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Pandemic illuminates need to bridge digital divide, give access to disabled

Before the virus came along, Ninad Pawar (25)—living with severe visual impairment since birth—would spend three days a week at his favourite haunt, the National Association for the Blind at Worli Seaface where he would browse braille and talking books , check job resources and practise Excel and Powerpoint at the computer lab. The overnight shift to an all-virtual mode during the pandemic tossed out Pawar’s routine and along with that a safe space for a young person with a disability.

Care for carers: Mental health professionals fight anxiety, fatigue

“I love what I do, and I feel guilty if I’m not always available. I have mixed emotions. I also feel exhausted and ambushed. Is this really happening?” sighs Radhika Bapat, a slight young woman, her thoughts restlessly vacillating. In other times, these are questions that she would have been fielding to help others battle their anxiety and fear. But for the first time in her career, Bapat, a clinical psychologist, found herself experiencing the same emotions alongside them.

Covid leaving kids orphaned, but viral adoption pleas are illegal

In the midst of cries for oxygen and emergency drugs on social media, a desperate appeal that stopped people in their thumb scrolling tracks a fortnight ago was a message urging families to adopt two girls—one aged three days and another six months—with the claim that they had lost their parents to Covid. “Please help these kids get a new life, spread the word,” urged the post that quickly went viral.

India’s first openly gay actor to win a national award on his journey from insults to stardom

The voice on the other end is rapturous. Not without reason. Benjamin Daimary ’s afternoon nap had been just interrupted by a phone call telling him that his role in the Assamese film Jonaki Porua (Fireflies) had won him the jury’s special mention at this year’s National Awards for acting. “I was like, ‘What! Me? Why me?’ when Prakash-da ( Prakash Deka , director of Jonaki Porua) called. So I googled to confirm,” he says, all dressed up for his interview.

Covid funding hits other causes hard, NGOs struggle for funds

For a sector that relies heavily on public generosity to survive, the pandemic has dished out a double blow to nonprofits as donors — both individuals and corporates — diverted their funds to Covid relief and the PM Cares fund. And then came the Foreign Contribution Regulation Amendment (FCRA) bill in September that imposed stiff conditions on bigger organisations and stopped their transfer of funds to smaller ones.

How these folks turned a job loss in pandemic into a new start

And just like that one morning in July, he was dismissed. Sandeep Sinha, a senior procurement manager at a real estate firm in Gurgaon, says he had anticipated it — “It was critical for the survival of their business and not personal.” However, in one instant, it also became apparent that the 36-year-old with degrees in mechanical engineering and business management and an experience of 11 years had joined tens of thousands of skilled professionals — from engineers and chefs to pilots and journalists.

Vaccine envy among major harmless side-effects on families of medicos post jab

Eighteen-year-old Nitant Pandya , the youngest in his family and usually the more pampered of them all, suddenly found himself navigating a new normal — of not getting his share — when the gift of life arrived for the rest of his family brimming with healthcare workers, Nitant was “happy” for them. Yet, the newly disenfranchised teenager couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy.

Bees halt hungry elephants eyeing crops, cut human-animal conflict

After several failed attempts, Dhanesh Parashar, a 36-year-old cashew farmer from Dodamarg in the Sindhudurg district has finally found a new ally in his struggle to keep free-ranging elephants from chomping down on his crop: honey bees. Yes, elephants — the largest animal on land — are afraid of bees. So intensely that the tiny insect is helping farmers shoo away marauding elephants that could wipe out a year's harvest in one night.

Designer’s coming out as a woman magnifies transgender visibility

While she’s still trying to get the hang of walking in six-inch stilettos or adjusting her bodice, Swapnil Shinde, reborn at age 39 as Saisha Shinde, appears ready to upstage all the fashionistas that she has been dressing for the past two decades. Transgender visibility in the country reached new heights after the fashion designer came out to the world with a new name and a new face as a transwoman, becoming one of the first to break grounds with her trans identity in India’s pop culture sphere.

The differently abled start speaking up against sex abuse

As a visually impaired woman who navigates her way around with a white cane, Nidhi Goyal has often felt violated by strangers. She’s been whistled at, catcalled and groped in public places, crowded areas and on dark streets. But the story she shared with the world recently is what she calls “different, yet similar” when a disabled man who was her co-panelist at a technology and accessibility event a couple of years ago, bent over and brushed his face against her cheek.

AI-driven emotional care for FGC survivors

To help women initiate conversations on female genital cutting or mutilation (FGC/FGM)—a topic that most in India's Bohra Muslim community still struggle with—an artificial intelligence powered app called Mumkin, meaning ‘possible’ in Hindi and in the shape of a friendly octopus—simulates emotional responses that one would expect from a mother or a husband, and helps them navigate the stigma and silence around the practice, thus enabling them to strike-up difficult dialogues in the real world.

How harassment is pushing women cyclists off Mumbai’s streets

In August, when the little people in Dadar’s traffic lights swapped their straight-legged trousers for a triangular frock, Mumbai became the first Indian city to install female figures in its pedestrian signal as a step towards greater inclusivity. But a symbolic move to dispel the notion that only men should be out may not be enough unless there is a rethink on women’s safety in public.
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