N. Ravikiran

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N. Ravikiran
Born (1967-02-12)12 February 1967
Mysore, India
Genres Indian Classical, Carnatic, World Music
Occupation(s) Instrumentalist, Vocalist, Musical composer
Instruments Chitravina
Years active 1969 – present
Website ravikiranmusic.com
Notable instruments

Chitravina N. Ravikiran (born 12 February 1967) is an Indian musician, considered one of the most celebrated prodigies[1] and musicians from age two (2). A slide instrumentalist, vocalist from age 5,[2] composer,[3] guru, author[4][5] and orator, he is also the creator of the concept Melharmony[6] in world music. Son and disciple of revolutionary "prodigy-maker" Chitravina Narasimhan,[7] he is the grandson of famous musician Gotuvadyam Narayan Iyengar.[8]

Youngest to receive President of India Award


Ravikiran was born in Mysore, Karnataka. Hailed as "the Mozart of Indian Music" by the Wisconsin State Journal, USA,[9] Ravikiran made his first appearance at the age of two[10] in 1969 in Bangalore.[11]

World's youngest Prodigy

Soon after, he was presented in The Madras Music Academy,[12] Krishna Ghana Sabha he was able to identify and render about 325 ragas (melodic scales) and 175 talas (rhythmic cycles) of Carnatic music.[13] He was quizzed by legendary musicians including Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Pandit Ravi Shankar, M S Subbulakshmi and Flute T R Mahalingam.[14] Ravi Shankar is said to have declared "If you don't believe in God, look at Ravikiran."[15] He won a scholarship from The Madras Music Academy.[16] Soon after, he was presented in leading institutions such as Shanmukhananda Fine Arts, Bombay.[17]


After training intensely under his father, Chitravina Narasimhan,[18] Ravikiran debuted as a vocalist in 1972, at a record-setting age of five[19] in Coimbatore and presented concerts in prominent venues in cities such as Madras, Mysore and Bangalore till age 10. His recitals – often over two and half hours – drew record crowds in major festivals and won critical acclaim in the Indian media. He resumed his appearance as vocalist from 1999 and has since presented voice concerts for major organizations in Chennai, New York, Bangalore, San Jose, Washington DC, Dallas etc. He has been featured as a vocalist in leading events including the Cleveland Festival & the Chicago World Music Festival. His vocal albums include Genius at Work,[20] Sahityanubhava – Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi[21] and The Eighteen Steps.

Slide Instrumentalist[edit]

At the age of 10, he switched over to the 21-stringed chitravina and gave his maiden chitravina concert at age 11.

Chitravina Ravikiran with Sitar Maestro Ravi Shankar

He established himself as a frontline Indian string instrumentalist within the next 3 years with recitals in major venues and festivals.[22] In July 1985, he set a record with a 24-hour non-stop solo concert in Chennai.[23] He won an exemption to perform professional concerts for Indian Radio and Television (Doordarshan) at age 12 and was invited to represent his country in Festivals of India in France (1985),[24] Switzerland (1987), Germany (1992), Brazil (2012) and countries like Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Yugoslavia (1997). He has performed extensively in major events and venues in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands, Belgium, Singapore and other countries including the Chicago World Music Festival,[25] Theatre de la Ville Paris,[26] Europalia Festival, Belgium,[27] Millennium Festival (UK), Masters of Indian Music Series, Budapest,[28] Sadlers Wells & Tate Modern (UK), Esplandae (Singapore), Oji Hall (Tokyo), Harborfront Festival, Canada, Cleveland Festival & Madison Festival (USA)[29] and Brisbane Festival, Australia.

