The pearl city of India

Touring Hyderabad was a nice experience. We prepared a perfect itinerary for our visit around the city.

The first place we visited was the Choumalla palace. We had a glimpse of clothes, weapons, crockery, furniture, vehicles etc. used by Nizams. We attired ourselves as Nizams and took pictures. The unique style and elegance of the palace made us fly to the world of Nizams.

Then we drove to the Charminar, a minaret built by Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah. We climbed to the top of it and had a panoramic view of the city. Then, we shopped at Laad Bazaar which is famous for pearls and traditional jewelllery, especially the bangles. The next day, we went to Birla Mandir, the white marble temple of lord Vishnu. We enjoyed the coolness and the intricate sculptures of the temple.

We also got a sight of the Secret Lake ,Hussain Sagar Lake with Lord Buddha standing on the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’. Luckily, this was during the festive season and we dropped by to see the Ganesha Visarjan, the immersion of the idols.

Then we visited the Golconda fort, which means ‘shepherd’s hill’. We took a stroll & enjoyed the military architecture. The most interesting is the clapping monogram, a place for communicating messages by clapping. Feeling famished after the long walk, we relished the tasty Hyderabad cuisine.

The next day started with a drive to the HITECH city, the IT Park. We were astonished to see so many IT companies under one roof.

We set off to the railway station. Alas! Our return train was cancelled due to a Telangana rally. Though our perfect itinerarycollapsed, it paved a path to visit a temple that we missed.

We went to Chilkur Balaji Temple, popularly known as “Visa” Balaji temple. What fascinated me is that the temple has no hundi!

R.Divyaa, Grade 7,ONGC Public School,

Neravy, Karaikal.



Clear the air on mobile tower radiation, WHO tells India

The World Health Organisation has asked India to participate in its electromagnetic field (EMF) projects, as myths about the impact of mobile phone tower radiation on public health are widespread in the country.

The advice came from Mike Repacholi, former head of the EMF Task Force at WHO, during his recent visit to study mobile phone tower radiation in Mumbai.

The scenario, he said, was the same in metropolitan cities, including the National Capital Region. Prof. Repacholi made a series of suggestions to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and the Health Ministry.

He recommended the formation of an inter-agency committee of all departments responsible for EMF to discuss how best to deal with health issues. “Public concern has been raised across the country because the government has remained silent on this sensitive issue,” he said. Prof. Repacholi observed that “the people need health and other departments to be vigilant and provide advice, otherwise mischief-mongers will succeed in creating a scare about unfounded myths.”

WHO has been investigating the health effects of electromagnetic fields for 18 years. The EMF project noted in September: “Despite extensive research, to date there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health.”

The limits in international standards have not changed for over 15 years because no research has found any health effects below these levels. Prof. Repacholi has said there needs to be research on the effect of mobile phones on children. Studies conducted so far have not shown that they are more sensitive to EMF than adults. However, more research was needed to confirm this observation. Prof. Repacholi has asked India to open a website that explains EMF and its health effects, describes the standards and how they are derived.

According to him, there must be a government spokesperson on EMF who can respond to media questions and issue fact sheets and press statements.


“Happy and Prosperous Nation” – School Essay Competition

The Tata group has announced the launch of the eighth edition of Tata Building India School Essay Competition. The theme for this year’s competition is “Happy and Prosperous Nation”.


There will be two categories: Junior level for Stds VI to VIII and Senior level for Stds. IX to XII. Participants are required to submit an essay between 500-600 words.The essays are judged on the parameters of relevance to the topic, structure, creativity and communication of the idea, and prizes are awarded for school, city and national level winners.

The essay is written by the student only once but is evaluated at three levels — School, City and National level.

The winners at each level are rewarded and functions are held to felicitate the city level winners and the national level winners. Prizes at the school level include certificates, medals and special Tata Building India merchandise. The city level winners and the runners-up receive prizes likedigital cameras and MP3 players. The national level winners receive laptops, a trophy and a certificate.

The crowning moment for the national winners and the runners-up is an intended visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi and interaction with a dignitary.

For more information, please log on to , or


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India to America

American producer purchases the rights to author Amish’s The Immortals Of Meluha.

Author Amish, who created waves in Indian publishing with a US $ 1-million book contract, has cracked it even bigger this time with an American producer purchasing the rights to The Immortals Of Meluha .

