Monthly Archives: September 2014

Solar-powered, self-cleaning eToilet for schools unveiled

The eToilet has an automatic flush, which works before and after use, sensor controlled water usage and eliminates the need for manual cleaners in schools. / The Hindu
The eToilet has an automatic flush, which works before and after use, sensor controlled water usage and eliminates the need for manual cleaners in schools. / The Hindu

Eram Scientific, manufacturers of the country’s first eToilet, on Tuesday unveiled the world’s cheapest unmanned, self-cleaning eToilet with inbuilt solar panel and metallic platform for schools.

“This is our contribution to the nation and comes as a response to the “Clean India Campaign” announced by the Central Government. It perfectly matches with the “Make in India” campaign as well,” said Siddeek Ahmed, chairman of Thiruvananthapuram-based Eram Group.

Built of stainless steel base, mild steel super structure and occupying 25 sq.ft space, the eToilet comes with a price tag of Rs.99,999 ex-factory, which is inclusive of insurance charges and one-year warranty.

It has got an inbuilt solar panel, which eliminates the need for electricity connection while the metal platform avoids civil construction too.

It has an automatic flush, which works before and after use, automatic floor wash, sensor controlled water usage and eliminates the need for manual cleaners in schools.

“The present problems in sanitations at schools are known to be not because of the dearth of toilets. The lack of maintenance and requirement for manual cleaning has made them dysfunctional. We are out to address that gap and that is why we are now launching this comprehensive solution for schools,” said K. Anvar Sadath, CEO.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / IANS / Thiruvananthapuram – September 30th, 2014

Failed in my dream of becoming pilot: Abdul Kalam in new book

Former President Abdul Kalam says that true nation building is not made by political rhetoric alone but should be backed “by the power of sacrifice, toil and virtue”. File photo: K. Ramesh Babu / The Hindu
Former President Abdul Kalam says that true nation building is not made by political rhetoric alone but should be backed “by the power of sacrifice, toil and virtue”. File photo: K. Ramesh Babu / The Hindu

For former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, becoming a fighter pilot was a “dearest dream” but he failed to realise it by a whisker as he bagged the ninth position when only eight slots were available in the IAF.

In his new book “My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions”, published by Rupa, Mr. Kalam, who specialised in aeronautical engineering from Madras Institute of Technology, says he was desperate to pursue a career in flying.

“Over the years I had nurtured the hope to be able to fly to handle a machine as it rose higher and higher in the stratosphere was my dearest dream,” he writes.

Out of the two interview calls Mr. Kalam got, one was from the Indian Air Force in Dehradun and the other from the Directorate of Technical Development and Production (DTDP) at the Ministry of Defence in Delhi.

While the interview at DTDP was “easy” he recounted that for the Air Force Selection Board, he realised that along with qualifications and engineering knowledge, they were also looking for a certain kind of “smartness” in the candidate.

Mr. Kalam bagged the ninth position out of 25 candidates and was not recruited as only eight slots were available.

“I had failed to realise my dream of becoming an air force pilot,” he writes.

He says he “walked around for a while till I reached the edge of a cliff” before deciding to go to Rishikesh and “seek a new way forward.”

“It is only when we are faced with failure do we realise that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives,” says Mr. Kalam who went on to put his “heart and soul” at his job as the senior scientific assistant at DTDP.

The book is filled with stories of “innumerable challenges and learning” in his years as the scientific adviser when India conducted its second nuclear test, his retirement and dedication to teaching thereafter and his years as President.

Mr. Kalam has compiled life’s learnings, anecdotes and profiles of key moments and people who inspired him profoundly in the book, which will hits the stands on August 20.

He recounts “staring into the pit of despair” when he failed to make it as an IAF pilot and how he pulled himself up and rose to become the man who headed India’s missile programme and occupy highest office in the country.

While the 82-year-old, popularly known as the Missile Man for his contribution to the development of ballistic missile technology, had in 1999 brought out his autobiography “Wings of Fire” and followed it with “Turning Points”, a journey through challenges” in 2012 that details his political career and challenges, the latest book talks about the people who left a deep impression on him as he was growing up.

In the 147-page book, Mr. Kalam writes about his experience of watching his father build a boat, his early working life as a newspaper boy at the age of eight and even his first-hand experience of the way in their religious elders settled a religious matter in his school.

In a chapter “A brush with fire”, Mr. Kalam recounts the 1999 January 11 incident involving two aircraft which took off from Bangalore towards the Arakkonam-Chennai coastline and crashed, killing 8 men on board.

