21 January 2019

India ranks third in research on artificial intelligence

Jacob Koshy

India ranks third in the world in terms of high quality research publications in artificial intelligence (AI) but is at a significant distance from world leader China, according to an analysis by research agency Itihaasa, which was founded by Kris Gopalakrishnan, former CEO and co-founder of Infosys.

The agency computed the number of ‘citable documents’— the number of research publications in peer-reviewed journals — in the field of AI between 2013-2017 as listed out by Scimago, a compendium that tracks trends in scientific research publications.
China stands first

India, while third in the world with 12,135 documents, trailed behind China with 37, 918 documents and the United States with 32,421 documents.

However, when parsed by another metric ‘citations’— or the number of times an article is referenced — India ranked only fifth and trailed the United Kingdom, Canada, the U.S. and China. “This suggests that India must work at improving the quality of its research output in AI,” said Dayasindhu N., one of the authors of the report ‘Landscape of AI/ML (Machine Learning) Research In India’.

Balancing act in Afghanistan

Michael Kugelman

In recent weeks, a new policy conundrum has emerged for the U.S. as it attempts to help launch a peace process in Afghanistan. Soon after the U.S. government formally requested Pakistan’s assistance to bring the Taliban to the table, Islamabad helped facilitate meetings between senior Taliban representatives and U.S. officials in Abu Dhabi. The U.S. government appears to be acknowledging that Pakistan, given its influence over the Taliban, is an important and potentially helpful player in the peace process in Afghanistan.

However, it has also signalled its desire for India, its growing defence partner, to be more involved in reconciliation efforts and in Afghanistan more broadly. At various times during his term, President Donald Trump — sometimes crudely, as with his mocking comment about New Delhi limiting itself to building libraries in Afghanistan — has suggested that New Delhi step up its game. The recent visit to India of Zalmay Khalilzad (in photo), the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, highlights the importance that Washington accords to India in Afghanistan.

Centre slams Pakistan after it says India has no role to play in Afghanistan

Rubbishing Pakistan’s contention that India has “no role” in Afghanistan, New Delhi on Friday made it clear that Islamabad could not decide the position of another country in regional or global affairs.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal, while responding to a question on US President Donald Trump’s remarks about India playing a role in the war-torn country, had said on Thursday: “India has no role in Afghanistan.”

Reacting to Faisal’s comments, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “It is not for Pakistan to decide as to what role another country has in regional or global affairs. Pakistan also cannot decide on behalf of an independent and sovereign country, Afghanistan, and dictate to them as to how to conduct their foreign policy.”

Kumar said Pakistan should instead “introspect its own role and responsibility in the precarious situation in Afghanistan; put an end to all kind of support to cross-border terrorism from territories under Pakistan’s control, and join international efforts to bring inclusive peace to Afghanistan”.

Agonizing over Afghanistan


After more than 17 years, the time has come to accept two important truths about the war in Afghanistan. The first is that there will be no military victory by the government and its American and NATO partners. Afghan forces, while better than they were, are not good enough and are unlikely ever to be capable of defeating the Taliban.

This is not simply because government troops lack the unity and often the professionalism to prevail, but also because the Taliban are highly motivated and enjoy considerable backing at home and from Pakistan, which provides them critical support and sanctuary.

The second truth is that peace negotiations are unlikely to work. Talks have taken place on and off over the years, but diplomacy is never far removed from facts and trends on the ground. Both work against a negotiated settlement.

In Chaotic Afghan Capital, Crackdown on Crime Is Turning Heads

By Mujib Mashal

KABUL, Afghanistan — Even when Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, is not attacked by suicide bombers, it is often gripped by gun-toting crime syndicates that receive protection from the country’s elite.

If the national government cannot prevent chaos in the seat of its power, many are left wondering, how can it stand against an insurgency in far-flung and remote corners of the country?

“The people’s concerns in society, particularly in big cities, also stem from thuggish groups who talk of force, who break the law, who have irresponsible armed militias,” Lt. Gen. Sayed Mohammad Roshandil, the Kabul police chief, said in an interview with The New York Times.

