About: the world this week, 6 February to 12 February 2022, a week which screamed and bursted at its seams in a frenzy of stories about roads, hijabs, oratory, nightingales, cricket, and the Oscar Award nominations.



Canada has a road-rage problem. Thousands of Canadians have hit the streets in trucks, tractors, cars, and on foot, clogging driveways to protest the Country’s Covid-19 restrictions. With persistent and noisy horn-honking, protesters are demanding lifting of health restrictions, including Covid-19 vaccine and mask mandates, lockdowns, and the kind. This is part of the ‘Freedom Convoy’, which was initially started by truckers protesting a mandate requiring drivers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated or face testing and quarantine requirements.

This week, the protestors stormed and blocked a key bridge that accounts for about 27% of the trade between the United States (US) and Canada. And one that serves as an auto-parts supply chain between the two countries. Well, there are no spare roads and no spare parts too.

While the truckers blocked roads in Canada, across the ‘key bridge’ and yonder border, it’s being revealed that the most dangerous way to travel in the US – roads – became even more deadly during the coronavirus pandemic: roadway deaths soared at the highest rate in recorded history.

Road safety advocates say the numbers match their experience along Maryland Route 210, a six-lane, largely straight stretch with busy business and residential intersections, south of the capital, Washington. It’s called Indian Head Highway, but some call it ‘the highway of death,’ due to dozens of fatal accidents on this highway, over the past decade. “We have roads that are designed for efficient travel, not for safety. These are preventable crashes”, says a Road Expert.

Safety recommendations include increasing enforcement and education campaigns; requiring vehicles to come with collision warning and automatic braking systems; and distracted driving policies that recognise even hands-free devices take a driver’s attention away from the road.


It all started with a group of six girls suddenly deciding to wear the Hijab (head-scarf/head covering) to the Government Pre-University College for Girls in Udupi, Karnataka State, last December, when it was never done before. Their argument was, there was no clear instruction on not wearing a Hijab, hence why not? They claimed it was their right under the Indian Constitution. The College decided not to allow girls wearing a hijab and prevented them from entering the College, based on ‘uniform rules’ thinking, which power it owns for the making. Following this incident, in a tit-for-tat strike, a group of boys at the Government Pre-University College in Kundapur, also in Karnataka State, went to college sporting saffron shawls in protest against some girls attending classes wearing the hijab. With the issue spreading like wildfire across Karnataka, Schools and Colleges were shutdown – thanks to the lockdown technology we learnt over the past pandemic months.

The matter was then dragged to the Courts, when the Colleges had the authority to decide and should have simply enforced a uniform dress code -banning any religion proving outfits. The Courts said exactly that: no hijab or saffron shawl, until a more detail uncovering is done. Back to where we started.

We cannot allow religious practices to intrude into Education and it’s time India gets cracking on a Uniform Civil Code, which the Constitution says we must have.

Oratory, Elections

India’s Prime Minister hammered the Opposition to pulp, in fiery oratory, in the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament, defending his Government’s performance and schemes. His timing with the State of Goa was perfect-what with elections coming up- on it getting independence 15 years all other parts of India obtained theirs, and the ‘brother of a Nightingale’ hailing from Goa being chucked out of India’s Radio Station for reciting a freedom fighter’s poem-all in the Opposition ruled years.

The elections in India’s largest northern State of Uttar Pradesh, said to be the bellwether of National Elections in 2024, began on 10 February and will go up to 7 March 2022. It elects 403 members to the State Legislature. Votes will be counted and results declared on 10 March 2022.


Lata Mangeshkar, one of India’s biggest cultural icons and influential singer, called ‘The Nightingale of India’, died in Mumbai, aged 92, due to post-Covid-19 complications. Earlier, in January 2022, Lata was admitted to hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.

The Nightingale began singing since her teens and ended up defining music and melody for generations in a career spanning 73 years, delivering more than 15,000 songs across 36 languages. Her work in India’s Hindi film industry -Bollywood- made her a national icon.

Lata Mangeshkar has received several awards chief among them being, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award – India’s highest award in the field of cinema- in 1989. And the Bharat Ratna-India’s highest civilian honour- in 2001.

Born in Indore in the Central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh in 1929, she began learning music at the age of five from her father, Deenanath Mangeshkar, who was a theatre artist. Deenanath adopted the surname Mangeshkar to identify his family with his native town of Mangeshi, in the State of Goa. Lata was named ‘Hema’ at her birth, but her parents later renamed her Lata after a female character, Latika, in one of her father’s plays. She was the eldest child in the family, with Meena, Asha, Usha, and Hridaynath, in birth order, being her siblings. All are accomplished singers and musicians in their own right. The best known is Asha Bhosle who is as famous as Lata.

After her father’s death, the family moved to Mumbai where a teenage Lata began singing for Marathi movies. She also took-up small roles in a few films to support her family, but would say later that her heart wasn’t in it. ‘I was happiest singing’ she said.

There’s a story that once her father asked one of his music disciples to practice a ‘raag’ while he finished some urgent work. Lata was playing nearby and when suddenly a note of the ‘raag’ that the disciple was rendering, jarred, Lata latched on to it and began correcting him. When her father returned, he discovered a discipline in his own daughter. The rest, they say, is history.

Her big break came in 1949 with the release of a haunting song titled ‘Aayega Aanewala’ for the movie ‘Mahal’. And thereafter there was no looking back.

Initially, she is said to have imitated the acclaimed singer Noor Jehan, but she later developed her own style of singing. She brought a new signature style to Indian film music, moving away from mehfil-style (celebration) performances to suit both ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ female protagonists. A soprano range voice with less volume or amplitude, she had enough weight in her voice to give definite shape to the melody of Indian film songs. Although she had limited coloratura (an elaborate melody with ornamentation and embellishments) skills in her early career, she developed better tone and pitch as she progressed in her playback career. Lyrics of songs in Hindi movies are primarily composed by Urdu poets and contain a higher proportion of Urdu words, including the dialogues. Actor Dilip Kumar once made a mildly disapproving remark about her accent while singing Hindi/Urdu songs; so for a period of time, she took lessons in Urdu.

Lata said that Noor Jehan heard her as a child and had told her to practice a lot. The two stayed in touch with each other for many years to come.

Noor Jehan was a famous Pakistani singer and actress who worked both in India and Pakistan. Being highly versatile, she could sing in several languages including Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Sindhi, and had recorded over 10,000 songs in her career. When the partition of India happened in 1947, Noor Jehan decided to move to Pakistan and settled in Karachi with her family. She was given the title of ‘Malika-e-Tarannum’ (the Queen of Melody) in Pakistan.

Lata Mangeshkar’s solos and immortal duets with Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar along with a legion of other prominent Indian singers, are among Hindi cinemas most memorable and treasured songs.

The 1974 edition of The Guinness Book of Records had listed Lata Mangeshkar as the most recorded artist. But the claim was contested by Mohammed Rafi. The book continued to list Lata’s name but also mentioned Rafi’s claim. The entry was removed in 1991 until 2011, in which Guinness put Lata’s sister (Asha Bhosle) as the most recorded artist. Currently, Pulapaka Susheela ( P. Susheela)-another Indian Playback Singer associated mostly with South Indian cinema- holds the honour.

Lata Mangeshkar recorded her last song ‘Saugandh Mujhe Is Mitti Ki’, which was composed by Mayuresh Pai, as a tribute to the Indian Army and nation. It was released on 30 March 2019.

Lata Mangeshkar never married, staying single, singing like a nightingale until her breath was no more. Rest In Peace, Lata Mangeshkar

India has lost two nightingales since independence. The other ‘Nightingale of India’ was Sarojini Naidu known as such because of her mesmerising poetry. Her works, rich in imagery, covered a variety of themes – love, death, separation among others. Most of her poems have lines repeated across stanzas. This is similar to a Nightingale’s song: repetitive, yet beautiful.


The International Cricket Council (ICC)’s Under-19 ‘Boys’ World Cup Cricket Finals was played in the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, West Indies, last Saturday. A very dominant India won a record-extending fifth World Cup-in seven outings of the game-title beating England by four wickets in an extraordinary campaign that was almost derailed by the Covid-19 outbreak. The triumph bore a ruthless resemblance to earlier conquering adventures of the fabulous Under-19 Indian Teams.

India chased down a target of 190 runs in 47.4 overs, reaching 195 for six. Nishant Sindhu played an unbeaten match-winning knock of 50 runs off 54 balls to help India edge past England’s score. Kaushal Tambe had a heart-in-the-mouth moment when fielding in deep square leg, England’s James Rew, batting on 95 pulled a Ravi Kumar delivery towards him. And Tambe almost spilled the ball while trying to take the catch but recovered in time to jump forward and take a stunning one-handed catch to send Rew back to the pavilion. The dismissal was crucial as it broke a 93-run wicket for England’s fourth wicket and India went on to take the remaining two wickets for just five more runs.

Pacer Raj Bawa took five wickets, while wicket keeper Dinesh Bana hit the winning shot(s)with two consecutive sixes to finish the match in style.

Yash Dhull is the winning Indian captain and Tom Prest the losing England captain.

The phenomenal Under-19 win ensures the ‘Indian Cricket Factory’ keeps up a steady supply of youngsters to challenge the past histrionics of the Gavaskars, Kapil Devs, Sachin Tendulkars, Dhonis, and Viraat Kholis. Keep it up, Young India.

Please Yourself

The Oscar nominations 2022 are out with the Academy releasing its nominations this week.

The Power of the Dog -about a domineering rancher (played by Benedict Cumberbatch)-picked up the most nominations. But West Side Story (a Steven Spielberg remake of the yester-years movie),’ Dune – An American epic science fiction film-and Belfast -a British coming of age comedy-drama- were doggedly close behind.

Denzel Washington (Best Actor in, The Tragedy of Macbeth) broke records as the most nominated Black Actor in history. Actress Kristen Stewart (Best Actress as Princess Diana in the movie Spencer) and Singer Beyonce (Best Original Song alongside Dixon) have won their first Academy Award nominations.

Writing With Fire (about a Newspaper run by women) made by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh of India, secured a nomination in the Best Documentation (Feature) category.

The recently released James Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’ won nominations in Best Sound, Best Original Song, and Best Visual Effects.

More drama and visual stories coming-up in the weeks ahead. Bond with World Inthavaaram



About: the world this week, 19 December to 25 December 2021, the thing of the year, the country of the year, signs of an invasion, bad behaviour by lawmakers, an antediluvian egg, and movies – in and out of prison; and a stylish, smashing brother helps.


My ‘Thing Of The Year’, the coronavirus and its evolving mutations, continues to hold the world in thrall, and by the throat. The latest avatar, Omicron, is already dominating infections in the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), and most of Europe. To give a statistic: Covid19 deaths in the US now exceed all deaths, military and civilian, in all American wars since the Revolutionary War (1775-76).

India is watching with ‘masked breath’, the cases are slowly growing in numbers and that dreaded word, ‘lockdown’ is unlocking in our minds. Many of us hope it dare not get a stronghold, the way it tossed us up, gasping for breath, in the so-called second wave.

Latest studies say that the Omicron variant isn’t as bad as the Delta variant, but certainly more infectious. We just need to keep ourselves ahead of the spikes: do what it takes to stay safe this Holiday Season – get and wear that armour.

With Christmas approaching, I hope everyone’s wish is a ‘stocking filled with the belief that the world will see the last spike of the coronavirus in 2022 – and others of its kind’. It may be a tough load for Santa to reindeer-in through the chimney, but faith is everything.


Italy was crowned the ‘Country of the Year’ by The Economist newspaper, in its annual honouring of the country that, in its view, improved the most in the year 2021: mind it, the award is not given to the biggest, the richest, or the happiest country! Central to the honour was Mario Draghi, described as a ‘competent, internationally respected Prime Minister’. Meanwhile, disgraced former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is modelling a comeback! Auguroni (Best Wishes).

Russia and Ukraine

Russia invaded the headlines this week, firing the eternal question, ‘is Russia going to annex Ukraine -like it did Crimea-are Russian forces getting ready for war in Ukraine?’ Oops, since when did invasions become fashionable again; ask the Vikings in Valhalla?

It was only seven years ago, in 2014, that Russia seized and then annexed the southern Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, when Ukrainians were busy deposing their pro-Russian President. And Russian-backed separatists captured large swathes of Ukraine’s two eastern regions collectively known as the Donbas.

There is a mind problem here with Russia developing a mindset that Russia and Ukraine are one nation, after the fall of the Soviet Union: a twin brothers-separated-at birth-thing. Russian is the second most spoken language in Ukraine after Ukrainian. Another cause for Russia’s concern is that Ukraine is ‘sleeping with’ NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and may marry into the Western Alliance. And Russia is demanding guarantees that the wedding will never happen.

NATO is a defensive alliance and its Secretary General, has made clear that any military support would be purely along those lines. The UK is set to help Ukraine build two naval bases, at Ochakiv on the Black Sea, and at Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov. The US’ anti-tank Javelin missiles have also been sent to Ukraine and two US Coast Guard patrol boats have been given to the navy. And Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is watching closely.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is looking for a clear timeline from the alliance. Wedding bells adding sound to the jingle of Christmas?

Russia is threatening military measures, and the US says if it invades Ukraine it will hit back with sanctions on an unprecedented scale. This is a place to watch. Maybe it’s just a Russian posturing, to prevent NATO from marrying more nations and bringing many children into the world opposed to Russia…and in Russia’s backyard.


India’s Opposition continued to ‘dishonour’ Parliament – in my view – sulking and striking over a well-deserved suspension of 12 fellow Members of Parliament (MP) for unruly, unacceptable behaviour, in the previous session. And wasting tax-payer’s money. Late in the week, another Quiz-Master turned MP joined the gang after flinging the Rule Book at the House Speaker. The best part is, these MPs wore the suspension as a badge of honour and along with ‘their partners in crime’ ensured Parliament work was disrupted.

MPs should set an example by setting in motion thoughtful discussions, artful debates and, agreeing to agree and agreeing to disagree.

Meanwhile, the Government rammed through Lower & Upper Houses of Parliament some much-needed electoral reforms, linking the unique Identification, Aadhar Card, with the Voter’s Identity Card – an obvious attempt a controlling election voting fraud.

The Government also tabled a bill, after Cabinet approval, to increase a woman’s age of marriage to 21, from the earlier 18, bringing it on par with a man. Women should be able to make better choices at this age and overcome a constant Indian pressure to marry-off the girls when they are just beginning to get the hang and the bang of things.


Over the years, we have become used to news of Dinosaur bones being discovered while digging in some corner of the World and put together to find a big name for it: many have landed up in museums where we can see the past ‘assembled and standing still in front of us’. Dinosaurs were real.

Now comes a more real story, announced by Scientists this week, about an unprecedented fossil, a perfectly preserved baby dinosaur curled up, almost life-like, inside its egg and obviously preparing to hatch, just like a chicken. The fossil is about 70 million years old.

The egg is around 17 centimeters (cm) long and the Dinosaur is estimated to be 27 cm long from head to tail. The researchers believe as an adult, had it lived, it would have been about two to three meters long. The fossil preserves the embryonic skeleton of an Oviraptorid Dinosaur, which has been nicknamed ‘Baby Yingliang’ after the name of the Chinese museum which houses the fossil. Baby dinosaur bones are small and fragile and are only very rarely preserved as fossils, making this a very lucky find, indeed.

All birds directly evolved from a group of two-legged dinosaurs known as Theropods, whose members include the towering Tyrannosaurus Rex and the smaller Velociraptors. This find is expected to shed more light on the links between dinosaurs and birds, among other things.

The specimen was among several fossils discovered about two decades ago in the China’s City of Ganzhou in the south-eastern province of Jiangxi but not recognised to be fossilised dinosaur eggs until 2015, when evaluated by an expert. The fossils were acquired in the year 2000 by a director of a Chinese stone company called Yingliang Group and ended up in storage, largely forgotten until about 10 years later, when museum staff sorted through the boxes and came across the fossil during the construction of Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum. Eventually, the egg shell slightly cracked and the fragile bones inside became visible, prompting a peek-in.

Researchers then led a study of the fossil, which was published in the journal iScience this week. Well, they hatched the egg for us to see.

Please Yourself

Over the week I watched the magnificent Sandra Bullock movie, The Unforgivable’ about a woman who tries to re-enter society, after serving a 20 year sentence in prison: to a society that is unforgiving and refuses to allow her to forget her past. Her only hope for redemption is finding her younger sister who she was forced to leave behind without a care-taker. Her mom dies in childbirth after giving her a little sister. And upon the death of her Dad she brings up the sister in her childhood home until ‘the crime’ when the Sheriff who comes over to evict them is shot dead in the ensuing war of words.

The end brought tears to the eyes with the sisters ‘closing the gap’ with a simple hug and the body language doing all the talking. Brilliant. Before the end there is a twist, which tells us what actually happened on that fateful day. Watch the movie and find out for the sacrifices made by a sister to protect her 5 years old sibling and the never give-up spirit in finding and connecting with her again. Give purpose to life on Earth!

I had also watched the Rajinikant Tamil movie ‘Annaantthe’ and found it dumb to the core. But, I loved the way a brother does everything possible to be understanding, and building back the life of his sister, without showing himself-until the end, when the job is done. Here too the story ends with a hug, though a noisy one.

The sister elopes with her lover, when the brother fixes-up a marriage, and thereafter suffers terrible misfortune in business due to an ‘underworld rowdy gang’. And the brother comes to the rescue, unnoticed by the sister. Again, the brother raises the sister from a young age, when the parents die. He dotes on her expansively and refuses to fall in to the age-old trap of ‘finishing off a runaway bride’ to save the ‘family honour’.

Any sister would love to have such a brother watching over from behind and giving you the muscle to face and climb out of a treacherous situation. Call it strengthening the wings for the flight of life. And a permanent life support.

The superb Actor that Rajinikant is, there are not many film makers and directors who have done justice to his capabilities, calmly using his unique style. And Rajini has allowed himself to be dragged along the beaten path…punching dialogues, flicking cigarettes, and other things as well. He can do better.

More stylish sibling love stories coming up in the weeks ahead, hug World Inthavaaram. Careful when you break those eggs for breakfast – there may be a baby Dinosaur sleeping inside.

Season’s Greetings, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year 2022.