Thursday, August 11, 2005

Tanguturi SuryaKumari

Please read following article on a british magazine on T. Surya Kumari,12559,1486436,00.html

The first time I met the performer Surya Kumari, who has died aged 79, was in the mid-1970s, when she travelled from London to lead workshops in Indian dance with youngsters from the Toxteth district of Liverpool. Surrounded by a group of sceptical teenagers, and looking serenely unperturbed, she took to a small stage and began yoga exercises. There was no invitation to join in, but somehow she got the young people's attention.

Surya was soon surrounded on stage by youngsters literally tying themselves in knots. For the next two weeks, she not only led the most harmonious and disciplined of yoga and Indian dance workshops, but also delighted in learning disco dances from her pupils. We knew then that we had met someone exceptional.
Born in Rajamundry, in south India, of Brahmin parents, Surya became a freedom fighter, or more accurately a freedom singer, while still a schoolgirl. Accompanied by her uncle, Tangutoori Prakasam (known as the Lion for his defiance of British troops during the struggle for Indian independence), she sang patriotic songs which became more popular, and proved even more of a draw, than the speeches of politicians.
She was a film star at the age of 12, when a special part was written into the film Vipranarayana (1937) to accommodate her singing talents. Record companies came forward to record her voice, and at a time when gramophones were not yet common, her songs could be heard everywhere. Patrons in restaurants and outdoor cafes would pay extra if their meal was accompanied by Surya's songs, and passing traffic would stop until a song had finished.
Her presence was a major attraction at meetings of the Indian National Congress, and her recordings reached rural areas unvisited by politicians. Even today, her most famous song, Maa Telugu Thalli (in praise of her mother tongue), is sung at the start of social functions in her home state of Andhra.
Altogether, Surya appeared in some 25 Indian films in the 1940s and 1950s, singing and acting in a variety of languages, including Telugu, Sanskrit, Tamil, Gujurati, Hindi and English. In the mid-1950s, she made her first visit to America, as a member of a delegation from the Indian film industry invited to Hollywood by the Motion Picture Association of America (though union regulations precluded her from film work there).
In 1959, she went to New York to teach at Columbia University, and also to add to her skills by studying western classical and popular dance forms. On her arrival, she appeared on television alongside the Indian ambassador and sang Indian songs. She then appeared as Queen Sudarshana in Rabindranath Tagore's The King Of The Dark Chamber (1961) and won the Off-Broadway Critics' Award for Best Actress. She also took the role of Princess Chitra in the dance production of Tagore's Chitra for CBS, and researched Indian stories for Alfred Hitchcock.
In 1965, Surya travelled to London, and her life changed again. Scheduled to play the Goddess Kali in Kindly Monkeys, a new play at the Arts Theatre, she decided at the end of the run to stay on and found India Performing Arts, a project to train performers and mount productions. Annual performances by Surya herself, her students and fellow artists followed at the Purcell Room, in the South Bank Centre, for the next 40 years.
Something of the flavour of these gatherings may be gained from the programmes for two events in 1982, with schoolchildren appearing alongside Ben Kingsley in Homage To Mahatma Gandhi, and Larry Adler's harmonica improvisations (complemented by Surya's instrumental accompaniment) in An Indian Pageant.
Surya's political commitments were engrained in all her work, whether as chief singer at the Gandhi centenary commemoration at St Paul's cathedral in 1969, or with the Hordaland Teater of Bergen, for children in Norway, with whom she worked from 1991 to 1998.
From 1973, Surya was supported in her work by her husband, Harold Elvin, poet, painter and potter, reading his poetry and telling his stories as she sang and played the tanpura and sitar. He predeceased her.
· Surya Kumari (Tangutoori Suryakumari), singer, actor and dancer, born November 13 1925; died April 25 2005

Monday, August 01, 2005

Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao

Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao

In 1941 a bespectacled young man came to Calcutta to secure a job. He had a first class first in M.A. mathematics from Andhra University. As he could find no place offering him research facilities, he was ready to take up any career. By chance he met a student of the Indian Statistical Institute. Curiosity made him accept an invitation to visit the institute, which he had not even heard of. What the young man saw in the three rooms of the Presidency College, to which the institute was then confined, fascinated him.

The rattling calculating machines, the colorful charts and sheets full of data were exciting. He immediately persuaded his father to allow him to join the institute for the M.A. course in statistics. He passed the course with honours, winning a gold medal.

The young man was Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao, who came to be a renowned statistician. He was born on September 10, 1920, at Hadagali in Karnataka. His parents named him Radhakrishna because, like Lord Krishna, he was their eighth male child. He had his schooling at several towns in Andhra Pradesh. For college education he went to Vishakapatnam. In his schools and college he won several prizes and scholarships. Although he was greatly interested in physics, his father convinced him to take up mathematics, which, he said, was in the Indian tradition.

Rao first caught the attention of the world of statistics when in 1945 he put forward the "theory of estimation". The theory enables one to find an unknown quantity for a pile of data. In due course, he developed several statistical tools. His formulae and theorems, for instant the "Cramer-Rao inequality", "the Fisher-Rao theorem" and "Rao-Blackwellisation" are now part of any standard text on statistics.

Rao considers statistics to be a "very human science". What looks like a collection of numbers has indeed an immense significance in daily affairs. For example, his own technique of orthogonal (rightangular) arrays in the "design of experiments" assists industry in increasing production to the maximum. His contributions to multivariate analysis can be used in medical diagnosis, plant breeding and biometry. Biometry is the mathematical study of measurements in biology such as height, skull size, size of tail and geometry of flowers.

Earlier, in 1948, while doing his Ph.D. at Cambridge, Rao applied statistical methods to anthropology. He measured old skeletons of an African race to trace its origin statistically. In 1965 he worked in collaboration with Ronald A. Fisher, the celebrated statistician, on a genetics problem. Using statistics he mapped chromosomes in mice.

For his significant contributions Rao received the S. S. Bhatnagar Award, the Meghnad Saha Medal and the Guy Medal. In 1967 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society.

Rao has written more than half a dozen books on statistics. His Linear Statistical Inference and Its Applications has been translated into several languages. He is at present editor of Sankhya, the Indian statistical journal.