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CatFit presents ‘Tryst with Destiny’ Rising Back from a crisis with entrepreneur Pooja Bedi

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NewsX recently carried out a special show- ‘Tryst With Destiny’ Rising Back From A Crisis With Pooja Bedi, presented by CatFit. This series provided a holistic conversation about mental health, challenges faced in life and how to come out of it stronger, with anecdotes from Pooja Bedi’s life. This discussion targeted how to deal with adversities in life and the different coping skills required to overcome those challenges.

NewsX was joined by Arpan Dixit, Global Head, CatFit, Shefali Chopra, TEDx speaker and Storyteller, CatFit and entrepreneur Pooja Bedi, for this special episode, ‘Tryst With Destiny’ Rising Back From A Crisis With Pooja Bedi.

In her inaugural address, Pooja Bedi spoke about her mental and emotional crisis which drained her and how she came out of it. She said, “It’s very easy to look at an exterior, like a film family and put a bracket around it and stereotype people while saying what an easy life. Having said that, we’re all human beings, whatever it is that we go through, we through as a human being going through life and being a star child is actually very difficult because your life is public domain. There’s a lot of trauma associated with the fact that parents may have had relationships or are divorced and that becomes public fodder. One goes through challenges in terms of emotional challenges, for example, I was sexually molested in my teenage years by my stepfather, so those are human experiences you go through and rise from. An emotional experience for me would be, from the age of 27 to the time I was 32, I think I lost everything that was important to me in my life. I lost the man who raised me, my Nani passed away, my dog passed away and my mother died in a landslide, my brother committed suicide because he was schizophrenic. My marriage broke up, I had two small children and in addition to that I was starting off life with no income once again. I started writing columns for 4,000 rupees for Midday, trying to get my life back together again. These are huge challenges from 27-32 when you’re just developing your own sense of identity, going out there in the world and figuring things out. It’s a huge setback to lose every support system known to you at that point of time and still be positive. When people saw me, I never cried and lamented, I did in private when I cried and let it all out because it’s very important to never suppress thing but to experience it. The idea is what is the bigger picture, I could wallow in what has happened, I can look back at the past and wail. At the end of the day, it’s my life and these are my choices as to what happens to me doesn’t define me but my attitude towards what happened to me defines me. It’s not exclusive to me, everybody will lose a parent or go through a failed relationship, everybody goes through professional challenges and ups and downs, it’s called the journey of life. How I choose to embrace my challenges, rise from it, be stronger as a result of it, those are my choices. It’s up to me how I handle a crisis, whether I allow myself to be scarred by it, be bitter about it or to be better because of it”.


When the CatFit team goes to schools, they find a lot of children, male and female who have been molested or violated and result in suicidal tendencies or going into a shell. Giving out a message for such children, Pooja said, “I think it’s very important to take away stigma and shame from that. If you don’t attach stigma or shame to it, a child will go in a shell. It’s important to tell people to speak up, to tell children they have a right and they must speak up. I believe statistics say that almost 80% of sexual abuse cases take place with somebody known to the victim. It’s necessary to speak up and there are so many times families tend to push it aside because it’s somebody known and they don’t want to create a family drama or create an unpleasantness within the family but I’m sorry, if someone is a bad person, they need to be highlighted, spotlighted and everybody needs to keep their kids away from them. It’s important to turn around and make a statement, mothers should not accept the fact that their child is a rapist and go stand up for him but give him two tight slaps and say how dare you violate the integrity and dignity of a woman. It is women who need to stand up for other women whether it’s mother-in-law’s who may have to tell you to abort a female fetus and are put through the trauma because the family wants a boy. Women have to stand up for women and if there is a case where people are looking the other way, that means a woman is involved and that is so unfortunate”.


