Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Life and work
Education and purposeTyagaraja started his musical training under Sri Sonti Venkataramanayya at an early age. Tyagaraja regarded music as a way to experience the love of God. His objective while performing music was to repeat the name of God and contemplate on His pastimes, thereby reducing the vices of the mind, not to display his mastery over Raga and Tala. He had to struggle quite a bit to compose music in which Bhava, that is, emotion, was crowned. (He always felt that Bhava was not to be compromised for Raga and Tala.) But then, as the legend goes, he was supposedly blessed by the divine sage Narada with great musical knowledge. With these blessings, Tyagaraja gained mastery of music. He is said to have sung Sadhinchane, the third of Pancharatna Kritis, on this occasion.
CareerAs a 13 year old, he composed Namo Namo Raghava in Desikathodi. Venkataramanayya wanted to listen to Tyagaraja's new talent and so invited him to perform at his house in Thanjavur. Tyagaraja then sang Endaro Mahaanubhavulu(ఎందరో మహానుభావులు), the fifth of the Pancharatna Krithis.
Venkataramanayya, intensely pleased with Tyagaraja's song, told the king about the genius of Tyagaraja. The king sent an invitation to his court along with much wealth and gifts. Tyagaraja cleared his dilemma by composing and singing Nidhi Chala Sukhama and rejected the offer.
Angered at his rejection of the royal offer, Tyagaraja's brother took revenge by throwing his idols of Rama Pattabhisheka in the adjacent River Cauvery. Tyagaraja, unable to bear the separation with his Lord, made a pilgrimage to all the major temples in South India and composed many more songs in praise of those temple deities. He is said to have finally found the idols with the help of Rama himself. Tyagaraja attained Moksha on a Vaikunta Ekadasi.
Remembrance and celebrationHaving composed an innumerable number of keerthanas (songs) that explored all the possibilities within the rules of the Carnatic music tradition, Tyagaraja is truly regarded as the cornerstone of Carnatic music.
To this day, a commemorative music festival called the Tyagaraja Aaradhana is held at Thiruvaiyaru in the months of January to February every year. In the US, there is a Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana held in Cleveland, Ohio every April. Usually, dozens of Carnatic musicians preside and perform in this festival. With the large influx of Indians in the United States in the late 20th and early 21st century, many other cities in the USA with large Telugu/Tamil/Kannada populations now regularly hold the Tyagaraja Aradhana festivals every year.
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Born in Rajahmundry on July 15, 1909, Durgabai could not pursue higher education when she was young because of the prevailing social conditions. She could learn only Telugu and Hindi. While she herself was a learner, she began teaching some girls what she was learning. She called her school `Balika pathashala.' This was the seed of AMS. Clearly signs of future leadership qualities were glaringly visible at that young age. She learnt English in her late 20s and went on to become a lawyer. One was never, too, old to learn was her motto. In the early 1920s, Mahatma Gandhi addressed a public meeting in Kakinada.
Durgabai, then 14, was a volunteer at that meeting. She requested him to address women separately because some women, including Muslims, could not attend. He obliged her. Her interest in the freedom movement began with that.
As a volunteer she joined Mahatma, Rajendra Prasad, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Motilal Nehru, Sardar Patel and other stalwarts travelling all over the country to raise popular consciousness about the freedom movement.
Madras, 1930. Memories are strill green and images vivid even after 72 years. As young girls, we watched it from the balcony - Durgabai leading the salt satyagraha rally holding a big national flag to Triplicane beach. As a political prisoner, she sacrificed personal comfort to stay with ordinary criminals in `C' class prison. She triggered our interest in freedom movement and began reading newspapers.
The AMS was registered under the Society Act. Rules insisted that seven members of the institution sign the concerned papers. I happened to be one of them. Those times, institutions looked for support to the rich and the philanthropic, not the Government. The Rani of Mirzapur gifted the site on which the main buildings of AMS in Madras stand today. The Pithapuram Maharani helped set up the Chinnamba Vidyalaya and the Rani of Bobbili contributed for the Mallama Devi Mahila Mandir, a hostel for women. Many others followed suit in Madras, Hyderabad etc.
Durgabai was a frank person and a good friend. She used to consult board members in AMS matters. Things always moved fast. The AMS nursing home in Madras was inaugurated in 1952, fulfilling a long-felt need. Citizens were happy. Nursing courses were introduced to fulfil another necessity.
Durgabai later became a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Planning Commission. The Government accepted her proposal to set up social welfare boards supported by Central grants. She became first chairman of the Central Board which she, with her practical knowledge of the field and personal experience, managed successfully for 10 years.
The Godavari originates in the Sahyadri hills as a small stream. Gathering tributaries along, it becomes a massive river making the land fertile. Similarly Durgabai's brain child AMS, inspired by lofty ideals, began with the teaching of a few girls. In the same way, under Durgabai's stewardship, the AMS became a symbol of women's service.
Durgabai Deshmukh was one of the great women of the country. She will be remembered for her constructive social work, for the innovative programmes introduced and the institution she built and nurtured.
Another article from The Hindu
The year 1927 was a watershed in the annals of the freedom struggle, when the Simon Commission was deputed to discuss with leaders of the Indian National Congress the reforms and amendments to the existing statute pertaining to British India. When the commission came to Madras it faced a hostile crowd of processionists shouting full-throated: 'Go back Simon Commission'. The police opened indiscriminate fire at the protesters in Parry's Corner, the busy centre of the city, and a young volunteer died on the spot. The procession leaders asked the police officer to allow them to identify the victim. Training his rifle at the processionists, he threatened them with dire consequences, and none dared to approach the body.
But one leader among them bravely unbuttoned his coat showing his chest before the rifleman and shouted: ''Shoot me''. Fearing fatal consequences, the police officer withdrew the revolver, whereupon a plethora of voices came from the crowd shouting loudly `Andhra Kesari ki Jai'. That was Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, who from then onwards came to be reverentially called 'Andhra Kesari'. Born on August 23, 1872, as the first son of Gopalakrishnayya and Subbammain Kanaparti village in the then Guntur district, he lost his father in prime and was brought up by his mother braving abject poverty. He grew up and joined the middle school, when he came under the pupilage of Immaneni Hanumantharao Naidu, a teacher with a difference, who developed parental love for Prakasam and helped him in ever so many ways to channel the energies of the young dynamo on constructive lines. Naidu and Prakasam moved out to Rajahmundry, where the lad passed the matriculation examination. His histrionic talent flowered resulting in his playing female roles along with Naidu who would play the title roles. Prakasam married his sister's daughter, Hanumayamma, in 1890.
Later, he passed the F.A. (Faculty of Arts) examination and took the law degree in Madras. Setting up practice at Rajahmundry in 1894, he soon developed a large clinetele and became the pride of the town. He was elected the Municipal Chairman in 1901.
With the financial help of Kanchumarthi Ramachandra Rao, a zamindar, Prakasam went to London to qualify as a Barrister. In 1907, he shifted to Madras, where he pursued a lucrative career. He acquired house properties in Madras, Tiruchirapalli, Ongole and Rajahmundry, besides fertile lands.
Prakasam attended the Calcutta Congress session in 1917, presided over by Annie Besant. He turned a paraclete of her Home Rule Movement. Giving up practice in 1921 at the call of Mahatma Gandhi, he launched an English daily, `Swarajya', which became not only the mounthpiece of Prakasam but also the fighting weapon for the patriots of South India. Its circulation was 20,000.
When Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (CR) apprised Gandhiji of Prakasam's bravado in starting an English daily (which although earned the wrath the British Government became most popular to raise his image and influence on the English-knowing people of the South), without a corpus fund for running the paper, the Mahatma asked CR to convey approval unequivocally. But very soon, Gandhiji made a volte face and advised Prakasam to stop the paper at once without assigning any reason. Being a hard nut, Prakasam brushed aside the advice and made serious efforts to enhance the circulation of `Swarajya'. Thus a cleavage developed between the two leaders.
