About-the world this week, 2 April to 8 April 2023. Dance moves of the world: Finland gets a new Prime Minister; NASA announces its team to the Moon; the dance of hush money; the rocket dance in Israel; and a classical dance in India’s Tamil Nadu.


The Dancing is Over: A New PM for Finland

The world’s youngest woman leader, Prime Minister (PM) of Finland, Sanna Marin, 37, lost her job in the just concluded Elections. She had bursted on to the political stage in 2019 heading a coalition of five parties, all led by women.

Finnish conservative ‘National Coalition Party’ Leader, Petteri Orpo won a nail-biting three-way election race, defeating Sanna Marin’s Centre-Left ‘Social Democratic Party’. Orpo secured 20.8% of the vote, ahead of the right-wing populist ‘Finns Party’s’ record of 20.1%, and Sanna Marin’s 19.9%. It was a bitter defeat for Marin, who however increased the count of her party’s seats.

Sanna Marin enjoyed high poll ratings and has been widely praised for steering Finland towards imminent entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and navigating her country through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite such successes, including a mature response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the election was largely fought on Finland’s economy and public debt, as all the mainstream parties backed the NATO membership.

Many Finns saw Marin as a polarising figure. She came under heavy scrutiny last year when a video emerged of her singing, dancing, and drinking at a party. Supporters said the controversy was steeped in sexism and women across Finland and the world shared videos of themselves dancing in solidarity.

Petteri Orpo, by contrast, has none of Sanna Marin’s ‘rock-star’ dancing qualities but hopes to make moves that get noticed in Finland… and the world.

Finland officially became NATO’s 31st member this Tuesday. And was warmly welcomed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg when Finland’s flag was raised alongside those of the 30 other nations in the alliance, during a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Finland’s has been the fastest accession process in the Treaty’s history.

Finland has historically maintained a position of neutrality in the face of its often complicated relations with Russia. NATO would now rise to Finland’s defence should it come under attack from Russia or any other Country.

The Moon Dance: NASA

The United States (US) space agency NASA has named the four astronauts who will take humans back to the Moon, after a gap of 50 years. This would be the Artemis-2 mission, which follows the successful ‘test Mission’ of Artemis-I. And, will in turn be followed by the Artemis-3 mission: the first landing of the new era, which is not expected to occur until at least 12 months after Artemis-2.

Christina Koch will become the first woman astronaut ever assigned to a lunar mission, while Victor Glover will be the first African-American astronaut. They will join Reid Wiseman and Jeremy Hansen to fly a capsule around the Moon late next year or in early 2025. The astronauts will not be landing on the Moon, but their mission will pave the way for a touchdown by a subsequent crew.

Reid Wiseman, 47, is a US Navy pilot who served for a time as the head of NASA’s astronaut office. He’s flown one previous space mission, to the International Space Station in 2015.

Victor Glover, 46, is a US Navy test pilot. He joined Nasa in 2013 and made his first spaceflight in 2020. He was the first African-American to stay on the Space Station for an extended period of six months.

Christina Koch, 44, is an electrical engineer. She holds the record for the longest continuous time in space by a woman-328 days. With NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, she participated in the first all-female spacewalk in October 2019.

Jeremy Hansen, 47, was a fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force before joining the Canadian Space Agency. He has yet to fly in space.

Wiseman will be the commander; Glover will be his pilot; Koch and Hansen will act as the supporting ‘mission specialists’.

The four of them are essentially repeating the 1968 Apollo-8 mission, which was the first human spaceflight to reach the Moon.

The last human spaceflight mission to the Moon was Apollo-17 in December 1972. The first Moon landing was Apollo-11, in 1969.

NASA has outsourced development of the system capable of taking astronauts down to the lunar surface to Elon Musk’s SpaceX company. Called Starship, the vehicle is due to start flight testing in the next few weeks.

The Moon never got closer!

Hush Money Dance: Arrest of an Ex-President

This week, former US President Donald Trump surrendered to authorities in Manhattan after a grand jury indicted him for his role in a USD 130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. He was indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

He arrived with his legal team and an 11-vehicle motorcade surrounded by Secret Service. Officials fingerprinted the former president, but did not handcuff him.

One poll found that nearly all Democrats approve of the indictment, whereas 79% of Republicans disapprove. But it also found that a majority of Americans believe the indictment was motivated by politics. That’s about the same everywhere?

On The Same Dance Stage: Israel

This week, Israeli Police raided the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem when several hundred Palestinians remained in the mosque after Ramadan prayers on Tuesday night. Israeli police tried to clear them peacefully, but a small group refused to leave. Police moved in after ‘several law-breaking youth and masked agitators’ brought fireworks, sticks, and stones and barricaded themselves inside the mosque. Many were injured and dozens arrested.

Following the raid, tensions flared-up in the highly sensitive and brittle region of the Middle East.

In the biggest attack since 2006 when Israel fought a war with the Hezbollah movement, rockets were launched from Southern Lebanon into Israel. Out of about 34 rockets, 25 were intercepted by Israeli Air defence systems. Israel was quick to pin responsibility on the terrorist organisation, Hamas, and responded in equal measure conducting air raids on Hamas positions in Lebanon and the Gaza. And the never-ending story continues to dance.

Indian Classical Dance: Kalakshetra

This week, and simmering over the past many weeks is sexual harassment allegations in India’s Kalakshetra Foundation – recognised and declared an ‘Institute of National Importance’, by the Government of India in 1994.

Kalakshetra Foundation, formerly ‘Kalakshetra’ is an arts and cultural academy dedicated to the preservation of traditional values in Indian art and crafts, especially in Bharatanatyam dance-the classical dance form of Tamil Nadu- and Gandharvaveda music.

Kalakshetra was founded in January 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale and her husband George Arundale in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It now operates out of a campus in Chennai’s Besant Nagar area, close to the sea shore.

The Institute aims to train and encourage young artists and to revive Bharatanatyam and other ancient arts and crafts. The Institutes under Kalakshetra are, the Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts, the Rukmini Devi Museum, Koothambalam (Kalakshetra theatre) and the Craft Education and Research Centre (including the weaving department, the Kalamkari natural dye printing and the painting unit).

The institution achieved national and international recognition for its unique style and perfectionism. Having studied the Pandanallur style for three years, in 1936 Rukmini Devi Arundale started working on developing her own, Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam, noted for its angular, straight, ballet-like kinesthetics. She introduced group performances and staged various Bharatanatyam-based ballets.

Rukimini Devi Arundale was a theosophist, dancer and choreographer of Bharatanatyam, besides being an animal welfare activist, in a side hustle.

Beginning in December 2022, allegations of sexual abuse on the campus began to surface after a former director wrote a social media post accusing a teacher of harassing and molesting students, but hadn’t specified names. In the following months, over a hundred students of Kalakshetra’s Rukmini Devi College of Fine Arts accused senior faculty members of sexual harassment. The accusations spanned a number of years.

The accused was exonerated following an internal investigation, and Kalakshetra issued a gag order preventing students and staff from discussing the allegations. Then the National Commission for Women began investigating, but closed the investigation shortly, after a victim denied any sexual harassment during an enquiry. In end March 2023 the students began protests against the inaction of the Kalakshetra authorities, by walking out of a routine morning prayer when one of the accused walked in. The Government of Tamil Nadu has stepped-in and an investigation is dancing the rounds, hoping to come up with solutions.

The culture of Classical Institutes of this kind makes it extremely difficult to find wrong-doers and punish them due to the ingrained ‘Guru-Shishya Parampara’ (Teacher-Disciple tradition) in Indian Classical Dances, Arts, and Craft.

The system of Guru-Shishya Parampara traces its roots back to 5000 BC and has been an inseparable part of the ancient Indian civilisation relating to the relationship between a teacher and his disciple. A key feature of this system was that the students were required to stay at the Gurukul (the teacher’s residence) until their shiksha (education) was completed. The Guru’s words and actions are unchallenged in a tacit understanding. This assumes that the Guru is honourable and lives up to high standards of his position and leads by example. Now, somewhere fault lines have appeared, and in the arts, life moves in circles resulting in Gurus and Shishyas bumping into one another all the time. Institutes ought to wake-up to providing a safe environment for students to learn and grow fearlessly.

This week, The Padma Awards one of the highest civilian honours of India- announced annually on the eve of Republic Day-was presented to the Awardees by the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, in a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. Over the past years the awards have become more inclusive bringing to the surface and recognising real heroes at the grassroots level. It has focussed on work done by people rather than on identities. And I’ll bring the inspiring stories.

More classic stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Dance with World Inthavaaram.



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Population Growth

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

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

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

Please Yourself

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

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

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

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

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


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, 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.