Never waste a good crisis – especially when it comes to green energy

by Rashmee

Posted on May 30, 2020 / The Focus


On 26 May, French president Emmanuel Macron launched an €8 billion plan to rescue the French car industry, even as he sought to turn his country into Europe’s biggest producer of electric and hybrid vehicles. It was a bold move to both invest in growth and intensify the fight against climate change via green energy. … Continue reading “Never waste a good crisis – especially when it comes to green energy”

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Isn’t it premature, this attempt to capture how we dealt with the pandemic?

by Rashmee

Posted on May 28, 2020


The New York Times reports that several museums across the United States “have begun recording this moment of collective uncertainty in the country’s war against the coronavirus”. What that means is we’re trying to capture a moment in time even as we live through it. How valid will that be? The Times’ piece notes that … Continue reading “Isn’t it premature, this attempt to capture how we dealt with the pandemic?”

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SpaceX launch: Beacon or bad omen?

by Rashmee

Posted on May 27, 2020 / The Focus


NASA’s first manned flight since 2011 is being advertised as America’s hopeful return to space, to boldly go where no man has before. Is it really? Yes and no. Wednesday’s launch to the International Space Station, nine years after the end of the space shuttle programme, is definitely a milestone. Those nine years were the … Continue reading “SpaceX launch: Beacon or bad omen?”

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Qatar’s 2017 airlift of cows in the context of the coronavirus-induced backlash against globalisation

by Rashmee

Posted on May 26, 2020


When analysts write about a coronavirus-induced backlash against globalisation and its sprawling supply chains, I think of Qatar’s 2017 airlift of cows. It was a remarkable operation, often described as the largest airlift of cattle in history. And it sounded farfetched, this attempt to create a Wisconsin in the Arabian desert. But in July 2017, … Continue reading “Qatar’s 2017 airlift of cows in the context of the coronavirus-induced backlash against globalisation”

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Eid under lockdown: Art for the interminable now, the pandemic era

by Rashmee

Posted on May 25, 2020


  The painting made its way around the locked-down world’s usual, no-touch channels of communication. There was Twitter, of course, but also WhatsApp, where people forwarded a picture of the painting to each other as an Eid greeting. It seemed to capture the moment. Of nearly two billion Muslims in the world, it is only … Continue reading “Eid under lockdown: Art for the interminable now, the pandemic era”

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Recipe for restaurant survival in a pandemic

by Rashmee

Posted on May 24, 2020


Tony Cecchini, who owns two bar-restaurants in Brooklyn, NY (and is incidentally credited with having invented the Cosmopolitan), says social distancing will be “a death sentence” to his business. “That would give me four lonely seats across the entire run of each of my bars, with guests dotted here and there slipping their masks down … Continue reading “Recipe for restaurant survival in a pandemic”

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Lessons from the sub-Saharan past on how to deal with pandemics

by Rashmee

Posted on May 23, 2020


Ever wondered how humans in Africa hundreds of years ago protected themselves from pandemics? The BBC World Service’s ‘Science in Action’ programme offered an answer, in a fascinating conversation with Professor Shadreck Chirikure, Head of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Cape Town. Communities practised social distancing, the Professor said, by dispersing settlements, … Continue reading “Lessons from the sub-Saharan past on how to deal with pandemics”

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Baklava, frites, wine, cannabis, guns. The pandemic classified them as essentials but they’re indulgences

by Rashmee

Posted on May 22, 2020


In Turkey, baklava-makers were deemed essential workers during the coronavirus lockdown because Turks like to eat the layered, flaky pastry, moistened with syrup and sprinkled with nuts at all times. Belgium allowed its friteries to stay open even as it closed down other commercial activities because it deemed the sidewalk stands that serve up French … Continue reading “Baklava, frites, wine, cannabis, guns. The pandemic classified them as essentials but they’re indulgences”

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More European Union? The ‘frugal four’ are pushing back against Franco-German largesse

by Rashmee

Posted on May 21, 2020


Some say there’s “18% more union”. That’s what Bloomberg opined anyway. It said that the decision by Germany’s Angela Merkel to join France’s Emmanuel Macron in backing a 500-billion euro European Commission lending facility is a very big deal. It doesn’t mean there will be a United States of Europe any time soon, but the fiscal union … Continue reading “More European Union? The ‘frugal four’ are pushing back against Franco-German largesse”

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Can virtual meetings really make up for lock-down’s lack of physical contact?

by Rashmee

Posted on May 20, 2020 / The Focus


I took part in three Zoom calls at the weekend. The first on Friday night was with good friends, calling with birthday wishes. The second and third, on Saturday, were with disparate groups of family members, similarly reaching out across the lock-down with loving virtual hugs and kisses. The Friday night call ran for three … Continue reading “Can virtual meetings really make up for lock-down’s lack of physical contact?”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK