What is the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act in India?

The new traffic rules under the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act 2019, came into force in many states on September 1. Under the Act, heavy fines are imposed for offences such as over-spreading, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without states are not happy with the hefty fines and have opted to reduce the quantum of fines as suggested. What is the scope of the penalties imposed under it? Let’s find out in this week’s Five Ws & One H....

The Motor Vehicles Act is an Act of Parliament which regulates all aspects of road transport vehicles. The Motor vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which sought to make changes to the 1988 Act, was passed in the Rajya Sabha in July and in the Lok Sabha in Aught. The new traffic rules with sticker penalties, under the 2019 Act, came into effect on September 1.

How have the penalties been increased under the recently amended Act?

  • The penalties for breaking traffic rules have gone up multi-fold. For driving without a license, the new fine is ?5000, which is 10 times the earlier fine of ?500.
  • The maximum penalty for driving under the influence of alcohol has been increased from ?2000 to ?10000.
  • For speeding or racing, the fine has been increased from ?500 to ?5000.
  • Not wearing a seatbelt while driving would attract a fine of ? 1000 as against the earlier fine of ?100.
  • If a vehicle manufacturer fails to comply with motor vehicle standards, the penalty will be a fine of up to ?1Lakh.
  • The Central government may increase the fines by 10% every year.

Why are the other provisions as per the new Act?

  • The new Act has extended the period for renewal of driving licenses from one moth to one year after the date of expiry.
  • The Act also promises to protect those who render emergency medical or non-medical assistance to a victim of an accident, from any civil or criminal liability.
  • The minimum compensation for death or grievous injury in hit-and-run cases has been increased from ?25000 to ?2- Lakh in case of death, and from ?12500 to ?50000 in case of grievous injury.
  • The central government will develop a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims during the ‘golden hour’ – the time period of up to one hour following a traumatic injury, during which the likelihood of preventing death through prompt medical care is the highest.
  • The Act requires the Central government to constitute a Motor Vehicle Accident fund, to provide compulsory insurance cover to all road users in the country.

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What is aircraft de-icing?


Part of deaning an airplane is the dearing loose chunks of frozen vapour off its surface to ensure safety during flights. In cold regions, aircraft face the risk of ice-formation taking place on their surface. Ice causes the aircraft's surface to become rough and uneven. This disrupts the smooth air flow and increases the drag. If large pieces of ice break up into loose chunks during flight, these can get into the engines or hit the propellers and cause them to malfunction and spell disaster.

A thorough thaw

De-icing, which ensures that an aircraft can fly safely in such conditions, involves simply the removal of existing ice or snow from a surface. De-icers are usually chemicals that dissolve the ice. Sometimes, infrared rays are also used for de-icing.

Aircraft de-icing is done on the ground before take-off. The plane's surface is sprayed with the de icing fluid so that the engine inlets, wings and various other sensors are free of condensed precipitation. After this the aircraft is generally sprayed with anti-icers to prevent the water on the surface from refreezing.

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What is a Blue dragon?

Also known as blue sea slugs, blue angels, and sea swallows, the blue dragons, or Glaucus atlanticus, are part of a group of creatures known as nudibranchs or sea slugs.
A few weeks ago, a beautiful blue creature was spotted in large numbers on the coast of the Indian city of Chennai. This occurred after the floods following the cyclone Michaung that hit the city. This poisonous deep sea creature called blue dragon attracted much attention among the public who were warned not to touch them. Now what is the blue dragon?

They are seen to drift away in the temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. But what helps the blue dragons stay afloat? It is an air bubble stored in their stomach that helps the sea creature in this.

While these creatures are tiny, growing to just about 1.2 inches long, they consume creatures that are many times their size, such as the Portuguese man o' war. When threatened, the blue dragons will sting. Their sting is venomous because of their diet which includes  venomous creatures such as the Portuguese man o' war. They store the stinging nematocysts from the creatures they feed on and release these stinging cells when threatened. Even after they die, their venom remains active.

The creature is known for its camouflage capabilities. When floating, the blue underbellies against the ocean's blue colour camouflage them from predators above water. Meanwhile, the dull-coloured backside blends in with the bright surface of the water. This gives them protection from predators below. Blue dragons are hermaphrodites, that is, they have both male and female reproductive organs.

In many locations worldwide, blue dragons are being spotted for the first time and experts attribute reasons such as the warming ocean, increased storm activity, changes in Portuguese man o' war populations, and so on.

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Why aren't the letters on the keyboard in alphabetical order?

Unravel the curious tale behind the QWERTY keyboard! Explore its origins and discover why the jumble of letters isn't as random as it seems in this captivating journey through typewriter history.
Have you ever wondered why the jumble of letters on your keyboard doesn't follow a neat alphabetical sequence? The journey of our familiar QWERTY keyboard layout harks back to the pioneering days of typewriters.

Picture this

It's the late 1800s, and the ingenious American inventor Christopher Latham Sholes, along with his partners Carlos Glidden and Samuel W. Soule, set out to perfect the typewriter. The initial models faced a thorny issue-jamming. Typists, zipping through the keys, caused these clunky contraptions to tangle up their type-bars in a jiffy.

A stroke of genius

To ease this chaos, Sholes concocted a brilliant solution: a layout that deliberately slowed typists down. The QWERTY arrangement scattered commonly used letters across the keyboard, cleverly separating frequently paired letters to reduce jamming.

By shuffling the position of commonly tapped keys, this arrangement aimed to prevent the collisions of type-bars and offered a smoother typing experience, albeit at a slower pace. His design became known as the QWERTY layout, derived from the sequence of letters in the top left corner of the keyboard.


Fast forward through time, and the QWERTY keyboard has seamlessly transitioned from typewriters to our sleek computer keyboards. Yet, debates still simmer over its efficiency and comfort. leading to the emergence of alternatives like Dvorak and Colemak layouts, meticulously crafted to enhance typing speed and hand comfort. Despite these advancements, the QWERTY layout remains the norm in most corners of the world due to its familiarity. It is a curious testament to the enduring legacy of design choices made over a century ago that continue to shape our digital interactions today.

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What's the story behind the Lazy Susan tables?

 As you and your friends are enjoying a good talk at a restaurant, they unintentionally interrupt by requesting to pass the salt. Seems like a distraction, right? The Chinese understood the assignment and designed a rotating, circular tray, usually made of wood, that was placed on a table so that people could have access to different foods with no break in the flow of the conversation. This table goes by its name, Lazy Susan.
 Did you know that the original purpose of those tables was not for eating? They were, actually, used to arrange Chinese characters at printing presses - for easy access. Lazy Susan's origins can be traced back to Wang Zhen, a Chinese official who helped pioneer moveable type, in the 700-year-old Book of Agriculture, which has the earliest known description of a Chinese revolving table.

Thousands of Chinese characters needed to be arranged in order during the printing process. So, Wang Zhen decided to create a moving table, thus saving trouble for the typesetter. Wu Lien-Teh, a Chinese physician, repurposed the revolving table a.k.a. Lazy Susan, as dinner tables.

For his work, he studied several pneumonia and tuberculosis outbreaks and had developed a critical eye toward Chinese hygiene norms, particularly about eating habits. One of his articles from 1915 described group Chinese lunches as a potential source of infection and suggested a "hygienic dining tray" as a cure. A medical historian at Taiwan's Academica Sinica recently rediscovered his invention, and Wu's 1915 description was close to the Lazy Susan table.

But the name Lazy Susan' had nothing to do with Chinese cuisine because in the early 1900s, to reduce household labor during meals, these rotating tables were utilized throughout Europe and America to replace the waiters. Some historians attribute the name "Lazy Susan" to Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison. According to The Los Angeles Times, the two Thomases named their invention after their lazy children; nevertheless, without a piece of reliable evidence, this story is often regarded as doubtful.

The Lazy Susan phenomenon began to gain popularity in the 1900s as a significant dining item in households and Chinese-American restaurants started to feature lazy Susans regularly. With a side order of hygienic dining etiquette for which the Lazy Susan was created, it went global for its easy-to-use facility during dinner. Lazy Susan is a groundbreaking creation with a mysterious name.

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What is the patent for the game Monopoly?

On December 31,1935, American game designer Charles Darrow received a patent for the now ubiquitous Monopoly board game. While Darrow has long been credited with the invention of one of the world's most popular board games, he was merely borrowing ideas from another American game designer Elizabeth Magie in reality.

Did you play board games during this vacation? While they are no longer as popular now in an uber-connected world as they used to be, board games continue to be one of the best means of offline entertainment. They not only get friends and families to sit across a table and have a jolly time, but also ensure that there is some takeaway, especially for the younger players.

Played by millions

Most board games are, in fact, designed with some element of learning along the way. If you think about the board games that you've played and liked, you might be able to realise what you took away from it as well.One of the most popular board games of all time is probably Monopoly. A game of competition, capitalism, and business strategy, Monopoly has been a bestseller for decades. Played by millions of people in over 100 countries across the world, it has been translated into many languages in order to produce localised editions.

The origin story

For many decades, the origin story of Monopoly was as popular as the game itself. This story talks about an American game designer Charles Darrow, who, being unemployed during the Great Depression, came up with the idea of Monopoly in the 1930s. He set about making a home-made version of this game and sold them for $4.

When he could no longer keep up with the demand in 1934, Darrow wrote to American toy and game manufacturers Parker Brothers, asking them to make it instead. While they initially shot it down, they bought the rights to the game in return for loyalties after hearing about the massive orders over the Christmas season. The jobless Darrow - who had received the patent for his Monopoly game on December 31, 1935 - ended up as a millionaire, giving the story a near-perfect ending.

Goes back even further

Even though most of what is mentioned in this story is true, it doesn't suffice, especially as an origin story. This is because the roots of the game don't just stop at Darrow and the 1930s, but in fact go back even further. It was a woman by the name Elizabeth Magie, more popularly known as Lizzie Magie, who laid down the basics of this beautiful game. Born in 1866, Magie was exposed to journalism at a young age thanks to her father, James Magie, being a newspaper publisher. The idea of the Monopoly game started taking shape after her father shared his copy of American political economist and journalist Henry George's best-selling book Progress and Poverty with her. James, an anti-monopolist, drew from the theories of George and was able to inspire his daughter.

The Landlord's Game

Magie worked as a stenographer in the early 1880s and pursued her literary ambitions in the evenings. She also spent a lot of time thinking about creating a game that would convey the ideas of George. Magie applied for a patent for her game-the Landlord's Game - in 1903 and received it on January 5, 1904.

Magie had designed her game as a kind of protest against the monopolists of her time. In fact, she had two sets of rules for the game. While one of them created an anti-monopolist set that rewarded everyone with the creation of wealth, the other was a monopolist set where the players were encouraged to crush each other and create monopolies. She created this binary approach as a teaching tool to enable players to realise that the anti-monopolist way was morally superior.

Uncovered by accident

And yet, it was the monopolist version that caught the imagination of the people, with a version of it surviving to this day. It was one such version that Darrow too had played while visiting a friend of his late in 1932. Darrow freely borrowed from Magie's core ideas and created his own version, which he went on to sell to the Parker Brothers.

Magie's role in the invention of Monopoly was uncovered by chance when Ralph Anspach, an economics professor, began a long legal battle against Parker Brothers in the 1970s. Until then, Magie's contributions were either lost to history, or maybe even intentionally omitted. Even now, nearly half a century later, Darrow's name is more often associated with Monopoly than Magie's.

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What is the history behind QR code?

"Can you please scan the code," is one of the most common phrases used during transactions in today's digital world. QR codes are ubiquitous these days-in cafes, bazaars, roadside fruit carts, and even at pani puri stalls. A whole range of consumer and businesses have adjusted to the digital world that has brought QR codes back, especially in the last few years with the advent of the cashless economy. However, have you ever wondered who designed the QR Code and for what purpose?

The invention of the QR Code

Similar to the evolution of several technologies, QR Codes originated from necessity. In 1994, a Japanese company called Denso Wave invented the QR code, which was used to label car parts. The idea was to replace the numerous bar-code labels that had to be scanned on each box of auto parts with a single label that contained all of the data from each label, making it easier to keep track of the different kinds and quantities of car parts. Following that, there was an increased interest in more product traceability across the world, particularly in food and pharmaceuticals.

The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) added the QR Codes to their list in the year 2000, giving it international certification. They rapidly understood the significance of the QR code and began using them in production, shipping and transactions. Later on, with the development of smartphones, there was no slowing in increasing the utilisation of the QR codes' popularity.

How QR Code is helping the world?

Undoubtedly, using QR Codes to access websites, networks, and payment details is the quickest method. To get started, all someone has to do is scan the code and do not need to enter any URL.

Among the numerous advantages of QR codes are their increased sustainability and the ability to update information without having to print brand-new materials. They are also utilized to communicate information on leaflets, packaging, and store displays in addition to serving as mobile menus and facilitating contactless payments. Without requiring prior knowledge or financial education to utilise them for payments, QR codes facilitate the digital shift and provide a positive user experience. The three steps of starting an app, scanning a QR code, and entering an e-PIN are easy and fast. A digital revolution is endlessly possible with QR codes' innovative and engaging way of bridging the real and virtual worlds.

Know how to create a QR Code

Interested in making your QR Code? Follow the steps given below:

1. Visit the QR Code generator on any browser

2. Insert your URL into the space provided

3. Customise your QR code if the generator provides the service

4. After customising and creating, download your QR Code

5. Use the QR Code for advertising, marketing and promotion

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What do Carnatic music and Jazz possibly have in common?

Carnatic music is among the world's most widely and deferentially revered forms of Classical music; Jazz rose from the depths of folksy angst with the rebellious explosiveness that only liberal music could express and emancipate. Yet, they have many core similarities. 

 Ragas and modes

Carnatic music is a predominantly raga-based form of music. The raga is the overarching mood or melodic dialect underpinning every composition or performative piece. Every piece is set in a specific raga, defined as a set or sequence of notes and constructed by a latticework of idiosyncratic melodic patterns orbiting a defined Key.

Jazz plays fast and loose with the tonality of its pieces. Its pieces are also woven around melodic scales or modes. While it is rife with Key changes, Modal interchanges, and modulation, Jazz distinctly recognises the essentiality of scalar modes, and plays around with them rather than stick to the sacred script. Borrowed chords are returned with interest.


Dorian Mode - Kharaharapriya (Herbie Hancock's 'Maiden Voyage'; Tyagaraja's 'Rama Nee Samanamevaru')

Natural Minor (Aeolian Mode) - Natabhairavi Dave Brubeck Quarter's Take Five';

Muthuswami Dikshitars 'Sreeneelotpalanayike')

Melodic Minor - Gowrimanohari (Joseph Kosma's 'Autumn Leaves'; Tyagaraja's 'Guruleka')

lonian mode Shankarabharanam (Muthuswami Dikshitars 'Sri Dakshinamurthe'; The Beatles' 'Let It Be')

 Melodic and rhythmic complexity polyrhythms and polymeters

Rhythm is a crucial aspect of both the art forms, and not just in a casual way aimed to make the audience tap their feet along. There are many mathematical and arithmetic calculations that go into the composition and performance. Polyrhythms and polymeters are used intensively to spice up the experience of playing and listening.

The use of polymeter, a technique where beat cycles of different number of pulses are played over the same tempo and changes in the meter are introduced in the middle of a song, more than just once, is not so common in Carnatic music except perhaps in the Ragam Tanam Pallavi, a format that explores plaintive melodic patterns, coupled with onomatopoeic syllables, and lyricism. Polyrhythms, wherein different beat cycles and time signatures are played or rendered over one another at different tempos to achieve interesting syncopations and syllabic emphasis, greet you at every concert and ensemble session.

Fundament of canon and comprehensive study of standard compositions

Both forms have a rich tapestry of standard songs and canonical compositions that are rendered faithfully and studied in depth. In fact, Carnatic music ragas are supposed to be abstract musical entities but modern-day musicians often derive them from their formulations in songs and the way in which great pastmasters have rendered them. Not all 72 Melakarta ragas have the same representation in song form. Jazz standards form the basic repertoire of any jazz musician. Popular tunes from the 19th and 20th Centuries, their treatment over time has vested them with the gamut of jazz techniques and influences from adjacent genres such as the Blues, Ragtime, Swing, West African Music, and showtunes written for Broadway musicals.

Improvisation with methodical patterns

Ad-libbing, riffing, coming up with chordal and harmonic shifts and melodic lines on the spot, spontaneously dovetailing into polymetric rhythm structures all these are as basic as they are challenging for a jazz performer. Tunes are overlaid with alternative groupings of notes and pulses to enhance intelligibility and intrigue. Manodharma, scatting Besides the copybook renditions, the Carnatic music kritis rendered in a concert are appended with pockets of improvisation - the vocalist, melodic accompanists, and percussionists each get to eke out variances and build on on the main tune, generate complex filigrees and ornamentations, independently creating permutations of notes and pulses, all the while gelling together to keep the composition's integrity intact.

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What's the point of giving gifts?

University of Colorado Denver's Chip Colwell - an anthropologist - explains this ancient part of being human

Giving gifts is a curious but central part of being human. While researching my new book, So Much Stuff, on how humanity has come to depend on tools and technology over the last 3 million years, I became fascinated by the purpose of giving things away. Why would people simply hand over something precious or valuable when they could use it themselves?

To me as an anthropologist, this is an especially powerful question because giving gifts likely has ancient roots. And gifts can be found in every known culture around the world.

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When food waste piles up, who are you gonna call?

Food is one of the biggest components of garbage produced by humans. Decomposing food emits methane, a gas that contributes hugely to global warming.

One might think that food thrown away by people can be fed to livestock. However, it is shunned by farmers, because it was found to cause infection in animals.

China has found a solution. Cockroach farms! Before you go "Ugh!" consider this: almost a billion cockroaches live in a plant run by Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Company in Jinan. They munch their way through 45 metric tons of food scraps in a day, waste that would otherwise have gone to a landfill.
Food collected from restaurants is cleaned of stray plastic, glass or metal pieces and ground into a mushy paste. The paste is piped into the cockroaches living quarters, which are kept dark, damp and warm. The insects flourish on the perpetual garbage buffet.

Dead roaches, a good source of protein, are crushed into food for farm animals such as pigs. Dried roach powder is also widely used in Chinese medicine, in skin creams to treat bums and to cure gastric problems.

In fact, the biggest farm in China breeds 6 billion adult cockroaches annually. Seven years ago, the farm in Sichuan was vandalised and a million roaches escaped and ran riot in the streets, sending people scurrying for cover. Now you can go "Ugh!"

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what's phantom electricity?

 Do you always switch off appliances when not in use? Now, do you remove these from their sockets? Did you know that even when you have switched off the appliance, some of the appliances can consume power in standby mode? The phantom electricity or vampire electricity is just that. It is the electricity that some gadgets consume when they are in standby power mode or switched off.

Note that those devices that do not have clocks and dashboards do not consume vampire energy. An example of a device that consumes vampire electricity includes water coolers.

Nowadays the water cooler is always running and will require a large amount of energy. Other examples include vending machines, coffee makers, laptop chargers, microwaves, security cameras, televisions, surround sound systems, gaming consoles, washing machines, dishwashers, photocopiers, cordless landline phones, battery chargers, mobile phones, and so on. These devices consume energy 24/7 when they are plugged into outlets. While we may have to keep some devices left on or on standby such as the fridge, most appliances need not be.           

According to experts, vampire energy consumption can be around 40% of a building's energy use. Some studies have found that more than 100 billion kilowatt-hours get wasted due to phantom electricity every year. Further, it can also produce some 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Residential waste and industrial vampire energy consumption are significant contributors to these emissions. The problem is with always-on devices. So the combined effect of the phantom electricity is much higher. Further, the percentage of phantom power use has burgeoned in recent years, more so because we have more appliances in our homes and industrial spaces. So all the devices combined, the loss of power through phantom load can be a significant amount. This means higher utility bills and more carbon pollution. Identify the devices that are invisibly draining the electricity in your home and cut down on phantom power usage.

Now what can you do if you aren't sure if the appliance consumes standby power? Well, you can prevent this wastage of energy by just unplugging the device!

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How god be with you become 'goodbye'

'Goodbye,' the universal send-off that slips off our tongues effortlessly, carries a history that's as rich as a chocolate cake!

Ever wonder why we say 'good morning, good night' or 'good day? It's all about wishing someone well during a specific time. So, wouldn't "goodbye" be saying I hope you have a good bye? It's a tempting thought but it's incorrect.

Back in the 14th Century, English-speaking people were fond of bidding farewell with a hearty "God be with you" when parting ways. Over time, linguistic laziness, or perhaps convenience, condensed these well-intentioned blessings into the much shorter 'godbwye' by the mid-16th Century.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word 'godbwye' appeared in print for the first time, noted in a letter by English scholar Gabriel Harvey in 1575. His poetic sentiment roughly translates today to "reciprocating your gallon of goodbyes with a half-gallon of howdies." This evolution of 'God be with you' to 'godbwye was as chaotic as a Shakespearean comedy! From 'God be wy you' to 'good b'w y' folks spelt it as they fancied. Even the renowned playwright William Shakespeare had his own spin on the word, using multiple variations across three of his plays.

And as for how "God" morph into "good"? It's believed that this happened because 

people were smitten by the charm of phrases like 'good day' and goodnight already making waves since the 13th Century. Come the early 1700s, 'goodbye' emerged and gained the public's favour to become the trendy areligious farewell we are familiar with today. While 'God be with you' remains a familiar phrase among the religious circles, 'goodbye took the lead in everyday conversations.

Although 'goodbye' forged an areligious path, the religious link remains evident in many other languages. For example, in French, "adieu," and in Spanish, "adios," both directly translate to "to God."

So the next time you say 'goodbye to someone remember this word's labyrinthine evolution through ages, spellings, and meanings, from divine blessings to areligious send-offs.

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What is the history behind pearl of the gulf?

The journey from Dilmun to the British

 Bahrain declared nationhood in 1971, shedding the yoke of colonial rule-first by the Portuguese and then by the British. Before all that. Bahrain- along with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia-was the centre for the Dilmun civilization, a contemporary of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Bahrain established itself as a monarchy in 1971, following independence. Sheikh Isa ibn Salman Al Khalifah was the first Emir (ruler or commander) of the country. In 1999, Sheikh Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah became the Emir. In 2002, he led the country's transition into a constitutional monarchy

In 2011, during the Arab Spring, Bahrain also witnessed a public uprising. The uprising called for more political freedom and an end to the monarchy. But it was crushed through military intervention, with support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The country enjoys the status of being a non-NATO US. ally.

A nation that turned adversity into advantage

Located in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is an archipelago comprising 33 islands. Its name comes from the Arabic al-Bahrayn meaning two seas. It refers to the two sources of water in the country - the freshwater springs and the surrounding seas. The springs played an important role in the development of pearl oysters.

Over 90% of Bahrain is desert. The freshwater springs, which once provided drinking water for the country, stopped flowing in the 1980s. The country has very little arable land. Interestingly, the country also has little oil wealth. Despite all of these adversities, the tiny island nation managed to develop into a major economy.

Bahrain is among the five most water-stressed countries in the world. To overcome shortage, the country invested in desalination technology in the early 1980s, when it was still in its nascent stages. Close to 60% of the country's drinking water needs are met by desalination plants.

