Monday, June 30, 2008

PG Diploma in Environmental Management

PG Diploma in Environmental Management

Directorate of Distance Education, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, has invited applications for Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Management (PGDEM) course.

Eligibility: Bachelors Degree in any discipline.

How To Apply: The Prospectus can be obtained from the Directorate of Distance Education, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, on cash payment of Rs 400 (Rs 100 for SC/BC of Haryana). These can also be obtained by sending DD of Rs 450 (Rs 150 in case of SC/BC of Haryana) favouring Registrar, GJUS and T, Hisar. The students can submit their admission form either directly to the Directorate of Distance Education or through the Study Centres, the list of which h is available on University website.

Closing Date: October 31, 2008 For More information contact Directorate of Distance Education (DDE), Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Haryana. Ph: 01662263158, 263141, 263135, 263157. Email:


MA in Tribal Studies

MA in Tribal Studies

North Orissa University has invited applications for the course MA in Tribal Studies.

Eligibility: Graduate in any discipline How To Apply: Request for application form, by post, can be sent to The Chairman, PG Council, North Orissa University, Takatpur, Baripada -757003 and Orissa. The cost of application form and prospectus is Rs 200 by hand and Rs 250 by post. The application form can also be downloaded from the University Website and be submitted to the University with a Bank Draft of Rs 200. All amounts should be paid through Bank Draft in favour of Comptroller of Finance, North Orissa University, payable at any Nationalised Bank at Baripada. A self addressed A-4 size envelope should be submitted for the purpose.

Completed application forms may be submitted directly in the office of the Chairman, PG Council, North Orissa University, Baripada by hand or by registered post/speed post.

Closing Date: July 29, 2008 To know more details about this course, contact North Orissa University, Sriram Chandra Vihar, Takatpur, Baripada Mayurbhanj, Orissa.

Ph: 06792-255127 /278275 /256906 Website:

Masters in Occupational Therapy

Masters in Occupational Therapy

All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AIIPMR), affiliated to Maharashtra University of Health Sciences has invited applications for Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) course.

Eligibility: Candidates who have passed Bachelor Degree in Physical Therapy or Bachelor Degree in Occupational Therapy with completion of compulsory six months Internship on or before July 31, 2008 from the University outside Maharashtra State Reservation: As per Prevailing Provisions at Government of India Institutes and as amended from time to time.

How To Apply: Application forms can be obtained between 9.00 am to 1 pm Monday to Friday from the Academic Section of the Institute against Demand Draft of Rs 100.

If required by the Registered post; enclose Demand Draft of Rs 100 and self addressed envelop of size 23 cm x 11.5 cm fixing postage stamp of Rs 32, super scribed as “Application: BPO or MOTh / MPTh or M Sc (P&O) of course – 2008 - 2009.

Forms can also be downloaded from the institute website and forwarded to Institute along with Demand Draft of Rs 100. Demand Draft to be drawn in favour of “Director, All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mumbai–34” Payable at Mumbai.

For more details, contact All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Haji Ali, K Khadye Marg, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, Maharashtra. Ph: 91-22-24964331/ 32/ 40/ 41, 91-22-24935035. Email:, Website:

Last Date: 30-06-2008

Career opportunities in Genetic Engineering

Career opportunities in Genetic Engineering
Monday June 23 2008 16:47 IST Kalavathi Amarachelvam for EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

I am a BE (ECE) student from Chennai. I am interested in studying Nanotechnology course and wanted to pursue a career in nanotechnology. Please help me with the name and details of training centres in Chennai. —Ramesh, Chennai

Nanotechnology, which is at a nascent stage now, has created a lot of ripples in the recent years. This is one of the most exciting research areas at present, which may lead to many great scientific and technological advances.

According to Nasscom, the worldwide need for Nanotechnology workers is expected to reach two million by 2015. Since you want to pursue a career in this field, you must be aware that you could get into the actual course on Nanotechnology only in your PG. So, you are on the right track with your BE degree. Anna University offers M Tech in Nanotechnology from this year. IIT, Chennai also offers course in Nanotechnology. Aappin Knowledge Solutions has a center in Chennai which offers certificate course in Nanotechnology through e-learning.

I have just completed my 12th standard and I would like to take up B Tech Biotechnology for higher studies. What course should I take up later to become a Genetic Engineer? What are the career prospects of genetic engineering and which are the institutes offering this course? What exactly does genetic engineering comprise of ? What will be the starting salary in the field?


Genetic Engineering means the deliberate modification of the characters of an organism by the manipulation of its genetic material.

Genetic Engineering (GE) is a highly complicated and advanced branch of science which involves a wide range of techniques used in changing the genetic material in the DNA code in a living organism. Genetic engineering comes under the broad heading of Biotechnology There is a great scope in .

this field as the demand for genetic engineers are growing in India as well as abroad.

In certain developed countries, there are openings for genetic counselors, but in India the concept of genetic counseling is not so widely known and most of the genetic counseling where necessary is being done by medical doctors themselves.

Genetics, like other fields of Biotechnology, is a field where you can’t expect a job immediately after your graduation or even at the PG level. So if you are prepared for long years of academic pursuit, have high analytical and mathematical skills and have a lot of patience and commitment to do prolonged research work, then this can be the career for you.

Some of the universities which offer genetic Engineering courses at postgraduate and doctorate levels are the Bio-Informatics Centre of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) New Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur and Delhi), Delhi University, University of Calcutta, MKUCoimbatore, Birla Institute of Technology (Pilani Rajasthan), University of Lucknow, Jadavpur University (Kolkata, West Bengal) etc.

As regards the salary at the entry level you may get anywhere between Rs 8000 to 20,000. But once you have gathered experience you will be much sought after.

PG Programme in Management

PG Programme in Management
Monday June 23 2008 16:47 IST

SMOT, the academy for management and business education has SMOT has announced admissions for its 16 month PGPM, a regular course starting in Sep 2008. Graduate students with a good track record are eligible to apply. The nationwide entrance test and interview will be held on 5, July Aspiring students can register for the test online at

SMOT offers PGPM in Management Consulting Practice leading to highly rewarding careers in Finance, Marketing, HR and IT. Specialisations offered at SMOT are unique as students prepare themselves for a specific career in their chosen area.

SMOT, the academy for management and business education, is sending a delegation of six highly acclaimed professors to Canada on a six day industry visit. Scheduled to happen between June 13th and 20th, the delegation will visit some of the top companies, and consulting firms. The delegation is also scheduled to interact with the officials of some of the business schools for exchange of faculty and students. Research in Motion (RIM), headquartered in Toronto, is partnering with SMOT in offering BlackBerry Solutions to the students of SMOT. The delegation will also meet Canadian Association of Management Consultants, SMOT’s professional partners.

SMOT offers a wide range of in demand career tracks relevant to industries such as IT, Manufacturing, Services, Healthcare and Retail. The major focus in this program will be specialisation in career verticals. Many companies have already booked slots for campus placement program and the current students are expected to close the year with an impressive average CTC.

The teaching faculty consists of a good mix of professors from some of the top universities in the US and Canada, professors from well known business schools in India (Including IIMs), leaders in the industry with a passion to teach, private consulting professionals and our own permanent faculty .

Visit or mail for more information.

Advanced Diploma in Software Testing

Advanced Diploma in Software Testing
Monday June 23 2008 16:47 IST

The Chennai-based Softsmith Infotech, a software services provider, specialising in independent third party testing and quality assurance services, has launched an advanced diploma programme in Software Testing.

The diploma programme encompasses a rigorous course work in the areas of functionality testing, automation testing using software such as Win-runner, Load runner, Test director, QTP and Rational Robot with multiple real time projects that would give a hands-on-experience in executing testing in real time situations.

The duration of the programme is for one year and the course fee is Rs 79,000.

The admission to the ADST programme is only through written test in aptitude and English. Students who have completed BE / MCA / M Tech are eligible for the programme.

For registrations and enquiries Call 2433 3312 / 99406 72338 / or walk into the office at # 170, Sundaram Complex, 2nd Floor, Usman Road (Near Siva Vishnu Temple), T Nagar, Chennai - 17.

Night hours for workers

Night hours for workers

Monday 30 Jun, 2008 for 7DAYS

Contractors are planning additional working hours to compensate for time lost during the midday breaks which starts from tomorrow. An official from the UAE Contractors Association said that companies might opt for extra work hours to finish the projects on time.

“Night schedules are much better than the morning hours because of the heat. Contractors, like others, are concerned about the health of the workers and it is a good move by the Ministry of Labour to have midday break,” said Dr Imad Al Jamal, vice-chairman of the technical committee of the UAE contractors Association.

Earlier this month, Ministry of Labour announced hat construction workers will get a break from 12.30pm to 3pm from July 1. The break period will continue till August 31.

Article printed from 7DAYS General and Local News | Dubai Abu Dhabi | UAE:

URL to article:

Weather warning

Weather warning
Monday 30 Jun, 2008 By Paul McLennan for 7DAYS

Freak weather could endanger the lives of anyone swimming in the sea or trekking in the desert, Dubai Police have warned. Colonel Mohamed Jasim Al Zaabi, director of the Ports Police Station, issued a “cautionary advisory” informing residents and visitors about potential weather changes. He urged people to be careful when going to the beach or visiting the desert or hilly areas.

Al Zaabi also warned people not to swim at night when the sea becomes rougher. The colonel advised people not to go to remote, unsupervised beaches, which may have hidden dangers such as strong currents or whirlpools. Weather conditions are expected to change constantly over the coming days, meaning anyone going sailing should first inform the operations room at Dubai Police.
“This will make it easier for the police to find them in case of any accident,” Al Zaabi said.

Meanwhile, residents thinking of taking a summer holiday away from Dubai are being urged to secure their homes to prevent a possible burglary. Police officers will step-up their presence “to enhance the feeling of safety and security during absence of the public, and to prevent crimes before they happen by decreasing the chances of burglaries”.

Lientenant Colonel Jamal Al Jallaf, director of Criminal Surveillance Department, said the Criminal Investigation Department, has prepared an intensive security plan for the summer and will deploy more officers in markets and residential areas during this time. He urged the public to call Dubai Police’s operation room or the nearest police station with any “security observations”.

Article printed from 7DAYS General and Local News | Dubai Abu Dhabi | UAE:

Giant Saudi field is key to boosting oil output

Giant Saudi field is key to boosting oil output
(AP)30 June 2008

KHURAIS OIL FIELD, Saudi Arabia - This massive oil field surrounded by the desolate sands of Saudi Arabia's vast eastern desert feels like the middle of nowhere.

But what happens over the next year at Khurais, one of Saudi Arabia's last undeveloped giant oil fields, could hold the key to what drivers will pay at the pump for years to come.

Under way at Khurais and two other smaller fields nearby is what Saudi Arabia calls the single largest expansion of oil production capacity in history.

With consumers howling over record fuel prices and the United States pushing Saudi Arabia to produce more oil, this patch of sand 100 miles west of the Saudi capital of Riyadh has become one of the most important places in the world economy.

Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company, Aramco, is spending $10 billion to build the infrastructure to pump 1.2 million barrels of oil per day by next June from the Khurais field and its two smaller neighbors. That alone would be more than the total individual production of OPEC members Qatar, Indonesia and Ecuador.

The project forms the centerpiece of the Saudi plan to increase the total amount of oil it can produce to 12.5 million barrels per day by the end of 2009 — up from a little more than 11 million barrels per day now.

Consuming nations have pushed Saudi Arabia to boost production capacity even further and also want the world's top oil exporter to begin pumping more crude immediately to bring down record oil prices hovering near $140 a barrel. They say oil production has not kept up with increased demand, especially from China, India and the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia plans to produce 9.7 million barrels of oil per day, or 11 percent of the world's total, in July. It is the only nation with significant excess capacity that it could put on the market quickly.

But the kingdom has resisted calls to increase production further, saying financial speculators and the falling dollar are to blame for high oil prices, not a shortage of supply.

These disagreements came to a head June 22 at a rare meeting of oil producing and consuming nations hosted by Saudi Arabia. In the end, Saudi Arabia said it could increase oil production capacity to 15 million barrels per day if needed in future years. But it gave no indication that step, or an immediate increase in output, was necessary or planned.

The political tussle over output masks the challenge Saudi Arabia faces in boosting production capacity by developing giant fields like Khurais.

'That is what people don't appreciate,' said Manouchehr Takin, an oil expert at the London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies. 'These are major projects, and people don't realize they aren't that easy.'

The Saudis estimate Khurais and the nearby smaller Abu Jifan and Mazalij fields hold a total of 27 billion barrels of oil encased in solid rock 5,000 feet below the baking desert.

Saudi Arabia is no stranger to developing giant oil fields. Its massive Ghawar field, with an estimated 70 billion barrels of remaining reserves, is the world's largest.

But oil experts say Khurais, which was discovered in 1957, is geologically more difficult to tap.

Aramco is using hundreds of mostly South Asian workers to build a massive processing facility at the field. More than 150 wells will pump crude to the surface, where water and gas will be separated out. The oil then will be funneled to the country's east-west pipeline for delivery to ships in the Red Sea.

Workers are also building a huge sea-water injection system to pump more than 2 million barrels of water per day from the Gulf into 120 wells. That will maintain the necessary pressure underground to push the oil to the surface.

Disputes over Saudi's decisions aside, 'when you talk about the fields and the engineers and so on, I think you have to respect their technical ability,' Takin said.

With its twisting maze of metal, the half-finished facility rises out of the desert like a massive space station. Workers wear gloves and wrap bandanas across their faces to hide from the searing sun as they work 10-hour shifts in temperatures well above 100 degrees.

Aramco officials say that in addition to geological challenges, they also face difficulty finding enough qualified workers and equipment. The project will use 145,000 tons of steel — almost enough to build two Golden Gate bridges.

'We are trying to do it in a world market where contractors are in high demand,' said Muhammed al-Rubeh, head of Aramco's project department.

When completed, the processing facility also will be protected by two layers of fences, crash barriers, security cameras and government forces, Aramco says. Al-Qaida has called for attacks against Saudi Arabia's oil facilities to disrupt the flow of crude.

Aramco officials insist that despite the tight construction market, the Khurais project will be ready to produce 1.2 million barrels per day by next June.

But equipment and labor shortages have delayed production at another field, Khursaniyah, which was originally scheduled to begin pumping 500,000 barrels per day at the end of 2007. Aramco officials now say Khursaniyah will come online in August.

Also in the works is the development of the Manifa field, which sits offshore in the Gulf and is Saudi Arabia's only other giant oil field still untapped.

If all goes as scheduled, Aramco forecasts more than 50 billion barrels of fresh reserves from the giant fields by 2011. That amount alone would give Saudi Arabia the ninth largest oil reserves in the world, not even counting its existing reserves.

Outside analysts estimate the kingdom's total current reserves at about 260 billion barrels. But Saudi Arabia refuses to provide detailed data to allow independent verification.

Amin Nasser, senior vice president for production and exploration at Aramco, acknowledges the company sometimes faces criticism for that secrecy. 'We have a tradition of letting our actions and accomplishments speak for themselves,' he said.

