Tuesday, August 30, 2016


SOURCE :http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/journey/

                                               JOURNEY  OF  MANKIND

Despite all efforts of whitewashing the contribution of India to world civilization by the modern ‘western’ world, truth has its way of being unravelled.
Centuries of efforts have failed miserably to establish the Aryan invasion theory and Aryan migration theory and that has shattered other assumptions related to the of Indo-European languages. Stephen Oppenheimer has elegantly depicted the migration of human race from Africa to India and beyond in
                                  Journey of mankind
It is now genetically proven that Australian aborigines migrated from India 4000 yrs ago and the Romani people (Roma, Europe’s largest minorities of 11 million people) migrated from India to Europe 1500 yrs ago.

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                               Journey of mankind




                             BATTLE : 


      Do Soldiers get Excited or Depressed

   when they are sent to a Real War Mission?




When you first get to the OP AREA, you’re excited. You’re jacked to the tits. You’re ready to wreck shit. All that training is finally going to pay off!
Then you sit there for weeks at a time. Fuck, who knew war was so boring…
“De Tricht, we pulled the 0600 patrol of [wherever]. Get some sleep, roll call is at 0430.”
Fuck. Well, 2200 is not an ideal time to tell me this… But I’m pretty excited.
Erm… Actually, I’m scared. No, really. Scared as hell. I really don’t want to get shwacked by some dirt farmer with a couple of unexploded Paki  shells, a bit of wire and a battery…
[no sleep]
0430 - roll call and equipment check: petrified.

 Shaking a little bit, but this is what we trained for, and this is what we do. We do the job. We do the job. We do the job.
0600 - mount up and go: scared for a minute or two, but it quickly becomes just another routine.
0800 - big nasty ambush:

fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck! WhathefuckamIdoinghere?!
0804 - These guys can’t shoot for shit. I mean, there’s a lot of bullets, but they can’t hit anything.
0810 - Breathe, relax, aim, slack squeeze.
Breathe, relax, aim, slack, squeeze…
0815 - “Hey, man. I gotta take a wicked piss. Cover me?”
0825 - “Hey de Tricht! We have CAS inbound. Check this shit out.”
“Whoa. That, uh… Hm. I guess that probably wraps that up, huh?”
“Pretty much.”
1200 - RTB: “meh, we got into a little TIC with the baddies. No big deal.”

I jest a bit, there’s always a twinge of fear/excitement when you go out and when you make contact, but after a while, it’s just another routine.

Mostly they get scared. The new and inexperienced will be excited. On the way to the front line everybody is in a good mood. Some people crack jokes and everybody is laughing. After the first combat experience this will change. Most soldiers will become very calm and some might even get depressive.

It was the same for me. On the night before my first battle I was pretty excited. The whole thing was like a big adventure for me and I couldn’t wait to go into battle. Then I took a look around at my comrades, all of them were seasoned combat veterans. None of them seemed to share my enthusiasm: One guy was puking his guts out, some others were praying, but most soldiers were just sitting on the ground by themselves, deep in thought and smoking cigarettes.
We had many casualties in this battle, so maybe these guys already knew what was coming.
No wonder that when a couple of weeks later we were ordered to our next battle the mood was extremely bad. I was scared. I thought that I had already pushed my luck hard enough the last time. Anyway there was nothing I could do now and I just found myself a little spot on the ground where I could spend the next hours by myself and wait for the battle to start.
Every one of us reacts different in the face of life threatening danger. Some people indeed get excited, some depressed, but most people I met, including myself, are just scared.

                                War Stories

                                                          My First Battle

The Croats in Bosnia had assembled almost 20.000 troops, which was about half their army, to make a decisive attack against the positions of the Bosnian army. My unit was right in the middle. Preparations had already started days before the attack. Nobody told us that there would be an attack, but this wasn’t necessary, we saw the signs everywhere.
At first a reconnaissance unit from Croatia came to our base and started to observe the territory with some big binoculars. The next day some high ranking officers arrived and were discussing their plans over maps and aerial fotos.
Two days before day zero a mortar unit set up a dozen of 82 mm mortars in our backyard. And finally, when there was only one day to go, a complete mechanized infantry brigade from Croatia arrived. As my unit was our brigade’s intervention unit, the freshly arrived Croats sent their intervention unit to join us. We would attack together with them.
It was all very busy and crowded at our camp during these days. People coming and going. Trucks bringing ammunitions and weapons.
Finally all preparations came to an end and the support and logistics troops left us in the afternoon. Dusk settled in and everybody knew that the next morning would be the day. Some alcohol was served and we were reminded not to drink too much of it. One of my comrades didn’t listen and passed out somewhere. Another one started vomiting, not from the alcohol, but from stress and anxiety.
Most soldiers were busy preparing their gear, cleaning their rifles and getting ammo for their guns.
Around midnight a blue cotton ribbon was given to each soldier. We were told to put them on our uniforms to easily recognize each other as friendly troops. This was necessary as our enemy had very similar uniforms to ours.
After midnight an eerie quiet settled in. All weapons were cleaned, checked and double checked. Everybody was prepared and there was nothing left to do then wait. You can clean your weapon only that many times and puke your guts out only once.
In these last moments most soldiers preferred not to talk to each other, but to stay for themselves. I saw some of them praying. Others tried to sleep, but most of us were just laying down on our flak jackets, staring holes into the night sky and smoking one cigarette after another.
This moment reminded me of all the soldiers and armies in history who found themselves in the same situation. From ancient Germanic tribes , the French in Dien Bien Phu to our own enemy who was just a couple of hundred meters away. They must have felt the same thing. Being part of a big army going into combat you feel big and tiny at the same time. Fate is out of your hands and you can just hope and pray that tomorrow at the same time you will still be alive. You look around and watch your comrades. To see how they cope and to remember their faces. Some of them won’t come back.
My squad leader interrupted my thinking. We were called to pick up our gear and to advance to our starting positions. As our base was practically in the center of the attack, we just had to sit there and watch the other units to leave, wondering what will happen to them.
Then came our turn. We walked a few meters to our trenches to await the final signal for the attack from there. It was now absolutely quiet and dark. No talk, no cigarettes. Everybody’s eyes were directed towards enemy territory.
Then a small “blop” sound behind us, seconds later a sound over our heads, like a gush of wind or a swarm of wild geese flying over us and finally a big explosion in front of us, right in the middle of the enemy’s positions.
The waiting was over and the game was on…
What happened next?
We left the trench in small groups of five or six soldiers. I was the last soldier to get out. This was my first “big” battle and I decided to take it slowly. We were walking in single file, because the first soldier had to keep us clear of the mines. We had mined the whole area around our base just a couple of weeks before and although nobody had made any maps that could show us where the mines were, the guy we had put to walk in front had a good memory and knew which places to avoid.
Our own artillery now started a massive barrage. As we advanced so did our artillery fire, constantly hitting targets about two or three hundred meters in front of us.
After about two hundred meters we came to the first buildings of an enemy village. There was nobody there. We had expected some resistance, but not a single shot was fired at us. There were not even the unavoidable dogs around to bark at us. The village was totally dead, so we thought. We slowly passed through it and nothing happened.
Behind the village were several railroad tracks. We were about to enter a big industrial area. In the upcoming light of dawn I could make out warehouses, an oil refinery with several huge oil storage tanks and a lot of smaller buildings, like pump stations and office buildings. There were plenty of railroad tracks going in every direction and on them were dozens of railroad wagons of all kinds.
While we navigated ourselves towards the oil refinery a bullet zipped over our heads. Used to getting shot at we continued our way without even looking up. After a minute a second bullet hit a nearby railway wagon. The more we approached the refinery the more shots were fired at us. They seemed to come from all directions, even from the village that we had left behind. Every time a bullet hit a railway car it was ricocheting from the metal surface with a nasty "pling" sound. From somewhere somebody with a megaphone started yelling : Allah u Akhbar! "
We ran the last meters to the refinery. The bullets were now raining at us. We hunkered down in a trench near a giant oil storage tank which luckily seemed to be empty. Every time a bullet hit this storage tank it made a resonating sound like a drum. Soon it was like a thousand drums were playing all at once.
Now the first enemy grenades were hitting nearby. Mortar and RPG grenades, which could be fired only from a close distance. Although by now we had complete daylight, we still couldn't figure out from where the enemy was shooting at us. We encountered another small group from our unit nearby. They had made out an enemy position at the far end of the refinery and decided to attack it. I saw one of the guys fixing his bayonet to his AK rifle. Then they disappeared. We also decided to move, but in another direction, towards a big warehouse building next to the refinery.
The building was half empty and we used its cover to take a break from the bullets and grenades, smoke a cigarette and wait for orders coming over the radio. This was a warehouse from a tea factory: There were thousands of teabags everywhere around us: Chamomile tea. The smell of it became soon intolerable.
By listening to the radio communication we got a clearer image about what was going on : Obviously there were still enemy troops in the village we had marched through earlier on. They either hadn't seen us when we sneaked through or they had decided to let us pass. Either way, the enemy was now between us and our base. They were in well camouflaged positions and we were an easy target for them. Furthermore, the group of soldiers we had encountered earlier on near the refinery was now in serious trouble and had suffered its first casualties.
We were ordered to retreat. Now we just had to find a way back. We decided to try our luck by following the railway line in one direction to get around the enemy village and then to cut through open ground and reach our own lines. This was easier said than done: We left the warehouse on the opposite side from where we've entered it and met two more groups of our unit. It seemed that by retreating from the enemy’s fire most of our unit had ended up right in this spot. We all took cover in a long trench which ran along the side of the building.
Now snipers were starting to aim at us while mortar and RPG grenades were hitting the trench. It was clear that if we would stay there any longer we would all be doomed.
The only way out was a small road, but there was absolutely no cover for at least 400 meters. We started to leave the trench in small groups of 2 or 3 while the remaining soldiers shot cover fire.
I was in the last group to leave. When I jumped out of the trench I ran over the first dead body just a couple of feet away. I ran maybe 10 meters before I fell to the ground and started crawling. There were bullets everywhere. A friend of mine crawled just in front of me and I saw how some tracer bullets were hitting the tarmac just inches away from him. Another soldier behind me got hit in the leg and started screaming.
We managed to crawl down the road until we were stopped by a big wire fence. It was too high to climb over it: All the soldiers who escaped the trench were piled up in front of this fence and were attracting enemy fire.
Finally we managed to cut through the wire of the fence by connecting an AK bayonet with its scabbard. This makes a perfect wire cutter. On the other side of the fence we continued crawling.
About 100 meters further down the road I reached the first of our own defense positions. I entered a small bunker, its floor was covered in blood. A wounded Croatian soldier was getting first aid there.
Meanwhile a Croatian T-55 tank was approaching to cover our retreat. Under its protection we started to evacuate some of the wounded soldiers along the road.
In the evening we took count: From 18 soldiers of our platoon six were killed during that day. Another two were missing. The next day we learned that they also got killed. The guy that I saw planting his bayonet on his AK was also dead. Another comrade was heavily injured by a head shot and died later in a hospital. Three days later two more soldiers of our platoon were killed when their car was hit by a mortar grenade.
The following week we buried our dead comrades. During one of the funerals we came under heavy artillery fire, but luckily nobody died.
And I don’t drink Chamomile tea anymore.
Remark: This post is written from the content of two of my answers (one in the beginning: Roland Bartetzko's answer to What's the mood of an army field camp the night before combat? and one at the end: Roland Bartetzko's answer to What is the most terrible experience you had to face during your time in military? ) while the middle part is new. Fellow quorans who read Roland Bartetzko's answer to What's the mood of an army field camp the night before combat? asked me about what happened next, so this is the answer.

                             War Stories

                           The Ambush

                              Roland Bartetzko


The Ambush is the preferred tactic of the Guerrilla. You attack the enemy by surprise and at its weakest spots. Then you hit hard and disappear.
During my time with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) we laid out many ambushes. Often we used explosives that we put on the roadside to stop an enemy column and would then attack it with a small group of fighters. As we had only limited amounts of weapons and ammunition, these ambushes also provided us with additional goods.
All military supplies were usually brought from Albania through the mountains (the so called “Albanian Alps”) into Kosovo. This was done with horses and was very dangerous. I crossed the border myself this way when I came first to Kosovo and it was a hell of a trip. The enemy knew that we were using the mountain paths for logistical support and often laid out their own ambushes.
The last months of the war this mountain route was completely closed, as the KLA opened another frontline at the border, and all our military supply had to come from raids on military storage depots or ambushes.
One day one of my comrades came to me and told me that his home village was occupied by the Serbian army and that all civilians had fled. This village was in the North of Kosovo, deep into enemy territory and far away from any of our positions.
We decided to check it out.
We assembled a small team of 5 soldiers, including a machine gunner, a sniper and a guy with a 40mm grenade launcher (MGL). We also took two M 72 RPG's with us and some military explosives. We kept our preparations silent. Only our unit commander was informed about what we were up to.
Late in the afternoon we started to march towards the village.
As the enemy held all roads and had checkpoints and observation posts at all strategic points we had to move through very rough terrain, mostly wood and underbrush.
We had to advance very slowly and therefore soon got tired. As soon as night fell we dared to take a small secondary road to bring us closer to our target. This was very dangerous as there was military traffic on this road. Every time we saw the headlights of an approaching car we jumped for cover. Still, we covered some ground and reached our destination in the early morning hours. It was still dark and we carefully went from house to house. The whole village had been burned down, there wasn't a single building that was spared by the enemy. We finally found an annex building of a small farm that was intact and tried to catch some sleep. Of course this was nearly impossible as we were all too wired up. Every time I heard a noise my pulse went up.
With the first daylight we got a better view of the situation: The village was abandoned. It was right next to a main road which was an important enemy supply route from Serbia to Kosovo. We decided to set up an ambush, but first of all we needed to eat. There were still enough chicken running around the place so we caught one, made a small fire and roasted it. This was dangerous; we could make out an enemy position about one kilometer away from the village. We were careful not to make any noise or smoke.
Stomachs full, we found a good position near the road and waited. Moments before we had found this position we had observed some Serbian paramilitaries that had gone down the road with a small truck. Two guys had been in the driver's cabin and three more on the open back. As we were not ready for attack yet when they had passed us coming down the road we now hoped that we would catch them on their way back. We waited for about two hours. There was only civilian traffic on the road. Finally we heard the small truck coming back. This time its back was loaded with all kinds of stuff: TV sets and furniture, stolen from abandoned ethnic Albanian villages. A paramilitary was sitting on top of all the stolen goods, smoking a cigarette and expecting no evil.
When the truck was passing in front of us we opened fire. The guy on the back of the truck was hit immediately by our machine gun. The driver steered the truck off the road and it overturned. Two paramilitaries ran into a nearby corn field and got away.
Meanwhile a civilian car turned up and stopped 50 meters away from the truck. The driver also ran away in the cornfield. Two more civilian cars turned up and backed away.
We kept the road blocked for an hour. Then we heard an armored column approaching us. The enemy thought we were long gone and therefore started to shoot with tanks at the nearby hills where they suspected our escape route to be.
We withdrew towards the enemy positions we had spotted earlier on. It was a line of trenches, but surprisingly they were unmanned. We booby trapped them
Then we went into a nearby forest and waited till the late afternoon. The enemy continued strafing the hills with tanks and artillery, but we were safe and didn't engage.
Then we decided to try our luck down the road from where the enemy column had been approaching us before. We chose a path parallel to the road. We continued about 2 kilometers, but the enemy column was long gone.
We decided to set up another ambush: There was an excellent position at a small building near the road where we could put our machine gunner in a relatively protected place. One of our guys went further down the road to tell us via radio if any enemy forces were approaching.
For a while nothing happened and we got bored. But finally our observer told us about a big bus coming up the road. We didn't know if it was civilian or military, so we decided not to attack it. I went to the road to have a good look. Our position was a little bit elevated so I had a straight look at its passengers as the bus slowly passed by: All of them were Serbian soldiers. I could see their shaved heads when they passed by two meters away from me, many of them dozing away or smoking.
It was too late to attack them now, so we let them pass. This was very frustrating: It would have been an enormous success to get this bus. Now it was beginning to get really dark. Our chances to mount another ambush where getting very slim as the enemy rarely moved at night. Tired and frustrated I walked up and down the tarmac with one of my comrades. It was almost night now and we were almost ready to leave the place when our radio crackled: Our observer reported two jeeps approaching. Definitely military.
We positioned ourselves again: I stood behind a bush when the first jeep passed: A black Land Rover with a mounted machine gun on it's roof. The machine gunner pointed his weapon straight at me when he passed, but couldn't see me in the half dark. These were special forces.
Seconds later our machine gunner opened fire. The first jeep was rippled by bullets. The jeep's machine gun opened fire, but only for a second, then the gunner got hit. Now the second jeep passed us. Land Rover again, but no machine gun. While I shot with my AK-47 my comrade shot an MGL grenade. It hit the back of the Land Rover, but didn't explode: The MGL 40mm grenade has a security mechanism: A target has to be more than 15 meters away for the grenade to explode. We were too close. So we ran a few meters down the tarmac away from the jeeps and my buddy shot again. This time the grenade went off and the second jeep got severely damaged.
Our observer told us that more enemy was approaching us. Time to leave! I ordered the machine gunner to cease fire so that we could safely withdraw, but the guy didn't hear me. I shouted for a minute and finally he stopped shooting.
Tired and low on ammo we decided to go back to our base. We climbed the nearby hills and found some local villagers there who had fled from the Serbian army a few days earlier. After we smoked a cigarette with them one of them helped us to find a way back to friendly territory. This is most important when operating in enemy territory. If you have somebody with you who knows the ground it makes things much easier. Early the next morning we reached our base. I was happy but very tired. I hadn't slept for two nights and we had walked maybe 70 kilometers through rough terrain.










SARASWATI : The Indus Riddle


                                          PROJECT SARASWATI


                   The Indus Riddle

A flurry of excavations has uncovered startling evidence that presents a radically picture of the Indus Valley civilisation -- and calls for a complete revision of ancient Indian history.


                               Raj Chengappa

To school students, history classes on the Indus Valley civilisation have always been simplistic. Even dull. Most textbooks talk of how the civilisation appeared like a meteor on ancient India's skyscape, shone brilliantly for a while and then was snuffed out either by marauding Aryans or sudden floods.

Archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bisht describes the syllabus as "dead boring". He could be dead right. Egyptian mummies somehow seem to evoke more interest than the town-planning feats of the Indus engineers. Did you, for instance, raise your hands in class and ask just how stone-age farming communities almost overnight took a giant leap forward and transformed themselves into sophisticated urbanites living in cities so well designed that Indians have never been able to replicate the achievement even 5,000 years later? Did you actually believe that poppycock about an Aryan blitzkrieg that wiped out a glorious civilisation, plunging India into the dark ages for over a thousand years?

You probably did. Now if Bisht has his way, you will have to relearn ancient Indian history. For the past six years, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) team headed by him has been systematically excavating an Indus site called Dholavira on the salty marshes of the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. What they have been uncovering is turning accepted notions on the Indus on their heads. Says Bisht: "Exploring Dholavira is like opening a complete book on the Indus. We now have answers to some of the most enduring riddles about the civilisation." For starters, Indus town planners are not as "monotonous" and "regimented" as archaeologists had us believe. In Dholavira they display a surprising exuberance that expresses itself in elaborate stone gateways with rounded columns apart from giant reservoirs for water. Bisht also found a board inlaid with large Harappan script characters -- probably the world's first hoarding.

While experts regard Dholavira as the most exciting Indus find in recent times, archaeologists have excavated or are in the process of digging up 90 other sites both in India and Pakistan that are throwing up remarkable clues about this great prehistoric civilisation. Among them: That Indus Valley was a misnomer and that in size it was the largest prehistoric urban civilisation -- even bigger than Pharaonic Egypt. That the empire was ruled much like a democracy and the Indus people were the world's top exporters. And that instead of the Aryans it was possibly a Great Depression that did them in. In Lahore, M. Rafique Mughal, Pakistan's top-ranking archaeologist, says: "It is both a revelation and a revolution. Our history textbooks need to be rewritten."


Archaeologists have an exasperating tradition of labelling their discoveries after the name of the site on which it is first found. Since Harappa and Mohenjodaro were the first to be excavated in the 1920s, Sir John Marshall, who headed the team of explorers, called it the Indus civilisation because it flourished in the valley of that river. Marshall's announcement wowed the world and pushed India's known history back by about 2,000 years. At the time of Independence there was no real need to change the epithet as barely a dozen Indus sites had been explored.

With the prime sites, Mohenjodaro and Harappa, going to Pakistan, however, a feverish hunt began in India to locate and excavate Indus sites -- a race that its neighbour soon joined. In doing so, they began uncovering a civilisation so vast in its extent that at its peak it is estimated to have encompassed a staggering 1.5 million sq km -- an area larger than Western Europe. In size, it dwarfed contemporary civilisations in the Nile Valley in Egypt and in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys in Sumer (modern Iraq). Its geographical boundaries are now believed to extend up to the Iranian border on the west, Turkmenistan and Kashmir in the north, Delhi in the east and the Godavari Valley in the south (see map).

Location of Saraswati vis'a'vis the Indus Valley Civilization

A recent count showed that as many as 1,400 Indus sites have been found, of which 917 are in India, 481 in Pakistan and one in Afghanistan. While Mohenjodaro and Harappa were rightly regarded as principal cities, there were at least several others such as Rakhigarhi in Haryana and Ganweriwala in Pakistan's Punjab province that match them both in size and importance. It is also apparent that the civilisation did not just centre on the Indus Valley. When the sites were plotted on a map of the subcontinent, archaeologists noticed a curious clustering of sites along the Ghaggar river which flows through Haryana and Rajasthan and runs almost parallel to the Indus. After entering Pakistan, where it is called Hakra, the river finally empties itself into the sea at the Rann. Over 175 sites were found along the alluvial plains of the Ghaggar as compared to 86 found in the Indus region.

What puzzled them was that the Ghaggar-Hakra river and most of its tributaries are dry and their courses have silted up. So why did so many cities come up on such a desiccated watersheet, especially at a time when rivers were the lifelines of civilisation? Unless, of course, at one time a mighty river flowed perennially. In their search for answers, Indus experts homed in on the Rigveda, which is believed to have been composed when the Indus Valley civilisation was on the decline. Many of its hymns mention a sacred river called Sarasvati, describing it as the foremost of rivers, big as the ocean, rising in the mountains and flowing between the Yamuna and Sutlej before entering the sea. But in later Vedic hymn it is no longer described as mighty.

In the '80s, Indian satellite images of the region showed that the ancient bed of the Ghaggar-Hakra river could be traced from the Sivaliks to the Rann of Kutch. Where it is not covered by sand, the bed of the river consists of a fertile loam and its width extends from three to 10 km on different parts of its course, making it a very large river. Putting together the evidence, V.N. Misra, director of the Department of Archaeology in the Deccan College, Pune, recently concluded that the Ghaggar-Hakra river was the Vedic Sarasvati and existed when the Indus civilisation flourished. Misra is now among the growing band of archaeologists demanding that the Indus be renamed the Sarasvati Valley civilisation. Mughal and Bisht disagree and say that recent findings indicate that Indus was indeed the nucleus of the civilisation's growth. Foreign scholars view the debate as a subcontinent turf battle. Says Gregory Possehl, professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in the US and an expert on the Indus civilisation: "With over 1,000 sites spread all over the subcontinent, why be so parochial?"

From the name game, the focus has now shifted to a more pertinent question: Just who were these people? Research in the past few decades is beginning to throw up a much clearer answer. In the '70s, when Braj Basi Lal, a former ASI director-general, began excavating Kalibangan, a site in the desert sands of Rajasthan, he was amazed to find evidence of a field of crossed furrows dated to around 2900 BC, preserved by a strange quirk of nature. Looking around he found that farmers in the region used a similar ploughing technique even after 5,000 years. The ancient houses had tandoors (earthen ovens) similar to ones found in kitchens in the villages in the area. As Lal says, "It was as if the present was the past and that despite the passage of time not much had changed."

Lal's findings have been corroborated by other sites excavated in the past decade. Analysis of the skeletal remains, including the ones found recently at Dholavira, indicate that they are basically the same as present-day Indians. Harvard anthropologist Richard Meadows, who made an extensive study of skeletal remains in the region, showed that the people were in good health and, more importantly, there was a diverse mix of population just as at the present. So the question had to be modified to: Who were these peoples?

Given the vastness of the Indus empire, V.H. Sonawane, director, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History in the MS University of Baroda, points out: "The first casualty is the earlier notion of a Harappan homogeneity. It is clear that there was tremendous regional diversity just as we have in modern India." But was this assemblage of people originally from the subcontinent or did they come as migrant hordes from Central Asia? New evidence from several sites both in India and Pakistan show a remarkable continuity of culture over a period of 2,000 to 3,000 years before the Indus Valley peaked. Dholavira, for instance, shows the existence of small farming and pastoral villages on the same site before it was transformed into a bustling metropolis.

Mughal's studies in Pakistan have helped chalk out an approximate chronology of the changes. The beginnings of village farming communities and pastoral camps were reported as early as 7000 to 5000 BC. But developed farming communities, which grew wheat and barley, emerged around 4300 BC. In a site called Mehrgarh near the Bolan river in Baluchistan province, there are signs of agricultural surplus with the establishment of community storage silos. The conclusion: Sorry to use the clich�, but we had unity in diversity even then.


How did the Harappans take the great leap from self-contained agricultural societies to a trade-oriented, luxury-conscious, sophisticated, urban civilisation that gave the world the concept of town planning? Analysing the evidence from various sites, Possehl found that between 2600 BC and 2500 BC, the Harappans experienced a century of cathartic changes. Before this he finds no breadboard models of the expansion to come, be it the invention of writing or the awesome town-planning techniques. A tremendous jump in human ability is evident. So what or who caused it?

In the past, the reputed British archaeologist, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, argued that ideas have wings and that the Harappans were influenced by their trade contacts with the Sumerians. But the diffusion theory of civilisation, as it is called, is slowly being given the heave-ho. Cambridge historian Raymond Allchin, an authority on the subject, says: "We are now beginning to see the foundation being laid in the preceding 100 to 200 years in smaller sites. There appears to be a completely organic process of growth that threw up the Harappan culture as we know it."

Yet, the evidence of that process continues to be scanty. In Kunal in Haryana, archaeologists recently found what are known as proto Indus seals. On pottery on many of the smaller sites in both India and Pakistan, graffiti similar to some figures on the script begin to appear. And at Dholavira and at Banawali in Haryana, the distinction between the citadel and the lower city is beginning to evolve. There is, however, a huge jump in scale in such activity in those critical 100 years. For, in Harappa as in most Indus sites, the distinct gridiron pattern for streets appear, a scientific system of drainage that linked up to even the smallest house in the lower city is established, precise weights and measures begin to circulate, and the writing system evolves. So were the Harappans copycats?

Archaeologists say the Indus people couldn't have copied their town-planning from Egypt and Mesopotamia because in those civilisations the roads meandered like village streets. Nor was the writing similar to Sumer's cuneiform or the Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Harappans had their own distinctive style. Lal explains the dramatic change as a result of centuries of growth reaching a critical mass that caused an unparalleled urban explosion. Trade, he believes, was the driving force of the revolution. Even a sceptic like Possehl maintains that

      "these are indeed an expression of the Indian genius".


The Indus people appeared to have shunned personality cults. It is almost a faceless culture with no glorification of individual rulers and no royal tombs. The religious monumentality that characterised the contemporary Egyptian civilisation with its pyramids, or the Sumerians with their ziggurats, has so far not been found. If there was any attempt to organise vast amounts of labour it was for such mundane civic tasks as building reservoirs, fortress walls or even the great bath at Mohenjodaro. A silver crown found in Kunal did get archaeologists excited recently as it indicated a royalty in early Harappan settlements. But it is not enough to establish that monarchs ruled. There is evidence of fire worship, the emergence of a proto Shiva and the possibility of a priestly class.The Indus people were deeply religious and ritual played a big part in their lives, points out D.P. Sharma, head of the Indus collection, National Museum, Delhi. While Wheeler called a white idol found in Mohenjodaro a "priest king", there is little evidence to show that the Indus people were ruled by them.

Yet there was remarkable uniformity in the vast empire that spoke of some sort of central political authority. There were clearly skilled engineers who planned the big cities with awesome precision. Most of the cities were parallelograms in shape and the bricks had a uniformity in size with a clear ratio of 4:2:1. Weights were standardised and the same script was used by the entire empire. There was also a homogeneity of crafts. The notion that Harappa and Mohenjodaro were twin capitals is losing ground. Rather, Mughal sees control being exercised by half a dozen principal cities that functioned as regional capitals.

That there was social stratification is evident from the way the towns were planned. The citadel was a good 20 ft higher than the lower or middle cities. It led Wisconsin archaeologist Jonathan Mark Kenoyer to envisage several competing classes of elite who maintained different levels of control. Instead of one social group with absolute control, he speculates that the rulers included merchants, ritual specialists and individuals who controlled resources such as land, livestock and raw materials. Maybe -- just maybe -- we are seeing an ancient democracy at work.


A Nobel prize possibly awaits the person who can decipher what the Indus people wrote.

    Along with the Etruscan of Italy, it is the last script of the Bronze Age that is yet to be deciphered. The Egyptian hieroglyphics were cracked by the chance discovery of a rosetta stone found by Napoleon's men who invaded Egypt in 1798. It had on it an inscription in three languages -- hieroglyphic, demotic (another script popular in ancient Egypt) and Greek, which helped decipher it. Sumer's cuneiform script was deciphered by Henry Rawlinson, a British officer in Iran, after he found the Behistun inscription on a high rock that provided clues to it. So far no such bilingual artefact has been found that could help break the Indus writing code.

Yet, there is no dearth of claimants: since the sites were discovered, over a 100 theories have been put forward and even high speed computers employed. But in the absence of an independent test, none of them could be corroborated. What they did throw up were some patterns that hold a clue to what the Indus people wanted to communicate. The inscriptions are usually short, made up of 26 characters written usually in one line. The script, largely glyptic in content, has around 419 signs, which is far short of the 50,000 the Chinese script has.

The writing system is believed to be based on syllables. The Indus people also wrote from right to left as is manifest by the strokes, but it does follow at times a rebus style similar to that of a farmer ploughing a field. The dominant animal to be featured is the unicorn, the mythical beast, followed by the short-horned bull. Among lettering, a jar-shaped alphabet is the most common. I. Mahadevan, an Indian archaeologist, has a fetching theory about the conical standard that appears on most seals. He believes it is the legendary soma urn used to make alcohol. Apparently there was no ban on advertising it.

Asko Parpola, a Finnish scholar who has spent several decades banging his head against the script, homes in on the Dravidian script and points to the fact that one of its languages, Brahui, has been spoken in Baluchistan for at least a thousand years. He rejects an Indo-Aryan genesis to the script. Parpola's thesis has been contradicted by Shikarpur Ranganath Rao, a distinguished archaeologist responsible for the excavation of Lothal. Rao claims to know what exactly the seals mean and says the script has a close link to Vedic Sanskrit and Semitic symbols. But many archaeologists disagree with his approach, and remain despondent about ever cracking the code.

