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Poverty: are we being blind to the real problems?

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Poverty of area

While the time we are afraid of stepping out of our homes, people are wandering the streets searching for a pile to eat. We, living the most possible comfortable life in the pandemic yet we feel like prisoners; and there are people out there who don’t have shelter over their heads amid the pandemic. We all do know about the challenges faced by the unprivileged section just for surviving, but the problem is most of us don’t want to talk about poverty.

So, let’s talk, about half a year of the coronavirus-triggered pandemic struck the world. 6 months down the line, how the impoverished section is dealing with it?

Poverty and Pandemic

Is it right to say, poverty is a pandemic?

Poverty, whose ways of eradication fuel political rallies in India, every political leader’s promise of the complete annihilation of poverty, was never kept. In every tenure, every leader pledges to citizens that, by the end of their tenure India would be a better place for the unprivileged section, which never happened.

The most populous democracy in the world but yet two-thirds of the people in the country hover in poverty, SOS Children’s Village Canada. Poverty exists in every country, there are poor in every part of the world; But what are the services provided to them, tell what really the government there is doing for them.

No doubt India has done some growth in helping its poor to lift above poverty. According to the United Nations in India in the period between 1994 to 2012; the percentage of people below the poverty line has reduced, from 45% then to 22% now. In that period approximately 133 million fellow Indians have been pulled out of poverty.

But despite all the progress made in decades, the poor are getting more poverty-stricken. The condition can be assumed by the fact that; India’s richest 1% are four-time more wealthy than the bottom 70% population of the country. From 2006 to 2015, ordinary and low-wage workers have seen a hike of 2% in their income; while the millionaires grew by six times.

The income gap between the rich and the poor in India is deeper than ever before. The global pandemic is making the situation already awful worse.

Is India a poor country?

India is the 5th largest economy in the world and the 3rd largest as per PPA (purchasing power parity). But outlandishly for the same things but per capita, India’s rank is 139 by GDP and 118th in PPA, 2018.

India is home to 1.3 billion people with a breakneck growth rate of 7.3%; it is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It is estimated that India will have a larger economy than the U.S. in 2050. By 2075 it is likely to bypass China, hence becoming the largest economy in the world. Every year several Indian billionaires are added to the list of richest people in the world.

The other figure in which India is just bypassing China is population. India is very near to becoming the most populous country on the planet. It is likely to pass 1.7 billion by 2070; by then the earth is estimated to be home to 10 billion people. That is 2 out of 10 of all the humans living on earth would be Indian.

India will soon become a superpower in terms of population, but the country’s inequalities are a huge risk. 25% of the poor in the world are in India. The country is wealthy yet impoverished.

Why is there Poverty in India?

No one can deny that India is a rich country, with a GDP of 2.4 trillion dollars which is more than that of Great Britain and France. The problem with India is that its wealth is not evenly distributed.

One out of five individuals in the country earns less than $2 per day. 80% of India’s poor live in rural areas where the source of income can be counted on fingers. For these people, the main source of income is agriculture, that too by cultivating the lands of their landlords.

Most of the poor people in the country don’t have access to proper education. And that little fraction which does have access to that can not get it of good quality. The government educational institutes provide free-of-cost education till the primary level, but most such students leave the school in middle to earn for living. Therefore expounding their hope of escaping poverty for most of the part.

The biggest hurdle laying between the government and the poor in India is corruption; the government provides facilities to the poor, but the money and facilities do not reach them. In every financial bill, every government comes up with new schemes to help the poor lift from poverty; but the corrupted system of India eats up the money before reaching the hand of the needy.

Be left holding the bag

Poverty is the reality that most people do know exists, but don’t want to see. After all, we all are human, we all have a heart, and we feel disconsolate whenever we confront the reality of extreme poverty. Therefore we try to escape from the truth by blinding ourselves. We don’t want to see the melancholy of the poor, so we confine ourselves to our fantasy world, assuming that every person is living a comfortable life like we are.

Every government in their tenure tries to battle poverty, they try to eradicate it; which leader does not want their nation to flourish after all? Most of us try to help the poor, and we raise funds for them, but in the end, the poor still die starving. The problem is not in the decision, but in the way, they are implemented.

The government should try to fight the battle in the most fruitful way. Invest more in quality education and provide them with jobs, which can actually benefit them, not the corrupted system.

With Panglossian hope, that one-day extreme poverty would really be eradicated, let’s confront it; Poverty does exist and people out there are suffering and dying because of it, but this dark reality can be changed. People would live a better life, than what they are living today, but we have to help them, by educating them, by telling them about what all facilities are there for them. The dire state of poverty in India and all over the world would change, but we’ll have to become that change.

Be the change you want to see in the world” by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

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Delhi Air Pollution: 18 Million People at the Risk of Severe Health Problems

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Delhi Air Pollution

Delhi Air Pollution: Delhi, the capital of India, is one of the most polluted cities in the world. But winter is especially cruel here. Each year, October, November, and December bring together an exceptionally dirty environment, where over 18 million people are forced to live with a quilt of smog covering the capital and nearing cities.

2022 is nothing different. With the Air Pollution Index (API) at 337, the condition of Delhi’s environment is worsening. 

The big question now is: what causes such disastrous air pollution in Delhi? What are the inferno reasons that pollute the air of entire northern India? And how are Delhites coping with the pollution?

An Overview of the Problem: Delhi Air Pollution

According to an India Today Web Desk article, Delhi has topped the list of the most polluted cities worldwide for the fourth consecutive year. The survey was initiated by SoGA, where the organization listed 20 polluted cities around the world in which Delhi ranked in the first position. 

The air quality here in Delhi gets so bad in winter that the government needs to declare a public health emergency in response to exacerbating air pollution. 

Like every year, the state government shut down schools, stalled all construction and industrial activities, and implemented an odd-even scheme traffic rotation to prevent air pollution.

“We can’t see the skyline. The air is unbreathable and traveling to work is extremely dangerous as you can see anything after 2 meters in the smog. This is not severe! This is an emergency—the next level of severity.”

Abhishek singh, a Delhi resident told mzemo

This condition happens every year when Delhi experiences a massive spike in air pollution—unfortunately, initiating the reason for two deaths in the country “EVERY MINUTE.” 

What is Behind Delhi Air Pollution?

The unfortunate thing about the population of Delhi and the Delhi government is that they are not entirely responsible for the severe air pollution in their state. 

According to SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research), 48% of Delhi’s air pollution is responsible for stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.  

Delhi’s AQI has been in the severe zone (401-500) for seven days between October 20 and November 14 this year. The percentage of farm fires that contributed to Delhi’s PM 2.5 on each of these days ranged from 26% to 48%.

The primary contributors to the dangerous situation in Delhi include

Stubble BurnersThe Deed Owners 

Though stubble burning has been an agricultural practice for centuries, the combined mechanical harvesters leave behind the stalk of the crop in the soil, which is around 2 feet high.

Therefore, to save money and time, farmers, instead of cutting the remaining stalk, set fire to the entire field so that a new batch of crops could be grown as soon as possible. 

Stubble Burning
Stubble Burning

After the year 2009, stubble burning became even more popular when the governments of Haryana and Punjab passed a law order to conserve water.

However, despite the concerning issue of air pollution in the past few years, the stubble-burning culture still continues.

The Himalayan Cool Winds Worsen the Delhi Air Pollution

The stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, and Western UP creates fumes that blow away toward Delhi due to the strong winds during winter.

Combined with the cold winds coming from the Himalayas, this smoke gets trapped in Delhi’s air due to temperature inversion. The Himalayan mountain acts like a kind of barrier for Delhi, directing the smoke towards the capital.

 

Delhi Bracing for cold waves
Delhi Bracing for cold waves

Additionally, the weather also plays a significant role in worsening Delhi’s pollution. During the winters, cold mountain air rushes down from the Himalayas towards Delhi. Arriving cold air from the Himalayas beneath a layer of warm lowland air creates a dome over the state. 

The warm air keeps pollution trapped on the ground with nowhere to go. So when stubble fire smoke reaches Delhi, it blends with urban pollution and forms toxic smog.

All these reasons combined, Delhi experiences dangerous air pollution that is so high that even air quality meters cannot accurately gauge its level.

The Co-Partners of Stubble Burners  

During October-November, India celebrates their premier festival of Diwali, where lighting crackers worsen the situation in Delhi

Diwali infused air pollution

When the weather was considered, the survey discovered increases in PM2.5 concentrations, one of the most dangerous particles for human health, to approximately 40% high on the second day of the festival.

The Delhi government, however, made significant efforts to reduce the effects of burning crackers in Delhi pollution but failed to implement it thoroughly. 

Stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana peaks in October end- and November. While the contribution of Diwali crackers significantly affects the air quality of Delhi

Nevertheless, the contribution of stubble burning is Delhi’s primary cause of air pollution.

Delhi Air Pollution: The Solution

The unique geographical location of Delhi, coupled with its huge population, puts the state in a fragile position. In the interview with Mzemo, Abhishek said that the condition is getting worse every year.

However, there are a few solutions.

The controllable thing for Delhi is to use public transport, the Metro, or trains to travel. Secondly, reduce the waste or bifurcate the plastics and dry waste from wet. Third, implement strict rules and regulations against the Punjab and Haryana governments. 

And most importantly, the government needs to come up with policies that to restore quality air in Delhi, especially when the life of 18 million people are at risk.

Read Next: COP27 Climate Change Summit: Greenwashing Scam Imperilling Human Rights

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Palestine is Entrenched In the Heart of Qatar World Cup

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The Tunisian fans holding a huge banner of Free Palestine in Qatar World Cup FIFA 2022

Almost every match of the Qatar 2022 World Cup has witnessed signs of having Palestine entrenched in the heart of World Cup’s fans by either raising the Palestinian flag, wearing a Palestinian kufiyah or chanting slogans in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Palestine is a kind of country that is physically absent but spiritually present in the heart of the World Cup in Qatar. There is hardly a match, event, or promotional activity without the presence of the Palestinian flag, even though its team does not participate in the tournament. This edition of the World Cup tournaments is, by all means, different and holds significant importance since its beginning 92 years ago for the Arabs and the Palestinians. Since the beginning of the tournaments, Palestinians have been looking forward to spreading awareness about their suffering and getting their voice heard on a large scale.

What is in the heart, is in the heart

Arabs’ unity at its best in supporting Palestinians is present in a chilling way in the Mondial. This is almost the first time for Muslims, Arabs, and especially Palestinians to have their powerful platform to speak aloud. They need to speak loudly about their suffering in the largest gathering ever. The Palestinian flag has been flown with pride at stadiums across Doha since the tournament kicked off.

The unifying power of football has been unmistakably displayed, with Palestinians eager to throw their support behind Arab teams upsetting football’s international elite. On the other hand, Arabs have also shown signs of solidarity with the Palestinians during the tournaments. “My friends and I have been exchanging videos posted online showing Arab people waving the Palestinian flag, it’s a testament that we are one and Palestine is alive in the hearts and minds of all Arabs,” a fan said.   Furthermore, Arab activists on “Twitter” launched a campaign to boycott companies supporting the “Israeli” occupation, and widely raised Palestinian flags during the World Cup Qatar 2022. Beautifully, Tunisian fans chanted for Palestine and raised the Palestinian flag outside the stadiums beautifully displaying Palestine entrenched in the heart of the World Cup.

Tunisian fans singing for Palestine ” the beloved Palestine” song

A light-up message “Gaza is in our hearts” appears at a building during the FIFA World Cup.

Qatar encapsulates timeless universal solidarity with Palestine

It is not surprising to see the Qatari fans’ support for the Palestinians in the Mondial. On top of all supporting countries, Qatar has always shown solidarity with the Palestinian question whether spiritually or financially. Significantly, Qatar has seized the chance not only to spread Islamic culture and history but also the Palestinian question as well. Likewise, a Qatari man filmed a video on social media showing him distributing Palestinian armbands.

Several Qataris wore armbands featuring a pro-Palestinian design at the Mondial, according to photos posted on Twitter. The armbands bore the black-and-white design of the kufiyah scarf that is synonymous with the Palestinian cause. They were an apparent response to players and officials protesting FIFA’s players who wear the gay armband on the pitch. On top of all of that, Winterhill Hospitality, the official Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup hospitality-booking site, has put ‘Occupied Palestinian territories’ as a country option, without mentioning ‘Israel’ on its list. Moreover, it launched a popular campaign called “The Palestinian Dream” in Qatar. It aims to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause and the crimes of the occupation. It also has another aim: taking advantage of the major global event “World Cup”.

In addition, a Qatari man appeared in a video refusing to talk to an Israeli reporter as a way of showing solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Not only him, but also many Qataris showed refusing to interact with Israeli reporters. They also held the Palestinian flags high in every street, car, and stadium.

Pro-Palestinian fans refusing to interact with the Israeli media

Israel is hopelessly isolated as Palestine is entrenched in the heart of the masses

As a sign and a result of showing solidarity with Palestinians, the masses have hopelessly outcasted and isolated Israeli media in front of the world. The Israeli media appeared isolated amidst large numbers of Arab fans. Whenever knowing their Israeli identity and hear their broken Arab accent, pro-Palestinians rally around them with dozens of Palestinian flags. For more, click here. “We feel hated, surrounded by hostility and unwanted,” an Israeli journalist said. Another Israeli reporter interviewing a Saudi fan burst into anger shouting that “Israel stays for doomsday.” This is a sign of covering up the distress and anger in which he is. This Mondial has proved the hatred of Arabs, Muslims, and some Westerners worldwide for the Israelis. A Saudi fan was overwhelmed in a video telling an Israeli reporter that he is not welcome here.

Saudi fan confronts an Israeli reporter in Qatar World Cup 2022

As a result, Israeli media started to flounder for being a redundant intolerable guest. “After a while, we decided to claim we were Ecuadorian when someone would ask us where we were from,” an Israeli reporter said. Read more on this: Is anti-Semitism essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood?

Israeli reporter denies he’s from Israel after being spotted by a football fan at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Yemeni, Saudi, and Tunisian masses gave a harsh lesson to the Israeli journalist Jay Hochmann. This happened when he stood among their groups to impose himself among them, so they cheered “Palestine”. Furthermore, Yediot Ahrnot said that their coverage of the World Cup showed the magnitude of the Arabs’ hatred of Israel. It also noted that Iranian, Qatari, Jordanian, Moroccan, Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian fans were looking at them with hate looks.

General view

Summing up, it is the instinct of Arabic peoples to show such solidarity with Palestinians. All the presented signs show that Palestine is entrenched in the heart of World Cup fans. Through their unity and awareness, the Palestinian question is strongly dominant in the scene. Most importantly, let us not forget the enormous efforts of Qatar of supporting Palestinians in all circumstances. One of the most critical factors to make full benefit of the Qatar World Cup in support of the Palestinian cause is to communicate directly with match commentators, presenters, and influencers. This can be via television, radio channels, or social media sites to highlight, talk about, and address the Palestinian issue during their comments on the games.

In addition to the need to interact on social media sites via several tags, most notably Palestine in the World Cup, to get the issue to the extreme and the most significant gatherings. This interaction proved that the question of Palestine is still alive and still entrenched in the hearts of all Arabs and Islamic peoples in the World Cup. Qatar World Cup FIFA has become the main platform to convey the Palestinian question to the whole world. On the other hand, negligence and outcast, at least, are what Israelis got due to their bloody deeds against Palestinians. From our platform, we announce our support for Qatar and the Palestinian question as well.

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Economy

The UK Economy Braces for 2-Year Long Recession: What Went Wrong?

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Rishi Sunak

The UK economy is witnessing one of the worst crises in its history. The downfall of the pound, war-infused energy crisis, skyrocketing electricity bills, collapsing stock market, changing Prime ministers, and whatnot?

Nothing has gone in the UK’s favor since the passing of the Queen. And now the country is bracing for a prolonged two-year recession with contracting third quarters.

But what went wrong in the first place? How did this trigger an economic catastrophe in the UK? And can Rishi Sunak save the UK?

Here is a detailed explainer:

UK Economy: An Overview of the Problem

With the political upheaval and the pandemic, the already suffering economy of the UK reached its brim when the Russia-Ukraine war ignited. 

In response to Ukraine’s invasion, Britain halted the import of fuel, gas, or coal from Russia since June for the first time in the past 25 years.  

As a result, Russia stopped its critical gas pipeline to Europe, thus creating an energy crisis. 

All this led to the UK’s economic downfall. 

Today, inflation is at an all-time high of 9.9%, a 40-year high. Energy bills are shot up by almost 80%despite capping. Finally, and most importantly, the pound has become one of the worst-performing currencies, with its value dropping by 24% against the dollar.  

The Mini Budget Turmoil 

With such disruptive environments in the UK, former Prime Minister Liz Truss came up with the mini-budget. The mini-budget baskets a slew of tax changes, including the elimination of the high rate of income tax for the wealthy and the energy subsidies policy platform. 

However, the mini-budget backfired and now has snowballed from an energy crisis into debt, housing, currency, and even a banking crisis. 

The pointer mentioned in the mini-budget has been so terrifying that it shook the economy of the UK and plunged the London Stock Exchange horribly. 

With such an unstable situation inside the UK economy, Truss changed her mind about company taxes after days of adamantly defending her budget and firing finance Minister Kwarteng. 

“I still agree with my policies, but I’ve sacked my finance minister because he announced them, and the market didn’t like them.” 

She said 

A Cold and Long Winters Awaits the UK

The three major events that make the incoming winter snug for the UK are:

  • First, Russia has entirely cut off gas, which causes the cost of electricity to shoot up by almost 80%
  • Secondly, on top of the existing gas storage, the incoming winter energy consumption is about to hit a new peak from September to December. 
  • Third, even if Europe had 90% of its Energy storage complete in September 2022, it could take only 90 days for it to reach dangerously low levels. 

Long story short, a gas shortage during a peak consumption time, with no storage option, will further increase energy prices. It has already been shot up at extreme levels resulting in high electricity bills that eventually heated inflation and the economy of the UK. 

Even though the UK is receiving help from the US and other countries, gas prices are still very high. Hence the cost of production and inflation has hit a record 9.9%.  

“It is going to be tough. But protecting the vulnerable – and people’s jobs, mortgages, and bills – will be at the front of our minds as we work to restore stability, confidence, and long-term growth,”

British finance minister Jeremy Hunt twitted

Bond Market Crisis with Collapsing Pound 

The UK’s property market, pension industry, and overall economy are at risk of recession. The reason behind this is the decline in the price of UK government bonds and the ensuing rise in interest rates. 

10-year bond rates in the UK have gone above almost 300%, going from just about 1% to 4.11% in just nine months. 

Even though the bonds yield a 4% interest, the currency has depreciated to such an extent that it has become a disaster for foreign investors. As a result, foreign investors are quitting the UK market, further decreasing the demand for the pound. 

Such a crisis in the bond market resulted in currency depreciation further, and the sterling slid against the US dollar. Furthermore, during the Ukraine-Russia war, Russia cut off gas supplies, and oversized reliance on imports further surge Euro.   

Rishi, the Third Prime Minister in Three Months 

After the resignation of Boris Johnson with 27 ministers, the office was handed over to Liz Truss. When Boris left the office, there was a sensation in the UK that it was time for stability and competence.

However, due to poor politics and policies, Liz Truss abruptly resigned from the post of Prime Minister within 45 days. The shortest and most disastrous spell that slung the economy of the UK and crashed the pound forced Liz Truss to step down from the post. 

With the resignation of Liz Truss, the reign was entrusted to Rishi Sunak, the third PM of the UK in the last three months. Sunak’s appointment ended another period of political unrest in the UK. 

But many analysts and Westminster observers are still of the opinion that there will soon be another crisis. With the opposition Labor Party presently leading in the polls, all opposition parties are pleading for a general election.

Can Rishi Sunak Save UK Economy?

The political unpredictability has led the UK economy into a two-year-long recession. The previous two prime ministers were unqualified to steer the UK economy’s flimsy ship. Hence Rishi has some challenging tasks to do. 

Now, everything will depend on how Rishi approaches the challenging work of rescuing the UK economy from disaster, and it will be interesting to watch how he advances.

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