Welcome to the Monday ‘Market Day’ of Ernakulam market, the city’s oldest centre of merchandise.It appears that nothing has virtually changed in the past 150 years in and around the Ernakulam market. The fragrance of lemongrass oil, masked often by the stench from the nearby dirty canal waft in the air as truck loads of vegetables and provisions choke the narrow pathways adding to the chaos and mayhem.
True to the past tradition, Mondays and Fridays are observed as Market Days even today, though it attracts fewer people these days. The shop owners some of whom in the business for over five decades say that there has been a marked shift in the frenzy and activity in market days these days.
Originally the Maharaja of Cochin had given the Market area to Jewish traders for business, who set up poultry and coir trade. When they left the country , they sold their shops to the local people and most of the buildings have traditional architectural influences. The market has been in existence much before MG Road, the contemporary nerve centre of the city came into being and much before the North and South overbridges were built. This lively market place had tradelinks with many far off places like Ponnani and Chavakkad in the north and Kollam, Changanassery and Kottayam in the south, which makes it an indelible link in the history of this city.
The Ernakulam Market includes the northern end of Broadway, Basin Road and Jew Street, which has over 2,000 shops that sell literally everything under the sun apart from the innumerable pavement sellers that spread out their knick knacks, clothes, electronic items and attracts buyers with their budget deals. There are also many temporary shacks that sell vegetables and fruits along the canal side.
The canal, known as the Basin Road Canal, which linked the Market to the outside world now lies in a state of disuse. Country boats used to bring in goods even until the 1990s. Then the canal had clean and pristine water and was a busy waterway linking to the Vembanad Lake. The waterway lost its relevance with the commissioning of the roadways, which led to the deterioration of these waterways in Kerala.
The market gives many nostalgic memories for the older generation whereas the younger generation remains oblivious to the rich tradition and history of the Ernakulam market.
Cochin corporation, has come up with various plans to ensure the safety of women in the city. The project named ‘Sabala’, will include various proposals to make the city women friendly. This time bound project is expected to go a long way in solving most of the problems faced by women. This is for the first time that a Corporation has come up with a separate budget outlay for the welfare of women.
Some of the projects include :-
- Extending free medical care for families with only female members. The education expenses of children of such families will also be fully covered in these schemes.
- A modern lodging facility for women will be set up in the city to ensure safe stay for those women travelers who reach the City for various purposes. Apart from an all women staff team, the lodge will also have various other facilities like online reservations, taxi and other services.
- Kudumbashree Women only Buses run by Metro Cochin Transport Corporation (MCTC) is another novel venture envisaged in the project. The buses will have an all women crew.
- To arrest instances of child abuse, a team of three counselors will be set up in each school who will try to protect the students from the modern vices like internet scams and exploitation of students through mobile phones and social network.
Once this project is fully implemented, the business capital of Kerala will have an envious repute of being a women friendly City in all aspects.
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The Kerala Police have decided to set up virtual kill houses, which will automate the commando training system in the State capital of Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur. These small arms simulators will replace the concept of traditional shoot houses in assessing the readiness of the commandos to react to real-life hostage rescue and anti-terrorist operations.
The personnel of the commando wing and Quick Reaction Teams (QRT) are to be included under this novel training programme. With this innovative training mission, Kerala will join the elite league of US, UK and Israel, which uses virtual training programmes to keep their commandos ready to meet any emergencies.
The virtual kill house, which uses the state of the art audio and visual technology will simulate real life combat conditions apart from keeping a tab on the vital parameters like the response time of commandos and the ability to react to the situations.
Gone are the days when autos used to be a budget travel option in the cities of Kerala. The spiraling fuel prices have pushed up the autofares beyond the reach of the ordinary commuters that most people think twice before flagging down this popular transport option.
Fondly called Tuk, tuk, this sprightly three wheelers can navigate crowded streets of cities like Kochi where traffic snarls are the order of the day. There are many city dwellers who depend on autos to travel to and for their workplaces and homes and to go about their daily errands. However the charm of these handy transport options are being overly marred by the growing complaints of auto drivers fleecing the hapless commuters.
It is interesting to note that the commuters too have come up with some smart tips to make sure that they do not fall victims to the nefarious ploys of the auto drivers. Some people do a bit of analysis on the body language and the general appearance of the drivers before hiring an auto. Nonetheless, this may not work out at all times as there are auto drivers who fleece the commuters with a smiling face and a friendly demeanor.
However, group travelers are at a distinct advantage because if they think that the driver has an unfriendly look, the person who has to travel the shortest distance gets in so the other persons can choose from the rest of the autos in the line. This would ensure that the the person who has to travel the farthest gets the best choice. As the going gets hard, the hapless passengers are forced to indulge in a bit of mind reading and character mapping of the drivers before hiring an auto!
Being a democracy, every Indian has the right to protest against unfair practices and injustices. However calling for a hartal at the drop of hat is not something that goes well with any literate society like that of Kerala. It is paradoxical that tomorrow’s call for hartal by the CPM is to protest against the arrest of one of its leaders for conspiring in the murder of an activist of another party! Gone are the days when hartals used to be a powerful tool to protest against the atrocities in the society ; now it has become more of a tool for arm twisting and intimidating the people. Apart from the loss of manhours and business revenue, hartals will throw normal life off gear. Tourists will be stranded in what they thought was a God’s own country, leaving the message that it can be a devil’s world too at times! Patients suffer for want of medical aid, exams and job interviews will be postponed and marriage arrangements will go hay wire for many a couple.
Afterall , downing the shutters for a day and being forced to remain indoors will not bring any magical cure for the ills that plague our society. It seems that the time has come to hold a ‘hartal against hartals’, to protest against the innumerable shut downs that we have to endure. Kerala has been punished by a spate of regional issue-based hartals in recent times in addition to the countless nation-wide strikes called by various political outfits. It is high time that the political parties come out with a practical solution to register a protest without harassing the hapless common man. How about working overtime to highlight the grievances as in the case of Japan? )
The poojapura central jail in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, which houses some of the hard core criminals convicted in various criminal offenses is grabbing headlines for all the good reasons these days. The commercial chappathi making unit in the jail premises, which started functioning recently has already become a huge hit and a profitable venture.
The prison inmates of Poojapural jail are engaged in making soft and tasty chappathis in hygienic conditions, which are sold through the outlets at the Poojappura central jail premises and Attakulangara jail premises. Priced only at Rs. 2 per piece Poojappura Chappathi is sold out in no time as there is a huge demand for these tasty chappathis that are delivered fresh off the pan at unbeatable prices. At present over hundred inmates are involved in chappathi making and they are overwhelmed by the positive response from the customers.
Chappathi making is turning out to be a profitable venture like its gardening and horticulture activities, which had been tried out successfully in the jail premises earlier. Everyday about 16,000 chappathis are made daily and they have already made a profit of three lakh in a span of only a few months.Encouraged by the tremendous response for the chappathis, the prison authorities are planning to launch vegetable curries too in the market. By directing the prisoner’s time and effort in a constructive manner, the jail has become a trend setter in tapping the tremendous man power potential.
Everyone is born good; villains emerge due to the environmental influences and their upbringing and it is never too late for them to come back to goodness as this success story of Poojapura jail inmates would prove!
Gone are the days when people used to stand in serpentine lines to remit the payments of their phone or electricity bills. Many a time, customers find it difficult to reach their work places on time after these errands as the staff in the counters fail to turn up at the dot of time! Now the users can pay their bills, get the bill details and payment date details through their mobile phones as the M-governance is being extended to more services like Kerala Water Authority, Kerala State Electricity Board and Kerala State Financial Corporation. Already, the motor vehicles department is using this mobile alert based information service where the users can access the details of the vehicle if the registration number is known.
However, the role of M-governance will not replace the existing system but will act as a supplement to e-governance to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas. In addition, a range of facilities including the complaint registration system at Kerala Women’s Commission, helpline and information system for Sabarimala pilgrims bus timings of KSRTC, mobile ticket reservation at Kerala State Film Development Corporation theatres and timber auction alerts at Forest Department have also been introduced. As Kerala moves a step closer to paperless transactions with these smart services, booking your movie ticket or paying the electricity bills have become as simple as a few clicks! Well, that is what we all call smart living!
