The First Forum is an initiative which focuses on covering the latest happenings in a brief format. This is in lieu with the importance of knowledge about current happenings in this fast changing world.
In the First Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following:
1. Politics
2. Society and Culture 
3. History


By Ankita Punjani, Divyansh Gupta and Manraj Singh

176 die as Iran mistakenly shoots down a Boeing 737 headed for Ukraine
The tensions between USA and Iran reached a new high yesterday as the latter mistakenly shot down a Kiev-bound Boeing 737 shortly after take-off. 176 passengers and crew were killed due to this highly unfortunate incident. In recent days, the Middle East has been witness to a rapid escalation of hostilities. Read MoreUSA and Iran have constantly traded blows in a tussle which has included Iran losing its top military general, Qasem Soleimani. Amidst all this tension, an Iranian air defense operator mistook the aircraft for an incoming American cruise missile and shot it down. Iran had initially denied that it shot down the plane. However, UK and Canada claimed that they had received intelligence which proved the opposite. As international pressure mounted, Iran accepted that it had committed an ‘unintentional error’. Most of the passengers were Iranians and Canadians. President Hassan Rouhani has ordered a probe into the incident.

PM Comments on CAA; RKM Sides Away & Expresses Displeasure
The ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has been facing protests across the country by political parties, alliance members and student organisations over the implementation of CAA. PM Modi, during his address from Belur Math, had said that the new law would not take away anybody’s citizenship.Read More Modi also said that a section of the youth was being misguided about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Members of the Ramakrishna Mission expressed displeasure over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “political speech” at Belur Math saying that it is “deeply hurtful to see controversial political messages being disseminated from the platform of RKM, which is an apolitical body.”
The CAA and NRC protests are a series of ongoing protests in India, against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which was enacted into law on 12 December 2019, and against proposals to enact a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Over 200 Academicians write to PM Modi
Over 200 academicians including vice-chancellors of different universities, registrars, senior faculty members from universities across the country penned a letter to PM against Left-wing politics on varsity campuses. Coming close on the heels of Jan 5 violence on the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, the timing of the letter assumes even more significance.Read More “We observe with dismay that in the name of student politics, a disruptive far-Left agenda is being pursued. The recent turn of events in campuses from JNU to Jamia, from AMU to Jadavpur alarms us to the deteriorating academic environment due to the shenanigans of a small coterie of Left-wing activists,” they wrote. The statement by academicians is being seen as part of the ruling party’s efforts to mobilise support in academia after it faced flak from a section of the intellectuals over protests in certain universities over a host of issues, including the CAA and the recent JNU violence.

A Radical vision for the JNUSU agenda
JNU students have been in the lime light ever since the Hindu nationalist BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came to power in 2014. And as on many campuses across India, JNU students have recently been demonstrating against a new law – the Citizenship Amendment Act – that gives Indian citizenship to people of any persecuted minorities across South Asia except for Muslims. Read MoreJNU Students’ Union (JNUSU) President Aishe Ghosh spoke openly in front of those those assembled outside Shastri Bhawan in solidarity and coined the MHRD meeting as “unsatisfactory”. This was followed by a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Students and protesters started moving but were stopped by the police. Moreover, several protesters were beaten up by the police and taken away in police jeeps. While we may not be sure of who inspired the mob, but we do see bruised bodies of JNU students speaking for themselves.

Delhi Elections: Meme Wars Take on Center Stage
The high-stakes tussle for power in the national capital is also being fiercely contested in the virtual world with parties’ social media cells battle-ready with ‘arsenal’ of parodies, memes and hashtags. Read MoreAs the polls come closer the social media rifts are fast hotting up with the AAP triggering a spoof-fest featuring popular social media parodies and memes. Soon followed similar content being posted by both INC and BJP as a part of their election campaign.
The results of this unique tussle will come on 11th Feb when the results of polls get declared. Legislative Assembly elections will be held in Delhi on 8 Feb to elect 70 members of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.

Actors Arrested for Participating in Climate Change Protests
Joaquin Phoenix and Martin Sheen were the latest celebrities to be arrested for participating in a climate change protest organized by actress Jane Fonda’s foundation, Fire Drill Fridays. Read MoreThis foundation organizes weekly protests to bring attention to the challenges being posed by climate change. These arrests come in the backdrop of an outpouring of celebrity interest in the issue of climate change. This began with Leonardo Di Caprio’s Oscar acceptance speech back in 2016 where he highlighted the need of preserving our planet. In his Golden Globe acceptance speech last week, Joaquin Phoenix had asked for actively contributing to the global movement against climate change.


By Shruti Jha, Somya Yadav & Mehak Gupta

Child mortality rate: Under-5 Girl child more prone to deaths than Boys
Unlike the countries across the world where boys below the age of 5 have a higher mortality rate than their female counterparts, countries in Southern Asia and Western Asia, such as India follow the opposite trend. Read MoreGirls are more probable to die before reaching the age of 5, says a UN Report on ‘Levels and Trends in Child Mortality.’ India’s neonatal mortality rate is 23 per 1000 live births, chiefly from Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttarakhand. This ranking is determined by both, the mortality rate and by the estimated population of any state. UNICEF recorded Uttar Pradesh as the state with the highest newborn deaths. According to the report, 52 million children under the age of 5 will die between 2019- 2030.

Sussex’s Future uncertain as Prince Harry Decides to step back
Prince Harry and his actor wife Meghan Markle announced their stand down as ‘senior members’ of the royal family without consulting anyone from the royal family. Read MoreThey claim to lead a financially independent life here on, meaning they won’t accept funding from the Sovereign Grant, an income from the UK government given to the Queen to carry out public duties. To discuss the future of the Sussex’s’, the royal family held a meeting this Monday. While the decision may seem sudden to the public at large, its roots were being laid for quite some time. The couple did not seem to be very happy with their present positions and consequently have taken a well-deliberated call.

Hazardous Eruption coats Manila with Ash, Evacuations Underway
Taal Volcano – located around 70km (45 miles) south of the capital Manila, with a history of 34 eruptions and causing displacement of nearly 8000 people in the past, has yet again shown eruptions on 13th January. Read MoreImages show lava venting out of the volcano and a thick layer of black ash and steam hovering above it. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that more than 450,000 people are estimated to live within the 14km danger zone of the Taal volcano. Due to security concerns, the international airport at the capital has been closed with around 240 flights being canceled. More than 16,400 people have resorted to temporary evacuation centers on Monday itself. Government, Army and NGOs are working to aid the people by sending supplies and rescue.

Same-Sex Marriage legalized in Northern Ireland
Same-sex marriage is now legal in Northern Ireland following years of campaigning by the LGBTQ+ group, bringing it into line with the rest of England. Read MoreFrom Monday 13 January, same-sex couples will be able to register to marry, and those who are already married will have their union recognized by law. The first same sex weddings are due to take place in Valentine’s week in February. Earlier an option of civil partnership was given to same sex couples. Later last year Northern Ireland also decriminalized abortion.

Can Aboriginal Fire Management be a solution?
Although recent cooler conditions and rain have brought some respite, more than 100 bushfires are still burning in Australia. They have consumed 18 million acres of land and have proven to be catastrophic.Read More It is expected to aggravate further with the worsened weather conditions. But an age old solution could exist- Aboriginal fire management. In this a small-scale fires that aren’t too intense is set to clear the land of the extra debris which would lessen the impact on animals and protect the trees and the canopy. However, it is easier said than done. It requires proper knowledge, technique and social skills for implementation.


By Gunika Vij, Nikunj Gulati & Kanika

India voted against Iran in IAEA, Soliemani takes a Neutral Stand
India did a balancing act as it voted in favour of the resolution in the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) criticizing Iran for violating the NPT (Nuclear Proliferation Treaty) but abstained from the anti-Iran resolution in the United National General Assembly. Read MoreIndia joining the US in voting against Iran was taken at the highest level. Qassem Soleimani defused the tension of India vote and assured that Iran would remain a friend of India. He was a friend of India who assisted operation with the Northern Alliance and took a neutral stand on India’s voting against Iran in the IAEA. Soleimani termination as a serving military officer has added dimensions to diplomacy, international Cooperation and military alliance amongst nations. The US has justified its action as one to protect US citizens and to prevent a war.

Important Historic Event : Berlin Wall Falls in 1989
9th November, 1989, the day when people of Berlin were finally freed from much of the restrictions placed on them. The 155 km Berlin wall constructed in 1961 was taken down. Read MoreThe wall was built to stop the spread of communism from the Eastern part of Germany to the West. Enjoying the freedom, people started chipping the walls with hammers and chisels, storing the remains of the walls in museums. Permanent allocations were allowed to people through all border checkpoints of the wall. After The Berlin Wall came down, East and West Germany reunified into a German state on October 3, 1990.

Important Historic Event: Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor is located in Hawaii on the island O’ahu in the pacific ocean which used to be a US territory at the time of the second world war. Read MoreFor the initial 2 years of the war, the US had not intervened in it but on 7th December 1941, hundreds of Japanese Aircraft made a surprise attack trying to prevent the US navy from joining the war. Contrary to what Japan expected, the US declared war on the next day. In the attack, almost 2400 people of the US died and another 1200 wounded, 164 aircraft were destroyed and a dozen ships.

Important Historic Event: Apollo 8 Mission launched by NASA
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to land astronauts on the moon by the end of the decade. And floated the idea of Joint U.S. soviet moon mission. NASA met the challenge with the Apollo Program. Read MoreThe Apollo program was designed to land humans on the moon. The first manned mission to the moon was Apollo 8. It did not land while orbiting the moon. And the first moon landing occurred on Apollo 11 mission. While Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon. The Program culminated in 1972 with Apollo 17. It was the first mission to include the scientists in the crew. The entire lunar cost roughly $ 288 billion in 2019.

On This Day: 16th January, 1969, Vietnam Peace Talks Begin
An agreement on this date was made to start Peace Talks. There were several attempts for Peace Talks and a Peace Agreement during the Vietnam war as the U.S. and North Vietnam approached peace talks with different objectives. Read MoreThe most significant Peace Talks held in Paris with representatives of countries such as Vietnam( both north and south Vietnam), the United States and the NLF ( National Liberation Front). In mid-January 1973, Nixon ordered a suspension of U.S. bombing of North Vietnam as final negotiations recommend. The Paris Peace Accords were signed in Jan 1973. Kissinger and Le Duc. They were controversially awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in facilitating peace.

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