About –the stories of the world this week, 18 September to 24 September 2022: the end of an era; veiling beauty; bluffing a war; fortified food; and a new golf hero.


A Final Journey

The State Funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II was held on Monday, this week. The monarch was lying in state in London’s Westminster Abbey since Wednesday as Heads of State, and the general public filed past her coffin to pay their respects and bid farewell. Long queues were seen along the banks of the River Thames as people waited their turn for that one last glimpse. The Queen died on 8th September while at her summer residence, Balmoral.

The Queen’s State Funeral was the United Kingdom’s first in over half a century. The last one was in 1965, when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was accorded this honour.

Ahead of the final hymn of the funeral service, the Crown Jeweller removed the Imperial Sceptre, the Orb, and the Crown, from the Queen’s coffin and placed them at the Church Altar. And Queen Elizabeth II began her final journey: to Wellington Arch where the Coffin was transferred from the State Gun Carriage to the State Hearse for the last-lap journey to Windsor Castle, where the Queen lived for the last two years of her life.

The Queen was then buried, with her coffin lowered into the Royal Vault, alongside her late husband, Prince Philip, in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, within the St. George’s Chapel of the Windsor Castle premises.

That’s the end of an era!

Anti-Hijab Protests

Mahsa Amini, a 22 years old Kurdish woman from the north-western city of Saqez in Iran was visiting the capital Tehran, with her family, on 13 September 2022. Amini, wearing a long black coat and headscarf was outside a metro station, with her brother, when she was accosted by the Morality Police – known formally as ‘Gasht-e Ershad (Guidance Patrols). They accused her of wearing ‘unsuitable attire’- not strictly following the Islamic Dress Code – and promptly arrested her for breaking the law. She was taken to a Detention Centre and Re-Education Centre where she fell into a coma, shortly after collapsing, and eventually died three days later, on 16 September.

There were reports that the police hit Amini’s head with a baton and banged her head against one of their vehicles. Of course, the police denied and refuted all allegations of mistreatment, and said she suffered ‘sudden heart failure’. But, her family firmly said she was fit and healthy and that she suffered bruises to her legs while in custody. They blamed the Morality Police for her sudden death.

The death sparked widespread anger, with thousands of people taking to the streets, and a series of protests breaking out in Iran. Women across many cities openly challenged the regime by cutting off their hair and burning the hijab, demanding freedom from such archaic laws and disproportionate use of force to enforce them. Iran has not seen this scale of protest and unrest in a very long time.

The United Nations has condemned the death of Amini and demanded an independent investigation on the allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

Going back in time, Iran under the late Shah of Iran was a modern society where women had the freedom to wear ‘suitable clothing’ of their own choice.

Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran imposed a mandatory Islamic Dress Code, requiring all women to wear a headscarf and loose-fitting clothing that would effectively disguise their figures, in public.

The Morality Police were tasked, among other things, with ensuring women conform with the authorities’ interpretation of ‘proper’ clothing. Officers have the power to stop women and assess whether they are showing too much hair; their trousers and overcoats are too short or close-fitting; or they are wearing too much make-up. Punishments for violating the rules include a fine, prison time, or flogging.

Girls, from the age of seven upwards are required to cover their hair, failing which they will not be able to go to school, or get a job.

This is what a free-thinking woman had to say:

“The only crime that Mahsa Amini committed was to be born female in a society led by men. It’s revolting that we still have this shameful treatment towards women in the 21st century. The world is too often led by men who impose rules on how women must speak, eat, think, dress, and even dream! What possible crime did Amini do to receive such a horrific punishment? Was the brightness of her hair blinding someone? How does a head without a religious accessory affect the life of anyone else?”

While all this was happening, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi withdrew from a planned interview with CNN’s chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour at the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, on Wednesday. This after she declined a last-minute demand to wear a headscarf. Amanpour, who grew up in the Iranian capital Tehran and is a fluent Farsi speaker, said that she wears a headscarf while reporting in Iran to comply with the local laws and customs, “otherwise you couldn’t operate as a journalist.” But, she said that she would not cover her head to conduct an interview with an Iranian official outside a country where it is not required. That definitely is a bold stand!

As we Homo Sapiens grow older, instead of getting wiser, are we not becoming more narrow-minded? Look at Afghanistan where girls have been denied the right to education for about a year, since the Taliban came to power, for the only reason that they are female! That basic thing called Freedom, is still a precious die hard word, which we cannot take for granted, after all!

The Bluff Just Got Deeper

This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would be mobilising 300,000 military reservists to serve in Ukraine. He insisted that Russia was merely defending itself and its territories – and that the West did not want to see peace in Ukraine. Amazing ‘eyes wide open blindness!’

However, Ukrainians think this may actually be good for Ukraine as, for all these months, Russia wanted its people to remain distanced from the military campaign: the State will leave you alone so long as you stay away from politics and demonstrate indifference towards the war. The mobilisation might change this. The 300,000 families of the reservists will start to feel the war personally.

The mobilisation move also confirms that Russia will be unable to defend territories it has occupied, without more personnel.

Food Development

Dr. Norman Ernest Borlaug was an American Scientist – Agronomist, who led initiatives worldwide that contributed to ‘big-bang’ increases in agricultural production, resulting in what we all know as ‘The Green Revolution’. Borlaug was awarded multiple honours, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 – for having given a well-founded hope – for a lifetime spent on work to feed a hungry world. Borlaug was often called the ‘Father of the Green Revolution’- that got permanently planted to his name. And is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation. However, Borlaug always emphasised that he himself was only part of a team.

Although a scientist with outstanding contributions, Borlaug’s greatest achievement could perhaps be his relentless struggle to integrate the various streams of agricultural research into viable technologies and to convince political leaders to bring these advances to fruition.

Norman Borlaug obtained a PhD in Plant Protection at the age of 27, and worked in Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s to make the country self-sufficient in grain. He recommended improved methods of cultivation, and developed a robust strain of wheat – Dwarf Wheat – that was adapted to Mexican conditions. By the year 1956, the country had become self-sufficient in wheat. Success in Mexico made Borlaug a much sought-after adviser to countries whose food production was not keeping pace with their population growth. In the mid-1960s, he introduced dwarf wheat into India and Pakistan, and production increased enormously.

The Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, is presented every October of the year in Des Moines, Iowa, by the World Food Prize Foundation. This USD 10,000 Award recognises exceptional, science-based achievement in international agriculture and food production by an individual under the age of 40 years. Awardees are those who emulate the same intellectual courage, stamina, and determination in the fight to eliminate global hunger and poverty, demonstrated by Borlaug as a young scientist. The Award presentation is appropriately held in the historically preserved and environmentally renovated World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. This USD 29.8 million project restored the century-old Des Moines Public Library and transformed it as a special tribute to World Food Prize founder Norman Borlaug.

The individuals chosen to be recipients of the Borlaug Field award are selected by an anonymous international jury, chaired by Dr. W. Ronnie Coffman of Cornell University. Coffman, who was Borlaug’s only doctorate student, serves as a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors.

This year, India’s Dr. Mahalingam Govindaraj, Senior Scientist for Crop Development at HarvestPlus and the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT (International Centre for Tropical Agriculture) has been named the 2022 recipient of the Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application. He is recognised for his outstanding leadership in mainstreaming biofortified crops, particularly pearl millet, in India and Africa. For more than a decade, he has directed the development and dissemination of high-yielding, high-iron and high-zinc pearl millet varieties, which have contributed to better nutrition for thousands of farmers and their communities.

In 2014, Govindaraj released Dhanashakti, the world’s first biofortified Pearl Millet (bajra- in Hindi; kambu – in Tamil). Independent clinical studies showed that 200 grams of Dhanashakti provided women with more than 80% of their recommended daily allowance of iron, compared to only 20% in regular pearl millet varieties. Now, more than 120,000 farming households in India grow Dhanashakti. Estimates say that by 2024, ten years after Dhanashakti’s release, more than 9 million people in India will be consuming iron-and zinc-rich pearl millet and reaping the health benefits of better nutrition.

Govindaraj’s active collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research led to India becoming the first country in the world to commit to iron and zinc standards as core traits in its national cultivar release policy. Pearl millet became the first crop in which minimum levels of these essential micronutrients were mandated in 2018. As it’s estimated that India loses over USD 12 billion in GDP annually to micronutrient deficiencies, this was an important policy milestone in advancing a nutrition-sensitive food system.

Govindaraj received his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Plant Breeding & Genetics from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, and a B.Sc. degree from the Agricultural College and Research Institute, Killikulam, Vallanadu, Tuticorin, Tamilnadu.

The only other Indian to win the award is Dr. Aditi Mukherji, a young social scientist, who incidentally was the first recipient, in 2012. During her intense fieldwork surveying more than 4000 groundwater users, Aditi discovered that smallholder farmers in water-abundant eastern India were being prevented by certain policy restrictions from getting access to the water resources needed to irrigate their crops. She then worked with farmers to ensure that their voices were heard by Policymakers.

Aditi was educated at Presidency College, Kolkatta; Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; and the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. She completed her Ph.D in Human Geography at Cambridge University, United Kingdom.

A New Golf Hero

Ines Laklalech, 24, a Rookie, from Casablanca, won the Ladies European Tour title at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in Deauville, defeating England’s Meghan MacLaren in a play-off. In doing so, she became the first Moroccan, the first Arab, and the first North African woman to win a Ladies European Tour title.

Laklalech had finished level with MacLaren on 14-under par. The pair returned to the 18th for the play-off, where MacLaren could only manage a six while Laklalech carded five.

Ines said the victory would be something she would remember “for the rest of my life” as she celebrated her historic win. “It feels amazing. It’s special to hear it. I don’t have any words to describe this”, she said.

Diksha Dagar of India finished in the third place on 11-under-par after a final round of seven-under-par 64.

In other stories to ‘look up’ to, America’s NASA has solved a problem that kept its un-crewed Artemis Mission to the Moon, grounded on Earth. And I expect a successful launch to happen in the upcoming week.

More stories of freedom and development coming up in the weeks ahead. Feed and fortify yourself with World Inthavaaram.


One thought on “WORLD INTHAVAARAM, 2022-38

  1. “As we Homo Sapiens grow older, instead of getting wiser, are we not becoming more narrow-minded?”

    Your misleading wrong statement implies that you ASSUME homo sapiens have been wise at one point.

    At the core of homo sapiens is unwisdom (ie, madness) and so the human label of “wise” (ie, sapiens) is a complete collective delusion — study the essay “The 2 Married Pink Elephants In The Historical Room” …

    Once you understand that humans are “invisibly” insane you’ll UNDERSTAND (well, perhaps) why they perpetually come up with myths and lies about everything … including about themselves (their nature, their intelligence, their origins, etc). You’ll also stop asking a silly misdirecting question like yours and have the CERTAIN EVIDENT answer to whether “homo sapiens” are “becoming more narrow-minded”/dumber ….

    (CAVEAT — only read the 2 pink elephant article if you’re GENUINELY interested in the truth and therefore “CAN handle the “inconvenient” truth” …)

    Isn’t it about time for anyone to wake up to the ULTIMATE DEPTH of the rabbit hole — rather than remain blissfully willfully ignorant in a fantasy land and play victim like a little child?


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