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Delhi No. F. 2 (S-45) Press/ 2016


Vol-1 | Issue-19 | April 24-30, 2017 | Price ` 5/-

Good News Weekly for Rising India




Former President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar felicitated Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak




INDIA’S RAILWAY MAN BETTER IN MATHS A new book on the legendary E Sreedharan highlights unknown facts

Researchers have been puzzling on what triggers a different ability in them

CELEBRATING DR. BINDESHWAR PATHAK DAY A galaxy of prominent people sat along with liberated manual scavengers and once forsaken widows to celebrate the first anniversary

Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak’s



N 14th April, 2016, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, the Founder of the Sulabh Social Reform Movement, and the person behind a momentous change in the lives of thousands of people oppressed by age- old customs and practices in India, was honoured by the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio. It was a proud moment for India, for Sulabh International, and for the hard working but humble personality- Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak. The honour to Dr. Pathak was not just a

unique programme became a social surgery to cure what everyone had given up as incurable malignancy routine award, a formal recognition of his contribution to the making of a new and enlightened India, but a unique gesture, rare and surprising in its novelty. It was the decision to make a mark –not on a plaque, not on a monument, not on a stamp or even a coin. It was in imprinting Dr. Pathak’s name on the face of the most

(Top) The celebrities light the ceremonial lamp as Dr. Pathak applauds; (Left) The widows of Vrindavan (in white saris) and former humans scavengers from Alwar and Tonk (yellow saris) watch the proceedings at the Mavalankar Auditorium New Delhi

powerful reality in the world – time! The honour extended by the Mayor of New York was for Dr. Pathak’s vision, his reformative zeal and his exemplary work in transforming the future of some of India’s most socially suppressed groups the manual scavengers who were shunned even as they spent a lifetime cleaning up after the affluent and the so-called high castes, and the widows of Vrindavan who had reconciled themselves to a lonely, colourless future after the death of their husbands.

SURGICAL CHANGE The manual scavengers, discriminated from birth due to India’s rigid caste-based society, have been living lives worse than can be imagined. Despite Mahatma Gandhi’s efforts and the attempts of many of India’s social thinkers and reformers, their condition did not improve in practical life. The discrimination continued in some form or the other. Similarly, the predicament of widows ...Continued on Page 2

02 Celebrating Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak Day ...Continued from Page 1

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Quick Glance The mayor of New York Bill De Blasio had proclaimed 14th April last year as Bindeshwar Pathak Day The first anniversary of the occasion was celebrated in New Delhi, with Ambassador of Mali as chief Guest

“In places where they were not allowed to drink

water from a common source, the same people sit in the houses of Brahmins”

Dr. Pathak himself said he had followed the paths of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. BR Ambedkar

happiness and dignity to live, learn, educate their children and express their views in public forums.

living in Vrindavan, despite being noted, filmed and written about for long, continued to be pathetic. Away from their families, isolation and loneliness had become almost an unavoidable fate for them. But hope and happiness dawned in their lives when Dr. Bindeswar Pathak decided to change the situation. In addition to such a gigantic leap forward in solving ancient taboos and prejudices about the human condition, Dr. Pathak introduced in India numerous technological options. To help sort out the grave task of changing the attitudes and mind set of people who had, for generations, simply refused to budge from orthodox, rigid and unequal social practices these technological ideas were helpful in several ways. In the case of both, manual scavenging and widows, Dr. Pathak did not rush through it, but in the end, his unique programme became a social surgery to cure what everyone had given up as incurable malignancy. The five decades of hard work by Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak and his team at Sulabh would have been valuable enough had it brought nothing more than just better material and physical relief to the deprived and the marginalised of India. But Dr. Pathak made a present, much more precious, available to them. It was hope,

NYC PROCLAMATION At the felicitation programme in New York on 14 April 2016, a proclamation letter was presented to Dr. Pathak by the Mayor, Bill De Blasio. Mr. Blasio in his speech lauded Dr. Pathak’s good work, saying, “Dr. Pathak took his vision to help the oppressed and through his work and organisation, created new technology that improved public health and environment and ‘fundamentally changed the reality’ for many communities.” He described Dr. Pathak as a pioneer in advocating human rights in India by campaigning for social reforms and developing innovative and environmentallysound sanitation technologies. The proclamation letter read as follows: “I commend Dr. Pathak for his outstanding work to improve health and hygiene, provide vocational training, promote gender equality and give dignity and hope to impoverished people in India and far beyond.” This was, of course, not the first time that the compassion and empathy of Dr. Pathak towards those at the receiving end of deep rooted social problems in India, had been noted and admired throughout the world. There is a long list of national and international awards of recognition for the man who has time and again been perceived as the first one, after Mahatma Gandhi,to declare a non-violent war against the age-old social bias in matters of caste

and gender. Dr. Pathak’s movement is not just about restoring human rights and equal opportunities, but also about cleanliness of our surroundings as well as our minds and attitudes. ANNIVERSARY EVENT On the first anniversary of this occasion, an event was held at Mavlankar Hall on April 14, 2017, to celebrate the day named after Dr. Pathak, for his exemplary contribution to Indian and international brotherhood. The event, held under the auspices of Sulabh, commenced with the welcome of

As part of the First Anniversary of Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak Day held on April 14, the book “Swachhta ka Darshan”, edited by Dr. Pathak, was released amidst a host of dignitaries. (Left to right) SP Singh; BK Nagla; Baba Chandra Shankar Sharma; Prabhat Kumar; Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak; Niankoro Yeah Samake; Amola Pathak; Dr. Sailesh Zala; Avinash Das; Pt. Suresh Neerav and Samirendra Chatterjee

the audience and the guests. The anchor for the event welcomed the audience, on behalf of the Sulabh family. She introduced the ladies dressed in yellow from Alwar and Tong, and the ladies in white saris from Vrindavan. These were the women who had been pushed into the margins of society for their caste, their work and social status. Furrows of past pain still imprinted on their faces, they are, however, now happy and smiling. The efforts of Sulabh

THE SPECIAL GUESTS Sulabh’s programmes are responded to by all invitees with great enthusiasm. And inevitably they are people of huge status. When all the special invitees were called to the stage it looked like a galaxy of stars.They were

Mr. Niankoro Yeah Samake, Ambassador of Mali

Dr. Shailesh Zala, Vice Chancellor Bhavnagar University

Baba Chandra Shankar Sharma from Baba Neem Karoli Ashram

Pt. Suresh Neerav, Eminent poet and journalist

Avinash Das, writer and director of Anaarkali of Aarah

Prof. BK Nagla, former HOD of Sociology Dept., Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, Haryana

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International had changed their lives in a manner not dreamt of a couple of years ago. On behalf of Sulabh, the esteemed audience was thanked for taking an interest in the programs and events organised by the group. Before the arrival of the chief guest, the audience witnessed the display of a Sulabh video. It focused on the reasons for discouraging defecation in the open, the dangerous repercussions if it is not checked and the alternatives or solutions to this problem. It also showcased the work and movement headed by the team of Sulabh International. The video ended with the Sulabh theme song ‘Making people smile…’. On his arrival, the special guest, Ambassador of Mali, Dr. Niankoro Yeah Samake was received by Dr. Pathak at the gate. He introduced Dr. Samake to all the other spokespersons at the event. The aim of Sulabh International is to begin changes at the grassroots level and at a stage when learning is natural and comparatively easier. Giving the youth and the children of the country the opportunity to take on an active role in the making of a new world is one of the basic plans of the organization. In keeping with this, a student of Sulabh School, Vaishnavi Tiwari, came to the stage to present an overview of the achievements, programs and dreams of Sulabh group. ON DR. PATHAK Vaishnavi Tiwari echoed the words of the anchor in stating that the world believes in and admires Dr. Pathak’s zeal because he has taken out those communities from the dark which used to struggle for a spark of brightness, he has brought happiness to those faces which did not have many reasons to be happy and he fought for equality and demolished caste system in a society in which discrimination of caste, class and gender was common. It is for such

Celebrating Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak Day

Even in his education, untouchability was Dr.

Pathak’s priority. His PhD subject was ‘liberation of manual scavenging through low cost sanitation’ people that Dr. Pathak he should remain blessed and in good health. Vashnavi Tiwari then spoke a few words about Dr. Pathak’s simple yet extraordinary idea of two pit toilets which has revolutionised the public health system in India. She said that Dr. Pathak’s personal life is very simple and he’s a man of few needs. He lives for his work and his great talents are used in the correct direction. She stated that he is one of the greatest men this country has ever produced and he will be remembered as one of the most distinguished names in India’s history. At the end of her speech, she recited a small poem inspired by Dr. Pathak and his work for society. A group of kids performed a heartwarming skit based upon the different areas of work and achievement by the Sulabh group. Through the skit the children introduced to the audience those people who were helped by Sulabh. Among these were individuals like Usha who used to work as manual scavenger, and Shanti, who thought she didn’t have a chance to live but found a new chance in life. Saurav Kumar, Tathagat, Kumar Soni were helped financially to let them pursue their studies. Santosh and the widows from Vrindavan who had come to attend the programme also narrated their stories about how they were helped by Sulabh. A special Indian touch to the day was the huge ladoo, prepared particularly for the anniversary and served at the event at Mavlankar Hall on this occasion. Another

traditionally Indian ritual was the lighting of the lamp in which all the special invitees at the event were requested to join in. The Sulabh prayer, which never fails to touch a sensitive chord in all the people, marked the formal opening of the events to follow. Dr. SP Singh, Chairman, Sulabh International, was requested to speak a few words on this occasion and welcome all the honoured guests. The Citation was read out by Dr. Pushpa Joshi from Akhil Bhartiya Sarvbhasha Sanskriti Samanvey Samiti. SCRIPTING HISTORY The book ‘Swachhata ka Darshan’ which is a compilation of essays and poems related to environmental pollution and cleanliness was inaugurated on this occasion. This book is edited by Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak and published by Prabhat Prakashan. Prabhat Kumar, owner of the publication house, too was invited to share the stage. Sulabh International founded by Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak is an illustration of the fact that cleanliness is the starting point of many positive developments. Sanitation is an international matter which cannot be sidelined or dismissed. Dr. Pathak lays emphasis on the belief that building a toilet is more important than building a place of worship. In 1974, he introduced the concept of public toilet in the world. The two pit toilet system introduced by him was historic step. It led to not just a check on defecation in the open but also helped to check the practice of manual scavenging.


Saurabh Kumar, educated by Dr. Pathak, addresses the gathering (Left), Blinds aided by Dr. Pathak (Right)

Sulabh has also attached importance to the need to solve the problem of women and school girls during the maturations period. Sulabh makes the availability of sanitary napkins easy and inexpensive. This is then sent to various schools for girls in the country. The family includes women who were manual scavenger in the past, widows, destined to lead a lonely life in Vrindavan, the teachers and the staff of Sulabh schools and thousands of supporters and admirers of Sulabh initiative. Leading the family is Dr. Pathak who enjoys being a part of the group. The serious mission that he has taken up dies not necessarily demand a serious and sombre attitude. At the event on 14th April 2017 Dr. Pathak was seen holding the mike and singing with Sulabh school children. A special feature of the first anniversary celebration of Pathak day that is 14th April was that all creative activity from poetry to films were based on the idea of sanitation and cleanliness. After a book release at the function, poets read out their works about the idea of cleanliness. Expressing the major problem of polythene, a poet wrote the ironical line which said that immortality has come to him not because he has an immortal soul but because he is polythene. Poets like Pradeep Jain and Dr. Sarojini Pritam wrote in appreciation of Dr. Pathak’s work. AMBEDKAR’S FOOTSTEPS A list of films on cleanliness and sanitation were screened in which cinema stars discussed the significance of toilet. In one

04 Celebrating Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak Day

film the actor Om Puri said with a touch of humour “Sometimes we are not aware of how important a toilet is in our life. Just think that if a toilet is not available in the morning at the time it is needed, how much stress and tension we will have to face.” The actor Tom Alter in another film said, “The role of our stomach is to satisfy our hunger, but it has another function to play. We can control our hunger but we cannot control our need to rush to the toilet.” It is a fact that the toilet message cannot be seen only as a matter of sanitation. Its importance goes much beyond it. It can even affect foreign tourism in India. The audience watching such films burst into laughter on many occasions. It is matter of coincidence that Ambedkar day too falls on 14th April. Baba Saheb Ambedkar who spoke and wrote about equality for the dalits was the Father of Indian Constitution. Dr. Pathak, who has worked for the betterment and equality of the dalits, specially women manual scavengers, rightly deserves to be seen as the true follower of Ambedkar. The chairman of Sulabh International SP Singh said, inequality and discrimination is a universal problem. In that sense Dr. Pathak is an international leader. The Sulabh movement is not confined to India but relates to all other countries in the world. The initiative of Sulabh is an inspiration for weak sections of society to fight against odds. Today we have assembled to celebrate Pathak Day. It is a day which touches the heart of people of all categories. The credit goes to this man of great ideas and great motivation. Gandhi said that we should make our life our message. Dr. Pathak has done exactly that. He went around the world asking people to help those who could not help themselves.

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Prof. Nagla (sociologist) said that if Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak is seen as the messenger of sanitation it will not be an exaggeration

VOICE OF MALI Mali’s ambassador to India said that India has given the world the gift of many great leaders like. “I include Dr. Pathak among these leaders”. He said that he was honoured to be the representative of his country Mali in India on this occasion. He congratulated Dr. Pathak for being awarded by the Mayor of New York by the declaration of Dr. Pathak Day. It is day on which people should promise to help each other. It is the celebration of a life in which a great part was given away in service to others without any selfish motive. This was the reason why he had come to attend the program. Sulabh International has built toilets in his own country Mali too. But that is not the only reason why he respects Dr. Pathak. He perceives him as a personality who has given a better life to the untouchables in India. He perceives Dr. Pathak as the strength that led the backward sections, women and others forward. He said that his heart is celebrating not because of the many toilets he has built but for touching the lives of those people who had been declared untouchable. The success of a man is not judged by the number of cars and houses he possesses but by the number of lives he has touched and changed. He said that he along with others was the witness to the fact that Dr. Pathak has altered the live of many. He expressed the hope that next year the people his country too will observe 14th April as Dr. Pathak Day. Vice Chancellor Bhavnagar University said that he believed

that this day had become memorable because of Dr. Pathak and not vice versa. Our Prime Minister Modi has a dream of Swachh Bharat and toilet in every house. But it is good to note that Dr. Pathak began to implement this program much before this slogan was introduced. Dr. Pathak has thought about many subjects related to techniques needed for preservation of environment and similar other subjects whether it is making Sulabh drinking water available in Bengal’s arsenic affected areas, or bringing a change in the lives of Vrindavan women or providing financial help to children for their education are contributions for which Dr. Pathak should get warded not only by the New York Mayor but Mayors all over the world. PRAISES SHOWERED Baba Chandra Shankar Sharma (Neem Karoli Ashram) said that people like Dr. Pathak are the makers of a new age. He has been working for decades in this area and words cannot describe his contribution. Help for mankind is the biggest service and this service itself makes one godly. In this sense Dr. Pathak is a divine personality. Avinash Das (blogger and film director) said that why just one day, the entire year should have been dedicated to Dr. Pathak. A biopic should be made on his life. He had a long and close association with Sulabh. On coming to Delhi when he went to Sulabh office for the first time he met the real life princesses who came not

Mr. Niankoro Yeah Samake, Ambassador of Mali (Left) and

The women from Alwar & Tonk applaud a moment during the proceedings (Right)

from royal families but from houses in which it was difficult to get two meals a day. But at Sulabh they were leading a life of dignity. Dr. Pathak has made a big difference in their lives through his movement. He said that he has met many people who could not continue good work because of the corruption inherent in society. All these people have joined with Sulabh to continue their good work here. Sulabh in that sense recognises talent in people. He had seen in Sulabh women and girls walking on the ramp, an achievement not possible for most women. Nobody is born extraordinary. It is a journey from ordinary to the extraordinary. Our time will remain grateful to Dr. Pathak for making it possible for the deprived people to achieve their dreams. It was his heart felt desire that a biopic film should be made on the life of Dr. Pathak in which the story should about the journey of a man from ordinary to an extraordinary. Pandit Suresh Neerav (poet-writer, All India Language Co-ordination Committee) said that a date becomes important if it is linked up with someone who has done great work. Before India’s Independence, the date 11th September was declared the Philosophy Day when Swami Vivekananda delivered his speech in Chicago. For a long time no such event took place on the soil of America. After that 14th April 2016 was the day when America honoured another man from the Indian soil. This was Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak after whom a day was marked.

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Both Bindeshwar and Sulabh are names given to Vishnu. If the name and the action both come together to become one and same one can say that they represent the country as in the case of Dr. Pathak. Prof. Nagla (sociologist) said that if Dr. Pathak is seen as the messenger of sanitation it will not be an exaggeration. “Today it is Baishakhi Day and the birth date of Ambedkar, Dr. Pathak is to be congratulated that in this series, the day has been marked after his name too. Dr. Pathak is the inspiration for the many changes that have come in our life style and in the area of sanitation. In India Sulabh has not only worked for cleanliness it has also weakened the caste system. It has given a place of dignity to the untouchables and liberated this society from orthodoxy. Dr. Pathak has in fact given actual shape to the dream of Gandhi. He has worked for the untouchables although he himself is a Brahmin.” Even in his education that was his priority. His PhD. subject was liberation of manual scavenging through low cost sanitation. Once during his childhood his grandmother had compelled him to drink cow urine because he had touched a manual scavenger but today the same child is running the institute like Sulabh. On another occasion a child was pushed down by a bull. A crowd collected at the place but no one came forward when it was known that the child belonged to a manual scavenger family. But Dr. Pathak came forward to help on this occasion. Many such incidents were behind his decision to work in this area. GANDHIGIRI, TRULY Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak said that he has done what Gandhi had talked about. The message of Sulabh is to love everyone whatever his caste or religion. He said

Celebrating Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak Day

Kalidas said books are many, knowledge is vast, but time is very limited, so one should do whatever is possible within the limited time

that first of all he would like to pay his respect to his elders and blessings to people younger to him. “It was a coincidence that 14th April is the birth date of Bharat Ratna Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar. Dr. Ambedkar struggled throughout his life to find a place of dignity for the Dalits. It was because of him the people in the scheduled castes were given a place of respect in Indian society. Once there was a lot of violence because he had offered water to the untouchables from a public source of water. “In the famous temple of Kalaram in Nasik a similar attempt at inclusion of the scheduled caste people was made but that too led to a lot of violence. On the birthday of a person who made all such efforts to make drinking water available for them from common source and to make it possible to them to enter temples, we find that the same section of people are sitting here today. They not only enter these temples but also offer worship there. “In places where they were not allowed to drink water from a common source, the same people sit in the houses of Brahmins. The special thing is that we have not indulged in any violence or fight to achieve this. We have followed the Gandhian path of non-violence to make this possible. The title of my new book is ‘Social Change Through Non-violence’, Gandhi said it, I did it. Gandhi might never have thought that a day will arrive when the Dalits will become ‘Brahmins’.” In New York the Mayor said that Dr. Pathak has done what Gandhi and Martin

Luther wanted. Gandhi said “My life is my message. I believe that my message is to solve the problems of society and help the deprived and the poor.” Kalidas said that books are many, knowledge is vast but time is limited. One should do whatever is possible in the limited time. Therefore one must do whatever is possible in one’s life time. Some of the messages of Sulabh are ‘I am the brother of one who does not have any one, I am the shadow of the person who is alone, and I take away the sorrow of the one who is suffering’. SAURABH KUMAR Saurabh, who comes from Bihar related his story at the programme. He said that he could not continue his education due to economic difficulties. But Dr. Pathak helped to educate this child. He brought him to Delhi, got him educated at Delhi Public School and then in Delhi College of Engineering. After that he continued his education from America. Many other children too came up to speak about the help that Dr. Pathak extended to them. After lunch the section continued but started with some entertainment. A group of kids from Sulabh School presented a play on modern Ramlila which was very funny and entertaining. Then Mansi another student from the Sulabh school performed dance on the song composed by Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak (Koyaliya Murray Kuk). Then girls from the school performed a dance on a Punjabi song ‘Bhangra paa’ and then Mansi and performed a dance on the song ‘Aplam


Sulabh Public School kids playing Ramlila (Left). The dance presentation on the occasion enthralled the audience (Right)

chaplam’, along with this the kids in return demanded Dr. Pathak ji to sing a song for them on which they would like to join and dance . So Dr. Pathak sang ‘Tu Chhed Ek Baar Man Ka Sitaar’, ‘Chand ko deko’ and everyone including Patak ji broke into laugher. Mrs Sunita Shruti informed the audience that the essays and the poems written by writers and poets included names like Ms Mridula Sinha, Pt. Suresh Neerav, Mrs Sarojni Pretam, Mr Pradeep Jain, Mr Ram Tiwari, Mr Gopal Sharma SECOND SESSION Everyone in the auditorium was reenergised and fresh to listen to the second section of the day. The second section was hosted by Pt. Suresh Neerav ji. Dr. Sarojni Pretam was the first to start the poetry section. Shri Pradeep Jain has directed and edited approximately 700800 videos but still loves to write poetry. Ram Tiwari stared his recitation by emphasising that he shares the same birth place and Aarah has been a place honoured to give birth to such people? He even brought his poem framed and presented it to Dr Pathak Ji. In the end of the programme it was informed by Dr. Pathak announced that they would like to arrange a special event only for poetry recitation and will be dedicated to environment and with this announcement the event ended happily.

06 Book Reviews

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A commemorative book brings forth the love and warmth that marked the visit of BJP chief Amit Shah to Sulabh village in New Delhi ANUPAMA YADAV


ANDHIJI’S aim was not only the attainment of independence, but also to take India far ahead by getting rid of deplorable and unacceptable practices one by one. That is why he stressed so much on cleanliness and made it a pivotal issue,” remarked Amit Shah while addressing the gathering during a visit to Sulabh Gram. The book ‘Historical Visit of Hon’ble Shri Amit Shah, National President, Bharatiya Janata Party at the Sulabh Gram on December 20, 2016’ is focused on his speech and Dr Bindeshwar Pathak’s path breaking initiatives for untouchables and their human rights. The pictorial book begins with an elaborate speech by Amit Shah, lauding Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak for his perseverance with details of his achievements, ambition and contribution to the society and mankind. The BJP president throws light on how political movement has a clear goal and how it moves ahead to achieve that goal. But when someone makes ideas the basis of a movement, things become tough and one has to face many difficulties because in this case there is nothing to gain but much to give. It is thus difficult to sustain a movement of ideology. He further said, “Narendra Modi was the first Prime Minister who talked about Toilets from the ramparts of the Red Fort forcing us to understand that unless we addressed this issue we would not

Quick Glance The book focuses on Amit Shah’s visit to the Sulabh village It also highlights Dr. Pathak’s long struggle for Dalits’ upliftment The book ends with an impressive array of media appreciation

become a developed country. To reckon on October 5, 2016, the age-old belief and shackles of bondages were broken as hundreds of women who worked as manual scavengers were liberated who were earlier known as ‘untouchables. They were declared Brahmins at the Mavalankar Hall in New Delhi. The book further points to path-breaking

initiatives of Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak as he got the scavengers relieved from the work of cleaning human excreta by getting bucket toilets converted into Sulabh flush toilets. Thus, the owners of the bucket toilets got the flush toilets. Moreover, to empower them he set up a center called ‘Nai Disha’ at Alwar, Rajasthan to provide them education and vocational training. Consequently, the vocational training empowered them to earn their livelihood and thus their severe economic strain a story of the past. The people from different faiths and castes accepted the former untouchables. By dint of these measures Dr. Pathak succeeded in emancipating the scavengers as well as making two towns of Rajasthan, Alwar and Tonk scavenging free. It is a matter of pride and elation that now they together eat food and mingle with upper caste. The book also highlights on Sulabh Purified Water Plant, a pilot project set up in Madhusudankanti, a remote hamlet

in West Bengal near the India- Bangladesh border. Obtrusively, people in this region were suffering from skin and other deleterious disease caused by arsenic in groundwater pumped from wells. This is why the plant was a major relief for the inhabitants. The Sulabh water treatment plant has given major relief to the residents as they are getting clean Sulabh Jal now. Moreover, a Health Centre adjacent to water plant also treats people suffering from arsenic poison. The Sulabh National Association for the blind was established in 1954 in Worli Mumbai for all round development of the blind people as well as for making them self-reliant. Blind boys and girls are being motivated for

It is commendable that

the BBC Horizons has declared Sulabh technologies as one of the five unique inventions in the world

education in rural areas every year by the institution ensuring support and training to make them economically independent. There is a vivid description of the Saga of an open defecation -free village. Hirmathla is a village in Mewat district of Haryana where Sulabh has undertaken promotion of sanitation awareness and construction of toilets for all inhabitants. Sulabh got financial succour from the Railtel Corporation India Limited under its Corporate Social Responsibility Programme for construction of 100 individual household toilets. Remarkably, every household in Hirmathla has a toilet now. Thus, the village has become an open defecation free village. Hirmathla has been declared a Nirmal Gram and has won award for the same. “I had to walk almost two kilometres taking three little children with bottles of water, just before the day break, crossing the highway far into the fields for relieving so that no one could notice us,” says Paramjit, whose life changed altogether after a toilet was gifted to her. She felt a remarkable comfort and a greater sense of hygiene and good health in their lives. Her medical bills have sharply reduced and she is able to organise her household work in a better way and her children are no longer late for school. Interestingly, Paramjit echoes the voice of 300 million women across India who do not have access to proper sanitation and are often vulnerable to sexual harassment, assault, rape, and voyeurism. It is commendable that the BBC Horizons has declared the Sulabh technologies as one of the five unique

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Sulabh Public School is a paragon of equity. Roughly 60 per cent of students are from Dalit community and 40 per cent from other castes

inventions of the world. Astoundingly, Dr. Pathak developed human waste treatment system in its entirety to dispose it locally without the need of costly sewage treatment plants etc. Sulabhis is making safe drinking water available for all the sections of society as it is bottling purified water which is known as Sulabh Safe drinking water which is available for 50 paise a litre in West Bengal. Another milestone is Sulabh Swachhta Rath, the largest moving model of toilet launched on Nov 18, 2014 during three day international toilet festival organised by Sulabh on the occasion of world toilet day. Dr. Pathak invented the two-pit ecological compost flush toilet known as Sulabh Shauchalaya for the safe and hygienic disposal of human waste. This toilet technology is apposite and affordable, culturally acceptable requires only one litre of water to flush out excreta. The Sulabh international museum of toilets has been ranked by the Time Magazine as the third in the world’s 10 weirdest museums. The Sulabh Public School situated within Sulabh Gram in New Delhi is paragon in itself. Approximately, 60 per cent of students are from Dalit community and 40 per cent from other communities. This English medium school is unique in its own way as the Dalit students get free quality education and all facilities including, books, uniform and likewise. What is more commendable is the fact that the toilets are cleaned by students and teachers themselves. Suffice it to say that the book also has several articles in the end published in various newspapers and magazines, highlighting Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak’s outstanding achievements and contribution to the society, followed by a list of awards and honours. identifies what makes a nation great and also compares the standards of living of other nations with India’s. He draws on his travels and his interactions with people. He evolves unique oaths for citizens from all walks of life to ensure that a better life becomes possible for everyone. In the book that he completed just a few months before he passed away in 2015, one of India’s best-known icons writes how our nation can become a leader on the pathways to greatness.

Prestigious Award to Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak



DR. BINDESHWAR PATHAK HONOURED Former President Her Excellency Pratibha Patil and the Art of Living Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar felicitate the founder of Sulabh, a leading sanitation and social reform movement



R. BINDESHWAR PATHAK, was conferred today, April 19, the prestigious Vishwa Hindi Sahitya Parishad Award, the ‘Vishwa Vageshwari Samman 2017’. This includes a citation, customary copper plaque and a shawl. The award came in a grand event graced by former President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil and Art of Living Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar besides a galaxy of other distinguished personalities. Former Governor Hon’ble DY Patel presided over the gathering of prominent people, including Girish Bapat, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Government of Maharashtra, Mukta Tilak, Mayor of Pune and Vinod Shukl, Director Shri Dindayal Smriti Sansthan. Dr. Pathak has been endowed with the award for his lifetime work as an eminent social activist, pioneering the sanitation and social reform movement, which now transcends the country’s borders. An organisation of repute, Vishwa Hindi Parishad, is active in the promotion of Hindi language, literature, journalism, Indian art, heritage and culture worldwide. The organisation recognises and awards notable work and contributions of personages in the various fields of human endeavour. Speaking on the occasion, President of the organisation Hon’ble Sh Ashish

Kandhve said that the organisation is honoured to felicitate a social activist of the stature of Dr. Pathak. He said through the platform of Sulabh Dr. Pathak has been inspiring people to ‘Be Clean, Be Healthy’ for the past five decades through relentless efforts in the field of sanitation covering individual homes and public spaces.He said millions of manual women scavengers of night soil could find liberation from their inhuman occupation that dates back to millennia. Sulabh has been instrumental in introducing in-house making of sanitary napkins and disseminating awareness about menstrual hygiene among girl students. He wished Dr. Pathak the country and the world’s highest honours like Bharat Ratna and

Nobel Prize, respectively. Other recipients of the ‘Vishwa Vageshwari Samman 2017’ Vishwa Hindi Sahitya Parishad accorded include Retd. Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra for Judiciary, Dr. Kantilal Hastimal Sancheti for Medicine, Dr. Rama Pandey for Art, Dr. Harish Naval, Dr. Aruna Dhere and Sh. Tejendra Sharma for Literature, Sh Hukum Singh Meena for Administration, Sanjay Bhardwaj for Bhasha Rangkarm, Sachin Gupta and Jaishree Periwal for Education, Om Prakash Gattani for Cultural Legacy, Pandit Mukesh Bhardwaj for Astrology and Human Welfare, Sushil Verma and Sh Surendra Singh for Social Work. The event was mainly organised by Govind Pareekh.

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APRIL 24-30, 2017



Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, visibly moved his experience at the Sewadham Ashram, gave an account of his eventful life, the Sewadham and the philosophy of service to humanity

Karpurgouram Karunavataram Sansarasaram Bhujagendraharam | Sada Vasantam Hirdhyaravinde Bhavam Bhavani Sahitam Namami ||


have seen a lot of temples, but today I am overwhelmed by seeing the integrity and purity of Sudhir Bhai Goyal, who is working in the city of Mahakal. I believe in worship of God, but I say for myself and on behalf of the Sulabh family that I have not seen the vision of such a great temple till today. It is the largest temple of humanity. The people living here are all aspects of gods and goddesses. God has given strength to Sudhir Bhai and also His blessings. No work is possible without God’s blessings. God has given him such strength that he is looking after helpless people, which even some parents cannot do. Here,

“I would give the first place in the budget to the

labourers, sex workers, widows and untouchables” Sudhir Bhai is helping those people who have been neglected by their very families. All such people are living happily here together. He is attempting to give a good life to them. It is clear that there can be no greater temple than this one. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has extended all his blessings to the work and service done by Sudhir Bhai. As Sudhir Bhai said, “Although we are non-political, we are taking our work forward with everyone’s blessings. We can move forward only with the cooperation of everyone.” I want to tell Sudhir Bhai that the pain within him is the same pain which is in the heart of all those

people who do social service. If such people come into politics they do good work there as well. It is true that when anyone points a finger against such people they feel pain and why should people point a finger of accusation at them when they are doing good work. Here I want to give an example. Neil Armstrong went to the moon on July 12, 1969. When he returned, people said, “Brother, you must be very happy, that you went up to the moon.” Sharing his experience, Neil explained, “Since I went to the moon, friends have stopped speaking to me. If I knew that after going to the moon, my friends would stop

Quick Glance Serving humanity came as an inspiration to Sudhir Bhai Goyal from his family Wanting to pursue medical profession, his life changed after meeting Vinoba Bhave In his Ashram he has been serving patients of Cancer, TB, AIDS and mental diseases

speaking to me, I would have never gone there.” It is clear that whether you are in politics, or in business, if you are doing good work for society, some people are sure to get envious. People say many things. I will tell you about my own case. If we have been engaged in this work for the past 50 years, then it is natural that hailstorms will fall upon us. If we are sincere, then nothing will happen to me, if we are not honest, how many days will we survive, how many days will we go on... one year, two years, four years, six years? We are honest; so nobody can touch us. The biggest thing is that the honesty with which you are working is through the blessings of the people, the blessings of everyone; you continue doing your work... such a great temple of service is not possible, such worship cannot be done. I have written somewhere myself: “If you have not helped anybody in distress you have not prayed to God yet.” These girls who are sitting in front of you, wearing yellow clothes, are now called ‘New Brahmins’. They are from Alwar and Tonk. Till 2003, they used to work as manual scavengers. Usha Chaumar, if she has the time, she will tell us that she has seen both hell and heaven here on Earth. When she was a manual scavenger, then it was hell. People call them ‘untouchables’. Today, she sells papad and pickles. She drinks tea, eats food in houses where she was earlier called ‘untouchable’. I was born in a wealthy family,

APRIL 24-30, 2017




Sudhir Bhai, founder and director of Sewadham Ashram, Ujjain, has been engaged for 28 years in the service of the disabled, elderly, mentally ill people, helpless children and susceptible women AARTI ARORA


hen Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak v isited Sewadham Ashram on April 4, 2017, he was visibly moved and what he saw there shook his heart and soul. He saw an amazing world there, the world of dedicated service to humanity. Sudhir Bhai Goyal, the Founder and Director of the Sewadham Ashram, has been serving hapless people with great love, devotion and compassion for the past 28 years. Dr. Pathak felt that humanity could not be served better than this. LIFE: THE TUTOR Sewadham Ashram was established in 1989 in Amodia village of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. Its Founder and Director is Sudhir Bhai Goyal. Sudhir Bhai was born in a reputed family on August 19, 1957 in Indore district of Madhya Pradesh. He has

been very much influenced by Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi. At the age of 13, he established a school in village Ajnoti. Since then, he has been so devoted to education and service to humanity that it has become his life’s mission today.