While Mr. Kalam immediately flew to Bangalore from Delhi and met the bereaved families, he says the grief of the devastated parents and the wailing of the infants remained with him even after years of the incident even after he moved from his office at South Block to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The former President says that true nation building is not made by political rhetoric alone but should be backed “by the power of sacrifice, toil and virtue”.

“When grand plans for scientific and defence technologies are made, do the people in power think about the sacrifices the people in the laboratories and fields have to make?” he writes.

The book also contains a chapter detailing Mr. Kalam’s favourite books “which have always been close companions” who “were like friends” guiding him through life. Lilian Eishler Watson’s “Light from Many Lamps,” the “Thirukural”, Nobel Laureate Alex Carrel’s “Man the Unknown” have been listed.

Poetry says Mr. Kalam has been “one of his first loves” and poems by T.S. Elliot, Lewis Carroll and William Butler Yeats has “played out in my over and over again”.

In conclusion, Mr. Kalam writes his life can be summed up as “Love poured to the child… struggle… more struggle… bitter tears… then sweet tears… and finally a life as beautiful and fulfilling as seeing the birth of the full moon.

“I hope these stories will help all my readers understand their dreams and compel them to work on these dreams that keep them awake,” he writes.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Books> Authors / PTI / New Delhi – August 18th, 2013

Two Brothers Wanting Power For Their Farms Invented A Bamboo Windmill That Is 10 Times Cheaper!

Brothers Mohammad Methar Hussain and Mushtaq Ahmad wanted power for irrigation and they developed a low cost windmill made out of bamboo, which is more than 10 times cheaper than the regular ones available in the market. Now, there are more than 25 such windmills running in Gujarat. Read to know more about their journey and how they did it. 

Mohammad Methar Hussain and his brother Mushtaq Ahmad from Darrang district in Assam grew paddy in the winter season (also known as bodo paddy). Irrigation involved a lot of manual effort and using diesel sets for pumping  water was a huge drain on the resources. To tackle this issue, Mehtra thought that if they could run a large wheel on wind power, and connect the wheel to the hand pump, that would serve their purpose quite efficiently.

So, both of them started working on making a windmill unit from locally sourced materials such as bamboo wood, strips of old tyres, pieces of iron, etc. With the help of a carpenter, the first prototype was ready in four days. Since the supporting framework was composed of bamboo, the final product costed Rs. 4500, vis-a-vis the commercially available wind mills which cost over Rs. 60,000.

Mehtar and Mushtaq
Mehtar and Mushtaq 

Innovation Diffusion : Assam —–> Gujarat

India is the third largest salt producing country in the world with an average annual production of about 157 lakh tonnes. The Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) supplies 21% of the total salt production of India.

Salt workers, known as Agarias, are some of the poorest people in the state. Agarias mostly used counterpoise, a method that requires two people, one for lowering the counterpoise and other for straining the water. Some of them started using diesel pumps, but the exorbitant machine and fuel costs made a huge dent in their already diminishing returns from salt farming.

With the mission to improve lives of salt farmers, Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network – West (GIAN W) along with National Innovation Foundation (NIF-India) took the lead in diffusing the innovation in salt farming areas.

Based on the feedback received from salt farmers, GIAN W improved the design and developed a multi-dimensional model which was installed at LRK in 2008. Understanding the diverse needs of farmers to increase the efficiency of windmills, GIAN W joined hands with Alstom foundation for design modification and improvement.

As of 2012, 25 of these windmills have been installed in Kathivadar and Kadiali villages in Amreli district.

Low cost windmill has solved irrigation problems for the village
Low cost windmill has solved irrigation problems for the village

 Benefits of the Windmill Pump

Thanks to the windmill pump, now salt farmers don’t have to slog for hours with the water pump. The windmill pump saves about Rs.50,000 worth of diesel in six months. It has decreased salt farmers’ reliance on manual labour resulting in savings of about Rs. 28,000 per season per person. Farmers can now easily recover their investments within the harvesting season.

The innovation would also result in the reduction of five tonnes of carbon emissions for every 100 tonnes of salt produced. As per NIF, on an average, every windmill-powered hand pump should generate five Carbon Emission Reductions (CERs) certificates worth Rs.3750.

Every rupee saved and milligram of carbon emission reduced is a glaring testimony of how rural innovations impact the community, society and the world at large.

In the next phase, GIAN W plans to erect more windmills in other parts of Gujarat. The salt farmers of Gujarat are indebted to Mehtar and Mustaq for making their lives more efficient and their occupation, profitable.

For any enquiries related to the machine, please get in touch with NIF-India at

source: / The Better India / Home> Innovation> Gujarat / by Rahul Anand / July 24th, 2014


Sir Syed Day 2014 in San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco:

The Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association of Northern California carried on its annual tradition of holding Sir Syed Day in the San Francisco Bay Area with a fine evening of cultural expression, reflection and entertainment at the ICC in Milpitas on Saturday, September 20th.

Funds were also collected on the occasion for the Aligarh Education Endowment Fund (AEEF) which supports those whose path to education is impacted by lack of funds or social mobility. Both children and youth are assisted through this AEEF vehicle and one can commend Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) alumni for making their annual homage to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of their Alma Mater an added purpose.


After a fine dinner of Mughlai cuisine the formalities began with the traditional recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Mohammed Nadeem. Emcee for the evening Dr. Shaheer Khan made the necessary introductions. He said that everyone here needs to be thanked for their dedication, because the hall tonight is full to its maximum capacity and people unfortunately had to be turned away. He added that the Mushaira or Urdu poetry recital held here attracts many people but it is the cause which is the prime reason for this gathering, which is Sir Syed and AMU. He said that Aligarh was and is a movement and not just a place. He also took the opportunity to thank the sponsors and supporters along with the ICC for making this event possible. He also recognized local South Asians who are running for positions in the upcoming elections (Mohammed Nadeem running for Santa Clara City Council and Moina Shaiq running for Fremont School Board were here. Congressional candidate Ro Khanna was to arrive later).

Next was the President’s Welcome which this year was given by the new head of the AMU Alumni Association of Northern California, Mr. Shachindra Nath. In his short speech Shachindra Sahib welcomed everyone and took the opportunity to share his familial connection with Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) which his father also had the good fortune to attend. He pointed out the mutual respect and tolerance which he found at AMU. “I am so proud to be an Aligarian,” he said. Shachindra Sahib has been a dedicated member of the AMU Alumni Association for several years and it should come as no surprise that today he is the President of this organization.

The Sir Syed Day keynote address this year was presented by Ambassador Islam A. Siddiqui. Dr. Siddiqui till recently served as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and has now joined a think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as a senior adviser in its Global Food Security Project in Washington DC. He is also a very familiar face to many of us in northern California because of his many years working for the State of California in Sacramento and for his long-time community activism; he is one of the founders of UMA and has been the President of the Downtown Sacramento Muslim Mosque. Although not an alumni of AMU, Dr. Siddiqui said that he was forever indebted to the campus because that is where he met his wife over 40 years ago!

“When I think of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s contributions to India and the world at large, it is about Education, Economic Empowerment and Moderation,” said Siddiqui. Giving the audience a backdrop of British-Indian history, and the poor state of Muslims after the 1857 revolt (the first attempt by Indians to gain independence) which failed, Sir Syed’s unique role was highlighted. “Here came a thinker and a visionary, who had worked for the British East India Company, had studied the causes of the Indian revolt, published a commentary on the Bible and was even instrumental in establishing The Scientific Society of Aligarh,” he said. He added that Sir Syed was fighting for the educational, social and economic uplift of Indian Muslims about the same time as President Abraham Lincoln was fighting for the cause of African Americans to abolish slavery in the United States.

He said that today the situation of the Muslim masses in India is not great and cited some relevant statistics from the Sachar Committee Report of 2006 which concluded that “When it comes to education the situation of Indian Muslims is indeed depressing as compared to other socio-religious communities and the problem is more acute among girls and women”. Siddiqui remained hopeful that as India’s economy grows, economic opportunities for all Indians will expand. “As the saying goes: A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said. He also reinforced the charter of the AEEF and its fundraising activity by saying that it is our moral obligation to give back to the under-privileged in the community and country that made it possible for us to reach where we are today.


Dr. Shaheer Khan returned to present an AEEF Update. The Aligarh Education Endowment Fund needs about $100,000 for 2014-2015 academic year to fund its projects which include the sponsorship of excellence in education through scholarships, Aligarh Modern School, Hamara School Aligarh, Faizabad Public school (Faizabad), Faiz-e Aam Muslim Inter College (Faizabad), Hira Public School (Ambedkar Nagar), J.A.B.I.C. Bhadarsa (Ambedkar Nagar), J.D.J.B. Anand P.G. College (Faizabad), M.I. Girls Inter College (Faizabad), Rishiraz Singh Maha Vidyalya (Faizabad), and many others.

It is also supporting Saiema Mansoor Public School (Hathras), vocational training for women, a mentorship program and students at premier institutions in India. A short fundraising appeal was made with a target of $60,000 in mind. And in the process, just before the entertainment, the Aligarh Tarana or anthem was enthusiastically played and sung by some of the alumni of AMU present.

The second part of Sir Syed Day is the “International Mushaira” which brings together some of the finest poets or practitioners of Urdu language poetry from around the globe (mainly from where it is used most, India and Pakistan). Countries can be partitioned but one cannot do that with a language. Urdu’s birthplace is in India where AMU is physically located too, but Urdu ironically is the national language of Pakistan. Where borders and governments divide, language-culture and family unite. I did get an opportunity at this event to meet the Consul of India in San Francisco and air the trials and tribulations of getting a visa for India for a person of Pakistani origin!

This year the list of poets was “Pakistan heavy” for the lack of a better term. The Mezban or host poets in order of appearance were Shahid Siddiqi (Canada), Misum Samer (Bay Area), Faisal Azeem (Canada), and Ahmar Shehwaar and Tashie Zaheer (both from the Bay Area). The Mehman or guest poets were Ambareen Haseeb ‘Amber’ (Pakistan), Nusrat Mehdi (India), Abbas Tabish (Pakistan) and Sarfraz Shahid (Pakistan). Two new aspects were noted in this year’s Mushaira. One the Nizamat was done by a young lady (Amber) and two the Sadarat and closing poet (Sarfraz) was the one who provided comic relief (possibly designed so that people went home in a good mood).

It would take another full article here just to cover the Mushaira segment of the evening. But just to highlight some of the activity here, senior poet Abbas Tabish aptly described the entire Mezbaan Shayir group (locals) as amongst the most talented that he has ever seen. All of them were worthy and it was good to see young Faisal Azeem back in this area. I just had to thank Tashie Bhai personally for his one line that made us proud. In a nutshell none of the local “amateur” poets were less than professional!


Amongst the four Mehman Shayir’s (guests) Ambareen was extremely entertaining both as a poet and in her “Tum Bhi Naa” and in her Nizamat role. Nusrat Mehdi was the feminist voice of the evening and she was amazing in Tarannum especially with her “Mein Bhi to Hoon”. Abbas Tabish was his usual pensive self with his “Intizar ke Lamhe” and his ode to mothers everywhere. And last but not least Sarfraz Shahid who in his Sadarat role provided enough comic relief to us that many had smiles on our faces as we made our way out of the door. His take on “Maulana and Hoorain”, romance in Cricket “Musalman mard ko char hi run ki Ijazat Hai” and his political cutlery were all very well received.

The Annual Sir Syed Day Aligarh magazine was also released on this occasion. The magazine is dedicated to Hali and Shibli. This year marks the 100th death anniversary of Maulana Altaf Husain Hali and Maulana Shibli Nomani, two pivotal members of the team of Sir Syed’s ‘Rufaqaa’ in the establishment of the MAO College.

In conclusion we did not stay for the doosra daur (round two) of the poetry but it was already quite a rewarding and satisfying event for us. The Aligarh Alumni Association of Northern California once again needs to be congratulated for holding this gathering where everyone enjoyed the food, revisited Sir Syed’s vison and participated in quality entertainment.

source: / / Home> News / by Ras H. Siddiqui, / September 30th, 2014

Muslim Library turns 100

The only public library of its kind that has survived without government grants, NGO money or foreign funds 

Muslim Library at Shivajinagar, houses more than 25,000 rare books and manuscripts. Photo credit:Anantha Subramanyam K
Muslim Library at Shivajinagar, houses more than 25,000 rare books and manuscripts. Photo credit:Anantha Subramanyam K

It was a time when the final push for freedom from British rule was gaining momentum. Prose and poetry were motivating people to join the freedom movement and a small group of Muslim intellectuals in the city responded the best way they knew — by spreading knowledge. Determined not to seek funds from “outside”, the group gathered as much money as they could spare and launched a library.

A hundred years on — commence centenary celebrations on Sunday (Sept 28) — the Muslim Library in Shivajinagar still stands tall and proud, a testimony to the steely determination and goodwill of its founding group. The library now houses about 25,000 rare books and manuscripts and holds a record of sorts: It is the only public library of its kind that has survived without any government grants, NGO money or foreign funds.

