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Cucumber & grapes salad with pistachio & feta cheese


Recipe by Vindhya Karwa – Cucumber & grapes salad with pistachio & feta cheese

Roasted Pistachios amplify the great crunch in this salad accompanied with cucumber in skin and wine-red seasonal grapes. The feta of course makes its presence felt and only just in this lovely mediterranean salad announcing to you, that summer is here.

You need ?‍
2 tbsp minced red onion or shallot
2 English cucumbers ? sliced thin

Bunch of grapes ? 
1 tbsp chopped cilantro 
2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup pistachios peeled 
2 tsp virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp kosher salt

Squeeze of lime

Let’s make it ?‍

1.) In a large serving bowl combine the cucumbers, grapes, onion, cilantro, virgin olive oil

2.) Top the salad with the feta cheese.

3.) Sprinkle the salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4.) Squeeze the lime juice and let it chill for a while.

5.) When ready to eat, pour in the pistachios.

6.) Enjoy the salad ?‍

.. Psst .. did you know that there is a World Pistachio Day to celebrate this amazing super food?

Vindhya was introduced to the aromas and textures of delightful vegetarian cuisine by her mother, who whipped up simple, fresh and delicious seasonal & regional recipes on the go, making do with whatever ingredients and spices available at home. Following the philosophy, she picked up from her mother’s kitchen, Vindhya now runs a vibrant and attractive food handle @Vinsplate on Instagram. Through a collection of simply constructed, healthy, flavor-packed and artistically put-together plates of appealing authentic vegetarian and vegan food, Vindhya has quickly amassed a loyal set of elite followers drooling over her healthy, easy and delicious recipes. She began uploading her recipes on Instagram when she found ample time at hand during the lockdown, which became an instant hit because of the aesthetically shot photos and detailed recipes.

This self-taught home cook began her culinary journey with local ingredients sourced from her hometown, Nagpur. When Vindhya moved to South Mumbai in 2000, she startedexperimenting with ingredients and cuisines from across the world, cooking tasty & importantly healthy & nutritious vegetarian food. A creative soul at heart, Vindhya has brought together her love of cooking and art into her handle @Vinsplate. Her motto being “I bring taste, health & my art to my food,” she spends considerable time plating her recipes because for her, cooking and presentation are both creative processes that need innovation, experimentation, and patience.

Vindhya loves creating a culinary adventure each day in her kitchen, working with organic food, improving the nutrition profile of the meal, reinventing recipes to add more plant-based protein and increase the ratio of low glycemic index-carbs. She advocates healthy food habits that are sustainable and not a one-time affair.

War drama Midway dubbed in Hindi, Tamil & Telugu


Directed by Roland Emmerich, Midway is an American War film. The movie has an ensemble of stars, featuring Nick Jonas, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Patrick Wilson and more. The film talks about the Battle of Midway; one of the most historic battle of World War II. Midway will make its way to your screens at home on the 5th of February 2021, exclusively on Lionsgate Play.

midway war movie

Six months after Japanese Army bombed Pearl Harbor, the American Naval forces come face to face with the Japanese Army as they plan their next attack on the United States; hence commencing the Battle of Midway, one of the most decisive battles of the most gruesome war mankind has ever witnessed. The film based on the real-life events of this valiant achievement, tells the story of the leaders and soldiers who used their instincts, courage, and bravery to overcome the odds. The movie received praises for its visual effects, performances, and historical accuracy and was widely loved by the audience. The film is dubbed in Hindi, Tamil & Telugu.

Indian Railways and Kisan Rail


The first Kisan Rail which started in August 2020 as a weekly train, gained popularity and is now running as three days in a week. The Indian Railways and Agriculture both worked even during the lockdown and ensured the food grains reached every nook and corner of the country.

Kisan Rail has become a game changer in ensuring a fast transportation of agriculture produce across the nation. It provides seamless supply chain of perishable produce. Indian Railways introduced first “Kisan Rail” from Devlali to Danapur on 07/08/2020. This train further extended upto Muzaffarpur and also increased frequency from weekly to 3 days in a week as a result of good response from the farmers taking advantage to send their produce to the distant places of Northern India.

A Link Kisan Rail from Sangola in Maharashtra followed soon.  There was a huge traffic of capsicum, pomegranate, grapes grown in Sangola, Pandharpur, Modlimb, Kavathe-Mahankal, Salgare in Solapur and Sangli districts; lemons from Ahmednagar area, tomato and raw-plantain in the areas of Jeur and Karmala which were being transported by road are now being transported by Kisan Rail.  

Orange (Santra) Kisan Rail for transporting oranges from Nagpur and surrounding areas was started from 14.10.2020.  This area is famous for other agro products for which there is a huge demand. The introduction of Santra Kisan Rail on Railways has proved to be another master stroke which will not only increase orange production but also pave the way for distribution of the famous oranges of Maharashtra all over the country. This is no less than a boon to the Orange Producers.

Sangola-Shalimar Kisan Rail was started on 21.11.2020.  The multi-commodity train service carries vegetables such as cauliflower, capsicum, cabbage, drumsticks, chillies, onion, etc., as well as fruits like grapes, oranges, pomegranate, banana, custard apple. etc.

The loading and unloading of perishable commodities will be permitted at all enroute stoppages and no minimum or maximum size of consignment.

A farmer can book a few kilograms to several tonnes as per his requirement. Government of India has extended a subsidy of 50% on transportation of fruits and vegetables.

Kisan Rail isexpected to continue to cater to the requirements of small farmers and small traders for carrying their perishables to distant places.

What is the National Common Mobility Card


National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) can be used at all transit locations making all transit payments interoperable with just one card.

The idea of NCMC is from the Nandan Nilekani committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Nilekani is the former chairperson of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI), co-founder of Infosys and non-executive chairman of Infosys.

NCMC will allow passengers with RuPay debit card, issued by certain banks in the past 18 months to be swipe for Metro travel. Key banks among 23 banks who have issues RuPay cards are SBI, UCO Bank, Canara Bank and Punjab National Bank.

NCMC will automatically collect fares with a smartphone, known as the automatic fare collection (AFC) system, acting as an inter-operable transport card.

Bharat Electronics Limited is tasked to make AFC compliant gates.

Wine Consumption Trends for 2021 – Sonal Holland


A recent news report indicated that the Maharashtra State Government’s Excise Department had seen a 22% reduction in revenue between April to November of this year as compared to same time last year, given the ban on alcohol sales for a major part of the Covid lockdown earlier this year. With sales only opening up again in end-August, the industry has been playing catch-up ever since, to try and make back the significant losses faced over the course of the year.

Sonal Holland

In the last quarter of 2020 however, we have finally seen some buoyancy and a pick-up in sales. Keeping this in mind, here is my forecast for the wine trends for 2021:

A Surge in Specialist Wine Stores & Online Sales

In 2021, I see more consumers seeking out modern wine specialist stores at which to make their purchases. These are typically posh shops located within large food retail formats, shopping malls or multi-theatre complexes. They offer a wider selection of both domestic and international wines; better-informed staff; and overall, a better experience for the consumer.

Another big trend that will continue into the New Year is the purchase of alcohol online. Ever since the Government has allowed online sales of alcohol, consumers have gravitated towards this highly convenient – and pandemic-proof – way of purchasing their favourite beverages. Given that the excise department has seen such a significant dip in revenue this year, I see no reason why the Government won’t continue to encourage online liquor sales into the New Year, and even longer.

A Boom in Retail Sales versus Restaurants

There is no question in my mind that retail sales of alcohol will boom in 2021 and will take a lion’s share of the pie. Traditionally speaking, retail sales have always constituted around 70% of all wine sales in the country. Now, due to the pandemic, there will be continued pressure on luxury restaurants and hotels to sell their wine, and especially to rationalize their wine pricing and markups. While this has always been a sore point for restaurants and hotels, it will become even more the case now, with consumers now so used to the conveniences of buying alcohol online, receiving home deliveries, and more – all without the markup.  

Wine – An Affordable Luxury

In a year where the affluent haven’t had a chance to spend on themselves as much, through international holidays or luxury purchases, a quick and convenient way to consume luxury is by spending on premium wines. Now more than ever, wine has become a luxury that the affluent can splurge on – I see premium wine purchases continuing through the New Year, with the wealthy even looking to trade up, and splurge more than usual on their wines and other luxury beverages.

Wine in Cans

With the recent introduction of wine in cans by brands like Sula and Fratelli, the Indian consumer, who is younger and not as experienced in the world of wines, will have more opportunities to try and enjoy wines in 2021. Wine in cans is a more accessible and price-sensitive way for consumers to sample the beverage, and with their introduction, the hope is that a younger, newer audience will convert to drinking wine.

A Greater Digital Focus for Alcobev Companies

Marketing, especially in the digital space, has been steadily growing in importance and significance over the last few years. Now more than ever, companies in the alcobev space need to embrace the power of digital marketing, and not only rely on in-store visibility. With online liquor sales, the launch of apps through which consumers can buy their alcohol, and Whatsapp home deliveries, the need for digital visibility has never been higher. Companies should rethink their marketing strategies in 2021, with a focus on their web sites, social media handles, and other online retail platforms.

Blush & Rosé Wines

In 2021, I predict that rosé still wine from regions all across the world – like French Provence, Italy, Spain and so on, will continue to rise in popularity. Rose wines are incredibly versatile, offering the lightness and freshness of a white wine, but the body and fruit of a red wine. They also pair very well with vegetarian food.

One variant in the rosé category that will continue to enjoy popularity in the New Year is the blush-coloured styles of Moscato wines. It’s a medium-sweet wine and low in alcohol, thus allowing for easy drinking. It’s got great aromatics and is especially a hit among lady drinkers. As women continue to embrace wines in 2021, options like Moscato, which are perfumed, sherbet-like and not very expensive, will remain popular.

So those are my predictions for wine consumption trends in 2021. Let’s hope for a New Year that we can finally raise a glass to. Cheers!

Sonal Holland is India’s only Master of Wine, an Educator, Entrepreneur, and the Founder of SoHo Wine Club and Sonal Holland Wine Academy.

BSF Tracked Amphibious ATV


Indian Border Security Force (BSF) has tweeted pictures of its Tracked Amphibious ATV. Made by an Italian company ARIS’ (Applicazioni Rielaborazioni Impianti Speciali), the product is known as the BRT-AATV (Amphibious All-Terrain Vehicle.

BSF Tracked ATV Pelican
BSF Tracked ATV Pelican

The vehicle is of two modules and a 4×4 wheel drive. The front module can carry up to three people in addition to the driver, while the rear module has a wide flatbed for installation of various modules equipped for transportation or rescue operations. BSF operates it at the Rann of Kutch.

BSF Caterpiller Tracked ATV
BSF Caterpiller Tracked ATV

The Indo Tibetian Border Police (ITBP) also operates these vehicles at China border. These have a rubber band track for moving on ice.

The vehicles had cost BSF arounf Rs 3 Crore each. These vehicles can carry about 12 troops.

Madhurima Tuli & Vishal Aditya Singh in music video Khwabeeda


Madhurima Tuli & Vishal Aditya Singh, ViRima, who were last seen in Bigg Boss are back with a bang with a beautiful romantic music video Khwabeeda. Shrikant Tuli, Madhurima Tuli’s brother directed the music video.

Madhurima Tuli & Vishal Aditya Singh

Get up, Get up, Get up Song


‘Get up, Get up, Get up’ Song is the second song released by after soulful ‘Kuch Ajeeb Si’.

The 4 minute 22 seconds song talks about celebrating life in these difficult times and welcoming 2021 with a lot of love, hope and happiness in our hearts. Written and directed by Shaunak Joshi, the music is produced and composed by Karthik Ramaswamy. Additional lyrics are by Bernard Dafeny who is also the lead vocalist. Anjana, Anurag, Anusha, Drishtant, Jahnavi, Nadia, Niza add the background vocals along with Rozelle Alphonso on the keyboard.

How to exit through Self-authorization by e-NPS subscribers?


PFRDA/17/01/08/0001/2017-SUP-CRA had allowed exits from NPS based on ‘Self Authorization’ by the Subscribers themselves using Aadhaar if the corpus in their Account was up to Rupees Five lacs. This mode was disabled post SC Judgement on Aadhaar e KYC. However, post launch of Off line Aadhaar, PFRDA has digitally enabled opening of NPS accounts by using Off line Aadhaar with the explicit consent of the prospective Subscribers which offers instant account opening experience to such Subscribers.

It has now been decided by PFRDA to make the exit process more agile and seamless by extending the off line Aadhaar for the purpose of self-authorizing the exit requests of e NPS Subscribers. Under the process, the eNPS Subscribers with a corpus up to Rs. 10 lacs (Rupees Ten Lacs) in their NPS Accounts, can furnish their off line Aadhaar details for the purpose of exit, in compliance with PFRDA’s exit regulations.

In addition, for eNPS Subscribers whose corpus is more than Rs 10 lacs (Rupees Ten Lacs) as well as for the subscribers who are associated to POPs (Points of Presence) , an online platform has recently been enabled. In this process, the exit requests of All citizen/Corporate sector subscribers would be verified by POPs, while exits of enps subscribers (not associated to any POP) would be verified by their respective banks which are registered as POPs with PFRDA.

How to exit through Self-authorization by e-NPS subscribers

  1. Subscribers login into CRA system using their PRAN and I-PIN
  2. Select Exit menu and provide the details viz Allocation of corpus, Annuity Service Provider (ASP) details, Annuity Scheme etc.
  3. Bank Details will be shown in non-editable mode. Other details such as subscriber name, gender, father name, address details will be auto-populated in non-editable mode.
  4. Document Upload: Subscriber will upload KYC documents, Withdrawal Documents, Bank Proof etc.
  5. e-sign Authentication: After providing all the details, Subscriber will request do the e-sign.
  6. Generation of Acknowledgment ID: On submission of the Exit request and Acknowledgment ID will be provided to the subscriber.
  7. Self-Authorization option: If the corpus is below Rs. 10 lacs, then SelfAuthorization option will be provided to the subscriber.
  8. If subscriber opts for Self-Authorization, below process will be followed:
    1. Subscriber will download the Offline Aadhaar XML File from UIDAI website. UIDAI Link and help page will be provided to the subscriber for download of Offline Aadhaar XML File.
    1. Upload the Offline Aadhaar XML file in CRA system and provide the Aadhaar Share Code, Mobile Number and Email ID.
    1. CRA system will validate the Aadhaar Share Code and Mobile Number with the Offline Aadhaar XML file.
    1. Subscriber name in CRA records should match Aadhaar.
    1. After successful validation, self-authorization withdrawal request will be accepted in CRA system for execution.

‘Instant Bank Acct verification’ through penny drop shall be undertaken by CRAs and the cost shall be borne by the respective subscribers.

  • CRA system provides the subscriber’s details to concerned ASP.

10.ASP will issue the annuity policy to the Subscribers and will upload the Annuity details in CRA system.

Gastrodia agnicellus, World’s Ugliest Orchid

Gastrodia agnicellus, World’s Ugliest Orchid

Do you think orchids are beautiful? Meet Gastrodia agnicellus, World’s Ugliest Orchid. And that is what the Scientists at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, think about it.

The plant is far from attractive and basically looks like an eyeless worm.

Discovered in the forests of Madagascar, the orchid has “small, brown and rather ugly” flowers. It depends on fungi for nutrition and doesn’t have any leaves or other photosynthetic tissue, say the scientists.