larger.

The UB Chairman also urged the State government to lower its sales tax on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF). He said: ‘’Th e lowering of sales tax will stimulate air traffic growth to BIAL. The government will make up the lost revenue through increased sales.’’ On User Development Fee(UDF),Mallya said that he was opposed to any move whereby airlines will charge customers UDF on behalf of the airport. Mallya announced that Kingfisher Airlines will launch its non-stop flight from Bangalore to London from Wednesday. The first flight has already been booked to nearly 70 per cent capacity, he said.

The UB Chairman also announced that future plans include the launch of Bangalore- San Francisco, Bombay- Singapore and Bombay-Dubai flights.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

50 Year Old Video Footage of Tirupati Venkateswara Balaji

Indians For McCain holds Independence Day barbeque

Washington: 'Indians For McCain' (IFM), a group of Indo-Indians that campaigns for American presidential candidate John McCain, held a barbeque for its supporters in honor of India's 61st Independence Day. The event was hosted by IFM co-founder Sudhakar Shenoy at his home in Great Falls, VA. "Most of our community is still undecided and we have a great opportunity to win votes and affect the outcome of this election," Shenoy said.

Fiscal-conservative leader Grover Norquist was a special guest of the event. Norquist urged IFM to spread its message and reach nationwide. "Indian voters, largely entrepreneurial in spirit, will respond to this message of fiscal restraint, small business promotion, and lower taxes," he said.


Special Indians For McCain bumper stickers were distributed at the event and sent to IFM's chapters nationwide in advance of Independence Day. Those wishing to obtain a bumper sticker should contact IFM National Director Kishan Putta.

The attendees were also treated to viewing a special video message from John McCain to the Indian-American community on the occasion of Independence Day.

Virtual hand gets under the skin

These new amazingly realistic animations of the human hand go way beyond the demands of Hollywood (see video, right). They are detailed enough to shed light on the mystery of how the tendons and muscles of the human hand interact when we move, and should help surgeons reconstruct damaged hands more effectively.

Computer animators are adept at making characters that move realistically, largely thanks to advances in motion capture technology that records the way people move.

But even the best motion capture only records the movement of the body's surface. That's fine for a movie, but surgeons are less superficial. They are interested in the movement of muscles and tendons beneath the skin.

Now hand animations that go below the surface (see video, right), have been made, by Shinjiro Sueda, Andrew Kaufman and Dinesh Pai at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Moving muscle

They used anatomical data from medical images to model the 17 bones and 54 tendons and muscles of the hand and forearm.

The team's software can coordinate the contraction and relaxation of muscles, and the way forces are transmitted by tendons to produce any desired hand gesture.

"Motion capture is data driven – you just capture the data and play it back," says Sueda. "Our approach is a simulation in which the starting point is the physics of muscle and tendon movement."

Sueda's team also clothed their virtual muscles and tendons in a layer of skin. Just like real skin its shape depends on the anatomy beneath it.

Helping hand

"The parameters to control the deformation of the skin aren't biomechanical – it's just cosmetic," says Sueda. But because the underlying controlled muscles and tendons are accurately placed, the result is a hand animation that is highly realistic.

When Sueda's team took screen grabs of their animated hands and compared them to photographs of real hands in the same position, the two sets of images match closely.

The model should be a boon to surgeons, says Sueda. "The network of muscles and tendons in the hand is very complicated," he adds. "Even now people don't know how it actually works in detail."

Although the anatomy of the hand was worked out long ago from dissections, the interplay of all the components when in motion has largely remained a mystery. For this reason, the results of hand surgery can be unpredictable.

Adding realism

When a tendon is damaged, the muscle it's attached to no longer functions properly. Surgeons try to restore movement by taking a nearby tendon and re-routing it along the path of the damaged one. But predicting the results of that is difficult.

"Using our technique, you can show what effect rerouting a tendon would have on the hand before you actually do the surgery," says Sueda.

The new technology has also been built as a plug-in for existing graphics software to allow animators to quickly and easily add more realism to their hand animations.

The new hand animation models will be presented at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference in Los Angeles on 15 August 2008.

Movie file can be downloaded here:

http://www.cs.ubc.ca/labs/sensorimotor/projects/hands_sig08/

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Event planned to attract IT industry to north Kerala

Calicut IT Initiative (CITI), an organisation formed to promote Kozhikode as a major information technology destination in north Kerala, will hold a meet Aug 30 to showcase the human resource available in the region for the IT industry.

The Information Technology-Human Resource summit is being organised with the help of the IT mission of the Kerala government and Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies).

According to Nityanand Kamath, CITI president, around 2,000 students from colleges in the region are expected to take part.

‘We expect participation of around 25 companies at the summit. The human resource managers and their infrastructure managers are also expected to take part,’ K. Purushothaman, regional director of Nasscom, said at a press conference here Monday.

‘The event will provide human resource managers with an opportunity to assess the manpower available in the region. They will test the software and soft skills of the students here,’ said Saji Gopinath, member faculty at the Indian Institute of Management-Kozhikode and an office bearer of CITI.

The CITI officials pointed out that a large chunk of the around 10,000 students graduating from the region are girls who are not willing to relocate outside the region. ‘This will provide IT companies a loyal workforce with low level of attrition,’ they said.

Manipal Cure and Care Center launch at Sarjapur in Bangalore

Manipal Cure and Care (MCC) has launched their second center in Bangalore at Total Mall in Sarjapur.

The center was inaugurated by Chief Guest, Minister for Medical Education, Ramachandra Gowda along with Dr. Ramdas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Education and Medical Group, Dr.Ranjan R Pai, CEO Manipal Education and Medical Group and Somnath Das, COO, Manipal Cure and Care.