This sense of service and dedication in Sudhir Bhai’s life came as a motivation from his own family and relatives. His uncle suffered from mental illness. His grandmother too did not enjoy a good mental condition. His friend’s brother was disabled. Seeing all these miseries, Sudhir Bhai was seriously disturbed. He was filled with the desire to do something good for such people. Initially he decided to pursue the medical profession. But in 1976, when he met Acharya Vinoba Bhave, his attitude towards life changed. Vinoba often used to say that the real India resides in villages. He had said that there is nothing more important than service to humanity. During the last 28 years of service to humanity, Sudhir Bhai often felt that people suffering with leprosy were living in a pitiable and unhealthy environment and he was

“Governments are coming and going, but we and our work is not getting affected because we aren’t dishonest”

although Brahmins are traditionally not very rich. In most stories of old times, you will find… “There was a poor Brahmin…” By chance, our grandfather was a very famous astrologer; therefore he had earned wealth and prosperity. But for some reason he lost money later in life. We faced difficulty in finding money for even food at home. One day a man came to our house. It was afternoon and he requested for some money from my mother.

My mother went to another house, borrowed money returned and gave the money to that man. When he left, I asked my mother, “Mother, where did this money come from? We do not even have money for people to eat and drink. You brought this money and gave it away, what does it mean?” My mother replied, “Look, this village belongs to us. Our wealth is gone, and everyone knows that, but he came to me because he could not find help

anywhere else. He came to me hoping that we will fulfill his demand, even if we have to borrow to give him that is why he came. So, if ever someone asks for help, do not turn him away. Try to help him out.” The same is true to this day. When someone dies, I do not feel sad, but when I have to say “No”, I feel very bad. It seems to be a very difficult thing to do. When I’m unable to do something for others it is worse than death for me. It

very much disturbed. Narayan, a disabled patient suffering from leprosy, was counting the last moments of his life, when Sudhir Bhai brought him to his Ashram and served him till his last day. With a passion to serve the people afflicted with leprosy, he established a leprosy welfare centre in Hamirkhadi near Ujjain. Similarly, he was also deeply concerned about destitute children. He even lost his left eye while serving children in 1979. There are more than 5,000 people from different religions and castes living in the Sewadham Ashram, who are suffering from serious diseases, such as cancer, AIDS, TB and mental problems. Interestingly these helpless people from all over the country live like a joint family. More than 200 health camps have been organised by the Ashram and more than 500 people were able to regain their vision through eye donation.

is important to understand this truth. Mother told me that it is better to stay hungry, but do not be dishonest. To date, since we have not tried to do something dishonestly, that is why we have survived even after 50 years. Still work is going on. Governments are coming and going, but we and our work is not getting affected because we will never be dishonest. Today, we have come to your Ashram, and we feel good. I do not have words to express my feeling. But, of course, we would like to keep on coming here. The way you are working is inspiring for all of us. I am inspired that if I become the Finance Minister of the Government of India, which is probably not possible because I am not in politics, but just in case I were the Finance Minister, then I would give the first place in the budget to those people whom you are helping. The people included in this are labourers, sex workers, widows and untouchables. i.e. all such people who are neglected in society. If the Central Government or state governments ask me to make a budget, then I will first arrange money for them.

10 Medical

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AKOS APP TO AID HEALTHCARE With the blessings of Indian social reformer, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, the company will seek to step in where the Indian OPD system has floundered

Quick Glance SSB BUREAU


KOS MD, a US-based company run by two expatriate Indian doctors, is set to launch its India operations and has been supported by India’s currently most significant social reformer, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, known for his Swachhata (cleanliness) mission. In a statement the signals Dr. Pathak’s blessings, the man who has liberated millions of manual scavengers and invented the green toilet known as Sulabh Shauchalay, said that Swasth Bharat is as important as Swachh Bharat. Akos will launch a range of appbased medicare solutions which will cut costs and help people seek affordable OPD services, which have become costly and cumbersome in India, right from their smartphones. A company executive stressed that this will help people seek immediate medical consultation from a range of Indian and international doctors without postponing visiting a doctor, which is hampered by several obstructions in India today. Akos will also launch services that

Indian OPD system is cumbersome and costly, leaving healthcare gasping for breath The company will step in with its app that will give patients immediate and inexpensive consultation Dr. Bindehshwar Pathak says this will help deliver affordable healthcare to India’s rural areas

will help executives travelling between India and the US. Akos MD has been serving successful primary medical care needs of people in the USA. Primary care or OPD as we know, is time taking and expensive in India. Appointments may not be available when needed and if booked, getting to the hospital, parking and waiting in queues can be a challenge, on the top of that the services are pretty expensive. In order to make the experience of consulting a doctor trustable, economical and time saving Akos MD is introducing an app that will allow patients to in-cognito seek expert advice from doctors about health concerns that they face every day right from their smartphones. Services are not limited to OPD care but patients are assisted with all their needs post consultation. The app will

To reduce costs and waiting time, Akos MD created

an app that connects patients directly to the doctors

be launched in July this year Akos MD was started across USA to facilitate primary healthcare. Primary health care in the USA is expensive and can have long wait times. To reduce costs and waiting time Akos MD created an app that would connect the patient to the doctors and not an automated system. Patients can talk and sort out issues over the phone, they can even receive prescriptions and follow up schedules and referrals. India long back stopped being a provider of affordable care at the primary level or OPD. Cost of visiting a doctor ranges from Rs. 600 to 1,200 depending on the specialist. Most of the times people do not know which doctor to visit and end up paying twice for the same problem. Akos MD is aiming at making this primary level of consultation available to people when they need it and gives reasons to not postpone addressing your health concerns for a later date for the lack of time. The app makes it is easier and cheaper without bothering to move away from office or home. Should a visit be required the same can be arranged at a hospital of choice. The whole experience does not stop here. Should the patient need tests, second opinion, admission or care at home, everything can be arranged through this app.

This service will also have a dedicated section for to-be mothers and mothers with young children to address their day to day queries and health issues. All that a patient would need is a private space, smartphone and an internet connection. Akos MD is a venture managed by a group of doctors in the USA led by Dr. Kishlay Anand and Dr. Swaraj Singh. Other successful ventures that they run in India and the USA are NRI Family Health that takes care of relatives of NRIs who are elderly and need care. Another venture called imedicalconsult, engages into second opinions for critically ill patients looking for a second opinion from specialists around the world and India. The venture ‘kare@home’ is available to people looking at services of care givers and nurses at home. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak is a great humanist and social reformer of contemporary India. With his efforts erstwhile untouchables have been allowed by the society to intermingle with them and to live on par. Sociologist, social activist, and Founder of Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement, Dr. Pathak believes that “Along with Swachh Bharat, Swasthya Bharat is also important and tools like Akos MD will help to deliver quality healthcare to rural India, as it will help them to connect with doctors all across the globe. A couple of newly hired team members of Akos MD in India are very excited and having their experience in the health-tech domain, they are very confident that this service will be very affordable and quality Healthcare. One of the key members, Chandan Kumar said ‘Being a bi-national company in USA, this will be a good value proposition for corporate employees travelling to US or while in India. Dr. Spurdha Sood, who looks after the Indian Operations, was of the opinion that established network of other successful ventures will be of great help. Dr. Ritu Kapkoti, who handles the Medical Operations and is the care coordinator, strongly believes that this convenient and affordable care will help people to prevent serious health issues.

APRIL 24-30, 2017





Abandoned at very tender ages, and disabled on top of it, these girls have just shown how the two words are synonymous

Quick Glance SSB BUREAU


HEY say where there is a will there is a way. For most people in problems, though, this is a mere advice from others, who, they feel, just say this and do nothing to help. But does everyone need help? That too, if you are an abandoned child and disabled? Four Indian gilrs have just shown what grit and daring can bring. And thus it is that they achieved sporting glory at the recently concluded Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria! The odds were stacked high against 19-year-old Kiran, Dulfisha, and Diksha, and 17-year-old Vidushi. These four athletes from SOS Children’s Villages of India were part of the Indian contingent at the Special Olympics held in Austria from 14th to 25th March, 2017. Despite the odds, what Kiran, Vidushi, Dulfisha, and Diksha have been able to achieve is incredible. They were selected by Special Olympics Bharat (SOB) to be part of the Women’s Floor Hockey team

All four of them had survived some SOS Village or the other All of them had a massive inborn love for sport, and they did it They brought India hude glory in Austria by winning a bronze

of India that won a Bronze at the Games. Vidushi was selected to be a part of the Women’s Floor Ball team. While Team India did not get any medal in this category, she received the medal for the Best Floor Ball Player. Thanks to their sheer talent, hard work, and excellence in Floor Ball and Floor Hockey, these gritty and spunky girls made winning medals seem almost effortless. Role models for girls across the nation, Kiran, Vidushi, Dulfisha, and Diksha have been nurtured in SOS Children’s Villages of Khajurikalan (Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh), Jaipur, and Latur. Gritty to the core, they never allowed their social circumstances or disabilities stand in the way of hard work and determination to dream big. In February 2016, the National Floor Ball Championship was

Gritty to the core, they never allowed their social circumstances or disabilities stand in their way

organized at Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. Nearly 500 athletes with special needs (male and female) from 20 states participated in this national-level competition. The Girls Floor Ball team of Madhya Pradesh comprised of eight players— Lakshmi, Kiran, Mahalakshmi, Shruti, Pawli, Mansi, Vidushi, and Manimeghlai. All the eight players are from SOS Children’s Village Khajurikalan.In February 2016, the National Floor Ball Championship was organised at Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. Nearly 500 athletes with special needs (male and female) from 20 states participated in this national-level competition. The Girls Floor Ball team of Madhya Pradesh comprised eight players— Lakshmi, Kiran, Mahalakshmi, Shruti, Pawli, Mansi, Vidushi, and Manimeghlai. All the eight players are from SOS Children’s Village, Khajurikalan. Dulfisha was 7 years old when she came to SOS Children’s Village in Jaipur, after the death of both her parents. Officials entrusted her to the loving care of SOS Mother Gauri. A shy and hesitant girl, Dulfisha initially took time to adjust to her new surroundings, but with time and support she settled down soon. She was unable to walk freely

(Above L-R) Kiran-Vidushi-Dulfisha-Diksha, (Above left) Girls with their Coach Pratibha (in the centre)

as rickets had taken both her legs. However, she was provided appropriate medical treatment, and after a surgery, she could walk freely and started playing outdoor games with other children in the village with verve. She was so fond of sports that she started taking part in many school-level sports competitions. Her sports coach spotted her talent and suggested that she should play floor hockey instead of basketball. Diksha came to SOS Children’s Village, Latur, in July 2001 when she was just three, accompanied by her two biological siblings—elder brother Vishal and younger sister Nikita. Their father had died due to liver failure in May 2000, and their poor, illiterate mother, who was a daily-wage agriculture labourer suffering from chronic illness, was unable to take care of these three children. She, therefore, admitted her children to the nearest SOS Village. Since Diksha was not able to cope up with academics in a regular school, she took admission in a special school in 2009. Diksha has always shown a very keen interest in sports and in dancing, and there has been no looking back.

12 Good News

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DRIVING EDUCATION FOR THE POOR A bright student from Sundarbans lost his education to poverty. Now at 65, he drives a taxi to fund two schools and an orphanage



T’S been a bumpy ride for the 65-year-old yellow cab driver, Gazi Jalaluddin. A good student who was forced to give up formal education due to poverty, he now runs two schools and an orphanage in his native Sundarbans, ensuring a smoother journey for the underprivileged in a land at the mercy of the rivers. “I don’t know how much longer I will be able to keep it up through driving. My two sons are also driving and help in the endeavour. There are 425 students in total. Since it’s run as a non-governmental organisation (Sunderban Orphanage and Social Welfare Trust) we do not have access to government funds. I have tried communicating with the local district administration about assistance, but to no avail,” the bespectacled Gazi says while taking a break from ferrying passengers. Gazi’s schools are located in the

Joynagar area of the Sundarbans (in South 24-Parganas district), about 60 km from Kolkata. With a 25-member staff 21 are teachers the schools are completely dependent on the income from taxi rides, donations from good Samaritans and passengers who are considerate enough to offer some money when they learn of Gazi’s unique venture. His cab proudly displays his mobile number (9735562504) and an appeal for help with the message: “This taxi’s total income is spent for the development of orphans mission, Sikkhyatan mission and IIPF School for the orphans. So kindly don’t give any traffic case against this taxi.” Gazi divides his time between Narendrapur in South 24 Parganas and Joynagar in the Sundarbans area of the same district. Part of the week he spends at Narendrapur plying the cab and the rest back home in the Sundarbans. Citing his wife as an inspiration, Gazi

He spends most of his daily income of Rs 450 on

the schools, but locals and some kind passengers have also helped his mission with money

revealed his family lives on the premises of one of the schools. “I had to quit studies when I was seven years old. I had stood first in class two and was going to the next class. But my parents were unable to afford books, so I had to give up. That drove me to do something for the underprivileged,” Gazi reminisced without any pangs of remorse. His dream of setting up a school finally took wings in 1998. But the road was not short and the journey was peppered with obstacles. “I spent my boyhood begging on the streets of Kolkata and then I started plying rickshaws. Gradually, I started driving a taxi. From 1980, I used to arrange for books and clothes for children and ensure they went to school. I used to impart driving lessons to the youth to make sure they have a source of livelihood.“When I reached a financially stable position, I started a small primary school with 16 students in the plot of land I own. I gave up the plot (four to five kathas) for school use. That became bigger with the acquisition of more land and is now a school-cum-orphanage,” he explained. Later on, through donations of land, he acquired around seven kathas from locals and passengers. This became the site for his second school. “In both the schools, students are

Snapshots He stood first in Class 2 but could not proceed further, with no money to buy his books Once financially stable, he started a school in his own land and funded it from his income Now he runs two schools, one of them elevated to secondary level, and an orphanage

taught till Class 4 and in one we have recently introduced Madhyamik (Class 10 board exams under the West Bengal Education Board). My earnings through taxi rides is around Rs 450 (a day). The money that is left from food expenditure and maintenance of the vehicle goes to the schools. “I want to expand the schools and target secondary and higher secondary education. I have faith in people and hope they come to our aid as poverty is still the root cause of unemployment and lack of education in the Sundarbans. Life is difficult for the people in the remoter areas due to natural disasters. Education will go a long way in helping them achieve self-sufficiency,” Gazi signed-off on his way to pick up another commuter.

APRIL 24-30, 2017



Tourism, hospitality, healthcare, even training drivers for taxi aggregators will be the clear crosshairs of the corporation



NDIA’s premier skill development platform, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), will from now focus more on the services sector - like tourism, hospitality and healthcare - to train millions of the

Quick Glance The corporation is going to focus on the service sector from now Tourism, hospitality and healthcare are some of the key areas But it will also focus to improve upon the low quality of training

country’s unemployed youth, its CEO Manish Kumar says. To ensure employability of trained men and women, Kumar told IANS in a wideranging interview that it was also laying stress on quality training of youth as the feedback received last year was that “the quality was a little low”. “Therefore, we have ensured high-quality training” in NSDC’s future programmes, Kumar said. “We try to become a facilitator for skill development in such a way that whatever government policy is being made, it is perfectly grounded and is according to the needs of the industry,” Kumar said.

