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Israel: A 500-year-old Byzantine wine complex has been discovered

On Monday, Israeli archaeologists discovered a Byzantine-era, industrial-scale wine complex that produced approximately two million litres of the beverage annually and was the world’s “largest” such centre at the time.

The facility in Yavne, south of Tel Aviv, which was a Jewish settlement during biblical times and a key city following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, is made up of five wine presses spread across a square kilometre (0.4 sq mile).

The 1,500-year-old site hides warehouses for ageing and marketing the wine, kilns to prepare the clay amphorae used to store the wine and “tens of thousands of fragments and intact earthen jars”, the Israel Antiquities Authority said of the “sophisticated” site.

According to IAA excavators Elie Hadad, Liat Nadav-Ziv, and Jon Seligman, the Holy Land wine was a prized product and was known as “Gaza and Ashkelon wine” due to the nearby ports from which it was exported.

In antiquity, fermenting grape juice into wine was a tried and true method of avoiding illness from contaminated drinking water. The two-year dig uncovered Persian-era wine presses that were 2,300 years old at the same location.

This profusely funded farmers protest is indeed a political campaign against BJP for upcoming elections. Know it why? 

Rummaging through recent horrible incidents that happened in the name of protests has unmistakably proved that Farmers protest is infact a political campaign indirectly working for political parties which have been kicked out of power by the mighty Bjp. Since, All parties quiver like a gasping fish out of water which is simply lured by a bait, when they aren’t in power for a couple of years, and if a party like congress which has been relishing parliamentary hospitality and revelries since independence, was kicked out twice by Bjp. Therefore, their frustration and wrath in the name of politics is inevitable. History is apparently an evidence of Congress’s sordid character when it’s not ruling the Prime ministerial throne of power. 

Congress is pernicious because this party is brilliant at encumbering the ruling party from doing anything for the country which has been seen in seven years of Modi regime. Since 2014, new peculiar culture has been thriving in India, which is verily detrimental for the society. It is about protesting vehemently against everything done by the ruling party even if it sounds risible and inane. Such ridiculous and malicious protests have happened in India after 2014, such as CAA protests, and now farmers protest. 

CAA has evidently nothing to do with Indian Muslims, however, the lies disseminated by congress party with the help of its loyal lipspittles in media who have been serving this political party for decades, and savoring the alms with delight, were sufficient to create a ruckus in the country, and a conspiracy against Hindus was concocted and the Delhi riots have shown what political parties like Aam Aadmi party and congress tend to do in order to topple the govt which is a dangerous force for their existence. 

After getting bashed in general elections 2019, Congress party started to wobble. To protect its crumbling pillars, It has fervently pandered farmers to protest against farm bills which are certainly for the betterment of farmers in India, because Congress couldn’t digest this decision of the govt, as gobbling up farmers money with old, feckless laws is the only source of income of this party leaders and workers now. 

Farmers protest has been planted brilliantly that even the govt had to implore for the settlement to the so-called farmers who are unbelievably obsessed with effrontery, duress and profanity. It was extremely lionized by Indian media, making it evolve like a giant which contained even anti India elements like Khalistan dreamers. The media has ceaselessly highlighted this protest, labelling it as the biggest protest against the govt in the world, the congress friendly journalists and Islamists spread this as if the govt was about to slay farmers and loot their lands like Islamic invaders. Although all these lies were apparently hollow, yet this protest prospered on the highways, blocking the national capital. 

This well funded protest has slyly become an arena for activism, resurrecting political careers of leaders like Yogendra Yadav  and Rakesh Tikait. They are relishing sumptuous dishes in the air conditioned tents sojourned at the Delhi borders, having media rambling around them, and staying in ritzy resorts for continuing this protest. Ironically, it is a farmer protest in which no real farmers exist. Threatening the govt, ministers, journalists who question their credibility and demand answers about farm bills, is happening everyday in this protest which  led the unfortunate incident happened on Republic day. India has witnessed how tractors were roaming to crush police and people to create a bloodbath, how fearlessly  anti national elements hoisted khalistani flags in the tractor march, how brutally these so-called farmers attacked and belabored police men at Red fort. Everything is still alive in our minds. The punishment is yet be served to the criminals. 

This is the prevalent history of Congress, when it fails to snatch power, it purposely utilizes its personal power to create a havoc in the country in order to topple the govt, spreading lies about everything, and continuously making it a big headline with its friendly journalists and denigrating India internationally. The fervor which we can notice in chaos created by congress, is unbelievable. Congress has a penchant for disparaging India in order to make it look like that it’s only Congress that knows how to rule. In its claws, media, liberal lobbies and all are caged, which is too easy to notice how its friendly media has been toiling to blame Bjp for Lakhimpur  kheri incident, whitewashing the killings of bjp workers who were mercilessly murdered by these protesters or terrorists. 

