About-the world this week, 22 January to 28 January 2023: Tanks for Ukraine; the year of the rabbit; shooting in America, a new Prime Minister for New Zealand; India’s mobile phone Operating System, and Republic Day; Australian Open Tennis; and the Oscar nominations.
Tanks for Ukraine
After weeks of squabbling, Germany has finally taken some responsibility to help Ukraine win the war against the bullying invasion of Russia.
This week, German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, confirmed that Germany will indeed send 14 Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine and give permission for other countries to send theirs too. It follows weeks of international pressure from Ukraine and its allies to approve export of German-made tanks. Poland, for example, has been pressurising Germany to send the Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine. If they wouldn’t do that, at least authorise other NATO Allies to send them, while hinting that should Germany fail to give its consent, Poland would go ahead anyway, offering to send 14 of its own Leopards. Adding-up, in another part of the world, United States (US) President Joe Biden also announced plans to send 31 Abram Tanks to Ukraine.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky believes his country needs at least 300 battle tanks to be able to defeat Russia. But, why so much focus on tanks?
Tanks represent the most powerful direct offensive weapon provided to Ukraine so far, a heavily armed and armoured system designed to meet Russia head-on, instead of firing from a distance-taking the fight to the heart of the enemy. If used smartly with necessary training, they could allow Ukraine to retake territory against Russian forces that have had time to dig-in defensive positions. It remains to be seen if the Tanks would be a real game-changer!
Meanwhile, Russia is warning that any deliveries of US tanks would be a blatant provocation and vows to ‘burn all tanks in Ukraine’. Look who’s talking about blatant provocation? Russia is always looking for a reason to keep the fire burning!
New Zealand was quick to fill its tank following the stunning but graceful resignation of Prime Minister (PM)Jacinda Ardern, who declared that her tank was empty. Chris Hipkins, 44, was unanimously elected as the Leader of the Labour Party and was sworn-in as Prime Minister this Wednesday.
Chris Hipkins was first elected to the New Zealand Parliament in 2008 and was appointed minister for Covid19 in November 2020. He was often seen on national Television talking to the people and steering the country during the pandemic. Prior to elevation to PM, he was minister for police, education, and public service.
Chris Hipkins is known as ‘Chippy’- a nickname derived from his initials, but which may have stuck thanks to an upbeat, slightly school-boyish demeanour. Hipkins has a reputation in Parliament for a sense of humour, fast quips, and a self-deprecating streak.
Hipkins married partner Jade Marie in 2020 and has two children from the relationship. The couple divorced in 2022, deciding to go their separate ways, but stay friends to bring up their 6 years old son and 4 years old daughter.
How long Hipkins will be in office is uncertain as New Zealand holds a general election in October this year. He will have less than nine months before contesting a tough election, with opinion polls indicating his party is trailing its Conservative Opposition.
The Year of The Rabbit
The year of the Rabbit is upon us. And we need all the carrots we can find. The Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on 22 January 2023. It is the most important holiday in China, and widely celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam, and countries with a significant overseas Chinese population.
The rabbit is the fourth in the twelve-year periodic sequence of animals that appear in the Chinese Zodiac related to the Chinese Calendar. Last year it was the year of the Tiger, and the next year it would be the year of the Dragon-that’s more like China!
According to the Chinese Zodiac, first comes the Rat, then the Ox, the Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and in the end, the Pig.
America’s Shooting Rounds
Last Saturday, thousands of people gathered in Monterey Park, about 16 kilometres from Los Angeles, US, for a Lunar New Year festival. Late that night, a gunman opened fire in the Star Ballroom Dance Studio Hall, killing 10 people and injuring 10 others.
About 30 minutes later, the Shooter attempted another attack in the neighbouring city of Alhambra, before he was disarmed. He entered the studio, but two people managed to wrestle the weapon off him-a semi-automatic assault pistol with an extended magazine-and he escaped.
Police have identified the gunman as Huu Can Tran, 72, who was later found dead in a white van. He had a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was declared dead at the scene. The motive behind the shooting is not yet known.
Barely 48 hours after the mass shooting in Monterey Park yet another shot to the headlines, this time with 7 killed in the Half Moon Bay area of California. The suspected shooter, Chunli Zhao, 66, was arrested by Police, two hours after the incident, in the parking lot of the Sheriff’s Office. The weapon used was found in his car. He legally owned the semi-automatic gun and the incident appears to be a workplace violence case.
Will America ever get off its Wild West Shooting?
The Operation Systems (OS) of the mobiles and smart-phones we own mostly run on Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Now India has come out with an indigenous OS, called BharOS, developed by JandKops (J and K Operations Private Limited) incubated by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras’ Pravartak Technologies Foundation.
This week BharOS was successfully tested by India’s Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. This is a great leap forward in India’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat journey of becoming self-reliant in manufacturing.
The new, indigenously developed, mobile OS aims to reduce over-dependence on foreign OS in smartphones and enhance the security and privacy of users. It comes with no default apps and therefore gives users the option ‘to not use’ an unfamiliar app. It provides more control over permissions and data that Apps seek from smartphone users. The new OS will provide access to trusted Apps via organisation-specific Private App Store Services (PASS), which is a list of curated Apps that meet security and privacy standards.
BharOS also provides ‘Native Over The Air’ (NOTA) updates to ensure enhanced security of the devices. NOTA updates are automatically downloaded and installed on the device, without the need for the user to manually initiate the process. This ensures that the device is always running on the latest version of the operating system, which includes the latest security patches and bug fixes.
Initial reviews say that BharOS is less of an alternative, more of a fork version: when a developer takes a copy source code from one software package and starts independent development on it, creating a distinct and separate piece of software.
