This week’s spots of cheer.

Meet the young activists fighting to end virginity tests for brides among Maharashtra’s Kanjarbhats

The fight has finally begun with a new generation of young, educated Kanjarbhats speaking out against the virginity test and taking on their powerful caste panchayats. The movement started three months ago when Priyanka Tamaichikar’s cousin Vivek Tamaichikar started a Whatsapp group called Stop the V-Ritual to bring together community members who want to end the practice.

Watch: If you say hello to this dolphin, she will say hello right back. Also byebye

Wikie has learnt to say the words “hello”, “byebye”, and “Amy”, and even count to three. Here is the audio clip of Wikie imitating the words spoken by her trainer. She can also blow a pretty good raspberry.

From watching Ashwin bowl on YouTube to playing with him in IPL: The story of Mujeeb Zadran

Despite losing his father when he was just three months old, the family business on his mother’s side ensures he has no financial worries. He grows up in Khost with the family of his maternal uncle, his mamu, and they treat him like their own. His mother becomes his biggest support in life. Here, as a young boy, he discovers a combination that is as intoxicating as opium, Afghanistan’s biggest cash crop: tape-ball cricket and YouTube.

Video series: Leela Roy inspired an entire generation of women in Bengal to embrace active politics


Leela Roy was a force to reckon with in an undivided Bengal and her role in rescuing women and refugees in the Noakhali riots is noteworthy.

‘Phantom Thread’ film review: Stunning performances in a drama about love and other creases

Paul Thomas Anderson’s subtly crafted stunner is less a fashion movie than a study of power equations. Modern psychologists might characterise the relationship that develops between the older sophisticated man and the younger inexperienced woman as co-dependent. Sociologists will see the unmistakable first stirrings of a gender war in the untrained Alma’s attempts to pick up the tricks of her patron’s trade and be regarded as his equal rather than a submissive muse.

Watch: You really can fly now on your own, without being inside an aircraft


Tech company Zapata, known for creating some of the coolest hydro and jet powered technologies and gadgets, has launched a Segway for the skies, called EZFLY (video above). The Segway (video below), as you might remember, is an all-terrain personal vehicle that you can steer across flat surfaces, inclines, and even steps. What Zapata has done is to add a set of jet thrusters to launch you into the sky and maintain momentum.

How giving a ride to Mahasweta Devi turned rickshaw puller Manoranjan Byapari into a writer

“You will print my writing?”

“Yes, that’s what I said. Will you write?”

“But what will I write about?” I said.

“Your life as a rickshaw-wallah,” she answered. “How you came to this job, how much you earn in a day, whether that is enough for your family. Will you?”

“I have never written before,” I replied nervously. “But I will try. If I find I can, I will bring it to you. Will you give me your address?”

We had reached Jadavpur by now. She got out a pen and paper, scribbled some words onto it, and handed it to me.

“Here,” she said.

Photos: A visit to Ladakh is incomplete without a stop at Lake Moriri

This brackish lake is located 4,595 metres above sea level, an altitude to tax the lungs of the most dedicated trekker. With two wetlands – the Nuro Sumdo on the North, and the Pare Chu on the South – the lake is a breeding ground for many rare bird species. It is a day’s travel from Leh and a popular destination for the avid birdwatcher. The place is Tso Moriri, home to the residents of Korzok, the closest village.

This artificial vision device helps the visually impaired “read” and recognise people and products


The camera does the “reading”, converts it to text, and whispers it to the wearer using a built-in mini speaker – all of this, crucially, in real time. No matter what the medium – books or newspapers, computer screens or street signs – the device can read them all.

Also, once a face or product has been identified by the user, OrCam can then recognise them every time, and pass the information on.

Finding wonder in the ordinary: Meet Julia Donaldson, the writer behind the beloved Gruffalo

The origin of her most popular book is as fascinating as the tale itself, about a tiny mouse who outwits the fearsome Gruffalo in the forest. Donaldson came across a Chinese folk tale about a girl who tricks a hungry tiger and later decided to write a picture book by creating her own monster. “I thought having ‘Grr’ in the name would be a good beginning,” she said. But the name needed to end with an “O” to rhyme with “doesn’t he know”, and thus was born the Gruffalo, with terrible tusks, knobbly knees, and turned-out toes. Ever since, The Gruffalo has captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of children across the world.

Video: Here’s why a super blue blood moon is a once-in-a-lifetime event


Three lunar events will coincide on January 31 to create a rare spectacle in the sky.

In photos: ‘Black Panther’, the first Marvel film with an African superhero

Black Panther is the name adopted by King T’Challa of the futuristic African kingdom of Wakanda. The character, created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, made his first appearance in issue 52 of Fantastic Four in 1966. After featuring in several Marvel comics, including The Avengers, for years, he had his first solo run in issue five and onward in the Jungle Action series. The costume worn by Black Panther in the film has been inspired by the latest interpretation of the character by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and artist Brian Stelfreeze.

Watch: In the wake of Brexit, this video is a love letter to the tolerance and diversity of Britain


My Turtle Dove is a “patriotic film celebrating the diversity and tolerance in modern day Britain”, and the filmmakers’ love letter to modern day Britain. Interestingly, the title means “love” or a “sweetheart or beloved mate” in cockney English.

At Mumbai airport, comfort dogs are giving anxious flyers some therapy and lots of cuddles

Katiyar recalled that a French woman broke into tears while she petted Cocoa, because he reminded her of her own dog. She could not bring her dog to the country due to some issues with paperwork, she told Katiyar. “She sat with us for a good half-an-hour and she told me that her time in India was terrible without her dog, but she was now going back home with a happy memory of the country,” he said.

Champions! Manjot Kalra’s century steers India U-19 to their fourth World Cup triumph

The team’s performance was also a fitting tribute to coach Dravid, who finally got his hands on a World Cup trophy. Under Dravid, the side had finished runner-up in the 2016 edition in Bangladesh.

India’s previous title came in Australia six years ago when the Unmukt Chand-led team beat the hosts in the final. The Virat Kohli-led side was victorious in 2008 and Mohammed Kaif was captain when India triumphed way back in 2000.

Muslim personal law board may soon make grooms promise not to give triple talaq

“We are making a provision in the model nikahnama in which there will be a column – ‘I will not give triple talaq’,” the board’s spokesperson Khalil-ur-Rehman Sajjad Nomani said. “Once this column is ticked during nikah, one will not be able to give triple talaq.”

Nomani also said the board would “work hard” to spread the message about the evils of dowry and triple talaq.

Lab notes: Scientists use silk polymer to develop artificial vertebral disc

Degenerative disc disease affects intervertebral discs, which are soft pillow-like cushions between interlocking bones that structure human spine. These discs act as shock absorbers for the spine and support weight and complex motions of the spine. With growing age, these discs change from a flexible state that allows the smooth fluid motion to a stiff and rigid state restricting movement and resulting in discomfort or pain. “Our construct mimics native structure-function attributes of the disc and provides sufficient mechanical strength to function in load-bearing activities,” explained Bibhas K Bhunia, co-author of the study.