Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said that he is no longer pressing for NATO membership for his country, a delicate issue that was one of Russia’s stated reasons for invading its pro-Western neighbour. In another apparent attempt aimed at placating Moscow, Zelenskyy said he was open to “compromise” on the status of two breakaway pro-Russian territories that President Vladimir Putin recognised as independent just before unleashing the invasion on 24 February. “I have cooled down regarding this question a long time ago after we understood that … NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in an interview aired on Monday night on ABC News.
“The alliance is afraid of controversial things, and confrontation with Russia,” the Ukraine President added. Referring to NATO membership, Zelenskyy said through an interpreter that he did not want to be President of a “country which is begging something on its knees”. When ABC News asked him about this Russian demand, Zelenskyy said he was open to dialogue. “I’m talking about security guarantees,” he said.
“What is important to me is how the people in those territories are going to live who want to be part of Ukraine, who in Ukraine will say that they want to have them in,” Zelenskyy said. “So the question is more difficult than simply acknowledging them,” he added. “This is another ultimatum and we are not prepared for ultimatums. What needs to be done is for President Putin to start talking, start the dialogue instead of living in the informational bubble without oxygen.”
On Wednesday, Zelenskyy tweeted a video saying, “Mariupol. Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity.” The US has been refusing to declare a no-fly zone above Ukraine, as any US-administered no-fly zone would bring the US into direct conflict with Russia.
Meanwhile, Poland’s offer to send its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine via an American airbase in Germany was rejected by the Pentagon. Warsaw had made the offer on Tuesday in response to Zelenskyy’s appeal for fighter jets to bolster his country’s air force. However, the Pentagon issued a statement saying “The prospect of fighter jets at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance. It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it. We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.” Poland’s—a Nato country—proposal would have put the Nato including the US in direct conflict with Russia.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk confirmed on Wednesday the opening of humanitarian corridors from Enerhodar, Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia, from Sumy to Poltava and other Ukrainian cities. Earlier in the day, Enerhodar’s head announced the opening of a humanitarian corridor on Wednesday to evacuate residents to Zaporizhzhia. The local authorities in Bucha, in turn, said that residents of the city and Vorzel will be evacuated to Kyiv on Wednesday. “From 09:00 [local time, 07:00 GMT], a ceasefire will be introduced on the following routes: Enerhodar- Zaporizhzhia, Sumy-Poltava, Izyum-Lozova, Mariupol-Zaporizhia, Volnovakha-Pokrovsk, Vorzel, Borodyanka, Bucha, Irpin, Hostomel (Kyiv region) – Kyiv,” Vereshchuk told reporters. It is also planned to evacuate 55 children and staff from the orphanage in the city of Vorzel, the official said.
Earlier, Russia had announced a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine for Wednesday morning for the evacuation of the civilian population, media reports said. The announcement came after both sides previously accused each other of disrupting humanitarian corridors. The Russians said that they were ready to provide corridors from Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Zaporizhzhia.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister tweeted, “Russia continues holding hostage over 400.000 people in Mariupol, blocks humanitarian aid and evacuation. Indiscriminate shelling continues. Almost 3.000 newborn babies lack medicine and food. I urge the world to act! Force Russia to stop its barbaric war on civilians and babies!”
Meanwhile, acknowledging the strategic partnership between India and Russia, Sviatoslav Yurash, Ukraine’s youngest Member of Parliament on Wednesday asserted that in light of the Ukraine crisis, India needs to reconsider its position on Moscow. “As far as India-Russia is concerned, you have a treaty on strategic friendship and partnership, I think that needs to be reconsidered in light of not just Ukraine, but all misdeeds that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime has been doing for the last 20 years. Russia needs to be punished by India,” he said. He further praised India for the humanitarian measures taken to help those affected by the Russian military operation against Ukraine and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for speaking with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the current situation in Ukraine.
The MP in an interview with ANI said, “India is one of those countries which will decide the fate of this century. As far as the Indian position on the Russian relationship is concerned, thankful for the call Prime Minister Narendra Modi made to our President. We’re thankful for the humanitarian steps that India has been making.”
In a related development, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi said in a statement that the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) was no longer transmitting data from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the facility. The Director-General indicated that remote data transmission from safeguards monitoring systems installed at the Chornobyl NPP had been lost, the IAEA press release said, adding that, the Agency was looking into the status of safeguards monitoring systems in other locations in Ukraine and will provide further information soon. The Director-General also raised deep concerns about the rotation of staff at the nuclear facility which was also the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters in 1986.
Director-General Grossi stressed that staff operating nuclear facilities must be able to rest and work in regular shifts, stating that it is crucial for overall nuclear safety. “I’m deeply concerned about the difficult and stressful situation facing staff at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and the potential risks this entails for nuclear safety. I call on the forces in effective control of the site to urgently facilitate the safe rotation of personnel there,” Grossi said.
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SATELLOGIC AND UP42 TEAM UP TO OFFER RAPID MONITORING CAPABILITIES
Satellogic Inc. (NASDAQ: SATL), a leader in sub-meter resolution Earth Observation (“EO”) data collection, announced today that it has agreed with UP42, a geospatial developer platform and marketplace enabling direct access to Satellogic’s satellite tasking high-resolution multispectral and wide-area hyperspectral imagery via the UP42 API-based platform. The agreement includes the archive of high-frequency, high-resolution Satellogic data.
The companies made the announcement today at the Geospatial World Forum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where UP42 CEO Sean Wiid and Satellogic Business Development & Sales Director Eldridge de Melo are featured, speakers.
“This exciting new collaboration gives UP42 customers a distinct advantage in rapidly creating geospatial solutions,” said UP42’s CEO Sean Wild. “Users can now derive insights from Satellogic data using algorithms and data fusion via our developer-first platform.”
Direct API access to Satellogic’s multi- and hyperspectral data – with intraday updates – supports rapid, timely, and frequent monitoring of critical assets in diverse sectors, such as energy, utilities, local government, and security. The UP42 platform’s REST API and Python SDKs can be fully customized, allowing UP42 users to build cost-effective solutions and quickly deliver end products to their clients.
“Our mission of democratizing access to critical Earth Observation data means making our data available where it’s convenient for end-users,” said Thomas VanMatre, VP of Global Business Development at Satellogic. “UP42 is a leading geospatial marketplace with value-added capabilities, enabling its customers to access and analyze data without extensive expertise. It is collaborations like this alliance with UP42 that will increase adoption of EO data across new markets, driving better decision making and outcomes.”
The growing Satellogic constellation currently consists of 22 operational small satellites, capable of acquiring 4-band (RGB NIR) multispectral data at 70 cm (1m native) spatial resolution over a 5km swath and up to 29-band (460-830nm) hyperspectral imagery at 25m resolution over a 125km swath.
During pre-processing, Satellogic imagery is optimized for analysis by Machine Learning (“ML”) and Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) applications – a significant benefit for UP42 users who will have access to more than 75 ML/AI algorithms on the UP42 platform.
UP42 users will be able to apply Satellogic data sets and extracted knowledge to support projects in a range of applications spanning the public and private sectors, including Agriculture and Forestry, Energy and Sustainability, Critical Infrastructure Management, Finance, and Insurance, Environment and Climate, and Government.
OTT is giving more opportunities to actors: Aamna Sharif
In an exclusive interview with NewsX, actress Aamna Sharif mentioned that OTT is giving her the scope to perform different things as an actor and she is grateful that she is being able to be a part of all three platforms. For an actress, digital or OTT is an interesting place to be, plus the medium is big and gives opportunity to every actor for different sorts of roles and performances.
Actress Aamna Sharif recently joined NewsX for a fun conversation as part of our special series NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the actress opened up about her role in the series Aadha Ishq, what drew her to the role, and much more.
Speaking about what attracted her to ‘Adha Ishq’, Aamna said, “The title itself is beautiful. I believe all of us have experienced adha ishq once in our life. It is a beautiful love story between Sahil and Roma, the journey of Roma (played by Aamna). The story shows the ten years of Roma’s journey of what happens in her life. The interesting part of this love story is that a couple in love gets separated and later their children fell in love. It’s a different concept which is most exciting.”
Talking about doing a romantic genre, she said she loves being a part of such projects as she is a romantic person and loves watching love stories. Adding further, she said, “I have been playing different roles and was waiting for something like this to come, something as intense as Aadha Ishq.”
When asked about her experience of working in an OTT platform and the scope of digital platforms, Aamna said, “I am loving it, I think it’s a blessing for all the actors because of the kind of scope it provides to all the actors for performances. The last show, which I did, was also a very challenging role and Roma has so many layers to its character. It’s a dream for any actor to do such challenging roles and OTT is giving that scope and space.”
Aamna further shared that it is very important to watch other actors’ performances. She explained that she loves watching the work of other actors as it is important to learn as an actor.
When asked about her previous role in Komolika, Aamna said, “I was scared to play Komollika as I have never played such a role ever before, even though in ‘Ek Villian’ my character had shades of grey but not as much as Komollika in KZK2.”
While talking about her last two years’ experience, Aamna said “The last two years have taught us to value small moments in life and be grateful towards life.”
Aamna further stated that OTT is giving her the scope to perform different things as an actress and she is grateful that she is being able to be a part of all three platforms.
Aamna Sharif stated that ‘Kahiin Toh Hoga’ was a game-changing project for her as it changed her life.
ADANI ACQUIRES HOLCIM STAKE IN ACC-AMBUJA
The Adani Family, through an offshore special purpose vehicle, announced that it had entered into definitive agreements for the acquisition of Switzerland-based Holcim Ltd’s entire stake in two of India’s leading cement companies Ambuja Cements Ltd and ACC Ltd.
Holcim, through its subsidiaries, holds 63.19% in Ambuja Cements and 54.53% in ACC (of which 50.05% is held through Ambuja Cements). The value for the Holcim stake and open offer consideration for Ambuja Cements and ACC is USD 10.5 billion, which makes this the largest ever acquisition by Adani, and India’s largest-ever M&A transaction in the infrastructure and materials space.
“Our move into the cement business is yet another validation of our belief in our nation’s growth story,” said Gautam Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group. “Not only is India expected to remain one of the world’s largest demand-driven economies for several decades, but India also continues to be the world’s second-largest cement market and yet has less than half of the global average per capita cement consumption. In statistical comparison, China’s cement consumption is over 7x that of India’s. When these factors are combined with the several adjacencies of our existing businesses including the Adani Group’s ports and logistics business, energy business, and real estate business, we believe that we will be able to build a uniquely integrated and differentiated business model and set ourselves up for significant capacity expansion.”
Adani added, “Holcim’s global leadership in cement production and sustainability best practices brings to us some of the cutting-edge technologies that will allow us to accelerate the path to greener cement production. In addition, Ambuja Cements and ACC are two of the strongest brands recognized across India. When augmented with our renewable power generation footprint, we gain a big headstart in the decarburisation journey that is a must for cement production. This combination of all our capabilities makes me confident that we will be able to establish the cleanest and most sustainable cement manufacturing processes that will meet or exceed global benchmarks.”
“I am delighted that the Adani Group is acquiring our business in India to lead its next era of growth,” said Jan Jenisch, CEO of Holcim Limited. “Gautam Adani is a highly recognized business leader in India who shares our deep commitment to sustainability, people, and communities. I would like to thank our 10,000 Indian colleagues who have played an essential role in the development of our business over the years with their relentless dedication and expertise. I am confident that the Adani Group is the perfect home for them as well as our customers to continue to thrive.”
With India’s cement consumption at just 242 kg per capita, as compared to the global average of 525 kg per capita, there is significant potential for the growth of the cement sector in India. The tailwinds of rapid urbanization, the growing middle class, and affordable housing together with the post-pandemic recovery in construction and other infrastructure sectors are expected to continue driving the growth of the cement sector over the next several decades.
Ambuja Cements and ACC currently have a combined installed production capacity of 70 MTPA. The two companies are among the strongest brands in India with immense depth of manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure, represented by their 23 cement plants, 14 grinding stations, 80 ready-mix concrete plants, and over 50,000 channel partners across India.
Both Ambuja and ACC will benefit from synergies with the integrated Adani infrastructure platform, especially in the areas of raw material, renewable power, and logistics, where Adani Portfolio companies have vast experience and deep expertise. This will enable higher margins and return on capital employed for the two companies. The Companies will also benefit from Adani’s focus on ESG, Circular Economy, and Capital Management Philosophy. The businesses will continue to be deeply aligned to UN Sustainability Development Goals with a clear focus on SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), and SDG 13 (Climate Action).
The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and conditions.
CONCERNS GROW ABOUT THE ELDERLY POPULATION OF INDIA
India has been witnessing an upward trend when it comes to the living arrangement patterns of elderlies. Many today are staying alone or just with their spouses. The features of joint family systems are not just declining but vanishing speedily in correlation with economic development and modernization.
‘For there is assuredly nothing dearer to a man than wisdom and though age takes away all else, it undoubtedly brings us that.” Affirmed Cicero, the Roman philosopher, ages ago. It is time we question ourselves if at all we are valuing this wisdom. One of the indicators of India’s progress should compel us to think through much deeper than this. The increase in life expectancy at birth in India, which is 70 years (United Nations Population Division. World Population Prospects: 2019) is indeed catching up with the global average of 73.4 years. This increase is resulting in a surge in the number of elderly people, with projections of 300 million elderly (more than 20% of the total population) by 2050. Catching up with the global average in statistics is not accompanied by adequate facilities, services, and support systems as a whole that can be considered age-friendly. This only means that India has to work much harder to catch up economically as well as socially.
One of the largest nationwide surveys called ‘Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI)’ published in 2021 has turned out to be an eye-opener on aspects related to the burden of disease, functional health, and the social and economic wellbeing of elderlies. LASI covered a panel sample of 31464 individuals aged and their spouses aged 60 years and above and 6,749 oldest-old persons aged 75 and above from 35 states and union territories of India (excluding Sikkim).
The demographics are mindboggling, 2020 was the year when the world witnessed the number of people older than 60 years of age surpass the number of children under 5 years of age. The resultant life extension, without reducing aging, has increased the extent of aging and age-related diseases. This dramatic increase in life expectancy has increased the risk of disease, disability, dementia, and advanced aging before death. An elderly in India rightly exclaims: “Years are being added to my life, life is not being added to my years: the extra years are being added at the very end of my life and are of poor quality.
Talking about systems and mechanisms that extend care, services, and support to the older people, a lot depends on the settings which vary from those residing in their own homes, and those that access support through old age homes, nursing homes, day-care centres, and many more such units depending on the nature of the problems they face. Essentially, care of the elderly also necessitates ways and means that need to be evolved to address varied issues of varied elderly. The elderly population is not a homogenous group, especially in a diverse society like India. The
Concerns of the young-old and oldest-old vary considerably in terms of financial security, functional competencies, loneliness, and social and work participation. Heterogeneity is visible when it comes to urban and rural geographies. Those residing in rural areas are comparatively less vulnerable when compared to their urban counterparts. As much as the reality reflects that no two elderlies are the same, even the government does not view them in the same frame as far as their needs and challenges are concerned. These obvious disparities naturally fail to register their problems as most elderly get classified based on caste and other socio-cultural dimensions. Likewise, pension and social security are also restricted to those who have worked in the organized sector, as against those who have been labourers for a lifetime in the unorganized sector.
India has also been witnessing an upward trend when it comes to the living arrangement patterns of elderlies. Many today are staying alone or just with their spouses.
The features of joint family systems are not just declining but vanishing speedily in correlation with economic development and modernization. Services that respond to the needs of the elderly are another side of the coin. Despite an aging population, geriatric care is unheard of in our country. Both the system and services focus little on this very age group, with no dedicated facilities for elderly people. Whatever little is available, exists in urban areas alone. One of the greatest challenges that show an increasing trend is elder abuse among those that are functionally impaired, and live all alone.
While the nurturing of an age-friendly ecosystem for the elderlies will take its own time, as the current focus is on adolescents and youth in the light of demographic dividend, a clear strategy to leverage their existence by sensitizing them regarding the challenges of elderlies should not be ignored. Over and above the commitment from governments, a comprehensive support system for the elderly is possible only with the involvement of the elderly themselves, their families, and the communities next door, as the challenges are not limited to economic needs, socio-cultural disparities, or health care requirements alone, the spectrum is much wider than what can be explained in words.
Enhancing the social participation of older adults is a critical factor in achieving the goals of successful aging. Such a participative perspective is indeed present in the current aging discourse the more active the elderlies are, the more they contribute to society. However, the social participation of the elderly has not yet been a focus of the aging discourse in India.
Coming back to the wisdom which Cicero talked about, our socio-cultural fabric should be willing and ready to print the images that emerge from the immense experience of the personal and professional lives of elderlies. It is time we leverage this for a better tomorrow.
The author has attained her PhD in Public Health Policy with a specific reference to policies of government of India vis-à-vis the population, reproductive health and family welfare aspects.
Rajnath Singh to launch ‘Surat’ and ‘Udaygiri’ warships today
On 17 May 2022, the nation will witness a landmark event in the history of indigenous warship building when two frontline warships of the Indian Navy— Surat, a Project 15B Destroyer and Udaygiri, a Project 17A Frigate— will be launched concurrently at Mazgaon Docks Limited, Mumbai. Shri Rajnath Singh, Hon’ble Raksha Mantri will be the Chief Guest for both the events.
The Project 15B class of ships are the next-generation stealth guided-missile destroyers of the Indian Navy being built at the Mazgaon Docks Ltd, Mumbai. ‘Surat’ is the fourth ship of Project 15B Destroyers which heralds a significant makeover of the P15A (Kolkata Class) Destroyers and is named after the commercial capital of the state of Gujarat and also the second-largest commercial hub of western India after Mumbai. Surat city has a rich maritime and ship-building history and vessels built in the city in the 16th and 18th centuries were known for their longevity—of more than 100 years. The ship Surat has been built using the Block construction methodology which involved hull construction at two different geographical locations and has been joined together at MDL, Mumbai. The first ship of this class was commissioned in 2021. The second and third ships have been launched and are at different stages of outfitting/ trials.
‘Udaygiri’, named after a mountain range in the state of Andhra Pradesh, is the third ship of Project 17A Frigates. These are follow-on of the P17 Frigates (Shivalik Class) with improved stealth features, advanced weapons and sensors, and platform management systems. ‘Udaygiri’ is the reincarnation of erstwhile ‘Udaygiri’, the Leander Class ASW Frigate, which saw numerous challenging operations in its illustrious service to the country spanning over three decades from 18 Feb 1976 to 24 Aug 2007. Under the P17A program, a total of seven ships, with 04 at MDL and 03 at GRSE are under construction. Various novel concepts and technologies like Integrated Construction, Mega Block Outsourcing, Project Data Management/ Project Lifecycle Management (PDM/PLM) etc have been adopted for the first time in indigenous Warship Design and Construction in this project. It may be recalled that the first two ships of P17A Project, were launched in 2019 and 2020 at MDL and GRSE respectively.
NEARLY 57,000 PEOPLE ACROSS 7 DISTRICTS AFFECTED AMID ASSAM FLOODS
Around 57,000 people across seven districts of Assam have been affected by the current spell of flood in the northeastern state, according to an official statement.
The data also shows that nearly 222 villages under 15 revenue circles are affected in this wave of flood and around 10321.44 hectares of cultivated land has submerged under flood waters. Three people including a child died during this natural calamity in Assam. Apart from human beings, the flood has also affected 1,434 animals and a total of 202 houses have been damaged so far.
The Army, para-military forces, SDRF, Fire and Emergency Services carried out rescue and relief operations in flood-hit areas of the state. Several roads, bridges, and irrigation canals were damaged in Hojai, Lakhimpur and Nagaon districts.
Incessant rains triggered landslides in 12 villages parts of the Dima Hasao district on Saturday.
Massive landslides and waterlogging resulted in huge damages to the railway track, bridges, and road communications in this hilly terrain.
In view of incessant rain, landslides and waterlogging at several locations in the Lumding-Badarpur hill section of the Lumding division, Northeast Frontier Railway made changes in train services over the section due to this serious condition.
However, two trains got stranded, each with about 1400 passengers, NF Railway said in an official statement.
Railway initiated massive evacuation operations with the help of the Air Force, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Assam Rifles, and local people.
Around 1,245 railway passengers stranded at Ditokcherra station have been brought up to Badarpur and Silchar and 119 passengers have been airlifted by the Indian Air Force to Silchar, the Railway said in a statement.
The Railway while putting efforts into rescuing the stranded passengers is taking care of sanitation and ensuring medical facilities for every passenger. Food and drinking water have also been supplied to them.
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