23 May 2018

In his 5th year, PM Modi needs to be a true pradhan sevak

Shashi Shekhar
Let me remind you of a moment four years ago, when Narendra Modi reached Parliament House for the first time as prime minister. He kneeled and touched his forehead to the ground before walking up the stairs to the highest decision-making institution in Indian democracy. The significance of the gesture wasn’t lost on anybody. The politician from Gujarat was reinventing for a new avatar. Now that his government is entering its fifth year, it won’t be out of place to ask: How successful has he been?

Romancing the West risks India’s regional influence


The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, that was launched in 2017 and became dormant, is moving toward resurrection. The complex restructuring of international relations and the arrival of Cold War 2.0 between Eurasian sovereignists and Atlantic integrationists has shifted to the Indo-Pacific region. New Delhi’s history of uneasy relations with Beijing, coupled with the sweeping and consolidating emergence of the pro-Western Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has spurred the rebirth of the Quad concept, which links India with Japan, Australia, and the US. The Quad project is aimed at deterring the rising influence of Beijing and Moscow in the Indo-Pacific theater. The counterbalancing act of Moscow and Beijing is challenging Washington’s hegemony in the region.

Building a reliable database of the Indian economy

Sudipto Mundle
Source Link

The ministry of statistics and programme implementation (Mospi) is often in the news for all the wrong reasons. It is criticized for the poor quality of data, gaps in the data or delays in the release of data. However, several initiatives are progressively putting the database of the Indian economy on a much firmer footing than in the past. The results should begin to show by the end of this year. The data on employment and unemployment has been the subject of much controversy lately. Generating data on employment for a country like India, with its dualistic structure, is particularly challenging. Over half the labour force is still dependent on agriculture, where the rhythm of production follows the weather cycle with long periods of seasonal unemployment between crops. Further, thanks to the high pressure of population on land and continuing land fragmentation, the phenomenon of what economists call underemployment or “disguised unemployment” is widespread. To illustrate, a family of five people may be cultivating a tiny plot of land which actually requires only two people working full-time. Everyone is underemployed and the production may be no more than what two people could have produced, i.e., zero productivity for the three superfluous workers.

Pakistan’s military is waging a quiet war on journalists

By Kiran Nazish 

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — On December 2, 2017, 40-year-old Raza Khan, a Pakistani political activist, disappeared from his home. When Raza wouldn’t answer his phone, Khan’s brother went to his residence in Lahore. He found the lights on, the curtains drawn, and the doors locked — but no sign of Raza. It wasn’t until one of Raza’s activist colleagues visited the house that they found a clue to why he’d disappeared: Raza’s computer was missing. Diep Saeeda, Reza’s colleague, immediately thought that one of Pakistan’s notorious intelligence agencies had taken him. “It could be no one else,” she told me. Saeeda visited police stations, hospitals, restaurants, and the morgue, looking for any trace of Raza. But she turned up nothing, and the authorities had no information either.

Malaysia and the Improbable Win of an Unlikely Alliance

A video clip of the then jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim playing in the background at an anticorruption rally with Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah, and Anwar’s one-time nemesis but now political ally, Malaysia’s former prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, October 14, 2017 The flag of Malaysia’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat, or People’s Justice Party (PKR), is turquoise-blue with red stripes at both ends. At its center is a stylized white “O.” It symbolizes the black eye of Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister, who was a rising political star in the 1990s until he criticized the ruling National Front, a right-wing coalition led by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and was shipped off to jail for alleged sodomy. In September 1998, before a show trial, Anwar was beaten up by a police chief. Thereafter, a photo of Anwar’s bruised face became a symbol of opposition to the National Front, which had, in one form or another, been in power since Malaysia achieved full independence in the early 1960s.

China, Trade and Artificial Islands

By George Friedman

China and the United States have agreed to substantially reduce the massive trade imbalance between the two countries, according to a joint statement released over the weekend. Also over the weekend, China reportedly landed military aircraft on artificial islands it built in the South China Sea. Though these issues don’t appear connected, they are: Both have to do with the relative power of China and the United States, and both deal with perceptions more than reality. Since President Donald Trump’s election, the United States has been deeply concerned with the balance of trade with China. For the United States, trade is a social issue. Increased trade with China has helped the U.S. economy as a whole by shifting production of certain goods to China’s low-wage economy. But it has also created severe social stress among those left unemployed or underemployed, a significant part of U.S. society.

US and China halt imposing import tariffs

China and the US say they will halt imposing punitive import tariffs, putting a possible trade war "on hold". The deal came after talks in the US aimed at persuading China to buy $200bn (£148bn) of US goods and services and thereby reduce the trade imbalance. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not give figures, but said the US would impose tariffs worth $150bn if China did not implement the agreement. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He described the deal as a "win-win choice"He said dialogue was the way to resolve such issues and "treat them calmly" in the future. How did the prospect of a trade war come so close?

DoD, White House Likely To Fight Chinese Monopoly on Rare Earth Minerals

The deep dive into the defense industrial base ordered by President Trump is complete, and after a final round of sign-offs from various cabinet secretaries it should hit the streets in the next several weeks, according to several people familiar with it’s progress.The review promises to be the most thorough look at the entirety of the manufacturing and production of defense materials ever attempted, involving several government agencies, surveys of large and small players in the supply chain, and a study of foreign materials used in the production of American weaponry. The effects of the study, coupled with a related executive order signed by Trump in December, could very well open a new front in the burgeoning trade war with China.

U.S.-China trade talks to sway world order

By Akihiko Tanaka / Special to The Yomiuri ShimbunOn May 3-4, a U.S. Cabinet-level trade delegation including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other senior officials visited Beijing to hold talks with their Chinese counterparts. Reports emerged that their meetings made no tangible progress, as the Americans demanded that China massively reduce its trade surplus with the United States while the Chinese remained adamant that their country was ready to take retaliatory action against U.S. exports to China. As a result, concerns have grown that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration will tilt further toward protectionism and that a possible trade war between the United States and China could profoundly affect the world economy.

5G becomes the latest battlefield in US-China tech war


One, two, three, four, five. Yes, five. China is powering ahead with its 5G program. The world’s second-largest economy has pumped billions of dollars into developing super-fast networks with the market expected to grow to 1.15 trillion yuan (US$180.5 billion) by 2026. Compared to the 4G sector, this would be a 50% growth ratio, a report by CCID Consulting, the country’s largest IT research firm and consultancy, highlighted. “China’s 5G industrial chain is relatively complete and it has developed certain advantages, [but] there are still some difficulties and bottlenecks,” Li Zhen, a senior analyst with CCID Consulting in Beijing,said.

Mahathir casts a cold, hard gaze at China

Source Link

Last week’s election of nonagenarian ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad in Malaysia, widely hailed as an important democratic milestone for the region, will also likely have wide-reaching strategic implications. Mahathir’s return to power promises to bring a more robust and assertive Malaysian foreign policy, particularly vis-à-vis China, and with it a possibly firmer collective regional position. As an undisputed strong leader who for decades played a central – and often controversial – role in regional affairs, Mahathir is expected to resume quickly his previous outsized role at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), a ten-member regional bloc.

New Iraqi Government Unlikely to Cozy up to Iran

The margins of victory among the competing electoral groups in Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections were extremely narrow, which will make the formation of a new government a volatile process in the coming months. While the Shiite groups will have the most impact on government formation and policy, the Kurds and Sunnis will be critical allies as Shiite leaders try to build parliamentary blocs. Iran's influence in Iraq is likely to remain strong even though its closest political allies saw disappointing results in the elections.

Now or Never: Israel Makes Its Move Against Iran

By Reva Goujon
Source Link

An unusual set of circumstances is enabling Israel to scale up attacks against Iran in Syria and risk a broader confrontation in the process. As Israel raises the stakes in its conflict with Iran, it will look to lock in U.S. security commitments in the region for the long haul. The White House's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal is a long-shot bet on regime change at odds with U.S. attempts to reduce its military burden in the region.  Russia's bark is often worse than its bite, but it will retain the clout to narrow the scope of U.S. and Israeli ambitions against Iran.

Rocking the Qasbah

Rohan Joshi

On May 8, 2018, US President Donald J Trump announced that the US was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and would reimpose sanctions on Iran had been in place prior to the deal. In doing so, Mr. Trump made good on his election campaign promises to either renegotiate or terminate the deal, which he had referred to as “an embarrassment” and the “worst deal negotiated” by the Obama administration. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, known more commonly as the Iran nuclear deal) was signed in July 2015 by members of the P5+1 (The US, China, Russia, France, the UK and Germany) and the EU with Iran. The deal required Iran to take steps to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions that would allow Iran to return to the fold of mainstream global trade and commerce.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, by the Numbers

Azerbaijan and Armenia both lay claim to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. This disputed region is located entirely inside Azerbaijan – indeed, it is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani – but the government in Baku hasn’t exercised political authority over it in decades. That honor falls to the ethnic Armenians who populate it. In fact, Nagorno-Karabakh had been a semi-autonomous Armenian enclave ever since the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, of which Azerbaijan was a part, the ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, backed by Armenia itself, fought a war with Azerbaijan to keep the territory. A truce was brokered in 1994, and though negotiations over its official resolution have continued ever since, they have been entirely unsuccessful.

Now Or Never: Israel Makes Its Move Against Iran

"Better now than never." These were the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a recent tweet affirming his country's resolve to block Iranian aggression at any cost. Perhaps no statement could better encapsulate the current Israeli mindset and resolve to block Iranian aggression at any cost. When else will Israel have the ear of a U.S. president willing to tear up a diplomatic deal and double down on Iran, the freedom to strike with impunity against targets in a state already ravaged by civil war, and a young Saudi prince willing to openly collaborate with the Jewish state against the Islamic republic?

