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Report Dated February 23, 2017 6:29 PM
Indian-American authors Jhumpa Lahiri and Anish Kapoor joined scores of other writers to oppose the controversial travel ban by US President Donald Trump, asking him to “rescind” his last month’s executive order.
“In barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US for 90 days, barring all refugees from entering the country for 120 days, and blocking migration from Syria indefinitely, your January Executive Order caused the chaos and hardship of families divided, lives disrupted, and law-abiding faced with handcuffs, detention, and deportation,” about 70 eminent American writers and artists wrote to Trump.
They called on the US President to “rescind” his executive order of January 27, 2017, and refrain from introducing any alternative measure that similarly impairs freedom of movement and the global exchange of arts and ideas.
In doing so, the executive order also hindered the free flow of artists and thinkers and did so at a time when vibrant, open intercultural dialogue is indispensable in the fight against terror and oppression, the writers and artists said in a letter dated February 21.
Its restriction is inconsistent with the values of the US and the freedoms for which it stands, said the top US artists and writers under the banner of PEN America.
Among those notable signatories to the letter include Chimamanda Adichie, Margaret Atwood, Rita Dove, Jonathan Franzen, Khaled Hosseini, Azar Nafisi and George Packer.
The letter told Trump that preventing international artists from contributing to American cultural life will not make America safer, and will damage its international prestige and influence.
Report Dated February 19, 2017 6:41 PM
Renowned Indian-origin British sculptor Anish Kapoor is among 200 artists, musicians and writers who have joined a global coalition against the rise of right-wing populism around the world.
Kapoor, 62, and other members of the creative arts have signed up to the Hands Off Our Revolution movement, which recently launched its website.
Their aim of the coalition is to stage exhibitions and events that counter far-right narratives.
“Our art affirms our humanity and we insist on inclusion of all and for all. We call for action by people of good conscience to stand against the abhorrent policies of the governments that claim to represent us,” Mumbai-born sculptor Kapoor said.
One of the project’s driving forces is the artist Adam Broomberg, who told the ‘Guardian’ that the movement aimed to channel anger and explore “the possibility of envisaging a future we want to be in”.
Report Dated February 14, 2017 7:02 PM
Plastic is among the few things that is easier to create than destroy. The polymers take at least 500 years to decompose, which is, for all intents and purposes, forever. Despite restrictions on their use, plastic carry bags continue to dominate the shopping landscape, due to the lack of cost-effective alternatives, posing serious environmental hazards.
But all that could change if 24-year-old NRI entrepreneur Ashwath Hegde’s ambitious plans to mass-market his ‘EnviGreen’ carry bags succeed. Made from vegetable waste and vegetable oil derivatives, the bags have been certified as plastic free by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and the global certification and testing firm TÜV SÜD South Asia.
Hegde’s journey began in 2012 when the city corporation of his home town Mangalore (now Mangaluru), Karnataka, banned plastic bags. In search of substitutes, Hegde personally funded a team of 10 researchers in Europe to develop biodegradable carry bags. Meanwhile, he shifted base to Qatar where he set up Green Corporation.
Four years of research bore fruit in 2016, when the company launched its first biodegradable shopping bags in Qatar on February 26—the country’s National Environment Day. “These bags decompose naturally in 60-180 days,” Hegde explains.
The two-day campaign to popularise the product in West Asia caught the attention of India’s then minister of state for environment and forests, Prakash Javadekar, who encouraged Hegde to set up a plant in India under the central government’s Make in India initiative.
The invitation led to EnviGreen Biotech India Pvt Ltd in Bengaluru last year. “India’s first plastic-free biodegradable bags are set to roll out from our Bengaluru factory in February 2017 under the brand name EnviGreen,” says Hegde, CEO of the company, that has inked deals to supply its eco-friendly bags to convenience store chain Reliance Fresh, etailer Naaptol and online grocery store Bigbasket, among others.
Report Dated February 6, 2017 5:33 PM
Mechanical engineer Suneet Jain joined Chrysalis Entrepreneur Forum from India to smash the Guinness world record for the longest human chain underwater with an astounding 182 scuba divers in Koh Tao, Thailand. The record was earlier held by 173 Italian divers.
The record attempt was planned with Absolute Scuba (India) and took place at Coral Grand Resort, Sairee Beach, Koh Tao. The total length of the human chain was 140 metres.
The team included more than 30 non-swimmers, several first-time scuba divers and all age groups from 8-year-olds to 58-year-olds. They collectively overcame several challenges including recruiting and training over 200 participants, scouting for a suitable location internationally and organising a large-scale scuba diving event in a foreign country. Unfamiliar with saltwater, the team failed their practice attempt the previous day after six months of planning. Overnight, they dropped and replaced several divers and created a winning dive plan to set this spectacular record, demonstrating their belief that ‘impossible is nothing!’ The overarching goal of this event was to inspire ordinary people to extraordinary accomplishments.
24-year-old Suneet plans to use his engineering skills for his next Guinness world record. He has a few ideas and is already working out their feasibility.
Report Dated February 4, 2017 1:38 PM
In 2012, Ashish and his wife Ruta adopted a backward village named Lonwadi in Maharashtra, on a part time basis. The village had no electricity, water system, toilet facilities or even roads.
Later in 2014, the couple quit their job in the UK to devote their time to building better facilities for the villagers by collaborating with an NGO named ‘Adarsh Village.
With the motto of ‘One House, One Toilet’, the couple went on to build two public bio-toilets in the village. They also educated the girls and women about the hazardous effects of open defecation.
To get the villagers accustomed to the toilets, Ashish and Ruta came up with a unique idea – the toilets in this area are covered with bushes so it gives the same feel as being out in the open fields.
Another crucial step in transforming the village was the installation of a solar-operated water pump. This helped the villagers, who until then had to go downhill every day in order to get water.
Impressed by the efforts of the electric engineer couple, the villagers gave their full support morally as well as financially.
With good roads, electricity, a water system, and a digital school, the Swachh Warriors gave a better life to the people of Lonwadi.