India’s Republic Day
India celebrated its 74th Republic Day on 26th January with the usual gusto, colour, and spectacular display of made-in-India weapons, on the revamped and renamed Kartavaya (meaning duty) Path – the 2km stretch from India Gate to Rashtrapati Bhavan- in India’s capital, New Delhi.
PM Narendra Modi donned a multicolour Rajasthani turban symbolising the diverse culture of India. Last year it was an Uttarakhand Cap embellished with a Brahmakamal (a sacred flower)inspired brooch.
Being invited as the Chief Guest at Republic Day celebrations is the highest honour India accords another country in terms of protocol, and this year the Chief Guest was Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
In many firsts, the British-era 25-pounder guns were replaced with the indigenous 105mm Indian Field Guns for the 21-Gun Salute. Another was the Rajasthan Frontier of Border Security (BSF) preparing the world’s first camel mounted women’s squad with more than 20 women officers taking part in the contingent.
The Government also released its annual list of Padma Awards. The Padma Vibhushan-second highest civilian award-was awarded to noted Architect B V Doshi (posthumous), tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, Indian-American mathematician Srinivasa Varadhan, Oral Rehydration Solution pioneer Dilip Mahalanabis (posthumous), along with two others.
Industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla of the Aditya Birla Group, scientist Deepak Dhar and philanthropist Sudha Murthy (wife of Infosys founder Narayana Murthy) were awarded the Padma Bhushan. Also joining them was Kannada Writer SL Bhyrappa, Artist Singer Vani Jayaram, and Linguistics Scholar Kapil Kapoor.
91 People were awarded the Padma Sri, which included Investor Rakesh Jhunjhwala, Actress Raveena Tandon, and music director M M Keeravaani who composed the music for Oscar nominated ‘Naatu Nattu’ Telugu song.
Many unsung heroes from across India were also honoured including a 102 year old artist from West Bengal, a snake-catcher duo from Tamil Nadu and a 98 yearly organic farmer from Sikkim. The expert snake-catchers, Vadivel Gopal & Masi Sadaiyan are Irula Tribals from Tamil Nadu. Their expertise and traditional knowledge of snake-catching has ‘found teeth’ in many countries.
The Awards itself will be given in a glittering function in March this year, when all the awardees parade themselves – and we get to see them, if we havent already. I hope the snake-catchers don’t turn up with a snake coiled-up around themselves!
The Australian Open (AO) is being served in Australia and Novak Djokovic is in scintillating form playing arguably the best tennis of his career. He brushed aside world No. 6, Russia’s Andrey Rublev in straight sets to reach the semifinals. And stayed perfect in the semifinals, beating America’s Tommy Paul, again in straight sets, to make a record-extending 10th men’s final. In the process he sailed past Andre Agassi’s record of 26 wins. The 35 years old Djokovic is one match away from a record-equaling 22nd Grand Slam victory.
The Women’s Singles Finals coming up this Saturday is Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina versus Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka, which will bring the countries they represent into the spotlight.
This AO was also the swan song of one of India’s greatest women players, Sania Mirza, who partnering with Rohan Bopanna in the mixed-doubles reached the finals only to lose to Brazil’s Lusia Stefani and Rafel Matos. Sania is retiring from Professional Tennis after this match and marches into the sunset…with her young son looking on-he shared a hug with mom, on Court.
This week, two-time Olympic gold medalist and American Skiing star Mikaela Shiffrin secured her 83rd World Cup win to break fellow American Lindsey Vonn’s record, in the 57th International Ski Federation (FIS) Alpine Ski World Cup. With this World Cup victory Shiffrin is only three wins behind the 86 wins of overall record holder- in both men’s and women’s skiing-held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.
The end of last week was abuzz with news about the second man to ever step foot on the Moon, Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin getting married for the fourth time. Remember in 1969 he followed crew-mate ‘first man on the Moon’ Neil Armstrong who was on the moon’s surface for two hours and 32 minutes and Aldrin spent about 15 minutes less than that. Aldrin is one of four people alive to have walked on the moon.
Said Aldrin, “On my 93rd birthday and the day I will also be honoured by Living Legends of Aviation I am pleased to announce that my longtime love Dr. Anca Faur & I have tied the knot. We were joined in holy matrimony in a small private ceremony in Los Angeles & are as excited as eloping teenagers.”
Dr Faur, 63, who has a PhD in chemical engineering, is the Executive Vice President of Aldrin’s company, Buzz Aldrin Ventures. Aldrin posted two photos of himself in a tuxedo and Faur in a long-sleeved glittering dress. Honey, there is still honey in the Moon.
The Oscars are Coming
This Week the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced. ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ leads the year’s Academy Awards, with 11 nominations. Other best picture nominees include Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water and The Banshees of Inisherin.
The best actor nominees include Cate Blanchett, Brendan Fraser, Britain’s Andrea Riseborough, and Bill Nighy.
The song ‘Naatu Naatu’ from the hit Telugu-language film RRR has won a best original song Oscar nomination. It’s the first Indian feature film to be nominated for anything other than best international film at the Academy Awards. The song has been a favourite at award ceremonies and has already won a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award. It will be up against heavyweights Lady Gaga and Rihanna, whose songs are nominated in the same Oscars category.
The last time an Indian won an Oscar for a film’s music was in 2009, when composer A R Rahman won best original song and best original score for the song ‘Jai Ho’ from the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, directed by Britain’s Danny Boyle.
This year’s Academy Awards ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on 12th March.
More catching stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay coiled with World Inthavaaram. And win Awards.