Superfoods

Superfoods

Superfoods are foods that have a dozen or more unique properties. Superfoods comprise a specific set of edible, incredibly nutritious plants that are not entirely classifiable as foods or medicines. Some common superfoods are:

  • Algae
  • Berries- Acai berries, Blueberries, Goji berries
  • Leafy greens
  • Green tea
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Dark chocolate

In this article, we will be looking at algae, specifically, microalgae.

Microalgae are microscopic aquatic organisms which use the solar energy and carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and produce a wide variety of complex substances and biologically active compounds. The aquatic microalgae are one of the oldest terrestrial organisms and can adapt to survive in adverse environmental conditions. They are characterized by the ability to grow and multiply rapidly within a short life cycle and are also easy to manipulate. Efficiency of microalgae in fixing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 10 to 50 times higher than that of terrestrial plants. The cultivation of microalgae reduces the level of pollutants in the air and in the aquatic environment. Microalgae is “20 times more productive than conventional crops,” with little needed in the way of input to keep them alive.

Microalgae
Microalgae

The edible types of algae are: Blue-green algae, Brown algae, Red algae and Green algae. Chlorella (a green algae) and Spirulina (a blue-green algae) are two extremely popular algae used as superfood. Spirulina is a potent source of phycocyanobilin. Nutrient-dense, like chlorella, and contains 10 percent more protein than chlorella, as well as more copper and thiamine, or vitamin B1. Chlorella is higher than spirulina in zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin B2, calories, fat, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Production:

The large-scale microalgae cultivation started in the 1960s in Japan, in which Chlorella microalgae were used as a food additive. In the 1970s and 1980s, the industrial production of microalgae expanded to USA, China, Taiwan, Australia, India, Israel and Germany. In the last few years, the production of Spirulina and Chlorella microalgae has increased, and currently it is practiced by most countries. The annual production is about 7,500 tons of dry biomass (5,000 and 2,500 tons of Spirulina and Chlorella microalgae, respectively).

Microalgae production
Microalgae production

Health Benefits of Algae:

  • Algae contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Algae deliver essential amino acids
  • Algae help in the prevention of diseases
  • Algae help in the development and maintenance of healthy kin

Dietary Supplements

 dietary supplement is a manufactured product intended to supplement one’s diet by taking a pill, capsule, tablet, powder or liquid. Eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to get the nutrients you need. However, some people do not get enough vitamins and minerals from their daily diet, and their doctors may recommend a supplement. Dietary supplements may provide nutrients that might be missing from your daily diet.

Supplement can provide nutrients either extracted from food sources or that are synthetic in order to increase the quantity of their consumption. The various compounds for which dietary supplements are available are- vitamins, minerals, proteins, fibers, fatty acids, and amino acids. Dietary supplements are also available to enhance and support fertility, prenatal care, and for body-building.

Dietary supplements
Dietary supplements

Microgreens

An Introduction to Microgreens

Microgreens are edible seedlings including vegetables and herbs, which have been used, primarily in the restaurant industry. They are used as a nutrition supplement, a visual enhancement, and a flavor and texture enhancement. They are harvested after the sprout stage of harvestation; just after the cotyledon leaves have developed with one set of true leaves when the plant is 1-3 inches in height and 7-21 days old (immature stage). Microgreens are composed of three parts: a central stem, cotyledon leaf or leaves, and a pair of young true leaves. Microgreens vary in taste, which can range from neutral to spicy, slightly sour or even bitter, depending on the variety. They have a flavor which is generally considered strong and concentrated.

M1

Difference between Sprouts and Microgreens

In the case of sprouts, the harvest time is earlier than microgreens

Microgreens are grown in soil or soil-like materials such as peat moss. Sprout seeds are soaked in water, usually for eight hours and then drained. The sprouting process occurs in dark or very low light conditions. Microgreens are planted with very low seed density compared to sprout processing.

A sprout consists of seed, root, and stem. On the other hand, microgreens are harvested without the roots.

How Microgreens are grown

At home

Fill container with soil and water lightly. Sprinkle the seed of choice on top of the soil as evenly as possible. Lightly mist seeds with water and cover container with a plastic lid. Check tray daily and mist water as needed to keep the seeds moist. A couple of days after the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic lid to expose them to light. After 10–14 days, the microgreens should be ready to harvest.

growing microgreens at home

In the industry commercially

Seeds are grown on large trays lined with absorbent growing mats. Seeds are sprinkled over the tray and grown covered for the first few days. Once the sprouts have reached the desired length the cover is removed. Sprouts are allowed to green under the fluorescent light and grown until the true leaves appear.

industrial production of microgreen

Types of Microgreens

Microgreens can be grown from different types of seeds. The most popular varieties are produced using seeds from the following plant families:

  • Brassicaceae family: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, radish and arugula
  • Asteraceae family: Lettuce, endive, chicory and radicchio
  • Apiaceae family: Dill, carrot, fennel and celery
  • Amaryllidaceae family: Garlic, onion, leek
  • Amaranthaceae family: Amaranth, quinoa swiss chard, beet and spinach
  • Cucurbitaceae family: Melon, cucumber and squash

Health Benefits of Microgreens

  • Eating vegetables is linked to a lower risk of many diseases
  • Microgreens contain phytonutrients
  • Microgreens are juvenile seedlings that contain large concentration of vitamins, minerals and other higher health-giving phytonutrients compared to mature leaves
  • Young lettuce seedling after 7 days of germination contains highest total phenolic concentration and antioxidant capacity
  • Red cabbage, garnet amaranth, green Daikon and radish microgreens contain highest concentration of Vitamin E, C and K
  • All the nutrients that are packed in microgreens are essential for skin
  • Microgreen contain crystalline compounds having a wide range of health benefits such as an estrogen stabilizer DIM (diindolylmethane) which is necessary for both men and women

A Brief Introduction to Stars

Stars are something we all know and see, glittering in the night sky above. Most people, however are content to just admire their beauty. These stars have their own fascinating physics and chemistry behind them. There are a lot of fascinating information which not many people are aware of. This article will attempt to give some basic information about stars to facilitate a greater interest in them.

What exactly are stars and how are they ‘born’

Stars are luminous spheroidal celestial objects made up of plasma. They are held together by their own gravity. They may be found singularly or in groups known as constellations. Stars are born in star nurseries called nebula. Nebula are nothings but clouds of gas and dust. Star formation begins due to instability in the gravity within molecular clouds. This gravitational instability soon causes the nebula cloud / clouds to collapse under its own gravitational force. The density of the region also increases. The gravitational energy gets converted into heat which causes a rise in temperature. After a certain period, the collapsed nebula cloud reaches the hydrostatic equilibrium condition. Hydrostatic equilibrium is the condition where and external force (like gravity) of an object either fluid or plastic in nature gets balanced by a pressure-gradient force. This gives rise to a protostar, which then evolves into a star.

Stars are comprised of gases, mainly hydrogen and helium. The structure of a star comprises of its core where various nuclear reactions take place, a conduction zone which carries energy outwards from the core, a convection zone which transfers gases of extremely high temperatures to the surface, and the surface of the star. The heat generated by these nuclear reactions is what makes the stars shine.

The types of stars

Red Giants

Red giants are stars which have run out of hydrogen from their core. As an alternative way, they start to use hydrogen present outside the core, which causes it to swell and puff up. After the hydrogen totally gets over, it starts burning up other gases which may cause it to grow into yellow or blue supergiants and hypergiants.

Betelguese, a red giant seen from a telescope
Betelguese, a red giant seen from a telescope

White Dwarfs

White Dwarfs are dying stars. They are formed from stars which has used up all of its available gas. It then collapses to form a small planet-sized star with only a white-hot and extremely dense core.

Sirius B, a white dwarf seen from a telescope
Sirius B, a white dwarf seen from a telescope

Neutron Stars

If a star roughly 5 times or more the size of our sun dies, it does not become a white dwarf. Instead, it undergoes a supernova explosion. Supernova explosions are very bright and powerful enough that it could be seen with the naked eye even on Earth despite the star being 168, 000 light years away (SN 1987A). The intense force of the gravity produced in the collapse causes the protons and electrons to merge forming a star made purely of neutrons, giving these stars the name ‘neutron stars’. However more massively sized stars, roughly 8 times the sun, instead collapse to form not neutron stars, but black holes, a region of space with gravity so extremely powerful that even light cannot escape it.  

Illustration of neutron star
Illustration of neutron star
Image of a black hole courtesy NASA
Image of a black hole courtesy NASA

Small Steps to Help the Earth

In today’s time of climate change and environmental degradation, it is of utmost importance to rein in the damage done to the environment before it crosses a point of no return. The major portion of environmental damage caused can only be worked towards reducing if the various governments, organizations and corporations work towards solving the various issues and the sources causing these issues. But that doesn’t mean that normal people cannot do anything. We each can, in our own way, change certain habits and follow a certain way of lifestyle which can be more efficient and reduce environmental strain. One person, or a small group of people’s efforts will not do anything. However, if all of us on the Earth try and make an effort to our best abilities, then our small steps will give rise to a large positive impact on the environment.

By regulating the way we manage certain things in our life and by following certain practices, right from within our home itself, each one of us can contribute to reducing environmental damage and making the Earth a better place.

A few ways you can make a difference in the health of the environment and planet:

Practice the 3Rs: The 3Rs stand for Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Reduce means to limit and decrease the use of something. Reuse is using a used item again. Recycling is to make a new object from an old one.

3Rs
3Rs

Both plastic as well as glass bottles can either be reused or recycled. However, not all types of plastic can be recycled, only certain types of plastic can. This recyclable plastic is taken to factories and used in the automobile industry to make plastic parts for cars. Glass bottles get taken to factories and recycled by crushing and then melting them to eventually form new bottles and the like. Both glass and plastic bottles can be reused. They can be reused normally or be used to grow small plants in.

Reuse of bottles
Reuse of bottles

Paper can also be recycled to make new paper and cardboard. Recently, notebooks made from recycled paper have shown a rise in popularity.

