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Modi congratulates yoga teacher for Guinness record

NEW DELHI, Feb 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday congratulated Hong Kong-based Indian yoga instructor Yogaraj C.P., who created a Guinness World Record by performing yoga continuously for 40 hours non-stop.

He also lauded the role of the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong for their efforts to popularise yoga and their support to Yogaraj.

“Congrats to Hong Kong-based Indian Yoga teacher, Mr. Yogaraj C.P. for creating a Guinness World Record!,” he tweeted.

“I appreciate the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong for their efforts to popularise Yoga & their support to Mr. Yogaraj,” he said in another tweet.

The 29-year-old Indian yoga teacher set a Guinness World Record by performing Yoga continuously for 40 hours non-stop, demonstrating more than 1,500 ‘asanas’ before attempting the record, Yogaraj had said if he succeeds, he will dedicate the record to Prime Minister Modi, who was instrumental in the UN’s decision to declare June 21 as the International Yoga Day.

The yoga instructor did multiple twists and turns at his Tsim Sha Tsui studio, Prana Yogam, which was open to public for the duration of the challenge.

Yogaraj started practicing the discipline at the age of five and began teaching when he was 12.

Two Indians win Grammy this year

LOS ANGELES, Feb 9: India-based Ricky Kej’s collaborated album Winds Of Samsara won the Best New Age Album trophy at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards here.

Ricky teamed up with South African musician Wouter Kellerman for the album, which symbolises peace and harmony.

The website of the album describes the project as a “truly global effort”, which draws inspiration from two cultures. The music of the album blends in the creative influences of the cultures to generate a sound of calmness and positivity.

Other albums nominated in the category were Bhakti by Paul Avgerinos, Ritual by Peter Kater and R. Carlos Nakai, Symphony Live In Istanbul by Kitaro and In Love And Longing by Silvia Nakkach and David Darling.

Another Indian artist to make it big at the awards this year was Neela Vaswani. She won the trophy in the Best Children’s Album category for I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education And Changed The World (Malala Yousafzai). Vaswani narrated the audio version of the book.

However, sitarist and daughter of the late sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, Anoushka, who was nominated for her album Traces of You in the Best World Music Album category lost out to Angelique Kidjo’s album Eve.

Presidential Award to Dr Sudesh Kumar Sheoran, 39 other Officers of the Customs & Central Excise and Directorate of Enforcement

Sudesh kumar SheoranNEW DELHI: Dr Sudesh Kumar Sheoran is among the 40 officers of the Customs & Central Excise Department have been selected for grant of Presidential Award of Appreciation Certificate for ‘exceptionally meritorious service rendered at the risk of life’ and for Presidential Award of Appreciation Certificate for ‘specially distinguished record of service’ on their achieving and maintaining excellence in the discharge of their duties.

These awards are announced every year on the eve of Republic Day.

Dr Sudesh Kumar Sheoran, IRS( C&CE), is working as Deputy Director in the Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence, Delhi.

Dr Sudesh Kumar Sheoran had joined the revenue department in the year 1999 and has been awarded for his consistently excellent performance in his work. He is a highly qualified officer academically. He is a double Gold Medallist Veterinary Science graduate from the Veterinary College, Hisar, Haryana in the Year 1994 and was adjudged Best Student of Veterinary College, Hisar. He has done his Masters in the
Year 1996 with prestigious Junior Research Fellowship granted by IARI.

He has also served as Veterinary Surgeon in the Govt. of Rajasthan before joining the revenue services. While remaining in service, he has done LLB from Delhi University in the year 2014.

These officers have been selected on the basis of their exemplary and flawless performance in their respective field of services over the years. The awardees selected this year include the officers working as Commissioners/ Directors/ Additional Commissioners/ Additional Directors, Deputy Directors, Superintendents/ Slos, Assistant, Chief Accounts Officer, Sr. Private Secretary, Inspector, Driver who have been consistently committed to the department in various fields.

The aforesaid officer’s performance in various fields includes the prevention of smuggling of contrabands and Narcotics Drugs, detection of tax evasion and trade based money laundering, detection of foreign exchange violations by booking/ arresting the offenders and seizing the smuggled goods, upgradation of anti-smuggling equipments and streamlining enforcement procedures etc in the department.

Besides, many awardees have shown their brilliance and given commendable performance in other fields as varied as revenue mobilization, development of software for automation at Customs, Central Excise and Service tax formations, reducing litigations, international Conventions and Protocol relating to Trade Facilitation and enforcement, dispute resolution, effective defence of cases in the Tribunals and High Courts, preparing informative web sites for revenue officers as well as deft handling of administrative work.

The list of officers, along with their designation and their present place of posting, who have been selected for grant of the Presidential Award of Appreciation Certificate for ‘Specially distinguished record of service’, on the occasion of Republic Day, 2015 is given below:


1.Dr. Awdhesh Kumar Singh, Commissioner, Large Tax Payers Unit, Chennai.
2.Shri Alok Chopra, Commissioner, Central Excise, Thane-II.


3.Shri Rajesh Nandan Srivastava, Director, Narcotics Control, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, North Block, New Delhi.
4.Shri Dheeraj Rastogi, Additional Commissioner, Service Tax Audit, Commissionerate, Delhi.
5.Shri Shafat Ahmad Usmani, Additional Director, DRI Hyderabad Zonal Unit, Hyderabad.
6.Shri Chalamalla Venkat Reddy, Additional Director of Systems, Directorate General of Systems, Chennai.
7.Smt. Sudha Koka, Additional Commissioner, Service Tax, Audit, Commissionerate, Bangalore.
8.Shri Shailesh Kumar, Additional Director, DRI (Hqrs), New Delhi.
9.Shri Pankaj Kumar Singh, Additional Commissioner, First Secretary (Economic), Embassy of India, Kathmandu, Nepal.
10.Shri Giridhar Gopalkrishna Pai, Director, Tax Research Unit, CBEC, North Block, New Delhi.
11.Shri V. Nagendra Rao, Joint Commissioner, Commissionerate of Customs (Chennai-11),
12.Shri Ravindra Singh Bhati, Deputy Director, DRI, Mumbai Zonal Unit, Nhava Sheva
Regional Unit, Mumbai.
13.Dr. Sudesh Kumar Sheoran, Deputy Director, DGCE1 (Hqrs), New Delhi.
14.Shri Jitendra Pal Singh, Assistant Director, Directorate of Enforcement (Hqrs), New Delhi.
15.Shri Leo John Ilango, Assistant Commissioner, Directorate General of Vigilance, SZU, Chennai.
16.Shri Rajendrakumar Shantilal Raithatha, Assistant Commissioner, Commissionerate of Cennal Excise and Customs, Rajkot, Ahmedabad Zone.
17.Shri Manoj Kumar, Assistant Director, Directorate of Enforcement, Eastern Region, Kolkata.


18.Shri Dipankar Baneijee, Superintendent, CenDal Bureau of Narcotics, Kolkata.
19.Shri Shrikant Patankar, Senior fntelligence Officer, DGCEI, Regional Unit, Indore.
20.Shri A. Jagannadha Prasad, Superintendent, Central Excise & Customs (Anti-Evasion), Tirupati Commissionerate,Tirupati.
21.Shri Rajesh Sharma, Superintendent, Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Delhi.
22.Shri Rajendra Singh L Pathak, Superintendent, Commissionerate of Central Excise & Customs (Ahmadabad-I), Ahmedabad.
23.Shri R. Ravichandran, Senior Intelligence Officer, DGCEI (Hqrs), New Delhi.
24.Shri Prcm Chand Jain, Senior Intelligence Officer, DGCEI, Zonal Unit, Ahmedabad.
25.Shri Suman Kumar Gangopadhyay, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI, Kolkata Zonal Unit, Kolkata.
26.Shri Krishnakumar B. Menon, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI, Mumbai Zonal Unit, Mumbai.
27.Shri Gavin Jude D’Mello, Superintendent, Division-Ill, Commissionerate of Service Tax, (Mumbai-I), Mumbai.
28.Shri Mahesh Chowdhary, Senior Intelligence Officer, DGCEI, Zonal Unit, Ahmedabad.
29.Shri Vitobh Shetty, Senior Intelligence Officer, DGCEI, Regional Unit, Goa.
30.Shri Sunil Joshi, Senior Intelligence Officer, DGCEI (Hqrs), New Delhi.
31.Shri B. Shridhar, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI, Bangalore Zonal Unit, Bangalore.
32.Shri Nagendra Kumar Jha, Superintendent (Anti-Evasion), Service Tax Commissionerate, Delhi-11.
33.Shri N.S. Dev, Superintendent, Commissionerate of Customs, Cochin.
34.Shri Sunil Shankar Yadav, Superintendent, Service Tax Cell, Satara Division, Kolhapur Commissionerate, Kolhapur.
35.Shri Sandeep Thapliyal, Superintendent, Commissionerate of Central Excise & Customs, Meerut.
36.Shri Shailendra Rammanohar Singh, Senior Intelligence Officer, DRI, Mumbai Zonal Unit, Mumbai.
37.Shri Rideep Hazarika, Inspector, Tax Recovery Cell, Customs Division, Customs (Prey.) Commissionerate, Guwahati.


38.Shri Kotekar Sheik Abdul Kareem, Assistant Chief Accounts Officer, Commissionerate of Customs, Mangalore.
39.Smt. K. Savithri, Senior Private Secretary to Chief Commissioner of Central Excise, Chennai Zone.


40.Shri Jagbir Singh Pundir, Driver GR-I, DRI (Hqrs.), New Delhi.

Worldwide Celebration of French Cuisine on March 19

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Jan 23: On 21 January 2015, Mr. Laurent Fabius, French Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, along with world-renowned 3-Michelin-starred Chef Alain Ducasse, officially launched the “Goût de France/Good France” project. This special initiative aims to celebrate French gastronomy worldwide, with 1300 chefs serving a “French-style dinner” on March 19 on all five continents.

A committee of international chefs, led by Alain Ducasse, selected and unveiled the final list of restaurants participating in Goût de France/Good France”. They scrutinised proposals submitted by restaurants all over the world, which prepared a menu representative of French gastronomy:

• A French traditional aperitif (Champagne and gougeres -stuffed or not- or Iced cognac and foie gras)
• A cold appetizer and a hot appetizer
• A fish or shell-fish course and one meat or poultry course
• Vegetables to represent the values of healthy eating and environmental responsibility
• One or a selection of French cheeses
• One chocolate dessert
• French wines and one French liqueur

Among the finalists, 48 restaurants are located in India. With this massive participation, India ranks 4th in the world, after Italy (96), Japan (61) and Brazil (55), just ahead of the United States (46). It highlights the importance attached to gastronomy in India, as well as in France, gastronomy being part of both countries’ identity.

In 1912, Auguste Escoffier started the “Epicurean Diners”- one day, one menu, served in cities around the world. In 2015, “Goût de France/Good France” takes the idea further, bringing all categories of restaurants together, worldwide.

This event will mark the first concrete demonstration of French cuisine being listed in UNESCO’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” category, and will highlight its influence on the world. Further, each participating restaurant is committed to donating 5% of the profits to a local NGO working in the health and environment sectors.

Canara Bank honours brave hearts

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Jan 20: Canara Bank organized a special felicitation function to honour 24 brave children of the Country. These children have been chosen for National Bravery Award 2014 on the occasion of Republic day. These Brave children are scheduled to receive this prestigious award from President of India and they will participate in Republic Day Parade on January 26.

Canara Bank has its tradition to honor these children prior to Republic Day Parade every year.

This year also Canara Bank organized the mega award function here to honour these brave children present in the National Capital from every corner of the Country.

While addressing, the Bravery hearts Canara Bank General Manager Hemant Kumar Tamta said that these children are the future of the country and Canara Bank will remain with them through out their life.

Tamta offered all possible support and guidance from Canara Bank for any future need like Educational Loan and career counseling etc.

Speaking on the occasion, Rajinder Kumar Goel, Director, Canara Bank, stressed on the need of proactive approach by Banking Sector in the field of providing every financial support for higher education.

Mrs Geeta Sidharth, Chairperson, Indian Council for Child Welfare, appreciated the efforts of Canara Bank for its involvement in child education and assured the support from the Government in this regard.

Culture Secretary Ravinder Singh, French Ambassador François Richier inaugurate World War 1 memorabilia exhibition

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Jan 12:

Union Culture Secretary Ravinder Singh and French Ambassador François Richier inaugurated here on Monday an exhibition of compelling photographs and rare memorabilia commemorating 100 years of the Great War of 1914-1918.

Present on the occasion was war veteran and Param Vir Chakra awardee Subedar Yogender Singh Yadav of the 18th Grenadiers Regiment.

The exhibition titled “India and the First World War” has been organized by the Institut français en Inde in association with Roli Books and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts at the Twin Art Gallery of the IGNCA.

It may be recalled that when the Great War came to a head, 7 lakh Indian soldiers, encouraged to enlist by their national leaders, crossed the oceans for the first time to fight an indecipherable war against an unknown enemy. They were ill-prepared for the European winters and the dusty Mesopotamian summers.

Adapting to warfare tactics that used extensive bunkers and weapons that were hitherto unheard of proved to be a challenge. Issues of racism and language followed the Indian soldiers wherever they were deployed. And yet, they fought bravely for the prestige of their regiments and for their own izzat. They proved to the world that they were brave, loyal, and capable soldiers, till date, the Indian troops are spoken of reverently in the villages across the Western Front.

And yet, history books find little mention of this aspect of the War. The Indian contributions, over £100 million and more than 70,000 dead, lie largely forgotten.

The exhibition brings to fore the bravery, and sacrifice of these brave men.

Among the items on display are uniforms, ceremonial waistcoats, flasks, map cases, knives and khukris, cigarette packs, utensils, biscuit and cardboard boxes, first-aid kits, gauze, bandage and badges to name a few items used by the soldiers 100 years ago.

"With this exhibition we look forward to make the Indian citizens aware of the brave hearts that fought in the War and the reason which drove them to fight the war. We would want to take this exhibition throughout the world especially to France," said Ravinder Singh.

Ambassador François Richier said"we wish to take the exhibition to France because we still celebrate the end of the War every year with special commemoration of the Indian troops. We are also planning to hold high profile events for this purpose."

The images for the exhibition have been sourced from all over the world primarily from Imperial War Museum, British Library, London, French Military Archives, Flanders Museum, Belgium and many other private collections internationally.

Besides, there is also a section featuring sound recordings and silent movies of the Indian soldiers made between 1914 and 1918.

A book, "India and the First World War housing the pictures and other details of the soldiers was also presented to the Secretary and the French Ambassador and other guests by Pramod Kapoor, founder of Roli Books.

The book was a product of the research conducted by Roli Books with the help of various people including Param Vir Chakra awardee Subedar Yogender Singh Yadav of the 18th Grenadiers Regiment.

"The book took almost three years to be published and has rare pictures. While some pictures were perfect even after 100 years, some had to be modified for the exhibition and for publishing in the book," Kapoor said.

The exhibition is on view till February 10.

Georges Gasté works are timeless: Ambassador François Richier

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Dec 11:

When you look at the works of French Orientalist Georges Gasté hundred years later, one is reminded of the adage “Art is timeless”.

French Ambassador François Richier inaugurated here on Thursday a photo exhibition on “Georges Gaste in India: 1905-1910”. Georges Gasté exhibition pays tribute to the people and the magic of India at the turn of the twentieth century.

It has been organized by the Embassy of France in India, Institut Français en Inde and Alliance Française de Delhi at the Galerie Romain Rolland.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador François Richier said the photographs, though taken one hundred years ago, are amazingly modern as Gasté stuck to the reality than getting influenced with the fantasies of a few Europeans of that era.

Ambassador Richier said “we can say that Gasté was ahead of his time and had a reporter’s eye. The pictures are also real works of art, thanks to Gasté’s artistic sensibility, his great sense of composition and unique mastery of light.”

Beisdes Delhi, the Ambassador said the exhibition will be held in Chandigarh, Bhopal, Kolkata, Trivandrum, Goa, Chennai and Bangalore. The photo exhibition gives a new lease of life to the forgotten realms of India’s ancient history depicted through the lens of a French man.

