Global Food Crisis 2022

For the past 2-3 months, the world is seeing a global food crisis like never before. Sri Lanka is by far the worst country to be affected by the global food crisis. Afghanistan and Myanmar are also driven by their extremist leaders towards self-isolation, leading the majority of the population towards below poverty-line. Ukraine is devastated by war with Russia, and hence both countries are seeing lowering of crop production, rise in hunger, and sharp decline in economy.

But many developed countries in the world are seeing food shortages like never before. Sanctions by the European and American countries against Russia, has hit them hard, as they are currently without primary Russian exports of wheat, cotton, edible oil, and mineral oil. Previously, all of the European countries were partially or entirely dependent on Russian supplies to feed the population. Now, with the sanctions, countries like the UK, France, Germany, US and even neutral Switzerland are facing some food crisis.

Not only food, but also production of fertilizers, pesticides, processing machines, and logistics, have dwindled since the Covid-19 pandemic, and has not fully recovered yet in most countries. As the excess stock has been exhausted, we are seeing food shortages across the globe. India, being so huge in size, is not much affected by the global food crisis, as loss in one region is compensated by excess in another region. However, keeping in mind the future food shortages, which may hit the country, India has banned the export of wheat to most countries. Other countries have followed suit, notable among them is Indonesia, banning export of palm oil and China, banning export of fertilizers. India is also looking forward to severely restricting the export of sugar, so that domestic prices are kept within the limits of the common people.

Experts say that this global food crisis was expected at the turn of the decade, when the Covid-19 pandemic started. However, the shortage is not equal throughout the world, and some countries are facing worse economic conditions than others. Some countries are getting help from neighbours and other countries like Ukraine and Sri Lanka, while others like Myanmar and Afghanistan have opted to ruin their own people. Only if the whole of humanity works together and fights the crisis we are facing today, we will get out of this global food crisis without much damage to our economy and our brothers and sisters.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Cyclists Number Growing in the Country after Pandemic

The latest research has shown that West Bengal holds the highest percentage of households having a bicycle among all Indian states and Union Territories. 78.9% of households in the state have a bicycle. With the abundant availability of local transports, like e-rickshaws, good network of local trains, trams, and electric buses, West Bengal is showing the way for a green as well as effective mode of transportation.

The national average percentage of households having a bicycle is quite less at only 50.4%. The presence of hilly terrain is a hindrance to cycling. Hence, some states like Nagaland (5.5%) and Sikkim (5.9%) have fallen behind, being the states with lowest and second lowest percentage of households having a bicycle. However, others like Gujarat and Delhi have recorded poor percentages of only 29.9% and 27.2% respectively.

Presence of bicycles is still a hindrance in Kolkata, where many busy streets have a cycle ban on them. However, the Newtown and Salt Lake areas in Kolkata fared well with bicycle tracks and regular riders where young riders are mostly found. The rural Bengal is however, the greatest contributor, where a recent Sabuj Saathi scheme was floated by the State Government. According to the scheme, bicycles are given to students of class 9 to 12 for easier commuting to school. According to a senior Government official, this is responsible for West Bengal achieving the top spot in percentage of households having a bicycle.

With the increase in fuel prices, bicycles have the potential to replace existing motor bikes and cars in some places at least. Also, as the resources are getting depleted, we right now need alternative sources of energy which will sustain our needs as well as not get depleted anytime soon. Bicycling is currently the best solution among the youth for a healthy lifestyle as well, and is fast becoming a way to stay fit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Currently, more than half of Indian households have a bicycle. The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered the use of bicycles as the public transport was little available. The Covid-19 pandemic also made sure to be self-dependent on transportation, health maintenance and other factors. The number is expected to grow bigger in the coming days, as we modernize the bicycle, use it for general purposes everywhere, and become more conscious about our health and environment. However, it also depends on how the new generation spreads awareness about cycling.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Full Crowd at IPL Playoffs

After the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot has changed regarding the interaction between people and the allowance of crowds. After initial lockdown days, as the world reopened after the pandemic, the games, like cricket, football, rugby and even Olympics were held remotely without any spectators. However, as the pandemic subsided, bit by bit, the crowds were allowed in, first only 25%, and then gradually increasing it to 100% in some countries. India hosted a number of cricket matches both without spectators and with 50% or less capacity of spectators. As Covid-19 is largely becoming almost extinct in India, IPL playoffs have been allowed with full crowd.

IPL 2022 started remotely on 26th March, with no spectators and only broadcasts. But gradually, from 6th April onwards, Maharashtra Cricket Association allowed 50% of the crowd in IPL matches. This boosted up the revenue of IPL 2022, which is by far the highest revenue earning league in the world. Revenue was running quite low when the tournament started, but even allowing 50% of the crowd was enough to meet the expenditure of IPL matches, and also gain profit at the same time.

Now, as the Covid-19 is by far absent almost throughout India, the BCCI is looking for options of allowing 100% crowd for more spectators. The playoffs are expected to be held with 100% crowd in Kolkata and Ahmedabad. The news has spread like wildfire, drawing craze among the cricket fans, causing the tickets to be booked at record speed.

