Tuesday, November 3, 2009

“Iron Lady” Gail Rennetty

Self belief, Confidence, Fighting spirit… which makes her still live in this world!

I recently read an article about one Ms. Gail Rennetty of U.S.A, who was a victim of brittle bone disease and how she fought it. The article is quiet interesting and will definitely boost everyone’s self belief.

When Gail Rennetty was a baby, she cried every time her mother touched her. Gail was suffering from “Osteogenesis Imperfecta” commonly known as “Brittle Bone Disease” because bones break easily, often for little or no apparent reason. Besides brittle bones, the disorder also causes loose joints, respiratory problems and easy bruising. The disorder ranges from mild to severe. Rennetty's is severe.

She had so many broken bones by the time she was 2 months old, police were convinced her mother was a child abuser. Her doctor knew it was a medical problem, not abuse, but still recommended that Rennetty be placed in an institution. He said she would die before she was 30 and never amount to anything. Now at 53, Rennetty is part of the first generation of people with a rare genetic bone disorder.

Rennetty’s father left the family before she was born. Her mother Betty Hancock Rennetty raised Gail and three other daughters "with no help from her father," Gail Rennetty said. The family had to go on welfare, and the Crippled Children's Society paid Rennetty's medical bills.

Just as frustrating are the interruptions the disease causes in her life. After she broke both legs in the third grade, when a student backed into her and knocked one of her crutches out from under her, she wasn't allowed to attend school and was home-schooled until her family moved to East San Jose. She enrolled at Andrew Hill High School, where she graduated with honors. After graduating from San Jose State University, she found work as a rehabilitation counselor and then worked at a phone company - Pacific Telephone/Pacific Bell - from 1981 to 1992.

Despite suffering 100 broken bones in her life, Rennetty graduated summa cum laude from San Jose State University in 1977 and worked full time until 1992, when her body "started giving out." "Not bad for someone who is on crutches or in a wheelchair, is only 3-foot-9 inches - and shrinking - still lives independently and was supposed to have died 30 years ago," Rennetty said with one of her hearty laughs. "Did I mention that I also took care of my blind mother, who had Alzheimer's disease until she broke her hip and had to go into a nursing home in 2004?"

Rennetty still drives, owns a townhouse, does her own cooking, most of her own yard work and cleaning, and is especially proud of her two dogs - Dexter, age 7, a miniature poodle, and Chelsea, age 9, a feisty teacup toy poodle. "I may not be a nice-looking person, but God gave me a brain," said Rennetty, who describes herself as a middle-aged geek who loves exploring the world on her computer.

"This is how I spent most of my toddlerhood," she said, pointing out childhood photos where she was in traction. "San Jose Hospital is pretty much where I grew up." She would break a bone, be placed in traction and then in body casts. In 1960, when she was 6 years old, doctors developed a surgical procedure called rodding, in which metal rods are inserted into bones to keep them straight and reduce the chance of fractures. Rennetty credits that with allowing her to live to middle age. "That's why I didn't die in my 20s," she said. "Before, you'd be breaking all of these bones, and couldn't get up, and die of pneumonia."

Her favorite accomplishment happened in childhood, when skateboarding was really in style. A friend of her mother's built a side-skateboard with a seat for Rennetty. "I sat on it and had sponges I grabbed and would push forward. A friend was doing something and made me laugh, and I crashed into a wall and broke my ankle." When she went to the doctor, he asked, "How did that happen?" Rennetty yelled: "Skateboarding!" Just like everyone else.

While she is still able to live independently, she has orthopedic problems that people in their 80s would have. She developed osteoporosis in her late 40s and her back started curving even more. In recent years, the number of fractures has increased."If you saw an X-ray of my spine, it would look like a letter S that somebody sat on," she said. "I sit on the side of my pelvis. I would be a foot taller if my back were straighter."

"I have been called feisty, I have been called strong-willed, and one of my co-workers called me an instigator," she said. Rennetty calls herself a survivor. She loves sharing her townhouse with her dogs, Chelsea and Dexter. She also loves music and reading - the Bible and 19th-century literature. Her favorite TV show is "Jeopardy," and when she was able to afford cable, she loved watching the Animal Planet channel.

Rennetty says "I just keep on going, like a Timex. Self pity is a waste of time."

Reference :

Tamil Magazine “Puthia Thalaimurai” issue dated 29th October 2009.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nandhakumar - How he overcame Dyslexia

I happened to buy a newly launched Tamil Weekly Magazine “Puthiya Thalaimurai” (New Generation). The editor of this magazine is Mr. Malan (Narayanan). Malan is the Editor of Sun News. The pricing is attractive at Rs.5/- per issue which hits the stands every Friday. The quality and content of the weekly is damn good. It covers a wide array of topics like success stories, self improvement, motivation, business etc., etc., Any Tamil magazine you buy half the content will be film based however I was surprised to not to find an iota of film news in this magazine. I strongly recommend you to buy this magazine.

I tried to translate one such article which talks about one Mr. Nandhakumar who was suffering from Dyslexia and how he overcame through his efforts. Hope you will find it interesting. Here we go..

Nandhakumar spent his childhood days at Avadi near Chennai. He did not like to go school and whatever he read nothing was getting registered in his mind. Studying was a big struggle for him. He discontinued his studies after sixth standard. He was suffering from Dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that manifests itself primarily as a difficulty with reading and spelling. It is separate and distinct from reading difficulties resulting from other causes, such as a non-neurological deficiency with vision or hearing, or from poor or inadequate reading instruction. Although dyslexia is thought to be the result of a neurological difference, it is not an intellectual disability. Dyslexia is diagnosed in people of all levels of intelligence: below average, average, above average, and highly gifted.

Whatever a school drop-out will do like selling of lottery tickets, assistant in video shop, working in mechanic work shop for hours together , working in Xerox shop etc., Nandhakumar was also not an exception to these and was working without any aim about the future.

Nandhakumar was having two younger sisters and one younger brother. Though the family had no financial problem surprisingly all the three younger ones also discontinued their studies after their Sixth Standard. All the four children were treated badly by the people around and were not even included in playing games with other children of their area citing that their children too will become like them. Even the relatives too joined in degrading them.

Like Buddha got enlightened, based on an idea of one of his friend Nandhakumar started pursuing eight standard through private institute. He successfully completed his Eight Standard. Later he finished Tenth Standard also through private. He then thought of joining the regular school but none of the schools gave him admission. Again he decided to go private and finished his Twelfth standard (+2). After finishing Twelfth he decided to join a regular college to study graduation. But even here he faced lot of resistance in getting an admission but somehow he managed to join Ambedkar College at Vyasarpadi near Chennai for B.A. Literature.
After his graduation he did is P.G. in Literature. In addition to his studies he also enrolled in NCC.

