About-the world this week, 19 March to 25 March 2023: Sikhism and Khalistan, an Indian Member of Parliament is disqualified, and it’s not all right to be Gay in Uganda.


India: Sikhism and Khalistan

Sikhism is a religion, which developed from the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak who lived between the years 1469 and 1539. He is the founder, the faith’s first Guru, and was followed by nine Sikh Gurus. Guru means a spiritual and intellectual Teacher. The Tenth Guru, Gobind Singh who steered Sikhism between the years 1666 and 1708 named the Sikh Scripture called the ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ as his successor. This brought to an end the line of human gurus and established the Scripture as the Eleventh and the last eternally living Guru-a religious, life-guide for Sikhs.

Guru Nanak preached a new concept of God as, supreme, all powerful, truthful, formless, fearless, without hate, the sole, the self-existent, the incomprehensible and everlasting creator of all things. He taught people that the ‘One God’ dwells in every one of his creations, and that all human beings can have direct access to God without the need of any rituals or priests. Setting up a unique spiritual, social and political platform based on equality and fraternal love. He rejected the path of renunciation, laying emphasis on family life.

The Guru Granth Sahib opens with the ‘Mul Mantar’, a fundamental prayer about one God. The core beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the Scriptures, include faith and meditation in the name of the one creator; divine unity and equality of all humankind; engaging in selfless service; striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all; and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder’s (family) life. Sikhism rejects claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on absolute truth. Sikhism also emphasises the remembrance of the teachings of the Gurus, which can be expressed musically through ‘kirtan’, or internally through ‘naam japna’ -meditation on God’s name- as a means to feel God’s presence. It teaches followers to transform the ‘five thieves’, lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego to achieve ‘wealth’ in life.

The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, initiated the ‘Khalsa’ (pure) tradition, which refers to the community that considers Sikhism as its faith, as well as a special group of initiated Sikhs. Upon initiation, a Khalsa Sikh is given the titles of Singh (male), meaning lion, and Kaur (female), meaning princess, and is sworn to a behavioural code of conduct of the Sikh faith.

Guru Gobind also introduced the ‘Five Ks’ in Sikhism, which he commanded Khalsa Sikhs to wear at all times. They are: Kesh – unshorn hair and beard as a respect for the perfection of God’s creation; Kangha – a comb for the Kesh, usually wooden, to comb the Kesh twice a day; Kara – a bracelet, usually made of iron or steel as a constant reminder that whatever a person does with their hands has to be in keeping with the advice of the Gurus and to symbolise God as never-ending; Kachera -an undergarment, short breeches, with a tie-knot, to be quickly ready for defence or battle; and Kirpan- a small curved sword of any size, shape or metal, used to defend others. The Kesh was to be contained in a Turban, to clearly and quickly identify Sikhs, among other symbols.

The City of Amritsar in Punjab occupies a significant position in Sikhism, with it being, not only home to hundreds of thousands of Sikhs but also the chief pilgrimage destination for Sikhs living elsewhere in India and abroad. The principal focus for pilgrims is the Golden Temple and its complex of several adjacent buildings located around a central tank. Situated on the west side, facing the causeway to the temple, is the Akal Takht, the chief centre of authority of Sikhism and the headquarters of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Supreme Akali Party), the main political party of the Sikhs in Punjab.

Sikhs have been living predominantly in the Punjab region of India. Before its conquest by the British, the region around Punjab had been ruled by a confederacy of Sikh Misls – Cavalry based armies – founded by Banda Bahadur. The Misls ruled over the entire Punjab from 1767 to 1799, until their confederacy was unified into the Sikh Empire by Maharajah Ranjit Singh from 1799 to 1849.

At the end of the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849, the Sikh Empire dissolved into separate princely states and the British province of Punjab. ‘Religion-nationalist’ movements emerged in response to British ‘divide and rule’ administrative policies to counter religious conversions and a general belief that the solution to the downfall among India’s religious communities was a grassroots religious revival.

