Message of concern for EWC alumni in Nepal

The East-West Center community expresses its sympathy and deep concern over the loss of life and on-going crisis in Nepal resulting from the devastating earthquake. Our hearts go out to the family members of those who lost their lives and to the thousands who are still trying to locate family and friends, who lost property, or who have had to leave their homes. We know that rebuilding, psychologically and physically, will require enormous leadership, stamina, and resources, and we hope to be able to help.

We encourage all EWC alumni to use this blog site and visit the EWCA Facebook page to connect with the wider EWCA community. We also invite you to share your images, stories or reflections regarding the experience on the EWCA Facebook page and EWCA blog as a central communication point for EWC alumni affected by the earthquake. Please share any news about EWC alumni in the region who may have been affected and any relief activities that the EWCA chapter or individual alumni may be undertaking so that we can share that information with the Center community.

We hope that the international community can effectively help local citizens and authorities in the recovery and rebuilding efforts. Click here for a list of organizations that are dedicated to the relief effort in Nepal.

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Heritage for Sale

By Sarosh Bana
Executive Editor, Business India, and EWCA Mumbai Chapter Leader

Looted Indian antiquities handed over by the Honolulu Museum of Art in the investigation of dealer Subhash Kapoor.

Looted Indian antiquities handed over by the Honolulu Museum of Art in the investigation of dealer Subhash Kapoor. Photo: artnet.

The global trade in plundered antiquities has expanded so far and wide that an international investigation into artifacts smuggled out of India led the authorities to the Honolulu Museum of Art.

On 1 April, the museum handed over seven rare items – including a 2,000-year-old terra cotta rattle – that it had acquired without realising their clandestine origins. Agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) department will accompany these items to New York from where they will be eventually returned to the government of India.

Like many other stolen antiquities, these items too had been pilfered from Hindu temples and ancient Buddhist sites and allegedly smuggled to the United States through a network run by Subhash Kapoor, a 66-year-old Indian-born art dealer settled in New York. Kapoor was arrested by immigration officials at Frankfurt airport in Germany in October 2011 and extradited to India in July 2012 to stand trial on charges of trafficking artworks. He is lodged in the Puzhal prison in Chennai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

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EWC Community Extends Sympathy, Calls for Aid to Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

The East-West Center community extends its deepest sympathies to all those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. We strongly encourage community members to support relief efforts if possible. A list of reputable organizations providing disaster relief can be found here. In addition, Operation USA, a disaster relief agency co-founded by EWC alum Gary Larsen, is providing critical assistance on the ground.

If you’re in the Philippines, please contact us or comment on this post to let us know how you’re doing, and any activities that EWC community members may be undertaking there to help with recovery.

Stemming the Rust – The Global Battle Against Wheat Fungus

A battle is being waged in wheat fields across the world to stave off an impending calamity that can ravage global food security

By Sarosh Bana, Executive Editor of Business India magazine and EWCA Mumbai Chapter President

(Note: This article originally appeared in Business India magazine on April 1, 2013.)

South Asian countries, where wheat is a staple cereal for many, is vulnerably poised in the path of an exceptionally virulent fungus that can wipe out entire farmlands.

Farmers and agriculturist scientists in the region are hunkering down to fortify themselves against this peril that can undermine the food security of millions.

Wheat stem rust fungus.

Wheat stem rust fungus.

More than 20 wheat scientists from five South Asian countries – India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bhutan – participated last fortnight in a comprehensive training programme in Kathmandu on wheat rust monitoring and disease management.

Designed to raise a new generation of agro-scientists equipped to identify the more virulent stem, leaf and yellow rusts that can devastate entire farmlands and to create wheat strains that can withstand this scourge, the 2013 SAARC Wheat Rust Surveillance Workshop and Training Programme was the fourth such annual event to be held in South Asia. It was organised by the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat (DRRW) Project, managed by the US’s Cornell University. Continue reading

Open Source Transparency

EWC Education Project Specialist Christina Monroe writes:

Just as quickly as you can end the previously hours-long debate on ‘what countries border Moldova’ with a Google search on your smartphone, human rights activists can now eliminate doubts that abuses are happening.

It’s a new open source transparency. But instead of sharing software for free, scientists and NGO workers are sharing tools to document events. These events used to happen in secrecy, but now they’re in the public domain for all to see. These tools, in the hands of willing citizens, can force public accountability and ultimately more transparency from powerful players in every society.

I recently took part in a briefing for East-West Center’s Asia Pacific Leadership Program fellows with the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, DC. I’m fascinated by how they use GIS and remote sensing to support human rights organizations.

An analysis of high-resolution satellite images of Aleppo, Syria, appears to reveal the deployment of heavy armored vehicles in civilian neighborhoods as well 117 instances of damage to buildings and infrastructure. Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

An analysis of high-resolution satellite images of Aleppo, Syria, appears to reveal the deployment of heavy armored vehicles in civilian neighborhoods as well 117 instances of damage to buildings and infrastructure. Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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Seeing America through the Eye of Hurricane Sandy

EWC international fellows take home lessons from the storm

Christina Monroe, EWC Education Project Specialist & Asia Pacific Leadership Program alumna

(APLP fellows in NYC during Hurricane Sandy witness resilience of the American people.)

It seemed the worst place to be on Oct 29th, but for fellows trying to understand America, New York City was the perfect spot.
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