Feb 19, 2020 | Dr. Rajkumar Singh
The United States of America took a lion’s share of interest in Kashmir because New Delhi and Islamabad were face to fact on the issue. US policy makers are highly pragmatic, highly cynical. They believed that through an intelligent exploitation of the Pakistani card they can exercise pressure on India. India is democratic, and tolerant; a society that wished not to confront or attack US policies and also hopes to receive from it hitech technology transfers.
Regarding the “core” issue of Kashmir there is a wide gulf between New Delhi and Islamabad on the one hand and New Delhi-Washington on the other. Pakistan’s single minded and unchanging pursuit had been to oppose and damage India in whatever manner feasible. India insists that the access of Kashmir to India is final and irrevocable.
While the US, similar to Islamabad has maintained that it is a disputed territory. India asserts that Maharaja Hari Singh acceded to India of his own free will and that in any case he had the sovereign right to decide which domination he wished to join.
Original US views on Kashmir
There is a widely held view in the US, shared by the State Department that the accession took place under duress and at the very least needs to be revalidated by some sort of reference to the people. Pakistan had been famous, for the decades, as an ally of US, and eventually a frontline state in its crusade against communism.
The fallout of this on the Kashmir dispute was to distort each and every interpretation of events in Kashmir in a way that weakened India’s case at the UN and strengthened Pakistan’s. There is thus a well-founded backlog of distrust that has to be dispelled if the US is to be accepted as a mediator by the Indian public.
On several occasions the US has offered mediation and Pakistan sought Washington’s mediation/intervention in solving the problem. But New Delhi has been of the opinion that bilateral issues should not be solved through mediation of the third party. Coinciding with the Male meeting between Gujral and Sharif, in May 1997 reports from London and Washington spoke of Jammu and Kashmir being on the agenda of the Blair-Clinton talks.
The Beijing regime made extra loud promises of augmented military supplies during the Pakistani President’s visit to China. In an effort to patch-up the differences between India and Pakistan having accepted New Delhi’s position Clinton proposed a meeting with I.K. Gujral to be held during the UN General Assembly session.
Since Pakistan has long been insisting on US intervention in the Kashmir “dispute” the entire rescheduling appeared to be a ploy to hold some kind of a tripartite meeting of the heads of Government of three countries.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan, as a part of its strategy paid his four-day visit to China where he discussed the Kashmir issue with China, who has been carefully watching the Indo-Pak talks had expressed optimism that New Delhi and Islamabad would make unremitting efforts to seek a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue, thereby normalising bilateral relations.
US Presidential efforts
President Clinton, before his scheduled meeting with I. K. Gujral on 22 September 1997 laid stress on good Indo-Pak ties. He was also urged in a letter by Dan Burton, a Republican Congressman and other that his administration should devote “greater attention” to South Asia and help “facilitate a resolution of the Kashmir problem on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people”.
Clinton and Gujral had an extremely warm and cordial 30-minute-plus meeting that engendered a pleasantly amiable ambience for the discussions. The US President sought to remove India’s apprehensions by declaring that his country had no intention to interfere in its problems with Pakistan, an apparent reference to the Kashmir issue.
When asked to a specific query, a senior State Department official said the two leaders were aware of the sensitivities on the subject. He made it quite clear that the US was very careful not to interfere in any way in the outstanding issues India had with Pakistan, although the US strongly supported the Indo-Pak dialogue that was underway.
Washington made a fresh offer when Pakistan Foreign Minister visited USA, to assist India and Pakistan to resolve their differences but reaffirmed that it has “no intention to interfere” in the on-going bilateral dialogue.
The United States of America in an important decision branded the Harkat-ul-Ansar, the Pakistan based terrorist group promoting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. Hailing the decision as a “welcome recognition” of the ground realities in Jammu and Kashmir the External Affairs Ministry hoped that Washington would follow up the decision by recognising “the true nature” of other similar terrorist groups operating from Pakistan.
