The future of plastic? Scientists explore bioplastics from sorghum (15:40)
By Sahana Ghosh
Kolkata, July 19 (IANS/Mongabay) In the early 1940s, Henry Ford experimented with making plastic parts for automobiles. He came up with what was called the "plastic car made from soybeans."

Pottery, an underpaying profession, makes surviving a struggle in Delhi (11:22)
By Richa Sharma
New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Thirty-two-year-old Geeta sits patiently, painting pots created by her husband in the small open porch in her house at Kumhar Gram or Potters' Village that interestingly has managed to find space in West Delhi's Uttam Nagar.

Mandela: Beyond a revolutionary, statesman and moral symbol (July 18 is Nelson Mandela's 100th birth anniversary) (15:58)
By Vikas DattaIANS Photo Service
Sentenced in 1964 to a life term for rebellion, he spent three decades in jail, mostly in a damp concrete cell on an island prison, physically and verbally harassed by wardens and made to break stones and then quarry lime, he sustained himself with the poem "Invictus" ("..I am the master of my fate,/I am the captain of my soul.")

How a woman grenade blast survivor overcame disability to inspire change (IANS Special Series) (12:18)
By Bhavana AkellaIANS Photo Service
Bengaluru, July 15 (IANS) Malvika Iyer was a charming 13-year-old girl in 2002 when a grenade accidentally blew up in her hands, ripping her forearm and paralysing her legs, in Bikaner, Rajasthan, where she lived with her parents. An accident that could have ended her life completely changed her perspective, and even though it took years for her to overcome the trauma, she came out stronger and not only found a way to get her life back on track, but also became a harbinger of change for the disabled.

The original modern 'Action Girl': Modesty Blaise and her capers (Column: Bookends) (11:30)
By Vikas DattaIANS Photo Service
With there now being an abundance of formidable female characters, each as "badass" as their male counterparts, it may be difficult to believe that the "realistic" action genre of popular literature was once largely a patriarchal preserve. One capable woman set the path for her ilk.

Is the government in a pre-election haste to revamp green laws? (14:50)
By Mayank AggarwalIANS Photo Service
New Delhi, July 14 (IANS/Mongabay) It is the final leg of the current Indian governments tenure, which began in 2014. As the general elections loom, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has gone into hyperactive mode over the past year, proposing a major overhaul of the countrys environmental laws that govern its forests, fragile coasts, precious wildlife and manage the toxic levels of air pollution.

Croatia in World Cup: The story of its origin (Comment) (12:18)
By Saeed NaqviIANS Photo Service
Croatia's prominence in the football World Cup freshened memories of its origin in the war which expanded after German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher recognised Croatian and Slovenian independence, ahead of other European Union countries which were palpitating because German reunification in 1989 had already added to their anxieties.

How can the Congress shed its 'Muslim party' image? (Column: Political Circus) (12:08)
By Amulya Ganguli
Ever since the A.K. Antony committee identified the Congress's Muslim "appeasement" tag as a major reason for its electoral reverses, the 133-year-old Grand Old Party (GOP) has been unable to formulate a clear-cut policy on the country's largest minority community.

German ruling a real-life lesson for India on digital inheritance (Tech Trend) (11:34)
By Nishant Arora
New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) In a landmark ruling when it comes to post-death digital rights, Germany's highest court has told Facebook to grant a grieving mother access to her late daughter's account.

Urban observatories: A kaleidoscope for cities (Comment) (11:38)
By Noelene Marisa Yesudas & Shrimoyee Bhattacharya
The Karnataka government annually organises the "Bengaluru Innovation Challenge", covering diverse subjects. One such recent challenge focused on solving Bengalurus traffic congestion and water-scarcity problems.

Getting your beach bod for the summer (The Funny Side) (11:00)
By Nury Vittachi
My wife's magazines make me laugh. On the cover, one headline is always something like "Learn To Love Yourself As You Are", another is "Lose 5 kg In Two Weeks" and a third is "New Pasta Recipes".

For England it's deja vu: Turin 1990 (Comment) (18:28)
By Biswajit ChoudhuryIANS Photo Service
The story of so near and yet so far continues for English football, ever since the only time the team captained by Bobby Moore won the World Cup at home in 1966.

Once in a blue bloom: Kerala's famed neelakurinji set for rare mass bloom (14:30)
By Ajith Lawrence & Haritha JohnIANS Photo Service
Thiruvananthapuram, July 12 (IANS/Mongabay) Starting late July, the Anamalai hills near Munnar in Kerala will be resplendent, clad in a purplish blue carpet. The famed neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana) will burst into flower - a phenomenon that occurs once in 12 years. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected to flock to the Munnar hills to behold the spectacle that lasts up until October.

Water infrastructure: Smart meters to manage an essential commodity (Column: Behind Infra Lines) (12:06)
By Taponeel MukherjeeIANS Photo Service
The "Composite Water Management Index" report released by the NITI Aayog recently highlights the issues confronting water management in India. A multi-pronged approach to tackle these problems is warranted. In a world where technology and infrastructure create synergies, smart water meters are one component of the strategy that can help us mitigate the water crisis.

Literature, art, culture to come alive at Bhutan's Mountain Echoes lit fest (13:42)IANS Photo Service
Thimphu, July 10 (IANS) Majestic mountains, coupled with a spiritual setting, makes Bhutan's annual literary extravaganza -- the Mountain Echoes Literary Festival -- an exhilarating experience for its many visitors.

Monopolies in digital space are bad for media and entertainment industry (Column: Active Voice) (11:38)
By Amit Kapoor
It was not very long ago that the daily dose of entertainment for the average Indian household came from the soaps that ran like clockwork at dinner time. Now, it is not uncommon to find those rituals replaced with discussions of the latest show on Netflix.

Reimagining employability in India: A singular imperative (Comment) (11:18)
By Amit Dasgupta
The singular expectation from university education is guaranteed employability and, thus, a return on investment. When this fails to happen, it is because the quality of education does not respond to market demand.

Elephants can adapt to human habitation but sirens stress them out (17:04)
By Neha JainIANS Photo Service
Bengaluru, July 9 (IANS/Mongabay) As more and more elephant habitats are falling under the ever-growing influence of humans, elephants are often coming into contact with people, whether they are passing through human-inhabited landscapes, or directly interacting with them, the latter of which sometimes culminate in intense conflicts.

In public poll, 'The English Patient' wins the Golden Booker (Lead) (10:36)IANS Photo Service
London, July 9 (IANS) Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, essayist and novelist Michael Ondaatje's bestselling novel "The English Patient" -- which moves between a nurse tending a horribly burned man in an Italian villa at the end of the second world war and a tragic love affair from his past -- has been crowned best winner of the Booker prize of the last 50 years.

The role of Cold War in Indira Gandhi's Emergency (Comment: Special to IANS) (13:46)
By Saeed Naqvi
Indira Gandhi declared the Emergency in 1975, plonk in the middle of the most intense phase of the Cold War. Détente was going so badly for the Americans that stand up comedians in Washington were comparing it to a wife swapping party "from where you return alone".

Different shades of genius - the insufferable variety across literature (Column: Bookends) (12:26)
By Vikas Datta
They can have a fair claim to be the most misunderstood minority, despite all their contributions -- solving mysteries, helping all sorts of people out of tight spots and otherwise enhancing human knowledge in myriad ways. As Jonathan Swift put it, "... when a great genius appears in the world, the dunces are all in confederacy against him." But are geniuses to blame for the way they are treated?

Breaking faith barriers, Shia Muslim artists create Hindu wedding mandaps (IANS Special Series) (12:16)
By Archana SharmaIANS Photo Service
Jaipur, July 8 (IANS) For centuries, their creations have been used in sombre processions to commemorate and reconstruct the narrative of the 7th century Battle of Karbala in Islamic history. But now, these artists, mostly Shia Muslims, make Hindu wedding mandaps, replicating the design of the shrine of Prophet's grandson Imam Hussain Ali, who was killed in that war.

Samsung India puts Noida on top with world's largest mobile factory (11:36)
By Nishant AroraIANS Photo Service
Noida, July 8 (IANS) In front are open fields with grazing cattle, to the left are under-construction residential societies and to the right is its existing facilty - this where Samsung has set up what is the world's largest mobile factory.

India can be a global beacon for democracy (Comment) (13:28)
By Frank F. Islam
In this 21st century, democracy is descending and autocracy is ascending in countries around the world. That is the conclusion and argument that Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa present in their article titled "The End of the Democratic Century" published in the May/June edition of Foreign Affairs.

Nitish Kumar: Destined to be perpetual No.2? (Column: Political Circus) (11:26)
By Amulya GanguliIANS Photo Service
The aphorism "know thyself" was explained by Greek philosopher Socrates as a phrase which referred to an "unexamined life". The renewed rumours about Nitish Kumars future plans provoke queries as to whether the Bihar Chief Minister has closely examined his life in politics.

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