Happy New Year 2015


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Thought for Today : April 8, 2008

'Cactus-194[1] ' by Paolo Nao
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend - Albert Camus.
Grateful thanks to Paolo Nao and the Public-Domain-Photos.com for freely providing the above photograph.

Health Watch-10: '“Healthcare Today", a monthly magazine from UK

While surfing the Net, by chance came across a website: . Downloaded its publication, ‘Healthcare Today’, a monthly magazine published from UK, with Chris May as its Editor. This April 2008 issue, which is the first issue, has some interesting features and useful info. Furnished below a few ideas about ‘Healthcare Today’ in the words of its Editor:

“…our currently adopted policy at Healthcare Today is to report but not to comment – though we will report on the comments of others. The only exception – in the magazine at least – is this column (Editorial). However, we have found a crafty way round this by including a blog on the website where we can say what we want; it is absolutely free to view and can be found at
www.hc2d.co.uk/weblogs. We are also rounding up all the best healthcare-related blogs on the internet and making them accessible from a single page; we will be constantly reviewing this to make sure you always have access to the best blogs the web has to offer.

Similarly, our live news page,
www.hc2d.co.uk/livenews brings the very best healthcare news feeds from around the UK and across the globe to a single webpage – again access is completely free.”

Grateful thanks and all the best to Mr. Chris May and ‘Healthcare Today’.

Eyecatchers-70: Consumers' Rights

The Tamil Nadu government has launched a website to create awareness among consumers of their rights. The URL of this website is: www.consumer.tn.gov.in.

There is provision for consumers to lodge their complaints by sending e-mail to:

Also see, Wikipedia article on "Consumer Protection": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_protection
Courtesy: “Malligai Magal”, Tamil Monthly, March 2008 (“Useful News”) and Wikipedia.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Thought for Today : April 7, 2008

'Cactus' by Paolo Nao
It is more blessed to give than to receive :
Acts 20:35b

Letters-17: "“Dysfunctional System”"

There is no doubt that our judicial system is highly inefficient and ineffective (“Just another day”, The Hindu, April 20, 2008). All of us know it very well, some may have had the unfortunate experience of the bitter truth. But who is willing to bring a change? Sense of responsibility and compassion for fellow citizens are rapidly vanishing from our society. Those in responsible positions seldom feel moved by seeing others in distress or being inconvenienced. Rarely do they feel guilty for having failed, for no external compelling reasons, in fulfilling their duties. Fulfillment of selfish interests of material nature and earning wealth by any means have become the primary objectives of life – Dr.Y.P.Joshi, Varanasi, Letter to the Editor, The Hindu, Sunday Magazine, April 27, 2008.

Also read Wikipedia articles on "Judiciary" and "Separation of Powers": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judiciary

Grateful thanks to Dr.Y.P.Joshi, The Hindu and Wikipedia.

S&T Watch-3: “Chicken descended from Dinosaurs!” - AP

Scientists are fleshing out the proof that today’s chicken is descended from the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur.

And, not a surprise, they confirmed a close relationship between mastodons and elephants.

Fossil studies have long suggested that modern birds descended from T.rex, based in similarities in their skeletons. Now, bits of protein obtained from connective tissues in a T.rex fossil shows a relationship to birds including chickens and ostriches, says a report in Friday’s edition of the journal, Science. – AP

Excerpt from “Chicken descended from dinosaurs?” – article published in The Hindu, Madurai, April 26, 2008.
Also read Wikipedia article on "Evolution":
Grateful thanks to AP, The Hindu and Wikipedia.

Health Watch-9: '“India burdened by Heart Disease” – AFP

By 2000, India will carry 60% of the world’s heart disease burden, nearly four times more than its share of the global population, according to a study.

Adding to the burden is a higher incidence of the types of heart disease resulting in serious illness and mortality, and the fact that these conditions strike at an early age, says the study.

Death rates are especially high among the country’s poorest residents, unable to get to hospital quickly in an emergency, or to afford routine treatments and surgery.

Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD), mainly heart attacks and coronary artery disease, is the leading cause of mortality in the world, accounting for 7.1 million deaths in 2001. More than 80% of these were in developing countries.

Researchers have long known that south Asia has the highest level of acute coronary syndromes in the world, but little statistical data were available about treatment and health outcomes. - AFP

Excerpt from The Hindu, Madurai, April 26, 2008
Also read article on "Heart diseases" from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_Diseases
Grateful thanks to AFP, The Hindu and Wikipedia.

Eyecatchers-69: Myth about Genetically Modified Crops

“Exposed: the great GM crops myth” by Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor, www.independent.co.uk, Sunday, 20 April 2008

Last week the biggest study of its kind ever conducted - the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development - concluded that GM was not the answer to world hunger.

For the full article:
Grateful thanks to Geoffrey Lean and
About International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)
IAASTD - Principles & Procedures
Genetically Modified Food in Wikipedia:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Thought for Today : April 6, 2008

'Cactus' by Paolo Nao
Cherish yesterday, dream tomorrow, live like crazy todayNapoleon Hill

Eyecatchers-68: "Silent Tsunami" of Hunger!