Located at Number 8, Veerapillai Street near Jumma Masjid Road Cross, Shivajinagar, the Muslim Library continues to retain and promote the old charm of calm and quiet library-reading in the age of Kindles and iBooks. Though the library is largely patronised by senior citizens, one can find young academicians and researchers pouring over tomes in the library every day.

“Apart from translations of Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Bible in Urdu, the library has around 2,000 books in Persian and an equal number in Arabic,” said Ayub Ahmed Khan, president of The Muslim Library Trust. What differentiates this library from others though is its funding mechanism: It has been self-financed since its inception.

The library was launched on May 5, 1912 by a group of Muslim intellectuals including Mahmood Khan Mahmood (author of Saltanat-e-Khudadad — an authoritative history on Tipu Sultan in Urdu), printing press owner Mir Abdul Haq, headmaster Abdul Rauf, teacher Farheed Khan, advocate Mohammed Saleh Ansari and Mohammed Abdul Abdul Aziz. “These people were inspired by the freedom movement,” says Khan. “They contributed from their own pockets and vowed not to source funds from outside. That custom continues till date,” he said.

Although launched in 1912, it began full-fledged operations only a couple of years later (that’s why the centenary celebrations this year) from a rented room with a collection of 867 books. Abu Mohammed Abdul Wahed, the septuagenarian secretary of the library, says, “By 1929, the library had 29 members and 12,000 books. We now have 600 members not just from Bangalore, but even from Kolar, Mulbagal and Doddabalapur. The present members of the library are well-known personalities including IAS, IPS officers, doctors and lawyers all of whom are proud to be associated with the library. All our members donate books and the collection has now swelled to 32,000.”

Inflation appears to have given the membership fee a miss — it was Rs 10 in 1928 and is now a very affordable Rs 200. The visitors’ book has the names of several dignitaries including poet Mohammed Iqbal who penned ‘Sare Jahan Se Achcha’, author Syed Sulaiman Nadvi, poets Josh Malihabadi, Jigar Moradanadi and Seemab Akbarabadi. Moulvi Abdul Haq, the editor of the Urdu journal ‘Shair’, also visited the library in 1937.

The library got its own three-storey building in 1970 in Shivajinagar. The building was constructed by L Mohammed Yisuf, the architect of 66 buildings of various Muslim organisations in the city. Mohammed Altaf Hussain, who has been librarian for the past 15 years, said, “A lot of school children visit during the summer vacation. There are 30 to 40 regular visitors every day. The library is open between 10 and 12 in the morning and 4 and 8 in the evening.”

Hussain reveals that great care is taken to maintain the books. “Besides daily sweeping etc, the library is comprehensively cleaned and pest-controlled every month. I don’t keep old books lying around. They are taken out of cupboards only if members specifically ask for them. We have regular visitors who come here to read magazines and newspapers, but most visitors are keen to read novels which are treasured in our library.”

source: / Bangalore Mirror / Home> Bangalore> Others / by Bharat A. Patel , Bangalore Mirror Bureau / September 28th, 2014

Madras miscellany: The Father of Indian Botany

The news that the Schmidt Memorial on Elliot’s Beach was being restored and the area around it landscaped is welcome indeed. But while this memorial has kept alive for several decades memories of the courage of a young Danish mercantile executive (Miscellany, September 23, 2013), there have been at least two other persons with Danish connections in the city’s past who deserve commemoration for significant contributions they made to Madras — and even to India.

John Goldingham was of Danish descent but was more British than Dane. He was the first official head of the oldest modern observatory in the country and of the oldest modern technical school in Asia, both surviving to this day. But better remembered is what was considered his patron Lord Edward Clive’s folly — or entertainment space. Built by Goldingham to host the Governor’s Council, this Assembly Hall became better known as Banqueting Hall (and should I say ‘Ballroom’?) but today languishes as Rajaji Hall. Making me wonder how this splendid building can be revived and given new life.

Goldingham’s contributions may be remembered by a few, but very, very few outside the scientific community are likely to remember a German who made Denmark his home and later contributed significantly to India. Dr. Johann Gerhard König was a Danish-trained physician who served the Madras Government in the late 18th Century but became better known as ‘The Father of Indian Botany’, with scientific botany in India emerging through his efforts.

