Friday, July 31, 2009

Pratham Books Celebrates Virdhawal's Victory

You can read about Virdhawal Khade on his Wikipedia page and his Go Sports profile

Design for Giving Contest - Art Auction to Raise Money for Prabhat

We are going to be tracking the progress of the Design for Giving contest and bring you regular updates. It is exciting to see the potential of this project and one of the first examples we came across was immensely inspiring. Simple, yet effective! Take a look for yourself.



Read about the contest here and find out how your school can participate. You can also watch videos about the contest here.

Note: If you are receiving this blog post in an email or through an RSS feed and cannot see the videos, please open the link in a new page.

Design For Giving Contest - Why, How and What

The previous post was about the Design for Giving Contest which is part of the Joy of Giving week. Here are some of the videos from the campaign which go on to explain the reason behind the contest and how to participate in the contest.

Note: If you are receiving this blog post in an email or through an RSS feed and cannot see the videos, please open the link in a new page.



'Design for Giving' School Contest

The Design for Giving contest is part of the Joy of Giving week which is being held from 27th September, 2009 to 3rd October, 2009. The purpose of the Joy of Giving week is to inspire people from all walks of life to give. But give what?

From their website
Give anything - from smiles, to books, to time, to hope ..

Through the ‘Design for Giving’ contest we aim to reach out to over 30,000 schools and have over 100,000 children take part in this contest.

It will be our children’s bold, fresh ideas that will be documented and showcased to demonstrate that our children can ‘design’ solutions for India’s greatest challenges!

HOW?

1) Share the idea of the contest with the age group (10 to 13 years).
2) Select a mentor teacher and form teams (not more than 5 students per team)
3) Get each team to follow the simple 4 step process (FEEL, IMAGINE, DO, SHARE)
Find out how your school can participate here. And don't forget... there are prizes to be won too!

Via The Morung Express
To be held from September 27 to October 3, the Week is the first of its kind in India and an ambitious social movement that aims to engage two crore Indians to give.

So does that mean people aren’t giving enough? On the contrary, says Kiran Bir Sethi, Founder/Director of The Riverside School, in conversation with The Morung Express, “We have a great tradition of giving. And the whole idea of the contest was to bring it as a festival – a celebration!”

With enthusiastic response pouring in from “over 30,000 schools participating from 11 states”, the contest has now been made more flexible in terms of the age of students, but on one condition: “Do not let the teachers drive the project; let them just guide it.”
Read the entire article here.

Pratham Books is also participating in this project. We will publish selected stories of change into a series of books that will be translated into 7 languages. We can't wait to see what the kids at the schools are going to come up with. Watch this space for more details.

Image Source : Pratham Books

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales


'Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales' is an audiobook produced by Artists for a New South Africa (ANSA) and Hachette Book Group. 20% of the proceeds of the book goes towards children in South Africa who have been orphaned and impacted by HIV/AIDS.

From the website
This selection of Nelson Mandela's favorite folktales from across the African continent is performed by a diverse group of acclaimed actors who have donated their time and talents to this effort to help children in South Africa orphaned and impacted by HIV/AIDS.
The actors include Gillian Anderson, Benjamin Bratt, LeVar Burton, Ricardo Chavira, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Whoopi Goldberg, Sean Hayes, Hugh Jackman, Samuel L. Jackson, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Debra Messing, Helen Mirren, Parminder Nagra, Sophie Okonedo, CCH Pounder, Alan Rickman, Jurnee Smollett, Charlize Theron, Blair Underwood, Forest Whitaker, and Alfre Woodard.

Via PR Newswire
"We hope the audiobook will be enjoyed by people of all ages, increasing awareness of Africa's rich cultures while creating a better future for South Africa's vulnerable children," said ANSA Executive Director Sharon Gelman.

In his foreword for the book, Nelson Mandela wrote, "It is my wish that the voice of the storyteller may never die in Africa, that all the children of the world may experience the wonder of books." The audiobook brings these timeless tales to a new oral tradition to be heard around the world.
From Amazon's editorial review
Nobel Peace laureate Mandela understandably gets top billing here, but this collection of short fables compiles writings and translations by numerous authors and features illustrations by a diverse collection of artists. Together, the tales and their accompanying artwork create a patchwork of legends drawn from all over the African continent, from Morocco to Kenya to Swaziland. Snakes with seven heads and Zulu tricksters are found here, as well as various creation myths and a Kenyan lion (with the familiar name of Simba) who teaches a cunning hyena a lesson. The colorful birds, giant elephants and mischievous children populating the volume teach sometimes cryptic lessons about obedience, perseverance, cooperation and the simple strangeness of life. In one story, the children of an East African village must destroy a beautiful and enchanting bird that has brought bad luck to the surrounding countryside. In another, a courageous girl frees a prince from the spell that made him a python. In tales such as these, the dream-like, unpredictable symbology and sometimes cruel morality of myths resonate, and, in Mandela's words, the "gritty essence of Africa" shines through in stories with universal themes.
Visit the website and listen to some excerpts from the book.

Thanks @starcluster_85 for the tip off!

Image Source

Harvard University Press to Publish Content on Scribd

Via PSFK

The Harvard University Press announced recently that it will publish approximately 1000 academic books digitally through Scribd, the world’s largest “social publishing company.” Academic works are often published with ludicrously small printing runs because the main goal is becoming peer-reviewed, rather than read by the larger public.