He did not had any plans after finishing his P.G. Since he was participating in N.C.C. activities he was thinking to join Army and joined Officers Training Academy for enrolling himself in the Army. However due to an accident he had to discontinue that also. At that point time he came to know about the Civil Service exams. He used to think that for I.A.S or I.P.S one has to study for many years. However when he came to know that to get selected in the Civil Service clearing the Entrance is sufficient, he decided to have a try. He started preparing for the Civil Service Exams.

A person who was neglected by many and not even given admission in schools and colleges is now an IRS (Indian Revenue Service) Officer and holding a high post and managing an important portfolio at the Revenue Department in Chennai.

Now over to Nandhakumar

“I am amazed to find myself in this position after my school dropout. Suddenly I became interested in studying and whatever I am today is the result of my sincere efforts. The present education system is having a defect that it only produces mere learners does not make people intellectuals. The system should be overhauled to make student enjoy their studies rather than just mugging and learning. When I was preparing for the Civil Service Exams I found that whatever I have already read in my regular studies were only getting repeated. Some people are having misconception about the Civil Service Exams thinking that one has to pursue like higher education. It is only an entrance test and many people should write this exam without fear. After the sixth pay commission implementation now the salary is also attractive. Slowly I have also overcome the problem of dyslexia. Also all the younger one in my house have completed their studies and now all of them are working as lecturers.”

A sixth standard drop-out with dyslexia to rise from that situation to an IRS officer is indeed really a great achievement. Nandhakumar has set an example that despite many odds if one puts sincere efforts one can achieve his goal.


Tamil Magazine “Puthiya Thalaimurai” issue dated 22nd October 2009.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Venky Ramakrishnan-Nobel prize Winner

You will be surprised find that the Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Venky Ramakrishnan goes to his office in a bicycle even now. Quiet surprising isn’t it? Please read on to know more about him.

The Swedish Nobel Committee recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Dr. Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who is currently affiliated with the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, for his work on protein-producing ribosomes, and its translation of DNA information into life. He will share the Prize with Dr Thomas Steitz of Yale University, Connecticut, and Dr Ada Yonath of Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Venky was born in the temple town of Chidambaram in Tamilnadu in 1952. He moved to Baroda in Gujarat at the age of three where he had his schooling. Both his parents, father C.V. Ramakrishnan and mother Rajalakshmi, were scientists and taught biochemistry at the Maharaj Sayajirao University until they retired in the eighties. Venky did his undergraduate studies at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda on a National Science Talent Scholarship graduating with a B.Sc. in Physics in 1971. After graduation he moved to U.S.A., where he obtained his Ph.D. in Physics from Ohio University in 1976.

The Research Work

The practical importance of Dr Ramakrishnan's work arises from ribosomes being present in all living cells, including those of bacteria. Human and bacterial ribosomes are slightly different, making the ribosome a good target for antibiotic therapy that works by blocking the bacteriums ability to make the proteins it needs to function. Ramakrishnan, Steitz and Yonath demonstrated what the ribosome looks like and how it functions at an atomic level using a visualisation method called X-ray crystallography to map the position of each of the hundreds of thousands of atoms that make up the ribosome, according to the MRC Labs.

The Nobel citation explained, “This year's three Laureates have all generated 3D models that show how different antibiotics bind to the ribosome. These models are now used by scientists in order to develop new antibiotics, directly assisting the saving of lives and decreasing humanity's suffering.”

Scientists say growing knowledge of the ribosome has created targets for a new generation of antibiotics. The instruction manual for the creation of proteins is DNA, but the ribosome is the machine which takes information transcribed onto messenger RNA and turns it into proteins. Elaborating, the MRC said Dr Ramakrishnan's basic research on the arrangement of atoms in the ribosome has allowed his team not only to gain detailed knowledge of how it contributes to protein production but also to see directly how antibiotics bind to specific pockets in the ribosome structure.

An interesting article on Venky’s Nobel prize as appeared in TOI is reproduced.

SEATTLE: Aside the obligatory stories of initial disbelief on being informed that he had won the Nobel Prize (“Is this a crank call? Good Swedish Venkatraman Ramakrishnan's family accent you have there!”), there was the family drama – or lack of it – when the news sank in.

Venkatraman “Venky” Ramakrishnan (“Ambi” to family) figured it was too early to call his father and sister in Seattle, where it was 2 a.m. local time, to tell them the good news. His daughter Tanya, a physician in Portland, Oregon, was in the same time zone, and his son Raman, a professional cellist, was traveling on the road and incommunicado. Why, he could not even tell his wife Vera, because she was out walking in their Cambridge neighborhood and she did not have a cell phone. Yeah, that is typical of the family. The Nobel winner does not own a car and rides a bicycle to work.

But back in Seattle, Prof C.V.Ramakrishnan’s phone started ringing off the hook at 2 a.m. because son Ambi had listed his father’s home as his U.S address. A CBS reporter was the first to call. “Are you sure it’s Venky who has won?” the Prof, himself a distinguished academic (he founded the bio-chem department at Baroda’s M.S.University in 1955), recalls asking. “There are so many Ramakrishnans even in the U.S.” He asked them to call Lalitha, Venky’s sister, a microbiologist at the University of Washington, who lives just down the street from him in Seattle’s university area. She asked the reporter who else had won, even as her husband Mark Troll, a chemist, booted up the computer to check the headlines. Told the names of the American and Israeli co-winners, she sighed, “I guess it’s true. They are his colleagues and rivals in the same field.”

By the time Venky phoned at dawn, they were ahead of the curve. Friends, colleagues, peers, had already been calling from all over the world. The rest of the day passed in a whirl. When your correspondent tootled down to join the family for dinner, the table was overflowing with half-dozen desserts – three that Prof CVR himself had made (mango ice cream, pear ice cream, and shrikand), plus guests bringing in kheer, gulab jamun, and rasmalai. There are no medals, scrolls, or citations in dad’s spare home, but memories and familial annotations of Venky’s genius are rich. There is banter about congratulatory calls from long-forgotten rivals and contemporaries, and jokes about the media scrum. Lalitha’s school-going daughter Maya (Venky’s niece) who’s momentarily rebelled against science in a family steeped in it (she prefers music and fashion) is mulling her career options now, while her brother Rajan looks like keeping the family tradition going as he furiously does his math homework at the dinner table. In fact, looks like it’s the family eco-system, as much as the environment at universities in California, Ohio, Utah, and Cambridge, wich Venky has traversed, that has propelled him to Nobel heights.

His mother, the late Rajalakshmi Ramakrishnan, was his father’s peer and contemporary for much of her academic life, and it was natural that his sister, is daughter, his brother-in-law are all wedded to science. The one exception is Raman, a graduate of Juilliard School of Music and a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, although the exactitude needed of a cello and cellist might also qualify him to be a scientist. On this balmy evening in Seattle, family chatter veers around to what will be Venky’s first priority in spending the Nobel prize money (one-third of $ 1.4 million) – to buy a car or a new cello for Raman, who’s playing with a commonplace $ 12,000 instrument. A good Stradivarius, mind you, can cost as much as $ 200,000. For a Nobel laureate who rides a bicycle to work that should be a no-brainer.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sri C. N. Anna Durai

Today (15th Sep 2009) is Sri. C.N. Annadurai’s Centennial Birthday. It is interesting to find that He was the founder of the DMK and the first Non Congress Chief Minister in India. Please read on to know more..

Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai (15 September 1909 – 3 February 1969), popularly called “Anna” was born on 15 September 1909 in Kanchipuram (then called Conjeevaram), Tamil Nadu, to Natarajan and Bangaru Ammal. His father was a handloom weaver. However he was raised by his sister Rajamani Ammal. He married Rani while he was still a student. The couple had no children of their own hence they later adopted and raised grandchildren of Rajamani Ammal. He attended Pachaiyappa's High School, but soon after due to financial crisis in his family he tentatively gave up his studies and worked as a clerk in the town's Municipal office.
In 1934, he graduated with a B.A. degree (Hons) from Pachaiyappa's College in Chennai. He followed that up with a M.A degree in Economics and Politics from the same college. He worked as an English teacher in Pachaiyappa High School. Later he quit the teaching job and began involving himself in journalism and politics.


By religion Annadurai was a Hindu. He affirmed his belief in God as one, and humanity as one. He said: Onrae Kulam, Oruvane Thevan. His followers using his example use to raise the slogan, "One race, One god". In an interview he said, "Oh, no. I am always pleading for real faith in God." Annadurai would attack superstitions and religious exploitation but would never fight against spiritual values of society.

Entry into politics

Annadurai's interest in politics made him join the Justice party in 1935. The Justice party was formed by non-Brahmin elites in 1917. Justice party owes its origin to Madras United League which was initially started as a work group that helped non-Brahmin students in Madras with accommodation and later grew into a political party under the efforts of leaders like Sir Pitti Theagaroya Chetty and Dr. T. M. Nair. The party was christened South Indian Liberal Federation (S. I. L. F.) - popularly known as Justice party. The party had been in power in Madras Presidency since self-governance was introduced in 1920, until it was eventually defeated by the Indian National Congress in 1937. By the time Annadurai joined the Justice party Periyar E. V. Ramasami was the party president. Annadurai served as the sub-editor of the Justice magazine.[2] He later became the editor for Viduthalai (Freedom in English) and was also associated with the Tamil weekly Kudi Arusu. He started his own journal Dravida Nadu (named after the Dravida Nadu - an independent state that the party called for). In 1944, Periyar renamed the Justice party to Dravidar Kazhagam and gave up contesting in the elections.

Differences with Periyar and birth of DMK

The Indian National Congress, which had been fighting for the independence of India from the colonial British rule, was dominated by Brahmins. Periyar hence envisaged that independent India would bring South Indians, especially Tamils, under the dominance of Brahmins and North Indians. For these reasons Periyar called for 15 August 1947, the day of Indian independence, to be a day of mourning. Annadurai opposed this move and the schism between his supporters and Periyar widened. He saw the gaining of independence as an overall achievement of India rather than solely that of Aryan North. Moreover Periyar's decision on giving up participating in democratic elections was also opposed by Annadurai for which he walked out in a party meeting in 1948. Periyar considered that contesting in elections will lead to ideological compromises. Moreover, it was Periyar's idea that social reformation can be better achieved outside a political set-up through education and canvassing the masses, rather than governments. Eventually, when Periyar married Maniammai, a lady much younger to him, the personal differences between Annadurai and his supporters with that of Periyar gave way (Periyar was 70 and Mainammai was 30). Annadurai launched his own party with his party fragment, along with E. V. K. Sampath (Periyar's nephew and until then considered his political heir). The new party was christened Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Although Annadurai belonged to the upper Mudaliar caste, he fought for social justice for the lower castes and thus rapidly gained popular support.

Dravida Nadu

During his days in Dravida Kazhagam, Annadurai had supported Periyar's call for an independent Dravida Nadu. The claim for such an independent state stayed alive in the initial days of DMK. E. V. K. Sampath, who had earlier forfeited his heirloom with Periyar to join DMK, saw the call for Dravida Nadu as an unreal goal. Responding to Sampath's concern Annadurai said "We must contest more elections, win more seats and that way, win the confidence of the people; and when it is hot, we can strike and strike hard”. Sampath's opposition in using film stars made him cross swords with many other members of the party. Eventually, with looming differences with Annadurai and other leaders on Dravida Nadu, Sampath left the DMK and formed his own party, the Tamil Nationalist Party, in 1961. In 1962, Annadurai said in the Rajya Sabha that Dravidians want the right of self-determination ... We want a separate country for southern India.
However, the reorganisation of states in India on linguistic basis removed Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam speaking regions from Madras Presidency leaving behind a predominantly Tamil Madras State. Giving in to realities, Annadurai and his DMK changed the call of independent Dravida Nadu for Dravidians to independent Tamil Nadu for Tamils. Annadurai saw that remaining in the Indian Union meant accepting linguistic domination and economic backwardness. Nevertheless, the Sino-Indian war brought about changes in the Indian constitution. The Sixteenth Amendment (most popularly known as the Anti-Secessionist Amendment) banned any party with sectarian principles from contesting with elections. When this amendment was presented in the Parliament of India Annadurai was one of its members. He vehemently debated against the amendment, but eventually could not stop it from being passed. Faced with the new constitutional changes, Annadurai and his DMK left the call for an independent Tamil homeland on the backburner. From then on Annadurai and his DMK aimed at achieving better cooperation between the southern states and claimed more autonomy to Tamil Nadu. On the party's position Annadurai said “To make the Dravidian state a separate state was our ideal. A situation has arisen where we can neither talk nor write about this ideal. Of course we can destroy the party by undertaking to violate the prohibition. But once the party itself is destroyed there will not be any scope for the ideal to exist or spread. That is why we had to give up the ideal.”

Protests in 1953

In 1953, Annadurai directed the DMK to undertake three protests: Against Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, for using derogatory language with reference to leaders of Madras State Against C. Rajagopalachari (or Rajaji), the then chief minister of Madras State, for introducing a new educational system that indirectly encouraged traditional caste-based occupations called Kula Kalvi Thittam. In demand of renaming of Dalmiyapuram as Kallakkudi, its original name, because the name Dalmiyapuram symbolised north Indian domination. He was eventually sentenced to three months imprisonment in this protest.

Anti-Hindi agitations

Hindi was first recommended to be an apt language for official purposes in India by a committee headed by Motilal Nehru in 1928. Since then this move was opposed by people and politicians of Tamil Nadu, since they considered that it would make them second class citizens when compared to that of native Hindi speaking North Indians.

Protests of 1938

In 1938 Congress government in Madras Presidency headed by C. Rajagopalachari (popularly known as Rajaji) proposed the use of Hindi language as a compulsory language in schools. This move was opposed by Tamil leaders. Annadurai along with other Tamil enthusiasts including poet Bharathidasan held demonstrations. Annadurai participated in the first Anti Hindi imposition conference held in Kanchipuram on 27 February 1938. Two members of the protest, Thalamuthu and Natarajan, died as a consequence of police beating the same year. With overwhelming opposition the government of Madras Presidency finally withdrew the order in 1940.

Madras Anti Hindi agitation of 1965

When India became a republic with its own constitution in 1950, the constitution had given special status for Hindi, which was to gain official status after 15 years in 1965. This move was seen with anxiety by students in Tamil Nadu. Speaking of making Hindi as official language of India Annadurai said It is claimed that Hindi should be the common language because it is spoken by the majority. Why should we then claim the tiger as our national animal instead of the rat which is so much more numerous? Or the peacock as our national bird when the crow is ubiquitous?. In view of continued threat to impose Hindi, the DMK held an open-air conference against Hindi imposition at Kodambakkam, Chennai in August 1960, which Annadurai presided over. He gave black flags to leading functionaries, to be shown to the President of India during his visit to the state. Sensing an uprising Prime Minister, Nehru assured in the Parliament that English would continue to be the official language of India, as long as non-Hindi speaking people desire.

Eventually DMK gave up the plan of showing black flags and Annadurai appealed to the Union Government to bring about a constitutional amendment incorporating the assurance.
With no constitutional amendment done, Annadurai declared 26 January 1965, the 15th Republic Day of India and also the day the Constitution, which in essence enshrined Hindi as the official language of India, came into practice, as a day of mourning. This move was opposed by the then Chief Minister of Madras State, Bhakthavatchalam, as blasphemous. Hence Annadurai, who by then had been trying to shake off the secesstionist image of his party, declared 24 January as a day of mourning. He also replaced the slogan of the protests to Down with Hindi; Long live the Republic. Nevertheless, violence broke out on 26 January, initially in Madurai which within days spread throughout the state. Robert Hardgrave Jr, professor of humanities, government and Asian studies, suggests that the elements contributing to the riots were not majorly instigated by DMK or Leftists or even the industrialists, as the Congress government of the state suggested, but were genuine frustrations and discontentment which lay beneath the surface of the people of the state.

With violence surging, Annadurai asked the students to forfeit the protests, but some DMK leaders like Karunanidhi kept the agitations going. Nevertheless, Annadurai was arrested for instigating the agitation. Although the violence were not directly instigated by the DMK, the agitation itself aided DMK to win the 1967 elections and Annadurai became the Chief Minister of Madras State.

Literary contributions

Annadurai was known as one of the best known Tamil orators during his time. He developed a style in Tamil public speaking using metaphors and pleasing alliterations, both in spoken and written language. He has published several novels, short stories and plays with political themes wound around the script. He himself acted in some of his plays during his time in the Dravidar Kazhagam. He introduced movie media as a major organ for propaganda of Dravidian politics. In total Annadurai scripted six screen plays. His first movie Nalla Thambi (Good Brother, 1948) which starred N. S. Krishnan promoted cooperative farming and abolition of zamindari system. His novels such as Velaikari (Servant Maid, 1949) and Orr Iravu, which were later made into movies, carried the hallmarks of propaganda for Dravidian politics. On Velaikari, Annadurai said that the movie “made it clear that greed and avarice of the rich did not pay in the long run.[...] Some of the elementary principles of socialism and stressed that we should depend upon our own labor for our progress and well being and not some unknown factor.” Velaikari made direct references against the suppressive landlords who were traditionally allied with Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi. His movies in general carried the elements of Dravidian political ideologies such as anti-Brahminism and anti Congress messages. Popular stage and cine actors who stood by Anna in early years were D. V. Narayanasamy, K. R. Ramasamy, N. S. Krishnan, S. S. Rajendran, Sivaji Ganesan and M. G. Ramachandran.

Some of the books were also controversial, like "Arya Mayai" (Aryan Illusion) where he scathingly attacks the Brahmin/Aryan combine and portrays them in poor light. He was fined Rs 700 for sedition[30] and was also sent to prison. Some of his well known works are his books Annavin Sattasabai Sorpolivukal (Anna's speeches at the state legislative, 1960), Ilatchiya varalaru (History of Principles, 1948), Valkkaip puyal (Storm of life, 1948) and Rankon rata (Radha from Rangon). His work Kambarasam criticises Ramayana of Kamban. His works of fiction such as Kapothipura kathal (Love in the city of Blind), Parvathy B.A., Kalinga rani (Queen of Kalinga) and Pavayin payanam (Travels of a young lady) carried elements of political propaganda.

At times when Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam was extensively using movies for its propaganda censorship crippled the process. To evade censorships, DMK movies used Annadurai's popular name Anna, which also means elder brother in Tamil, as a pun. When praises were bestowed on the Anna on screen, the crowd would break into applause.

Posts held

The provincial conference of the DMK was held at Tiruchirappalli in May 1956. Annadurai stepped down from the General Secretaryship of the party, and Nedunchezhian was elected to that position. It was at the Tiruchirappalli conference that the party decided to contest free India’s second general elections which were to be held in 1957. The DMK secured 15 Assembly seats and two parliamentary seats. Anna was elected from his home constituency, Kanchipuram for the first time to the Madras Legislative Assembly. In that election, the DMK won 15 seats and Annadurai became the leader of the opposition in the state. In 1962 the DMK emerged as the major political party in the state other than the Congress, winning 50 seats in the Assembly. Although Annadurai himself lost the elections, he was nominated as a Member of Parliament to the upper house (Rajya Sabha).

As chief minister

In 1967, the Congress lost nine states to opposition parties, but it was only in Madras state that a single non-Congress party majority was achieved. The electoral victory of 1967 is also reputed to an electoral fusion among the non-Congress parties to avoid a split in the Opposition votes. Rajagopalachari, a former senior leader of the Congress party, had by then left the Congress and launched the right-wing Swatantra Party. He played a vital role in bringing about the electoral fusion amongst the opposition parties to align against the Congress. At that time, his cabinet was the youngest in the country.

Annadurai legalised Self-respect marriages for the first time in the country. Such marriages were void of priests to preside over the ceremony and thus did not need a Brahmin to carry out the wedding. Self respect marriages were a brainchild of Periyar, who regarded the then conventional marriages were mere financial arrangements and often caused great debt through dowry. Self-Respect marriages, according to him encouraged inter-caste marriages and caused arranged marriages to be replaced by love marriages. Annadurai was also the first to use subsidising of the price of rice for election victory. He promised one rupee a measure of rice, which he initially implemented once in government, but had to withdraw later. Subsidising rice costs are still used as a election promise in Tamil Nadu.

It was Annadurai's government that renamed the Madras State to Tamil Nadu. The name change itself was first presented in the upper house (Rajya Sabha) of the Parliament of India by Bhupesh Gupta, a communist MP from West Bengal, but was then defeated. With Annadurai as chief minister the state assembly passed the bill of renaming the states successfully.

Another major achievement of Annadurai's government was to introduce a two language policy over the then popular three language formula. The three language formula which was implemented in the neighbouring states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, entitled students to study three languages: the regional language, English and Hindi. It was during the period of his Chief Ministership that the Second World Tamil Conference was conducted on a grand scale on 3 January 1968. Nevertheless, when a commemorative stamp was released to mark the Tamil conference, Annadurai expressed his dissatisfaction that the stamp contained Hindi when it was for Tamil. Annadurai also issued an order for the removal of the pictures of gods and religious symbols from public offices and buildings. He proceeded on a world tour as an invitee of the Yale University's Chubb Fellowship Programme and was also a guest of the State Department in the U.S.A. in April-May 1968. He was awarded the Chubb Fellowship at Yale University, being the first non-American to receive this honour. The same year he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Annamalai University.


Annadurai died just after two years in office. His health was deteriorating due to cancer and in spite of good medical care he died of his illness on 3 February 1967. His illness was attributed to his habit of chewing tobacco. His funeral had the highest number of attendees until then, as registered with The Guinness Book of Records. An estimate of 15 million people attended the funeral. His mortal remains were buried in the northern end of the Marina Beach and is now called as Anna Square.


Annadurai was the only political leader in the national scenario in India during his time who was not involved in Indian independence movement. After his electoral success with his DMK in 1967, the Congress has never returned to power in Tamil Nadu till date. His government was the first in the country to be from a non-Congress party with full majority. When the DMK later split, with M. G. Ramachandran forming his own Dravidian party, the rebel fragment was named after Annadurai as Anna DMK. Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist leaders and writers are considered to be influenced by Annadurai's pure Tamil movement. Anna University, a premier institution in science and technology was named after him. DMK's current head office built in 1987 is named after him as Anna Arivalayam. One of the major roads in Chennai was named after him as Anna Salai, which was previously called as Mount Road, where a statue of Annadurai now stands. Jawaharlal Nehru hailed him as one of the great parliamentarians for speeches in Rajya Sabha. Selig Harrison, analyst of South Asian and East Asian politics and journalism commented "There is no doubt that this powerful orator is the single-most popular mass figure in the region”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's Speech

Transforming India into a competitive beautiful nation – Challenges before us

Movement by young citizens

“Which is the starting point, for the character evolution in the nation? Dear citizens, let me share with you an incident, which took place somewhere in Nagaland. I was talking to a group of 600 persons consisting of young children, their parents and teachers. The topic I selected was the knowledge society, foundation for a developed India. One boy who was studying in 10th class, asked me, "Mr. President, tell me is it possible for a nation to get transformed into a developed country, when there is corruption everywhere?" This question greatly upset the many faces of the experienced generation.”

I said that, "the question was beautiful and I must answer". Fortunately, the boy’s parents and teachers were sitting by his side. I asked both, "Do you have an answer?" They said, "Mr. President, he shouldn’t have asked such a question, which is beyond his age. Please ignore it, sir". How can I ignore such a valuable mind? I must answer. My answer was the following. We can create any number of laws in the country. No law can remove corruption fully. However there are only three members of the society, who can remove corruption. I call it as a "Three dimensional action" plan. Who are these three members? They are father, mother and elementary school teacher. In this connection, I would like to recall a famous statement from Vedic Guru, who said "You give me a child for seven years – after that, no God or devil can change the child". That is the power of the teacher.

My dear young friends, when you hear my national broadcast, please ask yourself a question, what can be the greatest contribution that the youth can give without disturbing their academic pursuit. You have to commence a silent revolution for removal of corruption by rightly reforming those who go against righteousness in your families. You all must Endeavour to make the home you live, beautiful and righteous. You definitely have the power on your parents to do so, with love and affection.

Dear Citizens, now I would like to administer an oath for the youth which I would like the youths to repeat with me now, wherever you are. Are you ready?

Ten point oath for the youth of the nation :
1. I will pursue my education or the work with dedication and I will excel in it.
2. From now onwards, I will teach at least 10 persons to read and write those who cannot read

and write.
3. I will plant at least 10 saplings and shall ensure their growth through constant care.
4. I will visit rural and urban areas and permanently wean away at least five persons from

addiction and gambling.
5. I will constantly endeavor to remove the pain of my suffering brethren.
6. I will not support any religious, caste or language differentiation.
7. I will be honest and endeavor to make a corruption free society.
8. I will work for becoming an enlightened citizen and make my family righteous.
9. I will always be a friend of the mentally and physically challenged and will work hard to

make them feel normal, like the rest of us.
10. I will proudly celebrate the success of my country and my people.

India is very fortunate to have 540 million youth out of a billion people. We are doing well in agriculture, our industry is on the upswing and our performance in the services sector is also equally good. Time has now come for us to make our country, righteous. Righteousness comes out of good character. The evolution of good character leads to harmony in home. Harmony in home brings the people of the state to become enlightened citizens. Enlightened citizens lead the planet earth to be a peaceful world.

Let us rededicate ourselves on this occasion of the 55th Republic Day to work towards making India a prosperous, happy and secure nation, with smile on billion faces.

Almighty, the God is with us.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Madras Day

Madras Day is a day of celebrations organised in the city of Chennai, the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is celebrated on 22 August every year, and is named after Madras the old name of Chennai.

The modern history of the city dates back to 1639 when Francis Day of the British East India Company bought a small strip of land on the Coromandel Coast from the Vijayanagara King Peda Venkata Raya in Chandragiri.

The region was ruled by Damerla Venkatapathy, the Nayak of Vandavasi. He granted the British permission to build a factory and warehouse for their trading enterprises.
It was on 22 August 1639 that a sliver of land, was handed over by the local Nayak rulers to the East India Company’s Francis Day, his dubash Beri Thimmappa, and their superior, Andrew Cogan. The British later built Fort St George, which became the nucleus of the growing colonial city.

From this small three square miles given to the East India Company grew the city of Chennai where close to 50 Lakhs people live now. As years passed by out of the fort grew settlements and the villages around it were brought together with the old and new towns linked up and hence birth of a city.

The celebrations of Madras Day include several events organised including citizens and students and lasts for a week. The idea to celebrate the birth of the city every year was born when journalists Shashi Nair and Vincent D'Souza met the city's historian and Editor of Madras Musings, S Muthiah at his residence for coffee. It was based on the success of another event called Mylapore Festival which D'Souza had been organising every year in January. It was decided by the trio to start celebrating Madras Day from 2004. According to them, "primary motive of celebrating `Madras Day' was to focus on the city, its past and its present." The idea initially started off with about five events in 2004, but with 2008, has over 60 different events associated with the day including heritage walks, photo walks, lectures, poetry and caption and quiz contests, food festivals and a Bullet tour lasting for a week.

