Fisher women who sell processed dry fish will soon start getting messages in their mailbox about the latest stuff on sale. Devised to reduce the digital divide among the rural and the urban populace, this novel initiative of the Kerala State IT mission involved a 45 day free training of over 100 women from the fishermen community in Poovar, near the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram.
Though the organisers were skeptical whether this project will be a success, they were truly elated by the tremendous response from the fisher women. Over one hundred women between the ages of 18 and 30 participated in the first phase of this programme. More women have expressed their interest in undergoing the training, which will now be carried forward by the Poovar panchayat to be followed by the other panchayats across the state.
The programme involves basic hands-on training of the internet apart from basic English teaching, which was conducted in association with the Erikavila Vanita Sangham. Poovar has always been famous for its potential in tourism and fishing, and many women who attended the programme felt that if they could pick up some basic English, it will give them a distinct advantage. Though this programme was initiated for the benefit of fish mongers, the participants also included students and house wives who were keen to keep abreast with the latest technological advancements.
The programme conducted with faculty support from the Centre for Development of Imaging Technology (C-DIT) proved a great success and demonstrated that age or profession cant be a hindrance in pursuing learning. Of the 95 women who took the examination at the end of the course, 15 passed with distinction and 64 bagged first class.
Kerala has created yet another mile stone in promoting literacy by adopting those novel programme which took the fisher women into the exciting world of chips and circuits!
Kerala drivers especially those in Kochi are infamous for their over use of blaring horns, jumping traffic signals and breaking the road rules. Recently the Kerala Transport Minister Jose Thettayil had appealed to the motorists to make a quality change in their driving etiquette and road rules to be at par with the rest of the world. The newspaper report of the minister’s speech created lot of interest among drivers in Kochi that one among them decided to give it a try by mending his ways and practicing good driving.
When the day’s service began, he decided to stick to his slow and steady principle. A rival bus driver, smirked at him and sped past him with no real challenge coming from the reformist who preferred to keep his speed limit. The conductor who was surprised and annoyed at the unexpected turn of events and the apparent drop in adrenalin of the driver yelled at him and tried to pep him up. “ Come on ,ram the pedal and beat them all” But in his new avatar, what the driver did was just to shook his head and drove the bus within the permissible speed limits. This irked not only the conductor but also the passengers in the bus, who are well accustomed to rash and thrilling city rides.
However, after a couple of hours, the irresistible urge to break free reigned over the hapless Kochi driver, who is conditioned only for speed drives. Habits do die hard and the effect of restrained driving was clearly showing up. Suddenly he stopped the bus and jumped out; dismayed by his erratic behavior he was taken to a hospital nearby . The doctor said that he is perfectly fine except the fact that he in extreme mental duress and when the doctor found out the reason he opined that sticking to his normal driving pattern would be the best possible option.
The driver was relieved that he got a clue of what was bogging him down and as soon as hit his seat, he rammed the pedal at full blast and set out on his habitual rash and heart racing drive. The driver was happy and relaxed so were most of the passengers who are addicted to super speed rides. As he wound up his duty hours he muttered “ these reforms are not for us in Kochi …Good bye minister and walked off with a naughty smile!
Viira is a cab service with a difference, operated by a few women of substance in the mega city of Mumbai. Operated by women and only for women, it is a female driver bureau, recruitment agency and a motor training school all at once. The word , viira, literally means courageous woman and indeed the team behind this novel venture has beaten all the odds to come out bold and brave.
The three month training package offered by viira for women drivers includes 155 hours of driving practice in addition to classes on traffic signs, customer relations, etiquette, grooming and even martial arts, which helps the cab drivers to be bold and on their own on the city roads. Apart from making hundreds of women self employed and confident, viira is propagating the art of skillful driving and busting the myth that women do not make good drivers! Armed with batons and pepper spray to handle the eve teasers that they may come across, the women cabbies are taking the success saga of women power to higher planes by every day.
It is high time that we at Kerala too emulate the model set by these bold and beautiful women in Mumbai and it is interesting to note that one of the partners of viira is a Malayali. A cab service on this line will alleviate the mobility issues of senior citizens and young girls who often find it difficult and unsafe to travel alone in taxis.
We probably are in more need of a cab service for women by women than anyone else in the country as Kerala has one of the highest instances of sexual harassment and eve teasing, which makes traveling on the city roads a hazard for women . With the latest incident of the brutal rape and killing of a hapless young women in a passenger train still remaining fresh in our minds, we are in urgent need of cabs and auto rickshaws run for women by women. Any takers for this novel concept?
In case you are on a visit to Kerala then you would be spotting many hoardings with interesting names like Mountain mist, cloud nine, Misty meadows, Green Valley and many many more all along its highways! In case you thought that these were verdant nature parks and forest trails, that Kerala was once famous for, you would be in for a shocking surprise. These are nothing but names of apartments, hotels and home stays that try to lure you with these attractive names, that evoke a Kerala feel!
Kerala was once a land of misty mountains and green valleys; however now a days, all we have are these tasteless concrete structures that have sprang up all along Kerala! For those who are visiting this State after a long gap, this change would be far more evident and distressing.
Unfortunately, Kerala has become a haven for the land mafias and land grabbers where you can buy a hillock, encroach into the backwaters , fill the fertile paddy fields or even sneak into the fragile eco zones and wild life sanctuaries by greasing the palms of the concerned officials. The cash flushed NRIs and the mass tourist trails have indeed left its impact on the unique ecosystem of Kerala.
As the pressure on the natural resources is on the rise by the day, Kerala has long ceased to be God’s own country. Before we head to a point of no return, we all need to put our heads together to make sure that we preserve the landscape and natural beauty of Kerala, which can only ensure the growth of tourism in future. Let us not put our rivers, lakes and paddy fields for sale, for a few pennies. The need of the hour is sustainable tourism on the lines of Kumbalangi village or Lakshadeep , where there is a clamp down on commercial activity and constructions.
The new visa regulations and the escalating costs have brought in a sharp decline in tourism in Kerala and if we fail to heed to the warning signals, it is only a matter of time before Kerala is pushed into oblivion in the global tourist map.
The earth has enough for everyone’s NEED, not for everyone’s GREED.
Kochi has been placed in the elite league of maritime trading nations with the opening of the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal, which was dedicated to the nation today. OEL Dubai became the first cargo vessel to enter the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) to ink a new chapter in the global maritime trade.The total cost of the first and second phase of the terminal is expected to be around Rs 6,250 crore.
Kochiites are truly delighted at the completion of the first phase of the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), after a long wait. It will bring in lot of employment opportunities to this city and will mark an increase in the exports and imports from the Port. Touted as one of the most modern ports, Kochi will be a preferred choice for traders all over the world for its quick cargo handling facilities. The commissioning of the transshipment terminal will also bring in an impetus for many industries such as tea, rubber and cash crops of Kerala About 1,100 container lorries are expected to pass through Kochi for ferrying cargo and it will result in a flurry of activities in all sectors of economy .
Kochi will emerge as one of the most favoured destinations in the world with this feat. The hospitality industry across the state will be hugely benefited as the demand for hotels and boarding facility will increase manifold with a large number of people from all over the world frequenting the city. The logistic sector also is expected to make an exponential growth and will throw open more employment opportunities as cargo handling will require huge manpower. The project, which will be operated by Dubai Port World (DPW),would make Kochi a key player in the maritime industry and would reduce India’s dependence on foreign ports for its trans-shipment requirements.
To catch up with the immense opportunities that ICTT would bring to this city, Kochi will have to work against the clock to ensure good roads and supporting infrastructure to ensure the benefits that this terminal will bestow. Kochi indeed has done us all proud by going global!
Police station – the mere mention of it would bring images of gory detention cells, the grim faced policemen and the stony silence beyond the huge walls that cut you off from the sounds and colors of the outside world. Not any more! Step into this people friendly police station that would remind you of a guest house with a friendly help desk to guide you and to make you comfortable. You will be forced to change your ideas about a conventional police station when you are at the recently inaugurated Hill Palace police station that has a fully air conditioned police library with an impressive collection of books.
This is the first time in the history of Kerala Police that a library for the public is being opened with the intention of changing the conventions of a police station. Just step into this library with a difference that lends book of all types including astrology, life style, fiction or even astronomy from among over 6000 titles that are on display in this library.
