Of a future Olympics in Xanadu

There are many ways to regard sports. One way is to hiss and fume at failure, as you could see prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi doing in a 2013 speech a friend forwarded. There’s little space to quote him entirely but the gist of Modi’s assertion was that he would tap talent from the army to get gold medals for India. We would wish he had consulted the army chief about the prospect.
I would, of course, go with anyone who finds in sports an expression of great pleasure that humans take in running, swimming, jumping, pirouetting, tossing javelins, kicking and slamming balls and shuttlecocks with dexterity. All these endeavours have been tested for better or worse with doping. But we’ve been doping for centuries although we don’t approve of it today.
A friend from sports advertising posted a message two hours before the women’s badminton final match in Rio that a billion Indians were praying for P.V. Sindhu to win the gold. I responded light-heartedly, which can be a risk in such matters, that prayers would be tantamount to cheating. Divine intervention, if there were such a thing, would be as good as doping, I said, as it would be an external, non-human factor in the outcome.
Moreover, to make matters more complicated, two sides praying for opposite results could disturb the divine order. If prayers did work, they seem to have worked for Spain’s Carolina Marin in Rio, not Sindhu, despite a billion people wooing divine meddling on her behalf. This takes me to the point about drugs as a controversial performance booster.
Sports used to be a great interlude in life, with or without dope. It wasn’t like nations going to war over a soccer match in Central America.
Performance-related concoctions are at least as old as sports and poetry. Reading the lines from Coleridge should convince anyone that conjuring some of the images he summons would be well-nigh impossible had the 19th-century poet not experimented with opium. Nor would Ghalib have become an invincible wordsmith without a goblet or two of an enhancing substance not dissimilar to dope. Using the logic of the Olympic rules, however, all their poetry should be deemed as illicitly written. It should be nullified forthwith, just as they took away Ben Johnson’s gold medal or barred the Russian contingent from seeking theirs.
“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/ A stately pleasure dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran/ Through caverns measureless to man/ Down to a sunless sea.” The lines were creative then, but they would be deemed inappropriate if they inspired Johnson’s fantastic run.
A new research in 2012 posits that John Keats’ reference to opium in his Ode to a Nightingale was rooted in the young poet’s use of opiate. “My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains/ My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk…” It is difficult to imagine the lines flowing from tap water.
Going by the Olympic rules, The Beatles would have to return their fame and fortune to the exchequer. Where would their ‘Nowhere Man’ be? Jimmy Hendrix should have found other inspirations to become a cult figure. Actor Naseeruddin Shah would probably not have slammed Rajesh Khanna as a beacon of mediocrity without violating the Olympic rules.
The use of drugs to boost performance in sports is known to have occurred since the time of the original Olympic Games, from 776 to 393 BC. The root of the word ‘doping’ apparently comes from the Dutch ‘doop’, which is a viscous opium juice, favoured by the ancient Greeks.
Prof Sharon Ruston of Lancaster University offers a different way to regard the history of literature in which drugs have played a major role. Before the 1868 Pharmacy Act in England, she says, “barbers, confectioners, ironmongers, stationers, tobacconists, wine merchants” all sold opium. She writes about other drugs that were legally available too. “It is possible that Queen Victoria, a figure considered the epitome of respectability, was prescribed a tincture of marijuana for menstrual cramps; there are unconfirmed reports that she wrote a testimonial for the hugely popular product Vin Mariani, a mixture of alcohol and cocaine, and she certainly enjoyed the ‘delightful beyond measure’ effects of chloroform when it was administered to her during childbirth.”
I’m not aware whether Nadia Comaneci or Bob Beamon took drugs to perform their magical feats in the Montreal and Mexico Olympics. The Olympic administrators may invite men and women with all the ampules of enhancers they want and see if that helps anyone challenge her perfect 10s and his high jump. Assume Sindhu and Marin had dope. Who would win?
And yet Sindhu has emerged as a great player for India, unsung though she was when she struggled to catch the public eye in Saina Nehwal’s unyielding presence. As far as badminton is concerned my fondness for the sport goes to the early 1970s when the Asian Badminton Championship came to Lucknow. Rudy Hartono, Punch Gunalan, Dinesh Khanna (or was it Nandu Natekar) were the stars. Damyanti Subedar with her long tresses was a lovely player to watch as was Rafia Latif with her delectable drop shots. Damyanti later married an Indian Air Force officer who went missing in action over Pakistan. She lives in the hope that Flt Lt Vijay Tambe is alive.
Sports used to be a great interlude in life, with or without dope. It wasn’t like nations going to war over a soccer match in Central America.
The modern Olympics, on the other hand, were greatly buoyed by Cold War rivalries. With the end of the Soviet empire the world of sports seems to have become a TV-induced neurosis infused with momentary highs. In which case why not seek a non-toxic way to find Xanadu? Unless someone, like Modi, wants to call in the army for an enhanced performance of a sport different from any we have known