The Akali movement was started in 1920 by the Central Sikh League’s political wing, the Akali Dal, which was founded in Amritsar in December 1920. The term Akali derives from the word Akal (timeless or immortal) used in the Sikh scriptures. The movement was named after the Akalis, a Khalsa militant order from the time of Guru Gobind Singh which had risen to prominence under Akali Phula Singh, one of the commanders of the Sikh Empire.

The Akali movement, also called the Gurdwara Reform Movement, was a campaign to bring reform in the Gurdwaras (the Sikh places of worship) in India during the early 1920s. It led to the introduction of the Sikh Gurdwara Bill in 1925, which placed all the historical Sikh shrines in India under the control of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). The Akali Dal assists the SGPC.

As the British Empire began to weaken in the 1930s, Sikhs made their first call for a Sikh homeland, called Khalistan (land of the pure). The Khalistan movement was started as a separatist movement seeking to establish a sovereign state of Khalistan in the Punjab region. The proposed state would consist of the territory which currently encompasses Punjab in India, and Punjab in Pakistan, with Lahore as its capital.

Meanwhile India was set to be partitioned on religious lines as Hindu and Muslim States.

During the pre-partition talks in the Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League one of the demands was that Punjab be made into a Muslim state, which the Akalis viewed as an attempt to usurp a historically Sikh territory. In response, the Sikh party Shiromani Akali Dal argued for a community that was separate from Hindus and Muslims. The Akali Dal imagined Khalistan as a theocratic state led by the Maharaja of Patiala with the aid of a cabinet consisting of the representatives of other units.

Following the independence of India from British Rule in 1947, the Punjabi Suba movement, led by the Akali Dal, sought the creation of a province (Suba) for Punjabi people. The Akali Dal’s maximal position of demands was a sovereign state-Khalistan-while its minimal position was to have an autonomous state within India.

As the religion-based partition of India led to much bloodshed, the Indian government initially rejected the demand, concerned that creating a Punjabi-majority state would effectively mean yet again creating a state based on religious grounds. However, later India was divided into States, for administrative purposes, mostly on a linguistic basis. And Punjab (as partitioned between India and Pakistan) became a State in India.

Ever since the movement gathered force in the 1980s, the territorial ambitions of Khalistan have at times included Chandigarh; sections of North India, including the whole of Indian Punjab; and some parts of the western states of India.

In 1940, the first explicit call for Khalistan was made in a pamphlet titled ‘Khalistan’. With financial and political support of the Sikh diaspora, the movement flourished in the India’s Punjab, continuing through the 1970s and 1980s, and reaching its zenith in the late 1980s. This period also saw the rise of militant-minded Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as a leading figure of the Khalistan movement.

With the Shiromani Akali Dal failing to win respectable seats in Elections to the State and Central Legislatures it came up with a list of demands called, ‘The Anandpur Sahib Resolution’ in 1973 to improve its prospects and galvanise the Sikhs. The resolution declared its goal was to establish a State for Sikhs with quasi-independent status, leaving only the powers of Foreign Relations, Defense, Currency and General Communications subject to the jurisdiction of the Central Government. The then Prime Minister (PM) of India, Indira Gandhi, viewed the Anandpur Sahib Resolution as a secessionist document and refused to accept it.

The Anandpur Sahib Resolution reached prominence in the 1980s when the Akali Dal and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale joined hands to launch the Dharam Yudh Morcha in 1982 in order to implement the Resolution. Thousands of people joined the movement, feeling that it represented a real solution to demands. This included a larger share of water for irrigation, the return of Chandigarh to Punjab, which was shared with Haryana State, and of course, the idea of a Sikh Homeland. The movement turned militant and Punjab went into turmoil with terrorism becoming the order of the day.

In 1982, Bhindranwale and his militant cadres occupied the Golden Temple complex and made it his headquarters and later fortified the Akal Takht. During this time Bhindranwale ruthlessly killed many of this opponents including a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Pratap Singh. The killings were brutal to inspire terror such as chopping off the breasts of a female opponent named Baljit Kaur. Bhindranwale went on to establish what amounted to a ‘parallel government’ in Punjab settling cases and resolving disputes, while conducting his campaign for Khalistan.

With Bhindranwale growing to become a menace, in June 1984, PM Indira Gandhi ordered Operation Blue Star, which was carried out by the Indian Army to flush out Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the Golden Temple Complex. This resulted in hundreds to thousands of deaths including that of Bhindranwale. And the crackdown on militancy in Punjab brought back a semblance of peace in the State.

Then in 1984 PM Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh Bodyguards in a revenge action, which led to riots targeting Sikhs in northern India for being responsible for the killing.

In the 1990s, the insurgency petered out, and the movement failed to reach its objective for multiple reasons including a heavy police crackdown on separatists, factional infighting, and disillusionment from the Sikh population.

Now enter the year 2022 and 2023.

Amritpal Singh, 30 a self-styled Sikh preacher and separatist began reviving the idea of Khalistan in Punjab state, which has stoked fears of violence and brought back painful memories of a bloody insurgency that killed thousands. He was relatively unknown until the death of actor and activist Deep Sidhu in 2022.

Sidhu backed the country’s year-long farmer’s movement and founded Waris Punjab De-a group established to protect Sikh rights.

Waris Punjab De mobilised farmers and activists – many of whom were Sikh – against the Government of India’s attempt to modernize the country’s agricultural sector with the introduction of new Farm Laws, Farmers feared the changes would push prices lower. In a rare retreat, the laws were repealed in November 2021. But the Waris Punjab De continued its campaign to protect the Sikh religion and Punjab’s culture.

Sidhu was killed in a car crash in February 2022 and Amritpal Singh took over the reins, leading marches and giving impassioned – often provocative – speeches, building a large following and gaining popularity.

The popularity proabably went to his head and about a month ago he stormed a police station in Punjab along with his gun and sword-wielding gang of supporters to release an imprisoned fellow follower. They shouted pro-Khalistan separitist slogans and Amritpal Singh said he does not accept India as a nation. He likened himself to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The police quietly watched him whisk away his devotee.

Then the Police ‘found their guns’ and piled up charges on him for attempted murder, obstruction of law enforcement and creating disharmony in society.

Early this week, Punjab Police and central agencies launched a massive crackdown on Amritpal Singh and over 110 of his associates were arrested. However, he is still on the run. Internet was suspended in Punjab for a few days. Police say that Singh was in contact with the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI) and received funds from Pakistan. Furthermore, Singh was creating a private army in the guise of an anti-drug drive and de-addiction centre.

Following the crackdown, official Indian Government establishments in London and San Francisco were attacked. Singh’s supporters vandalised the Embassies, tearing down the Indian flag and replacing it with the Khalistan Flag.

The Khalistan movement is outlawed in India and considered a grave national security threat by the government – a number of groups associated with the movement are listed as ‘terrorist organizations’ under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. But it continues to evoke a level of sympathy from some Sikhs, particularly in Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, which is home to sizeable Sikh communities, many of whom fled Punjab following independence in search of better economic opportunities. A small but influential number of those Sikhs support the idea of Khalistan, with referendums periodically held to reach a consensus to establish a separate homeland within India.

Rahul Gandhi

Late this week a Court in India’s Gujarat State, convicted Rahul Gandhi, a Member of Parliament representing Wayanad in the state of Kerala, and a leader of India’s grand old party – The Congress- for his comments in an Election Rally about PM Narendra Modi’s surname. He was found guilty of criminal defamation and handed down a two-year jail sentence. However, the same Court allowed him a 30-days bail, suspending ‘only the jail sentence’, to allow him to make an appeal. Rahul was present in Court to ‘receive the award’!

In the year 2019, during an Election rally in Karnataka State’s Kolar, Rahul Gandhi said, “Why do all thieves have Modi as their surname?” In his speech, he went on to name fugitive Indian diamond tycoon Nirav Modi, banned Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi, and PM Narendra Modi.

The case against Rahul Gandhi was brought by Purnesh Modi a former Bharatiya Janata Party Minister in Gujarat State, on the premise that ‘Modi’ being an Other Backward Class (OBC) Community, Rahul has insulted and defamed the entire community by comparing them with thieves. Modi is a common last name for many in Gujarat.

Following the conviction Rahul Gandhi was (automatically) disqualified from his Lok Sabha membership. This was based on a 2013 Supreme Court order, which decreed that a lawmaker convicted in a crime and sentenced to two or more years in jail stands disqualified from the Parliament with immediate effect.

This is a fabulous case of democracy working in India and the Law of the Land taking its course.


People who identify as gay in Uganda risk life in prison after parliament passed a new bill to crack down on homosexual activities. It also includes the death penalty in certain cases.

The debate around the bill had led to fear of more attacks on gay people and blackmail. People were receiving calls on the lines of, “if you don’t give me money, I will report that you are gay”.

The bill is one of the toughest pieces of anti-gay legislation in Africa. Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda but this bill introduces many new criminal offences.

Amnesty International has called the bill, which criminalises same-sex between consenting adults, appalling, ambiguous, and vaguely worded. It has also been condemned by both United States and the United Kingdom.

The bill will now go to President Yoweri Museveni who can choose to use his veto to overturn the bill or sign it into law. He has himself made several anti-gay comments, in recent weeks, and also criticised Western countries for putting pressure on Uganda over the issue.

Same-sex relations are banned in about 30 African countries, where many people uphold conservative religious and social values.

More homeland stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay with World Inthavaaram. Fight another day.



About-the world this week, 19 February to 25 February 2023: The US in Ukraine; a melting Thwaite Glacier; a canal dry Venice; Israel’s Supreme Court; Trains and Tunnels; Canada’s Super Pigs; Two leaves, and a Bow & Arrow; and Japan’s roll with an iron Ball.


This week United States (US) President Joe Biden made a surprise dash to Ukraine to walk with President Zelensky on the streets of Kyiv, hear the air-raid alarms, deliver bear-hugs, show solidarity, and announce additional support and aid. That should be morale boosting for Ukraine. This is Biden’s first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago and it comes almost on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of 24th February. Biden said the US would stand with Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’ and praised the heroic fight-back. He then went on for a three-day visit to neighbouring Poland, where he declared that Russia will never be able to capture Ukraine.

Meanwhile, European Union (EU) foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss how to make sure Ukrainian forces are supplied with enough ammunition to keep the war going.

And in Russia, President Vladimir Putin made his state of the union address, where he recycled the same lines about his rationale for invading Ukraine; and he outlined no vision of how the so-called ‘special military operation’ he launched might end. But Putin did offer at least one headline, announcing that Russia is suspending its participation in the ‘New START’ (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), the US-Russia bilateral agreement on nuclear arms reduction. Putin repeated the same baseless claim that Russia had no choice but to use force against Ukraine. And he doubled down on blaming the West for the conflict. “I want to repeat: it was they who unleashed the war,” Putin said. “And we used and continue to use force to stop it.” Wow, what an inventive, foggy reason!

Doomsday could arrive sometime in the future and Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, also nicknamed the ‘Doomsday Glacier’, may drown many parts of the World on a probably irreversible path. Over the years, this unusually broad and vast Glacier, about the size of Great Britain, alone has contributed to 4% rise in global sea levels. Thwaites is melting rapidly and all the Oceans being connected, a full melt-down could result in a 1 to 3 metre rise in sea levels all across the World.

Presently a floating ice-shelf called the Thwaites Ice-Shelf braces and restrains the eastern portion of the Thwaites Glacier. In recent years, this ice sheet has been steadily disintegrating and Scientists predicated that it is likely to collapse within a decade from 2021. The Thwaites Glacier itself acts a natural dam for enormous ice lakes sitting behind it. They will slide down the mild slopes of continental Antarctica and into the sea once Thwaites collapses.

The Glacier is named after Fredrik T Thwaites, a glacial geologist and Professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

What would be the effects? Think, major cities such as New York, Miami, Mumbai, Shanghai, and Tokyo would be inundated. And low-lying Island nations such as Maldives (Indian Ocean), Kiribati (Central Pacific Ocean) and Tuvalu (South Pacific) may be swallowed up.What can we do? Some have suggested building of underwater walls with robots, and others have suggested enormous cooling tunnels under the ice to cool the slightly warmer water beneath the Glacier, which chips away at the ice.

