As global warming is spiraling out of control to hit the highest levels in recent times and glaciers fast turning into lakes, earth is at a crisis. It is now or never for us to take urgent measures to even off the ill effects of this man made disaster. The exponential growth in the number of automobiles is considered as one of the main reasons for global warming and the situation is no different in Kochi as well, which has one of the highest car densities in India that is ten times more than the national average. Most of the vehicles on the city roads do not pass the emission standards and one can see thick plumes of dark smoke emanating from the tail as these vehicles of all shapes and sizes wait at the traffic signals!
Switching to eco friendly modes of transport like public transport, hybrid cars or cycles can go a long way in reducing the carbon emissions. We can no longer pass the buck by saying that the public buses are crowded or insufficient to cater to the peak rush hours. The government has introduced a range of public transport options including the sleek air conditioned volvo buses, double deckers and city buses that ply at regular intervals.
As the city observes yet another Bus Day today to encourage people to use the public transport, we can renew our vows to use public transport whenever possible. Organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it will be inaugurated by Transport Minister V S Shivakumar at Fort Kochi by travelling in the low-floor AC bus of the KSRTC. Celebrities like national award winner Salim Kumar, RDO Ramakrishna Pillai, Mayor Tony Chammany, Deputy Mayor Bhadra Sathish,District Collector P I Sheik Pareed and the lead stars of Malarvadi Arts Club will join the function.
All you need to do is to switch to public transport to reduce the traffic congestion and the green house emissions and above all save a pretty penny by way of fuel expenses! The clock is ticking away and if we still choose to turn a Nelson’s eye to this problem , there might not be a second chance! Act Now.
Step on to one of the world’s largest touring and floating book fairs on board the ship MV Logos Hope, which will be berthed in Kochi till June 21. The public can visit the book fair at the North Coal berth in Willingdon Island. This interesting book shop has a rich collection of books on a range of topics and is spread across an area of 610 sq m.
This floating book shop will be open to the public from 10 am to 8 pm from Tuesday to Saturday and from 2 pm to 8 pm on Sunday and Monday. The entry fee is Rs 50. Admission is free for children under 16 years, however they must be accompanied by an adult. Another attraction of this book fair is an international coffee shop with a seating capacity of 800, where the visitors can meet the crew and watch interactive displays.
Operated by GBA Ships, a German charitable organisation, Logos Hope is the fourth in the fleet operated by the organisation. The ship has a work force belonging to over 45 countries apart from volunteers ranging from pensioners, families and even children who serve in their professional capacity.Now that the summer vacations for the school kids in Kerala are in their last leg, this floating book fair would be a great holiday idea for kids who might have run out of all the choices in the past two months:) Check it out!
Awards don’t interest me nowadays. To be honest, I haven’t gone through the list of the National Film Award winners this time, I didn’t feel inclined to. But the fact that Salim Kumar got the National Award for the best actor did impress me. I have always seen him as a sensible actor, someone who could rise above crass comedy and deliver intelligent, sensible humour and also do serious acting, as he had earlier done in ‘Achanurangatha Veedu‘ and ‘Perumazhakaalam‘. Of course there are controversies shrouding this year’s National Awards, as usual. There’s Dileep saying the awards came seeking Malayalam Cinema only since there were no Malayalees in the Jury. I don’t know whether he made that comment in earnest or just in jest. There’s Ranjith being unhappy that he and his ‘Pranchiyettan and the Saint’, a very intelligent and thoroughly enjoyable satire, were neglected at the National Awards. There’s Salim Kumar lashing out against Ranjith. Much more is likely to come, as always.
A friend of mine, who is an internationally acclaimed director as well, was telling me yesterday that it’s good that people like Salim Kumar and Salim Ahmed (the director of ‘Adaminte Makan Abu’) are getting awards. He was saying that those who have been winning awards should in fact be kept out. I pointed out that it doesn’t make sense as the criterion for giving awards is always based on performance and has to be that. I know what he said is right, people who are internationally and nationally acclaimed and who win awards all the time don’t need awards. They are above and beyond awards. But still, how can you not give a good actor an award on the grounds that he has won it many times already, especially if his performance is good. If you were him, won’t you feel bad if you were denied an award simply on such grounds? But what my friend said, isn’t that right too? So, what’s to be done? Consensus solution needed.
As for me, I don’t care about awards, simply because I am not a director or an actor. I am just a lover of movies. I like seeing the movies that make me feel good, that enrich me and entertain me and enlighten me. Now, don’t ask me what kind of movies, the mainstream ones or the arty ones, are the real good ones. To be honest, I won’t want to comment. My boss Sholto would then post a comment asking me about ‘The Bicycle Thieves’, which I know is a gem of a movie, one that makes you look at the medium of cinema with awe. My friends would call me ‘insensible’ as I haven’t yet seen ‘Pazhassi Raja’ or ‘Avatar’ or ‘Anaconda’.I just want to keep watching movies, all kinds of movies. As for awards and award related controversies, let it all go on…such things fuel film-making maybe.
Long Live films and film-making!!
When the newly elected UDF Govt in Kerala led by Oommen Chandy with 13 new ministers took the oath last day it saw the emergence of Jayalakshmi, the youngest minister in the cabinet and the first tribal minister in Kerala. Though it was only her fourth visit to Kerala’s capital city,it turned out to be a historical moment for the 29-year-old Jayalakshmi hailing from a remote hamlet in Wayanad.
Born in the valiant Kurichiya tribe, the frontline warriors of Pazhassi Raja, Jayalakshmi is an expert archer. Living in the traditional joint family of The ‘Palott Tharavadu’ where 5 families live together even now, Jayalakshmi is a graduate in English Literature and has always been interested in politics unlike her two younger sisters who are married and have opted to be house wives.
A committed Panchayat ward member of the remote Thavinjal Village in Wayanad , she always tried to be at the beck and call of the needy and to alleviate the woes of common man. Her passion for social work grabbed the attention of none other than Rahul Gandhi, who had been to Wayanad scouting for new and young faces for the Youth Congress. When the elections came, as expected her name featured in the list submitted by Rahul.
A former district secretary of KSU, the students wing of the Congress, Jayalakshmi has also served in various responsible positions like member of state level representatives’ committee of Mahila Congress.
Eldest of three daughters of Ammini and Palott Kunhaman who is a a mail overseer at the Subdivisional Post Office, near Mananthavadi, Jayalakshmi was defying the conventions when she decided to enter politics. In her tribe, girls are habitually married off at a very early age and when she postponed her marriage, it created a few anxious moments for her closely knit family.
Hailing from one of the most backward districts and tribes of Kerala, the yeoman service of Jayalakshim in the days ahead will make a quality change in the live styles of the people of Wayanad in particular. She will indeed be a role model for scores of women from other backward areas to come out into the power corridors and to do something worthwhile for their community.
Welcome to the windswept corridor of nature at Ramakalmedu, the best place on earth to experience the mood changes of nature. Pamper yourselves with the soothing touch of the faint breeze at one moment and get ready to get swept off by the strong winds the next. Ramkalmedu is unpredictable and diverse, which makes it an intriguing holiday spot. One of the recently discovered hill stations of Kerala, Ramakkalmedu is conveniently close to many famous tourist attractions such as Periyar Tiger Reserve of Thekkady, Munnar hill station, Kuttikanam and Parunthumpara and many more wild life attractions and spice gardens.
The gusty winds, which are the fastest recorded in Asia makes Ramakkalmedu a unique destination. The winds that sweep at a speed of about 25 km/hour, would pamper you with its refreshing touch. However, many a time you need to scurry for cover from the winds when you feel you are about to fly with the winds! The strong windy conditions make it a popular spot for paragliding. Located at a height of 3500 feet above sea level, Ramakalmedu will make you feel right on top of the world literally.
Ramakalmedu is a spectacular hill station, dotted with rolling valleys and grass lands interspersed with bamboo forests and mighty mountains. The rocky cliffs with smooth and intriguing designs left by the strong winds give it a dramatic beauty. Located 15 km from Nedumkandom on the Munnar-Thekkady route, it offers a panoramic view of the villages and towns of the nearby state of Tamil Nadu. Ramaklmedu is the proposed site of the largest wind energy farm in Kerala for power generation.
The Ramakkalmedu View point offers spectacular views of the Deccan Plateau. Tourists can make a steep ascent to the 300 meter high rocky cliff to enjoy the stunning spectacles around. However during misty days, it could prove risky as it will be difficult to make out the cliff edge and the risk of straying to the deep trench is quite high. The spectacular landscape, mountains and ravines make it ethereal. Some of the must see spots include the Kuravan and Kurathi mountains, natural cave formations,and biofarms among others. The scenic beauty of Ramakkalmedu has left its magical spell on scores of nature enthusiasts including the Hollywood actor Leonardo Di Caprio, who called it as a paradise on earth! So, in case you fancy to be on the top of the world, just plan a trip to Ramakalmedu and heed to the call of the wind and the wild :)!
The photo-finish race between UDF and the LDF in the recent assembly polls was quite like a 20-20 IPL match going right down the wire! Kerala has not witnessed many instances of a political suspense thriller as the one unveiled on the 13th of May, when the counting for 140 assembly seats were taken up.
