Month: April 2005

See and Smile

See and Smile

It’s not just students who heave a sigh of relief during summertime. As the financial year of most Indian companies ends in March, even business executives and working professionals look forward to a time off from their gruelling work schedules. Most pack their bags and head to a holiday destination. Those who stay back participate in the various activities and events organised in and around the city. One such summertime event that the city residents look forward to is the Art Exhibition organised by AksharRang Kala Academy.

That the art exhibition is hugely popular among art lovers can be gauged from the fact that last year the exhibition had almost 20,000 visitors, not just from Thane and Mumbai but also from Goa, Bangalore and Nagpur. Last year, it was collection of paintings by the Late Deenanath Dalal that pulled the crowd, while the year before it was world-renowned Calligrapher Achyut Palav’s that attracted people. This year, the job’s being done by cartoonist Shivram Phadnis, fondly known as Shi Da. Known for his amazing sense of humour, more than 120 of his original works will be on display for everyone to see and smile.

Phadnis, who work was exhibited for the first time at Jahangir Art Gallery way back in 1965, has regularly contributed to the covers of several Marathi magazines. His illustrations and cartoons are also found in books on various subjects including banking, medicine, mathematics, science, law and even philosophy. Phadnis has received several awards in recognition of his art. In 1954, Phadnis was awarded the "Outstanding Editorial Art Award" by Commercial Artist’s Guild (CAG) Mumbai. University Grants commission (UGC) aired Phadnis’s programmes on national television in 1987. In 2001 he received the Lifetime Achievements Award by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bangalore. The Marmik weekly also honoured him with a Life time Achievement Award. Many of his cartoons have been exhibited and published by the International Salon of Cartoons, Montreal, Canada and also in periodicals of USA and Germany.

Free of comments or political punches, Phadnis’s cartoon’s have a unique style and grace that reflect simplicity. The humour’s gentle, yet effective – it does a job of bringing a smile to your face. And best of all it’s free! Nicknamed "Laughing Gallery", the exhibition is open from April 27 to May 02 at Town hall in Tembhi Naka.

Food for thought
Speaking about summertime events, this one’s sure to whet your appetite. The annual food festival, being organised between May 06 and 08 at Ghantali Maidan, promises to be as enticing as the previous ones. This year’s theme being "Family Nutrition", visitors will be able to learn about nutritional aspects of every family member, from the youngest to the oldest. The event kicks off at 6 pm on May 01 with a session of "dietary tips" for senior citizens of Thane at the Nana-Nani park near Rangayatan. Many such mini-events (curtain-raisers) have been planned across the city.

Indian cuisine is considered by many as the best in the world, both taste- and health-wise. Yet, nutritional requirements differ from person to person, depending on such factors as age, professional, lifestyle, and individual constitution. Especially in the modern-day, fast-food culture, when nutritionally empty foods have become the order of the day, family nutrition is a relevant theme. "The three-day programme, which is free to attend, will offer a wealth of wisdom to its visitors", claims Tushar Pitale, who is organising the event. The event aims to address many nutritional issues via informative sessions by experts. Games, competitions, cookery events, poster exhibition and lucky draws will ensure that the whole family is entertained.

It is said that a family that eats together, stays together. And if the food they eat is nutritious, such families live longer together.

Women on top

Women on top

In economics, growth and development are different processes. While growth is a strictly commercial notion and refers to a quantitative increase in something measurable, development implies something "different" rather than something "more" – it mean an overall improvement in the social structure of the society. For a healthy society, only growth sans development is not desirable.

Thane’s phenomenal growth in the last decade has been accompanied by development. The social composition of our city has been positively transforming, thanks to its people. The latest initiative that signals the "development" of Thane is the creation of the Thane Women’s Guild, an alliance of seven determined women from the city, who have come together to carry out socially relevant activities that are sure to add character to this city’s persona. Meenakshi Datta (President), Rashmi Bhatia, Smriti Gulwady, Chitra Dutta, Official Spokesperson, Shyamashree Bhonsle, Jyoti Lohokare, and Sarmistha Chowdhury have decided to make a difference – with a difference. The guild has a two-pronged objective – "empowerment of women and welfare of children" and "dealing with issues that cut across age groups, genders and sections of the society". The guild started off by felicitating a woman who has four children, one of them being mentally challenged. On woman’s day last month, the guild honoured this courageous woman who, despite all odds, has brought up her four kids with dignity.

