About: This is a story, told from my perspective, on what happened this week, in our World.
On 9th January 2021, Sriwijaya Air flight SJY 182, a 26 year old Boeing 737-500 aircraft, took off from Jakarta, Indonesia, on a routine flight – usually 90 minutes – to Pontianak, in the West Kalimantan province of the Island of Borneo. In a few minutes after take-off the plane climbed to a height of 11000 feet when suddenly it dropped to about 3000 feet, in less than a minute, and then unexpectedly crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 50 passengers and 12 crew members. This included seven children and three babies. The plane has a capacity of 130, and all people on-board the flight were Indonesian. The reason for the crash is unclear and the black boxes, both of which have been found and retrieved, are being analysed to find answers.
Indonesian rescuers have pulled body parts, clothing and scraps of metal from the Java Sea on Sunday morning thereby confirming the crash. And search operations are in full swing.
This is only the 5th accident for Sriwijaya and the first involving onboard deaths. On 27 August 2008, Boeing 737-200, Flight 62 overran the runway at Jambi, Sumatra, striking and killing a farmer in a nearby hut who was taking shelter from the rain.
Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago nation, with a population of more than 260 million people. Sriwijaya Air, established on 10 November 2003, is Indonesia’s third largest Domestic, Budget Airline operating from its hub at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Indonesia. It flies people to about 53 destinations within Indonesia and three regional countries.
Air travel is inherently risky and Airline Operators adopt some of the best safety measures available in any mode of human transportation. We can only wish and hope technology further improves and evolves to minimise the chances of an accident off this magnitude.
Going back in time, Srivijaya (written as Sri Vijaya or Sriwijaya) is a Sanskrit derived name meaning ‘prosperous victor’. The name is based on an historical Indonesian Buddhist thalassocracy (ie. primarily maritime realms, seaborne empire) based in Sumatra, Indonesia between the 8th and 12th century. It was the first unified Kingdom, in the region, to dominate much of the Malay Archipelago.
History says that in a rare case of India attacking another country, the Chola King, Rajendra Chola-I, son of the great RajaRaja Chola, of India’s Tamilnadu invaded the Srivijaya Kingdom and brought it to its knees to accept the Chola suzerainty. The provocation was said to be disputes over trade routes by the Srivijya Kingdom affecting a flourishing trade between the Cholas and the Chinese. And the Cholas had an awesome fleet of warships at that time with much of sea-coast under their control. Rajendra Chola-I, one of the greatest Kings of India, expanded the Chola Empire like none before him taking it to the banks of the Ganges in North India and across the Bay of Bengal. The Chola Empire’s territories extended to coastal Burma, the Andaman & Nicobar Island, Lakshawadeep, Maldives, Sumatra, Java, Malaya, and neighbouring Sri Lanka, during his reign between 1014 and 1044 CE.
The Cholas have been one of my all-time favourites with fabulous achievements to their credit. Theirs was a great Empire, and it is distressing to learn that very little is written and known about them in India. And I hope that I have ignited a ‘kind of spark’ here.
Reeling from the aircraft disaster, Indonesia was struck again, this time by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake, on Friday morning, on the Island of Sulwesi, leaving at least 30 dead. This came just hours after an earlier, smaller tremor. Hundreds of people were injured and thousands displaced by the quake.
Disaster never comes alone? It brings along its brothers, sisters and cousins, I guess!
Reggae singer, pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine, aged 38, – real name, Robert Kyagulanyi – hopes to unseat long-serving Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who has been in power of near about 35 years, since the fall of Dictator Idi Amin. And is one of the world’s most despised Dictators. Museveni is seeking a sixth term in the Elections being held on 14th January and besides Bobi Wine there are nine other challengers in the fray.
Over the last two decades Bobi Wine has written and sung songs about improving basic needs in Uganda: access to healthcare, education, clean water, and justice, which music he wishes to string into a Presidential win.
Bobi Wine’s mother was a nurse who worked to bring bread to the table, and bought land in Kampala’s Kamwokya slum where Bobi built his world-famous recording studio. This has earned Bobi Wine the title of ’Ghetto President’ with the run for the presidency.
His song, ‘Tuliyambala Engule‘ (We shall wear the Victor’s Crown) has become one of the campaign’s unofficial themes.
There has never been a peaceful handover of power in Uganda. The Government has suspended social media and internet services during the Elections. Counting is underway, and we hope to hear a new reggae music album hit the Ugandan Charts. Will it be ‘wine’ for the celebrations? Early counting results show President Museveni leading, and results may be declared in the coming days. Let the music play on. Uganda’s national bird, the grey crowned crane, looking down from this week’s doodle, will make its pick, for sure.
The United States of America (USA), again.
On 13 January, The USA executed the first woman, Lisa Montgomery, 52, in nearly 70 years, since 1953. She was the only woman on a death row and was executed by lethal injection at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Lisa Montgomery was sentenced to death in 2008 for the murder of a pregnant woman, cutting the fetus out and kidnapping it, in the year 2004. The baby survived.
The US Supreme Court denied a last-ditch effort by the Defense Attorneys who argued that she should have been given a competency hearing to prove her severe mental illness, which would have made her ineligible for the death penalty.
Meanwhile, we are not done with President Donald Trump who on Wednesday was impeached a second time for instigating the horrible insurrection riots of Capitol Hill, in a culmination of a ‘I do not accept the Presidential Election Results – the Election was stolen from me’ attitude. This is the first-ever US President to be impeached twice, and that too in a single term. Now, the Senate should decide whether to throw him out of Office, which is unlikely as it requires a 2/3rds majority vote. He might live to see another Election having escaped the jaws of justice twice over?
I’m disappointed with the Republicans for failing to control this ‘Bull in an American Shop’. The ten Republicans who broke ranks and voted to impeach the President have the conscience, which others don’t.
Looking up, a lot for firsts are being added to American History. Make America great, again?
Test Cricket Down Under
Playing traditional Test Cricket with Australia, in Australia, India was horribly ‘ground under’, badly mauled in the first test, losing it with what looked like a ‘mobile number score card’ in the second innings. Then it started climbing from the down and clawed back to a superb win in the second test to level the series 1-1. Now in the third test India showed sublime steely defiance to bat out the final day and draw the match-chasing an unlikely 407 runs to win. India got to a score of 334 with five wickets down in an incredible performance, which will go down in Indian Test Cricket History as one of the best fight-backs.
There’s a deciding fourth match coming up in the Test Series and the Winner can still take it all. With Indian Captain Virat Kohli taking ‘baby leave’ (It’s a girl) filling-in Captain Ajinkya Rahane, is becoming man enough to lead the Team, milking the Australian muscle.
India is beginning to roll out one of the biggest Vaccination drives in the world with the precious Vaccines, stored cold, being dispatched to various destinations across India. The first vaccination is expected to happen on the 16th January.
I say, get that arm ready for the punch!
Data Security and Breaches
This is a topic on a high these days with people debating on which messenger service to move to after the very popular Facebook owned WhatsApp announced some fat changes in its Privacy & Data sharing Rules between its Companies, to take effect from 8 February 2021. Who reads the legal-jargon fully loaded-fine print anyway before ticking ‘I accept’? Suddenly, there was a scramble to discover other messenger Apps with leaner terms & conditions. My College Group hunted down Signal after initially tinkering with Telegram, and we are moving to new data highways.
Meanwhile, in a data breach unprecedented in its scale in India, a large multi-speciality private Hospital in Kerala had all of its patients’ records of the last five years leaked on to the internet. These were records of Medical Test Results, Scans, Prescriptions, etc., searchable by a unique patient ID.
The Government too was caught napping, when in early January this year there was a story on a technology portal about how details of COVID-19 test results of tens of thousands of patients were leaked on the internet through multiple Government of Delhi domains.
How does this happen? Most common ways are, criminal hacking, human error, malware, unauthorised use, social engineering, etc.
What do we do to prevent data breaches from happening? Some tips are: Limit access to valuable data, conduct employee security awareness training, company-wide, update software regularly, encrypt data, and develop a cyber breach. Keep updating that software on your Mobile Phones, Computers and other software driven electronic devices.
My golden rule is, engage with social media ‘fully dressed’ and undress yourself only when you are at home. Share, and ‘show things’ that you would like everyone in this world to see and don’t mind it… and keep all other things to yourself.
It was a tiring day, after close-of-work I had a hot shower-allowing the steam to caress the skin and soften the body, and then decided I deserved to reward myself with a good movie. I switched on Netflix and after the mandatory flirting through a cornucopia of movie choices opened the curtain on Rajiv Menon’s inspirational 2019 Tamil movie ‘Sarvam Thaalamayam’ (rhythms everywhere) starring music director G V Prakash as the hero, Peter Johnson. G V Prakash? Oops, I had never seen him act in a movie before this. Never mind, let the film roll.
It’s a story about a famous mridangam player named Vembu Iyer – strung impeccably by the great Malayalam Film Actor, Nedumudi Venu – and his student Peter Johnson, son of a poor expert mridangam maker. Peter is a diehard fan of Actor Vijay with innate music skills, which he displays to wide acclaim on the streets, when celebrating the film openings of his hero. While delivering a mridangam to the maestro Vembu Iyer, playing on Stage, he is enthralled by the scene and decides to learn from the master himself. The movie is about finding one’s calling and relentlessly trying to achieve it after various up & downs. The heroine, Sara, is a nurse who besides the actual nursing job, including treating Peter on first contact (falling in love is a must) when he gets injured in a street brawl, nurses the talent of Peter. She encourages him to learn from the ‘beats of nature’ if he is unable to find himself a Teacher, when Vembu Iyer throws him out over a misunderstanding. The movie is about how Peter gets back to Vembu Iyer, finishes his training and comes out beating the mridangam on his own. Many memorable performances by the cast. Watch it for the motivation.
More stories, coming-up, in the weeks ahead.