From 1986–96, Ravikiran had the rare distinction of training under the celebrated vocalist T.Brinda, an acknowledged musicians' musician, renowned for her microscopic nuances, authentic repertoire and uncompromising values. Ravikiran's concerts on the chitravina won acclaim across the world for his "teasing precision" and "dazzling effects".[30]


Ravikiran has over 700 classical Indian compositions to his credit which include musical forms such as varnam, krti, javali, tillana and padam. He discovered a raga at the age of two and named it Choodamani after his mother. He also discovered other new ragas such as Keshavapriya, Snehapriya, Andhakarini and Mohini.[31] He is the only composer to have created pieces in each of the 35-talas of Carnatic Music.[32] He is also the only composer to have created the 72-mela ragamalika geetam, a 13-part piece that spans over all the 72-parent ragas of Carnatic music in just 7 minutes. His compositions span over five languages – Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi.

Ravikiran has also set music to select verses from the Bhagavad Gita, poems from ancient Tamil sangam literature, select verses of azhwar pashurams including Andal's nachiyar tirumozhi and diverse compositions of Purandara Dasa and D V Gundappa.

Historic Initiative[edit]

In Jan 2016, Ravikiran set a world composing record of a unique kind by setting music to 1330 tirukkural verses in 16 hours spread over 3 days at the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Taramani, Chennai (India).

12th Jan: 350 verses in about 3.5 hours, average of 100 verses per hour [33][34] 13th Jan: 420 in under 6 hours, average about 70 per hour.[35] 14th Jan: 560 in 6 hours average of over 93 per hour.

Total: 16 hours for 1330 verses. Average verses per hour: 83.125 [36]

Dance & Operatic Creations[edit]

Operatic dance creations of Ravikiran's include Lakshmi Prabhavam, which featured "Inventive instrumentation"[37] Savithri,[38] Vinayaka Vaibhavam, Ramayana (Bala Kandam and Yuddha Kandam),[39] Mahabharata (Karna Shapatam) and Panchakriya. He has also scored music for cross-cultural dance productions such as Cosmos", "Pushed to the Edge, & Illusion to Resolution and directed the dance project "Divine Equations" with Dr Vyjayantimala Bali and Natya Dance Company, Chicago, based on Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi's compositions. He has collaborated with Pt Birju Maharaj in the dance production, "Mahabharata – Geetopadesham" and Prof C V Chandrashekhar for "Karna Shapatam".


Ravikiran is well known for his cutting-edge concept of "melharmony",[40] which is harmony with an emphasis on melodic rules of evolved systems such as the raga system of Indian music. It differs from western musical harmony in that musical intervals and/or chords must be created using notes (swaras) permitted in the raga. In addition, emphasis is also placed on how the harmonization positively accentuates the structure of the music. Ravikiran introduced this award-winning concept[41] during his collaboration with artists of the BBC Philharmonic, at the Millennium Festival, UK in Oct 2000.[42]

Melharmony has inspired concerts with leading artists as well as critical discussion among scholars[43] in international conferences including Society for Music Theory Conference, Boston (2005) and Melody, Harmony, Melharmony conference, Houston (2014).[44] Ravikiran has also melharmonically rearranged and showcased the works of the great Masters in the twin-Composer series of festivals - OVK-Bach, Tyagaraja-Mozart and Dikshitar-Beethoven since 2013.[45]


Ravikiran has created music for Western Classical Symphony Orchestras, Chamber Orchestras, String Quartets as well as Caprices for solo violins. He has collaborated with top-draw artistes of various genres such as Taj Mahal,[46] Larry Coryell, Martin Simpson, George Brooks, Simon Phillips, Roland van Campenhout and orchestras such as BBC Philharmonic,[47] Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Sacramento Symphony.[48] He founded the world music group, ta-ki-Ta Trio[49] with 4-time Grammy Awardee Glen Velez and Voice Percussionist, Loire Cotler.

Among Indian maestros, he has performed with Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, T Brinda, Girija Devi, Pt Birju Maharaj,[50] Dr M Balamuralikrishna, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Dr N Ramani, R K Shrikanthan, Pt Kishen Mahraj, Nedanoori Krishnamurthy, Mandolin U Shrinivas[51] and others.


Ravikiran, renowned for his vast repertoire (in excess of 1000 compositions of master Indian composers) has trained numerous disciples all over the world,[52] many of who are award-winning performers and teachers. He pioneered the concept of tele-teaching in 1996. He is probably the first guru to have used the Flip teaching method through structured syllabuses online, and many of his video lessons are hosted by Acharyanet.com. He also brought to light hundreds of compositions of 18th century composer, Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi[53] through concerts, workshops, books and articles.[54]

Ambassador of Culture[edit]

An active champion of culture,[55][56] Ravikiran has performed in hundreds of schools and colleges all over India and USA. At age 20, he organised a symbolic non-stop 72-hour concert for "world peace and prosperity" that brought together the who's who of Carnatic music.[57]

Rural Music Education Projects[edit]

In 2006, Ravikiran pioneered an initiative for Rural Children in India with a the largest music camp of its kind for over 31,000 children in Tamil Nadu, India for the Indian Government's Sarva Shiksha Abhyan.[58] He authored the book, Inaiyatra Innishai and produced a 2-volume DVD with the same title which featured special demos by some of India's top legends. Ravikiran also composed two new pieces and also tuned a few others in core-classical ragas like Sahana and Yadukulakambhodhi, proving that classical music was accessible to all and beyond communal or caste divides. Ravikiran has proved this further by training disciples from diverse communities, regions and countries, several of who have gone become award-winners and performers. He has also given hundreds of outreach concerts and lectures in schools and colleges across India, USA and other countries.

Music in Schools & Universities in USA and India[edit]

A lobbyist for cultural renaissance in India,[59] he was invited to provide syllabuses for Music Education in Schools in India for Grades I – VIII. In 2013, he introduced Indian music through Melharmonic creations for Middle and High School level orchestras in School Districts in USA such as Middleton & Sun Prairie, WI.[60] A summer course on Melharmony was introduced at the Eastman School of Music in 2015, by Ravikiran and renowned American Composer-Musician Prof. Robert Morris.

He has introduced Carnatic music in several countries such as Slovakia, Croatia and Slovenia.[61]

Ravikiran's concerts have raised substantial funds for disaster relief including Hurricane Katrina,[62] Tsunami of 2004 as well as for educational, health and cultural initiatives.


Some of Ravikiran's other contributions[63] include:

  • Introducing the portable, bright toned, 20-stringed slide instrument, Nava-chitravina
  • Inventing the Visual Rhythm Metronome, Taal Acharya with Vanitha and Krishnan Suresh[64]
  • Resurrecting and championing the works of the composer Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi[53][65][66]
  • Introducing Indian music in numerous schools in India and USA[67]
  • Pioneering the use of teflon-slides in world music
  • Introducing revolutionary concepts in rhythm such as "Seamless korvais"[68]
  • Presenting perspective-shaping papers on millennia old concepts such as "22 shrutis"
  • Conducting hundreds of workshops and music camps across the world on both practice pieces,[69] performance repertoire[70] as well as Improvisational aspects such as Neraval,[71] Kalpana Swaras[72] and Alapanas[73]


Ravikiran has authored several best-selling books on Carnatic Music including

  • Appreciating Carnatic Music[74]
  • Perfecting Carnatic Music Level I and II[75]
  • Life and Contributions of Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi[76]
  • Saptaratnas and Navavaranams of Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi[76]
  • Inaiyatra innishai (The incomparable music)[77]

He has also penned a number of articles in leading Journals and Dailies.[78][79][80][81]


Known as a scholarly and witty orator, Ravikiran has lectured extensively across the world on music on several important topics such as:

  • Tyagaraja Panchartnam Oottukkadu Saptaratnam[82]
  • Raktitvam[83]
  • CMCM[84]
  • Ragam tanam pallavi[85]

His critical presentations on topics such as CMCM (Common Mistakes in Carnatic Music) have drawn musicians, musicologists, students and general audiences in large numbers.[86] He has presented papers in conferences like The Society for Music Theory Conference, Boston, The India-Amsterdam Conference, Netherlands and in several conferences of The Music Academy, Madras.[87]

Select compositions[edit]

Composition Raga Remarks
Adi Vinayakam Reethigowla Varnam – Part of Vinayaka Vaibhavam
Sami ninne Sahana Varnam
Sarigamadana Vasantabhairavi Varnam
Punnagai azhahil Surati Pada Varnam for music & dance
Kuzhaloodi konjidum Mohanam Pada Varnam for music & dance
Sada sharanam Gowrimanohari Krti on Vinayaka
Sakaleshwara Hamsadhwani Krti on Vinayaka
Sada nin paadame Chakravakam Krti with only descending note-phrases
Sharavanabhava Bilahari Krti on Shanmukha
Rasikapriya Rasikapriya Krti on Devi
72 Mela Ragamalika Geetam Ragamalika Class & Concert level – 73 ragas in 7 mts
Bhasha malika krti Ragamalika In 5 languages – Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit, Kannada & Hindi – Opera Ramayana
Saadaramutonu Shankarabharanam Thematic Swarakshara krti (Every line begins with S,D – R,D – G,D – M,D etc.)
Sadaa dayato Hindolam Thematic Swarakshara krti using SD,- GD,- MD, etc. and SM,- GM,- DM, etc.)
Sari samana Keshavapriya Krti – raga discovered by Ravikiran
Aashai niraiveridave Ragamalika Folksy critique on human nature
Aaraadhanai sheivaradi Ragamalika Feisty critique on posthumous reverence
Unmai unarndor Ragamalika Philosophical rumination
Vidhiyin vindai Bhupalam On destiny
Unnai naadi Saveri Padam for music & dance
Varuvai muraha Begada Javali for music & dance
Moha mataladi Vasanta Javali for music & dance
Pancha raga-tala-jati tillana Ragamalika Pallavi, Anupallavi & 3 charanams & reversing raga-tala sequence
Tarikita Khamach Tillana in Chaturashra Tishra style – Opera Ramayana
Dasha-Ranjani Tillana Ragamalika Tillana employing 10 ragas whose names end in "Ranjani" (like Shree ranjani, Mararanjani) – Opera Mahabharata
Natya Malika Tillana Ragamalika Tillana in 3 movements for 3 styles of dance – Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Kuchipudi – Opera Mahabharata
Takajham tajham Atana Dwigati Tillana (Tishram & Chaturashram) in every line
Tattom tattom Kalyanavasantam Tillana – charanam lyrics alliterate on 'va' to beat
Dheem dheem dheem Katyayani Tillana in a raga featuring only 3 notes in both ascent and descent discovered by the composer
Tamarasakshamunu Behag Varnam-Interesting plays on swaraksharam in charanam


Ravikiran is one of the most decorated artistes from India at the International, National, State and artistic levels. In most cases, he has been the first or youngest to have received such recognition, including a Fellowship from The Madras Music Academy at age two.[88]

International Level:

- Millennium Festival Award (Millennium Commission, Government of UK) – 2000
– Citation from City of Houston, USA
– Citation from City of Tulsa, USA
- Annual Melharmony Day proclamation by the city of Middleton, USA - 2013
- Melharmony Day proclamation by city of Madison, USA - Nov 8, 2015
– Best Contemporary World Album (New Age Voice Awards, USA) – 2001

National & State Level:

– President of India's Sangeet Natak Akademi Award – 2007
- Star of India Award (Wisdom International) – 1985
– Sanskriti Award (Sanskriti Foundation) – 1990
– Kalaimamani (Tamil Nadu State Award) – 1985
– Kumar Gandharva Samman (Madhya Pradesh State Award) – 1996


· Arul Isai Selvan – 1973
– Music Academy Senior Awards – several, since 1979
– Lion's International Award – 1979
– Nada Sudharnava – 1980
– Tantri Gana Visharada – 1983
– Sangeet Samraat (Wisdom International) – 1985
– Rotary Vocational Award – 1985
– Madhura Naada Mannar – 1986
– Isai Peroli (Kartik Fine Arts) – 1991
– Sangeeta Choodamani (Krishna Gana Sabha) – 1995
– Chitravina Vidya Varidhi (Yarl Society, Perth, Australia) – 1996
– Kumar Gandharva Award (Kumar Gandharva Foundation, Bombay) – 2000
– Vadya Ratnakara (India Fine Arts, Austin, TX), 2002
– Lifetime Achievement Award (Kanchi Foundation, India), 2003
– Harvard Sangeet Award (Harvard University, USA), 2005
– TTK Award (Music Academy, Madras, India), 2003
– Sangeeta Sapta Saagara (Shanti Fine Arts, Chennai, India), 2005
– Nalli Season Award (Nalli Foundation, Chennai, India), 2006
– Ragalaya Sagara (Ragalaya Foundation, London), Jan 2008
– Sangeeta Ratnakara, Cleveland, USA, 2010
– Rotary Lifetime Achievement Award, July 2011
- Sangeeta Kala Sarathy, Dec 2013 (Parthasarathy Swami Sabha), Chennai
[89] - Sangeeta Shastra Virpannar – Lifetime Achievement Award, (SAFE) Chennai Dec 2014
- ISAI Tendral, Feb 2015, ISAI, Chennai, India)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Oxford University Press (Edited by Colin Larkins – Print 2006/Online 2009) "Even if the term 'child prodigy' has been used with impropriety in the past, it is surely entirely applicable to this master of the chitraveena"
  2. ^ The Mail, 28 Sept, 1973 "Classical Recital by Ravikiran"
  3. ^ Deccan Herald, 7 May 2006 "A creator of Ragas"
  4. ^ The Hindu Dec 19, 1999
  5. ^ The Hindu, July 15, 2005
  6. ^ http://www.ravikiranmusic.com/Melharmony.htm
  7. ^ Deccan Herald, Bangalore 10 Dec 1979
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ http://host.madison.com/news/local/education/local_schools/school-spotlight-mozart-of-indian-music-visits-middleton-cross-plains/article_ccf9e83c-a080-11e2-bb5a-0019bb2963f4.html
  10. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4562RZiC4k
  11. ^ The Hindu, Bangalore (22 August 1969) "Prodigy in Carnatic Music"
  12. ^ Journal of the Music Academy, Madras, 1970
  13. ^ BBC World Radio – 6 Aug, 2003 "Family Revives Rare Tradition" by Charles Haviland
  14. ^ Ananda Vikatan Weekly, Madras (Aug 1969)
  15. ^ Page 253 of "Another Garland, Biographies of Carnatic Composers and Musicians" - N Rajagopalan 1992.
  16. ^ The Hindu 29 Dec, 1969
  17. ^ Times of India, Bombay, 4 April 1971 "Ravi – the Raga Reckoner"
  18. ^ http://www.ravikiranmusic.com/chitravinanarasimhan.htm
  19. ^ Abram, David. The Rough Guide to South India (3 ed.). p. 671. 
  20. ^ http://www.mixrad.io/in/en/products/n-ravikiran/genius-at-work-n-ravikiran-vocal/9342367/
  21. ^ http://www.mixrad.io/in/en/products/N-Ravikiran/Oottukkadu-Live-At-Narada-Gana-Sabha-N-Ravikiran/9440985
  22. ^ Indian Express 1 Aug, 1982 "Child Genius"
  23. ^ The Hindu 28 July 1985 "A performance to cherish"
  24. ^ Times of India, Bombay, 4 Sept 1987
  25. ^ "Chicago – Chicago : News : Politics : Things To Do : Sports". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  26. ^ http://www.theatredelaville-paris.com/spectacle-ravikiranshashankindedusud-831
  27. ^ http://www.europalia.eu/archives/india/en/article/chitravina-ravikiran-roland-van-campenhout-_175.html
  28. ^ http://raga.hu/trafo/english_2009.html
  29. ^ http://www.isthmus.com/daily/article.php?article=40960
  30. ^ John Rockwell in New York Times, 27 Nov 1988
  31. ^ Deccan Herald, Bangalore 7 May 2006 "A creator of Ragas"
  32. ^ http://shillika.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/chitraveena-n-ravikiran-at-tattvaloka/
  33. ^ The Hindu, 14 Jan 2016
  34. ^ http://www.deccanchronicle.com/current-affairs/140116/eminent-musician-ravikiran-to-create-world-record.html