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A Global Overview of the Reality of Guaranteed Basic Income

Are we on the brink of a work-free golden age? Money for nothing – it sounds like a utopia, but is now being trialled as government policy around the world. Variations on the idea of a guaranteed basic income are attracting global headlines as pilot studies are devised in the US, Canada, Finland and the Netherlands. Here we dig down into what those pilots actually mean; are we on the brink of a work-free golden age? Is it because the robots are taking all the jobs? Does this mean that Finns and Canadians will be paid to do whatever they like?

The idea has been around for decades. Richard Nixon proposed a variant in 1969 (run by Donald Rumsfeld and an assistant called Dick Cheney) and Canada ran a pilot in the town of Dauphin, Manitoba, in the 1970s. Those ultimately failed to overturn resistance to the very notion of simply giving poor people money. Now, however, the idea is enjoying a resurgence across the political spectrum as regular, contracted employment seems to be in danger of breaking up: either being chopped up into ‘gigs’ and freelance work, or being made obsolete by new technology and automation.

Because a guaranteed basic income appeals to people from the socialist left to the libertarian right, from European Green parties to the tech entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley, these trials are being constructed in very different ways and with very different objectives. Nevertheless, the government schemes in Finland, Holland and Canada are working in the same materials as the trial being set up by investment firm Y Combinator in Oakland, California, and the universal adoption proposed by citizens in Switzerland. Moreover, NGOs have been running schemes like this for more than a decade in countries such as Namibia, India and Brazil. The biggest ever trial is now being planned in West Africa.

Here are the five key things you need to know:

1) Governments are not thinking the same as tech optimists

The schemes in Switzerland or California are trying to achieve something different from the government equivalents. You can see that in how much money they’re offering. Y Combinator are thinking of giving people up to $2,000 a month, more than if they worked 40 hours a week at the minimum wage, while the Dutch example is half that, and the Finnish one is almost half again.

Technology will eliminate traditional jobs and create massive new wealth

Aside from the question of ready money, Y Combinator is making preparations for a future in which, according to its president, Sam Altman, ‘technology continues to eliminate traditional jobs and massive new wealth gets created’. The belief is that we are on the brink of a paradigm shift in how people get an income; that automation will make vast swathes of the populace unemployed, but will also create enough wealth to guarantee everyone a minimum standard of living. So instead of having to slave away at tedious tasks in exchange for our monthly pay packet, we’ll all be freed up to think of brilliant new entrepreneurial or creative means of contributing to the economy.

For governments, however, it is about a more efficient and humane way of providing welfare benefits to the poorest people in society. In Holland, for example, councillor Lisa Westerveld has said, ‘In Nijmegen we get $116million to give to people on welfare, but it costs $20million a year for the civil servants running the bureaucracy of the current system. We will save money with a “basic income”.’ And Finnish prime minister Juha Sipilä said his scheme was to ‘reduce bureaucracy and simplify the now complicated benefit system’.

2) People already get money for nothing

There are lots of ways in which governments already give people money to live, such as unemployment benefit. What supposedly makes a basic income different is that the money comes without any strings attached, i.e. no obligation to perform community work or look for a job. It is not supposed to be temporary. But money for nothing already exists in the state pension. And there are places where it – or something very close to it – already exists for people of working age.

Alaska pays every resident an annual Permanent Fund Dividend – a share in the profits from the state’s oil wealth. It’s nowhere near enough to live on, with the biggest ever payout, last year, set at $2,072. But it does work on a principle that is closely related to the arguments about a basic income: that society holds assets that all citizens own in common, like shareholders, and that can pay them a dividend.

