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Greening Delhi needs more will power than wallet power

As Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are proactively supporting plantation drives, the national capital should also encourage farmers to surround the city with green walls of trees.

Indra Shekhar Singh

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What happens when the cars and emissions rise in our cities? When the silence of the trees is robbed and the radiance of the sun is fogged by flumes and honks? Would we readapt to sooty skies? Do we urban citizens have a moral imperative to save our environment? These were some thoughts that were floating as my mother and I were planting our 300th sapling this August in Delhi.

When she thought about the idea of celebrating her 50th birthday by planting trees (it was in June 2020), we had a little idea of where to plant or the money required. But we willed it and the universe did conspire to make it happen. Soon, we had some money in our tree fund but the Delhi government announced that it would be distributing free saplings to plant.

With the first problem dealt with, now where to plant? For this we chose a DDA park, took necessary permissions and began planting. Most of our saplings are alive and growing faster. What we did was a small measure to save our immediate environment and our city Delhi. This was also an act of healing and small gratitude for all the things nature gave us. How did it happen? God along with nature works in mysterious ways. If we are silent enough to hear her hums, she guides us. Our planet and our cities need human agents to heal her and support her. The Covid-19 crisis has given the world an opportunity to re-value our environment. Starting from the Big Bang, the trajectory of connected events has led to creation of the earth, and humans. Our purpose here is a simple one: To cohabit with the earth and all her beings, to nourish ourselves and them.

 But can our government embrace this quest? Yes, and for starters, RWAs should be asked to intensify plantations of native varieties and urban food gardens in their areas. DDAs and public parks need to open doors for citizens to plant trees in them. This will also decrease the budget restraints on horticulture departments. A certain time period may be notified each year for people to plant. RWAs need to set voluntary targets and be recognised by local city authorities for this work. As a block or sub-division within the city, officials need to remove non-native species and replace them with indigenous plants and trees. We need to create mini-forests in our parks, using the ‘Miyawaki’ method. This step can help increase carbon sequestration and develop mini-lungs throughout our cities.Urban gardens and rooftop gardens need to be encouraged through an urban food policy. But at city level, a lot more can be done. For example, let’s take Delhi, a city surrounded by farms and an under-utilised budget for agriculture. We begin with a plan to surround Delhi with a green-wall of trees or green buffer zones.

But how will this be made possible? The Covid-19 agri-stimulus package has already allotted budget and subsidies for plantation. For the state of Uttar Pradesh, farmers can get up to 60% subsidies, if they choose to start a plantation. In Haryana, the government is offering up to 75% subsidy in various plantation crops to the farmers. As Haryana and UP are already very proactively supporting plantation drive, Delhi should create a map of the buffer zone and encourage as many farmers as possible to surround Delhi with a green wall of trees. These can be fruit crops, etc. The Delhi government may chip in by giving farmers additional subsidies. This should be considered as assistance given by them for eco-services and not charity. This way they can phase out paddy production from surrounding areas and decrease straw burning too.

The three state governments can work in tandem to create this zone around Delhi. The produce from these zones should be branded by the government and sold to marketing co-operatives like Mother Dairy, etc. With a contract farming model in the pipeline, various governments can enter into contracts with farmers or FPOs to produce food and fruits agro-ecologically, hence not only saving the environment but also the health of urban dwellers. This will help break the dust winds entering the city too. If during the lockdown a scheme can be developed and implemented, it will go a long way in ensuring that Delhi’s and other cities’ air, water and food supply are cleaner.

The author is director at Policy and Outreach, National Seed Association of India. The views expressed are personal.

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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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