Small towns, big achievements

Who would have thought 10 years ago that Amritsar would have greater mall penetration (per thousand population) than Delhi;that Vittorio De Sica’s arthouse classic ‘Bicycle Thieves’ would be shown at an international film festival in Yamunanagar;that the Indian cricket team would be captained with such distinction by a Ranchi boy? Indeed, who would have thought that small towns would be so integral to India’s growth narrative? But is that the full picture? Amidst soaring real estate prices and mushrooming super-luxury car showrooms, there’s also a lament for a vanishing way of life – a time when you could just drop by at a friend’s place. TOI-Crest brings you the story of small-town India 2. 0 and what it has lost and found in transition

Revolution has many colours. But at the Adidas shop on Delhi Road in Rohtak, it’s white. Middle-aged farmers from nearby kasbahs and villages drive in SUVs and ask for the priciest pair of white sneakers. “They hardly bat an eyelid before shelling out Rs 9, 000, the maximum for a pair, ” says Durgesh Sharma, who manages the store. The colour matches with their time-honoured all-white outfit: kurtapyjama and pagri. And as they pay the bill, many also pick up a trendy deodorant, a new-millennium substitute for the traditional ittar.

Five years ago, says Sharma, Rohtak was home to just one big shoe store that stocked most wellknown brands. That was then. “Now you have separate stores for Adidas, Puma, Lotto, Reebok, Woodland, Liberty and many more. Even Nike is coming shortly, ” he says.
It isn’t that this small town in Haryana, about 70 km west of Delhi, has been seized by a sudden shoe fetish. Struck by a tsunami of desires, Rohtak is simply enjoying its affair with hedonism. At least 100 super luxury cars – Mercedes, Audis, BMWs – parade its narrow roads. “I have three Mercedes, all different models, and a white colour Audi, ” says Kamal Mittal, who deals in Maruti cars.

When the Mittals opened the town’s first automobile showroom back in 1992, they sold about 45 cars every month. That number has climbed to 250. Now Tata, Hyundai and General Motors have set up shops adding to that figure;Toyota, Honda and Skoda are coming soon. A fortnight ago, Mayank Agarwal opened his Mitsubishi Motors showroom. He already has three Pajero bookings. “Nobody wants a car jo sabke paas hai, ” he says.

And that’s just the tip of Rohtak’s urge to splurge. At Sheela Cineplex, where the cheapest ticket is Rs 100 and the costliest Rs 200, middle-aged matrons soaked in Bvlgari walk in with Terra handbags. In the evenings, kids shoot pool and gun down terrorists playing Counter-strike in gaming parlours. The town’s young and restless cannot wait for March next year when Rohtak, famous for rewari and gazak, will gets its first multiplex mall, Merion Sky, where they can chew on Domino’s Pizza and down Baskin Robbins ice-cream.

Another mall, Sheetal Lifestyle, is ready to take off. And IIM. Yes, the original Indian Institute of Management is all set to have its Rohtak edition. Scholar’s Rosary, a preparatory school for kids, is fully airconditioned. City walls show study-abroad posters. “Earlier, we went to Delhi for a slice of the good life. But now, Delhi has come to Rohtak, ” says Mittal.
Rohtak is emblematic of what’s happening to the happening side of small-town India. Says Gurcharan Das, columnist and author of India Unbound: “Small towns were always centres of substantial business. But the growth in GDP and middle-class income has led to an explosion of volumes. In the 1960s and ’70s, Indians were hypocritical about money. We loved money but nobody wanted to admit it. “

Now the hypocrisy has gone. Consequently, many in Tier II and Tier III towns have dumped their squirrel-like stashing mentality for serious spending. Nothing is an excess anymore. Shopkeepers observe that brand consciousness is at an all-time high. Those who have arrived want to announce it with a super luxury car, a designer wedding or a dream holiday. Sociologist Yogendra Singh explains, “The brand consciousness is arising from a rising contact between city, small town and village. There is a leveling of lifestyles. More media penetration has created new psychologies of consumption. A new value system has taken birth. “

Back in 2008, the R K Swamy/BBDO guide to market planning had named 25 district towns ranging from Erode in Tamil Nadu to Sangli in Maharashtra, from Sangrur in Punjab to Alappuzha in Kerala (Rohtak too was one of them) as emerging markets of consumption, thereby fuelling India’s growth narrative.