Ration cards, genetically modified crops, the of pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap supermarkets – These possible solutions to the first global food crisis since World War II – which the World Food Program says already threatens 20 million of the poorest children – are complex, controversial and may fall far short as demand soars.

The skyrocketing cost of food staples, stoked by soaring fuel prices and demand from India and China, has already sparked sometimes violent protests across the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

Josette Sheeran, the WFP’s executive director, in London for a summit on the crisis, said on Tuesday a “silent tsunami” of hunger is sweeping the world’s most desperate nations.

The price of rice has more than doubled in the last five weeks, she said. The World Bank estimates food prices have risen by 83% in three years.

“What we are seeing now is affecting more people on every continent,” Ms Sheeran told a London news conference.

Malaysia’s embattled Prime Minister is already under pressure over the price hikes and has launched a major rice growing project. Indonesia’s government needed to revise its annual budget to respond.

Unrest over the food crisis has led to deaths in Cameroon and Haiti, cost Haitian Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis his job, and caused hungry textile workers to clash with police in Bangladesh.

At streetside restaurants in Lome, Togo, even the traditional balls of corn meal or corn dough served with vegetable soup are shrinking. Once as big as a boxer’s fist, the dumplings are now the size of a tennis ball – but cost twice as much.

School feeding projects in Kenya and Cambodia have been scaled back and food aid halved in Tajikistan, said Ms.Sheeran.

Yet while angry street protesters call for immediate action – long term solutions are likely to be slow, costly and complicated, experts warn – AP.

Courtesy: AP and The Hindu, Madurai, April 24, 2008 (“Silent Tsunami” of Hunger Warned)
Also read Wikipedia article on "Hunger": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunger
Grateful thanks to AP, The Hindu and Wikipedia.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Eyecatchers-67: "Bio-Fencing or Live Fencing"

The word fencing usually brings to mind along cement wall surrounding a plot of land or barbed steel wires attached to granite pillars around the periphery of the land.

For a variety of reasons, a small farm needs to be fenced. A fence marks the boundary of the farm and keeps away stray animals.

The investment for either constructing a wall or putting up steel wires is quite heavy. Small and marginal farmers cannot invest a huge sum for erecting such a fence.

Instead, Dr.G.Nammalvar, organic scientist, suggests that farmers can grow crops around their lands as a live fence.

“People who go for natural way of farming prefer to have a live fence,” he said. Even if it takes two or three years to complete such a task, the monetary investment is less and the fence becomes a long lasting one.

Usually thorny plants are grown to make a live fence. For example, bushes such as agave and cactus, creepers, and small shrubs (perennial bushes) are the most sought after ones. Besides, trees such as subabul and casuarinas can also be planted as a live fence.

But does not a live fence occupy more space and require care?”

“Yes, to an extent, live fence does occupy some more space than concrete structures, but it also gives us wild vegetables which are more nutritious and medicinal than the regular cultivated crops. This cannot be got from steel wires or concrete walls,” explained Dr.Nammalvar. A perennial bio-fencing with a width of 3 to 4 metres will be a boon to a farm. For example, bamboo can be ideally used as live fence material.

After four or five years, bamboo gives us building material for farm requirements and its leave a good fodder for cattle and goat.

“When we choose plants for bio-fencing it would be wise to choose multi purpose plants. Bio-fencing has one more role to play in the farming.

It can act as a wind breaker. During the summer months, it the dry wind enters the farm the soil moisture is carried away.

“A wind breaker breaks the speed of the wind and reduces the heat. Likewise in the winter season, it blocks the cold winds and saves the crop from damage due to frost, and reduces the damage from cyclones. Tree species such as subabul and casuarinas, if closely planted, will form very good wind breakers.

“The best purpose of having a live fence is that it serves as a shelter belt. This provides shelter for wild animals such as squirrels, rats, mongoose, hares, foxes and birds such as sparrow, cuckoo, mina, peacock and wild chicken,” he explained.

These wild animals help the farmer in plant protection by eating the pests on plants and by adding micro nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus.

Also they help in converting organic and inorganic substances into elements needed for the growth of cultivated and uncultivated plants, according to him.

“We should keep in mind that we would not walk into the shelter belt frequently to encourage the wild friends to come and nest inside.

“They will bring seeds of plants from far off places and their excreta brings new kinds of micro organisms to our soil,” said Dr.Nammalvar.

A good example of a live-fence is at Kolunchi, centre for training and research on ecological food production located in Odugampatti village at a distance of 11 kilometers from Keeranur, Pudukkottai district.

It is established and maintained by Kudumbam, a Non-Governmental Organization engaged in LEISA (Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture).

For more information, readers can contact Dr.G.Nammalvar at No.17/9, 5th Cross, Srinivasa Nagar, Thiruvanaikkoil, Tiruchi-620005, Tamil Nadu. Email:
nammalvar@gmail.com, mobile: 9442531699.

Courtesy: M.J.Prabhu (‘Role of a live fence in a small farm) and The Hindu, Madurai, April 24, 2008 (Agricutlure).

Also read Wikipedia article on "Fencing": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fencing
Grateful thanks to Mr.M.J.Prabhu, The Hindu and Wikipedia.

S&T Watch-2: WR104, an unstable binary spiral star system

Astronomer Peter Tuthill warned that the explosion of WR104, an unstable binary spiral star system 8,000 light years away in the Sagittarius constellation, threatens to destroy the planet. A supernova within the system will fire gamma rays along the spiral's polar axis, which, Tuthill discovered, points directly at Earth. "I used to appreciate this spiral just for its beautiful form," he said, "but now I can't help a twinge of feeling that it is uncannily like looking down a rifle barrel."

Courtesy: Christian Lorentzen, Harper’s Weekly Review, March 11, 2008
Also read Wikipedia article on "BINARY STARS":
Grateful thanks to Mr. Christian Lorentzen, Harper’s Weekly and Wikipedia.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Thought for Today : April 5, 2008

'Cactus' by Paolo Nao from

If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed - Einstein

S&T Watch-1: Surveilance Camera to detect Explosives and Cocaine

ThruVision, a British firm, unveiled a surveillance camera that could be used to detect materials such as explosives or cocaine by distinguishing among the low levels of electromagnetic radiation emitted by all things everywhere.

Courtesy: Christian Lorentzen, Harper’s Weekly Review, March 11, 2008

Grateful thanks to Mr. Christian Lorentzen and Harper’s Weekly.

Health Watch-8: 'Drug-resistant TB on the rise!'

The World Health Organization announced that virtually untreatable drug-resistant tuberculosis could now be found in 45 countries with a half-million new cases each year, and that the highest rate of infection was in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Courtesy: Paul Ford, Harper’s Weekly Review, March 4, 2008

Grateful thanks to Mr.Paul Ford and Harper’s Weekly.

Facts & Figures-28 : "Record Food Grains Output Likely"

India’s total food grains production during the crop year 2007-08 is estimated at 227.32 million tones, which is more than what was achieved the previous year.

Excerpt from ‘Record Foodgrains output likely’ by Vinay Kumar, The Hindu, Madurai, April 23, 2008

Grateful thanks to Mr.Vinay Kumar and The Hindu.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Letters-16: "Shocking and Shameful"

It is shocking and shameful that over 125 farmers have committed suicide in the aftermath of the pompous announcement of loan waiver. There was no decline in the number of farmers’ suicides even after the Prime Minister visited Vidharbha. Why does it not appeal to the policymakers that their gestures are greeted only by withdrawal?

The poor farmers of Vidharbha seem to be twice cursed – by the gross official neglect and by the media euphoria that they are being showered with enormous charity. - S.V.Venugopalan, Chennai

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, April 22, 2008 (Letters to the Editor)
Grateful thanks to Mr.S.V.Venugopalan, Chennai and The Hindu.

Essence of Living

'Cactus' by Paolo Nao from

Fear of death looms large in the lives of people. It is the fear of losing what we possess and also the fear of the unknown that makes death fearful to most of us. It seems sensible to seek the cover of security that life seems to offer and get involved in the attainments, agendas and desires relevant in this context rather than even think of death.

Swami Mitrananda pointed out in a lecture that the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita emphasizes the essence of intelligent living as a well-designed plan for a rewarding exit from this world. Lord Krishna makes it clear that death is inevitable to one who is born and it is necessary to remove any sense of fear towards the reality of death. Since the Lord assures that those who remember Him at the time of death surely will attain Him, the path for the spiritual seeker is clear – to constantly have thoughts of Him even while engaged in one’s daily duties. When a person dies, the soul attains that state which the mind had been contemplating at the time of death. Our past thoughts and actions determine our present birth and our future is determined by our present way of life. Our desires direct the mind and the body goes in pursuit of those thoughts. If our life is directed towards God, our mind directs us towards thoughts of God. One has to pay attention to these materials while living.

Since Vedanta is difficult to comprehend even when one’s intellectual and physical faculties are intact, it will be well nigh impossible to be grasped at the time of death. So the mind has to be trained to be in contemplation mode during one’s life time through sincere practice. If the lifetime is spent in the pursuit of wealth, one loses the chance to gain to higher knowledge of Vedanta that can win liberation. We get tossed in the finite world.

To get out of this endless cycle, one has to let go of attachments to people, places, possessions, etc. Practising detachment can help one to conquer fear of death, enabling one to face death with peace and no regrets. When desires are transcended, one gains the courage to lose what one has been attached to, even it be a mere pen or a coveted post that had been gained through tremendous effort.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, April 22, 2008 (Religion)
Grateful thanks to Swami Mitranandaji Maharaj and The Hindu for the wonderful article and Paolo Nao and the Public-Domain-Photos.com for freely providing the above photograph.

Mobile Phones could kill more people than smoking and asbestos

Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert has concluded. Brain expert warns of huge rise in tumours and calls on industry to take immediate steps to reduce radiation.
Excerpt from the article, "Mobile phones 'more dangerous than smoking" by Geoffrey Lean, www.independent.co.uk, Sunday, 30 March 2008

Mobile phone” from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Human health impacts)

Mobile phone radiation and health”, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Health warning against excessive mobile phone use - The New Zealand Herald (quoting Reuters), January 3, 2008

Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?” (Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to blame for mysterious 'colony collapse' of bees), By Geoffrey Lean and Harriet Shawcross, Sunday, 15 April 2007, The Independent,

Case of the disappearing bees creates a buzz by Eric Sylvers, International Herald Tribune, April 22, 2007

Mobile Phones and Health”, Independent Expert Group Report on Mobile Phones, (The Stewart Report),

Pollution affects scent of flowers

Researchers in Virginia found due to pollution the scent of floers, which could travel up to 4,000 feet during the 19th century, now travels not even a quarter of that distance.

