Maharashtra And India’s Linguistic Divide

Maharashtra And India's Linguistic Divide

Recent order from Maharashtra state of making Marathi the language of official use adds to its long history of regionalism and division based on language. Let us understand the linguistic divide of Indian states.

Crux of the Matter

Marathi Made Mandatory?
Recently, the Maharashtra state government passed a circular which ordered “departments, local authorities, officers and employees” to use only Marathi language for the official work. No increment would be provided if Marathi language is not used in the annual confidential files. Earlier in 2020, Maharashtra passed a law to make Marathi compulsory for all students belonging to 1-6 standard in the state.

Hostilities Against Migrant Labour
In 2008, a clash occurred between the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) workers. The situation deteriorated after the clashes as MNS workers attacked workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

MNS leader Raj Thackeray then criticized Amitabh Bachchan for being “more loyal to UP” than Maharashtra where he worked as a Bollywood actor.

Further hostilities ensued as MNS workers wrecked shops that did not have signboards written in Marathi. Eventually, a law was passed for shops that directed the to have their boards compulsorily in Marathi.

Raj Thackeray was once arrested after his party workers assaulted north Indian students appearing for the Government Railway Board exams, after which the hostilities decreased.

Hostilities From The Past
Bal Thackeray, who was the founder of the Shiv Sena, started a magazine called Marmik in 1960. In the magazine, Thackeray blamed people from other states for the unemployment of Marathi youth. While founding the Shiv Sena in 1966, Thackeray blamed the “South Indians” for “stealing” the jobs of Maharashtrian people.

After acquiring significant power, Thackeray reportedly incited local people to assault UP and Bihar workers and called the people of Bihar a “burden” on the country. While Bal Thackeray described the Chhath Puja as “not a holiday”, his nephew Raj Thackeray described the festival as “drama”.

History Of Linguistic Divide In India
The first notable demand for separation based on language occurred in 1895 for the demand of Orissa. The demand was eventually fulfilled in 1936 when Oriya speakers of Bihar and Bengal formed the Orissa state out of them.

In 1953, several Telugu speakers of the Madras state separated on the basis of language and formed the state of Andhra Pradesh.

In 1956, the Mahagujarat movement began which demanded the creation of a separate state for the Gujarati and Marathi speaking people. The movement acquired success in 1960 when Gujarat and Maharashtra were formed out of the Bombay Presidency.

Constitution on Linguistic Divide
Article 345 of the Indian Constitution allows “the Legislature of a State to adopt any one or more of the languages in use in the State or Hindi as the language or languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes of that State”.

Some prominent Indian leaders have expressed doubts about the linguistic divide of India. One of them was B. R. Ambedkar.

In a linguistic state, what would remain for the smaller communities to look to? Can they hope to be elected to the legislature? Can they hope to maintain a place in the state service?

This does not mean that there is no case for linguistic provinces. What it means is that there must be definite checks and balances to see that a communal majority does not abuse its power under the cover of a linguistic state.

B R Ambedkar, Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee and a social reformer

  • John R R Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and academic. He was the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which were created around his constructed languages. He created the 15 different Elvish dialects, along with languages for the Ents, the Orcs, the Dwarves, the men and the Hobbits, and more.
  • KiLiKi is a fictional language originally created by Madhan Karky for the 2015 Indian epic adventure film Baahubali: The Beginning. It has 750 words and 40 grammar rules and is written using 22 symbols.
  • Prof. Lokesh Chandra is a prominent scholar of the Vedic period, Buddhism and the Indian arts. He was the President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations during 2014–2017. He knows Sanskrit, Pali, Hindi, Avestan, Old Persian, Greek, Latin, French, German, English, Russian, Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Japanese, and Indonesian; as a result, he is considered a polyglot.
  • Duolingo is an American platform that includes a language-learning website and mobile app, as well as a digital language proficiency assessment exam. As of 30 June 2020, the language-learning website and app offer 95 different language courses in 38 languages. The app has over 300 million registered users across the world.

Did Nepal PM Oli Bite More Than He Could Chew?

Did Nepal PM Oli Bite More Than He Could Chew?

With the PM of Nepal KP Sharma Oli accusing India for his troubles, his own party has shown a divergence of opinion, that is being lead by a familiar face.

Crux of the Matter

Oli On India
The Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli made several statements against India recently. Oli accused India of spreading the Covid-19 in Nepal and claimed that the Indian government has been planning his overthrow.

Oli further deteriorated ties with India after the Nepalese government claimed Lipulekh, Kalapani, and Limpiyadhura territories of India on the map of Nepal.

On Behalf Of China
All the statements of Oli have come after the recent clashes of India with China, with the latter showing aggression on borders at Sikkim and Ladakh. Nepal enhanced Chinese impact in the nation by making Mandarin language compulsory in several schools.

Nepalese Communist Party (NCP), the ruling party in Nepal, is backed by the Communist Party of China (CPC), the ruling group in China. The Chinese embassy has reportedly mediated several times between the clashes of opposing factions in the NCP.

Disapproval From Inside
In a recent meeting, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the Chairman of the NCP, raised strong objections to Oli’s claims of Indian conspiracy to overthrow his government. The criticism was followed by several senior leaders of the party demanding Oli to show the proof against India or resign from his post.

The Prime Minister’s remarks that India was conspiring to remove him was neither politically correct, nor diplomatically appropriate… such a statement by the Prime Minister may damage our relations with the neighbour.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Chairman, Nepalese Communist Party

Who Is Prachanda?
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the chairman of NCP, is also known as ‘Prachanda’ in Nepal. He served as the Prime Minister of Nepal for the periods 2008-09 and 2016-17. In the civil war, he was the leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) against the Nepalese monarchy.

Prachanda resigned from his post both in 2009 and 2017, with the earlier resignation coming due to his attempts of removing the Army Chief, which were blocked by President Ram Baran Yadav.

Prachanda’s Relations With India
In 2006, Prachanda refused help from Pakistan’s ISI, which wanted to “destabilize” India. He also acted as the key figure in establishing the relations of his party with India.

However, he broke the tradition of Nepalese Premiers visiting India first, and made his first foreign visit as a Prime Minister to China in 2008. In 2009, he made attempts to sack the Nepalese Army Chief Rookmangud Katawal, which were opposed by India.
In 2015, Prachanda blamed India for the blockade at the Nepal border, which was reportedly created by the local parties of the Madhesi region.

Prachanda formed the Nepalese Communist Party by merging Oli’s Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) party with his own Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists). However, Oli reportedly fears the toppling of his government by Prachanda.

  • Sagarmāthā was one of the fourteen zones of Nepal until the restructuring of zones into provinces. Sagarmāthā is a Nepali word derived from sagar meaning “sky” and māthā meaning “head”. It includes mountain districts of the Himalayas (including Mount Everest).
  • Colonel Sir George Everest was a British surveyor and geographer who served as Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843. He is best known for having Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth, named in his honour.
  • In Himalayan folklore, the Yeti is a monstrous creature. The names Yeti and Meh-Teh are commonly used by the people indigenous to the region, and are part of their folk beliefs. Alleged Yeti footprint was found by Michael Ward and photographed by Eric Shipton taken at Menlung Glacier on the 1951 Everest Expedition with Edmund Hillary in Nepal.

A Smart Mask From Japan That Translates Speech As Well

A Smart Mask From Japan That Translates Speech

Japanese researchers in a startup, Donut Robotics have managed to create a smart mask that connects to smartphones via bluetooth and lets users make calls remotely, without directly using a phone. It can be the start of an everyday gadget that can help us fight against Covid-19.

Crux of the Matter

C-Mask for C-oronavirus
The internet-connected mask has a built-in speaker, that amplifies the wearer’s voice and can translate speech into 8 different languages including English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian.

Additionally, it is also capable of sending text messages via speech, making both calls and messaging a touch-free operation. Dubbed as the ‘C-Mask’, the device fits over regular masks that are fabric based. 