As most of the desert land is uncultivable, the country forged trade ties with several nations, including India. Today, 90% of food consumed in Bahrain is imported. It has also taken advantage of the sea to become a major fishing hub.

Popular spots

Al Fateh is the grand mosque in Bahrain that is capable of accommodating 7000 people, and is one of the largest mosques in the world. It was built in 1988, with marble, glass, and teak wood. The dome of the mosque is made of fibreglass so that devotees can see all the heavenly glory from there. Bab-Al-Bahrain is one of the most beautiful markets in Manama having several stalls selling veggies and fruits, clothes, and crafts, and gold and pearls. Opened in 1949, the historical building is designed by the British advisor to the emir, Charles Belgrave.

The economic boom

Bahrain is among the top 20 richest countries in the world. Currently, the Bahraini Dinar is the second-highest-valued currency unit in the world. One Bahraini Dinar is worth over 220 Indian Rupees. But that tag did not come easily.

The country did not have oil reserves, but the country took up contracts for oil processing and refining from its neighbours, which provided a big business boost. It soon diversified into other areas as well - the biggest being banking and financial sectors. Bahrain's capital Manama is one of the fastest growing financial centres in the world.

Another backbone of the country's economy, for centuries, is the pearl industry. Bahrain is the first country in the world to ban cultured or artificial pearls. This has been a big boost for its pure pearl market. It is believed that the nutrients carried by Bahrain's springs into the sea gave its pearl oysters a unique environment to produce high quality gems.

The pearls are prised from seabed oysters by divers. It is said that making a single string pearl necklace could take up to five years as the pearls have to be sourced from divers in batches. A larger necklace could take even 10 years to make and would cost around *20 lakh.

There are about 3,50,000 Indian nationals in Bahrain, making them the largest expatriate group in the country. Immigration of Indians to Bahrain started right from the time of Dilmun civilization and continued through the British period. While early immigrants were traders, the current generation of Indians in Bahrain work as doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, bankers, managers, and other professionals.

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When money becomes worthless ?

Money cannot buy happiness, goes the adage. If you were living in Zimbabwe in the early 2000s, there were a lot more things that money could not buy. In fact, the currency was so worthless at one point that using it to make crafts or as toilet paper was cheaper than using it to buy goods with it. This was the era of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. Many countries have suffered from hyperinflation in the past, pushing their citizens to the brink of starvation. What caused the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe?

Excess money can be a bad thing!

Governments decide how much money they can print based on complex calculations. One of the important factors they consider during this process is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In simple terms. GDP means the monetary value of all finished goods and services within a country. When a country is producing more. Its GDP goes up and vice versa.

Zimbabwe was under the control of an authoritarian leader called Robert Mugabe between 1980 and 2017. In the early 2000s, the country was spending more than it was earning as revenue Mugabe's money managers came up with the not-so-brilliant idea of printing more currency to overcome the money shortage. This backfired.

How money works

The real wealth of a nation is not the money they print but the goods they produce and the services they offer- aka the GDP. Money is only an indicator of that wealth. So, when a country prints more money and distributes it to people, it drives up purchasing power-or the demand- while the amount of goods produced- or the supply-remains the same. Ergo, the cost of goods goes up, leading to massive price rise.

People in Zimbabwe, therefore, had a lot of money which could not buy them what they wanted. The government responded by injecting more money into the country. The consequence was so drastic that the prices were doubling every 24 hours. The rate of inflation reached an astronomical level- to 89.7 sextillion per cent per month! The government had still not leamt its lesson. It kept issuing higher denominator bank notes.

In July 2008, inflation hit its crescendo when the government issued a one hundred trillion dollar note (Zimbabwean Dollar). Its value. however, was just equal to 0.40 US dollars. In fact, the only time it fetched more was when it was sold as a novelty item on the internet. When inflation hit 230,000,000% in 2009, the country's reserve bank declared the U.S. dollar as its official currency.

