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10 January 2015

Press release: Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad to Commission India's First Hi-Speed Rural Broadband Network in Kerala


  
Department of Telecommunications
Ministry of Communications & IT, Government of India

Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad to Commission India's First Hi-Speed Rural Broadband Network in Kerala 

Bangaluru, 10th Jan 2015:
Hon'ble Minister for Communications & IT Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad will be commissioning India's First Hi-Speed Rural Broadband Network in Idukki District, Kerala under the Digital India Programme at a function to be held in Thiruvananthapuram at 12th January, 2015 at 5.30 p.m. 

Hon'ble Chief Minister of Kerala Shri Oommen Chandy will be the Guest of Honour at the function which will be held in the august presence of Shri P.K. Kunhalikutty, Hon'ble Minister for Industries & IT, Govt. of Kerala, Shri M.K. Muneer, Hon'ble Minister for Panachayats & Social Welfare, Govt. of Kerala, Shri P.J. Joseph, Hon'ble Minister, Irrigation, Govt. of Kerala, Shri V.S. Achuthanandan, Hon'ble Leader of Opposition, Kerala, Shri V. Muraleedharan, State President BJP, Kerala and Shri Joice George, Hon'ble Member of Parliament, Idukki. 

The event marks a key milestone in ushering in a new era of Digital India. NOFN is the largest rural connectivity project of its kind in the world. It seeks to link each of the 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats of India through Broadband optical fibre network. On its completion, NOFN is expected to facilitate Broadband connectivity to over 600 million rural citizens of the country. 

NOFN, which is being funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), Department of Telecom, Ministry of Communications & IT, Govt. of India is envisaged as a non-discriminatory telecom infrastructure, which will bridge the gap in rural telecom access. 

NOFN will enable each of the 2.5 Lakh GPs to have 100 Mbps of bandwidth, thereby facilitating the delivery of various e-Services and applications including e-health, e-education, e-governance and e-commerce in the future. 

In the first phase NOFN shall be extended to cover 50,000 GPs, with the balance 2,00,000 GPs expected to be covered in a phased manner by 2016. The project is being implemented by three central PSUs (CPSUs) namely BSNL, PGCIL and Railtel in the phase first. 

A key feature of the project is that the GPON equipment used in the project has been indigenously designed and developed by C-DOT and manufactured domestically. The project will be centrally managed by BBNL through a high capacity Network Management System being developed by C-DOT. 

With the commissioning of Idukki, the district, which is relatively inaccessible and has a large tribal and rural population, will become the first district in the country to have all its GPs connected through NOFN. It is expected that the establishment of NOFN would open up new avenues for access service providers like mobile operators, cable TV Operators etc. to launch next generation services, and spur creation of local employment opportunities encompassing e-commerce, IT outsourcing etc. as well as services such as e-banking, e-health and e-education for inclusive growth. This will also enable delivery of various services such as local planning, management, monitoring and payments under Government schemes at panchayat level. 

Digital India is a flagship programme of the Central Government which aims to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The provision of broadband connectivity to every citizen is one of the key objectives of Digital India, and the commissioning of the NOFN network at Idukki is expected to mark a significant step towards realization of this ambitious vision. 

Amrut Distilleries' Whisky Tasting Event

Amrut Distilleries recently held a blind whiskey tasting at The Glass House, Lavelle Road, Bangalore. Being a scotch aficionado, it was an opportunity I personally looked forward to since the stakes involved were high. The eventful afternoon was brought to life by Mr. Ashok Chokalingam introducing us to the art of blind tasting of whiskeys from around the world. He is a renowned whiskey expert who was also voted whiskey Ambassador for the year 2012, by the Icons of whiskey.
Ashok guided us trough the samples of whiskeys, each time explaining how to appreciate your whiskey and walking us trough different ways to ensure we understood it right. With ample helpful insights, he brought us to understand the smokiness of oak barrel, the sweetness of caramel, the punch of citrus or the spiciness of anise just by nosing the drink and then by letting our taste buds rejoice the glittering whiskey.
We started off with nosing the aromas in the first glass. It smelt a little strong. This was followed up by warming up the glass and the liquor inside with our body heat for a good few minutes before nosing it again. And boy, it was stronger and richer in citrus and wild berries. The taste was sweet, smooth, and almost too sweet. Rolling it around my mouth followed by swallowing it gently, it left a feeling of being smooth in the mouth with no burning in the throat and a short caramel finish.
The flavors and complexities of the whiskeys were interesting and overwhelming as we moved along the glasses. One smelt of bananas but turned out to taste like vanilla and spice. Another was sweet as liquorices with flavors of bourbon, but in reality made in India! We spoke of factors affecting color, taste, how soft water and peaty water make their differences with Ashok guiding and helping us with dollops of hints and directions; all the while trying to keep the event fun and informative but not overwhelming. While no water was allowed, soft drinks were a definite taboo. We consumed several drams in a little over an hour, and though I would have personally liked more time to understand the drinks, huge pangs of hunger struck.
 We moved on to the rest of the glasses. We needed to score the drinks as well on those parameters. The exercise took longer than I anticipated. It was almost 4pm as we were totaling our guesses and scores to see how the whiskeys had fared. The crowd highest was Jim Beam, but got the lowest from me! There were three of Amrut whiskeys in the tasting, single malt, fusion blend and peated whiskey, with JW Black Label, Glen Morangie and Jim Beam being the other three whiskeys in the tasting.
In 2010, Jim Murray named the Amrut Fusion single malt whiskey as the third best in the world
The blind tasting ended with evaluation of the score cards here the most popular choice was Jim Beam followed by- The Amrut Fusion and the Amrut Peated Single Malt then on the list was Johnnie Walker Black Label and Glen Moraingie.
‘Amrut Distillery’ has won numerous awards worldwide and also won the third best whiskey in the world title. The fact that such fine whiskey is made in India makes me proud and the distinct taste has put it on my favorites list.


