Category Archives: International

Is FIFA 2022 in Qatar a mistake?

Sepp Blatter, FIFA president has admitted for the first time that awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar may have been a mistake.

The winning bid

On 2nd December 2010, Qatar won the bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Qatar will be the first Middle East nation to host a FIFA World Cup.

The other countries that bid to host the tournament were Australia, Japan, South Korea and the US.

Weather concerns

The weather in Qatar is the major issue. The FIFA World Cup is held during the summer where the temperature soars to above 50°C.

The official bid site for Qatar 2022 states, “Each of the five stadia will harness the power of the sun’s rays to provide a cool environment for players and fans by converting solar energy into electricity that will then be used to cool both fans and players at the stadia. Along with the stadia, we plan to make the cooling technologies we’ve developed available to other countries in hot climates, so that they too can host major sporting events.”

Rescheduling the tournament to winter months is not feasible, as it will disrupt domestic league competitions in countries like England, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. However, this matter will be discussed at a meeting on October 3.

Other concerns

Qatar’s legal system is based on Sharia law. Therefore, alcohol consumption is permitted legally only in a few clubs, bars, hotels and the Pearl island. However, the country has allowed specific fan zones for the consumption of alcohol

None of the Middle East countries including Qatar recognise Israel. However, if Israel qualifies for the FIFA World Cup, they would be allowed to play in Qatar.

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. Since FIFA does not want any discrimination, they have asked Qatar to relax its anti-gay legislation.

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Last chance to live on Mars

The mission was proposed in May 2012. Today is the last day to apply online for the Mars One Project. So far more than 165,000 applications from over 140 countries to participate in the TV reality show.

The Dutch-based non-profit organisation is giving a chance to 40 aspiring astronauts to experience life on the red plant by offering them a one-way ticket in 2023. There is a small application fee depending on the country of residence. This fee is used to cover costs of this project.

Where are the applicants from?

USA is at the top of the list of countries where 23 % of most applicants are from. This is followed by China, Brazil, India, Russia, UK, Mexico, Canada, Spain and the Philippines.

Bas Lansdorp, CEO and co-founder of Mars One said: “The cultural diversity of Mars One applicants reflects the international nature of this project and ultimately makes it humanity’s mission to Mars.”

The application criteria

There is a stringent selection process in place to ensure minimum risk to the lives of the astronauts.

All applicants must be over the age of 18 and must be free from any disease and dependency on alcohol, drugs and tobacco. They should have general fitness and 100% or 20/20 eyesight corrected or uncorrected. The applicant’s blood pressure must not exceed 140/90 and their height should be between 157 and 190 cm.

The selection procedure

There are four rounds. The initial application contains general information about the applicant, a CV, a motivational letter and a one-minute video explaining why they should be selected to be the first inhabitants on Mars.

The second round will be the submission of a medical fitness certificate and an interview.

The third round will be broadcasted on the TV and the internet. The audience will select the winner per region. They will be given challenges to demonstrate their suitability.

In round four, the participants will have to demonstrate their ability to live in harsh conditions and work under difficult circumstances. The applicants will be tested on the basis of their characteristics of resilience, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust and creativity or resourcefulness.

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The Olympic Experience of a Lifetime

The UK had been preparing to host the Olympics after it won the bid on 6th July, 2005.

Seven years later, the city had been spruced up to handle visitors from all over the world. People of different nationalities came to one place to support their team and to have a good time.

At the right place at the right time

I was working for the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) that is the official broadcaster of the Olympic Games. I applied for this job in February 2011 to work in July 2012. The competition was tough. My job description was to deliver the Olympics information to the rest of the world on a strict deadline.

This was indeed a privilege to be a part of the largest sporting event in the world in the centre of all the action. My venue was the North Greenwich Arena also known as the O2 Arena. The sports assigned to me were Artistic Gymnastics and Basketball Finals. Working behind the scenes, the atmosphere was exhilarating.

The Victory Ceremonies was my favourite part of the Olympics. The medal winners are presented with the medal and bouquet of flowers while the song “Chariots of fire” is being played in the background. Once the medals are presented, the national flags of the three countries are hoisted and the national anthem of the country winning the gold medal is played. The nationalism displayed was incredible

The benefits

My media accreditation gave me access to most venues. London is a very expensive city and travel costs are very high. My special Olympics Oyster card allowed me to free travel across London.

Working with the OBS gave me the opportunity to work and interact with broadcasters from all over the world. Each day was different. Everyday hundreds of journalists would walk through our Broadcast Information Office (BIO) doors asking for information on matches, player statistics, results, filming the game, press conferences and interviewing athletes. I was truly in a multicultural environment

As an employee of the official broadcaster, I was at the centre of all the activity, in the broadcast tribunes, mixed zone and the media centre. I got a very good view of the field of play. I was spotted on television channels in different parts of the world.

I knew nothing about both the games that were assigned to me but within no time, I became an expert in the field.

The Challenges

There were just too many people in London during the Olympics. The tube lines were packed. I had to go through airport like security check on every single day that I worked.

Journalists can be very bothersome and abusive. Working for the official broadcaster meant getting abused in different languages and putting the pesky journalists in their place whenever needed. But at the end of the day, we understand that they are doing their job, as they are answerable to their channels.

The memorabilia

I got to keep two sets of my uniform consisting of beige trousers, green polo t-shirt, green cap, blue jacket, blue backpack and a blue trolley bag.

Every participating country and most media companies have their own pins and badges that they give away. These are prices possessions among the volunteers and employees. It was almost like a competition of who could get the maximum number of pins and badges. These badges can be exchanged. I managed to collect about 20 of them.

After the Olympics

The 17 days that I worked for the Olympics has been the most memorable experience of my life and has been my best job so far. This is one event in my life that I will never forget. I met fantastic people. I made friends for life. I am so grateful for this opportunity and I hope to be a part of future Olympic Games.

I made the game and the game made me.

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Is Osama Bin Laden really dead?

Osama Bin Laden was on the FBI’s list of 10 Most Wanted Fugitives and Most Wanted Terrorists.

The US had been attempting to capture Bin Laden since his involvement in the US embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.

Furthermore, he has been involved in other militant activities like the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia through his connections with the Al-Qaeda of which he is the leader.

Attempted capture

Capturing Bin Laden has been on the US agenda since over a decade. Since the mastermind of the attacks went into hiding, the US government appealed to the Taliban government of the Afghanistan for trial or for extradition. US Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama have all launched search operations to apprehend Bin Laden and bring him to the USA for trial.

Bin Laden was allegedly sighted several times during the last decade in areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tora Bora was a suspected hideout of Bin Laden.

Is he really dead?

There have been reports over the years that Bin Laden has been found dead due to natural causes or has been killed. They were however, mere rumours.

On May 1 2011, US President Barack Obama announced that the US conducted a search operation that killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan.

However, DNA samples were used to match the person believed to be Osama Bin Laden. The burial at sea less than a day after he death raises further doubts about the credibility of the official announcement made by Barack Obama. Where are the pictures? Where is the evidence that the person who was killed was indeed Osama Bin Laden? How do we ensure that any pictures released in the near future are not “Photoshopped”?

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Why Should You Vote?

  • Casting a vote allows an individual to express a choice among candidates who wish to become government leaders.
  • Failing to register a vote is tantamount to saying you don’t care.
  • If you don’t vote, you are missing out on a great national privilege and a significant personal freedom
  • Voting provides a medium for citizens to support the democratic structure. If a majority of citizens choose not to vote, democracy might become a thing of the past and will be replaced by another form of government that might prove more elitist in nature.
  • Registering to vote means that you believe in the democratic process and will participate in it to represent your right to freedom of speech.
  • Showing that you care with your vote tells candidates that they must be accountable to the public.
  • Showing up at the polling booth on voting day sets a good example to others. Remember, your children observe all that you do and will learn from your example, right or wrong as it may be. Civic awareness is an important part of their training and one of the early steps on the road to maturity. Voting also sets a positive example to neighbours, friends, and family who may be uninterested in or unfamiliar with the electoral system.

If you don’t vote you really have no right to complain about government decisions you don’t like.

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The Plight of Refugees

Every year 20 June is celebrated as World Refugee Day in order to highlight the plight of all the refugees in the world. In order to commemorate this day, I am dedicating this week’s post to the cause of refugees.

According to Euripides, “There is no greater sorrow on earth than the loss of one’s native land”. This is often the case of a refugee. A refugee’ is defined as “a person who has fled his country owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable or, owing to fear, is unwilling to avail himself the protection of that country.” This definition is according to Article 7 of the 1951 Convention and Protocol relating to the status of refugees. However, India being home to about 3,30,000 refugees, considers them as “aliens”. India, despite completing 60 glorious years of Independence, does not have any special laws for the protection of these refugees. India deals with refugees under the Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939 and Foreigners Act, 1946 which is applicable to aliens.

However, the Government of India is empowered to regulate the entry, presence and departure of these aliens. In India, wage earning rights and work permits have no meaning for refugees. Hence, they have no way of supporting themselves and thus remain in poverty. When they just enter India, they are taken to a transit camp. There the necessities are not easily available. Over a period of time, they muster courage to move freely within the country and hence they do not have to live in transit camps.

People flee from their mother countries due to civil conflicts, massive violations of human rights, foreign aggression and occupation, poverty, famine, disease and natural calamities. Reasons such as famine, disease and natural calamities are just passing phases. After this, they return to their own countries whereas the other reasons are long standing anxieties that may or may not be solved.

The Sikhs and Hindus migrated from Pakistan to India and the Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan during the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. India and Pakistan readily accepted and rehabilitated these migrants. People of Indian origin were forced to leave Burma (now Myanmar) under the programme of Burmanization. During Bhutanization, the people of Nepali origin were pushed to India and Nepal. Sri Lanka upon becoming independent sent the Tamil plantation workers who were taken to the island by the British back to India. Bihari Muslims were sent to India during the liberation war of Bangladesh though they wanted to enter Pakistan. India continues to host and assist refugee population from different countries especially Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Tibet. Thus, India is diverse of refugee population.

Refugees undergo many trials and tribulations. There is arbitrary arrest of newly arrived young men on suspicion of rebel connection. Sometimes, they are even deported for security reasons. The host country does not welcome them willingly and hence they do not develop a sense of belonging towards the host country. When the refugees flee and seek asylum into another country, they come empty handed leaving behind their belongings. They have to start their life in the host country right from scratch. They are not granted refugee status or given citizenship easily as they are considered liabilities to the country. They are often targeted and accused in case of thefts or terrorist attacks. They are subjected to assaults, both physical and mental. Since they come empty handed, they do not have documentary evidence of their educational qualifications, income, proof of residence and so on. Sometimes even if they have documentary evidence, it is seized upon arrival in the host country. They are often denied accommodation, health facilities, education, protection and the like. Sometimes, they are separated from their families. Though they want to go back to their country, they have no option but to stay at the host country hoping that their own country will become safe one day. Sometimes, the country builds high walls to shut out refugees and asylum seekers. This insensitive gesture is not justified. The Sri Lankan refugees in India face problems of a different genre. They are firstly labeled as terrorists as people consider them as members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ellam (LTTE). A large number of them happen to be Dalits. They are forced to flee because of their caste, only because they are Dalits. They face the problem of apartheid.

Any person seeking refugee status has to approach the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). In spite of not being a member of the 145 – nation signed 1951 Geneva Convention, India has allowed the UNHCR to function in India through its offices in Delhi and Chennai. Many refugees have spent years waiting for resettlement but end up becoming a burden to the government. They are pleading with the Indian Government to grant them protection and refugee status.

The lack of legal provisions and policies on refugees is one of fundamental flaws of protection in India. At the same time, India cannot be blamed for this because many people take advantage of the hospitable nature of the Indian Government. They flee for better prospects and to enhance their quality of life. This is not forced migration but migration out of choice. Thus, the Government is very careful in granting refugee status.

I feel that safeguarding the refugees is the responsibility of the international community. It is high time India becomes a part of the UNHCR Convention of 1951. India should also consider amending its Foreigners Act, 1946 and differentiate between a “refugee” and a “foreigner”. We should realize that refugees are not born refugees; they are made refugees. Hence, we should not ostracize them. This will be possible only through awareness in refugee issues that will sensitize the people to give the refugees a hassle – free stay in India.

 

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