The growth, though, as Singh points out, isn’t proportionately distributed among all classes. Far from it, a substantial percentage is either left untouched by it or has emerged worse off. But many with economic muscle and social pedigree have also adroitly located themselves in the sweet spot of emerging opportunities.

In May 2010, Ernst and Young (E&Y ) released a report titled, ‘The new market shehers: Tapping the potential of emerging markets’. For the purpose of the report, India was divided into four categories: top six metros, 22 key urban towns (KUTs) or Tier II towns, 39 rest of urban India (ROUI) or Tier III towns and rural India. The cities and towns were classified on the basis of population, affluence level and growth potential. Some of the key urban towns were Pune, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Cochin, Vijaywada, Vizag and Nagpur. Among the 39 rest-of-urban-India towns were Aurangabad, Allahabad, Gwalior, Bhubaneshwar, Moradabad, Rohtak, Faizabad, Hasan, Shimla and Shillong.

The findings are revealing. Between 2006 and 2008, the growth in the number of malls in key urban towns (55 per cent) was twice that in metros (24 per cent). In 2008-09, sales of refrigerators and washing machines registered growth rates in KUTs and ROUI that were almost double the rate in metros.

The E&Y study also provides insights into consumer behaviour. In Surat, it says, women surprised retailers and manufacturers with “their adventurousness in trying out new things and their willingness to pay large amounts for beauty treatments and products. ” Beauty treatments such as age correction, body sculpting and removing skin imperfections have become increasingly popular there.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that the industry is putting its money where the moolah is. According to 2007 industry estimates, about 30-35 per cent of the urban advertising expenditure was spent on KUTs and ROUI. Now they potentially command 40-50 per cent of the expenditure. Samsung’s dealership network has increased from branch offices in 20 towns in 2007 to 50 towns in 2008. Skoda has increased its marketing budget for non-metros from 25 per cent in 2006 to 40 per cent in 2009, the E&Y study says. Simply put, the research suggests “an uptake in the consumption of premium brands and services in KUTs”.

Within the big picture of liberalisation, every town has its own specific reason for its growth: some have benefited from the establishment of small industries, others have flourished as BPO hubs, some have profited from their proximity to a metropolis.

Saloni Nangia of management consulting firm Technopak adds that the consumption uptake is partly spurred by small-town middle-class women working outside homes. “This has improved their quality of life, given them financial freedom. They decide much of their own lifestyle spends, ” she says.

Nangia also points out that with real estate and labour being cheaper, many MNCs have shifted to small towns. Rohtak, for instance, has gained from being Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s town. About 5, 500 acres of land was acquired around it to set up an Industrial Model Township. Integrated townships – Omaxe City and Sun City – are coming up. “In the past one year, land rates have doubled, ” says Jitesh Gupta of Omaxe. The rural elite benefiting from the boom are the ones who want the white Adidas shoes and the Pajeros. They are the driving force behind Rohtak’s romance with conspicuous consumption.

The insatiable hunger for more cuts across regions. Aurangabad, in north-west Maharashtra, wasn’t satisfied buying 150 Mercedes-Benz worth Rs 65 crore;builders, industrialists and others have come together to book 101 BMWs. All the cars will be delivered in January, 2011.

Even smaller, wannabe towns that have escaped the attention of management consultancy reports have discovered ways to gorge and indulge. Ask Ishita Swaroop. Her company 99labels. com sells firang fragrances, handbags, lingerie and watches online and 32 per cent of her buyers come from towns like Jorhat, Jammu, Hajipur, Sambalpur, Dimapur. There’s Ranjan Kumar (name changed on request) from Chandausi who recently bought Bwitch lingerie for his wife online – “I enjoy ordering intimate apparel for my wife without discomfort, ” he says – and Julia Manchong (name changed) from Guwahati has bought perfumes from D&G and Police.