Meanwhile, Prakasam was elected as the Madras PCC president which opportunity he wisely utilised for selling the newspaper's shares to public. Pattabhi Seetharamaiah told Prakasam that it was amoral to collect money in his capacity as PCC president especially at a time when the Government was contemplating the formation of ministries in all the Presidencies. Prakasam could not overlook Pattabhi's gentle warning. Prominent among the numerous journalists trained by him were K.M. Panikkar, Pothen Joseph, Kotamraju Punnayya, Kotamraju Rama Rao, K. Santhanam, Kolavennu Ramakoteeswara Rao (founder of 'Triveni' English journal), G.V. Krupanidhi and Khasa Subba Rao. `Swarajya' was largely responsible for awakening the educated elite, an atmosphere conducive for the success of all the movements launched by Gandhiji.
Earlier in 1926, Prakasam was elected to the State Legislative Council as a member representing Guntur-Krishna-East and West Godavari districts. Prakasam was also elected to the Central Assembly defeating Mocherla Ramachandra Rao ('Andhra Gokhale') by a margin of 10,000 votes.
The rulers tried to arrest Prakasam but were afraid of its consequences. When he participated in the Salt Satyagaha in 1930, he was imprisoned in Vellore jail. His jailmates were C.R., Kasinadhuni Nageswara Rao, Pattabhi, S. Satyamurthy and Ayyadevara Kaleswara Rao. In jail, Prakasam wrote two books - `Monetary System of the World' and `Indian Monetary System'. Suspecting Prakasam's stay in jail along with other noted leaders was dangerous, he was shifted to the Cannanore jail in 1931. Soon after his release from jail following the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, Prakasam's wife died.
In 1937, elections were held under provincial autonomy granted by the Government of India Act of 1935. Prakasam, as president of the Provincial Congress Committee, proposed CR (much to his surprise) for Prime Ministership. Prakasam was inducted into CR's cabinet as Revenue Minister which provided him the much needed opportunity to help the people. But the Zamindari Abolition Bill, which he was keen to enact, could not be pushed through in the Assembly as World War II broke out in 1939 and all Congress Ministries resigned. But with the cooperation of Andhra Kesari, CR succeeded in getting four bills relating to Prohobition, Harijan entry into temples and levy of sales tax passed.
Prakasam was again put behind bars (Vellore) when he actively participated in the Quit-India Movement in 1942. Along with him were V.V. Giri, Madapushi Ananthasayanam Iyengar, Ramakoteeswara Rao and M. Pallamraju from Andhra, Kamaraj Nadar, Muthuranga Mudaliar and M. Bhaktavatsalam from Tamil region, K. Madhava Menon and R. Raghava Menon from Malabar and K.R. Karanth (South Canara). Despite Gandhiji's reluctance, Prakasam was elected leader of the Congress Legislature Party and was sworn-in as Prime Minister of Madras on June 10, 1946. He made Prohibition a grand success which CR could not achive when he was PM earlier.
The revolutionary schemes introduced by Prakasam to improve the lot of the underprivileged caused great financial losses to business magnates, who carried on a silent campaign to dislodge his government. A no-confidence montion was introduced in the Assembly forcing Prakasam to send his resignation to the Governor, Sir Archbald Nye. Prakasam broke away from the Congress to start the Praja Party and contested the first general election of Free India in 1952. But, he faced a humiliating defeat. Sri Prakasa who became the Governor of Madras made CR the Chief Minister.
The long-standing demand for a Telugu State started gathering momentum and soon snowballed into a popular agitation. The supreme sacrifice of 'Amarajeevi' Potti Sreeramulu, hastened the formation of Andhra State with Kurnool as capital. Prakasam, who had by then returned to the Congress fold, donned the mantle of Chief Minister on October 1, 1953. There was a lot of commotion over the choice of Kurnool as capital and at that time Andhra Kesari received a telephone call from Vijayawada with the voice at the other end saying that his statue would be smashed if he failed to shift the capital from Kurnool. Prakasam bravely replied: ''Who asked you to erect my statue? Break it if you so desire.'' This stern reply silenced the agitators.