Elaborating on future projects, Kumar added that NSDC’s priorities were aligned to the government’s priorities and initially, the ongoing Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) would be scaled up for better and quality skill training, depending upon the demand. He said 1,800 centres were currently running under PMKVY across India, but the numbers needed to be scaled up. The second phase of PMKVY, which was launched on October 2 last year, is an improvement over the first one. It has been designed to focus more on quality training. He said that skilling 10 million people by 2020 was not a tough task, but the real challenge was the quality of the training. “The Skill Development Ministry and NSDC have been focusing entirely on quality. We have to ensure quality trained people so that employability could be guaranteed,” Kumar said.

a temporary tent made for hosting the marathon breakfast event. The officials from the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed that the gurdwara broke the previous record of 55 nationalities having a continental breakfast, organised by Nutella at the Milan Expo in Italy in 2015. The gurdwara, which sticks to the Sikh tradition serves free meals to all visitors through its community kitchen, caters to over 50,000 Sikh devotees in the United Arab Emirates. “Sikhism has always embraced diversity as it has been part of our faith and belief, that we are all human beings to be treated with respect,” Surender Kandhari, chairman of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak

Quick Glance


GURUDWARA FEEDS 600 FROM 101 COUNTRIES Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar in Dubai serves continental meals to a huge number of people and ousted Nutella from Guinness Records book INDIA ABROAD NEWS SERVICE


gurdwara in Dubai broke the world record for serving free breakfast to the maximum number of people from diverse nationalities. Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar entered the Guinness World Record last week for serving continental breakfast titled “Breakfast for Diversity” to 600 persons from 101 countries in an hour-long event in Jebel Ali. The Khaleej Times reported that schoolchildren, government officials and diplomats attended the event, while Indian Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri was the chief guest. People from different parts of the city flocked to the Jebel Ali Gardens and filled

Sikhism has a long tradition of feeding people of all communities The previous record for such a feat was held by Nutella The latter fed people from 51 countries, the gurdwara’s record is 101

Darbar temple, told the daily. roads were repaired across major ports and others organisations, 65,498 new trees were planted and 63,696 tonnes of trash was disposed.” The campaign also included digitisation of paper work in the ministry and about 10,000 files have been scanned or weeded out, he said.

Good News



A SHIMLA CAFE WHERE PRISONERS SERVE PIZZAS This is part of a rehab programme by the DG Prisons of Himachal



INDI films “Karma” and “Do Aankhen Barah Haath” showed convicts being taken out of prison to be reformed. Now, in Shimla’s first Book Cafe inmates of a sub-jail near here are trained by a renowned hotel to serve cookies and pizza they have baked. The cafe, with a seating capacity of 40 and constructed at a cost of Rs 20 lakh, was opened by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh last week. The four who run the cafe are Jai Chand, Yog Raj, Ram Lal and Raj Kumar, all of whom are serving life imprisonment at the Kaithu jail near Shimla, Director General (Prisons) Somesh Goyal told IANS. The first-of-its-kind cafe in the country is funded by the state’s Tourism Department. It is open daily from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. At night, the prisoners return to the jail. Goyal, who has also been credited with reforming prisoners through music, said employing prisoners at the cafe was an attempt to rehabilitate them. “This cafe has given us the chance to connect to the world,” Jai Chand told IANS. Another beaming jail inmate, Yog Raj, said this cafe had given them a chance to get employment once they walk out of the prison. “This is being run by four of us independently. Even the visitors, the locals, don’t show any apprehension while interacting with us. Indeed, they are keen to know more about our radical transformation,” he added. Most of the time, the cafe, which offers free Wi-Fi access, is occupied by visitors reading books on wildlife, environment, tourism and Shimla’s history while sipping coffee. It has books of authors like Chetan Bhagat, Nikita Singh, and French novelist Jules Verne, besides educational books, magazines and newspapers.

14 Calligraphy

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Muqtar Ahmed became a Master Arabic calligrapher and is now set to have a typeface named partly after him Quick Glance



Praise from his school teacher made him get into calligraphy in Hyderabad

IFE for the little Muqtar Ahmad, still in school then in Andhra Pradesh’s Medak district, turned around swiftly when one day his teacher praised his hand writing: It is almost like calligraphy, the teacher told the lad. Well, calligraphy he did, and now he is the only Indian ‘Ijazah’ (Masters) from an Istanbul-based learning centre. And for a village boy to fetch a high price from a top official of Madina, or paint the interiors of a private jet, it has been a long and cherishable journey. Ahmed’s journey into the world of this intense form of art initially began under the tutelage of Zakir al-Hashmi and Gazi Tahiruddin Qaisar, two prominent calligraphers practicing and teaching their art in Hyderabad’s Chatta Bazaar, renowned for printing invitation cards in Urdu calligraphy. After learning his first steps, the young Ahmed left for Bangalore in the late 1980’s and started working for the Urdu newspaper Salar. NEWSPAPERS & WEDDING CARDS “There were no typewriters in Urdu language back then, so Urdu newspapers relied on calligraphers,” said Ahmed, who recently became the only Indian to obtain an ‘Ijazah’ (Masters Diploma) from Istanbul-based Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC). This degree can fetch him a good job and a much better lifestyle in this part of the world, where Islamic art is highly appreciated. But Ahmed did not earn this degree for his own wellbeing. He is a man on a mission, to preserve Islamic calligraphy in India. “The Arabic calligraphy with all its delicacy is at its peak in the Islamic world,” said Ahmed. However, within four years of coming to Bangalore, young Ahmed soon found himself jobless, as India was engulfed by globalisation, and computer become a household utility. “In the next four years, computers were introduced and there was no need for handwriting. The calligraphers soon found themselves jobless,” said the 45-year-old, sitting at his institute of Indo-Islamic Art and

Due to computerisation, the business of calligraphy crashed, but he did not give up With help from a benefactor, he set up a calligraphy institute and is now designing a comic book

Syed Muhammad Beary, a leading realestate developer in Bangalore. Beary later patronised Ahmed and commissioned him to produce exquisite plaques as objects of décor for his home. Fascinated with his skill, the company further sponsored his visit to Istanbul for a conclave of calligraphers from around the world and later helped him to build his own calligraphy institute in 2010. space for caption here space for caption here Ahmed’s urge to learn was intrinsic, as he considers Arabic calligraphy as his form of worship. “Writing Koranic verses and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) is worship. These works are sawab-e-jaria (continuous reward). The aesthetics and refinement are the specialties of the Islamic art. There is no beautiful script in the world other than Koran,” believes Ahmed. He soon found himself learning from Syrian-American master calligrapher and founder of Sakkal Design, Mamoun Sakkal, who is now designing an Arabic typeface, based on Ahmed’s style of work; and Mohamed Zakariya, an American master of Arabic calligraphy, who designed the popular Eid in the US postage stamp. “I have known Ustad Muqtar for enjoyed royal patronage amongst the almost 10 years now and have always admired his calligraphy and design Mughal rulers of Hindustan. skills. His is a natural talent that MESSIAH BEARY deserved to reach its highest level Initially, Ahmed also took up odd jobs through training under the best of writing plaques and wedding cards. calligraphy masters in the world. I have But as the old adage says, luck favors the tried to encourage him to complete his brave, and Ahmed’s work, a calligraphic training in Istanbul by commissioning plaque inscribed with the Arabic verse pieces of his calligraphy work. Soon, I Barakallah laka wabarkalika wajama will release an Arabic typeface design bainakuma fi khair (God blesses you to based on his calligraphy that Muqtar has remain together in peace) for an used in several of his graphic design, to invitation card for a marriage caught the be named Sakkal Muqtar. I hope to attention of the bridegroom’s father, complete it and publish it in the future.

The Governor of Madina in Saudi Arabia paid a price equivalent to Rs 75,000 to acquire one of his works as an art piece for his home

Culture in Bangalore, where he a grooming a new generation of calligraphers for India. “I was shocked to see that many of my colleagues did not do anything to preserve this art. Instead, they changed their profession or took up odd jobs to make ends meet. I feared that we might lose the art forever in this country,” said the master calligrapher. But the situation only helped harden his determination to learn more and master the art, in order to save the traditional art of calligraphy, which once

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We collaborated on producing calligraphic panels to decorate the interior spaces of a private jet in 2004. One panel was for the vestibule area and one for the lounge area. Both pieces were in Jali Thuluth style of calligraphy and were integrated into the interiors of the jet,” Mamoun says. MONUMENTAL MASTERS “Meeting them changed my outlook towards the art. Master Mohamed Zakariya introduced me to classical International Arabic Calligraphy,” says Ahmed with a glint in his eyes. What followed was a four and half years of correspondence study with Zakariya, from whom he learnt different styles or scripts of calligraphy, including the most visually pleasing of all - Thuluth (pronounced Sulus) also known as the mother of calligraphy. He is also an expert in and Nastaliq styles of calligraphy. In 2008, he visited Istanbul, where he learnt calligraphy from worldrenowned master calligraphers Hasan Çelebi and Dawood Biktash. Ahmed believes that working as a calligrapher, is not only the dexterousness of your hand, but a control of your mind over body. “This art involves your brain, your eyes and your heart to work in unity. It is an exacting craft, demanding knowledge of history and geometry at the same time. A highly developed aesthetic sense, a dexterous hand and mental and physical discipline that sometimes defy logic. Then only one can create verse in a more poignant form,” said Ahmed, who is also now training his children as calligraphist. Ahmed has participated in calligraphy exhibitions and conferences in Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Madina, Malaysia and Algeria. During the last two years, his hands have churned out 30 masterpieces. The Governor of Madina in Saudi Arabia paid a price equivalent to Rs. 75,000 to acquire one of his works for his home. But for a man on a mission, Ahmed has not constrained his skill only within the confines of traditional form of expression. He opened himself to the challenge of working for a graphic novel called “Sufi Comics: The Wise Fool of Baghdad”. It’s a collection of stories from the life of Bahlool who lived in 8th Century Baghdad. “I think it is a wonderful way to make Arabic calligraphy popular amongst the youth of India. There are hardly any calligraphy exhibitions in this country, for the youth to get inspired from. We need to reach out to them and there can be no better way than comic books which entertains a child as well educates him and opens up new world of art for them to explore,” said Ahmed who feels constrained by the lack of patronage that calligraphers receive in this country.


MAGIC OF ‘METRO MAN’ Despite the fact that there have already been published books on the legendary E Sreedharan, one more highlights much lesser known facts



NE peculiar aspect of Indian bureaucrats and their projects is that most of them fail to get the work done within the stipulated deadline and budget. The offering at hand brings us face to face with one man who defeated the tangles that beset our bureaucracy and governance, allowing room for excellence and becoming part of railway engineering folklore. Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, popularly known as the “Metro Man”, is largely credited for changing the face of public transport in India by his leadership in building Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro, when he served as its managing director between 1995 and 2012.A celebrity in his own right, there is ample information about this technological genius in the public domain. There are detailed works on his life that seem to cover his professional efforts, methodology, the problems he faced, and the unique solutions he offered while completing key projects on time and within budget, as well as his ensuing success and glory. What new information about this man known, revered and respected throughout the country could be presented in this book? But as the biographer Rajendra B Aklekar dug deeper, he came to realise that there was much that was unknown about Sreedharan. “There were many hidden aspects of his life; aspects never discussed or documented in the public domain,

Quick Glance As the author dug deeper into Shreedharan’s ife, he realised there were many unknown facts The book is based mostly on personal interactions between the author and Shreedharan in Kerala Though glorified to no end, the author said that he had some vociferous critics too

though there are official records and notes regarding a few,” Aklekar mentions in the preface while reminding readers that this biography mainly based on personal interactions with Sreedharan at his residence in Kerala focuses on little-known stories that have made him what he is today. Consider the national railway strike in 1974 for instance: The 20 day-strike by 1.7 million workers is perhaps the largest strike to hit Indian Railways till date but at that time, Sreedharan was busy designing a Metro rail network in

The fundamental

argument of his critics is that Sreedharan was given an unduly free hand and violated all established norms

Calcutta (now Kolkata) and therefore refused to halt his work. Then, in the build-up to the first Gulf War, there was fuel shortage in several countries around the globe, including India. The only project that managed to stand up against all odds at that point of time was the construction of Konkan Railway, headed by Sreedharan. “He had factored in all permutations and combinations, insulating the project from any hurdles by setting up petrol pumps with back-up supplies,” Aklekar writes. One would assume that Sreedharan a man so dedicated to his cause and service must have had a tough family life. But surprisingly, the “Metro Man” maintained a cordial balance between his work and family. In the biography, his daughter Shanthi Menon shares personal insights about her father, including how Sreedharan values family life and is involved in every small decision that is taken, paying attention to even the smallest needs of his grandchildren. BUT THEN, THERE ARE CRITICS TOO... A chapter titled “Bouquets and Brickbats” provides enough space to his critics too. The biographer points out that not even one of his critics was willing to speak on record, but there were enough cases in the public domain for him to put together their points of view. The fundamental argument of his critics revolves around the fact that Sreedharan was given an unduly free hand, violated all established norms and, despite all of this, has been glorified. More than anything else, this biography holds significance particularly because Sreedharan himself sat patiently with the author to clear all his doubts and almost proofread the draft of this book, giving it the status of an authorised biography. Finally, this book is not a guide to the process that marked the construction of Konkan Railway or Delhi Metro. It is about his perseverance, beliefs and public and private battles.


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It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple”

Famous Actress, Writer and ‘Save the Children’ Brand Ambassdor


Rabindranath Tagore


Standard Operating Procedure to come to the aid of street children in getting benefit of government schemes


LET THERE BE LIGHT On World Day for Safety and Health at Workplace, let’s pledge to undertake all health and safety measures at our work place


factory housed in five-story building in Noida Sector 11 was gutted and six persons including the factory owner were killed in the incident. The reason was that automatic doors that have keyless entry, got jammed during fire. The incident reminded us of the safety measures that may cost us our life if avoided because of cost-cutting or other such reasons. Another such example came from Sikkim where a linesman was atop an electricity tower repairing a fault when one of his colleagues accidentally switched on the power. The death was instantaneous. World Day for Safety and Health at Workplace that falls on April 28, reminds us of safety measures that we need to adhere to at workplace. We can’t keep count of scavengers dying after inhaling poisonous gases while cleaning choked drains and sewer lines. Since, most of them are not on government or municipal corporations’ pay roll – working mostly as daily wagers with contractors – they don’t even get proper compensation. In such a bleak scenario, there is light of hope as well. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is continuously constructing metro lines in Delhi and suburbs for past 16 years. Soon, it will be longest city metro in the world. Compared to the magnitude, there have been negligible accidents on site. Reason is simple – it adheres to prescribed safety norms to the last detail. Let the light be there and everybody should follow DMRC example.


he little children in street situations now have a reason to rejoice. Commonly called ‘Street Children’, more than 20 lakh Indian children live without access to safe care, nutrition, health and education. To me, they are like the little flowers by the roads who survive despite our collective indifference. Recently, I was invited to Delhi to become a part of a partnership between the government, NGOs and citizens that will change the lives of children who are forced to live on the street. For the very first time, India now has a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Care and Protection of children in street situations. The purpose of the SOP is to identify processes that should be set in motion once a child on the street has been identified as a child in need. These processes would be within the existing framework of rules and policies and would create a convergence of the various agencies. This is a set of guidelines that define the roles and responsibilities of for all the stakeholders for care, protection and rehabilitation of these children in a manner so simple that even a child can understand it. A survey conducted in 2016 by Save the Children in Lucknow, Mughalsarai, KolkataHowrah, Patna and Hyderabad enumerated 84,563 children living on the streets. It breaks my heart to think that just in Delhi, there are over 50,000 children who live on the streets. We have to change this. The only way to change this is by engaging with these children, government and NGOs. We have to get our children off the streets. We have to give them access to education, we have to give them an identity. It’s simple. It can be done. The first indication of this reality is this SOP. There are many people who are fearful and afraid sometimes to collaborate with the government. They are never sure

whether the government will support their initiative or not. The SOP shows that NGOs and the government can collaborate and work together because the goals are the same — to make a difference. The best thing about the SOP is that it is accessible to you and me. We can go to the website and study it. If anyone wants to reach out to a child living on the streets, they can. There is a framework that helps us to make a difference. Coming back to the SOP, for the first time, they tell us and also different government agencies how to help street children. Children in street situations are a remarkable example of the visible who are invisible as they are in front of us all the time- none of us pass a day without coming across a child on the street. They face constant physical, mental and sexual abuse; many of them survive on discarded food and hardly have enough clothes to cover their bodies. And it is also true that many of us cannot even look them in the eye because of guilt, and sadness. They often don’t even have a proof of their identity and when a calamity strikes and if we lose them, then depressingly, they are not even a statistic. All this is set to change when the SOP will be implemented in letter and spirit by both the government