Speaking about the mantra and where her resilience to rise back comes from, Pooja said, “Basically my parents really led by example, they had really rebellious lives, they went out there and fought conventions and defy a whole bunch of stuff. These days your trolls are available and the type of media on you in every possible way. I think watching them say if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen, the fact is you choose to go down a path. Take responsibility for yourself, your actions. It’s important to understand that every single thing in life is your choice, every decision that surrounds you, so you look at your life with a lot of gratitude and at yourself with a lot of appreciation. If you’ve made bad choices, then turn around and make some good choices. I think resilience also comes from a sense of self-worth, a lot of people don’t feel good enough and they accept the bad that is happening in their life because they feel they can get no better or they can do more and that they don’t deserve more in their lives. It’s very important to develop self-worth and that must be inculcated since childhood, we’re so used to telling people off and putting children down, be like so and so, do better, strive for these marks. Comparing children and motivating them only for success, making them feel less like they haven’t done their best or they’re not well rounded enough and all sorts of pressure is put on them. We need to build their self-worth, not in an overconfident, bratty way but true inner self-worth, where they believe that if they put in their time and effort for something, it will be of good use and generate value and great results. We all have these programs, limiting belief systems that we’ve all been programmed with, break out of them. Which belief system doesn’t work for you, let go of those systems instead of holding on because of a sense of identity, if it’s not serving you, it doesn’t belong in your life or space. Most importantly, gratitude, count your blessings and at every point, you feel victimized, turn around and count your blessings, the good things in life. If you fill your life with positivity, it gives you the strength to go forward as you realize your blessings and face any adversity better at that point of time. The stupidest things that we take for granted around us, emotional, material, mental, be grateful. What very important in life is passion, to have passion for something, everything else becomes inconsequential. When you have a goal and focus, you will do what you want in life and whatever happens along the way, you deal with it because you’re focused on where you’re going”.
Talking about her highest and lowest point so far, Pooja said, “When you’re going a crisis, it’s the worst because nothing in life feels as bad as that moment. At that moment, everything is paramount and everything has its place. When you look back in hindsight you realize, if you can go back in time and just tell yourself that everything is going to be okay and you’ll come out stronger. Whenever I’m going through any crisis, I think of my future self, coming back to give me a hug and say that everything will be fine”.


Speaking about her take on teaching psychological and mental health at schools, colleges or workplaces, Pooja said, “I think it’s extremely important to give children coping skills. As we know the world is getting smaller due to technology, the access to all the information can be used and misused. So many kids are addicted to these devices, they’re just engaged and don’t have any outside coping skills and are immersed in their screens. The fact is, this is the new generation, it’s their life, this will be their reality. So, our job isn’t to ask them to not do it because it is their world and if they do, they’ll be disconnected with a future that is impending. I would ask parents and schools to give the children coping skills to deal with the fact that we are human, going through a robotic space in so many ways and where is the emotional quotient leading to your mental quotient and strengthening that. We should give our children emotional, social, interpersonal, financial skills, teach them more and send them outdoors. How to heal, how to be better human beings and not shut off, how to handle a crisis, how to speak up, to develop personality and body language are things which are very important”.


The CatFit team has Special Forces and NSG commandos who go to schools, colleges, universities, corporates. Speaking about her closest experience with the defence personnel, Pooja said, “Firstly, I was in a military boarding school, it took a lot of mental toughness. I was surrounded by kids from the armed forces because the school catered to that entire demographic on a large scale. Second, my fiancé’s father, who was a Captain of the Indian Navy and Arjuna awardee. The kind of experiences he shared about the Navy, how incredible his journey was with the armed forces was very heartening. The armed forces care of their own and the courage, respect, care within their circle in very phenomenal”.


Talking about people finding their inner strength out of their comfort zone, Pooja said, “We always say that we developed our inner strength and toughness because we came out of our tough times and that teaches us a lot about us. Your greatest tormentor is your greatest teacher because the tormentor is teaching you so much about yourself and somebody that you despise with all your heart may be a hero to someone else. So, the person isn’t bad, your equation with them is. You need to figure out what is it that went wrong between the two of you or what is dysfunctional about you and that person. The part of you that believes in the dysfunction is what perpetuates it and it’s important to turn around and take responsibility to every relationship, good and bad, to thank those people who sometimes need to come into our lives to teach us a hard truth and thank them for teaching you a lesson”.
Life skills are the most important skills and talking about which skills she believes should be a part of student’s lives and work culture, Pooja said, “The most important thing to teach everyone is the importance of holistic wellness. Unfortunately, wellness is only seen as physical and nowadays mental wellness is coming into the picture. However, there’s also emotional, spiritual, sexual, financial and social wellness, all these different forms are intrinsic to our proper functioning and if one of these is out of balance, a large part of us is dysfunctional. It’s important to us to, firstly, in schools, colleges, workplace to introduce the concept at every point of holistic wellness. Second, self-worth. Teach people to stand up for themselves, not accept nonsense, bullying, to have the strength of purpose and integrity. It’s extremely important to emphasize integrity, it’s okay to make a mistake but not lie about it. Also, in terms of coping skills, to have certain forums in place between the sexes, how to interact, work and live with the opposite sex. You need to have this at all levels and you need education regarding this because of the many myths surrounding it and issues surrounding it. There are so many mental phobias and fears around it, people are scared to work with women in the workplace now because they might get accused of sexual harassment, misuse the law. I think all this leads to a very unhealthy environment in the workplace, it’s important to educate people how to use and not misuse the law, how to treat the opposite gender with the utmost respect at all levels”.


