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The future Pacific Island children want

© Neena Bhandari, Inter Press Service

For 13-year-old Karen Semens, growing up on Pohnpei -- one of the four main island states in the Federated States of Micronesia, which comprises of more than 600 islands in the western Pacific Ocean -- the main challenge is being a girl. “In our culture, girls don’t have the same rights and opportunities nor do they get credit and recognition for their achievements as boys do. This prevents us from speaking our minds. For example in family meetings, only men make the decisions. I would like all girls to be treated as equals and have a say in decision making,” the 8th grade pupil from the Ohmine Public Elementary school in Pohnpei, tells IPS.

Bushfires Hasten the Death Knell of many Australian Native Animals and Plants

© Neena Bhandari, Inter Press Service

The chatter of cockatoos and lorikeets has given way to an eerie silence in smoke enveloped charred landscapes across south-eastern Australia. The unrelenting bushfires have driven many native animal and plant species to the brink of extinction and made several fauna more vulnerable with vast swathes of their habitat incinerated. As many as 13 native animal and bird species may become locally extinct following the devastating bushfires, according to an initial analysis by national environment organisations, including the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Australia.

Australia’s Bushfires Bring Mounting Pressure to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

© Neena Bhandari, Inter Press Service

As nature’s fury wreaked havoc across Australia, reducing to ashes all that came in its way – people, flora, fauna, picturesque historic towns and villages once popular with local and overseas tourists – it was unlike anything the country had witnessed before. The staggering scale and intensity of the devastation could best be summed up as apocalyptic. Bushfires, not uncommon in Australia’s vast woodland, scrub or grassland areas, started early in September with summer still few months away (December – February), igniting a fresh debate on the country’s woeful record on climate change. 2019 was the country’s driest and hottest year on record with the temperature reaching 1.52 °C above the long-term average.

New way to stop falciparum malaria transmission

© Neena Bhandari,

Australian scientists have successfully blocked the deadliest malaria parasite —- Plasmodium falciparum — in its transmission stage, paving the way for developing preventative therapies to stop the spread of the disease. Lead researcher Justin Boddey from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and University of Melbourne says, “We have built on our previous studies, where we identified in the P. falciparum parasite an enzyme called plasmepsin V, an enzyme essential for the parasite to grow inside red blood cells. We showed that if you inhibit the enzyme’s activity then you can kill the parasites as they are growing in red blood cells.” The new findings, published 18 December in Cell Reports, show that plasmepsin V is also essential in a subset of parasites called gametocytes (sexual form of the malaria parasite) that transition to infect the mosquito.

Global disasters linked to warming Indo-Pacific oceans

© Neena Bhandari,

Rapid warming of the Indo-Pacific Ocean is impacting global rainfall patterns and corresponding weather, which may be linked to East Asian floods, African droughts and frequent California fires, according to a study published in the journal Nature on 27th November. Lead author and climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune (India), Roxy Mathew Koll says, “The Indo-Pacific warm pool, a region between the eastern Indian Ocean and western Pacific Ocean, with ocean temperatures generally warmer than 28 degree Centigrade, has been warming since the 1900s. But during 1981-2018, it has expanded to double in size at the rate of about 400,000 per year or the size of Thailand or Spain”.

Australia’s ‘Quit Nukes’ Campaign Targets Superannuation Funds

© Neena Bhandari, InDepth News Analysis

A new campaign is encouraging Australians to urge their superannuation funds to exclude nuclear weapons producers from their investments, consistent with the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which has been ratified by 33 states and needs another 17 ratifications to become enforceable under international law – 90 days after the fiftieth instrument of ratification. A joint initiative of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) and International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Quit Nukes campaign is an Australian project that works in collaboration with Pax, the producers of the annual ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ report, which documents the global financing of nuclear weapons.

The invisible people

© Neena Bhandari, The Week

Australia is a sought-after destination for Indian students, travellers and skilled migrants from India, but it is a little-known fact that Indians also come here to seek asylum. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), population statistics based on data received from the Australian government, 51 asylum seekers from India in Australia were found to be refugees in 2018. Many of them are waiting to be resettled; others have been waiting for their asylum claims to be processed, some for six years or more, in Australia’s offshore immigration facilities in the Pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru.

What does the future hold for Australia’s biggest urban park?

© Neena Bhandari, Foreground Magazine

Greater Western Sydney has one of the fastest growing populations in Australia. Currently home to 1.9 million people, the region’s population is projected to reach three million by 2036. This population growth and related development poses potential challenges to the preservation of what is the largest urban parkland in Australia, the Western Sydney Parklands (WSP). The 5280-hectare Western Sydney Parklands area stretches 27 kilometres from Quakers Hill to Leppington, running through the local government areas of Blacktown, Fairfield and Liverpool. It is 25 times the size of Centennial Park in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and similar in scale to the Lee Valley Park in London (United Kingdom) and Rouge National Urban Park in Toronto (Canada).

 We South Asians are made up of hundreds of identities and we must fight to protect all of them: Fatima Bhutto

 © Neena Bhandari, Press Trust of India 

Acclaimed Pakistani author Fatima Bhutto, who believes the way to combat fundamentalists is to celebrate the co-existence of more than one culture, says South Asians are made up of hundreds of identities and we must fight to protect all of them. The 36-year-old granddaughter of the late Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto delivered the closing address at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on May 5. She speaks to Neena Bhandari/PTI about her latest book "The Runaways", what drives young people to become radicals, how the violence and turbulence in Pakistan during her growing up years taught her to be brave and why western countries must take responsibility for their citizens who have been convicted.

ऑस्ट्रेलिया में एशियाई मूल के छात्रों के साथ क्यों होता है यौन शोषण?

© Neena Bhandari, BBC Hindi

रिया सिंह (बदला हुआ नाम) रोज़ाना की तरह सिडनी सेंट्रल स्टेशन से अपनी यूनिवर्सिटी जा रहीं थीं. जैसे ही वो पहले से भरी हुई यूनिवर्सिटी बस में चढ़ीं एक पुरुष कर्मचारी ने उन्हें धक्का देना और सहलाना शुरू कर दिया. "बीस मिनट की यात्रा के दौरान ये सब चलता रहा. मुझे बहुत बुरा लगा लेकिन मैं डरी हुई थी. मुझे पता नहीं था कि क्या करूं, किसके पास जाऊं. मैंने इस बारे में किसी को नहीं बताया क्योंकि मैं नहीं चाहती थी कि मेरे अभिभावकों को कुछ पता चले, वो शायद समझते भी नहीं. ये ऐसी बात भी नहीं थी कि मैं अपने छोटे भाई से साझा कर सकूं. मैंने अपनी सबसे क़रीबी दोस्त से इस बारे में बात की, वो भी नहीं समझ पाई कि क्या किया जाए." 2017 में ऑस्ट्रेलियन यूनिवर्सटी में यौन हमलों और यौन उत्पीड़न पर ऑस्ट्रेलियाई मानवाधिकार आयोग ने एक राष्ट्रीय रिपोर्ट प्रकाशित की थी. इस रिपोर्ट का नाम था- चेंज कोर्स. ये घटना इस रिपोर्ट के आने से कुछ दिन पहले की ही है.

BBC Hindi -
BBC Marathi -
BBC Punjabi -

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English Translation:

Managing diabetes key to lowering kidney disease

© Neena Bhandari,

Growing incidences of diabetes and obesity are increasing the burden of kidney disease in the Asia Pacific region, noted the International Society of Nephrology’s (ISN) Report on Global Kidney Health Atlas launched at the World Congress of Nephrology (April 12 to 15) in Melbourne, Australia. The report highlighted the urgent need for appropriate diabetes management practices to reduce the burden of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD)— also referred to as end-stage renal disease—the last stage of long-term chronic kidney disease. Between 2001 and 2014, ESKD incidences increased by over 1,000 per cent in Thailand, 190 per cent in the Philippines and 162 per cent in Malaysia, with diabetes being the cause in majority of the cases. Globally, 160 million patients with Type 2 diabetes are at risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Modern awards – a fresh look at the industrial labyrinth

 © Neena Bhandari, AHRI HRM Magazine

Australia’s awards system can be something of a dangerous labyrinth. You can be unaware for years that your organisation has embedded an error – a misinterpretation of an award – into your payroll management system. When it’s finally uncovered, it can take a long time and a lot of money to correct your missteps. This happens even to larger companies. In July 2018 cosmetics giant Lush committed to giving $2 million to current and former Australian workers after it found it had underpaid 5000 of them over an eight-year period. To accomplish this, it promised to upgrade its payroll system (for an estimated $1.5 million) and re-enter approximately 200,000 handwritten paper timesheets.

New dengue vaccine effective in clinical trials

© Neena Bhandari,

An experimental dengue vaccine has proved 80.2 per cent effective against virologically-confirmed dengue among children and teens aged 4—16 years in the 12 months after a second dose, according to results of phase 3 clinical trials. “A vaccine with this kind of efficacy could have a substantial impact on public health,” says Derek Wallace, contributor to the trial results, published 6 November in The New England Journal of Medicine. According to the WHO, dengue is one of the top 10 threats to global health, infecting nearly 400 million people and killing up to 25,000 people worldwide annually. There is no specific treatment for the mosquito-borne viral disease, which causes flu-like symptoms, joint and muscle pain and, in severe cases, leads to haemorrhagic fever and death. It is now endemic in more than 100 countries, with Asia shouldering 70 per cent of the disease burden.

अडानी भारत में नहीं लेकिन ऑस्ट्रेलिया में चुनावी मुद्दा ज़रूर है

 © Neena Bhandari, BBC Hindi

भारतीय अरबपति बिज़नेसमैन गौतम अडानी का उत्तरी क्वींसलैंड का कारामाइकल कोलमाइन प्रोजेक्ट, 18 मई को होने वाले ऑस्ट्रेलियाई चुनाव में एक अहम मुद्दा बन गया है. इस प्रोजेक्ट के चलते आर्थिक, पर्यावरण, कोयला और जलवायु परिवर्तन के मुद्दे पर मतदाता और राजनीतिक दल बंटे हुए नज़र रहे हैं. सात संभावित निर्दलीय उम्मीदवारों ने एक अहम समझौते पर हस्ताक्षर किया है. ऑस्ट्रेलियन कंज़र्वेशन फ़ाउंडेशन (एसीएफ) के संयोजन में इन सदस्यों ने संसद सदस्य के तौर पर चुने जाने पर जलवायु परिवर्तन को ध्यान में रखते हुए कई क़दम उठाने का वादा किया है. इसमें अडानी के थर्मल कोलमाइन प्रोजेक्ट का विरोध भी शामिल है. मौजूदा समय में शासन कर रही कंर्जे़वेटिव लिबरल-नेशनल पार्टियों का गठबंधन चुनाव में पिछड़ रहा है. यह मुख्य तौर पर कोयला खनन और निर्यात का समर्थक रहा है.

BBC Hindi -
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BBC Marathi -
English Translation:

Chlorine dispensers fitted to public taps cut child diarrhoea

© Neena Bhandari,

A low-cost device that infuses small amounts of chlorine into water drawn from public taps can reduce  child diarrhoea by 23 per cent, according to a study conducted in Bangladesh. Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years of age and is responsible for killing some 525,000 children every year, according to the WHO, while UNICEF says nearly 60 per cent of deaths due to diarrhoea worldwide are attributable to unsafe drinking water and poor hygiene and sanitation.

Australia Urged to Sign & Ratify the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

© Neena Bhandari, Indepth News Analysis (IDN)

SYDNEY: Australia must sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), says a new report released here by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Australian-founded initiative which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. The report comes amidst growing international tension with important agreements, including the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – widely known as the Iran nuclear deal – and the 1988 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia, being undermined.

ImageOn a foot and a prayer…

© Neena Bhandari, Sunday Midday

A cancelled flight, a lost suitcase, a stolen wallet are exigencies we may plan for while travelling, but I had never considered the possibility of an unexpected injury, until it happened during one of my annual sojourns in India. It revealed the dichotomy between the avant-garde and primitive modes of transport and healthcare facilities that exist in the country. From riding on a vegetable cart to being carried in a no-frills palanquin-like wooden chair for an x-ray, I used myriad modes of transport from Sunderban in the east to Jaipur in the west, following a foot injury. I snapped the critical weight-bearing bone (the talus) in the foot while alighting from a small, rocking wooden boat on to the hard, concrete surface of a jetty. A torrent of excruciating pain overwhelmed my senses.


How to train bystanders and reduce workplace harassment

© Neena Bhandari, AHRI HRM Magazine

Reforming bullies is very difficult, but training witnesses to intervene is an effective alternative. Despite studies showing that bystander training is one of the most effective ways to reduce harassment and bullying in a workplace, it’s still rare. Dr David Rock, director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, has worked with several organisations to develop their strategies. He explains his philosophy through an expansion of a popular phrase. “If you see something, you have a responsibility to say something, and you have an even bigger responsibility to say it in a way that’s helpful for the victim and perpetrator. The central challenge is to help bystanders feel more comfortable speaking up and a perpetrator less threatened when they’re called out,” Rock says.


Rural-urban divide in deaths from extreme weather

© Neena Bhandari,

People in rural areas are at greater risk of dying from extreme hot and cold temperatures than those living in urban areas, says a new study conducted in China’s eastern Zhejiang province. The study warns that if the urban-rural gaps in education, income, and access to health services are not addressed, the province will lag in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to health.

स्वामी आर्मी: ऑस्ट्रेलिया में भारतीय क्रिकेट टीम के दीवाने

 © Neena Bhandari, BBC Hindi

 ऑस्ट्रेलिया का दौरा कर रही भारतीय टीम वहां शानदार प्रदर्शन कर रही है और टेस्ट सिरीज़ जीत चुकी है. कल से दोनों टीमों के बीच वनडे सिरीज़ शुरू हो रही है. ऐसे में वहां कई भारतीय प्रशंसकों ने स्वामी आर्मी बनाई है जो परंपरागत भारतीय अंदाज़ में ढोल और नगाड़ों के साथ टीम की हौसला अफ़ज़ाई करती है. देखिए ऑस्ट्रेलिया से बीबीसी हिंदी के लिए नीना भंडारी की रिपोर्ट.

India v/s Australia: सिडनी का ग्राउंड गुलाबी क्यों हो गया था?

  © Neena Bhandari, BBC Hindi

भारत और ऑस्ट्रेलिया के बीच खेले जा रहे पिंक टेस्ट मैच के तीसरे दिन सिडनी का हरा-भरा ग्राउंड गुलाबी हो गया. स्तन कैंसर के प्रति जागरुकता फैलाने के लिए यहां क्रिकेट और संस्कृति का अनोखा संगम देखने को मिला. मीडिया रिपोर्ट्स के मुताबिक ग्राउंड पर गुलाबी साड़ी पहने कम-से-कम सौ महिलाएं मौजूद थीं, जो ब्रेस्ट स्क्रीनिंग और केयर के प्रति जागरुकता फैलाने के लिए आईं थीं. ना सिर्फ औरतों बल्कि मर्दों ने भी गुलाबी पगड़ी, कमीज़ और टोपी पहनकर इस अभियान का समर्थन किया.

 Wild Water Adventure

 © Neena Bhandari, Khaleej Times

Three cubs frolicking around a tigress sprawled under the shade of a Sal (Shorea robusta) tree is one of the many enduring images I have of tigers in the wild. Encounters with big cats are not uncommon in India's 50 tiger reserves, but in the mangrove forests of the Sunderbans, this shy predator remains elusive.

Healthcare eludes poorer women in rural Asia Pacific

© Neena Bhandari,

Rural women in low-income households cannot access healthcare services due to distance and financial reasons. However, overall, healthcare access has improved in 27 countries of the Asia Pacific region over the past decade, says a new joint report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Health at a Glance Asia-Pacific 2018 notes that in Nepal and the Solomon Islands, about three in four women with the lowest household income reported difficulties in accessing healthcare due to financial reasons; two in three reported having unmet care needs due to distance.

Conference Calls for Mainstreaming Human Rights Education

© Neena Bhandari, InDepth News Analysis

More investment is needed in human rights education and strengthening of civil society to address inequality and sustainability – the main objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This was the key message from the Ninth International Conference on Human Rights Education (ICHRE) held in Sydney, Australia. Drawing inspiration from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which marks its 70th Anniversary this year, the ICHRE 2018 (November 26-29) recommended all stakeholders to mainstream human rights education as a tool for social cohesion towards peaceful coexistence; and strive to bridge the significant gap between integrating human rights education in the curricula and its implementation.

Shikhar Dhawan's exclusive interview with BBC Hindi

© Neena Bhandari, BBC Hindi

शिखर धवन जब कभी स्टेडियम में उतरते हैं, तो उनके कुछ शुरुआती शॉट देखकर समझ जाता है कि वो कितनी गेंद तक टिक पाएंगे. या तो वो सस्ते में आउट होकर चले जाते हैं, या फिर गेंदबाज़ों की शामत बन जाते हैं. दुनिया का कोई बल्लेबाज़ हो, कितना भी बड़ा मैच हो, अगर शिखर रंग में हैं तो गेंदबाज़ों की शामत तय हैं. दुनिया में कम ही बल्लेबाज़ हैं जो उनके जैसी पावर बैटिंग कर सकते हैं. बीबीसी हिन्दी से ख़ास बातचीत में शिखर ने बताया कि उनका नाम गब्बर कैसे पड़ा, उन्हें किस तरह की गेंदों का सामना करने में मज़ा आता है, रोहित शर्मा के साथ उनकी साझेदारी कैसी है.

How Australia Sustainably Manages the World’s Last Wild Commercial Fishery of Pearl Oysters

© Neena Bhandari, Inter Press Service

Australia’s remote north-western Kimberley coast, where the Great Sandy Desert meets the sapphire waters of the Indian Ocean, is home to the giant Pinctada maxima or silver-lipped pearl oyster shells that produce the finest and highly-prized Australian South Sea Pearls. Australia is the only country in the world that uses wild oyster stocks. To ensure its sustainability, the pearling industry operates on a government-regulated quota system that sets a maximum number of wild stock pearl oysters that can be caught each year from the Eighty Mile Beach, south of Broome in the state of Western Australia. These wild pearl oyster beds represent the last wild commercial fishery for Pinctada maxima oysters in the world.


5 stellar tips from HR award finalists

© Neena Bhandari, AHRI HRM Magazine

Successful HR looks different in each industry and organisation. But as these award finalists prove, there are ideas that can work across the profession. HR leadership provides the blueprint for achieving an organisation’s goals by attracting, managing and inspiring talent. Here, five finalists of the David Ulrich HR Leader Award talk through innovative initiatives and strategies that contributed to tangible outcomes for their organisation and the wider community.

Age diversity programs: the best of the best

© Neena Bhandari, AHRI HRM Magazine

As working years now span from late teens to beyond 70 years, HR professionals are reinventing recruitment and training practices to accommodate the opportunities and challenges a multi-generational workforce brings to a business. From offering flexible working hours to combining work and study, HR is taking various measures to attract, retain and support older and younger employees. The following organisations are going above and beyond in this space – they’re all finalists for the Susan Ryan Age Diversity Award at this year’s AHRI Awards.

Rich Asia Pacific nations rank poorly on development policies

© Neena Bhandari,

The richer Asia-Pacific countries and the US do poorly on the 2018 Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 27 wealthy countries according to how well their aid, trade, environment and migration policies support low and middle-income countries in poverty alleviation, good governance and security. Published annually by the Center for Global Development (CGD), the index is based on benefits policies of some members of the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) Development Assistance Committee provide to about five billion people living in poor countries.


 ‘Women leaders must fight gender bias in the system’

© Neena Bhandari,

Women in high positions must change the system so that every girl and woman can experience equality of opportunity, says Nazhat Shameem Khan, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN in Geneva and the country’s ambassador to Switzerland. Born in Suva to migrant parents of Indian descent, she has had a stellar career as a lawyer, a judge and a diplomat. In every position she worked to remove the barriers girls and women face, be it making the office of Fiji’s director of public prosecutions more inclusive or getting the Gender Action Plan passed as chief negotiator for Fiji’s presidency of the 23rd annual Conference of Parties (COP23) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. She spoke to SciDev.Net about her sheltered childhood, her struggle to get a job despite having a law degree from Cambridge University, her experience with gender and racial bias as an Indo-Fijian woman and harassment and bullying at the workplace.

भारत से बच्चा गोद ले पाएंगे ऑस्ट्रेलिया के नागरिक?

© Neena Bhandari, BBC Hindi

ऑस्ट्रेलिया के न्यू साउथ वेल्स राज्य के विंडसर शहर में रहने वाली 33 साल की एलिज़ाबेथ ब्रूक और उनके 32 वर्षीय पति एडम ब्रूक इस बात से बेहद खुश हैं कि ऑस्ट्रेलिया ने भारत के साथ अडॉप्शन प्रोग्राम (गोद लेने का कार्यक्रम) दोबारा शुरू करने की सिफ़ारिश की है. एलिज़ाबेथ जब 14 साल की थीं तब उन्हें पॉलीसिस्टिक ओवेरियन सिंड्रोम हो गया था. इस बीमारी की वजह से एलिज़ाबेथ कभी गर्भधारण नहीं कर सकतीं. वे कहती हैं, ''इस कार्यक्रम ने हमारे लिए उम्मीद की एक नई किरण जगाई है, हम अपना परिवार शुरू करने के बारे में सोच रहे हैं.''

Aussie project to ensure AI remains rights-centred

© Neena Bhandari,

Recognising that artificial intelligence (AI) carries both risks and benefits for society, the Australian Human Rights Commission, an independent Statutory organisation, launched this month (July) a major project on the impact of technology on the right to life, privacy, security, safety and equality, which could also have implications in many developing countries keen on adapting emerging technologies. AI is already employed in designing driverless cars that reduce road traffic deaths and robots that can perform minimally invasive surgeries. AI also finds use in robotic weapons deployed in conflict situations and plays a role in decision making that impacts public health, livelihoods, social interaction and human rights

Mentoring creates an unbreakable HR bond

© Neena Bhandari, AHRI HRM Magazine

A supportive professional relationship and a shared Gallic interest have brought lasting friendship for two HR practitioners. Audrey was looking for someone to give her open and honest feedback and Sheree was eager to give back to the HR community. This combination brought the two women together in a mentor partnership that has seen both women develop and hone their skills.

UN procurements favour developing countries

© Neena Bhandari,

Nearly 59 per cent of the United Nations (UN) procurements in 2017 worth US$11 billion were from developing countries, least developed countries (LDCs) and countries with economies in transition, according to a UN official statistical report released last week (21 June). Asia remained the region with the highest procurement volume but saw a US$129 million reduction compared to 2016 — the largest decrease in absolute terms of any region. Three developing countries — India with total procurement of US$907 million, UAE with US$797 million and Kenya with US$503 million — were among the top 10 supplier countries in 2017. Combined, the three countries accounted for nearly 12 per cent of the total UN procurement for 2017. The US remains the largest supplier to the UN with US$1.7 billion largely on the back of management and services.

