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 I n the news
Food diaries of poor children
It's not every day that you would associate the words 'food diary' with children and young people living on the streets.  
 
Green 'August'
Young Indian designer Siddhartha's eco-friendly attire, under the label 'August', has earned him international recognition  
 
Being young and HIV-positive in Manipur
Senjenbam Noinoisana died recently. He was just 18 years old. Brutally murdered on April 7, 2010, his death was the culmination of all the discrimination he had faced in his short life.  
 
Children of Bhopal, children for Bhopal
The Bhopal gas disaster has suddenly been in the news over the last few weeks. The gas tragedy that killed roughly 10,000 people within three days of the leakage of poisonous methyl isocyanate gas from the Union Carbide pesticide plant actually place 26 years ago, on December 2-3, 1984. But it was only in 2010 that a local court pronounced nine people who were in charge of the Union Carbide factory at the time guilty of causing death by negligence.  
 
Guiding Minds: Learning about HIV/AIDS
We?ve all had a runny nose and sore throat at one time or other. But imagine dealing with it every day. The lucky ones get back on their feet quickly. But many have to deal with aches and pains on a daily basis. Like young people who are affected by HIV/AIDS.  
 
Pyaar ki jeet: Chetan Bhagat's new book
So, Chetan Bhagat steals the limelight yet again! This time he isn?t spending a night at the call centre or showing off at IIT (the things he did were certainly risky!). Instead, he uses the story of his own life as the plot of his new book. To be precise, 2 States is based on his marriage.  
 
Food for thought
The world enjoyed a record bumper harvest of 2.1 billion tonnes last year. This year, there is a food crisis! How have we landed ourselves in this mess?  
 




Three boys, three mistakes
A review of Chetan Bhagat's latest bestseller  
 


Tintin for the 21st century
Tintin finds himself in a soup over his visit to the Congo. Enid Blyton's golliwogs have been exiled from her books. But does it make sense to censor children's literature written decades ago?  
 
Harry hullabaloo
The date is July 21, 2007. A large group of muggles sits dumbstruck, their mouths agape as they watch the queen of the wizarding world ascend. J K Rowling comes forward, holding a fat book in one hand and clutching her best pen in the other. She moves into the limelight. She lifts her writing hand and points it at the crowd. The crowd does not stir. Then she mutters the familiar incantation: 'Imperio. 
 
Toxic alert!
Pre-school children in the United States may have to wait a while to see the return of their favourite toys, including Sesame Street's Big Bird and Elmo, and Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer, after toy manufacturers in the US, including Fisher Price, banned huge batches of toys made in China after tests showed they contained quantities of poisonous lead. 
 
Honey BeeThe truth about bees
There has been an alarming drop in the number of bees worldwide. But with the current global limelight firmly focused on issues like global warming and climate change, this fact has gone unnoticed.  
 
The inconvenient truth about global warming
We all know that the earth has been getting warmer over the decades. The likely impacts of global warming are spine-chilling. And they're spelt out in the documentary An Inconvenient Truth that everyone is talking about.  
 
Pizzas are out, yoghurt is in
As the junk food problem becomes acute, 17 US states have legislated changes in school nutrition 
 
Challenging the barriers between people
How often have you been teased by a classmate for being fat or short, wearing specs or braces, being too dark, or wearing certain kinds of clothes? Or, maybe you’ve laughed at someone for the way they look or the way they speak?  
 
To heal the earth, get rid of human beings!
Anyone even the slightest bit interested in wildlife and the environment knows of the impact that one animal species -- human beings -- has had on all other living things. Most of this impact has been negative. Human beings have hunted animals for pure pleasure; and we've killed thousands of animals by taking over their homes and their habitats to make way for agriculture and for our ever-expanding cities. We've cut down millions of trees to make furniture, and killed huge whales to manufacture candles and pet food.  
 
Munnabhai's tryst with Gandhigiri
For me, as for most students of my generation, Gandhi has meant no more than a chapter in our history books. His charisma was frozen in time. October 2 was the only day we recalled the contribution made by the Father of the Nation. We needed some way to retrieve him.  
 
Food for thought
Food is the most basic need for human survival. It is vital for our existence and yet we fail to understand its significance. People waste a lot of food. "It doesn't taste good" or "I am full" are the typical tantrums we throw.
 
Why are so many people angry about reservations?
Recently, the news has been full of medical and engineering college students protesting against reservations. What's all the fuss and fighting about? 
 
Native trees, alien trees
Several empires have left their architectural imprint on the city of Delhi. Both Mughal and British rulers took great pride in planting trees alongside their architectural masterpieces. Emperor Akbar ordered that all avenues and arterial roads be covered with the graceful sheesham tree. The British were tree-lovers too, and British architect Edwin Lutyens (who designed Rashtrapati Bhawan) went to great pains to ensure that all the main avenues in New Delhi were lined with handpicked species.  
 
There are around 300,000 child soldiers in the world today
Over 300,000 children are currently serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. Some 30 countries, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and East Timor, incorporate children in various capacities involving government, paramilitary and opposition activities. 
 
2006 FIFA World Cup shoots a 'Green Goal'
Not only has the FIFA 2006 World Cup been a huge success in terms of football genius, camaraderie and goodwill, there's another aspect to the games that not too many people know about: the environmental aspect.  
 
Meerut's kids ask FIFA to show child labour the red card
With the FIFA World Cup 2006 already past the halfway mark, everyone's glued to their television sets watching the 'beautiful game'. But for thousands of children employed in football-manufacturing factories across north India, the football represents something else altogether.  
 
No more Happy Meals
That's it. It's the end of the McDonald's Happy Meal as we know it.  
 
Summer's here. Save electricity!
Now that summer's here we're all getting ready to face more and more power cuts. Candles are kept handy and people are wary of using lifts. This year the government has warned that there will be even more power shortages throughout the country and has asked everyone to cut down on their use of electricity.  
 
Battles over the Narmada dam
The Narmada dam has been in the news for a number of weeks now. First it was because its height was going to be increased from 113 metres to 121.92 metres. Then, because the leader of the anti-Narmada dam movement, Medha Patkar, was forcibly taken to hospital.  
 
Haryana doctor jailed for revealing sex of foetus:
Why is sex-selection wrong?
A couple of weeks ago, Dr Anil Sabhani, a doctor in Haryana, and his assistant Kartar Singh, were sent to jail for two years for revealing the sex of an unborn baby. Sabhani and Singh were caught in a sting operation: the pregnant woman who visited their clinic was actually working with the police.  
 
India's poorest guaranteed 100 days of paid work a year
According to businessmen and economists, as a country, India is doing well. But while the rich are getting richer, the poor -- especially people who do not live in cities, the rural population -- are not doing too well. Of these, the very poor neither have the money to buy the basic essentials nor do they have jobs that would enable them to earn money. 
 
Homeless in the cold
According to one report, India has a total homeless population of 78 million (based on the 2001 census). Most of them are concentrated in the cities of Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi. How do these people survive the cold nights out on the streets? 
 
Workplace woes
On December 7, 2005, a fire broke out at a garment factory in east Delhi, killing 13 people and critically injuring five more. Shocking? Yes. Unusual? No. 
 
Festival blues
The months of October, November and December bring good cheer into our lives, as they make up the ‘festival season’. We forget our differences and, for the few days that mark the festivities, we decorate our homes, wear new clothes, distribute sweets and visit temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras to offer prayers. 
 
Product placements: When is an ad not an ad?
I recently travelled by bus from Pune to Mumbai. As is usual on the four-hour bus ride, they showed a movie. This trip they showed a Hindi film called Kya Kool Hai Hum. The film itself was enjoyable in a silly kind of way. But it left no lasting impression, and it is not a movie I would recommend. What did leave an impression, however, was the insidious amount of 'product placement' in the movie.
 
Are youth festivals becoming mere corporate showpieces?
Come October/November and colleges across the country will be getting ready for a series of college festivals. These are annual cultural events that are hosted by various colleges, where students can go to different colleges and participate in a wide variety of events that range from purely academic to sheer fun.
 
The photograph that spoke more than words.
Take a close look at this picture of a large billboard at a busy intersection in Chennai. What do you see besides the familiar 'Drink Coca Cola' advertisement? If you live in an area that experiences water shortages, you will not fail to notice the row of empty pots standing alongside a dry hand pump.
 
Lest we forget: A museum for the Bhopal gas tragedy
On August 5, 2005 four organisations involved in fighting for justice for the survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy formally announced the setting up of a museum in memory of those who died or were injured in what has been described as the Hiroshima of industrial disasters.
 
Coming to terms with the sea after the tsunami
The sun was shining brightly and the idea of a swim was very inviting to Yassen Murugan, Porvel and K Hariharan. The three boys, who live in a kuppam (fishing village) in Chennai, took off their clothes on the beach and were just about to enter the sea when one of them hesitated.
 
The Nawab and the blackbuck: The lure of the hunt
The sun was shining brightly and the idea of a swim was very inviting to Yassen Murugan, Porvel and K Hariharan. The three boys, who live in a kuppam (fishing village) in Chennai, took off their clothes on the beach and were just about to enter the sea when one of them hesitated. "The waters look rough. Let's wait," he said. 
 
Child marriages continue in 21st-century India
Rajasthan has been in the news recently and for all the wrong reasons. First it was tigers disappearing, then it was a guidebook that referred to sati sites as tourist destinations, and then it was child marriages.  
 
 
What's wrong with the water in Mayilamma's well?
T Mayilamma is worried. The water in her well, in Vijayanagar Colony, Plachimada, Kerala, is a dark brown and smells sickeningly of a mixture of toddy and kerosene. Mayilamma and hundreds of other dalit families live near the Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd (HCCB) plant, the company that makes and bottles Coke in India. Mayilamma, a 50-year-old widow, has been at the forefront of the people's agitation against this giant multinational corporation. 
 

Save the tiger and you save an ecosystem
In the last few months tigers, or more correctly the absence of tigers, have been making front-page news in most Indian newspapers and websites. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on this, not just about the disappearing tigers but whether they have actually disappeared and what needs to be done. The government got so worried about this in one wildlife park in Rajasthan, Sariska, that they sent in the police, in the form of a CBI team, to look for the tigers. Some poachers actually admitted to killing around 10 tigers. But where are the rest?