Prakasam was responsible for establishing Sri Venkateswara University, introduction of water supply schemes and projects in the new State and construction of a barrage across the Krishna. In 1954, his Ministry fell on the Prohibtion Bill. But Prakasam who passed through many a vicititude, took it easy and bowed out of politics.
The 'lion of Andhra' breathed his last on May 20, 1957, and the famous editor of 'Andrha Prabha', Narla Venkateswara Rao, commented: ''Andhra is bereft of light'' (Prakasa viheenamaina Andhra). A grateful Government carved a new distrcit out of Nellore and Guntur and named it 'Praksam'.
His statue - not a good replica of his sprightly figure - is located near the Aseelmetta Junction.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
In the face of dire poverty of the family, he still could complete his education in the Hindu High School and the Presidency College, in the then Madras, financially supported by his roommate in the hostel, B.Narayanamurthi.
Subba Row then joined the Madras Medical College in 1915, got the L.M.S in 1921, and not the M.B.B.S degree. The British professor failed him in surgery, because he wore khadi surgical gown and thereby showed his identification with the national movement for freedom.
He was clear about what he wanted to do — to take up research for the service and benefit of humanity — and not set up shop as a doctor. He got admission, without taking an examination to the Harvard School of Tropical Medicine.
He married Seshagiri in 1922 and could give her a skimpy living on a monthly salary of Rs.100 which he earned for a year as a lecturer at the Madras Ayurvedic College, founded by Lakshmi Pathi.
His father-in-law came to his aid for proceeding to the U.S. for higher studies; he arrived in Boston on October 26, 1923 with $100 in his pocket. Strong, Head of the School of Tropical Medicine, lent him the money for registration and other immediate expenses.
The work done at Harvard, amidst the hard times he passed through and the exploitation by his colleagues, Fiske and Duggar, is described in the correct setting in chapters two to nine.
The Fiske-Subba Row Method of estimating phosphorus was published in December 1925 and earned him a Rockfeller Fellowship. Following this phosphocreatine was announced in April 1927, which was a landmark in the history of muscle biochemistry.
Subba Row was now ripe, despite himself, for the overtures of Lederle Laboratories from William Bell, President of American Cynamid. Bell's goodwill created congenial working conditions for him to leap forward in the pharmaceutical work that he was soon to make. This subject is covered in detail in chapters 12 to 15.
He shunned publicity. When Aureomycin was publicly launched on July 21, 1948, Subba Row sat in a back row in the Roosevelt Auditorium. Some of the miracle drugs that he discovered are listed below: Synthesis of folic acid (August 1945); the first broad spectrum antibiotic Aureomycin (July 1948), by which he paid his debts to his motherland when plague broke out in Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1994; Hetrazan (1947), which has since become the key element in WHO's global campaign for the elimination of filariasis.
Aureomycin, "a million dollar drug" in the words of Subba Row, turned out to be a money-spinner for American Cynamid. A new fungus was named after him as "Subbaromyces Splendens".
He died on August 9,1948 at the age of 52. Till 1946, nearly 23 years since his landing in the U.S., he was not eligible for U.S. citizenship. But true to his inner aspiration, he clung to his Indian citizenship.
Seshagiri, who had 25 years of waiting behind her, said in the words that only a woman of her noble mould could muster, "I was glad that by marrying me, he had been enabled to help humanity in the way he had."
The book, so attractively got up at an incredibly low price, should find a place in the personal collection of all doctors and aspiring medical students
"October 8, 1953," he recounts, "that's when I came to the CCI with the Commonwealth team."
Eager to revisit the past, Subba Row also sported the same tie he had worn when he first came to the club more than 51 years ago.
Subba Row played 13 Tests for England, but became more famous as a match referee.