Call for global coalition against malaria

© Neena Bhandari,

The inaugural Malaria World Congress (2—5 July) in Melbourne has called on the global community to work unitedly to enhance political and financial support to combat the debilitating disease. “The status quo is not okay as so much suffering depends on us acting, and acting vigorously,” said Brendan Crabb, immunologist and chief executive officer of Burnet Institute, a Melbourne-based not-for-profit research and public health organisation,  while delivering the keynote closing address.

Horizontal Falls: The power and fury of the tides

© Neena Bhandari, The Indian Express

A STARLIT sky and a lone street lamp are my sole companions as I wait for the Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures (HFSA) tour bus outside my hotel in Broome. At 5am, the bus arrives, packed with travellers — some excited, others wary of boarding a small Cessna Amphibian seaplane. At the airport, young Tonnia meticulously weighs us and our bags, and assigns seats, before fastening herself into the pilot seat. It is a picture-perfect day to fly low over Broome, the Dampier Peninsula, and hundreds of islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago in Australia’s pristine north-western Kimberley region.

ICAN Expects Nuclear Ban Treaty to Enter into Force in 2019

© Neena Bhandari, InDepth News Analysis

As the world witnesses an increase in nuclear sabre-rattling in 2018, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is supporting global public movement to put pressure on governments to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. ICAN’s Treaty Coordinator Tim Wright (TW) expects the Treaty to enter into force in 2019. He commends South Korea's "great leadership" role by initiating the inter-Korean dialogue. "But true peace must be based on the total rejection of nuclear weapons by all nations, not just North Korea." The rejection by President Donald Trump of the Iran nuclear deal, he says, "undermines the non-proliferation efforts."

A tryst with nature in Broome

© Neena Bhandari, The Hindu

In Australia’s north-western coastal pearling town of Broome, the Mangrove Hotel’s garden bar is packed with visitors and there is no room near the deck overlooking Roebuck Bay. The excitement is palpable as the sky begins to turn ink blue. In anticipation, the crowd cascades into silence as the swaying branches of frangipani and palm fan the gentle autumn breeze. A silver line appears on the horizon bathed in a reddish-orange glow. A golden stairway begins to appear as the full moon makes its ascent. Immersed in the spectacle, I am almost oblivious to the photo frenzy ensuing around me. Staircase to the Moon is a natural phenomenon visible from March to November, when the rising full moon, reflecting off the exposed tidal mudflats in the bay, creates this optical illusion. Broome’s natural splendours, as much as its pearling past, are a drawcard with local and international travellers.

A nation, stumped

© Neena Bhandari, The Week

Australians are livid. Sport is paramount in their psyche. Cameron Bancroft’s brazen and premeditated attempt to tamper the ball, at the behest of captain Steve Smith and vice captain David Warner, has shocked and horrified Australians. These are people who espouse the tenets of ‘Advance Australia Fair’, which is enshrined in their national anthem sung with pride before every game. Ishaan Oak and his classmates at Glenunga International High School in Adelaide were crestfallen to see the ball-tampering news unfold. “We were surprised, angry and saddened because all of us looked up to Steve Smith as the captain of the baggy green,” said Ishaan, 13, who had started playing cricket at the age of four, with his father in their suburban backyard.

The pearls of Cygnet Bay

© Neena Bhandari, Live Mint

A four-seater Cessna lands on a pindan (red soil) airstrip near a narrow dirt road that leads to Cygnet Bay. It is tucked in at the tip of the Dampier Peninsula on Australia’s remote north-western Kimberley coast, where the Great Sandy Desert merges effortlessly with white beaches and the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. It was here, in 1946, that wheat farmer Dean Brown entered the pearling industry, collecting the world’s largest pearl oysters, Pinctada maxima, for their mother-of-pearl shells. A decade later, his sons, Lyndon and then Bruce, joined him. They began experimenting with farming pearls and established the first all-Australian owned and operated cultured pearling company, Cygnet Bay Pearls.

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