Dr Steve North – Using technology to improve understanding of animal behaviour and communication

Indian state wins coveted UN award


God's own country
God’s own country

Known as God’s own country, Indian state Kerala, for the first time, has won the prestigious Ulysses Prize from United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for its tourism project at Kumarakom and for bringing in excellence and innovation in the sector.
The prizes were announced in Madrid, Spain and Kerala’s Kumarakom project won the prize in the category “Innovation in Public Policy and Governance”. The prizes were conceived to honour innovation, policy making and information dissemination the field of global tourism.
The Kerala government official attributed the success to locals, communities, self help groups and business in the tourism sector who coordinated and cooperated well to make the project a success.
Under Kumarakom project, the locals, including vendors, farmers and small business were supplying their farm produce to the thirteen hotels and resorts in the area for their daily use.
Speaking at the function, UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said, “Tourism is increasingly becoming a transformative force, bringing in economic growth, creating jobs, and most importantly, changing people’s lives.”
“We are humbled by the UNWTO’s decision to confer this highest international award on our state,” said Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar.
It must also be noted that tourism management has also become a specialised field for tourist spots, and there have been demands in India to stress on the need of having a system where the numbers of tourists coming in the country are managed considering the effects of climate change on the ecology and flora & fauna of India. It must be hoped with this award India lays greater emphasis on responsible and innovative tourism in the country.
Abhishek Bhardwaj

India celebrates its 65th Republic Day


After August 15, 1947 (when India earned its freedom from British Empire), January 26, 1950 remains the most important in the history of India and its people; since this was the day when India enacted its Constitution and done away with British rule completely.
In 2014, India celebrated its 65th Republic Day across the nation as President Pranab Mukherjee greeted the public on the occasion. The day was celebrated in India’s capital, New Delhi, where a ceremony was held near India Gate at Rajpath as India’s first citizen received guard of honour from Indian Armed forces in the company of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who was the chief guest this year.
The President honoured personnels from armed forces who laid down their lines in the line of duty bestowing upon gallantry awards on them posthumously, in addition to that children who performed acts of bravery were also rewarded. The event also saw India flaunting its military might and cultural fervour.
While the Indian Army put on display its arms and artillery, on the other hand, India’s prominent states, union territories and important government ministries showcased their regional pavilions. Going by the “unity in diversity”message the largest democracy in the world stands for India put on display its colours and hues in the heart of the nation for over a billion people to see.
Abhishek Bhardwaj

Cycling making a comeback in Nepal

A view of cyclists riding around the hills of Kathmandu Valley. Image courtesy Withlocals.com

The Kathmandu Valley ring road is an inevitable part of life for people within the valley. The current 4 lane road is all set to expand to 8 lanes, with the financial support from China. One of the major things that’s got people excited about the project is the building of 2 cycle tracks within the road. Despite the fact the there is only going to be 2.5m set for pedestrians and cycles on each side of the road, the recognition of this environmentally friendly and healthy means of transportation from the government has indeed been applauded by many. With cycles and public transportation being considered to be the important aspect in modern cities, Nepal is all set to embrace this global trend in its new road.

Cycling tourism growing throughout the country

Every weekend the roads leading to various nature spots around the hills of the Kathmandu Valley are full of hundreds of cycles being ridden by tourists and locals alike. The road from Gwarko to Lakuri Bhanjyang is one of the most famous routes used for mountain biking.  Similarly busy are the roads leading to other destinations like Godavari, Nagarjun, Saankhu and Chapagaon.  Cycling is also famous in the famous tourist city of Pokhara.

The challenging roads, clean environment, welcoming people and beautiful views all combine to make cycling tours around the country a perfect way to escape from the daily hustles and bustles of city life. While tourism is one of the biggest income source of the country, cycling is increasingly being recognized as a big attraction for tourists.

Exciting future outlook

With 4 new highways leading to the Kathmandu Valley set to open within a decade, cyclists could have more alternatives in the coming years. It won’t be hard to imagine Nepal organizing a cycling tournament on par with international tournaments like the Tour de France if current trends continue.

▶ Afghanistan appoints first woman police chief

▶ Afghanistan appoints first woman police chief – YouTube.

Lack of fellow women baffles top British engineer Dame Ann Dowling


Lack of fellow women baffles top British engineer Dame Ann Dowling

Lack of fellow women baffles top British engineer Dame Ann Dowling – Science – News – The Independent.

The Journey of Maya Nepal

Riddhi Pratap Rana confesses that around a decade back, he used to be a drug addict. Yet today, as a clean man, he runs a successful drugs and alcohol rehabilitation center in Kathmandu Valley. “As an ex-user, I felt that it was my duty to open a center that understood the reality of drug addiction” says Mr. Riddhi.  Under his initiation the Maya Nepal Rehabilitation Center was established in February, 2006. The center is situated around 6Km South of Kathmandu City at Harisiddhi, Lalitpur.