The Qualifier 1 and the Eliminator will be held in Kolkata, on 24th and 25th May respectively. The Qualifier 2 and the Final will be played in Ahmedabad on 27th May and 29th May respectively. This year, 10 teams are fighting out for 4 spots in the playoffs, creating more challenges. The addition of Lucknow and Gujarat this year has gone well with the crowd. Currently no team has qualified yet, with only Mumbai Indians are out of question for the playoffs, and the rest 9 teams are in the hunt. Are you all ready to find out the new champions of IPL?

Written by – Himadri Paul

Why even 37℃ is too hot in Kolkata?

Heatwave is classified in India, when a region experiences maximum temperature greater than 40℃ for plains and departure of maximum temperature greater than 4.5℃ from normal. Going by the definition, Kolkata did not experience a single day of heatwave yet in this April, though north Kolkata did experience heatwave days in the beginning of this week.

Though the maximum temperature was not that much to be called a heatwave, the real feel temperature was very high, too high to be tolerated for people of Kolkata. For example, when the temperature of Kolkata hovered around 39℃, the real feel temperature rose beyond 50℃. The humidity is the main culprit here. Water vapour content in the air remained high, which caused excessive sweating, and thus we felt unusually hot this summer. This makes 37 degrees in Kolkata, which is only 2 degrees above normal far hotter to feel than that of Asansol, Bankura, or even deserts of Rajasthan.

Also, there hasn’t been a single drop of rain in Kolkata in March and April, the last rain being insignificant on 28th February. Such rainless conditions are unusual for Kolkata, as the city usually experiences nor’westers, a wind originating from the western parts of the state, bringing in thunderstorms and rain, and temporarily cooling down the temperature. The city hasn’t experienced a single day of thunderstorm, as though the moisture content in air is high, conditions are not conducive for rainfall here. The conditions are favourable in north Bengal, which is experiencing continuous rain during the last 2 months.

The western districts of the state of West Bengal are already experiencing heat waves throughout this entire week. Bankura, Burdwan, Asansol are regularly experiencing 42-44℃ since the Poila Baishakh, the Bengali New Year. However, there is a news of respite for these states from the 1st week of May, when heat-triggered thunderstorms are predicted throughout Bengal. Kolkata too may get some share of rainfall at the same time. Kolkata has already broken the 43-day record of the longest continuous spell of dry days in this millennia. Currently, 60 days have passed without a drop of rain. Hopefully, May may bring some rain, and turn the fortunes of Kolkata.

Amidst all these, the State Government has announced early summer vacation for schools and colleges. Post-pandemic, the school’s reopened at the beginning or mid of April. Many teachers, parents, institutions are unhappy with the decision as the schools have closed as soon as they began offline classes. However, Covid-19 situation, despite being under control, is increasing in some states. Hence, considering both the pandemic and heatwave factors, the State Government has justified the closure of schools for the summer vacation.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Sri Lanka’s Worst Economic Crisis

Sri Lanka, being a not-so-small island nation, has to depend on imports from various other countries for various essential commodities. But despite heavy imports, and some occasional instances of financial crisis, Sri Lanka managed to hold out its economy amid civil wars, natural disasters, and Government collapse. However, without a signal, the country has now plunged into a severe economic crisis, the worst till date, bringing the country’s economy on the verge of collapse.

Sri Lanka, the land of cinnamon and tea, is known for the export of tea and spices, and is also a major hub of tourism in Asia. The geography of Sri Lanka promotes fertile, flat lands towards the north, hilly interior, supports a great fishing industry, and has major ports between the west and the east. Nevertheless, Sri Lanka lacked big industrial regions like other developed nations, and that is why foreign debt is always a mounting pressure in the Sri Lankan economy. It’s 100% dependence on fuel oil from other countries has marked a severe fuel shortage in the country.

Covid-19 has a major role to play in crippling the Sri Lankan economy. Though the island never experienced huge surges of Covid-19 victims, its mainstay, the tourism industry suffered a huge setback, when the whole world went into lockdown. Though many African and South American countries opened up their doors to foreigners as the pandemic subsided, Sri Lanka remained virtually cut off from the tourism sector till date. Repeated lockdowns in the country, followed by economic crisis put both foreign and domestic tourists out of reach of famous tourist destinations in Sri Lanka.

Adding fuel to the fire were some Government policies that were taken hastily with little planning for the future. Some of them, like reduced taxation, and organic farming backfired as they were implemented overnight, without any backup plans. While the measures were really good, sudden change in taxation drained the Government Treasury, and replacing conventional farming with organic farming resulted in less productivity of crops. Sri Lanka’s reliance on China on port building has also backfired as its Hambantota port has been a commercial failure, prompting Chinese companies to take up the port business.

Till date, India has given almost 2 billion financial aid to Sri Lanka. India has donated essential items like rice and fuel to Sri Lanka so that common people may get themselves out of the crisis. More countries, including China, have come forward, and helped Sri Lanka regain their lost ground. However, the future of Sri Lanka is not looking bright with the whole Parliamentary cabinet except the President and the Prime Minister resigned.

Written by – Himadri Paul