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By breathing life back into a dying lake in the city of Nizams and pearls, a husband-wife team of educationists has proved that positive change can begin even from the school itself.
Hyderabad-based founder of Fountainhead Global School, Meghana Musunuri, and husband Sridhar Vunnam didn’t have the smallest inkling that a routine interaction session would evolve into a children-propelled movement and ultimately rescue a 15-acre lake from certain death.
And then Voila!!… That is precisely what happened, when Meghana’s freewheeling talk on children’s rights and responsibilities, sometime in June 2019, set the tone for things to come.
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“To help them understand the concept of their rights, I was giving them examples of lakes, forests, rivers and asked them, who do you think they belong to? The younger kids replied god, and the older ones said the government. Then I said, you know, they belong to you.
“Suddenly the conversation veered to ownership. And they were keen to see a forest or a river which was out of the question because we live in Hyderabad. So, they settled for a visit to a lake.” Meghana told IANS.
Much to her chagrin, she discovered that finding the ideal lake was easier said than done.
The sprawling city of Hyderabad, famous for the imposing Hussain Sagar Lake and a few other major water bodies, was once upon a time home to a couple of thousands of lakes in varying sizes. However, rapid urbanization coupled with land-grabbing by unscrupulous elements, have spelled the death-knell for a majority of these lakes.
Today, most of these water bodies exist in varying stages of neglect — filled up with garbage and sewage, choked with weeds, encroached upon by land sharks. And, Medi Kunta lake, located in Hafeezpet, was one of the 200-odd lakes struggling to survive against the odds. Except that it had a miraculous tryst with hope and determination from unexpected quarters.
When Meghana set out looking for a suitable water body so as to give her proteges a first-hand experience, she found nothing satisfactory and finally decided to check out Medi Kunta lake, which is located about a kilometer away from the school. The only problem was that the lake, in its dying throes, was a picture of despair.
Instead of meekly accepting the dismal picture Meghana painted after her recce trip, the children felt they should revive the lake if they really owned it. And thus, began the amazing journey of the couple who egged on by the earnestness of a band of young school children, went on to revive Meedi Kunta lake.
For Meghana and Sridhar, the past three years have been a journey of discovery no less, as they and their band of school children waded through the friction and drag resulting from a combination of suspicious residents, nonchalant authorities, and troublemakers of varying hues. But they and their band of school children pushed on doggedly.
“I felt this would be a great opportunity for students to build their confidence. Because most of today’s children live very protected lives at home and school. But the world does not work like that in real life. If they’re not ready to face the real world, I feel all the education is not going to help them improve their lives. So, I wanted to reduce the walls between the school and the real world. I involved them in all aspects of the clean-up”, reminisces Meghana.
The groundwork began with the customary rounds of government offices for obtaining the mandatory permissions. The school kids, around 120 of the 330 odd scholars that study at Fountainhead Global School, went about their mission with determination. For effective communication, Meghana created an awareness kit for the children to use in their interactions with potential contributors to the cause. V. Bilvoa, a standard 10 student who created a mascot called ï¿½Cheru’ symbolizing the lake goddess, said, “We figured out that it’s not easy but not impossible either. The mascot especially was useful in boosting the morale of students.”
By July 2019, the blueprint for salvaging Meedi Kunta lake was worked out. Fundraising drives, awareness runs, and walks, tea parties near the lake, flash mobs, the team stepped up on the promotional efforts.
The initial drive resulted in collections, barely a fraction of the estimated cost of dredging and cleaning operations that required the hire of specialized equipment and manpower. At this point, Sreedhar, who’s a director at the school, chipped in with funds. Enthused by the support from the couple, the school children went about their fund collection drive with renewed vigor and managed to collect around Rs 10 lakh — but still far short of the total fund requirement.
When the children’s fund-raising attempts were exhausted, Sridhar again stepped in with funding. As per estimates, around Rs 2 crore would be required to repair and clean up the lake. It was big money that would make anyone pause for a moment to rethink. But the couple decided to plunge in with their own money rather than see the kids disheartened.
With covid lockdown clamped from March 2020, it was Sridhar who literally camped at the lake throughout the mission. He recalls that the covid lockdown actually proved helpful for them, “It was a tough job but we didn’t stop till it was completed.
“When I found it difficult hiring local lorries for transporting the garbage and other diggings, I had to arrange tractors from my native place. Gradually, local people understood our good intentions and started coming forward to help us in terms of equipment hire and other requirements.
“In between, work also suffered because of heavy rains that devastated Hyderabad. But the covid lockdown also proved beneficial as few troublemakers ventured out and we could finish our task without much disturbance.”
The major part of 2020 was spent in completing revival measures such as dredging the lake bed, redirecting sewage inflows away from the lake, shutting down unauthorized borewells in the lake storage area, repairing the lake embankment, and laying a walkway around it.