On Saturday April 16, 2005, the guild organised a free mini-workshop for the residents on two relevant issues – Income Tax and Creating a Will. The speaker for the first topic was Praful Boladia, a practicing CA and member of several prestigious business associations. Boladia, who regularly contributes papers to conferences and writes articles in newspapers on income tax, enlightened an audience of about 40 men and women. As expected, among the many questions, there were a few that only a woman would ask – for instance, what is the tax liability, if any, on jewellery inherited? The second speaker was Nishikant Kelkar, once again a CA, but now a "Will Consultant". He discussed the importance of creating a will, and taught how a will should be created without leaving any scope of ambiguity. He even busted several myths regarding nomination/inheritance. For example, in the event of the death of the owner of a fixed deposit, the amount does not automatically go to the nominee, but gets distributed among all his heirs unless he/she has stated otherwise in the will. Similarly, husband is not entitled to wife’s Property, unless she makes a will in his favour.

Both speakers were lucid, precise and humorous and fielded all audience questions admirably. The workshop was so informative and helpful that many attendees suggested that more such workshops should be held and on a larger scale. The encouraging response has only fuelled the ambitions of the guild’s members, who are even more determined to take the city to the next level. From doing something for the aged and lonely to addressing the issues of adolescents to bringing English Theatre to the city for the starved residents, the super-seven are all set to play a role in the development of the Thane into a dynamic, multicultural and multifaceted city. These women are proud of being Thaneites and Thane, in turn, is proud of such women.

Why not get an MBA?

Why not get an MBA?

NAINA Lal Kidwai, vice-chairman and managing director of HSBC Securities and Capital Markets India Pvt Ltd and Deputy CEO of HSBC Bank in India, was named one of the 50 most powerful women in the world by ‘Fortune’ magazine in 2003. The only other Indian woman who figures in this elite list is Lalita Gupte, Joint Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, ICICI Ltd. Both these women represent an emerging breed of top women managers in India. And one of the many things that characterises them is their educational background. Both are MBAs. While Kidwai holds the distinction of being the first Indian woman to graduate from Harvard Business School in 1982, Gupte is an alumnus of the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies. But Kidwai and Gupte are just needles in a haystack, because in India, like in the rest of the world, business schools remain largely a male bastion, with the enrolment ratios being heavily skewed against women. However, according to a report in ‘The Economist’, business schools themselves can hardly be blamed for this imbalance. Most schools are actively trying to lure more women through recruitment drives and by offering scholarships. Yet, the reason for the poor ratio of women in business schools is an old problem: The idea that business does not appeal to women as much as to men.
 
Why You Should Get an MBA
Still, research says that women make better managers than men because they are apparently more sensitive to employees and better at keeping others informed, coaching subordinates, multi-tasking and getting results. According to a study conducted by the Hagberg Consulting Group, a US-based management consulting firm, women managers were rated higher than their male counterparts on 37 of 47 critical management qualities such as leadership, social skills, problem-solving and decision-making. With so much going for them, it’s time women began to take business studies more seriously and then, like Kidwai and Gupte have done, tell the world that they mean business.

No Bummer this Summer

No Bummer this Summer

Students await summer vacations eagerly at it marks the end of a gruelling academic year and an exhausting schedule of examinations. But soon after, many students find their days becoming monotonous, especially if they haven’t planned something interesting to keep them happily occupied. Thankfully for students of Thane, there are several activities that they can get involved in. In fact, summer is a great time to catch up with all those exciting activities that are simply impossible to take up during school time.

One great way to unwind and enjoy during summer vacations is to sign up with one of the several adventure camps organised for school students – like many have already done. On April 07, as many as 50 city students of class X took off for the Himalayas on an adventure skiing course. The course, being held at Manali in Himachal Pradesh, will last for 14 days in which the participating students will learn techniques of Skiing by professionals from the Mountaineering Institute of Himachal Pradesh. Next batch of 50 class VIII students, scheduled to leave on 24 April, will leave for Manali, for a 14-day adventure course comprising of snow and rock-climbing, forest-navigation, river-crossing, rappelling and zoomering.

These adventure trips are among the several vacations camps being organised by the Thane-based student welfare group Jidnyasa Trust. This is the 12th year ofthat Jidgnyasa hs been organising such trips. The camps at Manali are conducted by the Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Government of Himachal Pradesh. Since most students have rarely lived away from home for such extended periods of time, these camps provide more than just excitement value. They serve as a course in life skills. For instance, the participants will learn how to acclimatise their bodies to the altitudes, survival techniques on glaciers and high altitudes, environmental training, and even a few high-altitude trekking exercises. Surendra Dighe, Managing Trustee of Jidnyasa says, "Participants live in camps that they erect themselves out of whatever resources are available to them, arrange for firewood, and cook their own food. This kind of life, away form their family and friends, imbibes in them a feeling of self-confidence and helps them deal with problems of life better." With experts supervising all their activities, the participants’ safety is guaranteed.
 
Staying close to nature in all its wild glory and away from the city’s mechanical life, these campers come back with a renewed sense of discipline, self confidence and, perhaps most importantly, awe. Dwelling in the city makes us forget the awesome creation of God, of which we are an integral part. Such excursions help us re-connect with our source. So if you haven’t already planned a trip into the wilderness, do so now. Sign up with camps or plan one with your family or friends if they are the adventure loving types. Because the options for setting out for an adventure expedition are, like nature, boundless.

City welcomes the New Year

City welcomes the New Year

Today is Gudi Padwa, and also the occasion of the fourth Bharatiya Nava Varsha Swagat Yatra (BNVSY), an apolitical procession organised by Shri Kopaneshwar Mandir Trust (SKMT) and supported by city-based educational institutes, social and religious trusts, and NGOs. The BNVSY is the combined celebration of New Years of many Hindu communities such as Gudi Padwa (Marathi), Ugadi (Malayali), Cheti Chand (Sindhi) Poila Baishakh (Bengali), Baisakhi (Punjabi), which all fall in March and April of every year.

This convener of this year’s procession is Sudhakar Vaidya, President of CKP Social Club. Although the procession marks the arrival of the Hindu New Year, residents from non-Hindu communities like Jews, Catholics, Sikhs, Parsis and Muslims also participate. Two years ago, Dr. Dawood A Dalvi, ex-Principal of DnyanSadhana College, convened the procession, indicating clearly that the procession is not only apolitical but also cuts across cast barriers.

At 7 am today, the main procession will begin from the Kopeneshwar Temple and travel through Dagdi Shala, three petrol pump, Hari Nivas circle, Marathon square, Gokhale Road, Ram Maruti Road, Masunda Lake and will reach Kopaneshwar Mandir by 10.30 am. Like in the previous years, floats with cultural, educational and social themes will feature in the procession. As part of Jidnyasa Trust’s waste management project, more than 150 of its volunteers will be positioned at three different locations on the path to collect disposable water glasses and other waste that might be generated during the mammoth procession.

As usual, the celebrations started yesterday with Deepotsav, a brilliant spectacle of the city being lit up with diyas and candles in the hands of scores of city residents. The past few years have seen Thane expanding in its geographical scope, so much so that now it has its own suburbs, which participate in the city’s celebrations in their own way. The SKMT has formed sub-committees to monitor the activities in the far-flung localities of the city. This year more than 200 individuals from Vasant Vihar and surrounding areas participated in a motorcycle rally. Dressed in traditional outfits, the rally covered Vasant Vihar, Lok Puram and all other residential complexes in Pokhran area, to terminate at the Upvan Lake at around Sunset, just in time for the Deepotsav. In order to prevent the wind from spoiling the fun, residents of Brahmand Society at Ghodbunder Road purchased transparent glasses to place floating candles. The city’s enthusiasm is surely contagious and seems to have travelled the distance. Pokhran, Ghobunder Road, Raila Devi and even the east part of city (Kopri colony and surrounding areas) are actively participating in the celebrations. Housing societies across the city, including those situated in the far away corners like Vijay Nagri and Ritu Park, have agreed to display Gudis on their premises, to underline the atmosphere of togetherness. Large-than-life Rangolis at at Gavdevi Maidan, New English School and Sant Tukaram Ground in Thane East will be the highlight of the event.

Over the past few years, people of Thane have leapt across the barriers of cast and creed to coexist in harmony by respecting every religion and celebrating "unity in diversity", a phrase that we’re taught in school but seem to forget as we grow up. The city deserves a pat on its back as it preserves the cultural, social and religious heritage of our country. We wish all residents of Thane a very happy, harmonious and prosperous New Year.

Ye Dil Mange No More

Ye Dil Mange No More

Prevention is better than cure, it is said. But this adage does not apply to AIDS, where prevention is the only option, since there is no known cure. In spite of this seemingly common knowledge about AIDS, the incidence of this deadly disease is on the upswing. AIDS is spreading faster in India than anywhere else in the world, with an official figure of 51 lakh HIV+ cases. According to some foreign NGOs, this figure is over one crore. Cause for alarm is the fact that more than 50 per cent of all infected cases in India are in Maharashtra. And in Maharashtra, Mumbai (together with its twin city Thane), is the worst affected with one in every 40 people being HIV+.

A programme on AIDS awareness for the youth was organised in the city on March 24 at the TMA Hall in Wagle Estate. About 90 college-going students attended the programme and came out better informed. Well-known theatre personality Meena Naik, who has been doing AIDS awareness shows in various city colleges. Titled "Ye dil mange more", the show first used a 15-minute puppet show capsule that attempted to demonstrate how AIDS is transferred from one person to another. Later, a 45-minute play revolving around a mother and her two teenage daughters highlighted the modern day life in colleges, the party culture, and the accompanying risks.

Naik, who was awarded the Japanese Foundation Fellowship for study of puppetry in School (Educational Puppetry), presented a paper on "safe sex through puppetry" at the International Conference on Puppets in Health Education and Therapy held in London on June 1994. The interactive session after the play was alive with several questions being answered adeptly. Naik came across as a flexible person who was willing to incorporate suggestions for change in her approach from the audience.

Many of those who attended felt that the programme should be extended to seniors at the school level itself. College students were of the opinion that parents must be made to attend such programmes, in presence of their teenage children. "Nothing much has been done in Thane to spread AIDS awareness. Therefore, when we got an opportunity to do a programme with Meena Naik, we didn’t think twice", said ND Joseph, President of the Rotary Club of Thane Hills, the organisers of the programme.

According to Dr Rajan Bhosle, a renowned counsellor and an AIDS activist, "After 24 years of human effort in an age when technology and science are so advanced, and with all countries working together to find a cure, we have still been unable to deal with AIDS. As of now, prevention is the only cure for AIDS." Yes, we need more awareness programmes to stop the wildfire of AIDS from engulfing our youth. Listen to your hearts as they cry out Ye dil mange no more AIDS.

Colourful Values
Holi, the festival of colours, is fun. But oftentimes, Holi colours, if not smeared properly, are known to hurt and harm individuals. Realising that the best way to inculcate safety habits is to catch them young, the teachers of Garden School taught their little pre-school kiddos the right way to enjoy Holi. The idea behind this was that children tend to remember and stick to the values they acquire at a tender age.

On Wednesday, 90 children between 3 and 4 years, all Garden School students, learnt how to daub colour via demonstration. The children learnt how colours can make some people go blind and deaf and therefore it was important to throw colour carefully. Teachers trained them to apply colours only on cheeks, chin, nose and forehead, and taught them how to carefully vulnerable body parts, especially eyes and ears. Later, they were told to memorise this sentence: "Holi is a festival of colours, bright and nice – but we must not throw colour in anybody’s eyes". Why only children, even some adults need to memorise this one.