WORLD INTHAVAARAM, 2023–03

Kumar Govindan
8 min readJan 21, 2023

About-the world this week, 15 January to 21 January 2023, a world of ‘Tanks’: Military Tanks Wanted; an Aircraft tanks; and empty tank in New Zealand; Tanks to fill in Davos; India’s unfilled Census Tank; and a Tennis player runs on a full tank at the Australian Open.

Everywhere

Ukraine: Tanks Wanted

The illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine bleeds on and now a hero that could secure a victory for Ukraine seems to be Tanks. Many countries supporting Ukraine have already sent or committed to sending Tanks to Ukraine to defend itself from the Russian onslaught. The pressure is also on Germany to send its Leopard-2 make tanks, which can make a significant difference on the battle-ground.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to destroy the independent existence of a neighbouring country with war crimes, genocidal actions, and relentless targeting of the civilian population, is the closest we have come since 1945 to what Adolf Hitler did in World War-II. And Germany has a unique historical responsibility to help defend a free and sovereign Ukraine. For the rest of the world, Russia should be defeated to deter future aggression by rouge-minded countries, say China, around hot-spot places such as Taiwan; or North Korea, which dances a lot on the border with South Korea.

Meanwhile, there is daily and continuing tragedy in the Russian-Ukraine War. This week, a helicopter crash killed Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Denys Monastyrskyi, his first deputy, Yevhen Yenin, other senior officials, and several children. No area seems untouched by the unbelievable situation in Ukraine.

Nepal Plane Crash: An Aircraft Tanks

Over the years commercial plane accidents have crashed to low levels, and the odd crash does makes high news.

This Sunday, Nepal’s Yeti Airlines’ Flight 691 — a twin-engine ATR 72 Aircraft — flying from Kathmandu with 72 people on board, crashed before arrival at Pokhara, which International Airport was inaugurated on 1 January 2023. All passengers have died. And this is Nepal’s worst air disaster in three decades. The plane came down in a gorge of the Seti River, near the tourist town of Pokhara: the plane rolled sharply as it approached the runway and then hit the ground, just over a kilometre from the airport. The cause of the crash is yet to be determined.

The passenger manifest consisted of 53 Nepalese, 5 Indians, 4 Russians and 2 Koreans, and 1 each from the United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, and France.

Anju Khatiwada, the co-pilot of the ill-fated flight lost her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, in a plane crash 16 years earlier. Coincidentally, he had also been co-piloting a Yeti Airlines flight-and it was his death that spurred Anju to pursue a career in aviation. Dipak was in the cockpit of a Twin Otter Prop plane, which was carrying rice and food to the western town of Nepal’s Jumla when it came down and burst into flames in June 2006, killing all nine people on board. Four years later, Anju climbed on the path to becoming a pilot, overcoming many obstacles, to train in the United States. Once qualified, she joined Yeti Airlines. A trailblazer, Anju was one of just six women employed by the airline as pilots, and had flown close to 6400 hours. “She was a brave woman”, said an Official.

New Zealand: An Empty Tank

New Zealand’s Prime Minister (PM) Jacinda Ardern, 42, has had enough and is calling it quits. This week, Ardern announced she will resign as PM next month, saying, “I no longer have enough in the tank”, to lead. She choked as she detailed how six challenging years in the job had taken a toll. She had taken time to consider her future, over the summer break, hoping to find what she needed to carry on, but unfortunately she could not, and hence the decision.

Ardern will step down as Labour Party leader around 7th February. Meanwhile, there will be a vote in the coming days to determine her replacement. And New Zealand goes to the polls- a General Election-on 14 October 2023.

Ardern, at 37, became the youngest female head of government in the world when she was elected PM in 2017. And a year later, she became the second elected world leader to ever give birth while in office. She superbly steered New Zealand through the initial part of the Covid19 pandemic (though she could not make a success of it later on) and its ensuing recession, the Christchurch mosque shootings, and the White Island volcanic eruption. Ardern also led her Labour Party to a landslide election victory in 2020. But, in recent months, her domestic popularity has declined, according to opinion polls. She made missteps in the later stages of the Covid19 pandemic, could not get the economy back on track, and was unable to reduce inequalities in New Zealand. Lawless also ‘became common’ and has not been brought under ‘safe control’.

According to the media, Jacinda Ardern was subject to unprecedented hatred and constant abuse during her time in power, which could have inadvertently taken a toll on her and driven her to make the big announcement… and sleep well after a long time!

Some people have that intuition to move on after a job in done — on their calling. Maybe Jacinda Arden discovered that, and now needs to fill her tank with other kinds of fuel.

Money Matters: Tanks to Fill

The Switzerland based international, non-governmental, lobbying, World Economic Forum (WEF) is holding its 53rd Annual Meeting at the mountain resort of Davos in the Eastern Alps region of Switzerland, between 16 and 20 January 2023.

The meeting brings together some top decision-makers from government, business, and civil society to address global issues and priorities for the year ahead.

This includes about 3,000 paying members and selected participants — among whom are investors, business leaders, political leaders, economists, celebrities, and journalists.

This year’s theme is, ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’. On the agenda is climate change, The Russia-Ukraine War, food security, energy, and of course, the global economy, which will be discussed across 500 sessions.

Says the WEF, “The world today is at a critical inflection point. The twin triggers of the Covid19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine war have rattled an already brittle global system. Economic growth in the world’s largest economies is stalling, while navigating headwinds from rising food and energy prices. For the first time since the 1970s, the world is facing a precarious disequilibrium with growth and inflation moving in opposite directions. Unless systemic and interconnected risks are addressed, the promise of a ‘decade of action; may become a decade of uncertainty and fragility”.

The wisdom is oozing out on the slopes of the Alps, and I hope we get a cool, nice little ’To-Do List’ as an outcome of the ‘Davos Brain-work’.

India’s Measures a Delay: Unfilled Census Tank

In the year 1881, more than 250 million people in India answered a list of questions put to them by hundreds of enumerators, and were counted in British India’s first synchronised census. For the next 130 years, after independence and through wars and other crises, India kept its date with the census. Once a decade, hundreds of thousands of enumerators visited every household in the country to gather information about people’s jobs, families, economic conditions, migration status and socio-cultural characteristics, among other parameters. It’s used to make decisions on everything from allocating Central Government funds to State Governments, and building schools, to drawing constituency boundaries for elections. And India had mastered the craft of taking a census — teaching it to other nations, as well.

“The census is not simply a count of the number of people in a country. It provides invaluable data needed to make decisions at a micro level,” says a development economist who has worked extensively on poverty and inequality.

The exercise generates a trove of crucial empirical data for administrators, policymakers, economists, demographers and anyone interested in knowing where the world’s second-most populous country (set to overtake China this year) is headed. Say, what will it mean when Indians outnumber Chinese.

But for the first time, India’s decennial census, the seventh — which was set to be held in 2021 — has been delayed, primarily due to he Covid19 pandemic, with no clarity on when it will be held. Experts say they are worried about the consequences, which range from people being excluded from welfare schemes to unbalanced resource allocation.

The Government had planned to conduct a population survey to update the National Population Register (NPR) along with the census. Opposition and regional parties have been demanding that the Government should also conduct a ‘Caste Census’ to revisit the ‘caste based quota’ in the country. The State of Bihar has also ordered a caste census in its State.

The Government is chewing on all these issues and looking at the angles. And there is no alternative to a credible national survey such as at the Census. Now, with the General Elections coming-up in mid 2024, the census can probably take place only in late 2024. And would be the first task of the new Government to get cracking on.

Australian Open: A Tank Always Full

The Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam Tournament has opened in Australia and this time Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is back. The 21-time Grand Slam winner began his campaign in style defeating Spain’s Carballes Baena in straight sets.

Defending Champion, Spain’s Rafael Nadal lost to America’s Mackenzie McDonald after sustaining an injury. And so did British Wonder Woman, Emma Raducanu to 18 years old American Coco Gauff. Gauff defeated Raducanu 6–3, 7–6 (4) to go to the third round, in a slow-burning match that saw the intensity and quality rise in the dying seconds.

England’s Andy Murray, a multiple-time runner-up at the Australian Open, played a final-like-match in his first round stunning Italy’s Matteo Berrettini -the 2022 Australian Open semifinalist- as he rolled back the years to reach the second round. Murray needed to display magic to overcome 13th seed Berrettini. He did just that, in 4 hours and 49 minutes, winning the first two sets before going down in the next two and saving a match point in the decider. He won the match by 6–3, 6–3, 4–6, 6–7 (7), and 7–6 (10–6).

Murray has regularly defied the odds since coming back from the hip surgery in 2019, which he thought would end his career. But then, he must not have realised that there was more in store for him. Two days later, Murray did it again with a comeback that ranks as simply extraordinary, even by his standards. He produced another scarcely believable display to fight back from two sets down to beat Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis in yet another epic match. In one of the longest in tennis history, Murray won 4–6 6–7 (4–7) 7–6 (7–5) 6–3 7–5 on a night of gruelling physical and mental endurance. The second-round match started at 22:20hrs and lasted 5 hours 45 minutes.

That’s back-to back mighty tough matches. Murray’s Tank is always full, hope it does not get drained to the bottom. He was not allowed to use the toilet during the match, despite making a request — maybe that kept the pressure.

Fight your battles with Tanks, play your game well, keep your tank filled, always. Stay with World Inthavaaram.

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Kumar Govindan

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