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Quaint melody - young musicians play for street children 14/01/2009
20, is very busy like many other Delhi University students who are juggling daylong extra-curricular activities in addition to academics. But there is a distinction in this young guitarist's weekly schedule - a two-hour session when he conducts music workshops for street kids at Shastri Nagar in north Delhi.

Ghosh is a volunteer with Music Basti, an initiative of young musicians of the city to interact at a forum with street and homeless children.

At present these informal interactive workshops are conducted for small boys under the age of 12 at a non-custodian boys hostel at Sarai Basti, supported by NGO YP Foundation.

"I enjoy the sessions, it's an interactive informal forum. Each time I take something back with me, " Ghosh, a third year English-honours student at Kirori Mal College, told IANS.

Ghosh is...

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It's a musical, it's old and it's not Broadway 14/01/2009
You could call it India's answer to a Broadway musical, but a Marathi play that has bowled over people in the capital actually revives the glorious 130-year-old theatre tradition of Sangeet Natak.

"Awagha Rang Ekachi Zala", which was staged here as part of the ongoing National School of Drama (NSD) festival, is a musical play. It seeks to bring forth the conflict between traditional and modern kirtan, a genre of devotional music which is under pressure to adapt to the dictates of time.

But it goes much beyond its theme - it resuscitates the tradition of Sangeet Natak that died a slow death in the 1960s after Bollywood took centrestage. And it is also the first full-length modern Sangeet Natak play to come to the capital in over four decades from its cradle in Maharashtra.

"The last big Sangeet Natak play was 'Katyar Kalzat Gusli Lagi' in 1967, " Anant Panshikar, owner of the Natyasampada Tele-Theatre, which produced the play, told IANS.

The company, formed in 1963 by Prabhakar Panshikar, has staged several Sangeet Natak plays.

According to him, "Awagha Rang..." is a trendsetter because it has used the Sangeet Natak (musical) format to connect audiences to Indian devotional changes and the changes taking place wit...

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India and Russia: old friends, new vistas 14/01/2009
It was snowing gently in Moscow. Inside a hip downtown restaurant, a Russian singer was crooning "Mera Joota Hai Japani... Phir Bhi Lal Topi Russi", an old Hindi film song, in celebration of India-Russia friendship. Not too far away, Russian President Vladimir Putin was hosting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Kremlin and exchanging notes on bilateral and global issues. The next day the two sides cemented their time-tested partnership with four pacts, including an accord on an unmanned moon mission and a multibillion-dollar defence deal.

December 2008. Russia's new President Dmitry Medvedev comes to India with a message of solidarity from the Russian people in the wake of the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attack.

It may have been pure chance, but when the Russian president touched down in New Delhi Dec 5 he became the first foreign head of state to visit India after the savage terror strikes in India's financial capital, dubbe...

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Migratory birds bring alive Kashmir's duck tales 14/01/2009
As curling flakes of snow start falling from the sky, a small flock of geese takes to flight in this north Kashmir bird reserve.

The geese are headed for Wullar Lake, Asia's largest fresh water lake, further north in the state's Bandipora district. Before fresh snow covers the landscape, the young flock of geese must collect their share of water chestnuts from the lake.

There are other species of migratory birds at the Shallabugh Wetland Reserve, in Ganderbal district, including mallards, teals, pochards, shovellers and coots - all jostling with each other for their share of food. The scene is similar in the other wetland reserves of Hokarsar, Mirgund and Hygam in Kashmir.

The squabbling over food this year is more pronounced because of the huge number of migratory birds that have come here this winter from far off Siberia, eastern Europe, the Philippines and China to spend the winter in the Kashmir Valley's comparatively less harsh conditions.

"The evening cackle of these avian visitors is very soothing, especially for the villages around the wetland reserves, " said Habibullah, 65, a keen bird watcher who lives...

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IBSA: Ambitious exercise in transformational diplomacy 12/01/2009
Three countries located in three continents. One vision. Thousands of miles separate India, Brazil and South Africa across oceans, but this has not hindered these three emerging major economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America speaking in one voice on pressing global issues, be it the global financial meltdown, the war against poverty, the UN reforms or climate change.

This convergence of views and positions on pressing global issues of the time is no accident of global diplomacy. It all started in the summer of 2003 in the leafy city of Brasilia when the foreign ministers of the three countries met to evolve a trilateral dialogue forum that will give them a bigger, common voice at international fora. The three countries found that they have enough in common - ...

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