The MCC Sarjapur Center will introduce one new service ‘Back2Fitness’ (B2F) for the first time in India.

B2F is end-to-end musculo-skeletal, sports and exercise medicine clinic offering evidence-based treatment to help patients cope with back, shoulder, knee and other musculo-skeletal problems.

For corporates, B2F will offer the services of professional Ergonomists and a host of services including ‘Evaluate onsite job skills and work environment’, ‘Job skills design advice’, ‘Workstation design advice’, ‘Employee education on body mechanics and injury prevention’, ‘Posture correction exercises’ and ‘Follow-up clinics’

B2F also has specialised analytical and remedial programs for amateur and professional athletes. B2F can help with ‘Performance Enhancement’ program which includes ‘Video gait analysis’, ‘Specific musculo-skeletal assessment’ and ‘Daily conditioning and endurance programs’.

B2F is headed by Dr. Rajat Chauhan, (MBBS, MSc Sports and Exercise Medicine, MLCOM Osteopathic Medicine)

Ramachandra Gowda, Minister for Medical Education, said, “The work being done by the Manipal Education and Medical Group is commendable. They have been at the forefront of providing international level medical education and medical services to the society and that too at affordable rates. I wish them all the very best in all their future endeavours and hope that they continue the good work and more importantly guard the quality of services they provide.”

“I also congratulate Manipal Cure and Care for this revolutionising concept of Preventive Healthcare, Wellness & Beauty, under one roof, which is the need of the hour. This innovative concept will go a long way to keep our citizens healthy and hearty,” Gowda added.

Dr. Ramdas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Education and Medical Group, said, “Prevention is better than Cure, is an old adage we very often repeat but rarely follow. MEMG and MCC are both committed towards strengthening the roots of preventive medicine in India. Our vision is to revolutionize healthcare delivery in India by providing preventive monitoring with a focus on wellness. Through Manipal Cure and Care centres, we will educate people to be proactive towards health issues and strive to make every Indian a healthy citizen.”

Somnath Das, Chief Operating Officer, Manipal Cure and Care said, “We take the business of Preventive Medicine very seriously and will keep introducing newer products and services that will help Indian citizens understand and take advantages of its benefits and that too at affordable costs. Our critical differentiator is that the fact that all our centers offers services and counselling by well-trained doctor and paramedical staff, protocols and processes in line with international best practices and an in-store experience that is highly personalised for each customer.”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Uber Cool CEO

Left: Dr Ranjan Pai and his wife with their favourite pugs

At the helm of one of the largest and successful healthcare organisations— Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), Dr Ranjan Pai (35) is considered to be one of the youngest and ambitious growth engines fuelling the Indian healthcare industry. One may assume that it was easy to establish himself with his father Dr Ramdas Pai being the Chairman of the Manipal Group. But, he begs to differ. "Initially, which was almost three to four years ago, it was quite a challenge, as people considered me just as a kid. So, trying to gain a foothold was difficult. But over the years, one gain respects as one takes people into confidence and shows them respect. And it is, of course, a fact that I'm quite young, so I don't mind asking my seniors if I don't understand certain things. Also, I tend to avoid ego-hassles." And the circle that he also looks forward to getting advice and mentoring are his father Dr Ramdas Pai, Mohandas Pai, Director and Head of HR of INFOSYS and KV Kamath, MD and CEO, ICICI.

Another aspect to his leadership style is his unfazed nature. "I don't think I would call myself as a tough task-master. I'm definitely sensitive to people issues, but that does not mean my decisions are ruled by the heart. I make quick decisions, I may be wrong, but I'll never be in doubt."

Dr Pai went to the US to do his hospital administration (Wisconsin) after doing his MBBS from Manipal. He then worked in a Children's Hospital and a health insurance company before joining the Manipal Group. He joined his father's group at the age of 28 in the year 2000. "I was in charge of setting up the group's activities in Malaysia (set up a Medical College there). I lived there for five years and then returned to Bangalore in 2005," he shares.

The young leader has been responsible for the restructuring of the entire group and also in charting out strategic direction for the group. "I have also been responsible for inducting high quality talent from diverse backgrounds into the group which has led to our success," he says.

Leaving aside his big business plans, and shifting focus on his weekend activities, Dr Pai prefers to spend time with his wife Shruti (28) and his two pugs. Whilst pugs are considered quite cute, these dogs are known to entertain and give his guests quite a hearty laugh as their names are Gabbar and Mogambo! The fact that he has named his dogs behind such iconic villainous characters, one understands the subtle humorous side of Dr Pai.

His wife is an entrepreneur in her own right as she runs a spa and wellness resort. In this light, is it a mere co-incidence that he is promoting the concept of preventive care through 'Manipal Cure and Care'? "Oh I don't know! Maybe you need to ask her if she has a role to play," he grins.

He feels he is yet to follow his new-year resolution— to gym and lose weight! "It's been five months that New-Year has gone by, but I'm still determined to go for a work-out. I think it's more of an excuse that I don't have time. It is very important to be fit and in-shape," he remarks.

He is also a huge fan of cricket. He has regularly participated in the local cricket tournaments. "I play as a batsman," he states. Like millions, Sachin Tendulkar is his favorite. He also likes Anil Kumble. So, what is it that he admires in both? "He started off his career when he was just 16 and I have been following him right from that time. People have a tendency to write-off when they are in a bad phase of life, but I certainly believe that he is a true champion," he shares. And talking about Anil Kumble, he says, "He is a very consistent guy with a strong temperament, who never gives up and is a true gentleman." Anil Kumble also happens to be the brand ambassador for Manipal Education.

Discussing about movies, he says, "I like almost all kinds of Hindi and English movies." Catching up a movie along with his wife is his favorite time-pass. "The last movie I saw was 'Tare Zameen Par' and I thought it was fabulous," he says. He normally likes contemporary cinema like 'Dil Chahta Hai.' As far as music goes, he likes the era of 80s— be it the Eagles or Police and also popular Hindi music. "I don't particularly follow any particular Hindi song. Any current flavour of the season will do," he shares.

Dr Pai is not much into the world of books. "Unfortunately, I don't really like reading books. I read a lot of magazines and newspapers and keep myself abreast of the latest trends— be it business or politics."

When asked to answer 'the mixed-bag' questions, he laughs, "Feels like I'm in Kofee with Karan!"

The Mixed Bag

Your best prize in life so far
My wife

Your first day in school
Oh, it was quite traumatic! I just remember crying in the local nursery at Manipal.

Your first ambition
I always wanted to become a doctor as far as I can remember.

Your first day at work
It was interesting. I had joined a paediatric Hospital in the US in the year 1997.

The first time you fired somebody
It was in the year 2000. I really felt very bad about it. I had a long chat with him and took this decision. I remember I was quite sensitive to his needs.

The toughest decision you have taken
I do not think that there has been such a moment in my life. Life has been pretty good to me.

The best memory of your childhood
Going for vacations with my parents and sisters. The time I spent with my father Dr Ramdas Pai is truly special.

Your happiest moment
The college days at Manipal Medical College. Once in a while, I meet my college friends and we remember the good old days.

Three things I cannot do without
My blackberry and laptop. That's it. Just two!

One trait you would like to change about yourself
The fact that I'm quite shy.

One parental advice that you remember
My parents gave a lot of advice, but particularly the one I remember was humility— always have your feet firm on the ground. The credit more so goes to my mother, as my father kept busy. She was quite a disciplinarian and never gave us everything that we asked for. We were taught to prove our mettle and also the fact that we were brought up in a small town like Manipal assured us that we were kept away from the whims and fancies of the ultra glam world. So, we as a family led a very simple life.
I also remember the advice, no smoking and no drugs, which luckily I followed.

Your first vehicle
It was Maruti-800 in the year 1990. I must have been 20. My father got it for me and being the 90s, I don't think there were many choices as well.


India Plethico Pharma eyes buys in US, Brazil

India's Plethico Pharmaceuticals Ltd (PLPH.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) plans to buy one company each in the U.S and Brazil in the next couple of years, spending a total $150 million, a top official said on Wednesday.

Plethico plans to bid for a nutraceutical firm in the United States, and has also signed a preliminary confidentiality agreement with another nutraceutical firm there, Sanjay Pai said, adding the aim is to strike one deal for $80-$100 million.

"There are so many good deals coming our way in the U.S. right now in the nutraceuticals space," Pai said. "People have started approaching us for acquisitions after Natrol."

Last year, Plethcio acquired U.S.-based branded nutritional products maker Natrol Inc for about $81 million.

Nutraceuticals are food extracts used as dietary supplements.

In Brazil, Plethcio is in talks with two companies, one a herbal products maker and the other a maker of allopathic and over-the-counter products, Pai said. One of these firms could be acquired for about $50 million, he added.

"Brazil is a great market. It offers great volume and decent margins," he said, adding the market offered 15-20 percent earnings before interest and tax margins.

"We have been looking for acquisitions in U.S., Brazil and UK. Somehow, there have been no juicy deals forthcoming in UK so far."

The company was in a strong position to raise funds through debt and various options, he said, adding that would be decided when a deal was sewn up.

"Over the next 1- to 1-½ years there will be a lot of inorganic activities happening in the company."

Shares in the company were trading 8 percent up at 404.45 rupees in a weak Mumbai market.

Marathi chapters in Konkani textbook

It appears that the directorate of education is making a mockery of the education system by distributing textbooks with horrendous errors.

While on one hand the government is promoting Konkani, which is the official language of Goa, on the other hand Marathi chapters are incorporated in the Konkani textbook of standard VII.

Several schools have complained of receiving V standard textbooks with several index pages, while the first two chapters are missing and the third is incomplete. Furthermore, from page 66, eighteen pages of Marathi text are repeated.

The parents are dismayed over the irresponsible behavior of the education department and have demanding action against the responsible persons.

Meanwhile, institutional heads, parents and teachers have expressed concern over the delay in getting the textbooks, especially of standard V and VIII.

Heads of institutions also informed that they have not received the required textbooks even though the requirement was made known way back in March.

The entire set of textbooks have not been given for VI and VIII standards while some school have only received the Mathematics and Hindi textbooks that too in parts.

One institutional head said that the syllabus has been changed but no refresher courses for the teachers have been conducted.

He said further that teachers are unable teach as they are not sure what to expect in the new books. Presently teachers are only revising grammar.

Some teachers said the non-availability of textbooks is causing great inconvenience, as they have to finish the portion for the first mid-term exam, which is scheduled for August 6.

One teacher said that though it appears that the schools have just begun, we barely have one month to complete the portion and added the students require the textbooks especially in languages.

The teacher expressed concern about the students of standard V who have changed over from Konkani medium to English medium.

“The longer it takes to get the books the more difficult it will be for them to cope with the portion,” she noted.

On the other hand, the parents too have expressed their concern over the delay in getting the textbooks.

Ms H D’souza, a parent expressing concern said that though providing textbooks is a novel idea, they should be provided before the school starts and asked how the students are suppose to study without the textbooks.

