Fall in mercury brings little respite for Karachiites owing to high humidity

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Temperature in Upper Sindh in Pakistan continued to stick to as high as 50C. Passers-by have found a great comfort in this fountain at Arts Council roundabout of Karachi where they struggle with heat during the holy month of Ramadan (AN photo by M.F. Sabir)
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Temperature in Upper Sindh in Pakistan continued to stick to as high as 50C. Passers-by have found a great comfort in this fountain at Arts Council roundabout of Karachi where they struggle with heat during the holy month of Ramadan (AN photo by M.F. Sabir)
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Temperature in Upper Sindh in Pakistan continued to stick to as high as 50C. Passers-by have found a great comfort in this fountain at Arts Council roundabout of Karachi where they struggle with heat during the holy month of Ramadan (AN photo by M.F. Sabir)
Updated 03 June 2018
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Fall in mercury brings little respite for Karachiites owing to high humidity

  • Thousands died in June 2015 when heatwaves hit the seaside Pakistani metropolis for the first time
  • In Mohenjo-Daro, the temperature on Friday had soared as high as 50C

KARACHI: Dwellers of Karachi, a seaside Pakistan metropolis, have kept away from the busiest roads and crowded marketplaces because of high humidity in the air as mercury began to go down after a week of heatwaves.
The temperature in Upper Sindh continued to stick as high as 48C.
“Most parts of the country will remain in the grip of the intense heat, with temperatures above 40C in sub-mountainous areas of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and AJK, and around 50C in interior Sindh, southern and central Punjab and eastern Balochistan,” read a handout issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (MET) on Thursday evening. It said that the sea breeze would come back gradually along the coastal belt, bringing the Karachi temperature to the normal range of 35-37C during next week.
Shaukat Ali, an official at the airport office of MET Department, told Arab News on Sunday that the temperature in Larkana and Shaheed Benazirabad cities of Sindh remained 46C during the day. “Mohenjo-Daro remained the hottest city for the day with 48C,” Ali said.
Last month, Karachi, capital of the Sindh province, experienced the highest temperature in May for 37 years on Wednesday when the mercury touched 46C, with 10 percent humidity. Friday, however, witnessed 35C in Karachi but humidity further enhanced, which brought little positive changes to the weather.
“Although the temperature will go down in the coming days, the high level of humidity will give people the feel of a high temperature,” Director Karachi Met Office Abdur Rashid told Arab News. The official sees no respite during the coming days of Ramadan for Karachiites but rules out deaths due to bad weather.
“In the coming days the weather will be warmer due to high humidity and the remaining fasting won’t be easy,” Rashid said, urging people to continue with precautionary measures against heatwaves.
In May, Jacobabad experienced the hottest day of the country, when mercury went up to 51C. “However, the country’s highest temperature of 54C was recorded in May 2017 in the Turbat town of Balochistan,” said Rashid.
Rashid said climate change in Karachi was caused by climate change in the Arabian Sea, which had witnessed radical but strange change recently. Dr. Qamar-Uz-Zaman Chaudhry, special adviser at the World Meteorological Organization, concurred but said there had been warnings about climate change which should have been taken seriously.
“In June 2015, over a thousand people died when heatwaves hit the coastal city but this year there is zero mortality due to awareness among the dwellers of the city,” Executive Director of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center Dr. Seemi Jamali told Arab News. “Not a single death has been caused by heatwaves,” she said, refuting a claim by the noted philanthropist Faisal Edhi. “Yes, there were few deaths due to heat depression but no death has been caused by heatwaves, credit for which goes to the media for raising awareness and the Met office for issuing timely early warnings,” she said.
Chaudhry said climate changes were global but locally more plantation in urban units could counter unwanted weathers. “The more plantation, the more greenery and better precautionary measures can help people to escape undesirable consequence of heatwaves,” Chaudhry said.
The deaths of June 2015 and mass awareness have scared people, traders believe. Abdul Samad Memon, owner of a garment shop at Karachi’s Zainab market, said the warning of heatwaves and hot weather had brought a drastic decrease in daytime customers.
“During Ramadan the daytime clientele went down but due to heatwaves it has become almost zero,” Memon told Arab News, saying if the weather didn’t normalize it may affect sales.
Rizwan, who stopped at a fountain at Arts Council Roundabout to take a shower, said he has seen no changes. Unaware of the weather science, Rizwan told Arab News he had been upset by the weather.
“Not everyone can afford to sit at home. I have come out to bring items to my shop,” he said. Rizwan and other passers-by like him have found a comfort in this fountain.


Indian manned space flight ‘by 2022,’ PM pledges

Updated 27 min 35 sec ago
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Indian manned space flight ‘by 2022,’ PM pledges

  • Modi highlights manned space mission and major health care initiative during independence day address
  • PM’s speech a campaign launch for next year’s elections, observers say

NEW DELHI: India is planning its first manned space mission by 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Wednesday.

Delivering his fifth independence day speech from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort in New Delhi, Modi said that the manned flight would be the culmination of India’s recent advances in space science.

“We have decided that by 2022, when India completes 75 years of independence, or before that, a son or daughter of India will go to space with a tricolor in their hands,” he said.

India will become the fourth nation after the US, Russia and China to send a manned mission to space.

In his 90-minute speech, Modi listed his achievements of the past four-and-a-half years and announced a new health care scheme that would cover 5 billion people.

Observers described Modi’s speech as a campaign launch for next year’s elections.

“No doubt next year’s elections are playing on the PM’s mind. The tone and tenor of the address reflects that,” said political analyst and author Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay.

As expected, the Indian PM announced his government’s flagship program, Ayushman Bharat, a national health scheme that will offer health insurance from about $5,000 to 1.4 million poorer families.

Popularly named “Modicare,” the scheme targets rural and middle-class voters and will be rolled out in the final week of September.

Comparing the past four years of his leadership with the previous government, Modi said that “the red tape has gone and now there is more ease of business — the sleeping elephant has started walking.”

He boasted that “India’s standing in the world has increased in the past four years and today when any Indian goes anywhere, all countries of the world welcome them and the power of the Indian passport has increased.”

However, the opposition Congress Party described the speech as high in rhetoric and low in substance.

“The Indian economy is a virtual shambles. The rupee has crashed to a historic low. Joblessness, farmers’ suicides, atrocities against marginalized Dalit groups, attack on minorities, corruption — all these show that the government has failed,” said Sanjay Jha, a Congress Party spokesman.

Aateka Khan, of Delhi University, said Modi’s speech was “hollow” and that “India has never looked as divided as it is looking now. He has failed to assure the besieged minorities about their security.”

Mukhopadhyay said the speech was “disappointing” and failed to reflect the vision Modi set out when he addressed the nation for the first time in 2014.

“He seems to be still blaming the opposition for the ills of the country,” the political analyst said.

Mukhopadhyay believes that “Modicare” ignores India’s huge infrastructure deficiency. “In the absence of good medical facilities, how are poor people going to benefit from the insurance?” he asked.

India’s 71st independence day also offered observers a chance to reflect and assess the country’s future.

“The legacy of freedom is under siege today. We as a modern nation state with secular principle are at a crossroads,” said Santosh Sarang, a political analysts based in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

“The forces of division are more predominant today than ever before in this independent nation.”

Sarang said that “economic growth is not the only parameter that can make India great; keeping India together and preserving its syncretic culture is also important. The way the attack on minorities has increased and their sense of insecurity has been institutionalized make us question how long we can remain a liberal and secular democracy.”

He warned that “majoritarian Hindu forces now want to rewrite the Indian constitution to make it exclusive, not inclusive.”

Urmilesh, a New Delhi-based thinker and analyst, agreed. “What is at stake is the idea of India. In 1947, we took a pledge to make India a modern, progressive nation and tried to promote scientific temper among new generation, but today a new idea of India is being promoted which sees its future in majoritarian politics. This is very much against the spirit of freedom struggle and nation-building.”

He said that independence day left him “somber and sad” that fundamentalist forces, such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its protege Bhartiya Janata Party, which never participated in the freedom struggle and opposed the creation of a liberal and secular India, are ruling the country.

“The atmosphere in the country is so vicious that religious minorities and liberals have been pushed to the edge,” he said.

The right-wing activist Nirala, however, said that “the meaning of independence day does not remain the same all the time. We cannot have the same prism of looking at India as it was in 1947. What is happening today is the redefining of nationalism, which reflects the majoritarian thinking. Hinduism is the way of life in India and it should asserted unabashedly.”