Courtesy: Paul Ford, Harper’s Weekly Review, April 15, 2008


Key to Scent of Flowers”, Sci Tech, The Hindu, Nov.27, 2003

Pollution ‘dulling the scent of flowers”, Sci Tech, The Hindu, April 20, 2008

Pollution dulling the scent of flowers”, Financial Express, April 21, 2008

Scented Flowers and Foliages”, (Fragrances can have an effect on our emotions and wellbeing)

Pollution dulling the scent of flowers”, Sci Tech, Eco News,
www.zeenews.com (Pollution is endangering the most essential cycles of nature.)

Pollution stifling flowers’ scents’, Alok Jha, Science Correspondent The Guardian, Monday April 14 2008, (why bees and other pollinating insects are in decline)

Why flowers have lost their scent?”, Wren’s Nest News, Article 19614, posed April 20, 2009 (Pollution is dulling the scent of flowers and impeding some of the most basic processes of nature, disrupting insect life and imperilling food supplies).


Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Thought for Today : April 4, 2008

'Cactus' by Paolo Nao from

You can make a dime dishonestly, but it will cost

you a dollar later on - Unknown

Grateful thanks to Paulo Nao and Public-Domain-Photos.com and the unknown author of the above quotation.

A Thought for Today : April 3, 2008

'Protest' - Photo by Jon Sullivan from
Manliness should mark man and not faint-heartedness. Determination should reign supreme and not timidity. A good cause should be championed firmly; it should not be shirked with indifference. Man grows in caliber as he utilizes his potentialities for good causes. – Swami Chidbhavananda
Grateful thanks to Jon Sullivan and Public-Domain-Photos.com

Friday, April 18, 2008

Eyecatchers-66: "Embryo Testing"

Parents in Australia were suing an embryo-testing clinic for allowing their child to carry a cancer gene.

Courtesy: Paul Ford, HARPER'S WEEKLY REVIEW, January 22, 2008
"Embryo test 'offers parents hope" by Caroline Ryan BBC News, Prague
"Should we be able to choose our kids?", By Jeffrey P. Kahn, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director, Center for Bioethics, University of Minnesota, CNN.com/Health, August 20, 2002 -
"Should embryo testing be restricted? " BBC News - Talking Point, November 19, 1999 -
"Embryo test for 200 diseases", Healthcare Today Magazine - http://www.hc2d.co.uk/content.php?contentId=1068
"Call to scrutinise embryo testing", David Adam, science correspondent, The Guardian, April 26 2005 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2005/apr/26/health.science
"Embryo testing could produce babies who might aid sick siblings", News-Medical.Net - http://www.news-medical.net/?id=1220
"Embryo testing prevents rhesus factor disease" by Karen Barlow for The World Today - http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200501/s1285912.htm

Facts & Figures-27 : "Brain-enhancing Drugs!"

A poll by the science journal "Nature" found that 20 percent of its readers use brain-enhancing drugs.

Courtesy: Paul Ford, HARPER'S WEEKLY REVIEW, April 15, 2008.
"One in five admit using brain drugs", James Randerson, The Guardian, Thursday April 10 2008 - http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/apr/10/medicalresearch.health.
"20 Percent of Scientists Admit Using Brain-Enhancing Drugs -- Do You?" by Alexis Madriga, 'Wired Science', April 09, 2008 - http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/04/20-of-scientist.html
"Sharper minds" by Melissa Healy, Times Staff Writer " - http://www.nootropics.com/smartdrugs/sharper-minds.html
"Using Brain Enhancing Drugs: Is This "Cheating" ?", ' Leather Head Matters', March 19, 2008 - http://leatherheadblog.com/2008/03/19/brain-enhancing-drugs-is-this-cheating/
"Brain-enhancing drugs", 'Nascent', Nature's blog on web technology and science, http://blogs.nature.com/wp/nascent/2008/02/brainenhancing_drugs_1.html
"Ethical questions regarding use of brain-enhancing drugs debated", University of Cambridge News and Events, December 20, 2007, http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/dp/2007122002
"More professionals, students using brain performance enhancing drugs", The Dallas Morning News, December 20, 2007 http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/122107dnnatbraindoping.3761ad89.html

Letters-15: "Myth Shattered"

1. This refers to the article “Between a rock and a hard place” (The Hindu, April 17, 2008). Clearly, the increase in food prices has falsified the myth that the market can heal all the wounds. That we exported food grain for European cattle in 2002 and 2003, when millions were starving back home is appalling. There cannot a bigger irony than the fact that a country declares food surplus when the people in its backyard are struggling for survival. – Anadi Mitra, Bangalore.

2. The article rightfully points to the fallacy of liberalization and trading in food commodities by big multinationals. Despite the government’s efforts, farmers are more vulnerable today than ever before. There is an immediate need to press the emergency button for some corrective action. – Tarun Kumar Pithode, New Delhi.

3. Inflation has always been a blessing for those who can dictate prices. We should guard against the possible subversion of the economy by interested forces from within and outside the country. Economics has gone beyond conventional wisdom. Strategic calculations now use economic subversion as a means to bring around countries. The clamour to permit FDI in the retail segment is an indication of this. – A.P.Govindan Kutty, Painkulam.

4. The only way in which I can express my admiration for P.Sainath’s article is to quote Eric Gill’s words in a letter to Ananda Coomaraswamy: “You hit the nail on the head bloody right, bloody hard and bloody often.” – Ramaswamy R.Iyer, New Delhi.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, April 18, 2008 (“Letters to the Editor)

Grateful thanks to M/s.Anadi Mitra, Bangalore; Tarun Kumar Pithode, New Delhi; A.P.Govindan Kutty, Painkulam; Ramaswamy R.Iyer, New Delhi and The Hindu.

A Thought for Today : April 2, 2008

'Morning Glory Pool' by Jon Sullivan from Public-Domain-Photos.com
It is better to be decisive, even if it means that sometimes you will be wrong - Unknown.
Grateful thanks to Jon Sullivan and Public-Domain-Photos.com

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Eyecatchers-65: "John Wheeler and Black Holes"

John Wheeler, a physicist who coined the term "black hole," died at age 96. In his 1999 autobiography he explained what can be learned by studying black holes: "That space can be crumpled like a piece of paper," he wrote, "into an infinitesimal dot."

Courtesy: Paul Ford, HARPER'S WEEKLY REVIEW, April 15, 2008.
For more info on John Wheeler and Black Holes:

Science Watch-9: "Coldest brown-dwarf Star"

French and Canadian astronomers announced the discovery of the coldest brown-dwarf star on record, 40 light-years away.

Courtesy: Paul Ford, HARPER'S WEEKLY REVIEW, April 15, 2008.
For more details:
"Discovery of coldest brown star might bridge the gap between stars and planets" -

Facts & Figures-26 : "8000-year-old Trees!"

Scientists identified a group of 8,000-year-old Norway spruce trees in western Sweden, believed to be the oldest on earth. The trees, which took root after the last Ice Age, stayed at a shrublike size for most of their lives. "The past few decades we have seen a much warmer climate, which has meant that they have popped up," said tree expert Leif Kullman.

Courtesy: Paul Ford, HARPER'S WEEKLY REVIEW, April 15, 2008.
Also read:
"The tallest, biggest and oldest trees" - http://www.bio.ilstu.edu/armstrong/bigtree/fieldtrip.htm
"Living tree ‘8,000 years older than Christ’ (?)" -
"Oldest Living Tree Found in Sweden" -

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Thought for Today : April 1, 2008

All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind - Abraham Lincoln
My grateful thanks to Public-Domain-Photos.com (http://www.public-domain-photos.com/) and the author of the photo, Jon Sullivan for the wonderful photo.

Green Books

Publisher Dorling Kindersley claims to have printed the most environmentally conscious series of books in the world. Vegetable inks, 100 per cent recycled card and “environmentally friendly” glues have been used, it claims. Chief Executive Gary June said its Made with Care series represented “a best practice example of how green and clean books can be produced in the future”. The first four titles include a guide to organic gardening and a children’s encyclopedia on the environment. The company, a division of Penguin books, has called their launch “a global publishing first”. By removing the book’s jackets and an energy efficient binding process, the company said it had saved both paper and energy. It has also printed the books on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), ensuring a tree is planted for each one used.

Courtesy: ‘Young World’, Supplement to The Hindu, April 15, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Thought for Today : March 31, 2008

We want infinite energy, infinite zeal, infinite courage, and infinite patience, then only will great things be achieved – Swami Vivekananda
Grateful thanks to Public-Domain-Photos.com
(www.public-domain-photos.com) and the author of the photo, Paolo Neo.

A Thought for Today : March 30, 2008

The unfoldment of divinity is the greatest act
open to mankind - Vedanta
Grateful thanks to Public-Domain-Photos.com
and the author of the photo, Magnus Rosendahl

A Thought for Today : March 29, 2008

Work which is done inspired by a true ideal is transformed into worship – Swami Vireswarananda
Grateful thanks to Public-Domain-Photos.com (www.public-domain-photos.com) and the author of the photo, Magnus Rosendahl

Science of Value Education

Book Review: Philosophy and Science of Value Education in the context of Modern India
Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Gol Park, Kolkata-700029.
x+332 pp

Reviewed by Dr S C Goswami, Former Reader in Chemistry, Dayal Singh College, New Delhi

If by ‘education’ is meant ‘character-building’ and ‘man-making’, then value education is the crying need of the hour. Value education is needed not only for students in various educational institutions but also for all human beings in all stages and walks of life. How to do it constitutes the theme of this book, which contains thoughtful addresses delivered by twenty dignitaries, including educationists, scientists, media persons, monks, and philosophers, at a national seminar held at the Institute of Culture.

The seminar comprised six academic sessions with fourteen papers presented, two panel discussions, and inaugural and valedictory sessions, held over the course of two days in January 2005. In his address of benediction, Swami Ranganathananda, fourteenth president of the Ramakrishna Order, says: “The problem for India in the modern age is the assimilation of the forces released by science, technology, and democracy, which are being grafted on to her traditional tree. The success of this experiment depends upon two factors: one, the vitality of the spiritual sap running in the tree, and two, its hospitality to the new forces contained in the grafts’.

In his inaugural speech, Prof.Kireet Joshi points out that yoga is a valid means for realization of values. Dr Saibal Gupta draws our attention to the daivi sampad, a detailed catalogue of universal values that appears in the Bhagavadgita. He also narrates how Niels Bohr, the famous physicist, had deep interest in some ideas of the Upanishads, an interest that was shared by Erwin Schroedinger. The Indian value system is based on the experience of the unity of existence. The doctrines of innate human divinity and oneness of existence, according to Swami Atmapriyananda, have the potential for ushering in a new world order. According to Prof.J.S.Rajput, the term ‘value education’ implies valuable education, education through which humans are enlightened. An education based on the Upanishads, Gita and yoga is valuable because it enlightens.

The topics covered in the volume range from the plight of family values in modern times, to scientific, genetic, and political aspects of value education, to value-based leadership and the role of the media. Unfortunately, a number of careless typographical errors litter the pages of the book; more careful proof-reading would improve a second edition.

Every participant has contributed to the literary and knowledge content of the book. It is recommended especially to our political leaders as a wide-ranging treatment of a vitally important subject.

Courtesy: ‘Prabuddha Bharata’ (Awakened India), a monthly journal from the Ramakrishna Order, April 2008.
Grateful thanks to 'Prabuddha Bharata' and Dr.S.C.Goswami.

Letters-14: "Women's Day"

While there is a symbolism in observing a day every year as International Women’s Day, it risks the possibility of falling into a ceremonious mould and ending up as an annual ritual. It already seems to have become so in India. Leaders cutting across the political divide make grandiloquent but empty speeches to a selective and captive audience. The same political class has sabotaged the Women’s Reservation Bill on some pretext or the other for years. It is ironical that the most important and significant legislation that can go a long way in empowering women is removed from cold storage, debated upon and sent right back to the freezer, from one Lok Sabha to another. - Shahabuddin Nadeem, Bangalore

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 15, 2008 (‘Letters to the Editor)
Grateful thanks to Mr Shahabuddin Nadeem and The Hindu.

'Celebrating the Book' by Rachna Chhabria

Celebrating the book
International Children’s Book Day (ICBD) are held on April 2 to honour Hans Christian Andersen

By Rachna Chhabria

There is a day for mothers, for fathers, for children, for friendship and many other such days. A day that is more than welcome, is the International Children’s Book Day sponsored by IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People), a non-profit organization representing an international network of people. The sole aim of IBBY is to bring books and children together. The first encounter with the world – amusing, delightful and quirky characters are all courtesy books. Today books are pitted against PSP’s, computers, iPods, and cell phones to claim a share of the ever shifting attention.

International Children’s Book Day celebrations are held on April 2 to commemorate one of the greatest children’s writers, Hans Christian Andersen, who was born on the same day in 1805, in Odense, Denmark. After his father’s death, H.C.Andersen as he later came to be known as in his country, worked in factory. He displayed a talent for poetry, publishing a volume of poetry in 1830. H.C.Andersen is famous for his fairtytales, “The Tin Soldier”, “The Tinderbox”, “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, and “The Little Mermaid”, which gained popularity and delighted children worldwide. These fairytales have been translated into many languages. Hans Christian Andersen died in 1875.

Each year a different national section of IBBY, has the wonderful opportunity to be the international sponsor of the International Children’s Book Day. The host nation decides upon a theme, and invites a prominent author from the host country to create a message for the children of the world, and a well known illustrator is asked to design a poster. These messages are used in many and different ways to promote books and reading.

The host country for the 2008 International Children’s Book Day is Thailand and the theme is ‘BOOKS ENLIGHTEN; KNOWLEDGE DELIGHTS’.

You can pitch in and support the ICBD by disappearing into the pages of a book at least on that day. Not only will you emerge armed with knowledge, you will also get to meet delightful characters that only reside in the world of books.

Courtesy: ‘Young World’, Supplement to The Hindu, March 28, 2008

Grateful thanks to Rachna Chhabria and The Hindu.
And sorry readers! sorry for the belated posting.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Thought for Today : March 28, 2008

My grateful thanks to Public-Domain-Photos.com and
the author of the photo, Jon Sullivan for the wonderful photo
I have had dreams and I have had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams - Jonas Salk

A Thought for Today : March 27, 2008

My grateful thanks to Public-Domain-Photos.com and author of the photo,
Jon Sullivan, for the wonderful photograph
The secret of inner peace is self-control; not scattering your energies, but holding them in check and directing them usefully.

