Voices from the Arab press: ONE STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR INDIA

Last week, India successfully launched a mission to the moon to explore its southern pole, a region that has been only slightly explored.

By MEDIA LINE
July 31, 2019 15:20
Voices from the Arab press: ONE STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR INDIA

INDIA’S GEOSYNCHRONOUS Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III-M1 blasts off carrying ‘Chandrayaan-2,’ from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on July 22.. (photo credit: REUTERS/P. RAVIKUMAR)

ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR INDIA
Al-Arab, London, July 27

India has very big ambitions for the exploration of space. Last week, it successfully launched a mission to the moon to explore its southern pole, a region that has been only slightly explored.
The mission, known as Chandrayaan II, is one of the most complex space missions carried out by a South Asian country. The rocket carrying the lunar exploration module was launched last week by the Indian Space Research Organization, after the first attempt to launch the rocket had been postponed due to technical difficulties. But the issues were fixed within a week, after scientists worked extra hours to solve the problems that delayed the launch. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the two days as “special moments to be engraved in the annals of our glorious history.” If India succeeds in its mission, it will become the fourth country in the world after the United States, Russia and China to successfully land on the moon.
The next seven or eight weeks will be crucial to India’s mission because the Chandrayaan II rocket will have to travel from earth’s orbit to the orbit of the moon, where earth’s gravity ends and the moon’s gravity begins. Although India has done this before, it does not automatically guarantee success the second time.
India has been slowly building its space program over the past two decades. It has become a leader in the launch of low-cost satellites, with the deployment of dozens for other nations, including eight for Singapore. India’s space program, initially intended to improve satellite communications and remote-sensing applications such as climate forecasting and disaster management, has grown in the last few years into an independent space exploration program. In May 2014, the Indian Space Research Organization launched an orbiter to Mars, becoming the first Asian country to reach the Red Planet after China failed. The Indian mission cost about $70 million, compared with $671m. spent by NASA for a similar mission.
Therefore, this mission carries with it many concerns because it is an important stage in India’s space program. It is the most complex mission that has been carried out and will prove India’s credentials as a nation capable of exploring space. If Indian scientists succeed in completing this lunar mission, they will prove India’s reputation as a country capable of carrying out complex tasks, placing it prominently on the map of space exploration.
India clearly does not want to lag behind in space exploration when the world is ready to begin building space stations. India is particularly keen to highlight its proficiency in space missions and sciences. Last year, it announced its intention to send a mission with astronauts. The prime minister of India is very keen on this and is personally interested in monitoring the progress of this program. The success of the mission to the moon will undoubtedly ensure that India is at the forefront of the space exploration process. – Zikr al-Rahman

FORGING ACADEMIC CREDENTIALS

Al-Ittihad, UAE, July 26
Forging academic credentials is a threat not only to education, but to the development of our nation. While there are no accurate statistics about the extent to which academic diplomas and degrees are falsified in the Gulf, the number of these cases revealed each year is not insignificant.
How can the Gulf states move from the pivotal phase of the “oil age” to the post-oil era and cope with the challenges of the 21st century, if this kind of behavior continues unabated?
Certainly, such an act is a crime for which the perpetrator must be punished, but to date there exist no integrated criminal penalties for the forgery of scientific and academic credentials in the Gulf Cooperation Council. The GCC must therefore work on a common law to deal with fraudulent scientific degrees and scientific plagiarism. Some have suggested imprisonment. Others have suggested public shaming, alongside long prison terms and a large fine. Either way, there is a dire need for a specific sanctions regime for this crime, and this is what we expect from criminal courts in the Gulf states.
Another problem is fake institutions that offer the highest-paying students an easy path toward a diploma. This is yet another challenge we must address. The US Council for Higher Education, for example, requires higher education institutions to receive accreditation at both the state and national level, as well as by international accreditation organizations. Therefore, the Gulf countries should do the same, by requiring universities to be accredited both inside and outside the country, and threatening to revoke the license of institutions failing to pass certification.
Furthermore, we must destigmatize vocational education. Part of the problem is that many students who might be better suited to pursue a vocational degree refuse to do so, because it is considered less prestigious. But the fact of the matter is that by 2020, the demand for skilled labor in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi alone will reach about 40,000 people, while the current educational system provides only 3,000 vocational graduates per year. Hence, enrolling more students in technical vocational education – or at least in a hybrid education – is necessary.
In order to know a student’s preferences, whether academic or vocational, it is necessary to conduct tests in middle school and high school, as is the case in some schools in America that test for a student’s scientific abilities and personality traits, and enable him or her to choose the correct specialization without family pressure. These measures may help a student make an informed decision about his or her future and minimize the chances of cheating or forgery down the road.
The phenomenon of false diplomas and scientific plagiarism is a crime that must be punished firmly, but the most important thing is that the aim of our educational system not be merely to award a diploma. We must allow our students to learn and thrive while meeting the needs of today’s labor market. – Najat al-Saeed

SO-CALLED HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS
Al-Anba, Kuwait, July 27
Has mankind suffered an unknown epidemic that causes patients to scream and wail without a cause? A pandemic that has no visible symptoms on people’s bodies, resulting in no skin rash, stomach cramps or muscle pain?
This pandemic I’m talking about seems to affect international bodies and human rights organizations, as well as some European governments where traditional political forces have receded and a new ruling political echelon has emerged through alliances of social democratic parties, environmental groups, anarchists, liberals and populists.
The victims of the pandemic stay silent toward countries full of chaos and persecution, allowing them to spread crimes against humanity while criticizing nations trying to improve the living conditions of their people. They shamelessly interfere in the affairs of other nations as if they have some moral high ground that allows them to dictate the fate of other human beings.
For example, in the Philippines, the government decided to wage a war against drug cartels, which is a good and blessed thing. And, of course, like in any war, innocent people were affected. However, this angered the Republic of Iceland – located thousands of miles away, in the North Atlantic – which rushed to the United Nations Human Rights Council and made a proposal for an international investigation against the Philippines. It wasn’t long before the UNHRC adopted a resolution led by Iceland urging UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to investigate the situation in the Philippines. In doing so, Iceland directly interfered in the internal affairs of the Republic of the Philippines.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte rejected the UN investigation and announced that his government would not cooperate with it.
He also expressed his plan to sever ties with the Nordic country, indicating that there were no trade relations between the two countries, with the exception, perhaps, of some fish. Thankfully, the Philippines is an archipelago of islands surrounded by seas and fish. Therefore, there is nothing standing in Duterte’s way of teaching Iceland a lesson on meddling with other countries’ affairs and putting its overzealous government back in the spot where it belongs.
Salah al-Sayer

US FORCES ARE NO LONGER AN ISSUE
Asharq al-Awsat, London, July 24
Last week, the Pentagon announced its plan to deploy about 1,000 US troops to Saudi Arabia. Few in the Gulf bothered to comment on this announcement, let alone criticize it. The only criticism I encountered came from voices in Qatar, a country that makes a point of spreading hostility toward its Saudi neighbor and taking positions contradictory to those of Riyadh with the hope of stirring up emotions against it. But I have seen no one echo the Qatari claim.
Why did this news not become a public issue? Is it because people are tired of Qatar’s hostile campaigns? Or has the region changed?
I think a lot has changed. The new generation has reached an age where it is finally politically aware, and we see its members adopting more realistic and pragmatic political positions.
In 1990, when about 100,000 US troops were deployed to Saudi Arabia in preparation for the liberation of Kuwait, none of these massive forces were seen in the cities. Their presence was arranged to be far removed from people’s daily lives, so that they would not feel the presence of US troops in their country. Even after the war ended, the few hundred US soldiers deployed at the Prince Sultan Air Base in Al-Kharj were rarely noticed.
Baathist and Muslim propaganda sought to intimidate the Saudis by convincing them that the Americans had come to occupy their country and would never leave.
The deployment of US troops to Saudi Arabia now is a symbolic manifestation of Washington’s commitment to its strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia. It is meant to send a direct message to Iran. At the same time, the number of troops is small because there is no intention to wage war on Iran.
Saudi citizens are no longer so sensitive to such military ties, despite religious and nationalist hard-liners attempting to incite people through hostile means.
Even those who are wary of a growing US presence in Saudi Arabia admit that their hate of Iran outweighs their fear of America. Indeed, public opinion has turned against Iran. Today, there is a broad Arab public opinion that hates Tehran and its actions in the region. All of this destroyed the image Iran once enjoyed during the 1980s and 1990s, when it presented itself to millions of Arabs as a state that stood by their side against Israel and all other foreign occupiers. But this all collapsed spectacularly in recent years, as Iran came to be viewed as the enemy of the people, while the United States became our ultimate savior.
Abdul-Rahman al-Rashed

Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.
Media Line.


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