Rupert Murdoch Resigns As Chairman Of Fox And News Corp

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has announced he is stepping down as chairman of Fox News and News Corp.

In a statement, he said that he had “decided to transition to the role of Chairman Emeritus at Fox and News,” with his son Lachlan to “ become sole Chairman of both companies.”

The 92-year-old informed colleagues in a letter on Thursday of his decision, noting that he would officially make the transition in November.

“I am writing to let you all know that I have decided to transition to the role of Chairman Emeritus at Fox and News,” Murdoch wrote. “For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change.

“But the time is right for me to take on different roles, knowing that we have truly talented teams and a passionate, principled leader in Lachlan who will become sole Chairman of both companies.

“Neither excessive pride nor false humility are admirable qualities. But I am truly proud of what we have achieved collectively through the decades, and I owe much to my colleagues, whose contributions to our success have sometimes been unseen outside the company but are deeply appreciated by me.

“Whether the truck drivers distributing our papers, the cleaners who toil when we have left the office, the assistants who support us or the skilled operators behind the cameras or the computer code, we would be less successful and have less positive impact on society without your day-after-day dedication.

“Our companies are in robust health, as am I. Our opportunities far exceed our commercial challenges. We have every reason to be optimistic about the coming years – I certainly am, and plan to be here to participate in them.”

Ektaa Kapoor’s Film, ‘Thank You For Coming’ Premieres At TIFF

Producer Ektaa R Kapoor penned a heartwarming note after her much-anticipated film ‘Thank You For Coming’ starring Bhumi Pednekar took center stage at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), September 16, 2023.

Taking to Instagram, Ektaa shared a series of pictures and videos from the TIFF gala night along with a note.

The note read, “Thanku @rheakapoor n @karanboolani never in my wildest dreams did I think I wud b a part of a film@that wud have a global reception at such a prestigious festival that I wud have a theatre turn into a stadium n. Erupt into claps n whistles ! Things we spoke as women have found a international stage n the empathy n humour with which u both delt with a sensitive subject of female pleasure without showing sex was amazing !!!!!to see a prestigious jury n world media acknowledge that is just wow! So@Thanku n thanku for coming into my life ! Thanku @anilskapoor n the lovely ladies who made this film Wat it is !!! So proud! #thankyouforcoming #tiff #thankouforcomingattiff.”

The red carpet event was a star-studded affair, with the presence of the film’s stellar cast, including Bhumi Pednekar, Shehnaaz Gill, Shibani Bedi, Dolly Singh and Kusha Kapila hit the red carpet of TIFF with none other than Anil Kapoor. Director Karan and producer Ektaa R Kapoor were also present. They all walked the red carpet together and moved to the beats of dhol while entering the venue.

Anil Kapoor also shared a special post, “We’re ecstatic for this mind-blowing opportunity to rock TIFF with ‘Thank You For Coming’! This film isn’t just a chick-flick; it’s a fireworks show of love, sweat, and pure dedication from our squad!”

He added, “The energy and enthusiasm of the TIFF audience, the camaraderie among fellow filmmakers, and the platform it provides for storytelling has elevated all the films here.
The audience’s unwavering support has been the driving force behind ‘Thank You For Coming’s’ success, and for that, we are eternally grateful. Once again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for coming – with us to the Toronto International Film Festival!”#TIFF2023 #ThankYouForComing.”

‘Thank You For Coming’ delves into the themes of female friendship, single women, love, and the pursuit of pleasure. “Thank You For Coming” was the only Indian feature film honored with the Gala World Premiere at TIFF this year.

Produced by Balaji Telefilms Limited and Anil Kapoor Film Communication Network Pvt. Ltd, directed by Karan Boolani, and written by Radhika Anand and Prashasti Singh, the film will be released in theaters worldwide on October 6, 2023.

Shantiniketan Added To UNESCO World Heritage List

There was an air of celebration and jubilation around Visva Bharati University in the Birbhum district of West Bengal after Shantiniketan, where Rabindranath Tagore spent a significant part of his life, was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The iconic university building and compound were lit up with decorative lights and the faculty, staff and hostelers, dressed in traditional attire, were seen breaking into Rabindrasangeet (Tagore songs) as word of the prestigious UNESCO tag reached them.

Picture : IE

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, expressed her delight on X (formerly Twitter), “Glad and proud that our Santiniketan, the town of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, is now finally included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Biswa Bangla’s pride, Santiniketan was nurtured by the poet and has been supported by (the) people of Bengal over the generations.”

She added that her government had “significantly added” to the infrastructure” at Santiniketan over its last 12 years in power.

“We from the Government of West Bengal have significantly added to its infrastructure in last 12 years and the world now recognizes the glory of the heritage place. Kudos to all who love Bengal, Tagore, and his messages of fraternity. Jai Bangla, Pranam to Gurudev,” Mamata added in her tweet.

UNESCO India posted on X earlier, officially confirming that it had bestowed the World Heritage tag on Tagore’s abode. “#Santiniketan, West Bengal now inscribed on the #WorldHeritage List!! Established in rural West Bengal in 1901, Santiniketan was founded by Rabindranath Tagore, a renowned poet and philosopher. It is now India’s 41st #WorldHeritageSite,”

Also rejoicing the heritage tag for Shantiniketan, West Bengal Minister and Trinamool Congress leader Shashi Panja said, “Today is a proud moment for Bengal. It’s a proud moment for India.”

Shantiniketan is an ensemble of historic buildings, landscapes and gardens, pavilions, artworks, and continuing educational and cultural traditions that together express its Outstanding Universal Value, UNESCO said in a release.

Vivek Ramaswamy Wants End To H-1B Visa System

Calling the much sought-after H-1B visa system “indentured servitude”, Indian-American GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has pledged to get rid of it if voted to power in 2024, Politico reported.

Having himself used the system 29 times in the past to hire highly-skilled professionals for his pharma company, Ramaswamy said that the temporary worker visas system is “bad for everyone involved”, and the US needs to eliminate chain-based migration.

“The lottery system needs to be replaced by actual meritocratic admission. It’s a form of indentured servitude that only accrues to the benefit of the company that sponsored an H-1B immigrant. I’ll gut it,” the Politico quoted the 38-year-old entrepreneur as saying.

“The people who come as family members are not the meritocratic immigrants who make skills-based contributions to this country,” Ramaswamy, born to immigrant parents from Kerala, added.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 29 applications for Ramaswamy’s former company, Roivant Sciences, to hire employees under H-1B visas from 2018 through 2023, the report said.

“As the largest organization of members currently on H1B visa stuck in green card backlogs, we completely agree with @VivekGRamaswamy & others willing to speak the truth: H1B visa is, in fact, indentured servitude that only benefits the company that sponsors the visa, but is bad for everyone else. We agree — it is time to gut H1B,” US-based non-profit, Immigration Voice, wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Stating that Ramaswamy has grabbed headlines for his restrictionist immigration policy agenda, the Politico said that “his rhetoric has at times gone farther than the other GOP candidates, as he calls for lottery-based visas, such as the H-1B worker visas, to be replaced with ‘meritocratic” admission’”.

He has also said that he would deport US-born children of undocumented immigrants.

The H-1B visa allows companies and other employers in the US to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialised knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher in the specific specialty, or its equivalent.

Every year the US gives 65,000 H-1B visas open to all and 20,000 to those with advanced US degrees. Indians are the biggest beneficiaries of the H-1B visas getting about 75 per cent of them, according to the US government.

In July 2023, Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi introduced legislation proposing to double the annual intake of foreign workers on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 130,000.

Earlier this year, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the US Senate to reform and close loopholes in the H-1B visa programme, created to complement America’s high-skilled workforce. (IANS)

Pope Francis And Bill Clinton Discuss ‘Wind Of War That Blows Throughout The World’

(RNS) — In an online conversation with former U.S. President Bill Clinton on Monday (Sept. 18), Pope Francis stressed the importance of people and nations coming together to care for the environment and to put an end to global conflicts.

“It’s time to shift toward peace and brotherhood. It’s time to put down the weapons and return to dialogue, to diplomacy. Let us cease the pursuit of conquest and military aggression. That’s why I repeat: no to war!” the pope said, answering a question by the former U.S. president.

The conversation between the political and spiritual leaders was livestreamed at the 2023 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, taking place in New York City Sept. 18-19. The event seeks to address urgent global issues, such as climate change and the flow of refugees.

To these challenges, Francis added another: “the wind of war that blows throughout the world,” fueling what he described as “the Third World War, fought piecemeal.”

The pope urged all nations to take responsibility and stressed that “no challenge can be faced alone — only together, sisters and brothers, children of God,” he said.

Pope Francis has been a vocal advocate for peace following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has sought a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. He appointed Cardinal Matteo Zuppi as a peace envoy to meet with the main stakeholders in the war, including President Joe Biden in July.

In his message, the pope also stated that “it is time to work together to stop the ecological catastrophe, before it is too late,” and repeated his intention to publish a new version of his “green” encyclical, “Laudato Si,” for the care and protection of the environment.

Clinton said he had a “wonderful meeting” with the pope at the Vatican in early July.

“You make us all feel empowered and that is perhaps your greatest power as the pope,” Clinton said during the conference. “You make everybody, even those who aren’t members of the Catholic Church, feel like they have power and share in the responsibility.”

The Clinton Global Initiative was created by Bill Clinton in 2005 and collaborates with over 10,000 organizations aiming to provide actionable solutions to global challenges.

Among the main reasons for the online meeting was raising awareness for the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesù, commonly referred to as the “pope’s hospital.” The pope spoke of the care that the hospital provides despite its small size, including helping Ukrainian children fleeing the conflict.

“There are illnesses that cannot be cured, but there are no children that cannot be cared for,” he said.

Mahant Swami Maharaj’s 90th Birth Anniversary Celebrated At BAPS New Jersey

His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj honored with a garland on his 90th birthday celebration at BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, NJ. / BAPS

Hundreds of devotees recently gathered at BAPS Robbinsville, New Jersey to celebrate their spiritual leader Mahant Swami Maharaj’s 90th birthday. The celebration coincided with the Festival of Inspirations, a three-month extravaganza commemorating the opening of BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville. 

Speaking at the event, Yogananddas Swami emphasized Mahant Swami’s empowering words, which have catalyzed the spiritual and personal development of countless souls. The attendees, shared how personal letters written to them by Swami Maharaj shaped their lives, offering guidance and support.

World leaders and spiritual luminaries also shared their unique experiences with Mahant Swami Maharaj through video messages. Anandswarupdas Swami highlighted Mahant Swami Maharaj’s consistent humility by describing his role as a servant, even when held in high esteem as a divine being. Mahant Swami Maharaj showed why he is so beloved by shifting attention away from himself and onto the more senior swamis on the day that was meant to be a celebration of his life. 

The senior swamis returned the favor by praying earnestly for him and presenting him with individual garlands to mark the occasion. In his concluding remarks, Mahant Swami Maharaj said, “The grandeur, divinity, and tranquility that visitors experience here are the fruition of Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s divine vision. Taking a  mere fifteen minutes daily for introspection encapsulates all the spiritual wisdom we attain.” “This 90th birthday celebration served not only as a tribute to a revered soul but also as an inspiration for countless others to lead a life of humility, love, and service,” the release maintained.

Vivek Ramaswamy Has Better Chances Than Nikki Haley Against Trump: Polls

Vivek Ramaswamy has a better chance of winning the primary against Trump as compared to Haley but the results were reversed if the Indian Americans were to contest Biden

The latest Harvard/CAPS Harris Poll, a monthly collaboration between the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard (CAPS) and the Harris Poll and HarrisX, revealed that if it came down to a one-on-one between Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy against former President Donald Trump, Ramaswamy had a better chance at winning.

If the Republican party primary is down to two choices, Nikki Haley and Donald Trump, 38 per cent of the respondents said they would vote for the former while 62 per cent  chose Trump. For the same question but with Ramaswamy and Trump as choices, the results were 40 and 60 per cent respectively.

Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy.

For the same question, Trump held the maximum number of votes, i.e. 30 per cent, with DeSantis in position two with 7 per cent of the votes, followed by the two Indian American candidates.

The results of Haley and Ramaswamy’s favorability among voters was flipped if they were to compete against President Joe Biden. In head-to-head presidential matchups, Biden would lose the election to Haley by 4 per cent, and Ramaswamy trails behind Biden by 2 per cent, as per poll results.

Biden Administration’s Initiatives Lead to Surge in Student Loan Forgiveness Approvals

The Biden administration has reported a significant increase in student loan forgiveness approvals, benefiting hundreds of thousands of borrowers, thanks to initiatives aimed at enhancing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. PSLF is a crucial federal student loan forgiveness program that can erase a borrower’s federal student loan debt after 120 “qualifying payments,” equivalent to ten years. However, the PSLF program has long struggled with poor administration, insufficient oversight, resulting in errors, rejections, and approval rates that never exceeded single-digit percentages.

But following a series of reforms initiated by the Biden administration, the approval rates for student loan forgiveness under PSLF have seen a remarkable surge. The U.S. Department of Education stated in a Tuesday announcement, “The Biden-Harris Administration has already approved… $45.7 billion for 662,000 public servants through improvements to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).” Furthermore, additional loan forgiveness is expected as these initiatives continue to unfold.

The first of these PSLF improvements, known as the Limited PSLF Waiver, was introduced in 2021. This one-time initiative relaxed the criteria for qualifying PSLF payments, expanding the scope of what could be counted toward loan forgiveness under the program. Previously, only payments made on Direct federal student loans under a 10-year Standard or income-driven repayment (IDR) plan were eligible for loan forgiveness. However, the Limited PSLF Waiver extended eligibility to include almost any period of repayment on any federal student loan, dating back to October 2007, when PSLF was initially established.

The IDR Account Adjustment, an ongoing program, subsequently extended many of the benefits of the Limited PSLF Waiver. While much attention has been given to student loan forgiveness for borrowers on 20- or 25-year repayment plans, it’s important to note that the IDR Account Adjustment can also benefit PSLF borrowers. This adjustment further broadened the range of payments and situations that can count toward student loan forgiveness. It even allows for the crediting of some periods of deferment, forbearance, and recent defaults for borrowers engaged in qualifying employment. The Education Department is implementing this adjustment gradually, and borrowers are receiving PSLF credit and associated loan forgiveness approvals throughout early 2024.

For some borrowers, the federal Direct consolidation program may be necessary to qualify for or maximize the PSLF benefits under the IDR Account Adjustment. Fortunately, there is still time to consolidate loans to take advantage of this adjustment, with the consolidation window closing on December 31, 2023.

On July 1, the U.S. Department of Education implemented new PSLF regulations, intended to provide more enduring benefits to borrowers seeking loan forgiveness through the program. These new rules partially formalize certain aspects of the temporary waiver and adjustment initiatives. They permit specific periods of deferment and forbearance to be counted toward loan forgiveness under PSLF. The reforms also ensure that borrowers can retain some PSLF credit after consolidation, a change from the past where consolidation would erase a borrower’s PSLF credit. Moreover, borrowers now have the option to “buy back” past periods that might not have previously qualified for loan forgiveness.

The new regulations additionally simplify and expand the definition of qualifying PSLF employment, particularly for non-full-time employees, specific contracted workers in limited scenarios, and adjunct faculty. Furthermore, the regulations relax the definition of a qualifying payment, allowing borrowers to make prepayments or lump-sum payments in certain circumstances.

The Biden administration’s initiatives have had a profound impact on student loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. These efforts have led to a substantial increase in approvals, providing substantial relief to borrowers burdened by student loan debt. The Limited PSLF Waiver, IDR Account Adjustment, and new PSLF regulations collectively represent a concerted effort to address the historical challenges associated with the PSLF program, making it more accessible and beneficial to a broader range of borrowers.

India Warns Indian Nationals In Canada As Tensions Escalate

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs issued an advisory urging Indian nationals in Canada and those planning to travel there to exercise caution on September 20. The warning was issued in response to allegations that New Delhi was involved in the murder of a Sikh separatist in Canada.

“In view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada, all Indian nationals there and those contemplating travel are urged to exercise utmost caution, “ the advisory read. 

It also brought attention to the fact that Indian diplomats and other members of the Indian community who opposed the anti-India agenda have been the direct targets of threats. As a result, citizens of India were cautioned against visiting parts of Canada where such incidents had taken place. 

The advisory emphasized Indian students to be extra cautious due to the worsening security situation in Canada. The safety of the Indian community in Canada would be ensured through regular communication between the Indian Consulate General and local authorities, it stated.

For better communication between the High Commission and the Consulates General with Indian citizens in Canada in the event of an emergency or incident, it was also suggested that Indian nationals and students register with the High Commission of India in Ottawa or the Consulates General of India in Toronto and Vancouver via their respective websites or the MADAD portal ( 

2023, A Year Of Historic Milestones For India

India, a diverse and culturally rich nation, has been making waves on the global stage for several years. From hosting prestigious events to achieving significant milestones in space exploration; In 2023, India is set to witness a series of historic events that will captivate the nation and the world. From cultural celebrations to scientific achievements, here are four noteworthy events that will leave an indelible mark on 2023.

India’s Parliament Passes Women’s Reservation Bill

Picture : TheUNN

The women’s reservation bill was passed in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, September 20th, with 454 members voting in favor of its consideration, and two against it. The bill seeks to reserve one-third of seats in Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women.

The bill- Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam- was tabled by the government on Tuesday, making it the first bill to be introduced in the new Parliament building. The legislation that seeks to enable greater participation of women in policy-making has been pending for over 25 years for want of consensus among parties

G20 Summit: A Global Diplomatic Powerhouse

India’s emergence as a global diplomatic powerhouse is evident as it is hosted the G20 Summit this year. This event brought together leaders from the world’s largest economies to discuss crucial global issues such as economic cooperation, climate change, and healthcare. India’s role as the host emphasizes its growing influence in shaping international policies and promoting cooperation on a global scale.

Chandrayaan: India’s Lunar Triumph Chandrayaan

India’s lunar exploration program, has been a source of national pride and a testament to the country’s scientific prowess. In 2008, India successfully launched its first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, which made significant discoveries about the moon’s surface and composition. This achievement was followed by Chandrayaan-3, the third mission in Chandrayaan programme which landed on the moon’s lunar south polar region on 23rd August 2023 making India the fourth country to successfully land on the moon and first to do so near the lunar south pole region of the moon showcases India’s commitment to space exploration and scientific innovation.

Miss World Pageant 2023: Beauty and Diversity

India has been a dominant force in the Miss World pageant, creating history by winning the crown multiple times and consistently making it to the top ranks. The country is now all set to turn into a runway to celebrate elegance, style, and the essence of true beauty with 71st Miss World 2023. This mega global event taking place in the month of November/ December is an opportunity for India to showcase its rich culture, hospitality and diversity, offering a substantial impetus to the nation’s tourism sector. 71st Miss World 2023 promises to be an extraordinary platform that celebrates the essence of beauty, diversity, and empowerment. Contestants from over 130 countries will gather in India to showcase their unique talents, intelligence, and compassion. They will participate in a series of rigorous competitions, including talent showcases, sports challenges, and charitable initiatives, all aimed at highlighting the qualities that make them exceptional ambassadors of change.

Cricket World Cup: A Nation’s Passion

Cricket is more than just a sport in India; it’s a religion. The country has hosted the ICC Cricket World Cup twice, in 1987 and 2011, and both events were monumental successes. The 2011 World Cup victory on home soil was particularly special, uniting the entire nation in celebration. India’s passion for cricket and the success of hosting such a prestigious event showcases the country’s ability to organize and execute major sporting events flawlessly.

India is earning a prominent spot on the world stage. The nation’s ability to combine tradition with modernity, diversity with unity, and innovation with heritage showcases India’s resilience, potential, and global impact. These historic events happening in India in 2023 encompass a wide range of interests, from beauty and sports to politics and science. They not only showcase India’s prowess on the global stage but also promise to be memorable moments in the nation’s history. (With inputs from IANS)

Why is India Having A Special Session Of Parliament?

A special five-day session of Parliament called by the government during ‘Amrit Kaal’ began on Monday, September 18, 2023. This comes amid an intense speculation about the government’s agenda for the rare move. The five-day special session of the Parliament began at 11 am on Monday. The session was held in the old Parliament building, and MPs moved into the new building on Tuesday, the second day of the special session.

Indian lawmakers, including PM Narendra Modi, have paid tribute to the country’s old parliament ahead of a move to a new building. While addressing media persons outside Parliament, PM Modi said that several important decisions will be taken during this special session of Parliament. The Prime Minister called on MPs to pledge to work towards making India a developed country by 2047.

The special session is being held amid criticism from opposition leaders who claim that the government has not disclosed all the business that could come up during the week.According to the government, eight bills have been listed for discussion during the session – but this agenda could be changed or expanded during the course of the week.Opposition leaders have questioned whether a special session was necessary to discuss these bills when MPs are set to meet later this year for the winter session of parliament.

Picture : Mint

Indian lawmakers usually meet for regular business three times a year in parliament – a budget session, a monsoon session and a winter session. On Monday, Mr Modi began the special session by commemorating the legacy of India’s parliament since 1947, when the country became independent from British rule. The government has held several events to mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

Modi said that leaving the old parliament was an “emotional moment” as the building was filled with special memories and that the structure would continue to inspire future generations. “The biggest achievement of this parliament is that it has kept people’s faith in democracy alive,” he said in a speech where he also mentioned India’s successful Moon landing and hosting of the G20 summit.

“Well, this building is full of memories as the PM also said, it is full of history. It will be a sad moment. Let’s hope that the new building has better facilities, new technology and more convenience for the members of the Parliament. But still, it is always an emotional moment to leave an institution which is so full of history and memories,” Shashi Tharoor added.

The new building

A day before the special session Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar on Sunday hoisted the national flag atop the “Gaja Dwar” of the new Parliament building.For the new Parliament building, this will be the first session.

A new dress code has been announced for the parliamentary staff of various departments. The new dress code with floral motif for a section of staff has already kicked up a political row, with the Congress dubbing it as a “cheap” tactic to promote the ruling party’s poll symbol — the lotus flower.

Old vs new building

Designed by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, the existing historic Parliament House Complex has stood for over 96 years and is a repository of India’s democratic journey. The new building has been designed by Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning and Management led by architect Bimal Patel.

All the political parties with a presence in Parliament have issued a whip to their Parliamentarians, directing them to ensure their presence during the special session.

The government has listed some bills and marking the 75 years of India’s Independence as its agenda for the special session.

But the Opposition has not seemed satisfied, indicating that the special session, possibly in the new building, may follow the old suit of shouting, sloganeering and ruckus over the government’s “hidden agenda”.

A special discussion on Parliament’s journey of 75 years starting from the “’Samvidhan Sabha” (Constituent Assembly) is listed on the agenda.Four bills including the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners to be taken up during the session.

And a custom

The customary all-party meeting was called by the government on Sunday on the eve of the special session of Parliament. Floor leaders of all parties attended the meeting.

Several parties made a pitch for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, giving 33% quota to women candidates in elections. The government has responded by saying that an appropriate decision on the women’s quota bill would be taken at the right time.

Special sessions are not that common – according to legislative expert Chakshu Roy, the government has sometimes convened them “for specific occasions, like commemorating parliamentary or national milestones”.

Is Iran On The Brink Of Producing Nuclear Weapons?

The United Nations nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has condemned Iran’s move to withdraw accreditation for several of its most experienced inspectors as “disproportionate and unprecedented”.

U.N. nuclear chief Rafael Grossi said in an interview Monday, Sep. 18, 2023 with the media that the Iranian government’s removal of many cameras and electronic monitoring systems installed by the International Atomic Energy Agency make it impossible to give assurances about the country’s nuclear program. Grossi has previously warned that Tehran has enough enriched uranium for “several” nuclear bombs if it chose to build them.

Picture : VOA

Grossi said the experts who lost accreditation had “unique knowledge in enrichment technology” and had previously conducted essential verification work at Iranian enrichment facilities under IAEA safeguards. Grossi said Iran’s move “constitutes an unnecessary blow to an already strained relationship between the IAEA and Iran”.

The IAEA director general also said he asked to meet Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi to try to reverse Tehran’s uncalled for ban on “a very sizable chunk” of the agency’s inspectors.

The deal
In 2015, major world powers reached a deal with Iran under which it was to check its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions. But in 2018, then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and reimposed sanctions.

Iran’s response
The strongly worded statement came amid longstanding tensions between Iran and the IAEA, which is tasked with monitoring Iran’s nuclear programme that western nations suspected is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists the programme is peaceful.

Iran’s foreign ministry criticised the IAEA’s approach, linking it to an alleged attempt by the US, France, Germany and Britain to misuse the UN’s nuclear agency “for their own political purposes” and in retaliation for “political abuses”.

The Vienna-based IAEA reported earlier this month that Iran had slowed the pace at which it was enriching uranium to nearly weapons-grade levels. That was seen as a sign that Iran was trying to ease tensions after years of strain in its relationship with the US.

A top Pentagon official had reported that Iran could make the nuclear material for a device in about 12 days if it wanted to do so. The International Atomic Energy Agency also stated its monitors had detected that Iran now had the capability of enriching uranium to close to 84%, which is on the verge of making weapons-grade uranium.

Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s top policy official, when asked to describe Iran’s nuclear progress since then-President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

“Iran’s nuclear progress since we left the JCPOA has been remarkable,” Kahl said. “Back in 2018, when the previous administration decided to leave the JCPOA, it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one bomb’s worth of fissile material,” said Kahl about Iran’s so called “breakout time. “Now it would take about 12 days.”

Kahl said he still thinks going back to the deal is better than not having any deal because he said it could “put constraints” on Iran. At the same, he acknowledged that isn’t likely, given that efforts to go back to the deal are “on ice” since Iran turned down a U.S. offer last summer.

“Of course, Iran’s behavior has changed since then, not the least of which there’s support for Russia and Ukraine, which is the subject of the conversation here today,” he told lawmakers. “So, I don’t think we’re on the precipice of reentering the JCPOA.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said Tuesday that his country will never give up its right “to have peaceful nuclear energy” and urged the United States “to demonstrate in a verifiable fashion” that it wants to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Addressing the annual high-level meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, Raisi said the American withdrawal from the deal trampled on U.S. commitments and was “an inappropriate response” to Iran’s fulfillment of its commitments.

Raisi made no mention of the IAEA inspectors but the European Union issued a statement late Tuesday saying its top diplomat, Josep Borrell, met Iran’s Foreign Minister on Tuesday and raised the nuclear deal and the inspectors as well as Iran’s arbitrary detention of many EU citizens including dual nationals.

Biden Reaffirms US Support For India’s Seat On The UN Security Council

During his speech at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in New York, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed the unwavering commitment of the United States to reform the United Nations Security Council membership, thus supporting India’s primary goal of a permanent seat on UNSC. Biden emphasized support for other key US-India strategic endeavors including strengthening of the Quad partnership, advancing Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), and welcoming the African Union’s inclusion in the G20, accomplished during India’s leadership in that forum.

Addressing world leaders during the UN general debate, President Biden recalled, “In my address to this body, last year, I announced the United States to support expanding the Security Council, increasing the number of permanent and non-permanent members. The United States has undertaken serious consultation with many Member States and will continue to do our part to push more reform efforts forward…”

Biden noted, “This month we strengthened the G20 as a vital forum welcoming the African Union as a permanent member by upgrading and strengthening our institutions… That’s only half of the picture. We must also forge new partnerships, confront new challenges…” adding “In the Indo Pacific, we’ve elevated our Quad partnership with India, Japan, and Australia, to deliver concrete progress to people of the region on everything from vaccines to maritime security.”

“Similarly groundbreaking efforts were announced at the G20 [in New Delhi] connecting India to Europe, through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel – will spur opportunities investment across two continents…” Biden added about the PGII initiative.

Picture : TheUNN

Over 151 Heads of State and Government are participating in the high-level week in New York, where four of the five permanent members of UNSC – Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom will be absent. US President Joe Biden is the only permanent member of UNSC who participated and addressed global leaders as well.

PM Modi, who successfully hosted the G20 Summit in New Delhi, will not be traveling to New York to address the UNGA session. Instead, India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar will address the session on September 26 and is expected to reaffirm India’s commitment to several vital issues including the Global South.

On the eve of the UNGA session, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said that India’s participation during the current session will underscore its steadfast dedication to the “global cooperation, peace, and sustainable development.” This commitment is rooted in the vision of a unified global family and resonates with the sentiments articulated by PM Modi, according to Kamboj.

Emphasizing India’s focus during the UNGA session, Kamboj noted, “Firstly, as the current President of the G20, India will continue to emphasize issues that are vital to the Global South countries including climate action, finance, and the sustainable development goals. We proudly opened the doors for the African Union to join the G20 recognizing the importance of global collaboration to address contemporary challenges.”

Kamboj pointed out that the G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration underscores India’s dedication to fostering sustainable economic growth and promoting environmentally friendly initiatives. This commitment is exemplified by the collective focus on an inclusive and action driven G20 agenda under PM Modi’s guidance.

On human rights and social issues, Kamboj added “We stand firmly for women’s rights, constructive human rights dialogues, and an intercultural dialogue for peace. India will Chair the 62nd session of the UN Commission for Social Development, the first time since 1975, that India holds this esteemed position.”

About UN reforms, Kamboj said India actively engages in discussion surrounding UNSC reforms with a primary goal of securing permanent membership and emphasizing the need for expansion of both permanent and non-permanent member categories. Furthermore, India will prioritize efforts to revitalize the Non-Aligned Movement.

On September 18, two members of G4 nations, Japan and Brazil met on the sidelines of the UNGA session in New York and discussed ways to carry forward the G20 agenda under India’s Presidency.

“The two Ministers shared the view that Japan and Brazil will continue to strengthen cooperation as ‘strategic global partners’ and that they will work together towards the G20 Rio de Janeiro Summit next year, building on the achievements that led from the G7 Hiroshima Summit to the G20 New Delhi Summit,” Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Kamikawa Yoko, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Mauro Vieira said in their joint statement.

The Joint Communiqué of the Fourth Trilateral Meeting of the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations on September 17 also reaffirmed their leaders “commitment to promote effective multilateralism and welcomed the extension of G20 membership to the African Union.” Notably, the African Union was inducted as a permanent member during the recently concluded G20 Leaders’ Summit under India’s Presidency in New Delhi.

India Denies Role In Canadian Sikh Leader’s Murder

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said September 18, 2023, authorities were “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking New Delhi’s agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader, an assertion India quickly dismissed as “absurd”.

The spat deals a fresh blow to diplomatic ties that have been fraying for years, with New Delhi unhappy over Sikh separatist activity in Canada. It now threatens trade ties too, with talks on a proposed trade deal frozen last week.

Each nation expelled a diplomat in tat-for-tat moves, with Canada throwing out India’s top intelligence agent and New Delhi responding by giving a Canadian diplomat five days to leave.

Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen is “an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty”, Trudeau told the House of Commons in an emergency statement on Monday.

He was referring to Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, shot dead outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb with a large Sikh population, three years after India had designated him as a “terrorist”.

Nijjar supported creating a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent, so-called state of Khalistan in India’s northern state of Punjab, the birthplace of the Sikh religion, which borders Pakistan.

India’s foreign ministry did not disclose the name or rank of the Canadian diplomat it had asked to leave the country. “The decision reflects the government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” it said in a statement.

The ministry had summoned Cameron MacKay, Canada’s high commissioner, or ambassador, in New Delhi to notify him of the move.


Earlier, New Delhi urged Ottawa to take action against anti-Indian elements in Canada. “Allegations of the government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated,” it said, adding that similar accusations made by Trudeau to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been “completely rejected”.

It said the “unsubstantiated allegations” sought to shift focus away from “Khalistani terrorists and extremists who have been provided shelter in Canada”.

“We urge the government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil,” the ministry said.

Trudeau said he had raised the matter directly with Modi on the sidelines of G20 summit in New Delhi earlier this month, and had urged his government to co-operate with Canada to resolve it. Modi, in turn, conveyed strong concern to Trudeau over recent demonstrations in Canada by Sikhs calling for an independent state.

Canada has the largest population of Sikhs outside the Indian state of Punjab, with about 770,000 people reporting Sikhism as their religion in the 2021 census.

Khalistan is the name of an independent Sikh state whose creation has been sought for decades. A Sikh insurgency killed tens of thousands of people in India in the 1980s and early 1990s before it was suppressed by tough security action.

Picture : WPLG

New Delhi has been wary of any revival, with a particular focus on small groups of Sikhs in Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States, who support the separatist demand and occasionally stage protests outside its embassies.

The United States and Australia expressed “deep concern” over Canada’s accusations, while Britain said it was in close touch with its Canadian partners about the “serious allegations”.

U.S. authorities have urged India to cooperate with the investigation, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday. Britain will continue trade talks with India despite Ottawa’s allegations as London is not looking to conflate negotiations about a trade deal with “other issues”, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson told reporters.


India has been particularly sensitive to Sikh protesters in Canada with some Indian analysts saying Ottawa does not stop them as Sikhs are a politically influential group there.

In June, India criticised Canada for permitting a float in a parade depicting the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, perceived to be glorification of violence by Sikh separatists.

Ottawa paused talks this month on a proposed trade treaty with India, just three months after both said they aimed to seal an initial deal this year.

Modi did not hold a two-way meeting with Trudeau at the G20 summit, despite similar meetings with other world leaders. Days earlier, metro stations in the Indian capital were vandalised with pro-Khalistan graffiti.

Trudeau’s allegations have put ties under increasing strain.

“Three months after the killing, no one has been charged. Nor did Trudeau say who his government believes carried out the killing,” independent geopolitical analyst Brahma Chellaney posted on X.

“But his unproven allegation, by sparking tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, will likely bring Canada-India relations to a new low.”

G-20 Establish Mechanism to Monitor Incidents of Hate, Targeted Violence

The G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, which was agreed on Saturday (9 September), reiterated the group’s commitment to promoting respect for all religions and condemned all acts of religious hatred, including those committed against holy texts and symbols.

The declaration noted the July 25 United Nations General Assembly resolution on “promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech” and stated: “In this regard, we strongly deplore all acts of religious hatred against persons, as well as those of a symbolic nature without prejudice to domestic legal frameworks, including against religious and holy books.”

Narender Nagarwal, who teaches Law at the Delhi University, while speaking on the G-20 joint declaration, said, “I do believe that the G20 New Delhi declaration of September 9, 2023, which denounces all forms of discrimination, hatred, and violence towards vulnerable ethnic groups, is a remarkable accomplishment of the conference. The G20 countries have always been at the forefront in tackling global issues, and the New Delhi Conference of world leaders has reinforced its commitment to confronting targeted violence and hatred on the basis of religion, caste or language against minorities as a critical issue that demands immediate attention and action.”

He added, “This declaration is a clear indication of the Group of 20’s collective determination to combat all hate crimes, including Islamophobic violence, against minorities. I welcome this initiative of the leading players of global politics and treat the declaration as a powerful message to those who overtly or covertly instigate Islamophobic hatred and other sorts of bigotry against ethnic and vulnerable groups.”

On the way forward, Nagarwal urged the G-20 leaders by saying, “I would appreciate if the G-20 secretariat established an observatory commission to investigate reports of hate and targeted violence against ethnic and vulnerable groups and submit progress reports to member states on a regular basis. The adoption of collective action sends a powerful message of unity, solidarity, and hope to the people of Indian society who have endured the burdens of hate crimes, discrimination and Islamophobic violence for far too long.”

Michael Williams, founder and president of the United Christians Forum, said, “Religious tolerance has been a part of the UN Charter, the Indian Constitution, and now our Prime Minister has reiterated this in the G20 Joint Declaration. I only hope that Mr. Modi will ensure its speedy implementation akin to the Demonetisation urgency and will continue to see it through like the GST policy.”

Williams added, “Prime Minister must ensure that anyone who indulges in hate speeches, religious violence, and religious bullying are brought to account so that such Joint Declarations actually have meaning and impact on the lives of citizens. They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but, with true implementation, this intent of the Summit is something India needs right now.”

Dr. Prem Chand, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, ARSD College, University of Delhi, observed: “Unity in Diversity is not only a line but it is the virtue which is inherently reflected in each aspect of our great country India. Historically and culturally, India has been nurtured by different religions and cultures. The spirit of the Constitution of India is secular and secularism is being practised by the India Government. Religious freedom is one of the fundamental rights given by the Constituent Assembly of India to its Citizens. In this backdrop it’s a welcome step that G20 agenda has deplored the religious hatred and considered equality of all religions.”

Dr. Prem Chand added, “India is a multi-religious country but unfortunately some political parties are doing communal politics and they divide people only to grab power. In this scenario India should respect what is inherited and keep it to the values of the Constitution of India.”

John Dayal, a noted social and human rights activist, opined: “G-20 was sitting at a time when religious discord, sponsored mostly by ruling groups in India and in most other countries, have brought the world to the brink. Many Peoples Summits preceding G-20 had, in their call to put people first, highlighted the threat to the world leaders, it seems, successfully prevented any discussion on this issue. It was not high on the agenda anyway.”

Dayal said, “Big countries have lost whatever moral authority they ever had in naming and shaming regimes with a track record of religious bigotry and ill treatment of minorities. Apart from their own records in condoning the burning of the Qur’ān, for instance, in several European cities, the G-20 have turned a blind eye to infringements and absolute ignoring of the United Nations Charter and its focus on religious freedom and freedom of expression as the core values of a shared humanity.”

Biden Trails Haley, Polling Neck-And-Neck With Other Republicans

A recent CNN poll has brought concerning news for the White House and President Biden, with his approval rating at just 39 percent, a little over a year before the next election. In contrast, 61 percent of respondents expressed disapproval of Biden’s job performance, marking a significant drop from his 45 percent approval rating earlier in the year.

One of the standout findings of the poll is that former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is the only GOP presidential candidate leading in a hypothetical matchup against Biden. The poll, conducted by SSRS, shows Haley ahead of Biden with 49 percent to 43 percent. Notably, all other major Republican candidates are locked in tight races with the incumbent president.

These results are particularly promising for Nikki Haley, who previously served as the United Nations ambassador under President Trump. She aims to capitalize on her strong showing in the recent GOP presidential debate, hoping to challenge her former boss for the Republican nomination. However, it’s important to note that Haley trails significantly behind Trump in polls of Republican primary voters, highlighting the considerable challenge she faces.

Nonetheless, the CNN poll suggests that she could be a more competitive GOP nominee against Biden in the general election compared to her Republican rivals. This potential advantage may become a key talking point as she campaigns in early primary and caucus states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Other notable GOP candidates also outperformed Biden in the head-to-head polling. Former Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Tim Scott both garnered 46 percent support, while Biden received 44 percent. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie secured 44 percent to Biden’s 42 percent, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tied with Biden, each at 47 percent. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy trailed Biden in a head-to-head matchup, with 45 percent to Biden’s 46 percent. Trump held a slim 1-point lead over Biden, with 47 percent to 46 percent.

When respondents were asked about a potential rematch between Trump and Biden, 47 percent indicated they would choose the former president, while 46 percent favored the current president. A small percentage (5 percent) preferred a different candidate, and 2 percent stated they did not plan to vote. These numbers do not bode well for Biden, as he trails five of the seven GOP candidates in the polling.

One significant concern for voters regarding Biden is his age; he is currently 80 years old and will turn 81 in November. The CNN poll reveals that more than half of Democratic voters surveyed are “seriously concerned” about his age. Approximately 60 percent of Democrats expressed apprehension about Biden’s ability to win the 2024 election if he secures the Democratic nomination. Additionally, 62 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of all respondents expressed serious concerns about Biden completing a second term.

While Biden is virtually certain to secure the Democratic nomination, his weaknesses in this poll are likely to heighten anxieties within the Democratic party regarding his strength as a candidate in the upcoming election. According to the poll, 46 percent of voters believe any Republican presidential nominee would be a better choice than Biden in 2024, while 32 percent believe the sitting president is a better option than any of the GOP hopefuls. In contrast, 44 percent of respondents think any Democratic nominee would be better than Trump, and 38 percent consider the former president superior to any Democratic nominee.

Among Democrats, the poll found that 67 percent would prefer the party to nominate someone other than Biden, a significant increase from the 54 percent who expressed the same sentiment in March. Of those who desire a different candidate, 82 percent did not have a specific individual in mind. Only 1 percent stated they would vote for either of Biden’s 2024 Democratic challengers, Marianne Williamson or Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS from August 25 to August 31 among 1,259 registered voters and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Despite the challenges Biden faces in this poll, he is currently preparing to attend the G20 summit in India and will return to Washington at the beginning of the following week. While the poll results may boost Republican confidence in defeating Biden, they also raise questions among GOP voters about Trump’s viability as a general election candidate in 2024, considering his ongoing legal issues, including federal indictments and state charges.

G20 Summit 2023 In India Discusses Sustainable Development and More

The G20, or Group of Twenty, is a coalition of nations that convenes regularly to deliberate on global economic and political matters. Together, these G20 countries contribute to a staggering 85% of the world’s economic output and over 75% of worldwide trade, housing two-thirds of the global population. Comprising the EU and 19 individual nations, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, and the US, the G20 holds a unique position on the world stage.

Established in 1999, the G20 emerged in response to the Asian financial crisis with the primary goal of providing finance ministers and officials a platform to strategize methods for restoring economic stability. In 2008, the group elevated its stature, hosting its inaugural leaders’ summit as a response to the global financial turmoil that year, with the aim of promoting international cooperation.

In recent years, the G20 has widened its purview, incorporating subjects like climate change and sustainable energy into its discussions. Each year, one of the G20 member states takes on the presidency and sets the agenda for the leaders’ summit.

The 2023 G20 summit, presided over by India, will spotlight critical topics such as sustainable development, the pursuit of just and equitable global growth, and debt forgiveness for developing countries. Additionally, US President Joe Biden is expected to engage with leaders from developing nations to propose reforms for the World Bank, potentially unlocking more funds for infrastructure development and climate change mitigation.

Picture : AlJazeera

Crucially, much of the negotiation and diplomacy will occur behind the scenes, in one-on-one meetings between leaders held on the sidelines of the main summit hall. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi intends to use the summit as a platform to elevate his country’s global standing and establish himself as a significant world leader, particularly in the run-up to the spring 2024 general election. Modi is keen to ensure that the summit doesn’t get bogged down in disputes over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which marred the 2022 summit in Bali, Indonesia. Discord around this issue even prevented the issuance of a joint statement following the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Delhi in March.

Remarkably, both Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping will be absent from the summit. Putin will be represented by his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, while China will send Premier Li Qiang in Xi’s stead.

Aside from the Ukraine conflict, other contentious matters could emerge at the summit. In May 2023, China and Saudi Arabia boycotted a G20 meeting on tourism held in Indian-administered Kashmir, as this region includes territory claimed by both Pakistan and India. Another source of tension has arisen between India and China after Beijing published a map asserting Chinese ownership of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau, both disputed territories. The US has urged China to put aside its differences with India and adopt a “constructive role” at the summit.

The G20 has experienced varying degrees of success since its inception. During the 2008 and 2009 leaders’ summits, held in the midst of the financial crisis, leaders reached consensus on numerous measures to salvage the global economic system. However, critics argue that subsequent summits have been less productive, often due to discord between rival global powers. Nevertheless, the one-on-one meetings between leaders have frequently yielded positive outcomes. For instance, at the 2019 summit in Osaka, then-US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping concurred to recommence talks to resolve a major trade dispute.

Security is always a paramount concern at G20 summits, given their propensity to attract anti-globalization protests. The Indian government has taken extensive security measures ahead of the Delhi event, including road closures around the venue and deploying 130,000 security personnel across the city. Unique measures have also been introduced to deter troublesome monkeys from disrupting the summit, as Delhi has a substantial monkey population that authorities wish to keep at bay.

The 2023 G20 summit promises to be a pivotal event, with India at the helm emphasizing sustainable development, equitable global growth, and debt relief for developing nations. While the specter of the Ukraine conflict looms, leaders will engage in discreet discussions to address a range of pressing issues, including World Bank reform and climate change.

The absence of key leaders like Putin and Xi adds an intriguing dimension to the proceedings. However, the G20’s track record, marked by both achievements and challenges, underscores the importance of these high-level diplomatic gatherings in shaping the global agenda. Amidst stringent security measures and innovative tactics to deal with local fauna, the world will be watching closely as the G20 nations convene to chart the course of the global economy and address pressing international concerns.

Joe Biden Expressed Concerns About Human Rights, Free Press With PM Narendra Modi

US President Joe Biden has said that he held “substantial discussions” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on ways to strengthen the Indo-US partnership and thanked him for his leadership and hosting the G20 Summit in New Delhi. Biden told reporters here in the Vietnamese capital that he also raised the importance of respecting human rights with Prime Minister Modi.

Biden, who arrived in New Delhi on his first visit to India as the US President, held wide-ranging talks with Modi and they vowed to “deepen and diversify” the bilateral major defence partnership while welcoming forward movement in India’s procurement of 31 drones and joint development of jet engines.

“I want to once again thank Prime Minister Modi for his leadership and his hospitality and hosting the G20. He and I have had substantial discussions about how we’re going to continue to strengthen the partnership between India and the US building on the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House last June,” Biden said during a press conference here.

“As I always do, I raised the importance of respecting human rights and the vital role the civil society and a free press have in building a strong and prosperous country with Modi,” he said.

Picture : ParadePhash

According to the joint statement issued on Friday after Modi and Biden held bilateral talks, “The leaders re-emphasised that the shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights, inclusion, pluralism, and equal opportunities for all citizens are critical to the success our countries enjoy and that these values strengthen our relationship.” Biden also talked about the “significant business” he had done in India during the G20 Summit.

“This was an important moment for the United States to demonstrate our global leadership and our commitment to solving the challenges that matter most to people around the world. Investing in inclusive growth and sustainable development, addressing the climate crisis, strengthening food security and education, advancing global health and health security,” he said. “We showed the world the United States is a partner with a positive vision for our shared future,” he added.

On the corridor connecting India to Europe with the Middle East and Israel, he said that are going to open up untold opportunities for transformative economic investment.

He said the “illegal war in Ukraine” was also discussed at the summit and there was sufficient agreement on the need for just and lasting peace.

Responding to questions, President Biden said his goal is to provide stability around the world by building America’s ties with Vietnam and other Asian countries as he insisted that he is not trying to start a “cold war” with China.

“It’s not about containing China. It’s about having a stable base,” said Biden, who is here as Vietnam was elevating the United States to comprehensive strategic partner.

Biden also said that he met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the G20 in New Delhi and ”talked about stability.” “It wasn’t confrontational at all,” he added.

Illinois Leads The Way With Legislation To Aid International Medical Graduates

At a time when the State of Illinois is grappling with a significant shortage of physicians, the signing of two new legislations by Governor of Illinois, J B Pritzker, will be crucial in reducing barriers to licensing for internationally trained physicians. Currently, 12,000 residents of Illinois hold international medical degrees, and yet they face restrictions preventing them from utilizing their expertise to offer healthcare services.

The new legislation includes creation of a permanent alternative pathway to full licensure for International Medical Graduates (IMGs), marking a significant departure from other State approaches that focus on establishing restricted licenses. Additionally, the creation of the role of an ombudsman within the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) tasked with aiding IMGs in navigating the process of relicensing will further enable this process.

Thanking Governor Pritzker for the initiative, Trustee of Oak Brook, Illinois, and Past President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), Dr. Suresh Reddy told News India Times, “International graduates are well trained, and on par with American graduates. Allowing international graduates to work as healthcare workers in the United States after they complete the licensing exams is a huge step in healthcare delivery in US especially in areas of need.” Dr. Reddy who’s also the Past President of the Indian-American Medical Association, emphasized “It’s a win-win situation for all those who are involved.”

Calling it “a groundbreaking step to alleviate critical labor shortages in the healthcare sector”

Upwardly Global, a national organization dedicated to assisting immigrants and refugees in leveraging their international credentials to relaunch their professional careers within the United States commended Governor Pritzker’s legislations.

According to Upwardly Global, the announcement comes after more than a year of extensive work between Upwardly Global, Illinois State Rep. Theresa Mah, Ph.D. (D-Chi.), IDFPR, the Illinois State Medical Society, as well as both national and local advocacy groups. The collaborative effort has been focused on tackling the issue of untapped talent among IMGs within the State.

“Illinois is setting a new standard for the rest of the country when it comes to internationally trained medical professionals,” said President and CEO of Upwardly Global, Jina Krause-Vilmar, in a statement. “Upwardly Global is proud to have co-created this legislative win, which recognizes the value of internationally trained healthcare professionals who, despite their expertise, often remain on the sidelines during critical health crises.”

Founder and former President of AAPI, Dr. Navin Shah, told News India Times, “I welcome the move of Governor Pritzker which will be helpful for patients in the State of Illinois.

Already, 80,000 Indian doctors in the United States are doing well in training as well as in practice. Not only are they taking good care of patients but also training new doctors. This is a great step given the huge shortage of healthcare professionals in this country.”

Picture : Upwardly Global

In the 1980s, Dr. Shah worked to achieve equality for international doctors alongside US physicians. In 1987, along with the support of his colleagues he helped replace “Foreign” with “International” rebranding Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) as International Medical Graduates in the battle against discrimination.

“There is growing demand for healthcare workers across the nation. Between 2017 and 2021, states from Arizona to Virginia saw an increase in the number of online job postings for unique healthcare worker positions. Immigrants often punch above their weight, representing a larger share of workers in healthcare roles like physicians, surgeons, dental hygienists, and respiratory therapists than their share of the population,” pointed out a special report “The Growing Demand for Healthcare Workers: A State-by-State View” by the American Immigration Council.

The report which highlights the critical contribution of immigrants in alleviating significant workforce shortages within the state-level healthcare sector, underscored, “Although there is a growing need for healthcare workers, many immigrants who received specialized training abroad cannot practice in the State. In 2021, many immigrants with healthcare-related professional and doctorate degrees were working in a healthcare occupation that did not require one.”

Owner of Simply Smiles, in Ashburn, Virginia, Dr. Aman Sabharwal, told News India Times, “One of the biggest challenges we face in healthcare is access to care. For example, my home State of Virginia currently faces a shortage of dentists and hygienists, particularly in rural areas. I believe by streamlining the licensure process for internationally trained healthcare providers we can improve our access to care for all patients.” (News India Times)

Dubai National Insurance names A. R. Srinivasan as CEO

Dubai National Insurance (DNI), a prominent player in the insurance sector of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has unveiled its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), A. R. Srinivasan, a distinguished chartered accountant hailing from India. This strategic appointment marks a significant development for the company and reflects DNI’s commitment to enhancing its leadership.

Before taking the reins at DNI Insurance, Srinivasan played a pivotal role in establishing the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) subsidiary of MNK Re Limited, a distinguished Lloyd’s Broker with its roots in London. With nearly three decades of experience in senior management roles across the Middle East, Srinivasan possesses a nuanced understanding of the insurance landscape in the region. His extensive insurance career has spanned several countries, including India, Oman, Dubai, and Bahrain, where he held leadership positions such as CEO of DAR Al TAKAFUL in Dubai, CEO of Arabia Falcon in Oman, and Al Ahlia Insurance Oman.

Khalaf Al Habtoor, the Chairman of DNI, expressed his enthusiasm about the appointment, stating, “The entire team at DNI Insurance is excited about the new chapter under Srinivasan’s leadership. His depth of knowledge, strategic vision, and proven ability to drive transformation align seamlessly with the company’s commitment to excellence and innovation.” This appointment signifies DNI’s dedication to maintaining a trajectory of excellence in the insurance sector.

Al Habtoor further added, “Under Srinivasan’s guidance, DNI Insurance is poised to reinforce its position as a pioneer in the insurance sector, delivering innovative solutions and outstanding service to clients while achieving new heights of prosperity.” This sentiment underscores the company’s aspirations to not only maintain its current standing but also to innovate and expand its offerings under Srinivasan’s leadership.

Srinivasan himself shared his perspective on the new role, expressing his honor at being selected as CEO of DNI. He conveyed his eagerness to leverage his extensive experience and expertise to drive transformative growth, establish enduring partnerships, and deliver unmatched value to both clients and stakeholders. In his words, “Together, we will navigate the evolving landscape and chart a course towards continued success.”

Furthermore, Srinivasan expressed gratitude towards Mr. Al Habtoor and the board for entrusting him with this pivotal role and exhibiting confidence in his capabilities to steer the company. He eagerly anticipates working closely with the board, the team, and business partners to realize DNI’s ambitious goals.

Dubai National Insurance has appointed A. R. Srinivasan as its new CEO, ushering in a fresh era of leadership for the company. Srinivasan’s extensive experience and strategic acumen position him as a formidable leader to drive DNI’s growth, innovation, and commitment to excellence in the insurance sector. The company’s Chairman, Khalaf Al Habtoor, and Srinivasan himself expressed their enthusiasm for this new chapter, highlighting the company’s dedication to delivering superior service and achieving new heights under Srinivasan’s guidance. This appointment signifies a significant step forward for DNI Insurance as it seeks to solidify its position as an industry pioneer.

Ajay Devgn, Madhavan And Jyotika’s Supernatural Thriller To Release In March ‘24

Indian actors Ajay Devgn, R Madhavan, and Jyotika have taken to their respective social media platforms to make an exciting announcement about their upcoming supernatural thriller film, slated for a nationwide release on March 8, 2024. This highly anticipated project, directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Vikas Bahl, renowned for his previous works like “Super 30,” “Queen,” and “Goodbye,” has generated significant buzz among film enthusiasts.

In a tweet that quickly garnered attention, Ajay Devgn shared a teaser about the film, intriguingly stating, “Things are about to take a supernatural turn.” The poster accompanying the announcement revealed that this film will mark the Bollywood debut of the talented actor Janki Bodiwala, widely recognized for her roles in Gujarati films such as “Chhello Divas,” “Tamburo,” “Chhutti Jashe Chhakka,” and “Bau Na Vichar.”

Meanwhile, another exciting aspect of this project is actor Jyotika’s return to the Hindi film industry after a hiatus spanning more than two decades. Her last appearance in a Hindi film was in the 1997 movie “Doli Saja Ke Rakhna,” directed by Priyadarshan, which also marked her debut in Bollywood.

Picture : CineJosh

This supernatural thriller is being presented by Jio Studios, Ajay Devgn Films, and Panorama Studios International, with an impressive lineup of producers, including actor Ajay Devgn, Jyoti Deshpande, Kumar Mangat Pathak, and Abhishek Pathak. The film’s music will be helmed by the talented music director DSP (Devi Sri Prasad), adding an exciting element to the project.

R Madhavan, who gained fame for his work in the acclaimed movie “Rocketry,” has recently been appointed as the president of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and chairman of the governing council, showcasing his multifaceted talents and commitment to the Indian film industry. On the other hand, Ajay Devgn, a seasoned Bollywood actor at 54, was last seen in “Bholaa,” a remake of Lokesh Kanagaraj’s “Kaithi,” which hit theaters in March 2023. Additionally, fans can look forward to Devgn’s highly anticipated project, “Singham Again,” scheduled for release in 2024. Jyotika, with her remarkable return to Bollywood, will also grace the big screen alongside Malayalam actor Mammootty in the upcoming venture “Kaathal: The Core,” directed by Jeo Baby.

The Indian film industry is abuzz with excitement as Ajay Devgn, R Madhavan, and Jyotika gear up for their supernatural thriller, directed by Vikas Bahl, set to captivate audiences nationwide on March 8, 2024. This film not only promises a thrilling cinematic experience but also marks the debut of Janki Bodiwala in Bollywood and the return of Jyotika to the Hindi film industry after a hiatus of more than two decades. With an impressive cast and production team, this project is poised to make a significant impact in the world of Indian cinema.

On Janmashtami, Krishna Devotees Feed The Lord And The Poor

(RNS) — It is said in the Hindu scriptures that the blue-skinned Lord Krishna was a sweet yet mischievous child who would steal handfuls of fresh, sweetened butter from his cow-herding neighbors.

It follows, then, that celebrations of Krishna’s birth, or Janmashtami, include an abundance of food. At midnight Wednesday (Sept. 6), Bhakti yogis, or devotees of Krishna, broke their daylong fast together by welcoming Bal Gopal, or baby Krishna, to the world with his 56 favorite foods. This ritual of Chhappan Bhog, an originally North Indian ritual, includes a specially arranged platter of mouthwatering vegetarian dishes, many of them milk-based. 56 meals represent Krishna’s eight meals a day multiplied by the seven days he is said to have lifted the Govardhan mountain.In addition to feeding the incarnate of Vishnu, International Society for Krishna Consciousness temples around the world doubled up their Chhappan Bhog practice with a community food offering. Home-cooked meals from devotees will be offered to the Krishna and his consort, Radha, before donation — so long as they do not contain mushrooms, canned or frozen vegetables or fruits or store-bought preparations.

These offerings must be satvik: strictly vegetarian, and without any onions or garlic.  While individual Hindus may differ on their definitions of vegetarianism, such as whether or not sulfur-rich bulbs or root vegetables are permissible, pure vegetarian food is considered the most sacred by many, and is thus commonly used in the ritual of naivedyam, or food offering.

Not all Hindus are vegetarians. Even still, animals are revered by many Hindus for their loyal hearts — especially the cow, who offers nourishment in the form of milk, butter and ghee.

“The food we eat can have an impact on our spiritual development,” said Anuttama Dasa, the director of international communications for ISKCON. “If I cause pain to another living entity for my own selfish needs, then I will accrue bad karma.”

ISKCON, which was started under a tree in New York City’s Tompkins Square Park in 1965, is considered a sect under the vast umbrella of Vaishnavism, the Hindu denomination dedicated to Vishnu and his avatars. Often recognized for adherents’ street-side chanting and singing, ISKCON now boasts more than a million followers worldwide, upward of 600 temples with free Sunday dinners and one of the world’s largest vegetarian relief programs.

Tulasi Srinivas, an anthropology professor at Emerson College and the daughter of Rukmini Srinivas, a famous chef and cookbook author, points to the highly aesthetic and complex meals prepared daily by Vaishnavites around India — including the tradition in Udupi of cooking 108 dishes daily for Krishna — as examples of the intricate web of food-based rituals within Hinduism.

“The myths around Krishna are of luxury,” said Srinivas. “If you offer 56 dishes, it’s a return of blessings a thousandfold.” For Hindus worldwide, cooking healthy and seasonal food is often seen as an act of bhakti, or devotion, in itself. Practitioners show daily reverence to God by first offering their food to deities, then only consuming it after it has been sanctified and turned into prasadam.

“The (Hindu) relationship to food is a relationship of abundance,” said Srinivas. “The more you offer, the more you get back.”

For Janmashtami at ISKCON, practitioners who cook and bring offerings to the temples must follow the sect’s four regulative principles: truthfulness, cleanliness, compassion and austerity.

Picture :RNS

Dasa says the sect is rooted in the belief that the ultimate goal for human beings is to reawaken their original, eternal connections with God — whom they believe has sent messengers and prophets to earth over time and across cultures, including Krishna, Jesus Christ and Buddha.

“No matter how much money we get, or how beautiful we are, or how famous we become, we will never be satisfied,” said Dasa, whose name was given to him from the founder of ISKCON, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. “We are spiritual beings in the material world.”

Dasa says that fasting, a tenet of many religions, allows for the mind to be pacified and the body to be centered during auspicious days like Janmashtami. Coupled with the repetitive mantra meditation of “Hare Krishna,” many ISKCON devotees say this practice can deliver the mind from materialistic thinking and closer to a direct line of communication with God.

“It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do,” said Dasa about fasting. “But it’s nice to be able to say, this is a special day for slowing down and thinking about what’s important — our relationship with God.”

Whether Hindus are fasting or enjoying an abundance of food, many Hindu food rituals tie back to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda—a philosophy that dictates that the food we eat influences the way we feel.

India has the highest percentage of vegetarians in the world, largely due to its majority Hindu population. And according to a recent Pew Research study, 51% of Hindus in India and an even larger percentage of Jains said they would never eat food in the home of someone whose religion has different rules about food than theirs.

However, Srinivas says the plurality of Indian food transcends the borders of Hindu dietary restrictions. “Every 100 miles is a different taste, different culture, different tribe, different set of dishes,” said Srinivas. “In the best, all-inclusive plurality of Hinduism, we get these variations. That is part of the beauty of India. And that comes through in the cuisine.”

As Janmashtami is known as the most joyous occasion of the year to followers of ISKCON, devotees were sure to celebrate with singing, dancing and region-specific birthday practices.Also on the menu for Krishna was a large birthday cake — something Dasa says is not necessarily an authentic religious practice, but one that is made with true devotion.

“Spiritual awakening doesn’t have to be difficult,” he said. “It’s actually very pleasurable. We just adjust our lives a little bit to bring Krishna into the picture.”

Dr. Sumul Raval, AAPI Secretary Nominated For Padmashree Award

“With tremendous honor and respect my name was nominated for Padmashree award. This happened because of my historical contributions in literature and patient care in Neuro-Oncology,” Dr. Sumul Raval, current Secretary of the American Indian Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said here today.

A board-certified neurologist and world authority on brain tumors, Dr. Sumul N. Raval is one of the very few neuro-oncologists in private practice in United States.  Dr. Raval is the founder and director of the David S. Zocchi Brain Tumor Center at Monmouth Medical Center – New Jersey’s first and most comprehensive facility specializing in brain tumors. The center focuses on bringing leading-edge care to the local community.

Dr. Raval’s personal dream has been to begin a state-of-the-art brain tumor center in New Jersey, so that patients can receive academic-level care in their own backyards. Today, the program draws patients from across the country and as far away as Sweden, Russia, Venezuela, Turkey and India.

Picture : TheUNN

Dr. Raval completed his neuro-oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Dr. Raval has earned national recognition for participating in clinical trials to advance knowledge about treatment options for brain tumors, and his research has not only been published in peer-reviewed medical journals, but also presented at national meetings of the American Society for Clinical Oncology. He says, “We are so fortunate to be able to offer his expert care to our patients and their families.”

He is a frequent clinical trial investigator and has combined the drugs Avastin®️ (now FDA approved for glioblastoma) and irinotecan to successfully shrink brain tumors. He also lead a brain tumor vaccine trial.

In addition, Dr. Raval is a humanitarian: “I believe quality of life is just as important as battling the disease,” he says. He listens to patients with compassion and inspires them to think positively.

Dr. Raval was presented with the GBM Heroes Award (Glioblastoma Multiforme) during the 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology held in Scottsdale, Arizona organized by CURE®️ magazine. The honor recognizes individuals who have dedicated their lives to helping patients with GBM and their families, according to CURE®️ magazine. This conference drew 3,600 Neuro-Oncologists, Neuro-Surgeons, Radiation Oncologists, Neuro-Radiologists and Scientists from 55 countries, and is the most comprehensive neuro-oncology meeting in the world.

“This is an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime honor,” says Dr. Raval, noting the global recognition is especially rare for a doctor at a community hospital. “I am humbled and grateful to receive this award.” Dr. Raval “is one of the few neuro-oncologists who brings world-class care to families in their own backyard,” notes CURE, a renowned cancer magazine with nearly 1 million readers.

His chapter in Textbook “Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma”, on Management of Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma (PCNSL) remains gold standard of management of PCNSL. His Recent chapters in two textbooks on Covid 19 Pandemics has all information about immediate and long term complications of Covid 19 and Neurology.

In addition, Dr. Raval is a staff Neuro-Oncologist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center since 2003 where he introduced the Neuro-Oncology field to Meridian Health. He also practices at Community Medical Center, where he served as Secretory of the Medical Staff and serves as a Vice Chairman of the Department of Neurology.  A diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, he is president of Garden State Neurology & Neuro-Oncology, with offices located in West Long Branch and Toms River.

He is immediate past president of Monmouth and Ocean Medical Society, Chapter of Medical Society of New Jersey, and Elected as Treasurer of Medical Society of New Jersey 2022. He was chosen by peers in New Jersey for 11 years in row as Jersey Choice Top Doctors from 2013 to 2023. He also appeared on Cover page of New Jersey Monthly magazine in 2015. In 2008 he was awarded as 10th Annual Francis Black Humanitarian of the Year Award in Healthcare. He received numerous more awards over the years.

After serving as Treasure for year 2022-2023, He was elected as Secretary for year 2023-2024 for American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) which is second largest medical organization after American Medical Association, AMA in USA.

Upon his election as the Secretary of AAPI, Dr. Raval said, “It is with great joy and gratitude that I stand before you today as the newly elected Secretary of AAPI for the year 2023-2024. I am humbled by the overwhelming support and trust you have placed in me, and I am deeply honored to serve this esteemed organization in such a significant role. I am committed to building upon past achievements and leading AAPI with integrity, transparency, and innovation. I will focus on promoting diversity and inclusion in healthcare, advocating for the needs of our members, and fostering collaboration. Let us continue to work hand in hand to make a positive impact on healthcare and uphold the values of AAPI.”

To support his nomination, please visit: Http:// and register then follow instructions to submit your support by nominating me. It will take only few minutes. That would be great help. September 15 is last date to support nomination. We only have week to support. Please feel free to share and tell your friends to support as well. Thank you 🙏

Indian American Episcopal Bishop In USA, Prince Singh Restricted From Ministry

(RNS) — Episcopal Bishop Prince Singh, provisional bishop of the dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, is being placed on leave and will be barred from practicing any form of ministry pending the resolution of a denominational investigation into allegations that he had physically and emotionally abused his wife and sons.

Since June, the bishop has been voluntarily participating in a Title IV investigation, an internal disciplinary process for Episcopal clergy accused of misconduct.

In a letter dated Sept. 7 and obtained by Religion News Service, the Rev. Clifton Daniel III, the bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina who is overseeing the Title IV investigation, cited “a series of public allegations” as reason for the decision.

“These include allegations that you verbally and physically abused your sons over a period of years; that you threw objects at your ex-wife, threatened her with a knife and by raising your hand at her; and that you publicly misrepresented facts related to your divorce,” the letter said. “In the light of these allegations, I have determined that you may have committed an Offense under Title IV, and that the good order, welfare or safety of the Church require that I place restrictions on your ministry.”

The letter orders Prince Singh to refrain from any ordained ministry, in or outside of the Episcopal Church, effective immediately until they are modified by Daniel, or changed or removed by a disciplinary board of bishops “or upon termination of any disciplinary proceedings in which you are a Respondent.” Singh may request a review of the restrictions by a panel of the disciplinary board.

“We are grateful to see this important step forward and look forward to hearing more,” Prince Singh’s sons, Nivedhan and Eklan Singh, and their mother, Roja Suganthy-Singh, said in a statement to RNS. The family members added that they are still “wary” because they believe Singh should have been placed on leave months ago.

The brothers originally disclosed their allegations to the denomination’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in December 2022 and have said that Curry and Bishop Todd Ousley, who heads the denomination’s Office of Pastoral Development, mishandled their allegations. Curry has recused himself from overseeing the Title IV investigation and designated Daniel to act as the presiding bishop for the case.

On Tuesday (Sept. 5), after 55 bishops in the Episcopal Church signed a letter citing concerns about members of their ranks receiving “free passes,” Curry announced recommendations for revising disciplinary procedures for bishops.

“For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of our integrity, and, above all, for the sake of the well-being of every child of God who is a part of this church, we cannot, we must not, and we will not sit idly by when anyone is hurt or harmed in our midst,” Curry said in his announcement.

Prince Singh’s predecessor in the dioceses of Eastern and Western Michigan, Whayne M. Hougland Jr., was suspended in 2020 after admitting to adultery. Last summer, members of the dioceses issued a complaint citing serious concerns with the Title IV process. They asserted that the Episcopal Church prioritized the healing and well-being of the bishop at great financial expense, while providing little support to the impacted dioceses. Nivedhan and Eklan Singh and Roja Suganthy-Singh told RNS they hope the pattern does not repeat itself.

“Fifty-five members of the House of Bishops recently signed a letter professing that bishops should not get free passes for misconduct,” Nivedhan, Eklan and Roja Suganthy-Singh wrote in an email. “Until they follow up on this sentiment with real action by taking steps to hold Bishops Curry and Ousley accountable for their track record of mishandling Title IV cases, we cannot take this profession to be anything more than sentimentality and image-management.”

Studies Suggest Covid-19 Variant BA.2.86 Less Immune-Evasive Than Feared

Amid fresh concerns of Covid-19 due to the new highly mutant Omicron sub variant BA.2.86, two new studies from the US have confirmed that it is less contagious as well as immune evasive.
This comes after two studies last week from China’s Peking University and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden showed that the variant is less transmissible than XBB and EG variants.
The new study, led by researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the US, reported on X, formerly Twitter, that their first data from their antibody neutralisation experiments suggest responses to BA.2.86 were lower than to BA.2.
However, they were comparable to or higher than the current circulating variants. Neutralising antibodies to all variants, including BA.2.86, increased following XBB infection.
The experiments were done on samples from 66 people, including 44 who had received the bivalent (two-strain) mRNA Covid booster, said Ninaad Lasrado, one of the researchers at the Barouch Lab at the Centre, on X.
He added that the findings fuel hopes that the new XBB.1.5 vaccines have the potential to induce cross-reactive neutralising antibodies against other recombinants and against BA.2.86.
According to Dr. Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at the Center, their results align with earlier experiments by labs in China and Sweden.
Taken together, the data suggests that BA.2.86 will not be as troublesome as experts had feared. In short, this one seems to be a “scariant”, he was quoted as saying to CNN.
But another variant, FL.1.5.1, which is causing an estimated 15 per cent of new Covid-19 infections in the US, may be a different story. This fast-growing descendant of the XBB recombinant variant has a constellation of mutations that have raised the eyebrows of variant trackers.
In lab testing, it was the most immune-evasive. “If there wasn’t so much hype about BA.2.86, that would actually be the focus of the paper,” Barouch said.
In the second study, researchers at the Columbia University used blood plasma from 61 adults: 17 who had gotten three monovalent vaccine doses and two bivalent vaccines, 25 who had recovered from a BA.2 breakthrough infection and 19 who’d recovered from an XBB breakthrough infection.
The results were substantially similar to the study at Barouch lab, the report said. Across the range of immune profiles, antibodies in the blood were able to recognise BA.2.86 just as capable as they were other circulating variants. People with the highest degree of immunity against BA.2.86 were those who’d recovered from recent XBB infections.
That was a surprise because of how many mutations BA.2.86 has. Scientists had predicted that based on what was known about those specific mutations, it might be highly immune-evasive, the report said. “The news is better than I was expecting, and makes me more encouraged that the new upcoming vaccine will have a real benefit against current dominant variant (EG.5) as well as BA.2.86,” Dr. Ashish Jha, former White House Covid-19 response coordinator, in a post on X.
BA.2.86, which descended from a Omicron variant, has so far been linked with 29 cases of Covid across four continents. The variant has been detected from both human and wastewater specimens. So far, it has not been found to cause more severe illness. But the limited number of cases means it’s too soon to know whether it causes more severe Covid-19 or is more transmissible than other variants. (IANS)

Sundar Pichai Reflects On How Google Transformed Lives In Last 25 Yrs

As Google celebrates its 25th birthday this month, its CEO Sundar Pichai has reminisced about how technology has changed the way we communicate, create and innovate.

Celebrating Google’s rich history of events (the company will officially celebrate its 25th birthday later this month), Pichai said it’s time for some gratitude, and a moment to reflect.

“Years ago, when I was studying in the US, my dad — who was back in India — got his first email address. I was really excited to have a faster (and cheaper) way to communicate with him, so I sent a message.

“And then I waited…and waited. It was two full days before I got this reply Dear Mr. Pichai, email received. All is well,” he wrote late on Tuesday.

Fast forward to a few months ago. “I was with my teenage son. He saw something interesting, took some quick pictures and shared them with his friends. Then they exchanged a few messages, and it all seemed faster than the time it would take me just to pull out my phone,” said Pichai.

“How I communicated with my dad all those years ago compared with how my son communicates today shows just how much change can happen across generations,” he noted.

Google was founded on September 4, 1998, by American computer scientists Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were PhD students at Stanford University in California.

The company — now part of the parent group called Alphabet and run by Indian-origin Pichai — has diversified into several tech streams and launched several products.

“Larry and Sergey first wrote down our mission 25 years ago: to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. The product they built, Google Search, went on to help billions of people around the world get answers to their questions,” said Pichai

Search is still at the core of the mission, and it’s still the biggest moonshot with so much more to do, according to him.

“Of course, Google today is more than a search box. We have 15 Google products that each serve more than half a billion people and businesses, and six that serve more than 2 billion users each,” Pichai informed.

The company rapidly grew to offer a multitude of products and services beyond Google Search, many of which hold dominant market positions like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Cloud, Chrome, YouTube, Workspace, Android operating system, cloud storage Drive, Google Translate), video chat app Meet, Pixel smartphones, Google Assistant, Bard AI and more.

Google has been investing in AI since almost the beginning. They were one of the first to use machine learning in their products, starting in the early 2000s.

“Now, generative AI is helping us reimagine our core products in exciting ways — from our new Search Generative Experience (SGE), to “Help Me Write” in Gmail. And earlier this year, we launched Bard, an early experiment that lets people collaborate with generative AI,” said Pichai.

One million people are already using generative AI in Google Workspace to write and create. Flood forecasting now covers places where over 460 million people live. A million researchers have used the AlphaFold database which covers 200 million predictions of protein structures, helping with advances to cut plastic pollution, tackle antibiotic resistance, fight malaria, and more.

“We’ve demonstrated how AI can help the airline industry to decrease contrails from planes, an important tool for fighting climate change,” according to Pichai.

Pichai was appointed as CEO of Google on October 24, 2015, replacing Page, who became the CEO of Alphabet. On December 3, 2019, Pichai also became the CEO of Alphabet.

“Over time, AI will be the biggest technological shift we see in our lifetimes. And in 2048, if, somewhere in the world, a teenager looks at all we’ve built with AI and shrugs, we’ll know we succeeded. And then we’ll get back to work. Thanks for an amazing 25,” he noted. (IANS)

IAGB Celebrates ‘India The Trailblazer’

At its annual India Day celebrations at Boston’s iconic Hatch Memorial Shell on August 19th at Hatch Shell, India Association of Greater Boston, known as IAGB, honored Women Who Win, India Society of Worcester and Indian American Cultural Awareness Builders for their contributions and services to the community.

“We believe that India Day is not just a celebration of a nation, but an occasion to bring our community together, inspire and learn from one another, and celebrate the beauty of diversity and unity,” said IAGB President Vaishali Gade. “Through these events, we hope to continue to create a platform for cultural exchange, dialogue, and mutual appreciation.”

Programs at Indian Day included a Bollywood Classical Fusion Concert, ‘Raaga Unleashed ‘ by Berkley College of Music students, and Patriotic plus Bollywood foot-tapping song bonanza, ‘Junun India Ka’ , a concert by NU Sanskriti, a band by Northeastern University students- under the open sky along Charles River.

Moreover, IAGB kicked off India Day Celebration during the first week of August starting with Flag Raising in many towns and its first ever India Celebration in MLB’s History at Fenway at RED SOx vs KC Royals Game.

Picture : TheUNN

The organizations that were honored at India Day, dubbed this year as “India the Trailblazer”, are:  Women Who Win, founded by Dr. Manju Sheth, Dr. Deepa Jhaveri, and Shaleen Sheth, with Trailblazer of the Year Award; India Society of Worcester for its 60 Years of Community Service; and, Indian American Cultural Awareness Builder: Sunanda Sahay, Shuchi Gupta, Deepali Khanzode, Yogesh Karale, Phil Kaplan and Roopesh Mathur.

“Women Who Win hit its three year milestone this summer, and I am proud of the inspiring and empowering stories we have shared and the unique community we have built. I am excited for our platform to continue being a positive and uplifting media organization where women can share their stories and make connections around the globe,” said Shaleen Sheth, one of the founders of Women Who Win. “We are truly grateful for this recognition and honor and would like to thank IAGB for the Trailblazer award.”

Added Dr. Jhaveri: Women Who Win has surpassed our expectations in terms of impact, engagement and membership.  We are truly thankful to the community for sharing this journey with us as we celebrate our third year anniversary!  Thank you IAGB for this incredible recognition, honor and award.”

Women Who Win is nonprofit global women’s media platform, with a mission to amplify voices of diverse women of all races, cultures, and backgrounds.

“Women Who Win was founded during Covid times to share uplifting stories and bring hope so that women would not give up on their dreams in tough situations,” said Dr. Sheth. “This is our third-year anniversary, and we feel privileged to have shared hundreds of inspiring stories . We are so grateful to IAGB for appreciating our work and honoring us with the Trailblazer’s Award.”

“In short, we are very honored and grateful to get the prestigious Trailblazer Award of the year from IAGB especially on Indian Independence Day celebrations at Hatch Shell. It will motivate us to keep doing better,” said Dr. Maju Sheth, founder of Women Who Win.

The UN’s Own Relevance Is At Stake At This Year’s General Assembly

(IPS) – This September, world leaders and public policy advocates from around the world will descend on New York for the UN General Assembly. Alongside conversations on peace and security, global development and climate change, progress – or the lack of it – on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is expected to take centre-stage. A major SDG Summit will be held on 18 and 19 September. The UN hopes that it will serve as a ‘rallying cry to recharge momentum for world leaders to come together to reflect on where we stand and resolve to do more’. But are the world’s leaders in a mood to uphold the UN’s purpose, and can the UN’s leadership rise to the occasion by resolutely addressing destructive behaviours?
Sadly, the world is facing an acute crisis of leadership. In far too many countries authoritarian leaders have seized power through a combination of populist political discourse, outright repression and military coups. Our findings on the CIVICUS Monitor – a participatory research platform that measures civic freedoms in every country – show that 85% of the world’s population live in places where serious attacks on basic fundamental freedoms to organise, speak out and protest are taking place. Respect for these freedoms is essential so that people and civil society organisations can have a say in inclusive decision making.

UN undermined.

The UN Charter begins with the words, ‘We the Peoples’ and a resolve to save future generations from the scourge of war. Its ideals, such as respect for human rights and the dignity of every person, are being eroded by powerful states that have introduced slippery concepts such as ‘cultural relativism’ and ‘development with national characteristics’. The consensus to seek solutions to global challenges through the UN appears to be at breaking point. As we speak hostilities are raging in Ukraine, Sudan, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Sahel region even as millions of people reel from the negative consequences of protracted conflicts and oppression in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Syria and Yemen, to name a few.

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Article 1 of the UN Charter underscores the UN’s role in harmonising the actions of nations towards the attainment of common ends, including in relation to solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, and to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. But in a time of eye-watering inequality within and between countries, big economic decisions affecting people and the planet are not being made collectively at the UN but by the G20 group of the world’s biggest economies, whose leaders are meeting prior to the UN General Assembly to make economic decisions with ramifications for all countries.

Economic and development cooperation policies for a large chunk of the globe are also determined through the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Established in 1961, the OECD comprises 38 countries with a stated commitment to democratic values and market-based economics. Civil society has worked hard to get the OECD to take action on issues such as fair taxation, social protection and civic space.

More recently, the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – grouping of countries that together account for 40 per cent of the world’s population and a quarter of the globe’s GDP are seeking to emerge as a counterweight to the OECD. However, concerns remain about the values that bind this alliance. At its recent summit in South Africa six new members were admitted, four of which – Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – are ruled by totalitarian governments with a history of repressing civil society voices.

This comes on top of concerns that China and Russia are driving the BRICS agenda despite credible allegations that their governments have committed crimes against humanity.

The challenge before the UN’s leadership this September is to find ways to bring coherence and harmony to decisions being taken at the G20, OECD, BRICS and elsewhere to serve the best interests of excluded people around the globe. A focus on the SDGs by emphasising their universality and indivisibility can provide some hope.

SDGs off-track

The adoption of the SDGs in 2015 was a groundbreaking moment. The 17 ambitious SDGs and their 169 targets have been called the greatest ever human endeavour to create peaceful, just, equal and sustainable societies. The SDGs include promises to tackle inequality and corruption, promote women’s equality and empowerment, support inclusive and participatory governance, ensure sustainable consumption and production, usher in rule of law and catalyse effective partnerships for development.

But seven years on the SDGs are seriously off-track. The UN Secretary-General’s SDG progress report released this July laments that the promise to ‘leave no one behind’ is in peril. As many as 30 per cent of the targets are reported to have seen no progress or worse to have regressed below their 2015 baseline. The climate crisis, war in Ukraine, a weak global economy and the COVID-19 pandemic are cited as some of the reasons why progress is lacking.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is pushing for an SDG stimulus plan to scale up financing to the tune of US$500 billion. It remains to be seen how successful this would be given the self-interest being pursued by major powers that have the financial resources to contribute. Moreover, without civic participation and guarantees for enabled civil societies, there is a high probability that SDG stimulus funds could be misused by authoritarian governments to reinforce networks of patronage and to shore up repressive state apparatuses.

Also up for discussion at the UN General Assembly will be plans for a major Summit for the Future in 2024 to deliver the UN Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda report, released in 2021. This proposes among other things the appointment of a UN Envoy for Future Generations, an upgrade of key UN institutions, digital cooperation across the board and boosting partnerships to drive access and inclusion at the UN.

But with multilateralism stymied by hostility and divisions among big powers on the implementation of internationally agreed norms, achieving progress on this agenda implies a huge responsibility on the UN’s leadership to forge consensus while speaking truth to power and challenging damaging behaviours by states and their leaders.

The UN’s leadership have found its voice on the issue of climate change. Secretary-General Guterres has been remarkably candid about the negative impacts of the fossil fuel industry and its supporters. This July, he warned that ‘The era of global warming has ended; the era of global boiling has arrived’. Similar candour is required to call out the twin plagues of authoritarianism and populism which are causing immense suffering to people around the world while exacerbating conflict, inequality and climate change.

The formation of the UN as the conscience of the world in 1945 was an exercise in optimism and altruism. This September that spirit will be needed more than ever to start creating a better world for all, and to prove the UN’s value.

(Mandeep S. Tiwana is chief officer for evidence and engagement + representative to the UN headquarters at CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance.)

Cricket League Launched In Dallas

Dallas Mayor Eric L. Johnson announced the launch of a new sports league and another cricket team for the city as part of the new venture, National Cricket League (NCL). He was joined by Azhar Qasmi, NCL CEO, Dallas business executive Arun Agarwal who is serving as NCL chairman and advisor, Haroon Lorgat, former chairman of the International Cricket Council, as well as cricketers and Lollywood and Bollywood celebrities to celebrate the impending Dallas team launch.

The NCL also announced the new Dallas headquarters and the league’s first event, a nine-day nonstop cricket tournament taking place in December.

Picture : WFAA

The NCL is an exciting new venture that aims to introduce the short, fast-paced form of cricket, called “sixty strikes”, to the United States. It includes six teams with international players, coaches and mentors from all over the world. Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world after soccer. In the U.S. alone, there are over 30 million cricket enthusiasts, with 4.4 million subscribers paying to watch cricket on various TV channels. It has rapidly gained popularity, especially the “sixty strikes” format.

“It is my hope that we will be able to cheer on our city’s team in a stadium in Dallas soon. The National Cricket League has my full support as it works to bring the first dedicated cricket stadium to Dallas,” said Mayor Johnson.

The mayor and NCL leadership stressed that the new Dallas team and stadium location will be announced very soon. “This will be a Dallas team. When we say Dallas, we mean Dallas – not Arlington, not Frisco. We’re proud to create another team to represent our city,” said Agarwal.

The first league tournament will be December 19-29 at Broward County Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida. In addition to cricket, this nine-day nonstop tournament will feature 30+ performances from celebrities around the world.

In 2022, sporting events in Dallas produced more than $647 million in economic impact for the city, supported more than 4,000 jobs and generated $16 million in local tax revenue. And more major sporting events are coming soon to Dallas, including the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the 2030 NCAA Men’s Final Four, and the 2031 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

“If you aren’t already one of the 30 million cricket enthusiasts in America, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the sport,” said Mayor Johnson. “Sports present unique opportunities to bring together people of all backgrounds under one roof. They strengthen communities. They generate excitement. And they foster civic and national pride.”

More details about the Dallas team and stadium location will be revealed in the coming weeks. The names of the six league team owners are also forthcoming, and the drafting of players is expected to take place in October.

National Cricket League

The National Cricket League is an exciting venture that aims to introduce the short and fast-paced “sixty strikes” format of cricket to the United States. “Sixty strikes” matches typically last around 90 minutes and are known for power hitting and high-scoring matches. While cricket may be new to the American audience, it is incredibly popular in other parts of the world with 2.5 billion global followers. For more information, visit

Acharya Lokesh Highlights Religious Tolerance At G20 Interfaith Summit

Jain Spiritual leader and founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti (AVB) Acharya Lokesh and prominent representatives of various religions from around the world attended the inaugural session of the three-day G20 Interfaith Summit recently held at MIT World Peace University, Pune.

In his opening remarks, Acharya Lokesh emphasized the importance of religious tolerance for a prosperous and peaceful world. According to him, religious leaders can help in the fight against both environmental and ideological pollution. He maintained that religion has a deep connection with development, peace, and goodwill.

Pandit Vasant Gadgil stated that efforts should be made to spread religious texts, promote religious literacy, and foster social cohesion. Only when all faiths and denominations cooperate in this way will India’s message of “Vasudhev Kutumbakam” have any impact, he highlighted.

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Archbishop Felix Machado encouraged the audience to incorporate meditation and yoga into their daily lives. He emphasized the significance of this by saying that it leads to personal contentment, family harmony, and community peace and at the same time, many diseases can be cured.

According to  Dr. Lesan Azadi, Director, Baha’i Academy Panchgani, it is everyone’s responsibility to spread the message of peace and harmony across the country and the world, so that people everywhere can put aside their differences in religion, caste, and society to stand together in times of need.

Saint Baba Balwinder Singh asserted that religion teaches us to unite rather than divide, and that only by embracing this teaching will we be able to achieve world peace and harmony through India’s pluralistic culture and the principle of Vasudev Kutumbakam.

All religions and all sects have something to teach humanity, Hazrat Rifiya Sahib said. Providing today’s youth with positive role models is crucial he said adding that it is important to inspire them to serve the national interest.

7 Questions On JAWAN For SRK and Vijay

Shah Rukh Khan’s JAWAN has hit the big screens last week and the excitement among the audience is at its peak. After seeing the action-packed trailer, it has been hard for the audience to wait for the release of the film, and the evidence of the same is well-witnessed at the advance booking windows where this action entertainer is creating records.

Now, to elevate the ever-rising excitement, the makers have released a video via social media, titled 7 QUESTIONS FOR 7TH SEPTEMBER, which gives everyone a fun insight into the film.

1) Question for SRK: *1. Is it true that Atlee and you wanted to work together for a long time? * While answering this, SRK said, I met with Atlee during the making of Bigil and he went for the match of CSK and KKR. Ahead of this, Atlee had spoken to me on an idea for Jawan saying, ‘It’s you, sir, along with 5 girls and that’s my film because my wife Priya and myself really feel that you look the nicest when you have a bunch of ladies with you in a film’ and that’s how Jawan started.

Furthermore, the video brought a question for Vijay Sethupathi playing the role of Kaali in Jawan.

