Biannual review December 2011

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Eucalyptus - Happy New Year! - Created by Shwetank Verma
Almond - Happy New Year! - Created by Shwetank Verma
Amla - Happy New Year! - Created by Shwetank Verma
Saffron - Happy New Year! - Created by Shwetank Verma

Dear friends,

On behalf of the entire Project Brahma team, I (Gaurav Moghe) would like to wish you a very happy new year! Please find a few volunteer-made e-cards alongside this message and feel free to share them with your friends.

I hope you have been keeping track of the new developments at Project Brahma. This page is intended to provide you a review of the things we have been working on the past six months. I hope you will take some to read through, provide feedback and most importantly, contribute to our citizen-driven project. Following are some of the recent developments.

Contributors over the last six months

  • Gaurav Moghe
  • Shwetank Verma
  • Alok Watve
  • Pradnya Malandkar
  • Madhuri Y
  • Dr. Rajinikanth Mohan
  • Dr. Daya Tilwe

Major developments

Platform upgrade

  • Moved from Siteground as our primary host to Dreamhost. Dreamhost is more reputed, green and has better support. (Gaurav, Alok)
  • Changed the URL of our flagship portal to to make the name of the portal more relevant to our mission. "Project Brahma" is now the name of the umbrella project housing three media - the BOI website, our Facebook page and our Twitter account.
  • Upgraded our website from Mediawiki 1.15 to Mediawiki 1.17. This upgrade significantly increases speed of loading web pages and fixes some security issues. (Gaurav, Alok)

New sections

  • We significantly expanded the scope of the two existing sections - Division:Plants and Division:Mammals. We decided to focus on ~1000 commercially traded medicinal plants and ~350 mammalian species. We made extensive use of APIs from global biodiversity databases to populate species pages on BOI. We are in the process of fine-tuning these species pages.
  • Keeping in tune with our mission to document the cultural aspects of India's biodiversity, we started two new sections
1) Division:Community pages.
As of today, this section has ~40 articles related to importance of biodiversity in Indian culture. Articles were contributed by Gaurav Moghe, Shwetank Verma, Rajinikanth Mohan, Madhuri Y and Dr. Daya Tilwe. We welcome additional contributions from everyone (See Guidelines for writers).
2) Division:Videos.
We collected over 100 videos from over the web - Youtube, Google Videos, Dailymotion, Vimeo - related to environment and biodiversity. Our belief is videos are a powerful way of communicating knowledge. Some people have already provided us feedback that the video library is quite helpful.
Page titleTopicState discussed, if anySpecies group, if any
Wolf in Indian cultureMythology and religionPan-IndiaMammals
Why the Ketaki flower was cursed by godsMythological storiesPan-IndiaPlants
Why Lord Ganesha has a mouse as his vehicleMythology and religionPan-IndiaMammals
Warli tribe and their tribal artTribal mythologyPan-IndiaNot noted
Varaha (boar) avatar of VishnuMythological storiesPan-IndiaMammals
… further results

Currently, there is a total of 65 articles in our database. For the complete list, click on further results on the bottom right corner of the table above.

  • We also created a section called Reference Library. This includes a listing of all PDFs, books, blogs, government documents, websites, issue-specific news articles, NGOs etc. related to biodiversity/environment. Registered volunteers can add to these lists themselves.


  • Our Facebook page has attracted over 180 followers. Each of our posts is seen by over 100 followers. Although this is a tiny number, given we are a small, newborn organization, it is quite encouraging. We hope to double our number of followers in the next six months. (Shwetank Verma)
  • We started an initiative of highlighting the work of different Indian NGOs through our Facebook page. This activity attracted a lot of positive feedback and a lot of good work of different NGOs got highlighted. We were able to reach out to over 15 NGOs through this activity. (Shwetank Verma)
  • Our Twitter account is followed by around 60 followers. We plan to increase this number in the coming months.
  • We presented our work in a panel discussion organized by the Western Ghats Portal in November, 2011. Supriya Khedkar live-tweeted through the entire event. Several good points were raised in the panel discussion and the need for collaborative sharing of data was discussed by various participants.

Current projects

  • We are working on significantly expanding the Division:Community pages. This includes writing a couple of paragraphs about the relationship between a particular aspect of biodiversity and how it relates to the human society. For example, we have documented stories of indigenous tribes, of endangered species, mythological stories and uses of different organisms. If you are interested in contributing, please contact me at gauravmoghe at projectbrahma dot org. Also check our Guidelines for writers.
  • We are writing PHP scripts - Bots - to automate the process of filling in information on the species pages. This would enable easy updating of data and maintaining a higher quality database. (Alok)
  • We are working to finalize a logo for our website. Pradnya Malandkar, a designer working at IITB School of Design, has been taking the lead in creating various mockups.
  • In the coming future, we would be working to develop online learning modules and quizzes related to biodiversity and environment focused on schools.
  • We are actively seeking funding by writing grant proposals and building up a rainy-day fund. If you are interested in donating anything upwards of $10, please contact shwetankverma at projectbrahma dot org.

We sincerely hope that you find this website - which is as much yours as it is ours - useful. Please do take some time in providing us feedback on how we are doing. I also hope that you continue contributing and supporting our initiatives in the coming days and months.




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