Courtesy: 'The Secrets of Inner Peace' by J.Donald Waters (My grateful thanks to J.Donald Waters for his excellent booklet)

A Thought for Today : March 26, 2008

The path is full of thorns. One method is to cleanse it and another to put on shoes. People are sometimes offensive. Be not affected by their offence. – Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa

Letters-13: "Subramania Bharati's Letters"

1. The letters of Tamil poet Subramania Bharati (The Hindu, Madurai, April 6, 2008) have thrown light on the political, social and economic conditions in the pre-independence era. The problems he has referred to, which exist even today, could have easily been eradicated from society had we taken a few of the sentiments expressed by him seriously. The unfulfilled dreams of the young poet can be realized by following his unselfish ideals. The initiative should come from well-meaning citizens, politicians, social workers and elites in the literary field. – K.Deenadayalan, Salem.

2. By publishing the letters written by Subramania Bharati, The Hindu rekindled the spirit of millions of Mahakavi’s followers. Our politicians can learn a lesson or two from him on nationalism transcending the barriers of caste, creed and religion. For this precious discovery, The Hindu and its team deserve to be specially praised. – Prabhu Jagannathan, Chennai.

3. The painstaking efforts of A.R.Venkatachalapathy, Professor, MIDS, and K.Rajendrababu, chief librarian of The Hindu, in sifting through the records and ferreting out from the old microfilmed archives the letters and articles scripted by the great nationalist bard and published in The Hindu paid rich dividends and threw light on the hitherto unknown facets of the poet’s life. From his writings, we can visualize his characteristic courage while taking on the mighty British regime. The language, with prolific flow interspersed with punch words, bears testimony to his mastery over English, his sense of patriotism and his strong desire for achieving social transformation along with political freedom. Hats off to The Hindu for providing this illustrious poet a forum to air his views even while he was in trying situations. The funeral of this epoch-making writer was attended by only a few. But The Hindu paid a fitting tribute to him on September 12, 1921, through a short editorial. – R.Sampath, Chennai.

4. Subramania Bharati’s letters made interesting reading. His thoughts on casteism, ill-treatment of widows and his ideas on Tamil were way ahead of his times. It is amazing to see how proficiently he used English to express his thoughts on India being a social slave. His views are relevant even today and have a profound impact on the reader. Thanks to The Hindu for giving the readers a rare glimpse into such inspired and thought-provoking letters. – Sumathi Chandrashekaran, Chennai.

5. Congratulations on behalf of lakhs of Bharati admirers and lovers to The Hindu on its splendid publication of the letters, which served to educate the present generation on the spirit of the patriot. The full-page dedication speaks volumes about the love and regard The Hindu has for the Mahakavi. – K.Ramamurthi, Chennai.

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, April 8, 2008 (‘Letters to the Editor’)

(I am also one of the lakhs of admirers of the Mahakavi and my grateful thanks to THE HINDU for publishing his letters.)

Science Watch-8: "DNA Testing Kit on Sale"

A swab, a consent form, an envelope and a waiting period of about five days is all there is to settling paternity issues with the test kit now available at some U.S.drug stores.
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, March 28, 2008 (Newscape)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Thought for Today : March 25, 2008

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes - Disraeli
My grateful thanks to Public-Domain-Photos.com for freely providing the photo (http://www.public-domain-photos.com/) and author of the photo, Paolo Neo).

A Thought for Today : March 24, 2008

One shining quality lends a lustre to another, or hides some glaring defect - William Hazlitt
My grateful thanks to Public-Domain-Photos.com and author of the photo, Jon Sullivan

Letters-12: "Water dispute between Karnataka and Tamilnadu"

1. Mindless acts of vandalism have erupted in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the Hogenakkal drinking water project - an issue settled as early as 1998 by the two States. The tendency of politicians to fish in troubled waters is well known. But it is sad that they are fanning hatred among the people on both sides. It is hoped saner and wiser counsel will prevail and senior politicians will appeal to the people to stop the escalation of the crisis. - R.Ramachandra Rao, Hyderabad

2. Do the pro-Kannada groups want to settle the issue on the streets by breaking windshields and deflating tyres? Their counterparts in Tamil Nadu too are doing the same. The common man who uses public transport is put to great hardship by such acts of vandalism. No State is an island. Each must co-exist peacefully with the other, particularly a neighbour. Violence will not solve any issue and the streets are certainly not the place to solve the problem of water-sharing between neighbouring States. - K.M.G.Vivekanandam, Madurai.

3. Those disturbing peace and harmony in Bangalore should be dealt with firmly. They represent neither the people nor the culture of Karnataka. These fringe elements not only tarnish the image of peace-loving and tolerant Kannadigas but also pose a threat to our federal structure. The Centre should evolve a federal water resource policy based on sound scientific principles rather than leaving the issue of water-sharing to opportunist political parties and ignorant farmers. - S.Himesh, Bangalore.

4. I shudder to think of what will happen to our country if all of our fail to realize that resources such as water are meant to be shared by everybody fairly and judiciously. If one State has surplus water as a result of abundant rainfall, it should be prepared to share it with its neighbours. I wonder why we cannot love India, leaving aside all our narrow selfish interests. - Akavoor Narayanan, New Delhi.
Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, April 5, 2008 ('Letters to the Editor').
My grateful thanks to The Hindu and the individuals who wrote the letters; to Public-Domain-Photos.com for freely providing the photo (http://www.public-domain-photos.com/ and author of the photo, Paolo Neo).

