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Friday, Dec 14, 2001

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Southern States - Tamil Nadu-Chennai

Talk of the town

PONDICHERRY WAS always the shopper's paradise in the good old days. Then the Uniform Sales Tax changes spoilt things for the UT, and people no longer had to go there.

Now, there is news from the land famous for its `city of dawn' attraction. Pondicherry is hosting a Shopping Festival, between December 17 and January 16, bringing up visions of what goes on in Dubai or closer home, in Hyderabad during shopping festivals.

Besides the consumer goods which will be on sale, there are the `speciality' products for which this sunny city with an Indo-French ambience is famous. That means hand-made paper, cotton textiles, incense and perfumes, studio pottery and restored antique furniture.

``It is our endeavour to provide the shopper a combination of shopping and entertainment,'' says Mr. P. Mathew Samuel, MD of the UT's Tourism Development Corporation.

The entertainment part consists of music and dance by such names as Chitra Visweswaran, Anita Ratnam, Sudharani Raghupathy and Padma Subrahmaniam. There is Subbu Arumugam, Lakshman Sruthi and Abaswaram Ramji as well.

If you love the consumerist way of life, look out for some of the 3333 prizes, including a kilo of gold that are on offer for shoppers. Or perhaps you could opt for the International Yoga Festival between January 4 and 7.

There is even a challenge for gourmands - a food festival with 15 different styles of `Payasam and dosas' each. Meditate on that. Tel: 8266447

* * *

DOSES OF joy and sorrow hit the screens on Friday. The much awaited K3G (according to the promoters, it's very uncool if you didn't know that was the acronym for `Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham') starring Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan and Karriena Kapoor, just about sums the mood of the films hitting Chennai.

Directed by Karan Johar, the film is ``All about loving your parents'', rich lavish sets and of course, a multi-crore budget. In the U.S., the advance ticket sales have reported an unprecedented high, according to Satya Prabhakar, CEO of the ticketing website sulekha.com. If you haven't had your fill of drama and tragedy with `Nanda' or `Shah Jahan', check out `Majunu' or `Kasi'.

While CEE (I) TV's long awaited entertainer `Majunu' stars Prashanth and Rinke Khanna gears up for a high-profile world-wide release, the underdog `Kasi' starring Vikram is a moving tale directed by Malayalam director Vinayan, that wrapped up in 45 days.

Vikram had rolled up his eyes to look convincingly blind in the film for this deglamorised role of an innocent, rural, struggling blind lead character `Kasi'. ``The attempt itself is quite remarkable than the film.'' Insiders believe that the film would fetch Vikram critical acclaim and rave reviews.

The news is that `Majunu' Prashanth gets a double sundae after the sweet success of `Chocolate' for his `Virumbigiren' is finally hitting the screen next month!

* * *

WHAT CAN we do to ensure the rights of disabled people in the State? Now, if that was a question that a disability rights activist or a social worker was asking it would probably not make news.

On the other hand, if a District Collector were to ask the same question, and better still, go ahead and answer it, then that makes people sit up.

The Nilgiris District Collector, Ms. Supriya Sahu has asked the question and has, proactively published a handbook for district officers on their role in disability management.

Talk about making a commitment in black and white.

As she says in the foreword, ``In order to ensure that persons with disabilities realise their rights it is essential that government officers and NGOs understand the role they have to play in the management of disability at the district level.'' It just keeps getting better if you read on.

``It is also important to break the traditional stereotypes that people with disabilities deserve pity, alms and charity. We need to bring a positive change among ourselves.''

Incidentally, the officer has also done a survey of the disabled requiring care, mobilised funds for constructing houses for the disabled and formed the first local level committee under the National Trust for persons with Autism, multiple disabilities and mental retardation.

The Nilgiris is also generating a lot of organised data about its inhabitants, which is fundamental to health care and welfare reform.

Surely, commitment never goes unrecognised. The State awarded Supriya Sahu the Best Collector Award at the World Disability Day function in Chennai.

By Sudhish Kamath and Ramya Kannan

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