It was a long wait for the Keralites before the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee finally announced the Union budget 2010. People of Kerala were expecting something to cheer about this year, but it turned out to be a disappointment for them, with the total revenue allocation for the state dropping.
Well this year’s budget seemed to be favouring more on the province from where these ministers hail from, first it was the Railway Minister ‘Mamata Banerjee showering goodies to West Bengal in the railway budget 2010. Followed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s proposal to include embankment schemes along rivers Bhagirathi and Ganga-Padma in the Central Sponsored Flood Management Programme, will benefit the people of Eastern state. At large the budget 2010 has thrashed the hopes of Kerala which was expecting something this year.
The left government of Kerala has termed the budget to be a corporate’s budget with nothing for the common man. The so-called common man was bearing the pressure of inflation and with this budget it seems the “Aam aadmi”(common man) has nothing to be happy. Even the Kerala government were continuously demanding relaxations to protect the domestic sector by maximizing the custom tariff of primary agricultural products but nothing came out for them this year.
Highlights of Union Budget 2010
What got dearer :
- Big Cars
- Cigarettes and Cigars
- Non-Smoking tobacco products
- Air Travel ( due to the rise in fuel prices)
What got cheaper:
- Mobile phones
- Medical Equipment
- Agricultural Equipment
- CFL bulbs
- Clean energy equipments like solar panels
- Set top boxes
- Compact Disc
The budget might have triggered the sensex to crawl up by 176 point but it failed to please the people with fuel prices going up. It seems people of Kerala have to wait for the next year’s Union budget to find if they have something to cheer.
On being asked to the people about their say on this budget, they were not so excited. It seems the calculation of the common man of Kerala has completely gone down with the hike in fuel price and nothing special for the state in the budget!
Kochi will be the drop anchor spot of the reconstructed 9th century ship, “ The Jewel Of Muscat”, which is retracing a historic Voyage. It will be berthed at the BTB berth from March 10 for a month before it set sails to Singapore, where it will be made a museum.
The Jewel of Muscat is designed as per the blue print of a 9th century wreck of a ship that was carrying many priceless items like silver and gold artifacts, spices and Chinese ceramics, now known as the Tang Treasure. Its remnants were discovered in 1998 in the Indonesian waters. The Singapore government bought the Tang treasure in an auction to display it in a museum.
This 18M long ship built in Indian and Burmese teak and a unique tree, ‘Punna’, which is a native of Kerala, is a gift from the Government of Oman to the people of Singapore. The ship building team comprising mostly of Malayaless, made this sewn plank ship with wood and coconut fibre ropes without using even a nail or a screw- the ship making technology which is exclusive to Kerala . The 1300 year old method of dhow making which involves sewing the hull planks with hand made ropes make the ship extremely stable and resilient even in choppy waters. The ship is solely driven by the wind sails and has no modern gadgets except life jackets and navigational tools.
To celebrate the first stopover of the ship, the Oman Government is sending a cultural team to Kochi where a major event is planned. During its dry dock at Kochi, the technical crew, most of them from Kerala will carry out its maintenance . Following the old trading route, the ship will reach Singapore through the waters of Srilanka and Malaysia, five months later,where it will be made a museum in which the tang Treasure will be displayed . Though The Jewel of Muscat is a venture of Oman, the fact that the technology and the manpower behind this magnificent creation is from the distant land of Kerala, is indeed a matter of pride for all of us.
Interestingly , the new leaflets and brochures of the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation, “Discover Kerala” is in a way an invitation for the native community to explore the unseen and the unexplored Kerala and are not targeted for national or international travelers.
Discover Kerala has a series of budget packages that includes some of the best sights of Kerala.
The word, Utharayanam literally means the Northward journey of sun, and aptly, this budget tour package includes two circuits of 7 nights/8 day trip of North Kerala. The tour starts from Kannur and ends at Kochi, through some of the most popular tourist attractions and must see destinations like Parassinikkadavu, Tholpetty, Silent Valley and Malayatoor. The other circuit from Kochi to Kannur moves through Athirappally , Cheruthuruthy, Edakkal Caves , Payyambalam and Kappil.
This package has two circuits that covers the Southern parts of Kerala spanning 6 nights/ 7 nights . The first one starts from the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram and ends in Kochi, covering places like Kanyakumari, Kovalam, Konni, Ramakkalmedu and Thattekad. The other circuit moves in the opposite direction covers places like Eravikulam, Thekkady, Ashtamudi and Padmanabhapuram Palace
For those who wish to see the best of Kerala, should pick up this package that spans 11 nights/12 days, which comes at an unbeatable price of just Rs.13750 for two people including room rent, breakfast and taxes. Covering the whole of Kerala right from Kanyakumari to Kappil, these packages are customised and the travelers can join the tour from any spot they wish or use personal or hired vehicles for travel. Guided tours and assistance at arrival and departure points make these packages really value added. KTDC has an added advantage of having some of the best accommodation options and economy hotels under its fold all over the State.
‘Discover Kerala’ will add further impetus to domestic tourism and will create better awareness on the tourism potential of the State among the local community. Enjoy a cheap yet fulfilling holiday right at the backyard and explore the unexplored facade of God’ own country.
Montblanc known for its famous pens the world over is used to bringing out collector’s pens in the name of famous people and celebrities. However, when they came out with a pricey Mahatma Gandhi pen, The Centre for Consumer Education in Kerala filed a lawsuit.
This lawsuit was an ideological one, for Gandhiji was a man of austerity and this was hardly the way to honour him, according to the opponents.
This was despite the fact that Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi had endorsed the idea. His charitable foundation has already received a donation of $145,000 from Montblanc and will receive between $200 and $1,000 for each pen sold. The BBC had this to report:
Just 241 of the handmade pens will be sold, reflecting the number of miles Gandhi walked in his famous march against salt taxes in 1930.
Each pen comes with an eight-metre golden thread that can be wound around the pen, representing the spindle and cotton Gandhi used to weave simple cloth.
So what is the price of the Mahatma Gandhi pen you may be wondering – ONLY $24,000 (£16,000) or roughly 12,00,000 rupees!! The gold and silver limited edition pen includes an engraving of Gandhiji.
This is just an example of the stuff the rich and famous lap up to amuse themselves and I’m left wondering what would Gandhiji have said about this whole issue? “Hey Ram”, perhaps?
The Kerala government has announced the ‘dream season’ from April to September to draw more domestic tourists. The fourth in the Dream Season campaign series, it will also have interesting travel packages and offers too.
The Kerala Tourism Secretary V. Venu said
A wide range of great-value travel packages for domestic tourists will be effective from April.
Ranging from backwater houseboat cruises to hill station holidays, ayurveda rejuvenation packages to monsoon honeymoon trips – the tourists will be offered the very best of Kerala by hotels, resorts and tour operators in Kerala
It is heartening to note that the global recession has not adversely affected the tourism industry in Kerala as there has been a substantial increase in domestic tourism during the previous year. To promote domestic tourism, which registered a six percent growth last year, the state tourism department is planning to conduct 15 more road shows in major cities like Punjab and Haryana. The ‘dream season’ holidays have always been hugely popular among tourists and in the coming days, Kerala would be playing host to many more enthusiastic tourists from all over India and abroad.
Lack of space and soil need not be a deterrent anymore for those with a green thumb; thanks to the soil less cultivation or Hydroponics. This system of cultivation is ideal for city dwellers in Kerala and for terrace gardens. In Hydroponics, plants are grown in a nutrient solution in various media like sawdust, rice husk, granules, mineral solutions, coir pith and even in sand. The Institute of Simplified Hydroponics in Mankavu at Calicut helps the users with useful tips on Hydroponics.
Hydroponics is definitely more advantageous than soil gardening. The growth rate and yield of the plants are far more superior than plants that grow on soil. These plants do not have any diseases or pest infestations and are much healthier. You get garden fresh, organic tomatoes, carrots and lettuce all round the year apart from a few envious glances from your guests as well! All types of seasonal vegetables can be grown in a hydroponics kitchen garden. All you need to do is to take time to change the nutrients, pollinate and shade them from sunlight to own a small patch of green canopy in your balcony.
A hydroponic nutrient solution provides all the essential nutrients to a plant that it would have absorbed from soil. Nutrients are available in solutions or powder form; liquids are preferred as they dissolve easily and have a pH buffer, though they are comparatively costlier than the powder forms. Hydroponics is for everyone and it is more fun than just an engaging hobby. It’s simple and hassle- free and the best part is that you need not wear those gloves and apron as you used to do earlier!
The inauguration of the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve at Anappadi in Palakkad district on 20th February is some glad news for those who have been striving to make a difference and voice their opinion in the “Save Our Tigers” campaign launched by Aircel.
Well now, this shows that Kerala does really care and is solid proof as to how the people of Kerala do feel about this sensitive issue. “Action speaks louder than words “and yes, this venture does call for a lot of appreciation.
It was only recently that the dwindling Tiger population of the country caught the common man’s attention and it was not until Aircel launched their campaign that people began to voice their opinion. But as it is “Better late than Never”, it looks like people are beginning to feel the sting of it and doing all what they can to help save these beasts from mining, poaching and other operations by real estate mafia.
In his inaugural address, Union minister of state for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh said
“The extinction of Tigers is because there is a real-estate mafia, mining mafia and there is a crime syndication which wants to finish-off all Tigers and lay claim to the forest land and that is the real danger. The danger is not just to Tigers but it is to the forest land itself,”
Formerly known as Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, today, this reserve contains 20 out of the 1411 tigers remaining. The Tiger Reserve is the 38th in India and the 2nd in Kerala.
It is a harsh reality that out of the 40, 000 tigers estimated to be in India at the beginning of the 20th century, only around 1400 remain. An even more sad fact projected is that one tiger per day is dying!
The questions -”How did this happen?Where have they gone?” brings in multiple answers-all unsatisfactory! But what we, as citizens of India can do, is to do our best in trying to protect the ones that are remaining!
Antony Thekkek or Thampy Antony as he is popularly known, is a known name in Malayalam Cinema. He made his debut as an actor in Malayalam, with ‘Arabia’, a film that starred his younger brother Babu Antony in the lead. With the Rajeev Anchal-directed English film ‘Beyond the Soul’, Thampy Antony got noted. Then on, he has been busy acting as well as producing films and shuttling between Kerala and the U.S, where he stays and does his business. He is now all set to release his film, ‘Sufi Paranaja Katha’, which he has produced and in which he plays a key role too.
That’s about Thampy Antony in Malayalam Cinema. The big news is that this guy from Kerala is also set to make his presence felt in Hollywood. Antony Thekkek aka Thampy Antony plays the role of a Sikh guy in the Hollywood film ‘Cash’, a Sean Bean starrer, directed by well acclaimed director Stephen Milburn Andersen. Here’s Thampy Antony in conversation, sharing his experiences:
So, what’s your role in ‘Cash‘?
In the film I am playing a Sikh guy, with a beard, turban and all. Sardar Bahadurjit Jateendrapreet Singh is a very lively guy, an interesting character indeed.
How was it, playing the character?
I thoroughly enjoyed doing the character. It was a different kind of experience.
How do you feel, after doing the film?
Happy. I am proud that someone from Kerala, from India could do a key role in such a film, made in America.
How did you become an actor?
Acting had always fascinated me, even when I was in college. But then I went to the U.S and settled there, with my business and all. Then I started writing plays and poems and that earned me many admirers. Hope I don’t sound vain, but that’s a truth. It was then that, in 1995, that I did ‘Arabia’. With ‘Beyond the Soul’ in 2000, it took a new turn. Then I acted in ‘Made in USA’, ‘Palunku’ etc. I have done a key role in ‘Sufi Paranja Katha’, which I have produced. I am also acting in ‘Janaki’ and ‘In Ghost House Inn’; and of course ‘Cash’ too.
You produced ‘Calcutta News’. You are also the producer of ‘Sufi Paranja Katha’. What next, as producer?
My next film, as producer, will be ‘Jihad’, a film on terrorism, directed by Sohannlal.
Ah, great! All the best, for ‘Sufi Paranja Katha’ and ‘Cash’. Let’s hope you get to do more films here in Malayalam and also in Hollywood.
The country is being urged to support the magnificent tiger our national animal which is now just 1411 in number. A dismal number when once the jungles of India were full of them, sending shivers down a human’s spine if he were to go to the jungle for firewood.
Yes the Tiger was the lord of the jungle and the fear kept humans away from the forests. The beautiful, ferocious animal was in fact helping to conserve nature from human encroachment – one of nature’s own conservationists!
But we are to blame, human encroachment led to tigers being called man-eaters. In the book “Man-eaters of Kumaon” Jim Corbett had this to say about the tiger -
Human beings are not the natural prey of tigers, and it is only when tigers have been incapacitated through wounds or old age that, in order to survive, they are compelled to take to a diet of human flesh.
A tiger on a fresh kill, or a wounded tiger, or a tigress with small cubs, will occasionally kill human beings who disturb them; but these tigers cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be called man-eaters,though they are often so called.
Like always ignorance, fear and superstition in our minds have been the cause for the tiger being endangered today.
Last year I had the chance to see a magnificent Bengal tiger in a zoo in Malaysia. There were no cages, it was an enclosure with a pond and a few trees, and a moat to prevent the tiger from getting at the visitors. While all animals there seemed to have lost their spirit and seemed tame, the tiger was definitely a wild one- he kept pacing up and down making growls. He was a sight to behold, all other animals paled in comparison including the lazy African lion.
From the Shere Khan of Jungle Book by Kipling to being the pet of Lord Ayyappa in Kerala, the tiger has always been a fascination to us all. The Tiger is our national animal because it is a great symbol of India’s glorious past.
Every state in the country except Gujarat has a tiger reserve and the government is today making a change in this. Join the cause, do your bit, blog, Tweet or join clubs to help save the tiger. We cannot let such a beautiful animal, so much a part of our history and national identity, go extinct!
With only a handful of tigers remaining in the wild- to be precise just 1411 of them!- the count down has started and if we have to save the majestic national animal from extinction we must all act NOW! Bureaucracy, corruption and official apathy have been rated as some of the biggest factors for the sad plight of this dreaded hunter of the wild. It is always better to be late than never . So to conserve this wonderful animal, which is ruthlessly killed for its claws, teeth and skin that fetch a fortune in overseas market, a mass movement is the only solution.
Out of the 27 Tiger Reserves in India, Periyar tiger reserve in Thekkady is in Kerala . Spread over 777 Sq.Km, this wildlife sanctuary is one of the best managed tiger reserves in the country. on February 19th Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary in Palakkad district in Kerala, will be declared as the second tiger reserve in the State by union environment minister Jairam Ramesh. But setting up more tiger reserves is only job half done. Preservation of the animal and the habitat are very crucial to ensure the success to the project Tiger programme. Tribals who are familiar with the forests and the wild animals like the back of their hands should be involved more in the conservation efforts. Steps should be taken to minimize the man – beasts confrontation by clearing off all the illegal human settlements along the periphery of the forests and tiger reserves.
Live and let live should be the policy of all our efforts to ensure a beautiful world to the generations to come. Man has no right to plunder nature and to take everything good from the universe without ever repaying anything. We have not inherited this beautiful world , we have only borrowed it from our forefathers to be passed on to the succeeding generations! Do not wait for the Government to act. We as a 1.15 billion strong Indian community can make things happen. Let us all get together to save the pride of our nation – the magnificent animal of Tiger. Join hands with social network sites like facebook www.facebook.com/StripeytheCub or show your support at http://www.saveourtigers.com/KnowTheStoryTigerPark.php set up by animal lovers and concerned citizens to save our tigers from extinction. Do your might, no matter however small it may be, because it is after all a matter of life and death!