New Delhi celebrates Nelson Mandela’s life with 67 minutes of service to humanity

18 July 2014

Cleaning event

67 minutes of your time for service to humanity! That is what the United Nations Mandela Day advocates but then the question before us is how do we do this? Let us start with small steps. Let us look at our neighbourhoods: we can volunteer to raise awareness of climate change, teach an underprivileged child, help a domestic worker upgrade her skills, counter sexist and racist comments when we hear them, proactively teach our sons to respect women and make sure daughters are aware of their rights and strong enough to stand up for them.

The South African High Commissioner Mr. F.K. Morule thanked the, partners, Come, Clean India and the United Nations Information Centre on Nelson Mandela Day (18 July) for responding enthusiastically to its initiative of bringing together Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other diplomats of different countries to give 67 minutes of their time to service. With stacks of brooms and buckets awaiting us, all of them donned rubber gloves -- some people wore masks -- and trooped into Basant Lok Marketplace in New Delhi. The Army of volunteers and diplomats got down to sweeping the trash and piling it into buckets to be evacuated. Ms. Lorna Daniels, the Political Counsellor from the South African High Commission was seen leaning way into filthy drains, pulling out unimaginable wet trash into a bucket. What a spirit! 

“One of the goals was also to show the public around that there is a dignity in keeping your surroundings clean and one does not in any way lose face by picking up trash and putting it where it belongs”, says Mrs. Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, UNIC Director, who also got down to the task. This was indeed a very successful exercise and as Mr. Robinder Sachdev, Founder,  Come, Clean India said, “we should multiply these kinds of events but it is not just about cleaning marketplaces”, he said. “We have to think of our neighbourhoods, our rivers, our environment, and we need to expand the movement as much as we can”.

Remembering Nelson Mandela: Africa Week at Springdales School

18 July 2014

Nelson Mandela Poster

“We lost Nelson Mandela a few months ago, but it still feels like he is among us, that he will always be among us”, said UNIC Director, Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman at the Mandela Day celebrations at Springdales School, Pusa Road which, through its Africa Club, has been celebrating this day since 1971. “I guess it is because of his stupendous legacy, his ever-present good cheer, and his vibrant optimism”, she continued. She congratulated the school on its activities which encourage everyone to celebrate Mandela’s life, spirit and extraordinary courage.

The students had prepared wonderful songs and drama, poetry and multimedia presentations on Nelson Mandela’s life, linked to the great leader Gandhi, both of whom cast out hatred from their hearts and converted it into genuine understanding, acceptance and forgiveness. Lorna Daniels, Political Counsellor from the South African High Commission reminded everyone that the United Nations Day calls for 67 minutes of service to humanity to commemorate Mandela’s legacy. She said that she felt invigorated by the fact that people were coming together to achieve something. South Africa had chosen the theme of cleanliness for this year, in a very broad sense: clean air, clean environment, cleaning rivers. “In a small way we can all leave behind a legacy and undertake small actions towards positive change,” Ms. Daniels added.

School Principal Ameeta Mulla Wattal proudly presented the various distinctions won by the students and spoke of the history of Africa Week at the school. The students had prepared posters, poems, art, inter-school multimedia competitions: in short, it was an exercise in spreading awareness on culture, sports, political conflict and peace, and showcasing the similarity of the struggles of both Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Nelson Mandela’s belief that “someone in South Africa will take up my ideas” has proved prophetic, except that it is not just in South Africa but the world.

This kind of annual activity keeps the spirit of Nelson Mandela alive, and at the same time creates bridges for culture and peace between continents. “In doing all this” said Ms. Mehra-Kerpelman, “you have proved that you, the young people, the students, are the greatest champions [of peace]. You have the energy and you can approach a challenge with fresh perspectives”. As UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon says in his message for Mandela Day this year, “Apartheid is gone – thanks to Nelson Mandela, countless other individuals and the proud actions of the United Nations. But our planet and its people still face terrible threats – poverty, discrimination, climate change, conflict and more. Nelson Mandela Day is a call to action… together we can give great meaning to our celebration by paving the way for a better future”.

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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.