South Asia floods kill 1,200 and shut 1.8 million children out of school

Hundreds dead in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, while millions have been forced from their homes and 18,000 schools shut down across the region

Heavy monsoon rains have brought Mumbai to a halt for a second day as the worst floods to strike south Asia in years continued to exact a deadly toll.

More than 1,200 people have died across India, Bangladesh and Nepal as a result of flooding, with 40 million affected by the devastation. At least six people, including two toddlers, were among the victims in and around Indias financial capital.

The devastating floods have also destroyed or damaged 18,000 schools, meaning that about 1.8 million children cannot go to classes, Save the Children warned on Thursday.

The charity said that hundreds of thousands of children could fall permanently out of the school system if education was not prioritised in relief efforts.

We havent seen flooding on this scale in years and its putting the long-term education of an enormous number of children at great risk. From our experience, the importance of education is often under-valued in humanitarian crises and we simply cannot let this happen again. We cannot go backwards, said Rafay Hussain, Save the Childrens general manager in Bihar state.

India, Nepal and Bangladesh flooding map

We know that the longer children are out of school following a disaster like this the less likely it is that theyll ever return. Thats why its so important that education is properly funded in this response, to get children back to the classroom as soon as its safe to do so and to safeguard their futures.

On Wednesday, police said a 45-year-old woman and a one-year-old child, members of the same family, had died after their home in the north-eastern suburb of Vikhroli crumbled late on Tuesday, and a two-year-old girl had died in a wall collapse.

They said another three people had died after being swept away in the neighbouring city of Thane.

The rains have led to flooding in a broad arc stretching across the Himalayan foothills in Bangladesh, Nepal and India, causing landslides, damaging roads and electric towers and washing away tens of thousands of homes and vast swaths of farmland.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says the fourth significant floods this year have affected more than 7.4 million people in Bangladesh, damaging or destroying more than 697,000 houses.

They have killed 514 in Indias eastern state of Bihar, where 17.1 million have been affected, disaster management officials have been quoted as saying. In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, about 2.5 million have been affected and the death toll stood at 109 on Tuesday, according to the Straits Times. The IFRC said landslides in Nepal had killed more than 100 people.

The IFRC working with the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and the Nepal Red Cross has launched appeals to support almost 200,000 vulnerable people with immediate relief and long-term help with water and sanitation, health and shelter.

A
A passenger bus moves through a waterlogged road in Mumbai. Photograph: Shailesh Andrade

Streets in Mumbai have turned into rivers and people waded through waist-deep waters. On Tuesday, the city received about 12.7cm (5ins) of rain, paralysing public transport and leaving thousands of commuters stranded in their offices overnight.

Poor visibility and flooding also forced airport authorities to divert some flights while most were delayed by up to an hour.

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Mumbai airport airside. #scary #MumbaiRains pic.twitter.com/JAR7CCBNgi

August 29, 2017

The National Disaster Response Force has launched a rescue mission with police to evacuate people from low-lying areas but operations were thwarted by the continuous rain.

The heavy rains, flooding, are delaying our rescue work. Even we are stranded, said Amitesh Kumar, the joint police commissioner in Mumbai.

Images and video posted on social media showed the extent of the flooding.

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Bringing you another amazing waterfall from Mumbai, India…

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Janta Shocks! #MumbaiFlooded #RainHosts pic.twitter.com/UoF9prAAeN

August 29, 2017

Rainwater swamped the King Edward Memorial hospital in central Mumbai, forcing doctors to vacate the paediatric ward.

We are worried about infections the rain water is circulating rubbish that is now entering parts of the emergency ward, said Ashutosh Desai, a doctor in the 1,800-bed hospital.

Although Mumbai is trying to build itself into a global financial hub, parts of the city struggle to cope during annual monsoon rains.

Floods in 2005 killed more than 500 people in the city. The majority of deaths occurred in shanty town slums, home to more than half of Mumbais population.

The meteorological department warned that the rains would continue for the next 24 hours.

Unabated construction on flood plains and coastal areas, as well as storm-water drains and waterways clogged by plastic garbage, have made the city increasingly vulnerable to storms.

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When Mumbai Rains turned Mulund Station into Niagara Falls #MumbaiFlooded #MumbaiRains pic.twitter.com/DP9yYESIIh

August 29, 2017

Snehal Tagade, a senior official in Mumbais disaster management unit, said 150 teams were being deployed to help the population in low-lying residential areas.