Mr. Pratap Rana, standing besides the Maya Nepal building.
Mr. Riddhi Pratap Rana, standing besides the Maya Nepal building.

Maya Nepal operates as a registered Non-Government Organization (NGO). “Drugs and alcohol rehabilitation can’t be done by those who consider profit to be their primary motive” says Krishna Man Maharjan, a senior staff at the center. Hundreds of people have managed to recover from their alcohol or drug addiction under the caring and supportive guidance of Maya Nepal. With a success rate of over 60%, the center has helped hundreds of people rebuild their lives away from their substance addiction. The center can accommodate up to 60 people at a time. 

The recovery programs of Maya Nepal are strongly tied with sports, music and meditation. To ensure that the patients have other things to focus away from their addiction during their rehabilitation, the center actively promotes sports and healthy entertainment. Krishna revealed to us that a lot of patients have managed to rebuild their career and lives with active support from the center.


Maya Nepal has also been focusing lately on AIDS rehabilitation. It operates a dedicated center for HIV-AIDS patients in Rajbiraj district, around 100km south of the capital. Its programs on AIDS awareness has been applauded and awarded by several international organizations. Every year, the center organizes about 50 awareness programs across different schools and colleges to make young people and children aware about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, HIV-AIDS and other blood borne diseases.

“I have started to believe in myself.  I know that I can rebuild my life again, away from my alcohol addiction when I am out of this center. I hope that my past mistakes are forgiven and I am given the opportunity to lead a normal life in the society”, says a hopeful patient recovering at the center.

There aren’t sufficient number of psychological treatment and rehabilitation facilities for recovering patients with different addictions in Nepal. But even in this context, Maya Nepal has indeed set an example by helping to rebuild the lives of hundreds of people.

Young entrepreneur Sam Etherington shortlisted for engineering Hall of Fame


Young entrepreneur Sam Etherington shortlisted for engineering Hall of Fame

Young entrepreneur Sam Etherington shortlisted for engineering Hall of Fame – Telegraph.

Fog Collection: A technology that’s indeed life changing

A fog farm

Fog collection, a technology that allows large vertical canvases to collect water from the damp air, has changed lives throughout the world. Initially applied around the Atacama Desert in Chile, the technology now has managed to quench the thirst of thousands of people the world over. The technology has proven to be a boon in places without any visible or easily collectable source of water. The technology has specially been popular around high and arid mountainous areas in the world.

How exactly is it done?

Initially a huge mesh net is joined on two poles and placed in a vertical position. The mesh is made up of made of special synthetic fibers. When damp air gets in contact with it, droplets of water get trapped and slowly collect to form big drops of water. The water so collected slowly pass down the nets and fall down to an open pipe below. The water collected on the pipe slowly fall down towards a storage tank. On average around 50 Litres of water could be collected on a 10’X10′ canvas everyday. Around 2% of the fog’s water content, which passes through the net, is collected by the nets.

A life changing technology

Fog collection projects have managed to relieve a lot of people from the load of fetching water from long distances away from home. At the same time the water is not polluted too. In many backward hill regions, its women who do the job of fetching water. However, with this technology many women have been liberated from making a distant journey everyday, just to drink water.

More effective technology being researched

A group of researchers from the MIT recently declared that they had found ways to harvest 5 times more water from fog collection systems. By the use of special steel based mesh, the team observed that as much as 10% of the water passing through the net could be collected. Hence with more innovation, lives certainly would be easier for people living in many dry places throughout the world.

Nepal: Constituent Assembly First Meeting Date Announced

The Constituent Assembly Building of Nepal


January 22, 2014 has been set as the date of the first Constitutional Assembly (CA) meeting since the elections. After intense negotiations and political wrangling most of the parties have finally agreed to formally commence the CA. The first CA failed to draft a constitution. However, it’s hoped that the second CA will not be a repeat of the same.

The first meeting was announced by Mr. Khil Raj Regmi, who is the current chairman of the interim government. After his meeting with President Ram Baran Yadav, the date of the first meeting was announced.

Deadlock over formation of new government

Deadlock still remains over who will run the government among the 3 main parties. The Nepali Congress (NC), which won the most seats in the CA elections has recently been negotiating with other parties over the possibility of the formation of a coalition government. Its early talks with the second biggest party CPN-UML haven’t yielded any result. Reports are in the media lately that the executive members of NC have been holding talks with the UCPM-Maoists to make a coalition government.

Representing differences

Like the previous CA, the Election Commission (EC) is currently reviewing the lists submitted by the political parties. With the aim of making a representative and inclusive constitution the EC is in the process of reviewing whether the members from different ethnicities are represented or not. It will also be reviewed whether the CA will have the 33% female representation or not. If the political parties fail to meet the requirements set by the EC, the list will be sent back to the parties for review.

Summarizing the Nepalese Constitutional Assembly 

There are supposed to be 601 members in the CA when it’s fully operational. While 240 of them will be represented by directly elected members, 335 will be represented according to the proportional list decided by the EC and 26 will be nominated directly by the newly formed government.