But the need to flaunt greed is only one side of the small-town growth story. Those who are yet to join the gravy train are working hard at it. Das narrates a story that illustrates the small town’s fibre. “I did a Bharat darshan while working on India Unbound. In a Tamil village, I met a 14-year-old named Raju, who served tea and coffee at a wayside dhaba. In the evenings, he was learning computers. He confidently told me that he had found the secret of success – learn Windows and 400 words of English. His hero was Bill Gates and he wanted to be the richest man in the world. Raju reflects the spirit of small-town India: hunger, ambition, a willingness to work hard. “

Fulfilling that ambition now appears accessible. The expansion of media, including the recent growth of the DTH industry, has democratised experiences and aspirations. Aditya Swamy, channel head, MTV India, found this while interviewing contestants for the channel’s Roadies show. The Tier II town lads, he says, are not short of social confidence in any way. “They dress the same way, use the same gadgets, consume the same net content. There is a homogenisation of young people. Only the small town guys have a hunger to prove themselves more, ” he says. One edition’s winner, Ashutosh Kaushik, ran a dhaba in Saharanpur. A majority of MTV’s Facebook community belongs to Tier II towns. As Nangia says, “City and small-town India are on the same page now. “

This has caused, as Singh says, “a blurring of identities. ” Today, the term ‘small town’ is perhaps explained by what it is not: it is neither metro nor hinterland. Marketing survey categories such as Tier II and Tier III towns fail to fully decode their mindscape, their soul. Even within small towns, there are hierarchies of population, economics and mentalities. But though they are in different stages of development, in different moments of history, most are united by a common desire for the good life. The binge isn’t just a reflection of a nouveau riche behaviour;it is also an indicator of how middle India has been liberated from its past, from the Hindu rate of consumption.

Which is why towns that once swore by grandmother’s pickles and maa ke haanth ka khana (food cooked by mom) are now enjoying eating out. Towns like Allahabad and Kota are saying ‘I’m loving it’ to new McDonald outlets. And Jalandhar and Patiala are feasting on aloo da tikki burgers. “About 70 per cent of our new outlets are in Tier II and Tier III towns, ” says Rajesh Maini of McDonalds.
Similarly, Nagpur, that once boasted of only Soaji (spicy Nagpuri cuisine) joints and highway dhabas is now biting into Subway sandwiches, sipping cappucino at Cafê Coffee Day. And that’s when it is not in the hookahjoints. The first mall, Landmark, came in 2003. The number has gone up to eight, four with multiplexes where young girls try out Revlon and Maybelline. Three more are in the works.

The truth is that middle-class Indians love to shop. As Das points out, “Even in our hypocritical socialist days, the few who went abroad and who had money were famous for shopping till they dropped. There has also been an austere, Gandhian streak in our society but it was always an aspiration, limited to a few. Today India is a consumptiondriven economy and this is also a part of the small-town ethos. “

The question is: In a country with so many versions – India Shining, India Invisible, India Ignored – can the small towns, driven by an expanding moneyed class in them, in nearby mofussils and villages, continue to flourish as growth hubs? Or will the larger contradictions bring them down?

Amit Mitra, secretary general, Ficci, believes that just as the future of economic reforms lies with the states, the future of consumer and knowledge products lies with small towns. “The challenge for small towns would be overcoming the limitations of urban planning and civic facilities. If these aspects are taken care of, small town will be big for business for long, ” he says.

Das sums it up succinctly: Small town 2. 0 is a crucial part of India 2. 0. 

