Robo-Parking

December 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

roboparkYou know the feeling. The sheer exuberance experienced when a sweet parking spot opens up right before your eyes. It’s probably near the entrance of the place you are visiting and the perfect size to ensure your car won’t get dinged by the doors of your parking neighbors. Contrastingly, you might have experienced sheer disappointment after a stealthy driver swiped your parking spot right out from under your nose. Fights, shouting matches and even fatal attacks often occur over a parking space. This past summer, in Kuwait, a man stabbed another one to death over a parking space. Whether you live in New York City, London or Riyadh “parking space rage” is a very real occurrence.

The East & West Robotics Company located in Sharjah, which is a municipality of the United Arab Emirates, has seemingly come up with a surefire solution to parking woes for some citizens in Sharjah. According to the company website, “East and West Robotics was established by the Al Marwan Group to bring technological advancements and innovative ideas within the Middle East region and to give a new philosophy to industrial operations.” The company has created an automated parking garage in the heart of the city called The Robot Park Tower that features an automated parking system that makes parking a cinch.

The 31-floor parking garage is comprised of individual parking spaces to accommodate 200 vehicles. The garage features an intricate computer system that identifies empty spaces and fills each with a car. It is very user-friendly. Parking, and even retrieving, the car requires the user to send a “missed” call to a special telephone number. The system can park or retrieve a car in 45 seconds flat. While it is automated, human workers do keep an eye on it to ensure that it runs smoothly.

East & West Robotic predicts that more residential and commercial areas will soon rely on automated parking facilities, as parking in the country has been problematic for years. However, parking in such a state-of-the-art facility is not free. Those wishing to have their cars parked robotically pay in upwards of $1300 per annum. The hefty price tag will force many drivers to continue their battle-weary plight to find the perfect parking space in the least amount of time. Other drivers will gladly fork over the cash to enjoy stress-free parking, for at least part of the day.

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Battle: 1757

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Anwarul Islam

evt100507085400060We’ve all heard the cliché: ‘A shot heard around the world.’ It refers to the start of the revolutionary war in 1775 that gave birth to United States of America.  In June 23 of 1757, about eighteen years before that shot, a similar incident of epic significance occurred in a not-so-known battlefield halfway around the world in India. That case, however, is known not for the firing of a shot, but rather its withholding. The outcome of the battle of Plassey would usher in the world in which we live today.

Plassey is a place in West Bengal of present day India. It is located about twelve miles north of the city of Kolkata. The battle that took place there was between Englishman Robert Clive of East India Company and nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-daula. It was not a big battle. A few Englishmen and few hundred of the nawab’s soldiers were killed.

Instead, the real battle in Plassey was fought in a dark alley of intrigue and treachery, underscored by the incompetence of a young nawab. The actual details of the battle are unclear. Only one thing is certain: the shots that were supposed to have been fired for the nawab were not fired. The cannons under the command of his general, Mir Jafar, remained silent.

The battle mirrored the fractured, bickering ruling class of India at that time. The silence would change Bengal and India’s history. It would prove a definitive moment in world history and eventually pave the way for the domination of English speaking people in the world.

Robert Clive, later know as Baron of Plassey in England, became one of the richest person of England as a result of this battle. And that evoked some not-so-subtle jealousy from the established order of that time. He had to face parliamentarians to explain his actions. In his defence, he offered, “Consider the situation in which the victory of Plassey placed me.  A great prince was dependent on my pleasure; an opulent city lay at my mercy; its richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles, I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels. Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderations.”

Mr. Clive did not mention about the silver of Bengal. May be he did not find it as glittering as the gold and jewels or it was stored in some other vaults. But for centuries silver and gold had found its way into Bengal as a result of its trading relation with the world. The Rupee, the currency of India, Pakistan and many other countries got its name from Rupa or silver as in known in many Indian languages.

Today, it is difficult to mention Bengal and wealth in the same sentence. At one time, however, Bengal was one of the most prosperous places in the world. Even after forty years of East India Company’s plundering, it still remained one of the two leading manufacturing centers of the world.

In 851, Arab Geographer Ibn Khurdabhbih wrote about his personal encounter with Bengal’s cotton textile and praised them for their superior beauty and fineness. These textiles of Bengal would attract merchants from around the world, who would buy its products in exchange for precious metals. Before the arrival of silver from the mines of Potosi in Bolivia of the New World, silver came from upper Burma-Yunnan mines which the rulers used to monetize their economies. In the middle of the first millennium, Bengal’s economy became monetized and silver coins became the medium of exchange.  Then the Portuguese came to Bengal in early sixteen century flushed with new world silver.

Eventually, the silver went back to Europe. Leadership of the world changed hands from Portugal and Spain to England with a brief interlude of Dutch hegemonic piracy. For the British, the taxes received from India’s peasants—who cultivated of fertile land in the Bengal Delta—would lubricate its economic and military engine. India became the captive market for British Industrial Products as punitive tariffs would destroy the local textile industry in order to make room for the products of Manchester. The directors of the East India Company became enormously rich and thus gained influence over governmental policies. As the parliament became stronger, the monarchy became weaker. 

On a military and political front, the victory of Plassey was the impetus for British mastery of the world. The British gained control of the saltpetre of Bengal, the indispensable ingredient of gunpowder. With Bengal under sole control of the East India Company, the French had to make do with an inferior domestic supply of saltpetre, resulting in a suit for peace in 1763. Ending the seven year war, it paved the way for the rise of the British supremacy in the world.

For the East India Company, the booty of Plassey was huge.  Two hundred barges loaded with silver and gold were floated from Bengal’s capital, Murshibad, to London. It is almost certain that the barges floated down the Ganges contained that silver the Portuguese brought in.  American historian Brooks Adams states a direct link between the industrial revolution and Plassey: “Very soon after Plassey, the Bengal plunder began to arrive in London, and the effect appears to have been instantaneous; for all authorities agree that the ‘industrial revolution’, the event which has divided the nineteenth century from all antecedent time, began with the year 1760.”

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Council of Asian Pacific Americans Presents “Splendor of the East 2010”

May 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Press Release

Northville, MI. – On Friday, May 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm, the Council of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA) will once again bring its popular annual culture showcase “Splendor of the East 2010” to the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center at 15801 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, MI.  CAPA (www.capa-mi.org) strives to unite Asian Pacific Americans and the community at large through culture, education, and community services. 

As in years past, the “Splendor of the East” program will promote the unique cultural heritage of Asian Pacific cultures along with colorful cultures from across the globe through spectacular musical and dance performances. This year’s event theme is “Tales of the Enchanted Lands – Myths & Legends” – a mesmerizing passage of myths, legends, fairytales and folklore, woven into a seamless presentation – a true depiction of unity in diversity!

Please mark your calendar for May 14, 2010 to join us for Dance & Music in Celebration of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and to witness a breathtaking spectacle from the East and beyond.

To purchase tickets online, please visit www.capa-mi.org . For more information on the event, please contact Mumtaz Haque (248) 703-6228 mumtaz@capa-mi.org or Bob Riparip (248) 680-0877 bob@capa-mi.org. Contact Angela Wang angela@capa-mi.org with all media related requests.

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