Savings vaporised

Hyperinflation had devastating consequences for the people of Zimbabwe. Life became a daily struggle. as prices of essentials such food, medicine, and fuel became higher than the bills being printed. Within weeks and months, the cost of a loaf of bread went from hundreds of Zimbabwean dollars (2$) to millions At one point, it touched Z$550,000,000 in the regular market and Z$10 billion in the black market. With people being unable to afford consumption. businesses started failing. Unemployment soared. The money that people had saved in their bank accounts vaporised due to devaluation and in buying essentials.

The bubble bust

Unable to contain the inflation. Zimbabwe decided to abandon its own currency and began using foreign currencies for everyday transactions, including the US dollar, the South African rand, and the Indian rupee. This, along with government reforms. helped the country stabilise its economy to a large extent. The inflation came down to 0%, but it did not last long.

In 2019, the Central Bank of Zimbabwe abolished the multiple-currency system and replaced it with the new Zimbabwe dollar, restarting the old problem once again. Earlier this year, inflation spiked to 175% before coming down to 77% in August. Zimbabwe's real problems are not just with the currency, but with its low economic output, social indicators, and constant conflict in the region. The African nation's experience is a good example to understand why printing more money is not the answer.

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Which was the cancelled mission that succeeded ?

On October 28, 1971. Great Britain officially entered the space race. becoming the sixth country to place a satellite into orbit using their own launch vehicle While the Prospero satellite had been successfully launched, the project responsible for it had been scrapped months earlier. A.S.Ganesh takes a look at a cancelled mission that still succeeded....

What were you doing when Chandrayaan 3 created history by landing near the south pole of the moon? This is one question that you might keep encountering throughout your lifetime. It is human nature to link associate and talk about what we as individuals were doing when something historic pans out.

These things however, are also a by-product of how we are made to feel about a particular event. For even when something historic takes place, it might not always create waves if there isn't enough hype around it. The successful launch of the Prospero satellite is one such event.

The second half of the 20th Century was an exciting time in the space race. While the US. and the Soviet Union were at the forefront, the UK was only third to them in the field of rocket technology. Despite having a workable satellite launch programme and plans for human-based missions, it all came apart for Great Britain in a matter of years.

No fanfare

Britain became the sixth nation to place a satellite into orbit with a carrier rocket developed indigenously on October 28, 1971. Unlike the frenzy surrounding the success of Chandrayaan-3, there was little fanfare associated with it.

Even if we are to account for the half a century in between and the way in which news is disseminated with today's technology and social media, what happened with Prospero would still be found wanting. While the American and Soviet space programmes of the time were being celebrated, Prospero's successful launch was a low-key affair.

Black Arrow project

Regardless of how it was received. Prospero's launch was a triumph. The scientists and engineers at the Royal Aircraft Establishment had been involved with the British space programme from late in the 1950s and all their skills had been invested on this satellite.

The Black Arrow project programme was a continuation of the U.K.'s missile defence programme. The first attempt to launch a satellite (X-2) was a failure in September 1970 as the second stage of the rocket failed to pressurise. With this literally being their last chance, the team based at the launch site in Woomera, Australia did everything with extreme caution. The Black Arrow rocket was launched on October 28, 1971 from Woomera and within minutes the Prospero satellite, manufactured by the British Aircraft Corporation and Marconi, was placed successfully in a polar orbit.

Joy and regret

 The joy that the success brought was mixed with sadness for all those involved because the British government had cancelled the Black Arrow project three months earlier owing to escalating costs and funding coming to a standstill. The government had agreed upon one final launch attempt which resulted in Prospero's success. With the government distancing itself from the project, there was little about the mission for the consumption of the public. It took two days for the news of the successful launch to reach the U.K. and even then it did not make it to the front page of most newspapers.

Transmits for decades

The 66 kg Prospero was a tiny device designed to test systems for future launches (that never came about) and carried a single scientific instrument. While the tape recorders it carried stopped functioning in 1973. Prospero transmitted a signal for over two decades and continues to orbit the Earth Just before the age of the commercial satellites began, the British government pulled the plug after having decided that space was largely a waste of money. Prospero is not only the first, but remains so far the only British satellite launched on a British-built rocket.

Picture Credit : Google