With inputs from Deepender Deswal in Rohtak, Falguni Banerjee and Vaibhav Ganjapure in Nagpur

Top six cities now contribute a mere 27 per cent of urban consumption;the share of key urban towns or Tier II towns and rest of urban India (Tier III towns) is now 73 per cent Around 50 per cent of high-end TVs are sold outside the metros UFO Moviez, the country’s largest digital theatre chain, has more than 1, 000 screens across India. Of these, 80 per cent are in Tier II and Tier III Towns

Social networking site Bigadda gets roughly 50 per cent of its registered users from non-metro cities. Almost 60 per cent of Bigadda’s page views come from such cities

Gaming arrived rather late in smalltown India. But already gaming portal Zapak’s 40 per cent gameplexes are in non-metros
According to Planning Commission in 2007, the government pledged 29 billion dollars to make Tier II towns economic hubs by 2014 

Source: Ernst & Young’s May 2010 report titled, ‘The new market shehers: Tapping the potential of emerging markets’

http://www.timescrest.com/coverstory/small-towns-big-leap-4186

 

10 Top Extraordinary People in the World

1. Kim Ung-Yong: Attended University at age 4, Ph.D at age 15; world’s highest IQ

Kim-Ung-Yong

This Korean super-genius was born in 1962 and might just be the smartest guy alive today (he’s recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest IQ of anyone on the planet). By the age of four he was already able to read in Japanese, Korean, German, and English. At his fifth birthday, he solved complicated differential and integral calculus problems. Later, on Japanese television, he demonstrated his proficiency in Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, German, English, Japanese, and Korean. Kim was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under “Highest IQ”; the book estimated the boy’s score at over 210.
Kim was a guest student of physics at Hanyang University from the age of 3 until he was 6. At the age of 7 he was invited to America by NASA. He finished his university studies, eventually getting a Ph.D. in physics at Colorado State University before he was 15. In 1974, during his university studies, he began his research work at NASA and continued this work until his return to Korea in 1978 where he decided to switch from physics to civil engineering and eventually received a doctorate in that field. Kim was offered the chance to study at the most prestigious universities in Korea, but instead chose to attend a provincial university. As of 2007 he also serves as adjunct faculty at Chungbuk National University.

2. Gregory Smith: Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize at age 12

Gregory-Smith

Born in 1990, Gregory Smith could read at age two and had enrolled in university at 10. But “genius” is only one half of the Greg Smith story. When not voraciously learning, this young man travels the globe as a peace and children’s rights activist.
He is the founder of International Youth Advocates, an organization that promotes principles of peace and understanding among young people throughout the world. He has met with Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev and spoke in front of the UN. For these and other humanitarian and advocacy efforts, Smith has been nominated four times for a Nobel Peace Prize. His latest achievement? He just got his driver license.

3. Akrit Jaswal: The Seven Year-Old Surgeon

akrit-jaswal

Akrit Jaswal is a young Indian who has been called “the world’s smartest boy” and it’s easy to see why. His IQ is 146 and is considered the smartest person his age in India—a country of more than a billion people.
Akrit came to public attention when in 2000 he performed his first medical procedure at his family home. He was seven. His patient — a local girl who could not afford a doctor — was eight. Her hand had been burnt in a fire, causing her fingers to close into a tight fist that wouldn’t open. Akrit had no formal medical training and no experience of surgery, yet he managed to free her fingers and she was able to use her hand again.
He focused his phenomenal intelligence on medicine and at the age of twelve he claimed to be on the verge of discovering a cure for cancer. He is now studying for a science degree at Chandigarh College and is the youngest student ever accepted by an Indian University.

4. Cleopatra Stratan: a 3 year old singer who earns 1000€ per song

Cleopatra-Stratan

Clepotra was born October 6, 2002 in Chisinau, Moldova and is the daughter of Moldovan-Romanian singer, Pavel Stratan. She is the youngest person ever to score commercial success as a singer, with her 2006 album La vârsta de trei ani (“At the age of 3″). She holds the record for being the youngest artist that performed live for two hours in front of a large audience, the highest paid young artist, the youngest artist to receive an MTV award and the youngest artist to score a #1 hit in a country (“Ghita” in Romanian Singles Chart).

5. Aelita Andre: The 2-year-old artist who showed her paintings in a famous Gallery

Aelita-Andre

The abstract paintings of emerging artist Aelita Andre have people in Australia’s art world talking. Aelita is two (the works were painted when she was even younger).
Aelita got an opportunity to show her paintings when Mark Jamieson, the director of Brunswick Street Gallery in Melbourne’s Fitzroy, was asked by a photographer whose work he represented to consider the work of another artist. Jamieson liked what he saw and agreed to include it in a group show.
Jamieson then started to promote the show, printing glossy invitations and placing ads in the magazines Art Almanac and Art Collector, featuring the abstract work. Only then did he discover a crucial fact about the new artist: Aelita Andre is Kalashnikova’s daughter, and was just 22 months old. Jamieson was shocked and embarrassed but decided to proceed with the exhibition anyways.

