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Monday, April 28, 2008


A small group of data crunchers sits in Pune trying to come up with a realistic picture of what the coming monsoons will bring. On them lies the onus of readying a country whose agriculture is heavily rain-dependent.

RAIN may not be top on our minds when the sun is high in the summer sky. But in a building in Pune, a group of men and women sits obsessing over the monsoons. It’s that time of the year when the National Climate Centre at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) gets working round-the-clock to get the rain forecast right.

With the monsoon rains just a month away, the staff at the 60-year-old IMD building called Shimla Office—the name travelled with the office when it shifted from Shimla to Pune—are busy squeezing in extra hours to issue the monsoon forecast for June as well as to announce the onset date of the monsoons in India.

There is none of the paper clutter you would expect to see at a dingy weather office. There are no maps or strange equipment lying around. The Shimla Office is a swanky place where the weather data is available at the click of the mouse.

The office is abuzz with animated discussions. Some researchers are busy assessing data, while others check on the different indicators or parameters for the forecast as they gear up to ready the summary report. Accuracy being the key factor, they are making sure they get the predictions right.

“Accuracy and preciseness in both space and time” is the target Director General of Meteorology Dr Ajit Tyagi has set for the team.

That’s easier said than done though. It’s difficult to get long-range forecasts right all over the world. This year the IMD is using two different forecast models or parameters to meet the accuracy factor. While they have been using the statistical model for years to forecast the monsoon, this year they are using the dynamical model for better results.

“Our forecast last year for the country was 95 per cent but when the rain came, it recorded 105 per cent. Rainfall all over the country as a whole was in excess in June and September,’’ says Dr Madhavan Rajeevan, Director, National Climate Centre (NCC).

Associated with the IMD for over two decades now, he calls the long-range forecast a tough challenge for meteorologists. “Every minute detail has to be kept in account and every year, the aim is be as accurate as possible.”

So just how accurate have they been?

“Well, we have had our years when we have come really close to the actual figures. The year 2003 and 2005 were good. Our monthly predictions for July has improved over the years and so has our assessment for northwest India,” he says.

Dr Sivananda Pai, the other director of NCC, who too has put in more than 15 years in the department and joined the NCC for the long range forecast, tries to put it in simple words. “It is like you may know that summer is the season for chickenpox but you need to assess and anaylse when its incidence goes up and what are its indicators. Similarly, we have predictors which help us assess the rainfall,” he says.

But the process, he says, requires the staff to be very careful about the assessment of data and when they use the predictors like ocean surface temperatures or mean sea level pressure. “It’s team work and each person’s contribution is very important,” he adds.

The most important source for making any prediction, says Pai, is the data from their inhouse National Data Centre, all available in CDs now. The data at the Centre goes back to a hundred years.

“Relying on historical data we go ahead with our predictions using these models,” he adds. Apart from that the centre accesses maps from all over the world on the Internet. “Work gets divided with some staff members taking up two or three indicators or parameters and accessing the maps followed by discussion and then actual assessment,” adds Pai.

And things are hotting up in the office in the run-up to the monsoon but the workload will increase even further when the monsoon recedes from India in September. It’s then that the Department comes up with its analysis that is circulated to all the centres of the IMD as well as other organisations for comments and suggestions. With agricultural practices in the country strictly tied to the annual cycle of rainfall—the annual average rainfall of the country hovers around at 1,150 mm—the monsoon accounts for almost all the annual rain in 75 per cent of the geographical area and 78 per cent of the gross cropped area. It is this inter-annual variation of the monsoon that has been the first target of these predictions, says Pai.

The rain forecasters know they have to be as close to actual rainfall as possible since long range forecast has many social and economic impacts. “The total monsoon rainfall during the season has a statistically significant relationship with the crop yield, generation of power, irrigation schedule over the country,” says Pai. Statistical forecast models for the monsoon need to be scrutinised constantly, he adds.

‘‘The IMD also takes into account the experimental forecasts prepared by other national institutes like Indian Institute of Tropical Meterology, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation (CMMACS), Bangalore and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF),” adds Rajeevan.

Working with a staff of 12, he hopes to get more to join his team to firm up research.

So, who are the people who join the department? “Anyone with a physics, meteorology or mathematics background can join us. Then there are the institutes teaching meteorology in various parts of the country, and fresh talent needs to be absorbed in this area. There is so much research happening in the area, and fresh talent is always welcome. Coordinating with different research centres and updating ourselves is very important,” he adds.

The department is aware that people often don’t really believe in their predictions but with the IMD planning to put in place a modernisation programme, Tyagi is hoping their word on the weather will one day be the final word.

Tutor known for intelligence, love of learning

Anjale Pai, 1982-2008

Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A : Generosity, intelligence and an undying optimism are what people remember about Anjali Pai, a 25-year-old St. John's College graduate and public school tutor who died in an automobile accident March 30.

With an ever-present smile — representative of a quiet, inner confidence, friends said — Pai earned a master's degree in western philosophy at St. John's in December and also worked as a tutor in the Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, program with the Santa Fe Public Schools.

She was traveling to Plano, Texas, to visit her family while the schools were on spring break, friends said, when the fatal accident occurred in Norman, Okla.

"I actually got to see her shortly before," said Robin Shishido, a former classmate and tutor with AVID. "It was very shocking, but I was very thankful that I got to see her."

