Tag: Human Interest

Have a Summer Blast

Have a Summer Blast

As the mercury rises in the summer, excitement of students begins to surge too. After toiling monotonously for a whole year attending classes, going for tuitions, struggling with homework and finally cramming for exams, students look forward to this time of year, never mind the sweltering heat.

Granted, summer vacations are a great time to catch up with all those exciting activities that you have been dying to indulge in but were simply impossible to take up during the academic year: you would want to play your favourite sport, watch movies, go for outings and generally have fun. But even after you do all of this, you will find that you still have a reasonable amount of spare time that can and must be utilised gainfully.

Have a Summer Blast

Academically you move up one level with each passing year. But it is equally important for you to move up regularly with respect to your personality. And there’s no better time to do this than summer holidays. Unfortunately, most students end up doing nothing constructive during this highly fertile two-month period. But all is not lost. If you’re a student who has not yet made plans of how to make good use of your time this vacation, now is a good time to do so. The question that is probably cropping up in your mind is, "What should I do?"

We suggest that you spend some time this week in your own company and do a self-audit. Find out which zones of your personality you would like to work upon. Do a quick evaluation of your personality and ask yourself simple questions like the following: What are my strengths and weaknesses? Which new activity I would like to pursue? Which existing interest would I like to augment? This simple exercise will lead to clarity of thought and action. And once you’re clear about what it is that you want to do, you can proceed in the direction of putting into practice what you’ve decided.

There are many good ways to spend the next two months. Here are a few suggestions that might be helpful. This is in no way an exhaustive list and you can certainly come up with several creative ideas yourself.

Sign up for an adventure/sports camp
Look out for and sign up with one of the several adventure camps organised specially for school students. Such camps offer a wonderful opportunity for you to experience the real world first hand – away from the protective shield of your parents and teachers. If you’re a sports lover, then you could consider one of the various sports camps that train you in the sport of your choice.

Cultivate the habit of Reading
Supplementing/cultivating a reading habit is a good idea. Reading is a great way of building up a good thinking mind. You even become more creative, besides increasing your knowledge! So join a good library, borrow a few good books on the subjects you like and spend some time reading daily.

Avoid watching excessive TV
Watching TV is an inert activity and tends to slow down your wits. It’s also harmful for your physical fitness. Allocate a fixed time per week for TV viewing and resolve not to exceed this limit. When watching TV, make it a point to watch informative and educational channels like Discovery, Animal Planet and National Geographic.

Physical Activity
Engage in some daily physical activity routine. This is a good habit for life. Swimming, cycling, trekking or simply walking will go a long way in keeping you healthy and in shape.

Replace phones with personal interactions
A worrying habit among the youngsters these days is that they rattle long hours on the phone. Remember, it is much better to meet up your friends in person and converse one-to-one. Personal interactions enhance the quality of your conversations and, in the process, the quality of your friendships too.

Develop new interests
Consider developing new hobbies or expand the scope of existing ones such as painting, drawing, music, cooking, writing, acting and so on. Many of you may not venture into a hobby for the fear of being ridiculed or because you think you’re not good enough. Steer clear of judging yourself and simply take up the activity irrespective of how good you are at it. Remember you’re not competing with anyone, and there is no justifiable reason to deny yourself the joy that comes from doing that which you fancy.

So go ahead and make a new agreement with yourself. Eliminate a weakness, acquire a new hobby, improve your knowledge quotient and transform yourself in positive ways. Then, when the new academic year begins, your newfound personality will be all set to conquer the world.

Selflessly Yours

Selflessly Yours

Every once in a while we hear of an individual who we would all like to emulate. Meet 63-year-old Thaneite C R Upendra Rao, fondly known as "Shri Balgopal", who did the city proud when he was chosen to receive the Rajiv Gandhi Shiromani Award in New Delhi last month. The Award is conferred on select Indian citizens in recognition of their outstanding contributions and achievements in the field of industry, business, public life, administration, social, educational and cultural services. Balgopal was bestowed the award by His Excellency R L Bhatia, the governor of Kerala for his contributions in the spheres of education, social service and culture.

On his return the city, Balgopal was felicitated at a function organised by the Sri Ma Group of Institutions at its Vidyanagari premises at Patlipada, Thane in the presence of several dignitaries, including Chief Guest, V Ranganathan who is the former Chief Secretary to the Government of Maharashtra, and Guests of Honour, S K Agrawal, (Executive Director, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd.) and Milind Ballal (Editor, Thane Vaibhav).

His Excellency R L Bhatia (Governor of Kerala) presenting the Rajiv Gandhi Shiromani Award (2005) to Sri Balgopal

In spite of donning several hats (he is an educator, writer, editor, social worker, Gandhian, speaker, scholar, and lots more), Balgopal remains humble, as was demonstrated in his thanksgiving speech at the felicitation ceremony, where he started thus, "I surrender this Rajiv Gandhi Shiromani award at the lotus feet of divine mother [Sri Tara Ma] and Swami Omkarananda. This award is not mine alone, but in fact is shared by many like Dilip Deherkar, R Nirmal Jyoti, Ramesh Joshi, Manju Tejwani and Rajan for taking the initiative in sending my profile and Sanjay Bhoir for designing it." After this, he went on to thank a lot of people for having helped him help others, including staff, students, parents and members of the various departments that he is associated with. He also expressed his gratitude, among others, to doctors for all the free medical camps, donors and volunteers involved in relief and rehabilitation work, relief commissioners, collectors of respective districts, local leaders and social activists. Later, while speaking about Balgopal, Swami Omkarananda praised his renunciation of material pleasures in favour of an altruistic life. "You have set an ideal for generations to follow," he concluded.

It was 35 years ago, at a ripe age of 27, that Balgopal renounced the material life and sought refuge under Sri Tara Ma, founder of the Sri Ma Trust, expressing his desire to serve the world selflessly. He started as a correspondent at the Sri Ma Bal Niketan High School housed in a small apartment in Thane, and worked his way through to become an integral part of the Sri Ma Trust, which owes its growth in large part to Balgopal’s contributions. During the last three-and-a-half-decades, Balgopal’s social service activities have provided a different dimension to the Trust’s service activities. In times of calamities, Balgopal’s urge to serve becomes even stronger. Whether it is the floods of Jambulpada and Nagothane, the Mumbai riots, the Orissa Super Cyclone, the Gujarat Earthquake, the Tsunami or the recent flooding in  Mumbai, he has galvanised the Trust’s resources for relief and rehabilitation work.

Balgopal’s contributions to society, his role in spreading the good work, indeed his entire life, has set a high precedent, inspiring many to recognise that true contentment lies in serving others. If even a few follow his footsteps, society will owe a lot to him.

Making a difference

Making a difference

There is a parable about a little boy walking on the beach after a storm. All around him were thousands of starfish that had been washed up on the beach, beyond the reach of the tide, all gasping for water, without which they would die. The little boy picked the helpless fish up one by one, took them to the water, and threw them in. Watching the boy, an old man laughed at his efforts and said, "Can’t you see how hopeless your task is? There are thousands of fish on the shoreline and your efforts are not making any difference at all." The boy picked up another starfish, walked to the water, threw it in and said, "It made a difference to that one." Last week, three friends from Thane decided to make a difference in a similar way, when they decided to visit the Tsunami-affected villages in Tamil Nadu.

On December 30, 2004, when Vijay Shetty from Kolbad, Bharat Parmar from Tembhi Naka and Mahesh Madkholkar from Kopri Colony watched Barkha Dutt’s account of Tsunami and the extent of devastation on TV, it stirred them into noble action. On New Year’s Eve, the three practising chartered accountants left for Nagapatnam and adjoining villages, which are among the worst hit by the tragedy.

The experience of carrying out relief-work first hand has affected them deeply. "When we saw the ruins, we were totally shocked, and were literally trembling," said a visibly moved Shetty. Of the five villages they visited, Tharangambadi, located 40 km from Nagapatnam, was the worst hit. Here, out of a population of about 3500, only 1000 or so have survived the calamity. Almost all the houses are washed out and the village has become totally deserted. Wherever they went, they saw the horrible outcome of the catastrophe: hundreds of dead bodies, many lying deep inside the debris, large-scale wreckage, frightened people who were not ready to go back to their villages, and little children, clueless about the tragedy annihilation around them. With only 12 men and three earth moving machines allotted to this village, the relief operations too were just a namesake.

After cremating two bodies, one of which was of a five-year old child found in an abandoned house, the three volunteers decided to do something for those children rendered orphan by Tsunami. Shetty recounts, "We saw little children who have lost both their parents, but are so innocent that they haven’t even understood what calamity has struck them." This heart-rending experience prompted the trio to shortlist eight children who have lost both their parents. Each of three have decided to take up the responsibility of two orphaned children: They will pay for their education, clothes, food and all other necessary expenses up till such time that they become financially independent.

When large calamities strike, most of us tend to become overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem. At such times, we must recall the parable of the little boy and the starfish and remind ourselves that our efforts do make a difference, even if they seem trivial compared to the magnitude of the problem. Imagine the difference the good samaritans from Thane are making to the lives of the six children they have decided to support.

Old is gold

Old is gold

It is said that age is all mind over matter – if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. If age is a matter of the mind, then you’re as old as you feel. Though old age has its drawbacks, it comes with many rewards. Old is Gold, because virtues like wisdom, insight, patience, tolerance and knowledge come with old age. It is to honour these virtues that we celebrate the World Elder’s Day.

On Friday October 01, 2004, the Rotary Club of Thane North End (RCTNE) and Innerwheel Club of Thane Hills (IWCTH) together organised a programme to celebrate Elder’s Day. Held at Gadkari Rangayatan, over 350 senior citizens attended the programme. Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest Retired Judge Raja Bhau Gawande said, "Old age is a phenomenon to be enjoyed. If you love your life, life will love you." He also told the audience how in foreign countries, old age is categorised as young old (60-80 years) and old-old (80-100 years). Ashok Chitnis, former Principal of Bedekar School held a story telling session in which he narrated an award-winning story written by him about a notorious student and his teacher.

Later, three elders were felicitated: Chandravage Chorge, 102 years, Parashuram Naik, 95 years and Khayatkar, 93 years as their contemporaries in the audience cheered.

At the time when so many elder are abused, it is time for the youth and children to acknowledge that we owe our life to them. Old age is inevitable, and some day, the youth of today will become the old of tomorrow. Perhaps it is a good time to commit to memory the following quotation by the French romantic poet, novelist and dramatist Victor Hugo, which echoes the sentiments of elders accurately: "The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved – loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves." Let’s pledge happiness for our elders.

For your eyes only
Did you know that with nearly one third of the world’s blind, India has one of the highest incidences of blindness in the world? And though a significant proportion of these persons can have their eyesight restored through corneal transplantation, thousands of blind persons registered with the eye banks have to wait for years because of an acute shortage of donor eyes. Incidentally our neighbouring Sri Lanka has ten times more donor eyes than the requirement. Needless to say, we need to create an urgent awareness about eye donations, if we are to reduce this paucity.

While celebrating World Elder Day at the Gadkari, the RCTNE also used the opportunity to inaugurate an eye bank called "Diyva Drushti," a project which is part of the Centennial Year Celebrations of The Rotary International. A skit presentation by Suhas Joshi, Iravati Lagoo, Leeladhar Kambli, and Yatin Thakur urged people to pledge their eyes for donation. The skit creating attempted to create awareness about the benefits of the noble deed and also busted a few myths associated with eye donation. For example, removing the eye does not disfigure the face of the donor.

For pledge forms and other details, readers may contact Dr. Shekhar Suradkar or Dr. Kalpana Suradkar, at Highway Hospital, near Teen Haat Naka. Tel: 2582 2683/2581 2910. Mobile 9820045614

A March for Peace

A March for Peace

"Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth," said Albert Einstein about one of the most inspiring and influential men of the twentieth century. Yes, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, fondly known as the father of our nation, was loved and respected by the world’s most respected individuals. And yet today, amidst attacks on the Mahatma’s personal life and his relationship with his children, many among us are forgetting his contribution to India’s freedom struggle in specific and to humankind in general. Therefore it was heartening to see students, parents and teachers along with peace loving residents, participating in such large numbers to remember and honour Mahatma Gandhi’s principles of peace, truth, love, non-violence and justice.

On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti last week, almost 550 people counting 450 children from seven different schools in the city (including a tribal school in Yeoor) walked on the streets of Thane to remember the values that Mahatma Gandhi stood for. This was the fifth consecutive year of Shanti Yatra (or peace march). What started as a celebration of the apostle of peace by Garden School of Thane four years ago has now become an important event with several city-based NGOs actively participating to remind us the powerful ideas of Mahatma Gandhi.

The peach march began from St John the Baptist High School at Jambli Naka and terminated at the bust of Mahatma Gandhi on Shivaji Path covering prominent city roads like Ghantali and Gokhale Road. True to its name, the peace march was peaceful and no one was shouting slogans. Instead, the marchers were carrying placards with Gandhi’s core ideas and messages written on them.

The shanti yatra began as an inter-religious effort but the focus has now shifted to children. The idea behind the event is to familiarise children of today with the values that the Mahatma stood for. Bernadette Pimenta, Garden School’s founder-principal says, "The children of today are so lost that they need a role model like Mahatma Gandhi. This peace march is an effort to instil in our children the love and respect for the father of the nation."

Last year, Tushar Gandhi and Medha Patkar had participated in the Shanti Yatra. This year, the chief guest was Dr Dalvi, former principal of Dnyansadhana College, who spoke about Mahatma’s life and his contribution to India. A little boy from Majiwada School gave a speech on the father of the nation and later bhajans of Gandhi were sung.

Bapu, as children affectionately call him, once said, "Every murder or other injury, no matter for what cause, committed or inflicted on another is a crime against humanity." With widespread violence, terrorism and wars threatening to consume our planet, it is perhaps now more than ever before, that we need to remember the values of the Mahatma.

Floral delight

Floral delight

A rangoli is a colourful design displayed as a sign of welcoming the guests. Although Maharashtrian in origin, Rangoli is practiced all over India. The term Rangoli is derived from ‘Rang’ (colour) and avalli (a row of colours), and is usually made out of coloured rice powder. But in Thane, people are talking about a unique kind rangoli – one that is made not out of rice powder, but a variety of flowers.

The floral-rangoli is a practice that was started in August 1999, by the Marathe Family, which runs the Y V Marathe Jewellers, one of the oldest jewellery showrooms of Thane. Lighting the diya (a small lamp of flames) is a popular practice among Indians. The glowing diya is held sacred in Indian culture. So when, the Marathes renovated their showroom situated near Kopaneshwar Mandir, the family found themselves in a dilemma. Shantanu Marathe, one of the proprietors, says, "The practice of lighting the diya everyday was important. Yet, the black fumes emanating from the flames were harmful to gold and other jewellery displayed in the showroom. We wanted to preserve the culture and at the same time, we were worried about damage to our expensive jewellery". Soon the family came up with an innovative solution to preserve the cultural significance of the Diya. Instead of lighting up the Diya, they decided to decorate the flame holder with a rangoli of flowers.

The floral-rangoli quickly became popular among the showroom patrons and visitors.   "The arrangement of flowers is simply beautiful. What’s more, the rangoli designs are never repeated," says Shweta Phadke, one of Y V Marathe’s regular customers, who seems visibly in awe of the floral-rangoli. Indeed, the rangoli design has not been repeated even once, since it began in August 1999, the only exceptions being August 15 and January 26 of every year, when the National Flag is created out of flowers.

The three people in charge of creating this rangoli are Ram Jadhav, Abhijit Patil and Krishna Advilkar. Every morning, one of them spends about half an hour to create the designs. They use Marigold, Aster, Rose, Lotus, Lily, Carnations and other seasonal flowers. "We always use fresh flowers, even if the flowers from the previous day’s arrangement are still fresh-looking; after all, it’s like a prayer to us," says Jadhav. They enjoy their routine of arranging the flowers and are thrilled when people appreciate their art. There have been many instances of visitors inquiring about the arrangement and also inviting them to demonstrate the art.

So how do you they manage to keep the designs from repeating day after day? "The inspiration is magical and inexplicable. Some higher energy flows into us when we are creating the rangoli of flowers. That’s the only explanation," says Jadhav. Now we know why the rangolis are so beautiful. God’s creations can’t be otherwise.

Sign in to win

Sign in to win

Though electronic signatures have been gaining prominence in today’s digital economy, a personal, handwritten signature retains its value and will continue to do so. Other than signatures on legal documents, bank cheques, agreements and so on, manual signatures have less obvious functions. For instance, what do you do when you want to test a pen? Chances are that you sign your name. A celebrity’s’ autograph for his fans can perhaps never replaced by the digital signature – if does, will it retain its charm? The signature of painters on their work of art is what determines whether the painting is authentic or not.

Graphologists study signatures to analyse a person’s character and disposition and this information is used reliably by the police and investigation agencies worldwide. This is because, for many hundreds of years society has recognised the fact that the handwritten signature of a human being is something mistakable, unique, personal and individual. Now this unique and personal moniker can also win you some recognition (and some money) in a unique competition.

Foto Circle has organised a unique signature competition. So if you think your signature is beautiful and reflects, with force, your individuality, then sign in for this one. The competition will be judged by prominent calligraphers Achyut Palav, Dattatray Padekar and Dr Sanjay Deshmukh. The first, second and third prize winners will win amounts of Rs, 1001, Rs 751 and Rs 501 respectively and two consolation prizes of Rs 251 will also be given away.

Announced last Sunday on the occasion of the opening of the new office of Foto Circle at the hands of Shiv Sena Leader Uddhav Thakeray, the signature competition is open to all Thaneites at a nominal fee of Rs. 10.  

Foto Circle, for those who are unaware, is a five-year old Thane-based not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of the art of photography. Started by 11 Thaneites, it has 150 members. Foto Circle organises photography workshops for amateurs and professionals. Workshops for professional deal in areas like commercial photography, outdoor shooting, clicking portfolio and wedding photography. From time to time, Foto Circle also organises workshops for children teaching them basics such as how to load a film roll, effects of lighting and importance of stability. As Digital Photography booms, Foto Circle’s focus is also shifting. Nayan Tambotkar, one of the founders, says, "Digital Photography is a different ballgame and must be understood well. Even many professionals do not understand what is meant by terms like mega pixel and how to select and use a digital camera."

For more information about the how to participate in the signature contest and about Foto Circle photography workshops, readers may contact Nayan Tambotkar on 9820586192.

Women on top

Women on top

Come women’s day and across the world we see special programmes being organised based on issues that are important to women. Our city was no different. A number of programmes were held across Thane on the eve of women’s day and this writer found himself attending one such programme – it was a group discussion organised by the Rotary Club of Thane at Sahyog Mandir Hall with an all-women power panel on the dais. More than 120 people attended the programme, and for once, women outnumbered the men. Yet, gender notwithstanding, almost everyone in the audience was actively involved in the discussion that ensued.

The programme was facilitated by two young women from Thane, Samira Gujar and Sujata Phadke. Samira is a TV artist known for who has worked in the Marathi sopa Abhal Maya and comperes a live polling show called Bola Bola, Tring Tring aired on Sahyadri Channel. Sujata is a freelance journalist for Maharshtra Times and reports exclusively on Thane.

The panellists were prominent women from different spheres that are pertinent to society in general, especially to women: Preeti Patkar of Prerna, a Mumbai-based NGO that works for the welfare of commercial sex workers (CSWs) and also runs night care centres for the children of the CSWs; Sampada Wagale a journalist who writes for Loksatta; Kranti Sathe, a councillor and an advocate specialising in divorce cases, and also former member of Film Censor Board; Madhavi Hegde Karandikar, an expert of child adoption and trustee and Honorary Secretary of Bal Asha Trust, an adoption agency in Mumbai that works for the welfare and development of women and children.

Issues discussed ranged from macro issues such as women in politics to micro ones such as child adoption by single, unmarried women. The views expressed by the panellists were enlightening and the examples cited drew much applause from the audience. Sathe said that, contrary to the belief propagated by media, marriage as an institution is not under threat in India. Even though divorce cases in India have gone up, usually the reasons for divorce are rather convincing and couples resort to it only as the last option. She emphasised an urgent need for legal literacy, citing the example of thousands of girls who attend college but are unaware of their constitutional rights. She urged para-legal institutes and NGOs to organise legal literacy camps for women across the nation. Sathe also spoke about the role of women in a male dominated field of politics and said that it was important for women to actively participate in politics.  

Patkar’s discussion focussed on society’s reluctance in facilitating the rehabilitation of CSWs. Using examples, she explained how the victims in this trade are often caught in the legal web and are pronounced guilty. She revealed that human trafficking was the third largest money-spinning racket in the world after illegal arms and drugs and if statistics are right then it may soon displace drug-trafficking to become the second. "We must do something soon before it is too late and the problem surfaces right at our own doorstep," warned Sathe.

Karandikar talked about the complicated issue of child adoption and its implications. Meera Korde, who was sitting in the audience, asked her about an issue that, as principal of a School, she often faces: "When is the right time for foster parents to reveal to the child the hard fact that they are adopted?" Karandikar said that they should reveal as soon as possible and in a manner that does not affect the self-concept of the child. Foster parents must see to it that the adopted child learns to respect himself.  

Wagale spoke about the issues and effects of VRS. Being a victim of VRS herself, she talked about how she used it as an opportunity in disguise to re-discover herself her buried talents. She also said that unemployed women should beat loneliness and bring meaning to their lives by helping the society in whatever manner possible. NGOs require volunteers and such women should participate in serving the society in their own small way.

After the programme, most people felt that every issue discussed was so important that each warranted a serious deliberation at the highest of levels of the society.

Humane Project

Humane Project

Money donation for good causes is a great thing to do. But donating blood to save precious lives is perhaps the noblest of all donations.

For those who are wary of blood donation for the fear of contracting undesirable diseases, please note that improvements to the blood collection process have made giving blood today safer than ever. In addition to the mini medical examination, which makes sure donors are healthy, a new needle is used for each blood donation, and once it is used, the needle is destroyed.

In fact, studies suggest that blood donation is a healthy practice as each donor passes through the mini medical test – there have been cases when high blood pressure among certain individuals has been discovered during the process of blood donation. Preliminary studies have also found that heart attacks and other cardiac problems were less common in men who had donated blood compared to men who had not.

Now that you are aware of the rewards that accompany blood donation, you may want to make your self available for this noble deed. Fortunately, the Rotaract Club of Thane East (RCTE) has pioneered a project called "Lifeline" – an enduring blood donation drive for the benefit of the poor and the needy. The RCTE has committed itself to help those in dire need of blood and cannot afford to pay massive sums that are needed to buy blood.

Manish Kotwani, member of RCTE says, "We have tied up with Pooja Blood Bank in Mulund, wherein we deposit the bottles on an ongoing basis and these bottles would be mobilized to help the poor & needy on a 24/7 basis. In this endeavor, we would be able to serve the community better if we are able to get help from responsible citizens."

So if you or any of your friends are interested in donating blood, please contact Manish Kotwani on 540 1004 or email thane-east@rotaract.org

Trunk Call
Kahlil Gibran, one of the greatest poet-philosophers humankind has seen, wrote "Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. We fell them and turn them into paper, so that we may record our emptiness".

Nature lovers in Thane would be happy to know that Thane Municipal Corporation has taken up a tree counting and surveying drive in Thane city. Along with M/s Environment and Biotechnology Foundation, the TMC has already surveyed eighty thousand trees over ten wards.

Commenced on March 15, 2001, this massive crusade aims to collect detailed information about the city’s trees so that they can protect endangered species, improve the quality of others and weed out degenerating ones.

The survey will collect information based on several interesting parameters. Class, species, genus etc. will provide botanical information. The survey will also determine the age of the tree using a scientific approach. In fact, this campaign has helped find trees that are as old as one hundred fifty years. Other parameters of information such as height, area of growth (forest, road, private property, lake etc.) and medicinal quality would also be recorded. Areas that have potential for tree plantation would be noted too. Students of Botany would benefit greatly from this kind of data.

But perhaps the most important information that this campaign would provide will be that of the optimum number of trees required for tackling the grand problem of pollution. The authorities plan to use this vital information to create and enforce laws on tree-destruction.

The project is expected to get over in June 2002.

Child’s Play

Child’s Play

Excessive cravings do not necessarily involve physical substances. Like the world’s most popular leisure pastime, television – an addiction that has enveloped all age groups. In fact, Newton’s law of inertia aptly describes a TV addict: A body at rest tends to remain in the state of rest. And if the body is of a child in front of the TV, then it is a cause for great worry.

The gravity of the situation can be judged by the results of a survey conducted in the US which states that a typical child watches an average of thirty-five hours of television per week! Along with a sedentary lifestyle, television promotes a whole host of equally disturbing behaviors: lack of creativity and stimulation, and the absence of family interaction, reading time, and self-motivated play time.

In its effort to provide good, healthy entertainment to children, Thane Municipal Corporation has recently installed a range of multi-play systems in thirty gardens around the city. Kids can now enjoy on the lovely new systems such as spiral slide, tube slide, roller slide, double spring wave slide, adjustable see-saw, climbing frames and many other interesting things. An estimated fifteen to twenty thousand kids visit these newly equipped gardens daily. TMC Commissioner K. P. Bakshi, Mayor Sharda Raut and other senior officers too have paid a visit to the gardens in the last few weeks.

Arihant Industries Corporation, the suppliers of the play systems, will also maintain them for the next two years.

Hopefully this network of gardens will play an important role in diverting the city kids away from the television networks.

First among equals
"Pandit Ram Marathe Smruti Din" is a yearly event that is extremely popular among music lovers of Maharashtra. People go to any lengths to reserve their seats in advance, lest they miss out the opportunity to see the show. This year, for the programme to be held on April 05, the plans opened on March 31. But the book windows of Gadkari Rangayatan, where the programme was to be held, had queues from the previous night (March 30).

This is not the first time that this has happened. The organizers too are overwhelmed by the enthusiasm displayed by the fans, year after year. In fact, it has now become a custom for the organizers to officially felicitate the very first purchaser of the ticket, as a mark of appreciation.

For readers who are unaware, Pandit Ram Marathe was one of the great classical vocalists that our country has produced. He was conferred with The Sangeet Bhushan title by the Government of Maharashtra and won numerous awards during his lifetime, including the Sangeet Natak Akademy Award in the year 1987.

Muscular Clash
Last week, TMC and the Thane District Body Building Association organized the Fifth Body Building Competition for the title of "Mahapaur Shree 2002" at Gadkari Rangayatan. 116 contestants from all over the state participated in the competition, which was inaugurated by Mayor Sharda Raut.

It was a fierce competition between bulging biceps and triceps, extra-tight waistlines and macho muscles. In the end, it was Uttam Saliyan from Jai Bharat Sports Club who won the title of the "Mahapaur Shri -2002". He also bagged the "Best Poser" award.

"Ugavata Tara" (Rising star) team trophy went to "Spurti Vyayam Shala", whereas runners up were "Jai Bharat Sports Club" at Kharegaon, Kalwa.

Although the competition lasted only for a few hours, the sweat and toil that went into developing those impressive muscles should not be discounted.

The participants of the "Mahapaur Shri" competition looked inspired by none other than the world’s most famous bodybuilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once said, "My definition of a sport is that it’s a physical activity that involves competition. Since bodybuilders certainly train and then compete, we are certainly a sport."

Bodybuilding is one of the most underappreciated sports in this country, and such competitions will go a long way in getting this sport its rightful place under the sun.