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The Pakistan Navy hosted ‘Aman-2021’ from February 11-16. The exercise was the seventh edition of the ‘AMAN series’ of exercises, which started in 2007, and is held by Pakistan Navy biennially. This year’s edition was conducted off Karachi and the participants included Chinese, Turkish, and Russian warships, among others.
This exercise was touted by some Pak media as Pakistan’s “opportunity to project a positive image as a key player in regional peace and stability”. Further, the six-day long exercise was said to “affirm Pakistan’s resolve of cooperation against terrorism” — a rather rich statement coming from a country that is in itself a major contributor to terrorism, violence, illegal activities, and instability in the region.
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While it is heartening to see Pakistan take requisite measures to position itself as a harbinger of peace and stability in the region, given Pakistan’s long-standing struggle with its own internal demons, some of which has spilled over to its neighborhood over the years, it is doubtful such an Exercise will accrue any tangible results in the long run.
For instance, the exercise was hosted in Karachi which has been rife with sectarian violence. The Pak National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) had issued a terror alert in January this year, warning of terror incidents in Karachi. This was followed by another news report dated 3rd February from Samaa TV, a Pakistani Urdu language news television network, which has quoted NACTA and warned that terrorists are planning a VBIED attack on an ‘unspecified important government department’ in the near future. Adding on to the security woes, numerous reports highlighting Karachi’s notoriety as a hub for narcotics trade in Pakistan wouldn’t provide much comfort to the participating nations either!
Further, two recent developments cogently foreground Pakistan’s hypocritical, and somewhat questionable commitment to peace and stability. Recently, the Pakistani Supreme Court acquitted Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the abductor and murderer of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl to the international opprobrium. Secondly, according to reports, on January 8, 2021, the Anti-Terrorism Court at Gujranwala ordered the arrest of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar on charges of terror financing. Experts indicate that the Pakistani court’s actions are clearly linked to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) beginning the process to review Islamabad’s efforts to counter terror financing and money laundering in recent weeks. In light of these developments, Pakistan hosting an exercise called, ‘Aman’, meaning ‘peace’ seems morally fraught at the least.
One should recall that the terrorists who used the sea route to orchestrate the 26/11 attack on the Indian city of Mumbai came from Pakistan. It would be interesting to also note that in November 2020, Pakistan’s top investigating body, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had admitted that 11 terrorists involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks were Pakistanis. In addition, it still figures in the FATF Grey List for terror financing. Internally, the media has been rife with reports of Pakistan’s castigation of places of worship belonging to non-Islamic denominations. Recently, on December 30, 2020, more than 1,000 Pakistani citizens led by a local cleric belonging to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) attacked, looted valuables, and demolished the Krishna Dwara temple, despite the Pakistan Hindu Council having alerted local authorities. Given these on-ground facts, one wonders whether Aman-21 is nothing more than an exercise in self-deception.
Apples and Oranges
The relentless ‘India- obsession’ that most Pakistani thinkers and journalists suffer from includes even the Pakistani PM Imran Khan. Given the Pakistan PM’s recent outburst at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, it can safely be surmised that reason and logic become the first casualties of such obsession. Comparisons between Aman-21 and Ex-Malabar compromise logic for rhetoric, and choosing jingoism over substance.
Ex-Malabar started as a bilateral exercise, established in 1992, between the Indian Navy and the US Navy. Over the years, given the commitment of the two navies towards freedom of navigation and good order at sea, the exercise has today grown to include other like-minded naval powers such as Japan and Australia which share the common belief of rules-based international order. Here, like-minded means ‘democracies’. Thus, positioning Ex-Malabar as a symbol of ‘Indian hegemony’ in the IOR is not only misinformed but also betrays a dysfunctional understanding of modern-day geopolitics.
With regard to Aman-21, what Pakistan needs to understand is that by conducting an exercise to merely “project a positive image”, with little on-ground capital to back its initiatives, rings hollow. For instance, Ex-Malabar is only a part of the larger narrative that India and the Indian Navy fulfill in the IOR. These are augmented by sincere efforts towards genuinely fostering peace and stability in the region. For instance, earlier in 2020, as part of PM Modi’s vision of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region) and Indian Navy’s reputation as the Preferred Security Partner, India undertook three Covid-related outreach Missions to provide food and medical aid; SAGAR-I to five IOR nations, SAGAR-II to four East African nations and SAGAR-III to two South-East Asian nations. The SAGAR-IV mission to Comoros and Madagascar is presently being undertaken by the Indian Navy’s largest amphibious platform INS Jalashwa. The Navy also deployed a warship in the conflicted waters off Somalia to escort food-aid vessels of UNWFP, the 2020 Nobel Peace Laureate.
Likewise, Exercise Samudra Setu entailed evacuation of 3,992 Indian citizens by Indian Naval ships in the aftermath of the outbreak of Covid-19, while the Indian Navy has been an integral part of the ongoing ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative, which has already supplied the two indigenously manufactured vaccines to over 15 countries including Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. In an unsurprising gesture of goodwill, India has also offered its vaccine to locally-posted Chinese and Pakistan navy diplomats.
Modern-day geopolitics is more than a matter of who has a bigger gun. It entails fostering genuine goodwill through sincere efforts. Perhaps, Pakistan navy should bear this in mind the next time it organizes an orgy of photo ops for the world, while a pitched-existential battle in the form of terrorism, hunger, and poverty rages on within. (IANS/SP)
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan shares how he feels when people compare him with his father Amitabh Bachchan on the singing reality show 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa'. He also requests contestant Rajshree Bag to sing a track 'Bahon Mein Chale Aao' featuring his mother Jaya Bachchan.
Abhishek said after looking at the performance of Rajshree, who is often compared with Lata Mangeshkar on the show, that she reminds him of being compared with his father. "Rajshree, whenever I have got the chance to watch the show, I've seen people compare you to Lata didi. It actually reminded me about how people compare me with my father and ask me how I feel about it."
According to him Amitabh Bachchan is a great actor in the industry and this is what he says to everyone making these comparisons. "My answer to them is that there's no greater actor in this film industry than Amitabh Bachchan and if I'm being compared to him, I am sure I must have done something good."
"Similarly, your voice has a different kind of magic like Lata ji and that's why people are comparing your voice with her. I feel you should always take this as a compliment," he concluded. 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa' airs on Saturday and Sunday on Zee TV. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Rajshree Bag
Winters in India have always beckoned for that hot, steaming bowl of tomato and pepper rasam or the mellow, millet based Raab. Certain dishes like sarson ka saag, undhiyu, nimona pulao are winter specialites in the country. Seasonal food has always been an Indian speciality -- we switch our choice in fruits, vegetables, sometimes even grains with the onset of different season. The preference of using specific ingredients during certain climates is visible in our sweets as well. It's common to find local and traditional delicacies made of jaggery, instead of sugar during the winters. Case in point -- the Nolen Gur Rasgulla, a speciality made in Odisha and West Bengal between November to February.
Celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, strongly advocates this need of eating seasonal produce. He says, "The beauty of our food is in our seasonal usage of fruits and vegetables. If you realise, Gajar ka halwa is made aplenty during winters as this is the season when beautiful red carrots hit the market or mango pickle is made during summer, thanks to its availability. Despite people and sometimes, even me, suggesting that we should eat fresh as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables, we do not know what chemicals are sprayed on them to keep them safe while they are growing. When this produce hits the market, there isn't a certifying agency like the FSSAI that will help people understand what vegetables and fruits are free of pesticides and germs and which ones don't. Hence, the onus lies on us to make them safe for consumption. ITC's Nimwash is a good solution."
When it comes to winters, the Chef recommends eating these fruit and vegetables:
* Purple Mogri -- Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country. But you can spot them during the winters in local markets in northern India where women pick them up to make raitas, curries and stir fries. Rich in magnesium, calcium and copper, the vegetable is known to aid people from digestive problems.
Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country, but you can spot them during the winters | Pixabay
* Sweet Potato -- A re-discovered favourite, Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. With its diverse addition in burgers, chips and even chat, the root vegetable is filled with nutrients such as fibres and vitamins.
Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. | Wikimedia Commons
* Avarekalu -- Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. Bangalore is famed for its Averakalu mela during the winter months, where you can find these beans in dosas, Pani puri and even Jalebis! Thronged by crowds from all over the city, the food fest is a gourmand's delight.
Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. | Wikimedia Commons
* Amla -- The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. High in Vitamin C, it is known to be immunity building and extremely beneficial for the skin and hair. There are multiple ways to eat Amla -- it is pickled, made into a fruit preserve called as Murraba or even eaten by sprinkling salt over it.
The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. | Pixabay
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: winter, Sanjeev Kapoor, chef, Indian gooseberry, Sweet Potato, Radish pods
Just three minutes of exposure to deep red light once a week, when delivered in the morning, can significantly improve declining eyesight, finds a new study. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found there was, on average, a 17 per cent improvement in participants' colour contrast vision when exposed to three minutes of 670 nanometre (long wavelength) deep red light in the morning and the effects of this single exposure lasted for at least a week.
However, when the same test was conducted in the afternoon, no improvement was seen. "We demonstrate that one single exposure to long wave deep red light in the morning can significantly improve declining vision, which is a major health and wellbeing issue, affecting millions of people globally," said lead author, Glen Jeffery from the University College London.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m | Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash
For the study, the team involved a small yet significant number of participants aged between 34 and 70, had no ocular disease, completed a questionnaire regarding eye health prior to testing, and had normal colour vision (cone function). This was assessed using a 'Chroma Test' -- identifying coloured letters that had very low contrast and appeared increasingly blurred, a process called colour contrast.
Using a provided LED device, all participants were exposed to three minutes of 670nm deep red light in the morning between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Their colour vision was then tested again three hours post exposure and 10 of the participants were also tested one week post exposure. On average there was a 'significant' 17 per cent improvement in colour vision, which lasted a week in tested participants; in some older participants, there was a 20 per cent improvement, also lasting a week.
A few months on from the first test (ensuring any positive effects of the deep red light had been 'washed out') few participants, carried out the same test in the afternoon, between 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. When participants then had their colour vision tested again, it showed zero improvement. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Deep red light, therapy, eye sight, study,chroma test