A space science museum is coming up in Pallikkara in Kochi, which is made famous by the water theme park of Veegaland. The Phase I of this facility has gone live a few days back when it was formally inaugurated by the former president APJ Abdul Kalam. This museum is being jointly developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Indira Rajan, a leading educationist in Kerala, who also heads the Minerva Educational Institutions in Kerala and is the chairperson of the Resul Pookutty Foundation. The selfless act of Indira who donated this prime piece of land in Pallikkara for the museum purely out of her passion for science and technology, deserves special mention. She was inspired to do something for the students to develop their interest in science after her visit to the NASA. She took up the matter with DRDO officials who promptly extended all their support for this novel venture.
During the inauguration function, a massive model of PSLV weighing a staggering 1,800kg was unveiled on December 17, which is celebrated all over the world as Wright Brothers’ Day, in commemoration of their historic 12 second flight on December 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk.
This museum, which is modeled after the Smithsonian Museum in the US, though as a scaled down version, when completed will be a comprehensive facility featuring special sections of natural and physical science, space and defense. At present only the Space Wing is being opened in an existing building. The main objective of this museum would be to inspire the students in science topics according to the former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair.
The museum will be one of the best centres of excellence in Indian aerospace and defense sectors that would not only attract scientists and students but curious tourists as well. When completed, the museum will have separate sections for atomic energy, industrial revolution and scientific research apart from live experiment sections on every live and scientific phenomenon. A contest is currently being conducted for the school children in Kerala to find a logo and an apt name for the museum, which will be announced soon. Though Kerala is a 100% literate state, it is astonishing that it has not produced many scientists or researchers of national and international acclaim. This museum might go a long way in igniting the passion of science and research among the youth and help to make the world a better place to live.
The women in Kerala can engage this super smart cop, ‘Sentinel’ to be on their guard duty 24 x 7! With the launch of ‘Sentinel’, a smart phone app exclusively for the safety of women, the women in Kerala has one more protective tool in their arsenal in dealing with the hostile elements of the society. This simple and user friendly app sends alerts in the form of emails and SMS to a host of pre-configured numbers.
Developed by MindHelix Technologies LLP, this product has been created keeping the specific needs and vulnerabilities of the urban women in mind by making the best use of the multi-faceted technologies. Apart from the contact details and information of close friends or family, the alerts sent by ‘Sentinel’ will have many other important information like the last known location, direction of travel along with details like mode of transport and vehicle number that the traveller can update. This application can be run on smart phones with Android, Blackberry, Symbian, iPhone and Java operating systems and can be downloaded from http://sentinel.mindhelix.com/
A recent survey of Assocham Social Development Foundation shows that over 53 percent of women feel insecure at workplaces, especially at night. This startling fact inspired the innovative team of an engineer and two engineering students to develop this exclusive safety app for women, ‘Sentinel’
Kerala reported the highest crime rate at 312.5% among all other States, with the cases of domestic abuse and instances of outrage against women on a steady rise. This has made many cities in Kerala including Cochin, unsafe for women even during broad day light. Now that this smart app of “sentinel” is on guard duty, women are rest assured of a fool proof protection outside the comfort zone of their homes. As there is a range of smart phones designed exclusively for women and smart phone penetration is at an all time high among professionals, this alert mechanism is expected to catch up the fancy of women users in the days to come.
When MV Lahore Express, a Hong Kong flagged vessel got berthed at the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) , it became the first ever weekly direct service vessel between Kochi and the European ports. The vessel that will make service calls to the major ports in Europe such as Genoa, Tilbury, Hamburg, Rotterdam and Le Havre, will ensure a major a boost to the trade and commercial activities in Kochi.
The commencement of this service from ICTT will offer a faster transit option that will considerably reduce the supply chain cost, making Kochi one of the most important ports in the country. With this facility, the South Indian trading fraternity in Bangalore, Tirupur, Salem and Coimbatore among others can directly export goods to Europe from ICTT on a weekly basis without having to rely on the expensive option of transshipment facility. ICIT not only offers the shortest transit time but also the best rates and facilities at par with the best international ports. ICTT,which was set up on BOT basis by the DP World will play a significant role in making Kochi a trading hub of international standards, in the days ahead.