About: the world this week, 12 June to 18 June 2022, the put-in war, a Queen holds on to the throne, Monkeys poke respect, Whisky Wars, Army recruitment, trains go private, drinking tea in the neighbourhood, a day off on an island, and murder in the kitchen.
The Fighting Rages
Russia is now in command of most of the city of Severodonetsk following a month of intense fighting. Taking Severodonetsk and the nearby city of Lysychansk would give Russia control of the entire Luhansk region of Ukraine, which seems to be the only achievable goal for Russia at the moment. Of course, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin still makes the usual noises of being forced to start the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine. And that it was aimed at protecting ‘his people’ – the people of Ukraine’s Donbas – and then repeating his unfounded accusation that ‘his people’ were being subject to genocide. Iron-cold rationalisation at its steely best?
Meanwhile, this week, the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Romania visited Ukraine’s capital Kyiv in a show of solidarity with President Zelensky. They also visited the devastated town of Irpin, near Kyiv, which for several weeks was occupied by Russia, to see first hand the brutal effects of the war. The visit culminated with the leaders supporting Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union (EU)- a big vote of confidence for Ukraine.
A few weeks ago, France’s President stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest, when he said it was vital that Russia is not humiliated over its invasion, suggesting that Russia should have a way out of what he called a ‘fundamental error’ (by Russia).
Later in the week, the European Commission backed Ukraine’s bid to be given candidacy status to join the EU. Candidacy is a significant step as the entire process may take years to fruity into membership.
Then at the end of the week, Britain’s Prime Minister must have felt left-out, as he made a surprise dash to Ukraine – his second visit – to show support and see the handsome, bulging muscles of Ukraine’s President.
The Queen’s Gambit
This week Britain’s 96 years old Queen Elizabeth II sprinted ahead of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej to become the world’s second-longest reigning monarch in history. Up ahead on the curve is France’s King Louis XIV who holds the record for the longest reigning monarch with a 72 year and 110 day reign from 1643 until 1715. He had a head start, becoming King at age 4. Thailand’s King reigned for 70 years and 126 days from 1927 to 2016.
Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne occurred on 6 February 1952, following the death of her father, King George VI. The coronation took place on 2 June 1953 – after the official mourning period – in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
The Queen became the longest serving British monarch in September 2015, surpassing her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria. Now, the Queen has been sitting tight on the throne for over 70 years and 127 days.
I wish England’s Queen makes it past France’s King. Wonder what gambit the Queen has in her royal mind?
Monkeys can finally breathe easy: they could have been planning to go on a stone-throwing protest strike across continents against defaming their name. Never mind the Indian bulldozer, they legally live in the forests paying their oxygen and carbon-dioxide taxes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) heard, says it is working with experts to come up with a new name for monkeypox. This comes after many scientists wrote last week about the ‘urgent need for a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatising’ name for the virus and the money pox disease it causes. Continued reference to the virus as African is both inaccurate and discriminatory, they said. Some 1,600 cases of the disease have been recorded globally in recent weeks.
One new name that’s been suggested by scientists is hMPXV, but we’ll need to wait to hear what the WHO thinks of that.
What next? The chickens may protest against chickenpox…and the mighty spade itself, against being called a dead-pan spade?
Hans Island is a desolate, kidney shaped piece of rock in the Arctic, measuring 1290 metres(m) by 1199 m. It is located in the about 35 km wide Nares Strait between the northernmost point of Canada and Greenland, part of Denmark’s kingdom. The uninhabited Island has no mineral resources nor much else of interest unless you are visiting a lucky seabird siting on the rock.
Both Canada and Greenland sit 18 km away from Hans Island, allowing them to claim the rock under international law.
But in the year 1984 Canada made a bold stake for ownership when it landed troops on the rock. It swiftly planted its maple leaf flag and buried a bottle of Canadian whisky, before returning home to a country now larger to the tune of over one square kilometre.
In the same year, Denmark’s minister of Greenland affairs couldn’t let such a provocation stand. Weeks later he set off for Hans Island, where he replaced the offending Canadian flag with a Danish flag and a bottle of Copenhagen’s finest schnapps. But he went one step further than the Canadians had, proudly leaving a note that read: ‘Welcome to Danish Island’.
And so the ‘Whisky Wars’ commenced.
Over the following 49 years, dozens of Canadians and Danes took part in the ritual and successive expeditions from Ottawa and Copenhagen have braved icy conditions to plant bottles of alcohol on the tiny 1.2 square kilometre (sq.km) rock.
Finally, in 2018, the countries decided to establish a joint working group to resolve the dispute, ending their decades-long ‘agree to disagree’ policy. And decided to settle the dispute at a later date.
This week, Denmark and Canada finally struck a deal to settle almost 50 years of good-natured squabbling over the ownership of the island: officials have agreed to divide the outpost roughly in half.
The deal will be signed once both countries grant parliamentary approval and will see the island split along a naturally occurring cleft on the rocky outcrop, according to a deal published by the Danish foreign ministry.
Once signed off, Canada and Denmark would have established the world’s longest maritime border at 3,882 km.
I hope it becomes a rock solid agreement: cheers to that!
Agnipath: The Tour of Duty
This week India announced a revolutionary, transformational, and far-reaching ‘Agnipath Scheme’ of recruiting ‘boys and girls’ between the ages of 17.5 and 23 years for a four-year stint in the Armed Forces. They will be given military training, based on the Force’s requirements.
About 46,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen will be enrolled between September and October this year on an all-India, all-class basis. After four years, 25% of the ‘Agniveers’- as they will be called – will be absorbed in the regular cadre and the rest released to pursue a non-military civilian life. During the four years in the Armed Forces, Agniveers will be paid a respectable stipend and associated perks. And those leaving will be provided with skill certificates and an accrued Corpus Fund to pursue other careers. India’s youth are given a chance for both long and short duration military service and to serve the nation at the highest level. The regular military recruitment scheme will drill on undisturbed.
The objective is to lower the age of the Armed Forces- with induction of youth, lower the pension budget, and provide a means of selecting and retaining the very best in the Defence Forces.
My thoughts: The Armed Forces training will bring in much-needed discipline, which is seriously lacking in India- and make men and women out of our boys and girls. It is the nearest to compulsory military service and being a four-year stint it would provide youngsters an opportunity to decide what they want to do with their lives besides an honour to serve the nation. And, once released into society they will be a silent force of protection for themselves and the communities they live in. The best part would be, say in an Ukraine-Russia situation we would have enough Agniveers around who could take up the charge if needed. The scheme has been introduced by the three Service Chiefs – Army, Navy, and Airforce after solid deliberation: I’m sure they always have the nation’s best interests in the cross-hairs. I trust them. Lets embrace the path of Agnipath.
India’s First Private Train
In November 2021, India came up with an idea called ‘Bharat Gaurav’ (India’s Pride) of allowing private players to operate trains belonging to the Government’s Indian Railways in a theme-based tourism circuit: with places, routes, stops, and tariffs, among other things, being entirely at the discretion of the Private Operator. The intent is to provide people in India and visiting foreign tourists a means of exploring the country’s rich cultural heritage and historical places in a comfortable well-managed set-up.
The trains can be leased for a period of two years with interiors refurbishment, housekeeping, catering, security, ticket booking services, etc., being the responsibility of the Private Operator. And policing work will be done by private security personnel in coordination with the existing Railway Protection Force. A Train Captain and a Train Doctor will also be on board along with a radio jockey manning a sound system, to keep the tourists in ‘loud spirits’.
This week the first ever private train under the Bharat Gaurav Scheme, operating between Coimbatore North Station in Tamilnadu and the Holy Town of Shirdi in Maharashtra was flagged off with stops at Tiruppur, Erode, Salem, Yelahanka, Dharmavaram, Mantralayam Road, and Wadi. During the onward journey from Coimbatore, the Train stops at Mantralayam Road station for 5 hours to facilitate worship at the Mantralayam Temple.
South Star Rail is the Private Operator, which got its hands on the wheels to run the train. It paid INR 10 million as security deposit to Southern Railways for a 20 coach rake, consisting of First, Second, and Third Class air-conditioned coaches, normal Sleeper coaches, two luggage-cum-brake cars and one pantry car.
Over to a scheme-filled India. Take the ride and pray!
Skipping Sipping Tea in Pakistan
Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves are falling rapidly – currently enough for fewer than two months of all imports – and one of its senior Ministers Ahsan Iqbal came up with a drinking idea.
People in Pakistan have been asked to reduce the amount of tea they drink to keep the country’s economy afloat. Sipping fewer cups a day would cut Pakistan’s high import bills feels the Minister. He said, “I appeal to the nation to cut down the consumption of tea by one to two cups because we import tea on loan”. He also suggested that Business traders should close their market stalls at 10.30 pm to save electricity.
Pakistan is the world’s largest importer of tea, buying more than USD 600 million worth last year. Now its lips are trying to skip many a sip!
An Extra Day Off in Sri Lanka
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is giving government officials an extra day off a week, to encourage them to grow food, amid fears of a food shortage, as it navigates its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years. The Island Nation has about one million public sector employees.
The decision is to help workers, who are facing difficulties getting to work due to fuel shortages. Also to encourage them to grow fruit and vegetables, to help feed themselves and their families by engaging in agricultural activities in the backyards of their houses, or elsewhere. This is seen as a possible solution to the food shortage that is expected to occur in the future. Ultimately, I reckon, it’s best we fend for ourselves: generate our own solar power, grown our own food, or make our own things, and return to the days of bartering – in kind.
How to Murder Your Husband
Many years ago, Nancy Crampton Brophy, 71, a self-publishing author whose works of steamy romance and suspense novels such as ‘The Wrong Husband’ and ‘The Wrong Lover’ wrote an essay titled ‘How to murder your husband’. Well, she took herself seriously, did just that and was convicted of murdering her husband last month.
This week a jury found her guilty of second degree murder when that she shot her husband of 26 years, in 2018 for a USD 1.5 million Life insurance pay-out. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Her late husband, Daniel Brophy, was a chef and respected teacher at the Oregon Culinary Institute, Oregon State, United States. He was found dead – shot twice- in the kitchen of the Institute, in 2018.
The Wrong Wife; How to Break Out of Prison?
More tizzy stories about world schemes coming up in the weeks ahead. Don’t shoot, live in peace with World Inthavaaram.