The bottomline:

 While some progress has been made, the Indus seals are still a lot of gibberish to us.


If Rao found himself on shaky ground where the Indus script was concerned, he made waves with his excavation of Lothal, an Indus port town located off the Gujarat coast. It shattered notions that the Indus was a landlocked civilisation, conservative and isolated, and as a result sank without a trace. Rao uncovered a dock 700 ft long -- even bigger than the one currently at Visakhapatnam. It took an estimated million bricks to build it. Next to the dockyard were massive granaries and specialised factories for bead-making. Hundreds of seals were found, some showing Persian Gulf origin, indicating that Lothal was a major port of exit and entry.

Meanwhile, independent evidence started flowing in when Indus seals were found both in Iraq, where the ancient Sumer civilisation flourished, and in the Persian Gulf. The Sumers apparently called India "Meluha", and their inscriptions talk of how they purchased beads of various kinds, timber, copper, gold and ivory crafts from India. It was evident that the goods were upmarket and purchased by the Sumer royalty. Indus sailors appear to have discovered the trade winds long before Hippolus, and their maritime interests were vast. "Harappan traders were among the most enterprising," says Jagat Pati Joshi, another former ASI director-general, who discovered Dholavira. Gold, for instance, was carted from distant Karnataka, and then hammered into delightful chains to be exported to Sumer. A lapis lazuli bead factory recently discovered in distant Shortugai in Afghanistan is believed to have been a major supplier to Harappan traders.

Like modern-day Indian businessmen, the Harappans had a huge domestic market to cater to. The climate around that time was conducive for growing a variety of crops in the region. Harappans are credited with being the earliest growers of rice and cotton. The agricultural surpluses ensured craft specialisation. And at its peak, the Indus was dotted with over 300 cities of varying sizes, supported by hundreds of towns and villages which supported a cottage industry. Quality standards seems to have been strictly observed, resulting in uniformity of arts and craft. And the flourishing trade was an energiser that powered Indus' phenomenal growth in the middle of the third millennium BC. It brought prosperity that saw the cities provide their citizens with the finest of drainage systems and reservoirs to supply water. And helped them evolve into one of the greatest civilisations ever.


Archaeologists are known to stumble, but the kind of knocking Wheeler has taken over his Aryan invasion theory has few parallels. When the British archaeologist discovered a dozen skeletons in Mohenjodaro, he propounded a theory about the final massacre by marauding invaders that put an end to the Indus civilisation. When an Indian scholar told him of Hariyuppa being mentioned in the Rigveda, he took it to mean Harappa. And since a fort was known as pur, and Indira, the Aryan god, was known as Purandhara or destroyer of forts, it all fitted neatly. After all, weren't the Indus cities among the most fortified?
Yet the past 50 years, and more so the last decade, has shown just how wrong Wheeler was. The last massacre theory was his imagination running riot. Far from being snuffed out, there was a brilliant resurgence of Indus culture further south for a while. Possehl, who made a recent study, found that in 2000 BC in Pakistan's Sindh district the sites were down from 86 to 6 and in Cholistan, 174 to 41. But in India the sites in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan exploded from 218 to 853. Possehl asks: "How can this be construed as an eclipse? We are looking at a highly mobile people."

Allchin argues that there is clear indication that the rainfall pattern, which had initially brought fertility, had become adverse in the Sindh region. And theorises that, given the instability of the Himalayan region, there may have been a massive earthquake that possibly changed the course of rivers such as the Sarasvati and affected many Indus cities. The Indus people then migrated eastward. Lal talks of steep decline in trade because of problems in Sumer that resulted in a Great Depression and turned many urban centres into ghost cities.

Bisht concurs with Lal but goes a step further. He says that after the quake hit the heart of the civilisation, the Indus people migrated east which acted like a sort of bypass to their woes. And like a dying candle, it shone brilliantly again but briefly before being snuffed out. Dholavira, Banawali, Mehrgarh, Harappa -- in fact, all the major cities show that as the cities declined, encroachments on streets that were unseen at its peak began to occur with alarming regularity. There was a breakdown in sanitation and cities like their modern-day counterparts in India simply ran themselves aground. They were replaced by massive squatter colonies and an explosion of rural sites as people, disillusioned with cities, went back to farming communities. A giant step backward.

Yet it wasn't as if all came to nought as was earlier believed. Some of the writings survived in the pottery of the following ages. The weight and decimal system too lived on. And so did the bullock-cart technology that the Indus had perfected. Rather than a violent transition, there may have been an orderly interaction with oncoming Aryans. Lal in his most recent book even puts across the most audacious theory: Could the Bronze Age Harappans be Aryans themselves? He says this because of the presence of fire worship and the discovery of horse remains and idols in Indus sites. Meadows dismisses it as premature and points out that it was more likely that ass remains were mistaken for that of a horse's. And that the Vedas showed a great antipathy for urban centres.

Whatever the cause, it would take another 1,000 years for a semblance of civilisation to return to the subcontinent -- a dire warning to modern India of the catastrophe that can befall an errant populace.


Monday, August 29, 2016

SARASWATI : We are part of the Sarasvati Civilisation


                               PROJECT SARASWATI

‘We are part of the Sarasvati Civilisation ’’

Mon, 24 Sep 2007-              
S Kalyanaraman, director of the privately-funded Sarasvati Research Centre in Chennai, spoke to DNA on the Archaeological Survey of India’s findings.

S Kalyanaraman, a PhD in Public Administration, University of Philippines, and director of the privately-funded Sarasvati Research Centre in Chennai, spoke on the Archaeological Survey of India’s findings, and why he thinks the mythical river mentioned in the Rig Veda is none other than the Ghaggar.


The ASI conducted excavations envisaged in the Sarasvati heritage project with its own money. What are the findings that you know of?

Bhirrana is a remarkable excavation. The discoveries there point to the possibility of identifying the Vedic people. This site shows that the origins of civilisation are in the Sarasvati river valley, circa 6000 BC. There are as yet unexcavated sites which are larger than Harappa or Mohenjodaro in Bhatinda, Gurnikalan, and Lakhmirwala.

If that is the case, then why does not the ASI go ahead with these plans?

