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Dan Brown to deliver Penguin Lecture in Delhi, Mumbai

By Deepak Arora

Dan BrownNEW DELHI, Oct 29: Dan Brown,one of the most iconic writers of our times, will deliver Penguin annual lecture in Delhi and Mumbai in November. He will speak on Codes, Science, and Religion. He is globally bestselling author of the books Digital Fortress, Deception Point, Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol and Inferno.

Dan Brown is the author of numerous #1 bestselling novels, including The Da Vinci Code, which has become one of the bestselling novels of all time as well as the subject of intellectual debate among readers and scholars. Brown’s novels are published in 52 languages around the world with 200 million copies in print.

In 2005, Brown was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME magazine, whose editors credited him with ‘keeping the publishing industry afloat; renewed interest in Leonardo da Vinci and early Christian history; spiking tourism to Paris and Rome; a growing membership in secret societies; the ire of Cardinals in Rome; eight books denying the claims of the novel and seven guides to read along with it; a flood of historical thrillers; and a major motion picture franchise.’

The son of a mathematics teacher and a church organist, Brown was raised on a prep school campus where he developed a fascination with the paradoxical interplay between science and religion. These themes eventually formed the backdrop for his books. He is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where he later returned to teach English before focusing his attention full time to writing.

Dan BrownBrown is currently at work on a new book as well as the Columbia Pictures film version of his most recent novel.

About the forthcoming event, Dan Brown said, ‘I visited India when I was eighteen years old and became captivated by the people’s warmth and the mystical beauty of the landscapes. I have always dreamed of returning to India and am very excited to do so now.’

Gaurav Shrinagesh, CEO of Penguin Random House India, added, ‘Dan Brown is a global phenomenon – with The Da Vinci Code and his other immensely popular books, he has been singlehandedly responsible for getting a whole new generation of readers around the world interested in books, travel, symbols, history and art. We are privileged to publish his books at Penguin Random House and it is a real honour for us to have him with us in India. We’re looking forward to a truly memorable lecture in both Delhi and Mumbai.’

One of the most prestigious cultural events of the year, The Penguin Annual Lecture series features some of the world’s most respected leaders, thinkers and writers.

It is the first annual lecture to be organized by a publishing house in India and has become one of the most anticipated cultural events on the calendar. This will be the eighth Penguin Annual Lecture.

The seven previous lectures have been delivered by journalist and writer Thomas Friedman in 2007, diplomat and writer Chris Patten in 2008, Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen in 2009, eminent historian Ramachandra Guha in 2010, renowned spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2011, Bharat Ratna awardee scientist and former president of India APJ Abdul Kalam in 2012 and cinematic superstar and cultural icon Amitabh Bachchan in 2013.

This year’s Lecture will be held in two cities for the first time—following the Lecture delivered in New Delhi on 10 November, we will be hosting the prestigious Lecture for the very first time in Mumbai, on 12 November. The Lecture in Mumbai will be held in partnership with Crossword.

Parsons Students Join First Lady for White House Education Workshop

Michelle ObamaWASHINGTON D.C., Oct 8: It isn’t every day that you get to step foot in the White House. It’s even less often that you get to transform it into your very own classroom and art space. But that’s exactly what students from The New School’s Parsons School of Design students got to do when they were invited to participate in the first ever White House Fashion Education Workshop on Wednesday, and to create an installation in the building’s East Room over the last two weeks.

The students came at the invitation of none other than The First Lady Michelle Obama.

“I want to thank all of the students and faculty from Parsons who contributed to the installation today,” said Obama, who in a speech highlighted Parsons graduates Jason Wu, Lela Rose, and Narciso Rodriguez for their contributions to fashion and design. Addressing young designers, she said, “If you can sit at these tables and sit here with all these great people, you can do anything […] We are proud of you, our president is proud of you.”

A delegation of 31 students, as well as distinguished alumni, faculty and leaders from Parsons, visited the White House for the event—a chance to rub elbows with The First Lady and learn about design in the official residence of the President of the United States. Ten students from the Parsons Scholars program, which provides intensive arts and design learning to students from underserved New York City high schools, were selected to participate at the workshops.

In the weeks leading up to the event, 16 Parsons undergraduate and graduate students secretly conceived and built a striking installation in the White House East Room. The product of a rapid two-week exploration, led by Alison Mears, Dean of the School of Design Strategies at Parsons, Jonsara Ruth, Director, MFA Interior Design at Parsons, and stylist Helen Quinn, faculty at the School of Constructed Environments, the sustainable and celebratory installation comprises 600 discarded book pages and covers, steel and local flowers and ferns.