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2) Question for Vijay Setupathi – How did you get the role of villain in Jawan and are you the real villain in the film or Shah Rukh Khan is? While answering, Vijay Sethupathi reminisces about his interaction with SRK and Atlee. He told SRK, ‘Sir I wanted to be a part of your film’ to which SRK replied ‘We were also thinking of you for the past few years’ and that’s how he got into this film. Moreover, while addressing who the real villain is in the film, him or Shah Rukh Khan? Vijay smartly answered both are playing their roles and are villains for each other.

3) Question for SRK – Are you the villain or hero or vill-hero? Let us in on your secret?
Answering the same, SRK says, ‘It’s a common man, doing uncommon things for the common good of everybody’.

4) Question for Vijay Setupathi – Your experience working with Shah Rukh Khan?
While answering this, Vijay mentioned how he enjoys the way SRK gives interviews, with spontaneity and how intrigued he is! And how he keeps asking him lots of questions to know more about him as a person.

5) Question for SRK – Are you an action hero or just a guy with a great insurance policy?
SRK responded to this jokingly saying my insurance policy is over! As he has been injured so many times no one wants to insure him. Furthermore he added, the only reason he likes doing action films is because his youngest son Abram loves cool films with action, anime and superheroes and he wants to do cool action films for him.

6) Question for Vijay Setupathi – How do you prepare for such an intense antagonist role?
Vijay Sethupathi, said, ‘I just know that I am good at choosing scripts and I do not want to bring anything  else into my headspace, I believe that it spoils the artist in my mind which I do not want to do.’

7) What was your “That is why I signed up for Jawan” moment?
While mentioning this one moment, SRK, said, “There is a shot where I am introduced as the bald hero (does the clapping action) and I remember Atlee putting a lot of powder in my hand and I think I sneezed also doing that shot, but when I finally saw the shot, and that’s my moment for doing Jawan.

With this, SRK left the excitement of the fans on edge and promised that there is a lot more than this in the film. The superstar further urges everyone to enjoy Jawan on 7th September 2023.

‘Jawan’ is a Red Chillies Entertainment presentation directed by Atlee, produced by Gauri Khan, and co-produced by Gaurav Verma. The film will release worldwide in theatres on September 7th, 2023, in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu languages.

September 11 Remembrance Staged On Tribeca Traffic Island

Battery Dance, an arts organization located in what was the “Frozen Zone” after 9/11, remembers the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Towers 22 years later, curating a public program of Indian classical dance and music.  At 8:26 a.m. on Monday, September 11th, the voices of Hindustani classical musicians Ritesh and Rajnish Mishra, will echo from the traffic island at Franklin Street and West Broadway in Tribeca, along with the ankle bells of Kathak dancer Parul Shah and rhythms of tabla player Naren Budhakar.

The event, staged impromptu and with no intention of collecting donations and with no seating, follows Battery Dance’s earlier memorial events staged in the same spot in September 2001 and 2021, a location chosen because the towers had been in the view corridor of the traffic island which now looks out on empty sky.  It also follows a public performance staged at the World Trade Center that Hollander organized in 1999, the first time Ritesh and Rajnish had performed in North America with their father and uncle, Rajan and Sajan Mishra.

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Delhi-based brothers, Ritesh and Rajnish Mishra, come from a long-line of Hindustani classical musicians, with their father and uncle being two of the most beloved and revered artists of their generation.  They have built a reputation for themselves over the past two decades with five previous U.S. tours, numerous Indian national awards and 10 recordings to their credit.

Parul Shah is a leading dancer in the North Indian classical style of Kathak, a form that combines elements of both Mughal and Hindu cultures.  Her former dance studio was located a few blocks from the World Trade Center. She has been a featured performer at previous Battery Dance Festival India Day performances.

Naren Budhakar is an esteemed percussionist who has performed at the Metropolitan and Brooklyn Museums, Asia Society, and on international tours. He performed with Battery Dance in the Fall of 2001 at the inaugural “Wall Street Rising” event following 9/11.

Battery Dance gratefully acknowledges the support of Radhika and Kamal Bhatia.

EVENT:   9/11 Remembrance in Music and Dance

LOCATION:   Traffic Island next to the uptown #1 Subway Franklin Station stop in Tribeca

TIME/DATE:   8:46 a.m. – 9:16 a.m., Monday, September 11, 2023

PERFORMERS:   Rajnish & Ritesh Mishra, Parul Shah, Naren Budhakar

Views of India Lean Positive Across 23 Countries

ARAR Premieres At Chicago South Asian Film Festival 2023

A riveting story of human emotions, FARAR is set for its world premiere at the 14th annual Chicago South Asian Film Festival (CSAFF) as the ‘Marquee Web Series’ of the festival. The first collaboration under the landmark partnership of Applause Entertainment and Zindagi, FARAR’s global premiere is a strong reinforcement of bridging cross-cultural gaps and creating universally- relatable South Asian content for the diaspora.

Two episodes from the show, based on the themes of friendship, freedom, and hope, will be screened on Saturday, September 23rd, as part of the four-day festival program. The premiere will be attended by producers Shailja Kejriwal (Juror at International Emmy Awards 2023) and Umnia Iftikhar, director Mehreen Jabbar (Pakistan’s Oscar Selection Committee), and lead actor Sarwat Gilani (JOYLAND, CHURAILS). The six-episode series, also produced by Sameer Nair and Deepak Segal features Mariam Saleem & Maha Hasan, and is set in the sprawling city of Karachi, Pakistan.

Expressing her excitement, lead actor Sarwat Gilani says, “As an actor, being part of FARAR has been an incredible journey of exploration and dedication. This show is not just a story for us; it’s a piece of our souls, a representation of the rich emotions that connect us as humans. As FARAR gets ready for its premiere at CSAFF, my heart is brimming with happiness. This compelling storyline, delicately weaving the tapestry of female friendships and triumphing over obstacles, is now set to captivate and resonate with audiences worldwide.’’

Recognized as one of the most prolific directors from Pakistan, director Mehreen Jabbar adds, “I am thrilled to have our series premiere in Chicago. This vibrant city not only has a thriving South Asian diaspora but also houses a festival that has consistently championed diverse genres and formats. In a time marked by divisions and jingoism, it is truly heartwarming to see the convergence of two of the world’s largest South Asian nations, uniting in celebration of the art of storytelling.”

Reflecting on this significant milestone, Chief Creative Officer (Special Projects) Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., Shailja Kejriwal says, “Personally, nothing gives me greater joy than seeing content from our subcontinent reach a world stage. FARAR’s premiere at CSAFF is extra special as it is our first collaboration with Applause Entertainment.  The potential for South Asian content is unmatched, and we are so thrilled to have such an amazing partner and such brilliant teams on board this journey with us”.

Producer Umnia Iftikhar adds: “Bringing FARAR to Chicago South Asian Film Festival is a moment of immense pride and gratitude for our entire team. This show is a labor of love, a convergence of passion and storytelling. As we premiere here amidst the world, we hope FARAR resonates with the universal emotions that bind us all. The power of storytelling lies in its ability to bridge cultures and ignite conversations, and we are thrilled to share our narrative with this wonderful audience.”

Presented by Applause Entertainment, a Zindagi original FARAR tells the story of three independent women who are navigating the complexities of modern life. The series highlights the universal human experiences of friendship, love, and personal growth, while simultaneously tackling issues such as societal pressures, identity, taboos, and body shaming.

Earlier this week, in a groundbreaking move, Applause Entertainment and Zindagi announced their strategic partnership to energize investment in South Asian content creation that connect with today’s diverse global audience.

About Applause Entertainment

Applause Entertainment is a leading Content & IP Creation Studio with a focus on premium drama series, movies, documentaries, and animation content. A venture of the Aditya Birla Group, led by media veteran Sameer Nair, the studio has produced and released popular series across genres and languages which includes shows like Rudra: The Edge of Darkness, Criminal Justice, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, Scam 2003: The Telgi Story, Undekhi, Kafas, and others that have gone on to win acclaim and applause. Applause’s feature film Zwigato, directed by Nandita Das and starring Kapil Sharma released in cinemas worldwide to tremendous critical acclaim. The first Tamil cinema ‘Por Thozhil’ struck gold at the Box Office with rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. The Rapist, directed by Aparna Sen, recently won the prestigious Kim Jiseok Award at the Busan International Film Festival. Applause has partnered with leading platforms like Netflix, Disney+Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Sony LIV, MX Player, ZEE5, and Voot Select for its creative output.

About Zindagi

Zindagi, a flagship channel launched in 2014, owned by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, introduced India to captivating and thought-provoking stories from across the border. With a focus on exploring the human experience through compelling narratives, Zindagi has gained acclaim for its diverse range of shows like Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Aunn Zara to originally created shows such as Churails, Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam, Dhoop ki Deewar and so on that transcend borders and languages.

In the last 9 years, Zindagi has traveled its journey from television to OTT (launched in 2020 on ZEE5) and recently returned to television as a DTH value-added service provider. Last year, Zindagi took home over 10 awards for their original shows, including Qatil Haseenaon Ke Naam, which was titled the National winner of ‘Best Anthology Award’ at the Asian Academy Creative Awards in 2022 as well as ‘Best Programme Title Sequence’ at the Promax India Awards 2022. Another original show Dhoop Ki Deewar won ‘Best Key Art’ and ‘Best Use of Social Media’ in Marketing at various Awards and so on. Zindagi continues to be at the forefront of storytelling innovation, fostering cross-cultural understanding and forging memorable connections between audiences and the South Asian stories it brings to life.

ISNA’s 60th Annual Convention Held in Chicago

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) rolled out its high profile 60th Annual Convention and attracted Thousands of Enthusiastic Participants at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois (5555 N. River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018). “A Multifaceted #ISNA60 Convention was inaugurated by around 40 elected officials and community leaders followed by Friday prayer by thousands of participants.

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention is widely regarded as the largest annual gathering of Muslims in America. It attracts thousands of participants and serves as a social and spiritual event for the betterment of our community. In addition to Muslim Americans, the convention attracts people of other faiths, international delegations, and officials from local, state, and federal government, including heads of state said Mir Khan, Chairman, Steering Committee, ISNA.

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“ISNA’s Convention is more than simply a coming together of Muslim community. Our goal is to unite people across different faiths and backgrounds in the spirit of peace and better understanding”, said Safa Zarzour, ISNA President, in his Inaugural Address. Continuing his address, he said that even though the Convention is by Muslims, it is for everyone. “This is not just a Muslim event, but this is an American event”, he stated and added that the Convention provides a platform to Muslims, guests from other faith communities, families, businesses and non-profit organizations to network and exchange ideas. 

This year’s theme, “60 years of service: Navigating the way forward”, he added, was largely centered on how faith can inspire the community to bring positive social change in response to challenges and injustices of all forms. “The Convention was a great opportunity to look back and celebrate our accomplishments and successes as an American Muslim community and at the same also look ahead to address some of the challenges we face as a community in North America”, he concluded with a sense of optimism.

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“ISNA had a rich list of 200 renowned speakers, scholars, community leaders, and public servants to address Convention attendees. Remarks from Congressman Ro Khanna (Rep. California 17th District), Congresswoman Summer Lee, Khizr Khan (Goldstar Father and Presidential Medal of Honor Recipient) Comedian Preacher Moss & other national Muslim entertainers offering their signature acts. Film Festival featuring Muslim American filmmakers tackling relevant issues facing Muslim Americans. One of the largest Muslim Matrimonial events in the US Renowned speakers like Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir & Yasir Qadhi addressing evolving Muslim issues.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, was the keynote speaker during the Community Service Recognition Luncheon which honored Dr.Ihsan Bagby for his lifetime dedication to serving the community. Mazen Basrawi from the white house read a special letter from POTUS, building interfaith relationships and social justice advocacy, said Mr. Azhar Azeez, board member and former President, ISNA. Over 40% convention speakers were females that included well known academics and scholars like Dr. Rani Awad, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Ustadha Lehsa Prime, Ustadha Muslema Perumal, Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed and others, Azeez added. Complementing the main ISNA offering of programs, there were conferences hosted by MSA of US & Canada.

ISNA is the largest and oldest Islamic umbrella organization in North America. Its mission is to foster the development of the Muslim community, interfaith relations, civic engagement, and better understanding of Islam at an international level, representing the voices of Muslim Americans, said Basharat Saleem, Executive Director, ISNA. The roots of ISNA were laid in 1963 by the Muslim Students Association of the US and Canada (now MSA-National). In everything that ISNA does, the effort is not just to unite and strengthen the Muslim community and their trust in Allah, but also ISNA is actively building bridges of understanding, communication, reconciliation, and cooperation with the mainstream faith and other communities.

India Thrash Pakistan In Asia Cup With Virat Kohli’s 47th One-Day International Century

Having set a target of 357, India bowled out Pakistan for 128 runs, its third-lowest total against India. It was India’s biggest margin of victory — by runs — over its neighbor and bitter rival.

After bad weather halted play on Sunday, when Pakistan won the toss, the game extended to the reserve day and threatened to end in no result after several more rain interruptions but India’s bowlers bowled out the opposition in just 32 overs. Two injured bowlers did not bat for Pakistan.

Kuldeep Yadav finished with a five-wicket haul as Pakistan struggled against the left-arm wrist spinner. As well as taking five wickets, his eight overs cost only 25 runs.

Earlier, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul posted unbeaten hundreds as India amassed 356-2.

Kohli and Rahul put on an unbroken 233 for the third wicket off 194 balls, India’s highest partnership for any wicket in the Asia Cup.

It is also the fourth-highest total at the R Premadasa Stadium, with no one-day international team having successfully chased 357 at the venue, and India’s joint highest ODI total against Pakistan, equalling the 356 scored in Visakhapatnam in 2005.

“We wanted to walk out to the park and have some game time. Many of the guys didn’t have game time,” India captain Rohit Sharma said. “Virat and Rahul batted so well when we had to score big runs, and then the bowlers were superb when it was our time to bowl.”

“We have back-to-back games [playing Sri Lanka on Tuesday] and it’s tough on the players, but we are looking forward for the challenge.”

India resumed on Monday on 147-2 and soon took complete control.

Rahul, back in the side after injury, scored a run-a-ball century. It was his sixth ODI hundred and the first since March 2021. He finished 111 not out off 106 balls with 12 fours and two sixes.

Only former captain Kohli could do better than that as he became the quickest batter to get to 13,000 ODI runs. The previous record holder, Sachin Tendulkar, needed 321 innings to reach the milestone but Kohli got there in 267.

Kohli’s 47th ODI hundred came off 84 balls — after reaching his fifty in 55 deliveries — and it was his fourth consecutive century at the ground. Only Hashim Amla of South Africa has scored four successive tons at the same venue, at Centurion.

Kohli finished unbeaten on 122 off 94 deliveries with nine fours and three sixes.

“India’s batters had a plan for our bowlers. And then Rahul and Kohli followed up and finished very well,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said. “It was disappointing as we were never in the hunt during the run chase.”

Pakistan’s bowling looked strong when the teams met in a first-round game in Kandy but this time India went on the attack.

Pakistan’s bowling was weakened without Haris Rauf. The paceman sent down five overs on Sunday but wasn’t available to bowl on Monday as he felt “discomfort in his right flank”, the Pakistan Cricket Board said. Naseem Shah also walked off midway through his final over with a shoulder niggle. Neither bowler batted.

India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all have one win apiece in the Super Four round. India is top on net run rate.

Bangladesh is the fourth team in the group and has lost two matches.

India made two changes for the match from the line-up that beat Nepal in its previous game. Rahul, who missed the group stage, returned in place of Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah, who had flown back to India and missed the Nepal game due to personal reasons, replaced Mohammad Shami.

Pakistan opted to play an unchanged team, sticking to the same XI that had beaten Bangladesh in their first Super Four game in Lahore.

The first-round day-nighter between India and Pakistan was washed out after India was bowled out for 266 in the 49th over. (Virat Kohli notches 47th one-day international century as India thrash Pakistan in Asia Cup – ABC News)

How The ‘Model Minority’ Myth Led One Indian American Family To Unravel

Prachi Gupta’s family appeared to embody the quintessential American Dream from an outsider’s perspective. Her father, a doctor, her mother, a devoted homemaker, and Prachi and her brother Yush were both high-achieving individuals. They enjoyed the comforts of a spacious five-bedroom home in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Gupta was raised with the belief that their prosperity was a testament to their diligent work ethic and adherence to Indian cultural values.

However, beneath this façade, Gupta reveals a different, more tumultuous narrative in her new memoir titled “They Called Us Exceptional.” She describes how her father’s temper and strict rules created a turbulent atmosphere at home, causing Gupta to grapple with the stark contrast between her family’s inner dysfunction and the picture-perfect image they presented to the world.

Gupta discusses the impact of this dichotomy on her identity, stating, “If you believe that success and achievement are integral to your core identity, any challenges, traumas, or hardships you face are internalized as personal failures. This compels us to conceal anything imperfect about ourselves.”

In her memoir, Gupta delves into how each member of her family coped with the turmoil at home in their own way. Her mother chose to tolerate her husband’s manipulative behavior despite enduring mistreatment. Gupta herself rejected the toxic dynamics she had once accepted, leading to her estrangement from her family. Her brother, on the other hand, learned to bury his emotions, ultimately embarking on a path that, according to Gupta, led to his tragic demise.

Gupta’s book is a deeply personal exploration that combines her own narrative with historical insights and cultural analysis. It sheds light on how the weight of the “model minority” stereotype contributed to the unraveling of her family.

CNN recently interviewed Gupta to discuss the motivation behind her book, the tragic event that inspired it, and the authenticity of the American Dream. Below is an edited excerpt of their conversation:

What inspired you to write this book?

“In 2017, my brother Yush passed away. At the time, we had been estranged for two years, but prior to our estrangement, we had shared an incredibly close bond. He was only 18 months younger than me, and for most of our lives, we were best friends. His unexpected and untimely death, caused by complications after cosmetic limb-lengthening surgery, initiated my journey into writing this book. I needed to comprehend who he had become and the decisions that had led him down this path.

Part of the reason for our estrangement was my strong feminist beliefs and his adoption of men’s rights views. When he passed away, I wrote an essay titled ‘Stories About My Brother,’ which was published on Jezebel in 2019. The response to this essay was overwhelming. I heard from immigrant mothers who were unaware of the challenges their children were facing and decided to discuss mental health with them. Sisters who shared complicated relationships with their brothers found solace in my words, and Asian American men indicated that they were heading down a similar path as my brother but reconsidered their choices after reading my essay. Men from various backgrounds confessed that they had battled depression without ever acknowledging it before.

Realizing the shared struggles and isolation that so many people experienced, I felt compelled to share my complete story. There was much more to tell about how the culture we live in encourages us to distance ourselves from our true selves and communities in pursuit of success and achievement. I believe that if my brother and I had been exposed to this narrative earlier in life, our relationship might have endured, and he might have made different decisions that could have saved his life.”

Why did your and your brother’s paths diverge so dramatically in adulthood?

“We grew up in the same household but had vastly different experiences. Our family adhered to traditional gender roles, and this created a divide between my brother and me. I witnessed the injustice of these roles and how I was treated differently due to my gender. He absorbed messages about masculinity and the expectations placed on men. He learned not to express his emotions, avoid discussing feelings, and felt pressure to be a provider.

These differing expectations, coupled with our dysfunctional family dynamics, pushed us further apart as we grew older. I questioned the family system and sought to understand why things were the way they were, while he leaned into his traditional role. This friction became the source of our estrangement, and we were unable to reconcile our differences.”

You documented many painful events in your book as they were happening. Did you always intend to write a book about your family?

“I always felt a need to document what was happening in some way. Writing was my means of making sense of the world around me. I grew up in a volatile household where reality could change in an instant. My father would alter facts, and suddenly, I’d be told that certain events didn’t occur, despite my clear recollection of them. I constantly questioned my sanity, and writing served as a way to preserve my memories. Documenting everything felt essential to my survival. However, I never initially planned to write a memoir or a personal account. My intention was to use these observations to create fictional narratives in the future.

After Yush’s passing, I didn’t want to relegate him to a hypothetical concept. I wanted to honor his memory and shed light on the real harm caused by the ideologies he had embraced. These pressures are genuine, and they have genuine repercussions on our bodies, lives, and relationships. We often discuss these issues abstractly, but they played a role in my brother’s tragic end. I wanted people to understand that these pressures are real and have real consequences.”

In your book, you often avoid using terms like “abuse” or “domestic violence” to describe what happened in your family. Can you explain why?

“Yes, that was intentional. I found empowerment in labeling these dynamics as abusive and toxic because it helped me distance myself from them. However, these situations are far from black-and-white or straightforward. Experiencing such situations is disorienting, especially when the person hurting you is someone you deeply love. It’s not easy to simply categorize it as ‘abuse’ and move on.

I also wanted to convey what it feels like to be in such a situation. When we use terms like ‘abuse’ or ‘domestic violence,’ everyone has a different mental image. Many people primarily associate physical abuse with these terms, but psychological and emotional abuse exist on a spectrum. We lack effective ways to discuss these forms of abuse and their consequences.”

Your book is framed as a letter to your mother. Why did you choose this format?”After Yush’s death, I wanted more than anything to reconnect with my parents. I wished to keep Yush’s memory alive through our relationship. However, this proved challenging.

I often contemplated mortality following his passing and didn’t want to leave my mother in the dark about who I truly am, on my terms. I wanted to explain to her why our relationship remained distant and clarify that it had nothing to do with my love for her. It was a difficult conversation to have in person, so I felt compelled to write it down.”

Have your parents read the book?

“I’m not certain. I did send them a letter before the book’s publication, but I’m unsure whether my mother has read it or not. I agonized over this decision but ultimately felt that it was necessary. After my brother’s death, I needed to find meaning in his passing. (Courtesy: TIME)

India Rebuffed Requests For More Press Access Ahead Of G20 Summit

Reporters accompanying President Joe Biden to the G20 summit in India did not have the opportunity to ask questions to President Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting in New Delhi. The White House confirmed this decision despite repeated requests for increased press access.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan explained that this meeting was unique because it would take place at the prime minister’s residence, unlike the typical bilateral visits to India where meetings are held in the prime minister’s office. He mentioned that Prime Minister Modi had set specific protocols for the meeting.

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Sullivan acknowledged that the administration had pushed for a pool spray of the meeting, as is customary when President Biden hosts foreign leaders at the White House. He humorously remarked, “We spend our lives asking for pool sprays and other things” for reporters.

Prime Minister Modi, who has faced criticism from press freedom organizations for his government’s crackdown on independent reporting, has rarely taken questions from the press since assuming office.

During a state visit in June, Modi agreed to participate in a news conference at the White House after extensive negotiations between the two sides. Initially, Indian officials were hesitant about the White House’s insistence on holding a news conference.

The Biden administration has been keen to highlight the President’s willingness to address press freedom and humanitarian issues under Modi’s rule. During Modi’s visit in June, six Democratic lawmakers boycotted his address to Congress, citing concerns about India’s treatment of Muslim minorities.

However, President Biden warmly welcomed Prime Minister Modi to the White House during the visit, hosting a formal state dinner in his honor, emphasizing the shared commitment to democracy between the two nations.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that the administration was making every effort to ensure media access to the President during his trip to India for the G20 summit. Several officials, including Sullivan, White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt, Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer, and Deputy Assistant to the President Kurt Campbell, contacted their Indian counterparts to advocate for increased press access, but their efforts were apparently unsuccessful.

Jean-Pierre noted, “We have reached out, we have made the request multiple times and at different pressure points.” She emphasized that the administration had been working diligently to ensure a smooth trip for everyone involved and left it to the Indian government to respond.

She added, “Look, we are all trying to do our best, at the behest of the president, to get this done – and so we’re gonna keep working on it.”

Instead of addressing reporters after the G20 summit’s conclusion in New Delhi, President Biden will hold a news conference in Vietnam, where it is deemed “easier” for him to take questions from reporters.

Jean-Pierre explained the decision by stating that it was logistically simpler to hold the press conference in Vietnam and that it would not change anything, as it would have been a solo press conference by the President regardless.

Regarding formal engagements with world leaders during the G20 summit, Sullivan indicated that there would likely be few formal meetings. He said, “I can’t confirm any (bilateral meetings), and to be honest with you, I think you will not see, because of the way the schedule was structured, a significant number of formal engagements with other leaders.” Instead, most of the interactions with other leaders would be informal and on the margins, rather than formal sit-down meetings.

190 Billion Hours – New Study Provides An Unprecedented Glimpse Into The Global Human Day

New research has unveiled a fascinating insight into how people across the world spend their daily 24 hours. With a global population of approximately 8 billion, this translates to an astonishing 190 billion human hours every day. How we distribute this time has profound implications for our environment and life experiences. To gain a deeper understanding of how individuals worldwide allocate their time, a team from McGill University embarked on an extensive study, offering an unprecedented glimpse into a typical day on our planet.

Eric Galbraith, a professor in Earth System Science at McGill University and the senior author of the study, emphasized the need for fresh perspectives in addressing global challenges. He stated, “If we are to sustainably navigate climate change and biodiversity loss, adapt to rapid technological change, and achieve global development goals, it is crucial to understand the big picture of how the global human system functions, so that we can see where there is potential for change.”

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The research aimed to provide a holistic, bird’s-eye view of our collective daily activities. William Fajzel, a Ph.D. student in Earth System Science at McGill University and the first author of the study, explained their objective: “We wanted to know – what does the time allocation of humanity look like, averaged over all people and across all countries? In other words, if the world were a single average person, what would their day look like?”

To answer this question, the research team analyzed time use and labor data spanning from 2000 to 2019, a period that excluded any impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. They gathered data from over 140 countries, representing 87% of the world’s population.

The researchers categorized all the activities people engage in during their waking hours, encompassing both work-related and non-work-related activities. These activities were classified into 24 categories falling into three broad groups:

  1. Activities intended to alter the external world, including tasks related to food, energy, construction, and environmental maintenance.
  2. Activities focused directly on human minds or bodies, encompassing personal care, education, leisure, socializing, and more.
  3. Organizing activities within society, such as transportation, trade, finance, law, and governance.

In their meticulous analysis, the team manually classified nearly 4,000 distinct activities, leading to some intriguing findings.

The most significant portion of our daily hours is devoted to activities centered around humans, totaling just over 9 hours. Additionally, sleep or being in bed accounts for another 9 hours, including the longer sleep patterns observed in youth. Of the remaining 6 hours, various tasks like food cultivation and preparation, commuting, and allocation-related duties (e.g., trade, finance, sales, law, governance, policing) each occupy approximately 1 hour. Astonishingly, waste management claims only 1 minute of our global day, a sharp contrast to the 45 minutes spent on cleaning and maintaining our living spaces. Furthermore, all construction and infrastructure-related activities take up just about 15 minutes.

Interestingly, the study found that the time allocated to activities like meals, daily travel, personal hygiene, and food preparation does not exhibit a systematic relationship with a population’s material wealth. In contrast, the time spent on food cultivation and collection displayed a strong correlation with economic status, varying from over 1 hour in low-income countries to less than 5 minutes in high-income countries.

Approximately one-tenth of the day is dedicated to economic activities. This includes both economic and non-economic activities. Within these categories, some of the total time represents individuals engaged in economic activities, such as doctors, nurses, cooks, and agricultural laborers.

The research team estimated that the entire global economy occupies approximately 2.6 hours of the average human day. Agriculture and livestock production dominate this economic activity, followed by allocational activities like trade, finance, law, and manufacturing. While this 2.6-hour figure may appear small, it equates to a 40-hour workweek for the two-thirds of the world’s working-age population (ages 15-64) that comprise the labor force.

These findings offer a unique perspective on the interplay between economic activities and the broader tapestry of human life on a global scale. They also suggest opportunities to reevaluate the allocation of time among specific activities, such as resource extraction, energy provisioning, and waste management, which currently require only around seven minutes of our daily lives.

India’s ‘Massive Expansion’ Set To Be A Key Driver Of Global Economic Growth

India’s impressive economic performance, coupled with strong growth projections for select Southeast Asian nations, is poised to serve as a significant catalyst for global economic expansion, according to insights from S&P Global.

During the annual energy APPEC conference, Rajiv Biswas, S&P Global’s Chief Economist for the Asia-Pacific region, underscored the pivotal role of the Asia-Pacific in driving global economic growth, both in the short term and the foreseeable future. He emphasized that over the next decade, the Asia-Pacific is expected to outpace other regions in terms of economic growth.

“When we look over the next decade, we do expect Asia-Pacific to be the fastest growing region of the world economy,” Biswas remarked. He specifically highlighted several bright spots in the region, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Biswas articulated, “A massive expansion is underway in the Indian economy, and there is also a very favorable outlook in Southeast Asia — where we anticipate robust growth, particularly in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, which are poised to be among the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets in the coming decade.”

Vietnam, for instance, recorded a second-quarter GDP growth rate of 4.14%, outpacing the 3.28% growth rate observed in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, expanded by 5.17% year-on-year in the June quarter. In contrast, the Philippine economy grew at a rate of 4.3%, slightly below Reuters’ expectations of a 6% increase.

India, on the other hand, experienced robust economic growth, with a remarkable 7.8% expansion in the June quarter, marking its fastest pace of growth in a year. Biswas expressed optimism about India’s economic momentum, affirming S&P Global’s forecast that India will surpass Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2030. The projection envisions India’s GDP climbing from $3.5 trillion in 2022 to a substantial $7.3 trillion by 2030.

In the broader context of the Asia-Pacific region, S&P Global anticipates growth to strengthen from 3.3% in the previous year to 4.2% in the current year, according to their projections. Biswas further elucidated, “Over the next decade, we expect that about 55% of the total increase in the world’s GDP will come from the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Implications for the U.S. and China:

Despite the impressive growth trajectory of the Asia-Pacific region, Rajiv Biswas emphasized that the United States will continue to play a pivotal role in driving global economic growth, contributing to approximately 15% of the world’s growth over the next decade.

Picture: CNBC

Likewise, China, despite experiencing a somewhat weaker recovery than anticipated and a slowdown in growth momentum, will remain a significant contributor to global economic expansion. China is expected to account for approximately one-third of the total increase in global GDP over the same period.

Biswas acknowledged that China has faced challenges, as a slew of economic data has fallen short of expectations. This has led to concerns about the sustainability of its growth trajectory.

In the broader global context, S&P Global’s outlook indicates that the global economy is poised for modest growth, with a projected growth rate of 2.5% for both the current year and the following year.

The Asia-Pacific region, led by India and select Southeast Asian economies, is expected to serve as a critical driver of global economic growth in the coming decade. While the United States and China will continue to play essential roles in this global economic landscape, the dynamism and growth potential of the Asia-Pacific region make it a focal point for economic opportunities and investment in the years ahead. S&P Global’s projections highlight the importance of monitoring these evolving economic dynamics for businesses and policymakers worldwide.

India’s consumer market set to become the world’s third largest by 2027, behind the U.S. and China

India’s consumer market is on track to become the world’s third-largest by 2027, driven by a rising number of middle to high-income households, according to a report from BMI. Currently ranking fifth globally, Fitch Solutions predicts that a substantial 29% increase in real household spending will propel India up two positions in the global consumer market hierarchy.

In fact, the report anticipates that India’s per capita household spending growth will outpace that of other developing Asian economies like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, with a year-on-year increase of 7.8%. This robust growth is expected to significantly widen the gap between total household spending in the ASEAN region and India.

BMI’s estimates suggest that India’s household spending will surpass the $3 trillion mark, driven by a compounded annual growth rate of 14.6% in disposable income until 2027. By this time, approximately 25.8% of Indian households are projected to reach an annual disposable income of $10,000 or more. BMI noted that a significant portion of these households will be concentrated in major economic centers like New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, with wealthier households primarily located in urban areas, providing an attractive target market for retailers.

India’s substantial youth demographic is another key driver behind the anticipated surge in consumer spending. Approximately 33% of the country’s population falls within the age bracket of 20 to 33 years old. BMI expects this demographic to contribute significantly to the consumer electronics sector, with communication spending projected to grow at an average annual rate of 11.1% to reach $76.2 billion by 2027. This growth is attributed to a technology-savvy urban middle class with increasing disposable income, which encourages expenditure on aspirational products like consumer electronics.

Additionally, India’s ongoing urbanization process is expected to further bolster consumer spending. As more people move to urban areas, companies find it easier to access consumers and establish physical retail stores to cater to their needs. Major global brands like Apple and Samsung have already capitalized on this trend. Apple, for instance, opened two retail stores in Delhi and Mumbai in April, while Samsung announced plans to establish 15 premium experience stores across India by the end of the year, targeting major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.

Furthermore, BMI pointed out that global investors, including the Blackstone Group and APG Asset Management, have shown increased interest in India’s shopping mall business, recognizing the growth potential in consumer spending. They have injected additional investments into the country’s shopping mall sector to capitalize on the anticipated expansion in consumer spending.

India’s consumer market is poised for significant growth, with the country expected to climb to the third position in the global consumer market rankings by 2027. This ascent is attributed to the expected increase in real household spending, which will outpace other developing Asian economies, as well as the influence of India’s large youth population and ongoing urbanization. As global investors and major retailers continue to recognize this potential, India’s consumer market is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for business and investment.

G20 In New Delhi, A Milestone For India, US Leadership

Xi Jinping’s decision to stay away from the Group of 20 summit may have been intended to deny India its moment. Instead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi — along with the U.S. and Europe — figured out how to more effectively counter China on the world stage.

Fellow G20 nations hailed India’s success in reaching an agreement on a joint communiqué that remained in doubt just days before world leaders gathered in New Delhi for their most significant annual diplomatic event. Apart from finding consensus on Russia’s war in Ukraine, the most difficult issue, they also elevated the African Union as a full G20 member and took action on issues like climate change and debt sustainability that are priorities of emerging markets.

The final outcome irked Ukraine, which saw the compromise on war language as weaker than what leaders produced just 10 months ago in Bali, Indonesia. But for the U.S. and its allies, criticism of a communiqué that on substance was similar to Bali and has little impact on the ground is a small price to pay for giving Modi a win that bolsters India’s status as a rising power capable of blunting China’s global influence.

U.S. President Joe Biden led the charge, seeing in India his administration’s best hope of isolating China and Russia — and providing a booster shot to the U.S.-led world order. The result showed that Washington is finally learning the language of the so-called Global South, with India as its principle guide.

“Some commentators are pointing to watered-down language on Russia-Ukraine as a sign of Western ‘climbdown,’” said Milan Vaishnav, director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But there’s another way of looking at it: The West is also invested in making sure India got a win. A lack of consensus would have been a huge disappointment for India.”

If there was a moment that illustrated the summit dynamics, it was Biden’s meeting on Saturday to discuss White House-led efforts to deliver more financing to developing nations.

Along with World Bank President Ajay Banga, the first Indian American to hold the role, Biden was pictured with Modi, Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa — key members of the BRICS grouping, minus China and Russia. That bloc expanded earlier this month, posing a challenge for the Group of Seven advanced economies.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer swiped at China by referring to those nations as “the three democratic members of the BRICS,” saying they and the U.S. were all committed to the G20’s success. “And if China is not, that’s unfortunate for everyone,” Finer said. “But much more unfortunate, we believe, for China.”

And the U.S. didn’t stop there. It separately announced a deal with India, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Israel and other Middle Eastern countries to develop an ambitious rail and maritime network across the region. Biden hailed it as a “game-changing regional investment,” cementing the deal with a three-way handshake that included Modi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the U.S. president had cast as a “pariah” ahead of the last American election.

That kind of pronouncement is more likely to appeal to Middle East interests than badgering over human rights, even if the project’s time line and funding remains vague. The U.S. denied it was meant to counter China’s growing influence in the Gulf, but a French official acknowledged it was designed to provide competition for Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying that wasn’t a bad thing.

“I want to see China succeed economically,” Biden told reporters Sunday in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he flew after the G20. “But I want to see them succeed by the rules.”

Xi’s move to skip the G20 summit for the first time since he became president in 2013 marked a shift in behavior from last November, when he cast himself as a statesman with a responsibility to “get along with other countries.” China’s negotiators also risked appearing petty in looking to thwart India’s progress, taking a stand on minor issues like Modi’s use of a Sanskrit phrase and the U.S.’s bid to host the G20 gathering in 2026. The Global Times, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party, called the U.S. “just a copycat” for its Mideast infrastructure plan.

In a further blow to Beijing, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told Premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the summit that her nation plans to withdraw from the BRI while still looking to maintain friendly relations, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named. At a press conference after the G20, Meloni said she spoke to Li, representing China in Xi’s absence, about the BRI but a decision had yet to be made.

Going into the summit, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accused China of acting as a brake on progress toward a joint statement. At one point in the deliberations behind closed doors, Beijing raised the issue of access to semiconductors in a discussion of climate action, people familiar with the talks said. That prompted National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan — a leading advocate of U.S. export controls on chips and chip technology to China — to decry “the idea of holding climate hostage” to unrelated issues.

China’s Li told leaders that the G20 “needs unity instead of division, cooperation instead of confrontation,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported. That followed a commentary posted hours earlier by a Chinese think tank affiliated with the country’s top spy agency, which criticized India for having “sabotaged the atmosphere for cooperation” at the G20 by pushing its own agenda.

But China relented on its opposition to the communiqué, and India drew praise from all camps for negotiating a compromise. People familiar with the discussions said the breakthrough occurred after India, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa jointly put forward a proposal on language describing the war.

“This consensus itself shows the cemented role of India as a trustworthy fulcrum of a world bitterly divided on geopolitical issues like the Ukraine war,” said Swasti Rao, an associate fellow at the Europe and Eurasia Center at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses. “There is little doubt that middle order powers wish to keep the global economic order multipolar and not fall into the Chinese game of dominating it.”

While the final language on Ukraine made some U.S. allies uneasy, supporting the compromise presented a bigger opportunity to align more closely with major democracies in the Global South that ultimately serve as key swing nations when it comes to Russia’s war and other world issues. G7 leaders publicly praised the outcome, with Sunak insisting that the language adopted was “very strong” and that “Russia is completely isolated.”

‘Just and durable’

For the U.S., any move that bolsters India and amplifies other democracies in the Global South helps to counter China and Russia’s influence, particularly when it comes to bringing about the G20’s call for a “comprehensive, just and durable peace” in Ukraine. Back in May at the G7 summit in Japan, the U.S. and its allies struggled to convince Modi, Lula and Indonesia’s Joko Widodo to side with them on Ukraine, even after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy made a surprise appearance. Zelenskiy wasn’t invited to address India’s G20.

A senior European Union official said the agreement effectively saved the G20 as the last global forum bringing together the world’s major powers. Moreover, the official said, it helped bridge the gap between the G-7 and emerging markets, who would now be partners in holding Russia to account if it doesn’t follow through on seeking a just peace in line with UN principles.

Other senior European officials said China shot itself in the foot by staying away from the summit, allowing India to cement its leadership of the Global South and providing the U.S. and Europe a clear path to strengthen ties with emerging markets.

Even Russia, represented by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after Vladimir Putin stayed home, saw the agreement as a win. Moscow was pleased that BRICS democracies served as interlocutors with the G7, according to a person familiar with the situation, underscoring China’s status as an outsider looking in.

The U.S., of course, could yet stumble in its bid to appeal more to the Global South. Ahead of the G20, Biden skipped a summit in Indonesia hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a move that appeared like a snub to Widodo. The U.S. president sought to do damage control in Delhi, meeting the Indonesian leader briefly and pledging to meet him at the White House in November, when world leaders head to the U.S. for the APEC summit.

More significantly, however, was India’s ability to grasp the moment to assert a global leadership role. Modi — who is on pace to extend his decade in power next year — declared that “history has been created” while his chief negotiator, Amitabh Kant, called India “the spokesperson of all the Global South.”

“More than anything else, it has amplified the voice of Global South,” Kant said of the summit outcome. “It has also demonstrated that India has a huge capacity of bringing the world together and leading the world. (TIME.COM)

US Praises India For Unanimous G20 Joint Declaration Balancing North South Interests

The US conceded space to the host India in the wording of the final Delhi Declaration of G20 on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and lauded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s diplomatic skills that virtually represented a coup as the final document came out despite fractures in the group.

The declaration earned the praise of the US.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan called the statement a “significant milestone for India’s chairmanship and a vote of confidence that the G20 can come together to address a pressing range of issues.”

“The G20 statement includes a set of consequential paragraphs on the war in Ukraine. And from our perspective, it does a very good job of standing up for the principle that states cannot use force to seek territorial acquisition,” Sullivan  told newspersons.

Still, the language differed from last year’s G20 declaration, which stated “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine.” So, in a way, it was a diplomatic coup for India as the host country took a softer line than the Bali G20 one by not calling it a war but saying,  “All states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition.”

US and western nations wanted stronger language to condemn the aggression on Ukraine as they succeeded in the Bali G20 conference. The Russian invasion was described as a war in the declaration then.

Picture : Sakshi Post

The softer tone in the Delhi declaration showed that US and western allies yielded space to India, the host country, to word it differently which still had the same effect but also gave India the leverage with its long term ally Russia, whose leader Vladimir Putin did not attend, balancing its equations with US and Russia at the same time – a feat pilled of by the foreign office officials under foreign minister S Jaishankar along with trusted allies .

Russia, as a member of the G20, would have to agree on any consensus statement on Ukraine. Russia and China had resisted stronger language in a final statement, making any kind of agreement difficult. No G20 summit has concluded without a joint declaration of some type, media reports said.

Leaders gathered here for the annual Group of 20 summit managed to agree on a joint statement laying out shared views on climate change and economic development but showed the fractures within the group by stopping short of explicitly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported .

Diplomats virtually burnt the midnight oil to sort out what sort of language and phraseography the final draft  joint statement required in the lead-up to the summit . Anticipating snags, Indian foreign office officials along with its allies managed to play down the Ukraine situation as a war.

The eventual compromise statement amounted to a coup for the summit’s host, Prime Minister Modi, but still reflected a position far softer than those the US and its Western allies have adopted individually, CNN reported.

US President Joe Biden’s hopes of convincing the world’s largest economies to rally behind Ukraine during his two-night stay in India for the summit did not bear fruit in the way he wanted, but he still liked the final wording. He also pressed his case for American investment in the developing world.

Even as the summit was midway through on Saturday, the leaders agreed to the joint declaration acknowledging the situation in Ukraine while not papering over the group’s major divides on the issue.

“All states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition,” the declaration read, without explicitly singling out Russia for its invasion. The document also stated opposition to the use of nuclear weapons and highlighted the economic effects of the war in an indirect reference to Putin’s threat of using nuclear weapons if NATO allies intervened militarily to help Ukraine.

In a reflection of the deep fractures among the G20 nations, the statement acknowledged “there were different views and assessments of the situation”, US media reports noted.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko however criticised the declaration. Kiev was not invited by India to the G20 summit.

“Ukraine is grateful to its partners who tried to include strong wording in the text,” he wrote on Facebook. “At the same time, the G20 has nothing to be proud of in the part about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Obviously, the participation of the Ukrainian side would have allowed the participants to better understand the situation. The principle of ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’ remains as key as ever,” media reports said.

The absence of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin – US President Biden’s arch rivals –  provided opportunities for Biden to make a more affirmative case at the summit, White House officials said during the summit.

Biden said Saturday he would have welcomed the presence of his Chinese counterpart at the summit, but that positive outcomes were still possible. “It would be nice to have him here but, no, the summit is going well,” Biden said when questioned about the impact of Xi’s absence.

Biden hoped to leverage on the two leaders absence at the summit to portray the US as a credible counterweight to China’s economic outreach.He announced new plans partnering Europe, the Middle East and Asia to construct a major new transit corridor connecting the regions, thus challenging Beijing’s own efforts at expanding global trade with its belt road initiatives.

