MONTH IN BRIEF
India makes lunar history
In a historic first, India’s Chandrayaan spacecraft landed on the Moon during a mission regarded as crucial to lunar exploration and India’s standing as a space power. Indian PM Narendra Modi, who watched the landing from South Africa, where he is attending the Brics summit – called the feat ‘a victory cry of a new India’. Scientists and officials cheered and hugged each other when Chandrayaan landed, as the government now looks to spur investment in private space launches and related satellite-based businesses.
Thailand’s new prime minister took office on Aug. 23 with the endorsement of the King, heading a contentious coalition that includes pro-military parties linked to former coup-makers.The appointment of former property mogul Srettha Thavisin – from the Pheu Thai Party long associated with billionaire former premier Thaksin Shinawatra – ends months of political deadlock following the general election in May. Mr Srettha, 61, was confirmed by a parliamentary vote, just hours after Thaksin returned to the kingdom from 15 years of self-exile and was immediately jailed over old graft cases.
Khan case quashed
A Pakistani court has quashed a sedition case against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, providing some relief for the cricket hero turned politician who was jailed on corruption charges in early August. Khan, 70, had been charged in March with the sedition case registered in the southwestern city of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, on a complaint that alleged that one of his speeches amounted to sedition. Following an appeal by Khan, the Balochistan High Court said prosecutors had failed to obtain the required consent from the federal or provincial government to lodge the charges of sedition.
Dip in China’s birth rate
China’s population has fallen for the first time since 1961 by 850, 000 according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. The drop has been attributed primarily to the country’s one child policy which ended in 2015 and despite various incentives offered by the government including tax incentives and extended maternity leave, the birth rate has continued to fall. Described as a population time bomb, the trend is set to continue with concerns for a shrinking future workforce a source of huge concern.
Cable car rescue mission
A daring mission involving army commandos and civilians has delivered a group of eight people to safety in Pakistan. The group, comprising seven teenagers and their teacher, were travelling to school in the remote mountainous area of Battagram when their cable car got caught on a snapped cable, leaving them dangling precariously above a ravine. The operation, which lasted more than 12 hours, has been recognised by Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, who has paid tribute to the courage and selflessness of those involved.
Fish fears after Fukushima
South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol has attempted to allay public concerns over the safety of local fish products by eating a seafood lunch, his office said, after Japan began discharging treated radioactive water from its wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 24. The move has sparked protests in Japan and neighbouring countries, and Beijing has announced a blanket ban on all aquatic products from Japan.In South Korea, the government said it has found no scientific or technical problems with the release, but public concern remains high over seafood and ocean contamination.
Demand for return of ‘stolen’ artefacts
Chinese state media has urged Britain’s most famous museum to return items claimed to have been stolen during the colonial era, potentially widening a rift between the Asian nation and the West. ‘We formally request the British Museum to return all Chinese cultural relics acquired through improper channels to China free of charge,’ the Global Times said in an Aug. 28 editorial.The newspaper said the museum had 23,000 Chinese items, and gave as examples a painting from the Tang dynasty and bronze vessels dating back to the dawn of the Asian nation’s civilisation.
Cherishing the cheetah
India is taking measures to ensure the welfare of cheetahs imported to the country from southern Africa, as concerns rise over several deaths of the world’s fastest land animal, re-introduced into India after 70 years. Six adult cheetahs out of the 20 imported from South Africa and Namibia in September 2022 and February 2023 have died since March, while three cubs born in India have also perished. The deaths have raised questions about the management of the ambitious project, championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with conservationists petitioning the Supreme Court over the animals’ well-being.