UNIC marks World AIDS Day with street theatre and live performances

01 December 2014

“Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS Free Generation”, was the theme at which UNIC New Delhi collaborated with Alliance Française de Delhi to observe World AIDS Day, in order to raise awareness and invite public dialogue on the topic, a series of engaging activities were held on the day.

The event began with painters and artists creating live works. The artists themes touched upon various topics including, the stigma surrounding living with AIDS, pre-natal transmission of the virus and coming to terms with the disease. The artists used a variety of mixed media to communicate the powerful message of “closing the gap” on AIDS awareness. Each piece provided a strong visual lens to understand and empathize with persons living with AIDS.

Amongst the memorable acts of the evening was a live performance ‘Embrace’ by artist Manmeet Devgan who used organic materials including her own hair to create her piece.   

That which surfaces could or not be healed,

let us embrace the sighs let out...

Explaining her piece, she said, “Multani mitti (Fullers Earth) is generally used as healing clay for skin. By cutting my hair and using the strands for writing the above-mentioned lines, I become a part of the work. The invisibility of the text portrays the hurt, pain, scars one fails to see, for it is buried deep inside. This is a gesture in solidarity for AIDS victims, for the invisible scars buried inside, suffering silently in dejection and isolation”. 

A street play by the troupe Be Artsy threw focus on the differences and similarities of HIV/AIDS and the importance of treating the issue and those suffering from the disease with sensitivity. The troupe of young theatre artists from Delhi, reiterated the importance of involving the youth to address the issue of stigma and discrimination of those living with AIDS. 

UNIC set up a stall with various materials on HIV/AIDS for public dissemination. Visitors to the stall were briefed on the proceedings of the day and wore the traditional red ribbon in support of the cause. Three films by Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) on HIV/AIDS were also screened in the auditorium to mark the occasion. 

The eventful evening was brought to an end with a closing ceremony. The guests included Jean Philippe Bottin, Director, Alliance Française de Delhi, Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, Director, UN Information Centre for India and Bhutan and Oussama Tawil, UNAIDS Country Coordinator. Mr. Bottin welcomed the audience to the evening’s proceedings, which were facilitated by Rajiv Chandran, National Information Officer at UNIC. The artists each presented their pieces to the audience with a short description of their works. Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman delivered the Secretary-General’s message on World AIDS Day. “Almost 14 million people worldwide are now accessing HIV treatment. We have reduced new HIV infections by 38 per cent since 2001. We have prevented 1.16 million infections among newborn babies by providing essential antiretroviral medicines. We are on track to provide antiretroviral therapy to 15 million people by 2015”, she said. Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Tawil briefed the audience on the efforts of UNAIDS in eradicating this global epidemic. “By 2030, we aim to eliminate mother to child transmission completely and are actively working towards this goal”, he added. Mother to child transmission is the third most common means of spreading the virus, after unsafe sexual intercourse and sharing needles and syringes. 

The audience included students, working professionals, NGO representatives and media persons who came together in support of this cause.

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UNIC-MAAC Awards: Lights, cameras, animation!

28 November 2014
At the event

UNIC New Delhi's collaboration with the 24FPS Awards organized by the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC), now in its fourth year, has always resulted in quirky, colourful films that help drive the message home, and this year was no different.

At the annual awards ceremony in Mumbai, where she gave away the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for the best films on the UN theme ‘My World 2015’, UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman said the only difference this year was “the decibel level in the auditorium”, up by several notches as hundreds of participants cheered for the winners in this increasingly popular competition.

My World is a global survey for citizens led by the United Nations and partners to share their views on the post-2015 agenda with global leaders. “We felt that harnessing the creative energy of young people like you would be an excellent way of giving effect to these voices,” Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman told the more than 1,000 young animation students and experts from the animation film industry. “And that is why ‘My World 2015’ was chosen as the theme for MAAC students to work with, and express their own thoughts and feelings on the topic through the medium of film”.

In a special video message, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said he was pleased to learn about MAAC’s collaboration with UNIC which served to highlight issues of global importance with an eye to the ‘Future We Want’. It was a wonderful way to get young people in India to explore themes related to social justice and empowerment, he observed.

Ninad Karpe, CEO, Aptech, Ram Warrier, Business Head, MAAC, and Sanjiv Waerkar, Chief Creative Officer, thanked the United Nations for the collaboration, adding that MAAC was delighted to be able to to spotlight major global issues such as environmental conservation, HIV/AIDS, education for women and more. Under Project YoUNg@70, UNIC’s year-long campaign to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN, MAAC announced the first ever UNIC-24FPS International Animation Award 2014. MAAC students worked with various themes of My World 2015 as part of this campaign, using their talent to draw attention to critical global issues.

“We have an eminent jury which includes Shelley Page, head of International Outreach at Dreamworks, Jeff Markel, VFX Head, Rolling Dice Studio, R. Mani, General Secretary, Federation of Film Societies of India, Sanjot Sonalkar, Associate Vice President, Reliance Media Works, and many more,” said Mr. Warrier. “An award from this Academy on a student’s CV almost guarantees him or her a job in this industry”. He pointed out that the winning film in the main category had taken eight 8 months to make.

Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman also asked the participants and winners to be the UN’s partners in achieving global development goals. “The UN is ‘young’ at 70, we believe, because it still has a long journey ahead – and a lot of energy too! – as it attempts to fulfill and strengthen its key goals,” she said. “You, as young people, are partners in this process, and I do hope that participating in this competition and coming up with great ideas for a world beyond 2015 will only be the first step in your exploration of the world and its challenges”. 

As the cheers rose to a crescendo, Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman said she hoped that the students would continue to use their skills and talents not only to fulfill their personal goals but also to help the United Nations spread its messages of peace, sustainable development and a world that guarantees human rights, justice and dignity for all.

UNIC hopes to work with MAAC during the 70th anniversary year to use animation as a medium for outreach and spread the messages of the UN to ever wider audiences.

Celebrating harmony and tolerance

15 November 2014

The Sant Nirankari Mission Festival was just the place for a celebration of the International Day of Tolerance, a day that serves to remind us of the need to respect and appreciate the vast diversity of the world’s cultures and forms of expression.

Over half a million people attended the observance at the Mission, known as the Universal Brotherhood Mission, an all-embracing spiritual movement dedicated to human welfare. The Mission has over 100 branches outside India, including in the United Kingdom and North America. Its world headquarters is located in Sant Nirankari Colony, New Delhi, and its leader, Baba Hardev Singh, provides spiritual guidance to Nirankari devotees.

UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, along with Padmashri S.P. Varma, Chairperson of the Gandhi Global Family (GGF), attended the Sant Nirankari Samagam, a three-day festival of harmony and one-ness, where they handed over the Mahatma Gandhi Award, presented to GGF to the Sant Nirankari Mission for its exemplary social and humanitarian work. 

The Gandhi Global Family is a renowned NGO working for the betterment of humanity according to the principles of Mahatma Gandhi. 

The wide range of socio-spiritual activities carried out by the Mission led to the grant of special Consultative Status to it by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Mission has been working proactively towards assisting in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Delegates have participated in several UN summits and conferences on a number of issues. The Mission also celebrates international days and observances and undertakes a range of philanthropic activities, including blood donation drives – over one million blood units have been collected over the past two decades.

The Director of UNIC New Delhi quoted from the message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the International Day of Tolerance: “I call on all people and governments to actively combat fear, hatred and extremism with dialogue, understanding and mutual respect. Let us advance against the forces of division and unite for our shared future”. She also quoted Mahatma Gandhi who had said that tolerance does not mean indifference towards one’s own faith, but a more intelligent and pure love for it.

She lauded the Mission for their massive outreach effort, for talking about things “that are so important in India and in the world today”. 

“Talking about peace, about service, about harmony in one-ness – this is what we all need to remove intolerance from the world once and for all,” she added. In addition to the half a million people present at the observance, a larger audience watched the live webcast of the event, coming together in a sincere and joyous commemoration of the three pillars of the UN – peace, sustainable development and human rights.

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Spotlight on YoUNg@70 with sustainable torches

08 November 2014

At a small but lively event at UN House, and in the presence of social activist and former Indian Police Service officer Dr. Kiran Bedi, the UN Information Centre (UNIC) New Delhi ushered in the 70th anniversary year of the United Nations, unveiling a colourful and dynamic  ‘young@70’ logo, reflecting the energetic work the UN does around the world every day.

Hosted by UNIC and supported by the Indian Federation of UN Associations (IFUNA) and Spacelabs Healthcare, the event also focussed on women's security, discussed eloquently by Dr. Bedi, Mohinder Chopra, Chairman and Director of OSI Systems, Suresh Srivastava, Secretary General, IFUNA, Patricia Barandun, Deputy Representative, UN Women and Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, UNIC Director. Several UNIC partners and members of the UN family attended the launch, along with activists and members of the media.

Dr. Kiran Bedi, in her address, suggested the adoption of a holistic approach towards women’s security, in which all stakeholders must collaborate. Women's victimization can be reduced by involving and activating six Ps, she suggested — people, politicians, policing, prosecution, prisons and the press. “All six must work together. Neglecting any one of them will break the chain.” 

Dr. Bedi suggested that a policy for women’s security must take the form of a hub involving departments such as law, police, prison, media and civic society, with a nodal office overseeing the coordination. “Let us also make sure that data on women’s security is made available to students and researchers,” she said.

She urged the United Nations to also consider the Six Ps concept as a framework for advocacy on women’s security and the protection of women’s rights. 

UNIC also launched a dynamo torch which can be recharged manually, and which would prove useful to women and girls navigating unlit or remote areas. Several packs of torches were presented to six prominent women activists who would then distribute them through their organisations. They included Ranjana Kumari from the Centre for Social Research, Aparna Yadav from the NGO Harsh, Veena Nayyar from Women's Political Watch, Krishna Menon, Associate Professor, Lady Shri Ram College, Rakhee Bakshi, Director, Women's Feature Service, and R.K. Sujata from the Control Arms Foundation of India. 

The evening ended with a scintillating cultural performance by Sharanya Chandran and Amruta Radhakrishnan from the Natya Vriksha Dance Company.