About this Article:
‘Inthavaaram’ is a literal English Translation of the Tamil ‘This (Intha) Week’ (Vaaram)’.
In ‘World Inthavaaram’ I have collected news from all over the World, during the week – in a backstage inventory, in my corner of the World, Tamil Nadu, India – cherry-picking, and stringing together happenings that I think are interesting, and worth knowing about. I might add a ‘My Opinion’ paragraph at the end of a news item, which is entirely my own uninfluenced analysis, based on the facts and data available in the public domain. The intent is to give you – the Reader – a direction to form your own opinion.
My opinions can change, as I learn more and grow in wisdom
I’ll be doing this every week. Hence look out!
“You should treat your marriage like a business that you wouldn’t want to let fail.” – Lisa Ling
This caught my eye, and I co-founded a business with my wife. Well, I work in two dimensions.
This Saturday New Zealand goes to the polls after three years of the Labour Party’s Jacinda Arden labouring in office, during which time the Prime Minister also produced her daughter, Neve Te Aroha, with partner Clarke Gayford. There are as many as seventeen parties contesting and Jacinda Arden is looking good to win, again.
The New Zealand General Election System is interesting and a ‘new’ kind, to most of us in India. The term of the unicameral legislative Parliament, House of Representatives, with about 120 members, is elected for three years based on a Mixed-Member Proportional System. Voters get two votes: one to decide the representative of their Constituency, and one for the Political Party. Seats in the Legislature are filled, first by the successful Constituency candidates, and second by Party candidates based on the percentage of nationwide or regionwise votes each Party receives. Lots of mathematics and equations are involved. Vote with calculators in hand?
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden had done a fabulous job in managing the situation during the terror of the Christchurch Mosque Shooting, in March last year. She banned military style semi-automatics, within a month of the incident, and quickly loaded gun-control laws. The Australian supremacist aged 29 – Jacinda declared she will never mention his name – who was caught in the act and arrested soon after was found guilty of murdering 51 people and for attempted murder of another 40. He was promptly sentenced to a life in prison-without parole- until death, in a never before punishment handed-out in New Zealand (New Zealand does not have Capital Punishment).
With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the World, Jacinda Arden worked with surgical precision and dug-deep into her natural Maori skills to ward off infections in New Zealand, defeating the coronavirus with scientific weapons: remember she banned the guns, earlier this year! New Zealand has not had a case in near about three weeks at the time of this article.
She might not have kept all of her poll promises but acted decisively when it mattered the most, to safeguard the Country; kept her cool and remained unruffled in the face of multiple crises – including an Earthquake, which she just shrugged-off. That’s a Leader, we can all look up to.
My opinion: Vote for Jacinda Arden. She comes across as someone naturally made for the job. And yes, she can ‘deliver’ – one more time.
Even while writing this article news comes in that she is heading for a Landslide win – much deserved.
They could vote to exit the European Union but are ‘unable to vote’ to get the coronavirus exit the Country. With a terrific surge in positive infection cases over the recent weeks PM Boris Johnson announced a new series of three-tier lockdowns: medium, high and very high, with varying restrictions. Will the virus be fooled by these tricks? Depends on the British.
The United States
I enjoyed US President, Donald Trump, being put on the mat by NBC News Anchor Savannah Guthrie in a Town Hall meeting ahead of the 3rd November Presidential Elections. She effortlessly found the chinks in Trump’s armour of arrogance and shot arrows to every Achilles heel.
My Opinion: Vote for the Biden-Harris combo. They are the ones who can ‘scientifically’ make America great again.
The Deluge – where is Noah’s Ark?
Looking back over the years, the then undivided State of Andra Pradesh was a favourite ‘pouring ground’ for the Storms, Winds, and Rains of the season, battering the invitingly attractive long coast-line, year-after-year. Then, the Government woke-up and set-up The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), in the year 2005, to tackle these forces of nature and continuously monitor the lines. Ever since the NDMA has been doing a fabulous job in a proactive manner, evacuating people on sensing danger, using modern ‘spy’ and predictive techniques.
Meanwhile, Nature grew in wisdom and moved indoors mauling the newly-born divided States of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, with unprecedented rains, inundating residential areas, leaving many dead and several in need of relief and rescue. Horrifying videos of people being washed away and vehicles quietly sailing like coming-to-the-surface submarines or hippos were flooding our TV, Computer and Mobile screens. The the swirling currents of water, the flooding, and water logging was unbelievably severe, and dozens of People Colonies went under water.
I guess, we lost our periscopes on storm water drainage systems and flood management. This is a wake-up call.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) classifies rainfall between 115.6 mm and 204.4 mm as ‘very heavy’. About 23 areas in Telangana’s Hyderabad had received over 205 mm of rainfall in 24 hours, with an average of 192 mm: this is the highest rainfall that the city has received in decades. That’s the scale of the ‘indoor’ rains. I guess the NDMA has to quickly learn to toast the ‘coast’ on the land.
Costume Change: Bhanu Athaiya
India’s first Oscar Award Winner, celebrated Bollywood costume designer Bhanu Athaiya died at the age of 91 in a Mumbai Hospital after a prolonged illness fighting a brain tumour.
She won an Oscar for her work in Richard Attenborough’s much acclaimed film, Gandhi, in 1983, which she shared with John Mollo, who designed Gandhi, Ben Kingsley’s, loincloth, among other things. Bhanu ensured that Kasturba was nearby, with her flowing saris.
The story goes that she was given the job within 15 minutes of her audition, in 1982. She had returned the Award to the Academy, for safe keeping, in 2012. ‘People may mishandle the trophy, so it’s best to return it to the Academy’, she said. That was naked foresight.
Bhanu Athaiya was born in Kolhapur Maharashtra, one of seven children. She was married to film lyricist Satyendra Athaiya who passed away in 2004. The couple had separated, before his death, and have one daughter.
She has worked on more than 100 movies debuting with Raj Khosla’s hit movie ‘ CID’ in 1956 and went on to clothe movies such as Jonny Mera Naam, Satyam Sivam Sundaram (this one we remember, Zeenat Aman wearing nothing much other than a precariously clinging sari), Waqt, Chandin, Lagaan, Swades.
She wrote a book called, The Art of Costume Design, published by Harper Collins where she put-down her ideas, for future generations. Time to grab a copy?
Advertisement of Unity in Diversity – get your finger off the gold?
Jewellery brand Tanishq of Titan withdrew a commercial featuring an interfaith marriage from social media and television following a severe online backlash. The forth-five second advertisement for the “Ekatvam (Unity)- the beauty of oneness” collection showed a Muslim family throwing a traditionally South Indian Hindu baby shower for their pregnant Hindu daughter-in-law.
The daughter-in-law says, “But these rituals aren’t celebrated in your home,” and the mother-in-law replies, “But the ritual of making daughters happy is in every home.”
My Opinion: Faith is a matter of personal choice and best left to the individual and the families involved. A coming together of faiths is to be celebrated and a jewel in the crown for a diverse society such as India. This is what Tanishq show-cased. I saw the advertisement many times over and could not find a wrong angle. Take it – the jewels – or leave it. Outsiders have no business making inferences, or trying to hide the shine.
Sports: Tennis played like Cricket
In The French Open Men’s Finals played on Sunday, Spain’s Rafael Nadal continued to ruthlessly dominate Roland Garros with a masterly win over World No.1, Serbian Novak Djokovic. The score board read, 6-0, 6-2, 7-5, which tells us that there was a feeble sign of a fight-back, by his opponent, at the end, but it wasn’t good enough. With this win Nadal has won the French Open for an unprecedented 13th time, rising to the level of another great, Roger Federer’s all time mark of 20 major titles. He also hit a century of match wins on this clay surface. Who said you can hit centuries only in Cricket? I guess, the wicked clay of Roland Garros has a soft spot for Nadal. This story will be acing the camp-fires for time to come.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 Cricket Tournament is ‘bowling-on’ in The Unite Arab Emirates (UAE), and by the weekend, Match No 34 would have been played. We all need to field and watch the sixes light-up the skies until the Final, which will happen in early November. With Knight Riders, Kings, Royals, Challengers, Sunrisers, Superkings, and the kind running about in the Desert, it’s one hell of a Game.
Last count: Mumbai Indian are ‘head-ing’ the points table followed by Dehli Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Kings XI Punjab are ‘tail-ing’, at the bottom.
