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‘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.

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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