About –the stories of the world this week, 13 November to 19 November: The United States counts, Iran protests fester, India bleeds, G20 meets, mission to the moon, India’s private sector enters Space, and a sequel to a blockbuster movie.


After the counting in the United States (US) Midterm Elections cantered along -on horseback -over the darkness of last week, the results are finally seeing cracks of dawn and spilling over to this week. With all its advancement, the US takes an awful lot of time to draw its guns and get the votes counted. I reckon Americans can sling a rocket to the Moon and back before ‘em votes are shot down.

The Blue Democrats retained control of the Senate (total 100 seats) with 50 seats to the Red Republicans’ 49. This was made possible by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto who was re-elected in the State of Nevada with a ‘hour-glass margin’ of over 6000 votes. A win is a win. A run-off in the State of Georgia December later this year could take the tally to 51-49.

In the House (total 435 seats), the Republicans gained control, just managing to obtain a majority -218 seats against the Democrats’ 210 seats. President Joe Biden may stumble to get Bills passed over the remaining two years of his Presidency.

The nationwide protests in Iran, against the draconian Islamic Dress Code for woman fires on. Iran is facing one of its biggest and most unprecedented shows of dissent and defiance following the death-in-custody of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman detained by the morality police for not wearing her hijab properly.

A Norway-based Iran Human Rights NGO (IHRNGO) group claims that Iranian security forces have killed at least 326 people since the protests erupted two months ago. It includes 43 children and 25 women, and the number is an ‘absolute minimum’.

Meanwhile, an Iranian court has issued the first death sentence linked to recent protests, convicting an unnamed person of ‘enmity against God’ and ‘spreading corruption on Earth’. Iran’s Revolutionary Court issued the sentence to a protester who set fire to a government building. Now, some fear that more than 1000 others who have been arrested could face similar charges, potentially carrying the death sentence.

It was a bloody week in India, bleeding with news on two counts.

One, the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi were ordered to be released by the Supreme Court of India. This after being found guilty, sentenced to death, then commuted to life, and now freed.I guess you can just about do anything in India and get away with it?

Recall, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in May 1991 by a suicide bomber belonging to the Tamil separatist organisation, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during an Election meeting in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. 16 other people died and about 43 were injured in the bombing on that fateful day. In one of the best known manhunts in India’s history and successful tracking-down of the perpetrators, those involved were either killed or caught, arrested, and successfully convicted.

The release of the convicts followed unbelievable, hyperactive rallying by Political Parties in the State of Tamilnadu-mainly the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). They competed with one another in getting them released, on the ground of being Tamilians and unconscionably pandering to Tamil sentiment. And of course, the Court garnishes the reasons with the ‘mandatory’ good-behaviour in Jail.

I was devastated by the release of convicts who killed a Prime Minister of the Country in a carefully executed macabre plot. And consider it a global disgrace. The Supreme Courts in all its sagacity has probably weakened the country. The guilt of the released convicts in the brutal assassination Rajiv Gandhi and many others who were killed, for no fault of theirs, was beyond doubt. Commuting the death sentence to make it a life sentence is mercy. Freeing them is mockery. Worse still giving them airtime, celebrating their release, extracting sympathy bites, is horrific. Why does a ‘bad man’ get all the ‘honour’ a good man should get by default?

Two, the story that hogged the headlines for the greater part of the week was about the gruesome murder of a woman, Shraddha Walkar, by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawala, who after killing her, chopped her body to pieces, bought a refrigerator to store it and slowly disposed off the body parts over a period of five or more months. Shraddha had eloped from her Home in Mumbai, to New Delhi, breaking all daughter ties with her parents, but a concerned father happened to check her out and unable to find her filed a Police complaint, leading to the investigation. The murderer has been arrested and there are no visible traces of remorse on him.

Shraddha has asked Aftab to marry her and one disagreement led to another resulting in the killing.

What are we turning into, savages in the bygone days?

The Group of 20

The Group of Twenty is an intergovernmental forum consisting of 19 of the World’s major economies and the European Union which meets annually to tackle major issues related to the global economy. This year they met on 15 and 16 November, in picturesque Bali under the Presidency of Indonesia. Last year it was Italy. And the Presidency passes to India for the year 2023 with Prime Minister(PM) Narendra Modi taking over from Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, not the best of friends, had some tough talk going between them and sparks flying, over PM Trudeau being a leaking sieve by passing on everything discussed, to the Media. Xi told him it’s no appropriate and that’s not the way a conversation is conducted.

One of the outcomes of G20 Bali-Indonesia was that ‘most’ members condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and came close to using the word ‘war’ to describe what we all know simply as the ‘Russian-Ukraine War’. Wow!There were some murmurs of ‘eschewing’ use of nuclear weapons. And the European Union, Denmark and Norway announced a USD 20 million deal to decarbonise Indonesia’s coal-powered economy.

Return Ticket To The Moon

In ancient Greek mythology, Artemis is the daughter Greek God Zeus- the Sky and Weather God- and the twin sister of Apollo. US’ NASA first put man on the Moon with the Apollo 11 mission on 29 July 1969 and is returning to the Moon with… you guessed it, the Artemis Mission. And, naturally a woman to the Moon.

Artemis is the goddess of hunting, the wilderness, wild animals, nature, vegetation, childbirth, care of children, and chastity. She preferred to remain a maiden goddess and was sworn never to marry, and was thus one of the three Greek virgin goddesses-the others being Athena and Hestia.

Tracing the history of man on the moon, a total of 12 men have walked on the moon in six moon landings. This was accomplished with two US pilot-astronauts flying a Lunar Module on each of six NASA missions across a 41-month period starting 29 July 1969, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11, and ending on 14 December 1972 with Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt on Apollo 17. Gene Cernan was the last man to step off the lunar surface.

In summary, twenty-four US astronauts have traveled to the Moon; three have made the trip twice, and twelve have walked on its surface. Here are the names.

Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin (Apollo 11), Charles Conrad, Alan Bean (Apollo 12) , Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell (Apollo 14), David Scott, James Irwin (Apollo 15) John Young, Charles Duke (Apollo 16), Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17). Four of America’s moonwalkers are still alive: Aldrin, David Scott, Charles Duke, and Harrison Schmitt.

Moving forward from Apollo, Artemis I is an uncrewed test flight that will provide a foundation for deep space exploration and demonstrate the capability to return humans to the Moon. It will demonstrate the performance of the new Orion Spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS), and test capabilities to orbit the Moon and return safely to Earth.

The primary objective is to thoroughly test integrated systems before crewed missions, operating Orion in a deep space, testing Orion’s heat shield, and recovering the crew module after re-entry, descent, and splashdown. The flight will pave the way for future missions, including landing the first woman and first person of colour on the surface of the Moon.

The mission team encountered a number of setbacks in the lead-up to this week Wednesday morning’s launch, including technical issues with the mega moon rocket and two hurricanes that have rolled through the launch site. But then, count Artemis to self-heal and comeback.

The SLS carrying Orion blasted off from NASA’s modernised spaceport at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida, this 16 November. Propelled by a pair of five-segment boosters and four RS-25 (Aerojet Rocketdyne, Liquid-fuel cryogenic) engines, the rocket reached the period of greatest atmospheric force in 90 seconds. The solid rocket boosters then burnt through their propellant and separated after about two minutes, and the core stage and RS-25s depleted propellant after eight minutes. After jettisoning the boosters, service module panels, and launch abort system, the core stage engines were shut down and the core stage separated from the spacecraft, leaving Orion attached to the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) in orbit. As the spacecraft made an orbit of Earth deploying its solar arrays in the process – to build its muscles- the ICPS gave Orion the big push it needed to leave Earth’s orbit and travel towards the Moon. This manoeuvre, called the trans-lunar injection, precisely targets a point about the Moon that will guide Orion close enough to be captured by the Moon’s gravity.

Orion separated from the ICPS about two hours after launch, after which ICPS deployed ten small satellites, known as CubeSats, along the way to study the Moon or head farther out to deep space destinations.

As Orion continues on its path from Earth orbit to the Moon, it will be propelled by a service module provided by ESA (European Space Agency) that will course-correct as needed along the way. The service module supplies the spacecraft’s main propulsion system and power.

The outbound trip to the Moon will take several days, during which time engineers will evaluate the spacecraft’s systems. Orion will fly about 97 kilometres (km) above the surface of the Moon at its closest approach, and then use the Moon’s gravitational force to propel Orion into a Distant Retrograde Orbit (DRO), traveling about 64,000 km past the Moon. This distance is 48,000 km farther than the previous record set during Apollo 13 and the farthest in space any spacecraft built for humans has flown. Orion will also stay in space longer than any human spacecraft has without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before.

For its return trip to Earth, Orion will get another gravity assist from the Moon as it does a second close flyby, firing engines at precisely the right time to harness the Moon’s gravity. And accelerate back toward Earth, setting itself on a trajectory to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

Once the spacecraft has passed this extreme heating phase of flight, the forward bay cover that protects its parachutes will be jettisoned-crew module separates from service module- Orion’s two drogue parachutes deploy first, at 7600 m, and within a minute slow Orion to about 160 kph (kilometres per hour) before being released. They are followed by three pilot parachutes that pull out the three main parachutes which will slow Orion’s descent to less than 32 kph. The spacecraft will make a precise landing within eyesight of the Recovery Ship off the coast of San Diego in the Pacific Ocean.

Three ‘passengers’ will fly aboard Orion to test the spacecraft’s systems and collect data for future missions with real astronauts.

A suited manikin (model of the human body) named Commander Moonikin Campos occupies the commander’s seat inside Orion to provide data on what crew members may experience in flight. Two additional seats in Orion will be occupied by manikin torsos, called phantoms, manufactured from materials that mimic human bones, soft tissues, and organs of an adult female. Named Zohar and Helga, the torsos will be fitted with more than 5600 passive sensors and 34 active radiation detectors to measure radiation exposure as part of the Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE), an international effort including the German Aerospace Center, the Israel Space Agency, and NASA.

Zohar will wear a radiation protection vest, called AstroRad, while Helga will not. The study will provide valuable data on radiation levels astronauts may encounter on lunar missions. It will evaluate the effectiveness of the protective vest that could allow crew to exit the storm shelter and continue working on critical mission activities inspite of a solar storm.

The Artemis I Mission duration is about 25 days, 11 hours, 36 minutes. Total distance travelled 1.3million miles. Splashdown will be on 11 December 2022.

Absolutely exciting, what ‘flies ahead’ in the weeks to come.

The Prarambh of India’s Private Space Adventure

India’s Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) wasn’t making any friends to chill out with and was shamelessly engrossed in effortlessly launching Satellites into space. Could get lonely at times. The Government noticed and in June 2020 arranged to open the Space sector to private players so that ISRO could find some partners and have a relationship, Live-in? Maybe? Private players were allowed to use various ISRO resources to make the cut, use, and study Space.

This Friday, India’s first privately built rocket, Vikram-S (named after India’s pioneering Space Scientist Vikram Sarabhai), developed by Hyderabad based startup Skyroot Aerospace successfully blasted off from ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, creating history. The mission was called Prarambh (the beginning) and Vikram-S will help test and validate 80 % technologies for future suborbital missions especially the upcoming Vikram-I in 2023.

Suborbital? What’s that? Suborbital launch refers to vehicles that travel high enough to travel to the edge of outer space, but do not have the energy to achieve orbit around the Earth. Typically, they reach speeds of 2 to 6 times the speed of sound and curve back to kiss dear Earth. In comparison, an orbital spacecraft has to travel fast enough to orbit the Earth without falling back due to gravity, which involves speeds of about 25 times the speed of sound.

The 6m tall rocket, Vikram-S, is a single-stage solid fuelled, suborbital test launch vehicle, which took about two years to develop. It weighs about 545 kg and, in its maiden flight carried three customer payloads belonging to SpaceKidz India, and BazoomQ Armenia and N-Space Tech India – who all reported that they are happy with the outcome.

The launch also served as a technology demonstration to showcase the capabilities of Skyroot which has used its propulsion system, Kalam 80, and spin stabilisation system for the rocket.

Skyroot eventually plans to pitch itself as a company offering one of the quickest and most affordable rides to Space, and could become part of ISRO’s journey to evolve into a preferred destination for cost-effective launch of satellites. Skyroot expects more than 20,000 small satellites to be kicked into Space in the coming decade and aims to position itself as a serious player through mass producibility and affordability. They are hoping that launching satellites into Space will soon become as easy as booking a cab-quick, precise, and affordable!

Root for the skies, it’s for the asking!

Please Yourself

When the movie Black Panther hit theatres in February 2018, it opened to a stellar USD 202 million weekend. It then went on to make USD 1.3 billion worldwide and garnered multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. The film is considered to be one of the best and biggest blockbusters from the comic book genre and from the Marvel Studios- the most lucrative brand in all of Hollywood, United States.

With this in black and white and in the background screen, the sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever released this week, opened to an estimated USD 180 million in North America – that’s sizeable. This time the film had to do with without star Chadwick Boseman, who passed away in 2020.

The opening is one of the best premieres of the year and makes the superhero film the highest-grossing debut ever for the month of November. The original record belonged to ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,’ which made USD 158 million in November 2013.

Black Panther: Wakanda, stars Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett as the princess and queen of the fictional African country of Wakanda. And appears to be a fitting sequel to one of the most popular films of all time.

More thrilling stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Launch yourself into the Space of World Inthavaaram, forever.



About –the stories of the world this week, 6 November to 12 November: a colourful week, Climate Change, War, Elections, Social Media layoffs, Pollution, Blind justice, and a new kind of Blood.


Climate Change is in the news almost every day with its effects eminently visible as heavy incessant rains, floods, storms, rising sea levels, droughts, forest fires, extreme hot or cold temperatures – never before experienced or recorded- and the kind, occurring in some part of the world. We have been bombarded with various degrees of temperature, catastrophic predictions of continuing to use smoky fuels such as coal and oil; about smart methods of harnessing the everyday friendly sunlight, water flow, wind, and even the gusts of traffic in our cities, branding it as clean or green energy and going ga-ga over it.

Tree-planting is becoming a serious hobby, and we hear heart-warming stories of people single-handedly growing a forest starting with one or more tree samplings at a time. People are listening and doing their part in mysterious ways!

What is climate change? We need to refresh our mind on this awfully often used term. Climate is the average weather in a place over many years. Climate change is a shift in average weather conditions we experience every day.

World temperatures have been rising over the years because of human activity such as using oil, gas, and coal for homes, factories, and transport. When these fossil fuels burn, they release what we call greenhouse gases-mostly carbon-dioxide (CO2)- into the atmosphere.

When sunlight reaches Earth, the surface absorbs some of its energy and reradiates it as infrared waves, which we feel as heat. These infrared waves travel up into the atmosphere and will happily escape back into space if unimpeded. Oxygen and nitrogen don’t interfere with these waves-they are not impressed-as they leave, but CO2 does, and falls for it, on first sight. Back Beauty?

Only after the Earth absorbs sunlight and reemits the energy as infrared waves can the CO2 and other greenhouse gases grab and absorb the energy. As CO2 soaks up the infrared energy, it vibrates and re-emits it back in all directions. About half of that energy goes out into space, and about half of it returns to Earth as heat, contributing to the warming ‘greenhouse effect.’ Now that we are re-educated, we can no longer call ourselves ‘green-between-the-ears’.

The world is now about 1.1 C (Degrees Centigrade) warmer than it was in the 19th Century – and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen by 50%. Temperature rises must slow down if we want to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Global warming needs to be kept to 1.5 C by 2100. Left unchecked, we will experience catastrophic warming, with worsening droughts, rising sea levels and mass extinction of species.

United Nations (UN) climate summits are held every year, for governments to meet, discuss, and hopefully agree on steps to limit global temperature rises. They are referred to as COPs (Conference of the Parties). The parties are the attending countries that signed up to the original UN Climate Agreement in the year 1992. COP27 is the 27th annual UN meeting on climate being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 November to 18 November.

A report by the independent Climate Action Tracker Group in the year 2021, calculated that the world was heading for 2.4 C of warming by the end of the century. If nothing is done, scientists think global warming could exceed 4 C in the future, leading to devastating heatwaves, millions losing their homes to rising sea levels, and irreversible loss of plant and animal species.

In a warmer world, land animals will also find it harder to find the food and water they need to live. For example, polar bears could die out as the ice they rely on melts away, and elephants will struggle to find the 150-300 litres of water a day they need. Scientists believe at least 550 species could be lost this century if action is not taken.

The UK and Europe will be vulnerable to flooding caused by extreme rainfall. Countries in the Middle East will experience extreme heatwaves and widespread drought. Island nations in the Pacific region could disappear under rising seas. Many African nations are likely to suffer droughts and food shortages. Drought conditions could occur in the Western US, while other areas will see more intense storms. Australia is likely to suffer extremes of heat and increases in deaths from wildfires.

Major changes need to come from governments and businesses, but scientists say some small changes in our daily lives can limit our impact on the climate, such as, taking fewer flights; living car-free or using an electric car; reducing consumption of meat and dairy products; reducing energy use; buying energy-efficient products; improving home insulation; switching from a gas heating system to an electric heat pump in home heating.

We’ll wait for the outcome of COP27 and the new climate change goals, on 18 November 2022.

War: Red to White

After several days of quiet on the Russia-Ukraine war-front, there was noise made this week of a mighty turn: Russia formally announced retreat from strategic city of Kherson. It was just over 5 weeks ago that Russia ‘annexed’ Kherson as its territory and now it leaves the city with its tail firmly tucked between its legs.

Big setback for Putin. What’s going on? Stuff of future military history!

US Midterm Elections: Red and Blue

The Legislative Branch of the United States consists of the House of Representatives (House)and the Senate, which have the sole authority to enact legislation, declare war, confirm or reject Presidential appointments, beside holding substantial investigative powers.

The House is made up of 435 elected representatives divided among the 50 States in proportion to the total population. In addition, 6 are non-voting representatives of countries which are part of the US, but not wholly, such as Puerto Rico. Representatives are elected every two years.

The Senate is composed of 100 senators, 2 from each State with six year terms staggered so that one-third of the Senate is up for re-election every two years. That’s US Democracy in a nutshell!

This year, Midterm Elections for 35 seats of the 100 seats in the Senate and all 435 House seats were on the ballot. Additionally, 36 out of 50 states will elect new Governors.

In the House, the ‘Blue’ Democrats currently control 220 out of 435 and the’Red’ Republicans 212, with three vacancies. In the Senate is a 48 – 48 score.

The counting of the votes is underway – seems to be going on furiously, in a never-ending manner -and on the last Count, in the Senate it is Blue-48, Red-50 and in the House, Blue- 200 and Red 211. We may have to cross over to the next week to see who has control of the Senate and the House.

The Colour Blue

The microblogging and social networking service Twitter after being swallowed like a worm through the beak of its new Owner – the ‘far too brilliant’ US entrepreneur Elon Musk – is making all kinds of news. Employees are being uprooted like trees – sacked in truck loads -accounts that impersonate others are being permanently suspended unless they identify themselves as ‘parody.’ And there is a plan to charge USD 8 for a blue tick, on a verified Twitter Identification.

The little Blue Bird is ruffled and does not seem to know what to do. Done with migration?

Meta: Blue, Red Purple, Green

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has announced that it will cut 13% of its workforce. About 11,000 employees – from a worldwide headcount of 87,000 – were fired in industry’s biggest layoff and Meta’s first mass lay-off in its history.

Mark Zuckerberg said the cuts were, “the most difficult changes we’ve made in Meta’s history. It is due to macroeconomic downturn, and increased competition, which caused revenue to be much lower than expected. I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that”.

The news follows major lay-offs (the colour blue, above) at Twitter, and other tech firms.

India’s New Delhi: Colour Blind

Over the past weeks pollution in India’s capital, New Delhi, reached invisible levels and people began searching for each other including themselves in the thick air. The Government decided to keep kids locked-out of school to breathe perhaps slightly better air at Home. The main reason for the poor air quality is blamed on reasons outside New Delhi, with the obvious culprit being stubble-burning by farmers in the neighbouring state of Punjab.

In a shocking decision, India’s Supreme Court freed three men sentenced to death for the brutal, rape and murder of a 19 years old girl in 2012 – the conviction and sentencing of which was made by lower courts. The Supreme Court has said that the prosecution failed to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt, leaving the court with no alternative but to acquit the accused, though involved in a very heinous crime. The Court pointed out several procedural lapses during the case trial, due to which the convicts were acquitted of the charges by giving them a ‘benefit of doubt’.

Known as the Chhawala Gang Rape Case, three men – Ravi Kumar, Vinod, and Rahul – kidnapped a girl at Qutub Vihar Phase-II in Delhi on February 2012, when she had just returned from work at about 8.30pm. She was then taken to a mustard field about 30 kilometres away in the Haryana village of Rodhai where they took turns to rape and brutalise her. They mutilated and poured acid into the girl’s eyes, inserted a broken liquor bottle into her vagina and abandoned her in the mustard field to die.

In February 2014, a Delhi Court convicted the three men to death after finding them guilty. On August, 2014, the Delhi High Court upheld the death punishment, declaring that the accused were ‘predators’ roaming the streets and ‘looking for prey’.

The girl, Kiran Negi, was from Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand, living in Qutub Vihar, Phase II, Dwarka in Southwest Delhi, with her parents and two younger brothers. She wanted to become a teacher and was pursuing a graduate course in a Delhi College. And worked part-time in Gurugram’s Cyber City as a data input operator to augment the family income.

