In a first, banana farmers in Kerala have come together to constitute an association in an effort aimed at resolving issues they have been suffering for long. Veterans as well as current farmers in the banana farming sector in the state have given shape to the Banana Farmers Association (BFA). Paving the way for the formation of such an body was the Thiruvananthapuram-based Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA), which had successfully organized the first ever National Banana Festival in Kerala last year.
It was after the National Banana Festival that the need for such an organization was thought about. CISSA had been continuing with its efforts across panchayats, and inspiring banana farmers to come together to form a common platform so that their voices also could be heard. According to Dr. C. Suresh Kumar, General Secretary, CISSA, banana cultivation is almost a household practice in Kerala. A large number of farmers with many decades of experience in banana farming had turned up for the debut meeting.
“If banana farming survives the tests of time in the state, it is chiefly attributed to the notably large number of smallholder farmers. Though the farmers of many plantations crops have their own associations, the banana farmers have not yet had an organization of their own, political patronage or benevolence of god fathers, Dr. Suresh Kumar said.
“Even as Kerala continue lamenting of a declining number of its farmers, the number of farmers who are into banana farming in the State seems otherwise”, he added
CISSA's intervention was mainly aimed at plugging this gap between mainstream cultivations and banana farming. The principal objective behind such a move was to offer the much needed support to hitherto unorganized and neglected banana sector. During the last few months, a number of meetings were organized under CISSA’s initiation to openly communicate with banana farmers at the panchayat-level, which eventually led to the constitution of the Banana Farmers Association (BFA).
Following the formation of the BFA, there was a passionate call by its inaugural office bearers to stand hand in hand for bringing back the deserving place for banana in the agro economy of Kerala. Sreekumar, an agriculture scientist-turned-farmer, was elected the first president of the BFA. “Currently, farmers from the vicinity of the capital district form the association’s members. We are looking to spread the message and bring more banana farmers from across Kerala into the BFA fold. The current office-bearers have voluntarily expressed their willingness to offer whatever they can for strengthening the platform”, said. Sreekumar.
According to Sreekumar, Kerala, which has the largest banana diversity, mainly consumes the raw banana fruits. “Manifold benefits contained in the banana tree are yet to be popularized in our state. Recently, there were newspaper reports on the health benefits of consuming Vazhakoombu (the bud of banana flower) that underlines the medical significance of the plant,” he added.
Dr. Suresh Kumar reiterated CISSA’s commitment in offering support in all possible ways to entrepreneurs who come forward to explore the huge scope of value addition in the sector. “An enthusiastic entrepreneur can tap hefty economic benefits inherent in the fruit, fiber, pseudo stem, leaves and inflorescence of banana tree,” he said.
Padma Shri Parassala Ponnamal , Padma Bhushan T V Gopalakrishnan to receive the first “Nishagandhi Sangeetha Puraskaram”
Eminent classical musicians Padma Shri Parassala B Ponnammal and Padma Bhushan Dr. T V. Gopalakrishnan have been selected for the inaugural Nishagandhi Sangeetha Puraskaram, instituted by Kerala Tourism to honour artists who have made outstanding contributions to music. Shri Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Tourism, Cooperation and Devaswom made the announcement at a press conference here on Wednesday. The honour carries Rs 1.5 lakh, citation and memento. Nishagandhi Monsoon Ragaas, the five-day music festival organized by the Kerala Tourism Department, will be inaugurated by Hon'ble Governor of Kerala Rtd Justice Shri P. Sathasivam on July 20, at 6.15 PM at Kanakakunnu Palace. Minister for Tourism, Co-operation and Devaswom Shri Kadakampally Surendran will preside over the function. The inaugural session of the festival will be attended by Dr Shashi Tharoor MP, Shri V.K Prasanth, Mayor Thiruvananthapuram, Smt Rani George IAS, Tourism Secretary, Shri P. Bala Kiran IAS, Tourism Director, Shri Palayam Rajan, Councillor, Thiruvananthapuram Corporation and Shri V.K Madhu; President District Panchayat. Recipient of Padma Shri Parassala B. Ponnammal ,95, has an eventful musical career, starting as a budding singer with All India Radio in 1940. She also has the distinction of being the first female student of Swathi Thirunal Music Academy here. She also stood out as the first woman singer to perform during the Navarathri Music Festival of the famed Sree Padamanabhaswamy Temple. Besides being a leading Carnatic vocalist, Ponnammal has also left a deep impression as a music scholar and teacher associated with leading institutions. Her academic career started as a teacher at the Government Cotton Hill High School and later became the first female member of the faculty at the Swati Tirunal Music College. She later served as the Principal of RLV Fine Arts College, Thrippuinithara. An ardent classicist, the honours received by Ponnammal include Guruvayurappan Chembai Puraskaram, Sangeetha Nataka Akademy award and Swathi Sangeetha Puraskaram.