Shishido and other friends described Pai as an extremely intelligent woman whose interests ranged from science and math to music and literature. In addition to her degree from St. John's, Pai also had bachelor's degrees in biology and music from Lake Forest College in Illinois and a master's degree in music from the University of Toronto.

It was a love of learning that pushed Pai to continue her education, and she took something from every experience, friends said.

"She even talked about how her teaching experiences were about learning," said John Hall, a friend. "My last experience with her, she was really, really happier than I had ever seen her.

"She talked about how happy she was to be teaching and to be investing in the learning process in all possible ways. She was a good Johnny in that sense."

Patrick Hudson, a former classmate, remembers Pai most for the generosity she showed when he was working on a class project. He was in a counseling program and needed to interview someone of a different ethnicity.

He approached Pai, whose parents had emigrated from India, and asked if she would talk with him. "She had an incredibly intense awareness of what it was like to be ethnically different," Hudson said, "and she handled it in a mature and an intelligent fashion."

Pai went out of her way to spend hours with Hudson and voluntarily wrote a description of herself that he used in his project.

Out of their interaction, Hudson learned Pai strived so hard to succeed because of her parents' immigrant experience. "One of the things she said to me was how much she loved her parents and how grateful she was for all they had done for her," he said. "She wanted to make the most of her life, partly in gratitude to them."

For the past two years, Pai tutored students in the AVID program, and teachers and students said her vast knowledge was an invaluable asset. "She knew a lot about a variety of things, and the kids appreciated that," said Marcos Gallegos, a teacher at Capital High School.

Gallegos described an instance in which students were having a hard time with an Advanced Placement history course. "(Pai) came in and said, 'Can I borrow the book?' " Gallegos said. "She read it so she could help the kids."

And even when she didn't know an answer or students were struggling, she was never negative, students said. "I don't ever remember seeing her unhappy," said Yalithza Lopez, a student at Capital. "She always had a smile on her face."

St. John's is holding a memorial for Pai at 4 p.m. today in the Junior Commons Room of the Peterson Student Center.

Of dreams, butterflies and flowers

RUPASHRI Ashok is on cloud nine. Her first collection of poems, �Small Wonders�, was released, during the annual day function in her school the other day. �It is the beginning of a journey,� she says ecstatically.

Rupashri is a 11-year-old moving into Class Seven at the Navy Children�s School. This exuberant, free-spirited child began writing bits and pieces of poetry from a very young age.

Her literary talent stems from the fact that her family has had many gifted writers who have contributed substantially to Konkani literature.

The ardent support from her family has enabled her to put together 35 poems for this first publication.

This compilation is a testimony of two years of passionate writing and also a dedication to her late grandfather who was a famous Konkani poet.

Her works presents the author as a true lover of nature.

Her poems reflect different moods of life as well as perceptions on global norms. She is inspired even by the simple things around her.

An observer of expressions as well, her work encaptures these intricate trifles and leaves you in awe of her literary genius.

Rupashri has also had an earlier release of a computer-printed book named �Butterflies and Flowers� at the age of six.

It consisted of 20 tales and four poems, handpicked and put together by her dad from the many tales she has been telling since the tender age of three.

Rupashri has also been blogging since March,2007. Here, she pens down articles, poems, short stories, travelogue and fiction.

Her enthusiasm for writing equally matches her voracious reading habit. She also likes to indulge in collecting stamps, coins, art, craft and computer games.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

GHS girls tennis forfeits at regionals

Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A : All season, Gainesville High senior Preetika Pai battled a seriously injured right wrist while helping the girl’s tennis team to wins. Friday, a second injury halted the Hurricanes hopes of playing for a state title.

A cramp in Pai’s right leg kept her from continuing a match against Ponte Vedra Beach Nease’s Danielle Agraviador. With the team down 2-1, Gainesville had to forfeit the match, ending its season with a 4-1 loss in the 3A Regional Finals.

“I’m very, very proud of this group of girls,” said GHS coach Cathy Lewis “They came out and they toughed it out. They wanted to make a statement and I think they did.”

Pai took the court after a 6-1, 6-0 victory by the team’s No. 1 player, Tavenner Black, and losses by No. 2 Katie Olson (6-2, 6-1 to Alex Corbett) and No. 3 Allison Chasteen (6-3, 6-0 to Abby Heiar). Pai split the first two sets, 6-4, 4-6 with Agraviador before feeling a twinge in her leg at the end of the second.

During the 10-minute break before the third set, she rehydrated, ate a banana and lightly jogged. After winning the first game of the third set, the cramp forced her retire. She eventually needed to be carried off the court, unable to put weight on the leg.

“It started very gradual,” said Pai, who was on crutches, still unable to lay her foot flat on the ground, several hours after the match. “Little-by-little I could feel my calf muscle tensing up as each game went on. I tried to bounce around to keep from cramping up. I knew the match was in my hands, but I just couldn’t do it. It felt really bad to give up so easily."

With a Nease victory already decided, Melissa Sheldon, Gainesville’s No. 5, finished with a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Diana Berlin to end the day.

“Even though it ended on a sad note, I really felt like everybody tried their best,” said Black, who is joining the Gardner Webb University tennis team next season. “Preetika showed just how tough she is. We all didn’t want to give up. We tried our very best and I think that’s what really counts.”

Snapped Up

A homemaker and former professor of photography, Jyoti Pai is set to hold the first solo photo exhibition on Ladakh this week

Snow-Capped mountains, twisting rivers and winding roads—the sights of Ladakh can send people into a tizzy. But for Jyoti Pai, a former professor of photography from Mumbai, the land was a calling of sorts.

Determined to capture the tantalising scenery through her lens, she set out to Ladakh for a second time recently “to be able to show the natural beauty of places in our country”. Now based in Goa, Pai (40) is set to return to Mumbai with the first solo photography exhibition of 60 photographs of Ladakh, to be held at the P L Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academy, Prabhadevi, from April 25 to 27.

Coming from a family of photography lovers, Pai took to photography naturally. Her “expensive hobby” — as the homemaker calls her skill — nurtured the travel bug in her. And then, Ladakh beckoned.

The highest plateau in Kashmir at over 9,800 feet, Ladakh lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south. Known for its remote beauty and culture, Ladakh is sometimes called ‘Little Tibet’ for the strong Tibetan influences on its culture and lifestyle.

“The majestic mountains, enchanting lakes and valleys, lush green meadows… all these won me over the first time I visited Ladakh. Nestled cozily in the dazzling snow-capped Himalayas lies the most picturesque panorama you can imagine. A complete photographer’s delight,” she says.

A mother of two, Pai taught photography at the Nirmala Niketan College of Home Science in Mumbai for several years before shifting base to Goa. Her photography was on the backburner then, though she continued to run a photo studio.

“There have been several combined exhibitions by women of Ladakh. But this is the first time a solo exhibition is being held by a woman on this remote area of the country. She has visited it twice and shot her pictures on Xpan,” says aerial photographer Gopal Bodhe of Pai.

In an invite for the photo exhibition, senior advocate from Mumbai Adhik Shirodkar says: “Her (Jyoti) multi-faceted personality manifests itself in the breathtaking photographs in her first solo photo exhibition depicting Ladakh, where she went twice, in all her grandeur.”

Despite the challenges of the tough climb, the breathlessness and the winding roads, Pai recalls the high she felt at the Khardung La and the amazing calmness on the shore of Pangong Lake.

“I started shooting from Rohtang Pass. The idea was to tell the world through my lens that even in India there are these breathtakingly beautiful places with virgin mountains and lakes to visit,” Pai signs off.

Intel to drive channel services across APAC

Chip giant unveils extended services opportunities for resellers at the Intel Solutions Summit (ISS) in Bangkok.

Speaking at an ISS press briefing today, Steve Dallman, general manager of the Reseller Channel Organisation at Intel, said: “The channel has always done well as it has the one-to-one relationships with customers. We are coaching the channel to help them get into the services business. Being able to provide these services will mean the channel can make more money and the customers will benefit too.

“You can integrate a system, sell it to a customer and you feed your family once. With services you get a monthly fee and are able to feed your family everyday.”

Intel believes there are two main varieties of opportunity on the services side: Platform Extension Services and Hosted Tools.

“Platform Extension Services are around providing an upgrade service,” said Dallman. “We are also being to engage with partners out there who offer hosted services and then match make them to our channel partners.”

Navin Shenoy, general manager of Asia Pacific sales and marketing at Intel, said: “The channel needs to evolve and take advantage of new technology. The channel can drive services and the channel guys who just push boxes will not do well. The ones that do services on top will be the ones that do well.”

Shenoy said to gain traction in the SMB market centres around providing these firms with remote management, as many SMBs do not have sufficient internal IT resources.

“A channel partner who services those SMB customers can get in there and fix a problem before the bigger guys can even answer the phone. Channel partners are nimble enough,” added Shenoy.

Tom Rampone, general manager of the Channel Platforms Group at Intel, said the services opportunities will not be restricted to Intel’s larger channel partners.

“We are making our platforms more manageable and encouraging our customers to build services on the products. We are making the investment so smaller partners can get into the services side too,” he said.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Kingfisher Airlines unveils IPL umpire uniforms; announces ‘Fair Play Award'

Kingfisher Airlines (Kingfisher) today unveiled umpire uniforms for the ensuing season of the Indian Premiere League (IPL) in Bangalore today.

The uniform comprises a ‘smart’ red shirt with the message ‘Fly Kingfisher’ on the front and the back, black trousers and a white hat with a red hat band also carrying the “Fly Kingfisher’ message. The line also includes training shorts set in black with a red t-shirt and a cap. The uniform has been designed by the UB group’s dress designer Manovraj Khosla.

Kingfisher Airlines Chairman and CEO Vijaya Mallaya also announced a ‘Fly Kingfisher Fair Play Award’ during the matches which begin on 18 April in Bangalore.

Under the Fly Kingfisher Fair Play Award, umpires will award teams' points for fair play, respect for the laws of the game and respect to their opponents.

The ‘Fly Kingfisher Fair Play Award’ will involve a League table running over the course of the season. The winner of the award will be the team that, in the eyes of the umpires, has played fairest across the 56 matches comprising the regular League season. Each member of the winning team will be presented with a glittering precious trophy.

“We wanted to do something different from the conventional Man of the match, hence the innovation in which the umpires will be involved,” explained Mallaya during the press conference.

