Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Obituary: Salar Takes MIM To New Political Heights Beyond Hyderabad


September 30, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 29: Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi was an astute politician who manoeuvred
his Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen from a fledging party to a national political entity. Today MIM is the most influential Muslim political party in the country with 50 corporators (in the erstwhile municipal corporation of Hyderabad and other civic bodies in the State), five legislators and an MP. The MIM is part of the United Progressive Alliance led by the Congress at the Centre.
Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi took over the reins of the MIM from his father Abdul Wahed Owaisi at a very young age when the party was passing through a troubled phase after the Police Action. Young Owaisi ran the party when his father was jailed for 10 months after the then government took a decision to ban the Majlis.
A self-made leader Owaisi made his political debut in the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad when he was elected from Mallepally in 1960. His political strategy paid off and MIM's strength in the Hyderabad Parliamentary constituency went up from a mere 58,000 votes in 1962 to the magical winning numbers in 1984. By 1980 the MIM had the support of 1.12 lakh voters. The vote-share doubled in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections to over four lakh from 2.2 lakh votes in 1984 LS polls.
Owaisi played a key role as the chief of Babri Masjid Action Committee on the controversial Ayodhya issue. He stepped down after the demolition of the mosque. Though he faced strong opposition from his one-time lieutenant Mohammad Amanullah Khan, Owaisi successfully consolidated his base in the old city. Amanullah had differed with Owaisi on the Babri issue accusing him of colluding with the Hindutva forces.

Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi: The Salar of Hyderabad is no more


September 30, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 29: Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen supremo and six-time MP Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, who ruled the Hyderabad city politics for over five decades, died here on Monday evening following a brief illness.
He was 72 and is survived by wife, three sons and a daughter. His eldest son Asaduddin Owaisi is Hyderabad MP and second son Akbaruddin Owaisi is the floor leader of the MIM in the State Assembly. His youngest son Burhanuddin Owaisi edits the popular Urdu daily Etemaad.
A pall of gloom descended on the old city of Hyderabad as the news of his death spread. People observed an undeclared bandh as mark of respect to the senior Muslim political leader.
Owaisi had been ailing from a heart problem for quite some time and was admitted to a corporate hospital about 10 days ago. His condition improved following the admission, but suddenly deteriorated on Monday afternoon. He was brought to his residence in Himayatnagar in the evening and was declared dead later in the night.
The body will be brought to MIM headquarters Darus Salam at about 10.30 am on Tuesday for people to pay their last homage. It will be kept in state till 1.00 pm. The funeral prayers (Namaz-e-Janaza) will be held at the Darus Salam grounds after the noon (Zohar) prayers. Later, the body will be taken in a procession to the dargah of Hazrat Muhammad Hasan Sahib Qibla Abul Aliya at Aghapura where it will be laid to rest with State honours.
Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, who is presently in New Delhi, is cutting short his trip and returning to Hyderabad on Tuesday morning to participate in Owaisi's funeral. The State government has announced a public holiday in Hyderabad on Tuesday as mark of respect to the departed leader.
Popularly known as "Salar" or commander, Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi is credited with strengthening the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen after he took over its reins from his father Abdul Wahed Owaisi. Owaisi brought a sea change in the literacy levels of Muslims in the State after he introduced a number of educational institutions. Several Muslim leaders followed suit and started their own schools and professional colleges.
A host of leaders cutting across partylines visited Owaisi's residence at Himayatnagar to offer floral tributes. Governor ND Tiwari, TD chief N Chandrababu Naidu, APCC chief D Srinivas, besides Rajasekhar Reddy condoled the death of Owaisi and described him as a senior Muslim leader, who stood for the cause of the poor, backward classes and minorities.
Born on February 14, 1936 he started his political career as a corporator in 1960 and represented the State Assembly for 22 years from 1962 to 1984 and the Lok Sabha for 20 years from 1984 to 2004.

Many Muslims to stay away from meat this Eid as mark of reverence to Mahatma Gandhi


September 30, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Many Muslims in the State have decided to keep off non-vegetarian dishes this Id-ul-fitr in case it falls on October 2, Gandhi Jayanthi, as a mark of reverence to the Father of the Nation.
Gandhi Jayanthi is a no-meat day and Muslims do not want to break the Rule. Id-ul-fitr may fall on October 1 or October 2 depending on the sighting of the new crescent. If the Id is celebrated on October 1, the traditional festival dishes will include non-vegetarian items like biryani. And what if the Id is celebrated on October 2? Then only wheat and milk items like vermicelli, besides the biryani, of course vegetarian, or bagara chawal (fried rice).
“Id celebrations have nothing to do with food. Id means offering prayers and charity. These two things are essential. Wearing new clothes and preparing dishes is just a part of the tradition and have nothing to with the religious rites. I will stay away from non-vegetarian dishes if the Id is celebrated on Gandhi Jayanthi,” says Syed Fazil Hussain Parvez, who edits the popular Urdu weekly Gawah.
All slaughterhouses in the country remain closed on Gandhi Jayanthi to allow only vegetarian diet as mark of respect to the Father of the Nation, who stood for non-violence and peace. But there’s no restriction on chicken stalls. The government has imposed ban on sale of beef and meat while sale of chicken is permitted. Though chicken sales are allowed, many Muslims do not want to include non-veg dishes in the Id menu.
Senior Islamic scholar Peerzada Shabbir Naqshbandi, who heads the All-India Religious Leaders’ Association, said he too would stick to the traditional wheat and milk dishes of the Id. “Mahatma Gandhi had done so much for the nation. We Muslims are particularly thankful to the father of the nation. It’s because of him India is secular and Muslims are safe.
It’s no great sacrifice if we stay away from non-veg for a day as mark of respect to Mahatma Gandhi,” he added.
Islamic scholar Hafiz Syed Shujath Hussain clarified that food items are an individual’s choice and the religion had no role in it. “Islam has laid down dietary laws. Muslims are asked to stick to them. Eating veg or non-veg depends on one’s preference. There’s no compulsion as far as food is concerned. One is free to eat the food of his or her choice. Linking food with the Id is not a correct practice. Id is a spiritual event while food is a mundane affair,” he pointed out.
Many Muslim scholars have left the choice of food to individuals. But they all agree that staying away from non-veg on Gandhi Jayanthi is a step in the right direction.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

KG D6: Team Reliance Achieved It Under All Odds


September 28, 2008
By Syed Akbar

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Over 2000 people, 12000 tonnes of equipment, 90 marine vessels
and waters as deep as 8000 ft.
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Team Reliance has done it. The world's largest offshore oil and gas production
system under sea has been put in place in just 27 months with several interruptions in work due to frequent cyclonic storms and rough weather.
Yes, we are talking about Krishna Godavari basin's D-6 block in the Bay of Bengal, where Reliance Industries Limited struck the liquid gold and translated it into a full production system, fighting against all natural hazards, 50 km away from the coast of Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh.
"This event is, no doubt, historic in itself. But there is even better news. For this is just a prelude. Its impact on the fortunes of India... will be enormous, contributing to foreign exchange and import bill savings of $20 billion."
This statement from Reliance Industries Limited chairman Mukesh Ambani, soon after the first few drops of crude oil were extracted from the Krishna-Godavari basin, simply sums up the exhilaration in the RIL camp that spent a little over two years on high seas and beneath the depths of the Bay of Bengal to achieve this rare feat. Yes, the moment was full of excitement and exhilaration as RIL's team of 2000
engineers, technocrats and supervisors disproved the naysayers of the world who had written off India's ability to produce its own oil and gas.
Four decades after India first produced its own crude oil at Bombay High, the Reliance team worked against all odds - storms, cyclones, low pressures, strong water currents - to build a huge oil and gas platform, which is nothing short
of building a high-rise building on the bed of ocean, with water all around and strong currents quite often hitting the men and machinery involved. The task is not simple given the fact that the Bay of Bengal, at its friendliest best, is the most violent host. Bay of Bengal is one of the few ocean spots where violent cyclones and storms are quite frequent.
"This accomplishment marks a strategic and emotional inflection point for every Indian. Getting to this epoch-making event has not been easy. Our people had to fathom the interplay of geology and oceanography. Drilling in uncharted waters under hostile weather, including frequent cyclonic conditions, is always hazardous. We have
operated an efficient supply chain system with sea and air logistics support. Essentially we created an entire production system 8000 ft under the sea. At the peak, we have over 90 sea-going vessels - to create a large production system under the sea," Mukesh Ambani said.
There's no adequate sub-sea data. Added to it is the low sea bed temperature of five degrees C, severe supply chain constraints and shortage of technical manpower. To achieve the marvellous feat earlier than the target, the engineers employed the state-of-the-art technology. Reliance deployed, Dhirubhai-1 FPSO, the first vessel of its kind in Indian waters with the capability to operate in water depths of greater than 1200 metres. It has features that can help withstand harsh sea environment.
From the time of its discovery, RIL has started production of oil in KG-D6
in just over two years making it one of the fastest green-field deep water oil development projects in the world.
The offshore block included the deployment of a 12,000 tonne control riser platform Dhirubhai-1, the floating production, storage and offloading vessel. The FPSO is capable of processing 60,000 barrels of oil per day and 15 million cubic feet per day gas and storing up to 1.3 million barrels of oil. The vessel is also equipped with a disconnectable turret mooring system, insulated manifold and short flexible flow lines, features that can ensure crude oil production even amid tough weather
conditions.
Dhirubhai-1 is stationed at the oil production site and shuttle vessels are used for offloading oil from it. Later, the crude oil is transported to refineries. This eliminates the need for piping the oil to the shore for onward transportation
for purification.
RIL oil and gas chief executive officer PMS Prasad said working at the KG D-6 basin was quite a Herculean task even for the most daring of lots. "We had to shift people during storms.
Moreover, our men worked on the seabed to raise the equipment. Imagine building a huge complex or a high-rise building on the sea bed. This is what we have achieved and that too in a short span. World-wide it takes around a decade to produce oil from the time of its discovery. But we have broken the world record," Prasad said.

Musi Floods 1908: Humanity rules over religion


September 28, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Thousands of people suffered because of the Musi Deluge. Death struck one and all, irrespective of his or her religion.
Soon after the floods Hindus and Muslims gathered into groups and formed special committees to organise relief and rehabilitation of the affected. The Nizam had broken the tradition and offered special prayers to the river goddess to invoke her blessings. Incidentally, the suggestion came from Muslim religious scholars
themselves.
City historians say after the floods Hindu priests and Moulvis approached the Nizam saying that the river goddess was angry and she should propitiate her.
The Nawab dressed in traditional Hindu costumes and kumkum on his face offered valuable gifts of a saree, gold, silver, diamonds, pearls and kumkum to the river, amidst the chanting of mantras. The Musi, which was receding already showed perceptible reduction in depth.
The Nizam opened kitchens were opened in various parts of the city and they functioned till October 13. In all 6.25 lakh people benefited from the relief camp. Eminent engineer Sir Viswesarayya was invited to study the flood conditions and suggest measures for permanent prevention of floods. The result was Osmansagar
and Himayatsagar.
The Nizam and Sir Viswesarayya had tamed the Musi and it continues to be calm. But the encroachments on the river banks and tank beds in and around the city continue to threaten Hyderabad, should there be a heavy downpour. Musi may not cause havoc again, but if Hyderabad witnesses another calamity, it will be man-made, environmentalists warn.
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Musi Floods 1908: Fact File

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Many Hyderabadis know that a huge tree in Kosalwadi (now Osmania General
Hospital) had saved the lives of several people. But what many do not know
is that several trees were washed away in the floods unable to bear the
heavy human load, with scores of people climbing on their branches.
*********
A big tree at Kolsawadi to which about 150 people had clung for safety was
undermined by vortex action and floated down the stream with its human
burden. A large house near the same locality saved several lives.
*********
Water rose within two feet of the roof of the Victoria Zenana Hospital
(maternity hospital). Luckily, there were no casualties. All the women
patients were evacuated.
*********
More people were killed by falling houses, than by drowning.
*********
Around 15,000 people perished in the floods. Over 80,000 houses were damaged.
*********
The combined population of Hyderabad in 1908 was 1,92,861.
*********
The heavy rainfall was due to a cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal.
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The Nizam ordered relief works. Contributions poured in from all over
India and British Empire. About Rs 2 lakh was collected. The Nizam himself
donated Rs 4 lakh from his personal wealth.

Musi Floods 1908: What really happened that fateful day



September 28, 2008
By Syed Akbar
It was September 28, 1908. Indians elsewhere were waging the war of Independence
against the Britishers. Hyderabadis, then under the Nizam's regime, woke up to death and destruction. The sight was pathetic and words beggar description. It was this day, exactly 100 years ago, the calm Musi turned furious and vented its anger on all those that came its way.
Over 15,000 people lay dead and 80,000 houses were razed to the ground. The calamity
was of great magnitude. Hyderabad had not witnessed such a sorrowful event before. The city had received heavy rainfall for just two days beginning September 26, 1908. The casualty was quite high as both the banks of Musi were thickly populated even in those days.As is the case with every river, Musi, otherwise a calm and tame river, turns furious once in a few years. Meteorologist have found that suddenly at intervals of 20 or 30 years, the river becomes swollen for a few hours, overflows and submerges the settlements along the banks. Again, once in 50 or 100 years a more serious flood occurs, sweeping away a great width of the city and levying a heavy toll of human life, cattle and property.
"On September 28, 1908 the river rose to 15 to 20 feet high in the inhabited area on both sides enveloping houses and property. Thousands of people were killed and about one quarter of the entire population was rendered homeless," points out senior city historian Muhammad Safiullah.

In those days the Musi was spanned by four bridges, Puranapul (built in 1578) and
Mussallam Jung, Afzalgunj and Chaderghat, all built in 1860s. According to him, the monsoon rainfall since June 1 that year had been less than normal.
There was no rain till September 26 afternoon. At about 4 pm a sharp shower fell for half-an hour, followed by a drizzle up to 6.30 p.m.
After 9 pm it rained again for another half-an hour. This was not a sharp shower. Then at 11.30 pm. a heavy burst followed which continued well onto the morning. And by 8 am. on Sunday, a rainfall of over six inches was recorded. Rain, now heavy and now light, with occasional stoppages continued throughout Sunday.
After midnight on Sunday it developed into a cloud burst over an extensive area. There is no record about the intensity of this burst, but all accounts agree that it was exceptionally heavy.
"Before this occurred, the tanks in the catchment of the river were full and the ground everywhere supersaturated. The rain descended in sheets, flooded the small tanks and over burdened their weak weirs. As a result, one tank after another gave way. The largest of these intercepting tanks are the Palmakul tank and the Parti reservoir, both in the Yentair river valley. The heaviest rainfall was recorded at Shamshabad in the vicinity of these two tanks. The rain fall gauge on Monday morning was 12.80 inches in 24 hours.
Never since regular rainfall records began to be maintained that the total daily rainfall exceeded even half this amount," Safiullah said while browsing through old chronicles on the Musi deluge.
At 6 am on Sunday there was about four feet water in the river. By 10 am the water level went up to 20 ft. By 12 noon water flowed from bank to bank and began to enter houses in Kolsawadi.
This is the present site of Osmania General Hospital. By 4 pm the water stood several feet over the Kolsawadi road. The first serious warning came at about 2 am on Monday morning. Water headed up behind Puranapul and breached the city rampart wall on the west side at about 3 am.
Sudden dangerous rise began at about 7 am and by 9 am the bridges had all been
overtopped. By 10 am the Imlibun island was completely under water. The greatest depth of water above the general bed level of the river varied from 38 to 45 feet. The flood receded by 8 pm but not before creating havoc. More people were killed by falling houses, than by drowning.

Musi Deluge 100 years later: Lessons not learnt yet


September 28, 2008
By Syed Akbar
One hundred years have passed since Hyderabad witnessed the fury of the otherwise tame Musi on September 28, 1908. The city, then a small royal town with no technological advancement, was ill-prepared for the unprecedented havoc. And even now, 100 years later, modern megapolis Hyderabad continues to be ill-prepared to meet any eventuality, in case the heavens decide to open up once again.
The Nizam, despite the limited technology and infrastructure available in those times, woke up quickly to the problem and got two major reservoirs, Osmansagar and
Himayatsagar, constructed across the river to protect the city.

The reservoirs saved Hyderabad of those days. With the haphazard growth of the city and encroachments on its river and tank beds in the recent decades, the problem is back to square one.
The then rulers had learnt lessons from the Musi floods and made quick amends. But the State government continues to sit on the flood mitigation plan that was drawn up eight years ago, after Hyderabad witnessed floods during August 2000, almost reminiscent of the great deluge of 1908. The city is still unable to take more than 12 cm of rainfall in a day.

All the grandiose plans of the State government to protect Hyderabadis from heavy floods continue to gather dust in official cupboards with no sight of immediate implementation, even as the Hyderabadis pay homage to the victims of the Great Musi Deluge that had left human suffering and misery in its wake.

Open Source Drug Discovery: Now Everyone Can Contribute To Drug Research


September 28, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 27: Students, homemakers and common people can now rub shoulders with researchers, technocrats and scientists in India's race to discover new drugs to control a host of diseases afflicting its populations.
Thanks to a new initiative by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, anyone from any part of the world can contribute for the discovery of new medicines for major health problems like tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis and Kala Azar. The Open Source Drug Discovery programme, to be launched formally in Hyderabad on Sunday
coinciding with the Human Genome Meeting here, aims at providing an opportunity to all and sundry to contribute their mite for discovery and development of new drug molecules and ultimately medicines.
The CSIR wants to make drug discovery a public domain and not limited to just a few multinational pharmaceutical companies. The drug molecules discovered and drugs developed through the OSDD initiative will be quite affordable and within the reach of the ordinary citizens, who otherwise do not have access to costly multinational
drugs.
"Debilitating diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and Kala Azar are scars for the tropical countries. No multinational company will invest in drugs for these diseases, because the paying capacity of the afflicted population cannot meet
the expectations of profit. Market mechanisms fail, because the incentives
of innovation are absent. We have to design different paradigm and architecture to tackle the diseases of the common man and the poor man," said Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal.
Delivering the inaugural address at the Human Genome Meeting, organised by
Human Genome Organisation, on Saturday, Kapil Sibal said the OSDD was the raison detre for public funded research to continue in India and the tropical countries.
The Ministry of Science and Technology has drawn inspiration from Human Genome Organisation to conceive the collaborative platform for drug discovery for diseases, otherwise neglected by mainstream pharma industry. The OSDD programme, spearheaded by CSIR as a team-India consortium with global partnership, envisages making
affordable health a reality for the developing world.
"It harnesses the collaborative power of the internet to bring massive
computing ability into the drug discovery process. It is a landmark experiment in democratising research by allowing students, researchers, scientists, traditional healers, doctors, private sector or anyone who wants to participate in this drug discovery process," said Prof Samir Brahmachari, director-general of CSIR.
At present drug discoveries are made within the four walls of pharma laboratories. They maintain a high degree of secrecy and do not involve outsiders. Brahmachari said the OSDD programme was thought of to capture intelligent brains from around the world. He said once drug molecules are discovered, help of charitable organisations would be sought to fund the drug development process.
The programme also aims to apply the knowledge of pharmacogenomics to keep the cost of patent drugs quite low. "We want the system to be a novel web-enabled open source platform by utilising the creative potential of college and university students. The participants will get incentives for their contribution.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Security concern in mosques this Ramadhan


September 27, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 26: Security has been on the priority list of mosque committees in the city this Muslim holy month of Ramazan with incidents of terror attacks on the rise, of late.
Breaking the religious tradition of avoiding cameras and TVs in holy places, management committees of several mosques in the city have installed closed circuit cameras to keep a tab on the movement of people visiting mosques. At least a dozen mosque committees have gone in for CC TV cameras.
The State government has already installed CC TV cameras in the two mosques under its control, the historic Mecca Masjid near Charminar and the Royal Mosque in Public Gardens at Nampally. Since most of the mosques do not have fixed monthly income, the committees raised special funds as part of the Ramazan drive to set up closed circuit cameras.
"We are also thinking of erecting metal detectors. But the cost involved is too high for us to bear. With great difficulty we could gather money for the CC cameras. Places of worship including mosques have become favourite target spots of terrorists. The best way to prevent attacks is to keep a close watch on those
visiting places of worship. We have also received a communique from the police on the need for high security measures in mosques," said Shabbir Ahmad, custodian of Ibrahim Gulshan mosque at Borabanda in the city.
Religious leaders, who generally oppose photography as part of Muslim tradition, have now endorsed the move by some committees to set up CC TV cameras. "Why should we oppose, when the move is quite good. There are cameras even in the Grand Mosque in Mecca," said Khaleeq Ahmad Saber, general secretary of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Andhra Pradesh.
He demanded that the government should provide subsidy to management committees of temples, mosques, churches and Gurudwaras to set up metal detectors and CC TV cameras. "There should not be any police interference. It should be purely on voluntary basis," he said adding that CC TV cameras will expose the real terrorists and save innocent people from police harassment and torture.
"We are unnecessarily being targetted. Muslims themselves are the victims of terrorism in Mecca Masjid and several mosques across the country. Cameras in all places of worship irrespective of religion will help check terrorism and anti-social activities," senior Muslim religious leader Shabbir Naqshbandi told this
correspondent.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Ambani strikes it rich in KG Basin: Oil Production Starts