Old clothes can either be sent to charity organizations, where they are given to the needy or sent to textile mills where they get recycled.

Vegetable waste like fruit peelings, tea leaves and even paper to a certain extent can be used to make compost. This compost is very nutrient rich and can be used for keeping plants grown at home healthy.

Carrier bags should be reused. It is better to use cloth bags, as they are not only eco-friendly, but also can be reused multiple times and repaired and washable if they get spoiled.

Electrical and energy consuming appliances should be switched of when not in use. Water taps should be checked to ensure that no water gets wasted due to dripping.

Apart from all this, it is necessary to spread awareness too. Educate and encourage your family, neighbors, friends and acquaintances. Students can form ‘Green Clubs’.

At first glance, these may seem insignificant, but with everyone doing it, it will make a difference.

Neeraj Chopra: History Maker

On the 7th August 2021, 17:38 pm IST, history was created at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. After a long 13 years, Indian finally won another gold medal at the Olympic Games. Subedar Neeraj Chopra VSM had just won the gold medal in the men javelin’s throw and etched himself into Indian sports history. Neeraj Chopra’s gold medal is India’s first athletic track field medal. Apart from that, Neeraj is only the second Indian to win a gold medal after Abhinav Bindra’s historic performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Neeraj Chopra was born on the 23rd of December 1997 in Panipat, Haryana. In 2016, he enlisted in the Indian National Army. He currently holds the post of a Junior Commissioned Officer and has the rank of a Naik Subedar. He has been awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal by the Indian Army. He is a Track and Field athlete and specializes in javelin throw.

Neeraj Chopra started participating in javelin throw competitively since 2016 He has put on consistent performances. Apart from that, he also has 2 world records to his name. He competed in the 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships (the Junior World Championships) and on the 23rd of July 2016 won the gold medal. He also set a world record on that day for the longest throw (86.48 meters). The record still stands and has not been broken yet. In the same year, he won the South Asian Games. His throw of 82.23 meters equaled the national record of that time. In 2017, he won another gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championship. His winning throw was 85.23 meters.

The 2018 Glasgow Commonwealth Games were his first Commonwealth Games, where he ended up winning the gold medal. With this gold medal win in his debut appearance, he not only became to first Indian athlete to win in the javelin throw category at the Commonwealth Games, but also became one of the very few Indian athletes to win a gold medal in their first Commonwealth Games appearance. For this outstanding performance here, he was awarded with the Arjuna Award. He broke the previous national record and set a new one while competing in the Doha Diamond League with a throw of 87.43 meters.

The 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games were his first time competing at the Asian Games. He was selected as the flag-bearer for these games on account of his brilliant performance that year, especially his 2018 Commonwealth Games success. He won India her first gold medal in the javelin throw category in the Asian Games and also broke the national record he himself had set with a winning throw of 88.06 meters. In March 2021 at the Indian Grand Prix, he again broke his record with a marginally higher 88.07 meters.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were Neeraj Chopra’s first ever Olympic Games. He won the gold medal in the finals held on the 7th of August with a winning throw of 87.58 meters and created history. He is the second Indian athlete to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics and the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in the discipline of athletics.

Subedar Neeraj Chopra VSM with his Tokyo 2020 Gold Olympic medal
Subedar Neeraj Chopra VSM with his Tokyo 2020 Gold Olympic medal

Saina Nehwal: India’s Badminton Queen

Introduction and Early Life

Saina Nehwal is undoubtedly India’s greatest badminton player and one of India’s most iconic sports personalities. Saina was born on the 17th of March 1990 in Hisar, Haryana. Saina’s mother was a state-level badminton player while her father used to play badminton at the university-level. Saina originally took up badminton as a child due to loneliness. She also wanted to fulfil her mother’s dream of playing badminton at a national level. She trained at Pullela Gopichand’s Gopichand Badminton Academy, then trained at Prakash Padukone’s Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, before returning to the Gopichand Badminton Academy. Saina also holds a brown belt in Karate.

Saina with her parents
Saina with her parents

Achievements

Saina is a former World No. 1 player, with her being declared the World No. 1 female badminton player on the 2nd of April, 2015. This made her the only female Indian and second Indian overall to achieve this. She is currently the World No. 19. She is the only Indian to win at least one medal in all of the major existing BWF individual events- the Olympics, the BWF World Championships, the BWF Junior World Championships- at any point of time. She is the first Indian badminton player to win an Olympic medal and advance to the BWF World Championship finals. She is also the only Indian badminton player to win the BWF World Junior Championship. In May 2006, with her winning the Philippines Open, Saina became the first Indian woman and youngest Asian to win a 4-star badminton tournament. She is the first Indian to win a Super Series title. Saina is also the first Indian badminton player to win two gold singles medals at the Commonwealth Games, with her wins in the 2010 and 2018 Games. She captained the Indian team and contributed majorly to getting India a bronze medal in the 2014 Thomas and Uber Cup, which was also the country’s first major BWF event team medal.

In 2008, she received the Most Promising Player of the Year (2008) award from the Badminton World Federation. She was a recipient of the Arjuna award in 2009 and the Padma Shri in 2010. She also was the recipient of the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna that year. In 2016, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour.

Saina being awarded the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna
Saina being awarded the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna
Saina being awarded the Padma Bhushan
Saina being awarded the Padma Bhushan

Career Highlights

Saina has played a total of 640 singles matches till date, and has won 440 of them. She has won 4 Super Series Premier events, 7 Super Series events, 8 Grand Prix Gold events and 1 Grand Prix title. In the 2012 London Olympic Games, she won the bronze medal. She has won 2 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, in the years 2010 and 2018. She won a bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games. In the BWF World Championship, she won a silver medal in 2015 and a bronze medal in 2017. Saina has won 3 bronze medals in the Asian Championships in the years 2010, 2016 and 2018. At the national level, Saina is a 13-timw winner of the National Badminton Championships.

Saina with her Olympic bronze medal
Saina with her Olympic bronze medal

Major Dhyan Chand: The Magician of Hockey

On the 6th of August 2021, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi tweeted that the Government of India would be renaming India’s highest sporting honour from the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna to the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna. This announcement came on the heels on the Men’s Indian Hockey team winning the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This is significant due to the greatness and impact Major Dhyan Chand left on the sport especially in India. Nicknamed The Wizard and The Magician of Hockey, he was renowned worldwide for his superior skills and extraordinary ball control skills.

Early life

Major Dhyan Chand was born on the 29th of August 1905 in Allahabad in what was then known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh in British-India. His father was a member of the British Indian Army. Major Dhyan Chand grew up with hockey right from his birth; his father used to play hockey for the Army. However, apart from playing casual games of hockey with his friends, according to Major Dhyan Chand, he did not have any serious interest in hockey. He joined the British Indian Army on his 17th birthday.

Major Career Achievements

Major Dhyan Chand started playing hockey competitively after joining the British Indian Army. Initially he played only tournaments within the army. His first international competition was in a tour against New Zealand. He was selected to be a part of the Indian hockey team for the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games. Despite it being the debut Games for the hockey team, they dominated it and ended up winning the gold medal. Major Dhyan Chand was the top-scorer in the whole tournament. This was the Games which lead to his nickname The Magician of Hockey. In the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, he was once again a part of the hockey team as they once again won the gold. In 1934, he was appointed as the captain of the national team. In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Major Dhyan Chand captained the team into winning its third consecutive gold medal.

Post-Retirement

Major Dhyan Chand continued playing hockey even after retiring from the competitive field. He used to regularly teach hockey in coaching camps at Mount Abu in Rajasthan. He was appointed to the position of Chief Hockey Coach at the Patiala branch of the National Institute of Sports and had a tenure of many years there. He passed away on the 3rd of December 1979.

Legacy

The Government of India declared his birthday, the 29th of August as National Sports Day. It is also the day when sports-related awards are conferred. India’s highest award for a lifetime achievement in sports was named the Dhyan Chand Award. The National Stadium in Delhi, a field hockey stadium, was renamed as the Dhyan Chand National Stadium. On the 6th of August 2021, India’s highest sporting award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna was renamed to the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna in highlight of the contribution and impact Major Dhyan Chand left on hockey both nationally as well as internationally.

Four Iconic Fantasy Movie Series based on Books

 The Lord of the Rings series

The Lord of the Rings series is based on the iconic series of the same name written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Like its novel counterparts, it is regarded as one of the best and most influential series ever. It is set in the fictional world of Middle-Earth and follows a hobbit, Frodo Baggins, his friends and an allied group called the Fellowship in their quest to destroy the Dark Lord Sauron through the destruction of the One Ring, which was created by him. There are 3 parts in the series:

  • The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  • The Two Towers (2002)
  • The Return of the King (2003)
 The Lord of the Rings series
 The Lord of the Rings series

The series also has a prequel series called The Hobbit based on the novel of the same name by J.R.R. Tolkien. It takes place 60 years before the events of The Lord of the Rings series and follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins as he, along with 13 dwarves, sets out to take back the Lonely Mountain from the clutches of the ferocious dragon Smaug. The Hobbit also has 3 parts:

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
The Hobbit series
The Hobbit series

The Harry Potter series

The Harry Potter series is based on the immensely popular Harry Potter book series written by British author J.K. Rowling. The series follows Harry Potter, given the epithet of The-Boy-Who-Lived,and his adventures at the wizarding school of Hogwarts, all the while trying to fight against Lord Voldemort, an evil wizard who tried to kill Harry as a baby but failed. The series has 8 parts:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
The Harry Potter series
The Harry Potter series

Pirates of the Caribbean series

Unlike many movies which are either adaptations of some sort of media or original stories of their own, the Pirates of the Caribbean series is inspired from a Disneyland ride of the same name. The series follows the adventures and shenanigans of the pirates sailing in the Caribbean, particularly following the story of Captain Jack Sparrow. The series has 5 parts:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Salazar’s Revenge (2017)
Pirates of the Caribbean series
Pirates of the Caribbean series

The Chronicles of Narnia series

The Chronicles of Narnia is based on the best-selling book series of the same name written by C.S. Lewis. The series follows the adventures of a group of siblings in the magical land of Narnia. Although the book series contains 7 books, till today, only 3 have been adapted:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
The Chronicles of Narnia series
The Chronicles of Narnia series

PV Sindhu: India’s Current Face of Badminton

Early Life

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (PV Sindhu) was born on the 5th of July, 1995 in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Coincidentally, both her parents were professional volleyball players who have played at the national level. In 2001, Indian male badminton player Pullela Gopichand won the All-England Open Badminton Championship. This piqued the interest of a young Sindhu, who became interested in the discipline of badminton. She started playing badminton when she was 8 years old. She initially trained at the Indian Railway Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunication, and later joined Pullela Gopichand’s Gopichand Badminton Academy.

Career

Sindhu starting playing badminton competitively at a tender age. She was successful right from a young age. When competing in the under-10 years category, she won the 5th Servo All India ranking championship in both the singles as well as doubles categories. While competing in the under-13 years category, she won the singles and doubles title at multiple Indian badminton competitions. In the under-14 years category, in the 51st National Games, Sindhu won a team gold medal.

Sindhu started playing internationally at the age of 14. She won the bronze medal at the 2009 Sub-Junior Asian Badminton Championships. In July 2012, she won the Asian Junior Championships. She won her first Grand Prix Gold title in 2103 by winning the Malaysia Masters. In the same year, the became the second Indian to win a medal in the singles category at the Badminton World Championships. She also won the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold. In 2014, she won the bronze medal at the Asian Championships and the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. She won another bronze medal in the 2014 BWF World Badminton Championships. In 2016, she won the silver medal in the Rio Olympics and created history as the youngest and first female Indian athlete to win a silver Olympic medal. She won the silver medal in the 2017 World Championships. In 2018, she became the only Indian to win the BWF World Tour Finals and won India her first silver singles medal at the 2108 Asian Games. In 2019, she became the first Indian to win a gold medal at the World Championships. In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she won the bronze medal.  

PV Sindhu winning the silver medal at the Rio Olympics
PV Sindhu winning the silver medal at the Rio Olympics
 PV Sindhu winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics
PV Sindhu winning the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics

Achievements

Sindhu is the current World No. 7, having reached the rank of World No. 2 in 2017. She is the first Indian to win and become the World Badminton Championship, as well as the first Indian woman to reach an Olympic Final with her competition in the finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics. With her podium finish in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she now also holds the record of being the first Indian woman to win two medals at the Olympics. She is the second Indian athlete individually to win two consecutive Olympic medals. She is the second woman worldwide to win either five or more medals at the Badminton World Championships. In 2013, she was awarded the Arjuna Award. In 2015, Sindhu was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award. 2016, she received the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna (formerly known as the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna), India’s highest sporting honour. In 2020, she was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award. In 2018 and 2019, Sindhu was a part of Forbes’ list of the Highest-Paid Female Athletes. On the 8th of March 2020, she was declared as the BBC Indian Sportswoman of the Year.

Sindhu being awarded the  Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna
Sindhu being awarded the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna

Agatha Christie: The Queen of Crime

Introduction

When it comes to the genre of mystery, the name Agatha Christie is one bound to be discussed. She has left a long-lasting impact and influence on the genre with her various works even today. Her creations of the detective Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are immortalized in the crime novel genre. According to the Guinness World Records, Agatha Christie’s works have sold more than 2 billion copies worldwide, making her the best-selling fiction writer of all time. According to UNESCO’s book translation database Index Translationum, she is the most translated individual author in record. Her mystery novel ‘And Then There Were None’ is the world’s fifth highest selling book of fiction and highest selling crime novel of all time, having sold around a 100 million copies. Her play ‘The Mousetrap’ holds the record for longest running initial run for a play, and ran from the 25th of November 1952 to March 2020, being closed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Early Life

Agatha Christie was born on the 15th of September 1890 as Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller in Torquay, Devon, England. She was born to Frederick Alvah Miller and Clarissa Margaret Miller and was the youngest of three siblings, having an elder sister and brother. From early childhood, Agatha Christie had an enormous love for books and reading. She wrote her first piece of writing, a poem titled ‘The Cow Slip’ at the tender age of 10.

Career

Agatha Christie started writing at the age of 18. However, it wasn’t until later that she would be successful in her writing endeavours. She wrote a series of short stories and submitted them to various magazines, however, they got rejected most of the time. In 1916, she wrote her first detective novel. It was titled ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ and starred the Belgium detective Hercule Poirot. It was also the first of the ‘Hercule Poirot’ series of her detective novels. Like her endeavours with her short stories, she was initially unsuccessful in getting a publisher to accept publishing the novel. Finally, it was published in 1920 by the publishing company ‘The Bodley Head’ was a change in the climax of the story. This was a turning point in her career and the start of her rise to the summit of the crime and mystery genre. Her second novel ‘The Secret Adversary’, published in 1922 starred new characters, a crime-solving detective couple named Tommy and Tuppence. In 1927, she created the character Miss Marple, an elderly detective woman. Miss Marple would then be featured in various short stories and novels.

Although Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are Agatha Christie’s most famous detectives, she wrote multiple other crime novels starring other detectives like Tommy and Tuppence, Harley Quin and Parker Pyne.

Christie’s work extended to beyond the crime and mystery novels. She was also a successful playwright and found great joy in it. She also wrote non-fiction works based on her travel experiences around the world. She also published 6 mainstream novels under a pseudonym of Mary Westmacott.

Hercule Poirot
Hercule Poirot
Miss Marple
Miss Marple

5 Dystopian Movie Series to Watch for Dystopia Lovers

Dystopian movies are movies set in futures where law and order are either absent, or is corrupted. These movies, while characterized with mild to heavy violence, oppression and death, are packed with action, suspense and thrills. For people into these genres, the dystopian genre of movies can be a thrilling watch.

For those with an established love for the genre, as well as first-time watchers and people wanting to get into the genre, here are 5 series to look into:

The Hunger Games series

The Hunger Games series

The Hunger Games series is based on a novel trilogy of the same name by Suzanne Collins. The story is set in a country called Panem, which is divided into the Capitol and 12 Districts. Every year, there is a competition called the Hunger Games, in which a boy and a girl under 18 are selected and made to fight to death till one person remains standing. The story is told through the point-of-view of Katniss Everdeen, a seventeen-year-old from District 12 who along with her schoolmate Peeta Mellark is forced to compete in the Hunger Games.

The Maze Runner series

The Maze Runner series

Similar to the Hunger Games series, the Maze Runner series is also based on a trilogy of novels written by James Dashner. The story follows Thomas, who wakes up amnesiac in the centre of a gigantic maze occupied by other boys who also have no recollection of life before the maze. They discover that the mazes are operated by an organization called WCKD and escape the maze to find WCKD and learn the secret behind them.

The Resident Evil series

The Resident Evil series

The Resident Evil series, unlike most movie adaptations is actually adapted from a Japanese action-horror video game series and loosely based on it. The series follows Alice and her fight against the Umbrella Corporation, an organization responsible for causing a zombie apocalypse. The series was immensely successful, and holds the record for highest grossing zombie series as well as highest grossing movie series adapted from a video game. A reboot of the series more faithful to the game comes out in November 2021.

The Divergent series

The Divergent series

The Divergent series is based on a novel series of the same name written by Veronica Roth. The movie is set in a society where humans get classified into five different groups which become their social and personal identity. The ones who cannot fit in are called Divergent are cast off from society. The Divergent series follows the story of Tris, a Divergent and her struggle to blend in with the rest of society.

The Purge series

The Purge series

The Purge is an original movie series created by James DeMonaco. It is set in a dystopic America, which on first glance looks normal, crime-free and idyllic. The truth behind the lack of violence is The Purge, a US Government-sanctioned annual, national holiday in which for a time period of 24 hours, each and any crime becomes legal. The movies follow different groups of people and their struggles to survive The Purge.

5 Animated Movies for All Age Groups

 Animated movies are generally considered to be made for children. While it is true that originally animated movies and their plots were created to cater to children, this has changed with time. Animation studios decided to make more movies with plots which would appeal to older audiences as well and be enjoyable for them.

5 animated movies which everyone can enjoy regardless of age are:

Tangled

Tangled

Tangled is based on the story of Rapunzel, but with a big twist. The story follows Rapunzel, a young lady who lives in a secluded tower, constantly dreaming of exploring the world beyond, but forbidden from doing so by her mother. When her mother leaves on a week-long journey, a thief, Flynn Rider breaks into the home while escaping palace guards with treasure. In return for his stolen treasure, she enlists his help to navigate the outside world and show her the mysterious lights which always appear on her birthday.

Coco

Coco

The premise of Coco is based on the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead. The story follows Miguel, a young boy who dreams of being a musician despite music being banned in his family. On the eve of the holiday, Miguel gets transported to the Land of the Dead. To return to the Land of the Living, Miguel sets out on a journey to search for his deceased great-great-grandfather, a musician, and also help lift the family ban on music. Coco was praised for having an all-Latino principle cast and has won multiple awards and accolades.

The Polar Express

The Polar Express

Now considered a classic, The Polar Express is a beautiful story of belief. The story follows the adventure of a young boy, who does not believe in Santa, on the night of Christmas Eve. As he goes to bed, he notices a mysterious train outside his home. Learning that it is called the Polar Express, he then decides to get aboard it as it travels to the North Pole towards Santa and the elves. The movie was made through live-action motion capture of actors. According to the Guiness World Records, The Polar Express is the world’s first all-digital capture movie.

Frozen

Frozen

Frozen is one of the most iconic animated movies to be released in the recent years. It is loosely based on the story ‘The Snow Queen’ by famous fantasy writer Hans Christian Anderson. It is centered around two sisters- Elsa and Anna. At a young age, Elsa is born with snow-based powers she has difficulty controlling. An argument with Anna causes her to lose control of her powers. Scared, she flees, accidently setting off an eternal winter in their kingdom. Anna, along with an iceman Kristoff, his reindeer Sven and a snowman Olaf set out on a journey to find Elsa and stop the winter.

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 is the third movie in the Toy Story movie franchise. The story is set a few days before Andy, the owner of the toys leaves for college. However, the toys accidently get moved to a day-care centre rather than the attic of Andy’s house. At its core, Toy Story 3 is a simple narration of moving on and learning to say goodbye.

5 Classic Reads with a Female Protagonist

For a long time, the main protagonist in a book was a male. As reflected in the patriarchal values of times long gone, women were relegated to either secondary background roles or as love interest or a role relative to the male lead. Gradually, as the times began to change, more and more authors started giving female characters the spotlight too, until literature finally breached the gender divide with the inclusion of women protagonists. Particularly, books with young female leads and their experiences became popular.

Here are 5 classic stories with a young female protagonist you must read:

The Anne of Green Gables series

The Anne of Green Gables series

Ever since its first published book (Anne of Green Gables), the Anne of Green Gables series has been considered a popular classic, with the titular character Anne Shirley becoming one of the most popular female protagonists in literary history. The Anne of Green Gables series is written by the Canadian author Lucy Mond Montgomery (published as L.M. Montgomery). The series follows the story of Anne Shirley, an orphan taken in by middle-aged siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The series follows her life and experiences with others as she grows up.

A Little Princess

A Little Princess

A Little Princess is another popular classic, and has a high-ranking book in a number of surveys. It is written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a popular children’s writer A Little Princess follows the story of young Sara Crewe, a kind young girl sent to a lavish boarding school. The death of her father sees her fall into poverty and being treated horribly by the headmistress and her peers. Yet, Sara does not lose her kind and generous personality. A Little Princess is, at its heart, a story about staying strong in the face of adversity.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, commonly known as the Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic literature pieces to come from the United States of America. The Wizard of Oz is written by Frank L. Baum, who went on to become one of the United States’ prolific children’s book writers with his Wizard of Oz series. The story follows Dorothy, who along with her dog Toto get caught up in a cyclone which transports them to a mysterious and magical land called Oz. Dorothy and Toto, along with their new allies, a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodman and a Cowardly Lion embark on a journey to find the powerful Wizard of Oz, the only one who can solve their problems.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm is written by Kate Douglas Wiggins, an American author for children. The story follows Rebecca Randall, who is sent to live with her mother’s sisters at their farm. The story follows her experiences with them and her journey from a child to a young lady, gaining knowledge and wisdom along the way.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland requires no introduction. Though primarily made for children, its story appeals to adults to, even in this age. It is one of the world’s most popular stories and has been adapted multiple times in different formats. It follows the story of Alice, a young girl who follows a mysterious rabbit down a rabbit-hole to a magical fantasy world and follows her adventures there.

Enid Blyton’s Best Series

When English children’s literature is discussed, the name Enid Blyton is bound to be brought up sooner or later. Enid Blyton was a British author who is known worldwide for her books targeted towards children. Even today, decades after her death, her books can still be found in the children’s section of libraries across the world even today. Out of the numerous books she’s written, she is most famed for her series. They span various genres like fantasy, boarding school slice of life as well as mysteries.

Out of Enid Blyton’s book series, these are her most popular five ones:

The Famous Five series

The Famous Five series

The Famous Five is centered around siblings Julian, Dick, Anne and their cousin Georgina and her dog Timothy. The series is set during their school vacations and follows various adventures the Five experience in the English countryside.

The St. Clare’s series

The St. Clare’s series

The St. Clare’s series is the second school boarding school-based series written by Enid Blyton after the Naughtiest Girl series. The story follows two twin girls- Patricia and Isabel O’Sullivan and their journey as well as the journey of their friends and schoolmates at the boarding school of St. Clare’s. The series sees their growth from conceited and arrogant girls to dignified and kind young women. While the original series contained only 6 books, author Pamela Cox, who was responsible for continuing Enid Blyton’s unfinished works after her death, added 3 more titles to the series.

The Secret Seven series

The Secret Seven series

The Secret Seven series follows the adventures of a group of seven children- Peter, his sister Janet, and their friends Pam, Barbara, Jack, Colin and George. The friends form a secret group, which they call the Secret Seven and solve mysteries together. The Secret Seven is one of Enid Blyton’s rare series in which the characters do not attend boarding school; all seven of the children are shown to be attending day school. Coincidentally, the Secret Seven group is based on a real group of friends. Enid Blyton’s publisher’s son Peter and his friends had a ‘secret’ group of their own; they even possessed badges with the inscription of ‘SS’ on them. Enid Blyton exchanged correspondence with this Peter and through his help laid the foundation of the Secret Seven. In 2018 and 2019, two new books, written by author Pamela Butchart were officially added to the Secret Seven series.

The Malory Towers series

The Malory Towers series

The Malory Towers series is Enid Blyton’s third school boarding school series. It follows the story of Darrell Rivers over her years spent at the boarding school of Malory Towers. The original series written by Enid Blyton consists of 6 books. In the year 2009, there was an official continuation to the series. Written by Pamela Cox, the books were a continuation of Darrell’s younger sister, Felicity’s life at Malory Towers.

The Five Find-Outers series

The Five Find-Outers series

The Five Find-Outers series is another children-based detective series by Enid Blyton. It follows the adventures of Fatty, Larry, Pip, Daisy, Bets and Fatty’s dog Buster and the various mysteries they get entangled in and trying to solve it before the local policeman Mr. Goon.

Enid Blyton: A Titan of Children’s Literature

 Introduction

When it comes to children’s books, probably no other English author can come close to the popularity of Enid Blyton. Enid Mary Blyton is one of Britain’s most popular authors, with numerous publications of stories, poems and plays targeted towards children.

Early life

Enid Blyton was born on the 11th of August 1897 in the eastern part of Dulwich in London, England. Her father was a salesman while her mother was a homemaker. She was the eldest of three siblings, having two younger brothers. As a child, she adored her father and shared a special bond with him. Her father had a keen interest in music, literature, theatre, gardening and nature. These interests were passed to her as well. Her father eventually walked out of the family when she was thirteen. This incident and its effects put a blow on her relationship with him and worsened her relationship with her mother. Unfortunately, Enid would never try to repair either relationship and remained distant the rest of her life.

In the September of 1916, she decided to enroll in a teacher training course at Ipswich High School, Ipswich. After finishing and getting her degree in 1918, she taught in a boys-school for a brief amount of time, before working as a nursery governess. She finally started writing as a profession in 1920.

Career

Enid Blyton showed an interest in writing from a young age. At the age of 14, she made her first foray into the literary world through a poetry competition. Her first publication was in March 1916 with a poetry submission in a children’s magazine called Nash’s Magazine. She actively started writing in 1920 and her work began to be noticed by quite a few publications. Her first published book was a twenty-four-page collection of poems. It was called Child Whispers and was published in 1922. She gained momentum as a writer in 1923, when her work of poems was published in the publication Teachers’ World alongside famous writers like Rudyard Kipling, Walter de la Mare and G.K. Chesterton.

Her first full length book and first series was Adventures of the Wishing Chair of the ‘Wishing Chair’ series. It was published in 1937. This would see the beginning of several of her famous series of books such as fantasy series like the Faraway Tree series and Wishing Chair series, the boarding school series like the Naughtiest Girl series, the St. Clare series, and the Malory Towers series along with detective series like the Secret Seven series, the Famous Five series and the Secret series. They continue to be popular and a sight seen in children’s section of libraries even today.

Apart from writing books, Enid Blyton was also had regular columns in magazines where she wrote about the mundane aspects of her life, along with her observations of her surrounding nature, an interest she had since childhood.

Death

In her mid-sixties, Enid Blyton began to show symptoms of dementia. She spent the final months of her life in a nursing home in London and passed away on the 28th of November 1968.   

Akshay Kumar : 5 Movies to Watch

Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia, known more by his popular name of Akshay Kumar is one of Bollywood’s most popular actors and a household name. Apart from being an actor, Akshay Kumar is also a producer, martial artist and television personality. Akshay Kumar is a certified black belt in Taekwondo, and learnt the martial art ‘Muay Thai’ while in Thailand. After returning from Thailand Akshay took up teaching martial arts. However, his childhood dream of becoming an actor never left him. One of his student’s parents recommended him for a modelling assignment. Akshay Kumar then decided to take up modelling as a career. A missed flight for an ad-shoot led him to visit a film studio with his portfolio. He was than scouted by a producer and the rest is history.

Akshay Kumar is primarily known for his action and comedy roles. His proficiency in martial arts has led to him performing his own stunts in his action movies. This has also given him the nickname of the ‘Indian Jackie Chan’. He has been praised by multiple critics as well as the general public for his acting and action stunts. He is also praised for his movies with a social message. According to the star, he feels that it is his way of giving back to society by making use of his stardom to communicate with and educate the masses.

Five of Akshay Kumar’s best films are:

Welcome

Welcome

Akshay Kumar’s comedy acting is always a delight to see. Welcome gives a good showcase of this. The story follows the shenanigans Rajiv (played by Akshay Kumar) and his family and friends become entangled in when he decides to wed Sanjana (played by Katrina Kaif), the sister of two dangerous mafia leaders (played by Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor). The movie is filled with humor and has scenes which will have you in stitches. The comedy-duo of Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal bring smiles to your face with this movie.

Bhool Bhulaiya

Bhool Bhulaiya

If you ever thought that having a horror-comedy movie wouldn’t work out, Bhool Bhulaiya is here to prove you wrong. Although both horror and comedy seem like two genres which wouldn’t work out well in a movie together, Bhool Bhulaiya manages to pull it of spectacularly. Akshay Kumar plays a psychiatrist who gets called by a friend to help solve inexplicable incidences occurring at his ancestral home.

Hera Pheri

Hera Pheri

Considered a Bollywood classic and one of the best Bollywood comedy movies, Hera Pheri is one of Akshay Kumar’s most known films. The story follows three unemployed men searching for an issue for their lack of money. A solution soon arrives, but it may be more than what they bargained for. The movie stars Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty and Paresh Rawal.

Baby

Baby

Baby is a spy thriller movie. It follows the story of a special group of Indian spies, who under an operation called ‘Baby’ are on the hunt to catch an international terrorist and prevent terror attacks in India. Baby is engaging and keeps you guessing and on your toes throughout its run. Multiple critics have described Baby as a gritty and compelling movie, with praise for the acting and direction.

Mary Kom: The Living Legend

Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom, popularly known as Mary Kom, is a Manipuri boxer and undoubtedly India’s most and one of the world’s most accomplished female boxers in modern times. Her various accomplishments and her boxing prowess have given her the nickname of ‘Magnificent Mary’, a nickname very fitting for her.

Mary was born in Kangathei village, Moirang Lamkhai in the Churachandpur district of Manipur on the 24th of November, 1982. She hails from a family of farmers and is the eldest of three children; with her having a younger brother and a sister. Throughout her school years, Mary extensively took part in athletics and played many sports; with a special interest in javelin and running. All this changed in 1998. Her fellow statesman, Dingko Singh had just returned from the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games with a Gold medal. Mary, like many other Manipuri youth was inspired by him and decided to give boxing a try. She moved to Imphal and started serious boxing training under the then Manipur State Boxing Coach, M. Narjit Singh. She kept her boxing training a secret from her family, as her father previously had voiced his concern that while boxing her face may get spoiled, thereby ruining her chances of marriage. In the year 2000, she won the state boxing championship, as a result of which she was featured in the newspaper. This led to her family finding out about her career as a boxer. This, along with her love for boxing caused her father to give her his whole hearted support.

Mary Kom’s career is filled with numerous accomplishments, medals and records. Mary’s major achievements and records are:

  • The only female to win the World Amateur Boxing Championship six times
  • The only female boxer to have won a medal in all the first seven World Championships
  • The only boxer, either male or female, to win eight medals at the World Championships
  • The world’s No. 1 female light-flyweight by the International Boxing Association (amateur) [AIBA]
  • The only boxer to win the Asian Amateur Boxing Championship 6 times
  • The only female Indian boxer who qualified for the 2012 London Olympics
  • The first Indian female boxer to win a gold medal at the Asian Games (2014 Incheon Games)
  • The first female Indian boxer to win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games (2018 Gold Coast Games)

Mary Kom received a Padma Shri in 2006, and a Padma Bhushan in 2013. On 25th April 2016, she was appointed as a member of the Rajya Sabha. In March 2017, she was appointed by the Indian Ministry of Youth and Sports as a national observer for boxing. On the 11th of December 2018, the Government of Manipur bestowed upon her the title of ‘Meethoi Leima’ (exceptional lady). She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2006 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013. On the 25th of January 2020, Mary Kom was awarded with the Padma Vibhushan. She was declared as a female representative of boxing’s athlete ambassadors’ group for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  

Mirabai Chanu: India’s Newest Olympic Medalist

On the 24th of July, 2021, history was made at the Tokyo International Forum. Saikhom Mirabai Chanu just won India her first medal in the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the category of Weightlifting in Women’s 49 kg by claiming the silver medal and earning India it’s highest and second medal in weightlifting after Karnam Malleswari’s bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Saikhom Mirabai Chanu was born on the 8th of August, 1994 at Nongpok Kakching. It is a village around 30 kms to the east of Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. She belongs to the Meitei, an ethnic group of people who are native of Manipur. Her family consists of her parents and five other siblings; three sisters and two brothers. Her father is a government employee contracted with the publics work department, while her mother sells samosas. Out of all their children, Mirabai was the only child who decided to pursue sports as a profession. Her athletic prowess came to light in her early childhood. According to her mother, a young Mirabai, then in class 6 had told her that she would one day play in the Khuman Lampak Stadium While Mirabai initially wanted to pursue archery, she was unable to do so due to her lack of height (Mirabai Chanu is 4”11). Her weightlifting prowess was known since her early childhood, as a twelve-year-old Mirabai had no difficulty in lifting and carrying weights which even her elder brother had difficulty in trying to pick up. This weightlifting prowess of her inspired her to take up the sport of weightlifting.

Mirabai Chanu with her family
Mirabai Chanu with her family

Mirabai’s first major win in her career as a weightlifter came in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. She competed in the Women’s 48 kg category and won the silver medal. While Mirabai qualified for and competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, she was unsuccessful in her endeavor. However, she made a stunning comeback from that defeat the next year in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships in the Women’s 48 kg category. She won two medals: Gold and Silver. Mirabai won Gold by lifting 109 kg in Clean and Jerk and Silver by lifting 85 kg in Snatch. Her total lifting of lifting 194 kg in total created a record.

Mirabai winning Gold at the  2017 World Weightlifting Championships
Mirabai winning Gold at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships

In the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Mirabai won the first medal with a Gold medal by lifting a total of 196 kg; 110 kg in Clean and Jerk and 85 kg in Snatch. This set a new record for the Commonwealth Games in her weight category. In the 2019 World Weightlifting Championship, Mirabai set a new national record in Women’s 49 kg by lifting a total of 201 kg (87 kg Snatch and 114 kg Clean and Jerk). On the 17th of April 2021, at the 2020 Asian Weightlifting Championship, she set a new world record for Clean and Jerk by lifting 119 kg. She won a bronze medal here. By June 2021, she was second in the rankings for Women’s 49 kg and was the only Indian weightlifter who qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mirabai's Gold medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games
Mirabai’s Gold medal at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

On the 24th of July 2021, Mirabai won the Silver medal in the Women’s 49 kg category by lifting 202 kg and created history. She succeeded Karnam Malleswari as the second Indian woman weightlifter to win an Olympic medal. Mirabai holds the honor of winning the highest medal in the weightlifting category in the Olympics that India has ever won. She also set a new Olympic record in the Clean and Jerk category by lifting 115 kg.

Mirabai's historical Silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Mirabai’s historical Silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Mirabai has stated that her triumph at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is a ‘dream come true’ for her.

Five Things To See In Albania

Officially known as the Republic of Albania, Albania is a Balkan country located in southeastern Europe. Albania has a very diverse landscape. On one side, the country has the snowy peaks of the Albanian Alps while on the other, the country has the numerous tropical and sunny beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. This variance in the topography has not only lead to a variance in climate, but given rise to a lot of tourists spots.

Compared to its neighbors, Albania is relatively cheaper to visit, while offering similar views and experiences. Albania’s currency is the Albanian Lek and the conversion rate between them is 1 Indian Rupee equaling to 1.39 Albanian Lek. The months from March to June are the best time to visit Albania. Albania has a very rich history owing to it being inhabited by various civilizations over the centuries. This, along with its diverse landscape makes Albania a good tourist location. Whether for its history, natural beauty, or leisure, Albania offers them all.

Here are five places you must check out in Albania!

BUNK’ART

BUNK’ART

BUNK’ART is a series of museums of renovated former bunkers located in and about Tirana, the capital city of Albania. They were built by the former dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha. It currently serves as a five floor art and history museum and displays the lifestyle in Albania during the 45 years it was under communism.

Mount Dajti

Mount Dajti

Located on the edge of Tirana, Mount Dajti, a designated national park is a paradise for nature lovers. It is filled with forests of different trees like pine and oak. Apart from that, other geographical features seen here are waterfalls, caves, lakes, canyons and an ancient castle too! It is a dream for hikers. For the less adventurous, there is a beautiful cable car line with scenic view of the slopes of Mount Dajti and Tirana city.

Berat

Berat

Berat is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture of the buildings is rich due to various civilizations making the city their home and leaving their mark on it through the architecture. This has given the city the nickname of the ‘City With a Thousand Windows’. The Berat castle is the city’s main attraction.

Gjirokaster

Gjirokaster

Gjirokaster is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The older part of the town has homes with roofs of flat stones. This has given it the nickname of the ‘City of Stone’. The town is overlooked by the Gjirokaster Fortress. The Gjirokaster National Folklore Festival is held here every five years. The latest edition of the festival (the eleventh season), originally scheduled for 2020 was rescheduled to 1st May-8th May, 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

Schkoder

Schkoder
From Rozafa Castle

Schkoder is considered to be the cultural capital of Albania. It has various structures of historical importance like Rozafa Castle, the Shirgj Church, the Mesi Bridge, the Lead Mosque and the nearby ruins of Shurdhah island. The Lake of Schkoder, which happens to be the largest lake in South Europe, is also a tourist attraction for both visitors as well as locals; especially during the summer.

Green Buildings

The Need for Green Buildings

It is an often overlooked and uncommonly known fact that infrastructure like buildings also contribute to the environment strain. Both the construction of buildings as well as their maintenance require the consumption of a lot of electricity, water, energy, as well as raw materials and the like.  They also contribute to emissions released into the environment. According to data from the year 2018, buildings and their related activities had a contribution of around 28 % of the world’s total CO2  emissions. Apart from the environmental aspect, there is the human aspect as well. Often construction workers develop respiratory diseases due to the inhalation of toxic fumes as well as particles let out by the materials used in construction. This situation can be improved by designing sustainable, green buildings.

The Concept of Green Buildings

Green buildings are sustainable infrastructure. They are planned in such a way that right from their design, to other steps such as construction and operation in order to minimize consumption of various resources like energy, water, materials, etc. and make them more efficient. It maintains and improves the quality of the environment in the surrounding area. The important factors to be considered during the planning of a green building are:

  • To maintain a natural habitat in the surrounding areas. Often green buildings have greenery grown in them too
  • To not build in any area which might be even slightly environmentally sensitive
  • To reduce the consumption of natural resources
  • To reduce the amount of water used during building construction
  • To try and reduce the water footprint of the building
  • To reduce energy consumption
  • To use renewable energy
  • To increase the energy efficiency of the building
  • To use sustainable and non-toxic materials in the construction phase
  • To implement and promote recycling technologies in the buildings
  • To design the building in such a way, that it remains durable for as long as possible
  • To create buildings which are adaptable and resilient to various climatic changes and conditions

Evaluation of Green Buildings

With an increase in interest and infrastructure in green buildings, there arose a need to have some sort of regulatory body to oversee the making of standards for the evaluation of green buildings. Both worldwide as well as domestically, regulatory bodies were created to evaluate activities related to green buildings and confer certificates. The granting of these certificates depends on the specific criteria declared by each respective authority.

In India, the Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) is the regulatory authority overseeing green buildings. It is a joint set-up by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and the Government of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). GRIHA has multiple types of rating standards for different conditions and building types and infrastructure. They can be viewed here: https://www.grihaindia.org/

Examples of Green Infrastructure

In India:

Suzlon One Earth, Pune

Suzlon One Earth, Pune

Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad

Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad

CII- Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre, Hyderabad

CII- Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre, Hyderabad

Internationally:

Olympic House (IOC Headquarters), Lausanne, Switzerland

Olympic House (IOC Headquarters), Lausanne, Switzerland

One Central Park, Sydney, Australia

One Central Park, Sydney, Australia

Amherst College Science Centre, Amherst, Massachusetts

Amherst College Science Centre, Amherst, Massachusetts

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is a 2017 movie released on the 3rd of November. It is an action-adventure superhero movie and is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Thor: Ragnarok is the third part of the ‘Thor’ series, preceeded by Thor (2011) and its sequel, Thor: The Dark World (2013). It is directed by Taika Waititi and stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum in main roles. It is written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher L. Yost.

The story follows a reunited Thor and Loki as, along with the Hulk and a new ally Valkyrie, they attempt to escape the planet Sakaar in order to save their home Asgard from their tyrannical sister Hela and save their realm from the prophesied armageddon of Ragnarok. The movie cast sees Chris Hemsworth reprise his role as Thor the God of Thunder, Tom Hiddleston reprise the role of Loki, God of Mischief and Thor’s younger brother and Mark Ruffalo reprise his role of the Hulk. The franchise sees new additions to the cast in the form of Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson and Cate Blanchett. Tessa Thompson plays the role of Valkyrie, a former Asgardian warrior who once fought against Hela and now lives as an enforcer on Sakaar. Jeff Goldblum plays the Grandmaster, the ruler of Sakaar who imprisons Thor. Cate Blanchett plays the role of Hela, the Goddess of Death and Odin’s firstborn daughter whose ambition is to take over the Nine Realms.

When Thor: Ragnarok was released, it caused quite a lot of discussions between Marvel fans due to the general nature and tone of the movie. Both Thor as well as Thor: The Dark World had a comparatively serious undertone. Thor: Ragnarok is the exact opposite. Thor: Ragnarok is colorful, bright, loud and filled with moments that will have you in stitches. The action sequences in the movie are very good and never feel over-the-top. The entire main cast has done a fantastic job and portrayed their characters wonderfully. The characters themselves are fleshed out and the main quartet of Thor, Loki, the Hulk and Valkyrie have good chemistry with each other. Thor: Ragnarok was well received by both the public as most critics.

Thor Ragnarok cast
The main cast of Thor: Ragnarok with director Taika Waititi

According to director Taika Waititi, many of the movie dialogues, 80 % in his words, are actually improvised. This ended up working out quite well for the movie, as a few of the improvised lines have become iconic and served to enhance the movie experience. The “Get Help” scene was improvised on-the-spot by Chris Hemsworth. It went on to become a fan-favorite scene from the movie. The “He’s a friend from work!” dialogue was an input from a child who had visited the set of Thor: Ragnarok through the ‘Make A Wish’ Foundation. The childhood snake scene was once again an improvisation by Chris Hemsworth.

Get Help scene
The ‘Get Help’ scene
Friend from work
“He’s a friend from work!”
Snake incident
The childhood snake incident

The next installment of the Thor series and the direct successor to Thor: Ragnarok is currently titled Thor: Love and Thunder. It is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four and will be released on the 6th of May, 2022.  

The MCU: Phase Three

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a superhero media franchise of different types of media such as movies, television series, digital series among various others, produced and managed by Marvel Studios. They are based on the superhero comics produced by Marvel Comics. The MCU is a shared universe, i.e., all the superhero series take place in the same universe. This leads to different characters from different series crossing paths with each other, and different storylines affecting each other. Currently, the MCU has three complete phases: MCU Phase One, MCU Phase Two and MCU Phase Three. Each phase has its own set of movies. According to popular opinion, Phase Three is generally considered to be the best out of the three. It also marks the conclusion of the current MCU storyline. The current order of watching MCU Phase Three movies are:

  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Doctor Strange (2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  • Captain Marvel (2019)
  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

MCU Phase Three is filled with any excellent movies. Plot-wise, character-wise, action-wise and character-wise, each movie is a delight to watch. These three movies are the best of MCU Phase Three:

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok

When Thor: Ragnarok was released, Marvel fans all over the world were surprised. While the two previous Thor movies had a serious tone, Thor: Ragnarok is filled with bright humor. It follows Thor and Loki as they, along with the Hulk and a new ally Valkyrie, try to save and reclaim their home Asgard from the forced rule of their estranged sister, Hela. The movie stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Cate Blanchett as Hela.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel’s release in 2019 marked the first standalone feature for a female hero in Marvel, with an entire movie dedicated to her. Captain Marvel follows the story of Vers, a Kree soldier who’s crash landing on Earth shakes up her entire world. Along with Nick Fury and her friend Maria Rambeau, she must now fight against those she once held dear, including her mentor Yon-Rogg, and goes on to become one of the strongest heroes in the galaxy. The movie stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Sameul L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau and Jude Law as Yon-Rogg.

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame

One of the most highly anticipated movies of the year, Avengers: Endgame was a direct sequel to Avengers: Infinity War, and continued immediately from where it concluded. Avengers: Endgame brings back the avengers and their allies, some old while some new, in a final glorious battle as they take their last stand against Thanos and attempt to restore the universe back to normal. The movie marks the conclusion of the ‘Infinity Saga’ of the MCU, along with character conclusion acts of a few important characters and opens up the next saga of the MCU.

MCU Phase Two’s Top Three Movies

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a superhero media franchise of different types of media such as movies, television series, digital series among various others, produced and managed by Marvel Studios. They are based on the superhero comics produced by Marvel Comics. The MCU is a shared universe, i.e., all the superhero series take place in the same universe. This leads to different characters from different series crossing paths with each other, and different storylines affecting each other. Currently, the MCU has three complete phases: MCU Phase One, MCU Phase Two and MCU Phase Three. Each phase has its own set of movies. The watching order of MCU Phase Two movies are:

  • Iron Man 3 (2013)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
  • Ant-Man (2015)

Without further ado, here is MCU’s Phase Two’s top three movies:

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

If the Earth has the Avengers, outer space has the Guardians of the Galaxy. Peter Quill, an intergalactic smuggler, Gamora, an assassin by trade, bounty hunter Rocket, a genetically-engineered racoon and his partner Groot, a tree-like humanoid along with Drax, a warrior all find themselves brought together by a mysterious Orb. This unlikely rag-tag group must then team up together to prevent the tyrannical war criminal Ronan from obtaining the orb to prevent the whole galaxy from being destroyed. The movie stars Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, Gamora as Zoe Saldanha, Rocket Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as Groot, and Lee Pace as Ronan. Each of the actors have put up a splendid performance. The movie is peppered with humor, a signature of the Guardians of the Galaxy series; even in its serious moments, however, it never feels forced or out of place. The movie is enjoyable from start to finish and has you rooting for this found family.

Ant -Man

Ant -Man

Released in 2015, Ant-Man is the story of a fugitive turned superhero. The story follows Scott Lang, recently released from prison, who after numerous failed jobs, breaks into the house of a scientist Hank Pym. Instead of finding any valuables, he finds a suit which is able to shrink him in size. Now scared, he attempts to flee but is arrested and then broken out by none other than Hank Pym. Scott, along with Hank and his daughter Hope van Dyne finds himself in a plot to commit the heist of the Yellowjacket, a similar suit made by Pym’s protégé Darren Cross and prevent it from being sold to the criminal group Hydra. The movie stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man, Evangeline Lily as Hope van Dyne, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym and Corey Stoll as Darren Cross. The movie is fun to watch, with both hilarious as well as heartfelt moments, and Paul Rudd’s portrayal of Scott Lang is stunning.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Set two years after the events of The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier explores Steve Rogers acclimatizing to life in the modern world, when he gets entangled in a conspiracy theory involving S.H.I.E.L.D. Along with Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s director, the Black Widow Natasha Romanoff and the Falcon Sam Wilson, he must unearth the secret that threatens S.H.I.E.LD. along with a mysterious assassin known as the Winter Soldier with a connection to his past. The movie stars Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow and Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson. The movie has very good action scenes and the plot always keeps you guessing as to what comes next.

The MCU Phase One and its Top 3 Movies

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a superhero media franchise of different types of media such as movies, television series, digital series among various others, produced and managed by Marvel Studios. They are based on the superhero comics produced by Marvel Comics. The MCU is a shared universe, i.e., all the superhero series take place in the same universe. This leads to different characters from different series crossing paths with each other, and different storylines affecting each other. Currently, the MCU has three complete phases: MCU Phase One, MCU Phase Two and MCU Phase Three. Each phase has its own set of movies. The current order of watching MCU Phase One movies are:

  • Iron Man (2008)
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • Thor (2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
  • Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Without further ado, here is MCU’s Phase One’s top three movies:

Marvel’s The Avengers

The Avengers

First in ranking is The Avengers; the culmination of MCU Phase One. It features a dream team of super heroes comprising of Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye, as they work to prevent Thor’s younger brother Loki, along with an alien race known as the Chitauri from taking control over the Earth. The cast comprises of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Tom Hiddleston as Loki. It is directed by Joss Whedon.

Thor

Thor

Released in 2011, Thor follows the story of Asgardian prince Thor, who after an unsuccessful and arrogant attack on the neighboring realm of Jotunheim, gets stripped of his powers and banished from his home realm of Asgard to the realm of Midgard, otherwise known as Earth. He meets and befriends humans, and learns how to act with humility and re-discover himself, all the while as a sinister plot enacted by his younger brother Loki involving Jotunheim looms in the background. The movie stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, a scientist and Thor’s potential love interest. It is directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America

Captain America: The First Avenger is set during the Second World War. The movie follows the journey of a young, weak man named Steve Rogers. He, along with his childhood friend James ‘Bucky’ Barnes decides to enlist in the American military. His weak physiology and health however ends up being a reason for him to be rejected. His unwavering resolve to serve his country during the wartime sees him becoming a volunteer to become an enhanced ‘super-soldier’. He then finds himself in conflict with Hydra, a Nazi science division and their leader, Red Skull. The movie stars Chris Evans as Captain America-Steve Rogers, Sebastian Stan as his childhood friend and later fellow comrade-in-arms James ‘Bucky’ Barnes and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, an officer attached to the Strategic Scientific Reserve and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull.

Technology and the Environment

How technology can play a role with respect to the environment:

The development of various types of technology in today’s time has given rise to more convenience and efficiency. Technology can be used to properly understand and address important challenges like climate change, degradation of the environment, scarcity of food, management of waste, along with other important global issues and challenges. Data can be consolidated and stored in various information systems online in the form of comprehensive portals. These portals can then be accessed by academicians, scientists, students, environmentalists, and anyone else as they need it. These expansive databases can cover a variety of areas such as wildlife conservation databases, marine flora databases, forest cover databases and the like.

A few technology systems which can be used for the betterment of the environment are:

  • Remote Sensing
  • Google Earth
  • Geographical Information System (GIS)
  • The World Wide Web
  • The database ENVIS: Environmental Information System

Remote Sensing

Remote sensing

Remote Sensing refers to obtaining information of a place from a distance. In this process, the physical characteristics of an area are detected and further monitored through the measurement of its reflected and emitted radiation. This is carried out with the help of remote sensors on satellites. A few applications of remote sensing are:

  • Finding out temperature changes in the ocean and air
  • Tracking changes in forested land
  • Making weather predictions

Google Earth

Google Earth

Google Earth is a map which gives three-dimensional views of the earth with the assistance of satellite imaging and other types of aerially conducted photography. Presently, Google Earth covers around 98% of the earth’s surface. Google earth doesn’t just cover land but also water. Through the use of Google Earth, it is possible to view below the surface of marine bodies and view the ocean floor by the method of bathymetry (study of the underwater depth of an ocean or lake floor).

Geographical Information System (GIS)

Geographical Information System (GIS)

The Geographical Information System is a spatial system which creates, manages, analyzes, organizes and maps different types of geographic data. Using the GIS software, it is possible to visually analyze a large volume of data. Through the usage of GIS, it is possible to bring together and integrate information from varying sources of information and have efficient data distribution and management. It can be used efficiently for Environmental Impact Assessment.

The World Wide Web (WWW)

World Wide Web (WWW)

The WWW is a collection of many electronic documents of varying types. It provides various types of resources about the environment, from journal reports and articles to animations and is available to a wide variety of people, right from students, to scientists to government officials. It provides, free, convenient, accessible, evolving and the latest information.

Database: ENVIS

ENVIS

ENVIS is a database known as the Environmental Information System. It was created by the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests in 1983. Its goal is to collect environmental information, along with its subsequent organization, storage, recovery and distribution. The role of ENVIS is to provide people like policy makers, researchers and the like with environmental information.

Kahaani: A Review

Kahaani was released on the 9th of March, 2012. It is a thriller movie. It is directed by Sujoy Ghosh and stars Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in titular roles. The original plot of the movie has come from the director, Sujoy Ghosh himself. He has co-written the script along with Advaita Kala. Set in Kolkata against the backdrop of the Durga Pooja, the film’s story follows the search Vidya Bagchi (played by Vidya Balan), a pregnant woman carries out in search of her missing husband, with the assistance of Kolkata police officer Satyoki ‘Rana’ Sinha (played by Parambrata Chatterjee) and Intelligence Bureau agent Khan (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui).

Kahaani is a very well-written movie. The story never becomes dull, and keeps you guessing right until the end. The plot twists and turns continuously, right until its shocking climax amid the Durga Pooja celebrations. All the characters have substance to them and make their presence felt in the plot, right from the main cast to the supporting cast. Vidya Balan has been amazing in her portrayal of the protagonist, Vidya Bagchi, seeming to effortlessly capture her strength and vulnerability. The character who will steal your heart, however, is none other than Satyoki ‘Rana’ Sinha. Parambrata Chatterjee has portrayed the kind and innocent police officer effortlessly. Nawazuddin Siddiqui has been perfect as the no-nonsense, ruthless Khan; with him giving a very raw performance. Saswata Chatterjee has given a wonderful performance as the chilling Bob Biswas.

The movie has been shot exclusively in Kolkata. Most of its cast is comprised of local Bengali actors. The director Sujoy Ghosh has expertly made a natural use of the topography and people of Kolkata to give the scenes a more authentic by employing the use of guerilla filmmaking. The filmography has been praised by multiple critics and movie-goers, to the point that some consider even Kolkata the city as a character in the movie.

Kahaani was a box office success. Produced on a budget of 80 million Rupees, it went on to earn a worldwide earning of around 1.04 billion Rupees after a fifty-day cinema run. The movie was praised by multiple critics for its refreshing storyline, fleshed out characters, as well as, use of the city of Kolkata in furthering the narrative. The movie, along with its director and cast has been nominated for various awards. Vidya Balan, in particular, earned may awards due to her stunning portrayal of Vidya Bagchi. The film has in total won twenty-eight awards. In the 58th Filmfare Awards, it won five out of six awards it was nominated in. Sujoy Ghosh and Vidya Balan have won multiple Best Director and Best Lead Actress awards respectively for their performance in the movie. In the 60th National Film Awards, it won Sujoy Ghosh Best Screenplay (Original), Namrata Rao Best Editing and Nawazuddin Siddiqui a Special Jury Award.

Kahaani has a ‘spiritual’ sequel in the form of the 2016 released Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh. In 2020, a spin-off of the movie, named Bob Biswas, was announced.

Sustainable Development: An Overview

The Concept of Sustainable Development

The term ‘Sustainable Development’ was created in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). The creation Sustainable Development is a concept in which human society lives in such a way it meets its own present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to come to meet their own needs. Sustainable development is achieved when there is a healthy balance between environment sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. Environment sustainability focuses on continued environmental quality. Social sustainability focuses on human rights, equality, cultural identity, cultural diversity, and rights and equality of people belonging to different races and religions. Economic sustainability focuses on the maintenance of human, natural and social capital which is needed for proper standards of living and income. A balance between all three, ensuring that no other factor is imbalanced or ignored, is what brings about true sustainable development. According to the concept of sustainable development, the regeneration or creation of a resource must be greater than its degeneration or usage. Sustainable development ensures that biodiversity is maintained and preserved.

A few examples of methods and activities which can contribute to sustainable development are:

  • Crop rotation
  • Using wind energy
  • Using solar energy
  • Creating green spaces

Components of Sustainable Development:

As mentioned previously, sustainable development has three components: Environmental sustainability, Social sustainability and Economical sustainability. A few ways they can be achieved are:

Environmental Sustainability:

  • Practice the 3Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
  • Reduction of emissions released into the environment
  • Reduction or elimination of substances toxic to the environment

Social Sustainability:

  • Ensuring health and safety of local populace
  • Helping out disadvantaged or sidelined communities to progress
  • Improving the basic quality of life everyone should have
  • Ensuring that there is no negative effect or impact on small communities, tribal groups and the like

Economical Sustainability:

  • Creating new markets
  • Creating new sale growth opportunities
  • Improving efficiency
  • Reducing the quantity of raw materials required
  • Implementing cost reduction techniques of various kinds

 Goals for Sustainable Development:

UN Sustainable Goals

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda consists of seventeen sustainable development goals to be met by the year 2030. They are:

  1. No poverty– Extreme poverty for everyone will be eradicated
  2. Zero hunger– End hunger, end malnutrition and make food available to everyone
  3. Good health and well-being– Ensuring healthy lives and well-being of people across all age groups
  4. Quality education– Ensure that all children have access to free and quality primary and secondary education
  5. Gender equality– Empower women and girls and ensure they have fair and equal rights
  6. Clean water and sanitization– Ensuring clean and accessible drinking water to everyone
  7. Affordable and clean energy– Ensure universal access to affordable, modern energy and increase amount of renewable energy in use
  8. Decent work and economic growth– Creating job opportunities and decent jobs, along with achieving higher levels of economic productivity
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure– Developing reliable and sustainable infrastructure for all
  10. Reduced inequalities– Empower and promote inclusion of everyone
  11. Sustainable cities and communities– Ensure access of everyone to decent and affordable transport along with improving living conditions of the poor
  12. Responsible production and consumption– Implement sustainable management of resources and promoting the 3Rs
  13. Climate action– Ensure that climate change measures are brought to the forefront
  14. Life below water– Ensure the conservation of marine life and resources and ensure their sustainability
  15. Life on land– Ensure restoration and conservation of biodiversity, ecosystems and degraded land
  16. Peace and justice– Reduce all sorts of violence, end all sorts of violence and injustice towards children and ensure equal access to justice for everyone
  17. Partnerships for the goal– Strengthen support and co-operation among all countries at the international, national or regional level

Laugh Your Stress Away With These TV Shows

The current pandemic has been very stressful for many people around the world. Uncertainties in employment, increased job stress, academic stress and worry about the spread of the coronavirus and contracting the disease have been a few worries plaguing the minds of many people across the globe. Too much of stress and worrying is bad for both the physical well-being of the body and mental health of the psyche.

It is important to occasionally take a step back from the various problems and worries in life and destress. What better way to do it than with some laughter? The saying ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ is actually more than just that. Some of the benefits of laughter are:

  • It is a mood booster– Laughing releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones which are responsible for the feeling of happiness and pleasure. The more a person laughs, the more endorphins get produced, which consequently lead to more happiness
  • It protects the body from effects of stress– When you laugh, your body’s stress response gets activated and then gets reduced. This causes a increase and subsequent decrease in the blood pressure and the heart rate
  • It gives a boost to the immune system– Prolonged stress and tension can compromise the immune system. Laughter decreases its effects thus strengthening your immune system
  • It protects the heart– Laughing lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow and improves the functioning of blood vessels.

Laugh your way to good health with these five American sitcoms:

Friends

Promotional visual for Friends

No list of the best American sitcoms would be complete without this iconic series. ‘Friends’ narrates the story of a group of six friends – Monica Geller, Rachel Green, Phoebe Buffay, Joey Tribbiani, Chandler Bing and Ross Geller. The series follows their daily ups and downs. The series ran for a decade- from 1994 to 2004. Although some of the jokes and situations may be lost to a lack of relevancy in current times, the humorous situations the characters go through will make you laugh out loud.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Promotional visual for Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Ever thought that a comedy cop series couldn’t exist? Brooklyn Nine-Nine is here to prove you wrong! As the name suggests, it’s based in the fictional 99th precinct of Brooklyn, as follows the daily lives of a group of New York Police Department personnel. The shenanigans they get into will have you in stitches the whole time! Season 8, which will also be the final season, comes out on the 12th of August, you might want to catch up on the story till then!

Modern Family

Promotional visual for Modern Family

Tired of seeing dramatic family soap operas? Itching for a family-based show with laughter, heartfelt moments and light-heartedness? Give Modern Family a chance. The show follows the life of the families of Jay Pritchett, his daughter Claire Dunphy and his son Mitchell Pritchett. The show is filmed in a mockumentary style, which further enhances its comedic value.

The Big Bang Theory

Promotional visual for The Big Bang Theory

Love science? Love comedy too? Don’t worry, the Big Bang Theory’s got you covered! This sitcom is centered around five friends- physicists Sheldon Cooper and Leonard Hofstadter, their neighbor Penny who is an aspiring actress and their co-workers, astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali and aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz and the various humorous situations they experience with each other, their co-workers and other friends.

Young Sheldon

Promotional visual for Young Sheldon

Couldn’t get enough of the Big Bang Theory? Loved Sheldon? Did you want to know more about him and want to see more of him? Watch Young Sheldon! The series is a spin-off acting as a prequel to The Big Bang Theory. The show is a narration of Sheldon about his life as a kid. Follow the hilarious interactions of the child genius and socially inept Sheldon Cooper as he tries to navigate the world!

A Brief Insight on Renewable Energy Sources

The conventional and widely used energy sources of today comprise of various types of fossil fuels. The quantity of fossil fuels available is limited in number. Various harmful chemicals like Carbon monoxide (CO), Nitrogen oxides (NOx), Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and various other hydrocarbons are emitted by their usage. This makes them harmful to the environment and human health in the long run. The usage of such conventional energy sources has been a primary cause of global warming around the world.

This can be combated with the use of renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources are energy sources obtained from natural sources which are not limited in availability and replenish themselves quickly and regularly. This renewable energy is also known as green energy.

The different types of renewable energy are: Solar energy, Wind energy, Hydro energy, Geothermal energy and Marine energy.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is energy obtained from radiant heat and light obtained from the sun. This is done by the help of techniques such as photovoltaic systems, solar heating, artificial photosynthesis, concentrated solar power plants and the like. Obtained solar energy can then be converted to either thermal energy or electrical energy. It can also be used for the environment-friendly production of hydrogen.

Advantages of using solar energy are:

  • It is a renewable and green source of energy
  • Sunlight is not limited, therefore, there is no risk of running out of the source

Disadvantages of using solar energy are:

  • The process is weather dependent as it relies of the availability of sunlight. Thus, it also cannot be done at night
  • Solar energy systems take up a lot of space and are expensive

Wind Energy

Wind energy is energy which is obtained from mechanical action of the wind. This action is carried out with the help of wind turbines. Through the action of wind turbines, the kinetic energy of the wind gets converted into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy then gets converted into electricity.

Advantages of using wind energy are:

  • The whole process does not release any products harmful to either the environment or human health
  • It is a sustainable energy source

Disadvantages of using wind energy are:

  • Wind turbines can only be built in remote areas where large, unobstructed areas of land are available
  • The wind turbines may pose a risk to birdlife

Hydro Energy

Hydro energy is also known as hydroelectric energy. It is obtained from the construction of hydroelectric power plants in dams over flowing bodies of water like rivers. Similar to the functioning of wind turbines, hydraulic turbines transform the kinetic energy of flowing water into mechanical energy which is further used to create electricity.

Advantages of using hydro energy are:

  • Creation of hydro power plants helps in the creation of water reservoirs
  • It is not limited by time or the sun, i.e., it can be produced continuously

Disadvantages of using hydro energy are:

  • Creation of dams disrupts the water ecosystems
  • Hydro energy power plants can only be constructed over flowing water bodies and therefore are constrained by location

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is obtained from the heat generated from rocks in the Earth’s crust. This energy is harnessed by digging into the crust and using the heat to drive the movement of turbines which generate energy.

Advantages of using geothermal energy are:

  • It does not require any fuel
  • It does not require much maintenance

Disadvantages of using geothermal energy are:

  • It may cause earthquakes
  • The process of digging may cause the release of greenhouse gases from beneath the surface

Efforts should be made to research and explore renewable energies more for the creation of a healthier planet and lifestyle.

Biofuel and its Types: An Overview

Biofuel is a renewable fuel, which can be used as an alternative to fossil fuels. They are produced from biomass- plant or algae material or animal waste. These sources of biofuel are also known as feedstock. A few examples of feedstock used to produce biofuels are: Vegetable/ Edible Oils (like Canola oil, Safflower oil), Non-Edible Oils (like Almond oil, Salmon oil), Animal fat (Lard, Tallow) and other sources such as Algae, Fungi and Bacteria.

There are four categories in which Biofuels are classified. They are: First Generation, Second Generation, Third Generation and Fourth Generation.

  • First Generation Biofuels: They are made from starch, sugar or animal fats using conventional methods such as fermentation, distillation and transesterification. Hence, they are also called conventional biofuels.
  • Second Generation Biofuels: They are made from woody biomasses as well as agricultural residues and wastes like corn stalk and bagasse.
  • Third Generation Biofuels: They are made from oil extracted from algae.
  • Fourth Generation Biofuels: They are made from electro fuels and solar fuels. Electro fuels are obtained by storing electricity produced from renewable sources in the chemical bonds of liquid or gaseous fuels. Solar fuels are obtained from common materials (example: Carbon dioxide) by the action of solar energy.

There are four common types of Biofuel. They are Bioethanol, Biodiesel, Biogas and Biobutanol

Bioethanol

It is a type of biofuel used as an alternative automobile fuel source. It is produced from feedstocks like sugarcane, algae, corn or various other biomass. The feedstocks are treated with enzymes and undergo the process of fermentation. Bioethanol, along with carbon dioxide, is a by-product released during the whole process. It is majorly used as an alternative fuel to gasoline in internal combustion vehicles.

Advantages of Bioethanol:

  • Ethanol undergoes complete combustion and hence bioethanol burns more clearly in air than petroleum fuels
  • It is a renewable energy resource
  • Any fuel spills are more easily biodegradable

Disadvantages of Bioethanol:

  • Typical automobile engines may need to be modified to use biofuel
  • The production process is slightly expensive
  • Some amount of carbon dioxide gets released along with bioethanol in the production process

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is obtained from natural sources such as triglyceride containing vegetable oils and animal fats. It is produced by transesterification. It is used in vehicles, aircrafts, railways, as a heating oil and for cleaning oil spills. The structure of biodiesel is similar to that of petroleum diesel fuel. Apart from that, in engines, it operates similarly to petroleum diesel fuel. Thus, it can be used easily in engines requiring little modifications to the engines.

Advantages of Biodiesel:

  • It helps to lubricate the engine which in turn decreases engine wear
  • It does not have sulfur content hence it doesn’t contribute to acid rain

Disadvantages of Biodiesel:

  • Biodiesel can release nitrogen oxide which can lead to the formation of smog
  • Its cost varies according to feedstock used and market conditions

Biogas

Biogas is a renewable energy source; a natural fuel. It is produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste or food waste. It is produced by the aerobic digestion of organic matter. Biogas comprises of primarily methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2) and may have small amounts of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), moisture and siloxanes.

Advantages of Biogas:

  • The slurry produced after the production of biogas can be used as manure
  • There is less emission of greenhouse gases
  • It is a renewable energy source as it is produced from waste which gets generated everyday in enormous quantities
  • It is a healthier alternative to the use of firewood for cooking in rural areas

Disadvantages of Biogas:

  • The production process is temperature dependent, as the bacteria need a temperature of around 37°C for digestion. As a result, in areas with a cold climate, there is an extra requirement of heat supply
  • Biogas contains methane, a highly flammable material. If proper care is not taken while handling, it may come into contact with oxygen and violently produce carbon dioxide
  • Despite purification, biogas still contains impurities which may lead to metal corrosion
  • It is unable to be used on a large scale as there is no efficient production system

Biobutanol

Biobutanol is an alcoholic biofuel gaining traction. It is produced by the fermentation of sugar in biomass through the action of microbes. Clostridium acetobutylicum is a commonly used microorganism species. The sugars then get broken down into various alcohols, including butanol. Since it is obtained from biomass it is called Biobutanol. Its major use is as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It also shows potential as an industrial solvent.

Advantages of Biobutanol:

  • Biobutanol has a low vapor pressure, which means that it has a low volatility and a lower risk of evaporation
  • It has fewer emissions than other petroleum fuels. Compared to gasoline, it reduces carbon emissions by 85%

Disadvantages of Biobutanol:

  • The yield obtained and the speed of production are partially dependent on the microorganism used
  • The separation of butanol from the fermentation broth is slightly costly

In the age of global warming, it is necessary for governments and scientists to carry out more research into different biofuels and ways to harness them efficiently. This will not only reduce global warming to an extent, but also helps conserve fossil fuel and build towards a healthy and green future for our planet.