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Singapore: Two young Indian Social Entrepreneurs win Global Competition aimed at Empowering Women and Girls

Applicants to the global competition included 270 entrepreneurs, aged between 18 to 35, from across the world

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Street children in India. Image source: Wikipedia

Singapore, November 26, 2016: Two young Indian social entrepreneurs have won a global competition aimed at empowering women and girls in the Asia-Pacific region at the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development at Marina Bay Sands here.

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‘Project Inspire: 5 Minutes to Change the World’ is a global social initiative aimed at improving the lives of disadvantaged women and girls in Asia-Pacific, and was jointly organised by Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard.

Applicants to the global competition included 270 entrepreneurs, aged between 18 to 35, from across the world. Among these, ten were given a five-minute platform to pitch their inspired idea live at the grand finale on Thursday.

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Aditya Kulkarni, Co-founder and Executive Director at CareNx Innovations, based in Mumbai won the first prize of $25,000 for their CareMother Mobile Pregnancy Care in the country.

“With this grand prize, we wish to scale our mobile pregnancy care solution to reach out to at least 2,000 pregnant women and 20 women health workers in next one year. We aim to reach out to 2 million pregnant women in the next three years and this prize would get us started,” commented Kulkarni, in a statement.

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The second prize was won by Indian-origin Riyanka Ganguly, Executive at Village Volunteers, a US based organisation working in India. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Divert a Portion of Peacekeeping Budget to Under-Funded Peace-Building Activities: India

India highlights huge mismatch b/w funds for peacekeeping & peace-building among challenges for sustaining peace

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un human rights council
UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia
  • The 2017-18 UN budget for peacekeeping operations is $7.3 billion
  • Peacekeeping operations rely on the deployment of troops contributed by member-nations to try to physically prevent conflict
  • Peace-building and finding political solutions require civilian developmental, diplomatic and institution-building resources

United Nations, Aug 30, 2017: India has suggested diverting a portion of the peacekeeping budget to the under-funded peace-building activities because there can be lasting peace only with development and political solutions.

Criticising UN peacekeeping, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Tanmaya Lal called on Tuesday for reforming the operations to align them with peace-building objectives and finding political solutions to conflicts — a view shared by UN experts and several countries, including the US.

“There is an obvious lack of appropriate investment into the political dialogue and a huge mismatch between resource allocation for peacekeeping and peace-building,” he told a Security Council debate on peacekeeping and sustaining peace.

While this problem was acknowledged, only lip service was paid finding the resources, he said.

Lal noted that only meagre resources are now available for development programmes and peace-building is allocated less than one per cent of the funds set aside for peacekeeping.

The 2017-18 UN budget for peacekeeping operations is $7.3 billion.

Therefore, he said: “We may consider whether the allocation of an appropriate percentage of funds from the peacekeeping budget to activities related to peace-building and sustaining peace in those situations could be an option to move forward to achieve sustaining peace in the various intra-state conflicts we are facing.”

“The long extending peacekeeping missions that go on for decades and elusive political solutions remind us the need to focus on long-term investment in sustainable development or institution building and inclusive political processes,” he added.

While peacekeeping operations rely on the deployment of troops contributed by member-nations to try to physically prevent conflict, peace-building and finding political solutions require civilian developmental, diplomatic and institution-building resources.

Lal welcomed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s idea of ensuring greater cooperation between different departments of the UN, in particular bringing together the department of political affairs and peacekeeping operations for closer internal coordination, to effectively carry out its role of ensuring peace and security.

The Chair of Advisory Group of Experts on UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review, Gert Rosenthal, pointed out that organisationally the responsibilities for peacekeeping and development were split between the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.

“While there is considerable overlapping in carrying out these functions, generally the traditional ‘pillars’ of peace, human rights and development do operate in the proverbial ‘silos’ we all sadly have become accustomed to,” he said.

Also Read: UN Human Rights Chief Urges Iraqi Government to help Victims of Islamic State (ISIS) Sex Abuse 

“Peacekeeping missions alone cannot produce lasting peace,” US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley said.

“They can help create space for peace to take hold, but they must be a part of a larger strategy of coordinating the resources of the UN to prevent conflict to begin with and to address its causes,” she said.

Haley called for “a larger strategy of coordinating the resources of the UN to prevent conflict to begin with and to address its causes”.

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that the Security Council should set realistic, up-to-date mandates that also have the flexibility to evolve over time.

“Looking ahead, we must work together to ensure that peacekeeping lives up to its full potential as an essential tool for sustaining peace, not in isolation, but as part of our new, integrated approach,” she said.

Lal also drew attention to a major challenge to peacekeeping which has changed its very nature — armed conflicts taking place within a country often involving non-state actors and international terrorist networks.

A member of the UN’s High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, Youssef Mahmoud, acknowledged this fact. He said: “Given that the drivers of instability tend to be transnational in origin and effect, the analysis should assess the drivers of peace and conflict from a regional perspective.” (IANS)

 

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Inspired by Sunflower, Solar Energy ‘Flower’ Device with 12 solar power panel Petals Harvests Clean Energy

The solar panel unit is designed by drawing inspiration from the structure of a sunflower

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Solar power panel
The Smartflower System. VOA
  • Built with the aesthetic structure inspired by a sunflower, the stunning device is engineered with 12 solar power panel petals
  • Each of the power unit of the solar panel is easily commutable
  • The very first ‘Smartflower’ system was set up at a school, in order to show people the necessity of using clean energy

Washington, August 15, 2017: It is not a piece of modern art even though it looks so, but in the land of Philippines this magnificent piece of device is actually an award-winning piece of the solar power device. It is designed by drawing inspiration from the structure of a sunflower. Built with the aesthetic structure inspired by a sunflower, the stunning device is engineered with 12 solar power panel petals of which, each is built with an area 59 square meter. The device attracts the energy of the sun, soaking the solar power from the light-rays as the power petals oscillate during the day.

ALSO READ: US Researchers develop Novel Brain Imaging Technology that can “Read Minds”, Identify Complex Thoughts

The president of the ‘Smartflower Pacific’- John McEnroe was quoted as saying to VOA News that people can showcase to his friends, business partners, colleagues, and competitors, with the aspect of this device that they are wholeheartedly dedicated and committed to the cause of going green, by means of sustainable development approaches.

Each of the power unit of the solar panel is easily commutable. To the surprise of people, it has been engineered and programmed to function autonomously. During the sunrise the system opens and “blooms” to expand the petals in order to soak the energy from the light-rays of the sun. It also shuts down on its own during sundown, closing its power petals past the sunset. It is engineered with supreme sensors that can detect a bad weather and shut down on its own, such as- during heavy rain.

The very first ‘Smartflower’ system was set up at a school, in order to show people the necessity of using clean energy, mentioned VOA report.

Arnold Capuloy, from the De La Salle Lipa School was quoted as giving a statement to VOA that in order to share with people their ideology and their advocacy, as to the reason for using such a device, is the cause of introducing the device to the public by displaying it in a school for the first time. The students are also quite enthusiast and feel the same way.

Electrical Engineering student Christien Becios was quoted as saying “we really want to save the energy and also the environment at the same time”. Even though half the power in Philippines is generated by using other resources- the ‘Smartflower’ technology offers a cleaner option for generating electricity. Not only that, but it is also a renewable, sustainable, and eco-friendly source of electricity.