“You cannot blame the teachers for starting the portion. How long are they supposed to wait for the textbooks? If they do not teach then what else will they do in class? At the end of it all it is the student who has to suffer.”

PG courses in School of Konkani studies

School of Konkani Studies, a new venture in education, research, translation theory and practice of Konkani, is offering MA, M.Phil & Ph.D in Konkani themes and issues, comparative literature and cultural communication and translation.

According to a press release, the school provides a place and opportunity for all who want to make contributions to Konkani beyond religion, caste, region and script; beyond Konkani as commercial and fiesta opportunity and cheap market success; beyond Konkani in Kannada script as a vehicle for self and group/identity propaganda. It has an erudite team of Konkani experts with postgraduate and doctoral to guide the venture from Goa, Karnataka and Maharastra and is directed by scholar Dr William Robert Da Silva.

The first meeting of deliberations of the school was held on June 22 from 4 to 7 pm at ‘Providence’ (I Floor), A R D’Souza Lane, Bendorewell, Mangalore.

Individual physician ratings pose daunting challenges

Michigan, U.S.A:

Hospital and health system report cards by now are fairly common ways for consumers to gauge quality indicators, but not so for assessing physicians.

"Individual physician report cards are being discussed," said Dr. Bala Pai, senior associate medical director at Health Alliance Plan.

"We are planning on it, but don't have a date certain," Pai said, noting that there would have to be a universal coding and billing database that compared all processes the same. "And then, if you drill down to physician level, you have volume differences and patient demographic differences ... Reporting would be difficult. We are very cautious," he said.

The Massachusetts Medical Society filed a lawsuit in May to halt such an evaluation process in that state, saying the methodology is flawed and has defrauded patients.

The Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission, the agency that oversees health insurance for thousands of public employees there, implemented a report card two years ago and has been haggling with the MMS ever since.

A large part of the issue is that doctors who see sicker patients are more likely to be ranked lower on the scale, because of worse outcomes.

In addition, the system is so cumbersome, the MMS said, that incorrect treatment information had been included in the database as well.

Tennessee Blue Cross Blue Shield halted it's own program earlier this year for those same problems.

HAP introduced a ranking on quality of health systems three years ago, Pai said, and that was the result of several years of collaboration and working with the systems for feedback and advice.

That collaborative effort got the various players to buy into the idea, and built trust that a fair system is in place, he said.

"Once we put out the public report, we had callbacks from physicians and (health) leaders saying, 'I want to be better than X, so what can we do to get a better rating?' So this was a healthy competition built in without animosity," Pai said.

A next step could be individual physician report cards, Pai said, but there are so many variables that it has to be done properly or risk a backlash more problems.

The Michigan State Medical Society has released a set of guidelines in the event that any agency or organization attempts to compile that data.

Grand Rapids-based health plan Priority Health started a rating program for its provider doctors three years ago, and will not rate a physician if he or she does not see enough Priority patients.

The health plan has a set of criteria that considers preventive practices, disease management, health screening, immunizations and patient satisfaction, said spokeswoman Juanita Smith.

Some scores are based not on the individual doctor's patients, but on the patients of all doctors who practice together.

The system formulates a percentage and assigns from one to four apples.

The first year, 12 physicians were in the top, the second year, 30 were in the top and last year 59 doctors earned four apples.

Priority has a feedback system for the physicians to discuss guidelines and how to attain higher rankings, Smith said.

"I do believe that physicians respond to measurement, we are competitive, we value the care we give our patients, we all ask 'how am I doing?'" said Dr. Greg Forzley, chairman of the board of the Michigan State Medical Society and medical director informatics at St. Mary's Health Care in Grand Rapids.

Forzley helped develop the Priority concept in its early stages and he calls it a fairly good system, but it only deals with the Priority population.

"The challenge has been some of the measures are very narrowly defined and don't cover the entire patient base," Forzley said. "It would be best to find how the patients are doing overall."

He also noted that processes and outcomes will be different in different geographical areas and might vary greatly between an urban community and an affluent suburban community. Those differences are hard to reconcile, Forzley said.

The Michigan Department of Community Health compiles information about disciplinary action and factual data about the health industry, but "We don't have a ranking for individual doctors," spokesman James McCurtis said. "For the state to get involved would put us in a lot of liability issues.

With more than 39,000 physicians in the state, compiling a comprehensive list would be cumbersome and fraught with problems, McCurtis said.

"For one it would be biased and would do a disservice to the profession and it wouldn't do anything but create tension," he said.


Konkani singing contest on TV

Mandd Sobhann will be organising a Konkani singing competition on TV called ‘Soad-2,’ a search for sweet voices, for men and women above 15 years of age.

The winners, one male and one female shall receive the titles ‘Rai Kogull’ and ‘Rani Kogull’ respectively along with Rs 25,000 in cash. Besides, an opportunity to sing for recordings and shows, free specialised training in singing for 1 year, and other prizes in kind.

Apart from the above, the ‘Top-10’ will get Rs 5,000 each, opportunity to perform in a live show, VCD recording and other prizes in kind. The recording of the preliminary round will be held on June 29 at 9.30 am at Kalangann in Shaktinagar. For registration, interested may contact 0824-2232239/ 2230489 before June 28. There is no entry fee. The programme will be telecast on Namma TV every Sunday from 11 am to 12 noon from July 15 onwards

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Vishwa Konkani centre getting ready


Mangalore city is known as the world seat of Konkani culture. All large scale programmes that relates to development of Konkani language, culture, music, art and society happens in Mangalore. The first Vishwa Konkani Sammelan in 1995 was also held in Mangalore which kicked off a major Konkani world movement.

