Weekly Digest #28
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Science Saves the Day!
By: Mihir Rao
We all know that our world is normal, right? But with the emergence of new comics and shows like WandaVision have made us yearn for a world where powers would be the norm.. But sadly our world is bound by the stern laws of physics and we simply cannot get powers like that. …...Or can we?
The first power is a very good one, and many people want this power.. Invisibility is one of the most desired powers and I will explain how it works. Everyone knows without light, we can’t see anything, right? Well, to ‘see’ things, light needs to bounce off an object and hit your retina where it’s registered. This is for close things, and things that are far away. But what happens if light doesn’t bounce off the object? What if it just passes through as if the object was never there? Then you have invisibility. So, to have invisibility, you have to move faster than light.. Which brings me to my next superpower:
My articles are not the same without mentioning time travel at least once, so I will mention it here also, but in brief: Light, moves as fast as time. If you move at the speed of light, you move at the speed of time. 299 million metres per second. If you move faster than it, you move back in time.
This is very weird, because it creates a paradox. Paradoxes get very convoluted and you often end up more confused after thinking about it before you started, so I will not get into this one. Anyway, on to the next one:
Cloning may seem like another superpower, but actually scientists have achieved cloning! They cloned a sheep, called Dolly the cloned sheep. If you want, you can read about it. But, to all those who want to know what and how to clone living things, there is a process you have to go through: You have to take the egg cell of an animal, and replace its DNA and genetic material with the genetic material of the animal that you want to clone, and go through the rest normally. It may sound very confusing, but it is a very simple concept in essence. There are many ethical debates around this concept, which are worth exploring.
Now, we have one of my favourite types of powers and one which gods have:
Lightning Powers, Lightning Powers, or Electrokinesis, is the ability of being able to manipulate electricity. And with science, you can!
When lightning or any type of electricity is seen, it is seen because there is an imbalance in the force, Luke. Just kidding! But there is an imbalance in the charge. One object may be positively charged and one will be negatively charged, and to make them both neutral, electricity is seen. Of course, you can easily manipulate this, and maybe in the future, we will not need giant machines to do it.
All of this is fine, but isn’t it extremely fantastical? Isn’t it extremely far fetched to be thinking of doing these things? I mean, these are basically impossible! Moving at the speed of light? Manipulating Electricity? Isn’t that not possible? Well, this was true, even for the people who came before us. Moving from one side of the world to the other in the span of almost a day? Being able to write by just tapping your fingers on something? Being connected to people around the world with just a little thing in your pocket? These also seemed fantastical and impossible, but we achieved them all.
‘Never be afraid to reach for the stars..’
The Hill we Climb and the power of Amanda Gorman
By: Abhimanyu Rao
In all of our interviews, and as a part of Our Goal, we have reinstated the fact that children and young people are also capable of having opinions and changing the world. The recent US Presidential inauguration, is a perfect example of this. Even though it was a school night, my brother and I stayed up with our parents to watch the ceremony.
(photo credit: The Guardian)
This was a historic event in many ways - the oldest ever President, the first-ever female, South Asian, Black Vice-President. The venue was filled with stalwarts like former Presidents and popular music artists. Yet, there was one person who stood out from the crowd, and stole the show. It was the youth poet laureate, Ms. Amanda Gorman. The 22 year old former youth poet laureate of The United States recited a five-minute piece of literary perfection, “The Hill We Climb”, with a nuanced analysis of the pandemic, elections, and so much more. From lines about fighting for rights (“the norms and notions of what 'just is’ isn’t always justice”), to equality (“To compose a country committed to all cultures, colours, characters, and conditions of man”), and overcoming problems (“With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one”)
We have seen many young people step up and take a stand against injustice. Miss Amanda Gorman showed us how violence is not the only way to put your point forward. Her poem struck a chord in the hearts of the millions of people who were watching the American Presidential Inauguration. She used her voice and literary talent. She did what powerful world leaders have not managed in recent times - she offered hope to people through her powerful lines such as:
“So while once we asked,
‘How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
’ now we assert,
‘How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?” ,
She told us how overcoming and defeating the Coronavirus has helped us evolve as problem solvers, and taught us to remember that the darkest of tunnels end in the brightest of light. She also tackled Climate Change, without having to directly say she was addressing it-
“We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens.”
She then followed this message up with giving us yet another hill of hope by saying,
“If we merge mercy with might, and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy and change,
our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
With every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.”
Through these lines, she displayed her knowledge of a disaster not the same as the end. She told us how we need equal amounts of everything to truly get something great. She told us that even polar opposites like mercy, might, and right, we can create a world where everyone is loved. Gorman saying “While democracy can be temporarily delayed / It can never be permanently defeated” gains much more relevance in light of the insurrection at the US Capitol in the days that preceded the Inauguration. The USA is not alone in living a fear that democracy is at risk, and that hatred seems to be seeping into more and more hearts every day - we have seen the rise of intolerance across the globe. Her words are a signal to the world that the youth are aware citizens, that they know that freedoms like democracy cannot be quashed.
She has proved to not only us, but to the world- that children can change the world, and that our voices are meant to be heard. We at The Paperless Press strongly believe that children are the future, as they always will be, but are believed to lack the mental maturity to make important decisions.
To see so much poise, maturity, strength and grace in the words of someone so young enthralled the world. Many who heard her words said they had goosebumps as they watched the proceedings. Twitter erupted in joy with praises of this poet. The Guardian called her the voice of a New American Era.
Hillary Clinton tweeted that Gorman had promised to run for President in 2036 and had all her support. Does this not speak volumes about the clarity and hope this young woman exhibits? On a day that was meant to be all about healing a deeply divided nation in the midst of a frightening pandemic, Gorman’s words spoke to people all over the world. It felt as if she was conveying the sentiments of young people from every country. We who are dismayed by the current state of the world. We who hope and wish to make a change someday. She gave a voice to us. She weaved our thoughts, hopes and dreams into a tapestry of words.
Many young people with the most brilliant ideas are sometimes not taken seriously due to their age. All of you must have heard that children lose their imagination as they become adults, but doesn’t this mean that children can think of imaginative solutions. The Hill We Climb is an embodiment of the spirit of hope and not giving up. I marvel at the poet’s ability to convey so much depth in just a few pages. We at The Paperless Press would love to hear from you, your thoughts on the poem, as we applaud this Changemaker.
More about young changemakers in this week’s Happiness Quotient
Home Sweet Home- Should Homemakers receive salaries?
By: Agastya Rao
Our parents are our main support. They guide us, help us, teach us, feed us, clothe us and do so much more. They aren’t paid to do it, and whether it is a stay at home dad or stay at home mom, they still take care of us- without getting the recognition for it. In fact, being a homemaker isn’t even considered as an official job by ANY government. Now, is that even right?
What Homemakers do-
Our parents/guardians as homemakers do so much for us-
-They cook for us
-They teach us
-They help us
-They console us
-They are our friends
-They leave their careers behind to take care of us, in some cases. They balance the rigours of their career while giving their best to us.
- They manage domestic finances.
- They manage the home, supervise all repairs and maintenance.
- In many rural areas, they even carry out chores like carrying water to their homes, tilling their fields, looking after cattle, and much more.
The Supreme Court on homemakers’ salary
Last week, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India said that the notional income of homemakers must be calculated, based on their work and sacrifices. While this was in the context of an insurance compensation claim, Justices Ramana, Nazir and Surya Kant said that this would be in keeping with India’s obligations under international law as well as the principles of equality and dignity that form an integral part of our Constitution. Actor-turned-politician Mr Kamal Haasan as well as Member of Parliament Mr Shashi Tharoor also recently spoke out and said the State must recognise this unpaid labour and pay homemakers.
The concept of hidden labour
Many mothers work at offices and then when they come back home, they have taken the role of being homemakers and take care of the house, cook and help their children with their schoolwork.
In an article by the Economic Times, there was a story about Miss Indra Nooyi, the Former CEO of PepsiCo. They wrote that when she came home from work on the day she was made CEO, her mother asked her to go and get milk from the shop. When she replied that she was now the CEO of PepsiCo, her mother told her that at home she was not a CEO and that she had to take care of her family at home. She would have to leave her title of CEO outside the house before she came in. There is also the element of “hidden labour” of work that most women in a family perform, which is not only impossible to quantify, but also invisible. A report by the United Nations made an observation that women perform three out of four hours of all unpaid labour in the world. This is true even of countries that are considered developed, yet face a large gender gap.
It's not always just women who are homemakers
Even though the common stereotype says that women are always homemakers and have to stay at home and don’t have a job. This is completely wrong on all accounts and is very derogatory. This may have been true at one point of time long ago, but times have changed and now, there are even stay at home dads, one of them notably being Loki Madireddy from Masterchef Australia who was also a stay at home dad who would take care of his children at home, before he become a star chef.
Why they deserve to be paid
They work just as hard as any person who has an ‘official’ job. Like I said before, they still work for about 12 hours if not more in a day. They take up multiple jobs at once, from tutor to chef to driver- they really do everything. Without them, whole households will be unable to run and stay afloat, and this will in turn prevent people from going to their jobs, which will have dire effects on the rest of the country (ok that was a bit dramatic)! In any professional scenario, can one envisage labour being free or unpaid?
What do people think-
We interviewed some of our readers about this topic, and here is what they said-
Miss Kirti Ratnam, a Lawyer turned homemaker believes that, while women in the workforce have been fighting for equality for a long time now, the value of women who are not in the workforce (stay at home moms) has largely been ignored and is mostly undervalued. However, she is of the view that while the idea of giving them a salary is sweet but is not feasible for many reasons. Ms Ratnam went on to elaborate on these reasons, which we are adding in detail below.
“Firstly, I don’t think it is possible to quantify or put a number to the value of a woman’s contribution to her home/family. Even if this were possible, how would you account for the fact that one woman appears to do more than another? Who will judge if a woman is contributing sufficiently to her home? Or is she doing less than her share or double her share (especially in joint families etc) of the work? One maybe good at home economy and making money last a long time by ensuring very little wastage. Another may follow a use and throw policy. One mother may be great at helping with school work and maths problems, another may drive the children to and from classes. A different kind of mom may never see her children more than for a few mins a day because she is busy attending kitty parties and social events so she wakes up only after they go to school!
There are so many different kinds of stay at home moms. Will they all get the same salary? Will it only be for economically backward families?”
Ms Ratnam raised a fundamental question by asking what the idea behind the salary for stay at home moms was. She raised some pertinent questions that inspired us to research this issue further. “Is it merely to acknowledge that there is a huge contribution by the unpaid stay at home mothers? Is it to ensure that women/men who have to work because they can’t afford not to can actually stay home and take care of their children since this is in the best interest of the child? What about a woman who enjoys her career, but because of the government's salary, her family doesn’t allow her to go back to work? What funds will the state pay this salary from? Will they increase taxes to meet this salary amount?”
Former Professor and now homemaker Ms Mehak Bhan responded in true economist style. “What a wonderful and relevant issue .... salaries for homemakers - a subject that has confounded economists since at least 1929-33.... when the world experienced the Great Depression. Keeping it simple, and also keeping in mind that I am a full time mom and homemaker the simplistic answer would be an unequivocal ‘yes’ for salaries for homemakers.
But, a discussion means we need to scratch the surface and try to take a deeper peek ....who is to pay these salaries to the homemakers, is the “position” of housewives elective or coerced;
If we impute value to the work done by homemakers, then are they entitled to other perquisites of productively working adults outside home.... for example: overtime, sick leave, casual leave etc. Where does one draw the line?”
These are all valid points and once we go beyond the noble intention of the idea, we realise that these are practical aspects that cannot be ignored. Ms Bhan offered a solution to solving this conundrum. She suggests a change at the conceptual level, where societies and communities at large acknowledge the work done by homemakers , and give them due respect. She is optimistic in her belief that everything else- economic, political and even psychological and physiological shall flow from that very first step.
She concluded by remarking, ““Real Housewives” or not; the basic human requirement first and foremost is respect from others and self - respect from oneself.”
Ms Liz Mathew, Advocate, also finds herself in agreement with many of Ms Bhan’s suggestions. She adds that there must be an assessment in economic terms, of the contribution made by each adult in a household, towards domestic responsibilities. In the content of each household, there must also be an understanding of who should be paid thus, and this should be regardless of gender, purely on the basis of a consensus arrived at after discussions.
Ms Charu Kapoor is of the firm belief that homemakers should be paid a salary and not taken for granted, because of their unconditional and untiring work towards the smooth functioning of the house. She believes that this move may be considered a morale booster for their efforts.
Ms Ruchika Aggarwal, on the other hand, has a different opinion. She believes that housework for the benefit of a spouse, children, parents etc is done out of love, and this love is something that cannot be weighed or assigned a price.
Ms Astha Mohan, while calling this a fabulous initiative, also raised some pertinent questions, such as : Who will pay this salary? Is there an assumption that this is an understanding between spouses, and if yes, who will monitor the use of this salary by the right person?
The most interesting question Ms Mohan asked was whether grandparents should also get paid for babysitting their grandchildren?
Food for thought
We were grateful for the diverse views we received from so many of our respondents. We also believe that there is no “one size fits all” answer in this case. We are mindful of the fact that there are many people whose work (sometimes tiring and endless) goes unrewarded. We also believe that perhaps this would help in some form of economic independence for those who work tirelessly without a salary. What we are not sure of, is how this would be implemented practically. We have no answers, but we do have a request for all of you - do take out the time to appreciate everyone in your lives who works hard to make your life comfortable and happy.
On a lighter note - Anyone else who should be paid-( hint hint : children)
Lastly, don’t you think we are missing a certain set of people who should be paid for all they have done? Their talent knows no bounds, they eat, they study, they play, they help with chores in the house. They are...CHILDREN! Maybe we can be rewarded with the occasional bar of chocolate :)
By: Agastya Rao
1. Just like Abhimanyu writes in his article, change can be brought about by even the youngest of people. In England’s case, change came in the form of Lizzie, a nine year old student from London. She launched a petition to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to stop sending their plastic waste to developing countries. This petition has already received more than 70,000 signatures. Way to go Lizzie!
2.Sweden is one country that truly cares about its animals. It is even going the extra mile by making bridges to help reindeers, who have been having a tough time finding food due to forest fires and global warming. These bridges will help reindeers travel freely and safely across railway lines and roads in order to look for food. The bridges will be named renoducts- (Ren for Reindeers and Ducts for Viaducts). Thank you, Sweden!
3.How many of you watched the India Vs Australia Test series at the Gabba in Australia recently? Apart from the amazing run chases, and thrilling catches, there was one other highlight which would appeal to all Star Wars fans. A large number of fans came to watch the cricket match dressed up as characters from Star Wars. Most of them were dressed up as Storm Troopers, and a few were dressed up as Darth Vader. This must have definitely been a sight for sore eyes, because of all the Happy Tears!
4.A copy of one of the legendary paintings ‘Salvator Mundi’ by Leonardo DaVinci was discovered in Naples, Italy. This copy has been said to be made by one of DaVinci’s pupils. The original painting is said to have been sold for 450.3 Million Dollars. Even then, the copy has been a valuable find!
5.Remember when Donald Trump was trying to build a wall between the US and Mexico? Well, a see-saw for kids made by California based Architects has won the 2020 Beazley Design of the Year Award. This was installed in the gaps between the bars of the border. It was also made in collaboration with a Juarez Art Collective, called Colectivo Chopeke, and designed to show the connection between the two lands. Another example of unconventional art, just like I had written in Weekly Digest #19.
6. The Syrian Volunteer Rescue group, the White Helmets, have been awarded monetary donations of 920,000 Pounds by the American, British and Dutch Governments to help them manufacture PPE kits. The White Helmets were created in 2014 to help with rescuing people during the Syrian Civil War. We hope that the donations will help them!
7. A new British Training Programme for patients of Dementia has come up with a groundbreaking discovery. They have found that patients of Dementia have been able to remember things better with the help of everyday objects. This discovery shall surely help improve current research on Dementia.
By: Mihir Rao
1. Recently, China debuted a new high power maglev train which can run at astronomically high speeds. The train is capable of reaching speeds of about 620 kilometers per hour. It functions using high temperature superconducting power which makes it look like it is floating across the tracks.
2. In Argentina, the remains of a dinosaur were found. But they weren’t of any normal dinosaur. They were of a 98 million year old Titanosaur. But it doesn’t stop at that. The titanosaur whose fossils were found, was believed to be the world's largest creature ever, measuring up at 37 meters long!
3. In our galactic neighbourhood outside our solar system, a rocky exoplanet was found, which is called a Super-Earth. It’s called that because it’s 50% larger than our Earth and has triple the mass! Since it is extremely close to its star, it is a very hot planet. And I mean very hot. The surface temperature of the planet exceeds 1,700 Celsius.
4. Some time ago, Egypt discovered 50 new sarcophagi at the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo. The coffins are older than 2500 years, and it’s predicted that Saqqara has not revealed everything yet. But that’s not all. An ancient funerary temple was also found in Saqqara.
5. Crabs can regenerate their legs. If by chance their legs are cut off or lost, since the leg breaks off at a special joint, the leg starts to regenerate, but it doesn’t grow as big as the other legs of the crab.
Entertainment quotient for the week:
We Can be Heroes
B. Disney + Hotstar
By: Abhimanyu Rao
On Monday, the 11th of January, the Toronto Raptors lost to the Golden State Warriors in an exceptionally close game, with the final score as 106-105. On Tuesday, the Milluakee Bucks completely slayed the Orlando Magic with a whopping score of 121-99. Wednesday gave the Denver Nuggets a victory against Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday was the day the LA Clippers swept the floor with the Sacramento Kings. On Friday, two superstar teams, The Milwaukee Bucks and The LA Lakers, faced off in a grizzly battle, with the Lakers coming out on top, and Saturday was the day that The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Brooklyn Nets.
The Philadelphia 76ers now stand atop the table at number 1 in the Eastern Conference and the LA Lakers stand atop the Western Conference with a narrow one win lead.
Liverpool has lost their winning streak. They have had a streak of winning their last 21 home games, they recently lost their last home game, ending that streak for good.
India won the 2020-2021 Border-Gavaskar Test series between India and Australia. This is a historic and proud moment for India, as India had never won a game in Australia until the 2018-2019 series, and then have won for a second time. Hooray!
From the Literary World- Your Weekly Book Review
This week’s top book- The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
Video Book review #13- Reviewed by Mihir Rao
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