Country sizzles at 51.4C

Country sizzles at 51.4C
By Zoe Sinclair and M. A. Qudoos for KHALEEJ TIMES

DUBAI/ABU DHABI — Mercury touched 51.4C in the UAE yesterday and with humidity at 42 per cent, weather forecasters are predicting uncomfortable days ahead.

A duty forecaster from the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology said the top temperature of 51.4C was recorded at Minhad Airport, an inland military base, yesterday.

The forecaster said Abu Dhabi and Al Ain both recorded their highest temperature for the year so far at 48.3C.

Dubai Meteorological Office duty forecaster Dr S. K. Gupta said Dubai International Airport meteorology equipment recorded 46.7C while Jebel Ali recorded 49C and Sharjah 48.5C.

Dubai's all-time high temperature recording on August 9 and 15 in 1999 was 47.5C while Dubai's June and July all-time highs are both 47.3C.

“August is typically the hottest month,” Dr S. K. Gupta said. “The high temperatures are the result of the breeze beginning late and from a south-easterly gradient which is more from the desert direction.”

Dr Gupta said the comfort index, on a scale of one to ten with ten most uncomfortable, was currently around five or six.

Suspended dust around Abu Dhabi yesterday also affected visibility which reduced to 1,500 metres at its lowest.

The weekend was also hot with temperatures reaching 44C in Dubai on Saturday.

For the week ahead, Dr Gupta predicted hot temperatures of about 45C today and tomorrow. Abu Dhabi was predicted to feel temperatures of 47C while Al Ain was likely to experience 48C.

However, the sea breeze would begin earlier and from a north-westerly direction from Wednesday and causing temperatures to drop slightly.

Maximum temperatures should be closer to 40-41C on Wednesday and 39-40C on Thursday.

UAE hospital to pass on heat-related worker cases to labour ministry

UAE hospital to pass on heat-related worker cases to labour ministry
By Nina Muslim, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: June 29, 2008, 23:41

Dubai: Heat cases coming into the Rashid Hospital Trauma Centre from 12.30pm to slightly after 3pm will have to provide details of their company, their work and their location as a way to catch midday break rule violators.

The two-month midday break, during which time labourers are not allowed to work, begins on Monday. The Ministry of Labour implemented the rule, in its fourth year, to prevent heat-related illnesses due to working during the hottest part of the day.

Dr Viktor Mikhaeel Butros, surgical specialist in-charge at the Trauma Centre, told Gulf News the centre would be collecting the data from labourers who come in during those hours.

"We will include company names so we will know who is violating the law. We will also get the location and [the type of work] they've been doing," he said.

He added the centre would continue taking this information for labourers who come in after 3pm, which is when the midday break ends, saying heat-related illnesses take time to develop.

Previously, the centre only took the name, age and nationality of the patient. At the end of the two-month period, the data will be made available to the Labour Ministry.

More than 1,200 companies violated the Ministry of Labour's edict on midday breaks in 2005. The number has declined since then with the ministry's Inspection Department reporting 862 violations in 2006 and 617 in 2007.

First-time violators will be fined Dh10,000. The company's status will also be downgraded for three months and any visa applications will be blocked. Second-time violators will get a fine of Dh20,000 and downgraded for six months. Third-time violators will be fined Dh30,000 and their work permit suspended for a year.

Dr Butros said so far, there had been "very few" heat cases, unlike last year, which recorded 82 cases and two deaths. The centre also recorded 16 cases in July last year. No data for August was available.

Surviving summer
In preparation for the hot season, Dr Viktor Mikhaeel Butros, surgical specialist in-charge at the Trauma Centre, advised residents and labourers alike to remain hydrated, drink plenty of water and electrolytes, be it at work or at play.

He also said people should stay in the shade as much as possible and be aware of the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, such as high core body temperature, dizziness, lethargy, nausea and confusion.

If left untreated, it can lead to death. The elderly, children under four years old and obese people are also vulnerable.

We will include company names so we will know who is violating the law. We will also get the location."

Petroleum Institute Abu Dhabi - Educational Opportunities

Petroleum Institute Abu Dhabi - Educational Opportunities

Strict implementation of mid-day break

Strict implementation of mid-day break
(Wam) 30 June 2008

DUBAI — The Ministry of Labour’s ban on work in the afternoon will come into effect during July and August, according to Humaid bin Dimas, acting under-secretary of the ministry.

He said at a meeting held in Dubai yesterday that the Labour Minister, Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash had issued directives to implement of the decision, follow up and intensification of inspection, calling on all companies to abide by the decision.

Dimas urged the inspectors to study each case accurately to ensure violation has been committed before submitting report to officials.

Inspection department director Mahir Al Owbed has asked the inspectors to be accurate in reporting violations.

Free Public Transport Bus Service in Abu Dhabi from 30th June 2008

Free Public Transport Bus Service in Abu Dhabi from 30th June 2008

Photos - Ramesh Menon

By Adel Arafah, Staff reporter KHALEEJ TIMES.

ABU DHABI — The Transport Department of Abu Dhabi will launch free public bus service within the emirate today. Initially, 60 buses would ply on four major routes.

Saeed Al Hameli, Director-General of the public buses office at the department, told Khaleej Times yesterday that Route 5 starts from Marina Mall in the breakwater area to the shopping centre in Al Mina area, Route 7 is from Marina Mall to Abu Dhabi Mall through the Tourist Club area, Route 32 from Marina Mall to Carrefour through the Airport road, and Route 54 from Zayed Sports City to Carrefour through the Airport road.

Al Hameli said the buses would stop at the existing bus stops along the routes.

The buses would not stop at a station for passengers to board for more than 10 minutes.

The free bus service would be from 6.30am to 12.30am.

Al Hameli said the number of routes would increase to 21 in the near future, covering almost all areas of Abu Dhabi and the surrounding islands.

The public can contact the department on the toll-free number — 80055555 — for any details.

This bus service will be free of charge till the end of this year.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New beach on Abu Dhabi Corniche to be opened

New beach on Abu Dhabi Corniche to be opened

opensAbu Dhabi: A new two-kilometre beach stretch along the Abu Dhabi Corniche will open to the public on Monday.

The new beach will have swimming areas, refreshment outlets, scenic gardens, walking pathways, beach volleyball pitches, children’s play areas and toilets.

Last-minute touch-ups are in full swing at various facilities at the new tourism destination, which lies on an area of 11 hectares.

At least 170 umbrellas will line the stretch to provide shade to beach goers. Four volleyball pitches will also be available for visitors throughout the day.

People will be able to use the swim area during daytime, and trained lifeguards will monitor the swimmers from seven surveillance towers.

Floating fences will ensure swimming security over 40-metres into the sea. A police post has also been built on the beach front for more security.

The landscaping and greenery are also expected to make the beach one among the most beautiful destinations in the country.

A central building, complete with a mosque, refreshment areas and changing rooms, will give facility for picnic events, get-togethers and family assemblies.

Along the landscaped area, benches have been laid out giving the people one of the most refreshing sights of the sea.

Visa runs continue despite Shaikh Mohammad's order's

Visa runs continue despite Shaikh Mohammad's order's
By Alia Al Theeb, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: June 27, 2008, 00:07

On February 11, 2004, Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan abolished the law countrywide that required foreign workers to briefly exit the UAE to comply with visa regulations, a day after a Kish Air plane crashed into a residential area near Sharjah airport, killing 43 of the 46 people aboard.

Expatriates who arrive on visitors' visas but later find jobs no longer have to exit and re-enter on new work visas.

On February 10, 2004, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who was then the Dubai Crown Prince, ordered new measures to ensure that there will no longer be any need for people on visit visas, who have been issued work permits, to leave the country to convert them into residence visas.

