12 Years a Slave, Gravity nets maximum Oscars
NEW YORK, March 3: Harrowing historical drama 12 Years a Slave was crowned best picture Oscar, while 3D space thriller Gravity was the top prize winner at the 86th Academy Awards with seven.
True-life AIDS activist drama Dallas Buyers Club won three Oscars including best actor for Matthew McConaughey, while Australia's Cate Blanchett won best actress for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.
But 1970s crime caper American Hustle and Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street went home empty-handed from the Oscars, the climax of Hollywood's annual awards season.
12 Years a Slave won three Oscars overall: best picture, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actress for Kenya's Lupita Nyong'o for her searing turn as a brutalised slave.
"I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today," its British director Steve McQueen said at the climax of the three-and-half-hour show.
Mexican Alfonso Cuaron won best director for Gravity, which took six other prizes: best visual effects, sound editing, sound mixing, cinematography, film editing and original score.
As widely expected, Jared Leto won the best supporting actor Oscar for his fearless portrayal of a transgender woman suffering from AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club.
The actor and rock musician used his acceptance speech to send a topical message to people in troubled Ukraine and anti-government protesters in Venezuela.
"To all the dreamers out there... in places like Ukraine and Venezuela, I want to say, we are here. And as you struggle to make your dreams happen, to live the impossible, we're thinking of you tonight," Leto said.
Dallas Buyers Club also won the make-up and hairstyling award.
A tearful Nyong'o -- who turned 31 on Saturday -- earned a standing ovation as she took the stage to accept her prize.
She paid tribute to her slave character Patsey, saying: "It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's."
Disney's blockbuster musical hit Frozen won best animated feature -- the studio's first since the category was introduced in 2002 -- as well as best original song for Let It Go.
Italy's The Great Beauty won best foreign language movie, beating fellow nominees from Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark and Palestine.
Before the show, Hollywood's finest paraded on the red carpet, mercifully dry after storm clouds lifted.
Host Ellen DeGeneres opened with a monologue making fun of the storms that hit California on the eve of the Oscars.
"It's been a tough couple of days for us here. It has been raining," she said, addressing the global audience of hundreds of millions. "We're fine. Thank you for your prayers," she dead-panned.
In a generally well-received second outing as Oscars host, DeGeneres set Twitter ablaze when a "selfie" photo she took with stars including Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence went viral.
By the end of the show, it had more than 2.1 million retweets, shattering the previous record for the most retweeted message.
This year's Oscars race was one of the most fiercely contested for decades, as a pack of outstanding films campaigned for the ballots of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's 6,000 voting members.
The best picture race had been so close that the winner could have come down to only a few votes, under the Academy's preferential voting system.
Under the rules, voters ranked all nine nominated films: American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street.
Those with the least first-place votes were dropped, and their votes given to the next highest-ranked nominees. This continues until one movie had 50% plus one vote.
Sunday's star-studded Oscars broadcast featured performances by Irish rockers U2, playing their nominated song from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and by Idina Menzel, who sang the Oscar-winning Let It Go from Disney's Frozen.
It also celebrated the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz with a reunion of Judy Garland's three children Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft and Joey Luft, while Pink sang Over the Rainbow.
Jane Fonda: I have 'so little time left'
NEW YORK, Feb 26: Jane Fonda was among the guests at Kerry Washington's weekend baby shower. It was a moment, one of many lately, that brought tears to her eyes.
Fonda, 76, writes in a long and thoughtful website note, titled CRYING, that she has been contemplating her age, her mortality, her emotions.
She began to wonder why photos, events and stories of all kinds have been getting to her?
"How come pretty things, kind deeds, sad stories, acts of courage, good news, someone's flax of insight, all get me crying or, at least, tearing up? The Fondas have always been cryers. My father once said, 'Fondas cry at a good steak.' My son and daughter are the same," she writes.
"But I find my emotions are way more accessible than they were when I was younger and I've come to feel it has to do with age. I have become so wonderfully, terribly aware of time, of how little of it I have left; how much of it is behind me, and everything becomes so precious.
"With age, I am able to appreciate the beauty in small things more than when I was younger perhaps because I pay attention more. I feel myself becoming part of everything, as if I bleed into other people's joy and pain. Maybe, without my being conscious of it, there's the reality that in a few decades (if I'm lucky) I will be in the earth, fertilizing some of the very things I look at now and tear up over."
She notes here that she has specific wishes when it comes to her death. "I'm not going to be cremated, uses up too much energy and gives off too many toxins, nor do I want to be in a coffin. Just dump me in a hole and let me morph into whatever as quickly as possible."
She goes on to say "I ache for unwanted children in the world, for polar bears, and elephants, whales and Monarch butterflies, and dolphins, gorillas and chimpanzees. ... I've listed sad things but what startles me even more is how I get emotional about nice things, like Kerry Washington's belly and her mother's words of wisdom and Elizabeth Lesser telling me about the new book she's writing. Maybe because I'm older my heart is wider open, like a net that wants to catch all the things that matter. .... "
But, she adds, her eyes are wide open, too, "so wide open I have to only wear waterproof mascara from now on."
Corporate Social Responsibility rules soon, will include 10 major areas
NEW DELHI, Feb 22: The government has identified 10 major areas including education, gender equality, environment, national heritage and the Prime minister Relief fund where India Inc can spend to claim credit for the mandatory 2% Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure.
Under the new Companies Act, mid and large companies have to spend 2% of their three-year annual average net profit on CSR activities. The government expects a significant step up in spending on CSR projects by companies.
The activities which can be included by companies in their CSR policies include: eradicating hunger, poverty, malnutrition and promoting preventive healthcare, promoting sanitation and availability of safe drinking water, promoting education, promoting gender equality, ensuring environmental sustainability, protection of national heritage.
Those spending for the benefit of armed forces veterans, war widows and their dependents would be eligible to cover the expenses under CSR spending rules.
Under gender equality activities related to empowering women, setting up homes and hostels for women and orphans, setting up old age homes, day-care centres and similar facilities for senior citizens and projects on reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups have been included.
Spending on training to promote rural and nationally recognized para-olympic and Olympic sports would also qualify for credit under the CSR rules. Rural development projects and contributions or funds to technology incubators located within academic institutions and approved by the government would also be approved under this category.
Officials said they expect the rules to be notified soon, maybe within a few days, after the law ministry approves the list. The rules were finalized after the corporate affairs ministry examined over one lakh suggestions from various stakeholders. While the rules do not elaborate on the sub-categories under rural development projects, officials said they expect several projects to be covered under the category for CSR spending.
But a clause which allowed company boards to identify any activity for CSR spending has been questioned by the law ministry which has delayed the notification of the much awaited rules. "They (the law ministry) have some reservations. It is a purely legal issue. They don't have any questions about the substance of the clause," said an official. The law stipulates the Centre to define CSR activities and does not allow further delegation of these powers to a company board.
Corporate affairs minister Sachin Pilot had said last year that the essence of the bill is self-reporting and self-disclosures and there is no intention on the part of the government to create an inspector raj. "This is the company's money. They have full freedom to choose how they want to spend that money," Pilot had said.
Get out and play: Ruskin Bond tells children
NEW DELHI, Feb 17: Noted author Ruskin Bond reminds children that they should spend leisure time in parks and other outdoor spaces rather than in malls or playing video games so that they can bond with the beauty of nature.
"I always wanted to tell the children that they should spend more time in parks and grounds and try to blend with the beauty of nature. That will increase your creative level as a writer," Bond said.
The author, who is the guest of honour at the ongoing World New Delhi World Book Fair was participating in an Author's Corner session, where he interacted with children and adults.
The 80-year-old author, in his long journey that extends across six decades has given the readers over 500 short stories, nearly 50 children's books, a dozen or so novellas and 150 other books. Bond emphasised that a writer should be always interested in people.
"An authors work directly or indirectly connects with people and their milieu. So, it would be better, before penning down one register the idea through observing the people," he said. Bond, a past recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award, says earlier there were few writers, but nowadays "writers are sprouting from here and there."
"Actually it's a good sign that young and vibrant writers are coming to the fore and keeping the literature world alive," the Mussourie-based author said.
Bond, who made a niche market among children, says a remark made by a child once made him realise that his writing lacked in variety. "Once I met with a child and he asked me why is it that I always wrote about leopards? I then realised sometimes my stories lack variety," Bond said.
"During my childhood, I was a quiet bookworm. Initially I wanted to emulate my favourite authors. Then, I started to draw the picture in my style. Your writing should be always original," Bond told children. The author said he recently came to know that he had more than 10000 books. "The more you read the more your become strong with the language," he said.
Eight-year-old Salman fan gets standing ovation on The Ellen Show
NEW YORK: Cheers greeted Akshat Singh, all of eight, when he rode into The Ellen Show on a little bike and proceeded to perform a complex routine of headstands, cartwheels and Bollywood-style dance moves. By the time he finished stylishly doing the splits, the audience was on its feet clapping and cheering loudly.
Akshat, a resident of Kolkata and semi-finalist on India's Got Talent, flew to USA last week after being invited onto the show by host Ellen DeGeneres. The pint-sized Salman Khan fan was meant to dance to a hit song featuring his favourite star but could not get permission to use the track in time for his performance.
Nevertheless, Akshat was not lacking for praise from the enthralled onlookers and received a new bike with his name on it as a gift from Ellen.
He also got a round of laughs and applause when he said he danced three hours every day and ate the rest of the time, adding that if you don't put petrol into the car it wouldn't run.
Delhi becomes world’s most polluted city
NEW DELHI, Jan 29: It’s no surprise that pollution is a perpetual problem in India. But it’s definitely disheartening to hear that India has slipped 32 ranks in the global Environment Performance Index (EPI) 2014 to rank a lowly 155 and its capital Delhi has earned the dubious tag of being the world’s most polluted city.
A comparative study of 178 countries on nine environmental parameters released earlier this month by the US-based Yale University shows that one of the world’s fastest growing economies is a disaster on the environmental front.
What’s worse, India’s pollution levels could be playing havoc with the health of its citizens. “A bottom performer on nearly every policy issue included in the 2014 EPI, with the exception of forests, fisheries and water resources, India’s performance lags most notably in the protection of human health from environmental harm,” said a statement issued by Yale.
The study described India’s air pollution as the worst in the world, tying with China in terms of the proportion of population exposed to average air pollution levels exceeding World Health Organisation (WHO) thresholds.
A deeper look at the data gathered by a Nasa satellite showed that Delhi had the highest particulate matter 2.5 pollution levels followed by Beijing. Delhi, with 8.1 million registered vehicles, has repeatedly beaten the Chinese capital on particulate matter pollution.
The high PM2.5 pollution caused by high vehicle density and industrial emissions is the reason for the dense smog that has been engulfing Delhi during the winter months in the last few years, with adverse health implications. And while Beijing’s infamous smog has hogged headlines and prompted government action, even led to the announcement of rewards for cutting back on pollution, the dangers in Delhi have been largely ignored.
According to a study by the Harvard International Review, every two in five persons in Delhi suffer from respiratory ailments. The Lancet’s Global Health Burden 2013 report termed air pollution the sixth biggest human killer in India. The WHO last year termed air pollution carcinogenic.
Particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5 in shorthand) are fine enough to lodge deep in human lung and blood tissue and cause diseases ranging from stroke to lung cancer, the Yale study said.
Anumita Roy Chaudhary, executive director of Delhi-based advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment, said policy-makers have failed to take the kind of action needed to check phenomenal growth in air pollution in India. “The gains of the introduction of CNG in 2000 have been lost. We are heading for dark days if policy-makers fail to wake up to the growing environmental health hazard,” she said.
