About-the world this week, 30 April to 6 May 2023 and 7 May 2023 to 13 May 2023 -Two weeks in one: Russia versus Ukraine; Gun Violence in Europe; India’s Manipur; a King’s Coronation; Pakistan in turmoil; The Kerala Story; Indian wrestling; the Pulitzers; Nude lipstick at the Met Gala 2023.


Last week, Russia came up with a ‘special accusation’, blaming Ukraine of engineering a plot to assassinate its President, Vladimir Putin. This, after Russian air defences shot down two drones attempting to strike Putin’s residence inside the Kremlin walls. Of course, Russia said ‘naughty’ Ukraine carried out the drone strikes on the Kremlin.

Ukraine, on its part, denied any involvement and accused Russia of cleverly using the incident as a pretext for stepping-up attacks on the country.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is busy defending itself from the rapacious attack of Russia and pushing back Russian troops from its soil. There is fierce fighting-the longest and the bloodiest of this war so far- in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut and Ukraine is clinging to the last streets. Russia has been unable to take control of the city due to the unbelievable fight-back by Ukraine.

When you think of Gun Violence, the United States (US) automatically shoots up in the mind. Maybe they have a close competitor – Serbia. This week, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Belgrade and other cities to protest gun violence after two mass shootings shook Serbia. Last week, a 13 years old boy opened fire in his school in Belgrade, killing nine people and injuring seven others. A day later, a 20 years old man, with an assault rifle, shot and killed eight people in several villages. Serbia has the highest rate of gun ownership in Europe.

In response to the shootings, the Government launched a month-long effort to get people to surrender their illegal weapons with no questions asked. So far, more than 1,500 guns have been surrendered. Now, Serbians are demanding a boost in security, a reduction of violent media content, and the resignation of top government officials for failing to ‘holster the situation’.

Britain’s King Charles III was officially crowned on the Saturday of last week, in a magnificent and deeply religious ceremony combined with pageantry at London’s Westminster Abbey. It was Britain’s first coronation in 70 years and was a symbolic coming together of the Monarchy, the Church, and the State. King Charles is the 40th reigning monarch to be crowned since the year 1066.

After the two-hour ceremony, King Charles and his wife, Queen Camilla-who was also crowned-travelled to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach, which has been used in every Coronation since 1831. They later made the mandatory appearance on the palace balcony alongside other members of the royal family.

Estranged Prince Harry watched the proceedings alone from the sidelines – without a sparkle: wife Meghan Markle and the kids were in far-away US.

This week, Pakistan saw deadly protests in the wake of the arrest of former Prime Minister, Imran Khan. Tensions remained high with paramilitary troops and police on the streets in major cities. Mobile services were suspended – that’s becoming a habit all over the world – and schools and offices were closed in two of Pakistan’s four provinces.

Imran Khan was arrested on two corruption charges of more than 100 cases registered against him since his ouster in April 2022, in a parliamentary no-confidence vote. If convicted, he may be unable to contest elections. And his party, Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is most likely to emerge victorious if free and fair elections are held later this year. With Pakistan’s Army infamously poking its nose fully into governance of the Country we can expect lots of gunfire and twists and turns in the coming weeks and months.

In some relief for Imran Khan, late in the week, the Supreme Court declared his arrest by the Army as illegal. However, he will be held in a Police Guest House until the smoke clears!

India’s North Eastern State of Manipur has been thrown into ethnic turmoil with violence, arson, and mayhem unfolding in its various districts. Shoot-at-sight orders was issued to quell the violence.

The immediate provocation for the unrest appears to be the demand of the Meitei community, which accounts for 53% of Manipur’s population and primarily inhabits the Manipur Valley, to be included in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list – for reservation benefits. The Manipur High Court also issued an order asking the Government of Manipur State to send a recommendation to the Centre to include the Meitei community in the ST List.

Going deeper, there is also an underlying anger, simmering for a long time, on the Government’s clampdown on reserved and protected forests in the State’s hill areas. And also a feeling among Manipur’s Kuki community of being persecuted. Several Chin, people of the same ethnic group from across the border in Myanmar, have entered India, fleeing violence and persecution, and the Government’s tough stance against these illegal immigrants has angered the Kukis. There, you have a pot-boiler situation.

It all began on 3 May, after the All Tribal Students Union Manipur (ATSUM) held a solidarity march in all districts opposing the Manipur High Court order.

On 4th May, as the violence escalated, the Centre invoked emergency provisions under the Constitution. And in the last few days, convoys of Army trucks, the Assam Rifles, the Rapid Action Force, and local police personnel have moved into the State and entered affected areas.

Over a dozen people have been killed, hundreds have been wounded, and over 9,000 people belonging to the Kuki and Meitei communities, besides others, have been displaced so far. Buildings, homes, and other property, including vehicles, have been destroyed. The situation is tense, and the Government is struggling to bring back peace in the region.

The Indian movie The Kerala Story, which puts the spotlight on forced conversion and radicalisation of women in the State of Kerala, has sparked a terrific row. Amid protests, petitions challenging the film’s release reached the Supreme Court, which has refused to intervene in the matter.

The controversy around started after film-makers dropped the trailer, which claimed that 32,000 girls from Kerala had gone missing and joined the terrorist organisation, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The Kerala High Court refused to halt the release of the multi-lingual film after concluding that the trailer did not contain anything that could be considered offensive to any particular community as a whole.

The Kerala Story is a compilation of the true stories of three young girls from different parts of Kerala, who converted to Islam and joined ISIS. Shalini Unnikrishnan, a woman who converted to Islam, shares her harrowing journey of aspiring to become a nurse, only to be abducted from her home and coerced by extremist groups. She was eventually manipulated into joining ISIS and ended up imprisoned in Afghanistan.

Directed by Sudipto Sen and produced by Vipul Amrutlal Shah, The Kerala Story stars Adah Sharma (as Shalini Unnikrishnan), Yogita Bihani, Sonia Balani, and Siddhi Idnani. It released on 5th May and is having an incredible run at the box-office.

The film has courted controversy for claiming thousands of innocent women have been systematically converted to Islam, radicalized & their lives destroyed.

The events portrayed in the film were inspired by the accounts of four women from Kerala who converted to Islam and traveled with their husbands to Afghanistan to join ISIS between 2016 and 2018. And who were interviewed by a news website in 2019. They were part of a 21 member group from Kerala to join ISIS in 2016, who remain incarcerated in Afghanistan since surrendering in 2019. The makers of the film have claimed that the film is the true story of an instance of ‘Love Jihad’ — a Hindutva conspiracy theory about non-Muslim women romanced and lured into marriage to convert them to Islam.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is wrestling with a scandal involving its President Brij Bhushan Singh Sharan, 66, President of the WFI since 2011. He was elected for a third consecutive term in February 2019, and is a politician, currently with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and also a Member of Parliament.

The allegations are that the President had sexually exploited and harassed women wrestlers over a period of several years. Top Indian wrestlers have been protesting on the streets of New Delhi for the last week over the lack of action against the WFI President. The protesting athletes have demanded an immediate arrest and sought the intervention of the Supreme Court, which directed the police to register a case against Brij Bhushan Singh.

The WFI President as denied the allegations, saying it’s arm-twisting by the Opposition…and the sparring continues.

While on protest, India’s top wrestlers have alleged that they were abused and assaulted by the police in Delhi while trying to bring beds to the protest site where they have been protesting since 23rd April.

For more than 100 years, the Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded by Columbia University to honour American achievements in journalism, letters and drama, and music. Pulitzers are widely recognised as the most prestigious awards in their field within the United States.

The 107th Pulitzer prizes celebrated journalists across the country. The Associated Press won two awards for its coverage of the war in Ukraine, including the most prestigious of all Pulitzers, the Public Service award.

The Washington Post won two Pulitzers- National Reporting and Feature Writing- as did the Los Angeles Times-Breaking News Reporting and Feature Photography. So did, Birmingham. Its columnist Kyle Whitmire won the Commentary award for his work analyzing Alabama’s confederate heritage. The publication also took home a Local Reporting Pulitzer for its series exposing malfeasance on the part of the local police force. Two awards were given in that category. The other Local Reporting Pulitzer went to Mississippi Today, in Ridgeland, Miss.

The New York Times won two Pulitzers as well, for International Reporting and for Illustrated Reporting and Commentary. The Pulitzer for Music went to Omar, by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels an innovative and compelling opera about enslaved people brought to North America from Muslim countries, a musical work that respectfully represents African as well as African American traditions, expanding the language of the operatic form while conveying the humanity of those condemned to bondage.

In some glad news, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that Monkeypox is no longer a global public health emergency. WHO added that the virus is still sneaking around and further waves and outbreaks could continue, but the highest level of alert is over. This comes almost a week after WHO also declaring that the COVID-19 Emergency is over. Two good goodbyes?

Please Yourself

This year’s annual fashion event, the Met Gala 2023, graced by iconic persons had most of them sporting sexy, sublime nude lips. From red carpets to catching up with friends or date nights, nude lips are as versatile and easy to wear as they come. Taking into consideration the right makeup look for any ensemble or event has never been easier as one can seldom go awry with a nude lip.

The Met Gala 2023 saw the model industry’s sweetheart Gigi Hadid looking stunning in a sheer black Givenchy Gown. To pull the whole look together, she wore natural base makeup, shimmery eye shadow and razor-sharp cat eyeliner that brought out the captivating beauty of her eyes with ease. Most notably, Gigi wore a comfortable caramel nude lip colour that complemented her peaches and cream skin perfectly.

India’s Bollywood Actress Alia Bhatt’s debut at the Met Gala 2023 was no short of a fantastic feat in her career. ‘Dressed to the nines’ in custom Prabal Gurung couture, Alia shone under the lights looking like a million dollars. Her signature dewy make-up and soft glam brown smokey eyes were brilliantly paired with a cool nude lipstick that pulled her ensemble to perfection.

Thus the nude lipstick became the signature tune of this year’s Met Gala.

More beautiful stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay clothed with World Inthavaaram.



About: the world this week, 27 March to 2 April 2022, the Butcher, an Economy in the doldrums, reverse swing in politics, and the power of the slap.


The Butcher

Russian President Vladimir Putin is accumulating various degrees of notorious names for his mad ‘loose gun’ adventure war in Ukraine, and over the week he came to be called ‘Butcher’. What next, ‘Terminator’, or perhaps ‘Loser’ in the end?

Reports of another Russian General-in quite a forceful list-being killed in Ukraine came in late last week, making me wonder whether Russia has only Generals in its Army?

Meanwhile, the President of the United States (US), Joe Biden, wrapped up his visit to Europe and meetings with fellow NATO Heads, deciding that it’s time for Vladimir Putin to go: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power”, he thundered. This was in Poland’s capital, in front of Warsaw’s Royal Castle where he opened with words from the Polish Pope John Paul II, “Be not afraid”.

Biden also met Ukrainian refugees in Poland and lifted a few kids into the air-to feel the weight of their suffering.

Soon after the Regime Change comment, the equivocating battle began with the White House clarifying, “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change”. Wow, we learn something new each day! Twist, bend, cut and paste words and lines-until it doesn’t make any sense?

Ukraine is fighting on, defending their land against the Russian invasion, and there seems to be no let-up in the proceedings or progress in the ongoing peace talks. Russia is definitely faltering in its battle plans and its fighting machine appears to have messed up big time in underestimating the resolve of the people of Ukraine.

Could Ukraine win the war? They better!

Sri Lanka: It’s the Economy, Stupid.

Once upon a time, India was flooded by refugees fleeing the deadly Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) generated internecine war in Sri Lanka. Now, long after that menace was killed and buried in unmarked graves, a new kind of refugee influx into India is happening. Sri Lankans are fleeing a burgeoning economic crisis in their country.

Typically, in the capital Colombo, for a middle-class family, there is no cooking gas; there is a 10 hour power outage every day; people mainly eat frozen bread, using the hot plate occasionally whenever the ‘power visits’; the fuel supply to the Fuel Stations has come down to a trickle, resulting in long queues and even fist-fighting, with the Army having to be called-in to keep the ‘people-fire’ down in ‘Fuel Less Stations’.

How did all this come to be in the island country?

To serve it in one line, Sri Lanka has, no great manufacturing, no high-end services, is heavily dependent on a tourism-led economy-which was killed and masked by the pandemic, imports even essential food items, and has a huge debt with remittance dependency.

Tourism contributes 10% of the country’s GDP and Sri Lanka is highly dependent on imports for essential items.

Digging deeper: The present Government had announced huge tax breaks, a number of tax cuts such as, no capital gains, VAT cut from 15% to 8%, half tax for construction companies etc. This ensured that hardly any cash flowed in to the Government coffers. Even before the pandemic, spending by the government was on the rise. As a percentage of GDP, government spending, which was 18.8% rose to 21.9%. Due to lack of tourism, which is one of the largest forex generators for the country, forex reserves nose-dived. There was just USD 1.6 billion dollars in November. Sri Lanka has to repay over USD 7 billion in the next 12 months in loans alone.

Sri Lanka is deep in Debt – owes over USD 80 billion to various lenders. It owes USD 5 billion dollars to China alone and took an additional loan of 1 billion last year from China to help with the financial crisis. And is struggling to repay these debts.

Due to money printing, Inflation has risen to above 14%. People are finding it difficult to afford even the basic necessities, food, water, rent, electricity, etc. And is using credit lines to buy these and medicines, and fuel from neighbouring countries. There is also a growing Agricultural Crisis. Due to the low forex reserves, the government banned the import of chemicals and fertilisers and announced that it would make agriculture 100% organic, which decision had a negative impact on the economy. Farmers who were reliant on these fertilisers found it difficult to produce healthy crops. Many didn’t plant at all, fearing a bad produce.

Late this week protests heated up after hundreds of protestors tried to storm the home of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa demanding his resignation over handling of country’s worst economic crisis, since independence.

India is out on the Island lending a helping hand, extending an USD 1 billion line of credit and is actively finding ways and means of helping its now ‘poor’ neighbour.

Pakistan: Reverse Swing and The Islamabad Drift

Pakistan’s Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan once led Pakistan to a fabulous first Cricket World Cup victory in 1992. He pioneered the reverse swing bowling technique in cricket fast bowling, and developed all-round skills to emerge as one of the best cricketeers Pakistan has produced. Now in his new innings as PM, since 2018-far away from the world of cricket-he will have to counter every kind of treacherous swing to continue batting as PM. And Pakistan’s infamous Army does the umpiring (and maybe someone remote doing the third umpiring?)

A quick flash back: Imran Khan is the son of a civil engineer in Pakistan. He and his four sisters had a privileged upbringing in Lahore where he was schooled, before studying at London’s Oxford University and finding place and pace in cricket. He went on to join the Pakistan Cricket team and later become its Captain. He had ‘killer’ debonair looks and is said to have a way with women. And it’s a long list of broken hearts! Recall the famous yesteryears ‘Thumbs Up’ advertisement with India’s Sunil Gavaskar: nobody saw Gavaskar or the Thumbs Up cola drink-they only saw Imran Khan.

Imran Khan retired from cricket after the World Cup win and went on to raise millions of dollars to fund a cancer hospital in his mother’s memory. In 1995, at 43, he married British heiress, Jemima Goldsmith, 21-the daughter of one of the world’s richest man at the time, Sir James Goldsmith. The marriage delivered two boys but the match ran-out in 2004. The pitch changed.

About this time, Imran Khan’s foray into philanthropy spawned a career in politics and in April 1996 he founded a Political Party called, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) (Pakistan movement for Justice).

A second marriage in 2015, to journalist Reham Khan, lasted less than a year. The former BBC Weather News Presenter found the climate in the marriage unfavourable -it rained almost every day-and stormed out.