More than 20 lakh


KUMAR DILIP Edited, Printed and Published by: Monika Jain on behalf of Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation, owned by Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation Printed at: The Indian Express Limited A - 8, Sector -7, NOIDA (UP) Published at: RZ - 83, Mahavir Enclave, Palam - Dabri Road, New Delhi - 110045 (India) Corporate Office: 819, Wave Silver Tower, Sector - 18, NOIDA (UP) Phone: +91-120-6500425 Email:,

Indian children live without access to safe care, nutrition, health and education. To me, they are like the little flowers by the roads

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We have to get our

children off the streets. We have to give them access to education, we have to give them an identity. It’s simple. It can be done agencies and we the people. The SOP calls for issuing of Aadhar cards, health insurance and bank accounts. It seeks to end the culture of working in various silos in the government and most of all, seeks to empower us as citizens to speak out and stand up for the rights of children on the street. Launching the SOP along with the Minister of Women and Child Development Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Ms Stuti Kacker, who is Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and my friends from Save the Children was a big celebration for me. In my capacity as an artist and communicator I have been striving to create awareness about issues close to my heart, and children are most special to me. When I see them smile, play, dance despite so much adversity I am humbled, filled with gratitude, it reminds me what it means to be a human being. It also breaks my heart to see lakhs of them suffering, living in abusive and risky environments, but at the same time I am overwhelmed by their resilience. In fact, as I realised on my trip to Delhi yet again, sometimes children do understand better and learn faster than us. While on a visit to a government school bursting with energetic children, many of who live in street situations, I was taught how to wash my hands even better than my parents did! This effort to ensure good hygiene practices is part of a drive by Save the Children to make schools safe places where children also learn essential life skills. To try and return the gesture of those lovely children I thought of teaching them the ‘jungle clap’, the importance of which they grasped sooner than many adults in my experience. I have resolved to keep working for our children and I am pleased to say that our Minister Smt Maneka Gandhi is the right person to ensure that this SOP is implemented across the country. We as citizens have a responsibility to help the government in this effort by spreading word about the issues of children in street situations. We need to ensure dignity, access to health and education for these children and it is possible by creating awareness, and engaging with issues. Change will follow. I hope you will join me in true earnest in celebrating this great beginning towards improving the lives of ‘Street Children’.





The author is a graduate in Computer Science from BITS, Pilani. He is presently helping to settle a migrant community, focusing on their education needs

Mob violence is savagery at its worst. Recent instances point towards a common thread, which humankind has been ignoring for long



HE visuals of some frantic nurtures us to think its men who individuals jumping need to take care of the society in over and kicking a dead general. Pervasive lack of education body will give you shivers. and job makes our men and boys Unfortunately, this is not a scene feel disempowered and they resort of IS styled video or some gory, to all possible means to show their thriller drama. This happened for responsibility towards society and real, in Pakistan where a 23 year correct it. The easiest means to do old bright journalism student, Mashal Khan was killed brutally Yugoslavian in the name of religion. A mob artist Maria of reportedly 500-600 students Abramovic gathered outside his hostel, shot him and dragged him to the streets where the highest form of barbarism was on display. His crime- he dared to raise questions against his religion! The lynching of Mashal Khan is not an isolated incident. Our very own peaceful country has seen bouts of mob violence and riots. It is very important to understand the psycho-social context of such savagery. Monsters so is to take up violence. exist inside every one of us. Yugoslavian artist Marina Essentially, they are not monsters Abramovic did a social experiment so much, but our broken identities, to understand the humanist our sadnesses, insecurities and tendencies of individuals. She fears. Our patriarchal society stood motionless for 6 hours,

in which people were allowed to do anything to her body. She had kept 72 objects on the table which can be used by them. The start was innocuous, but later people disrobed her, groped her, used razor to put cuts across her body and even put a gun in her hands pointing towards her. In Marina’s own words, this experiment shows the dark side of humanity. “It shows how fast a person can hurt you under favourable circumstances. It shows that if he provides the stage, the majority of “normal” people, apparently can become truly violent”. The little monsters inside us will continue to thrive, if we don’t fight them instead of fighting out on the streets. In one of his last posts on Facebook, Mashal has written, “The difference between my darkness and your darkness is that I can look at my own badness in the face and accept its existence while you are busy covering your mirror with a white linen sheet.”

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR needy and the very small section of community which is left behind in success stories is praise worthy. We all travel miles throughout the country and daily notice these poor vendors selling various material at the red lights. They are left unnoticed by everyone of us. Omkarnath Katharia has stood up for them and has the decency to offer them food and water. He is really heroic. Athishay Jain, Gurugram

QUITE HEROIC The article ‘Auto Motivated Delhi Driver was a very inspiring. The way Omkarnath Katharia is helping and serving the

GREAT SERVICE The article ‘Quality Care At Gurukul’ was a very touching story. This unique school is doing a great service to this country. The way they take care of the kids keeping their self esteem in mind is excellent work. Such kids face a lot stress in life and go through a lot of difficulty. At least someone is working for them without involving caste and religion into

the matter. Ansh Gupta, Greater Noida, U.P. HEARTENING The article ‘AIM: SAVE EARTH’ is a very important and very nicely written piece. It is good to know that Hollywood is connected not just to movies but also to help the environment. Actors like Leonardo Dicaprio are working a lot for the environmental issues and motivate the rest to follow them and alter their views. This is heartening. Archit Bawa, Patiala, Punjab GREAT STORY The story ‘Sunil Weds Sheelu’ is a real life tale of redemption after injustice and suffering. But it is also about the courage of a young girl who proved that no misfortune can stand in the face of grit and guts. Pooja Asthana, New Delhi

Please mail your opinion to - or Whatsapp at 9868807712

18 Photo Feature

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Sky’s NOT the Limit The Bengaluru skies over the Yelahanka airbase were dazzled with somersaults and stunts by metal birds with the daredevilry of world famous aerobatics teams in full flow. With streaks of colourful plumes, It just shows that the Indian fliers are among the best Photos: SIPRA DAS

APRIL 24-30, 2017

Photo Feature




WHO, USAID, UNICEF and other organisations will participate


O learn how WASH can prevent the spread of healthcareassociated infections, Medentech and the Global Handwashing Partnership is organising a webinar on May 3 at observing Hand Hygiene Day (May 5). During this webinar, experts will share information on how to improve WASH in HCFs, including, sharing an update from the WHO/UNICEF Global Action Plan; USAID’s Maternal & Child Program (MCSP) will discuss how WASH underpins quality of care and contributes to health systems strengthening effort, as well as the Clean Clinic Approach, a WASH program that empowers HCFs to become clean, safe, and desirable. The Beninese Association for Social Marketing will provide an overview of how it supports HCFs in Benin to improve hygiene and make services safer for patients. Medentech will share lessons from its work in infection prevention across the world and offer some tools for continued hygiene improvement in healthcare clinics globally.


TRACKING PLASTICS IN THE OCEANS An online event will seek to empower people on the issue


esting Our Waters.Net empowers citizen scientists to track and prevent marine plastic pollution by designing and distributing easy to build, inexpensive, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) trawls. Hang these trawls off of a bridge, boat or shoreline and collect plastic trash in the water to help identify where it is coming from. With that knowledge we can begin to prevent it from entering our water in the first place. This is an online event and can be attended on April 25 by anyone interested.

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SWACCHAGRAHA APP, OPEN DEFECATION MAP The app will enable registered volunteers to send info of instances of people indulging in this nuisance in declared ODF villages



N a unique move, the Ghaziabad district administration has launched a mobile app to help officials locate areas where people defecate in the open. Volunteers and monitoring committees will now be able to send complaints and Google

map locations of open defecation. According to officials, the ‘Swachhagrah’ app is available on the Google Playstore but its use will be restricted to volunteers and monitoring c o m m i t t e e members registered with the district open defecation free (ODF) control

room. The officials aim to provide a total of 12,969 toilets by the end of April as part of the ODF programme. As many as 111 of 196 villages in the district are open defecation-free. “Once we achieve the ODF status in all of our 196 villages, the app will help volunteers and monitoring

Quick Glance 111 out of the 196 villages in the district are already ODF Once full ODF is achieved, this app will be deployed for mapping OD The app can be used only by registered volunteers

committees to check if people are returning to old habits. They, after providing their login and password, can send complaints and even the location through the app. The complaint will be displayed to all officials and also in the control room,” said Virendra Singh, district Panchayati Raj officer. Officials said that once they receive a complaint through the app, they will go to villages and hold counseling sessions and meetings with locals to persuade them not to return to open defecation. “It is not very easy for people to shun the old habits. However, we resorted to various tactics to persuade them not to start open defecation again. In one instance, we went to the house of an erring person and asked him for a spade. When he asked why, we told that this will be used to clear up the land that he soiled. He felt ashamed and promised not to indulge in such a practice again,” said Tikam Nagar, a resident of Ikla village.


INCREASED BUDGET, AND YET INSUFFICIENT UN says that the increase in potable water supply budgets by countries is not sufficient to meet the Year 2030 goals PRESS TRUST OF INDIA


GAINST the backdrop of almost two billion people around the world relying on sources of drinking-water contaminated with faeces, the United Nations has called on countries to “radically” increase investments in water and sanitation infrastructure

Quick Glance Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder It occurs mostly in 60+ persons and increases the risk of stroke Big people have a larger atrium, which is where the problem occurs

not only to protect their populations from deadly diseases but also to ensure that they are able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Contaminated drinking-water is estimated to cause more than 500,000 diarrhoeal deaths each year and is a major factor in several neglected tropical diseases, including intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, and trachoma,” said Maria Neira, Director of Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at the UN World Health Organization (WHO). The UN report, Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water 2017, notes that

while countries have increased their budgets for water, sanitation and hygiene at an average annual rate of about 4.9 per cent over the last three years, 80 per cent of countries have reported that the increase is still insufficient to meet nationallydefined targets for those services. “Increased investments in water and sanitation can yield substantial benefits for human health and development, generate employment and make sure that we leave no one behind,” he said.

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FROM ‘THIN AIR’ COMES PRECIOUS DROPS No one till now has really thought out of the box when it comes to solving the water crisis like this INDIA ABROAD NEWS SERVICE


O one till now has really thought out of the box when it comes to solving the water crisis humankind faces daily, especially in poor and marginalized economies. And yet, the atmosphere contains an estimated 13,000 trillion litres of water equivalent to nearly 10 per cent of all fresh water present in lakes worldwide that has remained untapped. Now, a team of researchers in the

US, including two of Indian origin, have developed a device that extracts potable water from ambient air using only sunlight as the energy source. The solar-powered water harvester works even when relative humidity (RH) is as low as 20 per cent, the level common in arid areas and deserts of the world, the researchers report. “This is a major breakthrough in the long-standing challenge of harvesting water from the air at low humidity,” Omar Yaghi, chemistry

Quick Glance This device that extracts potable water from ambient air This device uses sunlight as the source of energy This is a major breakthrough in the challenge of harvesting water

professor at the University of California-Berkeley and one of the corresponding authors, told Nature India. “The key development in our demonstration is that we used only ambient sunlight, with no electricity needed,” Yaghi said. “This is a major improvement over most other airwater harvesting devices which require energy input and therefore are economically not viable.” “I believe this device will work well in most areas of India,” Yaghi said. Largescale use of this device “can change the landscape of water utilisation in India, where sunlight is abundant”, added coauthor Sameer Rao, a post-doctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The heart of the new device constructed at MIT is a metalorganic framework (MOF) that belongs to a class of unique materials exhibiting extremely high porosity that Yaghi’s team had pioneered in the 1990s at Berkeley.




ESEARCHERS have developed a

wristband-type wearable sweat sensor that could help diagnose cystic fibrosis, diabetes and other diseases. The sensor collects sweat, measures its molecular constituents and then electronically transmits the results for analysis and diagnostics through a smartphone, Xinhua news agency reported. The study was led by researchers at the Stanford University, in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley. Unlike previous sweat collectors, the new device does




Study on power of public policy on heart health shows


O S P I TA L I S AT I O N for heart attacks and strokes is less common among people living in areas that restrict trans fats in foods compared to residents in areas without restrictions, new research has found. “Our study highlights the power of public policy to impact the cardiovascular health of a population,” said lead author Eric Brandt from Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, US. Trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are commonly found in fried foods, chips, crackers and baked goods. Eating even minimal amounts is linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.



The new wearable device sticks to skin, stimulates the sweat glands and then does its complex detection

Health & Sanitaion


not require patients to sit still for a long time while it collects sweat from them. The wearable device is a twopart system of flexible sensors and microprocessors that sticks to the skin, stimulates the sweat glands and then detects the presence of different molecules and ions based on their electrical signals. High chloride ion levels, for example, are an indicator of cystic fibrosis while high blood glucose levels can indicate diabetes, according to the study published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For this study, the research team also measured glucose levels in sweat, which correspond to blood glucose levels, making the device potentially useful for monitoring pre-diabetes and diabetes, or potential victims of the disease.

The government organisation is now loolking for private players to invest in this project INDIA ABROAD NEWS SERVICE


HE Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has said that it has developed a rapid test kit to check quality of milk and edible oils. “We have started developing variety of rapid test kits for variety of products. But the focus is on milk product and edible oil. We are

looking for potential investors and entrepreneurs for bulk production,” FSSAI Chairman Ashish Bahuguna told media after a meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council here. One test kit cannot be used for all products and it poses a challenge, he said. “We are trying to distinguish between safety and substandard. A product can be substandard without impacting the health,” Bahuguna said, noting that milk adulteration was more in North India compared to that in South India. Since the previous survey to check adulteration threw up surprising results, the government will hold another set of survey in summer when “reportedly mid-term inflation is on peak because production is lower”.

22 Science & Technology FACEBOOK SPAM


APRIL 24-30, 2017


GENOMIC BOOST TO MUGA SILKWORM Scientists have for the first time decoded the comprehensive transcriptome of muga silkworm using next-generation sequencing, helping it fight diseases and stress



AYS after Facebook suspended 30,000 fake accounts in France, the social networking giant has disrupted spam operations it had been combating for six months. In a post, Facebook’s Technical Programme Manager Shabnam Shaik said the spam was made up of inauthentic likes and comments that appeared to come from accounts located in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and a number of other countries. “We found that most of this activity was generated not through traditional mass account creation methods, but by more sophisticated means that try to mask the fact that the accounts are part of the same coordinated operation,” Shaik added. With this disruption of inauthentic likes, Facebook said almost 99 per cent of affected Pages having more than 10,000 likes will see a drop of less than 3 per cent. The fake accounts generating spams used tricks to avoid detection, for example, by redirecting their traffic through “proxies” that disguised their location. “By disrupting the campaign now, we expect that we will prevent this network of spammers from reaching its end goal of sending inauthentic material to large numbers of people,” Shaik noted. To reduce the spread of misinformation and spam shared by creators of fake accounts, Facebook has disabled over 30,000 such profiles in France.

said.A. assamensis, popularly known as the muga silkworm, is the most important component of the Assamese silk industry The golden yellow fabric that is and it hugely contributes towards called ‘muga’ silk is Assam’s pride employment generation in northeastern Components that shield it against India, having great socio-economic and diseases were deciphered cultural significance for several tribes Environmental factors drive gene and communities of the region.Around activity and influence immunity 60,000 families are engaged in the muga silk industry in Assam. Small amounts of the comprehensive transcriptome of muga silk are also produced in Meghalaya, muga silkworm using next-generation Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram sequencing. Information obtained and Nagaland.It is also a source for novel by transcriptomic studies along with biomaterials that have applications in full genome sequence will help draw skincare, tissue engineering and the like. research strategies for protection of Despite acquisition of a Geographical muga silkworm from Indication tag, this the vagaries of nature,” silkworm and the espite acquisition of associated industry Utpal Bora, team leader at BERL, told remains vulnerable. a Geographical IANS about the latest For one, the insect’s study. Transcriptomes habitat preferences are Indication tag, this (collection of restricted to northeast silkworm and the messenger RNA India, adding to its molecules in a tissue associated industry vulnerability. or cell) are indicative “In addition, of gene activity and use remains vulnerable widespread can vary with external of pesticides in environmental tea gardens, jhum conditions.So, analysing transcriptome cultivation and deforestation threaten provides an idea about how its survivability. With global warming, environmental factors drive gene activity increased urbanisation and lack of and influence immunity in the silkworm. awareness among youths with respect to “Once the full molecular information sericulture as a profession, the scenario is decoded, advanced technologies is very discouraging for the muga-culture like ‘genome editing’ and ‘genome in the region,” said Hasnahana Chetia, a engineering’ can help immensely in research scholar and lead author of the conservation and development of new study.Disease and pest infestation also muga silkworm varieties in future,” Bora ravage the rearing of the eggs.

