Weekly News Round-Up ( 16th – 22nd May)
This week in the news, Pakistan faces the adverse effects of climate change, polio makes a comeback, Pakistani artists make waves globally and more! Read on to find out all the news you’ve missed this week.
Pakistan Added To UN’s List Of ‘Drought-Hit’ Countries
According to a recent report published by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) ahead of the UN Desertification and Drought Day (June 17) – over the past century, the highest total number of humans affected by drought was in Asia. The report listed 23 countries currently facing drought emergencies. Unfortunately, Pakistan is amongst the 23 countries mentioned in the report – including Afghanistan, Angola, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, the United States and Zambia. The UNCCD report says nations’ current pledge to restore one billion degraded hectares by 2030 requires $1.6 trillion this decade — a fraction of today’s annual $700 billion in fossil fuel and agricultural subsidies. The report warns that if current land degradation trends continue, food supply disruptions, forced migration, rapid biodiversity loss and species extinctions will increase, accompanied by a higher risk of zoonotic diseases like Covid-19, declining human health, and land resource conflicts.
Pakistan Reports Third Case Of Polio In 2022 & Makes Glabal News Headlines
After staying polio-free for almost 15 months, Pakistan reported its first three polio cases on April 22, April 30 and May 15 respectively — all from North Waziristan. Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel stated that ‘in the absence of a cure for the virus, the only way to protect children from the disease is vaccination’. Moreover, he emphasised that ‘as a country, we must understand the human cost of not eradicating polio from Pakistan because every polio case is a huge tragedy’. Currently, polio eradication efforts are underway in all areas at high risk for polio. (Source: Dawn)
Pakistan Places Import Ban On Luxury Items
The PML-N government imposed an import ban on luxury items in Pakistan in an effort to improve the country’s Balance of Payments after the USD witnessed a drastic rise against the PKR over the past few weeks on account of the country’s rising import bill, growing current account deficit and depleting foreign exchange reserves. The list of banned items includes crockery, automobiles, toiletries, sauces, etc. However, critics believe that the impact of the import ban on the balance of payments will be negligible and it would’ve been wiser if the cap on energy prices had been removed and instead efforts had been made to curtail domestic energy consumption.
Google Doodle Celebrates The 144th Birthday Of Legendary Gama Pehlwan
On the 22nd of May, Google Doodle by Vrinda Zaveri celebrated the 144th birthday of wrestler Ghulam Muhammad Bakhsh Butt a.k.a. Gama Pehlwan or The Great Gama. Born in 1878 in the Jabbowal village of Punjab’s Amritsar, Gama Pehlwan picked up wrestling after he turned 15 and immediately grabbed headlines in Indian newspapers praising Gama as a national hero and world champion. He fought a total of 5000 bouts in his entire carrier and was considered the most successful wrestler of the last century. Staying undefeated for 22 years earned him the title of “undefeated champion” as well. Gama earned many titles during his career, notably the Indian versions of the World Heavyweight Championship (1910) and the World Wrestling Championship (1927). The wrestling champion, a Kashmiri Muslim himself, is also considered a hero for saving the lives of many Hindus during the partition of India in 1947 which saw the worst communal riots post-independence. Gama Pehlwan spent the rest of his days until his death in 1960 in Lahore, which became a part of Pakistan after the partition. The Prince of Wales even presented Gama Pehlwan with a silver mace during his visit to India to honour the great wrestler. Gama’s legacy continues to inspire modern-day fighters. Even Bruce Lee is a known admirer and incorporates aspects of Gama’s conditioning into his own training routine!
Professor Bhutta Represents Pakistan In The Top 100 Scientists Of Medicine
AKU’s Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta is the only scientist from Pakistan and the low- and middle-income countries who made it amongst the top 100 medicine scientists in the first edition of the top scientists ranking for medicine published by Researchcom, one of the major knowledge centres for research. The ranking is based on criteria that consider h-index, which indicates how productive and influential a researcher is, publications and citations. The ranking team examined 166,880 scientists on Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Graph and over 65,743 profiles for the discipline of medicine.
“As is the case for other recent recognitions, though a personal recognition, this ranking reflects the achievements of scores of young researchers and faculty members across the world who have worked with me on problems of the most marginalised and impoverished women and children in poor communities,” commented Professor Bhutta, who is the founding director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health and the Institute for Global Health and Development at AKU; and Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health, Robert Harding Chair in Global Child Health and Policy, and a Senior Scientist in the Child Health Evaluative Sciences programme at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto.
Pakistan’s First Female Studio Potter Sheherezade Alam Passes Away At 74
Sheherezade Alam was born in Lahore in 1848. An artist at heart, she obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Design with a distinction in ceramics from the National College of Arts, Lahore. While at NCA, she studied under the country’s first ceramist, Salahuddin Mian. Having graduated as a potter from the NCA, Sheherezade seized a scholarship in the UK. She worked at Yale University and later taught at NCA and Bilkent University, Ankara. Her confidence with clay, right from the early 1970s, made her Pakistan’s first female studio potter. Her work enabled her to travel frequently and work alongside some of the most acclaimed Twentieth Century potters in Europe, Asia, the US and Canada. She returned to Pakistan in 2007 to continue her studio practice and set up the Jahan-i-Jahanara, a centre for traditional arts for children. An icon in the world of pottery, the news of her passing has left an absence in the art community and she will be missed.
Artists Ayessha Quraishi & Marium Agha To represent Pakistan In South Asia’s Most Prestigious Art Prize
The 2022 Sovereign Asian Art prize finalists exhibition opens at Art Central Hong Kong on the 26th of May. Pakistani artists – Ayessha Quraishi and Marium Agha have made it to the final round of South Asia’s biggest art prize and made numerous news headlines globally. They were selected from over 400 entries. The finalists hail from 16 countries and regions across Asia-Pacific, of which Hong Kong has the strongest representation, followed by China, Iran, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Marium Agha holds a BFA from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, an MFA from University of The Arts London, Central Saint Martins, London and has completed a course in Curating Contemporary Art from Chelsea School of Art And Design, London (2009). In an interview, Marium Agha explained that her artwork was created using ‘found tapestries from a Karachi flea market. Agha has deconstructed the fabric and altered the weave to create a new narrative. Each thread is then meticulously carved into the existing surface with an “ari” (embroidery needle)’.
Meanwhile, Ayessha Quraishi maintains constant contact with two materials: the surface and the paint, her ‘ hands perform two roles simultaneously, the right applying colour to the surface while the left removes it with a turpentine-soaked rag. This series of repeated hand gestures and motions results in a visceral language of sequential mark marking. The duality between form and formlessness, making and un-making, adding and subtracting, explores themes of memory, absence and presence, separation and union’.
Public voting for the 2022 Sovereign Asian Art Prize is currently open. vote for your favourite artists HERE.