During his tenure (1991 to 2001), among many things, he penalized Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath for spitting at West Indies batsman Sherwin Campbell, sent Aussie keeper Ian Healy home for showing dissent and officiated the infamous India-South Africa series in 2000.
Subba Row, 72, on vacation in India, spoke to Cricket Correspondent Deepti Patwardhan about his Indian roots and his involvement in the game as a player, administrator and official.
Can you tell us about your connection with India?
My father originally comes from Andhra Pradesh, from a little village called Bampatla on the coast, which I think has had some damage during the recent tsunami. It is near a place called Chirala, which was the home of the Indian Tobacco Company. At a very young age my grandfather sent him to a university in Ireland, in 1913. He did four years at Dublin University and got his law degree. Then he retraced his steps back to England. He was there for a short time and during that short time he met my mother. He brought his English bride back to India.
He practiced in Chennai, Madras at that time, as a barrister for the Privy Council for three years during which my two elder brothers were born, and then in 1920 they returned to England.
Sadly, my eldest brother died in a car accident before I was born and I think I am just a replacement for him. But I have come back to my father's village three times now. It was very nice to meet the people there.
When you were born, the freedom movement was brewing in India. Did it affect Indian families in England?
No, living in the UK we didn't see much of it. My father was president of the Indian social club in London, but we weren't really affected by what was happening in India.
Did you ever contemplate playing Test cricket for India?
I always enjoyed the association with India, but having been born and brought up in England, and lived through that awful war, with the bombing and all that, you just get very anglicised. I have never forgotten my Indian connections and I am very lucky to have friends in both parts of the world.
But having grown up there you become a part of the English culture; going to university and playing English cricket. I also went into the Royal Air Force for two years when all the youngsters had to do what they called the National Service, played cricket that summer and then went on to play for England.
Do you regret not playing a Test in India?
It would have been lovely to play here (in India), but it is just that a tour didn't coincide when I was playing. I played against India in 1959 at the Oval; I got close to a century then (he scored 94).
It was always nice to talk with the players from India. I first met the Indian team just after the war. The Indian team was the first to come to England after the war (World War II) in 1946. People like (Vinoo) Mankad, (Vijay) Merchant, (Vijay) Hazare and the Nawab of Pataudi (Sr) were there. My father took me to a place called Hastings at the end of the day's play and I shook hands with all of them when I was 14. So it was a lovely experience.
A WREATH FOR DOCTOR RAMAYYABy Ghen Shangin - Berezevosky.Translated from Russian by Achala Jain and edited by S P K GuptaEvelyn Publishers in collaboration with Tribology Society of India;Pages 293 .
Fuels play an important role in the modern industrialised world. Without them, machines will not more, To move the `wheels of the world’ smoothly, lubricants are needed. With appropriate additives, the performance of lubricants can be significantly improved for better fuel performance and longer life. The chemistry of fuels and lubricants is studied under a new branch of science known as chemmotology in the erstwhile Soviet Union and it is recognised in the West as tribochemistry.
One of the initial pioneeering workers in this field was Kolachala Seeta Ramayya now rightly called the Father of Chemmotology. He hailed from Vuyyuru, a small Andhra village, on what was then the boundary between the Madras province and the Nizam state of Hyderabad. His father, who was a village priest, inculcated high values in him right from his childhood. He told him to ``do everything the best possible way’’ because it was ``the only way to become human’’.
Guided by these words of wisdom of his father, Ramayya set off from his native village for America. During his voyage to America, Ramayya was introduced not only to the fuel without which the engine would not move but also to the lubricant without which it would break down in no time. However, he had no inkling whatsoever at that time that a thin film of oil would arrest his attention all his life and that he would ``see the whole world through the processes that take place between the axle and the wheel’’. In this respect, Ramayya’s voyage was different from the voyage to Europe during which the celebrated physicist C V Raman was attracted to the blue of the Mediterranean Sea, an attraction that ultimately culminated in the discovery of the Effect that won hiim the Nobel prize.
