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Be Your Own Fashionista!


Is there anything like a “fashion equation”? Or is fashion something which is custom-woven?

I’m sure that every girl would’ve obsessed over magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Filmfare at some point of time in their lives. I was that kid too. Was truly fascinated about how models and actresses looked on those magazine covers as well as on TV. I always knew that I wasn’t going to be on them, but the love for clothes, bags, shoes and style engulfed me completely as and when I grew up. 

My whole family is crazy about shopping, the same blood runs in my nerves too. Hence, by default I was also obsessed with shopping. Streets or malls, didn’t really bother me. For me, it was about the quality, durability and most importantly how it looked on me which was important rather than the mere piece of brand tag which comes along with the apparel. I had reached a point where I could guess the brand by just looking at the apparel. You see, that’s when monotony hit me. I was 19. I was half as excited as I used to be, while I went for shopping because of a couple of reasons. Firstly, the designs, especially Indian wears, looked all the same. There was barely any uniqueness. Secondly, the whole college would wear the same top which you buy (from a mall). Thirdly, finding the right fit was always a problem. The super annoyed me, decided something. I decided not to buy Kurtis anymore from malls. I decided to design Kurtis on my own and get them stitched by my tailor. I pulled mom to this local store which sold cloth material and fancy laces, bought different materials so I could mix and match and play with colours and patterns. I was extremely electrified about the fact that I could make my piece of cloth, finally the way I wanted it to be, that was the highlight. So this time, the design was self-made, it was truly customised so that college kya, nobody on this earth would wear what I wear, and since it was made for me, the fit was nothing less than ravishing. 

These days, everybody is busy running behind the trending trend. But, guys, hold on! What’s the point in wearing something which looks good on someone else and define someone else’s personality? The Kardashians wear exotic clothes, but are you sure that it really defines who and what YOU are? Just because celebrities wear the nicest of clothes and how the social media goes gaga about their airport looks, red carpet looks, festive looks and such innumerous looks, doesn’t mean that they are creating a “style statement” or a “fashion equation” for you.  There’s no one definite fashion equation. Any equation in which you feel the best, is your fashion equation. People need not create it for you, rather it’s self-spun.

Your style is your own and the best colour in the world is the one that looks good on you! You are what you wear. Nothing is going to look disastrous if you flash on a style with immense grace and confidence because at the end of the day, as Coco Chanel once said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be YOURSELF”. So, be authentic, be YOU!

Ghanta Engineering!

I remember it was a 2/10 that I scored in Biology in 10th grade, that made me realize I would never be able to do heart surgeries in the future! Although, I wouldn’t entirely attribute my decision to take up Engineering to that. My love for Astrophysics, Sir Newton’s laws of Gravitation, documentaries on Einstein that my mother made me watch as a child and an immense fascination for Geometry pushed me to believe that I was born to be an Engineer and would undoubtedly “save the world one day”. 

Cut to class 12, after two years of the Volcanic pressure every Engineering aspirant in India goes through, I was left with a choice to take up Engineering at Vellore Institute of Technology, among few other private institutes, (none of which were my dream colleges), which later went on to become my Alma Mater. I went to the University’s sprawling beautiful campus for admission, and it was only then that I realized that Engineering actually had so many branches – Computer Science, Electrical, Mechanical, Civil and a few more, that “rishtedaar” don’t consider worthy enough to mention. Until then, I didn’t even know that Electrical and Electronics were two different branches! Well, after hearing “Tum ladki ho, computer science lelo, AC mein comfortable naukri rahegi”, I figured it was my time to be the next Zuckerberg or Bill Gates and create the next big technology in the world. Little did I know of, the innumerable backlogs that awaited me in the near future! After paying the not so cheap tuition fee, taking a round of the hostels, meeting a couple of professors and staring at the huge hoardings in campus, advertising the placement rates and college rankings, I realised this was it. A small yet powerful town of Tamil Nadu was to be my home for the next 4 years – Vellore. 

The first year was spent making new friends, trying not to miss “maa ke haath ka khaana”, learning to wake up on your own, learning how to do laundry, finding cheap alternatives to mess food (a.k.a Maggi), befriending seniors to get into College Societies and spending too much money on textbooks that eventually wouldn’t help us pass exams, because let’s face it, nobody can teach an engineer more than the roommate, a night before the exam! I was pretty excited to learn coding, but like most first year students, I would comfortably understand the logic but wouldn’t be able to write a code on my own without the compiler throwing errors I couldn’t fix. 

The next 2 years were basically spent cursing why I took Engineering, trying to clear Calculus, Computer Networks, Microprocessors, JAVA and surviving on roommate ke haath ki Maggi. But there was also rule breaking, taking money from home on the pretext of buying books and using it to sneak off to nearby cities for a sasta holiday, gossiping in the hostel at 2 am, stalking bloggers on Instagram and secretly wanting their lives, hunting for online material to pass courses, drowning in assignments and planning college fests. The last year, was nothing short of emotion and stress. It was placement season! And the much awaited farewell! As we tried new diets every week to look like Shilpa Shetty in a saree, along with sitting for placements, we realised we didn’t have a lot of time left with each other. I was scared, how would life be once college ended, where would I be, would I still meet my friends, would I manage to succeed in my career, would I manage to find the perfect saree that fits my curves and makes heads turn on my Farewell! Today, an year after graduating, I realize how tiny my worries were, how I dealt with my worries the wrong way, and how it’s all turned out better than what I ever thought. My friends are still here, I found the man of my dreams and I’m enjoying my career in Data Analytics, with the occasional Corporate World bickering. 

Engineering isn’t my degree hung on the wall of my home, it’s an emotion, a priceless journey that lakhs of Indians instantly connect to, that we take pride in. The 4 years – they taught me how to have Old Monk, they taught me that green is not just a colour, they taught me that the Chai shop outside Gate 3 can fix any problem in the world, they taught me that the friends we make in college will always stay, they taught me to take care of a friend at 3 am, they taught me the value of a simple dal cooked at home, that it’s okay if relationships from college didn’t work out, because someone better is waiting. To the chef, the singer, the dancer, the writer, the entrepreneur, the comedian that chose to live these 4 years and then pursue their passion, to the ones who found their dream corporate job, to the ones who wanted to study even beyond, to the ones who still haven’t finished this journey, to the ones cursing their corporate jobs right now and thinking of Start-up ideas and to all of us who cleared all our backlogs, Happy Engineer’s Day! 

How to take care of your hands?

Look at your hands now and tell yourself what you see? Beautiful and gorgeous are very important.

They tells everything about yourself, how you live your life and love your body. They say it give a woman’s age away, well so what.

But gorgeous arms are the carriers of your personality, no matter in what situation and age you are. You wear fancy designer clothes, imagine the negative effects if you combine these fancy clothes with abandoned fingers.

Look around you and see how hands are the centre of communication.

At a party, or even a job interview, they are your business card.

They are the ultimate tool invented ever, but you don’t realize how importants these tools are. You just use them all day;

Shaking hands, cooking, doing your hair, feel, touch, work, write.

Endless, think about this for a second.

And decide now, no matter what your age is, to treat them as your treassure.

  • The skin of the hand is so thin, protect the skin.
  • Pamper it with your personal handlotion, 4 times a day.
  • Exfoliate once a week with a face exfoliater.
  • Use once a week your face night-cream also on your palms before you go to sleep.
  • Get accustomed to using rubber gloves whenever you do housework.
  • Prevent them from aging or abusing.
  • Protect them from dry weather as well as protecting them from the sun.
  • Use daily a protective barrier.

With other words:

The best way to take care of your palms is to protect them.

The Value of a Relationship to Autism

In aiding children with developmental challenges like Autism, we must first realize that this requires a team effort and a strengths based approach. It is necessary to not focus on what the child cannot do but look at what the child can accomplish and build upon this. Parents can enlist the support of professionals but must realize that it is they who are the most important persons in the child’s life and that furthering the development of their child is not just the work of professionals but is a collaborative effort from everyone involved with the child. It is necessary that for any interventions to truly be effective and helpful, that they must be consistent and constant. The interventions must be the same throughout all domains that the child is present in.

It is crucial for us to understand the environmental responses that children have, whether they have developmental concerns (like autism) or even if they do not. If a teacher, parent, or other person has a hostile tone, a poor demeanor, a loud voice, etc. All of these things can be overwhelming to the child and can provoke a behavioral response. All behavior is purposeful and should be looked upon as so, even negative behaviors. Behaviors are a way of the child speaking to us about a distressing situation or an apparent need or desire when they may not be able to convey this to us verbally. Light, sound, and other sensory stimuli can also produce distress for a child. We need to create awareness of what in the environment may serve as triggers to distress and seek to modify the environment to make it a more comfortable and safe place for the child. We must also be cautious in how we view children. If we look at a child displaying negative behavior as a ‘monster’ or feel that because a child may be rambunctious at times that we must automatically resort to medicating them, then we have taken a negativistic attitude that will surely be passed on to the child. Children are keenly aware, even those with communication struggles, of adult’s perceptions of them. We should look at our children through the eyes of delight and address behavioral difficulties not in terms of how we can subdue, but rather how we can meet needs and resolve conflict and remove distress.

The floor time model is of particular usefulness in working with children with communication and social struggles. For those children who are non-verbal, we can begin to introduce hand signals, moving to use of pictures, and then gradually encouraging the child to make use of words or phrases to indicate desires. It is not important initially whether the verbalizations are correct but rather that a verbal attempt was made. When a child displays such a behavior as spinning objects, in the floor time model, we would not be aversive, but rather gently introduce a new toy or object and seek to divert the child to a more productive activity. In situations of echolalia, we can say such things as ‘that’s TV talk’, and provide means to divert this to a different means of conversing. It is important to provide the child with understandable signals and meaningful statements and phrases when we are desiring them to behave in a different way.

