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Dharavi’s Women Artisans Have A Message
Surekha Kadapa-Bose

Reams have been written about the exceptional talent that has emerged year-after-year from the narrow, grimy streets of Dharavi, Asia’s biggest slum, spread over more than 500 acres in the heart of Mumbai and home to a million people. Music bands, painters, pottery artists, street dancers, artisans have not just thrived amidst the obvious poverty and squalor but have also been able to influence positive change in their community. Just like Nirmala, Rutha, Anjali and others, who may work as cooks, domestic helpers or sweepers in the “real world” but easily double up as nimble embroiderers, who have used their skill to spread awareness on gender violence; some of them have even stitched together ‘Map the Hurt’ with discarded denim that marks out areas in their sprawling slum where women often encounter abuse and violence. These and other works of art, including performance pieces, sculptures and paintings, were recently part of a festival that celebrated local talent.

“There is so much talent here. I hope more and more children see our work and channelise their energy and talent in the right direction. Art isn’t meant for only the elite.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO319 1250 words

A Taste Of The North East
Ninglun Hanghal

Food can be the window to a culture and instantly provide deep insights into the everyday life of the people. It is also a wonderful tool of soft diplomacy, as it effortlessly builds bridges across regions, religions, castes and class lines. This, and the fact that not much is either known or been written about the cuisine from Northeast India compelled journalist and author Hoihnu Hauzel to pen ‘The Essential North-East Cookbook’, which offers a variety of wonderful flavours from the region. From Arunachal Pradesh to Assam from Sikkim to Meghalaya, each one of the eight states in the northeast has its own unique culinary history and tradition that has not been explored or sampled in-depth by even the most hardcore of foodies in India. However, as more Indians open up to the idea of experimenting with their meals, Hauzel believes it’s just a matter of time before northeast food becomes more mainstream.

“I reach out to my friends who are not from the North East through food. I love to invite them over and cook special meals. I share ingredients from home with friends.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO321 1250 words

Pro-Life Or Pro-Women’s Rights?
Bijayalaxmi Nanda

Since 1991, Census figures have been registering a sharp decline in the child sex ratio in India. At present, it stands at an all-time low of 918 girls per 1000 boys in the 0-6 age group. This alarming trend, which is being attributed to sex determination followed by gender biased sex selection, is visible across the country and is a cause of concern for researchers, activists and policy-makers alike. Although the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, and the Medical Termination of Pregnancies Act, 1971, are the two legislations that regulate the sex determination and abortion separately, today, there is clearly a divided opinion, particularly on the issue of the strict implementation of the PCPNDT Act. The writer, who specialises in Political Theory and Gender Studies and is the founder and Campaign Coordinator of the Campaign Against Pre-birth Elimination of Females (CAPF), takes a look at the arguments from both sides to come up with a few suggestions that can help bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality.

‘Laws are not necessarily the only way to resolve the issue of daughter aversion in India. Countering patriarchy by providing education, productive employment, mobility and security need to be kept in mind.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: OPIO318 1050 words

Busting Food Myths To Stay Fit

Search for a ‘healthy diet’ and you will get about 136,000,000 results on Google and around 24,142 papers on PubMed, a peer-reviewed medical literature. A search for ‘obesity’ will show 22,400,000 results on the search engine and 191,696 papers on PubMed. For weight loss, you will probably find 422,000,000 results on the net and roughly 95,014 papers. Clearly, at the click of a mouse one can find many tips on achieving that illusive healthy lifestyle. But how does one make sense of all the available information? In ‘Our Kid Eats Everything! Get Your Children To Eat Right Without A Fight’, health and nutrition expert Neelanjana Singh draws on her knowledge and decades of experience to create a simple nutrition guide that gives valuable insights into everything, from buying the right kind of foods to methods of storing and cooking, among other tips and recipes. In this excerpt, learn all about reading food labels properly to make informed food choices.

‘At time, the nutritional information provided to consumers is slanted so as to make it appealing. … Although one serving of granola bar contains oats, honey and raisins, it also contains more sugar than traditional glazed doughnuts!’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO320 1000 words

Family Planning Lessons From Muslim Teens
Ajitha Menon

Ziratunnisa Khatun, 14, is an exceptional young woman. Apart from her studies, the one activity that she is really passionate about is going door-to-door in her Nooniya Basti, which falls under Mahingaon gram panchayat in Bihar’s Kishanganj district, talking to women about family planning, safe motherhood and the importance of eating nutritious meals. As part of her mission, she carries around with her samples of contraceptive pills, Copper T and condoms to show women how they can be used and tell them about the merits of keeping at least a five-year gap between children to ensure their health and well-being. Whereas, initially, the women used to be shocked at her “audacious” behaviour – how could an unmarried girl talk freely about sex and contraception – today, two years on, they have shed their hostility and share their concerns and questions without inhibition. Ziratunnisa is part of a group of committed girls, who belong to a conservative Shershabadi community, but have successfully managed to break the barriers of age and tradition to lead a campaign advocating for family planning.

“We spread the message that it was alright to use contraception to achieve spacing between children even if family planning per se was taboo.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO309O 1260 words
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