Volahanta Raharimanana

Volahanta Raharimanana

With its natural diversity, Madagascar has unsurprisingly long fascinated explorers.

For ages, the fauna and flora of the 4th largest island have been recognized among the most unique in the world, but also among the most endangered. Nearly the vegetation zones that range from the primary lowland rainforest located in the east coast and the central highlands and mountains cover the uniqueness of Madagascar’s fauna and flora. Among this uniqueness is orchid flora, a flowering plant that is found almost in every vegetation areas of the island. As a matter of fact, Madagascar has a rich orchid flora of about 1,000 species. Over 90 percent of the existing orchid species found in Madagascar and nearly 20 percent of their genera are endemic. Endemicity of its orchids at both the species and generic level is higher than anywhere else in the world (Cribb &Hermans, 2007).

Madagascar’s orchids are so unique that it amazes orchid lovers and attract researchers to discover how such endemic species evolve in their habitat and how to conserve them, considering that orchids are highly threatened with extinction due to climate change as well as forest clearance. Madagascar’s orchids are qualified “Hanitriniala”, which literally means that they are considered as the fragrance of Madagascar’s forest. Some examples of orchid species seen and dispersed in the vegetation areas of Madagascar ranging from the eastern rainforest to the central plateau include:

Cymbidiella, a genus of three species of epiphytic orchids that essentially grows on the surface of a plant. The three genera of orchid species are all endemic to Madagascar. One of them is the orchid named Cymbidiela flabellata, a flowering plant which is mostly present in the lowland rainforest. This is a species that ranges from 1 to 1.5 m in height. Its leaves are 20 to 50 cm long and 1.7 to 2 cm in width. The flowers of this orchid are quite charming, yet less desirable due to their smaller size. Regarding its efflorescence, it blooms from September to February.

Angraecum, commonly known as comet orchid, is a genus in the orchid family that is made up of about 220 species. Angraecum sororium is one of those species. It is a breath-taking plant reaching up to one meter when it is in its full floral glory. This orchid is a terrestrial or lithophytic orchid and is referred to as a plant growing in rocks. It is essentially found in the central highlands in the region closest to the capital Antananarivo and grows fully exposed on boulders and granite outcrops. Its flowering season runs from January to March.

Recently, a new orchid called Gastrodia Agnicellus has been discovered in the southeast region of Madagascar. This is a peculiar species labeled the ugliest orchid in the world by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Sources: Phillipp Cribb &Johan Hermans (2007). “The conservation of Madagascar’s orchids. A model for an integrated for conservation project”; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew / African Orchids

Our shift into a brand-new lifestyle happened so fast. In a glimpse of an eye, some of human’s common habits and undertaking have been disrupted. The traditional in-presence work experience seems to vanish little by little, giving in more places to casual and remote work experiences. The work environment has been one of the most affected fields, leading up to a change in the workforce as well as the shape of the workplace. Most people are now working remotely while others had to be laid off temporarily or to change job.

The future of job looks uncertain since many workers had to switch occupations. In fact, both individuals and companies suffer from these sudden changes and disruptions. They need to adopt a new approach on how they could adjust their work perspective and their skills towards that ever-changing shape of work.Taking into account cases of US employees, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) suggests that 17 million workers may need to change occupation by 2030. It has been shown that the trends accelerated by COVID-19 are more likely to cause greater changes in the mix of occupations, with little work growth in low-wage jobs. In the post-COVID-19 context, a likelihood of decrease in employment rate in sectors like customer service, food service and office work is expected, whereas transportation jobs as well as Healthcare and STEM occupations may grow more than before the pandemic.

An ever-increasing change in the workplace

Amid the pandemic, the nature of work has already known an impactful shift. Similarly, post pandemic is expected to shape the future of workplace. Formal employment may go informal, which sometimes involves precarious jobs. On the other hand, office workers, for instance, may juggle with temporary shift from in-office work to remote one. In fact, remote work has already become the new trend for many companies. In surveys conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in November and December 2020, 72 percent of executives state that their organizations have started adopting permanent remote-working models. Similarly, 70 percent of employees say that being able to work from home for a few days a week is a top criterion in selecting their next job. Some findings – always provided by PwC – have even revealed that remote work has been an overwhelming success for both employees and employers.