Born in what is now Latvia, König moved to Denmark in 1748 to study and became a private pupil of Linnaeus at Uppsala University from 1757. He lived and worked in Denmark till he came out to Tranquebar in 1768 to serve the Danish Halle Mission as its medical officer. Simultaneously, he worked with the Nawab of Arcot as his Naturalist and travelled throughout his domain (virtually what became the Madras Presidency) and Ceylon. In 1778, he was appointed the East India Company’s first Natural Historian /Naturalist/ Botanist and served in that capacity till his death near Vizagapatam in 1785. Amongst those who benefitted from his training them as naturalists were the Rev. Christoph John and Rev. Johann Rottler in Tranquebar and William Roxburgh in Madras. It was Roxburgh who treated him during his last days in what is now Andhra Pradesh when dysentery was felling him. J. König, a name to reckon with in Indian botanical terminology, was responsible for South India being the earliest centre for botanical and zoological research in the country.

Until König came along, plants found in India by the ‘greens’ were sent to Europe to be classified and described by scientists like Linnaeus and others. König introduced the Linnaean rules in India and was soon followed by others. Many of these students of Indian vegetation in the Peninsula and Ceylon, like James Anderson, Francis Hamilton-Buchanan, Roxburgh, Rottler, and John and a few others formed a society to promote botanical studies, exchanged specimens and information on new species collected, and, acting in concert as a society, named them. But as they became more confident of their botanical knowledge, some of them began naming their finds themselves without consultation. All this information was sent by them to European botanists who published the information under the names sent to them or under names they had changed the originals to. Later authors of botanical information, like Edward Balfour and Robert Wight, tended to use the names in general use at the time, but also offered the synonyms that had been earlier used. One of the names listed is Murraya Königii, a species of curry leaves.

Footnote: Searching for material for this column constantly throws up new leads to follow. And while writing today’s piece I came across the name of Dr. Francis Appavoo. Here was an Indian who, as early as the 1860s, was in charge of the Conservator of Forests’ office in Madras. I wonder if anyone can tell me more about him.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by S. Muthiah / September 28th, 2014

Historian’s guide through the Constantia

Lucknow :

The grand construction of General Claude Martin, the Constantia, served as a lodge for Freemasons, a secret society, as many of the English officers including Martin were Freemasons.

Many such lesser known facets pertaining to the life and times of Claude Martin were brought to light by celebrated British historian, Dr Rosie Llewellyn Jones at La Martiniere College on Sunday. The talk was organised by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural heritage (INTACH), Lucknow Chapter.

After being attacked by the Raja of Banaras invading Lucknow through Farhat Baksh Kothi, General Claude Martin began residing in the Constantia which he built as a fort. Constructed with four spiral columns that go right up to the terrace, cleverly with a lone staircase, Gen Martin made sure the building he liked to show off to his fellow Englishmen was secure with iron doors made from imported English iron. These doors could then be shut once a single man defending the building from the top took position upstairs.

Constantia was safeguarded by cannons on the first floor of the building next to lion statues with lamps within them. “Its construction as a defensive structure to frighten people, basically its attackers, is one of the least known features of the Constantia, which prior to being an educational institution, was a fort,” shared Dr Jones.

INTACH’s convenor Vipul Varshney talked about the axial symmetry and architectural genius of the gigantic structure with pioneering ventilation. Dr Jones also spoke about many paintings of Claude Martin.

Iron girders in the basement of the Constantia go deep down to its foundation. Dr Jones denied presence of any such tunnels opening into the Gomti against a popular myth.

Convernor Vipul Varshney talking about the architectural skyline of Lucknow said, “the heterogeneity of cultural conceptions and artistic styles triumphed to strike a harmony between the many buildings of Lucknow getting along the Nawabi and English architecture successfully in Lucknow’s skyline, and so in that order we decided to educate and inform Lucknowites about one such magnificent structure, the Constantia.”

Gen Martin a self taught man had as many as 5000 books and the presence of certain books on creating electricity have made historians like Dr Jones believe that he might have attempted to create electricity as well in the lower rooms of the Constantia. The result of his trial and error techniques on it though are yet to be studied further.

Heritage conservationist and lawyer by profession, Mohammad Haider stating the building as an unprotected monument applauded the efforts of Principal Carlyle McFarland, the staff and students of the college, ” the unique feature of this building stands in the fact that it has been well maintained within the precincts of its original form and the monument an architectural masterpiece is devoid of any uncalled for scribbling on the walls of the campus unlike the state of most protected monuments in the country.”

source: / The Times of India / Home> City> Lucknow / by Yusra Husain, TNN / September 29th, 2014

Azim Premji

A personality revered by all the software professionals and an icon to the aspiring youth of the country, Azim Premji besides being the Chairman of Wipro Technologies, is a good human being who has never failed to inspire the young entrepreneurs. Initially starting with cooking oil to household goods to software, the company under the flag of his leadership never failed to deliver its best.