The incident took place about 10 months before the Nirbhaya Incident that shook India, but it did not attract media attention to the extent that the latter did. The girl’s family reported the kidnapping on the very same night. The grieving father of the girl was taken aback by the apathy displayed by the police personnel who had come there to investigate the kidnapping. “Get us a car and then we will follow the kidnappers,” one of the police officials had scoffed at the girl’s father”.

The victim’s father ran pillar-to-post seeking justice. He approached the then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit, but was shunned away saying, “such incidents keep happening”. Officials at the Chief Minister’s Office handed him a cheque of Rs one lakh and asked him to leave. Apart from this, no other assistance or compensation of any kind was given to him.

The parents of the girl, yearning for justice, were heartbroken by the verdict delivered by the Supreme Court this week. “Where do we go?” No one killed Kiran Negi?

The Colour Red: Blood to Bank Upon

This week, researchers announced that lab-grown blood has been transfused into people for the first time ever. Scientists in the United Kingdom (UK) have been able to manufacture blood from donor stem cells. And have infused two people with about two teaspoons of the lab blood to see how it behaves in the body. If the UK trial is a cool success, manufactured blood cells could help people with rare blood types or disorders, who often need transfusions. There’s also a possibility that the blood can be stored longer, compared to standard donor blood. The two people who have been infused have not reported any adverse reactions. And at least eight others will also receive transfusions over the next few months. More trials are needed before it can be used clinically. If you are running out of blood, that’s something to bank upon in the future.

More colourful stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Transfuse yourself with World Inthavaaram.


About –the stories of the world this week, 30 October to 5 November: endless war, un-covering women, not educating girls, a shooting, firing missiles, political comebacks – left & right, crowding tragedies, and a marriage of beauties.


The Russia-Ukraine War fires-on, with Russia pounding the Ukraine capital Kyiv and mostly hitting civilian targets, perhaps to break the steely resolve of the people. And Ukraine continues fighting back, in a war that seems to be ‘marching slowly into an unclear future’.

The protests in Iran, against the severe, restrictive Islamic Dress Code for Women, continue. Is it possible for Iran return to the more uncovered times of the Rule of the Shah of Iran when, some say, a woman was much more respected if she was not covered from head to toe? In the United States (US) more than 2,000 academics from universities across the country wrote to President Joe Biden urging him to do more to support the anti-government protesters. Many of these protesters are coming out of Iranian universities and schools, as young Iranians take to the streets and face off against Iran’s brutal security services.

In next-door Afghanistan, it’s 410 days since the Taliban banned teenage girls from school and continues to remain the only country in the world preventing girls from getting an education – for the singular reason that they are of the female gender. That’s outrageous: clothes can cover the body, but if your mind is clouded and cloaks your thinking, how do you uncover that? Meanwhile, Opium cultivation in Afghanistan has jumped 32% during this year 2022 despite the ruling Taliban’s ban on narcotics, according to an annual report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. What does one make of this?

Moving into Pakistan, ousted Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan survived a gun attack on his convoy while holding an anti-government protest in the eastern city of Wazirabad, Pakistan. He was shot in the leg, and seven other people were also hurt, and one killed, when a burst of gunfire hit the container-mounted platform-towed by a lorry- from which he was making a speech. Moments later the suspected shooter was wrestled to the ground by a bystander. And the shooter made a confession saying he acted alone and intended to kill Imran Khan. Khan was rushed to a hospital in Lahore and was declared to be safe and not in any life-threatening condition.

Recall former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at a public rally in 2007. The chaos continues, but after a very long time Pakistan is seeing the emergence of a popular leader in Imran Khan. Could the powerful Pakistan Army, who fire the shots from behind, finally be tamed?

Swinging across to East Asia, North Korea thinks only missiles and nothing much else. And this week they went about launching a dozen of them – including an Intercontinental Missile that apparently failed. This comes at a time when the United States and South Korea are staging their largest-ever joint air drills, which North Korea has strongly criticised as ‘aggressive and provocative’. North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan – the first time it has done so in five years. And it fired some into the seas bordering South Korea, which actually crossed the delicate Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed maritime border between the Koreas. This time South Korea got its tail up and returned in kind, firing three missiles about the NLL. There is a slow fire brewing there.

Brazil: Lula’s Comeback – Left

Presidential Elections held in Brazil early this October were bitterly divisive and saw one of the most abrasive campaigns in recent times. And without an outright victory for any of the contesting candidates, it led to a run-off on 30th October to decide the winner.

Recall, Ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Lula) secured 48.4% of the vote to incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro’s 43.2% and a third candidate Simone Tebet obtained 4.2%, in the Elections. The run-off became necessary as no candidate crossed the threshold of the mandatory ‘at least 50%’ of the vote.

This Sunday the run-off Election was held and Lula beat Bolsonaro by a razor-thin margin winning 50.90% of the votes, while the latter won 49.10%. This marks Brazil returned to left-wing politics.

It’s a stunning comeback for the lathe-machine-metal-worker-turned-politician Lula, who could not run in the last presidential election in 2018 because he was in jail and banned from standing for office. Lula was President of Brazil for two terms, from 2003 to 2006, and 2007 to 2011, where he led the country through a commodities boom that helped fund huge social welfare programs and lift millions out of poverty. Those were the times when BRICS was a famous term used for the five emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

Lula left office with a 90% approval rating, but this record was tarnished by Brazil’s largest corruption probe, dubbed ‘Operation Car Wash’, which led to charges against hundreds of high-ranking politicians and businessmen across Latin America. Lula himself was convicted for corruption and money laundering in 2017, but a court threw out his conviction in March 2021, clearing the way for his political rebound. By the time, Lula had spent 580 days in jail.

“They tried to bury me alive, and here I am,” said the 77 years old Lula, kicking off his victory celebrations. He made the right noises of the importance of unity and moving Brazil upwards. However, his rival, Bolsonaro, has not unambiguously conceded defeat and could dampen Lula’s victory.

Israel: Bibi’s Comeback – Right

This week, if Brazil swung to the Left, balance in the World was restored by Israel swinging to the Right!

Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition headed to victory in Israel’s parliamentary elections-the 5th in less than 4 years. With his ongoing bribery and corruption trial running in the background the win may provide Netanyahu a means of staying out of jail. But he is not the Election’s biggest winner. That honour goes to Israel’s Religious Zionism party led by neo-Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir, who have moved from the fringes to the mainstream, winning 14 seats in the 120 member Knesset. He achieved what his hero, Meir Kahane – the assassinated extremist rabbi who was banned from Israeli electoral politics – only dreamed about. Ben-Gvir may become the minister of public security, in charge of the country’s police – as already demanded of Netanyahu. That means the hard right would have a guiding hand on the country’s internal security apparatus. “It’s time to be the landlords of this country again”, said Ben-Gvir when he sighted victory.

The coalition of Netanyahu’s Likud, the Jewish nationalist Religious Zionism/Jewish Power Bloc, Shas and United Torah Judaism would, on paper, be the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, winning 64 seats – a comfortable majority.

Current Prime Minister Yair Lapid and his allies won 51 seats. An Arab alliance called Hadash-Taal won 5 seats, and is unlikely to support either Netanyahu or Lapid to lead the country.

The final election results confirm that Bibi can now build a stable majority government with his ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies, this will also end nearly four years of an unprecedented political stalemate.

Tragedy, Tragedy

South Korea: a Street too Narrow

Late last week and early this week we saw two absurd and avoidable man-made disasters which killed over 300 people who were just going about their lives in South Korea and in India.

In South Korea, during most weekends the narrow alleys of Itaewon, the neon-lit nightlife district in the capital Seoul, are busy with partygoers and tourists. Now it’s the site of one of the country’s worst disasters.

Last Saturday night, tens of thousands of people flooded into the area in central Seoul to celebrate Halloween, but panic erupted as the crowds swelled and surged into a narrow alley. It became hard to breathe in the crowd, which precipitated a stampede in which mostly young people became trapped and crushed, killing at least 151 people and injuring over 80 others. The casualties were young, mostly in their teens and early 20s. Among the 151 dead were 19 foreign nationals, with victims from Iran, Norway, China, Thailand, and Uzbekistan.

Saturday night marked the first Halloween since the country lifted various restrictions including that related to the pandemic – lending it particular significance for many eager participants in Seoul, as well as international visitors, foreign residents, and tourists.

Hotels and ticketed events in the neighbourhood had been booked solid in advance, and large crowds were expected. Itaewon in particular is popular among backpackers and international students.

It’s hard to pinpoint what might have triggered the crush, but authorities would have anticipated high numbers, before Saturday night. There is a responsibility on the part of the authorities to be monitoring crowd volume in real time, so they can sense the need to get people out. Standing out, is the failure by the Police to manage and control the surging crowds.

India: a Bridge too Old

In the 1600’s Morbi, in India’s present day Gujarat State, was founded as a princely state and rule by the Jadeja clan of Rajputs who bore the title ‘Thakur Sahib’ until the last ruler, Sir Waghji, gave himself the title ‘Maharaja’. It became a British protectorate in 1807, during British rule in India.

To reflect the progressive and scientific nature of the rulers of Morbi, Sir Waghji built a 1.25 metre wide 230 metre span suspension bridge across the Machchu River, which is similar to the Ram and Lakshman Jhulas across the Ganga in Uttarakhand. It used the latest technology available in Europe in those days, and material for the construction of the bridge was sourced from England.

The bridge served to connect the Darbargadh Palace and the Nazarbag Palace, which were the residences of the royal families. It was first inaugurated in 1879, by then British Governor of Mumbai. And was ‘kept alive’ as a heritage bridge, all these years, becoming a tourist spot to hang-out on.

The bridge was entrusted to a company called Oreva for operation and maintenance under a 15 years contract. In March, this year, it was closed to the public for renovation and reopened on the Gujarati New Year Day, celebrated on October 26.

A tragedy occurred late this Sunday when the heritage bridge collapsed packed with tourists and city residents at around 6.30 pm, killing about 135 people. Prima facie, the bridge gave away as too many people in the mid-section were trying to sway it from one side to the other. About 200 people were on the bridge, at the time of collapse. And it was actually meant to hold about 125 people at a time.

The Oreva Group is a company which once described itself as the ‘world’s largest clock manufacturing company’, before foraying into making lighting products, battery-operated bikes, home appliances and TV sets. With no background in ‘maintaining heritage bridges’ one wonders how they won the contract in the first place.

It’s also learnt that the bridge had not received a thumbs-up Fitness Certificate from the local Municipality, after completion of the renovation work.

One can see a clear failure to ‘understand the bridge’ and carefully regulate the people on the bridge, given its heritage nature. The investigation should be able to reveal the actual reasons.

Going back in time, in 1979 the Machchu-2 Dam across the same river collapsed sending a wall of water through the town of Morbi, killing more than 2000 people is one of the greatest dam-burst tragedies of all time.

The Machchu-2 Dam is an earthfill dam meant to serve as an irrigation scheme. Considering the long history of drought in Saurashtra region, the primary consideration at the time of design was water supply, not flood control. It consisted of a masonry spillway of 206 metres with 18 sluice gates across the river section and long earthen embankments on both sides. The failure was caused by excessive rain and massive flooding, leading to the disintegration of the earthen walls of the four kilometre long dam. The actual observed flow following the intense rainfall reached about three times above the flow the dam was designed for, resulting in its collapse. 762 metres of the left and 365 metres of the right embankment of the dam collapsed. Within 20 minutes the floods of 3.7 to 9.1 m height inundated the low-lying areas of Morbi industrial town located 5 km below the dam.

The Machchu-2 Dam failure is listed as one of the worst dam bursts in the Guinness Book of Records

Please Yourself

There is a new power couple in Town: a tale of picture perfect love – literally.

A former Miss Argentina and a former Miss Puerto Rico shocked and awed fans by announcing their surprise marriage on Instagram. Mariana Varela and Fabiola Valentin met at the 2020 Miss Grand International Competition in Thailand, where they represented Argentina and Puerto Rico, respectively. After making it to the pageant Top 10, the two beauty queens remained close friends on social media and secretly dated.

The pair posted matching Instagram Reels showing moments from their relationship, including romantic walks on the beach, candid cuddles, champagne toasts, and a proposal with gold and silver balloons saying, “Marry me?”

The pair did just that and married on 28 October at the City Courthouse in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “After deciding to keep our relationship private, we opened the doors on a special day”, said the two beauties – in one frame!

More delightful and beautiful stories coming up in the weeks ahead. It’s alright to stay married to World Inthavaaram.


About –the stories of the world this week, 23 October to 29 October 2022: unpredictable Britain, deadly Myanmar, unusual China, surgical ISRO, spectacular Indian Cricket.


Unpredictable Britain

In recent times British politics as become unpredictable and in keeping with the trend, the United Kingdom (UK) inaugurated its first British-Asian Prime Minister (PM), which is a truly significant historical moment. And we thought only the weather is unpredictable in London. Talent, if used wisely has a way of climbing to the top, no matter what race one belongs to, or religion one follows, or country one originated from. For the moment, it has stopped at No. 10.

Speaking outside 10, Downing Street, Britain’s newly-appointed PM, Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday that he has been elected (as the leader of his Party) to fix some of the mistakes made by his predecessor. He promised to place economic stability and confidence at the heart of his government’s agenda; he would confront the profound economic crisis-that the country is facing-with compassion; and lead a government of integrity, professionalism, and accountability. And the work begins immediately.

The 42 years old devout Hindu, formally took charge as Britain’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister, after an audience with the freshly minted King Charles III, this Tuesday, a day after he was elected the leader of the Conservative Party. The investment banker-turned politician is the youngest British PM in 210 years.

Rishi Sunak was born in Southampton, UK, to Indian-origin parents who migrated to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s, and before that from India. Sunak’s grandparents were born in the Punjab Province, British India. He is the eldest of three siblings: brother Sanjay is a psychologist and sister Raakhi Williams works in New York, as Chief of Strategy and Planning at the United Nations Global Fund for Education in Emergencies. Sunak’s father Yashvir Sunak was a General Practitioner with the National Health Service and his mother Usha Sunak runs a local Pharmacy. Yashvir and Usha Sunak were born in Kenya and Tanzania respectively. That’s a whole lot of countries in the bag!

Sunak was educated at Winchester College, studied philosophy, politics and economics at Lincoln College, Oxford, and earned an MBA from Stanford University as a Fulbright Scholar. While at Stanford, he met his future wife Akshata Murty, the daughter of Narayana Murthy – Indian billionaire and founder of the Indian software Company, Infosys – Fortune had listed Narayana Murthy among the ‘12 Greatest Entrepreneurs of Our Time’ in 2012.

After graduating, Sunak worked for Goldman Sachs and later as a partner at the hedge fund firms, The Children’s Investment Fund Management and Theleme Partners.

Sunak was first elected as an MP in 2015 – for Richmond in North Yorkshire – but rose quickly, and was made Finance Minister /Chancellor of the Exchequer, in February 2020, under former PM Boris Johnson.

Wife Akshata did a fashion designing diploma from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, which followed a short work stint at Deloitte and Unilever. Thereafter, she went on to pursue her MBA at Stanford where apparently ‘Rishi Sunak was waiting to meet’ her!

Sunak and his wife are one of the richest people in Britain, with a combined fortune of GBP 730 million as of 2022. The couple have two teenage daughters, Krisna and Anoushka; and a family dog, Nova – a fox red Labrador Retriever. The story goes that the daughters met Boris Johnson’s dog Dillyn and immediately fell in love with it, and begged their father for a pup of their own.

“British Indian is what I tick on the census, we have a category for it. I am thoroughly British, this is my home and my country, but my religious and cultural heritage is Indian, my wife is Indian. I am open about being a Hindu,” Sunak said in an interview in 2015.

I’m sure the United Kingdom is in a good pair of brown hands.

Deadly Myanmar

Myanmar has been under draconian military rule since February 2021, when an elected government was overthrown in a bloody coup.

This Sunday, over 60 people were killed in military airstrikes at a celebratory event in Myanmar’s mountainous Kachin State drawing international condemnation of the ruling military junta’s actions.

The victims were attending an event organised by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) to mark the 62nd anniversary of the armed ethnic rebel group’s political wing, the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO). KIO personnel were in attendance, not as military personnel, but as entertainers helping welcome guests and performing.

The military junta said it was hunting down the KIA and was not deliberately targeting civilians. Hard to believe, but that’s the word!

Unusual China

This week the President of China, Xi Jinping was re-elected as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party for a norm-breaking third term of paramount leader, which is unusual.

This Sunday, a day after the close of the five-yearly Communist Party Congress, Xi announced a new leadership team of six men loyal to him: Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and Li Xi, to stand alongside him as members of the Politburo Standing Committee- China’s top ruling body.

Events of the day were briefly interrupted by an unexpected scene when Xi’s immediate predecessor Hu Jintao, who is 79 years old and has been in frail health in recent years, was escorted out of the Great Hall of the People from his seat next to Xi, for reasons that were not immediately clear, though Hu appeared initially reluctant to leave. Of course, the Chinese Press came out with a statement that he was unwell and ‘needed to be lifted-up and shown the way out’.

The sweeping reshuffle of the Standing Committee came after the departure of key party leaders not in Xi’s inner circle – Premier Li Keqiang and Wang Yang, head of China’s top advisory body. Both have been retired despite being one year below the party’s unofficial retirement age of 68 and eligible to serve another term. Xi, at 69, is one year above that informal limit. That’s again unusual.

Also absent is a clear successor to Xi Jinping.

Standing Committee lineups prior to the Xi era have included younger members as potential successors. But with the youngest member now 60 years old, there’s no stand-out name in the mix – a potential sign Xi is not planning to step down anytime soon.

That’s again unusual.

With neighbour Russia already having a President for life, is China following suit? The signs are out there for all to read.

Surgical ISRO

Early this week, precisely on Sunday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) kicked-off the Diwali celebrations in India with a faultless, efficient launch of its heaviest payload ever of 5,796 kilograms in a maiden commercial mission of its launch vehicle LVM3-M2. The 43.5 metre rocket lifted-off from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh State. Its payload consisted of 36 broadband communication satellites belonging to OneWeb. And ISRO perfectly placed all satellites in Low Earth Orbits (LEO) – about 600km above the Earth’s surface – four at a time. Imagine injecting 36 Satellites into LEO without allowing them to come too close together in the crucial 48 hours from injection. The satellites will be slowly pushed up to a final LEO of about 1000 km.

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)-Mark III developed and built by ISRO has been renamed as Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3). It is designed to carry 8,000 kgs of payloads into LEO (and 4,000 kg of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit – that’s about 35,000 km above the Earth). ‘M2’ refers to the fact that this is the second operational launch of LVM3.

The mission was undertaken as part of a commercial arrangement between New Space India Limited (NSIL) and OneWeb.

NSIL is the commercial area of ISRO which owns and builds satellites, provides launch vehicles and launch services, space-based services, satellite building and technology transfer to Indian Industries. Since inception in 2019, this is NSIL’s first commercial mission.

OneWeb (legally called Network Access Associates Ltd), is a communications company that builds and offers broadband satellite Internet services. It is building an advanced satellite constellation, consisting of 648 satellites, moving around Earth, in the LEO, to connect businesses, telecoms, and government partners with high-speed, low-latency, internet connectivity.

This is OneWeb’s 14th launch, bringing the constellation to 462 satellites representing more than 70% of its planned 648 satellite fleet. And has only four more launches to go. While 36 satellites were launched on Sunday, another batch of satellites was expected to be placed in the orbit by early 2023. And ISRO will be doing one more 36 satellite launch, as per its contract with OneWeb.

OneWeb is the world’s second biggest satellite operator – after Elon Musk’s Starlink, operated by SpaceX. OneWeb is headquartered in London, and has offices in Virginia, US and a satellite manufacturing facility in Florida – OneWeb Satellites – that is a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space. In 2020, OneWeb was acquired by the UK Government and India’s Bharti Global, and has since welcomed leading satellite communications operator Eutelsat on board, as well as additional investment from SoftBank, Hughes Network Group, and Hanwha. That’s a lot of spin. With also those satellites hugging dear Earth, will it not be hard to find gaps for future rockets to fire?

Spectacular Indian Cricket

Though I like cricket, I had given up watching tournaments a long time ago except for crossing the boundary when someone comes over to pitch-in and watch a match at home. This Sunday I did just that when a cousin whose monsoon-rain leaking house was under renovation came over to watch the India-Pakistan ICC T20 Cricket match playing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) Australia. Little did I know there would be a fireworks display of cricket to announce Diwali being celebrated across India and the World, the next day. An India-Pakistan cricket match is always pregnant with possibilities of fierce competition and wild sensationalism. And I was not disappointed.

I lazily got into the match with India winning the toss and electing to bowl. Pakistan started badly, losing wickets, but gradually lit the first sparks, fired-up the stadium, and smoked-out with 159 runs on the board at the end of 20 overs.

India then entered the arena, with 160 runs to fire in 20 overs: expectations, as always, were as high as the Himalayas. A few quick wickets falling and the run rate going below that required for India to win on a trot brought the usual sighs: oohs, aayes, and aahs! With the score at 31 with 4 wickets down in 6 overs, India was in tatters and my cousin was crestfallen and gave-up, but I said I’m an incorrigible optimist and believed India can always hit six sixes – if required- in the last over to win a match.

Former Indian Cricket Captain and awfully out-of-form Virat Kholi was at the crease with Hardik Pandya – known for sending rockets to the spectator stands. And today it was packed with more than 90,000 of them.

Once upon a time, Kohli was a mean run-machine and arguably peaked in 2016, the year in which he scored a masterclass 82 runs of 52 balls again Australia in Mohali in the 2016 T20 World Cup. As the Covid pandemic hit the world, the crowds vanished, and so too Kholi’s form with cheap dismals becoming the norm. Kholi could not find a vaccine to boost his performance until this Sunday. Maybe he held on to self-belief and talked to all those tattoos on his body.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, goes the tired old saying. Virat Kohli smashed an unbeaten 82 off 53 balls including four massive sixes, and in what could be called the innings of a lifetime to put India within reach of a stunning victory off the final ball. The winning runs were hit by the just-arrived-at-the-crease Ashwin Ravichandran.

Going back to how it all unfolded: after 15 overs, India had a score of 100 runs with the loss of 4 wickets; Virat Kohli was on 42 and Hardik Pandya on 32. And after the 18th over India needed 31 runs off 12 balls, to win; and well into the 19th over it became 28 runs to win off 8 balls. When poised at this stage, Virat hit two bold sixes in succession to bring the score to 144, with 16 runs to win in the last over off 6 balls.

Let me try to bring the intensity and the edge-of-the-seat twist & turns of the thrilling last over – the 20th.

In the first ball, Hardik mistimes a shot and it rises up for any easy catch. Now, it’s 16 runs off 5 balls. In walks wicket-keeper batsman, old warhorse, Dinesh Karthik who has been in this ‘India situation’ many times before. He manages to needle the ball and takes a single run to bring Kohli to bat. Now it’s 15 runs off 4 balls. Kohli hits the next ball and takes two quick singles to bring it to 13 runs off 3 balls. After gathering his breath and surveying a possible Kingdom to capture, Kohli whacks the next waist-high ball for a super six and it is called a No-Ball with a free-hit (add one run and an extra ball). Now it’s 6 runs required off 3 balls. The free-hit ball is bowled and ricochets off the stumps for three runs behind the stumps making it 3 runs off 3 balls and bringing Karthik to face the bowling. Karthik is stumped when he tries to go after the next ball and misses, and it becomes 2 runs off 2 balls. He leaves the field to send spin-bowler Ashwin Ravichandran, who cooly and cleverly leaves alone the last but one ball – judging it to be a wide. It becomes 1 run required of just 1 ball. And a watchful Ashwin hits the last ball to the boundary to win a thriller of a match for India. King Kohli looks on from the other end, sitting on a Throne. A commentator thought he saw a tear in the corner of the King’s eyes. Take a bow, Virat Kohli.

More free-hitting stories will be surgically launched in the weeks ahead. Connect with World Inthavaaram.


About –the stories of the world this week, 16 October to 22 October 2022: dangerous Pakistan, schooling the Taliban, dressing-up Iran, taxing cow burps, a lettuce outlasts a Prime Minister, grand-old party elections, jungle raj, and the science of the most beautiful woman in the world.


United States President Joe Biden seemed to suddenly wake up from a deep slumber and come alive to say that ‘Pakistan may be one of the most dangerous nations in the World, which holds nuclear weapons without any cohesion’. Ask any grown-up, and he would have said that without blinking an eye or stumbling over the stairs.

In Afghanistan, it’s near about 400 days since the Taliban banned teenage girls from school. Afghan girls have been forced to contemplate a life without formal education, locked out of their classrooms only because of their gender – being female. The World is still unable to collar the Taliban on education. And we have to work harder to find a way to open schools to girls.

Meanwhile, in Iran, protests against the Islamic Dress Code continues unabated and last week yet another young girl, with dreams in her eyes, was killed. This was when Iranian Security Services raided the Shahed Girls High School in Ardabil, on 13 October, and demanded a group of girls sing a pro-regime song: 16 years old Asra Panahi was beaten to death in her classroom for refusing to sing.

School girls have emerged as a powerful force, in the current protests across the country, to bring the regime in Iran to understand their freedom concerns.

If you thought Australia is funny, New Zealand is getting there, when last week New Zealand’s Prime Minister (PM), Jacinda Arden unveiled plans for the world’s first levy on agricultural gases and biogenic methane, which mainly comes from burps produced by the country’s estimated 6 million cows and 26 million sheep. Tax on burping? What next, tax on breathing?

Close behind New Zealand’s creative taxing, is the United Kingdom with British politics trying to emulate Australia’s style of politics. Following a disastrous economic policy roll-out, unfunded tax cuts, and energy price guarantees, the 45 days old, new Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned this week as Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. Earlier, the PM had sacked the Chancellor of the Exchequer over the controversial economic plan. A new PM is expected to fill the space by next week and figure out how to take Britain forward.

Counting her ‘net days’ as PM, a lettuce on the shelf outlasted her – as many went about predicting her downfall. The dice was loaded against her from the start!

The British Government is in shambles and rolled us to a ‘deja-vu’ of the Boris Johnson times. A day earlier, a ‘brave’ Home Secretary quit over a ‘security mistake’ – the second fall after the Finance Minister. And before others could even stir, the PM found the door out of 10 Downing Street wide open.

Liz Truss’ is the shortest serving period of Prime Ministership in the history of the UK. And if I were a four months old baby I would have lived through four Chancellors, three Home Secretaries, two Prime Ministers and two Monarchs. The UK will now see its fifth PM since the divisive 2016 Brexit Referendum, intensifying calls for an early general election.

Maybe a dose of ‘reverse colonisation’ would do Britain enormous good. Last heard, India’s Prime Minister is expanding his 56 inch war chest!

Grand Old Party, Grand Old Elections

This week, after 24 years, India’s Congress Party finally held an election to the top post of President: the acting President was Mom Sonia Gandhi after son Rahul Gandhi resigned taking responsibility for a string of Election defeats, which have since only got worser. Conveniently, only two Congressmen contested: one, the stylish Shashi Tharoor, who has a way with words, and two, old warhorse Mallikarjun Kharge. The latter entered the fray after the Congress’ Rajasthan Chief Minister (CM) tried to whack the Presidency and also keep the Chief Ministership of his State. But then, in walked a rule which said one-person-one post, enforced by the now Bharat Jodo Yatra walking Rahul Gandhi, and the CM decided to stay-put in Rajasthan. The Election was tacitly sealed with the Gandhi family backed Kharge invisibly declared elected. But then, the hand of Elections must be visible to show ‘democracy at work’: enter Sashi Tharoor, who played his role to perfection – to the little finger in the hand.

The Election results were announced on Wednesday this week, and as widely predicted Mallikarjun Kharge won. He polled 7897 votes (84.14%) against Shashi Tharoor’s 1072 votes (11.42%). And the 137 years old Congress Party finally has a 80 years old President as it 98th President. If only age means wisdom, in the true sense, we can see fireworks in the coming months and years!

Kharge is a senior Congress Party politician from the State of Karnataka. He had contested the 2019 General Elections (which kept the ruling BJP in the Government at the Centre) in Karnataka’s Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency and lost to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate by over 95,000 votes. Later in the year 2020, Kharge was elected to the Rajya Sabha, from Karnataka. And in February 2021 was appointed Leader of Opposition in India’s Parliament’s Upper House, the Rajya Sabha, which position he held until his election as Congress President.

Will an old hand be able to revive the nose-diving fortunes of the Congress. My only wish is he tries to do a Narashima Rao to the Congress Presidency!

P V Narashima Rao (PVNR) was a die-hard Congress loyalist who lost almost all his hair and most of his teeth ( I can still recall that rare toothless smile) ploughing along with the various leaders of the Congress Party. When in his sunset years and into retirement, he was called to fill-in as PM at the age of 70, on the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. He went on to become one of the best PMs, the Congress Party could offer India. His path-breaking economic reforms of 1991, with Dr Manmohan Singh as his Finance Minister, dismantled India’s strangulating Licence Raj, broke the shackles of the Indian Economy, and unleashed a never-before seen growth in India. I do not know whether this helped, but PVNR could speak 17 languages – 9 Indian and 8 foreign.

In my opinion, the Gandhi Family and the Congress Party failed to give PVNR the respect he deserved – having done better than anyone of them!

Return of the Jungle Raj: wanted a Tarzan

The state of Bihar was once known for its lawlessness had earned the epithet, ‘Jungle Raj’ (law of the jungle) under former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav who was subsequently found guilty of stealing fodder meant for cattle, convicted and sent to prison. The present Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Yadav was ruling with the support of the BJP and in a Tarzan style vine swing, jumped away from the BJP tree, resigned as Chief Minister, joined hands with Lalu’s Party tree, and swung back as Chief Minister. Tarzan would have been proud. Well, that smelt of the forest, and armed robbers and thieves who had became trees in the jungles of Bihar retuned to normal life and like America’s Wild-Wild-West stopped a train – the Delhi -Kolkata Duronto Express- near the Capital Patna and looted the passengers off their valuables, at gun-point – leaving only the life inside them. This is a swinging return to the bad old times in Bihar!

The Science of Beauty

Long ago, Greek Philosopher Plato said, ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’, which made beauty subjective. Then English Poet John Keats came along and said ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever’. We all agreed. But what if ‘(any) lies told by the eyes’ are pinned down and there is an objective science to beauty? Scientists have been working on finding the magic ever since.

British Actress, Jodie Comer, has been declared the most beautiful woman in the world, according to Science – scientifically. Singer Beyonce and reality-show star Kim Kardashian also made it to the top ten. Actor and model Deepika Padukone is the only Indian on the list of the 10 most beautiful women in the world.

The list has been declared by a scientist, who used the latest computerised mapping strategy to apply an ancient Greek technique called ‘Golden Ratio of Beauty’ to decide the world’s most beautiful women.

The Golden Ratio of Beauty, also called Phi, is a mathematical method, in which formulas are applied to determine physical perfection. According to the ancient Greeks, beauty can be measured by specific ratios on one’s face and body, and in the numerical form, the closer the ratios are to 1.618, which equals Phi, the more desirable a person is said to be.

Jodie Comer is the world’s most beautiful woman as her facial elements equaled the perfect ratio. Other contenders, such as actor Zendaya and model Bella Hadid, met the physical qualifications and were placed on the second and third spot, respectively.

Jodie Comer was a clear winner when all elements of the face were measured for physical perfection. She had the highest overall reading for the positioning of her nose and lips, with a score of 98.70%, which is only 1.30% away from being the perfect shape. Jodie also had the highest score for her nose width and length and she was near the top for the shape of her lips and the position of her eyes. Apart from Jodie, the Golden Ratio scores of other celebs on the list are: Zendaya – 94.37%, Bella Hadid -94.35%, Beyonce – 92.44%, Ariana Grande 91.81%, Taylor Swift 91.64%, Jourdan Dunn 91.39%, Kim Kardashian 91.28%, Deepika Padukone-91.22%, and HoYeon Jung – 89.63%. Go ahead and google to learn more about their shapes and sizes.

Jodie Marie Comer is an English actress, born and raised in Liverpool.

In addition to this ‘beauty award’, she has received two British Academy Television Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award; nominations for two Golden Globe Awards, two Critics Choice Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

More scientifically beautiful stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Make friends with Tarzan and stay alive with World Inthavaaram.

Happy Diwali: light-up your life with the goodness of humanity, we are all beautiful in our own way.


About –the stories of the world this week, 9 October to 15 October 2022, a bridge gets attention, uncovering head-covering, trying to get to the moon, multiple news in India, and dwindling wildlife on Earth.


Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Long before the present round of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia had ‘captured Ukraine’s Crimea’ in 2014 and officially annexed it in 2015. The Russians then quickly got to work and built what’s called the Crimean bridge, or Kerch Bridge, across the Kerch Strait linking Crimea’s Kerch to Russia’s Taman Krasnodar Krai. It is a 19 kilometres long bridge with a pair of parallel bridges, one for a four-lane road and one for a double-track railway. The bridge became one of the longest in Europe.

President Vladimir Putin himself personally opened the Kerch bridge by driving a truck across it in 2018, hailing it as the ‘construction of the century’. The Rail part was inaugurated in 2019 – and there were no reports of Putin having driven a train this time. The bridge connecting Russia to the Ukraine mainland, through Crimea, is an easy means of moving military equipment, ammunition, and troops during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

Late last week -early Saturday- an explosion severely damaged parts of the road and rail bridge. The explosion originated at the road bridge, and the blast started a fire on a fuel train on the overhead rail bridge: it is not clear whether it originated above the bridge deck, or below. The blast caused one span to rupture at its middle. The adjacent span on the Crimean side remained intact, but was pulled off and also collapsed into the sea. A third span on the Russian side remains standing, while the next span fell off. But the Russians recovered, got cracking, and brought the bridge back to safe mode in double-quick time.

The bridge plays a strategic role in the ongoing war, and Ukraine has said it is a legitimate target, as they vow to retake the peninsula. They responded with a thinly veiled approval to the explosion, but have not indicated that their forces were behind the attack.

Meanwhile, Putin in a display of brutality and vengeance unleashed a streak of missile attacks on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, blaming Ukraine for the attack on the bridge, calling it an ‘act of terrorism’, Wow!

In this modern era it is unbelievable that we allow a rouge county to effortlessly pull-off attacking another sovereign country and seemingly get-away with it. And we are all reduced to ‘rubble spectators’. The Ukrainians are trying their best to go about their business as usual, and one has to admire their tenacious spirit in building bridges to a normal life.

Uncovering Iran

The protests in Iran over the Islamic Dress Code continues. Dozens of protesters have been killed since the unrest began last month following the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, in custody when she was detained by the morality police for not covering her hair properly. Another incident uncovered the hijab further, when 16 years old Nika Shakarami, last seen standing on a dumpster and burning her headscarf, as others chant slogans against the Islamic Republic, disappeared after telling a friend she was being chased by police. She was found dead ten days later.

“Under authoritarianism it’s not easy to voice your opinion. Even though their courage is extraordinary, their demands are not. They’re asking for equality, to be able to have dignity, justice, not to be judged on what they wear” said award-winning British-Turkish Novelist & Activist Elif Shafak.

School students participating in street protests are being detained and taken to mental health institutions. And referred to what are called ‘psychological institutions’, where the students are reformed and re-educated to prevent ‘anti-social’ behaviour. They are then released into the education stream, after they’ve been reformed!

That’s another revolution happening in Iran.

NASA’s Honey Moon

After many forces, technical and natural, challenged America’s NASA’s Artemis Moon Mission and succeeded in keeping it grounded, NASA is finally breaking free. The target for the next launch attempt for the Artemis-I Mission is 14th November 2022. And I look forward to seeing Artemis-I ‘honey the moon’ and comeback with sweet stories for launching the Man & Woman Mission, Artemis-II – I hope.

India Melange

In a gruesome and shocking suspected incidence of human sacrifice in Elanthoor, Pathanamthitta District, Kerala State, two women, Rosly and Padman were killed in a horrific manner. And it is believed that cooked body parts were eaten that would enable ‘the sacrificers’ to preserve their youth, besides achieving financial prosperity.

The prime accused is a history-sheeter, sexual pervert and psychopath, Muhammad Safi, 52, who along with Laila, 59, and her husband Bhagaval Singh, 68 – a traditional healer and masseur – carried out the brutal act that stunned India this week. Safi had befriended the couple through a Facebook profile in the name of ‘Sreedevi’, and later masquerading as Godman Rasheed influenced them to do his bidding. Police cracked the case while probing the missing Padman – based on a complaint by her son- and the three suspects were arrested. One of the victims was lured with money for acting in a pornographic video while the other was promised sex work. The bodies of the victims were cut into pieces and thrown away, and Police recovered 61 packets of body parts.

Absoultely disgusting that such cannibalism and antediluvian beliefs exist in these modern times.

Elections are always happening in India, throughout the year, and the end of season announcements were made this week: the State of Himachal Pradesh with 68 Assembly seats will go the polls in a single phase on 12th November. The counting will be on 8th December. The elections in the Prime Minister’s home State of Gujarat, which is always seen as test of his grip on the voters-is expected to be announced soon.

A former Delhi University Professor, Saibaba – in Jail for about 7 years – was acquitted and ordered to be released by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. This was following his conviction in March 2017 for links to the banned Maoists and indulging in activities amounting to waging war against the country. ‘Urban Naxalism’ is the modern term used to describe such behaviour. It springs from the Naxalbari uprising in India where tribals fought landlords as well as the Government to protect their rights over land ownership, means and way of living.

India’s highly entertaining, fitness-minded, scion and Prince of the Grand Old Party of India -The Indian National Congress- Rahul Gandhi pounced upon an idea to boost the dwindling popularity of his Party, in the tempest of Election set-back after setback. And while still searching for that elusive President of the Congress Party of which his Mom is the acting President. The election of a real President is finally in progress after a very long time, with two candidates in the fray, trying to show which ‘hand’ is the best.

On 7th September, Rahul embarked on a Bharat Jodo Yatra (Unite India March) – a padayatra (walk by foot)- that began in the southern-most tip of India, Kanyakumari in Tamilnadu State, and is scheduled to end in Srinagar in the northern State of Jammu & Kashmir. It covers 12 States in a distance of nearly 3500 kilometres over a duration of about 150 days. This weekend it will be day 37. And while Rahul is trying to make people to ‘overcome hatred’ and come together to strengthen India, he is certainly strengthening his muscles: doing push-ups on the road; tying his Mom’s shoe laces; marching his old Party colleagues to young fitness levels; and growing a beard.

Hope to see a strong and united India to match the 56-inch chest of India’s Prime Minister.

Please Yourself

The World’s leading conservation organisation, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released its Living Planet Report 2022 and the situation is deadly alarming.

According to the report, wildlife populations – mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish – have seen a devastating 69% drop on average since 1970. The report highlights the stark outlook of the state of nature and urgently warns governments, businesses, and the general public to take transformative action to reverse the destruction of biodiversity.

“We face the double emergencies of human-induced climate change and biodiversity loss, threatening the well-being of current and future generations. WWF is extremely worried by this new data showing a devastating fall in wildlife populations, in particular in tropical regions that are home to some of the most biodiverse landscapes in the world,” said the Director General of WWF International.

More wild and natural stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Wake-up to the task of conserving Planet Earth and all that it holds. Stay with World Inthavaaram.


About –the stories of the world this week, 2 October to 8 October 2022: deadly football, a tight election in Brazil, 5G in India, a fierce helicopter, Noble Prizes – and human evolution.


Crushing Football in Indonesia

Football – Association Football – is the most popular sport in Indonesia in terms of attendance, participation, and revenue. And the domestic league, played at all levels – from children to middle-aged men – is widely followed across the country.

Liga 1, the Indonesian domestic league is hugely popular and was started around 1930 in the Dutch colonial era. The National Body that kicks the football around the country is the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI). Some of the major teams are: Persija Jakarta, Persib Bandung, Persebaya Surabaya, PSM Makassar, Persita Tangerang, PSMS Medan, PSIS Semarang, Persik Kediri, Persipura Jayapura, Persiwa Wamena, and Arema Malang.

Few places in the world can match the passion for football generated by fans in Indonesia, where stadiums are regularly packed to the rafters to cheer their sides. Fans are strongly attached to their clubs, and such fanaticism often ends in violence and hooliganism, mostly outside the stadiums.

On Saturday, last week, in Malang, East Java the home team Area FC lost, 2-3, to long-time, bitter rival Persebaya Surabaya at an overcrowded Kanjuruhan stadium. On the final whistle, marking the defeat, Arema FC fans invaded the pitch, causing the Police to chase them to bring order. They then started attacking the Police, damaging vehicles and a Police car was set on fire. In response, the Police began firing tear gas, on the spread of which spectators in the stadium panicked and started running towards the exits. And in the stampede and the surge to leave the Stadium that followed, at least 130 people were suffocated or crushed to death and hundreds injured. This is one of the world’s worst stadium disasters. Two police officers also died in the melee.

The Kanjuruhan stadium has a stated capacity of 38,000 and 42,000 tickets were sold for the match. However, being the home ground of Arema FC, Persebaya Surabaya fans were banned from buying tickets, fearing clashes between the sides – whoever wins or loses.

FIFA, the world’s governing football body, states that no ‘crowd control gas’ should be carried or used by stewards or Police at matches. Here, Police had fired numerous tear gas rounds ‘continuously and fast’ after the situation with the fans became ‘tense’. If the crowds panic and the Police also panic, it can lead to nothing but disaster. It did.

Across the world, other instances of Stadium disasters are:

In the year 1964, 320 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured during a stampede at a Peru-Argentina Olympic qualifier in Peru’s Capital, Lima.

In 1985, during the European Cup final between England’s Liverpool and Italy’s Juventus Clubs, 39 people died and 600 were hurt at the Heysel stadium in Brussels, Belgium, when fans were crushed against a wall that then collapsed.

In 1989, in the United Kingdom, crush of football fans led to the death of 97 Liverpool fans attending the club’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield. The tragedy was largely attributed to mistakes by the Police.

Lessons still to be learnt: new ‘safety’ goals are to be set by the Police and Authorities managing sport in stadiums.

Close Presidential Elections in Brazil

Brazil’s bitterly divisive presidential election is headed for a runoff on 30th October as incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro beat expectations to finish a closer-than-expected second to front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Lula, seeking a presidential comeback, secured 48.4% of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 43.2%. Simone Tebet, a member of the Brazilian Federal Senate, an academic and lawyer politician came a distant third with 4.2% of the votes.

It was an unexpectedly strong result for the combative ex-army captain Bolsonaro, and for Brazil’s far-right, which also had surprise good showings in a series of key congressional and governors’ races.

Lula, the popular but tarnished ex-President who led Brazil from 2003 to 2010, had been the favourite to win the race – possibly in a single round.

Super-fast 5G in India

On 1st October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 5G services in India ushering a new era of super-fast communications.

In telecommunications, 5G is the Fifth Generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019, and is the planned successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity to most current cellphones. 5G is up to 100 times faster than 4G.

Let’s go back a decade to when it all started with 1G and move up a decade and a Generation, at a time.

In 1980 we had 1G with mobile voice calls. In 1990 we stepped on to 2G with mobile voice calls and SMS (Short Message Service). In 2000 we walked fast on 3G with mobile web browsing. Then in 2010 we began running on 4G with mobile video consumption and higher data speed. Now 5G provides the sprint: faster connectivity speeds, ultra-low latency and greater bandwidth dramatically enhancing day-to-day experiences. Services that we used to see as futuristic, such as e-health, connected vehicles and traffic systems, and advanced mobile cloud gaming have arrived.

Like its predecessors, 5G networks are cellular networks, in which the service area is divided into small geographical areas called cells. All 5G wireless devices in a cell are connected to the Internet and telephone network by radio waves through a local antenna in the cell. The new networks have higher download speeds, eventually up to 10 gigabits per second. In addition to 5G being faster than existing networks, 5G has higher bandwidth and can thus connect more of different devices, improving the quality of Internet services in crowded areas.

India’s Blue Thunder

India’s indigenously built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) was commissioned this week and named Prachand, meaning ‘fierce’.

This is a fierce lift-off for India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan campaign, which intent is to make India a self-reliant country in all aspects.

Prachand is a multi-role, light attack helicopter, capable of taking-off and landing at an altitude of 16,400 feet – perhaps the only one of its kind in the world with such a high flight ceiling. It is manufactured by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and designed by its in-house Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre.

It has been ordered by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army based on a lessons -learnt outcome during the 1999 Kargil War, in which India successfully staved off and attack by Pakistan. The war revealed that Indian armed forces lacked a suitably armed rotorcraft capable of operating unrestricted in the high-altitudes.

Prachand is equipped with a two-person tandem cockpit to accommodate a pilot and co-pilot gunner and can perform both the anti-infantry and anti-armour missions. The features that are unique to Prachand include its narrow fuselage, a crashworthy tricycle landing gear arrangement and self-sealing fuel tanks, armour protection, and a low visibility stealth profile. It is protected via an extensive electronic warfare suite which comprises multiple defensive elements to guard against various kinds of threats. These include a radar warning receiver, laser warning receiver and a missile approach warning system. The protective measures included consist of a digital camouflage system, an infrared suppressor fitted to the engine exhaust, and an exterior covered by canted flat panels to minimise its radar cross-section. It is furnished with an integrated dynamic system, including a hingeless main rotor and bearing-less tail rotor, which works in conjunction with an anti-resonance isolation system to dampen vibrations.

That’s breathtaking capability developed by India. Way to go! Prachand whirled memories of the 1983 Hollywood movie, ‘Blue Thunder’ starring ‘Jaws fame’ Roy Scheider, about a combat style Police surveillance helicopter. Remember the movie?

Rewards for Path-Breaking Work – The Nobel Prizes

The question of our origin and what makes us humans unique has engaged humanity since ancient times. I’ve always been fascinated by human evolution: how did we get here in our present shape? Finally, we are getting some definitive answers to the many puzzling questions about our origins.

First, a few scientific definitions: hold your head tight before it starts spinning.

Taxonomy is a scheme of hierarchical classification in which things are organised into groups or types. Human taxonomy is the classification of the human species within the zoological taxonomy. Genome means the complete set of genes or genetic material present in a cell or organism. It is made of DNA (or RNA) and other elements that control the activity of genes. Genome sequencing is a laboratory method that is used to determine the entire genetic makeup of a specific organism or cell type.

We humans belong to the Kingdom – Animalia, Phylum-Chordata, Class-Mammalia, Order-Primates, Family-Hominidae, Subfamily-Homininae, Tribe-Hominini, Genus-Homo, Species-Sapiens. Going deeper, the genus Homo is placed in the tribe Hominini alongside Pan-Chimpanzees. The two genera diverged over an extended time of hybridization spanning roughly 10 to 6 million years ago, with possible admixture as late as 4 million years ago.

The genus, Homo includes both anatomically modern humans and extinct varieties of archaic humans. In the Tribe ‘Homini’ only one species exists today – that’s us Homo Sapiens (meaning ‘wise man’, in Latin), or plain human beings. Other human varieties went extinct just like the Dinosaurs did. And the reasons are yet to be conclusively established.

Now, armed with this scientific background, let’s move to more nobler things:

This year’s The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to Sweden’s Svante Paabo for his work on human evolution – for his discoveries concerning the genomes of extinct hominins and human evolution. The Prize committee said he achieved the seemingly impossible task of cracking the genetic code of one of our extinct relatives – Neanderthals (Homo Neanderthalensis). He also performed the ‘sensational’ feat of discovering a previously unknown relative – Denisovans (Homo Denisova). His work significantly helped explore our own evolutionary history and how humans spread around the planet.

Svante Paabo successfully sequenced the genome of a Neanderthal in the year 2010 by extracting the DNA from the femur bones of three 38,000 years old female Neanderthal specimens from Vindija Cave, Croatia, and other bones found in Spain, Russia, and Germany.

Recall, by the end of the 1990’s, almost the entire human genome had been sequenced, which was an outstanding, path-breaking accomplishment that allowed subsequent studies of the genetic relationship between different human populations.

Paabo found that gene transfer had occurred from these now extinct hominins to Homo Sapiens following the migration out of Africa. This ancient flow of genes to present-day humans has physiological relevance today, for example affecting how our immune system reacts to infections.

Paabo’s seminal research gave rise to an entirely new scientific discipline: paleogenomics. By revealing genetic differences that distinguish all living humans from extinct hominins, his discoveries provide the basis for exploring what makes us uniquely human.

Paleontological and archeological research provided evidence that the anatomically modern Homo Sapiens, first appeared in Africa approximately 300,000 years ago, while our closest known relatives, Neanderthals, developed outside Africa and populated Europe and Western Asia from around 400,000 years until 30,000 years ago, at which point they went extinct. About 70,000 years ago, groups of Homo Sapiens migrated from Africa to the Middle East and, from there they spread to the rest of the world. Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals thus coexisted in large parts of Eurasia for tens of thousands of years.

We know about our relationship with the extinct Neanderthals from clues derived from genomic information. Comparisons with contemporary humans and chimpanzees demonstrated that Neanderthals were genetically distinct. It has also been demonstrated that the most recent common ancestor of Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens lived around 800,000 years ago. This means that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens interbred during their millennia of coexistence. In modern day humans with European or Asian descent, approximately 1 to 4% of the genome originates from the Neanderthals.

In 2008, a 40,000-year-old fragment from a finger bone was discovered in the Denisova cave in the southern part of Siberia. The bone contained exceptionally well-preserved DNA, which Paabo’s team sequenced. The results caused a sensation: the DNA sequence was unique when compared to all known sequences from Neanderthals and present-day humans. Paabo had discovered a previously unknown hominin, which was given the name Denisova. Comparisons with sequences from contemporary humans from different parts of the world showed that gene flow had also occurred between Denisova and Homo sapiens. This relationship was first seen in populations in Melanesia and other parts of South East Asia, where individuals carry up to 6% Denisova DNA.

At the time when Homo Sapiens migrated out of Africa, at least two now extinct hominin populations inhabited Eurasia. Neanderthals lived in western Eurasia, whereas Denisovans populated the eastern parts of the continent. During the expansion of Homo sapiens outside Africa and their migration east, they not only encountered and interbred with Neanderthals, but also with Denisovans Interbreeding occurred when Homo sapiens spread across the continent, leaving traces that remain in our DNA.

A flashback: Neanderthals were the first species of fossil hominins discovered and have secured their place in our collective imagination ever since. The first Neanderthal fossils were found in Engis, Belgium in 1829, but were not identified as belonging to Neanderthals until almost 100 years later. The first fossils to be called Neanderthals were found in 1856 in Germany, at a site in the Neander Valley (where Neanderthals get their name from).

The other Nobel Prizes of 2022, announced are:

The Nobel Prize in Physics to France’s Alain Aspect, USA’s John F. Clauser and Austria’s Anton Zeilinger, ‘for experiments with entangled photons, establishing the violation of Bell inequalities and pioneering quantum information science’.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry to USA’s Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Denmark’s Morten Meldal, and USA’s K. Barry Sharpless, ‘for the development of click chemistry and bioorthogonal chemistrye’.

The Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to the French author Annie Ernaux ‘for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory’.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties: they represent civil society in their home countries. Said the announcement , “They have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy”.

Over the years there was a grouse about the ‘tiny amount’ of female prize winners. Maybe someone heard?

As of 2022, Unique Nobel Prize laureates include 885 men, 59 women, and 25 Organizations. Only one woman, Marie Curie, has been honoured twice, with the Nobel Prize in Physics 1903 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1911.

More gritty, armoured stories coming up in the weeks ahead, work hard and stay the course, you may win a Nobel; meanwhile, keep reading World Inthavaaram to evolve better.


About –the stories of the world this week, 25 September to 1 October 2022: All kinds of tensions – religious, nature blowing, stealing land, a country making a right-turn, homeland surgical operations, and a classic Tamil novel becomes a movie and hits the cinema screen.


The protests in Iran on the killing of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, while in Detention by the Morality Police, over improper wearing of the hijab-headscarf continues. Over 70 people have been killed in the unrest and thousands arrested. Women cutting off their hair and burning the hijab has become the signature of the protests against the stringent Islamic Dress Code. Iranian Authorities are struggling to put-down this bold defiance, uncovering after quite a long time, in Iran. And the excessive force being used probably unveils how things went wrong in the first place.

In the United States, a force of nature, Hurricane Ian made landfall along the southwestern coast of Florida as a powerful Category-4 storm. It’s one of the strongest hurricanes in recent times to hit the west coast of the Florida Peninsula. The extremely dangerous conditions unleashed by the Hurricane including catastrophic floods, and life-threatening storm surges continued as the storm advanced inland. In a second landfall it battered South Carolina after leaving a trail of destruction across Florida.

Religious Tensions

Leicester is a city in England’s East Midlands region close to the River Soar, where the National Forest area ends. And it is one of its oldest cities with a deep history. Leicester Cathedral, which has stood for over 900 years in the heart of the city is where Britain’s King Richard III was reinterred in 2015.

Leicester has a population over 4.5 Lakhs with a demography of Whites being the largest ethnic group at over 50%, followed by Asians at about 37%.

Recent Hindu-Muslim violence in Leicester caused shock and outrage, and was alarming as the city is known for its diversity, its multiculturisim roots, and has been a model of cohesion for decades. And such unrest is extremely rare. Some tensions in Leicester had been brewing for a while, but it had never got to the point of confrontation before.

The recent disturbances in Leicester first began last month after an India-Pakistan cricket match. On 28 August, cricket fans from Hindu and Muslim communities clashed after India beat Pakistan in the Asia Cup T20 tournament in Dubai. Eight people were arrested on suspicion of assault and violent disorder.

In the weeks following the incident, several disturbances in East Leicester led to more arrests. The tensions reached boiling point on 17th September when a group of Hindus peacefully marched through Green Lane Road, which has predominantly Muslim-owned businesses, chanting, “Jai Shri Ram (Hail Lord Ram)”. Then fights broke out, bottles were thrown, property was smashed and a religious flag was pulled off a Hindu temple in the area. There were even roars that this is a ‘Muslim only area’ and how dare others enter. Over last weekend, multiple retaliatory marches and protests further escalated tensions.

However, this may not be as straightforward as a sporting feud that has got out of hand: It seems like there were simmering tensions before this cricket match. A pointer is an incident which occurred before the 28th August incident in which a young Muslim man said that he was assaulted by a Hindu gang. No one has been charged, but the allegations alone appear to have been enough to stoke further tensions. It is learnt that particular pieces of misinformation such as this fuelled tension in the run-up to the worst of the disorder on the weekend of 17-18 September. One false story was referenced several times.

“Today my 15 years daughter was nearly kidnapped,” read a post uploaded on Facebook, supposedly by a concerned father. “Three Indian boys got out and asked her if she was Muslim. She said yes and one guy tried to grab her.” The post was liked hundreds of times, not on Facebook but on Twitter after a community activist, tweeted the family’s story on 13 September. He also shared a message from the police, which he said was “confirming the incident which took place on 12 September”. But there had been no kidnap attempt. A day later, Leicestershire Police issued a statement after investigating and stated that the incident did not take place at all. The community activist deleted his posts and said the attempted abduction had not happened and that his initial version had been based on conversation with the family making the allegation. But damage had already been done and this false kidnap claim kept being regurgitated on other social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram. Messages forwarded many times over were initially taken by some as the truth. On Instagram, profiles – some with hundreds of thousands of followers – shared screenshots of the original post and allegedly accused a Hindu man of being behind the ‘failed abduction’.

Days later a mob of more than 200 people, mostly Muslims, attacked Durga Bhawan Hindu Centre in Smethwick, Birmingham, and shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ slogans. And following this an Islamist group shared posts calling for a demonstration outside the Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir in Wembley. This is the latest in a series of incidents targeting Hindus in the United Kingdom in recent days.

In a video posted on Twitter, an Islamist could be seen provoking Muslims in the city, calling Hindus gangsters, and mocking the religion.

Hindu-hatred and Hindu-phobia seem to be the new words in Town.

Russian Tensions

Tensions are rising in Russia. Last week, Russia kicked off a five-day referendum in the occupied Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine. The question on the ballot: “Do you wish to secede from Ukraine?” It comes as Russia announced a troop surge of 300,000 and its first draft since World War II amid mounting nuclear concerns. Meanwhile, thousands fled the country to escape the draft.

Ukrainians report that Russian soldiers are going door-to-door, coercing people ‘under a gun barrel’ to vote in favour of annexation. When ‘The Results’ were announced there was no surprise – all four occupied regions of Ukraine voted to join Russia.

Ukraine and Western countries including the US have condemned the vote as a sham. The United Nations Security Council said it will never accept the results and the four regions will remain part of Ukraine.

That’s a sham referendum for sure, but late this week Russia went ahead and declared these territories as Annexed to Russia, and henceforth people living in them are Russian citizens. That’s cold-blooded land-grabbing.

Italy: Right Turn

Italy is turning in the ‘right’ direction. The ultra-conservative Brothers of Italy Party led by Giorgia Meloni won 26% of the vote and along with coalition partners, The League – led by Matteo Salvini (8.8%) and Forza Italia – led by Silvio Berlusconi (8.1%) secured a clear majority in Parliament. Together with a smaller party representing less than 1% of the vote their right-wing coalition obtained 43.8% of the total votes. All this translates into 237 seats in the 400 seat Chamber of Deputies-called the Lower House, and 115 seats in the 200 seat Senate of the Republic – called the Upper House. Their main rival, the centre-left Democratic Party won 19% of the vote with 84 seats in the Chamber and 44 seats in the Senate.

Giorgia Meloni, 45, is all set to become Italy’s first female Prime Minister leading the most far-right government since the fascist era of the Second World War. It’s expected to take weeks for a new government to be formed. And President, Sergio Mattarella will have to nominate her, which is expected to happen during the month of October.

Meloni entered Italy’s crowded political scene in 2006 and co-founded the Brothers of Italy in 2012, a party whose agenda is rooted in Euroskepticism and anti-immigration policies. In the last election, in 2018, the party won just 4.5% of the vote, but its popularity has soared in recent years.

Meloni differs from coalition partner leaders on the issue of Ukraine. Whereas Berlusconi and Salvini have both said they would like to review sanctions against Russia because of their impact on the Italian economy, Meloni has been steadfast in her support for defending Ukraine. She is deeply conservative, openly anti-LBGT, and has threatened to place same sex unions, which were legalised in Italy in 2016, under review. She has also called abortion a ‘tragedy’ raising fears for the future of women’s rights in the country.

Meloni has a daughter with her partner Andrea Giambruno, a journalist who works for Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset TV channel.

A Cool Homeland Surgical Operation

The Popular Front of India (PFI) is an Indian Political Organization founded in 2006 with the merger of the Karnataka Forum of Dignity (KFD), the National Development Front (NDF) of Kerala- established in Kerala two years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid to protect the interests of the Muslim community – and the Manitha Neethi Pasarai of Tamilnadu. It was formed to counter Hindu groups and engages in radical and exclusivist style of Muslim minority politics. It is said to be a resurrection of the banned, terrorist Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), and affiliate of the Indian Mujahideen and also has links to the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangalesh (JMB)- another proscribed organisation. That’s danger written all over. The PFI has various wings such as National Women’s Front and the Campus Front of India.

The PFI’s stated purpose is to establish Islamic rule in India.

Last week in a superbly planned surgical operation called ‘Operation Octopus’, India’s National Investigative Agency conducted large-scale raids in the ‘tentacle premises’ of PFI and its affiliates across the country on charges of terror funding and money laundering. And at the end of which about 100 PFI leaders and activists suddenly found themselves behind bars.

The raids had the stamp of good homework and not many had an inkling of what was coming up. It was conducted in a flawless manner with the entire PFI top leadership caught unawares and picked up in single swoop – meticulous planning by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and ‘India’s James Bond’, National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval.

This week, the Indian Government, loaded with solid evidence used the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to declare that the PFI and its associates as an unlawful organisation and banned it with immediate effect, for a period of five years. PFI and its associates have been indulging in unlawful activities, which are against the integrity, sovereignty, and security of the country. And have the potential of disturbing public peace and communal harmony of the country, as well as support militancy in the country.

A notification to the effect was issued by MHA, on 27 September. Eight associate organisations of PFI have been declared unlawful associations: Rehab India Foundation(RIF), Campus Front of India(CFI), All India Imams Council(AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Org (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Jr. Front, Empower India Foundation and Rehab Foundation, Kerala.

The MHA has also revealed that some of the PFI’s founding members are the leaders of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and had connections with ‘Global Terrorist Groups like Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)” and that the PFI and its associates have been working ‘covertly to increase radicalisation of the Muslim community’ by promoting a sense of insecurity.

Investigations showed that the PFI and its cadres have been consistently engaging in violent, subversive, and terrorist acts, including chopping off the limb of a Malayalam college professor, and murder of several persons in the States of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu; cold-blooded killings of people associated with organisations espousing other faiths; obtaining explosives to target prominent people and places and destruction of public property.

Looks like the Octopus has got itself a prize catch!

Tears Play

Perhaps it was the music that stirred emotions, with British singer Ellie Goulding bringing a memorable night in London to a conclusion, or maybe it was the volley of memories or the replays in the mind, and there are plenty of those shared between these tennis greats, being brought to the fore.

As Nadal sat alongside his friend and great rival at the O2 Arena in London last friday night, the pair cried. Fans chanted Federer’s name, the pair hugged and Federer received one last standing ovation. There was no doubt that this was it, the Swiss great’s final professional match in the ATP’s Laver Cup. He retires in a rally of tears – a genius who made tennis look effortless.

Please Yourself: Relieve Tension

Ace Indian filmmaker and director Mani Rathinam’s magnum-opus Ponniyin Selvan (son of River Ponni – Cauvery) based on the eponymous literary masterpiece by Tamil writer Kalki Krishnamurthy released this week, on 30 September, in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi languages.

Its Trailer became the first of a Tamil Film to be screened in Las Vegas, USA.

The film is directed by Mani Rathinam with Music scored by Academy Award winner A R Rahman, Lyrics by Vairamuthu and others, Art Direction by Thota Tharani, cinematography by Ravi Varma.

The casting includes most of the brightest stars of South Indian cinema and includes former Miss World Aishwarya Rai in a beautiful role. And the promotions have created a never before seen anticipation of a movie release.

The movie is about one of the greatest Kingdoms the world has seen, the Cholas of South India and the story is being told in two parts in a budget of over 450 crores. It is produced by Mani Rathinam’s own Madras Talkies and Subaskaran Allirajah’s Lyca Productions, which is a sub group of Lycamobiles.

Ponniyin Selvam is a historical fiction novel, first serialised in the weekly editions of the the popular Tamil magazine Kalki from 29 October 1950 to 16 May 1954, and later integrated and released as a novel in five volumes of about 2210 pages in 1955. It tells the story of early days of Arulmozhivarman who later became the great Chola Emperor Rajaraja Chola I (947 CE – 1014 CE).

Ponniyin Selvan is widely considered to be the greatest novel ever written in Tamil. The craze for the series which was published weekly was such that it elevated the magazine circulation to reach a staggering figure of 71,366 copies – no mean achievement in India of the early days. Even today, the novel has a cult following and and enduring fan base, across generations for its well-etched characters, tightly woven plot, vivid narration, wit of dialogue, and sketches/drawings of the Chola period brought alive by famous artist and painter Maniyam Selvam.

For those who have read the story and are also familiar with Indian movie stars, the star cast is a galaxy: Karthi as Vallavarayan Vandiathevan, Vikram as Aditya Karikalan, Jayam Ravi as Arulmozhi Varman, Trisha Krishnan as Kundavai, Aishwarya Rai as Nandhini, Shobitha Dhulipala as Vaanathi, Aishwarya Lakshmi as Poonguzhali, Jayaram as Azhwarkadiyaan Nambi, among many others

Read more about Ponniyin Selvan at:

More stories coming up in the weeks ahead, to break-down tensions. Watch the world with World Inthavaaram.


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


A Final Journey

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

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

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

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

That’s the end of an era!

Anti-Hijab Protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bluff Just Got Deeper

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

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

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

Food Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Golf Hero

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

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

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

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

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

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