China’s Economy in 2019: Is a Reality Check in Store?

First, the good news. Stock markets in China and Hong Kong strengthened on Monday with the start of the two-day talks between negotiators from the U.S. and China to iron out their trade conflicts. It helped symbolically that China’s vice-premier, Liu He, widely considered the country’s economic czar, “dropped by the talks to spur on the negotiators,” The Washington Postreported.

Yet, simmering below the surface are deep divisions between the two countries involving allegations of state-sponsored theft of intellectual property rights and discriminatory trade practices. Over the past year, a hardening China stance by the Trump administration and a defiant Chinese President Xi Jinping resulted in tit-for-tat tariff hikes until a temporary, three-month truce was arrived at before duties jump from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of U.S. imports from China. In fact, both the U.S. and China would lose in what looks more like a “cold war” rather than a trade war, as Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett wrote in Knowledge@Wharton recently.

China’s Helium-3 Program: A Global Game-Changer

By Jeremy Beck

China is now leading the world into an industrial and scientific revolution, the sheer scale of which will of necessity soon require an entirely new form of energy, never before mastered on Earth: controlled thermonuclear fusion power, using helium-3 (He-3) as its fuel. The He-3 isotope is extremely rare on Earth, but exists in abundance on the Moon, and the Chinese leadership has already begun an ambitious program to acquire it. About three-fourths of China’s energy is now produced by coal-fired power plants, but a typical coal train of more than a kilometre long, carrying 5,000 tonnes of coal, would be replaced by just 40 grams of He-3, dramatically reducing transportation costs. Just eight tonnes of He-3 in fusion reactors would provide the equivalent energy of one billion tonnes of coal, burned in power stations. China’s plan to bring back He-3 from the Moon will benefit not only the Chinese, but all mankind, just as any scientific breakthrough anywhere in the world has always done. Moreover, China is not alone in needing huge new supplies of energy. Human civilisation now and in the foreseeable future already requires orders of magnitude more energy, while per capita energy consumption must also rise dramatically, if we are to eliminate poverty and transform industry, agriculture, transport and water management everywhere.

As West Grows Wary, Chinese Investment Plummets

By Keith Johnson, Elias Groll

Chinese investment in the United States and Europe dropped sharply in 2018 after a couple of gangbuster years as Beijing seeks to control flows of capital and advanced economies grow warier of China’s economic influence.

Last year, Chinese firms invested just $30 billion in the United States, Canada, and Europe, a stark reversal from the $111 billion invested in 2017 and the $94 billion in 2016, according to new research from the law firm Baker McKenzie and the Rhodium Group.

The drop was especially sharp in the United States, which is locked in a trade war with Beijing and which is tightening restrictions on Chinese investment. Inflows fell from about $45 billion two years ago to just $5 billion in 2018. And on the year, Chinese firms sold off $13 billion worth of assets in North America.

China seeks big-ticket payback from Myanmar


As China surges forward again in Myanmar, new pressure to restart a controversial dam project could represent a watershed moment for bilateral relations.

The Beijing-backed US$3.6 billion Myitsone dam project, which if built as previously designed would flood 600 square kilometers of forestland in northern Kachin state and export 90 % of the power produced to China, was suspended by Myanmar’s previous military-dominated government in September 2011.

In justifying the landmark decision, seen by many at the time as the beginning of a shift away from China, then Myanmar president Thein Sein said the project, “it was against the wishes of the people.”

The dam is designed to block a confluence that forms the culturally significant Irrawaddy River, the nation’s longest running from north to south. The project was previously strongly opposed by local Kachins and across the entire country.

‘A Chinese Military That is Active Everywhere:’ DIA China Military Power Report


WASHINGTON: China is not ready to wage war far beyond the shores of Taiwan, but it is pressing hard to develop some advanced weapons and increasingly wants to project power beyond its shores with an increasingly capable military.

Those are the fundamental conclusions of the Defense Intelligence Agency in a unique report with its roots in the Cold War. Known as China Military Power, it was inspired by a similar enterprise known as the Soviet Military Power report, first published in 1981, which was translated into eight languages and distributed around the world.

The Pentagon released the report today, as well as a handy dandy video to ensure the report’s assessments get as wide a distribution as possible.

Crackdown in Xinjiang: The Islamic World’s Achilles Heel

By Dr. James M. Dorsey

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A disagreement between major Indonesian religious leaders and the government on how to respond to China’s crackdown on Turkic Muslims raises questions about the Islamic world’s ability to sustain its silence about what amounts to one of the most concerted assaults on the faith in recent history.

Rejecting a call on the government by the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s top clerical body, to condemn the Chinese crackdown on Turkic Muslims that has seen up to a million Muslims detained in re-education camps in China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang, Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla recently insisted that the government will not interfere in the internal affairs of others.

The disagreement could take on greater significance after the elections in April, which incumbent president Joko Widodo is expected to win. Widodo’s vice-presidential running mate, Ma’ruf Amin, is the Ulema Council’s chairman. Since joining the ticket, Amin has retained his Council position as non-active chairman.

What Syria Stands to Lose A View From Raqqa, Where Normal Was Hard-Won

By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

In April 2018, I drove into Raqqa, Syria, for the first time since reporting eight months earlier on the fight that liberated the city from the Islamic State, known as ISIS. By April, Raqqa resonated not with mortar rounds but with drilling and the rattle of generators as the city’s residents unearthed the remains of their homes from the rubble that had engulfed them. A town once inhabited by ghosts now slowly shook itself back to life, through sheer force of will and intestinal fortitude.

As I drove into the city, I found one sight particularly befuddling. There on a street full of crushed buildings was a black, proudly hanging sign, behind which a young man sat in front of dozens of glass bottles: a perfume shop, the only storefront open on its street. Who, in all the world, would open a perfume shop in a city that had just emerged from under the black curtain of war and ISIS rule? A place that needed construction companies and grocery shops and pharmacies, to be sure—but perfume?

Why Israel’s Upcoming Election Is a Show About Nothing

Avner Inbar

JERUSALEM—In three months, Israelis will head to the polls in what may become one of the most sensational yet least significant elections in their country’s recent memory. The race is already generating ample drama, with political parties forming and breaking up on what seems like an almost daily basis. But the always entertaining horse-race coverage belies a hopelessly stagnant political system, and a public discourse disinterested in policy and ideas. 

The contest will not be between different ideological approaches or policy solutions to Israel’s mounting problems, but between a few prominent figures who run political parties like private businesses and conduct themselves like media celebrities rather than public leaders. At the end of a heated and nasty campaign, one of them will carry the day. And it will almost assuredly be Benjamin Netanyahu.

There’s No Way Americans Can Evacuate Seoul Before North Korea Demolishes the City

by David Axe

North Korea probably can level towns and cities faster than America and its allies can clear them of their residents.

More than 30 million people including hundreds of thousands of foreigners live within range of North Korea's 13,000 artillery pieces.

Artillery barrages in the opening hours of a full-scale war on the Korean peninsula could kill or injure 250,000 people, the U.S. Defense Department estimated.

But evacuating the vulnerable population could prove impossible, the California think-tank RAND explained in a January 2019 report .

The metropolitan area surrounding Seoul, which lies just 25 miles south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, alone is home to 25 million people including 1.5 million foreign nationals. 150,000 of the foreigners are Americans. Another million are Chinese.

Check Out All of the Places World War III Could Start in 2019

by Robert Farley

The flashpoints may change over time, but the fundamental foundations of conflict—the decay of U.S. military hegemony and of the global international order that has accompanied it—mean that the near future will likely become more hazardous than the recent past.

The world has avoided war between major power war since 1945, even if the United States and the Soviet Union came quite close on several occasions during the Cold War. In the first two decades following the fall of the Berlin Wall, great power war seemed virtually unimaginable. Today, with China’s power still increasing and Russia’s rejection of the international order apparently complete , great power conflict is back on the menu.



Russia has set out to enhance its influence across Latin America, once a Western bastion of Soviet support, as hopes of a rapprochement with the United States fade and a new, risky plan to counter its global influence is put into place.

The appearance of nuclear-capable Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers in Venezuela last month garnered much media attention as the Russian flight coincided with a hardening U.S. stance against the ailing, socialist-led South American nation and White House threats to withdraw from a Cold War-era treaty banning the deployment of intermediate-range missiles. Days later, in a development even more reminiscent of that historic battle of superpowers, a report surfaced in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper suggesting that Moscow may commit to establishing a full-fledged base on its ally off of the Caribbean.

It’s not just the US: around the world, doors are shutting on Chinese investment

In recent months, Germany, France, Britain, the European Union, Australia, Japan and Canada have all joined an unprecedented global backlash against Chinese capital, citing national security concerns. Dealmakers now wonder whether this dynamic will run its course or should be taken as a new normal.

Outside the US, Chinese acquisitions have increasingly run into trouble. In August, the German government for the first time vetoed a Chinese takeover – the nuclear equipment maker Yantai Taihai’s proposed acquisition of Leifeld Metal Spinning, which specialises in manufacturing for Germany’s aerospace and nuclear industries – on national security grounds.

In May, Canada blocked a proposed takeover of the construction firm Aecon by a unit of China Communications Construction, also invoking national security reasons.

America's New Africa Strategy

by Dan Steinbock

U.S., China and African Economic Development

Recently, the White House released its new U.S. Africa strategy, which seeks militarization and portrays China as a threat. Both are misguided. Africa can greatly benefit from Chinese and U.S. economic development.

On December 13, 2018, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton gave a speech in the conservative Heritage Foundation about the Trump administration’s new “Africa strategy," based on Trump’s ‘America First’ foreign policy doctrine.

In the United States, the media focus was on Bolton’s attack against U.S. adversaries and American aid. Specifically, Boston accused Russia and China of “predatory practices" in Africa.

U.S. Authors Suffer Drastic Decline In Earnings

The Authors Guild recently published a survey showing that U.S. authors have suffered a massive decline in earnings over the past decade. The drop is hitting all categories of authorship with literary fiction writers worst affected. They suffered a 43 percent fall in earnings since 2013. There was an exception to the trend, however, and that is self-published authors. While they saw their book-related income nearly double since 2013, it remains 58 percent lower than authors who are traditionally published. In 2007, median income for all U.S. author categories was $12,850 and that sunk to a historic low of $6,080 by 2017.

The Guild said that the trend is seriously concerning for the future of American literature. Its president, James Gleick, said that "when you impoverish a nation's authors, you impoverish its readers". There is a myriad of reasons for the grim decline and Amazon's dominance of the market place stands out. Even though it can prove positive for some authors and especially those seeking to self-publish, Amazon forces publishers to accept narrower margins and those losses get passed onto authors in the form of lower advances and royalties.

U.S. Increasingly Concerned About a Chinese Attack on Taiwan

By Lara Seligman

The U.S. Defense Department is increasingly concerned that China’s growing military might could embolden it to launch a full-out attack on Taiwan.

A new assessment of China’s military power published by the department’s Defense Intelligence Agency hints that Beijing is building up its military capabilities so that it will have a range of options to attack Taiwan if it decides to—and potentially the United States if it intervenes militarily.

The news comes amid Washington’s renewed focus on Beijing’s mounting economic and military clout. The two countries are locked in a trade war that has roiled global markets and dampened economic outlooks. Meanwhile, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, in his first day on the job earlier this month, told his staff to focus on “China, China, China.”

January 17, 2019 AfricaDemocratization The Retreat of African Democracy The Autocratic Threat Is Growing

By Nic Cheeseman and Jeffrey Smith

In the decade following the Cold War, Africa saw many democratic success stories. In 1991, Benin and Zambia became the first former dictatorships to hold multiparty elections after the fall of the Soviet Union. In both countries, the opposition beat the incumbents. In 1994, South Africa replaced apartheid with majority rule, and soon after that, Nelson Mandela was elected president. Later that decade, Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi also held elections and saw power change hands. All told, by the middle of the first decade of this century, every major peaceful state in Africa except Eritrea and Swaziland, the continent’s last absolute monarchy, was, at least in principle, committed to holding competitive elections.

