According to UNICEF’s “Children Displaced in a Changing Climate” report, 43 million children have been forced to leave their homes because of extreme weather events between 2016 and 2021. The report has predicted that 100 million more children will be displaced over the next 30 years due to climate change. UNICEF has stated that:
• More needs to be done to help children affected by climate change.
• 95% of the children displaced were due to floods and storms.
• Two million children were displaced due to droughts and wild-fires.
• The highest number of children displaced were recorded from China and the Philippines.
The report has asked governments to protect children from the adverse effects of climate change, help them prepare to deal with climate change, increase participation of children in conversations about climate change, and give priority to children and young people when preparing action plans.
UNICEF is an organisation that works to help children around the world.
Have you felt the effects of climate change where you live?
The ISRO released pictures of the Gaganyaan spacecraft, which will take humans to space in 2025. The Gaganyaan project plans to take a crew of 2-3 members to a circular orbit of 400 km around the Earth for a one to three days mission and bring them back safely to the Earth.
The space agency also successfully launched its unmanned test flight for its first human spaceflight mission – ‘Gaganyaan’ – in the second attempt on October 21. The test was conducted to check whether the crew could safely escape the rocket in case it malfunctioned. Since the first test was successful, ISRO will send a humanoid – a robot that resembles a human – in an unmanned Gaganyaan spacecraft in 2024.
Did You Know?
If this mission succeeds, India will become only the fourth country to send a human into space after the Soviet Union, the US, and China.
Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian astronaut who went to space in 1984, where he spent 21 days and 40 minutes on a Russian spacecraft.
Diwali is the biggest and most important religious festival in India. It is not only a Hindu festival, but it is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains. Diwali, the festival of lights, symbolises the ‘victory of light over darkness’, ‘knowledge over ignorance’, and ‘good over evil’. This year, Diwali will be celebrated on November 12, 2023.
Diwali is celebrated every year and marks the start of the Hindu New Year. Diwali usually falls within the Hindu lunar calendar month of Karthik and it falls on Amavasva, which means moonless night. The exact date varies each year as the Hindu calendar is based on the Moon.
How is Diwali Celebrated?
Diwali celebrations are spread over five days. On each day certain specific rites and rituals are performed and a specific god or goddess is worshipped. However, the common traditions are cleaning one’s homes and workspaces, decorating these with lamps and flowers, and making rangolis.
Meaning Of Diwali
The word Diwali or Deepavali means “row of lights” in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language. Diwali is known as the ‘festival of lights’ because houses, shops, and public places are decorated with small oil lamps called ‘diyas.
Did You Know?
Diwali is an official national holiday in many countries like Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, Ma-KNOW? laysia, Singapore, Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
The Festival of Lights has many legends and lore associated with it. There is no single story behind the origin of this festival. Even though there are many stories and historical narratives behind this festival, they all ultimately represent the victory of good over evil.
The most commonly associated story with the celebration of this festival, especially in north and west India, is from the Hindu epic Ramayana. According to Hindu mythology, Diwali is celebrated on the day Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and brother Lakshmana returned to their home in Ayodhya after 14 years in exile and after defeating the evil king Ravana.
When Rama, Sita, and Lakshman returned from Lanka at night, villagers lit rows of oil lamps along the streets to guide them home. These lamps are known as diyas or divas. Through this, the festival of Diwali was born. To this day, people celebrate Diwali by lighting diyas or candles in their homes – a true festival of light.
The Birth Of Goddess Lakshmi
Many people honour the Hindu goddess of wealth, Lakshmi during Diwali. The lights and lamps are said to help Goddess Lakshmi find her way into peoples’ homes, bringing prosperity in the coming year! The story goes that Goddess Lakshmi was provoked by God Indra to leave the divine world and enter the Milky Ocean. Without her, the world turned dark. After churning the milky ocean for 1,000 years, Goddess Lakshmi was reborn and once again brought her blessings of good fortune. Many people believe that Diwali is the celebration that marks Lakshmi’s wedding with Vishnu.
The Victory Of God Krishna
In south India, Diwali commemorates the victory of the god Krishna over the demon king Narakasura. Once the demon was killed, Lord Krishna called for a day of festivities. This day of festivity is called Naraka Chaturdashi and is celebrated the day before Diwali. Some regions of India burn effigies of the demon to celebrate Diwali.
The Story Of Mahavir’s Enlightenment
In Jainism, Diwali commemorates the anniversary of Lord Mahavir’s attainment of moksha, or freedom from the cycle of reincarnation, in 527 BC. Lord Mahavir was the 24th and last Thirtankar of Jainism (spiritual leader). First referred to in Jain scriptures as dipalikaya or light leaving the body, Jains believe that the Earth and the heavens were illuminated with lamps to mark the occasion of Lord Mahavir’s enlightenment. Jain’s light lamps on Diwali to symbolise keeping the light of Lord Mahavir’s knowledge alive and sweets are also distributed.
Bandi Chhor Diwas
For Sikhs, Diwali is significant because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619. Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was being held by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir with 52 princes. Sikhs call Diwali as Bandi Chhor Diwas, meaning the day of liberation.
Sikhs celebrated the return of Guru Hargobind by lighting the Golden Temple in Amritsar with diyas and this tradition continues today.
People living in the Indian states of West Bengal and Assam celebrate Diwali as Kali Puja. Goddess Kali is worshipped. People believe that she destroys all evil. Lamps are lit in her honour, and in return, she promises a renewal of life and justice on earth.
The Legend Of Bali
The powerful King Bali ruled over the netherworld, Earth, and heavens. All the gods feared him so much that they sent Lord Vishnu to get rid of him. Lord Vishnu took the form of a dwarf and appeared before Bali. He asked him that he be granted control of all the land which he could cover in 3 paces. Because of the dwarf’s small stature, Bali granted this request, and it was then that Vishnu grew to enormous proportions, covered all Bali’s kingdom in two paces, and with the third pace stomped him down into the netherworld. However, Vishnu granted Bali the right to return to earth for one day each year, and it is thus that Bali is celebrated during Diwali alongside other legendary figures.
The End Of The Pandava’s Exile
The Mahabharata is an ancient Indian epic. When the five Pandava brothers returned to their kingdom from their exile it was on the dark and moonless night of Kartika Amavasya. To celebrate their return the people of their kingdom lit innumerable earthen lamps to welcome them home. Later, lighting earthen lamps also became a vital part of celebrating Diwali. The 5 Pandavas, namely – Yudhishthira, Bhima, Ariuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva, had lost everything they had in a game of dice (gambling) playing against Kauravas. When they were left with nothing to bet, they were punished with 12 years of exile. During these 12 years, Pandavas lived in hardship.
In a surprise attack on October 7, Hamas launched thousands of rockets from Gaza at Israel. Simultaneously, hundreds of armed Hamas fighters crossed the border into Israel. The attacks by Hamas targeted civilians as well as soldiers. Hamas has also taken more than 100 hostages. Israel responded with air strikes into Gaza, saying it was targeting militant sites. The whole of Gaza is surrounded by a wall, so people living there have no way of escaping the air strikes.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis they are going into a “long and difficult war”. The Israeli Prime Minister called up reserve forces, and Israel began working to make its borders stronger.
Israel has cut off the supply of water, electricity and fuel into Gaza, in order to force the return of the hostages. The United Nations has called for Israel to allow essentials like food, fuel and medical supplies to be delivered in Gaza. It has also called for all hostages to be released.
As on the date of printing this Issue, Egypt had briefly opened its border with Gaza allowing some trucks to take food, medicine, and water into Gaza.
Did You Know?
Under international law: It is illegal to take hostages.
Punishing innocent civilians for the actions of others is also a war crime called collective punishment.
Israel is a country in the Middle East and was established in 1948 as a homeland for Jews, after World War II. The area where Israel is now used to be called “Palestine”.
Palestine is a region in the Middle East, lying between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. In 1948, most of Palestine became part of the country of Israel.
The Palestine Liberation Organization
The people of Palestine were represented by a group called the Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”). Israel and PLO signed an agreement in 1993 after secret talks in Oslo, Norway. Israel agreed to hand over the control of Gaza and other territories to Palestine. Palestinian Authority was formed to rule over Palestinian territories. The last Israelis left the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Harakat al-Mugawama al-Islamiya, popularly known as Hamas, was formed in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian refugee living in Gaza, during the first uprising, which was marked by widespread protests against Israel’s oc-cupation. Hamas came to power in 2007 and has fought many wars with Israel as it did not want peace with Israel. Hamas has been classified a terrorist organisation by many countries, including the US, UK, EU, and Israel. Hamas is supported by Iran.
As on date, Hamas rules the Gaza strip. Hamas does not recognise the right of Israel to exist and has declared that it wants to destroy the country.
Ever since the establishment of Israel, Israel, Palestine and the neighbouring Arab countries have been fighting over the ownership of the land. This conflict is not new. It has been going on for 100 years. Both Jews and Palestinian Arabs claim the land as their ancestral home.
The conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians are complicated. It is mostly about land and religion. The Palestinians are Muslim, and most Israelis are Jewish. The two sides are not able to agree on a number of issues including what should happen to Palestinian refugees and whether a Palestinian state should be created alongside Israel.
What Is The GAZA Strip?
Gaza strip is an area of Palestine land. It is 41 km long and 10 km wide and situated between Israel and Egypt, where many Palestinians moved when Israel was es-tablished. It is one of the most densely populated regions in the world. Around 2.3 million people live in this densely populated territory.
Gaza strip is one of the two Palestinian territories, which is currently controlled by Hamas. Israel controls the airspace over Gaza and its shoreline and restricts who and what goods are allowed in and out. Similar-ly, Egypt controls who passes in and out through its boundary with Gaza.
History Of The Gaza Strip
Until 1917, Palestine (which included the territory of the Gaza Strip) was a part of the Ottoman Empire. After the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I, the UK took control of Palestine (which included the Gaza Strip). It was then occupied by Britain from 1918 to 1948. A majority of Arabs and a minority of Jews lived in the region, along with many other smaller ethnic groups.
During the time period between 1922-1947, Britain supported efforts to make a home for the Jewish people in Palestine. At that time many Jews were fleeing. Europe and came to Palestine to escape the persecution of the Nazis.
In 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. This plan was rejected by the Arab leaders but accepted by the Jewish leaders. However, it was not implemented.
The British authorities were not able to resolve the fight, so they withdrew from Palestine. The Jewish leaders then announced the establishment of Israel in 1948. Immediately, a war broke out between Israel and the neighbouring Arab countries including Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The war resulted in Israel increasing its territory to include more than three-quarters of Palestine. More than half of the Palestine population were forced to leave their homes. The Palestinians call this time period as “Nakba”, meaning catastrophe. Subsequently, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip from 1948 to 1967. In 1949, Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement. This agreement set the present boundaries of the territory, which became known as the Gaza Strip.
How big is Gaza?
Gaza Stripe and Israel
After another war in 1967, between Israel and the Arab coun tries of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, Israel captured the Gaza Strip, Palestinian part of the city of Jerusalem, and the West Bank. Together these areas are called the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Israelis quickly started building settlements in the area. Their goal was to solidify their control over the area. To protect the settlers, troops were dispatched to the area by Israel. The Palestinians were not happy about these Israeli settlements. They fought with the Israeli troops in Gaza.
Gaza remained under the control of Israel for 38 years. Even though in 2005, Israel pulled out of Gaza, Israel’s huge security wall surrounds most of it. This security wall is around Palestinian areas and controls what goods can go in and out. Egypt controls the western border of Gaza. People cannot leave Gaza without a permit from Israel or Egypt.
What have The World Leaders Said?
US President Joe Biden says his country’s support for Israel is “rock solid and unwavering”. Mr Biden has condemned Hamas’ actions as “evil” and said the US would boost military aid to Israel.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has pledged “steadfast support to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Indian On The Israel-Hamas Conflict
After the attacks on Israel, India has completed a number of successful missions, called “Operation Ajay” to bring back its citizens that were stranded in war hit Israel. India has also sent a huge amount of humanitarian aid to Palestine.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said terrorism anywhere in the world and in any form is against humanity and has emphasised that it is time for peace and brotherhood and to move forward while walking together.
Timeline Of Key Events
Early 16th Century: The Ottoman Empire controlled part of the Middle East, including Palestine.
1917: The British army occupied Palestine.The then foreign secretary of the UK signs a document known as the Balfour Declaration, which promises a homeland for the Jews in Palestine.
1933: Many Jews fled to Palestine to escape the Nazis.
1947: The UN passed a resolution proposing the partition of Palestine into two independent states -the Arab state and a Jewish state.
1948: The British withdrew from Palestine and Israel declared independence. Immediately, a coalition of Arab con-tries, including Palestinian factions, attacked Israel. Israel increases its territory by seizing more Palestinian land. Egypt occupies Gaza.
1967: Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
1987: First large Palestinian uprising against Israel in Gaza and West Bank.
1988: Palestine declared independence
1993: A peace accord is signed between Israel and the PLO.
2002: Israel started building a wall around Palestinian areas.