But now Mangalore is set to become the true Konkani seat of art, music, culture and language with the Vishwa Konkani Centre is coming up fast in the this small village near Shaktinagar. The Vishwa Konkani centre which is the brain child of Vishwa Konkani Sardar Basti Vaman Shenoy who became the true leader of Konkani people for the cause of Konkani language after he organized the Vishwa Konkani Convention in Mangalore. He is now meticulously following up every detail of building the Vishwa Konkani Centre.

Set in idyllic surroundings of a true Konkani village much to the likes of small hamlets of Goa in Concolim, Salcete and Betim the Centre is just a few weeks away from inauguration.



Fashion designer trains gun on encounter specialist

Heena Kalbag alleges she was attacked by Pradeep Sharma’s men in Jogeshwari

A fashion designer has alleged that encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma is involved in the incident in which she was attacked by two unidentified men at Jogeshwari on June 7.

According to the police, complainant Heena Chaitanya Kalbag, was driving towards her residence when two men on a motorcycle came towards her car and broke its window shield. They could not be identified as they were wearing helmets.

Assistant commissioner of police (DN Nagar division) Pradeep Suryavanshi said, “The security guard at Kalbag’s shop in Jogeshwari had informed her that an unknown person was visiting the shop and making inquiries about her for the past four days. She was allegedly attacked as she was returning after registering a complaint against the unknown person at Oshiwara police station. She suspects that the men who attacked her belonged to Pradeep Sharma and Ajmera of JJ Constructions.”

Although a case has been registered registered against the attackers, the First Information Report (FIR) does not mention Sharma’s name in it, said Suryavanshi.

According to the Mumbai police crime branch, in 2006, Kalbag had filed a complaint against Ajmera for cheating, extortion and land grabbing with the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC). In that year, the builder had sold three commercial plots in their Shreeji Dham Society building in Andheri to Kalbag for Rs1.50 crore. The crime branch had then claimed that Ajmera along with his associate Bacchi Singh had threatened Kalbag to evacuate the plots. The police had arrested Ajmera and Singh.

The AEC has stated that Sharma and senior police inspector Ajendra Thakur of DN Nagar police station, where Kalbag had registered her complaint, had gone with her and played the part of mediators between the builder and Kalbag. Sharma could not be contacted for his comments.

email through SMS service launched in India

yDuniya Networks has announced the launch of a service which will allow mobile users to send emails, save and retrieve personal information and share contact details just by sending an SMS and without having access to the Internet.

Currently available for Airtel subscribers in Karnataka, the service will be expanded nationally and to other telecom operators soon, the Bangalore-based startup founder and chairman Jagdish Kini said.

The SMS-based application also supports interactive group messaging and allows files to be sent to email addresses. Commonly-used files such as brochures can be stored on the company’s server and data up to one megabyte can be sent to email addresses using the SMS shortcode 53695.

“There is a digital divide between mobile users and web users. This service is a way to bridge this divide,” Kini said.

MyDuniya also has a platform for enterprises and web portals to allow access to customers through the mobile phone. The company says the platform supports two-way interactions and can be leveraged to provide personalised information.

“The goal of the service is consumer convenience and the mobile market is our biggest market. We have launched our initial service on the SMS platform considering that SMS is the most widely used non-voice service” CEO Ganapathy Subramanian said.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mallya plans single brand, to shelve Air Deccan

What will be the fate of India's first low-cost carrier Deccan (erstwhile Air Deccan)? UB's think tanks are now strongly considering operating under one brand, Kingfisher Airlines and doing away with the low-cost Deccan model altogether.

This idea was mooted by one of the agencies that have been hired to look at the integration of the two brands. "There is a strong attempt to bring Deccan under the Kingfisher brand name. That way, international operations — which has been Vijay Mallya's focus from the word go — will be smooth-sailing," said company sources. Mallya's UB took over Deccan last year from its original promoter Capt G R Gopinath. An airline can fly international routes only after completing five years of operation, and Deccan becomes eligible for that this year. But Mallya would like to use the Kingfisher brand for these routes, which regulators may find easier to agree on if the Deccan name is changed to Kingfisher.

Previously, there was a move to rebrand Deccan, but retain the low-cost model. In the past two months there have been numerous probables of what would be the new name to replace Deccan — King Lite, King Easy, Deccan King and Kingfisher Express. The model then would have been to use the low cost carrier on short haul routes and the premium service on the other routes.

"The decision to kill the Deccan brand altogether, which is extremely strong in smaller cities, is a tough call, as people in these cities relate flying to Air Deccan," said an aviation analyst.

But low cost as model itself seems to increasingly be an unviable option with the increase in fuel prices. In the US, several low-cost airlines like ATA, Aloha and Skybus have shut operations in recent months.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Promotions in Corp Bank

The city-based Corporation Bank has promoted nine assistant general managers as deputy general managers.

Those promoted include R Sudarshana Raju, K S Kalyana Sundaram, Swathi S M, M Gokuldas Kamath, M Narayana Bhat, M Gopalakrishna Bhandarkar, Ajit Parkash Malhotra, Vasanth Kini U, and P Paramasivam, according to a press release from A. Mohan Rao, General Manager of the bank.

Raju joined the bank in 1976 as an officer.

He was working at retail hub – Bangalore prior to his elevation.

Sundaram joined in 1976 as an officer. He was with the collection and payment services division at head office.

Swathi joined in 1980 as an agricultural field officer and was heading the Connaught Circus branch in New Delhi. Kamath joined in 1973 as a clerk and was at the zonal office in Bhopal.

Bhat joined in 1973 as clerk and was at zonal office, Vijayawada. Bhandarkar joined in 1973 as a clerk and was working at Nariman Point branch in Mumbai. Malhotra joined in 1981 as an officer and was working in the information technology division at the corporate office.

Kini joined in 1978 as an officer.

He was with the credit division. Paramasivam joined in 1985 as a chartered accountant.

Ten cubs born in 14 days at Pench reserve

After a recent wild tigers’ audit raised fears that the animal, one of India’s national symbols, could disappear from the country, Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) in Madhya Pradesh’s Seoni district has a reason to celebrate, as it has been blessed with 10 cubs within a fortnight.

The encroachment of humans on tiger habitats and increased man-animal conflict has been a key factor in the big cat’s decline, and the PTR authorities say they would keep no stone unturned to protect the cubs. "We are stepping up special vigil day in, day out to ensure cubs’ safety," PTR deputy director P P Pai said, adding, "We have installed extra trap cameras at different locations in the Park to monitor cubs’ movements." He said this would help the authorities to track their movements 24X7 and protect them from potential dangers.

Pai said this was for the first time the Reserve had been blessed with 10 tiger cubs in a span of a fortnight. "With this, tiger population in the Park has gone upto 61," he said, adding, "Now the Reserve has 39 adult big cats and 22 cubs aged between 15-days to two-years." Pai said the cubs are fit and doing well under the care of their mothers. "A tigress gave birth to four cubs, while two others littered three each," he said.

The tiger census shocked the nation as it revealed that the country has just 1411 tigers left in the wild, a decline of 60% in a decade. Poaching and the loss of tiger habitats have been blamed for the slump.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Uttam to represent India in Olympiad

Uttam Bhat, a students of 'II-JEE training' at the MICE, has been selected to represent India in the International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA)-2008, to be held at Bandung, Indonesia, from August 19 to 28.

A team of five students will represent India and around 35 countries are expected to participate in the Olympiad. The programme is financially supported by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

Uttam was one among the 50 students selected from the country in the second stage of India National Astronomy Olympiad held in January 2008. He was selected in the three week' bOrientation -cum-selection camp’ held at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mumbai recently.

Uttam is the son of Dr Gopalakrishna Bhat and Vinatha Bhat from Manipal. He is a student of the Poorna Prajna Pre-University College. The students are given training in Astrophysics by a set of professors from IITB, HBCSE, TIFR, etc, and are given a series of tests during the camp. Bases on their performance in the tests, a team of 5 students (12th standard adn below) are selected to represent India in the IOAA.

Mirchi launches campaign for World Environment Day

Radio Mirchi announces its 'Going Green' campaign to mark the World Environment Day on June 5, 2008

The initiative is aimed at spreading awareness about the effects of global warming and encouraging people to realize the importance of Going Green. Radio Mirchi RJ's will urge the listeners to express their gratitude to Mother Nature and will give them a unique opportunity to get started in its own simple yet significant Mirchi style. Listeners can avail a chance to win bottled plants for their homes and offices by calling up the Radio Mirchi station. Additionally, Radio Mirchi will salute and acknowledge all the corporates who have taken a step forward to make a difference to the environment and have set precedence for others to follow.

Radio Mirchi cluster head Srinivasa Shenoy says, "Radio Mirchi being a responsible Radio station has always been a step forward in associating itself in finding solutions to problems prevalent in the Delhi. With 'Going Green', we want to make our planet healthy, clean and a pollution free place to live in. We are confident that the responsible citizens of our country will appreciate our effort and will extend their support to make it a successful initiative."

Krishna Naik on song

BANGALORE: Krishna M. Naik of Dazzler Aquatic Club continued his winning spree in the State diving championship when he claimed the title in three metre spring board event at the Jayanagar Pool here on Tuesday.

He logged 365.10 points, beating his team-mate Elanchezhian by a margin of 132 points.

Earlier on Monday, Naik had won the one metre spring board event.

G. Vybhav also of DAC and Sachin V. Tendulkar of Sea World AC bagged the Group II and Group III titles respectively.

The results:

Boys: Group I: 1.Krishna M. Naik ( DAC); 2. Elanchezhiahn (DAC); 3. A.G. Pavan (DAC) 365.10 pts.

Group II: 1. G. Vybhav (DAC); 2. Ananth Nadig (DAC); 3. Anitrudh (Sea World AC) 266.15 pts.

Group III: 1.Sachin V. Tendulkar (Sea World AC); 2. R.M. Sandeep (DAC); 3. Vishal (Sea World AC) 238 pts.

Girls: Group I: 1. Karishma Mohite (YCSC); 2. K. Divya (DAC) 306.65 pts.

Group II: 1. Nammi Divya Theja (DAC), 2. T. Shalini (DAC); 3. Naomi (DAC) 286.65 pts.

Group III: 1. Aishwarya Manjunath (DAC), 2. L. Priyanka (MDSA); 3. Sushmita Harti (Sea World AC) 191.45.

E-mail without GPRS/Internet through SMS

One can now send e-mail without GPRS/Internet through SMS. The consumer applications were launched by Bangalore-based MyDuniya Networks Private Limited, a player in "beyond voice" applications for the mobile consumers.

All that a user has to do is send an SMS to 53695 and then can send an e-mail, save and retrieve personal information, send a file to an e-mail address, share and access contact information and can participate in interactive group messaging.

Currently, these services are operational with Airtel (SMS to 53695) in Karnataka and would be expanded with national coverage shortly, the company's Founder and Chairman, Jagadish Kini, and CEO K Ganapathy Subramanian, said.

