Global Nuclear Landscape in 2023: Modernization Efforts, Strategic Shifts, and Diplomatic Challenges Among Nuclear-Armed States

In 2023, the global nuclear landscape was marked by significant advancements among the nine nuclear-armed states: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel.

According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), these countries persisted in modernizing their nuclear capabilities, with several introducing new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapon systems.

The Nuclear-Armed States

United States

As of January 2024, the United States maintained a substantial nuclear arsenal of 5,044 warheads, primarily deployed on ballistic missiles and aircraft. The U.S. continues to enhance its nuclear arsenal, focusing on the reliability and capabilities of its land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and strategic bombers.

Russia

Russia, alongside the United States, holds the majority of the world’s nuclear weapons. Despite some fluctuations, Russia’s military stockpile has remained relatively stable at 5,580 warheads. In 2023, Russia deployed an additional 36 warheads, underscoring its commitment to nuclear deterrence.

United Kingdom

In 2023, the United Kingdom announced plans to increase its warhead stockpile limit from 225 to 260, although no actual expansion occurred that year. This policy shift highlights the UK’s dedication to maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent. Additionally, the UK ceased public disclosure of specific nuclear quantities.

France

France continues to advance its nuclear capabilities, focusing on developing a third-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) and a new air-launched cruise missile.

China

China’s nuclear arsenal experienced the most rapid growth among the nuclear-armed states, rising from 410 warheads in January 2023 to 500 in January 2024. This expansion aligns with China’s strategy to bolster its nuclear deterrent. For the first time, China is believed to have placed some warheads on high operational alert. Projections indicate that China could have as many ICBMs as the United States or Russia by the end of the decade, though its overall stockpile will remain smaller.

India

India slightly expanded its nuclear arsenal, emphasizing the development of new delivery systems. While Pakistan remains the primary target of India’s nuclear deterrent, there is increasing focus on longer-range weapons capable of reaching China. As of January 2024, India was estimated to have 172 stored nuclear warheads. The SIPRI report also highlighted that India was the world’s top arms importer, with a 4.7% increase between 2014-18 and 2019-23.

Pakistan

Pakistan, with an estimated 170 stored warheads, continues to develop its nuclear delivery systems. The ongoing rivalry with India drives Pakistan’s nuclear strategy, with both nations pursuing capabilities to deploy multiple warheads on ballistic missiles. Pakistan’s nuclear posture remains a central element of its national security strategy.

North Korea

By January 2024, North Korea had assembled approximately 50 warheads and possessed sufficient fissile material for up to 90. North Korea’s nuclear ambitions continue to destabilize regional security dynamics, particularly in its tense relations with South Korea.

Israel

Although Israel does not officially acknowledge its nuclear arsenal, it is believed to be modernizing its capabilities. Upgrades to its plutonium production reactor at Dimona suggest ongoing efforts to enhance its nuclear deterrent.

The China-India-Pakistan Equation

The interactions between China, India, and Pakistan are pivotal for regional and global security. According to an ORF report, India was the first country to propose a nuclear test ban treaty and a halt to the production of materials for nuclear weapons, having signed and ratified the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, which prohibited nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater.

However, the discriminatory politics surrounding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) posed challenges. Despite conducting nuclear tests in 1998, India maintained its commitment to the No-First-Use (NFU) policy, reiterating this stance in its 1999 draft nuclear doctrine and again in 2003.

In 1994, India offered Pakistan an agreement on the no-first-use of nuclear weapons, but regional and historical tensions prevented any agreement from being reached.

Moving towards the east, India and China, both nuclear-armed, have had unstable relations due to longstanding border disputes since the 1950s. While trade between these nations suggests potential mutual benefits, unresolved border issues have hindered bilateral relations.

NATO and Nuclear Sharing

NATO’s nuclear-sharing arrangements involve the deployment of US B-61 nuclear bombs in Europe, which remain under US custody and control. In the event of a conflict, these weapons would be delivered by dual-capable aircraft (DCA) from NATO member states, subject to political approval from the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) and authorization from the US President and UK Prime Minister.

NATO’s nuclear sharing ensures that the benefits, responsibilities, and risks of nuclear deterrence are distributed across the alliance.

Nuclear Diplomacy

The United Nations plays a key role in promoting nuclear disarmament. The suspension of the New START treaty—a nuclear arms reduction agreement between Russia and the US—by Russia, along with ongoing challenges in arms control, highlight the fragile state of nuclear diplomacy. Despite these setbacks, efforts continue within the UN framework to address nuclear threats and promote disarmament.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), though not yet in force, remains a key instrument in the UN’s efforts to curb nuclear proliferation. Despite Russia’s withdrawal from the treaty’s ratification, it continues to participate in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

“The United States and Russia have fundamentally divergent views on when arms control should be pursued and what purpose arms control should serve in the current strategic environment,” according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “While the United States’ position remains that cooperation to manage the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals is in the best interests of the international order, Moscow believes current U.S. efforts to reinstate arms control are part of a wider effort to take advantage of Russia as it is bogged down in Ukraine.”

The deteriorating global security environment, exacerbated particularly by conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, continues to pose significant challenges to nuclear diplomacy.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan Visits India to Strengthen Strategic Tech Partnership and Enhance Indo-Pacific Security

As the world’s two oldest and largest democracies, the United States and India share a unique friendship, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s recent visit aims to strengthen this partnership, creating a safer and more prosperous Indo-Pacific, according to the White House.

Sullivan visited New Delhi from June 17 to 18, marking the first trip to India by a senior official from the Biden administration since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government secured its third term. During his visit, Sullivan met with Prime Minister Modi and his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, on Monday.

John Kirby, White House National Security Communications Advisor, highlighted the significance of the visit during his daily news conference on Monday. “As the world’s two oldest and largest democracies, the United States and India share a unique bond of friendship, and Mr. Sullivan’s trip will further deepen the already strong US-India partnership to create a safer and more prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Kirby stated.

In New Delhi, Sullivan will co-chair the US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET), a landmark partnership aimed at expanding strategic cooperation across key technology sectors. These sectors include space, semiconductors, advanced telecommunications, artificial intelligence, quantum technology, biotechnology, and clean energy.

Kirby refrained from commenting on the case of Indian national Nikhil Gupta, who has been accused of being involved in a murder-for-hire plot against Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil. Gupta has been extradited to the US from the Czech Republic. “I don’t have more to add on the conversations that Jake’s having. He’s still over there having these conversations. But the main focus of his visit, as I said, was to look for ways to deepen the US-India bilateral relationship, particularly when it comes to emerging technology,” Kirby remarked.

Gupta appeared before a federal court in New York on Monday, where he pleaded not guilty. India has publicly stated that a high-level inquiry is examining the evidence shared by the US regarding the alleged plot to kill Pannun.

Sullivan’s visit underscores the importance of US-India relations, especially in the context of technological advancements and strategic cooperation. The iCET initiative represents a significant step in this direction, aiming to bolster collaboration in critical and emerging technologies that are pivotal for both nations’ security and prosperity.

The partnership between the US and India is built on shared democratic values and a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Sullivan’s visit is expected to enhance this partnership, fostering greater cooperation in areas that are crucial for global security and economic growth.

The discussions during Sullivan’s visit are likely to cover a wide range of topics, including defense cooperation, trade relations, and regional security issues. Both countries are keen to address common challenges and leverage their strengths to promote stability and development in the Indo-Pacific region.

The US-India relationship has seen significant growth in recent years, with increased collaboration in various fields, including defense, trade, and technology. Sullivan’s visit is seen as a continuation of this positive trend, aiming to further strengthen the ties between the two nations.

In addition to his meetings with Modi and Doval, Sullivan is expected to engage with other Indian officials and business leaders to discuss opportunities for collaboration and investment. The focus will be on identifying areas where the US and India can work together to achieve mutual benefits and address global challenges.

The iCET initiative is a prime example of the strategic cooperation between the US and India, highlighting the importance of technological innovation in driving economic growth and enhancing national security. By working together on critical technologies, both countries can ensure their continued leadership in these fields and contribute to global progress.

Sullivan’s visit also reflects the Biden administration’s commitment to strengthening alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region. The US sees India as a key partner in its efforts to maintain a balance of power and promote stability in the region. The visit aims to reinforce this partnership and explore new avenues for cooperation.

Overall, Sullivan’s visit to India is a significant milestone in the US-India relationship, emphasizing the importance of strategic cooperation in critical and emerging technologies. It is expected to pave the way for deeper collaboration and stronger ties between the two democracies, contributing to a safer and more prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

The discussions and outcomes of Sullivan’s visit will likely shape the future trajectory of US-India relations, with both countries poised to benefit from enhanced cooperation and shared goals. The focus on emerging technologies and strategic sectors underscores the forward-looking nature of the partnership, aimed at addressing contemporary challenges and harnessing new opportunities.

Sullivan’s visit to India marks an important step in the ongoing efforts to deepen the US-India partnership. With a focus on critical and emerging technologies, the visit is expected to yield positive outcomes for both nations, fostering greater cooperation and contributing to regional and global stability. The strong bond of friendship between the US and India continues to serve as a foundation for this partnership, driving progress and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

U.S. Surgeon General Calls for Social Media Warning Labels to Combat Youth Mental Health Crisis

In an op-ed for The New York Times, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy urged Congress to implement warning labels on social media platforms, akin to those found on tobacco and alcohol products. Murthy highlighted the adverse impact of social media on the mental health of young people, proposing that these warnings should inform users about the potential mental health risks associated with websites and apps.

Murthy’s call to action emphasizes the need for greater awareness of how social media can harm mental well-being, especially among the youth. He suggests that these warning labels would serve as a crucial alert for users, helping them understand the possible negative effects on their mental health.

For further insight and analysis, George Washington University (GWU) offers access to several experts. To arrange interviews, contact Katelyn Deckelbaum at [email protected].

One available expert is Lorenzo Norris, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the chief wellness officer at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Norris brings a wealth of knowledge in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, making him a valuable resource for understanding the mental health implications of social media use.

Another expert, Amir Afkhami, holds a joint appointment at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Milken Institute School of Public Health. Afkhami specializes in psychiatry, with his current work focusing on psychiatric services and education, behavioral health policy, and the mental health effects of conflict. His expertise provides a comprehensive perspective on the broader mental health challenges exacerbated by social media.

Lorien Abroms, a professor of prevention and community health at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, has conducted extensive research on how social media and digital communication technologies can be leveraged for health promotion. She is also knowledgeable about the potential negative impacts these technologies can have on teenagers and young adults. Abroms’ insights are particularly relevant in discussing the dual-edged nature of social media in both promoting health and contributing to mental health issues.

Tony Roberson, an associate professor of nursing at the GW School of Nursing, is another key expert. Specializing in mental health, he focuses on anxiety, depression, and childhood development. Roberson’s expertise can shed light on how social media influences mental health from a developmental and psychological standpoint, particularly in younger populations.

Vikram Bhargava, an assistant professor of strategic management and public policy, is an expert on technology addiction. His research delves into the unique ethical and policy issues arising from technology use within organizations. Bhargava authored a significant research article in Business Ethics Quarterly, titled “Ethics of the Attention Economy: The Problem of Social Media Addiction.” In this article, he argues that scholars, policymakers, and social media company managers need to address social media addiction as a serious moral issue. Bhargava contextualizes social media addiction by comparing it to other addictive products like cigarettes or alcohol, highlighting the ethical and policy challenges it presents.

Murthy’s op-ed not only raises awareness about the mental health dangers of social media but also calls for concrete measures to mitigate these risks. By implementing warning labels, similar to those on harmful substances like tobacco and alcohol, Murthy believes that users will be better informed about the potential harms. This proposal underscores the importance of addressing the mental health crisis exacerbated by social media, particularly among young people who are most vulnerable to its effects.

The involvement of experts from George Washington University further enriches the conversation with diverse perspectives and deep expertise. Lorenzo Norris’s background in psychiatry and wellness, Amir Afkhami’s focus on behavioral health policy and conflict-related mental health issues, Lorien Abroms’ research on digital communication and health promotion, Tony Roberson’s specialization in mental health and childhood development, and Vikram Bhargava’s analysis of technology addiction all contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the issue.

Murthy’s initiative to introduce social media warning labels is a proactive step toward safeguarding mental health. The parallels drawn between social media and addictive substances like tobacco and alcohol are crucial in framing the discussion. By recognizing social media addiction as a serious concern, similar to other forms of addiction, policymakers can take more informed and effective actions.

The experts from GWU provide valuable insights that can inform the development and implementation of these warning labels. Their research and analysis offer a multi-faceted view of how social media impacts mental health and what measures can be taken to mitigate these effects. The collaboration between medical professionals, public health experts, and policy specialists is essential in addressing the complex challenges posed by social media.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s call for social media warning labels is a significant proposal aimed at addressing the mental health crisis among young people. By drawing parallels with tobacco and alcohol warning labels, Murthy emphasizes the seriousness of the issue. The expertise available at George Washington University further enriches the conversation, providing a comprehensive view of the mental health impacts of social media and potential solutions. This initiative represents a critical step toward raising awareness and implementing measures to protect the mental well-being of social media users.

FTC Sues Adobe for Allegedly Trapping Users in Costly Subscriptions with Hidden Fees and Cancellation Hurdles

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against Adobe, accusing the company of deliberately making it difficult for customers to cancel subscriptions to its products, such as Photoshop. The FTC alleges that Adobe “trapped users” in costly contracts by obscuring important details and creating barriers to cancellation.

The complaint highlights that Adobe guided customers towards its “annual paid monthly” subscription option without clearly disclosing the potential cancellation fees, which could amount to hundreds of dollars. Samuel Levine, FTC Consumer Protection Director, stated, “Adobe trapped customers into year-long subscriptions through hidden early termination fees and numerous cancellation hurdles. Americans are tired of companies hiding the ball during subscription signup and then putting up roadblocks when they try to cancel.”

Two top executives from Adobe, Vice President Maninder Sawhney and Senior Vice President David Wadhwani, are also named in the suit. The FTC claims that Adobe misled customers by concealing the early termination fee, subsequently using it as leverage to pressure customers into maintaining their subscriptions when they tried to cancel.

Furthermore, the FTC’s lawsuit mentions significant delays and difficulties customers encountered when attempting to cancel their subscriptions. Issues included dropped calls, interrupted chats, and being transferred multiple times. The agency also reported that some consumers continued to be billed for the service even after believing they had canceled their subscriptions.

In response to the lawsuit, Adobe defended its business practices. Dana Rao, Adobe’s general counsel, stated, “Subscription services are convenient, flexible and cost-effective, allowing users to choose the plan that best fits their needs, timeline, and budget. Our priority is to always ensure our customers have a positive experience. We are transparent with the terms and conditions of our subscription agreements and have a simple cancellation process.”

At the heart of the dispute is Adobe Creative Cloud, which offers access to all of Adobe’s creative products, including the widely-used Photoshop. Adobe shifted to a subscription-only model in 2012, moving away from the previous one-time purchase fee structure. A subscription to Creative Cloud costs approximately $90 per month on a monthly plan, $60 per month on the “annual, paid monthly” plan, which is the focal point of the lawsuit, and around $55 per month if paid annually upfront, according to Adobe’s website.

The FTC’s lawsuit against Adobe brings to light the challenges customers face with subscription services, particularly when companies employ tactics to retain subscribers against their will. The FTC is taking a firm stance against such practices, seeking to hold Adobe accountable for what it describes as deceptive and obstructive conduct.

The crux of the FTC’s argument is that Adobe’s practices are not just inconvenient but also financially punitive for consumers. By hiding the early termination fee and making the cancellation process difficult, Adobe has allegedly taken advantage of customers who might otherwise have chosen different subscription plans or opted out entirely.

The inclusion of high-ranking executives like Sawhney and Wadhwani in the lawsuit underscores the FTC’s assertion that these practices were not isolated incidents or oversights but rather a systematic approach embedded within the company’s operations.

Adobe’s defense hinges on the claim that their subscription model offers benefits such as convenience, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. They argue that they provide clear information about the terms and conditions and that their cancellation process is straightforward. However, the FTC’s allegations, backed by consumer complaints, suggest that the reality experienced by many customers is far from this ideal.

This lawsuit could have broader implications for how companies structure their subscription models and handle cancellations. As more businesses adopt subscription-based revenue models, transparency and ease of cancellation are likely to become increasingly important issues both for consumers and regulators.

The FTC’s focus on Adobe’s practices is part of a larger effort to crack down on what it views as unfair business practices in the subscription economy. This legal action sends a strong message to other companies that they must prioritize customer transparency and fairness or risk regulatory intervention.

For Adobe, the outcome of this lawsuit could affect its reputation and customer trust. If the FTC’s allegations are upheld, Adobe might need to overhaul its subscription processes and provide clearer disclosures about potential fees and cancellation procedures. This case underscores the importance of balancing business interests with consumer rights and the potential repercussions when that balance is disrupted.

The FTC’s lawsuit against Adobe raises critical issues about consumer protection in the context of subscription services. The case highlights the need for companies to ensure transparency and fairness in their subscription practices, particularly regarding cancellation policies. As this legal battle unfolds, it will be closely watched by both consumers and industry players, potentially setting precedents for future regulatory actions and business practices.

New York United Church of Christ Condemns Religious Violence in India, Urges Sanctions and Global Solidarity

At its meeting on June 1, 2024, in Binghampton, NY, the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCCNY) unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the violence against religious minorities in India, including Christians and Muslims. This marks the first such resolution by any UCC denomination, coming soon after a similar resolution by the United Methodist General Conference in April 2024.

The resolution begins by highlighting the dire situation in Manipur, where over 40,000 people have been displaced, 250 churches and 1,700 homes destroyed, and 120 people killed due to Hindu nationalist policies endorsed by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams, Conference Minister and Ecumenical Officer, emphasized the importance of addressing the root causes of this suffering, stating, “We want to publicly care for Christians and not only Christians, but other religious minorities who are suffering, and look at the root causes of that suffering in the Indian subcontinent. That should matter to every congregation in New York and around the nation.”

In a show of solidarity, the UCCNY resolved to support organizations like the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA), Religions for Peace USA, Ecumenical Partners in Outreach, and the United Methodist General Conference. Williams further explained, “This is a call to draw the circle wide. It is our business to care about what happens around the globe and not just close to home. We need to take God out of the box. God is doing far more than what we’re imagining.”

The resolution specifically distinguishes between mainstream Hinduism and Hindutva, the latter being a form of Hindu nationalism which it addresses. It calls for India to be designated as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) due to its systematic, ongoing, and severe violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Additionally, it condemns the continuous violations of religious freedoms and advocates for the human rights of all religious communities in India.

Further actions outlined in the resolution include urging U.S. representatives and the Biden administration to impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom, including freezing their assets. The resolution also encourages UCCNY church members to contact their Congressional representatives to bring these violations to the attention of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Department of State, and the wider society.

Rev. Martha Koenig Stone, speaking on behalf of the UCC’s Commission On Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, emphasized the necessity of international pressure to effect policy changes that harm vulnerable populations in India. She stated, “It is time to apply international pressure to demand a change in policies that demonize and target vulnerable people in India because we are in relationship with them. Just as we cannot stand for continued violence against Palestinians and reject any form of violence against Jews and Muslims, we must speak alongside others who are speaking for those who are oppressed. That conviction to address unjust policies is at the heart of our Christian faith because we care for the whole planet.”

Rev. Neal Christie, Executive Director of FIACONA, praised the UCC for its stance. “The UCC has taken a courageous step in raising awareness about the harm done by Hindu nationalist ideologies and policies in the U.S. and in India. The UCC has said that religion should not be weaponized. We stand with them in holding members of the U.S. Congress and the Biden Administration accountable for their role in allowing systemic harm to people simply because of the God they worship and the communities they belong to,” Christie said.

Rev. Prabhu Sigamani of the Farmingville UCC and director for the NY Conference, commented on the broader implications of the resolution. “The prosperity of a nation is determined by the well-being of all people, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, gender, and socio-economic status,” Sigamani stated. He added, “A nation can pride itself when its weakest community members are safe and secure, thereby experiencing liberty to the fullest extent without the fear of persecution. The fundamentals of all religions teach us love and forgiveness. Now can be the time for healing. I am urging the leaders to take action to stop the violence. As our prayers are ascending for your safety and peace, we believe that the blessings of Jesus Christ will descend so that there is peace and harmony.”

This resolution from the UCCNY highlights the critical need for global attention to religious freedom violations and the necessity of concerted international efforts to support oppressed religious minorities in India. Through its solidarity with various organizations and its call for political action, the UCCNY aims to foster a more just and peaceful world, reflecting the core values of their faith.

Modi’s Meeting with Pope Francis Sparks Hope and Controversy in India: Calls for Official Papal Invitation Amidst Religious Tensions

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, newly re-elected for a third consecutive term, shared through his official channels that he had met Pope Francis on the sidelines of the G7 Summit. Modi expressed his admiration for the Pope’s dedication to serving people and improving the world. Modi also extended an invitation to the Pope to visit India. This renewed meeting, following their initial encounter at the Vatican in 2021, has been widely covered by Indian media, resonating strongly with public opinion in India.

Indian news outlets extensively reported on Pope Francis’ speech at the G7 Summit, where he urged democratic and developed nations to prioritize human dignity in the development and application of artificial intelligence. This issue is particularly relevant for India as it navigates the challenges of technological advancement.

The renewed meeting between Pope Francis and Modi elicited mixed reactions. India’s Catholic community expressed optimism, hoping that the encounter would increase the likelihood of a papal visit to India and positively impact relations between India and the Holy See.

Conversely, some Hindu politicians from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Modi’s party, were displeased with the meeting, criticizing Modi for shaking hands and even embracing the head of the Catholic Church. Eleven Indian states, predominantly governed by the BJP, have implemented “anti-conversion laws.” These laws require judicial scrutiny for religious conversions and restrict freedom of conscience, primarily targeting Christian proselytism activities.

Opposition politicians also questioned Modi’s sincerity in meeting the Pope, pointing out his recent use of religious rhetoric to appeal to voters by portraying himself as a “messenger of God.” They expressed skepticism about Modi’s genuine intentions.

Father Cedric Prakash, an Indian Jesuit, commented on the situation, urging people to look beyond appearances and assess Modi’s actions. “We must understand and prove with facts that this is not the embrace of a hypocrite. Modi and his party have made the Muslim-Christian minorities in India suffer during these years of government. It must be proven with concrete political actions that the government respects the Constitution and the principles of citizenship for citizens of all religious beliefs,” said Prakash.

Father Prakash further emphasized the importance of a formal invitation to the Pope. He noted that while Modi’s verbal invitation is appreciated, it must be transformed into an official invitation from the Indian government to the Holy See. He recalled that an official invitation was expected in 2021 but was not formalized. Prakash highlighted the potential benefits of a papal visit, stating, “If the Pope comes to India, he will surely be able to highlight the plight of the poor, the weakest and suffering, the fishermen and farmers, the indigenous peoples: his presence among us would be a blessing. We therefore urge Prime Minister Modi to take concrete and real steps now to invite Pope Francis.”

Modi’s recent meeting with Pope Francis has sparked significant discussion and debate in India. The Pope’s message at the G7 Summit, emphasizing the importance of human dignity in the realm of artificial intelligence, has been well-received in Indian media. The Pope’s advocacy for ethical considerations in technological development aligns with global concerns, including those in India, about the implications of artificial intelligence on society.

The encounter has generated hope within India’s Catholic community, who view it as a step towards strengthening ties between India and the Vatican. They are hopeful that a papal visit could become a reality, enhancing the relationship and fostering a spirit of inclusivity and respect for all religious communities in India.

However, the meeting has also highlighted the ongoing tensions within India’s political landscape. The criticism from some BJP politicians reflects the broader issues surrounding religious freedom and the treatment of minority communities in India. The “anti-conversion laws” in several BJP-governed states are a point of contention, seen by many as measures that infringe on religious freedom and target Christian communities.

The skepticism from opposition politicians regarding Modi’s intentions underscores the complexities of Indian politics, where religion and political strategy often intersect. Modi’s portrayal of himself as a religious figure during elections raises questions about the authenticity of his outreach to religious leaders like Pope Francis.

Father Cedric Prakash’s call for concrete actions and a formal invitation to the Pope underscores the need for genuine efforts to improve interfaith relations and uphold constitutional values. His emphasis on the potential positive impact of a papal visit highlights the broader significance of such an event for India’s diverse population.

The meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis has brought to the forefront various issues related to religious freedom, political strategy, and interfaith relations in India. While it has generated hope within the Catholic community, it has also exposed the underlying tensions and skepticism within the broader political and religious landscape. The call for a formal invitation to the Pope and concrete actions to support minority communities reflects the ongoing challenges and opportunities for fostering a more inclusive and respectful society in India.

Surgeon General Calls for Warning Labels on Social Media to Protect Adolescent Mental Health

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is advocating for a mandatory warning label on social media platforms to alert users about the potential mental health risks for adolescents. In an opinion piece for The New York Times, Murthy emphasized the necessity of a surgeon general’s warning label, akin to those found on tobacco and alcohol products. He pointed out that research indicates such labels on tobacco products have effectively raised awareness and influenced user behavior.

“It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents,” Murthy wrote.

He further clarified that congressional action would be needed to implement this requirement, which would serve as a constant reminder to both parents and adolescents that the safety of social media has not been confirmed.

“A surgeon general’s warning label, which requires congressional action, would regularly remind parents and adolescents that social media has not been proved safe,” he added.

Murthy acknowledged that a warning label alone is insufficient to make social media platforms safer for young people. He referred to an advisory he issued last year, which highlighted the role of social media in the youth mental health crisis. In that advisory, he urged policymakers, platforms, and the public to follow his recommendations to improve the safety of social media for adolescents.

Murthy called for legislative action from Congress to protect young people from online harassment, abuse, and exploitation, as well as from exposure to extreme violence and sexual content. He also stressed the importance of social media companies sharing their data with the public and permitting independent safety audits.

Moreover, Murthy advised schools and parents to establish phone-free environments, particularly during meals, before bedtime, and at social events. He suggested that parents should delay allowing their children to use social media until they have completed middle school and encouraged them to collaborate with other families to create common rules.

“These harms are not a failure of willpower and parenting; they are the consequence of unleashing powerful technology without adequate safety measures, transparency or accountability,” he wrote.

Murthy’s call for action highlights the growing concern over the impact of social media on young people’s mental health. He believes that by implementing these measures, society can better protect adolescents from the negative effects of social media.

Rep. Ro Khanna Calls for New Generation of Leaders After Biden’s Reelection, Urges Bold Middle East Peace Efforts

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) has expressed his eagerness for a “new generation” of leadership following President Biden’s anticipated reelection. During an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Khanna was asked by Peter Alexander about his potential future presidential aspirations, given his active participation in Biden’s campaign. While Khanna did not confirm any plans to run for president, he emphasized the need for new leaders to emerge after Biden’s second term.

“I am so focused, as is everyone, in trying to get President Biden elected. But I will say this: This country is hungry after that for a new generation. And we’ve got tremendous talent in our party, and there are young people on the other side as well,” Khanna stated.

Khanna further mentioned his anticipation for a new wave of leadership post-Biden’s reelection. “I’m looking forward after President Biden is reelected to a new generation leading this country,” he added.

Earlier in the interview, Khanna acknowledged the difficulty of regaining young voters’ support for Biden, especially in light of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

“Well, the biggest thing we’re running out of time is more people dying. And we have to remember the humanitarian stakes. But, yes, it’s a challenge for our party. Young people want a war to end. But what young people want is a vision, and the president started that with the cease-fire,” he commented.

Khanna suggested that President Biden should adopt a more proactive stance in his second term, advocating for a two-state solution and a peace conference in the Middle East. “I hope he can go further, and he should call for two states. He should say in his second term he’s going to convene a peace conference in the Middle East, recognize a Palestinian state without Hamas, work with Egypt, Saudi Arabia on it,” Khanna proposed.

Babar Azam Surpasses MS Dhoni to Become Leading T20 World Cup Captain in Runs

Under-fire Pakistan skipper Babar Azam on Sunday achieved a remarkable milestone by surpassing legendary MS Dhoni in the list of most run-getters as a captain in T20 World Cup history. This achievement came during their match against Ireland in Lauderhill, United States.

Despite facing criticism, Babar’s fighting unbeaten knock helped Pakistan secure a narrow three-wicket win in a low-scoring thriller. Chasing a modest target of 107, Pakistan found themselves in trouble at 62 for six in 11 overs. However, skipper Babar (32 not out) and Abbas Afridi (17) managed to share a crucial 33-run partnership, steering their team to victory at 111 for seven in 18.5 overs.

Pakistan, already out of the Super 8 contention, concluded their T20 World Cup campaign with a third-place finish in Group A. Arch-rivals India and co-hosts USA advanced to the next round, securing the first and second positions respectively.

Captains like Babar Azam have shown exceptional skill and composure under pressure, leaving their mark on the tournament with significant run tallies.

Babar leads this esteemed list with 549 runs in just 17 innings. Known for his elegant stroke play and impeccable timing, Babar has consistently anchored his team’s innings, providing both stability and a reliable scoring option. His calm demeanor in high-pressure situations has been instrumental in his success, making him a standout performer in T20 World Cups.

Dhoni, with 529 runs in 29 innings, is second on the list. Renowned for his finishing prowess and strategic acumen, Dhoni’s contributions with the bat were crucial in many tight contests. His calm and calculated approach in the death overs made him one of the most feared finishers in the game, ensuring India’s competitive edge in numerous tournaments.

Most runs as captain in T20 World Cups:

– 549 – Babar Azam (17 inns)*

– 529 – MS Dhoni (29 inns)

– 527 – Kane Williamson (19 inns)

– 360 – M Jayawardene (11 inns)

– 352 – Graeme Smith (16 inns)

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, with 527 runs in 19 innings, holds the third spot and exemplifies consistency and grace under pressure. His tactical brilliance and ability to adapt to different match situations have been key to New Zealand’s success. Williamson’s composed and technically sound batting style has made him a reliable leader and a vital run-scorer for his team.

Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene, accumulating 360 runs in just 11 innings, showcased his class and elegance, earning the fourth spot. Despite playing fewer matches, his impact was profound, often leading from the front and guiding his team through challenging phases with his experience and skill.

South Africa’s Graeme Smith, with 352 runs in 16 innings, rounds off this elite group. Smith’s aggressive and fearless approach set the tone for his team, providing quick starts and building solid foundations for South Africa’s innings.

Key Powers Snub Joint Communique at Swiss Summit Aimed at Ending Ukraine War

A two-day summit in Switzerland focused on finding a resolution to the Ukraine war concluded with key nations refusing to endorse a joint communique accepted by over 80 countries and international organizations.

India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates, all of which maintain significant trade relations with Russia as part of the BRICS economic group, participated in the weekend summit but declined to sign the joint statement.

The communique reaffirmed the signatories’ commitment to “refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, the principles of sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all states, including Ukraine, within their internationally recognized borders.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky emphasized at a press conference alongside leaders from the European Union, Ghana, Canada, Chile, and Switzerland that it was “important that all participants of this summit support Ukraine’s territorial integrity because there will be no lasting peace without territorial integrity.”

More than 100 countries and organizations assembled at a picturesque lakeside resort near Lucerne to rally support for the 10-point peace plan Zelensky introduced in late 2022.

The plan includes calls for a cessation of hostilities, the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian soil, and the reestablishment of Ukraine’s pre-war borders with Russia—terms that Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to ever accept.

Notable dignitaries in attendance included leaders from Argentina, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

US Vice President Kamala Harris attended the summit and announced a $1.5 billion aid package intended for humanitarian efforts and to help Kyiv rebuild its damaged infrastructure.

“This high-level attendance shows one thing: the world cares deeply about the war provoked by Russia’s aggression,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

Despite the strong presence of Western democracies, there were questions prior to the event regarding the potential outcomes, especially since neither Russia nor China, which has bolstered the Kremlin’s resistance to Western sanctions through close trade relations, were present.

The communique issued on Sunday indicated that signatories had reached several other agreements. These included allowing Ukraine to operate its nuclear power plants, including the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and ensuring the Kremlin refrains from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. Additionally, the sides agreed that all children and civilians unlawfully displaced must be returned to Ukraine.

On Friday, the day before the summit commenced, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated the Kremlin’s peace plan, which calls for Ukrainian troops to withdraw from four southern and eastern regions that Moscow claims to have annexed in violation of international law, and for Kyiv to abandon its NATO membership ambitions.

While Russian forces have made modest advances in two of these regions—Donetsk and Luhansk—in recent months, they do not fully occupy all four, which also include Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, who accompanied Harris to Switzerland, criticized Putin’s framework, stating it “defies basic morality.”

“He (Putin) said, not only does Ukraine have to give up the territory Russia currently occupies, but Ukraine has to leave additional sovereign Ukrainian territory before Russia will negotiate. And Ukraine must disarm so that it is vulnerable to future Russian aggression down the road. No responsible nation could say that is a reasonable basis for peace,” Sullivan said.

PM Modi Concludes G7 Summit Visit in Italy, Emphasizes Tech Inclusivity and Holds Key Bilaterals

Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his one-day visit to Italy on Friday, where he participated in the G7 summit and held bilateral discussions with several global leaders, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Pope Francis.

In his address at the Outreach session of the G7 summit, held in Italy’s Apulia region, PM Modi emphasized the need to dismantle monopolies in technology, advocating for its innovative use to build an inclusive society. He stated, “Had a very productive day at the G7 Summit in Apulia. Interacted with world leaders and discussed various subjects. Together, we aim to create impactful solutions that benefit the global community and create a better world for future generations.”

PM Modi specifically addressed the importance of eliminating monopolies in technology, with a strong focus on artificial intelligence. He highlighted India’s proactive stance, noting that it is one of the first countries to develop a national strategy on artificial intelligence.

On the sidelines of the summit, PM Modi engaged in meetings with several world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni, Pope Francis, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Notably, PM Modi’s meeting with President Macron marked his first official bilateral discussion with an international leader since he commenced his third term as Prime Minister earlier this month.

Apart from India, Italy extended invitations to leaders from 11 developing countries across Africa, South America, and the Indo-Pacific region to participate in the G7 Summit.

Elon Musk and Indian Politicians Ignite Global Debate on Electronic Voting Machine Security

Tesla CEO Elon Musk and former Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar have sparked a debate on X (formerly Twitter) regarding the potential switch from electronic voting machines (EVMs) to paper voting due to concerns about hacking and manipulation. This discussion later attracted support from Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, who shared Musk’s apprehensions about EVMs.

Musk initiated the debate by questioning the reliability of EVMs, citing media reports of voting irregularities in Puerto Rico’s elections involving hundreds of EVMs. He noted, “Luckily, there was a paper trail so the problem was identified and vote tallies corrected,” as highlighted by independent US presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy Jr.

Chandrasekhar, who led the electronics and information technology ministry in the previous government, responded to Musk’s comments by suggesting that it seemed as if Musk believed “no one can build secure digital hardware.” This response was in reference to India’s use of EVMs in the recent Lok Sabha elections, where numerous political leaders, particularly from opposition parties, echoed Musk’s sentiment that EVMs should be replaced with paper voting to maintain voter trust in the democratic process.

Rahul Gandhi, a longstanding critic of EVMs, reiterated his concerns, stating, “EVMs in India are a ‘black box,’ and nobody is allowed to scrutinise them. Serious concerns are being raised about transparency in our electoral process. Democracy ends up becoming a sham and prone to fraud when institutions lack accountability.” His remarks were made in direct response to Musk’s post.

Chandrasekhar offered to provide a tutorial to Musk on building secure EVMs, emphasizing that Musk’s generalization about digital hardware security was incorrect. “This is a huge sweeping generalization statement that implies no one can build secure digital hardware. Wrong. Elon Musk’s view may apply to the US and other places – where they use regular compute platforms to build internet-connected voting machines,” he stated in his reply to Musk’s concerns about EVM reliability.

Akhilesh Yadav, supporting the anti-EVM stance, highlighted that technology experts worldwide are voicing concerns about EVM tampering. “We reiterate our demand that all future elections be conducted using ballot papers,” he asserted.

Chandrasekhar defended Indian EVMs, explaining that they are custom-designed and isolated from any network or media, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the internet. He stated, “There is no way in. (There are) factory programmed controllers that cannot be reprogrammed. Electronic voting machines can be… built right as India has done…” To this, Musk replied, “Anything can be hacked.”

Chandrasekhar conceded that “anything is possible,” at least in theory, adding, “…With quantum compute, I can decrypt any level of encryption. With lab-level tech and plenty of resources, I can hack any digital hardware/system including the flight controls of a glass cockpit of a jet, etc. But that’s a different type of conversation from EVMs being secure and reliable…”

The Supreme Court has also ruled that it cannot dictate the Election Commission’s (EC) functioning regarding EVMs, maintaining that India’s EVMs are foolproof. The EC has consistently asserted the security and reliability of Indian EVMs.

An EVM comprises a control unit and a balloting unit, connected by a cable, and linked to a VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) machine. This setup enables voters to verify that their vote was cast correctly and recorded for their chosen candidate.

Interestingly, some European nations have reverted to ballot voting systems, highlighting a global debate on the best practices for ensuring fair and secure elections.

Elon Musk’s concern about EVM reliability stems from instances like Puerto Rico’s voting irregularities, which were only identified due to the existence of a paper trail. This underscores the importance of transparency and trust in the electoral process. Robert F Kennedy Jr.’s acknowledgment of the role of a paper trail in correcting vote tallies highlights the potential vulnerabilities of EVMs without such a backup.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s defense of Indian EVMs points to their custom design and lack of connectivity, which he argues make them secure. He criticizes Musk’s generalized view on digital hardware security, emphasizing that India’s EVMs are not regular compute platforms but are specifically designed for secure voting. This distinction is crucial in the debate over the reliability and security of voting technologies.

Rahul Gandhi’s critique of EVMs as a “black box” reflects broader concerns about the transparency and accountability of electoral processes. His call for scrutiny and accountability aligns with global demands for electoral integrity, especially in democracies where the legitimacy of elections is paramount.

Akhilesh Yadav’s support for paper ballots echoes similar concerns about the potential for EVM tampering and fraud. His call for a return to paper voting underscores the demand for trust and transparency in the electoral process, a sentiment shared by many critics of electronic voting systems.

The Supreme Court’s ruling that it cannot dictate the EC’s handling of EVMs highlights the judiciary’s respect for the independence of electoral authorities. The EC’s assertion of the foolproof nature of Indian EVMs reflects confidence in their security measures, despite ongoing debates and criticisms.

The use of VVPAT machines in conjunction with EVMs in India aims to address transparency concerns by providing a paper trail that voters can verify. This system is intended to ensure that votes are recorded accurately and can be audited if necessary, addressing some of the key concerns raised by critics of EVMs.

The global context of this debate, with some European countries reverting to paper ballots, indicates a broader reevaluation of electronic voting systems. The move towards paper voting in these countries reflects a preference for the perceived reliability and transparency of traditional voting methods.

The debate initiated by Elon Musk and Rajeev Chandrasekhar on the reliability of EVMs has garnered significant attention and support from prominent Indian politicians. The discussion highlights the ongoing global debate on the best practices for secure and transparent elections, balancing technological advancements with the need for voter trust and electoral integrity.

FAA Investigates Use of Potentially Falsified Titanium in Boeing and Airbus Jets

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is probing the use of titanium with potentially forged records in commercial jets by Airbus SE and Boeing Co., originating from a lesser-known Chinese supplier, as reported by Bloomberg.

Spirit AeroSystems Holdings Inc. confirmed that the questionable material entered their parts through counterfeit documents. Joe Buccino, a spokesperson for Spirit, stated, “When this was identified, all suspect parts were quarantined and removed from Spirit production.” He added, “More than 1,000 tests have been completed to confirm the mechanical and metallurgical properties of the affected material to ensure continued airworthiness.”

This issue reflects a recurring problem in the aviation industry concerning unauthorized parts infiltrating the supply chain. Last year, a scandal emerged involving a UK company that distributed fake aircraft parts with forged documentation worldwide, Bloomberg reported.

According to The New York Times, the problematic titanium was incorporated into Boeing’s 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner jets and the Airbus A220 model produced between 2019 and 2023. The issue stemmed from a batch of metal from a Chinese producer, with certificates appearing falsified upon inspection, Bloomberg quoted.

The FAA disclosed that Boeing voluntarily reported procuring material through a distributor that might have supplied falsified or incorrect records. The FAA is “investigating the scope and impact of the issue,” according to Bloomberg.

Simultaneously, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is investigating the titanium traceability issue after being notified by its Italian counterpart. EASA currently finds no safety risk but will continue investigating the root cause of the documentation issues, the report noted.

“EASA will investigate further the root cause of the document traceability issue and continue to closely monitor any new developments that could lead to a potentially unsafe condition in the fleet,” stated EASA spokesperson Janet Northcote, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Boeing has assured that affected parts will be removed from aircraft before delivery and that the in-service fleet remains safe. The company remarked, “This industry-wide issue affects some shipments of titanium received by a limited set of suppliers, and tests performed to date have indicated that the correct titanium alloy was used.”

An Airbus spokesperson acknowledged the situation, emphasizing that numerous tests confirmed the A220’s airworthiness remains intact.

The aviation industry depends on verified provenance to ensure the safety and structural integrity of every component. The suspect titanium was provided by an unnamed Chinese company, allegedly using forged documentation to falsely appear as originating from Baoji Titanium Industry, a reputable Chinese supplier.

The Aviation Supply Chain Integrity Coalition, which includes representatives from Boeing and Airbus, is working to prevent unauthorized parts from entering the supply chain. John Porcari, the coalition’s co-chair, mentioned at a Washington conference that they had finished the research phase for a forthcoming report this fall, which will recommend solutions to this issue.

A coalition spokesperson indicated that while the initial focus is on the propulsion supply chain, the recommendations could be applied broadly across the aviation industry.

Overall, this investigation underscores the critical importance of ensuring the integrity of materials used in the aerospace sector. The proactive measures by Boeing and Airbus to identify and quarantine suspect parts, as well as the coordinated efforts of international aviation safety agencies, reflect a concerted effort to maintain safety and trust in the aviation supply chain.

DHS Announces New Process to Promote the Unity and Stability of Families

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced actions to promote family unity in the immigration process, consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to keeping families together. This announcement utilizes existing authorities to promote family unity, but only Congress can fix our broken immigration system.

Under current law, noncitizens married to a U.S. citizen may apply for lawful permanent residence through their marriage to a U.S. citizen. However, to apply for lawful permanent residence, many noncitizens must first depart the United States and wait to be processed abroad, resulting in a prolonged, potentially indefinite, period of separation from their U.S. citizen family members and causing tremendous hardship to all concerned. Consequently, these families live in fear and face deep uncertainty about their future.

To address this challenge, DHS will establish a new process to consider, on a case-by-case basis, requests for certain noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens who have lived in the United States for 10 years or more; do not pose a threat to public safety or national security; are otherwise eligible to apply for adjustment of status; and merit a favorable exercise of discretion. If eligible, these noncitizens will be able to apply for lawful permanent residence without having to leave the United States. DHS estimates that approximately 500,000 noncitizen spouses of U.S. citizens could be eligible to access this process; on average, these noncitizens have resided in the United States for 23 years. Approximately 50,000 children of these spouses also will be eligible for this process. Noncitizens who pose a threat to national security or public safety will not be eligible for this process, as aligned with our immigration enforcement priorities. If a noncitizen poses a threat to national security or public safety, DHS will detain, remove, or refer them to other federal agencies for further vetting, investigation, or prosecution as appropriate.

Today’s actions build on unprecedented steps by the Biden-Harris Administration to strengthen family unity including by implementing family reunification parole processes for nationals of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Ecuador; updating and modernizing the Cuban and Haitian family reunification parole processes; leading the Family Reunification Task Force to reunify nearly 800 children with their families who were separated; and establishing country-specific parole processes for certain nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela (CHNV) who have a U.S.-based supporter.

Eligibility and Process

To be considered on a case-by-case basis for this process, an individual must:

  • Be present in the United States without admission or parole;
  • Have been continuously present in the United States for at least 10 years as of June 17, 2024; and
  • Have a legally valid marriage to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.

In addition, individuals must have no disqualifying criminal history or otherwise constitute a threat to national security or public safety and should otherwise merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

Noncitizen children of potential requestors may also be considered for parole under this process if they are physically present in the United States without admission or parole and have a qualifying stepchild relationship to a U.S. citizen as of June 17, 2024.

In order to be considered for parole, an individual will need to file a form with USCIS along with supporting documentation to show they meet the requirements and pay a fee. Further information regarding eligibility and the application process, including a notice in the Federal Register, will be published in the near term. USCIS will reject any filings or individual requests received before the date when the application period begins later this summer.

Upon receipt of a properly filed parole in place request USCIS will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a grant of parole is warranted and whether the applicant merits a favorable exercise of discretion. All requests will take into consideration the potential requestor’s previous immigration history, criminal history, the results of background checks and national security and public safety vetting, and any other relevant information available to or requested by USCIS. USCIS has strong processes in place to identify and address potential fraud, which will be applied here to ensure the integrity of this program.

Other Action

In addition, DHS will join the Department of State in an effort to more efficiently facilitate certain employment-based nonimmigrant visas for eligible individuals, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and undocumented noncitizens, who have graduated from an accredited U.S. institution of higher education. By clarifying and enhancing the existing process, the Department of State’s policy will give U.S. employers increased confidence that they can hire the talent they need, and that they will be able to quickly get to work. DHS will implement the Department of State’s policy update.

National India Hub, “Center of Excellence in Community Service” Inaugurated in Schaumburg, Illinois

A new era has dawned in the history of the United States, for the fast-growing Indian Diaspora with the inauguration of the first ever and the largest US Indian Community Service Center, the National India Hub in Schaumburg, Illinois on June 15, 2024. The opening ceremony also coincided with the inauguration of a Yoga Fest in the presence of His Holiness Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muni, Founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharati.

Feature and Cover National India Hub

The Hub, a Community, Cultural, and Recreational Center, is set to be a beacon of hope, uniting and empowering the community. The nonprofit Center’s mission is to provide comprehensive services and activities, each designed to make a positive impact on all US communities, of all age groups, fostering a sense of optimism and progress.

The National India Hub, a 110,000 sq ft magnificent Class-A Building was inaugurated by Hon’ble Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Hon’ble Consul General of Chicago Indian Consulate Somnath Ghosh, and Hon’ble Former Secretary of Ministry of External Affairs of India, Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed. They commended the leadership of the National India Hub and wished to see the Center as a “Model Community Center” in the US.

Harish Kolasani, Founder & Chairman of the National India Hub, passionately shared the Center’s mission and vision in an exclusive interview with the news media. He said that this iconic center stands tall as the world’s largest Indian community center, housing over 60 service organizations dedicated to serving the community without boundaries, which is already eligible for Guinness World Record for having the highest number of service organizations under one roof.

NATIONAL INDIA HUB offers a wide range of services, including preventive healthcare, mental health support, aid for domestic abuse survivors, support for sexual assault victims, free CPR training, personality development, assistance for international students, business networking opportunities through chambers, diverse educational programs for children, skill development programs for adults, vibrant cultural activities, art classes, beautiful and affordable halls for community and private events, recreational activities for seniors and youth, and many more. All these initiatives are fueled by the dedication of our 590 passionate volunteers, making our Hub a beacon of community empowerment.

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Health-related activities include mental and heart health-targeted programs, blood drives, basic health screenings, and community bystander CPR programs to enhance outcomes in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. Monthly mega-job fairs are also provided at the Center. Help desks representing the Indian and US Governments will be available soon. Programs tailored to senior citizens and youth including indoor games are a special feature at the Hub.

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Dr. Vemuri Murthy, a well-known Indo-US Cardiac Resuscitation Expert, is the Founder of the Community Health and CPR Training Center at the National India Hub. Dr. Murthy said, “Bystander CPR programs for communities and high school students will be offered during weekends at the Training Center, with state-of-the-art resuscitation equipment involving a dedicated team of CPR instructors and volunteers.” The Chicago Medical Society is a partner of the CPR Training Center. Hon’ble Somnath Ghosh and Hon’ble Dr. Ausaf Sayeed received the Center’s First Two CPR Training Certificates during an exclusive “Celebrity CPR Training Program” conducted at the Training Center.

Harish Kolasani, on behalf of the Board Members of the National India Hub, expressed heartfelt gratitude to the dignitaries and the 200+ attendees. He mentioned that until now National India Hub hasn’t taken any donations or grants from anyone including Government or Private organizations since 2010, which proves the credibility of the leadership. He also mentioned that he is proud to have the support of 340 Student Volunteers and 250 plus Adult volunteers who all came together to make this challenging project into an unstoppable project. He acknowledged their invaluable support and emphasized the community’s crucial role in the Hub’s success. He earnestly requested the continuing support of community members, and governmental and non-governmental organizations to help the Center become a ‘Model Community Service Center in the United States.”

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Tony Awards 2024: The complete list of winners

The 77th Tony Awards air Sunday night on CBS. Below is the full list of 2024 Tony Award nominees, with winners marked in bold.

Tony Awards 2024 The complete list of winners 1
Stereophonic won the 2024 Tony Award for best play, beating out Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, Mary Jane, Mother Play and Prayer for the French Republic.

 

Best Musical

  • WINNER: The Outsiders
  • Hell’s Kitchen
  • Illinoise
  • Suffs
  • Water for Elephants

Best Play

  • WINNER: Stereophonic
  • Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
  • Mary Jane
  • Mother Play
  • Prayer for the French Republic

Best Revival of a Musical

  • WINNER: Merrily We Roll Along
  • Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
  • Gutenberg! The Musical!
  • The Who’s Tommy

Best Revival of a Play

  • WINNER: Appropriate
  • An Enemy of the People
  • Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
Tony Awards 2024 The complete list of winners 2
Maleah Joi Moon accepts the best leading actress in a musical award for Hell’s Kitchen onstage during The 77th Annual Tony Awards.

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

  • WINNER: Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Edin Espinosa, Lempicka
  • Kelli O’Hara, Days of Wine and Roses
  • Maryann Plunkett, The Notebook
  • Gayle Rankin, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

  • WINNER: Sarah Paulson, Appropriate
  • Betsy Aidem, Prayer for the French Republic
  • Jessica Lange, Mother Play
  • Rachel McAdams, Mary Jane
  • Amy Ryan, Doubt: A Parable
Tony Awards 2024 The complete list of winners 3
Jonathan Groff accepts the best leading actor in a musical award for Merrily We Roll Along onstage during The 77th Annual Tony Awards.

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

  • WINNER: Jonathan Groff, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Brody Grant, The Outsiders
  • Dorian Harewood, The Notebook
  • Brian d’Arcy James, Days of Wine and Roses
  • Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

 

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

  • WINNER: Jeremy Strong, An Enemy of the People
  • William Jackson Harper, Uncle Vanya
  • Leslie Odom, Jr., Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
  • Liev Schreiber, Doubt: A Parable
  • Michael Stuhlbarg, Patriots

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

  • WINNER: Kecia Lewis, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Shoshana Bean, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Amber Iman, Lempicka
  • Nikki M. James, Suffs
  • Leslie Rodriguez Kritzer, Monty Python’s Spamalot
  • Lindsay Mendez, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Bebe Neuwirth, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

  • WINNER: Kara Young, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
  • Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Doubt: A Parable
  • Juliana Canfield, Stereophonic
  • Celia Keenan-Bolger, Mother Play
  • Sarah Pidgeon, Stereophonic
Tony Awards 2024 The complete list of winners 4
Kara Young accepts the best performance by an actress in a featured role in a play award for Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch onstage during The 77th Annual Tony Awards.

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

  • WINNER: Daniel Radcliffe, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Roger Bart, Back To The Future: The Musical
  • Joshua Boone, The Outsiders
  • Brandon Victor Dixon, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Sky Lakota-Lynch, The Outsiders
  • Steven Skybell, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club

Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

  • WINNER: Will Brill, Stereophonic
  • Eli Gelb, Stereophonic
  • Jim Parsons, Mother Play
  • Tom Pecinka, Stereophonic
  • Corey Stoll, Appropriate
Tony Awards 2024 The complete list of winners 5
Will Brill accepts the best performance by an actor in a featured role in a play award for Stereophonic onstage during The 77th Annual Tony Awards.

Best Original Score

  • WINNER: Shaina Taub, Suffs
  • Adam Guettel, Days of Wine and Roses
  • David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love
  • Will Butler, Stereophonic
  • Jamestown Revival and Justin Levine, The Outsiders

Best Direction of a Musical

  • WINNER: Danya Taymor, The Outsiders
  • Maria Friedman, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Michael Greif, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Leigh Silverman, Suffs
  • Jessica Stone, Water for Elephants

Best Direction of a Play

  • WINNER: Daniel Aukin, Stereophonic
  • Anne Kauffman, Mary Jane
  • Kenny Leon, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
  • Lila Neugebauer, Appropriate
  • Whitney White, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
Tony Awards 2024 The complete list of winners 6
The Outsiders took home several Tony Awards, including for best musical, best direction of a musical, best sound design of a musical and best lighting design of a musical.

Best Sound Design of a Musical

  • WINNER: Cody Spencer, The Outsiders
  • M.L. Dogg and Cody Spencer, Here Lies Love
  • Kai Harada, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Nick Lidster for Autograph, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
  • Gareth Owen, Hell’s Kitchen

Best Sound Design of a Play

  • WINNER: Ryan Rumery, Stereophonic
  • Justin Ellington and Stefania Bulbarella, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
  • Leah Gelpe, Mary Jane
  • Tom Gibbons, Grey House
  • Bray Poor and Will Pickens, Appropriate

Best Lighting Design of a Play

  • WINNER: Jane Cox, Appropriate
  • Isabella Byrd, An Enemy of the People
  • Amith Chandrashaker, Prayer for the French Republic
  • Jiyoun Chang, Stereophonic
  • Natasha Katz, Grey House

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

  • WINNER: Brian MacDevitt and Hana S. Kim, The Outsiders
  • Brandon Stirling Baker, Illinoise
  • Isabella Byrd, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
  • Natasha Katz, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Bradley King and David Bengali, Water for Elephants

Best Scenic Design in a Play

  • WINNER: David Zinn, Stereophonic
  • dots, Appropriate
  • dots, Enemy of the People
  • Derek McLane, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
  • David Zinn, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
Tony Awards 2024 The complete list of winners 7
Ben Cook, Ahmad Simmons, Ricky Ubeda and Gaby Diaz of Illinoise perform onstage during The 77th Annual Tony Awards.

Best Choreography

WINNER: Justin Peck, Illinoise

  • Annie-B Parson, Here Lies Love
  • Camille A. Brown, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman, The Outsiders
  • Jesse Robb and Shana Carroll, Water for Elephants

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

  • WINNER: Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
  • AMP featuring Tatiana Kahvegian, The Outsiders
  • Robert Brill and Peter Nigrini, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Takeshi Kata, Water for Elephants
  • David Korins, Here Lies Love
  • Riccardo Hernández and Peter Nigrini, Lempicka
  • Tim Hatley and Finn Ross, Back To The Future: The Musical

Best Orchestrations

  • WINNER: Jonathan Tunick, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Timo Andres, Illinoise
  • Will Butler and Justin Craig, Stereophonic
  • Justin Levine, Matt Hinkley and Jamestown Revival (Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance), The Outsiders
  • Tom Kitt and Adam Blackstone, Hell’s Kitchen

Best Costume Design of a Musical

  • WINNER: Linda Cho, The Great Gatsby
  • Dede Ayite, Hell’s Kitchen
  • David Israel Reynoso, Water for Elephants
  • Tom Scutt, Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club
  • Paul Tazewell, Suffs

Best Costume Design of a Play

  • WINNER: Dede Ayite, Jaja’s African Hair Braiding
  • Dede Ayite, Appropriate
  • Enver Chakartash, Stereophonic
  • Emilio Sosa, Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch
  • David Zinn, An Enemy of the People

Best Book of a Musical

WINNER: Shaina Taub, SuffsKristoffer Diaz, Hell’s Kitchen

Bekah Brunstetter, The Notebook

Adam Rapp and Justine Levine, The Outsiders

Rick Elice, Water for Elephants

Rear Admiral Sues Air India Over Faulty Business Class Seats: District Commission Orders Compensation

When you spend lakhs of rupees for a premium flight ticket on a long-haul flight, the least you can expect is that the airline provides you with a decent seat. However, retired Rear Admiral Anil Kumar Saxena was not so fortunate. Despite paying in lakhs for a return flight from Delhi to Toronto, Saxena was not allotted a proper working seat on either leg of the journey. The airline was unsuccessful in fixing Saxena’s allotted seat during the over 14-hour flight from Delhi to Toronto on June 3, 2023, and similarly on the Toronto to Delhi flight on June 24, 2023. After the unsuccessful attempt to fix the seat, Air India’s crew relocated him to a different seat on the flight. However, the seat he was given did not meet Saxena’s expectations, especially since he had paid a premium price for them. Read below to know what happened with Saxena, how Air India responded, and what the aviation regulator says about such incidents.

What Was the Problem with Air India’s Seats?

The same problem of defective seats occurred on two international flights operated by Air India. Here’s a summary of what happened:

June 3, 2023, Delhi to Toronto:

Admiral Saxena wanted to make sure he had a reclining seat for the long journey, allowing him to sit or lie down comfortably, so he paid a premium price for it. However, the allotted seat malfunctioned as it was not reclining properly. The crew tried to fix the reclining seat but couldn’t. The person responsible for fixing it was asleep for three hours. In the meantime, Saxena had to sit uncomfortably. After an hour of trying to fix the seat, the crew gave up and offered another seat, which Saxena found uncomfortable.

June 24, 2023, Toronto to Delhi:

Saxena again faced the same situation on the return journey from Toronto to Delhi. During this journey, the allotted seat was not functional, and none of the controls for operating the seat were working. The business class seats allotted to Saxena on this more than 14-hour long flight were defective and not reclining/not functioning properly. “Due to which he was compelled to sit in an awkward position, causing backache, inconvenience, sleeplessness for over 14 hours, resulting in fatigue, health issues and backache, etc,” said lawyers representing Saxena in the District Consumer Commission. Saxena raised this issue with Air India over email in June, July, and August of 2023, but received no response. On August 28, 2023, he sent a letter/notice to Air India for a refund with compensation. After this, Air India responded.

How Did Air India Respond to the Formal Complaint?

Air India admitted their mistake and inconvenience faced by Saxena and hence offered the following: Rs 1.18 lakh as a non-transferable travel voucher for the amount equivalent to 75% of the ticket journey Delhi-Toronto-Delhi with one-year validity, and Rs 10,000 as a non-transferable travel voucher for the journey Toronto-Delhi with one-year validity. Saxena rejected the compensation offered and requested the airline refund the ticket’s cost and appropriate compensation. Air India turned this request down and thus Saxena filed a suit against Air India in the South Mumbai District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

What Did Saxena Demand from Air India?

Saxena filed a suit in the South Mumbai District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission and demanded the following from Air India:

– Refund of ticket amount as admitted by Air India for both routes Delhi-Toronto-Delhi aggregating to Rs 2,36,000/- with 18% p.a from the date of payment, i.e., 04/04/2023.

– Compensation of Rs 1,00,000/- with 18% interest p.a. towards mental agony and Rs 50,000/- towards costs of litigation.

What Did the South Mumbai District Commission Order Air India to Do?

Air India did not respond to the district commission’s notice and was not present at any of the hearings of the case. Hence, the commission passed the order on an ‘ex-parte’ basis. The South Mumbai District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission found Air India to be providing a deficient service and guilty of practicing unfair trade practices. The commission, via an order dated May 22, 2024, directed the following to Air India and its commercial manager:

– The Respondents (Air India and its commercial manager) to pay jointly and severally the compensation of Rs 80,000 towards mental agony and Rs 20,000 towards litigation cost within 30 days from the receipt of this order.

The district commission considered the evidence presented by Saxena and it revealed that he suffered a lot on the journeys (June 3 and June 24 of 2023). “The seats which have been allotted to the Complainant (Saxena) were defective since the same did not recline properly as a result he faced inconvenience, backache, sleeplessness for over 14 hours. The Respondent (Air India) has provided the other seat to the Complainant, which is also not comfortable while sitting, feeling embracing etc,” as per the order of the district commission.

“There was a deficiency in service on the face of it as admittedly the seat allotted to the complainant was defective and he was shifted to another seat and had suffered inconvenience due to negligence of Air India. There was a clear deficiency in service by Air India as the flight had defective business class seats. Furthermore, despite due service of notice, Air India failed to appear before Consumer Forum and the case was decided ex-parte due to their nonappearance,” says Manisha Karia, Advocate on record, Supreme Court of India.

Does the DGCA Say Anything About Faulty Seats in Flights?

As per Karia, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has time and again imposed penalties on airline companies for not providing compensation to passengers who were made to travel on unserviceable seats. “The guidelines for compensation and reimbursement to the passengers are stipulated in Part IV, Series M, Section 3 – Air Transport of the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR). However, DGCA Rules do not categorically provide for the quantum of compensation to be given to the passengers in such cases. There is no provision in the rules and regulations for specific compensation for faulty/defective seats,” she says. Due to the absence of a specific rule for compensating defective seats, passengers have historically resorted to legal action. According to Karia, Singapore Airlines recently had to pay Rs 2 lakh to a passenger from Telangana due to a faulty seat. The National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission (NCDRC) also directed Air India to pay Rs 1.6 lakh in compensation to a couple who experienced pain from a defective seat on an international flight.

What Is the Duty of Airlines Regarding Seats as Specified by DGCA?

According to Karia, “Rule 53 of The Aircraft Rule, 1937 provides that all materials including the aircraft seat shall conform to approved design specifications and the DGCA has been imposing penalties on the airlines for non-compliance of these Rules.”

Was Air India Fair in Giving Saxena Travel Vouchers with One-Year Validity as Compensation?

Saxena rejected the compensation offer given by Air India (Rs 1.18 lakh and Rs 10,000 travel vouchers with one-year validity). His lawyers said before the district commission, “The said offer has not been accepted on the ground that if the vouchers are not used in one year for the single journey, then the above said offer will become waste.”

“Although the DGCA has framed Rule 53 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, for overseeing the condition of aircraft and has in fact warned airplanes against offering passengers unserviceable seats. However, there is no provision in DGCA Rules for providing compensation to passengers for such deficiency in services regarding faulty seats. Hence, in the present case, it was Air India’s discretion to offer compensation in any manner as it would deem fit and proper as per its internal policies and decisions,” says Amit Kumar Nag, Partner, AQUILAW, a law firm.

FIIDS Hosts Landmark Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, Strengthening US-India Relations and Addressing Key Issues

The Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) organized a significant advocacy day on Capitol Hill, focusing on immigration reforms, US-India relations, and Quad partnerships. Held on Thursday, the event saw numerous volunteers engaging with nearly 100 elected officials and their staff.

“It has been a historic day. Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS) hosted almost 140 delegates from 22 different states in the USA. We had 83 appointments the whole day,” Khanderao Kand, president and chief of policies and strategy at FIIDS, shared in an interview with PTI.

FIIDS delegations raised five critical issues in their meetings: US-India relations, particularly in technology exports and defense partnerships, Quad trade and security partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, the impact of the seven percent Green Card quota limit on Indian Americans, religious phobia, and critical minerals vital to the long-term interests of the United States.

“We also discussed the Quad expanding partnerships, both trade and security in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly on the background of China’s dominance in the global supply chain and competitive overtures around that,” Kand noted.

He highlighted the significant backlog faced by Indian Americans due to the seven percent Green Card quota limit, which affects H-1B visa holders. “We discussed the impact of the seven per cent countrywide Green Card quota limit, which has created a huge backlog on Indian Americans or rather the H-1B holders getting green cards. We discussed religious phobia and finally critical minerals, particularly in the long-term interest of the United States,” he added.

A Green Card, or Permanent Resident Card, allows immigrants to reside permanently in the US. The per-country caps restrict the number of Green Cards issued to individuals from specific countries. The H-1B visa enables US companies to employ foreign workers in specialized fields requiring theoretical or technical expertise.

Later at a reception at the Capitol Visitors Center, distinguished lawmakers, officials, and business advocacy leaders expressed support for the US-India relationship and addressed issues raised by FIIDS.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Director S Panchanathan emphasized NSF’s collaboration with Indian science and technology platforms. Congressman Ro Khanna highlighted the strength of the US-India relationship, stating, “We need India as an ally when it comes to making sure that China doesn’t have hegemony in the region and our trade creates jobs in America. Unlike the Chinese trade deficit, our trade with India actually creates jobs here.”

Congressman Rich McCormick congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his historic third consecutive term. “It’s exciting to see democracy going the way it is over there and to see the strength of the nation that’s going to be strategically important to us in the future,” he remarked.

US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) President and CEO Mukesh Aghi predicted that the US-India relationship would grow economically, geographically, and emotionally. Following the elections, the perception of India moving towards autocratic leadership diminished, he noted.

US-India Business Council (USIBC) President Atul Keshap underscored the importance of private sector collaboration between the two democracies. He stated, “When the world develops the deep tech and the future tech of the 21st century, whether it’s semiconductors or it’s cybersecurity or it’s artificial intelligence, or it’s quantum computing or its defense platforms, outer space, vaccines that the United States and India and our great democratic allies and partners stand at the forefront. It is critically important.”

Deputy Indian Ambassador to the US Sripriya Ranganathan emphasized the robust relationship between the two nations, saying, “The relationship now has come to a situation where the two nations rarely disagree. I think that the insights, the interventions, the advocacy, and the shared presence of the Indian American community have a great deal to contribute.”

Indian American community leader Yogi Chug acknowledged the critical nature of the US-India partnership, noting, “We had a conversation about the idea of critical minerals, how important it is for America with China hegemony to recognize that allies such as India can forge this world pact on critical minerals,” while also mentioning anti-Hindu hate crime and immigration reform as other key discussion areas.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi lauded Prime Minister Modi’s phrase “Amazing India” and added, “I add another phrase: AI is Ascending Indefinitely. Amazing India Ascending Indefinitely. AI Square. You are the bridge between India and the United States. You are the ones making sure that this partnership goes to higher heights, becomes wider, becomes stronger, becomes deeper, cuts across all sectors, from security to commercial ties to people to people ties to everything in between.”

This advocacy day on Capitol Hill by FIIDS marks a significant step in addressing key issues impacting the Indian diaspora and strengthening the US-India relationship across various domains.

Half of U.S. Adults Approve of Trump’s Felony Conviction as Election Nears, AP-NORC Poll Finds

About half of U.S. adults approve of Donald Trump’s recent felony conviction, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey reveals both potential vulnerabilities and resilience in Trump’s support as he aims to become the first American with a felony record to win the presidency.

With less than five months until Election Day, the poll depicts a nation with firmly entrenched views of the divisive former Republican president. Overall opinions of Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden remain unchanged since Trump’s guilty verdict in his New York hush money trial.

However, the findings also suggest Trump’s conviction is a weakness among disaffected Republicans. While most Americans are aware of the conviction, political independents are less likely to be paying attention and more likely to have a neutral opinion of Trump’s conviction, indicating campaigns may still sway them.

Nancy Hauser, a 74-year-old independent from West Palm Beach, Florida, approves of Trump’s conviction based on the little she followed of the trial. The verdict suggests to her that Trump may engage in criminal activity if back in the White House. “I feel if you’ve been convicted of a crime, especially a felony, a serious crime, how can you run a country?” she said. However, she also has concerns about Biden, especially his age and leadership on the economy and the war in Israel. Biden is 81, while Trump turns 78 on Friday. “I’m not sure who I’m voting for,” Hauser said. “That’s the sad part.”

Overall, U.S. adults are more likely to approve of Trump’s conviction than disapprove, according to a survey of 1,115 adults nationwide conducted over three days beginning a week after the verdict was delivered on May 30, and before Biden’s son Hunter was convicted in a federal gun case on Tuesday. About 3 in 10 somewhat or strongly disapprove of Trump’s conviction, and about 2 in 10 neither approve nor disapprove. Registered voters’ perspectives were similar, with about half saying the conviction was the right choice.

Republicans are less united on the verdict than Democrats. Roughly 6 in 10 Republicans somewhat or strongly disapprove of the conviction, while 15% of Republican adults approve, and about 2 in 10 Republicans neither approve nor disapprove. In contrast, more than 8 in 10 Democrats somewhat or strongly approve.

About half of Americans say the conviction was politically motivated, while a similar share think it was not. Nearly half of Republicans who have an unfavorable view of Trump do not see the conviction as politically motivated, compared with less than 1 in 10 Republicans who have a positive opinion of him.

Overall opinions of Trump have barely changed. About 6 in 10 U.S. adults have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, consistent with an AP-NORC poll from February. Four in 10 have a favorable view of Trump, also largely unchanged since February.

The numbers for Biden are equally poor: 4 in 10 U.S. adults have a favorable view of the Democratic president, while about 6 in 10 have a negative one.

Ron Schwartz, a 59-year-old moderate Republican from Dallas, said Trump was “probably guilty” of the alleged crimes, though he believes politics played a major role in the case. He thinks the charges should not have been felonies, a crime level that blocks those convicted from owning guns or voting in many states. Still, Schwartz plans to vote for Trump, as he did in the past two presidential elections, despite serious concerns about the former president’s character. “I think he’s a disgusting human being,” Schwartz said. “But he has some good policies and good ideas.”

Independents are split on Trump overall: About 4 in 10 have a positive view, while a similar share have a negative view. Nearly half did not express a strong opinion on the conviction, saying they neither approve nor disapprove.

Cassi Carey, a 60-year-old independent from suburban Milwaukee, said the conviction does not reflect well on Trump, though she acknowledges she was not paying close attention to the specifics. “I think Trump is a terrible choice for our country because of his divisiveness,” Carey said. She also lamented Biden’s advanced age, who turns 82 in November. “Someday in my lifetime, I want very much to be able to vote for a candidate and not against a candidate,” she said.

Overall, Americans are more likely to see Trump’s conviction as bad for the nation. About 4 in 10 adults describe it as a bad thing for the country, while about one-third say it was a good thing, and about 2 in 10 say it is neither. Regarding the U.S. democratic system, about 4 in 10 say the conviction is a good thing, with roughly the same share calling it a bad thing.

Trump continues to be overwhelmingly disliked by Democrats: 9 in 10 Democrats have an unfavorable view of him, with roughly 8 in 10 saying their opinion is “very unfavorable.” Democrat Oscar Baza, a 29-year-old Mexican immigrant from Los Angeles, said he approves of the Trump verdict, which he sees as evidence of “the judicial process working as it should.” “I just think it’s really worrisome that he’s on the ballot,” Baza said. “If you’ve been convicted of 34 counts of anything, you probably shouldn’t be leading anything; you should be going to therapy.”

The AP-NORC poll indicates that while Trump’s conviction has polarized opinions further, it has not significantly shifted overall views on him or Biden. Both candidates face challenges with their respective unfavorable ratings, and the upcoming election will likely see efforts to sway the undecided, particularly among independents.

US Sanctions Force Moscow Exchange to Halt Dollar and Euro Trading, Shift Focus to Yuan

New US sanctions against Russia have resulted in the immediate halt of trading in dollars and euros on the Moscow Exchange (MOEX), the primary financial marketplace in the country.

On Wednesday, despite being a public holiday in Russia, both MOEX and the Russian central bank swiftly issued statements following the announcement of the new sanctions by Washington. These sanctions aim to curb the flow of money and goods supporting Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine.

The central bank stated, “Due to the introduction of restrictive measures by the United States against the Moscow Exchange Group, exchange trading and settlements of deliverable instruments in US dollars and euros are suspended.”

As a consequence, banks, companies, and investors will no longer be able to trade these currencies through the central exchange, which provides benefits such as enhanced liquidity and oversight. Instead, trades will now have to be conducted over the counter, where transactions occur directly between two parties. The central bank mentioned it would use data from these trades to establish official exchange rates.

Many Russians maintain savings in dollars or euros, considering past economic crises when the ruble’s value plummeted. The central bank assured citizens that their deposits were safe. “Companies and individuals can continue to buy and sell US dollars and euros through Russian banks. All funds in US dollars and euros in the accounts and deposits of citizens and companies remain safe,” it reassured.

An individual from a significant, non-sanctioned Russian commodities exporter commented to Reuters, “We don’t care, we have yuan. Getting dollars and euros in Russia is practically impossible.”

With Moscow seeking to enhance trade and political relationships with Beijing, the Chinese yuan has overtaken the dollar as the most traded currency on MOEX, making up 53.6% of all foreign currency transactions in May.

Typically, the dollar-ruble trading volume on MOEX is around 1 billion rubles ($11 million) daily, while euro-ruble trading volume is approximately 300 million rubles ($3 million) each day. In contrast, yuan-ruble trading volumes now frequently exceed 8 billion rubles ($90 million) daily.

Dollar rates have surged

Before the national holiday, the ruble closed at 89.10 to the dollar and 95.62 against the euro. Following the sanctions announcement, some banks rapidly increased their dollar rates.

Norvik Bank announced Wednesday that it was buying dollars for just 50 rubles but selling them for 200 rubles, although it later adjusted the rates to 88.20/97.80. Tsifra Bank was buying dollars at 89 rubles and selling them at 120.

The US Treasury declared it was “targeting the architecture of Russia’s financial system, which has been reoriented to facilitate investment into its defense industry and acquisition of goods needed to further its aggression against Ukraine.”

Russia’s central bank has been preparing for such sanctions for nearly two years. In July 2022, the bank stated it was modeling different sanctions scenarios with participants of the foreign exchange market and infrastructure organizations.

Russian broker T-Investments remarked on Telegram, “This is bad but expected news.”

Forbes Russia reported in 2022 that the central bank was considering a mechanism for managing the ruble-dollar exchange rate should exchange trading be stopped due to sanctions against MOEX and its National Clearing Centre, which was also affected by the new sanctions.

MOEX announced that share trading and money market trades settled in dollars and euros would also be suspended. The money market includes low-risk, short-term debt instruments like government bonds and commercial debt.

These recent developments underscore the significant impact of the latest US sanctions on Russia’s financial operations. The shift from central exchange trading to over-the-counter deals marks a substantial change in how financial transactions will be conducted in Russia. The central bank’s reassurance about the safety of deposits in dollars and euros aims to maintain public confidence, although the actual ability to trade these currencies has been drastically reduced.

The response from market participants, such as the adjustment of dollar rates by various banks, reflects the immediate economic adjustments being made in light of the new sanctions. The increased reliance on the yuan and the continued preparation by the Russian central bank highlight the ongoing strategic shift in Russia’s financial practices to mitigate the impact of Western sanctions.

As Russia deepens its financial and trade ties with China, the prominence of the yuan in the Russian financial market is likely to grow further. This realignment not only reflects the current geopolitical tensions but also suggests a long-term shift in the global financial landscape, with significant implications for international trade and currency markets.

The central bank’s proactive stance in simulating sanctions scenarios and developing contingency plans demonstrates a level of preparedness, although the full impact of these new sanctions will unfold over time. Market participants and the general public will closely watch the developments as Russia navigates through these challenging economic conditions.

Overall, the suspension of dollar and euro trading on the Moscow Exchange marks a pivotal moment in Russia’s financial sector, driven by geopolitical dynamics and strategic economic adjustments. The move to over-the-counter trading, the reliance on the yuan, and the central bank’s assurances are all part of a broader strategy to stabilize the Russian economy amidst increasing international pressure. The effectiveness of these measures and their impact on the Russian financial system and broader economy will be critical areas to monitor in the coming months.

Tesla Shareholders Approve Elon Musk’s Record $56 Billion Pay Package and Move to Texas

Tesla shareholders have overwhelmingly supported a groundbreaking pay package for CEO Elon Musk and agreed to relocate the company’s legal headquarters to Texas.

Earlier this year, a Delaware judge blocked the deal, raising concerns about its fairness to shareholders. However, this recent vote marks a significant win for Musk, who actively campaigned for the $56 billion (£43.9 billion) payout, dependent on Tesla’s stock price.

“Hot damn, I love you guys,” Musk exclaimed to a crowd of enthusiastic shareholders in Texas during the firm’s annual meeting.

This package is unprecedented, valued at over 300 times the earnings of the highest-paid U.S. CEO last year, and more than 3,000 times the average CEO’s pay. However, legal experts note that the vote is non-binding, and it’s uncertain whether the court that initially blocked the deal will accept this re-vote and reinstate the pay package.

“The vote changes nothing,” stated Mathieu Shapiro, managing partner at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel. “It only offers Tesla opportunities to try to use the vote to obtain a better decision going forward. It will be interesting to see if another court is willing to credit a vote taken after the trial court’s decision.”

The immense sum has sparked criticism and concerns that Tesla’s board is overly compliant with Musk. In January, Delaware judge Kathaleen McCormick labeled the pay package as “unfair” and criticized the process as “deeply flawed,” noting that the board was dominated by Musk loyalists.

Chancellor McCormick highlighted that Antonio Gracias, a former board director, had close personal ties with Musk, often vacationing with his family. Additionally, Todd Maron, Tesla’s former general counsel and Musk’s former divorce attorney, displayed such admiration for Musk that he was moved to tears during his deposition.

Following the Delaware court’s ruling voiding his pay package, Musk announced plans to move Tesla’s legal headquarters to Texas. This move comes amid declining Tesla stock prices and increasing pressure on its position in the electric vehicle market.

Despite these challenges, Musk successfully rallied his fan base, particularly individual investors, who form a significant portion of Tesla’s shareholders, to support the pay package. The proposal received 72% of the votes cast, closely mirroring the 73% approval in 2018 when it was first introduced.

“It’s a pretty ringing endorsement,” said Karl Brauer, a car industry analyst. Musk secured ample shareholder support “to justify the package,” he added.

Musk had hinted at the vote’s results on his social media platform, X, formerly known as Twitter. Following the announcement, Tesla’s stock closed nearly 3% higher.

The compensation plan grants Musk rights to around 300 million shares, equivalent to a 10% stake in the company, as a reward for Tesla meeting specific goals set in 2018 related to sales, profits, and the stock price. Tesla maintained that these goals were challenging, though the lawsuit leading to the Delaware court’s block alleged that the targets mirrored internal growth projections shared with banks.

“My understanding is that there’s been about 1,100% appreciation in Tesla stock. And that’s pretty, pretty impressive. Most chief executives have never done anything like that,” said Brauer.

Addressing whether Musk deserved such a substantial pay package, Georg Ell, Tesla’s former Western Europe director, told the BBC’s Today programme, “If I was an investor who put a substantial amount of money into this in 2018 and had held it throughout the period, I’d be very happy because I would have seen anywhere between… 13 and 16 times my money back. That’s a very, very good return.”

Ell disclosed that he owns a small shareholding in Tesla, worth about £6,000. Tesla’s board argued that Musk deserved the package due to the company meeting its targets under his leadership and stressed the necessity to keep him committed to the firm.

Ell emphasized that the vote result provides Musk with “a very strong validation.” He noted, “At Tesla of course he doesn’t do it all alone but he definitely sets the agenda, he sets the pace and he is a relentless person to work for, there’s no doubt about that.”

Tesla executives expressed support for Musk’s pay package in social media posts, underscoring his vital role in the company’s success. Musk, in turn, promised a personal tour of Tesla’s Texas factory to some shareholders who cast their votes.

 

Additionally, shareholders re-elected two board members during Thursday’s meeting: James Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and Kimbal Musk, Elon Musk’s brother.

Moody’s Projects India to Lead Asia-Pacific Economic Growth in 2024

India is set to retain its position as the fastest-growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region in 2024, according to Moody’s Ratings. This growth will be driven by continued domestic momentum established in the previous year.

Moody’s released a report titled “Credit Conditions – Asia-Pacific H2 2024 Credit Outlook,” highlighting that Indonesia, the Philippines, and India have shown remarkable growth in the first half of 2024. These countries are expected to exceed their pre-COVID growth rates due to increasing exports, strong local demand, and significant government infrastructure spending.

The report emphasizes India’s sustained growth trajectory, stating, “India will remain the region’s fastest-growing economy, sustaining last year’s domestically driven momentum. We anticipate policy continuity after the general election, and a continued focus on infrastructure development and encouragement of private sector investment.”

India, along with ASEAN economies, is expected to benefit from stronger portfolio inflows, spurred by solid corporate credit metrics and attractive valuations.

Moody’s recently forecasted that India’s economy will grow by 6.8 percent in the current year and 6.5 percent in 2025, driven by robust economic expansion and policy stability following the elections.

In 2023, India’s real GDP grew by 7.7 percent, up from 6.5 percent in 2022, fueled by substantial government capital spending and a thriving manufacturing sector.

G7 Summit 2024: Leaders Tackle Global Economic Stability, Climate Change, and Geopolitical Tensions in Italy

The Group of Seven (G7) nations will convene for the Leaders’ Summit in Italy’s Apulia region from June 13 to 15. Italy took over the group’s presidency earlier this year. The summit is particularly important as the G7—comprising Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union—grapples with various global issues. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, invited as an Outreach Country representative, will make his first international appearance in his third term at this summit.

The meeting’s agenda is extensive, focusing on upholding the “rules-based international system” in the face of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, addressing conflicts in the Middle East, and bolstering partnerships with developing countries, particularly in Africa. Other critical priorities include migration, climate change, food security, and the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on society.

Origins and Evolution of the G7

The G7 originated from a 1973 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Paris, France, amidst significant economic turmoil, including an oil crisis, rising inflation, and the collapse of the Bretton Woods system. This system had pegged the US dollar to gold, with other global currencies linked to the dollar. Over time, the dollar became overvalued, necessitating a new mechanism for exchange rates that required global cooperation. Hence, the idea of a forum for major industrialized democracies to coordinate economic policies was conceived. The first G7 summit was held in 1975 in Rambouillet, France, with leaders from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, and Japan. Canada joined the following year.

Since 1977, representatives of the European Economic Community, now the European Union, have also participated. The group expanded to the G8 in 1998 with Russia’s inclusion but reverted to the G7 in 2014 after Russia was suspended due to its annexation of Crimea.

Evolution and Relevance of the G7

Over the years, the G7 has evolved from an economic forum to one addressing a broad spectrum of global challenges. Although it lacks a permanent administrative structure, the G7 rotates its presidency annually, with the presidency serving as a temporary secretariat. The annual summit concludes with a communiqué outlining political commitments, significantly influencing global governance, agenda-setting, and decision-making processes.

However, the G7’s relevance has been questioned as its members’ combined share of global GDP has declined. A Bruegel think tank analysis titled “The G7 is dead, long live the G7” noted that this share dropped from around 50% in the 1970s to about 30% in 2018. The economic rise of China, India, and other emerging economies has sparked calls for a more representative global governance structure. In contrast, the G20, established in response to the 2008 financial crisis, is seen as a more inclusive forum. Bruegel argued that the G20’s creation underscored the G7’s inadequacy in handling modern crises. However, due to its size, the G20 was considered “too big and heterogeneous to make decisions when not mired in deep crisis.”

Bruegel proposed a reconfigured G7+ that would include a common euro-zone representative and make room for China, India, and Brazil, thereby better reflecting the current global economic landscape in terms of both GDP and population.

There are also concerns about the G7’s internal cohesion. For instance, former US President Donald Trump often clashed with other G7 leaders and skipped a climate meeting at the 2019 summit.

Despite these challenges, the G7 has made significant contributions to international policies, including coordinating economic strategies, promoting free and fair trade practices, shaping global governance issues, and supporting security cooperation and development assistance.

Key Issues at the 2024 G7 Summit

The upcoming G7 summit in Italy is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it aims to coordinate economic policies to stabilize the global economy amidst concerns over inflation and trade tensions. Secondly, the summit will focus on addressing climate change by discussing strategies to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable energy sources. With climate records recently being broken, collective action is crucial.

Thirdly, learning from the Covid-19 pandemic, the G7 will prioritize global health initiatives, including pandemic preparedness and vaccine distribution. Additionally, the summit will address geopolitical tensions, particularly concerning relations with China and Russia, and ongoing conflicts with global implications. Lastly, the G7 will explore regulating emerging technologies, data privacy, and cybersecurity to ensure they benefit global development.

The G7’s ability to adapt to changing global dynamics and address contemporary challenges will be crucial for its continued relevance. The outcomes of this year’s summit will provide insight into how the group intends to navigate the complex issues facing the world today.

Pope Francis to Hold Key Meetings with Global Leaders at G-7 Summit

Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with leaders from the United States, Ukraine, France, and India during the Group of 7 (G-7) summit in Italy’s Borgo Egnazia, as confirmed by the Vatican on Thursday. This marks the first time a Pope will participate in G-7 discussions, reflecting his engagement with global issues including the implications of artificial intelligence, which he has previously cautioned against.

