MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 20 FEBRUARY
PICTURE OF THE DAY
A photo issued in Feb 18, 2021, shows a giant projection of the NASA Mars 2020 mission logo on the north face of the Eiger mountain (left), NASA logo on the Monch mountain (center) and an astronaut on the Jungfrau mountain (right), by Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter, from the alpine resort of Mannlichen, Switzerland, Feb 14, 2021.
West’s prescription for South Asian agriculture is a recipe for disaster
Being the main job provider, agriculture is an important part of South Asian countries’ GDP. Providing food security for a growing population also offers rising opportunities for export. Nevertheless, agriculture, having been neglected for decades, has become the main reason for poverty. Farmers who make up 60% of the population in India provide 18% of the country’s GDP. 85% are marginal or poor farmers who own less than 3 acres of land. In Pakistan, agriculture provides 18.9% of the GDP with 42.3% of the workforce employed there.
Paradigm shift needed in Nepal-India ties
Nepal's open border with India has become a symbol of its special relationship with the southern neighbour. In recent years, many people in Nepal and India are beginning to speak up about the need to close the frontier. Then there is the amplification of anti-India sentiments in Nepali society as well as Nepal's growing proximity to China. Together, these phenomena are taken as signs that Nepal does not have an open relationship with India any more. However, the problem with Nepal-India ties is not that the relationship has changed, but that it has not changed enough. The apparent conflict in Nepal-India relations has emerged because our foreign policies have not changed with the times. In order to improve bilateral relations, vaccine diplomacy notwithstanding, India and Nepal need to implement a paradigm shift in their respective foreign policies.
UN experts express concern over India ending IIOJK’s special status, enacting new laws
Human rights experts of the United Nations have expressed serious concern over India's "decision to end Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy and enact new laws" that could curtail the earlier level of political participation of Muslims in the occupied valley. “The loss of autonomy and the imposition of direct rule by the Government in New Delhi suggests the people of Jammu and Kashmir no longer have their own government and have lost power to legislate or amend laws in the region to ensure the protection of their rights as minorities,” said Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues and Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
What Congress's sweep of Punjab municipal polls tells us about impact of farm protests
Not long ago, the ruling Congress in Punjab was facing a crisis of sorts. Its own MLAs were speaking against chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. The Punjab hooch tragedy last August that claimed over 120 lives widened the rift within the party after its senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa openly blamed Singh for the tragedy. As one thought the ruling government was losing grip on the ground, rural Punjab suddenly simmered with anger in wake of the BJP-led Centre’s move to pass three agriculture laws in mid-September, and the narrative changed.
How Russia’s special Afghan envoy wants to save the struggling peace process
Russian Special Envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov gave an exclusive interview to publicly financed Sputnik about his plan to save the country’s struggling peace process. He was quoted as condemning the US for unilaterally violating the deal that it agreed to last year with the Taliban, which he said was strictly adhering to the accord. Kabulov also proposed the creation of an inclusive transitional coalition government after the Taliban’s official political status is determined.
Malaysia says undocumented migrants will not be arrested during mass Covid-19 vaccination programme
The Malaysian government has assured undocumented migrants that they will not be arrested when they turn up to receive the Covid-19 vaccine when the mass vaccination programme kicks off next week. Minister in charge of immunisation coordination Khairy Jamaluddin said on Wednesday (Feb 17) that the government was looking to "build trust" with the undocumented migrant community in the country and would work with civil society and international organisations to help vaccinate those vulnerable.