About –the stories of the world this week, 27 November to 3 December: China flares-up; Vulgar comments on a serious Film; a Television Channel changes hands; Word of the Year; World Cup Football; health; and Digital Currency.


There are rumblings of discontent in China with protests erupting, demanding that President Xi Jinping step down from office. Heard that, right? How often do you come across something like this in China? Last heard was Tiananmen Square 1989?

For the first time in decades, thousands of people have defied Chinese Authorities and are protesting: demanding to be freed, not only from incessant COVID19 tests and lockdowns, but strict censorship and the Communist Party’s tightening grip over all aspects of life. This is a rare outpouring of public anger. China’s hardline zero-infections coronavirus strategy is stoking public frustration, with many growing weary of snap lockdowns, lengthy quarantines, and mass testing campaigns.

A deadly fire last week in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang region, has become a fresh catalyst for public anger, with many blaming COVID19 lockdowns for hampering rescue efforts.

Protesters are holding blank sheets of white A4 size paper to symbolise lack of freedom of speech-speaking without explicitly saying anything, and a stand-in for all things people cannot say. Some now refer to the protests a White Paper Revolution.

In another development, internet users in China will soon be held liable for liking posts deemed illegal or harmful, in clever plans to control social media like never before. China’s internet watchdog is stepping up its regulation of cyberspace as authorities intensify their crackdown on online dissent. The new rules come into force from 15th December as part of a new set of guidelines published by the Cyberspace Administration of China, which operates under the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission chaired by President Xi Jinping.

Look deeper, maybe China feels responsible for having unleashed the coronavirus in to the world? Is it the case of someone who having deeply dirtiest his hands, endlessly scrubs to come clean off the smallest speck of dirt?

India Files

The movie The Kashmir Files on the brutal killings of Hindu Kashmir Pandits by Islamist militants causing their exodus from the State of Jammu & Kashmir created quite a stir when it released in March 2022. It is a well-researched film by Indian filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri and boldly brought to the surface untold sufferings of Kashmir Pandits. Thousands were rendered refugees in their own country, and before this film not many knew about the scale, extent, and depth of agony and hardship. ‘The Kashmir Files’ performed exceptionally well at the box office by earning over Rs 330 crore. And most of India empathised with the Kashmir Pandits.

This week the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which was showing in Goa came to an end. At the closing ceremony it was announced that The Golden Peacock Award will go to the Spanish coming-of-age movie, ‘I Have Electric Dreams’. While electric dreams came of age, the comments of an Israeli film director and IFFI Jury chairperson, Nadav Lapid seemed ‘under age’, completely out of frequency, and sparked a furious debate. Most of India was livid and visibly electrified when he said, “All of us were disturbed and shocked by the movie ‘The Kashmir Files’. It felt to us like a propaganda and vulgar movie that was inappropriate for an artistic and competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel comfortable to openly share this feeling with you since the spirit of the festival can truly accept critical discussion which is essential for art and life”.

India’s Information & Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur was on stage when he said that, and it was despicable the he did not challenge the outrageous statement of Nadav Lapid. Then began a flurry of damage control.

After Lapid criticised the film, Israel’s Ambassador to India, Naor Gilon slammed him and apologized for the conduct of his countryman. Israel’s Consul General Kobbi Shoshani described Nadav Lapid’s remarks as a ‘big mistake’, and added that the comments made by the Israeli filmmaker don’t reflect the country’s position on the movie. The IFFI Jury Board issued a statement, saying that whatever Nadav Lapid said about the movie is his ‘personal opinion’ and ‘nothing to do’ with the IFFI Board.

New Delhi Television

Once upon a time, New Delhi Television’s (NDTV) ‘The World This Week’ was a once-a-week, every Friday, ‘hugely awaited’ show on India’s State run television channel, Doordarshan. It was produced by the husband-wife pair of Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy and the news format became a game changer in the year 1988.

NDTV went on to become a 24×7 News Network and independent news broadcaster.

Now, three decades later, this week NDTV changed hands to the Adani Group lead by Gautam Adani, one of the richest men in the world, who bought a controlling stake in the Company.

Another rich man, Mukesh Ambani owns Network 18 one of India’s largest media companies. Incidentally one of the Companies of Mukesh Ambani helped NDTV with a loan when it was struggling to make ends meet and this debt eventually lead to the Adani Group’s entry. Though an independent news network, NDTV has been often been accused of being prejudiced and peddling fake news.

It remains to be seen how the ‘new’ NDTV works from hereon.

Word(s) of the Year

America’s oldest dictionary publisher, Merriam-Webster, has chosen ‘gaslighting’ as its word of the year.

Gaslighting is the act or practice of grossly misleading someone, especially for someone’s own advantage. Said Merriam-Webster, “In this age of misinformation – of ‘fake news’, conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deep fakes-gaslighting as emerged as a word of our time”.

Gaslighting derives its origins from British Novelist and Playwright Patrick Hamilton’s Victoria-era Play, year 1938, ‘Gas Light’, set in London about a middle-class marriage based on lies and deceit. Lead character Jack Manningham seeks to convince his wife Bella that she is going insane – to steal from her – including by saying that she is imagining the dimming of the gas light in their home. The modern usage is driven by the vast increase in channels and technologies used to mislead people.

Other words that were in the run and most looked-up are, oligarch; omicron; codify; LGBTQIA; sentient; loamy; raid, and queen consort. Go ahead and look-up them.

Not to be left behind, Collins English Dictionary’s word of the year is permacrisis – a word describing a feeling of living through a period of war, inflation, and political instability. This reflects Collins’ annual compilation of 10 words or phrases which reflect the ever-evolving English language and the preoccupation of those who use it.

Quiet quitting’ almost made the list. And it is the act of doing one’s basic duties at work and no more, either by way of protest or to improve work-life balance. Other words are: Carolean; Kyiv; Lawfare; Partygate; Splooting; Sportswashing; Vibe shift; Warm bank. Again, look them up and discover new words, as your weekend home work.

Recall, last year, the word of the year was ‘Vax’. That’s easy to accept.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Play

The Group matches are playing to a close on 3rd December and the first of the Round 16 knock-out matches will be kicking of the same day.

After a horrific start against Saudi Arabia, strong contenders for the Cup, Argentina, got the better of Mexico 2-0 with Lionel Messi opening the goal scoring and keeping Argentina in contention. And they went on to beat Poland 2-0, despite Messi missing a penalty, to top their Group and enter the Round 16. In another Group Match giant rivals Spain and Germany played level with a 1-1 result.

The United States defeated Iran in their Group match and in doing so ensured Iran’s ‘successful’ exit from the World Cup. This was met by cheers and celebrations in Tehran and other Iranian cities this week, as protesters hailed the country’s exit from the tournament as a blow to the ruling regime.

Qatar, the Host Nation was eliminated from the tournament after losing all its Group matches.

Passing on from playing to refereeing, the Germany versus Costa Rica match made news in a different sense. For the first time in the history of the World Cup Tournament an all-female team led by France’s Stephanie Frappart along with assistant referees – Brazilian Neuza Back and Mexican Karen Diaz Medina officiated on-field in a Men’s Tournament at Al Bayt Stadium. And all this is happening in a very conservative Qatar. Some message sure enough!

Meanwhile, though Germany defeated Costa Rica 4-2, Japan, playing in the same group made a surprise win over Spain 2-1 taking it to the top of the Group. Spain squeaked in on better goals to the Round 16 knocking out Germany. That’s disaster for Germany and they need to get back to the drawing board. Recall Japan had beaten them in the Group opening match. Japan is rising and they are on a high.

At the close of the week in a sensational, jaw-dropping play South Korea beat Portugal 2-1 and went in the knock-out Round 16 by the skin of their teeth making Uruguay’s 2-0 win over Ghana irrelevant. In the dying minutes of its game Uruguay suddenly found it had to score one more goal to move to the next round on a better goal score having even-points with South Korea. That was a real heart-break for Uruguay. But that’s football at its very best!

World Health

This week, the United Nations Secretary General reminded the world, on year another World AIDS Day, that the world has promised to end AIDS by 2030 – but we are off track. 1.5 million people acquired HIV last year. And we are just turning the corner on COVID19 with the last battle being fought in the original battleground of China.

In other ‘healthy’ news, Monkeypox an illness caused by the monkeypox virus- a viral zoonotic infection that it can spread from animals to humans – has been named as mpox by the World Health Organization (Who). That’s a big relief to monkeys all over the world – they were being stigmatised, and WHO is kind to them.

India’s Digital Currency

This week, on 1st December, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced the launch of India’s first-ever digital currency, Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). It was a pilot launch for retail Digital Rupee (e₹-R) in a closed user group consisting of customers and merchants. The pilot will initially cover four cities, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Bhubaneswar, and four Banks will participate, State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, and IDFC Bank.

RBI said that the digital currency is being launched with an aim to mitigate the risks and trim costs in the handling of physical currency.

Digital currency is a digital form of paper currency or fiat currency that can be exchanged in transactions for actual currency. It is essentially electronic cash. It cuts out the middlemen in financial transactions – primarily banks – and allows transactions to travel directly from person to person or customer to vendor. It is mainly meant for Retail transactions. The currency is backed by a Central Bank -RBI in India – whose legal tender is also issued and is essentially e-cash that doesn’t need any special indigenous methods of encryption. All online transactions involve digital currency but when money is withdrawn from a bank or an ATM, it is converted into liquid cash. Simply put, digital currency can be used in place of paper currency for all transactions.

Users will be able to transact with e₹-R through a digital wallet offered by the participating banks and stored on mobile phones and other devices. Transactions can be made through QR codes. As in the case of cash it will not earn any interest, while ‘sitting in the wallet’, and can be converted to other forms of money like deposits with banks.

How is it different from Crypto-currency?

Crypto-currency is not backed by the central bank of a country but instead derives its purchasing power from its user community. Technically, they are pieces of code generated by ‘mining’ that are managed via a digital ledger known as blockchain to ensure transparency at every stage of their journey. In other words, they are decentralised virtual currencies as they are not issued by a Country and do not have the status of ‘legal tender’. Its value is independent of central banking authorities and even regional geopolitical problems.

Digital currencies have already been launched in The Bahamas, Nigeria, and the Eastern Caribbean Union. Pilot projects have been launched in by China, Sweden, Jamaica, and Ukraine – for testing. And India joins this list. Other countries working on them are the Eurozone and the United States.

There is a future for Digital Currency.

More digital stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Cash your time for a reading of World Inthavaaram.


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