They should. Unfortunately, Jaipal Reddy (information minister) and Ambika Soni (the culture minister) assisted by Sitaram Yechury (of the CPM) have killed Jagmohan's systematic approach. A section of ASI officials who believe in the Sarasvati are quietly working on it by calling it Ghaggar in their proposals.

Has the river been found?

The river has been found, foot by foot; unfortunately ASI doesn't talk to the ministry of water resources and the regional remote sensing services centre at Jodhpur (ISRO) to get the details of the scientific seminar on the subject. Ghaggar is Sarasvati.

The ASI should read the brilliant work by the most eminent Himalayan ecologist, Prof KS Valdiya, ‘Sarasvati: The River That Disappeared’. It is a brilliant scientific document which can provide a basis for a journey into the past along the Sarasvati river basin of periods prior to 2000, before the common era.

But there is considerable dispute about whether Sarasvati is the lost river of the Harappan civilisation. Isn’t it?

Romila Thapar (historian) asked KS Valdiya, “OK, professor, you have found the river, but how do you say she is Sarasvati?" The professor replied: "OK, madam, you look like a woman, but how do you know you are Romila? Our ancient texts, our mothers are emphatic that a mighty river Sarasvati drained in Bharatam."

So then, does this mean the Indus Valley civilisation and the Vedic civilisation or Sarasvati civilisation are one?

Yes. Indus valley was so called because the site Mohenjodaro was on the river Sindhu (Indus). Now that over 2,000 of the 2,600 sites are found to be on the river Sarasvati, the civilisation should be called the Sarasvati civilisation. It is a continuum into Bharatiya sabhyataa (culture). Every Bharatiya is a child of Sarasvati ancestors. I have proved it in eight volumes. Let Yechury and company read them and come back to me for a debate. ISRO's map of river Sarasvati adorns the PM's office and is shown to foreign dignitaries with pride.

Do you think that the ASI is an ideologically divided institution?

Yes. Ideologically driven politicians control ASI. The river's presence is so dominant, that Sarasvati cannot be wished away by mere name-change. Ghaggar is river Sarasvati's ancient channel.


HEALTH : The Zika Virus


SINGAPORE: Singapore confirmed
forty-one cases of the mosquito-borne
Zika virus that officials said were
linked to severe birth defects in

                          The Zika Virus



                              Danielle Renwick, Copy Editor/Writer
 August 11, 2016


The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness, has been linked to a dramatic rise in birth defects in Brazil and neighboring countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February 2016, and by mid-2016, sixty countries were reporting active transmission of the virus. Health officials confirmed that the Zika virus is behind a dramatic increase in cases of microcephaly, a condition in which infants are born with unusually small heads and brains that usually results in developmental disabilities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said pregnant women, or women who may become pregnant, should consider postponing travel to the nearly thirty countries where the Zika virus has been transmitted. Some governments, including those of Colombia, Ecuador, and El Salvador, have advised women against becoming pregnant in the near future.

What is the Zika virus?
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness carried by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Most people who are infected do not become ill, but an estimated 20 percent experience symptoms including rash, fever, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain, and headaches. The incubation period—the time between exposure to exhibiting symptoms—is unknown, but, according to the CDC, it is likely between a few days and a week. In most cases symptoms are mild and last up to a week.

The virus was first discovered in 1947 in the Zika forest in central Uganda, but until 2007, there had only been fourteen documented cases in humans. Experts say the disease likely did not spread among humans in Uganda because the Aedes africanus mosquitoes that transmit the virus there are poorly adapted to human environments, and therefore preferred to prey on monkeys. Researchers found evidence of infections elsewhere in Africa, as well as in Asia, but local populations there appear to have developed some resistance to the virus, preventing large-scale outbreaks.

In 2007 officials confirmed forty-nine cases of Zika on the island of Yap, in the Federated States of Micronesia, in the western Pacific. In a 2013–2014 outbreak, nearly four hundred cases were confirmed in French Polynesia, more than five thousand miles southeast of Yap. Researchers say the virus likely arrived in the Americas in 2013. 

                       CLICK THE CHART TO EXPAND

While in most cases symptoms of Zika infection are mild, researchers have found the virus to be responsible for a dramatic rise in birth defects.

Brazilian health officials have reported more than seven thousand cases of suspected microcephaly since the beginning of 2015, up from 147 cases in 2014. As of July 2016, researchers confirmed just over 1,600 of those cases; thousands more remain under investigation.

Rapid urbanization and increases in international travel expose more people to more diseases, and changing weather patterns expand the range of mosquitoes.

Zika has also been associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the nerves, sometimes causing paralysis. Symptoms can last a few weeks, and though most people recover, there have been reports of patients suffering permanent harm, or even death when paralysis reaches the lungs and respirators are not available. In April 2016, an elderly man in Puerto Rico died of complications from GBS, marking the first Zika-related death on U.S. territory.  

How is it transmitted?
Zika is primarily spread by Aedes mosquitoes. Aedes aegypti has spread most of the cases in the Americas, and its reach in the United States is generally limited to Florida and Hawaii. However scientists have also detected the virus in Aedes albopictus, known as the Asian tiger mosquito, in Mexico; it has a much wider range in the United States, reaching as far north as New York and Chicago in the summer.

There have been reports of the virus's sexual transmission, and researchers say it could also be transmitted through blood transfusion. The virus has also been found in saliva and urine, but it is unclear whether it can be spread through those channels. 
Why is it spreading so quickly?
The Western Hemisphere is "immunologically naïve" to the Zika virus, meaning that populations in the Americas have not developed resistance to it because the mosquitoes that carry it are not native to the region. (Aedes aegypti is believed to have arrived on slave ships in the 1600s, and Aedes albopictus in recycled tires shipped from Asia in the 1980s.)  The prevalence of the Aedes aegypti, the most successful vector for Zika, in dense, urban areas in the Americas also contributes to the spread of the virus.  Rapid urbanization and increases in international travel expose more people to more diseases, and changing weather patterns expand the range of mosquitoes.
Extreme weather patterns associated with El Niño—heavy rains in some areas and drought in others—can cause an abundance of standing water, which attracts mosquitoes. (During droughts, people often gather water in open containers.) The Zika outbreak comes as other mosquito-borne illnesses are on the rise: Brazil reported 1.6 million cases of dengue fever in 2015, up from 569,000 the year before. Chikungunya, a virus that causes fevers and joint pains, first detected in the Western Hemisphere in 2013, had by July 2015 infected 1.5 million people in the Americas. Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses appear to disproportionately affect the urban poor, who are more likely to live in areas with poor sanitation and open water sources, and less likely to have window screens and air conditioning, leaving them exposed to mosquitoes

The Zika outbreak in the Americas comes as the WHO, whose response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was widely criticized, works to improve its emergency response systems

Many observers say climate change, increased travel, and urbanization allow the conveyers of such diseases to thrive. "Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that is largely responsible for transmitting pathogens such as Zika and dengue, thrives in the warm, humid, increasingly dense urban centers of Latin America, and climate change has been making these places warmer and wetter," writes the New Yorker's Carolyn Kormann.

