''Farm tourism''- Kerala’s new attraction

Kerala, Jan 31: A Kerala village has made a cocktail of its hospitality with the traditional way of farming to attract more tourists, creating a heady concoction called 'Farm Tourism'.

With astounding scenic backwaters and breathtaking beauty, the 'God's own country' is already one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world. But Kerala also has lush green countryside that is being promoted as the latest attraction.

Around 24 university students from the United States of America (USA) are literally toiling their way to experience the traditional way of farming in Kuzhoor village of the Kerala.

As a part of an educational tour to learn Indian culture, tradition and various art forms, students of Virginia University are scheduled to spend three days learning the art of traditional farming.

They sweat from morning till evening, ploughing the fields using oxen, fill water with the help of wooden rollers wheels, spray fertilizers and sow paddy saplings. But the students are happy with the interesting experience they are getting.

“Its very interesting to actually get experience in another country because we talk a lot about it but its important actually to do hands on work and talk to people and understand their lives more,” said Andrea bowman, a student.

The tour operating company, New Indian Voyages, which had conceptualized the unique concept says they had received inquires from various other universities as well.

“Because of University courses like this the villagers are planning to replant this paddy field because they are expecting more people to interact with foreigners again and again,” said Francis Paul Kandamkulathy, New Indian Voyages.

Apart from generating profits for tourism industry, these tours provide a means of livelihood for the locals as well. But these tours are more popular with foreign tourists than in the domestic tourist circles.

Mobiles may run future economy

London, Jan 31: While cellphone credit—the transfer credit between phones with a simple text message—has partly replaced cash to in some parts of the African continent, a paper now predicts that more economic functions will soon come to be carried out through mobiles.

The paper has been submitted to a workshop on the future of social networking organised by W3C, the body in charge of global web standards.

It says that the next step is to give cellular phone users the equivalent of social networking websites like Facebook.

Gloria Ruhrmund, a South Africa-based mobile social media consultant, envisages that combining social network-style services with existing mobile credit transfer systems may further take over from traditional banking systems.

According to her, such mobile social networks may provide new routes to pay salaries, provide health advice, mobilise voters, and to connect and educate isolated communities.

Some social mobile tools, such as instant messaging service NokNok, are already established in Africa, reports New Scientist magazine.

Cold as dangerous as drink while driving

London, Jan 31: Having a bad cold or the flu can be as bad for driving as a couple of whiskies, a new reports has revealed.

According to the study, symptoms such as a stuffed-up head, grogginess and sneezing have the same impact on people’s abilities as a level of alcohol close to or at the drink-drive limit.

In the research, for Lloyds TSB Insurance, one hundred drivers with a range of conditions including colds, stress and headaches and 50 who were healthy were put through a hazard simulator test, reports the BBC.

From the analysis, the study revealed that drivers with colds scored, on average, 11 percent worse - equivalent to the effect of a double whisky.

The study, carried out by PCP research agency, looked at 60 people with colds and flu as well as 40 with other conditions including premenstrual syndrome.

They said that applying the 11percent effect to reaction times would add 1m (3.3ft) to stopping distance if travelling at 30mph (48km/h) - on top of a normal distance of 12m (40ft).

It would add 2.3m (7.5ft) onto the normal stopping distance of 96m (315ft) if travelling at 70mph (113km/h).

Bullying could be good for kids

London, Jan 31: Being a victim of bullies at school can actually be good for children, according to an academician.

Helene Guldberg, associate lecturer in child development at the Open University suggest that bullying can help students to learn how to manage disputes and boost their ability to interact with others.

In an article on Spiked website, Guldberg urged teachers not to break up "boisterous banter or everyday playground disputes" and let children handle it themselves.

She said that the "obsession" with bullying among teachers and politicians was depriving children of the "experiences they need to develop".

However, her idea was panned by anti-bullying campaigners.

Despite the government’s crackdown on attacks and intimidation, almost half of children still claim they are bullied at school.

"Teachers are increasingly lumbered with the task of looking after children's health and wellbeing rather than being allowed to get on with the task of educating them,” the Telegraph quoted Guldberg as saying.

"Children are encouraged to assume their relationships with other children are damaging, and tacitly encouraged to look upon their peers with trepidation and suspicion.

"If we treat children as if they cannot possibly cope with hurtful experiences, then we will likely undermine their confidence and make them less likely to cope with difficult events in the future.

“In effect, we will prevent them from growing up," she added.

Cow in court for identification parade

Panaji, Jan 31: Moo! A strange sound to be heard in court. And the sight of a cow that was brought to a Goa court for an identification parade was stranger still.

A large crowd gathered to witness a unique judicial proceeding in Valpoi, located about 70 km from state capital Panaji, where a cow made its appearance in a local magistrate's court.

The rusty brown bovine along with its owner was ordered to be present in the court's premises to complete the identification parade in a criminal case, filed at the Valpoi police station last year, where two men were accused of attempting to slaughter a cow.

In 2008, the police had arrested two men for stealing the cow, which they were allegedly planning to slaughter.

The cow was rescued and handed over to the owner, Mangal Desai, by the police.

"As part of today's (Saturday's) formalities the cow was brought to court, so that the two witnesses could formally identify it as the same cow which was being taken to the slaughterhouse," explained defence advocate Kala Dalal.

The cow walked to the court over a distance of 1.5 km, in a procession organised by the members of the Go Raksha Samiti (Cow Protection Committee).

"We had filed the complaint last year against the illegal slaughterhouse. We have brought the cow to court in order to take the case to its logical conclusion," Hanumant Parad, a senior member of the Samiti, told media.