Four Seasons, Houthi rebels & more

 Musings by Shekhar Nambiar

Several parts of North India that saw a treacherous and severe winter this season, with temperatures hitting near zero beating even hill stations, are slowly reeling back to normal. And I am back, hopefully for good, from a hiatus!

Our next-door neighbour is yet again going through a tumultuous phase, politically. The court verdict to arrest Imran Khan and his wife has brought Pakistan back in the centre-stage of the world’s attention, not least due to its elections that are just round the corner. 

In the Middle East, the Hamas are looking at prospects of a pause, or lull, in fighting, but Iranian-backed Houthis have stepped up attacks on American and other commercial interests in the region. A drone attack has taken the lives of three US soldiers, prompting calls on President Biden to go after Iran and smoke the rebels out.

Big freeze in North India

Harsh winter 

First, the good news! 

The much-awaited western disturbance has struck in the past couple of days, ending what has been a freezing winter and a month’s dry spell. The wet weather has brought in its wake moisture that should help reduce the winter’s severity.

Also read: A Review of an Era

After suffering the biting cold in January, the likes of which even old-timers do not recall in a long, long time, India’s north is in for moderate weather and relief, until at least the scorching summer heat makes people scamper indoors.

Western disturbances typically build as low pressure ‘systems’ after originating near Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. It passes over the Mediterranean, Iran, Iraq, and then on to India laden with moisture during peak winter. It has been late in coming this season but is a welcome relief from the dry climes.

Severe cold and pollution, a deadly combination

It’s not the biting cold or the icy winds from across Tibet and over the high Himalayan ranges into the plains below that cause angst. The people in the plains have long taken the winter to be the inevitable fourth season with extreme cold conditions, which are also good for the rabi crops, tempting me to fondly remember Vivaldi’s evocative ‘Four Seasons’. The great musician’s composition, a part of which is on the cold winter, takes aficionados to stay indoors, relax, and be at peace and contented. 

Also read: Lessons still to learn

What makes the winters really harsh is the impact of pollution, smoke and environmental degradation. Call it climate change from manmade activities, leading to destruction of the ozone layer or the relentless onslaught on our forest cover, the day has come when we must sit up and take stock to try and reverse the process, if we have to prevent its brutal and deleterious effects on us.

Imran Khan and wife, in deep trouble

Pak military strikes

Pakistan’s defacto rulers, the military, has struck where it hurts most for Imran Khan and his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). In a case, ostensibly for leaking state secrets, Khan has been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Also read: Lest we forget the dakiya

This queers the pitch for a stage-managed and predictable parliamentary election that is merely a week away.

Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan with his daughter,biother and party colleague

The one beneficiary of it all – if you can call it that – is Nawaz Sharif, now in his mid-seventies and a former three-time PM. All charges against Sharif  have been cleared, including the lifetime ban on him having been deemed unconstitutional. This would pave the way for a possible fourth term for him as prime minister, of course with the blessings of the military.

Not that Sharif is ignorant of the ways of the generals, having been a victim twice before, once ousted and with another term cut short by a military coup.

Also read: Social literacy, education and life skills

This development is nothing new for Pakistan. Observers in India have seen this happen innumerable times in the last over 70 years. The military will never let go of its stranglehold over politics. There are far too many vested interests at play in a country where the military’s hold over politics and economy are total. The army’s control on land holdings, real estate, monopoly business and other such interests are all too well known.

Houthis rebels continue to attack US ships in red sea

Houthi attacks on US interests

In the turbulent Middle East, indications are that Hamas may call for a halt in hostilities as it struggles to keep up with the Israeli Defence Forces’ onslaught.

In the equally volatile Gulf waters and beyond, Hoothi rebels have intensified attacks in the Red Sea, including using drones, on American interests. The killing of three US servicemen has led to pressure on President Biden to retaliate against Iran for it overt and covert backing to the rebels operating in the region. But for now, he is not likely to precipitate matters by going for Iran as have previous US Administrations in the past.

Tailpiece

In a world bedevilled with despair and destruction, what better way to end this piece than to recall Shelly’s optimism with his beautiful line “And if winter comes can spring be far behind?”

Also read: Indian cities: The challenge and opportunity

Shekhar Nambiar
Shekhar Nambiar
Shekhar is a communications professional who has spent a good deal of time in international organizations and in the development sector. As he puts it, it's been an "exciting journey" for him, beginning his working life as a journalist, with some of the best editors and professionals, before venturing into public affairs and then forays in the private sector. He believes "every day brings new challenges, achievements and success, and the key is to play a small part in whatever it is that you're doing". He tries to keep pace with new tech, and learn a new word a day, of course, "Gen Z lingo!"

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