The Madras Day celebrations and all the bash culminates each year with the Madras Quiz, separately in Tamil and English. This is faciliated by the Mylapore Times.Many quiz enthusiasts come for the same. The quiz is quite competitive in terms of content. The 2009 edition of the Madras Quiz in English will be conducted by the Indian Quizzing League.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The King Maker

Tomorrow is the birth anniversary of Late Chief Minister of Tamilnadu Thiru K. Kamaraj, better known as the Kingmaker in Indian Politics and known for his honesty, integrity and simplicity.

He was involved in the Indian independence movement and was a close ally of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. He was instrumental in bringing to power two Prime Ministers, Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1964 and Indira Gandhi in 1966. He was affectionately known as the Gandhi of the South. He is also known as Padikatha Medhai or Uneducated Intellect . In Tamil Nadu, his home state, he is still hailed for facilitating the spread of education to millions of the rural poor by introducing free education and free mid-day meals scheme in schools for the first time in the whole world during his chiefministership in 1957. He was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, posthumously in 1976. The domestic terminal of the Chennai airport is named Kamaraj Terminal in his honour. He was hailed as one of the greatest of leaders of all the free world by the then US vice-president Hubert Humphrey.

I came to know that he even denied a water connection inside his house in his native village and when he died he was having Rs. 110/- under his bed. Such kind of leaders you cannot imagine currently. Please read on to know more about the King Maker....

Early life

Kamaraj was born 15 July 1903, to Kumarasamy Nadar and Sivakami Ammal at Virudhunagar near Madurai in Tamil Nadu. His parents were from a trading family. His real name was Kamakshi Kumaraswamy, but was affectionately shortened to Raja by his mother, Sivakami Ammal. His father, Kumarswamy Nadar, was a coconut merchant. Kamaraj was enrolled at the local elementary school, the Enadhy Nayanar Vidyalaya, and later shifted to the high school Kshatriya Vidyalaya (A Nadar minority instituition). Unfortunately his father died within a year of Kamaraj's enrollment in school. Kamaraj's mother sold all jewelry except her earrings and deposited the money with a local merchant and cared for the entire family on the monthly interest that the money earned.


Kamaraj dropped out of school when he was in the sixth grade. When he entered mainstream public life he felt handicapped and realized the importance of a good education. He educated himself during his periods of imprisonment.

Start in politics and freedom struggle

Kamaraj joined as an apprentice in his maternal uncle Karuppiah's cloth shop after dropping out of school. He would slip out from the shop to join processions and attend public meetings addressed by orators like Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu. His relatives frowned upon Kamaraj 's budding interest in politics. They sent him to Thiruvananthapuram to work at another uncle's timer shop. At the age of 16, Kamaraj enrolled himself as full-time worker of the Congress. He invited speakers, organized meetings and collected funds for the party. He also participated in the march to Vedaranyam led by C. Rajagopalachari as part of the Salt Satyagraha of March 1930.

Kamaraj was arrested and sent to Alipore Jail in Calcutta for two years. He was 27 at the time of his arrest and was released in 1931 following the Gandhi-Irwin Pact. Kamaraj was implicated in the Virudhunagar bomb case two years later. Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu and George Joseph argued on Kamaraj's behalf and proved the charges to be baseless. Kamaraj was arrested again in 1940 and sent to Vellore Central Prison while he was on his way to Wardha to get Gandhiji's approval for a list of satyagrahis. While still in jail, Kamaraj was elected Chairman of the Municipal Council of Viruthunagar. Nine months later, upon his release, Kamaraj went straight to the Municipality and tendered his resignation from his post. He felt that "one should not accept any post to which one could not do full justice." Kamaraj was arrested once more in 1942 and sentenced to three years in the Amaravathi prison for spreading propaganda material for the Quit India movement initiated by Gandhiji. While in prison, Kamaraj read books and continued his self-education.

With Satyamurti

Kamaraj's political guru and inspiration was S. Satyamurti, orator and parliamentarian. Satyamurti found in Kamaraj "an efficient, loyal, indefatigable worker and skillful organizer (p. 147, Pakshirajan)." Both developed a deep friendship and complemented each others' skills. In 1936, Satyamurti was elected President of the Provincial Congress Committee and he appointed Kamaraj the General Secretary. Four years later they swapped positions. The party base was strengthened under their leadership. So deep was Kamaraj's devotion to Satyamurti that when India gained independence, he first went to Satyamurti's house and hoisted the Indian flag there. On his election as Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, Kamaraj went to Satyamurti's house and garlanded his photo and paid his respects to the leader's widow.

Chief Ministership

On April 13, 1954, K. Kamaraj reluctantly became the Chief Minister of Madras Province. To everyone's surprise, Kamaraj nominated C. Subramaniam and M. Bhakthavatsalam, who had contested his leadership, to the newly formed cabinet. Kamaraj removed the family vocation based Hereditary Education Policy introduced by Rajaji. He reopened the 6000 schools closed by previous government for financial reasons and also added 12000 more schools. The State made immense strides in education and trade. New schools were opened, so that poor rural students were to walk no more than 3 miles to their nearest school. Better facilities were added to existing ones. No village remained without a primary school and no panchayat without a high school. Kamaraj strove to eradicate illiteracy by introducing free and compulsory education up to the eleventh standard.

He introduced the Mid-day Meal Scheme to provide at least one meal per day to the lakhs of poor school children (first time in the whole world). He introduced free school uniforms to weed out caste, creed and class distinctions among young minds.During his period IIT MADRAS was started.many industries were started like BHEL,TRICHY,NEYVELI LIGNITE CORPORATION,MANALI REFINARY LTD.No of big dams were constructed like Manimuthar dam,Vaikai dam,Aliyar dam,Sathanur dam and Krishnagiri dam.Many schemes were started to generate electricity like Guntha hydro power station,Ooty and neyveli thermal power station.During his period,Tamilnadu was developing in all fronts.

Kamaraj remained Chief Minister for three consecutive terms, winning elections in 1957 and 1962. Kamaraj noticed that the Congress party was slowly losing its vigor. He came up with a plan which was called the "Kamaraj Plan". On October 2, 1963, he resigned from the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Post. He proposed that all senior Congress leaders should resign from their posts and devote all their energy to the re-vitalization of the Congress.

In 1963 he suggested to Nehru that senior Congress leaders should leave ministerial posts to take up organisational work. This suggestion came to be known as the Kamaraj Plan, which was designed primarily to dispel from the minds of Congressmen the lure for power, creating in its place a dedicated attachment to the objectives and policies of the organisation. Kamaraj was elected President, Indian National Congress, on October 9, 1963.

Well impressed by the achievements and acumen of Kamraj, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru felt that his services were needed more at the national level. In a swift move he brought Kamaraj to Delhi as the President of the Indian National Congress. Nehru realised that if he had wide learning and vision, Kamaraj possessed enormous common sense and pragmatism. Kamaraj gave a simple advice to his ministers, "Face the problem. Don't evade it. Find a solution, however small. People will be satisfied if you do something."