Early Genesis

Azim Premji was born in the year 1945 in Mumbai in a Gujarat Muslim family. He studied electrical engineering at Stanford University, US when he had to come back to India to take care of his family business because of the sudden demise of his father. He took control of ‘Wipro’ the company that dealt in the business of vegetable oil at the age of 21 and his success that followed afterwards is history. Azim Premji is happily married to Yasmin Premji with two children, Rishad and Tariq.

A devoted professional and hard worker, Azim Premji took ‘Wipro’ to an admirable height. Eventually ‘Wipro’ grew into a 3,500 Crore empire. Today ‘Wipro’ is included among the top hundred technological companies in the world and Azim Premji holds the position of the richest man in country his property amounting to around 17.1 billion US dollars. Azim has taken his company to the height from where it operates with the major IT companies of the world namely Nokia, Cisco, Nortel, Alcatel and General Electric company. Under Azim Premji the company has spread its wings in the fields of IT, R & D Services and BPO. The largest outsourcing company in India and research and service provider, ‘Wipro’ has ventured into the areas which nobody could think of.

Other Achievements
For his stupendous contribution to the field of software technology Azim Premji has received several awards and accolades. He has been titled ‘Businessman of the year 2000’ by Business India, ‘Business leader of the year 2004’ by Economic Times, one of the ‘100 most influential people in the world’ by the Financial Times in the year 2004, ‘One of the 25 most powerful business leaders outside the USA’ by Fortune in the year 2003 and “power to effect change” by Forbes in the year 2003. He has also been facilitated and honored by the title of doctorate by the Indian Institute of Technology,Roorkee and Manipal Academy of Higher Education. He is the first person in India who received the ‘Faraday Medal’ in the year 2005. He has been given the title of ‘Padmabhushana’ by the government of India.

The Other side of him


Azim Premji has contributed a lot to the development of the country. He has started an organization known by the name of ‘Azim Premji Foundation’ which works with the sole motto of providing primary education to every single child of the country. Having around 17,000 schools operating under the organization, Premji finances for all its requirements.

A man of principles and ethics, Azim Premji has never compromised with the quality and level of commitment to his work. He is informed of all the officials working for his company who respect and revere their employer for the strength of his character. ‘Don’t do anything that you’re unwilling to have published in tomorrow’s newspaper with your photograph next to it’ -is the slogan of his company with which it has reached the zenith of success and fame.

source: / Headlines India / Home> LifeStyle> Man’s Word

Begum Rokeya: She gave the call for emancipation of Muslim women

One of the rare rebellions of her time, Roquia Sakhawat Hussain is a name that echoes ceaseless struggle to bring women under the ambit of social respect and admiration. Born in 1880, this gritty and composed lady from a small village of Pairabondh in the then undivided Bengal gave her all towards cementing a respectable position of women during her epoch.


A livid exponent of feminist movement in eastern India, Begum Rokeya conceived and implemented the idea of establishing the first school mainly aimed at Muslim girls. Issues like gender equality and women’s emancipation found a new dimension under her prudent leadership. Being the precursor of future feminist movement in India and Bangladesh, Rokeya did her bit to bolster the position of the so called ‘second sex’ in a puritanical society stuffed with orthodox ideologies.

Married off at an early age, hers was in no way a beginning worth remembering. However, the indomitable urge to stand out for a cause and be the guiding star for he contemporaries and the ages to come drove her forward.

Begum Rokeya had the funny bone as well as the tinge of sarcasm that helped her euphemism narrate real-life incidents of injustice forced upon Bengali-speaking Muslim women. She displayed enough valiance to tell it on the face of the oppressors that they are adopting immoral ways distorting version of Islam.

Oborodhbashini (“The woman in captivity”), Paddorag (“Essence of the Lotus”) and Narir Adhikar (“The Rights of Women”) are among her widely read books that openly defied restrictions on women.

source: / Headlines India / Home> Social Interest News> Women / Friday – March 04th, 2011

Asian Games: To win five medals is pretty good show, says Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza has lauded Indian tennis team's performance at the 17th Asian Games, given that the country did not come with the best unit possible for the event. Photo: PTI/ File
Sania Mirza has lauded Indian tennis team’s performance at the 17th Asian Games, given that the country did not come with the best unit possible for the event. Photo: PTI/ File


Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza feels the five medals that the team has managed to grab at the ongoing Asian Games is a pretty good performance given that the country did not come with the best unit possible for the event.

