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Cultural Innovation: British Council launches £50,000 seed fund to boost India-UK Cultural Ties

It is a culmination of a five year programme that aims to introduce an enthusiastic Indian audience to the best contemporary arts of UK

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British Council. source- http://alexandria.aaschool.ac.uk/
  • British Council India is investing £50,000 in a one of its kind cultural project
  • It is a culmination of a five year programme that aims to introduce an enthusiastic Indian audience to the best contemporary arts of UK
  • PM Narendra Modi and PM David Cameron announced a year long programme in 2017

In an attempt to strengthen the cultural ties between the nations of UK and India, British Council, India is funding a one of its kind cultural project. It plans on investing £50,000 (Rs 50 lakh approximately) in this project. In this innovation funding, the Council will select five projects by the end of July 2016. It will invest £10,000 in seed funding of each project.

In the Open Call, the details of the funding have been provided clearly. They are claiming that this is a culmination of a five year programme that aims to introduce an enthusiastic Indian audience to the best contemporary arts of UK. They have an ambitious aim for online audience, which are 10 million people in 2016 and 50 million people in 2017.

In the eligibility criteria, they’ve mentioned that the participant should be based in UK or India. He or she should have a track record of creating new digital projects or successful experiences that have reached new audiences. They have specified that it is acceptable if the audience that had been reached before had not been of the scale that the British Council is currently aiming for.

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“We want to have ideas from India and Britain and bring those ideas together to make brilliant new things. In return for this seed funding, we would like to see a prototype or proof of concept of your project that we can test with potential audiences in September and October 2016. Following user testing in autumn, we will make a number of commissions based on potential audiences and costs of projects. Full commissions must launch during 2017” said Alan Gemmell, director of British Council, reports business-standard.com.

Noon, UK time, Friday 08 July 2016 has been declared as the deadline for submission of applications.

The British Council is partnering with Manchester International Festival on a digital co-commission for 2017. If the project submitted to this open call is selected, it will be launched during the festival in June/July 2016.

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's walks with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron as they leave 10 Downing Street after their meeting, in London, November 12, 2015. Photo: Reuters
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s walks with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron as they leave 10 Downing Street after their meeting, in London, November 12, 2015. Photo: Reuters

During the November 2015 visit of PM Narendra Modi to London, he and PM David Cameron has announced a year long programme in 2017. It is to celebrate the cultural ties between the two countries and the 70th year of independence for India.

According to business-standard.com, Gemmell added: “With the British Council, we believe that culture has a powerful role to play in helping people understand one another. India’s cultural relationship with Britain is incredibly important. We want to develop stronger cultural relations between Britain and India. We want to celebrate, reconnect, revive and inspire the next generation of people culturally. We want to develop stronger cultural relations between Britain and India.”

The British Council is one of UK’s international organisations that take various measures to strengthen the cultural ties between different nations. It also works at providing educational opportunities to the masses.

-The report is compiled by a Staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    This initiative taken by both the countries is really good. It gives the participants the encouragement and self confidence. Plus, the mix of various culture

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Don’t Lecture India; Look at Your Own Record

Many countries worldwide have a horrifying record regarding human rights

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Europeans have a horrifying record regarding human rights violations. Pixabay

By Maria Wirth

Europeans have a horrifying record regarding human rights violations. Germany is well known for an unprecedented, systematic holocaust of Jews and gypsies right in the middle of Europe only 80 years ago. Yet Britain, France, Portugal and others were as brutal with equal or even higher number of humans killed in their colonies. Their victims count many millions and many of them were Indians.

The Arabs, Turks and Mongols, too, have a horrifying record regarding human rights. The number of victims killed also goes into many millions, and many of them were Indians.

The Muslims invaded India already over thousand years ago and were as brutal as ISIS in our times. Unspeakable torture and beheadings were done on massive scale. Even the supposedly benign “Akbar the Great” slaughtered Hindus in huge numbers. The collective sacred threads of the Brahmins massacred by him is said to have weighed 200 kilogram. Can one even imagine such incredible injustice and brutality to civilians and priests? Thousands of temples were destroyed. Hindu women were sold into sex slavery. Hindus even had to open their mouth and receive gratefully the spittle by Muslims sitting on horses, and slaughtering cows was seen as “noblest deed” because it was so painful for Hindus, is recounted in “Legacy of Jihad” by Andrew Bostom.

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Hindu women were sold into sex slavery. Pixabay

The brutality experienced by Hindus was so horrendous that, even in independent India, they hardly dare to complain when they are subjected to cruel discrimination. It is painful to read comments whenever Hindus are killed or raped by Muslims: “This won’t make news, as the victim is only a Hindu”. It is so sad, but understandable after what they have gone through for over thousand years. They had no way to get justice; had to bear their suffering silently.

Guru Nanak cried out to the Supreme, and it is part of the Grant Sahib, “Having lifted Islam to its head, You have engulfed Hindustan in dread… Such cruelties they have inflicted and yet Your mercy remains unmoved….Oh Lord, these dogs have destroyed the diamond-like Hindustan.”

The British colonial masters were not less brutal. Their disdain for the natives was incredible. Winston Churchill is on record saying that he “hated Indians” and considered them a “beastly people with a beastly religion”. Celebrities like Charles Dickens wanted the Indian race ‘exterminated’ and considered them vile savages and Max Mueller wanted them all converted to Christianity.

Britain looted and reduced the formerly wealthiest country of the world to painful poverty, where during their rule over 25 million people starved to death, 3 million as late as in 1943 in Bengal.

The crimes of the British colonialists are, like those of the Muslim invaders, too numerous to list. They tied Indians to the mouth of canons and blew them up, hanged scores of them on trees, and even just after over one million Indian soldiers had helped Britain to be victorious in the First World War with many thousands sacrificing their lives, General Dyer gave orders to shoot at a peaceful gathering in Amritsar in 1919 where thousands died. An old coffee planter in Kodagu told me that even in the early 1950s there was a board in front of the club house in Madikeri. It read: “Dogs and Indians not allowed”.

Can anyone imagine the pain those Indian generations went through, having arrogant, often uncouth ruffians looting their land and despising them as dogs?

How could Europeans and Arabs be so cruel to other human beings? The reason is that they saw themselves as superior and others not quite as human.

Religion played a big role in making them feel superior. Both Christianity and Islam teach their members that only their religion is true and that the Creator will reward them with eternal heaven, but will severely punish all those who do not follow their ‘true’ religion. If God himself will torture them eternally in hellfire, why should his followers be good to them? Wouldn’t it mean siding with God’s enemies and betraying Him?

But on what basis do they consider only their religion as true and themselves as superior? The reason is that the respective founder of their religion allegedly said so. No other reason exists and no proof. On this flimsy basis, Christians and Muslims treated other human beings most inhumanly, believing they are destined for hell while they themselves are God’s favorites and will go to heaven. This brainwashing in the name of religion happens even in our times and its effect is still not questioned and analysed.

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Christians and Muslims treated other human beings most inhumanly. Pixabay

Yet today, neither white Christians, nor Arab or Turkish Muslims are constantly reminded of those terrible crimes of their forefathers. “The present generation must not be held accountable for the sins of their fathers”, is however not applied to Hindus and especially not to Brahmins. Media keeps hitting out at them as if they had been the worst violators of human rights in the past. Hinduism is portrayed as the villain due to the “horrific and oppressive” caste system.

Anyone, who knows a little about history, knows that this is false and malicious. The structure of Hindu society into four varnas or categories is mentioned in the Vedas and depends on one’s aptitude and profession – Brahmins, who memorise and teach the Vedas, Kshatriyas, who administer and defend society, Vaishyas who supply the society with goods and Shudras, who are the service sector. The varnas are not fixed by birth in texts like Bhagavad Gita or Manusmriti. But the British themselves cemented ‘castes’ (a Portuguese word) in their census and then turned around and accused Hindus of their birth-based, fixed caste system.

There was however one more category which the whole world has been told about and which is used to the hilt to despise Hinduism. They were the untouchables who do unclean work, like handling dead animals, cleaning sewers, etc. The fact that other varnas avoided touching them is still made a huge issue of in the West. In fact it is portrayed, as if this practice made Hindus the greatest violators of human rights and makes the millions tortured and killed by Christians and Muslims pale in comparison.

Yet there is no proof that even one of those untouchables has been killed for doing unclean work. Higher castes may indeed have looked down or still look down on those whose job involves dirt, which is unfortunately a human trait in all societies. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. Most people are aware that such work also needs to be done.

There is in all likelihood another angle regarding “untouchability”, which the British did not realize: Ayurveda knew already 3000 years ago that invisible germs can cause serious illness and those dealing with cadavers and dirt are more likely to carry and spread those. However, the British didn’t know about this fact till only some 150 years ago, when Louis Pasteur claimed that germs cause sickness. (By the way, Google describes this discovery as “crowning achievement of the French scientist”, and avoids mentioning India’s ancient Ayurveda).

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Higher castes may indeed have looked down or still look down on those whose job involves dirt, which is unfortunately a human trait in all societies. Pixabay

Now in today’s time of “social distancing” due to the Corona Virus, we know that not touching others is a precaution to prevent potential infection and has nothing to do with discrimination. The British could have given Hindus the benefit of doubt that they avoided physical contact with certain people due to caution. But since the British didn’t have the advanced knowledge about harmful germs they could not see the possible reason behind it.

Since Independence, the caste system is officially abolished and discrimination against lower castes is a non-bailable offense. Yet the West still makes a huge issue of the caste system and untouchables. Why? Was this the greatest crime the British could find against the “natives” and therefore exaggerated it tremendously?

Also Read: Lockdown Diaries: Online Sales of Gardening Products Shoot Up

This is not to say that people of higher castes didn’t or don’t look down on lower castes, but the demonization of Brahmins is most unwarranted, as Brahmins are least likely to harbour hatred for others due to their strict rules for sadhana which requires them to keep a very high standard of mental and physical purity.  Yet evangelicals, NGOs, international media, Muslim organisations, they all are after them and Hindus in general. They attack them for “atrocities” which never even happened, while the unspeakable atrocities, which were perpetrated upon them, are ignored. It’s a classic case of noticing the speck in the brother’s eye, but not the beam of wood in one’s own eye.

They got away with it for too long, because Hindus didn’t react. The meekness of Hindus was legendary. They were even called cowards. Yet in recent time, Hindus are becoming more assertive. They realize that the constant attacks on them are malicious, and that they are being fooled in the name of secularism because neither Christians nor Muslims can be secular. They are by nature communal because they need to make their community spread all over the world.

It is time to call out this blatant insincerity. When a head of state, like Imran Khan, accuses the Modi government in a tweet of “moving towards Hindu Rashtra with its Hindutva Supremacist, fascist ideology”, he better looks at his own country and his own ideology. A Hindu Rashtra with its inclusiveness and freedom are any time better than the exclusive, supremacist ideologies of Islam and Christianity, which force human beings into a strait-jacket of blind belief and several Muslim states threaten even today those who want to get out with death sentence.

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McDonald’s Reveals Plan to Open More Drive-Thru Restaurants in UK

McDonald's reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week

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McDonald's plans to open more number of UK branches. Pixabay

Fast-food giant McDonald’s revealed a plan to open all of its drive-thru restaurants in the UK in the coming weeks and has”not forgotten” about people in the north of England, it was reported on Monday to World and International News.

The company reopened 39 restaurants in England and Ireland last week as it prepared to get back up and running with new safety measures in place, but all of the English locations were in the south east, reports the Metro nwespaper.

In a message to customers, McDonald’s Chief Executive Paul Pomroy said: “To help us test the new procedures and to slowly restart our supply chain, the pilot restaurants in the UK are all located close to our head office and to one of our distribution centres in the south east.

“I promise I have not forgotten about any part of the UK or Ireland. We are taking our time to test the new ways of working in our restaurants, ensuring that we can continue to help our teams to work safely, and to get back to the communities we have proudly served for so many years.”

Pomroy further said that McDonald’s will make a further announcement this week about reopening more restaurants and expanding its delivery service.

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The workers on each site will be reduced to ensure safety, McDonald’s has said. Pixabay

Last week, Police were called to a drive-thru McDonald’s in Peterborough on the first day it reopened after easing of the COVID-19 lockdown because the queue at the outlet went out of hand.

Also Read: COVID-19 Restrictions Cause Disruption in Vaccination Programs: WHO, Other Organisations

Six of the 30 new drive-thrus that have opened across the country were in Peterborough.

The fast-food giant has brought in social distancing measures to keep workers safe, with staff receiving temperature checks before each shift.

The number of workers on each site will be reduced to ensure safety, the company has said. (IANS)

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India Witnesses a 37% Rise in Cyberattacks in the First Quarter of 2020

The report shows that India ranks 27th globally in the number of web-threats

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India has seen a 37 per cent hike in cyberattacks in the first quarter of 2020. Pixabay

India has seen a 37 per cent increase in cyberattacks in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020, as compared to the fourth quarter (Q4) of last year as a result of social media disadvantages, a new report revealed on Saturday.

The Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) report showed that its products detected and blocked 52,820,874 local cyber threats in India between January to March this year.

The data also shows that India now ranks 27th globally in the number of web-threats detected by the company in Q1 2020 as compared to when it ranked on the 32nd position globally in Q4 2019.

“There has been a significant increase in the number of attacks in 2020 Q1 that may continue to rise further in Q2 as well, especially in the current scenario where we notice an increase in cybercriminal activities, especially in the Asia Pacific region,” said Saurabh Sharma, Senior Security Researcher, GReAT Asia Pacific at Kaspersky.

The number of local threats in Q1 2020 in India (52,820,874) shows how frequently users are attacked by malware spread via removable USB drives, CDs and DVDs, and other “offline” methods.

Protection against such attacks not only requires an antivirus solution capable of treating infected objects but also a firewall, anti-rootkit functionality and control over removable devices.

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The high numbers of cyberattacks are likely to keep rising in Q2. Pixabay

According to the firm, the number of local threats detected in Q4 2019 was 40,700,057.

India also ranks 11th worldwide in the number of attacks caused by servers that were hosted in the country, which accounts of 2,299,682 incidents in Q1 2020 as compared to 854,782 incidents detected in Q4 2019, said the report.

Also Read: Reimagining Business Models for a Post-Pandemic World

“We see smartphone users being targeted more due to mass consumption and increased digitalisation,” Sharma said.

“Risks like data leakage, connection to unsecured wi-fi networks, phishing attacks, spyware, apps with weak encryption (also known as broken cryptography) are some of the common mobile threats that Android users face,” he added.

“In order to mitigate some of the major risks like data breaches, targeted ransomware attacks, large scale (distributed denial-of-service) DDoS attacks, etc, businesses will need to allocate their budgets correctly to build a stronger security infrastructure,” said Dipesh Kaura, General Manager for South Asia, Kaspersky. (IANS)