Followed by him a number of Central and State ministers like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jagjivan Ram, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Morarji Desai and S.K. Patil followed suit and resigned from their posts. In 1964, Kamaraj was elected 'Congress President' and he successfully navigated the party and the nation through the stormy years following Nehru's death. Kamaraj’s political maturity came in full view when Nehru died in 1964. How he settled the succession issue for the Prime Ministership was amply proved by his choice of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi in succession.


On October 2, 1975, Gandhi Jayanti day, Kamaraj awoke from his afternoon nap feeling uneasy. His housekeeper, Vairavan, rang up his physician. While he was on his way out, Kamaraj said, "Vairavan, put out the lights when you go out." K. Kamaraj died that day in his sleep. He was honored with the highest civilian honour, the 'Bharat Ratna' posthumously in 1976.

Friday, June 26, 2009

El Nino

Recently I read a news that this year there is a risk of lesser rainfall due to “El Nino” effect. I was surprised to find that the ocean temperature in Pacific Ocean decides the Monsoon factor for India. Also the global warming is also playing a major role in deciding this El Nino factor.

“El Niño-Southern Oscillation” (ENSO or simply El Niño) is an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon. The Pacific Ocean signatures, El Niño and La Niña are important temperature fluctuations in surface waters of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean.

The name El Niño, from the Spanish for "the little boy", refers to the Christ child, because the phenomenon is usually noticed around Christmas time in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of South America. La Niña, similarly, means "the little girl". These effects were first described in 1923 by Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker from whom the Walker circulation, an important aspect of the Pacific ENSO phenomenon, takes its name.

El Nino is signaled by a warming of the ocean surface off the western coast of South America that occurs every 4 to 12 years when cold, nutrient-rich water does not come up from the ocean bottom. It causes die-offs of plankton and fish and affects Pacific jet stream winds, altering storm tracks and creating unusual weather patterns in various parts of the world.

Southern Oscillation

The Southern Oscillation is an oscillation in air pressure between the tropical eastern and the western Pacific Ocean waters. The strength of the Southern Oscillation is measured by the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). The SOI is a record of the monthly or seasonal fluctuations in the normalized surface air pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin, Australia. El Niño episodes, which are associated with negative values of the SOI, are usually accompanied by sustained warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, a decrease in the strength of the Pacific trade winds, and a reduction in rainfall over eastern and northern Australia. Conversely, La Niña episodes are associated with positive values of the SOI and are accompanied by stronger Pacific trade winds and warmer sea temperatures to the north of Australia. Waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean become cooler during this time.

The first mention of the term "El Niño" to refer to climate occurs in 1892, when Captain Camilo Carrillo told the Geographical society congress in Lima that Peruvian sailors named the warm northerly current "El Niño" because it was most noticeable around Christmas. However, even before then the phenomenon was of interest because of its effects on biological productivity, with its effects on the guano industry. Normal conditions along the west Peruvian coast are a cold southerly current (the Humboldt Current) with upwelling water; the upwelling nutrients lead to great oceanic productivity; the cold currents leads to very dry conditions on land. Similar conditions exist elsewhere (California Current; Benguela Current off South Africa; West Australia Current).

Thus the replacement of this with warmer northerly water leads to lower biological productivity in the ocean, and more rainfall — often flooding — on land; the connection with flooding was reported in 1895 by Pezet and Eguiguren. Towards the end of the nineteenth century there was much interest in forecasting climate anomalies (for food production) in India and Australia. Charles Todd, in 1893, suggested that droughts in India and Australia tended to occur at the same time; Norman Lockyer noted the same in 1904. In 1924 Gilbert Walker (for whom the Walker circulation is named) first coined the term "Southern Oscillation". For most of the twentieth century, El Niño was thought of as a largely local phenomenon. The major 1982-83 El Niño lead to an upsurge of interest from the scientific community. The 1998 El Niño event caused an estimated 16% of the world’s reef systems to die. Since then, mass coral bleaching has become common worldwide, with all regions having suffered ‘severe bleaching’.

Major ENSO events have occurred in the years 1790-93, 1828, 1876-78, 1891, 1925-26, 1982-83, and 1997-98. Also, there is evidence for strong El Niño events during the early Holocene. Recent El Niños have occurred in 1986-1987, 1991-1992, 1993, 1994, 1997-1998, 2002-2003, 2004-2005 and 2006-2007. The El Niño of 1997-1998 was particularly strong and brought the phenomenon to worldwide attention. The event temporarily warmed air temperature by 1.5°C, compared to the usual increase of 0.25°C associated with El Niño events. The period from 1990-1994 was unusual in that El Niños have rarely occurred in such rapid succession (but were generally weak). There is some debate as to whether global warming increases the intensity and/or frequency of El Niño episodes. (see also the ENSO and Global Warming section above).

Wider effects of El Niño conditions

Because El Niño's warm pool feeds thunderstorms above, it creates increased rainfall across the east-central and eastern Pacific Ocean. The effects of El Niño in South America are direct and stronger than in North America. An El Niño is associated with warm and very wet summers (December-February) along the coasts of northern Peru and Ecuador, causing major flooding whenever the event is strong or extreme. The effects during the months of February, March and April may become critical. Southern Brazil and northern Argentina also experience wetter than normal conditions but mainly during the spring and early summer. Central Chile receives a mild winter with large rainfall, and the Peruvian-Bolivian Altiplano is sometimes exposed to unusual winter snowfall events. Drier and hotter weather occurs in parts of the Amazon River Basin, Colombia and Central America.

El Niño is associated with increased wave-caused coastal erosion along the US Pacific Coast and decreased hurricane activity in the Atlantic, especially south of 25º N; this reduction is largely due to stronger wind shear in the tropics. Finally, East Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania and the White Nile basin experiences, in the long rains from March to May, wetter than normal conditions. There also are drier than normal conditions from December to February in south-central Africa, mainly in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana.

Study of climate records has found that about half of the summers after an El Niño have unusual warming in the Western Hemisphere Warm Pool (WHWP). This affects weather in the area and seems to be related to the North Atlantic Oscillation. An effect similar to El Niño sometimes takes place in the Atlantic Ocean, where water along equatorial Africa's Gulf of Guinea becomes warmer and eastern Brazil becomes cooler and drier. This is related to El Niño's effect on the Walker circulation over South America, which causes the easterly trade winds in the western Atlantic Ocean region to strengthen. Cases of double El Niño events have been linked to severe famines related to the extended failure of monsoon rains, as in the book Late Victorian Holocausts.

Non-climate effects

Along the west coast of South America, El Niño reduces the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water that sustains large fish populations, which in turn sustain abundant sea birds, whose droppings support the fertilizer industry.