After each match, the two officiating umpires and the third umpire will reward award points to the competing teams based on the following criteria:

Up to 4 points - awarded per team that in the opinion of the umpires according to how the team upheld the spirit of the game during the match;

2 / 1 / 0 points * - awarded to one or both team/s - if in the opinion of the umpires the team/s showed respect to the opposition;

2 / 1 / 0 points * – awarded to one or both team/s - if in the opinion of the umpires the team/s showed respect to the laws of the game;

2 / 1 / 0 points * – awarded to one or both team/s - if in the opinion of the umpires the team/s showed respect to the umpires. A team can receive a maximum of ten points per match.

*Key to Award Points: 2 points – Exemplary, 1 point – Good, 0 points – Average.

New head of Miami Children's Hospital plans expansions while battling added $2 million monthly bond interest cost

Staff members don't ask for your name and billing information more than once at a hotel — why should they at a hospital? asks Narendra Kini, new president and CEO of the Miami Children's Hospital. Dr. Kini plans to focus on running Children's like a business, with a focus on customer — or patient — service and with the needs of his young clientele and their families in mind.
He'll need business savvy to navigate some hospital challenges: government funding cuts, a crumbling bond market and scarce workforce housing. But Dr. Kini is lobbying legislators, meeting with potential donors and planning program strategies he thinks will keep the hospital on top.
A pediatric emergency physician by training, Dr. Kini joined Miami Children's in January after serving as executive vice president for clinical and physician services at Trinity Health, the fourth largest Catholic health system in the U.S. He was interviewed in his Miami Children's office by Miami Today staff writer Risa Polansky.

Election results send different messages to parties

The by-election results Wednesday spread across Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa have different messages for political parties preparing for the 2009 general elections, with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) the clear winner and the Congress yet to get its act together. If there is one party that can clearly bask in satisfaction, it is Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s BSP that has swept all five by-elections - two Lok Sabha and three assembly - in the state.

“Mayawati’s performance has got the alarm bells ringing for the Samajwadi Party which may now come to the negotiating table with the Congress,” said political commentator G.V.L. Narasimha Rao.

Neither the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nor the Congress is on firm ground in Uttar Pradesh. The battle for the 2009 parliamentary elections will be fought out between Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati.

In the last assembly elections in May 2007, the BJP and the Congress were a distant third and fourth in the race for power.

In this round of by-elections Mayawati has once again pulled off her strategy. “She clearly has a head start, has picked the right candidates in terms of caste, ability to deliver and local clout,” said Rao. “She has already chosen candidates for 50 Lok Sabha seats.”

The Samajwadi Party, on the other hand, is yet to recover from the losses in the 2007 assembly elections. It has been toying with the idea of making peace with the Congress to counter the BSP, but nothing tangible has materialized.

Like the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress seems unable to find the right strategy in Madhya Pradesh, which goes to polls in November this year.

The party lost the Betul Harda assembly seat to the BJP by 35,440 votes. This is despite the fact that Kamal Nath, the Congress high profile cabinet minister, spent considerable time campaigning in the by-election.

The campaigning between the Congress and the BJP came to be touted as a tussle between the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and cabinet minister Kamal Nath.

The latter could turn out to be the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate if the party wins the assembly elections.

“The by-election in Madhya Pradesh was significant because the result showed that the Congress is yet to get its act together,” said Sudha Pai, senior fellow, Nehru Memorial Library.

“It is a precursor to the face-to-face combat that we will see between the Congress and the BJP in 2009,” she said.

The results were also a loss of face for Congress leader Suresh Pachauri, who is in charge of Madhya Pradesh. Pachauri was recently relieved from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s council of ministers and put in charge of the state. Like Kamal Nath, Pachauri too spent a great deal of time campaigning in the by-election.

The time and the energy invested by the Congress leaders have not paid off. The strategy, Pai pointed out, was wrong.

“The Congress should start talking about development issues. Even Rahul Gandhi is not focusing on this. He goes and spends time with Dalit families but does not take up policy issues,” said Pai.

Doing their bit for the mentally challenged

Leading music artistes will come on stage for a noble cause at the Dr T M A Pai International Convention Centre here on Sunday. They will perform to raise funds for Saanidhya, a residential school and training centre for the mentally challenged at Kandettu, Bikkarnakatta. The highlight of the programme will be a performance by differently abled children prior to the show by the artistes.

Former corporator Mahabala Marla, who is president of Shree Ganesha Seva Trust for Exceptional Persons, which manages Saanidhya, told presspersons here on Wednesday that entry to the event is by invitation. A committee comprising philanthropists has been formed to raise funds for the building, which is estimated to cost Rs 2.5 crore.

The trust has so far raised a fraction of the amount needed, he said.
President of the committee A Sadananda Shetty said Saanidhya had completed five years of service to the needy. Inmates of Saanidhya, who are in the age group of 4 to 35 years, are presently housed in two large rented houses. The trust has all along felt the need for independent building with all training facilities for these differently abled people, he said and added the fund raiser titled Spandana 2008 is a step in this direction.

While artistes, including Gurukiran and Naushad and party from Shades music group will perform at the charity show, Shetty said a dance and a drama “Asuye” to be performed by inmates of Saanidhya is expected to be the event to look out for.

