How to tackle childhood obesity?

'Cute, 'chubby' and 'healthy' are some of the euphemisms we use to refer to children and adolescents who are on the heavier side. This practice should be stopped because the statistics paint a scary picture. According to UNICEF'S World Obesity Atlas for 2022, India is predicted to have more than 27 million obese children, representing one in 10 children globally, by 2030.

What is childhood obesity?

"Childhood obesity means when the child is too overweight for his/her age and height. Being overweight is problematic as this leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and many other complex health conditions," points out Annavi Khot, a Pune-based nutritionist and personal fitness trainer. The easiest way to stay healthy is by 'moving'. Khot observes that in the last two years, the number of mothers approaching her, seeking help for their kids, has gone up. "During the lockdown, most children did nothing but eat unhealthy food and watch a lot of online shows and films. There have also been cases where playing a sport is not encouraged! This is a sad state of affairs, but kids imitate their parents and their lifestyle. It is the parent's responsibility to practise a healthy lifestyle," she says.

Children should engage in a sport that they enjoy so that they make it a part of their lifestyle. It is very important for kids to move; they should have great stamina, mobility and strength, not only for performance but also for their mental health.

Eating food minus nutrients

Junk food, packaged food, etc. appeal to the taste buds, but lack the nutrients necessary for a growing child. Medical practitioners say they are dealing with teenaged patients who are both 'under-nutritioned' and over-nutritioned. Over-nutrition results in the child becoming overweight or obese.

Healthier, tastier options

"Mothers, kids will eat healthy food if it tastes well! Please learn some healthy recipes -there are tonnes of books and videos available. Don't think that healthy food is boring!" says Khot. "You should have your nutrition comprising all the necessary vitamins and minerals, good fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are a must every single day!"

Try experimenting with food. Instead of regular pasta, you can have ragi (finger millet) pasta with lots of veggies. You can switch to pizzas, burgers and frankies made from multigrain bread Restrict your intake of junk food to once a week.

 Talking about packaged food, Khot warns. "Watch out for different names of sugar used in the packaging. Eat home-cooked meats and healthy snacks in place of processed foods.”

 A nutritionist should be consulted before putting any diet plan into practice.

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First map of an insect brain completed

The brain is not only the most complex organ of the body but also one of the most complex things we have yet discovered in the universe. Understanding the human brain and how we think is one of the greatest challenges confronting us.

As we continue to study this wonderful organ, we are taking baby steps towards our ultimate goal. An international team of researchers led by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cambridge recently produced the most detailed diagram of the brain of a larval fruit fly, tracing every neural network in it. The results were published in the journal Science early in March and serves as an archetypal scientific model with brains comparable to humans.

Creating connectomes

The idea of mapping a brain began as early as the 1970s when researchers conducted a 14-year study on roundworms. It resulted in a partial map and also a Nobel Prize. Partial connectomes (map of neural connections in the brain) of several systems, including flies mice, and even humans have since been developed, but these reconstructions usually represent only a tiny fraction of the brain. Comprehensive connectomes have been generated for small species such as roundworms and larval sea squirt.

In this research, the team produced the connectome of a baby fruit fly,’ Drosophila melanogaster larva’. With 3,016 neurons and 5,48,000 connections between them, this is the most expansive map of an entire insect brain ever completed.

Laborious process

Mapping brains is not only difficult, but also extremely time-consuming, despite the latest technology at the disposal of these researchers. To build a complete cellular-level map of the brain, the brain first needs to be sliced into thousands of tissue samples, which are imaged with electron microscopes, before- reconstructing the pieces, neuron by neuron, to create the portrait of the brain.

While the imaging alone took the team nearly a day per neuron (meaning around 3,000 days were spent on the task), the overall work took the University of Cambridge and Johns Hopkins 12 years. The team chose fruit fly larva as the species, for an insect shares a lot of its fundamental biology with humans.

The methods developed by this team for the mapping are applicable to any brain connection project. They are going to make the code used available to whoever attempts to map an even larger animal brain.

Despite the challenges involved, scientists are expected to take on the brain of the mouse, maybe even in the next decade. But as British zoologist and author of ‘The Idea of the Brain’ sums up in his book, knowing where things happen doesn't necessarily translate to knowing how it happens, and our understanding of how still has a long way to go.

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What are the oldest surviving photographs of moon?

In March 1840, English-born American John William Draper clicked what are now the oldest surviving photographs of the moon. Using the daguerreotype process that had just been invented, Draper clicked the photograph that showed lunar features.

The smartphones in our hands these days are so powerful and equipped with great cameras that all we need to do to click a photograph of the moon is to wait for the moon to make its appearance and then take a photograph. It wasn't always this easy though. In fact, the oldest surviving photographs of the moon are less than 200 years old. The credit for taking those photographs goes to English-born American scientist, philosopher, physician, chemist, historian and photographer John William Draper.

 Born in England in 1811, Draper went to the U.S. in 1832. After receiving a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, he moved to New York University in 1837 and was one of the founders of NYU’s School of Medicine in 1840. He not only taught there for most of his life, but also served as the president of the med school for 23 years.

Learns Daguerre's process

 His interest in medicine, however, didn't keep him away from dabbling with chemistry too. The chemistry of light-sensitive materials fascinated Draper and he learned about the daguerreotype process of photography after the news arrived in the U.S. from Europe. French artist and photographer Louis Daguerre had invented the process only in 1839.

Draper attempted to improve the photographic process of Daguerre and succeeded in ways to increase plate sensitivity and reduce exposure times. These advances not only allowed him to produce some of the best portrait photographs of the time, but also let him peer into the skies to try and capture the moon.

He met with failure in his first attempts over the winter of 1839-40. He tried to make daguerreotypes of the moon from his rooftop observatory at NYU, but like Daguerre before him, was unsuccessful. The images produced were either underexposed, or were mere blobs of light in a murky background at best.

Birth of astrophotography

 By springtime in March 1840, however, Draper was successful, thereby becoming the first person ever to produce photographs of an astronomical object. He was confident enough to announce the birth of astrophotography to the New York Lyceum of Natural History, which later became the Academy of Sciences. On March 23, 1840, he informed them that he had created a focussed image of the moon.

The exact date when he first achieved it isn't very clear. While the photograph on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which cannot be shown here due to rights restrictions) is believed to have been clicked on March 16 based on his laboratory notebook, the one pictured here was by most accounts on the night of March 26, three days after he had announced his success. The fact that many of Draper's original daguerreotypes were lost in an 1865 fire at NYU, and that daguerreotype photographs themselves don't have a long shelf life unless well-preserved from the moment they were taken means that the ones remaining become all the more significant.

The moon pictured here shows an extensively degraded plate with a vertically flipped last quarter moon, meaning the lunar south is near the top. This shows that Draper used a device called the heliostat to keep light from the moon focussed for a 20-minute-long exposure on the plate. They are of the same we and same circular image area as that of his first failed attempts.

Conflict thesis

Apart from being a physician and the first astrophotographer, Draper also has other claims to fame. He was the invited opening speaker in the famous 1860 meeting at Chford University where English naturalist Charles Darwin's ‘Origin of Species’ was the subject of discussion. He is also well known for his book ‘A History of the Conflict between Religion and Science’ which was published in 1874. This book marks the origin of what is known as the "conflict thesis” about the incompatibility of science and religion.

While we will probably never know on which particular March 1840 night Draper captured the first lunar image, his pioneering achievement set the ball rolling for astronomical photography. The fact that he achieved it with a handmade telescope attached to a wooden box with a plate coated with chemicals on the back makes it all the more remarkable.

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What is the significance of celebrating water Day on 22nd March every year?

While World Water Day (March 22) is a celebration of an invaluable resource, it is also a stark reminder of the need to conserve it and ensure everyone has access to it.

Water, water everywhere, but...

Given the number of waterbodies on Earth and their vastness, water shouldn't be a concern for us, right? Well, despite covering more than two-thirds of our planet, most of these waterbodies about 97 %-are oceans, meaning it's all saltwater, which we cannot use. Not all of the remaining 3% of freshwater is available to us either because much of it is trapped in glaciers, icebergs, etc. Which is why we have very little freshwater globally from rain and rivers. While climate change-induced global warming is the cause of a lot of our water problems today, poor global water management too is a reason that many people do not have access to clean water. And it is this aspect that this year’s World Water Day seeks to draw our attention to water and sanitation crisis.

What is water and sanitation crisis?

Most of us have access to clean water-all we have to do is just open a tap (at home at school, and at most places we may travel to). But this is not a common scenario for everyone in the world. In some countries, and even in many places in our own country, people do not have access to clean water. According to the UN, 1 person out of 10 does not have access to safe water, and 1 out of 4 lacks access to a toilet. Especially in rural areas and dry regions, people-invariably women and girls - walk afar (often trudging for hours) to fetch pots of water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. This very act can steal several hours a day from them, denying women time for themselves or time that can be used for income-generating work to empower themselves. Children could end up not having time to go to school, costing them their education, and may not have time for playing either. In fact, travelling to remote places to fetch water can put women and children in unsafe places, endangering them. And, when water becomes a luxury, priority is likely to be accorded to drinking, cooking, etc., leaving very little to be used for bathing, washing, etc. When residential houses do not have toilets, people may resort to open defecation, which could lead to health concerns Also, if schools do not have toilets, girls may choose to skip school, particularly during menstruation. Further, if the water available is not safe or clean enough for use, it could lead to disease, if the only earning member of a less privileged family loses their livelihood or life to a disease, it could trigger the collapse of that entire family.

The focus this year

The focus of 2023's World Water Day is on "accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis". This is also closely linked to U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goal No. 6-"Clean Water and Sanitation”. To take this message across to everyone globally, the UN has launched "Be The Change", a campaign that "encourages people to take action in their own lives to change the way they use, consume and manage water”. It helps us see how small actions matter (see box below). While it is important for governments the world over to initiate steps at international and national levels to conserve water, each of us, irrespective of our age or gender, has it in us to make a difference When we are judicious with the use of our resources, including water, everyone may have access to that resource, quietly ensuring equity in our world.

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What is phatic communication?

When people talk to each other during a typical day, the conversation need not necessarily be meaningful. This kind of chatting is for social purposes, what we disparagingly refer to as ‘small talk.’ For example, saying 'hello' on the phone, telling someone to have a nice day, enquiring about someone's health or even talking about the weather. These clichéd phrases and ice-breakers are instances of phatic communication.

Phatic communication can be verbal or non-verbal. Non-verbal examples include a simple wave, a thumbs-up signal, a handshake, or a pat on the back.

We may call it small talk. Some people dislike it while others simply cannot do without it! However, phatic communication is important if we want to keep our social connections alive and ticking.

Sociologists say that small talk, such as remarking on the weather, can lead to more significant communication. Very few people start and end conversations with straight facts. Some kind of phatic communication such as a 'hi' or a smile, or even a passing comment prepares the stage.

The social media platforms available on the Internet are perfect examples of phatic communication where participants are strangers and need not be knowledgeable to take part in an ongoing chat. In the office setting, Co-workers have water cooler conversations or tea break banter.

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What is a bento?

A bento is a lunchbox or tiffin box that is uniquely Japanese. It typically consists of a container with multiple compartments for different kinds of food such as rice, vegetables, meat, sauces, etc. A true bento has food that is home-cooked and most importantly, attractively presented.

Bento is thought to have first become popular during the Edo Period (1600-1867). Elaborately decorated lacquer food containers were brought to the theatre and other leisure outings such as picnics. In fact, bento became a symbol of wealth and status.

Gradually, bento boxes came to be regarded as expressions of a mother’s love for her child. In the 2000s, it turned into a fierce mommy contest with the appearance of ‘character bento' known as chara-ben- lunches made to look like pandas, teddy bears or even real people! A whole industry sprang up to churn out cute containers, food picks and other food tools to facilitate the making of chara-ben.

Today, there is enormous pressure even on working mothers, to send kids to school with beautiful bento. Celebrities known as ‘mama talent’ have hundreds of thousands of followers who share their bento on social media.

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What is no-till farming?

It is a method of farming by which crops are grown without disturbing the soil by tilling. If there is no tilling the crop residue on the soil prevents evaporation of rain water and more water infiltrates the soil. There is better retention of organic matter in the soil and nutrients are well recycled, thereby improving the fertility of the soil. It minimises soil erosion and no ploughing means there is no air-blown dust. It is more profitable as it does away with the labour, irrigation and machinery associated with tilling.

Tilling also damages ancient structures like burial mounds under the earth as archaeologists have found in the UK

It was Edward Faulkner's book "Plowman's Folly" which started the idea of no-till farming in the 1940s. No-till farming is widely practised in the U.S. Indian farmers started adopting the practice in the 1960s. In the Indo-Gangetic plains, rice-wheat cultivation is done using this method. In parts of Andhra Pradesh, rice-maize cultivation is done without tilling.

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A new way to tackle planet-heating CO2

How can you capture carbon? We know that forests and oceans act as carbon sinks. Can we employ mechanisms to capture carbon dioxide so that the carbon emissions can be prevented? Enter Carbon capture and storage (CCS).

A technology employed to sequester carbon dioxide, CCS prevents the release of CO2 post the conventional power generation and industrial production processes.

Here, the CO2 is injected in suitable underground storage reservoirs. The capture technology works by separating CO2 emissions from the process and the compressed COZ gets transported through pipelines or gets shipped to a geological storage location where it is then injected.

One may wonder where these geological storage locations are situated at. Well, they are the abandoned oil and gas fields, deep saline formations, and unmineable coal seams. This technology enables the use of fossil fuels whilst ensuring the CO2 emissions are also significantly reduced.

Now, scientists have found a new way to sequester carbon. The idea is to turn it into sodium bicarbonate and store it in oceans.

According to a research paper published in the journal ‘Science Advances’ recently, the new technique is found to be more efficient than the current carbon capture technology, in fact, three times more efficient. It could be a new step in addressing the climate crisis by removing carbon from the air.

The study focusses on direct air capture. Even with the conventional carbon-capturing mechanism, only relatively small amounts of carbon can be captured. It makes the whole process challenging and expensive. That's where the new study holds promise. It follows the direct air capture method but the research team used copper to modify the absorbent material. As such, the absorbent can remove CO2 from the atmosphere at ultra-dilute concentrations. The usage of copper helps increase the capacity of the absorbent to two to three times.

Even the material can be produced with ease and is cheap. Thus the cost incurred in direct air capture can be reduced. After the carbon dioxide is captured, it is turned into sodium bicarbonate or baking soda Sea water is used for this and then the sodium bicarbonate is released into the ocean in small concentrations.

There is, however, the challenge of disposing of tonnes of sodium bicarbonate in the ocean as it could amount to "dumping".

The negative impacts on the ocean cannot be dismissed. Scientists are also of the opinion that such carbon capture technologies may distract us from the core target of reducing the burning of fossil fuels and instead give us a licence to continue being large-scale polluters.

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Replacing ‘Hello’ with ‘Heaven-o’

Leonso Canales Jr. was on cloud nine. It was the beginning of a new year in 1997, and he had emerged victorious in his battle against a pervasive threat that had plagued his community in Kingsville, Texas for years. But this was not your typical pest or villain - it was a simple word. Hello.

For nearly a decade, the 56-year-old veteran and proud owner of a local flea market had harboured a deep disdain for the word. It all started in 1988 when he answered a call from his brother and suddenly realised that the innocent greeting could also be interpreted as a curse, as it entailed the word 'hell'.

 That moment was like a slap in the face, he recalled in a 1997 column by John Kelso in the Austin American-Statesman. Canales was frustrated with the negative connotations attached to a word that was so commonly used to initiate conversations. He began to advocate for an alternative, suggesting ‘God-o,’ but his brother countered with heaven-o, which he liked even more.

However, It was not until November of 1996 that Canales took his campaign to the next level, purchasing ads in the local Kingsville newspaper promoting ‘heaven-o' while crossing out ‘hello.’ He continued his crusade by proposing a resolution to the Kleberg County commissioners, urging them to adopt heaven-o' as the official greeting of the county.

According to Canales, the new greeting would serve as a symbol of peace, friendship, and welcome, benefiting everyone living in what he felt was the “age of anxiety." And on a momentous day in January 1997, the commissioners unanimously voted in favour of the resolution, cementing the triumph of Canales mission to replace the ubiquitous 'hello' with the more positive ‘heaven-o.’

Canales’ quest to replace 'hello' with heaven-o' did not just capture the attention of local officials in Texas; it also landed him on international news programmes through satellite interviews. Despite some pushback from a man named Carl Matthews who claimed to have coined the phrase decades earlier, Canales remained undeterred. In an interview, Matthews claimed that Canales would have to "yield" to his copyright of the phrase, comparing it to finding a lost wallet and returning it to its rightful owner. However, as it turns out, catchphrases like 'heaven-o' are not protected by copyright law-only trademarks are.

In the end, Canales legacy as the inventor of the blessed jovial greeting remained untarnished. When he passed away in 2014, his obituary lauded him as a "world-renowned figure", thanks to his innovative greeting. There was no mention of Matthews, perhaps indicating that Canales had never acknowledged him as the true creator of heaven-o'.

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What can be done to conserve save the population of fish?

As fish populations decrease globally, researchers assert that the focus should be on working with other countries rather than on just local numbers. Why is that? Come, let's find out.

Political boundaries are the work of humans. Wildlife do not recognise them. And, fish are no different. Dwelling in water bodies, they freely cross countries. Studies have indicated that there a few fish species that "migrate over long distances". As it happens, fish egg and/or larvae may originate in one place and be carried to faraway places (this could be to even other countries), thanks to ocean currents. "Often one nation's fish stocks depend on the spawning grounds of a neighboring country, where fish release eggs and sperm into the water and Larvae hatch from fertilized eggs."

A recent study has discovered that "global fisheries are even more tightly connected than previously understood". With fish and spawn connected to several regions, the world's coastal marine fisheries are essentially "a single network", aided by ocean currents. Ocean current patterns vary with seasons. But, mostly these currents are sluggish (though there are a few regions where the currents are faster). Despite this, spawn can travel far. Here's an example. "Even a gentle current of 0.1 miles per hour can carry spawn 40 miles over a month, and some species can float for several months." Add to this the fact that different "fish species spawn in different seasons, and a single species may spawn in several months at different locations", and what we get is fish species in one country steadily arriving from or drifting to other countries over different periods of time.

So what happens is that if fish populations in one region dwindle. "the amount of fish spawn, or eggs and larvae, riding the ocean currents from there to other countries would also decline dramatically, resulting in further loss of fish elsewhere". To ensure food security and employment to those dependent on fishing, it is important for countries to understand this deep interconnectedness of global waters and chalk out ways to guard them.

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Have you heard about multilateralism?

During the recently held Group of Twenty (G20) Foreign Minister’s meeting. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said multilateralism is in crisis today as global governance has failed in preventing wars and upholding international cooperation. Let us learn more about multilateralism.

What is multilateralism?

 Multilateralism is the process of organising relations between groups of several states. It is usually associated with the period after the Second World War as numerous multilateral agreements were signed, though led primarily by the U.S. Indivisibility is the core principle of multilateralism. For instance, if a war is declared against a state, then all the states in a multilateral set up are considered to be at war against the opponent.

Multilateralism helps in developing a bond among nations, discourages unilateralism, enables small powers to voice their opinions, and empowers them to exercise their rights.

Organisations embodying the principle of multilateralism include World Health Organisation (WHO), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). They provide the global framework for peace and stability.

Multilateralism vs. unilateralism vs. bilateralism

The basic difference between unilateralism, bilateralism, and multilateralism is that unilateralism supports one-sided action.

Bilateralism means coordination between two countries, and multilateralism is coordination among more than three countries.

Multilateralism requires states to follow international norms in contrast to unilateralism, where a single state can influence how international relations can be conducted.

Multilateralism vs. multipolarity

Multilateralism is an institutional form that coordinates relations among three or more states on the basis of generalised principles of conduct.

Multipolarity is the system where more than two competing nations have almost equal power and influence on the global economy, society, culture, and military. The concept came about after the Second World War as it became clear that the U.S. would no longer be the single great power globally (during the Cold War it was a bipolar world led by the U.S. and the U.S.S.R).

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What is MPD 2041?

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) recently released its draft Master Plan 2041 for the city of Delhi, What is it for and what are its proposals? Come, let's find out.

The DDA draft Master Plan 2041 for Delhi (MPD 2041) addresses many key challenges facing Delhi. Its aim is to provide a comprehensive framework for sustainable and inclusive development of the city over the next two decades.

Facelift for Delhi

The plan, prepared by the DDA, covers various aspects of urban planning, including land pooling, housing for all sections of society, green area and infrastructure development, innovative interventions, heritage, rejuvenation of the Yamuna, and checking pollution among others. It largely focusses on the policies of environment, economy, mobility, culture, and public spaces.

One of the highlights of the plan is its emphasis on promoting development, where residential, commercial, and recreational spaces are integrated within a neighbourhood. This approach not only aims at encouraging walking but also fostering a sense of community and social interaction. The plan addresses the issue of affordable housing for all and also seeks to create more green spaces and public parks in the city. It prioritises environment sustainability by promoting waste management and use of renewable energy sources.

Transit-oriented development

 Another important aspect is its focus on transit-oriented development, which aims at reducing reliance on private vehicles and promoting use of public transportation. A comprehensive network of metro, bus, and cycling infrastructure with emphasis on last-mile connectivity is part of the plan. This aims at not only reducing traffic congestion and checking air pollution but also making the city more liveable.

The draft MPD 2041 was approved by Lt Governor V K Saxena, who is also the chairman of the DDA, on February 28. It is expected to usher in a new era of development and guide future growth of the national capital.

According to the officials, the draft MPD 2041 has been divided into two volumes, comprising 10 chapters which encapsulate the vision to "foster a sustainable, liveable and vibrant Delhi".

The MPD is a statutory document that facilitates Delhi's development by assessing the present condition and guiding how to achieve the desired development.

First MPD

The first MPD was promulgated in 1962 under the Delhi Development Act, 1957. These plans are prepared for a 20-year perspective period, providing a holistic framework for the planned development of the city. The last master plan of the city was the MPD 2021.

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What was Gabriel Garcia Marquez famous for?

A master storyteller, Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez ushered in a new era in the literary world by weaving magic with reality and giving a fresh spin to the conventional style of storytelling. The literary fiction style of magical realism has supernatural and dreamlike elements blended into the temporal world. Let's read up on the author whose birth anniversary falls in March.

Tiny yellow flowers rain from the sky, magic carpets fly, villagers get haunted by ghosts, corpses do not decompose and trickles of blood climb stairs! The real and the magic merge here. Colombian novelist and Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez took fiction to a whole new level, seamlessly integrating fantasy and dreamlike elements into realistic settings. What he started came to be referred to as magical realism. Perhaps Márquez is one of the few Latin American authors who enjoyed so much international success. His works were universal and got translated into dozens of languages and sold by millions. Be it critical acclaim or widespread commercial success, Marquez enjoyed it all.

Early years

Born in Aracataca, Colombia in 1927, Márquez was the eldest of 16 children. His parents were Luisa Santiaga Márquez and Gabriel Elijio Garcia. His father was a postal clerk and telegraph operator. A large part of his childhood was spent living with his grandparents. He has mentioned that his maternal grandfather, Nicolas Márquez Mejia, a retired army man, was a great influence on him. He often called him the most important figure of my life when he was a teenager. Márquez moved to Bogotá. Although he began to study law here he abandoned his studies and started working as a journalist. He started working for the Colombian newspaper ‘El Espectador’. In the 1950s and 1960s, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Paris, Rome, Barcelona, New York and so on. He then decided to focus on creative writing.

Literary career                                                                                                                                

Marquez is synonymous with magical realism. He popularised the unique literary style of storytelling where reality and fantasy blend seamlessly. Marquez was also an avid reader. In an interview, he once remarked "I cannot imagine how anyone could even think of writing a novel without having at least a vague of idea of the 10.000 years of literature that have gone before.” Having said that Marquez always made sure that he never imitated the writers he admired. While Marquez is widely known for his work "One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1967) which earned him the Pulitzer Prize his non-fiction works and short stories are equally famous "Love in the Time of Cholera” (1985) is yet another famous novel of his.

When the newspaper where he worked was shut down. Marquez went jobless. Event while he was stranded in Paris and doing odd jobs, he started working on two novels titled “No One Writes to the Colonel” and “In Evil Hour” which were published in 1961 and 1962 respectively. Incidentally, the first novel "Leaf Storm” was published in 1955

"One Hundred Years of Solitude"

His masterstroke arrived in the form of “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, where the story revolves around the isolated town of Macondo. The fantastical and magical elements in the story are written in such a way that they look like they are rooted in reality.

Marquez got inspired to write the story when he was driving to Acapulco, Mexico. He had moved to Mexico City by then. On reaching home, he tried to give shape to his idea and spent 18 months writing the novel. The book was published in 1967 and was an instant success so much so that it was sold out within days. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.

Magical realism

While Marquez is regarded as one who invented magical realism, the author never made any such claim. He often said that some elements of the genre had appeared earlier in Latin American literature. This style of writing later inspired writers across including Isabel Allende and Salman Rushdie.

He died of pneumonia in 2014 at the age of 87.

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What is Reverse psychology?

Have you heard of the expressions reverse psychology", “reverse auction", "reverse brainstorming” or reverse mentoring”? What do they mean? Come on, let’s find out.

Reverse psychology

Reverse psychology is a technique by which one can get the other person to do what one wants by asking him to do just the opposite. For instance, a mother can ask her child to remain indoors when she actually wants the child to play outdoors. The naturally resistant child will surely go out to play. This manipulative method generally works with many people, but excessively sharp children or adults can sense the truth, especially if there are repeated instances.

This technique is used in treatment of patients. Agreeing with the patient rather than advising him against a particular unacceptable behaviour can actually dissuade the person from doing what he wants. This 'anti-suggestion’, pretending to agree puts the situation or the person's thinking in a new perspective.

For example a school girl who is extremely troublesome in school is brought to a doctor. After listening to what she does in school the doctor says. "If I were you I would do more. Try more tantrums. It will be fun. “Then the girl will start trying to heed the doctor’s advice but in the process lose interest in her odd behaviour.

Reverse auction

In a regular auction, the buyers compete with one another, quoting higher and higher prices for a product. In a reverse auction, the buyer puts up a request for a product or service. Sellers then place bids for the amount they want. The sellers underbid each other and at the end of the auction, the seller bidding for the lowest amount wins. Reverse auctions work when there are multiple sellers connecting with a buyer. They are more common online.

Reverse brainstorming

The method of reverse brainstorming is used in commercial fields. A company that wants a product assessment and is looking to find ways to improve it can throw negative questions at the customer. For example, what is the worst thing about this product? Or what would you suggest to make this product fail? A light-hearted session may lead to amazing insights into the product and ways of improving it at the same time winning customer's faith.

Reverse mentoring

Reverse mentoring is a method adopted in companies where old executives are paired with young employees so that they (older executives) can be guided on new technology, current trends and social media. This kind of mentoring has also been found to close the generation gap and create a cordial atmosphere, ruling out conflicts.

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What does World Wildlife Day signify?

March 3 was World Wildlife Day- and the 50th birthday of CITES. The day may have passed us by.

 But it carried with it a crucial reminder about the wildlife in our planet and how partnerships are extremely vital and urgent to keep their world-and ours-going.

What does World Wildlife Day signify?

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed March 3 as World Wildlife Day. The date was significant because it was the day the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was born, way back in 1973. So, the World Wildlife Day this year also marks an important landmark in CITES's history-its 50th anniversary. According to the United Nations, the day aims "to celebrate all the world's wild animals and plants and the contribution that they make to our lives and the health of the planet. As a congratulatory nod to the work CITES has been doing for five decades through global collaboration, the theme this year is "Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation".

Problems facing wildlife today

Wildlife populations are declining at an unprecedented rate today. The UN says that one in eight species of wildlife is threatened with extinction. Habitat loss is a grave threat faced by animals as humans continue to destroy their natural environment with development work Climate change has added to this concern as extreme weather events too obliterate their living spaces, displacing, injuring or killing them. Apart from these, aspects such as illegal wildlife trade, pollution, invasive species, habitat degradation, hunting, poaching, exploitation of natural resources, and diseases also play a significant role in bringing species numbers down. Each existing and new threat exerts more pressure on their already fragile world.

There's always hope!

Despite the grim picture, we may still be able to save our wildlife. And that's exactly what this year’s theme for World Wildlife Day is about- "Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation". Think about it. There's hardly any place on Earth that we humans have not left our footprint on. While this is perhaps a cause for concern, we could turn it around and make it work for us - and the wildlife. This access could be used for awareness and preservation. As local communities, armed with knowledge we could understand our local environment and wildlife better. Once we strengthen our understanding of the reality, the problems, and the initiatives needed to set them right it is vital to get into action. We can bring issues to the attention of governments and the private sector to find lasting solutions to local concerns. And the most powerful tool that we have for helping our wildlife is the knowledge of indigenous communities - "our world's most effective guardians of biodiversity", as the U.N. puts it.

How you can help

While governments, the private sector, local and indigenous communities can play an important part in conservation efforts, the role of individuals cannot be stressed enough. Kids too can contribute immensely towards wildlife conservation. Here are just a few simple steps

  • With the help of adults, make a list of local plants. At home, try to raise a few that host butterflies: they can be raised even in a pot on the terrace.
  • Learn about your environment. This includes the names of trees, the creatures living in and around them, what they feed on, their flowering/ breeding season, etc.
  • Visit national parks and sanctuaries to see animals in their natural habitats. Say no to exotic pets.
  • Save natural resources. For instance, find ways to conserve water, electricity, and fuel. Try to walk or use a bicycle when travelling short distances. For longer distances, opt for public transport. These simple measures will help preserve our planet, making it more liveable for wildlife.

Picture Credit : Google