Whatever, the impacts of melting glaciers can always be mitigated depending on how we humans respond in the coming decades. And there is no reason to panic. Maybe we should never use the word ‘Doomsday Glacier’ as it gives the inaccurate impression of something inevitable?

Meanwhile, in yonder Italy, the City of Venice would certainly do with lots of water. Its iconic canals are running dry, making it impossible for the city’s famous gondolas and water taxis to navigate the waterways.

This follows weeks of dry winter weather with the Alps having received less than normal snowfall. A combination of factors are to blame, including lack of rain and unusual low sea tides.

Imagine, Venice built on over 100 islands and crisscrossed by 177 canals, which was once at the risk of drowning, is now starving for water!

Israel has a problem. It’s about judicial reforms which aim to overhaul the country’s legal system. Its Supreme Court (SC) has remained supreme, may be too supreme and the Government brought in reforms to curb a ‘dictatorial streak’. The changes would limit the SC’s power to rule against the legislature and the executive, giving the Israeli Parliament – Knesset- the power to override the SC decisions with a simple majority of 61 votes out of the 120 seat Knesset. Another change proposes to do away with the SC’s authority to review the legality of Israel’s Basic Laws, which function as the country’s constitution.

Supporters agree with the changes. Opponents think it would threaten’s Israel’s democratic nature and may lead to majoritarian rule. People are out on the streets to protest the changes. Others say there is more than meets the eye, and the conflict is not about the role of judges; rather it is over different visions of Israel. May the best vision win?

We have often heard of stories of tunnels being made and to speed up the process -the digging erroneously begins are the two ends. And how they fail to connect due to a wrong alignment – and you either find a way to connect them, abandon them, or get two tunnels.

Now leaving the tunnel alone, there is a story in Spain of how new commuter trains were ordered that could not fit the non-standard tunnels in the northern regions of Spain’s Asturias and Cantabria. However, the mistake was spotted before the trains could be actually pushed into production.

Spain’s Rail Operator Renfe ordered the trains in 2020, but the following year the Manufacturer realised that the dimensions it had been given for the trains were inaccurate and ‘on a hunch’, stopped work.

The rail network in northern Spain was built in the 19th Century and has tunnels under the mountainous landscape that do not match standard modern tunnel dimensions.

The Government launched a joint investigation to find out how the error could have happened and fired a Renfe manager, and the head of track technology, over the blunder. The botched order cost nearly USD 275 million.

Looks like it’s the season of ambitious wide-bodied thinking failing to fit into our straight-jacket world.

Farmers in Canada wanted to breed large-bodied pigs that are far more resistant to cold so that they are able to survive and reproduce at temperatures that would have killed off other types of livestock. Hence, they came-up with and made a new hybrid species –The Canadian Super Pig-by mating domestic pigs and wild boars. Though they initially lived in captivity, a decline in the market for Pigs and Boars led to many of them being freed.

A group of these Super Pigs are now travelling down from Canada to the Northern US and pose a serious threat to native wildlife and humans alike, by spreading disease, and gobbling up crops. These Super Pigs are considered to be incredibly intelligent, learning as they eat and find their way around new places. The fear is that these pigs, swine, hogs, boars – whichever name you give them – these omnivores are poised to wreak havoc on the environment in both Canada and the United States.

In India, two State level political parties have been fighting over control of their parties after the death of their respective charismatic leaders and after a few years of ruling the State in their light and shine.

In the first, in the Western State of Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena founded by Bal Thackeray saw the majority of the party led by Eknath Shinde break away from the family-faction led by the son Uddhav Thackeray. And collaborate with the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) to form a Government, with Eknath Shinde becoming the Chief Minister. This week India’s Election Commission (EC) ruled that the faction led by Eknath Shinde is the real Shiv Sena and awarded it the Party Symbol – Bow & Arrow – and associated Offices. The decision was challenged in the the Supreme Court of India, but the Court sided with the EC’s decision. Later, the Election Commission awarded a ‘Cone Ice-cream’ Symbol to what was left of Uddhav’s party, which was anyway melting away into oblivion.

In the second, in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu, following the death of Supremo Jayalalithaa, two leaders Ottakarathevar Pannerselvam (OPS) and Edappadi Karuppa Gounder Palaniswami (EPS) teamed-up staying true to the ‘Two Leaves’ Symbol of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). And ruled as Deputy Chief Minister and Chief Minister respectively for a while, only to lose the last Assembly Elections to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). But the EPS led AIADMK gave a decent fight, and he went on to become the Opposition Leader. Then the bickering and fighting began and the dual-leadership model broke down, and it became awfully tough for the two leaves to stay on the same stem. Single Leadership seemed to be the best option to take on the ruling DMK and the growing-by-leaps-and-bounds BJP. After many a run to high and higher courts with, you-lose-some, I-win-some games, this week the SC ruled that bye-laws brought-in to make EPS the single leader are legal. This makes the way for EPS to be formally elected General Secretary and undisputed Leader of the AIADMK, graduating from being the ‘interim’ General Secretary.

Parties should choose symbols carefully: A bow cannot wait to dispatch an arrow. And two leaves on a stem cannot stem the growth of more leaves!

Oh Buoy!

This week Japan was rattled when a rusty metal sphere, about 1.5 metres wide, washed up on a beach in Hamamatsu. Could it be a Godzilla egg (the effect of watching too many movies), a Dragon Ball, something from outer space, a spy ball… a mooring buoy? This was in the background of the Chinese spy balloon saga, and a hostile North Korea pumping test missiles into the Sea of Japan.

The area was cordoned off and by the Police and even a bomb squad was sent to check out the object. Then it was X-rayed, declared safe and picked-up for disposal.

Turns out it was a hollow sphere, a steel mooring buoy, used to carry instruments or act as floating markers. The buoys can break free from their anchorage in the sea, either in a violent storm or from being pulled by a big fishing vessel. The objects can float in the ocean for decades, and can lose their markings and get rusty when they wash ashore.

Many Japanese were embarrassed that they could not recognise a buoy in a sea of thoughts.

More fighting, melting, wide-bodied stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay buoyed-up and afloat with World Inthavaaram.


About: the world this week, 19 June to 25 June 2022; edge-of-seat, pot-boiler politics in India’s States; Afghanistan shakes; Election results in France, Colombia, and Israel; and a new President-in-the-works for India.


During this week, the International Day of Yoga was celebrated with gusto, with the ‘all walks of life celebrities’ piously seated on a Yoga mat, twisting, turning, and bending backwards and forwards, showing-off their precious moves, highlighting the benefits of the wonderful practice. However, in the Maldives, Islamist protesters stormed and disrupted a yoga event organised by the Indian High Commission in the capital Male. The protesters also brandished placards proclaiming that yoga was against the tenets of Islam. That’s twisting things too far!

Meanwhile, a friend whose Company supplied the T-Shirts to the United Nations for the yoga twists & turns, snaked into my Home to invite me to his son’s Wedding. A fortune-teller had warned that if his son is not cooly ‘married off’ within the year he may face the heat of a marriage draught lasting at least six years – women melting away-blame it on climate change. He googled, quickly latched onto a bride, got his son to nod in agreement – the son was bewildered to discover that she was a childhood bench mate- and fixed the Wedding for August this year. ‘Fortune’ favours the brave!

Moving over: in France, President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party lost majority in Parliament, two months after he fought hard to comeback as President. Now, he has to find a way to create alliances and constantly scratch-up the support of other parties to get work done. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and former opponent called the election results a ‘seismic event, while Macron’s own party called it a ‘democratic shock.’

On Sunday, Colombia elected its first leftist president, Gustavo Petro, a former member of the M-19 guerrilla movement. He won more than 50% of the vote, beating a prominent businessman. Gustavo has promised to stop new oil exploration and to raise taxes on the rich. His running mate, Francia Marquez, also snagged a first. An environmental activist and single mother, she will serve as the country’s first black vice-president.

Meanwhile, Israel may get a new Prime Minister as the country is headed toward its fifth election in four years after announcing plans to dissolve parliament. Israel has a way with its Elections!

In Ukraine the fighting continues in the eastern part and the situation is described as extremely difficult. Russia has been using its superior artillery strength to make gains. On the ‘good news side’ the war-torn country has been approved as a European Union (EU) Candidate at a EU Leaders’ summit in Brussels. Ukraine applied days after the Russian invasion, and the process has since moved at a record speed. Ukraine’s President Zelensky called it a ‘unique and historic moment’. Candidate status is the first official step towards EU membership – but it can take many years to join and there’s no guarantee of success. So near yet so far?

Late this week in the United States of America (USA) its Supreme Court overturned the 50 years old Roe versus Wade Case that legalised abortion rights, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion in the USA. This is a death blow to woman’s freedom. And a huge step backwards. More on this, next week.

Afghanistan Shakes

The horror in Afghanistan refuses to abate. The Taliban shook it like never before and then nature too joined the shake.

A powerful earthquake measuring 6.2 ‘moment magnitude’ killed about a 1000 people and left thousands injured in Afghanistan’s Khost and Paktika provinces. The earthquake’s tremors were felt over 500 kilometers by people across Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.

Mountainous Afghanistan and the larger region of South Asia along the Hindu Kush mountains has long been vulnerable to devastating earthquakes with a similar incident, but of lesser damage, happening in 2015.

India’s Maharashtra State: A Quiver-full of Arrows

In the Maharashtra State Assembly Elections held in the year 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 122 seats in the 288 seated Assembly and came to power entering into a relationship with the Shiv Sena (SHS), which itself won 63 seats. Previously, the highest the BJP could muster in Maharashtra was 46 seats. BJP’s handsome leader Devendra Fadnavis became Chief Minister, enjoyed a ‘relationship honeymoon’, and went on to successfully complete his term.

Building on the snug togetherness, the BJP & SHS decided to take their relationship to the next level – love each other, mind the distance, and probably get married in the next Legislative Assembly Election, which was held on 21 October 2019. After a 61.4% turnout in the election, the ruling BJP and SHS pre-poll alliance won a majority with 106 and 55 seats respectively, on Wedding Day. However, the first night (and day) probably wasn’t good as the just-married couple started squabbling over dowry. The SHS said it was promised an equal share – Chief Ministership for half the term – which was quickly denied by the New Delhi uncles of the BJP saying nothing of the sort was agreed upon. A political drama then kicked-in. The SHS walked-out of the marriage and the BJP, desperately hunted for a coy-bride in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to fill the gap, and found one. This barely lasted three days-could not be consummated-and the new Bride was disowned by her parents – the NCP. The coy Bride returned to her parent’s home and the SHS groomed themselves for a live-in relationship with the NCP’s 53 and the Congress Party’s 44 members, forming the government called the Maha Vikas Aghadi Government (MVA) with their support.

The Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray went on to become Chief Minister without himself having contested the Elections, but later qualified, by becoming a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC). That’s the first part of the story. Now, the second part, where a wronged and ditched groom gets his revenge?

This week the Shiv Sena live-in began to fail with MLAs (Member of Legislative Assembly) of the SHS probably realising they are living in sin. A major chunk lead by Eknath Shinde – nobody heard of him much, before this – broke away, probably emboldened by the come-hither, stunning looks of the BJP. Nobody knows for sure. They caught a flight to the State of Gujarat and from there, a flood of MLA’s – near about 40 of them – flew to Guwahati in the State of Assam, which was suffering one of its worst ever floods caused by incessant rain. This is obviously to prevent ‘political poaching’ – a hunting game-theory Indian Politicians specialise in.

That’s a rebellion in a party founded and run by family members where the family is left behind and the members have stolen the party, possibly beating the Anti-Defection Law which says tow-thirds breaking away is acceptable.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray vacated his official Bungalow and moved to his family home, suitcases, et all. The Government is back on the drawing board.The third and probably the final part of the story is expected to unfold in the upcoming week. The Shiv Sena’s logo is a bow and arrow and Party name itself means, ‘Shivaji’s Army’. They will need all of that, and much more, to stay relevant.

And Tamilnadu: Two Leaves Leaving

Not to be left behind and catching the whiff of things, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which is the main Opposition Party in the Southern State of Tamilnadu, created its own drama.

Ever since the death of its charismatic leader Jayalalithaa, the AIADMK has been working in a ‘dual sim-phone’ mode – Dual Leadership – with Ottakarathevar Panneerselvam (OPS) and Edappadi Karuppa Palanisamy (EPS) being joint Leaders, kind of, the two leaves of the AIADMK. Both of them have been Chief Ministers for periods of time.

EPS successfully steered the AIADMK as the recent Chief Minister of Tamilnadu – did a fine job – in completing his term, ended up losing in the next Elections, but with a respectable number of seats, reinforcing his leadership.

Over a year in the opposition, the dual leadership wasn’t working well, especially with the BJP’s Tamilnadu President Annamalai stealing the narrative, firing on all guns, and working magic in Tamilnadu as if they were the real Opposition Party. With the AIADMK party cadre wanting a single leadership, to be quick on the draw, they resolved to meet to discuss resolutions made and iron-out bumps in a General Council meeting this week. But it turned into a mid-summer night’s dream. The Courts stepped-in saying they must stick to resolutions agreed upon before the Meeting; all resolutions were rejected; OPS and his supporters walked out; and the Meeting was put-off to another day with new resolutions to kick-in including that of Single Leadership.

No one knows what happens next. Must be looking at direct flights from Chennai to Guwahati to get flooded with new ideas.

Indian politics works in mysterious ways and the edge-of-the-seat suspense, twists & turns can be intriguing, mind-boggling and awfully thrilling. Airplanes and 5-star Hotels gain lots of revenue, the media drives into top gear, and the State gets paid its Goods & Service Taxes.

The New Would-be President of India

Over the past weeks the media was pregnant with speculation on who would be India’s ruling Party BJP’s choice for the President of India, given that the current President, Ram Nath Kovind’s-He did a magnificent job of being President- term expires on 24 July 2022.

This week the choice was made. Droupadi Murmu, 64, a former Governor of the State of Jharkhand was chosen and will be the first person from the State of Odisha, and the first tribal woman leader to occupy the presidential post if elected. She will also be the first President, to be born after Independence. That’s a lot of firsts!

The Opposition had earlier announced Yashwant Sinha – a former Finance Minister in the BJP and one who deserted the BJP ranks – as its candidate The poll is slated for July 18. And the numbers are stacked in favour of the BJP.

Droupadi Murmu, is a tribal woman born in the Santhal community of the remote Mayurbhanj District, Odisha. Her father and grandfather were Village Heads under the Panchayat Raj System. She started out a teacher before entering politics after earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ramdev Women’s College in Bhubaneswar. She worked as a junior assistant in the Irrigation & Power Department for 4 years before becoming a teacher at Sri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre, Rairangpur.

Then she decided to swing into the world of Indian politics. And began her political career as a Councillor in Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 1997, and as Vice-President of the BJP’s Schedule Tribes Morcha. She became MLA, twice on the BJP ticket, from Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj in 2000 and 2004. She rose through the proverbial ranks to become a minister in the BJD (Biju Janata Dal)-BJP Alliance Government in 2000 handling the portfolios of Commerce & Transport and Fisheries & Animal Husbandry. And became the Governor of Jharkhand in 2015. Murmu could hold on to her assembly seat in 2004 even when the BJD had snapped ties with the BJP weeks ahead of the state elections, which were swept by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s BJD party.

In her personal life she has seen much tragedy, losing her husband Shyam Charan Murmu to a cardiac arrest in 2014, and one of two sons in 2009, in mysterious circumstances, and the second in a road accident in 2013. She has a daughter, Itishri Murmu who works in a Bank and is married to Ganesh Hembram – a rugby player. There is a young grand-daughter in her arms.

The would-be President has struggled every millimetre of her way to get here, has seen personal tragedy- inheritance of loss, fought depression, and has managed all of them with Himalayan resolve. I’m sure she will make a wonderful President. The best is yet to come!

More native, bow & arrow leaving stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay safe with World Inthavaaram.