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Think Super Mario Bros., but with an Afghan twist. This is how Afghanistan’s first generation of female coders explain their abilities as game-makers after uploading more than 20 games on digital app stores this year.
More than 20 young women in the western city of Heart have established themselves as computer experts, building apps and websites as well as tracking down bugs in computer code.
Like the team of Afghan schoolgirls who rose to fame last year when they competed in a robotics competition in the United States, the coders show what reserves of talent there are to be tapped when Afghan girls are given a chance.
“Coders can work from home and it is in this process women are building a new career path for themselves and for the next generation,” said Hasib Rasa, project manager of Code to Inspire, which teaches female students coding in Herat.
One of the games designed by the all-female team has caught the eye of developers and gamers as it illustrates the scourge of opium cultivation and the challenges the Afghan security forces face as they try to stamp it out.
The 2-D game “Fight Against Opium” is an animated interpretation of the missions that Afghan soldiers undertake to destroy opium fields, fight drug lords and help farmers switch to growing saffron.
Afghanistan is the world’s largest source of opium but it also grows saffron – the world’s most expensive spice – which has long been pushed as an alternative to wean farmers off a crop used to make heroin.
Despite a ban, opium production hit a record in 2017, up 87 percent over 2016, according to a U.N. study.
Khatira Mohammadi, a student who helped develop the anti-opium game, said she wanted to show the complexities of the drug problem in the simplest way.
“We have illustrated our country’s main problem through a game,” said Mohammadi.
At the institute, more than 90 girls and young women, wearing headscarves and long black coats, are trained in coding and software development, a profession seen by some in conservative Afghanistan as unsuitable for women.
In Afghan society, it is unusual for women to work outside the home. Those who do, are mostly teachers, nurses, doctors, midwives and house helpers.
After the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, women regained freedom to work in offices with male colleagues – but many consider working as a software developer a step too far.
Hasib Rasa said girls are encouraged to design original player characters, goals, and obstacles that reflect Afghanistan’s ethos.
The course is exclusively aimed at females, aged 15-25, who are unable to pursue a four-year degree due to lack of funds or hail from families where they are prevented from enrolling in co-education schools.
“In Afghanistan the ability to work remotely is a key tool in the push for equality,” said Rasa. (VOA)
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan shares how he feels when people compare him with his father Amitabh Bachchan on the singing reality show 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa'. He also requests contestant Rajshree Bag to sing a track 'Bahon Mein Chale Aao' featuring his mother Jaya Bachchan.
Abhishek said after looking at the performance of Rajshree, who is often compared with Lata Mangeshkar on the show, that she reminds him of being compared with his father. "Rajshree, whenever I have got the chance to watch the show, I've seen people compare you to Lata didi. It actually reminded me about how people compare me with my father and ask me how I feel about it."
According to him Amitabh Bachchan is a great actor in the industry and this is what he says to everyone making these comparisons. "My answer to them is that there's no greater actor in this film industry than Amitabh Bachchan and if I'm being compared to him, I am sure I must have done something good."
"Similarly, your voice has a different kind of magic like Lata ji and that's why people are comparing your voice with her. I feel you should always take this as a compliment," he concluded. 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa' airs on Saturday and Sunday on Zee TV. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Rajshree Bag
Winters in India have always beckoned for that hot, steaming bowl of tomato and pepper rasam or the mellow, millet based Raab. Certain dishes like sarson ka saag, undhiyu, nimona pulao are winter specialites in the country. Seasonal food has always been an Indian speciality -- we switch our choice in fruits, vegetables, sometimes even grains with the onset of different season. The preference of using specific ingredients during certain climates is visible in our sweets as well. It's common to find local and traditional delicacies made of jaggery, instead of sugar during the winters. Case in point -- the Nolen Gur Rasgulla, a speciality made in Odisha and West Bengal between November to February.
Celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, strongly advocates this need of eating seasonal produce. He says, "The beauty of our food is in our seasonal usage of fruits and vegetables. If you realise, Gajar ka halwa is made aplenty during winters as this is the season when beautiful red carrots hit the market or mango pickle is made during summer, thanks to its availability. Despite people and sometimes, even me, suggesting that we should eat fresh as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables, we do not know what chemicals are sprayed on them to keep them safe while they are growing. When this produce hits the market, there isn't a certifying agency like the FSSAI that will help people understand what vegetables and fruits are free of pesticides and germs and which ones don't. Hence, the onus lies on us to make them safe for consumption. ITC's Nimwash is a good solution."
When it comes to winters, the Chef recommends eating these fruit and vegetables:
* Purple Mogri -- Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country. But you can spot them during the winters in local markets in northern India where women pick them up to make raitas, curries and stir fries. Rich in magnesium, calcium and copper, the vegetable is known to aid people from digestive problems.
Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country, but you can spot them during the winters | Pixabay
* Sweet Potato -- A re-discovered favourite, Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. With its diverse addition in burgers, chips and even chat, the root vegetable is filled with nutrients such as fibres and vitamins.
Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. | Wikimedia Commons
* Avarekalu -- Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. Bangalore is famed for its Averakalu mela during the winter months, where you can find these beans in dosas, Pani puri and even Jalebis! Thronged by crowds from all over the city, the food fest is a gourmand's delight.
Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. | Wikimedia Commons
* Amla -- The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. High in Vitamin C, it is known to be immunity building and extremely beneficial for the skin and hair. There are multiple ways to eat Amla -- it is pickled, made into a fruit preserve called as Murraba or even eaten by sprinkling salt over it.
The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. | Pixabay
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: winter, Sanjeev Kapoor, chef, Indian gooseberry, Sweet Potato, Radish pods
Just three minutes of exposure to deep red light once a week, when delivered in the morning, can significantly improve declining eyesight, finds a new study. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found there was, on average, a 17 per cent improvement in participants' colour contrast vision when exposed to three minutes of 670 nanometre (long wavelength) deep red light in the morning and the effects of this single exposure lasted for at least a week.
However, when the same test was conducted in the afternoon, no improvement was seen. "We demonstrate that one single exposure to long wave deep red light in the morning can significantly improve declining vision, which is a major health and wellbeing issue, affecting millions of people globally," said lead author, Glen Jeffery from the University College London.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m | Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash
For the study, the team involved a small yet significant number of participants aged between 34 and 70, had no ocular disease, completed a questionnaire regarding eye health prior to testing, and had normal colour vision (cone function). This was assessed using a 'Chroma Test' -- identifying coloured letters that had very low contrast and appeared increasingly blurred, a process called colour contrast.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Their colour vision was then tested again three hours post exposure and 10 of the participants were also tested one week post exposure. On average there was a 'significant' 17 per cent improvement in colour vision, which lasted a week in tested participants; in some older participants, there was a 20 per cent improvement, also lasting a week.
A few months on from the first test (ensuring any positive effects of the deep red light had been 'washed out') few participants, carried out the same test in the afternoon, between 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. When participants then had their colour vision tested again, it showed zero improvement. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Deep red light, therapy, eye sight, study,chroma test