Tuesday, March 07, 2023

7: India

All three governments are applying the 21st century concept of economic security while carrying the memory of 20th century exploitation. They are trying to manage security dilemmas, ideological differences and a bifurcating global order as the world departs from the postwar era of globalization and free trade. .

Sri Lanka says IMF aid in reach after year of anger, hunger and fear President hints new China letter will seal deal; local elections in focus ......... the worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1948. ....... "As a family, we have done a lot for Sri Lanka and blaming our family is not fair. If [critics] have proof that we are the cause [of the crisis], they must show it," Namal Rajapaksa, Mahinda's eldest son and a member of parliament ......... average Sri Lankans hit by a 66% electricity tariff hike in February, on top of last year's 75%, and new income taxes as high as 36%. Last week, the central bank raised its key interest rates again to try to curb inflation hovering around 50%, while public-sector workers stormed out of hospitals, banks and ports to protest the cost of living. ......... half of Sri Lankan families have been forced to reduce the amount they feed their kids. ........ Sri Lanka's ratio of tax revenues to gross domestic product was only 7.3% in 2021, among the lowest in the world. They said that "tax reforms are needed to correct this imbalance" as well as to regain creditor confidence. ......... the severity of the economic crisis has compelled many Sri Lankans to do extra overtime, take second jobs or find side projects to put food on the table, leaving little time to demonstrate. .......... last year's protests resulted in regime change but did not "follow through" on demands for reform of the entire system. ........ the ruling party is "very scared" of a disastrous outcome and thinks this could mark the beginning of a very serious crisis for it. .......... a true transformation is not possible with the current set of lawmakers in Parliament. She said this is why it is critical to defend the electoral process. .

Tech giants look for ways to cash in on ChatGPT boom From Qualcomm to Microsoft to SK Telecom, ambitions high for AI-powered computing .

Huawei returns to global stage with focus on 5G and the cloud China tech giant courts global clients at MWC as it battles U.S. crackdown ........ Huawei Technologies is in Spain pitching its cloud services and 5G technologies to global clients, emerging from three years of COVID restrictions and working around multiple U.S. trade sanctions that have hindered its expansion ambitions. ......... Huawei has the biggest exhibition space at this year's Mobile World Congress, which kicked off in Barcelona on Monday, and its booth at the telecom industry event is packed with crowds from morning to evening. An army of executives have flown in from China, set on wooing customers from Europe, Latin America, Africa and other Asian countries -- in other words, anywhere but the U.S. ......... rotating chairman Eric Xu said the company had pulled itself out of crisis mode and was "back to business as usual." The U.S. sanctions, he said, had become a "new normal" for the telecom giant. ....... To get back into foreign markets without its once-famous smartphones, the Chinese telecom giant is leaning heavily on cloud services and 5G communications for corporate clients. ......... Global cloud services are dominated by U.S. players, namely Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. The only Chinese provider in the top 5 is Alibaba Cloud. ....... using 5G technology to help companies go digital. ......... "The [5G] opportunities in B2B are significantly larger than the B2C stuff" .......

Huawei has set up a mining business group that is dedicated to using 5G technologies to automate mines.

......... "Latin America and Africa will be key markets for us," Xu said, as those regions are rich in mining resources.

My trip to India in pictures Why my travels in India made me optimistic about the future. ........

What has three wheels, zero emissions, and makes no noise? This electric rickshaw I drove in Delhi.


Building a New Canon of Black Literature Which older novels, plays and poems by African American writers are being — or should be — rediscovered? ........ Before that, while growing up in Salt Lake City in the 1980s and ’90s,

I looked to Black literature as a lifeline

; I read every book I could find ....... I didn’t come across Cooper in the pages of a scholarly journal; I saw her name on Instagram. ......... Although canons may enshrine the past, they are instruments of the present. ........ what do readers require of Black American literature today? Works that confront the resurgence of white supremacy. Works that challenge orthodoxies of racial representation. Works that unsettle assumptions about gender and sexual identity. Works that expand the frames of formal experimentation. Works that imagine Black futures. ........ Du Bois’s conviction that the only responsible Black literature is propaganda, marshaling a benevolent Blackness as an antidote to white supremacy’s pernicious specters......... For all the radical political energies expressed in Black American literature, the literary mainstream has often been marked by formal conservatism. ........ Being Black in America is work enough; it’s all right for reading to be funny and fun, controversial and straight up scandalous. ........

... अनि राउत होमिए विद्रोहमा

Ukraine Signals It Will Keep Battling for Bakhmut to Drain Russia Gradual Russian advances and high Ukrainian casualties have fueled talk of a retreat from the eastern city, but Ukrainians say Russian losses are worse, a reason to keep them fighting. .

The Cousins Who Ruled 19th-Century Europe, Miserably “Empty Theatre,” a novel by Jac Jemc, reimagines the lives of two eccentric royals, King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Empress Elisabeth of Austria. ....... Behind the obscene privileges of royalty — as the Windsors too have taught us — lies deep, sometimes debilitating loneliness........ Sisi, meanwhile, endures the woman’s lot; after marrying the Austrian emperor, she is reduced to childbearing and staying thin. .

When War Came to Ukraine, She Took Up a Diary and a Camera In photographs and journal entries, Yevgenia Belorusets captures Kyiv in the early days of Russia’s invasion. ......... Robert Stone called the Vietnam War “a mistake 10,000 miles long.” In Ukraine, the front lines of the unwanted war with Russia extend about 600 miles. Surely that distance seems vastly longer to Russian troops stymied there. It must also seem longer to Ukraine’s citizens, for whom the war is immoral, illegal, stupid, concussive and terrifying. .......... The terror mostly came in over news broadcasts, and the messaging app Telegram. There were rumbles in the distance. .......... Belorusets carries a camera, which makes her suspect to both sides. Armed men leap out of cars and ambush her; citizens report her, fearing she is spying for Russia. She is dragged to checkpoints. A friend tells her, “A sniper can catch the glint from your lens and aim to shoot.” ......... The big emotional takeaway from “War Diary” is a sense of abandonment. Belorusets can’t believe that the world is watching these atrocities, right out on Ukraine’s streets, and not stepping in more forcefully.

Russia’s troops, to her, seem more like terrorists than soldiers.

........ An air-raid siren sounds to her like elephant language. She writes a good deal about pets that are left behind. .......... As she waits and worries, you sense her heart just idling out there, like a car parked in an underpass during a storm.

America Has Lost the War on Drugs. Here’s What Needs to Happen Next.
There’s a Menace Hanging Over Brazil . The tenure of Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, brought the military back to the heart of government. He might have grudgingly left office, but Brazil’s military — privileged, preponderant and unaccountable — remains a constant threat to the country’s democracy. ....... The republic, after all, was established by a military coup in 1889. “Military officers,” as the eminent Brazilian lawyer Heráclito Sobral Pinto once said, “never accepted not being the owners of the republic.” In the 130 years since, the military has hovered over Brazil — as the political scientist Adam Przeworski wrote, referring to democracies afflicted by overweening militaries — “like menacing shadows, ready to fall upon anyone who goes too far in undermining their values and their interests.” ........... With no war in sight, Brazil has the 15th-largest standing army in the world, with 351,000 active personnel, 167,000 inactive officers and 233,400 pensioners ........ the federal government spends more on defense than it does on education — and almost five times more than it spends on health ........ The expected budget of the Defense Ministry for this year is $23 billion, 77 percent of which is earmarked to pay personnel......... In 2019, the average remuneration for a retired member of the military was more than six times that of a retired civilian. ......... 137,900 unmarried daughters of military members will receive their father’s pensions for the rest of their lives ........ After Mr. Bolsonaro became president in 2019, the military flooded into the civilian administration. In 2020, 6,157 military officers — half of them on active duty — worked for the federal government, more than twice the number in 2018. At one point, 11 of the 26 ministers in Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration were current or former officers .

Ukraine Claims Bakhmut Battle Is Wagner’s ‘Last Stand’ Ukrainians say Russia’s Wagner mercenary group is running low on fighters recruited from prisons, used in attacks on Bakhmut, where Ukraine has also endured heavy losses. ........ Ukrainian officials have claimed that nearly 30,000 of Wagner’s 50,000 troops have deserted or been killed or wounded, many around Bakhmut. That number could not be independently verified, and Ukraine has not disclosed its own losses in the region. Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, claimed on Tuesday that Ukraine had lost more than 11,000 troops in February. .......... Wagner's founder, Yegveny V. Prigozhin, has repeatedly said that his group’s triple-digit daily casualty rates are sucking experienced Ukrainian units into what he calls the “Bakhmut meat-grinder,” upsetting their offensive plans elsewhere. ........ Ukraine would send reinforcements into Bakhmut, where Ukrainian commanders say the fighting has tied down enormous Russian forces. ........ if Ukraine can eliminate Russia’s prisoner soldiers in Bakhmut, they will not have to face their attack waves elsewhere. ........ Wagner units were shifting toward higher-quality special forces because of the high losses suffered by prison recruits. ....... On Monday, Mr. Prigozhin himself appeared to sound an alarm, calling for urgent reinforcements and ammunition to withstand a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive he said could not only relieve Bakhmut’s besieged defenders, but even cut off the Wagner attackers. “Otherwise, we’re all in” trouble, he said, using an expletive in an audio message published on social media. ......... Mr. Prigozhin has suggested that his growing public feud with Russia’s Defense Ministry last month has cost him access to Russian prisons, where since July he was able to enlist tens of thousands of inmates with a promise of high salaries, social rehabilitation and freedom — if they survive their deployments. He had called the loss of prison recruitment an attempt to “bleed out” Wagner of its “offensive potential.” ........... Wagner comprised about 10,000 professional soldiers, recruited mostly from veterans of Russia's security forces, and 40,000 former inmates. .......... used mostly to charge Ukrainian positions in small, unprotected groups, in order to expose the location of enemy fire and dig foxholes for subsequent assault waves. ......... The soldier said that of about 170 inmates who enlisted from his penal colony in Russia’s Ivanov region last fall, about 80 have returned home without major injuries. ............ the Russian military, itself, has recently started recruiting inmates........... The Russian prison service still had more than 400,000 inmates at the start of the year ......... the fighting in Bakhmut is starting to sap Ukrainian strength before an expected counteroffensive. .

Ukraine’s Top Generals Want to Keep Fighting for Bakhmut
Small Bedroom Ideas: The Best Ways to Maximize Your Tiny Space
‘A Decade of Fruitless Searching’: The Toll of Dating App Burnout Ten years after the launch of Tinder, some long-term online daters say endless swiping has been bad for their mental health. ........ A committed user, she can easily spend two or more hours a day piling up matches, messaging back and forth, and planning dates with men who seem promising. ....... the swiping, the monotonous getting-to-know-you conversations and the self-doubt that creeps in when one of her matches fizzles. Not a single long-term relationship has blossomed from her efforts. ........ she has regularly felt pressured to have sex with others ........ 37 percent of online daters said someone continued to contact them after they said they weren’t interested, and 35 percent had received unwanted sexually explicit texts or images. ........ Yet despite all of it — the time, the tedium and the safety concerns — Abby feels compelled to keep scrolling, driven by a mix of optimism and the fear that if she logs off, she’ll miss her shot at meeting someone amazing. ......... “It really is almost like this part-time job.” ......... people in the throes of burnout tend to feel depleted and cynical. .......... 12 percent of Americans have married or been in a committed relationship with someone they met online ......... many people had used them to successfully find community and connection. ......... “After a decade of fruitless searching, I started to ask myself: What has all that time, all that effort, all that money, actually given me?” said Shani Silver, 40, a podcaster and the author of “A Single Revolution,” whose work focuses on changing negative societal narratives about being single. ......... Ms. Silver deleted her apps (Tinder, Bumble and Hinge), a decision she described as a kind of epiphany that was the “culmination of a decade of misery.” ........ The improvement in her mood and energy levels was swift and profound. Before she deleted the apps, she spent any moments of downtime swiping; after, she found she had time throughout the day to rest. She realized she had been feeling anger and resentment toward the happiness of others, and emotionally, mentally and physically drained by existing in a state of constant anticipation. ......... “Existing in that state of ‘any day now’ for an extremely extended period of time is incredibly unhealthy.” .......... “Are you using the apps to self-soothe anxiety and inadvertently making your anxiety worse? Are you afraid you can’t attain love, so you’re settling for hookups, and that’s making you unhappy?” ............ it can help to meet matches virtually before deciding whether it is worth the time and energy to meet in real life........ At first, the apps tended to give him an emotional boost — a rush of validation that temporarily masked feelings of boredom, isolation and loneliness. .......... “But actually what it was doing was eroding my mental health slowly” ....... “You start to feel very disposable. You start to feel like the promise of connection is just out of reach.” ...... “To me,” he said, “the fear is, ‘Oh gosh, if this relationship doesn’t work out, I’m back to square one of trolling dating apps, and putting myself through that nauseatingly tedious process all over again.’” .

From the Trenches in Ukraine, We Know Our Enemy Is in Shock Sometimes enemy forces are close enough that we can see them without binoculars. Sometimes they’re a few hundred feet away. ........ When the enemy begins to shell, its infantry starts to advance. ........ A large fragment of a 120-millimeter mortar round is about half the size of the palm of your hand, and heavy. It can punch through a bulletproof vest. ..... But the small, almost invisible pieces of shrapnel that get into the body are worse. ....... At the front line, emotions run the gamut. The adrenaline makes the eyes of some of the men almost glow. In others, the life seems to fade away. They stop being afraid but they also stop rejoicing. I’ve met soldiers with nothing but emptiness and indifference in their eyes. Soldiers in the trenches care deeply for one another, but the level of tension is so high that usually nobody cries when someone is injured or killed. ........... Anyone can be afraid. But the courageous master their fear and do not let others give in to it. .

City Life, Culture Wars and Conspiracy Theories Most of what you might want to do or buy is within easy walking distance. ....... walkable cities that take advantage of the possibilities of density. ........ What people who haven’t experienced a real urban lifestyle generally don’t get is how easy life is. Running errands is a snap; because you walk most places, you don’t worry about traffic jams or parking spaces. ....... the reality is that New York is one of the safest places in America. ........ there’s an unwritten rule in American politics that it’s OK for politicians to disparage big cities and their residents in a way that would be considered unforgivable if anyone did the same for rural areas. ......... There seems to be a widespread sense that only people living a car-centered lifestyle, or a pickup truck-centered lifestyle, are real Americans. ......... ......... But of course none of this is about rational argument. .

Bollywood's gender revolution: Women are rewriting the rules Exclusive Nikkei data analysis points to slow but significant change in India's prolific film industry ........ Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone, playing a headstrong 14th-century Hindu queen clad sumptuously in red brocade and gemstones, commands dozens of women to follow her into a pit of fire in the finale of the 2018 blockbuster "Padmaavat.” ......... “Padmaavat” was the most expensive movie made with a female lead, it was massively successful at the box office, and it catapulted Padukone into a league of superstardom seldom held by women anywhere in the world. ........ an industry long known for portraying women as one-dimensional or secondary to the male stars, paying them a fraction and giving them a shelf life that rendered most unemployed by the age of 30. ........

a flagship industry that is the biggest cultural export of the world's most populous country.

........... Released in January 2018, "Padmaavat" retains the record for the biggest budget, and the highest revenue, for an Indian movie driven by a female lead. Made for $26.2 million, it raked in $66.7 million at the box office. ........ Speaking to Nikkei via Google Meet, she was modest, thoughtful and deliberate. “For me, it’s a little bit of the athlete mentality, I play the game and then I move forward, not thinking about the previous performance," the former national-level badminton player said......... "It had the right director, right cast, right story – the film got what it deserved." ........ India is home to more than 1.4 billion people, and its movies sell more than 2 billion tickets annually around the globe. Topping its myriad of religions are two that garner the most passion: cricket and film. ....... The nation’s three biggest male superstars are Muslim, including Shah Rukh Khan, whose six-story sea-facing mansion in the star-studded Mumbai neighborhood of Bandstand is the cause of frequent pedestrian traffic jams. Thousands throng to it each day hoping for a glimpse of their beloved “hero” – the preferred moniker for Bollywood’s male stars. .......... “It’s not that I’m thinking of writing a feminist story when I write,” Katariya said. “You write who you are and what you know. And I’ve never seen women around me who don’t have agency.” ........ For decades, female actors would stop being professionally relevant after their 30th birthday. But as more women are flooding into roles that write, roles that greenlight scripts and roles that finance those movies, women are reentering the spotlight and enjoying a midlife career renaissance. ........... But between the mushrooming of multiplex theaters and the maturing of streaming was a shift that was neither industrial nor technological – the evolution of the “three Khans.” ......... Fifteen years after her Bollywood debut in “Om Shanti Om,” where she was paired opposite a seasoned Shah Rukh Khan, Padukone is now fresh off the record-breaking success of “Pathaan,” once again with him. She is 37; he is 57. ............ “Even just in terms of value, respect…when a male actor asks for something [like an entourage], it gets done. When a female actor asks for the same thing, she’s being starry or throwing a tantrum. Or if a male star wants more time to prepare for a shoot, he’s professional. If a woman wants the same, she’s being unprofessional,” said Padukone, who has more than 30 movies under her belt. “I do command equality and respect, but it has taken time and years of effort to get to that place.” ......... The pandemic, with its monthslong lockdowns in India, accelerated the consumption of streaming content. And when India reopened, the country’s notoriously cheap data plans meant that everyone from the security guard on the graveyard shift to the domestic help traveling long distances by train to people’s homes, were all hooked to their screens. ........... “Streaming has helped a lot of progress in terms of narratives led by women,” said “Lipstick Under my Burkha” director Shrivastava. “It has opened up the space for much more nuanced and complex female characters even in shows [and movies] that are led by men.” ......... Shows like “Bombay Begums” on Netflix, written and directed by Shrivastava, and “Hush Hush” on Prime have also brought back female stars from the 1990s who were considered past their prime and are now delivering magnificent work in their 40s and 50s. .......... The first female supercop, “Lady Singham,” will be played by Padukone.

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