The khalistani proponent Bhindranwale who was excellently eliminated by Late Indira Gandhi, is still in the hearts of protesters that we have seen in the pictures of lakhimpur kheri incident. Men wore T-shirts of Bhindranwale emblazoned on them. However, nobody has the right to call it anti national, Otherwise Punjabi singers lolling on their cozy couches in Canada will feel uneasy and start tweeting and abusing while serving their masters there. 

Farmers protest is just a façade under which vile activities are happening unabated. To disrupt the harmony, and enhance the chances of Congress and other inept leaders to try their luck in upcoming UP elections, the name of farmers is being cunningly used to avoid any kind of suspicion and actions for their unconstitutional demeanor shown on Republic day, and in Lakhimpur kheri. Rakesh tikait is very clement when it comes to protesting against other ruling parties where congress is in power, or in alliance with the ruling party. His obsession is either fixated only on Bjp, or it’s the only purpose behind his presence in this protest. it certainly elucidates what is really not coherent. 

The protesters behave barbarically as if they are fighting for something else, their attacks on bjp workers have explained their ugly intentions which media is not even talking about. Under the garb of farmers protest, such dangerous elements are continually thriving, which is unfortunately an alarming situation for the govt. 

Congress is a master of violence, ruckus and chaos. The unbridled lust for power has impaired this party’s credibility. This party yearns for power so badly that it can even fuel the fire of religious riots to clinch power again, using all the bloodbath and miseries, which its leaders are currently doing for lakhimpur kheri incidence. 

All the political vultures are trying to sneak into the city, and light up violence to create a chaos in the state which might be beneficial for the party in upcoming elections in 2022. This protest is not a farmers protest against farm bills, because there is not even anything wrong in those bills, it has only one purpose that is to win elections anyhow. And use this protest in all elections against bjp only. It is just a political campaign which might end if Congress’s incapable leadership of Rahul Gandhi drastically loses the UP elections drastically. 

The Kisan union leader Rakesh tikait who is currently seen strutting like he is a political savvy in Indian politics, or any famous leader and, speaking audaciously like he has grabbed the highest post, is ridiculously a man who couldn’t win even a single election in his life, he is just being mollycoddled by Congress party for its own purposes. Threats and whitewashing of violence is shamelessly embedded in his tongue which is infact expected from a profligate leader domesticated by Congress party. 

This protest has ceaselessly exposing its ugly purposes, as leaders who are flaunting their audacity, are continuously attempting to create an disturbing atmosphere to affect upcoming elections. They are secretly conspiring against the famous bjp stalwarts, conniving with anti-India and anti – Hindu elements which has apparently been shown in recent violent protests by disguised farmers who are obsessed with duress and smitten with arson. Behind them, are standing their sympathizers with pens, some are sitting in the courts to fight for them, and due to unexpected unemployment issues, some are active on social media to whitewash all the violence with a pretext, that these protesters are farmers who are unabashedly killing people, setting vehicles on fire, and disrupting harmony in the country. No leader talks about farm bills now, all they say is, don’t vote for bjp. Hence, This clearly articulates what this farmers protest was born for; Defeat Bjp. 

How to practice Meditation or Dhyana?

silhouette of person raising its hand
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Meditation or Dhyana do something very magical to your body that cannot be just explained by words. You have to start practicing meditation to experience this magic.

Meditation or Dhyana is a deep concentration state where you try to come out of all the material thoughts going inside your brain and sometimes out of this material world for a very short period of time. People often face trouble while concentrating, there is no second thought that dhyana practice is not that easy practice. Coming out of all the material thoughts and concentrating on absolutely nothing is bit difficult.

I have been meditating from past 3 years and have learned so much by myself, it was so hard to meditate initially. 

Starting is always not that good you finds it very difficult to sit and think of absolutely nothing.

Here, I am going to share how you can start meditating if you are practicing it for the very first time?

Meditation isn’t just about sitting and thinking of nothing, it is actually detaching yourself from this material world for a while and try to feel the presence of Ishwar (A supreme omnipresent energy that has created this everything).

On the very first day of your meditation practice; you should select a time (I will suggest you to wake up early before sunrise and practice) and place where you find yourself alone, light a ghee deepak and sit in padmashan or lotus position in front of the deepak, look at the glowing flame of deepak in front of you for a while try to build your full concentration over that small glowing flame. Now all you should have in your mind is a glowing energy flame, make sure no other thoughts or picture pop up into your mind.

Now slowly close your eyes, closing your eyes doesn’t mean you can forget the energy flame in front of you. 

Closing of eyes symbolises the darkness. Now suppose you are sitting in a complete dark space you don’t have any solid ground beneath you, no walls, no trees, no birds, etc around you.

You are now in a place where no materiality exists all you have and can see is darkness all around and a glowing flame in front of you, yes! The glowing flame of your deepak is still in front of you. Make sure you don’t visualise the deepak but only the energy flame.

Your final state must be like, you are laviatating in a dark space with no materiality around, only a glowing energy flame is in front of you. 

The darkness symbolises the reality, the reality of the universe without the materiality around you, this is how you feel detached with all the materiality around you. The energy flame in front of you symbolises the presence of Ishwar and this is how you feel very near and connected to that supreme omnipresent energy that created everything.

Try to spend as much time you can in this state, don’t force yourself. Once you loose your concentration don’t just suddenly open your eyes, instead keep sitting in that same state you are in, rub your palms and then open your eyes by touching your rubbed palms to your eyes. 

Practicing it daily will help you have control over your unnecessary material thoughts.

Once you master this basic practice of dhyana there are many more ways of meditating which you can practice to gain control over your Indriya and activate your body chakras.

Meditation is not something you can master in a month or in a year, it takes time. All you have to do is practice daily.

Pros and cons of the architectural modeling profession

Pros and cons of the architectural modeling profession

An architectural visualizer is a specialist in the field of 3D graphics, who is able to revive the created projects of houses, apartments, commercial establishments, cultural and architectural monuments.  However, today there are not so many good specialists.  Therefore, it is worth contacting only proven 3d architectural modeling services.

The specialist transfers the project to 3D format, so the customer immediately sees how the building and the adjacent territories will look after the completion of the work.

The visualizer-architect is a real creator who knows how to understand the customer and displays his requirements for a future project on the screen of a tablet or desktop computer.  This work can be compared to the work of an interior designer, but a more difficult task falls on the shoulders of the visualizer-architect.

For a representative of this profession, it is important to be able to work with graphic elements, photographs, lighting and various materials from which he puts together a finished project.  The visualizer must be able to look for new solutions and receive information from independent sources.

Features of the profession

During the work, the architect-visualizer may encounter a number of problems, because he must not only be able to transfer the finished project to a 2D or 3D plane, but also know about all the intricacies of construction, since 3Nitro knows about it.

Specialists of this profile can create real projects, for example, for a construction company that wants to get an attractive layout of a constructed building.  Also, 3D architects can develop concepts of unreal buildings for thematic videos and other advertising projects.

The specialist must be able to:

  • work with shadows;
  • work with textures and materials;
  • work with real photos;
  • understand the client and transfer his wishes to the 3D plane.

And the most important requirement is that the visualizing architect must be able to find a common language with the customer and the employees of the company in which he works.  After all, the finished project should look the way the future owner of the object imagines it.

Pros:

  • Quiet work without heavy physical labor.
  • Higher education is encouraged, but a specialist who is perfectly familiar with software and has an education as an architect can complete 3D visualization courses for employment.
  • The ability to work remotely.
  • Average salary.
  • Work can be remote, so it is possible to look for customers and high-paying projects around the world.
  • The ability to receive education remotely (online courses, lectures, etc.).
  • There is an opportunity to realize your creative potential.
  • It is possible not to communicate with the customer, using modern means of information transfer.
  • For work, you can use ready-made online catalogs of furniture and materials, from which a professional will model various options for building design.

Minuses:

  • Demanding customers.
  • The need to purchase a powerful computer and licensed software.
  • Sedentary work that requires complete dedication.
  • Ability to adapt to the requirements and mood of the customer.
  • Patience and understanding, because the customer may require to change the finished 3D project.
  • The job may seem boring, because most of the time you will have to move ready-made templates.
  • A large load on the musculoskeletal system and vision, because representatives of this profession spend more than 8 hours a day at the computer.

Now you know the features of the profession of 3D visualization of objects.

Progressives in U.S. Congress open to cutting cost, not scope, of Biden bill

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA), speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law on "Online Platforms and Market Power" in the Rayburn House office building on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S.

U.S. Congress progressives on Tuesday signaled a new willingness to shrink the cost, but not the scope, of President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar plan to broaden social programs and tackle climate change, as they struggle to reach a deal with party moderates.

Centrist Democrats have balked at the plan’s initial $3.5 trillion price tag. As a result, Biden faces a difficult balancing act in trying to bring down the cost but not alienate progressives who also are essential to passage.

Following a meeting earlier this month on Capitol Hill with his fellow Democrats, Biden suggested the bill could cost around $2 trillion over 10 years.

“We are prepared to negotiate,” Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who aligns with Democrats, told reporters on a Tuesday conference call.

He initially sought a $6 trillion bill.

But Sanders drew the line on one initiative — including the cost of elderly patients’ vision, hearing and dental care covered under Medicare. “This to me is not negotiable,” he said.

Sanders added that time is overdue for centrist Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to tell the rest of the party what they want in the bill, which is the centerpiece of President Biden’s domestic agenda.

The head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Representative Pramila Jayapal, complained that moderates had not articulated a clear position.

Among its provisions are expansions of healthcare for children and the elderly and significant investments in clean technology for everything from electric power generating plants to electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions responsible for climate change.

“We are waiting for just a couple of senators to tell us what their proposal is,” Jayapal said.

Over the past day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave conflicting signals as to whether Democrats would cut specific programs or try to adjust timing to pare the bill’s cost.

A spokesman said on Tuesday there were discussions of doing both.

Jayapal said that her nearly 100-member Progressive Caucus has made clear that it supports maintaining all the bill’s main priorities but could go along with reducing the number of years they would be effective.

For example, she said the legislation could authorize free community college, child care and other programs for less than 10 years. But she said that climate change measures were needed for at least a decade.

Biden is due to travel to Glasgow in coming weeks for a United Nations climate meeting. Democrats would like to complete work on this massive bill by the end of October so that he can arrive armed with a significant set of climate goals enacted into U.S. law.

The $150 billion Clean Electricity Payment Program, which would reward utilities that add more clean energy capacity like wind and solar power and fine those that do not, is one example of that, Jayapal said. “Because it’s a market-driven program there are real arguments for keeping that to 10 years,” she said.

Democrats are trying get Manchin’s support for the electric program, which he has long opposed, by boosting tax credits for coal and natural gas power plants that capture and store carbon dioxide.

Both programs could support Biden’s climate goals of decarbonizing the U.S. power grid by 2035 and the wider economy by 2050.

Democrats plan to employ a special “budget reconciliation” tool to spirit their legislation through Congress without support from Republicans, who normally can use their minority status to block bills.

Don’t panic buy for Christmas, Britain says after port chaos

People walk through the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain

Britain said on Wednesday that people should buy normally for Christmas and that there would be no shortage of gifts after shipping containers carrying toys and electrical goods were diverted from the country’s biggest port because it was full.

Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company, has diverted some vessels away from Felixstowe port in eastern England because there is nowhere left to stack containers at the port amid an acute shortage of truck drivers.

“I’m confident that people will be able to get their toys for Christmas,” Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden told Sky when asked about problems at Felixstowe port. He said he was sure Christmas gifts would be delivered this year.

Dowden, who is a cabinet minister without portfolio in the Cabinet Office, said the situation was improving at the port and that the issues facing the world’s fifth largest economy were global – such as a shortage of truckers and port congestion.

“The situation is improving,” Dowden said of the situation at Felixstowe, which handles 36 per cent of the country’s containerised freight.

When asked whether or not people should start to buy now for Christmas, he said: “I would say just buy as you do normally.”

No clear path for unfreezing Afghan funds, Qatar foreign minister says

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani attends talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not seen) in Moscow, Russia

There is no clear path for unfreezing Afghan government funds, Qatar’s foreign minister told a conference on Wednesday, highlighting the economic challenges Afghanistan faces under its new Taliban rulers.

Qatar is hosting talks between the Taliban and Western officials and is seen as having influence over the Taliban movement.

Much of the Afghan central bank’s $10 billion in assets are parked overseas.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, reiterated Qatar’s position that recognising the Taliban government was not currently a priority, but international engagement was important.

Dollar near one-year high ahead of Fed meeting minutes

Dollar.

The dollar held near a one-year high versus major peers on Wednesday, amid rising expectations the Federal Reserve will announce a tapering of stimulus next month, potentially following with interest rate hikes by mid-2022.

Three Fed policymakers said on Tuesday that the U.S. economy has healed enough to begin to scale back the central bank’s asset-purchase programme, including Vice Chair Richard Clarida.

Money markets now price about a 50-50 chance of a rate increase by July.

The dollar index , which measures the greenback against six rivals, eased slightly to 94.356 from Tuesday, when it touched 94.563 for the first time since late September 2020.

A surge in energy prices has fuelled inflation concerns and stoked bets that the Fed may need to move faster to normalise policy than officials had projected, sending two-year Treasury yields to their highest in more than 18 months overnight.

Higher U.S. yields helped push the dollar to a three-year high against the yen on Tuesday at 113.785 yen . The pair last traded at 113.575.

