WORLD INTHAVAARAM, 2022–17

About: the world this week, 24 April to 30 April 2022, War down a rabbit hole, Love in France, the musk is on Twitter, and India surround stories.

Everywhere

The War in Ukraine

We know that Russia has quietly retreated from the Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, three weeks ago, with its tail firmly between its legs-with only limited scope for wagging. And now it seems ferociously focussed, showing teeth, on capturing Eastern Ukraine-the whole of the Donbas region. Goals keep changing everyday- as do the goal posts-and I wonder where this dog-war is headed.

Reminds me of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ when Alice comes to a no-signs cross-road at which is perched, a Rabbit. Alice asks the Rabbit, “where do these roads go?” The Rabbit replies with a question, “where do you want to go?” Alice says, “I don’t know”. Then, any road will take you there — says the wise Rabbit.

Russia has fallen down a rabbit hole and Putin is in the Wonderland of War — any guesses on which road he is taking? Ask the rabbit, or the Russian bear, if you can find one?

Ukrainian forces have been holding the line in Donbas since 2014, against Russian-backed separatists. Now they are struggling and still holding a 500 km front, but what was sporadic fighting then has now turned into a full-blown war. They’ve already lost ground to the Russians and are likely to lose more in the days ahead.

Has Russia learnt from, what war-experts called, its early mistakes? It is a fact that they’re now fighting on fewer fronts, and under a more seemingly unified command.

Meanwhile, Russia claims to have conquered the port city of Mariupol, but The Azovstal Steel and Iron Works has become the scene of a desperate last stand against Russia’s invading forces.

Azovstal was a major player on the global stage, producing 4 million tons of steel annually and exporting the majority across the globe. Now, its residents are showing they too are made of steel. And for weeks now, the world has been gripped by the battle raging over the steelworks on the coast of the Sea of Azov. A pocket of Ukrainian fighters entrenched at the plant has become a symbol of the country’s unwavering resistance in the face of an enemy that far outnumbers them.

Germany had come under severe criticism, that despite making the right sounds in the beginning it has failed to follow through with measurable action in helping Ukraine. Over the previous weeks the drumbeats had grown louder. And this week, Germany made two big announcements: First, Germany is sending about 50 Gepard Air-Defense Tanks to help Ukraine repel Russian attacks. Second, they’ll be training Ukrainian soldiers on German soil.

The Gepard Tank is a favourite among military experts due to the ease of use of the two-cannon flak setup, mounted on a Leopard tank chassis. And especially when one is looking for a no-frills defence against drones.

Russia is breathing out fire and fury with endless ‘will attack’ threats to those supplying arms and other assistance to Ukraine. To show it means business, this week Russia turned off the gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. Russian energy giant Gazprom did it. In turn the European Union (EU) accused Russia of using energy to try to blackmail countries supporting Ukraine.

While this crazy war is being fought, ever thought about what’s happening to the refugees leaving Ukraine? The UN says that as of 25 April, more than 5.2 million people have left Ukraine. Refugees are also crossing to neighbouring countries to the west, mostly Poland which has taken in 2,922,978 refugees. Romania did 782,598 refugees, Hungary 496,914, Moldova 435,275, Slovakia 357,560, and the war-monger Russia itself has taken 614,318 refugees with its side-kick, Belarus doing 24,578.

At the end of the week, Putin had a ‘so-near, yet so far, ridiculously long table meeting’ with the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, where he continued to rationalise his actions and ‘showed the wrong way to a place you cannot go’. The UN Chief returned with little hope of any imminent end to the war. Later in the week he also visited Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, to see first-hand the destruction caused by Russia. In the background Russian missiles whizzed past in a fresh attack. Is that a sign of belligerence?Wonder what the impotent UN will do: can it ever find its Cannon Balls?

The Sound of Macron

This Sunday, France voted to elect a new President and it wisely decided to love-back the incumbent President, Emmanuel Macron. Five years ago, Macron, a Centrist beat Marine Le Pen, a far-rightist, with 66% of the vote. Then at 39, he became France’s youngest leader, since Napoleon.

This time Macron beat the same Le Pen with a narrower margin of 58.5 to 41.5% and became the first French leader to get re-elected in two decades. But over 13 million people in France still voted for the far-right. And 28% of voters decided to stay home, the highest percent to abstain in over 50 years. That’s not something to sing about.

Macron has been trying to attract foreign businesses, set up carbon taxes, and reform France’s social programs. But, hundreds of thousands of protesters disagreed. To compound France’s problems COVID19 and inflation wrecked havoc on the economy and it seemed that the French were prepared to do what they do best: kick out incumbents to the sidewalk. But, this time, for a change, it did not.

Le Pen’s party’s previous leader (Le Pen’s father) infamously dismissed the Holocaust as a ‘detail’ of history. Le Pen pitched voters on a platform that was, anti-immigrant, pro-tax cuts, targets Muslims, and weakens the EU. She has also cozied up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. With her loss, the EU is breathing a sigh of relief. Le Pen conceded but is calling her gains, a ‘shining victory.’ Meanwhile, Macron acknowledged the anger of those who voted against him: needs to write better music!

Let’s recall the stuff that Macron is made-up of.

Emmanuel Macron is married to Brigitte Trogneux, 24 years his senior, and his former High School teacher. They met during a theatre workshop that she was conducting when he was a 15 years old student and she a 39 years old teacher. And he was also a classmate of Brigitte’s daughter, sharing a bench with her. The student and Teacher fell in love with each other, but they only became a couple once Macron turned 18- as the law would allow. His parents initially attempted to separate the couple by sending him away to Paris to finish the final year of his schooling, considering the inappropriateness of the relationship. However, the couple reunited after Macron graduated, and were married in 2007. Brigitte has three children from a previous marriage to a Banker, who she divorced. Macron has no children of his own and has lovingly taken up the role of being a step-father to Brigitte’s three children. One of his sons is older than Macron himself.

Macron is 44 going on 45 and Brigette is 68 going on 69 standing firm and rock solid behind her husband: needs someone older and wiser to tell him what to do for things beyond his ken… and to take care of him! That’s The Sound of Macron.

Tesla to Twitter

Elon Musk is one of the World’s best known Entrepreneur, investor, and business magnate. Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, Neuralink, and OpenAI are some of the remarkable, innovative companies he has founded, or co-founded. He is almost always flying on the headlines. Perhaps reason why he decided to build a nest by buying micro-blogging site,Twitter. Oh, I tweet a lot!

This week, Elon Musk clinched a deal to buy Twitter Inc. for USD 44 billion in a transaction that will shift control of the social media platform populated by millions of users and global leaders to the world’s richest person.

Welcome to a not so boring Twitter SpaceT?

India: Harmony, Squirrels, and Troubled Neighbours

Last week India’s Jahangirpuri, in Delhi, saw violence break out between Muslims and Hindus during a procession on the occasion of Hindu God, Hanuman’s Birthday. At the beginning of the week, in a bid to set things right and spread a message of peace and communal harmony, around 200 residents of Jahangirpuri took out a ‘Tiranga Yatra’ (National Flag march) in the area, with shops and houses in the locality hoisting the tricolour to commemorate the event. India has a knack of getting back together in accordance with the hues of the national flag. And it always works!

In the South of India in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district, Kalimedu, eleven people including three children were electrocuted when a Temple Chariot-Car procession touched the overhead high-voltage power supply lines. Appears that the temple car -also carrying a mobile Electricity Generator-was negotiating a turn when it lost balance and touched the wires. The Temple car procession is an annual event and Authorities should know what’s ‘up ahead’. One of the reasons doing the rounds is the that the Temple car height always remaining the same, the height of the road was increased without scrapping the old one — a corrupt contractor at his worst. I call this gross negligence of the highest degree. Unforgivable.

Tamilnadu State is already reeling under unannounced power-cuts, when the Minister Incharge of Electricity spends time, wasting taxpayers money, singing hosannas to the Chief Minister’s Actor and Film Producer son in the Assembly. And at other times he blames ‘nutty’ Squirrels for eating the wires leading to power-cuts! Wow — it all depends on a Squirrel!

In Myanmar, the thuggish Military Junta is still busy plastering cases on deposed leader and Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi . Recall, she had led Myanmar for five years before being forced out of power in a military coup, in early 2021. This week a court sentenced Aung San Suu Kyi to five years in jail after finding her guilty in the first of 11 corruption cases against her. She has been charged with at least 18 offenses, which carry combined maximum jail terms of nearly 190 years, if found guilty.

In Sri Lanka people are on the streets calling for the Government to quit over the poor handling of the economy leading to the unprecedented crisis they are now facing. Trade Unions went on a strike asking the President to resign. However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will go on, with 117 Members of Parliament pledging support to the Rajapaksa brothers. Last heard, the World Bank has agreed to provide Sri Lanka with USD 600 million to meet payment requirements for essential imports — with USD 400 million coming-in shortly!

More elected love stories will be squirrelled in the weeks to come. Teach well, vote for World Inthavaaram.

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Once an Engineer, now a Make-in-India Entrepreneur; Wordsmith; Blogger; maybe a Farmer!

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Kumar Govindan

Kumar Govindan

Once an Engineer, now a Make-in-India Entrepreneur; Wordsmith; Blogger; maybe a Farmer!

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