September 22, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Mumbai, Sept 21: Reliance Industries Limited has commenced production of hydrocarbons in its KG-D6 block of Krishna-Godavari Basin pushing India towards energy independence.
RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani on Sunday announced that the initial crude oil production of about 5,000 barrels per day would be increased to 5.5 lakh barrels per day over the next six to eight quarters. ¡§A first of its kind hydrocarbons production from any deep water field in the country, Reliance KG-D6 will account for 40 per cent of country¡¦s current indigenous hydrocarbon production,¡¨ Mukesh said adding that the production from KG-D6 facility will save India an annual foreign exchange outflow of US$20 billion.
He said from the time of its discovery, RIL had started production of oil in KG-D6 in just over two years making it one of the fastest green-field deep water oil development projects in the world.
¡§This production has been achieved against challenges like difficult ocean conditions, lack of adequate sub-sea data, low sea bed temperature (5ƒ¿ C), severe supply chain constraints and shortage of technical manpower,¡¨ he said.
The KG-D6 Block of Reliance is located in the Bay of Bengal at a water depth of 8000 ft. and 50 kms from the nearest coast of Kakinada. With this production, the East Coast of India is set to emerge as a world class hydrocarbon hub. Reliance will also start its gas production in the next couple of months.
The production at KG-D6 blocks comes 40 years after Bombay High was discovered. ¡§This has huge significance for India¡¦s economic development, enabling India¡¦s farmers to access energy and drastically reducing pollution in cities and towns. It will also provide distributed power to urban and rural areas in a much shorter time than we are able to do at present,¡¨ he said.
India¡¦s current hydrocarbon oil and gas production is 1.3 million barrels of equivalent per day. With Reliance¡¦s contribution in the energy sector, the country¡¦s indigenous production of hydrocarbons will increase by over 40 per cent in the next 18 months.
Reliance¡¦s targeted production of 5,50,000 barrels per day of hydrocarbons can feed cooking gas to 100 million to 120 million households, reducing subsidy burden on the government.
¡§Now it is possible to provide natural gas to over 50 million two-wheelers, five million cars and 10 million trucks. It is now possible to provide distributed power generation for thousands of megawatts of power. This can meet the requirement of lighting for over 80 million households,¡¨ Mukesh said.
This landmark development culminates 27 months of painstaking efforts by over 2000 engineers and personnel. RIL has joined the elite club of Deep Water Operators, very few in the world. With this, RIL is also amongst the top 20 energy companies in the world. ¡§This will enable Reliance to create unprecedented value for our shareholders,¡¨ he added.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Pictorial Hyderabad: Hyderabad of Those Days

September 17, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Book Review/Pictorial Hyderabad
Author: K Krishna Swamy Mudiraj
Hyderabad has always fascinated people far and wide. Travellers, historians, archaeologists and social scientists have, down the ages, made attempts to rediscover Hyderabad. And yet the city remains as enigmatic as ever. The more one wants to discover this city of love, monuments and pearls, the more one is left intrigued.
Politician, advocate and journalist K Krishna Swamy Mudiraj, an eminent personality of his times, made one such attempt to read Hyderabad, its nobles, its people, its culture, his history, its monuments and its literature. The result is the two-volume, Pictorial Hyderabad. The book published about 70 years ago is still in high demand as it was in late 1920s. The fresh reprint of Pictorial Hyderabad was recently released for the benefit of historians, researchers and the common man alike.
Krishna Swamy Mudiraj presents a vivid description of the life and times of Hyderabad of yore, the erstwhile royal Hyderabad State to be precise. The book is backed by high quality and rare photographs which give an insight into the lifestyles and living standards of Hyderabadis, two decades before India became free.
Pictorial Hyderabad is of a high literary standard. When it was published in 1929 Indian and foreign newspapers alike came out with rave reviews. Krishna Swamy Mudiraj was born in a simple middle class family but rose to prominence through sheer hard work and his dedication to the cause of the downtrodden.
The book is not a mere historical, geographical or biographical record of Hyderabad. It contains all that is required to have a transparent picture of the then Hyderabad State, the administration of its rulers, its culture, its traditions, its quality, its finances, its difficulties, its living conditions, the historical aspect of its rulers, ancestors, and activities of all its jagirdars, zamindars, nawabs, bureaucrats and others.
Krishna Swamy Mudiraj explains the reasons behind the publication of the book. He says, “my purpose to publish Pictorial Hyderabad is that there should be an unvarnished and faithful record of all that has been done during the rule of the illustrious of the Great House of Asaf Jah. It is aimed to place on record the wonderful and fascinating history of this State”.
Pictorial Hyderabad contains very high quality photographs of rare nature. Almost every second page of the book contains a photograph. Certain photographs of this book are not at all available anywhere. Special photographs of the Durbar Hall of the Sixth Nizam in golden paint are the rare collection.

The photographs of various temples, mosques, forts, palaces, gardens, parks, hospitals, offices and the places of market etc depict the real cultural and social aspect of the period. The pictures showing the costumes, dresses, methods of hunting, living huts, houses and ornaments of the tribal folk of then Hyderabad state is another noteworthy photographic work of Krishna Swamy.
If what the author says is true, Hyderabad police of those days was the best in the country.
“As there is no Arms Act one can have in the city proper as may daggers, swords and stilettos as one fancies. One might suppose that with such freedom, murder and crimes must of necessity be of frequent occurrence. This is not the case. The city of Hyderabad is as law abiding as any city in India and it has a police, which where its CID is concerned, can beat several British cities. In fact, some one who knew India well recently declared that the Hyderabad city CID is the best in India. Crime that is not detected within 12 hours of its taking place is of rare occurrence. If the people of Hyderabad are noted for anything, it is for their unbounded hospitality”.
Giving glimpses of the religious culture of the people of those days, Krishna Swamy says, “religion played no part whatsoever in the selection and appointment of prime minister. In any case, religion never entered into any of the party whirlpools or maelstroms. Mohammedans supported Hindus, and Hindus supported Mohammedans and Mohammedans went against
Mohammedans and Hindus went against Hindus. Hyderabad state was free from such religious antagonism. It was absent in the court; It was absent in commercial intercourse; it was absent in public life; and altogether entirely absent in the cottages and hamlets of the countryside.”
Several traditions and annual events that used to take place in Hyderabad are no more on the list these days. One such was the langar festival. The langar is a festival peculiar to Hyderabad and though it is celebrated in the month of Moharrum it is in no way connected with it. The langar procession consists of a march
past of the whole military before the minister and High Highness the Nizam. They consist of the regular forces, the Golconda Brigade, the Paigah, or household troops and the irregulars etc... Their total strength between 20,000 and 30,000.

Ramzan special: The mutliple benefits of Fitra

2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: As the Id approaches, millions of poor people in the country eagerly wait for the distribution of Fitra as it helps them join the festivities with others. Fitra is a compulsory charity to be paid before the Id prayers by every Muslim, who is not poor. In fact, Id-ul-Fitr derives its name from Fitra. It means the feast of alms-giving or charity.
According to a rough estimate, at least Rs 20 crore is spent on Fitra by Muslims in Andhra Pradesh alone. The distribution of Fitra starts on the 27th day of Ramzan and ends before the start of the Id prayers. Fitra is calculated at the rate of 2.045 kgs of staple food grains a family eats. If a family consumes rice worth Rs 18 a kg, the fitra for every individual member in that family works out to around Rs 37.
Says Hafiz Shujat Hussain, "fasting during Ramzan does not attain perfection without Fitra. This charity should be distributed either in kind or cash to the deserving people before the Id prayers. Some Muslim scholars say if it is not possible for some reason to distribute the fitra within the stipulated period, the amount may be set apart and disbursed when the needy are available".
Id-ul-Fitr is the biggest festival of Islam. It is also one of the two great Ids celebrated all over the Muslim world, the other being Id-ul-Azha or the festival of sacrifice.
According to Islamic scholar Moulana Abdul Kareem, Id-ul-Fitr or Ramzan Id as it is locally called, was first celebrated in Islamic history in the second year of Hegira (Muslim calendar) since fasting was made compulsory from that year. Since Id-ul-Fitr is the thanksgiving to the Almighty after the completion of the Blessed month of Ramzan, during which fasting is a must on all Muslims, Muslim elders generally believe that the first Id was celebrated by the Prophet and his companions in the second year of Hegira.
Stating that Muslim festivals are not just occasions for celebrations with tasty foods, costly clothes and meeting friends and relatives, senior advocate AK Basha points out that the concept of Fitra has been introduced to remove economic and social imbalances in society. Fitra will help the poor to purchase new clothes and other requirements and they too will join the celebrations. The poor will have at least two square meals on the Id day. All the members of a family should pay the Fitra to the deserving and needy; first preference goes to the poor neighbours, then relatives and friends.
There is a belief among Muslims that a non-Syed cannot give Fitra to a Syed whereas a Syed can give Fitra to Syeds and non-Syeds.
Besides striving to remove economic imbalances in society, Fitra serves as a platform for social unity and oneness of the mankind. In the Id prayers all - the rich and the poor, man and child, the mighty and the low - stand together in one line invoking the favour and mercy of God on all the earthlings, forgetting their petty physical differences.
Once the Id prayers are over, Muslims return to their houses and join the Id celebrations with their family members. Before returning home, many march to the nearest graveyard to offer prayers to their beloved ones. Offering prayers at graveyards and distributing alms among the poor waiting outside is regarded as a pious deed.
In a Muslim family the Id begins with the early morning prayers. After the prayers, members take bath and wear new clothes. They consume special porridge prepared from vermicelli. While the women offer prayers at home, the men and children visit the nearest Idaho for the annual Id prayers, which is obligatory on all adult Muslims. Some visit mosques but the congregation at the Idgah is preferred.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Megalithic site found: Hyderabad is 2500 years old