The euro changed hands at $1.1551, well within sight of the previous session’s $1.1522, its lowest in nearly 15 months. Traders will focus on consumer price data later on Wednesday for further insight into the timing of higher rates.

“CPI is the main economic draw” and “has the potential to see Fed rate hike expectations move again, one way or another,” said Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy at National Australia Bank in Sydney.

Most Fed policymakers continue to say inflationary pressures will prove transitory.

Governors Lael Brainard and Michelle Bowman are among the Fed officials due to speak later on Wednesday, when the minutes of the central bank’s September meeting are also due to be released.

“Today’s FOMC minutes release could confirm that a November taper announcement may be hard to resist for the Fed but also that there were discussions of the potential impact from further tightening of the U.S. and global financial conditions,” said Valentin Marinov, head of G10 FX research at Credit Agricole.

“We further believe that, following the rather mixed U.S. jobs report for September and the delay rather than the resolution of the U.S. debt ceiling issue, the Fed could ultimately opt for a more gradual start to QE taper.”

Sterling meandered in the middle of this month’s range, trading a touch higher from Tuesday at $1.3624.

The risk-sensitive Aussie dollar traded flat at $0.7347, retreating from Tuesday’s one-month high at $0.7384.

Bitcoin traded around $54,765, after reaching a five-month high of $57,855.79 at the start of the week.

Guatemala protesters strain to topple Columbus statue, protesting coloniser legacy

A demonstrator holds a head torn off from the statue of former President Jose Maria Reina Barrios during protests against the treatment of indigenous people by European conquerors, during Hispanic Heritage Day, in Guatemala City, Guatemala

Protesters in Guatemala tried to topple a Christopher Columbus statue on Tuesday amid protests against the treatment of indigenous people by European conquerors, the latest effort in a global movement to re-examine symbols of the colonial era.

The demonstrations coincided with Hispanic Heritage Day, commemorated worldwide to mark Columbus’ arrival to the Americas, but which has faced criticism for not recognizing the disastrous effects on indigenous people, many of whom were enslaved or died of diseases brought by the foreigners.

In Guatemala’s capital on Tuesday, a group of people strained to dismantle a towering Columbus statue by pulling a long rope tied to its neck but could not tear it down, social media videos showed.

The monument, which stretches 30 feet (9 meters) up and weighs 10 tons, was shipped to Guatemala from Spain in 1896.

Another group of protesters succeeded in tearing away the head on a monument to former President Jose Maria Reina Barrios, who served from 1892 to 1898, after splashing it with red paint.

Daniel Pascual, a leading advocate for farmer rights, said he was on the streets for Indigenous Resistance Day, not to pay tribute to Columbus and the repressive leaders who followed.

“They were invaders and a continuation of the invasion,” he said.

Guatemala City said in a statement it opposed the “acts of vandalism” taken against monuments it described as “historical heritage.”

Columbus led several Spanish-funded expeditions from the 1490s onward, opening the way for the European conquest of the Americas. A number of statues honoring the Italian navigator have been removed from U.S. cities since the Black Lives Matter protests, as well as in other countries.

In Mexico’s capital, officials on Tuesday said a replica of a pre-Hispanic sculpture depicting an indigenous woman, dubbed “the young woman of Amajac,” will replace a bronze, 19th-century Columbus statue on the city’s main thoroughfare removed last year.

EU to propose easing checks on British trade to N. Ireland

blue and yellow round star print textile
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

The European Commission will put to Britain on Wednesday a package of measures to ease the transit of goods to Northern Ireland, while stopping short of the overhaul London is demanding of post-Brexit trading rules for the province.

The EU executive’s measures are designed to ease customs controls, such as the clearance of meat, dairy and other food products and the flow of medicines to the British province from the UK mainland.

However, it will not open up for renegotiation the protocol governing Northern Ireland’s unique trading position, leaving Brussels and London on a potential collision course.

Maros Sefcovic, the commission vice-president in charge of EU-UK relations, will present the plans to EU countries and to members of the European Parliament on Wednesday afternoon before a news conference scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (1630 GMT).

The commission will also set out plans to engage more with people in Northern Ireland.

Oliver Dowden, the co-chairman of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, said the British government would engage fully and constructively with the European Union on the proposals, adding that the steps he had read about so far were “welcome”.

“We will look at them and engage properly with them,” he told Sky News, while also saying it was important there was “fundamental change” to the protocol.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told Newstalk radio station that the EU had listened to legitimate concerns about the protocol and was in “solution mode” and the British government had a responsibility to be in that mode too.

“It takes two to tango,” he said.

The proposals could enable supermarkets to supply Northern Irish stores with sausages and other chilled meat products from Britain that are banned from entry into the European Union – and so in theory into Northern Ireland.

While remaining part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has stayed in the EU’s single market for goods, meaning its exports to the rest of the bloc face no customs checks, tariffs or paperwork.

Sefcovic has said the arrangement allows Northern Irish businesses to enjoy the best of both worlds. However, the result is an effective customs border in the Irish Sea, disturbing trade from Britain to Northern Ireland and angering the province’s pro-British unionists.

Under the commission’s plans, British sausages, for example, would be allowed into Northern Ireland as long as they were solely intended for Northern Irish consumers.

“That’s our proposal. We will put it on the table. If… this is rejected, then indeed we have a problem,” Sefcovic said in comments last week.

British Brexit Minister David Frost said in a speech on Tuesday that London would be ready to discuss the proposals “whatever they say”, but also demanded a new “forward-looking” protocol, one without oversight from European judges.

The EU has said it cannot see how a body other than the EU’s top court could rule on the EU single market.

Thai monks’ livestream mixes Buddhism and jokes but not all are laughing

photo of golden gautama buddha
Photo by Suraphat Nuea-on on Pexels.com

Two Buddhist monks in Thailand have become social media stars with Facebook livestreams that combine traditional teachings with non-traditional jokes and giggles. Some of the country’s religious conservatives, however, are not so amused.

With an impressive fluency in youth slang, Phra Maha Paiwan Warawanno, 30, and Phra Maha Sompong Talaputto, 42, have captured the imagination of a generation who find the formal temple decorum and Sanskrit chanting of traditional Buddhism outdated and inaccessible.

On a recent Friday night, the bespectacled Paiwan set his phone up on a tripod and clipped a microphone onto his saffron robe, sitting alongside Phra Maha Sompong in a small study in Wat Soi Thong temple in Bangkok.

In the livestream that followed, the two men talked through a myriad of issues, mixing Buddhist teachings, known as Dhamma, with modern life advice and a hefty dose of humour.

“I want Dhamma and the young generation to coexist,” Paiwan told Reuters. “Without reaching out to the young, what will be the place of religion in the future?”

Paiwan and Sompong’s weekly livestreams attract hundreds of thousands of viewers within minutes, once reaching a peak of two million.

Paiwan, whose Facebook follower count skyrocketed by more than 800% to 2.5 million in just over a month, said he wanted to keep Buddhism relevant to Thai society in the wake of scandals at temples over murder, drugs, sex and money laundering.

The upbeat sessions also provided much needed relief for many Thais confined to home during night-time curfews to stifle the country’s COVID-19 outbreak.

“We have bad days and we are stressed with work, with money, with family, with the pandemic and everything that’s going on with the lockdown,” said Onravee Tangmeesang, 32, who watches every Friday night session from her bed.

“Those giggles can really brighten up my day.”

But the weekly livestreams have not been greeted so favourably by Buddhist conservatives keen to uphold the religion’s conventions and formalities.

The two monks were summoned last month to a parliamentary committee on religion to explain their online activities, while senior government figures have warned them to tone down the jokes and “inappropriate behaviour.”

“Monks’ behaviour has to be respectable in the public eye. It doesn’t have to change with the time to appease young people,” said Srisuwan Janya, head of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution.

“That will lead to the decline of Buddhism, which has already existed for nearly 2,600 years without needing to change before.”

Paiwan responded with typical levity when asked to comment on the summons: “Laughing has become a national problem!”

SHAKING IT UP

Buddhism is one of the three traditional pillars of Thai society, alongside the nation and monarchy, but it has largely become performative, its role in society largely diminished to one-off events such as funerals, religious festivals and royal events.

For many fans, the monks’ willingness to break conventional barriers to reach out to them and speak their language makes them worthy of reverence.

The livestreams allow the pair to engage directly with their audience, reading comments and answering questions, a tactic that breaks the long-standing Buddhist convention of one-way preaching.

In a recent livestream the pair riffed on the concept of “merits” and whether they could be shared.

“Lord Buddha said merits are like candles,” said Paiwan. “You can light other candles without dimming the flame of the first.”

Sompong, who has 1.4 million followers on Facebook, chimed in: “Just be careful not to burn your friends.”

Both men burst into giggles.

Pongsak Sangla, 36, said the pair allowed people to find space for Buddhism again, without time-consuming rituals, in their busy modern lives.

“Times have changed,” said Sangla. “Realness is what people want.”

Report on UPSC Prelims 2021

Director, Vajiram & Ravi

The Preliminary Test conducted on 10th October 2021, was a very interesting one. The questions were asked from areas across the Prelim syllabus. Current Affairs based questions dominated the question paper and the questions from subjects like Polity, Economy, History & Geography tested the basic knowledge and conceptual clarity of the candidates.  The number of questions based on subjects has more or less remained similar through the previous years except that there were considerable number of questions from the science section and medieval history. Questions in science included everyday science, health, technology and biology.

Polity and Constitution based questions remained similar to the previous years question papers with questions asked from most areas of the syllabus. Questions were largely based on understanding of constitutional provisions which have been in news. The reflection of current affairs can be very well seen in the questions of this section. 

The questions on Economics were related mostly to the basics linked with Current Affairs co-relation. In general, the questions could be solved with a basic understanding of economics along with current affairs related developments especially during the pandemic. The importance of studying the Economic survey has been stressed again. There were many questions related to RBI & application with the Monetary Policy, which is again, current affairs based. Other financial news that had been in news were asked in the question paper like U.S Bond Yield, Labour Laws consolidation, Banking Regulation Act amendment etc. A candidate with thorough understanding of the basics of economy along with the current economic & financial context can easily score well in this section.

The surprise this year was 3 questions on sports on Olympics, awards and world test cricket. These questions were unusual as for more than 5 years, the UPSC had not asked sports questions. 

In Environment and Geography sections there were around 20 questions, like the previous years. It covered both the static part along with questions from current affairs. Some questions require the basic understanding of the topics covered while some require in depth knowledge. Overall, the level of difficult was above average.

There are a total of 20 questions from all sections of history combined, which is a usual proportion and as usual, questions from modern India appeared significantly. The questions from modern India are a mixed bag of traditional questions and some facts that are normally not found in regular books that students read. For the questions coming from the pre-modern part, there are two important changes this year – firstly, the proportion of medieval questions has increased, and secondly the typical trend of asking questions from religion of ancient India seems to have been discontinued. History section seems to have become more random than the previous years and it will be  difficult for the candidates to arrive at a logical strategy of preparation for this part of the syllabus.

The CSAT paper was a challenging paper with a higher level of difficulty this year than the previous years. The Mathematics section did not have direct formula-based questions and was more application based, thereby testing the conceptual clarity of a student. Also, this year there were no questions on Data Interpretation, which are usually easy to answer. The English section carried 30 questions where the syllogism questions were simple, but the reading comprehension passages were not straight forward. The comprehension passages tested the language skill, in terms of understanding of the passages and tricky answer options. Students who had practiced the CSAT questions regularly with seriousness despite it being a qualifying paper, would make it past the qualifying mark.

Overall, the UPSC has framed a very intriguing Prelims question papers in General Studies and CSAT, paving the path only for serious candidates to take the Main Exam 2021. 

India to need over 5600 GW Solar Power to reach Net Zero by 2070

India’s total installed solar power capacity would need to increase to 5,630 gigawatts (GW) if the country wants to commit to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emission by 2070, according to a study by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

“For 5,630 GW solar power, consequently, the total corresponding land requirement for India’s power generation assets, especially solar, would be approximately 4.6 per cent. India would also need to develop the requisite recycling capacities to handle the solar PV waste generated,” the CEEW study said.

At present, India has 100 GW of installed renewable energy (RE) capacity, of which solar comprises 40 GW, and it aims to enhance the RE capacity to 450 GW by 2030.

Net zero is a concept where a country, a region or for that matter an office, basically any unit, withdraws or mitigates as much carbon emission as it requires.

Ahead of the annual United Nations climate change conference, which will begin in Glasgow in three weeks’ time, the developed countries are putting pressure on the developing world, including India, to raise their respective climate action goals and commit to net zero by 2050.

‘Implications of a Net Zero Target for India’s Sectoral Energy Transitions and Climate Policy’, a first of its kind study by the CEEW, also highlighted that to achieve net zero by 2070, usage of coal, especially for power generation, would need to peak by 2040 and drop by 99 per cent between 2040 and 2060, a CEEW release said.

Further, consumption of crude oil, across sectors, would need to peak by 2050 and fall substantially by 90 per cent between 2050 and 2070.

Green hydrogen could contribute 19 per cent of the total energy needs of the industrial sector. These insights assume that hydrogen would play an integral part in this transition, while the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology would play a negligible role, the release said.

Further, if India were to attain net zero emissions by 2070, the economic cost of the transition could be around 4.1 per cent of the GDP in the net zero year. But if India were to attain it by 2050, the economic cost would be much higher, around 7 per cent of the GDP in that particular year.

“A breakthrough in CCS technology, as well as low-cost finance, could help reduce the economic cost of the transition,” said the CEEW study.

“For vast and diverse developing countries like India, at least a 30-year gap between peaking and the net-zero year would be critical. This will ensure a smooth transition by giving the policymakers and other stakeholders sufficient time to plan and adapt to a new energy system. Also, as we move towards a net zero future, energy prices could rise in the short run and workers that are a part of the fossil-fuel economy could lose jobs.

“Hence, developed countries should offer generous financial and technological support to the developing ones to help them set ambitious goals regarding emissions reduction while ensuring a just transition,” said Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Fellow, CEEW.

Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW, said, “Equity must be at the heart of the net zero debate. Developed economies should significantly advance their target of achieving net zero and not wait till 2050. This will give the developing countries room to pursue a just and sustainable energy transition.”

More than 125 countries have expressed their willingness to achieve a net zero future. Even though India is yet to commit to a net zero target, it is the only G20 country to meet its emission reduction commitments made in the Paris Agreement.

It is also a leading partner in the International Solar Alliance and has recently announced the National Hydrogen Mission to push innovation, production, storage and usage of green hydrogen.

The essence of Nav Durga explained by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, AOL

The festival of Navratri is a time for self-referral, a time for getting back to the source. The seekers fast, pray, maintain silence and meditate this time of the year. It gives us relief at three levels of our existence — physical, subtle and causal. While fasting detoxifies the body, silence purifies the speech and brings rest to the chattering mind, and meditation takes one deep into one’s own being. 

We see Devi being worshipped in 9 forms during Navratri. Recognizing the one divinity in every form and name is what Navratri is all about. 

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from Art of Living elucidates for us the pristine nine forms of Maa.

Shailputri (First night)

Shailaputri is the daughter of the peak (Shaila). The common interpretation is that she is the daughter of Mount Kailasa, but this is a gross understanding.  On the path of Yoga, it means the highest level of consciousness. When the energy is at its peak, only then can you notice and recognize it. Only then can you experience the pure consciousness – the Devi. Here the peak refers to the peak of any intense feeling. When you are 100% with a feeling, and it consumes your entire being, then Goddess Durga is really born. Just like children, who get angry 100% and then they are out of it in only a few minutes. 

Brahmacharini (second night)

She is that aspect of our consciousness that is pure, unblemished, and virgin. She is the aspect of Mother Divine that permeates the entire brahmand (the universe.) She is the energy that dwells in Brahman, which moves us towards Brahman.

Chandraghanta (third night)

She sports a moon and a bell. It is said that the beauty of a million moons is present in our own consciousness. And that uplifting consciousness, which holds and exhibits the beauty, is Chandraghanta. Do you know what happens when a bell is rung? Consciousness gets filled with that sound. All other thoughts and worries dissolve in the sound. You get into a blissful state. 

Kushmanda (fourth night)

She is a form of Devi who is a ball of energy. Whenever you experience a ball of energy within you, know that it is an aspect of Durga. Kushmanda also refers to pumpkin. This is because it is said to have the most prana among vegetables.

Skandmata (fifth night)

Skandmata represents proud motherhood. Skanda is a commander-in-chief.  The pride of a mother of a soldier is very different. Usually, motherhood comes with concerns for others but the Mother of Skanda has no worries because she knows her son will protect the planet.  So the love with confidence and pride in the quality of Skandamata.

Katyayini (sixth night)

There lived a sage. He had no desires as such. But when he was praying to the Mother Divine, she appeared and asked, “What do you want?” And he said, “I want you to be my daughter and have my surname.” So Katyayeni is mother divine assuming the surname of the devotee. Katyayeni is that power of Mother Divine who bestows all wishes and that consciousness that assumes your identity as its own, taking away all your limited identities. 

Kalratri (seventh night)

Devi Kalaratri is a fierce form of Devi. Kalaratri represents the dark night or dark energy. The night is also considered an aspect of Mother Divine as it is the night that brings solace, rest and comfort to our souls when we get a glimpse of infinity in the skies. 

Mahagauri (eighth night)

She is the beautiful and serene form of Durga, who gives momentum and freedom in life.

Siddhidhatri (ninth night)

Siddhidhatri is a giver of perfection.  A sense of achieving perfection or lack of it solidifies your ego, reflecting limited existence. When you feel you don’t have perfection, then you believe that Mother Divine is going to give it to you. Then, you come out of that lack. If you think you have attained some things in life by your own efforts, here again you realize Mother has gifted this to you. Just realizing this, you become one with the pure nature of the Self, consciousness of Mother Divine. So realizing perfection is not by our doing, but it is being bestowed to you is what Siddhidatri is about. 

Though Navratri is celebrated as the victory of good over evil, from the Vedantic point of view, the victory is of the absolute reality over the apparent duality.

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