UNIC New Delhi organizes media launch of UNCTAD’s Report 2014

24 June 2014

Launch of the Report

The UN Information Centre (UNIC) New Delhi organized the media launch of the World Investment Report (WIR) 2014 published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on 24 June at UN House, New Delhi. The focus of the 2014 Report is on ‘Investing in Sustainable Development Goals’.

The Chief Guest for the event was Dr. Arvind Mayaram, Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. 

UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman welcomed the audience and spoke about the importance of the data presented by the World Investment Report (WIR). “The special theme section in this year’s WIR is on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). WIR 2014 notes that SDGs will have very significant resource implications across the developed and developing world. Global investment needs are in the order of $5 trillion to $7 trillion per year,” Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman observed.

The Report was analyzed and presented by policy analyst, Premila Nazareth Satyanand. She focused on the highlights – steady growth in international production by transnational corporations (TNCs), increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to all regions, developing countries as the main recipients of FDI, a growth in the share of retained and reinvested earnings and the need for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to bridge a large investment gap. 

Mr. Mayaram commended the comprehensiveness and detailed nature of the Report. “What I wish to see in detail and what interests me is the marriage between the profitability of the private sector and the need for investment in non-commercial areas mentioned in the report,” he said. He also spoke about the need to find ways to attract FDI in India.

This was followed by a question-answer session moderated by Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman.

Sustainable energy: A brighter alternative

20 June 2014

Participants at the event

To mark World Environment Day, observed annually on 5 June, the United Nations Information Centre for India and Bhutan (UNIC) collaborated with the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in an all-day event on 20 June titled ‘Solar Energy – Our Sun, The Bright Alternative’ at Select City Walk Mall, Saket. The event was aimed at increasing public awareness about World Environment Day, solar energy and sustainable development through a day of fun filled activities. 

The event was managed with great enthusiasm by young volunteers –students from engineering schools and other institutions across Delhi – who eagerly sought out mall visitors, handed out information material, and urged them to take an ‘Environment Quiz’. Over 1000 people including children, young adults and elders participated in the contest that tested their knowledge on issues such as greenhouse gases, clean water and sustainable development. The winners received prizes from the sponsors, including ‘sustainable energy torches’ provided by UNIC. Visitors were invited to contribute their own ideas on solar energy and how to popularize the usage of solar appliances. 

This was followed by a drawing and painting competition for children on environmental themes. More than 100 children participated in the contest, coming up with some innovative paintings and sketches depicting the planet, conservation of energy, ‘Mother Earth’ and afforestation. 

One of the art pieces

UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman and IEEE Chairperson Ravindra Joshi gave away prizes and certificates to the top three winners. 

“We have to do much more to ensure that Mother Earth is entirely happy,” said Pragati Garg, one of the young contestants when asked why she sketched an Earth that was happy and sad at the same time. 

“If everyone thought like you do, many of our environmental problems could be solved!” said Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman to Pragati, even as she encouraged all the young winners and volunteers to persist in their efforts to protect the environment. 

She also congratulated Soshan Ramung, the 10-year old winner of the drawing competition. “If more people of your age become aware of global warming, it would go a long way in ensuring that we can continue to call Earth a planet,” Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman said. She also thanked Mr. Joshi of IEEE and commended the volunteers for their support and unrelenting commitment to the cause. “Your work is a source of inspiration to countless young people out there,” she said.

Let us read - in print and online

19 June 2014

Audience

Hundreds of school children in their distinctive uniforms thronged the famous Kanakakkunnu Palace in Trivandrum on 19 June for an event to honour the memory of the late P.N. Panicker, father of the Kerala Library Movement who championed the cause of literacy and reading. A number of eminent persons also attended the commemoration, part of a series of activities at schools and public institutions organized by the Government of Kerala.

19 June is observed annually as Vayanadinam (Day of Reading) in Kerala. The National Literacy Mission has also been inspired largely by the work of P.N. Panicker who converted the simple slogan of “Read and Grow – Vayichu Valaruka” into a powerful movement.

Addressing the audience, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that although the state Legislative Assembly was in session, he had taken time out to inaugurate the event in order to applaud the efforts of the P.N. Panicker Foundation in furthering promoting reading and literacy activities. “P.N. Panicker only talked on one subject, and that was reading. He was passionate about this movement,” Mr. Chandy said.

“Every year, the UN pays tribute to books and authors on 23 April, which is World Book and Copyright Day”, said UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman. “The aim is to encourage everyone, and in particular, young people, to discover the pleasure of reading,” she added. Today, although the internet and social media have made access to the written word easier and faster, millions of people still rely on printed material because there is a development gap and a digital divide which libraries need to negotiate, she observed. “Technology is not an end in itself,” she said, quoting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The key is to empower people to make the most of their own potential.” 

Participants

And Kerala seemed to be on the right path, Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman added, especially in view of its upcoming E-Literate project which seeks to bring basic technology knowhow to remote areas, using the broadband connectivity already established.

She thanked the organizers for inviting UNIC to be part of these activities and suggested opening a Reading Room with UN documentation and publications as has been done in other parts of India. This suggestion was welcomed enthusiastically, as were others, such as taking UNIC’s upcoming ‘YoUNg@70’ project to Kerala during the UN’s 70th year. 

P.K. Abdu Rabb, state Minister for Education, said that all schools had been instructed to conduct reading activities for 10 minutes each day during the Reading Week. Chairman of the P.N. Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra, N. Balagopal, said that the organization and the Ministry of Education were discussing whether and how grace marks could be awarded to school children who were prolific readers.

Prof. P.J. Kurien, Vice Chairman, Rajya Sabha, pointed to P.N. Panicker’s contribution to Kerala’s achievement of 100 per cent literacy. Other speakers included M. Vijayakumar, former minister, and Mini Antony, Director, Information and Public Relations, Government of Kerala, who read out a pledge on cultivating a reading habit. 

Some of the students also shared their reading experiences and read out excerpts from a variety of books, a fitting finale to the commemoration.

Dreams and aspirations becoming reality

19 June 2014

Participants at the event

“I am a nurse, but after I had my baby I couldn’t go to work,” said Seenya, one of the dozens of women who came from villages around Trivandrum, Kerala, to take part in skills development workshops run by the P.N. Panicker Foundation. “The Foundation taught me how to make paper jewellery and I have been able to earn enough to supplement my husband’s income”. Seenya works in partnership with a friend who left her Information Technology job to work from home. 

Other women are making jewellery, arts and crafts, and are also being trained to effectively market their goods. Lalita said “Middlemen would exploit us, not even paying us the cost price of our goods,” said Lalita. Now, by getting together in groups and cooperatives, the women will be able to sell directly to retailers.

Participants at the event

Addressing these intrepid women, UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman said the United Nations placed great emphasis on the empowerment of women. “One of the first things you can do is upgrade your skills and use your talents to set up micro-enterprises,” she said. “You can then actually become employers.” 

Vice Chairman of the P.N. Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra (Government of Kerala) N. Balagopal concurred, and described the various schemes set up by the Government of Kerala which the women could use to get loans or even get additional training in fields such as motor mechanics, computer operating and repairs, and electrical work, traditionally thought to be “men’s jobs”. 

Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman also suggested that in a state such as Kerala where literacy levels were high and E-Literacy was going to be launched as a state project, it might also be possible to start a business online. This would involve training in design and e-marketing, but would eliminate middlemen. However, she added, it was very important to ensure quality control so that the customers could build a relationship of trust, which would mean more and larger orders and increased income. 

“Dream big!” she urged the budding entrepreneurs, as she complimented them on the samples of their work.

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