East Pacific fishing

The local fishing industry along the affected coastline can suffer during long-lasting El Niño events. The world's largest fishery collapsed due to overfishing during the 1972 El Niño Peruvian anchoveta reduction. During the 1982-83 event, jack mackerel and anchoveta populations were reduced, scallops increased in warmer water, but hake followed cooler water down the continental slope, while shrimp and sardines moved southward so some catches decreased while others increased. Horse mackerel have increased in the region during warm events. Shifting locations and types of fish due to changing conditions provide challenges for fishing industries.
Peruvian sardines have moved during El Niño events to Chilean areas. Other conditions provide further complications, such as the government of Chile in 1991 creating restrictions on the fishing areas for self-employed fishermen and industrial fleets. The ENSO variability may contribute to the great success of small fast-growing species along the Peruvian coast, as periods of low population removes predators in the area. Similar effects benefit migratory birds which travel each spring from predator-rich tropical areas to distant winter-stressed nesting areas.

There is some evidence that El Niño activity is correlated with incidence of red tides off the Pacific coast of California. It has been postulated that a strong El Niño led to the demise of the Moche and other pre-Columbian Peruvian cultures. A recent study of El Niño patterns suggests that the French Revolution was caused in part by the poor crop yields of 1788-89 in Europe, resulting from an unusually strong El-Niño effect between 1789-93.

Whatever may be the effect let us all pray to Lord Varuna, the Rain God to ward-off effects like these so that we are blessed with copious rains!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


My father was very orthodox and will continuously keep on washing his hands whenever he touches the dishes etc., and I didn’t took much interest when he used to advise us also to clean hour hands especially during the dining time. Now WHO is recommending washing of hands as the main precautionary measure for the Swine Flu. One of my friends recently told me to send articles/topics of current affairs, general knowledge etc., which I said will give it a try. Hence this blog is born basically to cover the areas which are common for all. Hope this forum will be of useful to everybody. Please give your feedback whether the same is useful so that it keeps motivate me to write more on the same. The maiden article is on the Swine Flu which is in the news for quite some time now and it has reached India and about close to 40 people are affected so far and WHO has declared the disease a pandemic. I have collated the data from various sources and tried to consolidate in a question and answer type which I thought will be in a better readable sense rather than like an article for this topic. Please read on to know more about novel H1N1 Virus commonly known as Swine Flu.

What is novel H1N1 (swine flu)?

Novel H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.
Why is novel H1N1 virus sometimes called “swine flu”?

This virus was originally referred to as “swine flu” because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and avian genes and human genes. Scientists call this a "quadruple reassortant" virus.

Is novel H1N1 virus contagious?

CDC (Centre for Disease Control and prevention) has determined that novel H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
A pandemic is declared

On June 11, 2009, the
World Health Organization (WHO) raised the worldwide pandemic alert level to Phase 6 in response to the ongoing global spread of the novel influenza A (H1N1) virus. A Phase 6 designation indicates that a global pandemic is underway. More than 70 countries are now reporting cases of human infection with novel H1N1 flu. This number has been increasing over the past few weeks, but many of the cases reportedly had links to travel or were localized outbreaks without community spread. The WHO designation of a pandemic alert Phase 6 reflects the fact that there are now ongoing community level outbreaks in multiple parts of world. WHO’s decision to raise the pandemic alert level to Phase 6 is a reflection of the spread of the virus, not the severity of illness caused by the virus.


A pandemic (from Greek pan "all" + demos "people") is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance a continent, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic. Further, flu pandemics exclude seasonal flu. Throughout history there have been a number of pandemics, such as smallpox and tuberculosis. More recent pandemics include the HIV pandemic and the 2009 flu pandemic.


Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae (the influenza viruses), that affects birds and mammals. The name influenza comes from the Italian influenza, meaning "influence" (Latin: influentia). The most common symptoms of the disease are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort. Fever and coughs are the most frequent symptoms. In more serious cases, influenza causes pneumonia, which can be fatal, particularly for the young and the elderly. Although it is often confused with other influenza-like illnesses, especially the common cold, influenza is a much more severe disease than the common cold and is caused by a different type of virus. Influenza may produce nausea and vomiting, particularly in children, but these symptoms are more common in the unrelated gastroenteritis, which is sometimes called "stomach flu" or "24-hour flu".

Typically, influenza is transmitted through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols containing the virus. Influenza can also be transmitted by bird droppings, saliva, nasal secretions, feces and blood. Infection can also occur through contact with these body fluids or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Airborne aerosols have been thought to cause most infections, although which means of transmission is most important is not absolutely clear. Influenza viruses can be inactivated by sunlight, disinfectants and detergents. As the virus can be inactivated by soap, frequent hand washing reduces the risk of infection.

Influenza spreads around the world in
seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands annually — millions in pandemic years. Three influenza pandemics occurred in the 20th century and killed tens of millions of people, with each of these pandemics being caused by the appearance of a new strain of the virus in humans. Often, these new strains appear when an existing flu virus spreads to humans from other animal species, or when an existing human strain picks up new genes from a virus that usually infects birds or pigs. An avian strain named H5N1 raised the concern of a new influenza pandemic, after it emerged in Asia in the 1990s, but it has not evolved to a form that spreads easily between people. In April 2009 a novel flu strain evolved that combined genes from human, pig, and bird flu, initially dubbed "swine flu", emerged in Mexico, the United States, and several other nations. WHO officially declared the outbreak to be a "pandemic" on June 11, 2009.

Vaccinations against influenza are usually given to people in developed countries and to farmed poultry. The most common human vaccine is the trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) that contains purified and inactivated material from three viral strains. Typically, this vaccine includes material from two influenza A virus subtypes and one influenza B virus strain. The TIV carries no risk of transmitting the disease, and it has very low reactivity. A vaccine formulated for one year may be ineffective in the following year, since the influenza virus evolves rapidly, and new strains quickly replace the older ones. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat influenza, with neuraminidase inhibitors being particularly effective.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against novel H1N1 virus. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza.

What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus through coughing or sneezing?

If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. If you are sick, stay home for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. CDC recommends that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

What should I do if I get sick?

If you live in areas where people have been identified with novel H1N1 flu and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people. Staying at home means that you should not leave your home except to seek medical care. This means avoiding normal activities, including work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings. If you have severe illness or you are at high risk for flu complications, contact your health care provider or seek medical care. Your health care provider will determine whether flu testing or treatment is needed. If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

Are there medicines to treat novel H1N1 infection?

Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with novel H1N1 flu virus. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. During the current outbreak, the priority use for influenza antiviral drugs during is to treat severe influenza illness.

How long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?

Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What kills influenza virus?
Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How should waste disposal be handled to prevent the spread of influenza virus?

To prevent the spread of influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash. Additionally, persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and similar waste.

What household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus?

To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

How should linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with influenza virus be handled?

Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry. Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap.

Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.