Events of 2010 - 11  
Events of 2009 - 10  
Events of 2008 - 09  
Events of 2007 - 08  
Events of 2006 - 07  
Events of 2005 - 06  
Events of 2004 - 05  
Events of 2003 - 04  
Events of 2002 - 03  
Events of 2001 - 02  
Felicitations to Mr. S. Muthiah
Past Chairman,
PRSI - Tamil Nadu Chapter
  ‘Honorary Member of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ award.   02.05.2002
Dr. K. Venkatasubramanian,
Member - Union Planning Commission
  “Shaping India as a    Super Knowledge Power - an agenda for action"   12.03.2002
followed by: Mr. Vijay Gupta
Vice President (Brand & Communication), Wipro
  "WIPRO - Applying thought   in schools"
Mr. K. Raghavendra Rao,
Managing Director,
Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
  “The Action Component
  in Corporate   Communications”
Mr. U. Srinivasaraghavan
Chief Post Master General.
  “Ideas Do Sell - An Innovation Mantra”   22.01.2002
Mr. Mukund Padmanabhan,
Deputy Editor, The Hindu
  "The Media in the wake of September 11".   23.11.2001
Ms. Sheela Rani Chunkath,
IAS, Chairperson, Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board
  Dynamics of communication in Public Interest campaigns   05.10.2001
Mr. N. Vittal,
Central Vigilance Commissioner, Govt. of India, New Delhi
  "Transparency and Corporate Governance: The Role of Public Relations"   13.09.2001
Mr. S.R. Kannan, Director-
Sales & Marketing, Gallup MBA
India (P) Ltd.
  "Corporate Image Survey:
Measuring and Managing the No.1 Corporate Asset"
Mr. N. Ram
Editor, The Hindu Businessline &
Frontline &
Felicitations to Mr.Pala Palaniappan
Past PRSI President on his appointment as Director - Southern Regional Council of FICCI.
  "Changing Media & Economic Scene - Transparency and the Role of Corporate Communicators"   25.06.2001
Mr. Mike Nemeswary
Canada, honoured  with the "Triumph of Human Spirit" Award 
  Chief Guest
Mr. R. Seshasayee,
M.D., Ashok Leyland
Mrs Rasheeda Bhagat Deputy Editor, The Hindu Business Line   "Changing Media Scenario"   21.04.2001
Mr. Satyan C. Bhatt
Managing Director, PRISM Public Relations
  "CRISIS PR, Proactive or Reactive -The Choice is yours"   08.03.2001

Felicitations to Mr. S. Muthiah
Past Chairman,
PRSI - Tamil Nadu Chapter
  ‘Honorary Member of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ award.   2.5.2002
Mr. T.T. Vasu presenting the life size scroll to Mr Muthiah as Chapter Chairman Thomas T. Abraham , Ms. Sushila Ravindranath, Past Chairman Satyan C. Bhatt and Vice Chairman T.G.Nallamuthu look on .  
  Mr. Muthiah thanking the speakers, guests and members.
You have done us proud dear Mr Muthiah!!

There was a palpable sense of pride and joy as PRSI Chennai Chapter members gathered in full strength on 2.5.2002 to felicitate our Past Chairman Mr S.Muthiah who was recently presented the award of Hony Member of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by the Deputy High Commissioner Michael Herridge at his residence Cottingley. The award was in recognition of Mr Muthiah's contribution towards the preservation of the culture and heritage of Chennai.

Welcoming the gathering, Thomas T Abraham ,Chairman, PRSI Chennai Chapter described Mr Muthiah as the undisputed Bhishma Pitamaha of PR in Chennai and an inspiration that the profession loves to applaud.

Mr T.T. Vasu, Director TTK Group felicitating Mr. Muthiah said, that Mr. Muthiah's contributions towards preserving the heritage of Chennai through his writings had been finally recognised. He recalled the early years of TT Maps and Publications and how Mr. Muthiah's PR skills helped greatly in interfacing with Govt. authorities. He had done a splendid job in documenting the history of the Madras club and authoring other biographies. His publications are a treat for those who don't know anything about Madras, he added.

Former business journalist and current CEO, Hansa, Sushila Ravindranath said that Mr. Muthiah, an expert at printing technology, cartography and Editor of TTK Spectrum - the near perfect house magazine of the TTK group was "a very giving person." She had turned to him for inputs on corporate groups on many occasions and he was always ready to share his knowledge. A prolific writer he packs in so much into a day and has never missed a deadline even during illness, she revealed. Past chairman of the PRSI Chennai Chapter, Satyan Bhatt (who had served as Secretary of the Chapter when Mr Muthiah was the Chairman ) highlighted the various facets of Mr. Muthiah's personality through a power point presentation.

An Engineer turned journalist, historian and author, tireless crusader for preserving the heritage and character of the city, sportsperson, avid cricket fan, teacher, editor of Madras Musings, who led a successful campaign to save the DGP's office building on the Marina from demolition, printer, publisher, who helped found India's first Degree course in Printing technology at Anna University etc. -" in sum attitude plus ability is Muthiah", he said .

Sharing other little known facts about Mr.Muthiah, he said Mr Muthiah is a man who says little but accomplishes much, a field marshall when it came to work expecting total integrity and commitment from his deputies, a tremendous host and a gentleman to the core off the field.

Mr. Muthiah in his response, thanked everyone for being there and the speakers for their kind words. He said that the award was given for battles lost, not won . Inspite of all the help that Madras Musings received from the corporate sector he felt there needed to be a complete reorientation in the way in which the Corporate sector and PR departments looked at heritage, environment and making Chennai one of the best cities.

Among the buildings and institutions he would like revived were the museum - one of the finest in terms of content but disgraceful in terms of maintenance and display, the Senate House and Victoria Public Hall where Pammal Sambanda Mudaliar staged plays , Satyamurthy addressed meetings and where the Anglo- Indians held their annual May Queen Ball etc. "These buildings are part of Madras ethos and are in a shambles. Today they are all owned or semi owned by Govt . Whereas in other parts of the world museums are funded by the private sector and Govt museums receive private funding and have private sector participation, why is it we are lacking?" he wondered. He felt that the PR Depts could help in bringing Govt and private sector together and revive these buildings as theatres and perfomance halls. Funds could also be sourced from abroad. "Govt must be willing to let go and allow professional management to take over. The PRSI should get senior people from the profession to meet with leaders of industry and see how they can work with Govt.", he suggested .

He was also pained at the disappearance of the roundabouts in the city which were earlier leased out to and maintained by the corporate houses. Other attractions like the Marina and waterways like the Adyar River, the Cooum River and the Buckingham Canal which comprise the natural heritage of the city are all in a mess. One off attempts to preserve them are of no use. Sustainability will come if there is involvement of the citizens and wider participation from private sector. Finally he urged that every institution have an archive department. PR practitioners should persuade Companies to set up the archives, store records and keep minutes which give info. Many histories of companies that he wrote were possible only because the records of the past were excellent and intact. However these mostly belonged to the British period and the moment the companies changed hands the records seemed to vanish. Histories well done are learning experiences for future generations. "My OBE would mean something only if PRSI members helped in restoring buildings and preserving heritage", he concluded. Later, Mr. Vasu presented a life size scroll bearing a caricature of Mr Muthiah with an inscription "You make us proud" and carrying the signatures of many of Chennai chapter members.

Among the special invitees present were Mrs. Valli Muthiah, Mr S. Nagarajan Executive Director Ashok Leyland, brother of Mr.S.Muthiah, Mrs Nagarajan, Mr. Mani Aiyar, doyen of the advertising fraternity, Mr.V. Murali, Chairman, Southern India Regional Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Mr.D.R. Mehta, Managing Director, RPG Cellular Services and Past Chairmen of the Chennai Chapter. Vice Chairman T.G.Nallamuthu proposed a vote of thanks, joint secretary Sudha Umashanker compered the function.


Dr. K. Venkatasubramanian,
Member - Union Planning Commission
  “Shaping India as a    Super Knowledge Power - an agenda for action"   12.03.2002
followed by
Mr. Vijay Gupta
Vice President (Brand & Communication), Wipro
  "WIPRO - Applying thought   in schools"
Dr. Venkatasubramanian forcefully making a point.  
A stimulating presentation by Mr. Vijay Gupta
Past Chairman Mr. Ramalingam presenting a memento to Dr.Venkatasubramaniam while Chairman Thomas Abraham and Mr. Vijay Gupta applaud.  
Vice Chairman Mr. Nallamuthu profiling Dr.Venkatasubramanian
The large turnout.  
"Shaping India as a Super Knowledge Power - an agenda for action"   
 - by Dr. K. Venkatasubramanian

A holistic view of education.

It was a double treat for PRSI Chennai Chapter members on 12.3.2002 with two speakers enthralling us on different aspects of Education.

"India is the place for a knowledge society. Thousands of years ago the Rig Veda invited knowledge from everywhere. Knowledge society can happen only if you have governance and political will" said noted educationist and Member Union Planning Commisssion
Dr K.Venkatasubramanian. He recalled that Amartya Sen the noted economist when asked after Kargil what ? said start elementary schools. Education should be accorded top priority and everyone should have education especially women.The literacy rates for girls is as low as 10 % for girls in states like Rajasthan and the Govt is now urging schools to bring on its rolls girls from the lowest strata of society. In a knowledge society there are no restrictions and every student who passes an exam is eligible for higher education . If we appoint thrice the number of teachers available at present we can correspondingly increase the number of students on the rolls.

He underscored the importance of making the school a place of interest. Unfortunately schools do not have blackboards, library, equipment etc. Distance education is one thing but regular education is also becoming distant. Teachers must be trained and upto date in their knowledge of the subject he stressed.

According to Dr. Venkatasubramanian, Knowledge of English is also equally important. If you abolish English you close the windows of modern knowledge. "Our neighbour China wants English teachers from India and sees English as the best way of defeating the Western world."
He recalled the words of Prime Minister Vajpayee who observed that knowledge is used to create wealth- in Western countries but in India it must be used to shift the poor to the top strata. The poor must be made knowledgable. Development is not calculated by the number of people travelling by air-conditioned cars but by how many people wear chappals, how many women go to hospital for labour. Knowledge is a weapon and leads to development. Ignorance can have dangerous consequences. Just like for industries to thrive we need PRO's , we want PR professionals in the field of education.

He hoped that the PRSI which consisted of thinkers would do something in the area of education.

Our second speaker Mr Vijay Gupta ,Vice President (Brand and Communication), Wipro talking of the programme "Applying thought in schools "said it was undertaken under the auspices of the Azim Premji Foundation. Wipro was looking at an area where it could make a difference and decided to focus on quality in education. "Children need to get the right kind of education for the work place of tomorrow. It was vital to enhance problem solving skills . Unlike thirty years ago when what you learnt in school or college was enough to see you through the work place, today it was necessary to be a life long learner and apply knowledge." It was also necessary to reskill the teacher in terms of handling the subject , encouraging enquiry based learning and making the classroom joyful. The programme had been initiated in select schools in Bangalore and hundred and fifteen teachers who taught classes 3-7 were put through it ,with one third of the cost being borne by the schools. Teachers were given exposure to alternate methods of teaching and training to introduce and close the subject .

Children were introduced to group work, brain storming, case study, project work as opposed to the chalk and talk method. Every child got a turn to speak. The children were not assessed on the basis of standard answers to standard questions or learning by role but on the basis of high thinking skills. There is no one right answer to any question he noted. The programme aimed to enable the child to think through the subject, make sense of it, question and challenge the teacher and discover knowledge, not merely absorb information. Students were asked to summarize, explain, illustrate and hypothesize a concept.

Although some schools were changing over to the new methodology
it was important to mainstream it. Wipro is into this as part of its commitment to social causes. As it covers the area of thinking creatively
it fitted in with Wipro's byline "applying thought in everyday life". In due course Wipro hoped to scale up and take the programme to schools in other metros. "Once we build up mass we will be able to go to CBSE, ICSE and get them to change. It is not a one off effort and it is necessary to get school based support and the support of parents so that the teachers stay motivated and what is taught is not destroyed at home .
The challenge is huge, with one million schools and five million teachers in the country " he concluded.

Mr.K.Raghavendra Rao, Managing Director,
Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
  “The Action Component
  in Corporate   Communications”
Chairman Thomas Abraham making his opening remarks.  
No flowery talk but a practical presentation on Social responsibility -" The Action Component in Corporate Communications" by Mr.K.Raghavendra Rao, Managing Director, Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
The audience hanging on to every word of the speaker.  
The Action Component in Corporate Communications
 -by Mr.K.Raghavendra Rao

Socially Responsible Corporates – the need of the hour.

"It is good for corporate citizens to be socially responsible. Social responsibility should start from the top. It would be a pity if we just did our jobs and went, "said Mr.K Raghavendra Rao, Managing Director- Orchid Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, addressing members of the PRSI Chennai chapter on 20.2.02.

" We have more number of poor people than anywhere in the world . Throw in communal, religious aspects besides illiteracy and indiscipline and you have a mindboggling web. Do not see what the government can do but see what you can do" he stressed .

His own sense of social responsibility he attributed to his modest middle class background , the disparities he saw among people on his world travels and the cultural upbringing he received thanks to his grandmother .

"If basic education is provided, people’s thinking changes, they analyse situations and behave better, so we have taken up education, health, women, child development, youth and infrastructure development" he informed the audience.

Adoption of tuition teachers, career guidance programs, best student, teacher awards, conduct of summer camps, free tuition, financing higher education of deserving students who are later absorbed in the company, encouraging weaker students by giving them books have all paid off and the percentage of passes in a school at Tirupur, aided by Orchid had gone up from 42 to 87 %.

In the area of health, supply of free medicines, eye camps, surgeries, distribution of spectacles are some of the things corporates can do, and among the initiatives taken by Orchid. Finding that employment of Women was not happening and that merely giving money proved unproductive, women were given training in tailoring and embroidery and helped to find a market.

Wherever basic infrastructure was lacking it was created - chairs and tables were supplied, funds provided indirectly for facility creation, electrification, and an ambulance donated.

"Right from day one we have had a 100 percent effluent recycling plant built to international standards. The recurring cost is about Rs.10 crores and though there is no direct profit or benefit to shareholders it was installed to set an example that a corporate has no right to damage the environment." To combat water shortage and minimize drawing of ground water they formed a trust and harvested rain water, giving back to the environment almost 100 million litres of water. Closed centrifuges that provide protection to the workers have also been installed, he said. .

All this required a co-ordinated approach between corporates, governments and agencies .

"Social responsibility is an important element of being a corporate citizen. It is our endeavor to touch the lives of people in a sustainable manner. Corporates can do this only if the company is run profitably . That is why Orchid was set up as an export oriented unit. We wanted to harness scientific capability, prove we are second to none and use some of the profits for betterment of society.

There are different models all over the world - the US model is to make money every year and donate 5 % for social good. In the British and Japanese models colonies are adopted around the factory township and developed .

Contribution of corporates should be silent with the recipient feeling that the quality of his /her life has improved as against an impression being created that it was done to garner publicity. It is a communication exercise.

Social responsibility emanates from the value system of the top management

If PR professionals can influence top management to be socially responsible it is a job well done." he concluded .


Mr. U. Srinivasaraghavan, Chief Post Master General.   “Ideas Do Sell - An Innovation Mantra”   22.01.2002
A welcome address with Vice-Chairman Nallamuthu's stamp.  
Dr.Srinivasaraghavan demystifying the ideation process.
The audience lapping it all up.  
IDEAS DO SELL - Dr. U. Srinivasaraghavan

If you thought ideas were the exclusive preserve of creative professions and least expected to find them in a 150 year old department like the Postal Service you were in for a pleasant surprise. Dr.U.Srinivasaraghavan I.P.S.- Chief Post Master General, Tamil Nadu Circle, speaking on "Ideas do sell - An Innovation Mantra" at our meeting on 22nd January 2002 at Hotel Connemara proved how simple innovations in response to changing customer needs could bring in big business.

"The starting point of all innovation is irritation. After which you discover something convenient". Citing the example of a 3 M innovation like a 'Post it' note pad, he said you identify what makes life miserable or what causes a problem (You have an idea and you need to write it somewhere) and then innovate.

The idea of Multi-purpose counters was the result of observing that people were wasting a lot of time waiting at counters, getting articles weighed, buying stamps, registering the articles .Though when Dr Srinivasaraghavan mooted the idea of Multi-purpose counters it was pooh poohed for starters they were set up with an old Bradma machine in his room. Multi-purpose counters facilitated transactions at one place and sold very well he recalled ,
"Every idea comes from a continuum. Often it is nothing but a reinvention of the wheel "
The realisation that the Postal Dept. was fast losing the cream of its business to the Courier Companies led to the introduction of Speed Post . The Courier Companies had merely replicated the Postal Service and cashed in on the fact that letters were being posted and people were anxious to receive their mails on time. Innovation is the result of internalising, accumulating knowledge and ruminating on it .

Although Speed Post had institutional backing and reliability, Courier Companies claimed to be able to track and trace consignments on the latest technology. With the introduction of Speed Net, track and trace was introduced for Speed Post consignments and put on the Web. "Innovations become innovations only when we operationalise and nurture them with care. Ideas need to be tested using the SWOT analysis and implemented with a bit of marketing savvy.

Way back in 1985 when the Department of Posts was bifurcated into the Telecom Department and Department of Posts, the Postal Department was looked upon as a labour intensive department with no money or capital and low morale. But we consciously decided to fight back. Today we are in a much stronger position and have taken to Technology in a big way, he said .

With the growth of the economy in the nineties another opportunity presented itself. Companies like Reliance with around one million share holders were mailing annual reports and AGM notices in bulk. Not wanting this business to go to someone else, the mass mailing or business post facility was thought of with the Postal Department offering the business house a complete service by which it enclosed a letter in a cover, gummed and mailed it (even generating a profit of 35 paise per letter) For all that it was not an earth shaking innovation, he pointed out .

However, he did admit that some ideas like " Hybrid mail" by which A4 size documents could be transmitted, bombed. The idea was good, but it had not been positioned correctly. Ideas prematurely introduced may not work, he added..

"While the Postal Service does not exist to make a profit, it cannot be a drain on the exchequer. The money order is a great product for sending money but one on which we incur a lot of costs .We cannot get out of a great market (2.54 lacs of money orders are sent every month in Tamil Nadu) but continuing meant loss. With the concept of V-sats money, orders are now instantly transmitted.

The written word may have become less important but this does not mean physical mail is coming down. Documents and parcels continue to be sent. So we started express mail to service this segment and are now leaders in Tamil Nadu.

We are currently eyeing corporate money transfer. Large number of Banks are not able to do this. Up to Rs.1 crore can be instantaneously transferred. We will soon move into logistics . We are testing the ground and are planning to tie up with big players.

The Postal Services in 2005 or 2010 will not be the same as it is now. We may still be delivering letters but it will be the biggest financial institution. At present it handles amounts to the tune of Rs.175 crores in Savings Deposits. It is also the second largest Insurance Agency next to the LIC."

Dr Srinivasaraghavan also stressed that it is important to have a grievance addressal mechanism in place " People do not complain when they get fed up. Unarticulated complaints are fewer but they can make or mar an organisation. One percent of dissatisfied customers can add up to a sizeable section of the population. ."

"We are not in the Postal or banking business or Insurance Business - we are in the innovation business. The Postal service is not a passive reactor but a positive and pro- active contributor. We have a whole array of product and services., of ideas converted into innovation. Many of our staff are just plus two graduates who have been trained. Ordinary people can be groomed into extraordinary individuals.

Creation of an organisation that can come up with ideas is important. Sadly we are encouraging poaching of manpower instead of encouraging organisations to nurture talent and incubate and nurture ideas .This should be the prime focus for HR people.

Ideas don't sell in a vacuum but in a social context and in a nurturing climate where they can be sustained. We are heading towards difficult post WTO days. We have to think hard and forums like PRSI should urge us to ideate collectively on what needs to be done .

Mr. Mukund Padmanabhan, Deputy Editor, The Hindu   "The Media in the wake of September 11".   23.11.2001
Mr.Mukund Padmanabhan driving home a point  
Chairman Thomas Abraham sets the tone for the meeting with his opening remarks.
Changing trends in Conflict Coverage

The September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre may even change the way conflict is covered.

what with News being doctored and regulated said Mr. Mukund Padmanabhan, Deputy Editor, The Hindu who was our guest speaker on the 23rd November.Referring to a distinction made by historian E.H. Carr between a project of journalism and a project of history he noted that Carr observed that journalists look for immediate or precipitating causes while historians look for long term causes. Illustrating this with the question "What caused World War I", a journalistic account would attribute this to the murder of the Archduke of Sarajevo while a historic account would emphasise a wide range of long term causes.

Soon after the Sept 11 attack, there were a string of newspaper articles urging us to see it not merely as the handiwork of terrorists but as a result of longstanding US policy in the Middle East -- on the Palestine question, vis-a-vis the various monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and so on. While such analyses are not necessarily wrong, they reflect a common tendency among journalists -- namely to turn historians or look for long term causes whenever they are faced with events that embarrass them. Drawing a parallel, he said when the Babri Masjid was pulled out, apologists for what happened took a long view -- tracing the destruction to Babar and his wrongs. When explaining an act of moral outrage, journalists should be very careful before turning historians. Often the long view is merely a ruse to rationalise or justify acts of outrage, he said.

Turning to the resulting war in Afghanistan, he said it was not a good advertisement for journalism. There has been an attempt to sanitize visual images. For instance, the Bin Laden interviews by Al Jazeera were not telecast on American channels because of the unconvicing argument that they may contain secret visual codes. Media access to the theater of conflict has also been strictly controlled, he said.

While reporters during the Vietnam war were allowed to operate freely, access to information was largely restricted to Rumsfeld's daily briefings this time round. Security reasons were used to justify keeping journalists out, but this is a dangerous thing. If you keep the media out, this becomes a war by dictation. News from the Northern Alliance side too was pretty regulated. Only after the fall of Kabul has there been some ground level reporting and information.

The accidental US attack on the Al Jazeera television station was suspicious, he said. The TV station operated from a residential part of Kabul and the attack, although described as unintentional, raised fears that Al Jazeera was being targeted for being the only news channel which was covering events from the Taliban side.

Later, he fielded questions from the audience relating to the media coverage of the Sept 11 attack.

Talk by Ms Sheela Rani Chunkath, IAS, Chairperson, Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board   Dynamics of communication in Public Interest campaigns   5.10.2001
The guest speaker Ms Sheela Rani Chunkath IAS Chairperson Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board fielding questions from the audience with aplomb .She is flanked by Chairman Thomas Abraham and Vice Chairman T.G.Nallamuthu.
The audience listening in rapt attention to the dynamic communicator.  
Ms Sheela Rani Chunkath recapturing the excitement of the many campaigns led by her.

What a dynamic communicator Sheela Rani Chunkath proved to be. Switching from English to Tamil with amazing ease and recalling the many strategies employed in Public Interest Campaigns spearheaded by her including a concerted drive against female infanticide and currently one banning plastic bags Sheela Rani Chunkath left the audience with plenty of food for thought and action.

Sharing the excitement of the campaigns and the pointers learned she said the basic lesson was never to think one knew everything. It was a question of learning from the field and going on from there. For eg. the approach to bring female infanticide under control was not to go into a harangue about female infanticide being tantamount to murder and a crime that was punishable -although it was tempting to do so - but to convince fathers and mothers not to kill. Many of the women who killed these girl children were not criminals but victims themselves of a patriarchal society and the resultant discrimination against women. "There was no point in talking to them as criminals." she observed.

A classic case in point was a lady who was running a small bunk shop whose first born was a girl. She doted on her and spent time and money nursing the child when it fell ill. In a subsequent pregnancy, when she had twins (both girls) while her neighbour and business rival fathered two boys, her husband suggested she give the twins away in adoption as they couldn't support them. While she gave away one twin she preferred to bury the other one alive- Not killing the child but burying it somehow seemed to ease her concience. Subsequently the husband fell ill and everyone said this was because of he had wronged a female (penn pavam). And to compound her problems she had a fourth daughter which fortunately escaped being killed.

Narrating her conversation with the woman Sheela Rani Chunkath said when she asked the woman if she knew that her confession to the crime of having killed the child (on tape with the assurance that it would never be used against her ) could land her in jail the lady brushed it away by saying almost all the women in the village would have had to go to jail for they had at some time or other indulged in similar acts .

Ms Chunkanth reminded the audience that in Usilampatti a lot of expenditure was incurred in giving away a girl in marriage what with the dowry and caring for her during pregnancy." We need to start the campaign here if repercussions felt there have to be stopped..It is us who need to be educated "she said urging city folks to stop celebrating weddings lavishly because it cannot be emulated in places like Usilampatti where violence is unleashed if parents don't give dowry.

Disclosing yet another strategy adopted in the campaign against female infanticide she said ". it was necessary to look at the root of the problem not just the outward manifestation ..Instead of coming down upon killing girl children we attacked the foundations of the patriarchal society- on which the evil rested - which devalues women their work, expects girls to bring dowry etc -. A short film depicting the daughter lighting the funeral pyre of her father was also made to drive home the point that girls were on par with boys.

One more campaign Ms Chunkath helped initiate very successfully was the Literacy campaign in Pudukottai a very dry district where the agricultural wages are very low and there isnt much industry. With the Tamilnadu Science Forum launching a literacy drive there was a need for 25000 volunteers who could work for 2-3 hours everyday for about 6-9 months with absolutely no pay." People responded beautifully. Pleased to be a part of their campaign they said they felt like leaders, absolutely charged with the task of fighting the war against illiteracy and making Pudukottai the first Literate District in Tamilnadu. Slogans were made up, plays were staged , songs were composed "cycle otta kathukanum thangachi ange paar chinnaa thambi ottivaraan" and cassettes handed over to schools , panchayats.etc. Sheela Rani even played the cassettes in her car en route to work and familiarized herself with the songs in order to be able to sing along. And people had fun -they didn't simply respond to "a collector's bureaucratic call" but came in droves committed to learning to read and write and driven towards a goal .The whole movement just caught on.

"In any campaign it is not enough to just send out messages .We need to involve people., motivate and mobilise them and pyramidically expand the base. People that the community respected like school teachers and panchayat thalaivars were roped in to draw more people into the fold. It wasn't easy and a lot of planning and logistical support was required. "she remembered.

Observing that it is the urban elite who are inward looking and selfish, whereas the rural folks are generous with their time and money (.Whether it was drawing the power supply for a light needed to illuminate a hut , or paying for the electricity or providing space - for classes they rose to the occasion) she recounted a couple of sticky situations that arose. On Oct 2 when a human chain was formed Sheela Rani Chunkath drew into her fold a couple of Muslim women who were around and hadn't informed their husbands where they were going .As luck would have it the newspapers splashed the pictures the next day. But fortunately for the women they were able to buy peace at home with a little explanation.

Again when it was feared that the marriage prospects of one of the young girl volunteers who was taught to ride a bike would be affected on account of her new found mobility the members of Sheela Rani's team met the father and convinced him that his daughter was doing serious work. The girl too said she thought of herself as a teacher till the other day, now but considered herself a leader. The story had a happy ending with her happily marrying one of her colleagues and going to spread the campaign in Theni.

"With globalization it is impossible to launch campaigns on Televison, given the costs. Whereas television is a passive medium, one couldn't rely exclusively on the print media.either, though the print media helped to build an environment in which the movement could happen. Nucleating leadership groups are very important. You spend less. Besides nothing can be done without people. It is important to build an environment of excitement"she stated.

Finally turning to her current campaign banning plastic bags and burning of plastics she said a lot of persuasion is needed and demonstration to prove that action is being taken to implement the law or there would be no incentive for people to abide by the law. Notices have been carried on the back of buses to drive home the harmful effects of burning plastics. Following her meeting with the Municipal Commissioners to educate them and create awareness on the dangers of burning plastics (the release of dioxins entering the atmosphere can cause cancer ,low sperm count , affect endocrine glands and lactating mothers )almost all the municipalities stopped burning solid waste containing plastics and only one Commissioner had to be sent a notice.

"A staggering 3000 tonnes of garbage are generated in Chennai every day and the reason why we collect so much is because we don't segregate the garbage into paper, recyclable items , kitchen waste etc . There is no place for a landfill. The garbage which is all sent to the Perungudi dump becomes one unholy mess. We have to separate waste if we want to avoid a major municipality problem. By doing so we would have reduced the garbage generated and only things like old tube lights batteries will make it to Perungudi.

According to Ms Chunkath all kitchen waste could be converted into valuable manure (A family of four generates 150 grams of kitchen waste per day). All that is needed for this are a few flower pots or a pit in the garden . If kitchen waste is regularly deposited there and covered with mud it would eventually turn into manure.

"It would be a matter of pride if we can say Tamilnadu is one state which has managed to keep its towns and cities clean. In spite of having the most wonderful, historic monuments in our city it is sad that we have mounds of garbage littering the place .It is ironical that are villages are cleaner than our cities We need to excite people to keep cities clean '. . sheconcluded .

Earlier Chairman Thomas T Abraham welcomed the gathering and Vice Chairman Mr Nallamuthu introduced the speaker.

The meeting ended with announcements and a vote of thanks by Secy Daniel T.Dass, following a lively question and answer session..

                                                                        Report by Sudha Umashanker
                                                         Joint Secretary- PRSI Chennai Chapter



· Here are a few sparklers culled from Ms Chunkath's talk.

· Stop lavish celebration of weddings.

· Quit disposing garbage in a plastic bag

· Segregate household waste into vegetable matter, paper, recyclable items like plastic, disposable cans etc. You will help reduce the workload on the municipal authorities to a great extent.

· Convert kitchen waste (fruit and vegetable peels, remnants from plates, egg shells etc) into compost by depositing in a flower pot or pit and covering with mud. .

· Encourage and form car pools.

· Carry your own reusable cloth bags when you go shopping and avoid using plastic bags

Suggested Reading

If you want a comprehensive account of the Literacy Campaign read Sheela Rani Chunkath's book Literacy and Empowerment co authored with V.B.Athreya - Published by Sage Publications.


Mr. N. Vittal,
Central Vigilance Commissioner, Govt. of India, New Delhi
  "Transparency and Corporate Governance: The Role of Public Relations"   13.09.2001
             Press Reports
PRSI Chennai Chapter Executive Committee Member Ms. Geetha Shankar presenting a bouquet to Mr N.Vittal, Central Vigilance Commissioner ,Govt of India, while Chapter Vice Chairman Mr Nallamuthu applauds.
Mr Vittal launching the PRSI Chennai Chapter website. Also seen are Chapter Chairman Mr Thomas Abraham,Mr Rajendran of Nextwave Multimedia,and Vice Chairman Mr Nallamuthu.  
Mr. Vittal electrifies the audience with his presentation on Transparency and Corporate Governance-The role of P.R.
Members of the audience listening to Mr Vittal in rapt attention.

Mr. S.R. Kannan, Director-
Sales & Marketing, Gallup MBA
India (P) Ltd.
  "Corporate Image Survey:
Measuring and Managing the No.1 Corporate Asset"
Mr.K.S.Bhalla, Regional General Manager, Shipping Corpn. of India, Chennai handing over a memento to the speaker, Mr. S.R.Kannan.
Mr.Kannan answering questions posed by the members.  

Inauguration of year's activities
Mr. N.Ram
Editor, The Hindu Businessline &
Frontline &
Felicitations to Mr.Pala Palaniappan
Past PRSI President on his appointment as Director - Southern Regional Council of FICCI.
  "Changing Media & Economic Scene - Transparency and the Role of Corporate Communicators"   25.06.2001
Chief Guest Mr.N.Ram, Editor, The Hindu Businessline lighting the Kuthuvilakku during the inaugural meeting.
Hindu Chief Advertisement Manager Mr.V.Kalidoss handing over a memento to Mr.Pala Palaniappan on his appointment as Director, Southern Regional Council of FICCI.
Mr.R.K. Baratan handing over a memento to the Chief Guest Mr.N.Ram.
A section of the audience.  

Honouring Mr. Mike Nemeswary, Canada, with the "Triumph of Human Spirit" Award   Chief Guest
Mr. R.Seshasayee,
M.D., Ashok Leyland
Mr.S.Ramakrishna, Vice President - Corp. Affiars, Pfizer India Ltd., welcomes the guests & members.
Mike Nemeswary in his automated mobile chair.  
Mike's specially modified Chevrolet Blazer Truck.
Mr.R.Seshasayee, Managing Director, Ashok Leyland, presenting the 'Triumph of Human Spirit' award to Mr.Mike Nemeswary.  
Mr.R.Seshasayee, Managing Director, Ashok Leyland, addresses the members and guests.
Chief Guests, invitees and TV crew.  
Press Report              

PR Day Celebrations          
Chief Guest & Speaker - Mrs Rasheeda Bhagat , Deputy Editor, The Hindu Business Line   "Changing Media Scenario"   21.04.2001
Mrs.Rasheeda Bhagat responding to questions from the floor.
Members and guests during PR Day celebrations 2001.  

Mr. Satyan C.Bhatt Managing Director, PRISM Public Relations   "CRISIS PR, Proactive or Reactive -The Choice is yours"   08.03.2001
Mr.Satyan Bhatt, M.D., Prism Public Relations making a presentation on CRISIS PR.  
Mr.Satyan Bhatt shows the audience a news report as part of his presentation on CRISIS PR.

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