The Nobel Prizes, again.
Economics Sciences is not an ‘original Nobel Prize’ endowed by Alfred Nobel in his will, when he founded the Nobel Prizes. It was established by Sweden’s Central Bank and has been awarded since 1969 in memory of the nobleness of Alfred Nobel. The prize for economics is officially known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences, However the nomination process, section criteria and awarding is done in a similar manner as are the original Nobel Prizes.
This year, American Economists Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson, of Stanford University, have been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in economics for their contributions in “improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats”.
Does auction ring a bell? Let me explain:The citation says that they have used their insights to design new auction formats for goods and services that are difficult to sell in a traditional was, such as radio frequencies. Now, we are near to understanding. Let’s pull it a bit more. Remember, the 2G Scam in India where second generation licences for mobile networks were given at throwaway prices (read as, in exchange for bribes) instead of carrying out free and fair auctions? India, at that time had a brilliant ‘Economist’ Prime Minister who instead of calling-up Stanford University for ’auction advice’, listened to the down-the-street voices of coalition dharma’ politics. Wish this invention had happened sooner?
In Iowa State, USA, a female employee can legally be fired for being too attractive.
Sometimes, trying to be beautiful with come-hither make-up, is definitely unattractive. Dress for the occasion is a golden saying.
Tourism: The Great Wall of India
We all know, only too well, about The Great Wall of China. Do you know about the Great Wall of India? It’s India’s shame that we have some of the best Tourist Spots in the World and care a damn, to talk about them, to highlight them, and spread the word about them. I’m trying to breach the ‘fort wall’ of such an Indian attitude.
India’s Great Wall is the spectacular Kumbhalgarh Fort Wall, which according to the Guinness Book of World Records is the ‘Longest Fort Wall’ in the world. And it is the second longest wall in the World – only after the China Wall. The wall stretches for 36 km along the range of Aravalli hills, Rajasmand District, in Rajasthan about 100km from Udaipur, and is about 15m wide, broad enough for eight horses to stand abreast.
Legend has it that the original Fort was built by King Samprati, grandson of Emperor Ashoka in the 6th Century. However The Kumbhalgarh Wall and Fort as it stands today was built by Rana Kumbha of the Mewar Kingdom in the 15th Century. It is one of the few Forts in India which was never conquered and remained invincible except once when the combined armies of Emperor Akbar and Raja Udai Singh attacked the fort: it actually fell due to lack of drinking water rather than the force of the attack. The Fort was designed by one of the most famous Architects of that period, called Mandan.
The legendary Maharan Pratap – Pratap Singh – The King of Mewar, was believed to be born in Kumbhalgarh.
My Opinion: Once this pandemic is more under control we should get our travel bags ready and visit the many inspirational tourist spots in India. Before that while we are in various phases of lockdown it’s best that we learn more about our History and make a list of places to visit. And talk about them to our children and grandchildren. We must strive to make India the greatest Tourist Destination the World has ever known. Let’s do it!
One of the most important messages from the Global Burden of Disease, 2019 – a Lancet study which brings together the most comprehensive data and analysis of worldwide trends in global health – is that over the past decade the world has done a poor job of reducing harmful risks and this is fuelling a global chronic disease crisis. While communicable diseases are causing less illness, disability and death than in the past – leave alone the COVID19 pandemic – chronic diseases are on the rise,”
What do we do? Three things: Eat Well, Sleep Well and Exercise Well. And follow the basic principles of nutrition, recommend by Experts, which are easily summarized, again, in three things (‘Three’ seems to be good number to play around with):
- Eat a wide variety of foods. Because food plants and animals differ in nutrient composition, variety ensures the full complement of needed nutrients. They say insects are the new food, flying around these days!
- Eat relatively unprocessed foods. These contain nutrients but do not have excessive amounts of added sugars, fats, salt, and calories. Stay close to natural foods – and eat them, before someone else does!
- Eat in moderation. Meaning keep your calorie intake balanced with calorie needs. Say you go cycling every day, like my son does in London, you make and keep a list of foods that can keep you hooked to your cycle and prevents you from falling off.
Over to you: start practicing your eating and focus on staying alive this year 2020. Have another great week ahead.