As the rollout of vaccines is going well, the situation is expected to return to normal, yet everything has changed. It is no longer possible to think that the future workplace will look like the same as two years ago, like in pre-COVID-19. A report from MGI estimates that even after vaccines are fully rolled out and workplaces return to the new normal, US jobs could be done remotely with 22 percent for 3 to 5 days a week, 17 percent for 1 to 3 days and the remaining 61 percent for one day or less a week.

This finding shows that the “in-presence” work experience may not be necessarily useful anymore after the pandemic and that the “new normal” at work is what to be rethought the most.

Sources: McKinsey Global Institute / PwC / The conversation

By the night of April 25, the 93rd annual Academy Awards also known as “Oscars” was held in Los Angeles, gathering Hollywood movie stars, actors and directors from America and other countries. During the ceremony, diversity and inclusion in the film industry have been highlighted since foreign movies have appeared to be awarded more prerogatives regarding the nominations.

Diversity in the film industry has so long been the main concerns of many movie players and producers and has always created controversy among moviegoers; but that night in Los Angeles, the 93rd Oscars annually presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seemed to have astonished its audience worldwide since the unforgettable Oscar nominations of 2015 and 2016 leading to the inception of “Oscars so white” hashtag. This year, the Academy Awards have learnt a lot from these previous events. They have made diversity efforts through underlying representation and inclusion in the nominations.

Among nominees was “NOMADLAND”, the 2020 American movie drama, based on the book of Jessica Bruder, entitled “Nomadland: Surviving America in The Twenty-First Century”. This is a movie produced and directed by Chloé Zhao, a Chinese-born woman filmmaker. She relates the story of the protagonist Fern who decided to leave her hometown after her husband passed away. Later, she lost her job to live a nomad lifestyle while becoming houseless dwelling in a van and travelling throughout the United States. The movie has got six awards including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Achievement in Cinematography. In fact, the overall awards Nomadland movie has won so far are 230, along with 132 nominations between the intervals of a few months only since 2020. Earlier this year, Nomadland also won two Golden Globes, out of four nominations, the 2021 British Academy Film Award (BAFTA) for Best Film.

Back to the story of the Academy and its Oscars

Since few people have been able to create motion pictures and technological contents, making a film had been the logical follow-up of such a great ingenuity; hence the creation of a cinematography industry which then gave birth to the Academy in 1927 – which is today’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – initiated by the filmmaker and co-founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio (M-G-M), Louis B. Mayer. The first Academy awards or Oscars was held in 1929 with a banquet at the Roosevelt Hotel’s Blossom room with about 270 attendees. To honor and award film productions, movies had been put into category with their special features such as Film Editing, Music Scoring, and Song. These were added in 1935. The first Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress Academy Awards were presented for film performances in 1963. It was only in 1941 that the category of documentary appeared on the ballot.

In 1944, the Academy made a radical change. The Oscar Ceremony was held for the first time at the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood boulevard in Hollywood. Since that day, everything had been evolving until the Oscar went global in 1969. For the very first time, the Oscars were broadcast around the world and now the show has already reached movie fans in more than 200 countries.

Sources: oscars.org/ TIME/ USA Today / IMDb

In today’s globalized context, diversity is a concept that we can longer ignore in our community. We can talk about diversity in terms of culture, race and ethnicity, religion, economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, language background.

Let us focus on education. Diversity in classroom presents numerous benefits. In a classroom where the question of diversity is tackled, pupils are more likely to have empathy. As a matter of fact, they will not be seen making precipitous prejudices towards others concerning their beliefs and their cultural backgrounds. They will get to know one another and will understand others’ feelings.

If the teacher knows how to combine diversity in the curriculum, students will get better understanding of the lessons and the process of learning. They will be able to have a deeper outlook of the real world beyond what they learnt about the history and culture of their own country. In that way, they will be more unbiased.

