Opinion - Page 10

India: Reviving Congress

What a week where the Congress party has all but made a laughing stock of itself. Ashok Gehlot has landed himself in serious trouble. He is 71. A comeback is unlikely. He has been an active, reliable, astute leader, with


Christmas Isn’t Just a Day, It’s a Frame of Mind!


Christmas is about belonging, inalienable belonging, the belonging that is literally our birthright. So, the wisdom of Christmas is primal. It transcends its particular mythic vehicle — the story of the birth of Christ. Christmas is the season to give love.

It is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25, a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. A feast central to the Christian liturgical year, it is preceded by the season of Advent or the Nativity Fast and initiates the season of Christmastide, which historically in the West lasts twelve days and culminates on Twelfth Night; in some traditions, Christmastide includes an octave. Christmas Day is a public holiday in many of the world’s nations including Bangladesh and it is celebrated religiously by a majority of Christians, as well as culturally by many non-Christians, and forms an integral part of the holiday season centred around it.

The traditional Christmas narrative, the Nativity of Jesus, delineated in the New Testament says that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in accordance with messianic prophecies. When Joseph and Mary arrived in the city, the inn had no room and so they were offered a table where the Christ Child was soon born, with angels proclaiming this news to shepherds who then further disseminated the information.

Although the month and date of Jesus’ birth are unknown, the church in the early fourth century fixed the date as December 25. This corresponds to the date of the solstice on the Roman calendar. Most Christians celebrate on December 25 in the Gregorian calendar, which has been adopted almost universally in the civil calendars used in countries throughout the world. However, some Eastern Christian Churches celebrate Christmas on December 25 of the older Julian calendar, which currently corresponds to a January date in the Gregorian calendar. For Christians, believing that God came into the world in the form of man to atone for the sins of humanity, rather than knowing Jesus’ exact birth date, is considered to be the primary purpose in celebrating Christmas.

The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, viewing a Nativity play, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, pulling Christmas crackers and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly.

In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

Christmas in Bangladesh falls in the winter season. Of course, Christmas in our country has great spiritual meaning and is not as commercialised as in the developed countries of Europe or Northern America – this is probably a reason why in every country there are so many interesting local traditions and cultural differences. As in the most Christian cultures in Europe and the Americas, having Christmas dinner with friends and relatives is the most popular activity after attending the church. Christmas is usually an official public holiday in our country, so people use the opportunity to spend time with their friends and family.

On the day of this occasion, the sun shines and everything seems so alive. All that vitality is brought to life even more by the festivity of Christmas. Just like any other place in the world, the preparations for the celebration of Christmas begin way in advance. Some Christian businesses are closed for the whole month of December. Even though Christmas in our country has many differences from Christmas in the rest of the world, the actual traditions and festive spirit are quite similar. Houses of the Christian community are well decorated. Elaborate Christmas dinner and carolers bring Christmas spirit and festivity in the wind.

Many families set up a decorated Christmas tree in a corner with lights and ornaments, surrounded by gifts for everyone at home. The Christians say the first decorated Christmas trees appeared as far back as the 14th century. Christmas trees are a popular decoration as are tiny sparkling lights in windows and on walls. However, the Christmas tree is usually only put up in the homes only in the morning of the 25 of December. For them, Christmas Day is a day of good eating, exchange of gifts to add up enjoyment. The women wake up bright an early morning, ready for a busy day full of tasks, making sure everything is neat and set up before visitors appear.

On Christmas Day, children and adults, representing the angels in the fields outside the Churches, go from house to house singing carols. Church services are held on Christmas day where people dress in their native attires or Western costumes. Later on, there is a grand feast in every Christian home.  Families eat together with close friends and neighbours, and gifts are exchanged. In the evening, the children and adults do traditional dancing. The teenage kids and adults sing and play the drums. Friends and family members sing the jingle and party till midnight.

Christmas in Bangladesh is celebrated with great enjoyment and fun. It is a festival which is celebrated by all the people of all ages of the Christian community. The people celebrate the birth of Jesus on this day. Though Christmas around the world is celebrated in different ways by different countries. Customs differ around the world for observing Christmas, but they all centre on celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Thus, all around the world, people have taken the celebration of the birth of Jesus and made a Christmas that fits with the culture of their own country.

Christmas is a happy, festive time filled with great spiritual significance. Caroling, feasting, and gift giving along with the prayers and wishes – the Christmas is celebrated with high spirits all over the world including Bangladesh. Though the mode of celebration, the dates and the traditions vary, the main spirit remains the same everywhere. Although Christians only form a small minority of the population in Bangladesh, her long history as a British colony has seen many traditions remain.

This auspicious occasion is a prime festival of Christian community and hence, is celebrated zestfully around the world including Bangladesh. Christmas conveys his message of love, tolerance and brotherhood. Though, it is a religious festival of Christians, it has a special significance in everyone’s life of the Christian community in Bangladesh.

The festival of Christmas reflects the cultural unity of Bangladesh as on this auspicious occasion. This cultural unity sets an excellent example of brotherhood and humanism.

Though the country has only small population of Christians, it celebrates the auspicious occasion of Christmas with passion and pomp. The unity in diversity of Bangladesh can be seen during the celebration of Christmas. Bright light, great food and lavish parties are synonymous to Christmas celebration in our country.

Christmas brings love and happiness to the family. This is the occasion when friends and family members gather in one place and celebrate the bond of togetherness with love. Being the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ, this festival has great significance in Christianity. On the day of Christmas, prayers are offered to the almighty at the Church in a traditional manner. Christmas is the time to be jolly and spread festive cheer among one and all.

Christmas is the celebration to mark the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The customs and traditions associated with a particular festival reflect historical connection and human emotion attached with it. Different countries celebrate this ceremony through different customs. Winston Churchill veritably wrote, “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.” Love comes down at Christmas; love all lovely, love divine; love is revealed at Christmas; and stars and angels give the sign. We make a polite expression of our desire for welfare of the Christian community in Bangladesh and across the world and good luck to them on the auspicious occasion of Christmas.

And Wishing you a Christmas that’s merry and bright!

A German-China-Russia triangle on Ukraine


The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken probably thought that in his self-appointed role as the world’s policeman, it was his prerogative to check out what is going on between Germany, China and Russia that he wasn’t privy to. Certainly, Blinken’s call to Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday turned out to be a fiasco.

Most certainly, his intention was to gather details on two high-level exchanges that Chinese President Xi Jinping had on successive days last week — with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the Chairman of the United Russia Party and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev respectively. 

Blinken made an intelligent guess that Steinmeier’s phone call to Xi on Tuesday and Medvedev’s surprise visit to Beijing and his meeting with Xi on Wednesday might not have been coincidental.  Medvedev’s mission would have been to transmit some highly sensitive message from Putin to Xi Jinping. Only last week, reports said Moscow and Beijing were working on a meeting between Putin and Xi Jinping later this month. 

Steinmeier is an experienced diplomat who held the post of foreign minister from 2005 to 2009 and again from 2013 to 2017, as well as of Vice Chancellor of Germany from 2007 to 2009 — and all of it during the period Angela Merkel was the German chancellor (2005- 2021). Merkel left a legacy of surge in Germany’s relations with both Russia and China. 

Steinmeier is a senior politician belonging to the Social Democratic Party — same as present chancellor Olaf Scholz. It is certain that Steinmeier’s call with Xi was in consultation with Scholz. This is one thing. 

Most importantly, Steinmeier had played a seminal role in negotiating the two Minsk Agreements (2014 and 2015), which  provided for a package of measures to stop the fighting in Donbass in the downstream of the US-sponsored coup in Kiev. 

When the Minsk agreements began unravelling by 2016, Steinmeier stepped in with an ingenious idea that later came to be known as the Steinmeier Formula spelling out the sequencing of events spelt out in the agreements.

Specifically, the Steinmeier  formula called for elections to be held in the separatist-held territories of Donbass under Ukrainian legislation and the supervision of the OSCE. It proposed that if the OSCE judged the balloting to be free and fair, then a special self-governing status for the territories would be initiated. 

Of course, all that is history today. Merkel “confessed” recently in an interview with Zeit newspaper that in reality, the Minsk agreement was a western attempt to buy “invaluable time” for Kiev to rearm itself.

Given this complex backdrop, Blinken would have sensed something was amiss when Steinmeier had a call with Xi Jinping out of the blue, and Medvedev made a sudden appearance in Beijing the next day and was received by the Chinese president. Notably, Beijing’s readouts were rather upbeat on China’s relationship with Germany and Russia. 

Xi Jinping put forward a three-point proposal to Steinmeier on the development of China-Germany relations and stated that “China and Germany have always been partners of dialogue, development, and cooperation as well as partners for addressing global challenges.” 

Similarly, in the meeting with Medvedev, he underscored that “China is ready to work with Russia to constantly push forward China-Russia relations in the new era and make global governance more just and equitable.” 

Both readouts mentioned Ukraine as a topic of discussion, with Xi stressing that “China stays committed to promoting peace talks” (to Steinmeier) and “actively promoted peace talks” (to Medvedev). 

But Blinken went about his mission clumsily by bringing to the fore the contentious US-China issues, especially “the current COVID-19 situation” in China and “the importance of transparency for the international community.” It comes as no surprise that Wang Yi gave a stern lecturing to Blinken not to “engage in dialogue and containment at the same time”, or to “talk cooperation, but stab China simultaneously”. 

Wang Yi said, “This is not reasonable competition, but irrational suppression. It is not meant to properly manage disputes, but to intensify conflicts. In fact, it is still the old practice of unilateral bullying. This did not work for China in the past, nor will it work in the future.” 

Specifically, on Ukraine, Wang Yi said, “China has always stood on the side of peace, of the purposes of the UN Charter, and of the international society to promote peace and talks. China will continue to play a constructive role in resolving the crisis in China’s own way.” From the US state department readout, Blinken failed to engage Wang Yi in a meaningful conversation on Ukraine.

Indeed, Germany’s recent overtures to Beijing in quick succession — Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s high-profile visit to China last month with a delegation of  top German CEOs and Steinmeier’s phone call last week — have not gone down well in the Beltway. 

The Biden Administration expects Germany to coordinate with Washington first instead of taking own initiatives toward China. (Interestingly, Xi Jinping underscored the importance of Germany preserving its strategic autonomy.) 

The current pro-American foreign minister of Germany Annalena Baerbock distanced herself from Chancellor Scholz’s China visit. Evidently, Steinmeier’s phone call to Xi confirms that Scholz is moving according to a plan to pursue a path of constructive engagement with China, as Merkel did, no matter the state of play in the US’ tense relationship with China. 

That said, discussing peacemaking in Ukraine with China is a daring move on the part of the German leadership at the present juncture when the Biden Administration is deeply engaged in a proxy war with Russia and has every intention to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes.”  

But there is another side to it. Germany has been internalising its anger and humiliation during the past several months. Germany cannot but feel that it has been played in the countdown to the Ukraine conflict — something particularly galling for a country that is genuinely Atlanticist in its foreign-policy orientation. 

German ministers have expressed displeasure publicly that American oil companies are brazenly exploiting the ensuing energy crisis to make windfall profits by selling gas at three to four times the domestic price in the US. Germany also fears that Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act building on foundational climate and clean energy investments may lead to the migration of German industry to America. 

The unkindest cut of all has been the destruction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline. Germany must be having a fairly good idea as to the forces that were behind that terrorist act, but it cannot even call them out and must suppress its sense of humiliation and indignation. The destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines makes a revival of German-Russian relationship an extremely tortuous affair. For any nation with a proud history, it is a bit too much to accept being pushed around like a pawn. 

Scholz and Steinmeier are seasoned politicians and would know when to dig in and hunker down. In any case, China is a crucially important partner for Germany’s economic recovery. Germany can ill afford to let the US destroy its partnership with China also, and reduce it to a vassal state. 

When it comes to Ukraine war, Germany becomes a frontline state but it is Washington that determines the western tactic and strategy. Germany estimates that China is uniquely placed to be a peacemaker in Ukraine. The signs are that Beijing is warming up to that idea too.

From Indianpunchline

What was Christmas like fifty years ago in England and today?


All I saw of snow before I landed in England some fifty years ago, was the scene of winter on a Christmas card. It was an experience I can never forget, of hands and ears frozen and people throwing snowballs for fun at each other, whilst building a snowman outside their homes and decorating the Christmas tree with fancy lights inside.

Christmas, as we know it today, resembles nothing of its past. A lot of what happened would shock us today. Binge eating and drinking, in many forms, rowdiness lubricated by alcohol on trains and the Underground on Christmas Eve, made travel a danger. Merrymaking would edge into making trouble. Today, there are cameras on trains and at stations and security is tight.

It was then mostly a family occasion. The gathering of family and friends the night before Christmas, for carols, mistletoe and mulled wine. Whilst on Christmas Day, 25 December, it was Christmas lunch, called “Dinner” with turkey and trimmings, served with cranberry sauce, mince pies and plum pudding for afters, shared with inner members of the family circle, with exchange gifts before the revelry.  

Christmas then and now, is a fusion of the pious and the pagan, the sacred and the profane. Most of its traditions are historical either borrowed or relatively recent.

According to the latest Census, in 2021 Britain is a minority Christian country, People of other faiths are now celebrating Christmas, more than the native population, which seems strange.

But besides the changing fashions of consumerism and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, there remains something that has outlived, outlasted centuries of pagan culture and the real enchantment of the spirit of fellowship, the good tidings at Christmas time and the love of God to be one amongst us.

Some of the things people hardly talk about now is the increasingly secularised holiday, marked by a season of good cheer and festive fun, punctuated by long-forgotten English superstitions or traditions of mistletoe and wine, Santa and the reindeer, the late Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas Message, now King Charles III first Christmas TV Message and Pope Francis’“Urbi et Orbi” message to the world.

Understandably this year there is only hope of a subdued celebration with all the travel strike chaos and cost of living inconvenience.

Besides, divisions in life today and years past, go to the very heart of Christmas, to the gatherings at Midnight Mass, to the celebrations at the dining table with fun and frolic.

The shifting Christmas landscape

Times have changed in a big way in these fifty years. What would you do if you could get the time back that you spent shopping for gifts and for food for Christmas?

Back then, people thought it was weird to stop at one shop for everything you needed or wanted. You had the butcher for your meat and turkey, the bakery for your cakes, likewise, it was so-called specialist places where you did your shopping. You could do the “normal” thing and do your High Street shopping errands individually, going shop to shop.

There were no all-embracing Supermarkets for all your needs. Time was not at a premium then? What surprises most people today is; how much cheaper it was than going shop to shop, looking for bargains especially as Christmas presents, without today’s inflation.

What you now think might be a bargain at today’s Supermarket, could actually still be full of hidden costs. We then had value for money or at least thought we had, by shopping at Woolworth’s for value, now that choice has gone, disappeared with the passage of time? But we now have Prime Mart instead

What about other changes in these years?

Convenience and choice was lacking years ago. Today you can forget about the chore of meals and the joys of cooking your Christmas Family Dinner, with food delivered to your doorstep. Years ago we did not have the convenience of so-called “perfect selection” of measured portions of food, choice diets for vegans and vegetarians, and specialist counters for specialist health foods, less salt and less sugar diets. Today, we have “free from” food.

Today everything is wrapped up in measured units of calories and weight markings. This cuts out the stressful meal planning, as well as the wastage which makes it easier by selection of the meal type that is right for you. There is so much of choice today than in years past. Today, we have shelves stacked with varied variety. The choice is unbelievable. But, at the same time, there is a “cost factor”? Have we over the years become lazy?

What ways has Christmas changed?

The festive season may be packed with traditions, but Christmas is also an occasion which has changed with the times, but with religion focussed on the love of God for Man. It is down to world events, advances in people’s behaviour and perception, as well as technology or simply popular additions to the celebrations that never went away.

With the postal strike, people are resorting to sending “E-Cards” on the internet, instead.

With the rail strike people are staying at home instead of travelling.

With the Nurses and Ambulances on strike, we guess there would be less crowds at A&E?

With regard to the reflection of life in giving gifts, and toys, in particular, some companies are making toys more eco-friendly. Some companies are also cutting down on single-use plastic and boosting sustainability. Lego is a toy that is still very popular as a gift for children, but plant-based colours are now in use.

Parents are setting up cash Trust Funds for children this year, instead of gifting toys. Although Christmas will be very different for many this year, the spirit of Christmas will still linger on amidst the difficult times.

The Perils of Pious Neoliberalism


The International Labour Organisation’s Global Wage Report 2022–23 tracks the horrendous collapse of real wages for billions of people around the planet. The gaping distance between the incomes and wealth of 99% of the world’s population from the incomes and wealth of the billionaires and near-trillionaires who make up the richest 1% is appalling. During the pandemic, when most of the world has experienced a dramatic loss in their livelihoods, the ten richest men in the world have doubled their fortunes. This extreme wealth inequality, now entirely normal in our world, has produced immense and dangerous social consequences.

If you take a walk in any city on the planet, not just in the poorer nations, you will find larger and larger clusters of housing that are congested with destitution. They go by many names: bastisbidonvilledaldongnehfavelasgecekondukampung kumuh, slums, and Sodom and Gomorrah. Here, billions of people struggle to survive in conditions that are unnecessary in our age of massive social wealth and innovative technology. But the near-trillionaires seize this social wealth and prolong their half-century tax strike against governments, which paralyses public finances and enforces permanent austerity on the working class. The constricting squeeze of austerity defines the world of the bastis and the favelas as people constantly struggle to overcome the obstinate realities of hunger and poverty, a near absence of drinking water and sewage systems, and a shameful lack of education and medical care. In these bidonvilles and slums, people are forced to create new forms of everyday survival and new forms of belief in a future for themselves on this planet.

These forms of everyday survival can be seen in the self-help organisations – almost always run by women – that exist in the harshest environments, such as inside Africa’s largest slum, Kibera (Nairobi, Kenya), or in environments supported by governments with few resources, such as in Altos de Lídice Commune (Caracas, Venezuela). The Austerity State in the capitalist world has abandoned its elementary duty of relief, with non-governmental organisations and charities providing necessary but insufficient band-aids for societies under immense stress.

Not far from the charities and self-help organisations sit a persistent fixture in the planet of slums: gangs, the employment agencies of distress. These gangs assemble the most distressed elements of society – mostly men – to manage a range of illegal activities (drugs, sex trafficking, protection rackets, gambling). From Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl (Mexico City, Mexico) to Khayelitsha (Cape Town, South Africa) to Orangi Town (Karachi, Pakistan), the presence of impoverished thugs, from petty thieves or malandros to members of large-scale gangs, is ubiquitous. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the favelados (‘slum dwellers’) of Antares call the entrance of their neighbourhood bocas (‘mouths’), the mouths from which drugs can be bought and the mouths that are fed by the drug trade.

In this context of immense poverty and social fragmentation, people turn to different kinds of popular religions for relief. There are practical reasons for this turn, of course, since churches, mosques, and temples provide food and education as well as places for community gatherings and activities for children. Where the state mostly appears in the form of the police, the urban poor prefer to take refuge in charity organisations that are often connected in some way or another to religious orders. But these institutions do not draw people in only with hot meals or evening songs; there is a spiritual allure that should not be minimised.

Our researchers in Brazil have been studying the Pentecostal movement for the past few years, conducting ethnographic research across the country to understand the appeal of this rapidly growing denomination. Pentecostalism, a form of evangelical Christianity, emerged as a site of concern because it has begun to shape the consciousness of the urban poor and the working class in many countries with traditionalist ideas and has been key in efforts to transform these populations into the mass base of the New Right. Dossier no. 59, Religious Fundamentalism and Imperialism in Latin America: Action and Resistance (December 2022), researched and written by Delana Cristina Corazza and Angelica Tostes, synthesises the research of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research (Brazil) working group on evangelism, politics, and grassroots organising. The text charts the rise of the Pentecostal movement in the context of Latin America’s turn to neoliberalism and offers a granular analysis of why these new faith traditions have emerged and why they dovetail so elegantly with the sections of the New Right (including, in the Brazilian context, with the political fortunes of Jair Bolsonaro and the Bolsonaristas).

In the 19th century, a very young Karl Marx captured the essence of religious desire amongst the downtrodden: ‘Religious suffering’, he wrote, ‘is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people’. It is erroneous to assume that the turn to forms of religion is merely about the desperate need for goods that the Austerity State has not been willing to provide. There is more at stake here, far more indeed than Pentecostalism, which has earned our attention, but which is not alone in its work in the slums of the urban poor. Trends similar to Pentecostalism are visible in societies that are dominated by other religious traditions. For instance, the da’wa (‘preachers’) of the Arab world, such as the Egyptian televangelist Amr Khaled, provide a similar kind of balm, while in India, the Art of Living Foundation and a range of small-time sadhus (‘holy men’) along with the Tablighi Jamaat (‘Society for Spreading Faith’) movement provide their own solace.

What unites these social forces is that they do not focus on eschatology, the concern with death and judgment that governs older religious traditions. These new religious forms are focused on life and on living (‘I am the resurrection and the life’, from John 11:25, is a favourite of Pentecostals). To live is to live in this world, to seek fortune and fame, to adopt all the ambitions of a neoliberal society into religion, to pray not to save one’s soul but for a high rate of return. This attitude is called the Life Gospel or the Prosperity Gospel, whose essence is captured in Amr Khaled’s questions: ‘How can we change the whole twenty-four hours into profit and energy? How can we invest the twenty-four hours in the best way?’. The answer is through productive work and prayer, a combination that the geographer Mona Atia calls ‘pious neoliberalism’.

Amidst the despair of great poverty in the Austerity State, these new religious traditions provide a form of hope, a prosperity gospel that suggests that God wants those who struggle to gain wealth in this world and that measures salvation not in terms of divine grace in the afterlife but in the present balance of one’s bank account. Through the affective seizure of hope, these religious institutions, by and large, promote social ideals that are deeply conservative and hateful towards progress (particularly towards LGBTQ+ and women’s rights and sexual freedom).

Our dossier, an opening salvo into understanding the emergence of this range of religious institutions in the world of the urban poor, holds fast to this seizure of the hope of billions of people:

In order to build progressive dreams and visions of the future, we must foster hope among the people that can be lived in their daily reality. We must also recover and translate our history and the struggle for social rights into popular organisation by creating spaces for education, culture, and community in which people can gain better understandings of reality and engage in daily experiences of collective solidarity, leisure, and celebration. In these endeavours, it is important not to neglect or dismiss new or different ways of interpreting the world, such as through religion, but, rather, to foster open-minded and respectful dialogue between them to build unity around shared progressive values.

This is an invitation to a conversation and to praxis around working-class hope that is rooted in the struggles to transcend the Austerity State rather than surrender to it, as ‘pious neoliberalism’ does.

In February 2013, Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, went to the town of Maarat al-Nu’man and beheaded a seventy-year-old statue of the 11th century poet Abu al-Alaa al-Ma’arri. The old poet angered them because he is often thought of as an atheist, although, in truth, he was mainly anti-clerical. In his book Luzum ma la yalzam, al-Ma’arri wrote of the ‘crumbling ruins of the creeds’ in which a scout rode and sang, ‘The pasture here is full of noxious weeds’. ‘Among us falsehood is proclaimed aloud’, he wrote, ‘but truth is whispered… Right and Reason are denied a shroud’. No wonder that the young terrorists – inspired by their own gospel of certainty – decapitated the statue made by the Syrian sculptor Fathi Mohammed. They could not bear the thought of humanity resplendent.

The Unions v The Government of UK


The strikes up and down the country in the cold winter at end of 2022 and early 2023 as many would state, is to test the nerve of the Conservative Government.

It has been seen to be coming for many months, but Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, like his predecessor Margaret Thatcher, has painted the Trade Unions, as well as the Labour Opposition for supporting picket lines, as the enemies of ordinary hard working Brits, blaming them for causing the chaos in the run up to Christmas.

It has in one sense worked as 49% of the British public is opposed to some of the Unions, particularly, the RMT Rail Union as greedy. Some other unions like the Transport Salaried Staff (TSSA) last week voted to accept Network Rail’s offer of at least 9% for this year and next with Network Rail promising to make no compulsory redundancies until 31 January 2025.

Private Contractors have agreed pay offers with Unions

Other Unions, like Unite have also accepted an improved pay offer for the Ground Handling Staff at Heathrow Airport from their Private Contractor, Menzies. So have planned strikes by Security Guards on Eurostar to Paris on December 16 and 18th were similarly suspended while they considered a fresh pay offer from Contractor, Mities.

We read that Rolls Royce, a unit of Germany’s BMW, had agreed a very generous pay offer with the Union, Unite, on 16 December 2022, worth 14.8% and up to 17%, the largest single pay deal in the history of the factory at Goodwood, West Sussex,Southern England.

Another well-known name, EasyJet agreed to raise base pay by 7.5% in France and averted a French Cabin crew strike over Christmas.

While many Private Companies have seen it constructive to make peace with their Unions,

The British Government has been holding firm, even with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

Is Nurses Pay more important in today’s political scene?

The two professions, one the Train Drivers (RMT) on an average salary of £59,000 pa with fewer vacancies and Nurses on just under £35,000, with 45,000 odd nursing vacancies across England, there is public sympathy (66% at a recent poll) with the Nurses.

The Sunak Government is left with little choice but to make a climb down in his fight with the Nurses, who are willing to also come to a reasonable deal.

It may be a “U Turn,” the second time in his recent six weeks that P.M.Sunak would have to cave in, similarly to his change on his housing agenda, on the building of onshore wind farms.

With MP’s salaries on £84,000 and some “moonlighting” there is a hue and cry to help the Nurses. The Big Issue is who deserves a pay rise at present, a Nurse or a Train Driver?

Can you compare Train Drivers to Nurses?  Train Drivers have six (6) months training inside the train cab, while Nurses need up to six (6) years training on the hospital floor. However, in a sense it is not comparing like with like and here is the difficulty from the Government’s standpoint.

We all know the NHS needs a major overhaul and an efficiency drive. But look at it another way, the average Nurse’s salary is four (4) times the State Pension. But, will we be better off rapidly reaching the “Cost of Insurance” based Health Care, like the United States, or Germany.

The main question on people’s minds is: “Will Private Medicine be a more effective service than the NHS, we have got used to over decades?

I leave it to you to decide, which is better?

How Organized Crime Plays a Key Role in the Ukrainian Conflict


On November 1, the deputy director of Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation downplayed remarks made on October 30 by an agency official, who warned of Western weapons bound for Ukraine being smuggled into Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Nonetheless, the affair generated significant attention and reflected previous concerns expressed by European authorities over Ukraine’s vulnerability to organized crime and the repercussions for the continent.

Organized crime emerged as a potent force in Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Criminal groups exploited flawed economic privatization measures to amass significant economic power, while the collapse of the Soviet security state allowed armed criminal factions to replace government authority and entrench themselves permanently.

These developments were mirrored in many former Soviet states in the 1990s, including Russia. But after Vladimir Putin assumed the Russian presidency in 2000, he and his allies in Russia’s intelligence community reestablished a strong security apparatus and clamped down on many domestic organized crime syndicates.

However, the Kremlin chose not to eradicate them completely. Wary of further violence, Putin sought to consolidate power rather than risk a return to the instability that characterized Russia in the 1990s.

And perhaps more importantly, criminal groups could provide Moscow with unique opportunities. By turning a blind eye to much of their activities and legitimizing their wealth and businesses, the Kremlin gained access to illegal profit-making schemes, extensive smuggling networks, manpower, and other illicit services.

The Kremlin also expanded cooperation with criminal groups across the former Soviet Union. In Ukraine’s southeast, where criminal activity has been most concentrated, Russian intelligence figures have cultivated relationships for decades, with most of Crimea’s high-end criminal businesses dependent on relations with Russian criminal networks to survive.

Organized crime in Ukraine had also evolved significantly by the time Putin entered office. In 2006, a U.S. Embassy cable stated that Crimean criminals were “fundamentally different than in the 1990s: then, they were tracksuit-wearing, pistol-wielding ‘bandits’ who gave Crimea a reputation as the ‘Ukrainian Sicily’ and ended up in jail, shot, or going to ground; now they had moved into mainly above-board businesses, as well as local government.”

These developments allowed Russia to quickly assume political control over Crimea when Russian forces seized it in 2014. Dozens of pro-Russian politicians elected to Crimean political offices, including the Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov and speaker of the Crimean Parliament Vladimir Konstantinov shared suspected ties to organized crime.

In Ukraine’s Donbas region, the “density of criminality, combined with the weakness of local institutions” similarly allowed criminal groups to amass significant economic and political power after the Soviet collapse. But following the launch of Russia’s proxy war in the region alongside the seizure of Crimea in 2014, Donbas criminal groups also provided much of the manpower for newly-created militant groups and attempted to recruit others in neighboring Ukrainian regions to take up arms against government forces.

Despite their higher density in Crimea and the Donbas, Russian-supported criminal groups operate across Ukraine and the Black Sea region. Speaking with Mark Galeotti, an expert on modern Russia, in 2019, a Bulgarian security officer detailed a smuggling operation through Bulgaria’s port of Varna, bringing in drugs and counterfeit goods from Ukraine’s port of Odessa.

Operated by “Ukrainians working for a Russian-based gang,” the Bulgarian officer believed the criminal group was being taxed by Russian authorities and was “feeding information on Odessa” back to the Kremlin.

The threat of Russian-backed organized crime has only grown since Russia’s invasion in February. Conflicts generally tend to weaken state capacity, or the ability of governments to function properly, allowing organized crime groups to increase their power and influence. The Kremlin has expanded its use of criminality to both weaken Ukraine and complement its own war effort.

While reports of Ukrainian criminal groups smuggling Western weapons out of Ukraine have been consistently downplayed, it would be in the Russian government’s interest to dilute the effectiveness of Western military aid. Additionally, many weapons successfully smuggled out of Ukraine will likely end up in Europe, with weapons from Eastern Europe having been used in several terrorist attacks over the last decade. “Just beyond the countries of Western Europe, with their restrictive gun laws, lie the Balkan states, awash with illegal weapons left over from the conflicts that raged there in the 1990s,” stated Time magazine.

In April, Ukrainian officials also accused Russia of smuggling weapons into Ukraine from the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria in an effort to arm local allies, as well as using smugglers to bring in sanctioned weapons and military technology for the Russian military via Georgia.

Economic sanctions have in turn forced the Kremlin to expand its criminal profiteering activities, according to Western intelligence and law enforcement officials who spoke with VICE World News. A report by the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute mentioned an incident from April 2022 where the “Ukrainian Ministry of Justice officials charged a Ukrainian individual with helping a Russian business to launder money using a Cypriot company, registering their accounts into a private bank in Ukraine.” Meanwhile, a metal shipment worth more than $3 million was intercepted before it could leave a port in Ukraine’s Odessa region.

On top of existing, lucrative tobacco-smuggling networks, NATO and EU officials believe that a large tobacco smuggling ring in Belgium exposed in September was sponsored by both Belarusian and Russian intelligence to raise funds for their operations in the face of sanctions. Russian and Belarusian state-controlled industries have similarly increased cooperation with criminal groups to export oil, gas, and counterfeit goods to bypass sanctions.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, European security officials have also noted a rise in drug smuggling to Europe through the northern route from Afghanistan through Central Asia and Russia—likely due to Moscow easing restraints on these activities. Central Asian political and security circles have historically had direct involvement in the drug smuggling networks and often work closely with Russian criminal groups aligned with the Kremlin.

Taxing the drug trade allows Russian government entities to raise cash. But as with guns, flooding Europe with drugs creates its own problems. Court systems, prisons, hospitals, and other state and social institutions can be overwhelmed by increased drug flows, while distribution fuels local criminal activity—similar to Washington’s concern over Chinese drug trafficking to the U.S.

Additionally, Russia has turned to Central Asian smugglers to gain access to essential sanctioned products from abroad, while the Kremlin may explore selling Russia’s vast gold reserves on the international black markets depending on the compounding effects of sanctions.

And following the West’s decision to freeze much of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves and other financial assets, Russian criminals, in coordination with the Kremlin, have turned to cryptocurrencies to help raise funds and evade sanctions. Criminal hacking groups have also been used by Moscow to help launch cyberattacks on Ukraine and Western targets.

Notably, the Russian government has taken steps in recent months to further institutionalize illegal activity among Russian companies. In March, the Kremlin legalized “parallel imports,” allowing Russian companies to import commodities into the country without the consent of the overseas producer.

Though often innovative, the Kremlin’s embrace of organized crime underlines Russia’s sense of desperation as the most sanctioned country in the world. Yet Russia poses a greater challenge than other sanctioned rogue states like Venezuela, Iran, or North Korea. Its relatively large, industrialized economy, natural resources, extensive borders, and economic integration with Eurasia make isolating it far more difficult.

Continued collaboration with organized crime will be essential for Russia to safeguard its economy and prolong its war effort. Despite the risks of greater integration with the underworld and a growing dependency on their illicit networks, the Kremlin will continue these policies so long as sanctions remain in place.

Encouraging the growth of organized crime in Ukraine also has its own benefits for Moscow. Domestic criminal groups have helped Ukrainian men seeking to avoid conscription to leave the country, reducing the manpower available to Kyiv. In addition, sustaining Ukraine’s entrenched criminal culture and corruption prevents its further Westernization through economic and political reform.

Western law enforcement agencies have attempted to increase cross-country coordination with Ukraine to stem Russian-backed organized crime since the outbreak of the war. The European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) gathered in April to discuss the situation, while entities such as Interpol, Europol, Frontex, and others have increased cooperation with both Ukraine and Moldova in recent months in “fighting serious and organized crime.”

The fight against Russian-backed organized crime clearly remains essential to Ukraine’s war effort. But as Kyiv has observed since the 1990s, just as much attention should be paid to how organized crime in the country will continue to evolve once large-scale fighting subsides.

India Should Checkmate China by Recognising Tibet as Independent Country


China has never concealed its hostility towards India in the last few decades.  China initiated a war against India in 1962 and is still occupying thousands of kilometres of Indian Territory. Pakistan gifted some area in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to China to spite India and China has gleefully accepted this region as its own, not bothering about India’s protest.

After the 1962 war, there have been several times that Chinese forces tried to enter Indian Territory in the Ladakh area.  China now demands that the Arunachal Pradesh state in India belongs to China. The recent clash between Chinese troops and Indian troops in the Dawang sector in Arunachal Pradesh will not be the last military clash between India and China and many more similar clashes will take place in the coming years, as China would continue its efforts to subdue India in variety of ways and will provoke a frequent clash with India.

Certainly, the hostility between India and China would continue, as China will maintain tension with Indian troops as part of China’s expansionist strategy.

Under the circumstances, India has to realise that it has to necessarily checkmate China in whatever way it is possible for India, under the present circumstances. 

India’s response

While China is openly hostile to India, the present Modi government and the past Indian governments have been giving the impression that India wants to have peace with China, which has repeatedly proved to be an unreal expectation.

Claim on the territory of other countries

China’s efforts to expand its territory commenced with the occupation of Tibet using military force during the 1950s and since then, China has been ruling the Tibet region with an iron-like grip, suppressing whatever protest that has been happening by  Tibetan people in Tibet against China’s occupation.

Apart from demanding Indian Territory, China is making claims in the South China Sea, Senkaku Island and other places, which are opposed by several nearby countries.

While China has progressed in industrial, technological and economic status in a very impressive manner, the ground reality is that several countries suspect China’s motives and are concerned about China’s aggressive, expansionist greed and ambition to dominate the world by emerging as a superpower. 

Increasing unpopularity:

China is steadily becoming unpopular in the world due to its human rights violation in Hongkong, Tibet and Xīnxiāng and its suppression of the rights of Uyghurs. China’s often-declared objective to occupy Taiwan by using military force has been detested by several countries and they are watching the developing scenario with concern.

Even in countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and several African countries where China is trying to dominate the region by extending the huge loan and participating in the industrial and economic activities of the region, China’s interference has created a  sort of animosity towards China amongst the local people in those regions.

Certainly, there is the worldwide view that China is treating world opinion, which is suspecting China’s territorial greed and aggressive postures, with contempt.

Most countries which have no issues with China do not want to come openly against China now, due to the large market base and trade opportunities that China provides.

India’s compelling need to checkmate China

In any case, China now considers India as its number one enemy, as China thinks that India can be a hurdle for China in its efforts to emerge as a superpower in the world.   India has no alternative but to oppose China and checkmate the Chinese government.

One way for India to effectively checkmate China is to accord recognition to Tibet as an independent country. Of course, this move will not make any difference to the suppressed people in Tibet immediately.  However, this move certainly would push China into a defensive posture and this will bring the plight of Tiber to the attention of the world and China’s human rights violations and aggressive occupation.

Certainly, China will become more hostile towards India, when India would recognise Tibet as an independent country. But, China cannot do more harm to India than it has already been doing.

China is unlikely to enter into a full-fledged war with India,   as it will have worldwide repercussions and western countries and USA cannot simply watch the scenario of China overpowering India and they cannot keep quiet, as it will cause serious geopolitical imbalance.   Further, the Indian army has been considerably strengthened now and any future war between India and China will not be like the 1962 war between both countries when China overran and occupied Indian Territory.

Trade relations:

Of course, some people in India may argue that India recognising Tibet as an independent country would be a calculated risk,   as India is still dependent on the import of several chemicals and products from China and a war with China will cause set back to India’s steadily growing economy.

However, any disruption of the trade between both countries will affect China too, particularly as there is a sort of trade war already going on now between China on one side and USA and European Union on the other side.

No other alternative for India:

With China thinking that India has to be subdued to ensure China emerges as a superpower, there is no alternative for India but to stand against China, politically, diplomatically and militarily.

The checkmating of China has now become a necessary need for India to protect its territorial integrity, as China cannot be made to behave responsibly by following a policy of appeasement.

Providing recognition to Tibet as an independent country would be a strong and much-needed response by India to China’s posture against India.

India has morally erred by not protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet earlier and later on India accepted China’s occupation of Tibet as legitimate.  This is a grave error that has been made by India, which has made China take India for granted.  India is now paying a price for not protesting earlier against China’s occupation of Tibet.

India recognising Tibet as an independent country will make China realise that India is not a soft belly anymore.

 Further, with recognition of Tibet by India, several other countries may also recognise Tibet in the course of time and this will be the starting point for the ultimate liberation of Tibet and restoring its glory of Tibet in the eyes of the world.

Views expressed are personal

India: Remembering Rajaji


C. Rajagopalachari (popularly known as Rajaji) was recognised in his time as one of the most enlightened intellectuals in India. Apart from being a freedom fighter, Rajaji excelled in several other areas and was a great writer, speaking and writing on variety of subjects including world peace and disarmament, the need to promote free enterprises, moral and ethical values in public life, religions and so on.

Rajaji was born on December 10th December 1878 and passed away on December 25th 1972 and lived for 93 years.

On Rajaji’s recent birthday on 10th December 2022, the day largely passed off without the people in India or the people in  Tamil Nadu to which state Rajaji belongs, celebrating his birthday,   recognising his contribution to the progress of the country and his achievements.

Of course, Tamil Nadu Governor paid tributes to Rajaji in Raj Bhavan and a few state ministers garlanded his statue elsewhere. This event was not even reported in most section of the media.  This is unlike the way that the nation observes the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhai Patel.  Former President Dr. Radhakrishnan’s birthday is celebrated as teacher’s day every year.

In this scenario, the non-observance of Rajaji’s birth anniversary on 10th December 2022 adequately to remember his contribution is conspicuous and unfortunate.

Mahatma Gandhi hailed Rajaji as his conscience keeper, which is the ultimate tribute for Rajaji’s sense of honesty and courage of conviction.  Later, Gandhiji declared that Rajaji was his successor.  He further told that “Rajaji sees at least six months ahead of him”

There are several instances that revealed Rajaji’s capability to think beyond his time and make his views clear and providing advice to the existing governments.  Unfortunately, a number of his valid suggestions were not accepted by those in power at that time and the value of some of his suggestions were realized much later and implemented.

Rajaji’s View on prohibition:

Amongst many of Rajaji’s suggestions of far-reaching importance, let us take only one, namely his call for implementing total prohibition in Tamil Nadu.

On a rainy Tuesday evening on July 20, 1971, Rajaji, in his ripe age, met the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi at his residence and pleaded against lifting the prohibition, which   Rajaji believed would hurt future generations adversely. It was reported that Rajaji, the former Governor General of India, was made to wait for some time for the meeting which took place for 20 minutes.

Sadly, this advice was not accepted by the then Chief Minister Karunanidhi and his government, which lifted the prohibition. The adverse consequences of such decision are seen today in Tamil Nadu.

During the last six decades after the lifting of prohibition by the then DMK government, the liquor habit amongst the people of Tamil Nadu have increased by leaps and bounds.  It is reported that more than 50% of men folk in Tamil Nadu have succumbed to liquor habits and even youth and students in the teenage have started taking liquor. What is alarming is that even women are now slowly falling into the liquor habit.   It was really shocking to hear the recent news that school-going girl students joined together and consumed beer in public.

With widespread liquor habit steadily developing in Tamil Nadu, the social fabric of the state have been uprooted and life of women, in whose family menfolk have taken to liquor habit,  have become  hell like. Women are being beaten, harassed and left without earnings of the menfolk, who spend their earnings on liquor.  Many believe that in such condition, Tamil Nadu will be moving towards socially unstable state with value system in life going for a toss.

Rajaji anticipated all these problems and pleaded with the then DMK Chief Minister, who did not listen to him.  Tamil Nadu is now paying the price.

There is no indication that conditions will improve in the near future, as Tamil Nadu government is now heavily dependent on liquor sale income, even though liquor habit is causing social and family disturbance to an extreme level.

Role model ignored:

There can be so many other instances where Rajaji anticipated events, as he could think beyond his time.

It is sad that such a great person is not adequately remembered today, with younger generation not  being well informed of  the role model like Rajaji,  who lived with great wisdom

Personalised Medicine through routine Genome sequencing in UK


The world of medicine and diagnostics has over generations gone through tremendous change. The 20th century itself, has witnessed many revolutionary advances in health care. Research into the causes of infectious diseases, the development of vaccines and pharmaceuticals have conquered devastating illness such as polio, smallpox, Ebola and now COVID-19. The first successful organ transplant took place in 1954, now prolonging the lives of heart and other transplants. Over the past decade and since December 2021 alone, better understanding of the mechanisms that cause lung collapse, has improved the ability not only to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, but has been a milestone in medical progress. Innovation is underlying that progress, Accelerating change with many new technologies and medical interventions provide new options for specialist care and treatment, and perhaps future investment?

From Project to Platform Genomics England

The latest development is Genome Sequence. Genome England is a UK Government and NHS research body, planning to turn science into healthcare, through technology.

Since July 2018, as part of the 65th anniversary celebrations of NHS, the UK Department of Health and Social Care was tasked with the project to sequence 100,000 whole genomics from NHS patients with rare diseases, especially with common cancers. After a successful completion of a pilot project, this body is now planning to screen up to 200,000 new born in 2023 to gather data on rare diseases, many of them are genetic.

It is an ethics approved research pilot project for parents to find out what their new born child’s life is going to be like? It is a person centred screening, research and analysis of new born to inform parents with their consent to make informed choices for rare disease, heath care until the child is grown up to be able to make the child’s own choices for necessary treatment.

The impact of the project is to make genomics part of routine check, perhaps similar to advance breast cancer screen, or the PSA Test, but in much greater detail. This is in order to collect data resource to focus for “gene alterations” in a specific list of genes that may increase the risk of rare or incurable disease.

The future of diagnostics and how the data is used?

At the heart of any new development is ethics, consent and security of information. Parents and children should feel satisfied that the data collected is with their consent, ethical and secure.

We are informed that the parents and the children will be able to build in a regular review of their condition, look for any abnormalities that may arise, making sure that the clinical pathways and guidance are safe and robust.

It is anticipated that the future of a condition may not appear until a child is 8 or 10 years old, when the child is mature and be able to make own choices and/orre-consent.

Who has access to the data?

As it stands, maintaining data security and protecting the individual privacy is top priority. The data is solely in the hands of the Secretary of State for Health and the NHS. The DNA profile data will never be used for Insurance or Marketing purposes, nor for speculative searches.

Genomics England data will not be available without permission or presentation of a Court Order.

However, the data will be used for finding new treatments and possibly cure for a wide range of health conditions, improving analysis, for developing new drug platforms and diagnostic tests, suggest clinical trials and/or relevant research.

How can the World benefit with Genome Sequence?

India is projected to surpass China as the most populated country on14 April 2023. According to UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs, India’s population is projected to be 1,425,775,850. This will be the first time that a country other than China has held the top population statistics, since 1750 when China last overtook India (vide 27th edition UN World Population Prospects)

For India, current estimates suggest the population will continue to grow, although at a slightly slower rate.

China’s population growth has been in decline since 1980 when the Chinese Government implemented its “One Child Policy,” only rescinded in 2016. China is not the only country to experience declining fertility rates.

However, some other countries in African Continent, with large populations are expected to increase in numbers in the next 30 years. They include Democratic Republic of Congo,

Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania.

Rapid expansion in population and Genome Sequence?

This rapid expansion of population growth opens opportunities not only for Infrastructure development, but more especially for Health Care investment.

We can see the need for Genome Sequence in these countries of population growth in the not too distant future?

Will we see UK moving in by investing more in these population dense countries with its new technology? What will be my child like when it grows up will dominate their thinking? The United Kingdom has never missed a chance of moving in investment in medical research?

For those wishing to view the London Genome Conference

“A Conference on Genome Sequence is planned in London on the 13 December 2022 at 8.30 am GMT. Kindly see details below which will be available by webinar on the Internet.

Key areas for discussion include:

  • opportunities – latest thinking on the use and potential of genomics to improve public health and develop personalised medicine – next steps for data use – genomics in screening
  • R&D – priorities for supporting innovation and collaborating on evaluation at UK level – systems to support innovative therapies – integration of health and genomic data in research
  • pathogen genomic sequencing – taking forward lessons from systems used during the pandemic – the next steps for embedding capacity and scalability within the system
  • implementation – the way forward for genomic transformation in the NHS
  • pharmacogenomics – its role in drug discovery and prescribing – what has been learned from early developments – patient engagement – options for scaling up use in clinical practice
  • collaboration and investment across the UK – key considerations for sharing data and key findings, and for surveillance
  • developing genomic healthcare services – improving pathways – priorities for workforce education – reducing regional variation in implementation – opportunities for patient engagement.

During the conference delegates will hear from Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer for England and Senior Responsible Officer for Genomics; NHS England and NHS Improvement; Dr Rob Orford, Chief Scientific Adviser for Health in Wales, Welsh Government; and Dr Richard Scott, Chief Medical Officer, Genomics England; Consultant, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children; and Honorary Senior Lecturer, Institute of Child Health, University College London.

The conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who are due to attend from the Department of Health, NI; Office for Life Sciences; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government

© Copyright HEE Genomics Education Programme

What are some of the new technology applications in the Ukrainian war?

Every war in history has spun new weaponry. The Ukrainian war is also a test ground for new applications, new weapons, According to The Economist, a live tracker at HALO Trust in Scotland, is able to chart Russian bombings, the kind of weapons used, within hours of each incident. This has given Ukraine access to a range of innovations.

Russia too has been prompted to boost its arsenal. This war according to President Putin is not going to end soon. This war has taken things from “abstract to reality”. Who would have contemplated the vision that North Korea will at some time in the near future assist Russia? Who would have contemplated that Ukraine would someday invade its border with the might of Russia?

What is the nature of any war?

To laymen, the nature of war has not fundamentally changed? But, numerous predictions have been made recently how new technologies would function and fare on a battlefield of the future?

We gather emerging technologies like, “hypersonics, drones, electronic warfare, jamming cyber weapons and particularly disinformation” have been emerging and evolving military technologies in the Ukraine battlefield, according to Brookings Institute.

Ukraine was able to get from the United States and its NATO allies, hundreds of armoured vehicles, 155mm Howitzers, HIMARS rockets, 1000’s of Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-aircraft weapons.

But, there are more high profile, advanced weapons that US will not provide Ukraine due to political sensitivities. Will US which has now developed a new version of the Stealth Bomber, think of its delivery to Ukraine? All these new technologies developed by US are “classified tech”. But, US has got its NATO ally, Germany, to deliver its first IRIS-T surface to air missile system, to Ukraine?  

The war in Ukraine is seen as a test case?

The war in Ukraine is seen as a test case for “wars of the future”? Although flashy technological transformations are being contemplated, the change to new warfare technology is not on offer.

Sensor based technologies are being seen in a variety of likely settings. We see operational data being collected for Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, there is the training of “online volunteers” who are able to intercept communication among the Russian military units on the warfront in Ukraine.

One of the most innovative war format is skilled military and non-military online volunteers from all locations in the world joining the battlefront “virtually supporting” Ukrainian ground forces. Small “Special Operation” teams are making it difficult to avoid detection of incoming drone warfare.

Not to mention, “social media” too is playing “SMART warfare” to counter disinformation.

What we are witnessing is technology used for civilian use is being used for warfare?

Could you believe, “Crowd Funding” is also being used for military purchases?

How we see Russia counteracting?

Russia too is not inactive. It is using military AI to further use in defence applications. We see “Cyber warfare” is on, in a big way. For its part Russian Oligarchs around the world are not sitting on their laurels. They are pumping in for the war effort. Russia has been able to deploy numerous Iranian produced “Shahed 136 Kamikazi” drones against critical energy infrastructure, such as Ukrainian energy grid for blackouts, blowing up gas pipeline, among others, for maximum impact damage to civilian infrastructure, especially in the bleak Ukrainian winter.

Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

ISR is coordinating Russian troop movements and directing civilian strikes in Ukraine. But. is finding it at a disadvantage to combat Ukrainian ingenuity. The culture of innovation is ingrained in the psyche of Ukraine. It has proven very effective and decisive on the battlefield, so essential for long term Ukrainian security. Ukrainians are by nature very creative, with much ingenuity for precision strikes. Robotic and autonomous systems has enabled the flow of information for improvising improvements how “modern tech” is designed and used.

Although Russia’s war has been the driving force all along since February 2022, Ukrainian morale and ingenuity is enabling it to be more agile, faster, with the improbable possibility of sometime in the not too distant future, of even invading its border with Western Russia, which Russia has already contemplated.

For its part Russian experience is relying on its superiority in manpower and of its allies, including North Korea, Syria and Iran for its lifeline needs.

Defence spending in the West

The Ukrainian war has not only impacted technological innovation but has boosted defence spending in US and the West. “Defence is no longer an abstract, but a reality.”

The impact of sanctions, the US$60 ceiling on Russian oil, is ratcheting, it is not all that is contemplated by the US and its NATO allies. At some stage the West may even contemplate removal of Russia as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council.

President Putin has said that the war in Ukraine is a long drawn out war and Russia is not “sitting and waiting” for things to happen. What next in Russian arsenal, is on the minds of all nations?

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