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March 2019

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Bangalore in books

The documentation of Bangalore history in its various dimensions in English language is extensive and voluminous, compared to the quantity of same work done in regional language Kannada. The British selected the city to build their Cantonment. Since the year 1800 many travellers have come to the city and recorded their observations in the form of notes, letters and books. Dr. Francis Buchanan and a few other such visitors have given graphic description of the city.

Equally important are the writings of the lady traveller Julia Charlotte Maitland. Her book Letters From Madras is a collection of letters published in 1846. She enters the city on October 12, 1839 . Her 26th and 27th letter begins with ‘I am charmed with Bangalore’. She compares the scenario here with that of Madras at that time. A careful study of the records of these visitors give us their perception of our city. British Commissioner L.B. Bowring’s Eastern Experiences is an interesting work to read. However, enormous details given by Benjamin Lewis Rice in his Gazetteer reverberates with regional fervour.

A handbook brought out in 1905 by the British Administration is a very useful publication. It was an excellent guide to get a glimpse of the city. Interestingly, It contains the complete details of what was written on granite plate of Cenotaph which was demolished in October 1964, In 1931, The City Municipal Council brought out City of Bangalore- Municipal Handbook. It is full of rare photographs of various monuments and places of the city as they were in 1930s. Karnataka State Gazetteer on Bangalore district published later under the Chief Editorship of Dr. Suryanatha Kamath provided much needed reliable source of information for researchers and the general public as well. Fazlul Hasan’s Bangalore Through the Centuries published in 1970 paved the way for a few others to write timeline based history of the city. Fazlul Hasan dedicates his work to the citizens of Bangalore to perpetuate their interest in the glorious annals of their city. The book is also known for its lucid English. The City Beautiful by T.P.

Issar (1988) is perhaps the first of its kind coffee table top book brought out to celebrate the architectural heritage and aesthetics of the city. Anyone studying Cantonment cannot miss the priceless contributions made by Mrs. Janet Pott, Kora Chandy and Ronnie Johnson of ‘Our Bangalore Wallah’ fame in building the saga of Civil and Military Station. Follow my Bangalorey Man by Paul Byron Norris was brought out in 1996, by The British Association for Cemeteries of South Asia formed in 1976. This work, in addition to the details of British families lived in Bangalore between 1923 to 1939, also gives some rare pictures of roads and houses in Cantonment. Bangalore-A story of a City by Maya Jayapal was released on December 19, 1997 during the inauguration of Bangalore-460, a three-day festival to commemorate the 460th birthday of the city, organised by my NGO AARAMBH (An Association for Reviving Awareness about Monuments of Bangalore Heritage) in association with INTACH, Bangalore. New version of Maya’s book Bangalore, Roots and Beyond “explores the allure that the city possesses for old-timers and the new migrants alike, and discusses its transition into the 21st century.” Bengaluru to Bangalore, ( 2003) by T.V. Annaswamy is an urban history of the city from the pre-historic period to the end of 18th Century. The Promise of the Metropolis- Bangalore’s Twentieth Century by Janaki Nair (2005, Second edition, 2006) provides important insights on Bangalore’s recent growth, as well as elements it shares with other Indian cities.

Edited by Narendar Pani, Sindhu Radhakrishna and Kishore G. Bhat , Bengaluru, Bangalore, Bengaluru- Imaginations and their times(2010) focuses on the ‘imaginations’ that have determined the course of Bengaluru over the last two and a half centuries. It provides a new picture of Bengaluru’s history as well as a method of looking at the past that is quite different from most Indian historical studies. Bangalore: Multiplicity by Dr. A. Ravindra is an attractively illustrated volume on Bangalore, published at the time of Global Investors Meet, 2012. Yashaswini Sharma’s work Bangalore:The Early city. AD 1537-1799 was published in 2016. A practising architect and Researcher, Yashaswini Sharma strives to reach an understanding of the development of the city, focusing on the architecture and settlement pattern of its earliest urban area, the Pete and the oval fort. Aliyeh Rizvi is another well-known historian of the city. Her columns have covered varied dimensions of this vibrant city. Recently, she has written and curated ANOTHER world, tracing the glory of Bangalore Club ( Bangalore United Service Club) from 1868 to 2018.

With many rare pictures and documents, the book is a source of reference James Heitzman’s Network City- Planning in the formation of society in Bangalore, Deccan Traverses by Anuradha Mathur and Dilip Da Cunha, Stanley Carvalho’s Bangalore Blue a collection of essays by ‘true-blue Bangaloreans’ and Past and Curious, forty tales of good old Bangalore, Peter Colaco’s Bangalore- A Century of Tales from city and Cantonment (2003) with illustrations by Paul Fernandes, Pinging- from Bangalore, a blog novel by K.R. Chandrashekar, Bangalored by Eshwar Sundaresan on Expatriates, are all equally important works on the city. The commemorative volumes and souvenirs of the jubilee celebrations of various organizations and institutions of the city also carry invaluable stories pertaining to our city Bangalore.

- https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/bangalore-in-books/article26397348.ece, March 1, 2019

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Standing committee of PMC OKs budget

The empowered standing committee of Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Thursday approved the annual budget for 2019-20 fiscal with minor changes. The final budget will be tabled at PMC’s board meeting on March 4 Municipal commissioner Anupam Kumar Suman said the budget has been prepared in a way that the civic body will earn a revenue of Rs 1,200 crore through establishment of three malls, cafeterias and a hostel. He added Rs 2 crore would be allocated to each ward to carry out necessary development work, including revival of water bodies and ancient sculptures.

Suman said only 10% of the budget would be spent on operational expenditure of PMC and the rest on development of infrastructure and other civic work. It was also decided at the meeting that DPR for the third phase of the riverfront project will be made by Delhi-based Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. The third phase will cover a stretch of 9km from Digha ghat to Collectorate ghat.

-https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/standing-committee-of-pmc-oks-budget/articleshow/68207401.cms, March 1, 2019

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Harappan site marauded by treasure hunters

The world’s largest Harappan site in this village continues to be a happy hunting ground for collectors as well as traders in antiques. The site, that provides glimpses of the life and times of people who lived 5,000 years ago, is attracting treasure hunters. Even locals have acquired artefacts excavated from the site which they proudly exhibit in their homes. During a drive by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) recently, a group of children displayed artefacts at the village chaupal. Each of them brought 10 to 20 items. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has declared parts of the site as 'protected.'

But a large part remains vulnerable to plunder. The entire area, including the ASI-protected mounds, are accessible to the common man. As a result, a number of artefacts — seals, gravings, pottery, figurines, bangles, beads and bone fragments — dug from the site have found their way to antiques markets. “There is no denying the role of unscrupulous elements. Some families from Rakhigarhi and Jind town are notorious for their involvement in such dealings”, said a villager. Dinesh, who motivated the children to display items at the INTACH-sponsored exhibition, said a number of villagers had acquired artefacts. Vazir Singh, associated with the excavation work for four decades, said he started collecting artefacts when in Class VI.

"I have donated hundreds of items to the Haryana Archaeological Department and the National Museum. As children, we would play with marbles, placing bets on the artefacts. An Arya Samaj leader would take away the items from us in lieu of books and pens”, he recalled. But that changed after renowned archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bisht explained to him about the importance of the site during a visit in the late seventies. Vazir Singh, who helped former ASI director Dr Amrendra Nath during excavation work in 1997-2000 and Dr Vasant Shinde of Deccan College, Pune, in 2014-2016, said: “It is easy to lay hands on the items during the rainy season. Water erodes the surface of mounds and lay the buried items bare.”

Even as the SHO of the Narnaund police station denied information on the acquisition of artefacts, Banani Bhatacharya, Deputy Director, Haryana Archaeology Department, said the local administration could take possession of the antiques from local residents “which are government property under the Treasure Trove Act”. She also questioned the display of artefacts at the INTECH exhibition.

-https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/haryana/harappan-site-marauded-by-treasure-hunters/738186.html, March 5, 2019

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A Sistine Chapel for Karnataka

The St. Aloysius College Chapel, an architectural gem comparable with the Sistine chapel in Rome, is one of reasons Mangaluru is known as ‘Rome of the East’. Situated at the southern end of the main building of the college, the Chapel was built in 1880 along with the main building. The painting inside the chapel is unique and attracts tourists from all over the world. The Chapel is dedicated to St Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron of the college.

It was painted by Italian painter Brother Antonio Moscheni between March 1899 and August 1901. Moscheni, was a proficient painter trained in the famed Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, Italy. He completed the work of painting the whole church, covering a total of 829 sq meters, with exquisite frescoes and canvasses in two years. The Chapel depicts the life of St Aloysius Gonzaga, the patron of the college on its main ceiling, the apostles on the curved sides, saints of the Church on the arches and the life of Jesus on the walls, the pillars and on the ceiling of the aisles. Due to high humidity and heavy monsoons, fungal growth had damaged the paintings.

The first restoration was done by specialists from INTACH Conservation Institutes (ICI), Lucknow from 1991 to 1994 under the supervision of Dr OP Agarwal, the then Director of the INTACH-ICI, Lucknow. He had also suggested that restoration had to be done once in every 20 years. The second round of restoration work was started in October 2017 and the chapel has been reopened on February 16. Nilabh Sinha, principal director, INTACH-ICI, Art & Material Heritage Division, New Delhi oversaw the work. Approximately a sum of Rs 1.5 crore was spent on the restoration work.

-https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mangaluru/a-sistine-chapel-for-karnataka/articleshow/68235124.cms, March 5, 2019

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As we build smart cities, let’s look at our ancestors, the Harappans

There are several reasons why the town planners and designers are unable to capitalise on our own knowledge of these advanced traditional systems. The region of Gurugram and the state of Haryana at large present an interesting phenomenon of historical, archaeological and mythological facts that are yet to be completely deciphered and interpreted.

One needs to realise that in today’s quest of making Gurugram and others smart cities in Haryana, we may need to pick up some lessons from the smartly designed Harappan (now termed as the Sindhu Saraswati) cities of this region. Renowned archaeologist professor Vasant Shinde mentions “Excavations over three consecutive years (between 1997 and 2000) carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had uncovered evidence of a well-established road, drainage system, large rainwater storage facility, and additional city infrastructure in Rakhigarhi site.”

While professor Shinde’s own excavations focus more on the skeletons excavated in the necropolis of Rakhigarhi and their DNA testing, his recent book and Pupul Jayakar Memorial Lecture at INTACH reiterate the ancient Indian knowledge system in terms of town planning principles, which are relevant for cities even today.

These include basic infrastructure, accessibility to water supply and efficient drainage systems, among others. There are several reasons why the town planners and designers are unable to capitalise on our own knowledge of these advanced traditional systems. To begin with, the hiatus created by our current colonial mindset leads us to believe that there is a total disconnect with our past and these principles cannot be applicable to the needs of the advanced societies today. Adding to this, there is a complete gap in a holistic approach towards understanding and interpreting these age-old town planning systems.

The current bodies of knowledge exist in silos of various disciplines like archaeology, geology, anthropology and mythology, researching within their limited disciplinary frameworks with no attempt at convergence and absolutely no aim at linking with the current planning of cities and towns. Even though some of the later rural settlements in these archaeological areas actually existed on the footprints of the ancient Sindhu Saraswathi settlements and even though the rural- urban inhabitants of today reflect continuity in rituals from ancient times such as placing the bindi on the forehead, wearing of bangles, culinary practices, such as the use of herbs, and observance of Vedic fire rituals in most ceremonies, it is difficult for us to ascertain their connect and relevance for our future existence.

INTACH’s Haryana chapter is in the process of understanding and documenting the convergence of all the above strands of research to determine the extent, boundary and component of this ancient cultural landscape along with its alignment with the existing landscape with the aim of using this interpretation for a way forward in capitalising this knowledge for today’s planning as well as showcasing it as Haryana’s heritage for local, national and international audience. Sudhir Bhargava, the Rewari chapter convener has mapped ‘Brahmavarta’ through detailed studies and mentions in the Vedas. Parallelly, archaeologists have traced the maximum number of archaeological sites in the state of Haryana that coincide with the Ghaggar basin, the most recent one being Rakhigarhi by Prof. Vasant Shinde, along with other sites such as Bhirrana, Farmana, Girawar earlier excavated by the ASI. More recently, excavations are being carried out in Kunal by the Haryana State Directorate of Archaeology and the National Museum.

The Sanauli ‘rath’ excavations in the region by SK Manjul, ASI, in 2018 open up possibilities for dating Mahabharata period somewhere between 1100 BCE and 2000 BCE. INTACH is also working on the awareness of the Sindhu Sarawati heritage by collaborating with various institutions, such as the internship programme of Ashoka University. Listing of works is also being undertaken by the Sushant School of Art and Architecture. A picture book titled ‘Legend of Rakhigarhi’ designed and conceptualised by the interns of Ashoka University was released in 2017 and a heritage trail for Rakhigarhi was conducted by INTACH’s Hisar chapter on February 17, 2019, with the active involvement of local villagers and Ashoka University interns. The children book on Rakhigarhi centres around ‘Rakhi’ a girl child who is the resident of Gurugram and visits her grandfather at Rakhigarhi. It concludes on how she wants her friends in Gurugram to visit the place with her next time, so that she can tell them stories about the interesting history of the region.

Working together with all stakeholders and Government organisations may help to create a deeper understanding of our past and possibly lead to some long-term, sensitive proposals for the future cities that are planned on these past foundations.

-https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurugram/as-we-build-smart-cities-let-s-look-at-our-ancestors-the-harappans/story-Vd90n1oyKJhDQB78bnPkUI.html, March 5, 2019

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Kos Minars, The Medieval Google Maps, Which Guided Travel Routes Now Lost In Encroachments

In medieval Indian history, emperors and normal people used sunlight to determine what time of day it was. Our ancestors were experts in determining sun positions and its timings, which has also given birth to the study of astrology. In today’s era we are dependent on convenient technological systems like Google maps to take us to our destination.

We no longer need to remember every landmark if we have to go to a particular place. Taxi-ride hailing apps have also flourished due to advanced distance route maps. However, in days of kings and queens, Kos Minars would act as your google maps. Kos Minars are milestones which were built by the Mughal emperors between 1556 and 1707 AD. "Kos" literally means a medieval measurement of distance denoting approximately 3 km and "Minar" is a Persian word for tower. They are approximately 30 feet in height and were erected on royal routes such as from Agra to Ajmer via Jaipur, from Agra to Delhi via Lahore and other places.

Abul Fazl recorded in Akbar Nama that in the year 1575 AD, Akbar issued an order that at every Kos on the way from Agra to Ajmer, a pillar or a minar should be erected for the comfort of the travelers. So that the travelers who had lost their way might have a mark and a place to rest. Sher Shah Suri’s Kos Minars were hailed as “marvel of India” by early European travellers have lost their significance and have been vandalized over the years. They were described as an integral part of the country’s "national communication system” by the Archaeological Survey of India. Times of India reported that these minars were located along the Grand Trunk Road in northern Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan today stand isolated, lost among villages, farm fields, slums, near railway tracks and even in zoos.

Abul Fazl records in “Ain-e-Akbari” — a detailed document on the administration under Mughal emperor Akbar that there were around 600 minars during the Mughal period. However, only 110 remain in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and other places. Though, Kos Minars have never been looked at as architecturally impressive structures though, in totality they have a lot of historical significance. Reportedly, the restoration work on these monuments began only last year, an official of ASI told TOI. "Urban expansion has destroyed most kos minars. Neither tourists and nor even locals are interested in it as most are not aware of their historical significance. Some of them are protected from encroachment and vandalism, but they have lost their context and stand isolated with little purpose or direction."

said Divay Gupta, principal director of Architectural Heritage division of INTACH, a private organisation working for the conservation and preservation of culture and heritage. A senior ASI official also told the publication that high courts are now coming to the rescue of Kos Minars. The Delhi high court had recently ordered authorities to clear illegal constructions around the Mathura road Kos Minar in Badarpur. Kos Minars also served as important pillars of governance and communication. Royal messages were also relayed with great speed with the help of a horse, a rider, and a drummer posted at every Kos Minar.

-https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/kos-minars-the-medieval-google-maps-which-guided-travel-routes-now-lost-in-encroachments-363043.html, March 5, 2019

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Maharashtra: Solapur excavation of human skeleton sheds light on ritual burial practices

To shed light on the evolution of society and practices of burying the dead in Maharashtra, archaeologists have found a ritual burial, which is estimated to have emerged in the early historic period. Researchers from the University of Solapur, who have unearthed the human skeleton, are planning to conduct DNA tests on it to ascertain the genetic stock of the people who inhabited the site. These people are estimated to have inhabited the site in the Satavahana period. Maya Patil (Shahapurkar), head of the department of archaeology, University of Solapur, said, the skeleton was found during an excavation at a Satavahana-era site at Narkhed village in Solapur's Mohol taluka.

This early historic site is located near the Bhogawati river, which is a tributary of the Sina, that further merges into the Godavari. It is estimated to have been populated during the Satavahana era (between 200 BC and 200 AD). "This seems to have been a ritual burial as some pottery was also found above the body. The skeleton was found in a sitting position and had its arms under its hips. It had a copper earring in the right ear and something like a nail or a tooth strung around the neck using a thread," said Patil, adding that it was rare to find such ritual burials from the Satavahana era.

The skeleton was buried in the backyard of what seemed to be a house indicating that the people in that era believed in rebirth. They may have wanted the dead person to be reborn in the same house or family. "We will study this to understand how society, and especially, practices of cremating or burying the dead have evolved over the years," Patil said. She said they had also involved anthropologists from the Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute in Pune for the study.

"The DNA testing of the skeleton is also proposed to check the age and sex of the individual and if the people who inhabited the site belonged to local genetic stock or were migrants," noted Patil. Experts in pottery have deduced that the pottery found at the burial site might be from the Chalcolithic period. Excavations at the site have also revealed that the flourishing agrarian and trading culture faced a decline due to factors like climate change. The Satavahana dynasty was among the first indigenous rulers of Maharashtra. The kingdom is said to have reached its pinnacle under the reign of Gautamiputra Satakarni, who defeated the Western Satrap king Nahapana in the second century. The 'Gatha Saptashati,' a collection of poems and folk songs, was compiled by King Hala Satavahana.

-https://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-maharashtra-solapur-excavation-of-human-skeleton-sheds-light-on-ritual-burial-practices-2726114, March 5, 2019

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Sevasi stepwell stepping into history

Over five centuries ago, this stepwell was a lifeline for residents of Sevasi and surrounding villages. Sevasi vaav built in the memory of spiritual leader Vidhyadhar was an architectural marvel and quite popular among the locals. But, this 542-year-old stepwell located right at the entrance of Sevasi village is in shambles and completely neglected now. Though different teams of archaeology department and the district administration have visited the stepwell over last few years, not much has been done to refurbish it. “This stepwell used to be the pride of our village.

I still remember how as kids, we used to play in this vaav that also provided water round-the-year. But now many portions of this stepwell are in dilapidated condition,” said Dinesh Patel, who has been looking after the stepwell for the last 15 years. The stepwell’s entrance is impressive but when one looks up, a damaged dome greets you. “The wall on the left is bending backwards and may collapse any time. Also, the plaster of the interior walls has come off at many places, exposing the bricks inside. One of the pillars at the bottom of the vaav is standing in precarious position," Patel told TOI.

The stepwell used to have abundant water a couple of decades ago as the 30-feet deep well inside was live. But soon the well dried up as the natural source of underground water got blocked. “Also, locals keep disposing lot of waste in the well causing it to dry up. There is no one to look after this beautiful stepwell that can still can be saved,” said Patel who last saw water in the vaav in 2013. A couple of years ago, the district administration led by the then collector Avantika Singh visited the vaav, raising hopes of its restoration and revival. “But nothing happened later. We want this vaav to be restored and looked after,” said another local Dilip Patel. When contacted, Pankaj Sharma, director (in-charge), state archaeology department said, “The restoration will start soon.

We are currently documenting all the monuments under us and once the report is ready, we will begin restoring them.” Patel said that he used to clean up the entire stepwell and light diyas in the two temples inside till last year. “I am having medical condition now so I hired a labourer who now cleans the vaav,” he added.

-https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/sevasi-stepwell-stepping-into-history/articleshow/68277550.cms, March 6, 2019

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800-yr-old Kakatiya era temple in Warangal nominated for UNESCO World Heritage tag

Ramappa Temple, built in 1213 AD, is famous for its floating bricks and intricate car. From the Nizam era monuments to the classic Kakatiya era art, Telangana is home to diverse heritage sites. And in a significant achievement, the Ramappa Temple in Warangal, a Kakatiya era structure, has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage site selection process for 2019. Furthermore, it is India’s only entry this year. Located in Palmapet in Mulugu district, the Ramappa Temple, also known as the Ramalingeshwara Temple, dates back to 1213 AD and was built by General Recherla Rudra, during the period of the Kakatiya ruler Ganapati Deva. The temple, known for its beautiful intricate carvings, is the only temple in the country which has been named after its sculptor, Ramappa, who took 40 years to build the temple. The temple is an 800-year-old engineering marvel of the Kakatiya dynasty, for many reasons.

The temple falls under the protection of the Kakatiya Heritage Trust (KHT) that has been pushing for the World Heritage tag since 2012.

Retired IAS officer and one of the trustees of KHT, BV Papa Rao, had started preparing the dossier for the World Heritage site back in 2012, even before the formation of the Telangana state. The dossier was submitted to the Centre in 2018 along with the dossier of Jaipur city. Both technically qualified but the Centre chose Jaipur city over Ramappa Temple in 2018. And finally in 2019, the temple became the country’s only nomination for the World Heritage site selection process.

What makes Ramappa Temple special?
Telangana has no dearth of heritage sites, thanks to the architectural brilliance of the many dynasties that ruled the state for centuries. While Golconda, Charminar and the Qutub Shahi tombs have been major tourist attractions for the past several decades, what makes this little known temple in a sleepy town in Warangal qualify as a World Heritage site? Speaking to TNM, Professor Panduranga Rao, one of the trustees of the Ramappa Temple, says that it is the universal values of the temple structure that can fetch the temple its World Heritage tag in a year or two. Though the temple was built 800 years ago, the technology employed then made the temple stand tall, enduring the tyranny of ages, Rao opines. “We expect the UNESCO teams to visit the temple in the coming months and ascertain its universal values that can put the Ramappa temple under the World Heritage sites. There are four major factors that make the temple truly one of its kind. The first is the floating bricks of the temple,” Rao says. “The roof (garbhalayam) of the temple is built with bricks which are so light that they can float on water. The second is the sand box technology on which the Ramappa temple was built, which made it resistant to earthquakes and other natural calamities. Depending on the size and area of the construction, the earth was dug three meters deep for the foundation. It was then filled with sand and for the sand mixture to become strong, it was mixed with granite, jaggery and Karakkaya (Chebula),” the professor adds.

Thirdly, the temple is known for its intricate carvings, the most famous one being the flute at the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum, which when hit makes the sound of sa-ri-ga-ma. “The temple was carved with dolomite rocks, which are so intricate that even a hair can pass through it. The pillars have 13 significant carvings, probably indicating the thirteenth century during which the temple was built,” Rao explains. “The fourth is the might of the structure, which despite years of wear and tear, has not led to its collapse. There are cracks from the beams on the temple floor but despite this, the structure has not collapsed. Such was the architectural marvel of the Kakatiya dynasty which still remains unique,” adds Rao. The Kakatiya Heritage Trust and the state government are hopeful of making it to the list this time since the Ramappa Temple has been in the tentative list of the UNESCO world heritage sites since 2013.

“We have been pushing for the heritage tag since 2012 and it was after the formation of the Telangana state that we got support from the government which helped us prepare the dossier after attending preparatory meetings by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Ramappa Temple truly qualifies to be a world heritage site as it is one of those few sites that humbles your body and spirit,” the professor notes.

- https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/800-yr-old-kakatiya-era-temple-warangal-nominated-unesco-world-heritage-tag-97857, March 7, 2019

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DakshinaChitra offering internship in museum and arts management

Ramappa Temple, built in 1213 AD, is famous for its floating bricks and intricate car. From the Nizam era monuments to the classic Kakatiya era art, Telangana is home to diverse heritage sites. And in a significant achievement, the Ramappa Temple in Warangal, a Kakatiya era structure, has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage site selection process for 2019. Furthermore, it is India’s only entry this year. Located in Palmapet in Mulugu district, the Ramappa Temple, also known as the Ramalingeshwara Temple, dates back to 1213 AD and was built by General Recherla Rudra, during the period of the Kakatiya ruler Ganapati Deva. The temple, known for its beautiful intricate carvings, is the only temple in the country which has been named after its sculptor, Ramappa, who took 40 years to build the temple. The temple is an 800-year-old engineering marvel of the Kakatiya dynasty, for many reasons.

The temple falls under the protection of the Kakatiya Heritage Trust (KHT) that has been pushing for the World Heritage tag since 2012.

Retired IAS officer and one of the trustees of KHT, BV Papa Rao, had started preparing the dossier for the World Heritage site back in 2012, even before the formation of the Telangana state. The dossier was submitted to the Centre in 2018 along with the dossier of Jaipur city. Both technically qualified but the Centre chose Jaipur city over Ramappa Temple in 2018. And finally in 2019, the temple became the country’s only nomination for the World Heritage site selection process.

What makes Ramappa Temple special?
Telangana has no dearth of heritage sites, thanks to the architectural brilliance of the many dynasties that ruled the state for centuries. While Golconda, Charminar and the Qutub Shahi tombs have been major tourist attractions for the past several decades, what makes this little known temple in a sleepy town in Warangal qualify as a World Heritage site? Speaking to TNM, Professor Panduranga Rao, one of the trustees of the Ramappa Temple, says that it is the universal values of the temple structure that can fetch the temple its World Heritage tag in a year or two. Though the temple was built 800 years ago, the technology employed then made the temple stand tall, enduring the tyranny of ages, Rao opines. “We expect the UNESCO teams to visit the temple in the coming months and ascertain its universal values that can put the Ramappa temple under the World Heritage sites. There are four major factors that make the temple truly one of its kind. The first is the floating bricks of the temple,” Rao says. “The roof (garbhalayam) of the temple is built with bricks which are so light that they can float on water. The second is the sand box technology on which the Ramappa temple was built, which made it resistant to earthquakes and other natural calamities. Depending on the size and area of the construction, the earth was dug three meters deep for the foundation. It was then filled with sand and for the sand mixture to become strong, it was mixed with granite, jaggery and Karakkaya (Chebula),” the professor adds.

Thirdly, the temple is known for its intricate carvings, the most famous one being the flute at the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum, which when hit makes the sound of sa-ri-ga-ma. “The temple was carved with dolomite rocks, which are so intricate that even a hair can pass through it. The pillars have 13 significant carvings, probably indicating the thirteenth century during which the temple was built,” Rao explains. “The fourth is the might of the structure, which despite years of wear and tear, has not led to its collapse. There are cracks from the beams on the temple floor but despite this, the structure has not collapsed. Such was the architectural marvel of the Kakatiya dynasty which still remains unique,” adds Rao. The Kakatiya Heritage Trust and the state government are hopeful of making it to the list this time since the Ramappa Temple has been in the tentative list of the UNESCO world heritage sites since 2013.

“We have been pushing for the heritage tag since 2012 and it was after the formation of the Telangana state that we got support from the government which helped us prepare the dossier after attending preparatory meetings by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Ramappa Temple truly qualifies to be a world heritage site as it is one of those few sites that humbles your body and spirit,” the professor notes.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/dakshinachitra-offering-internship-in-museum-and-arts-management/articleshow/68290057.cms, March 7, 2019

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Women's Day: Explorers of Vadnagar

In the past five years, a team of archaeologists have literally rewritten the history of Vadnagar, PM Narendra Modi’s home town, with a string of new discoveries. The team from Excavation Branch V of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is behind the finds including a mega structure, a string of artifacts such as shell bangles, precious and semi-precious stones, a cache of coins and complete sequencing of the town going over 2,200 years back. Dr Abhijit Ambekar, deputy superintending archaeologist, mentioned that out of the nine archaeologists working on the project, five – Aswathy Sukumaran, Grace Ann Varkey, Isanee Sengupta, Ananya Chakraborty and Gayathri RS — are women. Moreover, the editing of all technical reports are done by Reema Naik from ASI Goa.

“They never give in to adversities ranging from extreme weather to working for hours in damp trenches. Aswathy continued her work in a 16 metre deep trench despite a minor accident whereas Isanee survived a fall from 4 metre height but it did not deter her from work for long,” said Ambekar. Hailing from West Bengal, Isanee considers her work at Gunja satisfying.

“I had to learn Hindi to work with the locals — there were also challenges of weather but at the end of the day, I know that my work is contributing to the knowledge about the place,” she said. Aswathy from Kerala got hooked to archaeology at a young age. “Sometimes it used to get difficult to breath properly when you spend four hours at a stretch in a 52-foot deep trench. But it was a thrill to re-discover the history first-hand,” she said.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/explorers-of-vadnagar/articleshow/68310833.cms, March 8, 2019

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A 24-year-old woman is leading the way to catalogue biodiversity of a small Goan island

In Goa’s serene Divar Island, encircled by the Mandovi River, a 24-year old biologist is busy prodding her neighbours, asking questions and jogging their memories, to help chronicle the island’s natural heritage resource. Her age notwithstanding, Hycintha Aguiar, as chairperson of a local biodiversity management committee (BMC) is in charge of putting together a people’s biodiversity register (PBR) in consultation with the community. “The book will be a treasure of knowledge collected from the island. I am trying to get the students to document the biodiversity in the form of school assignments. When they speak to the elders they will learn more about their island,” gushed Aguiar, a zoology postgraduate from the Goa University. Speaking to this visiting Mongabay-India correspondent in Divar’s Piedade village, Aguiar discussed the importance of drawing up a people’s biodiversity register – an unusual scientific activity for the people and by the people.

A PBR contains comprehensive information on availability and knowledge of local biological resources, their medicinal or any other use or any other traditional knowledge associated with them. Preparing PBRs is mandated under India’s Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Rules, 2004. “Conducting the surveys to document nature’s bounty is a slow but steady process but it brings people back in touch with nature. I want people to have some ownership over the register. Different communities have different connections with nature and we are trying to bring that out,” Aguiar said.
Documenting traditional knowledge to conserve the future With its elegant Portuguese-style houses and imposing Baroque edifices, mangrove-fringed Divar is home to close to 5000 inhabitants who trace their roots to India’s smallest state before the 16th century Portuguese Inquisition. 21st-century Divar, where everyone knows everyone, is administered under two village councils: the Goltim-Navelim village panchayat and the Sao Matias panchayat. Aguiar chairs the BMC of the Goltim-Navelim village panchayat with 2700 inhabitants in the throes of change. “As an islander, I had always wanted to do something for my birthplace.

I can see that things are changing fast and things are going out of hand. When I became a biologist I realised we can do things in a more systematic way (through the PBR),” Aguiar asserted.

One of the prominent ecosystem features in Goa, including in Divar, is the fast-vanishing ‘khazan’ agricultural lands, reclaimed over centuries from marshy mangrove swamps. They are traditionally community managed, integrated agro-aqua ecosystems where a system of bunds (dykes), sluice gates and canals shields the fields from the invasion of saline water. Community management and monitoring have gradually collapsed and with embankments breached, salt water has submerged vast tract of paddy fields. Aguiar hopes cataloguing traditional knowledge across domains and communities will prevent further disruptions of the natural wealth that Divar has to offer. For instance, the Korgut, a traditional rice landrace known for its tolerance to salinity stress at the seedling stage.

The germplasm is now registered with the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi. Even the older sluice bunds (retaining walls) in khazan lands shelter smooth-coated otter populations. “The sluice walls have otter dens and are used by otters for eating, defecation and grooming,” said Aguiar. Referring to the legal nature of the PBR as endorsed by the state biodiversity boards, Aguiar said: “Since it is a legal tool, we can use it to prevent activities that harm biodiversity. It will also ensure fair and equitable sharing of benefits of the use of the resources.” Like other millennials, Aguiar has reached out to her peers and seniors through social media and is planning to deploy citizen science for mapping insect and bird biodiversity. Her friend Saili Shirodhkar has also played a key role among the young blood of Divar.

In December last year (2018), Aguiar and her biodiversity management committee members organised a bird walk to explore the mangroves in Divar and familiarise themselves with a variety of birds. “There were 60 participants in the bird walk, which is a big deal for our small island. We have come together in a WhatsApp group for further discussions,” she said. At the outset, Aguiar has been trying to get women to participate in the meetings organised for the exchange of ideas.

“We organise small group meetings where people talk to each other on the biological resources. This way we know there is no duplication of information. But we see mostly men in these meetings,” she said. “But the women have a very good recollection of traditional knowledge. So we are modifying our approach and hopefully we will get more women to speak up,” Aguiar said. On the importance of bridging the gender gap, Sangita Mitra of the National Biodiversity Authority adds that at ground level, bioresources are handled, preserved, and cultivated by women over the ages. “Some of the traditional healers are women. While preparing a PBR, they must be involved.

However, there should not be any gender bias. It has to be more practical and technically sound,” Mitra told Mongabay-India. Monalisa Sen, Programme Coordinator (Biodiversity) at ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia, observed folk songs that are connected to nature and are now diminishing comes from women and so does the knowledge of the application of plants that are used in childcare. “We always make it a point to have separate discussions with women on these. We have focused group discussions and we identify leaders who will talk a little more.

We sit with them and understand what is happening,” Sen told Mongabay-India. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, South Asia is providing technical assistance to the BMCs in 10 villages to develop the PBRs with support from the Goa State Biodiversity Board. Biodiversity conservation by the people and for the people. As many as 6449 PBRs have been put together so far covering 21 of the 29 states in India. Karnataka has 1777 PBRs while Sikkim has four as per NBA’s updated list. Drawing up the PBR has taken root in Goa now. “Some of the states are in process of preparing PBR in good numbers. It is an exhaustive process and needs validation by technical support groups/ expertise of various disciplines. Hence one PBR may take one to two years even for final drafting. There is no fixed time frame. It depends on the process and richness of resources in an area,” Mitra said.

- https://india.mongabay.com/2019/03/a-24-year-old-woman-is-leading-the-way-to-catalogue-biodiversity-of-a-small-goan-island/, March 8, 2019

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Watching royal abode come apart bit by bit

A royal abode at one point of time and a place buzzing with government offices – Bhadra today is a far cry from what it used to be. Located near Panigate, the structure is falling apart bit by bit and attempts to restore it have drawn a naught. Bhadra is where the rulers of Baroda used to stay till about two centuries back. After the royalty shifted to other more comfortable abodes, it was used for administrative purposes.

Till around the year 2000 too, it was used by government offices. The Vadodara taluka panchayat and some offices of the revenue departments too existed here. Nobody seems to have cared for the structure after it was completely vacated. The structure was also vandalized and some items like doors, pillars and grills were also removed from it. Today one can see collapsed pillars and slabs all around with the façade and the rooms adjoining it remaining intact. An ornate marble ‘jharokha’ on the façade bears testimony to the glorious past of the structure. Meandering through the structure today is a daunting task and the foul smell of bat faeces is all around.

Bhadra seems to be on its way to be reduced to ruins. Efforts were made for the restoration of the structure and detailed reports were prepared by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), but no concrete work took place at the site. INTACH experts, including those from Delhi, had examined the site and prepared the reports in 2015 after being invited to do so by the then district collector Avantika Singh. The district administration was looking to get funds for conservation of select monuments including Bhadra from the state government. The idea of corporates sponsoring works on such monuments was also being examined.

INTACH state co-convener Sanjeev Joshi said that two separate reports were prepared for Bhadra. One of them was of developing a simple theatrical seating around the façade for performances. The other report was on complete restoration of the structure. “Extensive efforts were put in for preparing the reports. The project also aimed at bringing people back to the old city by having events with the Bhadra as the backdrop,” Joshi said. But nothing was heard of the reports later.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/watching-royal-abode-come-apart-bit-by-bit/articleshow/68339003.cms, March 11, 2019

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This Gurugram woman cares for the city's past and nurtures it

Over the past one year, Munjal has been making rounds of various government offices in Gurugram to give a fresh lease of life to the 114-year-old Badshahpur Baoli. In January 2018, a group of students and teachers came together and visited the 114-year-old Badshahpur Baoli— which faced the prospect of being filled up with sand ahead of the construction of an impending road in its vicinity. Parul Munjal, an academician, was among those who had mobilised this group of students in a bid to save the baoli and prevent further damage to it. She reached out to other heritage enthusiasts in the city, and together they made sure that the process of filling up the baoli was called off. “When I reached the site with my students, we saw the baoli was being filled up with sand.

A well at the site had been completely covered. We feared that the baoli would perish, and decided to raise an alarm. We informed heritage bodies and concerned citizens, and finally left the place after being assured that the baoli wouldn’t be covered up,” said Munjal. Over the past one year, Munjal has been making rounds of various government offices in the city to give a fresh lease of life to the baoli. While her efforts continue, in the process, she has managed to sensitise citizens about the importance of preserving the structure. Born and brought up in Delhi, Munjal moved to Gurugram in 2004. She, however, wasn’t new to the city. Even as a Delhi resident, she had been visiting the city as a student of a private university. “Fragmented interaction with the city, while studying here, helped me discover the city’s heritage. Later, I shifted base to the city, and since then everyday has been a day of discovery of the city’s heritage and history,” said Munjal. Over the past few years, she has not only become the go-to heritage person for her students and colleagues, but also for other heritage enthusiasts in the city. From spearheading awareness campaigns around heritage structures in the city to on ground conservation work, she has become an integral part of a community that seeks to start a conversation around heritage. In line with the same goal, she started motivating her students to move beyond Delhi and explore the heritage in Gurugram.

“The idea was to work with heritage in the city, and move beyond the heritage in Delhi. Delhi is something that everyone has been working on. It has been studied in length and the heritage has been mapped. Heritage in Gurugram is neither mapped nor is there any awareness about it. In order to change that, I started encouraging my students to look at heritage within the city, and got a student to look at the Badshahpur baoli project in 2012,” she explained. Along with other experts and enthusiasts, Munjal has been striving to create awareness about heritage in the city. More recently, she also applied for a funding from the World Monuments Fund for conservation of the baoli.

She is also working in collaboration with INTACH for restoration work of a 19th-century French memorial. “Parul is a human dynamo capable of doing multiple tasks simultaneously – and all of them are done well. Her knowledge of the heritage of Gurugram, a city she has adopted, is enviable. She is ever willing to take on responsibility and contribute towards heritage conservation, both in terms of time and quality. She is among the most sought after personality in the field of heritage conservation in the city,” said Atul Dev, convener of the Gurugram chapter of INTACH.

Dev has been associated with Munjal during INTACH’s efforts to restore and preserve some heritage monuments in Gurugram. Apart from the restoration work of the French memorial, Munjal has launched a 100-day campaign to map the Cawn Sarai in Sadar Bazar and create awareness about it. “People in the city have started looking at heritage structures as mere property or land banks. This necessitates that a value for heritage in the city is generated,” said Munjal, who strives to develop this understanding or value of heritage among the people.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/gurugram/this-gurugram-woman-cares-for-the-city-s-past-and-nurtures-it/story-1vgj0csfFdgJcxlzTKGGAJ.html, March 11, 2019

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At Mumbai's 1st children's museum, an exhibition curated by kids

The museum displays a wide range of art, from ancient sculptures to contemporary paintings, depicting India’s rich culture and heritage, re-interpreted through a child’s imagination. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) will open its first children’s museum, unveiled on Saturday, to the public on Match 29. “After wrapping up a few formalities, we hope to throw open the museum to Mumbai on March 29,” said Sabyasachi Mukherjee, director general, CSMVS. In what young museum enthusiasts may find interesting, the space has been put together by 25 of their peers aged between 8 and 14, who were selected for the task through an inter-school art and essay competition held last year, in which they had to write about the museum of their dreams. As many as 500 children took part in the competition in schools across Mumbai. The museum displays a wide range of art, from ancient sculptures to contemporary paintings, depicting India’s rich culture and heritage, re-interpreted through a child’s imagination. Bilwa Kulkarni, assistant curator (education), CSMVS, told The Indian Express, “We did not want this to be just a toy museum for a segment of children, but one in which children could grapple with the complexities of what comes with putting together a real exhibition.”

All items in the museum were curated by the children. Kulkarni added, “The 22 pieces have been taken from the CSMVS museum itself but the descriptions for each of them have been done by the children. They decided on what pieces would be part of the museum and they will keep changing every six months, when another set of children shall curate another such exhibition.

Mukherjee, the director general, said, “The idea was to create a dedicated space for children within the museum. It will be a space for child curiosity and enhance and reinstate the nature-culture bond that is fast vanishing from our busy city life. It is our responsibility as a major cultural institution of Mumbai to think about children and establish a space for deeper engagement with histories and the arts.” The idea of the museum first came about in July last year and had been put together in partnership with the Bank of America. “As a museum visited by more than 3,00,000 children every year, it was our desire to not just acknowledge children as a significant audience but also give them their own space that allows them to grow in an uninhibited manner,” said Mukherjee.

- https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/at-mumbais-1st-childrens-museum-an-exhibition-curated-by-kids-5619905/, March 11, 2019

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Delhi: 157-year-old library set for revamp

The revamp project for the 157-year-old Lala Hardyal Municipal Library, a heritage institution, has finally been given a go-ahead. North Delhi Municipal Corporation, its parent body, has issued tenders for the Rs 1.5-crore first phase, which is expected to be over in 12 months. The project is being carried out on the basis of a detailed conservation report prepared by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Rekha Sinha, the Burari councillor and honorary secretary of the library, said the project would utilise the Rs 3-crore corpus funds provided by the lieutenant governor’s office.

“The project involves modification and renovation of the structure. The old books are also to be preserved and the entire catalogue will be computerised,” she said. The digitsation of Mughal-era texts and rare books is also on the card. The complex, located behind the Town Hall in Chandni Chowk, has been divided into three parts. “To ensure that daily functioning is not impacted, the project will be carried out only in one part at one time,” Sinha said.

Though 12 months have been earmarked for the first phase, it is expected to be over in 250 days, she added. Recommended By Colombia The library, set up in 1862, has around 8,000 rare books and manuscripts — many first editions, some of which were block-printed in 17th and 18th centuries; a few rare surviving copies and many old Persian manuscripts with golden inscriptions. One can even find the restored ‘History of the Worlds’ by Sir Walter Raleigh from 1677. The library was started as part of a reading club meant for the whites. Englishmen coming to India used to carry a lot of books with them for the months-long sea journey.

These books were often donated to the reading room, Institute Library, which was part of Lawrence Institute named after the then Viceroy of India. The present building was constructed between 1861 and 1866. “The heritage structure will not be touched. The work involves slight modification of walls, electricity lines, flooring, fire system, closing leakages and replacing furniture,” Sinha said. The oldest library of Delhi, which celebrated its centenary year at the current location in 2017, depends entirely on the grant-cum-aid of the corporation, which itself is in financial distress and, hence, often doesn’t release necessary funds for several months. Many of its members are students, mostly from underprivileged backgrounds preparing for competitive exams.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/157-yr-old-library-set-for-revamp/articleshow/68365610.cms, March 13, 2019

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5,000-year-old human skeleton found in Kutch; dates back to Harappan civilisation

Archaeologists have found a massive burial site dating back to the Harappan civilization, around 360km from Dholavira in Gujarat's Kutch district. Archaeologists said this site is 300 m x 300 m big with more than 250 graves out of which 26 have been excavated. They found one full human skeleton that is around six feet in length, estimated to be around 5,000 years old. The find has lent further credence to the possibility of big human settlement at this place. Moreover, it is for the first time that burial sites in rectangular shapes have been found in Gujarat. The burial site is estimated to be 4,600 to 5,200 years old.

“All the burial sites found in Gujarat till date are either circular or semi circular. We are trying to establish the significance of this rectangular shape,” added Bhandari. First rectangular graveyard found. Suresh Bhandari, head of Department of Archaeology, Kutch University said: “The skeleton has been taken to Kerala University for determining its age, possible reason for death and knowing its gender.” The excavation was done jointly by the Kutch University and Kerala University near Khatia village of Lakhpat taluka. It’s first time in Gujarat rectangular burial sites have been found. According to faculty members, the burials are more or less rectangular in shape with sound wall rocks in the east-west direction. The head was placed in east and foot in the west.

The biggest grave is around 6.9 meter while the smallest is around 1.2 meter. Besides the human skeleton, animal remains have also been documented from the site. Artefacts like shell bangles, grinding stones, blades made from rock having razor sharp edges, rock beads have also been excavated from the site. All these will also be studied in detail to know the rituals and social deeds in the community during that time. “Studies of the potteries as well as rock blocks will enhance our knowledge about the different techniques employed and the raw material used for making them.

The material excavated from this site will be studied at various laboratories in India to know the history of people living near Khatia during early Harappan period,” he said. The graves also contained pottery vessels with maximum 19 to a minimum three, placed near the foot. Archaeologists have said that these kind of vessels have been found in Amri, Naal and Kot in Pakistan, Nagwada, Chatrad Saheli, Moti Pipali of North Gujarat and Surkotda and Dhaneti in Kutch.

Graves of children have also been discovered at this site. “Geo-chemical analysis of all the excavated articles will be done but we can say with certainty that a human settlement flourished here,” added Bhandari. In Video: 5000-yr-old burial site found in Gujarat’s Kutch.

- https://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/others/5000-year-old-human -skeleton-found-in-kutch-dates-back-to-harappan-civilisation/articleshow/68373303.cms, March 13, 2019

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5,000-YO Skeleton Found in Kutch: What It Reveals About the Harappans

Dated between 2600 and 1900 BC, the Harappan civilisation was spread over Afghanistan, Sind, Balochistan, Jammu, Punjab, northern Rajasthan, Kathiawar, and Gujarat. A 47-member team comprising researchers and students of the University of Kerala and Kutch University set up camp in Khatiya village of Kutch for nearly two months. Why?
To unearth several skeletal remains from a burial site. Of the 300-odd graves at the site, 26 were excavated. Dated between 2600 and 1900 BC, the Harappan civilisation was spread over Afghanistan, Sind, Balochistan, Jammu, Punjab, northern Rajasthan, Kathiawar, and Gujarat. Among the excavated remains, there is one skeleton, six-feet-long, dated to be around 5,000 years old!

What does the excavation tell us about the civilisation?
–The graves were rectangular and of varying dimensions. They were assembled using stones. Some graves also have animal remains along with the human skeletons. The skeletons found within the grave were all placed east-west with the heads placed on the eastern side. Placed near the leg in the burial grave were earthen pots and shards of pottery. The biggest grave discovered here was about 6.9 meters, while the smallest one was around 1.2 meters. Grinding stones, blades made of rock with sharp edges, and bangles were also found from this site.

S V Rajesh, Assistant Professor, Department of Archaeology, University of Kerala, was one of the coordinators of the excavation. Speaking to The Hindu, he says, “While the burial of belongings next to the corpse could possibly suggest the prevalence of the concept of afterlife, much study is required before we could arrive at any such conclusions.” The excavations show that the drainage system adopted by the people was aimed at saving water.

Dr Rajesh tells Archeology News Network, “The pottery shards recovered bore similarities with the ones unearthed from ancient settlements in Harappan sites, including Kot Diji and Amri of Pakistan, and Nagwada, Santhali, Moti Pipli, Datrana, Surkotada, and Dhaneti in North Gujarat.” With more than 200 graves left to be excavated, these discoveries will enhance our knowledge of our past, telling us more about the people who inhabited our land before us and their ways of life.

- https://www.thebetterindia.com/174830/harappan-civilisation-kutch-burial-excavation-ancient-india/, March 14, 2019

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Affected villagers cry for means of livelihood, removal of Mapithel dam

Villagers in the vicinity of the Mapithel dam are even considering extreme step of destroying the dam, said villagers who have been affected by the dam today. The 'extreme step' was mentioned by the villagers on the occasion of the International Rivers Day (International Day of Action for Rivers) held at Yairipok Nungbrang, Imphal East demanding free flow of all rivers in the State. The observances was organised by Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected Village Level Committee (MDDAVLC), Mapithel Dam Downstream Affected People (MDDAP), Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur (CRAM) and Irabot Foundation, Manipur.

Speaking at the event, MDDAP president Yumlembam Thoiba asserted that the dam has rendered the villagers helpless and deprived them of their means to livelihood. The people of the villages near the dam on Thoubal river are suffering to the extreme as Government and authorities concerned didn't provide them with alternative means of livelihood before the construction of the dam, he said. The villagers on the downstream side of the dam are poor and are mainly cultivators by profession. They depended on the river for their livelihoods. All these have been affected by the dam which restricts the natural free flow of the Thoubal river, he added. Before the construction of the dam, the people of the area including women were mining river sand and stones for livelihood. The dam has shut down this as well, he said. The dam has not only shut down the means of income for these families but also the future of their children as well, he said. "These villagers need sound policy form the Government. They need skill development schemes to support their families and secure future of their children. If the Government is still adamant to the plight of the villagers, then they (villagers) will be forced to take up extreme actions to secure their future," said Thoiba hinting that the villagers want the dam 'removed'. He sought the immediate attention of Government to bring in a sound policy and alternative means of livelihood for the villagers. Kh Bimola, president of MDDAVLC recalled that people used to earn about Rs 1,500 per day mining the river sand when the dam was not there.

After the dam was constructed, the river stopped depositing sand forcing the villagers to abandon sand mining and look for another means of earning income for their families. Now, the villagers who earned about Rs 1,500 per day are not able to earn even Rs 200 per day. Supporting families and sending children to school are not possible anymore for these poor villagers, she said. The people at the observance marched down to the river bed with banner and placards that read "Remove Mapithel Dam", "Let the Thoubal River Flow Free", "Stop the Commissioning of Mapithel Dam" and "No to Dams over Rivers in Manipur" etc.

Yumnam Jiten of CRAM and Kh Gopen of Irabot Foundation Manipur, Kangjam Maharabi, secretary United Voluntary Youth Council, Nomita Devi of Youth Forum for Human Rights in Manipur and Nameirakpam Ibetombi, secretary MDDAVLC also attended the event.

Bishnupur: In Bishnupur district the International Day of Action for Rivers was also held at Thinungei Mayai Leikai Community Hall today. The programme was held under the theme "Restore the Riverine Systems of Loktak Lake" and organised by All Loktak Lake Area Fishermen's Union, Manipur (ALLAFUM), JAC Against Announcement of Thinungei Bird Sanctuary, Loktak Lake Fishermen Association and Indigenous Perspective.

RK Ranjan, convenor INTACH Manipur Chapter, O Rajen Singh, secretary ALLAFUM, Kh Ibomcha (advisor), N Thasana Devi (member), Athouba Khuraijam, general secretary UCM, Ram Wangkheirakpam, executive director Indigenous Perspective, Salam Joy Singh, secretary JAC Pumlen Pat, Irom Memma Devi, member JAC Against Announcement of Thinungei Bird Sanctuary and social workers Keisham Lukhoi, Thokchom Nimai and Laishram Sumati Devi attended the event.

Speakers at the event appealed all to preserve environment, forest and save river systems to ultimately save the historic Loktak Lake. Talking about the significance of the lakes in Manipur, RK Ranjan compared the Loktak Lake and Pumlen Pat (lake) with a pair of kidneys. He said that saving the river systems will ultimately save the kidneys (lakes) .

- http://e-pao.net/GP.asp?src=13..150319.mar19, March 15, 2019

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Urban Haat expected to be functional soon

A Bathinda-based private firm is all set to make the Urban Haat functional within a few months. Constructed with an aim to boost the city’s tourism, the replica of the famous Lahore Food Street has been crying for attention of the Amritsar Development Authority for long as project is non-functional even three years after its inauguration. The Amritsar Development Authority (ADA) had sublet it to a Bathinda-based firm in November 2018. The company will pay Rs 81 lakh annually to the ADA and has rights to accommodate food brands. Charanjit Singh, Sub-Divisional Officer, ADA, said, “We have given the company time to make arrangements.

The ADA will start collecting rent from July 11.” Amarjit Singh, owner of the firm, said, “We have all set to make the Urban Haat functional. The first phase will be inaugurated on August 15.

The company will start its marketing process next month. A large number of multinational brands will open their outlets.” It is worth mentioning here that then BJP-SAD government in the state had restored and revamped the abandoned 124-year-old colonial-era building of Victoria Jubilee Hospital in consultation with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage to attract tourists to taste Amritsar’s cuisine in 2015.

The project was inaugurated by the then deputy chief minister, Sukhbir Singh Badal, in May 2016 amidst much fanfare by organising Amritsar Heritage Festival in which people from 20 different states had taken part.

- https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/amritsar/urban-haat-expected-to-be-functional-soon/744247.html, March 18, 2019

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INTACH: Vedakumar Manikonda re-elected

Vedakumar Manikonda was re-elected as a member of the Governing Council of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), New Delhi, for the second consecutive term, according to a press release. A civil engineer by profession and a passionate heritage activist, Vedakumar has been associated with INTACH since 2001 and served as Governing Council Member of INTACH since 2016.

He previously served as co-convener of INTACH AP State Chapter till September 2014. Since 2019, he has been a member of ICOMOS, the release said. During his tenure, Vedakumar strongly advocated for the protection of heritage precincts, rock formations, monuments and vernacular architecture and took part in many heritage activities such as panel discussions, heritage walks and cultural events to commemorate heritage sites.

Being instrumental in establishing heritage clubs at schools and colleges in Telangana, Vedakumar protected more than 25 heritage buildings. Under his chairmanship, his organisation ‘Forum for a Better Hyderabad’ has contributed to issues such as urban planning and sustainable environmental management, the release added.

- https://telanganatoday.com/intach-vedakumar-manikonda-re-elected, March 18, 2019

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Health of Kolkata heritage buildings under scanner

The chunk of cement that fell from the ceiling of a heritage building missed an octogenarian former Union Minister -- a tenant -- but has brought to the fore the poor upkeep of the historic structures in the city, mainly due to the absence of proper laws. Ironically, the 109-year-old Park Mansion on the iconic Park Street had received a prestigious heritage award for restoration of the colonial era structure from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in 2013.

West Bengal Heritage Commission (WBHC) Chairman and well-known artist Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya said on an average two buildings of heritage value were being destroyed every day in Kolkata, the first capital of colonial India where the British East India Company had set up its base. "It is unfortunate that in Kolkata, almost two buildings of heritage importance are destroyed every day due to the lack of proper law.

I have no idea if the people are aware of this," Bhattacharya said. The city has as many as 1,475 heritage buildings. Bhattacharya said due to complex ownership a huge ancestral property, which upholds the city's culture and heritage, remains stuck in legal limbo. "Due to this, we also cannot take up the property. Some amendments should be made to the existing laws to safeguard the heritage properties. There should be a committee to look after the interest of all the parties," Bhattacharya said. According to the WBHC Chairman, the exterior of the Park Mansion was maintained well and if there were problems in the interior, it should have been taken care of.

"The tenants should not face any problem and, I believe, the owners will see to it," he said. The matter came to light on March 6 after the attendant of former Union Minister Debi Prasad Chattopadhyaya was awakened by a thud in the early hours of the day. Her foot was hurt and a cement chunk was found next to the bed-ridden Chattopadhyaya. The family members of the 87-year-old, credited with editing the 100-plus volumes of History of Indian Science Philosophy and Culture, alleged the root of the problem was a leakage on the floor above their apartment. "This is not the first time. Slabs had come off the ceiling earlier too. Every 5-6 years, we have do the maintenance works (like painting), which is our responsibility.

But the building is rotting from inside," said the ailing man's daughter-in-law Supriya Chattopadhyaya. In 2012, the leakage was noticed and conveyed to building owners, the Apeejay Surrendra Group, but in vain. Since 2016, Supriya has also approached the Kolkata Municipal Corporation several times since Park Mansion was a heritage property. Then Director General of KMC's Project Management Unit (PMU) Subrata K. Seal had also written that Park Mansion's interior required repairing. "Repair work is allowed without changing the characteristic dimension of the property. I had written the tenants can take up repair work to prevent any accident," Seal, now holding an advisory position post-retirement, told IANS. Seal said he had forwarded a no objection certificate (NOC) to the KMC's Building Department, which gave permissions related to construction and repair.

PMU Deputy Chief Engineer P.S. Samanta said if the heritage building was a private property, it was the owner's duty to do maintenance. My department could only send a request letter, he added. For five years, the KMC has been looking after conservation of the Khidirpur Bhukailash Temple, the Dalhousie area. However, after Sohini shared the ordeal on Facebook and the incident got media coverage, the family has received some messages from an unknown profile offering help. Later, she also received emails from the Apeejay Group. The repair work will, probably, start after March 25. "On March 11, I received an email from the Apeejay Group saying they will do the repair work, but haven't committed any date," Sohini said.

- https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/health-of-kolkata-heritage-buildings-under-scanner-119031700530_1.html, March 18, 2019

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Kolkata heritage buildings under scanner

The chunk of cement that fell from the ceiling of a heritage building missed an octogenarian former Union Minister — a tenant — but has brought to the fore the poor upkeep of the historic structures in the city, mainly due to the absence of proper laws. Ironically, the 109-year-old Park Mansion on the iconic Park Street had received a prestigious heritage award for restoration of the colonial era structure from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in 2013. West Bengal Heritage Commission (WBHC) Chairman and artist Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya said on an average two buildings of heritage value were being destroyed every day in Kolkata, the first capital of colonial India where the British East India Company had set up its base. “It is unfortunate that in Kolkata, almost two buildings of heritage importance are destroyed every day due to the lack of proper law.

I have no idea if the people are aware of this,” Bhattacharya said. The city has as many as 1,475 heritage buildings. Bhattacharya said due to complex ownership a huge ancestral property, which upholds the city's culture and heritage, remains stuck in legal limbo. “Due to this, we also cannot take up the property. Some amendments should be made to the existing laws to safeguard the heritage properties. There should be a committee to look after the interest of all the parties,” Bhattacharya said.

- https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/health-of-kolkata-heritage-buildings-under-scanner-119031700530_1.html, March 18, 2019

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Ramappa Temple named for World Heritage site tag

Having been pipped at the post by Jaipur City last year, the 800-year-old Warangal-based Ramappa Temple, the only temple in the country named after its sculptor Rampapa, has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage site selection process for 2019. It is India's only entry this year. The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has written to the UNESCO for its nomination, said sources in the premier conservation agency under the Union Culture Ministry. Located in Palmapet in Mulugu district, the Ramappa Temple, also known as the Ramalingeshwara Temple, dates back to 1213 AD during the period of the Kakatiya ruler Ganapati Deva.

Now the temple, known for its architectural marvel is under the protection of the Kakatiya Heritage Trust (KHT) that has been pushing it for the World Heritage tag since 2012, even before the formation of the Telangana State. The dossier was submitted to the Centre in 2018 along with the dossier of Jaipur city. Both technically qualified but the Centre chose Jaipur city over Ramappa Temple in 2018. Now, said an official in the ASI, the temple has become the country's only nomination for the World Heritage site selection process.

While many structures of the 1200 AD era are now in poor status, this temple, dedicated to God Shiva seems to have remain untouched by the vagaries of the weather. For instance, there are cracks from the beams on the temple floor but despite this, the structure has not collapsed. “The temple roof (garbhalayam) of the temple is built with bricks which are so light that they can float on water. Also, it is built on the sand box technology, which made it resistant to earthquakes and other natural calamities.

Depending on the size and area of the construction, the earth was dug three meters deep for the foundation. It was then filled with sand and for the sand mixture to become strong, it was mixed with granite, jaggery and Karakkaya (Chebula),” said the ASI official. Another unique feature of the temple is that it was carved with dolomite rocks, which are so intricate that even a hair can pass through it. The pillars have 13 significant carvings, probably indicating the thirteenth century during which the temple was built. Every Shivratri, a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple witnesses huge congregation of Hindu devotees.

- https://www.dailypioneer.com/2019/india/ramappa-temple-named-for-world-heritage-site-tag.html, March 18, 2019

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Delhi, Gurgaon students join global protest against climate change

Armed with banners and placards, Delhi students gathered in Central Park and urged the government to act against climate change Normally, when students bunk school, parents and teachers are up in arms against it. So it was quite unusual then when hundreds of students from dozens of schools across Delhi and Gurgaon decided to bunk their classes, they were not only supported, but in some cases even chaperoned by their teachers and guardians. The students were part of a strike against climate change, a global movement spread across 40 countries. The movement was started in last August by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has been striking from school every Friday for the last seven months to stand outside the Swedish Parliament, demanding that they adhere to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Since then, Greta’s movement has spread across the world, and she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. On March 15, students in Indian cities took part in the strike for the first time. The students in Gurgaon chose the waste art installation in Wazirabad Bundh as their venue of protest.

Hundreds of students converged at the site, many still in their school uniforms, carrying banners and placards In Delhi, students from different organizations and over 25 schools came together in Central Park, Connaught Place, to join the Global Climate Strike, along with environmentalists, researchers and educators.

Amaya Naarang, a Class VI student at the protest, asked, “Why should we go to school and study when our future is being eaten up by climate change? The Earth is already warmer by 1 degree Celsius and is likely to be warmer by 2 degree Celsius if we don’t act. Scientists say there are only 12 years left to ensure that Earth doesn’t get warmer, which will result in a terrible environment to survive in.” Holding handmade placards, the students urged the government to act against climate change. “Despite Delhi being the most polluted capital in the world, there are trees being chopped in the name of development. Not a single political party has environment on their agenda. We demand that government take immediate steps to curb pollution in the city and save our future,” said Gurpreet Kohli, a 15-year-old student from Punjabi Bagh. Amy, who works in the Canadian embassy, said, “We have just shifted here and can already feel the high pollution levels in the city. I am worried it may have an adverse effect on my children’s health in the long-term.” Her 11-year-old son Simon said that the family have made changes in their lifestyle for a sustainable living.

“Whenever we go shopping we take our own bags, we use our own glass water bottles and reusable food containers. We don’t use single-use plastic at all,” he said. Students across a warming globe pleaded for their lives, future and planet on Friday, demanding tough action on climate change. From the South Pacific to the edge of the Arctic Circle, angry students in more than 100 countries walked out of classes to protest. The coordinated “school strikes” were inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who began holding solitary monstrations outside the Swedish parliament last year.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/delhi-gurgaon-students-join-global-protest-against-climate-change/articleshow/68439250.cms, March 18, 2019

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Kolkata heritage buildings under scanner

The chunk of cement that fell from the ceiling of a heritage building missed an octogenarian former Union Minister — a tenant — but has brought to the fore the poor upkeep of the historic structures in the city, mainly due to the absence of proper laws. Ironically, the 109-year-old Park Mansion on the iconic Park Street had received a prestigious heritage award for restoration of the colonial era structure from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in 2013.

West Bengal Heritage Commission (WBHC) Chairman and artist Shuvaprasanna Bhattacharya said on an average two buildings of heritage value were being destroyed every day in Kolkata, the first capital of colonial India where the British East India Company had set up its base. “It is unfortunate that in Kolkata, almost two buildings of heritage importance are destroyed every day due to the lack of proper law. I have no idea if the people are aware of this,” Bhattacharya said. The city has as many as 1,475 heritage buildings.

Bhattacharya said due to complex ownership a huge ancestral property, which upholds the city's culture and heritage, remains stuck in legal limbo. “Due to this, we also cannot take up the property. Some amendments should be made to the existing laws to safeguard the heritage properties. There should be a committee to look after the interest of all the parties,” Bhattacharya said.

- https://www.dailypioneer.com/2019/vivacity/kolkata-heritage-buildings-under-scanner.html, March 19, 2019

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World Sparrow Day: Why We Need to Save These Ubiquitous Little Birds

It’s among the most ubiquitous birds on earth and one of our oldest winged companions. In the Bible, the sparrow is a symbol of God’s concern for even the smallest and most insignificant life forms. Roman mythology describes the sparrow as one of Venus’ holy animals, which also draws the Love Goddess’ chariot. In popular prose and poetry, this feisty bird is a symbol of love and lust. Yet, recent history hasn’t been kind to the sparrows. The 20th century saw the brutal extermination of millions of tree sparrows in China. Between 1958 and 1962, the Communist Party mobilised peasants as part of a massive pest control campaign.

Peasants were ordered to go out to the fields and chase the sparrows with sticks, break their nests and eggs, while screaming, beating drums and making a noise in every possible way. The frightened birds flew away but the endless noise prevented them from landing again. Constant flying exhausted the sparrows and they simply collapsed. In this way, millions of sparrows were slaughtered during the Great Sparrow Campaign. There are 24 known varieties of sparrows in the world. Over the years, their population has reduced drastically. This, even as evidence emerges that in its 10,000 years of documented existence, the House sparrow (Passer domesticus)—the most commonly found variety in India—has evolved in surprising ways to match human evolutionary patterns. Not only does it live close to human settlements, its genes have also evolved to enable its body to eat and digest human-cultivated food.

Recent studies have revealed that the evolutionary process of natural selection may have favoured genetic changes that altered their skull shape and allowed them to digest starch like other domesticated animals such as dogs. While exact population estimates are unavailable, some reports suggest a decline of 80 per cent in India’s sparrow population. One of the key reasons for this decline is our changing urban lifestyle, which causes habitat destruction. Sparrows prefer to live in crevices and holes of man-made structures rather than naturally occurring nesting sites in forests or woodlands. Modern buildings, often made of glass, or inaccessible houses that are mostly netted, are devoid of cavities that provide a suitable nesting space for the sparrow. Also, the concrete jungles we live in lack essential green spaces and native trees required for nesting, feeding, breeding and roosting (i.e. raising offspring). Access to food is another problem for the House sparrow which thrives on high-protein diets comprising insects, grains, seeds and food crumbs left by humans. Modern agriculture is a huge culprit. The rampant use of insecticides and pesticides has resulted in the decline in the availability of insect-feed needed by new-born sparrows.

Conservationist Mohammed Dilawar, Founder & President - Nature Forever Society adds that contemporary urban living habits are limiting the sparrow’s access to food. “Earlier, our doors and windows would remain open all day while people sat and cleaned food grains at home. Shopkeepers would also keep grains for sale in open sacks, quite unlike packed grains sold in shops and closed supermarkets today. The birds have lost the luxury of flying indoors for a quick bite.” Like every living creature, sparrows are important for preserving our natural ecosystem. Back in 1960, following China’s Great Sparrow Campaign, China suffered its worst famine. The Communists hadn’t realised that sparrows don’t just eat crops, but also insects. Following their elimination, China’s locust population soared and destroyed crops. Grain production in most rural areas collapsed, triggering a famine.

Millions of people starved to death. Sparrows also play a vital role in the food chain. They feed on small insects and worms such as caterpillars, beetles and aphids. Some of these creatures destroy plants and the sparrow helps keeps their numbers in check. In turn, they also serve as prey for larger birds like hawks and snakes. World Sparrow Day is an initiative of the Nature Forever Society and was first observed in 2010. Today, there is plenty of international support to mark the occasion. Reminisces Dilawar, “We came up with the idea of celebrating World Sparrow Day during an informal discussion over tea in our office. We felt there was a potential opportunity to make a positive difference to the fate of the House sparrow, whose numbers are declining. The event helps attract the attention of government agencies and the scientific community to take notice of the need for conserving of this common bird species and urban biodiversity, in general.” Indeed, the event has made an impact.

In 2012, the Delhi government declared the House sparrow as the state bird of Delhi. In 2013, Bihar followed suit. So how can you help increase the sparrow population in your neighbourhood? It’s simple. Place bird feeders in any open space you find and stock it with grains like bajra, wheat and oats. Keep bird baths filled with fresh water, especially during the summer. If possible, provide nest boxes with easy access. And don’t be impatient. It can take up to a week for the hungry birds to start coming in!

- https://weather.com/en-IN/india/news/news/2019-03-20-world-sparrow-day-why-we-need-to-save-these-ubiquitous-little-birds, March 19, 2019

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Heritage walk on history of Jalandhar Cantonment

Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) organised a heritage walk here today at Budha Park on the history of Jalandhar Cantonment. Major General, Balwinder Singh, VSM (Retd), the convener of INTACH, Jalandhar, briefed the participants about the historical events related to Jalandhar Cantonment. He said the Jalandhar Cantonment was established in 1849 and during the World War I, Jalandhar Brigade sailed from Karachi and Bombay to Egypt for defense of Suez Canal.

The brigade was also diverted to France where they fought for seven months at Neuve Chapelle, Festubert and at the Loos. He said: “It is important for the youth and coming generations to know about the history of their hometown.

The cantonment had witnessed various major events that were the living examples of bravery and patriotism.” A total of 50 participants explored the heritage of the Cantonment and walked on the premises of the Cantonment headquarters, sub areas which were constructed in 1865 at the cost of Rs 9000.Maj Balwinder Singh said these subareas were then used for staging and transiting of troops towards North West frontier province. Col Mandip Grewal, member, INTACH, informed the participants about the Jalandhar Club which was established in 1909.

He said during that period the club had the one of the best cricket ground of North India and the annual general meeting of the board of cricket in India was held for the first time at Jalandhar Cantt cricket ground in 1958. The participants also walked to church which was constructed during the British time and the house, where Brig Gen Ren Dyer stayed.

- https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/jalandhar/heritage-walk-on-history-of-jalandhar-cantonment/746412.html, March 20, 2019

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World Water Day: Leaving no one behind

Every year, March 22 is celebrated throughout the world since 1993 as World Water Day with different themes. The theme for the current year is ‘Leaving No One Behind’. The pressure on the quantity of water has increased many folds because of population growth. There is a scarcity of water worldwide and on the other hand water quality has gone down. This necessitates awareness and cooperation all over the world among all. The day is meant for creating awareness that water is scarce now. The UNO recognizes water as a basic need for sustaining life on the earth. In 2010 a resolution was taken which reads – “ the UNO recognizes right to safe and clean water as a human right – it entitles everyone without any discrimination to sufficient safe physically accessible and affordable water, for drinking, sanitation, washing, food preparation and other personal domestic hygiene’”.

Global water demand will increase by 50 per cent by 2030.The UNO has taken an ambitious programm to supply safe water to all people at working places, schools, hospitals, households factories and covering all marginalized people that otherwise means Leaving No One Behind, reducing the gap between advantageous and poor people without any kind of discrimination. The target 2030 is to supply water in sufficient quantity and safe water to all sections of people taking special attention to marginalized groups –woman and children, refugees, indigenous people, disabled persons, aged groups by 2030.

The achievable targets in brief are — equitable access to safe drinking water to all; to achieve adequate equitable sanitation and hygiene; and to end open defection; special need for children and woman; improvement of quality by reducing pollution; to improve water efficiency; to protect and reduce water-related eco-system including maintenance of forest and wetland; to expand integrated cooperation and capacity building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities; and most important is to support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.

These all are integrated and coordinated goals to achieve the fresh water required to cover all the people on the globe by 2030. These are known to be Sustainable Development Goal-6 for all-round development of all water resources through the UNO agenda. As of now, the picture of water availability is very grim. Globally 663 million people still lack in access to safe drinking water. Nearly 4 billion people, 2/3rd of the world population face water scarcity at least once a month in a year. According to one statistics, 700 million people will be displaced because of water scarcity by 2030 if adequate measures are not taken. Yet another statistics reveal that 2.1 million people will live without safe water at home. One in four primary schools has no safe drinking water facility. 700 children below 5 years die every day for diarrhoea.

Eight out of ten women go out to fetch household water to distance places covering several kilometres. Globally 159 million depend on surface water such as rivers, lakes and ponds. Over 800 million women die from complication in pregnancy and childbirth. In eco-system, all are interconnected, forest, aquifer, soils, lakes and wetland provide natural water storage capacity, wetland and soil both purify water, rivers provide water and transportation and all these together contribute to water security. Globally, water is precious as only 2.5 per cent of the total water is fresh water and of this only 0.3 per cent is river and lake water, 30.8 per cent is groundwater and bulk of the available quantity is a glacier, the rest 97.5 per cent is salt water. India’s position is not much different from that of the world as a whole. Water Aid Report 2016 indicates that 76 million people have no access to safe drinking water. The Asian Development Bank reports that there would be 50 per cent deficiency by 2050. But NC Hedge of the BAIF has stated that with the present river system, India is not a water scarce country in real sense of the term with average rainfall of 1170 mm.

The real problem is that there are no adequate conservation measures. And the rivers are extremely polluted making their water unsuitable for drinking. Conservation is only 6 per cent whereas the conservation is 250 per cent in advanced countries. Sewage water to the tune of 500 million litres is dumped to the Ganga and Yumuna basin. Yet in another report, 800 million gallons of sewage water is dumped from Delhi. Worldwide 80 per cent sewage water is dumped to the river system without any treatment. Traditionally, rivers are considered sacred in India since time of Vedic Age. There are srtutas in praise of rivers in the Rig Veda. One struta in The Rig Ved reads as ‘O sacred Ganga ,Yamuna, Godavori, and Swaraswati, Normada, Sindhu, and Kaveri, Please be present in this water besides me and make it sacred”. In modern age that sanctity has been completely lost by different human activities and rivers are polluted. India as a country has a special significance because it is home to 18 per cent population of the world but has only 4 per cent of the water reservoir of the world. India as a country is water-starved and 3,00,000 farmers committed suicide during 1995 to 2015 for crop failure due to non-availability of water. As the surface water is contaminated, thrust on ground water has increased both for drinking and agricultural purposes.

And groundwater is over exploited. The ground water is depleted fast in many states. Another inherent problem is water-laden with Arsenic has poised health problems to 900 million people in the Ganga – Brahmaputra basin. In India 45,053 villages only have access to piped water or hand pumps and 18,917 villages till now have no access to safe drinking water. Available water is contaminated by open defecation, 40 per cent population still defecate in open. India is falling behind the goal because of two reasons primarily, not being able to utilize the fund allocated due to faulty execution and management of the projects. Government, socio-cultural organizations, and individuals need to come forward to fund and in activities relating to rejuvenation of rivers and ponds. The Art of Living Society has already rejuvenated 33 dried up rivers and water-started flowing conservation of forest and eco-system are vital for water security.

The rural and urban gap is reported by CAG report which shows that though Rs 82,000 crore has been spent between 2012 and 2017, additional coverer age is only 5.5 per cent of the rural habitations. Similarly, all the gaps of the sustainable development goal 6 program mentioned at the beginning of the write up pertaining to marginalized groups of all sections of people may be identified, all-out efforts are to be made to make the programme a grand success.

- https://www.sentinelassam.com/news/world-water-day-leaving-no-one-behind/, March 20, 2019

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GHMC plea to governament on heritage structures

The Heritage Committee meeting was held at GHMC main office on Wednesday. Dana Kishore, GHMC Commissioner presided over the meeting. Director of Archeology and Museums N R Visalatchy, Rangareddy Joint Collector Harish, senior police officer Tarun Joshi, Vishwaprasad, higher officials of tourism, revenue and forests attended the meeting. The meeting decided to conduct Swachh programmes at one heritage site every week apart from taking special measures to preserve heritage buildings in GHMC limits d that proposals would be sent to the state government to declare 137 heritage buildings recognised earlier by HMDA as heritage structures. The meeting also decided to send proposals to the state government to issue orders for formation of GHMC heritage committee.

Speaking on the occasion, Dana Kishore said that government has formed Hyderabad heritage committee under section 22 of Telangana heritage Act-2017 and two experts in heritage, history and archelogy are yet to be appointed to the committee. He said proposals would be sent for the formation of the committee aer appointing the experts.

He said that HMDA had conducted in the past and recognised 137 heritage structures and proposals would be sent to the government to notify declaring them as heritage structures. Swachh programmes would be conducted every week at one of the heritage sites, he said. Dana Kishore said that measures have been taken to clear garbage and waste from the surroundings of Golkonda fort and beautification of tanks within the premises of the fort. He ordered the officials to study the norms followed by other states for preservation of heritage structures in association with INTACH and submit the proposals. Measures would be taken to provide basic facilities, removing encroachments, sanitation maintenance and improving greenery, he said.

- https://www.thehansindia.com/telangana/ghmc-plea-to-governament-on-heritage-structures-513863, March 22, 2019

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World Water Day: Save Water By Making These Small Changes In Daily Life

The World Water Day theme 2019 is "Leaving no one behind". This year is 26th World Water Day. Start with making small changes in your daily life to conserve water.

World Water Day is celebrated every year on March 22. The idea behind observing this day is focusing on the importance of water and need to conserve it. The World Water Day theme 2019 is "Leaving no one behind". It looks at why people have been left behind and how access to water and sanitation and sustainable water management can be drivers of change. World Water Day was first observed in 1993 by United Nations General Assembly. This year is 26th World Water Day. With a looming drinking water shortage in the world, here are some tips you can adopt to make changes in your daily life.

World Water Day: Don't waste water. Reuse. Some tips below:

1. Start with making small changes in your daily life. After washing the vegetables, use the same water to water your plants and gardens.
2. The water drained from RO filters at home can be used for mopping the floor.
3. Trap rainwater by installing Rain Water Harvesting systems in your house, locality and fight water shortage.
4. While brushing, do not leave your taps running. Be conscious about it and do not spill water.
5. Collect your clothes and do the laundry when washing machines is fully loaded. This can help a great deal in saving precious water.
6. On an average, a person uses 35 litres of water during a 5-minute bath. Try to bathe with one bucket of water, which roughly stores 12-18 litres. Install water-saving showerheads to cut down 80 per cent of your water usage. Just remember, every drop counts. Small changes will have big impact and we can leave a better future for the next generation. Happy Water Day!

- https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/world-water-day-how-you-can-save-water-by-making-changes-in-daily-life-2011151, March 22, 2019

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'People are unaware how architects

The proposal for a National Museum of Architecture in India has been on the anvil for a while now. Greha, a four-decade-old group that centres its expertise on habitat design, environmental development and architecture, prepared a report in 2015 in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and the Council of Architecture (COA).

In that context, an event in Delhi today, titled “Imagining the National Museum of Architecture”, will put forth readings and conversations around architecture. We speak to architect and environment planner MN Ashish Ganju, President, Greha, on the idea of the museum, its scope and relevance. Excerpts:
One of the policy objectives of the museum is to bridge the gap between society and the profession. Why do you feel the need?
There are two aspects to this. Firstly, there are two professional associations that are interlocutors for the profession — IIA and COA. But neither of them have made any attempt to reach out to civil society, so the public is unaware how architects are useful to society. Secondly, the architecture profession in India is an accident of history. During colonial times, it was managed by engineers.

British engineers built public buildings, so the profession of architecture grew out of the need for engineers to make drawings. The JJ School in Bombay was started to train civil draftsmen, and that legacy the profession hasn’t been able to shake off. Even today, most architectural courses that are mandated by COA have the same approach. Architects know how to put people inside buildings, it’s not just about structure and construction. We make the construction that can receive people properly. Society too doesn’t understand why architects are useful, and this is where the museum will fill the gap. A museum is the home of the Muses, the daughters of Zeus, who inspired the arts and sciences.

Our idea is that the museum, too, will be a place of inspiration, where people can go and learn about themselves; architecture is about daily life ultimately. You have often spoken about how the Indian civilisation had a cultural coherence and its unifying spirit lay in its built diversity. How will the museum fulfil this ambition?
We don’t see the museum space as one building; it will be a network of inspiration sites. We are the only country in the world which has the unique distinction of having seven environmental conditions, within the passage of one night’s journey, from the high mountains, with arctic deserts like Ladakh, to the huge river basins of Indus and Ganges. Then there’s the Thar Desert with its own architectural language. There’s the central highlands and plateau, of which Hampi is world renowned.

We have our coastline that lends itself to a different built environment, and the islands. Unfortunately, all of this is being covered by PWD-style construction. So our idea is to have the museum in different locations in the country. But you will have a central space?
Of course, in Delhi, we will have a coordination centre, for which there is land allotted in Lado Sarai. We are also in discussion with architects in Hyderabad and Chennai. Each of these centres will have models, drawings, photos, videos and publications. They can hold symposiums of conversations, in any which way to engage with the public. It’ll be different from conventional museums, which are contained spaces.

In India, we have the opportunity to have several different countries, and so our organisational design as a museum will be carefully thought out.

How do we use the knowledge of the past and make it relevant to the urban context? It’s a large question, and many are working on it. It has to do with confronting our consumerist society. In a recent interview, Noam Chomsky said, ‘In a couple of generations, organised human society may not survive.’ It’s not that architects can do much, it’s a civilisation issue. How will we find a cohesive social arrangement, I don’t know. People who have lived in the forests and mountains have always known that if life for you is only a sense phenomenon, you can never be satisfied. So they went beyond the senses.

Unless we see that it’s all a myth and you’re being taken for a ride, there’s no civilised exchange that can take place. Today, we are drowning in a sea of flawed relationships, and we have lost touch with nature, outside and within. We can’t relate to ourselves, how will we relate to what’s around us?

- https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/life-style/people-are-unaware-how-architects-ashish-ganju-are-useful-to-society-5646094/, March 27, 2019

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This World Theatre Day, let's honor the thespians of Lucknow: Behind the Scenes!

Theatre is an inseparable part of Lucknow’s culture which runs deep as one of the cardinal roots of Lucknow’s shaan aur maan. The venerable stages of Bharatendu Natya Akademi and Sangeet Natak Academy, tapris and chaiwallahs crowding nearby have witnessed the bloom of the country’s best theatre artists over the years and how! Prominent Bollywood celebrities like Pankaj Kapoor, Aahana Kumra, Saurabh Shukla, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and so on have graced the stages here time and again, leading Lucknow towards the zenith of artistic acreage! With frequently conducted theatre workshops and performing arts festivals by the iconic Bewajah Cafe, Cafe Repertwahr, Lucknow Mahotsav here in the city, artists of all tides have found a shore in their voyage- be it maiden or conclusive! So here we have listed 5 prominent theatre artists from Lucknow who have redefined the frontiers of theatre like no other!

Padma Shri Raj Bisaria
Termed as “the father of the modern theatre in North India", Raj Bisaria sir is a director, producer, actor and educationalist! He founded Theatre Arts Workshop in 1966 and Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1975 and since then, there has been no looking back! Raj Bisaria has blended the artistic concepts of the East and the West lapped with the traditional and the modern! He has directed more than a century of plays of Indian, British, European and American playwrights and on both the TV and Radio, Raj Bisaria left his mark as an actor, moderator and an indelible thespian! Raj Bisaria was also honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri which is the fourth highest civilian award in India, for his contribution towards Modern Indian Theatre and he is the first ever theatre personnel from Uttar Pradesh to receive so! Raj Bisaria Studio in Lucknow is still one of the top-most learning studios for amateur actors and directors which provides comprehensive and intensive training of acting, direction, drama & diction, film etc! Dr. Anil Rastogi
Dr. Anil Rastogi’s theatre journey started way back in 1958 when he took part in a play called ‘Noorjehan’ as the minister of the king. Dr. Rastogi’s performance was first noticed in plays like Jai Somnath and Sapne in the middle of the swinging sixties! In 1971, he joined Darpan group and he portrayed the lead in a play called Hayavadan, directed by theatre maestro BV Karanth and from then on, there was no looking back.

He shifted to Germany for a while for higher research and he started performing almost every month in all kinds of plays which led to insightful experiences, important for his future journey. In 1979, he was made Secretary of the Darpan group which continued up to 2017and with help of other theatre friends, Darpan reached newer heights everytime! With over 1000 shows of 90 plays in different cities, Dr. Anil Rastogi’s introduction writes itself. Most acclaimed plays being- Yehoodi ki Ladki, Hayavadan, Panchi Ja Panchi aa, Kanyadaan, Fando and Lis, A view from the Bridge, Bare Foot in Athens, Mukhya Mantri and so on! In a conversation with us, Dr. Rastogi mentioned-“Theatre has been a very important part of my life . It helped in my personality building and I got appreciation for my expression in lectures, meetings, conferences etc.

It took me to electronic media, starting from Radio to TV to films and I started my second innings in Mumbai at the age of 70 years in 2013 which continued up to 2017! It gave me name and fame more than what I actually deserved. Theatre also helped me in making contacts easily with people who were otherwise unapproachable. Lucknow theatre though being done in large number these days with maximum auditoriums in State has lost its sheen mostly due to liberal distribution of Govt grants. No doubt good performers are there but most of the theatre is mediocre or below standard.

Due to misuse of grants, apparently every performer has become directors and producers. Mostly old plays are being repeated and novices are taking centre stage without any theatre knowledge. Ticketed shows are still a dream and youngsters are treating it as ladder to go to bigger screen!” Dr. Anil Rastogi has been honoured with several recognitions and awards- most prestigious ones being Yash Bharti which is the highest award of UP Govt., UP SNA Ratn Sadasya, UP SNA Award and of course, Bank of Baroda Life Time Achievement Award!

Salim Arif
An alumnus of the National School of Drama, Salim Arif was a part of the Lucknow theatre scnes of the 70’s which gave way to vibrant and experimental plays. A theatre veteran, Salim Arif’s Taj Mahal Ka Tender, Dil Chahta Hai , Agar Aur Magar, Bayaane Ghalib and so on have made him one of the most popular leading directors of the Hindi theatre scenes in India and rightfully so.

He left a colossal impression as a designer with Shyam Benegal’s Bharat Ek Khoj, Gulzar’s Mirza Ghalib and Nirja Guleri’s Chandrakanta- all portrayed with finesse and aesthetic vibrancy. Salim has been a mentee of Gulzar sahab and shared a close relationship with Jagjit sahab too which lend him with the insights of the industry but his enigmatic aptitude is to be credited for his supreme rise in the industry! In a conversation with Knocksense, Salim also mentioned that theatre has given him “the freedom to be a nobody”- he opted for the road less travelled.

Salim relinquished the paths of glamour and fame, without regrets to concentrate more on performing arts on stage! Salim Arif is also a recipient of the acclaimed Bhartendu Harishchandra Award of the U.P. Hindi-Urdu Adab Society for his contribution in rendering literary works on stage- a well-earned recognition which stemmed from his embedment into the art scenes.

Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha
Under the direction of Ranjeet Kapoor in Lucknow, Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha started his career in theatre in 1974. His name as a director was imprinted on the national theatre frontier after his performance of Rakesh’s Ramlila, which was featured in the National Festival of the Sangeet Natak Akademi organized in Delhi in 1985. Till date, Surya Mohan’s crate of dynamic performances include Sophocles’ King Oedipus, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq, Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle and so on. Manifesting minimalism on stage like no other, Surya Mohan’s approach towards theatre has always focused on the actor.

A renowned actor himself, Shri Kulshreshtha has received critical acclaim through his performance of the role of Socrates in Barefoot in Athens directed by Raj Bisaria recently. Shri Kulshreshtha has also represented India in the World Theatre Project in Germany in 1993 and he was one of the prestigious recipients of the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1995 and in 2014 for his expertise in direction! Amidst other honours, Surya Mohan has been awarded an Honorary Diploma by the International Amateur Theatre Association in Norway too.
Apurva Shah
Compared to the other thespians in Lucknow, Apurva is a newbie in the theatre province but given her extensive experience in these 10 years, she is as good as the leading artists in the industry. Establishing her forte in direction, Apurva has been swaying back and forth from Mumbai to Lucknow, conducting acting workshops for children while balancing her career in direction and casting in the Indian film industry and also as a theatre artist (acting and direction). When asked about the struggles of theatre in Lucknow, Apurva got candid with team Knocksense. “Theatre is trapped in a cycle of scanty audience and hence, there are dwindling number of shows these days. Since only a certain part of Lucknow’s crowd can be termed as ‘theatre audience’, the groups here do not receive enough funds, sponsorship or resources.

This makes the production process even more difficult and opportunities in reputed theatre schools are expensive or limited. These hassles and also low monetary gains lead to a switch in career paths or interest amidst a major chunk of performing arts aspirants. Some people do not have the option of pursuing what they love because of low income and it all contributes to the drop-outs of this field.” When asked about her personal take on it, Apurva told us that she feels “rich”- in terms of having the good fortune of working with TVF, various prominent advertising brands, Bollywood hotshots and so on.

One of the films she worked on also went on to join the prestigious Netflix legion. “Good fortune” doesn't come easy- it is all about taking that leap of faith, fighting it out like a “refugee”, figuring it out in Mumbai, keeping up with the financial constraints, travelling to cities and villages all across the country to train others and in the meanwhile learning about herself. Apurva Shah is a noteworthy name in the theatre fraternity of Lucknow and is an inspiration to the other candidates who want to venture into this daunting yet rewarding field. She’s strengthening the notions of girl power like no other.

Abhishek Tiwari
Abhishek’s childhood was all about a picchars and his fantasies about working in fillums pulled him on to the stage for the first time in 1996 because he saw it as his ticket to Bollywood! Abhishek started freelancing in various important theatre groups like Meghdoot, Sanket, Rang Yatra, Uddipan etc., after which, he secured a seat in the prestigious Bhartendu Natya Academy for further studies in his chosen field! Then his journey began from Lucknow to Delhi me as an actor and in 2007, Abhishek started off as a full-time theatre director and as an acting teacher! He was appointed as a theatre faculty at Opulent Acting School and also at a NSD funded extension school called the Himachal Cultural Research Forum & Theatre Academy. A prestigious member of the interview panel at Bhartendu Natya Academy, Abhishek Tiwari has carved a name with his sheer determination, discipline and hardwork. “Theater taught me a lot about life- how to view societal issues with an open-mind and perspectives, the value of emotions, strict life style which includes punctuality and devotion.” According to him, “Lucknow theater is deprived of the maestros who used to perform here because of their old age and labour intensive work.

The new generation of artists here are doing their best here but unfortunately, they’re all striving to achieve fame without embracing the much-needed extensive training. Also, the glamour of the television industry has blurred the visions of some, when it comes to a future in the theatre sector! There are active groups here working in this field and they’re doing good. But in the 80’s and 90’s, the artists used to allocate their own finances to setup the productions because of their raging passion, which is unseen today. Now just grants and sponsorships are acting as the backbone of productions because of which, we’re losing out on this art somewhere.

The newbies require more time, practice and good scripts, only then can they flourish to their full-potential.” In Lucknow, Abhishek Tiwari is known as a man of many talents and the theatrewale bhaiyya who is moving mountains with his incredible prowess in the field of performing art!

- https://www.knocksense.com/lucknow/this-world-theatre-day-lets-honor-the-thespians-of-lucknow-behind-the-scenes, March 28, 2019

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NGT directs Delhi, Haryana governments to submit report

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Delhi and Haryana governments to submit a report on whether Najafgarh jheel (lake) has been declared a water body.A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the states to submit the report through e-mail within a month.

The order came after NGO Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) claimed that even though two years have passed since the Haryana government assured the tribunal to declare the lake as water body, further steps have not been taken so as to check encroachments and constructions.

"In view of the above, we consider it necessary to obtain a status and action taken report from Government of NCT of Delhi as well as Government of Haryana. Such report may be furnished to the Tribunal by e-mail," the bench said.

It directed that a copy of this order be sent to the chief secretaries of Haryana and Delhi though e-mail and asked the NGO to furnish a set of papers each to both the chief secretaries. The NGO has sought direction to the Delhi and Haryana governments to declare Najafgarh lake, falling partly in Delhi and partly in Gurgaon in Haryana, as a water body/wetland.

According to the applicant, there is serious threat to the water body on account of continuous encroachment and constructions in the submergence zone of the lake. After claiming there was no natural lake in the Najafgarh area, the Haryana government had earlier taken a U-turn by telling the NGT that it had been accepted as a water body.

INTACH had alleged that the large-scale construction work done in the floodplain of the Najafgarh nallah and the lake had drained the area. It had claimed that sectors 106, 107 and 108 of Gurgaon were being constructed in the "high flood level" area of the lake, while some construction was also going on in areas falling in Delhi.

- https://www.thehansindia.com/news/national/ngt-directs-delhi-haryana-governments-to-submit-report-516114, March 29, 2019

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World Theatre Day celebrations at Manthan

Keeping alive the essence of this art form, Verve- the street play society of Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, has been organising Manthan – India’s largest street play festival. The national capital on February 23, witnessed Manthan Mahotsava – a grand celebration of street theatre with the 900 artists of 444 distinguished teams performing street plays to raise a message of social awareness in 17 prominent locations including Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Hauz Khas Village.

Privacy, homosexuality, suicide, disability, mental health, fascism, poverty and human trafficking were some of the topics at the event. The whole world on the occasion of World Theatre Day witnessed the flourishing colours of Manthan as street theatre performances were performed at nine locations of Delhi, 18 national locations and seven international locations.

- https://www.newdelhitimes.com/world-theatre-day-celebrations-at-manthan/, March 29, 2019

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Lights to go off for Earth Hour

Raj Bhavan confirms participation in the switch-off today The World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature-India has made an appeal to citizens to join the Earth Hour 2019 on Saturday from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm to inspire millions across the country to shift to more sustainable practices and minimise negative impacts on the planet.

Iconic buildings
The Earth Hour India campaign would take forward the Give Up to Give Back initiative launched in 2018. The iconic monuments and buildings across the country would be switched off to mark the movement on the night of Earth Hour, which had started as a symbolic lights-out event in Sydney back in 2007. The Earth Hour 2019 would build the momentum further inspiring citizens and organisations to ‘give up’ single use plastic, paper and water wastage, said a release from the WWF-India Hyderabad. In the city, the Earth Hour celebrations would be led by citizens across the city. Gitanjali Senior School is organising a street theatre and poem recitation session on ‘No Plastics in Our Lives’ at the GVK One Mall.

The Raj Bhavan has also confirmed its participation in the Earth Hour switch off, said Farida Tampal, State Director, WWF-India Hyderabad office. Approximately 400 eco club schools under the Andhra Pradesh National Green Corps with more than 20,000 students would participate in the Earth Hour celebrations across AP, she said.

Consumption practices
The WWF-India Hyderabad was working with groups across both the Telugu States to drive the Give Up campaign and build awareness among people on the need to take stock of their consumption practices and give up habits that were wasteful and detrimental to the planet, she said.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/lights-to-go-off-for-earth-hour/article26681503.ece, March 29, 2019

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