                      CLICK THE CHART TO EXPAND

Is there a vaccine for Zika?
No, but several companies and research groups have begun early-stage research to develop a vaccine. A few, including Sanofi SA, a French company that has partnered with the U.S. Army, are expected to begin clinical trials on humans by late 2016. However U.S. health officials have warned that lack of funding could delay research.

There is no cure for microcephaly or Guillain-Barre, which have been linked to the virus. Speech and occupational therapies can improve cognitive development in children with microcephaly, and plasma exchanges and immunoglobulin therapy can reduce the severity of Guillain-Barre.  The WHO has called for researchers to develop a vaccine and introduce rapid diagnostic testing for the virus. Currently, blood and tissue samples must be sent to advanced laboratories.

Governments and health professionals in many countries in the

Americas are urging women who are at risk of contracting the

virus to avoid becoming pregnant in the immediate future,

something that has revived debate over women's reproductive

rights and access to contraception in the region. (Abortion is

illegal in most cases in most Latin American countries.) The

CDC recommends Zika testing and possible amniocentesis for

pregnant women returning from affected countries with


What is the threat to the United States?
CDC officials have said widespread transmission of Zika in the
mainland United States is "unlikely," and most of the nearly
two thousand cases reported in the continental United States
were contracted abroad. U.S. officials identified more than five
thousand cases in U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico,

American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as of August

2016. The CDC has said hundreds of thousands of people may

become infected in Puerto Rico. Pregnant women constituted

nearly one thousand of reported cases in the United States and

its territories.

By August 2016, health officials in Florida had identified

twenty-two locally transmitted cases of Zika, including one

pregnant woman. The CDC warned pregnant women to avoid

the Wyndwood section of Miami, where mosquitos were

believed to be spreading the virus. 

A January 2016 study in the UK-based medical journal, the Lancet, found that around two hundred million people live in areas in the United States that could be affected by Zika in warmer months. CFR Senior Fellow Laurie Garrett warned in early 2016 that Zika could become a permanent fixture in the Western Hemisphere, like the West Nile virus, especially if it takes hold in Culex mosquitoes, which are ubiquitous in the Americas (Brazilian researchers were able to infect a Culex with Zika in a laboratory). 

Researchers point to other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue and Chikungunya, which have not gained traction in the mainland United States, and say the prevalence of air conditioning and window screens in the United States helps to stem the transmission. High-quality sanitation systems, which reduce exposure to standing water, also reduce the risk of transmission.

How are health authorities responding to the outbreak?
The WHO declared the possible link between Zika and neurological disorders a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on February 1, 2016, and said there was a "strong scientific consensus" of the link in March. The CDC followed suit in April. The PHEIC designation allows the agency to raise funds, coordinate multicountry efforts, and require countries to share health data relevant to the outbreak with international authorities. The organization called for more research on the virus, but did not recommended restrictions on travel to Brazil or other areas with Zika virus transmission. The organization also said pregnant women and women of childbearing age should have access to "necessary information and materials to reduce risk of exposure."

Health officials in Brazil, the epicenter of the outbreak, issued a warning to pregnant women about the possible links between Zika and microcephaly in November 2015, and in February deployed 220,000 troops to distribute information on Zika. El Salvador's government has warned women not to become pregnant until 2018, and Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador have advised women to put off becoming pregnant until more is understood about the virus. Pope Francis, during

his return from a six-day trip to Cuba and Mexico in February

 2016, said the use of contraception may be permissible (Radio

Vatican) in regions where Zika was prevalent. Local bishops in

the predominantly Roman Catholic region had previously said

the Zika outbreak did not justify the use of artificial


Authorities in the region are trying to control the outbreak by fumigating areas with high incidences of infection, removing pools of standing water, and releasing genetically engineered mosquitoes whose offsprings' short life spans cause overall population decreases.

In February, U.S. President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus through mosquito control, vaccine research, and education and health care for low-income pregnant women in the United States. Leaders in the Republican-majority House of Representatives urged health officials to first use reallocated funds of roughly $622 million, and the Senate approved $1.1 billion, figures health officials said would not be enough. Lawmakers had been unable to reach a compromise in order to release funds by mid-July, when Congress was adjourned for a seven-week recess. 
Nearly half a million people are expected to travel to Brazil in August, when Rio de Janeiro hosts the Summer Olympics.

Officials say the risk of transmission will decrease during the Southern Hemisphere's winter months, but some health experts have called for the games to be cancelled. The U.S. Olympic Committee reportedly told sports federations that athletes and staff should not go to Rio if they feared for their health because of the Zika virus. In July, the CDC said the Olympics were unlikely to cause Zika to spread, as the expected travelers to Rio represent only 0.25 percent of global travel to Zika-infected areas.

The Zika outbreak in the Americas comes as the WHO, whose response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was widely criticized, works to improve its emergency response systems. "WHO has to prove that it can take charge of dealing with Zika," writes Suerie Moon, a professor at the Harvard H. Chan School of Public Health and Kennedy School of Government. Moon writes the agency should help advance research on the virus, ensure the affordability of drugs and vaccines, and "communicate to an uneasy global public that Zika can be controlled."

Gabriella Meltzer contributed to this report.


Additional Resources

The World Health Organization issued this statement on the Zika virus and clusters of microcephaly cases and neurological disorders.

CFR's Laurie Garrett warns that the Zika virus could become endemic to the Western Hemisphere in this Foreign Policy article.

The New Yorker's Carolyn Kormann looks at the spread of Zika to the Western Hemisphere in recent years.

In this New York Times op-ed, Brazilian rights activist Debora Deniz argues that the Zika epidemic mirrors social inequalities in her country.

Laurie Garrett and Brazilian public health official Cláudio Maierovitch Pessanha Henriques discuss the outbreak in this CFR Conference Call.

More on this topic from CFR