More Is Yet To Come
The creator behind the iconic mask, Donut Robotics’ CEO Taisuke Ono says, “We worked hard for years to develop a robot. Now we have used that technology to create a product that responds to how coronavirus has reshaped our society.”

Depending on its reception, the Japanese firm will add features like taking notes and expand into augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) capabilities later on.

Research Behind It
A mask design was created by one of the company’s engineers, Shunsuke Fujibayashi. Four years ago, he had put it forward for a student project to interpret speech by mapping face muscles. 

Mapping of facial muscles, Source: CoMETA

Who would have imagined it would be a accessory of crucial importance in a pandemic years later! A prototype connected mask was then invented in a month’s time, by adapting translation software developed for its robot.

What Is Its Expected Market?
Japan will be the foremost market to experiment with the C-Mask, with 5,000 units delivered by September, priced at 3,980 Japanese Yen (~₹2,800). The next aim would be its export in the US, Europe and China, where a second coronavirus wave is being feared by medical experts.

Other Real-time Translation Devices Available

  • Birgus Smart Voice Translator Device
  • Docooler Intelligent Language Translator Device
  • Google Pixel Buds
  • MOGOI Smart Language Translator Device
  • Pocketalk Language Translator Device for Portable Two-Way Voice Interpreter
  • Umiwe Smart Language Translation Device
  • Waverly Lab’s ‘Ambassador’ 

Meanwhile In Gujarat
A Gujrat based textile company Intellifabrix has announced the launch of ‘viroblock technology’ for developing anti-viral fabric It claims to remove coronavirus from the surface of the garment within half an hour, using a special combination of advanced vesicle and silver technology.

It will reportedly begin manufacturing shirt-related and face mask products first and then extend the technology in making other items.

  • As of July 2020, Google Translate supports 109 languages at various levels and as of April 2016, claimed over 500 million total users, with more than 100 billion words translated daily. In May 2014, Google acquired Word Lens to improve the quality of visual and voice translation.
  • is a human-powered translation service based in Chicago, Illinois. The company offers a web-based human translation subscription platform in combination with artificial intelligence technologies. In 2015, launched its enterprise platform which brings together artificial intelligence, human translators, and editors to offer scalable translation services.
  • Apple announced that iOS 14 will feature an all-new Translate app for translating conversations, with support for 11 different languages at launch and an offline mode for private voice and text translation. Supported languages include Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

What Is Hong Kong Security Law And It’s History?

Controversial Hong Kong Security Law And Its History

China passed Security Law in Hong Kong which would restrict public freedom, manifesting the complex relationship between the two.

Crux of the Matter

Security Law
China passed the Security Law for Hong Kong (HK) on 30 June 2020. The law criminalizes “secession, subversion and collusion” against the Chinese Govt for HK citizens. Critics have expressed strong disapproval of the law, labeling it as “draconian” which would infringe fundamental civil rights.

Previous protests on a similar level occurred in 2019 when China attempted to enforce Extradition Law. The law would have allowed the trial of dissenters of HK in Chinese Courts.

Impact On Civilians

  • Severe restrictions now imposed on the criticism of Chinese government.
  • China would set up a Security Office in Hong Kong, which would function outside HK jurisdiction.
  • Extradition allowed: Dissenters in HK would be put on trial in China by Govt permission.
  • Hyper surveillance of citizens and dissenters would be done.
  • Definition of ‘sedition’ changed, now also including acts of protest and dissent.
  • Chinese government would have stronger control over foreign NGOs and news agencies.
  • Lawbreakers would be imprisoned, with sentences possible to be extended for life.

Civilians have started removing posts from social media which criticized the Chinese government, while pro-democracy activists have started resigning from their posts.

History of Hong Kong
Hong Kong (HK) existed as an island under Chinese rule.