“It was so exciting, so extraordinary, so unbelievable chic and polite and so much more,” said Laura Alexandra Suppan, a student of interior design from Vienna, Austria who is currently completing her MFA at Parsons. “We worked in the East Room. We worked in the East Room. Nothing more to say – unbelievable!”

Star Designer Oscar de la Renta is dead

NEW YORK, Oct 21: Oscar de la Renta, the worldly gentleman designer who shaped the wardrobe of socialites and Hollywood stars for more than four decades, has died. He was 82.

De la Renta died at home Monday evening in Connecticut surrounded by family and friends and "more than a few dogs," according to a handwritten statement signed by his stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen.

"While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us. Oscar's hard work, his intelligence and his love of life are at the heart of our company," the statement said. "All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit. Through Oscar's example we know the way forward. We will make Oscar very proud of us by continuing in an even stronger way the work that Oscar loved so much."

The late '60s and early '70s were a defining moment in US fashion as New York-based designers finally carved a look of their own that was taken seriously by Europeans. De la Renta and his peers, including the late Bill Blass, Roy Halston and Geoffrey Beene, defined American style - and their influence is still spotted today.

De la Renta's specialty was eveningwear, though he also was known for chic daytime suits favoured by the women who would gather at the Four Seasons or Le Cirque at lunchtime. His signature looks were voluminous skirts, exquisite embroideries and rich colours.

Most recently, Amal Alamuddin wore a de la Renta-designed wedding dress when she married George Clooney. First ladies Laura Bush wore an icy blue gown by de la Renta to the 2005 inaugural ball and Hillary Rodham Clinton wore a gold de la Renta to the 1997 ball.

On the red carpet at the Academy Awards, Penelope Cruz and Sandra Bullock were among the celebrities to don his feminine and opulent gowns. His clothes even were woven into episodes of Sex and the City with style icon character Carrie Bradshaw dropping his name - and comparing his designs to poetry.

"We will miss Oscar's generous and warm personality, his charm, and his wonderful talents." Bush said in a statement. "My daughters and I have many fond memories of visits with Oscar, who designed our favorite clothes, including Jenna's wedding dress. We will always remember him as the man who made women look and feel beautiful."

De la Renta's path to New York's Seventh Avenue took an unlikely route: He left his native Dominican Republic at age 18 to study painting in Spain but soon became sidetracked by fashion. The wife of the US Ambassador to Spain saw some of his sketches and asked him to make a dress for her daughter - a dress that landed on the cover of Life magazine.

That led to an apprenticeship with Cristobal Balenciaga, and then de la Renta moved to France to work for couture house Lanvin. By 1963, he was working for Elizabeth Arden couture in New York and in 1965 had launched his own label.

He said in 2004 that his Hispanic roots worked their way into his designs.

"I like light, colour, luminosity. I like things full of colour and vibrant," he said.

And while de la Renta made Manhattan his primary home, he often visited the Dominican Republic and kept a home there. Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour was a frequent visitor and she has said travelling with him was like travelling with the president. "He's a superstar," she said.

He also had a country home in northwestern Connecticut. Gardening and dancing were among his favorite diversions from work. "I'm a very restless person. I'm always doing something. The creative process never stops," he said.

As a designer, De la Renta always catered to his socialite friends and neighbors - as the designer and his wife, Annette, were fixtures on the black-tie charity circuit - but he did make occasional efforts to reach the masses, including launching a mid-priced line in 2004 and developing a dozen or so perfumes, the first, called Oscar, was introduced in 1977 and more recently, Rosamor hit the market.

He was an avid patron of the arts, serving as a board member of The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, among others, and he devoted considerable time to children's charities, including New Yorkers for Children. He also helped fund schools and day-care centers in La Romana and Punta Cana in his native country.

The Dominican Republic honoured de la Renta with the order al Merito de Juan Pablo Duarte and the order of Cristobol Colon. In the US, he received the Coty American Fashion Critics Award twice, was named womenswear designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2000 and also received a lifetime achievement award from the CFDA - an organisation for which he served as president in the 1980s.

In addition to his own label, de la Renta spearheaded the Pierre Balmain collection from 1993-2002, marking the first time an American designed for a French couture house, and he was awarded the French Legion d'Honneur as a Commandeur. He also received the Gold Medal Award from the king and queen of Spain.

De la Renta gave up the title of chief executive of his company in 2004, handing over business duties to the Bolens, but he remained active on the design end, continuing to show his collections during New York Fashion Week.

De la Renta also is survived by an adopted son, Moises, a designer at the company.

De la Renta's first wife, French Vogue editor Francoise de Langlade, died in 1983.

Google Storyteller Robert Wong Returns For Parsons Reunion

Robert WongNEW YORK, Oct 14: Robert Wong admits he isn’t an engineer. He hasn’t built any of the groundbreaking Internet products that people know and love.

Rather, Wong—the livewire head of Google Creative Lab, the search giant’s in-house ad agency—is a storyteller; he writes the “fiction” that gives the science a human touch.

One of Wong’s most compelling stories is also one of Google’s most popular commercials: a 53-second clip that shows a series of Google searches charting the story of an intercontinental Parisian romance.

“It’s not enough that the technology is awesome—there should be a great story about why we love it and how it fits into our lives,” Wong, a Parsons The New School for Design graduate, told his fellow alumni during Parsons Reunion Sunday. “And if that story is compelling enough, people will want the technology—they’ll want to build it and they’ll want to use it.”

Held at the John L. Tishman Auditorium in the New School’s University Center, Parsons Reunion 2014 brought hundreds of Parsons alumni together to reconnect, network and share their successes with fellow graduates. Many in attendance have gone on to become leaders in their fields.

One of those leaders is Wong, who, in the years since completing his BFA in Communication Design from Parsons, has worked on marketing campaigns for some of the world’s most beloved brands, including Apple, Harley-Davidson and Jack Daniel’s; at Google, he’s developed engaging campaigns that illustrate the way the company’s products are woven into our lives.

Sitting down with Paul Goldberger, Joseph Urban Professor of Design at Parsons, Wong touched on how storytelling informs technological innovation, why the best products emerge from collaboration and what the future holds for the field of design.

“One thing I think about a lot is how to balance technology and humanity,” said Wong, who joined Goldberger around the famed ubiquitous Parsons table. “How do you connect people with technology without letting them get too sucked in?”

Wong, who landed his job at Google Creative Lab in 2008, said he is guided by a human-centered approach to design. Asked by Goldberg about why “the (Google homepage) has so much empty space,” Wong responded, “It’s about getting out of the way of the audience.”

“At Google, there’s a deep ethos of defending the user,” he added.

Wong also opened up about his own personal narrative. Beginning his career in accounting, he had every intention of meeting the expectations of his traditional family. However, his right brain ultimately took over his left one: After just three months, the aspiring designer quit his undergraduate program and ran off to New York City to attend Parsons.

Wong wasn’t the reunion’s only success story. Following the discussion, more than 80 Parsons alumni showcased their work in an exhibition across the street at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. Among the exhibitors were Kay Unger (BFA, Fashion Design 1968), the former creative head of Phoebe Company and one and of the leading formalwear designers in the country; Ji Lee (BFA Communication Design 1996), the founder of Please Enjoy and one of Fast Company’s “50 Most Influential Designers in America”; and Christopher Roth (BFA, Illustration 2002), a co-founder of The Other House who recently led a design campaign for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Revolt TV network.

In addition, current Parsons students who participated in First Lady Michelle Obama’s first-ever White House Fashion Education Workshop received a standing ovation for an installation they created in the building’s East Room.

“What an amazing opportunity for such an amazing group of students,” Joel Towers, the Executive Dean of Parsons The New School For Design, said.

Carlos Pion (BFA Communications Design ’98), who shared his sleek brand campaign for Everything But Water in the alumni exhibition, reflected on “how wonderful” it was to return to his alma mater and “how important it is to all of us.” When it comes to design, Pion said he and Wong are cut from the same philosophical cloth.

“The purpose of design is to solve problems,” he said. “Design can be beautiful, but at the end of the day, there’s a consumer that wants to see results, to have a product that resonates with them. Robert understands this.”

Bridging the divide between art and technology, Wong has seen the impact of storytelling both on the way a product is designed and how it’s marketed to consumers. It’s not only about the science, he insists, but about the “fiction behind the science.”

“When I graduated from art school, I never could have imagined, that one day, I’d be working with amazing storytellers and brilliant engineers to fundamentally shape the future that my kids and my kids’ kids might live in,” Wong said. “If you’re in the creative arts, don’t underestimate the role you might play in helping to shape the future.”