While in America, Ramayya had to live in extreme poverty. However, support came from Ceylonese Ponnamabalam who became his friend and also from Cindy who offered him a room to stay in. Ramayya later marrried Cindy, but soon a crack developed in their relationship. After receiving Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Chicago, Ramayya could manage to get a decent job in L. Sonneborn Sons Inc, a privately owned corporation of the New York State. This firm was in the petrochemical business and was executing contracts for the U.S. Defence Department. Working in this firm, Ramayya developed various compositions of additives for improving the performance of motor oils. He prepared various patent applications. However, Ramayya’s firm filed only three applications in 1930. The first of these patents obtained in 1933 was titled `Art of purifying petroleum sulphonic acids derived from the treatment of mineral oils with sulphuric acid’.
As fate would have it, Ramayya decided to move to the erstwhile Soviet Union in the 1930s. Here, he was made head of two laboratories, one at the oil Institute and the other at the tractor Institute. Showing continued zeal and perseverance, Ramayya could develop kerosene type fuels and high quality lubricants with special additives for facilitating battle tanks maneuverable even under fast changing weather conditions in the USSR. This proved to be a key factor for the Soviet victory over the Germans World War-II. Ramayya was also instrumental in developing some of the instruments that saved a great number of machines from premature wear and tear. They were not only put to use in the Soviet Union but found their way to other socialist countries from China to Czechoslovakia.
A couple of years after having shifted to Russia, Ramayya married a simple Russia woman of German extraction and raised a Soviet family. He later took Soviet citizenship in 1936. Although he was proud of his Soviet citizenship, he never forgot his original roots in India.
While remaining content as a family man, Ramayya also carried out research on the quality improvement of lubricants, publishing a total of seventy research papers. He put together some of his research works in 1949 in the form of a monograph titled `Viscosity anomaly in oil and its effect on friction in machines’. This monograph Ramayya submitted in 1951 as his thesis for a Master’s degree.
However, the USSR Academy of Science considered the monograph superb piece of research and, therefore, conferred on him the degrees of both Master and Doctor of Technical Sciences.
As a human being, Ramayya was extremely modest. He occasionally received visitors from his native of Andhra. Chasing wealth was alien to him. He was simple in his living too. The only items that filled his modest apartment were gifts from his Indian visitors. These included calendars and innumerable books in Telugu.
During his last years, Ramayya was collating his ideas and concepts of a fourth state of matter now known as the plasma state. Worldwide efforts now are going on to create thermonuclear power by harnessing this state. However, Ramayya died unhappy, as he could not concretise his ideas regarding this bizarre state. He was a patient of bronchial asthma and died of double pneumonia on September 29, 1977 in Moscow.
Indeed the story of Ramayya is the romantic story of an unsung hero. Ramayya has told this fascinating story in first person in the book under review. However, it is not an autobiography in the strict sense of the term as it was originally written in Russian by Ramayya’s son-in-law Ghen Shangin-Berezovsky. The author has used several literary devices to tell the story and has disguised names except those of Soviet personalities figuring in the narrative. However, as remarked by the editor, neither the events nor the central characters are imaginary.
The book has been translated by Achala Jain and edited by S P K Gupta. The editor has done a wonderful job of writing a chronological profile based on interviews with the Ramayya family in Russia and India. In a separate section, the editor has also compiled a list of Ramayya’s scientific work including his two dissertations and a host of research papers.
Incidentally, Ramayya’s contributions to science are not known in India for he worked first in the US and then in the erstwhile Soviet Union. The vivid account of Ramayya’s life and his scientific discoveries is both interesting and useful, more so to the Indian readers who would certainly love to read about a scientist of Indian origin whom they do not know well. The book on the whole is well written, meticulously translated and edited. One can enjoy reading the book even at one single stretch.
Thursday, June 02, 2005
His concern for humanity found expression in the founding of schools where children were not only nurtured for academic excellence but also helped to explore the fundamental questions of life.