What is the significance of celebrating water Day on 22nd March every year?

While World Water Day (March 22) is a celebration of an invaluable resource, it is also a stark reminder of the need to conserve it and ensure everyone has access to it.

Water, water everywhere, but...

Given the number of waterbodies on Earth and their vastness, water shouldn't be a concern for us, right? Well, despite covering more than two-thirds of our planet, most of these waterbodies about 97 %-are oceans, meaning it's all saltwater, which we cannot use. Not all of the remaining 3% of freshwater is available to us either because much of it is trapped in glaciers, icebergs, etc. Which is why we have very little freshwater globally from rain and rivers. While climate change-induced global warming is the cause of a lot of our water problems today, poor global water management too is a reason that many people do not have access to clean water. And it is this aspect that this year’s World Water Day seeks to draw our attention to water and sanitation crisis.

What is water and sanitation crisis?

Most of us have access to clean water-all we have to do is just open a tap (at home at school, and at most places we may travel to). But this is not a common scenario for everyone in the world. In some countries, and even in many places in our own country, people do not have access to clean water. According to the UN, 1 person out of 10 does not have access to safe water, and 1 out of 4 lacks access to a toilet. Especially in rural areas and dry regions, people-invariably women and girls - walk afar (often trudging for hours) to fetch pots of water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. This very act can steal several hours a day from them, denying women time for themselves or time that can be used for income-generating work to empower themselves. Children could end up not having time to go to school, costing them their education, and may not have time for playing either. In fact, travelling to remote places to fetch water can put women and children in unsafe places, endangering them. And, when water becomes a luxury, priority is likely to be accorded to drinking, cooking, etc., leaving very little to be used for bathing, washing, etc. When residential houses do not have toilets, people may resort to open defecation, which could lead to health concerns Also, if schools do not have toilets, girls may choose to skip school, particularly during menstruation. Further, if the water available is not safe or clean enough for use, it could lead to disease, if the only earning member of a less privileged family loses their livelihood or life to a disease, it could trigger the collapse of that entire family.

The focus this year

The focus of 2023's World Water Day is on "accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis". This is also closely linked to U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goal No. 6-"Clean Water and Sanitation”. To take this message across to everyone globally, the UN has launched "Be The Change", a campaign that "encourages people to take action in their own lives to change the way they use, consume and manage water”. It helps us see how small actions matter (see box below). While it is important for governments the world over to initiate steps at international and national levels to conserve water, each of us, irrespective of our age or gender, has it in us to make a difference When we are judicious with the use of our resources, including water, everyone may have access to that resource, quietly ensuring equity in our world.

Picture Credit : Google 

Which day is observed as World Zoonoses Day?

World Zoonoses Day is observed every July 6-a time to examine the invisible dangers emerging from the animal world. In this five-point explainer, let's learn about zoonoses and the risk to public health caused by infections spreading from animals to humans.

World Zoonoses Day

In the 1880s, nine-year-old Joseph Meister was bit by a rabid dog in Alsace, France. It was a time when rabies meant death - a terrible one. The victim would sufferflu-like symptoms, progress to anxiety, confusion, and hydrophobia, the fear of water. Naturally, they would refuse to drink water, and death from dehydration was imminent. In desperation, on the advice of their doctor, Meister's parents approached a local scientist who was working on a rabies vaccine. He was none other than Louis Pasteur, and when young Meister was bought in, the former saw his opportunity to use a human test subject, after seeing positive results on dogs. After consulting fellow scientists Alfred Vulpian and Jacques-Joseph Grancher, on July 6, 1885, Pasteur administered the vaccine. To everyone's surprise, the boy made a complete recovery. It is to commemorate Pasteur’s contribution that July 6 is observed as World Zoonoses Day.

Animals-to-human route

Do you know what's common to Sars CoV-2, Ebola, HIV AIDS, SARS, MERS, Nipah, H1N1 (swine flu), and H5N1 (bird flu)? All of these are zoonotic diseases-meaning they are all animal-borne. Zoonoses have different modes of transmission. In direct zoonosis, the disease is transmitted from animals to humans through air, bites, or saliva. In indirect zoonoses, the transmission occurs via an intermediate species (referred to as a vector), which carries the disease pathogen. These pathogens can be viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Though the world has seen the emergence of diseases throughout history, in the last 50 years, a host of new infectious diseases has spread rapidly after making the evolutionary jump from animals to humans. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 70% of emerging human pathogens come from animals. In the last century, at least 10 infectious diseases jumped from animals to humans.

What's driving the spike?

Globalisation, urbanisation, deforestation, encroachment of wild environments, human-animal conflicts, and wildlife trade have led to the spike in zoonosis outbreaks. Experts have also warned that the risk of global pandemics is growing and that zoonotic diseases will continue to emerge and re-emerge. New infectious diseases are a sign of how the world is changing. The more we change the environment, the more we disrupt ecosystems and provide opportunities for diseases to emerge.

Major factors

  • Deforestation and human-animal conflict:  Clearing of forests may bring wildlife out of the forest to nearby human settlement. Many vines east harmlessly with their host animals in forests because the animals have co-evolved with them. But humans can become unwitting hosts for these pathogens when they venture into or change forest habitat and come in contact with the host animals directly or indirectly. New infections can spread rapidly in big cities as population density is higher and people breathe the same air and touch the same surfaces.
  • Wildlife trade: Wildlife trade increases the chances of human animal contact, putting humans at the risk of contracting diseases. For instance, SARS was linked to wildlife trade and eating of wildlife. People who handled, killed and sold wild animals made up nearly 40% of the first cases. Poorly regulated wet markets (a market selling fresh meat, poultry, and other perishable goods) and illegal wildlife trade offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spill over from wildlife hosts into the human population. Bird Ju-H7N9 and HSN9-too originated in wet markets.
  • Mobility of people: Increased movement of people, faster transport and international travel, and greater interconnectivity among megacities pose greater risks of disease transmission.
  • Climate change: Climate change is altering the way animals live and eat. For instance, unusually heavy rains may create favourable environments for bats hosting the virus to reproduce and multiply. Similarly, food scarcity brought about by drought, may lead to more bushmeat hunting, raising the risk of outbreaks such as Ebola. In the American Southwest, years of drought led to a boom in rodent populations. This led to the deadly hantavirus outbreak in 1993.

Readying for the future

With potential for more zoonotic diseases to emerge in the future, WHO has called for a multisectoral "One Health" approach to address this complex heath threat. In 2019, the Tripartite organisations- the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), WHO, and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) - developed the Tripartite Zoonoses Guide, which was the summation of a global effort of more than 100 experts worldwide to provide guidance and explain best practices for addressing zoonotic diseases in countries. Operational tools have also been developed for assessment, surveillance, and sharing of information by nations.

Picture Credit : Google

Which day is celebrated on 22 May?

The International Day for Biological Diversity that falls on May 22 is a call for us to celebrate the variety of life around us. Through this annual event, the United Nations also seeks to draw our attention to the need for conserving all these life forms and safeguarding our environment as a whole

May 22 every year     

The United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity came into effect on December 29 1993, and the U.N. initially designated it The International Day for Biological Diversity. However, in 2000, it was changed to May 22 to coincide with the date of the adoption of the text of the Convention. The change was also partly because in several nations. December 29 is part of the holiday season, making it difficult for related activities to be held. Though the dates changed, the aim of the day has not "to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues".

The theme this year

For more than two decades, each year has had a theme. This years is "From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity". It is tied to the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15). Among others, the two-week-long conference held in Montreal, Canada led to a landmark international agreement for protecting 30% of land and oceans by 2030 and the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF). "The GBF aims to address biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and protect indigenous rights." The theme encourages all those involved from governments to individuals to get started on the actions as agreed, or if the action has begun already, to publicise and hightlight them so it can inspire and guide others.

What is biodiversity?

Observe the small parcel of open land in your street corner. What do you see? Different types of plants, trees, flowers, fruits, birds, bees, butterflies, spiders, garden lizards, dragonflies, and plenty more? This variety of living creatures found in any place-from a small stream to vast expanses of deserts and oceans - is called biodiversity. Every organism, small or large or invisible to our eye, has a role to play in our ecosystems, and the loss of even one species can cause problems to that ecosystem and the creatures inhabiting it. Which is why biodiversity is very crucial for the planet and even us humans.

Factors causing biodiversity loss

  • invasive species
  • Pollution
  • Climate change
  • Habitat loss
  • Overexploitation of natural resources
  • Infrastructure development
  • Construction of dams
  • Natural disasters

How can we help?

• Choose a sustainable lifestyle by buying local products, using cloth bags, walking or bicycling, etc. • Set up terrace or community gardens and raise native fruits and vegetables

• Educate yourself about invasive species and work with local communities to eliminate such species.

 • Talk to local government bodies to improve the condition of nearby rivers, parks, etc.

• Get together a group of like-minded students to create biodiversity awareness in your neighbourhood.

• Interact with environmentalists in your area and find out how to build back biodiversity. Remember, it's not too late!

Picture Credit : Google 

What's celebrated on 16th October?

World Food Day is celebrated annually on 16 October to promote global awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and to highlight the need to ensure healthy diets for all. World Food Day (October 16) just passed us by. The day focusses on aspects such as hunger, food accessibility, and eating what is healthy for both you as an individual and the planet as a whole. Here are a few simple ways in which your food habits can be kind to Earth.

Understand the food system

The food system collectively refers to the processes involved -from food production, packaging, and transportation to consumption. In simple terms, it is the journey of how the food reaches you. But it is also much more than that- it focusses on aspects such as food cost, affordability, sustainability, waste, its impact on the environment and the people, etc. Understanding food systems help you make sensible choices. For instance, when you trace the origin of an imported food item, you may learn that it has travelled from another continent, wrapped in plastic, perhaps losing its nutrition along the way, and costing exponentially more than what it cost in its place of origin.

Eat local and seasonal foods

Anything produced locally and during the right season has more nutrition and flavour because the time between production and consumption is less when compared to something that has been brought from far or harvested long ago. Seasonal foods also offer health benefits. Many vegetables and fruits-such as watermelon that grow in summer have high water content just perfect to keep us hydrated. Similarly, some of the fruits and vegetables - such as oranges and lemons are rich in vitamins and offer protection against viral infections such as cold that can happen during winter.

Decrease waste

Right from purchasing to consumption, we have several opportunities to eliminate or at least decrease waste. For instance, buying only the food item that we need rather than go in for impulse buying, buying the required quantity, storing the item carefully, and using the exact amount we require. At home and outside, it is good to have small portions on our plates. One can go in for a second helping after completing the first portion rather than load up the plate with a lot. Also, just because a fruit or vegetable looks misshapen, it does not mean it is rotten and must be discarded. They will certainly pass the nutrition test! Remember to bring back your excess food from restaurants in your own containers, and use the left over later.

Sustainable eating

Sustainable eating habits cannot happen overnight. Talk to your family members, pick one day every week when the food you consume is planet-friendly and all meals are prepared at home from scratch. The ways to ensure these are by going in for local and seasonal food, produce that require less water and are grown using eco-friendly methods, using diverse items from fruits and vegetables to a variety of grains, etc. In addition, vegetable and fruit peels can be utilised for making compost. Once these become easy to follow, gradually every day will turn into 'Sustainable Eating day!

Grow your own food

It has been proved that processed food can lead to a range of health issues from obesity to cancer. The more you prepare your own food, the better it is for your health. One way of knowing what you eat is by growing your own organic food at home. With a little thought and effort you can raise anything from cilantro, ginger, and chillies to okra, and pumpkin. Use kitchen waste water-such as ones used to wash rice and lentils- to water these plants. Such steps also help you connect with nature, and become aware of ways in which you can lead a sustainable life.


  • The World Food Day commemorates the date of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
  • While FAO was established in 1945, World Food Day was set up in 1979.
  • Two years after that, it introduced a theme. There has been a theme every year since then. The theme for 2022 is "Leave NO ONE behind".
  • The United Nations states that enough food is being produced for everyone in the world. The hunger and poverty that happens is largely due to the lack of access.

Picture Credit : Google 

Which day is known as World Photography Day? How can you take good pictures during the day?

Celebrating these qualities of the art form, World Photography Day is observed annually on August 19. The day celebrates the art of clicking pictures, the technology behind it, and its history.

A picture speaks more than a thousand words. This is an old phrase that has immense truth in it. An image is not a mere frame or composition, but a reality. Today, people are crazy about taking photographs and want to share them instantly on Facebook Stories, Instagram Reels or WhatsApp Status. When we take an image, we also capture the reality which turns into a historical reality in the future. Thus, every image can create history.

All of us are potential photographers; the art of photography is innate in each one of us. We need to bring out that talent and move towards potential photography to become professional photographers. It becomes a reality when we keep practising. In this article, I would like to share my experience as a mobile photographer (pocket filmmaker) on how you can capture a realistic photograph.

How to handle a smartphone camera.

1. Clean the camera lens properly so that the image is clear.

2. Focus properly, because the clarity of the image depends on your focus.

3. Keep your hands steady so that motion blur can be avoided.

4. Always use the rear or back camera as back cameras have higher pixels.

5. Never use the zoom technique to avoid the loss of pixels.

6. Turn on your HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode.

7. Composition of the image is very important.

8. Always take multiple shots so that you can choose the best one.

9. Make the shot dramatic and attractive while composing.

10. Post-process your images before sending them to digital platforms. Use editing tools to enhance images.

Know your smartphone and camera

Having a smartphone is not sufficient, we need to know how to use it smartly. Be aware of the capacity of the camera that you have. To take a good photo, adjust the camera settings of the smartphone.

Quality of the mobile camera: By default, it will be set to medium quality. We need to set the camera at its best quality by adjusting the maximum pixels of your came 24MP, 44MP, 64MP, etc.

Grid Lines: Grid lines are very important in photography. Keep the grid lines on while taking photographs. It will help you take good photos using the rule of one third.

Frame Ratio: Frame ratio is the height and width of the photograph. The frame ratio for a good quality photo is 16:9 or 4:3. Never set the full screen mode.

Auto Mode: Initially, try taking photographs with auto mode. Auto mode adjusts itself with the surroundings in terms of light. Light is very important in photography. Auto mode reduces your risk of misjudging the light.

Guidelines for a good composition

Photography depicts the creativity of a person. Keep these guidelines in mind while taking photos:

1. The first golden rule is to avoid cuts at the joints of our body. One can cut in between the joint or just above or below the joints of the subject.

2. Pay attention to the breathing space. There should be sufficient space at the headroom and the same space to the right and left of the image. Reduce the negative ground (background); keep more positive ground (foreground).

3. Follow the rule of one-third and make it dramatic.

4. Identify the leading lines in the photograph especially when the photograph is taken at a park, road or building.

5. While taking a group picture, the main subject must be at the centre of focus based on the expression or feeling.

6. There should be a depth meaning or story in the photograph. So, keep up the angles of the shot (low angle, high angle, eye level, overhead shot, undershot, etc.)

Post-processing of images

It's not just about taking the photograph, we need to give life to it as well. That happens when we post process the images. There are so many mobile applications such as LightRoom, SnapSeed, PicsArt, etc., in which we can edit or correct our mistakes. LightRoom and SnapSeed are the best apps for simple editing. In these apps, we can determine the exposure as a whole or part of the image. In editing, mostly we focus on the composition and exposure.

As I said earlier, a photo speaks more than thousands of words. When you hold your smartphone in your hand, you must capture an image that speaks a million words. Your photo should create a history, tell a story, convey a message, and bring out the feelings of the creator.