A Memory

By Eshaan Sehgal

A memory is not only the past

It is what determines the future

It is what is in store for you next

It is a chance for redemption

It is a fragment of imagination

It is a Memory

Eshaan SehgalMy inspiration for this poem was the very world around me. After my 14 years of existence I have come to see that “a memory is not only the past” that, only a person who is a fool fails to understand this. So once, I learned it too, I was inspired to write this poem. I hope that any reader learns from this like I have.

A poetic device I used is metaphor, an example of this in the poem is /it is what determines the future/, in this line I compare a memory to the future.

Another poetic device I used is rhyme, an example of this in the poem are the lines /It is a chance for redemption/ and /It is a fragment of imagination/ the last words in the poems rhyme.

@ Eshaan Sehgal is a 9th Grade student at Syosset High School, Long Island, New York

French economist Jean Tirole wins Nobel for analysis of big companies

Jean TiroleSTOCKHOLM, Oct 13: French economist Jean Tirole won the Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for his analysis of big companies, market power and regulation, the Royal Academy of Sciences said.

Tirole, the second Frenchman to be honoured this year, is "one of the most influential economists of our time," the jury said.

"Many industries are dominated by a small number of large firms or a single monopoly," the jury said of the economist, from Toulouse 1 Capitole University.

"Left unregulated, such markets often produce socially undesirable results -- prices higher than those motivated by costs, or unproductive firms that survive by blocking the entry of new and more productive ones."

The power of markets and the importance of strong and appropriate regulation has been a central issue in the management of national economies in recent years.

This has been the case especially since the 1980s, when policies in advanced countries moved progressively to allowing markets a freer role, and privatised former state monopolies, with the aim of raising competition and reducing inflation.

One of the chief contributions of 61-year-old Tirole is the insight that market dominance works differently in different industries, according to the jury.

It noted that undercutting prices has traditionally been disciplined under competition, or anti-trust, law, because setting prices below production costs is one way of getting rid of competitors -- but this is not necessarily true of all markets.

In the newspaper market, for example, giving away papers free can be a way of attracting readers and thus new advertisers to cover the losses arising from production and distribution.

"In this case, it is doubtful whether undercutting should be banned," the jury said. "The best regulation or competition policy should therefore be carefully adapted to every industry's specific conditions."

Tirole's research has also showed that some companies -- for example producers of widely used but patented software -- are able to dominate not just their own industry, but also neighbouring industries further down the production chain.

"If the innovation is sold to only one firm, this firm makes a high profit because it becomes more efficient than its competitors. The producer can then set his price considerably higher," the jury said.

The jury argued that Tirole's work has provided a framework for designing policies for a number of industries, ranging from telecommunications to banking.

The citation comes amid growing controversy over the market power of such companies as Amazon and Google. "Drawing on these new insights, governments can better encourage powerful firms to become more productive and, at the same time, prevent them from harming competitors and customers," it said.

The prize will be awarded at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the death in 1896 of the prizes' creator, Swedish scientist and philanthropist Alfred Nobel.

The economics prize is the only Nobel not originally included in Nobel's last will and testament. It was established in 1968 by the Swedish central bank to celebrate its tricentenary, and first awarded in 1969.

The other prizes have been awarded since 1901. The award of this year's prize to a French national marked a departure from American dominance on the list of laureates.

Over the past decade, 18 out 20 economics prize laureates have been from the United States, including one Israeli-American. Last year, US scholars Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller won for their work on spotting trends in the asset markets.

The economics prize winds up this year's Nobel season, marked the award of the peace prize to 17-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai and India's Kailash Satyarthi, and the literature prize to French writer Patrick Modiano.

India's Child Rights crusador Satyarthi and Pak's Malala bag Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO, Oct 10: Amidst heightened border tensions along India, Pakistan border, Nobel Committee awared Nobel Peace prize jointly to India's Child Rights crusador Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistani activists Malala Yousafzai to perhaps show to the world Peace is bigger than anything else.

Little known in his own country, Satyarthi has been heading a more than three-decade long campaign for child rights, pushing for their education and fighting against child trafficking and bonded labour.

“This award is recognition to all activists fighting against the exploitation of children and slavery,” said the 60-year-old activist, the second Indian to win a Nobel Peace prize after Mother Teresa who was given the award in 1979.

"I am thankful to Nobel committee for recognising the plight of millions of children who are suffering in this modern age. It is a huge honour for me."

