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By Shilpika Srivastava
The scars on their bodies earned in fights over little food and water are nothing when compared to the marks that are invisible – deeply etched on their souls.
Think about the courage it takes to leave your home, mount a dilapidated boat, and venture out into the perils and qualms of the stormy seas! Unfortunately, this is the stark reality of thousands of people from Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya ethnic Muslim minority.
In the past few weeks, the Rohingyas, also called ‘floating coffins,’ have not seen even a single humanitarian example of compassion and humility. Rather, they have been coldly pushed back by governments who are not keen on sheltering any more asylum seekers.
Who are the Rohingyas?
The Rohingya people are an Indo-Aryan ethnic Muslim group that reside in northern Rakhine (Arakan), Myanmar.
The ethnicity of the Rohingya people is disputed, however, as per these people and a few scholars, they are indigenous to the land of Rakhine. A group of other historians suggest that they migrated to Burma from Bengal primarily during the period of British rule.
The least wanted and the most persecuted minority
A report published in BBC a few years back unveiled the fact that the Rohingya people are “among the world’s least wanted.”
As per the report, they are not allowed to travel or even marry without seeking permission. “They are not welcome in Bangladesh either, where at least 200,000 now live as illegal immigrants, without rights to employment, health care or education,” states the report.
A recent report by the United Nations has also tagged this ethnic minority as one of the world’s “most persecuted minorities.”
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s report earlier this month also exposed the fact that rising Buddhist jingoism and anti-Islamic sentiment in Myanmar made this Muslim minority a “population at grave risk for additional mass atrocities and even genocide.”
Also, the last three years have witnessed Rohingya people being targeted by violent mobs of Buddhist extremists, leaving hundreds dead and triggering a departure of more than 120,000 people, as per the UNHCR.
The situation is so bad in Burma that even the name Rohingya is considered a taboo in the country. Albeit the Rohingyas have lived in this Buddhist majority country for generations, they are still referred to as ‘Bengalis’ and are purported to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
What prompts the Rohingya people to the sea?
The state of Northern Rakhine is one of the poorest and most isolated in Myanmar. However, the hardships inflicted on the Rohingya by their own country make their condition way too deplorable.
In 2009, Chris Kaye, Director, UN World Food Programme, who visited Myanmar the same year said to a news channel, “Economic hardship and chronic poverty prevents many thousands of people in north Rakhine state from gaining food security.” He further added, “Many do not have land rights or access to farmland to grow food, and the restrictions and limitations on the movement of people, goods and commodities places additional stress on people’s livelihood opportunities.”
The condition of this Muslim minority is so pitiable that out of the 135 ethnic groups officially recognized by the country, the Rohingyas are the only ones who are denied citizenship under Burma’s 1982 citizenship law. The inhumane acts of humiliation touch heights when they are even not allowed to get married without an official permission.
How much the Rohingyas are hated by Burma can be sensed from a statement made by the country’s Consul General Ye Myint Aung, who described the Rohingya people as “ugly as ogres” in 2009.
This litany of abuse and continuous harassment forced the Rohingya people to flee over to other countries in search of a better life conditions. Initially, they took shelter in Bangladesh where there’s only a flimsy difference from that of Burma.
When Bangladesh did not come to their rescue, then numerous Rohingya people started making dangerous trips to Malaysia in crooked boats in hope of better job conditions. It is just this slight ray of hope that is driving the Rohingyas to the seas.
The present situation
Over the past few weeks more than 3,000 refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh have arrived on Southeast Asia’s beaches, stranded after smugglers abandoned their rickety boats on the way to Malaysia.
According to the United Nations, about 3,500 Rohingya people are estimated to be adrift in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal too. They are either stranded at sea or deterred by Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai authorities from reaching the land.
Recently, the discovery of a mass grave in Malaysia and Thailand is yet another evidence of the grave existential impasse that migrants confront. The bodies found in the catacombs, situated in the state of Perlis, Malaysia are believed to be that of the Rohingya refugees, who flee Myanmar.
Toothless nature of ASEAN
ASEAN’s policy of non-interference over internal issues such as human rights abuse has certainly backfired the association during the ongoing humanitarian crisis suffered by Myanmar’s Muslim minority population.
However, after a long hour of blackout, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said to local daily Utusan Malaysia’s a few days back that Malaysia and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations members have urged Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya issue as the association’s non-interference policy does not mean silence.
Had the issue not caught international publicity, it can’t be denied that these refugees may have been conveniently ignored by ASEAN.
There’s hardly any solution!
As reported by CNN, Yasmine, a 13-year-old girl told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that a dozen men came to her home in Rakhine State. “They dragged me to the boat, they had sticks and threatened to beat me,” she said. “I screamed, I cried loudly. My parents were weeping, but they couldn’t do anything. I went onto the boat with three men. When I got to the big boat… I cannot explain my feeling, I was so scared.”
However, amidst the disaster-struck and downtrodden Rohingyas, a first ray of hope came from Philippines. A week back, the country offered to accept these refugees, though there is a bleak possibility that these poorly maintained and overcrowded migrants could ever clear the passage from the Andaman Sea to the Philippines.
Recently, Singapore announced an initial aid of US$200,000 through ASEAN to back the efforts of countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia that have been helping Rohingya refugees.
Although, Myanmar has slightly softened its stand on the issue and declared that it will offer aid to migrants stuck at sea. Though it seems highly unlikely that it will take back Rohingyas that have fled.
Given the history of this Muslim minority on the land of Buddhist majority country, the future of those, who are still stuck in Rakhine still seems dark.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp has finally started rolling out end-to-end encrypted chat backups for iOS and Android users globally. With the new update, if a user chooses to back up his chat history with end-to-end encryption, it will be accessible only to him, and no one will be able to unlock the backup. Neither WhatsApp nor the backup service provider will be able to access their end-to-end encryption backup.
"With end-to-end encrypted backups, no other messaging service at WhatsApp's scale will provide this level of security for people's messages -- from sending and transit, to receiving and storing in the cloud," the company said in a post. The feature will be rolling out "slowly" for people on the latest version of the app.
he feature will be rolling out "slowly" for people on the latest version of the app. | Photo by AARN GIRI on Unsplash
Once the feature rolls out, open WhatsApp, go to Settings > Chats > Chat Backups > End-to-End Encrypted Backup, and then follow the prompts. One can now secure their end-to-end encrypted backup with either a password of their choice or a 64-digit encryption key which means that no one else but only the user will be able to access the backup.
"This feature will provide people with more privacy and security for their digital conversations and that's a responsibility that we don't take lightly. Given this, we are rolling this out slowly to ensure a consistent and reliable user experience for people on iOS and Android around the world," the company added. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: encryption, encrypted, whatsapp, people, backup, End-to-end Encryption
A luxurious house makeover might seem to be an expensive and overwhelming task but it doesn't necessarily have to drill holes in your pocket. A few small changes and the right decor pieces can make a huge difference to the way your home looks. Keyur Zaveri, VP of Design at Furlenco shares some ideas that could give your home a rich look.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
While it may feel intuitive to keep adding expensive decor to your home to give it the luxurious touch, in today's ageless is really more. Simplifying your space can give your home a classy look. Invest in a few accent decor pieces - a lamp, wall art, decor for a centre table that are cohesive and work well together in the theme of your room as opposed to having numerous things that do not look like they belong together. Resist the temptation to buy over-the-top accessories and unnecessary furniture, which make your home look bulky.
Resist the temptation to buy over-the-top accessories and unnecessary furniture, which make your home look bulky. | Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash
The most important part of creating a luxurious house is to add furniture that is comfortable and elegant. Good furniture, paired with stylish soft furnishings is the first step to creating a beautiful house. Pillows & Cushions of various sizes and accent throws can instantly make a home feel more inviting. Play around with the colours and fabrics of the furniture and find soft furnishing that complements the centrepieces. Invest in good quality fabrics like velvet, linen or suede to upholster your furniture. You can even try textured fabrics like denim blue and faux leather.
Pillows & Cushions of various sizes and accent throws can instantly make a home feel more inviting. | Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Lighting can make all the difference to the vibe of your house and help you create a luxurious, beautiful looking space. Using multiple sources of light that draw attention to various corners in the house can make a space look very well put together. Invest in ceiling lamps, floor lamps, table lamps, and accent light fixtures to highlight your favourite areas in the house. While it is advisable to keep a single colour and tone of light, the intensity and direction can be played around to enhance the ambience of the space.
Lighting can make all the difference to the vibe of your house and help you create a luxurious, beautiful looking space. | Photo by Karan Nagpal on Unsplash
Layering works wonders everywhere- be it a chic coat or blazer over your outfit that adds extra charm, or adding decor pieces to your furniture for a luxe look. Carpets add splendour and exquisiteness, instantly changing the way a room looks. Area rugs under tables and sofas help in defining spaces and can blend together the whole look. Experiment with some elegant runners near your beds, on top of your dining tables, or even your bathrooms. You can also add wall coverings and window coverings for a more inclusive aesthetic.
Area rugs under tables and sofas help in defining spaces and can blend together the whole look. | Photo by Sina Saadatmand on Unsplash
You can add a small yet noticeable metallic touch to upgrade your interiors. However, you must be careful to not overdo it; the key to going bling is to keep the metallic accessories minimal. Consider golds, bronzes, copper or silver hues and incorporate them in cushions, lamps, accent walls, lighting fixtures, or centrepieces. You should ensure that each finish is a thoughtful addition to your space.
You can add a small yet noticeable metallic touch to upgrade your interiors. | Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash
Incorporating these tips can do wonders for your home decor. You can make your home luxurious, without costing an arm and a leg. More than anything it's about making the right choices that give your house look clean and classy.
(Article originally published on IANS Life) (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: metallic, lighting, fabrics, invest, luxurious, furniture
India may not see a billion smartphone users even by the end of this decade and there are seven key challenges to achieve 100 per cent smartphone penetration, according to a new report. With the shrinking addressable base for smartphones, India is likely to have 887.4 million smartphone users by 2030, said the report by Gurugram-based market intelligence firm techARC.
The new smartphone user acquisition has been on a decline since 2018, after 4G drove switch to smartphones as it ushered several new use cases and forced feature phone users to upgrade. This, however, is not the case with 5G, which can substantially bring out a new use case for the mobile users compelling the feature phone users to move to a smartphone.
Affordability is the first concern even if users would discover their own use cases. "This is on account of both - investment in the device and the recurring data cost. Even to own a device, it's a substantial increase in the outlay for around 200-250 million users who cannot spent more than Rs 1,500 on a mobile device," said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC.
Even to own a device, it's a substantial increase in the outlay for around 200-250 million users who cannot spent more than Rs 1,500 on a mobile device. | Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash
Second reason is that there are no models that could self-subsidise the smartphones for this potential audience, who are on the other side of the fence waiting to join the smartphone arena. "Advertising-based revenue and value-added driven revenues are negligible for such audiences where advertisers would not be ready to spend much as this is not their target audience," the report mentioned. So, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) cannot work out any model of recovering partial cost of the device upfront and then realising the gap in due course through other streams.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) cannot work out any model of recovering partial cost of the device upfront and then realising the gap in due course through other streams. | Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash
The third key reason is that the OEM ecosystem is gradually moving away from the entry segment. All major OEMs have disinvested out of the entry segment (less than Rs 5,000) where the first-time smartphone user would fall. Rather OEMs are moving to higher average selling price (ASP) as consumers are willing to spend more (15-35 per cent) on their next upgrade/replacement of smartphones.
The fourth reason is that the OEMs are adding more features and functions to their smartphones to facilitate paying users leverage more from the device by consuming content and other services, which are subscription based. The interest of OEMs is gradually moving in this direction, where they could increase the lifetime value (LTV) per smartphone user by getting a pie of the services that the users are paying for.
"Another reason is that attempts such as a hybrid smart-feature phone, haven't paid off well. Though it has got in additional 80-85 million users into the digital ecosystem using fundamental digital services, majority of the featurephone users haven't accepted this 'workaround' wholeheartedly," said Kawoosa.
Attempts such as a hybrid smart-feature phone, haven't paid off well. | Photo by The Average Tech Guy on Unsplash
The sixth reason is that globally, we are witnessing prices of components going up on the one or another pretext. This is only forcing the OEMs to increase the cost of the devices and in a very hypersensitive market like smartphones, it is very challenging for the OEMs to frequently trade-off between input costs and the market opportunities.
Globally, we are witnessing prices of components going up on the one or another pretext. | Photo by Yiorgos Ntrahas on Unsplash
Finally, the entire smartphone ecosystem is interested in investing in opportunities which are rewarding. For example, when we compare education and gaming as two areas of immense opportunity, the entire smartphone ecosystem has preferred to make considerable investments in gaming than education. "There is hardly any OEM focusing on making devices affordable so that more and more students could benefit from digital means of education. But over the past two years, we have seen several OEMs making gaming smartphones in the affordable segments," the report argued. The result: At 4.9 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for smartphone subscriber growth, India may not have a billion smartphone users even by 2030. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: gaming, education, affordable, market, report, reason, device