Meanwhile, Brazil, which passed a law mandating a guaranteed basic income as long ago as 2004, runs a system which its government considers an intermediary step. Like equivalent programmes in other countries, notably Mexico, it gives cash to 12million poor Brazilian families in exchange for them doing things that are in their own interest, like keeping their children in school or attending medical check-ups. The obligations are minor and, in a context of extreme poverty, the results can be striking. When the Mexican programme started, children who were in it from birth grew a centimetre a year taller than those who weren’t. Nevertheless, conditional cash transfers do still operate on the principle that public servants know what is best for poor people and should incentivise them to do it.

3) The schemes in the developing world aren’t really analogous

Although basic income programmes in Namibia, India and rural Brazil have all had a striking impact on people’s quality of life, the context that they’re working in is so different that their findings can’t be easily transferred. For them, it’s not about the transition to an automated economy or efficient administration of a complex welfare system, it’s about borderline starvation among society’s poorest.

The Namibian study, for example, handed out 100 Namibian dollars a month, which was still significantly below the level of food poverty (defined as 152 NAD a month). The Indian and rural Brazilian schemes gave or give out a handful of dollars each month and one of the organisers of the Indian scheme, Professor Guy Standing, wrote in his summary of results that, ‘Perhaps the most important finding was the significant improvement in the average weight-for-age of young children.’

The crucial finding that could be transferred to the developed world is that the people in the studies didn’t work less; instead, they were more entrepreneurial and invested in their own long-term prosperity, buying things like better seeds or sewing machines. Where the analogy breaks down is in the way the schemes create incentives. Those incentives depend on comparison with the incentives created by other forms of support in those countries. And a semi-employed person in, say, Holland, is guaranteed vastly more than one in Namibia.

4) It actually all comes down to incentives

The main criticism of a basic income is that it will disincentivise people from working, a criticism that’s also made of existing welfare systems. Hugh Segal, who is in charge of advising Ontario on its basic income pilot, told Apolitical, ‘One of the problems we have with existing systems is that if someone does find work, there will be a clawback of benefits, not just financial benefits, but things like free medical care and housing support, so you end up with the contradiction that welfare programmes keep people trapped in poverty. So the challenge becomes: can you craft a programme that has a better impact than that?’

In any of these schemes, achieving that better impact will depend on the precise calibration of payments against welfare benefits and the living wage. For that reason, the proposed Canadian pilot would actually test various means of giving people money, such as a negative income tax (which was used in the Canadian ‘mincome’ pilot in the 1970s), a universal grant or upgrading existing income support. The Dutch scheme will have variations in which people are obliged or have the option to do work for the community.

Economic security will give people freedom to create a better job

Moreover, the incentives are not just about finding jobs. More than 60% of Canadians living in poverty are actually in work, for example, and the state can also place a value on incentivising people to do things like stay in education. In California, Y Combinator president Sam Altman writes, ‘We hope a minimum level of economic security will give people the freedom to pursue further education or training, find or create a better job, and plan for the future.’

What makes a guaranteed basic income different from giving people benefits in other ways is that it removes the paternalistic apparatus of carrot and stick. The fundamental divide on the subject is between those who believe that if you remove sanctions and obligations, people will get lazy or mess things up and those who believe that people will use their new freedom to achieve more. Proponents also believe that if you trust poor people to order their own affairs, they will do so better than public servants can plan.

5) It’s not utopia or bust

Just as we are not going to switch to an automated economy overnight, a basic income is not an all-or-nothing proposition. These pilots are not attempts to create a new kind of society this year or next; they are milestones that, if passed, will lead in that direction. If they succeed, they will establish the principle that you can simply give people money and trust them to use it in a way beneficial to themselves and, indirectly, to society. Once that principle is established, the system could be expanded in both scope and generosity, depending on whether the tech utopia actually comes to pass.

So what will a success look like? At its simplest, the schemes will have to demonstrate that guaranteeing people a basic income is a cheaper means of giving money to poor people than the means we have already, and that it encourages them to keep working and look after themselves better than a paternalistic state could.