But in recent years, Africa’s political trajectory has begun moving in the opposite direction. In Tanzania, President John Magufuli has clamped down on the opposition and censored the media. His Zambian counterpart, President Edgar Lungu, recently arrested the main opposition leader on trumped-up charges of treason and is seeking to extend his stay in power to a third term. This reflects a broader trend. According to Freedom House, a think tank, just 11 percent of the continent is politically “free,” and the average level of democracy, understood as respect for political rights and civil liberties, fell in each of the last 14 years. The Ibrahim Index of African Governance shows that democratic progress lags far behind citizens’ expectations. The vast majority of Africans want to live in a democracy, but the proportion who believe they actually do falls almost every year.

U.S. Spies to Americans: China and Russia Are Coming to Get You

Kimberly Dozier

Yes, the Russians will get you, if the Chinese don’t get you first. That’s the message from U.S. spies who are tired of the naivete that keeps leading to devastating cyberhacks.

Packing for an overseas business trip? U.S. intelligence agencies want you to leave your phone and laptop at home. Their message: Spies are everywhere, and they are out to get you.

“Make no mistake, American companies are squarely in the crosshairs of well-financed nation-state actors,” said William Evanina, director of the federal government’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a news release that almost certainly went into the delete bin in a government-shutdown-focused Washington, D.C.

His stern warning was accompanied by a slew of online information released under the banner “Know the risk, Raise your shield,” one of those dorky government slogans in the “See something, say something” vein aimed at making all of us just a little more paranoid.

From Doom to Doom: Population Explosions and Declines

By George Friedman 

As population growth booms and slows, the only constant is panic. 

The United States appears to be facing a possible population crisis. Statistics from the National Institutes for Health show that the U.S. birthrate has declined to the extent that it cannot sustain the current population level. Conventional wisdom suggests that countries experiencing population decline – largely industrialized nations – face serious problems. Yet in the latter half of the 20th century, we feared the threat of an exploding population. There are some subjects for which any outcome appears dangerous: a growing population because it outstrips resources and a declining population because it threatens to slow the economy. Are warnings of a new crisis valid?

The Attention Economy Is a Malthusian Trap

Derek Thompson

On September 28, 2018, tech died.

That’s according to a widely circulated eulogy prepared by Vincent Deluard, a strategist at INTL FCStone, a financial-services company. “If technology is everywhere, the tech sector no longer exists,” he wrote. “If the tech sector no longer exists, its premium is no longer justified.” When the Financial Times got its hands on the document, it leaned into the death thesis, declaring: “The tech sector is over.”

In news reports, death has several definitions. When it applies to a person, it means the end of life. When it applies to a company or industry, it means the end of growth. Print is dead, live TV is dead, and Millennials killed American cheese; but you can still read a print newspaper with the TV on while eating a cheeseburger.

Commentary: Expect nerve-wracking risks in the global economy to emerge this year

By Kenneth Rogoff

CAMBRIDGE: As Mark Twain never said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you think you know for sure that just ain’t so.” 

Over the course of this year and next, the biggest economic risks will emerge in those areas where investors think recent patterns are unlikely to change. 

They will include a growth recession in China, a rise in global long-term real interest rates, and a crescendo of populist economic policies that undermine the credibility of central bank independence, resulting in higher interest rates on “safe” advanced-country government bonds.


A significant Chinese slowdown may already be unfolding. US President Donald Trump’s trade war has shaken confidence, but this is only a downward shove to an economy that was already slowing as it makes the transition from export- and investment-led growth to more sustainable domestic consumption-led growth. 

What If Karl Marx Was Right, Mostly?

Frank Li

Karl Marx is cherished in China as the father of communism, but condemned in America (as well as in the West) as a villain for the same reason. However, did you also know that he actually published a lot more on capitalism than on communism?

In my humble opinion, Marx's analysis of capitalism remains most thorough and insightful to date, his works on socialism were primitive, and he was completely wrong on communism. It's time to objectively assess him as a part of History 2.0.

