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  • 10/25/17--03:36: A vision for future
  • Swiss Re Foundation is partnering with the Embassy Group, Round Table India, Ladies Circle India to develop and nurture government schools in and around Bengaluru.

    Making this partnership groundbreaking, a 'Bhoomi Puja' was held at Government Model Primary Girls' School in Devanahalli.

    This partnership will see a collaboration between Embassy Group, the Swiss Re Foundation and the Bangalore North Round Table Trust (supported by Bangalore North Round Table 25/Bangalore North Ladies Circle 14 and Bangalore Royals Round Table 219/ Bangalore Royals Ladies Circle 136), in the construction and extension of the existing Government Model Primary Girls' School in Devanahalli.

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    The rapid growth of the education sector in recent years and growing proliferation of digital technology have led to an era where e-learning is becoming a norm in almost all institutions. Leveraging technology to the benefit of society is extremely desirable. However, the disruptive influence of e-learning over conventional methods needs to be assessed critically and mid-course corrections need to be applied where necessary to make a robust, well balanced approach. That e-learning is flexible and allows better management of time is well-known. However, this flexibility could easily transform into casualness and trivialise the learning process itself. Constant supervision and motivation will be necessary to ensure that e-learning conforms to a gradual, step-by-step approach.

    One of the major advantages of e-learning platforms is that they allow students to progress based on their intellectual capacities and the levels of comprehension. Fast learners could potentially navigate faster through the curriculum while others may labour over the same. This disparity in comprehension conflicts with the first principle of e-learning which is equitable and uniform delivery of knowledge. Lack of teacher control in predominantly e-learning environments could thus lead to vast disparities in learning and subsequent outcomes in terms of knowledge, output and confidence.

    Digital education promotes universal content and thus aspires to achieve
    uniformity in education. However, is this uniformity desirable beyond a point? Or is tailor-made content based on individual needs and aspirations more desirable? If the aim is to ensure a progressive society at large, we need to ensure wider delivery of knowledge rather than uniformity of content.

    While discussing the disparity in absorption thresholds of the students, one must not forget that in the business of digital learning, teachers are also constant learners and the technological challenges apply equally to them also. Furthermore, while conventional teachers come out of the formal system of teacher training, most content writers of e-learning packages are tech-savvy IT professionals proficient at digital content creation with little or no exposure to the classroom environment. This gets reflected in the content which is rich, packed with information but
    extremely impersonal.

    Another aspect of digital education is accessibility and affordability. The Digital India initiative is still finding inroads into small towns and rural India where the
    majority of India resides. The access to basic infrastructure — buildings, electricity and Internet is still inconsistent. There is a huge deficit in trained and qualified teachers.

    In many areas, primary education is being imparted in regional languages leading to the challenge of creating multiple content platforms. All this requires huge investment and until the public sector creates the basic infrastructure needed for e-learning platforms and makes it affordable, many sections will still be deprived of it.

    Change in mindset
    For e-learning to fully replicate the conventional system, a change in societal mindset is required. The conventional school has a strong institutional connect with the Indian mind. The tradition of guru-shishya is held in high reverence and reaches far beyond mere imparting of knowledge to teaching other social graces and life skills. Homeschooling and distance learning are still considered taboos used to correct educational imbalances rather than mainstream options for education.

    Since e-learning remains a largely isolated and individual activity, there are very few feedback mechanisms available to constantly identify gaps in learning and correct them. This could lead to voids in knowledge or at best, extremely focused. While such a situation is good for higher education and research programmes, the human interface is an absolute imperative in the primary level of education.

    The disruptive influence of e-learning is here to stay. The young learners of today are comfortable with electronic devices and will easily adapt to technology. However, e-learning cannot and must not replicate the conventional means. We must harness technology to deliver knowledge efficiently and expand its reach and penetration to larger society.

    For this, digital education must not remain an elitist enterprise confined to a few private institutions. Its growth must be fully led by government through incentivising e-learning and supporting it through adequate infrastructure and skills.

    (The author is with Made Easy School, Gurugram)

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    I used to joke about how my sister was an electrical and electronics engineer who could never take care of household electricity problems. She would return the compliment by pointing out how I was teaching literature, without having written anything literary. Regardless of our academic performance and career aspirations when we were in school or college, most of us respond to our professions mechanically, with shallow disciplinary knowledge and mediocre mastery over core skills. Our educational system has empowered many of us to convincingly respond to the 'what' of a job, that is knowing what is expected of us. Some of us are trained in the 'how' of a job; we know how to execute our work. Very few of us — perhaps because of, if not in spite of, our education — are capable of reasoning out 'why' we do what we do, and innovate.

    True learning
    Educational institutions in general have failed in making us critically reflective. It might sound trite, but the truth is we get schooled more and educated less. The scientist-cum-educational reformer, Yash Pal, in a report titled 'Learning Without Burden,' offered his bird's-eye view on Indian education, "a lot is taught, but little is learnt or understood." From the year the report was published, in 1994, we have not made a huge change of course.

    The root of this uninspiring and grossly limited learning that we as a nation are facing could be traced to many a flaw in our system. One of the key reasons is the inherent disregard for the learner's aspirations and needs in the learning process. In contrast to such an educational reality of ours, renowned educationist John Holt, in his book The Underachieving School, demonstrates what is ideal, "true learning — learning that is permanent and useful, that leads to intelligent action and further learning — can arise only out of the experience, interests, and concerns of the learner."

    In other words, we need to respect the child's desire to learn without being judgemental or dismissive. When they pose questions, we find it charming for a while and soon become impatient. Our inability to retain a sense of respect to their questions and respond could play up this way: "Dad, why is the rain coming in drops and not like the pouring out of a bucket?" "Well, that's the way it is." "Can I try climbing up the rain drops and go to the sky?" "Hasini, stop being silly! Go do your homework now." Such casual and commonsensical responses are enough to crush the child's budding curiosity. Unfortunately, this is the most prevalent approach in our families and schools.

    There are students who do not know the name of their class teachers and never dared to ask, because questioning — they are unconsciously trained to believe — is an intellectual gauntlet thrown down at the teacher. As a culture, we hastily interpret questioning as arrogance. Most of our families and educational spaces stress a lot on obedience, compliance, reverence, etc. Rather, we need to value curiosity, questioning and an egalitarian outlook towards learning.

    Building an intellectual profile
    Whether the school-going child becomes a Nobel laureate, a social activist or a cog in the wheel of a corporate giant has a lot to do with the experience, skills, knowledge, values, and a worldly outlook she gains in educational spaces. Children spend a lot of their active time in the school and these are hours that are crucial and formative. At least, around 10 to 20 years of their prime growing years are spent in schools and colleges. Knowing this, schools, colleges and universities should put in mechanisms to stimulate the intellectual search.

    Children are born with an innate curiosity. They have a ravenous hunger to know about the environment, people, and phenomena around them. Their questions are an earnest attempt at making sense of the world and a rudimentary step in their path to adulthood. Right from our primary school education, we need to tenderly nurture curiosity. One of the rudimentary steps towards this goal would be to
    cultivate a culture of questioning.

    To build an intellectual profile for our students, we should avoid worrying about whether they ask the right questions, and place our trust in their right to question. It is by having the freedom to ask what might seem to be a silly or an irrelevant question can the students become confident of their intellectual capacity and sustain their interest in learning. It is in a conducive atmosphere for free, open and non-hierarchic intellectual enquiry will a child feel valued.

    Questioning is not an end in itself. It is a search for knowing something. In many contexts, it's an admission of one's limited knowledge, a sort of restlessness in accepting it, and a desperation to step beyond that horizon. In some other contexts, it is a call for honest reflection, about our likes, dislikes, anxieties, fears and even existence. It's an adventure stirred up. It's a free ticket to explore the philosophical facets of our lives, capable of propelling our own subjective trajectories. Questioning requires character. To question stereotypes, wrongdoing, undue exercise of authority, ossified forms of knowledge, etc, one needs a certain degree of knowledge, clarity and boldness. All these are not just ways of exploring and empowering the self, but also our responsibilities in a democratic polity.

    Our culture has had great traditions which deeply valued and proactively put questioning to use. The Charvaka and Buddhist philosophies are fine examples of how scepticism was a definitive practice in ancient intellectual traditions. While Amartya Sen, in his book Argumentative Indian, talks about such ancient traditions of debating almost anything and everything, he has also highlighted how the space for democratic dissent and public debate is shrinking in recent times.

    Questioning is a cultural necessity. Being a modern democracy means the same, in terms of dialogic engagement. We need a vibrant culture of questioning: to resist intellectual genuflection to the powers that be, to exercise a scientific temper as mentioned in our constitution, and of course, to envision a more egalitarian India.

    Inspired exploration
    For all these reasons, the classroom cannot be a space where dynamic debates are largely compromised. As a culture, we need to validate and value questions from our children as a sign of their critical, creative and metacognitive growth. Teachers need to create a space for freewheeling and inspired exploration of knowledge. They need to recalibrate their role from a supplier-of-knowledge to catalysts who fuel individual quest for learning in the student.

    The students need to recast their mind as a reflective processor rather than as a sophisticated cold storage space of knowledge. With open-minded teachers, critical students and learning-centred approaches, the classroom could become a space for lively discussions and might even empower students to discover the joy and purpose of learning early.

    (The author is assistant professor, Christ University, Bengaluru)

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    The evolution of management and its practices witnessed a paradigm shift in the present era, one of the most prominent being a shift from individual perspective to team excellence. Team players are what companies look for and there is no denying the fact that what an individual brings to the table gets doubled, when it comes across through a team effort.

    Performance is judged more explicitly when the criterion is laid down by the team. Especially for entrepreneurship, a team perspective is more successful, despite the romantic notions of the entrepreneur being a lone warrior. An innovative project these days may not be the 'baby' of a single individual but the 'soul child' of a team.

    This sense of team entrepreneurial is imbibed in all but can be culled out through proper guidance — facilitated in the apt supervision of home and college environment. It is here that one acquires the collective rush to achieve and cross the mountains together. Yet, if teachers wonder how colleges and the curriculum can promote team entrepreneurship and guide towards the right path, here are a few veritable ways:

    Focus more on case studies: Case studies are an efficient tool to spur students' curiosity, while putting them on a facing front, to observe real-life business situations and in turn, learn from them. By studying past or present corporate success stories and learning about operational hiccups, students can dig deeper into the mind frame that executives imbibe to make stellar decisions.

    Curricula and real-world challenges: Universities can create a niche in education by linking their curricula to real-life business challenges. While teaching social media marketing, a lecturer can explain how companies like Facebook and Twitter have become the leveraging quotient for many businesses around the world. Simulating a similar environment instils a sense of ownership and a first-hand experience into the thick of things.

    Create opportunities for students: Competition brings out the best in people — it tests people's acumen and helps bring out their best skills. There is nothing more hands-on than letting students participate in some type of entrepreneurship contests. Creating a team to win can help students forge relationships and put their skills to test.

    Partner with businesses: An earlier start in the job sphere stars from apprenticeships and internships. These programmes teach students valuable lessons in life, while channelling in a fun side to the job.

    Entrepreneurship-in-Residence is also an innovative way to foster practical knowledge and allow young professionals to rub elbows with established entrepreneurs. Schools and colleges are picking up such associations to promote their curriculum as well as provide students a microscopic experience at job.

    Including technology topics: Technology has asserted its supremacy everywhere, leaving an impact on today's global economy. Institutions take this leverage point and jump-start their students' careers by incorporating more technology topics in the curriculum. The idea is to teach strategic ways companies and entrepreneurs are using technology to innovate, communicate, advertise, and make money. This would empower students to leverage technology and teamwork to grow and thrive.

    In this current era of cut-throat competition, the importance of building successful teams cannot be ignored within the entrepreneurial journey. Rather than working independently and taking on more tasks than you can do, collaborating with other like-minded individuals can help you in making the journey more successful. This can be imbibed from the curriculum, with judicious guidance from teachers.

    (The author is founder, Big V Telecom, Pune)

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  • 10/25/17--03:57: To flourish professionally
  • All parents want the best for their children. Educating their children to become financially independent is one of their prime concerns. To the extent parents can afford, they send their children to good educational institutions. Indian society gives much importance to education. Hence, most of our students take their education seriously. Everyone hopes that doing well at college or university will lead to a good life. This is true, but only partially.

    In many industry reports, it has been said that nearly one-third of our engineering graduates are not employable. So, can we say that our education will prepare us for life in all the cases? Education definitely increases our academic knowledge and adds to our personality. However, to achieve success and lead a meaningful life, we need to learn many other things. Every student should try to develop a holistic personality to make the best of life and also to face the challenges that may come along. Here are some aspects that students can consider to ensure their overall development:

    Good network of friends: While there is no harm in having friends on various social media platforms, it is also important to have real friends in real life. Such friends matter more as you learn from each other. Look for friends beyond your college and school to develop a wider perspective. In fact, it is important to have a wider view to develop the ability to see the bigger picture. For this, you need to talk to people, listen to their viewpoints and respect the opinions. The revelation that not everyone thinks like you will make you tolerant and open to diversity.

    Keep a balance: When you face the world after college, you will come to know that it is not an ideal place. How you keep away from vices and remain positive has to be decided by you. This is an important life skill that needs to be developed.

    Be strong conceptually: There are some students whose only concern is to score well. They are not concerned about understanding the topics. While this strategy may work in the short run, it may not in the long run. You may feel helpless while writing competitive examinations and when subject-related questions are asked at job interviews. Hence, having a proper understanding of the subjects being taught is essential.

    Discern astutely: Make sure that you keenly observe what is happening around you. Social awareness will help you develop new insights. To be able to judge situations in an astute manner is an important requirement in life, which can come only from observation and analysis.

    Choose the right career: Your career decision will play a crucial role in shaping your life. Hence, it is necessary to arm yourself with the right skills and knowledge. In this light, talking to people who work in the field you are aspiring for will help. It's better to choose something which matches your aptitude. Taking calculated risks and readiness to face challenges should be ingrained in your personality if you wish to move forward.

    Once you are able to work through these, facing the challenges that the real world puts to you will be easy. What's more, you will know how to deal with them through effective solutions.

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  • 10/25/17--04:05: Choose the right course
  • Dear Madam,

    I am a first year BA English student. I am interested in pursuing MA in English abroad. What exams should I prepare for to get into the universities abroad? And what would be the right time for me to start preparing for the exams?

    A Student

    Dear Student,
    I would recommend UK for your Masters in English. The only exam you need to write is your IELTS. This does not require too much preparation. It is a very simple exam that tests your speaking, reading, writing and listening skills. You need to take this test during your final year of BA. Most universities offer MA in English.

    Dear Madam,

    I am currently studying Civil engineering in a college in my hometown. I am not finding myself comfortable here as the education is not good. If I want to pursue my degree abroad, where can I go and what should be the steps to follow? Will I be able to pursue a career in India after doing my higher studies in another country? Please guide.

    Avinash

    Dear Avinash,
    Civil engineers will always be in demand in every country and hence courses in this field and specialisations in related areas are offered in all major universities across the world. If you intend to complete your Bachelors in your hometown and then go abroad for your Masters, keep in mind that the Masters courses in US, Canada, Scotland and Europe are for two years while in UK, New Zealand and Australia it is for one year.

    If you are looking to transferring right now during your Bachelors to a university in a different country, you must be prepared to join as a freshman. You are not going to get too many credits transferred. You can certainly pursue a career in India after you complete your education overseas. For a complete list of courses, entry requirements, application process and tuition fees, please visit www.umaaswani.com.

    Dear Madam,

    I am a second year BCom student. What professional courses can I pursue after BCom other than Chartered Accountancy (CA), Cost and Management Accounting (CMA) and Company Secretary (CS)? Do also let me know the exams needed
    to be taken for admissions in universities abroad.

    Aditya

    Dear Aditya,
    Other than CA, CMA, CS, you could consider CFA, CPA, LLB, MSc in any specialised area such as Finance, Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Business Analytics, Human Resource Management, Marketing, Project Management, Investment and Risk Management, International Business, Business Management and Business Administration.

    The entrance test to pursue Law abroad is LNAT for UK and LSAT for US. Most of the Law courses offered by well-known foreign universities are recognised by the Bar Council of India.

    Dear Madam,

    I am a second year BBA student and I want to do my MBA either in Germany or Australia. Please suggest the exams I need to attempt for this.

    A Student

    Dear Student,
    For an MBA in a reputed Australian or German university, you need to have three years work experience, good GMAT scores, a high GPA, English test scores from either TOEFL, IELTS or PTE.

    If you wish to study in Germany, I would also recommend you learn German language. It will help you in the job market. Even though the entire course would be taught in English, you will be at an advantage at the selection process if you have learnt the language.

    Dear Madam,

    I am studying BE in Automobile engineering and my CGPA is 7.89. Will I get admission in German colleges for Masters?

    Ravi

    Dear Ravi,
    Germany is known for Automobile engineering and admission process to their universities is highly competitive. Take the GRE and TOEFL or IELTS. Enrol at the Goethe Institute for a course in German. Prepare an effective resume highlighting all your awards and achievements in academics, extra-curricular, projects, internships etc.

    Write a well thought out statement of purpose expressing your interest in the subject and more importantly the university. With many universities to choose from, your chances of getting into some of them is pretty strong.

    Dear Madam,

    I am a postgraduate in English literature. PhD is certainly the career move I am considering on a full-time basis. My research proposal has been successful in gaining acceptance from a university in the UK. Please suggest a few sponsorship opportunities that can help me get a scholarship to support my PhD programme.

    Kavya

    Dear Kavya,
    Generally, most PhDs are fully funded by the universities. Try the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation or the Aga Khan Foundation. Many UK universities have a tie-up with external organisations in India and abroad for scholarships. Perhaps you could check on your university website about the various funding options like fellowship and teaching assistantship.

    Dear Madam,

    I have completed my Bachelors in Mechanical engineering this year. I want to do MS in Automobile engineering in Germany. Can you suggest the best universities there and should I go to through an agency for application procedures?

    A Student

    Dear Student,

    University of Bayreuth, Technical University of Munich, Technical University of Berlin, RWTH Aachen University and Esslingen University of Applied Sciences are among the best for Automobile engineering. The application process on the university website is generally very clear and simple. Going with an agent or doing it on your own is a call you have to take. An agent might also help you with the visa process.

    Dear Madam,

    I've completed my first year of MBA and have opted for specialisation in finance and marketing. Afterwards, I plan to study in Canada and work part-time as well. Please advise on an appropriate course.

    A Student

    Dear Student,
    The Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) programme offered by the Conrad Business School in Waterloo is worth considering. It is a one-year course. It is a graduate business degree for entrepreneurs which combines interdisciplinary courses in areas like Marketing, Finance and Accounting, Strategic Management and Business Leadership with practical experiences in commercialisation.

    Alternately, you can pursue a co-op graduate programme in one of the many universities in Canada. As a co-op student, you'll alternate your terms in class with
    paid work terms with employers in your field of study. Co-op programmes are offered in most Business courses.

    Brock University, Simon Fraser University, Carleton University and University
    of Victoria are known for their graduate co-op programmes in Business courses.

    Prof Uma Aswani is an educationist and consultant based in Bengaluru.
    Send in your queries to Education, Deccan Herald 75, MG Road, Bengaluru- 560001 or email us at dheducation@deccanherald.co.in with 'Study Abroad' in the subject line.

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  • 10/25/17--04:14: Bulletin Board- Oct 26
  • Graphic design internship

    Streamlyn is hiring interns for Graphic Design profile in Bengaluru. Students with knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, CorelDRAW and User Interface (UI) Development can apply by November 6. The stipend is Rs 15,000 to 20,000 per month. To apply visit, www.bit.ly/DH-179.

    Environmental engineering

    The University of Strathclyde, UK is inviting applications for the MSc Environmental engineering course that starts in September 2018. For more information, email civeng-pgt@strath.ac.uk.


    Professional courses

    Euro Chroma Institute of Cosmetology announces the admission to Diploma and Certificate courses in professional make-up at their New Delhi campus. The last date to apply is October 30, 2017. For more details, email institute@eurochroma.com.


    University fair

    EducationUSA is conducting an EducationUSA University Fair. Aspiring students wishing to pursue higher studies in the United States can interact with representatives from over 30 universities and know about the various programmes they offer. The fair will be held at Vivanta by Taj, MG Road, Bengaluru on November 5, 2017 between 12.00 pm and 4.30 pm. For more details, call +91 9880041115.

    Blogging contest

    The Faces2Hearts Competition invites people to participate in the worldwide contest to select four bloggers from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin America to travel for five months. The competition is for candidates aged between 21 and 31. To enter, make a one-minute video in English on a story that touched you. The last date to apply is October 31, 2017. For more details, visit www.faces2hearts.eu.

    Culinary courses

    Academy of Pastry Arts with centres in Bengaluru and Delhi, NCR, has announced the commencement of its new courses. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2y1HxwM. For queries, call +91 8095004222 or +91 8095719222.

    Fine Arts courses

    Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), Singapore offers diplomas and degrees in 3D Design, Design and Media, Fashion Studies, Fine Art, Arts Management, Dance, Theatre and Music. For the August 2018 intake, NAFA invites enrolments for the aptitude test to qualify for scholarships upto 50%. It will take place on November 18, 2017 in Bengaluru. To know more, visit www.nafa.edu.sg.

    Digital editing internship

    Statinfer is hiring interns for digital editing and technical writing profile in Bengaluru. Students with proficiency in spoken and written English can apply by November 4. The stipend is Rs 15,000 to 25,000 per month. To apply visit, www.bit.ly/DH-180.

