Sunday, August 28, 2016

Saketh Myneni qualifies for US Open

Saketh Myneni took another significant step forward in his professional career by entering the main draw of the US Open. The 28-year-old Myneni, ranked 143 in the world, outplayed Pedja Krstin of Serbia 6-3, 6-0 in the third and final qualifying round. He did not drop a set in the three rounds of the qualifying event.

The main draw entry is worth a minimum of $43,313 to the Indian who considers the USA a second home, a place where he completed his college education and honed his tennis skills with professional support. “Glad that I got to do it at my home-away-from-home Grand Slam,” said Myneni. Injuries and fitness issues had troubled him during the French Open and Wimbledon earlier in the season.

“I am very happy with my progress and looking forward to the big challenges. It is a dream come true and I hope it is just the start of a new beginning,” said Myneni.

It has been an interesting season for Myneni. He had given a glimpse of things to follow by making the final of the Delhi Open Challenger when his all-round style, the deft touch in combination with his big game, shook many a quality player out of his comfort zone.

“It was something of a goal for me. The grind on the Tour for the last couple of years and the experience that revolves around it has made me better., Ramkumar Ramanathan lost 7-5, 6-1 in the first round to Alessandro Giannessi of Italy. He settled for $5,606.

The results: Qualifying event (third and final round): Saketh Myneni bt Pedja Krstin (Srb) 6-3, 6-0; Second round: Myneni bt Mitchell Krueger (USA) 7-6(6), 6-4.

First round: Myneni bt Albano Olivetti (Fra) 6-3, 7-5; Alessandro Giannessi (Ita) bt Ramkumar Ramanathan 7-5, 6-1.

Rohan Chalasani Honored at White House with Environmental Award

Indian American teen Rohan Chalasani was honored with 62 other students and 18 teachers at the White House for their contributions to environmental education and stewardship, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

The 2015 winners and honorable mentions for the annual President's Environmental Youth Award and the 2015-2016 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators were honored for their work.

The PIAEE awards recognize innovative environmental educators who integrate environmental learning into their classrooms using hands-on, experiential approaches. The PEYA awards recognize outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth.

Chalasani, a junior at Fox Chapel High School in Pittsburgh, was an EPA Region 3 winner for his impact of energy consumption reduction on household carbon footprints. More information about Chalasani’s project was not immediately available.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Indira Naidoo appointed as Canada's new Associate Education Minister

Indira Naidoo-Harris could have her hands full as associate minister of education, early years and child care.

Rookie cabinet minister Indira Naidoo-Harris is being shuffled from pensions to pre-schoolers.

Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Wednesday that Naidoo-Harris, who had been charged with overseeing the soon-to-be-defunct Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, is getting new responsibilities.

“Access to high-quality, affordable child care is essential to Ontario families,” Wynne told reporters at a downtown YMCA day care facility.

“This new role in cabinet demonstrates our continued commitment to building a child care and early years system that will make life easier for parents and give children the chance to flourish,” she said.

With the Liberals spending $120 million over three years in new funding to create 4,000 licensed day-care spaces‎ in schools across Ontario, Naidoo-Harris could have her hands full as associate minister of education, early years and child care.

In June, the first-term Halton MPP was elevated to cabinet as associate minister of finance for the Ontario pension plan.

But a national deal with the premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to enhance the Canada Pension Plan negated the need for a separate Ontario retirement scheme.

Wynne’s government spent $70 mill‎ion on the ORPP, including severance packages for people hired to administer the plan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kiran Challagundla the man behind PV Sindhu’s exceptional fitness

Racquet skills aside, the one defining attribute of PV Sindhu over the last week has been her fitness. The 83-minute final went the way of Carolina Marin on account of her superior court craft and not for Sindhu being found wanting in limb.

Behind the silver is a story of years of hard work. After all, the 21-year-old first turned up to work with coach Pullela Gopichand when she was all of eight years old. Her fitness bulwark has been built since then and two crucial months of training in the lead up to the Games were the apogee of an incrementally increasing work load over 12 years.

“Her daily schedule consists of three sessions, with the first one beginning at 4am. It continues till 6.30 or 7am. We can go through as many as a thousand shuttles per session,” says Gopichand, the coach with the Olympic medal touch. To put it in context, during the final, only 25 shuttles were used.

It goes on: “We come back by about eight for another couple of hours of group session. Then it’s back again around 11am for an hour and a half. In the evening she has a gym and court session or a gym and running session.” So how many hours a day is that? “Six to seven.” How many days a week? “Six”. Is your mind boggling yet? Hold on, it gets more intense.

Sindhu does at least a 100 push-ups and 200 sit-ups a day. The latter are not of a single type but different variations (seven to eight) of exercises that activate the core and abdominal muscles. Thrice a week she does 600 to 700 abdominal routines. By a conservative estimate, she does about 600 pushups and 2400 abdominal exercises each week.

While Gopichand is the master planner and overall monitor, the fitness execution it left to the physio Kiran Challagundla. Kiran (Native of Ganeshunipadu - Guntur dist and S/o well known yoga master Bikshamayya Guruji) made your correspondent realise just how hard they have been working at their academy in Hyderabad to pull off this silver.

Kiran with Saina Nesval and Farmer National Champion Chetan Anand 

“Sindhu is a tall girl. For her, balance and stability drills are essential. The routine has to keep varying and we tweak it each week. Graded loading is the key,” says Kiran. The player has a blood test every two months so that her nutrition and supplements can be tweaked to compensate for any deficiencies. Her body weight and heart rate are constantly monitored to asses her physical condition.

When it comes to building the kind of endurance that the sport demands, there is a lot of legwork involved. The same graded approach comes into play. “We do different things. Like two to three sets of ten 400m runs or one 2.4 km run. Some days, we push for a 10 km run. The point is to keep the training varied, not let the body get used to it and therefore stop growing,” says Kiran. Progressive loading is what the fitness industry calls this.

Much has been made of coach Gopichand’s ban on junk food and sweets from Sindhu’s diet in the run up to the Games. But it’s elementary to him: “The sugar hampers recovery, it causes inflammation,” says Gopi. Kiran clarifies that becoming a champion means giving up the right to choose what you eat. If you have a child and nurture dreams of Olympic glory, pay attention to this: “There is nothing like what she prefers. She eats what she is told to.”

There’s constant supervision and each meal is measured out. “A challenge that we have with Sindhu is that her appetite is very less. We monitor each meal and give her high calorie food when she’s not feeling hungry enough,” says Kiran.

That’s also why the supplements are key. “Even during the Games she has been carrying three types of nutrition supplements in her bag. These vary – high energy, protein-based or recovery inducing.” They can be fluid based or energy bars.

After the six or so hours of training, the day is still not done for Sindhu. There is always recovery. “There are three bits to that. Post practice, at night and then next morning. It comprises active recovery which is yoga, sleep, relaxing in the swimming pool and light fitness. Passive recovery is icing, massage etc,” says Kiran.

Gopi is not too happy that Sindhu does not like pranayam (yogic breathing routines) too much. “Yoga is very good, but they have to believe in it. I do and I hope one day she will too,” says Gopi.
All this and they still aren’t completely satisfied with her. “She is just 21 years old. She will fill out. She can improve at least 20% in all aspects – strength, endurance, balance….at least minimum 20% we can guarantee,” says Kiran.

Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu Ruler of Amaravati

Muktyala fort ‘Harihara Vilas’
Amaravati: The temple town of Amaravati was once ruled by Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu. He was the man behind establishment of Jaggayyapet and Achammapet on behalf of his parents. He ruled up to 552 villages and towns located on borders of Krishna district including Madhira, Khammam, Kalidindi, Kondapalli, Kondaveedu, Vinukonda, Ponnuru, Nizampatnam and Palivela near Rajahmundry.

He provided large temple towers at Lord Narasimha Swamy temple at Mangalagiri and Amareswara Swamy temple in Amaravati. He built Lord Brahma temple at Chebrolu village near Guntur and installed 108 Sivalingas in temples at various villages in one auspicious muhurat. Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu was born in 1761 and died in 1816.


* Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu ruled Amaravati
* Vasireddy Sri Rama Gopala Krishna Maheswara Prasad was the Raja of Muktyala
* He conducted a lot of research on Ayurveda and cancer and published ‘Sri Dhanvantari’ magazine
* Historically important tools, artefacts and knives were housed in Mahendra Vilas in Amaravati

His ancestors like Vasireddy Dasaradhi Naidu, Ramanatha Babu, Mukhyeswara Prasad, Venkatadri Naidu, Uma Maheswara Prasad, Chandra Mouliswara Prasad, Erlagadda Ankineedu Prasad, Mallikharjuna Prasad, Sivarama Prasad and Ramakrishna Prasad once lived in spacious forts and castles in Muktyala, Kondaveedu, Challapalli, Jayantipuram and Kondapalli etc. 

Raja Vasireddy Sri Rama Gopala Krishna Maheswara Prasad was the ruler of Muktyala in the early 20th century while Raja Vasireddy Bala Chandrasekhara Varaprasad was the king of Amaravati at the same time.

Vasireddy Rama Gopala Krishna Maheswara Prasad and Bala Chandrasekhara Varaprasad were freedom fighters, known for their interests in poetry, dance, music and Ayurveda.

Maheswara Prasad was the proposer for construction of Pulichintala Project to supply irrigation water to the starving lands, but the then government scrapped the idea as the ayacut was very low. 

So, after spending Rs 60 lakh on research to find the best place for an irrigation project, he had identified Nandikonda and initiated proposals for Nagarjuna Sagar project. 

He was also the man who had set up ‘Arsha Rasayanasala’, a laboratory where different types of research on cancer was carried out for decades in the three-storeyed Muktyala fort ‘Harihara Vilas’.

As a lover of Buddhism, he also planned setting up museums in Muktyala and Amaravati and collected thousands of artefacts for the purpose.

Vasireddy Bala Chandrasekhara Varaprasad rebuilt the palace in Amaravati and renamed it ‘Mahendra Vilas’ in 1930s. The Muktyala Raja family initially lived for about six months during every year in Amaravati in the Mahendra Vilas. 

Subsequently they used to live there for two months and then for 15 days during Sivaratri period. Mahendra Vilas also has a large number of historically important tools, artefacts and knives inherited by the Vasireddy family over generations.

The Harihara Vilas is now being used as a guest house by KCP Cements while the Mahendra Vilas is occasionally used by the Vasireddy family. 

He was known as a very good soul who worked for the welfare of the common man. He was the man behind the idea of construction of Nagarjuna Sagar and spent lakhs of rupees on research for identifying the best place.”

Muktyala Raja was a poet, writer and interested in Ayurveda. He did a lot of research on Ayurveda and cancer and published ‘Sri Dhanvantari’ magazine for more than 50 years. 

“A number of unpublished research documents and books on cancer, thousands of artefacts of Buddhism lie in the fort and they are the property of the Andhra Pradesh people.