September 10, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 9: Hyderabad is not just 400 years old. Its history goes back to 500
BC, says the State Department of Archaeology.
Excavations carried out by the State Department of Archaeology and Museums revealed iron age burials in Hyderabad. "The history of Hyderabad goes back to the Neolithic period as some stone implements of the new stone age are recovered from Kethepalli village," according to Prof P Chenna Reddy, director of archaeology.
The department has also discovered an iron age site studded with Cairn Circles, also
called megalithic burials, close to the entrance of Ramoji Film City on Hyderabad-
Vijayawada national highway. These burials are located in a patta land, he said.
The burials, according to Prof Chenna Reddy, are spread in an extent of five acres in
survey No. 124 and are in the possession of a farmer, B Mallaiah. The burials date
back to 500 BC. "Unless systematic and archaeological excavations are carried out,
we cannot further evaluate on the details of these burial sites," he said.
Hyderabad, Secunderabad and surrounding areas harbour a good number of iron age
sites. Similar burials were discovered at Moulali, Hashmathpet, Kothaguda Botanical
Gardens and Lingampalli (University of Hyderabad).
The burials at Moulali were excavated by then department of archaeology of the
Nizam's Dominion in 1935 and the ones at Hashmathpet were opened by Birla archaeological and Cultural Research Institute during 1978. Both the places yielded
iron implements and pottery reflecting the material culture of the people of the iron
age.
The department of archaeology reopened the burials at Hashmathpet and recovered
valuable artefacts including iron implements, human bones and pottery.
Buoyed by the success at these sites, the department took up excavation at Hayatnagar
on the Vijayawada highway and discovered the megalithic burials. The latest excavations take back the history of Hyderabad to at least 2500 years. Earlier, the
history of the city was linked to the Golconda fort and many believed that it was not
older than 1000 years.
"We will continue with the excavations at the new site as it has great potential from
the archaeological and historical point of view. We need to protect these sites before the real estate boom eats into them, erasing the early historical records
of Hyderabad," he said.
The archaeological team that took up the excavation included Mr Aleem, conservation
assistant and Mr A Janardhan Reddy, assistant stapathi, besides Prof Chenna Reddy.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Hippocampus tales: NIO scientists breed Indian Seahorse in captivity


September 8, 2008
By Syed Akbar
In a major ecological exercise a team of scientists at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, has successfully produced seahorses in captivity. The success of NIO's captive breeding of this endangered marine species will help in populating Indian and other oceans with seahorses or Hippocampus. A notable feature of seahorses is that the male of the species gives birth to young ones.
The NIO researchers have selected Indian Seahorse, Hippocampus kuda, for the experiment since its population has been dwindling. Hippocampus kuda or Yellow Seahorse belongs to the fascinating group of fishes of the genus Hippocampus. It is also called Spotted Seahorse.
Senior NIO scientist Dr Rayadurga Ananta Sreepada told this correspondent that they had collected juvenile seahorses from the wild. The juvenile animals were grown to maturity and allowed to form pair bonding, mate, complete gestation and spawning under captive conditions through manipulation of feed and environmental conditions. The seahorse project is funded by the Department of Biotechnology.
"Two male seahorses delivered 320 juveniles. Both the daddies and the babies are being taken care at the Aquaculture Laboratory - the Fraternity Home. The juvenile
seahorses are presently passing through a very critical of their survival since they shift from pelagic phase to the settlement phase. This 15 days period will end on September 13," he said.
Seahorses are remarkable with their unusual body shape and their biology, with males incubating the fertilised eggs in a brood pouch. They belong to the family,
Syngnathidae. They inhabit many ecologically sensitive aquatic habitats, including coral reefs, sea grasses, mangroves and estuaries, with most species in the Indo-Pacific and western Atlantic region.
"Extraordinary myths surround them. Ironically, it is their very popularity that places them in danger, as they are sought in large numbers for use in traditional
medicine, aquarium fish and curios (souvenirs). It has been conservatively estimated that at least 20 million seahorses (56 million tonnes) are being caught annually for the traditional medicine market," Dr Sreepada said.
More than one million live sea horses are caught for aquarium trade, mostly destined for sale in North America. India was contributing to about 30 per cent of global
seahorse trade until 2001 and now all species of seahorses have been brought under the schedule I of the Wild Life Act, 1972 to prohibit exploitation.
The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species has placed all species of seahorses under Appendix II which means that captive breeding could be undertaken
for stock enhancement programme and aquaculture purposes.
"We are confident that standardisation of hatchery rearing and mass culture of seahorses will be helpful in their conservation, of reproduction meeting ever-increasing demand in traditional medicine and marine aquarium trade. In addition, development of such technology will provide an alternative livelihood or supplementary income to the fisher folk and self-help groups in the coastal areas of the country," he said.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Nuclear Suppliers Group's waiver of embargo against India: Hyderabad to play a global role


