Monday, February 28, 2005

Microcredit and Microfinance

In continuation of the previous post, I would like to add these:
For further readings:

In the General Budget 2005-2006 presented today, Government of India has proposed to increase the Microfinance development fund to Rs.200 crores.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Prof. Muhammad Yunus

One does not always need to have large money to help people. The poor but skilled people need very small money to help themselves come out of deprivation. They might not possess anything for collateral. Banks do not give loans to them. Local moneylenders squeeze these people. The scene seems to be very familiar. Professor Yunus, the economist, happened to meet such people. When he met Sufia Begum way back in 1974, he never knew it would change his life and that of others. Professor was on his visit to a local village in a famine gripped Bangladesh. Begum would weave bamboo stools from morning to evening to earn fifty paise profit in each stool. Professor also learnt that the moneylenders had not allowed Begum to increase the selling price as a part of her repayment of loans. Then he made a list of people who needed a small amount of money and found out they needed only 1500 Bangladesh Taka (roughly Rs.1100/-). He was shocked. People normally talk of investing millions and millions of Takas for economic development. But these people needed only a little. He lent that money to them and asked them to repay whenever they could afford. He also realized that this was just an emotional and personal response but what these people needed was an institutional mechanism. Grameen Bank, banking for the poor, was born. The implementation of micro-credit was also born.
For Further Readings:

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Bhaskara II was born in 1114 or 1115 and died around 1185. His famous work Lilavati is said to be named after his daughter, to console her for an astrological forecast that went wrong.
The story goes that Bhaskara used his knowledge to choose the most propitious date and time for his daughter's wedding. As the time approached, one of her pearls fell into the water clock as she leaned over it, stopping the outflow of water. Before anyone noticed, however, the critical time passed and the wedding had to be called off. The hapless Lilavati never married, and now she is remembered only through the book that bears the name.
(From Mathematics and Its History by John Stillwell)
I have also read somewhere about a legend which says that the wedding indeed took place but her husband died soon after.

Friday, February 18, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 009

(from an article by Dr.Gowri Ramnarayan)
"We walked 30 miles to hear you today but arrived only at the very end. We waited in the hope of offering our respects to you before returning to our village."
The speakers were a dust-streaked couple in crumpled sari and dhoti in remote Ayalur in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur district - where Carnatic vocalist M.S. Subbulakshmi had given a concert as the finale of a week-long temple festival. Her name had drawn from villages miles around, thousands who were at that time returning with no thought or word beyond the exhilaration her vocal music had wrought.
Drained by the two-and-a-half hour performance and passage through the adulation of the packed crowds, the (then) 70-year- old musician had no thought but of rest for the early journey of the next day. But she would not, could not, send the couple away disappointed. "Let us sing at least one song for them." The younger accompanist to whom she said this asked, "Do you know it is midnight now?" With a smile MS began to sing with the same earnestness and attention she had shown earlier on the stage.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Ilaiyaraja's Thiruvasakam

(Click here for The Hindu report. The following is from )

The much-awaited musical work of 'Thiruvasakam by Ilaiyaraja', a symphony based on Manikavasagar's Tamil verses, is now complete, the renowned music director disclosed in Chennai. It will be released in Chennai on April 14 - Tamil New Year's Day. The music director said his aim was not to provide a new dimension to the Tamil epic or to try and display his talents as a musician. He wanted to take such treasures like Thiruvasakam to the younger generation, and make them aware of the rich traditions and culture in Tamil Nadu. "We have a responsibility to tell the youth in a way they can understand about the greatness of literary and religious masterpieces like Thiruvasakam. I have merely attempted to take this to the youth," said an emotional Ilaiyaraja. "There will always be people who will question why these verses have been rendered in the album this way. However, I am not trying to say that this is the only way to sing them or that this is the way to sing them. I have done something to make the youth aware of the treasures that we have, that are lying unused and unsung right in front of us," he added. The album has witnessed excellent performances by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra in Hungary (140 players), by Stephen Schwatz, the celebrated American playwright; by Richard King, the five-time Grammy award-winning sound engineer of Sony Music in New York, and more than 200 vocalists and instrumentalists from Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Budapest and New York. The producer of this album is Tamil Maiyam, a non-profit organisation based in Chennai.

Monday, February 07, 2005

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 008

It is said that after a concert while MS was still in her teens, Dakshinamurti Pillai addressed the vidwans present and said,"Why do you indulge in acrobatics? Observe the way this little girl sings, and learn the art of simplicity from her." MS had the greatest admiration for him and claimed to have been influenced by him in her formative years.
(from Great Masters of Carnatic Music:1930-1965 by Indira Menon)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Pudukottai Dakshinamurthi Pillai (1875-1937)

Dakshinamurti Pillai was an awe-inspiring musician of those times. He played mridangam, ghatam, and kanjira. He learnt mridangam under Tanjore Narayanaswami Appa and became the student of Manppondia Pillai, a wizard, at the age of twenty-five. He then joined Balamani Ammal's troupe as percussionist. He was a colossus; a familiar figure - respected and admired. A percussion combination that was considered to be memorable and was thought to raise the standards of the concert was, Palghat Mani Iyer and Palani Subramanyam Pillai on the mridangam, and Dakshinamurti Pillai on the kanjira. He was an eternal source of encouragement to the young and an inspiration to great masters like Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer and Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer.