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Weekly Digest #62

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

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-Cover Story-



Whale Hunting: Tradition Vs Modernity -Part 1

By Abhimanyu Rao


The world has experienced significant progress in almost all aspects of life, however, there are some aspects that are still significantly lacking. One of those lacking aspects is traditions, since several of these traditions have not changed to fit with the times. These include the Faroe Islands whaling tradition, and China’s Dog Festival. These traditional events are very controversial today, where conservation has been held at the top of the world’s priority lists.


I understand that this is a very polarising topic, and therefore, I am being even more mindful of the fact that I need to be impartial in this article. I will begin with a general set of arguments both for and against these traditions, and then dive deep into a few examples. Lastly, I would like to emphasise on the fact that I do not mean to offend anyone with this article.


1-The traditions should remain!


The most important argument in favour of these traditions is that they are an essential part of any community’s culture and history, and that taking them away, or banning them is ruining the history of the community, and no one should be allowed to do that. These traditions are all important to people, and they should be allowed to exist as a sacred part of people’s lives. Let us consider the fact that Faroese people consider grindadráp or the hunting of pilot whales, as a part of their cultural heritage. In the spirit of accepting that the world is diverse and is made up of cultures and traditions that change more than there are changes in landscape, the case for continuing with such traditions may appear to be strong.


Labelling some traditions as “harmful” is offensive to those traditions, and the people who follow them. This is again attacking culture, whether or not that is the intention of people who are against these traditions. The argument is often made that it is such age-old traditions that keep communities together, or differentiates them from others, thereby contributing to their sense of identity, in changing times. However, it is equally important to be able to initiate a dialogue and for both sides of any such debate to be heard and represented.



A very important argument propounded by supporters of grindadráp is that the Faroe Islands do not possess land that supports agriculture, and fishing and related activities are the only accessible source of food. Their claim is that this activity is carried out in a sustainable manner, and that it is but natural for the food chain to be followed.


Another argument is that this practise is more humane than regular animal husbandry; and if someone has an in-principle opposition to killing animals, then they must oppose all such activities.

2-Down with such traditions!

There are several arguments for why the traditions need to go, and I will cover all of them now.



Firstly, these traditions were made in a completely different time, when many of today’s concerns didn’t matter, like global warming, or endangerment of species. It was a time when activities like hunting were the most predominant (and essential) for survival. Humans also perceived the role of animals in a very different light, and not the way we do today!


The argument that the Faroe Islands are geographically isolated and must depend on such hunts for food, is not valid in today’s scenario. There was a time when the geographical location was a hindrance to access to food, but better connectivity has ensured that the Faroese do have access to food items from other parts of the world, thereby ensuring that these hunts are not the sole source of food. Furthermore, these traditions don’t just exist in isolation without having an impact on others, but some of them also harm the environment. This September in The Faroe Islands, the shore was practically drowned in obscenely large pools of blood from dolphins that they had hunted. I will discuss the details of the tradition shortly, but the gist is that the Faroe Islands have a tradition of hunting aquatic mammals.

Secondly, it would be ignorant to say that traditions are just traditions, and that we cannot do anything about them. These are no more than a cruel relic of the past. The fault doesn’t lie with the people who made the tradition –the time when they began the activity was very different from today’s environment and societal structure. However, the rigidity of people is really at fault, since these traditions can actively harm the environment.

Check back in Weekly Digest #63 for the verdict, on whether this is right or not!

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By: Agastya Rao

1. An Indian has won Prince William’s Earthshot Prize. The group called Takachar won the prize along with 1 Million Pounds in the Air Pollution category. Their invention converts the crop remnants into bio products which can then be sold. This also decreases the air pollution by a whopping 98%. Interestingly another finalist in this category was an Indian, where a 14 year old girl from Tamil Nadu had invented an ingenious solar powered ironing cart. It is these kinds of inventions and initiatives that will save our planet!

2. Palm trees and Florida go hand in hand. When you think of one of them, you think of the other. However, these Palm trees are being removed from Florida, but for a good cause. Now, you must be thinking that cutting trees is terrible, and they shouldn’t be doing it. Well, before anyone jumps to any conclusions they are actually replacing these palm trees with other trees. This is because Palm trees do not provide any shade or help cool the planet which means they aren’t particularly climate friendly/helpful. So its a good thing that these trees are being replaced with ones that are more climate friendly!

3. This is good news on the Covid-19 vaccine side of things for children living in the USA. Pfizer shall be meeting with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to seek approval of their Covid-19 Vaccine aged between 5-11. This vaccine has been reported to have a 90% efficiency! This vaccine is already on its way to the history books, as if its approved it will become the first ever vaccine for young children (below the age of 12)

4. A landmark legislation has been passed in New Zealand. This law requires financial companies to disclose the impact of climate change on their business. NZ continues to lead the world in climate related initiatives.

5. Major retailers like Amazon and IDEA pledged to switch their freight to zero carbon vessels by 2040. We applaud this much needed move, but hope this happens earlier than 2040.


By: Mihir Rao


1 . NASA is launching an uncrewed flight to the Moon! What’s so special about this? Well, the flight which is supposed to take place in 2022 will slowly set up more missions to the Moon, some even with crew on board! A series of tests would be carried out till February 2022, and if the dress rehearsal goes well, then a date for the launch can be set.


2 . Even though Jupiter is the biggest planet in our system, its gravitational pull is also very high. This results in it taking a beating from many asteroids which pass by it, and just recently, an asteroid impact was recorded on the planet’s surface. The impact lasted for about 4 seconds, and if this impact is confirmed, then it will be the ninth recorded impact on Jupiter since the first in 1994!


3 . Let’s be honest, fossils trapped in amber are really cool. But recently, a tiny crab was found preserved in a hundred million year old amber! The fascinating part about this is that the crab was preserved whole! Not a single limb or hair is missing from the crab. Scans also revealed detailed body parts like the antennae and gills!


4. Concrete is used in flood barriers, but it has some side effects: Firstly, it makes the surrounding water become alkaline, to the point when fish cannot survive. Secondly, a material used in it is responsible for roughly 8% of the world’s carbon emissions! So, a new startup tried to tackle this and introduced their concrete, which has reduced amounts of harmful material, and can double the amount of biodiversity in the water, compared to normal concrete!


5 . Picasso paintings were auctioned for nearly 110 million dollars in a Las Vegas Auction! MGM said that this was one of the most significant fine-art sales to ever take place in Las Vegas! The star piece in the auction was ‘Femme au béret rouge-orange’, translated to ‘Woman in reddish orange hat’. The piece sold for a whopping 40 million, surpassing the estimated sale price between 20 and 30 million dollars.





By: Agastya Rao


1. On 23rd October 2001, one of the most revolutionary devices of its time was released- the first ever Apple Ipod. These portable music players have gone on to sell more than 400 MILLION ipods since its release.


2. On 22nd October in 2008 ISRO (India’s Space agency) launched Chandrayaan-1 which was India’s first Lunar probe to space. It is best known for finding water in the Moon’s atmosphere.




From the literary world: Your weekly book recommendation

By: Abhimanyu Rao







Entertainment quotient for the week:


Netflix

  • Maya and the Three

Disney+

  • Running wild with Bear Grylls


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