While Bollywood director Karan Johar has obtained the rights for an adaption of the popular book, the English rights of the same has gone to an undisclosed American producer.

“I have signed the deal with a U.S. producer for the first book with an option for the subsequent books,” says Amish.

The author was given a lucrative book deal by publisher Westland for writing his Shiva trilogy — The Immortals Of Meluha (2010), The Secret Of The Nagas (2011) and The Oath Of The Vayuputras (2013).

The banker-turned-author has now started work on his next book. “It is not an extension to the Shiva trilogy; that’s over. But this book would also pertain to mythology, history and spirituality,” he said.

According to Amish, the domestic film industry and the publishing industry are moving closer to one another. “The Indian film industry is changing. The story is gaining importance. The stars themselves want a good story and they have realised that a good story is important and a great place to get those stories is in books,” says Amish. He says filmmakers don’t mind picking a bestseller, which meant that the story was already well-liked.


India polio-free for third straight year

India has a reason to smile. On Monday, it completes three years without reporting any case of polio.

It is only the second time in the history that a disease is being eliminated in India through immunisation after small pox in May 1980.

However, officially the World Health Organisation (WHO) will certify India as polio-free on February 11 after the last of random samples picked up would be tested.

India’s being declared polio-free is particularly important because it was the only country in the South East Asian region with polio cases.

Once India is declared polio-free, the entire WHO region would also become polio free. The WHO on February 24, 2012 removed India from the list of countries with active endemic wild polio transmission.

India carried a large burden of polio disease but has made impressive progress in the past 35 months.

The number of polio cases came down from 741 in 2009 to 42 in 2010 and just one in 2011 – from West Bengal.

No polio case has been reported in the country since then.

India won the war against polio through intense Pulse Polio Immunisation under the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988 under which over 17 crore children were vaccinated in each round of vaccination with the help of 24 lakh vaccinators.


India from my bicycle @

Pedal poweredDr Unni (seen here cycling on the beach in Dandi, Gujarat) believes his journey is a modest ambition to see things for himself;photo: Esmerelda Jelbart Wallbridge/MSF

Pedal powered Dr Unni (seen here cycling on the beach in Dandi, Gujarat) believes his journey is a modest ambition to see things for himself;photo: Esmerelda Jelbart Wallbridge/MSF

Dr. Unni Karunakara of Doctors Without Borders tells BHUMIKA K. what his nearly-three months of cycling all over India has shown him about his country. He is in Bangalore this weekend.

Pedalling his way through many different towns and villages of India since October 2013, Dr. Unni Krishnan Karunakara has seen many facets of India — people driving luxury cars worth lakhs on the highways roll down windows and throw out plastic bottles, young children walking to school all nattily dressed in uniforms with ties, but with no shoes on their feet, labourers picking coffee or cutting sugarcane with no access to doctors.

Dr. Unni completed a three-year term as International President of the Nobel Peace Prize winning Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in October 2013. MSF is an international medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters in around 70 countries.

In an effort to take his work further, spark conversations with the general public, medical students, and health care providers on health, health care, and humanitarian action, he set out on this journey, called UnniCycles.

It had always been his dream — of cycling across India. Now, he is traversing 5,000 kilometres through 10 states, beginning in Kashmir and ending in Kerala. He is currently travelling through Karnataka. And it’s a place he’s fairly familiar with, considering this Alleppey man graduated from The Kasturba Medical College, Manipal.

He’s also studied and trained at Yale University and Johns Hopkins University. The focus of his research has been on the demography of forced migration and the delivery of health care to neglected populations affected by conflict, disasters and epidemics.

“My journey has given me snapshots of the situation on the ground in India…I’m not coming out with any big revelations,” he says, tired from the day’s journey, and resting at a hotel near Malavalli, Karnataka. “But I see many different Indias that co-exist but don’t converse with each other. I see a big disconnect — while we send out cryogenic rockets and missions to Mars — which is all very good, we fail to address life, death and survival issues.”

Altogether, he will stop in 65 cities, towns and villages, such as Chandigarh, Delhi, Jaipur, Soda, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Puducherry. Unni will also have Q&A sessions after film screenings of documentaries featuring MSF’s medical programmes.