6. Saul Aaron Kripke: Invited to apply for a teaching post at Harvard while still in high school

Saul-Aaron-Kripke

A rabbi’s son, Saul Aaron Kripke was born in New York and grew up in Omaha in 1940. By all accounts he was a true prodigy. In the fourth grade he discovered algebra, and by the end of grammar school he had mastered geometry and calculus and taken up philosophy. While still a teenager he wrote a series of papers that eventually transformed the study of modal logic. One of them earned a letter from the math department at Harvard, which hoped he would apply for a job until he wrote back and declined, explaining, “My mother said that I should finish high school and go to college first”. After finishing high school, the college he eventually chose was Harvard.
Kripke was awarded the Schock Prize, philosophy’s equivalent of the Nobel. Nowadays, he is thought to be the world’s greatest living philosopher.

7. Michael Kevin Kearney: earned his first degree at age 10 and became a reality show Millionaire

24 year-old Michael Kearney became known as the world’s youngest college graduate at the age of 10. In 2008, Kearney earned $1,000,000 on the television game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Kearny was born in 1984 and is was known for setting several world records and teaching college at the age of 17.
He spoke his first words at four months. At the age of six months, he said to his pediatrician “I have a left ear infection” and learned to read at the age of ten months. When Michael was four, he was given diagnostic tests for the Johns Hopkins precocious math program and achieved a perfect score. He finished high school at age 6, enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College graduating at 10 with an Associate of Science in Geology. He is listed in the Guinness Book as the world’s youngest university graduate at the age of 10, receiving a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. For a while, he also held the record for the world’s youngest postgraduate.
But in 2006, he became worldwide famous after reaching the finals on the Mark Burnett/AOL quiz/puzzle game Gold Rush, and became the first $1 million winner in the online reality game.

8. Fabiano Luigi Caruana: a chess prodigy who became the youngest Grandmaster at age 14

Fabiano-Luigi-Caruana

Fabulous Fabiano is a 16-year-old chess Grandmaster and chess prodigy with dual citizenship of Italy and the United States.

On 2007 Caruana became a Grandmaster at the age of 14 years, 11 months, 20 days – the youngest Grandmaster in the history of both Italy and the United States. In the April 2009 FIDE list, he has an Elo rating of 2649, making him the world’s highest ranked player under the age of 18.

9. Willie Mosconi: played professional Billiards at age 6

Willie-Mosconi

William Joseph Mosconi, nicknamed “Mr. Pocket Billiards” was a American professional pocket billiards (pool) player from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Willie’s father owned a pool hall where he wasn’t allowed to play, but Willie improvised by practicing with small potatoes from his mother’s kitchen and an old broomstick. His father soon realized that his son was a child prodigy began advertising challenge matches, and though Willie had to stand on a box in order to reach the table, he beat experienced players many years his senior.
In 1919, an exhibition match was arranged between six-year old Willie and the reigning World Champion, Ralph Greenleaf. The hall was packed, and though Greenleaf won that match, Willie played very well launching his career in professional billiards. In 1924, at the tender age of eleven, Willie was the juvenile straight pool champion and was regularly holding trick shot exhibitions.
Between the years of 1941 and 1957, he won the BCA World Championship of pool an unmatched fifteen times. Mosconi pioneered and employed numerous trick shots, set many records, and helped to popularize the game of billiards. He still holds the officially recognized straight pool high run record of 526 consecutive balls.

