Schoolbag lights up the lives of slum children!

August 5, 2014

 Hindustan Times (Kolkata)
Soumya Pillai  

NEW DELHI: Now, here’s an idea worthy of an A+ — a schoolbag that can be used as a lamp in the dark.

The idea struck 34-year-old creative designer Anusheela Saha when she was talking to her domestic help. She told me about the problems her children faced while studying at night. There are frequent power outages in her slum. This got me thinking,” she said.

Saha’s solution was simple. Attach solar panels to school bags that collect energy during the day to power LED lights in the night. The bags are also equipped with a nifty device that converts a child’s movement into electricity as they walk around during the day.

The backpacks look like regular school bags, but an LED lamp is visible when the front pocket is unzipped. Solar panels are attached to the sides and can power the lamp for more than eight hours.

“Children are out in the sun, walking to school and back and playing in the fields. While they’re doing that, the panels attached to their bags get activated. Any physical activity they undertake while carrying their bags also adds energy,” Saha explained.

One would think such an idea would be immediately picked up by manufacturers, but, after facing several rejections, Saha eventually had to approach a local tailor to give shape to her vision.

The solar panels are imported from China. “I didn’t use locally made panels because they’re heavy,” she said. As a result, the bag weighs just 600gm and is easy to carry.





Modern tram fails to woo passengers

June 26, 2013

By Soudhriti Bhabani in Kolkata

IT’S a part of Kolkata’s rich heritage, yet the vintage tram has failed to attract tourists and passengers in its new, modernised avatar. The state tourism and transport department jointly introduced an AC tram coach with modern comfort and facilities. The initiative, aimed at promoting Kolkata tourism as well as revive the 130- year- old tram system, has been a disappointment as far as ticket sales are concerned. Christened as ‘ Heritage Tour’, the 22- passenger capacity AC tram service was kicked off on Wednesday last. The tram is scheduled to run five days a week, barring Monday and Thursday, twice daily. While it runs for two hours — from 7 am to 9 am — in the morning, its evening run is shorter, around one- and- a- half hours, between 5pm and 7 pm. In the morning it runs from Esplanade to Shyambazar through College Street area and in the evening it plies from Esplanade to Khidirpur. After the official launch, the AC tram remained in the depot for two days owing to bleak response from passengers. On Saturday, when the AC tram finally started its first journey, most of the seats were lying vacant. The response remained poor even on Sunday with only a few passengers hopping on to the AC coach for a heritage ride. A ride on the AC tram costs ` 260 per person and includes breakfast if it’s a morning journey and snacks if one is travelling in the evening. According to sources, the Calcutta Tramways Co get ` 60 per passenger and the remaining amount goes to the state tourism department. Named ‘ Choruibati’, the AC tram cost the tourism department ` 20 lakh and its publicity and ticket booking is being handled by IRCTC, which would soon start online ticket booking for the heritage ride. The CTC is not disheartened with the lack of interest from passengers. “ The initial response has been slow but we are expecting it to improve in the days to come. We are trying popularise it. We also plan to introduce four more AC trams in Kolkata by the end of the current financial year,” said CTC chairman Shantilal Jain. Ride on the AC tram costs ` 260 per person and includes breakfast if it’s a morning journey and snacks if one is travelling in the evening.





The Road Goes Ever On: Route 66 and the American Dream- A Blast from the past

June 17, 2013


(Andreas Feininger—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Cumulus clouds billow above a stretch of Route 66 in Arizona, 1947.)



One could search long and hard before finding a more stirring two-word phrase in the English language than “road trip!” It works with families, couples, old friends, new friends: pack two or more people into a car with some good music, high-sodium snacks and no fixed, unshakable destination, and you’ve got the ingredients for a (more often than not) excellent adventure. After all, the car — or motorcycle, or VW microbus — is far more than a mere utilitarian contrivance. For roughly the past 100 years, ever since Henry Ford began mass-producing his revolutionary Model T, Americans have been engaged in a love affair with automobiles and, in a much larger sense, with the enduring myth of the open road. Has there ever been a culture that extolled movement for the sake of movement as fervently as 20th century America? In movies (It Happened One NightEasy RiderThe Straight StoryLost in America and countless others) and, of course, in popular songs (by Woody Guthrie, Chuck Berry, Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Dylan and the rest) the notion of getting behind the wheel and simply taking off is celebrated to the point where road-tripping feels like a universally embraced national religion. In 1947, Andreas Feininger made a photograph in Arizona that might be the single most perfect picture ever made of the single most famous road in America: Route 66, the 2,400-mile “Mother Road’ that runs from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally across the Mojave to Los Angeles. The picture is a remarkable distillation of an idea: namely, that the American West is a place where people find themselves, or lose themselves, amid heat, sun, open spaces, enormous skies. Despite the fact that Feininger’s photograph is packed with “information” — cars, a bus, human figures, a gas station, a garage, towering clouds, an arrow-straight ribbon of road to the horizon — its essential emptiness can be read as a metaphor for the blank slate that innumerable people have sought in the West. Here is where you can redefine yourself, the scene suggests. Reimagine yourself. Reinvent yourself. Then keep moving. Like the American West itself — or like the mythical West of our collective memory — Feininger’s Route 66 feels both companionable and limitless. We want it to go on forever, and if only we have wheels, and enough time, and enough gas, deep down we believe it can. — Ben Cosgrove is the Editor of


Metro heritage line to exhibit murals

June 5, 2013

Rumu Banerjee, TNN |

NEW DELHI: If history is your passion, travelling on Delhi Metro’s upcoming heritage line could be well worth the effort. Besides connecting several historical monuments, the stations on the line — Central Secretariat to Kashmere Gate —will also exhibit large murals, narratives and artwork of the neighbouring monuments that the line passes through. To begin with, Janpath Metro station will have murals and artwork inspired by Agrasen ki Baoli and Jantar Mantar.

“Delhi is an ancient city, with reminders of itsglorious heritage in the form of monuments and ruins all around. These places are often forgotten and lost in the rapid urbanization. Since the Janpath Metro station lies in the vicinity of the monuments like Jantar Mantar and Agrasen ki Baoli, we wanted to have a collage of various aspects of the structures in a colourful and graphical format,” said a senior Delhi Metro officer.

According to Delhi Metro officials, the murals and other artwork will be displayed in the connecting subways along the network as well. “There are several subways planned as part of the Metro station design along the heritage line. All the subways will have narratives and displays of the nearby monuments,” added the Delhi Metro official.

It’s not just the Janpath station that will have the murals or artwork. Other stations along the line will also exhibit unique and at times, modern takes on the historical monuments that are near the stations. For instance, the Red Fort Metro station will have entry and exit points that will be constructed to look like the neighbouring Mughal architecture. Similarly, the Jama Masjid station as well as the Delhi Gate stations will have distinctive murals, narratives.

The Delhi Metro will use the latest technology while putting up these graphic panels. “The specifications of the work includes an aluminium channel framing which provides the base for mounting panels on existing wall surfaces. Also, 26 gauge galvanized iron (GI)/MS sheets with colour ‘duco’ finish will be used,” added the official.

Incidentally, other Metro stations that have similar displays include Barakhamba, INA, Uttam Nagar and Welcome station. However, here the displays are different with various themes. The heritage line will be the first Metro corridor that will have a consistent artistic theme of historical buildings but with differing monuments in each station.

According to officials, with thousands of people visiting the Delhi Metro every day, stations can be a “very important vantage point for communicating ideas to the public”. “The large size and bold use of colours and modern abstract forms will also lighten up the walls of the stations,” added the official.


9,400 free passes issued in six months at Pimpalgaon toll plaza

June 5, 2013

NASHIK: The number of motorists who have taken a free pass through the Pimpalgaon toll plaza (around 30 km from Nashik city) on the widened 60-km stretch on the Mumbai-Agra national highway, has gone beyond 9,400 over the past six months.

The Pimpalgaon-Nashik-Gonde (PNG) Tollways, responsible for widening the highway, had expected only about 4,000 vehicles to take free rides through the toll plaza.

Officials of PNG Tollways said they have already issued 9,400 free passes and still counting. the process was still underway

They said that Pimplagaon was probably the only toll plaza in the state, or even the entire country, where such a large number of people had availed of the free passes.

The motorists who have availed free passes include owners of cars and light commercial vehicles like pick-up vans and other vehicles used for transporting agri produce. Meanwhile, the number of vehicles that have availed of the concessional passes is only 600.

The PNG Tollways, which undertook the work of road widening of the Pimpalgaon-Gonde stretch in October 2010, tried to start the toll-collection process in October 2012, on completion of 75% of the work. However, the political leaders and farmers of the Pimpalgaon area stalled the collection on various occasions, bringing up new issues every single time.

Initially, the agitators demanded full completion of the road work before the commencement of toll collection, followed by a claim for complete waiver of toll fee for residents within 20 km of the toll plaza. The agitators then demanded complete waiver for all taxis and vehicles of the state carrying agriculture produce.

Taking into account the frequent objections to the toll collections, the construction company cancelled the Rs 200 fee for motorists residing within the radius of 20 km of the toll plaza, followed by slashing of 75% of the fees for taxis and 50% for trucks registered within 20 km radius of the toll plaza.

However, the political leaders and other activists yet again stalled the toll collection on January 9. On the same day, the PNG lodged complaints against 200 agitators even as it gave in to their demands and once again stalled the process of toll collection.

Subsequently, in a meeting called by district guardian minister Chhagan Bhujbal, it was decided that the toll company would commence its operations, while the responsibility of providing security would rest with the district administration.

The toll collection thus resumed on January 22, in the midst of a thick bandobast provided by the rural police initially. Meanwhile, since the work of the flyover in Nashik is also over and will be thrown open to traffic anytime now, the PNG is likely to increase the toll fees by 60%. The staff, however, fears another agitation in the offing with the rise in the toll prices.

Agni-2 launched, accurately hits target area

April 8, 2013

Agni-2 launched, accurately hits target area

India successfully test fired its nuclear-capable Agni II missile for the second time on Sunday, from Balasore, a strategically located city in Odisha, after testing it for the first time in 2010.

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