Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cooool watermelons…

The thirst-quenching watermelons are on demand during summers. Though this nature's foremost fruity delight is available throughout the year, it is considered as one of the best summer fruits.
Due to increased cultivation of the fruit and less transport costs, the farmers have seen a good harvest this season and are substantially happy. This year the fruit rates have decreased and mountains of watermelons have surfaced at various fruit markets and at roadside by vendors all over the city. The cost of melons begins from Rs. 4 to Rs. 8 per kg.
“Most of the fruits come to city from KR Pet, Yedyur, Chamarajanagar, Hunsur and other surrounding places. Compared to last year, this year the rates have been reduced up to 40 per cent”, says Pasha, a vendor of Devaraja Market.
“While purchasing a whole watermelon look for heavy one and one side of the melon should have an area distinct in colour from the rest of the rind. If the fruit does not have this marking, it may have been harvested prematurely, which will affect fruits taste, texture and juiciness. So, it is important that melons are harvested when they are fully matured; once picked they do not ripen further,” says another vendor Chandrashekhar.
“Though the rates of fruits have lessened, it is still beyond the capacity of the commoner's wallet. If we go for a fruit shop to purchase a small sized watermelon, it costs around Rs. 25 to Rs. 30”, says Venkatesh, a roadside vendor.
“Being daily wage workers we can’t think of fruits. The basic essential commodities prices should come down first, especially rice which has now become a luxury among common masses, till that we don't dare to look at the fruits,” says Muniya who was accompanied with his wife Rajeshwari.
Another customer Deepak said that, “It is nature's balance that the sweetest melons and all the delectable fruits are available during this long, hot summer’s season and there is no option but to buy some fruits for the children and it is one of the best storable form of cultivated water.
Goodness of watermelon:
Controls Kidney Disorders: Water Melon contains a lot of potassium, which is very helpful in cleaning or washing off the toxic depositions in the kidneys. Being high in water content, it induces frequent urinating.

Reduces High Blood Pressure: The amount of Potassium and magnesium, present in water melons, are very good in bringing down the blood pressure.
Prevents Heat Stroke: Water melon is effective in reducing your body temperature and blood pressure. Many people in the tropical regions eat the fruit daily in the afternoon during summers to protect themselves from heat stroke.
Controls - Diabetes Asthma, atherosclerosis, Coon cancer, and arthritis : Water Melons can be a good supplement for them Diabetes patients. The various vitamins and minerals contents in the melons help in proper functioning of insulin in the body, lowering the blood sugar level.
Heart Care: The carotenoid are found in abundance in water melon, improves cardiac functions and prevents age related cardiac problems.
Protects Eyes: The vitamin-C, Lutein and Zeaxanthin will ensure protection of your eyes from macular degeneration. These anti oxidants protects your eyes from age related ailments such as drying up of eyes and optical nerves, glaucoma etc.
Impotence: Arginine, present in water melon, is beneficial in curing erectile dysfunctions.
Other Benefits: Lypocene is found to be effective in preventing cancer, prostrate growth and repair damaged tissues. Water melon seeds are rich in good fats and proteins. Water melons also contain phytonutrients which have very good effect on the health and proper functioning of internal organs, eyes, secretion system etc.
Rich in: Vitamin A, B, and C. The Red treat is rich in the anti-oxidant carotenoid – lycopene.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Smart Card to check fake DL racket

The flourishing racket in fake driving licenses and RC books may soon be a thing of the past. When you go to the friendly neighbourhood RTO, you will be greeted by woebegone faces, you will not be tapped on the shoulder by a fur line gentleman, who will ask from the corner of his mouth: “DL-aa?”
With Smart Cards for driving licenses and certificate of registration, the government has effectively bunged a spanner into the works of the DL racket.
Smart Cards cannot be tampered nor can they be faked. Smart Card are bio-metric enabled with fingerprint technology. Smart Cards have a visual Zone and a Machine Readable Zone. That means the visual zone will display your photograph, address and other details while the Machine Readable Zone is a chip that will reveal with a swipe the vehicle’s year of manufacture, model, engine number, charsis number, state permit, road tax and insurance payment, fitness certificate and registration details.
Regional Transport Officer, Siddappa Kallera spoke exclusively to Star of Mysore, on the various plus points of a Smart Card. Said Kallera, “Smart Cards are manufactured using biometrics and finger print technology. Each smart card comes contains 16 kilobyte (Random Access Memory) embedded microchip and information of the cardholder can be accessed easily. These cards are made of plastic. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is providing the necessary technical support and software for smart card production while Rosmerta Technologies Private Limited has been selected under PPP model to give hardware and technical support to the department for the period of 15 years.”
Blood Group too
“Each smart card will have contact details, photograph and blood group of the cardholder. The card is also biometric-enabled. Importantly, the card is tamper proof. Once the system is introduced across the country, the information pertaining to all card-holders will be stored in State and national databases”, Kallera said.
At present the Smart cards are issued for those applying for DL for the first time and newly registered vehicles including second hands. Those who already have DL and RC can also get their driving licenses and registration certificates converted into digital format (smart cards).
These cards are tamper free and easy retrieval. They also facilitate on-the spot reading of the RC book and give all the relevant information about the vehicle at once, including the date of purchase, registration, previous owners, and traffic offences. The bearer of the card will have an insurance cover of Rs. 1 lakh in case of death for one year, and Rs. 50,000 in case of permanent disability arising out of any accident.
Karnataka is the 12th State in the Country to introduce Smart Cards and Mysore is the third city in the State to issue smart cards after Bangalore and Mangalore. The system of issuing smart cards (converting the data of licences into digital form) for motor vehicle driving licences and certificates of registration was launched at the Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) East and West here on September 8, 2009.
The driving licences issued in RTO West is 3,53,851 and 25,456 conductors licences. The Smart Card holders till December numbered 15,000. Whereas, in RTO East 3,936 DL holders are there and 2,878 Smart Cards have been issued.
People Speak:“This is a good task taken by the government to provide Smart Cards across the State. Smart cards are like a credit / debit card; it stores a lot of data which can be accessible only by the transport department, as it carries a security code. It also puts an end to road tax evasion and prevents fabrication of fake documents. As Smart Cards are tamper-proof the cases of using fake RC book will not be there. This is also handy while purchasing a used vehicle to verify that the vehicle is not a stolen one,” says Yashwanth, a student.
“While, Smart Cards are not being issued to farmers for driving tractors and trailers. The driving license are also not issued at the camps (conducted by RTO) at their respective taluks. It has been made compulsory for the farmers to collect the Smart Cards from the RTOs connected with their addresses. This is a matter for condemnation. The officials of the Regional Transport Department have made their own rules while issuing Smart Cards. – Prasanna, Karnataka Vikasa Vahini
“The Smart Card is of substandard quality. The letters are wrongly printed. Government has fixed Rs. 200 for the Smart Card. The actual fee for the card is Rs. 49. The other Rs. 151 utilised by the government, seems to be the daylight robbery. The Smart Card is required to be renewed once in three years; for poor people who have depend on driving for the livelihood cannot afford to pay for its renewal every three years.
- S.N. Veena, Advocate
“Self addressed stamped cover is required to be enclosed along with the application for the issue of Smart Card. It is difficult for us to pay Rs. 200 for the Smart Card. In addition to this, we are asked to pay additional of Rs. 30. Many a times, it happens that we may not be at home, when the postman comes to deliver the post. Therefore, delivery is delayed. Dispatching the Smart Card by post seems to be very cumbersome. It is helpful if the staff does the work when we go personally to the RTO.”
- S.P. Kiran, Social Worker.
“Due to lack of expert computer operators and adequate preliminary preparations the RTO office has gone haywire. Sometimes the photographs that come up on the smart cards, do not present a clear picture. When questioned about these the RTO staff express their helplessness. As such, it can be said that the new system can be likened to the old adage ‘old wine in new bottle’. - Hari Krishnaiah, former District Convenor, Karnataka Dalitha Sangha Samiti, Mysore

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fruits for longevity

Fruits should be eaten to maintain a healthy life, not as a substitute for normal food — Dr. Naveen Kumar
Among all the foods available, fruits are the most delicious and enjoyable to the senses. Fruits are rich in all the essential vitamins, minerals and water content. But very few people give much importance to them as most of them think it can not sustain a hard-working person.
According to Dr. Naveen Kumar of Dr. Naveen’s Health & Diet Care Centre, people who are obese can skip breakfast and consume fruits like Papaya, Melons, Pineapple, Grapes, Apple etc.
Fruits are rarely seen as staple food; instead they are eaten as snack or dessert. Many people consider fruits as nutritious and eat whenever they feel hungry. But the nutrition content of the fruits vary. Melons have less calories, while Bananas contain more. Eating a small cantaloupe (200 calories) can help one sustain for a short time, but eating dried fruits and nuts can sustain a person for a longer time.
Eating fruits on an empty stomach before meals are good, because fruits are rich in sugar called fructose and they don’t combine with other foods, they do not even require much digestion and hence do not stay in the stomach for long.
But if a person consumes fruits just after a meal, the fruit sugar will stay for a longer time in the stomach along with other foods and gets fermented. Especially when one consumes foods which are rich in fat, proteins and starch, it will stay in the stomach for a longer period and require more digestion causing fermentation (upset of the stomach).
This is the reason why some people experience digestion problems when they eat fruits just after consuming food and they blame it on the fruit saying it might be allergic.
Diet: Instead of skipping meals and consuming only fruits, maintain a balanced diet. Avoid rice for dinner at night; eat cha-pathi, ragi dosa, rava idli and ragi ball. For patients who are obese, this diet is very useful as fruits help in burning fat.
How much to eat: Chapathi - Medium size two; a small bowl of rice with vegetable curry and butter milk for afternoon meal. Later consume fruits which are less in calories. Obese people should avoid banana, dates, cherries and mangoes as they are rich in calories.
Fruits are ideal food after exercise: There is nothing better than oranges, grapes, pineapple or melons after a workout as they are rich in water content and sugar, which the body requires after an exercise. These fruits contain enough water to hydrate the body and the natural sugars are quickly absorbed to replenish the energy.
Natural sugars provide the much needed energy required by the body. When starchy foods like potatoes and bread are eaten, the digestive enzymes in the stomach have to break down complex sugar (starch) into simpler sugars. But when fruits are eaten, the body absorbs the simple sugars (fructose) directly, without need of breaking them down any further.
Fresh fruits don’t cause tooth decay as they contain lots of fiber and water along with natural sugar. The combined effect of fiber and water rinses and cleans the mouth.
But when fruits are dried, water content will be less and they stick to teeth and gums causing tooth decay. Drink juices at least once. But if you filter and drink, the natural fibers are no longer present to clean the teeth. As long as we eat entire fresh fruits with all of its natural water content and fiber, we will get the maximum benefit out of them. Diabetics are advised to get medical help.
Many people sustain only on fruits instead of meals. It’s a bad habit. Living on fruit alone will deteriorate health.
Fruit stimulates our memories: Fruits have a positive effect on the brain and makes us to recall information quickly and easily.
Fruits are free of cholesterol: Fruits don’t contain much cholesterol, unlike meat and dairy products which contain a lot of cholesterol.
Fruits help to come out of depression: If one consumes substantial amount of fresh fruits on a regular basis, one can get out of depression. Slowly but surely, eating lot of fruits has a mysterious healing effect.
Other health benefits: Lesser chances of developing cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis and cancers of the bowel and lungs.
Weight control: Fruit contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, which keeps a person healthy. As they are low in fats and calories, they are ideal to keep weight in control.
Benefits of eating fruits
• Fruits are rich sources of vitamins, not available in any other food. They contains more anti-oxidants.
• A fruit is the best source of natural sugars required to produce energy needed by the body.
• Fruits are easy to digest.
• Fruits are alkaline forming, while grains,
meat, fish are acid-forming.
• Fruits contain lots of fiber, which is necessary for optimum digestion.
• People who eat lots of fresh fruits live longer.
[Wednesday 28th October 2009]

Views on children's school bag

Heavy school bags are the cause of injury to the backbone and spine of school children, says an Orthopaedic surgeon. Bags with wheels can resolve the issue of heavy bags, says a teacher. The author has come out with other practical solutions.
Carrying heavy school bags poses a health risk to children at an early age like neck pain, deformity, muscle spasms, shoulder pain, backache, back injuries and sometimes even fractures of the spine.
A noted orthopedician in the city says: "Children who do not carry school bags in the proper way are at risk of hurting their back bone. Some children carry the heavy bag on one side of their shoulder resulting in intense pressure on that shoulder. They should instead carry it on the back, using both the straps, which puts equal pressure on their spine. Parents should insist their children to carry the bags strapped on both the shoulders and ensure that the weight does not exceed more than 15 per cent of the child’s body weight."
"Sometimes, children try bala-ncing the weight by arching their backs or leaning forward, which may result in a poor posture as they grow. Compared to handbags and briefcases, backpacks are supposedly safer for kids because they distribute weight evenly across the body and are supported by the back and abdominal muscles," said the doctor.
The doctor added that children should also be taught in the classroom to sit com-fortably in an upright position in a proper chair that supports the contours of the spine thereby reducing the back pain and neck pain.
Exercising regularly also helps to support the spine and strengthens the muscles in the stomach, back, neck and shoulders. Children should carry only those books which are required for the day and not all the books that they study.
One of the parents suggested that locker facilities should be provided in every school so that children can keep their books in lockers instead of bringing them back home everyday.
Another parent said, "Every day children carry the text books and a working book for a given subject and sometimes two. As everyday they will be having five to six different subjects, this makes them carry more number of books every day. In addition to this, they have to carry a PE kit, dictionary, pencil case, lunch box, water bottles, library books, geometrical and mathematical instruments, etc. Thus heavy school bags result in pain and discomfort to kids."
"Schools insist children carry all the notebooks, question banks, text books and other things which are not required all the time. Teachers should clea-rly mention the books required for the particular day so that the children need not carry all the books. Further if locker facility is provided, then children will not be scolded by the teachers for not bringing the books," the parents suggested.
Some parents say that now-a-days most of the children go to school in auto, school bus, van etc., so the chances of back pain are less.
"If we carry the books according to time table also the bags are still heavy. According to me, the solution is that we should be made to understand the lessons in schools instead of mugging up the answers, so that we don’t need to carry all the books back home. The extent of home work should be reduced so that we can carry only the home work books back and keep the remaining books in schools," says a 9th standard student.
Students also state, "In higher classes, the burden of books also increases. We find it difficult to carry the school bag on our back. Some of us travel by public bus. It is difficult to run with the heavy bags. If we go late to the school, punishments like running in the school campus with bag will be given which makes us more tired."
"Parents should regularly check the bags and empty them. Try to get bags with wheels so that the children can handle the heavy bag easily," says a teacher.
[Wednesday 22nd October 2008]

Will city roads be pothole-free ?