At the same time, they will be more open to new thoughts and new ideas since they meet one another and get understood more increasingly. It is important that they learn to esteem others regardless their respective traditions. Then, they will be able to respect themselves.

To achieve that, they have to talk about others’ cultures with respectful and mature manners. The respect of diversity in classroom will help students to be secure.Taking into account others’ diversities will help kids become more independent and versatile. Moreover, it will help them facilitate their learning process through living different conditions and experiences and also allow them to use their own resources in order to make them able to deal with various subjects and to express their own point of view.

The consideration of others’ diversities will make students feel more relaxed as well when being at school. Indeed, they will be able to work together in order to achieve both personal and common goals. Obviously, this will guarantee a good communication skill that may then enable them to thrive in the workforce and build trust between coworkers when they grow up. To that point, they will get courage to talk about themselves, to talk about their culture and their beliefs and more importantly, they will make others more comfortable and open to diversity.

How to manage diversity outside the classroom?

Later, when the kids grow up, the first thing they would keep in mind is what they have learnt from school about diversity. To manage diversity in society, people have to learn first to know each other. In doing so, they have to avoid some subjective outlooks towards others while considering their background either cultural or social. This is why ice breaking is always important when beginning something new with different persons.

People also need to maintain good communication with others by showing respect. Indeed, showing respect to others’ culture, belief, identity and freedom can be useful in managing diversity. Showing respect may include not mocking their practices even these ones seem weird to you and taking time to know and learn about the reasons behind such practices.

In the corporate world, diversity can be managed through combining different cultures so as to get more varied, yet effective and productive results.
Since we live in a society that continues to evolve, we can conclude that, if we want to live peacefully, we need to embrace diversity.

Source: Drexel University School of Education (drexel.edu)

The Merina kingdom is one of the many chiefdoms that existed in Madagascar before the time it became a single kingdom. It was formerly formed by one or more fortified hill-top villages located in the highlands of Madagascar. In the early 17th century, small chiefdoms were unified to form the Merina kingdom. The founder of Merina kingdom, Ralambo, established social and political institutions to forge and reinforce the kingdom. He instituted the council of “sampy” which was formed by the guardians of state amulets that served to strengthen and protect the power of the court. There was also the village council known as “fokonolona”, an administrative system which enabled local nobles and elders to regulate elements of local life such as canals, swamp drainage, trade, and defense. Divine status was bestowed upon ancestral monarchs. Ceremonies such as royal circumcision were implemented. The creation of a new concept of social classes made the Merina kingdom different from others. Merina rulers created a class of noble. These are mainly people that are descendants of Ralambo, and were elevated to a higher caste of nobility. This is due to a religion ideology that was elaborated into a sacred kingship from the Maroseranana (or Maroserana in some literature), a dynasty class of rulers that emerged in the western and southern regions of the island. They also created the caste of artisans, which is a social class that was founded to stimulate industry.

The Merina kingdom created a series of fortification to maintain the control of their territories. They subsisted on trade and agriculture. They drained marshes to create land for rice cultivation. Leaders encouraged people to work in cattle husbandry.

In the late 18th century, the kingdom faced a civil war and was disintegrated into four warring kingdoms. In 1780, one of the descendant of king Ralambo, named Andrianampoinimerina managed to reunite the Merina kingdom after usurping one of the four kingdoms. After the reunification of the Merina kingdom, Andrianampoinimerina had a new vision, a vision of a unified kingdom. He expressed that through his famous word saying “Ny ranomasina no valam-parihiko”, which literally means “the sea is the limit of my rice field”. He was succeeded by his son Radama I, who came to achieve his father’s vision and became the first king of Madagascar.

These are some of the kings that succeeded in the Merina Kingdom:

Ralambo, the founder of the kingdom. He was also the first king that taught people to eat zebu.

Andriamanelo, the first king that taught people to forge iron.

Andrianjaka, the king that changed the name of the Merina capital city Analamanga into Antananarivo.

Andriamasinavalona, the one that divided his kingdom into four for his four sons.

Andrianampoinimerina, the king that reunited Merina Kingdom into one and had the vision to unite all the kingdoms in Madagascar into one kingdom.

Radama I, son of Andrianampoinimerina, who became the first king of Madagascar.

Sources: Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) / metmuseum.org / Francinet RATSIMAHOLY, “Tantaran’ny firenentsika”; Fahagola hatramin’ny taona 2004.

Entrepreneurs are those who undertake and assume the risk of a business enterprise. Everyone has his own concept of a successful entrepreneur. Silicon Valley, for example, views a successful entrepreneur as a 20-something individual with unlimited energy and clever mind.

Researchers such as Benjamin F. Jones, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg School of Management and J. Daniel Kim, a Ph.D. candidate in management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-operated with Javier Miranda, from the U.S. Census Bureau and Pierre Azoulay, from the MIT. They have made an analysis of the age of all business founders in the US in recent years. They have concluded that the average age of the most successful entrepreneur is 45.

However, Benjamin J. Jones and his colleagues found that the most new successful enterprises nowadays are led by young people and that these are more prevalent. They have discovered that young entrepreneurs are less indebted in thinking. That is, they seem to have more innovative and mixed-up ideas that can be fruitful to their business. At the same time, they still have more time and energy to work on their business. Thanks to their early age, these young entrepreneurs are more advantageous than their elder counterparts, because they are free from family concerns and responsibilities.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook uttered that “Young people are smarter”. In fact, young founders always have a surprising story to tell. How would you imagine that a young boy quits college to embark in a business with a mob of 20-something-year-old fellows and then come out after innumerable days with a new trending app or consumer product that make them generate important wealth? That is a very astonishing way to succeed! Thanks to this surprising story of young founders, venture capitalists choose to invest in the young founders’ business and sometimes let the older founders out in the cold.

How about other theories?

Benjamin J. Jones and his colleagues pursued their search and conducted an internal project at the US Census Bureau to check all the business launched in the US between 2007 and 2014, enclosing 2.7 million founders. They made a comparison of the founder age to establish a performance measure involving employment and sales growth, as well as the exit strategy for a business, whether it is an acquisition or an IPO (Initial Public Offering). They concluded that middle-age founders can create the highest-growth firms and the 20s founders are less likely to build a top-growth firm.
Some theories have showed that entrepreneurs get better with age. Indeed, experience is needed when we talk about entrepreneurship. Older and middle-aged entrepreneurs may have much more experiences in management and are endowed with a far-reaching knowledge in entrepreneurship. Moreover, they may have large-scale financial resources and more developed networks.

Here are some of these successful young entrepreneurs

Mark Zuckerberg, who is now endowed with an estimated net worth of USD 61.7 billion. Facebook which he created at just 19 attests itself the hit of the young entrepreneur. Since its conception, Facebook became one of the most used social media all around the world.

Blake Ross, the founder of Mozilla Firefox. At only 19, this successful entrepreneur created the famous web browser. Now, it is among the prior web browser across different platforms like Windows, Linux and Android.

Catherine Cook, creator of MyYearBook.com. At the age of 15, she came up with her brother Dave with a vision of digitizing high school yearbooks and putting it online, and got investment from their elder brother, Geoff Cook. Catherine and Dave got to be the youngest millionaires around in the prime time of MyYearBooks.

 

Sources: Lifehack / insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu /MarketWatch

We are currently living in a world where uncertainty has taken too much place. Due to the pandemic that hit all the nations worldwide, a variety of sectors have been touched so hard that many controversies have emerged around. One of these sectors is communication and media. Indeed, journalists and media workers have been found to increasingly struggle with freedom of expression and to not be able to fully enjoy their profession.

This is why every year, on 3 May, a day dedicated to celebrate World Press Freedom Day has been declared. The day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a UNESCO’s general conference in 1991 which took place in Windhoek, Namibia. In fact, it has served as an occasion to inform citizens of the violations of press freedom – since some publications and social media contents have been targeted to censor and suspension while media workers have been harassed, attacked and even killed worldwide – and also to remind countries around the world about the principles of press freedom and the fundamental rights on freedom of expression (UNESCO).

