Saturday, April 22, 2017



Tamil Nadu  literally 'The Land of Tamils' or 'Tamil Country') is one of the 29 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai (formerly known as Madras). 

Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Puducherry and the South Indian states of KeralaKarnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. It is bounded by the Eastern Ghats on the north, by the Nilgiri, the Anamalai Hills, and Kerala on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait on the southeast, and by the Indian Ocean on the south. The state shares a maritime border with the nation of Sri Lanka.

There are lot of facts less known to common people about Tamil Nadu. Since the article is very lengthy I am posting it in two parts and this is the first part of the article:

1. Tamil Nadu is the second largest economy in India after Maharashtra.

2. Tamil Nadu is the only state which has Indian flag in its seal.
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3. Tamil language spoken by Tamil Nadu people is one of the oldest classical languages in the world.

4. 60% of the Total epigraphical inscriptions of India found by ASI (ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA) are from Tamil Nadu.
5. Tamil Nadu has the following UNESCO World heritage sites.

A -  Mahabalipuram  

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Seashore Temple,Mahabalipuram      
B-Three Chola temples: the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur, the Temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram build by chola empire. 

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Brihadeeswarar Temple,Thanjavur
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Gangaikonda Cholapuram
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Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram

C  Nilgiri Mountain railway
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                                                                 Nilgiri Mountain railway

6. Rani Velu Nachiyar (1730-1796), was a queen of Sivaganga estate in 1760-1790. She was the first queen to fight against the British colonial power in India, even long before the famous Rani of Jhansi. She is celebrated by Tamils as Veeramangai (brave girl). A postal stamp was issued to honour this brave queen.

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                                                            Rani Velu Nachiyar
7. Vellore mutiny of 1806 was the first instance of large scale uprising of Indian sepoys against British East India company.

8. Tamil Nadu has the highest proportion of women working in police force in India (12.5%)

9. TAMIL Written literature is the oldest in the world surviving for more than 2000 years.

10. TAMIL NADU is the largest producer of banana, turmeric, flowers and Tapioca in India.

11. The Traces of migration from Africa about 70000 years ago have been found in a village near Madurai, Tamilnadu. People living in Tamil Nadu may be one of the oldest thriving migrants from Africa.Every drop of human blood contains a history book written in the language of genes-- SPENCER Wells, population geneticist who surveyed the village-The rare genes of “NRYM130“ which is found among all the primitive aboriginals was proved to be present in Jyothimanickam Village people.

12. Bhakti movement started in Tamil Nadu and spread to North India.

13. The game kabaddi originated in Tamil Nadu.India is by far the successful international kabaddi team in the world, know why?We have been playing it for centuries as our native sport.
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14. TAMIL NADU is the top tourist state of India for three consecutive years from 2014

15. People of Tamil Nadu has great love for their language “TAMIL” that they have named their kids as follows:-

Tamil selvi/selvan,Tamil Anbu, Senthamil selvi/ selvan,Tamilanban, Tamil Arasan / Tamil Arasi,Tamil Mithran,Tamil Vanan,Thamizhini,Shemmozhi (classical language), Muthamilselvi, Tamil priya Tamil Alagan,Thenthamizhosai ,Tamizhnidhi Tamizhiniyal .

16. Tamil Nadu leads the country in organ donation- Times of India

17. Tamil Nadu tops the nation in solar power and wind power generation.

18. Chennai amounts to 60% of the country's automotive exports to the world. Chennai is known as the Detroit of India. It is one of the top ten automobile hubs of the world.Chennai emerging as global export hub for small cars: TN Govt - ET Auto

19. Spencer Plaza located in Chennai is the oldest shopping mall of India.

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                                           Spencer Plaza
20. Koyambedu bus terminus in Chennai is the largest in Asia.
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                                                       Koyambedu bus terminus
21. Vandalur zoological Park in Chennai  is the largest in India in terms of area. It is also the first public zoo of India.

22. World health organization (WHO) has rated ADYAR CANCER INSTITUTE as top ranking center in the country.

23. Kathipara Junction in Chennai is the largest cloverleaf flyover bridge in Asia.

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                                                Kathipara Junction

24. Archaeological evidences indicates the crucible steel process started in Tamil Nadu before the common era (0AD). This wootz steel was exported to Damascus, Syria from India to make Damascus steel which are used in making sharp resilient blades . India exported steel ingots to Middle East from 3 A.D. to 17 A.D.

25.Everyone knows that Marina Beach in Chennai is the second longest beach of the world. But it must also  be noted that it is the longest natural urban beach in the world.
Chennai is the cultural capital of India.
Source of the article: Email received from a friend
Photos: Google images

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Significant Science and Tech Discoveries Ancient India Gave the World

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“We owe a lot to the ancient Indians, teaching us how to count. Without which most modern scientific discoveries would have been impossible.” – Albert Einstein
One of the oldest civilizations in the world, the Indian civilization has a strong tradition of science and technology. Ancient India was a land of sages and seers as well as a land of scholars and scientists.
Research has shown that from making the best steel in the world to teaching the world to count, India was actively contributing to the field of science and technology centuries long before modern laboratories were set up. Many theories and techniques discovered by the ancient Indians have created and strengthened the fundamentals of modern science and technology. While some of these groundbreaking contributions have been acknowledged, some are still unknown to most.

Here is a list of 16 contributions, made by ancient Indians to the world of science and technology, that will make you feel proud to be an Indian.

1. The Idea of Zero

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Little needs to be written about the mathematical digit ‘zero’, one of the most important inventions of all time. Mathematician Aryabhata was the first person to create a symbol for zero and it was through his efforts that mathematical operations like addition and subtraction started using the digit, zero. The concept of zero and its integration into the place-value system also enabled one to write numbers, no matter how large, by using only ten symbols.

2. The Decimal System

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India gave the ingenious method of expressing all numbers by means of ten symbols – the decimal system. In this system, each symbol received a value of position as well as an absolute value. Due to the simplicity of the decimal notation, which facilitated calculation, this system made the uses of arithmetic in practical inventions much faster and easier.

3. Numeral Notations

Indians, as early as 500 BCE, had devised a system of different symbols for every number from one to nine. This notation system was adopted by the Arabs who called it the hind numerals. Centuries later, this notation system was adopted by the western world who called them the Arabic numerals as it reached them through the Arab traders.

4. Fibbonacci Numbers

The Fibonacci numbers and their sequence first appear in Indian mathematics as mātrāmeru, mentioned by Pingala in connection with the Sanskrit tradition of prosody. Later on, the methods for the formation of these numbers were given by mathematicians Virahanka, Gopala and Hemacandra , much before the Italian mathematician Fibonacci introduced the fascinating sequence to Western European mathematics.

5. Binary Numbers

Binary numbers is the basic language in which computer programs are written. Binary basically refers to a set of two numbers, 1 and 0, the combinations of which are called bits and bytes. The binary number system was first described by the Vedic scholar Pingala, in his book Chandahśāstra, which is the earliest known Sanskrit treatise on prosody ( the study of poetic metres and verse).

6. Chakravala method of Algorithms

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The chakravala method is a cyclic algorithm to solve indeterminate quadratic equations, including the Pell’s equation. This method for obtaining integer solutions was developed by Brahmagupta, one of the well known mathematicians of the 7th century CE. Another mathematician, Jayadeva later generalized this method for a wider range of equations, which was further refined by Bhāskara II in his Bijaganita treatise.

7. Ruler Measurements

Excavations at Harappans sites have yielded rulers or linear measures made from ivory and shell. Marked out in minute subdivisions with amazing accuracy, the calibrations correspond closely with the hasta increments of 1 3/8 inches, traditionally used in the ancient architecture of South India. Ancient bricks found at the excavation sites have dimensions that correspond to the units on these rulers.

8. A Theory of Atom

One of the notable scientists of the ancient India was Kanad who is said to have devised the atomic theory centuries before John Dalton was born. He speculated the existence of anu or a small indestructible particles, much like an atom. He also stated that anu can have two states — absolute rest and a state of motion. He further held that atoms of same substance combined with each other in a specific and synchronized manner to produce dvyanuka (diatomic molecules) and tryanuka (triatomic molecules).

9. The Heliocentric Theory

Mathematicians of ancient India often applied their mathematical knowledge to make accurate astronomical predictions. The most significant among them was Aryabhatta whose book, Aryabhatiya, represented the pinnacle of astronomical knowledge at the time. He correctly propounded that the Earth is round, rotates on its own axis and revolves around the Sun i.e the heliocentric theory. He also made predictions about the solar and lunar eclipses, duration of the day as well as the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

10. Wootz Steel

A pioneering steel alloy matrix developed in India, Wootz steel is a crucible steel characterized by a pattern of bands that was known in the ancient world by many different names such as Ukku, Hindwani and Seric Iron. This steel was used to make the famed Damascus swords of yore that could cleave a free-falling silk scarf or a block of wood with the same ease. Produced by the Tamils of the Chera Dynasty, the finest steel of the ancient world was made by heating black magnetite ore in the presence of carbon in a sealed clay crucible kept inside a charcoal furnace.

11. Smelting of Zinc

India was the first to smelt zinc by the distillation process, an advanced technique derived from a long experience of ancient alchemy. The ancient Persians had also attempted to reduce zinc oxide in an open furnace but had failed. Zawar in the Tiri valley of Rajasthan is the world’s first known ancient zinc smelting site. The distillation technique of zinc production goes back to the 12th Century AD and is an important contribution of India to the world of science.

12. Seamless Metal Globe

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Considered one of the most remarkable feats in metallurgy, the first seamless celestial globe was made in Kashmir by Ali Kashmiri ibn Luqman in the reign of the Emperor Akbar. In a major feat in metallurgy, Mughal metallurgists pioneered the method of lost-wax casting to make twenty other globe masterpieces in the reign of the Mughal Empire. Before these globes were rediscovered in the 1980s, modern metallurgists believed that it was technically impossible to produce metal globes without any seams, even with modern technology.

13. Plastic Surgery

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Written by Sushruta in 6th Century BC, Sushruta Samhita is considered to be one of the most comprehensive textbooks on ancient surgery. The text mentions various illnesses, plants, preparations and cures along with complex techniques of plastic surgery. The Sushruta Samhita ’s most well-known contribution to plastic surgery is the reconstruction of the nose, known also as rhinoplasty.

14. Cataract Surgery

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The first cataract surgery is said to have been performed by the ancient Indian physician Sushruta, way back in 6th century BCE. To remove the cataract from the eyes, he used a curved needle, Jabamukhi Salaka, to loosen the lens and push the cataract out of the field of vision. The eye would then be bandaged for a few days till it healed completely. Sushruta’s surgical works were later translated to Arabic language and  through the Arabs, his works were introduced to the West.

15. Ayurveda

Long before the birth of Hippocrates, Charaka authored a foundational text, Charakasamhita, on the ancient science of AyurvedaReferred to as the Father of Indian Medicine, Charaka was was the first physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism and immunity in his book. Charaka’s ancient manual on preventive medicine remained a standard work on the subject for two millennia and was translated into many foreign languages, including Arabic and Latin.

16. Iron-Cased Rockets

The first iron-cased rockets were developed in the 1780s by 
Tipu Sultan of Mysore who successfully used these rockets against the larger forces of the British East India Company 
during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. He crafted long iron tubes, 
filled them with gunpowder and fastened them to bamboo 
poles to create the predecessor of the modern rocket. With a range of about 2 km, these rockets were the best in the world
at that time and caused as much fear and confusion as damage. Due to them, the British suffered one of their worst ever defeats in India at the hands of Tipu.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Autism spectrum disorder

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Autism(Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interactionverbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. 
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development.
Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's life. These signs often develop gradually, though some children with autism reach their developmental milestones at a normal pace and then regress. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent in early childhood, typically before age three.
Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some developmental delays associated with autism can be identified and addressed even earlier. Autism Speaks urges parents with concerns to seek evaluation without delay, as early intervention can improve outcomes.
Types of ASD
There are three different types of Autism Spectrum Disorders:
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  • Autistic Disorder (also called "classic" autism)This is what most people think of when hearing the word "autism."  People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability.
  • Asperger SyndromePeople with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder.  They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests.  However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called "atypical autism")People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder.  The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.
Signs and Symptoms of autism
ASDs begin before the age of 3 and last throughout a person's life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with an ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms might not show up until 24 months or later. Some children with an ASD seem to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had.
A person with an ASD might:
  • Not respond to their name by 12 months
  • Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
  • Not play "pretend" games (pretend to "feed" a doll) by 18 months
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people's feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Have delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Give unrelated answers to questions
  • Get upset by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
Causes of Autism:
Autism is due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some cases are strongly associated with certain infections during pregnancy including rubella and use of alcohol or cocaine. 
Controversies surround other proposed environmental causes; for example, the vaccine hypotheses, which have since been disproven. 
Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood.
Is there any medical cure for Autism?
We know that autism is a complex, neurological, developmental disorder, which affects the way the brain processes information, the cause of which is still unknown. Since we do not know what causes autism, we do not have a way to fix (cure) it.
At present, there is no cure for autism: there is no medication, no pills, no injections which can make the autism go away. Of course, as a parent you may read or hear about many claims of cures for autism. This may be more so in the last few years with the emergence of the internet as a 'bazaar' spreading some truly bizarre promises of cure. Being an invisible condition, it is easy for parents to be swayed to the 'right treatment' that would make their child's autism somehow 'go away'. 
Treatments for Autism:

Autism is not an illness that can be treated or 'fixed'. Instead, as mentioned earlier, it is a neurological condition, wherein one needs to teach the individual to reach his/her maximum potential using intervention and management strategies that would work most effectively with their unique learning style.
The most effective and well-documented intervention or management option for individuals with autism is a structured behavioural training programme. This intervention is based on understanding the unique learning styles of individuals with autism, making accommodations for the same, and using and adapting behavioural principles to teach.
The focus needs to remain at all times on the core areas of difficulty, i.e. communication and social understanding. Teaching appropriate play and leisure skills, and self-help skills, are equally important. Autistic children can make significant progress if the intervention is appropriate and consistent and hence, a combination of a good school and parent training is the best intervention strategy.
Early intervention, before the child is five, is especially crucial to the child's progress. This is why an early and accurate diagnosis is so important. Autistic children grow to become autistic adults, and there is a particular need for focus on teaching every skill to independence, and to provide meaningful outlets for social interaction and employment where possible.
Some of the scientifically proven effective intervention techniques include:
Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped CHildren Method (TEACCH) emphasizes on using skills that children already possess to enable them to become independent. Organizing the physical environment, developing schedules and work systems, making expectations clear and explicit, and visual materials are effective in developing skills and allowing people with autism to be independent of direct adult prompting.
Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) emphasizes on one-to-one sessions in discrete trial training (DTT) to develop cognitive, social, behavioral, fine motor, play, social and self-help skills. The technique involves structured presentation of tasks from most simple to more complex, breaking them down into small sub-skills, and then teaching each sub-skill intensely, one at a time. It involves repeated practices with prompting and fading of prompts to ensure success. It uses rewards or reinforcement to help shape and maintain desired behaviours and skills.
Verbal Behavior Analysis (VBA) is an addition to ABA and is also based on breaking down and teaching language in functional units unlike the teaching of language based on grammar. In addition to teaching at the table, teaching in (and with) the natural environment (NET) is important.
Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) is built on the fact that non-verbal children with autism may attempt to spontaneously use objects to communicate. 
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People with autism tend to be visual learners, and a visual means of communication can help them to understand and use the process of communication. PECS aims to teach spontaneous social-communication skills by means of symbols or pictures and the teaching relies on behavioural principles, particularly reinforcement techniques. Behavioural strategies are employed to teach the person to use functional communicative behaviours to request desired objects. The requesting behaviour is reinforced by the receipt of the desired item.
All people with autism can and do make significant progress. They become more responsive to others as they learn to understand the world around them if the intervention that they receive is appropriate, consistent and autism friendly.
Can Autistic Children attend regular schools:
There are a number of autistic children who have been integrated into regular schools. The chances depend on several factors. The most important are the individual capacity and functioning levels of the child, how early diagnosis was received, and thereafter the kind and the appropriateness of the early intervention provided to the child.
Though some children with autism can learn like their typically developing peers, most have different learning styles and the therefore teaching styles also need to be different. Most children with autism may require some accommodations in the teaching style/ environment for them to be able to learn better and to keep the schooling a positive experience. Sometimes simple changes in existing classroom techniques and environmental adaptations make teaching autism-friendly. However, in some schools this may not be understood and therefore children with autism face difficulties and many may have to drop out of mainstream classrooms after grades four or five.
Organizations that cater to the needs of children and adults on the autism spectrum:
There are several organisations all over the world who are taking care the needs of children and adults on the austism spectrum. In India there are 22 such organisations located in major cities. From speech therapy to music therapy, these organizations are using various methods to bring a behavioural change and are doing some amazing work in this field.
I give below the link for the site listing out the organisations
Donate to the Organisations which help autistic children
We can donate to various organisations which help autistic children in different ways. Such  donations are tax deductible.
Pictures: Google images