Prevent, Deny, Defend: A Strategy For Dealing With Mass Public Attacks

Much of the time in this column, I write from the point of view of the individual victim and discuss ways that people can protect themselves and their families from attackers. But this week I want to flip the script a bit and focus on the steps that security managers, business owners and officials at schools and places of worship can take to help safeguard their facilities and the people inside them. To respond to active shooters, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program at Texas State University in San Marcos has developed the concept of "avoid, deny, defend." I prefer this terminology over the widely cited "run, hide, fight," because avoid and deny better describe the proper behavior in such a situation. But if we make "avoid, deny, defend" into "prevent, deny, defend," we create an excellent framework for thinking about how to create security programs to protect public spaces.

Macron's Foreign Policy Ambitions Meet France's Realities

The current global context gives France an opportunity to try to shape the European Union according to its needs, and to elevate its role in global affairs. But France still depends on key allies, such as the United States and Germany, to achieve many of its foreign policy goals. France will push to increase the European Union's military and economic autonomy, but its dependency on allies, and factors beyond its control, will limit its room for action. Since taking office a year ago, French President Emmanuel Macron has pursued a busy foreign policy agenda, pushing for greater European integration; visiting the United States, China and India, as well as more than two dozen other countries; authorizing airstrikes in Syria; intervening in a political crisis in Lebanon; and trying to preserve France's influence in its former African colonies. Macron's foreign policy goals — to reform the European Union according to France's views, while elevating France's influence on global affairs — follow France's strategic interests, which are simultaneously European and global.

Japan plans retaliatory tariffs against United States: NHK

Japan is considering tariffs on U.S. exports worth $409 million in retaliation against steel and aluminum import tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, media reported on Thursday. Such a move would signal Tokyo is ready to go beyond backdoor talks and pleas for exemptions from the U.S. duties. It would also add to a growing rift that Trump’s “America First” trade policies is creating among major economies, which threatens to slow global trade and business activity. Japan is the only major U.S. ally that did not receive exemptions from Trump’s tariff decision. But it has refrained from following in the footsteps of China and the European Union, which responded to the U.S. decision with reciprocal threats.

The world's biggest economies in 2018

Rob Smith
Source Link

The United States has the largest economy in the world at $20.4 trillion, according to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which shows the US economy increased from around $19.4 trillion last year. China follows, with $14 trillion, which is an increase of more than $2 trillion in comparison to 2017. Japan is in third place with an economy of $5.1 trillion, up from $4.87 trillion a year previously.

A study finds nearly half of jobs are vulnerable to automation

A WAVE of automation anxiety has hit the West. Just try typing “Will machines…” into Google. An algorithm offers to complete the sentence with differing degrees of disquiet: “...take my job?”; “...take all jobs?”; “...replace humans?”; “...take over the world?” 

From the moon’s far side, a radio receiver will listen for ancient clues to the universe’s origin

BY Echo Huang
Source Link

Neil Armstrong walked on the near side of our moon half a century ago. On Monday, China’s embarked on the first step of a mission to probe its far side, and even more ambitiously, search for glimpses of the universe’s origin. China launched the relay communication satellite Queqiao, or “bridge of magpies,” on May 21 at 5:28am Beijing time from its Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan province, according to the country’s space agency. Named for the birds in a Chinese folktalethat help connect two parted lovers once a year, Queqiao will connect earth to the Chang’e-4 lander and rover that China plans to launch towards the end of this year. It’s an essential step for the lunar exploration mission because direct communication is impossiblebetween the moon’s far side and the earth. If all goes as planned, China will become the world’s first nation to land on the far side of the moon by the end of the year.

White House eliminates top cyber adviser post


The Trump administration has eliminated the White House’s top cyber policy role, jettisoning a key position created during the Obama presidency to harmonize the government's overall approach to cybersecurity policy and digital warfare. POLITICO first reported last week that John Bolton, President Donald Trump's new national security adviser, was maneuvering to cut the cyber coordinator role, in a move that many experts and former government officials criticized as a major step backward for federal cybersecurity policy. According to an email sent to National Security Council staffers Tuesday, the decision is part of an effort to “streamline authority” for the senior directors who lead most NSC teams. “The role of cyber coordinator will end,” Christine Samuelian, an aide to Bolton, wrote in the email to NSC employees, which POLITICO obtained from a former U.S. official.

The Afro-Pessimist Temptation

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Not long ago in the locker room of my Harlem gym, I was the eavesdropping old head who thought Black Panther was another documentary about the militants of the Black Panther Party from the Sixties. I caught on from what the young white guy and the young black guy were talking about that Kendrick Lamar had written some of the film’s soundtrack. I almost said, “Lamar is woke,” but the memory of the first time I heard my father say a thing was “fly” rose up and shut my mouth.

Winning a propaganda war is as important as beating an enemy on a real battlefield

Ben Glaze

Winning a propaganda war is as important as beating an enemy on a real battlefield, a spy chief has warned. Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Marshal Phil Osborn, said tackling fake news and combating false cyber stories in war would be increasingly important. Air Marshal Osborn said “deception and counter-deception” operations would be “critical” in dealing with such threats. “We need to have a convincing justification and narrative for our actions while countering opposition disinformation and lies with the truth,” he told the Royal United Services Institute military think tank. “The fight for the narrative is arguably as important as the actual fight.” The senior RAF officer feared potential enemies had both new tools and the desire to use them. A full-scale cyber attack could cripple a country within minutes, he warned.