The UDF leaders were complacent and overconfident about their victory that even the exit poll results and the poll pundits’ prediction of a tight contest failed to bring them to reality . The swerving fortunes and the ups and downs as results came tumbling in from constituencies kept everyone on tenterhooks as the leaders were left wondering at the unexpected turn of events. Kerala, has a history of never returning the ruling party to power a second term. However, during this poll, it appeared for a moment that the Kerala electorate might have decided to break the 30 year old recurrent pattern of sending the UDF and the LDF alternatively to power, which made it a nail biting thriller right up to the last lap!
After a neck and neck contest, which at one time looked like an imminent tie with both parties heading to 70 seats each, took a faint decisive turn only in the last leg of counting. It took the votes of a few panchayats like Piravom and Thrithala , which placed UDF ahead by just 2 seats, one of the lowest in Kerala poll history. The fact that Congress on its own could muster just 38 seats of the 82 it contested will remain a topic of discussion in the days to come and the UDF leaders will be pondering on the factors responsible for its poor performance.
On the other hand, the LDF camp is in a jovial mood as the poll results have clearly indicated that people have endorsed the anti corruption movement taken up by the Chief Minister, Achuthanandan. The poll results will indeed be a wake up poll for politicians who take the electorate for granted. The message on the wall reads clearly that the people expect nothing short of good governance . Gone are the days when politicians could create a smoke screen by diverting the attention of the electorate to the opposition camp’s internal squabbles and scams;these would not wash with the voters anymore and only hard work pays off at the end of the day.
Congress was indeed caught off the guard when it ended up winning the elections by the skin of the teeth. The absence of a clear verdict will make it more challenging for the ruling front and to stay firmly on the road in their five year travel time, they need to come up with a stellar performance!
Kerala has always been in the forefront in creating awareness of the deadly effects of the chemical pesticide Endosulphan. Though this harmful pesticide is banned in Kerala, it is still being used in many cashew plantations in and around Kasargod and nearby villages as there is no blanket ban that prohibits the use of this chemical in India. The global ban on the pesticide endosulfan, accepted by the sixth conference of parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Pollutants in Geneva that concluded a few days back has brought cheers to Kerala which has been in the grip of serious health problems caused by this chemical for many years now. However, the ban, which will cover technical endosulfan, its related isomers and endosulfan sulphate will take many more years to come into full force and the Union Cabinet will have to ratify the decision for a ban to take effect in India.
Apart from the health issues and infant mortality issues, this deadly pesticide has wrecked havoc in the social fabric of many villages in North Kerala, where the youth is finding it difficult to find eligible life partners these days. Parents of grooms/ brides often demand a blood test report before marriage to make sure that they do not carry traces of this chemical in their body. This is to pre-empt the possibility of having physically and mentally-challenged children being born to the couple later.
Villages like Enmakaje, which is one of the worst hit are facing this knotty problem more. Many couples opt not to have children due to the high instances of physical deformities while the rich couples in the affected villages go to the multi-specialty hospitals in Mangalore to undergo prenatal tests and selective abortion in case of any symptom of mental retardation to the baby. Instances of divorce are also high among the families in the endosulphan hit villages as people working the cashew estates are being abandoned by their partners fearing that they might develop diseases.
Endosulphan is not only a serious health problem but has evolved to be a grave social issue as well in Kerala. It is high time that we think about low cost and eco friendly pesticides that are harmless to nature and its inhabitants to make sure that the world remains safe and habitable for the future generations because “We did not inherit this world from our ancestors; we borrowed it our children”.
Welcome to Parunthumpara, a virtually unexplored trekker’s haven, near Peerumade where you can chill out , indulge in a spell of adventure sports or soak up the breath taking views of the endless grass lands and valleys beneath. A perfect choice for family holidays and fun seekers alike, Parunthumpara is a hill station of considerable tourism potential .
Though Parunthumpara is only six km from Peerumade on National Highway 220, it has remained obscure and away from the mass tourism trails for long. Now it has evolved to be a favorite stopover for tourists who are on their way to Thekkady, who stop by to enjoy the spectacular views and to have some fun and adventure. On a clear day, the visitors can see a panoramic view of the Sabarimala forests from Parunthumpara and this makes it quite popular among the Sabarimala pilgrims who congregate here to witness the makarajyothi.
Easily accessible through the narrow ghat road from Kallar Junction, this hill station stands out for its sprawling grasslands where the families can enjoy a few quiet moments, away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. A perfect choice for those who wish to have a holiday off the beaten track and to explore the unseen and the unexplored beauty of the pristine forests around, Parunthumpara has been attracting a large number of domestic tourists during weekends.
Though the place is yet to leave its imprints in the tourism map of the district, this beautiful hill station of
Parunthumpara holds great promise for adventure sports.The District Tourism Promotion Council has chalked out plans to develop Parunthumpara as a hill station and a handy stopover destination for tourists who come from Kumarakom to Thekkady. If some basic facilities can be provided, Parunthumpara can be developed to be one of the most popular tourist spots in Kerala in the days to come.