    Scholar awards

    Foundation for Advancement of Education and Research (FAER) invites applications from scholars of engineering colleges for FAER-McAfee Scholar Programme. The objective of the programme is to encourage innovation and creativity amongst students in engineering and polytechnic institutions. The last date to apply is October 30, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2i0y6TI.

    Illustration challenge

    Atelier Orange invites entries from students and illustrators below 27 years of age for Orange Illustration Challenge 2017. The applicants are required to create a single flat illustration design supporting the theme of '24 hours in the life of an Orange customer'. The last date to apply is October 30, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2i0ybXq.

    Innovation awards

    Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) invites applications from young students for Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Scholarship Award 2018. The last date to apply is October 30, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2yNkFk4.

    Scholars programme

    S N Bose Scholars Programme 2018 has been announced by the Science and Engineering Board (SERB), Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum and WINStep Forward.

    The last date to apply is October 31, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2h36fCw.

    PGDM course

    Loyola Institute of Business Administration announces admission to the full-time Postgraduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) programme for the academic year 2018 - 2020.

    The last date to apply for the course is January 31, 2018. For more details, visit
    admissions.liba.edu.

    Essay contest

    National Level Essay Competition, organised by Competition Commission of India, invites students who are pursuing integrated graduation, postgraduation or PhD to write an essay on the topic 'Growth of Digital Economy - A Challenge for Competition Regulators' or 'Eight Years of Competition Law Enforcement in India'. The last date to apply is October 31, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2yJBcDs.

    Poster design competition

    Sir J J Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai has announced Poster Design Competition 2018 on the occasion of the 11th Typography Day. To participate, candidates have to design a poster that expresses beauty, form and function in typography. The last date to apply is October 31, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2yIU0CV.

    SEAT test

    Study Vault Education Pvt Ltd is conducting the Scholarship- cum- Entrance-Aptitude-Test (SEAT). It tests the aptitude, potential and scholastic abilities of a student aspiring for entrance into Engineering and Medical colleges in India and abroad.

    Students from Class 7 to 12 can appear for the SEAT Test. For more details, visit www.studyvault.in.

    Kala Utsav

    Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has announced Kala Utsav 2017 under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, for secondary-level students in order to promote arts in education by nurturing and showcasing their artistic talent. The last date to apply is October 31, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2yK82Wg.

    World Bank internship

    World Bank invites applications for the 2017 internship programme. Candidates have to stay in Washington, DC for at least four weeks. Candidates must be fluent in English and be highly motivated.

    Those studying Economics, Finance, Social Science, Agriculture, Environment and related subjects are encouraged to apply. The last date to apply is October 31, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2y8gnCT.

    Short story contest

    The Commonwealth Writers invites applications for the short story contest 2018.
    Interested candidates have to write a unique short fiction of about 2,000 to
    5,000 words. Candidates from Africa, Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean
    and Pacific can apply.

    The last date to apply is November 1, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2yK1uqG.

    UQ scholarship

    The Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, University of Queensland (UQ) invites applications from high achieving Indian students for India Global Leaders Scholarship 2018. Students will receive a scholarship of upto $10, 000. The last date to apply is October 31, 2017. For more details, visit www.bit.ly/2gE9aos.

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  • 10/26/17--04:05: Resonance of sounds
  • Whitefield Social will present 'Social Fridays' with DJ Nash on October 27, 10 pm onwards at 29, Phoenix Market City, Mahadevpura, Dyavasandra, Phase-II Industrial Area, Krishnarajapuram.

    DJ Nash is a beatsmith with the heart of a producer and a DJ's soul. His unique style is dedicated to the resonance of sounds from UK, which combines what he describes as 'soulful/funky house meeting.
    Entry to the event is free.

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    Have you ever worried about being buried in a rubble of concrete if an earthquake were to hit your community? Well, not anymore!

    Engineers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, have developed a seismic-resistant concrete, which can withstand earthquakes with magnitudes as high as 9.1 on the Richter scale. This is the kind of earthquake that struck Tohoku, Japan, in 2011.

    The material has been named eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite (EDCC) and is so strong that it acts like steel, bending during an earthquake instead of crumbling like concrete. Thus, EDCC is aimed to ensure the potential of more people surviving a devastating earthquake. Further, it is a sustainable product.

    Walls that are sprayed on both sides with this material performed so well in seismic tests that the creators dubbed it the 'Unbreakable Wall'. In the tests, the dial was turned to three times the magnitude of the strongest earthquake ever recorded in order to break a two-metre wall of EDCC. In 'live tests', UBC will spray EDCC onto the walls of an elementary school in Vancouver as part of its seismic retrofit.

    EDCC is meant to be a strong, malleable and ductile material increasing the resistance of a seismically vulnerable structure, similar to steel. The substance can be sprayed, or applied by hand to an already existing wall or surface. This means that no demolishing is needed in the process to make a high-risk building stand a greater chance of surviving an earthquake.




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  • 10/26/17--03:48: Neutral is the way to go
  • Did you know that there's actually a neutral shade of every colour in the rainbow? The neutral palette is absolutely appealing and adds a classy, elegant quality to the design of any space. Where colour lacks, detail thrives. That attention to detail is what designers look for in curating the look and feel that work today or probably has been in vogue since time immemorial, and will also carry on into the future.

    What is a neutral shade?

    In design terms, a neutral shade means a minimal or balancing colour. Shades such as beige, ivory, taupe, black, grey and shades of white give the impression to be without colour, but in many ways, these hues mostly have undertones. These shades are often used as an additional colour that acts as softeners or become the equalising shade when one or more shades of bold hues are used in an environment. Such shades also help achieve contrast and accentuate the brighter colours.

    For example, ivory might have an undertone of yellow or cream. White might be slightly ivory, yellow, bluish or peachy. Neutral colours can be used in design and decor in two primary ways — either as a soft, neutral-only minimal look, or as background colours for bold, sound accents.

    The perfect neutral look

    A neutral colour theme in your home or any other space makes one feel relaxed or settled and puts you at ease. While many imagine neutral colours as plain or flat, there are many ways to create contrast, visual interest and still bring in light, soft colour for a synergetic look. Here are some ideas:

    • When you want a design with neutral shades, use different hues of the same colour. For example, choose shades of wheat or shades of grey for a classy, interesting and sophisticated look. Pick a lighter shade for the walls (vertical plane as darker planes at eye level tend to look small), and compliment with darker upholstery.

    • Choose a carpet or floor covering (horizontal plane) in a colour that complements the flooring but is also just a shade darker than the walls, so the furniture elements stand out.

    • Bind any space together with accentuating elements or decor that include few or all of the shades you have used. This enables all the elements to blend into one another and give a harmonious look.

    • When preferring to use neutral shades for all surfaces, especially where you choose to have an all-neutral look, start the look with neutral walls.

    • Choose the shade centred around what other shades you wish to use, how much natural light the room receives, what kind of artificial or planned lighting is required, the functional context, ambience you wish to create and the preference for lighter or darker shade walls.

    • If you opt for darker shades for walls, the look ceases to diminish volume and make it feel smaller. Hence, it's better to avoid darker shades for walls, or balance with more illumination.

    • If you use grey, you can go either cool or warm with it and can contrast any colour against it. Also, decide whether you prefer a warm or cool shade; the same goes for shades of white. When you choose a shade of beige for the wall or any vertical plane, add volume with a brown or a woody colour furniture with upholstery from the darker shades of the beige family. Try to achieve gradation with your neutral colour family.

    • Pick lighter shades of beige for any horizontal plane: this helps in achieving a look of a bigger area.

    • Use cushions in beige and metallic versions of beige like mild copper to add interest.

    • A neutral shade is the perfect backdrop for all the special details in your space, whether it's an art collection or souvenirs. Accessories and furnishings can speak volumes. A neutral backdrop helps those incidental elements stand out.

    • Station art objects with touches of brown or metallic brown to jazz the space up.


    (The author is architect, N-Hance, Interior Solutions division from Navin's)

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    Rapid urbanisation coupled with an increased white-collar migration to bigger cities has placed the real estate market in the country on the growth trajectory in the last decade. But the soaring cost of construction and the intermittent availability of trained labour has always been a constant problem for its growth.

    Realising the underlying challenges, the Indian real estate and allied industry have made significant transformations when it comes to construction technology and design aspects to weed out the existing anomalies to keep its growth on track.

    Several leading developers have already been implementing state-of-the-art construction technology for their ongoing and upcoming projects for a long time. But on the backdrop of recent policy and structural changes, this has further propelled many players to adopt innovative construction technology.

    Let's look at three construction technologies that will define and shape the real estate sector in the future:

    Technology 2.0

    The use of pre-cast technology for building urban infrastructure and large urban housing projects is common in cities. Today, the technology appears to be used for the construction of apartments in the urban areas too. Especially developers who are focused on the affordable housing segment or have forayed into the sector recently post the sops offered in the budget are adopting the precast technology. Precast technology ensures quality, clean and speedy construction with lower construction costs.

    An affordable housing project involves the construction of over 1,000 to 2,000 standard size apartment units; and in different phases, the construction requirements are different. To avoid skilled labour shortage, time delays with the end goal of delivering a quality product, developers and builders are opting for precast technology currently.

    With affordable housing foreseen as the future of the real estate sector, precast technology will play a pivotal role. The construction is environment-friendly as the units are assembled at the factory, transported to the site, and then finally installed in a short span of time.

    Zero energy homes

    The green technology consists of ever-evolving techniques and innovative methods, using fewer toxic or non-toxic materials to curtail the adverse effects of pollution and preserve the natural environment. The term also describes technology that promotes the generation of energy by sustainable means such as wind turbines, hydroelectric plants, bioreactors, solar panels, etc. In turn, this ensures healthy living conditions for the current generation and a habitable environment for future generations.

    One futuristic trend is zero energy homes. Zero energy homes refer to a method of construction which operates off the electric grid, utilising renewable energy sources to produce energy (for instance, wind collector and solar panel). They are designed to be highly energy-efficient with excellent insulation and are integrated with passive solar building designs. This term refers to the use of specialised materials to construct walls, roofs and windows that can collect, store and distribute solar energy to meet the energy requirements of a modern home. Zero energy homes are expected to become increasingly popular despite high initial costs, as they promote positive environmental impact and mostly pay off in the long run.

    Modelling approach

    The construction industry has long implemented manual processes when it comes to the designing of a structure or making of the miniature model. Blueprints are an architect's best friend; however, they come with a host of unforeseen errors and miscalculations. Converting these blueprints into working models carries with it risks of its own.

    Thanks to digital technology today, we have methods like 3D modelling and printing that help in deriving precision-based models of structure, leading to successful outcomes today. Building information modelling (BIM) is the process used to collect building data which is then converted into a 3D model of the final product. This model features the actual components of the building along with the exact dimensions on a smaller scale. It integrates design and construction to understand how the design will translate into building the structure.

    In the coming times, technologies will continue to play a crucial role in construction landscape as India inches forward to meet its mission of providing homes for all. The Indian real estate sector, along with its 250 odd ancillary industries, is the second largest provider of employment opportunities in India.

    With a likely improvement in the economic conditions and an increase in the number of white-collared jobs, the demand for housing segment will continue to rise.


    (The author is managing director, Puravankara Limited)

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    Renovation is a painstaking task and can be overwhelming for most of us. However, the entire process can be made more exciting by making wise choices. A thorough research and knowing what not to do will save money and time in the long run while making the whole process more enjoyable. One should consider all possible scenarios and be prepared for any unforeseen events. Here are a few tips that might come in handy:

    • Aim high: A heightened home often gives off a luxurious vibe that many people yearn for without burning a hole in their wallet. Fret not, because attaining that look is easier than you think. Other than opting for floor-to-ceiling windows, colours can also be used to create the illusion of having a high ceiling. Use a monochromatic scheme, where the colour palette only uses one colour and the darker and lighter shades of that base hue. With this scheme, use the base shade on the wall, the darker shade closer to the floor, and the lightest tone on the ceiling. This helps to add visual headroom to any space. This can be done with any shade, not just the usual whites and neutrals.

    • Invest in a paint that requires minimum maintenance: Juggling household duties and your job is extremely tough, but while there are currently no wall varnishes that drive pests completely away, you could opt for paints that have an anti-mould formulation or repels tough stains. The paints should include a unique formulation that results in cleaner air, with virtually no smell of paint throughout and after the painting process. These properties will help in creating a spotless environment to ward off those undesirable pests.

    • Take risks: Many homeowners yearn for a cosy setup where they can relax after a long day. Some like it bright and airy (so, opt for lighter palettes like white and cream), whereas others prefer a darker space. If you've got a nagging thought at the back of your mind to opt away from the neutrals, be confident in your choice and take that leap of faith. There is a vast array of palettes available but people continue to doubt their decisions in the fear of getting it all wrong.

    You can complement natural or earthy greens with more spiritual lilacs and purples to produce a rich and verdant collection of shades that will create a warm and calming space in the house. If you've always had an eye for rich colours, go for a touch of texture and penchant for patterns that delivers a unique touch and feel to interior walls. Let your walls stand out with this unique textured fabric effect, perfect to create an ambience of ultimate comfort.

    (The author is general manager, decorative paints, South Asia Cluster, AkzoNobel India)

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  • 10/26/17--03:56: When size doesn't matter...
  • In today's times of severe space crunch, high-density, space-challenged apartment living is here to stay. In many cities, living in small apartments is already a norm as opposed to a standalone exception, which often makes it difficult for city-dwellers to fulfil their creative plans. Thankfully, there is still hope. Just because you're short on space doesn't mean you need to be short on inspiration or ideas!

    Whether you're eyeing a cosy space to unwind after a long day's work, or a sacred corner to delight your friends and colleagues — testing your IQ (and by that, we mean implementation quotient!) can spruce up your hand-woven, love-infused sacred haven.

    Here is an assortment of options to help you make the most of your available balcony space:

    Figure out the purpose

    Are you planning to apportion a private zone where you can plan out your weekly schedule, practise yoga, or have your morning coffee? Or convert it into your personal garden, maybe? Among other things, using your balcony to host pleasant dinners is something that you may want to consider going forward.

    Whatever be your purpose, defining it is the first step towards dressing up a dream balcony that makes you proud. Once you're able to envision its look and feel, you shouldn't have too much trouble deciding your next step.

    Ensure a proper seating setup

    When it comes to optimising your apartment's outdoor space, comfort is the king. And it's a no-brainer that a functional seating arrangement is vital to making your balcony comfortable. If you're experiencing a modicum of discomfort trying to adjust yourself into a seat, something is wrong and it needs to be looked into.

    Since space comes at a premium now, you may want to select your furniture wisely. Some worthwhile options include loveseats, chairs or benches, especially if you want to accommodate them into the corner of your balcony. The great thing about balconies is that they tend to go well with pretty much everything — stools, swings, rocking chairs or even a fainting couch — depending on how much space you can work with.

    That being said, it is best to choose items that are waterproof, sturdy and most importantly, easy to maintain. In case your balcony is really small, try using tables and folding seats.

    For that ideal garden

    Contrary to popular belief, transforming your balcony into a green powerhouse is not only eminently possible but also strongly recommended. The celebrated author of The Balcony Gardener, Isabelle Palmer, says, "Not only is balcony gardening relaxing and often therapeutic (particularly after a gruelling day at work!), it's a wonderful way to enliven your city living space."

    By incorporating the right accessories, your balcony garden can strike the perfect balance between nature, beauty and practicality. From inviting potted plants to space-enhancing vertical planters to hanging planters that can be fitted on balcony railings — the choices are practically limitless.

    In the parlance of balcony gardening, the most important rule is to select the ideal plant for the ideal spot. Pay close attention to how much sun the balcony soaks in, and how frequently or diligently you water your plants. For example, petunias, geraniums and marigold herbs love the sun in its full glory. Other varieties such as hostas, hydrangeas and amethyst flowers prefer filtered sunshine.

    When confronted with small spaces, the key is to mix and match plants with different styles of containers to draw attention to the right spots against the overarching theme of a soothing, green ambience. As an add-on, consider using snapdragons, which are as famous for the lovely fragrance they emit as they as are for their attractive colours.

    Colour codes that matter

    According to Parul Amla, interior designer, Antrik Design Studio, Delhi, "Bold palettes have a penchant for breathing life into the drabbest of rooms. If that is the case, why should a balcony be any different? Bright, vibrant colours can elevate its look from mediocre to spectacular within no time. Ideally, you may want to opt for a colour scheme that is in sync with your apartment's overall design".

    In outdoor spaces such as balconies, it is often a good idea to use lots of light shades such as pink, white and soft blue because they make space feel bigger and airier. Using very dark colours can make an already small space appear even more cramped.

    If you prefer a muted tone, try and be consistent with two neutral colours that can be accentuated via decorative pillows or strategic lighting.

    Light it up

    Talking of lighting, keep in mind that both open and enclosed balconies need adequate lighting fixtures. Thankfully, there are plenty of options that you can explore to make your outdoor space exude panache and serenity. Try hanging sconces or light strings to add spark to your private corner. Cosy lights tend to work like a charm and provide the ideal backdrop for afternoon brunches, romantic dinners or after-work drinks.

    Besides, you always have the option of opening the doors and amplifying your space for bigger home parties.

    Rug it in

    Designing apartment balconies is essentially about harmonising internal and external elements. Incorporating rugs lets you do that with great efficiency. If you want your balcony to exude a homely look, simply cover it with soft, functional rugs. When choosing a rug for an outdoor space, ensure that it is weather-resistant; else, it might lose its imperviousness to water retention.

    Safeguarding privacy

    With shrinking apartment sizes, the concept of privacy is increasingly taking a backseat. With even smaller balconies, privacy has almost become non-existent, which is never a good feeling.

    Luckily, there are aesthetic ways of creating privacy. One viable option is to buy tall plants and line them up (atop pots) on your balcony edges. You could also attach small-sized pots with a trellis to build a 'vertical garden' that blocks out the view from the other side.

    For seriously space-challenged apartments, consider using daybeds or benches and stack pillows on top of them. Then, put them on the side (or the front) of the apartment wall in order to create a subtle division.

    The beauty of apartment balcony decoration is that you can tilt the tide of spacing constraints in your favour. Through creative embellishments that not only enhance its visual charm but also maximise its storage capacity, you will soon find yourself a cosy little home within a home!

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    Even with a firm voice and a bold personality, Purva Mantri puts one at ease. She's also performed with the likes of Vishal and Shekar, Sonu Nigam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Shaan.

    She has also lent her voice for songs in television series like 'Balika Vadhu' and 'Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai'.

    The artiste is excited about her new song 'Uljhi' and a Gujarati cover 'Char Bangdi'. In a candid chat with Anila Kurian, Purva spoke about her hectic yet amazing life.

    How busy is your schedule right now?

    I'm looking forward to my reloaded version of a Punjabi song. It's set to release in the coming week. Two of my songs are also lined up in Bollywood and will release in a month or two. Apart from that, I am also working with other labels and artistes.

    What excites you the most about your work?

    Music is the driving factor and that leads me to meet new people. It is upsetting that some things that I want to do take a backseat because of my schedule but then some other amazing thing comes up.

    Do you get any free time?

    It is hard to find free time, to be honest. I'm always meeting directors, recording in the studio or spending time with interesting people. But whenever I get time, I like to be at home with my mom. We enjoy cooking together.

    You've worked with some well-known names. Who is your favourite?

    I love Vishal and Shekar. They are amazing, both
    on stage and while recording.

    Anyone you want to perform with in the future?

    Usha Uthup is my idol! The way she carries herself on stage and interacts with her fans is amazing. Internationally, it has to be Shakira.

    You've been in the industry for a long time now. What advantage do you have that the other upcoming artistes don't?

    Working with different people has taught me stage techniques — how to use the stage, mic, music etc. I've also learnt how to handle the audience.

    What's the best part about being famous?

    You get a lot of stuff (laughs)! But in all honesty, I love that I am winning smiles and making good music for my fans. I know that I am still in my growing stage and I have a long way to go. But the love that I have been receiving from everyone is the best part.

    How do you remain positive all the time?

    My dad taught me to be positive. Though my mother is a classically trained singer and was well-known in the world of radio, she didn't take up music as a full-time profession. My extended family was concerned when I wanted to pursue music full-time, but it was my dad who encouraged me to take my dreams forward.

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  • 10/26/17--04:03: Boards of a feather
  • Come weekend, a few cafes in the city are buzzing with enthusiasm. Customers, a mixed bag, gather in corners and jog their brains. They are ready to battle it out even as they wait for their order to arrive. The strongest thing on the menu? The board games, of course!

    Board games are seeing a resurgence of late and finding a pride of place in many cafes in the city. So what do they bring to the table?

    Art Blend Café, the art boutique-cum-coffee shop in HSR Layout, is one such place with its own dedicated creative corner, board games being an integral part of it.

    "When I conceptualised it, I wanted customers to have not just food, but spend quality time with their family and friends. So we introduced board games like 'Snakes and Ladders', 'Pictionary', Chess, 'Ludo', Carrom as well as art-based activities here," informs Prateeti Shukla of 'Art Blend Cafe'. It's good to see grownups and kids enjoy board games as they wait for the food to arrive. When were kids, we used to play board games, but not many kids do that now. So when they play here, that rings in nostalgia", she says.

    "Certain companies are also encouraging their employees to play board games now. So we are planning to have dedicated corners for them on Saturdays, from 3 pm to 6 pm," she adds.

    'Dice n Dine' in Koramangala has an envious collection of boardgames. From 'Scrabble' and 'Pictionary' to modern day games... you can even purchase some! Says J Rangarajan, the owner, "The concept came from a close friend of mine. He wanted to start a club where we could rent out these board games. I was into food business. Last year, we renovated this place and changed the whole model. We now have more than 600 games in the restaurant."

    "We have very strategic games to games that can be finished in 15 to 20 minutes." That include 'Monopoly', 'Word on the street', 'Catan', 'Ticket 2 Ride (Continents) Pandemic' etc.