Highlights on World Press Freedom Day 2021 observance

This year’s global theme “information as a public good” deals with the major difference between information and other various communications content such as disinformation, hate speech, entertainment and data.The aim of this theme is essentially to draw attention to the key role of journalism in producing and spreading news as verified information in the public interest, and to the importance of assessing information and cherishing it as a public good while promoting transparency and empowerment. To proceed, as provided and initiated by UNESCO, the global observance will focus on three main topics:

• Steps to ensure the economic viability of news media;
• Mechanisms for ensuring transparency of Internet companies; and
• Enhanced media and information literacy capacities that enable people to recognize and value, as well as defend and demand, journalism as a vital part of information as a public good.

This year, the observance of World Press Freedom Day or WPFD is scheduled to run from 29 April to 3 May in Windhoek and the event is going to be both a virtual and in-presence experience and participation while respecting all the sanitary barriers set up against the pandemic such as social distancing and other precautions.

WPFD global conference hosted by UNESCO and the government of Namibia will include forums, seminars, artistic showcases, film screenings and more other activities. Further, the conference is intended to connect activists, policymakers, media experts, artists and researchers throughout the world.

It is important to note that WPFD 2021 observance in Windhoek indeed marks the 30th anniversary of Windhoek declaration held in 1991 in Namibia, where WPFD had its first origin. On 3 May 1991, Windhoek declaration for the Development of a Free Independent and Pluralistic Press was adopted, and this year World Press Freedom Day will be commemorated in its birthplace, in Windhoek, Namibia.

Sources : UNESCO / The United Nations

You may have already come across a movie featuring a majestic obelisk structure that rises to the sky and gazes up at other iconic monuments which stretch along the National Mall in Washington DC. It is the very well-known Washington Monument which stands between the Lincoln Memorial and the US Capitol building.

When talking of great leaders in US history, we sometimes refer to monuments, museums and statues to honor them. One of these US great leaders is Abraham Lincoln nicknamed “Honest Abe”, who was the 16th president of the United States. He has been dedicated a monument as a tribute to his great achievements during his term in office; a name that is no longer new for those who have already been to the National Mall for a tour or are only US history amateurs: “The grand Lincoln Memorial towers”. The Lincoln Memorial is a US national monument that lies on the western end of the National Mall, at the edge of the reflecting pool across from the Washington Monument. The memorial that has been built to honor Honest Abe depicts a neoclassical architecture inspired by ancient Greek temples.

Built as unique, built as a symbol

The building measures 190 feet long and 119 feet wide, with a height that almost reaches 100 feet. The exterior of the memorial is surrounded by a peristyle of 36 columns – an architectural style made of colonnade – representing one for each of the 36 states in America at the period of President Lincoln’s death, and by two columns in the form of parastas at the entrance behind the colonnade – an architectural term used to describe pillars on either side of a doorway or entrance like in Greek temple design.

From the outside, there are stairs leading inside the Memorial. The interior is split into three chambers by two rows of four classical architectural columns of 50 feet tall each. The central chamber houses the 175-ton statue of President Lincoln that measures 19-foot tall. Above the statue inscribed on the wall is a memorable quote written as follows: “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever”. To the right and left sides of the statue also known as the north and south chambers are carved inscriptions of Lincoln’s second inaugural address and Gettysburg address. These are addresses that made President Lincoln among the most notable figures in US history. The Gettysburg address was a speech he delivered during the American civil war of 1863 and the inaugural address was delivered in 1865 during his second inauguration as US President, which occurred few months before his assassination. The construction of such a majestic monument was made by some talented people including the architect Henry Bacon, sculptor Daniel Chester French who designed Lincoln’s statue in the central chamber, and the Piccirilli Brothers, Italian carvers and sculptors, who carved the statue.

Since its inception, the Lincoln Memorial has become a symbol of US national identity and has served a site of many famous events such as the “The Great March on Washington” in 1963 led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. That day on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he delivered his stirring historic speech “I have a dream”. As for today, it remains one of the major tourist attractions in the United States.

Sources: Washington DC / National Park Service (nps.gov)

Have you ever thought about being a leader one day? But is leadership really meant for everyone?

