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World Photography Day 2019: How to give your best shot



Smartphones with top-of-the-line camera technologies and filters have made everyone a photographer and according to professional lensmen, you can achieve great shots with some training and perspective.

Ahead of the World Photography Day that falls on August 19, Sreekumar Krishnan who is an iPhone photography winner have some tip for the wannabes who can try their hands on premium smartphones which are equal, or even better, than a DSLR.

“I have done extensive research before shifting into iPhones and the main reason is image quality, photographing composing and execute the images quickly”, Sreekumar Krishnan from Karnataka told IANS.

“The advance A12 Bionic chip is able to process vast data from the image, analyse for portraits using facial recognition to bring about better Portrait shots in various light conditions,” added Krishnan who bagged top honours at the iPhone Photography Awards 2019 (IPPAWARDS) edition.

His picture of Lord Ram statue titled “Piercing the Sky” was adjudged the best in the “Sunset” category.

“It is all about the angle/perspective. Do not shoot cliche images of the same place, do proper research on the destination and learn from images taken by others of the same location”, said Ashish Parmar, another award winning iPhone photographer. He shoots on iPhone but prefers to edit on iPad owing to larger screen.

“Shoot local culture, food, people and landscapes. Try to include people or yourself while taking these shots as viewers would like to see how it would look if they did the trip,” he added while sharing some tips on travel photography.


Books & Authors

The Gujarat model comes to Delhi, writes Rajdeep Sardesai



Long before Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), there was Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara. In May 2007, a group of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists stormed into an exhibition being held in the university by a fine arts student, Chandramohan, and physically assaulted him, while claiming that his paintings offended their religious sentiments. The police entered soon after, and arrested the artist. When the faculty intervened, they too were threatened with arrest. The vice-chancellor (VC) refused to file any First Information Report (FIR) or extend any support to students. Instead, the faculty was given suspension notices while the VHP activists were let off by the police.

Sounds familiar? The truth is, the impunity with which a mob of masked goons ran amok in the JNU campus, even as a timid and partisan administration chose not to act, is not without precedence, and only suggests that a system of “controlling” universities through untrammelled State power has moved from Vadodara to the heart of the national capital.

Gujarat, in particular, has seen a calculated attempt in recent times to stifle all forms of dissent on the campus in the name of enforcing discipline. The conscious de-politicisation of the campus has not been done with the idea of raising academic standards, but in ensuring a stultifying regimentation that prevents the student community from mobilising on contentious issues.

Student union elections are held irregularly. For example, Gujarat University has not held student elections for the past four years, and only last week, the authorities finally offered to hold elections in March. Even more glaring is the manner in which VC are chosen to head the universities, solely on the basis of their loyalty to the ruling party. A former Gujarat University VC became the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson after his term ended, while the current pro-VC is also a party functionary. A BJP media cell member is the VC of the Kachchh University as is the case also with the North Gujarat University. VCs have often been appointed based on their political allegiances by previous regimes too, but the sheer brazenness in choosing party members to head a university makes nonsense of any claim of autonomous institutions.

Even private universities in Gujarat have been unable to resist political pressure. Ahmedabad University, for example, was forced to withdraw the appointment of renowned historian Ramachandra Guha as a distinguished professor after the political leadership reportedly vetoed it. Guha has been a critic of the BJP/Sangh parivar, but that a formidable intellectual and Gandhi biographer would be denied the opportunity to teach in the land of the Mahatma only because of his ideological views reflects the distance that Gujarat has travelled from the tolerant, accommodating spirit of the state’s greatest figure.

Ironically, it is the students of Gujarat who first lit the spark of anti-establishment anger that would eventually build into a wider nationwide protest movement against Indira Gandhi’s Emergency in the 1970s. Narendra Modi himself claims to have been a part of the Nav Nirman Andolan, which began in 1973 when students in a local Ahmedabad college went on strike in protest against a 20% hike in hostel food fees, an agitation that rapidly spread across the state.

Today, it is likely that the student protesters of the 1970s would be dubbed by the government as “urban Naxals”, “tukde tukde gang” and “anti-nationals” who need to be packed-off to Pakistan. Where once the space for dissent was valued, and even supported, today any contrarian view attracts instant vilification. Where once taking a political stand was encouraged, today students are being pushed to abandon any form of political activity by the same leaders who claim to have emerged from the embryo of student politics.

The lame excuse offered by the ruling elite for the need to “control” the campuses is that this was precisely how their opponents behaved when they were in power. The Left Front’s culture of violence and intimidation in West Bengal during its long rule in that state is often cited as an example of how coarse politics can lead to a sharp decline in higher education standards. Indira Gandhi’s clampdown during the Emergency is also mentioned in the context of the shrinking autonomy of universities.

But the argument that, “if they could do it, why can’t we?” is morally flawed and politically tendentious. The BJP has prided itself on being “a party with a difference” and the Modi government has won two successive electoral majorities on a “new” India vision premised on a “Gujarat model” of governance. This model was meant to offer “acche din” to India’s gen-next, not divide the student community between Right and Left in a manner that would leave our campuses bloodied. Indeed, this is not a case of Right versus Left but simply a matter of right versus wrong.

Post-script: While Left and Rightwing student groups in JNU engage in a blame game over who initiated the violence, spare a thought for the faculty. Is it “bharatiya sanskriti” to hit teachers? And if teachers are not safe in a campus, then who is? Don’t forget that it was a long-serving MS University faculty member, Professor JS Bandukwala whose house in Vadodara was ransacked during the 2002 Gujarat riots. No one from the Gujarat administration till date has even met the professor to empathise, perhaps because he was seen as a fierce critic of the Hindutva politics. Is this then a classic case of what Gujarat thought yesterday, the rest of the country must think today?


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Books & Authors

Nidhi Manral does a sparkling job with her ‘Sprinkling Poetry’



There are writers and then there are wizards who can do wonders with words. Well, though at a very early stage of her career, Nidhi Manral had proved to be one of those wizards of words. With every word she had chose to write, with every sentence she decided to frame, you can understand the writer herself is a voracious reader. What’s amazing to know is the amount of reading Nidhi had devoted herself into. Every single poem from the book proves the versatility of the writer and also that of the reader in her.

Nidhi, in her own words, will stay ever grateful to her Dada, late Shri. Arun Kapur who gave her the precious gift of education. We as admirers of Nidhi can only say thanks to Mr. Kapur for what he did. The education she received became the starting point of her writing brilliance. Once you complete reading the book ‘Sprinkling Poetry’, you tend to wonder why Nidhi chose to name the book ‘Sprinkling Poetry’ as the book quite easily could have been named ‘Sparkling Poetry’ due to the caliber the author displays on the table.

You’ll start loving the book right from the cover page itself. The cover depicts a young girl in a pensive mood. Perhaps, the mood and the body language of the girl sets the tone for the content of the book. This book deals with emotions – one of the most difficult subjects to explore. But due to her gifted skill, Nidhi Manral does that with considerable ease.

While reading the book, the reader needs to go through the content very slowly allowing himself or herself the time needed to absorb the thought. The ideal approach can be not to read more than one poem at a time which will help you to reflect and absorb the inner aspects of the poems written by the author.

What amazes us the most is the range of subject covered in the book. We, at times, feel in our generation there is dearth of creative topics. But a talent like Nidhi had proved that it’s not about a dearth in creative topics but there is serious dearth in people with eyes for creativity.

We’ll love to wait for the next book by this lovely author.

Buy Sprinkling Poetry From Amazon At Just Rs. 149

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Winter is here and so is seasonal affective depression. Try these 5 ways to beat it



It’s the middle of December and winter is officially here. And with a neverending urge to stay cozy in bed, sleep all day, and drink cups and cups of hot chocolate comes SAD, a.k.a. seasonal affective depression.

Let’s figure out what SAD actually is Seasonal laziness is one of the symptoms of SAD. It can be best described as a biological condition that occurs and ends around this time every year. Most of its symptoms begin to present themselves in the winter months. 

But why does this happen during the winter? Well, let’s blame our biological clock for this. Also, a reduction in the level of sunlight, drop in the production of serotonin in the brain (which affects our mood), and change in levels of melatonin which design our sleeping pattern all contribute to this.

While one out of three people might be affected by SAD, we often fail to recognize it due to a lack of attention to our behavior. 

What does SAD look like? Symptoms like depression, anxiety, mood changes, sleep changes, sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, social problems, and sexual problems like loss of libido are all signs. 

Feel like you’re at the brink? Here are some ways to beat the gloom this winter:

1. Soak in some sunlight
According to an article published in the Harvard Health Blog, sunlight therapy can help you deal with depression, especially when it’s season driven. A 30 minutes sunbath, after you wake up, is enough.

2. Exercise is the way to kick away the winter blues
Exercise is known to have a positive effect on your body. Be it running, yoga, or a half-hour session in a gym–you can pick any to feel energised and positive.

3. You can’t beat SAD empty stomach so, eat a healthy diet
Now remember, when you exercise, your body burns a lot of calories. You need to replenish it. A healthy body also needs a healthy diet to support a healthy routine.

4. Meditation, your winter buddy
Another method to feel good amidst all the winter blues is meditation. The Harvard Health Blog suggests that meditation helps in improving symptoms in people suffering from depression and anxiety. Even a 10-minute session every day can make a difference.

5. If nothing works then call a doc
It’s always better to take expert advice rather than just letting go–trust us, it can have serious repercussions. If a mere cold or fever makes you visit a doctor or take medicine then why not take care of your mental health as well? So, do it before it’s too late.

Remember, winter blues are just seasonal–you might not have them throughout the year. However, it is better to keep your mental health in perfect shape, even in the gloomiest season of the year.


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