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Back to Schools 08/04/2011
For the street urchins living on the margins of society, education always remained an elusive dream. However, with non-formal schools like Naba Disha providing educational opportunities to these present day Oliver Twists, activists say the children were weaned away in many cases from the world of juvenile crime in Kolkata. Debayani Bose reports

When 14-year-old Viren Dasgupta (name changed) first had his tryst with the jailhouse for stealing a loaf of bread, he knew life was 'like that' for those on the streets. Well until Naba Disha, meaning New Director, brought hope and happiness to his Dickensian world of twists, turns, artful dodgers and Fagins.

He is now appearing for his Madhyamik (school final) examination and aspires to become an engineer.

Viren is one among the many children who have benefitted from Naba Disha, a flagship programme of the Kolkata Police running for almost a decade in about 30 police station premises, reaching out to 2294 children for whom education had been a distant dream.

It provides a holis...


Whose hills are they anyway? 08/04/2011
Suma Josson's film Niyamgiri %u2013 You Are Still Alive, which won the Vasudha Environment Award at the recent International Film Festival of India in Goa , investigates the controversial Vedanta project for bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills of Orissa. Shoma A . Chatterji probes through the lens of the film the environmental impact of the project

The Vedanta mining project in the Niyamgiri hills in the infamous hunger-death district of Kalahandi district in Orissa has been in the eye of a protest storm for sometime.

Tribal activists and green groups last August celebrated the landmark, perhaps unprecedented, decision by India's proactive environment ministry to stop British mining giant Vedanta Resources Plc.'s move to mine bauxite in the hills of eastern state Orissa where about 8, 000 people of two endangered tribes live.

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh's announcement was preceded by a stinging indictment of London-listed Vedanta by a four-member government appointed panel which said allowing the firm to mine bauxite in Niyamgiri Hills, considered sacred by the indigenous people, would be betra...


Yoga in the snow? Mountaineer challenges Baba Ramdev 08/04/2011
He's a mountaineer and a yoga instructor and claims to have performed yoga bare-bodied in Ladakh's snow-clad mountains at an altitude of over 14, 000 ft. And Ajai Kumar Bajpayee has now dared renowned yoga guru Baba Ramdev to match his feat.

Bajpayee, 32, a liaison officer with the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and a native of Shareefabad in Barabanki district, has performed a 30-minute yoga session at the popular Kun mountaineering destination in Ladakh. He now wants Ramdev to showcase his yoga skills before the public in the same manner.

"It's an open challenge to him from my side. Let there be a yoga competition between us. Both of us will have to perform yoga bare-bodied in bone-chilling conditions or similar to that of those prevailing in Ladakh, " Bajpayee told IANS on phone from Barabanki, some 35 km from Lucknow.

Bajpayee, however, said Ramdev should take up his challenge in a sporting spirit.

Chocolates all the way 08/04/2011
Enterprising Indian women are turning peoples' fascination for chocolates into thriving business ventures. Baishali Mukherjee reports

One is the queen of the sweet tooth, the other is the queen of your heart. Chocolates and women are two most celebrated symbols of love.

What can be a more romantic wedding gift than a bride and a bridegroom figure made of chocolate? Or a bride showing her love to the groom with a pure chocolate Taj Mahal ?

All these and much more are on offer at Chocolate Hut, Hyderabad. An enterprise by K Lakshmi, wife of a businessman who is into supplying cocoa ingredients, she has been associated with chocolates literally since her marriage. Cocoa is the main ingredient for making chocolates.

"I started to take interest in chocolate after my marriage and read articles related to the product whenever I came across one. One day an article in the local newspaper regarding consumption of outdated imported chocolates by children which led them to ill health, caught my attention. It eventually motivated me to get into the chocolate industry to make good and premium chocolates, " she says.

Lakshmi's first trainer was her husband himself. Later, she pursued her passion for ch...


Reality shows don't guarantee Bollywood success: Sunidhi Chauhan 06/01/2011
Popular playback singer Sunidhi Chauhan does not feel that music talent hunt reality shows can guarantee the winner success in Bollywood, though she herself appeared on the Hindi film scene thanks to a talent hunt on TV.

"I don't think it's got anything to do with singing. Success comes to you if you are talented and at the same time are seen and heard enough. I think reality shows give you this opportunity and platform. It can give you that initial visibility towards success in the industry, but at the end of the day what sustains you is sheer talent, " Sunidhi told IANS in an interview.

Sunidhi had in 1996 won the "Meri Awaaz Suno" music competition on Doordarshan and later went on to give Bollywood hit numbers like "Dhadak dhadak" ("Bunty Aur Babli"), "Bhaage re mann" ("Chameli"), "Mehboob mere" ("Fiza"), "Dhoom machale" ("Dhoom"), "Beedi jaliale" ("Omkara") and &quo...


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