Some studies have concluded that leadership is one third-born and two-thirds made. Indeed, it may be possible to be a born-leader, but somehow, being a great leader requires many skills and personal qualities. To be so, you have to learn and train yourself because leading a group of people and being a role model for them are far from being childsplay.

People who are born leaders are endowed with high energy to accomplish their duties. They have exceptional intelligence. They know how to manage their team by being, firstly, the best example for people they are leading. They have extreme persistence toward any situation. They never fear changes if there must be any. One example that can illustrate that is the time when we were in primary or secondary school. The teacher asks for a volunteer to be the delegate of the class, and there is that one little boy who stands out and accepts the challenge. Everything starts from there. How would you realize that this little child is going to accomplish his tasks with perfection? When the teacher asks him to write the name of his talkative classmates on a piece of paper, he does it even if he knows that his friendship may be in danger. He faces the obstacles; he does not fear possible change that may occur; he just does what he has to do as being the leader in his class. That is what innate leadership looks like.

How then, can people train themselves to become great leaders?

Warren Bernis a pioneer in leadership research, stated: “Leadership is the capacity to translate the vision into reality”. The leader has to set a goal for the team. In every group, he sets a goal, has to give the tasks for each members of the team and leads them to the right and perfect path to accomplish all the tasks. He also has to choose the right person who is accountable to him and ready to work with him and follow all his instructions for a special task in order to avoid delay in the achievement of the task. Above all, he needs to visualize all the obstacles that may occur when they are working. He has to think of what may happen in such an interval of work. In order to perfectly achieve the task undertaken, the leader must be the first and the best example for the team and an inspiration for them too. He has to be extroversive, the one that always thinks of the interest of the team. He has to be assertive as well, he has to be strict about the fulfillment of the goal, not thinking of anything else. For being the best inspiration for his team, he has to pay attention to the relationship between each members of the team. He has to foster a culture of gratitude by learning to praise and thank his colleagues for an achieved task and for the ideas that they contributed. That will motivate the employees and help them to be more productive.

So, do you think you are a leader?

Source: Psychology Today

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 04:54

How to make a Kobaravina?

Have you ever heard about “Kobaravina”? Today we want to make you aware of this famous and very delicious dessert in Madagascar. It is a type of cake, a dough that is enveloped in a banana leaf and is served hot. For international visitors and tourists, do not forget to taste that delicious dessert. Maybe you are wondering where to buy a koba in the Big Island. The good news is, wherever you will go, you will find a street vendor carrying a basket of koba on their head. They are walking around from the main road until the smallest alleys while reciting Koba ô! Koba vao mafana ô!” which means Koba (dough), these are hot doughs”. They are just waiting for you to call them. Here is the funny fact when you want to buy a koba. You cannot guess the seller’s name; you just call them by saying “Koba!” and they will come to you with a smile. Everybody loves it! A koba is a great option for a snack after school for your children, or for a coffee break for adults at the office.

Today we give you a short recipe for you to make your own “kobaravina”.

Ingredients :

- 5 ripe bananas

-½ cup of rice flour

- ½ cup of brown sugar

- ½ cup of chopped peanuts

- Banana leaves

- Raffia (it is a sort of string)

- Honey

Instructions :

Before starting, make to wash your hands in order to keep the cleanness of your preparation. Let us start now.

1- Mash the bananas in a bowl

2- Mix it with the rice flour and the brown sugar

3- Soften the banana leaves by boiling it in a hot water for a few minutes. Drain and pat it dry with a paper towel.

4- Place 3 table spoons of the batter in the center of a banana leaf.

5- Sprinkle it with the chopped peanuts.

6- Pour some honey on it.

7- Fold the banana leaf along the length of a rectangle and tie it with a raffia.

8- Steam for 20-30 minutes.

You can also use a pot and put the batter inside it and cover with a plastic bag in order to keep the steam and let the koba cook faster.

9- Serve it hot and enjoy the taste of this wonder.

A koba would be perfect with a cup of tea, coffee, chocolate, or milk! Do not forget to share and enjoy it with your friends and relatives.

 

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This website was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.