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National award winning film ‘I Cannot Give You My Forest’ inspired by the issues of Niyamgiri Adivasis Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl’s film ‘I Cannot Give You My Forest’ is the story of Struggle for the survival of Adivasis in Niyamgiri. The film has won this year’s National award in the category of Best Environmental Film. The main theme of the film is an intimate poetic window into the lives of the Kondh, the original dwellers (Adivasis) of the forests of Niyamgiri in Odisha State. This film is about those peoples relationship with the forest. It highlights environmental issues and focus on struggle of tribals in day-today life. The Kondha are indigenous tribal groups of India. They live in Odisha, a state in eastern India. Their highest concentration is found in the blocks of Rayagada, Kashipur, Kalyansinghpur, Bissam cuttack and Muniguda. The Kondhas are believed to be from the Proto-Australoid ethnic group. Their native language is Kui, a Dravidian language written with the Oriya script. The Kondha are adept land dwellers exhibiting greater adaptability to the forest environment. However, due to development interventions in education, medical facilities, irrigation, plantation and so on, they are forced into the modern way of life in many ways. Their traditional life style, customary traits of economy political organization, norms, values and world view have been drastically changed over a long period. One sub-group of Kondhas is the Dongria Kondhas. They are called Dongria or dweller of donger and settle in higher altitudes due to their economic demands. They have a subsistence economy based on foraging, hunting & gathering but they now primarily depend on a subsistence agriculture i.e. shifting cultivation. The Dongrias commonly practice polygamy. By custom, marriage must cross clan boundaries (a form of incest taboo). The clan or “Puja” is exogamous, which means marriages are made outside the clan (yet still within the greater Dongoria population). The form of acquiring mate is often by capture or force or elopement. However, marriage by negotiation is also practiced. The Dongrias are great admirer of aesthetic romanticism. Their pantheon has both the common Hindu gods and their own. The gods and goddesses are always attributed to various natural phenomena, objects, trees, animals, etc. Vedanta Resources, a UK based mining company, is threatening the future of this tribe as their home the Niyamgiri Hill is rich in bauxite. The bauxite is also the reason there are so many perennial streams. The tribe’s plight is the subject of a Survival International short film narrated by actress Joanna Lumley. In 2010 India’s environment ministry ordered Vedanta Resources to halt a sixfold expansion of an aluminium refinery in Odisha. As part of its Demand Dignity campaign, in 2011 Amnesty International published a report concerning the rights of the Dongria Kondh. Vedanta has appealed against the ministerial decision, but the tribal leaders have promised to continue their struggle whatever the decision in a key hearing before India’s supreme court (in April 2012). In 2013 A three-member bench of the Supreme Court directed the village councils of Rayagada and Kalahandi to take a decision within three months on whether the project can go ahead after considering any claims of cultural, religious, community and individual rights that the forest dwellers of the region may have. The ruling linked the constitutional provision for the protection of Scheduled Tribes as enshrined in Article 224 with protection of religious rights under Articles 25 and 26 and the Forest Rights Act. After years of controversy and confusion, Vedanta’s project to mine bauxite on a forested hill considered sacred by an ancient tribe has been stopped by the Indian government.
Smriti Irani inaugurates GIAN scheme at IIT-Gandhinagar India may not yet have managed to get the Ivy League to set up campus in India through the much-awaited Foreign Universities Bill but is close to drawing in over 200 academics from global varsities to teach in India at $8, 000- $12, 000. The Ivy League is a collegiate athletic conference comprising sports teams from eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group. The eight institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. The term Ivy League has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism. The Smriti Irani-led Union Human Resource Development ministry is learnt to have quietly come to an agreement with academics from across countries to teach more than 200 short term academic courses in Indian institutes starting this November through its new scheme — Global Initiative for Academics Network (GIAN). The first GIAN backed course by a foreign faculty is expected to start with NIT Surathkal this November. Prashant V Kamat, John A. Zahm Professor of Science at the University of Notre Dame in USA, it is learnt, is likely to take the first course to be launched under GIAN at the NIT, officials from the HRD ministry said on condition of anonymity. The Union Cabinet has approved a new program titled Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education aimed at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs, internationally to encourage their engagement with the institutes of Higher Education in India so as to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reform, and elevate India’s scientific and technological capacity to global excellence. A number of academics from Germany, USA, Canada, France and Australia have shown considerable interest in GIAN and academics from across top global varsities including MIT, Oxford University, Cambridge, Stanford University, University of Berkeley, Imperial College of London are queuing up, sources from across institutes said. Spain, Brazil, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Russia, Norway, Singapore and Sweden are among other nations sending in academics to India. The Indian gov government had last year also engaged with Manjul Bhargava, R. Brandon Fradd Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, to help pitch the GIAN scheme as a brand ambassador. MHRD Scheme on International Summer/Winter Term (ISWT) under GIAN: Objective: To arrange Guest Lectures by international renowned experts. (1) Long and Short Term Goals: To increase the footfalls of reputed international faculty in the Indian academic institutes. Provide opportunity to our faculty and students to learn and share knowledge and teaching skills in cutting edge areas. To create avenue for possible collaborative research. To increase participation and presence of international students in the academic Institutes. Opportunity for the students of different Institutes/Universities to interact and learn subjects in niche areas through collaborative learning process. Provide opportunity for the technical persons from Indian Industries to improve understandings and update their knowledge in relevant areas. Motivate the best international experts in the world to work on problems related to India. BUDGET OUTLINE Sl No. Description of budgetary head per Course Amount* (Rs) 1. International and National Expert Air Fare – 2, 00, 000/- 2. Honorarium to International, National and Host faculty – 2, 00, 000/- 3. Travel and Stay Support to some Participants – 75, 000/- 4. Local hospitality to International and National expert – 50, 000/- 5. Lecture Notes/video-learning material preparation – 50, 000/- Incidentally, a few IITs and IIMs had raised concerns about paying this huge a remuneration to the visiting faculty citing insufficiency of funds available with them. Some of the IIMs that do not take any financial support from the Centre had also argued heir inability to do so. The Centre is even pitching in with additional funds where institutes may have cited difficulty in paying the decided remuneration for the visiting faculty. IIT Madras is learnt to be leading the tally so far with over 25 courses expected to be taught by visiting foreign faculty.
Prime Minister to launch Accessible India Campaign for Physically disabled people n important aim of the society is to integrate persons with disabilities in the society so that they can actively participate in society and lead a normal life. Ideally, a disabled person should be able to commute between home, work place and other destinations with independence, convenience and safety. The more persons with disabilities are able to access physical facilities, the more they will be part of the social mainstream. With firm commitment of the government towards socio-economic transformation of the persons with disabilities there is an urgent need to create mass awareness for universal accessibility. DEPwD is also in the process of creating a mobile app, along with a web portal for crowd sourcing the requests regarding inaccessible places. With the app, downloaded on his/her mobile phone, any person would be able to click a photograph or video of an inaccessible public place (like a school, hospital, government office etc.) and upload the same to the Accessible India portal. The portal will process the request for access audit, financial sanction and final retrofitting of the building to make it completely accessible. The mobile app and portal will also seek engagement of big corporates and PSUs to partner in the campaign by offering their help to conduct access audit and for accessibility- conversion of the buildings/transport and websites. India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has formulated the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), as a nation-wide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for PwDs. The campaign targets three separate verticals for achieving universal accessibility namely the built up environment, transportation eco-system and information & communication eco-system. The campaign has ambitious targets with defined timelines and will use IT and social media for spreading awareness about the campaign and seeking commitment / engagement of various stakeholders. The Department has asked various State Govts. to identify about 50 to 100 public buildings in big cities and also identify citizen centric public websites, which if made fully accessible would have the highest impact on the lives of PwDs. Once identified, “Access Audit” of these buildings and websites will be conducted by professional agencies. As per the audit findings, retrofitting and conversion of buildings, transport and websites would be undertaken by various government departments. This will be supported by the Scheme of Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA), an umbrella scheme run by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) for implementing various initiatives for social and economic empowerment of PwDs. Article 9 of UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities. Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 under Section 44, 45 and 46 also categorically provides for non-discrimination in participation, non-discrimination of the roads and built up environment. As per Section 46 of the PwD Act, the States are required to provide for : i) Ramps in public buildings ii) Provision of toilets for wheelchair users iii)Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts iv) Ramps in hospitals, primary health centres and other rehabilitation centres. Article 9 – Accessibility of UNCRPD 1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia: Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces; Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services. 2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to: Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public; Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities; Provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities; Provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms; Provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public; Promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information; Promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet; Promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.