Ajay Prasad; “The Millennial Man”

Development evangelist Ajay Prasad on giving back to his home town, with the upcoming mega infrastructure project Taurus Downtown Technopark.

It’s called karma. Long ago Ajay Prasad, then a strategy consultant at a real estate management firm, social development blogger and torch-bearer of the Trivandrum Development Front (TDF), a citizen-led initiative to push the capital city’s development agenda, told me, that I should interview him on his big plans for Thiruvananthapuram, his home town. I brushed it off as an idealistic youngster’s dreams.

ajayp

At present, Ajay, Country Managing Director, India, at Taurus Investment Holdings, is the man behind the much talked about Taurus Downtown Technopark, that is set to come up in Technopark Phase III in Thiruvananthapuram. When completed, the ₹1,500 crore project is set to snazz up the scene with it’s swanky office spaces, shopping mall, restaurants, a 11-screen multiplex and a hotel, among others.

Today, it’s rather difficult to pin Ajay down for a interview, busy as he is flying around the world on work, Singapore one day, Sao Paolo the next and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is now based, the third! When we do catch up with him — in Munich, Germany, where he is on a ‘workcation’ — it’s endearing to hear that same spark for his home town alive and kicking. “I am a Trivandrumite first and foremost, having spent the first 22 years of my life here,” says Ajay.

The talkative, flamboyant 37-year-old is a former student of St Thomas Residential School, Thiruvananthapuram and graduate in Electronic Engineering from the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram. He also has an MBA from Indian Institute of Management – Calcutta and a Masters in Real Estate Development from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Ajay is already quite well-known among netizens for his blog, tvmrising.in, where he used to write detailed posts about everything and anything infrastructure- and development-related to the city, from ‘Why Vizhinjam makes all the sense in the world’ to the cinematic extravaganza that is the International Film Festival of Kerala.

taurus1

Ajay insists that his passion for all things Thiruvananthapuram is not only what tipped the scales in favour of the city, when Taurus Investment Holdings, a Boston-based global private equity firm, decided to kick start its first project in India. “The capital city has a strong service sector-oriented economic base, a lot of skilled workers and relatively well developed infrastructure,” explains Ajay.

Thiruvananthapuram, he goes on to explain, has many features that make it a sought-after destination by employers, millennials and investors. “Cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Austin in Texas and Munich are strongly based on the knowledge economy, with great educational and research institutions, lots of smart, young people and an established ecosystem of service-oriented industries such as technology, life sciences, media, tourism, health care, education and the Government. Thiruvananthapuram has over a dozen truly world-class research institutions, and scores of colleges from where thousands of undergraduates and graduates in a wide variety of subjects emerge every year and it ranks up there with Bangalore and Pune in this regard. Also, the city offers a much higher quality of life than congested metros,” he says.

That said, he admits that the city was not an easy sell to potential investors. “Truth be told, very few smaller cities in India are on the map of most decision makers outside the country. The investment industry has a herd mentality and it is always an uphill battle to convince anyone to risk investing outside the top five or six cities in the country,” he explains, adding that even in mega IT/ITes companies the only notable exceptions are Infosys and TCS, both of which have large campuses in Thiruvananthapuram.

taurus2

Apparently, the lack of high quality business and social infrastructure in Tier II cities hampers the expansion of multi-nationals into these places. “We are looking to address this gap with our project. There has been very little to no destination marketing of Thiruvananthapuram and this has made it a exhausting task to build awareness and interest in the mind of potential occupiers of office space. But then, we love challenges!”

With the acquisition of the around 20 acres of land for the project in the coming month, Taurus will have achieved a major milestone.

Ajay says he’s relishing the bumpy road ahead. “While we have already completed the concept design and master plan for the project and also ticked off some of the key approvals needed to commence development, the devil is often found hidden in the details. Building five million sq.ft. is never a simple task anywhere, be it in the capital city, Istanbul or New York. Developing the largest single phase development in Kerala will definitely present a challenge,” he says, signing off as the coos of his one-year-old daughter, Ava, capture his attention.

Short takes

Ajay is married to Viji Krishnan, a management professional. The couple enjoy travelling and watching movies and are huge fans of Game of Thrones. Ajay’s fondest wish is to “be a part of the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universe.”

He is also into reading and enjoys sci-fi, thrillers and non-fiction relating to military history, engineering and contemporary geopolitics. Ever since moving to Boston six years ago, he’s become a fan of the American NFL team New England Patriots.

Article Courtesy: The Hindu

Advertisements
Posted in Infrastructure, Life, Personalities in news, Projects, Technopark | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Century Old Living Rubber Tree in Thiruvananthapuram!

Natural Rubber tree or Para Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis – Family Euphorbeaceae) is originally a native to Amazon and Orinoco river basins in Brazil and Bolivia in South America. But since it tends to be attacked by a fungal disease in South America, rubber is not produced in significant amounts there. It was Sir Henry Vickham successfully introduced the Natural Rubber tree or Para rubber from the Amazon forests of Brazil to South East Asia. The Commercial cultivation of natural rubber in India started in the Southern State of Kerala in 1902.

But the first ever living rubber tree came to the capital city of Kerala – Thiruvananthapuram in 1880 as a gift from the Britishers to the then Raja of Travancore, His Highness Visakham Thirunal Ilaya Raja. The photograph below shows the century old (approximately 137 year old) rubber tree growing luxuriously in the premises of Thiruvananthapuram Museum.

Photograph by Chetan KarkhanisImage Courtesy: Sandeepa Chetan’s Travel Blog

About 90 percent of the world’s rubber is produced in south and southeast Asia, where its commercial cultivation began a century ago. The Periyar Syndicate, a European venture, began the first rubber plantation near Aluva in Kerala in 1902 with seeds brought from Brazil. India is the sixth largest producer after Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Malaysia. In India, Kerala alone accounts for 80 percent of the country’s rubber, followed by Tripura and other states.

Article Courtesy:

  1. Shri. Nazeer M.A, Retd. Joint Director, Rubber Research Institute of India
  2. First Post Media

 

 

Posted in Media, Miscellaneous, News, Research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kerala State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram to be blind-friendly

The 188-year-old Kerala State Central Library in Thiruvananthapuram, one of the oldest book houses in the country will soon have a separate wing for visually challenged bibliophiles. An exclusive ‘Braille wing’ will be opened soon adjacent to the main library building, located in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram city, as part of the authorities’ plans to make the 19th century institution differently-abled friendly. Popularly known as ‘Trivandrum Public Library,’ the heritage structure, housing one of the finest collections of rare titles starting from 16th century, was established in the year 1829.

library

According to authorities, steps are already on to convert a room of the three-storey new building, being set up in front of the heritage Gothic style main structure, into the Braille wing. The Braille wing is envisaged to provide all modern amenities to help make visually impaired visitors comfortable. State librarian P K Sobhana said they would join hands with various outfits and organisations including Dehradun-based National Institute for the Visually Handicapped and Kerala Blind Association for the initiative.

“Our new building is getting ready. One of the major features of it will be the Braille section. We are planning to open it in a room in the ground floor of the building,” she told PTI. Besides books in Braille format, the new wing would also have an impressive collection of talking and audio books in various languages including English and Hindi besides Malayalam. “We think, the audio books will be more useful for the visually challenged people. Not only that, it will also be a solution for the space constraints issues. Usually Braille books will consume more space which we cannot afford,” she said.

The official said she would soon visit institutions including the National Association for the Blind in New Delhi which offer advanced facilities before giving a final shape to the plan. “In future, we also have plans to prepare audio books in Malayalam with the support of outfits in this regard,” Sobhana added. An integral part of the state’s cultural landscape, the Central Library has over five lakh titles and subscribe 300 periodicals. The book house had amazed several people including world renowned English writer William Somerset Maugham.

Astonished by seeing the wide collection of world classics and continental literature, including his own works there, the writer, during his visit to the princely state of Tranvacore in 1938 had scribbled in the visitors’ book that he was ‘pleased and flattered.’ Historians say, the library was ordered to be set up in 1829 by the Travancore royal Swathi Thirunal and renamed as State Central Library in 1958. Interestingly, the visionary ruler took the initiative to build one of the first public libraries in India, before even the famed Imperial Library of Calcutta was established.

The task of organising the library was assigned to Col Edward Cadogan, the then British Resident and the grand son of Sir Hans Sloan, the founder of British Museum. The library was shifted to the present building in 1900 under the reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal, who built a structure of architectural beauty in the Gothic style in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. While the Public Library was handed over to University of Travancore in 1938, it was taken over by the government in 1948 after a resolution was passed by State Legislature.

The library, in the year 1988, was granted the status of a minor department under the administrative control of Higher Education Department with the State Librarian as its head.

News Courtesy: The New Indian Express

Posted in Books and Literature, Leisure and Recreation, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A.R Rahman Visited Thiruvananthapuram Silently!

When Thiruvananthapuram city was engrossed in the visit of Sultan Bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, the Emir of Sharjah, another Sultan, but this time of music, quietly made a quick trip to Thiruvananthapuram city last Monday. Yes, it was none other than A.R Rahman, the Mozart of Madras. A.R Rahman made his way to MANDERLAY, a stately house at Poojappura, when he came visiting his close friend and former bandmate John Anthony of Karnatriix.

28tvmrahmanImage Courtesy: Karnatriix John Anthony Facebook Profile

All is hush on what the visit was about but music must have been on their mind when they tuned in after a long time as John says in his Facebook post: ‘cAtchIng uP afTer quiTe sOmeTime & hAd loTsss tO cAtch Up ……..😜 ‘. The ace guitarist also put up a photo on his wall of the two men in black exchanging notes in his garden.

Sivamani, A.R. Rahman, the late Jo Joo and John had formed a band, Roots, which had rocked Chennai when it was formed in the Eighties. They jammed with all kinds of musicians, including Carnatic musicians like T.V. Gopalakrishnan and Kadri Gopalnath. But once A.R Rahman, then Dileep, got his first movie, the band moved on to a new groove.

As always, it is learnt that A.R Rahman prayed at Beemapally mosque before leaving Thiruvananthapuram city on the same day. Some photographs that found their way to Facebook are the only signs of the maestro’s visit to Thiruvananthapuram city!

News Courtesy: “The Hindu”

Posted in Culture, Life, Music, Personalities in news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Onam Special Trains to/from Thiruvananthapuram/Kochuveli

To clear the extra rush of passengers during the Onam festival season, railways will operate special trains from various parts of the country to  Thiruvananthapuram/Kochuveli.

onam_blog_header

  1. Train No. 82607 Chennai Egmore – Kochuveli Suvidha special train via Nagercoil will leave Chennai Egmore at 08:20pm o­n August 24 and 31 and reach Kochuveli at 12.25pm the next day.
  2. Train No. 06068 Kochuveli – Chennai Egmore special fare special train via Nagercoil will leave Kochuveli at 03:30pm o­n August 23 and 30 and reach Chennai Egmore at 05.45am the next day.
  3. Train No. 04426 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Kochuveli special fare special train via Palakkad will leave Hazrat Nizamuddin at 05:55 am on September 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 and on October 7, 14, 21 and 28. The train will reach Kochuveli Terminal in Thiruvananthapuram at 11:00 am on Mondays.
  4. Train No. 04425 Kochuveli – Hazrat Nizamuddin special fare special train via Palakkad will leave Kochuveli at 11:00pm on September 4, 11, 18, and 25 and on October 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30. The train will reach Hazrat Nizamuddin at 03:00 am on Thursdays.
  5. Train No. 06014 Thiruvananthapuram – Chennai Central special fare special train via Palakkad will leave Thiruvananthapuram at 07:00pm on Wednesdays and will reach Chennai central at 11:30am the next day.
  6. Train No. 06013 Chennai Central – Thiruvananthapuram via Palakkad will leave Chennai Central at 03:15pm on Thursday and will reach Thiruvananthapuram Central at 07:45am the next day.
  7. Train No. 06011 Thirunelveli –  Mangalore Jn special fare special train will leave Thirunelveli at 05:55pm on Thursday and reach Mangalore Jn at 01:00pm the next day.
  8. Train No. 06012 Mangalore Jn – Thirunelveli will leave Mangalore Jn at 03:40pm on Friday and reach Thirunelveli at 08:35am the next day.
  9. Train No.07120 Kochuveli – Secunderabad special fare special train via Palakkad will leave Kochuveli at 08:30pm o­n September 6 and reach Secunderabad at 03.00am September 8.

 

Posted in Festivals, News, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cabinet Approves Construction of Doubling of Railway Line with Electrification Between Thiruvananthapuram & Kanyakumari

track

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi, has approved the construction of double line with electrification between Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, on Wednesday.

The total length of the line will be 86.56 kilometers. The estimated cost of the Project will be ₹.1431.90 crore and completion cost of ₹.1552.94 crore with 5% escalation per annum.

The project is estimated to be by 2020-21. The project will generate direct employment during construction for 20.77 lakh man days.

The project would not only speed up the operation of goods and coaching trains, but also provide additional capacity for meeting the increase in traffic in future.

The section is heavily passenger oriented which also serve the goods traffic from nearby ports. Operations from Vizhinjam port is likely to start by 2019 and 30% of its gateway traffic, is likely to be handled by the Railways.

Present line capacity of Thiruvananthapuram-Nagarcoil section of this route has already saturated which is causing heavy detention to trains moving towards Kanyakumari and Chennai.

Line capacity of this route needs to be enhanced to meet the demands for additional trains and smooth movement of trains through the route.

Posted in Infrastructure, Projects, Railways, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Attingal Bypass: NHAI is Planning to Construct !

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is planning to construct a 13 kilometre stretch to bypass the congested Attingal town in Thiruvananthapuram district in its revised alignment to develop Cherthala – Kazhakoottam corridor of NH 66. “It will start from Kaduva Palli, near Kallambalam and rejoin the existing stretch at Mamom just after Attingal. This way we will be able to avoid the congested Attingal town altogether,” said R Venkata Krishnan, project director, NHAI-PIU Thiruvananthapuram.

NH

The stretch though Attingal is one of the most hazardous on NH 66 and a major bottleneck in the yet to be widened Cherthala-Kazhakootam corridor. Steps are underway for issuing the 3A notification for the stretch and it is expected to be complete by September. There is yet no decision on the placing of a toll booth in the stretch as it depends on the completion of the Alappuzha and Kollam bypasses, both being carried out by the Public Works Department (PWD).

“Once the bypasses are complete, the PWD will erect toll booths. Only then will we able to come to a decision on our toll booths. It is not feasible to go for separate toll booths exclusively for NHAI in the stretch as it will put a double burden on commuters,” Mr Venkata Krishnan said. As per NHAI norms, toll booths are to be placed 60 km apart. The 173 km Chertala-Kazhakootam stretch is expected to have two toll booths, one each in Alappuzha and in Kollam.

Source: “Deccan Chronicle”

Posted in Infrastructure, News, Projects, Roads | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment