Indian music is a reflection of the rich cultural traditions and history of India. Its unique sounds have created legions of fans around the world and influenced the global music scene.
Novels that delve into the rich and colourful ties between India and Southeast Asia are still nascent. Here, The ASEAN is delighted to introduce two literary treasures written by two talented Indian authors. They created compelling fictional characters who navigated real-world events which took them from India to Malaysia, Myanmar, and Singapore—opening our eyes to forgotten histories and diverse cultures and perspectives.
The monsoon winds that blew trading ships from India to Southeast Asia over the centuries also ushered in a deep cultural relationship that has continued until today. The maritime route began at either the Coromandel coast or the coast of the Bay of Bengal and continued to Cape Comorin and Straits of Malacca to reach the Malay Peninsula. There was also a land route via Bengal, Assam, Manipur, and Burma (now Myanmar) that reached different parts of Southeast Asia.
We live in a troubled world of cultural pessimism where greater understanding and tolerance are becoming somewhat elusive. Worldwide, conflicts are getting longer and more complex, with some lasting 20 years on average.
Bjorn took a leap of faith after 10 years of working in the digital marketing industry to explore a more sustainable lifestyle. His decision led him to a soul-searching journey across the United Kingdom, Spain, and Japan, where he learned to grow food in organic agricultural farms.
When Bjorn returned home, he found underutilised spaces and incorporated urban farms into Singapore’s cityscape. In 2012, he co-founded Edible Garden City with the goal of improving sustainability in local food production. It began with one restaurant garden for chefs that was driven by the global farm- to-table movement. Edible City has now built more than 260 urban gardens across Singapore. The gardens also serve as an inclusive community hub, providing green spaces for people to learn and connect with nature.
Seeing massive amounts of fresh produce thrown away in Singapore’s wet markets motivated Han Jing to help reduce food waste. She started composting seven years ago, when she was still a student at Nanyang Technological University.
Family and friends soon followed suit, composting and reducing their own food waste. Han Jing also grows her own food and promotes native edible plants and sustainable soil farming. She teaches others how to “grow consciously, cook consciously, and trash consciously” through her web platform and social media handle, Little Green Chef.
Agung founded Surplus, an app that enables food retailers to sell their overstock or imperfect products to help limit food waste in Indonesia. Indonesia is the second-largest producer of food waste per capita in the world, producing around 23-48 million tons of food waste per year.
This amount of food can feed 61 to 125 million people. Food loss and waste also contribute to around 7.29 per cent of Indonesia’s average greenhouse gas emissions and correspond to 213 to 551 trillion Indonesian rupiah in annual economic losses.
Kotchakorn Voraakhom is on a mission to save her hometown, Bangkok, from the worst of environmental degradation. Armed with a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Harvard University in the United States, Kotch established a landscape architecture firm, Landprocess, to pursue her aesthetic goal of blending modern design with natural systems. She also founded Porous City Network, a social enterprise that focuses on addressing urban environmental problems in cities across Southeast Asia by engaging local communities.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have restricted mobility for most of us who live in ASEAN’s bustling cities, but the reality is we still have to travel within our city’s confines using private or public transport. We sleep and wake up to inescapable sounds of vehicles rumbling by. We go about our lives inhaling air pollutants spewed by a constant stream of vehicles plying our streets.
Dr. Non A serves in the Smart City Promotion Department of Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency, where he advocates the concept and practice of smart cities. He specialises in the use of human-centred design to solve pressing open-ended problems. Having lived and worked overseas, he is constantly inspired by design, qualitative research, and behavioural economics. Originally trained as an architect, he holds a doctorate in anthropology from Harvard University.
Dr. Non A talks to The ASEAN about how digital connectivity transforms and builds sustainable cities, and what Southeast Asian countries can do to maximise its benefits, close the digital divide, and overcome other barriers.
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