    Even at homes, board games are dusted and given a fresh lease of life. While new board games are making inroads, the classic ones are still a firm favourite.

    Girish Nagpal, an entrepreneur, has been playing Scrabble for more than 10 years now. "I started by playing it online and it became addictive. When I moved to Bengaluru, I joined the 'Bangalore Scrabble Club'. We meet very often and play together on all weekends. We also have a WhatsApp group," he says.

    Often, people play these games online when they are stuck in traffic jams or in the Metro. "But there is a world of difference when you are playing online and on the board. When you are playing online, your opponent would be sitting anywhere in the world and your scoring is done by the computer. But when you are playing on the board, you not only have to play but do scoring on your own. You also have to calculate the opponent's move when you make a move," he says.

    "It not only improves your vocabulary skills but mathematical and logical skills too," he adds.

    These kind of games are no longer a solitary pursuit, but a social pastime too. There are parents encouraging their kids to pick up a board game. Suyash Manchali, all of seven-and-a-half, imbibed his love for Scrabble from his mother Shubha.

    "I've played it all my life," she says.

    "He used to watch me all the time and developed an interest in it. He also used to play with his father on the mobile. But I wanted him to play on the board itself," she says. "When I participated in a Scrabble contest and won a prize, his interest grew manifold. He is now in the 'Bangalore Scrabble Club' and plays there on all weekends. We also play at home late into the night," she says. This interest
    has enriched his vocabulary.

    The renaissance of board games could well mean button-mashing is on its way out! If that is so, the table-top industry has lots to cheer about.

    Throwing the dice, anyone?



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  • 10/26/17--04:07: Kriti all set for 'Yamla...'
  • Shooting with veteran actor Dharmendra for 'Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se' was an exhilarating moment for Kriti Kharbanda. 'Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se' is the third film in the 'Yamla Pagla Deewana' franchise which features 81-year-old Dharmendra along with his sons Sunny and Bobby. Kriti has joined the franchise and has already finished her first shooting schedule.

    She says, "When I did a scene with Dharam sir for the first time, I actually cried! I was very nervous. It was a one-on-one scene where my back was facing the camera. The cinematographer noticed that I was in tears, and since it was an intense scene too, he said 'relax, don't worry'."

    "Someone later told him that Kriti was crying as she was nervous about acting with Dharmendra and he was like, 'Kharbanda, what happened girl?' He calls me 'Kharbanda', he doesn't like calling me Kriti. I find it very sweet, it's the first time someone has done that," she says.

    Working with Dharmendra not only made the 28-year-old actor happy but also made her family proud. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would work with Dharmendra sir. I remember the first selfie I took with him; I posted it on our family WhatsApp group. My father couldn't stop beaming with joy. I could feel it. Every time I see them proud, it makes everything worth it," she says.

    Kriti, who made her Hindi debut with 'Raaz: Reboot' opposite Emraan Hashmi, featured in 'Guest Iin London' this year.

    The actor is currently gearing up for the release of 'Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana', which also stars Rajkummar Rao. "This year has been really good for me. 'Guest Iin London' didn't work but it got me more work, it helped me grow as an actor. One movie should lead to two movies and I am really happy for that," she says.

    "With time, I am getting to work with actors who are known for their work. I am liking that, enjoying every bit and I want to take it all in. Sometimes I can't believe all of this is happening," she says.

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  • 10/26/17--04:10: 'I don't read reviews'
  • Critics may not have been kind to 'Golmaal Again' but director Rohit Shetty is happy that the movie, his costliest so far, is doing well at the box office. The film, which reportedly released in 3,500 screens, opened at over Rs 30 crore.

    The 44-year-old filmmaker says, "'Golmaal...' has got the highest opening and minted the fastest Rs 100 crore of this year. After watching the film, we were sure enough it will work but to what extent we did not know. We did not think we would get such an overwhelming response. But we were sure that family audience will come to see the film."

    The five-day domestic business of the comedy stands at Rs 116.89 crore, since its release on October 20. Shetty says he is never demotivated by reviews as he focusses on the audiences' reaction. "This is my 10th film and it has been 27 years as a director. I know it (negative reviews) happens. (But) I don't read reviews. From the audiences' reaction and box office collections, you come to know how much the film has been loved."

    "Comedy films are often looked down upon and they will never be appreciated, so you can't get depressed about it and take it seriously," he says. In the fourth 'Golmaal' installment, Rohit experimented by clubbing humour with the element of horror.

    "I did not want it to be an all-comedy film. We did not want to make it as any other comedy film. It is my costliest film. We had to take this brand a notch higher. Even with 'Chennai Express', we added dramatic scenes in the second half," he says.

    The film clashed with Aamir Khan's 'Secret Superstar' and Rohit says since the Diwali slot is often seen as a face-off among big releases, it was obvious that the number of screens would be divided. "When two films release together you don't know what will work. Nobody can predict what is going to happen on a Friday."

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  • 10/26/17--04:14: The life of the party
  • "Weekends are what make a busy weekday worthwhile. These off days allow you to unwind and unleash all the stress you've been carrying with you for days.

    That's why I never miss a chance to party with my friends. If I am not busy with a shoot, a house party is a perfect way to start the weekend. My friends are also from the film industry but we all make it a point to meet on our days off.

    We usually hang out at my house and unwind. I have a mini-theatre at home where we watch movies or catch shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar.

    My friends usually stay for the night. If we are up for it, we go for a drive at night and enjoy the roads devoid of traffic.

    If all of us have the entire weekend off, we plan a getaway to Mahabaleshwar or Lonavala. We stay in a cosy little cottage there and just spend time with each other. We return to the city by Sunday evening and get ready for the week ahead. However, there are also days where we just stay back in the city and go clubbing instead. We prefer house parties though; it's peaceful and we get plenty of time to do whatever we want to.

    There are days when my friends aren't free and I spend time at home. But even in between all the lazing, I make sure that I never miss my workouts. I love gymming, doing martial arts and any workout that improves my flexibility. Doing all of that takes a good chunk of my time and I have no regrets about it.

    I also like to spend time at home and watch movies available on different portals.
    Travelling is also an important part of my life. Apart from my weekend getaways, I usually plan a big trip for my birthday, which is in November. I try to pick a place that offers a lot of adventure activities.

    Last year, I went to Bali and tried almost everything there. Unfortunately, I won't be able to plan a trip this year as I will be busy with my upcoming movie.

    Trying out different cuisines is one of my favourite things to do. Thanks to my job, even if we are going to a new place for promotions, I make sure that I try the specialities there.

    I guess that's why I take working out so seriously — exercise so that I can eat more food!

    I have two adorable dogs at home, Muffin the pug and Mojo the French bulldog. They are my stress busters.

    I've realised that I have become a responsible human being after they came into my life. Even for 'Deepavali' now, I don't like bursting crackers as I have seen how much they suffer.

    But since I've been very busy with promotions for the last couple of months, I haven't been able to spend much time with them. They are staying with my family in New Delhi till I am back in Mumbai.

    I visit my family as often as I can. They also come down to Mumbai frequently. I like spending time with my family, especially because I don't get to do it as often as I would
    like and also for the great food.

    My idea of a perfect weekend isn't too elaborate. Chill at home, have some friends over, watch a movie, spend time with my pets and just unwind. I also like to meet some of my music director friends and have a jamming session with
    them.

    To sum it up — good food, music, good company, movies and furry friends, and I have my perfect weekend."

    Actor Himansh Kohli rose to fame with his portrayal of Raghav Oberoi in the daily
    soap opera 'Humse Hai Life'. He later made his Bollywood debut with 'Yaariyan' as
    the male lead. He has also proved his acting prowess in projects like 'Abhi Nahi Toh
    Kabhi Nahi', 'Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai' and 'Sweetiee Weds NRI'. His latest release is
    'Ranchi Diaries' along with Soundarya Sharma, Taaha Shah, Anupam Kher and
    Jimmy Shergill. Himansh is currently working on the Bollywood movie 'Dil Jo Na
    Keh Saka'.

    (As told to Anila Kurian)

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    The multilingual singer who is much loved in the north and the northeast part of India has rendered her voice to popular Bollywood songs like 'Gandi Baat' from the movie 'R... Rajkumar' and 'O Re Kaharo' from the film Begum Jaan.

    Over the years, Kalpana has carved a place for herself in the industry. Her effort to revive, study, archive and reintroduce some extinct and intangible traditional and tribal folk music has been much appreciated among musicians across the globe.

    In a chat with Surupasree Sarmmah, the celebrated singer talks about her musical journey.

    You are synonymous with folk and playback music in North and Northeast India. How does it feel?

    I come from Assam and have worked with the intangible folk elements of the state.

    However, I am popular with the music lovers in the Cow Belt region of India. It is, in fact, a proud feeling. Our country is known for its unity in diversity and I feel accomplished that not just in my own state, people from different culture and states, appreciate my work.

    Tell us about your unusual approach to music -- the cultural and linguistic diversity...

    My father, Bipin Patowary, who is also a folk singer in Assam, has been my greatest inspiration. My training in 'kamrupiya' and 'goalporiya', two popular elements of Assamese folk music started when I was four-years-old by him. I have never differentiated in my approach to music from any region and social hierarchy.

    I have been open to singing in different kinds of songs be it in Bengali, Bhojpuri, Marathi Rajasthani or Tamil. All these different languages, cultures and the music that I was coming across, opened a whole new world for me. Over the years, I started learning not just music specific to a region but also imbibed the culture.

    You have been archiving and documenting a few endangered indigenous Indian language - tell us about it?

    There are many dialects in Assam that are slowly becoming endangered. This is also common in other places, seeing which, I made it a point to work on giving these dialects a new lease of life through music. As of today, I have worked in 30 Indian dialects and languages. My plan is to archive these intangible folks for me and my future generation.

    Who has been your inspiration?

    Bhupen Hazarika and Bhikhari Thakur. Their songs have always managed to reflect and touch upon the wrongs happening in the society.

    How challenging has been your journey been so far?

    There have been a lot of challenges that I have faced all these years. But these challenges have made my journey interesting and worth remembering. Pronunciation of specific words in a language is the biggest problem I have faced but I have always gone back to people who have vast knowledge about that particular language. This makes it easier for me to grasp it better.

    Singers you love listening to...

    Arijit Singh, Bhupen Hazarika and Teejan Bai.


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  • 10/26/17--04:21: Mesmerising Mansarovar
  • Beginning of this year, my friend and I decided to visit Kailash Mansarovar. However, my friend couldn't accompany me at the last moment, so I headed out alone.

    My mother was a little sceptical about me going alone, but my father was quite encouraging.

    Every year at least once, I dedicatedly visit 'Vaishno Devi', so this year too, just before heading to 'Delhi Gujarati Samaj' for the trip I made a visit to this auspicious place.

    For the next four days, before we started off with our trip, we did our medical examination and gathered all the other important information needed for the journey.
    There were also a few groups allocated such as luggage group, cooking team, finance team and the rescue team, which I was a part of.

    We started our journey on the fifth day, early in the morning for Almora and then to Dharchula. After we reached Dharchula, we had to travel by cab till Narayan Ashram and then it was a five km walk to Sirkha.

    The next day's walk was through the jungles till Gala. The journey was not easy hereafter.

    The next day we began out trip to Gunji. In Gunji, we stayed for a day for a health checkup.

    We then proceeded to Navidhang. On the way is Kalapani where the river Kali starts and there is a temple for goddess Kali there.

    Next day, we started our trek around 3 am with everybody carrying a head torch. The climb was steep and we had difficulties in breathing. The oxygen level dips during night. I purchased an oxygen bottle after reaching Taklakot.

    After crossing the border we went through immigration, visa stamping in Taklakot and then reached the hotel around 2 pm (China time). The next day also we rested in Taklakot.

    The following day we took a bus to Darchen. There was a Chinese guide who was able to communicate with us in Hindi. On the way, we stopped at Rakshya Taal and Mansarovar Lake.

    The water in both Rakshya Taal and Mansarovar lake is crystal clear. We saw a lot of birds in Mansarovar Lake. The colour of the water also keeps changing with time in Mansarovar Lake. From Darchen hotel, we could see Mount Kailash and Sapta Rishi mountain.

    The next day, we left for Yam Dwar. The mountains in Tibet are not as steep as those in India.

    As we proceeded, Mount Kailash came closer but we still need to walk 3 km to reach foothills. There is a very good monastery there.

    The next day's journey was from Darchen to Deraphuk and it was the toughest one. Dolma pass is highest peak in the whole journey. There we walked completely on
    snow.

    After crossing Dolma pass we were able to see Gauri Kund. All three days, it was raining in Tibet.

    After doing 'parikrama' there, we came back to Darchen and stayed on the bank of Mansarovar Lake. Mount Kailash was also visible from there. In both the days we took bath in the holy water.

    There is a good monastery there. We also visited the Ram temple. It is a pretty big one and takes more than an hour to roam around.

    While returning, the first day we walked 30 km to reach Gunji. In Navidhang, we saw the Om Parvat. The snow disposition pattern is in the shape of 'Om'.

    It was an awesome feeling. Near to it, one can see Ganesha Parvat and at a distance Seshnaag Parvat. Since it was cloudy, only the 'hood' was visible.

    Once we reached Gunji, we had a fun time at ITBP camp. Since it rained all the time, the water level in Kali river had risen.

    During the return journey also, it was not raining but as it had rained earlier, the path was slippery and dangerous to walk. Near to Dharchula, the road was blocked completely thanks to a rock slide. It was pretty dangerous. We have to cross a big stone and the porters helped us cross it. We understand why this journey is considered as the toughest one.

    From Dharchula we came to Jageshwar by a bus. It is one of the 52 'Shakti Peeths' and one of the 11 'Jyoti Lingas'.

    The next day we started our journey back to Delhi. There were road blocks in few places due to landslide. By the time we reached Delhi it was 8 pm. The most difficult part of the journey was the bus ride through Uttarakhand.

    As far as our food was concerned, we had a lot of soup. It's better to eat only liquid food.

    To prepare for the journey, one should do breathing exercises daily, take water-proof ankle support shoes, a good raincoat and jacket that will keep one warm when the temperature if -5 to -10 degree Celsius.

    I never imagined, I would be able to visit Mount Kailash but I did and I'm happy I came back safely. I was able to make friends with come some interesting people.
    I don't understand this but one of my fellow travellers had told me that how I perceive life will change after this journey.

    I am looking forward to that.

    Bhabani Shankar Agrawala
    (The author can be contacted at 9632617744)


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