1. Who is Karl Marx?

Karl Marx (5 May 1818 - 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, historian, political theorist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist.

Born in Trier to a middle-class family, Marx studied law and Hegelian philosophy. Due to his political publications, Marx became stateless and lived in exile in London, where he continued to develop his thought in collaboration with German thinker Friedrich Engels and publish his writings, researching in the British Museum. His best-known titles are the 1848 pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto, and the three-volume Das Kapital. His political and philosophical thought had enormous influence on subsequent intellectual, economic and political history and his name has been used as an adjective, a noun and a school of social theory.

The Future of Shale


Over the last ten years, the United States has become the world’s leading producer of oil and gas, going from energy import dependence to energy dominance. This shift is due to the ability to produce from shale plays, a story which started in Texas and grew to have global ramifications. In a new report, The Future of Shale: The US Story and Its Implications, Global Energy Center Senior Fellow Ellen Scholl looks at the factors which enabled the rise of oil and gas production from shale deposits, focusing on the developments which have transpired in Texas. 

This Global Energy Center report examines the Texas experience to draw lessons learned for countries hoping to utilize their shale resource potential and implications for global energy markets and geopolitics. The report concludes that the US case illustrates the challenges of operating in both a rural and an urban environment, underscores the unique advantages of the enabling ecosystem in the country, and demonstrates the importance of size and scale.

Venezuela’s New Opposition Leader Launches a Bold Gambit to Unseat Maduro

Frida Ghitis

Last Sunday, masked men intercepted a white van carrying Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido to a political meeting outside Caracas. They shoved Guaido into an SUV and sped away, taking into custody the man spearheading a bold and risky new strategy to try and reverse the country’s calamitous decline under President Nicolas Maduro.

Authorities freed Guaido after a short detention, perhaps because the incident was only meant to intimidate him, or maybe because the government is still unsure about how to deal with Guaido, who is raising the stakes in a way Maduro has not seen until now.

A week ago, the Venezuelan leader was sworn in for a new six-year term. The ceremony might have seemed like a pro-forma event in a presidency that began in 2013, continuing the country’s sharp left turn taken two decades ago by Maduro’s mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez. But Maduro’s second inauguration marks the beginning of a new phase of conflict in Venezuela, with the opposition launching a bold campaign whose international support is without precedent since the rise of Chavismo.

Globalization in transition: The future of trade and value chains

Global value chains are being reshaped by rising demand and new industry capabilities in the developing world as well as a wave of new technologies.

Even with trade tensions and tariffs dominating the headlines, important structural changes in the nature of globalization have gone largely unnoticed. In Globalization in transition: The future of trade and value chains (PDF–3.7MB), the McKinsey Global Institute analyzes the dynamics of global value chains and finds structural shifts that have been hiding in plain sight.

Although output and trade continue to increase in absolute terms, trade intensity (that is, the share of output that is traded) is declining within almost every goods-producing value chain. Flows of services and data now play a much bigger role in tying the global economy together. Not only is trade in services growing faster than trade in goods, but services are creating value far beyond what national accounts measure. Using alternative measures, we find that services already constitute more value in global trade than goods. In addition, all global value chains are becoming more knowledge-intensive. Low-skill labor is becoming less important as factor of production. Contrary to popular perception, only about 18 percent of global goods trade is now driven by labor-cost arbitrage.

Data breaches, cyberattacks are top global risks alongside natural disasters and climate change

By Danny Palmer

Both large-scale cyberattacks and mass incidents of data theft feature in the top five most likely risks in the WEF's Global Risks Report 2019. The WEF is an international group that aims to bring business leaders, politicians, and academics together to help shape the global agenda. This is the 14th annual edition of the report, which has been produced with insurance broking and risk management firm Marsh.

Cyberattacks and data breaches featured heavily in last year's report, ranking as third and fourth most likely global risks, only finishing behind extreme weather events and natural disasters. This year, massive data breaches and large-scale cyberattacks are ranked as the fourth and fifth most likely global risks, with failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation ranked second behind extreme weather. Natural disasters again ranked above cyberattacks and data breaches.