Sudhanva Shetty Shetty
Writer, coffee-addict, likes folk music & long walks in the rain. Firmly believes that there's nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate.
The past few days witnessed several negative stories, from worries over the effects of climate change and the Bangalore Metro Strike to riots in West Bengal and the continuation of the Supreme Court’s Karnan fiasco.
In the midst of this volley of negative news stories and worrying developments, it is easy to view the present as grim and the future as bleak. However, more often than not, several positive news stories are ignored for the tsunami of negative publicity. There are many instances of inspiration and promise from all fields, from science to politics, that are reason enough for us to not lose hope.
Here are a few such stories from the past few days.
Days after recapturing strategic points of Mosul, the de facto capital of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq, the Iraqi Army drove all remaining militants out of the city and declared victory over ISIS on 9 July.
The Iraqi Army, aided by Kurdish militias and international forces, marked the end of eight months of the gruelling war effort to retake the city of Mosul, which, after falling to ISIS in June 2014, served as the terror group’s de facto capital in Iraq.
القائد العام للقوات المسلحة الدكتور حيدر العبادي يصل مدينة الموصل المحررة ، ويبارك للمقاتلين الابطال والشعب العراقي بتحقيق النصر الكبير
— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) July 9, 2017
PM Al-Abadi meets with ISF commanders and forces who led the Mosul liberation campaign pic.twitter.com/qLILtkIWch
— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) July 9, 2017
At the same time, Reuters reported that the Islamic State’s stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, is also close to falling.
A US-backed, Kurdish-led coalition besieging Raqqa fully encircled it after closing the ISIS militants’ last way out from the south, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
These setbacks have reduced Islamic State’s territory by 60% from its peak two years ago and its revenue by 80%, to just $16 million a month.
“Their fictitious state has fallen,” spokesman Yahya Rasool told state TV. (More here.)
Muslims in North 24-Parganas district, West Bengal, where tensions erupted after a teen’s “objectionable” post on social media, are pooling money to help Hindu neighbours rebuild their gutted shops and businesses.
“Even after the demolition of the Babri mosque, our town remained peaceful. What happened since Tuesday was not right. Some outsiders and some of our local boys are to blame. But now we are pooling money for our Hindu neighbours. We want them to forget the losses and start afresh,” Gaji, a local businessman told The Indian Express.
“It is not a hollow promise. We have told local shop owners that we will give as much as it takes, Rs 2 lakh or Rs 5 lakh. We will help you, whether by pooling money or by collecting subscriptions to cover your losses. Whatever has happened has happened, do not worry anymore, or have any hard feelings. The tradition of Basirhat has been tarnished. This has never happened before,” said Ershad, a localite. (More here.)
As announced in the Rail budget 2016-2017, the Indian Railways has launched Janani Sewa, a scheme to provide baby food at railway stations. It has been introduced by the Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu to help travelling mothers. Under the scheme, the Railways will ensure the availability of some essential items like hot milk, hot water and baby food.
“We are introducing Janani Sewa to make mothers happy,” said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu after its launch. He added that the initiative was taken after a complaint of a mother regarding the absence of milk at rail premises. “Once a mother had tweeted about milk unavailability in the train and taking note of her complaint on the social networking site, we had ensured milk at that train.” (More here.)
World leaders at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany last week unanimously voiced their discontent over America’s stance against the Paris Agreement and reaffirmed their support for international efforts to fight global warming.
The summit’s final statement made clear that the other countries and the European Union supported the Paris Agreement, which Trump pulled out of last month. They called the deal to reduce greenhouse gases “irreversible” and vowed to implement it “swiftly” and without exception. (More here.)
In a landmark move, Germany legalised same-sex marriage in a snap Parliamentary vote on 30 June.
Chancellor Angela Merkel hinted at the move earlier that week. Merkel set the ball in motion when she said that she would like to see the issue considered as a “question of conscience,” freeing members of her coalition to vote based on their personal convictions. (The Chancellor herself, however, voted against the Bill.)
With this, Germany has joined its Western counterparts, including France, UK and USA, in legalising gay marriage. (More here.)
11 vaccinations for young children will be made compulsory in France from 2018, the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced during a Parliamentary address.
Three vaccines: diphtheria, tetanus and polio are already obligatory but from 2018 these will be joined by eight more: whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, influenza, pneumonia and meningitis C.
The Prime Minister said in his speech that “diseases that we believed to be eradicated are developing once again, children are dying of the measles in France and in the country of Pasteur, that is unacceptable.”
At present, these vaccinations are only recommended by the state and the decision whether or not to inoculate a child is left in the hands of the parents, who are often swayed by theories and scare stories about health risks of certain vaccines. (More here.)
A 12-year-old boy, Ravi Teja, has taken upon himself the task of filling up potholes on Hyderabad’s Habsiguda main road after he witnessed the death of a toddler in a road accident.
A couple was travelling on a motorcycle with their child when, while trying to evade potholes, they met with an accident and the 6-month-old fell into a borewell.
Unfortunately, the child succumbed to the accident. This sad incident touched a chord in the heart of young Ravi. He took upon himself the task of filling every pothole that he came across in his locality, so as to prevent any such disaster.
Ravi Teja is the son of construction worker D Suryanarayana and homemaker Nagamani. He started collecting broken bricks, gravel and stones from nearby areas and filling potholes whenever he spotted them. Even as roads remain busy, he waits patiently to repair the roads. (More here.)
On 6 July, the European Union (EU) and Japan agreed upon a significant free trade agreement which will cover over 30% of the global economy and 9% of the world population.
“Japan and the EU demonstrated our strong political will to raise the flag of free trade high when there are moves toward protectionism in the world. It’s a result we should be proud of and this is a powerful message to the world,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a press conference.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk concurred, saying, “Although some are saying that the time of isolationism and disintegration is coming again, we are demonstrating that this is not the case.”
Reached after four years of negotiations, the Japan-EU pact will eliminate 99% of tariffs between the two partners while also expanding markets for services and government procurement along with enhancing regulatory cooperation.
Among its economic benefits, the deal could boost EU exports to Japan by 34% and Japanese exports to the EU by 29%. The EU’s gross domestic product (GDP) could grow by 0.76 percentage point and Japan’s by 0.29 percentage point. The EU also estimates it will save 1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) a year in customs duties, growing its exports to Japan to more than 100 billion euro.
In a time of economic protectionism and uncertainty over the direction of economic globalisation, this sends a powerful message in favour of free trade and globalisation. Furthermore, with the United States becoming increasingly isolated, economists predict that the EU-Japanese Free Trade Agreement could inspire similar efforts around the world. (More here.)
Volunteers in Madhya Pradesh planted more than 66 million (6 crore) trees in a record-breaking environmental drive of 12 hours (7 am to 7 pm) on Sunday, 2 July.
The plantation campaign, organised by the state government, saw the participation of about 1.5 million people, who planted more than 20 different species of saplings along the Narmada River throughout Sunday. 24 districts of the Narmada river basin were chosen as planting sites to increase the chances of saplings’ survival.
Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan described the efforts as a “historic day” and said that the campaign was a part of the Narmada Seva Mission and step toward declining global warming. (More here.)
Women passengers and a lady constable helped 24-year-old Meenakshi Jadhav deliver her baby at Thane Station on 21 June.
According to ANI, Meenakshi Jadhav along with her husband Sandesh Jadhav had reached Thane Railway Station’s Platform Number 10 to catch a local train to Ghatkopar to visit a hospital. Meenakshi is a resident of Shaninagar, Badlapur.
But before they could board the train, Meenakshi started experiencing severe labour pain.
Railway Protection Force (RPF) officer Shobha Mothe swiftly responded to Sandesh Jadhav’s cries for help along with other women who were nearby. They provided Meenakshi cover and helped her deliver her baby safely.
After a few minutes, Meenakshi gave birth to a baby boy. Meenakshi and her newborn son are being treated in Civil Hospital and are reportedly safe. Meanwhile, Government Railway Police in Thane have taken a note of the incident. (More here.)
France is set to ban the sale of any car that uses petrol or diesel fuel by 2040, in what Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot called a “revolution”.
“France has decided to become carbon neutral by 2050 following the US decision,” Hulot said, adding that the government would have to make investments to meet that target. Poorer households would receive financial assistance to replace older, more polluting vehicles with cleaner ones.
The minister said France planned to become carbon neutral by 2050 and announced the planned ban on fossil fuel vehicles as part of a renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement. (More here.)
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