Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review : Run Ranga! Run!

Title : Run Ranga! Run!
Author : Geeta Dharmarajan
Illustrator : Srivi
Publisher : Katha

Katha has come up with yet another endearing tale and this time it is about Ranga, a little Rhinoceros. Ranga is a newborn baby when the story begins. She enjoys the gentle, loving and warm touch of her mother. Her Ma tenderly nudges the reluctant little baby to stand, but Ranga just wants to get back into the comfortable confine of her Ma's belly. Slowly she learns to stand on her legs, to drink milk, and to take rest. Ranga's babyhood phase is filled with listening to stories softly narrated by her Ma, taking mud baths, playing, learning to speak and laugh. Ranga feels proud that she is able to do all these things like how her Ma does. Gradually the horizon of her small world expands and she starts acknowledging and understanding her surroundings, meets other rhinos and makes friends. But the bond that she has with her mother remains unparalleled. Time flies and now Ranga has a baby brother. Ranga, a loving and protective elder sister wants to keep her Ma and her baby brother safe from all sorts of dangers. The three of them want to revel in the beauty and tranquility of the grasslands but their Ma feels the need to teach them to run from humans because 'rhinos are scared of no one else but humans'. Ranga does not like living under the threat of humans destroying the grasslands and killing animals like her. Ranga wants to grow up, to walk majestically in the grassland, to have her own baby but she wishes for a new and different future, 'hopefully I won't ever have to teach the baby to run from humans.'

Story of Ranga lets the readers peek into the life of this majestic and graceful member of the grassland. Peace loving Rhinoceros do not demand much, they just want to be safe and happy. Run Ranga! Run! Brings out the plea of Ranga and all wild animals in general that they want humans to respect all forms of life. The precarious balance that exists in the nature is under threat because of greed of humans.
Mahatma Gandhi very rightly said, 'Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.' The other living creatures are silently paying the price of human greed.

The book is a wonderful way to introduce young readers to these Big Fat friendly creatures who enjoy their solitude in verdant grasslands . It is a great step by Katha to ignite awareness for nature and for all significant aspects of the nature in young minds so that they grow up to be responsible and compassionate citizens of Earth.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Review : The Bad Touch

Title : The Bad Touch
Author : Payal Shah Karwa
Publisher : HayHouse
ISBN : 978-93-81398-48-7

The Bad Touch by Payal Shah Karwa is a compilation of real life experiences of survivors of child sexual abuse(CSA). CSA is one heinous crime which is impacting the most vulnerable organs of our society. Whether it is one incident or continuous abuse, the torture transcends the physical plane, it goes much beyond it, scarring a child's childhood and his/her individuality. By sharing their heart-wrenching stories, the victims are trying to extend their solidarity to the cause of spreading awareness about this evil in the society. This is a wonderful step forward with the objective of making those individuals who have been wronged, to come out with confidence because it is NOT their fault.

The first detailed account is that of Harish Iyer, who first narrated his personal horrifying experience on the show 'Satyamev Jayate'. He endured the abuse for many years at the hands of his uncle who threatened dire consequences for his family if he let a single word out. But one fine day he mustered the courage to say NO and since then he has been active in spreading CSA awareness. Lata became a victim at the hands of her uncle who was supposed to be her guardian. Unfortunately her grandmother refused to believe her and she went through the trauma of feeling alone and dejected. A noted film director Anurag Kashyap had been a victim of incest and sexual abuse for a long period of eleven years. 'The severe abuse affected him and he grew up to be a troubled teenager. He suffered from chronic relationship issues as he found it tough to be normal. He was sunk deep in his own world, bereft of emotional empathy.' He found the ultimate solace in expressing his pent up emotions and thoughts in writing. There are many other stories which, besides highlighting the perils of the victims, brings to fore the apathy of loved ones and the society towards the wronged individuals.

The true life experiences will shake the readers to the core. But this book is an attempt by the author to - help the survivors heal themselves by sharing their stories, to create and spread awareness of the issue of child sex abuse among parents and guardians, to inspire people to get together for the fight against CSA.

The book offers much more than these inspiring stories. It brings out the statistics about how prevalent CSA is in India, the common myths that usually people carry, the warning signs that should be carefully watched in children to sense if anything is amiss, what are the precautionary measures that must be taken, how to deal with CSA and which organizations to approach to seek help. Our crippling society needs more and more such forums where the issues like these are brought out in open and discussed in order to build a better future for all of us. The book has served its purpose of providing useful information along with being a source of  great inspiration for many affected. However, the content could have been organised in a better manner and the language could have been more simplistic so that it is readable, relatable and understandable for more and more people.

Some voluntary bloggers and social networkers, along with the support of some NGOs have come together to organise an annual awareness programme - Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month (CSAAM). April month has been picked up as CSAAM and during this period, various workshops are conducted, discussions are organised, experiences are shared, methods are devised to eradicate the menace from out society. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fearless Women - 23rd April, 2014

THE SHIFT EXPRESS brings you FEARLESS WOMEN in which Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik speaks on the roles of spirited women in Indian mythology, Sampat Pal Devi describes how she fought against gender inequality with her powerful women band, THE GULABI GANG while Shubha Mudgal tells us how she made a place for herelf in the male dominated world of Hindustani Classical Music. It also showcases Nishtha Jain, a film-maker, and Radhika Vaz who breaks all boundaries with her humour.

Date: Wednesday 23rd April, 2014
Time: 10.30am to 1.30pm
Venue: Alliance Francaise de Delhi Auditorium, Lodi Estate, New Delhi
Fee: Rs. 2800
Contact: Titiksha Goel
Tel: +919911636572


Be there to watch eminent panelists discuss, 'AFFAIRS of INFIDELITY' in which a lawyer, a psychologist and film-maker debate INFIDELITY, an issue often left unaddressed.

Book Review : Beyond School

Title : Beyond School
Author : Chitra Anand
Publisher : Leadstart Corp
ISBN : 978-93-83562-40-4

The author, Chitra Anand is a postgraduate in Physics and holds an Education Degree. Beyond School is her first novel inspired by her journey as an educator.

'Beyond School' story revolves around a grade twelve student Shail at an Indian School in Muscat. As countdown has begun for his board examinations, his parents Sushil and Urmila are at their wits ends. They cannot find any way to convince their son to study for the board exams while Shail leisurely goes about doing his other activities, which include - sleeping with abandon, dreaming about football or his girlfriend, watching re-runs of football matches on TV, texting on mobile phone for hours and much more. In short, a typical day in his life does not have any scope to accommodate study time. However, what Sushil and Urmila are unaware of is Shail's decision to not appear for the exams at all this year.

As the story progresses and as the examination days are approaching nearer, the pressure is soaring high for Shail to escape from his parents' focus and for his parents to make Shail study. Glady, the mentor in the school is approached for Shail's situation. She has a way of showing the students the side of the picture that they seem to be unaware of. She is a great counselor without being preachy. Her way of dealing with such situations is to get the student understand why and how a particular fixation of mind and heart starts driving the decisions and when that fixation is satisfied, how the pressure fizzles out. 'Tell people that they can have what they want and soon their fight for the want loses intensity.' She gives a new dimension to Shail's thinking so that he does not stay stuck with 'What is wrong if I don’t write the exams this year?'

 A few more sub-stories are intertwined along with Shail's narrative, including that of - Glady's uncomfortable past, Sushil and Urmila's struggle to get united and Roha as another student requiring Glady's counseling.

Chitra Anand highlights many areas that have gained immense significance in the lives of individuals who are at the cusp of adulthood. The unrestrained  access to information, gadgetry invasion, unabashed approach towards sexual issues and much more are subtly weaved into the fabric of the narrative. This gives an honest reflection of the society in which today's youth is functioning. Though an amateur author, Chitra has done justice to the idea that she wanted to convey through her writing. However, there are a few places where editing could have been more tight. Some of the incidents are unnecessary or too elaborate which could easily be done away with. 
A recommended read for young adults and their parents. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review : Little Cloud's Quest

Title : Little Cloud's Quest
Author : Stephen Aitken and Sylvia Sikundar
Illustrator : Joyita Banerjee
Publisher : Katha
ISBN : 978-93-82454-13-7

One fine morning a little cloud is born. She looks around but doesn't find any companion or a playmate. Seeing her sad, the wind offers to give her a ride to up above in the vast sky. Some thin wispy clouds are floating there but they do not include the little cloud in their group because she looks different. While she tries to be like wispy clouds, Cirrus clouds pass her by and mock her for her slowness. A big cluster of fluffy clouds do not pay any attention to the little cloud either. They remain engaged in the hide and seek game that they are playing. Then the little cloud meets Cumulus clouds who reject her for her smallness.

The little cloud is really sad and cannot take her loneliness any longer. She starts shedding tears. What magic!!! The drops coming down from the cloud are greeted with mirth and happiness by the desert children who want the little cloud to stay with them for a while. Little cloud is delighted as she is wanted and cherished by these little children who are enjoying every drop of water that is falling from her. Soon her sad tears are replaced by joyful showers. The little cloud plays and  plays with them to her heart's content because she has found her friends now. She does not want to miss the magical gift that she has received and given to her new friends.

Katha books are committed to opening innumerable beautiful vistas for young children through the world of books. 'Little Cloud's Quest' is another step towards that objective. The authors have beautifully weaved an adventure around the clouds and the world high up in the sky in the book. As the little cloud riding on the wings of the wind floats over distant lands, she gets to meet different kinds of clouds and understands their specific characteristics. Children will get to enjoy the fun ride with the little cloud in her quest for friends to play with. As the story progresses, many interesting cloud facts are also introduced in a fun manner. This works as a perfect example for 'play and learn'.
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