The Central Pollution Control Board’s report of 2011 said only two cities, Kochi and Coimbatore, met the national ambient air quality standards, which are six times higher than WHO standards. Air pollution in half of the 280 Indian cities monitored has been termed critical or hazardous for human health. “Air pollution levels in almost all cities are on the upward trend,” said a CPCB scientist.
Canara Bank bags ‘Golden Peacock Award for Corporate Social Responsibility'
By Deepak Arora
BANGALORE, Jan 17: Acknowledging the yeoman’s services rendered by Canara Bank under its numerous programmes of Corporate Social Responsibility, the Bank has been conferred with ‘Golden Peacock Global Award - year 2013’.
The award is instituted by the Institute of Directors, New Delhi, an independent organization for promotion of good corporate governance.
At a glittering function held here, Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar handed over award to Mr R K Dubey, Chairman & Managing Director of Canara Bank and Mr S S Bhat, General Manager, Canara Bank H O.
The award has been won amidst stiff competition between a galaxy of public and civil society organizations and was decided by the Jury under the Chairmanship of Justice P N Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India and Co-Chairmanship of Justice (Dr.) Arijit Pasayat, former Judge, Supreme Court of India.
The efforts of Canara Bank – a financial behemoth for serving the society was lauded by the distinguished gathering of business leaders, jurists, academics, environmentalists and policy makers during the '8th International Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility- 2014' organised to commemorate the Awards ceremony.
Canara Bank success story of promoting Art and culture was presented in the conference. Canara Bank is running three exclusive training Institutes wherein unemployed youth are trained in the art & craft of Wood & metal carving and terracotta. The training is given free of cost with free residential facility wherein any interested youth from any part of the country can take the training.
Bank has published the Institute details in its corporate website.
Richard Howitt MEP, Member of the European Parliament for the East of England and European Parliament Spokesperson on CSR, delivered the Special Address on the occasion.
Shiva Trilogy has sold 2 million copies and movies will further help my books: Amish
NEW DELHI, Jan 21: Amish has written The Immortals of Meluha, The Secret of the Nagas and The Oath of the Vayuputras. Interestingly, more than 20 publishers turned down his first book. However, in 2010 Westland finally published his book and it turned out to be a profitable association. “All three books are contracted for the movie projects. The international rights have been purchased by an American producer and for India the rights are with Karan Johar's Dharma Productions,” Amish said.
Asked about his involvement with the movie projects, Amish said that he is not writing the screenplay.
“In both the projects, I am the creative consultant. I am not writing the screenplay. The screenplay work has already begun for the Indian language adaptation by Karan Johar's Dharma. I help the screenplay writers Karan Malhotra and his wife Ekta," he said.
"The books have sold two million copies. All the three books are still in the top three list. Movies will take time but will help my books,” he said talking about the benefits of movie adaptation of his books.
Now, he may be a celebrated author but he had his share of struggle.
“When I had written the book, it was difficult to get it published primarily because it's on a religious topic. I was told such books don't sell. I stopped counting after 20 rejections. I was advised to write a love story or something like that. The book finally got published in 2010,” said Amish, who describes the trilogy as adventure books based on religion.
Busy with his next book on mythology, he is hopeful that both the film projects will be good.
He feels that the Indian film industry, known for focusing more on formula films, is changing and consequently attracting the filmmakers towards the publishing world.
“There was a time when stories were not considered so important in the success of a movie. It was only about star and music. But over the last five to 10 years, the movies, which have strong stories, have shown good results. Movie industry has perhaps realised the importance of good stories and that the good place to pick up good stories is in the book publishing space,” he said.
Pawan Kumar Jain asks Rajasthan exporters to utilise ATA Carnet
By Deepak Arora
JAIPUR, Jan 17: Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in association with FIEO & GJEPC (Rajasthan Region) organised a workshop on ATA Carnet “Your visa for temporary export/ import of goods between international borders” to highlightits its uses and interact with the local export community to educate them about the benefits of using this facility. The Inaugural address was given by Mr Pawan Kumar Jain, Commissioner of Customs, Jaipur.
