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Neil Perry: I view Australia as part of Asia

Neil Perry, the pioneering Australian chef, has been a defining contributor to how the world perceives modern Australian cuisine. It is in Rockpool, at his iconic fine dining restaurant located in the hub of Sydney’s financial district, that I meet him on an unusually balmy autumn afternoon. The dining room is abuzz with men in dark suits on a business lunch, a young Korean couple, perhaps on a life-changing date, an Italian family raising a toast to the parents’ 50 years of togetherness, and a group of women engaged in animated conversation, all relishing the exotic aromas wafting from their plates. The wood décor bathed in mellow light radiates warmth. A friendly waiter ushers me up the stairs to The Balcony Room, where I meet Perry, with his trademark ponytail, in a crisp white shirt and black suit. He is excited about launching his Burger Project in the new St. Collins Lane luxury precinct in Melbourne. I can’t resist stirring the traditional Sydney-Melbourne rivalry. Perry appeases with his disarming smile.

First ever Online atlas mapping oceans’ benefits

The Atlas of Ocean Wealth is out — the world’s first-ever book mapping the benefits of ocean ecosystems to assist governments and businesses make informed decisions and investments for the sustainable growth of coastal and marine resources. Oceans cover 70 percent of the planet, supporting a global seafood economy that accounts for US$190 billion yearly and provides for protein needs of 17 percent of the population. But research shows that fish catches are declining, ocean temperatures are warming, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events are threatening coastal habitats. A project of the environmental non-profit group The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the atlas compiles spatially explicit information on the benefits of coral reefs, marshes, mangroves, seagrass meadows and oyster reefs. “Think of bundles of ecosystems generating bundles of benefits,” says TNC senior marine scientist and atlas co-author Mark Spalding about the book’s purpose to inform planning for economic development and conservation.

Vivid Sydney: Dancing Lanterns

The advent of winter coincides with Sydney immersing in the warm glow of one of the world’s largest festivals of light, music and ideas. Vivid Sydney, the annual 23-day festival, is showcasing 90 light installations from 23 countries, including India. Mumbai-based artists Vikas Patil and Santosh Gujar have a lighting sculpture named DNA, featuring 24 moving coloured light tubes that continuously spiral around a common core to form a DNA structure. “DNA is an integral part of every ‘being’ and we thought lighting could be an ideal way to represent it. When the DNA is decoded, it creates a barcode of colours. There is an immediate connection to lighting and that’s why we decided to make it our central theme for the sculpture,” says Patil, an architect and lighting designer.

I don’t become the writer, I inhabit the writer’s words: Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante’s translator

Ann Goldstein is probably the only translator in the world whose fame comes anywhere close to the writer being translated. That’s because she is the brilliant and celebrated translator of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet, a collection of four books that have taken Europe, the UK, the US and now the rest of the world by storm and are set for Television adaptation. Goldstein, whose name on a book adds credence, is the hugely accomplished translator of Italian literary works by prominent authors, besides Elena Ferrante, Jhumpa Lahiri, Primo Levi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italo Calvino and Alessandro Baricco. She heads the copy department at The New Yorker and she is a recipient of PEN Renato Poggioli Translation Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In Australia as a guest of the Sydney Writers’ Festival she spoke to Neena Bhandari about her passion for Italian language, the challenges and future of translation, and the surprising international recognition Ferrante's books have brought her.

Healthcare for world’s adolescents wanting

Global health and development policies must focus on the 1.8 billion young people aged 10 to 24 years to reap a triple dividend that will benefit these adolescents today, into their adulthood and the next generation.  “This is the largest generation of adolescents that the world will ever see. Close to 90 per cent of them live in low- and middle-income countries,” says George Patton, chair of the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing which launched a report in London last week (10 May) to draw attention to the issue. “If we make the right investments in their health and wellbeing, they will bring ‘demographic dividend’ for the world. If we fail to make investments, there is a risk these adolescents will become a disengaged, lost generation, which will lead to huge social disruption, poverty, mass migration and civil unrest,” Patton tells SciDev.Net

Mining nod for Adani’s Australia project stirs debate

As coal prices slump and demand dips — and notwithstanding the continuing legal challenges by environmental and indigenous groups — the Queensland government has approved three mining leases for Adani Mining Pty Ltd’s (AMPL) Carmichael coal mine, rail and port project. Touted as Australia’s largest coal mine, the AUD 16.5 billion (USD 12.5 billion) project has been labelled “commercially unviable”. There are fears that it could also impact local communities as well as the Great Barrier Reef. The three mines for which leases were granted on April 3, 2016 contain an estimated 11 billion tonnes of coal that can be used for power plants. AMPL, a subsidiary of India-based Adani Enterprises Ltd, has announced that it hopes to begin construction next year and focus “on the conclusion of second tier approvals and resolution of legal challenges”.

Safer areas for Pacific health centres, infrastructure

Frequent extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and cyclones are inflicting significant damage on the health and public health infrastructure of South Pacific island communities. A study on the impact of cyclone-triggered flash floods on the Solomon Islands in 2014, published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (18 April), provides graphic evidence of the risk of acute injuries, infectious disease outbreaks and mortality facing island populations worldwide due to extreme events related to climate change.

Resistant starch tested as infant health booster

A dash of starch added to baby food could be a cost-effective way of reducing infant mortality due to malnutrition and diarrhoea.  A joint team from Flinders University, the South Australia Health and Medical Research Institute and the University of Malawi is testing the gut bacteria in African babies below 12 months to see if they have the bacteria to ferment resistant starch, a fibre component present in everyday diet.

India Australia FTA long overdue: FM

The sooner the India-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is signed, the better, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while addressing the ethnic Indian media on Wednesday at the Shangri-La hotel in Sydney's central business district. When asked if signing the FTA was a priority for his government and if the FTA would address services and make material concessions to attract Australian companies to operate and partner in India, Jaitley told Business Standard, "This is at the negotiations stage; therefore, it is not fair for me to comment. It (FTA) was a priority even when the Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) was here in 2014. He (Modi) wanted this to be done in 2015. So, we have already crossed the deadline. The sooner the better."

Improved prosthetic sockets save time and costs

Biomechanical engineers have successfully completed clinical trial of a new technology to make artificial limbs accessible and affordable for thousands of accident and landmine victims in developing countries. The team led by Peter Vee Sin Lee from the mechanical engineering department of the University of Melbourne fitted 70 patients in Vietnam with prosthetic sockets using pressure cast (PCAST) technology.

3D technology in the fight against ovarian cancer

Inexpensive 3D models that replicate cancer cells can be the key to finding effective and affordable treatment for ovarian cancer, which has a worldwide annual fatality rate of 140,000. Researchers at QUT [Queensland University of Technology] in Brisbane are using three-dimensional models, whereby cancer cells are floated in a culture that is meant to replicate the ascites that accumulates in the abdomen of women with ovarian cancer, to find better treatment outcomes.

Immune Cells from tissues & organs can fight off infectious diseases?

Researchers have discovered “the molecular machinery” to create novel immune cells, which has the potential to transform how vaccines of the future are designed, and improved vaccines in turn have the potential to curb the spread of infectious diseases such as influenza, HIV, malaria and herpes. The study led by Dr Laura Mackay and Professor Francis Carbone identified that specialised immune cells – tissue-resident memory T cells – live in a wide range of tissues and organs including skin, lung, brain, kidney, liver, salivary glands and reproductive organs rather than in the blood, and they are key to protecting against infection. 

Climate change will exacerbate non-communicable and infectious diseases in the Pacific Island states

Climate change poses the most significant threat to human health in the small low-lying, densely populated Pacific island nations, which have the least ability to adapt to such risks. According to two recent studies by the WHO, Pacific Islanders are facing major health risks from non-communicable and infectious diseases which will be further aggravated by climate change. “Increasing temperatures will reduce local harvest, compelling islanders to rely on imported, processed and calorie-dense food, and discourage physical activity. These will aggravate the incidence of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular problems, diabetes and hypertension, which are related to obesity, poor diet and limited physical activity,” says Rokho Kim, a lead co-author of both studies and environmental health specialist at WHO’s regional office for Western Pacific in Fiji.

Australia’s Luxury Ecolodges: Unwind in Style 

Australia often evokes images of spiders, snakes and sharks, but tucked away in its unique landscapes are some of the world’s premier eco- lodges offering ultimate luxury. From the World Heritage Listed rainforests and reefs to pristine coastal and outback destinations, the discerning traveller is spoilt for choice. Equipped with all the bells and whistles, providing visual and acoustic privacy with limited house guests at any given time, these luxury eco-lodges adhere to the highest sustainable standards. 

This plant may help rice survive long droughts

A grass native to Australia and New Guinea may provide the genetic key to enable tropical crops such as rice and chickpea to withstand the effects of climate change and still produce high yields. As frequent and extreme weather conditions threaten global food security, results from glasshouse trials being conducted at the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities have shown that the grass, Tripogon loliiformis, regenerates when hydrated even after drying out during prolonged droughts.

Why Australia must not sell uranium to India?


As the Australia-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement awaits ratification by the Australian Parliament, civil society, environment and disarmament advocates caution that sale of uranium to India would fuel a nuclear arms race in the region and undermine Australia’s strong credentials as an exponent of nuclear safeguards policies. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Australia has expressed grave concerns regarding the weak safeguards in the Agreement, the poor safety record at Indian nuclear facilities, and the implications of the Agreement for the nuclear non-proliferation regime. This is the first time the Australian Government would be selling uranium to a country that is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Call to put health on the climate change agenda

`Our Climate, Our Health’, a global campaign kicked off on October 12 in more than a dozen countries to unite the health sector under one banner in the lead-up to the Paris climate conference this December. “The campaign is calling on health professionals to communicate and understand the profound impacts that climate change is having on human health, to help communities adapt to the worst of these effects, and to propagate the health benefits of mitigation,” says Nick Watts, coordinator of the London-based Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA) which is spearheading the campaign

Will speedster Brett Lee bowl them over with his teacher act?

One has seen him in action on cricketing fields around the world, in commercials on our television screens, and heard him sing alongside Asha Bhosle. This October, internationally renowned paceman Brett Lee makes his debut on the silver screen as the leading man in the Australian romantic comedy, unINDIAN. The A$4.5 million film funded by the Australia India Film Fund [AIFF], which premiered Wednesday at the Hoyts cinemas in Sydney’s prestigious Entertainment Quarter next to the Sydney Cricket Ground, showcases the clash of cultures as Will [Brett Lee], a teacher who introduces migrants to Australian English and culture, falls in love with Meera [Tannishtha Chatterjee] a successful divorced executive and single mother 

The Jungle Book: The Reef and the Rainforests

Nestled between the Coral Sea and the Great Dividing Range of mountains on a long narrow coastal strip is the city of Cairns, the gateway to two UNESCO World Heritage sites - the Great Barrier Reef and the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest on earth. This cosmopolitan city’s close proximity to Asia has made it an international tourist hub. It is worth a stopover either on the way in or out of Australia. The city centre lined with mangroves and mudflats, and the Esplanade, stretching along the city’s foreshore, have plenty to do for the young and old from children’s playgrounds to designated exercise and barbeques areas. The Esplanade Lagoon is a good place to cool off from the steamy heat of the Tropics 

Who will pay the price for Australia’s climate change policies?

Rowan Foley has spent many years as a ranger and park manager, caring for Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park Aboriginal lands in the spiritual heart of Australia’s Red Centre in the Northern Territory. He has been observing the effects of soaring temperatures and extreme weather events on his people, residing in some of the hottest regions of the country. “There are hotter and more frequent fires. Salt water intrusion is leading to less fresh water. This is impacting on Indigenous traditional owners of the land, who have contributed the least to Global warming”, says Foley, who belongs to the Wondunna clan of the Badtjala people, Traditional Owners of Fraser Island and Hervey Bay in the state of Queensland.

India needs to focus on its polio survivors

The Indian Government, Non-Governmental Organisations and the larger community must invest in rehabilitating millions of polio survivors facing new physical, social, cultural and economic challenges.  India was certified polio-free by the World Health Organisation on 27 March 2014. Polio immunisation has been a great success story of public-private health partnership, but now we need to replicate this to improving the lives of people living with polio. Unlike the developed world, millions of polio survivors in India are still very young. They will need treatment and support for many more years to come. Doctors, orthotists and physiotherapists need to be trained to recognise and manage the debilitating effects of Post-Polio Syndrome [PPS]. It is also time to count and document the number of polio survivors and the problems they are facing today

Pacific Island countries want a world without Nuclear weapons

As political conflicts magnify in the Middle East and North Africa with the spectre of brutal violence from terrorist organisations like ISIS, and the Ukraine crisis reignites the Cold War between the United States, its NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] allies and Russia; it is imperative that nuclear-armed and non-nuclear states together work for total elimination of nuclear weapons. The risk of use of nuclear weapons, by deliberation or accident, leading to total annihilation looms large more than ever before. Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries have been at the forefront of global efforts to implement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which represents the only binding multilateral commitment to the goal of complete disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states. But the Ninth Review Conference of the NPT, from April 27 to May 22, which has three main pillars – non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy – overwhelmingly reflected the views and interests of the nuclear-armed states and some of their nuclear-dependent allies.

The novelty of being an Australian diplomat of Indian heritage in Israel

Devanand `Dave’ Sharma is the Australian Ambassador of Indian heritage to Israel. Born in Vancouver, Canada, Dave, as he is popularly called, moved with his parents and twin elder sisters to Sydney just before his fourth birthday. His paternal grandfather had moved to Trinidad (West Indies) in 1908 from Pali village in Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh. His father, youngest of nine siblings, was born in Trinidad while his mother is a fourth generation Australian. His parents met as students at Kings College in London. From the UK, they moved to Canada and then to Australia. Sharma, 39, spoke on Skype to Neena Bhandari from his home in Tel Aviv about growing up in Australia, of the Indian Diaspora in Australia and of being a diplomat in a country that almost always stirs extreme reactions.

Papua New Guinea Reckons With Unmet Development Goals

As Papua New Guinea celebrates 40 years of independence, 2015 marks a defining year for the largest Pacific Island nation, set to record 15 percent GDP growth this year. However, unless the government tightens up its policies, the country will likely fail to achieve any of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) despite making significant progress in the past few years. Against this backdrop, IPS correspondent Neena Bhandari sat down with Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, to discuss the U.N.’s role in PNG’s development agenda.

Designed in Australia, Made in India

Growing up on a farm in Hunter Valley amidst corn and watermelons in country New South Wales, Julie Lantry would watch her mother, grandmother and aunt sew, knit and crochet. She would sit beside them and sew her doll’s clothes and paint her bedsheets. Her love for textiles and design was instilled at an early age. She was introduced to Ayurveda by her beautician and naturopath, who used Ayurvedic creams and herbs. She went on to graduate in fashion design from the Sydney Institute of Technology, which boasts leading fashion designers such as Akira Isogawa, Nicole Zimmermann and Lisa Ho as its alumni. She worked with small and medium designers, picking up the ropes of evolving a product from the drawing board to the retail shelves. 

Indian-born Pancreatic researcher is 2015 NSW Woman of the Year

Pune-born, Sydney-based internationally-renowned pancreatic cancer researcher, Professor Minoti Apte is conducting pre-clinical studies with the aim to create a new combination therapy that will stop cancer cells working with normal cells. This will help improve treatment outcomes for pancreatic cancer patients, who currently have a five year survival rate of just six percent. Professor Apte was awarded one of Australia’s highest honours, the Order of Australia Medal [OAM], last year for her service to medical research, tertiary education and the Diaspora and this year she has added another prestigious award to her bouquet of accolades – the Premier’s 2015 New South Wales Woman of the Year. 

Plateful of Memories

The apple weighs heavy in my bag as my eyes fall on the billboard displaying strict quarantine restrictions at Adelaide Airport - `Fruits, Vegetables and Plants prohibited in South Australia. Fines apply’. I promptly retrieve the ripened fruit and discard it in the designated food bin in the arrivals hall. The state prides itself for its clean, green, fresh produce, zealously protecting its farms, orchards and vineyards against fruit flies and pests. This has encouraged a continual evolution of artisan producers from seafood and grain-fed meats to cheese and chocolates. 

It was never in Jamsetji Tata's ken

© Neena Bhandari, Business Standard, India

ImageThe Tata Group of companies has made big forays into Australia, investing and expanding in various sectors from mining to information technology. Historically too, remote though it may now be, Tata Steel has a connection to the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, which contains 50,000 tonnes of steel. Close to 80 per cent of the steel used in the bridge, spanning 1,650 ft (503 metre), was made by Teesside Company Dorman Long, which became part of British Steel Corporation after World War II. In 1999, British Steel merged with a Dutch company, Hoogovens, to become Corus. In 2007, Corus was bought by Tata Steel.

Tata Steel has had an office in Brisbane since 2000. The original name was Tata International, since deregistered. The principal business activity has been procurement of steel-making raw material in Australasia, predominantly metallurgical coal, for the steel operations in Jamshedpur. “These volumes have continued to grow and are now in the millions of tonnes. Additionally, Tata Steel Resources was tasked with identifying investment opportunities in metallurgical coal mines and made its first overseas coal mine investment in Carborough Downs, central Queensland, in 2005 with a five per cent equity stake. We are now actively identifying new investment opportunities to the increasing metallurgical requirements for the steel mill expansions in India for the next 10 years and beyond,” Bryan Granzien, chief executive officer, Tata Steel Resources Australia Pvt Ltd, said.

Sydney breaks bread with Sangrur - the wheat link

© Neena Bhandari, Business Standard, India

ImageWheat collaboration between Australia and India is likely to be extended, after experiments combining strengths in each other’s varieties show rising promise.

India and Australia are collaborating on research to enhance the volume and quality of grown wheat. The five-year bilateral programme on marker-assisted wheat breeding concludes in May 2012 but is set to be extended.

It has been exploring molecular technologies, management practices and more heat-tolerant cultivars, to face the challenges of climate change. India and Australia are particularly vulnerable to increasing temperatures, warns a leading Australian wheat scientist.

"In Australia, wheat is rain-fed and will be adversely affected by the combined impact of higher temperatures and drought. In India, increasing temperature linked with lowering water tables would mean farmers will be unable to irrigate with the current frequency. This will result in difficult production conditions and reduction in total yield,” says Richard Trethowan, director, A Watson Grains Research Centre, University of Sydney. India is the second largest producer of wheat and Australia seventh in the world. India produces all its consumption; Australia is the second largest global exporter of wheat and, so, a major contributor to global food security.

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