These days koorka (Malayalam) is available in plenty. I like it very much. It can be cooked easily, by boiling in a cooker and then mixed with oil and kept in pan over a low flame.
It lowers cholesterol and can be taken by diabetic patients, as starch value is less than 20%.



A popular misconception is that diabetes is caused by want of insulin. This is true of Type 1 diabetes, found among children who need daily injection of this valuable, life saving hormone.

However, elderly people who suffer from this disease, which is the greatest killer now, have more than enough insulin in their blood, according to two Canadian doctors, who are running a clinic for treatment of obesity, which is threatening even children. They have come up with a new theory, explained in their book PROTEIN POWER. It is like a water tank, getting filled with water, drop by drop. If the outlet pipe is clogged, water will come out with difficulty. By increasing the height of water level, we may succeed in getting more water.

According to this theory, hyperinsulinamia is the villain. Around the age of thirty, in India at least, the capacity of the cells to receive insulin is impaired.  To give a crude example, suppose the door of the house is reduced in size, we cannot easily enter the house. We may have to squeeze in.  When the medical department in our body gets information about apparent insufficiency of  insulin, it produces more insulin. More people will result in overcrowding in the street, that is, more insulin in the blood serum. Doctors will give you medicine to widen the door, which will be sufficient initially. Afterwards, they will administer insulin by injection, even when the patient is having insulin, much in excess of the permissible limit of ten units. There is no way of measuring insulin, except in a few research institutions.


1)      Insulin is a miser. It keeps everything under lock. It will not allow fat for energy requirements. You may walk daily for hours; but it will not reduce fat in your body. You will simply get tired.

2)      If the insulin level is reduced, glucagon will become active and all fat will be burnt. This is what happens when continuous fasting is done. If you eat rice and ghee, stop (not just reduce) rice, not ghee, to reduce weight.

3)      Hypertension will result if fat is not reduced, because the arteries will become narrow.

4)      Production of platelets in the blood, responsible for clotting of blood, will increase. This may cause heart attack, stroke etc.

5)      Infertility in women may be another result, because the ovum may fall off prematurely from the ovaries.

6)      Of the several ailments normally associated with diabetes, we do not know the link it may have with hyperinsulinamia, which is responsible for the production of undesirable eicosanoids. Research in this field is sill in its infancy.


As soon as we eat even small quantities of starchy food, insulin is secreted. It may be very small, but cumulatively it becomes too high, because the cells refuse to allow it entry. So the only way is to reduce starch intake. The doctors who have authored the book, suggest 55 gms. per day. This much we may get from tomato, lady’s finger etc. So there is no need to eat starch. Avoid not only rice, but also wheat, corn etc. The eskimoes who live on meat, have none of the life style diseases, which threaten modern men and women, as never before.

For a long time I have made soybean my staple food. Eggs, curd, vegetables (except tapioca, potato, colocasia etc.), limited quantities of dhal, ground nut (all nuts are good) are taken to supplement it. Take plenty of sambharam (curd mixed with water) before food. You will be satisfied after food. Raitha (curd mixed with cucumber, namkeenbundi or kheera etc.) is a good break fast.


It is extensively used in China. Its medicinal qualities are yet to be researched. It reduces cholesterol (all propaganda against cholesterol has been thoroughly exposed by the authors), rejuvenates the body and has even Viagra effect, though not immediately. My right hand used to shake while writing. Now it is not there. It shows a link to the nervous system.

Media, both print and electronic, have totally blacked out this new theory, even as they are full of articles about diabetes.


Tension is the greatest enemy of mankind.  IT CAN CAUSE EVEN CANCER. Regular exercise and yoga help in reducing tension. Things happen as scripted by Him. Why worry about any thing?


Why do cells refuse to receive insulin? Unless we can answer this question, we are unable to treat it. There are any number of plant derivatives, mostly fruits, which help in reducing blood sugar: from tamarind seeds to touch-me not. A patient may benefit from one item, which may not have any effect on another patient. This shows that each diabetic case is different. The farmaceutical industry is thriving by giving medicines and reaping profit, running into trillions of dollars.

Why should they bother?




 Any high school student will tell you that leaves of plants use carbon dioxide of the atmosphere and water absorbed by the roots to make starch in the presence of sunlight for use by the cells of plants. As a layman, certain doubts arose in my mind which I discussed with senior students and a professor in university. I should confess, instead of clearing my mind, it only helped to confirm my thesis that every cell in the plant (except dead cells !) re-uses the CO2 and H20 , released during respiration, for synthesizing starch. This is purely a philosophical conclusion,as I lost touch with the world of science in March 1957 after B.Sc. examination.I shall enumerate some of my points :

1)      The extremely tender, minute root tips are always growing and require continuous supply of starch.In very tall trees,the distance from top leaves to the root tips may be as much as 300 metres.There is no proper mechanism for transport of starch over such distance,unless we can locate different channels for upward movement of water and downward movement of starch in dissolved form, right from root tip to leaf tip and back. Xylem and phloem tissues are mentioned as responsible for this movement,but in trees like teak, jackwood etc all tissues inside the bark except perhaps a thin  layer of cortex, are absolutely dead and impervious to water, being filled with wood oil and compressed by the weight of the trunk. That is why we are able to make furniture,boats,ships etc with wood. Actually, the clever tree is making use of the dead cells as a skeleton-like support for its branches and leaves ,the latter being mercilessly dropped after making use of them!

2)      In Silent Valley in Kerala, I was shown a very tall tree, hollow inside, with two convenient natural holes, one at the bottom and the other at the top. We can see the sky, looking up from the bottom hole! The tree is alive. How is water and starch transported when xylem and phloem are absent?  

3)      In Australia, ring cutting was extensively resorted to, for felling trees. The bark and a small part of cortex was removed by making an eight inch deep cutting round the trunk at the bottom. After about six months, the tree falls down dead. This clearly proves that the outermost live cells are responsible for water transport.

4)      We plant rose cuttings. The cells on one end develop into a shoot and cells on the other side produce roots .Plant cells are remarkably versatile.Every cell can split and produce all chemicals required for making a duplicate cell . It is impossible to believe that a root cell will wait for starch to come from leaves, when raw materials are available as a result of its own respiration, and it has the necessary technical know-how for making even complicated proteins. Do we not re-use waste in a space station? Are we cleverer than plants?

5)      There is no way for a plant cell , except in the leaves, to get rid of CO2 produced during respiration. When I, earlier, circulated my doubts in this regard, via email,I got only one response .The botanist had only one word-‘diffusion’ to desciribe the process. In the humans, is it enough if we just say ‘respiration’? We study all detailed mechanism in human physiology. In the same way, should we not describe the method used by plants to obtain oxygen and get rid of CO2? The professor also said the same thing.As adjoining cells are also producing CO2, how is diffusion possible?The area surrounding the roots will become saturated with CO2.The root will die. The conclusion is inescapable: cells are recycling water and CO2 produced during respiration.

6)      When mango fruits are produced in bulk during the season,the number of leaves are actually curtailed! Will farmers curtail production of food grains when it is required in bulk? Laburnum tree becomes almost yellow with flowers in the season, leaves hardly visible. How is starch produced when leaves are reduced?

7)      Bamboo, papaya tree etc are hollow,in the case of the former, there are segments,each one a waterproof compartment . Coconut tree mysteriously carries gallons of water to make toddy. If you cut the tree, not a trace of water is found. Are trees using nano technology?

8)      In my view,the main function of leaves is to pump water up for which lot of energy is required.Naturally,they make large quantities of starch which attracted the attention of botanists who hastily came to the conclusion that only leaves are concerned in this process.

9)      Maximum number of fish thrive in the deep oceans eating planktons which make starch in strata which receive practically no sunlight.

In view of the above, I feel more research is needed before we come to a firm concusion about the mechanism for production of starch and its transportation.

Today, institutions like NASA have all the technical capabilities to study this issue which should not be left to the comparatively ill equipped botanists.





Such terms as carbon credit find a place in newspapers almost daily. I don’t know what is all this about. To me CO2 sustains life on earth. Has the level of CO2 in the atmosphere gone up? Has it been proved experimentally?

 Before Industrialization

The whole of America and most of the old world were inhabited by a comparatively small population, a majority of whom depended upon meat and fish. Farming depended entirely on rain water as big dams were unknown. The grasslands of America and Australia didn’t produce food grains. Coal and other fossil fuels were not commercially exploited. In those days we may presume that a proper balance existed between CO2 and other ingredients of the air like N2 and O2 in spite of forest fires, the like of which we witnessed in California recently.


After Industrialization

Commercial exploitation of coal began first followed by oil and natural gas, resulting in increase in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. Simultaneously two other developments followed: increase in population (both human and animal) and corresponding growth in food grains production. Big dams were constructed and more and more areas of land were brought under cultivation. Mechanization and the use of artificial fertilizers made leaps and bounds in production of food grains, fruits and other commercial crops. The Prairies of North America became the granary of the world. Compared to grass, food grains and sugar fix a large quantity of CO2. The major items responsible for such CO2 fixation are:


  1. food grains like wheat, corn, rice, oats, soybean etc
  2. underground vegetables like potato, tapioca, beetroot etc
  3. fruits like apple, grapes, banana, dates, cherry, pineapple etc
  4. sugarcane etc


Experts can calculate the total quantity of CO2 produced by industry and that absorbed by vegetation as mentioned above and the marine vegetation in order to find out whether the net balance is favoring CO2 concentration in the air. An easier way would be to experimentally ascertain the percentage of CO2 in the atmospheric air (being heavier than air CO2 is available near the surface of the earth). If CO2 level increases O2 level should decrease. In my childhood (I am 70+) O2 level was 20% as mentioned in my text book. Has it changed? An atom of carbon combines with two atoms of oxygen to form CO2 which is absorbed by the leaves of the plant to form starch. In the process two atoms of oxygen are released into the atmosphere. We may say that each carbon atom burnt ultimately results in the release of two atoms of oxygen, thus resulting in increase in the level of O2. Level of CO2 dissolved in the ocean water should also be checked. If this level increases, fishes would die en mass. Has this happened? If the level of CO2 dissolved in ocean waters decreases, plant life in the ocean cannot produce enough starch by photosynthesis. This will be a hazard for fishes and other marine life.


The volume of animal and hence plant life in the oceans is much more than that on the continents. This is because the area of the oceans is seven times the area of the continents. Also, the oceans are deep. Hence the volume of water is very much more and can contain a large population of marine life. The necessary starch has to come from plant life. So, the total bio mass in the oceans is considerably higher than that in the continent. The carbon di oxideàPlant starchàAnimalsàCarbon di oxide cycle is there in the watery medium, just as in our atmosphere. All the gases, including nitrogen, will be present in dissolved state in the oceans too. Here industrialization has not affected the ‘atmosphere’ of the ocean. This fact has to be recognized in any discussion on Global Warming.



[The percentage of various components of atmospheric air as obtained from the websites is given below:


Nitrogen 78.1

Oxygen 20.9

Argon 0.9

Neon 0.002

Helium 0.0005

Krypton 0.0001

Hydrogen 0.00005

Carbon di oxide 0.035!!!!!!!! (Poor, innocent CO2 has been maligned unnecessarily)

Methane 0.0002

Ozone 0.000004


This would suggest that the percentage of oxygen has slightly increased. If this is true it augers ill, as forest fires may become uncontrollable with increase in the level of oxygen in the coming years. Therefore, this line should be investigated separately by experts. My guess is that with unchecked use of nitrogenous fertilizers, the total bio mass in the earth could have increased. The requisite extra nitrogen must have been drawn from the atmosphere along with CO2 releasing extra oxygen into the atmosphere as pointed out above.]


The importance of proper scientific study cannot be over emphasized. Mother Nature maintains her balance, whatever her children may do!



It gives a gallon of toddy every day, the local ale of Keralites, one third of whom live by extracting it  from this too familiar tree. They give it to the cooperative, that owns a network of distributories. Being the cheapest drink, all workers go direct to the “shop”, after a day of hard work, where, sometimes they spend the whole day’s earnings.

Toddy is collected by cutting the flower bunch, which the botanists call the inflorescence, and collecting the juice coming from the cut, rich in starch and vitamins,  sweet when fresh. Our tapper at home is a family friend. He gives Rs. 50 per tree per month. All this, I learned when Ravi my Bihari son-in-law whanted a “bottle” from him.

If the flowers are allowed to grow, the inflorescencs is cut and used as a boucquet, considered auspicious and a must in marriage ceremonies, when receiving the deity of god, coming home on the back of an elephant, or simly as decoration, during festivals in temples.

The hard cover of the inflorescence, with a net like inside membrane, was used to make a torch, even in my childhood!

Have you seen a whole coconut? It has a fibrous cover, to protect the nut inside, because the whole thing falls down from a height of even fifty feet. It is very, very difficult to peel it (I should enjoy a European doing it even with the sharpest knife!). In Vetekkaran pooja, 12000 nuts have to be broken in front of the deity.  A sharp thick iron bar is planted in the soil, with the sharp end pointing upwards. The fibrous nut is brought down forcefully to hit the instrumet, when a dent is made in the outer cover, without damaging the nut inside. Now they have designed an instrument which is an innovation of this method and can be wielded even by girls.

Ropes are made from the fibrous cover which we call chakiri. it is the traditional occupation of women in the coastal districts of Keralam, from Alapusha to Kollam.The fibrbre comes loose, after soaking chakiri for months in the backwaters. The Coir Board is selling an incredible variety of coir products, including door mats. Global recession has hit this cottage industry too.

Inside the fibre is the hard shell called chiratta. It is a valuable fuel, traditionally used in the heavy ironing box. It is also used as a ladle, by fixing a handle to the shell. Artists use it to carve figures of people, animals etc.

When the nut is tender, the sweet water inside the shell, is a nutritious beverage, now available in most towns. It contains pure glucose which can be given intraveinous, I read somewhere. The soft white kernel is light food.

The ripe kernal is the source of oil, commercially used for making soaps and detergents. A Keralite will not enjoy his food, if it is not laced with coconut oil. Papadam fried in other oils is unpalatable.

The leaves of the tree, resembling in shape, the wings of a peacock, are used for making nets or mats, by weaving the individual blades together. These are used for thatching the roof or making a screen for the open bath sheds, where women take bath.

The tree trunk can be sawn into beams for making furniture, roof of houses etc.

This is my own observation. People leave the root clump, after cutting off the trunk, because it is very heavy and impossible to cut into pieces. Its inside can be scooped out, by a suitable tool, leaving the outside shell which can be used as a big bharani, as we call it, for storing mango pickles etc.

Now you tell me, is there any other tree that gives all parts of its body for human beings?