10. Elaina Smith: youngest agony aunt aged 7

Elaina-Smith

Her local radio station gave her the job after she rang and offered advice to a woman caller who had been dumped. Elaina’s tip — go bowling with pals and drink a mug of milk — was so good she got a weekly slot and now advises thousands of adult listeners. The littler adviser tackles problems ranging from how to dump boyfriends and how to cope with relationship breakdown to dealing with smelly brothers.
When one listener wrote to Elaina asking how to get a man, she replied: “Shake your booty on the dance floor and listen to High School Musical”. Another caller asked how to get her man back, Elaina told her: “He’s not worth the heartache. Life’s too short to be upset with a boy.”

10 Truly Inspirational Quotes – Which Will Motivate You To Greatness

10 Truly Inspirational Quotes – Which Will Motivate You To Greatness
  1. Every man dies. Not every man really lives – William Wallace (Guardian of Scotland)
  2. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face – Eleanor Roosevelt
  3. We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  4. I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right. – Albert Einstein
  5. Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity – Albert Einstein
  6. Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter – Mark Twain
  7. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover – Mark Twain
  8. If you’re going through hell, keep going – Winston Churchill
  9. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right – Henry Ford

       10.  Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong – Corinthians 16:13

Two girls blown up by callous Taliban saved by hero !

TWO little Afghan girls horrifically injured by a Taliban bomb have been saved by the determination and skill of a group of caring British soldiers and medics. Three-year-old Kamila and pal Wasila, six, nearly died after accidentally triggering an improvised explosive device (IED) as they played outside their home in Musa Qala, Helmand Province.Kamila took the brunt of the blast, suffering severe head injuries, while Wasila’s stomach was ripped open by molten shrapnel causing liver damage.Kamila’s horrified father was on the scene in seconds and scooped up the girls and took them to Musa Qala District Centre, certain that coalition troops there would help. But the injuries were so severe that they alerted a four-man British Medical Emergency Response Team, staffed by doctors and nurses, which raced to help in a Chinook chopper.The girls were then flown to a hospital at Kandahar Airbase.Kamila was placed in an intensive care unit where doctors feared the worst. The blast had paralysed her on her entire left side and brain damage left her unable to express emotion.But the tender care of a British neurosurgeon, who had volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, along with his Canadian and American colleagues changed that.After weeks of treatment Kamila and Wasila recovered. Doctors were even able to help Kamila show her emotions again – and she got back her cheeky grin.

Dog saves 11-year-old B.C. boy from cougar attack!

Angel -The Golden Retriever

A golden retriever fended off a potentially deadly cougar attack when the animal began approaching a boy in a small town in British Columbia.On Sunday, as the dog recovered from a vicious fight with the cougar, Austin Forman, 11, recounted his dog’s bravery.Forman said that he was collecting firewood in his family’s backyard in the community of Boston Bar, about 200 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, when he spotted the cougar in the woods nearby.”I was really scared,” he said. “At first I didn’t know that it was a cougar … But as soon as it went under the light, I saw that it was a cougar and I knew at that moment that I had to go inside.”The cougar then lunged at the young boy, but the dog, named Angel, leapt to protect her master.”The dog obviously knew something was up because she ran towards me at just the right time and the cougar ended up getting her instead,” said Austin.Angel and the cougar fought in the family’s yard, with the cougar clenching the dog’s head in its jaws.When Mother Sherri Forman heard the dog whining and making unusual noises, she knew something was up.”We knew that cougar was killing our dog,” she said, adding that the family quickly called 911 for help.In less than a minute, RCMP Const. Chad Gravelle arrived to scene and found the dog locked in a vicious struggle.”I could see that the cougar had the dog in its mouth, like around the dog’s mouth,” he said.Gravelle then fired a round at the cougar’s hindquarters and scored a direct hit, killing the wild animal.Jay Forman, Austin’s Dad, described the dog as a smart puppy that is only 18 months old.”She’s very smart — just incredible,” he said. “She’s still a pup. It is truly amazing that she jumped in front of that cat to save the boy’s life.”Meanwhile, the dog is recovering and is expected to pull through after a visit with a vet on Monday. Date: Sun. Jan. 3 2010 11:02 PM ET

Man who survived two atomic bombs dies aged 93!