Padma Bhushan Dr T V Gopalakrishnan 87, has an illustrious musical career spanning over several decades. A versatile artist, he excelled both as a vocalist, mrudangam player and violinist, and accompanied leading singers at a young age. He is equally proficient in the Hindustani tradition and is a revered authority on various musical streams. Popularly known as TVG, Thrippunithura Viswanathan Gopalakrishnan started taking lesson in music at the age of four and had the rare fortune of being part of a concert by Carnatic legend Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar as a nine-year-old. He has conducted hundreds of concerts in the country and abroad since 1949, and boasts of large fan following and disciples, cutting across boundaries. The honour will be presented to the top-notch classical musicians by Chief Minister of Kerala Shri Pinarayi Vijayan at the valedictory ceremony of Nishagandhi Mansoon Ragas Music Festival on July 24, at 6 pm at Kanakakunnu Palace. The selection was made by a committee consisting of the following eminent personalities: Sri Sreekumaran Thampi (Poet & Lyricist), Sri K Jayakumar (Retd. Chief Secretary & Lyricist),Sri Mathew T Itty (Music Director),Sri S Saundara Rajan( Professor, Sri Swati Thirunal Govt. College of Music, Thiruvananthapuram), Smt.Rani George (Secretary-Tourism) and Sri P Bala Kiran (Director-Tourism).
The five-day music festival will bring a rare treat of classical and ethnic musical traditions of the sub- continent, featuring both vocalists and instrumentalists of various streams.The festival will commence with Bamboo Symphony by Unnikrishna Pakkanar followed by a concert by Chitravina N Ravikiran. The venue will reverberate in the following days with performances of leading singers like Ghazal Maestro Jaswinder Singh. The artists to feature at the festival are violinist Krishnaa Ajith and the Carnatic Vocalist Vidushi S. Sowmya on July 22nd; Carnatic Vocalist AnanthaSai A.S and Grammy Award Winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Mohana veena) and Samrat Pandit Salil Bhatt (Satwik Veena) in a duet on July 23rd. Contemporary Flute Fusion by Rajesh Cherthala and a Classical Fusion Band performance by “Shiva-The Musical Thunder”, lead by Usthad Rafiq Khan (Sitar)on July 24th will mark the end of this year’s Nishagandhi Monsoon Ragaas Music Festival. The Tourism Minister also added "along with the Monsoon Ragas, Champions Boat League (CBL) organised by the Tourism Department from August 10th to November 1st is expected to boost foot fall of foreign tourists this year."
Tourism Secretary Smt Rani George and Tourism Director Shri P Bala Kiran were also present at the press conference.
Apart from promoting art and culture by organizing events like Nishagandhi music festival, Kerala Tourism has also made bold initiatives in women empowerment through its Responsible Tourism Mission, earning international attention and recognition. An ethnic restaurant at Kumarakom launched as a women empowerment initiative under the RT Mission fetched the Gold Award of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) for 2019. Kerala Tourism’s website and marketing campaign also received PATA Gold awards.0
Top functionaries of startup incubators converged here today, as the three-day ISBA Conference got off to a start with the mission of bringing together incubators from across the country.
Kerala Governor Justice (retd) P Sathasivam will inaugurate the July 17-19 event, which is to hold the last two days of its proceedings at Kanjirappally in Kottayam district. The delegates will engage themselves in disseminating, discussing and sharing ideas, besides best practices and experiences to make India a noteworthy product startup nation.
Kerala Startup Mission started as an Incubator named Technopark Technology Business Incubator and have scaled to be the state nodal agency to develop the technology startups in the state. “Incubators across the country have a lot to learn from the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM)”, pointed out Dr K Suresh Kumar, president of ISBA (Indian Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Parks and Business Incubator Association).
The deliberations, which will continue on Thursday and Friday at Amal Jyothi College of Engineering at Koovappally off Kanjirappally, would take the mission forward by discussing new initiatives that can be undertaken. The event also strives to ensure a closer interaction with the Ministry of Science & Technology and other government departments.
At the ISBA Pre-conference in Kochi today, KSUM Chief Executive Officer Dr. Saji Gopinath said investment possibilities pose the foremost challenge for incubators. “We need to find ways to bring in investments,” he noted in his opening address. “That should be the main point of discussion at this conference.”
Dr Suresh Kumar pointed out that Kochi’s electronic hardware incubator Maker Village and Fab Lab that encourages printed electronics provide “great atmosphere” for startups to groom in this city. “I am sure the participants at ISBACON 2019 will have a fruitful time,” he added about the conference that gives a common platform to incubation managers, government officials, startups, domain experts and other ecosystem stakeholders such as investors, venture capitals and corporates.
The ISBA Pre-conference chiefly discussed three subjects across as many sessions. A master class on ‘Business Incubation Basics and Operational Nuances for New and Early Stage Incubators’ was led by Prasad M Menon, CEO of Mumbai Centre for Incubation and Business Acceleration, and Technology Business Incubator (NIT Kozhikode) Manager Preethi M.
Another master class, on Seed Fund Management, was addressed by Prasad Shetty, Manager of Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIT-Bombay); Shruti Devasthali, Manager of Pune-based Venture Centre India; and Mr Vipul Patel, VP, Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (IIM-Ahmedabad).
A third master class, on Setting up Fab Labs and Maker Spaces, was led by Gaurang Shetty, CEO, Research Innovation Incubation Design Lab; Pavan Kumar Gupta, Director, Art Lab Foundation (Bengaluru); and Aditi Gupta, Managing Partner, Design Thinkers Group.
Maker Village organised a show of its innovative products at the venue. Its CEO, Prasad B Nair, addressed the gathering.
The first annual ISBA conference was held in 2007. The event has since been held in various cities with the basic objective being to promote incubation in and around these regions and also provide an opportunity for the local incubator members to showcase their products to the participants of the conference. The conferences are invariably of international nature, attracting both incubators and experts from several countries. It presents an opportunity to showcase the achievements and capabilities of Indian technology business incubation to the outside world0
Sahapedia has earned yet another top international honour, winning the coveted Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Grand Award 2019 for organising heritage walks across the country.
‘The India Heritage Walks project aims to make culture tourism more holistic and inclusive,’ PATA said in an announcement. The Bangkok-based establishment works to promote the responsible development of travel and tourism.
Sahapedia is among just four organisations to win PATA’s Grand Award, and the only one to win in the ‘Heritage and Culture’ category.
The PATA Grand Awards are presented to outstanding entries in four principal categories: Marketing, Education and Training, Environment, and Heritage and Culture.
The awards will be presented on September 19 at Nur-Sultan (Astana) in Kazakhstan during the PATA Travel Mart 2019. This year’s awards attracted 197 entries from 78 organisations and individuals worldwide.
Sahapedia has expressed great delight over this achievement. The heritage walks have been part of ‘our attempts to democratise access to local history and culture, giving people opportunities to discover the hidden gems linked to the cultural heritage of a place, town or city,’ said Vaibhav Chauhan, Secretary, Sahapedia and Director, India Heritage Walks. ‘It is good to be recognised for our efforts. We would like to extend our gratitude towards our partners and collaborators across the country who have supported us in working towards our vision.
In 2018, Sahapedia won the highly acclaimed PATA Gold Award for its maiden edition of the India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF).
PATA, in its release yesterday, noted that the purpose of Sahapedia’s heritage walks was to generate interest among travellers as well as the local population to discover India’s cities, its people and the stories of their colonies, ruins, mainstays and migrants.
‘These efforts have also been directed towards groups for whom engagement programmes in heritage tourism are commonly unavailable, such as children, persons with disabilities and those from economically underprivileged backgrounds,’ it pointed out.
Sahapedia launched the India Heritage Walks project in November 2016, and has, so far, conducted experiences in over 60 cities across India, covering varied aspects of cultural and natural heritage. ‘Ranging from walks exploring markets, monuments and museums to natural landscapes and regional cuisine, India Heritage Walks are curated thematically, making it an ideal resource for travellers and heritage enthusiasts as well,’ the PATA release added.
Sahapedia’s India Heritage Walks project has been supported by the TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) Foundation and the Axis Bank Foundation.
Sahapedia (https://www.sahapedia.org/) provides open access to articles, videos, interviews and images on a wide range of matters related to the arts, culture and histories of the Indian subcontinent. The portal was launched in summer 2016.
Women empowerment Initiative of the Responsible Tourism Mission, especially its Ethnic Food Restaurant at Kumarakom, received international recognition with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) conferring its prestigious Gold Awards on the Kerala Tourism, which also bagged two other awards.
The advertisement campaign of the Kerala Tourism - Come Out and Play - and the Kerala Tourism Website -www.keralatourism.org also bagged PATA Gold awards in their respective categories. While the ad campaign was run by the Stark Communications, the Kerala Tourism website has been designed and maintained by Invis Multimedia.
Out of the 15,500 Responsible Tourism Mission initiatives, 13,500 units are led by women.The awards were announced at Bangkok today. Founded in 1951, PATA is a not-for-profit membership association that acts as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region.0