WORLD INTHAVAARAM, 2022–04
About: the world this week, 23 January to 29 January 2022, Webb Eyes, a Coup, India’s Republic Day, Faith Matters, a Homecoming, and Rock Music loses Meat.
The James Webb Space Telescope docked in its final designated orbit in Space, this Monday, and would be beginning its work of looking, in earnest, once its mirrors are positioned in the desired alignment. America’s NASA announced that Webb has been fully deployed in what is known as the L2 (Second Lagrange) Orbit — a region of balance between the gravity of the Sun and the Earth, at a distance of 1.5 million kilometres from the Earth. The Sun and the Earth are always on the same side at L2 making it ideal for observatory purposes. It has taken Webb about a month to get to this ‘pole position’.
Webb hopes to unlock the secrets of the making of the Universe, and among other things examine the first light and the celestial objects that formed soon after The Big Bang occurred, 13.7 billion years ago. The Big Bang — when matter, energy, time, and space came into being — brought forth billions of galaxies of which ours, the Milky Way Galaxy, is just a speck in the mind-boggling vastness and emptiness of the Universe.
A Honest Coup
This Monday the landlocked West African country of Burkina Faso saw a Lieutenant Colonel, Paul-Henri Damiba, lead a mutiny that ousted President Roch Kabore, in a coup d’etat. And as is the ‘Gun Standard’ in such coups, the new military leader promised a return to the normal constitutional order ‘when the conditions are right’.
Damiba blamed the overthrown President for failing to contain violence unleashed by Islamist militants in the country.
Burkina Faso, once colonised by France, is one of the least developed countries in Africa. And has been severely affected by the rise of Islamist terror since the mid 2010s.
‘Burkina Faso’ means the land of the honest (upright, incorruptible) men.
Honestly, we need to see that meaning stand upright.
India’s Republic Day
This 26th January, India celebrated its 73rd Republic Day in its 75 year of Independence. This is in the background of one Eternal Flame burning at the War Memorial, a new hologram Statue of ace freedom-fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and the freshly painted, newly built Central Vista Parliament building surroundings.
It was truly a sight to behold, with the military might in war-paint, and the diverse culture of India in energetic, harmonious display of all its vibrant hues and colours.
Normally, the head of another country is invited as Chief Guest to witness the essence of India (and hopefully be intimidated by its power), but this year, owing to the COVID19 restrictions in the midst of a tacky third wave, the President of India stood himself in.
The parade kindled national and patriotic fervour. The unison and discipline of the various presentations by people from all across India was absolutely inspirational, especially the young women in the forefront of many aspects of life in India. There was Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh-India’s first woman Rafael Fighter Jet Pilot for the just-acquired Rafael Aircraft; there was Lieutenant Preeti leading the Indian Navy tableau; there was Lieutenant Manisha Bohra of the Army Ordnance Corps leading an all-male contingent; and then there was a magnificent bike show by the woman officers — the Seema Bhawani Motorcycle Team — of the Border Security Force displaying a number of bewildering bike formations. The Indian Postal Department had Women Empowerment as its theme this year, celebrating their spirit of work.
The evolution of India’s Army uniforms and rifles was on display: three contingents of the Army wore the uniforms of the previous decades and also the old rifles, while one wore the new combat uniforms and the latest Tavor (Israel Weapon Industries) rifles.
A ‘high’ light of the parade day was the grandest and largest flypast ever by 75 aircraft and helicopters, when everyone had to look-up to see a number of perfect aircraft formations, in the sky. The audience was also provided with a cockpit view of the air-harmony and dance.
And there was also a horse, called Virat, of the President’s Bodyguard retiring on the 26th January -having served over 19 years ‘looking after various President’. The President and Prime Minister went over and patted him goodbye, on the cheek.
This Republic Day was also different in other ways with the Prime Minister rolling-out special person-specific letters, in his name, to various people outside India-not necessarily Indians-who have contributed to India in their own unique way. The letters arrived at their doorstep with a bouquet presented by the Indian Embassy of that country, and was an awesome gesture in recognising what the person stood for. Keep it up India.
This week, the topic that stormed the South Indian State of Tamilnadu, was religious conversion, following the stunning death by suicide, on 19th January, of a 17 year old Class XII girl student, Lavanya, over suspected, attempted, forced religious conversion.
This happened in The Sacred Heart Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Thanjavur, run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), a Roman Catholic religious institute founded by Mother Mary of the Passion, at Ooty, then British India, in 1877. The school at the centre of the controversy itself was started in the year 1937 with the primary objective of serving the poor and socially backward children, irrespective of caste, creed, and religion.The FMM consists of an international religious congregation of women representing 79 nationalities spread over 74 countries on five continents.
The parents of Lavanya accused the School Authorities of forcing their daughter to convert. In a video statement- the veracity of which is yet to be proved-the girl said the school had tried to convert her. And when she refused, was forced by the hostel warden to clean rooms and toilets, do accounting work, and switch on & off motors on the campus: the school officials had asked the parents, in her presence, if they can ‘convert the faith of the girl’ and help her for further studies.
Lavanya, unable to bear the torture, following her supposed refusal to ply along, consumed insecticide on the school campus, earlier this month leading to her death.
This week saw protests by political parties demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the case, on the grounds of forced conversion. Political meat?
I studied in a Roman Catholic Boarding School in Southern India from the age of four upto the age I was old enough to enter University. And I do not recall even one instance of the Nun Sisters in the early stages, or the Brothers Priests in the later stages in attempting to convert me to their faith. Those were the days!
The disinvestment process in India’s Government owned Air India, started in last October, was concluded this Thursday with the Government officially handing over the management control and transferring 100% shares of Air India to Talace Private Limited a subsidiary of the Tata Group’s holding company. A new governing board will take over the Airline and the first flight under the Tatas began on 28 January 2022, with an in-flight announcement of the historic take-over.
Air India was started in 1932 by JRD Tata in a flight of self-reliance but was nationalized in 1953 by India’s then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Over the years, the Airline accumulated nothing but losses. Then to stop the bleeding, the Government decided to get its paws of the business of running an Airline. The Tata Group- one of India’s most diverse business groups-won the bid and Air India, with all its baggage and a weary Maharaja, arrived at the house of the Tatas, after 69 years ‘in the air’.
The expectations are flying high, given that Air India was once the best airline in the World.
When Michael (Marvin, at birth) Lee Aday was born in Dallas, Texas, United States, his Dad, a Cop, said he looked like Meat and the name was meat for Meat Loaf to build a dazzling career in the rock and heavy metal genre of music.
Meat Loaf, American singer and Actor known for is powerful, wide-ranging voice, theatric live shows, and considered one of the greatest rock singers this world as ever seen, died this week at age 74 of COVID19 related complications. His bombastic 1977 rock opera ‘Bat Out of Hell’ is one of the best-selling albums of all time, selling an astounding 65 million copies. It held several hits including, ‘Two Out of Three ain’t Bad’. His sequel, ‘Bat Out of Hell-II: Back Into Hell’ had the No 1 hit,’ I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do it). I particularly rocked for the song, ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’.
In 1993, Meat loaf won a Grammy Award for best Solo Rock Vocal performance for the song, I’d Do Anything for Love. He has acted in 65 movies, including, Fight Club, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Wayne’s World.
Meat Loaf’s Dad a was a violent alcoholic who would disappear for days at a time and when he did return home, would slap the son and vanish again. His Schoolteacher Mom would hop in to the car and go from bar-to-bar trying to find and bring him home.
His Mom sang in a gospel quartet and once told him, ‘good thing you’re not going to be singer, because you can’t carry a tune in a bucket’. However, in his sophomore year during athletics, when a shot put sailed 62 feet in the air and hit on the head, he discovered he had a three-and-a half octave vocal range.
When his Mom died of cancer, and Meat was 19, he was forced to leave Home as his Dad become increasingly violent, once lunging at him with a butcher knife.
He moved to Los Angeles, started acting, singing in bands, and then bumped in to song-writer Jim Steinman while auditioning for a play. The two then combined well as meat and loaf would, and churned out record-breaking albums that made history.
When Meat Loaf breathed his last, his wife Deborah and daughters Pearl and Amanda were by his side.
Heaven cannot wait: for us, he would be more than an ‘object in the rear view mirror’. There was ‘not a dry eye in the house’ when I mentioned him. RIP Meat Loaf.
More meaty stories arriving in the weeks ahead. Fly with World Inthavaaram.