Quick Glance

An agreement has been signed with India to get ISRO to launch 12 Ku band transponders



“snapshot” of the muga silkworm genome decoded by Indian scientists offers vital clues for imparting disease-resistance to help conserve the economically important insect which spins the distinctive golden yellow fabric synonymous with Assam. Bioengineering Research Laboratory (BERL) at IIT-Guwahati, in collaboration with the Central Silk Board (CSB) has, for the first time, dug inside the transcriptome-genetic blueprints that are needed to translate the information stored in the DNA into functional gene products such as proteins. In the muga silkworm’s case, components that shield it against diseases and provide immunity were deciphered. “We have for the first time decoded



WEB ROBOTS TO ‘GUPSHUP’ InterBot unleashes endless possibilities that lead to more intelligent bots and systems that could converse with each other PRESS TRUST OF INDIA


S-based bot platform Gupshup last week launched InterBot, a bot-tobot communication platform to enable them transact, coordinate, compete, collaborate and negotiate with each other. An Internet Bot, also known as web robot, WWW robot or simply bot, is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Touted as the world’s first, Interbot communications enable different kinds of bots, such as shopping bots to negotiate with merchant bots to find the best prices.

A travel bot can book packages by combining the services of flight and hotel bots. A taxi bot can ask the café bot to have the coffee ready by the time the user’s taxi arrives. Gaming bots can play strategy games with dealer bots. Translate bots can combine with e-commerce bot to enable multi-lingual transactions. Personal assistant bots can schedule meetings on behalf of humans. Bots can form groups and hierarchies to improve decision-making within the enterprise. “InterBot unleashes endless possibilities that lead to more intelligent bots and systems. Just as the human civilization harnesses the collective power of individual humans,

InterBot enables bots to perform collective action dramatically amplifying individual bot capabilities. InterBot represents one small step for bot, one giant step for ‘botkind’,” Beerud Sheth, CEO of Gupshup, said in a statement. To use InterBot, bots will first have to publish themselves on this new channel. These bots can exchange services and learn from each other. Developers can now create bots simply by connecting them with each other, like Lego blocks, where the output of one bot becomes the input of the next.

APRIL 24-30, 2017

Quick Glance



Ageing diminishes a person’s ability to behave randomly It had been unclear how this ability evolves over a lifetime

25 is, on average, the golden age when humans best outsmart computers,” says Nicolas Gauvrit of Algorithmic Nature Group SSB BUREAU


recent study showed that people’s ability to make random choices or mimic a random process, such as coming up with hypothetical results for a series of coin flips, peaks around age 25. At their peak, humans outcompete many computer algorithms in generating seemingly random patterns, an ability that arises from some of the most highly developed cognitive processes in humans and may be connected to abilities such as human creativity, the researchers said, in the paper published

Science & Technology

in the journal PLOS Computational Biology. “This experiment is a kind of reverse Turing test for random behaviour, a

People’s ability to make random choices peaks around age 25

test of strength between algorithms and humans,” said Hector Zenil from the Algorithmic Nature Group in France. “25 is, on average, the golden age when humans best outsmart computers,” added Nicolas Gauvrit from the Algorithmic Nature Group. Previous studies have shown that ageing diminishes a person’s ability to behave randomly. However, it had been unclear how this ability evolves over a person’s lifetime, nor had it been possible to assess the ways in which humans may behave randomly beyond simple statistical tests.



The Cassini researchers’ study indicates hydrogen gas – which could potentially provide a chemical energy source for life PRESS TRUST OF INDIA


ATURN’S icy moon Enceladus has a form of chemical energy that life can feed on, researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn have revealed. “Confirmation that the chemical energy for life exists within the ocean of a small moon of Saturn is an important milestone in our search for habitable worlds beyond Earth,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory ( JPL) in Pasadena, California. In a separate study, scientists also reported additional evidence of water vapour plumes erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa. Together, the findings suggest that these active ocean worlds in our solar system are worth more exploration in

Quick Glance Chemical energy for life exists within the ocean of a small moon Scientists also reported additional evidence of water vapour plumes This reaction, “methanogenesis,” is at the root of the Earth’s tree of life

our search for life beyond the Earth. The study from researchers with the Cassini mission, published in the journal Science, indicates hydrogen gas -- which could potentially provide a chemical energy source for life -- is pouring into the subsurface ocean of Enceladus from hydrothermal activity on the seafloor. The presence of ample hydrogen in the moon’s ocean means that microbes -- if any exist there -- could use it to obtain energy by combining the hydrogen with carbon dioxide dissolved in the water. This chemical reaction, known as “methanogenesis” because it produces methane as a byproduct, is at the root of the tree of life on the Earth, and could even have been critical to the origin of life on our planet.


SONY: CHEAPER HITECH HEADPHONES The headphones offer Near Field Communications (NFC) technology


N an effort to reach out to price-conscious youth, Sony India has expanded its “EXTRA BASS” series and launched three new headphones to give users an immersive music experience. The new models – wireless MDRXB950B1, wired MDR-XB550AP and MDR-XB510AS – are splash proof, inear sports headphones. The headphone are priced at Rs 12,990, Rs 3,290 and Rs 2,790, respectively and will be available, starting April 20, across all Sony centres and major electronic stores. “The MDR-XB950B1, a successor to MDR-XB950BT, is a premium wireless headphones made especially for EDM Music and serious music lovers delivering powerful, enhanced bass response while supporting Bluetooth audio streaming,” the company said. The headphones offer Near Field Communications (NFC) technology and also supports aptX and AAC codecs.


CHINA TO LAUNCH CARGO SPACECRAFT Tianzhou-1 is the first cargo spececraft developed by China PRESS TRUST OF INDIA


IANZHOU-1 is the first cargo ship independently developed by China. China is set to launch its first cargo spacecraft between April 20 and 24.The Tianzhou-1 was transferred with a Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket from the testing centre to the launch zone in Wenchang, Hainan province, the office of China’s manned space programme said. “The completion of the transfer signals the Tianzhou-1 mission has entered its launching stage,” the People’s Daily quoted the office’s statement as saying. Technicians have performed several tests during the assembling of the spacecraft and rocket since February. Tianzhou-1 is the first cargo ship independently developed by China, reports the People’s Daily.




A more capable iPad Air 2 as a substitute is there in Apple Stores


USTOMERS who need to replace their fourth generation iPad will now get a newer and more capable iPad Air 2 as a substitute from Apple Stores and authorised service providers, a media report said. Apple is doing this because the company has no stock left of the aging and now discontinued fourth generation iPad, 9to5Mac website reported. Apple h a s also asked its staff to inform customers of the replacement unit’s colour and capacity. The iPad Air 2 has a new gold colour option, and has 32GB and 128GB storage options while 16GB and 64GB models were discontinued.

24 Gender

APRIL 24-30, 2017



When the police super of a district has to turn to a ‘woman judge’ to settle a dowry case, that pretty much says how powerful a mandate women judges, across 42,00 villages in 11 states, have today. Quick Glance She heads a panel of 12 such judges who hold courts twice a month and solve cases An estimated 12 lakh cases are pending with the Allahabad High Court and its Lucknow bench Neebul reigns under an HRD programme that has created women judges across the country



N Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, under the shade of a mango tree, sitting over a sprawling cloth carpet, it is Court Number 1. Women sit around alongside the judge, Neebul Kali. The ‘court room’ is singularly natural. On a hot summer day in the dry, dusty Uttar Pradesh farmlands, there is nothing balmier than the cool shade of a mango tree, caressed by the wind. No lazy fans moaning overhead and spreading more heat. IT IS COURT NO. 1. There are no busybody dallas, the usual touts who get everything done, asking you to wait, with your palms open. There are no bumbling black trousers, self-striped black jackets, nor the white flip-tie of lawyers. Neither is Neebul wearing the ceremonious cloak of a judge. And yet, she will judge… and she has the mandate that the most powerful district bosses, the Magistrate and police super, have to honour. After all, Neebul Kali and her 11 sister-justices have ended the millennia of ‘men on top’ business in every sphere of life. And the 12 women judges are sitting on the top of social order: delivering justice.

Neebul Kali (extreme left) heads a panel of 12 judges

who hold courts twice a month and solve cases of rape, murder, dowry harassment, domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse NAARI ADALAT Neebul Kali (41) is an illiterate. But she heads a panel of women Judges. To the envy of many police officials and lawyers, she has sound knowledge of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Unlike the never-ending adjournments in the formal courts, she pronounces the judgment within half an hour of hearing the case. Though her verdict does not have any legal sanctity but they are strictly adhered to and followed by the villagers. She heads a panel of 12 such judges who hold courts twice a month and solve cases of rape, murder, dowry harassment, domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse against rural girls and women in Pisawa and other neighbouring blocks in Sitapur district. In Uttar Pradesh, where the judiciary is overburdened and reeling under pressure due to heavy pendency, these Women Courts (Naari Adalats) are not only empowering rural women

but getting them instant justice for which they would have to otherwise wait for decades. An estimated 12 lakh cases are pending with the Allahabad High Court and its Lucknow bench. The numbers are whopping, if taken into account pendency at lower and district courts. MAMMOTH ISSUE But how to ensure timely justice when the case and judge ratio is 1:1650 in the country and it will take 12 to 15 years to clear the staggering pendency backlog? “Even decentralisation of judiciary is no solution, going by the country’s size and population. The solution lies in making Panchayats and villagelevel adalats, such as Women’s Courts, more effective so that justice is never delayed and delivered on time,” says Justice (Retd) SK Varma, former Lokayukta. Neebul never went to school. Like

any other village women, she was married at an early age of 17 in Pisawa village to Sardaril Lal. From her childhood days, she witnessed how girls and women were ill-treated, sexually exploited and physically abused at home and outside. She carried that angst from an early age. The opportunity came about 14 years ago, when Mahila Samakhya ran a makeshift school in Pisawa block. “Since I was illiterate, I joined the classes and within six months I began to read and write,” claims Neebul. It was a time when Mahila Samakhya, a programme started in 1988 by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development for women’s empowerment, was planning to launch Naari Adalats to resolve cases of violence against women in rural areas. MANDATE: WOMEN Neebul was selected. She was given training in basic knowledge of IPC and how to deal with police to lodge an FIR. She was also trained to resolve women’s problems through mediation. Soon, others joined in, and within two years of rigorous training, a team of 12 judges were ready to function as Naari Adalat in Pisawa block. There are no courtrooms. The judges just spread a few cotton and plastic seats in an open area to hold Nari Adalats on 14 and 28 of every month. In emergency situations, cases which require urgent hearing, they don’t mind holding the Women Court even at nights to help the victim. Most of these economically and socially backward judges are either mid-day meal cooks in government schools, daily-wage labours, working in fields and doing petty jobs. But after knowing their rights as a citizen

APRIL 24-30, 2017

Police super of Sitapur

says these ladies act as a bridge, and their best source if they have to get to the bottom of a critical case of this country, they wield enormous power. The government agencies, and even sometimes local courts too, extend them tacit support for carrying on the good work at the village level. A majority of them are just class fifth or sixth dropouts and learnt how to read and write during Mahila Samkhya training sessions. But even the DMs and SSPs recognise their power when Neebul’s team of judges, including Vimla, Sushma, Munni, Roopa, Guddi and others, reach the police stations or DM’s office to get justice to a victim. Recently, Neebul shares, that a young girl, Usha in Parsendi village under Taalgaon police station, was murdered by her husband and the police refused to lodge an FIR. The victim’s brother made several rounds to the DM and SSP offices, but nothing worked. He then came to Neebul. MASSIVE “We held a massive demonstration on March 15, 2017, forcing the police to register FIR and arrest the husband,” claims Neebul. “When we have so many women and people with us, we don’t fear anything or anyone,” asserts Munni, another judge. “Recently, we forced the police to register an FIR under POSCO and Section 376 of the IPC (rape) against a man who raped his own 12-year-old daughter and forced the police to arrest him,” claims Munni. Sushma (42) is good in drafting complaints. Only a Class VI passout, she is a judge in Naari Adalat for the last three years. She excels in IPC and will quickly cite the sections under which dowry and sexual harassment or rape cases are tried. Judges of Naari Adalats undergo specially designed training and refresher courses every six months to update their knowledge about changing laws and sharpen their communication skills. “The only way to bring in social reforms in villages is by empowering women in rural areas. We have trained these women in such a way that they know their rights under the Constitution and help others to bring

justice through Naari Adalats by demonstrating Naari Shakti,” claims Anprash Mishra, the District Coordinator. LAW AIDS Many a time, even the police seek help from Naari Adalats in settling cases of dowry, sexual harassment and domestic violence. “They act as a bridge, and our best sources to get to the bottom of any case relating to girls and women,” admits SSP Sitapur, Saumitra Yadav The Naari Adalat was first introduced in 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujarat as a pilot project. It is now functioning in 126 districts of 11 states across the country, covering about 42,000 villages. “A small initiative, Naari Adalat, has now become a powerful and most potent weapon for girls and women in villages to raise their voices against atrocities committed against them. A little support from the government to empower these women further would completely transform the rural set-up where women are still treated shabbily,” claims Dr Smriti Singh, Director, Mahila Samakhya. PROUD CHILDREN Neebul Kali has seven children, five daughters and three sons, and has to support a family of nine. Her husband Sardari Lal is a landless farmer, while she gets only Rs 1,000 a month working as mid-day meal cook. But she is proud that she sends all her daughters and sons to school. Her eldest daughter Laxmi Devi (22) is in BA final year. “I am proud of Maa and her colleagues. They are tirelessly managing their own families as well as helping hapless girls and women who are victims of the maledominated world,” says Usha, her daughter. Name an award and Neebul Kali has got it. Recently, she was felicitated with Rani Laxmi Bai Award. “I will train my daughters also to help half of the population get their rights. They will be doing this job better than me since I got them education,” she says proudly.




JAITLEY ON GENDER PARITY Recent developments in a gender-biased society are welcome signs, he says



HE Union Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the country’s current willingness to embrace reforms and change mindsets offers an opportunity to correct the picture in the coming years. “In a society which conventionally was loaded against gender parity and equality, there has been a conscious attempt to cover up the lags which we must honestly confess still exist,” Jaitley said, after unveiling a Gender Parity Index formulated by the FICCI Ladies’ Organisation to assess where organisations stand in terms of creating gender-neutral opportunities at the workplace. “When you speak in

terms of gender parity… conceptually, we provided for parity in the Constitution. We also provided for some affirmative action in order to improve upon an endeavour to reach that level of equality. But there were always challenges,” he pointed out.