By 2021, the impact could be seen and felt. Even the fish that were released into the lake began to survive and thrive. With lockdown being lifted, the students and local residents are in a position to enjoy the benefits of a revived lake in their vicinity.
Today, the Medi Kunta lake is a picture of serendipity.
The water is cleaner, sewage no longer creeps into the lake as it used to, the fish survive and are beginning to thrive, while the surrounding greenery is enriched too. Today, local residents look at the revived lake to realize what they have been depriving themselves off, all these years.
Instead of sitting back and enjoying the adulation coming their way, the couple plans to set up a biodiversity lab in the lake’s vicinity. Quizzed about the takeaways from the initiative, “Practical problem solving is the way to bridge the gap between school learning and real-life issues,” Meghana signs off. (IANS/KB)
By Olivia Sarkar
If the year 2020 appeared bleak for the world, the year 2021 served as a frightening reminder that it wasn't so much about the year as it was about the times we've come to live in. Every domain and industry has experienced seismic shifts, both for the better and for the bad. However, just a few fields have seen such a huge paradigm shift as online dating throughout the course of 2021.
It becomes critical to document and analyse the important observations in the year 2021's dating trends in order to determine where online dating stands and where it is headed. This is where a poll conducted by one of India's popular dating apps, QuackQuack, comes in handy. "The pandemic has undoubtedly thrown a few curveballs towards folks wanting to date," remarked Mr. Ravi Mittal, Founder and CEO of QuackQuack, in response to the survey report. Males and females, in my opinion, are fast coming to terms with a new universe of online dating every day, adopting more self-paced and healthier forms of dating, a growing process that will soon become the standard."
The key takeaways from the survey can be best summarized as below:
- Vaccination is a must: An overwhelming 8 out of 10 persons in the survey's sample size expressed support for mandatory vaccination as a prerequisite to a date. A considerable 65 per cent and 75 per cent of people in the 18-20 and 21-30 age categories, respectively, agreed on the same thing. The need of a double jab was consistently emphasized across the country's top cities and tier 2 cities, with 75 per cent and 70 per cent of the sample size in each believing that the first step toward a safe date would have to be complete immunization of the other.
An overwhelming 8 out of 10 persons in the survey's sample size expressed support for mandatory vaccination as a prerequisite to a date. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
- Dating with a purpose: The poll revealed that, because of the Covid procedures in place, people have had little motivation to walk outside, leading them to think on the nature of the dates they've discovered on the dating app rather than searching for matches in a desperate manner. The survey found that 47 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men agreed with this behavioral change, and that the act of reflection and introspection allowed them to have healthier relationships than before.
The difference in deliberate dating trends between people who live in cities and those who live in rural or semi-urban settings was quite similar. While roughly 37 per cent of urban teenagers believed their dating experience had taken an intentional turn, 39 per cent of rural or semi-urban teenagers felt the same way.
The difference in deliberate dating trends between people who live in cities and those who live in rural or semi-urban settings was quite similar. | Photo by René Ranisch on Unsplash
- Location is pivotal: According to the survey, a whopping 58 per cent and 56 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 20 and 21 and 30 preferred hooking up with someone from a different place to broaden their search for a potential spouse. This trend proved to be more prevalent among women, as 58 per cent of them were comfortable dating partners from foreign countries, compared to only 50 per cent of men. Further study into a demographic analysis of the sampled data found that 46 per cent of those living in major metro cities preferred dating outside of their home location, while 57 per cent of those living in smaller cities and towns favored the same.
According to the survey, a whopping 58 per cent and 56 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 20 and 21 and 30 preferred hooking up with someone from a different place to broaden their search for a potential spouse. | Pixabay
- Video calling versus meeting in person: Due to the ongoing Covid problem across the country, a large majority of 56 per cent of 18 to 20-year-olds preferred having their first date on a virtual medium and were risk-averse, according to the survey. On the other hand, 43 per cent of persons aged 30 and up, who adhere to a more traditional approach, decided to meet in person while taking all essential safety steps.
43 per cent of persons aged 30 and up, who adhere to a more traditional approach, decided to meet in person while taking all essential safety steps. | Photo by Matt W Newman on Unsplash
According to the survey, a vast majority of 56 per cent of 18 to 20-year-olds preferred having their first date on a virtual medium and were risk-averse due to the ongoing Covid crisis across the country. In contrast, 43 per cent of people aged 30 and up who prefer a more traditional approach preferred to meet in person while following all necessary safety precautions according to the survey. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: meeting, Video calling, Location, Vaccination, dating trends, 2021, Online Dating)
Today marks the birth anniversary of Josh Malihabadi, who popularly known as ‘Shayar-e-Inquilab’ or ‘Poet of the Revolution’.
An Indian-born poet
Josh Malihabadi, born as Shabbir Hasan Khan, was born in Malihabad, a town in Lucknow district of Uttar Pradesh, British India. At first, he received his education in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and English at his home only, and later on Malihabadi studied at St. Peter's College in Agra and passed his Senior Cambridge examination in the year 1914. Thereafter, he studied Arabic and Persian languages, and in the year 1918, Malihabadi spent six months at Tagore’s University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.
Josh Malihabadi (centre) along with Pablo Neruda (left) and Young Ali Sardar Jafri (right). Photo by Flickr
Family of poets
Interestingly, Malihabadi’s family produced many poets; be it his great-grandfather, Nawab Faqeer Muhammad Khan ‘Goya', grandfather Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan, paternal uncle Ameer Ahmad Khan, and even his father Basheer Ahmad Khan. Each one of them had numerous works including poetry collections, translations, and essays published in their name. Perhaps, this was the reason why Josh Malihabadi is considered as one of the finest poets of the British India era.
Outset of writing career
Malihabadi's career in the field of writing and poetry began when in 1925, he started to supervise translation work at Osmania University in the princely state of Hyderabad. After sometime, he founded the magazine ‘Kaleem’ (meaning, "speaker" in Urdu), in which he wrote articles in favor of independence from the British rule in India. In fact, his poem ‘Hussain aur Inquilab’ won him the title of ‘Shayar-e-Inquilab’ (Poet of the Revolution). Moreover, over the passage of time, Malihabadi became more involved in the freedom struggle and even became close to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Over the passage of time, Malihabadi became more involved in the freedom struggle and even became close to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.Photo by Flickr
Migration to Pakistan
After the British rule ended in India, in the year 1956, Malihabadi migrated to Pakistan because of his concern regarding the future of himself as a poet and Urdu language. This decision of Malihabadi moving to Pakistan was highly opposed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. After moving to Pakistan, Malihabadi was consistently involved in the process of writing poetry and holding literary conferences. In fact, a noted scholar and literary critic, Pervez Hoodbhoy, quoted once about Malihabadi’s writing. He said, "Poetry flowed from Josh's pen like water from a bubbling spring."
Today, on the 123rd birth anniversary of Josh Malihabadi, let us remember his contribution in the freedom struggle of India and in the field of poetry!
(Keywords: India, Pakistan, Josh Malihabadi, Birth Anniversary, Jawaharlal Nehru, Literature, Writing, Poetry)
By Olivia Sarkar
The season of love is upon us and as wedding bells ring louder, timepieces that radiate elegance and beauty become an important accessory.
Michael Kors attention to detail, features timepieces designed for the exquisite woman and the sophisticated gentleman. So, while the bride and her bridesmaids prepare to have the wedding party fawning over their looks, and the groom puts on his best, these new watches are sure to elevate any ensemble and turn heads.
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For the bride
The bride is the star of the wedding festivities, and she wants every detail of her big day to be memorable. These designs are created for the fashion-forward woman and are likely to attract the attention of any vogue observer.
The Signature MK logo collection
The instantly recognizable, bold silhouettes, gleaming dials, and stainless steel bands are all part of the new signature logo collection. The gold-tone Wren pieces are 42mm in diameter and come with an H-link bracelet with the MK emblem. This watch, which costs INR 21,995, is sure to go with whichever clothing the bride chooses.
The shiny new Layton Pave
The popular Layton has been encrusted with pave stones of various sizes to give it a sparkly sheen. The stainless-steel chronograph is 42mm in diameter and comes with a 3-link bracelet for more glitz. The polished Layton, priced at INR 27,995, will be available in silver and gold tones, making it ideal for brides to choose and set the tone for their big day!
The Everest relaunched in its original boyfriend-style with even more sparkle and gloss.Unsplash
Also read: The reasons for investing in Luxury watches
The iconic Everest
The Everest, one of the brands most popular watches, has been relaunched in its original boyfriend-style with even more sparkle and gloss. Everest's renowned New York traditional jet-set look is ideal for the fashion-forward, modern-day bride. Each large chronograph makes a bold, stylish, and dazzling statement, which is exactly what a bride requires.
These will be available in a variety of colours, including gunmetal, rose-gold tone, two gold tone variations, and a two-toned piece, and will cost INR 43,000 and INR 51,000, respectively.
For the man of the hour
Why should the groom be left out if the bride is going all out? The Bayville Automatic is the perfect head-turner for the main-appearance man's for the night. Its semi-skeleton dial, color-contrast tachymeter top ring, and multi-link stainless steel band are bold and sporty, yet they're offset by a classy combination of brown and rose gold tones. The cost of the piece is INR 51,000.(IANS/PR)
Key words: watches, wedding season, lytone pave