ISSUE: What is Annular Solar Eclipse?
What is an annular solar eclipse?
An eclipse happens when the moon while orbiting the Earth, comes in between the sun and the Earth, due to which the moon blocks the sun’s light from reaching the Earth, causing an eclipse of the sun or a solar eclipse. There are three types of eclipses: one is a total solar eclipse, which is visible only from a small area on Earth. According to NASA, people who are able to view the total solar eclipse are in the centre of the moon’s shadow as and when it hits the Earth. A total solar eclipse happens when the sun, moon and Earth are in a direct line.
The second type of a solar eclipse is a partial solar, in which the shadow of the moon appears on a small part of the sun. The third kind is an annular solar eclipse, which happens when the moon is farthest from the Earth, which is why it seems smaller. In this type of an eclipse, the moon does not block the sun completely, but looks like a “dark disk on top of a larger sun-colored disk” forming a “ring of fire”.
Furthermore, during a solar eclipse the moon casts two shadows on the Earth, the first one is called the umbra, which gets smaller as it reaches the Earth. The second one is called the penumbra, which gets larger as it reaches the Earth. According to NASA, people standing in the umbra see a total eclipse and those standing in the penumbra see a partial eclipse. One of the reasons that NASA studies solar eclipses is to study the top layer of the sun called the corona. During an annular eclipse, NASA uses ground and space instruments to view this top layer when the sun’s glare is blocked by the moon.
Is it safe to view solar eclipses?
NASA maintains that the sun can be viewed safely using the naked eye only during a total eclipse, while during partial and annular solar eclipses, the sun should not be viewed without proper equipment and techniques. Not using proper methods and equipment for viewing can cause permanent eye damage or severe visual loss, it says. Safety equipment includes eclipse glasses and using appropriate solar filters for covering binoculars, telescopes and cameras.
ISSUE: E V RAMASAMY PERIYAR
Who was E V Ramasamy ‘Periyar’?
Born in 1879, Periyar is remembered for the Self Respect Movement to redeem the identity and self-respect of Tamils. He envisaged a Dravida homeland of Dravida Nadu, and launched a political party, Dravidar Kazhagam (DK).
Periyar started his political career as a Congress worker in his hometown Erode.
He quarrelled with Gandhi over the question of separate dining for Brahmin and non-Brahmin students at Gurukkulam, a Congress-sponsored school owned by nationalist leader V V S Iyer in Cheranmahadevi near Tirunelveli. At the request of parents, Iyer had provided separate dining for Brahmin students, which Periyar opposed.
Gandhi proposed a compromise, arguing that while it may not be a sin for a person not to dine with another, he would rather respect their scruples.
After failing to bend the Congress to his view, Periyar resigned from the party in 1925, and associated himself with the Justice Party and the Self Respect Movement, which opposed the dominance of Brahmins in social life, especially the bureaucracy.
The Justice Party had a decade earlier advocated reservation for non-Brahmins in the bureaucracy and, after coming to power in the Madras Presidency, issued an order to implement it.
Periyar’s fame spread beyond the Tamil region during the Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924, a mass movement to demand that lower caste persons be given the right to use a public path in front of the famous Vaikom temple.
Periyar took part in the agitation with his wife, and was arrested twice. He would later be referred to as Vaikom Veerar (Hero of Vaikom).
During the 1920s and 30s, Periyar combined social and political reform, and challenged the conservatism of the Congress and the mainstream national movement in the Tamil region.
He reconstructed the Tamil identity as an egalitarian ideal that was originally unpolluted by the caste system, and counterposed it against the Indian identity championed by the Congress.
He argued that caste was imported to the Tamil region by Aryan Brahmins, who spoke Sanskrit and came from Northern India.
In the 1930s, when the Congress Ministry imposed Hindi, he drew a parallel with the Aryanisation process, and claimed it was an attack on Tamil identity and self-respect. Under him, the Dravidian Movement became a struggle against caste and an assertion of Tamil national identity.
In the 1940s, Periyar launched Dravidar Kazhagam, which espoused an independent Dravida Nadu comprising Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Kannada speakers. The Dravidian linguistic family was the foundation on which he based his idea of a Dravida national identity.
These ideas had a seminal influence on the shaping of the political identity and culture of the Tamil speaking areas of Madras Presidency, and continue to resonate in present-day Tamil Nadu.
Periyar died in 1973 at the age of 94.’
What legacy did Periyar leave behind?
For the average Tamil, Periyar today is an ideology. He stands for a politics that foregrounded social equality, self-respect, and linguistic pride.
As a social reformer, he focused on social, cultural and gender inequalities, and his reform agenda questioned matters of faith, gender and tradition.
He asked people to be rational in their life choices. He argued that women needed to be independent, not mere child-bearers, and insisted that they be allowed an equal share in employment.
The Self Respect Movement that he led promoted weddings without rituals, and sanctioned property as well as divorce rights for women.
He appealed to people to give up the caste suffix in their names, and to not mention caste. He instituted inter-dining with food cooked by Dalits in public conferences in the 1930s.
Over the years, Periyar has transcended the political divide as well as the faultlines of religion and caste, and come to be revered as Thanthai Periyar, the father figure of modern Tamil Nadu.
The condemnation of the BJP’s derogatory references underlines the iconic status Periyar enjoys in Tamil Nadu. While caste discrimination continues to be prevalent in the state, every political party pays at least lip service to Periyar’s ideals of social and political justice.
ISSUE: PROBLEMS OF THE INDIAN ECONOMY
India’s economy is now spiraling downwards, and there is an urgent need for corrective action.
From 2004, India got used to being referred to as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and indeed, it was, for a few years, among three or four of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
If we take the latest official growth rate figure of 4.5 per cent released by the government, and insert this in the chart of all countries’ growth rates for 2019 constructed by the IMF, India is no longer in the top three or four.
In fact, it is not in the top 30 or 40. This is an alarming drop in rank. Further, the nation’s investment-to-GDP ratio is declining, and non-oil exports are actually shrinking.
One strong indicator of the overall growth slowdown is electricity generation. Electricity generation growth is now lowest in at least three decades. It is even lower than what happened during the big economic crisis of 1991. In October this year, electricity output contracted by 12.2 per cent.
Between 2011-12 and 2017-18, the percentage of people living below the poverty line has actually increased from 31 per cent to 35 per cent. This is very unusual since India has been, for quite some time, on a trajectory of high, but diminishing poverty.
Between 2011-12 and 2017-18, for Indians living in rural areas (a vast majority), consumption has not just slowed down, but fallen. On a per capita basis, people are now consuming 8.8 per cent less than what they were doing five years ago.
Credit Suisse has recently published data showing that in 2018, the richest 1 per cent Indians owned 53 per cent of all the wealth in the country. The government’s official data, released as part of the Periodic Labour Force Survey Report 2017-18, shows that the country’s unemployment rate has not been this high in 45 years.
Since unemployment disproportionately hurts the poor, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing; and not just that, the rural poor are actually becoming poorer.
WHAT COULD BE DONE?
As a short-run measure, we have to use and even strengthen some instruments of intervention that we already have in hand, such as the rural employment guarantee programme, so that the immediate hardship of those worst hit by the crisis is ameliorated.
This has to be backed up with fiscal and monetary policies to revive growth and spread it better. For this, the main need is not money, but ideas and intelligent policy design, which have been in short supply.
There is enough talent residing in India that can fill this gap in government. But to draw in talent we have to allow for dissenting opinion, which in recent times has been anathema.