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Komodo dragons in Chennai

Komodo dragons? In Chennai? Indigenous to Indonesia, the largest living species of lizards were famed for being exclusively found in the Komodo islands. The first ones were bought to England and a couple of other places way back in the 1900s. In that era, the people who brought them back were probably sailors who had never seen anything like them, and hence, named them dragons. They are now bred in captivity in American and European zoos.

Now four young Komodo dragons that have made the Madras Crocodile Bank in Chennai their new home. “This is the first time we have Komodo dragons in India and we are lucky, because this is the perfect climate for them, similar to the one in Komodo,” explains head curator Nikhil Whitaker, son of Crocodile Bank founder Romulus Whitaker.

Four different enclosures each house three males and one female, all three years old, who have recently arrived from Bronx zoo in New York. They can grow to about 10 feet and live up to 25 years. So, aren’t they ready to be seen by visitors? “They just came out of quarantine last week. They are okay, but we won’t be moving them till we build new enclosures. We are currently fund-raising for the same and looking for people to adopt the dragons,” Nikhil said.

Source:The Hindu

Dabba Dol gang fight open defecation

This is an inspiring story of a group of children from Sehore in Madhya Pradesh who set off at the crack of dawn to prevent people from defecating in the open using a unique method. See how these young crusaders in the fight against open defecation are pursuing their communities to stop open defecation.

Called the Dabba Dol gang, the group got the epithet from its leader, 13-year-old Pradeep Mewada, a Class 8 student with an infectious smile and strong determination. Water Aid recently put out the video, where Pradeep tells us that NGO workers told him about maintaining sanitation and stopping the spread of communicable diseases.

The "gang" wakes up at the crack of dawn to accost those going out to defecate in the open. They spill the water in the bottles or vessels the villagers carry with them, so that they abandon the idea since they cannot wash up afterwards – hence the name dabba dol.

Watch their video here


One crore families surrender LPG subsidy

Around one crore families have till date given up cooking gas subsidy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last month. "I want to congratulate those one crore families who gave up their subsidies. It is not a small thing," he said in his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast on All India Radio.

The prime minister recalled how he had urged people to give up the subsidy on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Moreover, over 80 per cent of small-income families of pensioners, farmers, school teachers and shopkeepers, forming the overwhelming bulk of those who surrendered the subsidy, chose to do so by visiting LPG distributors.

"They did not avail of the option of surrender available on mobile apps, online or by simply giving a missed call," he said.

Source: IANS

'Spotlight' to mark World Press Day

The American Center in New Delhi held a special screening of Academy-award winning film 'The Spotlight' to mark the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day recently. The UN General Assembly had designated May 3 as World Press Freedom Day in 1993, to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate press freedom around the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

US Embassy spokesperson Joseph Kruzich said the US and India shared the values of democracy and liberty and both the countries also had a free and independent media. "A total of 1,187 journalists have been killed since 1992 while 452 journalists were forced into exile since 2010. 71 journalists were killed this year. Only 1 in 7 people live in a country with a free press like the United States or India," he said.

Spotlight, a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by Tom McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer, follows The Boston Globe newspaper's investigation unit 'Spotlight' to probe cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in Boston by numerous Roman Catholic priests. The film won the Oscars for the Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay in 2015.

Source: PTI

Angélique Kidjo wins Amnesty award

Amnesty International has given its top 2016 human rights award to Grammy award-winning musician Angélique Kidjo and to three African youth activist movements for their work standing up to injustice.

Benin-born Kidjo and groups Y’en a Marre (Fed Up) from Senegal, Le Balai Citoyen (The Citizen’s Broom) from Burkina Faso and Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA) from the Democratic Republic of Congo have shown “exceptional courage,” Amnesty said.

Kidjo fled her homeland in the 1980s after being pressured to perform for the country’s repressive regime. In a 30-year career spawning 12 albums, she has been a prominent campaigner for freedom of expression and against female genital mutilation. Kidjo and her fellow awardees will be honoured at a ceremony in Dakar, Senegal, on May 28.

Previous winners of the Ambassador of Conscience award include the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi and the rock band U2. Last year it was awarded to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and American singer-songwriter Joan Baez.

Source: theguardian.com