Photo Credits to All those who made it there and were nice enough to share them with us.






09 January 2015

Chilis - An American Restaurant - Review

Chilis, notice a missing 'L' and 'E'? If I was take it from the mobile perspective, LE stands for Low Energy and that is exactly what is missing! The staff was full of gusto and a highly motivating manager!This high energy definitely reflected on to the food which was typically American Styled. More about it below.

Designed uniquely, the place reeks of privacy and elan! You could go and plonk yourself on any table and peacefully have your meal without having to worry if somebody is overhearing what you talk! This definitely is a USP of the place I would say! While most places make judicious use of the place to ensure maximum people can be seated, Chilis ensures that while you are with them, you are very much cared for!

Starting up with something to drink from their elaborate choice of cocktails and mocktails, we were suggested to start out by trying their Mojitos and Margaritas! First up was the Watermelon Margarita followed by the Persidente Margarita which literally shook us up! This was a hand shaken Margarita made of Tequila, Cointreau and premium brandy serving two people. While it was really strong in terms of alcohol content, the way it blended with the taste of the food was mind boggling. This was followed up by Cosmopolitan. A blend of Citron vodka, Cointreau and cranberry juice, it definitely was a very strong drink leaving me totally in love with the taste of vodka blend in with cranberry juice.

When we drink, we eat. Starting with the appetizers, Chilis put forth to us a suggestion of Triple dipper with Paneer bites, Texas cheese poppers and Fried Paneer quesadilla bites. Since we were already hungry, we were game enough to try anything vegetarian. The Paneer bites were excellent and had a wonderful crunch to it. In fact, the entire flavor was intact on the inside of the Paneer and the other ingredients. It had retained a unique texture which was definitely yum! The Texas cheese poppers have always Chili’s USP so I would not go into its detail here. The fried Paneer quesadilla bites was deliciously made which resulted in it being gone in a jiffy. Make sure you do not miss it out for anything when you are there!

The Big mouth burger bites was the next to hit our table. They were good, but I found them too Indianised for the restaurant. I did not like them as much as I liked the others. The big mouth burger bites is served with onion rings, fries and a jalapeno ranch dressing which was really good. The onion rings and fries were crispy and the jalapeno ranch dressing was delicious.
We went on to order the BBQ grilled Paneer salad (actually known as BBQ chicken salad for the non veggies, also available with Spicy garlic and lime shrimp for the sea food lovers), because I wanted to taste their salads. The ingredients appeared interesting. What had appeared to be great was even better when devoured. It was a crispy mixture of grilled Paneer, cheddar cheese, pico fe gallo, corn relish, cilantro, crispy tortilla strips and a touch of BBQ sauce served with ranch dressing.
While we do personally make pesto pasta most of the time at home and know how it should taste; the Cilantro pesto pasta with veggies, which was a blend of fresh green, cilantro, nuts and olive oil enlivened in a cream based sprinkled with pico de gallo, little did we expect that it wouldn't taste like the traditional Pesto recipe.The cilantro flavour over powered everything and the dish fell flat. I am guessing it was a one off incident.
Marinara pasta with veggies was made with a handsome dollop of tangy tomato sauce with a tinge of garlic and basil. I have nothing against tomatoes but then after having eaten so much already, I decided to take a break and skip it. To top it, I found it a tad little too tangy for my taste anyways.

Chillis has a commendable fare of desserts and really deserve brownie points for that. The desserts were ordered twice and we literally jumped into them. The Chocolate Chip Pie paradise was the first to come in. It was nice and sweet and went really well with the Vanilla Ice cream topped over it.
Molten chocolate cake topped the chocolate chip paradise pie on my dessert list. We managed to report it missing and safey tucked inside the stomach in a matter of seconds. Although everyone had eaten enough, once this was on the table, each one of us were drooling. This is one dessert that you must have if you have a sweet tooth!

Pics Credit to Prateek

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