While putting scholarly work online certainly won’t make it more readable, it may advance the attitude of the academic community to accept the merits of online sources. Most online material is frowned on by the archaic peer-review process, but hopefully if a large (and reputable) publishing house like the Harvard University Press takes the plunge, others will soon follow.
Via Ars Technica

It's very hard to make money on such small print runs, which result in books with sky-high cover prices and limited availability. All of this has made it harder for scholars to publish and harder for non-specialists to justify the effort and expense of obtaining good, scholarly work. In sum, the present situation benefits nobody—scholars, the public, or the financially strapped publishing houses.

But, as HUP's tiny little 1,000-book foray into the world of digital possibly indicates, academic publishers may be forced into the arms of digital by the same rapidly changing circumstances that are pushing regular book publishers toward outlets like Scribd.
Image Source: Darren Hester

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Young Girl's Efforts to Raise Money for a Library in Mongolia

Capucine is a tiny tot from France, but she is a brilliant storyteller. And with her storytelling skills, she is trying to raise money for a library in Mangolia.

Her mum says "I wanted to put Capucine's popularity to a good use, and with the help of several awesome persons, we have set up a project in order to raise money for Edurelief, a development organization based in Mongolia, who helps providing school books to Mongolian kids." (Link)

Turn up the volume and listen to her story....
Starring baby monkeys lost in frightening trees, a witch, crocodiles, a tiger, a "popotamus" and a lion, and even a "tremendously very bad mammoth". There are also magic powers and an orange ring, but sometimes, "something goes amiss".

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo.

It is our honor to introduce you to Capucine, the internet’s cutest kid and our newest star. If you haven’t yet become acquainted with Capucine then it’s high time you do. Capucine is four, lives in France, is a professional storyteller (this video will convince you) and a talented artist. Due to her incredible cuteness, Capucine has taken the internet by storm, capturing the hearts of people all over the world. We here at Edurelief are hooked too… just can’t get enough.

Anne (Capucine’s mother) and Capucine have decided to put her talents and fame to good use by helping children in Mongolia receive a better education. They have created a series of t-shirts, buttons, magnets, and postcards (coming) featuring the amazing world of Capucine. All the proceeds from these sales go to benefit “Capucine’s Library,” an idea we dreamed up with Anne where donations and sales from her merchandise would go towards one specific project reaching several hundred children in Mongolia. We will track her progress and provide photos, films, and results of her project.

Capucine for Edurelief in Mongolia from Capucha on Vimeo.

Isn't she cute? And isn't she a hero?

The Gardener Bookmark

Its been ages since we featured bookmarks on our blog. Found 'The Gardener Bookmark' on lemontree77's Etsy account today.
Nice looking bookmarks! But, I don't think they would last long if the book went into my bag :(.

Find more bookmarks here.

Image Source

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Anecdotes from the NPS Bookfair

Pratham Books was part of the book fair organized by National Public School (Bangalore) from 23rd-25th July, 2009. Like always, we were ready to spread the joy of reading amongst kids. Unlike some of the corporate fairs we participate in, this time was different as it gave us an opportunity to interact with the kids.

The fair kicked off with a batch of students who trooped into the venue armed with their pencils and pens. The younger students were just going to identify the books they wanted, jot the names down on a paper and then get their parents to the fair later in the evening or on the following days. While one girl exclaimed that our book prices were really low, her classmate declared that she was going to buy ALL the books. With pencils scribbling on white pieces of paper and promises to come back with their parents, the kids went back to school. But, this routine had just about begun.

One of the best moments had to be when an entire class lined up around our tables and wanted to read the books. We would hold up a few books and say 'Who wants to read this?' and everyone would eagerly jump and raise their hand and say 'Me..me'. After they finished reading it, they would ask for more books. While some sauntered off to see the books on offer at the next stall, many stayed back. We gave them some chairs and suddenly our stall had turned into a reading corner. They shared their chairs with each other in order to let the other kids read comfortably too. While one of the younger kids asked me how to pronounce 'Sringeri Srinivas' (a character from one of our books), another made a specific request for a book on India. The girl returned a day later with her mother and said - 'Ma, I want a book on India from this stall'.
Jyothi, the PT teacher, has to be our favourite teacher from NPS for patiently browsing through all our books and carefully selecting a big pile of books to take back for her own kids. She even back the same day and bought some more books. Yayyy Jyothi! We hope your kids loved the gifts you brought for them last Thursday.

We met many kids who came to our stall and said 'Can you please suggest a book for a 5 year old? I want to buy a book for my brother/sister.' Isn't that sweet? And none of these kids made an impulsive purchase. They carefully browsed through the books we recommended and then chose what they thought was the best for their sibling.

Two girls came and picked up one of our books from the American folktale series. One girl sat at our stall and read it while her friend strolled through the other stall. When she finished reading, she gave her seal of approval to the book and her friend bought the book.
Other than the children, we met several parents who gave us valuable insights about our books. While some loved that our books were cheap, others bought many Hindi books as they are tough to find in regular bookstores. A person who bought several Bengali books at our previous fair came up to us and said that his son liked the books and went on to buy many Hindi books from us this time around. Some parents who visited us the previous day came back to buy more books...Overall, the fair was a success and many kids got books over the weekend.

View more pictures from the book fair.

Psst: Thanks to the folks at Scholastic for giving us a few chairs on Day 1 when ours hadn't arrived.

Video Contest on Migration

Global Voices has a post on a video contest for 9-25 year olds on the topic of migration.

Via Global Voices
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations is organizing the Plural+ video contest about building a more inclusive, tolerant society. The contest is open for any participant between the ages of 9 and 25 before September 30th, and what they have to do is produce a video between 1 to 5 minutes of length including titles and credits about migration, diversity and tolerance, and other similar topics.

On their site, they present the invitation:

Recognizing youth as powerful agents of social change in a world often characterized by intolerance, and cultural and religious divisions, PLURAL+ is aimed at involving youth in addressing the key issues in their community related to migrant integration, inclusiveness, identity, diversity, human rights and social cohesiveness. The practical contributions of young people - whether they are migrants, second-generation immigrants or non-migrants – can come not just by identifying constraints but also through promoting a climate of respect and appreciation for each other, helping to point the way towards a more enlightened world.

For more details, click here.

Image Source: melingo wagamama

Reminders

A quick reminder of the deadlines for the grants/conferences/awards/competitions we have posted on our blog recently...
  • Manthan Award - For Digital Content Initiatives from India and South Asia - 31st July, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pratham Books Reaches Nepal Through the OLPC Project

Some of our CC-licensed books have made it to Nepal thanks to the OLPC(one laptop per child) project. We received some pictures of the kids reading our books on their bright green laptops.






Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...


Children from the hills of Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand can now travel to the land of Shakespeare and Dickens thanks to the new library in their village. Sudharma, perhaps the only Sanskrit daily in the country, turned 40 last week. Read about Amazon deleting purchased copies of George Orwell's books from Kindles. In other Amazon-related news, the company is planning to offer a print on demand option for rare books.

The Shakti Bhatt Foundation is inviting entries from writers of the subcontinent whose books have been published in India. Also, read about the writer's residency programme at Sangam House in Pondicherry.

The Global Education Awards 2009 is seeking nominations from NGOs and individuals making contribution towards advancing education for better livelihood in any part of the world. The Planning Commission of India invites all Voluntary Organizations (VOs)/ Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to sign up for the NGO Partnership Scheme. The Rajasthan Youth Association (Bangalore) is providing free textbooks to deserving students from economically weaker families.

Read about the WikiWars Conference event being organized by The Centre for Internet and Society (Bangalore, India) and the Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam, Netherlands).

We leave you with this interesting set of images that call for action and dialogue by asking people to use lego bricks to build notions of a better society.

Image Source : Artiii

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Event : Githa Hariharan's ‘Fugitive Histories’

This Sunday (26th July), hop over to Rangashankara (Bangalore) at 11 am for a reading from Gita Hariharan's ‘Fugitive Histories’.
Born in Coimbatore, Githa Hariharan shuttled between cities and has quite a lineage to her accord. Githa Hariharan's published work includes novels, short stories, essays, newspaper articles and columns. Her first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1993. Her other novels include The Ghosts of Vasu Master (1994), When Dreams Travel (1999), In Times of Siege (2003), and the new Fugitive Histories (2009).

Her latest book, ‘Fugitive Histories’ exposes the legacy of prejudice that, sometimes insidiously, sometimes perceptibly, continues to affect disparate lives in present-day India. Githa Hariharan portrays the web of human connections that binds as much as it divides. 'All my novels and stories look at power politics in some way or the other. Fiction has a thousand ways of giving us a new take on the dynamics of power relations.’ mentions Githa.

n the last twenty-five years, the Indian novel in English has changed dramatically in it’s style, it’s themes, it’s ideologies, following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnight Children’. As Khushwant Singh puts across, ‘Hariharan writes with anguish, pain and anger about what is happening to our country.’
Read the entire article here.

Image Source

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Creative writing with Tarot Cards

Another day to mark on your calendar... The Mother Tree is inviting people to participate in a creative writing workshop that involves tarot cards.

Via mybangalore
The tarot will be your tool to give you messages to set the plot for your story, provide a structure, find the characters and expand the imagination to take you on a journey to write your script that could be more than just a tale. You need no understanding of the Tarot or the way it works but the tarot will take you through the writing in your own unique style. You will be amazed at how the cards tune in to your energies.

Age group – 15 years and above
Day and date: Saturday 25th July, 2009
Timing – 2.30-5.00 pm
Find the contact details here.

Image Source: zigwamp

Amazon Offers POD Option for Rare Books

Amazon is planning to offer reprints of up to 400,000 rare books through its print on demand unit BookSurge.

According to Associated Press, the online retailer is teaming up with the University of Michigan for the project, which will span books in "more than 200 languages, from Acoli to Zulu". Among key titles, which are out of print and out of copyright, and hail from the university's library, is a 1898 book on nursing by the Lady of the Lamp, Florence Nightingale.

Read the entire article here.

Event : WikiWars Conference


The Centre for Internet and Society (Bangalore, India) and the Institute of Network Cultures (Amsterdam, Netherlands) are working together to produce a critical Reader on Wikipedia and to build a Wikipedia Knowledge Network. Under the rubric CPOV, we propose two events that bring together different perspectives, approaches, experiences and stories that critically explore different questions and concerns around Wikipedia. The proceeds from these two events will result in a Reader that consolidates critical points of view about Wikipedia.

WikiWars Conference: The first conference to be held in Bangalore, called WikiWars, invites participation from users, scholars, academics, practitioners, artists and other cultural workers, to share their experiences, ideas, experiments, innovations, applications and stories about Wikipedia. The WikiWars conference embodies the spirit that guides an open encyclopaedia like the Wikipedia, by referring to the edit battles that users enter into over topics that have many points of view. WikiWars also refers to the contradictory positions adopted by different stakeholders on the various issues of credibility, authority, verifiability and truth-telling, on the Wikipedia. This conference calls for diverse and varied knowledges to come together in a critical dialogic space that informs and augments our understanding of the Wikipedia.

Conference Themes: The possible themes and areas for presentations (projects, experiences, experiments, stories or documentation) can include but are not limited to:
  • Wiki Theory: Endorse, question/contest or delineate the theoretical approaches and view points on the Wikipedia
  • Wikipedia and Critique of Western Knowledge Production: The predominance of textual or linguistic cultures, post-western knowledge production systems, and indigenous knowledge systems
  • Wiki Art: Art that uses Wikipedia models, structures or data to explore and expand the practice of Wikipedia project; and accounts that document Wikipedia based art practices or debates
  • Designing Debate: Suggestions, innovations, critiques and ideas that focus on the design and form of the Wikipedia, to explore the claims of neutrality, objectivity, emergent hierarchy, control and authenticity on the Wikipedia
  • Critique of Free and Open: Areas like Wikipedia governance, economic practices of and around Wikipedia, and the nature of freedom in usage, production and participation on the Wikipedia
  • Global Politics of Exclusion: Exploring questions of non-western material inclusion, language, connectedness, oral histories, women, non-geeks, and alternative material that cannot be documented on Wikipedia etc.
  • The Place of Resistance: Space of resistance and dissent in the Wikipedia, structures that allow for alternative voices, experiences and ideas
  • Wikipedia and Education: Wikipedia usage in classrooms as a teaching resource, and its effect on pedagogy, the role of Wikipedia in the knowledge production sector, and mobilisation of academic communities around the Wikipedia
Send in your application by 31st August, 2009. Read more details here.

Image Source: quartermane

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Using Lego to Build a Better Society

Found an interesting set of images that call for action and dialogue through the following article in PSFK.

Via PSFK
A collective of social entrepreneurs, activists, policy-makers and social thinkers convened at RebootBritain on July 6th to discuss the challenges and opportunities currently facing the country. Organized by the UK-based National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), the public event included an activity in which participants were challenged with developing their own idea of what would help to reboot Britain using LEGO bricks.

Based on the notion that building with the hands inspires different ways of thinking, the exercise generated a collection of playful, yet significant images to inspire dialogue and action, arguably applicable to more than just Britain.
Some of the other images that we liked were...


See the entire Flickr set here. Don't miss the guest contribution by a 5 year old.

Image Source: d.gauntlett

NGO Partnership Scheme

Via ngo.india.gov.in

The Planning Commission of India invites all Voluntary Organizations (VOs)/ Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to Sign Up on this system,which has been developed in consultation with the below mentioned Ministries/Departments/Government Bodies to facilitate VOs / NGOs during their interaction with the Government in connection with requests for Government Grants under various schemes of the below mentioned Ministries/ Departments/ Government Bodies, in the first phase.

Participating Ministries/Departments/Government Bodies:

Visit the website.

Amazon Deletes Purchased Copies of George Orwell’s Books from Kindles

Kindle owners were in for a shock when they found that purchased copies of George Orwell's books '1984' and 'Animal Farm' were missing from their Kindles.

The books - downloaded from Amazon.com by American Kindle users - were remotely deleted after what the US company now says was a rights issue regarding the publisher, MobileReference.com.

"These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books," spokesman Drew Herdener told the Guardian. "When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers' devices, and refunded customers."

Amazon refunded the cost of the books, but told affected customers they could no longer read the books and that the titles were "no longer available for purchase".

Others were simply angered or annoyed by the sudden move, which they felt treated them unfairly simply for having bought the book in the first place.

"It's like having Barnes & Noble sell you a book, charge your Visa and then 3 months later change their mind, credit your card and demand their book be returned," said a disgruntled reader on the Amazon website.

"I was in the middle of reading the book on my Kindle," said another.

Via Electronic Frontier Foundation
This is Amazon choosing its "content partners" over its customers. There is nothing about copyright law that required these deletions -- if Amazon didn't have the rights to sell the e-books in the first place, the infringement happened when the books were sold. Remote deletion doesn't change that, and it's not an infringement for the Kindle owner simply to read the book. Can you imagine a brick-and-mortar bookstore chasing you home, entering your house, and pulling a book from your shelf after you paid good money for it?

If people want books that won't evaporate on the orders of faceless bureaucrats, if they want their libraries to last, or the right to read privately, or if they want the same ability to share or loan books that they enjoy with printed books, they should avoid buying any book that can't be copied or any e-book reader with "remote deletion" features. Project Gutenberg has e-books that won't disappear at midnight, like a pumpkin coach. Cory Doctorow sells e-books that will live as long as your hard drive and your backups keep them around. They're in unrestricted formats — like plain text, HTML, or PDF — and you can read them on devices without an Amazon Big Brother on board.
Via The New York Times

This is ugly for all kinds of reasons. Amazon says that this sort of thing is “rare,” but that it can happen at all is unsettling; we’ve been taught to believe that e-books are, you know, just like books, only better. Already, we’ve learned that they’re not really like books, in that once we’re finished reading them, we can’t resell or even donate them. But now we learn that all sales may not even be final.

As one of my readers noted, it’s like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we’ve been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.

Read the entire articles here, here and here.

Also read :

Amazon's Orwellian deletion of Kindle books

Amazon and ebooks - not evil, just clueless

Amazon, Why Don’t You Come In Our Houses And Burn Our Books Too?

Image Source: Xesc

Sanskrit Daily Turns 40

Via The Hindu

Sudharma, perhaps the only Sanskrit daily in the country, completed 40 years of publication here on Sunday. Celebrations were held and many scholars were felicitated on the occasion.

Swami Veereshanandaji Saraswathi of Ramakrishna Vivekananda Ashram, Tumkur, exhorted the people to patronise Sanskrit and complimented Editor of Sudharma K.V. Sampathkumar for striving hard to keep the daily afloat despite the recession and lack of adequate advertisement support.

Sudharma, which launched its Internet edition (http://sudharma.epapertoday.com) in the first week of August last year, has increased its readership base significantly. Mr. Sampathkumar said the number of hits during the weekends was very high (between 6,000 and 8,000 a day), while it was relatively low on weekdays. The current annual subscription fee is Rs. 250.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : chucks

Writers Residency Programme at Sangam House

Via Sangam House

Every winter the Sangam House Writer's Residency Program invites approximately twenty writers to live and work on the Adishakti property outside Pondicherry, on the east coast of southern India. Lodging (single rooms) and food will be provided free of charge. Each writer is responsible for travel costs to and from Pondicherry. However, travel funds and bursaries are available through various cultural organizations.

Residencies are structured in 1-3 month intervals, determined by individual needs. We recommend a residence period of no less than 3 weeks for each writer. Of the invited writers, half come from the South Asian subcontinent (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) and half from other countries around the world. Sangam House is open to writers in all languages and disciplines. The session will run for approximately three months from mid-November 2009 to mid-February 2010.

Residents are selected through an application process. Interested writers are asked to submit the following three items:

Two letters of nomination.
These should be provided by a publishing or writing professional. Writing and publishing professionals are defined as: publishers, published writers, published translators, professors, editors, and literary agents. The letters should evaluate the work you propose to do at Sangam House or make reference to your previous work. Please have letters emailed or posted to the appropriate address below, independent and separate from your other application materials.

One non-returnable copy of a previously published book.
If the writer has not yet published a book, a 25 page work sample should be submitted. The book or work sample can be submitted in the writer's native language, English, or both.

One page statement describing the work to be undertaken while at Sangam House.

In addition to general applications, Sangam House offers a select amount of specific fellowships.
For more details on the residency programme and the fellowships available, click here. The deadline to send in your applications is 31st July, 2009.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Free Textbooks for Students

The Rajasthan Youth Association (Bangalore) is providing free textbooks to deserving students from economically weaker families.

Via The Hindu
A Book Bank Project for pre-university students, organised by Rajasthan Youth Association, got under way here on Sunday wherein a full set of the prescribed textbooks was provided to deserving students from the economically weaker sections of society.

The students are expected to use the books till they finish their examinations and later return them. Only meritorious students with an aggregate of about 65 per cent, qualify to avail themselves of the books.

The students who were selected for the project were a relieved lot. “My father is a security guard and earns just enough to sustain the family. Something like this encourages me to study hard and also prepare myself for higher studies,” said Revanna M., a student of a college near Yelahanka.
Read the entire article here.

Via The Times of India
The association will remit the entire tuition fee plus any other charges to the principal of the college concerned. The association is at 48, Kasturba Road.
Image Source: uncultured

Library in the Hills of Uttarakhand

Children from the hills of Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand can now travel to the land of Shakespeare and Dickens thanks to the new library in their village.

Via The Times of India
A first for a government high school in the state, the library has not been built through government funds. It is the result of a common dream of Sitaram Dhyani, a retired school teacher, and his nephew Jai Prakash, an old-student of the school and currently professor of chemical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago.

Borgaon village is over a hundred kilometres from the nearest railhead at Kotdwar. The pucca road ends about 6 km short of it. The village homes are scattered over a steep 1,500-foot slope. Like many other villages in the hills, its population has been depleted by migration to the plains for employment. There are just seven kids in its primary school. But the villagers are proud to have a high school, which serves several surrounding villages. And now they have a library.

Villagers mill around the reading room and the stacks of books. There is a brand new globe and several registers on the table.

And the there are the books. The collection is breathtaking in its sweep. Shakespeare, Camus, Sholokhov and Dickens (in Hindi) mingle with Premchand, Renu and Parsai. There are over 2,000 books, all bound in red with titles handwritten on the spine. There are ‘useful’ books too - general knowledge yearbooks and guides to various examinations. Usha Binjola, Jai Prakash’s sister has done the selection along with her husband Madan. They stay in Delhi. When Jai Prakash offered to give a donation that would help the village, it was Usha who ran around and collected the books. Teachers from the school sent her a basic list, to which she added her own.

“I wanted the children to be exposed to all the great writers. I know how that can transform one’s life — it happened to me,” says Usha.

The actual construction of the library took over three years. "It was very difficult. There was no road, so transportation of bricks and sand had to be done on donkeys. Costs just kept going up," says Sitaram Dhyani, who handled the construction part. He has donated a piece of his land for the library.

Villagers can also become members. Mandeep, a small boy but already in 9th class, says that he wants to read storybooks. “We don’t have books at home. My grandfather used to read books but now…,” he says. Sunita has already got her first book issued — Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope in Hindi. “I have seen him on TV, so I wanted to read his book,” she shyly says. She has to hurry along, as her home is two kilometres away.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source : VictorLino

Global Education Awards 2009

Via FundsforNGOs.org

The Global Education Awards 2009 organized by the International Council of CCLP Worldwide is seeking nominations from NGOs and individuals making contribution towards advancing education for better livelihood in any part of the world. The awards intend to recognize the “concept, organizational effort and dedication towards promoting and advancing the work of education for better livelihood.”

NGOs, as well as individuals and “degree-granting social work education programs” will be each served with an award under different categories. The awards include a letter and an engraved plague to recognize the contribution of the winners towards education for better livelihood.
The deadline to send in the entries is 31 July, 2009. You can find more details here.

Image Source: World Bank Photo Collection

The Shakti Bhatt Foundation Invites Entries from Writers

Via express buzz

It’s time to look for the best writer of the year as the Shakti Bhatt Foundation is on its way of selecting the winner for its First Book Prize.

Entries can be in any genre which includes poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction (travel writing, autobiography, biography, and narrative journalism), drama.Authors from the subcontinent are eligible but books must be published in India. Publications must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.

The winner will be announced in the second half of November and the prize presentation will take place in December 2009. The winners will receive prize money of Rs One lakh and a trophy.
More details here.

Rewind. Recap.

The week that was...

Illustrations from one of our books got a new look thanks to Patti Sundstrom. Patti remixed our CC-licensed illustrations to create a new piece of work and put it up on her Flickr account. Read more about it here. We were also mentioned in the Guardian Weekly and one of our friends on Twitter sent us a scan of the article.

Send in your entries for the Inaugural Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize- 2009 before 1st September, 2009. You can also send in your entries for The Manthan Award for digital content initiatives from India and South Asia. The Belgaum Zilla Sahitya Parishat has invited entries from writers for its district-level annual awards.

Read about the solar eclipse that will occur on 22nd July, 2009. Google Image Search now has the option to search for Creative Commons-licensed images. Also, read about the School Choice Campaign's Pahal scheme in Uttarakhand.

Reliance Communications is all set to launch a book that can be received via SMS. Codex Sinaiticus, the world's oldest Bible, is now online and the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary which contains almost the entire vocabulary of English has finally been published. The Malayalam book Aithihyamaala has also been translated into English in the form of 'Lore and Legends of Kerala'. The French Revolution, a novel by Matt Stewart, will be published on Twitter (130 characters at a time). '360 Degrees Longitude' is a book about one family's journey around the world and it employs the use of maps and Google Earth in its narrative. Kirtas Book has come up with an initiative where customers can 'Invest in Knowledge' by paying for the digitization of a book and getting a share in the future profits of the book.

Pay a visit to our Twittering Thursday post to find more links to interesting news from our Twitter account.

Image Source: givikat

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twittering Thursday

A round up of our tweets this week...


@bjelkeman tweeted us to inform us about Pratham books being mentioned in the Guardian Weekly. He even took a photo and circled the part which mentions us in pink. :)

We are now on Gizapage. Find all our social media properties (blog, Scribd, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Friendfeed) at one place now.

On the Karnataka Learning Partnership blog, we were reading articles about training and motivating teachers being one of the solutions of improving the education system, decreasing dropout rates in Bijapur district, the reasons for Kannada medium schools in Uttara Kannada district being on the verge of closure, English lessons being taught to governemtn school teachers through radio and tv and the education budgets of the world's top economies.

Submit projects to The Digital Open, an online expo for open technology projects created by people aged 17 and under from around the world (and if you send in your entry before July 24th, you have a chance of winning a Flip Ultra Camcorder).

NGOs from the Asia-Pacific region can apply for Asia Society's $10,000 Grant Award. Registrations for the Tata Jagriti Yatra 2009 are also open. Their website states :
"Jagriti Yatra is an annual train journey that that takes hundreds of India's highly motivated youth (with some participation of international students) between the ages of 20-25 on a eighteen day national odyssey, introducing them to unsung heroes of India. The aim is to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship - both social and economic - within India's youth by exposing them to individuals and institutions that are developing unique solutions to India's challenges. Through this national event we have begun to inspire the youth of India to lead and develop institutions both nationally and within their communities."
Hippocampus Reading Foundation is organizing a chairty screening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on Sunday (19th July) in Bangalore. More details here. While we are on the topic of charity, have you voted for your favourite charity on Collaborative Chairty yet?

@adropofwisdom was creating awareness about the 'Wikipedia Takes Chennai' event for people who are interested in photography and are willing to contribute to Wikipedia. @thebetterindia was tweeting about Radio Bundelkhand giving a voice to the voiceless.

@abhaga tweeted about a Linux pocket guide in Hindi and @kiruba mentioned the launch of Wikipedia Mobile.

And since we are talking about Twitter, take a look at a Twitter-like machine from 1935.

We were also reading about Parikrama's ‘Universe To You’ Science education programme and how child labourers project their experience in a mini series. The Culturally Teaching blog had an interesting article on the number of years students are expected to go to school in different countries.

Somre more articles that made for good reading were:

Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story

Chris Anderson’s Free Is Now Available For Free On The Kindle

Top 10 comic book cities

Future of Newspapers: Profitless? Go Wireless

Javanese batikers say thanks but no thanks to copyright

@BubbleCow tweeted about an author who secured a traditional book deal after good sales on Kindle. @brainpicker tweeted about some stunning pencil sculptures by Jennifer Maestre while we tweeted about some spectacular rice paddy crop art we saw online.

We leave you with the gluttonous 'toofs' on the 'My Milk Toof' blog. Go get your dose of silly happy grins!

Image Source:
~Ilse

World's Oldest Bible Goes Online

Via CNN.com

The world's oldest known Christian Bible goes online Monday -- but the 1,600-year-old text doesn't match the one you'll find in churches today.

Discovered in a monastery in the Sinai desert in Egypt more than 160 years ago, the handwritten Codex Sinaiticus includes two books that are not part of the official New Testament and at least seven books that are not in the Old Testament.

The New Testament books are in a different order, and include numerous handwritten corrections -- some made as much as 800 years after the texts were written, according to scholars who worked on the project of putting the Bible online. The changes range from the alteration of a single letter to the insertion of whole sentences.

And some familiar -- very important -- passages are missing, including verses dealing with the resurrection of Jesus, they said.

Juan Garces, the British Library project curator, said it should be no surprise that the ancient text is not quite the same as the modern one, since the Bible has developed and changed over the years.

"The Bible as an inspirational text has a history," he told CNN.

"There are certainly theological questions linked to this," he said. "Everybody should be encouraged to investigate for themselves."

That is part of the reason for putting the Bible online, said Garces, who is both a Biblical scholar and a computer scientist.

"Scholars will want to look very closely at it, and some of the Web site functionality is specifically for them -- the ability to search the text, the ability to highlight a word, the degree of detail is particularly interesting for scholars interested in the text," he said.

Read the entire article here.

You can find the Codex Sinaiticus here.

Image Source: Roger Smith

Pay to Digitize a Book, Share in its Future Sales

Kirtas Book has come up with an initiative where customers can 'Invest in Knowledge' by paying for the digitization of a book and getting a share in the future profits of the book.

Via springwise
Kirtas's new Invest in Knowledge program allows "anyone to subsidize the digitization of the world’s knowledge one book at a time," as the company puts it. Consumers first pick what book they'd like to support and then make sure on the Kirtas site that it's available for inclusion in the program—meaning, primarily, that no other investor has already selected it. If it is, they then order it through the Invest in Knowledge option. In addition to the regular USD 1.95 price for a downloadable copy of a digitized book, subsidizing it through the Invest in Knowledge program costs an additional USD 28.05—not too much more than the usual USD 8.05 or USD 18.05 prices for soft- and hard-cover versions, respectively. When they do support the Invest in Knowledge program, however, users get not just a soft-cover version, but they are also entitled to 5 percent of all future sales of that book through Kirtasbooks.com. So, when a future user orders a copy of the book for USD 8.05, for example, the subsidizing user would receive some 40 cents. Kirtas even supplies "investors," as it calls them, with a link from their account to track the total sales and total revenues earned through the program. Users can invest in as many books as they'd like, and are encouraged to spread the word and help market the digitized versions they've supported.

“This is such a tremendous opportunity for the average consumer to help support and fund the digitization of some amazing collections of books,” explains Tom DeMay, the Rochester, N.Y., company's vice president of business development. “So not only are consumers doing the right thing, but if they want to ask, ‘what’s in it for me?’ we can give a great answer. Several titles or one popular book could provide a nice return on investment over time, creating a true lifelong investment in knowledge.”
Website: www.kirtasbooks.com

Read the entire article here.

Thanks to Shahid Hussain for sending us this link!

Image Source

360 Degrees Longitude- A Book that Uses Google Earth

Just half an hour ago, there was some talk in our office about using maps. Half an hour later, I came across an article on the use of maps and Google Earth in a book. 360 Degrees Longitude is about one family's journey around the world.

Via Google Earth blog
A book called "360 Degrees Longitude" is about a family of four who decided to spend a year traveling around the world. The book documents their journey - but, I'm especially intrigued by their use of the Internet, maps, and Google Earth to help people follow the places they went, and view the pictures they took.

The book was released last month, and is available from Amazon. But, the maps and Google Earth file are available from their web site. The Google Earth file shows their somewhat convoluted route, and contains lots of placemarks with snippets of information about each location and photos. It's actually quite entertaining to read about the trip with Google Earth, but the book adds a lot of detail to their experiences. The book's web site has a lot of other supporting content including Google Maps mashups.

Via Amazon's product description:

360 Degrees Longitude employs Google’s wildly popular Google Earth as a compliment to the narrative. Using your computer you can spin the digital globe to join the adventure cycling through Europe, feeling the cold stare of a pride of lions in Africa, and breaking down in the Andes. Packed with photos, video and text, the online Google Earth companion adds a dimension not possible with mere paper and ink.

Image Source

Historical Thesaurus of The Oxford English Dictionary

Via Oxford University Press

... the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is the first historical thesaurus to include almost the entire vocabulary of English, from Old English to the present day. Conceived and compiled by the English Language Department of the University of Glasgow, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is a groundbreaking analysis of the historical inventory of English, allowing users to find words connected in meaning throughout the history of the language.

· The largest thesaurus resource in the world, covering more than 920,000 words and meanings based on the Oxford English Dictionary

· The very first historical thesaurus to be compiled for any of the world's languages from medieval times through the present

· Synonyms listed with dates of first recorded use in English, in chronological order, with earliest synonyms first

· For obsolete words, the Thesaurus also includes last recorded use of word

· Made up of two volumes: The main text, comprising numbers sections for semantic categories, and the index, comprising a full A-Z look up of nearly one million lexical items
Read more here.

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Literary Awards for Residents of Belgaum District

Via The Hindu
The Belgaum Zilla Sahitya Parishat has invited entries from writers for its district-level annual awards. Different genres of literature such as short story, novel, drama, poetry, autobiography, biography, criticism, and works of research and translated works besides writings on tourism which were published in the year 2008 will be considered for the award. However, the author should be a resident of the district or should have stayed in the district at least for 10 years. For details, contact the parishat secretary Shireesh Joshi on: 9448637797, a release said.

The French Revolution - Twitter Novel in 3,700 Tweets And 480,000 Characters

Matt Stewart is publishing his entire novel 'The French Revolution' on Twitter.

Via Tech Crunch
Yes, Stewart is publishing his entire 480,000 character book at 130 characters at a time (to leave room for hashtags and links) on Twitter. To be clear, the book, called The French Revolution (being released today, appropriately on Bastille Day), is already written. But Stewart and his agent couldn’t get any publishers to bite, so they decided to go the non-traditional route, to say the least.

Here’s how this works: Every so often, Stewart is tweeting out sentences (or incomplete sentences) from the book. No, he’s not doing this by hand, he got a programmer to help him automate the process. The result is slowly spilling out the entire narrative of the book to his Twitter feed.

Others have taken this approach to put pieces of writing on Twitter, and plenty have even crowd-sourced the writing of works on the service. But Stewart believes his is the first full-length literary novel to be released first on Twitter. To commemorate the launch, you can also find his book for free on Scribd.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source

Total Solar Eclipse - 22nd July

Circle the date 22 July on your calender to remind yourself about the solar eclipse on this day.

Via Wikipedia
The solar eclipse that will take place on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 will be a total eclipse of the Sun with a magnitude of 1.080 that will be visible from a narrow corridor through northern India, eastern Nepal, northern Bangladesh, Bhutan, the northern tip of Myanmar, central China and the Pacific Ocean, including the Ryukyu Islands, Marshall Islands and Kiribati. Totality will be visible in many cities such as Surat, Varanasi, Patna, Thimphu, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Hangzhou and Shanghai, as well as over the Three Gorges Dam. A partial eclipse will be seen from the much broader path of the Moon's penumbra, including most of South East Asia and north-eastern Oceania.

This solar eclipse is the longest total solar eclipse that will occur in the twenty-first century, and will not be surpassed in duration until June 13, 2132.
Via The Hindu
“This is going to be an interesting event as the rising sun itself will be eclipsed. The solar eclipse will begin at 5.38 a.m. and will be partially visible from Bangalore. A maximum of 66 per cent coverage will be visible at 6.21 a.m. here,” C.S. Shukre, director of the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, told presspersons here on Wednesday.

He said that Bangaloreans may choose to travel to areas where the eclipse will be total. They could view it from a high-rise building or hills such as Nandi Hills. “Watching the sunrise is safe but people should not look at the sun with naked eyes if they miss the sunrise. They may use eclipse goggles to view it. The safest method is to project the sun’s image on a wall or white cloth with a pinhole camera and look at the image.”
Via The Hindu
As the sun and the moon play a game of hide and seek on July 22, channel Nick invites kids to witness the total solar eclipse. As part of the viewing, Nick aims to bust myths surrounding the eclipse. So, till July 22, Sponge Bob Square Pants and Dora the Explorer will bust myths and also help you learn more about the sun and the moon. What’s more? Nick gives its viewers ‘Nickgoggles’ with a filter to look at the ‘diamond ring’ the sun and the moon form during the eclipse. To lay your hands on the goggles, log on to www.nickindia.com or SMS Solar your name to 56882.
The Big Picture also has some beautiful pictures from the total solar eclipse of 2008. Don't forget to take a look at them.

Update : A comment left on our blog directed us to the Manthan blog which has more information on the Solar Eclipse. You can buy safe solar viewers from them and also take a look at the maps and posters posted on the blog. (Thanks for the tip-off Meena)

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