“It has been a pretty good week. We (she and Prarthana Thombare) got a medal (bronze) in women’s doubleswhich is huge because it’s something that we never did. I had to be the leader. It’s a young team we came here with, didn’t come with the best team possible, especially with the guys. Five medals (including today’s) is pretty good,” she said ahead of the mixed doubles semifinals with Saket Myneni at the Yeorumul Tennis Centre.

Hyderabad and Dubai-based Sania spoke to reporters as the matches for the day had been put off due to continuous rains at Incheon since Sunday night. The 27-year-old Indian tennis star, who was initially inclined towards skipping the Games to gain doubles points on the WTA tour before changing her mind, said the reason was to provide the country with its best shot at picking up more medals in these Games, her fourth on the trot.

Before the current Games she had won a gold (in mixed doubles in 2006 in Doha), three silver medals (women’s singles and team in 2006 and in mixed doubles in 2010 at Guangzhou) and two bronze medals (women’s singles and doubles in Guangzhou). Besides, she also won silver (singles) and bronze (doubles) in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

“The minute I made the decision to come here, I knew it was the right decision. For me the most important thing was to give India the best chance of winning as many medals as possible. I did what I could and I got two in the two events I played (women’s doubles and mixed doubles where she and Myneni will fight for the gold). “I am happy that there was my contribution. Personally it’s my fourth Asian Games in a row and I have got medals in every single Asian Games I have been to. For me to get eight medals in the last four editions is pretty good,” she remarked.

Sania said she has played her part as a mentor to her women teammates here who are of the same age as her younger sister and is hoping they win medals on their own in the next Games which are scheduled at Jakarta in 2018.

“I have a good rapport with these girls and I am always there to help if they ask. They are all of my sister’s age, like babies for me. They are 7-8 years younger than me. I am sharing a room with one of them.”

“Most definitely these are the best youngsters we have had in a while. My doubles partner (Prarthana) has some potential and is still pretty young. We need to build on this. I hope this gives them a lot of confidence that they can achieve certain things,” Sania said.

“I have held this flag for a long time. It will be great to pass it on to someone else. Hopefully by the next Asian Games, they will be ready to win a medal by themselves,” she added.

Sania, who was the world no 23 at her peak in singles, pointed out quite a few factors like lack of guidance and proper coaching as reasons for the other Indian women being unable to break into even the top 200 In singles.

“There are a few reasons. I definitely think planning is one of them, lack of knowledge and lack of maybe even coaching abilities at certain levels. I think a lot of coaches in India haven’t seen what it takes to really make it because they have not produced anyone nor have they been at that level. “I am not saying you need to be a great tennis player to be a coach, but you need to have watched at the highest level to be a good coach. The best they might have watched is the WTA event a few years ago.”

She also said that most of the women players are content to play at the USD 25,000 level which was simply not enough to go places in the world. “Tennis is very competitive these days. Physically as well they struggle a bit, there are a bunch of reasons. I have been trying to help them with scheduling, trying to tell them which tournament to take part in.”

“First of all they need to come out of the USD 25000 tournaments try and believe they can do better at the bigger tournaments. That’s one of the main things. That’s where they have to perform,” Sania said.

“You are not going to play these for the rest of your life. If you do so you will remain in the 300 rankings for the rest of your career. That’s what they have been doing, go for the easier options. It’s not because they want to but because of lack of guidance at certain levels. About her own career and her immediate plans she said she was leaving Tuesday morning to play in the September 27-October 5 China Open with Cara Black, and would probably play Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s been rough last couple of weeks. Since the US open I have not had any time really. I came back after New York and had literally three days at home. I was not even over jetlag when I left for Tokyo and then came here. It’s a good problem to have, it has been busy. After that I go to Singapore (for the WTA season-ending finals),” she said.

Sania said her season so far, especially the second half, has been pretty good and she wanted to finish it on a high. “It’s been a great year and especially the second half of the season has been unbelievable. Hopefully we (she and Black) can finish on a high, can win here (with Thombare) and hopefully go to Singapore which has been the highlight of my career. I want to do well there,” she said.

source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Sports> Tennis / PTI / September 29th, 2014