“India calls upon the world to come together to transform the global trust deficit into one of trust and reliance. This is the time for all of us to move together,” Prime Minister Modi said as the gathering got underway.

“Be it the divide between North and South, the distance between the East and West, management of food and fuel, terrorism, cyber security, health, energy or water security, we must find a solid solution to this for future generations,” he emphasised. It was a message of unity at a markedly fractured moment for the grouping, the US media observed.

While Biden enjoyed success at other summits convincing European leaders and NATO allies to step up their military support for Ukraine and tighten their punishment of Russia, many nations, particularly in the Global South, weren’t  convinced. They viewed the billions of dollars in Western assistance pouring into Ukraine sceptically, and sought a more balanced relationship with Moscow, CNN said.

Biden’s aides claimed the president welcomed the opportunity to make the case for Ukraine, including to audiences that aren’t necessarily on the same page. “Part of what makes the G20 an appealing format for the United States is it gives us a chance to interact with and work with and take constructive steps with a wider range of countries, including some, frankly, that we don’t see eye to eye with on every issue,” US deputy national security adviser Jon Finer told reporters on Saturday.

G20 Leaders Declaration adopted in New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the second session of the G20 Leaders Summit, announced that the leaders declaration has been officially adopted by the member states at the New Delhi Summit.

“There is good news. With everyone’s cooperation, consensus has been reached on New Delhi G20 Leadership Declaration…I announce the adoption of this declaration,” PM Modi told the gathering amid loud applause.

The official document contains 112 outcomes on various developmental and geo-political issues. It mainly focuses on Strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive Growth; Accelerating progress on SDGs; Green development pact for a sustainable future; Multilateral institutions for the 21st Century and Reinvigorating multilateralism.

“The #NewDelhiLeadersDeclaration has been officially adopted at the #G20India Leaders’ Summit! Today’s era must be marked as the golden age of human-centric globalisation & India’s G20 Presidency under the leadership of PM @narendramodi has worked tirelessly towards this goal,” G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant wrote on X.

In the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, the declaration reads, “Concerning the war in Ukraine, while recalling the discussion in Bali, we reiterated our national positions and resolutions adopted at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly and underscored that all states must act in a manner consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter in its entirety. In line with the UN Charter, all states must refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”

Drawing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s earlier statement that ” Today’s era must not be one of war,” the declaration states that all member states will work together to mitigate the war’s negative impact on the global economy and welcome all relevant and constructive initiatives that support a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine.

Modi Can’t Make India a Great Power Government-Backed Intolerance Is Tearing the Country Apart

Starting September 9, New Delhi is scheduled to host the G-20’s 18th annual summit. The event, in the eyes of the Indian government, will mark the country’s growing international importance. “During our G-20 presidency, we shall present India’s experiences, learnings, and models as possible templates for others,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared last year, when his country assumed the organization’s leadership. This August, he asserted that India’s presidency would help make the world into “one family” through “historic efforts aimed at inclusive and holistic growth.”

The government’s message was clear: India is becoming a great power under Modi and will usher in an era of global peace and prosperity.

But 1,000 miles away from New Delhi, in the northeastern state of Manipur, India is caught in a conflict that suggests it is in no position to serve as an international leader. Over the last four months, ethnic violence between Manipur’s largest community, the Meiteis, and its second-largest minority, the Kukis, has killed hundreds of people and rendered 60,000 people homeless. Mobs have set fire to over 350 churches and vandalized over a dozen temples. They have burned more than 200 villages.

At first glance, it may seem as if the violence in Manipur will not hinder Modi’s foreign policy ambitions. After all, the prime minister has traveled the world over the last four months without having to talk about the conflict. It did not come up (at least publicly) in June, when U.S. President Joe Biden rolled out the red carpet for Modi in Washington, D.C. It was not mentioned when Modi landed in Paris three weeks later and met French President.

Emmanuel Macron. And the issue has not arisen during his visits this year to Australia, Egypt, Greece, Japan, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.

Picture : OPIndia

But make no mistake: the events in Manipur threaten Modi’s goal and vision of a great India. The state’s violence has forced the Indian government to deploy thousands of troops inside Manipur, reducing the country’s capacity to protect its borders from an increasingly aggressive China. The conflict has also hampered India’s efforts to be an influential player in Southeast Asia by making it hard for the country to carry out regional infrastructure projects and by saddling neighboring states with refugees.

And the ongoing violence could give other Indian separatist and ethnic partisan groups an opening to challenge New Delhi’s primacy. If these organizations do begin to rebel, as some of them have in the past, the consequences would be disastrous. India is one of the most diverse countries in the world, home to people from thousands of different cultures and communities. It cannot function if these populations are in intense conflict.

There is little reason to think that tensions will ease under Modi, and plenty of reason to think they will get worse.

The prime minister’s central ideological project is the creation of a Hindu nationalist country where non-Hindu people are, at best, second-class citizens. It is an exclusionary agenda that alienates the hundreds of millions of Indians who do not belong to the country’s Hindu majority. It is also one with a track record of prompting violence and unrest—including, now, in Manipur.

Modi’s allies and supporters like to argue that the prime minister is personally transforming India into a new superpower. Modi’s deputies, for example, suggest that the prime minister has earned respect unmatched by any previous Indian leader. Modi “exudes India in many ways, and I think that has had a big impact as well on the international community,” Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s foreign minister, remarked in June.

The country’s pliant media have declared that Modi is vishwaguru: the world’s teacher and guide. But Manipur shows that India stands little chance of becoming a global leader as long as Modi is at the helm. Great powers need to be stable, and the ruling party’s exclusionary policies will open the country’s various fault lines, creating chasms that lead to violence and drain the state’s capacity. Manipur has sent Modi a warning. He is ignoring it at India’s peril.


Modi is not the first Indian politician to promote Hindu nationalism and majoritarianism. The prime minister’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), have spent decades trying to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra, or a nation exclusively of Hindus. Along the way, the groups have routinely provoked bloodshed. The groups, for example, inspired the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. The RSS helped destroy a historic mosque in 1992, which set off widespread riots.

But although Hindu nationalism has been around for decades, the movement has amassed more power than it ever has before. Manipur provides an insight into how. In theory, the state should be unfavorable terrain for Hindu supremacists. Its Meitei majority does not traditionally identify as Hindu; they have instead followed an animistic faith, one with its own beliefs and traditions. The community’s language is not Hindi, nor is it one of Hindi’s cousins. In fact, until the late 1990s, the Meitei nationalist movement sought independence from India. Meitei organizations should, if anything, oppose Hindu nationalists ruling the country.

But the BJP and the RSS have worked to get ethnic groups that form the majority in their own states to join their cause (except when they are Muslims), arguing that these groups deserve to dominate their regions—just as Hindus should dominate India overall. Sometimes, the BJP and RSS even try to amalgamate smaller communities of animistic faiths into the Hindu tradition.

Their message does not always land, but in Manipur, it appears to have done so. Many Meiteis now say they are Hindus, and the community’s nationalists identify as part of the BJP’s program. They believe that they are the original inhabitants of Manipur—the sons of the soil—and that Kukis are illegal immigrants from Myanmar. Their argument mirrors the one made everywhere by the RSS, which claims that Hindus are the original inhabitants of India whereas Muslims and Christians are outsiders.

Great powers need to be stable.

The state’s chief minister, Nongthombam Biren Singh, has fashioned himself accordingly. Once a pluralist politician from the Indian National Congress—the main opposition party—Singh joined the BJP in 2017 and has positioned himself as a Meitei partisan since 2022. He won Manipur’s state elections again for the BJP, and he has been leading the charge against the Kukis.

In the months before the conflict began, he adopted a policy of arbitrarily evicting Kuki villages under the pretense of protecting forests. Beginning in February, his government began checking the biometric details of people living in Kuki-dominated hill districts in order to identify “illegal immigrants.” In March, he blamed “illegal immigrants from Myanmar” engaged in the “drug business” for protests against the state’s efforts to evict Kukis from their villages. And in April, he told an RSS-controlled newspaper that “foreigner Kuki immigrants have taken control of the social, political, and economic affairs of the native tribal people of the state.”

Singh’s policies and rhetoric are squarely at odds with the Indian constitution, which was designed to safeguard marginalized groups. The document affords all of the country’s indigenous minorities—including the Kukis—special protections to secure their land, language, and culture. But under Modi, those protections are falling apart.

After winning reelection in 2019, Modi’s government quickly stripped Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, of its constitutionally enshrined protections. He then split the state in two and downgraded the resulting components from states into federally controlled territories. Anticipating widespread unrest, Modi deployed vast numbers of troops into what was already a militarized region and shut off the area’s Internet. It was a brutal response, and one that sent a message to other protected groups.

That included the Kukis, who are now at risk of losing their own protections. In April 2023, the state’s high court ruled that the state government must recommend whether Meiteis should be given access to the same set of privileges granted to the Kukis, including reserved jobs, reserved university seats, and the ability to buy land in Manipur’s hill regions. (In the context of Indian politics, this effectively meant telling the state it had to give Meiteis access to these privileges.)

The decision, immediately condemned by Manipur’s Kuki and other tribal communities, kicked off the recent unrest. As tribal groups marched to protest the order, they began fighting against Meiteis who supported it. Soon, the clashes escalated into organized bloodshed. Meitei-majority areas in the Manipur’s Imphal valley were cleansed of all ethnic Kukis. In response, Kukis targeted Meitei households in their midst.

But even though both sides have resorted to violence, it is clear that tribes have borne the brunt of the carnage. Kuki women have been raped and subjected to other forms sexual violence. Indian soldiers have done little to arrest armed Meitei men. Manipur’s police have done almost nothing while Meitei groups ransacked their armories. Since the conflict started, mobs have taken more than 4,900 weapons and 600,000 rounds of ammunition—including mortars, machine guns, and AK-47s—from Manipur’s stockpiles. Almost 90 percent of these weapons have been taken by Meitei militias.


The Kukis are not an isolated ethnic group. Instead, they belong to a broad network of tribes that live in Manipur, Manipur’s neighboring states, and two of India’s neighboring countries: Bangladesh and Myanmar. As a result, tens of thousands of Kuki families have fled into these jurisdictions, turning Manipur’s conflict into a regional issue.

The exodus and violence have undermined Modi’s grand strategy. Under Modi’s “Act East” policy, for example, India is trying to build infrastructure connecting its remote northeastern states with Southeast Asian countries. But the instability has delayed these ambitious projects.

The government, for instance, cannot begin a planned highway linking India to Myanmar and Thailand until there is peace in Manipur. It also cannot start a project that would improve the Indian northeast’s coastal access by building a road to the Burmese river town of Paletwa. (Civil conflict in Myanmar is holding up these endeavors as well.) India’s bid for greater influence in Southeast Asia therefore remains stalled, even as China continues its heavy regional spending under the Belt and Road Initiative.

The spillover is not the only way that Manipur’s violence has made it harder for New Delhi to compete with Beijing. Over the last 40 months, the Chinese and Indian militaries have been locked in a series of heated—and sometimes lethal—border standoffs, as China works to grab Himalayan territory from India. As a result, protecting India’s borders has become one of the country’s main foreign policy objectives. But to send troops to Manipur, the federal government had to pull a whole mountain division of roughly 15,000 soldiers away from the Chinese-Indian border, weakening India’s defensive posture.

China, of course, may not capitalize on India’s border weakness; Beijing has its own security priorities and issues. But even if the conflict in Manipur does not end up directly helping China, the violence will still degrade India’s international position. Since its independence from British colonial rule in 1947, India has been bedeviled by many separatist insurgencies. Sikh separatists, for example, waged a bloody, failed campaign for independence in the northern state of Punjab during the 1980s and 1990s. Maoist insurgents fought against India in parts of the country’s east and center.

Some of these groups still exist, and they occasionally remind Indians of their presence by carrying out spectacular acts of violence. The central government’s complete collapse in Manipur could embolden all of them to challenge New Delhi, putting India’s security establishment under increased pressure and diverting its energy and resources away from major external threats.

And yet despite these risks, Modi has been remarkably blasé about the conflict. He has not visited Manipur, and he has refused to meet with elected representatives from the state. He has not chaired a meeting about the violence, nor has he issued major statements condemning the deaths or suffering of Manipur’s people. He did not react even when the house of his junior foreign minister was burned by a large, angry mob in the state’s capital. His silence was broken only after 78 days, when he spent all of 36 seconds criticizing the violence after a video of two naked Kuki women being harassed and paraded went viral. Modi talked about the fighting again a few weeks later, but only when opposition parties tabled a no-confidence vote in parliament in order to force him to speak about the issue. Even then, Modi raised the subject about 90 minutes into his remarks, after all the opposition lawmakers staged a walkout in frustration.


There are several explanations for Modi’s silence. One is Manipur’s location. The state, tucked into India’s northeast corner, is seen as a distant land—barely connected to the country psychologically, physically, and now digitally. (The government has largely shut down Manipur’s Internet in response to the unrest.) Another is that Manipur is home to just three million people, a tiny fraction of India’s 1.4 billion residents, and so the country’s BJP-friendly media can easily ignore its politics. A third is that Modi may believe he can fix the conflict without saying anything, simply by throwing more troops and police at it.

But the final explanation for Modi’s silence is more chilling: the prime minister cannot condemn what is happening because it would expose the debilitating contradiction between his ideological project and his vision for a strong India. The BJP’s goal is to create an India where Hindus, as the party defines them, control everything. It is encapsulated in the BJP’s old unitary slogan—“Hindi, Hindu, Hindusthan”—and is evidenced in its virulently anti-Muslim election campaigns. (During the 2019 national elections, Amit Shah, now India’s home minister and Modi’s second-in-command, called Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh “termites.”) Letting the Meiteis dominate the Kukis is perfectly in keeping with this majoritarian vision. It may, in other words, be the natural outcome of Modi’s politics.

Modi has certainly behaved as if he does not mind Meitei dominance. The prime minister could fire Singh, or he could use his considerable weight to make the country’s armed forces actually check Meitei violence. But he has not. Instead, Modi has placed his political interests ahead of the requirements of India’s constitution. He has decided that, although the BJP’s behavior in Manipur may alienate some voters, it is more likely to help by rallying Meiteis to the party’s side. Corralling the country’s Hindu majority through exclusionary rhetoric and actions has, after all, helped Modi win commanding national elections.

But in the long run, Modi’s project will take a toll on the authority and credibility of the Indian state. It will open up fault lines between and among India’s many communities—divides that will widen and cement into permanent gulfs. The country could eventually confront what the British Trinidadian writer V. S. Naipaul called “a million mutinies,” threatening India’s own being. The northeast’s various other ethnic groups might begin fighting with each other.

India’s southern states, which have their own distinct languages and identities, could demand more freedoms from New Delhi. Kashmir and Punjab—which do not have Hindu majorities—could experience renewed sectarian violence and insurgencies. Both places are on India’s volatile border, and so conflict in either would bode poorly for New Delhi’s international dreams.

The BJP’s goal is to create an India where Hindus control everything.

Even if Hindu supremacy does not result in widespread civil strife, the Indian government’s nationalist program could still undermine its bid for global leadership. New Delhi likes to argue that its aspirations are peaceful, but the RSS has long spoken of trying to establish Akhand Bharat: a fantastical, greater India in which New Delhi would govern over all or part of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Tibet. When the Modi government unveiled a new parliament building in May, it even featured a mural of the entity. Multiple countries lodged formal complaints in response.

None of those countries, of course, are part of the West, which has nothing to directly fear from India’s regional goals. Indeed, Western governments seem to believe they will gain. The United States and Europe both openly hope that as India grows more powerful, it can serve as a strong check on China. As a result, they have gone out of their way to avoid criticizing New Delhi, irrespective of its bad behavior.

But the violence in Manipur clearly shows the limits of India’s potential under Modi. The country will not be able to effectively defend its borders if it has to divert military force to suppress internal unrest. It cannot serve as a counterweight to China if it is burdening other parts of Asia with domestic conflicts. In fact, India will struggle to be effective anywhere in the world if its government remains largely preoccupied with domestic strife.

For New Delhi’s Western partners, an India that cannot look outward will certainly prove disappointing. But it will be more disappointing for Indians themselves. Theirs is the largest country in the world; it should, by rights, be a global leader. Yet to be stable enough to project substantial authority, India needs to keep peace and harmony among its diverse population—something it can accomplish only by becoming an inclusive, plural, secular, and liberal democracy. Otherwise, it risks turning into a Hindu version of South Asia’s other countries, such as Myanmar and Pakistan, where ethnic dominance has resulted in tumult, violence, and deprivation. Everyone who wants India to succeed should therefore hope that New Delhi can see the problem with its vision—and change course before it is too late. (Courtesy: Foreign Affairs)

India’s Youth Give Hope For A Brighter Future

In a world where one in five individuals under the age of 25 resides in India, it is evident that this young demographic wields considerable influence, comprising nearly half of the nation’s burgeoning population. As India takes its place as the world’s most populous country, Gallup data unveils an intriguing narrative: the youth of India, part of what’s often termed the “demographic dividend,” harbors a heightened sense of hope for the future, eclipsing the optimism of their older counterparts.

After India’s hard-won independence in August 1947, the nation witnessed a staggering surge in population, nearly tripling over six decades. In the 1950s, the average Indian woman bore over six children, sparking concerns about the ramifications of such rapid growth.

Today, these concerns appear increasingly obsolete. India’s fertility rate has declined in recent years, with women now bearing an average of two children. Concurrently, mortality rates have dwindled, bolstered by rising incomes and improved access to healthcare and education. Projections suggest that India’s population will gradually decline by the 2060s.

In contemporary India, individuals under the age of 25 constitute an impressive 47% of the nation’s populace. This youthful cohort is poised to spearhead India’s economic evolution for decades to come.

India’s Advancements for Children

Recent years have witnessed a perceptible shift in how Indians perceive their nation as a place for children to thrive. In 2022, an impressive 85% of respondents felt that children had ample opportunities for growth and learning every day, marking a 28-percentage-point surge since 2008. In this aspect, India stands neck-to-neck with Bangladesh as the leading South Asian nation for children’s development.

Significantly, this perception transcends generational boundaries, resonating with both young and old alike. In India’s southern regions, where educational and literacy rates are highest, a remarkable 92% of respondents believe that their country provides a conducive environment for children’s growth and learning.

Beyond this, 86% of Indians believe that children are treated with respect, indicating a nation that’s not merely growing in population but also making substantial strides in improving conditions for its youth.

Education Satisfaction and Global Connectivity

Another noteworthy trend is the growing satisfaction with India’s education system. In 2022, this satisfaction rate soared to 83%, partly explaining why Indians perceive their nation as an ideal place for children to learn and flourish. Those content with the education system are significantly more likely to regard India as a favorable environment for children (88%) compared to those dissatisfied (68%).

Historically, individuals with the highest education levels, i.e., tertiary or higher, were more satisfied with India’s educational system than their less-educated counterparts. However, this educational divide has markedly diminished in recent years. In 2022, the least educated were equally satisfied with their education system as the most educated, underlining the positive shift in India’s educational landscape.

Picture: Forbes

India’s youth are also embracing global connectivity at an unprecedented rate. A striking 50% of Indians aged 15 to 24 have internet access, whether through a phone, computer, or other devices. This contrasts significantly with a mere 11% of those aged 50 and older. This increased connectivity, likely driven by improved education and technology access, is fostering a deeper understanding of and stronger opinions about global affairs among India’s younger populace. Young Indians are emerging as the most vocal and engaged demographic when it comes to discussing the leadership of major global powers, such as the United States and China.

Youthful Optimism in Employment Prospects

Over the next decade, India’s labor force is anticipated to expand by over 8 million people annually, primarily propelled by a surge of educated young individuals entering the workforce. While providing suitable employment opportunities for this burgeoning workforce poses a challenge, it also represents a substantial opportunity for the world’s fifth-largest economy.

Despite relatively high youth unemployment, young Indians remain notably optimistic about their job prospects. In the previous year, 57% of Indians under 25 believed it was a favorable time to secure employment in their local area, marking the highest level of optimism since 2007.

Interestingly, this optimism extends more prominently among women than men, reversing a longstanding trend. Older women, in particular, are contributing to this shift, but even India’s young women harbor a level of optimism about local job prospects comparable to their male counterparts of the same age.

The Future of India’s Youth

In summary, India’s population is set to continue growing for at least four more decades, placing its youth and the children of tomorrow at the epicenter of its future development and prosperity.

The signs are encouraging. The youth, often deemed the torchbearers of progress, are brimming with hope for the future, surpassing the optimism of previous years. Regardless of age or educational background, Indians unite in their belief that their country is becoming a more favorable place for children to receive an education, be treated with respect, and thrive.

Despite challenges like high youth unemployment, the young generation in India remains steadfastly hopeful about their future employment opportunities. As education levels continue to rise, and technology spreads its influence, India’s future appears increasingly promising, as seen through the eyes of its vast and dynamic youth population.

Mission Accomplished, India Puts Moon Rover To ‘Sleep’

India has officially concluded its lunar mission with the Pragyan rover, the pioneering craft that successfully reached the elusive lunar south pole. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) confirmed the rover’s transition into “Sleep mode” following its fruitful two-week assignment, equipped with charged batteries and an active receiver. ISRO expressed hope for a future reawakening for new tasks but also acknowledged the possibility of the rover remaining a perpetual lunar representative for India.

In a statement, ISRO stated, “Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments! Else, it will forever stay there as India’s lunar ambassador.” This decision marks the end of a remarkable lunar endeavor that placed India alongside prestigious spacefaring nations like the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union. Furthermore, India achieved a significant milestone by venturing beyond these nations to reach the challenging lunar south pole, following the unfortunate crash of Russia’s Luna-25 during a similar attempt.

Chandrayaan-3, India’s lunar mission, achieved a remarkable and precise touchdown, a stark contrast to the earlier failed attempt in 2019. This achievement sparked jubilation across the nation, with the media lauding it as India’s most outstanding scientific accomplishment to date.

Picture: Reuters

Pragyan, the rover, played a pivotal role in this mission by embarking on a journey of over 100 meters (330 feet) across the lunar surface. During its travels, it confirmed the presence of essential elements such as sulphur, iron, and oxygen on the moon, providing valuable insights into lunar composition and geology.

With the lunar mission’s success, India has set its sights on the sun, launching a probe on Saturday designed to study solar phenomena, particularly solar winds that can disrupt Earth’s magnetosphere and lead to the captivating auroras. ISRO has reported that the satellite is currently in good health and orbiting Earth as it prepares for its ambitious 1.5 million-kilometer (930,000-mile) journey towards the sun.

India’s lunar mission, encompassing the Pragyan rover and the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, has concluded after a productive two-week assignment. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced that the Pragyan rover has entered “Sleep mode,” equipped with charged batteries and an active receiver, marking the end of its lunar exploration phase. ISRO expressed optimism for the rover’s potential reactivation for future missions but also acknowledged the possibility of it remaining a permanent lunar envoy for India.

ISRO conveyed this development in a statement, stating, “Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments! Else, it will forever stay there as India’s lunar ambassador.” This decision signifies the culmination of a remarkable lunar endeavor that propelled India into the ranks of esteemed spacefaring nations, including the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union. Notably, India went beyond these achievements by successfully reaching the challenging lunar south pole, an accomplishment that followed the unfortunate crash of Russia’s Luna-25 during a similar attempt.

Chandrayaan-3, India’s lunar mission, achieved a precise and flawless landing, a stark contrast to its previous failed attempt in 2019. This achievement sparked jubilation throughout the nation, with the media heralding it as India’s most significant scientific achievement to date.

Crucially, the Pragyan rover played a pivotal role in the mission’s success, embarking on an extensive journey covering over 100 meters (330 feet) across the lunar terrain. During its travels, Pragyan confirmed the presence of key elements such as sulphur, iron, and oxygen on the moon. These findings have provided invaluable insights into lunar composition and geology, enhancing our understanding of Earth’s celestial neighbor.

Having achieved success on the lunar front, India is now setting its sights on the sun, launching a probe designed to study solar phenomena, particularly solar winds that can disrupt Earth’s magnetosphere and give rise to the captivating auroras. ISRO has reported that the satellite is currently in a healthy state and is orbiting Earth as it prepares for its ambitious 1.5 million-kilometer (930,000-mile) journey towards the sun.

In summary, India’s lunar mission, highlighted by the Pragyan rover and the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft, has officially concluded its lunar exploration phase after accomplishing a series of experiments over a two-week period. ISRO’s decision to transition the rover into “Sleep mode” marks the end of this remarkable lunar journey, while also holding the possibility of future reactivation for new missions. This achievement elevates India to the ranks of prestigious spacefaring nations, with the unique distinction of reaching the challenging lunar south pole. Moreover, the flawless landing of Chandrayaan-3 in contrast to the previous attempt in 2019 garnered widespread acclaim, establishing it as a landmark in India’s scientific endeavors.

The Pragyan rover’s extensive exploration of over 100 meters on the lunar surface confirmed the presence of essential elements, such as sulphur, iron, and oxygen, further enriching our knowledge of the moon’s composition and geology. Looking ahead, India’s space endeavors continue with a mission focused on the sun, aimed at studying solar winds and their impact on Earth, particularly the creation of auroras. ISRO has reported that the sun-studying satellite is in excellent condition and is poised to embark on its ambitious 1.5 million-kilometer journey toward the sun.

Vinay Mahajan To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Vinay Mahajan. the current national President of ITServe Alliance Inc, an association of 2100 + SME US IT companies. has been chosen to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award by The Indo-American Press Club during the 9th annual International Media Conference in Stamford, CT on October 8th, 2023.

Under his able leadership, ITServe has grown and strengthened in its mission in protecting members interest, enhancing membership benefits, empowering local employment, empowering local community through various CSR programs including STEM education, and empowering ecosystem of innovation and thus maintaining the leadership of US in Technology.

Travelling to all the 21 Chapters across the United States in 8 months after he assumed office, Mahajan was instrumental in achieving membership to newer heights with more than 700+ New members added in 2023. Two new Chapters were launched under his leadership. In his words, “IT Serve Alliance is led by highly talented individuals, phenomenally successful entrepreneurs, and Innovators who are enthusiastic about giving back to the community.” He strengthened STEM Education program by adding STEM Training and Internship programs and enhancing STEM scholarships program.

Vinay Mahajan is the President & CEO of NAM Info Inc, a software services firm dealing in software consulting and ongoing software development projects, As the head of this multi-national company, Mahajan led the development team for approval of two patents for SAFE, a fire safety APP for high rise buildings. Current projects under development are AI application APAR and browser based universal communication. He recently acquired a company in Telecom Services space.

An Engineering Graduate and MBA from premier institutes, Mahajan is a serial entrepreneur with over 40 years of industry experience in leadership, marketing, finance, and engineering, creating and building multiple entities. Entrepreneurial expertise through 100+ Communication/IVR/Call Centers software projects across India, and Healthcare Practice Management Software in the United States.

ITServe Alliance’s CSR Program Contributes Over $1.5 Million Towards STEM Education, Empowering Future Generations

“The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of the ITServe Alliance has contributed $1.5 Million in STEM activities and various welfare programs,” said Samba Movva, Director of ITServe Alliance’s CSR. “From the very beginning, ITServe’s mission has been to empower local communities through a wide range of initiatives. ITServe believes in the transformative power of STEM scholarships, STEM training, and STEM internships, which enable individuals to reach their full potential and contribute to a thriving society,” he added.

Elaborating on the unique importance of such a noble and much-needed initiative by ITServe, Vinay Mahajan, President of ITServe Alliance said, “STEM education is something where I feel there is a lot of scope in the United States, especially for the availability of IT jobs and IT skills. There is a shortage across the United States, and local talent is not available. Our efforts have been to get the shortage filled right now, without which we will be lagging behind in terms of technology and software development. Therefore, we are focusing on building the local population and promoting STEM education in the US.”

The organization of multi-talented individuals has set targets of awarding 100 STEM scholarships, providing life-changing opportunities to deserving individuals, empowering and helping educate a diverse group of individuals from across the nation.

In order to achieve these lofty goals, ITServe has assembled an exceptional team of committed and talented national leaders to make its mission accomplished. The STEM Team is chaired by distinguished Chairs for each area. They are: Tanuj Gundlapalli, STEM Scholarship Chair 2023;  Jyoti Vazirani, STEM Internship Chair 2023; and Venkata Manthena, STEM Training Chair 2023.

Tanuj Gundlapalli, STEM Scholarship Chair 2023 says, “ITServe offers as many as 100 scholarships to the needy students in the communities they live and serve. Each student chosen for the scholarship is given $5,000 towards one’s educational needs. Through the partnership with our local Chapters, focusing on community colleges, ITServe has given away nearly 80 scholarships this year.”

ITServe has cultivated strong partnerships with over 50 prestigious universities and community colleges, forming a robust network to help achieve STEM goals. At the local level, each of the 21 ITServe Chapters is actively engaged with community non-profit organizations, forming vital partnerships to drive ITSeve’s mission and objectives forward.

Some notable institutions that are part of the collaborative network include Arizona State University, Bronx Community College Foundation, Bucks County Community College, Georgia State University, Illinois State University, Oklahoma State University, University of North Carolina, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Virginia, and St. Charles Community College, among others.

Picture: TheUNN

CSR has a broad range of initiatives aimed at creating a positive impact in various areas. CSR team works to establish partnerships with educational institutions, organizations, and industry experts to provide training opportunities that enhance STEM skills and knowledge. This equips individuals with the tools they need to excel in STEM careers and contributes to building a robust talent pipeline.

Since ITServe’s inception in 2010, the CSR team has embarked on a remarkable journey in the realm of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Starting with small steps, it has made a significant impact on the local communities.

According to Vinod Babu Uppu, Governing Board Chair, “The ITServe CSR vision is empowering local communities through Education and Training, creating local employment, and contributing to the economy as a whole. We actively engage in initiatives that support education, healthcare, and community development, among other areas.”

ITServe encourages and facilitates member engagement in volunteer activities, enabling them to contribute their skills, expertise, time, and resources, ensuring that they collectively make a significant and lasting impact. “By leveraging our collective efforts, we make a meaningful impact on local communities and societal well-being with the objective of making a positive and lasting difference in the areas that matter most to us,” Movva said.

Jagadeesh Mosali, President-Elect of ITServe said, “We are committed to empowering local communities through STEM advocacy, educating the underprivileged, and thus making an impact on humanity. By advocating for these educational opportunities, we aim to bridge the gap and provide equal access to quality education,” Mosali pointed out.

Over the years, ITServe Alliance has established a name for itself as the center point of information for its members and the larger community, covering a variety of areas ranging from immigration, technology, economy, and many more that are relevant to its members. ITServe has 21 Chapters in several states across the United States, bringing resources and service to the larger humanity in every part of this innovation country.

“Our ability to empower our local communities is strengthened by the generous donations by our leadership and member organizations. They play a crucial role in the success of our programs. Our partners play a vital role in helping us broaden our reach and positively impacting the lives of the lesser fortunate in our communities by helping us broaden our reach. I am proud that this respected platform is today more accessible and worthy of your time spent for the common benefit and serving the communities in need across the Chapters through our CSR programs and initiatives,” Mahajan added.

Ongoing participation and commitment are essential to reach ITServe’s lofty goals. The ITSere CSR Team  “implores and passionately calls upon our esteemed ITSerrve members and individuals alike to wholeheartedly engage and actively participate in the diverse range of ITServe’s CSR activities.”

“Together, we form an extraordinary team, united in our mission to achieve our CSR goals for 2023 and beyond. I feel incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such exceptional individuals, all working diligently to create a positive impact and shape a better future for those we serve,” Movva said. “Together, we are making a tangible difference in the lives of those in need. Our approach not only amplifies our impact but also fosters a strong sense of community within ITSERVE. We are proud to be part of a larger movement that extends beyond individual chapters, uniting us under a shared vision of corporate social responsibility.”

Founded in 2010, ITServe Alliance is the largest association of Information Technology Services Organizations functioning across the United States. Established with the objective of being the collective voice of all Information Technology companies with similar interests in the United States, ITServe Alliance has evolved as a resourceful and respected platform to collaborate and initiate measures in the direction of protecting common interests and ensuring collective success. For more information, please visit:

China’s Real Estate Crisis

In the wake of Evergrande’s Chapter 15 bankruptcy filing in New York City, another major player in China’s real estate sector, Country Garden, is now facing a similar fate. Renowned as China’s leading real estate developer based on sales, Country Garden’s financial struggles are spotlighting the country’s escalating debt crisis. Experts predict that without intervention, the company may default on its bond payments, exacerbating the ongoing turmoil in China’s real estate market.

According to a report by Caixin Global, a prominent Chinese business news agency, Country Garden is on the brink of defaulting on its bond payments scheduled for next month. This dire situation necessitates either the support of a rescuing entity or an extension of the grace period. The company is grappling with three bonds, collectively valued at 7.3 billion renminbi (approximately $1 billion), set to mature or with put options commencing in September. The urgency of the matter is highlighted by a payment due imminently, coinciding with the end of the grace period for a missed payment in early August.

Picture: Wall Street Survivor

Major global asset managers, including BlackRock, Allianz, Fidelity, and Ashmore Group, have invested substantial sums in Country Garden bonds. These investments underscore the interconnectivity of global financial markets and the potential ripple effects of the company’s struggles. BlackRock alone holds around $358.5 million worth of Country Garden bonds, while Allianz’s holdings amounted to $301 million as of June. The involvement of these financial giants raises concerns about potential financial losses and repercussions.

Country Garden’s stock is a component of the iShares MSCI Core Emerging Markets exchange-traded fund (EMG), further interlinking its fortunes with broader market dynamics. The company’s chairwoman, Yang Huiyan, was previously recognized as China’s wealthiest woman, with her family’s net worth estimated at $4.4 billion.

The predicament Country Garden finds itself in is reminiscent of its failure to fulfill a $22.5 million interest payment on dollar-denominated bonds on August 7. Despite these struggles, Beijing’s reluctance to provide financial support is evident, as reported by Reuters. However, the trajectory of these events remains uncertain, as the Chinese government may be compelled to intervene if more real estate firms face distress, impacting China’s economic stability.

Alicia Garcia-Herrero, Chief Economist for Natixis, highlighted the unexpected nature of Country Garden’s predicament, given its comparatively lower leverage compared to Evergrande. She stressed that sustainable growth in the real estate sector hinges on continual increases in housing prices, cautioning that even a robust company like Country Garden could falter without such growth.

Pushan Dutt, an economics professor at INSEAD business school, suggested that a Chinese government bailout for Country Garden is probable, considering the company’s significance within the nation’s real estate sector. The sector constitutes about 30% of China’s gross domestic product (GDP), making its stability crucial for the country’s overall economic health. However, the potential for such bailouts presents a challenge for President Xi Jinping, who remains wary of excessively pumping money into the economy.

China’s deliberate efforts to attract Western bond funds and open its market to foreign investors have contributed to the intertwining of global financial interests. Western asset managers have been active purchasers of Chinese government and private bonds, offering investment-grade alternatives to their lower-yielding Western counterparts. Yet, the risks associated with investing in China’s real estate market were acknowledged for years, with concerns raised about a potential “China hard landing.”

Amid the uncertainty, the role of the US government and the potential support for investors remains questionable. China’s increasing economic risks have prompted Congress to scrutinize China investments, with discussions on capital restrictions taking center stage. While investors seek possible stimulus and rate cuts, the Chinese government’s actions will depend on its assessment of the nation’s economic resilience and the extent of potential economic distress.

As both Evergrande and Country Garden face tumultuous times, the outcomes of these crises will likely have far-reaching implications. Despite the tumult, some experts remain optimistic about China’s ability to recover, anticipating an increase in consumer confidence as debt-related issues are resolved.

Ektaa R Kapoor To Be Honored With 2023 International Emmy Directorate Award

Indian film producer and director, Ektaa R Kapoor, is set to receive the prestigious 2023 International Emmy Directorate award in recognition of her remarkable career and profound impact on the Indian television landscape. This esteemed accolade will be presented by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (IATAS) at the upcoming 51st International Emmy® Awards Gala, scheduled to take place on November 20th in the vibrant city of New York. Bruce L Paisner, the President and Chief Executive Officer of IATAS, made this announcement, underlining the significance of this honor.

In response to this remarkable recognition, the 48-year-old television producer expressed her heartfelt emotions, stating, “It fills me with a profound sense of humility and excitement. This award holds a special place in my heart, as it signifies a journey that goes beyond mere work—it’s a pivotal aspect of my personal and professional life.” Kapoor went on to emphasize the unique importance of this achievement, adding, “Representing my country on the global stage through this esteemed platform is an incredible honor. Television has been instrumental in helping me discover my identity, particularly as a woman working to make stories for women. This award allows me to represent them and our shared accomplishments on an international level.”

Picture: Koimoi

Ektaa R Kapoor, renowned as the co-founder of the television production powerhouse Balaji Telefilms, has been a prominent figure in the Indian television industry for nearly three decades. Her journey commenced in 1994 when she established Balaji Telefilms alongside her illustrious parents—Indian movie star and producer Jeetendra Kapoor and accomplished media executive Shobha Kapoor. Under the Balaji banner, Kapoor has achieved remarkable milestones, having created and produced an astonishing portfolio of over 17,000 hours of television content and 45 films. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in launching one of India’s earliest Indian Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms, Alt Balaji.

Recognizing her remarkable contributions to the world of entertainment, IATAS President Paisner remarked, “Ektaa R. Kapoor has built Balaji into one of India’s foremost entertainment players with market leadership in the television content industry reaching mass audiences across India and South Asia with their long-running series and OTT platform.”

Ektaa Kapoor’s influence extends beyond her professional accomplishments. She has earned a well-deserved spot among Fortune India’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Asia.” Furthermore, she stands as the sole female representative from the Indian television domain in Variety500—an exclusive index that recognizes the 500 most influential business leaders shaping the global media industry. These accolades underscore her exceptional prowess and enduring impact on the entertainment world.

In essence, Ektaa R Kapoor’s journey through the Indian television and film industry is nothing short of remarkable. Her visionary approach, coupled with her commitment to crafting narratives that resonate with women, has left an indelible mark on the entertainment landscape. As she prepares to accept the 2023 International Emmy Directorate award, the world will celebrate not just her professional triumphs but also the profound cultural and societal influence she has wielded through her work.

This recognition serves as a testament to the power of storytelling in television and its ability to shape identities, transcend boundaries, and inspire generations. Ektaa Kapoor’s journey, from the inception of Balaji Telefilms to the pinnacle of global recognition, embodies the spirit of creativity and innovation in the world of entertainment.

As the 51st International Emmy® Awards Gala approaches, the anticipation builds for the moment when Ektaa R Kapoor will stand on the stage in New York City, holding the International Emmy Directorate award, representing not only her own achievements but also the countless stories and dreams she has brought to life through the medium of television. It is a celebration of a visionary who has not only impacted the Indian television landscape but has also created a lasting legacy that resonates with audiences far beyond its borders.

Ektaa R Kapoor’s journey is an extraordinary one that showcases the transformative power of television in shaping cultures, narratives, and identities. This prestigious recognition by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences underscores her enduring influence and the indomitable spirit with which she has forged a path in the entertainment industry. Kapoor’s dedication to creating meaningful content for women and her ability to connect with audiences on a profound level make her a true luminary in the world of television and film. Her acceptance of the 2023 International Emmy Directorate award is not just a personal achievement but a testament to the global reach and impact of Indian television and storytelling. This recognition is a celebration of a visionary who has left an indelible mark on the industry and continues to inspire future generations of storytellers.

UN Experts Share Concerns About Continuing Abuses In Manipur

UN experts have raised the alarm about reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in the Northeast State of Manipur in India, including alleged acts of sexual violence, extrajudicial killings, home destruction, forced displacement, torture and ill-treatment.

The experts pointed to an “inadequate humanitarian response” in the wake of the grave humanitarian situation in Manipur following the latest round of community conflict between the predominantly Hindu Meitei and the predominantly Christian Kuki ethnic communities that erupted in May 2023.

By mid-August 2023, an estimated 160 persons had reportedly been killed, mostly from the Kuki ethnic community, and over 300 injured. The conflict also reportedly resulted in tens of thousands of people from the communities being displaced, thousands of homes and hundreds of churches being burnt down, as well the destruction of farmland, loss of crops and loss of livelihood.

“We are appalled by the reports and images of gender-based violence targeting  hundreds of women and girls of all ages, and predominantly of the Kuki ethnic minority. The alleged violence includes gang rape, parading women naked in the street, severe beatings causing death, and burning them alive or dead,” the experts said.

Picture: Frontier Post

“It is particularly concerning that the violence seems to have been preceded and incited by hateful and inflammatory speech that spread online and offline to justify the atrocities committed against the Kuki ethnic minority, particularly women, on account of their ethnicity and religious belief,” they said. “We are further alarmed by the reported misuse of counterrorism measures to legitimise acts of violence and repression against ethnic and religious minorities.”

The experts said recent events in Manipur were another tragic milestone in the steadily deteriorating situation for religious and ethnic minorities in India.

“We have serious concerns about the apparent slow and inadequate response by the Government of India, including law enforcement, to stem physical and sexual violence and hate speech in Manipur,” the experts said.

The experts welcomed the fact-finding mission conducted by lawyers and human rights defenders in Manipur and the follow-up by the Supreme Court of India on the situation in Manipur, though the response could have come in a timelier manner. They urged the Supreme Court to continue monitoring the response of the Government and other actors, with a focus on justice, accountability, and reparations. “We are also concerned about reported criminalization and harassment of human rights defenders documenting the cases,” they said.

They urged the Government to step up relief efforts to those affected and to take robust and timely action to investigate acts of violence and hold perpetrators to account, including public officials who may have aided and abetted the incitement of racial and religious hatred and violence.

Young Professionals Get A Crash Course In Keeping The Faith

“Temples are constructed with the youth in mind,” stated Uma Mysorekar, president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America (HTSNA), addressing a gathering of young Hindus at New York’s expansive Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam temple, which spans an entire block in Queens borough.

A diverse assembly of college students and young professionals had congregated for Akshayam, an initiative supported by HTSNA aimed at keeping the teachings of the Hindu faith alive among the upcoming generation of Hindu leaders in the United States. Beyond this, through community engagement and educational collaborations, the organizers of Akshayam seek to regain control over a religion that is being tugged in multiple directions by India’s nationalist politics on one side and Western influence on the other.

Seated in the Parvati Hall of the temple, named in honor of Hinduism’s quintessential mother goddess, attendees immersed themselves in discussions revolving around the Ramayana, an epic narrative chronicling the incarnations of God and their interactions with humanity.

Vishwa Adluri, a philosophy professor at Hunter College in New York and one of the panelists for the day, emphasized, “To be Hindu is to read.” He noted that children of other faiths have long had access to Sunday school classes, Bible studies, and other avenues for engaging in profound theological conversations from a young age. According to him, it’s now time for young Hindus to integrate the study of their faith into their identities.

The young audience exhibited enthusiasm and curiosity as religious scholars expounded on the significance of the unwavering relationships between Ram, Lakshman, and Sita—the Lord, his brother, and his wife. They delved into Ram’s epic quest to rescue Sita from the clutches of Ravana, a half-man, half-demon figure, raising questions about passages that have often posed challenges. One pressing query was why Lord Rama banished his pregnant wife Sita to the forest, ultimately leading to her abduction by Ravana and her subsequent rescue.

Picture: RNS

The responses provided frequently linked these ancient texts to contemporary moral dilemmas. Adluri drew a parallel to Ram’s kingdom, where villagers began to malign Sita’s chastity, which prompted her banishment. This decision was made to safeguard his own honor and the dignity of his kingdom. Adluri highlighted how this same impulse can be observed in today’s social media landscape, where gossip and slander about individuals can spread rapidly, often leading to the acceptance of misinformation.

Adluri aptly pointed out that this is how ordinary people can metamorphose into “asuras,” or demons, in the modern context.

In her address, Uma Mysorekar emphasized the importance of temples in the lives of young Hindus. She stated, “Temples are built for young people.” Her words resonated within the expansive Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam temple in Queens, New York, where a diverse group of young Hindus had gathered.

This assembly of college students and young professionals had convened for Akshayam, an initiative sponsored by the Hindu Temple Society of North America (HTSNA). Akshayam aimed not only to keep the teachings of the Hindu faith alive but also to nurture the next generation of Hindu leaders in the United States. Recognizing the challenges posed by India’s nationalist politics and the influence of the Western world, the organizers of Akshayam sought to provide a firm foundation for the faith through community engagement and educational endeavors.

Seated within the Parvati Hall of the temple, named after the archetypal mother goddess in Hinduism, attendees immersed themselves in discussions centered around the Ramayana. This epic narrative recounts the incarnations of God and their interactions with humanity.

Vishwa Adluri, a philosophy professor at Hunter College in New York and one of the panelists for the day, emphasized the importance of reading in Hinduism. He noted that children of other faiths have long had access to structured religious education, such as Sunday school classes and Bible studies, allowing them to engage in deep theological discussions from a young age. Adluri asserted that it was now time for young Hindus to similarly incorporate the study of their faith into their identities.

The young audience displayed a keen interest in the discussions. As religious scholars expounded on the significance of the relationships between Ram, Lakshman, and Sita—representing the Lord, his brother, and his wife—questions arose about passages in the Ramayana that had long raised eyebrows. One such question pertained to Lord Rama’s decision to banish his pregnant wife Sita to the forest, ultimately leading to her abduction by Ravana and her subsequent rescue.

The answers provided by the panel often drew connections between these ancient texts and contemporary moral dilemmas. Adluri explained that in Ram’s kingdom, villagers had begun to question Sita’s chastity, leading to her banishment—a decision made to preserve both Ram’s honor and the dignity of his kingdom. Adluri astutely pointed out how this impulse manifests in today’s digital age, where gossip and slander about individuals can quickly proliferate, often resulting in the acceptance of false information.

Adluri aptly noted that this phenomenon is akin to how ordinary people can transform into “asuras,” or demons, in the context of modern society.

In conclusion, Uma Mysorekar’s assertion that “Temples are built for young people” resonated deeply within the grand Sri Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam temple in Queens, New York, where a diverse assembly of young Hindus had gathered.

These college students and young professionals had converged for Akshayam, an initiative sponsored by the Hindu Temple Society of North America (HTSNA) with the dual purpose of preserving the teachings of the Hindu faith and nurturing the future leaders of Hinduism in the United States. Acknowledging the complex challenges posed by India’s nationalist politics and the pervasive influence of Western culture, the organizers of Akshayam were committed to fortifying the faith through community engagement and educational collaborations.

Seated within the Parvati Hall of the temple, an homage to the quintessential mother goddess of Hinduism, attendees engaged in profound discussions centered around the Ramayana. This timeless epic recounted the divine incarnations and their interactions with humanity.

Vishwa Adluri, a philosophy professor at Hunter College in New York and one of the day’s panelists, underscored the significance of reading in the practice of Hinduism. He observed that children of other faiths had long benefited from structured religious education, including Sunday school classes and Bible studies, which facilitated their engagement in deep theological discussions from a young age. Adluri asserted that it was now imperative for young Hindus to integrate the study of their faith into their identities.

The young audience exhibited a palpable eagerness for these discussions. As religious scholars expounded on the profound relationships between Ram, Lakshman, and Sita—representing the Lord, his brother, and his wife—questions arose about passages in the Ramayana that had long posed ethical quandaries. One such question revolved around Lord Rama’s decision to exile his pregnant wife Sita to the forest, ultimately leading to her abduction by Ravana and her eventual rescue.

The panel’s responses often drew parallels between these ancient texts and contemporary moral dilemmas. Adluri elucidated that in Ram’s kingdom, villagers had begun to question Sita’s chastity, leading to her banishment—a decision driven by the necessity.

University of Houston Initiates Tamil Studies Program in Partnership with ICCR

Tamil Studies classes have commenced at the University of Houston, marking a significant step forward in the institution’s collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). This academic endeavor stems from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) inked between ICCR and the University of Houston (UoH) in June 2023. These inaugural classes are under the tutelage of Dr. Vijayalakshmi, a distinguished visiting professor of Indian Studies.

The inauguration of this educational endeavor was attended by Manjunath Chenneerapa, the Consul General of India in Houston, UoH’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences dean, the director of Indian Studies, and representatives from both UoH and the Houston Tamil Studies Chair. This partnership, rooted in the MoU, has laid the foundation for the ICCR chair of Indian Studies, which will be held by a visiting scholar from India, specializing in Tamil studies, commencing in the fall of 2023.

Picture: TheUNN

The visiting professor assumes a multifaceted role, encompassing the education of students, collaboration on research initiatives, and the delivery of public presentations aimed at promoting Tamil culture. With a global community of over 80 million speakers, the Tamil language boasts an ancient heritage, positioning it among the world’s oldest languages. Remarkably, the United States is home to nearly 300,000 Tamil-Americans.

UoH President Renu Khator, who holds the distinction of being the first Indian immigrant to lead a comprehensive research university in the United States, expressed gratitude for the collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. She noted that this partnership would undoubtedly fortify the cultural bonds between the two nations. She emphasized that expanding the university’s international presence enriches the educational journey of their students, equipping them for success on the global stage.

The University of Houston has become one of only three American universities to participate in ICCR’s global Indian chairs Abroad program, alongside Rutgers University and the University of Pittsburgh. Dan O’Connor, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, underscored the pivotal role played by the visiting professor in bridging diverse cultures. O’Connor stated, “India is not only a modern, global hub of business and culture; it’s an ancient hub as well, replete with a history, literature, and architectural heritage spanning millennia. It’s imperative to safeguard this legacy through collaborative partnerships like this, for the benefit of tomorrow’s global leaders, some of whom are currently being nurtured right here at UH.”

The roots of this academic collaboration trace back to 2019 when the non-profit organization Houston Tamil Studies Chair, Inc. pledged a substantial $2 million donation to the University of Houston. This generous contribution led to the establishment of an endowed chair in Tamil studies. Additionally, the Mutyala family contributed $250,000, endowing the Sita and Bhaskara Rao Mutyala Professorship of India Studies, a position currently held by Sarasij Majumder.

Chinese Exporters Use Currency Swaps To Hedge Against Falling Yuan

Chinese exporters have adopted a sophisticated currency swap strategy to avoid converting their dollar earnings into yuan due to concerns about potential losses in the weakening local currency, as revealed by official data and discussions with industry insiders.

China’s state-owned banks are involved in some of these swap transactions, allowing exporters to convert their dollar earnings into yuan through contractual agreements, indicating a level of comfort from the country’s currency regulator. This practice persists even as authorities attempt to alleviate the mounting pressure on the yuan in the spot markets.

Ding, a Shanghai-based businessman dealing in electronics and toys, is among those exporters who are holding onto their dollar earnings, hesitating to convert them into yuan. The recent depreciation of the yuan, which has hit nine-month lows, has raised concerns among exporters like Ding. He expressed this apprehension, saying, “The key concern is that the price of the dollar keeps going up.”

The yuan has experienced a depreciation of over 5% against the U.S. dollar so far this year, with a 2% drop recorded in just the past month. This decline is exacerbated by foreign capital fleeing from China’s weakening economy.

Picture: South China Morning Post

These swaps enable exporters to deposit their dollars with banks and receive yuan in return, but with a contractual agreement that will eventually reverse the transaction, returning their dollars. However, despite the impact of these swaps on the supply of dollars in the spot yuan markets, analysts believe that Chinese monetary authorities cannot compel exporters to convert their dollars.

In July alone, Chinese companies engaged in a record $31.5 billion worth of dollar-yuan swaps with commercial banks in the onshore forwards market. This year, the total figure stands at $157 billion, according to data from China’s currency regulator.

Initially, Ding had plans to convert his dollar holdings when the yuan weakened beyond 7 yuan per dollar, a threshold the local currency had breached only three times since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. However, his decision shifted as expectations grew regarding the Federal Reserve’s intent to maintain higher U.S. interest rates for an extended period and the continued weakness of the yuan, which is seeing its yields decline as China adopts a more lenient monetary policy to support its struggling economy.

“The growing monetary policy divergence is the key reason behind the trend,” explained Gary Ng, Senior Economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis. “As it is unlikely to see any fundamental change in the short run, the gravity of yield differentials will drag the yuan and prompt exporters to bet on the dollar.”

The increasing gap between rising U.S. yields and Chinese rates has reversed rates in the currency forwards market. This means that exporters have no incentive to lock in a forward rate to sell their dollars, with the one-year yuan being quoted at 7.02 per dollar, compared to a spot rate of 7.29.

Traders have noted that the State Administration of Foreign Exchange allows sell-buy dollar-yuan swaps as long as companies use their own funds. When exporters swap higher-yielding dollars for the cheaper yuan, even for a short period of three months, they acquire the local currency for business needs and also earn an annualized 3.5% on the swap deal.

Becky Liu, Head of China Macro Strategy at Standard Chartered Bank, elaborated, “By trading FX swaps, exporters can postpone their settlements while meeting their yuan demand.”

An alternative option, albeit less lucrative, is for exporters to deposit their dollars at 2.8% interest and use these deposits as collateral for yuan loans, resulting in net gains of approximately 2%.

Despite Chinese lenders reducing their dollar deposit rates twice this year to discourage hoarding and encourage exporters to convert dollars into yuan, more exporters are turning to swaps. Even China Merchants Bank, which is partially state-owned, promotes the use of swaps. The bank stated, “If companies want to retain their dollar deposits, they can sign up for foreign exchange swap products to increase the returns on dollar deposits.”

Meanwhile, China’s central bank has intensified its efforts to support the yuan by consistently setting stronger-than-expected yuan mid-point benchmarks over several months. It has also urged domestic banks to reduce their overseas investments.

In contrast, exporters’ swaps provide state banks with a reservoir of dollars to utilize in their yuan operations. This includes engaging in swaps to acquire dollars from the onshore forwards market and selling them in the spot market to curb rapid declines in the yuan’s value.

India Mulls Simultaneous Polls To Parliament And State Assemblies

After fulfilling key promises such as the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and abrogation of Article 370, the ruling BJP is now focussed on the party’s agenda of simultaneous polls in the country.

The Modi government has constituted a committee headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind to explore the possibility of ‘one nation, one election’.

 Since coming to power in 2014, the Modi government has been a strong votary of simultaneous polls, citing financial burden caused by an almost continuous election cycle and jolt to development work during the polling period.

The Kovind-led panel will explore the feasibility of the exercise and the mechanism to see as to how the country can go back to having simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls, as was the case till 1967.

 India had simultaneous polls before — national and all assembly polls were held together in 1951-52, 1957, 1962 and 1967.

 The latest move comes a day after the government called a special session of Parliament between September 18 and 22, the agenda for which is under wraps.

Picture: Bussiness Standard

Although there is speculation that the government could table the ‘one nation, one election’ bill in the upcoming session, it may not be the case given it will involve a long process of public consultations and feedback from various quarters.

 The primary challenge would be to sync the terms of various state assemblies with that of the Lok Sabha.

A 1999 Law Commission report had argued in support of simultaneous elections, but another draft report by the Commission in 2018 said that “simultaneous elections could not be held within the existing framework of the Constitution.”

It would require multiple constitutional amendments, especially Article 83 and Article 172, which stipulate a five-year term for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, respectively, from the date of the first sitting.

With the BJP’s performance in state polls often inferior to its show in Lok Sabha elections, party leaders are of the view that simultaneous polls will result in national issues taking centre-stage and the ‘Modi factor’ playing a bigger role, stripping regional leaders of some of their sway.

India Sends Mission To Study The Sun

India’s first solar observation mission, Aditya-L1, is set to be launched by PSLV-C57 rocket from the spaceport on Sriharikota, an island off the southern state of Andhra Pradesh last week.

The development comes days after India became the first country to land a spacecraft close to the lunar south pole on August 23.

The sun is our nearest star and, therefore, can be studied in much more details compared to other stars.

Aditya-L1’s seven payloads are expected to provide crucial information to understand coronal heating, coronal mass ejection, pre-flare and flare activities and dynamics of space weather among other things.

The primary payload of Aditya-L1 will be sending 1,440 images per day to the ground station for analysis on reaching the intended orbit.


The spacecraft is scheduled to spend 125 days, travelling 1.5 million km to its destination. The solar mission will make India one of a small group of countries with probes studying the sun.

China has two such spacecraft orbiting Earth. Hinode, backed by space agencies from Japan, the UK, the US and Europe, is orbiting Earth and measures the magnetic fields of the sun.

Then there is the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory mission (SOHO), a joint project of NASA and the European Space Agency. The US has other solar missions, including the Parker Solar Probe, which in 2021 became the first spacecraft to pass through the sun’s corona, or upper atmosphere.

Hindenburg 2.0 Accuses Adani Group Of Manipulating Finances

At a time when the Supreme Court is hearing the Adani Group-Hindenburg case, the business conglomerate was on Thursday hit by fresh allegations that it used family associates to secretly invest hundreds of millions of dollars through “opaque” Mauritius-based investment funds to fuel the spectacular rise in group stocks.

 Citing a review of files from tax havens and internal Adani Group emails, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said two individual investors with “longtime business ties” to the Adani family used such offshore structures to buy and sell Adani shares between 2013 and 2018 — a period during which the ports-to-energy conglomerate saw meteoric rise to become India’s largest and most powerful businesses.

OCCRP is a non-profit global network of investigative journalists funded by Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros.

Picture : Eligibility

 OCCRP said Nasser Ali Shaban Ahli from the UAE and Chang Chung-Ling from Taiwan spent years trading Adani group stock worth hundreds of millions of dollars through two Mauritius-based funds that were overseen by a Dubai-based company run by a known employee of Vinod Adani.

 Market regulator SEBI had been handed evidence in early 2014 of alleged suspicious stock market activity by the Adani Group, OCCRP said citing a letter.

U K Sinha, who was then heading SEBI, is now a director and chairperson of an Adani-owned news channel.

The fresh broadside, which comes months after US short-selling firm Hindenburg Research published an explosive report in January that accused Adani Group of running the “largest con in corporate history”, sent all 10 listed Adani stocks down.

 Shares of nine out of 10 Adani group companies closed in the red on Thursday, taking a combined hit of Rs 35,708 crore in market valuation after the OCCRP report. More here

 On the OCCRP allegations, the Group on Thursday termed them as “recycled allegations” and called them “yet another concerted bid by (George) Soros-funded interests supported by a section of the foreign media to revive the meritless Hindenburg report”.

 Opposition parties, which stalled proceedings in Parliament for nearly one full session when the Hindenburg allegations first came out, were quick to latch on to the OCCRP to attack the government and Adani Group.

Maintaining that India’s reputation is at stake ahead of the G20 Summit, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asked why PM Modi was silent on the allegations and demanded a probe by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC).

Canada PM Justin Trudeau To Visit India For G20 Summit

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit India to attend the G20 Summit in New Delhi from September 9 to 10, where he will join fellow world leaders to engage in discussions on global economic and political matters.. Prior to his visit to New Delhi, Trudeau will travel to Indonesia to participate in the ASEAN Summit and thereafter head to Singapore for a bilateral visit.

“The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that he will travel to Jakarta, Indonesia to participate in the ASEAN Summit from September 5 to 6, 2023. This will be followed by a bilateral visit to Singapore from September 7 to 8, 2023. He will then participate in the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, from September 9 to 10, 2023,” Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

The G20 Summit comprises 19 countries, collectively representing 85% of the world’s GDP, two-thirds of its population, and 75% of global trade. This summit serves as a vital platform for prominent world leaders to come together with a shared aim of fostering global economic cooperation. Operating under the theme ‘One Earth – One Family – One Future,’ the summit seeks to address global challenges and work toward a better tomorrow for people worldwide. During his visit, Prime Minister Trudeau aims to bolster bilateral relations between Canada and India.

At the G20 Summit in New Delhi, Trudeau will work with international partners to tackle global crises to build a better tomorrow for people around the world. He will promote the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in his role as co-chair of the SDG Advocates group.

Canada Prime Minister’s Office in the statement said, “Canada is, and will always be, a champion of the rules-based international order, and the global trade and economic progress that depend on those rules. Russia’s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine is an attack on the rules that all countries rely on to do business, trade, grow, and improve life for their citizens.”

It further said, “That’s why, at the G20, Prime Minister Trudeau will continue to advocate for collective action to hold Putin accountable for his illegal war and to secure a just and durable peace that starts with Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine. Working collaboratively to tackle global crises while holding Russia accountable is essential to maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of the G20.”

Tech Migration From India To Canada

The number of Indians immigrating to Canada has more than tripled since 2013. The scale of the increase is what one would expect to witness in a refugee situation, not the result of a steady increase in international students and employment-based immigrants. The data show restrictive immigration policies in the United States, particularly during the Trump administration, have played a significant role in Indians choosing to immigrate to Canada.

In the past year, more than 15,000 Indians have immigrated to Canada, constituting the largest group of global tech industry professionals who have chosen Canada as their new home between April 2022 and March 2023.

Canada’s welcoming immigration policies and favorable labor conditions have played a pivotal role in facilitating this significant influx of newcomers, enabling them to forge successful new lives in the country.

Additionally, with approximately 75% of America’s H1-B visa holders being of Indian descent, Canada’s new H1-B program has emerged as an appealing alternative, drawing interest from U.S. H1-B candidates. As a result, Canada’s tech ecosystem is experiencing rapid growth, attracting a diverse pool of global talent, expanding the Indian diaspora in the region, and fostering cultural influences in the process.

The number of Indians who became permanent residents in Canada rose from 32,828 in 2013 to 118,095 in 2022, an increase of 260%, according to a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data.

In 2022, at 118,095, Indian immigration to Canada dwarfed the next largest source countries for permanent residents: China (31,815), Afghanistan (23,735), Nigeria (22,085) and the Philippines (22,070). In 2014, Canada had more immigrants from the Philippines than from India.

As per Forbes, the significant increase in the number of Indians immigrating to Canada coincided with the election of Donald Trump and his opposition to immigration, including highly educated professionals—and the Canadian government’s policies to attract and retain foreign-born talent.

In January 2015, Canada adopted the Express Entry program to streamline immigration, particularly for high-skilled workers who had experience in Canada as international students or working in temporary status. In June 2017, the Global Skills Strategy began in Canada. “The Canadian government launched a new program to encourage foreign investment in Canada, incentivize companies to open offices in Canada, and attract top foreign talent,” according to a government website.

Santhanam’s Tamil Horror Comedy ‘DD Returns’ Is Streaming On ZEE5 Global

ZEE5 Global, the world’s largest streaming platform for South Asian content, expands its library with Tamil blockbuster ‘DD Returns’. The movie celebrated huge success in theatres with astounding performance and dialogue delivery which made the audiences smile throughout the movie. DD Returns traces the journey of Sathish [Santhanam] who is desperate to save his girlfriend which leads him to a haunted house. Produced by RK entertainment and directed by S. Prem Anand, the film is one of the best Tamil comedy films in recent times with a pinch of horror. The acclaimed movie is currently streaming on ZEE5 Global.

The movie features an ensemble cast that includes Santhanam, Surbhi, Redin Kingsley, Lollu Sabha Maaran, Pradeep Rawat, Masoom Shankar, FEFSI Vijayan, Rajendran and Munishkanth. The horror comedy chronicles around Sathish and his quest to find and rescue his girlfriend – Sofia when her predicament spirals into a do-or-die situation. Satish and his team are forced to play a dangerous game called ‘Win or Run’ organized by the ghosts inhabiting the palace. The cryptic ghosts who devised the lethal game during their lifetime designed it to brutally kill contestants upon failure to advance. Will Sathish and his team emerge victorious and escape the ghosts? Or will someone meet an unfortunate end at the hands of the phantom game designers?

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Global said, “Outstanding stories that resonate with our viewers have been at the heart of our Tamil content library. We are now proud to expand our offering further with a prominent title like DD Returns. The horror comedy brings alive the story of one man’s struggle against rules set by paranormal creatures and is sure to entertain our global viewers.”  

 Producer RK Entertainment C. Ramesh Kumar said, “Although horror comedies are generally considered to be cringe, I was confident that Prem will do justice to the script and make a superb film. The cast and crew have worked tremendously to make this film a success. I am certain that the audience will provide immense support to the film post its digital premiere like they did at the box office.’

 Director S. Prem Anand commented,“I really wanted the film to make a mark in the horror comedy genre. I took my time to envision a perfect balance between the horror and comic elements so that the hilarity of the plot lasts till the end. I wanted it to be a fun-filled experience for the audience and I was glad when they showered us with love in the theatres. I have my fingers-crossed hoping ‘DD Returns’ receives a greater appreciation in the digital space.”

 Actor Santhanam added, “When I was first presented with the storyline of the film, I was really impressed by the tightly knit writing. I am delighted that I was able to bring life to Prem sir’s vision for the film. All of us spent a lot of time and effort on the making of this film but the overwhelming response from my fans made it worth it. I hope the viewers appreciate the movie equally post its launch on ZEE5 Global.”

Viewers can catch ZEE5 Global’s unmissable slate and stock up on their yearlong entertainment by subscribing to the Annual pack and grabbing the limited-time special offer price.

ZEE5 Global Introduces A New Twist To The Latest Edition Of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa

After the raging success of its previous season last year, ZEE5 Global’s iconic singing reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa returns with an exciting new season that has Himesh Reshammiya, Neeti Mohan, Anu Malikas judges and Aditya Naryanas the host. Streaming on ZEE5 Global, the world’s largest streaming platform for South Asian content, the new season of the Zee TV show is poised to change the game with a new format that includes spontaneous challenges thrown at contestants by the judges after one of their peers has delivered an outstanding act in a particular style or genre. Rather than a set template with weekly rounds one is familiar with, this challenging environment is bound to shake up the room a bit, stimulate a competitive edge amongst the contestants and pack in a new surprise for its viewers in every single episode!

The show can be watched ad free only on ZEE5 Global in countries across the globe, and anytime at one’s convenience on any device of their choice. Viewers can catch up on past episodes and even download episodes and watch the show offline.

Two months ago, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa announced a nation-wide quest for ‘OG’ voices across India. For the first time ever, the audition process went paperless – led by a strong digital leg and even the on-ground phase saw negligible use of paper as a part of the channel’s endeavour of being environmentally responsible.

This season features contestants hand picked by the judges from across India like West Bengal’sAlbert Kabo LepchaKharagpur’s Sonia Gazmer, Delhi’s Sana Arora,Mumbai’s Abdul, Uttar Pradesh’s Nishtha Sharma and Kolkata’s Ranita Banerjee.The talented bunch promise viewers an exceptional musical extravaganza that marks a grand celebration of music this season!

Archana Anand, Chief Business Officer, ZEE5 Globalsaid, Our marquee music reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa is much loved by fans across the globe, driving us to innovate it further into a brand-new format this year. It draws in fans from every corner of the world who enjoy the immense convenience of watching it ad free at their convenience on ZEE5 Global or catching up on missed episodes, and we are thrilled to bring them this latest season that will surely delight them.”

Here’s what the judges had to say at the show’s launch:

Judge Himesh Reshammiya said, “Although I have been a part of several seasons of this reality show, each season has left me surprised with the kind of talent that has performed on this stage. I truly believe that it is going to be a real treat to watch these raw gems perform, and a brilliant opportunity for them would be to get a chance to sing a song that will be released by Zee Music. The idea is to specifically look for OG singers so that we can give fresh and new voices to our Indian music industry.”

Judge Neeti Mohan added, “I am all set to judge the new season of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and it’s an honor to be on the same judging panel as the esteemed singers and composers of our music industry – Himesh Reshammiya and Anu Malik. I must say that selecting the best among the best for this season is undoubtedly a challenging task for all of us, but we will do our best to shape the future of the emerging talent that comes our way.”

Judge Anu Malik said, “I am really excited to be part of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa once again, and after witnessing the amazing performances of the new talent during the audition episodes, Himesh, Neeti and I will ensure that we do justice to them by guiding them to the best of our abilities. I believe the franchise has nurtured exceptional talent over the last few decades, and this year as well, the audience will get to watch extraordinary talent perform some mesmerizing songs.”

About ZEE5 Global

ZEE5 Global is the digital entertainment destination launched by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), a global Media and Entertainment powerhouse. The platform launched across 190+ countries in October 2018 and has content across 18 languages: Hindi, English, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Oriya, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Punjabi, including six international languages Malay, Thai, Bahasa, Urdu, Bangla and Arabic. ZEE5 Global is home to 200,000+ hours of on-demand content. The platform brings together the best of Originals, Movies and TV Shows, Music and Health and Lifestyle content in one destination. In addition, ZEE5 Global offers features like 15 navigational languages, content download options, seamless video playback and Voice Search.

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Shaktikanta Das Of India’s Top Bank Ranked As Top Central Banker

Shaktikanta Das, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has achieved global recognition by securing the top spot in the prestigious Global Finance Central Banker Report Cards for 2023. In this authoritative ranking, he was bestowed with an ‘A+’ rating, placing him at the pinnacle of central bank governors worldwide. This distinguished evaluation was conducted by the esteemed US-based Global Finance Magazine.

Das has garnered accolades for his adept stewardship of the Indian economy, particularly during a turbulent period of global economic uncertainty. His remarkable achievements include maintaining a firm grip on inflation and providing crucial support for economic growth.

As of December 12, 2018, Shaktikanta Das assumed office as the 25th Governor of the RBI, succeeding Urjit Patel. His tenure is marked by a string of influential roles, including serving as the Secretary of the Department of Revenue and the Department of Economic Affairs within the finance ministry.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his heartfelt congratulations to Shaktikanta Das for attaining the coveted ‘A+’ rating in the Global Finance Central Banker Report Cards for 2023. He underscored the significance of this achievement, stating, “Congratulations to RBI Governor Shri Shaktikanta Das. This is a proud moment for India, reflecting our financial leadership on the global stage. His dedication and vision continue to strengthen our nation’s growth trajectory.”

In the Global Finance grading system, an ‘A’ signifies an exceptional performance, while an ‘F’ represents a clear failure. In this regard, Shaktikanta Das’s ‘A+’ rating underscores his outstanding contributions to the central banking sphere.

Trailing behind Das in the rankings are Switzerland’s Governor Thomas J. Jordan and Nguyen Thi Hong, the central bank chief of Vietnam, both of whom also received ‘A’ ratings.

The report emphasized the global reliance on central bankers in the fight against inflation, which has surged due to pent-up demand and disrupted supply chains. Central bankers are increasingly called upon to address these economic challenges.

Global Finance’s annual Central Banker Report Cards are a platform to honor bank governors whose innovative ideas, originality, ingenuity, and tenacity have set them apart from their peers.

Joining Shaktikanta Das in the ‘A’ grade category are notable central bank governors like Roberto Campos Neto of Brazil, Amir Yaron of Israel, Harvesh Kumar Seegolam of Mauritius, and Adrian Orr of New Zealand, all of whom have been recognized for their remarkable performance.

Additionally, several governors received an ‘A-‘ rating in the report, including Leonardo Villar of Colombia, Hector Valdez Albizu of the Dominican Republic, Asgeir Jonsson of Iceland, and Perry Warjiyo of Indonesia.

It’s worth noting that Global Finance has been evaluating central bank governors from 101 countries, territories, and districts, including prominent institutions such as the European Union, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Bank of Central African States, and the Central Bank of West African States since 1994.

Shaktikanta Das’s ascendancy to the top of the Global Finance Central Banker Report Cards for 2023 is not an isolated recognition of his excellence. In June of the same year, he was honored with the title of ‘Governor of the Year’ at the Central Banking Awards 2023 held in London. This further underscores his exceptional contributions to the field of central banking.

Shaktikanta Das has emerged as the preeminent central banker globally, earning an ‘A+’ rating in the esteemed Global Finance Central Banker Report Cards for 2023. His adept management of India’s economy, particularly during times of global economic uncertainty, has earned him widespread acclaim. This recognition not only reflects his dedication and vision but also positions India as a leader on the international financial stage. Additionally, his ‘Governor of the Year’ accolade at the Central Banking Awards 2023 in London underscores the enduring impact of his contributions to central banking.

India’s Moon Rover Completes Its Walk

India’s lunar rover has concluded its exploration on the moon’s surface and has been placed in sleep mode, marking a significant milestone in the nation’s space endeavors. This development occurred less than two weeks after the rover’s historic landing near the lunar south pole, as confirmed by India’s space mission.

In an official statement released on a Saturday evening, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) reported, “The rover completes its assignments. It is now safely parked and set into sleep mode.” This decision was influenced by the impending lunar nightfall, as daylight on that part of the moon was coming to an end.

The ISRO statement further revealed that the rover’s scientific instruments had been powered down, and the data it diligently gathered during its lunar expedition had been successfully transmitted to Earth through the lander.

Originally, the Chandrayaan-3 lander and rover were expected to function for a single lunar day, equivalent to 14 days on Earth. In a hopeful note, the statement mentioned the current status of the rover’s battery, stating, “Currently, the battery is fully charged. The solar panel is oriented to receive the light at the next sunrise expected on September 22, 2023. The receiver is kept on. Hoping for a successful awakening for another set of assignments!”

Despite the success in various aspects of the mission, there was no mention in the statement regarding the outcome of the rover’s mission to search for signs of frozen water on the lunar surface. Such discoveries could prove crucial for future astronaut missions, serving as a potential source of drinking water or even the production of rocket fuel.

Just a week prior, the space agency had announced a significant discovery by the rover, confirming the presence of sulfur and identifying several other elements on the lunar surface. The rover’s laser-induced spectroscope instrument had also detected the presence of aluminum, iron, calcium, chromium, titanium, manganese, oxygen, and silicon.

However, the mission wasn’t without its challenges. The Indian Express newspaper reported that the electronic components on board the Indian lunar mission were not designed to endure the extreme low temperatures experienced on the moon, dropping to less than -120 degrees Celsius (-184 degrees Fahrenheit) during the lunar night, which spans approximately 14 days on Earth.

Pallava Bagla, a renowned science writer and co-author of books focusing on India’s space exploration, emphasized the rover’s limited battery power. He noted that while the data had safely made its way back to Earth, the rover’s ability to wake up during the next lunar sunrise remained uncertain, as the electronic circuits and components weren’t equipped to withstand the moon’s frigid conditions. Bagla remarked, “Making electronic circuits and components that can survive the deep cold temperature of the moon, that technology doesn’t exist in India.”

India’s achievement in successfully deploying a rover to the lunar surface came after a previous attempt to land on the moon in 2019 had encountered difficulties. This recent success positioned India alongside the United States, the Soviet Union, and China as the fourth nation to accomplish this remarkable feat.

This triumphant mission not only signifies India’s growing prominence in the realms of technology and space exploration but also aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aspirations to project India as an ascendant nation, asserting its position among the global elite.

This multifaceted mission commenced over a month ago and was executed with an estimated budget of $75 million. India’s success on the lunar surface closely followed Russia’s Luna-25 mission, which had the same lunar region as its target but sadly veered into an uncontrolled orbit and crashed. Luna-25 had aspired to become Russia’s first successful lunar landing in 47 years.

Roscosmos, Russia’s state-controlled space corporation, attributed the mission’s failure to a lack of expertise, resulting from the prolonged hiatus in lunar research following the last Soviet mission to the moon in 1976.

India’s space journey has been active since the 1960s, encompassing satellite launches for both domestic and international purposes. Notably, in 2014, India successfully placed a satellite in orbit around Mars, a significant accomplishment that drew global attention. As part of its future plans, India is gearing up for its maiden mission to the International Space Station in collaboration with the United States, demonstrating its continued commitment to pushing the boundaries of space exploration.

Long Wait For Green Cards Threatens Separation Of Indian Families

In the United States, a substantial backlog in Green Card processing is putting over one lakh Indian children at risk of being separated from their parents. With more than 10.7 lakh Indians in line for employment-based Green Cards, which grant legal permanent residency in the US, the current system’s limitations suggest that completion could take a staggering 135 years. This crisis primarily affects those under H-4 visas, with a recent study by immigration expert David J. Bier from the Cato Institute highlighting that approximately 1.34 lakh Indian children under H-4 visas may age out before their Green Card applications are processed, forcing them into separation from their families.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, DC, has drawn attention to this pressing issue, emphasizing the severity of the problem. When factoring in dropout factors such as death and aging out, the waiting time remains at a staggering 54 years.

Under the H-4 visa system, children moving to the US with their parents, who hold H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, are permitted to stay until they reach the age of 21. Once they reach this age, they can no longer remain in the United States under the H-4 visa category. These young individuals, sometimes referred to as “documented dreamers,” face two difficult choices upon aging out.

Picture : MSN

The first option is to apply for an F-1 or student visa, which allows them to study in the US. However, this route doesn’t grant them the right to work without obtaining an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD application process is often protracted and expensive, with no guarantees of success, as only a limited number of children manage to secure the F-1 visa.

The second alternative is to return to their home country, which can be an emotionally challenging decision. This is particularly true for those who have spent the majority of their lives in the US, with minimal or no connection to their family in India.

The age limit imposed on H-4 visas and the extensive backlog in the Green Card process have created significant uncertainty and anxiety among Indian families settled in the United States. While the Biden administration has proposed a rule that would permit certain H-4 visa holders who turn 21 to remain in the US and work, it remains uncertain when or if this rule will be put into effect. Additionally, President Biden had pledged to modify the 7 percent country cap for Green Cards, but concrete steps towards this change remain to be seen.

The lengthy waiting times for Green Cards in the United States are endangering the unity of Indian families settled there, especially those with children on H-4 visas. Urgent reforms are needed to address this issue and provide a more compassionate solution to prevent the forced separation of families.

Is India Going To Be Renamed Bharat?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has replaced the name India with a Sanskrit word in dinner invitations sent to guests attending this week’s Group of 20 (G20) summit, triggering speculation that the name of the country will be officially changed.

Reports suggest, India is likely to be renamed Bharat. Buzz on the country’s name change gained ground after images of the official invite to the G20 Heads of State and ministers for a dinner being hosted by President Droupadi Murmu came to the fore. The invite shows the invite was from “the President of Bharat“.

Picture : Gulte

The name change from “India” to “Bharat” in the formal invite for a global summit, that will see Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak in attendance, could possibly be a hint by the Modi administration that India could soon be renamed.

Several Opposition leaders took to social media to share the invites to the dinner to be held on September 9th, that shed the country’s English name “India”. Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist government is rumoured to be looking to change the name during a special parliamentary session this month amid instances of the removal of the traces of previous governments and leaders, including the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, from official landmarks and buildings of national importance.

What is India officially called?

The official name for the country is mentioned in the Indian Constitution as “India, that is Bharat” that “shall be a Union of states”. The Indian Constitution was written and made public in 1951 and the issue had been heavily debated after India gained independence as well, in 1947.

Nehru, also a historian, had said in his book, Discovery of India: “Often, as I wandered from meeting to meeting, I spoke to my audiences of this India of ours, of Hindustan and of Bharata, the old Sanskrit name derived from the mythical founders of the race.” He had mentioned the three most popular names – Hindustan, India and Bharat – with their own roots to the geographical and historical relevance of the country.

All the official documents for the country in English carry the name “India” when referring to the Republic, its ministries, domestic and foreign correspondence, and even while mentioning leaders as Indian leaders. Valid identity cards like passports and voting cards use the term “India” as the official marker of citizenship. The documents published in colloquial Hindi language say “Bharat” instead of “India”.

Where do the names India and Bharat come from?

The earliest records used to identify the country reveal the usage of “Bharat”, “Bharata” or “Bharatvarsha”. These commonly used terms have found a place in the Constitution alongside “India”.

Bharat, a Sanskrit name for the country, comes from ancient Puranic literature and also from one of the two major epics of India – the Mahabharata – in which Indians are believed to be the descendants of king Bharat, a mythical figure Hindus claim had started the Indian race. Many historians believe it dates back to early Hindu texts. The word also means “India” in Hindi.

The name “India” gained relevance when the country was ruled by the British from the late 18th century onwards, and was prominently used in historical maps. After gaining freedom, the country’s new leaders did not do away with the usage, but incorporated it in official documents.

Who is calling for Bharat to be used?

After centuries of the country being known as India outside its borders, the Modi administration is pushing for the name change. This is coincidentally just weeks after the country’s opposition leaders formed an alliance bloc called “INDIA” – short for Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance – in a bid to remove Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in elections next year.

Several right-wing leaders of his party cheered on the probable use of “Bharat” as the only official name for the country on Tuesday, after photos widely shared across social media showed an official invite for India’s G20 summit asking foreign dignitaries to join the “President of Bharat” with no mention of India on the card.

Recent media reports about a “special session” of the Indian parliament, coupled with the photo of the invite, have also sparked rumours that BJP is planning to use the rare session to announce its intention to officially rename the country.

Why is it in the news now?

The biggest push came after the opposition rebranded itself as “INDIA” and claimed it wants to protect democracy and the idea of a united nation that it insists has been attacked by Modi’s Hindu nationalist party amid a sharp rise in attacks against other religious minorities in the country, prominently Muslims.

Right-wing political leaders from Mr Modi’s BJP, however, insist “India” was introduced by British colonialists, is a “symbol of slavery” and argue that a name change is an effort to reclaim India’s Hindu past. Large portions of India’s population, however, follow several different religions. Several of Mr Modi’s ministers have dropped India from their social media bios and replaced it with “Bharat” in the past few weeks.

Since then, some officials in Mr Modi’s party have demanded the country be called “Bharat”, without explaining how official documents, prominent national buildings, hospitals, colleges and universities using “India” in their name will be renamed.

Biden Arrives In India For G20 Summit

US President Joe Biden will travel to India on Thursday to attend the G20 summit. He will also have a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the sidelines of the summit, the White House has announced.

India, President of G20, will host global leaders at the summit, which will take place on September 9 and 10 in New Delhi. On Thursday (September 7), the US President will travel to New Delhi to attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit, the White House said in a statement.

On September 8, he will participate in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi. On Saturday and Sunday, Biden will participate in the G20 summit, where the US President and G20 partners will discuss a range of joint efforts to tackle global issues, including clean energy transition and combating climate change.

Picture : The Guardian

They will also discuss ways to mitigate the economic and social impact of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and increase the capacity of multilateral development banks, including World Bank, to better fight poverty and address global challenges.

The President will participate in the G20 Summit on Saturday and Sunday where he and G20 partners will discuss a range of joint efforts to tackle global issues which include clean energy transition and combating climate change.

They will also mitigate the economic and social impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine and boost the capacity of multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, to better fight poverty, including by addressing global challenges, the White House said.

“While in New Delhi, the President will also commend Prime Minister Modi’s leadership of the G20 and reaffirm the US commitment to the G20 as the premier forum of economic cooperation, including by hosting it in 2026,” it added.

Earlier, amid the reports of Chinese President Xi Jinping skipping the G20 Summit in New Delhi, Biden had said that he hoped that Xi would attend the meeting in India.

While in New Delhi, the US President will reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the G20 as the premier forum of economic cooperation. The G20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies.

The United States will host the summit in 2026.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Surprising Ascent in Republican Politics

Vivek Ramaswamy’s unexpected emergence as a prominent figure within the Republican Party has sent shockwaves through the political landscape. The 38-year-old pharmaceutical executive’s sudden prominence in the GOP presidential primary race has raised eyebrows, especially after his standout performance in a recent debate.

Previously an unexpected contender, Ramaswamy’s surge in popularity has been evident in the polls, where he has begun to surpass the popularity of current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. While DeSantis was once comfortably polling above 35% among voters, his favorability has dwindled in recent times, with numerous polls showing his numbers dipping below 15%. In contrast, Ramaswamy, who announced his presidential candidacy in late February, had started with a modest polling range between 1% and 5%. However, recent polls conducted by Rasmussen Reports and McLaughlin & Associates indicate that his support has soared, with figures reaching as high as 24%, and in some cases, even surpassing DeSantis.


Amidst the Battle for Second Place

As DeSantis and Ramaswamy vie for second place in the primary race, the prevailing sentiment is that former President Donald Trump maintains a commanding lead, consistently polling at over 50%. Trump’s resurgence and increasing popularity have been attributed, in part, to his recent legal challenges across four states, which appear to have rallied his base. Furthermore, Trump’s strategic return to social media, now under the name “X” after the rebranding of Twitter, is anticipated to further bolster his polling numbers.

Ramaswamy’s Policy Stances and Their Potential Market Effects

Vivek Ramaswamy’s policy platform is marked by a commitment to reducing government expenditure and regulations. While these policies might not directly impact individual stocks, the broader market indices such as the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Stock Exchange tend to respond positively to initiatives aimed at deregulation in specific sectors.

Energy Sectors and Economic Implications

Ramaswamy aligns himself with many GOP candidates in supporting energy solutions rooted in natural resources like oil, coal, nuclear power, and natural gas. This alignment suggests that stocks in these sectors could experience substantial growth under a Ramaswamy presidency. Notable companies poised to benefit include ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Constellation Energy Corp., and NuScale Power Corp.

Cryptocurrency Standpoint and Financial Markets

While Ramaswamy takes a stance against central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), he has emerged as a proponent of Bitcoin. His campaign’s acceptance of donations in Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, and other cryptocurrencies reflects his support for the crypto landscape. However, it remains unclear whether he would actively promote policies favoring cryptocurrencies. Ramaswamy’s priority appears to be strengthening the U.S. dollar over Bitcoin, thereby shaping his stance on digital currencies.

Tech Innovation and Startup Ecosystem

Ramaswamy’s focus on innovation, evident in his “America First 2.0” agenda and his background in technology, bodes well for traditional technology stocks. Although companies like Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. have exhibited resilience regardless of the party in power, potential tax incentives for companies moving their operations to the U.S. could enhance their profitability in the long term.

Picture : CNBC

Stimulating innovation and small business growth is anticipated to yield positive outcomes. The venture capital market, which encountered declines exceeding 50% in the U.S. during the first half of 2023, is showing signs of a rebound. Platforms facilitating retail startup investments, like StartEngine and Wefunder, are gradually recovering. The projected positive direction of these sectors is attributed to the potential for deregulation and policies promoting innovation, small businesses, and vocational trades.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s unforeseen prominence in the Republican Party’s presidential primary race has captivated attention. As he competes with Governor Ron DeSantis for second place, both candidates trail behind the frontrunner, former President Donald Trump. Ramaswamy’s policy positions, spanning from deregulation to energy preferences and cryptocurrency viewpoints, hold potential implications for various sectors in the economy and financial markets. His commitment to fostering innovation and supporting small businesses has the potential to reshape multiple facets of the American economic landscape.

INDIA Meet Gives Shape To A Unified Opposition To India

At their third conclave in Mumbai, INDIA parties resolved to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha polls together “as far as possible”. Amid speculation of early polls, the Opposition bloc set up a 14-member coordination committee as its top decision-making body.

Top leaders of the opposition bloc held talks in an informal setting in Mumbai on Thursday evening to chart out a concrete roadmap and evolve a structure for cooperation among the alliance partners.

Before the meeting, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was seen chatting with Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders Aaditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut and NCP’s Supriya Sule and Jayant Patil. Uddhav Thackeray and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar were also seen sharing light moments ahead of the meeting.

The Congress party president Mallikarjun Kharge, former party chief Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Jayant Chaudhary among others were present in the meeting.

“The meeting was good. You will know the details tomorrow,” Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray told reporters. Thackeray hosted dinner for the INDIA leaders after the meeting.

Picture : MINT

Against much anticipation, no seat-sharing formula could be finalised in Mumbai, indicating major differences among the parties. They also did not launch a logo for the alliance. Its resolution said, “Seat-sharing arrangements in different states will be initiated immediately and concluded at the earliest in a collaborative spirit of give-and-take.” The coordination committee has got the task of starting the work on seat sharing.

While a comprehensive action plan for taking on the PM Modi-led NDA government in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections has been finalized at the end of the INDIA alliance meeting on Friday, the crucial discussions on a seat-sharing formula were left to state-level committees comprising leaders of various parties, Congress sources told the media.

The Congress and a few other parties have also identified 400 parliamentary seats out of the total 543 where a one-on-one fight with the BJP is possible and will push for such contests, a senior Congress leader said.

The INDIA bloc is in no hurry to appoint a convenor, but it has been proposed that a coordination committee of 11 members be appointed, the leader said.

 The INDIA bloc is likely to announce a coordination committee as well as unveil a logo for the alliance. The opposition leaders had earlier met in Patna and Bengaluru.

Not officially invited, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal made an unexpected entry at the conclave stage, leaving some Congress leaders miffed. KC Venugopal, a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, reportedly complained to Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, the official host of the meeting, over the presence of his lawyer. Sibal, who had quit the Congress last year as he didn’t want to “hang on coattails of any party” was seen being warmly welcomed by NCP’s Supriya Sule.

In their second conclave in July in Bengaluru, the INDIA bloc’s resolution declared a national caste census as one of its demands. But in Mumbai, when JDU, SP and RJD pushed for the caste census demand, TMC opposed it.

Rahul Gandhi said PM Modi’s call of ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ would never materialise just like the Britishers failed to finish off the party during their heydays. He claimed his party would replicate its win in Karnataka notched up a few months ago in poll-bound Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. “The INDIA alliance is going to defeat the BJP in national elections and the Congress party will win the polls,” he said.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge during the third INDIA meeting on Friday asked the alliance partners to be ready for more attacks from the ruling party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming days due to vendetta politics and said “INDIA strength is making the government nervous”.

He also targeted the BJP and the RSS for increase in hate crime in the country and also accused it of trying to keep the states under check. Addressing the INDIA bloc leaders here on second day of the meeting, Kharge said, “The success of  both our meetings first in Patna and second in Bengaluru can be measured by the fact that the Prime Minister in his subsequent speeches has not just attacked INDIA but has also compared the name of our beloved country with a terrorist organisation and a symbol of slavery.”

“We should be prepared for more attacks in the coming months, more raids and arrests due to this government’s vendetta politics,” he said. The Congress leader asserted that the more ground INDIA alliance gains the more the BJP government will misuse agencies against the opposition leaders. He cited the example of the central agencies actions in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal and recent actions in the states of Jharkhand and in Chhattisgarh.

“Today every section of our society — be it the farmers, youth, women, the marginalised, middle class, public intellectuals, NGOs and even journalists — all have been at the receiving end of BJP’s authoritarian misrule and 140 crore Indians are looking towards us with hope to relieve them of their miseries,” Kharge said targeting the government.

Hitting back at the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Kharge, who is also the leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha said, “The communal poison that the BJP and RSS have spread over the last nine years is now seen in hate crimes against innocent train passengers and against innocent school children. It is no surprise that when people involved in gruesome rape are released and felicitated in one part of the county, it encourages horrific crimes and parading of naked women in the other. In Modiji’s India the wife of a Kargil brave heart is also not spared.”

Kharge was referring to the recent killing of four people in train by an RPF constable, naked parading of women by a mob in Manipur, release of Bilkis Banu rape accused.

“It is the BJP govt’s apathy towards the marginalised that makes their leaders urinate on poor tribals and dalits and the culprits are left to roam freely,” he said referring to the Madhya Pradesh’s incident.

Slamming the government further, the Congress leader said that the Central government headed by the “Prime Minister wants to keep states under check. States are being denied their share of the tax revenues. MGNREGA dues to Opposition ruled states are not being given. Special grants and state specific grants are not released as per recommendation of the Finance Commission. Investors are forced to move their investments and projects out of opposition ruled states to states ruled by the BJP,” he said.

He also referred to former party president Rahul Gandhi’s press conference on Thursday questioning the Prime Minister’s silence on alleged stock manipulation by Adani Group.

“He (Rahul Gandhi) demanded a JPC probe into charges of round tripping and reports of Opaque Investment from Mauritius based Company. It is unexplainable why the Prime Minister is not getting the matter investigated?” Kharge questioned.

Kharge alleged that the BJP wants complete control on agencies and institutions — it is adamant on controlling the appointment of ED Chief, the CBI Director, Election Commissioners or even judges of courts across the country.

“Through the course of the three meetings INDIA alliance has successfully held the government accountable both within and outside Parliament as a united front. Our strength makes the government nervous and which is why it has further bulldozed important bills in Parliament, suspended our MPs on flimsy grounds, filed privilege motions against us, switched off our mikes, not allowed cameras to cover our protests and blatantly censored our speeches on Sansad TV,” he said. He also said that he would like to end on a positive note as the people of this country are our hope.

“The success of Chandrayaan 3 and our scientists from ISRO, success of sports people like Neeraj Chopra and young chess wizard Praggnanandhaa make us all proud. I want to congratulate all of them on their success for inspiring the next generation,” Kharge added.

Indiaspora’s G20 Forum Focusses On India’s Growth Trajectory

US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti highlighted India’s remarkable progress, promoting a cohesive identity within concentric circles and emphasizing the diaspora’s role in fortifying the US-India connection. While participating in the Indiaspora deliberations at the three-day event from August 22-24, 2023, at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, the ambassador advocated addressing the overconcentration of power, fostering a serious approach to bilateral engagement, and acquiring skills, especially in complex domains like semiconductors. 

The G20 Forum by Indiaspora convened influential voices from around the world to deliberate on critical issues encompassing foreign policy, financial inclusion, climate change, gender equality, healthcare, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, sports, and trade and investments, and beyond. See below for a day-by-day summary of the event. 

M R Rangaswami, Founder of Indiaspora, highlighted the far-reaching impact of Indian doctors and academics worldwide, emphasizing the organization’s effort to document the diaspora’s contributions. A pivotal topic was the role of the diaspora during India’s G20 presidency, with Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Chief Coordinator of G20 India, discussing its significance within India’s ‘Amrit Kaal’. 

The discussions extended to philanthropy and its global impact. Atul Keshap, President of USIBC, highlighted the Indian-American community’s growth and influence, while Faizal Kottikollon, founder and chairman of KEF Holdings, shed light on his school’s transformative approach to public education in India and Africa

The event highlighted collaborations between the Indian diaspora and various countries, with representatives from Israel, Canada, Australia, and the UK underscoring the strength of their partnerships. Galvanizing Impact Philanthropy to India was the topic of a fireside  chat featuring strategic philanthropists Deepak Raj and Ashish Dawan. The crucial theme of ethical and responsible giving emerged in discussions, where experts like Aditya Jha, President & CEO, dgMarket International, Shanthini Naidoo, CEO, St. Vincent’s Curran Foundation, and Mittal Gohil, Executive Director of The Desai Foundation, stressed the importance of purpose-driven philanthropy.

Sessions also explored AI’s implications on economic progress and societal needs. Experts like Rohit Jain, CIO, Harvard Business School Alumni Association NC, Jaya Vaidhyanathan, CEO, BCT Digital, and Preetish Nijhawan, General Partner, Cervin Ventures, dissected the nuances of AI’s development, focusing on rational and existential fears, data biases, and the need for inclusive models. The event also celebrated arts and culture with a talk by esteemed Indian music producer, A. R. Rahman, who emphasized the need for infrastructure and spaces to preserve and promote artistic expressions globally. The day offered insightful discussions on diverse topics, showcasing the potential of the Indian diaspora’s engagement for a more interconnected world.


The Indiaspora G20 Forum concluded its third day with insightful discussions on various crucial topics. In the panel discussion “From Homelands to Global Markets: Cross-Border Trade & Investment,” experts emphasized the transformative nature of global value chains driven by geopolitical dynamics. The emergence of ASEAN countries and the strategic cooperation between the US, India, Australia, and Japan (the Quad) were highlighted as significant developments. A key focus was on the pivotal role of exports in economic growth and development, as expressed by Indiaspora member and Managing Partner at Celesta Capital, Mr. Arun Kumar, and CEO of the Centre of Australia India Relations, Mr. Tim Thomas.

The event’s subsequent sessions delved into diverse themes. Chairman of the Quad Investors Network at America’s Frontier Fund, Karl Mehta‘s talk emphasized the importance of innovation and investment in critical technologies for the Quad alliance, envisioning it as a hub for cutting-edge advancements. Discussions also centered around digital transformation, with Mr. Vikas Choudhury, President, Reliance Jio and Partner at Pivot Ventures, spotlighting the role of technology in India’s journey toward 2047. Another session, led by Chairman of Panera Brands, Mr. Niren Chaudhary, stressed leadership through resilience and the importance of values and character in shaping individuals’ impact.

The breakout sessions further enriched the dialogue. Unleashing soft power, diplomacy, and cultural capital were highlighted, with insights from Mr. Muktesh Pardeshi, Special Secretary and heads the operations and logistics of India’s G20 Presidency Secretariat, Ms. Anat Bernstein-Reich, CEO at BDO Consulting Israel-India Investment Banking and Business Development and others. The significance of the Indian diaspora in contributing to global goodwill and relationships was underscored. Moreover, discussions on driving knowledge sharing for India’s growth led by Dr. Sudhir Jain, Vice-Chancellor at Banaras Hindu University, and Sunder Ramaswamy, Distinguished International Economist and professor at Middlebury College, emphasized the role of education and collaboration in propelling the nation forward.

The final day included panels on venture capital’s role in inclusive development, with experts like Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan, Chairman Axilor Ventures and Co-founder Infosys, and Mr. Prashant Pathak, CEO at Ekagrata Inc., discussing the impact of investments on technology development. Another panel addressed innovation, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility, highlighting the potential of these sectors in driving change. Mr. Peyush Bansal, Co-Founder, Chief Executive & People Office, shared his journey with Lenskart and the impact on eye care and awareness. And India’s Finance Secretary Dr. TV Somanathan spoke of the ways in which the diaspora can help India’s surge towards a $10 trillion economy.

Overall, the Indiaspora G20 Forum Day 3 showcased vibrant discussions on trade, innovation, soft power, and societal impact. The forum illuminated the Indian diaspora’s pivotal role in fostering global connections, leveraging technology, and shaping the nation’s growth trajectory. With the spotlight on inclusive development, technology-driven solutions, and sustainable progress, the event underscored the diaspora’s immense potential in shaping India’s future.

Trump’s Mug Shot, The First Ever Of A US President

The world’s seen hundreds of thousands of pictures of Donald Trump. But this one’s different.

In Donald Trump’s mug shot taken at the Fulton County Jail on Thursday, he’s looking straight into the camera. His platinum blonde cotton candy wisp of hair shimmers in the harsh jailhouse lighting. His eyes are locked in a hard stare. His mouth is flattened in a grimace. Instead of smiling like some of his co-defendants, he appears to be scowling.

The mug shot was released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office roughly an hour after the former President was booked as inmate P01135809 over charges that he illegally schemed to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia.

Trump’s booking in Atlanta is the fourth time he’s faced criminal charges in six months, but the first time his face has been captured for the iconic symbol of a run-in with the law. In previous cases, the courts agreed Trump didn’t need to have a mug shot taken, prompting his campaign to design a fake mug shot, print it on T-shirts and offer them for sale at $36 each in an effort to galvanize his base.

Mug shots have been taken since the 1800s to help authorities identify people accused of a crime if they escape or don’t show up for court, or later, after being convicted and released, to help authorities recapture them if they’re accused of other crimes. Trump’s face is so well known, taking another image of him is hardly necessary, and authorities during his previous appearances agreed to waive the requirement. But not Fulton County, Georgia.

Speaking to reporters at the Atlanta airport after being booked, Trump said that he did “nothing wrong” and called the case a “travesty of justice.” He added: “We have every right to challenge an election we think is dishonest.”

While several of Trump’s Republican rivals for president have criticized the multiple prosecutions against him, they have also acknowledged that Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

Trump is the first President to ever pose for a mug shot. The closest history has to offer was the 1872 arrest of President Ulysses S. Grant, who was taken to a local police station in Washington, D.C. for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage. No mug shot was taken in the incident.

Loneliness Trends Among Older Adults In The U.S.

In January of 2023, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA) conducted a survey involving adults aged 50 to 80 to assess their feelings of loneliness and social interactions. This study aimed to compare the results with similar surveys conducted in 2018, 2020, 2021, and 2022 to discern trends in loneliness and social engagement before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the NPHA’s latest report, 34% of adults aged 50 to 80 reported feeling isolated from others at some point in the past year. This marks a significant decrease from 56% in 2020 and a slight increase from 27% in 2018. Similarly, 37% of older adults indicated experiencing a lack of companionship in the past year, compared to 41% in 2020 and 34% in 2018.

The survey also revealed that one-third of older adults reported infrequent contact with people outside their homes in 2023. This rate was notably lower than the 46% reported in 2020, yet higher than the 28% in 2018. These findings indicated a mixed trajectory in terms of social interaction during the pandemic.

The survey identified certain factors associated with feelings of isolation, lack of companionship, and limited social contact. Those reporting fair or poor mental health, as well as poor physical health, were more likely to experience loneliness. The same was true for individuals with health issues or disabilities that affected daily activities, those not employed or retired, those living alone, and those in the 50-64 age group. Women also reported feeling lonelier than men.

Loneliness has substantial implications for mental, cognitive, and physical health, general well-being, and even longevity. Previous NPHA surveys consistently demonstrated that isolation, lack of companionship, and infrequent social contact correlated with poorer mental and physical health among older adults.

While the report showed a decline in feelings of isolation and lack of companionship among adults aged 50 to 80 in 2023, the rates were still significant. The findings emphasized that addressing loneliness requires a multifaceted approach. Similar to discussing diet and exercise, clinicians should identify older adults at higher risk of loneliness and refer them to community resources like senior centers or local libraries to promote social connections. Friends and family members are also encouraged to reconnect with older individuals who might have experienced limited contact in recent years.

The study’s results underscored the importance of tackling the issue of loneliness, which the U.S. Surgeon General has referred to as an “epidemic.” Policymakers, clinicians, and family members need to work together to combat this issue and its adverse effects on older adults’ well-being.

The data for this report were collected through a nationally representative survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. The survey, administered in January 2023 to adults aged 50 to 80 (n=2,563), combined online and phone methods. The sample was weighted to reflect U.S. Census Bureau figures, resulting in a completion rate of 61%. The margin of error ranged from ±1 to 3 percentage points for overall results and higher for subgroups.

It’s important to note that the findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the University of Michigan, which retains all rights over the material.

The Evolution of Mathematical Concepts – From Pythagoras to Brahmagupta

In the 6th century BC, Pythagoras, a renowned mathematician, unveiled his groundbreaking discovery that the square of the hypotenuse in a right-angled triangle equals the sum of the squares of its other sides. This revelation garnered immense acclaim, with the Greek colony of Croton declaring a 10-day celebration complete with a sumptuous feast. Pythagoras’s reputation as an academic superstar was solidified (“Pythagorean Theorem and its Reception: Ancient Greece’s Mathematical Triumph”).

In 8th century BC India, Baudhayana made a parallel revelation in his Sulba Sutra, establishing that the square formed by the “diagonal” of a triangle encompassed the combined area of squares formed by the triangle’s length and breadth. This concept mirrored the Pythagorean theorem, indicating its emergence even earlier in India (“Unveiling the Indian Origin of the Pythagorean Theorem”).

Advancing to Pythagoras’s era, his assertion that any number could be expressed as a perfect ratio of two natural numbers was challenged by a student, possibly Hippasus. Hippasus discovered that the square root of 2 could not be exactly expressed as a ratio, leading to a conundrum. Pythagoras, in order to preserve his theorem’s integrity, allegedly resorted to extreme measures, committing the chilling act of murdering Hippasus (“The Enigma of Hippasus and the Challenge to Pythagoras”).

Contrasting the peaceful academic climate in ancient India, Baudhayana and Aryabhata readily embraced irrational numbers, exemplified by approximations for the square root of 2 and “pi.” Unlike the Greeks, who struggled with arithmetic due to the absence of a place-value number system, these Indian mathematicians exhibited a more pragmatic approach (“Embracing Irrationality: Ancient Indian Mathematics”).

The absence of zero in the Greek mathematical framework posed difficulties in numerical calculations. Roman numerals, devoid of a place-value system, complicated arithmetic operations. Additionally, the Greeks were averse to the concept of zero, which they deemed a void, and they lacked negative numbers as these held no relevance in subtracting larger areas from smaller ones (“Zero’s Emergence and the Greek Numerical Dilemma”).

The 6th and 7th centuries AD marked a pivotal period for zero’s conceptual evolution, particularly with the mathematician Brahmagupta. While zero was used symbolically prior, Brahmagupta was the first to define zero as the remainder when subtracting a number from itself. This innovation facilitated the integration of zero into arithmetic and the establishment of the place-value decimal system. Brahmagupta also introduced negative numbers, endowing them with practical significance as “debts” (“Brahmagupta: Architect of the Concept of Zero”).

Brahmagupta’s seminal work, the Brahmasphutasiddhanta, penned in 628 AD, later reached the attention of Caliph al-Mansur of Baghdad through Indian scholar Kanka. This prompted an Arabic translation of the text, leading the Arabs to gradually embrace the concept of zero, which they termed “sifr” (“Zero’s Journey to the Arab World”).

Zero’s impact on Europe was delayed by 400 years until the Moors introduced it upon conquering Spain. While businesses embraced zero for balancing accounts, governments exhibited resistance; Florence even banned its use in 1299. The allure of zero persisted among merchants, who clandestinely employed a symbol to represent it despite the ban. The association of zero with secret codes gave rise to the term “cipher” (“Zero’s Assimilation in Europe: The Battle between Merchants and Governments”).

Ultimately, the enduring popularity of a number system is evident in the creation of secret codes to continue its use illicitly. Brahmagupta and Baudhayana, the architects of numerical concepts, may not have foreseen their profound influence. Regrettably, Baudhayana’s theorem is often attributed to Pythagoras, and Brahmagupta’s pivotal contributions to “Arabic numerals” remain relatively obscure (“Legacy of Mathematical Thought: Baudhayana, Brahmagupta, and the Evolution of Numbers”).

Medicare Acknowledges Family Caregivers: New Initiatives To Support Essential Role

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency overseeing Medicare, has embraced a long-standing truth: families are the cornerstone of care for vulnerable older adults and individuals with disabilities. In a groundbreaking move, CMS has introduced measures to provide crucial assistance to family members involved in caregiving. While some of these proposals hold substantial promise, others are less robust. The pivotal change lies in Medicare’s decision to compensate medical professionals for offering vital guidance to families of individuals with specific medical conditions.

Medicare Advantage and similar managed care models have already incorporated certain forms of support. However, CMS previously maintained that fee-for-service Medicare could solely cover services directed towards beneficiaries, excluding family members in caregiving roles. This stance is now undergoing transformation.

Examining Each Initiative

  1. Caregiver Training

CMS’s initial step involves establishing a billing code to remunerate Medicare providers, which encompass physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and therapists, for training family caregivers. This new payment structure is projected to commence in the upcoming year, encompassing both individual and group training sessions.

The significance of this development cannot be overstated, as family members are often tasked with delivering complex care without adequate training. They are expected to comprehend tasks ranging from wound care to patient transfers without comprehensive instruction. The introduction of training programs is long overdue. However, a pertinent question arises: who will undertake this responsibility? Physicians often lack knowledge of these diverse skills and may lack the time or capability to educate others. Nurses and therapists are more likely to excel in this capacity.

It appears that the proposal envisions training taking place within medical facilities, akin to other Medicare Part B services. This, however, disregards the practical reality. Overburdened caregivers are unlikely to make the journey to medical offices or therapy centers for such training.

A more feasible approach would involve doctors outsourcing this training to community-based organizations, like senior centers or adult day care facilities. A challenge arises here, as these entities are generally not recognized as Medicare providers. Overcoming this hurdle would be crucial for the success of the initiative.

  1. Care Navigation

The second initiative focuses on Medicare compensating health-related social needs assessments and providing assistance with care navigation. This payment rule permits physicians to collaborate with non-medical entities, including community-based social service organizations and community health workers.

This model, however, is initially limited to specific “high-risk conditions.” It’s imperative that CMS adopts an expansive definition of these conditions to ensure the widest possible benefit from needs assessments and care navigation.

  1. Integrated Dementia Care

The third reform targets families caring for individuals with dementia. The Guiding an Improved Dementia Experience (GUIDE) program, slated to begin in a year, seeks to deliver comprehensive care coordination, caregiver education, support, and respite services over an eight-year period.

GUIDE represents a model of fully coordinated care that’s particularly suited to those with chronic conditions. Medicare’s previous reluctance to fund similar integrated care programs for dementia patients has been a stumbling block, but this initiative holds promise to change that.

While the dementia care model appears promising, a question arises: why restrict such a model solely to dementia patients? Medicare should contemplate implementing this approach for all serious chronic conditions.

Recognizing the Role of Family Caregivers

Despite numerous questions surrounding the implementation of these initiatives—such as payment rates, frequency of services, and defining family caregivers—the introduction of these changes by the Biden administration marks a significant leap forward. They have the potential to dismantle major obstacles to effective family caregiving and enable individuals with chronic conditions to age in their homes for a more extended period. Most importantly, these initiatives underscore the critical role of family caregivers in the healthcare ecosystem.

CMS’s decision to incorporate family caregivers into its reimbursement framework and acknowledge their vital contribution is a milestone. These initiatives hold the promise of not only transforming caregiving dynamics but also reinforcing the central role families play in supporting the health and well-being of their loved ones.


Barbie Is The Biggest Movie Of The Year

Barbie is on top of the world. Every week since its release on July 21, it’s broken a record: The year’s biggest opening weekend; the largest opening for a female director everWarner Bros.’ highest grossing domestic release in history, surpassing Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. But now, it’s breaking a big one: Barbie has become the highest-growing movie of 2023 reaching $575.4 million domestically this week, according to Variety

It has already grossed $1.3 billion globally and will soon surpass Super Mario Bros. in its worldwide gross as well.

It’s a big number for any film, but it’s especially significant for Barbie. When I wrote a cover story about the film earlier this year, box office prognosticators initially predicted the movie would make $55 million its opening weekend. It nearly tripled that estimate with a $162 million haul in just those first few days after release. It’s also the first time Warner Bros. has managed to snag the title of biggest release of the year since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.

Will Barbie be topped this year? Probably not. Here’s why and what it may mean for the future of Hollywood movies.

Unfortunately, Hollywood tends to take away the wrong lessons from the success of idiosyncratic films. After The Dark Knight became a blockbuster, Hollywood decided that gritty was always good—even if it didn’t fit the material (think: Snow White and the Huntsman, the body horror Fantastic Four movie, and Zack Snyder’s dark take on Superman, comics’ most hopeful superhero). Avatar’s history-making numbers spawned a trend of films rendered in 3D for no particular reason. And the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe spawned dozens of imitation cinematic universes, like Universal’s failed “Dark Universe” that ended as quickly as it began after Tom Cruise’s (gritty) The Mummy remake bombed.

In this instance, the same logic would follow: a toy movie performed well, so toy movies will inevitably proliferate. Mattel executives told me that they had already planned to build the brand’s own cinematic universe long before Barbie was ever released, but now other studios are rushing to turn toys into films: Hasbro launched a new entertainment division in August.

It’s difficult to imagine any other movie based on a toy ever reaching Barbie’s heights. Barbie is an icon. She has name recognition across the world equal to Mickey Mouse and Coca-Cola. And, sure, Hot Wheels may be popular, but won’t a Hot Wheels movie just be a racing movie, even if J.J. Abrams is at the helm as executive producer?

Mattel certainly isn’t shying away from taking risks: I’m particularly interested in Daniel Kaluuya’s involvement with what sounds like a very meta Barney movie (as in, yes, the big purple dinosaur); whether Lena Dunham can find a quirky take on Polly Pocket; and if a Magic 8 Ball horror movie can actually prove to be scary. And yet just about every girl in the world has played with Barbie at some point and has (often complex) feelings about her. I could be wrong, but I don’t think many people have strong feelings about the Magic 8 Ball.

Beyond Mattel’s film division, other studios are looking for major takeaways. One obvious one, that I’ve argued before: Make movies for women, and audiences will come! Barbie leans heavily into femininity—the assault of pink has been relentless, and yet people seem to have not tired of it. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Randall Park hit the nail on the head: “I feel like, just in general, this industry is taking the wrong lessons. For example, Barbie is this massive blockbuster, and the idea is: Make more movies about toys! No. Make more movies by and about women!”

I fear that even if studios heed Park’s advice, in the short-term that will mean Disney hyping up the fact that The Marvels is a female-fronted superhero film, even though superhero movies have traditionally catered to a young male audience, regardless of who stars in them. Or studios might paint a sheen of pink on other films without stuffing the stories without Gerwig’s complex considerations about male fragility, female frustrations, and whether we can reach a state of equity.

 Gerwig happened to make two masterpieces before Barbie about the complex interiority of women: Lady Bird and Little Women. She found a way to pack considerations she has already articulated beautifully in those films into a blockbuster movie, a feat pulled off by a select few artists. (Ryan Coogler’s interrogation of race in the context of an increasingly globalized world in Black Panther and James Cameron’s blunt but effective advocacy for saving our dying planet in the Avatar films come to mind.) It’s easy to make a blockbuster. It’s hard to make a thoughtful one.

Perhaps most depressing for theater owners: Gerwig’s next project is a series of Narnia movies…for streamer Netflix.

Barbie was special. Credit the Warner Bros. and Mattel marketing teams that partnered with seemingly every clothing line, decor company, and makeup brand on earth to turn our social media timelines pink.

Or praise director Greta Gerwig, who could have made a toy commercial and instead stuffed a fun summer romp with meditations on God and feminism and Sylvester Stallone’s bizarre wardrobe.

Or acknowledge that TikTok played a massive role in turning a rivalry between two movies that could not be more different into the Barbenheimer phenomenon that made moviegoing fun again. Think about how many people spent more than five hours in a movie theater—sometimes in the same day—over the course of a hot summer weekend.

In short, Barbie was fun. And we were all in desperate need of fun. Barbie simply had to be experienced in a theater, ideally with friends, and definitely with a flock of other pink-clad moviegoers.

India Celebrates Praggnanandhaa, Chess Champion

Eighteen-year-old Indian prodigy R Praggnanandhaa could not pull off a repeat of his giant-killing acts of the last few days as fancied Magnus Carlsen beat him in the tie-break to win the in the final of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan last week.  The two classical games on Tuesday and Wednesday had ended in draws, stretching the final into a tie-break.

After a keenly contested first game, the second game was a rather tame affair with Praggnanandhaa falling behind quickly and agreeing to a draw.

Carlsen, who had been under the weather due to food poisoning and did not look at his best in the first classical game, showed why he is so tough to get past with his remarkable comeback in the tie-break.

He ultimately beat Praggnanandhaa 1.5 – 0.5 in the tie-break to win the trophy. Norwegian Grand Master (GM) Carlsen, 32, became a first-time winner of the FIDE World Cup – with which he also retained his No. 1 global rank.

Praggnanandhaa defeated world No. 2 Hikaru Nakamura in the fourth round and eventually went on to shock world No. 3 Fabino Caruana 3.5 – 2.5 via the tie-break in the semifinals on August 21, earning the reputation of a ‘giant killer’.
Former world champion GM Viswanathan Anand had won the FIDE World Cup in 2000 and 2002. But, back then, it was held under a different format.

PM Narendra Modi hailed Praggnanandhaa for his remarkable performance at the FIDE World Cup and said he showcased exceptional skills to give a tough fight to the formidable Magnus Carlsen in the finals. “This is no small feat. Wishing him the very best for his upcoming tournaments,” he added.

Praggnanandhaa, or Pragg as he’s popularly known, made headlines for becoming the world’s youngest player to play in the finals and the third-youngest person to qualify for the Candidates Tournament, putting him in the league of prodigies like Carlsen himself and Bobby Fischer.

The teenager’s achievements have bolstered his reputation in the field. With younger players making a mark, it also signals a “generational shift” in the game itself and that shift “is likely to heavily favour India,” Devangshu Datta, a columnist and Fide-rated chess player wrote in The Times of India.

During this World Cup, four Indian players advanced to the quarterfinals, securing an impressive 50% of the available slots. Currently, there are 21 Indian players who hold positions within the top 100 junior players in the world, all under 20 years of age; among them, four rank in the top 10 and seven in the top 20.

These youngsters “will almost certainly dominate chess for a decade or more,” says Datta. And the theory is a plausible one, because thousands of young Indians are now playing chess – a trend that began in the 2000s after Anand’s victories made headlines – and has since steadily picked up speed.

Smartphones and cheap internet access have made it easy for children to hone their skills through apps and online tournaments, while basic chess coaching is easily available as well. This is significantly different from the way things stood even a couple of decades ago.

“For Indians players who arrived on the scene even two decades after Anand, access to regular training under a GM (Grandmaster) was almost inconceivable,” notes sports writer Susan Ninan in The Indian Express.

Picture: HT

HMNI’s Gyroscopic Radiosurgery® For The Brain To Shorten Time From Diagnosis To Treatment

The Dr. Robert H. and Mary Ellen Harris ZAP-X Center for Noninvasive Neurosurgery, situated within the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute of Jersey Shore University Medical Center, is on the brink of introducing a groundbreaking advancement in medical technology. 

The center is poised to unveil the world’s inaugural ZAP-X® Gyroscopic Radiosurgery®, in conjunction with Synaptive’s noiseless brain MRI, specifically designed for treating brain tumors and various brain-related ailments, including trigeminal neuralgia and arteriovenous malformations (AVM). Marking a significant milestone, this academic medical institution will pioneer the utilization of ZAP-X, become the first hospital in the Northeastern United States to provide Synaptive’s head-only MRI, and hold the distinction of being the sole global facility to combine these innovative technologies. The integration of these two cutting-edge technologies promises to substantially reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment.

ZAP Surgical

Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, the CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, emphasized the organization’s commitment to enhancing patient care through the adoption of advanced technologies, stating, “Having the latest advancements in technology to treat our patients is part of how Hackensack Meridian Health keeps getting better.” He further acknowledged the significance of the introduction of ZAP-X Gyroscopic Radiosurgery and Synaptive MRI, not only in providing superior care to the communities within New Jersey but also in solidifying the network’s reputation as a leading healthcare provider.

The innovative technology is set to become operational at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ, with the generous support of Mary Ellen Harris and the Golden Dome Foundation. Shabbar Danish, M.D., the chair of neurosurgery at the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, expressed excitement about bringing this advanced form of cranial radiosurgery to patients. Dr. Danish highlighted ZAP-X’s potential as a powerful tool in non-invasively treating brain tumors and other cranial conditions. He envisioned a future where this technology becomes an industry standard, significantly benefiting patients through effective, non-invasive, and timely treatment options.

ZAP-X represents just one of the many state-of-the-art tools available at Hackensack Meridian Health for combating both benign and metastatic tumors. While ZAP-X is tailored specifically for brain-related conditions, the network is adept at employing similar radiosurgery techniques, including CyberKnife, Gamma Knife, and proton therapy. Additionally, the Hackensack Meridian John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) is gearing up to introduce Scintix™ by Reflexion, an innovative therapy for patients primarily afflicted with metastatic cancer. 

This groundbreaking technology harnesses continuously updated data throughout treatment sessions to precisely deliver radiotherapy. This will be combined with precision medicine or customized treatments, offering new options for patients that were previously unavailable. JTCC is one of only seven institutions worldwide to adopt this technology and is poised to revolutionize radiation oncology in New Jersey.

The ZAP-X and Synaptive MRI equipment is currently being installed at the Dr. Robert H. and Mary Ellen Harris ZAP-X Center for Noninvasive Neurosurgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. The Neuroscience Institute is gearing up to commence patient treatments with this groundbreaking technology in the upcoming fall season.

For individuals seeking more information about ZAP-X and Synaptive MRI, as well as other available treatments, comprehensive details are available on the institution’s official website.

As for the Hackensack Meridian Neuroscience Institute, it stands as the preeminent and most comprehensive Neuroscience Institute in New Jersey. Encompassing neurology and neurosurgery programs across three academic medical centers—Hackensack University Medical Center, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, and JFK University Medical Center—the Neuroscience Institute’s prominence extends nationwide. 

The Institute has earned various accolades, including Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) being ranked #22 for neurology and neurosurgery by US News and World Report. All Neuroscience Institute centers have secured the prestigious Comprehensive Stroke Center designation from the Joint Commission. The Institute boasts specialized Centers of Excellence in ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, and Cranial Surgery. The Institute has garnered additional recognitions for excellence from Healthgrades, the Joint Commission, and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. 

The Institute stands at the forefront of neurological technology with advanced features like High Intensity Focused Ultrasound, Quicktome brain mapping, and Surgical Theater augmented reality for brain surgery—exclusive offerings within New Jersey. Soon, the Neuroscience Institute will take another stride by offering Zap-X Radiosurgery with Synaptive MRI, enabling non-invasive treatment for brain tumors and other brain conditions within as little as a week from diagnosis, an unparalleled accomplishment on the global stage.

Haley Vs. Ramaswamy: For The First Time, 2 Indian-Americans Spar In GOP Debate

For the first time in the history of the US, two Indian-American presidential candidates locked horns over the country’s foreign policy in the Republican party’s first presidential debate.

On Wednesday, Nikki Haley, 51, accused Vivek Ramaswamy, 38, of supporting America’s foreign adversaries and abandoning its friends, and said that her GOP rival lacked foreign policy experience.

Asserting that a win for Russia is a win for China, Haley said that Ukraine is the first line of defence for the US, which Ramaswamy doesn’t understand and wants to handover Kiev to Moscow.

“The problem that Vivek Ramaswamy doesn’t understand is he wants to hand Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and stop funding Israel,” Haley said.

“You don’t do that to friends. What you do instead is you have the backs of your friends,” Hely said even as Ramaswamy interrupted her on and off, calling her accusations false.

Ramaswamy, who was the only presidential candidate to raise hand when Fox News moderators asked who would not keep supporting Ukraine, argued the US should focus on protecting its own border first.

Stating that Haley was “pushing this lie” about him, Ramaswamy accused her of backing Ukraine at the behest of defence contractors. “I wish you well in your future career on the boards of Lockheed (Martin) and Raytheon,” Ramaswamy told Haley.

The youngest presidential-hopeful had recently unveiled his foreign policy vision at the Nixon Presidential Library, which called for less involvement in foreign affairs that do not directly concern the US.

“I do not want to get to the point where we are sending our military resources abroad, when we could be better using them here at home to protect our borders, protect my homeland,” Ramaswamy said at the debate.

Haley said Ramaswamy is choosing Russian President Vladimir Putin who has said that once they take over Ukraine Baltic states are the next.

“That’s a World War we are trying to prevent… You are choosing a murderer over a pro-American country,” Haley blasted Ramaswamy in a heated exchange of words, warning that Ramaswamy’s moves could cost America’s security.

Earlier, another GOP rival Chris Christie tore into Ramaswamy during the debate, calling him an “amateur” Obama, and sounding like a ChatGPT. (IANS)

Loss Of Antarctic Ice Hurting Survival Of Emperor Penguin Chicks

(AP) — The loss of ice in one region of Antarctica last year likely resulted in none of the emperor penguin chicks surviving in four colonies, researchers reported Thursday.

Emperor penguins hatch their eggs and raise their chicks on the ice that forms around the continent each Antarctic winter and melts in the summer months.

Researchers used satellite imagery to look at breeding colonies in a region near Antarctica’s Bellingshausen Sea. The images showed no ice was left there in December during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, as had occurred in 2021.

Researchers said it is likely that no chicks survived in four of the five breeding colonies they examined. Penguin chicks don’t develop their adult waterproof feathers until close to the time they usually fledge, in late December or January, scientists say.

“If the sea ice breaks up under them, the young chicks will drown or freeze to death,” said Peter Fretwell, a researcher at the British Antarctic Survey and co-author of the study published Thursday in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.

FILE – Emperor penguin chicks stand together in Antarctica on Dec. 21, 2005. The loss of ice in a region near Antarctica’s Bellingshausen Sea in 2022 likely resulted in none of the emperor penguin chicks surviving in four colonies in that area, researchers reported Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Nature Communications Earth and Environment. (Zhang Zongtang/Xinhua via AP, File)

Overall, the ice around Antarctica reached near record low levels last year. The researchers say that climate change will make such losses more frequent in the future.

Fretwell’s team has also completed a preliminary analysis of known nesting sites — visible in satellite photos because of colored guano, or poop stains, left on white ice — across Antarctica, the only continent where the emperor penguin lives. There are about 300,000 breeding pairs left of the world’s largest penguins.

Of 62 known penguin colonies, around 30% were harmed by low sea-ice levels last year — and 13 likely failed entirely, Fretwell said. “That this could happen doesn’t shock me, but I’m shocked that it has happened already. I thought it would be further down the line,” said Daniel Zitterbart, a researcher who studies Antarctica for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, but was not involved in the new paper.

If penguins aren’t successful breeding in one location, they may look for another site the next year, he said. While it’s possible for the population to recover from one or two bad breeding years, he’s worried about the future. “If you look further out down the line, how many suitable places will be left?” he asked.

69th National Film Awards 2023: Alia Bhatt-Kriti Sanon Celebrate The Win, Allu Arjun Says ‘Honored And Humbled’

Pushpa The Rise, Sardar Udham, Chhelo Show, RRR, The Kashmir Files and Gangubai Kathiawadi emerged as some of the winners at the National Film Awards announced on Thursday last week by the 69th National Film Awards 2023 Committee in India.

While Allu Arjun bagged the Best Actor award for the film Pushpa: The Rise, Alia Bhatt and Kriti Sanon shared the award for Best Actress for the films Gangubai Kathiawadi and Mimi respectively. Rocketry: The Nambi Effect won the award for Best Feature Film. The Kashmir Files won the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Film on National Integration at the 69th National Film Awards.

Shoojit Sircar’s biographical historical drama Sardar Udham won several awards at the 69th National Film Awards. Apart from being named the Best Hindi Film, it also bagged Best Cinematography (Avik Mukhopadhyay), Best Audiography (Sinoy Joseph), Best Production Design (Dmitrii Malich and Mansi Dhruv Mehta) and Best Costume Design (Veera Kapur Ee) awards.

National Film Awards are the most prestigious awards, which are announced annually to honour the best filmmaking talent across the country. According to the Directorate of Film Festivals of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the National Film Awards “aim at encouraging the production of films of aesthetic and technical excellence and social relevance.”

The awards were first handed out in 1954 and were known as the ‘State Awards’. At the time, only best films in different regional languages were recognised and awarded. The awards for actors and technicians working on the films were first given in 1967. Nargis was the first actor to win Best Actress for her performance in Raat Aur Din. Uttam Kumar won the Best Actor award for Antony Firingee and Chiriyakhana in the same year.

At the 68th National Film Awards, Tamil film Soorarai Pottru won in five categories – Best Feature Film, Best Actor for Suriya, Best Actress for Aparna Balamurali, Best Music Direction (Score) for G V Prakash Kumar, and Best Original Screenplay for Sudha Kongara, who also directed the film. Suriya shared his Best Actor win with Ajay Devgn, who won the awards for Tanhaji. Asha Parekh was honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 2022.

Surprising Picks for India’s 2023 ODI World Cup Squad Announced

With the 2023 ODI World Cup set to take place in India from October 5 to November 19, cricket enthusiasts are eagerly anticipating an exhilarating display of skill and entertainment. The focus will undoubtedly be on the host nation, which, despite consistently fielding a formidable team, has faced disappointment by failing to clinch an ICC trophy since 2013.

Over the years, India has repeatedly come close to securing another coveted ICC title, only to stumble at the semi-final hurdle. One persistent issue has been their middle-order dilemma. The middle-order batsmen have often faltered during crucial moments, eliciting substantial criticism. This problem was evident in the T20 World Cup last year, where India’s journey came to an end in the semi-finals, succumbing to eventual champions, England.

Matthew Hayden, the former Australian cricketer, weighed in on the upcoming World Cup by unveiling his own India squad selections. Hayden’s choices included a few unexpected inclusions. He listed five batters: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, and Suryakumar Yadav. Additionally, he opted for three wicket-keepers: KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, and Sanju Samson.

Drawing from his extensive experience as a two-time World Cup victor, Hayden identified his trio of all-rounders as Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel. Jadeja and Axar would also serve as spin bowling options. Furthermore, his selections for seam bowlers encompassed Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, and Shardul Thakur. An intriguing omission from Hayden’s roster was Kuldeep Yadav, who had secured a spot in the Asia Cup squad. Also noteworthy was the inclusion of the sidelined Sanju Samson.

Delving deeper into his analysis of India’s challenges in ICC tournaments, Hayden shared his insights during an interview with PTI. He remarked, “The issue certainly isn’t rooted in skill. Thus, it becomes a matter of both seizing opportunities and adopting the right mindset. 

Cricket occupies a central place in the Indian way of life, representing the very DNA of sports and facing limited competition from other pursuits. Contrarily, in Australia, I could stroll down the street without being readily recognized, especially with my rather unkempt beard and cap (chuckles). Our nation also boasts a plethora of competitive sports apart from cricket—rugby, football, water sports, surfing, and outdoor activities. In India, however, the focus remains largely insular, accompanied by a considerable amount of pressure.”

As the anticipation for the 2023 ODI World Cup intensifies, former Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden has presented an intriguing perspective on India’s potential squad composition. Hayden’s choices, while surprising in some instances, reflect his strategic insights into building a robust team for the tournament. 

Moreover, his assessment of the challenges faced by the Indian cricketing ecosystem sheds light on the unique pressures and expectations that surround the sport in the country. Cricket’s significance in India’s cultural fabric is undeniable, shaping not only the players’ performance but also the collective mindset of a nation that holds the sport in unparalleled esteem.


Firearm-Related Deaths Concentrate In The Americas

In a comprehensive study, it has been revealed that a significant portion of firearm-related fatalities in the year 2016 were concentrated in six nations located in the Americas. These nations include Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala. The findings underscore the critical issue of gun violence as a severe public health crisis, prompting a need for heightened awareness and intervention. The study, which assessed mortality data from 1990 to 2016 across 195 countries and territories globally, spotlighted the grave impact of gun-related incidents on communities.

Brazil stood out with the highest number of gun-related deaths, with over 43,000 individuals losing their lives due to firearm injuries in 2016. The United States followed closely, reporting 37,200 gun-related deaths during the same period. Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala were among the countries with the highest gun death tolls. Collectively, these six nations accounted for a staggering 50.5% of the quarter-million firearm-related deaths in 2016. This statistic encompasses various causes of gun fatalities, including homicides, suicides, and accidental injuries.


Dr. Mohsen Naghavi, the lead author of the study, emphasized the magnitude of the gun violence crisis, stating, “Gun violence is one of the greatest public health crises of our time.” This statement was made upon the study’s release in August of that year. The study’s focus on a wide range of countries and territories offered insights into the global prevalence of firearm-related deaths.

Delving into regional trends, the study pinpointed El Salvador as the country with the highest gun death rate per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016. The complexities of the Latin American region’s high homicide and violent crime rates are multifaceted, varying across different locales. For instance, a 2016 report from the Inter-American Development Bank identified four key factors influencing crime rates in the region’s cities: economic deprivation, residential instability, disruptions in family structures, school absenteeism, and demographic composition, as well as alcohol consumption.

The study unearthed that nearly two-thirds of global gun deaths in 2016 resulted from homicides, while slightly over a quarter were attributed to suicides, and less than 10% were categorized as accidental injuries due to firearms. This underscores the predominant role of homicides in contributing to firearm-related fatalities. A striking observation was that in 2016, nearly 90% of those killed by guns were men. Moreover, the age group most affected by firearm-related deaths was individuals aged 20 to 24. This demographic experienced the highest number of fatalities, with young men constituting the majority of victims.

Assessing whether the situation had improved over time, the study presented a nuanced perspective. While the absolute number of deaths from firearm injuries increased from 209,000 in 1990 to 251,000 in 2016, there was a slight decrease in the overall death rate during the same period. However, except for 1994 – the year of the Rwandan genocide – firearm-related deaths consistently surpassed deaths caused by global conflict and terrorism in every other year. The sobering reality of nearly 700 daily deaths resulting from firearm-related injuries underscores the pressing need for substantial progress in curbing gun violence.

The study’s revelations highlight the concentrated nature of firearm-related deaths in a handful of countries in the Americas. This pattern underscores the urgent need for comprehensive interventions to address the alarming public health crisis posed by gun violence. The study’s global scope further emphasizes the significance of this issue across different regions and cultures. While incremental progress has been made, the high prevalence of firearm-related deaths, especially among young men, necessitates sustained efforts to create safer communities worldwide.

Explaining the Hindu divide at the Parliament of the World’s Religions

It shouldn’t be hard to see why fusing of religious and national identity causes anxiety and fear.

Hindu Leader Removed From Parliament Of World’s Religions For Links To Hindutva

The Parliament of the World’s Religions has quietly removed Hindu religious leader Nivedita Bhide from its list of speakers at this week’s conference in Chicago after activists raised concerns over her links to Hindu nationalism.

MEE first reported last week that anger was growing over Bhide’s inclusion at the event over her links with the far right, but also her history of spreading Islamophobic disinformation about minorities in India, including Muslims and Christians.

A source familiar with the issue at the parliament confirmed to MEE on Wednesday that Bhide, the vice president of Vivekananda Kendra, a Hindu nationalist social service and “nation-building” organisation, had been removed due to her affiliations and her Islamophobic social media posts.

Earlier this week, Bhide, who was scheduled to address a plenary session at the conference on 16 August, was no longer listed as a featured luminary on the Parliament of the World’s Religions program.

Vivekananda Kendra also did not respond to MEE’s requests for comment.

Rasheed Ahmed, the executive director of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), welcomed the decision, but said it was worrying that Bhide had been invited in the first place.

“It raises a concern if there are other speakers who similarly profess or normalise Hindu supremacist ideologies while invoking diversity and other seemingly progressive and cultural symbolism,” Ahmed told MEE.

A history of Islamophobia

In 2017, Bhide was awarded India’s fourth highest civilian award by the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Activists said that she has routinely shared the rhetoric of right-wing Hindu nationalists who demonise prominent Indian activists.

 Targets have included Afreen Fatima, a researcher and activist, Washington Post columnist Rana Ayyub, and the late Christian priest, Father Stan Swamy.

Bhide has also been seen participating in events either hosted or endorsed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu paramilitary organisation that aims to turn India into a Hindu state. She actively reposts disinformation, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia on social media.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions describes itself as “cultivating harmony among the world’s spiritual traditions and fosters their engagement with guiding institutions in order to achieve a more peaceful, just and sustainable world”.

Ahead of this year’s convention, titled A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom & Human Rights, programme director Phyllis Curott said the parliament was “uniting in a collective, courageous and clear reply to the most dangerous crisis confronting us today – authoritarianism”.

California’s Caste Bill Passes Key Hurdle With 50-3 Assembly Vote

Senate Bill 403 exposed a rift among members of the South Asian American community over the prevalence of caste-based discrimination in the United States.

(RNS) — A contentious bill that would declare caste as a protected category under California’s existing anti-discrimination law was passed by the state’s Assembly in a bipartisan 50-3 vote Monday evening (Aug. 28), with 27 members abstaining. The legislation, which had already passed the state Senate, is expected to become law with the governor’s signature.

Known as Senate Bill 403, or SB403, the bill was originally introduced by Sen. Aisha Wahab in February and will revise California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, education and housing codes by adding caste as a protected category under “ancestry.” 

Senate Bill 403 became a national cause that exposed a rift among members of the South Asian American community over the prevalence of caste-based discrimination in the United States.

While many South Asians agree that caste has an impact on many lives across the diaspora in the United States, some feel that explicitly outlawing caste discrimination only serves to reaffirm caste differences among, and prejudice against, the U.S. Hindu community. A vocal group who opposed the bill argued that the caste system has been unfairly equated with the Hindu religion in the American imagination.

As a result of monthslong protests from Hindu advocacy organizations that followed the bill as it moved through the California Legislature, SB403 now contains no explicit mentions of South Asia or Hinduism.

On Monday, Equality Labs, a civil rights organization dedicated to Dalit advocacy and the bill’s co-sponsor, released a statement celebrating the effort to raise awareness of caste-based discrimination to the legislative stage.

“SB403, at its core, is an anti-discrimination bill and does not target any religious or cultural groups; that would directly go against the bill’s very nature,” the statement says. “There is no underlying agenda or controversy surrounding the legislation. People of all faiths, backgrounds, and nationalities have peacefully united to advocate for SB403 — creating a truly stunning response to the international call for caste equity.”

The lights of the state Capitol glow into the night in Sacramento, Calif., Aug. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The Ambedkar King Study Circle, named after the social reformer and drafter of the Indian Constitution, B.R. Ambedkar, posted a statement on X, formerly Twitter: “This monumental bill puts an end to caste discrimination, extending legal protection to all facing caste oppression. A huge step towards equality and justice”

The Ambedkar International Center called it “a defeat for the caste deniers.”

Hindus for Human Rights, a Hindu advocacy organization that is vocal about the issue of caste bias, said in a statement: “On the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, Dr. King’s dream takes one more step into reality.”

But while many celebrated what they see as a win for marginalized South Asian communities, some opponents are still dissatisfied with the bill’s passage, especially in light of what they say is unsubstantiated evidence of caste discrimination in the U.S.

Suhag Shukla, executive director of the Hindu American Foundation, which led the charge against the bill, released a statement saying, “Fifty California legislators chose to side with anti-Hindu hate groups rather than showing moral courage and upholding the Constitution. When a state legislator pushes a law with the intent of targeting an ethnic community, it’s not only racist, it’s unconstitutional.”

The Coalition of Hindus of North America also bemoaned “the passing of a bill which is NOT facially neutral and written to specifically target Hindu Americans,” calling it “the latest in a long line of unjust bills, (such as the Asian Exclusion Act), which were popular at the time of their passing and were used to target minorities of color.”

In recent years, colleges and universities began adding caste to their list of differences, along with race and sexuality and gender identity, that were protected against bias. Brandeis University banned caste discrimination over complaints from some Hindus in 2019; the California State University system added caste to its nondiscrimination policy in early 2022.

In June 2020, an unnamed Indian-origin Cisco employee accused two of his managers of passing him over for a promotion. California’s Civil Rights Department sued the two defendants in a yearslong case that ended when it was dismissed due to lack of evidence.  

More recently, 12 of the complainants in a 2021 lawsuit that alleged forced labor among “lower-caste” artisans on the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple of Robbinsville, New Jersey, retracted their claims, saying they were coerced into making false allegations of caste discrimination. 

The amended California bill will now return to the Senate for a floor vote, then will be sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom. “We will explore every option to protect the rights of Hindu Californians,” said Shukla.

BRICS Expands From 5 To 11 Nations

Leaders of the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — decided last week to expand the grouping and admit six new members. Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Egypt, Ethiopia and Argentina will become part of BRICS with effect from January 1, 2024.

BRICS expands from 5 to 11, Modi says it’s a message to all global bodies

There are about 23 countries which have formally applied so far for membership of the grouping.

At a joint media briefing in Johannesburg, South African President and Summit host Cyril Ramaphosa, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said, “We have consensus on the first phase of this BRICS expansion process…

“We have decided to invite Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to become full members of BRICS.  We value the interests of other countries in building partnership with BRICS and have tasked our Foreign Ministers to further develop the BRICS partnership model and list of prospective countries (which want to join the grouping),” Ramaphosa said.


He said the decision on the new members was agreed upon after firming up the guiding principles, criteria and procedure for the expansion process. There are about 23 countries which have formally applied so far for membership of the grouping.

Prime Minister Modi, in a tweet, said, “On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of BRICS, we have taken the decision to expand this forum. India has always fully supported this expansion. Such an expansion will make BRICS stronger and more effective. In that spirit, India welcomes Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE into the BRICS family.”

He said the “expansion and modernisation” of BRICS is a message that all institutions in the world need to mould themselves according to changing times.

“India has always fully supported the expansion of the BRICS membership. India has been of the view that the addition of new members will further strengthen BRICS as an organisation, and give a new impetus to all our common endeavours,” he said.

Modi said the decision to expand the bloc will further strengthen the faith of many countries in the multipolar world order.

The BRICS, in its declaration, said, “We have decided to invite the Argentine Republic, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to become full members of BRICS from 1 January 2024.”

The grouping was formed in September 2006 and it originally comprised Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). It was renamed as BRICS after South Africa was accepted as a full member in September 2010.

At present, the BRICS represents 41 per cent of the global population, 24 per cent of the global GDP and 16 per cent of the global trade.

Chinese President Xi described the expansion of BRICS as a “new starting point” for cooperation in the grouping. “It will bring new vigour to the BRICS cooperation mechanism, further strengthening a force for world peace and development,” he said.

Speaking via virtual mode, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the expansion.

Ramaphosa said, “Through this Summit, BRICS has embarked on a new chapter in its effort to build a world that is fair, a world that is just, a world that is also inclusive and prosperous.”

He said the BRICS is ready to explore opportunities for improving the “stability, reliability and fairness of the global financial architecture”.

This strategic move aims to bolster the economic prowess and global influence of the BRICS bloc, countering the influence of the United States and its Western allies. The expansion carries noteworthy implications in terms of augmenting trade participation and political representation for the member nations. Notably, India stands to gain from this expansion due to its escalating prominence within the group.

This expansion, however, raises pertinent questions about the bloc’s political aspirations and its capacity to effectively advocate for the interests of the Global South. The inclusion of the six new members underscores the BRICS’ evolving nature, potentially shifting its initial economic focus towards broader geopolitical ambitions.

Initially coined by British economist Jim O’Neill, the BRICS acronym underscored emerging investment opportunities rather than political objectives. The establishment of the BRICS in 2014, which later incorporated South Africa, centered on fostering economic engagement. However, the subsequent additions suggest a broader vision, which may divert the bloc from its original purpose.

While the expansion of the BRICS appears promising on the surface, it carries inherent complexities. The decision-making process within such a diverse coalition is fraught with challenges. Prior to this expansion, the bloc already grappled with differing foreign policy and economic goals among its founding members. The inclusion of nations with distinct economies and geopolitical stances could exacerbate these existing challenges.

For instance, India’s evolving relationship with Western powers and its well-known tensions with China highlight the disagreements within the group. Furthermore, while the intention to expand the BRICS is evident and several countries have expressed interest, the bloc’s overarching vision remains unclear. This lack of clarity poses a significant threat to the group’s ability to maintain unity and exert influence.

Projected to collectively account for $27.6 trillion in GDP, representing 26.3% of the global total, the initial BRICS members are set to welcome the new entrants, elevating the anticipated GDP to $30.8 trillion, with a 29.3% share of the global market.

The strength of the BRICS alliance has traditionally rested on its significant share of the world’s population, largely attributed to China and India, the only two countries with populations exceeding one billion. Notably, the alliance’s demographic weight will increase further with the inclusion of Ethiopia, boasting a population of 126.5 million, and Egypt, with 112.7 million residents.

A prominent question surrounds the potential for the BRICS to achieve “de-dollarization.” Despite claims of reducing dependence on the US dollar, the BRICS’ own New Development Bank, established to rival Western institutions like the IMF, remains significantly tied to the dollar. A comprehensive shift away from the dollar would necessitate a radical transformation of the entire financial ecosystem, which has relied on the dollar for decades.

While some member nations, such as Russia, have initiated trade in alternative currencies, a complete overhaul seems distant. Additionally, while the integration of affluent oil-producing nations contributes financial assets, a cohesive economic strategy demands more than just monetary input. Achieving cohesion involves sharing a vision, purpose, and compatible economic strategies, elements that the BRICS alliance has historically struggled to unify.

Despite the apparent benefits of BRICS’ rapid expansion, challenges accompanying such growth should not be overlooked. While attaining supremacy in the global commodities market holds promise, it does not automatically translate into geopolitical significance or an immediate shift away from the US dollar. Many of the participating countries maintain substantial economic ties with the West, making a swift separation difficult and potentially detrimental to their own economies.

Furthermore, although there is growing public interest in commodities, as evidenced by increased Google searches, this doesn’t always correlate with a genuine comprehension or willingness to deviate from existing trade norms. Hastily altering global economic institutions without well-defined strategies can result in economic instability.

The expanded membership of the BRICS alliance undoubtedly has the potential to reshape global economic discourse. However, this potential is countered by inherent challenges arising from the diverse economic objectives, geopolitical affiliations, and historical conflicts among the member nations. To truly challenge Western dominance and the supremacy of the US dollar, the BRICS bloc requires not only expansion but also cohesion, a clearly defined vision, and time.

According to a Reuters report, more than 40 nations have expressed their interest in joining the BRICS alliance. Among them, a subset of 16 countries has formally submitted applications for membership, including Algeria, Cuba, Indonesia, Palestine, and Vietnam.

Republican Presidential Debate Showcases Standout Performances By Vivek & Hailey

The initial Republican presidential debate proved to be a lively event, as eight contenders engaged in heated discussions and exchanges. Despite concerns that the absence of the charismatic showman, Donald Trump, might render the debate dull, it was anything but lackluster.

The group of rivals, assembled in Wisconsin, demonstrated their capacity to generate excitement without relying on Trump’s presence. Within this competitive atmosphere, certain candidates emerged as strong contenders, while others seemed to fade into the background. Here’s an overview of the winners and losers from the debate.


Vivek Ramaswamy: In a surprising turn of events, a political novice with no prior experience in public office, and who had abstained from voting for presidents from 2004 to 2020, took center stage during the Republican debate. Sporting a wide grin and a sharp wit, Ramaswamy appeared to be the sole candidate genuinely enjoying the proceedings. His lack of political baggage allowed him to deflect criticism from fellow contenders, insinuating that Christie was auditioning for a left-leaning news channel, and Haley’s positions on Ukraine were aimed at securing positions on defense contractor boards.

“I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for,” Ramaswamy boldly asserted during a discussion on climate change, which sparked outrage among his opponents. Ramaswamy consistently positioned himself as an outsider amidst a sea of establishment insiders, championing unconventional views such as advocating Ukraine to cede territory to Russia, deploying military force to secure the US-Mexico border, and prohibiting US firms from engaging with China.

While his stances may diverge significantly from the Republican Party’s mainstream, Ramaswamy proved that even audacious and seemingly impractical policy proposals can garner attention, as demonstrated by Trump in 2016. Despite potential limitations in challenging Trump’s nomination, Ramaswamy’s performance guaranteed his influence in the upcoming months.

Mike Pence: A seasoned politician with a history as a congressman, governor, and vice-president, Pence showcased his remaining political vigor during the debate. Although his presidential campaign has encountered challenges, being disliked by both Trump supporters and critics, his experience on the debate stage served him well. Pence immediately went on the offensive, criticizing Ramaswamy’s inexperience and asserting that “now is not the time for on-the-job training.” He fervently advocated for nationwide abortion restrictions, a stance likely to resonate with evangelical Republicans, who wield significant influence in pivotal states like Iowa and South Carolina.

When the topic shifted to Trump, Pence had the final say, highlighting his prioritization of the Constitution on January 6, 2021, by refusing to overturn the election results as per Trump’s wishes. This stance garnered support from some of his rivals. While Pence’s campaign still faces challenges, his debate performance illustrated why he was once considered a promising presidential candidate among conservative Republicans.

Nikki Haley: The former US ambassador to the UN consistently defies expectations. Never defeated in any race for office, even when facing established Republican contenders for the South Carolina governorship, Haley continued her streak during the debate. She stood out by delivering early and pointed criticisms of both Trump and the Republican Party as a whole.

“Republicans did this to you too,” Haley remarked while discussing the substantial US budget deficit. She emphasized the need to curtail spending and borrowing. \

Turning her attention to the former president, Haley labeled Trump as the “most disliked politician in America,” cautioning that the Republican Party’s fortunes would suffer as a consequence. Haley exhibited her readiness for a fight, engaging in debates with Ramaswamy over continuing US aid to Ukraine and challenging Pence’s calls for a national abortion ban as unrealistic and politically damaging.

Even if she fails to surge ahead in the current race, Haley’s debate performance could position her for future presidential bids in election years not dominated by a former president.

Middle of the Pack

Tim Scott and Chris Christie: Christie adhered to expectations by adopting a confrontational tone, taking jabs at Trump and Ramaswamy while displaying a spirited and combative attitude. Yet, his criticisms of Ramaswamy and his comments about the political neophyte resembling “ChatGPT” failed to resonate with the audience.

Tim Scott’s conciliatory demeanor positioned him above the fray during the most heated exchanges. While this approach may not attract a substantial voter base, it could enhance his prospects as a potential vice-presidential candidate for Trump.


Ron DeSantis: Initially projected to be a strong contender alongside Trump, the Florida governor’s poll numbers have dwindled since the beginning of the year. DeSantis failed to revitalize his campaign during the debate, remaining largely absent during pivotal moments. While his performance wasn’t disastrous, Ramaswamy overshadowed him, and rivals like Pence and Haley dominated discussions on abortion and US aid to Ukraine. His uncertain footing during discussions about Trump and recent indictments further highlighted his struggles. DeSantis’ inability to close the gap with Trump demonstrated that he has become a marginal player despite past expectations of his prominence within the Republican Party.

Asa Hutchinson and Doug Burgum: Hutchinson barely qualified for the Milwaukee debate, and Burgum secured his position through an unconventional campaign gimmick. Both candidates needed to prove their worth but failed to stand out. Hutchinson’s criticisms of Trump paled in comparison to Christie’s sharper attacks, and Burgum’s modest, small-state conservatism didn’t capture attention. With stricter qualification standards for the next debate, neither candidate demonstrated the necessary support to secure another appearance on the stage.

The Republican presidential debate showcased a dynamic atmosphere with candidates engaging in fervent exchanges. Ramaswamy’s unexpected prominence as a political newcomer, Pence’s revival of vigor, and Haley’s resilience against expectations were notable highlights. Candidates like Christie and Scott occupied the middle ground, while DeSantis, Hutchinson, and Burgum faltered. This debate marked an early juncture in the campaign, offering a glimpse of the evolving landscape of the Republican nomination race.

President Biden To Join G-20 Leaders In India To Address Global Challenges

US President Joe Biden is set to make his way to India from September 7 to 10 to participate in the G-20 Leaders’ Summit, an event aimed at tackling a variety of pressing worldwide issues. During this summit, President Biden will engage with fellow leaders in discussions encompassing critical topics, including the ongoing Ukraine conflict, as revealed by the White House on Tuesday.

The White House disclosed that President Biden plans to commend the leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi within the G20 framework. This accolade underscores the significance of India’s role as the host country for the upcoming G20 world leaders’ summit scheduled for September 9 and 10 in New Delhi.


This event is anticipated to bring together a notable assembly of global leaders, marking one of India’s most prominent diplomatic efforts. Having assumed the G20 Presidency on December 1, 2022, India took over this mantle from Indonesia.

At the forthcoming summit, President Biden will be actively engaging with his G20 counterparts in a dialogue aimed at addressing a diverse range of shared challenges. Among these issues, the focus will encompass collaborative efforts towards the clean energy transition, a critical element in the fight against climate change. The G20 partners will also be dedicating discussions to devise strategies for managing the socio-economic repercussions of the ongoing Ukraine conflict.

Highlighting the importance of global financial institutions, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized the intent to bolster the capacity of multilateral development banks, including the renowned World Bank.

The goal is to enhance their effectiveness in eradicating poverty while simultaneously addressing the overarching global issues at hand. The discussions are expected to delve into innovative approaches to harnessing these institutions for tackling the intertwined challenges of poverty and global crisis.

As President Biden makes his presence felt in New Delhi, he will extend appreciation towards Prime Minister Modi for his stewardship of the G20. Furthermore, this visit will serve to reaffirm the United States’ unwavering commitment to the G20 as the primary platform for international economic cooperation. An additional testament to this commitment comes in the form of the United States’ decision to host the G20 summit in the year 2026.

In consonance with these developments, Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser at the White House, indicated that President Biden’s conversations with his counterparts during the summit sidelines will revolve around several core themes. High on the agenda will be the issue of climate change, reflecting the urgency of global efforts to combat this existential challenge.

Equally pressing is the topic of Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine, a situation that continues to elicit significant international concern. These engagements reaffirm the collective resolve of the G20 nations to collaborate in finding solutions to the world’s most formidable challenges.

President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to India for the G-20 Leaders’ Summit signifies a critical juncture for global diplomacy. The summit’s agenda underscores the importance of united efforts in addressing complex issues such as climate change and the ongoing Ukraine conflict. President Biden’s participation further reinforces the United States’ commitment to the G20 framework as a cornerstone of international cooperation, both through his commendation of Prime Minister Modi’s leadership and the nation’s future role in hosting the summit. The summit serves as a reminder that in a world characterized by interconnected challenges, collaborative endeavors among global leaders remain paramount.

A Solo Victory India Achieved In The Lunar Race

In recent weeks, a celestial competition took place, as both India and Russia raced to be the first nation to achieve a lunar landing in the moon’s southern polar region. On the 14th of July, India’s spacecraft, Chandrayaan-3, took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, carrying a lander weighing 1,726 kg, housing a 26 kg rover. Following this, Russia launched its Luna 25 lander, weighing 1,750 kg, on the 9th of August from the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Eventually, on August 23rd, India emerged as the victor, with Chandrayaan-3 gently touching down in the polar terrain at 8:34 AM ET. S. Somanath, the head of ISRO, exclaimed, “We have achieved a soft landing on the moon,” celebrating the successful endeavor. Prime Minister Narendra Modi echoed this sentiment, stating, “This success belongs to all of humanity. And it will help moon missions by other countries in the future.”

The fact that India and Russia were in a competitive race despite India’s 26-day lead was due to ISRO’s strategy of taking a leisurely five-week trajectory, maneuvering through multiple orbits around Earth before reaching lunar proximity. In contrast, Russia’s Luna 25 embarked on a quicker trajectory, aimed at reaching the moon in under two weeks, with both planned for landing around August 23rd.

DEccan Harald

However, a twist occurred. Luna 25 entered lunar orbit on August 16th but crashed into the lunar surface on August 20th after an engine firing mishap. Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, conveyed that the spacecraft deviated from its intended path, leading to a collision with the moon’s surface.

Modi’s claim of a historic landing was substantiated. While the U.S., China, and the former Soviet Union had previously achieved soft lunar landings, none had reached the moon’s south pole. This location presents unique challenges due to its rugged and boulder-strewn terrain. ISRO’s achievement of navigating Chandrayaan-3 through hover mode at 850 meters above the surface, searching for a suitable spot, attested to both the spacecraft’s agility and the expertise of mission control engineers.

Despite the difficulties, the moon’s south pole remains a crucial target for space agencies and private companies. The area is believed to contain water ice and potentially frozen lakes in permanently shadowed craters. India’s Chandrayaan-1, launched in 2008, confirmed these theories, detecting icy regolith through onboard instruments and verifying water’s presence with an impactor probe.

The significance of these findings resonates with future lunar exploration plans. Water ice can be used for drinking water, oxygen production, and rocket fuel. NASA’s Artemis program aims to land astronauts in the south pole region in the coming years for such purposes, with China pursuing a similar goal by 2030.

However, the focus now shifts to Chandrayaan-3’s mission. Equipped with various instruments and a small rover, it will explore and study the moon’s surface. This research is a step toward understanding the region that may eventually become a home for human explorers.

The space race between India and Russia concluded with India’s successful landing in the moon’s south polar region.

While Luna 25 encountered difficulties and crashed, Chandrayaan-3 achieved a remarkable feat by touching down in a challenging area. The implications of this achievement for future lunar exploration and potential human settlement are significant, as scientists uncover the moon’s resources and prepare for further missions.

“The Indian Diaspora – A Bridge Between The United States And India”

US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti underscored the Indian diaspora’s unifying strength, urging collective vision and seamless border navigation, described the Indian Diaspora as “A Bridge between the United States and India.”

Garcetti emphasized the deep linkages between India and the United States, highlighting President Biden’s emphasis on India’s importance in the world and expressing his aspiration to live in Bodh Gaya for Buddhist studies, while speaking at the Indiaspora G20 Forum in India’s capital. Garcetti’s remarks further encapsulated the breadth of collaboration between the nations, spanning technology, trade, environment, and space, and the pivotal role of reciprocal investments in driving job creation and mutual development.

“He (President Biden) told me, when he asked me to come here to serve, he said, this is the most important country in the world for me, I think something that no American president has ever uttered in the history of our two countries,” he added.

SA Times

Referencing his early career and his willingness to work closely with India, Garcetti stated “But politics got in the way. I got elected to the student council and I promised I would serve, so my India dream kind of died, or so I thought. But the universe has a curious way of connecting people and dreams. Now suddenly I’m living that dream here when President Biden asked me to consider serving here.”

The US Ambassador said: “From technology to trade, from the environment to women’s empowerment, from small businesses to space, we used to say the sky is the limit, but now that we’re working together in space, not even the sky is the limit. From the seabed to the heavens, the US and India are a force for good and a powerful force to move this world forward.”

Garcetti also pointed at the large population and cited how significant that is. Garcetti said 4 million people represent 1 per cent of the population of America but 6 per cent of the tax base.“ They are 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs.”

U.S. Will Issue Record Number Of Visas This Year, Says US Ambassador

Eric Garcetti says Delhi has the second largest mission of the U.S. in the world

The United States will issue record number of visas in 2023, said U.S. Ambassador Eric Garcetti in New Delhi on August 22. Speaking at an event organised by “Indiaspora”, an organisation that works for the advancement of India-U.S. relations, Mr. Garcetti recollected his interaction with President Joe Biden and said the latter described India as “the most important country in the world”. He also reminded that freedom of navigation is not being upheld in the South China Sea.

US Embassy in New Deihi

“Delhi has the second largest mission of the U.S. in the world,” said Mr. Garcetti, highlighting the importance of India in the global diplomacy of the United States.

The Ambassador pointed out that the United States had been optimistic about India from the very beginning of independent India. Independence of India was supported by the fact that President Roosevelt discussed India’s independence with Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain as something that was “necessary”, said Mr. Garcetti.

Mr. Garcetti, who had served as the Mayor of Los Angeles, earlier recollected that he visited India for the first time in 1985 with his parents who were employees of the Pan Am airlines. He paid tributes to the Indian-American community which, he said, is at present paying 6% of the total tax of the United states. The American envoy also highlighted his multi-cultural heritage and said he is half Jewish and half Mexican with the maternal side of his family going back to the early 20th century Russia.

“Please come to America,” said Mr. Garcetti, presenting the American visa scheme that is being implemented in U.S. missions across India.

The Ambassador did not take the name of any country but said there are threats to freedom of navigation and pointed out the challenges that Philippines is facing in the South China Sea.

US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti on Tuesday highlighted the profound connection between nations through the Indian diaspora. Delivering the keynote address at the Indiaspora G20 forum, Garcetti said US President Joe Biden had stressed to him the importance of India in the world. Talking about his “dream” to be in India, the envoy said he thought he would come back to live in Bodh Gaya and do a Buddhist studies programme.

“But politics got in the way. I got elected to the student council and I promised I would serve, so my India dream kind of died, or so I thought. But the universe has a curious way of connecting people and dreams. Now suddenly I’m living that dream here when President Biden asked me to consider serving here,” the diplomat said.

“He (President Biden) told me, when he asked me to come here to serve, he said, this is the most important country in the world for me, I think something that no American president has ever uttered in the history of our two countries,” he added.

I thought it was just Joe Biden and he tells the candidate for ambassador to Liechtenstein, “Liechtenstein is the most important country in the world. But he actually meant it because I heard him say it to the prime minister during the state visit.”

Highlighting the importance of the Indian diaspora, Garcetti said 4 million people represent 1 per cent of the population of America but 6 per cent of the tax base.

“They are 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs.”

Garcetti said the best thing “you can have in life is being comfortable crossing borders, navigating between places. We are part of multiple identities. But in reality, we are part of concentric circles,” he said. His keynote address was on ‘The Indian Diaspora – A Bridge between the United States and India’.

The Constitution Bars Trump From Holding Public Office Ever Again

In a landscape where some individuals on the right portray the accountability for the January 6 Capitol riot as merely a partisan dispute, two well-known conservative legal scholars have put forth the argument that the Constitution actually bars former President Trump from holding public office.

Recently, William Baude, a law professor at the University of Chicago, and Michael Stokes Paulsen, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas and both members of the conservative Federalist Society, presented their viewpoint through a law review article. They contend that Trump’s eligibility to hold public office is constitutionally prohibited due to Section Three of the 14th Amendment.

Picture: The UNN

Section Three, also referred to as the Disqualification Clause, stipulates that any government official who swears an oath to protect the Constitution and then participates in or assists an insurrection against the United States is ineligible for office. Only a two-thirds majority from both the House of Representatives and the Senate can take action to remove such a disability.

The argument isn’t surprising given Trump’s actions align with this criterion. All three branches of the government have characterized the attack on the Capitol as an insurrection. Multiple federal judges, bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress, as well as the Jan. 6 House select committee, which comprises members from both parties, have attributed the central cause of the insurrection to Trump.

Baude and Paulsen highlight that “Section Three does not necessitate a prior conviction under criminal law, whether for treason or any other specific offense, as a precondition for its application.” Trump’s indictment on charges related to election activities by special counsel Jack Smith only serves to further strengthen the argument for his constitutional disqualification.

The federal charges leveled against him encompass conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiring against rights by seeking to “oppress, threaten or intimidate” individuals in their exercise of the right to vote.

Although Trump’s role in inciting the attack on the Capitol is well-documented, Baude and Paulsen assert that the “full legal implications” of Section Three “have not been fully recognized or enforced.” They underline that the Disqualification Clause is a “binding element of the Constitution, not confined to the Civil War era, and not effectively annulled by amnesty legislation from the 19th century.”

Moreover, the clause is “self-executing, without the necessity of supplementary action by Congress.” According to the professors, Section Three “can and should be upheld by every official, whether at the state or federal level, who assesses qualifications.”

In a notable precedent, last September, three residents of New Mexico, represented by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, achieved the first instance in over a century and a half where an elected official was removed from office on the basis of involvement in an insurrection. The court determined that then-New Mexico County Commissioner Couy Griffin had violated Section Three of the 14th Amendment by enlisting individuals for combat in support of Trump’s endeavor to overturn the election on January 6. Griffin’s actions, which included breaching police barricades, contributing to the violent mob’s attack, and facilitating the overwhelming of law enforcement to storm the Capitol, were deemed insurrectionist. This case marked the initial instance at either the federal or state level where the events of January 6 were legally classified as an insurrection.

The court’s decision in Griffin’s case refutes the notion that disqualifying officials under Section Three of the 14th Amendment infringes upon the First Amendment right to protest. Furthermore, the court rejected attempts by Griffin to equate the events of January 6 with the Black Lives Matter protests.

In their article, Baude and Paulsen elucidate that “to the extent of any conflict with prior constitutional rules, Section Three repeals, supersedes, or simply satisfies them,” including “the free speech principles of the First Amendment.”

Most critically, the authors conclude that Section Three encompasses a “wide spectrum of actions against the authority of the constitutional order” and “a broad array of previous offices, including the presidency.” They unequivocally state that Section Three “disqualifies former President Donald Trump, and potentially many others, because of their involvement in the attempted overthrow of the 2020 presidential election.”

Irrespective of political affiliation, every president takes an oath to uphold and safeguard the United States Constitution. Applying the Disqualification Clause to an official who violates this oath is an act of devotion to the nation, devoid of partisan motivation. As Baude and Paulsen aptly put it, “Officials must uphold the Constitution because it is the law … Section Three already carries legal weight.”

The Disqualification Clause has already demonstrated its effectiveness in holding individuals accountable for their participation in the insurrection. In the approaching months, it is anticipated that this clause will be employed again to prevent Trump and others from assuming public office.

Innovative Stem Cell Technique Shows Promise in Restoring Vision for Single-Eye Injuries

During the summer of 2020, Nick Kharufeh experienced a life-altering accident that left him blind in his left eye. A malfunctioning firework struck him in the face during an Independence Day party in California. Kharufeh, who had aspirations of becoming a pilot, found his dreams shattered by the severe damage caused to his eye. Traditional treatments proved ineffective, and Kharufeh’s life took a drastic turn as he grappled with the loss of his vision.

However, a glimmer of hope emerged a few months later when Kharufeh’s mother stumbled upon a groundbreaking experimental trial being conducted in Boston. Researchers were developing a restorative technique tailored specifically for individuals like Kharufeh, who had sustained single-eye injuries that conventional treatments could not address adequately.

Conventionally, a cornea transplant can restore functionality and vision to a damaged eye. However, this method is only effective if the patient still possesses a healthy reserve of limbal stem cells around the cornea. These specialized adult cells maintain the clear surface layer of the eye, preventing it from becoming uneven, opaque, and painful. Unfortunately, Kharufeh’s situation had led to the growth of white tissue over his eye, causing it to painfully fuse with his eyelid following the accident.

Picture: MDPI

Kharufeh’s journey led him to relocate from California to Boston in order to participate in the trial. Faced with bleak prospects from his doctors in California, he embraced the trial with the mindset that even though the worst outcome might be continued blindness, there was also a chance that his vision could be restored.

Fast forward three years from his accident, and Kharufeh’s story represents a beacon of hope. The initial findings of the trial, published on August 18 in Science Advances, showcased positive outcomes for him and several other trial participants.

In this revolutionary technique spearheaded by Dr. Ula Jurkunas, a corneal surgeon at Mass Eye and Ear, stem cells are extracted from a patient’s healthy eye through a minute biopsy. The collected sample is then divided into smaller fragments, and enzymes are employed to separate the stem cells from their underlying tissue. Over a span of approximately two weeks, these cells develop into a sheet, which is subsequently transplanted into the injured eye. This process effectively restores the natural functionality of the cornea.

The Science Advances paper highlights the successful vision improvements experienced by two patients following the stem cell transplant. Furthermore, two additional patients regained enough functionality to be eligible for cornea transplants.

The focus of the paper revolves around the first five participants of the trial. Notably, one participant did not witness success with the stem-cell harvesting and grafting technique. Kharufeh, having advanced to the subsequent phase of the trial, underwent the same procedure and will be included in forthcoming publications.

While various researchers globally have explored different avenues of using stem cells to restore vision, Dr.Jurkunas’ technique stands out. Though similar therapies have gained approval in Europe, and some doctors in the U.S. perform limbal stem cell transplants, these methods often involve larger biopsies that pose risks to the patient’s healthy eye or donor cells that could be rejected. Dr.Jurkunas’ trial represents an exciting milestone by demonstrating successful results using a small quantity of the patient’s own cells. Despite its promising outcomes, the approach remains experimental. Dr.Jurkunas and her team are refining the method and collaborating with U.S. regulators to design comprehensive studies. Ensuring the reproducibility of the technique in other surgical settings is also vital, a task that involves collaboration with colleagues from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the JAEB Center for Health Research.

The paper’s described procedure caters to a specific group of patients: those who retain one healthy eye from which stem cells can be harvested, yet possess an injury severe enough to preclude a cornea transplant. Approximately 1,000 individuals in the U.S. fit this description annually. Dr.Jurkunas, however, sees this approach as a stepping stone toward the development of future cell-based therapies.

The procedure has already been huge for Kharufeh, whose left-eye vision is now blurry but functional, with the potential for even more dramatic improvement with further corrective surgery. “I can completely navigate my apartment or walk across the street with just my bad eye now,” he says.

Kharufeh has put aside his dream of becoming a pilot, but with his eyesight improving and fewer follow-up appointments required at the hospital, he’s even thinking of going back to school to get his master’s degree in marketing.“It’s so cool,” he says, “to see out of my left eye.”

The innovative stem cell technique pioneered by Dr. Ula Jurkunas holds great promise for restoring vision in cases of single-eye injuries that defy traditional treatments. With early positive results showcased in the Science Advances paper, this breakthrough offers hope to individuals like Nick Kharufeh, who can now envision a future with restored vision and renewed possibilities.

Celebrating India’s Heritage and Unity: The Konark Chakra Illuminates Times Square

New York City’s iconic Times Square was graced with a profound cultural exhibition, celebrating the ageless bond between India and the United States. The esteemed presence of Mayor Eric Adams at this event marked the significance of this occasion. Rajeev Kaul, a distinguished Board Member of the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), expressed the sentiment, stating, “We are honored to welcome Mayor Eric Adams to this remarkable exhibition, which pays tribute to the timeless cultural bond between India and the United States.” Kaul further emphasized that the placement of the Chakra Sculpture in the heart of Times Square symbolizes the enduring friendship and shared values that unite the two nations.

This event witnessed the unveiling of the Konark Chakra, a symbolic representation of India’s heritage, wisdom, and philosophy. As the Chakra found its prominent position in Times Square, it was not only an homage to India’s rich cultural tapestry but also a testimony to the enduring connection between the United States and India. The Chakra, reminiscent of one of the twenty-four wheels adorning the Konark Temple dedicated to the Sun God, embodies the essence of India’s history, resilience, and unity. The sculpture serves as a beacon of the nation’s deep reverence for nature and the sun, embodying values that resonate with the city of New York.

Picture: New Indian Express

Consul General of India in New York, Randhir Jaiswal, shared his gratitude towards all those who made this initiative possible, stating, “We extend our warmest gratitude to The Honorable Eric Adams, Mayor of New York City, for joining us on this momentous occasion, to Mr. Vikas Khanna and to the Indo-American Arts Council Inc. for their partnership in the project. I also thank the State Bank of India for their support.” Jaiswal’s words emphasized the collaborative effort that brought the Konark Chakra to its remarkable display in Times Square.

Celebrated Chef, Restaurateur, Writer, and Filmmaker Vikas Khanna, brimming with pride, shared his sentiments about representing India on August 15th. He emphasized the profound symbolism of the Chakra, which encapsulates the artisans’ dedication, history, and culture. Khanna spoke of this day as a gift from ancestors who sacrificed and endured to ensure the freedom of future generations. He highlighted his personal journey as a testament to the power of freedom, expressing his pride in choosing to become a chef. Khanna’s words resonated as he saluted those who stood for this freedom and envisioned India’s future.

The Chakra Sculpture itself stands as a tribute to craftsmanship and artistic brilliance. With dimensions measuring 8 feet by 6 feet and weighing around 1800 kilograms (approximately 4,000 pounds), it mirrors the revered emblem from the Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha. The original Konark Chakra, a meticulously crafted stone wheel, was one of the twenty-four such wheels adorning the historic Konark Sun Temple. Despite facing challenges throughout its history, including invasions and natural disasters, the Konark Sun Temple’s enduring spirit persevered.

The intricate carvings and symbolic representation of the Konark Chakra continue to captivate visitors, serving as a poignant reminder of India’s architectural and cultural legacy. The sculpture’s resilience in the face of adversity mirrors the enduring power and movement of the Sun, a source of sustenance and life. This symbolism resonates with the very values that the city of New York embodies.

The Konark Chakra’s presence in the heart of Times Square stands as a testament to the lasting friendship and shared values between India and the United States. The sculpture not only celebrates India’s cultural heritage but also signifies unity, resilience, and the enduring power of nature. This remarkable event, graced by Mayor Eric Adams and joined by various collaborators, highlights the deep-rooted connections that bridge nations and cultures.

Is Anyone Having More Fun Running For President Than Vivek Ramaswamy?

Vivek Ramaswamy is currently navigating through the bustling streets of New Hampshire in a crowded Ford Explorer. The Republican contender for the presidential race is managing a whirlwind of campaign stops, engaging in discussions with three journalists while simultaneously conferring with a campaign assistant. During this drive, there’s a brief jolt as the SUV veers onto the highway’s rumble strip, causing Ramaswamy to momentarily startle before promptly resuming his conversation.

In the world of presidential campaigns, the ability to multitask is a necessity – be it handling various tasks while on the move, interacting with constituents, or delivering speeches. However, among the Republican candidates, few exhibit the multitasking prowess of the affluent 38-year-old Ramaswamy. His day has been brimming with activity, starting from his visit to the courthouse in Washington where Donald Trump was to be arraigned, all the way to New Hampshire. Here, he engaged in a lunchtime meet-and-greet and later attended a backyard gathering, addressing attendees and distributing pamphlets outlining his 10 core “truths.” These include statements such as “there are two genders,” “human prosperity depends on fossil fuels,” and “the nuclear family represents the supreme form of governance known to humanity.” During these events, Ramaswamy also shared his plans to dismantle the Department of Education, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service. Additionally, he articulated his intent to take the “America First” approach even further than Trump by reducing support for Ukraine and deploying troops to secure the southern border.

Ramaswamy’s strategy of being present everywhere at once, combined with his knack for conveying provocative anti-establishment views in an amiable manner, has propelled him to a prominent position in the GOP primary. Since officially launching his candidacy in February, Ramaswamy’s pace has been relentless. From shaking hands in New Hampshire to rapping Eminem lyrics in Iowa, from featuring on over 70 podcasts to appearing on a plethora of news programs, and generating a consistent stream of online content, he has outperformed many governors and even a former vice president in the early primary states. This dynamism has led Ramaswamy to secure second or third place in various national polls, garnering attention as a major contender.

Sarah Longwell, a Republican pollster who conducts focus groups with GOP-leaning voters, noted a shift in perception. While previously, Ramaswamy was scarcely mentioned in discussions while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was frequently brought up, the tables have now turned. Longwell views Ramaswamy’s campaign approach as one DeSantis could have adopted. “I think that he has been running the kind of campaign that Ron DeSantis should have run,” Longwell commented on Ramaswamy’s strategy.

However, Ramaswamy’s journey ahead won’t be without challenges. The influence of Trump remains dominant in the race, commanding the support of a majority of primary voters as indicated by recent national polls. Furthermore, Ramaswamy hasn’t yet become a target for his fellow contenders, partly due to not being perceived as a significant threat. While Ramaswamy has made strides in winning over the GOP base, Longwell doesn’t consider him a genuine contender for the GOP nomination. She explains, “He’s not really running as a challenger to Trump. He’s running as somebody who’s trying to elevate his brand, elevate his name ID, and simply become a player in politics.”

In contrast, Ramaswamy asserts his intention to secure victory and categorically rejects the idea of joining a potential second Trump administration. The entrepreneur, who asserts billionaire status, has already injected $15 million of his personal funds into his campaign and is willing to contribute an “unlimited” amount. As the debate stage in Milwaukee awaits him on August 23rd, Ramaswamy and his team anticipate capitalizing on the momentum generated through six months of relentless campaigning. Beyond that point, he envisions transitioning to a more traditional campaign approach involving television advertisements and conventional voter engagement methods. By the time the Iowa caucuses arrive in January, Ramaswamy is confident he will have demonstrated to the Republican electorate what a plausible successor to Trump looks like.

Currently, Vivek Ramaswamy finds himself amid the flurry of activities that have become his signature approach. As we share the car ride through New Hampshire, he reserves the final 10 minutes to collect his thoughts and review his phone. While scrolling through his social media feed, he stumbles upon something intriguing – a post on social media that captures his attention. Specifically, it’s a MSNBC clip featuring Al Sharpton’s commentary on Donald Trump’s legal issues. In the clip, Sharpton raises a rhetorical question, “Can you imagine our reading that James Madison or Thomas Jefferson tried to overthrow the government so they can stay in power?”

Ramaswamy responds to this snippet with a chuckle, his eyes twinkling with an understanding that he can leverage this. He starts by recalling an incident from his college days when he posed a question to Sharpton during a news program. Although he doesn’t recall the specifics of that interaction, he capitalizes on the current moment. As our car nears the upcoming campaign stop in Concord, Ramaswamy plays off Sharpton’s comment and tweets a rejoinder: “It was called the American Revolution. We were successful. We won.” This tweet quickly garners over 2 million views.

Earlier in the day, the scene shifts to Milford, where Ramaswamy addresses a gathering of several dozen people in a local grill. Despite the awkwardness of some attendees eating their lunches while standing, there’s palpable interest in this candidate within the crowded field. Amidst the older, casually dressed voters, Ramaswamy stands out in his suit. He dedicates thirteen minutes to delivering his campaign speech and then devotes almost an hour to answering a diverse range of questions, spanning topics from his plans for national unity to his views on modern monetary theory and strategies to address pedophilia. Following this extensive exchange, he engages with those who have lined up for a photo opportunity.

Ramaswamy’s drive and charisma have deep roots. Born in Cincinnati to Indian immigrant parents who pursued the American Dream, his upbringing significantly influenced his worldview. Despite his parents arriving in the U.S. with limited financial resources, his father found work as an engineer and his mother as a psychiatrist. The values he imbibed were more rooted in culture than politics, he tells me during our time in the SUV. He elaborates, “That was sort of what we cared more about—moral foundations.”

During his teenage years, Ramaswamy began absorbing political insights from various sources. One influence was his conservative Christian piano teacher who admired Ronald Reagan. “She probably influenced me with modes of conservative thought that I probably wouldn’t have thought about in the past,” Ramaswamy reflects. He cites the emphasis on family stability and grounding as perspectives he gained from this exposure.

Despite his polished political demeanor, at the time Vivek Ramaswamy was primarily focused on the business realm. His Harvard years saw the co-founding of Campus Venture Network, an initiative supporting student entrepreneurs, and the launch of a college consulting firm. Graduating in 2007, he joined QVT Financial LP, a hedge fund where he achieved partner status by age 28. Concurrently, he pursued legal education at Yale Law School.

Around this juncture, Ramaswamy acknowledges entertaining fleeting thoughts of entering politics. He recalls, “I considered it briefly, the idea of possibly doing it at some point, when I was in law school.” While some in his circle maintain that he wasn’t deeply inclined toward electoral politics at that time, at least one acquaintance from that era shares that Ramaswamy had contemplated dedicating a decade to building a robust business career before embarking on a political journey. This strategy aimed to achieve success that would allow him to uphold his convictions without being influenced by the donor class.

Notably, Ramaswamy claims to have achieved multi-millionaire status by the time he obtained his J.D. in 2013. In the subsequent year, he founded Roivant Sciences, a drug development company aiming to advance stalled medical treatments. Through one of Roivant’s subsidiaries in 2015, he orchestrated the largest initial public offering in the U.S. biotech industry up to that point. While the Alzheimer’s drug central to this IPO faced setbacks, the company achieved success with other treatments, securing FDA approval for therapies addressing prostate cancer and overactive bladder. In 2016, he earned a place on Forbes’ list of richest entrepreneurs under 40, and his wealth soared.

The year 2020 marked a turning point. Ramaswamy’s discomfort grew as he observed corporate advocacy for ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing. He expressed his concerns in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, asserting that business leaders should refrain from influencing America’s societal and cultural values. The pandemic and the racial justice protests of that year further solidified his stance. An associate, Anson Frericks, recalls Ramaswamy’s frustration, noting instances where his board requested him to take positions on contentious issues related to COVID policies and matters stemming from George Floyd’s death.

In 2021, Ramaswamy relinquished his role as CEO of Roivant and published “Woke, Inc.,” a New York Times bestseller. Subsequently, he gained a regular presence on Fox News. He and Frericks established Strive, an asset management firm emphasizing shareholder value over political agendas. Ramaswamy swiftly penned another book, critiquing victimhood mindsets and identity politics. Amidst numerous appearances on cable news, he considered running for Senate in Ohio.

Picture: Vanity Fair

Surprisingly, Ramaswamy announced his candidacy for the presidential race on February 21. His YouTube video launch depicts familiar political-ad visuals, showcasing scenes from a small-town church, workers, families, and children at play. The video transitions into a more critical tone, featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, climate activist Greta Thunberg, and transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. Ramaswamy’s voiceover voice warns against “COVIDism, climatism, and gender ideology.” The voiceover contends, “We hunger to be part of something bigger than ourselves yet we cannot even answer the question of what it means to be an American.”

The same day the video was released, Ramaswamy outlined his campaign themes on Tucker Carlson’s show. He expounded on core American values like meritocracy, self-governance, and free speech while highlighting how division, spurred by the left, has shifted focus to differences. Carlson commended him, stating, “I hope you’ll come back often, ‘cause you are one of the great talkers we’ve ever had.”

In the ensuing weeks, Ramaswamy embraced an inclusive approach to campaigning, engaging with anyone willing to converse, irrespective of potential detractors. Peter Christopher, a New Hampshire business owner attending Ramaswamy’s lunchtime event, expressed admiration: “He has an understanding of our culture today that he’s not afraid to share. And yet, the way he shares it is not in a way that other people have to be wrong.”

Apoorva Ramaswamy, the candidate’s spouse, emphasizes his enthusiasm for engaging with people, especially those holding opposing views. She notes his passion for being challenged and honing his arguments. Their initial meeting occurred in 2011 when he was attending Yale Law School. Apoorva remarks, “He loves being challenged, being forced to hone his arguments and his thought processes. That’s like his favorite hobby.”

Months of traversing the nation to engage with voters have passed, primarily through town hall meetings in early primary states. Ramaswamy ventures into unusual Republican campaign destinations, such as a Black barbershop in Chicago. These unique interactions generate social media buzz and distinguish him within the crowded Republican field. Paul Davis, a college friend maintaining contact throughout the campaign, reflects, “A lot of these candidates are very afraid of talking to the press… and they’re really worried about, ‘Oh, this outlet is biased, and they’re going to spin it this way, or that way, whatever.”

His educational journey brought him to a predominantly Black middle school in Milford, where he found himself among a diverse student body. He has shared an incident from his eighth-grade year when he was pushed down the stairs by another student, leading to surgery. This event marked a turning point as he transitioned to a Jesuit school, St. Xavier High School, where he became one of the few Indian students in a predominantly white class. In his valedictorian speech, he recollected feeling uncertain during freshman year mass, struggling with the lyrics and when to stand or sit. A sophomore religion class broadened his horizons, helping him explore various viewpoints and shape his own perspective. He expressed, “I’ll definitely remember emerging from St. X with a personal faith that was neither Catholic nor strictly Hindu, but was finally something that I could call my own,” addressing his fellow graduates.

Even during his teenage years, Ramaswamy’s warmth and sociability stood out, allowing him to discuss topics like local sports with ease. However, his unique background set him apart. Only recently did his former business partner, Anson Frericks, a friend from St. Xavier, realize he had been mispronouncing Ramaswamy’s first name for two decades. (The correct pronunciation rhymes with “cake.”) When confronted, Ramaswamy explained that as the only Indian student in an all-male Catholic high school, he grew accustomed to responding to whatever name people used. Frericks shared his perspective, saying, “He’s like, ‘Hey, you know, when you’re the only Indian kid at an all-male Catholic high school, you just take whatever you’re called.”

While pursuing a biology degree at Harvard, Ramaswamy engaged in a plethora of extracurricular activities, from playing club tennis to participating in the South Asian Association. He was deeply involved in leadership roles across various organizations and also explored his artistic side under the alias “Da Vek,” dabbling in rap. He held leadership positions in groups like the Harvard Political Union and the Institute for Politics, and he joined the Harvard Republican Club. He recalls, “I mostly, through college, considered myself a libertarian, a pretty staunch libertarian.”

Ramaswamy was unafraid to voice his opinions against prevailing campus liberalism or engage in debates with his right-leaning peers on issues such as Guantanamo prisoners’ treatment. A notable incident took place in 2007 when then-FBI Director Robert Mueller visited campus. Ramaswamy confronted Mueller with questions about external checks on the FBI with regard to civil liberties. Paul Davis, a friend from the same dorm, remarked, “He just kind of said what he thought about different topics, even if it pissed people off.”

During a trip to Las Vegas, Davis recounted an incident at a blackjack table that highlighted Ramaswamy’s pride in his American identity. When asked about his nationality, Ramaswamy responded, “I’m a citizen of the greatest nation on Earth, the United States of America.” This confident response resonated with the others at the table.

Davis likens his friend’s campaign strategy to that of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during his 2020 presidential campaign as the relatively unknown mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He notes that Ramaswamy’s approach is about confidently sharing his story across various platforms, despite the potential for unfavorable coverage. Davis acknowledges that while there may be risks involved, they are worth taking.

Starting in April, Ramaswamy has managed to produce over 50 episodes of a podcast called “The Vivek Show.” He engages in in-depth conversations with individuals from diverse political backgrounds, ranging from right-wing commentators like Glenn Beck to Democrat Tom Wolf, the former Governor of Pennsylvania. During these tapings, he turns off his phone—a rare moment of respite in his busy schedule. A second season of the podcast is set to launch in early fall, featuring interviews with figures like Papa John’s founder John Schnatter and Chaya Raichik, the operator of Libs of TikTok.

Ramaswamy’s political stance often leans hard-right: he advocates for cutting federal regulators, ending affirmative action, and argues that transgender children frequently grapple with unrelated mental health issues. However, he also deviates from the typical Republican mold. Although he personally identifies as “pro-life,” he stands out by not supporting a federal abortion ban. His proposals include banning social media for individuals under 16 and eliminating automatic voting rights for those under 25.

The forthcoming GOP presidential debate will offer a platform to present his views to a broader audience. Tricia McLaughlin, a senior advisor to Ramaswamy, notes that the campaign decided to skip traditional debate preparation in favor of maintaining their hectic travel schedule, which has been instrumental in connecting with voters. McLaughlin emphasizes that the campaign’s philosophy revolves around letting Ramaswamy be authentic.

The question of whether Trump participates in the debate introduces an unpredictable element. Ramaswamy has fervently pledged to pardon the former President, who has reciprocated with effusive praise. However, Trump has indicated that his support may shift if Ramaswamy’s poll numbers approach his own.

Ramaswamy remains optimistic about the future. He envisions a more directed campaign path after the first debate, focusing on the early primary states while incorporating more traditional approaches. As the SUV arrives at his next town-hall venue, Ramaswamy reflects on his connection with ordinary people. He reveals that he doesn’t indulge in lavish vacation homes but instead invests in private jets to save time.

After parting ways, the journalist searches for the mentioned interaction between Ramaswamy and Sharpton. A video from 2003 shows an 18-year-old Ramaswamy wearing a light-blue button-down shirt and a shiny watch, asking the first audience question on “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” He inquires why voters should choose the Democratic candidate with the least political experience. Sharpton responds with confidence, noting his extensive political engagement and social policy work over the past three decades.Ramaswamy listens with a grin, nodding in agreement as Sharpton speaks.

Indian Americans on Forbes’ 50 Over 50 List

Several persons of Indian heritage have been featured on Forbes’ 50 Ver 50 List for 2023, released last week. S. Mona Sinha: From Corporate Success to Advocating Women’s Rights, Makes Forbes 50 Over 50 List

Friend of Indiaspora, S. Mona Sinha has secured a spot on the Forbes 50 Over 50 List for her impactful work. At 57, Sinha leads Equality Now as the global executive director, leveraging her experience from companies like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Unilever to drive the NGO’s mission for women’s and girls’ rights worldwide. Her achievements include reforming rape laws in Latin America and the Caribbean and child marriage laws in Africa and the Middle East, along with her contributions to various organizations and boards dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Her journey from volunteering at Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Kolkata, India, to her current influential role reflects her dedication to humanitarian efforts.

Nikki Haley

  • In February of 2023, Nikki Haley announced her intent to become the Republican party’s candidate for U.S. president.
  • Two days after her announcement, former CNN host Don Lemon ignited an online firestorm after implying Haley, a woman in her 50s, wasn’t “in her prime.” Haley reclaimed “in my prime” as a campaign trail rallying cry.
  • The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley became the first Indian American to serve in a presidential cabinet when she was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2017.
  • She served as governor of South Carolina from 2010 to 2014. Of the 117 governors in South Carolina’s history, she is the only woman and only person of color to have led the state.
  • Haley grew up in South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

About Her:

  • In February of 2023, Nikki Haley announced her intent to become the Republican party’s candidate for U.S. president.
  • Two days after her announcement, former CNN host Don Lemon ignited an online firestorm after implying Haley, a woman in her 50s, wasn’t “in her prime.” Haley reclaimed “in my prime” as a campaign trail rallying cry.
  • The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley became the first Indian American to serve in a presidential cabinet when she was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in 2017.
  • She served as governor of South Carolina from 2010 to 2014. Of the 117 governors in South Carolina’s history, she is the only woman and only person of color to have led the state.
  • Haley grew up in South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Sarita Mohanty

  • In 2021, at 50, Sarita Mohanty became the second CEO and president of The SCAN Foundation, a California-based healthcare nonprofit focused on improving care for older adults through policy, impact investing and grantmaking.
  • Mohanty came to the foundation from Kaiser Permanente, where she served as vice president of care coordination for Medicaid and vulnerable populations.
  • At Kaiser, she led the development of Thrive Local, a referral network of health systems, government agencies and community groups that provide social services, including housing, food and utilities.
  • She completed medical school at Boston University and residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She holds an M.P.H. from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from UCLA.

About Her:

  • In 2021, at 50, Sarita Mohanty became the second CEO and president of The SCAN Foundation, a California-based healthcare nonprofit focused on improving care for older adults through policy, impact investing and grantmaking.
  • Mohanty came to the foundation from Kaiser Permanente, where she served as vice president of care coordination for Medicaid and vulnerable populations.
  • At Kaiser, she led the development of Thrive Local, a referral network of health systems, government agencies and community groups that provide social services, including housing, food and utilities.
  • She completed medical school at Boston University and residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She holds an M.P.H. from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from UCLA.

Alka Joshi

  • In 2020, at 62, Alka Joshi published her debut novel, The Henna Artist. She began writing the book in 2010, but the ten years of work paid off: It became a global phenomenon, hitting the New York Times bestseller list and translated into 29 languages.
  • Within a year and a half of publication, Netflix announced it would develop The Henna Artist into a television series starring Frida Pinto.
  • Joshi published two more books in 2021 and 2023, and has a contract with Harper Collins to produce two more by 2025.
  • Four decades after immigrating to the US, Joshi says her passion to inform the world about India through historical fiction took root in her 50s, when she traveled back to her birth country with her mother.

About Her:

  • The Henna Artist was inspired by Joshi’s mother, who had an arranged marriage at 18. Joshi wrote a protagonist who lived in an alternate reality—one where a woman like her mom could live independently.
  • In 2020, at 62, Alka Joshi published her debut novel, The Henna Artist. She began writing the book in 2010, but the ten years of work paid off: It became a global phenomenon, hitting the New York Times bestseller list and translated into 29 languages.
  • Within a year and a half of publication, Netflix announced it would develop The Henna Artist into a television series starring Frida Pinto.
  • Joshi published two more books in 2021 and 2023, and has a contract with Harper Collins to produce two more by 2025.
  • Four decades after immigrating to the US, Joshi says her passion to inform the world about India through historical fiction took root in her 50s, when she traveled back to her birth country with her mother.
  • The Henna Artist was inspired by Joshi’s mother, who had an arranged marriage at 18. Joshi wrote a protagonist who lived in an alternate reality—one where a woman like her mom could live independently.

Vaibhav Taneja Named New CFO of Tesla as Previous CFO Steps Down

Indian-origin executive Vaibhav Taneja has been appointed as the new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Tesla, succeeding Zachary Kirkhorn, who announced his departure. Taneja, who already held the position of Chief Accounting Officer at the electric car giant, is taking on this added responsibility. Kirkhorn’s departure after 13 years was marked as a phase of “tremendous expansion and growth,” with Taneja set to lead Tesla’s financial strategies in this new chapter.

Tesla Inc. has a long history of promoting talent from within. Outside hires don’t last for very long in the carmaker’s scrappy, hard-charging culture, and it takes a certain stamina to work for Elon Musk.

Tesla’s new chief financial officer, Vaibhav Taneja, already has a hefty gig serving as the company’s chief accounting officer. Tesla watchers were surprised to hear Monday that he was replacing Zach Kirkhorn, a 13-year Tesla veteran who abruptly stepped down from the CFO post.

While Kirkhorn has been a calm, steady presence and regularly spoke at length with investors, even playing the role of Musk’s surrogate the time he skipped Tesla’s earnings presentation, Taneja is less well-known. He worked for Tesla’s accounting firm and later at SolarCity, a troubled company many investors wish the EV maker hadn’t acquired. He has spoken briefly on just one Tesla earnings call, back in early 2019.

The change comes at a critical time for Tesla. The company is building a new factory in Mexico and preparing to bring its Cybertruck pickup to the market as it fends off rivals in the increasingly crowded EV market. Tesla has been cutting prices across its lineup to maintain its position atop the electric-car industry, and profitability has taken a hit.

Taneja started his career in New Delhi. He graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Delhi University, according to his LinkedIn profile. He then spent almost 17 years at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Tesla’s longtime accounting firm.

He joined SolarCity in 2016 and became corporate controller. Tesla soon thereafter acquired the solar panel installer. The automaker’s shareholders later sued Musk and Tesla’s board, accusing them of hiding SolarCity’s financial woes.

Taneja became Tesla’s corporate controller in May 2018 and was named chief accounting officer in March 2019. His predecessor, Dave Morton, had been hired away from Seagate Technology but resigned after less than a month.

Unusual Arrangement

Greg Selker, a managing director at executive search firm Stanton Chase, said that the general trend in corporate America is to hire business-oriented CFOs with a lot of operational experience. Taneja came up through the auditing ranks at PwC and his two concurrent titles at Tesla are an unusual arrangement.

“A CAO is responsible for all of the financial reporting – Taneja is really an accountant’s accountant,” Selker said in a phone interview. “Typically, a CFO has a broader business background.”

Taneja may have been instrumental to Tesla’s early inroads in India. He’s one of the four directors at Tesla India Motors and Energy Private Ltd., which was established in 2021 in the southern city of Bengaluru, according to the the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Tesla doesn’t sell any EVs in India yet.

He owned about 105,000 shares of the company as of July 7, a stake that is currently valued at about $26 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Musk, the richest person in the world, oversees six companies: Tesla, SpaceX, X (formerly known as Twitter), Boring Co., Neuralink and xAI, his most recent venture. Musk’s many interests and the competing demands for his time have long raised concerns about whether Tesla is too dependent on a single individual.

The EV maker has just four executive officers: Musk, Drew Baglino, the senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering; Tom Zhu, senior vice president of automotive; and now Taneja.

Who is Vaibhav Taneja, the new CFO of Tesla?

Taneja has served as Tesla’s CAO since March 2019 and as the Corporate Controller since May 2018. He served as the Assistant Corporate Controller between February 2017 and May 2018, and from March 2016, served in various finance and accounting roles at SolarCity Corporation, a US-based solar panel developer acquired by Tesla in 2016. Before that, Taneja was employed at PricewaterhouseCoopers in both India and the US between July 1999 and March 2016, the company filing said.

300,000-Year-Old Skull Found In China Unlike Any Early Human Seen Before

An unprecedented discovery in the realm of paleontology has unveiled a 300,000-year-old skull that challenges the known narrative of premodern human evolution. Recent research conducted by an international coalition of scholars from China, Spain, and the United Kingdom has brought to light a fossilized skull fragment, specifically the lower jawbone, in the Hualongdong area of eastern China in 2015. This fossil, along with 15 other specimens found at the same site, is believed to have originated during the late Middle Pleistocene era, a crucial juncture in the evolutionary trajectory of hominins, species closely related to humans.

The study, published on July 31 in the Journal of Human Evolution, illuminates the profoundly distinctive nature of the mandible, designated as HLD 6. It has defied conventional classification, perplexing researchers with its enigmatic attributes that defy existing taxonomic groups. This peculiarity is not an isolated occurrence among Chinese Pleistocene hominin remains; several others have eluded straightforward categorization, previously regarded as outliers. However, this recent revelation, coupled with other contemporaneous investigations, is steadily reshaping the understanding of evolutionary developments during the late Middle Pleistocene era.

HLD 6 and its Mosaic of Characteristics

Upon meticulous examination of the HLD 6 mandible, juxtaposed with those from Pleistocene hominins and modern humans, the research collective observed a fusion of features. Strikingly similar in shape to the mandible of Homo sapiens, the modern human species tracing its roots to Homo erectus, HLD 6 also exhibits a distinguishing trait akin to another branch stemming from Homo erectus: the Denisovans. A noticeable absence of a chin, a shared aspect with the Denisovans, is evident in HLD 6.

María Martinón-Torres, a co-author of the study and the director of the National Research Center on Human Evolution (CENIEH) in Spain, elucidated, “HLD 6 does not present a true chin but has some weakly expressed traits that seem to anticipate this typically H. sapiens feature.” This amalgamation of primitive attributes and those reminiscent of Homo sapiens distinguishes the Hualongdong population as the earliest known Asian fossil group to exhibit such a distinctive blend.

The postulation emerges that HLD 6 belongs to a class that remains unnamed, suggesting that hallmark characteristics of modern humans may have manifested as far back as 300,000 years ago, preceding the emergence of anatomically modern humans in eastern Asia. To account for potential variations between juvenile and adult skull structures, the researchers contemplated the age of the individual to whom the jawbone belonged.

HLD 6 is inferred to have been part of a 12- to 13-year-old individual. Although a comparable adult skull of the same species for comparison was unavailable, the team examined skulls from Middle and Late Pleistocene hominins of equivalent ages. Notably, the consistent patterns in cranial shapes across different ages provided further validation for their hypothesis.

Despite the insightful revelations gleaned from HLD 6, Martinón-Torres underscores the necessity for further investigation to definitively contextualize this find within the broader evolutionary framework.

In conclusion, an unparalleled archaeological revelation has been unveiled, carrying the potential to redefine the historical trajectory of human evolution. The unearthing of a 300,000-year-old mandible, referred to as HLD 6, in China’s Hualongdong region has stumped researchers due to its unprecedented amalgamation of traits that defy conventional classification. This discovery challenges prior assumptions about Pleistocene hominin fossils in China and compels a reconsideration of late Middle Pleistocene evolutionary patterns.

This groundbreaking study, featured in the Journal of Human Evolution on July 31, underscores the intriguing mixture of attributes within HLD 6’s mandible. Resonating with the shape of Homo sapiens’ mandibles while sharing the unique lack of a chin with the Denisovans, HLD 6 encapsulates a distinctive blend of characteristics that demarcates it as a novel entity. This mosaic of features presents a pioneering insight into the evolutionary development of early hominins in Asia, potentially indicating that recognizable modern human traits had emerged Religion300,000 years ago.

Nevertheless, the researchers acknowledge the complexity of their discovery and the necessity for additional investigations. In the absence of an adult skull of the same species for direct comparison, the team turned to comparable hominin skulls of varying ages, finding consistent patterns that reinforce their assertions. María Martinón-Torres, a lead researcher on the project, highlights the significance of continued research to holistically contextualize HLD 6 within the broader evolutionary narrative.

“More fossils and studies are necessary to understand their precise position in the human family tree,” she said.

Vatican Appoints Pontifical Delegate to Address Liturgical Dispute in India

Controversy and division have persisted within an Indian archdiocese over the orientation of the celebrating priest during liturgical events. To address this ongoing issue, Pope Francis has designated Slovak Archbishop Cyril Vasil of Košice as his pontifical delegate. The Vatican disclosed that Archbishop Vasil arrived in Kochi, the hub of the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly, on August 4.

A recent report from UCA News, an Asian ecclesiastical news agency, dated August 8, has brought to light that a substantial coalition of priests and laypeople, who are opposed to adopting the standardized liturgical directives ratified by the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in 1999, has contested the legitimacy of Archbishop Vasil’s appointment.

Prior to the Synod’s resolution, there existed variance among priests in terms of their positioning relative to the altar during the celebration of the eucharistic liturgy, referred to as the Holy Qurbana in the Eastern-rite tradition. While some clergy faced the altar throughout the liturgy, others chose to face the congregation. The Synod ultimately ruled in favor of priests facing the altar during the eucharistic prayer, but directing their gaze toward the congregation during the Liturgy of the Word and again after the Communion.

In the majority of Syro-Malabar dioceses, priests promptly adhered to the Synod’s verdict. However, exceptions were made for the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly and a select few other regions. These exemptions were rescinded by the bishops in November 2021.

The Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency, an assembly encompassing priests, religious individuals, and laity within Ernakulam-Angamaly, has expressed dissent regarding the manner in which the dispensation was revoked. The group has consistently advocated for the continuation of the established practice since 1970, wherein the priest engages with the congregation throughout the entire liturgy.

Upon the arrival of Archbishop Vasil, who previously served as the secretary of the Dicastery for Eastern Churches, the dissenting group sought evidence of his papal appointment. They sought clarification since neither Archbishop Vasil nor the apostolic nunciature had presented an official letter of designation.

The Vatican’s move to appoint Archbishop Vasil as a pontifical delegate showcases the importance it places on reconciling the deep-seated divisions within the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly. The archbishop’s presence in Kochi, the heart of the conflict, is indicative of the Vatican’s intention to mediate and resolve this ongoing liturgical dispute.

Nonetheless, the controversy remains far from resolved. The UCA News report underscores the skepticism held by a significant group of priests and laypeople who challenge the legitimacy of Archbishop Vasil’s appointment. This skepticism is rooted in the differing perspectives on liturgical practices, with a strong adherence to the prior tradition of the priest facing the congregation throughout the liturgy.

The Synod’s ruling in 1999 aimed to standardize liturgical practices across the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church. The decision to have priests face the altar during specific moments and the congregation during others was seen as a compromise to bridge the gaps between varying practices that had emerged over time.

While many dioceses fell in line with the Synod’s guidelines, the Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly chose to retain its long-standing practice of the priest facing the congregation. The subsequent decision to retract the dispensation led to substantial discontent among certain clergy and laity, giving rise to the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency.

This movement’s persistence in adhering to the practice established in 1970, wherein the priest remains oriented towards the congregation, reflects the deep-seated attachment to tradition and resistance to change. The liturgical orientation, for them, is not merely a matter of practice but a symbol of identity and continuity.

The doubts raised by the dissenting group regarding Archbishop Vasil’s appointment reveal a broader skepticism towards the Vatican’s involvement and its proposed solution. The absence of an official letter of designation has fueled suspicions and concerns about the transparency and authenticity of the process.

Riju Kanjookaran, the spokesperson of the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency, told UCA News Aug.7, “Our delegates met Archbishop Vasil. He is not ready to listen to us, instead, he wants us to simply comply with the uniform Mass adopted by the synod. It leaves no scope for any further discussion or dialogue.”

The liturgical dispute within the Syro-Malabar Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly continues to stir controversy and division. The Vatican’s appointment of Archbishop Vasil as a pontifical delegate to mediate the situation demonstrates its commitment to resolving the issue. However, challenges persist, as a substantial group remains skeptical about the legitimacy of the appointment and steadfastly clings to the traditional liturgical practice. As Archbishop Vasil’s involvement unfolds, the archdiocese and the broader Catholic community keenly await the resolution of this intricate and deeply rooted liturgical conflict.

Inaction In The Face Of Climate Crisis: A Dire Path Forward

In the wake of the scorching events of July, anyone who remains skeptical about the reality of global warming is entrenched in denial that would rival ignoring a blazing inferno despite one’s own clothes being ablaze. Shockingly, numerous Americans continue to disregard the scientifically-established truths, opting instead to embrace the falsehoods perpetuated by the fossil fuel industry, their political allies, and the so-called experts who have compromised their integrity for the industry’s gain.

Equally culpable are those of us who acknowledge the irrefutable evidence of climate change, yet fail to take meaningful action to counter the escalating chaos. We are akin to frogs languishing in a slowly heating pot of water, oblivious to the rising temperature and the impending danger we face. July, having secured its place as the hottest month ever recorded in human history, demonstrated the severity of the issue. In regions like Phoenix, emergency rooms were inundated with victims of heatstroke and burns from sizzling pavements and metal surfaces. Notably, heat-related fatalities outpace hurricane-related deaths in the United States. On a global scale, a staggering 5 million individuals succumb annually to heat-related causes.

Picture : MSN

It’s the vulnerable—the elderly, the infirm, the impoverished, and the homeless—who bear the brunt of the heat’s fury. While the affluent and middle class can retreat to air-conditioned havens, this worsens the situation by increasing CO2 emissions due to electricity consumption. Tragic deaths also resulted from floods triggered by the capacity of warm air to hold more moisture during storms. This summer, the Northeast and Pakistan suffered devastating flooding, while the western United States faced both replenishing rains and ruinous floods that razed homes and farmland. The inevitability of future droughts looms ominously.

The cumulative impact of heatwaves and deluges translates into billions of dollars in damages and lost productivity, while concurrently producing a wave of climate refugees forced to migrate in search of survival. And yet, as harrowing as this scenario may seem, it represents only the inception of the irreversible harm we are inflicting upon our planetary abode.

Across the globe, mountain glaciers are receding, thereby imperiling the dependable water sources of millions. Coral reefs, which took centuries to flourish and serve as the ocean’s nurseries, are succumbing to warm water and heightened acidity. Their demise would herald the extinction of myriad marine species that rely on these reefs for habitation and breeding, irrevocably altering the oceans and the food chain.

Simultaneously, ocean levels continue to rise. Reduced ice coverage around Antarctica—though seemingly inconsequential—compromises the stability of the continent’s ice sheets. The shrinking North Pole ice cap further exacerbates oceanic heat absorption, as ice normally reflects sunlight. The central question revolves around the pace at which this climatic catastrophe will unfurl. Some experts foresee the worst-case scenario unfolding in the next century, while others sound the alarm about tipping points that could propel the crisis to rapid escalation.

“If we are able to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, U.S. sea level in 2100 is projected to be around 0.6 meters (2 feet) higher on average than it was in 2000,” according to NOAA. “On a pathway with high greenhouse gas emissions and rapid ice sheet collapse, models project that average sea level rise for the contiguous United States could be 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) by 2100 and 3.9 meters (13 feet) by 2150.”

Two ominous climate scenarios portend swifter calamity. Firstly, the destabilization and eventual release of all Greenland’s ice into the sea would translate into a 6.5-foot sea level rise. Secondly, the unfreezing of Siberian permafrost could unleash a methane deluge, propelling an abrupt global warming event. As the 22nd century dawns, future generations will not revere our technological advancements. Rather, they will condemn our legacy of failing to avert the impending environmental catastrophe, much like we condemn past generations for turning a blind eye to atrocities.

The toll will be immeasurable: millions of lives lost, potentially half the world’s population, alongside enduring suffering for billions in a resource-depleted world. Governments will crumble, chaos will reign, and Earth will bear little semblance to its former self. This devastation resonates even more acutely with believers who view this as a desecration of the divine creation bestowed upon humanity—a gift now squandered. Instead of cherishing this gift, we’ve acted as reckless children, shattering our blessings without a second thought.

Though Christians advocate shouldering burdens akin to Jesus’s cross, our actions have constructed burdens for the generations that follow. As the echoes of historical wars, pandemics, and socio-political upheavals fade, the inhabitants of future centuries will castigate us for our negligence. They will inquire why we allowed global warming to spiral out of control, despite possessing the knowledge and means to intervene. It’s a question that will resonate far beyond technological innovation—a question we must confront before our complacency seals the fate of our only home.

Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid.” I must confess that I am terrified by what is coming even though I know I will be dead before the worst happens. For once, I am happy I don’t have children. I pray for a miracle, a deus ex machina, even though we do not deserve one.

To those not yet born, all I can say is, “I’m sorry.” But I don’t expect you to forgive us.

No-Trust Motion Against Modi Govt. Fails With Walkout By India’s Opposition

The no confidence motion, passed by opposition alliance I.N.D.I.A against the Modi government, was defeated in the Lok Sabha after a heated debate Thursday, August 10th, 2023 amid a walkout by the opposition. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused the government of not doing enough to stop the Manipur violence.

The no-confidence motion moved by Congress’s Gaurav Gogoi against the Modi government was defeated in the Lok Sabha by a voice vote. The Opposition bloc INDIA leaders staged a walkout while PM Modi was replying to the no-trust motion, which was put to vote in their absence.

Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla had accepted the motion by the opposition last week after which August 8 to August 10 was set for the debate on the motion.

This is the second time Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing a no-confidence motion.

The first such motion against the Modi government was introduced in 2018 over granting a special category status to Andhra Pradesh, which was later defeated.

Picture : VOIX

The Opposition’s walkout prompted a furious rebuke from PM Modi. “Those who don’t trust democracy are always ready to make a comment but don’t have the patience to hear the rebuttal. They would speak ill and run away, throw garbage and run away, spread lies and run away.”

The opposition had tabled a no-confidence vote in Modi largely to force him to appear and speak about the three-month-long crisis, about which he had refused to say more than a few words.

Only after the opposition had walked out did Modi make a few, brief remarks about Manipur.

After accusing the opposition of not having the “patience” to listen, he said: “I want to tell the mothers and sisters of Manipur that the country and the parliament are with you.”

The current session of parliament, which began on 20 July, has been dominated by the opposition’s anger at Modi’s refusal to talk about the violence that has engulfed Manipur.

Modi assured the people of Manipur that the government is working to restore peace in the violence-hit state. “The violence in Manipur is saddening. Crimes against women are unacceptable and the central and state governments are working together to ensure the guilty are punished, “I want to tell the mothers and sisters of Manipur that the country and Parliament are with you. I want to assure the people of Manipur that we will work to develop Manipur.” Modi said, “After 2014, India secured a spot in the top five [economies]. When you bring no-trust motion in 2028, we will be in the Top 3.”

In Efforts To Influence Elections, Modi Govt. Seeks To Replace CJI In On Poll Panel Selection Committee

In a controversial move, the Modi Government has introduced a Bill removing the Chief Justice of India (CJI) from a three-member panel to select the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners. Instead of the CJI, the three-member panel, when formed, would consist of a Cabinet Minister besides the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha, and the Prime Minister, who would head it.

The Bill is expected to allow the government to have more control in the appointments of members of the poll panel, an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering national and state election processes in India.

The Supreme Court in March had ruled that a three-member panel, headed by the Prime Minister and comprising the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha and the CJI, will select the CEC and ECs till a law is framed by Parliament on the appointment of these commissioners.

Picture : Tribune India

The apex court’s order was aimed at insulating the appointment of the CEC and ECs from the Executive’s interference. A five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice KM Joseph, in a unanimous verdict, held that this norm will continue to hold good till a law on the issue is made by Parliament.

However, the BJP-led NDA government has sought to influence the process and appoint its own men on the panel, and thus influence election process favoring the ruling party and its machinery.

According to the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, a three-member selection committee headed by the Prime Minister, and comprising the LoP and a cabinet minister nominated by the PM shall select the CEC and ECs. More here

A slugfest

The bill was introduced amid an uproar by the opposition parties that accused the government of “diluting and overturning” an SC Constitution bench order. The BJP, however, said the government is well within its right to bring the bill.

“Read the Supreme Court judgement. It had suggested a transient method for appointment of the CEC in absence of a statutory mechanism. The government is well within its right to bring in a bill for the same,” BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya posted on ‘X’, formerly Twitter.

The new bill will now neutralize the judiciary’s involvement in the selection process and is likely to initiate a new confrontation between the two branches of government.

This is one of many such disputes involving the Executive and Judiciary in recent years with both bodies differing in their views starting from the Collegium system to the basic structure doctrine.

Recently, the Centre passed the contentious Delhi Services bill on July 7 circumventing SC’s judgement to strip the control of civil services in the national capital from the elected government of Delhi. The apex court on May 11, had delivered a verdict that gave the Delhi government control of services in the national capital, excluding the matters relating to public order, police and land.

Opposition, critics call out government

Meanwhile, leaders from the Opposition have called out the Modi government and accused them of trying to turn the election commission into a “partisan” body.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he has always maintained that the government will overturn any Supreme Court order that it doesn’t like and this is a dangerous situation that can impact fairness of elections.

The proposed panel will have two BJP members and one from the Congress, and therefore, whoever is selected to the poll panel will be loyal to the ruling party, Kejriwal, who is the Aam Aadmi Party’s national convener, alleged on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Congress MP and the party’s whip in Lok Sabha, Manickam Tagore, alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah want to control the EC by bringing the bill. “Modi and Shah want to control the EC as they are doing now,” Tagore wrote on X.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate called the Bill a “gimmick” to make the Election Commission a “complete puppet” in the hands of PM Modi. “Why does PM Modi need an election commissioner of his choice?  If this arbitrariness is not unconstitutional and unfair then what is?” Shrinate wrote on X.

TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Saket Ghokale said the Modi government “is making the Election Commission its own bunch of stooges” and called the bill a “clear step towards rigging the 2024 elections.”

Constitutional expert Gautam Bhatia wrote on X: “The bill will formalise executive control over appointments to the election commission (2:1 majority in the selection committee) – further moving towards an executive Constitution.”

Indian Parliament Passes Landmark Data Protection Bill

The Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament) on Wednesday, August 9th  passed the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDPB), 2023 by voice vote. The Bill will now become law after President Draupadi Murmu grants her assent.

From hefty penalties ranging from a minimum of ₹50 crore to a maximum of ₹250 crore on social media platforms for violating rules to enabling digital markets to grow more responsibly while safeguarding citizens’ data, the Data Protection Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament) on August 7.

In the Upper House, the Bill was presented for passage by Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw.

Industry leaders on Wednesday hailed the passing of the Digital Protection Data Protection (DPDP) Bill 2023 by the Parliament, saying India is rapidly digitising and hence the bill stands as a crucial and long-awaited piece of legislation which upholds an individual’s right to safeguard their digital privacy.

Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, tweeted that he feels deeply privileged at being given an opportunity by Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to help achieve this important step to protect our citizens rights and support innovation economy and governance”.

“My engagement on the issue of privacy started in 2010 and led to me filing a case in the Supreme Court as a petitioner that fought and succeeded in order that Privacy is a fundamental right,” he said.

“More than a decade on, India and Indians under PM Modi have a global standard Digital Personal Data Protection law,” the minister posted.

Union Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw moved the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023 for consideration and passing in the Rajya Sabha after the Lok Sabha had already passed it.

Ruchir Shukla, MD, Safehouse Tech said that the bill is set to establish an international benchmark for data protection frameworks. “While online safety for institutions have been prioritised thus far, this bill will ensure safeguarding individuals in the digital world too,” Shukla said.

The Data Protection Bill will assess penalties based on the nature and severity of the breach, with potential fines of up to ₹250 crore for instances of data breaches, failure to protect personal data, or failure to inform the Board and users of a breach.

The Bill will apply to the processing of digital personal data within India where such data is collected online, or collected offline and is digitised. It will also apply to such processing outside the country, if it is for offering goods or services in India.

Personal data may be processed only for a lawful purpose upon consent of an individual. Consent may not be required for specified legitimate uses such as voluntary sharing of data by the individual or processing by the state for permits, licences, benefits, and services.

Data fiduciaries will be obligated to maintain the accuracy of data, keep data secure, and delete data once its purpose has been met.

The Bill grants certain rights to individuals, including the right to obtain information, seek correction and erasure, and grievance redressal.

The Centre may exempt government agencies from the application of provisions of the Bill in the interest of specified grounds such as security of the state, public order, and prevention of offences.

According to Manish Sehgal, Partner, Risk Advisory, Deloitte India, the Bill will enhance the privacy cognisance of Indian citizens by empowering them with their privacy rights through transformative accountability measures to be adopted by the enterprises. The Bill brings in the much-needed legal framework to foster trust in digital markets. On one hand, it protects the privacy of Indian digital citizens and on the other, it enables digital markets to grow more responsibly.

In the event of a data breach, companies are mandated to promptly inform the Data Protection Board (DPB) and the affected users. Processing data of minors and individuals with guardians must be done only with the consent of guardians, according to the Bill.

Eight Lifestyle Factors Identified to Add Decades to Lifespan

A recent study unveiled during the annual gathering of the American Society for Nutrition has pinpointed eight pivotal lifestyle factors that have the potential to significantly extend an individual’s lifespan. Drawing insights from an extensive analysis encompassing 719,147 participants enrolled in the Million Veteran Program, the research underscores the benefits of engaging in regular physical activity, cultivating robust social connections, practicing sound sleep routines, abstaining from excessive alcohol consumption, adhering to a wholesome dietary regimen, refraining from smoking, effectively managing stress levels, and steering clear of opioid dependence, all of which are correlated with a noteworthy increase in longevity.

Picture : Medical News Today

In accordance with the study’s findings, individuals who wholeheartedly embraced all eight of these behaviors from the age of 40 onward were rewarded with a substantial boost in their lifespans, as compared to their counterparts who remained aloof from these practices. The upshot was particularly remarkable, with a remarkable lifespan augmentation of around 21 years observed among women and an even more impressive extension of 24 years among men. Furthermore, those individuals who rigorously adhered to the complete spectrum of these practices exhibited a remarkable 13% reduction in the risk of mortality during the duration of the study, in stark contrast to those who chose to forgo these habits entirely.

However, the study also underscored that there are advantages to be reaped even from the partial adoption of these behaviors, or commencing their practice subsequent to the age of 40. This underscores the study’s emphasis on the importance of inculcating these practices early on, to facilitate more favorable health outcomes as individuals age.

While all eight practices were underscored as critical pillars for fostering longevity, specific behaviors such as smoking, opioid consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle were intrinsically linked to an escalated jeopardy of untimely death. This poignant revelation underlines the need to prioritize these practices as a means to mitigate the looming threat of premature mortality.

Lending his expertise to the discourse, Dr. Patrick Coll, a distinguished geriatrician and the medical director for senior health at the esteemed University of Connecticut, accentuated the pivotal role of physical activity in the context of aging individuals. He expounded upon the manifold benefits of incorporating regular exercise routines, encompassing elements of resistance training, aerobic exercises, and exercises aimed at enhancing balance and flexibility. Such holistic physical engagement, he asserted, augments muscular strength and serves as an efficacious deterrent against potentially perilous falls.

In concurrence with its comprehensive findings, the study acknowledged that not all individuals enjoy uniform access to these propitious practices, owing to factors such as socioeconomic status, geographical location, and cultural disparities. The multifaceted inequities ingrained within society can exert a palpable impact upon an individual’s capacity to wholeheartedly embrace these transformative lifestyle shifts. Moreover, the researchers reiterated that the results gleaned from the study were of an observational nature and, thus, did not lay the foundation for causal relationships to be established with certitude.

The study’s profound insights contribute substantively to the burgeoning domain of research that endeavors to decipher the intricate nexus between lifestyle choices and the duration of one’s lifespan. Nevertheless, the researchers remain acutely aware of the imperative need for further in-depth investigations to definitively unravel the intricate tapestry of causation that underlies these associations.

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