Having worked in Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Congo, he tries to analyse the challenges that India’s healthcare system faces. “There is a huge last-mile problem. While the government has ambitious plans, there are entire communities without access. There are personnel issues — doctors appointed rarely show up in remote health centres, but it’s not entirely their fault, because when they do go, there are no drugs available to dispense to patients.” He recounts his recent journey through hilly Coorg, and forested Nagarahole where he found migrant labourers with no access to healthcare. “They don’t even know their rights. But in big towns and cities, there is quite some improvement.”

Another big issue for India is hygiene — both in terms of lack of toilets and access to drinking water. “Everywhere I went, I saw women spending a lot of time at water points, waiting for water.” He also points out how India tends to focus on child and maternal mortality, but for the other half of the country, in urban areas, it is diabetes, hypertension and cancer that need attention.

His cycling journey is a modest ambition to go out and see things, he says. He’s been setting out on his cycle every day at six and by 11 a.m. he manages to clock about 60 kilometres.

Then the heat and traffic slow him down, he says. By 3 in the evening he starts winding up the journey for the day. But not all days go as planned and he ends up cycling till late at night too, sometimes.

What is his takeaway from the journey? “I’m still thinking through all this — there’s a lot of indifference in the country. We are slowly getting good at claiming what we want for ourselves but we are indifferent to others. When I cycle through villages, I meet excited people who want to know what I’m doing. When the adivasis and migrant workers see me, they are blank — I must seem surreal and alien to their reality, almost Bollywoodish…As a humanitarian worker I believe that every individual deserves a life of dignity. But I don’t think we all subscribe to that, but it’s not a uniquely Indian problem,” he stresses.

Unni is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, and on completing this journey on January 31, he heads back to his teaching assignment.

For details on his journey see



AU awards for best Ph.D. thesis on Feb. 10

Surveyor General of India Swarna Subba Rao is among those selected to receive gold medals and prizes for the best Ph.D. thesis during the 80 th and 81 st Convocation of Andhra University to be held here on February 10.

Dr. Subba Rao would receive the Sri V.B.V. Reddy research gold medal for the year 2011 for his thesis submitted in geo-engineering.

The following are Ph.D. recipients selected to receive medals and prizes: Faculty of Arts: Prof. G. Sundara Reddy gold medal for best thesis in Hindi-G. Padmavathi (2010) and Y. Pushpavathi (2011); Sri K. Gangi Reddy gold medal in Humanities and Social Sciences – Chintalapudi Sai Kumar (2010) and Kukkamalla Anil Kumar (2011); Sri Tripuraneni Gopichand Memorial medal – M. Rajya Lakshmi (2010) and Chintakindi Srinivasa Rao (2011); Smt. Kottapalli Yaminidevi Memorial Prize for promoting research in Sanskrit – Shaik Babuji (2010) and Susarla Sarada Purna (2011); Sir R. Venkataratnam research medals – B. Umabala (medal-I 2010, 2011), Samuel Kifle Kidane (medal-II 2010, 2011) and medal-III Tamarana Sreenu (2010, 2011); Vallaabhaneni Ramakrishna Rao Endowment prize – Jakku Srinivasa Rao (2010) and E. Ashok Kumar (2011).

Faculty of Law: Sri Peri Narayana Murthy Memorial Gold medal – K. Pallavi (2011), Thatta Srinivasa Rao (2011).

Faculty of Science, Engineering and Pharmaceutical Sciences: Prof. P. Tiruvenganna Rao Shastiabdipoorthi prize in physics – Kuna China Varada Rajulu (2010) and T. Joseph (2011); Sri V.B.V. Reddy Research medal – V. Sambasiva Rao (2010) and Swarna Subba Rao (2011); Mrs. Avula Jayaprada Devi and Sri Sambasiva Rao prize and endowment – Mangipudi Siva Kumar (2010 and 2011); Prof. R. Ramanadham research medal – N.V.V.S. Suryanarayana (2010 and 2011); Prof. B.G.S. Rao memorial prize in botany – D. Sandhya Deepika (2010) and J. Koteswara Rao (2011); Prof. L. Ramachandra Row 70th birthday prize – K. Krishna Kumar (2010) and T. Srinivasa Reddy (2011); Sri J.J. Rao award in pharmaceutical sciences – G.S. Vankata Subramanyam (2010) and G.V. Phani Bhushan (2011) and Prof. Desaraju Venkata Rao Shastyabdhapurthi endowment prize – Noubade Kashinath (2010) and Ponakampalli Rambabu (2011).