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The politics of Biden’s democracy Summit

Colombo: The “Democracy Summit” that US President Joe Biden is organizing on December 9 and 10 (in the virtual mode), is ostensibly meant to promote democracy and human rights across the world. Announcing the summit in August, the White House said the meeting would "galvanize commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: (1) defending against authoritarianism (2) fighting corruption, and (3) promoting respect for human rights". Laudable goals indeed. But a deeper look at the...

SOUTH ASIAN BRIEF

India has lost its leverage in Afghanistan

Welcome to  South Asia Brief.

The highlights this week: India struggles for influence in Taliban-led Afghanistan, a digital payment platform sets out to become India’s most valuable tech firm, and a U.N. official issues grave warnings about Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis.

India Hosts Security Conference on Afghanistan

On Wednesday, India hosted a regional security...

Reports

Lankan Tamil team seeks proactive US role in ali...

Colombo: A joint delegation of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), which met top American officials between November 15 and 22, sought a proactive US government role “in alignment with India” in promoting a holistic approach to ethnic reconciliation in...

Time for Japan to stop funding coal power in Ban...

Non-governmental organizations have filed a formal complaint against the Japan International Cooperation Agency – the first of its kind – to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The complaint addresses JICA’s false assertion that its bond issued on US markets was free from involvement in coal-fueled...

Chinese navy is planning ahead. India’s approach...

Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh commissioned the fourth of the Scorpene-class submarines — INS Vela — Thursday. A few days back, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh commissioned the first of the Visakhapatnam class of destroyers. There is no denying that the commissioning of both these vessels...

Pakistan ‘welcomes’ second round of US-Taliban t...

Pakistan has “welcomed” a second round of talks between the United States and the Taliban since the latter’s takeover of Afghanistan earlier this year, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) spokesperson says. Addressing a weekly press briefing in capital Islamabad on Thursday, MoFA spokesman Asim...

SAM Special

For India’s opposition to recover, the Gandhis should quit

The indian national congress is the grand old party of the world’s biggest democracy. Its president is Sonia Gandhi, the 74-year-old widow of Rajiv Gandhi, a former prime minister who was also the son and grandson of prime ministers. Its de facto leader is Rahul Gandhi, Rajiv’s and Sonia’s 51-year-old son. Priyanka Gandhi, their 49-year-old daughter, is a general secretary. Somebody named Gandhi has run the party for all but six of the past 43 years....

Issues

The democratic backsliding of India

What is the Global State of Democracy report which has recently categorised India as a ‘major decliner’? The story so far: Between 2016 and 2020 the number of countries that have moved towards authoritarianism has been steadily increasing and outnumbering the number of countries that have...

Myanmar’s army is fighting a multi-front war

Black clouds twisting from the fire soar far into the sky, obscuring the mountains. Below, the hills, planted with red-roofed houses, show no signs of life, except for one thing: a young soldier of the Myanmar army stands with his arms folded, leaning against the...

Afghan women speak up against new Taliban media...

Afghan journalists and activists have expressed concern over a new “religious guideline” issued by Taliban rulers, saying the move is yet another form of control over women. The Taliban, which took over  Afghanistan roughly 100 days ago, on Sunday urged female journalists to follow a...

Ajit Doval was my batchmate, but his understandi...

If my memory serves me right, the mighty Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Advisor of the Union Cabinet Minister rank and I, took the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India on the same day — 3/4 July 1968 — at the salubrious campus...

Editor`s Choice

Living with Covid-19: Coming to grips with our anger and angst

Living with Covid-19: Coming to grips with ou...

They call it ennui. You know, that lingering mix of feelings of listlessness and tedium, of being adrift, bereft of neither a sense of anticipation,...
How the U.S. hid an airstrike that killed dozens of civilians in Syria

How the U.S. hid an airstrike that killed doz...

In the last days of the battle against the Islamic State in Syria, when members of the once-fierce caliphate were cornered in a dirt field...
As Malaysia’s bumiputra policy turns 50, citizens debate impact of affirmative action

As Malaysia’s bumiputra policy turns 50, citi...

Firdaus Jesfrydi, 26, has a profile that makes him a perfect match for Malaysia’s majority affirmative action policy. The ethnic Malay grew up in a home...

Focus

Central Asia hooking up to CPEC

The information war is so intense nowadays that unsung melodies are often more alluring that the sung ones. The lines from English poet Shelley’s famous ode To a Skylark come to mind — ‘In the broad day-light / Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight…’  Two events in the past fortnight indicated growing optimism about Afghanistan’s future. Both developments signify that the scaffolding for improved regional connectivity, economic development, and governance is coming up,...
Of the all the politicians I have met or worked with, Mamata Banerjee ranks with JP (Jayaprakash Narayan), Morarji Desai, Rajiv Gandhi, Chandrashekhar, and P V Narasimha Rao who meant what they said and said what they meant. In Indian politics that is a rare quality."
Subramanian Swamy, BJP leader on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata