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Global Himalayan Expedition from India among 2020 Climate Action Award winners

By Deepak Aora

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 28: In a year that has cast darkness upon many, the 2020 UN Global Climate Action awards, announced on Tuesday, shone a light on the positive action that many across the globe are taking, to combat climate change. Global Himalayan Expedition from India is a among the winners.

While COVID-19 is the world’s most clear and present danger, climate change is a menace that threatens all future generations, according to the head of the UN climate change convention.

“The last eight months have been a nightmare for many throughout the world”, said UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, pointing out that the pandemic has “altered lives, economies and the nature of business on every continent--from the largest cities to the smallest villages”.

And while it is “the most urgent threat facing humanity today”, she quickly added, “we cannot forget that climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity over the long term.”

The UNFCCC chief attested that the convergence of these two crises has “opened a window of opportunity to build forward – to build cities and communities that are safe, healthy, green and sustainable”.

“Nothing exemplifies this better than the efforts of our 2020 award-winning activities to address climate change”, she upheld.

This year’s award-winning projects demonstrate leadership on climate change by nations, businesses, investors, cities, regions and civil society as a whole.

They range from the Caribbean's only carbon-neutral hotel, to the world's inaugural green bonds platform and the first all-women solar team in Lebanon.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres congratulated the winners, saying that they “provide tangible proof that climate action is under way around the world”.

“It is exciting to see these climate solutions, which reinforce my call for decisive leadership on climate change by Governments, businesses and cities, and for a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”, stated the UN chief. “Let us keep pressing ahead to build a more sustainable and equitable future for all".

As Governments work toward implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the awards are part of a wider effort to mobilize climate action and ambition.

They also set the stage for two upcoming climate change events. The Race To Zero Dialogues, from 9 to19 November, will serve as critical input to the UNFCC Climate Dialogues to advance work governing the rules of the Paros Agreement, which runs from 23 November to 4 December.

The UN Global Climate Action Awards are spearheaded by the Momentum for Change initiative at UN Climate Change and each project presents an innovative solution that both addresses climate change and helps drive progress on other SDGs.

“It is crucial we celebrate all actors who are leading the way,” said Gabrielle Ginér, Chair of the Advisory Panel.

“The recipients of the UN Global Climate Action Awards send a strong political signal to all nations – and through their leadership and creativity, we see essential change”.

Vice President Naidu inaugurates Parampara Series to mark UN 75 anniversary

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Oct 27: India’s Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at a virtual event today launched the 24th Parampara Series – the national festival of music and dance - to showcase India’s rich classical dance and music as mediums of cultural communication and spiritual healing.

Speaking at the virtual launch, Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu said, “Music and dance rejuvenate us. They exhilarate and energise us. They help us dispel gloom and despair. They nourish our inner spirit. There could not have been a better time than now for holding this dance and music festival. Through the Parampara Series, we are celebrating the creative genius of India.”

Also present at the launch were Drs Raja Radha Reddy, doyens of Kuchipudi Indian classical dance; Ms Lakshmi Puri, former UN Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women; Ms Renata Dessallien, UN Resident Coordinator India; and Mallikarjuna Rao, Chairman, GMR Group.

The UN is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts. Through the Parampara Series festival, the UN in India and Drs. Raja Radha Reddy and Natya Tarangini aims to spread the message of hope, harmony and solidarity, in line with the objectives of the global UN75 campaign.

“Through this festival we are also celebrating the critical place the arts have in global and national development – music and dance bring people together across languages and borders, they help children learn better, they are the symbols and custodians of the identities of communities. Just as the world needs most to come together in our common fight against this global pandemic and boost the morale of those who are working hard in the face of all this loss and disruption – we need the language of the art,” said UN Resident Coordinator in India Renata Dessallien.

Like the launch, the 23 year old festival continues online this year – with performances available on the UN in India and Raja Radha Reddy YouTube channels every weekend (Fri-Sun) from 30 October, the day India ratified the UN Charter and formally joined the United Nations in 1945, 75 years ago.

“Parampara means succession and lineage in sanskrit the word literally means uninterrupted series of succession. With Parampara Series we want to instill in everyone's hearts - Hope Harmony and Solidarity. Bharath (India) is a land that boasts of one of the finest heritage of dance and music, for which it is known as “PrachiSudha” the nectar of the East. Our dance provides a unified forum for universal enlightenment,” said Drs. Raja Radha Reddy at the virtual launch.

Each episode of the Parampara Series will re-telecast pre-recorded footage from Natya Tarangini’s Archives - performances of some of India’s maestros, including Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute), Vidushi Kishori Amonkar (vocals), Vyjayanthimala Bali (Bharatanatyam danseuse-actor), L Subramaniam (carnatic vocalist-violinist), Vikku Vinayakram (percussionist - ghatam), to name a few. Each episode will also include voices of upcoming artists on the importance of peace, harmony and solidarity, upholding the values enshrined in the UN Charter on its 75th anniversary.

Philately Exhibit Showcasing 7 decades of India-UN Postal History unveiled

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Oct 24: To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan today launched a philately exhibition - India and the UN: A Postal History – which documents the enduring relationship between the world’s largest democracy and the multilateral organization through stamps.

“The UN in India has very admirably documented the fascinating story of India and the United Nations through philately. Collecting postal stamps exchanged is akin to narrating the story of any relationship. I look forward to walking through the milestones of the India-UN journey through this virtual exhibit,” said V Muraleedharan, Minister of State Minister for External Affairs.

The Charter of the United Nations was signed on 26 June 1945, in San Francisco, at the conclusion of the United Nations Conference on International Organization, and came into force on 24 October 1945. This year marks the 75th year of the signing of the Charter. India was one of the founding members of the UN, even before its independence.

Speaking at the virtual commemoration of UN Day, the Minister of State for External Affairs recounted the substantive contributions that India has made to the work of the UN and reaffirmed that “India’s abiding commitment to and untiring efforts for the welfare of the world as a whole, remain unshaken”.

Thanking the government of India for its extraordinary partnership and support, the UN Resident Coordinator in India Renata Dessallien said, “Over the years, India’s commitment to multilateralism has not wavered, spanning a broad spectrum of support – including UN Peacekeeping, climate change, human rights and sustainable development.”

On the eve of UN Day, the External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar launched a special stamp to commemorate 75 years of the United Nations. This, together with 53 other stamps produced by India Post and the UN Postal Administration on UN/India related themes will feature in the virtual exhibit India and the UN: A Postal History.

The exhibit will also have archival photographs, videos and exclusive interviews of eminent Indians associated with issuance of the milestone stamps, including Union Minister and former Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, Ambassador Asoke Mukerji, and former UN Assistant Secretary-General Lakshmi Puri.

34 Bollywood producers ask court to stop 2 TV channels from calling them names

NEW DELHI, Oct 12: A host of leading Bollywood filmmakers on Monday filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against “media trials of Bollywood personalities”, for calling them names and painting the entire “Bollywood as criminals” and sought action against them in the fresh fallout of the Sushant Singh Rajput death case investigation.

Four Bollywood industry associations and 34 leading Bollywood producers sought directions against two TV channels — Republic TV and Times Now — along with their executive editors and other journalists to refrain from making or publishing irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood as a whole and members of the industry.

The plea filed through DSK Legal also sought directions to the various social media platforms to restrain them from publishing the remarks of these journalists which is ultimately leading to media trials of Bollywood personalities and interfering with the right to privacy of persons associated with Bollywood.

The petition said that the plea was filed in wake of the channels using highly derogatory words and expressions for Bollywood such as “dirt”, “filth”, “scum”, “druggies” and expressions such as “it is Bollywood where the dirt needs to be cleaned”, “all the perfumes of Arabia cannot take away the stench and the stink of this filth and scum of the underbelly of Bollywood”, “this is the dirtiest industry in the country”, and “cocaine and LSD drenched Bollywood”.

The name of the production houses are The Film & Television Producers Guild Of India (PGI), The Cine & TV Artistes’ Association (CINTAA), Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC), Screenwriters Association (SWA), Aamir Khan Productions, Ad-Labs Films, Ajay DevgnFflims, Andolan Films, Anil Kapoor Film and Communication Network, Arbaaz Khan Productions, Ashutosh Gowariker Productions, BSK Network and Entertainment, Cape of Good Films, Clean Slate Filmz, Dharma Productions, Emmay Entertainment & Motion Pictures, Excel Entertainment , Filmkraft Productions, Hope Production, Kabir Khan Films, Luv Films, Macguffin Pictures, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, One India Stories, R.S. Entertainment (Ramesh Sippy Entertainment),Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures, Red Chillies Entertainment, Reel Life Productions, Reliance Big Entertainment, Rohit Shetty Picturez, Roy Kapur Films, Salman Khan Films, Sikhya Entertainment, Sohail Khan Productions, Tiger Baby Digital, Vinod Chopra Films, Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures and Yashraj Films.

The plea said Bollywood is a distinct and well recognised class, comprising the Hindi film industry in Mumbai. It said that since several years Bollywood is a huge source of revenue for the public exchequer, earns significant foreign exchange for India by way of revenue from overseas releases of films, tourism etc, and is a big source of employment, with various other industries also being largely dependent on it.

“Bollywood is unique and stands on a different footing from any other industry inasmuch as it is an industry that is dependent almost solely on goodwill, appreciation and acceptance of its audience. The livelihood of persons associated with Bollywood is being severely impacted by the smear campaign being run by the defendants.

“This is in addition to the ongoing pandemic which has resulted in extreme revenues and work opportunity loss. The privacy of the members of Bollywood is being invaded, and their reputations are being irreparably damaged by painting the entire Bollywood as criminals, seeped in drug culture, and making being part of Bollywood as synonymous with criminal acts in the public imagination,” the plea read.

The matter is likely to be heard this week.

World Food Programme Wins Nobel Peace Prize 2020 For Efforts To Combat Hunger

OSLO, Oct 9: The Nobel Peace Prize was Friday awarded to the World Food Programme for feeding millions of people from Yemen to North Korea, with the coronavirus pandemic seen pushing millions more into hunger.

The WFP was honoured for "its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict," Nobel committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said on unveiling the winner in Oslo.

Whether delivering food by helicopter or on the back of an elephant or a camel, the WFP prides itself on being "the leading humanitarian organisation" in a world where, by its own estimates, some 690 million people -- one in 11 -- go to bed on an empty stomach.

"With this year's award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to turn the eyes of the world towards the millions of people who suffer from or face the threat of hunger," Reiss-Andersen said.

Founded in 1961, the UN organisation helped 97 million people last year, distributing 15 billion rations to people in 88 countries last year.

The numbers are dizzying but only a fraction of the total number in need.

Despite making progress over the past three decades, the UN's goal to eradicate hunger by 2030 appears out of reach if current trends continue, according to experts.

Women and children are usually those most at risk.

War can be caused by hunger, but hunger is also a consequence of war, with people living in areas of conflict three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in countries at peace, the WFP says.

"There's no two ways about it -- we can't end hunger unless we put an end to conflict," WFP executive director David Beasley said on September 21.

Yemen, which is living through what the UN has described as the "largest humanitarian crisis in the world", is a stark example of this.

Both the UN and aid agencies have repeatedly raised the alarm over the disastrous consequences of the conflict which has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 2015, when a powerful military coalition led by Saudi Arabia joined the government's fight against Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

The conflict has displaced three million people and pushed the country to the verge of famine.

Two-thirds of Yemen's 30 million people don't know where their next meal will come from, WFP figures show.

The outlook for the world has grown even bleaker this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to earnings losses, made food more expensive and disrupted supply chains.

"The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world," the Nobel committee said.

"In countries such as Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Burkina Faso, the combination of violent conflict and the pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of people living on the brink of starvation," it said.

In April, Beasley raised the alarm, saying: "We could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months."

The global recession caused by the virus risks pushing an additional 83 to 132 million people into hunger, the UN said in a report published in mid-July.

This is the 12th time the Peace Prize has gone to the UN, one of its agencies or personalities -- more than any other laureate.

The virus will also affect the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on December 10 in Oslo, which has been scaled back due to corona restrictions.

The award consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a cheque for 10 million Swedish kronor (950,000 euros, $1.1 million).

Nobel Prize in Literature 2020 awarded to American poet Louise Glück

OSLO, Oct 8: The Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to Louise Glück on Thursday after several years of scandals and controversy for the world’s pre-eminent literary accolade.

Literature Laureate Louise Glück made her debut in 1968 with ‘Firstborn’ and was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature. She has published twelve collections of poetry and some volumes of essays on poetry.

The official Twitter feed of the Nobel Prize wrote: "The 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to the American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal."

Some facts about Louise Glück

In one of Literature Laureate Louise Glück’s most lauded collections, ‘The Wild Iris’ (1992), she describes the miraculous return of life after winter in the poem ‘Snowdrops’.

The American poet Louise Glück – awarded this year’s NobelPrize in Literature – was born 1943 in New York and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Apart from her writing she is a professor of English at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Glück seeks the universal, and in this she takes inspiration from myths and classical motifs, present in most of her works.

The voices of Dido, Persephone and Eurydice – the abandoned, the punished, the betrayed – are masks for a self in transformation, as personal as it is universally valid.

Louise Glück is not only engaged by the errancies and shifting conditions of life, she is also a poet of radical change and rebirth, where the leap forward is made from a deep sense of loss.

In one of her most lauded collections, The Wild Iris (1992), for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, she describes the miraculous return of life after winter in the poem "Snowdrops":

Back in 2018, the award was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy, the secretive body that chooses the winners, and sparked a mass exodus of members.

Established by Alfred Nobel in 1895, the Nobel Peace Prize is one of six awards that also span literature, physics, chemistry, medicine or psychology, and economic sciences.

Rock star Eddie Van Halen dies after long battle with cancer

LOS ANGELES, Oct 6: Eddie Van Halen, of the iconic hard rock group that bore his family name, died on Tuesday following a long battle with cancer, his son announced.

“I can’t believe I’m having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning,” Wolf Van Halen wrote in a message on Twitter with a picture of the rocker who was 65.

“He was the best father I could ever ask for,” he added. “Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.

“My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss. I love you so much, Pop.”

Born in the Netherlands and raised in California, Van Halen founded the rock group with his older brother Alex in the 1970s and quickly earned a fan base.

The group’s classic hits include “Runnin’ with the Devil,” and the guitar solo “Eruption.”

Van Halen has sold more than 75 million albums and has more number one hits on the mainstream US rock chart than any other artist, according to the band’s label.

 



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