The new arrangement would cover all professions and nationalities and it was meant to ensure public safety and reduce their burden.

Short visa runs set to end, says UAE official

Short visa runs set to end, says UAE official
By Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: June 27, 2008, 00:07

Dubai: Short visa runs will be banned once new entry permit rules take effect on August 1, a senior Ministry of Interior official told Gulf News on Thursday.

Expatriates who wanted to adjust their visa status had to make quick trips to neighbouring countries and then return to the UAE.

In February 2004 a Kish Air plane crashed into a residential area near Sharjah airport, killing 43 people aboard. Most of the victims had gone to Kish Island in Iran so that they could adjust their visa status.

Immediately afterwards, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan abolished the law that required foreign workers to briefly exit the country to comply with visa regulations.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who was then Crown Prince of Dubai, ordered new measures to ensure that there was no longer any need for people on visit visas, who have been issued work permits, to leave the country to convert them to residence visas. A fee could be paid instead.

However, four years later, visa runs continue. All this is set to change once the new rules come into effect. A Ministry of Interior official said short visa runs will be completely stopped.

People who have secured jobs will come here only on employment visas - they won't be allowed to come on visit visas and then change their status to employment and residency.

The official said the complete ban on short visa runs will be made soon. "We will stop these daily runs to neighbouring countries. If required, expatriates will have to leave the country for at least a month," he said.

Gulf News reported on Wednesday that a two-month-old baby must travel to Kish or to Oman and return so that he can get a residency visa.

Managing the micro-seconds

Managing the micro-seconds

The other day I was watching one of the semi-finals of the Euro 2008. The digital clock was flashing the time left for a very crucial match which was extended due to scores level till the full time. Suddenly a thought came to my mind, how these players control their emotion and play out those final few minutes. The ticking clock was also visible to them as well as the viewers from all over the world. There was no display of panic or show of unwanted aggression. I wished our Sreesanth and team was watching these matches and learn a trick or two for preserving the stamina and controlling it for a final go at the goal.

We come across several situation in life similar to this scenario where we are left with the final few moments of tackling a critical action and helpless to react not knowing what to do ahead. This brings us to the summarisation that follows and criticism in plenty aftermath of such a decisive event.

All of us are good at commenting what should have / should not have done when it was happening in real. Even my grandmother who is an 80 year old lady and keen follower of cricket comments how Dhoni will play or R P Singh will bowl at a particular stage of a match. The advent of electronic media has opened up unlimited opportunities to observe and develop our skills and thinking pattern. But, going out there and performing is a different ball game. Imagine the mindset of a player at that particular situation. The external heat, the match tempo and the target requirements etc. His mind has to be really focussed on to his ultimate goal, i.e. the victory of his team. For this he has to have a concentrated effort to break his goal into short term and long term goals. First set of short term goals will be to settle down and get the feel of the ground and blend him to the tempo going on. And then work towards the larger goal of winning the game for his team. It is here his knowledge and perseverance to stay on without wasting energy for expressing unwanted emotion. This is where he wins his battle over the micro-seconds in case of a football match or the reducing no of balls to no of runs required target.

Germany will be playing Spain today and it will be a thrilling finale to end the Euro 2008. Elimination of major playing countries like England, Denmark, Italy, France, Russia etc have reduced the interest to this match. On paper Spain looks formidable and the in the run up to the finals they have a winning streak of 20 matches under their belt and have all the chances of lifting the Euro 2008. However, I have my bet on Germany for all those qualities mentioned above. Let us see tonight who will conquer those micro seconds before the final whistle blows.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Opportunities galore in hospitality management

Opportunities galore in hospitality management

We explore more options for further study after Plus Two and turn to course choices that do not hinge on the student’s optional subject combinations.

We had earlier discussed in these columns the possibilities for further studies for those who have done the higher secondary programmes with either the mathematics-physics–chemistry or the biology-physics–chemistry combination of optional subjects. Let us now focus on the common avenues of higher education available for candidates who have finished the higher secondary course, irrespective of their optional subjects. There are various programmes that admit cand idates who have passed the Plus Two examination, without considering whether they have come through the science, humanities, commerce or vocational stream. What we aim to provide are indications of the diverse possibilities, and not a comprehensive discussion on each one of these avenues.

Hotel management

Since the focus of hotel management is primarily on catering to the needs of guests the term ‘hospitality industry’ has become popular. The industry is growing rapidly, thanks to the unprecedented advances in tourism and international business, and consequent travel. Those who have the right temperament and aptitude to meet the personal requirements of guests, and the strength of technical training in the diverse aspects of hotel management have fine professional prospects in India and abroad.

It may be noted that India’s share of the global tourism industry is less than one per cent. This reveals the great potential for development of tourism in India. Both business and leisure travel by domestic and foreign tourists demands hotels managed by competent professionals.

Not only hotels but motels, restaurants, rest houses, guest houses, hostels, hospitals, industrial canteens, ships and airlines offer jobs to those trained in the art and science of hotel management. Fine communication skills, pleasing behaviour, politeness, ability to remain composed even under tension, willingness to work anytime during the day or the night and expertise in the different aspects of the industry are necessary for success.

The main areas where skills have to be developed include food production; food and beverages service; accommodation operation; front office; bakery and confectionery; preservation; hotel accountancy; business communication; hotel engineering; computer operation; and sales and marketing. The course will also cover topics such as hotel laws; general principles of management, including human resources and marketing; nutrition; health and hygiene; hotel machinery; and French language.


The National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Noida (web site: www. holds an entrance test for admission to the 3-year B.Sc. Hospitality and Hotel Administration programme, offered jointly by the Council and the Indira Gandhi National Open University. Selection to more than 30 institutes of Hotel Management and Catering Technology in different parts of the country, from Thiruvananthapuram to Srinagar, is made based on the ranks in this entrance test.

The 3-hour test comprises 200 objective questions drawn from the areas of numerical ability and scientific aptitude; reasoning and logical deduction; general knowledge and current affairs; English language; and aptitude for service sector. One should prepare specially for the test, using the previous question papers in order to get an idea on the nature and standard of possible questions.

The programme equips students with all the required skills, knowledge and attitude to discharge efficiently the supervisory responsibilities in the hospitality sector. It also involves in-depth laboratory work that enables students to acquire the knowledge and skills in the operational areas of food production; food and beverage service; front office operation; and house keeping. Further, it provides managerial inputs in hotel accountancy; food safety and quality; human resource management; facility planning; financial management; strategic management; tourism marketing; and tourism management.

There are other institutions offering degree and diploma programmes in this discipline, some of which are indicated below. The duration may be three or four years.

•Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal - 576 119 (Four-year Bachelor degree)

•Oberoi Centre for Learning and Development, Sham Nath Marg, New Delhi - 110 054 (Three- year programme with stipend and other facilities)

•Indian Institute of Hotel Management, Rouza Bagh, Aurangabad - 431 001

•Srinivas College of Hotel Management, GHS Road, Mangalaore - 575 001

•Oriental School of Hotel Management, Valley View, Lakkidi, Wayanad - 673 576

•Saptagiri College of Hotel Management, Kavoor, Mangalore - 575 015

•Army Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Bangalore -560 077 (for children of army personnel)

•SRM Institute of Hotel Management, 2-Veeraswamy Street, West Mambalam, Chennai - 600 033

•Munnar Catering College, Sooryanelli, Munnar-685 618

•Merit Swiss Asian School of Hotel Management, Ooty

•Dr. D.Y. Patil Institute of Hotel Management, Nerul, Navi Mumbai-400 706

•IHTTI School of Management, Neuchatel, Switzerland

•Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, Switzerland

(The list is only indicative)

One advantage of jobs in quality hotels is that food, accommodation and uniforms will be provided by the employer, free of cost.

Guidanceplus archives:


Photo Speaks - A view form Deira City Centre - in and around

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Abu Dhabi bus service is route to beating traffic woes

Abu Dhabi bus service is route to beating traffic woes
By Samir Salama, Associate Editor GULF NEWS Published: June 26, 2008, 00:03

Abu Dhabi: From Monday until the end of the year residents in Abu Dhabi will enjoy free bus trips on the island to encourage car owners to leave their cars behind, it was announced on Wednesday.

"Altogether 125 brand-new, handicap-accessible, world-class, white and green buses will be deployed in Abu Dhabi between 6am and midnight to transport people, free of charge, to make public buses the preferred mode of transportation," said Saeed Al Hameli, general manager of the bus section at the Department of Transport.

He launched a two-year plan to gradually overhaul the emirate's public transport network and infrastructure in line with "Plan Abu Dhabi 2030".

The project will be completed in phases, starting June 30, with the gradual deployment of 258 buses as a short-term solution. Of these 125 are new and 133 have been refurbished, Al Hameli told a press conference.

The fleet will enter service gradually with 60 buses being deployed on the first day on high-traffic routes, to immediately enhance commuter comfort and convenience and improve frequency and scheduled services.

"A further 100 new buses are due to enter service in the first quarter of 2009, with more phases to follow. All future phases will aim to increase city, suburban and inter-city capacity by 50 per cent by the end of next year."

The new buses, Al Hameli said, will initially service four new routes, followed by six additional routes in August with the goal to operate on 21 high-frequency routes by the beginning of 2009, covering most of Abu Dhabi Island.

The department of transport plans to service Abu Dhabi with 1,360 world-class buses by the end of 2010 and has already designed Abu Dhabi's future bus route network, which will provide comprehensive coverage within cities and link the emirate's urban areas.

As the emirate's population is expected to increase to 1.5 million people by 2010, the department is today sowing the seeds for a safe, sustainable, economically viable, efficient and lifestyle-enhancing transport system that will be the preferred mode of transport for the public," said Abdullah Rashid Al Otaiba, chairman of the Department of Transport.

"This is the first step on the long road ahead that will fuel further economic growth, contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions, enhance quality of life and establish a sustainable public transportation system for all the people of Abu Dhabi."

He added that by 2030, Abu Dhabi will be home to 3.5 million people and the aim is to develop a comprehensive public transportation network that will appeal to all segments of society. Our biggest challenge today is to encourage car owners to utilise the new facilities and infrastructure.

"It's going to be a gradual process but Abu Dhabi residents and tourists will start seeing the changes next week," Al Otaiba said.

Upon completion of the project, Abu Dhabi will boast one of the world's most modern bus fleets.

Freedom Bus lanes planned

*From June 30, free bus rides will be offered until the end of the year with the gradual deployment of 258 buses, 125 new and 133 refurbished.

* Routes: Marina Mall to Mina Zayed through Zayed The First Street and Hamdan Street; Abu Dhabi Mall to Marina Mall through Zayed The First Street; Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed (Airport) Road to Courts Complex and Carrefour Mall and Al Muroor Road to Madinat Zayed Centre.
* Toll free telephone number 800 55555 for information on routes, complaints or suggestions
* Dedicated bus priority lanes may be deployed in key Abu Dhabi arteries that will ensure the smooth flow of buses and connectivity.
* Renovation of the existing 12 bus stations and the development of 25 new bus stations. Over the next five years, the 37 bus stations will feature an array of retail, banking, food and beverage and other facilities.
* Creation of six bus depots.
* Tariff for old buses on other routes will remain unchanged.

World's First Moving Tower To Be Built In Dubai

World's First Moving Tower To Be Built In Dubai
Wednesday, Jun 25, 2008

DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones)--The world's first rotating building, an 80-storey tower with revolving floors, will be built in Dubai, New York-based architect David Fisher's Dynamic Group, the mastermind behind the development, said Wednesday.

The Dynamic Tower will be made up of 80 prefabricated apartments which will spin independently of one another to give the impression that the 420 meter building is constantly changing shape, Dynamic said in a statement.

Work on the tower is due to be completed by 2010, according to Dynamic's Web site.

The building will have 79 giant power-generating wind turbines located between each floor so that it will be energy self-sufficient.

"The Dynamic Tower is environmentally friendly and the first building designed to be self-powered, with the ability to generate its own electricity, as well as for other nearby buildings," Fisher said in the statement.

Apartments will range in size from 124 square meters to villas of 1,200 square meters complete with a parking space inside the apartment, the statement said.

Dubai is at the center of the Gulf region's construction boom spurred by record high oil earnings. It is currently building Burj Dubai, the world's tallest tower, due for completion in 2009.

The Dynamic Tower will also be the first skyscraper to be built entirely from prefabricated parts that are custom made in a workshop, known as the Fisher Method,

Fisher said just 600 people on an assembly site and 80 technicians on the construction site would be needed to build the tower - compared with around 2,000 workers for a traditional project of a comparable scale.

"Each floor of the building can be completed in only seven days. From now on, buildings will be made in a factory," he said.

A second, 70-storey skyscraper is planned for Moscow by 2010. Mirax Group will develop the tower, headed by international developer Sergei Polonsky, Dynamic said.

"Our intention is to build the third rotating skyscraper in New York," Fisher said.

There are also plans to build similar Dynamic Towers in Canada, Germany, Italy, Korea and Switzerland "following an expression of interest from developers, governments, and public officials," Dynamic said.

Advantage top rank-holders

Advantage top rank-holders


A change has been made in the seat allocation pattern for courses to the National Institutes of Technology from this year. What could it mean for students from Kerala?

As students appear for counselling at the National Institute of Technology Calicut (NIT-C) from July 4, they would notice a major change in the admissions to NITs. From this academic year, the seats reserved for students from States other than the State in which the NIT is located will be filled based on the all-India merit.

According to a clarification put up on the web site of the Central Counselling Board (CCB) constituted to organise centralised counselling and allocation of seats at the NITs and other participating institutes, 50 per cent of the seats will be filled from students from the State in which the particular NIT is located, while the remaining 50 per cent will be filled on an all-India basis based on the rank in the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE).

There is confusion as to whether these 50 per cent seats is for students from all States other than the State in which the particular NIT is located; or whether the students of all States in the country, including the students from that particular State where the NIT is located, are eligible for counselling to these seats.

It is learnt that CCB has clarified till the time of this report going to the press that students from all States, including the students from the State where the NIT is located, are eligible for counselling to these seats. However, a clear picture will emerge only after the trial allotment of seats starts after the completion of the off-campus on-line counselling.

Impact on Kerala students

There were nearly 200 seats reserved for students who passed their Plus Two from Kerala in NITs other than NIT-C last year. But the change in admission pattern will mean that the Kerala students will now have to compete with students from all over the country to get a seat in the all-India seat category in NITs other than NIT-C.

Definitely, students from all states who have secured high ranks will benefit, but students with lower ranks who otherwise could have got the advantage of State-specific seats will lose out this time. On the positive side, however, Kerala students, provided they have higher ranks than students from other States, can get a branch of his or her choice in other NITs under the all-India seats, which they might not have got last year unless that branch was reserved for students from Kerala.

Another advantage for Kerala students, if they have higher ranks, will be that they could claim a large number of seats in NIT-C itself under the all-India seats category. (Provided CCB is going with the idea of allowing students from all states, including students from Kerala, to compete for all-India seats in NIT-C). This coupled with the 50 per cent reservation for Kerala students in NIT-C could push up the percentage of Kerala students in NIT-C to more than 50. (But an analysis of the previous years’ AIEEE rank list shows that Kerala students having higher ranks were very few compared to students from some other States.)

Another problem that may crop up in the NIT admission scenario would be that students of eight States which do not have an NIT (there are 20 NITs in 20 different States with eight States not having NITs) will not get adequate representation in NITs, unless they garner high ranks in AIEEE. Also, States having the largest number of candidates among the high ranking candidates would bag the maximum number of seats in NITs located in their States.

Courses at NIT-C

NIT-C has begun implementing the Other Backward Castes reservation as per the instructions of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) from this academic year.

A total of 703 seats are available at NIT-C currently. The branch-wise seats for courses in NIT-C: (Number of seats reserved for students from Kerala is given in brackets.)

Civil engineering –106 seats (53); computer science and engineering –106(53); electronics and communication engineering – 106 (53); electrical and electronics engineering –106 (53); mechanical engineering – 106 (54); production engineering – 36 (18); chemical engineering – 71 (34); biotechnology – 30 (15) and B.Arch. – 36 (19).

(Information available as of now and subject to change depending on the instructions of MHRD.)

The details of courses and seat availability at NIT-C are available on the web site


The counselling consists of two phases: Off-campus on-line counselling conducted from June 23 to 29. The second phase on-campus online counselling will be conducted from July 4 to 13.


NIT-C web site says that the average salary of B.Tech. students during the placement session of 2007-08 was Rs.4.75 lakh a year and the average IT salary was Rs.5.5 lakh a year. The average salary and highest salary had grown substantially in 2007-08 compared to the previous year.

One-year Hindi diploma courses

One-year Hindi diploma courses

Wednesday June 25 2008 11:16 IST EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE KOCHI

HINDI Prachara Kendra College of Teacher Education has invited applications from SSLC and Plus-II students for one-year Hindi Certificate and Hindi Diploma courses (Distance Learning).

Rashtrabasha Visharad is the qualifying course for the appointment of teachers in Govt/Aided upper primary schools.

For details, call 0480-2802145.

Continous Education programmes destinations in UAE

Continous Education programmes destinations in UAE

There are a few additional institutions / programmes that I know of which are good. Giving you the contact details and links:


Universal Empire Institute of Technology (UEIT)
Phone: 04 3672121/22

All major post graduate and management courses are covered by IGNOU and good study materials are provided added with contact classes by UEIT teachers. Economical too compared to other university study programmes and IGNOU programmes are gaining programmes all over.IGNOU operates through a well organized network of Regional Centers and study centers that cater to the diverse needs of about 1.5 million students all over the world. Website:

ICFAI Professional programmes:
The Admissions Officer
Block No. 19, Office 202/203
Dubai Knowledge Village
P.O. Box 502 913.
Dubai, UAE.
Tel: +9714-3694625,
Fax: +9714-3678420.

Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) Dubai


P.O. Box: 500689
Tel: 04 366 4577

Mahatma Gandhi University Off Campus Centre Dubai


Block #3
Dubai Knowledge Village

Tel : 04-390 2981 / 82
Fax : 04-366 4661

E-mail :

website: Welcome to

And if you want to look for rigorous programmes, do visit the BITS PILANI Off-Campus Work integrated programmes site:

Excellent and the Semester exams are regularly conducted at their Academic City premises.

For readers from Saudi Arabia, please follow this ad:

Hope the above are just a few amongst the many we have now as sources for continuing education.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Abu Dhabi considers congestion charges

Abu Dhabi considers congestion charges
Ivan Gale and Matthew Chung for THE NATIONAL

Last Updated: June 22. 2008 11:45PM UAE / June 22. 2008 7:45PM GMT
The scenario emphasises road-based public transport options such as new bus fleets, instead of rail-based metro and tram systems. The National
ABU DHABI // The Abu Dhabi Government is considering eliminating fuel subsidies, introducing congestion charges and levying new fees on motorists as part of its efforts to solve the capital’s transport woes, according to documents posted on a new Department of Transport website.

The documents, developed by the DoT and made public on its website, illustrate the dilemma the department is facing. They lay out four scenarios for improving transportation in the city.

Three of the plans call for more public transportation, while one suggests building more motorways, although it is understood that the department could also adopt elements of the different plans.

Just two days ago, the Department of Planning and Economy released a report saying that road congestion and poor public transport were inflicting a “heavy economic toll” on the city and required “urgent remedial measures”.

The DoT has been studying the emirate’s transport problems since it was created two years ago. The city currently has a dearth of buses and many people wait for long periods to catch cabs.

Over the next two decades the department is expected to spend tens of billions of dirhams to improve things, in part to support the emirate’s 2030 plan, aimed at guiding the overhaul of infrastructure over the next quarter of a century.

The developers of the 2030 initiative expect Abu Dhabi’s population to more than triple in size during the period.

The transport department has invited the public to comment on the four scenarios. Then, in February 2009, the agency is expected to issue its recommendations and a blueprint for the transport network.

Abdulla al Shamsi, the director of roads and infrastructure at Abu Dhabi Municipality, said the new website and the publication of the documents were part of a transparency drive to keep the public more informed and actively involved in government planning.

The website, he said, “is really a step forward to the future”. It can be accessed at and members of the public are encouraged to comment on the ideas.

The four plans are: a highways-based scenario, a public transport and car alternatives scenario, a demand management scenario and a “low carbon” based scenario.

Under the highways approach, the Government would divert funds towards developing a high capacity, high quality motorway system to cater to private vehicles and road-based public transport and freight.

Existing freeways would be widened and flyovers and underpasses would be added. A one-way street network would be introduced in the central business district to improve flow and capacity.

The scenario emphasises road-based public transport options such as new bus fleets, instead of rail-based metro and tram systems. Toll lanes would be offered for commuters seeking to avoid congestion during peak travel times.

The public transport scenario would expand the mass transit network to include regional rail, trams, metro, bus and water ferries.

The plan calls for a network of integrated services so that journeys can be “door-to-door”. Some road capacity would be allocated to public transit, with the expectation that traffic would be transferred from the road to the public transit.

A regional rail network would be created within the emirate with high-speed rail links to Dubai, Al Ain and potentially Qatar. The public transit plan also calls for air-conditioned walkways. Ferries would service commuters living on the new residential islands of Abu Dhabi and others would run to Dubai.

The demand management scenario would introduce fees for road use, impose vehicle taxes and other maintenance charges, and provide free park-and-ride sites to encourage public transport use. The charges would be introduced in stages after public transport option alternatives are in place.

Fuel subsidies would be removed and fuel taxes introduced, as well as annual vehicle registration fees and safety tests. Congestion charges would be introduced as well as “cordon pricing” for vehicles entering the metropolitan area, similar to the one used in central London. Paid parking would also be extended. Car-pooling and cycling would be encouraged and signs throughout the city would warn drivers about congested areas. Pedestrian-only zones would encourage walking.

However, the report notes that introducing charges on motorists would “most likely” meet opposition.

The low carbon based scenario would rely heavily on public transport but would include a personal rapid transit network on Lulu Island and the use of alternative fuel and low-emission buses.

Low-pollution or electric vehicles or freight trams would be used to transport freight. A low emission zone would be introduced for Abu Dhabi, Sowwah, Reem and Saadiyat Islands, as well as the Capital City development, with charges on vehicles entering the zone based on their emissions. Subsidies would be given for alternative fuels.

In another sign that transport planning is gathering momentum, the DOT last week assembled its largest ever gathering to discuss transport options with key stakeholders from the public and private sector.

More than 70 people attended the meeting. In addition to government agencies, participants included representatives from the emirate’s biggest companies such as Mubadala, Aldar, the Abu Dhabi Investment Agency, Hydra Properties, and Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corp.

New buses on streets of Abu Dhabi

New buses on streets of Abu Dhabi
Matthew Chung for THE NATIONAL

Last Updated: June 25. 2008 6:06PM UAE / June 25. 2008 2:06PM GMT
New buses are parked outside Emirates Palace. The Department of Transport has unveiled the new bus service for Abu Dhabi. Phil Cheung / The National
More than 1,300 new air-conditioned and handicap-accessible buses will be plying Abu Dhabi's streets by 2010, the Department of Transport (DoT) said on today.

The first of the buses will start running on Monday on four routes serving Abu Dhabi Island. Six additional routes are scheduled to be added in August.

By 2009, the department plans to operate on 21 high-frequency routes.
Saeed al Hameli, the general manager for the bus office of the DoT, said the buses serving Abu Dhabi Island would be free until the end of this year to encourage residents to use them.

A further 100 buses are expected to start running by the first quarter of 2009.
The buses are among the first steps the department is taking to solve traffic congestion in the emirate, in which the population is expected to grow to 3.5 million by 2030.

A report issued on Saturday by the Department of Planning and Economy said the UAE was losing about Dh5 billion (US$1.3bn) to traffic congestion and that Abu Dhabi’s roads had outgrown their capacity.

“Our aim is to develop a comprehensive transportation network that will be appealing to all segments of society,” Mr Hameli said.

“Our biggest challenge today is to encourage car owners to utilise the new facilities and infrastructure once they come on line.”

Passengers could expect a reduction in waiting times for buses, Mr Hameli added.
As part of the project, the emirate’s 12 existing bus stations will be renovated and 25 new bus stations built. They will all feature a mix of retail, food and beverage and banking facilities.

Six depots will also be built for bus maintenance. The department is also considering creating dedicated bus lanes on some roads.

'Ashokavaniyankam Koodiyattom'

'Ashokavaniyankam Koodiyattom'

Ammannur Rajanish as Ravana in 'Ashokavaniyankam Koodiyattom' held at Koodalmanikyam Kootambalam

Cartoon Corner - On Petrol Price Hike


It’s a family affair

It’s a family affair
Wednesday June 25 2008 10:54 IST Gayatri Dwivedi for Express News Service Kochi

WHEN mom and daughters stepped out in tune with the music, ‘Nritha Sandhya’ held at Fine Arts Hall became an event to cherish.

Renowned dancer Mary John and her daughters Ria and Ruby John put up a mesmerising show with spectacular performances of mohiniyattam, bharatanatyam and kuchipudi last week. Their troupe ‘Kalatharangini’ is headed by Mary’s husband KM John. The programme was held as part of the silver jubilee celebrations of Bank Employees Art Movement Ernakulam (BEAME).

John was born into a traditional Christian family in Kerala and nobody ever envisaged that he would be a dancer of international acclaim. As a child, he loved participating in school dramas.

The Duryodhana-Krishna sequences depicted in kathakali performances used to stir him like nothing else could. He felt that kathakali was his calling and made up his mind to study it. The going was tough and the training rigorous.

The painstaking practice sessions of eight hours a day for nine years was no child’s play. But his efforts came to fruition. The first honour that came his way was the AD Bollard gold medal for the best kathakali student in 1977. He started as a teacher at Kalamandalam.

The first tour abroad came in 1981 and after that, there was no looking back.

Marriage blessed him with a perfect partner in Mary. Besides being a leading mohiniyattam artist, Mary is also the first Indian female ‘chutti’ (make-up) artist. Mary’s decision to learn dance after marriage did not take off initially but after the birth of her second daughter, the desire became irrepressible.

Recalls John: “Mary used to get up very early in the morning with the plate and pot for kuchipudi practice. Amidst all this, there would be moments when she would hold the baby in her arms. The commitment in her put wings to her aspirations and soon, she started performing all over the globe.”

Their daughters are following their footsteps and perform kathakali, koodiyattam, mohiniyattam, bharatanatayam, kuchipudi and ottan thullal. While Ria is pursuing dentistry in Kochi, Ruby is a Plus-Two student. The family has given many performances in almost all the European countries. The troupe regularly conducts classes and workshops abroad.

The audiences there are very different. “In India, the number peters out as the night passes; but people abroad sit through the performances even if the next day is a working day,” says John.

The couple runs Kalatharamgini, a centre for performing and fine arts and culture in Cheruthuruthy, Thrissur.

Charity raises hope for physically-challenged

Charity raises hope for physically-challenged
By Riyasbabu (Our staff reporter)KHALEEJ TIMES 25 June 2008

DUBAI - Simon George, 43, a wheelchair-bound man, is seeking support of non-resident Indians (NRIs), in his mission to help people with physical challenges become self-sufficient.

George has been working tirelessly to help people with disabilities in India. Having travelled around the world on a wheelchair, as both his legs are paralysed, he is currently in Dubai to meet the NRIs to seek their assistance.

George, whose was struck by a paralytic attack in his legs in 1986 while he was studying mechanical engineering, started a charity organisation, 'Prathyasha Foundation', in 2004, to support people with disabilities.

"Both my legs were paralysed after a medical error. I had high fever and the injection I was given in the hospital affected my spinal cord. I was in bed for six years. It was after a long treatment that I was able to sit in a wheelchair," he told Khaleej Times. “I lost my confidence. I failed to continue my studies thereafter. But I decided to fight against my disability and do something for others who suffer a similar fate," recounted George.

He started Prathyasha Foundation in Kochi. "Our aim is to boost the confidence of people with disabilities. We have a training centre for them where we groom them for different jobs. The foundation also distributes computers, tailoring machines and other equipment to them for self employment purposes," he said.

"Currently, 50 people are getting training at the centre. We want to develop the centre," he said.

"I am in Dubai to study the rehabilitation activities here. I am very impressed with the facilities provided for people with disabilities here," he said.

For more details about the foundation log on to

Monday, June 23, 2008

AMRITA TV Super Dancer Junior Final 3 Winner - Sradha

A few moments with AMRITA TV Super Dancer Junior Final 3 Winner - Shradha Gokul

Greetings to you Shradha. You have been one of the contestants of the recently concluded Super Dancer Junior programme conducted by Amrita TV. Participating in a talent hunt show of this calibre to find out the best amongst children of your age, it gave a feast to all the viewers and the contestants. It is the same interest of the viewers that made me now approach you for a brief and casual talk to find how your progress is after the post-elimination from this show. Feel free to express your thoughts in your own simple way.

1. Shradha, congratulations for participating in the Super Dancer Junior Competition and getting selected to the top 3 level. How did you hear about this programme?

From the promotional advertisements in the AMRITA TV.

2. How did you find the different stages of the competition? Particularly on the challenges thrown to you to perform non-conventional rounds.

It was highly competitive but my teachers and my parents made me feel at ease and supported me. They kept telling me that participating is more important than winning and asked me to do my best.

3. Who is your Guru? Could you please give us an idea how you went about preparing for each round.

My Guru for Cinematic dance is Mrs Sajana Najam who is a popular choreographer and has done several shows for major events. My classical guru is Mr Nanthencode Vinayachandran a highly respectable Guru in Trivandrum.

Sajana teacher was like a friend to me. It was like a second home to me during the period of the competition. I used to stay there and prepare my rounds with total devotion and passion most of the time past midnight. My mom, Sapna and grandparents used to accompany me and encourage me all the time. My dad, Gokul, used to support me over the phone as he was away. I was able to learn and memorize the steps because of all their love, encouragement and support. My mom, grandparents, teacher, her two daughters and umma ( teacher's mother) use to sit and discuss about the rounds and in a day or two we prepare for yet another exciting round.

4. How was the support given by the Amrita TV channel in terms of co-ordination and arrangements for contestants like you.

