Cherry Blossom Festival in India

Cherry blossoms are infamous in Japan, where it is celebrated as a festival called sakura. Many other countries around the world have planted Japanese cherry trees for a cherry blossom festival that attracts huge revenue from tourists. Also, some countries in the world, such as Korea and China, have their native cherry trees, which bloom at the advent of spring. But all over the world, especially in the Americas and Europe, cherry blossoms are associated with Japan, and festivals are organized in parks around blooming Japanese cherry trees.

It is less known that in India, we have our own version of cherry blossom every year in many of our states. India’s own cherry tree, Prunus cerasoides, is native to Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Meghalaya, and have subsequently spread to other north-eastern states. Unlike Japanese cherry trees, Prunus cerasoides blooms in autumn. Autumn appears earlier high up in the Himalayas, so by mid-October, you can see the hills of Narkanda, Shimla, Kalpa, Dharamsala covered in a whitish-pink hue. By early to mid-November, cherry blossoms spread to other parts of the country, notably in Shillong in Meghalaya. Like Japanese sakura, the bloom occurs for a short period of only one or two weeks.

Like its Japanese cousin, Prunus cerasoides is considered sacred in Hinduism, and the flowers are used in worshipping Vishnu and Shiva. It is called in Hindi as padmakashtha. However, very little was known about it beyond its native range until 2016. Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD), a national institute under the Department of Biotechnology, in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), took the first initiative to set up a cherry blossom festival in Shillong. Dinabandhu Sahoo, the director of IBSD, was particularly inspired by wild cherry blossoms in the countryside around Shillong and was keen to establish a festival of international standard like most other countries around the globe. India’s cherry blossom festival does not coincide with the ones in Japan, or other countries around the world as the blossoms arrive late autumn, making it a unique cherry blossom viewing around the globe. Notably, Japan is very interested in India’s cherry blossom festival and is looking forward to promoting it among Indians and abroad.

Like 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a drop in tourism in the north-eastern states of India. As such, no cherry blossom festival was held, but the flowers, in their usual might, bloomed in the second week of November. This year also no cherry blossom festival will be celebrated, though the flowers will bloom in time. However, when the pandemic eases out, it will surely be a hit among Indian and foreign tourists, who love to see the landscape turn green to pink. Ward’s lake in Shillong is the most popular site of the cherry blossom festival, though there is also Umiam Lake. We only need good promotion, a festive mood, tourism infrastructure, and most importantly, awareness to make our own cherry blossom festival a success.

So, have you seen cherry blossoms in India? Do let us know in the comment section below.

Written by – Himadri Paul

4 Days Work a Week

5 days a week work may seem boring for many employees. After long hours of duty daily, getting only 2 days a week as holiday is not enough for many workers, who are doing laborious work. Also, the working hours per week seem to have exceeded what is required in this modern, fast-paced and digital world. That is why some countries are looking forward to either reducing the working hours a week or giving Friday or Monday a holiday along with the usual weekend.

The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and work from home conditions is said to be the inspiration for exploring the possibility of a reduction in working hours. Some countries and private companies have explored the possibility of either a 4 working day week pattern, or reduction in working hours per day, or even giving a flexible approach deciding the duty time. All possibilities were tested by several private firms during the pandemic period when most of the workers opted to work from home. Currently, Germany has the least working hours a week at less than 30 hours a week.

Though several small firms had started reduced working hours or 4-day a week trials, the first major success was found in that of Iceland. Though the trials started before the pandemic, it took one and a half years to conclude finally. In July 2021, Iceland released its report on the trials. Iceland concluded that reducing working hours would result in an overwhelming success for the employees and the working class. Though the production did not increase as anticipated, sufficient cost can be reduced in terms of electricity bill, manpower, maintenance for offices, and transportation cost for employees.

The trial was not entirely on 4-day work but also covered 5-day work with reduced working hours and flexible timings of duty. In the case of 4-day work, Friday or Monday was declared a holiday for employees on a rotational basis. In all cases, work hours were reduced from 40 hours a week to 35-36 hours a week, though it is alleged that some 5-day work requiring longer duty time got decreased by no more than 7 mins a day or 35 mins a week in private sectors and 13 mins a day or 65 mins a week in the public sector. The salary of employees were not decreased. Some researchers have stated that the report was greatly overstated, and the working limits were not strictly followed in many cases.

The most significant positive idea from the Icelandic trials is employee satisfaction. Every employee is more satisfied with the current working conditions, with same pay. While the managers and officers are satisfied that there is no decrease in output from each employee, the employees have most benefited from the new working conditions. In 4-day work, a 3-day weekend also means greater time for travelling and rejuvenating the mind. Apart from Saturday and Sunday, the extra holiday on Monday or Friday worked the best for employees. Flexible duty timings is a significant respite to employees living far away, who have to get up too early. Now employees can attend any evening party, or wake up late, which was previously not possible in rigid working-hour conditions. It also gives the workers to take break from work, indulge in exercise, and relax.

Though we should never rely on one report, the report certainly shows promising results that can be carried forward in other countries. Japan and New Zealand have also started trials of 4-day week work, reduction in working hours, or flexible shifts on a large scale basis. India has also expressed its willingness for a 4-day work week, albeit at the expense of increasing working hours a day. As the world changed from 6 days a week work to 5 days at the turn of the millennium, the time has come that many companies and public sectors look forward to switching to 4 days a week work in the near future.

To know more about the details of findings on the report, click here.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Tokyo 2020 Olympics is Underway

It is always said that it is better late than never. The Olympics was originally scheduled to be held initially in the summer of 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic postponed the mega event that occurs every 4 years. However, extensive research on Covid-19 and the invention of vaccines mean that the games could still be conducted amid strict pandemic protocols. Tokyo has taken the initiative to proceed with the Olympic games in July 2021.

As of now, only two countries have pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics – North Korea and Guinea. Some Czech, US, and British athletes have also pulled themselves out of the Olympics as they are infected with Covid-19. Covid-19 also showed its presence in the games village, where several athletes were found to be Covid-19 positive. Games related Covid-19 cases have till date shot off to 155, of which 20 are residing in the village. Some well-known athletes have also been affected by the deadly virus, including Czech beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic, Dutch tennis player Jean-Julien Rojer, U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff, British shooter Amber Hill, and Russian swimmer Ilya Borodin.

Russian athletes will be participating in the Tokyo Olympics as ROC, or Russian Olympic Community. Russians are not allowed to use their flag or national anthem in the event as the World Anti-Doping Association, or WADA, has banned Russia from participating in Olympics for 4 years, which has now been cut down to 2 years. As a result, 335 Russian athletes, who have cleared themselves of being unaware of doping scandals, will now participate under the name ROC.

The tournament kicked off well for India, with Mirabai Chanu from Manipur, clinching the silver medal in women’s weightlifting in the 49kg category. She became the second person to get an Olympic medal in weightlifting after Karnam Malleshwari’s bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Mirabai lifted a total of 202kg to secure the second spot after China’s Hou Zhizhi, who lifted 210kg in total, creating Olympic record. The veteran badmintonist and Rio Olympic’s silver medallist, PV Sindhu, the boxing legend and London Olympic’s bronze medallist, Mary Kom, and the Indian men’s hockey team have started well in their Olympics campaign.

Written by – Himadri Paul

1st EVER WOODEN SATELLITE !

The world’s initial wood satellite – planned to be designed by 2023. A Japan start-up company referred to as Sumitomo Forestry has teamed up with researchers. They are from the metropolis University, to figure on a wood satellite, reported BBC. The researchers say the wood satellite – that they decision LignoSat. It is one of the every of many requests to explore however wood could be employed within the future.

Takao Doi, a faculty member at Kyoto University and Japanese astronaut, quoted by BBC to state that every satellite that comes in Earth’s atmosphere at the moment burn and make small corundum particles which is able to float within the higher atmosphere for several years. This influence could be harmful within the long-standing time, something they aspire to prevent by using wood as their material.

World's first wooden satellite to be launched by Japan in 2023 to reduce  space Junk | Current Hunt

The indignation begins with experimenting differing types of wood in numerous extreme environments on Earth. This is to decide on the simplest doable material to serve the requirement of satellites. The vital aim is to cut back space junk.  So wood might be used as they fritter away while are neither cathartic harmful substances or nor would lead to descending scrap on the bottom once they plunge back to Earth.

A report by ARS Technica recognized that simply exploitation wood for satellites isn’t extremely about to create a distinction. The article cites figures to recommend a large quantity of house junk. Which consists of the booster or the instrumentality to propel the satellites into house. Even though wood is incorporated, this variety isn’t about to be affected. Though, if the satellite de-orbits, the wood can fully burn down. However, this may not stop some little bits of aluminum from moving into the combo as several of them can return from the rockets.

So then let’s anticipate their outcome to envision the success or additional work required for the it!

By Krisha Shah,

From Mumbai.