Saturday, 26 January 2013

Nelson Mandela’s Eventful Journey to Fame

When speaking of freedom fighters, a famous personality that comes to mind is Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Widely known for his human rights activism, Mandela is a holder of the Nobel Peace Prize as well as 250 other honorary awards and accolades that he received for his commendable human rights achievements in South Africa. Born and raised in Transkei, Nelson Mandela mainly grew up in the times of apartheid. 

Mandela can be chiefly credited with bringing about the apartheid’s end that took place in South Africa. Throughout his early life, Mandela actively participated in political organizations that opposed the white minority influence which had deprived black people of their social, economic and political rights. As a prominent member of the African National Congress whose aim was to fight for black people’s equality at that time and also a founder of his own Youth league, Mandela was at the center of this freedom movement. However, his human rights activism was not entirely without violence. He was also a guerrilla leader who was involved in an armed action at Sharpeville, shortly after which he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. 
Mandela is also the author of various books, one being his autobiography which he started writing while he was in prison. Even though he remained imprisoned for 26 years, he never ceased to motivate his followers with his immense devotion to his cause. As a result of which, his supporters vigorously rallied against his incarceration and promoted the slogan “Free Nelson Mandela” across the country. Even while in jail, Mandela continued to urge his disciples to “unite”, “mobilize” and “fight on” against the oppression of apartheid. The extent of his commitment to achieving equal rights for black people in South Africa was so great that he even provided free of cost legal counsel to those black Africans who could not otherwise hire an attorney to represent them. 
He was also the first black president of South Africa where once such an idea could not have been imagined. While in office, Mandela received immense international respect for not only establishing democracy in South Africa and harmonizing the country’s domestic issues but also for reconciling relations with other countries. Apart from his efforts towards achieving peace and encouraging education in South Africa, Mandela also fought hard against the AIDS crisis in his country during his presidency. His biggest achievement is not only his chief contribution in ending the apartheid but also his prominent social and human rights accomplishments which make Mandela deserving of all the international honors that he received. Two of the famous awards that he received, other than the Nobel Peace prize, are the Order of St. John from Queen Elizabeth II and the Presidential Medal of Freedom that he received from George W. Bush. 
Founded on Mandela’s vision and effort, the Nelson Mandela Foundation still successfully works today with the aim of upholding an egalitarian and democratic society. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund is another leading organization in South Africa whose purpose is to transform the society’s ideas and encourage positive treatment towards the youth. As a tribute to his cause, there is a Nelson Mandela Museum near his abode in Qunu and a stadium founded on his name in Port Elizabeths which can seat up to 46,500 spectators. 
Certainly, as a political activist, freedom fighter, lawyer and President, Nelson Mandela has contributed greatly to transforming not only South Africa but also inspired the whole world with his perception of egalitarianism. With so many awards and honorary degrees, he can rightly be called a famous and successful man who has benefited the world in numerous positive ways. 

Friday, 25 January 2013

Is India a Great Power Yet?

For over a decade, the world has noticed an increasing expansion in India’s economy and military which surely poses consequences not only for the region of South Asia but also for the rest of the world. India has been intent on climbing the ladder of Majors powers however there are many factors that legitimize the status of a Great Power for a state and for India; the first would be to attain domestic stability in its region.

Kenneth Waltz describes the criteria of a major power as a state that has the competence to influence other states to comply with it as well as be able to refuse to accept any undesirable influence of others. In the light of this definition, India does not fit the criteria of a Major power. For one, India is not capable of influencing others to comply with it. For example, despite being a Nuclear Weapon state, India has not been successful in pressurizing other states to isolate Pakistan, its biggest adversary in international politics as well as its bordering nuclear power neighbor. Nor has it acquired a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council which it has been aiming at for several years. It has also failed to single-handedly persuade the World Trade Organization in adopting its proposed trade terms.     
On one hand, while comparing India with major powers such as China, France, and U.S. and so on, we notice that India’s relative diplomatic influence through soft power or hard power as well as its economic and military strength are far less influential than those states mentioned, which clearly illustrates how limited India’s diplomatic influence is in the face of other competent major powers. Although, in the region of South Asia, India holds much leverage, if not fully over its neighbor, Pakistan, then certainly on the rest of the five South Asian States.
On the other hand, India’s own military strength, its diplomatic influence, technological capacity, governance, and social structure are still strong enough to resist most demands imposed on it by other major power states. However, there are many domestic challenges faced by India that still deprive it of the status of a Great Power. For instance, India’s population is more diverse and larger than those of United States, France, Germany, the UK, Central America and South America combined. Yet, it is a democracy which faces inevitable socioeconomic development challenges as well as a constant threat to its internal peace which emanates from the conflicts of diverse interest groups. 
India’s GDP was estimated to be $3,700 in 2011, which comparing to other major powers such as China, which is estimated at $8,400, is fairly less. A low GDP indicates practically less productivity and poor material welfare for a state’s citizens which can affect a state’s priorities regarding its domestic and international objectives. India’s ranking in Human Development Index, which measures citizens’ basic needs, is on 134th in the world whereas China is on 101st. Such factors also put states in a recipient position, for example for financial assistance from other states, rather than be a donor, which ultimately shapes their chances of achieving an influential status in global politics.    
Another challenge that emerges from India’s large diverse population is its difficulty in organizing the entire Indian population towards a uniform domestic agenda, which is a must in acquiring domestic stability in order to move on to deciding the direction to take in the international politics. India’s state capacity and political cohesion allow the large democracy to pursue their own creative interests through, of course, regulated politics. However, the divisions in the population caused by the diversity of caste, religion, ideology, economic class and so on, in the form of, for example interest groups, inhibit the possibility of a united direction for the whole nation.
A significantly large segment of India’s population (60%) which comprises of the poor inhabits its rural areas that survive on agricultural production only. In addition to a lack of primary education in such areas as well as a limited rural infrastructure, India’s potential economic growth seems direly inhibited. However, much of any economic growth that India has received has been in regions that are already developed and where literacy rate is high. India’s fiscal deficit also affects its defense spending in addition to its socioeconomic demands.    
In terms of its international trade, India only accounts for less than 1% of the world trade, which is relatively very low. However, India leads in many advanced technology sectors in the world such as the information and biotechnology sectors. Moreover, despite being one of the nine nuclear power states in the world, India cannot be considered free from the security challenges that it faces within country as well as from its western and Northern neighbors, Pakistan and China respectively. India spends 2.5% of its GDP (2006) but its security threats begin at home, including the Jammu and Kashmir issue it shares with Pakistan. Though it has one of the largest military in the world, its internal and political challenges have to be overcome before it can consider itself fully secure as a great power in the world. 
However, military strength, socioeconomic development or nuclear power status may not be all to influence a state’s international standing. Its strategic diplomacy, especially through soft power can account for a lot. India’s leadership, its strategic vision and international diplomacy have shown quite a fluctuation but have been ambitious in moving their international diplomatic direction towards achieving a great power status. This, of course, will only be possible once India’s own internal problems have been overcome enough to clarify its international objectives and achieve their effectiveness. 

Friday, 2 March 2012

How to Make a Laptop Sleeve/case.

I know I have not written in here in so long! I know my review on a Prisoner of Birth is also pending even though I finished it weeks ago. I suppose I should just write it tonight in addition to a review on this very funny movie that I watched last week. For now, I will just post a picture of a laptop sleeve that I made a few weeks ago and I've been using it for quite some time. It took me only half an hour to make it, using the things I randomly stumbled across in my house. My creativity got the better of me and voila! Below is a picture of it with my old laptop sitting on it. 

I padded it and lined it with a matching silk lining. I plan to pimp it up a little more with some flashy flowers or sequins soon. I'll try making a few more like these using different color combinations and post their pictures too. :) And perhaps if you want to know how I made them, I'll post a step by step guide too! 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Man goes through 8 Life Stages .. according to Erikson.

There have been many theories about man's life cycle and all the stages he goes through at different ages in his life. One such model is that of Erik Erikson and it outlines eight stages very precisely with their conflicts, struggle and possible solutions. I wrote an entire article explaining each stage with examples. Check it out.

Eight Life Stages that Man goes Through in Life. (< Click here to read.)

Eight Life Stages Man goes Through.

I know the image doesn't show the last stage. But it's there!  

Monday, 6 February 2012

A Prisoner of Birth.. & United States Most Wanted Criminal Jody Thompson's Prison Break.

Today I borrowed a novel from the library called A Prisoner of Birth written by Jeffrey Archer. It looks like an interesting book. Also, a couple of friends recommended it to me so I believe it shouldn't disappoint me. I plan to finish it within this week and I will definitely write a review on it. This book reminds of this incredibly remarkable documentary I once watched on the National Geographic channel. It was about this successful prison escape attempted by one of the most wanted criminals in the United States in 2005, named Jody Thompson. Below, you can see a picture of  the actual criminal. The documentary had an actor who I thought closely resembled Wentworth Miller from the show 'Prison Break' and for a long time I assumed perhaps the show was also inspired by this documentary. That is not so, though. 

Anyway, the documentary narrates the entire story in first person, of his incredibly creative and meticulous planning, his hypersensitive senses and quick thinking that lead him to use a furniture delivery truck to escape the prison! His is one of the prison escape success stories that are definitely worth a watch! I was so impressed by his luckiness on so many incidents and also his calm and laid-back manner in dealing with stressful situations at hand. Especially, how whenever the police chased, he managed to surprise even the trained and experienced officers by outsmarting and outmanoeuvring their collective planning single-handedly! I, actually, inwardly felt joy every time he skilfully dodged the police. The guy had a personality! 

When he was finally totally surrounded by the police and had absolutely no lucky chance of escaping any more, he was smart enough to surrender rather than risk getting shot. His surrender wasn't any less dramatic. He called 911 and told the operator that he was one of  the United States' most wanted criminals who was ready to surrender. Imagine the surprise for the operator! :D The following video is a short trailer of the documentary. If you are interested in watching the entire documentary, leave a comment below and I will post that link for you too. If you are an adventure-lover, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one! :D

And by the way, today I was forced to sit in a Media class with friends where I attended a lecture on News reporting. I'm glad I did though because it was kind of informative. I found out how the word NEWS was coined.. I always thought it originated from the word "new"; meaning something new that needs to be told, hence News. However, to my surprise it's an abbreviation for North, East, West and South. :o I'm really surprised I didn't know that! 
Anyway, if you have any comments about the novel 'A Prisoner of Birth' or the famous story of the prisoner, Jody Thompson, please feel free to use the form below! :)

And oh, if you like my blog, you're welcome to follow me on Google Connect friend or on my twitter account. (Links are given on the right side bar.) (:

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Cat's Eye. Childhood Bullying and its Scars..

Cat's Eye by Margaret
Cat's eye by Margaret Atwood is a great novel I once read back in High School because it was a part of my syllabus. This was one book in my syllabus that I actually finished and enjoyed reading so much. It's about this character named Elaine Risley and how she has a bully of a friend in her childhood named Cordelia who, being a subject of her father's criticism, victimizes Elaine and scars her for life. The novel continues describing Elaine recovery from all those scars caused by Cordelia through her catharsis in the form of her artwork, while also giving flashbacks of her childhood that led to them. It was an awesome novel that I'd love to read again but for the life of me I don't know where I've lost the book. Anyway, I would definitely recommend it to you if you are remotely interested in reading about psychology, psychosis, bullying, rain, nostalgia of the past and the feelings related to it. It's a beautifully written novel. Just do check it out! :D

If you've read this novel or plan to read it, do comment below to let me know. :) 

Education: Is it merely about teaching skills?

Following are a few insights into Education. Just what defines education? I wrote a few articles regarding it. Check them out :)

Is merely Teaching Skills Enough? (< Click here to read)

Is merely Teaching Skills Enough?

Why We Need a Value-Based Education System in Pakistan? (< Click here to read)

Why We Need a Value-Based Education System in Pakistan?

The Right to Primary Education in Pakistan: A Right or a Privilege? (< Click here to read)
The Right to Primary Education in Pakistan: A Right or a Privilege?

Please give your feedback. :)