By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Sept 6: The Nuclear Suppliers Group's decision to lift trade embargo on India will push Hyderabad onto the international nuclear map with the city-based Nuclear Fuel Complex and private companies playing a major role in the world atomic market.
The NFC, controlled by the Department of Atomic Energy, will emerge a key player in nuclear energy not only in India but also in the international arena. The Complex has been single-handedly meeting the requirements of the country's nuclear energy needs despite NSG's trade embargo on India during the past 34 years. And it has built up self-reliance in nuclear fuel sector by encouraging private companies to assist it through certain critical components required for nuclear power stations.
"With the lifting of the embargo NFC may go global. It has the capacity to provide critical support to anyone in the world. In fact, NFC is the only institution of its kind in the world where natural and enriched uranium fuel, zirconium alloy cladding and reactor core components are manufactured under one roof starting from the raw materials," says a senior official of the Complex.
Moreover, Hyderabad has several ancillary units supplying components to NFC and other defence organisations. Now that decks have been cleared, these firms are likely to take up international deals, boosting India's role in the world nuclear sector. NFC and its supporting firms have already established their credentials by producing the excellent quality of nuclear fuel that enabled India's nuclear power plants to reach a global record of more than 90 per cent plant load factor. "NFC is ready to meet the increased demand for nuclear fuel that is expected to arise in the future," the official said. Already NFC is supplying 700 tonnes of uranium oxide to
the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.
NFC has the capability to supply sub-assemblies and all stainless steel hardware including tubes, bars, sheets and springs for operating the fast breeder test reactor and prototype fast breeder reactor. The special materials plant at NFC manufactures high value, low volume, high purity special materials like tantalum, niobium, gallium and indium for applications in electronics, aerospace and defense sectors.
"A notable feature at the Nuclear Fuel Complex is that, apart from in-house process development, a lot of encouragement is given to the Indian industry for fabrication of plant equipments and automated systems," the NFC's official website points out highlighting the role the local industry is going the play in the area.
The Uranium Oxide Plant processes crude uranium concentrate to pure uranium di-oxide powder while the Ceramic Fuel Fabrication Plant produces sintered uranium oxide pellets. It has also the facility to process imported enriched uranium hexafluoride to enriched uranium oxide powder. Now this facility will get a boost in the post-NSG waiver.
According to sources, Hyderabad-based industries including NFC are likely to generate revenues of about Rs 500 crore initially once they go global. Many more private players are likely to join the race as India alone is poised to generate 20,000 mw nuclear power in the next 12 years. Moreover, it will also bring in foreign investments leading to mushrooming of nuclear power plants. Also Andhra Pradesh has sufficiently large resources of nuclear material and the State may attract investments once uranium mining in the State takes a concrete shape.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Menstrual blood can save a life


September 1, 2008
By Syed Akbar
After the placental blood, scientists have now turned their attention to the
menstrual blood. Scientists have clinically established that blood that flows
during the monthly periods in women has several health benefits including the unique property to improve blood circulation and create different tissues.
In short, menstrual blood can save life in certain critical health problems.
Menstrual blood gets its properties mainly because of the presence of endometrial regenerative cells. Using mouse models with peripheral artery disease, a team of scientists at Indiana University, USA, has demonstrated that endometrial regenerative cells when injected into mice suffering from blocked circulation, will restore the blood circulation and functionality.
The team was led by senior vascular surgeon Dr Michael Murphy. The researchers have also found out that ERCs from menstrual blood are quite helpful in treating critical limb ischemia. Presently, there is no medical or surgical treatment to the problem. Menstrual blood is the only hope for such patients.
According to Dr Murphy, who has already demonstrated clinical trials with adult stem cells, ERCs from menstrual blood are capable of forming into at least nine different tissue types, including heart, liver and lung. "The advantage of ERCs is that they can be used in an off the shelf manner, meaning they can be delivered to the point of care, do not require matching, and are easily injectable without the need for complex equipment," he points out.
In another research study led by Dr Xiaolong Meng of the Bio-Communications Research Institute in Wichita, Kansas, USA, the menstrual blood contains a new type of stem cells that hold a great medical potential. The new stem cells can be reproducibly isolated from menstrual blood drawn from healthy women.
Unlike the stem cells drawn from bone marrow or placenta which have side effects including chances of rejection by recipients, those from the menstrual blood have the potential to generate tissues fast and effectively. The menstrual blood will help overcome such problems.
The scientists from Kansas said menstrual blood contains cell types which can be cultured in the laboratory. They replicate almost 70 times in a very rapid time span. This replication rate is far faster than cells which are presently drawn from placental or umbilical cord blood and bone marrow. The growth rate of ERCs is one lakh times more than those from the placental blood.
"Just 5 ml of menstrual blood collected from a healthy woman will provide enough cells which after two weeks of culture provided beating heart cells," he said.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Global warming to create severe rice shortage


September 1, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Aug 29: There will be severe shortage of rice as average temperature goes up due to global warming.
A study on the "effect of climate change on rice" carried out by the city-based Directorate of Rice Research has revealed that global warming will reduce the potentiality of photosynthesis in paddy, thereby bringing down the overall yield. Photosynthesis is a natural process through which plants use the sunlight to prepare
their food. Any change in the photosynthesis process will affect flowering and thus yields.
This is the first time that a study has been conducted on how global warming and consequent climate change will hit rice yields. The study was conducted by DRR in association with the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture.
The DRR-CRIDA team selected one month old seedlings of rice genotypes (Krishna Hamsa, rice hybrid DRRH2). They then raised them in pots in ambient atmosphere. Later, the saplings were transferred into open top chambers with control (ambient) or 550 ppm carbon dioxide enriched atmosphere using the automated system facility developed in the CRIDA.
The team imposed carbon dioxide treatment everyday from 9.30 am 4.30 pm and continued the process till flowering. At flowering, they measured leaf characteristics such as photosynthesis, stomatal (leaf opening) conductance, transpiration, air and leaf temperatures. Soil samples were also analysed for differences in nematode (useful worms) population.
The results showed that, irrespective of genotypes, there was a reduction in photosynthesis by about 25 per cent. There was also reduction of 36-38 per cent in leaf conductance and transpiration rates under elevated carbon dioxide condition as compared with the control. Differences between air and leaf temperatures under
ambient and elevated carbon dioxide conditions were eight per cent and 12 per cent,
respectively.
The study found that with increased concentration of carbon dioxide, there was a reduction in nematodes in the soil.

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Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity