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  • 30 words Americans can’t pronounce correctly

    Can you guess the word Americans struggle to pronounce most?

    MarketWatch q
  • These Women Sell Traditional Cookware for Health Benefits Derived from Ancient Indian Wisdom

    For those longing for the authentic taste of food cooked in cast iron and earthen cookware over slow fires in traditional kitchens, there is good news. Two Cochin-based corporate consultants have set up a business to market this authentic traditional cookware. The VillageFair started as an unplanned business venture last year when Radhika Menon responded to a post on Facebook. A friend of hers commented that a doctor in the US had come up with a cast iron fish to be put into every dish being cooked at home, to help prevent iron deficiency. Someone else responded with a comment as to how, in the old days, food used to be cooked in cast iron vessels and hence iron deficiency was not really a problem. Radhika immediately posted pictures of the cast iron utensils she had at home and let her friends know that she still used them for cooking. An overwhelming response to this post, with queries about where to buy the pots and pans, led Radhika to think that marketing these products could make good business sense. “With a little effort, my friend Priya was convinced to join hands with me. And before midnight, our Facebook page was ready...The VillageFair had taken birth,” says an excited Radhika.   [caption id="attachment_64396" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Radhika and Priya of The VillageFair fame[/caption] Users of traditional cookware, particularly utensils from Kerala, find the process of seasoning these vessels before use extremely tedious and tiring. Thanks to the advent of steel and non-stick cookware, cooking has become a lot less time consuming because these utensils are light and easy to handle. Even elderly people, who grew up using traditional cookware, have forgotten how to season those vessels and find it easier to cook in teflon and steel. “Radhika’s 65-year-old maid Lalitha knew how to season these pans in the traditional manner. So we roped her in immediately to handle this important step; within a week our first order of six pans for customers from Bangalore was ready. We hand delivered them the first time and this paved the way for our success story,” says Priya Deepak. To season the cookware, the vessels, whether cast iron or earthen ware, are first washed well to remove any sediments stuck to them. Then, for around four days, the cooking surface is soaked in rice gruel. This helps remove all the unwanted metal and other substances on the surface and also helps close all the open pores. A generous amount of oil is then applied onto the surface. Once done, the pan has to be tested on the fire. The pans, especially the cast iron ones, are heated and cooled down a few times, till their surface becomes ‘non-sticky.’ As more and more orders came in, Lalitha got her daughters-in-law and some other women involved in the venture too. [caption id="attachment_64403" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Ladies seasoning the cast iron and earthen ware utensils[/caption] Priya and Radhika found that it was easy to procure earthen ware utensils from Ernakulam market itself. They have zeroed in on two good potters cooperatives to procure these utensils. To get cast iron vessels they decided to visit a manufacturing unit in Shornur. Shornur is famous for the manufacture of cast iron products, where agricultural implements are the main products. Although the two women went there with the idea of buying only a handful of utensils, they ended up purchasing around 500 pots and pans worth Rs. 30,000. They now get a steady supply of cookware from this unit, which they supply to clients all over the country. While orders have gone up by leaps and bounds, they now manage to courier their products anywhere in  the country. They also have tie ups with two e-commerce platforms where their products are displayed. The only physical retail outlet tie up they have is with Cannanore: A Lore from a Loom, in Inorbit mall, Whitefield, Bangalore, though more are on the cards. [caption id="attachment_64405" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Food cooked in traditional cookware is healthy and tasty[/caption] “In this past one year, things have gone real well for us. We were also able to give 5% of every sale we made to the Mehac Foundation for medicines for the mentally ill. Funding a social cause is always comforting and mentally gratifying,” adds Priya. For more information one can visit TheVillageFair Facebook page. Photo Credits: Priya Deepak Like this story? Or have something to share? Write to us: contact@thebetterindia.com, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter (@thebetterindia). About the author: Aparna Menon is a freelance writer, writing for various newspapers for the past 10 years. Her main fields of interest are wildlife, heritage and history. A keen traveller, she loves to read and write and does a lot of art work too.

    The Better India
  • Modi goaded Pakistan in deliberate yet risky move

    By Rupam Jain and Tommy Wilkes NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - When Prime Minister Narendra Modi met top aides to prepare last week's annual Independence Day address, some senior bureaucrats warned him against mentioning Baluchistan, arch-rival Pakistan's restive southwestern province. Referring to Baluchistan in such a prominent speech would be a highly unusual move bound to ratchet up tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours more used to trading barbs over Kashmir, the cause of two of their three wars. According to a senior official at the meeting in early August, the more hawkish politicians in the room, angered by what they saw as Pakistan's recent trouble-making in Kashmir, thought differently, and so did Modi.

    Reuters
  • My toddler threw up on my shirt — and the airline tried to make me wear it

    Passenger Raj Purohit’s ‘terrible’ flight this summer

    MarketWatch q
  • No AC? No problem. How to keep cool this summer without a big electric bill

    These people live like Americans before the invention of air conditioning.

    MarketWatch q
  • India, West Indies Stars Look To Rock US As ICC Eyes New Market

    Fort Lauderdale: Cricket will seek to reach out to the untapped American market when the sport's most followed practitioners, India, lock horns with the West Indies in their maiden international game in the US on Saturday. The two Twenty20 Internationals over the weekend will be the first instance of India being involved in a competitive match in the USA. Days after India cruised to victory in the four-match Test series for their second successive triumph on the Caribbean soil, the team's seasoned campaigner Mahendra Singh Dhoni will return to lead the side in the two limited overs games at the Central Broward Regional Park, the only purpose-built cricket stadium in the US. It is the only ICC certified ODI standard stadium facility in the USA and hosted six Caribbean Premier League matches last month.

    NDTVSports.com q
  • Meet Pratyaya Amrit, the Inspiring IAS Officer Who Has Placed Bihar Firmly on the Road to Success

    The walls were dank, the chairs broken and the curtains tattered. By no stretch of imagination did the place look like it was the office of a major state corporation about to embark on the onerous responsibility of creating a bridge infrastructure in one of the poorest states in the country. “It did not look like an office at all. I did not know where to begin,’’ Pratyaya  Amrit recalls. When the reticent IAS officer took over as Managing Director (MD) in 2006, the turnover of the Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman  Nigam ( BRPNN) stood at a measly Rs. 47 crore, with the state government having made up its mind to close it down. Within two years, the turnaround took everyone, including the government, by surprise. The defunct organisation was in a position to donate Rs 20 crore to the Chief Minister's relief fund during the Kosi floods. Not only had IAS Officer Pratyaya Amrit single-handedly saved a government organisation from the brink of bankruptcy, he had taken it to the forefront of the construction business. Photo Source As the MD of Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam (BRPNN), he had overseen the completion of around 300 major bridge projects in three years. This was akin to moving mountains in a state where even a stone does not budge easily! Amrit, a 1991 batch IAS officer, was on central deputation in New Delhi when he received a call from a bureaucrat from the Bihar government, asking: "Would you mind returning to your home state? There's plenty to be done here." The state government wanted to entrust him with the responsibility of reviving a dying institution. When Amrit returned to Bihar, cutting short his scheduled deputation by six months, he became the first IAS officer to head the BRPNN. The huge losses that BRPNN had been incurring for almost a decade had pushed it to the brink of liquidation. The first thing Amrit targeted was the completion of pending projects, some of which had been pending for almost 17 years, to revive the Corporation. But this was easier said than done. The system in place lacked basic amenities and the morale of the employees was low. An able administrator and HR expert, Amrit ensured that the staff got a congenial environment to work in and the basic facilities to carry out their jobs. Photo Source For instance, he provided them with GPS-enabled phones, making it easier for them to monitor the progress of work. Opting for out-of-the-box solutions to encourage his engineers, Amrit got professional motivators to give encouraging talks to his dispirited engineers, while rewarding the best performers with ample administrative freedom. The engineers responded to this show of confidence by rising to the occasion. BRPNN, which had completed 314 bridges during the first 30 years of its inception, successfully executed 336 bridge projects in just three years. Photo Source A lot of importance was given to quality, monitoring and field visits and Amrit himself travelled more than 40,000 km in three-and-a-half years. He also got a state-of-the-art engineering lab for the organisation and computerised everything. Thanks to his initiatives, by July 2009, BRPNN was an ISO 9001, 2000 and 1410:2004 certified company and its turnover had surged to Rs 768 crore. Prior to appointment as the MD of BRPNN, Pratyaya Amrit's work and ability to get things done as a District Magistrate ( DM) had also earned appreciation from the public. As the  DM of Katihar, he implemented, for the first time, a public-private-partnership for the district hospital where he asked local NGOs to take responsibility for a ward each. This changed the condition of the hospital – it went from being in deficit to having surplus funds. As the  DM of Chapra, he put an end to sleaze shows at the famous Sonpur fair (Asia’s largest cattle fair) by making it compulsory for CCTVs to be installed in theatres. In February 2011, Pratyaya Amrit, as MD of Bihar State Road Development Corporation (BSRDC), stepped in to help destitute girls in Patna find better futures for themselves. Photo Source He  made the organisation literally adopt the destitute girls, instead of just providing them monetary assistance. The BSRDC would not only bear the entire education costs of these girls till college, but would also provide them with job-oriented training to help them start working. Now, besides the monthly stipend that BSRDC deposits in the bank accounts of these girls, the organisation has also parked Rs 50,000 each as fixed deposits in favour of the girls. The money, taken from Corporation profits, will be available to the girls after they turn 18. So effective was Amrit's management style in improving Bihar’s roads that it earned him praise from other countries and the World Bank too. Photo Source The Asian Development Bank (ADB) rated the road work in Bihar as one of the best. Amrit was invited to attend the Urban Planning and Economic Development Programme in the US in 2011. He was also awarded the Prime Minister's Excellence in Public Administration award in 2011 – the only IAS officer to get it that year. His facilitation certificate reads: "Bridging the gap: For turning around a dying Bihar State Bridge Construction Corporation into a profit-making unit." In 2014, Amrit was given charge of Bihar's rural electrification programme. His first target was to cover partially electrified villages. To ensure this work would happen seamlessly, he held meetings with engineers and power companies every fortnight. He coupled these meetings with intensive field visits, travelling across the state for more than 15 months at a stretch. Amrit was also instrumental in accomplishing the crucial task of getting politicians like MLAs on board and giving them lists of all the villages in their constituencies where electrification was taking place, including the names and numbers of contractors. He also had a web-based app made so that MLAs could access updates on the state of electricity in their area. In addition, spot billing centres (to increase convenience) and meters in every household (to minimise power theft) were installed. You May Also Like: How a Doctor Turned IAS Officer Organized India’s First Green Swearing-In Ceremony in Kerala The difference this effort made was visible in less than a year. More than 20,000 burnt transformers were replaced in two months and transmission jumped from 2282 MW to 3500 MW. A strong back-end support system was also created, which helped resolve breakdowns when they happened within 30 minutes. Amrit's next goal is to electrify all villages by October 2016 and set up a separate agriculture feeder that will increase the availability of power to agriculture from 4% to 18%. On the personal front, Amrit keeps his feet firmly on terra firma. A simple, unassuming man, he enjoys playing cricket, is an ardent Steve Jobs fan, and likes reading. His favourite book is Who says Elephants Can't Dance? (a fascinating story of IBM's turnaround scripted by Louis Gerstner Jr., the Chairman and CEO of IBM). Known for his ‘get it done and now’ attitude and his attention to detail, Pratyaya Amrit can be called one of the main architects of Bihar’s turnaround story. His parents, both college lecturers, had always told him to do what he felt good about; Amrit made his never-say-die attitude and dedication to the nation his biggest strength. It is due to innovative and pro-active officers like him that a positive change in Indian governance is finally rolling in. Also Read: How a Young IAS Officer Used Education to Transform the Naxal-Affected District of Dantewada Like this story? Have something to share? Email: contact@thebetterindia.com, or join us on Facebook and Twitter (@thebetterindia). To get positive news on WhatsApp, just send 'Start' to 090 2900 3600 via WhatsApp.

    The Better India
  • 'What if Sheena Bora's vanished, why fuss,' Peter Mukerjea told Rahul

    MUMBAI: A year after Indrani Mukerjea's arrest in the Sheena Bora murder case, phone conversations between Rahul and his father Peter Mukerjea, also an accused, and his stepmother, Indrani, appears to place Mukerjea in a corner. The CBI had relied on seven out of 20 transcripts in the chargesheet. Now it has given the remaining 13 to the accused. In one of the conversations, Peter tells Rahul: "What if she (Sheena) has disappeared, why are you making all this fuss". This is a considerably damning conversation. The conversations were recorded by Rahul. TOI had reported significant sections of the transcripts that was earlier submitted by the CBI in its chargesheet. The tapes show how Peter is

    The Economic Times q
  • The surprising thing millions of men do that can wreck their health

    A new study shows how young men may be putting their well-being at risk

    MarketWatch q
  • John Abraham Steps Into Ranbir Kapoor’s Shoes!

    One actor's loss is another's gain

    Spotboye
  • SC grants 6 weeks protection from arrest to expelled AIADMK MP

    The Supreme Court today granted protection from arrest to Rajya Sabha MP Sasikala Pushpa for six weeks in a sexual harassment case filed by her two domestic aides. A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said that the High Court will expeditiously decide the anticipatory bail application of the expelled AIADMK leader The bench also comprising justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said that the High Court will take a decision on her application uninfluenced by the order of the apex court. Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra appearing for Pushpa said that she is not going to run away. "She is a Rajya Sabha MP and due to some technical problem in vakalatnama, the High Court has asked her to

    Deccan Herald q
  • My father wants to leave me everything — and cut my sisters off

    Her two sisters changed their last name 25 years ago.

    MarketWatch q
  • JNU sedition row: Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya granted regular bail

    from firstpost New Delhi: A 36-year-old air hostess, working with Air India, died in a road accident early today as her office cab rammed into another vehicle in a pile up on Rajokri flyover in south Delhi.The decea...

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  • Lalu Prasad in For Sharp Criticism For 'Ganga at Doorstep' Statement

    Patna: RJD chief Lalu Prasad has come in for sharp criticism from opposition leaders for his 'Ganga at one's doorstep' remark while taking stock of the flood situation on the outskirts of the state capital two days ago. While talking to flood victims, Lalu had on August 23 said they (people) were lucky to have the Ganga coming to their doorstep as not everybody gets 'Gangajal' in his home. He had also said that the floods in Bihar was caused by the sudden release of water by BJP-ruled states. Taking strong exception to Lalu's statement, senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi said he has made fun of the flood victims by making such statement. "On one hand the state government has failed in carrying

    News18 q
  • Gold price correction boosts demand; Indian discounts fall to 3-month low

    By Rajendra Jadhav and Koustav Samanta MUMBAI/BENGALURU (Reuters) - Gold discounts in India fell to nearly three-month lows this week while fresh buying gathered some steam elsewhere in Asia as price corrections and festive buying lifted demand for the yellow metal. The safe-haven asset, which is highly sensitive to interest rates, has declined more than 1 percent this week as upbeat U.S. economic data boosted expectations of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year. In India, the second-biggest gold consumer, dealers were offering discounts of up to $25 an ounce over official domestic prices, the lowest since the first week of June, and down from up to $52 last week.

    Reuters
  • The Mighty Jupiter Enters Earthy Virgo – What Sort Of Effects Will It Have On Your Life?

    Jupiter – the planet of wisdom and expansion, will be entering the Virgo Sign on 11th August, 2016. Find out the likely effects on different areas of life.

    GaneshaSpeaks.com
  • Venus- Mercury in conjunction with Rahu in Leo: What can be the effects?

    Venus and Mercury will be transiting in conjunction with Rahu in the first half of August 2016. Find out how major areas of your life – career and relationship may get affected.

    GaneshaSpeaks.com
  • Women protest French burkini ban with London beach party demo

    Some 35 Muslim and non-Muslim women held a beach party demonstration outside the French embassy in London on Thursday, protesting against a ban on burkinis enforced in some coastal towns in France. "We wanted to show solidarity with Muslim women in France and call for a repeal of the ban."     France's highest administrative court, the Conseil d'Etat, was meeting on Thursday to consider a complaint against the ban in one Mediterranean town. President Francois Hollande's government has backed the decisions taken by mainly conservative mayors, who argue the garment violates France's laws on secularism.

    Reuters
  • iBerry launches 'India's first 4GB Ram unibody smartphone' at Rs. 15,990

    New Delhi [India], Aug.25 (ANI): Hong Kong-based phone manufacturer iBerry launched Auxus 4X 'India's first 4GB RAM Unibody Premium Smartphone' here on Thursday. It will be exclusively available via ebay at the price of Rs. 15,990. Equipped with new generation Helio P10 processor, Auxus 4X has impressive 4GB DDRIII RAM with inbuilt memory of 32GB along with an expandable memory slot upto 128GB.

    ANI