  • 1842: China and Britain engage in the first Opium war. China loses the war and HK is handed over to Britain.
  • 1898: Britain wins the second Opium war, and takes HK on a lease of 99 years.
  • 1949: The Communist Party of China wins the civil war, forcing the nationalists to flee to Taiwan and HK.
  • 1949-1997: HK establishes autonomous rule and a capitalist economy.
  • 1997: Britain grants the rule of HK to China after the 99 years lease expired. China integrates HK with ‘One country, Two systems‘, which allows it to retain its capitalist economy.
  • 2014: Mass protests occur as the bill of pre-screening the Chief Executive nominee is passed.
  • 2019: China attempts to pass ‘Extradition Law‘, which it withdraws after mass protests.
  • 2020: China passes the Security Law. US imposes trade restrictions after concerns over the autonomy of HK against Chinese forces.

One country, Two Systems: Hong Kong & Macau to have their own governmental, legal, financial systems & trade relations with foreign countries, independent from those of the Mainland. It was formulated in the early 1980s by Deng Xiaoping during negotiations with the UK over Hong Kong. It must also be noted that under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, Hong Kong was guaranteed its freedoms for “at least 50 years” after 1997.

  • The name Hong Kong is actually a phonetic translation of the city’s Cantonese name (heung gong), which literally means “Fragrant Harbour”.
  • A series of sit-in street protests, often called the Umbrella Revolution, occurred in Hong Kong from 26 September to 15 December 2014. Its name arose from the use of umbrellas as a tool for passive resistance to the Hong Kong Police’s use of pepper spray.
  • A bipartisan group of prominent U.S. lawmakers has nominated Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters for the Nobel Peace Prize. In a letter to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and James McGovern recommended awarding the prize to the countless and often anonymous individuals [who] risked their lives, their health, their jobs, and their education to support a better future for Hong Kong.

India v/s Covid-19: Plasma, Covaxin, And Cases

India v/s Covid-19: Plasma, Covaxin, And Cases

India has witnessed mixed reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, with plasma treatment and Covaxin vaccine being balanced by a steady rise of cases.

Crux of the Matter

Plasma In Maharashtra-Delhi
Maharashtra government recently launched project ‘Platina‘, which would create the world’s largest Plasma therapy trial for Covid-19 patients in critical stage. Initially, the therapy would be provided to 500 patients, with the government aiming for treating 5,000 patients till August.

Similarly, Delhi government has announced the setting up of a Plasma Bank, which would be the first of its type in India. Satyendra Jain, the Health Minister of Delhi, recently availed the Plasma treatment after testing positive for Covid-19. After the therapy, Jain has shown significant improvement in health. Consequently, Jain and Atishi Marlena, a leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, have pledged to donate their plasma after recovery.

What Is Plasma Therapy?
Plasma is the liquid part of blood which contains the antibodies. Human immune system develops antibodies while combating a virus. A recovered patient can donate blood by consent, from which the plasma is recovered. This plasma, laden with antibodies, is then transferred to other patients.

Plasma therapy has several risks, including the weakening of the immune system and the augmentation of the infection. However, several Covid-19 patients have shown significant improvements, chiefly in respiration and oxygen saturation levels.

COVAXIN is the first Indian candidate for Covid-19 vaccine, and recently received permission to conduct human trials.

The vaccine is developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV). It is an inactivated type of vaccine, which contains a virus that has been rendered incapable of replication.

  • Michael Rubinstein was the first to use plasmapheresis to treat an immune-related disorder when he saved the life of an adolescent boy with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) is a blood disorder that results in blood clots forming in small blood vessels throughout the body.
  • The United States has bought nearly the entire world’s supply of Remdesivir, one of just two drugs proven to treat COVID-19. US authorities secured more than 500,000 treatment courses of the drug through September, which represents 100% of Gilead’s projected production for July, 90% of production in August, and 90% of production in September. 
  • The world No. 1 in men’s tennis, Novak Djokovic announced that he and his wife, Jelena, had tested positive for the coronavirus. He organized an exhibition series in Croatia and Serbia which resulted in many attendees testing positive towards the virus. “I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm,” Djokovic said on social media.