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Anna’s village, Amte’s commune on tourist circuit

Coming from the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) stable, here is a chance to visit places associated with the life and works of social reformers including Ralegan Siddhi, Hiware Bazar and Anandvan, among others. If lucky, one can meet the movers and shakers who transformed these places into centres of social reform.

The effort focuses on tourists who want to visit such places but are not well-equipped with information or logistics.

The tours that stretch up to eight days can motivate people who interact with the legends, an MTDC official told TOI. "We realized that Maharashtra has seen the rise of so many social crusaders who transformed their native or chosen places. Many people influenced by such reformers wish to meet them or see the places they have created. These tours address this niche sector of tourists," the official added.

One of the tour packages include visits to Anandvan, Hemalkasa, Somnath, SEARCH (The Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health) and Tadoba, while another includes visits to Ralegan Siddhi, Hiware Bazar, Snehalay, Sawali and Vigyan Ashram.

Close to 250-300 tourists have already availed the tours and met social crusader Anna Hazare and Baba Amte's son Vikas, an official added. The MTDC got in touch with these crusaders who take some time out for the visiting tourists, imparting knowledge intrinsic to their centres.

Source:The Times of India

Over 12,000 winged guests roosting and nesting at Pong Lake Wetland

Dotted with grassy swamps, the Pong Dam wetlands- a wintering ground for the migratory birds from trans- Himalayan and central Asia region, is now fast emerging as ideal summer sojourn destination for many migratory birds.

A day-long summer avian count conducted by the wildlife wing of Himachal Pradesh Forest Department last month has put the numbers of residents as well as migratory birds roosting and nesting in Pong Wetland at 12,314.

The dominant species observed were Cattle Egret (3,348), Little Cormorant (2,003), Small Pratincole (1,377), Little Egret (1,305), Red Wattled Lapwing (1,024). Other important species found recorded breeding in the wetland were the Little Tern (194), Purple Heron (173), Yellow Wattled Lapwing (55), Gull billed Tern (46) and the Great Thick knee (43).

Over the last few years, Pong Dam Lake, also a Ramsar site has recorded a significant number of migratory birds in summer season, besides the heavy influx of winged guests in winter season.

Spread over 307 square km, Pong Lak- also called Maharana Pratap Sagar- emerged due to construction of Pong Dam on Beas River in 1960. It was declared a bird sanctuary in 1983 and was given the status of wetland of national importance in 1994 and got status of Ramsar site in 2002.

So far, 423 species of birds, 18 species of snakes, 90 species of butterflies, 24 species of mammals, 27 species of fishes have been recorded in Pong Wetland.

The avian biodiversity at wetland is attributable to the varied habitat, abundance of food and extended protection by the staff of the Wildlife Wing which has involved the local communities in this enterprise.

Birth of a new planet witnessed

Astronomers of Planets have confirmed the existence of a young gas giant planet that is still embedded in the gas and dust rich disk around its young host star.

For an entire night a high-resolution infrared camera at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile observed only one object although telescope time at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on Mount Paranal is very precious. Analyzing the dataset collected by the instrument called NACO, an international team led by Sascha Quanz of ETH Zurich was able to confirm its earlier hypothesis: a giant planet candidate is orbiting the star named HD 100546.

The object is still in the process of formation and possibly surrounded by a disk from which it continues gathering material, explains researcher Sascha Quanz. How, where and when giant planets form in the disks around young stars was so far mainly addressed via theoretical considerations and computer simulations, but now they have a 'laboratory' from which they can obtain empirical information, added Quanz.

HD 100546 is a young star. In astronomical terms this means that the object is "only" five to ten million years old. Located 335 light-years from Earth it is a relatively nearby cosmic neighbor. The study is published in the Astrophysical Journal.


Exercise keeps your brain young

In a new study, researchers have shown that endurance exercise may help prevent cognitive decline, keeping your brain working fully as you age.

University of Texas researchers attempted to determine the correlation between a person’s cardio fitness and cognitive function in middle-aged adults, and tested the participants by engaging them in moderate or strenuous aerobic exercise for at least four days or seven hours a week, while the sedentary subjects exercised less than one hour a week.

The result? People who exercised also displayed better vascular function, or blood flow in the brain, than the sedentary individuals.

Dr. Martha Pyron, a co-author of the study, said that the findings suggest that middle-age runners not only have better cardiovascular function and health, but also enhanced cognitive performance particularly in the domains linked with age related cognitive decline and impairment.

The study concluded, “Habitual aerobic exercise ameliorates vascular health, an effect which may further translate into improved cognitive performance.”

The study is published in the journal Medicine, and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Source: Source: The Indian Express

Jwala-Ashwini set eyes on World Championships

Having ended their title drought with a win at the Canada Open Grand Prix, doubles exponent Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta have set their eyes on the upcoming World Championships in Jakarta next month (August 10-16). The pair already has a bronze medal to show from the 2011 World Championships, a historic feat for a doubles team in India.

"The title has come at the right time for us just before the World Championships. It will definitely lift our morale and motivate us to do well," Ashwini told Mail Today on her return to India.

"We know the challenge in front of us. It (World Championships) is a big event but we have won a medal before and we will go all out to repeat our show. This year, being an Olympic qualification year, all the tournaments are important and we want to be consistent in our results," she said.

They have risen to World No. 13 in the rankings and would be looking to crack the top-10 for the first time in their career.


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