The Indian officials also felt that as a next logical step Pakistan should at least be returned to the US State Department’s watch-list of states which are believed to sponsor terrorism if not declare it a ‘rogue’ nation. In an Indo-US dialogue held in October 1997 the US Government acknowledged the seriousness of the problem of cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
Other supportive factors
Further in a fresh move Nawaz Sharif during his visit to China in February 1998 reiterated in familiar Pakistani stand on Kashmir and said Jammu and Kashmir was the primary cause of conflict between India and Pakistan. “It remains the flash point threatening regional peace and security.”
However, Pakistani premier failed to garner Beijing’s support against New Delhi and Kashmir issue never figured in any of the statements made by top Chinese leadership during the visit. Perhaps, Beijing was careful not to annoy India too much in the wake of renewed political and trade ties between Beijing and New Delhi after painstaking efforts from both sides.
Islamabad was mainly assisted by Beijing in the manufacturing of armaments as well as development of nuclear technology. Washington too, had been second to none in providing Pakistan’s defence system a strong footing.
Even today despite its efforts for disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation, US continued to be an important ally of Islamabad. The United States, even evades toreact when Beijing used to supply defence related equipments to Pakistan.
At present it is an established fact that Islamabad is being helped by China and USA, for the reasons, suited to each country. With active support of the Beijing, Pakistan is making serious efforts to tip its missiles with nuclear warheads and is building a missile factory. Chinese experts were working on guidance and control systems, solid fuel and M-11 missile variants. It had also trained Pakistani personnel on assembling and use of the M-11 missile.
In the series Pakistan test fired two missile systems—a surface-to-air missile named Azna and another anti-tank guided missile, Baktar Shikan at a firing range. Even earlier, in June 1997, Pakistan test fired its medium range surface-to-surface Hatf-III missile which reportedly had a range of nearly 800 kms. Although Pakistani spokesman in a statement said that they were a routine affair and it has no high military significance.
Author is head of Department of Political Science, B.N.Mandal University, Main Campus, Madhepura. Bihar
Indie Band Combines Zoom Technology and Choreography in Music Video – Variety
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted daily life all over the country, but Oakland, Calif. artist Thao Nguyen and her band, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, took the hardship as a challenge.
The group set to film a music video for their new single, “Phenom,” in Los Angeles (where Nguyen currently resides) in late March, but plans for the shoot were cancelled as fears over the spread of coronavirus forced a statewide statewide shelter-in-place order for California on Mar. 20.
Nguyen’s manager made the suggestion that they shoot an alternative using the popular video conferencing platform Zoom. By Wednesday, March 25, Thao had digitally convened with her team for what would serve as the video’s only pre-production meeting.
Directed by Erin Murray (Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX) and Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux (PUP, Calpurnia) and produced by Victoria Fayad (Moby), the video features Nguyen performing “Phenom” from home while a rotating supporting cast performs choreographed routines in individual Zoom windows.
Pieced together on March 29 over the course of nine hours, the video was cut and released to the public within 48 hours. Its brilliantly creative use of technology and choreography saw views for the video quadruple in the last couple days.
The track, which Nguyen says takes influence from the post-apocalyptic utopias of writers like Octavia Butler and Ursula Le Guin, is, in her words, a “direct descendant” of her A Man Alive track “Meticulous Bird.” “Phenom” is available to stream now and will appear on the band’s fifth studio album, Temple, due May 15 from Ribbon Music.
Watch the video below:
Magna Steyr, Honxin, Kautex Textron, TI Automotive, Yachiyo Industry – Northwest Trail
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How NYC public schools are shifting online during the coronavirus
An exterior view of Robert F Wagner Middle School after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City’s public school system will be shut down Monday March 16 as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 15, 2020 in New York City.
Cindy Ord | Getty Images
On March 6, New York City high school principal Matt Willie was already preparing for the worst. After watching a news report that said the city’s Department of Education was preparing to close public schools amid the coronavirus crisis, Willie texted his assistant principal: “Prepare for the apocalypse.”
Willie said his school, University Neighborhood High School on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, was about as prepared as he could hope, having started disaster prep about a week before the DOE gave its final judgement. During that time, Willie and his staff took inventory of in-school laptops, surveyed students about whether they had devices and internet connections at home (“just in case”) and had already distributed some laptops to students whose parents said they were no longer comfortable sending them to school.
But when the DOE finally announced school closures, staff still had to scramble. The decision came down on a Friday, upending the school’s plans to ask students to sign out laptops from their third-period teachers.
Instead, students who needed laptops came in on Saturday before the closure went into effect. They gave their information to a staff member across a 7-foot-long table to maintain social distancing, Willie said. Then, the staffer would retrieve a laptop and put it on a different table, where the student would pick it up and sign it out. In total, the school distributed 247 laptops, spanning roughly half its student population.
Students, administrators, teachers and parents across New York City are dealing with a hasty transition to remote learning as the country’s largest school district has simultaneously become the nation’s epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along the way, they’ve had to count laptops, fumble with muting group video calls and rewrite class schedules to fit around a computer screen. Interviews with parents and teachers across the school system revealed how students and staff are coping with the changes and the role technology plays in this new normal.
University Neighborhood High School Principal Matt Willie and Assistant Principals Rob Fox and and Kelly Powell served ice cream to teachers at the start of the school year prior to closures due to the coronavirus.
A device for every student
The first challenge for many schools has been making sure each student has access to an internet-connected device. At Harvest Collegiate High School near Manhattan’s Union Square, math teacher Julia Shube said about 50 of 450 students initially said they’d need a computer, but once it became clear the school would move to remote learning, that number doubled.
“Even if you have a computer at home, you might have three siblings and you’re going to end up vying for that computer at some point,” Willie said. When his school surveyed students, 85% said they had a computer at home but almost 70% said they would still like to sign out a computer if given the opportunity.
“That really signaled to us that we need to get ready to sign out every single one of our computers,” Willie said.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook interacts with Year 2 pupils in a classroom, during a visit to Woodberry Down Community Primary School in Harringay, north London, to view how the school, which is part of the New Wave Federation group of schools, had incorporated Apple’s iPad and related software into lesson plans.
Yui Mok | PA Images | Getty Images
To supplement the 175,000 devices schools have already given out, the DOE said it’s working with Apple and T-Mobile to provide LTE-enabled iPads to 300,000 public school students without access to devices for their school work. The agency said on its website it’s receiving about 50,000 iPads a week from Apple. Its partners at IBM then set them to get them connected to the internet and activate appropriate content filters.
As of the first week of April, some students have still not received their remote learning devices, according to the DOE’s timeline. The DOE said its first round of iPad shipments began the week of March 23, first to students living in shelters, then focused on those in foster care and high school. So far, 13,000 devices have been delivered to students in shelters, according to a DOE spokesperson.
Beginning Monday, the DOE will also focus on delivering to students who live in public housing, have disabilities or are multilingual learners. The DOE spokesperson said it will continue to deliver tens of thousands of devices a week until all requests are completed.
Once students have devices, they need to be able to get online. Charter Communications’ Spectrum offered free broadband and Wi-Fi to families with K-12 or college students in NYC for 60 days beginning in mid-March. But Willie found there were still a few students in his school who could not take advantage of the offer because they lived in rented rooms where they couldn’t access the landlord’s internet. For those students, Willie distributed smartphones the school had stored and instructed them to use them as hotspots.
Some schools were even ready to resort to pen and paper. At P.S. 103 in the Bronx, teachers began making hard copies of work students could do on their own, according to pre-K teacher Katherine Myers.
For Robert Schachter, a parent of an NYC public high school student and one in college, it was the non-technical tools that proved to be the biggest challenge.
“It was running to Walmart and buying two bridge tables,” said Schachter, whose family is camped out in Texas with his fiancee and her two kids. They bought a new printer and divided all corners of the house so they wouldn’t be distracted by each other’s Zoom calls.
Robert Schachter, a parent of an NYC public high school student and a college student, bought bridge tables so his kids could have space for remote learning while schools were closed due to the coronavirus.
Teaching over the internet
Once teachers and students have a way to connect to the internet, the next challenge is converting the classroom experience to a video conference.
Zoom has made its service free for many K-12 schools around the world and removed its 40-minute time limit on basic accounts. That’s made it an easy choice for many schools that hadn’t been used to video conferencing, though the service has come with its own set of privacy concerns, especially since it was built as an enterprise product, not an educational one.
But just because classes can convene over video chat doesn’t mean they’ll follow the same schedule as they did in the previous world. Four NYC public school teachers interviewed for this article said they find it most important to make sure their students are able to cope with the massive disruption to their lives.
At Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, the week is broken up between formal instruction and tutoring. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, teachers have planned to post pre-recorded lessons onto Google Classroom, a free platform where students can find and submit assignments as well as take quizzes. Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved for students to conference with teachers.
“It’s not the student that we’re planning for, it’s their family,” said math teacher Kirk Schneider. “We can’t tell them, ‘hey you need to be in math class at 10 or computer class at 11’ because we don’t know who they’re babysitting.”
If the high school had tried to make students show up at designated times, lower-performing students would “get lost in the flood,” Schneider said. Instead, he’s noticed some struggling students are actually thriving with the flexible schedule.
“There’s some kids that are struggling in the classroom, and they’re killing it. They just needed a quiet place, they needed their own learning styles,” Schneider said. “Now I have a way to reach the kids that don’t necessarily want me there in front of them teaching.”
Schneider said he tries to be careful about when he posts work so it doesn’t get buried on the page.
“We can’t give these kids any more road bumps,” he said. “I can’t imagine how difficult these kids’ lives are, I can’t make it harder.”
Shube, the high school math teacher, said some of her students are struggling keeping up with the influx of emails from assignments posted on the site, so she’s planning to do a lesson for her advisory students on how to organize their inboxes.
UniversalImagesGroup | Getty Images
It’s a whole different ball game for younger students, whose classes typically involve a lot more group interaction.
“I Zoom with small groups,” said Myers, the pre-K teacher. “They’re three and four — the mute button on Zoom? I mean, come on!”
Myers said she uses Zoom calls to let students socialize with each other, grouping together friends and letting them talk freely while checking in on how they’re feeling.
At the Castle Bridge School in Washington Heights, some parents asked teachers to open a Zoom meeting during lunchtime just so kids could chat with their friends, second and third grade teacher Liz Ciotti said.
The instructional portion has been a bit more challenging. Ciotti said her students have struggled to find math and reading assignments because they don’t know how to type on a keyboard.
“It has been quite ridiculous over the internet trying to tell a kid or a parent who hasn’t opened the internet in the past now open a window and a tab,” she said.
She’s also wary of posting YouTube videos to her Google Classroom page, concerned an educational clip could “open up an impossibly dangerous rabbit hole for kids to be clicking into.”
Myers uses ClassDojo to post videos of herself doing read-alouds, collect pictures of assignments and communicate with parents. She said she took home her classroom set-up and about 75 books when her school said to prepare not to come back. “If I didn’t have my books I would have had nothing,” she said.
Back to school
As teachers and families settle into remote learning, the question becomes: what will school look like when this is over?
“The one place I’m sort of heartened is this actually is sort of a longer-term fix,” said Karen Cator, CEO of nonprofit Digital Promise, referring to “the homework gap.” That’s what educators call the inequity between students who have access to internet-connected devices at home and those who don’t, which has had a noted impact on learning.
Cator, the former director of the office of educational technology at the U.S. Department of Education, said the current situation has made it “an imperative” for every student to have access to the internet in their homes.
Some teachers fear remote learning will convince students and parents that the rigid structure of physical school is no longer important.
“It feels like it would be hard to go back to being like, ‘you need to be here right on time’ after doing something like this,” said Shube.
Ciotti, the Washington Heights elementary school teacher, said she feared the switch to remote learning could eventually drive her out of a job.
“Part of me deep down was like oh my goodness, are we going to find out that teachers are not necessary?” she said. “But with all these great resources, you still need the teacher to guide the kids and put them in the right place and guide them through it, so that was a nice surprise, that I’m still needed.”
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