About-the world this week, 15 January to 21 January 2023, a world of ‘Tanks’: Military Tanks Wanted; an Aircraft tanks; and empty tank in New Zealand; Tanks to fill in Davos; India’s unfilled Census Tank; and a Tennis player runs on a full tank at the Australian Open.


Ukraine: Tanks Wanted

The illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine bleeds on and now a hero that could secure a victory for Ukraine seems to be Tanks. Many countries supporting Ukraine have already sent or committed to sending Tanks to Ukraine to defend itself from the Russian onslaught. The pressure is also on Germany to send its Leopard-2 make tanks, which can make a significant difference on the battle-ground.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to destroy the independent existence of a neighbouring country with war crimes, genocidal actions, and relentless targeting of the civilian population, is the closest we have come since 1945 to what Adolf Hitler did in World War-II. And Germany has a unique historical responsibility to help defend a free and sovereign Ukraine. For the rest of the world, Russia should be defeated to deter future aggression by rouge-minded countries, say China, around hot-spot places such as Taiwan; or North Korea, which dances a lot on the border with South Korea.

Meanwhile, there is daily and continuing tragedy in the Russian-Ukraine War. This week, a helicopter crash killed Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Denys Monastyrskyi, his first deputy, Yevhen Yenin, other senior officials, and several children. No area seems untouched by the unbelievable situation in Ukraine.

Nepal Plane Crash: An Aircraft Tanks

Over the years commercial plane accidents have crashed to low levels, and the odd crash does makes high news.

This Sunday, Nepal’s Yeti Airlines’ Flight 691 – a twin-engine ATR 72 Aircraft – flying from Kathmandu with 72 people on board, crashed before arrival at Pokhara, which International Airport was inaugurated on 1 January 2023. All passengers have died. And this is Nepal’s worst air disaster in three decades. The plane came down in a gorge of the Seti River, near the tourist town of Pokhara: the plane rolled sharply as it approached the runway and then hit the ground, just over a kilometre from the airport. The cause of the crash is yet to be determined.

The passenger manifest consisted of 53 Nepalese, 5 Indians, 4 Russians and 2 Koreans, and 1 each from the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, and France.

Anju Khatiwada, the co-pilot of the ill-fated flight lost her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, in a plane crash 16 years earlier. Coincidentally, he had also been co-piloting a Yeti Airlines flight-and it was his death that spurred Anju to pursue a career in aviation. Dipak was in the cockpit of a Twin Otter Prop plane, which was carrying rice and food to the western town of Nepal’s Jumla when it came down and burst into flames in June 2006, killing all nine people on board. Four years later, Anju climbed on the path to becoming a pilot, overcoming many obstacles, to train in the United States. Once qualified, she joined Yeti Airlines. A trailblazer, Anju was one of just six women employed by the airline as pilots, and had flown close to 6400 hours. “She was a brave woman”, said an Official.

New Zealand: An Empty Tank

New Zealand’s Prime Minister (PM) Jacinda Ardern, 42, has had enough and is calling it quits. This week, Ardern announced she will resign as PM next month, saying, “I no longer have enough in the tank”, to lead. She choked as she detailed how six challenging years in the job had taken a toll. She had taken time to consider her future, over the summer break, hoping to find what she needed to carry on, but unfortunately she could not, and hence the decision.

Ardern will step down as Labour Party leader around 7th February. Meanwhile, there will be a vote in the coming days to determine her replacement. And New Zealand goes to the polls- a General Election-on 14 October 2023.

Ardern, at 37, became the youngest female head of government in the world when she was elected PM in 2017. And a year later, she became the second elected world leader to ever give birth while in office. She superbly steered New Zealand through the initial part of the Covid19 pandemic (though she could not make a success of it later on) and its ensuing recession, the Christchurch mosque shootings, and the White Island volcanic eruption. Ardern also led her Labour Party to a landslide election victory in 2020. But, in recent months, her domestic popularity has declined, according to opinion polls. She made missteps in the later stages of the Covid19 pandemic, could not get the economy back on track, and was unable to reduce inequalities in New Zealand. Lawless also ‘became common’ and has not been brought under ‘safe control’.

According to the media, Jacinda Ardern was subject to unprecedented hatred and constant abuse during her time in power, which could have inadvertently taken a toll on her and driven her to make the big announcement… and sleep well after a long time!

Some people have that intuition to move on after a job in done – on their calling. Maybe Jacinda Arden discovered that, and now needs to fill her tank with other kinds of fuel.

Money Matters: Tanks to Fill

The Switzerland based international, non-governmental, lobbying, World Economic Forum (WEF) is holding its 53rd Annual Meeting at the mountain resort of Davos in the Eastern Alps region of Switzerland, between 16 and 20 January 2023.

The meeting brings together some top decision-makers from government, business, and civil society to address global issues and priorities for the year ahead.

This includes about 3,000 paying members and selected participants – among whom are investors, business leaders, political leaders, economists, celebrities, and journalists.

This year’s theme is, ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’. On the agenda is climate change, The Russia-Ukraine War, food security, energy, and of course, the global economy, which will be discussed across 500 sessions.

Says the WEF, “The world today is at a critical inflection point. The twin triggers of the Covid19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine war have rattled an already brittle global system. Economic growth in the world’s largest economies is stalling, while navigating headwinds from rising food and energy prices. For the first time since the 1970s, the world is facing a precarious disequilibrium with growth and inflation moving in opposite directions. Unless systemic and interconnected risks are addressed, the promise of a ‘decade of action; may become a decade of uncertainty and fragility”.

The wisdom is oozing out on the slopes of the Alps, and I hope we get a cool, nice little ’To-Do List’ as an outcome of the ‘Davos Brain-work’.

India’s Measures a Delay: Unfilled Census Tank

In the year 1881, more than 250 million people in India answered a list of questions put to them by hundreds of enumerators, and were counted in British India’s first synchronised census. For the next 130 years, after independence and through wars and other crises, India kept its date with the census. Once a decade, hundreds of thousands of enumerators visited every household in the country to gather information about people’s jobs, families, economic conditions, migration status and socio-cultural characteristics, among other parameters. It’s used to make decisions on everything from allocating Central Government funds to State Governments, and building schools, to drawing constituency boundaries for elections. And India had mastered the craft of taking a census – teaching it to other nations, as well.

“The census is not simply a count of the number of people in a country. It provides invaluable data needed to make decisions at a micro level,” says a development economist who has worked extensively on poverty and inequality.

The exercise generates a trove of crucial empirical data for administrators, policymakers, economists, demographers and anyone interested in knowing where the world’s second-most populous country (set to overtake China this year) is headed. Say, what will it mean when Indians outnumber Chinese.

But for the first time, India’s decennial census, the seventh – which was set to be held in 2021 – has been delayed, primarily due to he Covid19 pandemic, with no clarity on when it will be held. Experts say they are worried about the consequences, which range from people being excluded from welfare schemes to unbalanced resource allocation.

The Government had planned to conduct a population survey to update the National Population Register (NPR) along with the census. Opposition and regional parties have been demanding that the Government should also conduct a ‘Caste Census’ to revisit the ‘caste based quota’ in the country. The State of Bihar has also ordered a caste census in its State.

The Government is chewing on all these issues and looking at the angles. And there is no alternative to a credible national survey such as at the Census. Now, with the General Elections coming-up in mid 2024, the census can probably take place only in late 2024. And would be the first task of the new Government to get cracking on.

Australian Open: A Tank Always Full

The Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam Tournament has opened in Australia and this time Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is back. The 21-time Grand Slam winner began his campaign in style defeating Spain’s Carballes Baena in straight sets.

Defending Champion, Spain’s Rafael Nadal lost to America’s Mackenzie McDonald after sustaining an injury. And so did British Wonder Woman, Emma Raducanu to 18 years old American Coco Gauff. Gauff defeated Raducanu 6-3, 7-6 (4) to go to the third round, in a slow-burning match that saw the intensity and quality rise in the dying seconds.

England’s Andy Murray, a multiple-time runner-up at the Australian Open, played a final-like-match in his first round stunning Italy’s Matteo Berrettini -the 2022 Australian Open semifinalist- as he rolled back the years to reach the second round. Murray needed to display magic to overcome 13th seed Berrettini. He did just that, in 4 hours and 49 minutes, winning the first two sets before going down in the next two and saving a match point in the decider. He won the match by 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7), and 7-6 (10-6).

Murray has regularly defied the odds since coming back from the hip surgery in 2019, which he thought would end his career. But then, he must not have realised that there was more in store for him. Two days later, Murray did it again with a comeback that ranks as simply extraordinary, even by his standards. He produced another scarcely believable display to fight back from two sets down to beat Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis in yet another epic match. In one of the longest in tennis history, Murray won 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 7-5 on a night of gruelling physical and mental endurance. The second-round match started at 22:20hrs and lasted 5 hours 45 minutes.

That’s back-to back mighty tough matches. Murray’s Tank is always full, hope it does not get drained to the bottom. He was not allowed to use the toilet during the match, despite making a request – maybe that kept the pressure.

Fight your battles with Tanks, play your game well, keep your tank filled, always. Stay with World Inthavaaram.



About-the world this week, 8 January to 14 January 2023: revolt in the Americas; a sinking Town in India; the UK tries Space; Ozone is back; and Film & TV awards that make you shake a leg and watch your tongue.


North America’s United States

The last week spoke loudly about the chaos in voting for a new House Speaker in the United States (US) of America. Just when the week’s mouth was closing, Republican, Kevin McCarthy of California finally won enough votes to become Speaker of the House of Representatives. Not since 1860, when it took 44 ballots to elect New Jersey’s William Pennington as a compromise candidate, has it taken 15 ballots to elect a Speaker. The spectacle of the Republican Party having the numbers, yet unable to get its folk to stick together, while the Opposition Democrats stayed solid behind House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries raised ridicule across the country…and the World.

South America’s Brazil

The American Continent seems to go crazy and shake its seat of Government in January-the beginning of the year. Two years ago it was the North America’s US, which people erupted and stormed its Government in Capitol Hill; this year it is South America’s Brazil, which did a similar stunt. Ever since the Covid19 pandemic everything seems to be spreading everywhere!

Early this January Lula da Silva was inaugurated a President of Brazil in a stiffly fought, run-off leading election contest with former President Jair Bolsonaro.

After weeks of simmering tensions Pro-Bolsanoro protestors, claiming that the Election was a fraud and the results manipulated, stormed Brazil’s Congress in the the Capital City. Brazil was left reeling after hundreds of Bolsonaro’s supporters created a rumpus in the seats of power in the capital, trashing offices, and drawing condemnation from the government and the international community.

The attack bore similarities to the 6 January 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol in Washington DC, when supporters of ex-US President Donald Trump-a close ally of Bolsonaro-stormed Congress in an effort to prevent the certification of his election defeat.

The Head of Brazil’s Electoral Court had rejected Bolsonaro’s petition to annul ballots, calling the outgoing President’s allegation that some voting machines had malfunctioned ‘ludicrous and illicit’ and ‘ostensibly conspiratorial toward the democratic rule of law.’ And Brazil’s Ministry of Defence found no evidence of fraud or inconsistency in the electoral process, in a report published in November, last year.

Bolsonaro nonetheless refused to explicitly concede defeat, while also insisting he would comply with Brazil’s Constitution during the handover of power to Lula. Ultimately, he fled the country on the eve of Lula’s inauguration, and has been staying in US’s Florida, since then. Searching for a Trump Card?

India’s Joshimath

Joshimath, also known as Jyotirmath, is a Town with a population of 20,000 people, in Chamoli District in India’s state of Uttarakhand. Located at a height of 1875 metres, it is a gateway to several Himalayan mountain climbing expeditions, trekking trails, and pilgrim centres.

Joshimath itself was born in precarious geological circumstances. The town, located in a tremor-prone zone, on the middle slope of a hill, along a running ridge, was built on the debris of a landslide triggered by an earthquake more than a century ago.

During the February 2021 Floods in Uttarakhand and its aftermath the area was severely affected. Structures around the Town developed cracks and people had to be evacuated. And it is now confirmed that Joshimath is indeed sinking.

Cracks have developed in more than 670 of some 4500 buildings-including a local temple and a ropeway-in an area which is 350 metres wide. There are cracks on the pavements and streets. Two hotels are now leaning on each other-for support. Water has been gushing out of farms for reasons that are not entirely clear. Some 80 families have been shifted from their homes to schools, hotels and home-stays in the town. Disaster response teams have been put in service with helicopters on standby for airlifting evacuees.

Land can begin to sink for various reasons. These include the movement of the Earth’s crust-thin outer shell of rock-or due to an earthquake that can cause a shift in elevation. A sinkhole – a depression or hole in the ground caused by the collapse of the surface layer – can occur when water flowing underground erodes rocks beneath the surface.

But land also sinks due to human activity like over-extraction of groundwater and drainage of aquifers-which geologists believe may have led to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, sinking faster than any other city in the world. More than 80% of land subsidence across the world is caused due to excessive extraction of groundwater, according to the US Geological Survey.

Human activity seems to be primarily responsible for Joshimath’s woes. Over decades, a lot of water has been pumped out from beneath the ground for farming, making the sand and stone fragile. With the soil dipping, the town has been slowly sinking. “The situation is alarming,” says a geologist.

As early as 1976, a government study warned that Joshimath was sinking, and recommended a ban on heavy construction work in the area. It pointed out that a lack of adequate drainage facilities was leading to landslides. “Joshimath is not suitable for a township,” the study cautioned. But the warning was not heeded. Over the decades, the place exploded into a busy gateway for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists. The pilgrims were bound for the Hindu temple town of Badrinath, some 45km away. Tourists trek, climb and ski in the region. Hotels, lodging houses and eateries have proliferated.

An Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Satellite image showed that Joshimath sank by 5.4cm in 12 days between December 2022 and January 2023. And between April 2022 and November 2022, saw a slow subsidence of 9cm. Get that sinking feeling? And we always get advance warnings, which we fail to read!

United Kingdom’s Space

In a first such foray the United Kingdom (UK) scrambled to get into Space and what does it do? No time for launch-pad Rocket take-offs, instead convert an old 747 Jumbo Jet, name it Cosmic Girl, shake it up to carry a carry a rocket – called Launcher One- underneath its left wing which in turn carries as its payload Satellites to be launched in to orbit. And who does it? That’s easy, British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, through his American Company, Virgin Orbit.

The mission using the repurposed Aeroplane was to release the Launcher One rocket, at an altitude of approximately 10,700 meters, over the Atlantic to take nine satellites high above the Earth, and the first stage engine ignited, to start the climb towards space.

Cosmic Girl took-off from a ‘Spaceport’ in Cornwall, UK, and flew high to launch Launcher One – the imbalance in one wing being used to get off in the opposite direction as the rocket fires and goes into space. But the first UK rocket taking satellites into space suffered an ‘anomaly’ -spelling an end to the mission. Virgin Orbit is evaluating the information and waiting to find out more about what happened to the rocket and the unsuccessful mission. Meanwhile, Cosmic Girl returned to Spaceport Cornwall – landing on the runway. Tomorrow is another day!

Earth’s Atmosphere

In rare good news for the planet, that too in the New Year, Earth’s ozone layer appears to be on track to recover completely within decades, as ozone-depleting chemicals are phased out across the world. This is according to a new United Nations (UN) backed Assessment.

We know that the ozone layer of the atmosphere protects Planet Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays-by kicking them back into space. But since the late 1980s, scientists have sounded the alarm about formation of a hole in Earth’s armour, caused by ozone-depleting substances including chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs) often found in refrigerators, aerosols, and solvents.

International cooperation helped stem the damage. The use of CFCs has decreased 99% since the Montreal Protocol came into force in 1989, which began the phase-out of those and other ozone-harming chemicals, said the Assessment.

If global policies stay their course, the ozone layer is expected to heal and recover to 1980 levels by 2040 for most of the world, the Assessment found. For polar areas, the timeframe for recovery is longer: 2045 over the Arctic and 2066 over the Antarctic. Oh Earth, heal thyself?

Please Yourself

Golden Globe’s Naatu Naatu

The Golden Globe Awards are given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) for excellence in both American and international Film and Television (TV). The HFPA was founded in 1943 by Los Angeles-based foreign journalists seeking to develop a better organised process of gathering and distributing cinema news to non-US markets. It has about 105 members who vote to select the winners. One of the HFPA’s major goal was to establish a ceremony similar to the Academy Awards to recognise and honour achievements in the world of Film & TV.

The 1st Golden Globe Awards ceremony were held in January 1944 rewarding the previous year’s Film & TV shows. The eligibility period corresponds to the calendar year-from 1st January through 31st December. The annual awards presentation ceremony normally happens in January.

This year, the 80th edition of the Golden Globe Awards was held on 10th January at The Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, California. To begin with, the Red Carpet also ‘displayed the best of golden globes’.

‘The Fabelmans’ and ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ won top prizes on the Big Screen, while ‘Abbot Elementary’ and ‘The White Lotus’ struck graduate yellow gold on the Small Screen.

Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Fabelmans’ was adjudged the Best Motion Picture and also won the best Director for the superb movie-maker & Director, Spielberg, outflying Tom Cruise’s ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, and rising above James Cameroon’s ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’.

The Fabelmans is a coming-of-age semi-autobiographical story loosely based on Steven Spielberg’s own adolescence and first years as a filmmaker. It explores how the power of films can help see the truth about a dysfunctional family and those around.

The Banshees of Inisherin is a dark tragic comedy set in a remote island off the west cost of Ireland. It is about two lifelong friends who find themselves in an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both. ‘Banshee’ in Irish folklore means a female spirit who heralds the death of a family member usually by screaming, wailing, shrieking, or keening. ‘Inisherin’ is a fictional village in Ireland made-up on the Inis More and Achill Islands. The film combats war from a distance by focussing on a village that was not directly involved.

Austin Butler won Best Actor for being Elvis Presley in ‘Elvis’ and Cate Blanchett, Best Actress for the way she conducted herself in ‘Tar’. The Best Actress in a musical or comedy went to Michelle Yeoh for playing 60 year old Chinese immigrant Evelyn Wang-owner of a failing laundromat in America- in the Sci-fi comedy ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’. Best Actor in a musical or comedy went to Colin Farrell for being a friendly, drinking buddy, and then ignored in ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’.

Best Drama TV Series went to ‘House of Dragon’, with ‘The Crown’, ‘Better Call Saul’, ‘Ozak’, and ‘Severance’ coming within striking distance of crowing glory, but severed –better call the HFPA?

The Best Foreign Language film went to ‘Argentina 1985’ with India’s sensational high-octane ‘RRR’, ‘Decision to Leave’, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and ‘Close’ getting close. The Best Original Score award went to ‘Babylon’.

Indian Director S S Rajamouli’s RRR won the Golden Globe for best original song for ‘Naatu Naatu’ – a Telugu track composed by veteran Indian music director M M Keeravaani and sung by Kala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj. The joke doing the rounds on social media, about the Russian-Ukraine War, is that the West has chosen ‘Nato Nato’ to dance with!

Other nominees for best original song were Taylor Swift’s ‘Carolina-Where The Crawdads Sing’, Ciao Papa-Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pinocchio’, ‘Hold My Hand’ from Top Gun: Maverick, a collaboration between Lady Gaga, BloodPop and Benjamin Rice, and ‘Lift Me Up’ from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler, and Ludwig Goransson.

Best Musical or Comedy Series went to ‘Abbott Elementary’. Actor Kevin Costner won Best Actor in a Drama or TV Series for ‘Yellowstone’. The Best TV Motion Picture was won by ‘The White Lotus’ (HBO Max).

This time the Awards were marked by outstanding Acceptance Speeches like the one where Best Supporting Actress Jennifer Coolidge gave a wonderfully rambling, hilarious, profanity laden speech including’, “I don’t work out! I can’t hold it that long”. And Michelle Yeoh asked Producers to “shut up” for trying to cut her speech short when she gave ‘everything everywhere all at once’ to describe her rise as a Hollywood Actress. And she can pack a terrific punch-mind it (remember, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). The biggest applause was reserved for comedian, writer, and singer Eddie Murphy who was this year’s Cecil B DeMille Award winner. He cracked everyone up with this: “I want to let you know that there is a definitive blueprint that you can follow to achieve success, prosperity, longevity, and peace of mind”. Eddie Murphy then added, “It is a blueprint and I have followed it my whole career. It is very simple, just do these three things: pay your taxes, mind your business, and keep Will Smith’s wife’s name out of your f—-ing mouth!” leaving the audience in splits. His decades of unbeatable comedy and incredible performances deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Act well, crack jokes through the year 2023. Win a golden globe, celebrate and share it on World Inthavaaram.


About: World Inthavaaram is news that made the week. ‘Inthavaaram’, in Tamil, means ‘this week’. I began in week 41 of the year 2020 and have been writing and publishing every week with a unique calligraphy doodle -in my own hand -to match the stories. I collect news from all over the world and present it in a fresh, light-hearted manner.

This week is about a never-ending war, lingering Covid19, a path-breaking medical invention, politics of economics, bidding bye to a Pope and a legendary football player.


New cold winds are blowing in January of the brand New Year. The sun itself has become awfully shy and wears a blazer to keep itself warm, I guess. But dear Earth is getting warmer by the degree. In the United Kingdom (UK), for example, last year 2022, was the warmest year on record. The average annual temperature was more than 10 degrees Centigrade for the first time. Is this a hot sign of things to come?

Kick-starting the New Year, the diaries, calendars, and resolutions are singing all over the world. I started a new Bullet Journal-doing it fo the past four years. In every month I allocate a page titled ‘World’ to record the ‘news temperatures and flare-up’s’ of the year. Some events keep hugging the pages, hogging the headlines seemingly forever.

Ukraine is fighting back like hell in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. This week a Ukrainian missile strike killed 89 Russian troops – the actual death toll is still being assessed: we may never know. The attack was one of the deadliest by Ukrainian forces since the war began last year. It involved four rockets fired from United States-made launchers targeting barracks in the Russian-occupied eastern Donetsk region. And it is a massive blow to Russia’s ill thought-out, meaningless invasion of Ukraine. Russia surely finds itself at a stage where it does not know how to exit honourably.Late in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ceasefire for 36 hours on 6th and 7th January along the entire line of contact between the armies in Ukraine. This is to allow Russian Orthodox Christians to attend Christmas services, considering the appeal of Patriarch Kirill, Bishop and Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. Perhaps, he should appeal and pray for the war to stop?

Covid 19 has a stranglehold on China and is tearing through the country, with most of its people never exposed to the coronavirus and the elderly not fully vaccinated. While the coronavirus Omicron variant causes mild symptoms in most people, a large number of Chinese are still vulnerable to severe illness. The country’s weak health-care system is already under huge pressure.

The always tight-lipped and walled China says only 13 people have died from Covid19 so far in December. The real toll is undoubtedly much higher. China only counts as Covid19 deaths those who die from respiratory failure or pneumonia. But the virus often causes death by damaging other organs-other kinds of failure. China’s crematoriums are busy: it is estimated that over 5,000 people are probably dying of Covid19 every day; the burial queues are getting longer. And a model predicts that in a worst-case scenario 1.5 million Chinese will die from the virus in the coming months. The World Health Organization (WHO) has demanded that more information be shared with the World. And has accused China of ‘under-representing’ the severity of its Covid outbreak and criticised its ‘narrow’ definition of what constitutes a Covid death But, is China listening?

Base Editing: A Path-breaking Invention

First, a quick basic lesson in the science of Genetics.

Bases are nitrogen containing biological compounds which store information and is the language of life. We must have learnt in school that the four types of Base – Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G), and Thymine (T)-are the building blocks of our genetic code-the DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid). Just as letters in the alphabet spell out words that carry meaning, the billions of bases in our DNA spell out the instruction manual for our body. In RNA (RiboNucleic Acid), the base Uracil (U) takes the place of T.

The incurable cancer of a teenage girl, Alyssa from Leicester, UK, has been cleared from her body in the first use of a revolutionary new type of technology medicine, called ‘Base Editing’.

Alyssa was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in May last year. T-cells are the body’s guardian angels-seeking out and destroying devilish disease threats – but for Alyssa they had become the danger and were growing out of control. Her cancer was aggressive. Chemotherapy, and then a bone-marrow transplant, were unable to rid it from her body.

All other treatments for Alyssa’s leukaemia having failed, doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, Bloomsbury, London Borough of Camden, UK, used ‘base editing’, which was invented only six years ago-to perform a feat of biological engineering to build her a new living drug. Six months later, the cancer is undetectable, but Alyssa is still being monitored in case it makes a comeback. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago and has been made possible by incredible advances in Genetics.

Base Editing allows scientists to zoom to a precise part of the genetic code and then alter the molecular structure of just one base, converting it into another and changing the genetic instructions. The large team of doctors and scientists used this tool to engineer a new type of T-cell that was capable of hunting down and killing Alyssa’s cancerous T-cells. They started with healthy T-cells that came from a donor and went about modifying (editing) them.

The first base edit disabled the T-cells targeting mechanism, so they would not assault Alyssa’s body; the second removed a chemical marking, called CD7, which is on all T-cells; the third edit was an invisibility cloak that prevented the cells being killed by a chemotherapy drug; the final stage of genetic modification instructed the T-cells to go hunting for anything with the CD7 marking on it so that it would destroy every T-cell in her body – including the cancerous ones. That’s why this marking has to be removed from the therapy – otherwise it would just destroy itself. Looks so easy!

If the therapy works, Alyssa’s immune system-including T-cells-will be rebuilt with the second bone-marrow transplant. She is the first patient to be treated with this technology. This kind of genetic manipulation is a very fast-moving area of science with enormous potential across a range of diseases. What a start in the New Year!

America Fails to Elect a Speaker: Speechless

Meanwhile, in the United States (US) of America, for the first time in a century, the House of Representatives, one person did not receive the necessary 218 votes on the first ballot to become Speaker of the House. Speaker hopeful, Kevin McCarthy secured 203 votes, leaving the top job up for grabs as Republicans took control of the Chamber. Hard right lawmakers followed through on their threats to oppose him as Speaker. By the end of the week Kevin McCarthy lost a historic eleventh vote over three days. And still no US House Speaker. Democracy is a work in progress!

A Pope Dies

Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI the first Pope to resign in 600 years, died on 31st December, aged 95. He had resigned in February 2013 citing a ‘lack of strength of mind and body’ due to his advanced age. Speaking in Latin he had said: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

Pope Benedict’s handling of sexual abuse cases within the Catholic Church and opposition to usage of condoms in areas of high HIV transmission, despite their effectiveness in preventing the spread of HIV, led to substantial criticism in the public domain.

Amazon Sheds Fat-Letters

This week, e-commerce technology giant Amazon announced that it is shedding about 18,000, A to Z roles as it goes on a drive to cut costs. The job cuts amount to around 6% of the company’s roughly 3,00,000 strong corporate workforce. Amazon is the latest technology firm to unveil major layoffs as the cost of living crisis sees customers cut back on spending. Amazon said it had to announce the layoffs sooner than they wanted to, as the information had leaked out.

India’s Demonetisation is OK

Most of us may faintly recall that dour day of 8 November 2016 when India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared on National Television to announce that all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes, of the Mahatma Gandhi Series, will no longer carry legal tender.

He said the action would curtail the shadow economy, increase cashless transactions and reduce the use of illicit and counterfeit cash that funds illegal activities and terrorism. The Govt also announced the issuance of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 banknotes in exchange for the demonetised banknotes. Oh, I loved those new green 500, pink 2000, which first emerged, followed by the orange 200 and blue 100 notes, later on.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) stipulated that demonetised notes should be deposited with the Bank over a period of 50 days until 30 December 2016. In the final tally, the RBI said that approximately 99.3% of demonetised currency was deposited- returned to the Government coffers.

The announcement of the demonetisation decision sparked massive confusion and chaos for several weeks as people scrambled for the new currency notes, forming snaky queues before Banks and ATM kiosks, for days. Some people even died waiting to have their money exchanged. The move was severely criticised by those opposed to the Government, as poorly planned and unfair, sparking protests.

India has previously demonetised bank notes in 1946 and 1978 with the objective of curbing counterfeit money and black money.

This week the Supreme Court of India upheld the demonetisation decision with a 4:1 majority. A five-judge Constitution bench dismissed a batch of 58 petitions challenging the demonetisation exercise. It said that the decision, being the Executive’s economic policy, cannot be reversed. And that Centre’s decision-making process cannot be flawed as there was consultation between RBI and the Government. It is not relevant whether the objectives were achieved or not.

The ruling comes as yet another badge to pin on the chest of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had been subjected to tremendous outrage on the demonetisation drive by the Opposition Parties. And the BJP is shining the light and ringing the bell on the awesome changes, especially the significant rise in digital payments, brought about by demonetisation.

A Dragging Horror in New Delhi

India’s capital Delhi has a knack of getting into gruesome acts, every year, at stunning regularity.

This year on New Year’s Eve a young 20 year old woman, Anjali Singh along with her friend, Nidhi drives a few streets away from her home to a Hotel for an event management. On the return, after midnight, she and a her friend after some kind of an altercation mount the scooter to ride Home. On the way they are hit by a car with Nidhi on the pillion ‘safely’ falling off and Anjali getting trapped under the car along with the scooter. And being dragged for about 10km and mauled to death in a horrific manner, with body parts split-up. It appears that someone in the car knew Anjali was stuck as the car went forward and backwards with Anjali screaming before dragging her in an unmindful manner. It appears the five people inside the car were drunk and with loud music running, they did not hear anything! Heart-wrenching. Police weren’t around despite being called to the scene and the city being under a New Year Security blanket. Nidhi, who could have shouted her guts out, scooted from the scene – fled, fearing ‘everything’ and stayed silent without telling anyone anything for almost two days. Further, Nidhi said Anjali was in an ‘inebriated’ state while the post-mortem report she was not under the influence of Alcohol. As the stories spin, investigations have begun to find out what exactly happened. Unbelievable that a friend could do this to a friend. It is a combined failure of the Police System in particular and the community at large?

Everybody needs to do their part, and unfortunately not one person did theirs, that day.

Goodbye Pele

Football King, Pele passed away last week, and this week his funeral was held in the city of Santos, Brazil. His coffin was kept in the Urbano Caldeira -Vila Belmiro- stadium, home of Pele’s former club Santos, for mourners to pass through for one final look at one of history’s most magnificent athletes, before entombment.

Pele’s coffin was then driven to the mausoleum that he had bought 19 years ago inside the Memorial Ecumenical Cemetery, a high-rise building that holds the Guinness world record as the tallest cemetery in the world. The Santos soccer club estimated that 230,000 mourners had been through the stadium. And huge crowds turned out to accompany the procession.

The procession had started at the Stadium and his coffin was carried through the streets of Santos, including the street where Pele’s 100 year old mother lives.

Hundreds of thousands of people waited for hours under a burning sun on Monday to file past Pele’s coffin. “This is no sacrifice,” said one who traveled three hours to the Stadium and had to be at work in five hours, yet had another few hours before he would be through the line. “He gave us so much joy that it’s a pleasure to be here.”

Pele being a footballer like no other, his final resting place is exceptional too: a large replica stadium complete with artificial turf inside the world’s tallest vertical cemetery.

Some of Brazil’s best-known footballers have faced a furious backlash as fans questioned why they had failed to attend ceremonies bidding farewell to Pele. And only a handful of Brazil’s World Cup winners made the trip to pay homage. “Pele is a citizen of the world, at the same level as Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi, but Brazilians don’t know how to recognise that,” lamented a former player.

Pele married three times, fathering seven children. He leaves behind his present wife, Marcia Aoki.

Play well through the year 2023. Fix the posts and shoot your goals, with World Inthavaaram.


About –the stories of the world this week, 25 December to 31 December: the blizzard of the century; Covid19 again; a fierce Prime Minister; discovery of new plants, animals, and fungi; a rush to Heaven; and the cheek of looking good.


A cold wave is doing a scathing run across the world from North America to Japan and through India’s New Delhi – where temperatures dipped to frightening low levels putting to shame ‘traditional owners of the cold weather’ in the region, Nainital, Dharmasala, and Dehradun.

Meanwhile, a Crown Prince aka Pappu, of a certain Royal Dynasty in India wore a white T-Shirt during a visit to his Father’s grave in freezing Delhi, and his Palace Clowns declared him superhuman and ‘fit to be Prime Minister (PM)’. And he walked away into the cold. Said a scientist: One in five Italians have a mutation in the ACTN3 gene because of which they can withstand extreme cold. Come again?

The severe winter storm that has swept across North America has left the city of Buffalo, New York, looking like a war zone in what is being called ‘The Blizzard of the Century’ with at least 60 people dead. On another front, lakefront homes in Ontario were encased in a thick, spiky coat of ice after the blizzard whipped frigid waves on shore. And as it barrelled through Erie County, last weekend, residents found themselves stranded in howling snow with nowhere to go, their cars dwindling in gas supply and with police unable to come to their rescue. The situation is expected to improve over the first week of the New Year.

Following neighbour China falling for Covid19, time and again, India isn’t impressed. And it’s getting ‘its looks ready’, and renewing its fight against the coronavirus, should it dare the formidable Indian PM’s 56 inch chest. This with countrywide mock drills, booster doses, masking, and screening tests at International Airports being carried out in a flurry of activity. The great RT-PCR test is back and is mandatory for people arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. The new ‘virus rascal’ threatening us is BF.7 a sub-variant of Omicron, which is behind the current explosive spike in China.

This time, India has a new weapon too. Bharat Biotech, the makers of the hugely successful Covid19 vaccine, COVAXIN have come up with the world’s first intranasal non-invasive, needle-free vaccine, which stimulates a broad immune response at the site of infection – essential for blocking both infection and transmission of Covid19. It goes by the name of ‘iNCOVACC’ and is for people above the age of 18 years and for those who have not had their third precautionary or booster dose.

Medical Experts in India say that there is nothing to fear but warn people to ensure wearing of masks in crowded places and to keep applying the basic prevention techniques we have learnt so well over the past two years.

Nepal has a fierce new PM who was once a Maoist guerrilla and led a decade-long insurgency against the Hindu Monarchy. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, who even in peaceful times wears the name Prachanda – meaning ‘terrible’ or ‘fierce’ was appointed PM this Sunday for a third time. This was on the strength of an alliance with the main opposition after last month’s election returned a hung parliament. He will head the new government for the first half of the 5-year term with the support of the Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) Party and other smaller groups. Prachanda, replaces Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress Party and will himself step down in 2025 -on a power-sharing agreement, making way for the UML to take over.

Prachanda’s Maoist Centre Party won 32 seats in the 275 seat House of Representatives. The UML has 78 seats, and the rest, required for the 138 number majority, will be controlled by smaller groups. The Nepali Congress Party will be the main opposition with its 89 seats. Himalayan navigation skills are required to stay in power and make a difference, leave alone climb every kind of peak, in this part of the world.

The Russia-Ukraine War needlessly and senselessly started by Russia, in February this year, meanders-on, refusing to come to an end. This week under the continued merciless, intensified attacks by Russia, civilians fled the city of Kherson. Only last month, on 11th November, there had been jubilant scenes in this city when it was liberated by Ukraine, after being taken by Russian forces on the second day of invasion.

The Pope noticed and made a fervent appeal to stop the mindless war during his traditional Christmas speech at the Vatican.

Over the week Russia rained a plethora of cruise missiles-probably the most massive ever, since the invasion-on Ukraine, making life more miserable for Ukrainians who have stood-up boldly to the might of a bully. The attacks come after Russia said it will not negotiate with Ukraine under the terms of its President, Volodymyr Zelensky’s proposed peace formula.

In another kind of war, it’s more than 466 days since the Taliban banned teenage girls from school. Afghan women and girls continue to be shut out of their classrooms, denied their basic human rights and the world remains mostly muted. International aid organisations suspend operations in Afghanistan following Taliban ban on female NGO workers. Said an official, “We cannot operate without women, we will not operate without women… this crosses a humanitarian red line. Do they want millions of Afghans to starve and freeze?”

Why does the Taliban do this? It springs from their fundamental ideology that women are second or third class citizens are cannot have the same rights as men and should be subjugated. They follow Fiqh, or Islamic jurisprudences and believe women are ‘polluted’ and that gender equality ‘destroys families’. This ideology, known formally as Deobandi, goes back to ‘themes’ developed by political Islamists in response to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, that ruled from today’s Turkey and stretched across the Middle East and North Africa at its height. In the aftermath homegrown movements focussing on women’s rights in Islamic countries such as the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, later Hizb ut-Tahrir in 1953 came into being. These two-pan Islamic groups promoted a particular narrow interpretation of sharia and spread it throughout the Islamic world.

“The Taliban and Al-Qaida are the ideological continuation of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hizb ut-Tahrir,” said an Afghan Islamic scholar. The Muslim Brotherhood was against a wave of movements that supported natural and citizen rights of people including women. Women’s rights made up the central piece of the dispute between the Muslim Brotherhood and these new movements, in the Arab world in the early 1900s.

While Afghanistan is preventing education of its women folk, Iran is after what women wear. A wave of executions in the country is imminent following the persisting protests that have swept the country following the death in September of Mahsa Amini, a young woman detained by Iran’s notorious morality police for improperly wearing her hijab.

Shahid Alikhani square in the historic Iranian city of Isfahan, and the grand entrance to one of the city’s main metro stations, is in the centre of the news. An execution platform has been installed where many fear high-profile Iranian footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani faces imminent execution along with at least 43 others. Nasr-Azadani is accused of involvement in the killing of three security officers, including two volunteer Basij militia members, during protests in Isfahan on 16th November.

Authorities have already executed at least two people in connection with protests in Iran last month, one of whom was hanged publicly. This is a result of a rushed judicial process in Iran where charges which could carry the death sentence are often handed down in a single sitting.

The Russia-Ukraine war; the abysmal, pathetic condition of women in Afghanistan; and the continuing protests in Iran again the stringent Islamic Dress Code for women, are perhaps the three worst events of the year 2022, which I hope comes to a close in the year 2023. Is humanity sliding downhill? Wonder why the United Nations cannot play a more muscular role.

On the sidelines, Writer Yuval Noah Harari has argued that the greatest achievement of mankind has been the decline in war, now that is in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, the rule of the military junta in Myanmar continues and Nobel Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi just got sentenced to another 7 years in jail, for corruption. The court’s latest action leaves her with a total of 33 years to serve in prison following a series of politically tinged prosecutions since the army toppled her elected government in February 2021.

Every year we discover so much that makes us realise how little we know about the world and how big it actually is. And the tree of life keeps growing. This year, The California Academy of Sciences researchers and their international collaborators discovered 146 new animal, plant, and fungi species. The previously unknown creatures and plants were found around the world, in the mountains of California, Australia’s Queensland State, the rocky peaks of Brazil and the Coral Reefs of the Maldives. Scientists made discoveries on six continents and within three oceans.

Among the new species were 44 lizards, 30 ants, 14 flowering plants, 13 sea stars, 7 fish, 4 sharks, 3 moths, 2 spiders, and 1 toad. Keep looking around, under, and above: there’s more to discover in the year ahead.

Over the year many have left this world for the skies above. Some, maybe, waited until the last month, the last week of this year 2022 to give up their valuable breath.

Brazil’s Edson Arantes do Nascimento famously known by his nickname, Pele – the Black Pearl – the greatest football player ever who brought ‘passion to the heart of football’ died this week at 82, after battling cancer. He is the only player to win three World Cups for his country 1958, 1962, and 1970 and leaves behind a rich football legacy. Pele was voted Player of the Century in the year 2000. And his 1,279 goals in 1,363 matches is a world record that is unlikely to be surpassed.

British fashion designer and style icon Vivienne Westwood died aged 81. She passed away peacefully at her home in London. The media called her ‘the high priestess of punk’ and the ‘Queen of Extreme’. In the world of fashion she was a beloved designer and pushed the boundaries of the fashion industry until her death.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mother Heeraben Modi passed away at the ripe age of 99 years after stepping into her 100th. She must be a proud mother having delivered for India one of its best prime ministers, ever. PM Modi carried out the last rites, just like any ordinary citizen would, and rushed back to work – keeping his tight pre-planned schedule.

May their souls rest in peace. Without doubt, each one did their job extremely well in their respective fields. And will be remembered in times to come.

Please Yourself

Over the past few weeks, buccal fat removal has become a hot-button topic on social media after several celebrities were said to have had the procedure. American model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen who is married to singer John Legend is one celebrity having admitted to doing the procedure. And we can see the cheeky difference.

Buccal fat removal is the removal of fat from the buccal fat pad, a mass of tissue located deep within the cheek. The procedure is typically conducted under anaesthesia. A surgeon will create small incisions on either side of the inside of the patient’s mouth to expose the buccal fat pad, and then remove some or all of the fat. By doing this, you can accentuate the cheekbones by removing the fat that is in the buccal fat compartment. The procedure can create the appearance of more sculpted, defined cheekbones. A person interested in this effect might not have a full face, but they just want to see a little more definition in the cheekbones and looking to emphasise the sub-malar hollow below the cheekbone.

Everyone wants to look beautiful.

More incisive stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Grow beautiful with World Inthavaaram – without surgery.

Build a legacy to leave behind. A Happy New Year and wishing you unalloyed happiness in your lives.


About –the stories of the world this week, 18 December to 24 December: return of the mask – a country overwhelmed; a warship sinks; a President visits a President – Europe to America; no education for girls; Football World Cup; and Christmas – the gift of the magi.


While the world is gradually stepping-out of the pandemic, China finds itself locked in a terrific battle with the Covid19 causing coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 variants. Cases of infection have been recorded in 31 of its provinces and there is an explosion of people struck by the virus.

Meanwhile, it’s tails-up for the world, as we brace for another possible virus invasion from China. The masks are out again, and all the colourful terms we learnt during the pandemic could be put to use one more time. Call it a deja vu? Return of the Mask?

China lifted its most severe Covid policies attributed to the Zero Covid Policy – including forcing people into quarantine camps – just a week after landmark protests against the strict controls. People with Covid can now isolate at home rather than in state facilities if they have mild or no symptoms. They also no longer need to show tests for most venues, and can travel more freely inside the country.

But, the country is currently experiencing a surge in cases, and recorded its highest number of daily Covid numbers since the pandemic began in the year 2020. Several major cities including the capital Beijing and the southern trade hub Guangzhou are experiencing outbreaks. And there are serious concerns about a fresh Covid19 wave hitting the country.

The abrupt shift in China’s stringent Covid policy has left its people and health facilities ill-prepared to deal with the huge wave of infections, leading to widespread shortages of common drugs, and other essentials.

One of the reasons for the present outbreak is that vaccination levels are lower – though China claims 90% of its population has been fully vaccinated – than in other countries and only half of people aged over 80 have received three doses of vaccination. China has refused to import vaccines despite evidence that its homemade vaccines have been proved to be less effective in protecting people against serious Covid illness and death.

Experts predict that 60% of China is likely to be infected over the next 90 days, with deaths likely in millions.

China should get its act together and do everything possible to contain this wave of Covid19 and prevent its spread. For a start it should be more open about the data of infections and death, which, at the moment, only fuels scepticism about the real impact.

Thailand’s warship HTMS Sukhothai, a 76 metres long corvette (small warship) had been on Day Two of a routine patrol, east off South-Eastern Thailand when it got caught in a storm, this week’s Sunday night. The waves were as high as 3 metre and caused the water to climb the decks, flood the hull and then the electricity room, cutting off power, and ultimately sinking the ship with a crew of 105 on board.

Other naval ships were immediately alerted and sent to help, but only the HTMS Kraburi frigate reached the vessel before it sank, about 32km east of Bang Saphan in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province, off the Gulf of Thailand.

Rescuers have saved about 75 people so far, scouring the rough seas with boats and helicopters. Survivors have been found after floating for hours, some in an unconscious state.

The warship was commissioned in 1987 and built in the United States of America.

The two events that occupied this year’s headlines and refused to go away are, one – the Russia-Ukraine War, and two the fact that it’s over 455 days since the Taliban banned teenage girls from school in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan remains the only country on the planet banning children from getting an education. It only got worser this week when in another devastative, regressive action, the Taliban imposed a ban on university education for women: they cannot enrol themselves in public and private universities in Afghanistan. This comes three months after thousands of girls and women across the country took university entrance exams. The universities are currently closed for the winter and were to reopen in March 2023.

Before Afghanistan reached this stage, following the Taliban’s takeover of the country, universities were compelled to implement new rules, such as gender-segregated classrooms and entrances. Women were only permitted to be educated by women professors or old men.

Being rich in knowledge, full of dreams, no matter where they live, women of Afghanistan feel empty as the world has betrayed them.

Denying women the right to education is soul-crushing. A murder of the mind?

This week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky flew to the United States, his first visit outside the country since the war began. He addressed the US Congress and in a well-crafted speech said, “Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”

The extraordinary measures taken to transport President Zelensky from Ukraine to the US capital are a sign of just how crucial the two countries’ relationship is for both sides. After visiting the front line in Eastern Ukraine this Tuesday, Zelensky’s journey to Washington DC began with an overnight train journey to Poland before boarding a US Air Force plane, reportedly supported by a NATO spy-plane and an F-15 fighter jet. Hands-off Russia? Finally they are veering around from calling the ongoing invasion of Ukraine a special operation, and admitting it is indeed a war. And they want to end it!

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Ends

The football World Cup finals were played this Sunday, and we witnessed one of the best-ever football final matches, in a long time. It was a slow-start thriller, building up the momentum to a nail-biting climax, which kept one on the edge. And rolling memories, long after it was over.

Argentina stepped in confidently and the ball seemed stuck to their legs for most of the first half of play and the beginning of the second – in about 75 minutes of probably the most dominated finals ever. Superstar Lionel Messi shot the first goal on a penalty and assisted another – a deft pass to Di Maria- to give Argentina a solid 2-0 lead before half-time. We could not see any vibrant signs of France – appeared drugged out, but just when we were beginning to give up on them, emerging superstar Kylian Mbappe copied Messi, scoring in a penalty and then a field-goal himself. Suddenly the game seem to be anybody’s after the second half scoring by France to equalise.

The game went in to extra time and Messi again delivered in a field goal scramble, making in 3-2. But the spirit of France had woken-up and Mbappe scored yet another goal – a hattrick- on a penalty shot making it 3-3 and driving the game to a penalty-shot decider.

Both stars, Mbappe and Messi got the first kicks inside, but Argentina’s goal-keeper stopped the next from France and the third shot from France missed the goal completely. The fourth went home. But Argentina kept their cool scoring all their shots making it 4-2. Argentina won, taking the Cup home after 36 years.

Team Argentina, moulded by coach Lionel Scaloni, has delivered to expectations and it is a well-deserved victory.

The jubilant homecoming of team Argentina was beyond measure with millions turning up to welcome their heroes. And Argentina declared a national holiday for people to watch the nation team ride an open bus during a parade in Buenos Aires centred around the iconic Obelisk that was built in 1936 to commemorative the quadricentennial of the first foundation of the city. It was sight to behold: looked like a huge beehive filled with honey from up above.

Indian Women’s Hockey Strikes Gold

The inaugural International Federation of Hockey (FIH) Hockey Nations Cup 2022 held in Spain saw India’s Women’s Team beat Spain 1-0, at Valencia, on 17th December, to win Gold.

The competing teams were Chile, Italy, South Africa, Indian, Japan, Spain, Ireland, and Korea.

This wonderful win was drowned in the drum-beats of the Football World Cup, but it is something to cheer about and ‘sticks out’ in journey of women’s hockey in India. Way to go!

Beware: a Warning

In Qatar two mass gathering events were held simultaneously, one, the FIFA World Cup 2022 and two, the Camel Mzayen Club’s Camel Beauty Pageant Festival. These attracted hundreds of thousands of people from within the Middle East and across the world. Many are attending both events, interacting closely with each other and with camels, creating ideal conditions for the transmission of camel-associated zoonotic pathogens with epidemic potential. These pathogens include the highly lethal MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus). Dromedary camels in the Middle East are a major reservoir of MERS-CoV. Humans sporadically become infected through direct or indirect contact with MERS-CoV-infected camels or camel dairy products. People need to stay alert and watchful: we started the year trying to get off riding the coronavirus ride and need to shake it of least we take a Camel ride and drive ourselves into another pandemic.

Please Yourself

Christmas is upon us and it’s a wonderful time of the year to spend time with family, loved ones, give and receive dream gifts – especially from Santa Claus and to un-wind and crank-up our engines to travel the new year ahead. Children would be looking in excitement at the stockings on the Christmas trees to see if Santa indeed came down the chimney in the middle of the night and made good promises sought .

There’s no better season to just curl-up on your favourite sofa, probably with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand, and read the day away. And what’s nicer to read during the holidays than stories about Christmas itself?

One of my all-time favourite Christmas stories has been O’Henry’s, ‘The Gift of the Magi’, a beautiful short story about the personal sacrifices we are willing to make for the ones we love with the might of our heart.

It’s Christmas Eve, and the young very much in love couple, Mrs & Mr James Dillingham Young – Jim and Della – find that despite their best efforts over the past months they could not save enough to buy each other a Christmas Gift.

O’Henry begins the story with Della counting her savings to one dollar and eighty-seven cents and fretting on how to buy Jim a gift – a worthy platinum chain for his gold watch to replace the present ‘unworthy leather strap’.

There were two possessions that Jim and Della took mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch – a family heirloom handed down from Grandfather to Father to him. Two, Della’s beautiful hair, which fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters, reaching below her knee. King Solomon (despite all his treasures) and Queen Sheba (despite all her beauty) would have burnt with envy on the respective possessions of Jim and Della.

In an awkward moment, Della decides to cut and sell her hair to buy Jim a watch chain. On returning home- with her head covered with a scarf- Jim is stunned when he finds out that she had cut her hair to buy him a watch chain. Della wonders whether Jim will love her the same despite the hair? On his turn, Jim had sold the gold watch to buy her the most beautiful set of combs: pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims, which she had secretly worshipped for long on a Broadway window (and Jim had noticed).

Despite losing their most valued possessions, the husband and wife in this story realize that their mutual sacrifice signifies a much greater gift: their eternal love and devotion to one another. Jim asks Della to keep aside the gifts and celebrate Christmas – “they’re too nice to use at present. And now suppose you put the chops on”.

Wrote O’Henry in the Story – I quote- “The magi, as you know, were wise men-wonderfully wise men-who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were doubtless wise ones, possibly bearing on privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were wise. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi”.

Merry Christmas: Be wise, be a magi when you give or receive a gift. And cherish your love.

More soulful stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Watch the watch and keep the hair. Celebrate with World Inthavaaram.


About –the stories of the world this week, 11 December to 17 December: A Spacecraft comes home from around the Moon; war goes on; Border clashes between the world’s populous nations; a stunning breakthrough in science; and a story of true love.


A Homecoming

This 11th December was a day of splashing and ballooning with joy: NASA’s Orion un-crewed test Spacecraft made a near perfect re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and splashed down, as plotted, in the Pacific Ocean, west of Baja, California, near Guadalupe Island. Orion had travelled more than 2.25 million kilometres on a path around the Moon before returning home safely, after 25.5 days in space.

Prior to entering the Earth’s atmosphere, Orion’s crew module separated from its service module-a propulsive powerhouse provided by the European Space Agency. During re-entry Orion’s specially-designed heat-shield successfully withstood temperatures about half as hot as the surface of the Sun at 2,760 degrees Centigrade. Within 20 minutes, it slowed from nearly 40,234 kilometres per hour (kph) to 33 kph for its parachute-assisted splashdown into the Ocean. On landing, five orange coloured airbags sprang up to keep Orion floating upright in the water, until ‘help’ arrived.

The Artemis-I Moon Mission’s Scientists also tested out a tricky manoeuvre known as ‘skip-entry’, which is the first time it has been tried on a capsule built for carrying astronauts. It involves the spacecraft bouncing off the atmosphere and then dipping-in again, as a way both to reduce the force of gravity and to allow a more precise targeting of the landing site.

Recovery teams then worked in unison to pick-up Orion from the Ocean and haul it on to the waiting ship, USS Portland, and subsequently offloaded it at the US Naval Base, San Diego. Engineers will inspect the spacecraft’s windows before installing hard covers and deflating the airbags in preparation for the final leg of Orion’s journey, over land, to the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida for post-flight analysis.

Teams will then open the hatch and unload several payloads, including the test Manikins: Commander Moonikin, Campos, Helga, Zohar, the space biology experiments, the official flight kit and of course, Snoopy, the zero-gravity indicator. Next, the capsule and its heat shield will undergo testing and analysis over the course of several months to figure out how well Orion managed to survive outer space and the heat of re-entry.

Up next, in the year 2025, is ‘Moon Landing’, where NASA will get ready to send astronauts to explore more of the Moon as part of the Artemis program. NASA has selected Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop the first commercial human lander, called the HLS Starship that will carry the next two American astronauts to the lunar surface. At least one of those astronauts will make history as the first woman on the Moon.

War and No-Peace

While Time magazine has named Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as its ‘Person of The Year’ for his stand-out leadership in fighting the illegal invasion of Russia, the war rages on.

Ukrainian forces have struck a headquarters of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group. A hotel where the group met in Kadiivka, Luhansk, had been hit causing major losses. Wagner are state-sponsored mercenaries who act in the Kremlin’s interests. It is a private military company, set up by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former restaurateur and close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has repeatedly been accused of war crimes and human rights abuses.

Later this week, Ukraine’s air defences shot down nearly all missiles during one of Russia’s biggest attacks on the capital Kyiv.

Over the week, the attack by Russia has been relentless and they seem unmindful of the Christmas season.

A Border Clash, India – China

China and India share a disputed 3,440 km long de-facto border – called the Line of Actual Control, or LAC in the State of Arunachal Pradesh – which is poorly demarcated. The presence of rivers, lakes and snowcaps means the line can shift. The soldiers on either side often come face to face at many points. Tensions sometimes escalate into skirmishes. However, both China and India have been trying to rather ‘unsuccessfully’ de-escalate, since a major battle in June 2020 in the Galwan Valley in the Ladakh region. This is much further to the west – where 20 Indian soldiers and at least 43 Chinese soldiers were killed. That incident began as a skirmish and quickly escalated to fist-fighting and pushing.

Late last week, in a border clash between Chinese and Indian troops at the LAC in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, more than 200 troops of China, armed with spiked clubs, monkey fists, and tasers tried to intrude into India’s territory. Remember, using weapons is forbidden during a confrontation, based on an apparently ‘working India-China Border agreement’. They were thwarted by 50 of India’s Jawans and pushed back. The Army said that not an inch of Indian territory was given. China said that India transgressed into its territory, which is acknowledgement enough that India shoved them back.

The signs are ominous, with a hot-headed China trying to cook trouble and ‘noodle’ India.

A Revolutionary Breakthrough: Fission to Fusion

In a stunning breakthrough, in search of zero-carbon power, Scientists in the United States (US) have achieved the unimaginable feat of, creating more energy than was consumed, during an incredible fusion reaction. This is a revolutionary step towards cleaner and safer forms of renewable energy.

Scientists at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), California achieved a mind-blowing 120% energy gain from atomic fusion.

Fusion, described as the ‘holy grail’ of energy production, is the same process that powers the sun and other stars across galaxies, which effects create a brilliant celestial display in our night sky. By forcing atoms together, instead of breaking them apart as standard nuclear reactors do, fusion offers clean energy without carbon dioxide pollution. In brief, it involves light atoms being smashed together to produce heavier ones, releasing vast amounts of energy in the process. It is the opposite of nuclear fission.

With the potential for unlimited electricity at a low cost and zero carbon emissions this could be one solution that might be a game changer and one of mankind’s most remarkable scientific triumphs to date.

Fission is the technology currently used in nuclear power stations, but the process also produces a lot of waste that continues to give out radiation for a long time. It can be dangerous and must be stored safely after use.

Nuclear fusion produces far more energy, and only small amounts of short-lived radioactive waste. And importantly, the process produces no greenhouse gas emissions and therefore does not contribute to climate change.

But one of the challenges is that forcing and keeping the elements together in fusion requires very large amounts of temperature and pressure. Until now, no experiment has managed to produce more energy than the amount put-in to make it work.

There is still a long way to go from demonstrating energy gain to getting to wall-plug efficiency where the energy coming from a fusion reactor exceeds its electrical energy input required to run the reactor.

We need to fission our minds to this fusion of the future. So much energy out there for the asking?

FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022: Kicking Around

The Football World Cup moved through the semi-finals stage with a line-up of Argentina versus Croatia, and France versus Morocco, to a ‘Giant Final’ of Argentina versus France.

If France wins it would be the first country in 60 years of the World Cup to retain the Title (having won it in the previous edition, 2018). If Argentina wins it would be a well -deserved crowing glory for one of the finest players of our times – Lionel Messi.

Earlier, England lost to France 2-1, despite ace striker Harry Kane equalling England’s scoring record with his 53rd goal. But his night ended in anguish when he missed a second spot-kick later in the game, which could have levelled the scores and taken England to a penalty shoot-out. Kane levelled Wayne Rooney’s mark with a second-half penalty in Qatar. He also missed a chance to surpass this record. The game of football can be cruel.

Meanwhile, the other semi-final entrant, Morocco made history becoming the first African team, and the first Arab side from a country with a Muslim majority, to reach a semi-final of a World Cup. They have defied expectations to reach this stage having topped a group including Croatia and Belgium, before beating Spain in the Round 16 and Portugal in the Quarter-Finals. Morocco’s success has been built around its steely defence and relentless work-rate. No opposition player has scored against Morocco so far in Qatar – they have conceded just once, an own goal against Canada. They have also been one of the most passionately supported teams during the tournament.

In the first semi-finals, Argentina beat Croatia 3-0 playing on the brilliance of Lionel Messi who score a penalty and made an assist. In the second, France convincingly beat Morocco 2-0. And Morocco finally conceded more than one goal and a chance of making more history!

Thus far, the Tournament has produced an unusual number of shocks relative to every tournament since 2002.

The Final Match unfolds on Sunday, 18 December and you can bet on Argentina or France to lift the cup.

Please Yourself: Love

Saying, ‘I love you’, is one of the toughest of things to tell a partner, purely from the mind – the ‘I’ comes first, from both sides – and freedom is at the heart.

English Author D H Lawrence’s, ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ scandalized the literary world when it was first published because of this ‘freedom at the heart’, and stirring-up of sublime love.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover was published privately in 1928, in Italy, and in 1929, in France. An unexpurgated edition was published openly in the United Kingdom only in 1960, when it was the subject of a watershed obscenity trial against the publisher Penguin Books, who won the case, and quickly sold three million copies. The book was also banned, for obscenity, in the US, Canada, Australia, India, and Japan. The book soon became notorious for its story of the absolutely frank portrayal of the physical and emotional relationship between a working-class man and an upper-class woman, its explicit descriptions of sex and its use of the then-unprintable four-letter words.

The plot is based on an affair between the young, married Lady Chatterley (Constance Reid – before marriage) and the also married gamekeeper of their Estate, Oliver Mellors, during a time when inter-class relationships were deemed socially unacceptable and divorce was only granted on proof of a matrimonial crime.

However, the main subject of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ is not the explicit sexuality, but the search for integrity and wholeness: key to which is cohesion between the mind and the body, for ‘body without mind is brutish; mind without body… is a running away from our double being’, said a commentator. The story focuses on the incoherence of living a life that is ‘all mind’, which D H Lawrence found to be particularly true among the young of the aristocratic classes in England of the hey days.

The contrast between mind and body can be seen in the dissatisfaction each character experiences in their previous relationships, such as Lady Chatterly’s lack of intimacy with her husband, who is ‘all mind’, and Mellors’s choice to live apart from his wife because of her ‘brutish’ sexual nature. The dissatisfactions lead them into a relationship that develops very slowly and is based upon tenderness, physical passion, and mutual respect. As the relationship between Lady Chatterley and Mellors builds, they learn more about the interrelation of the mind and the body. She learns that sex is more than a shameful and disappointing act, and he learns about the spiritual challenges that come from physical love.

Netflix’s adaption of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ tells this story of liberation and freedom and surprisingly through clothes- in addition to, without them. In the movie, Lady Chatterly’s clothing mirrors the emotions of her character-something you have to discover yourself – while she puts them on and pulls them off!

The new movie, directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, is largely faithful to the book, yet presents its characters and different themes-class division, female empowerment, sexual consciousness-with a depth and sensitivity that has rarely been afforded to Lawrence’s original work. There are plenty of steamy, lustful sex scenes, sure. But throughout the film, Lady Chatterley – played by Emma Corrin – and Oliver – played by Jack O’Connell – are shown as vulnerable, even fragile beings whose erotic connection is not merely a result of physical attraction, but of the desire to be happy and liberated from the confines of social expectations.

Corrin’s wardrobe is pivotal to highlighting that liberation and painting a fresh picture on the ever-popular story. I watched it over the weekend and fell in love with love, the movie…and the costumes.

In other movie News, Indian Film-maker SS Rajamouli’s period action film ‘RRR’ (Rise, Roar, Revolt) has risen, roared and scooped-up nominations in two categories at the upcoming Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture-Non-English and Best Original Song-Motion Picture.

RRR is a fictitious, impossible friendship between these two figures- a fearless revolutionary and an officer in the British Raj -of history as they team up and chart out an inspirational path to fight the forces of British colonialism in 1920s pre-independence India.

More roaring stories of war, love, and sport coming up in the weeks ahead. Fall in love and clothe yourself with World Inthavaaram.


About –the stories of the world this week, 4 December to 10 December: Artemis-I Moon to Earth; Iran and China buckle; Indonesia Rules; Haiti gangs up; India elects and elects; and magic at the Football World Cup, Qatar.


Return to Earth after a Honeymoon Sight-Seeing

NASA’s Artemis I’s Orion spacecraft after having gone further than any ‘Crew Capable Spacecraft’ had gone -the distant retrograde orbit -has left this cold place to return to warmer regions. It’s second main engine burn gave it the thrust to get in to the embrace of the Moon’s gravity. This Monday, Orion did a fly-by the Moon’s surface-just 127 km above-and its main engine fired again, in the longest burn, to kick it back to Earth. Orion’s splash down in the Pacific Ocean is expected on 11th December. Cannot wait for Orion to return safely, open-up, and tell its hidden stories.

Iran & China on the Same Page; Indonesia Opens a Book

Over the past weeks and months ‘one-of-a-kind protests’ raged in Iran and China, which saw brutal crackdowns on dissent. And they seemed to only fester and become unstoppable, on both sides.

Finally, this week, Iran buckled, abolished the ‘Gasht-e Ershad or Guidance Patrol’ – Morality Police- and said it will review the decades old mandatory hijab law, which requires women to cover their heads.

On the same page, China relented, eased COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and testing rules.

Both saw dictatorial regimes bending to the will of the people. When people speak as one, they effect change, and they win.

Iran’s Morality Police was established in the year 2005 under hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to ‘spread the culture of modesty and hijab’ and enforce it across the Country. The roll-back, is a massive victory for Iranian women protesting against the hijab law, which comes after more than two months of demonstrations, sparked by Mahsa Amini’s detention and death in custody over not wearing the hijab properly.

While Iran seems to have learnt some new lessons from old Rules, Indonesia doesn’t seem to be seeing anything at all-too much cloth covering its eyes? Indonesia is not a secular state: atheism is unacceptable – technically, it is compulsory to follow one of six prescribed religions.

This week, Indonesia’s Parliament has approved a new criminal code that bans anyone in the country from having extramarital sex; restricts political freedom, besides other ‘read the fine print Rules’. Sex outside marriage will carry a jail term of up to a year under the new laws, which take effect in three years’ time.

The newly formulated laws appear to be a ‘disaster’ for human rights, and a potential blow to tourism and investment. They apply equally to locals and to foreigners living in Indonesia, or visiting holiday destinations such as Bali. Under the laws, unmarried couples caught having sex can be jailed for up to a year. They are also banned from living together-an act for which people could be jailed for up to six months. Adultery will also be an offence for which people can be jailed.

Sex before marriage was already banned prior to the approval of this new criminal code, but the law was often not enforced. The old law defined adultery as sex between a married man and someone who was not his wife, while the new law bans all sex outside of marriage. The sentencing for those caught has also been increased from nine months to a year. For prosecutions to start, a complaint must be filed by the children, parents, or spouse of the accused couple.

The Gangs of Haiti

The Republic of Haiti is a country located on the Island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles Archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, east of Cuba and Jamaica, and south of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

In size, Haiti is the third-largest country in the Caribbean, and has an estimated population of 11.4 million, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean. The capital is Port-au-Prince, nestled between green hillsides and the blue waters of the sea. Look deeper, and you can see the rot washing-up on its shores.

More than a year ago, on 7 July 2021, Haiti’s President Jovenel Moise, who took office in 2017, was killed during an attack on his private residence. Ever since, there is no Head of State, no functioning Parliament, and the United States (US) -backed Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, who took-over, is unelected and deeply unpopular.

Meanwhile, Gangs of criminals have moved in to fill the space and have taken Haiti hostage. They make their own laws. They kill. They rape. The cruel statistics is climbing every day. About 1377 people have been killed, injured, or disappeared between June and September of this year. There are now an estimated 200 gangs operating across Haiti, and around 95 in the capital, Port-au-Prince, alone. This has resulted in a huge insecurity crisis, with large-scale attacks on communities, politicians and journalists, high levels of violence, mass kidnappings and large-scale forced displacements. And drawing of ‘boundaries of control’. For e.g., in Port-au-Prince you cannot see visible boundaries, but you must know where they are. Your life may depend on it. Competing gangs are carving up the capital, kidnapping, raping, and killing at will. They demarcate their territory in blood. Cross from one gang’s turf to another, and you may not make it back.

In effect the State is missing in action, as the people suffer overlapping crises. Almost half the population is grappling with acute hunger. In the Capital, around 20,000 people are facing famine-like conditions, according to the United Nations(UN). Cholera has made a deadly comeback.

Kidnapping is a growth industry. There were 1,107 reported cases between January and October of this year, according to the UN. For some gangs, it’s a major income stream. Ransoms can run from USD 200 to USD one million. Most victims come back alive – if the ransom is paid – but they are made to suffer.

“Men are beaten and burned with materials like melted plastic,” says Haiti’s Centre for Analysis and Research in Human Rights. “Women and girls are subject to gang rape. This situation spurs relatives to find money to pay the ransom. Sometimes kidnappers call the relatives so that they can hear the rape being carried out on the phone.”

A return to horrific, medieval times?

India’s Elections

The always-in-election-mode-India is back in action. On watch were three Elections: One, the Elections of the Municipality Corporation of Delhi (MCD), in India’s capital; Two, the State Assembly Election of Himachal Pradesh; and three, the State Assembly Election in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

After the last vote was cast in the last of the above Elections, the Exit Polls swing into action, and we could imagine the results. An Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) landslide in Delhi, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) comfortable win in Gujarat, and a cliffhanger in Himachal Pradesh.

While on counting day in the MCD Elections, the AAP swept to power, breaking a 15 year stranglehold of the BJP, it wasn’t the predicted landslide. AAP won a majority with 134 seats, the BJP came close with 104 seats, but gained 3% in vote share. This was the first election after a delimitation exercise when three corporations were merged and unified as one MCD. The AAP victory seems to be well-deserved as the BJP had failed in ward-level governance and delivery.

In Gujarat State, the BJP’s win was like a tsunami returning to power for a record-breaking seventh consecutive time, and after 27 years in continuous power. And the best ever win for the BJP garnering 53% of the vote share. The son-of-the-soil PM Modi, is unstoppable in this State.

In Himachal Pradesh it was made out to be a tough fight, and shockingly the Congress prevailed, winning 40 seats, but largely to Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) turncoats who switched over from the BJP to the Congress. They can form a government on their own, with the BJP at 25 seats probably making a good opposition. However, the vote percentage between the Congress at 43.9% and the BJP at 43% was razor-thin. And Himachal Pradesh kept its style of chucking out the incumbent Government at the end of every term.

Whatever, a win is a win. And India’s Grand Old Party, The Indian National Congress, despite being smashed all over the country breathes to live another day!

In India’s ever evolving, noisy but thriving democracy, the people have a say and you cannot take them for granted.

FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022

Football fever grips the World with the World Cup Football progressing from the Group Matches to the knock-out Round 16 matches, which played through the week.

The Quarter-Final line-up is: Brazil versus (vs) Croatia, Argentina vs Netherlands; Portugal vs Morocco; and England vs France.

In the first Round 16 matches the Netherlands knocked out the US, 3-1 and the second Round 16 match Lionel Messi playing his 1000th game sparkled on the field with some awesome footwork and opened the scoring for Argentina against Australia. And ultimately a 2-1 win took Argentina to the Quarter Finals.

In the first extra-time and penalty shoot-out of FIFA World Cup 2022, a rising Japan, and Croatia tied with a 1-1 score line on regular play, and kept the same in extra time leading to a penalty shootout. The Croatian Goalkeeper became a hero of his country with a hat-rick of saves and Croatia moved to the Quarter-Finals. In another penalty shootout, Spain lost badly to Morocco after a goalless normal and extra playtime.

Late this week the Quarter Finals began, and in the first match, in an unbelievable moment, five-time World Cup Winner Brazil lost to Croatia, on penalty shootouts. Neymar produced Brazilian samba magic to score the first goal in extra time, but Croatia equalised with a Bruno Pitbovic goal, about ten minutes later. It was then over to Penalty Shootouts, which Croatia won 4-2. They move to the semi-finals and have been in this place before. Remember, they lost to France, 4-2 in the FIFA World Cup 2018, held in Russia.

In the second Quarter-Final Argentina raced ahead with a Lionel Messi assisted goal by Nahuel Molina, followed with a penalty goal by Messi himself. But then, Netherlands clawed back with a header goal by Wout Weghorst, and in the dying minutes of the game Denzel Dumfries equalised, taking the game to extra time and then, yet again, on to Penalty shootouts. Argentina won 3-4 scoring four and missing one while the Netherlands missed two. They now meet Croatia in the first Semi-finals.

This World Cup has been full of twists & turns, and we might have a surprise Winner in the Finals.

Far away from the football field awful news came in that the great Pele has been moved to end-of-life palliative care after he stopped responding to chemotherapy. He is the only footballer in history to win 3 World Cups, and an icon of the game at the level of Muhammad Ali in boxing.

Prisoner Swap: A Star is Released

Brittney Griner, the United States’ Women’s National Boxing Association (WNBA) Star was arrested in Sheremetyevo Airport, outside Moscow, in February this year, after the start of the Russia-Ukraine War. She was in Moscow to play yet another season with a Russian league team. A sniffer dog, sniffed cannabis oil in Griner’s carry-on luggage and on checking Russian Authorities found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. She was then arrested on drug smuggling charges and jailed.

Griner testified she had inadvertently packed the cannabis oil found in her luggage. She was sentenced to nine years in prison in early August and was moved to a Penal Colony in Mordovia in mid-November after losing her appeal.

This Thursday Brittney Griner was released in a one-for-one prisoner swap for Russian international arms dealer Viktor Bout in an agreement, which the United States negotiated with Russia, and was given final approval by President Biden.

Viktor Bout, one of the world’s most infamous arms dealers, called the ‘Merchant of Death’, has been wallowing in an American Prison for over twelve years.

The US proposed a prisoner exchange last July, aware Russia had long sought Bout’s release. The swap happened in Abhu Dhabi in typical ‘Hollywood style’ when the ‘two prisoners’ crossed each other on the Airport tarmac to reach their respective flights to take them home.

More elected stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Swap everything else for World Inthavaaram – No ransom attached.


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.


About –the stories of the world this week, 20 November to 26 November: onward to the Moon, the ongoing war, a political odyssey in Malaysia, Covid19 hangs on, climate change goals, World Cup Football, population growth, and a python is pulled off.


America’s NASA’s Artemis-I Moon Mission, launched on 16 November is doing just great, and spacecraft Orion – now on its own – has arrived at the Moon, sweeping about 130 kilometres (km) above the lunar surface, as planned. And has been ‘kicked by the Moon’ into a Distant Retrograde Orbit – about 64,000 km away from the Moon, after reaching the end of which it will return to the Moon Space and receive another ‘Moon kick’ to return to Earth. Orion is sending back, to the NASA Mission Control Centre in Houston, Texas, awesome pictures of what it’s seeing.

The Russia-Ukraine war battles on and Ukraine is bracing itself for the coming harsh winter; made terrible by power blackouts, caused by the blistering assault of Russian missiles on utility facilities. The Ukraine people are standing on the ground against the ferocious illegal Russian invasion and this is yet another painful test of their endurance and fortitude. When will all this end?

This week, Malaysia got itself a new Prime Minister. Actually, an old hand who has been relentlessly chasing the job over a remarkable odyssey of 25 turbulent years that saw him jailed twice on sodomy and corruption charges. And charges overturned by the Supreme Court and later pardoned by the King of Malaysia, to fight another day. Veteran opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, 75, was sworn in as PM this Thursday by Malaysia’s constitutional monarch, King Abdullah.

Anwar’s Pakatan Harappan Party (PH) won the largest share of the vote in last Saturday’s Elections, but not enough to form a government on its own. Then, after days of intense negotiations, Anwar cobbled together an agreement with two other Political Groupings giving him the majority he needed. The King was convinced by the numbers and called him in.

Anwar has promised to forgo his PM’s salary and will focus on tackling Malaysia’s rising cost of living, besides combating corruption. His reformist-minded PH has a goal of promoting a more pluralist and inclusive Malaysia.

Anwar Ibrahim entered politics surprisingly joining the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) – Malaysia’s Grand Old Party – and rising through its ranks. And being mentored by Former Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammad, with who he had a love-hate Tom & Jerry relationship through the vicissitudes of his political life. There’s a lot of Malaysian expectations riding on his shoulders, and he should deliver.

In China the coronavirus caused COVID-19 is not letting go easily and is experiencing its worst outbreak in six months. Localised lockdowns have surged over the last couple of weeks. This week, China recorded more than 28,000 new cases in 24 hours, which are in every single provincial-level region. The country maintains a zero-Covid policy, where entire communities are locked down over single cases of the virus, in order to prevent its spread.


The results are out, and maybe we can look up and breathing slightly easier-find more Oxygen than Carbon di-oxide in the air- in the years to come? At the 27th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties(COP27) in Egypt which concluded on 18th November, almost 200 countries struck a landmark deal to launch a fund to help nations worst-hit by climate change. Applause broke out as the historic fund was approved just before dawn after negotiations ran through the night.

The vulnerability of developing nations to climate impacts has been recognised by the fund for climate loss and damage, but many rich nations will be disappointed about fossil fuels.

New language added in the final political statement includes ‘low emissions’ energy alongside renewable power as the energy sources of the future. That could be used to justify new fossil fuel development, which is exactly what global climate scientists in the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) advise against. It could refer to gas, which is cleaner than oil and coal, but not a renewable fuel like wind or solar.

The summit also seems to have moved the commitment to try to limit the average rise in global temperatures to 1.5 Degrees Centigrade by the year 2100. That’s the crucial temperature threshold scientists say we cannot go above if we are to avoid the worst of climate change. Leaders warned about this from the beginning, and it will be deeply disappointing for rich nations if there is now less global ambition to urgently cut fossil fuel use.

The message is absolutely clear: we have to consciously cut-down on using fossil fuels for energy generation, in whatever manner we can. This has to be inhaled by each one of us on Planet Earth.

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The 22nd edition of ‘Federation Internationale de Football Association’ -FIFA (International Federation of Association Football)-World Cup 2022 began in Qatar, a tiny gas-rich Gulf kingdom, this 20th November: the first to be held in the Arab world, and the second World Cup held entirely in Asia, after the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar, brought with it lots of controversies, which could hold centre-stage and be debated between the goal-posts, more than football. But first, let’s whistle about the game itself.

Football giants Brazil have won the World Cup 5 times, Germany and Italy 4 times each, Argentina, France, and Uruguay 2 times each, and England and Spain 1 time each. The previous World Cup, in the year 2018, was won by France beating Croatia, 4-2 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia. Now Russia seems so far away and is off the World Cup Guest list. We all know why: Its illegal war in Ukraine, of course.

No Player in the history of the World Cup has won the Golden Ball-Player of the tournament- twice, which was first introduced in the year 1982. The inaugural was won by Italy’s Paolo Rossi and then by Argentina’s Diego Maradona in 1986, Italy’s Salvatore Schillaci in 1990, Brazil’s Romario in 1994, Brazil’s Ronaldo in 1998, Germany’s Oliver Kahn in 2022, France’s Zinedine Zidane in 2006, Uruguay’s Diego Forlan in 2010, Argentina’s Lionel Messi in 2014, and Croatia’s Luka Modric in 2018.

This edition of the World Cup beginning on 20 November 2022 plays up to 18 December 2022. A total of 32 teams, who qualified to reach here, play over 64 games. Two top teams from each group will make the cut for the Round-16 Qualifiers or the Pre-Quarter Finals. There are Eight Groups, A to H, each consisting of four teams.

The Round -16 will be held between 3 December and 7 December, the Quarter Finals, 9 to 11 December, Semi-Finals on 14th and 15 December, 17 December will be the play-off for third place, and the Finals on 18 December at the Lusail Stadium of Qatar’s Al Daayen City.

The Opening Ceremony was held at the 60,000 capacity Al Bayt Stadium 40 km north of Doha and the first kick-off, a Group ‘A’ match between Hosts Qatar and Ecuador, set the ball rolling. Ecuador won easily 2-0 with its skipper Enner Valencia scoring both goals. He missed a hat-rick when another of his goals was disqualified.

Now, rolling over to the controversies part. Qatar is accused of human rights violations, the deaths of migrant workers and being vocally anti-LGBT.

The authorities in Qatar, have always strongly denied that their bid to host the World Cup involved corruption of any kind. Yet, cash seems to have sloshed around. A prominent Qatari appears to have spread largesse, apparently on his own account, but nothing has been conclusively established. FIFA officials overlooked Qatar’s blistering summer heat, which meant the World Cup itself was moved to November, instead of the usual June – July. The legions of foreign construction workers, mostly from India, who built the glitzy new stadiums and other infrastructure were treated like slaves: some have died. Many more were paid paltry wages and forced to stump up exploitative recruitment fees.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s criminalisation of homosexuality may put gay supporters off going to watch. Some players plan to wear rainbow armbands in a stand against discrimination. Murky dealing, exploitation, prejudice: what ought to be a festival of harmony will instead be a showcase of international woes, not least the rise of petro-fuelled autocracy.

Qatar is a conservative Muslim country and it tightly regulates alcohol sales and usage. In September, officials said ticketed fans would be able to buy alcoholic beer three hours before kickoff and for one hour after the final whistle, but not during the match. Organisers had promised it would be available in match venues and in fan zones – and that it would also be reasonable priced.

However just before kick-off, FIFA announced that alcohol will be banned for World Cup fans at grounds in a major and unprecedented volte-face: alcohol will not be sold inside or around the perimeter of stadiums.

The last-minute alcohol ban is emblematic of the contradictions at the heart of this World Cup.

The FIFA World Cup sponsor Budweiser has announced that the alcoholic beer it cannot sell in stadiums in Qatar will go to the winning country of the tournament.

The Winner takes it all: lots of beer to drink.

The week, the Group level games are being played and in a historic upset, Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina with a 2-1 win in their Group match, but only after Argentina’s Messi scored a goal. In another astonishing upset, Japan defeated four-time World Cup winner-the mighty Germany, 2-1. That’s a number to watch?

Coming to high scoring matches of the week, Spain whipped Costa Rica 7-0, and England thrashed Iran 6-2. I guess football fans were overwhelmed by the goals and some dazzling display. I loved the way Spain played clinical football with surgical passes and found myself ‘stitched to my seat’.

Meanwhile, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo made history as the first man to score in five World Cups; this after he scored in a penalty shot to give Portugal a 3-2 win in its match against Ghana. The goal is significant, as previously only women had done the five goal thing in the FIFA Women’s Football: Marta Vieira da Silva, Brazilian striker is the first footballer of any gender to score at five World Cup editions, a feat matched by Canada’s Christine Sinclair in 2019. That’s the 5 star line-up: Marta – Christine Sinclair – Cristiano Ronaldo.

Population Growth

Over the past months we have heard expansive talks about India’s Economy growing at break-neck speed to become one of the largest in the World, in a few decades’ time. Comparisons with China are inevitable and many say, we are many years behind China’s Economic development. Whatever, there is one area India will surely be overtaking China: easy to guess, population.

You think of population and immediately China pops up in the mind. It has been the world’s most populous country for hundreds of years, but now there is a dead serious challenger. The United Nations (UN) guesses that India’s population will surpass that of China on 14 April 2023. And India’s population on that day is projected to be 1,425,775,850. Watch that bulge!

It’s time India cranks its own counting mechanisms and finds a means of keeping the burgeoning population under control.

Please Yourself

In Australia, a five year old boy survived being bitten, constricted, and dragged into a swimming pool by a 3 m long python snake, about three times his size.

Beau Blake was enjoying a swim at home when the python, which was probably waiting to snap up someone whole for lunch, struck the boy-biting into him- when he was walking around the edge of the pool. The python wrapped itself round the leg of the boy and dragged him inside the pool. But before it hit the bottom, Beau’s 76 year old grandfather, Allan, saw it and without the least hesitation jumped into the pool, pulled out the boy-snake combo and passed it to his son Ben who was also around the pool. Ben then prised free the boy from the python and released it back into the vegetation. Beau is in good spirits and escaped with mild injuries. And the python finds itself something else to coil around, another day!

“Once we cleaned up the blood and told him that he wasn’t going to die because it wasn’t a poisonous snake… he was pretty good actually”, said Ben.

If generations get together the snakes can be outwitted. In Australia, something is always lurking around the corner. And pythons are a fact of life in certain areas.

More ‘hissing’ stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Keep your Dad and Grand-Dad always around; live with World Inthavaaram.