Sunday, September 13, 2020

Child specialists aren't where most of India's kids are

 This subject line is not that of the author. It came from Times of India.

Here is an excerpt from the news item:


  • Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan between them account for nearly half of all children born in India each year but have barely one-sixth of the paediatricians in the country. The imbalance between where the need for child specialists is and where they are available is just as pronounced within states with most of them concentrated in the bigger cities while the villages are where most children are.
  • In UP and Bihar, which have the largest child populations, for instance, a large chunk of paediatricians, about 60% and 46% respectively, are concentrated in the top few cities.
  • The skew in distribution within larger states is the worst in West Bengal where over 74% of paediatricians in the state are in the Greater Kolkata region (Kolkata, Hooghly, Howrah and North and South 24 Parganas districts), followed by Telangana, where almost 69% are in the Greater Hyderabad area (Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Rangareddy districts)"
We see so many Indian doctors in most of the countries I have visited and lived in the past 50 years and there is a dearth of doctors in India, especially to look after our national treasure, the children. 

It is time the Medical schools make an attempt to educate only those who are willing to work in areas where there is a scarcity. It is time the government support students who are willing to work in place there is a scarcity.

Jai Hind

More here:

Oracle is picked up by ByteDance for TikTok operations in the USA

 Oracle will run the ByteDance operations in the USA. Will the US government receive a part of the transaction proceeds. This means Microsoft-Wall Mart combo is out.

If Oracle is buying ByteDance without the algorithm, then the security risk will remain. 

Monday, September 07, 2020

Trip to South India - Oct 13, 2019


Visiting South Indian Temples and Places of Interest

Our trip routes

Fly to Madurai and drive to Rameshwaram stay there for the night. Drive back to Madurai and stay in Madurai. Drive to Kumbakonam and Flyback from Tiruchirappalli to Bengaluru.

October 13, 2019

We had an excellent breakfast at our hotel. We leave at 9:17 A.M. We also had a driver replacement since the first driver had some personal problems. We will be heading back to Madurai.

Right on NH87, we turn left to visit the famous Divya Desham (105), the famous Adi Jagannatha Perumal Temple.

Source: Google Maps

Receiving blessings at the Thiruppullani Arulmigu Shri Adhi Jagannatha Perumal Temple

The temple is in Thiruppullani, a village in the Ramanathapuram district, not far from Rameshwaram. As per the legends, God Rama rested on a bed of dry grass (Darba) while praying to Samudra Raja to support him in his invasion of Lanka. Darba in Tamil is 'Pul' and hence, the village is named Thiruppullani. This temple is celebrated in the early Divya Prabhanda of 6th to 9th century CE. The temple has Adi Jagannatha (Lord of the Universe) with his consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi.

This temple was built around the 8th century CE.  Later Cholas and, Pandyas contributed to the enhancements. The Cholas ruled for almost 500 years, and the Tamil culture propagated as far as the Philippines. You can read some of its histories in Wikipedia ( There is a rare image of 13th century Krishna, dancing on a snake in this temple. 


On approaching the temple


Inside the temple

The Sanctum Sanctorum

The inner Prakaram corridor

This temple is also known for attracting childless couples, who come here and pray for blessings. They offer little cradles made of metals and tie them to the Ashwattha (ficus religiosa, Bodhi tree, Peepul tree) in the temple precincts. They also go around the Ashwattha tree and the nagas (fertility symbols) three times, praying God to bestow them with the progeny.

The Aswattha Pradakshina

Pradakshina is a Hindu ritual in all Hindu temples where the devotees go round the Sanctum Sanctorum or a holy religious icon three times after which they enter the inner temple to view the deity and pray. In the picture below, the devotees who are praying for children go round the Peepul (considered sacred) tree three times.

Naga Prathishtana

Another Hindu ritual meant for childless couples to pray for children.

Visiting Meenakshi Temple

About Meenakshi Temple

Meenakshi Temple (a.k.a. Meenakshi Sundereshwarar among other names) is in Madurai, Tamilnadu (9.919504° N, 78.11934° E). The temple was built around 600 A.D. It is a major pilgrimage destination for Hindus of the Shaiva sect. The temple is on the southern bank of the Vaigai river dedicated to the Goddess, Meenakshi, wife of God, Shiva (one of the three Indian trinities). You can reach it by both by train and by air. The Chittirai festival in this temple attracts more than a million tourists/pilgrims during 10 days in April-May.

Meenakshi temple was destroyed and built again in the 14th and 15th Centuries. Temples in India were known to carry riches and the most valuable items were hidden inside the temple. The invaders mistook that the jewels were hidden inside the stone idols and they decapitated the idols, damaged them. You can go anywhere in India and see this atrocity. This destruction of the temples is also recorded by the Muslim historians of that era. Meenakshi temple was destroyed by the infamous Malik Kafur from the Delhi Sultanate.

The temple is also known for the celebration of a celestial wedding, the wedding of Meenakshi to Shiva (here, in this temple he is called Sundereshwarar, the handsome Shiva). The bride is given away by none other than her brother, God Vishnu. The marriage is attended by the whole universe, and this is depicted on the walls, the gopurams, the corridors, and the ceilings. This account integrates the two major sects in Hinduism, the Shaivites and the Vaishnavites.

Source: Richard Mortel from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - Mariage of Shiva and Parvati (Meenakshi) witnessed by Vishnu, Meenakshi Temple, Madurai (2)

The temple precinct is extensive, covering some 14 acres in the heart of the very old city mentioned in the 6th Century texts.  Meenakshi temple as it stands now has 14 gopurams (45 to 50 meters high). It has many sculpted halls and Mandapams (resting places inside the temple, also repurposed for some temple events). The thousand pillared halls is now a museum (not well kept in the humble opinion of the author) with many more sculptures, photographs of notables who visited this place, etc.).

Source: Bernard Gagnon - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It is a pity that the city authorities have left the city businesses to inch towards this fabulous temple. The Sanctum Santorum has the emerald idol of Meenakshi. To reach this you need to traverse, several gopurams that are gateways to the Sanctum Santorum. The gateways are the entrances to the concentrically laid Prakarams.

Highlights of our visit to the temple

We left the hotel at 17:09 and, our object was to visit the Meenakshi temple.

Meenakshi temple is very far from the city. One of the largest temples I have seen so far. Although it is immense, it is in the midst of some very small streets, from the Northgate we approached. It looks as if the city walked up and stopped at the entrance of the temple. The traffic was horrendous with a melee of cars, trucks, autos, buses, bicycles, and of course cows. Cows had parked at the entrance as the devotees before leaving the temple give the bananas and other eatables to the cows. The small shops near the temple sell a variety of things from temple gifts, flowers, coconut and betel leaves, and other offerings that pilgrim take with them during the darshan. As I had mentioned earlier, there are a sizeable Muslim population and Muslim vendors selling temple gift materials including idols. Well, the business has no religion.

One nice feature of this temple was that they had a small, well attended, free service to look after the footwear of the devotees while they are inside the temple. It was completely run by women and they were very efficient. Still walking barefoot is something of a challenge as you may have to jump across puddles and walk on top of pebbles.

The temple is guarded by Police who make sure that the people entering do not carry suspicious carry-ons, cell phone cameras, etc. It looked efficient and as usual, I did not take my camera. I regretted as I could see many had sneaked in the cameras and were taking pictures, something unimaginable in Japan (just a notice would do for them).

The temple has painted ceilings with colorful, floral patterns. The corridor pillars are also painted in rainbow colors. There is a painting of Shiva Lingam in the ceiling. The painting has an illusionary effect. Looking from any angle the spout of the lingam is always presented to the eyes. This 2-D painting, it appears, is quite ancient although I have not found any specific reference and it.  The image gets painted over from time to time. This trick of the eye (trompe l'oeil in French) effect can also be found in western art, but in Madurai temple it really hits you.

 MaduraiDiff.jpg is from the site,

Even in this copy of a copy, the effect is remarkable (look from left and then look from right).

We all could enter the temple including Michiko. We went through the gopurams and went round the concentric corridors to reach the last corridor before the sanctum Santorum. Indian temples are not only very animal friendly but they also consider them to be sacred. You can see sacred cows inside the temple that participate in many of the events. Elephants are traditionally used in temples as they carry the images of Gods (pilgrims lookup) and circle the corridors around the sanctum sanctorum. Elephants also bless the pilgrims by placing a reassuring trunk on the head of the pilgrims and the handler gives the elephant a snack. You can see this in this temple and in many other temples. Michiko was pleasantly surprised to get blessed by the blessing elephant.

Since we did not carry cameras, we could not take any pictures inside the temple. But Shyam arranged for a photo of all of us taken from one of the corridors, to include the gopuram across the Kalyani(little sacred pond in the temple) by the temple photographers.

There was a huge rain and the outer Prakaram, before the exit to the streets was filled up like a swimming pool. Shyam had light bandages on both feet due to some injury and Michiko was terrified as she does not like wet areas. Fortunately, a 6-seater beach buggy (the temple has arranged for quick transport) came and took us to a dry area. We were really blessed. We left the temple around 7:30 but the temple precincts were inundated, and the roads were slushy. We had to wait a little bit outside for our driver to show up.

We took off from the temple and started driving towards our hotel. Both I and Rama are addicted to strong coffee without sugar. There are lots of street-side, small coffee shops, but all of them use coffee decoction with added sugar. Black coffee tastes like syrup. Finally, we stopped at a place called Om Lakshmi Bhavan, where we could get coffee without sugar. They also had snacks and dinner but not without garlic.

We continued our return journey, and as it was almost dinner time, we stopped at a restaurant called Sangeetha. This was the only one we could find, after some inquiries, that served exclusively vegetarian food sans garlic. We had dinner at Sangeetha.

Entrance to restaurant Sangeetha.

Most South Indian restaurants have eating areas in air-conditioned rooms as well as areas without air-conditioning. The downside of air-conditioned rooms is pesky mosquitoes that seem to prefer these somewhat intentionally darkened rooms.

After dinner, Rama collected some spicy powders (simply called 'Podi') to carry. If we cannot find a restaurant that did not provide garlic-free preparation, she would just eat rice with spicy powder and some yogurt. Vegetarians are tough, strict vegetarians even tougher!

We returned by about 9:00 p.m. to the hotel. We, I and Shyam decided to have drinks at the hotel's bar. As I mentioned earlier, bars, especially in India, have intentionally poor lighting.  It is hard to understand this. The sofas in the bar were so unwieldy, it is hard to reach for the drinks and snacks. We hope tomorrow will be a better day without rain.













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