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“One Solution, Gun Solution”

The sense of siege hit early, in the air, long before seeing the barbed-wire barricades and security forces armed to the teeth blocking the way. Fifteen minutes before the plane touched down at Srinagar, an announcement was made asking the passengers to close the windows. The staff went around making sure all windows are shut—“An order from the DGCA, sir,” one of the flight attendants said upon enquiry, referring to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. First there was mild disbelief, then there was mocking. A Kashmiri passenger next to me laughed and said, “This is nazarbandi”—house arrest. Others repeated the word as if they were adding it to their vocabulary. Some of them, curious, opened the windows halfway to peep out but closed them in a hurry. It was 7.30 am and I saw a glimpse of the verdant green Valley enveloped in grey monsoon mist. “Probably they don’t want us to see how many (security) forces they have brought into the Valley,” one person said. The passenger was coming home for Eid, which was the next day, on 12 August.

Some tried to laugh about it while others looked anxious. Soon, they had to figure out how to reach their destinations. As the flight landed on the runway, many passengers switched on their cell phones and kept staring at them, probably out of habit, and maybe some hope. The reality struck them soon enough. The Valley has been under strict lockdown since 5 August, with no communication services, when the union government effectively abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution. The green ticker at the tourist department counter next to the baggage belt kept flashing the message: “Welcome to the paradise on earth.”

https://caravanmagazine.in/conflict/one-solution-gun-solution-gun-solution-kashmir-in-shock-and-anger

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Posted by on September 14, 2019 in Asia

 

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The scorched corpses of Nagasaki should be a grim restraint to the chest beating in India, America and Iran

We like our anniversaries in blocks of 50 or 100 – at a push we’ll tolerate a 25. The 100th anniversary of the Somme (2016), the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain (2015). Next year, we’ll remember the end of the Second World War, the first – and so far the only – nuclear war in history.

This week marks only the 74th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It doesn’t fit in to our journalistic scorecards and “timelines”. Over the past few days, I’ve had to look hard to find a headline about the two Japanese cities.

But, especially in the Middle East and what we like to call southeast Asia, we should be remembering these gruesome anniversaries every month. Hiroshima was atomic-bombed 74 years ago on Tuesday, Nagasaki 74 years ago on Friday. Given the extent of the casualty figures, you’d think they’d be unforgettable. But we don’t quite know (nor ever will) what they were.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/india-pakistan-israel-nuclear-war-donald-trump-iran-saudi-arabia-a9046566.html

 
 

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The other opioid crisis

Dr M. R. Rajagopal has been called the “father of palliative care in
India”. He has spent more than two decades doing clinical work and
advocacy to improve care for the dying and those suffering from
life-threatening illnesses. The use of opioids for pain relief is
crucial to this work. Yet he has had to fight to prescribe them,
including amending the country’s legislation. “Only a tiny, tiny
minority of people in India have access to pain relief,” he says. “We
have people travelling as far as 300km to get their refill of morphine
prescriptions. There are many states where it is totally unavailable.”
According to Human Rights Watch, 96 per cent of needy patients in India
can’t access opioids. Now Rajagopal is worried that the dependency
crisis in the US will harm the slow progress being made in India.

https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/5393/the-other-opioid-crisis

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2019 in Asia, Reportages

 

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The World Needs a Water Treaty

During the face-off earlier this year between India and Pakistan over a terrorist attack that killed more than 40 Indian paramilitaries in Kashmir, New Delhi made an existential threat to Islamabad. The weapon was not India’s considerable nuclear arsenal, but one still capable of inflicting ruinous destruction: water.

“Our government has decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan,” said Indian Transport Minister Nitin Gadkarikin on February 21. “We will divert water from eastern rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.” India controls three major rivers that flow into Pakistan.

If India had followed through, it would have abrogated the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT) between the two counties, a move that could be considered an act of war.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/07/16/the-world-needs-a-water-treaty/

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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Russia-India-China will be the big G20 hit

It all started with the Vladimir Putin–Xi Jinping summit in Moscow on June 5. Far from a mere bilateral, this meeting upgraded the Eurasian integration process to another level. The Russian and Chinese presidents discussed everything from the progressive interconnection of the New Silk Roads with the Eurasia Economic Union, especially in and around Central Asia, to their concerted strategy for the Korean Peninsula.

A particular theme stood out: They discussed how the connecting role of Persia in the Ancient Silk Road is about to be replicated by Iran in the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). And that is non-negotiable. Especially after the Russia-China strategic partnership, less than a month before the Moscow summit, offered explicit support for Tehran signaling that regime change simply won’t be accepted, diplomatic sources say.

Putin and Xi solidified the roadmap at the St Petersburg Economic Forum. And the Greater Eurasia interconnection continued to be woven immediately after at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, with two essential interlocutors: India, a fellow BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and SCO member, and SCO observer Iran.

https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/06/article/russia-india-china-will-be-the-big-g20-hit/

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in Asia, Economy, Europe, Middle East

 

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How Narendra Modi Seduced India With Envy and Hate

Before dawn on Feb. 26, Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist prime minister of India, ordered an aerial attack on the country’s nuclear-armed neighbor, Pakistan. There were thick clouds that morning over the border. But Mr. Modi claimed earlier this month, during his successful campaign for re-election, that he had overruled advisers who worried about them. He is ignorant of science, he admitted, but nevertheless trusted his “raw wisdom,” which told him that the cloud cover would prevent Pakistani radar from detecting Indian fighter jets.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Asia

 

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Modi does it again

That Narendra Modi’s party would win again was never really in dispute. The only question was whether the BJP (the Bharatiya Janata, or Indian Peoples’ Party), would emerge merely as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, and thus be forced to seek coalition partners, or whether it would repeat its astonishing success of 2014 and govern alone. In the end it did better than that. The BJP-dominated alliance now has 351 seats, the Congress alternative 95. The size and scale of the victory is breathtaking. In West Bengal, a state run by the Communist Party for forty years (and subsequently by a maverick Congress split-off), the BJP won 18 seats out of 42. The left and other ‘secular forces’ were wiped out without trace. In Uttar Pradesh, the largest state, the BJP won again, and the Congress lost Amethi, a pocket borough of the Nehru family that had voted blindly for the dynasty for almost half a century. Were it not for India’s quaint electoral laws permitting the same candidate to contest seats in a number of constituencies, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress leader, would not even be in the new parliament. As the results started coming in, a veteran Congress leader in Bhopal, Ratan Singh, had a heart attack and dropped dead. A tragedy overlaid with symbolism. There was some resistance to the BJP, especially in the south: in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP didn’t win a single seat. But overall the results showed that, contrary to the predictions of the commentariat, there was no anti-incumbency vote. If anything, the opposite. This has never happened before in Indian politics.

The main opposition, the Congress, turned the campaign into a referendum on Modi. Could the tea-seller’s son, an untutored, uncouth, bigoted, small-town petit bourgeois (who can’t speak English) be trusted again? India’s electorate has now provided the answer. They love their Modi. Another landslide victory for the orchestrator of pogroms against Muslims. The post-independence consensus which some yearn for is dead and cremated. The BJP and its parent organisation, the Hindu nationalist RSS, are now pacemakers, embedded in the heart of a modernising Indian state and using all its facilities and resources to impose their ideological views and punish those who don’t conform. History is a crucial battleground and is being systematically rewritten to chime with the Hindutva ideology. We can only hope they don’t go so far as to burn the books of Romila Thapar (a bête noire of the BJP because of her knowledge of ancient Indian history) and Irfan Habib’, or treat Arundhati Roy as Joan of Arc. What’s not in doubt is that most mainstream publishers will be scared away from publishing critical, scholarly works on the origins and development of Hinduism, the RSS etc. This is already happening and will get much worse. Self-censorship, the result of fear, cowardice and declining profits, eats the soul.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n11/tariq-ali/modi-does-it-again

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2019 in Asia, Uncategorized

 

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Shocked by the rise of the right? Then you weren’t paying attention

The morning after both Donald Trump’s victory and the Brexit referendum, when a mood of paralysing shock and grief overcame progressives and liberals on both sides of the Atlantic, the two most common refrains I heard were: “I don’t recognise my country any more,” and “I feel like I’ve woken up in a different country.” This period of collective disorientation was promptly joined by oppositional activity, if not activism. People who had never marched before took to the streets; those who had not donated before gave; people who had not been paying attention became engaged. Many continue.

Almost three years later the Brexit party, led by Nigel Farage, is predicted to top the poll in European parliament elections in which the far right will make significant advances across the continent; Theresa May’s imminent downfall could hand the premiership to Boris Johnson; Trump’s re-election in 2020 is a distinct possibility, with Democratic strategists this week predicting only a narrow electoral college victory against him. “Democrats do not walk into the 2020 election with the same enthusiasm advantage they had in the 2018 election,” said Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA, the largest Democratic political action committee.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/24/country-racist-elections-liberals-anti-racism-movement

 
 

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523 lions and one voter live in Gir forest. This is how he casts his ballot

There are lions in India. At least 523 of them, according to the 2015 census, though unofficial counts put the number north of 600.

Unlike their more glamorous tiger cousins, who live across the country in natural reserves, the Asiatic lions are all concentrated in one location: Gir forest, a large savannah-like setting in the Junagadh district of Gujarat. They live there, protected by wildlife laws and hopefully multiplying, with hundreds of leopards—which are far more ferocious, and dangerous to humans—and a much rarer species: A lone specimen of Indian election voter.

https://qz.com/india/1607559/how-the-lone-voter-in-indias-gir-forest-casts-his-ballot/

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Asia, Uncategorized

 

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The Secret to Modi’s Success

On the face of things, Narendra Modi has failed variously and spectacularly as India’s prime minister. After pledging to create millions of jobs, he has, according to a leaked government report, presided over a dramatic rise in unemployment among young Indians. Vowing to vanquish terrorism, he took most currency notes out of circulation and cracked down hard in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir has since witnessed a sharp spike in militancy and its biggest terrorist attack in years.

Swearing ferocious vengeance against Pakistan, Modi has had to resort to dubious claims about destroyed terrorist camps and hundreds of dead Pakistanis in order to appear a man of his word. Indeed, in an effort to back up claims that India’s economy has grown faster under his leadership than his predecessors’, his government has even imperiled the credibility of India’s official data.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-04-14/narendra-modi-is-india-s-teflon-prime-minister

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Asia

 

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