Psychologists at CatFit have done research on mental health and they’ve put forward their findings. Sharing that body of work, Arpan said, “Last year, four of our psychologists were a part of the Government of India’s study and the whole idea was to find out the impact of Covid-19 on mental health. This will give everyone an idea of what it does to a person’s mind, mental, psychological and emotional health. Six fields were undertaken, teachers, parents, doctors, policemen and the Corona warriors to identify what was happening inside the brains of these people. It was an extensive study, six books have been published in the field by the Government, this is for posterity. Now, on the basis of this study, we can go back and will be in a perfect position to find out what kind of depression levels, stress, anxiety, emotional issues or levels of resilience they had. How to ensure that they have better coping with adversity skills. So, these are some of things we managed to bring out through this study and this is what we will pass over to the people once the restrictions are lesser”.


Speaking about weaving storytelling dimension to mental health and its response and success, Shefali said, “Initially when I started, there weren’t many takers but now I realize people are opening their minds to it because one story can change many lives. These stories aren’t community-based but they travel from country to country. When there are stories regarding strength, self-worth and talk about illnesses and breaking the mental shackles, I have stories to do with it. People will always remember these stories and their impact. Schools must take storytelling as a serious subject because they really transform people. The stories with regard to strength, it creates an impact and is unbelievable how a story can lives”.


Pooja added, “It’s all about your mind and how strong your mind is. Martina Navratilova said ‘The game of life is played in the six inches between your ears’. It’s all happening in your mind and strengthen your mind is, is on you. How you program yourself, reprogram yourself is all up to you. You have all the tools available, incredible psychologists, incredible teams, the Internet to research how to do that, how to go about changing certain aspects of yourself and getting the mental strength required and need to have an amazing life which you deserve. I think that’s the most important thing we should share today, is to tell people the power to change life is with them and it is their choice to stay where they are, or to move on and ahead, going from strength to strength”.

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ELVISA COSMETICS LAUNCHED TO PROVIDE PERSONALISED BEAUTY EXPERIENCE

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Renowned International model Elvisa has recently launched her new venture Elvisa cosmetics. Elvisa revealed she’s been working on the brand for the past few years and that her friends and family have been testing out the products. Amongst its many firsts, the Elvisa Cosmetics offers an innovative range of different makeup products including different shades of foundations, lipsticks, primer, and other beauty essentials where you can mix and match to create your desired signature shade in trendy tones. Besides personalised skincare consultations from beauty advisors, the brand also offers mini makeovers and makeup tutorials by Elvisa that consist of diamond lips, smokey eyes, charcoal glitter lids, golden glam eye shadow, sculpt and contour, tips to get perfect eyebrows and iconic eyeliner looks. The various categories of products have been divided into convenient sections enabling shoppers to pick their favourites with ease. Commenting on the launch, Elvisa, CEO, Elvisa Cosmetics said, “We are thrilled to launch our first-ever cosmetic range for the most diverse women across the world. We are extremely delighted with the response we are getting for our unique products. With this launch we are also unlocking the potential of our online store to create an endless aisle shopping experience for our loyal customers and deepen our bond with them.” Currently, she has an online family of 721K followers on her Instagram page. She loves to experiment with her clothes, it’s colour shades. She loves to travel and keeps her social media handle regularly updates about her whereabouts. She loves pink, black and brown colours and we can see her trying on different attires of these particular shades. The latter has earlier been seen on various fashion runways and shows flaunting her unique clothing style and walk. She started her journey on Instagram, a photo and video sharing online app which has given a breakthrough to numerous fashion icons. “I wanted to start my own cosmetics line because I want to build my own unique brand and leave a legacy behind. My goal wasn’t to always wear brands, it was to become one.”

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Marks & Spencer showcases India Festive Fusion collection

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Celebrating the festive season in style, the iconic British brand Marks & Spencer presented their latest collection, India special occasion wear in a fashion show in New Delhi. Bollywood celebrity Neha Dhupia was seen on the ramp as the showstopper, who looked stunning as ever. The new mom was mesmerising in a deep green embroidered round neck dress with contrast colour paisley print. Accompanying her on the ramp was her handsome actor husband Angad Bedi, looking dapper in velvet teal peak label blazer, black shirt and versatile dark trousers from the new occasion wear collection. Neha, who delivered a baby boy earlier this month, looked tres chic in the India Festive Fusion collection. The actor, being the popular body positive advocate, chose a relaxed fit dress and walked the ramp with no qualms about her post-partum body. Commenting on the newly launched collections, James Munson, MD, Marks & Spencer India said, “Designed in response to an increasing desire among customers for chic outfits that can work hard in their wardrobes, the latest collections can be dressed up for an occasion or paired down for daily wear. Neha looks absolutely fantastic in the collection, especially after recently welcoming her new arrival. It’s great to have her and Angad join M&S this evening,” he further added about the show and showstoppers. Talking about her association with the brand, Neha was ecstatic as she shared, “Marks & Spencer has been a constant in my wardrobe for over a decade now. From my early days, M&S was my go-to for must-haves and fashion staples, and now I am wearing their India special occasion wear. I also love the evening wear for men, like what Angad is wearing. The brand never fails to surprise and delight, and I am glad to be a part of M&S event once again.” Angad added “Evening wear for Indian men from M&S is a sartorial treat. Some pieces like the Bandgala and Bandi jackets are a great addition to their existing product range. This collection helps make dressing up for any occasion easy.” The fashion show tossed up must-have pieces like elevated flowing dresses, chic pant suits, beautiful tops on female models. Male models wore opulent velvet bandh galas, dinner jackets, waistcoats, premium shirts in rich sateen and ornate prints, exquisitely tailored trousers and top-notch polo t-shirts. The presentation also showcased a combination of smart autumn-winter, loungewear and festive fare, as a part of this special celebratory fashion repertoire.

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Drone Spraying in Sangli Sugarcane Cultivation, entrepreneur introduces new trends in MH Agriculture

Social impact entrepreneur Prateek Patil has implemented a line of drone technology for spraying fertilisers which has already covered 3,200 acres of sugarcane area benefiting over 2,000 farmers in Walwa, Sangli.

Sangli District has been grounds for pioneering agriculture and irrigation works in Western Maharashtra. From the cooperative movement to drip irrigation, innovation has been a sign of the cultivation in the region. The drone spraying technology introduced by Prateek and adopted by the Rajarambapu Sugar Factory in Sangli in 2020-2021 has not only reduced time and efforts of the farmers but also increasedprofitability. To launch this initiative, Prateek conducted 22 ‘Shetkari Parisamvads’ where he met over 4,900 farmers to incept the idea and talk about the benefits of this technology. According to him, “acceptance to new methods is often the most difficult step in the Indian agricultural landscape, and to get their willingness to try new schemes is one of the challenging parts.”

Prateek has been involved with agro-innovation and has conducted several initiatives to aid and propagate drip irrigation. These meetings across Sangli propelled the conversation and attracted many farmers to come and test out the drone technology.

SAVING TIME, MONEY AND WATER

Conventionally the farmer sprays his crops physically. Even with hired manual labour, this is a costly and time-consuming affair. In the manual spraying method, for one-acre sugarcane, a farmer would spend around Rs 1000 on spraying labour charges along with 200 L water and a higher quantity of chemicals.

To address these problems, coupled with the lack of labourers during Covid-19, Prateek decided to introduce this technique. He took it upon himself to test the technology and setup a partnership with a regional manufacturing company. The drones are given out on rent at very affordable rates saving almost 40% of total costs. It utilises only 10 L water, saving almost 150 L. Also, now it takes only 5-10 mins to spray fertilisers and permitted pesticides on one acre of sugarcane as opposed to 4-5 hours earlier. Crops at any height can be effectively reached and 4 nozzles guarantee a comprehensive and equal distribution of fertilisers and pesticides.

It is flexible across climate conditions and allows for uniform spraying of entire fields. A reduction of 25-50% in the quantity of fertilisers and pesticides used has been observed after adapting drone spraying and the quality of yield of crops has been found to increase by 20-30%, which has resulted in more income.

GENERATING EMPLOYMENT

Use of this drone technology also has an additional advantage of generating employment for the local youth in manufacturing and operations. The Sugar Factory has partnered with a company called Chatak Innovations for assembling and operating drones. Labour force hiring for the drone operation facility like Drone Pilots & Co-Pilots, Cars & Drivers for the drone’s transport and the supervision team is facilitated under the leadership of Prateek. Employment numbers for assembling and operating is expected to increase as more farmers adopt drone technology.

Currently, the factory uses a 10 L Octocopter drone. After conducting an initial pilot, this technology is being introduced on a greater scale to farmers of the region. Till date, over 3,200 acres of area have been covered by drone spraying benefiting over 2000 farmers of the region. Each drone is currently covering 9 to 12 acres in a day and this is a first-of-its-kind exercise conducted by a sugar factory in Maharashtra, stated Vikas Deshmukh, Director, Vasantdada Sugar Institute.

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Social impact entrepreneur Prateek Patil has implemented a line of drone technology for spraying fertilisers which has already covered 3,200 acres of sugarcane area benefiting over 2,000 farmers in Walwa, Sangli.

Sangli District has been grounds for pioneering agriculture and irrigation works in Western Maharashtra. From the cooperative movement to drip irrigation, innovation has been a sign of the cultivation in the region. The drone spraying technology introduced by Prateek and adopted by the Rajarambapu Sugar Factory in Sangli in 2020-2021 has not only reduced time and efforts of the farmers but also increasedprofitability. To launch this initiative, Prateek conducted 22 ‘Shetkari Parisamvads’ where he met over 4,900 farmers to incept the idea and talk about the benefits of this technology. According to him, “acceptance to new methods is often the most difficult step in the Indian agricultural landscape, and to get their willingness to try new schemes is one of the challenging parts.”

Prateek has been involved with agro-innovation and has conducted several initiatives to aid and propagate drip irrigation. These meetings across Sangli propelled the conversation and attracted many farmers to come and test out the drone technology.

SAVING TIME, MONEY AND WATER

Conventionally the farmer sprays his crops physically. Even with hired manual labour, this is a costly and time-consuming affair. In the manual spraying method, for one-acre sugarcane, a farmer would spend around Rs 1000 on spraying labour charges along with 200 L water and a higher quantity of chemicals.

To address these problems, coupled with the lack of labourers during Covid-19, Prateek decided to introduce this technique. He took it upon himself to test the technology and setup a partnership with a regional manufacturing company. The drones are given out on rent at very affordable rates saving almost 40% of total costs. It utilises only 10 L water, saving almost 150 L. Also, now it takes only 5-10 mins to spray fertilisers and permitted pesticides on one acre of sugarcane as opposed to 4-5 hours earlier. Crops at any height can be effectively reached and 4 nozzles guarantee a comprehensive and equal distribution of fertilisers and pesticides.

It is flexible across climate conditions and allows for uniform spraying of entire fields. A reduction of 25-50% in the quantity of fertilisers and pesticides used has been observed after adapting drone spraying and the quality of yield of crops has been found to increase by 20-30%, which has resulted in more income.

GENERATING EMPLOYMENT

Use of this drone technology also has an additional advantage of generating employment for the local youth in manufacturing and operations. The Sugar Factory has partnered with a company called Chatak Innovations for assembling and operating drones. Labour force hiring for the drone operation facility like Drone Pilots & Co-Pilots, Cars & Drivers for the drone’s transport and the supervision team is facilitated under the leadership of Prateek. Employment numbers for assembling and operating is expected to increase as more farmers adopt drone technology.

Currently, the factory uses a 10 L Octocopter drone. After conducting an initial pilot, this technology is being introduced on a greater scale to farmers of the region. Till date, over 3,200 acres of area have been covered by drone spraying benefiting over 2000 farmers of the region. Each drone is currently covering 9 to 12 acres in a day and this is a first-of-its-kind exercise conducted by a sugar factory in Maharashtra, stated Vikas Deshmukh, Director, Vasantdada Sugar Institute.

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MINISTERS LAUD JGU AS 1ST UNIVERSITY TO RELEASE UN-SDG REPORT 2021

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On the occasion of the United Nations Day 2021, O.P. Jindal Global University released the first-of-its-kind Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: Role of Universities and Civil Society in Protecting the Environment Report, mapping its compliance towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations.