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Thought for Today : March 23, 2008

All life is an experiment - Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Thought for Today : March 22, 2008

To be creative, relax and let your mind go to work, otherwise the result is either a copy of something you did before or reads like an army manual - Kenneth H. Gordon, Jr.

A Thought for Today : March 21, 2008

If you want to develop your creativity, establish regular work habits. Allow time for the incubation of ideas, and adhere to your individual rhythm. Violations of this rhythm can retard your creative efficiency - Eugene Raudsepp

A Thought for Today : March 20, 2008

Life is a long lesson in humility - James M. Barrie

A Thought for Today : March 19, 2008

Sound health is the greatest of gifts; contentedness, the greatest of riches; trust, the greatest of qualities – Gautama Buddha

A Thought for Today : March 18, 2008

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant – Martin Luther King,Jr.

A Thought for Today : March 17, 2008

Be faithful in small things also, because it is in them that your strength lies – Mother Teresa

Friday, April 04, 2008

My Album-38: "Pictures from our Puja Room and elsewhere!"

Sorry, pictures are not clear! Maybe due to insufficient light. I confess that I have to learn a lot about photography.

My Album-37: "Aravind, yet another photo!"

Yet another photo of Aravind. Nobody can deny that he has a charming, photogenic face, what?

My Album-36: "Shweta poses for me!"

This is my neighbour's daughter, Shweta. Thank you Shweta for posing!

My Album-35: "Leaves turning into Flowers!"

On my morning walk, I found this beautiful creeper which turns leaves into flowers. Is it not quite charming? Clicked by me using Vinod's Nokia N70m. Thanks to Nokia and Vinod! I am becoming a photographer. I never thought taking photographs would be this easy.

My Album-34: "A beaming Ammu with her new bicycle"

Clicked by me using Vinod's Nokia N70m. My venture into photography!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

How many beautiful definitions of Yoga!

Yoga is that which unites.

Small selfish ‘I’ of man expanding into bigger selfless ‘I’ is yoga.

When mind unites with body, samskar unites with mind, buddhi unites with mind and Sankalpa unites with buddhi and produces a wonderful result for the expansion of self – that is called yoga.

Yoga is an all-round personality development at physical, mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels.

Dexterity in action is yoga.

Gaining mastery over mind is yoga.

Equanimity in emotional body is yoga.

Yoga is silencing as well as expanding the mind (intellect).

Excerpts from ‘Personality Development: A Yogic View’ by Sumant Chandwadkar, ‘Yuva Bharati’ (Voice of Youth), Monthly magazine, April 2008

Letters-11: "Senior Citizens"

The extinction of the joint family system, coupled with rapid technological advancement, has alienated the senior citizen from the mainstream. The old need empathy and understanding rather than sympathy and flattery. Senior citizens, for their part, should conduct themselves in a manner that befits their age, adopting a philosophical lifestyle and being a role-model for the younger generation. – V.V.Jayaraman, Chennai

Courtesy: The Hindu, Madurai, April 1, 2008 (Letters to the Editor)

A Thought for Today : March 16, 2008

There are two kinds of failures: those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought - Laurence J. Peter

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Thought for Today : March 15, 2008

Even the least work done for others awakens the power within; even thinking the least good of others gradually instills into the heart the strength of a lion – Swami Vivekananda

A Thought for Today : March 14, 2008

If there is in us an unshakable determination ‘to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield’, our quest shall surely unravel a splendid bequest - Swami Siddhinathananda

A Thought for Today : March 13, 2008

If there were no problems, there would be no opportunities – Unknown


“When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first thing to be bought and sold are legislators’ – P.J.Rourke

Courtesy: S.Upendran,
upendrankye@gmail.com and ‘Know Your English’, The Hindu, Madurai, April 1, 2008

Health Watch-7: 'Protective Fasting'

Just 48 hours of fasting protected mice from the side effects of chemotherapy treatment which wiped out much of the cancer in their bodies, according to a study. Courtesy: ‘Newscape’, The Hindu, Madurai, April 1, 2008

Letters-10: "Laudable Initiative"

1. The initiative taken by the Darul Uloom Deoband to denounce terrorism is highly commendable (“Journey from Deoband – exacting but rewarding”, The Hindu, Madurai, March 1, 2008). As the article rightly says, “the Muslim community will need to move away from the victimhood refrain” and assert its rights in a democratic way. The engagement of clerics in this process was much needed because, if carried forward in an organized manner, it will develop into a major setback for those who spread terrorism in the name of religion. – Vipul Grover, Chandigarh

2. The Deoband declaration, though a little late, is a significant first step by the Muslim community to come to terms with reality. Had the Deoband came out openly against terror must earlier, it would have had a salutary influence. Darul Uloom Deoband is the religious fountainhead for most Sunnis of Pakistan and Bangladesh too. It has a responsibility to influence the course of events in a positive way. - Subramanyam Sridharan, Chennai

Courtesy: ‘Letters to the Editor’, The Hindu, Madurai, March 3, 2008