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Meet 18-year-old Mansi Jain who is giving new meaning to Delhi’s heritage

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By Nishtha

Eighteen year old Mansi Jain has been brainstorming for the past two years to create digital content about all the monuments in and around Delhi-NCR region. With an aim to create an academic and cultural interest in the subject, Jain with the help of Ramit Mitra (founder, Delhi by Foot – which conducts heritage walks in the city) has launched an interactive website called, ‘Heritage Hike’.

The website includes videos which offer simple and interesting explanation about monuments and various historical events.

In an exclusive interview with NewsGram, Jain, who recently got accepted at Stanford University, talks about her interest in history, hiring interns for Heritage Hike, and expansion plans of her venture. Excerpts from the interview:

 

Nishtha: When did your fascination with historical monuments begin?

MansIMG_2947i Jain: As my parents were always interested in history, I was exposed to monuments and museums from an early age. We even travelled around the world where we visited places of historical significance. I was inspired to start Heritage Hike when I visited Italy with my family, about two years back. We went to this bell tower town called, San Gimignano in Tuscany and I was surprised to see that it was so well preserved! This town has a population of about 20,000 people and they get roughly 1.5 million visitors every year. The people in Tuscany took care of the sanitation aspect and were well aware about their town’s historical past. However in India, there is no ownership of monuments among people. They scribble over the walls of the monuments and some of them still remain unaware about our heritage. These two distinct examples (of Tuscany and India) motivated me to work on historical monuments in India.

 

N: So, what is the current status of your website?

MJ: We have already developed our website (www.heritagehike.com). Information about Tughlaq Dynasty has already been uploaded on it. We have about five videos, out of which three are on the emperors froIMG_2873m this dynasty. We also did video walkthroughs at Feroz Shah Kotla and Tughlakabad. These videos were also shown to school students and it was pretty effective. There was one student who had no interest in history, but once she visited Tughlakabad, she was able to understand everything about the monument because of the video. We hope to produce five videos every month.

 

N: You are also in the process of hiring a couple of interns to help you with Heritage Hike. How do you plan to train them?

MJ: Since I will be going to Stanford University for my graduation, I felt the website would require more people. We are setting up a three month internship so that the interns could work with us properly. In this formal setup, the interns will be given a document stating their work hours and what they are expected to do. We will be giving them certificates and personalized letters of recommendations.

For the two posts – managing the enterprise and marketing and communications, we have received surplus applications so we will be conducting interviews. We are hoping to start the internship by June 13 until the mid of September. We require about 16 interns. Few days back, students from Kolkata approached and showed volunteer interest in Heritage Hike.

Apart from the internship, we are also looking for project heads – who can help with the training of the new deputy project heads. I will continue to supervise the entire process and work towards the creative output of the project.

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N: You have created your website in sync with the history syllabus taught in schools. Do you think inclusion of interactive aids will be beneficial for students?

MJ: Yes, it will definitely help. When we conducted surveys with school students, they didn’t remember anything from their history textbooks. Since this is a theoretical subject with a lot of dates and factual information, students tend to forget what they have learnt. Interactive medium would be fun and interesting for the students and they will enjoy the subject more.

 

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N: Do you plan to pitch your website and videos as a teaching tool in schools?

MJ: Yes. We have asked for three interns in the outreach director field. Since the Tughlaq Dynasty is relevant for class 7 students, we want to approach school principals. An hour long presentation would be beneficial as we will be able to gauge students’ responses. Students will also be given a recap worksheet to fill. So we hope to be in a couple of schools in the next three months. Even the students in Calcutta were interested in taking this project to their schools. Our goal is also to create an online library which can be used by the teachers in classes.

 

N: IMG_2889Since you have long terms plans for Heritage Hike, do you plan to seek funding for this venture?

MJ: I realized last year that to sustain a project it is important to have finances in place. In the past, we got student volunteers for the website but once they received the exposure they wanted, their interest dwindled. If we have finances, stipends can be provided to the interns as an incentive to keep them going. Funding will also help us in scaling the level of production. But, before looking for the funds, I want to plan and set up the entire working system.

 

 

 

N: What are the expansion plans for Heritage Hike? Do you plan to take this initiative to other parts of the country?IMG_2884

MJ: Currently, my focus is on Delhi and the dynasties, sultanates and monuments around it.

We want to expand our videos beyond the syllabus. The history books are limited to Delhi sultanate, the Mughals and monuments in the British era. History has been restricted to power structure – who ruled and what they did during the rule and so on. We want to make videos about history of a mathematical theorem or a particular native dialect or about something else about which people are not aware of. I want to expand the definition of ‘history’.

The other form of expansion would be to different cities and finding students to cover monuments in their areas.

A continued focus on education about history and awareness of the monuments will always be Heritage Hike’s aim.

 

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Seven Wonders of the World : Ancient and Modern

The Seven Wonders of the World are a set of monuments which show the artistic and architectural excellence of humanity from history to the present times. Read more to find out about the ancient and the modern seven wonders of the world

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FILE - The silhouette of the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado hill stands out against the full moon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 19, 2016. VOA

The Seven Wonders of the World in the ancient times was a list made by the Greeks in order to honor the most magnificent piece of architecture in their known world. Sadly today other than the Pyramid of Giza, none of the other wonders have been able to survive the test of time. Since then a new list has been made in order to acknowledge the modern Seven Wonders of the World.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World as per the Greeks: 

  • The Great Pyramid of Giza – The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only wonder of the ancient wonder which has survived. This pyramid erected in the year 2560 BC, is known to be the tomb of the Pharaoh Khufu. It is the oldest of all ancient wonders.

Pixabay
The Pyramids of Giza – Pixabay

  • The Hanging Garden of Babylon – There is not much to say about this wonder because of the fact that there is very little historical documentation about these gardens. They were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife in 600 BC because she was missing her hometown in the hills.

A Painting of Hanging Garden of Babylon – Wikimedia Common

  • The Lighthouse of Alexandria – The Lighthouse of Alexandria was 400ft tall in length and had kept its record for being the tallest building in the world for centuries. This was built around 280 BC. This magnificent structure was destroyed by several earthquakes. In 1480, its ruins were used to construct the Citadel of Qaitbay, which till date stands on Pharos Island.
  • The Colossus of Rhodes – The Colossus of Rhodes is a nearly 100 feet tall statue of the Greek sun god Helios. Built in the city of Rhodes in 280 BC, it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 BC.
  • The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was built as the tomb of Mausoleum around 350BC. The structure was demolished by a series of earthquakes which occurred between the 12th and 15th centuries.
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia – The statue was made by the Greek sculptor Phidias, it represented Zeus seated on his golden throne. The statue itself is 40ft tall and is adorned with gold and ivory. The cause of the destruction of the statue is not clearly known but it was destroyed sometime in the  5th century.

A Painting of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia – Pixabay

  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus – The temple is located in Eastern Turkey. It has been rebuilt several times following its destruction every time. One memorable incident related to the temple is the fact it once burnt down the same night when Alexander the Great was born. The third temple was acknowledged by the Greeks as a wonder. It was finally destroyed for good by the Goths in 268AD.

The Temple of Artemis Ruins – Wikimedia Commons

The List of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World

On July 7, 1997, a new set of seven wonders was developed which was based on the online voting system from all around the world. The new Seven Wonders of the World are:-

  • Chichen Itza, Mexico – The Chichen Itza is the ruins of a complex in the form of a step pyramid from the Mayan civilization.

Chichen Itza – Pixabay

  • Christ, the Redeemer, Brazil – This is a 98 ft statue of Jesus Christ located in Rio de Janeiro. This statue was built by French sculptor, Paul Landowski.

Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil – Pixabay

  • The Great Wall of China – The Great Wall of China is a wall that was built along the northern border of China in order to protect the Chinese empire from the nomadic attacks from the Eurasian tribes.

The Great Wall of China – Wikimedia Commons

  • Machu Picchu, Peru – Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel which is located high up on the Andes Mountains. It is famous for its age-old stone block walls. The exact nature of use of this citadel is not exactly known.

Machu Picchu – Pixabay

  • Petra, Jordan – Petra was an ancient desert in Jordan which consists of numerous temples and tombs carved in pink sandstone thus earning its nickname as the “Rose City”.

Petra – Jordan, Wikimedia Commons

 

  • The Roman Colosseum, Rome – The Colosseum as it is famously known, is a huge amphitheater located in the center of the city of Rome in Italy. It is the largest amphitheater ever built. It was used for gladiator fights, animal matches, and re-enactment of various dramas prevalent in those times.

Colosseum in Rome – Wikimedia Commons

  • The Taj Mahal, Agra – The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum which is built in pure white marble on the orders of Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is situated on the south bank of the Yamuna River and was commissioned to be built in 1632.

The Taj Mahal, India – Wikimedia Commons

The Seven Natural Wonders of the World

CNN announced a list of wonders which were not manmade but were formed naturally over a period of thousand years. This list was given in 1992.

  • Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon – Wikimedia Commons

  • The Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef – Pixabay

  • The Harbor at Rio de Janeiro
  • Mt Everest

Mount Everest – Pixabay

  • Northern Lights

Northern Lights -Pixabay

  • Paricutin Volcano

    The Crater of Paricutin Volcano – Pixabay
  • Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls Africa – Pixabay

No list of Seven Wonders is definite. These lists tell us how much the humanity has progressed and nature has evolved over the years.  These wonders are nothing but the remainder of the accomplishments of mankind from history to the present.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha (@siatipton)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Miles to go: Anushka Sharma on her journey “Full Interview”

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Anushka Sharma
Miles to go: Anushka Sharma on her journey

New Delhi, Oct 5 : After stepping into Bollywood in 2008 with superstar Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi” to producing films and now owning a clothing line, actress Anushka Sharma has been on a roll. She says she has more ambitions to fulfil and hopes to develop her business ventures with a vengeance.

Anushka ventured into film production in 2014 and earlier this month, she launched her clothing line Nush.

“I feel happy with what I have achieved so far, but I have miles to go and more ambitions. I hope to develop my entrepreneurial ventures further,” Anushka told IANS over email from Mumbai, when asked about her career graph.

She says she wants to continue entertaining her fans.

“I want to continue working in roles and films that entertain, engage and are viewed in posterity as creatively qualitative. I haven’t achieved it all, there’s more to do in the years to come,” added the actress, who had her first modelling assignment for designer Wendell Rodricks in 2007.

The “NH10” actress, 29, who has worked with Bollywood’s three Khans — Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir, says rather than looking back at her journey and contemplate, she prefers to use the learning to do better.

“I prefer to take learnings and acquired understanding from my years in the film industry. Experience teaches you patience, consistency and persistence. I hope these will always define my work,” she said.

What has been more daunting — being an actress, producer or an entrepreneur?

“None of it is daunting, all of it is very enjoyable and exciting. I love doing all of it, and wish there was time to do even more,” she said.

Anushka describes her clothing line Nush as “accessible high street fashion”. She says she wanted to create “everyday clothes for everyday events” and that it is “built around Indian needs and sensibilities”.

The line caters to all sizes from small to XXL.

“It caters to women and girls from all age groups and also to all senses of styles,” she said.

“We have been working on creating an apparel line for over a year’s time. Now that we are confident about the product and our distribution across India, we have decided to go ahead and launch it,” she said.

On the film front, Anushka’s next is “Pari” and she says the role was challenging.

“Let’s just say the role challenged me and the film will hold up what we aim to do at Clean Slate Films — tell solid, engaging stories on cinema,” she added.

She will also be seen with actor Varun Dhawan in the upcoming film “Sui Dhaaga – Made in India”, touted as a story of self reliance aimed to connect with every Indian.

“It’s very early to talk about ‘Sui Dhaaga’, but I am excited about the film, and look forward to shooting it.”

To be directed by Sharat Katariya and written by Maneesh Sharma, the film will go on the floors from January next year. The film will hit the screens for Gandhi Jayanti 2018.(Interview Conducted By Durga Chakravarty of IANS)