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In South India, festivals are defined by the food that is made for each one. Adirasam is one such sweet that is made on all important occasions and is especially cooked to perfection during Deepavali.
Made with rice flour and jaggery, this seemingly simple dessert is backed by an elaborate and tedious process. It takes hours of patient and skilled working to dole out a batch of good adirasams, and a single bite into these sweet disks makes the entire festival come together.
Adirasams are native to the Tamil Nadu, although they are made even in Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, of course, under different names. Unofficially, they are the souvenirs one would take home from Chennai. Their origin can be traced back to the Vijayanagar Kingdoms, under the rule of King Krishna Devaraya. Nonetheless, they are something that all Tamilian households take great pride in. Being able to cook is an incomplete skill if one does not know how to make a good adirasam.
Known as kajjaya in Kannada, adirasams are made a little smaller and sometimes with sugar. Image credit: tasty appetite
The recipe involves working at least a night before making the dessert. Raw rice is washed three times and soaked for a few hours. It is then drained and left to dry. When the rice is ground, it has to be absolutely moisture-free. Cardamom powder is added to the mixer. Jaggery is heated on a pan and dried ginger is added. The mixture must reach soft-ball consistency. This is a crucial step.
Once the syrup is ready, it is strained and mixed with the flour. It is left to cool, after which it can be kneaded and rolled into small balls. These spheres are laid out on a banana leaf, greased with oil, and flattened. These are then fried in oil and drained.
The detail that this recipe demands is what makes it tedious. But once the process is mastered, it is a delight to make. Adirasam in Tamil translated to mirth or happiness that is unbound. This sweet confection certainly tastes like joy when one sinks their teeth into its crisp crust and soft, sweet interior.
Keywords: Adirasam, Diwali Sweet, Tamil Nadu, Festival
'Web 3.0' envisions a decentralised future where users and machines are able to interact with data via asmart, digital contracts' over peer-to-peer networks, without the need for Big Tech.
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According to the report by crypto and digital asset exchange CrossTower in partnership with US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), the digital asset economy's value to India's GDP will grow at 43.1 per cent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) -- from $5.1 billion in 2021 to $261.8 billion over an 11-year period, resulting in a $1.1 trillion contribution to India's GDP. Digital asset market capitalisation was nearly $1.5 billion in 2013, and stands at about $3 trillion today.
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According to the report, most of $1.1 trillion in the total economic growth in the next 11 years can come from ancillary digital asset-related businesses that are yet to be invented.
"India is poised for growth to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25. Digital assets are expected to have tremendous potential in the next 11 years across countries, due to their rapid adoption. They are expected to help India achieve the $5 trillion economy goal," said Dr Mukesh Aghi, President and CEO of USISPF.
According to the findings, the adoption rate of digital assets (as reflected by accounts opened on centralised cryptocurrency exchanges) is growing nearly twice as fast as that of the Internet.
The report projected that digital identity could contribute $8.2 billion to India's GDP in 2032.Unsplash
It took the Internet approximately 7.5 years to go from around 100 million users to one billion users. "The same growth at cryptocurrency exchanges will take about four years. From digital art to ticket sales, music, collectables, luxury items and gaming, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) could transform the way people interact day-to-day. While still nascent, NFTs are projected to emerge into a market of $1 trillion or more," the report mentioned.
"With the right policies and regulatory framework, India's regulators can bring safety, combined with hope and prosperity to India," said Kapil Rathi, Co-founder and CEO, CrossTower.
The government-related Blockchain projects are estimated to drive close to $0.1 billion of GDP to India in 2021, ramping up to $5.1 billion in 2032. The report projected that digital identity could contribute $8.2 billion to India's GDP in 2032. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : blockchain, India, GDP, technology, economy, growth, future, machine, data, crypto, asset, US, partnership, NFT, million, billion, dollar.)
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The Taliban-led government, controlled today by the Haqqani Network, a loyal proxy of Pakistan, is in the news once again for having summarily killed several former members of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). These killings and disappearances have been documented in a report recently published (December 4) by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The international condemnation of the actions of the Taliban demonstrate that the West is still far from recognising a regime well known for its brutal ways. That the US, European Union and 20 other countries condemned the Taliban over allegations of summary killings of former police and intelligence officers is a sure sign of continued global antipathy towards the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
The statement echoing the sentiments of the world came after HRW's documentation (November 30) of the killing or disappearance of at least 47 members of the ANSF including military personnel, police, intelligence service members, and paramilitary militia, who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces between August 15 and October 31. HRW said its research also showed that the Taliban have killed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former members of the ANSF in the provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, Kunduz and Kandahar provinces. The main findings of the report come from the provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces, but the cases reflect a broader pattern of abuses reported in Khost, Paktiya, Paktika, and other provinces.
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The recent statement is perhaps the strongest issued on the Taliban since August 15. Countries said they were "deeply concerned" by the allegations and underlined that the "alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban's announced amnesty" for former Afghan officials. They called on the Taliban "to effectively enforce the amnesty for former members of the Afghan security forces and former Government officials to ensure that it is upheld across the country and throughout their ranks", and urged prompt and transparent investigations into the reported killings. The countries include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK and Ukraine.
US officials had held talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar and expressed deep concern over human rights abuses and urged the Taliban to provide countrywide access to education at all levels for women and girls. Shortly afterwards, (December 2), the Taliban released a decree on women's rights which states that women should not be considered "property" and must not be forced into marriage. The decree, supposedly issued by Taliban supremo, Haibatullah Akhundzada states that "both (women and men) should be equal. No one can force women to marry by coercion of pressure". Can the world consider this a small step in the right direction? Actually, the answer is that it is small step taken under pressure and with no guarantee that it will be enforced.
Recall that the Taliban, keen to gain international recognition, had pledged in August this year that its rule would be different to its previous time in government in the 1990s, which included public stonings, limb amputations of alleged criminals and a ban on women's education. However, every single step taken by the ï¿½so-called' government in Afghanistan has been retrograde and continues to carry out violent punishments. The UN has also expressed concern about "credible allegations" that the Taliban has carried out reprisal killings since their victory. In its latest report, HRW said Taliban leaders had directed the surrendering by security forces personnel to register with authorities to be screened for ties to certain military or special forces units. Subsequently, personnel were to receive a letter guaranteeing their safety.However, the Taliban used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find, says HRW.
It also notes that the Taliban had announced the establishment of a Commission to investigate reports of human rights abuses, corruption, theft and other crimes but said the commission had not announced any investigations into any reported killings. In an undated audio recording, Taliban Deputy Chief and Afghan Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani is heard appealing to "our brothers to cooperate with the Commission and don't protect or support any individual of bad character on the basis of personal friendship". More likely this was just a publicity stunt meant to impress the international community, but the reality is far more sinister.
Targeted killings by the Taliban have been a regular feature even prior to the takeover of Afghanistan of 15 August. The BBC states (December 5) that in August, an Amnesty International report found that 300 Taliban fighters had travelled to an area near Dahani Qul village (DaykundiProvince) on 30 August 2021, where former government soldiers, some of whom had been staying with their families. Amnesty says the Taliban executed 13 ethnic Hazaras, 11 of whom were former soldiers who had already surrendered, two more died in the crossfire and a further two civilians were killed during the fighting that ensued, including a 17-year-old girl.
Taliban had taken systematic measures to root out opposition in the weeks before they overran Kabul.Unsplash
Also read: Taliban ban women from appearing
Prior to August 15, after penetrating the weak Ashraf Ghani government, the Taliban had taken systematic measures to root out opposition in the weeks before they overran Kabul. Revenge killings, including targeting of government officials, were already on the rise in major cities and along key highways. This was evident in July 2021, when Taliban forces escalated operations around Kandahar city and carried out summary executions of surrendered and captured members of the security forces. Similar patterns have emerged in many other provinces, including since August 15. The HRW report aptly concludes that the Taliban's unsupported claims that they will act to prevent abuses and hold abusers to account appears, so far, to be nothing more than a "public relations stunt".
Russia has repeatedly warned that Afghanistan could become the place for civil war if the Taliban were unable to properly govern. However, the challenge of governing Afghanistan is also linked to the availability of funds. The Taliban alleges that the freezing of Afghan central bank assets amounting to US$ 9.5 billion has obstructed the proper functioning of government. While this may be a fact, it does not mean that the Taliban is anywhere near to having a functional system of administration.
As of now, it has a Cabinet with many UN proscribed individuals and a loose administration the roots of which are really an extension of the Quetta Shura. The most important thing to note is that with a gory past behind them, the Taliban will find it difficult to change their colours. The truth is they do not want to change, and even if they decide to do so, Pakistan will not allow it. That is the reality of the new Taliban today.(IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Taliban, Afghanistan)
Afghans lodged more than 17,000 asylum applications in the EU in September, up from 10,000 in August and nearly twice as many as Syrians. This made Afghanistan by far the main country of origin, which Syria had been for seven years until July, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) said.
Total applications in the EU exceeded pre-pandemic levels for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19.
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EASO said about 71,200 applications for international protection were lodged in the EU in September 2021, up by a quarter from August and the most since November 2016.
For the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic, applications exceeded the last pre-pandemic levels in early 2020.
The rising trend in Afghan applications not only continued, but accelerated.
Applications by Afghans increased by a considerable 72 per cent, from about 10,000 in August to 17,300 in September. This increase partly reflected the evacuations that followed the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August.
Afghans were by far the largest group of applicants in the EU in September, with almost twice as many applications as by Syrians (9,100), who had been the largest group every month for seven years up to July 2021. While Afghans lodged the most applications since September 2016, their number was still less than half of the all-time high in November 2015.
the third largest group of applicants in SeptemberUnsplash
Also read: Afghan leaders meet in Geneva to start peace
Turkish nationals (3,000) were the third largest group of applicants in September, continuing to apply at the highest level on record.
Several other main nationalities recorded substantially more applications in September: Bangladeshis (2,800, a new high), Pakistanis (2,700), Albanians (2,100), Venezuelans (1,800), and Georgians and Tunisians (1,700 each). (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Afghan, Syria, Bangladesh, Pakistan)