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BRINGING IN BAPPA HAND-IN-HAND

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BRINGING IN BAPPA HAND-IN-HAND

At a time, when controversies are making rounds regarding Ganesha festival celebrations in some places of Karnataka, Mandya has set a great example of communal harmony, where people from both Hindu and Muslim communities came together to celebrate the festival.

People celebrated the festival with full enthusiasm. They decorated the pandal with garlands and flowers. They also distributed food items and ‘prasad’ to all the attendees.

Mohamad Zakir, one of the local residents said that they want to give the message of communal harmony and they have been celebrating this festival for the last 17 years.

“Harmony and love are more important than any other communal thing, we wanted to establish the Ganesha idol and give a message to society. We are doing it for the last 17 years. There was not much communal atmosphere and Hindu Muslim issues earlier, it started only due to politics,” the local resident Zakir said.

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IIFA weekend and awards is back by popular demand

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IIFA weekend and awards is back by popular demand

The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Weekend & Awards, which brings together the very best of the Indian film industry, is back by popular demand in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, in February 2023 to win our hearts all over again! IIFA 2023 will be held in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Tourism-Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and Miral, Abu Dhabi’s leading creator of immersive destinations and experiences.
The comeback of the 22nd edition of IIFA this year at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, hosted by superstar Salman Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, and Maniesh Paul, featured electrifying performances by the finest talent from the Indian film fraternity, leaving us in awe with three memorable, star-studded days with packed venues filled by fans from all around the globe. The three-day awards weekend was attended by more than 350 media from 17 countries across the globe, and more than 20,000 people thronged the arena.
Back by popular demand from stakeholders, fans, and media from around the globe, the 23rd edition of IIFA will again be hosted at the world-class Etihad Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi—the Middle East’s largest state-of-the-art indoor entertainment venue in February 2023. The upcoming edition will be filled with even more magic and entertainment as we are set to witness Salman Khan, Varun Dhawan, Karan Johar, Kriti Sanon, and many more in attendance.
For many decades, India and Abu Dhabi have had strong cultural and commercial ties. IIFA Weekend & Awards will be a celebration of togetherness and positivity, returning to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and enhancing, strengthening, and building even stronger bonds. IIFA 2023 will be a grand celebration of the best talent in Indian cinema, bringing together global dignitaries, international media, fans, and film enthusiasts worldwide. To present a greater opportunity for long-term impact in tourism, business & trade, and the film production business for the destination. 
Noreen Khan, Vice President of IIFA, said, “IIFA this year was an amazing experience thanks to the wonderful partners Miral and DCT. Coming after two years, we really worked hard to deliver the very best of live entertainment again. The best part was that the entire weekend delivered a positive experience to everyone who witnessed or experienced the event in any way. We have been inundated with unprecedented appreciation and comments from everyone who truly had a wonderful time this year in Abu Dhabi, and so we are pleased and excited to bring it all back again, but with much more magic to come next year”.
With excitement increasing all over the world, people can now buy tickets to the biggest awards ceremony spanning over three days at https://www.etihadarena.ae/en/ from the 30 September 2022. The price range begins from 100 AED going up to 1500 AED.
Home to magical adventures, awe-inspiring entertainment, three globally renowned theme parks, outstanding motorsports, an award-winning golf venue, and world-class hospitality services, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island is a destination like nowhere else.

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Over 30 machines pressed into service to beautify Dal Lake

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Over 30 machines pressed into service to beautify Dal Lake

The Dal Lake, a popular tourist attraction in Jammu and Kashmir, is all set to get a facelift and breathe again as authorities appear determined this time to remove the weeds engulfing a large part of the lake.
For the first time in several years, the Jammu and Kashmir Lake Conservation and Management Authority (LCMA) has pressed into service over two dozen machines to remove the weeds.
“There are two types of weeds. One is being controlled due to the presence of some species, and the other is being removed completely,” said LCMA Vice-Chairman Bashir Ahmad Bhat.
Bhat said the one being removed completely had covered an area of 6.5 sq km and this process is likely to be completed by November this year.
To control the sewerage, the houseboats are being connected for the first time to the sewer line. “Around 920 houseboats will be connected to sewerage lines,” he said, adding that such a process will help keep the water body clean.