  35. ^ Times of India 15 Jan, 2016
  36. ^ Dinattanti 17 Jan 2016
  37. ^ The Plain Dealer, Cleveland 1 April 1997
  38. ^ The Melbourne Age, April 1998
  39. ^ http://www.aradhana.org/
  40. ^ Hindustan Times, Bombay 24 August 2011 "Pushing Boundaries"
  41. ^ Telegraph & Argus, UK Dec 2000 "Tate Honour for Kalasangam Group"
  42. ^ BBC Magazine Cover Story "BBC Melharmonic!" (Nov 2000)
  43. ^ Professor Mark Hijleh "Practical Concepts and Methods for the Analysis of Music Across Human Cultures"
  44. ^ http://asiasociety.org/texas/events/asia-society-presents-chitravina-n-ravikiran-melody-harmony-and-melharmony-0
  45. ^ http://host.madison.com/wsj/entertainment/music/mozart-meets-raga-in-melharmony-festival-saturday-in-oregon/article_2ff56ae2-ec79-5c8b-b713-0a344484180e.html
  46. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 2 July 1995
  47. ^ Desi Talk, New York 3 March 2000 "Ravikiran to compose for BBC Philharmonic"
  48. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5LnJ3xzUpM
  49. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qlGlicXnzE
  50. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTY2u-EvyUw
  51. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yDPDAem85c
  52. ^ Sruti – India's leading Music and Dance Magazine, Oct 2008
  53. ^ a b http://www.venkatakavi.org/
  54. ^ The Hindu 13 Feb, 2011 "Distinctive Contributor"
  55. ^ http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4665064
  56. ^ DNA, Bombay 24 Jan 2007
  57. ^ Indian Express Madras, 21 Aug 1987 Lead Story "Musical Yagna gets underway"
  58. ^ Deccan Chronicle 1 June 2006
  59. ^ Times of India 9 Dec, 2010 "Artists meet Prime Minister"
  60. ^ Middleton, WI
  61. ^ Slovenia Times 8 Oct 2011
  62. ^ Tampa Tribune, 18 Nov 2005
  63. ^ "'Chitravina' Ravikiran feted for prodigious contribution to music". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 2 December 2009. 
  64. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s5kHrNpj_w
  65. ^ Ravikiran, Chitravina N. (12 February 2011). "Distinctive contributor". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  66. ^ "Dazzling and deep". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 19 February 2011. 
  67. ^ Brookfield Academy, WI Oct 2013
  68. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_ipaC4NYYw
  69. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qn5oipp91k
  70. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbRWteR9FCg
  71. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDMhtz8_dmg
  72. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9DtOg_w2hM
  73. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG4tU-1mQVQ
  74. ^ Ganesh & Co, Madras, India
  75. ^ The International Foundation for Carnatic Music http://ifcm.ravikiranmusic.com
  76. ^ a b The International Foundation for Carnatic Music
  77. ^ Sarva Shiksha Abhyan, Government of India
  78. ^ The Hindu 18 Dec 2010 "Culture – essential or extra fitting?"
  79. ^ The Hindu 13 Dec 2012 "A tribute to Sitar legend Ravi Shankar"
  80. ^ Deccan Chronicle 4 Dec, 2012 "Gen XT Reality Check
  81. ^ Deccan Chronicle 6 July 2013 "The CID (Content, Intent, Delivery) Mantra"
  82. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWbvJtHh26k
  83. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgS_oTtPZtQ
  84. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0uaeNWnCEo
  85. ^ Krishnan, Sivapriya (20 February 2015). "Points about Pallavi". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 
  86. ^ Samudhra Music Monthly, Chennai June 2014
  87. ^ Journal of the Music Academy, Madras 1989, 2008, 2013
  88. ^ http://www.sabhash.com/artist/20/ravi-kiran.htm
  89. ^ The Indian Express, 18 Dec, 2013

External links[edit]