Murshidabad, Jan 20, 2017: Handloom weaves have breathed a new lease of life in vulnerable women in West Bengal’s Murshidabad who would otherwise be at the risk of being trafficked thanks to a livelihood-creation project taken up by Harvard University’s South Asia Initiative (SAI) in collaboration with Tata Trusts.
Freeset Fabrics, an NGO working in Murshidabad, was selected by SAI as one of the six social enterprises that were given grants and support for rural livelihood creation in the Indian crafts sector.
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This is part of an 18-month project named ‘Livelihood Creation in India’.
“Our objective of supporting the NGO is livelihood creation in poor rural communities of Murshidabad for vulnerable women who would otherwise be at risk of trafficking into prostitution, bonded labour or migration,” said Shashank Shah, Project Director and Fellow Harvard University SAI.
The other five social enterprises that also received grants are Women Weave from Madhya Pradesh, Kumaun Grameen Udyog (KGU) from Uttarakhand, Craftizen Foundation from Karnataka, Chitrika from Andhra Pradesh and Raah Foundation from Maharashtra.
They have chosen handloom textiles to build on a tradition that was once thriving in this area but which has declined over recent decades, Shah added.
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The core theme of the project focuses on three key areas: rural livelihood creation through emphasis on the handicrafts and handloom sectors, educational, social and economic empowerment of women and science and technology-based social entrepreneurship.
“As part of this program, budding social entrepreneurs and crafts enterprises in India applied for social innovation grants totaling Rs 50 lakh, to stimulate interventions and scale up existing initiatives that can lead to greater impact in select geographies,” a statement said. (IANS)
Excess optimism often poses a problem for many people as they become less likely to take a command on their future
Lead author of the study said the belief in a favourable future may lessen the likelihood that people will take a step to turn it into reality
The findings of the study have been published in the journal Psychological Science
August 20, 2017: A new study states that people who are too optimistic and believe in the fact that everything will workout for the best are less likely to take a command on their future. Excess optimism often poses a problem for many people.
Talking to Daily Mail, lead author from Harvard University of the study, Todd Rogers said: there exist people who think that they are so correct that gradually others will come to see the “obviousness of their correctness.” However, the findings of their study showed that the belief in a favorable and bright future may lessen the likelihood that people will take a step to turn it into reality.
Researchers from the universities of Berkeley, California, and Harvard carried out the study by examining six studies investigating people’s scientific beliefs, political views, and entertainment and product preferences. The results of the study showed that being optimistic and believing others would come around or things will improve made it less probable for people to take a step.
The findings have been published in the journal Psychological Science.
Prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025
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August 4, 2017: US President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing to probe a complaint by four Indian-American organizations and other Asian groups that Harvard University discriminates against students from the communities in its admission process.
Justice Department Spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said on Wednesday the department wants to investigate the “administrative complaint filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American associations in May 2015 that the prior Administration left unresolved”.
Flores said: “The complaint alleges racial discrimination against Asian-Americans in a university’s admission policy and practices.”
The Global Organisation of Persons of Indian Origin (Gopio), National Federation of Indian-American Associations, American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin, and BITS Sindri Alumni Association of North India were among the 64 Asian groups that jointly filed the federal complaint.
The complaint said: “Many Asian-American students who have almost perfect SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores, top one per cent GPAs (Grade Point Average), plus significant awards or leadership positions in various extracurricular activities have been rejected by Harvard University and other Ivy League Colleges while similarly situated applicants of other races have been admitted.”
SAT is one of the common entrance exams for college admission.
Though officially the affirmative action programmes are meant to aid African American and Latino students, in reality, the quota system — similar to reservations in India — has expanded to also helps white students at the expense of Indian and other Asian students.
To ensure diversity, elite universities set academic standards for Asian students that are higher than that for even whites to prevent high-scoring Asians dominating the universities if admissions were based solely on merit.
A study by a Princeton University academic found that Asian-American students had to score 140 points more than whites in the SAT to gain admission to elite universities.
If a comparison is to be made to the Indian situation, Asians would be classified as “most forward” over the “forward” category.
Gopio International Chairman Thomas Abraham said he welcomed the Trump administration’s move to take up the complaint by the Indian and other Asian organizations.
He conceded that there was a need for affirmative action programmes to right the historical injustices done to the African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans and, therefore, he supported it for only those communities.
But “in the general quota for all the others there should not be any discrimination against Indians or Asians,” he added.
“A white kid should not get preferred treatment at the expense of Asians and the general quota should be based solely on merit” and this was the central point in the complaint,” he said.
Under former President Barack Obama, the Education Department dismissed a similar complaint by another organization, while the Justice Department did not follow up on the complaint made to its Office of Civil Rights that is now being taken up for review.
When it became known that the Justice Department was seeking lawyers to investigate the Asians discrimination suit, some major, mainstream American media twisted it and put out fake news that the Trump administration was preparing to sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies that were seen as discriminating against whites.
Flores denied the reports and said it was only the Asian complaint that was being taken up and that the department “has not received or issued any directive, memorandum, initiative or policy related to university admissions in general”.
“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting all Americans from all forms of illegal race-based discrimination,” she added.
A former civil rights official, Vanita Gupta, told The New York Times that the person sought for the investigation will be in “the political front office” and this “suggests that this person will be carrying out an agenda aimed at undermining diversity in higher education without needing to say it”.
Gupta was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in President Barack Obama’s administration and led the civil rights division. She is now the President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. (IANS)
Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August
June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.
The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.
Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.
Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.
The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.
The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.