Imran Khan married again, in a low-profile ceremony in 2018. His third wife Bushra Bibi, a mother of five, was and is his spiritual adviser, and the match played well with the public to show his devotion to Islam – a political reverse swing. And the weather always looked good for bowling (and batting). Never mind the pitch.

In July 2018, in the Pakistan General Elections that year, Imran Khan became the first person in the history of Pakistan general elections to win in all five constituencies that he contested. This surpassed former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s record -he contested in four and won in three constituencies in 1970.

In the 2018 General Elections the PTI won 116 seats of the 270 it contested and won a plurality in the National Assembly. Later with a coalition of parties coming together Imran Khan became the choice of PM of Pakistan. Khan secured 176 votes and became 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan taking oath of office on 18 August 2018 promising to take Pakistan to victory over corruption and make it a humanitarian state based on principles of the first Islamic state of Medina. He has been slogging on in power for over four years now – running between the wickets, but not scoring too well.

During March 2022 a key ally and the main coalition partner Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM), bowled a googly, struck a deal with the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the ball slipped out of Imran’s Khan’s hands – not that he is a bad fielder!

With the PTI government losing majority a no-confidence motion was called and is being put to vote. The math is against Imran Khan, but will be able to swing it in his favour and continue as PM? He refuses to step down. And I have a story to finish!

The Oscars: The Power Of The Slap

This year the best Actor Winner stole the show in the The Annual Academy Awards with some real action and not the slightest hint of acting. Award presenter Chris Rock was on stage and made fun of Best Actor nominee Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, over her shaven head (with hair lost due to a rare hair-loss disease called alopecia areata). Rock compared Pinkett’s shaved head to Demi Moore’s look in ‘GI Jane’, saying he couldn’t wait to see her in ‘GI Jane 2’.

This caused Will Smith to suddenly walk on to the stage, slap Chris Rock on the cheek and walk back to sit beside his wife (I did it for you, honey) in an apparent case of ‘losing one’s marbles’. Once firmly settled in his chair he shouted out, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f- – – – – g mouth”.

Meanwhile, Chris Rock lived up to the Rock in his name and stood unfazed, brushing it off. On his part, after the incident, when Will Smith was asked by the Academy to leave the Oscars Ceremony, he refused.

I’m awfully disappointed and stunned with Will Smith’s behaviour. After all these years in Hollywood he is unable to shake-off a joke and maybe return it with interest? He has been such a motivational example, but this one incident had brought him down to the depths of rowdiness. Has some pent-up anger found a seam to discharge? Is it the tightness of the pandemic, or the absurdity of the Russia-Ukraine war? We are living in slapping times!

The moment took away the glory of the movies, the actors, the technicians… levelling it down to a slap in the face of the Oscars!

Moving over to the Winners of this year’s Oscars:

The movie, CODA won the best picture award; Will Smith won Best Actor for King Richard; Jessica Chastain – Best Actress for The Eyes of Tammy Faye; Troy Kotsur – Best Supporting Actor for CODA; Ariana DeBose-Best Supporting Actress for Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story; Jane Campion-Best Director for The Power of the Dog. Bille Eilish and Finneas – best original song for James Bond’s, No Time to Die; Greig Fraser – Best Cinematography for the film Dune.

‘Drive My Car’ drove well to be declared best international feature film; ‘Summer of the Soul’ had real soul to win the Best Documentary Feature; Belfast won Best Original Screenplay; CODA won Best Adapted Screen Play.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling went to The Eyes of Tammy Faye; Best Visual effects, and Best Original Score went to Dune. Best Costume Design dressed-up Cruella.

CODA became the first movie from a streaming service-Apple TV-to win film industry’s biggest price. It’s a heartwarming film that tells the story of an aspiring singer who is the only hearing member for a deaf family. CODA is also an acronym of Child Of Deaf Adults.

This year’s Awards -The 94th Annual Academy Awards- was held in the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States, and was hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes. It is marked forever by the Power of the Slap.

More hearing stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Play and swing with World Inthavaaram. And mind the slap.