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Who started Earth Day is much debated, but who so ever did it, God bless his soul. For having people made conscious of what they do and how it effects the wonderful environment of the planet and making them conscious of their deeds. It started in 1970, in an age of Vietnam protests, era of love and hippy and most of all, the damage that we are doing to our environment. It has been 40 years since and what started as a protest movement become a global celebration of environment and commitment to its protection. The history of Earth Day mirrors the growth of environmental awareness over the last three decades, and the legacy of Earth Day is the certain knowledge that the environment is a universal concern.
It means so much to a number of people. Over 1 billion people take part in rallied around the world to point out the damage that we are doing to our world.
Earth Day 2009, April 22 will mark the beginning of the Green Generation Campaign, a movement promoting a new way of thinking, living and doing business where sustainability takes precedence. The two year campaign will culminate in the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010.
It will be driven by three principles:
1. Creation of a new green economy that lifts people out of poverty by creating millions of green jobs and transforming the global education system into a green one.
2.A carbon-free future based on renewable energy to end our dependency on fossil fuels, including coal. Utilizing alternative sources such as wind, solar thermal, photovoltaics and geothermal power, to reduce use of unsustainable energy sources.
3.Reducing individual carbon footprints for responsible, sustainable consumption. By eating local, sustainable and organic foods, buying green and energy-efficient products, as well as car pooling, using public transit, walking or biking whenever possible, thereby dramatically reducing individual footprints on the planet.

This global movement consists of ordinary people who are committed to a ecologically conscious way of life. They might be: consumers who are committed to buying green; community leaders who are focused on greening their communities; parents and teachers who work to provide healthy foods and green schools for their children; those who work in green jobs; academics whose research is focused on protecting the environment; scientists and engineers who develop new green technologies; corporations that are non-polluting and make sustainable products; governments that implement policies that will build a green economy and healthy population; and the religious community who are committed to a vision of a just, sustainable, green planet.
But the most important part is to be aware and make others aware every day of the year!

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Safe spaces to learn, grow, play and contribute to one’s community and each other is every youth’s dream – dreams that come true, thanks to SAYA. SAYA – ‘South Asian Youth Action’ is the first and only organization of its kind in the United States working to develop the skills, talents, and leadership potential of South Asian youth living in New York City.

400 youths no less, benefit from SAYA’s center- and school-based programs. Academic and career preparation, recreational and artistic opportunities, individual and group counseling, and leadership and organizing activities – you name it and SAYA provides it. With the sole intention of providing a positive atmosphere for the upliftment of South Asian Youth –SAYA strides forward confidently, into its 14th year of existence.

It is only appropriate that I tell you about the Founder and Executive Director of SAYA. Ms. Sayu Bhojwani serves on the board of the New York Foundation, which provides grants to grassroots organizations working to improve the lives of New Yorkers. She received a Union Square Award for the significant contribution to her community; she received the Helen La Kelly Hunt Women’s Neighborhood Leadership Award from the New York Women’s Foundation. No small feat indeed!

SAYA is a non-profit community based organization dedicated to creating social change and opportunities for South Asian youth to realize their fullest potential. It all began when Sayu Bhojwani saw that promising Asian youth experiencing racism and struggling with conflicting values inside and outside the home. She wanted to nurture the abilities and potential of South Asian youth, and thought it was necessary to address the myriad challenges they faced at home and in school, and within the broader community …..and SAYA was born. Hundreds of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Guyana, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad youth stood to benefit from SAYA.

SAYA’s main objective is to inspire youth and to prevent gender-based and race-based violence in their lives and to increase awareness of the issues that are specific to the South Asian community and to amplify community capacity to respond to violence.

Would you like to lend a helping hand? ……….. then don’t wait for tomorrow, get in touch today at (718) 651- 3484 or via email at saya@saya.org It little drops of water that make a mighty ocean, be a little drop in the mighty ocean of SAYA.


Abdul Karim, a 24 year old youth from Agra, was a gift from India to the British Queen Victoria, to commemorate her Golden Jubilee in the year 1887. Dressed in a scarlet tunic and an Indian turban, the 24-year-old landed in England as a waiter at the Royal table.

