Chitrangada open shelter

By Karen Chung

Chitrangada was established in 2012 as a 24*7 open shelter by a much older society, Soul(since 1985). It aims at protecting and emancipating the socially neglected girl child, arming them to not only enter the mainstream society seamlessly but also contribute to it in the future.

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The children with their coordinator,Ms.Saha

They currently house 22 girls aged between 7-15 years. An interview with one of the caretakers, Miss Saha gives us a closer view into the problems they face.

Even after being government approved, they aren’t necessarily government supported. Miss Saha says they’ve been struggling due to negligence from the Government and the last time they received funds was over a year ago.

Due to lack of funds, she spends her personal savings which isn’t enough to fully support the needs of the 22 girls. She says she often loans from the market vendors and cannot afford buying meat or milk for the younger girls.

To take better care of them, she requested Government help through an NGO forum but the letter was never passed along.
Hence any contribution is much sought.

“Giving has never made anyone poor.”

For further information or donations please feel free to get in touch with the following:

Arabinda Basu : Mob:+ 91-9836121760
Email – arabindabasu123@gmail.com

Prabal Sarkar: +91-9433429247

Sumedha Basu: +91-9811708709
Email – enabasu@gmail.com

Pratham – where learning comes first

By Karen Chung

 

Established in 1995 to provide education to children in the slums of Mumbai, Pratham has grown both in scope and geographical coverage. It now operates in 23 Indian states with a staggering reach of over 4.5 million.

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Their logo
Pratham means ‘first’ in Sanskrit. True to its name, it is the first major organization to achieve lasting, wide-scale success in India’s educational landscape.IMG-20170608-WA0006
It’s motto lies in providing high quality, low cost and replicable interventions that can be easily adopted by similar organizations to address gaps in the education system.

A focus on innovation, their strategies reconfigure teaching methodologies, break down traditional tactics, and challenge the current rote learning mechanisms in schools.

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Children acknowledging donation of books by Pratham

To know more, visit their official site:

It’s a dog’s life!

By Deepshikha De

 

Anushka Dasgupta and Avantika Simone Sen started an organization called ’It’s a dog’s life’ in October 2013, it’s an NGO that helps our four legged friends, especially those who have no home and no one to take care of them. Here is what I discovered on a tete-a-tate with Anushka, given below is the interview conducted.

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Founders, Avantika Simone Sen (left) and Anushka Dasgupta

Question: What lead you to start this organization?

Anushka: We started this organization back in 2013 when a lot of stray puppies surfaced in our locality in Tangra. We could barely take care of our initial litter of 6! Once 20+ dogs were added to that figure, we had to figure out a more ingenuous way of raising funds. So we created a Facebook page called ’It’s a Dog’s Life’ and that was how IADL was born.

Question: Are these puppies all stray dogs?

Anushka: All the animals we take care of are stray dogs/pups and sometimes stray cats, if and when they need help.

Question: How many puppies are under your organization?

Anushka: As of now we regularly take care of around 30 dogs and over the past 4 years, we’ve vaccinated, sterilised and provided medical care to approximately 400 + dogs.

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It’s a Dog’s life also provides medical care to stray dogs

Question: Do you pick up any stray puppy?

Anushka: We don’t have a shelter so we try to provide medical care on the streets itself, we try not to bring these animals home unless absolutely necessary. If they’re very unwell, seriously injured, need surgery/proper medicinal care then we send them to Love and Care Hospital for Animals in Behala and cover the cost for the same.

Question: Are these puppies allowed to be adopted?

Anushka: Yes, we actively encourage adopting stray puppies and kittens, we’ve gotten 5-8 cats adopted in the past, and a few pups as well.

Question: How do you raise funds?

Anushka: We raise our funds through the Facebook page, people inbox us and we collect their donations. We also have a donation box at Thek café in Ruby.

Question: How many breeds of puppies do you have? Do you name them, can you give some examples please?

Anushka: We are breed blind, we take care of any dog in need of help. We have quite a mixture of names. For example-Neckpiece, Nameless, Shiba, Kelo, Brownie, Jimmy, Chhutki, etc.

Question: What food is given to the dogs?

Anushka: The food we give to our regular dogs is rice and chicken.

Question: What about sick puppies? Do you contact vets regularly?

Anushka: For sick puppies, we usually treat them with our medicinal experience if we can. Otherwise we call a vet and then follow his/her instructions. If sustained medical care is required, the dog is sent to the hospital.

Question: What plans for the future?

Answer: In the near future we plan to raise funds for sterilising more dogs on CIT road and near Sudder road and also for vaccinating more strays against Rabies this year.

Dogs are man’s best friend. They will never betray you and will always be faithful to you, no matter what. If you want to help these beautiful, loyal four legged bundles of joy, please follow Anushka Das on her FaceBook Page ’It’s a Dog’s life.’
Here is the link to her page:
 https://www.facebook.com/pg/dogredeemers/photos/?ref=page_internal

 

Policy: Planet First

By Dipti Jha

On June 1, 2017 the President of the United States of America Donald Trump, announced the that the U.S.A would conclude all participation in the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that was signed between China, Germany, India, Japan and 190 other countries which had also included the United States of America up until the 1st of this month. The President also stated that he was still open to negotiating for “a better deal.”

President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement has caused much international outrage with France, Germany and Italy stating in unequivocal terms that “the Paris agreement cannot be renegotiated since it is a vital instrument for our planet, societies and economies.maxresdefault

Following his decision to exit from the Paris Climate Agreement, President Donald Trump has been on the receiving end of much critique from both American leaders and the regular American citizens as well. Elon Musk,the founder of Tesla Motors, PayPal and SpaceX, who also served on a number of advisory councils for CEO’s at the White House, proclaimed his decision of “departing presidential councils.” He added, “Climate Change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.” Following the same line of protest, Robert Iger, CEO of Disney, said “as a matter of principle, I’ve resigned from the President’s Council over the Paris Agreement withdrawal.”

The reaction from the regular American citizens with regard to the President’s decision has also been incendiary, and people in New York City came out in large numbers for an organised Climate March vowing to honour America’s role in the Paris Agreement, despite the President’s decision.Screenshot (15)

While President Trump may deem the United States’ withdrawal beneficial for the American fossil fuel industry, he cannot remain deluded about the fact that this withdrawal threatens to isolate America so far as global coalition is concerned as other world leaders have made it very clear that they remain committed to their respective parts in the Paris Agreement. However, the USA’s decision will have dire global impact.

For one, it will cause an obvious slowdown in the fight against global warming and climate change; public health will be affected as a result of a dearth in clean energy resources. This will invariably fuel global exasperation and resentment against the United States’ decision.

Moreover, the President’s decision potentially jeopardizes the American economy for, by withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, America is sending out a clear message to clean energy companies that they should locate their business elsewhere.

Other world leaders however, have chosen not to remain oblivious to the reality that is climate change and are trying to economically leverage and explore their domestic markets for clean energy resources. India has committed to selling only electric cars by 2030 while China and Europe are already vying for leadership role on clean energy.

In a world, where we are trying to fight global warming and climate change every day, in a world where we need to step up for our planet, and compensate for the immense destruction we’ve already caused to it, no nation, no leader, can dodge their moral responsibility by adopting a ‘my nation first’ policy. And if they do, other nations, other leaders must realise the more significant and proportionate role they have to fulfill and adopt a ‘my planet first’ policy by all means.

India vs Pakistan ICC Champions Trophy

By Juliana Pasker

India beat Pakistan by 124 runs (D/L) in their first game of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston. Earlier, India were invited to bat first by Pakistan and after a slow start, openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan put on 136-run stand before Dhawan was dismissed for 68. Then Kohli took over and with Rohit carried on the innings. Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh continued from where both openers left and powered the defending champions to 319/3. In reply, Umesh Yadav and Co. struck at regular intervals as Sarfraz Ahmed’s men got bundled out for 164. images(5).jpg

India scored 319/3(48) while Pakistan scored 164/9(33.4). India won by 124 runs.

Virat Kohli-led India will now face Sri Lanka on June 8 while Pakistan will be up against South Africa on June 7.

ISC TOPPER 2017- ANANYA MAITY

By Juliana Pasker

Kolkata’s Ananya Maity emerged as the topper in the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) ISC (Class 12) board exam on Monday. A student of the Heritage School, Maity scored 99.5% to lead the list of toppers.

Her school principal, Seema Sapru, said Ananya has a flair for the arts and creative writing. “She is a very mature and well-behaved girl. She takes part in a lot of activities which involve writing. I have known her for the last nine years, and she is a good student. I am on cloud nine today,” she said.

Ananya, daughter of physician Chinmoy Kumar Maity, wants to pursue psychology in college. “I am really happy with the result. I did not expect to top the ISC,”

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Ananya Maity,ISC topper 2017

“I don’t think there is any ‘key to success’. It’s different for everyone. If I told you I studied for 10 hours every day, that would be a lie,” Maity told reporters at a press conference.

When asked how she’d prepared for the Board exams, Maity quipped that she’d studied and written her tests like any other student.

“I didn’t do anything spectacular,” she quipped and her candid response elicited smiles from those present.
The teenager said she was shocked by her results and while she’d worked hard, she hadn’t expected to be the national topper.

Maity, who studied Humanities at Heritage School, also revealed that she has never taken extra coaching in her life and thanked her parents and teachers for their constant support.

Besides devoting long hours to preparing for the exam and writing stories and poems, she loves to play the piano.

Terror attack jolts London

By Juliana Pasker

Late on Saturday night a white van struck pedestrians on the London Bridge, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said in a statement. The suspects then left the vehicle and “a number of people were stabbed, including an on-duty British Transport Police officer who was responding to the incident at London Bridge,” said Rowley. The officer received serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Police fired an “unprecedented” 50 bullets to kill the three London Bridge terrorists because they believed the attackers were wearing suicide belts, the country’s head of counter-terrorism said.

At least seven people have been killed and 48 injured in a terror attack in central London, with police shooting three suspected assailants dead.

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Eyewitnesses reported panic as the incidents unfolded in the vicinity of a major transport hub and in an area packed with restaurants and bars. The London Ambulance Service said at least 48 people were taken to five hospitals, with many more treated at the scene.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said a member of the public also received a gunshot wound in the hail of bullets from the eight officers. Out of the 48 injured 21 are in critical condition.

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One of the victims was a Canadian national, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Another was French, according to the French foreign ministry.

The Prime Minister said, “we are confident about the fact that they were radical Islamist terrorists, the way they were inspired, and we need to find out more about where this radicalisation came from.”

She said Britain’s terror threat level, which currently stands at severe, had not been increased to its highest level of critical because authorities believed ‘that they have got all the main perpetrators’

Is “Dangal” back in theatres? Read to know more.

By Deepshika De

Geeta Phogat- Does the name ring a bell? Well, it probably does if you have watched Dangal. Geeta Phogat is a free style wrestler who won India’s first gold medal in the Commonwealth games in 2010 and she has never looked back since then. She came into the limelight when she won the Gold medal at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship held in Jalandhar, Punjab in 2009.

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Amir Khan played Mahavir Singh Phogat in the movie(right)

Geeta comes from a small village in Haryana, the village is known as Balali and exists in the district of Bhiwani. Her father Mahavir Singh Phogat(the role played by Amir Khan in Dangal) was a former wrestler himself, he was also a recipient of the Dronocharya award. Mahavir Singh Phogat had four daughters including Geeta. He also took care of his brother’s daughters as his brother had died earlier on in a land dispute. Mahavir had trained all these six girls in the art of wrestling, and was a very successful coach.
Geeta was the first Indian woman to take part in the Olympics (2012), that were held in London. Although she lost to Tetyana Lazareva of Ukraine,it did not deter her from trying over and over again.Her spirit was unbreakable and unbendable, she carried on with steady determination, and her zeal for wrestling.
In the 2012 World Wrestling Championships held in Canada, Phogat won the bronze medal. Geeta believed in hard work and perseverance which were values her father had instilled in her from the time she had first started training under him. The book, ‘Akhada: The Authorized Biography of Mahavir Singh Phogat’ sheds light on how exactly Geeta Phogat, who became the first Indian wrestler to win the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2010, was trained by her father.