Setting a global benchmark, O.P. Jindal Global University has become one of the first universities to fully commit to and implement the SDGs on its campus, despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report was launched in the presence of Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Education, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of State for Environment, Professor (Dr.) Pankaj Mittal, Secretary General Association of Indian Universities, Atul Bagai, Head of Country Office United Nations Environment Programme and Sudhir Mishra, Founder & Managing Partner, Trust Legal, Advocates & Consultants.

The UN SDGs include affordable and sustainable energy, combating climate change, eradicating hunger, education, health, and gender equality.

To demonstrate its commitment towards the implementation of the SDGs, O.P. Jindal Global University engaged in an independent assessment of its campus and initiatives to get a transparent and fair view of the university’s progress in compliance with the UN SDGs.

A cohort of 12 assessors from the environment and legal fields including The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Trust Legal, Advocates & Consultants and Mazars Business Advisors Pvt. Ltd., Trust Legal, Advocates & Consultants carried out a rigorous evaluation of the university’s processes ranging from the university’s energy consumption to water management systems and community engagement initiatives.

Pradhan said, “The launch of the report comes at an opportune moment when the world leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend COP26 meeting at Glasgow next month. Diverse voices in the form of reports, scientific inquiry, and debates will only enrich our collective knowledge in protecting the health of the planet.”

“Universities have responsibility to contribute not only to the local communities but also to the global community. This is primarily because they have the capacity to help students develop a holistic understanding of how a wide range of local, national and global challenges can be addressed. The role of universities in the road to sustainable development is crucial. It becomes imperative that the universities devote time and resources to create an SDG-ready generation that remains focused on the mission to achieve sustainable development,” he added.

Choubey said, “I congratulate the Vice-Chancellor of JGU that under his leadership, JGU is not only committed to excellence in education but has also demonstrated a vision to implement the UN-SDG goals at the university. Educational institutions can play a pivotal role in informing young people and create awareness about the steps needed to protect and preserve the environment.”

Kumar said, “The Sustainability Development Report 2021 demonstrates our commitment to creating a green and socially-conscious campus and to have a transparent and fair view of our progress in our compliance with the UN SDGs. JGU has moved towards a healthier and safer environment by implementing the SDGs within its campus. By taking efforts to implement the UN-SDGs, JGU has shown the way to other educational institutions, how futuristic, social and environmental commitments are met.”

Setting the context for why universities must play a role in implementing SDGs, Bagai said, “Today, we are all facing ‘the triple planetary crisis’. It is the crisis of climate, the crisis of nature, and the crisis of pollution and waste. The crisis is very clearly a consequence of the economic path that we have pursued along with resource-intensive processes, consequent lifestyle changes due to economic growth and urbanisation. It is a rare feat for a university not only in south Asia or in Asia Pacific to have come up with such a report. It’s an extremely laudable effort which will be a game-changer. We should make it available to every university in the country.”

O.P. Jindal Global University has created a sustainable model with solar power generation by contributing excess power to the grid. The university has aimed in instituting zero-net emission policies and investing in on-campus renewable energy production by developing long-term resource efficiency and management plans. Close to 55% of the university’s campus is under a green cover. A green area around the university helps to arrest the effects of particulate matter and gaseous pollutants in the area besides playing a major role in environmental conservation efforts.

The university has also set up the Jindal School of Environment and Sustainability to ensure that it creates innovation and young leadership to combat climate change and its impact. It also provides interdisciplinary education across other schools to ensure that there is adequate awareness on this important subject across the entire university.

Professor Pankaj Mittal, Secretary General Association of Indian Universities said, “We do realise that India is placed at 120th rank in implementation of SDG 2021 and this calls for urgent action from all sectors of the society. Due to their unique position in society, the higher education institutions have immense scope and potential to contribute towards realising all 17 SDGs and thereby accomplishing them. I feel that rather realising the SDGs without the cooperation of the higher education sector is quite an impossible task. In India, there is a lot of tacit contribution of HEIs in implementing SDGs, but there is no documented data on the same.”

Professor Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik, Registrar, O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) gave the concluding address and said, “We have taken a step in the right direction towards promoting the significance of UN-SGDs by progressively undertaking activities to meet the goals in consonance with the National Education Policy. I am also happy to report that most recently we have opened a student chapter of the International Green Building Campus under the aegis of the Confederation of Indian Industry. A very futuristic and a definite step has been taken to create a green campus.”

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Took conscious effort to start taking out time for myself: Akanksha Singh

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Akanksha Singh, Dance Content Creator, recently joined us for a fun conversation as part of our special series of NewsX Influencer A-list. In the exclusive interview, she opened up about what brought her into the world of dancing and much more. Read excerpts:

When asked what brought her into the world of dancing and creating content, she said, “I have always been very fond of dance, but especially during the pandemic last year in March 2020, I just wanted to do something constructive with my time and involve my children also. It just happened by chance that I came across these shuffling videos on TikTok. I got very curious as to how it could be done actually, so I just started doing them. It was so amazing because of the positive impact it started having on my body as well as making me stress free. All in all, it was very positive. I got into it and I never got out of it then really.”

Speaking about the moment she started calling herself as a dance influencer and inspirer, she said, “I have no idea what I was doing when I started out. It took a lot of courage to put up dance videos on Instagram. I had a very small community at that time like 400 followers or so, you know, it was all my close friends. I thought I could share a little bit with them, just to motivate everybody to be active and not to very stressed during the pandemic and do something constructive with their time. This pause that life gave us, that god had given us, was to make the most constructive use of it. When I went viral, people started saying you are so inspiring and you have made me go back to dance, you have made me go back to my workouts, you have made me start working out. I am a mother of two. A woman came up to tell me that even I am a mother of two and I left dancing, I left painting, I left my working out, I’ve never taken out time for myself because for us women, we tend to put our families first, we tend to put our children first, everything is about them. She also took time to spoke about how she handles society judgement on following her passion.”

“I was doing the same thing, I was putting my family before myself any time. It was all about them. My kids school time, my husband’s office time, my in-law’s meal times and certain requirements here and there. By the time it came to me, I was too tired. It took a very conscious effort for me to actually start taking out time for myself first in the morning, take care of my exercise and make a routine for myself,” she added. 

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Kankatala expands to North India

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South India-based legacy brand, Kankatala Sarees, known as the ‘Queen of Sarees’, launched its first retail outlet in Delhi and the 13th in the country. The store will house handpicked handloom marvels from 50 major weaving clusters of India. Kankatala, rooted in South India for more than seven decades ,has its major presence in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and now has expanded to North India.

The Delhi store was unveiled recently by renowned actress Karisma Kapoor, who was seen in an authentic Kanchipuram Silk marvel from Kankatala and looked stunning as always. The inauguration was done in the presence of Mallikharjuna Rao Kankatala, Chairman & Managing Director, Kankatala Sarees, along with the entire Kankatala Family including the third-generation Directors Arvind, Bharat, and Anirudh Kankatala.

Kankatala is one of the oldest saree brands, which already has a presence in Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada, and has represented the age-old weaving techniques for over 78 years. The brand has always been known for pioneering trends in its market and has been growing steadily.

“We have spent three generations representing authentic handlooms in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and to the Indian diaspora. Our journey started in 1942, in the lanes of Vizag where our founder and my father, Appalaraju Kankatala sold handloom sarees on a bicycle. From the modest lanes of Vizag to the Capital of India, the 78 years’ journey has been marvellous. We are glad to launch our 13th exclusive retail outlet in Delhi. We wish to receive the same love from the people of Delhi as we have been receiving from other parts of the country,” said Mallikharjuna Rao Kankatala, Chairman & Managing Director, Kankatala.

“With a vision to revive the charm of Indian handloom in India, we are planning to expand to other cities such as Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Kolkata. We are also looking at going international in the near future. All these stores will be company-owned-company-operated as we do not want to lose our uniqueness of the handpicked products and the personalised touch that we give to our valued customers,” added Mallikharjuna.

The much-elated Chief Guest Karisma Kapoor said, “It is a pleasure for me to launch the very first store in North India of a brand which has a 78-year-old legacy behind it. I was amazed to know that from the year 1943 till date, every Handloom saree is personally handpicked by a family member of Kankatala themselves. The variety of handloom sarees that I saw here is breathtaking.”

Designed for the comfort of Queens of Kankatala, the interior of the Delhi store is contemporary and classy. The store will house handpicked handloom marvels from 50 major weaving clusters of India starting from Rs 5000 and going up to Rs 5 lakh and above, making it a one-stop saree destination for every budget, occasion, and style.

The store will host authentic handwoven marvels that are one-of-a-kind, including signature Kanchipuram, Banarasi, Patola, Ikat, Paithani, Kota, Uppada, Khadi, Jamdani, Organza, Kalamkari, Gadwal, Tussar, and many more.

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