This amazing lady from Uttara Kannada dug a 60-feet well all on her own to save the plants and trees in her land in the village

Quick Glance Gouri is a daily wager with a lot of plants on her land She always complained of aches in her body, but no one knew why She got that because of digging a well for her plants



HEN Gouri S Naik, who is a member of the Dharmastala Rural Development Scheme, came to a meeting complaining about aches in her body, the other members and officers wondered about what she was up to that she was tired all the time. So they decided to go to her home and see if she was fine. That’s when they discovered, that in order to ensure a steady supply of water for herself and her plants, she spends hours every day building a well. Gouri, 51, from Ganesh Nagar, Sirsi in Uttara Kannada (a district in Karnataka), is a daily-wage labourer, who also happens to have grown 150 areca, 15 coconut and some banana trees near her house. Since

she couldn’t afford to commission a well in order to tend to these plants and trees under her care, she decided to literally take matters into her own hands. Thus, for a span of three months, she spent five to six hours digging in order to build a well herself. She did this in addition to her duties as a labourer. At the very end, she solicited the help of three other women to help her clear the dirt from the 60-foot deep well she had managed to dig herself. Due to her efforts, today, she has her own well that has seven feet of water in it and she no longer has to worry about watering her plants. She has also earned the respect of those around her, who have taken to calling her ‘Lady Bhagiratha’. Hindu mythology has it that Bhagiratha was a king who brought the river Ganges to Earth from the heavens. Vinoda, a scheme officer from the Dharmastala Rural Development Scheme, says: “When Gouri came to the meeting, she would complain about body aches. But we did not know about her work in digging a well. It was only when we visited her home that we found out what she was doing.”

26 Environment

APRIL 24-30, 2017


WORLD’S LARGEST HEARTBREAK IN ANTARCTICA? History has never seen this: Antarctica’s fourth largest ice shelf could break away any time in the future and cause unthinkable disaster



HE rift has accelerated since end of the last year”, reported all the major news agencies in North America and elsewhere. “It may get close to a full break, never seen before in the history,” they added. This “breaking news” is about Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf, Larsen C, measuring 48,600 sq km, five times the area of Israel, irreversibly breaking away, several kilometres at a

time, from its mother continent due to exceptionally high temperatures. NASA and British Antarctic Sur vey scientists have in the last three decades observed a dramatic collapsing of smaller parts, Larsen A and B, as noted by the Nobel Prize-winning Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Larsen C, which is the largest of the three, is now clinging by the umbilical cord of about 25 km before finally breaking away. The ABC drama is captivating, because these would constitute some of the world’s biggest icebergs ever to break off from an Antarctic ice shelf. What is more, it is taking place early in 2017, when the ABC of the “disruptive” policies of US President Donald Trump on climate change have also started unfolding. The year gone by has decidedly

Smaller ice shelves like Larsen A and B have broken out earlier but were not disastrous Larsen C ice shelf is 48,600 square kilometre, or more than double the size of Meghalaya The vicious feedback loop could trigger record-breaking runaway warming never seen in history

In 2016 alone there have been poaching of 50 tigers and 27 leopards, the highest ever

of the tribals and forest dwellers as ensured by the Wildlife Protection Act. “In the absence of guidelines for notification of Critical Wildlife Habitats, no rights shall be conferred in Critical Tiger Habitats which is duly notified under Section 38 V(4)(i) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 under the Act cited under subject,” says the NTCA

No rights shall be conferred in Critical Tiger Habitats which is duly notified under Section 38



The NGT has also ordered the contractor working on behalf of hydro-power company to pay a sum of Rs 20 lakh

letter dated March 28. The step is aimed at better conservation of the tigers in India home to over 2,500 or about 70 per cent of the world’s tiger. In 2016, at least 50 tigers and 127 leopards are said to have been poached -- highest in the last 10 years. Based on scientific studies, the Section 38 V(4)(i) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 says that the core or critical tiger habitat areas of national parks and sanctuaries shall be kept as “inviolate” for tiger conservation. However, this section also lays down that this should be done “without affecting the rights” of the Scheduled Tribes or such other forest dwellers.

The step is aimed at better conservation of the tigers in India home to over 2,500 tigers

OREST dwellers and tribals living in critical tiger habitats or the core areas of tiger reserves may soon have to move out after losing their right to continue living there.A letter from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has asked for references from the field directors of all the 50 tiger reserves, looking ahead to abolish rights


HE National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slapped a fine of Rs 50 lakh on Tehri Hydro Development Corporation for dumping construction debris in river Alaknanda in Uttarakhand. The order issued on Thursday also says that the construction company will remove the debris dumped in the river and to restore it to its original state, else face a further fine. The debris was from the construction of VishnugadPeepalkoti hydro-electric project (HEP) on the river in the state’s Chamoli district. The NGT has also ordered the contractor working on the behalf of hydro-power company to pay a sum of Rs 20 lakh.


Tribals will be forced to leave their age old homes in the forests to conserve tigers


broken the temperature record as the warmest year since modern observations began in 1880. This year is already turning to be the second-warmest in recorded history, according to data released recently by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NASA, indeed, said in a statement that January 2017 was the third-warmest January in nearly 140 years of record-keeping. The National Snow and Ice Data Centre at Boulder, Colorado, has recorded that the cover of Arctic ice, which expands and contracts in an annual cycle during winter and summer, probably reached its maximum size this year on March 7, when it spanned 14.42 million square kilometres, breaking the record as the smallest winter maximum extent ever observed in records dating to 1979. While melting of the floating icebergs does not cause the sea level to rise, melting of the large volume icebergs makes the way to glaciers from the land mass of the Arctic and Antarctic to pour into the oceans, resulting in the sea level rising. What is more frightening is that loss of ice would cause more global warming because the heat from the Sun would get absorbed and not get reflected back due to loss of white cover of ice. The vicious feedback loop could trigger record-breaking runaway warming never seen in human history.


Quick Glance


Quick Glance



APRIL 24-30, 2017





Loktak Lake is a huge, sprawling, picturesque and rare water body near Dimapur in Manipur that is threatened today despite being a heritage of sorts ARUN TIWARI

Quick Glance


OKTAK LAKE is the largest freshwater lake of the country. It is also known as lifeline of Manipur. It is 53 kilometres away from capital city of Imphal. Dimapur railway station is only nearby. Swelled by an average annual rainfall of 1,183 millimeter, a tropical monsoon climate sweeps the valley and the lake alike. The rare lake nestles amid Pabot, Toya and Chingjao mountains. Their peaks always overlook it and send water to its belly during rains. The lake is famous for its large phumdis or islands floating over its waters. These are numerous large masses of vegetation laden earth that float over the lake forming virtual islands. Significantly, 20 per cent of the layers of these islands are swamped under water. The rest or 80 per cent is visible and float onto the surface of water.These layers are so resilient that they easily bear the weight of myriad flora and fauna that are strewn all over. The largest single mass of phumdi is in the southeastern part of the lake covering an area of 40 square kilometres. This mass constitutes world’s largest floating park and the Central government has christened it as Keibul Lamjao National Park. This park has been given status of Ramsar site, or a rare wetland site under a convention held at Ramsar, as it is the only floating park of its kind in the world. The reserve area of the park which was 4,000 hectare was reduced to 2,160 in April 1988, courtesy encroachment by local villagers. While the area on the periphery of the park is privately owned, the park itself is predominantly State owned and the remaining areas are divided between tribal groups. Thang, Brel, and Maril tribes also claim ownership rights. As per the information coming down for quite some time the park was once

Loktak Lake has the rare distinction of having several floating islands The largest of these islands has been turned into a National Park A school too has come up on the floating park

Bernard Morin

This park has been given status of Ramsar site, or a

rare wetland site under a convention held at Ramsar, as it is the only floating park of its kind in the world founded by Mann Sharma. The park is home to brow-Antlered deer or Sangai deer in local parlance. This is a rare species and as per estimates made in 2014 as many as 216 deer inhabit the park. Sangai deer are also known as dancing deer because of its unique gait. Loktak Lake is rich in biodiversity, the water plants are 233 and more than 100 species of birds are to be found. Besides, 425 species of animals including Indian python, Sambhar and rare species have made the island their habitat. In order to retain these rare species several initiatives have been taken on government and nongovernment level. Sangai Deer have got the status of State animal of Manipur. According to wildlife survey, in the year 1975 their numbers were just 14. However, in 1995, this grew to 155 and last year or 2016 the estimate puts it at 216 Sangai

deer. Temperatures vary from 35 degree in summers to 1.7 degree centigrade in winter. The humidity rate is in August maximum 81 and in March minimum 49 per cent. This also helps in increasing the numbers of Sangai deer but many man-made situations are proving to be dangerous for the park. New differentiations between Lake and Park may pose a threat to both. This is more so since a barrage has been put between lake and park. Under a multidimensional plan in the year 1983, a barrage was constructed. Due to this the water level of the lake increased from 768 to 768.5 metre. As a result of it the ecological balance of swamped bottom of the park and its damp to got vitiated and there have been floods in the park. Obtrusively, one-third part of the park has sunk in water ever since the barrage was put. The threat to the park is as grave as its permanent

flooding. Such can be the impact of the lthai barrage that came up under Loktak Multipurpose project way back in 1983. Before the construction of Loktak Hydroelectric project the phumdis floated even during flooding by the backflow from Khordak River. The excess water was discharged from other streams or drains called nallahs. This resulted in enhancing of nutrients for phumdi vegetation from the bottom of the lake. The quality of Loktak’s water has become deplorable and the recorded pH value is 4 to 8.5. The reason for this is attributed to flow of pollutants from the towns into the lake, use of agrochemicals for farming in the surrounding farmland, and accumulation of water on topsoil of phumdi, besides deforestation and subsequent soil erosion in the catchment area and rotting vegetation. FLOATING SCHOOL On 13 February 2017, in Loktak Lake of Manipur, an elementary school was opened on an island. It is India’s first floating school. The name of the school is Loktak Elementary Floating School. The aim is to provide education to dropouts and those who became homeless during evacuation of phumdis or floating swamps. The school was started with the help of Fishermen Union and People’s Resource Development Association (PRDA), a non-government organisation. Prior to this under Loktak Lake (Protection) Act, 2006, 700 huts were removed from this place.

28 Blind Maths

APRIL 24-30, 2017


VISUALLY IMPAIRED BETTER AT MATHS Researchers have been puzzling on why is it that blind persons seem to be better at maths than sighted ones, as Bernard Morin and others show SSB BUREAU


ERNARD Morin developed glaucoma at an early age and was blind by the time he was six years old. Despite his inability to see, Morin went on to become a master topologist—a mathematician who studies the intrinsic properties of geometric forms in space—and earned renown for his visualisation of an inside-out sphere. For sighted people, it can be difficult to imagine learning maths, let alone mastering it, without vision (or even with it). In grade schools, mathematics instruction tends to rely heavily on visual aids—our fingers, pieces of pie, and equations scribbled on paper. Psychology and neuroscience support the notion that maths and sight are tightly intertwined. Studies show that mathematical abilities in children are highly correlated with their visuospatial capacities—measured by proficiency in copying simple designs, solving picture puzzles, and other tasks—and that brain areas involved in visual processes are also activated during mental mathematics. Researchers have even proposed a “visual sense of number,” the idea that the visual system in our brain is capable of numerical estimation. RICH COMPANY And yet, Bernard Morin has plenty of company— some of our g r e a t e s t mat h emat i c i ans were blind. For example, Leonhard Euler, one of the most prolific mathematicians in

history, was blind during the last 17 years of his life, and produced nearly half of his work during this time. English mathematician Nicholas Saunderson went blind not long after he was born, but managed to become the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, a position earlier held by Newton and now occupied by theoretical astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. Is there something that allows the blind to excel? The leading theory is that because they cannot rely on visual cues or written materials to remember things, they develop stronger working memory than the sighted, which is critical to doing well at maths. Another potential explanation is that because blind children spend a lot of time touching and manipulating objects, they learn to interpret numerical information with multiple senses, giving them an advantage. HOW COME According to Scientific American a number of studies suggest that perhaps both conditions are at play. In the early 2000s, Julie Castronovo, along with a group of psychologists at the Université Catholique de Louvain, in Belgium, conducted some of the first investigations to test the basic numerical abilities of the blind. To their surprise, they found that not only were these individuals unimpaired, the average blind subject possessed even sharper skills than the average test subject who could see.“People who have lost

Studies suggest sighted individuals and people who were born blind perform equally well in simple math problems

Bernard Morin

vision from a very early age have developed some compensatory mechanism,” says Castronovo, who is now studying mathematical cognition at the University of Hull, in England. That compensatory mechanism seems to do a better job at aiding them in certain kinds of maths than vision does—an astonishing finding, she says. Scientists are still puzzling out what that compensatory mechanism is and how it works. Earlier this year, Olivier Collignon, a psychologist who studies blind cognition at the Université Catholique de Louvain and the University of Trento, in Italy, and his colleagues, published findings that suggest sighted individuals and people who were born blind or became blind early in life perform equally well on simple maths problems. There was one key difference—the blind participants actually outperformed their sighted counterparts on more difficult maths problems, like addition and subtraction that require carrying over a number (like 45 + 8 or 85 –9); these are considered more difficult than those that don’t (like 12 + 31 or 45 + 14). According to Collignon, the more a task relies on the ability to manipulate

Quick Glance Blind persons seem to be better at maths, as researchers are seeing around the world Visual deficiency seems to trigger in them a different mechanism to tackle numbers But scientists working on the issue have not yet figured out what that compensatory mechanism is

numbers in the abstract, like carrying over a number, the more blind individuals’ compensatory mechanisms are engaged. Collignon and his colleagues had previously found that blind and sighted people experience numbers in completely different ways, in a physical sense. In a 2013 study, the researchers created a clever manipulation of a task typically used to test a perceptual bias called Spatial Numerical Association of Response Codes, or SNARC. The standard SNARC test comprises two tasks. In the first, participants are instructed to hit a button placed near their left hands when they hear a number smaller than five and to hit a button placed near their right hands when they hear a number bigger than

APRIL 24-30, 2017 five; in the second, these instructions are reversed (the left hand hits the button after hearing the larger number). This test usually shows that both blind and sighted research subjects react more quickly to small numbers with their left hands than their right, and more quickly to large numbers with their right hands than their left. But in Collignon’s modified SNARC test, the subjects were asked to cross their hands (the left hand to be used with the right-side button and vice versa). For sighted participants, small numbers now elicited a quicker response from the right hand, since it was in front of the left button. But blind participants’ quick responses switched sides. This revealed that instead of mapping numbers onto visual space, like sighted people, the blind were mapping them onto their bodies. Castronovo believes that teaching methods that require more physical interaction with objects could help sighted children learn math better. She’s currently investigating whether certain hands-on tools such as the Numicon, on which differently coloured and differently shaped holes correspond to different numbers, will help all children develop better mathematical skills. BLIND CLASSES Meanwhile, Collignon and his colleague Virginie Crollen, at the Université Catholique de Louvain, have been visiting classrooms of blind children around Belgium to see whether there is some common way they learn that differs from that of sighted children. According to Collignon, the abacus, which many blind children still use to learn maths, may enhance their numerical abilities. In parts of China and Japan where schools still use abacuses, sighted children are capable of doing especially impressive mental mathematics. Collignon and his colleagues go so far as to suggest that vision may actually hinder the sighted from reaching full mathematical potential. This is thought to be particularly true in the realm of geometry. Sighted people sometimes misapprehend three-dimensional space because the retina projects it onto just two dimensions. Many optical illusions arise out of these misapprehensions. The blind person, by comparison, has a relatively unspoiled intuition of threedimensional space. “We teach numbers in a visual fashion because we are visual mammals,” says Collignon. “But may be it creates a framework that’s limiting our capabilities—may be being blind… removes some of the constraints in the way you think about numbers.”





Thane near Mumbai has seen huge rise in its population. Thus, public facilities are falling short. This has made municipal corporation to opt for mobile toilets

Quick Glance



The municipal corporation of Maharashtra’s Thane town near Mumbai has decided to go for mobile toilets to overcome severe lack of public toilets. The population of the city has been multiplying and now touches about 1.8 million. This has caused severe pressure on public facilities. Thus, the corporation will be buying as many as 14 mobile public toilets through the current fiscal year. A sum of Rs 1.25 crore has been set aside for this by the corporation. Once Thane used to be a prime city of the State and was known for its impeccably clean environs. It has been strewn with beautiful lakes by virtue of having as many as 30 of them. It reminds of Udaipur, the famed city of lakes in Rajasthan. Thane in the past has been given the honour of being best city of the State. It has also been marked for being upgraded into a smart city under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s programme of improving cities by providing better infrastructure and public facilities. Yet, as the population of the city, that also serves as a suburb of a metropolis

As the author dug deeper into Shreedharan’s ife, he realised there were many unknown facts The book is based mostly on personal interactions between the author and Shreedharan in Kerala Though glorified to no end, the author said that he had some vociferous critics too

like Mumbai, has been growing at a fast pace and thus of late the public amenities have been falling short throughout the city. Despite its wide boulevards like refreshing lakes, the city has fallen short of public toilets, leaving people with little options than to look for secluded spaces to relieve themselves. And often they do not find them and have to squat at the call of nature on even roadside and sidewalks. This is more so when people are away from their homes, or on the move, or come to attend public functions, or take part in social gatherings, point out corporation officials. This spoils not only city’s otherwise excellent ambiance but also its image, they add.

Thus, the corporation has decided to take immediate steps to stem out what could well become a habit besides sullying the name and reputation of Thane. Mobile toilets have the advantage of moving from one place to the other, depending upon their need. Officials say they can easily be stationed near points of sizeable gathering of people. This would greatly reduce the menace, they hope. Thus, the corporation has decided to buy over a dozen vehicles which will be fitted with multiple toilets. This is expected to greatly reduce the problem that the town has been facing to the detriment of health and hygiene of its nearly two-million-strong citizenry among other things.


MUMBAIKARS: NO PLASTICS PLEASE The citizens of the financial capital are no longer depending on the government but have become proactive to tackle the plastics menace



S the monsoon arrives the Municipal Corporation and Mumbaikars get apprehensive when it comes to cleaning of plastic waste. In case of accumulation of plastic waste Mumbai seems to be in deplorable plight. The drains of the city

that are connected to rivers are mostly jammed. Consequently, it becomes difficult to drain out the rainwater. Besides, the high tide in the river makes the water flow back to the city that ultimately takes the form of a deluge. For many years, Mumbai is facing this double whammy. This time, people are not looking to the government and municipal corporations but they themselves have decided to eradicate this menace. In several regions, including Khar and Mahim, residents with the help of NGOs are now determined to spread the message to keep the surroundings free of plastic waste. Stree Mukti Sangathan has pleaded with women to use cloth bags instead of plastic bags to carry goods from the market. Obtrusively, there is

seven per cent plastic in the entire waste of Mumbai that comes from vegetable shops, shopkeepers dumping bags, sanitary napkins, diapers and plastic bags. Afroz Shah, who is running a cleanliness campaign in Versova, says in this context that a complete ban on plastics is not possible, but it could be prevented from being thrown in the open and it be could be recycled too. Versova water is clean today because it has been freed from plastic waste. Plastic is extracted from the waste and sent for recycling. It is also collected from dumping grounds of Mumbai. However, Jyoti Mahapsekar believes that complete plastic ban is the only way out to make the city free from the deleterious effects of plastic waste.

30 Northeast

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TRIPURA: ‘BED OF ROSES’ The state has taken to floriculture in a big way, away from the less paying horticulture, and is showing the path in the northeast to other states as well

Quick Glance Laxmibil village in West Tripura has become a hub of growing flowers for export Farmers are earning Rs 70,000 a year after an investment of Rs 20,000 from floriculture The state APEDA has been promoting this and has earmarked Rs 7.65 crore for this

Bernard Morin



UCKED away in a remote corner of Tripura, Laxmibil has set a unique example of poverty alleviation by charting a different route through cultivation of flowers. Called the Village of Flowers, Laxmibil is a sparsely-populated village in West Tripura district. It’s a success story that began to be scripted six years ago when the scheme was launched by the Horticulture Department and Technology Mission. Now the village not only supplies flowers to the home market, but also exports them abroad. According to media reports, a farmer named Swapan Paul was among the first to begin cultivating flowers, and his success motivated others to follow the same path. It is estimated that there are now more than 250 farmers in the settlement who have taken to floriculture on a large scale. Laxmibil cultivates different kinds of flowers, and is also experimenting with exotic varieties like Anthodium and orchids to earn good money. The flowers are also sent to far-off markets like New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. Endowed with abundant moisture, a sub-tropical climate and fertile soil, Tripura has immense scope for production of a wide variety of flowers. The border state had already made a mark in the

NRCO has identified Cymbidium of Sikkim, Anthurium of Mizoram, Roses of Meghalaya, Gladiolus and Crysanthemum of Tripura as the thrust flowers

production of sweet pineapple and rubber. FLORID TECH But the driving force behind floriculture is attributed to the growing demand of flowers around the globe, which in turn has inspired these villagers to shift to floriculture from agriculture. They have adapted the latest techniques in cultivation that have been made available to them by the state government under the Technology Mission. The department has not only provided farmers with free technical training in flower cultivation but also supplied them with seeds, fertilisers and other necessary material. The government has facilitated greenhouses and the village has as of now 150 greenhouses, and many more are being made for the future. Many farmers are of the opinion that floriculture has been more profitable than either growing vegetables or animal rearing. Some among them began with cultivation of marigold, needed universally in Hindu households for rituals, but have now diversified to other varieties like tuberose, gladiolus, gerbera, anthodium,

dahlia, aster and many other flowers. Orchids have a huge demand in Bangladesh and southeast Asian countries. They fetch handsome margins when sold to hotels in up-market tourist destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, to name just a few. The harvested flowers are distributed in different markets by a large network of traders consisting of 400-500 people. The flowers are sold at high rates in markets across the country which goes higher when exported outside. During the festive and marriage seasons, the prices shoot up further. GARLANDS OF RETURNS Farmers in Laxmibil have been organised into different self-help groups (SHGs) for availing the government benefits for floriculture. It is estimated that a farmer fetches a return of about Rs 70,000 a year after an investment of Rs 20,000 for growing flowers in a plot of land. The annual turnover of the settlement is about Rs 2 crore. Laxmibil bears ample testimony of the commitment and resolve by the

border state to put itself on the fast track of development and progress after being ravaged by insurgency for almost two decades. Needless to mention that Tripura has made rapid advancement in other areas as well, including literacy and taking governance to the grassroots. Among all the Northeastern states, Tripura has also demonstrated the best performance utilizing funds allocated by the different central ministries for development schemes. Besides Laxmibil, there are other districts in other states of the region that have been earmarked as future hubs of flower cultivation. A couple of years ago, the Arunachal Pradesh government had identified Dirang in West Kameng district for floriculture. The National Research Centre for Orchid (NRCO) has identified the Northeast as a potential area for development of floriculture in view of the geo-climatic condition. It has selected Cymbidium orchid of Sikkim, Anthurium of Mizoram and Nagaland, Roses of Meghalaya, Gladiolus, Marigold and Crysanthemum of Tripura as the thrust flowers. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has also sanctioned Rs 7.65 crore exclusively for floriculture in the Northeast and has asked the state governments to chalk out master plans. The fund would be utilised for providing support to young entrepreneurs engaged in floriculture and export oriented horticultural products, The success of Laxmibil has encouraged the government to organise flower shows to attract more villages for the scheme. Demand for flowers, both conventional and ornamental has gone up, especially from institutional buyers like hotels, corporate houses and also owing to a change in the lifestyle of the local people. After liberalisation, the government has identified floriculture as a sunrise industry and has accorded it export oriented status.

APRIL 24-30, 2017

Ground Report




Though at a point torrential rains lashed the hills, stalling the trekkers, they stayed overnight a shop and visited the Shiva statue next morning ROBIN KESHAW


HE bus is bustling with school children, most of them girls. As it stops at Nohradhar, all of them get down, and excitedly walk towards their school. They travel more than an hour everyday, 30 minutes on foot and then 30 minutes ride in the dilapidated Himachal road transport bus. My morning has already been made, seeing these bright faces and their daily struggle to get a decent education. As of now, the rest of the day, was going to be a challenge for me. We had reached Solan early in the morning and took the bus to reach Nohradhar, the place from where the trek to Churdhar starts. Churdhar peak lies in the Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh and stands highest in the outer Himalayas at a height of 12,000 feet above sea level. Like other places in Himachal, the mythological musings in Sirmaur are aplenty. Churdhar is known to be the peak, where Lord Hanuman found Sanjivani Booti, the live-restoring herb, which brought Lord Lakshman back to life during the battle for Lanka. Churdhar is derived from Churi Chandni ki Dhar, which translates to ‘bangles in the moonlight’. On full moon night, the peak shines like a bangle, justifying its name. On the top of Churdhar peak stands a Lord Shiva statue, which is thronged by devotees throughout the year. Not only locals; the place is revered by people as far as in Haryana. The trek from Nohradhar to the Shiva statue is 15 km and passes through terraced fields, grassy meadows and dense deodar forests. It takes around five to six hours for onward journey. The trail is pretty clear, as it is frequented by the people throughout the year, except in the snowy winters. There are small shacks serving tea and Maggi on the way. TRIPPY TRAILS At Nohradhar, we freshened up at a hotel, filled our bellies and fastened our backpacks to start the trek. After negotiating with few rock boulders, we hit the trail which would navigate its way through the slope for around 5-6 km. We stopped at Jamnala, which is the last village on the way to Churdhar. As we were sipping our cup of tea, Lord Indra decided to play the spoilsport and it started raining incessantly. It didn’t stop for another

hour or so, and we decided to stay put at the tea shack. But we couldn’t have prolonged the stay, as we needed to get to the peak before it got dark, lest we would be deserted in the forest. The ponchos came out, which were enough just to prevent our backpacks from getting wet. We sped up and reached the open grasslands very soon. The real climb started after the meadows merged into the Deodar trees. The trail started becoming steeper and the wet stones were not making our task any easier. By this time, water has seeped inside our backpacks, making them heavier to carry. Some of the locals weren’t carrying any baggage and they zoomed past us, literally running on those steep slopes. We stopped at a shack, which was the last one before the peak and was at a distance of 4 km from the peak. The rain had stopped, yet we were shivering in the cold. We hadBernard platefulsMorin of hot and delicious Maggi there, which acted as a lifesaver. The clouds and the sun started playing hide and seek. In the bright orangehued canvas of nature, the fresh rhododendrons appeared like multiple, small balls of fire. The guys at the last shack had warned us that it will be quite dangerous to walk in the dark, as bears and leopards are quite common in this region. The Churdhar

region is a designated protected area, Churdhar Wildlife Sanctuary. HILL HOSPITALITY As we paced ourselves up, the sun also decided to show its might. It was another two km from the peak, when it got pitch dark. Luckily, for us we could see tiny lights flickering at a distance, which meant that we wouldn’t lose the track, whatever time it takes to reach there. Another hour of effort through the patchy tracks, with the help of our torch lights, and we were able to reach the peak by 7:30 pm. As Churdhar is regularly visited by devotees, the temple trust has built a dharmshala guest house for pilgrims) right at the top of the peak. Unfortunately, the rooms were full due to the surge of pilgrims. Our backpacks were completely wet, and we

Since Churdhar has pilgrims almost throughout the

year, the temple authorities have built a dharamshala, but it was packed with people

Quick Glance Churdhar peak in Sirmaur district of Himachal stands highest in outer Himalayas at 12,000 feet It has a mammoth statue of Lord Shiva in the peak, visited by pilgrims from all over The langar at the dharamshala and the munificence of a local shop keeper saved them

couldn’t have slept out in the open. There were a couple of shops, which housed some provisions for the devotees. We begged one of the shop owners, to provide a roof over our heads for just one night and he promptly agreed. He said that he wouldn’t charge a single buck, if we keep his shop clean. That was a deal we couldn’t have refused. He informed us that the temple trust also provides free langar (temple food) in the night. That was the icing on the cake. After having a hearty dinner at the dharmshala, we snuggled into the blankets for a badly needed night of sleep. We woke up early in the morning to catch a glimpse of Kedarnath and Badrinath peaks. We took a short hike to the place where the mighty Shiva statue stands tall, overlooking the valley. Unfortunately, due to rough skies, the peaks were not visible. We had to settle with a majestic view of the Sutlej River gurgling away at a distance. The return trek wasn’t difficult at all, the slippery rocks just added a bit of adventure. On our way back, we were lucky to catch a glimpse of Monal, the erstwhile and present state bird of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand respectively. In its colourful, bubbly avatar, the bird seemed to be gleeful due to the clear skies. We reached Nohradhar by noon and soon got a ride back to Solan. The evening was spent on the streets of Solan, before we caught our bus back to Delhi.

32 Unsung Heroes

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He was once a poor man, but now that he has come into some wealth, Parimal Dhar played Good Samaritan and beautified a putrid pond


HEY say that giving back to the society is something every man must do. Following that adage, Parimal Dhar, a resident of Vidyasagar Colony in Jadavpur on the southern fringe of Calcutta has made his contribution to Mother Nature. How? He has cleaned up the pond near his locality all by himself! Jadavpur is originally a refugee settlement

colony that got populated after the 1947 exodus of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. There are several colonies, or neighbourhoods, which have been reclaimed after filling up ponds, which are found in plenty all over the sprawling area. This has caused a drainage problem too, as water movement has become restricted. Besides, these ponds, being

stagnant and almost always either filled with hyacinth or used as waste dumps, have become the breeding ground of Jadavpur’s notorious mosquito problem. The pond in Dhar’s locality measuring one bigha (approximately 5/8th of an acre) existed since the pre-independence era. As usual, it had turned into a mere dumping ground, thereby polluting the environment. Often carcasses of animals could also be found floating in the pond. With time, the pond turned into the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, as mentioned earlier. Malaria and dengue have become major issues in the entire Jadavpur area. Irked by the indifference of people, Dhar took it upon himself to clean the

pond and beautify it. With the help of local corporator Debasis Mukhopadhya, Dhar successfully cleaned 50 dumpers of garbage from the pond. He also ensured that boundaries, made of bamboo sticks, were also erected, along with painting of the walls along the pond with flags of different countries. He also installed lights along the walking path that many today take for enjoying a peaceful time by the pond. However, all the expenses of the beautification project were borne by Dhar alone. When asked why he did that, Dhar said, “I suffered a lot as a poor man once. Today, I am well established, and hence my small contribution towards saving the environment.”



He has developed a tool that makes the functioning of the UN much more transparent, including voting by members

HILE most people know about the United Nations, not many are aware of the intricacies behind how the body and its member states function. An Indian engineer has developed an open-source tool that helps users get a better comprehension of UN resolutions and gain better insight on how member states vote. Abdulqadir Rashik’s innovation has won a global contest called ‘Unite Ideas UNGAViz Textual Analysis and Visualisation Challenge’. The contest is a joint collaboration of the UN Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) and the US Department of State. Abdulqadir, who is also an entrepreneur, has named his tool Global Policy. The interactive tool makes it easier for people to search for and understand UN resolutions and also

simplifies the voting patterns of member states. Andrew Hyde, a State Department official has been quoted by the Times of India as saying, “In support of transparency and accountability, we believe that everybody, from the general public to policymakers to diplomats, should have easy and timely access to this vast body of knowledge.” Competitions like these, that promote people to come up with ideas to make the body more transparent are imperative. For having won this prestigious contest, a prototype of Abdulqadir’s tool will be shared with various sections within the UN as well as member states. The UNGAViz is the sixth challenge that has been organised by Unite Ideas. Academicians, members of the general public and private companies have answered the challenge with at least 50 open source tool.



KIDS’ SAVIOUR She patrols Mumbai’s busiest railway station and yet, lost children never escape her motherly eyes


OUR-HUNDRED and thirty four children and counting that’s the number of kids RPF officer, Rekha Mishra saved over a span of one year. Out of 1,150 children that the Railway Police saved, Mishra’s contribution came as a monumental achievement. Posted at the CST, Mumbai, Mishra believes that it has

something to do with the station that she was able to rescue so many children. “Those who are lost, or don’t know their way around, or are troubled, they all get down at the last stop,” reports Mumbai Mirror. Mishra, who hails from Ahmedabad, says that her basic teachings have been to always look out for kids and the elderly. Mishra comes to duty early in the mornings and covers up to 12 hours a shift. Whenever she is on the job, she looks for children “who are vulnerable, and looking for people to assist them”. While following up on leads from other RPF officers stationed across the country works wonders, Mishra says that equally important is to show sensitivity towards the kids because they learn to trust her. Mishra says that these children are not criminals, rather they are victims who need someone to protect them. She is the one who gives them that protection and makes them feel safe. An athlete who participates in state level events for the RPF, Mishra has also worked on other cases where she has busted ticket scams. Her bosses think she is the best they have and would soon recommend her name for awards to the head office.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Licensing) Delhi No. F. 2 (S-45) Press/ 2016 VOLUME - 1, ISSUE - 19 Printed by Monika Jain, Published by Monika Jain on behalf of SULABH SANITATION MISSION FOUNDATION and Printed at The Indian Express Ltd., A-8, Sector-7, NOIDA (U.P.) and Published from RZ 83, Mahavir Enclave, Palam-Dabri Road, New Delhi – 110 045. Editor Monika Jain