Abdul rose through the ranks and file, and the Queen’s love for Indian curries soon made him the Queen’s personal cook. Abdul, the favored cook soon became her ‘munshi’, her instructor, her guide, her confidant and finally the decorated Indian secretary. Abdul had filled the shoes of John Brown, who had died four years earlier.Queen Victoria wanted to learn the language of the country she ruled and Abdul was her instructor. Abdul, whose English was not too good when he left the shores of India improved as days went by in England. The Queen started confiding in him more and more. She had so much confidence on Abdul that she took his advice on various matters. Abdul was the ‘dearest Munshi’, to the widowed Queen. He narrated Indian stories, served Indian dishes and assisted her with official correspondence.

The Queen’s wrote numerous letters to Abdul, almost every day, and they were mostly addressed as ‘dear Abdul’ signed as “your true friend”, “your dearest friend” and even as your “dearest mother” at times.

Abdul’s rise put the royal household in turmoil. The royal household was deeply suspicious of Abdul’s influence over the Queen – but the Queen did not care. She handed him cottages in Windsor, Balmorals and Osborne. She wanted to make him a knight, but had to back down due to pressure from Lord Salisbury and made him a member of the Victoria Order Commander of the Indian Empire. She insisted that he have his private carriage, be allowed to smoke and have his own billiards room.

The Queen was so fond of Abdul that he spent almost all his time with her. In her letters, the Queen even advised Abdul and his wife – a childless couple – on how to conceive.

Queen Victoria died at the age of 81 and was succeeded by King Edward VII. Soon after her death Abdul was sent back to India. He had served the queen for 13 long years. All the letters and notes written by the Queen to Abdul were burnt by Victoria’s children after her death.

Abdul was 37 when he returned to India and later died at the age of 46.
What you have read is fact not fiction!

Victoria and Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidante, is a non-fictional account of the strong friendship between Britain’s Queen Victoria and her Indian munshi.

The book is authored by London-based Shrabani Basu and published by Rupa Publications. It is divided into 15 chapters and traces Abdul’s early life in Agra, his journey to England, Victoria’s attachment to Abdul Karim, the queen’s death and the munshi’s last days.

This is how the book took shape……..

Shrabani Basu, while researching her first book Curry, was told that Queen Victoria had once ordered that the spicy infusion be prepared every day in the royal kitchens. And that a young man named Abdul Karim had been the one to introduce her to it.“Then I chanced upon a portrait of him in the Indian Corridor of the palace,” said Shrabani. The serious countenance of the young man, the gold-rimmed turban, the vermillion jacket and the book in his hands brimmed with gravitas — the regality was unmistakable, uncharacteristic of a servant of the Queen. “She had that done on purpose. To assert that he was not to be treated as a mere servant.”That painting would become a person, and then a book. Victoria & Abdul – The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant, is a retelling of the remarkable relationship between the monarch and her manservant, painstakingly recreated from innumerable personal journals, meticulously-kept diaries and exhaustive letters. “It wasn’t easy,” Shrabani smiled. “The Queen’s handwriting is appalling.”

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Faith-based charity provides crumbs from the table; faith-based justice offers a place at the table. – Bill MoyersThat’s the essence of ‘One Table’!

One Table is a campaign launched by Mercy Corps to address global hunger. And here’s what Mercy Corps is all about –

Mercy Corps is a non-profit organization engaged in humanitarian aid and development activities. Founded in the year 1979, and headquartered in North America and Europe, Mercy Corps has provided more than US$1.95 billion in assistance to people in 107 nations. The agency’s unified global programs employ 3,700 staff worldwide and reach nearly 16.7 million people in more than 40 countries.Now, Mercy Corps is focusing on long-term solutions to hunger and poverty. Global hunger is a shared problem and it is everyone’s little might put together that can solve the problem. That’s why Mercy Corps has launched ‘One Table’, to fight hunger by investing in women.One Table is all about coming together to learn, share, decide and take action and Mercy Corps believes that everyone has something to bring to the table.

It could be just your voice – make sure that you are heard if you truly want to put an end to global hunger – support the Roadmap to End Hunger.
It could be a donation – big or small – just to tell that you care about the hungry. You could make a gift or a monthly contribution to Mercy corps, your donation will help women feed their families.
It could be a Fundraiser Party in your house – to support Mercy Corps’ efforts to fight hunger by investing in women.
It could be just a word to mouth campaign – tell your friends and family why hunger matters and what you have pledged to do to end it. Encourage them to join you in the One Table campaign. You could get all the information you need about One Table from Face book, YouTube and Twitter to keep up with Mercy Corps’ One Table campaign.
What can you bring to the table?, for I’m sure we all have something to contribute; together, we can end global hunger.

Here are some ways you can give ………………………..
Gift ‘Mercy Kits’ – Mercy Kits create lasting memories and change lives. All you have to do is select your Mercy Kit and share your commitment to help people in need. Just link up to http://www.mercycorps.org/mercykits and you will know all that you want to know about gifting a Mercy Kit.
Giving Value – A small donation of just $15 can provides a family in Zimbabwe with access to a communal garden space, including tools, seeds and water access. Just link up to http://www.mercycorps.org/give/value
Did you know that ‘the only things we ever have are the things we give away’? So, give to your heart’s content!

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Rohinton Mistry is known among the foremost writers of Indian Heritage writings in English. He is of Indian origin as he belongs to Gujarat but at present residing at Canada.

He has produced good writings on various topics and his latest work is “Fine Balance”.

The plot of this book has been set up in Mumbai, India during the period of 1975 to 1977. This was the time of Emergency which experienced crack down in civil liberties and expanded government.

Mistry has tried to expose all the changes that Indian society faced during the time of Emergency which was called by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.

You will generally find Mistry to be critical of Gandhi in the entire book. And a very interesting point you will note in the book is that the writer has not referred Indira Gandhi by any name even once and has simply mentioned as “the prime minister”.

The main story of the book revolves around the four characters Dina Dalal, Ishwar Darji and his nephew Omrkash and Maneck who is a young lad. All these characters belongs to different backgrounds and come in contact with each other due to economic forces changing India and are trying to make a bond between them.

The family of Ishwar and Omprakash belongs to the Chamaar castes that are treated as untouchables. In order to break the caste system the father of Ishwar gives training of tailoring to their sons and they become tailors. The skill also gets passed to the son of Ishwar’s brother and they all move to Mumbai in search of work.

Dina is a character who belongs to a wealthy and traditional family but stays in the flat of her dead husband so as to maintain tenuous independence from her brother.

And Maneck belongs to a small mountain village of India who moves to a city in order to get a college diploma for having a second option in case if his fathers business do not do well. All these characters of the book are interestingly brought together. As Ishwar and Omprakash are going to Dina’s flat through a train, they meet Maneck on their way and they together head towards the flat of Dina where Ishwar and Om gets hired by her she allows Maneck to stay in her flat as well.

From here the lives of all these characters take shocking and dramatic turns. Through these twist and turns of life, Mistry has very well tried to portrait the lives of these characters and also of India along with its wide variety. These unforgettable characters are used to show the wide social panorama which is just amazing. This magical work by Mistry shows the real world not through his imagination but through his eyes.

A Fine Balance was first published in 1995 and it won the Giller Prize as well.

Until 2001 it was among the only two Canadian books which have been given the privilege of being selected in the Oprah’s Book Club. It was also given a nomination for Booker Prize in the year 1996. The list of its accomplishment is never ending and you have to first go through it to actually feel its success.


“Thank you Pinki. Thank you for letting me tell your incredible story,” said Mylen, film Director, while accepting the Oscar for the Smile Pinki.
The film was done and over with, tributes and awards were given but that was not the end for Pinki –the heroine of Smile Pinki – it was the beginning. The beginning of a new life, the beginning of happiness and joy, the beginning of all things that mattered.

Smile Pinki, the Oscar-winning short documentary is the story of a child with a lip deformity. The 39-minute documentary traces Pinki’s journey from being ostracized to being treated like a normal girl after a social worker helped her undergo surgery.

Smile Pinki is an amazing true-life fairy tale of little village girl from Uttar Pradesh, who was born with a cleft lip. Torment and ridicule were Pinki’s way of life. School was a distant dream and brick brats a reality. Things changed one day as if the fairy had waved a wand. Pankaj Kumar Singh, a representative from the GS Memorial Plastic Surgery Hospital promised to change everything for Pinki. And everything did change for Pinki.

Producer/director Megan Mylen decided to document the story of Pinki. The film opens on a schoolyard scene, with children in uniforms dancing in a circle. This, the film suggests, is the life available to children with cleft deficiencies, if only they undergo corrective surgery. With Pinki at the center, the film looks in on the experiences of a few other children discovered by Pankaj, including 11-year-old Ghutaru, who has not only stayed out of school but has also largely stopped talking due to his deformity.

The poverty in the village and the helplessness of the parents to help their deformed children forms the back ground for the movie. The film throws hope for the children whose lives are ruined just for the want of a small; corrective surgery. The film doesn’t look into possible reasons for cleft deficiencies, but at the remedy and its availability.

A positive film, a ray of hope for the estimated 35,000 children who are born with cleft deficiencies every year.Let’s not forget NGO Smile Train, which funded the surgery and Pinki’s Los Angeles trip to attend the Oscars and Dr Subodh K Singh, who performed the surgery.
I am sure each one of us can bring a smile on the face of the children born with cleft deficiencies. Let us say thank you to God in a different way today.


Prince – Paisa Vasool action thriller

Rating: 3 out of 5*

Starring: Vivek Oberoi, introducing Aruna Sheilds, Neeru Bajwa, Nandana Sen, Isaiah and Sanjay Kapoor

Director: Kookie V. Gulati

The film begins with a huge diamond heist by master thief Prince (Vivek) and his associates followed by few more such high profile robberies. Three months are shown passed by and Prince wakes up with a gun shot wound on his hand and amnesia as well. His butler PK (Mayur Puri) reveals to him that he works as the right hand man for an underworld don in South Africa named Sarang and that he has a girl friend, Maya. But then things start getting complicated as he is also being hunted by a special Indian intelligence agency I-Grip headed by one Colonel Khanna (Dalip Tahil), by Indian CBI officer Khan (Sanjay Kapoor) and also by Sarang who desperately wants the coin that is in Prince’s possession. The coin carries the power to threaten the future of the Human Race. What leaves Prince further puzzled are the three gals (Aruna Shields, Nandana Sen and Neeru Bajwa) he encounters time to time, all claiming to be Maya, his girlfriend. What follows as Prince decides to unravel the mystery with a death threat at every turn forms the rest of the plot.

If you are willing to suspend your belief then Prince is a complete paisa vasool action thriller for you. Slickly shot, this debut directorial venture of Kookie Gulati has been made on par with many popular International action thrillers. Some may find many twists of the plot implausible especially the one involving brain mapping and memory being erased and regained back again using computer softwares. But if one can enjoy movies like Face Off then Prince deserves better. The first half is racy and keeps you guessing what will happen next as a new twist and turn unfolds at regular intervals. The second half gets more action heavy and carries a good twist in the pre-climax. The film however lacks good one-liners. Amongst the best action (Allan Amin) high points of the film are the chase sequences on the Durban highway and Aruna Shields’ gun totting entry and then finally the climax. Music by debutante Sachin Gupta is already a chartbuster with the two numbers Tere Liye and O Mere Khuda on the top of the charts.

Vivek Oberoi seems to have given it his all and its results are visible. He is not only excellent in the action sequences but good in the dramatic and confrontation sequences as well. Isaiah has terrific screen presence and fits the part perfectly well. Amongst the gals, Aruna Shields is the most impressive followed by Nandana Sen. Neeru Bajwa doesn’t get much scope as her character gets sidelined. Dalip Tahil, Sanjay Kapoor and Mayur Puri (also the dialogue writer of the film) provide adequate support.

After a long drought, a good action flick has hit Bollywood, don’t miss it.

-Sampurn Wire