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The Indian art of giving away

There are ways and means to give and support, to care and to help. We must trust and believe, open our hearts and minds and do only as much as we wish to, or even nothing at all.

Priya Hajela

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The Indian art of giving away

Indians are not well known for their philanthropy, except when it comes to religion. But there are exceptions, and large ones. The Azim Premji Foundation is the best known, supporting causes ranging from Gender Justice to Constitutional Values and Democracy. Tata Trusts have been in the limelight in recent times, more for the upheaval at the top than for the work they do as one of the oldest philanthropic organisations in India, providing support and funding for sports, education, livelihood and so much more. A lesser known but equally prolific charitable organisation is the Reliance Foundation, known for its sports development programmes, arts, culture, and heritage programs, and so much more.
These big organisations are not alone. Almost every family-run organisation has a foundation that supports a myriad of social initiatives. All MNCs, public companies, and smaller companies also participate actively, as part of a mandatory CSR spend requirement by the Government of India.
Mandatory or not, almost all of these organisations support social welfare, finding ways to both fund NGOs and get their employee base involved in development sector initiatives as volunteers.
When it comes to individual giving, however, the story is quite different. In a recent study conducted by the Center for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University, 87% of households surveyed donated during the peak of the pandemic – 2020 and 2021. However, 70% of giving was directed towards religious organizations. A further 12% went to beggars, 9% to extended family and friends, and a paltry 5% to NGOs and other charitable organizations. As a comparison, in the US, 27% of charitable contributions in 2021 went to religious organizations, the remaining to a variety of social services.
So why don’t individuals give? Preeti Kher Dulat, a fifty-something ex-banker, began working with an organisation called Deeds for Needs, raising funds as needed right when Covid began. She says, “I have sent out an appeal and always get more than I asked for.” She also says that she only reaches out to people she knows. Preeti’s experience is that there is scepticism among people about where the contribution is going. “Where religion is involved, people think the money will be used properly, even though they have no idea what’s happening to that money,” she says.
It is only in recent times that people in India are experiencing a feeling of abundance, of having more than they can use. The older generations are still hoarding, saving for a rainy day, saving for retirement, and other commonly quoted claims. They are not wrong in feeling the way they do. Their instincts have been honed over a long time, when salaries were miniscule, taxes on businesspeople were sometimes as high as 90%, and goods and services as basic as a phone line were only possible with a bribe and long waiting periods. The fact that there is a massive disparity in income across the country is something that neither strikes nor bothers many people.
Yet, Preeti can collect thousands and even lakhs of rupees from people who are distant from their causes but not from their faith in Preeti.
Parul Vaidya is the CEO of the Pune Chapter of Social Venture Partners (SVP), a foundational program for current and aspiring philanthropists. SVP connects donors, non-profits, and social enterprises for greater impact, together. Parul says, ‘People who have the capacity to give should.’ She says that she has never been apologetic about asking people to join SVP and contribute. It is our moral responsibility to do something before more people go the wrong way. “How long can we think that the pain and despair are not going to come to our house?” “How long can we think about the petty theft and other crimes that people with no regular livelihood sometimes resort to?”
Parul is of the mind that a ‘giving nature’ is increasing in our society, that increasingly, people want to give, to help but don’t know how to. But she also admits that one of the main reasons individuals don’t give to NGOs is because there is a deep-rooted scepticism about such organizations, primarily because most of the reporting about NGOs is about things gone wrong. No one talks about NGOs that are doing excellent work, improving lives, even saving lives. Much of that has to do with the fact that NGOs don’t market enough, most don’t have the skills to do so. Moreover, positive and uplifting stories rarely make it through the thick fog of accusatory wrongdoing.
So, what do people who want to make a difference but don’t have a Preeti or a Parul in their lives do? There are other ways to contribute. Those ruled more by the head than the heart can invest in companies operating in the social sector instead of funding NGOs. There is good work being done by start-ups in the fields of education, healthcare, and mental health. Unfortunately,some causes, such as those related to support for the disabled, cannot be run as social enterprises, they run exclusively on donations and grants.
In recent times, governments around the world have turned to Social Stock Exchanges – a way to raise capital for the development sector. They have also begun piloting Social Impact Bonds, a private-public partnership to provide outcome-based funding for public welfare projects. These innovative concepts are in their early stages, and it remains to be seen whether they will provide the development sector the support it needs while making it easier for people to make a difference.
There are ways and means to give and support, to care and to help. We must trust and believe, open our hearts and minds and do only as much as we wish to, or even nothing at all.