ATA Carnet is a temporary admission document which simplifies the customs procedures and clearances in a foreign country, without paying duty or a bank guarantee for temporary import into that country. Like a passport for goods, ATA Carnet allows for the goods for which it was issued to enter any of the participating countries for up to one year. An ATA Carnet holder can avoid customs declaration and can do away with security deposit or guarantees in the country of importation. In India, FICCI is the sole National Guarantor for ATA Carnets.
ATA Carnet covers several areas for use including trade fairs, shows, exhibitions, meetings etc. for temporary export into a country which is a signatory to the conventions governing ATA Carnets. Goods must be re-exported out of every country and re-imported into India within a year. At present 73 countries recognize ATA Carnet, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, UAE, UK and USA.
To facilitate Carnet like mechanism for temporary movement of goods/exhibits between India and Taiwan, a protocol was recently signed between FICCI in India and TAITRA in Taiwan. The same is expected to be implemented soon.
The Government is actively considering to expand the scope of ATA Carnet convention. At present, India is a signatory to convention on exhibitors and fairs only. It is proposed to expand the same to cover commercial samples, professional equipment, private exhibitions, film shootings, musical troupes, sports and media coverage etc.
FICCI, which is the National Issuing and Guaranteeing Association (NIGA) for implementing ATA Carnets in India, is pursuing the matter with the Ministry of Finance for the expansion of scope of system to cover professional equipment and commercial samples.
Highlighting the benefits of ATA Carnet at the workshop, Mr. Nirankar Saxena, Senior Director FICCI stated that ATA Carnet is an International customs document created to facilitate duty free and tax free temporary imports of goods in 73 countries. He said that it was a joint initiative of the World Customs Organization (WCO) and the ICC World Chambers Federation (WCF). He also pointed out that the usage of ATA Carnet in India is low whereas in countries like Switzerland and Germany it is five times higher per annum.
S. Vijayalakshmi, Deputy Director, FICCI, in her presentation said that the exporter using carnets should refrain from selling goods under ATA Carnet as it is allowed only “temporary import” of goods into another member country. She further stated that the carnets are intended for re-exportation and not for sale in the country of temporary admission.
Earlier Mr Gyan Prakash, FICCI Rajasthan State Council gave an overview of the activities of FICCI and welcomed the signatories and delegates.
The seminar was attended by large number of participants from the exim and trading and business community from all over Rajasthan.
11 manufacturers bag coveted Carpet Design Awards at DOMOTEX 2014
By Sushma Arora
HANNOVER (Germany), Jan 13: The Carpet Design Awards for 2014 were given to 11 manufacturers at the Domotex Hannover here on Sunday. The presentation of the internationally acclaimed awards took place for the ninth time at the world fair for carpets and floor coverings in Hannover. The Carpet Design Awards are dedicated to handmade carpets of remarkable quality and design. A panel of experts judged outstanding products in a range of categories, including best studio artist designs and modern carpets, as well as everything ranging from traditional to innovative. This year’s Carpet Design Awards also focussed in particular on young talent.
A total of 329 entries from designers from across the world entered the competition for the highly esteemed awards. 33 carpets reached the final round. All these entries were on show on a special display area here for the public. After careful deliberation, the panel of judges were most impressed by 11 designs displaying particular excellence in terms of design, colours and materials. Year after year, the Carpet Design Awards set standards in design trends and ideas.
“The Carpet Design Awards provides a snapshot of the best and most innovative carpets being made today. The experience of the jury members ranges from interiors and product design, through to artists to rug retailers, however it is interesting for me to note that they always find themselves excited and inspired by the constant inventiveness of the best rug designers,” said Ben Evans, executive editor of Cover magazine.
The emphasis on upcoming, next-generation talent is another new feature involving the introduction of two new categories. The AfghanMade initiative called for young designers (aged below 25) and design students to create and submit their own original work. Six designs were then handcrafted in Afghanistan and will be on view at DOMOTEX.
