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    With less than a week to go for Christmas day, workers are busy giving finishing touches to the Christmas decorations inside St Mark’s Cathedral. They are tying sprigs of poinsettia to each pew and hanging the last holly garlands (plastic, alas). The tree, a new fibre-optic one donated by a member of the congregation, is up and laden with ornaments, as is the crib in the Nativity scene. “The decoration begins on the first Sunday in Advent [the four weeks leading up to Christmas], and we keep adding to it,” says Anjana Samuel, convener of the music and programme committee.

    The decorations are but one part of the Christmas festivities at St Mark’s, one of the oldest churches in Bangalore. Situated in the heart of the city, the cathedral was built in 1808 as a place of worship for the soldiers and officers of the British army stationed in Bangalore Cantonment. At that time, it was a plain structure. A chronology of the cathedral’s history says it was called “one of the ugliest buildings ever erected. With its yellow-washed walls and low roof it resembles nothing so much as a Bryant and May’s Match Box!”

    The yellow-washed walls remain but there is nothing remotely ugly about the cathedral now. A dome was added a few years after it opened, and when the interiors were redone after a disastrous fire in 1923, St Mark’s got a pulpit and font made in Genoa, Italy, beautiful stained glass windows, and a cross and candlesticks from Oxford, among other things.

    The imposing pipe organ was a gift to the cathedral from the parents of the famous English cricketer Colin Cowdrey in 1928. Bought for Rs 33,000 then, it is now worth Rs 10 crore, says senior organist

    E D George, adding that Rs 2-3 lakh is spent annually on its maintenance. The organ, made of Burma teak, has 1,000 pipes made in England and is one of the few of its kind in the country, says George, a former music teacher at Bishop Cotton’s School.

    Christmas celebrations at St Mark’s, says its pastor Reverend Daniel Ravikumar, begin from the first Sunday in Advent, with special sermons. On the first Sunday, an ecumenical service is held, to which members of other denominations are invited. At this year’s service, nine choirs from other churches took part. During Advent, church members also visit the poor and distribute food and clothing, a custom started in 1961 by the late Harry Daniels, the first Indian priest at St Mark’s. Special Christmas programmes by Sunday School children and senior citizens are also held.

    All this culminates in the Christmas Eve service close to midnight on the 24th and, of course, the service on Christmas Day. These, along with Easter, are the best-attended services every year, with the cathedral putting up shamianas outside for the spillover. There are “festival Christians” who come just for these services, says Ravikumar wryly. The 1,500-family-strong congregation, he adds, has been growing, perhaps because of the influx into the city.

    One of the most awaited events on the St Mark’s Christmas calendar is the special carol service, on the fourth Sunday in Advent. The one-hour service is followed by a parish dinner on the church grounds, with a bonfire to fight the winter chill. This year’s dinner saw three Santas arriving in a horse-drawn carriage, says Samuel, the convenor of the programme. “Each year we have a different theme and this time it was Hawaiian Christmas,” she says. Samuel is also a member of the 35-member choir, which begins practice for Christmas three months in advance. Apart from the carol service, the choir also goes on carol rounds to the houses of church members, for at least two nights. Typically, the group starts out at 7.30 pm and returns only by 8.30 the following morning!

    All this makes for a packed schedule for active members of the congregation, like Samuel. But Christmas remains her favourite time of the year. “We are able to touch the lives of many people and it holds a lot of meaning for me,” she says. It is, after all, the season for peace on earth and goodwill to mankind.

    source: / Home> Life & Leisure / by Indulekha Aravind / December 25th, 2011

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    December 25th, 2011adminArts, Culture & Entertainment, Records, All

    Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and Karnataka Photo News (KPN) Editor Saggere Ramaswamy presenting the T.S. Satyan Memorial Lifetime Achievement award to Yagneshwara Acharya of Manga-lore at a function held at the Banquet Hall of Raj Bhavan here yesterday as renowned journalist T.J.S. George looks on. Picture right shows Nethra Raju of Mysore receiving the Best Professional Photography award from the Governor.

    Bangalore, Dec. 19 (OSR):

    The T.S. Satyan memorial awards for photojournalism was presented to six distinguished photographers by Governor H.R. Bhardwaj at the Banquet Hall of Raj Bhavan here yesterday.

    The award, named after late Tambrahalli Subramanya Satyanarayana Iyer (T.S. Satyan) — a Mysorean, who is considered the country’s foremost and one of the first photojournalists — is instituted by Karnataka Photo News (KPN) and

    The awards were presented on the 88th birthday of Satyan, which incidentally is the eighth anniversary of KPN.

    T.S. Satyan Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Yagneshwara Acharya ‘Yagna’ of Mangalore. The award comprised a cash prize of Rs. 10,000, a certificate and a plaque.

    Speaking on the occasion, Bhardwaj said that journalists must never give in to any kind of pressure and must be unbiased while reporting news. “I may not be the right person to say this, but journalism and journalists have to always ensure they do not bow to pressures,” he said.

    Quoting poet John Keats, Bhardwaj said, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever. I always enjoy good reports and articles in the newspapers. I do not believe that Governors must not freely speak to the media. I am keen to speak on various social issues.”

    He further said that the doors of the Raj Bhavan will always be open for the honourable citizens and added, “the Raj Bhavan belongs to you. I am just a traveller.”

    Renowned journalist T.J.S. George, speaking as a guest of honour, remembered Satyan for his professional, clean and direct journalism, the qualities which he said, were lacking today.

    Editor of Prajavani Kannada newspaper K.N. Shantha Kumar, addressing the gathering, said that the legendary photographer T.S. Satyan still held a great deal of influence on the works of present day photographers. “Satyan’s works were a mixture of art and journalism and I feel photojournalism is the combination of the art in photography and discipline of journalism,” he said.

    “Technology has made it near impossible for any photographer to capture what can be called a ‘bad’ photograph but the basics of photography remain unchanged despite technological advancements,” he added.

    The other awardees are: Best Newspaper Photography – K. Gopinathan (Bangalore), Best Professional Photography – Nethra Raju (Mysore), Best Magazine Photography – Bhanu Prakash Chandra (Bangalore), Best Freelance Photography – Regret Iyer (Bangalore) and Best Online Photography: M S Gopal.

    These awards consisted of a cash prize of Rs. 5,000 each, a certificate and plaque.

    source: / General News / December 19th, 2011

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    June 9th, 2011adminBusiness & Economy, World Opinion

    US President Barack Obama has exhorted American students to toil harder at school, and has told them that their success would determine the country’s leadership in a world where children in Bangalore and Beijing were raring to race ahead.

    Obama has repeatedly said that American schools would have to ensure that they continue producing leagues of top professionals, so that the American hegemony in human resource continues in this century.

    “At a time when other countries are competing with us like never before, when students around the world in Beijing, China, or Bangalore, India, are working harder than ever, and doing better than ever, your success in school is not just going to determine your success, it’s going to determine America’s success in the 21st century,” Obama said. “The farther you go in school, the farther you’re going to go in life,” he told students at a school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    Last year, while announcing an end of tax incentives to US companies which created jobs overseas, Obama had launched the ‘Say no to Bangalore and yes to Buffalo,’ slogan. Since then, he has time and again brought up the competition presented by developing countries like China and India while asking Americans to rise to the challenge to keep the American supremacy alive.

    “You’ve got an obligation to yourselves, and America has an obligation to you, to make sure you’re getting the best education possible,” Obama said in his latest remarks.

    He said preparing the students for success in classroom, college, and career would also require an enormous collective effort from teachers, principals as well as the administration.

    Asking students to work harder than everybody else and seek out new challenges, he said his call was directed at all Americans alike. “… I’m not just speaking to all of you, I’m speaking to kids all across the country.”


    source: / By Agencies / Published Thursday, September 16th, 2010

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    June 9th, 2011adminBusiness & Economy, World Opinion

    By several estimates, between 50,000 and 60,000 IT professionals have returned to India from overseas since 2003.

    Residents of the South Indian city of Bangalore, once an orderly enclave of colonial-era buildings and well tended gardens, have started wearing earplugs to dampen noise from the maelstrom on their chaotic streets. It is the noise of growth boosted in part by the return of many of India’s technologists whose departure to the West was once bemoaned as brain drain.

    Call centres, software and engineering companies and some of the world’s most advanced research centres prosper on the capital – both human and monetary – of Indian emigres recently returned from abroad with foreign passports, foreign bank accounts and families sometimes more Western than Indian.

    Bangalore’s frenzy is emblematic of the reverse brain drain – or reverse diaspora – that helped propel India onto the world stage in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. While Indians still go abroad to work and study – there are a record 80,000 Asian Indian students now enrolled in US universities – a new class of Indian expatriates, fluent in the ways of the West, energises India. By several estimates, between 50,000 and 60,000 information-technology professionals alone have returned to India from overseas since 2003, most to the suburbs of New Delhi, Hyderabad and especially Bangalore, the nexus of what Indians call their “brain gain”.

    At Bangalore’s new international airport, packed airliners arrive from London, Paris, Frankfurt and Singapore bearing Indians with degrees from the world’s top universities and plans to reconnect to Mother India. Some were recruited at job fairs in cities across the US, home to 2.32 million people of Indian origin. And most say they return to India for attractive pay packages that offer a comfortable standard of living comparable with life in the US along with greater opportunities of advancement. Others want to be closer to aging parents.

    But Bangalore, home to more than 1,000 IT firms and 10,000 US dollar-millionaires, may price itself out of the market. While India’s technology and outsourced-services industries continue to boom, earning an expected $52 billion (Dh191bn) in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, wage inflation in Bangalore runs at up to 50 per cent a year, making it only marginally less expensive for sophisticated tech work than doing business in California.

    As a result, some global brand names shifted operations to cheaper Indian cities such as Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad, where the costs of doing business are as much as 30 per cent less. A few companies are looking beyond India altogether, betting on lower-wage countries such as Vietnam and the the Philippines. If Bangalore is losing some of its lustre, it still remains the world’s fourth largest technology hub and claims to have the fastest-growing wealth base in the Asia-Pacific basin. And for many Americans, this means Bangalore is both a threat and opportunity: a threat because it now boasts at least 160,000 technology workers compared with about 175,000 in Silicon Valley. Moreover, much of this talent, especially at the middle and top levels, has been transplanted from the San Francisco Bay area to India.

    Bangalore also represents an opportunity for US companies to tap into India’s prodigious brainpower and entrepreneurial spirit. From Bangalore, Americans and citizens of other developed countries are having their tax returns prepared, CAT scans and MRIs read, mortgages analysed, lawsuits researched, airline reservations confirmed and computer glitches unsnarled – thanks to broadband connections that make the city as close as the shop next door.

    As Bangalore moves further up the technology ladder, it has ambitions to challenge places such as Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle at Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, as a world centre for innovation. Microsoft plans to spend $1.7m in India over the next several years and has opened a research centre there. IBM, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Intel and Hewlett-Packard also have campuses and research centres in Bangalore.

    The corporate headquarters of Infosys Technologies, India’s second-largest outsourcing firm, is tucked away in a section of Bangalore called Electronics City. The view inside the Infosys campus is buoyant with double-digit profit margins, revenues in billions of dollars, and plans to hire thousands of employees worldwide over the next few years.

    Typical of those young Indians moving Infosys into the top ranks of global companies is Smita Agrawal, a savvy marketing manager who has worked in Tokyo, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Little Rock, Arkansas. Preferring Western business attire to saris, she nevertheless finds India to her liking. “After-office hours is where you lose out in the US,” she says. “There’s a cultural gap in America and you just don’t have the face-to-face interaction with Americans that we have here in India.” Confessing that, “Bangalore and its messiness take some getting use to,” Agrawal nevertheless sees India as a place to enhance her career.

    Peers at companies from Yahoo! to start-ups that only the digital cognoscenti would recognise, agree that being part of the reverse diaspora has its satisfactions, both professional and cultural. In Bangalore and other major Indian cities, there’s no shortage of luxury shopping malls and housing developments to lure home expatriates. At Palm Meadows, one of the gated communities in Bangalore where the computer-savvy elite live, it would be hard to find an Indian passport holder, aside from maids and gardeners because most residents are citizens of the US and the UK, or dual nationals.

    Ajay Kela, COO of software development fim Symphony Services, looks around his neighbourhood of four-bedroom Spanish-style villas and says he made his decision in a day to pull up roots in Foster City, California, and return to India. “India is an efficient location for software design and besides, the middle-class is exploding here.” But the move back to India hasn’t been problem-free, with grinding commutes over potholed roads, a yawning gap between educated and poor, and a mind-numbing conformity that inhibits the creative outside-of-the-box thinking associated with Palo Alto or Raleigh-Durham. “There is raw talent in India,” says Sridhar Ranganathan, a former Yahoo! executive and MD of Blue Vector India in Bangalore. “But how to polish that talent is India’s dilemma and my challenge.”


    source: / by New York Times Syndicate / Published Thursday, December 25th, 2008

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