Low-lying parts of the city with a population of more than 20 million people experience flooding almost every year but large-scale flooding of this magnitude has not been seen in recent years.

We are mapping all the flooding zones to launch a project to build emergency shelters to make evacuation easy, said Tagade.

Many businesses asked employees to leave early in expectation of worsening traffic jams. Rains and a high tide in the western coastal city threaten to overload an ageing drainage system.

People
People walk along a flooded street in Mumbai. Photograph: Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images

Several companies have arranged for food and resting facilities for employees stuck in offices. Temples and other Ganesh pandals have been offering food and water to people stranded on streets.

People on social media have been offering help to strangers who have been stuck at various locations.

The education minister has asked all schools and colleges in the city to remain shut on Wednesday.

The flooding led to some power outages in parts of the city and the municipal corporation warned of more such cuts if water levels continued to rise.

A spokeswoman for Mumbai international airport said flights in and out of the airport, Indias second busiest, were delayed while some had had to be diverted.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/30/mumbai-paralysed-by-floods-as-india-and-region-hit-by-worst-monsoon-rains-in-years

Beyond Bollywood: where India’s biggest movie hits really come from

The global success of fantasy epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion underscores the power of the countrys billion-dollar regional film industry

The global success of SS Rajamoulis fantasy epic sequel Baahubali 2: The Conclusion has once again brought Indian cinema to the attention of the world. Its forerunner, the $31m-budgeted Baahubali: The Beginning (2015), grossed $100m worldwide but caused little more than a ripple outside India. Within the country, it made waves because the film, made in the south Indian Telugu and Tamil languages, saw the Hindi-dubbed version alone gross more than $20m.

It is a common misconception that the Hindi-language, Mumbai-based film industry known as Bollywood is Indias national cinema. The numbers tell a different story. India produces an astonishing 1,900 films a year on average, of which Hindi-language Bollywood accounts for about 340. The bulk of the rest comes from the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati languages. Domestic box office has remained stagnant at about $1.5bn and, while Bollywood might produce more films (Tamil had 291, Telugu 275, and Kannada 204 films in 2016), it contributes just a third of the box office gross. In short, Bollywood has the visibility, but not the profits, with the under-performers far outweighing the hits.

In this context, the numbers racked up by the regional Baahubali 2 budgeted at $39m, made in Telugu and Tamil, with Hindi and Malayalam dubbed versions are astonishing by Indian standards. The film opened on 28 April and grossed $194m in 13 days, making it the highest Indian grosser of all time and putting it on track to become the first Indian film to gross $200m. It easily outperformed the $123m collected by PK (2014), starring Bollywood icon Aamir Khan.

Baahubali 2 consolidated this performance by delivering an extraordinary result in the US, opening in third position at the box office, above The Circle starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. With $17m and counting, it is the highest grossing Indian film of all time in North America.

Baahubali 2 has the perfect blend of action, emotion and all the right ingredients that a moviegoer wants, says Soma Kancherla, of the films US distributors Great India Films. Baahubali 1s success and the curiosity factor had created a huge hype. The conclusion had lived up to the expectations.

Female
Female empowerment saga Parched, directed by Leena Yadav. Photograph: Brisbane Asia and Pacific Film Festival

Has the film broken out beyond Indian diaspora audiences to a broader audience? Yes, says Kancherla. We factored some of that into our promotion and targeted non-Indians, and to some extent it worked. We have seen many Americans in the theatres who watched and appreciated the film.

The film also collected $2.3m across 66 Imax screens around the world in its opening weekend. This included $1.8m from 45 Imax locations in North America, making it the highest ever opening in the format for a foreign language film.

In the UK, rather than the consolidated figure of the various versions charting as in North America, fragmented versions were listed, with the Hindi version bowing in sixth position, the Tamil one in ninth and the Malayalam and Telugu versions lower in the Top 20.

Creating and maintaining anticipation for the larger-than-life saga of warring cousins and fiery queens was a carefully calibrated task for producer Shobu Yarlagaddaof Arka Mediaworks, the company behind the films. As we started preproduction on the film, we knew that for the kind of efforts we were planning to put into the project, financial and otherwise, it would be sad if we didnt at least attempt to go beyond our regional strongholds, says Yarlagadda.

Global
Global hit Dangal has taken $143m worldwide. Photograph: Disney

Getting a wide release in the south Indian language markets of Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam was simple enough as director Rajamouli is a brand name there, with hits such as Eega and Magadheera behind him. For north India and the international markets, Arka promoted the project on social media platforms, as well as attending comic-cons and university festivals.

The so-called traditional market for Indian films is a block of 50 territories with the biggest being the US, the UAE, the UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indias south Asian neighbours, Australia and New Zealand, and North Africa, with some pockets in France, Germany and Switzerland. Elsewhere, Indian films were popular in Russia and China in the 1950s, particularly actor/film-maker Raj Kapoors blockbuster Awara, while dancing action star Mithun Chakraborty enjoyed fame there with his 1982 film Disco Dancer. However, of late, Indian studio majors have been striking out into non-traditional territories with dubbed or subtitled versions of films: Ki & Ka was released in territories as diverse as Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe and Gibraltar; Bajrangi Bhaijaan in Morocco, Tunisia and Poland; and Mary Kom in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan.

Indian producers have utilised every trick in the book to reach overseas audiences. Arka hired Franois Da Silva, former artistic director of Cannes directors fortnight, to sell and market the film internationally. Non-Indian behind-the-camera talent is increasingly common. Leena Yadavs female empowerment saga Parched, in Hindi, boasts Titanic cinematographer Russell Carpenter and The Descendants editor Kevin Tent.

Accessible English-language titles are also on the rise. Pan Nalins Angry Indian Goddesses, billed as Indias first female buddy movie, sold to 61 territories internationally. Nalin says: Based on my past movies and gaining some experience with international distribution one thing I realised is that its not enough to just have a great movie. We also need a great title which is universally appealing. Titling it in English has paid off. Across the world, the moment we utter or read Angry Indian Goddesses it puts a smile on faces.

All the major Hollywood films are released in English and in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil dubs, demonstrating that India loves global tentpoles, provided they speak in their own tongues. (Appropriately, the highest grossing Hollywood film in India is the India-set The Jungle Book, which roared to $28m in 2016.) Nevertheless, the dominance being enjoyed by Baahubali 2 could be under threat. Wrestling drama Dangal has taken $143m at the global box office, while fans of Baahubalis spectacle will be waiting for the big-budget adaptations of epic story cycles The Ramayana and The Mahabharata, which are in the works. Its fair to say that, with Hollywood accounting for just 10% of the local box office, the Indian film industry continues to enjoy rude good health.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2017/may/13/bollywood-india-film-industry-baahubali-2-the-conclusion

India’s leading edutech startup is now a Harvard case study

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Education technology startup Byju’s, backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), is now a Harvard case study.

It is only the fourth Indian startup to make it to the hallowed Harvard Business Publishing platform, after Flipkart (India’s largest online retailer), Paytm (India’s biggest mobile wallet) and GOQii (India’s leading health and fitness startup).

The case titled ‘Byju’s The Learning App’ will outline the startup’s unique usage of content, media and technology that has enabled it to create a compelling product for students.

Byju’s now has over 400,000 annual paid subscribers, and over 8 million downloads so far. It also claims that the average time spent on the app is a handsome 40 minutes.

What makes Byju’s a two-year-old company unique?

In the words of its founder, Byju Raveedran, Learning through technology triggers changes in how students consume content. It offers them newer ways to explore concepts and initiate learning on their own.”

Perhaps that is what drew the attention of Mark Zuckerberg as well.

Last September as the CZI led a $50 million investment in Byju’s, the Facebook founder wrote, “I’m optimistic about personalized learning and the difference it can make for students everywhere.”

“That’s why it’s a major focus of our education efforts, and why we’re looking forward to working with companies like BYJU’s to get these tools into the hands of more students and teachers around the world,” he added.

Not only Zuckerberg, Byju’s drew an undisclosed investment from World Bank‘s International Finance Corporation too. With these dollars, the startup plans to roll out new products and expand into the US and the UK.

Meanwhile, the Harvard case study, which has been authored by John Jong-Hyun Kim, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, and Rachna Tahilyani, associate director, Harvard Business School India Research Center, is available for teaching purposes within and outside Harvard.

“It is very humbling to have our brand story as a Harvard Business School case study. This further encourages us to innovate and build learning programs to revolutionize education and create a whole new segment of self-paced learners globally, said founder Raveendran in a statement.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/05/zuckerberg-backed-edutech-startup-harvard-case-study/

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