A couple of years ago Mysore City Corporation launched the campaign 'Find a pothole, win a prize' to cover the potholes. But the result...
Many promises were made to make city roads pothole-free. But when Star of Mysore conducted a survey in some areas, it was a horrible sight. The problem of bad roads is endless. While the potholes have made vehicles to break down, the occupants are having a bumpy ride.
A visit to areas like Agrahara, Saraswathipuram, T.K. Layout, Gokulam, V.V. Mohalla, J.P. Nagar, New Kantharaj Urs Road, K.G. Koppal, Kuvempunagar, Thyagaraja Road, Temple Road (Venkateshwara Swamy temple stretch in Gokulam), Vijaya-nagar, Court Road, etc., show the pathetic condition of the roads.
The worst among all are the Temple Road, Thyagaraja Road and Saraswathipuram. Vehicle riders have to negotiate more than 70 potholes on the stretch of Temple Road. A ride on this busy stretch from St. Joseph’s School in Jayalakshmipuram to Ramakrishna Vidyashala in Yadavagiri is a nightmare.
"It is pathetic to see so many potholes with huge craters on this single stretch. The Corporation's claim to make city roads free of potholes has not yielded any result till now. Apart from this, we can also easily notice that manholes are not fixed appropriately as they are protruding from the road level”, says Sudhakar, a resident of Yadavagiri.
"We are daily commuters on this road but still we are afraid to drive as there is very little road left in the midst of potholes and craters. The authorities have promised many times to make city pothole-free but still they have not found time to visit these roads. If the officials and Corporators concerned visit all Wards regularly, then they may be able to take some action on making the roads worthy of riding," says a school van driver.
"Are the officers sleeping? During rainy season, it was very difficult to commute on this road and sometimes, the vehicles used to get stuck in the pothole. The contractors responsible for this shoddy work should be punished and the Corporation should instruct the contractors strictly to maintain quality while laying the roads,” said auto driver Mallesh, who was on his journey on Thyagaraja Road.
And the scene was same in residential areas too. Saraswathipuram 13th Main Road is in a very bad condition. After repairing the drainage, they have left the debris in the middle of the road causing inconvenience to vehicle riders for the past five months (see picture alongside).
Even roads on outskirts like KRS Road, Nanjangud Road and T. Narasipur Road are also facing the same problem.
Patch work
The authorities have now descended to fill some selective potholes and the work is going on in some places. But, how long will it remain, we have to wait and see.
Good roads are the basic component of a good governance. But here the authorities concerned have failed to provide adequate basic amenities to the citizens. The authorities who are involved in road construction and maintenance should work seriously and make city roads pothole-free.
[Tuesday 3rd November 2009]

Kerala mural art comes to city

Kerala, the God's own country on the southwestern coast of India, has won the admiration of visitors because of its tradition and lush greenery. A study of the Kerala mural paintings will make one understand the State's art and cultural tradition.
To impart training in traditional mural painting of Kerala, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Mysore, has organised a Museum Education programme under 'Do & Learn' series at Wellington House on Irwin Road. It will conclude on Dec. 1.
"Art in Kerala is as old as civili-sation in the region and they have gone through intensive time-tested process of alteration and development," says Koolippara Raman Babu, Faculty Member, Department of Mural Painting, Malayala Kala Graman, New Mahe, Kannur, Kerala, who is imparting training for more than 30 artists from city in mural paintings.
"Painting murals is very much different from painting smaller works. A person is completely overwhelmed and absorbed by the painting itself. It will also help in building up imagination," opines Babu.
"Basically, the students who are learning this art are painters themselves and they learn with very enthusiasm and zeal. At first, the students will be taught how to trace on a canvas cloth and then paint," says K.R. Babu.
Mural painting
Kerala holds the second place in having the largest collection of archaeologically important mural sites, the first being Rajasthan. The roots of the mural tradition of Kerala could be traced to seventh and eighth century AD. These paintings are frescos depicting mythology and legends, drawn on the walls of temples and churches in South India, especially in Kerala and bring Ajanta and Ellora paintings to one's mind.
The subjects for murals were derived from religious texts, palaces and temples with unique pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses. Flora, fauna and other aspects of nature are also taken as background. They are pain-ted using natural pigments and revived by a new genre of artists actively involved in researching and teaching mural art.
The colours selected by the artists symbolise the permutations of the psychological qualities embodied in the quasi-scientific philosophical systems of the gunas the triple division of all reality with — Satva (the noblest), Rajas (the active and middle principle) and Tamas (the dark and destructive principle) respectively.
The colour symbolism is traditionally green for Satvik, red and mixture of red and yellows for the rajasik and black (Shaivite) and white (vaishnavite) for the tamasik deities. Saffron red is the most commonly used colour of Kerala murals.
The composition factors governed are proportion, pose and background. For instance, the face will be divided into three sections with neck to one fourth of the face and length of the chest is to be equal to that of the face. There are also broad principles for the depiction of the eyes expressing different emotions. Similarly, the visualisation of animals, trees, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, fish, temples, market etc. are governed by distinct principles and rules.
Murals decorate the inner walls of the room, ceiling or other large permanent surface and it covers a variety of techniques including fresco, mosaic, stained glass and photography. An interesting type of mural is painting on canvas, which is then attached to a wall or painting directly on the wall surface itself.
Creating effective mural painting requires sturdy brushes, paint, glazing and the most important factor, your imagination. Acrylic paints are used for the actual mural painting. Brushes for painting on the walls are made of blades of certain grass and roots of some trees. Sharpened bamboo pieces are used to draw outlines of murals. The best brushes for use with acrylic paints are high quality synthetic ones.
Herbal and vegetable dyes, fruit juices, minerals and chemical extracted from the earth, stones, root and such natural materials are used for making the paint.
[Friday 27th November 2009]

An eco-friendly cycle rally by Youth Hostel

Mysore, Nov. 2- It was a special Sunday for children and senior citizens who celebrated Kannada Rajyotsava in a unique manner by participating in the cycle rally organised by Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI), Gangotri Unit, to create awareness about environmental pollution and to promote cycling.
Around 30 people took part in the 30-km rally with immense zeal and enthusiasm. The rally began from Srirampura Road at 7 am and passed through various routes and reached Kanana Organic Farm in Baradarapura Village, Jayapura Hobli.
The rally was flagged off by Ramesh Kikeri, Technical Officer, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement and S. Shyam-sundar, Committee Member, YHAI, Gangotri Unit and Director, NIE-CREST. He gave a talk on environmental issues at the farm and stressed the importance of protecting environment and inculcated moral values among the participants. He also explained about Renewable Energy Technology systems and Rainwater Harvesting.
Shyamsundar said "the main purpose of the rally is to promote cycling as it is good for health and does not cause pollution."
R.G. Nagaraj, former President, YHAI, K.B. Ganpathy, Editor-in-chief, SOM and Ralie Ganapathy, Executive Director, were present.
Ganapathy appreciated the concern of YHAI in saving the environment by arranging regular cycle rally and creating a sense of environmental friendliness among people.
At the farm, many eco-friendly technologies were introduced to the participants like solar cooker, bio-gas plant, Energy efficient stove, organic farming and constructing buildings using mud blocks. The identification of plants and trees in the farm, their importance in nature and their medicinal value were also introduced.
Several traditional games like Lagori, Choukabara, Alugulimane were played. Many of the cyclists expressed happiness and thanked the Association for organising such rallies. On the way back, the cycling team visited the informal school Kaliyuva Mane.
The Youth Hostel Movement was the brainchild of German teacher Richard Schirmann who established first Inter-national Youth Hostel in the year 1909 and later in 1949 the first Youth Hostel in India was esta-blished at Maharaja College Hostel, Mysore.
YHAI, Gangotri Unit is actively involved in promoting adventures skills and environmental issues. Every week the Association conducts special lecture and other educational-related programmes. YHAI also conducts regular trekking expedition.
[Monday 2nd November 2009]

Mysore to get permanent Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station

Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has proposed to set up a permanent Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station in Mysore to monitor air quality round-the-clock. Once the Mysore City Corporation gives its approval, it will be installed near the Town Hall. The proposed Station will be similar to the one already set up in the Majestic area in Bangalore.
People’s participation plays a major role in protecting and conserving the environment, says K. Raju Thylur, Deputy Environmental Officer of KSPCB in Mysore.
"Mysore, a heritage city, is facing a technology boom since few decades, resulting in increa-sing population, vehicles and industries. The city is developing rapidly these days as more new private and MUDA approved layouts and apartments are coming up. Earlier it was not so. There were not many high-rise buildings and the pollution level was also under control," he adds.
The existing infrastructure is not able to meet the growing demand. This has resulted in traffic congestion, increase in drinking water demand, waste water discharge as well as health damaging pollutants. It is observed that pollution is more during Deepavali.
The quantity of sewage generated in the city has doubled compared to what it was a few decades ago. The stagnation of sewage in open areas and also the release of the sewage into the lakes are harming city's environment.
Today, Mysore city generates 350 tones of municipal solid waste, which was 250 tons a few years ago. It is high time that people segregate the daily generated wastes at the source itself before handing it over to the Corporation garbage collectors. Municipal solid wastes are of two types — Bio-degradable (organic matters like vegetable wastes and left-over food) and non-bio degradable (plastics, glass and other materials). If this is practis-ed, it will be quite helpful for the City Corporation to dispose of the solid wastes in accordance with the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules.
Bio-medical waste is the other major environmental problem. Government and private hospitals should dispose the waste properly, but some hospitals dispose the bio-medical wastes like syringes, used glucose bottles, bandages, cotton swabs, out-dated medicines directly outside, in the open garbage. This is a dangerous practice as this will get easily mixed with the regular domestic wastes which are picked by the rag-pickers.
Even traffic signal lights too cause air pollution. Whenever the vehicles stop at the traffic signals, majority of the drivers press the accelerator to keep the engine running, emitting more smoke from the vehicles resulting in increasing air pollution. Changing of traffic lights should be managed scientifically; the waiting time at the traffic signals should be reduced so that vehicles can pass without waiting for a second signal.
The subways, work on which is underway, will also ease the traffic problem. All these will result in a smooth flow of traffic, thereby minimising air pollution, Raju added.
KSPCB is conducting regular awareness programmes in schools, colleges, NSS camps, and in industries to educate the public on keeping a check on pollution. During awareness campaigns, people are provided with more information related to safe disposal of all types of wastes, environmental rules and regulations, role of public to protect environment and pollution levels in the city.
KSPCB also conducts the monitoring of ambient air in city every month for 24 hours twice a week. There are two conventional ambient air quality monitoring centers in Mysore — one located at K.R.Circle and the other at Hebbal, an industrial area. The K.R. Circle unit measures the pollution level caused by vehicular traffic while the one at Hebbal measures industrial pollution.
How it works
These monitoring centers measure the amount of suspended particles in the air like Respirable Suspended Particulate (RSP) Concentration and Total Suspended Particles (TSP) whether it is above or below the ambient levels. They also measure toxic fumes emitted from vehicles like Sulphur dioxide, Nitrous Oxide, Carbon dioxide and Carbon monoxide. This constant display of air quality will create awareness among the public.
The parameters will be analysed for particulate matter (PM), SO2 & NOx, the results will be compared with National Ambient Air Quality Standards and submitted to the Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi.
Annual Results observed at KR Circle (vehicle pollution*)
Year SO2 Nox RSPM SPM Standard 60 60 60 140
2004-05 11 20 51 91
2005-06 22 34 52 92
2006-07 16 22 48 93
2007-08 14 19 46 85
Annual Results observed at Hebbal (Industries)
Standard 80 80 80 360
2004-05 11 21 45 80
2005-06 21 34 41 76
2006-07 15 23 39 81
2007-08 13 19 38 76
* Figures are in micrograms per cubic metre.

[Friday 26th June 2009]

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a problem suffered by many people who spend hours together in front of a computer screen. The need to concentrate for a long period while using the computer has led to various eye related problems like - dryness in cornea, weakness, strain and sore in eyes, blurred vision, red eyes and sometimes eye ulcer too with headaches, neck, shoulder or back pain and much more, causing physical tiredness and decreasing the work efficiency.
Speaking to Star of Mysore, Ophthalmic Surgeon Dr. K.L. Narayana Murthy of Murthy Eye Hospital said that "Sitting position in front of the computer is very much important. Make sure the monitor should be placed below eye level and tilt the screen perpendicularly to a distance of 30 degree, with a comfortable sitting position and arms should be parallel to the floor of keyboard when you type, and your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footstool, keeping your back straight and your shoulders back with a right support and comfort" (See Picture).
"Dry eye is a major symptom in the CVS, as the glare of the computer enters the retina, causing eye-related problems. Proper rest to the eye and its muscles are needed to relieve eye from strain, but most of them catch up their sleep while traveling and ignore the eye health because of the financial gains. The important thing is to keep the eye moist."
"The normal blink rate of human eye is 18-20 times per minute but while focusing on computer screen, one's blinking rate is reduced to 5-6 times per minute which is harmful. The reduce in blinking rate up to an extent of 60-70 per cent will give rise to cornea dryness, irritation, itching, blurred symptoms etc." added Dr. Narayana Murthy.
He also said that CVS problems are found more in professionals working in IT-related fields for more than 12 to 14 hours a day without any break. They will experience more vision syndrome problems, strain, tiredness in the eyes and muscles.
Most of the parents complain that their children play games in the computer for a long time and that's reason they get headache, itching and irritation in eyes. According to Dr. Murthy, there is no harm to the eyes if we sit in front of computer for a long time with a proper position and a regular break.
Everyone will not have a vision problem; one who is already having an error in the eyesi-ght may be affected more than a normal person.
Use potted plants in AC room: "If we sit in an air-conditioned room, after sometime, dryness in air increases, decreasing the moisture level. To increase the moisture level in AC room, potted plants can be used. If there is a significant increase in eye dryness, consult a doctor and use artificial tears or eye drops which may be used during the day", he added.
"Many people think that using carrot, tomatoes, peppers, eggs, green leafy vegetables, fruits and vegetables containing beta carotene, mangoes and peaches will increase the eyesight level, but they are used for 'Vitamin A' deficiency which causes night blindness", says Dr. Murthy.
Some suggestions to computer users:
According to Dr. Murthy, the best ways to get over the vision syndrome problem are:
* Blinking often with a frequent break for 20-25 minutes.
* Focusing on far away objects from the computer for a period of 8-10 seconds.
* Closing eyes for a minute and relaxing.
* Not viewing the computer screen from closer distance.
* Positioning the computer screen (30 degree) far from eyes.
* Adjusting the chair for the correct height.
* Wearing computer glasses (bifocals or progressive lenses).
* Getting regular checkups.
* Proper lighting also reduce eye related problems.
* Neck should be downwards as shown in the picture.
[Wednesday 2nd July 2008]

Intricate Chittara paintings by Shimoga artist

National award winner Hasuvanthe Ishwar Naik, hailing from Sagar, Shimoga district, is imparting training in traditional Chittara painting at Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS) under the 'Do & Learn' series. The 10-day training programme, which began on Dec. 22, will conclude tomorrow. SOM had a tête-à-tête with the awardee. Excerpts:
Chittaras are wall paintings done by tribal women of Malnad Deevaru community for special occasions such as weddings, festivals and other auspicious days portraying flora, fauna and natural environs.
The lines and patterns on these paintings each symbolise an aspect of nature or depict the religious, social or agricultural practices of the community. They show the scenes of daily village life, their ceremonies, deities, birds of the region and the toys children play with.
"For the women of Deevaru community, Chittara paintings are a source of great joy and creativity. They are proud of their tradition, socially-bound and culturally integrated by unique customs and ritualistic practices. The painting is a compulsory decoration in all houses of the community. We use natural colours, getting them from barks of trees, rocks, minerals and vegetables. For red colour we use fine red mud, for white- rice flour and for black, burnt rice floor," said Ishwar who learnt this art from his mother.
"We also make decorative artifacts with the characteristic Chittara motifs on them like the butti (cane baskets plastered with red mud), pen stands (made of bamboo), madake (clay pots), torans (door hangings made of dried paddy), hidi (small broom made of hittade grass), sibala (baskets made of hittade grass), pettige (small box), irike (doughnut shaped ring of woven grass), eechala chaape (palm mat) etc., adds Ishwar Naik who has done his Diploma in Theatre Art from Ninaasam.
"I was very much interested in Chittara paintings and made it my profession in 1998. I also started Chittara Chawadi, an association to train tribal and other women. I hope Chittara will continue to grow not just on mud-plastered walls of the villages but also on the walls of urban homes," adds Ishwar who has won the National Award for Master Craftsperson and Weavers (1998-99), presented in New Delhi.
"This design can be created on lac, wood and marketed to urban buyers. I have trained more than 200 students in Mysore. Our efforts have been worthwhile, thanks to IGRMS which has encouraged me to hold exhibition of Chittara paintings," says Ishwar.
He may be contacted over Mob: 94492-05209 or 94819-35579.
[Wednesday 30th December 2009]

Craft Mela unfurls at Urban Haat

With Christmas at the doorsteps and New Year approaching round the corner, the season of festivals has just begun. And the season brings with it the joys of gifting and receiving gifts, as is the tradition. Choosing the right kind of gift is an art in itself, not to mention the fun associated with it.
Artisans from all over India are showcasing their authentic handloom and handicraft creations at an exclusive Crafts Mela at JSS Mysore Urban Haat in Hebbal Industrial Area, providing ample choices of gift items for the festivities.
More than 40 artisans from about 20 States are participating in the 17-day exhibition where Santa Claus with Christmas tree, lamps, purses decorated with brass artefacts, stars, chocolates including Rajastani jewellery, silk sarees, salwar kameez, kurthas, stone jewellery, zari embroidery dress materials, bronze statues, Tanjore paintings, purely vegetable-dyed bed sheets, banana-fibre carpets, bangles and wooden furniture of Rajasthan and many more items from other places are on display.
Also, attractive polki sets, studded with stone and beads, silver jewellery, artificial flower creepers, lacquer jewellery, leather bags, brassware, traditional paintings, toys and other handicrafts are on display-cum-sale at the exhibition which is open for public from 10 am to 9 pm till January 3.
Exquisite brass purses
Amidst the colourful array of handicrafts is the unique stall of Afsar Khan. He is very much enthused to display his rare gift items made of brass. “We have come from Delhi. We are selling purses made out of brass. These are all handmade products, which we make traditionally,” said Afsar Khan and expressed his joy at exhibiting his talent in the Palace City. “I was very much inspired by my uncle who was making the craft and learnt the art from him. In the initial days, I learnt to cut the brass sheet, then molding, burning the sheet and giving a finishing. Now, I make purses, handbags of big size with variety of designs too,” added Afsar.
Bronze idols
Shivannachar from Bangalore offers exquisite bronze handicraft idols of gods and goddesses, which are easy to clean. These idols form a beautiful adornment for homes as well as offices. “With a team of pivotal craftsmen, we create these highly innovative masterpieces which requires least maintenance,” says Char.
Mud lamps
Even though in today’s era electric lights have substituted terracotta clay lamps (diya), Murugan from Kerala is showcasing traditional clay lamps of different styles and hues. He learnt it by his own interest and desires to create new designs. He has also displayed different types of candles.
Colorful aura of Rajasthan
The traditionally ethnic spectrum of Rajasthan’s handicraft heritage was on display, showcasing a dazzling form of colors and textures. Though there is a wood paucity in Rajasthan, the artisan Thyagaraj from Rajasthan is displaying carved wooden sculptures, carved doors, fretted screen windows and so on.
Chennapatna wood toys
Faiyaz from Chennapatna is displaying exquisite colourful wood toys which are manufactured in the town of Channapatna. Traditionally, the work involves decorating the wood of Aale mara (ivory-wood).
“We are a family of toymakers. I learnt this from my father. Our entire family has been working on making toys. We also make saada bombe, that is simple dolls without frills.
"Earlier, people used to work on hand lathes in their homes and then we would go to the toy emporiums for selling the products. Now, things have changed and are more streamlined, as we take final finishings from factories. Our city is also famous as Gombegala Ooru (toy-town) of Karnataka," adds Faiyaz with pride in his voice.
Tanjore painting
Bharanidharan, a dexterous artiste from Tamil Nadu, has an immense interest in traditional Tanjore paintings and has displayed more than 70 of his collections. He says he had learnt the art barely five years ago and feels happy to exhibit his talent in city. He is also interested in imparting knowledge for those interested.
Leather handbags
The beautifully designed leather bags are a perfect symbol of today’s fashion. "Made from superior quality leather, our bags are known for their vivid patterns and style quotient. The front pocket, inside zip section and mobile holder, shoulder strap all are made of soft and high quality leather," says Shabbir of Uttar Pradesh, who is displaying belts, office bags, college bags and purses made of leather.
Naturally dyed colours
The new variety of tie-and-dye prints, traditional zari on the border and motifs that are printed on the towels, bed sheets using natural vegetable colour are also centres of attraction at K.K. Dayalan’s stall who has come all the way from Chittur, Andhra Pradesh, to display his wares.
Polki bangles
Sarika from Delhi has been designing Polki bangles since the past ten years. "To satisfy the exquisite taste of customers, we create excellent Polki bangles, kundan bracelets and necklaces."
Entrance to the expo is free. For more details, contact Mob: 94482-68178.
[Wednesday 23rd December 2009]

Karnataka State Open University imparts edn. to 1 lakh students

The Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), Mysore, was established on 1st June 1996. Its Distance Education System provides ample opportunities for higher education to all from their place of work or residence.
To achieve the objectives of Distance Education, the University has established Regional Centres / Study Centres in various parts of Karnataka State.
Good news for distant learners: KSOU which is in the process of establishing a “virtual university” has currently an enrolment of 1 lakh students. It is providing (selected courses) study materials in the form of softcopies (CDs) from the current academic year. SOM recently had a tête-à-tête with KSOU Academic Dean Prof. Jagadeesha. Excerpts:
What is the significance of Open Distance Learning (ODL) system in accelerating higher education?
Open Distance Learning system facilitates expansion of higher education in India. In 1998, 6.5% of the total population could get access to higher education. In 2005 the rate shot up to 9.5 % and at present it is 12%. The government of India has committed to increase it to 25% by 2015. A growth rate of 25% in higher education, apart from other factors, will help turning our country into a super power as envisaged by the former President of India Dr. A P J Kalam.
The higher education scenario in the USA is 75%, Japan 70% and China 69%. Comparatively, India, with its rich potential in terms of human resource, needs to accelerate the rate of higher education.
The genesis of ODL in India?
ODL system commenced way back in 1969. The erstwhile Institute of Correspondence Course and Continuous Education ICC & CE (now KSOU) was a pioneer institute in India. During the same period, British Open University also came into existence. Considering the paramount importance of ODL, the government of India started nourishing it through the New Education Policy during the regime of the then Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi.
The first Open University, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University, was established in the country in 1982. Central Open University, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) was started in 1986. As on today there are 14 open Universities in the country including KSOU.
How imperative is the Dean Academic office in Open University?
Office of the Dean Academic plays a crucial role in maintaining the quality standards of academic programme launched by the open universities. This office is the brain of the university as it revises the syllabus and the study materials periodically as per the requirements of the society. At KSOU, all the programmes are credit based as prescribed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the academic programmes of Universities are acceptable all over.
How can the government increase the higher education percentage?
The grants by State and Central governments need to be given equal importance both for the conventional and the open universities.
Recently, there were confronting issues leading to unprecedented developments with regard to Open University degrees in the country?
ODL system has grown in India. Deemed, Private and Conventional universities are all in a race to launch distance mode of education. It is the foremost duty of all the institutes to ensure the quality standards. But few institutions have flouted the quality and standards hence the products of ODL system in general are given second rate. Ministry of Human Resource Development has taken serious note of it.
The Distance Education Council (DEC) prescribing quality and standards in the ODL system has sorted out many issues. As of now, there is no confusion. The students who seek to pursue higher education by distance mode need to ensure that whether the institute / University have the recognition of Distance Education Council, New Delhi.
The Karnataka Administrative Tribunal case no 1956 of 1999 in its ruling and the University Grants Commission circular N0.F.1-52/2000(CPP-11) have clearly stated that ODL degrees with DEC recognition are to be treated on par with Conventional degrees. KSOU is recognised by DEC for its entire academic programmes up to 2013.
The recent academic developments of KSOU
In the wake of globalization and keeping in view the fast changing environment, Open Universities, including KSOU, have accordingly started many professional and technical courses to cope with the challenges. In the beginning there were only 20 programmes with the total student strength of 15,000, today there are 46 in-house and total 162 academic programmes offered in collaboration with partnership institutions with the student enrolment increasing to one lakh.
MBA, MLiSc, MCJ, MEd, MCA, MScIT, are the programmes offered; besides the University is offering collaborative programmes. Programmes on Fire technology, Aviation, Carpentry, Weaving, Craft, Pottery, Diploma in fine arts, Diploma in Theatre offered by Rangayana, design and sculpture are also being offered. KSOU has signed MoU with the Agriculture University, Bangalore and is offering courses to farmers at a nominal fee. For students who are planning to make a career out of their creativity, these courses will help to enhance artisan’s knowledge by lending a professional touch.
How are study materials prepared?
Experts have been appointed to prepare study material. We are committed to conveying complex ideas clearly with well illustrated teaching material that excites the interest of students. The study materials which are created to help students are in the form of books. But, now to help the students the study materials of some courses are also provided in the form of CDs. These interactively designed CDs help the students by providing the total information that they need.
Whenever we launch new courses, we constitute a course team of experts with outside consultants and prepare the study materials with latest information. Our textbooks are widely used in teaching across the country and internationally and we pride our- selves in producing courses which are innovative and accessible.
[Monday 21st December 2009]

TB awareness is the need of the hour

Tuberculosis, abbreviated as TB, is a contagious and common disease which spreads through air. It is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the primary cause of TB. It is an aerobic bacterium which multiplies in an extremely slow rate of every 16 to 20 hours, while other bacteria usually divide in less than an hour.
Tuberculosis most commonly attacks the lungs but can also affect the central nervous system, circulatory system, lymphatic system, genitourinary system, bones, joints and even the skin. All parts of the body can be affected, though it rarely affects the heart, skeletal muscles, pancreas and thyroid.
There are two major types of Tuberculosis:
Pulmonary Tuberculosis (PTB): This is a primary infection of tuberculosis, usually occur in children. PTB mainly involves the lungs but it may spread to other organs. The symptoms include chest pain, coughing up of blood and prolonged cough for more than three weeks and include fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss and often fatigue.
Extrapulmonary Tuberculosis (EPTB): This is secondary tuberculosis seen mostly in adults. EPTB does not occur in the lungs but affects other parts such as neck, bones, joint, spine, gastro-intestinal tract, uterus, abdomen and urinary bladder causing headache, swelling, neurological dysfunction etc.
Speaking to Star of Mysore, Superintendent of PKTB & CD Hospital Dr. Y. Laxman said, “The person who is infected with TB expel the TB germs called bacilli from their mouth while speaking, coughing, breathing out, yawning, sneezing or spitting. They also expel infectious aerosol droplets. When someone inhales these bacilli, they are also infected with TB; the chances are more when the resistance power of the person is weak.” (See picture).
“TB is a disease caused by micro-organisms. Once the organism enters the body, the immune system of the body resists. In my case, as my resistance is good, I can overcome the infection. If my body resistance becomes weak, then the organism will gain upper hand by spreading infection throughout the body. The chances are more in a person who is HIV positive or who is a habitual smoker. TB associated HIV is more prevalent. Otherwise the rate of infection would have come down. According to recent studies, diabetes also increases the risk of tuberculosis. Everyday 60 to 75 patients undergo TB diagnosis, out of which nearly 50 patients are found infected. Overall, one-third of the world’s population is infected with the TB at any time,” says Dr. Laxman.
“TB is most commonly spread from a patient who is left untreated to those who share the same living or working space. A patient who is not treated for tuberculosis will infect 10-15 people per year. The probability of transmission of disease depends upon the number of infectious droplets released by the infected person,” he added.
“Once a patient is diagnosed with TB, the treatment box will come in the particular patient’s name for six months. It’s completely free. TB requires long-term treatment, from 6 to 12 months to completely eliminate the bacteria from the body. In case if the patient is transferred to some other place, there is no need to carry the tablet, wherever he goes the tablet box will be sent to the nearby DOT centre where he is transferred. The patient will be given a card and he can take the medicine from the DOT centre,” he added.
Dr. Laxman said, “After the implementation of TB programme (DOT) we are avoiding the admission of patients into the hospital. Only complicated cases like blood in the cough, chest pain or life-threatening cases are admitted."
District Health and Family Welfare Officer Dr. Anand said, “TB rate has come down due to the implementation of Directly Observed Therapy (DOT), a Nationalised Programme which was implemented in India in 1992. But in Karnataka it came into existence in 1996 and later on it was implemented in Mysore in 2003. It is a short term course. In this therapy, a health care worker will look after the person who is infected with TB”.
A TB patient should take medicines for at least 6 to 8 months, but more than one-third of the pa-tients discontinue the treatment when they feel better or they may forget to take their medicines. Once they do this, the patients may fall sick again and the TB germs become resistant to the medicines which can lead to Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) which is extremely difficult to treat and takes a long time for cure.
Hence, the World Health Organisation (WHO) came out with a novel programme with an intention to eradicate the disease which is known as DOT. This center helps a TB patient to complete his treatment by providing medicines in time as well as it makes the patient to consume the drug in front of them, Dr. Anand added.
Mysore city has five DOT centers. Every DOT center covers a population of one lakh. DOT centre volunteers will give the tablets thrice a week, the patients should go to the nearby centre and swallow the drugs in front of volunteers.
The volunteers keep the record of the patients and in case if the patients do not turn up for the medicine, the volunteers will go to their house and create awareness regarding the ill effects of discontinuing the medicines.
“Our main motto is to reduce the rate of TB patients to 1 per million before 2050, which is currently 2000 per million. To reach the task we are going all out in our effort”, said Dr. Anand.
DOT centers also arrange community meetings. In this they interact with people and create awareness about the disease. They inform people that TB does not indicate mortality and make them to realise about HIV; if HIV rate is low TB can be controlled. They examine the people whom they suspect and collect the sputum sample.
Sputum examination and treatment are free of cost at DOT centre. The presence of DOT has been felt in the society and the cases are more day by day. The cure rate is also nearly 81% which is really a good sign. Awareness among people about the importance of DOT centres is increasing.
For more information contact the District Health Centre: 0821-2442669.
How can we avoid TB?
• One should maintain a good resis-
tance power by keeping themselves healthy.
• Using proper protective equipment, like TB masks and gowns to prevent the inhalation of infected droplets exhaled in from the air.
• Those who are in high-risk situations are the people who work in hospitals, the homeless and prison inmates; these should undergo a TB test annually.
• By preventing HIV.
Designated Microscopic Centers (DMC) in Mysore District
Mysore: 1. DTC 2. PKTB 3. Mysore Medical College (Krh) 4. Jss Medical College 5. Central Hospital
T.N. Pura: 1. T. Narasipura GH 2. Bannuru 3. Talakad 4. Sosale 5. Keelanapura
H.D. Kote : 1. H.D.Kote Govt. Hospital (GH) 2. Saraguru 3. Vivekananda Hospital 4. Antharasante 5. M.C.Tholalu
K.R. Nagar: 1. KR Nagar GH 2. Hosur 3. Saligrama 4. Yelawala 5. Gavadagere
Hunsur: 1. Hunsur GH 2. Hanagodu 3. Belikere 4. Periyapatna GH 5. Bylukuppe 6. Bettadapura 7. Ravandur
Nanjangud: 1. Nanjangud. GH 2. Hosakote TQ 3. Hullahalli 4. Tagaduru 5. Jayapura
[Wednesday 6th August 2008]

Crafts Bazaar: A visual feast for the eyes

Colourful Lambani mirror and beadwork, embroidered patchwork outfit in earthy colours, graceful bamboo swings, jewellery, clay and terracotta murals..... these and much more are on display in ‘Crafts Bazaar’ at the JSS Urban Haat on Ring Road in Hebbal.
This unique Crafts Bazar will conclude tomorrow (Feb.7) and is open from 10 am to 9 pm.
With more than a 150 master craftspersons demonstrating live the uniqueness of traditional handicrafts, this crafts bazar will make the visitor a time-traveller who crosses cultures and crafts with ease.
Star of Mysore had a tete-a-tete with some of these master craftsmen: Here are a few excerpts:
The diversity of the people, the influences of many cultures from the time of Rig Vedic people to the extraordinary multiculturalism that existed during the reigns of the great kings have produced an equally bewildering diversity of arts and crafts.
Harveer Singh from Ghaziabad, Delhi, gives demonstration of the versatility of his bamboo swing. Says Harveer: "These swings are made from the high-quality bamboo woods. The frame of the swing is constructed of bamboo. The handles are also made of bamboo without knots and as wide as a person's palm. The swing's platform is constructed close enough to the ground so that players can climb on with ease. While choosing bamboo swings customers must choose the right kind of bamboo. For example young bamboo will be weak, while old bamboo is less elastic and tends to break”.
“I have been doing this work from the past seven years and I take three days to prepare one bamboo swing and the range starts from Rs. 8,000,” says Harveer, who is on his first visit to the city.

Physically challenged C.A. Chidambaram from Chennai and a recipient of a gold medal is exhibiting his Silk Cocoon handicrafts. He has displayed more than 175 types of garlands of different sizes and designs that are as varied like silk gifts, bud gift cones, bouquets, silk flower pots and vase decorators, silk hair bands and many more.
"I create fashionable handicrafts using waste silk cocoons. These last longer and I use vegetable dyes to colour them. Being handicapped I took this profession as a challenge and I have trained more than 30,000 women all over India in the past 16 years. I am also a guest faculty tutor for CSR&TI-Mysore and SERIFED-Kerala”, says Chidambaram who is imparting free training for mentally retarded and physically handicapped persons with a concept ‘Wealth from Waste’. He may be contacted over Mob: 90087-18403.
Eye-catching earrings made out of sparkling pieces of mirror, cowries shells, attractive anklets, necklaces, plastic strip bangles invites the viewer at Ratnanu Behan stalls. Ratnanu Behan from Gujarat shows off her Rabari embroidery handicrafts which Lambani women use. Mirrors of various shapes and sizes are used and are sewn in intricate patterns. Ratnanu Behan is an expert in inserting the tiniest of mirrors in the embroidery. She says the Lambanis have a distinctive way of using these brightly coloured clothes and this heritage should not be lost.
Clay artifacts are Kantharaju's specialty. Kantharaju from Chan-narayapatna has displayed beautiful models and murals at his stall. The murals are in a variety of sizes and prices start from Rs. 250.
"Using two-three types of mud (different colours) I have created these designs, no colour is added. To add balck colour to murals, I add smoke to the mud. The mixture is heated in a kiln at 1,210 degree Celsius to give the sheen and hardness,” says Kantharaju who has designed and created attractive murals.
Then checkout Jayaprakash's stall. Jayaprakash is from Puttur and is exhibiting ceramic lamps, mud pots to store vegetables; bed sheets; picture frames; lamp shades and wall hangings which will jazz up the décor of your house.
“Ceramic lamps are fast replacing the traditional mud lamps as they are easy for maintenance and oil consumption is less. The lamps come in various designs, including multi-layered ones”, says Jayaprakash. Mysore and Bangalore are the main centers for rose wood carving. Most of the carvers use temple and palace motifs that are ornate and aesthetic.
Adil and Faisal are Mysoreans and have been rosewood carvers for many years and have themselves learnt the art from master carvers. Rosewood furniture and rosewood elephants are always in demand both in India and in the international market.

Circus: Behind the glitter

Are you eager to see the risky escapades and stunts of artistes and get exhilarated? Gemini Circus is back in city after a long gap of six years with its colourful artistes, animals and a seemingly glittering life; you would love to be in their shoes.
This Weekend Star Supplement peeps into the lives of the performers behind the stage who put their lives in danger and risk at every point to entertain and thrill us.
‘Circus is our home’
The Gemini International Circus was founded by Moorkoth Vengakandy Shankaran, popularly known as Gemini Shankarettan, along with K. Sahadevan on Aug 15, 1951. The maiden performance of Gemini Circus was held on Aug 15, 1951 in Billimoria town, Gujarat.
He led our country’s delegation to the World Circus festival held in 1964, in Moscow and Yalta. The entire delegation was given diplomatic visas by the Govt. of India.
Shankaran was also a partner in Apollo, Vahini and Grand Jumbo Circus. He started the Jumbo Circus on Oct. 2, 1977. During the year 1953, T.K. Kunhikkanan and K.S. Menon joined the Gemini circus as partners. After two years, K.S. Menon left and started his own circus. Shankaran’s eldest son Ajay Shankar is the Managing Partner of Jumbo, Gemini and The Great Royal Circus. His younger son Ashok Shankar is also a partner of Jumbo, Gemini and The Great Royal Circus.
Famous Raj Kapoor movie Mera Naam Joker was picturised in Gemini Circus.
A circus is a traveling company of performers. It includes acrobats, clowns, animals, trapeze acts, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artistes. The word also describes the performance that they give, which is usually a series of acts that are choreographed to music. A circus is held in an oval or circular arena called a ring with tiered seating around its edge; in the case of traveling circuses this location is most often a large tent called the big top.
Artistes, animals like elephants, dogs, horses, camels and even birds are the lifeline of a circus. Artistes perform strange antics and acrobatics such as the stunts inside the cage of death, where three motorcycle riders race inside a closed cage, and also a cricket in which four elephants display their batting art.
Craving for the admiration and applause, many youngsters run away from homes or coax their parents and join circus. It is only when they enter the different world of circus, do they understand that behind the glitter there exist a hard-working, perspiring life.

When SOM spoke to a few artistes of Gemini Circus, they shared their hopes and experiences gladly with us.
Shobha Rani, a native of Kerala, has been in circus for the past 30 years and circus is her family. Her husband Babludas from West Bengal has been working in circus from 35 years. She says she met her husband in the circus itself, fell in love & married. They have a daughter who is studying in Kerala.
Recalling her first entry to circus, Shobha says, “I was in school when I first saw the circus and immediately wanted to join it. My father was scared to send me to the circus and tried to scare me saying elephants might trample me but it didn't help. And once I joined, the training was so hard that I wanted to go back home. But in time I got used to it and began to enjoy it."
Shobha and Babludas do many stunts solo and together. Shobha performs 'Skywalk', where she climbs a shaky ladder to the top which is kept on the table 40-50 feet above the ground level, without any safety net.
She stands straight and holds a stick on top of which is balanced four glasses of water with eggs. With a swift move-ment, she breaks the eggs which fall inside the glasses, without losing the balance or toppling the glasses or eggs.
Babludas rides a tiny cycle carrying Shobha on his shoulders. They both say in unison that any artiste will get inspiration to do better only with the claps and appreciation of the audience. They live in the family quarters of the circus camp.
Shobha's ambition after the circus life is to experience the life of a housewife which she had never gotten till now. “After my life in circus, I want to stay in home & look after my daughter just like a normal mother,” she added.
Of special interest in the circus are a group of Tanzanians (picture above) who have arrived in the city on a contract for a period of six months with the Gemini Circus. The 8-member troupe dance, perform gymnastics and play with fire. They swallow the fire, juggle it like a plaything and even snuff it inside their trousers without any apprehension. They even light up a rod and bend beneath it, just 2 ft. from the ground, emerging from other side.
They welcomed us with glee and happily set forth telling about themselves, laughing and joking in their language in the midst of eating food. They say this is the first time they are working for Gemini Circus. Sada, who said she was happy to be in Mysore which is cool, says she has worked in circus for three years. They all say they joined circus because they fell in love with it when they saw the perfor-mances of the artistes in their home country.
Antony, Frankie, Rosie, Omoganga, Siwema and Omari say they loved the res-ponse of the Indian audience which makes them feel encouraged to do better.
Sarita, who is from Nepal, climbs the single swinging rope and climbs to the top with a hand and a leg, all the time swinging. She balances beautifully at a great height. She is married to an performing artiste and is living with her husband and baby at the circus. When asked how she feels when she is at such a great height, she replied laughingly, "At first I would be terrified. But now I feel free and thrilled. I feel light and happy.”
“There is a good response to the circus here. People are coming in good numbers not only from urban areas, but also from rural areas. More-over children enjoy a lot. The applause of the children make us feel happy and proud,” she said smiling.
Many children from Nepal, Assam, Bengal etc. like Ajith and Suraj join circus leaving their studies, opposing their parents. They say they are more interested in earning a living than studying, because they have poor families at home and have to look after their needs.
It is easier to train children who join early because they are very flexible and can perform difficult stunts.
Suman, another cycling artiste who has been presented an award from the circus company for her cycling feat, performs with burning sticks while riding the cycle. Recalling the lyrics “Jeena yaha marna yaha iske siva jaana kaha..” she said she enjoyed working there. “Circus is life for me and the people working here. I am happy with this life,” she added.

Circus is a dying art with diminishing public interest and absolutely no government support except in Kerala where the government offers a pension for retired circus performers. Yet, according to some, there seems to be a lot of takers, especially youngsters. Call it escapism, lure of livelihood, or just plain fascination, but whatever the reason, they seem to enjoy every bit of this art/profession.
A typical day: The day begins at 6.30 am with vigorous practice session upto 11 am. Then it's time for a small nap for those who want it but, for the rest, it's time to get ready for the first show at 1 pm, followed by 4 pm and 7 pm shows.
Shared living: The accommodation is divided into the bachelor's pad, the girls' lodgings and another for those living with the family, with an in-charge for each. The access to the girls' areas is highly restricted. They even dine separately while the boys do so with the family residents at the circus mess.
Apart from the artistes, six elephants, six horses, three camels, 20 dogs, two ostriches, ten Macaw and African bird Kakatoes and three cats also perform along with eight jokers.
Circus Manager Rajendra says the company spends about Rs. 80 thousand a day for food, Rs. 70,000 for artistes and Rs. 20,000 for animals. After having forced to shut down some of its popular acts, including the ones featuring the wild cats, circuses have become less profitable. The average salaries for artistes range from Rs. 4000 to Rs. 8000.
Most circus artistes do not know any other vocation and hesitate to go out searching for other jobs. Circus is all they know.
[oct. 3, 2009]