Priya Hajela is the author of Ladies’ Tailor, published by Harper Collins India.

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Raj Kundra writes to CBI claiming innocence in porn case

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Raj Kundra, Shilpa Shetty’s husband, approached the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to claim his innocence in the pornography case in which he was arrested last year. Raj expanded on his letter to the central agency on Twitter and wrote, “A handful of corrupt individuals spoil the name of the whole organisation. It’s just a matter of time now! #CBI #Enquiry #mediatrial #truth #corruption.”

On one year of his bail in the same case, Raj Kundra had tweeted earlier, “One Year Today released from #ArthurRoad Its a matter of time Justice will be served! The truth will be out soon! Thank you, well-wishers and a bigger thank you to the trollers you make me stronger (folded hands emoji).” His posts were also accompanied by hashtags such as inquiry, word, media trial, and trollers.

According to reports, Raj Kundra claims that he was set up in the case by “senior officers of the Mumbai Crime Branch.” He has requested that the case be investigated. Raj allegedly claimed in his letter, “I have lived in silence for one year; ripped apart by a media trial and spent 63 days in Arthur Road Jail. I seek justice from the courts, which I know I will get, and I humbly request an investigation against these officers.”

Raj had previously filed an application with a Mumbai magistrate’s court to be released from the case. According to sources, police found no evidence that Raj gained any monetary or another type of gain from the alleged offence, and the prosecution has not attributed to him any intent to commit an offence, according to the application. Raj Kundra was arrested in the case in July 2021 and later released on bail after more than two months.

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Saudi Arabia introduces yoga in universities

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A virtual introductory lecture on yoga was organised for all Saudi university representatives across the kingdom to spread awareness and motivate its practice as a lifestyle for all segments of society.
The lecture, organised on Monday, aimed to introduce both traditional yoga and yogasana sports to Saudi universities and give a variety of options to the students on university campuses to practice yoga, the Saudi Gazette reported. The lecture covered both mental and physical health and plans to attend professional yoga sports training to be part of competitions locally and internationally.
In cooperation with the Saudi Universities Sports Federation (SUSF), the Saudi Yoga Committee organised the event in Riyadh.
The Saudi Gazette reported that the event came within the framework of an integrated system of programmes and initiatives of the Saudi Committee for Yoga, under the title “Yoga for University Students of Both Genders.”
The event coincided with the arrival of the first yoga delegation to the Kingdom from the Asian Yogasana Sports Federation in India for the qualification course for the first Saudi batch of yoga referees, the report added.
The event included issues concerning the benefits of yoga for health and physical well-being in youth, yogasana sports for tournaments and competitions, and requirements for professional yoga training. It also included the technical regulations of the Saudi Yoga Committee for Championships and Competitions in Saudi Universities.
The lecture, which motivated the youth to join professional yoga training, also shed light on the system of professional yogasana competitions within university sports and the university league.
Nouf Almarwaai, President of the Saudi Yoga Committee, said that the committee seeks to achieve its vision of spreading yoga on a large scale within Saudi society. “Therefore it took the initiative to cooperate with the Saudi Universities Sports Federation in order to build a generation of yoga lovers, especially young people, to enjoy physical and mental health.”
 Almarwaai said that the committee seeks to increase the number of practitioners and build yoga teams that participate in local and regional yoga championships.  

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Astronomers map distances in the largest-ever catalog to 56,000 galaxies

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Astronomers have assembled the largest-ever compilation of high-precision galaxy distances, called Cosmicflows-4.
Galaxies, such as the Milky Way, are the building blocks of the universe, each comprised of up to several hundred billion stars. Galaxies beyond our immediate neighbourhood are rushing away, faster if they are more distant, which is a consequence of the expansion of the universe that began at the moment of the Big Bang. Measurements of the distances of galaxies, coupled with information about their velocities away from us, determine the scale of the universe and the time that has elapsed since its birth.
“Since galaxies were identified as separate from the Milky Way a hundred years ago, astronomers have been trying to measure their distances,” said Tully, adding, “Now, by combining our more accurate and abundant tools, we are able to measure the distances of galaxies and the related expansion rate of the universe and the time since the universe was born.”

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