Gate of the year

As you tread on the gate of the year 2020, I wanted to leave with you a poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins. I read this first in the devotional by Mrs Charles Cowman. I always liked these words, the first five lines of a longer poem. May our loving Master be the light to guide you safely through the new year.


And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

Happy new year and may God bless you.

Rajaratnam Abel

Good bye 2019

I want to take this opportunity to close the year 2019, recognizing and thanking our loving Master for all His blessings during this year.

By His sheer grace, I have completed one complete year after having had a bypass surgery in Dec 2018.

I narrowly missed very severe complications of a drug reaction to one of the drugs given post op heart surgery. It was entirely His mercy that I pulled through that as well.

My boook ‘Businessmen for the Poor’ was published this year after unexplained delays. With God’s loving blessings, I hope to build up on that during the coming year.

The next book on Dr John Scudder is getting almost ready for publication, as it is with the editor for the final edit.

During the year we had the privilege of celebrating the bicentenary of Dr John Scudder’s first landing in Calcutta on Oct 17th 1819. We had a monthly write up through the NSM newsletter Aatharam.

We have compiled almost all the monthly articles into the October issue of the English version of AAtharam. Those interested may get a copy of this newsletter from Navjeevan Seva Mandal. Please contact or from my email at

I look forward to the new year 2020, when it is hoped we could learn together on some of the issues that are faced in our life journeys. I hope to interact with more of you more often in the coming year.

Rajaratnam Abel

Good rains for Chennai

This summer we struggled with water as Chennai was water starved. So when we had rains this Novemebr it was very refreshing.

Now all the water bodies near our home are full. This has enabled us to get good water supply through our bore wells.

Last summer at the height of drought, our bore well would pump water for only five minutes at a time. With the rains the water table has come well. Our vacant neighbours’ plots have about 6 inches of standing water. Now the bore motor pumps without stopping.

You’ll be surprised, the water was so plentiful, water was flowing like a stream along the street in front of our house for a number of days.

However, the number of flats have come up in such large numbers, I am not sure how long this bountifull wate rsupply would last.

We are thankful to God for His mercies in providing us the water.

Rajaratnam Abel

A perfect holiday gift

Are you wondering what gift you want to give someone important? This book might be just that perfect gift, that could influence the receiver to help many more for a more productive and happier life.

Here’s the link to the book.

Wish you happy holidays during thanksgiving.

Rajaratnam Abel

Wondering why the log gap.

There has been a long gap since my last post. I had hoped to come back soon to announce that my book Businessmen for the Poor with an Indian price would be available.

Unfortunately it did not progress as I imagined or planned. All what I had planned fell apart.

Then I went on duty outside my state for nearly a week. On return I had to get ready fro my next assignment. Time is just ticking away.

I really wish, I could have said that the book is almost ready and that I would introduce it soon. That is not to be.

It appears to be getting out of my control. All I can say is that I am looking forward to the Indian edition of this book. Till I make that announcement please do be patient.

In the meantime, those who can access the international online version, please do use the following links for either the print version or the ebook.

The paperback version is available in the following link. ://

The e-version is available on the following link

The ebook in India is available in the following link.

Thanks so much.

I look forward to keeping in touch.

Rajaratnam Abel

Reducing Poverty high on the agenda

Like it or not, poverty reduction has been taken high on the development agenda by giving a Nobel prize to those who studied/researched how poverty could be reduced.

I have been focusing on getting my book out published in India. Writing seems to be so much easier than getting it published and marketed. I know of others going through this stage of publishing.

In the meantime I have been travelling. I am posting this from Odisha, more specifically Koraput district.

Poverty is so easily visible. The difference between the southern part of India more specifically Kerala and Tamilnadu, is visibly palpable.

Yesterday, as a team we went for a field visit to village. That village has 100% latrine constructed. But hundred percent are using the fields for open defecation.

The number one reason for this is the complaint that they do not have water in the toilets. However that village has a perennial source of water from a spring in the hill nearby. Water is freely flowing through open pipes in the village.

The other reason appears to be that these were constructed as part of a project. Probably a contract was given. The contractor needed his profits. It is not known how much money passed through different levels of hands.

We started trying to get the people started on regulating the flow of water first and then motivate and educate the people to use the latrines built.

There are structural issues as well. These are leach pit latrines, that need two leach pits. Only one has been provided. When it fills up they will have no place to go than except the fields.

Absence of concomitant behaviour change communication along with latrine construction is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

Since poverty is high on the agenda, I am giving the link to my book below. This book would help you to understand the way forward with poverty reduction.

The paperback version is available in the following link.

Hope to keep in touch

Rajaratnam Abel

Are dark chocolates good for the heart?

I started this set of blogs by asking the above question, “Are chocolates good for the heart?” In this blog I conclude by answering this question. You may be surprised to learn that chocolate isn’t as bad for you as was once believed.

Most chocolate falls into one of three categories: white chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate. Chocolate’s darkness is determined by the proportion of cocoa solids made from cocoa beans that is mixed with cocoa butter and sugar.

Cocoa beans are taken through a number of processes starting with fermentation, drying, roasting, cracking and alkalization. The end result is a paste called cocoa liquor. It contains both nonfat cocoa solids and cocoa butter. After drying again, it is ground into cocoa powder.

The chemical composition of cocoa solids gives an indication on their usefulness. Some of these include, phenylethylamine, theobromine, and many polyphenols, like flavonoids. 

They also contain many vitamins and minerals as well as healthy doses of potassium and copper, which support cardiovascular health, and iron, which transports oxygen through the body.

Many flavonoids are shown to have antioxidative activity, free-radical scavenging capacity, coronary heart disease prevention, and anticancer activity. Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, particularly a subtype called flavanols that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease.

When we eat foods rich in flavonoids from any source, it appears that we also benefit from this “antioxidant” power. It is believed that the strong antioxidant properties of these flavonoids may help protect the cardiovascular system and is linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

It is this relationship that is attributed to dark chocolate being beneficial to the heart both from nutritional and pharmacological viewpoints.

They also appear to have neuroprotective, and chemo preventive potential. Other medical benefits include, lowering of blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.

There has been no absolute direct scientific study to prove this protective factor. There is difficulty in designing studies that could accurately measure the daily intake of flavonoids because of the complexity of existence of flavonoids from various food sources, the diversity of dietary culture, and the occurrence of a large number of flavonoids itself in nature.

Cocoa naturally has a very strong, pungent taste, which comes from the flavanols.

When cocoa is processed into your favorite chocolate products, it goes through several steps to reduce this taste. This level of processing causes more flavanols to be lost.

A standard bar of dark chocolate with 70 percent to 85 percent cacao contains about 600 calories and 24 grams of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrient database. Milk chocolate contains roughly the same number of calories but twice the sugar.

Hot chocolate or a chocolate bar with more than 75% dark cocoa solids will have a high flavonoid content. White chocolate, however, contains only cocoa butter – no cocoa solids resulting in lost flavonoids– combined with sugar and other ingredients.

Be careful about the type of dark chocolate you choose: chewy caramel-marshmallow-nut-covered dark chocolate is by no means a heart-healthy food option. Watch out for those extra ingredients that can add lots of extra fat and calories.

Of the three types of chocolates, dark chocolates are the best as they are rich in flavonoids. Although the best of the three types, it is best to eat it in moderation.

Enjoying moderate portions of dark chocolate (e.g., 1 ounce) a few times per week along with other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, tea, onions and cranberries is good for the heart.

My gift to you

Yes, I have to complete my blog on cocoa and chocolates. There is an urgent need to complete this task. So bear with me.

For the past few months, I have been promoting my book, Businessmen for the Poor. Ordering a book from many countries is difficult and costly.

Therefore, I thought I’ll use the privilege Amazon offers to download my ebook for free.

It is available for free download on the 21st and 22nd of July 2019. Don’t let this opprtunity slip by.

My target is at least 100 free downloads. More the merrier. Amazon would be happy to know that such an interest and support existed for this book.

My goal is to share this book with major policy makers and practitioners. Many of you who are my contacts in the social media do not belong to this category.

But you can help in sharing this information with the those who need it. For your kindness, I would like to give a free gift of the ebook.

Don’t hesitate to download. Purchased or free download, I would like as many as possible to own a copy of this book either in print version or digital.

If you’ve already downloaded free earlier, pass this info on to someone who would like it.

So here’s the link for the ebook (Global)

So here’s the link for the ebook (India)

So, happily download this ebook for free. One does not know how long Amazon will give this privilege.

Thanks. Abel


Before We get into the issue of chocolates and their health issues, I thought at least some of you may be interested in knowing where cocoa comes from. As a child of about 8 years, I visited a relative near Kandy in Srilanka where they had a cocoa farm. It was more of a slope hill than the flat land you see in the picture.

Image result for cocoa garden
A cocoa garden with many trees showing how tall they normally grow and how cocoa fruit itself grows

Image result for cocoa fruits
Harvested cocoa fruits
Cocoa fruits with cut open fruits showing the pods
Related image
Dry cocoa beans ready for the next stage 0f making chocolates
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Freshly prepared chocolates

Those of you who have never seen where chocolates originate from, these pictures might give you a glimpse of the cocoa plant with the fruit, the pods and the dried beans.

In the next post we will look into the actual place of chocolates in diet and health.

Do share and invite your friends to participate in these posts. We will share and learn together many aspects of life.

Hope to come soon with my next post.

Rajaratnam Abel

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