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Why was the Berlin Wall Built?

A few tentative steps across Checkpoint Charlie and you were transported to a different world. One side had McDonalds, Coke, Toyota cars and a democratically elected government. Across the Checkpoint, was a world of state-owned factories, rows and rows of identical apartments, and a self-imposed government. This was the world of the two Berlins divided by barbed wire, watch dogs, tanks, and an imposing wall. In 1945, following World War II, Germany was divided into two countries – East Germany and West Germany....

When two Voices become One Voice of Peace

When two Voices become One Voice of Peace

Have you ever asked your family members or friends about the images they think of when a mention is made of war? Chances are that many would think of the mushroom cloud made by the atomic bombs that were dropped by the United States over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on August 6 and August 9, 1945, during the Second World War. Bombs wiped out more than half the population of the cities, and made the survivors and future generations suffer the harmful effects of radiation, in the form of terrible diseases and illnesses....

Footprints on Earth

Footprints on Earth

Have you ever been to a national park? If so, you must have tried to trace or locate a wild animal by trying to see its footprints on the soil. For example, people who go to Jim Corbett National Park, in Uttar Pradesh, India, spend most of their time looking for tigers. They do so by trying to look for its pug marks on the soil. If they find even one, they return happy and spin tall tales of adventure to their friends, about “How I saw a tiger”....

Polluted India

Polluted India

Where: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India Hussain Sagar in Hyderabad is a lake famous for the thousands of migratory birds it attracts from other parts of India and abroad, in the winter months. But the seagulls, ducks and other migratory birds no longer find it hospitable. They only use it as a stopover and prefer to fly away elsewhere. Too many idols spoil the lake The lake has seen more clay idols of deities such as Ganesh and Durga being immersed in its waters than any other lake in the vicinity....

India launches the Agni-III missile

India launches the Agni-III missile

Where: Balasore, Orissa, India April 12, 2007: The newspapers have splashed the news across the front page. TV channels have gone ballistic. India today test fired a missile that can reach as far as the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Beijing and most of the region of West Asia. A missile is basically an object or weapon that is fired, thrown, dropped, or otherwise projected at a target. It could be as simple as a rock shot off with a catapult (where the rock is the missile) or a toy car zooming out of a launcher (where the toy car is the missile)....

Life inside a Public Transport Vehicle

It’s interesting how people make use of the time they spend in travelling from home to office and back, in Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai – especially if they happen to travel by public transport. In buses and trains, packed tight as sardines, people manage to catch a few extra winks and even manage to reach the snoring stage. Or in one deft stroke they spread out a newspaper over multiple knees and arms to read the latest cricket score, the latest share to crash in the market, or the latest case of a politician caught taking a bribe....

Eleven-year-old Eco-ambassador

Eleven-year-old Eco-ambassador

July 31: Somya Ahuja does not like the way people treat their environment. So she wrote an essay about it. And that essay led to her becoming India’s Eco-ambassador at a children’s conference in England recently. Eleven-year-old Somya lives in Delhi – a city which has the distinction of being one of the most polluted cities in the world. The city’s roads are choked with cars, lorries, buses, tempos and three wheelers. Most of these vehicles belch poisonous gases....

Ancient Library in the Desert

Ancient Library in the Desert

Ancient Library in the Desert [Illustration by Shinod A.P.] February 16: Ever heard of Chinguetti, a city nestling deep in the Sahara desert close to the North African country of Mauritania? No? Well, neither did most of the world, till it was discovered that this desert city that is slowly sinking in sand, could be home to the world’s oldest “living” libraries. That is to say a library with intact manuscripts....

Hanoi's Good Samaritan

Hanoi's Good Samaritan

Hanoi’s Good Samaritan [Illustration by Shiju George] November 4:The streets of cities in Vietnam teem with young boys who, despite their sad eyes, have dazzling smiles on their faces, and speak halting, broken English, that sounds charming to the ears. They sell postcards, shine shoes and hassle tourists with remarkably impressive sob-stories about needing money for sick parents, school fees and English lessons. It’s a combination that never fails to move the tourist for whose benefit of course, the entire performance is staged....

Building a Giant Lie

Building a Giant Lie

February 5: The earthquake that struck Gujarat, one of India’s most prosperous states, will go down as among the worst since India gained independence. Both in terms of the numbers of people killed (about 50,000 are feared dead) and the scale of destruction wrought, it has few contemporary parallels. The images of prosperity in cities such as Ahmedabad have been reduced to the symbols of a wasteland – rubble, dust, twisted steel and wire. Building a Giant Lie [Illustration by Shinod A P] A real tragedy, say many of us, but follow it up with a resigned look and statement about the “fury of natural disasters”....

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