Tara Labhadaya from Mumbai, mother of Shankar Rao, one of the trustees will inaugurate Spandana 2008 by lighting the lamp. There will be no stage function, he added.

Mangalore: MSEZ team faces public wrath at Polali

The residents of Polali on Thursday shunned away the team of five MSEZ officials who had come there to conduct a survey for construction of a dam for MSEZ.

The MSEZ officials had come to the area to conduct a survey even earlier and they had to face a similar reaction from the residents even then.

A team of five members from SECSD Private Limited headed by Mr Shivaguru and Mr Selvaraj had visited the area to conduct a study on water as a part of their study of river Nethravathi at Uppinangady, Kumaradhara at Ulipu, Palguni at Gurpura and rivers at Polali. The team had to face the wrath of the local residents as the local residents learnt that the team had come to conduct a pro-SEZ survey.

The team explained to the residents that they had come to make a study on the problems faced by the fishermen due to the mixture of salt water and fresh water in the regions. After this explanation, the raged residents asked the team to leave the place immediately and warned them that they would be inviting trouble for themselves if they ever return to the place again.

The local residents had shunned the team, which had visited the area on Saturday too.

The team re-visited the area on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday morning along with SEZ officials, which made the residents suspicious. The residents united themselves and stopped the survey works.

On receiving information about the opposition, MSEZ CEO A G Pai rushed to the area. By this time former minister B Nagaraj Shetty had joined the angry residents and opposed the survey.

They held a meeting at Akhileshwara Temple, where Mr Shetty asked the officials to drop the plan of constructing the dam in the area and warned that he will not be responsible for the disaster that may take place if the officials coercively implement the plan.

Later Mr A G Pai assured that the dam for SEZ will not be built if it is causing inconvenience to the local residents.

The locals expressed their anger as there are possibilities of some areas submerging if the dam projects are implemented. The local residents are performing a special prayer at Polali temple today to keep MSEZ project at bay.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Namma Angadi opens in Manipal

Namma Angadi, a three day exhibition cum sale of rural handicrafts was inaugurated here by Manipal University Director Student Affairs Dr Pushpa Kini at Manipal University premises on Friday.

The event is the initiative of the students of Manipal Institute of Communication in association with DigiGO and Namma Angadi.

Delivering the presidential remarks on the occasion, veteran journalist and Honorary Director for MIC Dr M V Kamath opined that annihilation of these traditional crafts and culture from the mainstream in rural India has shunned all viable employment opportunities paving way for naxalite corridors right from Himalayan region to Dakshina Kannada district.

Contrasting todays political leaders and their ideologies to the great thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi and Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, he said lack of interest and vision among the leaders in building secular rural India has given birth to violence and added it is essential to own Indian identity rather than state wise identity.

Speaking on the occasion, MIC Director Dr Boroshiva Dasguptha said social responsibility should be imbibed among students along with objective perception.

"Emergence of machines in the rural areas has resulted in disappearance of hand made rural crafts exactly opposite to Gandhijis wishes to sustain all these traditional arts in post independent India," said Shivanad Shetty of Namma Bhoomi.

GHS girls tennis team not one to give up

Gainesville, Florida, U.S.A : When a team faces adversity, it has two choices: Give up or keep fighting.

In the case of the Gainesville High girls' tennis team, quitting was never an option, and the Hurricanes can prove it.

The team found out just before the season that it would be without juniors Keri Frankenberger and Casey Simmons, both previous state champions, because their national tournament schedules conflicted with the high school season. It was a difficult loss, but one that fueled the Hurricanes.

“They sort of figured, ‘Hey, we’re going to go out and show everybody that we can win districts on our own,’” said GHS coach Cathy Lewis. “I think they went into districts with that sort of attitude. They decided that they were going to tough it out and it was their district to win.”

That’s exactly what the Hurricanes did, taking the District 4-3A trophy and earning the right to host Jacksonville Wolfson at Northside Park today at 3 p.m. in a Region 2-3A quarterfinal match.

The team also worried that it could be without No. 4 player, senior Preetika Pai, who began to feel some pain in her right wrist last June. It turned out that the injury only forced her to become a better all-around player.

“I figured that I didn’t want to completely stop playing tennis,” said Pai, who has been told that the injury is either a ligament tear or a buildup of fluid. “So what I did was go on days when we didn’t have practice or practice matches to Westside (Park) and just pick up a racket and start hitting left-handed. I got pretty good at it. Then I would go into our practice matches and start serving and hitting forehands left-handed and I kept getting better.”

She got so good at switch-hitting that she found her opponents would get thrown off during matches, not knowing what her weaknesses were because of her changing. Pai has surgery planned next month to correct the injury, which she says flares up whenever she moves her wrist from side-to-side and lasts for at least two minutes each time.

After a 9-6 regular season, Lewis thinks her team is peaking at the right time. She says her No. 1 player, senior Tavenner Black, is playing her best tennis of the season and is prepared for the regional matches. The rest of the team, No. 2 Katie Olson, No. 3 Allison Chasteen and No. 5 Melissa Sheldon, all seniors, understand that any loss means the end of their high school tennis career.

“We’re always trying to shoot for the best that we can do,” Pai said. “We worked with what we’ve got and we made it pretty far. For regionals, we want to try to win every match. Our goal is to win it, but it’s going to be a lot harder than districts.”

Lewis thinks her team is strong enough, and has built up enough unity, to stand through the challenge.

