On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said that press freedoms in Pakistan has been chained through threats, intimidation, and pressure tactics by the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led regime and called for lifting curbs imposed on the media.
“Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime has gagged the media to hide its illegitimacy, incompetence and sheer failures in every sector and several independent journalists and anchor-persons have been forcibly taken off TV screens, leading them to take to social media to express their independent analysis and opinions,” he said on Monday, reported The News International. Bilawal further remarked that the suppression of free media in Pakistan is a great disservice to the nation and will only serve to add fuel to the flames of the legitimate anger and frustration of the people.
“Therefore, all censorship, including the imposed self-censorship through latent threats should be undone and the media should be allowed to play its role as an independent watchdog,” he mentioned.
Expressing concern that Pakistan had dropped to 145 out of 180 countries in the Press Freedom Index, the PPP chairman vowed that his party will continue to fight against curbs on free media, reported The News International.
The opposition party called for legislation to end impunity of crimes against journalists and an end to visible and invisible manipulations to control media content on various pretexts, the Pakistani daily further reported.
“In addition to the usual threats of murder, physical assault and abduction of media personnel, we are also witnessing control of media content in the name of national security,” said the PPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar on Sunday, adding that it was time to set up a bipartisan parliamentary committee on ‘freedom of expression’.
According to the Freedom Network’s annual state of the Press Freedom 2021 report, Islamabad has emerged as the riskiest place to practice journalism.
According to The News International, at least 148 cases of attacks and violations against the media and its practitioners, including journalists, took place over the course of one year – between May 2020 and April 2021.
Pakistan has for several years continued a poor track record on press freedom. The 2020 world press freedom index compiled by Reporters Without Borders has reported that Pakistan slipped six spots since 2017 to 145th place out of 180 countries.
The New York Times reported that in the last five years, as many as 11 journalists have been killed in Pakistan, seven of them since Imran Khan became the Prime Minister.
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CHINA HAS 30 MILLION UNMARRIED MEN; IS IT DUE TO SHORTAGE OF BRIDES?
A new in China shows that the country has about 30 million unmarried men, triggering speculations about shortage of brides there.
According to China’s seventh population census by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), out of the 12 million babies born last year there were 111.3 boys for every 100 girls. In 2010, the ratio was 118.1 to 100.
“Normally in China, men marry women who are much younger than they are, but as the population ages, there are even more older men, which exaggerates the situation,” ANI quoted Prof Stuart Gieten-Basten as saying.
Bjourn Alpermann, another professor, warned of a huge shortfall in potential brides by the time the babies born reached marriageable age. “Of these 12 million babies that were born last year, 600,000 boys will not be able to find a marriage partner their same age when they grow up,” he said.
China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1979 and withdrawn in 2016, had exacerbated the practice of sex-selective abortion in favour of boys, said Jiang Quanbao, a demography professor.
Meanwhile, SCMP reported citing the NBS that China’s fertility rate was 1.3 children per woman, well below the 2.1 needed to maintain a stable population.
Highlighting that men from lower classes faced the most difficulty in finding brides, Cai Yong, an associate professor of social demography warned that without marriage, they will suffer “poorer physical and psychological health”.
“As long as the preference for boys does not change, it will skew the sex ratio at birth. With such preferences, people still will find a way to select boys over girls and more female fetuses will be aborted,” he said.
Gates quit board as Microsoft probed his affair with employee
Resignation of Bill Gates in 2020 from Microsoft’s Board of Directors came after the board hired a law firm to investigate a romantic relationship he had with a Microsoft employee that was deemed inappropriate, people familiar with the matter said.
Quoting Wall Street Journal, CNN reported that some Microsoft Directors began an investigation in 2019 into the woman’s allegations of prior sexual relationship with Bill Gates. During the probe, some board members decided it was no longer suitable for Gates to sit as a Director at the software company he started and led for decades, the people said.
Gates resigned before the Board’s probe was completed and before the full board could make a formal decision on the matter, another person familiar with the matter said, reported Wall Street Journal. “Microsoft received a concern in the latter half of 2019 that Bill Gates sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
GASPING FOR OXYGEN, NEPAL ASKS MOUNTAINEERS TO BRING BACK CANISTERS FOR COVID PATIENTS
Running short of oxygen for patients of Covid-19, Nepal has requested mountain climbers of ongoing Spring Expedition to bring back their canisters so that it can be refilled to supply medical gas (oxygen) to the patients. With Covid-19 surging in the country, patients are gasping for oxygen as there is a dearth of oxygen containers.
Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) has requested climbers to bring back their empty or unused cylinders so that it can be used for oxygen refilling.
“We now are facing the second wave of infection which has created grave kind of situation and crisis, matter is going out of hand. Cylinders (oxygen) which arrived back from the expedition can be used at this hour of crisis. We are lending our hands to government, various associations and those who are working on it,” said Santa Bir Lama, president of NMA.
“In the ongoing expedition all the climbers are on base camp, they possess ample number of cylinders. We have requested owners and operators to bring back cylinders immediately after completion of expedition to use it for the benefit of people,” Lama added. ANI
CHINA’S DEADLY SUICIDE DRONE ARMY IS IN THE WORKS
The future battlefield belongs to attack drones or flying artillery shells and China is now is looking to buy Kamikaze drones. Michael Peck in an article in The National Interest said that the US ally Israel first taught China about suicide drones. Now Beijing is looking for its own. China got its first taste of suicide drones when Israel sold it the Harpy in the 1990s, to the displeasure of the US government. The Chinese military wants two types of suicide drones, according to an announcement posted on a Chinese military procurement Web site. The desired technical specifications of the drones, or the number to be purchased, are classified, reported The National Interest.
As per Peck, Chinese drone manufacturers do have products that might satisfy the demands of the People’s Liberation Army.
In 2018, China Aerospace unveiled the CH-901, which Chinese media described as being 4 feet long and weighing 20 pounds, with a speed of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, a range of 15 kilometers (9 miles), and an endurance of two hours. The larger WS-43 is a 500-pound weapon with a range of 60 kilometers (37 miles) and an endurance of 30 minutes.
Called “loitering munitions” by military customers who are understandably reluctant to refer to them as suicidal, these weapons seek to bridge the gap between artillery shells – which can’t stay up in the air – and strike drones like America’s Reaper and Predator, which are big and expensive unmanned aircraft.
Loitering munitions feature a propeller, wings, a warhead, and a camera. They orbit an area, scanning it with their cameras to identify targets and transmitting the images back to the operator. When the operator sees a worthwhile target, he can command the drone to perform a death-dive on the target, reported The National Interest.
The potential uses of these weapons are numerous. Aerovision’s Switchblade, which the US Marine Corps ordered in 2018, is a handheld 6-pound weapon that fits inside a soldier’s backpack.
Switchblade is designed for situations such as troops encountering a mortar on the reverse slope of a hill that can’t be hit by direct-fire weapons. Instead of waiting for artillery or airstrikes, a rifleman can pluck a Switchblade from his backpack and destroy the target.
Or, if hitting a sniper in a building risks collateral damage to civilians, a Switchblade can be flown through the window. Its warhead is no more powerful than that of a grenade, but that’s still powerful enough to take out a mortar or sniper.
Israel’s Harpy, designed to knock out enemy radar sites, is a much larger weapon. Introduced in 1990 as probably the world’s first suicide drone, the 300-pound Harpy has a range of up to 250 miles and an endurance of two hours. It is similar to a traditional anti-radiation missile that homes in on signals from a radar station.
However, unlike a missile, it can stalk an area for hours, waiting for an unwary operator to switch on radar before it autonomously flies toward the target, reported The National Interest.
For the US military and other potential Chinese adversaries, this is one more advanced weapon that they may encounter in battle. Like drones in general, loitering munitions can be hard to detect and shoot down, especially the smaller models.
Even worse, those Chinese loitering munitions may be popping up outside of China. Beijing may have become the world’s No 2 arms exporter, whose aircraft, tanks, and rifles can be found across the globe. This means that American soldiers could face Chinese-made suicide drones in hotspots such as Africa and the Middle East, said Peck.
WITH ANI INPUTS
ISRAEL LAUNCHES HEAVY AIR STRIKES AS GAZA FIGHTING ENTERS SECOND WEEK
Israel launched heavy air strikes in Gaza and the Hamas kept up its rocket attacks on Israeli cities in fighting that spilled into a second week on Monday, with the death toll nearing 200. Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that an end to hostilities was not imminent even as International calls mounted for a ceasefire.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza entered its eighth consecutive day after raids on Sunday killed at least 42 Palestinians, wounded dozens more, and flattened at least two residential buildings. The home of Gaza’s Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, was also targeted, as reported by Aljazeera news. At least 192 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the latest violence began last Monday. Israel has reported 10 dead.
The United Nations Security Council met on Sunday to discuss the worst outbreak of violence in years in Palestine and Israel. US President Biden conferred with Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, about efforts to broker a ceasefire. While supporting Israel’s right to defend itself from rocket attacks by Hamas, Biden urged Netanyahu to protect civilians and journalists.
Over the past week, the 15-member UN Security Council met privately at least twice to discuss ways of reducing tensions. But efforts to reach an agreement on a statement or to hold an open meeting had faced resistance from the United States, Israel’s biggest defender on the council.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter: “All parties need to deescalate tensions—the violence must end immediately”, after he spoke with Egypt’s foreign minister about ongoing violence in Israel, Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
At a meeting on Sunday of the UN Security Council, the United States said that it has made clear to Israel, the Palestinians and others that it is ready to offer support “should the parties seek a ceasefire”.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s campaign in Gaza was continuing at “full force”, and that deterrence had to be achieved to prevent future conflict with Hamas, which rules Gaza. “We are acting now, for as long as necessary, to restore calm and quiet to you, Israel’s citizens. It will take time,” Netanyahu said in a televised address after his security Cabinet met on Sunday.
US President Biden said his administration is working with all parties towards achieving a sustained calm. “We also believe Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live in safety and security and enjoy equal measure of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” he said in a pretaped video aired at an event marking the Muslim Eid holiday on Sunday.
Biden’s envoy, Hady Amr, arrived in Israel on Friday for talks, and an official with first-hand knowledge of his meetings said on Sunday that he reiterated “full US support” for Israel’s right to defend itself. He also made clear that Washington understood that “this is clearly not something that can be wrapped up in 24 hours,” said the official, who asked not to be identified.
In New York, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council that hostilities in Israel and Gaza were “utterly appalling” and called for an immediate end to fighting. He said the United Nations was “actively engaging all sides toward an immediate ceasefire” and urged them “to allow mediation efforts to intensify and succeed.” UN envoys have helped to mediate past truces between Israel and Hamas.
Maritime Museology as tool for commemorating oceanic legacy
Museology is a relatively unsung element of our narrative that is critical to gain insight into the history of humankind and learn the triumphs and tragedies of a bygone era. A culture can be recorded for posterity with meticulous documentation and proper artefact preservation. Exhibits have a way of bringing history to life by telling stories on a global as well as a local scale. This includes the journey of a nation through accounts of civilisations and empires along with the narratives of various local communities. Iconic museums like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly Prince of Wales), or the CST Railway Heritage Museum and even the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, Dinosaur Museum in Balasinor are a few cases in context.
The subaltern segment of museology and culture presents the tragic saga of maritime museums which ought to otherwise be an important part of our heritage and the journey of nation-building. This often gets neglected. Though the oceanic world envelops our country from three sides, it is still an aspect that is frequently overlooked. The National Maritime Museum was inaugurated on 5 April 1979, due to the efforts of the Indian Maritime Legend — late Vice Admiral M.P. Awati, Founder Chairman of Maritime History Society. This museum has had its heydays and seen longer periods of a comatose existence. The museum came alive when INS Vikrant was converted into a museum ship after its decommissioning in 1997. This museum ship was docked in Mumbai and opened to the public in 2001. The project couldn’t go on for long and was later discontinued in 2012 due to lack of sustainability in a harsh marine environment. The effort to turn INS Godavari or INS Viraat into a maritime museum could not fructify.
There are a few success stories in maritime museology in India. INS Kursura, after its decommissioning, was turned into a museum ship and is currently housed in Visakhapatnam. Being a submarine museum, it is the first of its kind in South Asia. The Southern Naval Command in Kochi has a maritime museum which houses a collection of various models of ship, weapons used by the Navy, etc. India is gearing towards the making of its first National Maritime Heritage Complex (NMHC) near the ancient port site of Lothal. It is expected to be open to the public by 2023. The location of the museum is particularly significant with Lothal being one of the earliest port cities in the world.
A maritime nation needs to commemorate its seafaring saga and coastal identity. The Indian Ocean has been a major means of communication from the earliest times when long-distance oceanic navigation between the eastern coast of Africa to the southeast part of Asia bridged by this dominating geographical entity, India, extended even beyond this region to much of Europe for many millennia. It has witnessed extensive maritime trade, naval expeditions and pilgrimages across the ocean routes. Oceanic activity in the region encouraged by the unique feature of monsoons allowed countries to have active participation in maritime trade thus creating a long history covering over five millennia, from the dawn of the Harappan civilisation. Therefore, maritime history and heritage bear testimony to our strong connections and relationships with the sea.
Maritime heritage consists of historical and archaeological evidence revealing human interaction with the ocean and other marine bodies. The subject deals with a multitude of marine and coast related activities such as shipbuilding techniques, seafaring and navigation, ports, lighthouses and coastal communities, tourism, trade and commerce, traditional maritime practices, fishing, etc. The world that we see today is a result of such maritime expeditions combined with human inquisitiveness. The maritime activities of the past and present have led to cultural migration and the resulting assimilation has created global commerce that has influenced and changed the face of cultures all around the globe. For this reason, it is imperative that we honour this maritime legacy and celebrate the accomplishments of those who came before us.
Hidden from the public eye and despite the constraints of the pandemic induced lockdown, the Maritime History Society has sustained a nautical celebration called “Samudra Sindhu” in the form of an Interim Naval Heritage Gallery at the ground floor of the Noorbhoy Building in the Fort area of Mumbai. It has acquired and taken care of over 3000 books and documents of different genres and over 2000 artefacts from decommissioned naval ships. In the past 43 years, under the guidance of our patrons, curators and visionaries, the Maritime History Society has deepened the realms of maritime history and heritage with significant and consistent efforts. A team of young interns are attempting to make a coherent catalogue of an assortment of memorabilia from decommissioned naval ships along with a few collections gathered over time.
Today as we celebrate International Museum Day, it would have been a good idea to spend the day at a museum, these experiences are sadly thwarted due to the pandemic induced lockdown. A large number of museums have chosen to go the virtual way, making their collection digital and curating virtual exhibitions on a wide array of topics. The National Museum in New Delhi, The British Museum, The Louvre, Van Gogh Museum, etc. are just a few examples of museums offering virtual tours for people to enjoy the feel of a museum from the comfort of their own homes. The virtual realm offers a huge variety of techniques to convert the physical experience of a museum into a virtual one. Following in the footsteps of these museums, Maritime History Society is coming up with a virtual experience as a digital episode of Samudra Sindhu, very soon.
To celebrate International Museum Day, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) releases a new theme each year. This year’s theme “The Future of the Museums: Recover and Reimagine” focuses on rethinking the museum of the future to meet the challenges of the present. Like everything else, the museum and heritage sector has been deeply affected by the ongoing crisis. With the restrictions on social and public places, we need to reimagine the museum spaces. There has been a considerable decrease in revenue generation, and with the budgets and funds redirected to handling the current emergency situation, many museums around the world are suffering huge losses.
Museums are uniquely equipped to narrate the rich history of civilisation through the objects that are housed within its walls. And reimagining them in this current scenario involves getting these stories and objects out of those walls and into a digital platform or a screen. This is a task, though seemingly easy, requires a lot of theoretical and practical understanding of the digital realm. But, going virtual seems to one of the best ways forward to stay educationally and culturally relevant in this time and age. Investing in and maintaining a digital infrastructure to reach out to our audiences and engaging with them virtually is very important. We at MHS are striving hard to overcome these challenges and we invite you to collaborate and support our cause of preserving maritime consciousness. We invite you to become our brand partners for the projects we undertake regularly to contribute to knowledge and awareness about Indian maritime history based on the resources available with you.
Museology has always needed support and funding by the state despite the few success stories of private initiatives. Care is needed that private efforts, otherwise a welcome support to cultural promotion, do not cause cannibalisation of existing collections or promotion of exclusive agenda of a few. There is a need to have an integrated, research-supported, well patronised, financially sustainable journey to enhance influence to provide maritime consciousness, sea-mindedness and bring better awareness of the larger public into the maritime domain. Maritime History Society, which recently commemorated 43 years of maritime existence, needs to be supported in every way. Do visit the website www.mhsindia.org and reach out with archive support and financial assistance for this national cause.
Maritime History Society is an organisation where we invite enthusiasts in the maritime domain who can contribute to the richness and diversity of Indian maritime history and heritage. In its constant endeavours, we aim to promote outreach activities through our educational programmes, Summer School Programme, Internship Programme, our in-house Library, and MHS collections. MHS provides a plethora of opportunities to experience amazing expressions of creativity and contribute to bringing forth a new breed of intellectuals and scholars driven with a maritime outlook for the advancement of the nation.
Ashwini Nawathe is the Archive and Collections Associate at MHS. Leanne Thothiyil is a Research Assistant at MHS.
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