Yousafzai, now 17, is a schoolgirl and education campaigner in Pakistan who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago.

The Nobel jury said the prize was going to the two for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education."

Signalling a larger intent behind jointly awarding the prize, the Nobel Committee said it “regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”

The rivalry between India and Pakistan is among the world’s most intractable border disputes, one that is seen as a major source of for instability in South Asia. The two countries have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.

Over the past week, Indian and Pakistani troops have exchanged heavy fire across their Himalayan border in one of the worst escalation of violence in recent years that killed some 17 people on both sides. The firing is said to have stopped on Friday.

Oslo’s focus on South Asia was also signalled in a recent meeting of top Norwegian diplomats in Delhi that dwelled on the impact of Narendra Modi’s electoral win on the region.

While regional consultations among ambassadors are a regular diplomatic practice, such a meeting on South Asia days assumes significance given Oslo’s involvement in brokering peace in India’s neighbourhood – Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Norway’s investments in India are around USD 10 billion; 90 Norwegian companies work in the country and in the first six months of 2014, the Norwegian embassy issued almost 10 percent more business visas for Indian citizens than in the preceding year.

Pointing to child labour, however, is embarrassing for India, where millions of underage workers are employed as domestic help or made to work at stone quarries, embroidery units, mines, carpet-weaving factories and restaurants and hotels.

Satyarthi’s organisation, the New Delhi-based Bachpan Bachao Andolan, has been at the head of the fight against child labour, creating domestic and international consumer resistance to products made by bonded children as well as with direct legal and advocacy work.

Data from NOGs indicated that child labourers could number 60 million in India, or 6% of the total population.

The father-of-two, who is an electrical engineer by training, has rescued some 80,000 children sold to pay their parents' debts and helped them find new lives.

Last month, based on a complaint filed by his organisation in a Delhi court, the Indian government was forced to put in place regulations to protect domestic workers who are often physically and sexually abused and exploited.

With the prize, Yousafzai, 17, becomes the youngest Nobel Prize winner, eclipsing Australian-born British scientist Lawrence Bragg, who was 25 when he shared the Physics Prize with his father in 1915.

Yousafzai was attacked in 2012 on a school bus in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan by masked gunmen as a punishment for a blog that she started writing for the BBC's Urdu service as an 11-year-old to campaign against the Taliban's efforts to deny women an education.

Unable to return to Pakistan after her recovery, Yousafzai moved to Britain, setting up the Malala Fund and supporting local education advocacy groups with a focus on Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya.

In New Delhi, shortly after the announcement, joyous celebrations broke out at Satyarthi’s modest office in a southern neighbourhood.

"This is not about simply poverty and rights of children. It is more than that. The fight has to continue,” Satyarthi told reporters.

“We are happy that the issue has been recognised globally now. I will continue my work.”

Malala wants Modi, Sharif to attend Nobel Award ceremony

LONDON, Oct 10: Malala Yusufzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, on Friday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to be present when the prize is awarded to her and Indian winner Kailash Satyarthi in Oslo on December 10.

Making a statement in Birmingham after finishing school, she said she had spoken to Satyarthi, and had asked him also to request Modi to attend the event. She said she would similarly request Sharif for his participation.

Malala, 17, said she was honoured to be chosen for the award and for sharing it with Satyarthi, whose "great work for child rights, against child slavery inspired me". He 'totally deserved' the award, she said.

Referring to current tension between India and Pakistan on the international border, Malala expressed her disappointment and said she wanted both countries to hold dialogue and focus on education and development.

Recalling her unfortunate experience with the Taliban in the Swat valley in Pakistan, she said she earlier wanted to be study and be a doctor, but now she wanted to be a 'good politician'.

Malala was told by a teacher during her Chemistry class in school about the Nobel announcement, but went through the day as usual, attending Physics and English classes later. She thanked her parents, school teachers and fellow students for their support.

"The award is not for me but for every child in the world. This is not the end of the campaign I started, but the beginning. I want to see every child in the world go to school. I want every child to stand up for their rights, to receive quality education, not to suffer child labour, child trafficking", she said.

She added: "I had a phone call from Kailash and we both spoke about how important it is for children to go to school. We both decided to work together; also decided to try to build strong relations between both countries".

Malala is a student of the Edgbaston High School, where she enrolled after recovering from the serious head injury she suffered after being shot at by the Taliban in Pakistan. She was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she lives with her parents.

 



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