“I am very, very proud of this team because they hung together,” Lewis said. “It started off as a tough season, but if anything, it probably made them a stronger team and they’ve been more team oriented.”

Monday, April 14, 2008

Jagdish Kini joins Obopay

Obopay Mobile Technology India today announced appointing Jagdish Kini as their Executive Advisor.

On his joining Obopay Mobile Technology India, Kini said "I am always excited to introduce new technologies and uses of technologies that benefit society. Obopay, I feel addresses the environment in a 360 degree view revolutionising all aspects of a transaction, and will therefore change the way we will transact and bank in the future. "

According to Aditya Menon, Executive Director Obopay Mobile Technology, India, "We are glad to have Jagdish on board with us. We are sure his global knowledge and work experience will help us to set new benchmark standards in mobile payment services. His experience and leadership will be immensely valuable for our company and partners to leverage. In this explosive market place, we are fortunate to have an Industry Leader who has experienced triple digit growth in the organizations that he has helped to build".

Jagdish had been in past responsible for positioning Brand Airtel as a superior mobile service provider in Karnataka and in the southern region.

He has three decades of experience in various sectors like Finance, Telecom and FMCG. He has worked in diverse roles such as sales, marketing, finance and customer service. Jagdish has worked in various countries across France, UK and Dubai and brings in international knowledge and expertise to the table. Mr. Kini had been associated with companies like Siemens, L'Oreal, Proctor and Gamble.

Obopay Mobile Technology, India is a two-year-old US-headquartered P2P payment and remittance service provider.

Manipal University likely to participate in FAIR project

Karnataka-based Manipal University which has been collaborating with the heavy ion fundamental research laboratory GSI in Germany is likely to participate in the international mega-project Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research `FAIR'.

"We have an enthusiastic response from students and faculty alike and expressed our clear intention to participate FAIR project in various ways," Manipal Advanced Research Group (MARG) Executive director and Registrar (International Programmes) H Vinod Bhat told PTI.

The University has been collaborating with GSI over the past few years. The nodal agency in India for this collaboration is the DST and participation is open to Universities.

"It is natural that Manipal University would like to participate as actively as possible along with our other Indian counterparts," Bhat said.

"We are in the process of putting a framework in place at the University to enable the seamless co-ordination within the various departments at the University as well as with external collaborators. We expect that participation in FAIR will add an important facet to our foray into the physical sciences in the near future," he said.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Awards Contract for Cognitive Airborne Network Protocol to Spectracom

Spectracom and its academic partner Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) have been awarded a contract by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory of Rome, New York, to continue research on a wireless network routing protocol supporting war fighter communications.
This research will provide insight into the future of military airborne networks. The contract is worth nearly $300,000 and builds upon other USAF-sponsored work from 2006.
The contract is also noted as being a next step in Spectracom’s mission “to serve the Aerospace and Defense market with high reliability network solutions for synchronizing critical operations with an expanding technology portfolio.”
John Fischer, Spectracom’s chief technology officer said, “this award complements our ongoing research and development for next-generation networks.” He continued, “We understand the need for secure and reliable network communications and are committed to providing innovative solutions to the military through the application of leading-edge work of academic partners such as RIT.”
Spectracom is an ISO 9001:2000 registered company that designs, develops, and manufactures Legally Traceable Time and frequency products for Synchronizing Critical Operations affecting a range of communications, broadcasts, andIP networks in Public Safety, Aerospace and Defense, Financial Services, Healthcare, and Broadcast markets.
Dr. Nirmala Shenoy is the director of RIT’s Lab for Wireless Networking and Security and the inventor of the Multi-Mesh Tree (MMT) routing protocol. She served as part of the team whose work is now a foundation for the new Air Force contract.
Shenoy said, “MMT offers a high degree of network efficiency through its scalability and use of information across traditional network protocol layers in a compact manner. We will enhance the MMT functions and its performance to meet the goals of the Air Force by introducing cognitive self-learning behavior in the protocol.”
The new contract is part of the Department of Defense’s initiative to deploy an IP-based network that interconnects mobile airborne platforms. Eventually these platforms will also connect to the military’sGlobal Information Grid.
John Matyjas from the Air Force Research Lab commented, “Our goal is to achieve fast, efficient, and secure routing that performs under highly dynamic and hostile conditions of the battlespace.” He went on to say, “We are interested in approaches to apply cognitive techniques to further improve the performance of routing protocols.”

‘Sorry Raj, can’t give you Maratha’

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) president Raj Thackeray is eager to start a party mouthpiece. Some party workers have suggested him to brand it Maratha.

But with the owner of Maratha, which was a leading newspaper when Sanuykta Maharashtra agitation was at its peak in the 1950s, not willing to sell the title, MNS might not have its wish fulfilled.

Thackeray has told party workers that the mouthpiece would soon be a reality. He also announced a magazine, dedicated to cartoons. An MNS source said, “We are trying to obtain the title Maratha for the mouthpiece. The ti-tle is per- fect for our party’s stand on Marathi people.”

However, Shirish Pai, the owner of Maratha, has refused to part with the title. “The title is the memory of Acharya Atre (her father). The issues raised by Raj Thackeray are important. But I believe that Maratha belonged to Atre only. I will not give it to anybody,” she told DNA.

“Some people from Pune and Kolhapur came to me for the title. I told them I would not give,” Pai said. She suggested that Thackeray could opt for the title Nav Maratha.

Daggers drawn!

Though he managed to bag Tipu Sultan’s sword, this time the tycoon failed to bring home Shah Jahan’s khanjar.

The dagger of Emperor Shah Jahan, (who built the Taj Mahal) was sold at the Bonhams auction on April 10 in London for £1,700,000 (approx Rs13.4 cr).

Reports suggest that a representative of liquor baron Vijay Mallaya was one among the few in the auction room bidding fiercely for the dagger or the khanjar always carried by Shah Jahan.

A source revealed, “Mallya’s agent stopped his bidding at £1,300,000 (approx Rs 10.25 cr). However, an anonymous bidder over the phone outbid him to take the dagger home.”

Mallya had earlier acquired Tipu Sultan’s sword in 2004. Two years ago he had also bought a silver-mounted flintlock sporting gun from the personal armoury of the Tiger of Mysore for £120,000 pounds from a Sotheby sale.

Mallya has plans to construct a museum in Mysore where he can stock the historic treasures speaking of India’s glorious past. But unfortunately, he was beaten this time.

Julian Roup, a representative from Bonhams said, “Six to seven people in the room and about three people over the phone were bidding for this dagger till it reached the million mark.”

He added, “Usually, when an auction reaches the million mark, the bidding room turns silent. But this time it was different. A bidder in the room and two on the phone continued bidding for the dagger.

Lastly, it was a bidder on the phone and one in the room who were left fighting for the relic. Ultimately, the bidder on the phone managed to take the sword away.”

For quality & quantity, overhaul education policy

‘Respect academics’: Mr T.V. Mohandas Pai, Director–HR, Infosys, and Mr N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu group of Publications, at a meet on ‘Creating India’s tomorrow – The HR Challenge’, organised by the Business Line Club, in Chennai on Saturday.

Chennai, April 12 The biggest challenge of India as its GDP continues on a robust growth mode in the coming decade will be finding “adequately skilled, educated and trained manpower. If we expect the economy to double in the next 10 years, we will need 6 crore more people to come into the formal job market, and the challenge is to find them,” said Mr T.V. Mohandas Pai, Director-HR, Infosys Technologies.

Addressing a meeting organised by the Business Line Club here on Saturday on ‘Creating India’s tomorrow – the HR challenge’, he said India’s current GDP is $1.25 trillion and at an annual growth rate of 7 per cent, it could double to $2.5 trillion in 10 years. But what could derail our growth was finding skilled and trained manpower. Another challenge was the skewed salaries.

“Just imagine that a rookie who comes from an IIM gets an annual salary of Rs 25 lakh, and a professor with 30 years’ teaching experience in an IIT, who is brilliant and has got a doctorate, doesn’t get half that much.

“The professors in the IIMs who go in the Convocation procession to give degrees to the students probably get one third, or even one fifth, of what the students are going to get at the start of their careers. So we’ve created an absurd situation, but hopefully there will be a more egalitarian, equal and just society in the India of tomorrow.”

The HR shortage in the coming years would be across sectors, but even at the topmost level, our education system was not geared to meet this challenge in terms of both quality and quantity.

The solution was to expand the capacity of quality educational institutions by setting up more colleges and universities in the private sector, give them total autonomy and freedom, pay our faculty better and give our vice chancellors respect and recognition they once commanded.

“If a frontal attack on policy is not possible, we’ll have to employ guerrilla tactics in education,” he said.

Higher fees were necessary to pay teachers more and those who couldn’t afford them should be helped through massive and nationwide scholarship schemes, said Mr Pai.

And foreign universities should be allowed to come into India. Today, if two lakh Indian students were studying in the US, Australia, the UK, New Zealand, etc, why should the education sector shy away from inviting foreign universities into India, he asked.

When reservations were expressed on this suggestion in the lively interaction session that followed, Mr Pai said it was only fair that parents and children were given the freedom to choose.

Addressing the session, Mr N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu group of publications, said the South, particularly Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, had led in the field of education, specially engineering colleges. Karnataka and Kerala were not far behind, and thanks to this leadership role, the South had proved to be a magnet for software companies. But there were concerns on the quality of education which experts would have to address.

Mr K.Venugopal, Joint Editor, The Hindu and Business Line, said the BL Club was started in 2004 with just a few institutions and barely 1,000 members. Today, it has over 15,000 members from 125 institutions in the Chennai region, and in the coming academic year, hoped to enlarge its base to 25,000 members in 150 institutions.

The audience included Vice-Chancellors, professors and heads of MBA departments of institutions in the Chennai region. Faculty from 80 institutions and senior managers from the corporate sector participated.

Participants included Prof D. Viswanathan, Vice-Chancellor of Anna University, Mr G. Viswanathan, Chairman, VIT, Mr M.V.M. Vel Murugan, CEO, Velammal Engineering College, Mr Kishore Kumar, Director, Vel Tech, Mr Vishnu Manshu, CEO, Sri Vidyaniketan, Mr Srinivasalu, Chairman, KMMIPS and Mr Kuppurajalu, Vice-Chairman, SITTOMS.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Roopa Pai


Roopa K.R.




