Archive | February 2021

” Trump is Not Finished in American Politics Yet ” – February 23, 2021.

Former US President, Donald Trump’s second Impeachment trial ; his acquittal ; and to an extent the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack – once the biggest draws have their curtains fading from light now.

An important aspect that has not been in many discussions or print drawn as example/precedent pertains to the 1785 case of Warren Hastings ( who served as the Governor General of India ) whose removal from office was proposed in the British House of Commons after his retirement. The trial was based on accusations of amassing wealth disproportionate to the sources of his income during service ; charges of extortion ; and his orders to shoot the Maharaja Nandakumar who staunchly opposed his style of Leadership. Following the debate and discussions during the trial, the resolution to remove him from office was defeated. Significantly, Jamie Raskin, Democratic Lead Manager of Trump Impeachment trial in the US Senate, quoted this as a previous example to justify the proceedings. In the final verdict, Trump has been acquitted.

US Capitol attack of January 6, 2021, cannot be erased from human memory just as injustice cannot be erased from the world. Even before the Senate trial it was well known to everyone that it was faced with the prospect of a certain defeat. But, it perhaps helped highlight : (a) the fact that the attack had the tacit support of Donald Trump and will be registered in future history of America , and (b) to erase the stigma and taint attached to the incident from the eyes of the world.

Citing this trial of Warren Hastings, Jamie Raskin emphasized that, ” even when a person is not holding his office, it will not be wrong to make formal legislative inquiries through the accepted process and to make the required resolution against the person.”

Removing persons holding high offices in America is not a simple matter. To hold a Senate trial a vote of acceptance is required. Donald Trump’s trial happened after a formal acceptance.

Results of the General Election in America will be known in November itself. The new President-elect will however formally take charge only on January 20. During the intervening period, the losing President will hold his office in the White House with full legitimate power. The acts of the President during this period hold significant value and impact for the successor. A defeated President should not be granted any liberty to do what he pleases , specially during this period on account of ” January Exception/Proscription” is the rubric here. Donald Trump is the first President in American history to be impeached twice in his term of Four years. This Impeachment trial also holds the distinction of the shortest in the course of trial days in history. President, Donald Trump, got acquitted with the votes favouring him at 57 – 43.

If there remains one special meaning to this Impeachment trial, it is that Donald Trump had not lost his rights to contest the 2024 General Election again. He cannot, however , be completely solaced by this memory with a host of criminal investigations still hanging in the balance even as he hangs tough.

According to the 14th Amendment, section 3, of the American Constitution – any individual inciting insurrection can be removed from office and if he is a common citizen criminal investigations can be proceeded against him/her.

Even amidst all the demanding circumstances one cannot take the shine off the reality that “Trumpism” and the support of nearly 75 million voters will exist in America for years, if not for decades.

” Dieu avec nous “

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 – 6.19 a.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” If Abe Lincoln came back to life, he would lose New York and he would lose California too ” – Donald Trump.

” Perseverance Rover and Mars Exploration – Not Easy but Worth it ” – February 22, 2021.

This is a glorious period for Indians in America holding their flags flying high after committing to nail their colours to the mast.

If Kamala Harris swung into the saddle of VP on January 20, 2021 ; if more than 20 Indians have been nominated by President, Joseph Biden, to key positions in US Administration ; – now it is Bangalore born, Dr Swati Mohan who with her parents migrated to America, adding another feather to our cap of pride in making an impactful contribution to the “Perseverance” Rover launched by NASA in their aim to explore and inhabit the Second Planet , “Mars” on Friday, February 18, 2021.

Having raised the heartbeats of millions for more than 7 minutes when the Perseverance Rover’s six wheels finally and successfully landed on the Red Planet, a new hope was kindled 47.2 crore kilometres away on Earth for the humankind.

Research Scientist ( Aerospace engineer and Guidance control Operations Lead on the NASA Mars Mission 2020 ) Dr Swati Mohan proudly made the announcement of the landing at 2.25 a.m. on Friday.

Launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on July 30, 2020, it took 203 days to cover the 300 million miles from Earth. The weight of the Rover was 1025 kilograms. Its length was 3.048 meters and height 2.13 meters. The expenditure incurred was 207 crore dollars. This is the largest and technologically most superior spacecraft launched in history so far.

It is also the first Rover in nearly thirty years to use domestically produced plutonium created by national laboratories in U.S.A. The cost of the mission is equal to the amount of money Google makes in 6 days ; or the amount of money Americans spend on pets every 10 days ; or equivalent to 33 hours of running the US Department of Defense.

One Mars year is equal to 2 Earth years. The chief aim of this mission is to characterise planet’s geology, and past climate and to be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Explore the possibility of life or otherwise to be precise.

The 45 sq km Jezero Crater where it has landed, the site of an ancient river Delta ( previous orbital missions have pointed to the wet conditions ) has harboured life billions of years ago ; whether microbial life existed or not ; whether the temperature patterns are life preserving ; collecting samples of rocks ; testing new technology that can benefit future robotic and human missions to the planet – are some of the objectives constituting this mission.

Research pertaining to the atmospheric gases is the top priority now. Past research has evidenced the existence of nearly 90% carbon dioxide in Mars atmosphere. Plants, shrubs, and trees on earth take CO2 and release O2 during the day while they take O2 and release CO2 during night on Earth. This type of exchange is not found in Mars. Hence, the scientists have carried an instrument called ‘MOXIE’ to Mars this time to test the production of O2 from CO2 in Mars. This is the most significant aspect of this launch that will ascertain the possibility of human inhabitation in future.

Mars exploration is not new ; starting as early as in 1960s several attempts have been made in the last 60 years or so. Viking 1 and Viking 2 in 1975 were the successful early launches by America. About 16000 photographs were collected during that time. “Pathfinder” in 1996 ; “Spirit” and “Opportunity” in 2004 ; “Phoenix” Mars Lander in 2008 ; “Curiosity” in 2012 and “InSight” Lander in 2018 are the other launches from America. Each of these has served to bring new insights to the process of Mars Exploration.

India launched its ” Mangalyaan” in 2013 first ; UAE’s Al Amal ( “Hope” – 2021 ) is the Arab World’s first such mission that landed on February 9, 2021 ; and China’s “Tianwen 1” landed on February 10, 2021 is its first now orbiting the red planet ; China’s “Tianwen 2” will be landing in May. India’s “Mangalyaan 2” is getting ready to be launched. (exact date is not known, however).

Whether Mars holds water for human habitation ; whether Mars has a congenial atmosphere with enough O2 for human inhabitation ; and whether Mars has congenial temperature for the safe existence of human beings are some of the ongoing researches on this aspect.

The secret of evolution of life in other planets is the primary quest that drives the human interest to explore Mars now. It is the vista of the greatest opportunity that our children, grandchildren, and/or great grand children can hope for with joy, dream, and ecstasy of reaping the benefits in their lifetime.

” Dieu avec nous “

Monday, February 22, 2021 – 10.29 a.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit ” – Stephen Hawking.

” Is China Advancing its Steps in India-Sri Lanka Relationship ? ” – February 18, 2021.

India-Sri Lanka relationship is a well established relationship. Tamils and Tamil nadu politics are the two pillars governing this relationship. Elections to Tamil Nadu assembly are to be held soon.

China’s recent emergence as a force determining India-Sri Lanka relationship in this context has to be noted. How this will shape and which direction it will take under the circumstances remains a mystifying puzzle.

China has been offering financial support to Sri Lanka extensively. Most sea ports of Sri Lanka are upgraded with the help of either a Chinese Organisation fully or jointly.

The previous political leadership of Sri Lanka had set an agreement to upgrade the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Seaport jointly with India and Japan. But the present Government (2019) under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has decided to pull out of that agreement independently without any consultations with either India or Japan.

In addition, it has recently given the responsibility of establishing electric facilities in Yazhppanam islands to China. That the islands are located just 50 km from Tamil nadu, Rameswaram, is significant. China executes this work jointly with Ceylon Electricity Board. Sri Lanka approved Sinosoar-Etechwin JV in China to install hybrid renewable energy systems in the following islands – Nainativu, Delft or Neduntivu, and Analaitivu. All these are connected to the Jaffna Peninsula by ferry service managed by Sri Lankan Navy.

Many in Tamil Nadu are concerned and cautioned against the safety of Indians. Many in India have also condemned this development. India has also registered its strong concern over the ₹ 87 crores project to be executed with China.

Austin Fernando, Sri Lankan former High Commissioner to India has voiced his support for Sri Lanka that this project backed by Asian Development Bank had the due procurement process including invitations for contracts from International Organisations fairly and genuinely. He also cited the participation of an Indian Organisation in this process (without citing its name) that could not succeed.

In the 1980s America attempted to establish a Tower in Trincomalee (city in Sri Lanka) which was strongly resisted by India. Sri Lanka was subjected to the stress and pressures of India that proved fruitful. But, India is not in a position to adopt a similar stance today.

The islands where the electric facilities are to be established are not in close proximity to the land of Sri Lanka. Uptil now, the islands used only diesel generators for their needs of electricity. Of these islands, Eluvaitivu is the smallest and Neduntivu is the largest. Neduntivu is also the island where Sri Lankan Naval Base is organised. It was also at the peak of LTTE agitation that Sri Lanka faced them from this island.

Indian External Affairs Minister, Sri Jayashankar, has clearly expressed the firm resolve to strengthen the India Sri Lankan relationship. He has also reiterated emphatically the two key aspects of : (a) Justice to the Tamils ; and (b) establishing their rights through implementation of 13th Amendment by the Sri Lankan Government. However, Sri Lanka’s efforts do not create any faith in true observance of these conditions.

However, within a month of his visit Sri Lanka offered India’s participation in the upgradation of the Western Container Terminal of Colombo Seaport even while pulling out of the Eastern Container Terminal.

Rajapaksa brothers have always held the belief grudging India’s responsibility in the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa earlier. Hence their staunch opposition to involve India in the matter of Sri Lankan Tamils. This is also a reason why the clout of China is raising in Sri Lanka.

Lankan citizens seem to believe that India should not try to put their oars in the internal matters of Sri Lanka. That China is slowly becoming a force to reckon with in determining India-Sri Lanka relationship is seen clearly here. It presents a challenge to India.

” Dieu avec nous “

Thursday, February 18, 2021 – 3.17 p.m. (IST)

Tidbit : ” India and Sri Lanka are both neighbours and Republics within the Commonwealth of Nations “.