Trained from the highly selective Ecole des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris, Gasté was a noteworthy painter of his time. Reputed among the French Orientalist movement, which focused on foreign - especially Nothern African and Middle-Eastern- cultures, he received multiple awards at the Orientalist Salon in his lifetime. His most famous canvas, The Brahmins’ Bath, is conserved at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Gasté, who was born in Paris in 1869, made a trip to Northern India in 1905 and he settled down in Madurai in 1908 where he breathed until his last in 1910.

In addition to the remarkable composition and lighting effects, his work presents an ethnographic interest: due to the proximity between the painter and local populations, those photos narrate the everyday life in Agra, Benares, Delhi and Madurai at the turning point between two centuries.

The curator of the exhibition and French expert of Georges Gasté, Ms Aude de Tocqueville, said this exhibition has made her dream come true. It really makes sense, given Gasté’s deep passion for India and the interest of these pictures for Indian people.

She said when she began her Gasté adventure and decided to follow his tracks to write the biography of this painter, she had no idea that should uncover a treasure: two small wooden boxes, hidden in an attic, which had not been touched for one hundred years!

“They contained 250 photos on glass plates, taken by Gasté in Algeria and India between 1894 and 1910. What a surprise! I discovered than that Gasté was also a magnificent photographer. Each was more beautiful than the last and each one told a beautiful story that reflected the sensitivity of a passionate loner who had great love from the local people in whose midst he lived; unlike by the way, most of the Orientalist painters of that time like Ingres and Delacroix.”

Highly cultivated, very good writer, with the great sense of humour of a lucid man, Aude de Tocqueville said Gasté was a free spirit. He did not care about the artistic trend of his time and followed his own nomadic path.

She said one sentence, found in his correspondence, perfectly summarized the man and his work: “Painting should reveal characters, passions and feelings, rather than the picturesque, quite useless when compared to what speaks to the soul.”

A striking photograph on display was a little girl standing against the breathtaking backdrop of the Taj Mahal along the Yamuna riverside. It is titled “Sita’s Terrace”.

Other striking beautiful pictures which Indians can relate to were ancient Mosque of Jama Masjid and Qutub Minar in circa 1900.

After the exhibition “Georges Gasté: Shadow & Light of the East”, which was showcased in 2013 at the Musée du Montparnasse in Paris, to much acclaim, Ms. Aude de Tocqueville selected 34 photographic works taken by the painter in India in his time of leisure. The curator has designed exhibitions on a similar model in the various countries where the artist lived, notably in Algeria, Egypt and now for the first time in the Indian sub-continent.

In March-April 2014, selections of eight of his pictures were displayed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the frame of Fete de la Photo – a pan-India outdoor photo festival organized at the initiative of Institut Français en Inde in March-April 2014.

Vir Das Rocks at Kingdom of Dreams

Report and Pix By Noyanika Arora

Vir DasGURGAON, Dec 27:

Popular Bollywood actor and stand-up comedian Vir Das brought the house down with his adult humour and gags at one night stand up comedy show at Kingdom of Dreams.

Vir Das spared no one -- be it Manmohan Singh, Mamta Banerjee, Mayawati, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Kejriwal or Narendra Modi -- and evoked laughter and applause through the evening.

The 35-year-old also did not spare the "special" aam admi, the Gurgaon wallas, the three "virgin" school boys who had come to watch is naughty humour along with their parents or the couples who claimed to be "single or brother and sister".

A versatile artist who is known for his comic timings, Das also cracked jokes on Bollywood, Sports and Hollywood.

Vir Das was amazing with his rousing performance and the art of speaking directly to the audience and involving them in the jokes that he poked at all and sundry.

His rib-tickling adult humour left the audience delighted and asking for more!

The Delhi Belly actor said it was great feeling performing in Gurgaon and even the audience reciprocated well to my style of humor.

It was Das' first show in Gurgaon and at Kingdom of Dreams, which is India’s dream destination. Das, who has written over 100 plays and comedy shows till now and has travelled world over, expressed his happiness at the reciprocating audience of the millenium city.

Das, who has acted in several Bollywood films, feels happy that his five new movies were releasing in 2015.

The humorist has also announced the second edition of India's largest comedy festival known as Weirdass Pajama Festival.

The evening commenced with a delightful performance of some popular Bollywood numbers by the ‘Band of the Year’ Zephyr. The six piece band belted lilting melodies of yesteryear classics mixed with current popular Bollywood ditties.

The music set the tone and tenor for Vir Das to come on stage and sweep the audience off its feet with his adult jokes and satire.

The hilarity of the evening gave way to a fun filled and exciting after party at ShowShaa, at Kingdom of Dreams. The DJ spun hypnotic music that had the guests dancing in abandon. The evening tryst with Vir Das that culminated in a rocking party at ShowShaa was a fitting finale to end the year 2014 at the most iconic venue in the country Kingdom of Dreams.

The show was held inside Nautanki Mahal, India’s one and only world class auditorium that hosts the world’s biggest and longest running Bollywood musicals on stage, Zangoora and Jhumroo. The event was brought to Kingdom of Dreams by Xccetra Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

Indians Likely to Witness 2 Celestial Events in 2015

INDORE, Dec 31: The world is expected to witness four celestial events in 2015, out of which, two are likely to be watched by stargazers in some parts of India.

According to calculations, these rare celestial events would begin from March 20 with a total solar eclipse. However, it will not be visible in India, Ujjain's Jiwaji Observatory's Superintendent Rajendra Prakash Gupta told PTI in Indore today.

On April 4, 2015, a total lunar eclipse with the sun, earth and moon playing hide and seek would occur, which would be visible in some parts of India.

The more than two centuries old observatory's head said that on September 13, a partial solar eclipse would be visible. It would be the second solar eclipse of 2015, but it would not be visible in India.

On September 28, a total lunar eclipse would occur which would also be the last eclipse in 2015. It is expected to be visible in Western Gujarat and some parts of Rajasthan.

In 2014, two total lunar eclipses, a solar eclipse and a partial solar eclipse were visible in the country.

Vir Das to perform at Kingdom of Dreams

By Noyanika Arora

Vir DasGURGAON, Dec 22: Kingdom of Dreams, Gurgaon’s iconic live entertainment destination will host One Night Stand a ‘serious’ adult comedy show with ace comedian Vir Das on December 27 at the Nautanki Mahal. The winter night at the spectacular venue will come alive with witticisms and adult humour by famous humourist Vir Das who has been hailed by the audience and the media as ‘India’s Only true comic’!

The acts that promise to bring the house down will be peppered with performances by Delhi based Bollywood Rock called Zephyr. These 120 minutes of absolute laugh riot is the first ticketed show by Vir Das this season, after his shows History of India and Battle of Sexes have run to packed houses across India and Abroad.

One Night Stand is brought to Kingdom of Dreams by Xccetra who have hosted the biggest summer EDM festival in Pune in association with Phoenix Market City & VH1. Vir Das returns with them to the capital after a series of hit stand up shows across India and Abroad, With a resurrection of Stand-up comedy in Gurgaon over the past year, hosting India's leading stand-up comedian Vir Das at the most iconic venue in the country, Kingdom of Dreams, will be a fitting finale to end the year 2014.

The show at Nautanki Mahal will be followed by an after party at ShowShaa the multipurpose venue at Kingdom of Dreams. The party at ShowShaa will rock with the well known DJ AERREO who has played multiple shows on friday nights at the club - Ministry of Sound and who is sure to keep the guests dancing till the wee hours of the morning.

The tickets for One Night Stand are priced at Balcony: Bronze – Rs. 1500 and Silver – Rs. 2000. Lower Deck: Gold – Rs. 3000; Platinum – Rs. 4000 and Diamond – Rs. 5000. The tickets are available at

For the party at ShowShaa, Gold, Platinum, Diamond tickets guests can enter inside Showshaa for after party. Silver and bronze ticket guests can pay Rs. 500 per person for After Party at ShowShaa. A Walk in guest has to pay Rs. 1000 per person for After Party.

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.



BITS-Pilani Hyderabad, National University of Juridical Sciences declared winners of the Great Debate

25 Envoys honored with Lions International Life Time Achievement Awards
More Indians opting for higher education in US

5 Indian University Teams Accept Lockheed Martin Challenge to Design 130J Cargo Aircraft



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