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AR Rahman in the race for Oscar again

LOS ANGELES, Dec 14: AR Rahman, the double Oscar winning Indian composer, is once again in contention in the race for an Academy Award. Among the 114 scores in contention for a nomination in the Original Score category for the 87th Oscars, the Mozart of Madras stands a chance with three mentions.

His work for Million Dollar Arm, The Hundred-Foot Journey and Indian film Kochadaiiyaan are part of the long list released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on its website on Friday.

The final nominations shortlist for the prestigious awards will be announced January 15, 2015, while the presentation ceremony will be held February 22, 2015.

Rahman had earlier made India proud with his twin win at the Academy Awards platform for Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire in 2009. He was lauded for his best original score as also the best original song Jai ho from the same film, with lyrics by Gulzar.

In 2011, he had received two nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards for his original score in Boyle's 127 Hours as well as original song If I Rise for the same movie.

India's Satyarthi, Pakistan's Malala receive Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO, Dec 10: Indian child rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi received the Nobel Peace Prize on Wednesday, sharing his award with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who became the youngest laureate ever.

"A young girl and a somewhat older man, one from Pakistan and one from India, one Muslim, the other Hindu; both symbols of what the world needs: more unity. Fraternity between the nations!" Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee, said at the ceremony in Oslo.

Satyarthi's organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Movement to Save Childhood) prides itself on liberating more than 80,000 children from bonded labour in factories and workshops across India and has networks of activists in more than 100 countries.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) there are about 168 million child labourers around the world.

Nobel winners receive eight million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million, 862,000 euros), which is shared in the case of joint wins.

Satyarthi, a soft-spoken, trim 60-year-old, has for decades been at the forefront of the drive against child labour in India, home to the largest number of working children in the world, according to the charity ChildLine.

"This prize is important for the millions and millions who are denied a childhood," Satyarthi said in Oslo on the eve of the prize-giving.

The award has sparked new awareness about child labour, he said, adding, "Consciousness is the beginning of change."

"There are children who are sold and bought like animals," said Satyarthi, an admirer of the pacifist teachings of Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi.

"There are children who are born and live in situations of conflict and terror."

"I refuse to accept that the world is so poor, when just one week of global military expenditure is enough to bring all of our children into classrooms," he said after receiving the prize.

"I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can ever be... stronger than the quest for freedom."

Malala, 17, became a global icon after she was shot and nearly killed by the Taliban in October 2012 for insisting that girls had a right to an education.

Malala has already been honoured with a host of awards, standing ovations and plaudits everywhere from the United Nations to Buckingham Palace.

On the eve of the ceremony, she said she would not rest on her laurels, saying she would like one day to become prime minister in her native Pakistan.

"If I can serve my country best through politics and through becoming a prime minister then I would definitely choose that," she told the BBC.

"I want to serve my country and my dream is that my country becomes a developed country and I see every child get an education."

20-year-old Jaipur girl gets Rs. 2.1-crore job offer from Facebook

JAIPUR, Dec 9: Astha Agarwal had no inkling back in 2009 when she signed up as a user on Facebook that she would one day get an offer from the social networking company.

She had joined FB to keep in touch with people she met in Azerbaijan during the International Junior Science Olympiad, but in May this year, she was at FB headquarters in Menlo Park, California, for summer internship.

After the May-to-July internship, she got the offer to work as a software engineer at FB.

“But it was only recently that I calculated the money in INR and realised mine was the highest among all FB offers,” she says. Astha will join FB in October next year after she completes her eighth semester at Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B).

Astha, 20, is the younger of the two daughters of a Rajasthan Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited (RVPNL), a transmission company, executive engineer. She is in Jaipur for her winter vacation.

After the news has got out that she’s got a pre-placement offer from the social media company for Rs. 2.1 crore salary, including sign-on bonus and ESOPs, the phone at the modest Agarwal household in government colony on Sahkar Marg in Jaipur hasn’t stopped ringing.

She got into IIT when her elder sister, Pavitra, graduated from IIT, Delhi, as a chemical engineer. She secured all India rank of 90 in IIT-JEE 2011 and joined department of computer science engineering at IIT-B.

However, Astha isn’t as excited about the money as much as she is excited about working for Facebook. “She also got an offer from Google, but she didn’t take it,” her father Ashok Agarwal says.

“As a matter of fact, she hasn’t appeared for any other company during the placements.”

“What I liked about FB was that is has much less employees than Google and it is easier to make an impact with less people around,” she explains why she’s so happy for the offer.

“It’s a start-up kind of a culture, but more than anything, I guess it’s just a matter of choice.” Talking about Zuckerberg, she says she didn’t get a chance to meet him personally during the internship “but I recall from a recent news was that he wears the same t-shirt every day so he doesn’t waste time in deciding what to wear”.

“I think that is something very inspiring and people who complain about lack of time can learn something from this,” she says. Astha is one of the five other IIT-B graduates who have got FB offer: two during pre-placements and three from campus placements.

Astha went to St Xavier’s School in Jaipur and got 98% in Class 12.

 



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