Multiple award winning singer and composer Sonam Kalra is trained in both Indian and Western traditions of music and is equally adept at both. She talks to The Daily Guardian about the Sufi Gospel Project, her initiative which brings together artists of different faiths, her musical journey, and how things have turned for worse during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for artistes. Excerpts:
Q. Your music for the Sufi Gospel Project brings a mix of languages and religions to your audience. How important is it to support a culture of “fusion” at a time like the present one?
A. I think it is extremely important at all times, to support a culture of fusion, because that is what it essentially means to be Indian. We have a history of being multi-faith and multicultural, and therein lies our strength. The music I create within The Sufi Gospel Project is a fusion of ideologies — poetry and prayer and music from seemingly disparate cultures, traditions and regions. And I say seemingly because the more I look at our differences the more I find through them our similarities. To say that each of us has our own truth and you can find that truth in a temple, a shrine, a church or a mosque but the most important thing to remember, is that each truth is just as valid. My music is about equality, the inclusion of all beings and of acceptance and to say that many different calls to God can and must exist in harmony. I often say this: That religion is not God and that God has no religion.
Q. While a lot of artists distance themselves from overt political gestures, you haven’t shied away from speaking out about things. Do you think it is essential for artists to have a social and political conscience and express it in their work?
A. I think if you have a voice, it is your duty to use it — wisely and judiciously — to speak out, to make a difference, for change and for the greater good of society. As an artist, I believe it is our moral responsibility to speak out in solidarity when there is suffering or pain, or when society needs to be reminded of something. For instance, when I did my version of Faiz’s “Hum Dekhenge”, it was not meant to be a political reaction. I created that piece in the hope of peace and out of the desire to speak for what I believe in when there was so much negativity around us. I blended Faiz’s words with Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Where the mind is without fear’ as a quiet appeal to the people of our country to remind them of our freedom.
Q. Your new song “Log Down” addresses the state of artists in the aftermath of the Covid-19 lockdown. Tell us a bit more about that.
A. Artists have had absolutely no means of generating any income with very limited platforms for creative expression during the pandemic. The saddest part is that the arts have been listed not only as non-essential but also low on the list of non-essential items. I find that quite appalling to be honest, and would like to ask the people who made this list to try and live without art for even one day — to not listen to music or chants in the morning, to not watch anything on TV, to not read a book, and to not wear the fabrics woven by our craftspeople. India has such a wealth of incredible art and craft and it is very disheartening to see that artists have got no support.
So, I wrote the “Log Down” song because so many artists are struggling to make ends meet. And also because I was bemused by the number of people who would call artists including myself, to perform for free, completely ignoring the fact that we as artists also have families to feed and need a means of an income to survive.
Q. Is it true that you produced “Log Down” without leaving your home?
A. Yes, I recorded the audio at home, shot it at home, edited it, produced it, did the costumes, everything! In fact, it was shot in one take so there are no cuts and it didn’t need editing. I shot it on my phone with no one behind the camera — I just put it on a tripod and recorded it. For the music, I reached out to a couple of musicians who sent me their parts over email and another musician friend, Saptak Chatterjee, produced it for me. My dholak player, Tarit Pal, came to my house only for the shoot and was wearing a mask the whole time. Even the dogs in the video are mine and played their supporting roles very well.
Q. How do you see concerts and live musical performances happening post-Covid?
A. While a lot of concerts are happening online, the joy of engaging with a live audience is unparalleled. The relationship of love and the energy that fills an arena or even a small room is something artists and audiences are craving for at this point. So I do believe they will happen and when they do, they will be really special. I think for a while, event organisers will need to be creative in the way they present an artist or event, making sure they follow the norms of social distancing and safety, but they will figure out a way to make it happen. In some parts of the world, there are already drive-in concerts where the audience sit in their cars while watching a band perform on stage so I do see it happening, and hopefully soon!
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Five Top Benefits of Buying Moissanite Jewelry
Moissanite jewelry has continued to become famous. If you love quality jewelry pieces, you must be aware of the many advantages, and impact diamond has in this industry. Diamond is an expensive gemstone. It’s rare and exists in small quantities. However, moissanite is a similar gemstone to a diamond. But, although moissanite is close to the diamond, they are not the same. It is a synthetic gemstone but with high durability and hardness features. There are many advantages of buying jewelry designed with this gemstone.
One distinct difference between these two gemstones is that diamonds are obtained through mining from the earth. However, moissanite stones are artificial. However, these two gemstones have many similarities, although moissanite has many distinct characteristics and is much better than diamond. It has carbon and silicon carbide. These elements are also common in all the other gemstones, including ruby, emerald, sapphire, etc. But, although the other gemstones are natural, moissanite is artificial, hence manually manufactured through different methods. This gemstone is transparent, has consistent color, and does not have impurities. Wondering if you could wear your Moissanite earrings? Below are the incredible benefits that this gemstone has to offer.
Jewelry designed with moissanite is strong and highly durable. They are resistant to scratches and abrasion. Although diamond is considered more robust than this gemstone, moissanite offers similar durability features. In addition, this gemstone does not break or chip easily, hence makes the best option for your everyday wear.
Easy to clean and maintain
Once you own a diamond, you know it is not easy to clean or maintain. This is because it gets dirty quickly. When you sweat, the diamond easily gets stained. However, moissanite gemstone is easy to clean. You can effectively use a soft cloth to wipe, and your jewelry will be sparkling clean. If you compare this with other gemstones, moissanite is extremely easy to maintain.
Moissanite is made of carbon and silicon carbide. These materials are solid, making this gemstone more durable than others. Hence, it can withstand extreme pressure, heat, and regular wear and tear elements. Thus, moissanite gemstone makes the best option for long-lasting jewelry, depending on your lifestyle.
Buying diamond jewelry is extremely expensive. But, moissanite costs half the price that you pay for the diamond. It is also cheaper than the other gemstones, including emeralds, sapphires, and rubies. In addition, this gemstone can be manufactured in labs, making the cost much more affordable than the mined gemstones.
Diamonds gemstones are heavy, 1oo times heavier than moissanite. Diamond is also huge, hence occupying lots of space. But on the contrary, moissanite gemstone is lightweight and still gives a brilliant shine. This makes it an excellent option for designing jewelry.
In addition, this gemstone is developed in labs, hence offering a vast selection. Unlike diamond mined, you can easily choose the grade and a style that suits your needs. If you could wear your Moissanite earrings, they come in different shapes and sizes. Whether you want the pillow cut, round or royal cut, or the emerald, orange, or blues, these are some options.
How green is the new black in fashion industry?
Fashion sustainability has been dominating the fashion industry for quite some time now. Yet, it was during the pandemic when humans were locked in from the outside world that they had the time to slow down and reflect on what they had done to the planet.
The fashion industry alone is responsible for a high impact on the environment when it comes to the use of chemicals to treat the fabric and it was the need to find alternatives to high waste fashion production that led to the emergence of sustainable fashion.
Fashion sustainability is driving advancement in a wide range of ways for certain significant brands leading the way. The Rising demands for designer brands to commit to environmental wellbeing have pushed them toward specific action plans moving to more sustainable production and selling. These incorporate eco-friendly designs, corporate social responsibility, sustainable assembling, and the use of honest raw materials and ingredients. However, with limited information and awareness, greenwashing issues, the absence of guidelines, and the general lack of execution, sustainability continues to face challenges.
Until recently, those wishing to purchase sustainable clothes had to buy from individual businesses at higher price points. While this has given rise to many bespoke boutiques and businesses, consumers often feel more comfortable with larger chains that they’re acquainted with. As sustainability has become more and more the need of the hour, buying economical clothes from well-known brands is now possible.
Consumers are now looking for purpose-driven brands—products and brands that line up with their way of life, health benefits and aspirational thinking. Consumer buying patterns have changed to reflect environmental conditions such as climate change, endangered species and preventative healthcare. Such buyers are additionally ready to change their shopping behaviour to diminish the impact of their choices on the environment by opting for more sustainable and recyclable clothes.
Buyers are progressively searching for items with explicit features that line up with their values, so offering the right combination is a key differentiator. However, high on the list of customers’ needs is a comfortable and easy shopping experience.
There is no question that Covid-19 was a gigantic leap in consumer behaviour and shopping trends in the fashion business. The circular economy, for example, gained a lot of popularity during this time. Brands and retailers are now effectively hoping to partake in this new economy in shifted ways to inculcate more recyclable materials and textures than plastics. Others are fashioning new ways consumers shop. Many patterns that were prevailing in the fashion industry before the pandemic were made considerably more prominent because of the situation and some were introduced freshly.
Roopam Gupta is co-founder of The Woman’s Company.
What will schools of tomorrow look like?
With everything changing at an incredibly fast pace, have you ever wondered what direction traditional schooling is set to take? Now that online mediums of education have been adopted so readily, what will the schools of tomorrow look like? The Ajeenkya DY Patil Group has an answer for you, in the form of its brand new school. GoSchool is billed as India’s first career-focused high school launched in partnership with international education leaders Pearson, iXperience, and UniDirect.
“This school combines high-quality teaching, personalised counselling, extracurricular activities, test preparation, counselling for university admissions along with cutting-edge skills to deliver a transformative high school experience. Our core philosophy is to provide the most powerful learning engine propelled by new-age Hyflex learning, which offers a hi-tech yet hi-touch model of delivering education. This usher in a new vision of education, for the next generation of students by deploying cutting-edge technologies to maximise learning,” Dr Ajeenkya DY Patil says, adding, “GoSchool is a leap towards forward-looking systems that deliver quality international education for all as a springboard for building futures. Supported by the vast ecosystem of technology partners, we are proud to deliver solutions that expand access to education, enhance student experience, improve engagement, and ignite innovation.”
“In our view, everyone is a unique individual. Therefore, we adapt our approach to each student offering them the specific challenges and customised support that brings out their best. We will endeavour to inspire our students with new ideas, to support them as they learn to think for themselves and then to challenge them to transform the lives of others,” says Sidney Rose, FRSA, Academic Director.
The school’s international partnerships provide access to an international curriculum that is focused on the skills of the future. They also set up internships and counselling for admissions to be best placed for leading universities in India and the world. Pearson brings with it a legacy of over 170 years and is recognised globally for successfully blending world-class educational content and assessment, powered by services and technology, to enable more effective teaching and personalised learning at scale.
The key attributes of GoSchool can be summarised as the following:
• HyFlex learning: It seamlessly integrates the experience of attending a brick and mortar school with the advantages of technology-led active learning methodologies.
• A strong foundation aimed at professional success: It inculcates 21st-century skills to prepare students for long-term success. By assisting students to develop critical thinking, complex problem-solving, and strategic decision-making, they profess to lead their students to assured success in their chosen careers.
• A pathway to the university of your dreams: It has inbuilt, personalised guidance on the pathway to the best universities within India and around the world. Through guidance, counselling and support we assist students to gain acceptance to highly selective universities.
• Best-in-class faculty: Rigorous instruction from experienced and inspirational global faculty with personalised assistance and progress monitoring helps students to excel and realise their potential. Student success coaches assist students to deepen academic focus while raising the bar.
• Encouragement in one’s chosen career path: They empower their students by delivering cutting-edge, in-demand skills and practical experience through global internships. Their students explore and experience different career paths from high school itself.
• Smart learning: Their holistic curriculum includes wellbeing, school clubs like art and film production and preparation for entrance exams. Peer learning groups and one-to-one mentoring ensure each student receives the best preparation for life.
The Ajeenkya DY Patil Group is known for seeing the world through opportunities, possibilities and potential. They do this by creating new concepts and new ways of thinking in a wide range of fields including sports, health, agriculture, and education. With over 200 institutes of learning along with five universities based out of Navi Mumbai‚ Pune and Kolhapur, the group also runs three hospitals and provides affordable healthcare and medical attention to scores of needy people. The DY Patil International Cricket Stadium in Mumbai is rated as one of the six best stadiums in the world and among the best sporting facilities in India. With this rich legacy, their latest venture GoSchool, located in Mumbai, is surely paving the way for what schools of the future will look like.
Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on email@example.com.
‘THE LEGENDS OF TOMORROW’ TO ENTHRAL AUDIENCES
The motto of Pracheen Kala Kendra is to spread the knowledge and love of art and culture and to support deserving artists. This series provides a platform for young talent to display their talent along with veteran artists.
Lovers of art and culture are spoilt for choice with so many amazing things happening in Delhi at the moment. One event that should definitely be on everyone’s cultural calendar is Chandigarh-based Pracheen Kala Kendra 16th quarterly Baithak with its ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ series.
Deepankar Roy Choudhury.
“This is one of the most highly appreciated programs that everyone waits for. We are all set to organise Legends of Tomorrow on a big scale and welcome you all with warmth. Many eminent personalities will be performing for the attendees,” says Sajal Koser, Secretary of Pracheen Kala Kendra.
The event takes place on 14 May 2022 at 6:30 pm at Triveni Kala Sangam in Mandi House, Delhi. One will be able to enjoy a Guitar Recital by Deepankar Roy Choudhury accompanied by Ustad Rafiuddin Sabri on the Tabla, a Vocal Recital by Sankumay Debnath accompanied by Pradeep Chatterjee on the Tabla, a performance by Nafeez Ahmed on the Harmonium, a Kathak Dance by Dr Garima Arya accompanied by Ashish Mishra on the Tabla, a recital of Dr Shyam Rastogi on the Sitar, and Jay Dadhich on vocals and Harmonium.
Talking about the Kendra, Koser says, “In olden times, music, dance and fine art used to command a place of pride and prominence due to the classical and technical perfection and excellence that was associated with the performing and visual arts. People used to admire these art forms the world over. Indian classical music and dance had been developed by sages as a medium to display adulation for the gods and as a beautiful way of expression. In a way, these arts covered the entire gamut of emotions and feelings of human beings. We aim to preserve these art forms for generations to come.”
‘Legends of Tomorrow’ is finally back in its physical avatar, after its online iterations during the pandemic. The motto of Pracheen Kala Kendra is to spread the knowledge and love of art and culture and to support deserving artists. Hence, even during the pandemic, they organised many programs.
“When we started this series, one of our aims was to bring up young talent to the stage along with senior artists. Our main aim was to provide newbies with a stage to show their talent,” explains Koser.
Speaking about how people are returning to physical formats of events in large numbers, he says, “Art and culture events can’t be watched online. Through offline events, you can connect with the artist and it is easier for the audience to understand and enjoy the performance on stage.”
Applauding their experienced team for putting the event together in record time, Koser highlights that they have never faced any major difficulties in organising programmes. Next, they will be organising the Karnataka Utsav at Bengaluru from 4 to 5 June. “There is a chain of events that are coming up in various parts of the country. This is our legacy, as the Kendra has been doing lots of events since 1956,” he says.
Triveni Kala Sangam is one of their strongest supporters from whom they always receive a lot of help and appreciation. He signs off by highlighting, “Pracheen Kala Kendra in Chandigarh, is the premier educational organisation which is doing yeoman service for the promotion, preservation, and dissemination of the Indian classical arts of music, dance and fine art (painting) since its inception in 1956. Today, it is one of the oldest affiliating and examining bodies of India with its headquarters in Chandigarh, an enormous sister set-up in Mohali in Punjab and a zonal office for the Eastern region at Kolkata in West Bengal besides zonal/liaison offices at Ludhiana and Bhubaneswar in Odisha. It conducts examinations spanning over nine years and awards certificates and diplomas of Prarambhik, Bhushan, Visharad, Bhaskar and Churamani to the successful students. The Kendra has grown with each passing year. Today, it is the only cultural and educational organisation in the country dedicated to the promotion of art and culture. In the last 50 years, we have worked to provide quality education and job opportunities to lakhs of students, and given a platform to hundreds of performing artists by organising various cultural events in different parts of the country. We feel that Kendra’s efforts for the promotion and preservation of Indian classical arts and artists are unparalleled in the country.”
Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.
OTT has widened the scope for an actor: Aamna Sharif
Actor Aamna Sharif recently joined NewsX for a fun conversation as part of our special series NewsX India A-List
Actor Aamna Sharif recently joined NewsX for a fun conversation as part of our special series NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, he actor opened up about her role in the series Aadha Ishq, what drew her to the role and much more.
Speaking about what attracted her towards ‘Adha Ishq’, Aamna said, “The title itself is beautiful. I believe all of us have experienced adha ishq once in our life. It is a beautiful love story between Sahil and Roma, the journey of Roma (played by Aamna). The story shows the ten years of Roma’s journey of what happens in her life. The interesting part of this love story is that a couple in love gets separated and later their children fell in love. It’s a different concept which is most exciting.”
Talking about doing a romantic genre, she said she loves being a part of such projects as she is a romantic person and loves watching love stories. Adding further, she said, “I have been playing different roles and was waiting for something like this to come, something as intense as Aadha Ishq.”
When asked about her experience of working in an OTT platform and the scope of digital platforms, Aamna said, “I am loving it, I think it’s a blessing for all the actors because of the kind of scope it provides to all the actors for performances. The last show, which I did, was also a very challenging role and Roma has so many layers to its character. It’s a dream for any actor to do such challenging roles and OTT is giving that scope and space.”
Aamna further shared that it is very important to watch other actors’ performances. She explained that she loves watchjing the work of other actors as it is important to learn as an actor.
When asked about her previous role Komolika, Aamna said, “I was scared to play Komollika as I have never played such role ever before, despite the fact that in ‘Ek Villian’ my character had shades of grey but not as much as Komollika in KZK2.”
While talking about her last two years’ experience, Aamna said “The last two years have taught us top value small moments in life and be grateful towards life.”
Aamna further stated that OTT is giving her the scope to perform different things as an actor and it is grateful that she is being able to be a part of all the three platforms.
Aamna Sharif stated that ‘Kahiin Toh Hoga’ was a game changing project for her as it changed her life.
Society needs a larger social fabric to see the larger picture: Dr RK Thomas
In an exclusive interview, the aviator talked about his experience in the tech sector and Indian Navy and a lot more.
Dr. RK Thomas, who is an aviator and the group CTO of Virenxia, joined NewsX for an intellectual conversation as a part of our special series NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive interview, the aviator talked about his experience in the tech sector and Indian Navy and a lot more.
When asked about his journey, he said “After my schooling in Delhi, I moved to the field of mechanical engineering. And one passion that always remained consistent was to be an aviator. So I joined the Indian Navy, went on to qualify in both marine and aerospace engineering, when I was selected and sent to the US for higher studies. That was when I also went on to qualify as an aviator.”
He also explained “ I love learning and competing, and it was this seed in me that made continuously pursue the frontier technology, and thereafter I obtained several doctorates and undertook pioneering research in computer science, quantum science, cryptography, network security, alternative medicine and technological advancement.”
Talking about how this journey has brought in changes and what all companies is has he been associated to, he said “In these 20 years of military service in aviation, I realized that society needs a larger social fabric to see the larger picture towards alleviating pain, poverty and humanity. Keeping this in mind, Technopilot was originated in 2013 with the motive of providing services of various nature from network security to business success coaching to energy based services to oranizations and individuals. Technopilot helps all organizations, whether big or small make profit.”
He further explained “ I am currently working as the group CTO of Virenxia which works on the motto to pioneer the world’s first for-profit socio econic empowerment company which is a paradigm shift in creating a sustainable technology solution alongside ensuring economic growth.”
He also explained how an individual, or any organization can avail the services from his company. He said “ Techno pilot is the only company in the world which used various principles of sciences to develop the security features of the future.”
He added “We’ve worked on different paradigms which are not presently commercially available.”
Lastly, he explained “We at Virenxia are trying to create simple metrics and tools and dynamic package of practices so that the farmer gets a 360 degree solution and we measure our success in how well we serve communities, protect our planet’s resources and make a difference in people’s lives in synergy with the sustainable goals of the United Nations.”
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