SOME POSITIVE STORIES THAT CAME OUR WAY
Books That Talk
FIGHTING DISABILITY Notwithstanding nostalgia for a more basic past, technology has its benefits, especially when it becomes a power tool for the disabled. Nidhi Arora, founder of Esha-a Gurgaon-based NGO for the blind-has started a project called CLABIL (Central Library of Audio Books in Indian Languages). The aim is to make audio books available for the visually impaired and for those who cannot read or attend regular school. They are available online and through the app Suno, and can be downloaded and accessed offline. The content, collated by Arora, includes works by Premchand, Kabir, folk stories, English classics and academic resources. CLABIL has a collection of 5,398 files in 17 Indian languages, in addition to English. Esha has a large volunteer base across the country that helps with the recordings. They partner with organizations working with the beneficiary communities to distribute their content.
ENVIRONMENT What do you do with car tyres that have reached the end of their life? Sixteen-year-old entrepreneur Anubhav Wadhwa has launched Tyrelessly, a web-based, environment-friendly service that recycles worn, used tyres to create bio-fuel. According to a press release issued by Wadhwa, India generates close to 100 million end-of-life tyres each year. Of these, five million are retreaded, but the remaining go to landfills, sugar factories or are not disposed responsibly. Tyrelessly aims at reducing this particular carbon footprint. Its easy-to-use service is currently available in the National Capital Region. All you have to do is visit the website, request for a pick-up and then wait for the truck to arrive at your doorstep. The tyres are then sorted, categorized and recycled.
NUTRITION Here's some great news for ice-cream addicts who are also health conscious. Bengaluru-based Oleome Biosolutions, along with Dairy Classic Ice Creams Private Limited, is making the icy dessert nutritious and enriched with Omega-3 and Vitamin E. They use white chia seeds developed by the Central Food Technological Research Institute for this purpose. These 'healthy' ice creams are already available in Bengaluru. Guess this is as good time as any to scream for some ice-cream.
A Smart Solution
SAFETY We've all seen them: people so engrossed with looking at their phones as they walk down the street. These 'smombies'-short for 'smartphone zombies'-can be a serious danger to themselves.
In March, a 15-year-old girl in Munich was killed by a tram while looking at her smartphone with her headphones on. So now, the German city of Augsburg has installed ground-level traffic lights at two tram stops to warn people who are looking down at their screens when a tram is approaching. 'It creates a whole new level of attention,' says city spokesperson Stephanie Lermen, who hopes the project will be rolled out to other locations.
From her home in the charming vineyard town of Pezinok in western Slovakia, lawyer Zuzana Caputova could smell the stench of a waste dump where the garbage of neighbouring countries was brought. Toxic chemicals leached into the soil, leading to soaring local rates of cancer and respiratory disease. When news came that a second dump was planned for the town, Caputova launched a grassroots campaign to stop it, mounting a legal challenge. The result? The Slovakian Supreme Court withdrew permission for the second dump and ordered the original dump to be shut down. 'Our story has given hope to many other people who fight against reckless developers,' she says.
SOURCES:Fighting Disability: The Better India, 1 June 2016. Environment: Times of India, 10 January 2016. Nutrition: Business Standard, 6 July 2016. Safety: The Local (Germany), 22 April 2016. Heroes: www.goldmanprize.org