Tsutomu Yamaguchi

He was an impassioned and articulate man, a respected teacher, beloved father and grandfather — but none of these explain the unique distinction of Tsutomu Yamaguchi (left), who has died in Nagasaki aged 93.He was the victim of a fate so callous that it almost raises a smile: he was one of a small number of people to fall victim to both atomic bombs dropped on Japan.On August 6, 1945, he was about to leave the city of Hiroshima, where he had been working, when the first bomb exploded, killing 140,000 people. Injured, he fled to his home — Nagasaki, 180 miles to the west. There, on August 9, the second bomb exploded.”I think it is a miracle,” he said on the 60th anniversary of the bombings in 2005. “But having been granted this miracle it is my responsibility to pass on the truth to the world.”In 1945, he was 29 and working for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. His three-month secondment to a shipyard in Hiroshima was due to end on August 6, when the American B29 bomber ‘Enola Gay’ dropped a 13-kilotonne uranium atomic bomb.He and two colleagues staggered through the ruins where the dead and dying lay all around. They reached the station and boarded the train for Nagasaki. Reporting to work at the shipyard on August 9, his story of a single bomb destroying an entire city was met with incredulity.Then the second bomb landed. The next thing he remembered was waking to hear cheering at the broadcast by Emperor Hirohito announcing Japan’s surrender.

Girl survived tribe’s custom of live baby burial!

Hakani

(Pic on the left) Hakani, who lived in the forest for three years after being abandoned, aged two, by her tribe. She was adopted by Marcia and Edson Suzuki

Babies born into some Indian tribes in the Amazon are being buried alive, a practice that is being covered up by the Brazilian authorities out of respect for tribal culture.The tradition is based on beliefs that babies with any sort of physical defect have no souls and that others, such as twins or triplets, are also “cursed”.Infanticide has claimed the lives of dozens of babies each year, say campaigners fighting to end the practice.Babies who are girls, who have some disability or who have unmarried mothers are all in danger of an early death in a shallow grave in the rainforest. Others are suffocated with leaves, poisoned or simply abandoned in the jungle.According to Dr Marcos Pelegrini, a doctor working in the Yanomami Tribe Health Care District, 98 children were killed by their mothers in 2004 alone.Campaigners say that the true figure is obscured by officials who often record cases of infanticide as simple malnutrition. At the same time, family anguish over infanticide has led to many adult tribal members committing suicide.Attempts to change tribal attitudes and counter official indifference are being led by a Brazilian couple, Marcia and Edson Suzuki. They have worked with one tribe, the Suruwaha, for 20 years.Mr Suzuki, the founder of a campaign group called Atini – Voice for Life – said: “We are fighting against doctors and anthropologists who say we must not interfere with the culture of the people.”Such attitudes are exemplified by Dr Erwin Frank, an anthropology professor at the Federal University of Roraima State in the Amazon. Speaking of the tribes, he said: “This is their way of life and we should not judge them on the basis of our values. The difference between the cultures should be respected.”Like other tribes, the Suruwahá considers that if a child has any deformity or disability, it does not have a soul and so – as an animal – should be killed.Some tribes also believe it is a curse to give birth to more than one baby at a time. In the Suruwahá tribe, a pregnant girl will walk into the jungle by herself to give birth.She then cuts the baby’s umbilical cord, buries the placenta and returns to the village with her child.Sometimes the woman will simply leave the child in the jungle to die if it is a girl or if she is not married.The Suzukis recounted the harrowing story of one girl, Hakani, who they saved from death and adopted.Born in 1995, Hakani – which means Smile – was still unable to walk or talk by the age of two, prompting tribal leaders to conclude she had no soul and to order her parents to kill her.They committed suicide – eating a poison root – rather than obey the order. Hakani’s 15-year-old brother was then told he had to kill her. He dug a hole to bury her next to the village hut, which is where the tribe usually buries animals, and hit her over the head with a machete to knock her out.However, she woke up as she was being placed in the hole and the boy found he could not go through with the killing. Hakani’s grandfather then shot her with an arrow. He was so upset he tried to commit suicide, too.But Hakani survived, although her wound became infected and she was left to live like an animal in the forest for three years.At the age of five she was very undersized, still unable to walk and abused by other Indians. She survived only because a brother smuggled food to her.The Suzukis begged Funasa, the Brazilian government’s health department, to let them take Hakani out of the tribe to get medical help.”Funasa could not help because their official view is to respect the culture of the people and let the children die. If we took Hakani out we could be sued,” said Mrs Suzuki.Warned that they could be responsible for the child’s death, Funasa eventually relented. Under the Suzukis’ care, Hakani was walking and talking within a year. While she suffers from hypothryoidism – an underactivity of the thryroid gland which affects brain development – she is able to attend a mainstream school.Brazilian politicians are currently debating a Bill to outlaw infanticide. It is known as Muwaji’s Law, named after a Suruwahá woman who refused to bury alive her own baby.

Dr. Reddy’s wonder drug for diabetes!

Dr Reddy's

 Dr. Reddy’s labs (DRL) has been working hard on its vision to move beyond Generic.Balaglitazone is result of this vision.Positive test results indicate a move in the right direction.If things fall in place DRL is looking at a revenue stream of 2 – 3 billion in the 1st 5 years of launch.Currently the Anti Diabetic market is stagnated with old molecules.  Patients have to some extent become immune or respond less to the current drugs on offer a new drug us always welcomed.

Burj Khalifa tower-The tallest building in the world

Burj Khalifa tower

The tallest building in the world has opened in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on 3rd Jan 2010.  But the 828-meter tower formerly known as the Burj Dubai has been renamed the Burj Khalifa, to honor the leader of neighboring Abu Dhabi, who gave Dubai $10 billion last month to help repay its debts.

Not only does the Burj Khalifa have more usable floors than any other skyscraper ever built, but it also has the world’s highest observation deck on the 124th floor and the highest swimming pool on the 76th.

The building is so tall that it is ten degrees Celsius cooler at the top than at the base.

Villagers build own railway station!

For 25 years, residents of Tajnagar village near Gurgaon lobbied for a railway station in their village. When their demand was not met, the  villagers decided to take matters in their own hands — they pooled in Rs 21 lakh and built a railway station on their own.

On Tuesday 5th Jan 2009 , the result of their efforts — perhaps the first railway station in the country on which the Railways didn’t have to spend a single penny — will start operations.

 “We have hired a vehicle to spread the message that the station is getting functional. It’s no less than a festival for us and we are organizing a puja at the station. All passengers will get prasad,” said an elated villager, adding that the station will benefit people from other villagers as well.

 It all started about two years back, when the panchayat passed a resolution saying that since the Railways was not able to build a station for them, they would do it themselves. And with their own money. Soon, an 11-member ‘gram seva samiti’ was constituted and it started collecting money from villagers.

 “Most of the 3,000-plus people living in the village are agriculturists. But such was the burning desire to have a station in the village, everybody contributed according to their capacity. Ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 75,000 they donated money for the station and we started construction in January, 2008,” said Ranjeet Singh, former village sarpanch.

“There are a large number of people in the village who need to go to Gurgaon, Delhi and Rewari. There are students who go to colleges. Till now we had to either go to Hailimandi or Patli to catch a train. Both stations are 6km away from Tajnagar. We thought that when the railway line passes through the village, we should have a station here. We have been raising the demand since 1982, but the Railways told us that they do not have funds. So, finally we decided to craft our own destiny,” said Hukum Chand, a member of the committee.

 The villagers then asked the Railways if it would agree to stop a few trains at the station if they constructed a station with their own resources. To their surprise, the Railways agreed to make seven passenger trains (in both directions) halt at the station if it was built according to its specifications.

 “The Railways decided to make it a halt station because a number of people would benefit from it. Financially too, the idea looked viable,” said Anant Swaroop, Northern Railways spokesperson. He added that a station master and ticket collector had been appointed.

 The station, which took one year for completion, has two platforms. It has a kachcha platform, water and electricity, and a ticket counter. It would be inaugurated by Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjeet Singh. Villagers said as a skeleton station was ready now, they need the Railways’ help to make a concrete platform, a waiting room and an overhead shed.