Archive | June, 2015

Tamannaah had to gain weight for ‘Baahubali’, not to lose it

Posted on 26 June 2015 by admin


Stories doing the rounds were that actress Tamannaah Bhatia had to lose weight for her  intense  fighting  scenes in  epic  drama  “Baahubali” but she says she had  to  instead  gain  weight  for  the film.

Present  at  an  event  to launch  her  yoga  teacher’s book, Tamannaah said: “Numerous people have a misunderstanding  that  I  lost weight for  ‘Baahubali’. But actually  I  had  to  put  on weight  for  the  film  as  I’m working with an actor who is six feet, three inches tall.

And I was looking a bit too small  in front of him and I was supposed to look like a warrior, which is the role I’m playing.”

Like  how  Kareena Kapoor’s  “size  zero” made news,  Tamannaah  feels “there is too much obsession over  the number of kgs on one’s  body  nowadays”  but “feeling healthy and feeling fit” is more important.

She  says  fitness  and being  thin are  two different things.

Baahubali, slated for release on July 10, also stars Prabhas Raju, Rana Daggubati and Anushka Shetty  in lead roles.


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Hrishitaa Bhatt to play a village girl in ‘Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho’

Posted on 26 June 2015 by admin


Hrishitaa  Bhatt  plays  a village girl from Haryana in Miss  Tanakpur  Haazir  Ho. Director Vinod Kapri wanted

the  actress  to  look  rustic  in this political-satire  that also has  Annu  Kapoor,  Rahul Bagga  and  Ravi  Kishen  in lead roles.

He  says,  “I  wanted Hrishitaa’s character Maya to have a dusky look and a village  girl’s  demeanour.  Another requirement for the role was getting her to grasp the Haryanvi dialect. I must say that she transformed well and has  met  all  these  requirements.”

When asked about her character as a simpleton, the actress said, “This is the best time for Indian cinema when artistes are exploring their credentials and are open to experimenting  with  their  roles. As  an actor,  I  don’t  wish  to  limit myself to my comfort zone of playing  glamorous  characters. With this movie, people will  see  me  in  an  absolute  deglam  avatar.

It’s the script and the role that gets my interest  and  I’m just following my rules.”

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Alia Bhatt observes Kareena Kapoor Khan on ‘Udta Punjab’ sets

Posted on 26 June 2015 by admin


Alia Bhatt  feels blessed  to work with Kareena  Kapoor  Khan  in  the  upcoming film ‘Udta Punjab’.

As Alia considers herself to be Bebo’s biggest  fan,  it  was  a  dream  come  true shooting with her screen idol.

Buzz is that Alia, even when not shooting, would  just observe Bebo on  the set.

Reason? The youngster wanted  to  imbibe whatever her screen goddess did.

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Meet Jehangir Saleh, every teacher’s dream student: Delerey Mallick

Posted on 18 June 2015 by admin

Jehangir Saleh

A brilliant, gentle student, Saleh died in 2013 of cystic fibrosis. Here’s how we can honour his life.

Every classroom has one, as every teacher knows. There is always one thoroughly brilliant student whose reading is so extensive and arguments so elegant that the teacher concedes defeat and makes plans to quietly learn from the student.

Jehangir Saleh was mine. In 2009 I was teaching a writing course at Ryerson University and on my first day was struck by his intelligence and generosity to others, including me, flailing at 8 a.m. at describing the concept of critical journalism.

Jehangir was only 28 when he died in 2013 of cystic fibrosis, drowning in the cement-like bacteria-thick mucus that his lungs produced.

He was born with the illness, he told me about it the day I met him and yet I continued with my stubborn ever-stupid denial. No one dies, ergo I won’t die, my father who is dead did not die, and Jehangir will continue not dying.

It would be wrong to write about him solely in terms of his illness. He lived so gracefully. I have the quick notes I took on the students as they introduced themselves that morning so that I could memorize their names.

“Jehangir Saleh: handsome, philosophy, cold basement-draft from cellar-cold fingers, siblings, Leonard Cohen, Bukowski, ‘accept my poverty and live happily’.”

He was fascinating himself and deeply interested in others. His family were Ismaili Muslims who, with help from the Aga Khan and the Trudeau family, had left Tanzania after punitive nationalization, and now operated successful businesses in


His beautiful sister Jasmine, 23, told me over lunch recently that Jehangir found it difficult to keep up in gym class, lacking the requisite oxygen, and was bullied a little.

One day on the subway, they ran into a friend of Jehangir’s. They high-fived. “Who was that?” Jasmine asked him. “My bully in high school.”

Jehangir was born to write; even his academic work was personable. “Youcan hear his voice in his writing,”

Jasmine said and I agree. In his blog, he tried to explain what living with a chronic illness was like, with three hours of treatment just to start the day: “It feels a bit like mopping a floor. The floor gets dirty, so you mop it up. The next day, the floor is dirty again: you mop it up.

You’re never going to, once and for all, mop the floor.” Jehangir’s mind was so agile that it took historical and logical questions like a steeplechase. But his body was beyond his control. Had he not been ill, he would have been a perfect politician, always at ease, open to all people, or a legendary professor, always helping students over the turnstile.

We used to meet for lunch at Le Pain Quotidien. Later I’d visit him in his room-cave at St. Michael’s Hospital where the CF patients are clustered, and where he had frequently stayed since age 18. It was clearly a hospital zone, but dormlike and friendly, the staff relaxed and warm.

He studied philosophy,reading Slavoj Zizek, Nietzsche,and above all, Hegel, and I gave him Clive James’ elegiac survey course of a book, Cultural Amnesia. And we’d talk and talk over tea until it was clear he was tiring.

His skin was so grey that he looked like fog itself. I learned later that he had times of deep depression but I never saw them. He approached both exterior events and interior feelings rationally.

Such people are magnetic to those who are less calm. He was an inviter, holding talent shows at the hospitaland asking people online to decide what they’d do “if they were dying tomorrow,” and then help them do it. The results were never drab.

He told me about his date with a woman who had CF, but since patients may be especially infectious to other patients, he had to sit on a bar stool 11 feet away from her.

He was wry and dry about it. Ryerson University has set up the Jehangir Saleh Annual Lecture Series in his honour, to explore, among other things, “the meaning of chronic illness and disability, the social framing of illness as hardship, the human significance of adversity in all forms.”

This fall, the first lecture will be given by Havi Carel, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Bristol, on “The Art of Wellbeing.” It is hoping to raise money for a $100,000 endowment fund, and has already reached more than a quarter of its goal. I have donated, and encourage you to do so too, in memory of this gentle, gifted person.

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Happy Ramadan!

Posted on 18 June 2015 by admin

The Muslim community will be fasting from a month starting June 17th or 18th – depending on moon sighting. The gto practice for a complete month to ask for mercy and seek the pleasure of the Creator of the universe.

The Hilal Committee of Metropolitan Toronto and Vicinity, which has 90-some member masajid and Islamic centres and decides beginning of Islamic months by actual moon sighting, will meet on Wednesday (June 16) at Masjid Dar Us Salaam in Toronto to verify the sighting of the crescent moon.

“There are good chances of sighting the moon from the Caribbean and the United States,” said Yunus Pandor, coordinator of the Hilal Committee, hoping the first day of fasting will be on Thursday.

For Muslims, Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad and the revelation occurred during one of the last 10 nights of the month called Laylat Al-Qadr, making it a highly regarded month for the community.

Fasting in Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and obligatory for every Muslim except small children, the sick and menstruating women. It’s believed to be soul purifying and peace-making practice for the rest of the year that teaches rights of both Allah (God) as well as the people.

During fasting, all kinds of food, drinks (including water) or smoking as well as meeting physical needs are prohibited from just before the sunrise (fajr) to sunset.

On Thursday, the fasting time begins at about 3:30 a.m. and continues to 9:02 p.m. providing less than a six-hour window to eat or meet physical needs.

Reading the Qur’an, prayers, giving to charity, feeding the poor, sharing food and behaviours like sincerity, patience, nice attitude and peace-making efforts are all encouraged during Ramadan.

All mosques in the Peel and Halton regions including ISNA, Al-Falah, Masjid Noorul Haram, Masjid Al-Farooq, Shalimar Masjid, Cooper Masjid, West End Islamic Center, Jamia Riyadhul Jannah, Al-Rehman Islamic Centre, Jamia-al-Mustafa, Sayeda Khadija Centre, Jame Makki Masjid Brampton, Peel Islamic Cultural Centre and Brampton Islamic Centre have made arrangements for educational programs, taraweeh and daily or weekends ‘iftar’ (breaking fast) dinner programs.

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Ontario to introduce province wide regulations on carding

Posted on 18 June 2015 by admin

Ontario will bring in regulations to govern police carding in cities across the province, in a bid to allay criticisms that the controversial practice violates privacy and leads to racial profiling.

Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi said that the government is forming a working group to consult with police and civil-liberties groups on what the regulations should be.

An outright ban on carding is unlikely, the sources said. The idea is to develop regulations that address human-rights concerns and ensure there is no racial bias in carding while still allowing police to use the practice. The plan is to bring in binding rules that police must obey, as opposed to mere guidelines.

Carding – also known by several other names, including “street checks” – is the police practice of stopping people who are not suspected of a crime, checking their identification and adding their names and other personal information to a police database.

Carding is common practice in police forces across Ontario and the country, and has been particularly contentious in Toronto.

Some possible reforms include setting a limit on how long police are allowed to keep personal information; having police issue a “receipt” to people they card, which would spell out for them all the information collected; and obliging police to tell people they are about to card that the interaction is voluntary and they can walk away without giving up any information.

The regulations could also spell out more specific circumstances in which carding can be undertaken. Right now, Toronto police carding policy states only that officers need a “valid public safety purpose” to card residents, a rationale that rights groups have said is far too vague.

Critics argue carding is a violation of privacy, in which police gather information on innocent people that can later show up during police checks or be used by police to unfairly target people. Data gathered by the Toronto Star show that officers disproportionately card black men.

The Ontario government’s move could help resolve the battles over carding between police forces and community organizations by imposing a single, uniform standard across the province.

It could also get Premier Kathleen Wynne’s governing Liberals out of a tight spot. The opposition NDP, which competes for left-of-centre voters with the Liberals, particularly in Toronto, has already come out against carding. The New Democrat’s deputy leader, Jagmeet Singh, is planning to introduce legislation to stop the practice later this year.

Earlier this month, Ms. Wynne refused to take a position on the subject. She said that police practices must “conform to all of the Ontario rights and freedoms,” but when asked if carding violated freedoms, she said, “We’re not weighing in at this point.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory has vowed to forward a proposal to end carding at Thursday’s meeting of the police services board, setting the stage for a standoff with Chief Mark Saunders, who supports carding. The province’s move could avert that confrontation, but Mr. Tory could also opt to push ahead with his proposal, which goes further than the province’s.

The issue has been on the minds of many Ontario chiefs as they meet in Mississauga this week for the annual Ontario Association of Police Chiefs conference. Policing leaders from across the province have been watching the situation in Toronto in anticipation of fallout. Deferring to a provincial process would alleviate some of that pressure.

“Chiefs in Ontario are willing and want to work with ministry on a framework for street checks,” Ottawa Police Service Chief Charles Bordeleau said from the conference. “The chiefs have been talking about that. We’re open and want to work on this.”

Despite it being a ubiquitous practice, there is no uniform policy guiding how the interactions are conducted and what is done with the resulting information. As a result, a patchwork approach of wildly varying practices has emerged across province.

Between 2009 and 2011, for example, Toronto Police Services entered 1.1 million names into its central carding database. In Ottawa, by contrast, just 6,000 people were carded last year.

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What You Need to Know About Canada’s Proposed Nutrition Label Changes

Posted on 18 June 2015 by admin

For the second time since 2007, Canada’s nutrition labels are being revised. While the new labels are an important step in the right direction, I’ve broken down the good and the bad of what I feel, as a dietitian, are the most important changes on the labels. Remember that there are still 60 days for you to air your concerns to Health Canada if you’d like.

The Good:

Standardized Serving Sizes: Serving sizes will be standardized according to food type — so when you go buy cereal for example, there will be one serving size that’s the same on every box. This means that the serving size on the label of your Cheerios, Raisin Bran, and Lucky Charms (please no) will all be one cup or whatever serving size is decided upon, which will make it easier for consumers to compare products. The other change to the serving sizes will be that they’ll be more realistic. I’m not sure who only eats one tablespoon of salad dressing on their salad, or ½ can of tuna at one time, but these and other serving sizes will hopefully be replaced with what Canadians really typically eat. Salad dressing eaters rejoice!

Exposing Sugar: Up until now, you’ve had to be part detective, part food scientist to detect all of the different sugars in a product. Not only have they been scattered throughout the food’s ingredients on the label, but they’ve also been hidden in language that the layperson might not understand. Anhydrous dextrose, barley malt, and molasses are only three of the 57 possible names for sugar that can be used on a label.

The proposed nutrition labels will group all of the sugar-containing ingredients in one part of the label, so consumers can easily identify them. The labels will also contain a per cent daily value (DV) of sugar based on Health Canada’s recommendation of 100 grams per day.

Different Look for the Label: The label itself will be bolder, with calories right at the top of the label. The ingredient list will be bolded and easier to find on the product’s package.

The Bad:

No Added Sugar Line: What happened to the line for added sugars? I’m pretty disappointed about it being left out, because the total sugar value won’t differentiate between natural sugars in healthy items such as vegetables, milk, and fruit, and added sugars, which as Canadians, we eat too much of. The added sugars in our food are really the problem sugars, so why aren’t the new labels listing them separately? Fail.

Per cent DVs Are Still Totally Confusing and Unrealistic: These percentages confuse my clients the most. Most people don’t realize that they are based on a 2000 calorie diet, so if you’re not a person who needs 2000 calories a day, the percentages don’t apply to you. There’s something about percentages that automatically confuses people because they feel like they have to stand in the supermarket aisle and start doing advanced calculus. Can’t we make things a bit easier for people?

The Labels Won’t Change How Badly We Eat: Okay, maybe that’s a sweeping generalization, but let’s not expect miracles from the new labels. They’re a step in the right direction, but there will always be people who couldn’t care less what they eat, and people still have to take the responsibility to check the labels — both the nutrition facts panel AND the product ingredient list — and change their eating habits. More education about nutrition and overall health, plus realistic expectations about consumers’ buying and eating behaviors, will be key to improving our food choices and determining if the new labels are effective.

There still remains a focus on individual nutrients instead of overall food quality. In addition to changing the labels, we should be teaching and empowering people to choose more label-less foods that are fresh and whole. Continuing to perseverate on “sugar” and “calories” perpetuates the vilification of individual nutrients which by themselves, don’t dictate the quality of a person’s diet.

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Posted on 18 June 2015 by admin


Dr. Hasan Askari    

 Pakistan’s federal government engages in political controversies from time to time. Its action against the Axact organization was going on when it decided to enter into another controversial matter. On June 11, 2015, it closed down a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that had strong networking inside and outside of Pakistan. Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, led the onslaught against the NGOs working in Pakistan, claiming that some of these organizations were working against Pakistan’s national interests and that these pursued foreign agendas.

 Pakistan’s Interior Minister’s outburst against NGOs can be traced to the recent controversy about two convicts on death row that they are not adults because of their age when their trial for murder started. Some NGOs actively campaigned for saving them from death sentence which also brought the European Union into the controversy. The EU not only opposed Pakistan’s decision to restart the implementation of death sentence but also took up the cause of at least one of the two aforementioned convicts.

   It seems that the federal government will build pressure on all kinds of NGOs that have proliferated over the last twenty five years by seeking information on their internal and external sources of funding, their goals and objectives and tasks done so far. The government will find Islamist hardline and militant activists as its allies for reprimanding NGOs.

 However, given the government’s track record of being inconsistent and strong in rhetoric and weak in action, it may stop after taking action against some or collecting basic information about them. The NGO world in Pakistan is quite large and influential and the federal government is likely to find it difficult to go far against them. It will also face pressure from international financial institutions and western countries that have instrumental role in strengthening the role of NGOs.

 The NGOs have always existed in Pakistan with focus on human welfare, education, medical care, women protection and development, free legal assistance, welfare of orphans and protection of rights and interests of the weak segments of the society. Some such organizations focus on religious and community affairs.

  The role of NGOs gained prominence in the post-Cold war era (post-1991) when the Western countries began to give special attention to promoting voluntary societal activity for societal development and strengthening of democracy.

  The United Nations, International Financial Institutions and several western countries began to support an active role of societal groups and organizations for socio-economic development, advancement of civil and political freedoms and rights, strengthening of participatory governance and democracy and community development. The underlying assumption was that they needed to go beyond the government machinery and its bureaucratic network and directly interact with society in order to encourage non-official, voluntary societal activism for promoting what was described as participatory development. Societal welfare and civic awareness, especially democratic education.

  The Kerry-Lugar-Berman law (2009) that provided economic assistance to Pakistan for five years (2010-2015) that disbursed around one billion dollars per year boosted NGO activity by spending a part of this funding through NGOs and relevant societal groups. The European Union and Japan also partnered with societal groups for socio-economic development. The availability of foreign funds proliferated NGOs in Pakistan which pursued societal welfare and educational agendas for specific areas as well as for the whole country. These NGOs devised their programs on the basis of the donors’ agendas. This provided jobs and paid tasks to a large number of educated people. Though these groups have to fulfill certain legal requirements to function as NGOs, these enjoyed a lot of freedom to pursue their programs and the donors’ agenda.

 The role of NGOs in human and societal development has been significant and these opened new avenues for participatory development and encouraged voluntary societal activities that helped to deal with the societal issues neglected by the government. However, these organizations faced criticism from official and non-official circles because they took on the government’s political and social priorities, defence and security policies as well as the rise of religious orthodoxy, extremism and terrorism in Pakistan. The latter activity brought them in conflict with Islamic hard line and militant groups.

 If Pakistan’s federal government wants to assert its regulatory role on non-government voluntary societal groups, it will have to do that in a nondiscriminatory manner. Any partisan use of state power will be counter-productive. The government is not expected to succeed if it only targets NGOs that have become active in the post-Cold War era.

  There are three major types of NGOs and societal groups working in Pakistan in addition to political parties and their affiliated organizations: NGOs, charity-collection and charity-based groups, and madrassas and religious-sectarian groups. These are overlapping categories. All will have to be treated in the same manner when it comes to application of the existing or new laws in a strict manner.

 The federal government has made several attempts since September 2001 to reform and regulate the madrassa system in Pakistan. The madrassa organizations opposed active state intervention in their institutions, especially regarding the sources of funding, background information on students, professional qualifications of teachers, and books and reading material. The latest attempt to regulate madrassas was initiated as a follow-up of the National Action Plan. By now this effort has faltered.

  If the federal government decides to go after the NGOs alone, this attempt is expected to fail the way the madrassa reform enthusiasm waned. The government will have to take up NGOs, charity collections groups and organizations and the madrassas system at the same time. All of them should provide information on sources of funding, information on their personnel, and the work done over the years. Their audit and performance reports should be available to the media.

  It is not advisable to abolish societal groups and organizations that undertake societal development and humanitarian work. However, their funding, activities and processes need to be made more transparent and open.

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Rape, sexual harassment allegations rock Greenpeace India

Posted on 18 June 2015 by admin


Environment rights NGO Greenpeace India could be in for more trouble as an ex-staffer has gone public with allegations of rape and sexual harassment by her colleagues.

The organization’s inaction against the perpetrators has spurred more female ex-employees to come out with similar accusations. Now, the NGO is at the receiving end with activists lambasting the organization’s irresponsible handling of the cases.

Recently, Greenpeace was in the news after the government froze it’s accounts for non-compliance of norms. The Delhi high court, however, released two of its accounts so that it could function.

In an article published on a web forum last week, an ex-employee (name withheld) of Greenpeace alleged that she had to leave her job in 2013 after being sexually harassed and raped by her colleagues.

Narrating her ordeal, she said that it started a year after she had joined the NGO at their Bengaluru office. The first incident happened during an official trip in October 2012. “I got a call from a senior colleague at 11pm, asking me to vacate my room and insisting that I sleep in his suite. In another incident, he approached me physically despite my discomfort, insisted on force-feeding me birthday cake,” she told IANS.

Though she registered a written complaint with the HR manager, she did not receive any verbal or written communication from the internal complaints committee (ICC) of the organization, which looks into sexual harassment cases. To her shock, she learnt that the person was a serial offender and no action had been taken against him despite his misbehaviour with two other female employees.

However, she said, she was blamed for registering the complaint. “Once in an official meeting, in my absence, two senior employees indulged in character assassination against me. Even some female colleagues, part of the ICC, made me feel that I was at fault, that I didn’t know how to ‘set boundaries’,” she said.

However, matters came to a head in 2013. “It was after a party, when a male colleague whom I knew quite well found me unconscious and raped me. You cannot imagine the pain and fear I went through. I was terrified to speak and I knew even if I had, no one in this organization would come to my aid. I did not have the strength to report my rape, neither to the police, nor to my employers. How could I, when the processes had failed me once already?” she asked. Traumatized, she left the NGO after a few months.

She said it took her long to overcome the incident, and finally, she decided to tell her story through a Facebook post in February this year. Immediately after her post, Greenpeace issued an apology on their website and promised her to re-investigate the case in an adequate manner. Admitting the lax attitude in dealing with the case in 2012, the statement said, “The victim deserves both an apology and a meticulous examination of what happened.”

However, the victim pointed out that the NGO’s subsequent actions exposed their empty talk. “The ICC, which convened in March, recommended the termination of the offender, but the executive director overrode the decision on some pretext and the only thing I received was a written apology from the molester,”” she said.

Supporting the claims of the victim, another ex-senior manager ReemaGanguly, who was a part of the ICC, told IANS that she quit Greenpeace in May after executive director SamitAich overrode the committee’s recommendation. “The committee’s suggestion of terminating the molester was overturned by the executive director, and they dismantled the committee which was only three months old, whereas the duration (for such a committee) is for three years. It was very clear that the committee is an eyewash by the NGO,” said Ganguly.

However, Aich defended the decision to dismantle the committee. “‘We came to know that the committee decisions were leaked to many people in the office. So I sought legal opinion on this and I was told that since its leaked, the decision stands invalid. So we dissolved the committee and reconstituted it,”” said Aich.

When asked why they did not follow the committee’s decision of terminating the offender, Aich said a strong warning was given to the person. “I have given a strong warning to the person and as a result, he has put in his papers. I admit that there have been flaws in our earlier system and we will tighten our disciplinary actions in future,”” he added.

Reacting to the allegations, programme director for Greenpeace India, DivyaRaghunandan, told IANS that the former employees had raised some valid issues and that they will investigate it in a “serious manner”. Acknowledging that there were flaws in the earlier system, Raghunandan said, “When we revisited the cases, we felt that it should have been handled in a better way.”

Asserting that they were re-evaluating the overall procedures for handling complaints of sexual harassment, she said that the employee in question had resigned. “We have reconstituted the ICC and ordered an audit into the old cases. The implicated employee has put in his papers already,” she said.

However, activists and former employees question the failure of the NGO in punishing a serial offender and protecting him for years.

Holding the executive director of Greenpeace India responsible for the shabby handling of the cases, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, said that the events had tarnished the image of the NGO. “Greenpeace failed to stand by their promise of punishing the offender. They disbanded a committee, which recommended punishment for the molester. The NGO is muzzling voices of dissent. They have stretched the cases for so many years. The punishment has to be spelt out clearly,” Krishnan said adding that they have written to Greenpeace International and were waiting for their response to act further.

Voicing similar concerns, UshaSaxena, a former employee, alleged that she was forced to quit Greenpeace because she took a stand against the rampant cases of harassment in the NGO. Saxena, who joined Greenpeace in 2009, said that her protests against sexist jokes and remarks fell on deaf ears.

“I filed a misconduct complaint against senior HR director for making discriminatory and threatening remarks about my gender, my age and ordering me to seek “psychological counselling”. For that, I was bullied out in 2013,” Saxena told IANS.

Another ex-staffer (name withheld) also said that she was harassed by the same person implicated in the first incident. She said she resigned in March 2015 after inaction by the NGO. “He made some objectionable comments in front of many senior colleagues, including the executive director. No one reacted, rather they were all amused. “Though she registered a complaint with the HR Department the next day, it met the same fate as the previous ones,” she told IANS.

She also said she would take further legal action if the offender is not punished.

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Nine Career Lessons I Learned Before 30

Posted on 18 June 2015 by admin

Get the muffins with a smile. My first job out of university was an account coordinator at a PR agency, which involved a lot of admin tasks, from setting up coffee and muffins to covering the receptionist’s lunch break. Every new grad has dreams of doing meaningful, challenging work in their field, but the truth is there’s always going to be a level of admin work in any role, and you have to get the muffins with a smile. Always volunteer to take on new projects and ask for new opportunities above your pay grade, but don’t think you’re beyond the menial jobs — the best leaders are the ones who aren’t too good for the small tasks.

  1. Take risks early, take risks often. I loved working at a PR agency and enjoyed going to work every day, so when I was presented with the opportunity to join a startup at the height of the 2008 recession it was a tough decision, not just because I would be leaving a job I liked but because it was a stable job at a mid-sized company. I remember asking everyone in my inner circle what to do, but my mom had the best advice: “What’s the worst that could happen? It doesn’t work out and you either go back to your job or get a new one.” Your 20s are when you should take career risks — take a new job, switch industries, move abroad. The worst that happens is it doesn’t work out and you return to what you were doing before — but more likely than not, you’ll thrive in the new opportunity and be better off than before.
  2. Your personal brand matters — take the time to build it. When I joined Sprouter I was tasked with growing the platform, which was an online community for entrepreneurs. As part of that mandate, we held monthly events for local entrepreneurs, and I did a lot of writing and speaking about social media for entrepreneurs. In turn I built a strong personal brand around small business, technology, and digital marketing, a brand that has afforded me a ton of opportunities, from writing a column for the Financial Post to holding a weekly segment on CTV News. While you don’t need a large profile to be successful, it definitely opens doors. Think about what you’re passionate about, whether it’s food, travel, or tech, and start talking about it online and in person. Carving out a career niche and building your brand around it is key to differentiating from your peers and landing opportunities.
  3. Look at challenges as an opportunity to take a new path. After several years at Sprouter our founder Sarah Prevette had to make the extremely tough decision to shut down, meaning our team was out of a job. Then, after Sprouter was acquired by Postmedia and we launched startup publication BetaKit, I was laid off almost two years later. Both experiences were humbling, but they both came at times that I was itching to do something new. When Postmedia bought Sprouter I took on a new role launching BetaKit, which was a huge new challenge and gave me experience in the publishing industry. And after I was laid off I took time to travel and decide what to do next, and ultimately joined 88 Creative, which has turned out to be an amazing decision. You will experience some lousy career situations, but try to think about how you can use them to your advantage and turn a negative into a positive.
  4. Hire for resourcefulness and culture fit, not experience. Getting your first job can be a Catch-22 — employers want experience, but you need them to hire you in order to get said experience. After Sarah hired me to work at Sprouter, I asked her why she took a chance on me since I had zero startup experience. Her answer formed the basis of my hiring theory at 88 Creative: hire for resourcefulness, not for experience. She didn’t care whether I knew how to do something, just that I could find the answer on my own. While experience never hurts, I’m much more apt to look for people who are smart, passionate, capable, and independent, and they always turn out to be a better fit. I also learned that culture fit is equally as important as capability, especially at a small company, so hire people you think would fit in with your team and the corporate culture.
  5. Treat outgoing employees with kindness and respect. This one sounds like a given, but it’s worth re-iterating. I had a negative experience when I resigned from my first job to join a startup, and it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve had employees leave at both BetaKit and 88 Creative, and each time I’ve respected their decision and wished them the best. People ultimately have to be selfish in their careers and do what’s right for them, and you never know when you’ll work with them again. Treat people with kindness and respect, and you’ll ensure those relationships won’t be sour the next time you meet.
  6. Never underestimate the power of your network. When I worked at an agency there wasn’t a big emphasis on networking — I came in every day, did my work, and went home — the only people I networked with were my colleagues. When I joined a startup that all changed, since I was tasked with forming industry partnerships, meeting key stakeholders, and building a network of entrepreneurs around the world. Many of the relationships I formed during that time have stayed strong to this day, and have led to speaking engagements, media opportunities, client contracts, and of course friendships. While going to a networking event can be awkward and the last thing you want to do at the end of the day, meeting people and expanding your network will always pay off. If you’re ever laid off, switching industries, or looking for help, you can tap into your network for advice and connections. At 88 Creative I’ve made it a part of the job description to write for industry publications, attend events, and try to make industry connections — while some of the team may lament having to do it, hopefully they’ll thank me later.
  7. Find trusted mentors who can guide you through the forks in the road. Navigating the early years of your career can be confusing. Are you doing the right things to get ahead? Should you stay in your job or find something new? What’s your five or ten-year plan? Those are the questions mentors can help answer. I’ve been fortunate to have one key mentor, Sarah Prevette, who always had my best interests at heart when I worked for her, and is always willing to offer advice now that we’re no longer at the same company. I’ve also worked with executive coaches (Victoria Turner is my go-to) and participated in formal mentorship programs like Mentor Exchange, and each person I’ve worked with has helped provide a different area of expertise or a new perspective. Ultimately the goal is to have someone who has your best interests at heart who is willing to answer my and every question that comes up, so whether you find a mentor organically or through a formal program, make the effort to secure one early in your career.
  8. The worst anyone can say is “no.” This is more a life lesson than a career lesson, but it’s one that’s worth learning early on. Whether you’re asking for a raise, negotiating the value of a contract, looking for advice, or applying for a new job, remember that the worst someone can say is “no.” At Sprouter I used to approach famous entrepreneurs like Steve Wozniak and Mark Cuban for interviews, and while some of them did say “no,” the overwhelming majority said “yes.” When the worst someone can say is “no,” shouldn’t you at least try? (Another associated lesson: get used to hearing the word no)

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