In the design student category the contestants Sheefalika Misra from India, Evrim Terkesli from Turkey and Aoi Yoshizawa from Japan reached the final round. The winner was Sheefalika Misra. The finalists in the young designer category were Isobel Morris and Allistair Covell, both from the United Kingdom, and Sanja Peric from Serbia. The winner of this category was Allistair Covell.
The winners of the Carpet Design Awards for 2014:
1. Best Student Design: Sheefalika Misra, AfghanMade
2. Best Young Designer: Allistair Covell, AfghanMade
3. Best Studio Artist Design: Shore Line by Studio Claudy Jongstra
4. Best Modern Design Standard: Taala by Naziri
5. Best Modern Design Superior: Peacock by New Moon
6. Best Modern Design Deluxe: Prince of Wales by Zollanvari
7. Best Traditional Design: Tree of Life by Rug Star
8. Best Transitional Design: Garden Antracid by Global Overseas
9. Best Modern Collection: Manhattan Collection by Wool & Silk Rugs
10. Best Traditional Collection: Haîk Collection by Jan Kath Design
11. Best Innovation: Cross me (k)not by cc-tapis
Seema Dubey opens Mega Canara Utsav in Bangalore
By Deepak Arora
BANGALORE, Jan 9: Canara Bank, a leading nationalised Bank, is also a pioneer in carrying out its Corporate Social Responsibility. As a part of CSR activity, the Department of Women Empowerment, Priority Credit and Financial Inclusion Wing, Canara Bank, Head Office, Bangalore has organised yet another mega Canara Utsav, an exhibition and Sale of products manufactured by Women Entrepreneurs from January 9 to 12 at Sri Avani Sringeri Shankar Mutt, West of Chord Road, Mahalakshmipuram, Bangalore.
The upcoming women entrepreneurs are provided stalls free of cost to market the products made /dealt by them.
The Utsav was inaugurated by Mrs Seema Dubey, wife of Mr R K Dubey, Chairman and Managing Director, Canara Bank.
Mrs Seema Dubey encouraged the women Entrepreneurs and said “A change is a must to achieve success and women are changing for the better everyday. Women have excelled in all fields of Life.
Women Entrepreneurs need to strive for attaining self reliance and rise to greater heights in life. The Bank has and will support the needs of women in all possible ways.”
Presiding over the function, Mr S S Bhat, General Manager, PC & FI Wing, H O made a note about the the various facilities provided to women to establish and run their business under the Corporate Social Responsibility by the Bank.
Mr Ravindra Bhandary, General Manager of Bangalore Metro Circle, said that the Bank will provide need based financial assistance to women entrepreneurs to set up and run their business.
Mr Unnithan, General Manager, Canara Bank, HO, Deputy General Managers Mr K Virupaksha and Mr Ramesh and Mrs Suseela K, AGM who were present on the occasion also appreciated the women for their talents and wished them all success in life.
Mrs Ankur Chaturvedi, H R Consultant who was present during the Occasion appreciated the creativity of women entrepreneurs and wished them all success.
All the Dignitaries interacted with the women and encouraged them by buying their products.
Dhoom 3: the first Indian film to earn Rs. 500 crore worldwide
MUMBAI, Jan 9: With Bollywood films setting new landmarks everyday, Rs. 100 crore seems like a forgotten figure! Dhoom:3, the latest instalment of one of our most successful action adventure franchises, has grossed Rs. 501.35 crore ($83.56 million) worldwide since its release on December 20, 2013.
On Monday, Yash Raj Films (YRF), the production house of Dhoom franchise, issued a statement citing figures for the worldwide collections.
"Dhoom:3 continues to create history at both the Indian and overseas box office. It is now officially the first Indian film to cross Rs. 500 crore worldwide," read the statement from YRF.
The movie also broke the record for fastest entry into Rs. 100 crore, earlier held by Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Chennai Express.
According to the breakup of the gross box office collections, in India, the action adventure movie, starring Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, Abhishek Bachchan and Uday Chopra, has grossed Rs. 351.29 crore, while in the overseas market, it has collected Rs. 150.06 crore ($25.01 million).