They said the company is in dialogue with other operators for integration in near future. Subscribers other than Airtel, need to send SMS to 99801-53695 to avail services.

The company said it empowers an entry level mobile user with services throgh SMS without the need for GPRS/Internet that spare the trouble of reaching out to a compter.

"MyDuniya platform brings processing power of the web and reach of the mobile to provide simple and useful applications", Kini said.

Subramanian noted that SMS is the most widely used non-voice service. "Our services are designed with consumer choice, convenience and usability as focal points", he said.

MyDuniya is also facilitating enterprises and web portals by providing them a channel to reach out to their mobile consumers. The platform supports two-way interactions and can be leveraged for a variety of customised services, it was stated.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cerawaves kicks off

Cerawaves, an art exhibition by Vasundhara Ballal was inaugurated at Dhyana Mandir in Sharada Vidyalaya on Saturday. Karnataka Bank Chief General Manager P Jayarama Bhat was the chief guest of the function. Speaking on the occasion Bhat said that the skill of an artist lies in creating a world of reality and that Vasundhara has attained it even in this early stage of her career.

Bhat appreciated the perfection in her paintings. President of Nitte Education Trust N Vinaya Hegde presided. Vasundhara Ballal along with the guests performed ‘Guruvandana’ for her guru and proprietor of Prasad Art Gallery Koti Prasad Alva.

Cerawaves is a collection of ceramic paintings, which is quite a novelty in Mangalore art circles. It is a complex process in which ceramic paste is applied on an already completed oil painting and left to dry. It is a painstaking process as each shade has to be done separately and takes a long time to dry. Ballal has been practising the genre for the last 5 years in Prasad Arts School.

Eminent surgeon and Vasundhara’s father-in-law Dr C R Ballal, husband Dr Rajesh Ballal and other members of the family were present on the occasion. The exhibition will be held in Sharada Vidyalaya till June 2 and will be shifted to Prasad Art Gallery from June 3 onwards.

Krishna Naik is champion

Bangalore: Krishna Naik of DAC won the boys group I, one metre springboard diving event with 297.15 points in the State sub-junior and junior diving championship at the P.M. Swim Centre here on Monday.

The results (winners only):

Boys:

Group I: 1m spring board: Krishna Naik (DAC), 297.15pts; Group II, 1m spring board: Ananth Nadig (DAC), 206.50; Group III, 1m spring board: Tendulkar (Sea World Aquatic Club), 196.45.

Girls: Group I, 1m spring board: Karishma Mohite (YCSC), 272.20; Group II, 1m spring board: Divya Theja (DAC), 243.25; Group III, 1m spring board: Aishwarya Manjunath (DAC), 175.75.

Induct Yogish Bhat into Cabinet: GSB leaders

The District Federation of Gowda Saraswath Brahmin Organisations has urged Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to induct Mangalore City South MLA N Yogish Bhat into the State cabinet.

Addressing a press meet here on Monday, Kumble Narasimha Prabhu, representing Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the GSB community has been totally disappointed because of the fact that Bhat was not given any ministership who is being elected to the Assembly for the fourth consecutive term. “The GSB community has rendered much service to the strengthening of BJP in the coastal districts, hence it should be given proper representation in the government,” he said. Ministership was not given to Bhat owing to certain pressures, he alleged.

GSB community leaders Basthi Vaman Shenoy, Umanath Mallya, Madhav Kamath, Ganapathi Pai among others were present in the press meet.

The Federation had planned a protest in front of the district BJP office on June 4. However, by Tuesday, the GSB leaders have decided to drop the protest dharna and are planning to take a delegation to the chief minister and the party netas to convince about their urge.

A release from the federation said the protest has been cancelled in the backdrop of the cancel of party chief D V Sadananda Gowda’s visit.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Research enables rapid HIV tests for pregnant women

New Delhi: A study has shown that pregnant women can be rapidly tested for HIV in labour wards of rural hospitals — and antiretroviral therapy (ART) can be delivered effectively to prevent transmission of the virus to their children.

The research, published in PLoS Medicine, tested the feasibility of providing round-the-clock rapid HIV testing and counselling in labour wards in resource-poor settings.

In 2007, about 2.1 million children were infected with HIV, 85–90 per cent of whom contracted the infection from their mother.

The rapid tests helped doctors quickly decide on whether to start ART as a precautionary measure, before test results came in, usually one to three days after delivery.

Research findings

Of 1,222 women admitted for delivery at a rural teaching hospital in Sevagram, western India, 15 were found to be HIV positive, 11 of whom did not previously know their status. Of those 15 women, 13 had children that tested negative for HIV.

The researchers used two different rapid tests, based on saliva and blood samples, which give results in 20 minutes.

They also carried out conventional HIV testing. If women tested positive in both the rapid tests and conventional tests, the scientists confirmed infection with a further test that detects HIV antibodies and gives results in two days.

"These findings are relevant to PMTCT [prevention of mother to child transmission] programmes in developing countries. Controlling HIV infection in women and children is crucial for changing the trajectory of the global HIV epidemic," the researchers write.

The rapid tests are awaiting approval in India. Nitika Pai, a postdoctoral fellow at the division of infectious diseases at Canada's McGill University, told SciDev.Net that it should be possible to train counsellors to run the tests and provide round-the-clock counselling at primary healthcare centres — often the first or only point of healthcare for pregnant women.

Only nine per cent of pregnant women currently receive ART, says Pai.

In many rural areas, women fear HIV testing due to social ostracisation. In addition, many women cannot access or afford antenatal care to receive preventative therapy. "The labor and delivery period is the last window of opportunity to prevent HIV transmission," says Pai.

