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, 3July to 9 July 2022. Shoot, Kill, Quit, Fight, Sing, Sprint, Pray, and Eat.


This week started with a bang…and ended with a bang, literally.

Denmark’s capital Copenhagen witnessed a mindless shooting spree at a Shopping Centre, which shocked Danes to the core. Three people were killed and four injured. The deadly attack began at the Field’s Shopping Mall – a multi-storey building and one of the biggest in Denmark: it has about 140 shops and restaurants and is located on the outskirts of Copenhagen.

Police arrested the suspect, an ethnic Dane, thirteen minutes after being alerted to the attack. The killer had mental health issues; there is no indication of a terror motive. And the shooting appears to be a lone wolf act – with no other conspirators.

English singer, songwriter, and Actor, Harry Edward Styles was to perform in a concert nearby. And it was cancelled at short notice. Fans were impressed with the manner police and organisers ensured young concertgoers were safely carted away, by way of informing parents and providing a police escort to the nearest safe train station.

The last time Denmark saw a major terror event was in 2015 when two people were killed and six police officers injured during an attack on a a cultural centre and a Synagogue in Copenhagen. The gunman was later killed in a shoot out.

Denmark has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe with licences to own firearms usually available for hunting or sport shooting, following background checks, and with almost a total ban on automatic weapons. Carrying a firearm in public is strictly prohibited.

Now, to the cowboys of the West.

The shootings in the United States of America (US) is only shooting up, and there seems to be no sign of it loosing its spirit, at the moment.

This week, six people were killed in a shooting in downtown Highland Park, Illinois during the 4th July Independence Day Parade. Parade-goers were enjoying a sunny parade along Central Avenue when a gunman began firing indiscriminately and randomly from the roof-top of a Business building, which he had scaled using a ladder.

The suspect, Robert E Crimo III, was spotted by a North Chicago Officer who attempted a traffic stop. Crimo led the Officers to a brief chase before being stopped and taken into custody.

This marks at least the 308th mass shooting in the US this year and the carnage adds to an already bloody American Spring and Summer.

Just look at this statistic: Denmark had 3 mass shootings in the last 28 years. The US had 17 mass shootings in the last 5 days. The difference and what needs to be done is crystal clear. Got it America?

In another finding, The US found itself to be the serial killer capital of the World. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) complied information about 4743 known serial killers worldwide between 1900 and 2016 and discovered that 3204 of them were from the US. Is that why guns are required? Is America setting a bloody infectious example?

Shots in Japan

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 67, is Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister until he resigned in 2020. He was known for his ‘Abenomics’ policy to lift Japan’s economy – the world’s third biggest – out of deflation and wanting a more prominent role for Japan’s military, to counter growing threats from North Korea and a more assertive China. He was responsible for Japan winning the bid to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, cherishing a wish to preside over the Games. He even appeared as the Nintendo video game character Mario during the Olympic handover at Rio 2016.

During his tenure as PM, he considered it a failure in being unable to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution, which prohibits the country from using force to resolve international disputes.

Late this week, Shinzo Abe was in the western city of Nara to make a campaign speech ahead of this Sunday’s upper house elections. While giving the speech he was shot twice from behind, by a man using what looked like a shotgun or a home-made gun . The first shot appears to have missed, but the second shot hit Abe in the back. Security Personnel then quickly overpowered and detained the shooter, who made no attempt to run. Abe was in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest and airlifted to the Nara City Hospital where he succumbed and died due to the shooting. A suspect, an Army Veteran, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, of Nara City was arrested.

Abe’s shooting has shocked Japan: gun violence is rare and Japan has one of the lowest rates of gun crime in the world due to its extremely strict gun control laws.

The last time a current or former Japanese PM was shot was 90 years ago. There has never been a political assassination in Japan since the 1930’s, The only shootings ever heard of in Japan involve the Yakuza – Japan’s famously violent organised crime gangs – arguing over territory. Even those were rare. But most people never come in to contact with the Yakuza. Even they shy away from guns because the penalties for illegal possession are just not worth it.

There were 10 gun incidents last year, leaving one person dead and four wounded. In the year 2014 six gun deaths were reported, and the number rarely exceeds 10, in a country of 126 million people. In 2018, Japan only reported nine deaths from firearms, compared with 39,740 that year in the USA.

Under Japan’s firearms laws, the only guns permitted for sale are shotguns and air rifles. Handguns are outlawed. But getting them is a long and complicated process.

Japan has close to ‘zero-tolerance’ of gun ownership – an approach that contributes to its extremely low rate of gun crime.

Later, a video of the shooting showed that Shinzo Abe’s Security did a horrible job of protecting him when compared to the tight heavy security in other parts of the world. Understandable, given Japan’s safe record? Maybe there is a lesson here.

This week’s assassination of Shinzo Abe could change Japan forever.

Herd moves: Losing the Best Job in the World

This week Boris Johnson resigned as leader of his Conservative Party and is on the way out as Prime Minister (PM) of the United Kingdom (UK).

He has been in a quagmire of scandal after scandal, in recent months. The list includes everything from ‘Partygate’, surviving a no-confidence vote, to corruption allegations to the latest ‘Pincher’ scandal. It was acknowledged that Johnson knew about sexual misconduct allegations against a fellow Conservative Party member before appointing him to a senior position. But he says he ‘forgot’ about it. A ‘wind rush’ of ministers resigned since Tuesday and nudged him to do the same. And after initial resistance Johnson has agreed to step down. In his exit speech he said a Herd moves by instinct and when the Herd moves, it moves. And he was sure ‘Darwin’s evolution’ would find the next PM, and that he is sad to leave the Best Job In the World.

Boris Johnson squandered one of the strongest political positions held by a PM of the UK, in record time. The authoritative mandate gained after winning an eighty seat majority in December 2019 dissipated at extraordinary speed as he dealt with a series of scandals with a ham-fisted mixture of denial, disorganisation, and even outright lying.

Johnson secured the Election Victory riding on the back of the ’Get Brexit Done’ pledge. After securing an exit from the European Union (EU), he struggled with the coronavirus pandemic – got it himself- was late in imposing the first lockdown in March 2020, and thereafter went too fast in loosening restrictions the following Christmas, which he was forced to cancel at the eleventh hour.

But UK’s PM was ultimately undone not by policy disagreements but by character failings. He presided over a lax culture at Downing Street during the pandemic, in which he, advisers and officials attended a string of booze-filled parties (imbibing the spirits of Scotland & Ireland?) while people all over the country were locked down at home.

I reckon, the seriousness of governance evaporated and it could not be condensed into a workable drink, any longer. Mind the herd!

Just Begun

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, continued his ranting and warned that Russia has barely started its campaign in Ukraine and dared the west to try to defeat it on the battlefield. “Everyone should know that, by and large, we haven’t started anything yet in earnest,” Putin said during a speech to Russian lawmakers this week. He added, “The further it goes, the harder it will be, for them to negotiate with us”.

Methinks, this is the beginning of the end, and Ukraine will stay the course, gradually ‘managing’ the bullying of Russia.

India’s Upper House

The Rajya Sabha, constitutionally called the Council of States, is the Upper House of the bicameral Parliament of India – the Lower House or the House of the People, being the Lok Sabha.

While people of India directly vote to elect the Members of Parliament (MP) of the Lok Sabha, the MP’s of the Rajya Sabha are indirectly elected by the legislatures of the States and Union territories. Further, for the Rajya Sabha, the President of India nominates 12 members who have special domain knowledge or practical experience in art, literature, science, and social service. This is on the advice of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister – the Leader of the majority/ruling party in the Lok Sabha. The intent being to enrich Parliamentary proceedings, which otherwise may be hijacked by political party musings.

The nominated members have a six-year term and the Rajya Sabha is a permanent House, not subject to dissolution. However, one-third members of Rajya Sabha retire after every second year: opening the gates for elections and nominations.

The Rajya Sabha being a representation of the States of India serves to protect the rights of States. And all laws passed by the Lok Sabha – affecting the states -have to be approved by a two—thirds majority in the Rajya Sabha.

This year the President of India dipping into his 12 MP rights, nominated legendary music director Ilaiyaraaja, from Tamil Nadu State, celebrated athlete P T Usha, from Kerala, blockbuster film screenwriter V Vijayendra Prasad from Andhra Pradesh, and spiritual leader Veerendra Heggade from Karnataka.

Rajayya Gnanathesikan, R Gananthesikan, went by the name of ‘Rajaiya’ on joining school, Raaja on learning music from his Master, and became Ilaiyaraaja after the stupendous success of his virgin music scores in the Tamil movie ‘Annakkili’(Parrot). Ilaiyaraaja then went on to become famous as a film composer, conductor, singer and lyricist, working predominantly in Tamil cinema. Ilayaraja is credited with introducing western music concepts in South Indian music and synthesising western and Indian music instruments. He has composed more than 7,000 songs, provided film scores for more than 1,400 movies and performed in more than 20,000 concerts.

Ilaiyaraaja is also called ‘Isaignani’ (musical genius) and is often referred to as ‘Maestro’, by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London, amongst others.

The journey from Gnanathesikan to Isaignani has indeed been an awfully long one. Names changed along with the heavenly music!

Pilavullakandi Thekkeraparambil Usha, P T Usha the sprinter, and India’s most famous woman track & field athlete, known as the Payyoli Express and the Golden Girl, has won over 100 medals at national and international events, including four golds at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games. She hit the headlines with her performance at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, where she reached the final but missed out on a medal by a 1/100th of a second. And a billion India hearts skipped a beat. She was born in Payyoli, Kozhikode district of Kerala hence the Payyoli Express tag.

In 1986 Seoul Asian Games, India won 5 Gold Medals where she alone won 4 Gold Medals in 200 metres (m), 400m, 400m hurdles & 4×400 relay and 1 Silver Medal in 100m. She is the first Indian woman to reach the final of an Olympic event.

P T Usha is married to V Srinivasan an inspector with the Central Industrial Security Force. The couple have a son, Ujjwal Srinivasan, who is a Doctor and holds an International Olympic Committee Diploma in Sports Medicine.

She is currently the committee head of Indian Talent Organization, which conducts National level talent Olympiad examinations in schools across India. And runs the Usha School of Athletics (USHA) at Koyilandi, near Kozhikode.

Koduri Vishwa Vijayendra Prasad,V Vijayendra Prasad is a film screenwriter and director known for his works primarily in Telugu cinema, in addition to Kannada, Tamil, and Hindi cinema. He has done more than twenty-five films as a screenwriter, most of which were commercially successful.

He is best known for screenwriting blockbusters such as ‘RRR’, the ‘Baahubali’ series and ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ in addition to Manikarnika: the Queen of Jhansi, Magadheera, and Mersal (Tamil). His film-maker son, S S Rajamouli directed the Baahubali series of movies, to wide acclaim.

Veerendra Heggade is a Jain Philanthropist and the hereditary administrator or Dharmadhikari of the Dharmasthala Temple. He has been at the forefront of outstanding community service, social work, and communal harmony, doing great work in health, education, and culture.

He succeeded his father as Dharmadhikari at the age of nineteen in October 1968, the 21st in his line, of the Pergade Dynasty belonging to the Digambara Jain group. He administers the temple and its properties, which are held in a Trust, for the benefit of devotees and worshippers.

Veerendra Heggade married Hemavathi, in a match arranged by their parents and the couple have an only child, a daughter, Shraddha. His heir and the person to succeed him will be his younger brother, Harshendra – as traditionally, sons get the charge.

Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade has been conducting a Free Mass Marriage every year in Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala since 1972. Over 10,000 couples have been married under this scheme.

The Annapoorna kitchen at the Lord Manjunatheshwara temple at Dharmasthala is one among the five biggest kitchens in India, which feeds thousands of people. The others big kitchens of the country are Shirdi, Chennai’s Taj kitchen, main kitchen of Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) at Noida, Uttar Pradesh, and Akshaya Patra Foundation’s kitchen at Hubli, Karnataka.

Lots to eat, with more stories coming out of my small Kitchen in the weeks ahead. Stay safe, stay with the herd, and move with World Inthavaaram.


About: the world this week, 26 June to 2 July 2022, lots of legal stuff- brace yourselves for the supreme, a killing in India, fuel less in Sri Lanka, scorching hot in Japan, and dining underground.


Russia is cold, unrelenting, and pushing its forces awfully hard ever since it illegally invaded Ukraine four months ago. They have eliminated most of Ukrainian defences in the Luhansk region, consolidated control of a belt of territory in the south and have blunted the effectiveness of Ukrainian attack drones. And now, they have complete control of the Luhansk region, after Ukrainian forces finally gave up the city of Severodonetsk.

This week Russia showed a murderous streak when it fired a missile into a mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk. More than 1,000 people were inside at that time and the number of victims is unknown – could be deadly.

It’s worrisome that Russia appears to be gaining ground in this war, but Ukraine has a clear, genuine motive to win. And win it must. Remember Snake Island, captured by Russia, at the start of the war? It’s now back with Ukraine!

Courts Rule…and Rule: Supreme, in the US, and India

Late last week the Supreme Court of the United States (US), in a 5-4 ruling, struck down the ‘Roe versus Wade’ decision that federally protected a woman’s right to have an abortion. It leaves abortion rights to be determined at the State level. And several Republican Party-led states have already moved to enact statewide bans.

In 1973, in the landmark ‘Roe versus Wade’ case, the Supreme Court had ruled that unduly restrictive state of regulation of abortion is unconstitutional and that criminalising abortion, in most instances, violated a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, which it found to be implicit in the liberty guarantee of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

It was a stinging decision that left the US gasping for breath, obliterating a woman’s right to choose. Hard to imagine that a country known for its freedom can suddenly cage women’s rights and become so cruel.

US President Joe Biden wasn’t happy with the Supreme Court’s decision and vowed to find a way out. He inherited a Supreme Court, which benches were packed with conservative judges during the previous Presidency, the results of which are there for all to see.

A woman has a fundamental right to choose what is best for her body over religious diktats and interpretations. People are entitled to hold their own convictions on the issue, but they should not dictate or rob another from making their own decisions. This is a regressive decision moving woman’s rights backwards and kills the freedom enjoyed over near about half a century.

I sometimes wonder whether, like an active Gun Lobby in the US, could there be a slippery Condom Lobby too?

In another ruling, the US Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law, enacted more than a century ago that placed restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home. In a 6-3 majority it ruled that the Constitution protects the right to carry a gun outside the home. That’s a ‘Yes’ to guns. Now to some kind of a ‘No’…

However, this week in what seems a sincere attempt in controlling the reckless gun-fire, one of the most significant US gun control bills in nearly 30 years was signed into law by President Joe Biden. It imposes tougher background checks on buyers younger than 21 years and encourages states to remove guns from people considered a threat. The reforms include: better funding for mental health programs and school security upgrades. It also closes the so-called ‘boyfriend loophole’ by banning those convicted of domestic abuse from owning a gun – not just those who are married to their victims or live with them.

Keeping-up with the supreme, not to be left behind, India’s Supreme Court (SC) upheld and threw-out a ‘devoid of merit attempt’ to challenge the clean chit given by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to 64 people, including Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi – who was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat- in the 2002 Gujarat Godhra Riots. The Courts said that the plea to challenge was an attempt ‘to keep the pot boiling for ulterior design’ when there was no credible evidence to suggest that the then Chief Minister or his administration was involved.

The protest petition was filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of a Member of Parliament, Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the riots.

The SC held there was no reason to question the merits of the SIT, which was specifically set-up by the SC itself, and that her submissions were far-fetched and sought to undermine the integrity of the SIT. “On such false claims the structure of a larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level has been erected . The same stands collapsed like a house of cards following the thorough investigation by the SIT. Those involved in such abuse need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with the law” it said.

This comes as a huge relief to PM Modi who was accused and hounded by the media and the opposition for near about 16 years as being complicit or turning the other eye, or failing to do enough to prevent or bring the riots under control.

It all started on 27 February 2002 when 59 Hindu pilgrims returning from the Ram Janmabhoomi site in Ayodhya, by the Sabarmathi Express was attacked by a Muslim mob and their Coach, S-6 of the train, set ablaze at the Godhra Station, where it had stopped. All 59 passengers in the Coach including 27 women and 10 children were burnt to death.

In what is described as a spontaneous outbreak, violence broke-out out in Gujarat State, where hundreds of Muslims and Hindus were killed triggering one of the worst post-independence riots in India.

Returning to the verdict, the SC said the co-petitoner and activist Teesta Setalvad exploited the emotions of petitioner Zakia Jafri. And antecedents of Teesta Setalvad need to be reckoned with and also because she has been vindictively persecuting this dispute for ulterior motives.

That hint was enough, I reckon, as the Gujarat Place immediately swung into action and arrested Teesta Setalvad from her Mumbai home, to dig deeper into the case while the earth is pliant and soft. The charges were criminal conspiracy, forgery, and placing false evidence in court to frame innocent people.

Also arrested and ‘put in the dock’ were former State Director General of Police Sreekumar, and former IPS Office Sanjiv Bhatt -partners in perjury crime!

Following the stream of arresting action this week, Mohammad Zubair co-founder of fact checking website called Alt News was arrested. Earlier he had called out the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Leader and spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s remarks against the Prophet, only after he had deleted or edited portions- equally whiplashing against Hinduism, which trigged Nupur Sharma in the first place, and ended in her being sacked. A well-laid trap? And it’s minefield out there on religious provocation.

Mohammad Zubair is alleged to have routinely put tweets and posts, which were anti-Hindu, spawned Hindu-hatred, and mocked Hindu gods. He was arrested for blasphemy, a law he advocated until very recently. Most of these tweets were deleted once Nupur Sharma was shown the door by her party for hate-mongering.

Investigations are on to ascertain ‘the real’.

A Horrific Killing in India

This week, on a Tuesday afternoon, Kanhaiya Lal, a Hindu Tailor was working in his shop in the busy Dhan Mandi area of Udaipur in India’s Rajasthan State when two Muslim men walked-in, posing as customers. While Kanhaiya Lal was taking measurements on one of them, the other brandished a cleaver and tried to behead him, failing which he slit his throat, killing the Tailor (Police later said the head was not severed or beheaded). The other person took a video recording the incident on his phone and posted it on Social Media. In the video they were seen gloating over the murder and issued similar threats to India’s PM Narendra Modi, brandishing their cleavers. All of this was apparently over Kanhaiya Lal sharing a post in support of Nupur Sharma and thereby insulting Islam-they claimed, in their rant.

Previously, Kanhaiya Lal had been arrested by the Police, for the same post and let-out on bail with a warning. Since then, he had been receiving death threats, which he had reported to the Police. And appears to have been taken lightly by them.

After the killing, the Police, for once, were quick on their heels, identified and caught the killers, Gos Mohammad and Riyaz Akhtari, residents of Surajpole, Udaipur. They were trying to escape from the area when the Police locked onto them.

The macabre incident sparked outrage across the Country and India is treating it as a terror incident, and investigations are on a roll.

The Trial and punishment should be swift and effective so that it acts a deterrent to such uncivilised brutal acts in the name of religion: an unforgivable act of Islamist radicalisation and terrorism. I’m sure this does not represent the sane, mainstream Islam.

Late in the week, an Indian Supreme Court Order stood out as egregious when it appeared to blame Nupur Sharma for the killing. ‘Loose tongue…sets the country on fire…’ were some remarks made, which brought and outcry of disgust and calls for withdrawing the comments made. Noises of impeachment and reforming the judiciary could be heard.

Should not the Supreme set an example?

Clueless and Fuel Less in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is in talks with Lenders over a bailout deal to rejuvenate its economy and climb out of its worst economic crisis in decades: an economy crushed and hit hard by the pandemic, rising energy prices, populist tax cuts, among many other reasons.

Meanwhile, it continues to struggle, and this week, Sri Lanka suspended sales of fuel for non-essential vehicles. For the next two weeks, only buses, trains, and vehicles used for medical services and transporting food will be allowed to fuel-up. Schools in urban areas have shut and officials have told the country’s 22 million residents to work from home.

Gosh! Has this ‘work from home’ thing become a solution to every crisis?

Scorching Hot in Japan

While Sri Lanka battles it out with shortage of food, fuel and electricity, Japan is asking some 37 million people living in and around Tokyo to use less electricity and ration air-conditioning even amid a record heat wave that has seen temperatures in some parts of the country cross 40 degrees Celsius. The government urged citizens in the capital to turn off lights and power switches for three hours in the afternoon and to use air-conditioning ‘appropriately’; as the country struggles with growing electricity shortages.

Japan’s power supply has been tight since March, when an earthquake in the northeast forced some nuclear power plants to suspend operations. Demand is also at its highest since 2011, when Japan was hit by the strongest earthquake in its recorded history. The mismatch between supply and demand is becoming ‘severe’. But with recent temperatures soaring to dangerous levels, rationing electricity will not be easy.

This week Tokyo experienced scorching heat for a fourth successive day after setting records for the month of June at the weekend.

Temperatures in the capital soared over 35 degrees Celsius, while the city of Isesaki northwest of Tokyo hit 40.2 degrees Celsius – the country’s highest in June since record keeping began in 1875.

Dining Underground

This week Scientists discovered a carnivorous plant that grows prey-trapping contraptions underground, feeding of subterranean creatures such as worms, larvae, ants, mites, and beetles.

The newly found species of pitcher plant was unearthed in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo. Like other pitcher plants, ‘Nepenthes pudica’ has modified leaves, known as pitfall traps or pitchers, that its prey fall into before being eaten – dissolved. One species is so large it can trap rats.

This plant places its – about 11 cm – long pitchers underground, where they are formed in cavities or directly in the soil, and trap animals living underground. No other species of pitcher plant, known to science, catches its prey in such a place.

More hot and cold stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay cool and above ground with World Inthavaaram.


About: the world this week, 24 October to 30 October 2021, lighting-up a festival, two unfriendly countries face-off in sport, trying to butterfly a ‘meta’morphosis, and a Princess cherishes her love and marries to become a commoner.


Fabindia: A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

Fabindia is an Indian chain store retailing garments, fabrics, furnishings, and ethnic handmade products of traditional craftsmen in rural India. Established in 1960, Fabindia operates near about 327 stores across India and 14 international stores.

With the Hindu Festival Season of Diwali approaching, Fabindia wanted to try on some new costumes and sewed-up an advertisement to pay ‘homage to Indian culture’- it said so. Models showed them off and we watched. It named the collection ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz’ – an Urdu phrase that means ‘celebration of tradition’.

But the celebration generated outrage in culturally sensitive India, on giving an Urdu name, rather than a Hindi one, to the collection. Further, the female models in the advertisement were not wearing the traditional colourful bindi – a dot – that a Hindu woman normally wears on her forehead. Some even thought that Diwali was being stolen – lock, stock, and barrel. Sensing the mood and not wanting to further tear into the Hindu fabric, Fabindia quickly sewed-up and smoked out the advertisement.

Urdu is a language which has its origins in India and is recognised in the Constitution as one of the country’s official languages. Some of India’s most celebrated poems and love songs are written in Urdu. Yet in recent years its use has become increasingly politicised in the public domain, often decried as the ‘Muslim’ language of the rival, neighbouring Islamic country of Pakistan.

Many religious boundaries are invisible, and we need to wear special laser glasses to find them. Certain risks are not worth taking. Let them be!

Facebook: Let’s Book Another Name?

This week the spotlight is on social media giant, Facebook, which also owns Instagram – the photo and video sharing platform, and WhatsApp – the instant messaging and voice-over-Internet Protocol (well, simply talking) Application.

Facebook, has been in the news over the past year(s), and quite some time back too, all for the wrong reasons: violating user privacy, selling user data, and making tons of paper with those famous faces printed on them telling and promising you their worth. Most of us were confused on what exactly was happening.

Finally, the pages are turning in the book of Facebook and even the paper is being felt by hand, while the company itself is attempting a makeover by doing the name-change thing. What next, Heartlook, or Mindhook?

An ex-employee Product Manager of Facebook, Frances Haugen, turned into a whistle-blower and she’s blowing a lot of heat and dust, which is being carried by the wind to all parts of the world. And Facebook is scurrying to mask its face.

A clearer picture of how Facebook was vividly aware of its harmful effects came to light, both at Frances Haugen’s testimony in front of the British Parliament and through a series of reports based on internal documents that she leaked, called ‘The Facebook Papers.’ And a collection of news organisations published stories based on the thousands of these documents, after working through them.

The reading is that Facebook puts ‘growth over safety,’ particularly in developing areas of the world where the company does not have language or cultural expertise to regulate content without fostering division among users. Facebook has a ‘strategy’ of only slowing down harmful content when ‘the crisis has begun,’ deploying its ‘glass break measures’ instead of making the platform ‘safer as it happens.’ The ongoing ethnic violence in Ethiopia and Myanmar was mentioned as an example: the ‘opening chapters of a novel that is going to be horrific to read.’ – drink the juices to the bottom and then break the glass?

To summarise, here is what we learnt: Facebook fails to moderate harmful content in developing countries; it’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm fails to accurately detect dangerous content in non-English languages; Facebook labeled election misinformation as ‘harmful, non-violating’ content; Facebook was aware that maids were being sold on its platform in the case when Filipina maids complained of being abused and sold: internal documents show that Facebook admitted it was ‘under-enforcing on confirmed abusive activity’.

Facebook internally debated removing the Like button in 2019. It examined how people would interact with content if it no longer had a Like feature on Instagram, suggesting that the company was aware that this feature could have a negative impact on well-being. According to documents, the Like button had sometimes caused the platform’s youngest users ‘stress and anxiety’ if the posts didn’t get many likes from friends-but when hidden, users interacted less with posts and advertisements, and it failed to alleviate social anxiety as they thought it might. Facebook hasn’t made Instagram safer for children as the company knows ‘young users are the future of the platform and the earlier they get them, the more likely they’ll get them hooked.’

Wow, that’s a whole book coming up. Perhaps a name change might trick us into forgetting the face… and reading many more books of the past?

Facebook has perhaps hit the ‘Dislike Button’ on a certain kind of lawlessness in our social fabric, which we are unable to figure out, but given a face by Facebook. And it seems to be making the best of it – let’s face it – liking and thriving. One of my favourite Western Novels is Oliver Strange’s, ‘Sudden: The Marshall of Lawless’, where a former outlaw turned law-keeper – Sudden- brings to book a lawless Town called Lawless. Let’s call Sudden to Marshall Facebook?Jim Green wears ‘em two guns strung low on the thighs and fires at blazing speed from the hip.

Towards the end of this week, founder Mark Zuckerberg, found his voice, showed his face, lifted an alphabet from the Google book, and rebranded the holding company as ‘Meta’ – with a blue infinity symbol – meaning beyond. The mother hen is called Meta while the chicks under its wings, such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp…hold on to their original names.

Who remembers the mother anyway, with the chicks around? Google, we remember all the time, but Alphabet? Strange indeed are the winds of change. Reminds me of the often used Chinese way of explaining change, ’same same, but different’.

Japan: A Princess Loves, Marries, and Leaves.

Royal families all over the World sit upon rich thrones of wealthy traditions, which rather than make meaningful change, they keep alive, scrupulously following them for fear of losing their identity, ‘royalness’, and for reasons we may never really know. Guardians of ‘wealthy’ traditions?

In Japan, female members of the Imperial Family are not allowed to marry a commoner and if they choose to do so they forfeit their royal status and title, and become an ordinary citizen. Male royal members have household names and female royals only have titles. Further, Japanese law requires married couples to use only one surname, almost always the husband’s.

The current Emperor of Japan is Naruhito who has just one child – a daughter. The male-only succession tradition of the Japanese Royal Family leaves the Emperor’s younger brother, Prince Akishino – declared heir to the Throne and Crown Prince- and his son, Prince Hisahito, in line for Japan’s Royal Chrysanthemum Throne.

This week, Princess Mako, the first child and eldest daughter of Prince Akishino married a commoner, Kei Komuro, who she said had won over her heart with ‘his bright smiles like the sun’. She will now be simply know as Mako Komuro.

Mako skipped the usual rites associated with a royal wedding, and turned down a traditional payment of about USD 1.3 million given to a female member of the imperial family upon their departure from the household. It was another break from tradition, as Mako became the first woman to do so.

Mako and Komuro had met five years earlier when they were both university students, and shared their plans to get married, the following year.

The former princess initially followed royal tradition and attended the elite Gakushuin School, where members of the Japanese imperial family usually study. But she broke with custom by leaving and joining Tokyo’s International Christian University, where she studied art and cultural heritage, and spent a year at the University of Edinburgh. Later, she earned a master’s degree at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

The Newly-Weds are expected to move to the United States, where Komuro works as a lawyer. The move has drawn comparisons with British royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, earning the newlyweds the nickname ‘Japan’s Harry and Meghan’.

Before the couple got to this stage there were media reports of fishy money dealings in the Komuro family, but Mako stood by Komuro saying the reports were incorrect. There was another ‘tale’ added when Komuro return to Japan sporting a pony-tail and the media saying he was unfit to marry the princess. Whatever, the pony-tail got chopped off at the Wedding and they indeed made a handsome couple.

“Kei is irreplaceable for me,” gushed the Princess. “For us, marriage is a necessary choice to live while cherishing our hearts.”

Mako is expected to remain in Tokyo for some time preparing for the move, which includes applying for the first passport of her life.

I admire the princess for giving up her royal status for the love of her life: that makes her more royal than ever!

Sports: Clash of Religions

The International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Men’s T20 (a match of twenty overs each for the two sides) World Cup 2021, which is held every two years, is underway in the United Arab Emirates. It started on 17 October 2021 and is scheduled to end on 14 November 2021.

Six T20 World Cup tournaments have so far been played: the last Tournament was held in 2016 and there were delays on the start of the next Tournament, which was further amplified by the pandemic. And here we are at the seventh edition.

The inaugural T20 World Cup was staged in South Africa, and won by India – defeating Pakistan in the Finals. The current title holder is the West Indies who beat England in the 2016 Finals and claimed their second Title win. We have had five champions from the six tournaments: India, Pakistan, SriLanka, West Indies, and England.

This Sunday traditional arch rivals India and Pakistan played each other, in their opening game, and India lost, which generated all kinds of extreme reactions in many parts of the country, with religion being bowled – spin, googly, and fast – and smashed across the media, in addition to showing knee-support to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Many argued that other issues such as the Kashmir Pandits being targeted in killings in Kashmir should have taken a better knee. That’s a pot-boiler in one match!

I would always support my National Team as they represent us in the sporting arena. And find it disgustful that some in India supported and celebrated the Pakistan win – standing on the podium of religion. Religion should have no place in sport. The way I look at it, do admire the talent of a player of another country and enjoy his performance, but when the National Team plays we should alway be behind them, cheering them on to beat the best talent of the opposition. In the process we grow and become better – on the playing ground and maybe off it too!

More uncommon princess stories coming up in the weeks ahead and about breaking and keeping traditions. Grow with World Inthavaaram.

Happy Diwali – be the light that you want to be!