In order for children with autism to be able to integrate more into the social sphere, it is necessary that they not be isolated into situations where they are labeled and shuffled away from typical peers. Rather, they should be included as much as possible with typical peers. They may need additional support and accommodations, but how will they begin to learn important skills unless they have frequent and continuous exposure to the world around them. I have developed the use of what I term ‘real life rehearsals’, where we may set up a particular social scenario for a child. It may be such a thing as being able to make a purchase at the grocery store. The therapist and parents guide and coach the child ahead of time in how to go about such an activity and then have them actually demonstrate it. Social stories and comic strip conversations are very useful in conveying information as these children tend to be visual learners. Social stories can be simply made booklets that the child helps to create where a particular task or scenario is outlined with what behaviors are expected. The comic strip conversation is helpful in building empathic skills as well as reflective thinking as we ask the child to develop captions for what different individuals may state and think in various situations.

Autism is not a disease.

Lastly, I think it is crucial, though it may appear controversial to some, to state that children with autism can and will be benefited from a psycho-social and relationship based approach alone. Some have decided to resort to medications, and I am placing no blame or condemnation on those who have made this decision, however making a suggestion that there are alternatives and informing of these alternatives as well as the hazards of psychotropic medication usage. First, I will not argue that medications can ‘work’ in the sense of subduing behavior. However, strapping a child to a chair would also work in regards to subduing behavior. This would be aversive and quite possible illegal. I see little difference between such an approach and that of using psychiatric medication. The difference is that one is a physical restraint, the other a chemical restraint. When we say that something ‘works’, often we are not looking at the mechanism by which it works. Dr. Peter R. Breggin, MD compared the use of anti psychotic medications in children to ‘chemical lobotomy’ as it blunts the functions of the frontal lobes. The risk of tardive dyskinesia, a permanent disfiguring neurological impairment exists with these drugs. In addition, such drugs as Risperdal are prescribed off label and are not indicated for anyone below the age of 18 but continue to be prescribed.

It may require more diligence, effort, and patience, but I remain convinced after working with over 40 children with autism, that relationship based approaches, rather than chemical restraint, prove to be a true means to teach our children skills, to focus on their strengths, to build on their development, and to help address challenging behaviors and to address the real source of conflict and distress rather than just blunting it.

US nuclear lab partners with utilities to produce hydrogen

The U.S. government’s primary nuclear lab is partnering with three energy utilities to find an economical way to use nuclear energy to produce hydrogen that can be stored and used to power everything from industry to personal vehicles, officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Energy said the Idaho National Laboratory will work with Ohio-based FirstEnergy Solutions, Minnesota-based Xcel Energy, and Arizona Public Service.

Energy Department officials say the projects are intended to improve the long-term competitiveness of the nuclear power industry by giving it another product to sell.

“They will enable the production of commodities such as hydrogen in addition to electricity from commercial nuclear power plants,” said Bruce Hallbert, director of the Energy Department’s Sustainability Program at the Idaho National Lab.

“This project also accelerates the transition to a national hydrogen economy by contributing to the use of hydrogen as a storage medium for production of electricity, as a zero-emitting transportation fuel, or as a replacement for industrial processes that currently use carbon-emitting sources in hydrogen production,” he said.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration in a June tally, there were 97 nuclear reactors at 59 commercial power plants in 29 states producing about 20% of the nation’s energy. Most of the reactors are decades old, and many are having a tough time competing economically with other forms of energy production.

Revamping the nation’s nuclear power is part of a strategy to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by generating carbon-free electricity with nuclear power initiated under the Obama administration and continuing under the Trump administration, though Trump has downplayed global warming.

Hydrogen is abundant in the environment and is stored in water, methane and organic matter. The primary challenge is economically extracting it. Most of the hydrogen currently produced in the nation comes from combining high-temperature steam with natural gas.

Officials say nuclear-produced hydrogen is carbon-free. That’s opposed to fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal and oil that produce greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

The Energy Department says that nearly all hydrogen produced in the U.S. is used for refining petroleum, processing food, producing fertilizer or treating metals.

Vehicles using hydrogen fuel cells produce only water vapor and warm air as exhaust. Such vehicles are in use in California, which has 35 retail hydrogen stations open to the public.

The first part of the project is for FirstEnergy Solutions to build a facility in 2020 that uses an electric current that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen in a process called electrolysis. Power for the plant will come from the utility’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Toledo, Ohio.

“This is a great opportunity to show that hydrogen can be effectively generated in a carbon-free and safe manner,” said Raymond Lieb of FirstEnergy Solutions.

Hallbert said it will be a learning experience, and knowledge gained there could be used at future efforts at the other two utilities. All three utilities have nuclear power plants but have unique markets, Hallbert noted, with economic motivations to take part in the program.

FirstEnergy Solutions is competing with natural gas, Xcel Energy is in a wind energy market, and Arizona Public Service is close to the California energy market, Hallbert said.

How to Enhance Creativity? (the old school way)

Creativity is your birthright – but can often be hidden in the everyday. To facilitate your personal development and self growth, here are some creativity tips you can use to resurrect, refresh and enhance your creative faculties.

1. Look after yourself.

Sleep well/Eat well/meditate/do what you enjoy and do it more often (if it is life enhancing!). Creativity is reduced when your senses are dulled.

2. Do something different.

We do so much on auto – the route we take to work, newspaper we read, TV programmes we routinely watch. Vary one element of your regular routine for a while. If feasible, take a different route to work, read a different newspaper (especially one you would never read!).

3. Be curious about your world around you.

It always amazes me when people don’t see what’s around them. See the area you live/work in as a tourist would. How would you explore it if you were a tourist?

4. Read a book on something you previously had no interest in.

…and see if you can create interest whilst reading it. It is my belief that no topic is boring or uninteresting if it is enthusiastically and creatively presented. You know what you like – or you like what you know?

5. Do something childlike once in a while.

…and you don’t have to have the children there as an ‘excuse’ to do it. Sit and play on swings/draw/paint ‘silly’ pictures – have fun. Children are incredibly creative and as adults we could learn a lot about how they view the world.

6. Create/prepare quiet time for yourself every day.

Not to do anything (unless it relaxes you), but just to clear and refresh your mind. We are human beings, not doings. There are times when our crowded schedule and minds don’t allow space and time for the creative to be welcomed in. Einstein liked to go sailing in the afternoons after working in the morning. Okay, most of us don’t have this opportunity, but you get the point.

7. Ask ‘what if’ questions.

Just for fun and see where the answers take you. What if that building could talk, what would it say, what stories would it tell?

8. We often make assumptions.

…about the people we work with (especially if we don’t like them!) Try treating someone you don’t particularly like at work as if you liked them (yeah I know…) What would you say, how would you act towards them?

9. Write and storyboard your life.

…as if it were a script you had to sell to a film company.

10. Talk to people you routinely ignore or dismiss.

Imagine their lives from their point of view, they often have viewpoints which you may never have considered before and … carry a small notebook with you to jot down new ideas / sensations / feelings as they come to mind.

Do one, some or all of these and you’ll soon notice a rise in your creativity, personal development and self growth.

How to Overcome ‘Artist Block?’

How many times does an artist stare down at that blank piece of paper thinking “What on earth do I paint – Where do I put my first mark?” More often than you would imagine! It happens to all creative people actually, from visual artists, designers, poets, through to musicians and writers.

When this situation arises, you are in the grip of creative block. When you wrack your brains to come up with ideas but just can’t seem to. There may be contributing factors to this state, such as tiredness, depression, environmental, physiological or psychological issues. On the other hand you could just be experiencing a period of simple low creativity.

When this happens there are a few things you can do to restore your creativity levels at will, however what you must not do is worry or fret about it. If the worst comes to the worse and you don’t seem to be able to produce any work, simply regard the period as a ‘holiday’ or a rest. Your creativity level WILL rise again. In the meantime, utilise the time spent not creating to do positive things anyway.

Research other artists’ work. Visit galleries or surf the net and see what other people are doing. Join artists’ chat rooms or visit message boards or forums where you can exchange ideas and views with other artists. Just talking to other creative people can give you a real buzz! You might even make some new friends in the process.

Spend the time you are not actually producing art, by increasing your marketing efforts. Send postcards to galleries, research upcoming local art fairs or events where you could possibly take a booth to sell your art. Have some leaflets or brochures printed up all about yourself and your work. Take a couple of days out of your schedule and do a local neighbourhood leaflet drop.

Update your website or online portfolio. You may think it’s already perfect but it’s not often that things can’t be improved or sharpened in some way. Update your artist’s statement; put new ‘zing’ into your descriptions.

If you really can’t face doing anything concerning your own artwork, visit the theatre, go to a pop concert, browse local museums. Go to a restaurant or coffee bar with friends and have a (non art related) natter.

Use the time to take a complete break, if this is what works best for you. You will instinctively know when the time is right to ‘go back’ to your art. When this happens there are lots of techniques you can use to get back into the swing of high creativity.

Mine shutdowns in top US coal region bring new uncertainty

At two of the world’s biggest coal mines, the finances got so bad that their owner couldn’t even get toilet paper on credit.

Warehouse technician Melissa Worden divvied up what remained of the last case, giving four rolls to each mine and two to the mine supply facility where she worked.

Days later, things got worse.

Mine owner Blackjewel LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 1. Worden at first figured the accounts would get settled quickly and vendors of everything from copy paper to parts for house-sized dump trucks would soon be back to doing normal business with the mines.

“The consensus was: In 30 days, we’ll look back on this, and we made it through, and we’ll be up and running, and it’s a fresh start,” Worden said.

What happened instead has shaken the top coal-producing region in the United States like a charge of mining explosive. Blackjewel furloughed most of its Wyoming employees and shut down Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines, the first idled by hardship since coal mining in the Powder River Basin exploded in the 1970s.

It’s a big hit to the region straddling northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana, where coal has quietly supported the economies of both states for decades and fuels a shrinking number of power plants in 28 states.

Negotiations that could reopen the two Wyoming mines under new ownership — potentially previous owner Bristol, Tennessee-based Contura Energy — are stalled more than two months later. Some 600 employees remain off the job. They lost health insurance coverage in late August.

And doubts are growing about the long-term viability of the region’s coal mines — particularly Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr, the fourth- and sixth-biggest in the U.S. by production, respectively.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be that naive again,” said Worden, 44.

Blackjewel, based in Milton, West Virginia, told its Wyoming employees this week that the mines might be up and running soon and to let the company know if they wanted their jobs back.

Worden said she felt little reassurance. On a break at a part-time electrical contracting job in North Dakota, she wondered if she should accept any offer of full-time work or hold out for her old job.

She’s not the only one questioning long-held assumptions about Powder River Basin coal mines, which produce cleaner-burning coal less expensively than mines in other parts of the U.S. and weren’t widely thought of being at risk despite a push for renewable energy to combat climate change.

But with coal in long-term decline, how the basin might eventually scale down production to a sustainable level has become a big question, said Rob Godby, director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming.

“The irony here — and it’s really a cruel irony — is everybody is focused on getting these miners back to work. But really the solution to creating a healthy industry is some mines close,” Godby said.

For now, little appears changed in Gillette, a city of 30,000 people at the heart of the basin of rolling grasslands midway between the Black Hills and snowcapped Bighorn Mountains. Tattoo shops are abundant, and big, late-model pickup trucks still cruise the main drag.

This year, however, has been especially tumultuous. Three of the Powder River Basin’s nine producers — Westmoreland Coal, Cloud Peak Energy and Blackjewel — have filed for bankruptcy since March. Two others, Arch Coal and Peabody, have announced they will merge assets in the region.

The turmoil comes as U.S. coal production is down over 30% since peaking in 2008. Utilities are retiring aging coal-fired power plants and switching to solar, wind and cheaper and cleaner-burning natural gas to generate electricity despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to prop up the coal industry.

A decade ago, about half of U.S. electricity came from coal-fired power. Now it’s below 30%, a shift that heavy equipment operator Rory Wallet saw as utilities became less willing to lock in multiyear contracts for Belle Ayr mine’s coal.

“The market’s changed,” Wallet said. “The bankruptcies all tie into that.”

Wallet, 40, followed his father, an equipment mechanic, into the Belle Ayr mine in 2008. He said the recent mine closures and loss of his $80,000-a-year job took him by surprise.

He has four children, ages 11 to 16, and his wife’s job at the Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant in Gillette is their main income while they await news about the mines.

Blackjewel said Thursday that it was working on plans to restart the mines while pursuing their sale. There were no indications in federal bankruptcy court filings in West Virginia that the mines were set to reopen, however.

“This is a fast-moving and sometimes unpredictable process, and accordingly, we do not have answers to all of your questions at this time,” the company’s statement said.

Wallet is looking for a job and using his downtime to sell “We Will Rise Again” T-shirts to benefit families of out-of-work coal miners. He’s also lobbying Wyoming lawmakers to fight harder to force Washington state to approve a port facility expansion that would allow more coal exports to Asia.

He questions the outlook from Godby of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy that some mines must close.

“I think, with Rob, it’s the middle- to worst-case scenario,” Wallet said. “The ports are going to be a big deal. Asia is going to be a big deal.”

Wallet pointed out that the Powder River Basin still has a century or two of recoverable coal left. And just north of Gillette, the state has invested $15 million in a facility to study how to capture climate-changing carbon dioxide from a working power plant and profitably use it in products ranging from concrete to biofuels.

Wallet is optimistic that technology could save coal. But carbon capture, if it happens at all, could arrive too late to do the coal industry much good amid global concern about climate change, Godby said.

“We will not see widespread adoption of carbon capture and storage for at least a decade,” Godby said. “That’s just the reality.”

He also doubted that exports can save the region’s coal industry. There’s no direct rail line to the Pacific Northwest from most of the basin’s mines, and the amount of coal that the proposed export terminal could handle would offset only a small fraction of the amount that production has declined, Godby said.

Powder River Basin mines employ about 5,000 miners — 20% fewer than eight years ago. But the impact is even wider because an additional 8,000 jobs, from teachers to car mechanics, have indirect ties to the broader economy around the coal industry.

Local unemployment rose to 5.7% in July, compared with 4.1% a year earlier.

Trump got 88% of the vote in Campbell County, the heart of the basin. Locals cheered when he lifted a federal moratorium on coal leases that former President Barack Obama imposed, but Worden and Wallet disagree about whether changing environmental regulations will do much good in the long run. Wallet thinks improvement could be just around the corner.

Both say coal should continue to have a place in the economy alongside renewable energy.

“It needs to be a group effort, not green is on one side and black is on the other,” Worden said. “We don’t want this community to die.”

Indian Finance Minister announces Rs 70,000 cr package

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday announced an over Rs 70,000 crore package for the exports and real estate sectors, including setting up of a stressed asset fund, as the government continued with firefighting measures to pull the economy out of a six-year low growth rate.

A Rs 20,000 crore fund, with government putting in half of the amount, will be set up to provide last-mile funding for housing projects that are not in bankruptcy court or already tagged as bad debt, she said at a press conference here to announce the third set of measures to address stress in specific sectors and boost the economy.

Also, housing finance companies have been allowed to borrow funds abroad at relaxed rules while interest rate on housing building advance has been lowered, benefiting government servants who make up for a major component of demand for houses.

The stressed asset fund will benefit around 3.5 lakh homebuyers, Sitharaman said, adding that buyers stuck in bankruptcy-bound projects will get relief through the NCLT.

For exporters, a new scheme for reimbursement of taxes paid on exports, called the Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP), will come into effect from January 2020 to replace existing dispensations.

The new RoDTEP “will more than adequately incentivise exporters than existing schemes put together,” she said, adding the revenue government will forego on the scheme is projected at Rs 50,000 crore. The government is already providing Rs 40,000-45,000 crore refunds under existing schemes.

Besides, a Rs 1,700 crore annual dole will allow Export Credit Guarantee Corp (ECGC) to offer higher insurance cover to banks lending working capital for exports, she said. This will enable reduction in the overall cost of export credit including interest rate, especially for MSMEs, she added.

Priority sector lending tag for export credit is under consideration of the Reserve Bank, which will release an additional Rs 36,000 crore to Rs 68,000 crore as export credit.

Other measures for exporters included fully electronic refund of input tax credit from month end, action plan to reduce time to export or turnaround time at airports and ports by December and a special FTA utilisation mission that will work with export houses to utilise concessional tariffs in each free trade agreement (FTA) India has with different nations.

She also announced a mega shopping festival on the likes of the world-famous Dubai Shopping Festival, will be conducted at four places in India in March on themes of gems and jewellery, handicraft/yoga/tourism, textiles and leather.

The finance minister said the measures together with the ones announced on the previous two occasions will help lift the economy and growth rate will improve in the second quarter.

Inflation, she said, has been kept “very much” below the 4 per cent mark and there are “clear signs” of revival in the economy, as witnessed in an uptick in industrial production and fixed investment.

Measures are being taken to improve credit outflow from banks, which have also begun to transmit interest rate cuts to borrowers, she said. Sitharaman will meet heads of public sector lenders on September 19 to review the transmission.

The Reserve Bank of India has since February cut the benchmark interest rate by 110 basis points but banks have lagged in transmitting the lower rates to borrowers.

The government has been pressing banks to offer external benchmark linked loans to speed up the transmission of rate cuts.

India’s GDP growth decreased for the fifth consecutive quarter in April-June 2019 to 5 per cent, the lowest in six years. This was on the back of faltering domestic demand, with both private consumption and investment proving lackluster.

The government’s previous policy measures to stimulate the economy included support for the automobile sector, reduction in capital gains tax, and additional liquidity support for shadow banks. Accompanying structural reforms included a further easing of the foreign direct investment (FDI) regime and consolidation of the public banking sector.

Rihanna finds Support in Cardi B and others

NEW YORK (AP) — Like many kids, Rihanna dreamed of someday growing up to be rich, but helping others was at the forefront of her vision.

“It’s always been important to me before any success,” she told The Associated Press Thursday at her annual Diamond Ball charity gala. “As a kid, just seeing those commercials on television with the kids in Africa where it’s like, ‘it just takes 10 cent or 25 cents to help somebody,’ . I used to think, ‘When I grow up, I’m a gonna be rich and I’m going to make a lot of money and I could make a lot of 10 cents and a lot of 25 cents.’”

She’s made a lot more than that as superstar singer and now fashion and beauty mogul, and with her Clara Lionel Foundation has doled out money around the globe to help support education programs, women’s health and emergency response organizations for people in need.

The foundation named after Rihanna’s grandparents raised more than $5 million Thursday night. Cardi B and Offset, A$AP Rocky, Karlie Kloss, DJ Khaled, 21 Savage, Pharrell Williams and others came out to support the glittering charity dinner, which even featured an impromptu performance by Rihanna and Williams.

“I’m a fan of her energy. She has a beautiful soul,” DJ Khaled said before entering the event at Cipriani’s in downtown Manhattan with his pregnant wife. “In my book, she keeps it mad real . It’s just a beautiful day, we’re putting beautiful energy out there.”

It was the second all-star event Rihanna staged this week. Khaled, Halsey and more turned out for her New York Fashion Week show on Tuesday, an extravaganza for her lingerie line Savage X Fenty that featured musical performances along with a catwalk.

The star wowed on the red carpet dressed in a black velvet turtleneck dress with a flared skirt.

“Just glam. She’s so glamorous, she’s so gorgeous. Anytime I think of Rihanna, I just think of just glam,” said rapper Megan Thee Stallion.

Rihanna told the crowd she was “humbled” by the support for Clara Lionel, and noted that her grandmother Clara Brathwaite, who died seven years ago, would tell her helping others is “about the collective joining forces.”

She told the AP her connection to her grandparents makes the event a sentimental one.

“So these things get really personal, emotional, and I just want to expand this every year to a different cause because I don’t feel like people deserve to be left out and that that’s really the core of the foundation,” she said.

Inside the event, which started two hours late and was hosted by Seth Meyers, stars mingled in a hall that was decorated with a tropical, colorful motif. A$AP Rocky, recently freed after a legal battle in Sweden that saw him behind bars there for weeks, held court at one table as he chatted with 2 Chainz and others; Cardi B bid a very exact $109,000 for a rare copy of a book on Rihanna, along with a two-thousand pound marble stand designed to hold it.

The night was not without some controversy: One of the honorees, activist and journalist Shaun King, has been accused of mishandling money he claims he’s received for various causes he supports. The Clara Lionel Foundation was almost immediately met with backlash after it was announced King would be a Diamond Ball honoree, forcing King to release a 72-page report in an attempt to defend himself against the allegations.

The foundation’s executive director stood by the decision to honor King, who has been a supporter of Clara Lionel.

“We decided to honor Shaun King for a reason, and we decided to honor Shaun King for that same reason tonight,” said Justine Lucas, executive director of the foundation.

King, who defended himself on Twitter just before the event, did not address the allegations as he accepted his honor, instead imploring the crowd to work harder to fight injustice: “It’s not good enough to have good intentions.”

Cardi B stood up for King just before the event.

“One of the main reasons why is so important for me to be here is because Rihanna is honoring Shaun King. A lot of people need to follow Shaun King on Instagram. He protests so much for all minorities, he protests so much for the whole entire world,” said the Grammy-award winning rapper.

Also honored was Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, where Rihanna was born. Mottley is the first woman to ascend to the position, and Rihanna personally presented her with an award.

Mottley said no matter how global Rihanna is, she always brings Barbados with her.

“Rihanna is one of our citizens of whom we are very, very proud,” Mottley said. “When you come from 166 square miles and you can produce people who make a global impact, it gives your heart a certain amount of warmth.”


‘Game of Thrones’ prequel series about Targaryen clan in works at HBO

HBO is moving ahead with yet another prequel show to its smash-hit series “Game of Thrones”.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network is nearing a pilot commitment for a prequel series based on Geroge RR Martin’s “Fire & Blood”, a companion book to the author’s “Song of Fire and Ice” saga.

The pilot of the new prequel is set 300 years before the events of the flagship series that tracks the beginnings and the end of House Targaryen.

Writer Ryan Condal of “Colony” fame will pen the script in collaboration with Martin.

HBO has not yet officially confirmed the prequel.

The network had announced its plan five spinoff series of “Game of Thrones”, which ended with eighth and final season in May.

Out of the five, HBO is actively working on the pilot of one prequel, being headline by Naomi Watts.

The show is set thousands of years before the events of “Game of Thrones”. It will chronicle the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. From the horrifying secrets of Westeros’s history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend.

Jane Goodman has co-created the series with Martin. She is also serving as showrunner.

The as-yet untitled project, currently in post-production, will also feature Josh Whitehouse, Miranda Richardson, Naomi Ackie, Denise Gough, and Jamie Campbell Bower.

Complete History of Perfume And Fragrances

You love your perfume but, have you ever thought about how many other people have as well? Let us give you some interesting facts.

Historically, culture has considered the senses of sight and hearing as “higher” senses, delighting them to the arts: dance, poetry and music among other forms. The senses of smell, taste and touch have been considered the “lower” senses for their connection to primal instincts: survival, nutrition and mating. However, the sense of smell has been underestimated, as well as the desire for mankind to cater to his/her vanity.

The history of perfume dates back to the ancient world. The Egyptians employed fragrances as part of their religious ceremonials, believing that they could communicate with the gods by raising scented smoke; thus, the word perfume -per fumum, Latin for through smoke. Incense was used for religious purposes, while balms and ointments were used for cosmetic and/or medicinal purposes. Myrrh, frankincense, peppermint and rose were common ingredients in early perfumes. The Egyptians invented glass and utilized glass fragnances bottles to store their perfumes. They also used gold, hard stones and other materials to make their “perfume containers”.

The Persians perfected the art of preserving scents; while the Greeks categorized perfumes according to the part of the plant they came from and kept records of their compositions. Alexander the Great brought perfume to Greece after invading Egypt, and the Romans took on the Greek’s perfume culture when they invaded Greece. In the mean time, Islamic, Chinese and Indian cultures had been using perfume as part of their religious and social rituals as well.

As Christianity spread, the use of perfume diminished. All that lasted until the 12th century, when Europe started to see the perfume thanks to the international trade. Routes between the East and West were open and new scents and spices made it to Europe. Perfume use revived, as it was a great addition to personal grooming. In those early days of fragrances, people often developed their own fragrances by mixing flowers, herbs, spices and oils in their own home.

The 18th century brought the Eau de Cologne – “water from Cologne”. A young Italian, Jean-Marie Farina invented it in Cologne, Germany, which was a big success in France and subsequently in Europe. The eau de cologne was originally intended for both internal and external use, having both medicinal and cosmetic applications. Napoleon created a legal distinction between pharmacy and perfumery.

Hygiene had become a symbol of soul purity as the 19th century arrived. Modern chemistry and advanced technology made it possible to create new extraction techniques. The biggest of all technological advances was the ability to create synthetic ingredients to substitute natural perfume ingredients that were hard to find or very expensive, bringing the perfume prices down and making it accessible to the masses. Perfume was no longer a luxury for the wealthy. However, there were still only a few brand names available until the 20th century when mass production of perfumes began.

Human beings are vain by nature and have perpetuated the use of perfume as an intricate part of culture.

Cold comfort: Tokyo 2020 tests fake snow to beat the hea

Tokyo 2020 organisers blasted volunteers with fake snow on Friday as they trial ever more extreme ways to beat the heat ahead of the Games.

But instead of light fluffy snowflakes, the crowd, consisting mainly of Tokyo 2020 staff, was pelted with fairly coarse shards of shaved ice at the canoeing test event.

And ironically, after several weeks of almost unbroken heat and humidity, Friday saw temperatures in the Japanese capital drop sharply — no doubt a relief to millions of Tokyo commuters and players training for the forthcoming Rugby World Cup.

“We are trying everything possible to ease heat risks,” said Taka Okamura, from the 2020 organising committee.

“This is not meant to cool the entire atmosphere but have spectators feel refreshed when the flakes of ice touch them,” added Okamura, who acknowledged that the system needed some refinement.

One problem became immediately apparent after the volunteers were doused in 300 kilograms (650 pounds) of snow in a matter of minutes: the “spectators” were quickly soaked through and the floor became slippery — resulting in one journalist taking a tumble.

Okamura played down any environmental risks from the system — such as CO2 emissions from the machine — and declined to reveal its cost. Tokyo 2020 officials have admitted in the past that anti-heat measures will swell the budget for the Games.

Tokyo 2020 organisers have largely won praise for their preparations for the Games. With the construction work on track, IOC President Thomas Bach has said Tokyo is the best-prepared host ever with less than a year to go until the opening ceremony.

But the sweltering Tokyo heat has already proved a headache and there are fears for athletes, volunteers and spectators if conditions in recent summers are repeated at Games time.

Test events in August did little to allay those fears, with a French triathlete taken to hospital with suspected heatstroke, complaints about the water temperature for marathon swimming, and people taken ill at a rowing trial.

One member of the French parathletics team attending Friday’s event pointed to another potential problem of the fake snow hose.

“When the wind is blowing in the wrong direction pushing the snow out of the stands, I’m not sure it is going to be that efficient,” he said.

Prasad to meet electronics industry CEOs to discuss sector issues, export ambitions

New Delhi, Sep 13 (PTI) Indian government will meet CEOs and top brass of electronics and smartphone makers, including Apple and Samsung, on September 16 to discuss challenges being faced by them and incentives and schemes that can be offered to position India as the ‘electronics factory’ of the world.

The meeting comes at a time when India has set its sight on creating a USD 400 billion (around Rs 28.43 lakh crore) electronic manufacturing ecosystem by 2025.

Interestingly, India hopes to nudge the tech titans to deepen their manufacturing commitments, leveraging the country’s market appeal, talent pool, digital base and competitive labour costs, at a time when US-China trade tensions have flared up.

The meeting called by Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad is expected to see participation of leading players like Vivo, Oppo, Qualcomm, Xiaomi, Dell, HP, Bosch, Cisco, Flextronics, Foxconn, Nokia, LG, and Panasonic. Other participants include Intel, Wistron, and Sterlite Technologies.

The meeting would be represented by all major verticals of electronics sector such as mobile handsets, consumer electronics, strategic electronics, medical devices, electronics manufacturing services, components, telecom and LED lighting, among others.

“We will listen to the players on how they now plan to push their manufacturing to a larger scale in India, and bring in supply chain and value addition. We will listen to their suggestions with an open mind,” IT Secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney told reporters here.

Over the last few years, there has been a visible ramp up of mobile phone production in India, as new mobile factories have mushroomed across the country.

The size of mobile phone manufacturing was 29 crore units and Rs 1,70,000 crore in value terms during 2018-19. India now hopes to put the building blocks for the next wave of growth, positioning itself as a global hub for manufacturing and exports, complete with supply chain ecosystem.

It is also fine-tuning a fresh cluster scheme (bigger and better than the last one) that would woo anchor manufacturing units with supply chain ecosystem and ancillary firms.

Following the deliberation on September 16, various boosters and schemes in the pipeline, will be given finishing touches. Asked if these would be finalised over the next 6-8 months, Sawhney said “it will happen before that”.

The National Electronics Policy 2019 – cleared by the Cabinet earlier this year – plans to bolster mobile manufacturing in the country to 1 billion units worth USD 190 billion (about Rs 13 lakh crore) of which 600 million units worth USD 110 billion (about Rs 7 lakh crore) will be exported.

A recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) had said India’s mobile manufacturing lacks scale and depth despite its ambition to become global production hub, and the country now needs to “think big” by manufacturing at scale, producing high-end phones, and incentivising exports.

The report, titled ‘Make in India 2.0 (Revisiting Mobile Manufacturing)’ had said the global handsets market is worth about USD 467 billion (about Rs 32 lakh crore), and this demand is being met almost entirely by China, Vietnam, South Korea and Taiwan.

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