It is interesting to note that all the books have been donated by people from their personal collection. People of all walks of life have been actively participating in this endeavor to make it a success. A head load worker set a model by contributing a book, which he has treasured from his childhood. Mr. Madhava Panickar from Rajagiri Engineering college has donated over 750 titles. Situated at the top floor of the police rest room in the Hill palace station complex, this library also has a chess board and carom board to keep the readers engaged. Selected people are being included in the advisory committee of the governing body to ensure people participation.
The cops also will be extending their help in ensuring a smooth functioning of the library. The readers need only to browse through the computerized catalog to know whether the book they wanted to read is on the shelves. Gone are the days when people used to shudder at the thought of going to a police station , now the law enforcement agencies are all set to make your life safe, secure and above all enjoyable with this novel concept!
All work and no play will make Jack a dull boy; and our boss, Sholto knows this better than anyone else. On a short visit to his Kerala office, his innovative ideas have made the mundane job chores really exciting. Unlike any typical Indian office, where people sit in their workspace all day and do their work, without little interaction, our office in Karma Kerala has a carefree charm and style of an English setup.
The staff members are encouraged to have short interactive sessions in between and to mingle with the rest of the office. Talking and laughing during office hours might be considered as gross indiscipline in any other office in India but in Karma Kerala it is encouraged as it nurtures interpersonal skills and recharge our brain cells after a long stint at work.
Simple activities to enhance lateral thinking and out of the box thoughts interspersed with our working hours make it more fruitful and interesting. In the last few days, we have even picked up a few salsa dance steps from our colleagues Sharaz and Tanweer who are well trained salsa exponents. The whole hearted participation of the staff members have helped a lot to break the ice, to shatter the inhibitions and to mingle with everyone in the office, breaking the smothering cordons of coterie among us.:)
Hope that the new working style will become imprinted in each and everyone of us as it will surely bring about a quality change not only in the productivity of the employees but also in the work culture and camaraderie of the employees.
That nature had been bountiful as regards Kerala is a matter of no doubt. The ‘God’s Own Country’ tag that has been a gift from tourism promoters is a cliché that we all like to repeat day in and day out. But there are elements or maybe people who don’t care to be that benevolent, things that tend to keep people away from this land of vanishing rivers and rivulets, mountains and hillocks that are falling prey to those who set up quarries, forests that are falling to axes, dance forms and a rich literature that not many are bothered about etc.
Getting a tourist visa to India is not an easy thing, as many of our visitors say. They would vouch that India is more of Bureaucrats’ Own Country. Our bosses at Karmakerala, Sholto Ramsay and Mark Scott, who are frequent visitors to Kerala, have much to say. I had a face-to-face talk with Sholto and a chat with Mark on skype….
“You can visit Sri Lanka, you can visit Pakistan, you can visit Ethiopia, you can visit anywhere in the Emirates, It’s so simple….But with India, it’s not so! The Indian tourism industry is not as big as is usually thought; in fact it’s a relatively small one. For example more people visit Edinburgh, a city of 500,000, than visit the whole of India in a year…”
Mark too has lots to say-
“The tourist visa costs India more money in lost revenue than it gains in visa revenue!!…So if you had to choose where would you go? Somewhere where you have to send your passport off and pay to get a visa? Or to a country who says we love tourists just come here and spend your money?”
And there’s that incredible little detail about the photograph size…Click here for the full story…
Due to the apathy of the concerned, hundreds of muniyaras, the dolmens of the Megalithic age lie in ruins. The absence of a proper mechanism to protect these ancient vestiges has hampered its preservation. There are many ‘muniyaras’ of various shapes and sizes in Kerala, which are on the verge of extinction due to the exposure to the vagaries of nature and human interference. Anti-social elements and nomads who use the sites as shelter has also resulted in its destruction.
Muniyaras are made of three or more upright stones and a huge capstone, which are believed to be the burial site of the prehistoric people. Thought to be constructed during a particular period of time by a tribe which revered the dead, muniyaras are of great historical significance and are links to our ancestry. Though not much information is available on these ancient tomb stones, the studies of anthropologists have discovered the remains of pottery and iron metal inside the chambers.
Nachivayal has a cluster of several dolmens and it remain a mystery how these massive granite slabs were made and how the capstone was lifted to position it on top of the base stones.. Only by creating awareness can these stone tombs can be preserved and it is our duty as responsible citizens to protect these exceptional muniyaras that are reminders of a by gone era and the imprints left by a generation that once lived here.