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Geeta Phogat with her gold medal in the commonwealth games,2010

Geeta has commented on how her father’s character completely changed, when he would train them. She said” Papa became a completely different person as a coach. Earlier, he loved spending time and playing with us. Since his wrestling days, he was in the habit of exercising in the morning and he would often take us along, challenging us to race him. His strong, bulky body would never fail him in sprints, leaving us far behind. Back at home, he would talk to us and play pranks on us. But all this stopped when he took to coaching. His jokes and pranks were replaced by commands and reprimands.” One of the Phogat daughters commented ’The cycle of wrestle-eat-sleep-repeat seemed never-ending at the time.”
In the 2013 Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in Johannesberg, Geeta Phogat finished second and won a silver medal in the women’s free style 59 kg category. At the 2015 Asian Wrestling Championships in Doha, Phogat finished third, winning the bronze medal in the freestyle 58 kg category along with Aiym Abdildina of Kazakhstan.
In 2016, November Geeta Phogat married Delhi based wrestler, Pawan Kumar. It is a match made in heaven, as both are athletically inclined and fiercely competitive.
In 2016,Dangal the movie based on Mahavir Phogat’s life focuses on the hardships Geeta and her sisters had to face, as they were female wrestlers in a man’s world. The role of Mahavir Phogat is played brilliantly by Amir Khan. The role of adult Geeta Phogat is played by Fatima Shana Sheik while the role of young Geeta Phogat is played by Zaira Wasmin, both have done justice to their roles. This movie has changed people’s attitude to girls participating in sports.

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The cast of the movie “Dangal”  with Mahavir Singh Phogat(center)

This is what Geeta Phogat has to say about opportunity for women wrestlers in India,” “Before Babita and my win at the CommonWealth Games, nobody used to take Indian women wrestlers seriously. But, in last few years, a number of wrestling institutes have opened especially for girls and parents are keen on getting their daughters enrolled. Now there are more opportunities. I remember during our early years we had to wrestle against boys because there were no girls to train with.”(Babita is Geeta’s sister.)
At 28 years ,Geeta Phogat or rather ’Greeat’a Phogat reminds us women, not only to exist in a man’s world but thrive passionately in it. When she ‘falls’, she gets up again and starts running towards her goals to achieve the impossible because she believes, even ‘impossible’ is eventually I’m possible.
So no,Dangal isnt back in the theatres,but this article should certainly remind us of the grit and determination that catapulted the young Geeta to international fame and stardom.
Dangal,HO!

A Way Forward

By Dipti Jha

Not too long ago West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) declared the class 10 (Madhyamik) exam results. About 9,10,885 students passed the exam this year, rendering the state’s pass percentage to a whooping 85.05 percentage; however the efforts of some have been especially outstanding. Sukrity Sarkar is one such student, who first and foremost fought insurmountable odds just to be able to take her Madhyamik exams this year. She lost her father, who was a private bus driver by profession, in an unfortunate road accident in the year 2011. Soon after, in 2014, Sukrity’s mother Latika Sarkar, succumbed to cancer due to lack of proper medical treatment. Sukrity’s immediate family now only includes her younger sister who studies in Class VI.IMG_20170602_210206

In order to help her take her exams this year, some teachers from Balurghat’s Girls High School had extended their assistance along with some organisations like Child Line and Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Balurghat. However, despite fighting against all odds and scoring a remarkable 64 percentage in aggregate in her exam, which should finally have shown this bright, young and passionate girl some light at the end of a very dark tunnel, the situation is quite the contrary. Sukrity’s legal guardian Mamita Das Mandal has been quoted stating to a leading newspaper that they do not have any financial aid for Sukrity to be able to continue with her studies.
We urge you to kindly come forward and help Sukrity in her time of distress. A motivated girl like her is an inspiration for all of us and an asset for our country to move towards progress and be able to prosper.For those of you who would like to help her out, we have attached the link of the newspaper article that published her story. The newspaper is better placed to help you reach out to Sukrity’s aid.

Source: http://epaper.thestatesman.com/c/19503092

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Would you wear “Kantha” for your night out?-S.H.E.

BY DEEPSHIKA DE

‘SHE’-The word itself is extremely powerful. It signifies women in this male dominated age which is gradually changing and becoming more progressive for women. SHE stands for Self Help Enterprise and does justice to the name.The NGO was founded by Mrs. Shamlu Dudeja over thirty years ago. This NGO has revived kantha stitch which was a dying art and has transformed it into a fashion statement. What is even more amazing is the fact, that this art of ‘kantha’ stitching is practiced in rural villages by women who make a livelihood out of it.

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Founder,Mrs. Shamlu Dudeja (left)

 Over the years, professional kantha artisans have been going to villages to teach  willing rural women the nuances of ‘Kanthar Kaaj’. These professional artisans are called ‘team leaders ‘and they have been doing splendid work over time. These ‘team leaders’ commute between the SHE studio in Kolkata and the villages, giving the artisans fabrics, designs, threads and a visual picture of the final product. Colour palettes are discussed but the artisans are given the freedom to use their creativity  to use individualistic but marketable products. SHE is currently generating work for over 900 artisans  with the help of eight senior team leaders . The embroiders’s work timings is very flexible, and they  manage their handiwork along with the  their  domestic  duties. Often a group of women sit together and stitch while sharing their joys and sorrows of life.

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An exhibition in the presence of Mrs.Gursharan Kaur

There is a heart-warming story behind the creation of SHE. Shamlu Dudeja  suffered  from severe injuries for which she had to undergo serious operations, and had to give up her professorship in Maths.  She turned to her friends in the villages in distress and took an avid interest in ‘Kantha’. She became empathetic towards all the women in the villages who lead such difficult lives. Their problems helped her to see beyond her own problems. She began to understand their anguish and  anxiety, thus came the idea of an enterprise which would not only revive ‘Kantha’ but   would also make the rural women independent.

Very soon thereafter, a group of Kantha artisans were banded together to form SHE. Today after almost thirty years, ‘kantha’ has become ‘hot couture’ and SHE has helped to change numerous lives.

To commemorate Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, Shamlu worked with the SHE team leaders to translate a few of Tagore’s classics into Kantha panels. These included ‘’Kripon’’,’’Sahaj Path’’,’Chandalika’ and ‘Kabuliwallah.’ Hilary Clinton, on her visit to Kolkata was deeply impressed by stories of women’s empowerment and the sense of self-worth that Kantha has given them, over the years. Appreciatively Mrs. Clinton also bought a portrait of Tagore in Kantha for gifting to Bengal chief minister Ms.Mamta Banerjee.

In addition to women empowerment, SHE also does the following in villages:

*health camps and eye camps

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A health camp in progress

*loans for extension and repair of homes

*Distribution of items of daily use

*Medical support in surgeries, supply of medicines, crutches and glasses

*Nutritional drinks and vitamins

*Supply of water purifiers

*Supply of computers for older children.

*Installation of hand pumps in some villages of Bengal.

SandhyaPoddar, an active member of ‘SHE’  says:” I enjoy the ethical work atmosphere ,SHE makes me count  my blessings and makes me grateful for what I have.”

It is quite challenging to create an enterprise, which is successful not only on a commercial level, but on a humanitarian level as well. SHE has not only transformed ‘kantha’ into a fashion fad, but has also benefited 900 families while doing so, which is a tremendous achievement. SHE celebrates womanhood, as the powerful entity it is.

The link to their website-  http://www.sheindia.org/home.html