In a statement outlining his agenda for the summit, the Vatican disclosed that Pope Francis will engage in individual discussions with several world leaders and key figures. According to the Vatican’s announcement, “Francis will have a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, a fellow Catholic,” underscoring the significance of their shared faith and their potentially influential dialogue. Additionally, he is scheduled to meet privately with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Vatican’s statement further outlined Pope Francis’s extensive schedule, which includes meetings with a diverse array of global leaders. Among those scheduled are Brazilian former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and Kristalina Georgieva, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

This initiative highlights Pope Francis’s proactive approach in engaging with international leaders to discuss pressing global issues, particularly focusing on the impact of technological advancements such as artificial intelligence. His participation in the G-7 summit underscores the Vatican’s commitment to contributing to discussions on matters crucial to global governance and societal well-being.

State Department Launches Online Passport Renewal Pilot Program to Expedite Process for U.S. Travelers

The U.S. Department of State has introduced a new pilot program enabling American travelers to renew their passports online, as announced on Thursday. The initiative aims to streamline the renewal process, which has historically been cumbersome and time-consuming.

According to officials, the online system allows passport holders to initiate their renewal applications during specific daily windows, closing once a set number of applications are received. This phased approach is part of the department’s testing phase before a full-scale launch, though an exact date for the broader rollout has not been specified.

The introduction of an online renewal option is expected to significantly reduce the lengthy processing times that travelers often encounter when updating their passports. The State Department highlighted that limiting the number of applications accepted daily initially allows them to closely monitor the system’s performance in real-time. They advised applicants who are unable to start their applications on a given day to try again later.

In recent years, the State Department has faced increasing challenges in passport processing, exacerbated by the surge in applications following the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions. This surge led to a backlog in passport applications, prompting legislative proposals aimed at expediting the process. Republican Senator James Lankford proposed legislation to enhance online application tracking and bolster staffing at the State Department, while Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Ted Lieu introduced the PASSPORT Act to streamline both application and renewal procedures.

Jay Zagorsky, an economist at Boston University, noted that the number of Americans holding valid passports has outpaced population growth by approximately 10% over the last three decades. In 1990, only 5% of Americans held passports, a figure that surged to 48% by December of last year. Reflecting this trend, the State Department issued a record-breaking 24 million passports in 2023. By December, passport application wait times had returned to their normal 6-8 week range.

The online passport renewal process entails six steps: first, creating a MyTravelGov account; second, logging in and selecting the “Renew Your Passport” option; third, filling out the application form with existing passport information; fourth, disclosing international travel plans within the next eight weeks; fifth, uploading a non-selfie jpeg photo; and sixth, paying the renewal fee and digitally signing the application.

For further information, visit the State Department’s online renewal website.

Delhi LG Approves Prosecution of Arundhati Roy Under UAPA for 2010 Speech

Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena has approved the prosecution of author Arundhati Roy under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for her alleged provocative speech at a 2010 event, according to officials at Raj Niwas, as reported by PTI on Friday.

“Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena has sanctioned the prosecution of Arundhati Roy and former Professor of International Law in Central University of Kashmir, Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, under section 45 (1) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the case,” a Raj Niwas official said.

Last October, Saxena had granted sanction to prosecute Roy and former Central University of Kashmir professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain under section 196 of CrPC for commission of offences punishable under different sections of the Indian Penal Code.

“The issues discussed and spoken about at the conference propagated the separation of Kashmir from India,” the Raj Niwas official said.

Apart from Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain, the speakers at the event included late Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, SAR Geelani (the conference’s anchor and a key accused in the Parliament attack case), and Varavara Rao.

The complainant Sushil Pandit, an activist from Kashmir, had filed a complaint under Section 156(3) of CrPC before the Metropolitan Magistrate Court, New Delhi, which directed the registration of an FIR on November 27, 2010.

“It was alleged that Geelani and Arundhati Roy strongly propagated that Kashmir was never part of India and was forcibly occupied by the Armed Forces of India and every possible effort should be made for the independence of the J-K from India and recordings of the same were provided by the complainant,” the officials stated.

Subsequently, an FIR was filed and an investigation was conducted, they added.

Roy has been an outspoken critic of the Modi government, voicing dissent on various issues.

In a significant development, Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena has authorized the prosecution of acclaimed author Arundhati Roy under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for her alleged provocative remarks at an event in 2010, as per officials at Raj Niwas cited by PTI on Friday.

“Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena has given the go-ahead for the prosecution of Arundhati Roy and former Professor of International Law in Central University of Kashmir, Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, under section 45 (1) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in this case,” a Raj Niwas official confirmed.

Last October, Saxena had cleared the prosecution of Roy and ex-professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain under section 196 of CrPC for offenses punishable under different sections of the Indian Penal Code.

“The issues discussed and spoken about at the conference advocated for the separation of Kashmir from India,” the Raj Niwas official remarked.

Apart from Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain, other speakers at the event included the late Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, SAR Geelani (who chaired the conference and was a primary accused in the Parliament attack case), and Varavara Rao.

Activist Sushil Pandit from Kashmir had lodged a complaint under Section 156(3) of CrPC before the Metropolitan Magistrate Court in New Delhi, which directed the registration of an FIR on November 27, 2010.

“The allegation was that Geelani and Arundhati Roy vigorously asserted that Kashmir had never been a part of India and was forcibly occupied by the Indian Armed Forces, advocating for J-K’s independence from India, with recordings of these statements provided by the complainant,” officials elaborated.

Consequently, an FIR was lodged and an investigation ensued.

Roy has consistently criticized the Modi administration, expressing dissent on multiple fronts.

Bitcoin Faces Volatility Amid Economic Uncertainty: Crypto Stocks Eye Recovery in 2024

Cryptocurrencies have faced a challenging period following a robust performance in 2023 and the first quarter of this year. Bitcoin (BTC), in particular, surged to an all-time high of $73,750 in March, marking a significant milestone. However, momentum has since waned, with Bitcoin struggling below $70,000 for most of May and continuing into June. On June 13, Bitcoin briefly dipped below $67,000 before rebounding slightly to trade at $67,100.

The decline in Bitcoin’s value can be attributed to several factors, notably the Bitcoin halving event in April. This event, occurring roughly every four years, cuts the block reward by 50%, intended to limit the total supply of Bitcoin to 21 million coins. Historically, such reductions have spurred demand for cryptocurrencies, typically resulting in price increases. Despite these expectations, Bitcoin failed to regain its earlier momentum post-halving. Concurrently, a slowdown in the Wall Street rally during April, driven by concerns over inflation and potential interest rate hikes, also impacted Bitcoin’s performance.

While inflation showed signs of easing in April and May, alleviating immediate fears of aggressive rate hikes, uncertainty surrounding the Federal Reserve’s future rate cut plans unsettled investors. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated a more cautious approach following the FOMC meeting, suggesting only one rate cut this year, a significant revision from the earlier projection of three cuts discussed in March. Powell emphasized that although inflation had decreased substantially over the past year, it remained above the Fed’s target of 2%, implying a prolonged period of higher interest rates. Such conditions typically dampen enthusiasm for growth assets such as technology stocks, consumer discretionary stocks, and cryptocurrencies.

Despite the recent setbacks, experts remain optimistic about Bitcoin’s long-term potential. Year-to-date, Bitcoin has still managed to gain 45.5%, building on its impressive 207% surge in 2023.

Turning attention to investment opportunities in the cryptocurrency sector, several stocks are poised for potential growth in 2024. Four notable picks, each carrying a favorable Zacks Rank, have been highlighted:

NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA), a leader in visual computing technologies, has transitioned from PC graphics to advanced solutions supporting AI, high-performance computing, gaming, and virtual reality platforms. NVDA boasts an expected earnings growth rate of 106.2% for the current year, with a Zacks Rank #1.

Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. (IBKR), a global electronic broker, facilitates cryptocurrency trading alongside traditional commodities futures. IBKR anticipates a 14.6% earnings growth rate for the current year, with a Zacks Rank #2.

Robinhood Markets, Inc. (HOOD), known for its financial services platform in the U.S., offers a range of investment options including stocks, ETFs, options, precious metals, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum through its Robinhood Crypto platform. HOOD projects substantial earnings growth this year, with estimates revised upwards by 110.3% over the last 60 days, earning it a Zacks Rank #2.

Coinbase Global, Inc. (COIN) provides critical infrastructure and technology supporting the global cryptocurrency economy, offering services from consumer accounts to institutional trading liquidity and developer tools for crypto applications. COIN expects significant earnings growth, with estimates improving by 219.1% over the last 60 days, securing a Zacks Rank #1.

While recent months have seen cryptocurrencies face headwinds due to regulatory uncertainties, inflation concerns, and interest rate expectations, the underlying bullish sentiment towards Bitcoin and select crypto-related stocks underscores potential opportunities for investors looking ahead to 2024.

Swing States to Decide 2024 Presidential Election: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in Focus

In this year’s U.S. presidential election, about 240 million people are eligible to vote, but the outcome is expected to hinge on a small number of swing states. Experts identify Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin as the crucial battlegrounds that could determine whether Democratic President Joe Biden or his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, wins the White House.

Both parties are concentrating their efforts on these states to sway undecided voters. Here’s an in-depth look at each of these pivotal states:

Arizona

In 2020, Biden won Arizona, marking the first time since the 1990s that the state supported a Democratic presidential candidate. The state, which shares a long border with Mexico, has been central to the national immigration debate. During Biden’s tenure, border crossings hit record highs, creating significant political challenges. Although crossings have decreased recently, Biden has adopted a tougher stance, planning border shutdowns during surges.

Trump has capitalized on Biden’s immigration record, promising to conduct “the largest deportation operation” in U.S. history if re-elected. Arizona also became a flashpoint over abortion rights after state Republicans attempted to revive a near-total abortion ban from 160 years ago. The issue gained national prominence after the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

Georgia

Georgia is one of the states where Trump-backed Republicans tried to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory. Trump, along with 18 others, faces charges of conspiring to overturn his narrow loss in the state, although he denies any wrongdoing. This legal battle adds complexity to his campaign, particularly after his hush-money trial ended in a guilty verdict.

Georgia has a significant African-American population, which played a crucial role in Biden’s 2020 win. However, there is growing disillusionment among Black voters, who feel insufficient progress has been made on racial justice and economic issues. Whether this impacts voter turnout in 2024 remains to be seen.

Michigan

Michigan, a key state in the last two elections, has become a symbol of the backlash against Biden’s support for Israel during its conflict with Gaza. During the state’s Democratic primary, over 100,000 voters chose the “uncommitted” option, influenced by activists advocating for a U.S. ceasefire in Gaza and a halt to military aid to Israel. Michigan’s large Arab-American community’s support for Biden is now uncertain.

Trump has underscored Michigan’s importance for his path to victory, urging Israel to expedite its campaign against Hamas in Gaza. The state’s electoral significance remains high as both parties vie for support in this crucial region.

Nevada

Nevada, traditionally a Democratic stronghold in recent elections, shows signs of shifting towards the Republicans. Polling averages from 538 indicate Trump currently leads Biden in the state. Both candidates are focusing on winning over Nevada’s substantial Latino population.

Despite national economic growth under Biden, Nevada’s post-COVID recovery has lagged, with the state posting the highest unemployment rate in the country at 5.1%. Trump’s campaign promises a return to lower taxes and deregulation, appealing to voters dissatisfied with the current economic situation.

Pennsylvania

Like many Americans, Pennsylvanians are grappling with inflation-driven cost-of-living increases, particularly in grocery prices, which have risen faster there than in any other state. Erie, a bellwether county, exemplifies these struggles, with one in eight residents facing food insecurity.

Pennsylvania was crucial in Biden’s 2020 victory, buoyed by his personal connection to Scranton, a working-class city. However, high inflation could jeopardize his support, as polls indicate voters have a negative view of the economy. Trump has attacked Biden on this issue, but he also faces competition from Republican primary rival Nikki Haley, who performed well in Pennsylvania.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s razor-thin margins in both 2016 and 2020 underscore its status as a key battleground. Third-party candidates could influence the outcome in such closely contested states. Polls suggest support for independents like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who aims to get on the ballot in Wisconsin and other states, might affect the vote shares of both major candidates.

Trump has emphasized Wisconsin’s importance, saying, “if we win Wisconsin, we win the whole thing.” The state will host the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, highlighting its strategic significance. Biden, meanwhile, touts new investments like a Microsoft data center as evidence of his job-creating efforts, contrasting his record with Trump’s unfulfilled promises.

The fate of the 2024 presidential election hinges on a handful of swing states. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin will likely determine the next occupant of the White House. Both Biden and Trump face unique challenges and opportunities in these critical battlegrounds, making their campaigns’ efforts to win over undecided and disillusioned voters crucial for victory.

Death Takes Unsettling Form in Daina O. Pusić’s Debut Film ‘Tuesday,’ a Haunting Tale of Love and Loss

Death in cinema has been portrayed in many forms, from Bengt Ekerot to Ian McKellen, John Cleese, and even Brad Pitt. However, in “Tuesday,” the debut film from director Daina O. Pusić, death takes the form of a dilapidated macaw.

This version of Death is far from clean or comforting; it is caked in grime, missing feathers, and varies in size from as large as a room to as small as an ear canal. With a voice that is both ancient and otherworldly, Death in “Tuesday” is profoundly unsettling, not offering a comforting transition to the afterlife.

“Tuesday,” set to expand nationwide this Friday, delves into themes of death and acceptance between a mother and her dying daughter. However, this is not a sentimental story meant for a sympathy card. It is gritty, unsentimental, and at times painfully raw, which might be attributed to its British roots. Viewers might find themselves deeply moved to tears.

The setup of a parent coming to terms with a child’s imminent death is emotionally intense and could easily bring an audience to tears regardless of execution. Fortunately, “Tuesday” is enriched with immense creativity and vision, from both writer-director Daina O. Pusić and the special effects team that created Death, as well as the innovative sound design that adds to the film’s haunting atmosphere.

Lola Petticrew stars as the titular Tuesday, a teenager with a pixie cut, a penchant for jokes and rap music, and a terminal illness that confines her to an oxygen tank and wheelchair. Her mother, Zora, portrayed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, has distanced herself from the situation, avoiding emotional confrontation by staying out all day, pawning household items to pay for care, and ignoring Tuesday’s calls. At home, Zora refuses to discuss the impending death, her job, or their financial instability, repressing everything to a breaking point.

Nurse Billie, who looks after Tuesday, briefly leaves her alone on the patio to start a bath. During this moment, Tuesday has a distressing episode and struggles to breathe. As she gasps for air, the macaw representing Death lands beside her. Death, introduced early in the film through a series of unsettling deaths, sets a foreboding tone. Each person Death visits has the same outcome once his wing is around them, though their reactions vary from begging for relief to being paralyzed by fear.

Instead of succumbing to fear, Tuesday decides to tell a joke, which disarms Death and initiates a conversation. She bathes the macaw, plays music, and asks for one favor: to say goodbye to her mother first. Death grants her this request.

The narrative of “Tuesday” is complex and multifaceted, blending elements of body horror, fairy tale, domestic drama, and apocalyptic thriller. It is a unique, mesmerizing film that defies predictability. Julia Louis-Dreyfus delivers a performance that is both chilling and deeply empathetic, portraying a woman paralyzed by grief even before the loss of her daughter. Her character, Zora, seems to be preparing for her own death, unable to imagine a life without Tuesday. Petticrew matches Louis-Dreyfus’s intensity, showing a maturity and wisdom beyond their years, fitting for someone who has faced mortality too soon.

“Tuesday” is ultimately a cathartic experience, resonating with audiences regardless of their current thoughts on death. It signals the arrival of a bold new filmmaker in Daina O. Pusić, whose work will be worth following.

“Tuesday,” released by A24 and opening nationwide on Friday, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association for language and has a runtime of 111 minutes. The film has been awarded three and a half stars out of four.

India Sends Aircraft to Repatriate Bodies of 45 Indians Killed in Kuwait Fire; PM Modi Announces Aid

India dispatched a military transport aircraft to Kuwait on Thursday to bring back the remains of over 40 Indians who perished in a catastrophic fire in a building housing foreign workers in southern Kuwait. According to Kuwaiti authorities, the fire resulted in the deaths of 45 Indians and three Filipinos. The tragedy claimed at least 49 lives and injured another 50.

Officials in Delhi stated that the Indian Air Force’s C-130J transport aircraft will return the bodies on Friday, initially landing in Kochi as most of the deceased were from Kerala. The aircraft is also expected to arrive in Delhi, catering to some victims from northern Indian states.

A Kuwaiti national and several foreigners were detained on Thursday on charges of manslaughter and causing injuries due to inadequate security and safety measures, following the fire that killed 49 people, including 45 Indians.

The fire broke out on Wednesday in a seven-story building in Mangaf, a southern city, where 196 migrant workers were residing. The blaze led to at least 49 deaths and 50 injuries.

“The Public Prosecution has mandated the provisional detention of a Kuwaiti citizen and several expats in connection with charges of manslaughter and causing injuries due to negligence in security and safety measures, following a fire incident in the Al-Mangaf area,” reported the Arabic-language daily Arab Times.

Investigations by the Kuwaiti Fire Force determined that the fatal fire was sparked by an “electrical circuit,” as confirmed by the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA.

Sheikh Fahad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah, the First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and Minister of Defence, disclosed that 48 bodies have been identified, including 45 Indians and three Filipinos, as reported by the English-language daily Arab Times.

Minister of State for External Affairs Kirti Vardhan Singh arrived in Kuwait and met with the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya, Interior Minister Al-Sabah, and Health Minister Ahmad Abdelwahab Ahmad Al-Awadi to address the situation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a meeting with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister PK Mishra, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, and other officials to discuss the incident. Following the meeting, the Prime Minister directed the government to provide comprehensive assistance and announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 2 lakh for the families of the deceased Indian nationals.

In a phone call, the Indian Minister of External Affairs urged Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Abdullah Ali Al-Yahya to expedite the repatriation process for the deceased individuals’ mortal remains.

Harvard Study Suggests Aliens May Be Living Among Us on Earth, Claims New Research

The search for extraterrestrial life has long captivated humanity, yet after decades of investigation, the question of whether we are alone in the universe remains unanswered. Now, a provocative study from Harvard University suggests that aliens might already be among us, living secretly on Earth.

Researchers at Harvard University’s Human Flourishing Program have proposed that “unidentified anomalous phenomena” (UAP), commonly known as UFOs and extraterrestrial beings, could be residing underground, on the moon, or even walking among humans. The study also speculates that UAPs might be spaceships visiting alien friends based on Earth.

The paper notes, “The author became increasingly aware of the depth of evidence and theory that also tentatively supports another extraterrestrial explanation: the ‘cryptoterrestrial’ hypothesis (CTH) – our focus here – which holds that UAP may reflect activities of NHIs concealed here on Earth (e.g., underground) and its environs.”

The study delves into the concept of “cryptoterrestrials” – beings that could be living among us in disguise, originating from Earth’s future, or descending from intelligent dinosaurs. The researchers categorize cryptoterrestrials into four types:

  1. Human Cryptoterrestrials:These are technologically advanced ancient human civilizations that were largely destroyed long ago but have continued to exist in some remnant form.
  1. Hominid or Theropod Cryptoterrestrials:These represent a technologically advanced non-human civilization consisting of terrestrial animals that evolved to live in stealth, such as underground. These beings could be descendants of ape-like hominids or “unknown, intelligent dinosaurs.”
  1. Former Extraterrestrial or Extratemporal Cryptoterrestrials: These entities might have arrived on Earth from elsewhere in the cosmos or from the human future and have concealed themselves in stealth locations, such as on the moon.
  1. Magical Cryptoterrestrials: These entities are less like homegrown aliens and more like “earthbound angels.” They relate to the human world in ways that are less technological and more magical, such as “fairies, elves, and nymphs.”

Acknowledging the unconventional nature of their research, the authors concede that their work is “likely to be regarded skeptically by most scientists.” Nonetheless, they urge the scientific community to consider their claims “in a spirit of epistemic humility and openness.” It should be noted that the paper has not yet undergone peer review.

This study arrives amidst other sensational claims, such as a former US intelligence officer alleging that the US government is concealing a UFO “the size of a football field.”

The Harvard researchers’ hypothesis brings a fresh perspective to the ongoing debate about extraterrestrial life, suggesting that the answer to whether we are alone in the universe might be closer to home than previously thought.

Priyanka Gandhi May Contest Wayanad Bypoll if Rahul Gandhi Shifts to Raebareli, Sources Say

Speculation about Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s potential entry into electoral politics surged ahead of the Lok Sabha elections but was abruptly quelled when she opted not to run. However, the buzz has reignited, with sources informing NDTV on Thursday that the Congress leader might contest the bypoll from the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency if Rahul Gandhi vacates the seat.

Rahul Gandhi, who secured significant victories from both Raebareli and Wayanad in the Lok Sabha polls, added fuel to the speculation about his sister’s political debut. He remarked on Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would have lost “by two-three lakh votes” if Priyanka had contested against him in Varanasi.

Long History

The uncertainty surrounding Ms. Gandhi’s candidacy has been present since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. During that period, there was talk that she might challenge PM Modi in Varanasi, especially as the Congress struggled against the BJP’s dominance. Despite the speculation, Ms. Gandhi did not contest. Subsequently, she suggested she might run in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh elections, where she was the Congress General Secretary for the state, even hinting at the possibility of being the chief ministerial candidate. However, she later clarified that she was speaking tongue-in-cheek.

Before the 2024 elections, Sonia Gandhi vacated the Raebareli seat, which she had held since 2004, to become a Rajya Sabha MP. This development intensified speculation, with reports suggesting that Priyanka Gandhi would contest from Raebareli while her brother aimed to reclaim Amethi from the BJP’s Smriti Irani.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge reportedly asked the Gandhi siblings to decide on their candidacies, indicating a preference for both to run. Kharge suggested that their participation would send a positive message to party workers, allies, and the NDA. Despite this, Ms. Gandhi chose not to contest, with sources close to her explaining that having three Gandhis in Parliament—herself, her mother, and her brother—would bolster the BJP’s criticism of dynastic politics.

Winning Call?

Priyanka Gandhi dedicated much of her campaign efforts to Raebareli and Amethi, both of which her party won by substantial margins. The Lok Sabha results saw the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance surprise the BJP and pollsters by securing 43 out of 80 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, with the Congress improving from one to six seats compared to its 2019 tally. The BJP, which had won 62 seats in the previous election, was reduced to 33, trailing the Samajwadi Party’s 37.

Rahul Gandhi praised his sister’s campaign contributions, thanking the people of UP after the results were announced.

Rahul Gandhi’s Dilemma

The prospect of Priyanka Gandhi contesting the Wayanad bypolls depends on Rahul Gandhi relinquishing the constituency in favor of Raebareli. Despite his statement on Wednesday about facing a dilemma and being undecided, sources suggest he is likely to choose Raebareli due to its national political significance.

Two senior Congress officials have also supported this idea. Kishori Lal Sharma, a close aide to the Gandhi family who orchestrated a surprising defeat for Union Minister Smriti Irani in Amethi, has advised Rahul Gandhi to retain the Raebareli seat. Meanwhile, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee chief K Sudhakaran hinted that Rahul Gandhi might give up the Wayanad seat.

Sudhakaran remarked, “We should not be saddened as Rahul Gandhi who is supposed to lead the nation cannot be expected to remain in Wayanad. Therefore, we should not be sad. Everyone should understand that and give all their wishes and support to him.”

Congress workers in Wayanad have expressed their dismay, holding banners urging Rahul Gandhi not to leave. These banners also requested that Priyanka Gandhi “takes care of” the constituency if he decides to vacate it.

By-elections will be required within six months of Rahul Gandhi vacating the seat, potentially setting the stage for an intriguing electoral battle.

UK Hindu Community Unveils Historic Manifesto Ahead of Elections, Outlining Key Assurances for Future Government

In a landmark move ahead of the forthcoming British elections, the Hindu community in the United Kingdom has released its first-ever manifesto. This collective effort by Hindu organizations is aimed at presenting a unified voice to parliamentary candidates and the future government, delineating seven key assurances that mirror the community’s needs and aspirations.

Titled the Hindu Manifesto 2024, this document seeks to safeguard, promote, and advance Hindu values and interests within the broader context of British society. The accompanying statement highlights the significance of these assurances, stating, “These assurances aim to ensure the protection, promotion and progress of Hindu values and interests within the broader fabric of British society.”

The manifesto outlines several critical assurances:

  1. Recognition of Anti-Hindu Hate:It calls for anti-Hindu hate to be acknowledged as a religious hate crime and advocates for the proscription of organizations and individuals involved in such activities.
  1. Protection of Places of Worship:Ensuring the safety and sanctity of Hindu temples and other places of worship is emphasized as a priority.
  1. Access to Fair Education:The manifesto demands equitable educational opportunities and access for the Hindu community.
  1. Equal Representation and Opportunities:There is a call for equal representation and opportunities for Hindus across various sectors.
  1. Streamlining Immigration:Improving and simplifying immigration processes for Hindus is identified as another key assurance.
  1. Healthcare and Social Care:The manifesto stresses the need for enhanced healthcare and social care services for the Hindu community.
  1. Acknowledging Dharmic Values: It calls for the recognition and protection of Dharmic values within British society.

Vinod Tikoo, Coordinator of ABHI UK (Advocacy for British Hindus & Indians UK), emphasized the manifesto’s significance, stating, “The manifesto represents the aspirations and expectations of the community from the candidates who will be seeking support from the community.”

The UK Hindu community, with a population exceeding 1 million, significantly contributes to the country’s economy through taxes, healthcare, education, and business sectors. Highlighting the community’s importance, Nitish Rai Parwani, a D.Phil. scholar at the University of Oxford, remarked, “Hindus play an important role in the British community. They play important roles in economic, health segments of British society.”

The organizations that contributed to the creation of the manifesto include BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha UK, Chinmaya Mission UK, Hindu Council UK, Hindu Forum of Britain, Hindu Forum of Europe, Hindu Mandir Network, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (UK), INSIGHT UK, ISKCON UK, Manchester Marathi Mandal, Mandir Baba Balak Nath, Walsall (UK), National Council of Hindu Temples UK (NCHTUK), National Hindu Students’ Forum (UK), The National Council of Hindu Priests UK, and the World Council of Hindus UK (VHP UK).

ZEE5 Global Releases The Trailer Of Digital Film, Rautu Ka Raaz

ZEE5 Global, the world’s largest home-grown video streaming platform and a multilingual storyteller, is thrilled to announce its next direct-to-digital, Rautu Ka Raaz. Produced by Zee Studios and Phat Phish Records and directed by Anand Surapur, Rautu Ka Raaz features Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the lead role as Inspector Deepak Negi. The mystery thriller also stars Rajesh Kumar, Atul Tiwari and Narayani Shastri in supporting roles and is set in the picturesque village of Rautu Ki Beli in Uttarakhand. The film had its Gala Premiere at the 54th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) last year where it received a warm welcome and is now set for its digital premiere on 28th June.

The film revolves around the mysterious death of a warden at a blind school in Rautu Ki Beli, a sleepy town which hasn’t witnessed a murder in over a decade and a half. This is where SHO Deepak Negiaka Nawazuddin Siddiqui and his team step in as they are tasked with solving this rare and high-profile murder investigation. The film showcases a unique and jovial camaraderie between SHO Deepak Negi (played by Nawazuddin) and sub inspector Dimri (played by Rajesh Kumar) who are forced out of their lazy state of being owing to this murder investigation. So, get ready to witness a mystery thriller unraveling the laziest murder investigation ever.

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global, said, “At ZEE5 Global, we pride ourselves on delivering engaging stories to our viewers, and ‘Rautu Ka Raaz’ exemplifies this commitment. This finely crafted murder mystery offers a thrilling combination of suspense and drama. After the stellar success of ‘Haddi,’ ZEE5 Global is delighted to collaborate again with ZEE Studios and the immensely talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui to present this unique and compelling plot. We believe ‘Rautu Ka Raaz’ will resonate with audiences worldwide, further cementing our status as the world’s largest destination for South Asian content.”

Umesh Kr Bansal, Chief Business Officer, Zee Studios added, “Rautu Ka Raaz is not just a film; it is an exploration of human emotions set against the backdrop of a thrilling mystery. With Nawazuddin Siddiqui at the helm, viewers can expect a performance that is both powerful and nuanced. We are proud to present this gripping tale in partnership with ZEE5 Global, and we believe it will captivate audiences from start to finish.”

Director and Producer Anand Surapur said, “Rautu Ka Raaz is a small-town film that transports viewers to the breathtaking landscapes of Uttarakhand and its surrounding areas. The film’s stunning visuals, coupled with a gripping narrative, will draw audiences in from start to finish. We are incredibly fortunate to have the remarkable Nawazuddin Siddiqui leading our talented cast. His unparalleled acting prowess breathes life into this powerful story, delivering a performance that will be etched in the audiences’ minds for years to come. Without giving away too much, I can say that Rautu Ka Raaz is full of suspense and drama, but it stays true to the smalltown pace of life and hence, even the characters operate at their own rhythm. In fact, this is what sets the film apart from other mystery thrillers”.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui added, “The trailer of Rautu Ka Raaz is a tantalizing glimpse into the gripping world that awaits the viewers. I am someone who enjoys watching crime dramas, and hence, I can confidently say that this film will be an entertaining watch with a unique twist. What really sets Rautu Ka Raaz apart are the quirky characters and the lazy but breathtaking backdrop of Uttarakhand. The trailer encapsulates the film’s suspenseful plot and highlights the film’s USP i.e a smart cop unravelling a lazy murder investigation. We had a Gala Premiere at IFFI last year where we received a warm response and now with the film’s release on ZEE5 Global, I am looking forward to the film reaching ZEE5 Global’s viewers across 190+ countries.”

GOPIO-CT Joins With Stamford Hospital Foundation To Raise Fuinds For Cancer Patients

On Sunday, June 9th, GOPIO-CT participated in a walkathon at Stamford’s Mill River Park. The funds collected helps cancer patients and their families during their stay at the Stamford Hospital. Funds are also used specifically for patient’s rides to and from treatment, nutrition counseling, acupuncture and other services at no charge to patients at the Bennett Cancer Center.

Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – Connecticut Chapter (GOPIO-CT) has been participating to raise funds for Bennett Cancer Center of the Stamford Hospital for several yearsdd.

GOPIO-CT was a sponsor of the event along with other corporations and non-profits. Each individual GOPIO-CT participant also raised funds. This year, GOPIO-CT donated over $5,000. The program was coordinated by GOPIO-CT Board member Anita Mathur.

Telugu Fine Arts Society Hosts Free Health Camp In Edison

A free health camp was organized on June.9 under the leadership of Madhu Anna, president of the Telugu Fine Arts Society (TFAS), a renowned organization celebrating its 40th year. The event, hosted in partnership with Sai Datta Peetham, took place at Siva Vishnu Temple’s community hall in Edison, New Jersey, from 9 am to 1 pm, serving over 125 patients.

The event was honored by the presence of Bernards Township Mayor Jennifer Assay, who commended both TFAS and Sai Datta Peetham for their dedication to community service. Mayor Assay highlighted the significance of such initiatives in supporting local communities. The event was held in collaboration with Sai Datta Peetham, serving over 125 patients.

TFAS is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Telugu culture and arts. And, Sai Datta Peetham is a renowned spiritual and cultural center in Edison, NJ, committed to serving the community through various religious, cultural, and social service activities.

Raghusarma Sankaramanchi, founder and chairman of Sai Datta Peetham, provided facilities for the camp and blessed the TFAS committee for their noble efforts. His support was instrumental in the smooth execution of the event. A team of distinguished medical professionals, including Dr. Janani Krishna, Dr. Janardhan Bollu, Dr. Shanthi Eppanapalli, Dr. Anish Nihalani, Dr. Srinivas Pavuluri, Dr. Madhu Rajaram, and Dr. Devipriya Thirugnanabandham, provided specialized treatments. Patients expressed their gratitude for the doctors’ exceptional and free services.

Avantik Labs offered blood work services, while Woodlane Pharmacy distributed necessary medical kits, both contributing significantly to the camp’s success.

The event saw active participation from various community members and volunteers, including Damu Gedala, Venkata Satya, Subhadra, Latha Devi, Vara Lakshmi, Vani, Arundathi, Seshagiri, Lokendar, Mahidhar, and Edison Council Member Ajay Patil.

GOPIO Manhattan and Tirlok Malik Plan International Yoga Day 2024

On the occasion of International Yoga Day 2024, GOPIO, and Emmy-nominated filmmaker & Happy Life Yoga speaker Tirlok Malik along with the Indian Panorama & Indian American Forum will be hosting a highly interactive and informative Yoga event featuring experts and speakers from various walks of life.

The theme for this year addresses the basic question: “There are challenges and hardships in life, but how you let them go and laugh at life?”

Ambassador Binaya Srikanta Pradhan, Consul General of India in New York will be the chief guest. Other speakers will include Dr. Thomas Abraham, Professor Indrajit Saluja, Indu Jaiswal, Anil Narang, Lal Motwani (GOPIO International President), Neeta Bhasin, Dr. Renee Mehra, Deborah Fishman, Neha Lohia, Priti Dhariwal, Dr. Tara Shajan, and Dr. Bhuvan Lall.

The event promises to be energetic, knowledgeable, inspiring, and celebratory in nature. Malik will interact with all the prominent speakers on the panel to discover their own personal mantras for happiness. While emphasizing the growing importance of Yoga in today’s times, session host Malik explains his vision behind Happy Life Yoga and its underlying philosophy as “a way of living inspired by the wisdom of Ayurveda, Yoga and Indian Philosophy.”

Malik created the Happy Life Yoga workshop (No mats needed!) inspired by Ayurveda yoga and Indian philosophy as a practical way to live a happier and healthier life in today’s time. This interactive workshop emphasizes “love yourself,” and if you love yourself, it’s your responsibility to take care of your happiness and health, using the tools shared by Malik in this workshop. It’s the gift of ancient India, tested by science & time! The event is supported by many New York media outlets. Malik and the whole team look forward to the celebration of International Yoga Day 2024 and invite everybody to join!

The Zoom session will be held on Sunday, June 22nd from 11:00am – 12:30pm (East) (US and Canada). Interested participants can join the session using the meeting ID: 709 536 8686 and passcode: gopio.

India Best-Represented Nation In Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2024

India is the world’s number one best-represented nation in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024, said Phil Baty, the British magazine’s Chief Global Affairs Officer, on Wednesday.

In a post on X, Baty shared the development and also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for leading this successful nternationalization drive.

“India is the world’s number one best-represented nation in the @timeshighered Impact Rankings 2024. Over 100 universities are ranked, up from just 13 in 2019, thanks to the remarkably successful internationalization drive spearheaded by @narendramodi,” he wrote.

There were a total of 2,152 institutions ranked from 125 countries, and the nation with the most participation was India with 105 institutions.

This year’s results showed that some university systems are emerging as leaders when it comes to particular Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Meanwhile, President of QS University Rankings Nunzio Quacquarelli has praised India for leading all G20 countries in the QS subject rankings performance growth this year.

In the latest subject rankings, Indian higher education institutions have improved their rankings in the STEM subjects, Biological Sciences, and Business Studies.

As mentioned in the report, the NEP largely drove the positive changes in higher education in the country. (IANS)

Saheli Offers College Scholarships for South Asian, Arab Women in Massachusetts

Saheli, a nonprofit organization focused on domestic violence prevention, empowerment, and education for South Asian and Arab families, is currently accepting applications for its annual scholarship program.

The organization will award scholarships of $1000-$2000 to three young women from South Asian and Arab communities in Massachusetts to support their pursuit of higher education.

The scholarships are open to high school seniors of South Asian or Arab origin who are residents of Massachusetts and have been accepted into college for the upcoming academic year. Eligible countries of origin include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and any Arabic-speaking nation.

To apply, students must submit a college acceptance letter, official high school transcript, two references (one from an educator), and a personal statement of approximately 600 words. Participation in Saheli’s Fellowship Program is also required.

Saheli recognizes that some young women of color may hesitate to apply unless they meet every qualification perfectly. However, the organization encourages all interested candidates to apply, as they are committed to evaluating applicants holistically.

Applications are available at saheliboston.org/scholarship and must be submitted by June 30, 2024 to [email protected], [email protected], or mailed to Saheli, P.O. Box 1345, Burlington, MA 01803.

This scholarship presents a great opportunity for South Asian and Arab young women in Massachusetts to receive financial support towards their college education goals. Interested students are encouraged to review the eligibility criteria and application requirements

If you would like to support our scholarship initiative for next year, you can join Saheli at Nirbhaya on December 1st, 2024.

Saheli Scholarship Flyer 2024 (1)

Spiritual Leader Rajinder Singh To Host Community Event In New Jersey, Canada

Internationally recognized spiritual leader and best-selling author, Rajinder Singh will host an event in New Brunswick, New Jersey on July.5 and July.6.

On July.5 at 7 pm, he will present a talk in English entitled “Peace and Joy Await You Within” with Spanish translation. On July.6, at 3 pm, Singh will give a spiritual discourse in Hindi with English and Spanish translations. The program will take place at the Hyatt Regency New Brunswick Hotel. His talks will include detailed meditation instructions. Both programs are free and open to the public.

The spiritual leader will offer key insights and techniques as highlighted in his books: the Amazon bestsellers Detox the Mind, Inner and Outer Peace through Meditation, and Empowering Your Soul through Meditation, among others. He will demonstrate how this practice of inner awakening can enrich our lives physically, emotionally, and spiritually, providing a framework for peace and happiness to impact not only our own lives but also those of our families, colleagues, communities, and beyond.

As the head of Science of Spirituality, a global spiritual organization dedicated to transforming lives through meditation, Singh travels the globe, teaching people how they can uncover the treasures of spirituality within themselves with a practical method of meditation. He emphasizes that building a peaceful world begins with the first foundation stone — ourselves.

Singh’s contributions to world peace span decades, and he has been honored by many institutions for his efforts to bring people of all nations, cultures, and traditions together.

He has been a featured speaker on many occasions, including the Millennium World Peace Summit and the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations, where he led an audience of thousands in meditation at the Cathedral of St John the Divine. Additionally, he has served as a keynote speaker at the United Nations, delivering a talk on “Building Bridges through Meditation”.

He will offer key insights and techniques on finding peace and joy as highlighted in his books. Singh’s Global Meditation in Place programs, simulcast weekly throughout the world, started during the pandemic and continue to enhance the lives of tens of thousands.

5 Million Indian Americans Live in the US

The number of Indians living in the US has grown to 5 million in 2023, representing a 50 percent increase since 2010, a new report by Indiaspora, a California-based non-profit highlighted.

The report titled, Indiaspora Impact Report: Small Community, Big Contributions, compiled by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), is the first in a series examining the impact of the Indian diaspora in the United States, focusing on public service, business, culture, and innovation. The report not only presents compelling statistics but also profiles inspiring individuals who exemplify the diaspora’s contributions across various sectors.

As the second-largest migrant group in the US, Indian-Americans, with their young and highly educated demographic, have significantly influenced American life. At a time when immigration is a contentious issue, Indian-Americans have become one of the most influential immigrant groups in the country.

Philanthropy

Indian American households contribute $1.5 to $2 billion annually to various causes, the report found. “Since 2008, individuals of Indian origin have donated $3 billion to US universities, including 65+ donations of $1M+ to 40+ universities,” it states. “Notable donations include: $2 billion by Amar Bose to MIT and $140 million by Rajan Kilachand to Boston University.”

“Indian Americans account for only 1.5 percent of the US population, yet they continue to have an outsized and positive impact across different aspects of US society,” said MR Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora, a nonprofit organization of global Indian diaspora leaders. “Indian American-driven innovation flows to the country’s bottom line and is laying the groundwork for the next phase of economic growth.”

US economy

16 Fortune 500 companies are led by CEOs of Indian origin. “Ranging from Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, who traveled on a plane for the very first time when he came to the US to attend Stanford, to Reshma Kewalramani, the CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, who migrated at the age of 12 and went on to study medicine at Boston University,” the report states.

Another key finding in the report is that Indian-Americans have co-founded 11 percent unicorns (72 out of 648) in the US in 2023. These have a combined valuation of $195 billion, employing over 55,000 individuals.

“These startups are solving a diverse range of problems. For instance, Hari Balakrishnan’s Cambridge Mobile Telematics aims to make America’s roads safer, while Gaurab Chakrabarti’s Solugen is decarbonizing industrial processes,” the report highlights.

In addition to this, Indian-Americans pay 6 percent of all US taxes.

Science and innovation

Members of the diaspora represent more than 10 percent of the National Institute of Health (NIH) grants and US patents, as well as hold significant positions in academia.

“In 2023, Indian-origin scientists were part of research groups at the forefront of innovation,” it says. “The share of US patents with a co-inventor of Indian origin also grew fivefold from about 2 percent in 1975 to 10 percent in 2019.”

Some Indian-origin researchers achieved great feat. While Navin Varadarajan’s work in immunotherapy offers hope to cancer patients, Subra Suresh, former director of the National Science Foundation, has patented crucial biomedical devices that transform healthcare practices worldwide.

Some individuals are even contributing to shaping tomorrow’s global leaders.

“Approximately 22,000 faculty members of Indian origin each at US higher education institutions — 2.6 percent of all full-time faculty. Figures like: Neeli Bendapudi, the first woman and the first person of color to serve as Penn State’s President; and Arun Majumdar, the inaugural dean of Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, whose pioneering work in energy research is equipping students to tackle climate change, embodying the academic influence of the diaspora.”

Government and Public Policy

Over 150 Indian Americans are currently in serving in senior administration positions accounting for 6.2 percent of the total positions. Kamala Harris, whose mother hails from India, created history as the first woman to be sworn in as Vice President in 2021 and is the highest ranking Indian American in the United States.

“Indian-origin persons account for 3 percent of leadership in government agencies like the NSF, CDC, EPA. Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan serves as the 15th director of the US National Science Foundation since 2020,” the report says.

Public Health

Indian American physicians are highly sought after in the United States, with every one in seven Americans being treated by them. They make up 10 percent of all physicians in the US but serve approximately 30 percent of patients, the report highlighted.

Dr Vivek Murthy, the 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the US, is the first Surgeon General of Indian descent

Food and culture

Interestingly, about 3 percent of Michelin Guide USA restaurants feature Indian cuisine. “There is a rising popularity of drinks like turmeric latte and chai, as well as the celebration of festivals such as Diwali and Holi,” the report says.

From 2015 to 2023, 96 Indian movies grossed over $1 million in North America, and $340 million collectively. Additionally, Indian-origin artists have won 10 prestigious awards since 2015 across the prestigious and sought-after Oscars, Golden Globes, and Grammy Awards.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Indiaspora founder M.R. Rangaswami, said, “Indian Americans account for only 1.5 percent of the US population, yet they continue to have an outsized and positive impact across different aspects of US society. Indian American-driven innovation flows to the country’s bottom line and is laying the groundwork for the next phase of economic growth.”

Ashwin Ramaswami Wants To Talk About Religion More, Not Less

(RNS) — Whether studying computer science at Stanford or technology law at Georgetown, working for the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or, as now, running for Georgia’s state Senate, Ashwin Ramaswami has always made sure to prioritize four things every day: morning hatha yoga practice and three daily meditations — morning, noon and evening.

Ashwin Ramaswami’s state Senate campaign carries with it broader national themes of election protection and Hindus’ emerging presence in American politics.

The 24-year-old Hindu Indian American and Democrat is running against Republican incumbent Shawn Still for the 48th District in the Georgia Senate. While local in the sense of the issues the candidates are running on, the race has broader national themes of election protection — not least because Still, who was indicted along with former President Donald Trump on allegations of interfering in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia — and Hindus’ emergence as a presence in American politics.

“Because my opponent was one of the folks whose actions led to what happened on Jan. 6,” said Ramaswami, “there’s this broader idea that we want to protect democracy, and we need people who can speak truth to power.”

It was while he was working for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to protect elections that Ramaswami learned his own state senator had been indicted. “I was among a small team working to protect elections,” said Ramaswami. “And here was this person, representing my area, doing the opposite.”

Born to South Indian immigrants in Johns Creek, Georgia, a suburb north of Atlanta, Ramaswami grew up with the juxtaposition of computers and faith, with parents who worked in information technology and belonged to the local Hindu community. While learning to code in high school, he also taught Sunday school, and at Stanford, while earning a computer science degree, he learned Sanskrit, the language of many Hindu sacred texts. At Georgetown, he helped raise $100,000 to establish an endowment for the university’s dharmic programs.

Ramaswami’s meditation and yoga habits began in high school, when he started his practice every morning at 4 a.m. “That really changed my life,” he said. “It showed me the value of discipline, but it also gave me my own purpose in life, which was to better understand my own tradition and who I am.”

Seva, the Hindu concept of service, helped inspire him to run for office, and he thinks faith has much to add to politics, which he thinks of as a way to change hearts and minds. Religion should not be overlooked as a means to achieve that, he said, pointing to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as role models.

Interfaith dialogue and religious literacy, too, are critical for healthy communities. “Too often our communities are isolated,” said Ramaswami. “People from different countries or religions mostly keep to themselves and don’t talk to each other as much. Through interfaith work, we realize people share a lot of the same values and face the same challenges.”

One of Ramaswami’s priorities is well-being, physical, mental and spiritual. He hopes to dedicate resources for the community’s spiritual and emotional well-being and find ways for the public school system to create community.

“I think everyone, regardless of what religion they are, is always thinking about ‘what’s my purpose in life,’” said Ramaswami. “A society which doesn’t provide avenues for investigating those questions is not going to be a successful society.”

He wants to bring this missing element to politics. “When role models are openly talking about values, religion and what matters to them, that will help the next generation and everyone to make sure that they’re spiritually fulfilled as well,” he said.

Indian Americans, the largest group of South Asian Americans in the country, historically have had little representation in American politics, but their numbers are on the rise in Congress, beginning with the 2013 election of Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu House member, and on the executive level with Kamala Harris’ vice presidency and Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley’s 2024 presidential campaigns. Organizations like Indian American Impact have been established in recent years to elevate the voices of Indian Americans.

“Since Impact was founded in 2016, representation of our communities has increased from approximately 50 elected officials to more than 300 nationwide,” said an Impact spokesperson.

The increase is driven by several converging factors, according to Impact. The children of the first large wave of South Asian immigrants from the 1960s and 1970s are now awakening to their political power, reaching an age where they can leverage resources and opportunities necessary to run for office. As more and more leaders step up to run for office, they inspire others to follow suit.

“The growth of our communities as a voting bloc and their influence on American politics have also motivated many to run,” the spokesperson added, “as they’re driven by a desire to serve their community and supported by its collective strength.”

Hindus only make up about 1% of Georgia’s population, according to Pew Research Center, but 30% of the voting population of Ramaswami’s state Senate District 48 is described as Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander, half of them South Asian. Last year, Georgia’s General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Hinduphobia, and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp established Hindu Heritage Month.

District 48’s recent history reflects this increasing diversity. In 2018, Iranian American Zahra Karinshak won the seat, and in 2020, the district elected Chinese American Michelle Au. Both are Democrats. But after the 2020 redistricting cycle, District 48 was redrawn and Still was elected in 2022. Local political observers said Ramaswami nonetheless has a chance come November.

“This is potentially now a swing district,” said Georgia state Rep. Sam Park, who has endorsed Ramaswami. “Someone of Ashwin’s caliber has a fighting chance of beating this fake elector.”

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, said District 48 appeals to ethnically diverse, younger newcomers with its good schools, green space and Atlanta’s strong job market. He predicts the district will become more Democratic over the next decade due to the changing demographics.

If Ramaswami doesn’t win this year, he might have a much better chance in 2026. “He might be able to flip this district back,” said Bullock. “There’s a chance.”

Dr. Rajesh Mohan Wins Republican Primary  in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District

Dr. Rajesh Mohan, an experienced physician leader and a successful entrepreneur, humbly accepts his victory in the Republican Primary for New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. Dr. Mohan will now face a Socialist Democrat Herb Conaway, in the upcoming November election.

Dr. Rajesh Mohan is the first Indian-American and first Physician to have won the Republican nomination from New Jersey for US Congress.

Dr. Rajesh Mohan’s candidacy is built on a vision of a stronger, more secure America. With a distinguished career as a quadruple board-certified interventional cardiologist with an MBA and a proven successful track record of leadership, Dr. Mohan brings a wealth of experience, passion and a commitment to public service.

“I am honored and grateful for the support I have received from the residents of NJ’s 3rd Congressional District,” said Dr. Rajesh Mohan. “I am determined to bring solutions to our nation’s critical issues. Unlike my Socialist Democrat opponent’s support of open borders and illegal immigration, I will work to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration. Unlike my Socialist Democrat opponent, I will make healthcare patient-centric, not profit-centric and decrease healthcare costs. Unlike my Socialist Democrat opponent’s incompetence in healthcare, instead of bankrupting Social Security and Medicare, I will preserve and protect them. Unlike the socialist policies of making regulations and pushing paper by my Democratic opponent, I will cut regulations, incentivize businesses and keep jobs at home. Unlike my Democrat opponent who is weak on Israel, the Jewish people will have in me a strong and loud voice in Congress.”

As Dr. Mohan prepares for the general election, he emphasizes that all the issues that he is strong on and will fight to bring common sense solutions to are issues that all Americans want – Republicans, Independents and Democrats.

“I believe in the profound strength of empathy and that the power of Good grows exponentially. I am more than ready for the big fights ahead for the good of the people. I invite all residents of Burlington, Monmouth and Mercer counties in NJ’s 3rd District to join us in the Good fight, the Big fight and help build a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.”

For more information about Dr. Rajesh Mohan’s campaign, please visit MohanForUSCongress.com or follow us on social media.

Varanasi: Back to the Future of India

If the people of India were asked about their preferred tryst with destiny, what would they say? Hoping to find an uninterrupted connection with ancient India, I arrived in Varanasi last spring and discovered so much more. In the 2nd century BCE Varanasi (and neighboring Sarnath), the capital city of the ancient kingdom of Kashi, attracted and cultivated faith pluralism, multi-disciplinary and open discourse, commerce, and trade rivaling that of a modern metropolis anywhere in the world today. Three hundred years before Pericles and Athenian democracy, ancient Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges, surrounded by quiet woodland where deer and peacocks roamed wild, served as the beacon of enlightenment.

Sarnath was embraced by Siddhartha Gautama, and it is where he delivered his first sermon in 6th century BCE. Though weathered by time and disrepair, the Varanasi I witnessed was still scintillating as a microcosm of today’s India and breathtaking in divine inspiration.

A city of temples, enchanted ghats, brightly painted wooden boats plying the sacred Ganges, seven priests lifting in unison fairy lights to Ganga Aarti every day at dawn and at dusk. Yet, all coexisting seamlessly with numerous mosques, churches, and Buddhist temples built by Japan, Thailand, Tibet, and other Buddhist nations. A people living a heightened spirituality among mundane domesticity, the city offers a temple for Mother India that was commissioned by Mahatma Gandhi.

Varanasi’s distinct neighborhoods are mapped according to the diverse heritage of congregants from each Indian State from Bengal to Gujarat to Telangana to Punjab.

Varanasi symbolizes a multi-faith nation thriving in unison and a Hindu way of life that is unadulterated and yet perfectly adept at modernizing. Not included among India’s economic hub cities, Varanasi, the de facto heartland, remains untouched by the hyper-paced modernization that is underway in other parts of India. Unknown to Varanasi is the identity crisis afflicting India’s large cities and their conflict with Westernization.

During my visit to Varanasi, I indulged in conversations that stoked my imagination of what is possible in India’s future. Heartened by the sophisticated and global perspective of those that I met, I came away with an understanding of the average Varanasi resident’s aspirations, which is gainful employment and a modest standard of living in their hometown. This should be the nominal expectation of a free people, but it stands in stark contrast with the heightened expectations of the globetrotting Indian diaspora.

Disconnected from the day-to-day travails of India’s multitude, the diaspora’s shared discourse is India’s preeminence as a global power, while overlooking the investments and market reforms necessary to achieve that. What then, does a road map to prosperity look like that matches the expectations of the people I interacted with in Varanasi?

First, simulating the export-driven Chinese growth narrative of the last thirty years that plowed its profits into domestic mega infrastructure projects and mercantilism abroad is not the best fit for India. Inspired by their tradition, but modern in execution, the average Indian appears to prefer economic growth that is local rather than a nationwide scale up.

Indeed, some Varanasi residents were vexed by the clean-up campaign and the construction of an expressway connecting their airport to the city’s hotel district, which showcased the city to the recent G20 summiteer. Creating few local jobs, the project primarily benefited politically connected out-of-state contractors.

Second, despite the strides made in lifting 500 million poor into a burgeoning middle class and some in the middle class into stratospheric wealth, prosperity remains inaccessible to the vast swath of Indians. This was palpable in Varanasi during my visit. Additionally, key economic indicators reported in 2023, both by the Indian government and by the World Bank, point to the disparities as well as the challenges that lie ahead. The country simply has not produced enough jobs in order for a large cross section of its population to be gainfully employed.

On the other hand, India’s economy has the potential to benefit from a significant “demographic dividend” – the average age of the population being only 25 years. Thus, government policies that impede private sector job growth may stand in the way of realizing this benefit.

Currently only about half of India’s population is employed, which is at a lower percentage than the global labor force participation rate at 65% and a Chinese rate of 76%. Additionally, India’s 10% unemployment rate accounting for those that are in the workforce is significantly higher than most developing countries. To wit, India’s 2023 GDP at $3.7 trillion, the fifth largest in the world, is no reason for celebration, as India also has a population of 1.4 billion, the world’s largest.

Third, propelling the economy at the 9-11% rate experienced by China for three decades will require bolder market reform. Perhaps what is needed is a second phase of the ambitious reforms undertaken by the Indian government in the 1990s and early 2000s, which dramatically expanded the private markets and made modern India possible. Today, there is an uptick in foreign investments into India as global investors flee China’s geopolitical risk; however, the same investors have diversified their relocation to multiple smaller countries instead of just choosing India.

India is unable to prevail in this competition despite its significant domestic market, a growing skilled workforce, and the largest working age population. Nevertheless, the current flux in the global supply chain is an opportunity for India, provided that priority is given to local economies such as Varanasi (not just a few big cities) and small business growth (rather than a few large monopolies), both of which are the economic lifeline for a majority of Indians.

Visiting Varanasi, I have two takeaways. The infectious hopefulness of the people despite the day-to-day difficulties they face and the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth who are not willing to limit their dreams to the legacy of the previous generation. This, in and of itself, builds a nation that has long envisioned.

Its tryst with destiny. Yet, despite the gift of a magnificent heritage, India’s potential has failed to materialize in parity with the enlightenment of its past. But then again, the India of tomorrow is still unfolding and that is something to look forward to.

(Sue (Sutapa) Ghosh Stricklett is an Indian American attorney. She practices national security law and defense technology trade at her Washington, DC law practice. She was appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as USAID Assistant Administrator, Asia. Her family has deep roots in Kolkata and in Murshidabad, West Bengal, which she has traced to the sixteenth century.)

India Triumphs Over USA in T20 World Cup, Securing Top Spot in Group A

India dominated the USA at the T20 Cricket World Cup, winning by seven wickets in New York on Wednesday. Despite an earlier historic victory against Pakistan, the USA could not replicate their success against the formidable Indian team, though they put up a strong fight.

India now leads Group A with six points, having won all three of their matches. The USA, with four points, sits in second place. The USA still has a chance to progress to the next round if they win their final group stage game against Ireland.

Early Indian Dominance

India quickly quashed any hopes of an upset after winning the toss and opting to field first at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York, a venue that has been favorable for bowlers throughout the tournament. Arshdeep Singh was given the new ball and struck immediately, dismissing USA’s opening batter Shayan Jahangir with the first delivery of the game, trapping him leg before wicket (LBW).

Singh continued his impressive start by taking the wicket of Andries Gous in the same over, putting India firmly in control. The USA struggled to build momentum after this early setback, as the Indian bowlers maintained their dominance. Despite a valiant effort from Nitish Kumar, who top-scored for the USA with 27 runs, the home team managed only 110-8 in their 20 overs.

Singh was the standout performer for India, taking four wickets for just nine runs in his four overs.

USA Battles Back

Chasing a modest target of 111, India was expected to achieve an easy victory. However, USA bowler Saurabh Netravalkar had other plans. He claimed the invaluable wicket of Virat Kohli, one of cricket’s greatest batters, on Kohli’s first ball. Netravalkar also dismissed Indian captain Rohit Sharma, sending jitters through the Indian camp.

Despite these early breakthroughs, Indian batters Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav steadied the innings with a solid partnership. Just when India seemed to be cruising towards the target, USA’s Ali Khan bowled out Pant for 18, reigniting hopes for the home team.

As the pressure mounted, dot balls began to accumulate, giving the USA a glimmer of hope. However, India’s resilience shone through as Yadav, alongside Shivam Dube, kept the scoreboard ticking. Yadav scored a crucial 50 runs, ensuring India stayed on course for victory.

A pivotal moment came when the USA was penalized for slow over rates, conceding five penalty runs to India. This penalty dented the USA’s hopes at a crucial juncture. Despite this setback, the USA can be proud of their spirited performance.

USA’s Spirit and Future Prospects

USA captain Aaron Jones expressed pride in his team’s effort, particularly the bowling unit. “I’m really proud of the bowling unit today,” Jones said post-match. He highlighted the importance of their growing fanbase, stating, “This is something that we’ve been talking about over the last couple of years, wanting more fans for USA cricket, so now is a time that we’re really enjoying it.”

The USA’s performance against India, despite the loss, showcased their potential and determination. Their ability to push a cricket powerhouse like India to the brink is a testament to their growing prowess in the sport. The upcoming match against Ireland will be crucial for the USA, as a win would secure their spot in the knockout stages and further establish their presence in international cricket.

India’s Formidable Position

India’s victory over the USA cements their position as the team to beat in Group A. Their all-around performance, led by Arshdeep Singh’s exceptional bowling, has set a high standard in the tournament. The team’s ability to handle pressure, as demonstrated in their chase against the USA, underscores their strength and depth.

With key players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma leading the team, and emerging talents like Suryakumar Yadav stepping up, India is well-positioned for a deep run in the World Cup. Their performance against the USA not only added valuable points but also showcased their ability to recover and adapt in challenging situations.

Looking Ahead

As the T20 World Cup progresses, both India and the USA have crucial matches ahead. For India, maintaining their winning streak will be essential to securing a top spot in the group and gaining a favorable position for the knockout stages. For the USA, the focus will be on harnessing their positive momentum and securing a vital victory against Ireland.

The excitement and competitiveness of the tournament have been highlighted by unexpected results and close matches, adding to the allure of the T20 format. Fans can look forward to more thrilling encounters as the teams vie for a place in the knockout rounds.

India’s triumph over the USA showcased their strength and adaptability, while the USA’s spirited performance demonstrated their growing potential in international cricket. Both teams have much to play for in the remaining matches, promising more exciting cricket action ahead.

Nate Silver Suggests Biden Should Consider Dropping Out of 2024 Race Amidst Record Low Approval Ratings

Nate Silver, the well-known election analyst and founder of “FiveThirtyEight,” suggested on Monday that President Biden’s recent disapproval ratings might prompt the Democratic frontrunner to reconsider his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election.

“But Biden just hit a new all-time low in approval (37.4%) at 538 yesterday. Dropping out would be a big risk. But there’s some threshold below which continuing to run is a bigger risk. Are we there yet? I don’t know. But it’s more than fair to ask,” Silver posted on Monday.

Silver argued that Democrats might have had a stronger position if Biden had decided against running for a second term earlier. This decision could have allowed for a more competitive primary process among various popular Democrats nationwide.

“What’s clearer IMO is that Democrats would have been better served if Biden had decided a year ago not to seek a second term, which would have allowed them to have some semblance of a primary process and give voters a say among the many popular Democrats across the country,” he wrote.

Highlighting the unique nature of the current political situation, Silver noted the improbability of an 81-year-old president seeking re-election amidst widespread concerns about his age and enduring high inflation.

“If I’d told you 10 years ago a president would seek re-election at 81 despite a supermajority of Americans having concerns about his age, and then we’d hit 8% inflation for 2 years, you wouldn’t be surprised he was an underdog for reelection. You’d be surprised it was even close!,” he said.

Silver also responded to critics who suggested he should focus more on former President Trump. He clarified that he also believes Trump should exit the race, noting the significant challenges Biden faces in a head-to-head comparison.

“‘Trump should drop out too!’ is such [a] weird dunk on people who are pointing out that Biden has big challenges. Yes, Trump should drop out! I agree! Biden would lose by 7 points [against a different candidate], but I agree, the Republican Party and the country would be better served by a different nominee.” Silver wrote.

Despite these concerns, Biden and some of his top advisors reportedly do not believe the negative poll numbers.

A recent Fox News Poll indicates a tight race between Trump and Biden in Virginia, a state Biden won by a significant margin in 2020.

The poll, released last Thursday, shows both Biden and Trump with 48% each in a head-to-head matchup in the Old Dominion State.

Global Poll Shows Higher Confidence in Biden Over Trump Despite Waning Faith in U.S. Democracy

People in 34 countries around the globe have expressed greater confidence in President Joe Biden than in his opponent, former President Donald Trump, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday. Despite this, there is growing skepticism about whether U.S. democracy serves as a suitable model for the rest of the world.

The survey found that a median of 43% in the surveyed nations trust Biden to handle world affairs appropriately, compared to 28% for Trump. Biden received more favorable assessments than Trump in 24 countries, while Trump led in Hungary and Tunisia. The two men were effectively tied in eight other countries.

The increased confidence in Biden comes amid a decline in global faith in U.S. democracy. While a median of 54% across the 34 countries polled view the U.S. positively, a median of four in ten believe that U.S. democracy was once a good example for other nations but no longer is. Only a median of 21% believe U.S. democracy remains a good example, with an almost equal share, 22%, saying it never has been. Since the spring of 2021, the only other time Pew asked this question, the share of those who believe U.S. democracy is a good example has fallen in eight countries, mostly in Europe.

“People just don’t see the U.S. political system as functioning very well,” said Richard Wike, director of global attitudes research for Pew. “People see the U.S. as really divided along partisan lines.”

There is a far smaller global divide between Trump and Biden. Confidence in Biden to do the right thing in world affairs has decreased since his first year in office but remains significantly higher than that of Trump, who had relatively low global ratings during his presidency. Biden’s lowest confidence ratings were for his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, with a median of 57% expressing no confidence in his approach.

A median of 39% in the surveyed countries approved of Biden’s handling of the war in Ukraine, with his highest ratings in European nations. Approximately four in ten were confident in his handling of China.

Of the five leaders rated in the survey, French President Emmanuel Macron had the highest level of confidence, just ahead of Biden, while Russian President Vladimir Putin received the lowest.

Confidence in Biden has waned in countries such as South Africa, Israel, and the U.K., but it remains consistently higher than that in Trump. Trump’s lowest ratings were in Europe, where more than eight in ten adults in France, Germany, and Sweden expressed no confidence in him. He also received poor ratings in Latin America.

Africa, which Wike noted tends to have positive views of U.S. presidents, registered some of Trump’s best numbers. Even in the two countries where Trump had higher confidence ratings than Biden, the numbers were still low. In Tunisia, for instance, only 17% expressed confidence in Trump.

Hungary is the other country where adults reported higher confidence in Trump than Biden, but the endorsement was tepid. Trump has embraced Hungary and its autocratic prime minister, Viktor Orbán, yet only 37% of Hungarians expressed confidence in Trump, compared to 24% for Biden.

The median confidence in Trump’s ability to do the right thing in world affairs was only slightly higher across the 34 countries than it was for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Key Voters in 2024: How American Catholics Could Decide the Presidential Election

As the 2024 presidential election looms, predictions suggest a tight race, positioning American Catholics as potential key voters. Catholics represent a significant voting bloc, almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, with white Catholics leaning Republican and Hispanic Catholics favoring Democrats. Their substantial presence in pivotal battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada amplifies their influence on the election outcome.

This demographic makeup renders Catholics a reliable barometer for electoral success, as they historically tend to vote for the winning candidate. Capturing the Catholic vote is often synonymous with securing the presidency.

Historically, Catholics were steadfast members of the Democratic coalition. This trend began in 1928 when New York Governor Al Smith, the first Catholic presidential candidate, was smeared with anti-Catholic propaganda by Protestant and Republican operatives, pushing Catholics towards the Democratic Party. Catholics subsequently supported Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal policies, deviating only to reelect Dwight Eisenhower for his second term in 1956. They resumed their Democratic allegiance by voting for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in 1960 and 1964, respectively.

Richard Nixon was the first to recognize an opportunity for Republicans to court Catholic voters. By 1968, many white Catholics had ascended to the middle class and moved to the suburbs, facing higher taxes and expressing opposition to affirmative action and school busing for integration. Ronald Reagan solidified this bond by adopting a pro-life stance in 1980, appealing to both Catholics and evangelical Christians.

In contemporary politics, Donald Trump taps into the same nativist sentiments that once targeted Catholic immigrants in the early 20th century. This appeal to many white Catholics reflects a disconnect from the discrimination faced by their forebears. Many working-class white Catholics in the Rust Belt, disillusioned by factory closures, feel abandoned by the Democrats.

Catholic bishops have largely aligned with the Republican Party, prioritizing the abortion issue. Despite Trump’s inconsistent stance on abortion, he appointed Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, a significant move for pro-life advocates. However, on issues like healthcare, immigration, environmental protection, and aid for the poor, bishops have criticized Republican policies and endorsed Democratic initiatives.

The bishops’ election-year document, “Faithful Citizenship,” underscores this dichotomy. It strongly emphasizes pro-life values while also advocating for the poor, though it has not been updated to reflect Pope Francis’ focus on global warming and environmental issues.

Unlike some prominent evangelical leaders, Catholic bishops refrain from endorsing candidates or parties. “You would never see a group of Catholic bishops praying over the president in the Oval Office.” According to the Pew Research Center, Catholics are less likely than other denominations to hear political messages from the pulpit. While some rogue bishops and priests garner media attention, most prefer to steer clear of political entanglements.

The reality is that few Catholics are swayed by the bishops’ pronouncements, even on abortion. Most laypeople have already formed their opinions. Political parties now bypass the bishops, targeting Catholics directly through political action groups supporting their candidates.

With the election expected to be as close as predicted, Catholics in swing states could be the decisive factor. Neither party can claim dominance over these voters, and a small shift in their support could determine the election’s outcome.

Several critical questions arise: Will anger and frustration push Catholics towards Trump, or will his authoritarian tendencies deter them? Will concerns about inflation and the economy drive their votes, or will they prefer stability with ongoing progress? Will they attribute current problems to the president or the “do nothing” Congress?

As the election approaches, the potential influence of Catholic voters remains a pivotal factor. Their historical voting patterns and evolving political alignments underscore their significance in a closely contested race. Both parties will need to carefully consider their appeals to this crucial demographic, recognizing the complex and varied concerns that drive Catholic voters.

India Celebrates Historic Victory as Puja Tomar Triumphs at UFC Louisville

In a groundbreaking victory for India, 28-year-old MMA fighter Puja Tomar triumphed at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on June 8. Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Tomar achieved a significant win against Brazil’s Rayanne Amanda dos Santos by split decision at UFC Louisville. Tomar has not only made history as the first Indian female fighter to sign with the UFC, but she is also the first Indian to secure a win in the championship.

The match was a high-energy, grueling three-round bout, with both fighters showing intense competition. Tomar displayed her dominance throughout, ultimately defeating Santos with a score of 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.

Securing her UFC contract last year, Tomar has demonstrated her capabilities as one of India’s premier women fighters on the global stage. Training at the Soma Fight Club in Bali, Indonesia, the Muzaffarnagar native, affectionately known as “The Cyclone”, achieved her remarkable victory more than a decade after the UFC officially allowed women to fight in 2013.

Tomar began her martial arts journey at the age of 12 following the death of her father, according to her UFC profile. She represented India in the World Wushu Championship and turned professional in 2013 after winning the MFN strawweight Championship. Her favorite grappling technique is the Heel Hook, and her preferred striking technique is the Side Kick.

In a significant victory for India, 28-year-old MMA fighter Puja Tomar secured a win at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on June 8. Originating from Uttar Pradesh, Tomar achieved a monumental win against Brazil’s Rayanne Amanda dos Santos by split decision at UFC Louisville. Tomar has made history as the first Indian female fighter to sign with UFC and the first Indian to win a bout in the championship.

The match unfolded in a fast-paced and grueling three-round bout, with both fighters going head-to-head. Tomar exhibited dominance throughout the fight, ultimately defeating Santos with a score of 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.

After securing her UFC contract last year, Tomar showcased her skills as one of India’s top women fighters on the world stage. Training at the Soma Fight Club in Bali, Indonesia, the Muzaffarnagar native, fondly known as “The Cyclone”, achieved her impressive victory over a decade after the UFC opened its doors to women fighters in 2013.

According to her UFC profile, Tomar started her martial arts journey at the age of 12 after losing her father. She represented India in the World Wushu Championship and became a professional fighter in 2013 after winning the MFN strawweight Championship. Her favorite grappling technique is the Heel Hook, while her preferred striking technique is the Side Kick.

In a historic win for India, 28-year-old MMA fighter Puja Tomar triumphed at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on June 8. From Uttar Pradesh, Tomar secured a monumental victory against Brazil’s Rayanne Amanda dos Santos by split decision at UFC Louisville. Tomar has made history, not only as the first Indian female fighter to join UFC but also as the first Indian to win a bout in the championship.

The match was a high-energy, grueling three-round bout with both fighters displaying intense competition. Tomar demonstrated dominance throughout, defeating Santos with a score of 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.

After securing her UFC contract last year, Tomar proved her skills as one of India’s premier women fighters on the global stage. Training at the Soma Fight Club in Bali, Indonesia, the Muzaffarnagar native, affectionately known as “The Cyclone”, achieved her remarkable victory more than a decade after the UFC officially opened its doors to women fighters in 2013.

Tomar started her martial arts journey at the age of 12 after the death of her father, according to her UFC profile. She represented India in the World Wushu Championship and became a professional fighter in 2013 after winning the MFN strawweight Championship. Her favorite grappling technique is the Heel Hook, and her preferred striking technique is the Side Kick.

In a landmark victory for India, 28-year-old MMA fighter Puja Tomar emerged triumphant at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on June 8. Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Tomar secured a significant win against Brazil’s Rayanne Amanda dos Santos by split decision at UFC Louisville. Tomar made history as the first Indian female fighter to sign with the UFC and the first Indian to win a bout in the championship.

The match was a high-energy, grueling three-round bout with both fighters showing intense competition. Tomar demonstrated dominance throughout, ultimately defeating Santos with a score of 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.

After securing her UFC contract last year, Tomar showcased her skills as one of India’s premier women fighters on the global stage. Training at the Soma Fight Club in Bali, Indonesia, the Muzaffarnagar native, affectionately known as “The Cyclone”, achieved her remarkable victory more than a decade after the UFC officially allowed women to fight in 2013.

According to her UFC profile, Tomar began her martial arts journey at the age of 12 following the death of her father. She represented India in the World Wushu Championship and turned professional in 2013 after winning the MFN strawweight Championship. Her favorite grappling technique is the Heel Hook, and her preferred striking technique is the Side Kick.

In a notable victory for India, 28-year-old MMA fighter Puja Tomar emerged victorious at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on June 8. From Uttar Pradesh, Tomar secured a significant win against Brazil’s Rayanne Amanda dos Santos by split decision at UFC Louisville. Tomar has made history as the first Indian female fighter to sign with UFC and the first Indian to win a bout in the championship.

The match was a high-energy, grueling three-round bout with both fighters displaying intense competition. Tomar exhibited dominance throughout, ultimately defeating Santos with a score of 30-27, 27-30, 29-28.

After securing her UFC contract last year, Tomar has demonstrated her capabilities as one of India’s premier women fighters on the global stage. Training at the Soma Fight Club in Bali, Indonesia, the Muzaffarnagar native, affectionately known as “The Cyclone”, achieved her remarkable victory more than a decade after the UFC opened its doors to women fighters in 2013.

Tomar began her martial arts journey at the age of 12 following the death of her father, according to her UFC profile. She represented India in the World Wushu Championship and turned professional in 2013 after winning the MFN strawweight Championship. Her favorite grappling technique is the Heel Hook, and her preferred striking technique is the Side Kick.

Telangana IT Minister Urges NRIs’ Contribution and Economic Growth Strategy

Duddilla Sridhar Babu, the IT minister of Telangana, emphasized the state’s proactive efforts in engaging NRIs, particularly those of Telugu origin, to contribute to the development of their respective regions and hometowns. Speaking to New India Abroad, Babu outlined plans to create platforms ensuring accountability for NRIs’ contributions: “We would like to create some platform. So, the benefits that NRIs would like to share with their own people will be given with proper audit and accountability.”

He highlighted the initiative taken by the former Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy to establish a US embassy in Hyderabad, simplifying visa processes for Telangana residents: “Previously, people from Telangana had to travel to Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, or Bengaluru for their visas, but they can now be obtained locally,” he noted.

Addressing the significant Telugu diaspora in the US, Babu urged their contribution in various forms, including intellectual property and financial support: “We are seeking their contribution in terms of kind, in terms of their intellectual property, in terms of their expertise. And if need be, if somebody wants to contribute in terms of money or in cash, they can give back to the region or the place where they hail from.”

Regarding economic policies, Babu, a Congress leader, affirmed the government’s commitment to Telangana’s economic progress. He underscored the continuity of progressive policies while introducing new initiatives to further enhance economic growth: “This is the confidence that we have been trying to instill in our investors in the state and who also become the stakeholders of our state’s economy.”

Babu outlined plans to replicate Hyderabad’s success across other districts and towns, promoting investment in tier 2 and tier 3 cities for holistic development: “The plan is to replicate Hyderabad’s success in other districts and towns, encouraging investors to set up operations in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, fostering a holistic development approach.”

Highlighting Telangana’s role in the global IT sector, Babu acknowledged the contribution of companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, whose operations in Hyderabad have significantly contributed to their global growth: “Most of the companies which have contributed to US growth too, we are also part and parcel of this growth.”

In the context of emerging technologies, Babu stressed the importance of embracing AI to avoid missed opportunities similar to the semiconductor industry: “AI is occupying a major role in times to come. So, we cannot miss that bus. We cannot miss that, just like we have missed the semiconductor bus.”

Reflecting on Hyderabad’s advantages over Bengaluru, Babu cited affordable living, reliable infrastructure for water and power, and efforts to decentralize growth across the city: “We have affordable living, quality of life is much better, you know, water, is never a problem, power is never a problem and when you see in some parts, the density of the population, especially the IT population, is high. Now we are concentrating on four corners of Hyderabad.”

He contrasted Hyderabad’s growth strategy with Bengaluru’s centralized development approach, emphasizing the need to learn from Bengaluru’s experiences: “When Bengaluru is losing its vitality, we are growing and we have learned many lessons in the process from Bengaluru too. Not to concentrate everything in one area or one city, but we are trying to concentrate in all parts of our state.”

Duddilla Sridhar Babu articulated Telangana’s strategic initiatives to leverage its diaspora’s strengths, promote economic growth, embrace technological advancements like AI, and ensure balanced regional development. His vision underscores the state’s ambition to emerge as a leader in inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Asia’s Billionaire Boom: Meet the Top 10 Wealthiest Individuals of 2024

As the global economy undergoes significant transformation, Asia has risen to prominence as a major center for wealth creation. The region now hosts some of the world’s wealthiest individuals, whose substantial contributions have significantly bolstered their nations’ economic prosperity. The net worth of these affluent individuals surged notably in FY 2023–24.

Below is a compilation of the ten wealthiest individuals in Asia as of May 2024. This list includes three individuals from India, with the majority being from China.

  1. Mukesh Ambani:

Mukesh Ambani is the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Limited, India’s most valuable company by market value. Under Ambani’s leadership, Reliance has diversified into refining, petrochemicals, retail, and telecommunications. Forbes has consistently ranked him as India’s richest person for the past decade.

  1. Gautam Adani:

Gautam Adani is the founder and chairman of the Adani Group, a multinational conglomerate headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. He diversified his business interests into trading metals, textiles, and agro-products. In 1988, he established Adani Exports, now known as Adani Enterprises, focusing on agriculture and power commodities. Securing the Mundra Port contract in 1995 marked a significant milestone for Adani. His strategic acquisition of Holcim’s Indian assets in 2022 made him India’s second-largest cement producer.

  1. Zhong Shanshan:

Zhong Shanshan, the visionary behind Nongfu Spring, a leading bottled water company, is currently the third richest man in Asia and the wealthiest individual in China. Born in 1963, Zhong started in the beverage industry in the 1980s and founded Nongfu Spring in 1996. The company has since become one of China’s largest beverage companies, offering products like water, juice, and tea. He also significantly influences Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy, a key producer of COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

  1. Prajogo Pangestu:

Prajogo Pangestu is the wealthiest individual in Indonesia, known for his ventures in energy and petrochemicals. He began with a timber company, but his enterprise, PT Barito Pacific, has grown to be a leader in petrochemicals, plastic production, mining, and thermal energy in Indonesia. His wealth saw a notable rise in 2023 when two of his group’s companies, Petrindo Jaya Kreasi and Barito Renewables Energy, went public.

  1. Colin Zheng Huang:

Colin Zheng Huang is the founder and chairman of Pinduoduo, a Chinese e-commerce company. Born in 1973, Huang began his career in technology before founding Pinduoduo in 2015. The company has quickly become one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms, focusing on social commerce and group buying. Though Huang stepped down as chairman a few years ago, he retains approximately 28% of the company shares. He also founded the online gaming company Xinyoudi and another e-commerce platform, Ouku.com.

  1. Zhang Yiming:

Zhang Yiming is the founder and chairman of ByteDance, the Chinese tech giant best known for creating TikTok. Born in 1983, Zhang began in the technology sector and launched ByteDance in 2012. The company has grown into one of China’s largest tech companies, focusing on social media, e-commerce, and artificial intelligence, boasting a global user base exceeding 1 billion.

  1. Ma Huateng:

Ma Huateng, also known as Pony Ma, founded Tencent Holdings, a leading Chinese technology company. Starting his career in the tech industry, Ma established Tencent in 1998. The company has grown to be one of China’s largest, specializing in social media, e-commerce, and gaming. He oversees WeChat, a messaging app with 1.3 billion users, and has significant stakes in global gaming, including Epic Games. Ma’s influence extends to investments in companies like Tesla and Spotify. He recently announced plans for Tencent to develop new artificial intelligence technologies to benefit humanity.

  1. Savitri Jindal and Family:

Om Prakash Jindal and his wife Savitri Jindal founded Jindal Steel and Power, an Indian steel and power company. Following OP Jindal’s passing, the company diversified into power generation and real estate. Savitri Jindal, the richest woman in India, continues her husband’s legacy, supporting sectors such as education and healthcare.

  1. Tadashi Yanai and Family:

Tadashi Yanai is the founder and chairman of Fast Retailing, a prominent Japanese retail company. Born in 1949, Yanai began his career in retail and founded Fast Retailing in 1963. The company has grown to become one of Japan’s largest retail firms, specializing in fashion and lifestyle products. Yanai drives Fast Retailing, which includes brands like Theory, Helmut Lang, J Brand, and GU, with Uniqlo as its flagship brand. Uniqlo operates over 2,400 stores in 25 countries. In October 2023, Uniqlo opened its first store in Mumbai, India, aiming to establish itself in the competitive local and international market.

  1. Li Ka-Shing:

Li Ka-Shing, born in 1928, founded CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Asset Holdings, two conglomerates based in Hong Kong. His career began in the textile industry, leading to the establishment of CK Hutchison Holdings in 1950. The company has diversified into sectors such as real estate, energy, and telecommunications. Starting with $6,500 in savings and loans from relatives, he launched Cheung Kong Plastics at age 21. Through the Li Ka Shing Foundation, he has donated over $3.8 billion to various causes, primarily in Greater China. Recently, CK Hutchison Holdings and Vodafone Group agreed to merge their British telecommunications businesses, creating the UK’s largest mobile operator.

OFBJP President Lauds BJP’s Historic Election Win and Advocates for NRI Commission to Address Diaspora Concerns

On June 4, the President of the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) expressed his satisfaction with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) performance in India’s Lok Sabha elections. He praised the significant achievements of the OFBJP and its ongoing efforts to drum up support for the party led by Narendra Modi abroad.

Prasad highlighted the historical importance of this victory, noting that Modi is poised to be sworn in for a third consecutive term, an event not seen since 1962. “We are happy for many reasons. The BJP USA is the largest party, securing 240 seats, which is remarkable considering the anti-incumbency factors that typically come into play after two terms,” Prasad said in an interview with New India Abroad.

Addressing the specific issues faced by the Indian diaspora, Prasad elaborated on the challenges non-resident Indians (NRIs) encounter, particularly concerning their property in India. He suggested forming a commission to tackle these issues. “When NRIs visit India, they often face difficulties with local authorities who delay their work, knowing they will not stay long,” he explained. To address this, Prasad proposed the establishment of an NRI commission. “We proposed this idea to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and she liked it. We will push for it to be realized,” he stated.

The proposed NRI commission would primarily address problems such as property disputes and banking difficulties. To resolve issues, “a central commission can issue letters to local authorities to ensure follow-up even if the NRI returns abroad,” Prasad explained. He stressed that NRIs should have one point of contact to expedite communication and resolution.

Beyond property issues, Prasad pointed out other concerns, including the need for digital solutions to replace outdated practices like signature verification in banks. “In the digital age, it’s unnecessary to rely on decades-old signatures. An NRI commission can address these minor but significant issues,” he noted.

Prasad also commended the relentless efforts of OFBJP members and volunteers, who organized various activities and rallies across the United States to support Modi and the BJP. “We worked tirelessly every weekend, sacrificing time with our families to ensure our programs were successful,” Prasad remarked.

One notable event was the “Modi ka Parivar March,” which took place in over sixteen cities, including Atlanta, Washington D.C., the Bay Area, and Houston. This event exemplifies how the OFBJP, under Prasad’s leadership, has played a crucial role in coordinating large-scale events and rallying support for the BJP. The BJP’s influence and standing among the Indian diaspora in the US have been significantly boosted by these efforts.

Prasad expressed optimism about India’s future during Modi’s third term, emphasizing the importance of ongoing reforms and enhancing India’s global reputation. He praised Modi’s economic policies, citing how India’s economy has grown to become the fifth largest in the world, with expectations to become the third largest soon. Prasad reiterated Modi’s vision for India to become a world leader by 2047, stating, “Modi ji’s agenda is clear: work 24/7 to make India a Vishwaguru (world leader) by 2047.”

The President of the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) conveyed his approval of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) performance in India’s Lok Sabha elections on June 4. He also praised the numerous accomplishments of the OFBJP and its continuous efforts to gather support for Narendra Modi’s party internationally.

Prasad emphasized the historical significance of this victory, as Modi is set to be sworn in for a third consecutive term, an event not seen since 1962. “We are happy for many reasons. The BJP USA is the largest party, securing 240 seats, which is remarkable considering the anti-incumbency factors that typically come into play after two terms,” Prasad said in an interview with New India Abroad.

Focusing on the specific issues of the Indian diaspora, Prasad detailed the challenges faced by non-resident Indians (NRIs), particularly with regard to their Indian property, and suggested the creation of a commission to address these concerns. “When NRIs visit India, they often face difficulties with local authorities who delay their work, knowing they will not stay long,” he explained. To address this, Prasad proposed the establishment of an NRI commission. “We proposed this idea to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and she liked it. We will push for it to be realized,” he stated.

The proposed NRI commission would primarily address problems such as property disputes and banking difficulties. To resolve issues, “a central commission can issue letters to local authorities to ensure follow-up even if the NRI returns abroad,” Prasad explained. He stressed that NRIs should have one point of contact to expedite communication and resolution.

In addition to property issues, Prasad highlighted other concerns, including the need for digital solutions to outdated practices like signature verification in banks. “In the digital age, it’s unnecessary to rely on decades-old signatures. An NRI commission can address these minor but significant issues,” he noted.

Prasad commended the relentless efforts of OFBJP members and volunteers, who organized various activities and rallies across the United States to garner support for Modi and the BJP. “We worked tirelessly every weekend, sacrificing time with our families to ensure our programs were successful,” Prasad remarked.

The “Modi ka Parivar March” took place in more than sixteen cities, including Atlanta, Washington D.C., the Bay Area, Houston, and the Bay Area, and was just one example of how the OFBJP, led by Prasad, has played a significant role in coordinating massive events and rallying BJP support. The BJP’s standing and influence among the Indian diaspora in the US have been greatly enhanced by these endeavors.

Prasad spoke highly of India’s prospects during Modi’s third term in office, voicing optimism about the country’s future while stressing the importance of ongoing reforms and boosting India’s reputation abroad.

He praised Modi’s economic policies, mentioning how India’s economy has grown to become the fifth biggest in the world and is expected to third largest in the near future. Prasad reiterated Modi’s vision for India to become a world leader by 2047, stating, “Modi ji’s agenda is clear: work 24/7 to make India a Vishwaguru (world leader) by 2047.”

The President of the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) conveyed his approval of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) performance in India’s Lok Sabha elections on June 4. He also praised the numerous accomplishments of the OFBJP and its continuous efforts to gather support for Narendra Modi’s party internationally.

Prasad emphasized the historical significance of this victory, as Modi is set to be sworn in for a third consecutive term, an event not seen since 1962. “We are happy for many reasons. The BJP USA is the largest party, securing 240 seats, which is remarkable considering the anti-incumbency factors that typically come into play after two terms,” Prasad said in an interview with New India Abroad.

Focusing on the specific issues of the Indian diaspora, Prasad detailed the challenges faced by non-resident Indians (NRIs), particularly with regard to their Indian property, and suggested the creation of a commission to address these concerns. “When NRIs visit India, they often face difficulties with local authorities who delay their work, knowing they will not stay long,” he explained. To address this, Prasad proposed the establishment of an NRI commission. “We proposed this idea to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and she liked it. We will push for it to be realized,” he stated.

The proposed NRI commission would primarily address problems such as property disputes and banking difficulties. To resolve issues, “a central commission can issue letters to local authorities to ensure follow-up even if the NRI returns abroad,” Prasad explained. He stressed that NRIs should have one point of contact to expedite communication and resolution.

In addition to property issues, Prasad highlighted other concerns, including the need for digital solutions to outdated practices like signature verification in banks. “In the digital age, it’s unnecessary to rely on decades-old signatures. An NRI commission can address these minor but significant issues,” he noted.

Prasad commended the relentless efforts of OFBJP members and volunteers, who organized various activities and rallies across the United States to garner support for Modi and the BJP. “We worked tirelessly every weekend, sacrificing time with our families to ensure our programs were successful,” Prasad remarked.

The “Modi ka Parivar March” took place in more than sixteen cities, including Atlanta, Washington D.C., the Bay Area, Houston, and the Bay Area, and was just one example of how the OFBJP, led by Prasad, has played a significant role in coordinating massive events and rallying BJP support. The BJP’s standing and influence among the Indian diaspora in the US have been greatly enhanced by these endeavors.

Prasad spoke highly of India’s prospects during Modi’s third term in office, voicing optimism about the country’s future while stressing the importance of ongoing reforms and boosting India’s reputation abroad.

He praised Modi’s economic policies, mentioning how India’s economy has grown to become the fifth biggest in the world and is expected to third largest in the near future. Prasad reiterated Modi’s vision for India to become a world leader by 2047, stating, “Modi ji’s agenda is clear: work 24/7 to make India a Vishwaguru (world leader) by 2047.”

Superbug Strain Discovered in ISS Raises Concerns for Astronaut Health

NASA’s Indian-origin astronaut Sunita Williams and her fellow crew members aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are facing a new concern: the discovery of a superbug within the station’s confines.

Scientists have identified a multi-drug resistant bacterium named ‘Enterobacter bugandensis,’ which has flourished in the enclosed environment of the ISS. This strain of bacteria, often referred to as a ‘superbug,’ poses a threat as it infects the respiratory system.

Contrary to expectations of extraterrestrial life, these “spacebugs” are essentially hitchhikers that accompanied astronauts to the ISS. This revelation presents a new challenge for astronauts like Ms. Williams and Astronaut Barry Eugene “Butch” Wilmore, who arrived at the ISS aboard the Boeing Starliner spacecraft on June 6, 2024, to conduct tests on the new spacecraft.

While debris and micrometeorites have traditionally been the primary concerns at the ISS, the evolution of bugs over the 24 years of continuous habitation is now a significant worry.

NASA recently reported on their study of strains of E. bugandensis isolated from the ISS, noting that 13 strains of this bacterium were found, all displaying multi-drug resistance. These ISS-isolated strains exhibited genetic and functional changes under stress, distinguishing them from their Earth counterparts. Moreover, they were able to persist within the ISS environment and coexist with other microorganisms, potentially aiding their survival.

Leading the research is Dr. Kasthuri Venkateswaran from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who incidentally pursued Marine Microbiology at Annamalai University in Chennai before joining NASA. Dr. Venkateswaran collaborated with Professor Karthik Raman from the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, along with other researchers, to delve into the implications of these findings. Their work, published in the journal Microbiome, highlights the unique health challenges astronauts face in altered immune conditions during space missions, underscoring the importance of understanding the microbial landscape aboard the ISS.

Dr. Venkateswaran emphasizes the significance of their research, stating that it reveals how benign microorganisms aid the survival of opportunistic pathogens like E. bugandensis in the harsh conditions of space. This knowledge, he suggests, could inform strategies to counteract such pathogens and safeguard astronaut health.

NASA stresses the uniqueness of closed human-built environments like the ISS, which subject microorganisms to extreme conditions such as microgravity, radiation, and elevated carbon dioxide levels. Exploring microbial dynamics in these environments, the research aims to develop effective preventative measures for astronaut health.

Professor Raman reflects on the resilience of microbes in challenging environments, highlighting the ongoing mysteries surrounding their growth.

The discovery of a superbug within the ISS presents a new frontier of concern for NASA and its astronauts, underscoring the need for continued research and vigilance in maintainingthe health and safety of space travelers.

Former Google Engineer Challenges NRIs to Explain Why They Don’t Live in India Despite Praising It

Debarghya (Deedy) Das, an Indian-origin former Google engineer, has sparked a lively debate on social media with his recent posts calling on NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) to explain why they choose not to reside in India. Das, in a series of tweets on X (formerly Twitter), suggested that NRIs who commend India should feel “obligated” to justify why they are not living in their home country. He emphasized that it is acceptable for NRIs to have personal reasons for not wanting to live in India, but they should be transparent about these reasons instead of acting as though India is the “best place” in the world while living abroad.

“When Indians living abroad talk about how bustling the scene in India, they should feel obligated to answer why they are not living there,” Mr. Das wrote. He elaborated in subsequent posts, “To clarify, it’s okay to think India is growing but it’s not at a place you’d live because of, say, air pollution. I just think you should clarify the why. It’s disingenuous to try to act like it’s the best place in the world to be if you’re not in it.”

He further added, “And this isn’t about not feeling proud and cheering on your own country. You should do that. Do that. But be honest about why you’re not there.”

Das’s posts, shared just a day prior, have garnered significant attention, amassing over 2.2 million views. The comments section of his tweet became a forum where some users shared the pros and cons of living in India, while others discussed their reasons for moving abroad.

One user shared their experiences, “Have asked this question to few of my ‘homesick NRIs’ and almost always they resort to reasons like reservations, pollution or corruption.. When I follow up with ‘then how can u say the scene is exciting’ the response generally is: do you know how difficult to hire a maid here.”

Another user highlighted personal preferences, “Coz I prefer peace over bustling. Love to walk on the greens of my backyard while breathing in clean air that I cannot afford even with a 1cr package in India.”

A different perspective was offered by a user who commented, “I have zero respect for NRIs talking about India. They left it for better things. Enjoy. Don’t look back.”

Yet another user questioned the logic of Das’s argument, “What logic is that? And why would it apply only to Indians living abroad? By that logic, if anyone living in India says something good about Delhi or Mumbai they should also feel obligated to answer why they are not living there!”

Some users provided more analytical responses. One user explained, “Pollution for some, societal restrictions and norms for others. Women feel free in USA. Caste equations make some people sick in India. Lack of adequate salaries for some. Although this is changing fast. These are reasons I have been able to collect over the years.”

The discussion highlights a recurring theme among the Indian diaspora. NRIs often face a dichotomy: a deep-rooted connection to their homeland and the benefits and conveniences of living abroad. Many NRIs express pride in India’s progress and cultural heritage, yet they also recognize the challenges that come with living in India, such as pollution, corruption, societal norms, and infrastructure issues.

Debarghya Das’s call for honesty brings to light the complexities involved in the decision to live abroad. For many, the choice is not a simple one and involves weighing numerous factors including career opportunities, quality of life, and personal freedoms. While Das’s posts might come across as challenging to some, they also open up a space for meaningful dialogue about the reasons behind the choices NRIs make.

His insistence on transparency is aimed at fostering a more genuine conversation about the realities of living in India versus abroad. It’s a call for NRIs to acknowledge both the positives and negatives of their home country and to be sincere about their reasons for staying away. This, in turn, can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the Indian diaspora’s experiences and perspectives.

The reactions to Das’s tweets reflect a wide range of sentiments, from agreement and shared experiences to criticism and counterarguments. This diversity of opinions underscores the multifaceted nature of the issue. For some NRIs, the decision to live abroad is driven by practical considerations such as career prospects and quality of life. For others, it might be influenced by more personal factors such as family ties and lifestyle preferences.

Debarghya Das’s social media posts have ignited a significant discussion about the reasons why NRIs choose not to live in India despite their professed admiration for the country. His call for transparency and honesty has resonated with many, prompting them to reflect on and articulate their reasons for living abroad. The resulting dialogue offers valuable insights into the complexities and nuances of the NRI experience, highlighting the diverse factors that influence their decisions and the ongoing connection they maintain with their homeland.

Apple Unveils Major AI Push with OpenAI Partnership and New Software at WWDC

Apple is fully embracing artificial intelligence, unveiling several novel AI functionalities and forming a partnership with OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT. This groundbreaking collaboration was announced during Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

Regarded by analysts as relatively slower in embracing AI compared to peers like Microsoft and Google, this move marks a significant step forward for Apple. The partnership allows Apple’s vast user base to tap into the technology offered by OpenAI, a prominent player in the AI landscape. OpenAI, known for its high-profile alliances with various technology and publishing entities, including a substantial deal with Microsoft, will now integrate its capabilities into Apple’s digital assistant Siri, as revealed by Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi during the conference. This integration will enable users to seek assistance for tasks ranging from recipe suggestions to story composition, as Federighi demonstrated with an example of crafting a customized bedtime story for a child.

The announcement comes amidst the rapid expansion of AI technology, accompanied by notable challenges such as erroneous outputs and controversies like the alleged unauthorized use of actor Scarlett Johansson’s voice by OpenAI. Additionally, Apple finds itself entangled in an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Justice Department and several states, accusing the tech giant of monopolistic practices. The implications of Apple’s partnership with OpenAI in the context of this legal battle remain uncertain.

Following Apple’s disclosure, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “very happy to be partnering with apple to integrate chatgpt into their devices later this year! think you will really like it.”

Alongside its collaboration with OpenAI, Apple introduces “Apple Intelligence,” its proprietary generative AI software. This new offering encompasses features such as call transcription, AI-powered photo editing, and enhancements to Siri’s conversational abilities. Furthermore, Apple Intelligence facilitates the summarization of notifications, text messages, articles, documents, and web pages. Federighi underscored Apple’s commitment to privacy with the introduction of Private Cloud Compute, a system designed to safeguard user data.

Apple has slated the rollout of these new features for later this year.

PM Modi to Attend G7 Summit in Italy Amid Global Tensions: Key Leaders and Agenda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his inaugural overseas visit since assuming office for a third consecutive term, is set to participate in the annual summit of the G7 advanced economies in Italy this week. The summit, slated from June 13 to 15, is expected to grapple with pressing global issues such as the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the intensifying war in Ukraine. The venue for this high-profile gathering is the lavish resort town of Borgo Egnazia in Italy’s Apulia region.

The summit will see the participation of prominent world leaders including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Notably, there is a scheduled meeting to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Modi’s travel itinerary, as per sources familiar with the matter, indicates his departure for Italy on June 13, with a return slated for late June 14. This marks Modi’s premier foreign visit since commencing his third term as prime minister. While the formal announcement of Modi’s trip to Italy is pending, sources suggest he will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. Among the slated bilateral engagements, the prime minister is set to meet with Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy.

It’s noteworthy that Modi had attended the previous G7 summit in Hiroshima last May. Ahead of the summit, he engaged in discussions with Zelenskyy and various other global leaders. The G7, consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, and Japan, is pivotal in shaping global agendas. Italy’s current presidency of the G7 entails hosting the summit.

Under Italy’s presidency, there is a clear emphasis on upholding the rules-based international order. Italy contends that Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine undermines these foundational principles, leading to escalating instability and crises worldwide. Additionally, the G7 aims to accord significant attention to the Middle East conflict due to its far-reaching global ramifications.

Originally established as the G8 in 1997, with Russia included, the bloc saw an expansion until 2013. However, Russia’s involvement was suspended in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea. As per tradition, the host country extends invitations to various countries and international organizations for summit participation.

Italy, besides India, has invited leaders from 11 developing nations across Africa, South America, and the Indo-Pacific region. Interestingly, despite not being a G7 member, the European Union participates in the annual summit, indicative of the event’s global significance.

US Woman Swindled of ₹6 Crore in Fake Jewelry Scam in Rajasthan

A US citizen fell victim to a deceptive scheme, purchasing imitation jewelry valued at ₹300 for an exorbitant ₹6 crore from a store owner in Rajasthan, as stated by the police.

Cherish, identified as a resident of the United States, acquired silver jewelry with gold plating from an establishment located in Johri Bazaar, Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Upon showcasing the jewelry at an exhibition in the US in April of the current year, it was revealed to be counterfeit. Subsequently, Cherish traveled to India to confront Gaurav Soni, the proprietor of the shop.

Despite Cherish’s accusations, the shop owner, Gaurav Soni, refuted the claims. Consequently, the American woman lodged a formal complaint with the Jaipur Police. Additionally, she sought assistance from the US embassy, prompting the Jaipur Police to initiate an investigation into the matter.

The complainant informed the authorities that her acquaintance with Gaurav Soni commenced via Instagram in 2022. Over the course of the last two years, she allegedly disbursed ₹6 crore for fraudulent jewelry, according to officials.

Authorities disclosed that both Gaurav Soni and his father Rajendra Soni are currently evading law enforcement. Efforts are underway to apprehend the fugitives, with special teams being deployed for this purpose, as confirmed by an official.

Qatar Dominates as India’s World Cup Qualifying Streak Ends: 3-0 Defeat Raises Questions for Blue Tigers

India’s aspirations for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers took a significant hit with a 3-0 loss to Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. This match ended India’s impressive 15-match unbeaten streak at home. The Indian side, led by head coach Igor Stimac, was outplayed by a well-organized Qatari team, which capitalized on early defensive lapses by the hosts.

The match started on a troubling note for India when Moustafa Tarek Mashal scored in the fourth minute, exploiting a defensive mix-up within the Indian box. Despite India’s attempts to regroup and create opportunities, they found it challenging to break through Qatar’s defense. Anirudh Thapa and Udanta Singh had notable chances towards the end of the first half, but neither could convert.

Qatar doubled their lead immediately after halftime, with Almoez Ali scoring in the 47th minute, effectively dampening India’s spirits. The visitors maintained their dominance throughout the second half, with Yusuf Abdurisag sealing the victory with a goal in the 86th minute. Despite substitutions and tactical adjustments, India struggled to mount a comeback.

India had their moments, with notable saves from goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, who was chosen over regular starter Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. However, the missed opportunities and defensive errors were too significant to overcome. Akram Afif of Qatar posed a constant threat, although he missed several chances, allowing India to keep the scoreline respectable until the final moments.

Post-match, Indian head coach Igor Stimac acknowledged the gap between the two teams, noting, “We tried to stay compact and hit on the counter, but Qatar’s quality shone through.” The Indian squad now faces a crucial encounter against Afghanistan in March 2024, which will be pivotal in their quest to advance in the qualifiers.

Reflecting on the defeat, Indian defender Sandesh Jhingan, who received a yellow card early in the match, mentioned, “We need to learn from these games and improve our concentration and execution in crucial moments.” This loss serves as a learning experience for the Blue Tigers as they aim to refine their strategies and performances in upcoming matches.

Qatar’s coach, Carlos Queiroz, praised his team’s performance, emphasizing their control and execution throughout the match. “Our players maintained their composure and stuck to the game plan, which was crucial in securing this victory,” Queiroz stated. Qatar’s victory reinforces their strong position in the qualifiers, showcasing their preparedness for higher challenges ahead.

India’s 3-0 defeat to Qatar highlights the challenges they face in their World Cup qualifying campaign. The team must regroup and address their shortcomings, particularly in defense and finishing, to keep their hopes alive for advancing to the next round. The upcoming match against Afghanistan will be a test of their resilience and ability to bounce back from this setback.

Canadian Parliament Rocked by Allegations of Foreign Interference, Calls for Transparency Intensify

Canada, known for its political stability, is currently experiencing heightened anxiety over potential foreign interference within its government. This unease stems from a recent report by Canadian lawmakers, suggesting that some politicians might be covertly collaborating with foreign governments. Released by an all-party national security committee, the heavily redacted findings have added a layer of complexity to an already ongoing investigation into alleged foreign meddling in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections.

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) report is groundbreaking as it implicates Canadian lawmakers in potentially aiding foreign interference in political campaigns and leadership contests. The timing of this revelation is critical, given the global context of elections being influenced by advanced technologies and assertive foreign entities testing the resilience of democracies worldwide.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has found himself on the defensive since these allegations surfaced on Monday. Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has demanded transparency from the government. “The national security committee indicates there are members of this House that have knowingly worked for foreign hostile governments,” Poilievre stated on Wednesday. “Canadians have a right to know who and what is the information — who are they?”

The report’s findings have prompted calls for Canada’s national police force to investigate possible criminal charges. Additionally, the revelations have sparked a debate on whether Canada’s current deterrence measures are sufficient to curb foreign interference, despite the country’s highly regarded political and legal systems.

The NSICOP report detailed that “semi-witting or witting” parliamentarians had engaged with foreign missions to influence voters during campaigns, accepted money from these entities either knowingly or through deliberate ignorance, and shared confidential information with foreign diplomats. The committee, possessing top-security clearance, based its conclusions on over 4,000 documents and roughly 1,000 pieces of evidence, highlighting China and India as significant foreign interference threats to Canada.

The intelligence indicated that unnamed parliamentarians had been directed by foreign diplomats to manipulate parliamentary business to benefit foreign states. One particularly damaging aspect of the report points to Canada’s inadequacy in addressing long-standing issues concerning the use of national security information in criminal proceedings, suggesting this as a reason why criminal charges for such activities are improbable.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland acknowledged the seriousness of the issue but sidestepped questions about revealing the identities of the implicated parliamentarians. “We should recognize this is a new time,” she remarked, emphasizing the goal of authoritarian regimes to undermine democracies by fostering public distrust in governments. However, Freeland did not agree that public disclosure of names would necessarily benefit democracy, and she avoided further comments on the matter during subsequent inquiries.

In response to earlier allegations of Chinese interference in Canadian elections, the Trudeau government had already initiated an inquiry in September. These allegations included claims that the Chinese government mobilized voters against a Conservative candidate in Western Canada and supported a Liberal candidate in Toronto. Justice Marie-Josée Hogue was appointed to lead the investigation into foreign interference and election meddling, a topic also drawing significant interest from the U.S. Congress.

Conservative MP Michael Chong, who testified before the U.S. congressional-executive commission on China about being targeted by Beijing for his stance on Uyghur issues, discovered through media reports that a Chinese diplomat had been tasked with gathering information on him and his family. Other Canadian parliamentarians, including NDP MP Jenny Kwan, have also been warned by Canada’s spy agency about being surveilled by China.

Justice Hogue’s initial report last month noted that the Canadian government’s poor handling of foreign interference has eroded public trust in the democratic process. Although her findings indicated that foreign interference did not significantly alter the outcomes of the 2019 or 2021 federal elections, which saw Trudeau’s Liberals win back-to-back minority governments, the revelations continue to stir political tensions.

Following this week’s disclosures, Conservative MP Michael Chong urged the government to identify the implicated parliamentarians. However, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc responded firmly, “We all know that no responsible government would reveal names under these types of confidential circumstances.” LeBlanc reiterated on Thursday that releasing names based on preliminary intelligence would be irresponsible, explaining that such intelligence is often unverified or uncorroborated.

David McGuinty, chair of the NSICOP, clarified that the decision to release the names is beyond his authority. He emphasized that he and the other committee members, who have top-secret security clearance, are bound by Canada’s Security of Information Act and face prosecution if they inadvertently disclose classified information. McGuinty avoided commenting on whether he felt uneasy working alongside potential collaborators of foreign interference, focusing instead on the need for government action. “I’m more concerned about the fact that now the government has to move forward on this,” he stated.

UN Security Council Backs US-Led Ceasefire Plan for Gaza, Urges Hamas to Agree

The United Nations Security Council has endorsed a U.S. resolution supporting a ceasefire plan for the conflict in Gaza. The resolution outlines conditions for a comprehensive ceasefire, the release of hostages held by Hamas, the return of deceased hostages’ remains, and an exchange of Palestinian prisoners. The resolution passed with 14 out of 15 Security Council members voting in favor; Russia abstained.

The resolution acknowledges Israel’s acceptance of the ceasefire plan and urges Hamas to agree as well. This aligns the Security Council with several governments and the G7 group of wealthy nations in backing the three-part plan presented by President Joe Biden on May 31. Biden initially described it as an Israeli ceasefire proposal.

Israel’s proposal, submitted to the U.S. and mediators Qatar and Egypt, is reportedly more detailed than Biden’s summary. The full content remains undisclosed, and it is uncertain if it differs from what Biden presented. Israel’s three-man war cabinet agreed to the proposal, but it has not been shared with the broader government, where some far-right ministers have already voiced opposition.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not explicitly stated his support for Biden’s version of the plan. The resolution’s approval came soon after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with regional leaders, including Netanyahu, to garner support for the ceasefire. Before the UN vote, Blinken urged regional leaders to pressure Hamas to accept the ceasefire, stating, “If you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say yes.”

Hamas has indicated support for parts of the plan and welcomed the Security Council resolution in a statement on Monday. They emphasized their demand for a permanent ceasefire, a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners. Hamas is prepared to cooperate with mediators and engage in “indirect negotiations,” although its political leadership in Doha has not formally responded to the proposal, according to U.S. and Israeli officials.

The proposal’s ultimate goal includes a significant reconstruction plan for Gaza, which has suffered extensive destruction. The first phase involves a hostage-prisoner swap and a short-term ceasefire. The second phase aims for a “permanent end to hostilities” and a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as outlined in the U.S. draft resolution. The third phase focuses on Gaza’s long-term outlook and initiates a multi-year reconstruction plan.

The resolution follows President Biden’s announcement ten days prior that Israel had agreed to the plan. While Biden framed the peace initiative as Israeli, the U.S. is aware of Israel’s internal political challenges. Some far-right ministers threaten to collapse the government if the deal progresses, reflecting the fractious nature of Israel’s ruling coalition. Former general and centrist Benny Gantz’s resignation from the war cabinet on Sunday exacerbates this instability.

Biden’s account on X (formerly Twitter) highlighted the resolution’s passage, stating, “Hamas says it wants a ceasefire. This deal is an opportunity to prove they mean it.” U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, remarked, “Today we voted for peace.” UK Ambassador Barbara Woodward described the Gaza situation as “catastrophic” and urged all parties to seize this opportunity for lasting peace and stability. UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron also welcomed the resolution.

Russia abstained, with its UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia questioning the clarity of the deal and Israel’s true commitment to ending its military operation in Gaza. Nebenzia asked, “Given the many statements from Israel on the extension of the war until Hamas is completely defeated… what specifically has Israel agreed to?” Despite voting in favor, China also expressed concerns about the resolution’s effectiveness, referencing previous UN resolutions on the conflict that were not implemented.

On March 25, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for a ceasefire. The U.S. had previously vetoed similar measures, arguing that such actions would hinder ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas. However, the U.S. abstained from the March resolution rather than vetoing it. Netanyahu criticized the U.S. at that time for “abandoning” its stance linking a ceasefire to the release of hostages.

The conflict began when Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, resulting in approximately 1,200 deaths and the capture of about 251 hostages. According to the Hamas-run health ministry, Gaza’s death toll has exceeded 37,000 since Israel’s retaliatory response.

The Security Council’s resolution and the broader international support for the ceasefire plan reflect a significant diplomatic effort to address the ongoing conflict and pave the way for lasting peace and reconstruction in Gaza.

Bitcoin Reaches Second-Highest Weekly Close at $69,640 Amid Volatile Market Conditions

Bitcoin, the preeminent cryptocurrency by market capitalization, has achieved its second-highest weekly close ever recorded. The digital asset closed Sunday at $69,640 after navigating a turbulent week. On June 7, Bitcoin’s price reached $71,949, marking its highest level since May 21. However, it failed to break the $72,000 resistance level due to stronger-than-expected U.S. job gains reported in May. The robustness of the labor market may discourage the Federal Reserve from reducing interest rates soon. Cryptocurrencies, often considered risk assets, typically thrive under a more relaxed monetary policy.

Despite facing macroeconomic challenges, Bitcoin enthusiasts are optimistic about reclaiming the $70,000 threshold. As of now, the cryptocurrency is trading at $69,540 on the Bitstamp exchange. Significant inflows into spot-based Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) last week seem to be a key bullish driver for the market.

However, Bitcoin remains range-bound for the time being. Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz noted that Bitcoin would need to surpass the $73,000 resistance level to enter a new trading range and potentially reach the $100,000 milestone. “It would have to surpass the $73,000 resistance level in order to be able to enter a new range and eventually surpass the $100,000 level,” Novogratz said.

Bitcoin recorded its highest weekly close of $71,285 in March after hitting its current all-time high of $73,794 on March 11. Following this peak, the cryptocurrency underwent a sharp correction. On May 1, it dropped to $56,500 due to the dual impact of declining ETF flows and stagflation concerns highlighted by influential figures like JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. “Stagflation concerns fueled by such big names as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon” contributed to the drop. Despite Bitcoin’s recovery, it has yet to establish a stable position above $70,000. According to U.Today, the distribution of Bitcoin by long-term holders to new ETF investors might be the primary reason why the bulls have not regained full control. “Long-term Bitcoin holders distributing their acquired coins to new ETF holders might be the key reason why the bulls are not in control just yet,” as reported by U.Today.

Bitcoin, the world’s foremost cryptocurrency by market capitalization, secured its second-highest weekly close on record, finishing Sunday at $69,640 after a notably volatile week. On June 7, Bitcoin’s price surged to $71,949, its highest point since May 21, yet it couldn’t breach the $72,000 resistance level due to stronger-than-anticipated U.S. job gains in May. The strength in the labor market could deter the Federal Reserve from lowering interest rates in the near future, as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin often benefit from more lenient monetary policies.

In the face of these macroeconomic headwinds, Bitcoin proponents remain hopeful about the cryptocurrency reclaiming the $70,000 mark. Currently, Bitcoin trades at $69,540 on the Bitstamp exchange. Substantial inflows into spot-based Bitcoin exchange-traded funds last week appear to have significantly buoyed the market.

Nevertheless, Bitcoin continues to be range-bound. Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz stated that Bitcoin would need to overcome the $73,000 resistance level to enter a new trading range and eventually aim for the $100,000 mark. “It would have to surpass the $73,000 resistance level in order to be able to enter a new range and eventually surpass the $100,000 level,” said Novogratz.

In March, Bitcoin achieved its highest weekly close of $71,285 after reaching its all-time high of $73,794 on March 11. This was followed by a steep correction. On May 1, Bitcoin plummeted to $56,500 due to the combined effects of slowing ETF flows and stagflation fears raised by prominent figures like JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. “Stagflation concerns fueled by such big names as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon” contributed to the decline. Although Bitcoin has rebounded, it has not yet managed to secure a position above the $70,000 level. As per U.Today, long-term Bitcoin holders distributing their coins to new ETF investors might be a crucial factor in the bulls’ struggle for dominance. “Long-term Bitcoin holders distributing their acquired coins to new ETF holders might be the key reason why the bulls are not in control just yet,” U.Today reported.

Bitcoin, leading the cryptocurrency market by capitalization, reached its second-highest weekly close ever at $69,640 on Sunday after a week of volatility. On June 7, the cryptocurrency’s price peaked at $71,949, its highest since May 21, but failed to surpass the $72,000 resistance level due to stronger-than-expected U.S. job gains reported in May. The labor market’s strength might inhibit the Federal Reserve from reducing interest rates soon, which typically benefits risk assets like cryptocurrencies.

Despite macroeconomic challenges, Bitcoin bulls are optimistic about regaining the $70,000 level. The cryptocurrency is currently trading at $69,540 on the Bitstamp exchange. Significant inflows into spot-based Bitcoin ETFs last week appear to be a major bullish factor for the market.

For now, Bitcoin remains within a trading range. Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz mentioned that Bitcoin needs to break through the $73,000 resistance level to enter a new range and potentially surpass $100,000. “It would have to surpass the $73,000 resistance level in order to be able to enter a new range and eventually surpass the $100,000 level,” Novogratz stated.

In March, Bitcoin achieved its highest weekly close of $71,285 after hitting its all-time high of $73,794 on March 11, followed by a sharp correction. On May 1, Bitcoin dropped to $56,500 due to the combined impact of reduced ETF flows and stagflation concerns highlighted by figures like JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. “Stagflation concerns fueled by such big names as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon” played a role in this decline. Although Bitcoin has recovered, it has not yet established a solid footing above the $70,000 mark. U.Today reported that long-term Bitcoin holders distributing their coins to new ETF investors might be a key reason why the bulls have not taken full control. “Long-term Bitcoin holders distributing their acquired coins to new ETF holders might be the key reason why the bulls are not in control just yet,” as reported by U.Today.

Bitcoin, the top cryptocurrency by market cap, ended Sunday at $69,640, its second-highest weekly close to date, after a week of significant volatility. On June 7, Bitcoin’s price hit $71,949, its highest since May 21, but couldn’t break the $72,000 resistance level due to stronger-than-expected U.S. job gains in May. This robust labor market might prevent the Federal Reserve from lowering interest rates soon, a situation that usually favors cryptocurrencies, considered risk assets.

Despite these macroeconomic obstacles, Bitcoin supporters are optimistic about reclaiming the $70,000 level. Currently, Bitcoin is trading at $69,540 on the Bitstamp exchange. Massive inflows into spot-based Bitcoin ETFs last week seem to be a major bullish catalyst for the market.

However, Bitcoin remains range-bound for now. Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz stated that Bitcoin would need to break the $73,000 resistance level to enter a new range and eventually exceed $100,000. “It would have to surpass the $73,000 resistance level in order to be able to enter a new range and eventually surpass the $100,000 level,” Novogratz commented.

In March, Bitcoin logged its highest weekly close of $71,285 after reaching its all-time high of $73,794 on March 11. Following this peak, the cryptocurrency experienced a steep correction, plunging to $56,500 on May 1 due to slowing ETF flows and stagflation concerns highlighted by influential figures like JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. “Stagflation concerns fueled by such big names as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon” contributed to this decline. While Bitcoin has recovered since, it has not yet managed to establish itself above the $70,000 mark. According to U.Today, the distribution of Bitcoin by long-term holders to new ETF investors might be a key reason why the bulls are still not in full control. “Long-term Bitcoin holders distributing their acquired coins to new ETF holders might be the key reason why the bulls are not in control just yet,” as reported by U.Today.

India’s General Election Upset: Opposition Celebrates as Modi’s BJP Falls Short

India’s recent general election results have sparked an unusual interpretation. While the victors maintain a subdued demeanor, the runners-up are in celebratory spirits.

The NDA alliance, helmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, clinched a historic third term in power, securing over 290 seats in the 543-member parliament. However, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone fell short of the crucial 272-seat mark required for forming a government independently. Consequently, Modi’s leadership is perceived as significantly weakened.

Conversely, the outcome signals a remarkable resurgence for the opposition INDIA alliance and its face, Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi. Despite falling short of the majority with just over 230 seats, they are yet to concede defeat even after more than 24 hours since the vote counting began.

Political analyst Rashid Kidwai describes the outcome as extraordinary, emphasizing the unexpected success of the opposition. He notes, “The result is surprising. The opposition has managed to pull off the unexpected.”

The Congress party, in its jubilant response, labels the verdict as “a moral and political defeat for Mr. Modi,” whose campaign heavily relied on his personal brand and track record. Gandhi, addressing a press conference, asserts, “The country has unanimously sent a message to Mr. Modi and [Home Minister] Amit Shah that we do not want you.”

The exuberance of the opposition finds its roots in a turbulent backdrop. Prior to the elections, the opposition appeared fragmented, with the Congress-led INDIA bloc, comprising over two dozen regional parties, facing internal strife. Experts questioned their ability to challenge Modi’s seemingly invincible position.

In the lead-up to the elections, the opposition encountered numerous obstacles. Government agencies raided parties and leaders, two chief ministers were incarcerated, including Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi, and Congress’s bank accounts were frozen by tax authorities.

Analyst Rashid Kidwai credits much of the opposition’s performance to Rahul Gandhi, despite his lineage drawing substantial criticism. Gandhi, representing the fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, faced hostility from mainstream media and was portrayed as an unserious politician. However, Kidwai observes Gandhi’s efforts to reshape this perception through extensive outreach programs across the country.

Despite facing legal challenges, including a defamation conviction in Modi’s home state, Gandhi managed to rally support and transform his image. The BJP’s aggressive tactics to suppress the opposition inadvertently strengthened the resolve of the INDIA bloc.

Ajoy Bose, another political analyst, highlights the BJP’s miscalculations, asserting that their attempts to intimidate the opposition backfired. The fear of being marginalized led to the formation of the INDIA bloc, with echoes of past authoritarian measures fueling public discontent.

The election results reflect strong opposition in several states traditionally ruled by Modi’s party. Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK party swept all 39 seats, while in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee limited the BJP to 12 seats, down from 18 in the previous election. Similarly, in Maharashtra, the BJP’s seat count reduced to nine from 23, with its former ally Shiv Sena securing 18 seats.

However, the most significant blow to Modi and the BJP came from Uttar Pradesh (UP). Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP), in alliance with Rahul Gandhi, secured 43 out of 80 seats, surpassing the BJP’s tally of 33. This alliance’s success defied Modi’s earlier dismissal of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav as ineffective.

Despite banking on the Ram Mandir temple as a trump card, symbolized by Modi’s inauguration of the temple in Ayodhya, the BJP suffered setbacks in key constituencies. Abhishek Yadav, an SP youth-wing leader, notes a shift in public sentiment against the BJP due to economic grievances and changes in military recruitment policies.

However, despite the opposition’s commendable performance, Rashid Kidwai believes there were missed opportunities due to gaps in their strategy. He suggests that forging alliances in states like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha could have bolstered the INDIA bloc’s position.

Looking ahead, Kidwai emphasizes the need for the opposition to consolidate its alliance and for Rahul Gandhi to assume leadership actively. He anticipates continued government scrutiny of the opposition but urges a more tempered approach from the ruling party. Coalition politics, with Congress leading the charge, is seen as essential for maintaining parliamentary balance.

In this context, the Gandhis must transition from being custodians of power to active leaders. Rahul Gandhi, in particular, is urged to embrace his role and guide the opposition coalition effectively.

Cricket’s Biggest Rivalry: India vs. Pakistan Brings Subcontinental Passion to Long Island

America revels in grand sporting spectacles, from the celebrity-studded Super Bowl week to Hollywood’s descent on Miami when Lionel Messi appears. Icons like Marlon Brando and Ernest Hemingway famously indulged in baseball games, disguising themselves to join the throngs of fans. Yet, cricket’s biggest event in the US, a clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan, won’t attract Hollywood’s elite or captivate the nation’s broader audience. However, this Sunday could offer Americans their first taste of cricket’s most thrilling rivalry, brimming with excitement and intensity.

This match promises to introduce the American audience to the fervent enthusiasm and loud exuberance characteristic of Indian and Pakistani cricket fans. It will be a slice of the subcontinent transplanted to Long Island. The buzz has been building ever since rumors surfaced that New York would host this highly anticipated game, which has been touted as the one that could ignite a cricket revolution in America.

However, the lead-up to the tournament has been marred by inconsistent drop-in pitches and exorbitantly priced tickets, which have diverted attention from the actual competition. Additionally, the USA’s shocking victory over Pakistan has significantly impacted the latter’s standing and odds.

As the stadium begins to fill and the teams warm up, these distractions will fade into the background. The pitch will become the epicenter of the cricketing world, captivating the 34,000 spectators in the arena and millions more watching from afar. The pitch conditions and Pakistan’s unexpected defeat will add layers of drama and suspense to a match already rich with potential storylines fit for Hollywood.

A recurring narrative is Pakistan’s precarious position. Often on the brink of collapse, they have a history of miraculous recoveries. They are sometimes the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes and other times Sisyphus endlessly rolling a boulder uphill. A loss for Pakistan in this game would almost certainly end their tournament hopes, whereas India still has some leeway to advance to the super eight. While India starts as the favorite, betting against Pakistan is always risky, promising a rollercoaster of emotions for their fans.

Glaring cracks in Pakistan’s performance have emerged. Their fielding in the USA game was, to put it generously, subpar; their batting lacked the explosive power needed for the 20-overs format, with too many players more suited to the 50-overs game. A quality Pakistani spinner is a distant memory. However, their pace attack remains formidable. The quartet of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammed Amir, Naseem Shah, and Haris Rauf can instill fear in batsmen, especially when they start reversing the ball after ten overs. Their late-game heroics were the sole reason the match against the USA extended to a Super Over.

The matchup of Pakistani bowlers versus Indian batsmen is an enduring plotline when these two teams meet, regardless of circumstances. India’s seamers are equally capable, ready to make their mark on the game, complemented by superior spinners.

Certain themes persist through the history of India-Pakistan cricket. It used to be about the battles between Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and Wasim Akram/Waqar Younis/Shoaib Akhtar, and now Virat Kohli-Rohit Sharma versus Afridi and Shah. Rarely has the focus been on the likes of Zaheer Abbas and Bishan Bedi, Kapil Dev and Javed Miandad, or Babar Azam and Jasprit Bumrah, despite these matchups being equally compelling.

Pregame discussions will center on how Rohit and his team handle Afridi and his fellow bowlers, a passage that could define the game. Afridi’s spell in the 2021 edition in Dubai, which led to Pakistan’s first-ever World Cup win over India, is already legendary. Though India has won five out of six World Cup encounters, these matches are often close and tense, like Kohli’s dramatic innings in Melbourne or the nerve-wracking games in the inaugural tournament.

In these encounters, history can be both irrelevant and significant. Each match exists in its own realm, often unaffected by conventional sports metrics like recent form, mental state, or past outcomes. The India-Pakistan rivalry has produced unexpected heroes like Venkatesh Prasad and Joginder Sharma, Iqbal Qasim, and Tauseef Ahmed. This time, it could be Arshdeep Singh or Azam Khan stepping into the spotlight.

Both teams boast several players capable of single-handedly winning a match. This unique aspect of an India-Pakistan game turns a team sport into a contest of individual stars, akin to a cricketing Avengers assembly. Everyone wants the bragging rights, adding to the glamour and simmering rivalry. While today’s cricketers may not hold grudges as their predecessors did, often seen chatting and bantering like friends, a fierce competitive spirit underlies their interactions. They are driven to outperform, fueled by a desire to win at all costs. This rivalry is reminiscent of the fierce NFL battles between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets, but with geopolitical undertones.

Despite captains’ platitudes of “it’s just another game,” the truth is far from it. This match won’t bring Hollywood to town, but it will offer America a glimpse into cricket’s most marketable rivalry, showcasing its passion and intensity.

AIA-NY honors 5 extraordinary individuals at its annual gala

US Senate Majority Leader Hon. Chuck Schumer was the Chief Guest of Honor

Great Neck, NY: The Association of Indians in America (AIA) NY chapter held its Annual Gala under the leadership of Dr. Jagdish K. Gupta to raise funds for the 37th Deepavali Fest slated for October 6, 2024, and for the ‘AIA-Educational Project,’ to empower Indian-American students in need to achieve their educational potential and dreams.

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AIA-NY President Dr. Jagdish Gupta giving his address.

The Gala was attended by 200 distinguished members of the community, including past presidents and members of the Advisory Board of Trustees of AIA. It was held on June 2, 2024, at the redesigned Crystal Ballroom of Leonard’s Palazzo Exquisite Banquet Hall in Great Neck.

Honorable Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was the Chief Guest of Honor. In his remarks, he highlighted his visit to India, the importance of strong India-US ties, and praised Indian leaders, culture, traditions, and the community’s contributions to education and healthcare. He emphasized the strong maritime defense ties between the two countries in the Indian Ocean. He also applauded Indian physicians and parents for their commitment to education, drawing parallels with the Jewish community. His remarks received multiple rounds of applause and ended with a standing ovation.

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(From left) Mrs. Meena Gupta, Dr. Gupta, Senator Chuck Schumer, Honorees Mr. Naveen Shah, Dr. Raman Sharma, Prof. S.N. Sridhar, Dr. Vishal Kapur and Dr. Rekha Bhandari.

New York State Assemblyman David Weprin from District 24 was an honored guest. He has been a staunch supporter of the AIA-NY, helping to secure Alternate Day Parking suspension on Diwali each year and advocating for Diwali as a school holiday in New York City. He expressed his pride in supporting the Indian community and emphasized the importance of cultural recognition in fostering a diverse and inclusive society.

In keeping with the theme of Women’s Empowerment, Dr. Rekha Bhandari, Chief Medical Officer for the MedElite Group/Allure Group/Vis-à-vis Health, was honored with the ‘Excellence in Healthcare Award’ for her innovative contributions to healthcare. In her acceptance speech, she expressed her hope to inspire women in healthcare. She stated, “I am humbled and honored to receive this award from one of the oldest ethnic organizations. I hope my journey serves as a trailblazer for other women to follow and get inspired in the healthcare field.”

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Dr. Sumita Sengupta (Gala Co-chair), Assemblyman David Weprin, Dr. Raman Sharma, President Dr. Jagdish Gupta, and Chairman of Board Dr. Samin Sharma.

Mr. Naveen C. Shah, CEO of Navika Group of Companies and Blue-Sky Hospitality Solutions, received the ‘Entrepreneur Par Excellence Award’ for his success in building a multibillion-dollar conglomerate and his philanthropic efforts supporting numerous nonprofit organizations. In his speech, Mr. Shah paid tribute to all the AIA founders, past presidents, Board of Trustees, advisors, and current officers for their dedication and relentless efforts in supporting Indians in America. He remarked, “Our unity and support has been pivotal in promoting Indian culture and heritage in the USA.”

Dr. S.N. Sridhar, Distinguished Professor of Linguistics and India Studies at Stony Brook University, was recognized for ‘Excellence in Literature, Linguistics & founding India Studies at Stony Brook University.’ His significant contributions to bilingualism and multilingualism studies and co-editing the book ‘Ananya: A Portrait of India’ were highlighted. He shared insights into his research and its impact on promoting cultural understanding.

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Vote of Thanks from the Executive Committee group actively involved with Gala Celebrations.

Dr. Vishal Kapur and Dr. Raman Sharma from Mount Sinai Health System were also honored. Dr. Kapur received the ‘Excellence in Cardiology-Vascular & Endovascular Medicine’ award, while Dr. Sharma was presented with the ‘Special Young Physician Award for Excellence in Endovascular Intervention’. Dr. Kapur spoke about the advancements in endovascular treatments at Mount Sinai and the importance of innovation in patient care. Dr. Sharma highlighted the significance of his work in saving limbs from ischemia in diabetics and preventing strokes in patients with carotid artery blockages.

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Senator Schumer and Honorees – Dr. Vishal Kapur with his family, Dr. Raman Sharma & Mrs. Clara Sharma, Mr. Naveen Shah & Mrs. Rajshree Shah.

The evening began with a social networking hour featuring cocktails and Indian hors d’oeuvres, followed by entertainment including live performances by Ms. Tanmayee Mohapatra and Ms. Jagabattula Maheshwari. Mrs. Beena Kothari, Vice President and Gala Chair, welcomed guests and introduced Dr. Jagdish Gupta, who spoke about the significance of Deepavali Celebrations and the importance of supporting educational excellence in the Indian-American community.

Dr. Samin Sharma, Chairman of the AIA Board of Trustees, highlighted the achievements of Indian Americans in healthcare and corporate America.

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(from left) Mrs. Meena Gupta greeting Senator Schumer, Beena Kothari – Gala Chair, AIA-NY President Dr. Jagdish Gupta, and Mr. Naveen Shah-Honoree.

Citations for AIA-NY  and the honorees were received from various dignitaries, including the Indian Consulate, Congressman Tom Suozzi, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, and New York State Senator Kevin Thomas.

Dr. Gupta thanked all the sponsors and partners, including Fareportal – CheapOair, Mount Sinai Hospital, Northwell Health System, Mattoo Center for India Studies, Brooklyn Hospital Center, Navika Group of Companies, Blue-Sky Hospitality Solutions, Parker Jewish Institute, CenterLight Healthcare, and media partners.

The event concluded with a sumptuous dinner, dancing, and entertainment.

AIA is one of the oldest ethnic organizations representing the Indian community in America. It aims to promote cultural understanding, assimilation, and recognition of Indian traditions and heritage in the United States.

Contact: Dr. Jagdish K Gupta, email: [email protected]

Global Tensions and Political Shifts: Israel’s Hostage Rescue, Macron Dissolves Parliament, Trump Faces Probation Interview, Peltier’s Last Parole Bid, and Hair Loss Drug Concerns

Rescued Hostages, But the War Continues

Joy in Israel over the successful rescue of four hostages has quickly faded as the harsh realities of the ongoing nine-month war in Gaza persist. Despite the operation’s success, deep-seated divisions remain largely unchanged. The rescue operation on Saturday saw the liberation of four hostages, including Noa Argamani, who was abducted on October 7 during the Nova music festival—a moment captured on video. This success, however, came at a heavy cost. Gaza’s Health Ministry reported on Sunday that at least 270 Palestinians were killed and another 700 were injured, making it one of the bloodiest days in the conflict. Many more are believed to be buried under rubble.

In a significant political development, Benny Gantz announced his resignation from Israel’s war Cabinet. Gantz, a major political rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stated his resignation was due to the failure to establish a postwar plan for Gaza. In a televised address, Gantz accused Netanyahu of obstructing Israel’s path to “a real victory” and apologized to the families of the hostages, admitting, “we failed” to bring most of them home.

Macron Dissolves French Parliament

In a surprising political move, President Emmanuel Macron has decided to dissolve the lower house of France’s parliament, leaving the country’s political fate in the hands of voters. This decision follows a significant defeat for his party at the hands of the far right in the European Union’s parliamentary elections on Saturday. Marine Le Pen’s far-right, anti-immigration National Rally party outperformed Macron’s centrist, pro-European Renaissance party, according to projections by French opinion poll institutes.

Macron’s decision to call for new elections is a high-risk gamble. If an opposition party secures a majority in parliament, it could lead to a challenging cohabitation scenario, where Macron would have to appoint a prime minister from an opposing party, potentially leading to significant policy conflicts. Macron’s current term as president still has three years remaining. The legislative elections are scheduled to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7.

Trump to Attend Probation Interview

Former President Donald Trump is set to participate in a virtual interview with a New York City probation officer today, a requirement following his guilty verdict in the hush money trial. Sources familiar with the situation said that Trump will conduct the interview from his Mar-a-Lago residence, with his attorney Todd Blanche present, using a specially secured virtual network.

Legal experts have noted the unusual nature of a probation interview conducted via video conference, yet acknowledged that having a former president visit a probation office in person would also be unprecedented. The interview could cover various topics related to Trump’s trial and sentencing.

Leonard Peltier’s Last Chance for Parole

Native American activist Leonard Peltier, who has consistently maintained his innocence in the murders of two FBI agents nearly 50 years ago, is scheduled for a full parole hearing today. This is Peltier’s first hearing in 15 years and is considered by his supporters to be his last chance for release. At 79 years old, Peltier’s age, declining health, and nonviolent behavior in prison are being emphasized by his attorney as reasons to grant parole.

Peltier was involved in a 1975 gunfight on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which resulted in the deaths of two FBI agents. His case has been the subject of extensive scrutiny regarding the investigation and trial procedures. Despite these concerns, the FBI remains firm in its opposition to Peltier’s release.

Surge in Hair Loss Medication Usage and Concerns

An increasing number of young men are turning to medication to prevent hair loss, sparking concerns about potential side effects. An NBC News report revealed that finasteride prescriptions have nearly tripled in the U.S. over the past seven years. A New York City dermatologist mentioned, “It’s like water in my clinic. I’m prescribing it all the time.”

While doctors generally consider the daily pill safe, it must be taken continuously to maintain its effects. Controversy surrounds the drug due to reports of impotence and other side effects that may persist even after discontinuing the medication. This has led to ongoing debates about the drug’s safety and the need for awareness about its potential risks.

Political Briefs

Abortion Rights:The Supreme Court is poised to rule on two major abortion cases this month, the first since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. One case involves the abortion pill mifepristone, and the other pertains to a near-total ban on abortion in Idaho. Supreme Court reporter Lawrence Hurley discusses the implications of these rulings.

Biden in France:During his visit to France, President Joe Biden sought to draw a stark contrast with his Republican rival, Donald Trump, without mentioning him by name. Biden’s five-day trip culminated in a visit to a cemetery imbued with political symbolism, underscoring his differences with Trump’s policies and approach.

These events illustrate a world grappling with significant political, social, and legal challenges, from the enduring conflict in Gaza and political upheaval in France to high-stakes legal proceedings in the United States and evolving medical controversies.

The New Space Race: Nations and Companies Vie for Lunar Dominance Amid Rising Tensions

The Moon is witnessing an unprecedented rush, with multiple countries and private enterprises setting their sights on lunar exploration. This surge is driven by the quest for resources and dominance in space. As more missions target the Moon, we must ask: are we prepared for this new chapter of lunar exploration?

Recently, China made headlines with images of its flag on the Moon, marking its fourth lunar landing and the first mission to retrieve samples from the Moon’s far side. In the past year, India and Japan also landed spacecraft on the lunar surface. February saw the US firm Intuitive Machines become the first private company to place a lander on the Moon, with many more missions in the pipeline.

NASA plans to send humans back to the Moon, aiming for a 2026 landing with its Artemis program. China has pledged to send astronauts by 2030, with both nations planning to establish permanent bases rather than make brief visits.

However, this new space race, unfolding amid heightened global tensions, risks exporting terrestrial conflicts to the Moon. “Our relationship with the Moon is going to fundamentally change very soon,” warns Justin Holcomb, a geologist at the University of Kansas, emphasizing that the pace of space exploration is now “outpacing our laws.”

The 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty declares the Moon as a common heritage of all humankind, prohibiting any nation from claiming ownership. Exploration must benefit everyone and serve all nations’ interests. While this treaty promotes peace and collaboration, it was shaped by Cold War politics to prevent space militarization, with over 100 countries signing on.

Today’s space age differs significantly, with not only nations but also private companies competing. A notable example is the US commercial mission Peregrine, which planned to take human ashes, DNA samples, and a sports drink to the Moon. Though a fuel leak thwarted the mission, it sparked debate on whether such ventures align with the treaty’s principles of benefiting humanity.

“We’re starting to just send stuff up there just because we can. There’s no sort of rhyme or reason anymore,” says Michelle Hanlon, a space lawyer and founder of For All Moonkind, which aims to protect Apollo landing sites. She cautions that “Our Moon is within reach and now we’re starting to abuse it.”

Despite the rise of private enterprise, nation-states remain pivotal in space activities. Sa’id Mosteshar, director of the London Institute of Space Policy and Law, notes that companies need state authorization for space missions, which are constrained by international treaties.

Joining the elite group of Moon landers brings significant prestige. India and Japan’s successful missions have elevated their status as global space players, promising economic benefits through jobs and innovation.

Beyond prestige, the Moon offers valuable resources. Its surface, seemingly barren, holds minerals like rare earth elements, iron, titanium, and helium, essential for various technologies. The estimated value of these resources ranges from billions to quadrillions of dollars. However, exploiting these resources is a long-term venture, with the necessary technology still in development.

In 1979, a treaty declared lunar resources unclaimable by any state or organization. However, it gained little traction, with only 17 countries, none of which had been to the Moon, ratifying it. Contrarily, in 2015, the US passed a law allowing its citizens and industries to extract, use, and sell space materials. “This caused tremendous consternation amongst the international community,” recalls Michelle Hanlon, but other countries like Luxembourg, the UAE, Japan, and India followed suit with similar laws.

Surprisingly, water might be the most coveted lunar resource. Initially, Apollo mission rocks were thought to be dry, but about a decade ago, scientists discovered traces of water in them. At the Moon’s poles, substantial water ice reserves exist in permanently shadowed craters. This water could support future lunar inhabitants for drinking, oxygen generation, and even as rocket fuel by splitting it into hydrogen and oxygen, facilitating travel from the Moon to Mars and beyond.

The US is pushing for new guidelines on lunar exploration and resource use through the Artemis Accords, which align with the Outer Space Treaty but suggest new rules may be necessary. Over 40 countries have joined these non-binding agreements, but China has not. Some argue that such regulations should be established through the United Nations due to their global impact. “This really ought to be done through the United Nations because it affects all countries,” says Sa’id Mosteshar.

Resource access could also trigger conflicts. While the Moon offers ample space, areas near ice-filled craters are prime real estate. What happens if multiple entities vie for the same location? Establishing bases close together could lead to disputes. Jill Stuart, a space policy and law researcher at the London School of Economics, compares it to Antarctic research bases, suggesting we might see similar setups on the Moon.

First movers may have an advantage, determining the size of their operational zones. “There will definitely be a first-mover advantage,” Jill Stuart says, implying that early settlers could set the standards for others. The US and China, likely the first to establish lunar bases, might shape the rules, potentially embedding their standards into future practices.

The complexity of lunar governance suggests we may not see another major international treaty. Instead, rules may evolve through memorandums of understanding or new codes of conduct. The Moon, our constant celestial companion, is becoming a focal point for space competition. As this new space race unfolds, it’s crucial to contemplate what kind of environment we want the Moon to be and how to prevent it from becoming a stage for earthly rivalries.

NDA’s 293 MPs Exclude Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs Despite Significant Populations

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), currently has 293 elected Members of Parliament (MPs), none of whom are from Muslim, Christian, or Sikh communities. This lack of representation is particularly stark given that India is home to over 200 million Muslims, more than 23 million Sikhs, and over 22 million Christians. This observation was highlighted in an analysis by the Hindustan Times.

Trinamool Congress leader and elected MP Mahua Moitra addressed this absence of minority representation, stating, “Over 200 million Muslims, 23 million Sikhs & 22 million Christians in India and yet NDA has zero representation in Lok Sabha. Modi Ke Saath Sabh Ka Vinaash.”

The BJP’s election campaign has often been criticized for promoting hate and making genocidal comments against Muslims, who are India’s largest religious minority. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been reported to have delivered over a hundred speeches with such undertones. Over the past decade under Modi’s leadership, religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, have endured various forms of violence ranging from right-wing street violence to state-sponsored actions.

In terms of caste representation within the NDA, upper-caste Hindus, including Brahmins, Rajputs, and others, form 33.2% of the elected MPs. Intermediate castes such as Marathas, Jats, Lingayats, Patidars, Reddys, and Vokkaligas account for 15.7%, while Other Backward Classes (OBCs), including Yadavs and Kurmis, make up 26.2%. In comparison, the INDIA alliance’s composition includes 12.4% upper-caste Hindus, 11.9% intermediate castes, and 30.7% OBCs.

Dalit representation is another significant aspect of the parliamentary demographic. Within the NDA, Dalits constitute 13.3% of the elected MPs, while in the INDIA alliance, they account for 17.8%. Tribal representation is 10.8% in the NDA and 9.9% in the INDIA alliance.

Muslims, despite their significant population in India, have very limited representation. The INDIA alliance has 7.9% Muslim MPs, with 22 Muslim MPs elected on INDIA alliance tickets. Across the entire 18th Lok Sabha, there are only 24 Muslim MPs. Christian representation in the INDIA alliance stands at 3.5%.

Interestingly, the Buddhist community has no representation in the winners from both the NDA and the INDIA alliances. This lack of diversity highlights ongoing issues regarding the inclusivity of India’s parliamentary representation.

Modi Sworn in for Historic Third Term as Prime Minister, Unveils Extensive Cabinet Lineup

Narendra Modi was sworn in today for his third consecutive term as Prime Minister, matching the feat of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, with three electoral victories. The ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan drew crowds, with Modi clad in a traditional white kurta and blue waistcoat, ascending the steps amidst a display of honor guards. Immediately following him were key Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) figures Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, and Nitin Gadkari.

While the event saw the presence of leaders from neighboring South Asian countries such as Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka, notable absences included top officials from China and Pakistan, India’s regional rivals.

Modi’s new cabinet comprises 30 Cabinet Ministers, 5 Ministers of State with Independent Charge, and 36 Ministers of State, reflecting a diverse array of talent and experience. This expansive team aims to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing the nation.

In the recent elections, Modi’s BJP secured 240 seats, falling short of a majority in the 543-member lower house. However, with the support of allies, particularly within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), they managed to surpass the 272-seat majority threshold, securing a total of 293 seats.

The swearing-in ceremony witnessed the oath-taking of several prominent figures:

– Rajnath Singh

– Amit Shah

– Nitin Gadkari

– JP Nadda

– Shivraj Singh Chouhan

– Nirmala Sitharaman

– S Jaishankar

– Manohar Lal Khattar

– HD Kumaraswamy

– Piyush Goyal

– Dharmendra Pradhan

– Jitan Ram Manjhi

– Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh

– Sarbananda Sonowal

– Dr Virendra Kumar

– Kinjarapu Ram Mohan Naidu

– Pralhad Joshi

– Jual Oram

– Giriraj Singh

– Ashwini Vaishnaw

– Jyotiraditya Scindia

– Bhupender Yadav

– Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

– Annapurna Devi

– Kiren Rijiju

– Hardeep Singh Puri

– Mansukh Mandaviya

– G Kishan Reddy

– Chirag Paswan

– CR Patil

Additionally, those taking oath as Ministers of State with Independent Charge include:

– Rao Inderjit Singh

– Jitendra Singh

– Arjun Ram Meghwal

– Prataprao Ganpatrao Jadhav

– Jayant Chaudhary

Furthermore, the Ministers of State are:

– Jitin Prasada

– Shripad Naik

– Pankaj Chaudhary

– Krishan Pal Gurjar

– Ramdas Athawale

– Ram Nath Thakur

– Nityanand Rai

– Anupriya Patel

– V Somanna

– Dr Chandra Sekhar Pemmasani

– SP Singh Baghel

– Shobha Karandlaje

– Kirti Vardhan Singh

– BL Verma

– Shantanu Thakur

– Suresh Gopi

– L Murugan

– Ajay Tamta

– Bandi Sanjay Kumar

– Kamlesh Paswan

– Bhagirath Chaudhary

– Satish Chandra Dubey

– Sanjay Seth

– Ravneet Singh Bittu

– Durga Das Uikey

– Raksha Khadse

– Sukanta Majumdar

– Savitri Thakur

– Tokhan Sahu

– Rajbhushan Chaudhary

– Bhupathiraju Srinivasa Varma

– Harsh Malhotra

– Nimuben Jayantibhai Bambhaniya

– Murlidhar Mohol

– George Kurian

– Pabitra Margherita

This extensive lineup reflects a diverse mix of leaders committed to serving the nation under Modi’s leadership, setting the stage for a dynamic and ambitious governance agenda ahead.

India Clinches Thrilling Victory Over Pakistan in T20 World Cup Showdown

Jasprit Bumrah showcased his brilliance, securing figures of 3-14 as India clinched a hard-fought six-run triumph against Pakistan in a pulsating T20 World Cup encounter in New York.

Pakistan’s Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah delivered commendable performances, both ending with impressive figures of 3-21 as India’s innings concluded at 119 runs in 19 overs amidst tricky conditions following morning rain.

Despite Rishabh Pant’s aggressive 42, crucial for India, their formidable bowling initially lacked its usual sting, allowing their opponents to reach 80-3 with six overs remaining, with Muhammad Rizwan leading the chase diligently.

The momentum shifted in India’s favor following Rizwan’s dismissal for 31, bowled by the exceptional Bumrah, who spearheaded India’s resurgence from a precarious position.

Requiring 18 runs off the final over, bowled by Arshdeep Singh, Pakistan managed only 10 runs, falling agonizingly short.

India has now emerged victorious in seven of their last nine encounters with Pakistan in T20 World Cups, with one match ending in no result.

This triumph at a New York stadium, scheduled for dismantling after the US leg of the T20 World Cup, holds particular significance for India. It not only edges their winless rivals closer to elimination but also places them on the verge of advancing to the Super 8s.

India’s batting prowess plays a pivotal role

Rohit Sharma adeptly tackled a challenging pitch in the opening victory against Ireland at the same venue, placing immense responsibility on India’s captain and most skilled batsman.

The fervent chants of “Rohit, Rohit, Rohit” echoed from the stands as he effortlessly dispatched the third ball of the match from Shaheen Afridi over the ropes. While this should have set the stage for a substantial total, India faltered as Virat Kohli fell to Naseem’s delivery and Rohit was caught in the deep while attempting a similar shot against Shaheen, exposing India’s vulnerable middle order.

However, there was no indication that India would settle for mere consolidation, especially with Pant striding to the crease in his characteristic flamboyant style. The left-hander played with his trademark audacity, swinging hard and connecting sporadically, contributing six crucial boundaries in a 31-ball innings that propelled his side to a moderately competitive total, with Axar Patel (20) among the few to reach double figures.

Pakistan’s seamers exhibited remarkable discipline throughout the innings, with Naseem and Rauf excelling as India’s last six wickets fell for a mere 24 runs.

Pakistan squander opportunity as Bumrah dazzles

India endured an early setback in Pakistan’s response, with misfields and missed catches, before Bumrah skillfully induced an edge off Babar Azam’s bat, leading to a fine slip catch by Suryakumar Yadav.

The majority of the packed crowd, numbering 34,028 and witnessing a sold-out Eisenhower Park, fervently backed India as their bowlers relentlessly pursued wickets.

Despite the imposing presence of the “blue wall,” Pakistan’s batters initially stood firm amidst sunny conditions and favorable batting conditions. Rizwan anchored the innings with a patient 44-ball knock before a lapse in judgment resulted in his dismissal while attempting to dispatch Bumrah through the leg side.

At that juncture, Pakistan remained the favorites, but the mounting pressure stifled their middle and lower order, who struggled to find boundaries against disciplined bowling.

Although Imad Wasim (15) offered resistance, India’s bowlers tightened the screws as the required run rate climbed. Bumrah played a pivotal role, complemented by Hardik Pandya (2-24) and Mohammed Siraj, who, despite remaining wicketless, conceded a mere 19 runs.

Following a surprising defeat to the United States in their opening match, Pakistan faces an uphill task. Even for a team known for its unpredictability, qualifying for the next stage from this position presents a daunting challenge.

Reactions from the captains:

India captain Rohit Sharma remarked, “We didn’t bat well enough – we were 15 runs short. With our bowling line-up, you feel confident. It is the never-say-die attitude in the team. You need everyone to show up and a little contribution for everyone makes a big difference, and we did that.”

Regarding the crowd, he added, “There is no doubt about it, the crowd was superb. They never disappoint, wherever we play in the world.”

Pakistan captain Babar Azam reflected, “We bowled well. At the halfway stage when batting we wanted to keep it simple, how we normally play. We didn’t capitalize properly and made the same mistakes in the last overs. We need to win big in our last two matches. We’ll discuss our mistakes.”

President of India Allocates Portfolios Among Union Council of Ministers

In a significant reshuffling of the Union Council of Ministers, the President of India, following the advice of the Prime Minister, has directed the allocation of portfolios among the members of the cabinet. The official announcement, released by the President’s Secretariat, outlines the responsibilities assigned to each minister, reflecting a strategic approach to governance and administration.

Prime Minister’s Responsibilities:

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will continue to hold the positions of:

  • Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
  • Department of Atomic Energy
  • Department of Space
  • All important policy issues
  • All other portfolios not allocated to any Minister

President of India Allocates Portfolios Among Union Council of Ministers 1

Cabinet Ministers:

  1. Shri Raj Nath Singh – Minister of Defence
  2. Shri Amit Shah – Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Cooperation
  3. Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari – Minister of Road Transport and Highways
  4. Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda – Minister of Health and Family Welfare, and Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers
  5. Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan – Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and Minister of Rural Development
  6. Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman – Minister of Finance, and Minister of Corporate Affairs
  7. Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar – Minister of External Affairs
  8. Shri Manohar Lal – Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, and Minister of Power
  9. Shri H. D. Kumaraswamy – Minister of Heavy Industries, and Minister of Steel
  10. Shri Piyush Goyal – Minister of Commerce and Industry
  11. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan – Minister of Education
  12. Shri Jitan Ram Manjhi – Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises
  13. Shri Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh – Minister of Panchayati Raj, and Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying
  14. Shri Sarbananda Sonowal – Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways
  15. Dr. Virendra Kumar – Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment
  16. Shri Kinjarapu Rammohan Naidu – Minister of Civil Aviation
  17. Shri Pralhad Joshi – Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and Minister of New and Renewable Energy
  18. Shri Jual Oram – Minister of Tribal Affairs
  19. Shri Giriraj Singh – Minister of Textiles
  20. Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw – Minister of Railways, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, and Minister of Electronics and Information Technology
  21. Shri Jyotiraditya M. Scindia – Minister of Communications, and Minister of Development of North Eastern Region
  22. Shri Bhupender Yadav – Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
  23. Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat – Minister of Culture, and Minister of Tourism
  24. Smt. Annpurna Devi – Minister of Women and Child Development
  25. Shri Kiren Rijiju – Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, and Minister of Minority Affairs
  26. Shri Hardeep Singh Puri – Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas
  27. Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya – Minister of Labour and Employment, and Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports
  28. Shri G. Kishan Reddy – Minister of Coal, and Minister of Mines
  29. Shri Chirag Paswan – Minister of Food Processing Industries
  30. Shri C R Patil – Minister of Jal Shakti

President of India Allocates Portfolios Among Union Council of Ministers 2

Ministers of State (Independent Charge):

  1. Rao Inderjit Singh – Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; Ministry of Planning; Ministry of Culture
  2. Dr. Jitendra Singh – Ministry of Science and Technology; Ministry of Earth Sciences; Prime Minister’s Office; Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions; Department of Atomic Energy; Department of Space
  3. Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal – Ministry of Law and Justice; Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
  4. Shri Jadhav Prataprao Ganpatrao – Ministry of Ayush; Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  5. Shri Jayant Chaudhary – Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship; Ministry of Education

Ministers of State:

The complete list of Ministers of State includes 36 officials, each assisting with multiple portfolios. Some key appointments include:

  1. Shri Jitin Prasada – Minister of State in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  2. Shri Shripad Yesso Naik – Minister of State in the Ministry of Power, Minister of State in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
  3. Shri Pankaj Chaudhary – Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance
  4. Shri Krishan Pal – Minister of State in the Ministry of Cooperation
  5. Shri Ramdas Athawale – Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  6. Shri Ram Nath Thakur – Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
  7. Shri Nityanand Rai – Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs
  8. Smt. Anupriya Patel – Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Minister of State in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers
  9. Shri V. Somanna – Minister of State in the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways
  10. Dr. Chandra Sekhar Pemmasani – Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development, Minister of State in the Ministry of Communications
  11. Prof. S. P. Singh Baghel – Minister of State in the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Minister of State in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj
  12. Sushri Sobha Karandlaje – Minister of State in the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Employment
  13. Shri Kirtivardhan Singh – Minister of State in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs
  14. Shri B. L. Verma – Minister of State in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Minister of State in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  15. Shri Shantanu Thakur – Minister of State in the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways
  16. Shri Suresh Gopi – Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism
  17. Dr. L. Murugan – Minister of State in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs
  18. Shri Ajay Tamta – Minister of State in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
  19. Shri Bandi Sanjay Kumar – Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs
  20. Shri Kamlesh Paswan – Minister of State in the Ministry of Rural Development
  21. Shri Bhagirath Choudhary – Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
  22. Shri Satish Chandra Dubey – Minister of State in the Ministry of Coal, Minister of State in the Ministry of Mines
  23. Shri Sanjay Seth – Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence
  24. Shri Ravneet Singh – Minister of State in the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways
  25. Shri Durgadas Uikey – Minister of State in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs
  26. Smt. Raksha Nikhil Khadse – Minister of State in the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports
  27. Shri Sukanta Majumdar – Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Minister of State in the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region
  28. Smt. Savitri Thakur – Minister of State in the Ministry of Women and Child Development
  29. Shri Tokhan Sahu – Minister of State in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
  30. Shri Raj Bhushan Choudhary – Minister of State in the Ministry of Jal Shakti
  31. Shri Bhupathi Raju Srinivasa Varma – Minister of State in the Ministry of Heavy Industries, Minister of State in the Ministry of Steel
  32. Shri Harsh Malhotra – Minister of State in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Minister of State in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
  33. Smt. Nimuben Jayantibhai Bambhaniya – Minister of State in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
  34. Shri Murlidhar Mohol – Minister of State in the Ministry of Cooperation, Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Aviation
  35. Shri George Kurian – Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Minister of State in the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying
  36. Shri Pabitra Margherita – Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, Minister of State in the Ministry of Textiles

This comprehensive allocation of portfolios underscores the government’s commitment to addressing diverse aspects of governance and ensuring effective management across various sectors. The reshuffle aims to bring in a balanced mix of experienced and new leaders, fostering a robust administrative framework to drive the nation’s development agenda forward.

Emmanuel Macron’s Political Gamble: Dissolving Parliament After Electoral Defeat

In Brussels, during previous EU leaders’ summits, Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism for his efforts to seize the spotlight. However, on Sunday night, he indisputably captured attention, albeit perhaps not in the manner he intended.

As votes for the European Parliament continued to be tallied, Macron emerged as the dominant figure in the headlines. His anticipated setback in the poll against French hard-right nationalists was no surprise, but his subsequent decision to dissolve the French national parliament came as a shock.

While he had toyed with the notion following his party’s defeat in France’s previous general election, few had expected such a move at this juncture. It’s a bold move, albeit from a position of vulnerability.

Identifying himself as a centrist and fervent supporter of European integration, Macron faces the prospect of navigating a snap general election scheduled for June 30 and July 7. This election could potentially force him to collaborate with a prime minister from the Eurosceptic far right—a scenario unprecedented in French politics.

Marine Le Pen, often depicted as Macron’s political adversary, proclaimed her party’s readiness to govern on Sunday. While France has previously witnessed instances where the president and prime minister hailed from different political factions, the appointment of a far-right prime minister would mark a historic departure.

In recent years, Le Pen has endeavored to broaden her party’s appeal and soften its extremist image. Her party’s significant victory at the EU level, securing more than double the votes garnered by Macron’s Renaissance party, has bolstered hopes of success in the upcoming snap election.

The success of Le Pen’s party reflects a broader trend across the EU, with the hard right and nationalist factions making gains fueled by concerns over migration, inflation, and the cost of environmental reforms. However, their ability to shape future EU policy remains uncertain, with centrist parties maintaining a firm grip on the majority of seats in the EU chamber.

Despite their collective grievances and populist rhetoric, uniting hard-right parties from different countries to exert influence at the EU level poses a formidable challenge. Divergent national priorities and ideological disparities, particularly regarding issues such as support for Ukraine against Russia, undermine cohesive action.

The hard right’s impact on environmental policy represents a tangible example of their influence on EU governance. Despite the EU’s ambitious climate agenda, the loss of seats by green parties in the European Parliament vote underscores growing public apprehension towards environmental regulations amid economic uncertainty.

Mass protests by farmers and public resistance to stringent environmental rules have provided fodder for the hard right to portray themselves as champions of the people against distant elites. Consequently, several EU environmental regulations were diluted or revoked ahead of the parliamentary vote, signaling potential setbacks in green initiatives.

As the nationalist right gains traction, traditional political labels become increasingly inadequate in gauging their influence. Some hard-right nationalists are adopting more mainstream positions to broaden their appeal, while center-right politicians mimic far-right rhetoric on contentious issues like migration and the environment to retain support.

Despite the media focus on far-right gains, it is the center-right that secured the largest number of seats and made significant gains in the European Parliament. However, such victories often pale in comparison to the sensationalism surrounding the rise of the far right.

In summary, Macron’s decision to dissolve parliament following his electoral defeat marks a pivotal moment in French politics, with far-reaching implications for EU governance and the balance of power within the European Parliament. As nationalist sentiments gain momentum, the landscape of European politics is poised for further upheaval, challenging traditional notions of political affiliation and influence.

It’s not the time for spats between India’s rulers and prelates

The Christian community needs a broad spectrum of political support and cannot afford to make new enemies

Narendra Modi took the oath of office as prime minister of India for the third consecutive time at Rashtrapati Bhawan, home to its president, on a warm Sunday night, an unusual time for such magnificent functions of state.

Squirming under the cloudless night, lit not by the moon and the stars but by gigantic floodlights, were heads of government of neighboring South Asian countries barring Pakistan, India’s trillionaires, and political stars across party lines.

Only some in the several thousand invited gathering would have noticed that among those sworn in were two junior ministers from the tiny state of Kerala in the extreme south of the country.

One was a Christian who had not contested any seat in the elections but was a staunch loyalist of the prime minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Kurien George, a former vice chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, and a senior state leader of the party, was sworn in as a minister of state. He is expected to be made a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, from one of the states where the BJP has significant strength in the legislative assembly.

The other new minister is also a strong BJP loyalist. Film actor Suresh Gopi created political history by winning for his party its maiden parliamentary seat in Kerala. The BJP had worked for it, conspired for it, and prayed for it, for all of half a century, without success. It had, though, come tantalizing close once when the then railway minister O Rajagopalan gave Congress star debater Shashi Tharoor a scare. Rajagopalan lost by a thin margin.

Gopi won rather handsomely from Trissur, beating seasoned professional politicians of both the Congress and Communist Party Marxist. In many ways, he did it without the help of Modi’s very noisy wooing of the Christian religious leadership in the state, and in New Delhi.

Observers attribute Gopi’s victory to not just his celebrity status as a popular film actor, but to his close connect with the people, particularly Christians who form a sizable chunk of the electorate in the Trissur constituency.

Gopi is chummy with bishops, is generous to local churches, and helps those in need. The bishops did not have to issue any calls from the pulpit to endear the people to this good Samaritan despite the baggage of his party’s image as a persecutor of Christians in north and northeast India.

Gopi by all accounts has also had more than a helpful nudge from the state’s Marxist Chief Minister Piniyari Vijayan, whose several visits to Trissur in the elections invited comment.

These developments are no less than a volcanic eruption and have sent strong shock waves through the state’s political structures.

For the Church, it is a time for introspection. The Catholic Church’s playing footsie with Modi and his party in Kerala, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), and some other regions, has not gone down well with the community which bears the brunt of the violence wreaked by the BJP’s militant associates in the militant Sangh Parivar or Hindu nationalists’ outfits affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the mother organization of the BJP, and alma mater of Modi.

Christians have traditionally been seen as supporters of the centrist Congress party which nationally is locked in a deathly tussle with the BJP-RSS.

For Vijayan, this is a fraught time. He too is a third-time elected head of government — of a state, though. Under his watch, his party has fared terribly, winning just one seat in the recent general election to parliament, with the remainder going to the Congress, an enemy in politics of the state, but a coalition partner in the rest of the country.

Vijayan faces criticism from his party as much for his personal style and family baggage, as for his poor stewardship, in managing the general election.

The spat this week between the chief minister and a local bishop has taken both Christians and Communists by surprise, though perhaps Modi, Gopi and George must have been greatly amused.

Mercifully for the Catholic Church — which is yet to get out of its own serious internal binds — no bishop of any of its three rites are involved.

The man in the spotlight is Dr. Geevarghese Mar Coorilose, the former Metropolitan of the Jacobite Syrian Church’s Niranam Diocese.

Mar Coorilose is a very popular and pleasant prelate known in the state as much for his simplicity and humor as for his commitment to the poor. This has earned him the sobriquet of being a leftist in the Church. He told people not to use the feudal “Thirumeni” in addressing him. He also resigned as bishop to spend his time in meditation and service.

It was possibly in that frame of mind that he took the chief minister to task for inviting an electoral defeat by his acts of commission and omission. In a Facebook post, Mar Coorilose said the huge defeat that the Marxists had to face in the general election was due to the erosion in people’s faith, and the poor performance of the second Pinarayi government, compared to the first one.

His advice was that the biggest political movement in Kerala, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, should not lose its relevance. And should be open to criticism. For good measure, the prelate seemingly mocked the relief packages the government had given to people impacted by the devastating floods in the state in 2018.

“Arrogance and opulence, if continued, would spell doom for the leftist government. Floods and epidemics will not come to your rescue every time, and the people will not fall for the ‘kit politics’ time and again, especially in Kerala,” Mar Coorilose posted on Facebook.

He cautioned that unless remedial steps were taken, the Marxists faced the sort of political wipeout they had faced in Bengal and Tripura, once their strongholds.

That touched the chief minister to the quick. He retorted with an epithet; language used more by young children in street fights than by a chief minister of a state.

“There has been no change in the behavior of this person, who once called a priest a wretch, and today he calls another priest ’empty-headed’. It can be understood that the nature of the caller has not changed,” said the Kerala Council of Churches (KCC), a joint confederation of Christian organizations, which came to the rescue of one of its own.

The last has not been heard of this exchange of words between the Church and the politician.

But beyond the bombast and brimstone, serious questions are being asked about relations between Church and State, and in particular, between the hierarchy and political parties and their leaders.

At 2.3 percent of India’s more than 1.4 billion people, the Christian community has no real say in the political processes, other than in Kerala, Goa, and the small states of the northeast such as Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Manipur. In the eastern states, the community has done well for itself in the general election this time. But in some states in North India, it is less than a tenth of a percent, and yet suffers in great measure with its nuns and pastors attacked, house churches outlawed, and schools and colleges vilified.

Also, though religious freedom is a constitutional right, the community still needs the goodwill of all political players in the land for its economic development and growth. The community needs a broad spectrum of political support and cannot afford to make new enemies.

This demands that its political, social and religious leaders work with all political parties in each one of the 30 states, big and small, to carefully impact policy-making and devolve resources from the state and federal exchequers to help the Dalits, tribal peoples and youth of the community.

The BJP, which is making friendly sounds in Kerala is hostile to the Christian community across the country. It has been vigorously curtailing Church activities through anti-conversion laws, curbs on foreign funding, and administrative pressure on its educational, medical institutions and activism.

Trump’s Revenge: Post-Conviction Vendetta Raises Alarms and Political Tensions

Since last week’s conviction of former President Trump on 34 felony counts, he and his supporters have been fixated on seeking revenge.

Within an hour of the verdict, Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) took to social media, suggesting it was time for “Red State AGs and DAs to get busy.”

Trump himself hinted at possible retaliation against Democrats, stating to Newsmax that it was “very possible” they could face prosecution in the future. He reiterated this sentiment on Fox News, asserting his “right to go after them” following his own legal battles.

His call for retribution extended to members of the House special committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, whom he suggested should face indictment. In an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, he even justified revenge, saying, “sometimes revenge can be justified.”

Trump has repeatedly framed his potential reelection as the ultimate revenge, asserting that his success would unify a deeply divided nation. However, concerns have risen about the emphasis on revenge from Trump and his allies, particularly in light of his unprecedented felony conviction.

According to Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), the use of the criminal justice system to target political adversaries undermines fundamental American values. He dismissed Republican attempts to paint legal actions against Trump as politically motivated, insisting there’s no evidence to support such claims.

Since his indictment last year, Trump has openly suggested targeting his opponents across various states, including proposing a special prosecutor to investigate the Biden family.

Republican lawmakers, echoing Trump’s grievances, have threatened repercussions against prosecutors and even floated the possibility of their own future prosecution.

Following Trump’s conviction, Republicans have called for cuts to federal funding for the Department of Justice and state-level prosecutors. Although such measures have limited impact, they signal a growing willingness to challenge legal institutions.

Some Republicans anticipate a more aggressive approach once Trump assumes office again, with his own appointees potentially reshaping the Justice Department.

Despite attempts from media figures to dissuade Trump from pursuing vendettas, he remains steadfast, attributing his conviction to political persecution.

While some lawmakers emphasize the importance of accountability and systemic improvements, others focus on retaliatory actions against perceived adversaries.

Despite criticisms of bias, Trump’s guilty verdict was unanimous, highlighting the strength of the case against him.

Democrats reject claims of unfair targeting, pointing to ongoing legal proceedings involving figures from both parties.

Trump’s fixation on revenge could harm him politically, with the Biden campaign contrasting his attacks on the justice system with the president’s focus on public issues and international diplomacy.

Biden has condemned Trump’s assaults on the legal system, warning of the damage to public trust in vital institutions.

In the wake of his criminal convictions, Trump’s priorities appear centered on preserving his own freedoms, raising questions about his motives and intentions moving forward.

Air India’s Expansion Sparks Concerns Among Middle Eastern Carriers: Saudia’s Chief Commercial Officer Warns of Potential Impact

India serves as a significant source of passenger traffic for numerous hub carriers, a fact not lost on industry observers. With Air India currently streamlining its operations and expanding its fleet to provide more direct long-haul services, there’s speculation about its potential impact on Middle Eastern carriers. During the CAPA India Aviation Summit 2024 in New Delhi, Arved von zur Muehlen, Saudia’s Chief Commercial Officer, shared insights on this matter.

Von zur Muehlen remarked that Air India’s recent resurgence and its future growth strategies could pose a challenge to the dominance of the major hub carriers in the Middle East. He highlighted the substantial presence of Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad in India and the broader subcontinent, noting that a significant portion of this traffic comprises transit passengers rather than those flying directly to their destinations. Von zur Muehlen suggested that as Air India expands its nonstop flight offerings to popular global destinations, more Indian travelers may opt for the national carrier instead of taking connecting flights. Referring to Air India as a “sleeping giant,” he emphasized that the current high volume of hub traffic from India is largely due to the relatively weaker position of Air India in the market.

While acknowledging Saudia’s status as a Middle Eastern carrier, von zur Muehlen differentiated it from the other major Middle Eastern carriers by highlighting that over 90% of its traffic to and from India is point-to-point. He indicated that Saudia is not actively seeking additional bilateral rights from India, as it has yet to fully utilize its existing quota.

The desire for increased access to Indian airports among foreign carriers, particularly those from the Middle East, is evident. However, the bilateral agreements governing air traffic rights have not undergone significant revisions in a considerable time, prompting foreign carriers to seek expanded opportunities in the Indian market. In 2022, the UAE proposed adding another 50,000 seats per week between the two countries, which would benefit Dubai-based carriers seeking a greater presence in India. Indian authorities, however, have shown reluctance to revise these agreements, prioritizing the growth and development of domestic carriers to cater to local demand. Air India’s CEO Campbell Wilson supports this stance, emphasizing the importance of nurturing a robust network and fleet.

India’s position on granting additional rights to foreign carriers appears steadfast, with little indication of softening. Even in instances where negotiations are possible, India seeks to ensure mutual benefit. For instance, reports earlier this year suggested that India proposed receiving nine seats for every extra seat offered to Kuwait. The outcome of these negotiations and their implications for the aviation landscape in the coming years remain uncertain.

 

Modi’s Grip Weakens as Indian Billionaires Face Scrutiny: A Tale of Cronyism and Economic Inequality

A few weeks before the election that diminished Narendra Modi’s hold on India, the elite flocked to his home state of Gujarat. The event was described by an Indian writer as “likely the most ostentatious pre-wedding ceremony the modern world has ever seen”.

In March, to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of Anant Ambani, the youngest son of Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Ivanka Trump flew in. The entertainment included Rihanna and Akon. The nearby airport, typically reserved for India’s armed forces, received special permission for non-military jets to land, as reported by the media.

“When it comes to helping out his rich industrialist friends, prime minister Modi is willing to do anything,” Jairam Ramesh, a leading opposition politician, posted on X at the time.

After a decade in power, a recent study showed that 40% of India’s wealth is now in the hands of just 1% of the population. This stark inequality, embodied by Modi’s favored tycoons, may explain his shocking loss of majority in parliament this week.

Discontent has been simmering for years. When Modi attempted to scrap price protections for small farmers in 2020, protesters burned effigies of him and two moguls who have thrived under his rule, one being Ambani.

Ambani oversees an industrial empire founded by his father, amassing a $110bn (£86.4bn) fortune, comparable to the wealth of the US tech moguls who attended his son’s pre-wedding event. Ambani’s competitors have alleged that Modi’s administration facilitated his telecom venture’s dominance in the Indian market.

While the Ambanis have maintained good relations with the state across various administrations, the other effigy-burning protestors targeted a businessman whose rise is closely linked to Modi.

Gautam Adani supported Modi when he was Gujarat’s chief minister and became a pariah after overseeing riots that killed hundreds of Muslims. When Modi ascended to the prime minister’s office, propelled by his strong Hindu nationalism, he traveled to New Delhi on Adani’s private jet. Adani soon secured numerous government infrastructure contracts, boosting his wealth until he joined Ambani among the world’s top 20 richest individuals. Both tycoons praise the prime minister. Neither’s company responded to requests for comment.

Adani claims he is engaged in “nation-building”. His supporters, like Ambani’s, draw parallels with South Korea’s chaebol business clans, which enjoy privileges but drive economic growth. Under Modi, growth has been rapid enough for India to surpass the UK as the fifth largest economy.

However, the rise of Indian billionaires offers little to the millions of Indians barely scraping by. “There’s a lot of pain clouded by these huge top-line growth numbers,” said Sandipto Dasgupta, an expert on Indian politics at the New School for Social Research in New York.

A recent analysis by economists, including Thomas Piketty, suggested that India under Modi is now more unequal than it was under British rule. “It is unclear how long such inequality levels can sustain without major social and political upheaval,” they wrote. When asked about the study, Modi responded: “Should everyone be poor?”

Rahul Gandhi, who has led the opposition Indian National Congress party to a resurgence, focused on cronyism in his attacks. Early in Modi’s tenure, Gandhi labeled his administration a “suit-boot ki sarkar”, meaning a government for the wealthy.

Such criticisms seemed to have little impact on the seemingly invincible Modi for years. But Gandhi persisted, often mentioning Adani and Ambani. In May, Modi appeared to distance himself from the two tycoons, claiming they were providing “truckloads” of money to his opponents.

“During the campaign, people said nobody cares about this,” said James Crabtree, author of Billionaire Raj. “But maybe, actually, they did.” Defeats for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, suggest his anti-Muslim rhetoric failed to secure votes from poorer Indians, who remain affected by chronic unemployment.

If the stock market is any indicator, the election results spell trouble for the likes of Adani. When exit polls wrongly predicted a resounding BJP victory, prices soared for “Modi stocks”, including those in Adani’s companies. The actual results caused a sharp decline. At one point, Adani’s worth dropped by $25bn from its pre-election value.

For the first time, Modi will need to govern in coalition, requiring him to share ministries and their budgets with allies. This shift, according to Rohit Chandra, a political economist at the Indian Institute of Technology, will alter who benefits from state favoritism. “There will be different cronies from different regions. This is a welcome change.”

Sania Mirza Opens Up About Biopic Possibilities, Divorce, and Admiration for Akshay Kumar on Kapil Sharma’s Show

Sports icons Sania Mirza, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, and Sift Kaur recently appeared as guests on Netflix’s “The Great Indian Kapil Show.” During their conversation with host Kapil Sharma, the topic of a Bollywood biopic on Sania Mirza came up. Sania shared her thoughts humorously and candidly, providing an interesting perspective on the idea.

Kapil Sharma noted that Mary Kom had Priyanka Chopra portray her in a 2014 biopic, and Parineeti Chopra played Saina Nehwal in 2021. When asked who she would prefer to play her in a film, Sania joked, “Inki koi behen bachi hain? (Are there any sisters left?)” She continued, “No, I think we have many good actors in our country. Anyone is fine. Or maybe I should play myself.”

Kapil further mentioned that Shah Rukh Khan had once expressed interest in playing Sania’s love interest if a biopic were made. This prompted a momentary awkwardness for Sania, considering her recent divorce from cricketer Shoaib Malik. Lightening the mood, she responded, “But I need to find a love interest first.” When Kapil asked if she would act in her biopic if Shah Rukh starred in it, she said, “If Shah Rukh ji does the film, I might play myself. And I’ll definitely do it if Akshay Kumar is in it.”

Kapil also inquired how Sania managed to get Swiss tennis player Martina Hingis to be her doubles partner, jesting if it was through Hyderabadi biryani. Sania replied humorously, “I took Farah (Khan) along, and she fed us biryani.”

Sania Mirza’s admiration for Akshay Kumar has been evident over the years. In 2014, Akshay attended one of her International Premier Tennis League (ITPL) matches, along with celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Aamir Khan. During the pandemic in 2020, when Sania was in India and Shoaib Malik was in Pakistan, they had a ‘virtual date’ over Instagram live. During a game of “Ditch and Marry,” Shoaib asked her to choose between Tom Cruise and Akshay Kumar. Sania’s response highlighted her long-standing admiration: “I’ve liked Akshay Kumar since Mohra days. I’m not gonna ditch him. When nobody liked Akshay, I liked Akshay.”

The conversation with Kapil Sharma also touched on Sania and Shoaib Malik’s divorce. After months of speculation, Shoaib and Sana Javed posted their wedding photos on Instagram on January 19, 2024. Sania’s family confirmed the separation, stating that she and Shoaib had been divorced for a few months. The family’s statement read, “Sania has always kept her personal life away from the public eye. However, today the need has arisen for her to share that Shoaib and she have been divorced for a few months now. She wishes Shoaib well for his new journey ahead.”

The playful exchange on “The Great Indian Kapil Show” provided insights into Sania Mirza’s life and career, mixing light-hearted moments with personal revelations. It showcased Sania’s sense of humor, her openness about her personal life, and her deep admiration for Akshay Kumar, adding a relatable and humanizing touch to the sports star’s public persona.

Shashi Tharoor Asserts INDIA Bloc’s Role as Strong Opposition Amid Modi’s Coalition Government Formation

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor stated on Thursday, June 6, 2024, that the INDIA bloc will act as a strong and effective opposition. Speaking with ANI, Tharoor emphasized that the alliance’s numbers give them legitimacy, and there is no point in creating unnecessary drama. He said, “The truth is that they do have the numbers in a pre-poll alliance, so there’s no question of begrudging them their right to form the government. And I think the INDIA bloc decided very clearly there’s no point in trying to create drama out of this. Let them form the government and we will be a robust and effective opposition.”

Tharoor also highlighted that coalitions, contrary to being detrimental, can enhance accountability for the Prime Minister and his party. Reflecting on the past decade of governance, he remarked, “In the last ten years, the kind of governance we saw was my way or the highway, demonetize the currency and don’t even consult the cabinet and your Finance Minister.” He took a critical stance on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, indicating that Modi will now have to heed the views of his coalition partners due to the lack of a majority.

The Election Commission of India reported that the BJP won 240 seats, a significant drop from their 2019 tally of 303 seats. In contrast, the Congress party showed notable progress, securing 99 seats. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) won a total of 292 seats, whereas the INDIA bloc managed to secure over 230 seats, presenting a formidable challenge and surpassing many predictions.

Despite winning his third term, PM Modi’s BJP required the support of coalition partners, particularly JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu. NDA leaders passed a unanimous resolution during their meeting, re-electing Narendra Modi as their leader. PM Modi is scheduled to take the oath for the third time over the weekend.

Following the Union Cabinet’s recommendation, President Droupadi Murmu dissolved the 17th Lok Sabha on Wednesday, June 5. The Rashtrapati Bhavan issued a statement confirming the dissolution: “The President accepted the advice of the Cabinet on June 5, 2024, and signed the Order dissolving the 17th Lok Sabha in the exercise of the powers conferred upon her by Sub-Clause (2) of Article 85 of the Constitution.”

Major US Banks Under Fire for Failing to Protect Customers from Fraud on Zelle: Senate Panel Report

JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo are under scrutiny for not adequately safeguarding their customers from substantial fraud and scams, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars each year, according to a US Senate panel. During a hearing by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Chairman and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal highlighted the extent of the issue, revealing that the customers of these banking giants filed claims to recover a staggering $456 million in 2022, all lost through scams and fraud on the payments network Zelle.

“The banks of America have a dirty little secret. It’s called Zelle,” Senator Blumenthal stated during the hearing. He criticized Zelle’s marketing, which promotes the service as “a fast and easy way to send and receive money.” However, as the Senator pointed out, the Committee’s findings suggest that Zelle often facilitates a “fast and easy way to lose money.”

Zelle, a network co-owned by seven major US banks including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, is under fire for giving users a false sense of security while leaving them exposed to significant fraud risks. Blumenthal elaborated on this, saying, “Zelle transfers are nearly instant and irreversible, and by the time a consumer knows they’ve been scammed, usually it’s too late to do anything about it – at least according to Zelle and according to the banks that own, control, and in effect operate Zelle.”

The Senator emphasized the deceptive sense of trust that Zelle and its owning banks offer to consumers, stating, “Zelle and the banks that own it offer to customers the appearance of the trust they feel they deserve. But the risks there are real and present, and they simply are failing to protect consumers in the way that they deserve.”

The Subcommittee’s investigation revealed that out of the $456 million reported lost by customers due to scams on Zelle in 2022, only $341 million was refunded. This leaves a substantial amount unrecovered, highlighting the vulnerabilities and inefficiencies in the current protection mechanisms. Additionally, the panel found that 13% of users on Zelle and other peer-to-peer payment platforms reported sending money to someone, only to later discover it was a scam.

In response to the Senate panel’s concerns, Zelle’s parent company, Early Warning Services, LLC, issued a statement. “Providing a safe and reliable service to consumers is the top priority of Early Warning Services, LLC, the network operator of Zelle, and our 2,100 participating banks and credit unions. As a result of our continued efforts to build on Zelle’s strong foundation of security, less than one-tenth of one percent (.1%) of transactions are reported as fraud or scams, making Zelle one of the safest ways for consumers to pay people they know and trust. Zelle is also currently generally free for most consumers.”

Despite these assurances, the Senate panel’s findings suggest that the measures in place are not sufficient to protect consumers fully. The discrepancy between the amount lost and the amount repaid points to gaps in the system that need to be addressed. The hearing has brought to light the urgent need for more stringent security measures and better consumer protection protocols on peer-to-peer payment platforms like Zelle.

The Senate panel’s investigation sheds light on the pressing issue of financial security in digital transactions. As peer-to-peer payment platforms become increasingly popular, the responsibility to protect consumers from fraud falls heavily on the service providers and the banks that support them. The findings from this investigation underscore the need for more robust security measures and greater accountability from financial institutions involved in such payment networks.

The revelations have sparked a call for action, urging banks and payment networks to enhance their security frameworks and provide better protection for their customers. The issue of fraud on Zelle is not just a minor inconvenience; it represents a significant financial risk to consumers, many of whom rely on these platforms for everyday transactions. The Senate panel’s scrutiny aims to push for changes that will make digital financial transactions safer and more secure for all users.

The investigation by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has highlighted a critical flaw in the current financial ecosystem, where major banks like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo are not doing enough to shield their customers from fraud on the Zelle network. The substantial losses reported and the relatively low repayment rates indicate that much more needs to be done to protect consumers. The Senate panel’s findings and the subsequent responses from the involved parties underscore the urgent need for enhanced security measures and better consumer protection to prevent such fraud in the future.

Cannes Triumphs Ignite Hope for Indian Indie Films Despite Funding Challenges

India had an extraordinary year at the Cannes Film Festival, securing three significant awards and a notable honor, which industry experts believe will positively influence the country’s independent cinema.

Payal Kapadia’s “All We Imagine as Light” won the competition grand prix, Anasuya Sengupta received the best actress award in the festival’s Un Certain Regard section for “The Shameless,” and Chidananda S. Naik’s “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know” was named the best film in the La Cinef section. Additionally, Indian cinematographer Santosh Sivan was honored with the annual Pierre Angénieux ExcelLens in Cinematography award.

“All We Imagine as Light” marked the first Indian film in competition in three decades since Shaji N. Karun’s “Swaham” in 1994. Other Indian films at Cannes included “Sister Midnight” in the Directors’ Fortnight, “Santosh” in Un Certain Regard, and “Girls Will Be Girls,” which had previously won two prizes at Sundance, in the Cannes Écrans Juniors sidebar. Overall, nine Indian films featured across various Cannes sections.

Despite this success, financing independent films in India remains a daunting challenge. Most of the funding for films like “All We Imagine as Light,” “The Shameless,” “Sister Midnight,” and “Santosh” came from European sources. Nandita Das, an actor and filmmaker who has served on Cannes juries and whose film “Manto” was part of Un Certain Regard in 2018, hopes these wins will lead to increased Indian funding for independent films.

Das remarks, “Now we are all feeling very proud and happy with this win [for ‘All We Imagine as Light’], but which producer in India would have actually produced this film? A lot of the money is really coming from Europe.” She emphasizes that a producer’s role extends beyond financing to supporting the director in realizing her vision. “I’m very obviously happy that Payal could do this film, but I feel like she could do it because she had that support and those producers from Europe. Now, whether this will percolate into people having more faith in indie films in India, and therefore support it? I don’t know.”

Das reflects on India’s arthouse Parallel Cinema movement that thrived from the 1950s to the 1980s but waned in the 1990s. “It’s now that time where I hope there will be a revival of that independent voice and space for more independent films,” she says.

Mohaan Nadaar, from The Production Headquarters, which funds debut and women empowerment Indian-themed films, financially backed “The Shameless.” Nadaar believes that the Cannes wins validate independent cinema, suggesting that funding for indie films in India will “eventually” become easier. “When people realize that these films will also eventually get sold in the international market worldwide and raise monies,” he explains, citing “All We Imagine as Light,” which has been sold to North America and other territories.

Regarding local distribution of Indian indies, Nadaar expresses cautious optimism. He plans to release the queer love story “The Shameless” in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh, stating, “There’s an audience for it.” He notes, “There’s a lot of LGBT and queer movie demand also here. It will do well if it releases sensibly across limited screens.”

Producer and box office analyst Girish Johar shares Nadaar’s views, acknowledging that while Cannes-winning films will gain attention, their theatrical market in India is limited to around 100 screens in metropolitan areas. Johar adds that the Cannes success has instilled a “sense of pride,” and now, out of 20 indie films pitched to Indian producers, “there is an iota of hope that one or two can be greenlit by them.”

Looking beyond Cannes to the Oscars, where India recently won for the “Naatu Naatu” song in “RRR” and the live-action documentary short “The Elephant Whisperers,” there is anticipation that “All We Imagine as Light” will be India’s official entry in the international feature category. Filmmakers must apply to the Film Federation of India, which appoints a committee to select the entry. Past decisions have been inconsistent, from overlooking “The Lunchbox” in 2013 to shortlisting Pan Nalin’s “Last Film Show” in 2022. India has only three nominations—“Mother India,” “Salaam Bombay,” and “Lagaan”—and no wins in this category.

Das points out, “The kind of films that have gone to the Oscars has been very arbitrary and erratic, depending on who is in that committee and what their wisdom is telling them. So I don’t think it’s such an obvious choice, when we’d be happy for it to go.”

“Last Film Show” producer Dheer Momaya believes “All We Imagine as Light” should “definitely” be India’s entry, citing its strong response at Cannes and recognition among voting members. He criticizes the timing of the Indian selection process, which announces its candidate in late September or early October. “By then you’ve already lost that opportunity, that first mover’s advantage to cement yourself in the voters’ heads,” he says, noting that favored contenders start their Oscar campaigns as early as July.

With the Oscar voting membership becoming more diverse, Momaya is hopeful that international voters will relate to “All We Imagine as Light.”

Das concludes, “The more local a film is, the more global it is, especially for something like the Oscars. You want the film to truly depict the context of that country, tell a story that is truly quintessential of that country, not something that’s more generic. So in that sense, this [‘All We Imagine as Light’] film seems to fit that space of being authentically Indian.”

Intense Clashes Across Ukraine: Key Battles in Kupyansk, Lyman, and Bakhmut as Russia Suffers Heavy Losses

In recent developments regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict, significant military activities have been reported across various regions, indicating ongoing intense clashes and strategic maneuvers by both sides.

In the Kupyansk direction, Ukrainian forces faced substantial artillery and mortar fire from Russian troops in the Kharkiv region, particularly around the settlements of Novomlynsk, Figolivka, and Dvorichna. Similarly, in the Lyman direction, Russian forces attempted offensive actions near Kreminna and Bilogorivka in the Luhansk region, though these efforts were largely unsuccessful. Airstrikes targeted multiple settlements in the Donetsk region, including Dibrova and Spirne, and artillery fire hit areas like Nevske and Bilogorivka in Luhansk.

The situation in Bakhmut remains critical, with Russian forces conducting unsuccessful offensive actions towards Klishchiivka and launching airstrikes near Bila Hora in Donetsk. Ukrainian settlements such as Vasyukivka and Ivanivske were subjected to heavy artillery fire. Conversely, in the Avdiivka direction, no major offensive operations were reported, though airstrikes and artillery shelling continued in areas like Novokalynove and Pervomaiske

In Marinka, Ukrainian defenders repelled 13 attacks, while Russian forces launched airstrikes and artillery fire on several settlements, including Maksimilianivka and Novomykhailivka. In the Shakhtarsk direction, Russian airstrikes hit Vugledar and Zolota Niva, with additional shelling reported in Prechistivka and NovoukrainkaThe Zaporizhzhia and Kherson directions saw continued defensive operations by Russian forces, who conducted airstrikes and artillery shelling in multiple settlements, including Olhivskyi in the Zaporizhzhia region and Odradokamyanka in Kherson. Ukrainian forces responded with significant airstrikes and artillery attacks, targeting Russian personnel, anti-aircraft systems, and other critical military infrastructure

On the diplomatic front, tensions continue to rise. Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister, Hanna Maliar, reported that Russian forces are struggling to maintain control over occupied territories, indicating a potential shift in the conflict dynamics. Moreover, Ukraine has been receiving increased military support from Western allies, including advanced weaponry, which has bolstered its defensive and offensive capabilities

Humanitarian concerns are also prominent. The conflict has led to severe civilian casualties and displacement. Efforts to evacuate civilians from conflict zones are ongoing, though they face significant challenges due to continued hostilities and infrastructure damage. The international community remains engaged, with various organizations providing aid and support to affected populations

The situation remains fluid, with both sides experiencing significant losses. Ukrainian forces reported that Russian manpower losses were particularly high, with approximately 880 soldiers killed in recent engagements. This highlights the intense and costly nature of the ongoing conflict

Overall, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine shows no signs of abating, with both military and diplomatic efforts continuing to shape the course of events. The international community watches closely, aware of the broader implications for regional and global stability.

USA Stuns Pakistan in Super Over Thriller, Tops Group A in T20 World Cup

In a stunning display of resilience, newcomers USA triumphed over former champions Pakistan in a Super Over to secure their most significant victory in a T20 World Cup match on Thursday. This win not only highlighted the declining state of cricket in Pakistan but also drew parallels with their infamous three-wicket loss to Ireland in the 2007 ODI World Cup, which led to their early exit from that tournament.

With this victory, USA ascended to the top of Group A, having won both their matches so far. They had previously defeated Canada by seven wickets in their opener. This impressive performance sets the stage for their upcoming clash against India.

Electing to field first, USA’s left-arm spinner Nosthush Kenjige delivered an impressive spell, taking three wickets for 30 runs. Pakistan struggled to gain momentum and managed a total of 159 for seven. Kenjige’s ability to restrict Pakistan’s batsmen played a crucial role in keeping their score within reach.

In response, USA matched Pakistan’s total, scoring 159 for 3. Skipper Monank Patel led from the front with a crucial 50 off 38 balls, supported by Aaron Jones, who remained unbeaten with 36 off 26, and Andries Gous, who added a brisk 35 off 26. Their collective effort ensured the match ended in a tie, necessitating a Super Over.

During the Super Over, USA accumulated 18 runs, with eight of those coming from extras bowled by Mohammad Amir. Saurabh Netravalkar then showcased his composure, restricting Pakistan to just 13 runs, thus sealing a memorable win for USA.

Kenjige’s impactful performance set the tone early in the match, putting Pakistan on the back foot. Despite their efforts, Pakistan found it challenging to accelerate, managing only 159 for seven. Kenjige’s three wickets for 30 runs were pivotal in keeping Pakistan in check.

USA’s chase was spearheaded by Monank Patel, who displayed his prowess through the off-side, particularly against Iftikhar Ahmed, hitting two consecutive boundaries through the cover region. Patel’s aggressive approach was evident as he hit Afridi for a boundary over mid-off and followed it up with a six over the bowler’s head, bringing up his 50 off 34 balls. However, his 68-run second-wicket partnership with Gous was eventually broken by Haris Rauf, who bowled a quick delivery that dismissed Gous.

Pakistan managed to pick up crucial wickets, including that of Patel, who edged a delivery from Mohammad Amir to Rizwan. Aaron Jones, continuing his excellent form from the previous match against Canada, remained unbeaten on 36 off 26 balls. Together with Nitish Kumar (14 not out off 14), Jones guided USA into the Super Over.

The chase saw Jones needing to score 12 runs off the last three balls. He hit a full toss from Rauf over square leg for a six, followed by a single, reducing the target to five off the final ball.

Earlier in Pakistan’s innings, they lost Usman Khan early, who mistimed a delivery from Kenjige. Fakhar Zaman’s aggressive attempt was short-lived as he was caught off a simple catch by Taylor from Ali Khan’s delivery in the fifth over, leaving Pakistan at 26 for 3. Shadab Khan (40 off 25) and skipper Babar Azam (44 off 43) then steadied the ship, particularly with Shadab hitting two consecutive sixes off Jasdeep Singh and Azam finishing the 10th over with a boundary, accumulating 20 runs.

The partnership between Shadab and Babar injected momentum into Pakistan’s innings as they attacked Harmeet Singh’s bowling. However, Kenjige’s double strike in the 13th over, dismissing both Shadab and Azam Khan on consecutive deliveries, brought USA back into contention. Shadab was caught at short fine leg, while Azam Khan was trapped in front of the wicket. Azam, who narrowly missed another half-century, went for a review, but the decision stood.

Towards the end of Pakistan’s innings, contributions from Iftikhar Ahmed (18 off 14) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (23 not out off 16) pushed the score beyond the 150-run mark. Despite their efforts, it wasn’t enough to secure a win against a determined USA side.

USA’s positive body language was evident throughout the match, especially with Patel and Gous leading the charge. Patel’s capability to score through the off-side and his aggressive play against Afridi highlighted his innings. His half-century off 34 balls, marked by a six over the bowler’s head, was a key moment in USA’s chase. The dismissal of key players like Patel and Gous by Rauf and Amir, respectively, brought tension into the match, but Jones’ calm presence ensured USA stayed in the game.

In the climactic Super Over, USA’s 18 runs, boosted by extras from Amir, set a challenging target for Pakistan. Netravalkar’s disciplined bowling under pressure restricted Pakistan to 13 runs, clinching a remarkable victory for the USA.

This historic win not only underlines USA’s potential in international cricket but also serves as a wake-up call for Pakistan, reflecting the tumultuous state of their cricket. As USA prepares for their next match against India, they will carry the confidence of this landmark victory.

Study Reveals Intense Exercise May Suppress Immune Function in Firefighters

Excessive intense exercise might suppress the immune system, a potential concern for those with physically demanding jobs such as emergency responders and athletes. A 2023 study involving over 4,700 post-exercise fluid molecules from firefighters supports this notion.

Ernesto Nakayasu, a biomedical scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), explains, “People who are very fit might be more prone to viral respiratory infection immediately after vigorous exercise. Having less inflammatory activity to fight off an infection could be one cause.”

Moderate physical activity is known to benefit the immune system over time. However, the immediate impact of vigorous exercise on the immune system is debated. Although some prior studies have reported upper respiratory tract infections in athletes after strenuous activity, there is little concrete evidence linking intense exercise directly to an increased risk of opportunistic infections.

Nakayasu and colleagues conducted an experiment on 11 firefighters, analyzing their blood plasma, urine, and saliva before and after a 45-minute intense exercise session, which involved carrying up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of gear over hilly terrain.

Kristin Burnum-Johnson, a bioanalytical chemist at PNNL, said, “We wanted to take an in-depth look at what’s happening in the body and see if we’re able to detect danger from exhaustion in its earliest stages. Perhaps we can reduce the risk of strenuous exercise for first responders, athletes, and members of the military.”

Exercise undoubtedly benefits health, from mood enhancement to immune system strengthening. However, similar to previous studies, this new research found signs of possible immune suppression in the firefighters post-exercise.

Amid the expected physical adaptations to meet the demands of increased fluids, energy, and oxygen during exercise, a decrease in inflammation-related molecules was observed, alongside an increase in opiorphin, which dilates peripheral blood vessels.

The implications of these changes for short-term immune function remain unclear, though the researchers offer hypotheses. “[Opiorphin] may increase blood flow to muscles during the exercise regimen to improve the delivery of oxygen and nutrients,” the researchers write. They suggest the decrease in inflammatory molecules after exercise could be an adaptive response to improve gas exchange due to higher cellular oxygen demand.

The participants’ oral microbiome also changed, possibly due to an increase in antimicrobial peptides in their mouths after intense activity. This increase may compensate for immune suppression, though this is debated. “However, this increase in antimicrobial peptides had no effect on inhibiting E. coli growth,” Nakayasu and his team note, indicating a limited protective capacity of these peptides against infections in the oral cavity.

Other scientists argue that some observed changes might indicate a “heightened state of immune surveillance and immune regulation” rather than immune suppression.

While the study’s within-subject comparison minimized the small sample size impact, firefighters’ unique exposure to pollutants during fires might also alter their immune responses.

Moreover, the study only involved healthy, active men, prompting researchers to call for broader research to confirm their findings. Despite these limitations, Nakayasu and his team conclude, “There is evidence supporting a relationship between physical demands and a higher incidence of respiratory infections.”

Biden Commemorates D-Day Anniversary, Vows Continued Support for Ukraine and Democratic Values

President Joe Biden commemorated the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday, using the occasion to warn against isolationism and affirm the U.S. commitment to Ukraine. Speaking in Normandy, Biden emphasized the strength alliances provide, calling the D-Day beaches “a powerful illustration of how alliances make us stronger,” and prayed Americans never forget this lesson.

Biden addressed a crowd of aging World War II veterans, many over 100 years old and in wheelchairs. He acknowledged that soon “the last living voices of those who fought and bled on D-Day will no longer be with us,” urging the nation to remember the significance of the postwar democratic order. “We cannot let what happened here be lost in the silence of the years to come,” Biden stated. “The fact that they were heroes here that day does not absolve us of what we have to do today.”

His speech combined solemn reflections with urgent calls for action. Flanked by French President Emmanuel Macron, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and dozens of American veterans, Biden praised the bravery of World War II’s last living fighters and linked their efforts to the current conflict in Ukraine. Highlighting the recent NATO expansion and the Ukrainian fight against Russian invasion, he promised never to yield to autocrats like Russian President Vladimir Putin. The coalition supporting Ukraine “will not walk away,” Biden declared, warning that “all of Europe will be threatened” if Ukraine falls. “The autocrats of the world are watching closely … to surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators, is simply unthinkable.”

This speech marked the beginning of a multi-day trip, during which Biden will honor one of the most significant military battles in U.S. history and reiterate the importance of democratic values. Biden arrived at the Normandy American Cemetery early, met with 41 D-Day veterans—most of whom are over 100 years old—and recorded an interview with ABC News anchor David Muir. Alongside First Lady Jill Biden, the president greeted each veteran personally in a gazebo overlooking Omaha Beach, saluting and shaking hands with all before posing for pictures.

To one 102-year-old veteran, Biden remarked, “The greatest generation ever, man. You saved the world.” He bent down to look another veteran in the eyes and repeated, “You saved the world.”

As the ceremony began, approximately 170 American WWII veterans were brought in on wheelchairs, highlighting both the time elapsed since D-Day and the likelihood that this would be the last major commemoration with a significant number of living veterans present. Macron, who spoke before Biden, emphasized the “eternal bond” between the U.S. and France, describing it as a “blood tie, shed for liberty.” He honored the soldiers who landed on Normandy’s beaches, noting their sacrifices and recounting several veterans’ histories of service. “The free world needed each of you and you said yes when we asked for help,” Macron said, switching to English for this part of his speech. “And you are back here today at home.”

Later that afternoon, Biden planned to attend a larger D-Day commemoration at Omaha Beach alongside world leaders such as Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who is likely to become NATO’s next secretary general. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was also expected to attend. Biden and Zelenskyy were anticipated to have a brief discussion on recent developments in Russia’s invasion and potential additional security measures.

On Friday, Biden will return to Normandy to deliver a more extensive speech at Pointe du Hoc, a significant 100-foot cliff scaled by Army Rangers during the D-Day invasion. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan explained that these back-to-back speeches aim to “draw a through line” from World War II, through the Cold War, to the present day. “The Pointe du Hoc speech is a speech about, in his view, timeless principles — principles that have served as the foundation of American security and American democracy for generations — including the generation that scaled those cliffs, including today’s generation, including the next generation,” Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One.

In his address, Biden underscored the connection between the sacrifices of the past and the current global struggle for democracy, using the memory of D-Day to highlight the importance of unity and continued vigilance against authoritarianism.

UNICEF Report: 181 Million Children Suffer from Severe Food Poverty Amid Global Crises

Many children worldwide are not getting enough to eat, but what does “not enough” look like? In East Africa, it means babies receive a mix of breast milk and maize porridge. In Yemen, it’s a paste made of flour and water. In conflict zones like Gaza, children might eat raw lemon and weeds.

A new UNICEF report examines what children in 137 low- and middle-income countries are being fed and its impact on their growth and development. The findings are alarming: one in four children under five experience “severe food poverty,” meaning they consume two or fewer food groups daily. “It amounts to 181 million children who are deprived of the diets they need to survive,” says Harriet Torlesse, a nutrition specialist at UNICEF and the lead author of the report. “If you think about these diets, they really don’t contain the range of vitamins and minerals and proteins that children need to grow and develop.”

Nutrition experts, in discussions with NPR, highlighted that the world is not progressing in combating malnutrition and hunger. The COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation, and localized conflicts have exacerbated food supply disruptions and increased food prices.

However, the report also notes some positive developments, showing that several low-income countries have made strides in providing better nutrition to children under five. Here are four key takeaways from the report:

  1. Not Just About Quantity, But Quality of Food

Richmond Aryeetey, a professor of nutrition at the University of Ghana, explains that the issue is twofold: “There are those who are not getting enough who would fall into the full poverty criteria. And then there are also those who potentially have the opportunity to get enough but are being fed unhealthy food.” Aggressive marketing of snacks and sugary beverages, particularly targeting children, plays a significant role in this. In low-income countries, regulating these industries is more challenging. Deanna Olney, Director of the Nutrition, Diets, and Health Unit at the International Food Policy Research Institute, adds, “One of the features of these snack foods is that they’re often really cheap and they fill you up. And so, people are inclined to buy them. But if they were more expensive because of taxes, you know, then maybe they’d be less inclined to choose those for their children.”

The prevalence of ultra-processed foods contributes to rising rates of overweight and obesity among children, an issue needing more attention.

  1. Conflict Zones and Acute Child Hunger

While conflict is not the primary driver of child hunger globally, it leads to some of the worst cases, notably in Sudan, Somalia, and Gaza. UNICEF’s data shows that since December, 9 out of 10 children in Gaza have faced severe food insecurity. Harriet Torlesse remarks, “Children in Gaza at this point in time are barely eating any nutritious foods at all. Before the war in Gaza, only 13% of children were living in severe food poverty.”

Technological advances have improved the measurement of food intake in conflict zones, and Gaza currently has the highest documented rate of severe malnutrition.

  1. Severe Food Poverty’s Impact on Child Development

Children living in severe food poverty are significantly more likely to suffer from wasting, where a child is too thin for their height, indicative of life-threatening malnutrition. Over 13 million children under five are affected by this extreme condition. Torlesse notes, “We know that these children don’t do well at school. They earn less income as adults, and they struggle to escape from income poverty. So not only do they suffer throughout the course of their life, their children, too, are likely to suffer from malnutrition.”

Malnutrition stunts not only physical growth but also brain development, limiting a child’s ability to fully contribute to their community and country later in life. Richmond Aryeetey highlights the economic impact with a study from 2016: “The estimate was that Ghana was losing close to about $6.4 million annually because of children who are not being fed adequately. That’s a lot of money being lost because we are not feeding our children well.”

  1. Effective Solutions and Success Stories

There is hope, as several low-income countries have successfully reduced severe child food poverty. Nepal and Burkina Faso have halved their rates, and Rwanda has achieved a one-third reduction. These countries share common strategies leading to success. “The first being they’ve all made a real, deliberate effort to improve the supply of local nutritious foods. Be it pulses or vegetables or poultry,” says Torlesse. Reducing dependency on imported food is crucial for minimizing hunger.

Other countries are combating ultra-processed foods. In Peru, legislation mandates that processed foods and beverages carry warning labels listing sugar, fat, and salt content, and a 25% tax on high-sugar drinks has been introduced.

Nepal’s nationwide cash grants to poor families have increased the purchase of nutritious foods like meat and pulses. Additionally, efforts within health systems have provided essential counseling and support, helping caregivers feed their children with locally available, nutritious foods.

Richmond Aryeetey underscores the need for a more comprehensive approach to tackling child hunger: “…we are sending people to the moon. We are doing all kinds of technologically advanced stuff, and yet we are not able to feed children. It’s really a shame.”

While severe food poverty remains a critical issue affecting millions of children globally, targeted efforts in improving local food supply and regulating unhealthy food options have shown promising results. A concerted global effort is needed to ensure that every child has access to the nutritious food they need to grow and thrive.

Nvidia Surpasses Apple in Market Cap, Becomes Second-Largest U.S. Company Amid AI Boom

Nvidia, the darling of Wall Street’s artificial intelligence enthusiasts, continues to ascend to unprecedented heights. The company’s market capitalization climbed to $3.019 trillion on Wednesday, slightly surpassing Apple’s market cap of $2.99 trillion. This milestone positions Nvidia as the second-largest publicly traded company in the United States, trailing only Microsoft’s market cap of $3.15 trillion.

Nvidia is now the third U.S. company, after Apple and Microsoft, to surpass the $3 trillion mark. On Wednesday, shares of the Santa Clara-based chipmaker increased by 5.2% to approximately $1,224.4 per share, while Apple shares concluded the session with a 0.8% rise, closing at $196.

These gains also contributed to the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq indexes reaching new record highs by the end of the day.

Nvidia (NVDA) has reaped the most significant benefits from the AI craze that has taken Wall Street by storm this year, with its stock up by 147% in 2024 following a 239% surge in 2023. In contrast, Apple shares have seen a modest 1.7% increase year-to-date.

Earlier this week, Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s CEO, announced that the company plans to launch its most advanced AI chip platform, named Rubin, in 2026. This platform will succeed the Blackwell, which provides chips for data centers and was announced only in March. At the time, Nvidia described Blackwell as the “world’s most powerful chip.”

Nvidia dominates the AI semiconductor market, holding approximately 70% of the market share. Some analysts believe that the company’s stock has even more room to grow. “As we look ahead, we think NVDA is on pace to become the most valuable company, given the plethora of ways it can monetize AI and our belief that it has the largest addressable market expansion opportunity across the Tech sector,” wrote Angelo Zino, a senior equity analyst at CFRA Research, in a note on Wednesday evening.

In a move to make its shares more accessible, Nvidia announced a 10-for-1 stock split last month. This split aims to make buying shares in the highly sought-after semiconductor company more feasible for individual investors. The post-split shares will begin trading at market open on June 10.

Early Puberty in Girls: The Role of Environmental Factors and Health Implications

For several decades, scientists worldwide have observed with growing concern that girls are entering puberty at increasingly younger ages compared to previous generations. Key indicators of adolescence, such as the onset of menstruation (age of menarche) and the commencement of breast development, are occurring progressively sooner.

Research indicates that American girls today begin menstruation up to four years earlier than girls a century ago. Recent data reveals that while girls born between 1950 and 1969 typically began menstruating at an average age of 12.5 years, this decreased to 11.9 years for girls born in the early 2000s. This trend is not limited to the United States but is evident globally. South Korean researchers, for instance, have noted a dramatic 16-fold increase in the number of girls showing signs of precocious puberty (either breast development or menstruation before age eight) between 2008 and 2020.

“We’re also seeing that these decreasing ages at puberty are even more pronounced in lower socioeconomic status groups and ethnic minority groups,” says Audrey Gaskins, an associate professor at Emory University in Atlanta. “This has important implications for long-term health.”

Researchers like Gaskins are particularly concerned that earlier puberty might trigger a cascade of events with significant consequences in adulthood. Data suggests it may shorten the fertility window, especially if these women enter menopause sooner, and could reduce overall lifespan. Precocious puberty has been repeatedly associated with a higher risk of diseases such as breast and ovarian cancers, metabolic syndromes like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Scientists are still exploring the reasons behind these associations. Brenda Eskenazi, a professor of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, explains one theory: “There’s some theories that having a longer window of exposure to hormones increases risk for reproductive cancers,” suggesting that prolonged exposure to sex hormones like estrogen might elevate tumor development risks by stimulating cell growth.

There are also potential social consequences. Eskenazi points out that girls who enter puberty earlier are more likely to become sexually active sooner. “There’s a scary situation in the United States when we have the trend of abortion becoming illegal and contraception not being available,” she says. “It’s going to lead to more unwanted teen pregnancies, so that confluence of factors is very frightening.”

The question then arises: why is child development being accelerated in this manner?

From Obesity to Air Pollution

Puberty onset is regulated by two key communication networks in the body: the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axes. These connect the brain’s hypothalamus, which regulates essential functions from hunger to temperature control, with hormone-secreting glands.

Gaskins notes that until recently, childhood obesity was considered the primary cause of premature puberty, with proteins produced by fat cells (adipokines) stimulating the HPA and HPG axes. “It’s only recently that people have been like, ‘Oh that doesn’t explain it all, and there have to be other factors involved,'” she says.

Recent studies, however, have identified another surprising cause: air pollution. Much of this research has emerged from South Korea, where cities like Seoul, Busan, and Incheon rank among the world’s most polluted. A review from Ewha Womans University in Seoul highlighted a consistent relationship between exposure to various pollutants and earlier puberty onset.

Toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and ozone, released through vehicle emissions or industrial waste, are major culprits. A 2022 study in Poland, a country with significant air quality issues due to coal-burning factories, linked higher exposure to nitrogen gases with menstruation beginning before age 11.

An even greater concern is fine particulate matter (PM), tiny particles from sources like construction sites, wildfires, power plants, vehicle engines, and unpaved roads. In October 2023, Gaskins and colleagues found that U.S. girls exposed to high levels of PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) and PM10, both in utero and during childhood, were more likely to start menstruating earlier.

“PM2.5 particles can enter the bloodstream pretty readily,” Gaskins explains. “You inhale them into your lungs, and they’re not filtered out like some of the bigger particles would be, and they can then reach different organs. We’ve seen certain PM2.5 particles accumulating in the placenta, fetal tissues, the ovaries, they can get everywhere.”

Studies have shown that chemicals within these fine particles can interact with hormone receptors involved in development, particularly androgen and estrogen receptors, potentially triggering a chain reaction leading to puberty.

“That was our primary hypothesis, that the girls who had higher exposure to PM2.5 were also exposed to more chemicals that were either mimicking estrogen or just generally disrupting that HPA axis and its regular signals, prompting the body to go into puberty earlier,” says Gaskins.

Multiple factors likely contribute to premature puberty. Gaskins suggests that evidence related to PM2.5 and other pollutants is one example of how harmful environmental chemicals can infiltrate the body, causing significant hormonal changes.

“Pre-pubertal girls are an interesting group because another major route of exposure to chemicals which disrupt hormonal processes is through personal care products,” she says. “And there’s now a lot of companies actively going after that demographic and marketing products to them.”

Eskenazi adds that there is much we still don’t understand about the complex interplay between our changing environment and child development. Factors such as microplastics and climate change also remain largely unexplored. “I think we’re still just at the tip of the iceberg,” she says. “We don’t know how a hotter climate is affecting the menstrual cycle or even the role of social factors, pressurizing girls to grow up sooner. But this trend is very real, and it could be a multifactorial combination of environmental chemicals, obesity, and psychosocial issues which are combining to lower the age of menarche.”

Bill Gates to Release Memoir “Source Code” in 2024, Revealing Untold Stories of His Journey

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, is set to release a new book, this time a memoir titled “Source Code.” This upcoming publication, scheduled for February next year, will explore the relationships, lessons, and experiences that have shaped Gates’ life. The memoir will chronicle his journey from childhood through his departure from Harvard and the co-founding of Microsoft with Paul Allen.

In a blog post, Gates elaborated on his motivations for writing the memoir. “I’ve been in the public eye since my early twenties, but much of my life before then isn’t well known. Over the years, I’ve often been asked about my upbringing, my time at Harvard, and co-founding the company. Those questions made me realize that people might be interested in my journey and the factors that influenced it,” he wrote.

Gates, now 68, described the memoir as his “origin story.” He intends to delve into the more challenging aspects of his early life, which have significantly influenced his development. The book will discuss his feelings of being a misfit during his childhood, his rebellious teenage years when he clashed with his parents, the profound impact of losing a close person suddenly, and his near-expulsion from college.

“Source Code” will also illuminate Gates’ difficult choice to leave Harvard to pursue a then-nonexistent industry. This pivotal decision was a gamble that ultimately paid off, leading to the creation of Microsoft and the transformation of the tech industry.

The memoir will highlight the stories of those who believed in Gates, challenged him to grow, and helped him turn his unique traits into strengths. These individuals played a crucial role in his personal and professional development, contributing to his success.

As reported by Forbes, Gates’ net worth stands at $129.7 billion. He was married to Melinda Gates for 27 years before they announced their separation in May 2021 on X (formerly Twitter). Despite their separation, they continue to co-chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has donated over $59 billion to the foundation, including a $20 billion gift announced in July 2022.

Climate Records Shattered: Scientists Warn of Dire Consequences Without Urgent Action

Global temperatures continue to break records month after month, prompting concerns from scientists and climate policymakers about surpassing the warming target established during the historic Paris 2015 climate talks.

The Copernicus agency of the European Union recently announced that May had been the hottest on record, marking the 12th consecutive month of record highs. Similarly, the World Meteorological Organization has projected a nearly 50% chance that average global temperatures between 2024 and 2028 will exceed the desired warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius agreed upon in the Paris accords.

Moreover, a group of 57 scientists reported in the journal Earth System Science Data that the Earth warmed at a slightly faster rate in 2023 compared to 2022.

Climate scientists, however, are not surprised by these developments, as they align with their long-standing predictions based on the accumulation of carbon dioxide resulting from increased fossil fuel usage. In 2023, atmospheric levels of heat-trapping gases, particularly carbon dioxide, reached historic highs, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the third-highest increase in 65 years of recordkeeping.

The repercussions of these shattered records translate into heightened human suffering. Climate change induced by human activity has led to erratic weather patterns, more frequent and unpredictable storms, and prolonged heatwaves. For instance, an intense heatwave in Asia this spring led to school closures in the Philippines, fatalities in Thailand, and record temperatures in several countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, and Myanmar. In India, weeks of scorching heatwaves last month resulted in school closures and loss of life.

While exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold may not spell immediate catastrophe, scientists warn of worsening conditions. Previous United Nations assessments indicate that significant ecological changes are more likely to occur between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius of warming, including the eventual disappearance of coral reefs, Arctic sea ice, and certain plant and animal species. Additionally, extreme weather events are expected to intensify, resulting in more casualties and infrastructure damage.

Jennifer Francis, a scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts, emphasized that reaching the Paris threshold does not signify a sudden surge in the impacts already being observed.

Addressing these challenges requires a concerted effort to phase out fossil fuel usage, according to climate scientists. The combustion of fossil fuels—such as oil, gas, and coal—remains the primary driver of human-induced global warming. Francis stressed the need for greenhouse gas concentrations to stabilize to prevent further temperature records from being broken and to mitigate the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

While renewable energy sources have seen significant growth, there is a pressing need for accelerated expansion. Efforts to improve efficiency are underway across various sectors, including household heating, cooking methods, and cement production. However, scientists emphasize the urgency of adapting to these changes.

India’s Unfinished Journey: A Post-Colonial Quest for Major Power Status from Nehru to Modi

A Post-Colonial Quest

The pursuit of recognition is an intrinsic human trait, and this collective yearning is mirrored in a state’s quest for major-power status. In “The Unfinished Quest: India’s Search for Major Power Status from Nehru to Modi” (“The Quest”) by T.V. Paul, a professor of International Relations at McGill University, the journey of post-colonial India towards global recognition as a major power is thoroughly examined.

Throughout history, states have sought status recognition, traditionally tied to military might. T.V. Paul notes, “Victory in great power wars was the most prominent mechanism through which a state gained or lost status that had already been conferred on it.” This understanding of power was dominant during times when European nations, believing their languages and knowledge systems superior, pursued widespread colonization in Asia and Africa.

Colonization

Colonization entailed not just political domination but also religious and racial superiority. Paul emphasizes, “Closeness to the Christian religious establishments was the key element in nineteenth-century Europe, based on the ideas of ‘standards of civilization.’” The colonizers’ zeal to establish Christian supremacy in their colonies was a byproduct of their power dynamics.

Following World War II and especially after the USSR’s collapse in 1991, the criteria for power and status recognition expanded beyond military prowess to include economic strength, knowledge, and skills.

“The Quest” is a thorough exploration of India’s ongoing journey to significant global status. The book provides a detailed analysis of India’s political, economic, and strategic ambitions since its 1947 independence. Paul asserts, “No leader since the Nehru era has fundamentally reduced India’s hard-power asset acquisition.”

Hard Power Resources

Paul identifies ten critical components in a nation’s quest for major power status, termed “comprehensive national power capability.” These include four ‘hard-power resources’—military, economy, technology/knowledge, and demographics—and six ‘soft-power resources’—normative position, leadership in international institutions, culture, state capacity, strategy and diplomacy, and effective national leadership. He traces India’s trajectory from the early days under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to current leader Narendra Modi, weaving in internal political dynamics, economic growth, and strategic decisions.

When Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul visited India in 1988 for his book “India: A Million Mutinies Now,” he encountered an India overshadowed by “pietistic Gandhian gloom.” Naipaul noted, “The talk among the talkers in the towns was of degeneracy, a falling away from the standards of earlier times.” This pervasive gloom reflected nearly four decades of unsuccessful Nehruvian socialism.

A Wounded Nation Rises

Centuries of Islamic and British colonization had transformed a historically prosperous and entrepreneurial society into one that was defeated and despondent. Today, however, optimism is sweeping across India. In a post-COVID world marked by inflation, rising food and energy prices, and prolonged conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, Indians are hopeful and eager to restore India’s pre-colonial economic and civilizational prominence.

Economic liberalization in the 1990s, initiated by Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, opened up India’s foreign investment markets. Although there were initial successes, economic progress faced hurdles. India’s international status has significantly advanced with nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998 and recent Moon and Mars missions.

An Outsider’s Perspective

Despite these achievements, Paul concludes that India’s major power status remains elusive, with an uncertain future. “The Quest” stands out as an academic work but is presented from an outsider’s perspective. During colonial times, non-native Western scholars began to control the intellectual discourse about India. This tradition continues, as illustrated by the critiques from homegrown Marxist/Leftist scholars detailed in Arun Shourie’s book “Eminent Historians: Their Technology, Their Line, Their Fraud.”

Paul mentions “caste” and “Hindutva” in “The Quest” but does not provide a framework for assessing India’s status quest on these parameters. Historically, “jati” (caste) has been part of Indian society, which has remained prosperous and knowledge-producing. The term ‘Hindutva’ is often used to demonize India’s assertive Hindu majority, as Vishwa Adluri and Joydeep Bagchee argue, “raises the spectre of Hindutva to scare off critics.”

India’s Statecraft

Paul critiques the “religious-nationalist coloration” in naming India’s weapons systems with “Sanskrit/Hindu mythological terms,” while overlooking ‘panchsheela,’ misspelled as ‘panschila’ in his book. He also refers to India’s “founding fathers,” although India is a civilizational nation not founded by a group of men in 1947.

Notably, Paul’s work omits significant concepts like Dharma and Kautilya. Dharma, the core Hindu philosophy of righteous deeds, underpins Hindu cosmology. Kautilya, a 4th-century BCE Indian scholar, is known for the Arthashastra, a foundational text on statecraft. Arshid Iqbal Dar states, “Kautilya’s realism is there in the DNA of India’s strategic culture and has been the default strategy for South Asia.” Yet, “The Quest” lacks references to these critical elements.

Overall, “The Quest” is an excellent academic examination of India’s journey, though it is presented through a 19th/20th-century colonial-Western narrative that overlooks native perspectives.

Revolutionizing Housing: Maine’s ASCC Unveils World’s Largest 3D Printer for Bio-Based Homes

Dozens of 3D-printed homes have been constructed worldwide, from accommodating a family in Virginia to housing members of an impoverished community in rural Mexico. Notably, the world’s largest 3D-printed neighborhood is currently being built near Austin, Texas.

This technology could be particularly beneficial in states like Maine, which will need approximately 80,000 new homes by 2030 to address a housing shortage, according to a report released last year by three state agencies.

“People can’t find homes, they’re very expensive. We also have an aging population…so there’s less and less people who are electricians, plumbers, or builders,” Habib Dagher, the executive director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC), told CNN via video call.

Dagher believes he has a solution. Last month, ASCC unveiled what it claims is the world’s largest polymer 3D printer. Dagher hopes the “Factory of the Future 1.0” can help address the state’s housing crisis and revolutionize 3D-home-printing in the process.

“The approach we’ve taken is quite different from what you’ve seen, and you’ve been reading about for years,” he says.

A Home Every 48 Hours

In recent years, 3D-printing has been used to build various structures, from businesses and bridges to mosques. One non-profit is even working on printing schools in a war zone. Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest 3D-printed structure and aims to have 25% of new buildings constructed using 3D printing technology by 2030.

The majority of current 3D printing relies on concrete, with a robotic arm equipped with a nozzle layering wet concrete into the desired shape.

ASCC is taking a different approach. Its massive printer and its predecessor, which in 2019 was certified by Guinness World Records as the “largest prototype polymer 3D printer,” are the only printers building homes with wood residuals, according to Dagher.

This technology has already been tested. In late 2022, the university unveiled the “BioHome3D,” a 600-square-foot single-family unit, which it claims is the world’s first 100% bio-based 3D-printed home, constructed from local wood fiber and bio-resin materials.

“When they’re doing concrete, they’re only printing the walls,” says Dagher. He explains that the floor, roof, and walls of the BioHome3D were all printed.

Concrete homes also need to be built on-site, which can be problematic, especially during the snowy New England winter. “When the weather goes bad for two weeks at a time, you can’t print,” he adds.

In contrast, ASCC printed prefabricated modules at the university and bolted them together on-site to create BioHome3D.

The new printer can produce objects as large as 96 feet long, 32 feet wide, and 18 feet high, and can print up to 500 pounds per hour. Dagher says the goal is to be able to print 1,000 pounds of material in an hour. At that rate, it could reproduce the BioHome3D in 48 hours, he says.

If they can reach that target, their 3D-printed homes will be “very competitive with current housing construction costs,” he adds.

However, processing wood materials at such a high speed can be challenging. Even ASCC’s record-breaking printers sometimes jam. For instance, while printing BioHome3D, the printer stopped working due to a dust buildup. “Nobody’s ever done this before with these kinds of materials,” says Dagher.

‘When Can I Have One?’

The BioHome3D’s warm wooden floors and walls give it a sleek, modern Scandinavian-inspired log cabin look.

“Many people feel concrete is a cold thing to look at and it’s not necessarily where you want to live,” says Dagher. The BioHome3D, however, is “very warm and inviting.”

It’s also sustainable. When a home is no longer needed or wanted, it can be ground up and used to print something else. ASCC is using wood residuals from Maine’s sawmills in its research and is looking into scaling up production using these local byproducts.

Thousands of people have toured the prototype on the university’s Orono, Maine campus, and Dagher says it’s rare when a visitor doesn’t ask, “‘When can I have one?’”

“We hear, ‘You know, I’m retiring, and I want to downsize. Can I put one of these up?’” Dagher says.

There are some obstacles to overcome first. “It takes years for codes to change,” says Dagher, referring to building codes that construction companies must meet.

The printer won’t displace traditional home construction, but in the future, 3D printed homes are likely to comprise a larger share of the world’s housing stock, he predicts.

ASCC is now working on how to incorporate conduits for wiring and plumbing “exactly where an architect would want them” into the printing process, he adds.

The printer’s next big project is a nine-home neighborhood for people experiencing homelessness. ASCC is partnering with a local NGO to design the structures, and printing is set to begin in 2025.

Election Results Spark Unusual Reactions: Modi Secures Third Term, Opposition Rejoices with Unexpected Gains

The results of India’s general election announced on Tuesday have sparked an unusual reaction: while the winners seem restrained, the runners-up are celebrating. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has secured a historic third term with over 290 seats in the 543-member parliament. However, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone did not achieve the 272 seats needed to form the government, casting him as a diminished leader.

The outcome is seen as a significant comeback for the opposition INDIA alliance and its leader, Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party. Although the alliance won just over 230 seats and lacks the numbers to form a government, they have not conceded more than 24 hours after the vote counting began. “It’s an extraordinary story,” political analyst Rashid Kidwai told the BBC. “The result is surprising. The opposition has managed to pull off the unexpected.”

A jubilant Congress party declared the verdict “a moral and political defeat for Mr Modi,” whose BJP had heavily campaigned on his name and record. On Tuesday evening, Gandhi said in a press conference that “the country has unanimously sent a message to Mr Modi and [Home Minister] Amit Shah that we do not want you.”

This enthusiasm has a backdrop. Going into the election, the opposition seemed disorganized, and the Congress-led INDIA bloc, comprising more than two dozen regional parties, appeared on the brink of collapse. Experts doubted its ability to challenge Modi, who seemed unstoppable at the time. As the election approached, the opposition faced significant challenges: party leaders were raided by government agencies, two chief ministers were jailed, and Congress bank accounts were frozen by income-tax authorities.

Kidwai credits the opposition’s performance largely to Rahul Gandhi, the often-criticized scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. “He’s a fifth-generation dynast and came with a lot of historical baggage,” Kidwai explains. “The mainstream media in India was very hostile to him and social media didn’t take him seriously. He was targeted and projected as a non-serious politician who took too many holidays.” Nonetheless, Gandhi worked hard to change this perception, especially during his Bharat Jodo Yatra and Nyay March, where he met millions of people across the country, boosting his stature and gaining support.

Despite his efforts, Gandhi was not initially perceived as a threat to Modi. Last year, a court in Gujarat convicted Gandhi of defamation, resulting in his expulsion from parliament and a ban on contesting elections—until the Supreme Court suspended his conviction. Political analyst and author Ajoy Bose believes the BJP’s tactics to intimidate the opposition backfired. “The BJP got a bit arrogant and complacent. But their shock and awe tactics to intimidate the opposition worked against the BJP and led to the formation of the INDIA bloc.”

Bose suggests that many parties feared being wiped out and saw echoes of the Emergency era in the government’s functioning. India has “a history of competitive democracy,” he says, and there was a sense among the people of “disquiet and discomfort about the country turning into a one-party dictatorship.”

The results indicate that the BJP faced strong resistance in several opposition-ruled states. In Tamil Nadu, the ruling DMK party won all 39 seats, keeping the BJP out. In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee limited the BJP to 12 seats, down from 18 in 2019. In Maharashtra, the BJP won only nine seats, compared to 23 in 2019, with its then-ally Shiv Sena winning an additional 18.

The biggest setback for Modi and the BJP came from Uttar Pradesh (UP). “Akhilesh Yadav and his Samajwadi Party (SP) is the biggest success story of this election,” says Bose. A clever alliance with Rahul Gandhi resulted in the SP winning 43 of the state’s 80 seats, reducing the BJP’s tally to 33, a significant drop from 62 seats in 2019 and 71 in 2014.

Modi had dismissed Gandhi and Yadav as “a pair of boys” whose alliance had “flopped” in the past. However, the election results proved otherwise. “A key takeaway from the election,” Bose notes, “is that the grand new Ram temple in Ayodhya city wasn’t enough for the BJP to win.” Despite the party banking on the Ram Mandir temple, the BJP candidate lost in the Faizabad constituency where it is located.

Abhishek Yadav, an SP youth-wing leader and prominent campaigner, told the BBC they initially believed the temple would help the BJP win. However, they noticed growing resentment against the BJP as large crowds gathered at their rallies. “Until early April, [the] election in the state had seemed like a one-sided contest with the odds stacked against us,” he said. But dissatisfaction over job shortages, high food and fuel prices, and changes in army recruitment became evident, rallying anti-BJP voters to the INDIA alliance.

Kidwai notes that despite the opposition’s strong performance, it was a missed opportunity as they failed to fully understand voter sentiments and capitalize on discontent with Modi’s government. “They spoke about joblessness, rural economic distress and were able to win over many voters – but there were lots of gaps in their strategy,” he says. “The NDA’s third term has come only because of weaknesses in the INDIA bloc. They could have forged alliances in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and that would have made their tally stronger.”

With the NDA and Modi back in power, Kidwai argues that INDIA needs to institutionalize its alliance, and Gandhi, “the chief architect of the alliance,” must lead from the front. “It’s unlikely that the government will stop going after the opposition. But it also can’t be business as usual for the government. They cannot continue with their politics of vendetta; it will have to be toned down.”

He adds that the opposition’s strength in parliament could restore functional ties, emphasizing the need for coalition politics, with Congress leading the way. “The Gandhis consider themselves as trustees of power, not power-wielders. But now the time has come to change. Rahul Gandhi has to take on the mantle of leadership and lead.”

NDA Unanimously Elects Modi as Leader for Third Term, Securing Government Formation

The 15-party National Democratic Alliance (NDA) officially named Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its leader for a third consecutive term on Wednesday, initiating the formation of a new government under his leadership.

“We are all proud that the NDA fought the 2024 Lok Sabha polls unitedly under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and won. We, the leaders of the NDA, unanimously elect Narendra Modi as our leader,” declared a resolution in Hindi, endorsed by top NDA leaders.

This resolution emphasized the country’s comprehensive development over the past decade, attributing it to the pro-people policies of the NDA government under PM Modi. It highlighted the government’s dedication to serving the poor, women, youth, farmers, and marginalized sections of society.

The meeting, convened by PM Modi, saw attendance from 21 leaders, including key figures such as Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar, Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu, and Maharashtra CM and Shiv Sena chief Eknath Shinde. These three leaders are crucial for their numbers in the alliance. The TDP secured 16 Lok Sabha seats (along with two seats won by its partner, the Jana Sena, totaling 18), the JD(U) won 12 seats, and the Shiv Sena won 7 seats. Adding these 37 seats to the BJP’s 240 seats comfortably surpasses the majority threshold of 272.

Other notable NDA allies in terms of parliamentary strength include Chirag Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (RV) with 5 MPs, and Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal and HD Deve Gowda’s Janata Dal (Secular), each with 2 MPs.

The NDA meeting occurred just hours after PM Modi officially submitted his resignation to President Droupadi Murmu, along with the Union Cabinet’s decision to dissolve the 17th Lok Sabha. President Murmu accepted PM Modi’s resignation and requested him to remain in office until the new government is constituted.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single largest party with 240 seats, falling 32 seats short of the majority mark. However, with support from MPs of 14 other parties, the NDA’s total reached 293 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

With the NDA securing 293 seats, PM Modi is set to become only the second Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to secure a third consecutive term. Nevertheless, the BJP’s failure to achieve an outright majority independently places PM Modi at the mercy of his unpredictable allies, Nitish Kumar and Chandrababu Naidu.

Why Modi Underperformed

India’s prime minister will balk at needing allies to stay in power, but coalition rule has proved to have benefits for large democracies.

From pundits to polls, there was a wide expectation this year that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not just win a rare third consecutive term but would secure an even bigger parliamentary majority than he had before. As it emerged on Tuesday, India’s voters had other ideas. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the most seats—more than the entire opposition alliance combined—but will need the help of coalition allies to form a government. Modi has never needed to share power before, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how he will adapt to the vulnerabilities of coalition politics.

What will the surprising election results mean for politics in India and for India’s place in the world? I spoke with two experts on FP Live: Milan Vaishnav, the director of the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Yamini Aiyar, the former president of New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research. Subscribers can watch the full discussion on the video box atop this page or download the FP Live podcast. What follows is a condensed and lightly edited transcript.

Ravi Agrawal: There was a wide expectation that Modi would return to power in a landslide. He didn’t. What went wrong?

Milan Vaishnav: If we rewind the clock to January and February of this year, before voting began, every pre-election survey pointed in one direction. And that was an overwhelming majority for the BJP, plus seats for the BJP’s allies known as the NDA. Exit polls reconfirmed that as recently as June 1. But that’s not what we saw. We saw a BJP that fell short of a governing majority. It will only be in power thanks to the help and assistance of its coalition partners.

The overarching message or takeaway for me was that it really wasn’t clear what this election was about. It’s such an obvious question to ask, but I have no answer for it. And this really hurt the BJP. There was no defining economic, national security, emotive issue. And what ended up happening, in broad strokes, was more of a classic state-by-state contest where local factors, incumbency, caste equations, party dynamics, alliances mattered much more. The BJP is on much weaker ground there. They have been the incumbent for 10 years. They have a motley group of opposition parties which have banded together with the explicit purpose of keeping the BJP out of power. There was some upset within the BJP’s ranks. They replaced over 100 of their sitting MPs, bringing in defectors and turncoats from other parties.This is important because the BJP is a rank-and-file, cadre-based party, so they don’t necessarily take very kindly to people coming from the outside. And so they really struggled to do something that we think of as part of the BJP’s strength, which is crafting a narrative.

Apple’s iPhone Sales Soar to $1.95 Trillion Despite Q1 Decline

Despite a slight decline in the first quarter of 2024, Apple’s lifetime iPhone sales have reached staggering heights, with total revenues surpassing $1.95 trillion, according to a new report released on Wednesday.

In Q1 2024, Apple shipped 50.1 million iPhones, a decrease of five million units compared to the same period last year. Consequently, iPhone sales revenue dropped by nearly 10%, amounting to $45.9 billion, as per data from Stocklytics.com.

Five years after the launch of the first iPhone, Apple had generated $78.7 billion in iPhone sales. By fiscal year (FY) 2014, this figure had surged to $101.9 billion, continuing to climb steadily based on Statista and official company reports.

Over the course of two years, Apple accrued more than $405 billion from iPhone sales. Although revenue figures dipped slightly in Q2 FY 2024, iPhone sales have remained robust.

In H1 FY 2024 alone, Apple earned $115.6 billion from iPhone sales, pushing its cumulative revenue from iPhone sales to an impressive $1.95 trillion.

The report also highlighted that over 2.65 billion iPhones have been shipped since their initial launch in 2007. In 2014, Apple shipped 192.7 million iPhones. A decade later, this number had risen to 231.8 million.

BJP Falters as Congress Stages Dramatic Comeback in India’s Seven-Phase General Election

The seven-phase general election in the world’s largest democracy, India, began on April 19 and ended on June 1. The results saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) winning 293 seats, while the INDIA Bloc secured an unexpected 232 seats. However, the significant story was the BJP’s surprising underperformance.

Despite predictions that the BJP would surpass 400 seats, the so-called ‘Modi Magic’ faltered, with the party winning only 240 seats and failing to achieve an absolute majority. Although the BJP emerged as the single largest party, the Indian National Congress celebrated a strong performance, winning 99 seats. This comeback was notable given that the Congress had been largely dismissed by political analysts and the media. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress leader, also achieved personal success by winning both Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh and Wayanad in Kerala.

On the day of the results, Indica interviewed Sam Pitroda, former Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress (IOC), who resigned on May 8 following a controversial statement. Pitroda discussed the election outcomes and how the consecration of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya, which was expected to be a major advantage for Modi, did not secure the majority for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls. Pitroda, 82, also spoke about his relationship with Rahul Gandhi and expressed confidence that the INDIA Bloc would form the next government.

A key factor in the BJP’s diminished results was their poor performance in Uttar Pradesh, where they lost 29 seats, ending up with 33. Meanwhile, Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party gained 37 seats, boosting the alliance’s standing.

One of the most shocking defeats was the BJP’s loss in Faizabad, which includes Ayodhya. Two-term incumbent BJP candidate Lallu Singh was defeated by Samajwadi Party’s Awadhesh Prasad. Pitroda commented that the temple inauguration appeared more as a spectacle for the wealthy rather than a significant event for the common people. “The jets which landed at the Ayodhya Airport, ferried the rich and famous,” he said. “The fancy clothes that they wore is not what Indian people are used to. It was a show.”

Pitroda identified another issue: public fear that a BJP majority would alter the constitution. He noted that the BJP’s silence on employment issues and their divisive strategies drove voters towards the opposition. “People rejected Modi, not the BJP, because everything was seen as Modi ki guarantee (Modi’s Guarantee). ‘Modi will deliver,’ and people feel that this is not the democracy that we want,” Pitroda said.

Pitroda praised Rahul Gandhi’s message of inclusivity. “I think the people of India have spoken, and Rahul’s message of inclusion went through well, saying we need opportunities for OBC, Dalit, minority, and we need jobs for the young and security for women, and the environment and we need to take care of the farmers,” he said.

Pitroda, who collaborated with Gandhi on the Congress manifesto, recalled their bond. He mentioned that Rahul would meet him whenever he visited India after Rajiv Gandhi’s death. “The mentorship, I wouldn’t call it a mentor but promoting him to the overseas audience since he was in the US several times. Even this morning we spoke, and I speak with him regularly,” he said. Pitroda shared that he and Rahul often communicate using emojis on WhatsApp, indicating Rahul’s happiness with the election results through three emojis.

Regarding the next steps for the INDIA Bloc, Pitroda said, “The partners will meet and decide what steps they should take, whether they should go forward and form the government or let the BJP form its third consecutive government.” He predicted that the hung government might not last a full five-year term and anticipated another election within a couple of years. However, he believes Narendra Modi will do everything possible to maintain his position as Prime Minister.

Pitroda explained his support for Rahul Gandhi, stating, “Because I believe in the Congress party. I was born in the British Raj, and so I am a product of the British Raj, but the fervor and ethos of the independence movement.” He emphasized the historical values of the Congress party and its role in shaping modern India. “I could go to college almost free, low fee, and how can I forget. All that was possible because the Congress party had the idea of democracy.”

Pitroda asserted that his loyalty to the Congress stems from its foundational values. “I have seen Rajiv as the custodian of the idea of India, and when he died, Sonia Gandhi became the custodian, and then Rahul became the custodian of the idea of India. There is nothing to do with dynasty.”

He highlighted the significance of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, a march led by Rahul Gandhi before the elections, as pivotal in the Congress’s revival. “Not just people, but it changed Rahul, and made him bold. Now Rahul speaks with confidence,” Pitroda said.

Pitroda also mentioned that the BJP-NDA often twisted his words to create false narratives, which led to his resignation. “The larger goal was no matter what I say, they will twist and make agenda for 24 hours, and so I resigned,” he said, adding that he did not want to negatively impact the party.

Commenting on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s role, he noted her effective campaigning. He suggested that had she contested a seat, her efforts would have been limited to that area. Instead, she campaigned extensively. He hinted that Rahul might give up the Raebareli seat, allowing Priyanka to contest it in a by-election.

In a press conference, Rahul Gandhi stated he had not yet decided which seat to retain. When asked if Rahul was suited to run the country, Pitroda affirmed his support, acknowledging that no one is perfect but grows into the role with time and support.

Indica  also interviewed George Abraham, Vice-Chairman and Former President of the Indian Overseas Congress, who supported the INC’s campaign. Abraham said, “The people of India have unequivocally rejected the BJP’s agenda, which sought to undermine the constitution and transform the country.”

He stressed that if Modi and Amit Shah continue to lead, they must adhere to the constitution, stop divisive politics, and allow free expression and objective journalism. “We at the Overseas Congress salute the INDIA coalition and its leaders, especially AICC President Kharge Ji and Rahul Ji, for their tireless efforts in getting the message to the people,” he added.

Putin Warns of Arming Anti-Western Nations in Response to Ukraine Weapons Supply

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a stern warning that Moscow might provide arms to nations aiming to strike Western targets. This statement came as he criticized the West’s decision to supply Ukraine with long-range weapons.

Several countries, including the United States, have given Ukraine the go-ahead to attack targets inside Russia. Putin warned such actions could lead to “very serious problems.” He posed a rhetorical question to foreign reporters, “If someone thinks it is possible to supply such weapons to a war zone to attack our territory and create problems for us, why don’t we have the right to supply weapons of the same class to regions of the world where there will be strikes on sensitive facilities of those countries?” He further hinted that Russia’s response could be “asymmetric,” stating, “We will think about it.” However, Putin did not clarify which countries might receive these weapons from Moscow.

Putin specifically criticized Germany, which recently informed Ukraine it could use long-range German-made weapons to hit targets inside Russia. “When they say that there will be more missiles which will hit targets on Russian territory, this definitively destroys Russian-German relations,” Putin declared.

The U.S. has also allowed Ukraine to use American-supplied weapons to strike Russian targets, though only near the Kharkiv region. The White House has prohibited the use of long-range ATACMS missiles on Russian soil. Nonetheless, recent reports from a U.S. senator and a Western official indicate that Ukraine has used U.S. weapons for strikes inside Russia.

The fighting has intensified north-east of Kharkiv following a new Russian offensive across Ukraine’s northern border. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, lies just 30km (18 miles) from the border.

UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron stated that it is up to Ukraine to decide how to use British weapons, affirming Ukraine’s right to target Russian territory. Ukraine has accused Russia of employing North Korean missiles on its territory, while Western intelligence suggests that Iran-made drones are being used by Russia in the conflict.

Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Putin’s comments were made at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, where he also addressed the West’s underestimation of Moscow’s potential use of nuclear weapons. He stated, “For some reason, the West believes that Russia will never use it,” adding that Russia’s nuclear doctrine allows for the use of all available means if the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are threatened. He emphasized, “This should not be taken lightly, superficially.”

Dismissing concerns about Russia attacking NATO territory, Putin criticized the notion, saying, “You should not make Russia out to be the enemy. You’re only hurting yourself with this, you know?” He ridiculed the idea that Russia intends to attack NATO, calling it “complete nonsense” and “total rubbish.”

The context of these remarks includes the broader geopolitical tensions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war has prompted significant international responses, including sanctions on Russia and substantial military aid to Ukraine from Western countries. The ongoing conflict has also raised concerns about global stability and the potential for broader escalation.

Putin’s statements reflect a heightened rhetoric that underscores the serious risks associated with the conflict. The threat to arm other nations could destabilize other regions and complicate global security dynamics. His reference to nuclear doctrine highlights the gravity of the situation and the potential for a catastrophic escalation if diplomatic solutions are not pursued.

The situation remains highly fluid, with continuous developments on the battlefield and in diplomatic arenas. Western support for Ukraine, including military supplies, has been a crucial factor in the conflict, influencing the dynamics on the ground. Meanwhile, Russia’s potential countermeasures, including the possible provision of weapons to other nations, introduce additional uncertainties.

The international community continues to monitor the conflict closely, weighing options for further support to Ukraine and measures to deter Russian aggression. The balance between aiding Ukraine and avoiding a wider conflict remains delicate, with significant implications for regional and global security.

Putin’s warnings about arming other nations and the potential use of nuclear weapons represent a serious escalation in rhetoric. His remarks at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum underscore the ongoing tension between Russia and the West, with significant implications for the future of the conflict in Ukraine and global stability. The situation requires careful navigation to prevent further escalation and to seek a resolution that ensures the sovereignty and security of all nations involved.

Israeli Airstrike on UN School in Gaza Kills at Least 35, Including Children, Amid Controversy Over Hamas Presence

An Israeli airstrike on a United Nations school housing displaced Palestinians in central Gaza has resulted in the deaths of at least 35 people. Local journalists informed the BBC that the attack involved two missiles striking classrooms on the top floor of the school situated in the urban Nuseirat refugee camp. Videos from the scene depicted widespread destruction and numerous casualties.

The Israeli military claimed it conducted a “precise strike on a Hamas compound” within the school, eliminating many of the 20 to 30 fighters it believed were present. Contrarily, Gaza’s Hamas-run Government Media Office refuted this assertion, condemning the strike as a “horrific massacre.”

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa), which operates the school, described the incident as “horrific.” He expressed shock at the allegation that armed groups were in the shelter, although this could not be verified.

Casualties were transported to the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Hospital in nearby Deir al-Balah, which has been overwhelmed since Israel initiated a new ground offensive against Hamas in central Gaza earlier in the week.

The precise circumstances of the strike remain unclear, with the BBC working to confirm details. Local journalists and residents reported that the attack occurred early Thursday morning at al-Sardi school in a southeastern section of the densely populated, decades-old camp, where Unrwa provides services. The school was crowded with hundreds of displaced individuals who had fled other conflict zones within Gaza. Throughout the almost eight-month-long war, 1.7 million people have sought refuge in schools and other UN facilities.

Udai Abu Elias, a resident at the school, recounted to BBC Arabic’s Gaza Today programme: “I was asleep when the incident occurred. Suddenly, we heard a loud explosion and shattered glass and debris from the building fell on us.” He added, “Smoke filled the air, and I couldn’t see anything. I didn’t expect to make it out alive. I heard someone calling for survivors to come out from under the rubble. I struggled to see as I stumbled over the bodies of the martyrs.”

Another resident, Jabr, described waking up to “the sight of bodies and [human] remains everywhere,” while another unnamed individual noted that the casualties included “elderly people, young individuals, and children.” Social media videos depicted the devastation of several classrooms and bodies wrapped in white shrouds and blankets. One injured woman cried out in a video, “Enough war! We have been displaced dozens of times. They killed our children while they were sleeping.”

Initial reports suggested over 20 deaths, but an official at al-Aqsa hospital later informed a BBC freelancer that 40 bodies had been received from the school. Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry confirmed this toll, listing 40 dead, including 14 children and nine women, with 74 others injured. Ismail al-Thawabta, director of the Hamas-run Government Media Office, corroborated these figures.

Unrwa’s Philippe Lazzarini stated on X, formerly Twitter, that at least 35 people were killed and many more injured, based on reports from Unrwa staff on the ground. Juliette Touma, Unrwa’s director of communications, echoed this, noting that “the figures are coming from our own Unrwa colleagues on the ground.”

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) justified the strike as targeting a Hamas compound within the Unrwa school. They released an annotated aerial photograph indicating classrooms on two upper floors as “locations of the terrorists.” The IDF claimed that members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad involved in the October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in 1,200 deaths and 251 hostages, were operating from the building. The IDF stated that steps were taken to minimize civilian casualties, including aerial surveillance and additional intelligence gathering.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman, asserted that 20 to 30 fighters used the school for planning and executing attacks, many of whom were killed in the strike. He added, “I’m not aware of any civilian casualties and I’d be very, very cautious of accepting anything that Hamas puts out.” Lerner also mentioned that the IDF had twice aborted the attack to reduce civilian harm and accused Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad of using UN facilities as operational bases.

Ismail al-Thawabta refuted the IDF’s allegations, stating, “The occupation uses lying to the public opinion through false fabricated stories to justify the brutal crime it conducted against dozens of displaced people.”

Lazzarini lamented that the school was hit “without prior warning” to Unrwa or the 6,000 displaced individuals sheltering there. He found the claims of armed groups being inside the shelter “shocking” but noted Unrwa could not verify these claims. He emphasized, “Attacking, targeting or using UN buildings for military purposes are a blatant disregard of International Humanitarian law. UN staff, premises and operations must be protected at all times.”

Lazzarini highlighted that over 180 Unrwa buildings had been struck since the war began, despite their coordinates being shared with conflict parties, resulting in more than 450 displaced individuals’ deaths. He demanded accountability for these actions.

The Gaza health ministry reports that at least 36,650 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s military campaign began, following the October 7 attack, with figures not distinguishing between civilians and combatants.

Recently, the Israeli military claimed operational control over eastern Bureij refugee camp, adjacent to Nuseirat, and eastern Deir al-Balah, with residents noting intense bombardment. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported that al-Aqsa hospital received at least 70 bodies, mostly women and children, in the past 24 hours.

A previous Israeli airstrike on a tented camp for displaced people near an Unrwa base in Rafah, targeting senior Hamas officials, drew international outrage when a resulting fire killed dozens of Palestinians. The IDF called the loss of life “tragic” and investigated the possibility of an explosion from Hamas-stored ammunition.

Efforts to broker a ceasefire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas were revived following this incident. US President Joe Biden recently detailed an Israeli proposal to Hamas, suggesting a six-week truce to release some hostages in exchange for Palestinians from Israeli jails, followed by a permanent ceasefire. A joint statement from the US, UK, and 16 other countries urged Israeli and Hamas leaders to finalize a deal to alleviate the hostage families’ suffering.

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh expressed a willingness to consider a proposal based on ending the war and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains firm on not agreeing to a ceasefire before defeating Hamas and releasing hostages, striving for “total victory.”

Rohit Sharma Ignites Victory for India with Record-Breaking Half-Century Against Ireland in T20 World Cup

Disregarding the guidance of Ravi Shastri during a low-scoring match between India and Ireland on Wednesday, Indian captain Rohit Sharma aggressively targeted the opposition bowlers, helping the 2007 T20 World Cup champions secure a victory. This impressive performance by the seasoned Indian opener ensured a smooth win for the team, which also features Virat Kohli, in the eighth match of the T20 World Cup held at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York.

Teaming up with batting star Kohli to start the innings, Rohit delivered a rapid-fire performance in the opening match for the Asian powerhouse. Despite Kohli’s uncharacteristic failure in this ICC event, Rohit achieved his first half-century of the 2024 T20 World Cup in New York. However, his powerful innings was cut short when he retired hurt in the 10th over.

In the eighth over bowled by Joshua Little, Rohit was struck on the arm. Although Ireland requested a review, the third umpire ruled Rohit not out since Ultra Edge technology confirmed there was no contact with the bat. Undeterred, Rohit hit two sixes off Little in the same over, taking his score to 42 off 33 balls. He completed his half-century in Mark Adair’s over, guiding India to a score of 76-1 in 10 overs. However, after the drinks break, Rohit was seen leaving the field with the team physio, feeling discomfort in his shoulder. He retired to the dugout after scoring 52 runs off 37 balls.

During his explosive 52-run innings, Rohit shattered several records for the Men In Blue against Ireland. At 37, he surpassed 4,000 runs in T20 cricket and crossed the 1,000-run milestone in T20 World Cups. Known as Hitman, Rohit also became the first player to hit 600 sixes in international cricket.

“Yeah, just a little sore (the arm). I said it at the toss as well. Quite unsure of what to expect from the pitch. Not aware on what it is to play like on a pitch that’s five months old. I don’t think the wicket settled down even when we batted second. There was enough for the bowlers,” Rohit commented post-match.

Kharge: INDIA Bloc Open to New Allies After Decisive Mandate Against Modi

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge announced on Wednesday that the opposition’s INDIA bloc is open to welcoming all parties that share a fundamental commitment to the values enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution. In his address at the opposition group’s first meeting following their significant success in the Lok Sabha election results of 2024, the Congress leader stated that the mandate was “decisively against Mr Modi.”

Kharge also emphasized that all INDIA bloc partners had fought the elections well, unitedly, and with determination. He made these remarks during a gathering of opposition leaders at his residence.

“The mandate is decisively against Mr Modi, against him and the substance and style of his politics. It is a huge political loss for him personally apart from being a clear moral defeat as well. However, he is determined to subvert the will of the people,” Kharge said, highlighting the alliance’s stance on Modi’s governance.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the possibilities of forming a government, strategizing for the alliance’s future, and potentially reaching out to former allies Nitish Kumar and N Chandrababu Naidu.

“The INDIA alliance welcomes all parties which share its fundamental commitment to the values enshrined in the Preamble to our Constitution and to its many provisions for economic, social and political justice,” Kharge remarked in his opening speech.

Expressing gratitude to the INDIA bloc partners, Kharge stated, “I welcome all INDIA alliance partners. We fought well, fought unitedly, fought resolutely.”

Following the meeting, Kharge addressed the media and conveyed the alliance’s appreciation for the public’s overwhelming support. “The constituents of the INDIA bloc thank the people of India for the overwhelming support received by our alliance. The people’s mandate has given a befitting reply to the BJP and their politics of hate, corruption. This is a mandate in defense of the Constitution of India and against price rise, unemployment and crony capitalism and also to save democracy. The INDIA bloc will continue to fight against the fascist rule of the BJP led by Modi…”

Challenging Conditions Mar T20 World Cup Opener as India Dominates Ireland in Eight-Wicket Victory

If the intention of this T20 World Cup is to captivate new viewers in the United States, it is falling short in its opening week. For the second consecutive game at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Long Island, New York, the team batting first was bowled out for less than 100 runs. On Monday, Sri Lanka was dismissed for 77, led by South Africa’s Anrich Nortje who took four wickets. On Wednesday, Ireland managed only 96 runs due to a collective bowling effort by India. Hardik Pandya took 3/27, while Jasprit Bumrah and Arshdeep Singh each claimed two wickets, with Bumrah being named player of the match.

The disparity in quality meant that India reached the target with 46 balls to spare, securing an eight-wicket victory to start their campaign. However, the matches have been played on challenging drop-in pitches, which are not ideal for T20 cricket. Additionally, the slow outfield has not been conducive to the game. The only concern for India was their captain, Rohit Sharma, who retired hurt on 52 after 10 overs following a blow to his right forearm from left-arm pacer Josh Little. The injury occurred in the ninth over, but Rohit responded by hitting the next two balls for sixes. India will hope Rohit is fit for their next Group A match against Pakistan on Sunday.

While there isn’t much to dissect from this match, India’s team selection was interesting. Yashasvi Jaiswal’s exclusion was evident from the warm-up game against Bangladesh. However, the composition of India’s bowling attack included two surprises: they chose to use all three specialist pacers in the squad with Pandya as a fourth seam-bowling option, and they left out left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, a key player in white-ball cricket over the past few years, for Axar Patel.

The pace-heavy strategy was fitting for Wednesday given the early start, cloud cover, and uncertainty about the pitch. After opting to bowl first, India’s pace attack quickly found their rhythm. Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Siraj set the tone by exploiting the lateral movement available. The variable bounce also kept the batters on edge—a delivery from Arshdeep in the first over went on the bounce to the wicketkeeper while others rose sharply from a length.

Arshdeep struck twice in a two-run third over. Ireland’s captain Paul Stirling managed only a top edge on an attempted pull, allowing Rishabh Pant, returning to the team after a long absence due to a car accident, to take the catch. Five balls later, Andy Balbirnie, the other opener, was bowled trying to steer the ball through third man, leaving Ireland at 9/2 after three overs.

Ireland’s situation worsened as Bumrah began his spell in the sixth over, immediately troubling the batsmen with his movement. Hardik Pandya, brought into the attack in the seventh over, also made an impact. Despite a disappointing IPL season with Mumbai Indians, Pandya appeared rejuvenated. He had performed well in the warm-up game against Bangladesh, scoring an unbeaten 40 off 23 balls, and continued his good form with the ball.

In his first over, Pandya bowled Lorcan Tucker with a nip-backer that hit the stumps. Tucker had previously hit Siraj and Arshdeep for boundaries but misjudged his shot against Pandya. “I really liked the first wicket. Generally, I don’t hit the stumps often; I have a tendency to bowl back of a length, but on this wicket, I needed to be a lot fuller to be in the game,” Pandya said during the mid-innings break.

Bumrah followed up by dismissing Harry Tector in the next over. Tector, who struggled for 4 off 15 balls, was undone by a fierce bouncer from Bumrah, which he tried to pull but was late, resulting in a glove and helmet deflection to Virat Kohli at cover.

Ireland, from 36/4, quickly slid to 44/5, 46/6, and 49/7, as Pandya added to his tally. The pitch did not favor aggressive strokes, but Ireland contributed to their downfall with poor shot selection. Axar Patel also chipped in with a caught-and-bowled in the 12th over, his only over of the innings, claiming Ireland’s eighth wicket. Only two Irish batters reached double figures, but Gareth Delany and Josh Little swung their bats towards the end, helping Ireland reach 96 before a run-out ended their innings.

While India’s bowlers performed admirably, the challenge posed by the pitch raises concerns for the tournament’s appeal. For cricket to attract new fans in the United States, especially with venues like Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Long Island, the playing conditions must be conducive to an exciting, competitive format that showcases the best of T20 cricket. As the tournament progresses, both the quality of the pitches and the performances will need to improve to meet the expectations of the global audience and achieve the tournament’s promotional goals.

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