23 Yrs






S.Pushpa Latha

Occupation (Father)



Doing MA Music

Musical background

Learnt Carnatic Music for 14 yrs under Dr. Malini Hariharan and Tamarakkadu Govindan Nambootiri.
Learnt Voilin for 12 yrs under Sri.Sunil Bhasker and T.H.Subramaniyam.

Dancing Skills

Enjoy Dance

Address "Kunnummel House", Ayyampally P.O., Kuzhuppilly, Cochin.
Awards and Achievements Awarded 1st Place in classical vocal and violin in state level youth festival (2001,2002,2003,2004,2005)

Listening Music

Sun Sign


Roopa Crowned SUPER STAR GLOBAL in a dazzling Grand Finale on April 5


In a nail-biting triangular contest which was telecast Live with simultaneous SMS Scores from audiences worldwide, Amrita TV's music reality show ,"Lux Super Star Global", climaxed on April 5 with Roopa winning the Mercedes Benz .

Roopa,23, a native of Cochin, doing her post-graduation in music, said that she had never dreamt that she would be performing on such a platform, and more importantly being declared numero uno among thousands of aspirants who auditioned worldwide for "Super Star Global".

She gave the entire credit of her accomplishments to the Almighty , her music teachers,parents,relatives,Amrita TV fraternity and most importantly, her supporters and well-wishers who voted her to super stardom.

The 2nd prize-winner at "Super Star Global" was Jeetu,19, an undrgraduate from Mumbai who got a Swift , while the third place went to Teena ,19,who is also doing her graduation hailing from Calicut.

The journey of " Lux Super Star Global" started with auditions of over 20,000 aspirants in India ,USA,UK and UAE, from which 21 contestants were shortlisted for competing in this show .Commencing in July 2007,the talent hunt ran for 180 hourly episodes spread over eight months,five days a week on prime time(Mon-Fri 8-9 pm) on Amrita TV.

The Chief Guest was noted singer Vani Jayaram who also performed at the grand finale.The four-hour live telecast show was interspersed with entertaining performances by musicians like M.Jayachandran,Unni Menon,Gayatri,George Peter,Chitra Iyer,Shan, keyboardist Stephen and all the contestants of "Lux Super Star Global".

Held at Trivandrum's Nishagandhi open air auditorium in a dazzling set with a star-studded invited audience in attendance, "Lux Super Star Global " was beamed Live across the world .Besides supporters ,music lovers,celebrities and clients ,the show was attended by top officials in police,government and services.

The Mercedes Benz was sponsored by Confident Group.

During the show a donation of lakh was presented to an unfortunate family from Malappuram district ,where all the four children are mentally retarded with a disabled father, with no means for livelihood. "Amrita News", the round-the clock news division of the channel, had carried a moving story about this impoverished family under its ongoing public service news campaign" You Too Can Make A Difference"--exhorting viewers to help. An amount of Rs 1 lakh which had been collected under this campaign, was handed over to the mother of the children on the stage of "Super Star Global" by the Minister of Water Resources,Government of Kerala. At the show the Chairman ,Confident Group made a humanitarian gesture by announcing a donation of Rs one lakh on behalf of the Group to the distressed family.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Manipal Cure to invest Rs 300 cr for expansion

Manipal Cure and Care, which specialises in setting up health and wellness centres, today said it would be investing Rs 300 crore in the next five years to expand its business.

"This industry is growing at two-digit. We plan to invest Rs 300 crore to Rs 400 crore in the next five years," Manipal Education and Medical Group CEO Ranjan Pai told reporters.

Manipal Education and Medical Group runs the Manipal Cure and Care health and wellness centre. Its centres specialise in executive health check-up, immunisation for babies, dental work, weight-management and nutraceuticals.

The company has entered this business last year by setting up a centre in a mall in Ahmedabad. It opened its second store in Bangalore.

Now, Manipal Cure and Care plans to set up four centres this year and 50 centres in the next three years.

"We would be opening two centres in Mumbai, one each in Bangalore and Pune this year. We are looking at the franchise model too," Pai said.

The group also runs hospital. It would be starting a new hospital in Delhi at the end of this year. "We would be investing Rs 250 crore in the Delhi hospital, which would be a tertiary one," Pai said.

Initially, it would be a 350-bed hospital, which could be scalable upto 1,000 beds.

The group runs about 16 hospitals and 5,600 beds in the country, with greater presence in South India. It owns and operates 1,600 beds and manages 4,000 beds.

"We are looking to open hospitals in Mumbai and Kolkata," Pai said.

Mangalore: Konkani teachers to be felicitated

Konkani Prachar Sanchalan, in association with Ronald Colaco, an entrepreneur, will organise Jayatotsava at Kalaangann in Shaktinagar near here, on Wednesday.

A press release from former president of Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy Eric Ozario on Friday stated that the programme was being conducted to commemorate the introduction of Konkani as a third optional language in schools in 2006-07.

Teachers of Konkani in schools would be given rewards in cash. Awards would be presented for a best teacher in Konkani and to students who had scored highest marks in schools where Konkani was taught.

Mr. Ozario lauded the contributions of the academy, the sanchalan and a few people in getting Konkani introduced in the school curriculum.

Stating that the programme of teaching Konkani in schools would receive same support and cooperation from all concerned, Mr. Ozario said the sanchalan would continue to lead the movement for the growth of the language.