They did support, but it was very minimal considering the expenses incurred particularly for Sets and costumes. My parents and grandparents did spend a lot for costumes, transport, sets and training. Amrita use to pay 2000/- per round, whereas each round consists of 4-5 dances , which required upto Rs. 50000. Support was given by the make up team consisting of Sobha aunty, Raju uncle, lovely Aunty and her team.

Good Food was also supplied to us on the day of shoot.

5. How do you rate the grooming sessions before each stage of this competition? Did you all get sufficient notification about each stage and also did you get sufficient guidance about how your performance should be for each one of them?

Most of the contestants did not get necessary guidance, neither could they know much about their future rounds and that was clearly visible in the property round where most of them were not aware of any such round as it was not explained or told in the grooming sessions. We were not at all supported in song selection and this was another area of great stress.

6. How do you rate the other contestants who participated along with you? Did you all get along well?

All the contestants were equally good and nice. The parents were more stressed and appeared angry at many decisions but we 15 contestants were good friends and had a very nice time. Anna is one of my best friends. Whenever we get time, we contact each other and exchange pleasantries. Navaneeth sometimes spends his night at our home, after the Kuttichathan shoot whenever his mom goes to Calicut.

7. Was there any stress on you with regards to the SMS votes / campaign which was a part of the requirement for getting through to the next level in each stage? How did you work on this, especially in your case, being from an ordinary family compared to the other rich contestants.

Yes SMS is something that makes me very unhappy and stressed. It was the sad part of the whole show where I used to feel very depressed and often cried. I never understood why the person who has the money to send more SMS can win !!! Even though my parents did not let me know, I used to feel sad and bad when I saw them running here and there begging votes. The channel people put me in danger zone and Amrita staff used to call my parents asking them to send more SMS to save me and I know that they did spend a lot of money to get me to the safer zone. My parents had to spend very little for my other expenses, while they spend a lot for SMS. It created a lot of stress and spoilt the fun of the show. Thousands of SMS sent by my fans abroad, and in India were not enough for the channel and many thousand SMS sent by our family friends and relatives bounced during the finals. There were thousands of returned messages. My parents did spend a fortune that could have been used for education to send SMS. I have heard people talk about how SMS decided the winner and not the talent and this I think is very unfortunate, sad and unjustified.

8. What do you rate amongst the various stages for this particular competition as the toughest round? What was the reason that made you say this particular round as very challenging.

The toughest round for me was the horror round which I couldn't do well. I have never known about this kind of dance before. It was really a horror for me. I am also particularly sad that they did not include a classical dance round.

9. Looking back at this competition after elimination, do you feel, the stages set were tough or that you could have performed well in those?In certain rounds I use to feel I could have performed better.

Especially the comedy and the horror round. Stages set was not that tough.

10. How often you give performances? How many hours normally you practise?

I am a classical dancer and I normally practice 2-3 hrs most of the days.

11. Other than dance, are you learning any musical instruments or any other extra-curricular activities?

Other than dance I am learning music. Now I am acting in a children's teleserial Kuttichathan telecast by Asianet during prime time. I am playing the role of Varsha Menon, nick name " bubbles". people also call me Maychathan because of the role I played in a few episodes.

12. I understand you are good at studies. Tell me something about your activities other than those involved with dance.

I am interested in listening to good music. I love to play computer games and listen to stories. My dad has brought me a lot of Disney movies and I love to watch them one by one, whenever I get time.

13. Which grade/school you are attending and what was the reaction from the school, your friends and well wishers when they came to know about your participation in Super Dancer Junior?

I am studying in 6th std . My principal Rev. Fr. Mathew Chackalakal was my die hard supporter. He encouraged me a lot and was always there as a promoter. Friends, teachers and relatives had supported me a lot. My friends respect me and love me more than ever after this program and they often talk about my performances.

14. Did you get any support/recognition from any associations or any other news media channels for your excellent performance in this competition?

Yes, News paper 's like Rashtradeepika had recently published a page long feature about me in all Kerala and US editions.

15. Who is your favourite Dancer? And who else do you like to follow closely from this field?

Shobhana and Dr. Padma Subramaniam are my favourties, because both are very innovative, talented and highly creative.

16. What are your future plans? What do you want to become – other than a Dancer?

First choice is to reach greater heights in classical dance and also to choose a profession that will help me help others.

17. Do you get noticed when you travel within Kerala after participation in this show. How do you handle this popularity / recognition/encouragements.

Yes, ofcourse and I will remain ever grateful to Amrita TV for this popularity and good wishes that the show generated. I feel so proud and good when many people walk up to me in public places and tell me that they consider me as their super dancer junior.

Most of the days I get Phone calls from India and abroad. Some of the frequent callers are sri Venu of almanara communications, Dubai, Rajeev chetan and Suraj chettan from Baharain, venu uncle from kannur, shobith chettan from kannur Praveen chetta from kasargode and many more. They were in particular very very supportive. Sri Venu from Dubai has been exceptionally kind and supportive.

18. Tell me anything additional you want to include here

But the greatest achievement is that when I met Mata Amirtanandnamayi. She burst into laughter like a child and told me that "Molu ni ende channelil adichu polikkeyanallo". I and my grandparents were surprised that she recognized me and this I consider is my greatest reward or prize. My dad always tells me to wish for others more than I wish for myself and I try to put this in daily practice.
Be sure of my prayers and best wishes to all of you. I am very grateful to you all for supporting me and promoting me.

Now let us see some of her excellent performances during this competition.

Shradha's group dance in super dancer

Chamma Chamma By Sradha

Reng Heynasheela By Shradha

Sunno Tum Dil Man By Sradha

chinna chinna asai

Mridangam - Rajesh Srinivasan

Mridangam - Rajesh Srinivasan

Ragarathnam Masters V Dakshinamurthy

Ragarathnam Masters V Dakshinamurthy

Welcome to Sharjah-Dubai traffic battleground

Welcome to Sharjah-Dubai traffic battleground
By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter GULF NEWS

There is no let-up in traffic congestion. And despite all the projects announced, or even completed, the traffic is only getting worse.

Motorists continue to suffer in traffic as it takes at least four hours for a round trip between Sharjah and Dubai during peak hours. Authorities from both emirates insist that motorists use alternative routes but all of them are choked with heavy traffic.

Traffic congestion is getting worse despite all the measures being taken to ensure smooth traffic flow.

The expansion of roads and the new road networks have proved to be insufficient as they fail to keep pace with the rapidly increasing population and the number of vehicles.

Other initiatives taken by authorities including the Salik toll system have not made any difference rather it has led to traffic snarl-ups on Salik-free roads.

Traffic congestion is also taking its toll on people's health and their performance in the workplace.

According to official statistics, the number of vehicles increased by more than 100 per cent in Dubai during the last four years from 415,242 to 853,827. More than 1.2 million vehicles including those registered in other emirates and neighbouring GCC countries travel on Dubai roads every day.

The average occupancy is just 1.7 person per vehicle in Dubai. Currently, only 6 per cent of the total population uses public transport. School transport constitutes around 18 per cent of peak hour traffic.

Vehicles in Dubai take about 3.2 million trips a day, which is expected to increase to 14.1 million trips a day by 2020.

It has become difficult to get out of Sharjah during morning peak hours and it is equally frustrating to enter Sharjah because of the inadequacy of the road network to cope with the heavy flow.

The traffic situation within Dubai and Sharjah emirates has also worsened. Crossings such as Al Maktoum Bridge and Al Shindagha Tunnel remain choked most of the time.

Gulf News' photographers monitored all the major roads linking Dubai and Sharjah only to find there is no escape from the traffic congestion.