In a big bet on upskilling, a southern Indian state switches to English-medium schools | December 08, 2019 11:08 AMVIJAYAWADA (Andhra Pradesh) - When Vijaya learned to write the English words "boy", "girl" and "teacher" in the third grade,

In a big bet on upskilling, a southern Indian state switches to English-medium schools

In a big bet on upskilling, a southern Indian state switches to English-medium schools

In a big bet on upskilling, a southern Indian state switches to English-medium schools

In a big bet on upskilling, a southern Indian state switches to English-medium schools

In a big bet on upskilling, a southern Indian state switches to English-medium schools

In a big bet on upskilling, a southern Indian state switches to English-medium schools
In a big bet on upskilling, a southern Indian state switches to English-medium schools
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VIJAYAWADA (Andhra Pradesh) - When Vijaya learned to write the English words "boy", "girl" and "teacher" in the third grade, her parents were ecstatic. Her mother, a domestic worker, had never gone to school, and her father, a vegetable vendor, could read only Telugu, their mother tongue and the language spoken in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where they live.

Vijaya's neat, careful English writing gives them visions of her as an engineer. But her teacher said, "She can write in English, but she still thinks in Telugu. There's a clash."

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Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to take on Rohingya genocide lawsuit in The Hague

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to take on Rohingya genocide lawsuit in The Hague

YANGON: From democracy champion to defending Myanmar against genocide charges, the shock decision by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to face the UN's top court risks further damaging her image overseas and deepening the siege mentality at home.

"We stand with you," proclaim billboards across Myanmar, sporting beaming portraits of the Nobel laureate as she prepares to face the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the Rohingya crisis.

Suu Kyi's supporters are printing off T-shirts, organising rallies and even signing up to VIP tours to The Hague to offer their backing.

Political parties and even some rebel armed groups have also fallen over themselves to give their support, in a country where the Rohingya garner little sympathy and are widely regarded as illegal immigrants.

Yet overseas, particularly in the West and in Muslim countries, Suu Kyi's reputation lies in tatters with multiple awards and even an honorary citizenship revoked.

Critics say "The Lady", once lauded alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, has become an apologist for a murderous military intent on wiping out the country's Rohingya Muslims.

The spectacle of Suu Kyi standing up in court on behalf of the nation might play well at home but she risks suffering a fatal blow to what remains of her international reputation.

"If she's only going to use the visit to demonstrate defiance and continue to defend the indefensible, then it only widens the impasse," Yangon-based analyst David Mathieson told AFP.


On behalf of 57 Muslim countries, Gambia will call on the ICJ on Dec 10 to announce interim measures to prevent any further genocide by Myanmar.

The tiny, mainly Muslim West African state alleges Myanmar breached the UN's Genocide Convention with its bloody crackdown against its Rohingya community two years ago.

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled into sprawling camps in Bangladesh, bringing with them accounts of widespread murder, rape and arson - violence UN investigators branded as genocide.

Myanmar says the operations were justified to flush out Rohingya militants and insists abuse allegations are under investigation by its own committees. Rights groups say those panels have only whitewashed the atrocities.

The UN team also accused Suu Kyi and her government of complicity in the violence - an astounding fall from grace for the one-time rights icon who endured 15 years of house arrest under the former military junta.

She has consistently dismissed criticism of Myanmar's military, including the damning UN report, insisting the outside world simply does not understand the situation's complexities.

A tacit acknowledgement at the World Economic Forum last year that "the situation could have been handled better" did little to quell criticism.


Observers are divided over why Suu Kyi is now throwing herself into the spotlight to defend the military.

Some say shielding the armed forces will bring concessions over reforms to the military-drafted constitution.

"There will be more negotiation and give-and-take between the government and the military," predicted political analyst Maung Maung Soe.

Others suggest it is a political ploy ahead of elections next year, a vote-winner for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD).

"The majority of political parties suspect (the NLD) will benefit at the election," Khin Yi from the opposition, military-affiliated USDP party told AFP.

Even in the face of some voter disillusionment, a landslide NLD victory is widely expected - arguably rendering any gamble unnecessary.

Myanmar historian and writer Thant Myint U dismissed notions the move was simply political, saying Suu Kyi believes no genocide was carried out - the position taken by most of the country.

"I think she genuinely feels a great anger at what she sees as an unfair response from the outside world. I think she genuinely wants to have literally her day in court and make this argument," he said at an event in Bangkok.

"I think she genuinely believes that there can be no one better to represent the country," he added.

Only a trio of rebel armed groups - the MNDAA, TNLA and AA, themselves locked in battle with the military - have dared voice support within Myanmar for the genocide charges.

Yet even they could not bring themselves to use the loaded word "Rohingya", referring to the persecuted minority in their statement with the pejorative term "Bengali", which suggests they are from Bangladesh.

Aye Lwin from Yangon's Islamic Centre of Myanmar said he thought Suu Kyi was doing the right thing by personally assuming responsibility and going to The Hague, where the full breadth of atrocities committed will be laid bare.

"It's not about winning or losing. It's about revealing the truth and correcting an injustice."

Feisty Biden fights for top spot in 2020 Democratic race

Feisty Biden fights for top spot in 2020 Democratic race

WASHINGTON: He's supposedly too old, too moderate, too prone to campaign stumbles.

But despite the criticism long circulating about Joe Biden, he has proven the most resilient candidate in the Democratic presidential nomination race - at least for now.

The 77-year-old former US vice president is capping off a big week that has seen him take on a more aggressive tone on the campaign trail.

He was feeling so invigorated and pugnacious during his eight-day "No Malarkey" bus tour through early-voting Iowa that he challenged an obstinate voter to a push-up contest Thursday.

The elder statesman is the national frontrunner in the race to challenge President Donald Trump in next November's election.

As Barack Obama's deputy for eight years, Biden today has a commanding lead among African Americans, a critical constituency in the Democratic nomination battle.

His blue-collar roots and appeal is also seen as a selling point to working-class white voters, many of whom may be frustrated with Trump and are looking for a viable alternative.

Biden's numbers have slipped in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that vote first in the nomination race, where he trails rivals Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.

But he has swatted away threats posed by other challengers, including Senator Warren, whose bright rise has deflated amid skepticism over her universal health care plan.

Biden's new ad branding Trump a global laughing stock was well-received, and footage of Biden confronting that Iowa voter went viral, giving millions a glimpse of the candidate showing fire in the belly.

When the elderly voter, a retired farmer, accused Biden of helping his son Hunter Biden get a spot on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president, the candidate snapped.

"You're a damn liar, man," Biden shot back.


Also this week Biden landed a key endorsement: former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

Biden "helped President Obama make some of the toughest and loneliest decisions of a president," former secretary of state Kerry told voters at a Biden event Friday in Cedar Rapids.

"That's what this is about. Seasoning. Experience."

Polls show Democrats want an electable candidate who can go toe to toe against the current president.

"Democrats have a burning desire to defeat Trump," Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at University of Virginia, told AFP.

"Most Democrats think Biden has the best chance of doing that - although it's not a slam dunk."

Indeed less than two months before Iowa votes there is uncertainty about the Democratic field, including Biden.

His debate performances have been hit or miss. He has struggled to raise money, trailing rivals like Buttigieg and Sanders in campaign contributions.

And billionaire Mike Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, likely would have stayed out of the race if he believed fellow centrist Biden was a strong candidate.

But Biden has exhibited staying power at least through 2019, and Democratic strategists have looked on with a mixture of respect and bewilderment.

"The Biden thing is the strangest thing I've ever seen in politics because the guy is up there in the air and everybody is just assuming he's going to come down," Obama's campaign guru David Axelrod told Politico recently.

"But he's still driving, you know? He's still moving forward."

Biden's campaign has been beset with problems, but it keeps bouncing back.

During the first Democratic debate in June, Biden got attacked by Senator Kamala Harris for his previous positions on busing and his civil rights record.

Biden was shaken. But he recovered, and now Harris, the only African-American woman in the field, has dropped out.

Warren, who surged into a tie with Biden in early October, has seen her campaign lose nearly half its support in the two months since, while Biden's national lead has widened slightly, according to a average of polls.

Former Obama cabinet member Julian Castro went after Biden hard in one of the debates - and Castro's longshot campaign has flatlined.

Biden may yet stumble, or sink from attacks by Republicans who see him as Trump's chief 2020 nemesis.

But for now the Democratic frontrunner chugs along, despite party handwringing.

"Biden is not a cinch to win," Sabato said. "But at the moment you'd rather be Biden than anybody else."

Cosplayers, comics and collectibles at Singapore Comic Convention 2019

Cosplayers, comics and collectibles at Singapore Comic Convention 2019


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