A festive brew of culture – APPL to honour contributions and traditions of tea tribes

 A woman plucks leaves at a tea garden in Nagaon.

Amalgamated Plantations Pvt Limited, formerly Tata Tea, will host the first-everSirish Festival at the company’s picturesque Hathikuli tea estate near Kaziranga National Park on February 7 and 8 in a bid to promote the unique cultures and traditions of the tea tribes of Assam.

“Sirish Festival, the first ever integrated festival to honour the contribution of the tea tribe community to Assam, is a watershed moment for us. We expect that future editions of this annual festival will provide for not only national but also international recognition for this great community,” Ranjit Barthakur, chairman of APPL Foundation, said.

The foundation looks after the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of the APPL and is primarily engaged with local communities in Assam in the areas of education and skill development, environment, healthcare, culture and heritage.

Sirish, a Sanskrit word meaning soul, is the local name for the shady trees in tea gardens. The festival will showcase traditional dance forms, sports, art and literature of the tea community of Assam. Apart from the local population of Hathikuli and its adjoining areas, representatives for all the 25 tea estates of APPL, tea tribe community leaders and icons from various fields will attend the festival.

The high point of the festival would be the recognition and honouring of two icons from the community – one each from the fields of literature and culture. The recognition will be in the form of a citation and cheque, which will be presented by the chief minister Tarun Gogoi at the venue on February 8.

A DVD of a modern rendition of a traditional jhumur songcalled Railgadi Jhumur will also be released during the festival.

The APPL Foundation official said competitions would be held among the participants of the tea community in jhumur dance, pole climbing, archery and other sporting events, which are popular among the community.

“Participants from APPL gardens will take part in this year’s festival but plans are there for participation from other company gardens from the next year’s festival,” the official said.

He said the tea community has made an immense contribution to the lifeline industry of the state and such festivals were necessary to give them recognition.

Although Robert Bruce discovered tea in 1823, the commercial cultivation started only after 14 years, when the first tea garden was established at Chabua in 1837. The British imported thousands of workers, mainly from the Chhotanagpur region, covering the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and also from Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. These indentured tea garden workers later came to be known as the tea tribe community.

The important constituents are the Santhal, Tanti, Orang, Munda, Bhuiya, Bhumij, Paharia, Proja, Gaur, Kharia, Bheel, Boraik, Ghatowar, Teli, Goala, Rajak, Koya, Telenga and Kamar. The culture of different tribes got intermixed within themselves and also with the existing local Assamese culture, and an amalgamation of tea tribe culture and a new way of living evolved.

Retrieved from – http://www.telegraphindia.com/1150128/jsp/northeast/story_10306.jsp#.VMnDhdKUf-t

UK’s first ‘social supermarket’ opens to help fight food poverty

Britain’s first “social supermarket” opens its doors on Monday, offering shoppers on the verge of food poverty the chance to buy food and drink for up to 70% less than normal high-street prices.

If successful, the Community Shop, in Goldthorpe, near Barnsley, south Yorkshire, which is backed by large retailers and supermarkets, could be replicated elsewhere in Britain.

Community Shop is a subsidiary of Company Shop, Britain’s largest commercial re-distributor of surplus food and goods, which works with retailers and manufacturers to tackle their surpluses sustainably and securely.

It sells on residual products, such as those with damaged packaging or incorrect labelling, to membership-only staff shops in factories. The new project goes one step further, located in the community for the first time and also matching surplus food with social need.

Membership of the pilot store – in Goldthorpe, an area of social deprivation – will be restricted to people living in a specific local postcode area who also get welfare support.

Individuals who shop at Community Shop will not only get access to cheaper food, but will also be offered programs of wider social and financial support, such as debt advice, cookery skills and home budgeting.

The scheme is being supported by retailers, brands and manufacturers, including Asda, Morrisons, Co-operative Food, M&S, Tesco, Mondelez, Ocado, Tetley, Young’s and Müller. All are diverting surpluses to the pilot.

Company Shop hopes to open Community Shops in London and beyond next year should the pilot prove successful and sustainable.

Sarah Dunwell, director of environment and social affairs at Company Shop, said: “With many families facing tough times in Barnsley, Company Shop wanted to do more to match surplus stock with people who really need it.

“I was delighted to help develop and deliver the UK’s first social supermarket. Industry surplus is hard to avoid, but what Community Shop shows is that if we all work together we can make sure that surplus food delivers lasting social good.”

Retrieved from – http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/09/goldthorpe-social-supermarket-community-shop-food-poverty

Village in UP renames itself ‘Snapdeal.com Nagar’

Snapdeal.com – India’s fastest growing e-commerce company has taken an important step as part of the company’s vision to be a socially responsible organization. The one-year old company has adopted a village called Shiv Nagar, in Uttar Pradesh. The initiative, which is first of its kind in this space, will involve partnering with the village in developing its infrastructure and basic amenities.

To begin with, Snapdeal.com is resolving the foremost issue of unavailability of portable drinking water in the area by installing water pumps. Subsequently, Snapdeal will extend support to the local school and hospital as well.

Kunal Bahl, CEO of Snapdeal.com, believes that this is the company’s way of giving back to the society. “We are glad to contribute and support the villagers in various infrastructure needs such as creating provisions for drinking water, and also help them with necessary inputs for their upcoming school and hospital in a long term association with the community.”

The initiative, which is first of its kind in this space, will involve partnering with the village in developing its infrastructure and basic amenities.

Retrieved from  – http://www.indiainfoline.com/Markets/News/Village-in-UP-renames-itself-Snapdeal.com-Nagar/5177755506

The American India Foundation highlights skill development in India

“Skilling India’s Youth” addressed poignant topics for India including how the youth of the country must be armed with marketable skills for India to compete in the global world economy

The American India Foundation (AIF), in collaboration with the National Skill Development Corporation (NDSC), held its third national knowledge seminar on skill development entitled “Skilling India’s Youth: Successes, Lessons, and the Way Forward” at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on August 3, 2011.

The annual seminar, which brought various skill sector experts from around the country together, was especially notable this year as Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, attended and delivered the keynote address to an audience of training providers, governmental agencies, employers and non-profit organizations.

Read more on http://www.indiainfoline.com/Markets/News/The-American-India-Foundation-AIF-Highlights-Skill-Development-in-India/5213980772