"Without ART, the probability of transmission is 30–35 per cent; with ART it is reduced to 10–15 per cent," she says.

Monkey Thinks Robot into Action

In a dramatic display of the potential of prosthetic arms, a monkey at the University of Pittsburgh was able to use his brain to directly control a robotic arm and feed himself a marshmallow. The research, published today in the journal Nature, is the first to show that an interface that converts brain signals directly into action is sophisticated enough to perform a practical function: eating. Researchers who led the work have just begun human tests of a related technology.

"It's the first time a monkey--or a human--is directly, with their brain, controlling a real prosthetic arm," says Krishna Shenoy, a neuroscientist at Stanford University who was not involved in the research.

People who suffer from strokes or spinal cord injury, or from some neurodegenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), are often left paralyzed. But their cerebral cortices--the parts of the brain that control movement, planning, and other functions--may remain largely intact. Scientists hope to capitalize on that with the development of brain machine interfaces--devices that convert brain activity into action, such as movement of a cursor on a computer screen.

People who are completely paralyzed can now use brain machine interfaces that noninvasively measure signals recorded from the surface of the scalp, but the devices are slow and require sustained concentration to operate. To create a prosthesis that works like a real arm--the user thinks about moving his arm, and it moves--will most likely require that electrical activity be recorded directly from the brain.

That has become possible in recent years, thanks to advances in the tiny arrays of electrodes used to record neural signals. In previous research, John Donoghue and his colleagues at Brown University showed that electrodes implanted into the brain of a paralyzed man could be used to move a cursor on a computer screen and even make a simple movement with a robotic arm. But that and other research have been limited to one- or two-dimensional movements, and, other than a few cases using a mechanical arm or gripper, were performed virtually, on a screen.

In the latest research, headed by neuroscientist Andrew Schwartz at the University of Pittsburgh, the monkey was able to perform a more complicated task. "Andy has taken this one step further, to a practical device that could be of use in the real world," says John Kalaska, a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal, in Canada, who wrote a commentary accompanying the publication. "The animal can simply, through a kind of mental practice, get the robot to move toward where the [food] is, close the hand, and bring it back to the mouth and let him eat it."

To achieve the feat, two monkeys had a grid of microelectrodes implanted into the motor cortex, part of the brain that controls motor planning and execution. The animals had previously been trained to move an anthropomorphic robotic arm, with moveable joints at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist, using a joystick. To learn to control the prosthesis with their minds, the monkeys had their arms temporarily restrained as they watched a computer move the arm through the required motions--to extend the arm to the piece of food, grip it, bring it to the mouth, and release it. "They imagine themselves doing the task, like athletes do for sports," says Schwartz. "The neurons are active as they observe the movement, and then we can capture the [neural signals] and use them for our own control."

Ailments can be avoided by proper lifestyle

Speakers at a seminar on yoga therapy at Mangalore University on Tuesday said that the practice of “asanas” and pranayama will not yield the desired results unless yoga practitioners controlled their food habits.

Modern lifestyle is responsible for many ailments. They can be avoided by adhering to a proper lifestyle, they said.

K Krishna Bhat, chairman, Department of Human Consciousness and Yogic Sciences of the university, cautioned parents against allowing their children watch television programmes till late in the night. “Such children sleep late and get up late in the morning. They are prone to developing obesity,” he said.

Bhat said that consuming food while watching television is not a healthy practice. It diverts one’s attention. One should concentrate on the food while eating. Fast consumption of food, nibbling between meals and certain eating habits caused obesity.

He said that to reduce weight some persons stopped taking lunch or dinner suddenly. It was not correct. The quantity of food being consumed should be reduced gradually.

Bhat said that his department was conducting “chandrayana” course (from full moon day to new moon day) for people with obesity to reduce their weight. It is a 15-day course, involving regulation of food and doing prescribed “asanas” and pranayamas.

Subramanyam K, a student of yogic sciences of the university, said that yoga therapy will reduce problems of varicose veins.

Varicose veins refer to stagnation of blood in the vein in the lower extremities of the body. He placed details of a study conducted by the department on a group of people suffering from varicose veins and how yoga therapy helped in reducing their problem in a month.

Jayasettiaseelan, a research scholar of the department, spoke on treating rheumatoid arthritis by yoga therapy.

Udayakumara K, another research scholar of the department, spoke on management of sinusitis by yoga therapy.

K Siddappa, former Vice-Chancellor, Bangalore University, said that the practice of yoga helped growth of spiritual quotient. Yogic science is a precious treasure.

Times-sponsored speller knocked out of national spelling bee


Until one second from now, you probably couldn't spell "deuterocanonical" either.

That word - a seven syllable Latin-rooted doozie referring to Biblical books not contained in the Hebrew canon - stumped local spelling champion Keertan R. Kini, 14, on Thursday, ending his run as the Times-sponsored speller in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

Kini, of Schererville, beat many of the hundreds of spellers in the contest to enter the quarterfinals before he misspelled the word on stage. Kini, a Kahler Middle School eighth-grader, was characteristically professional about his loss Thursday. He said he was happy to advance further this year than he did in last year's national bee. But he said he will be haunted by "what-ifs."

"It's a let down. It's a little bit of a relief," he said.

"Most of all it's just something that I have to deal with."

Kini and his father planned to stay for the rest of contest, Kini said. He hoped Thursday for a victory from one of the other Indiana spellers. He said they seem like "pretty nice people."

Kini said he made some friends in two years at the bee. He might like to work for the bee later, as some bee alumni do. He learned from the bee, he said.

"It taught me a lot about how much motivation can play a role in how well you do," he said.