If the participants in these schemes do that, we may well see basic income extended and replicated elsewhere. The pilots in the developing world suggest that it will come off. But the question boils down to one about human nature: if government stops using carrots and sticks to get people to move in the direction it wants, and instead gives them more control over their lives, what will they do with it?

Einstein’s thought experiments that changed life

Ideas have always moved the world and Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, forever changed the landscape of science by introducing revolutionary concepts that shook our understanding of the physical world.
One of Einstein’s most defining qualities was his remarkable ability to conceptualize complex scientific ideas by imagining real-life scenarios. He called these scenarios Gedankenexperiments, which is German for thought experiments.
Here are a few thought experiments that demonstrate some of Einstein’s most groundbreaking discoveries.
Imagine you’re chasing a beam of a light.
This is something Einstein started thinking about when he was just 16 years old. What would happen if you chased a beam of light as it moved through space?
If you could somehow catch up to the light, Einstein reasoned, you would be able to observe the light frozen in space. But light can’t be frozen in space, otherwise it would cease to be light.
Eventually Einstein realized that light cannot be slowed down and must always be moving away from him at the speed of light. Therefore something else had to change. Einstein eventually realized that time itself had to change, which laid the groundwork for his special theory of relativity.
Imagine you’re standing on a train.
Imagine you’re standing on a train while your friend is standing outside the train, watching it pass by. If lightning struck on both ends of the train, your friend would see both bolts of lightning strike at the same time.
But on the train, you are closer to the bolt of lightning that the train is moving toward. So you see this lightning first because the light has a shorter distance to travel.
This thought experiment showed that time moves differently for someone moving than for someone standing still, cementing Einstein’s belief that time and space are relative and simultaneity doesn’t exist. This is a cornerstone in Einstein’s special theory of relativity.
Imagine you have a twin in a rocket ship.
This thought experiment is a well-known variation of Einstein’s light-clock thought experiment, which has to do with the passage of time.
Let’s say you have a twin, born at almost the exact same time as you.
But the moment your twin is born, he or she gets placed in a spaceship and launched into space to travel through the universe at nearly the speed of light. According to Einstein’s special theory of relativity, you and your twin would age differently. Since time moves slower the closer that you get to the speed of light, your twin would age more slowly.
When the spaceship lands back on Earth, you might be trying to sort out your retirement, while your twin is just trying to get through puberty.
Imagine you’re standing in a box.
Imagine you are floating in a box, unable to see what’s happening outside of the box. Suddenly, you drop to the floor. So what happened? Is the box being pulled down by gravity? Or is the box being accelerated by a rope yanking it upward?
The fact that these two effects would produce the same results led Einstein to the conclusion that there is no difference between gravity and acceleration — they are the same thing.
Now consider Einstein’s previous assertion that time and space are not absolute. If motion can affect time and space, and gravity and acceleration are the same thing, that means gravity can actually affect time and space.
The ability of gravity to warp spacetime is a huge part of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
Imagine you’re tossing a two-sided coin.
Einstein wasn’t the biggest cheerleader for quantum theory. In fact, he was always coming up with thought experiments to try to disprove it. But it was these thought experiments that challenged the pioneers of quantum theory to perfect it down to its finest details.
One of Einstein’s thought experiments had to do with quantum entanglement, which Einstein liked to call “spooky action at a distance.”
Imagine you have a two-sided coin that can easily be split in half. You flip the coin and, without looking, hand one side to your friend and keep the other side for yourself. Then your friend gets on a rocket ship and travels across the universe.
Then you look at your coin. You see that in your hand you’re holding the heads side of the coin and instantaneously you know that your friend, who is billions of light years away from you at this point, is holding the tails side.
If you think of the sides of these coins as indeterminate, changing back and forth between heads and tails until the point in time that you look at one, then the coins can circumvent the speed of light, instantaneously affecting each other regardless of how many light years separate them.

Is Pakistan isolated?

Several Pakistani commentators have concluded that Pakistan is isolated because its relations with three of its four immediate neighbours are hostile. Some have ascribed this ‘failure’ exclusively to the absence of a fulltime foreign minister and the hydra-headed leadership at the Foreign Office.
Pakistan is far from isolated. It enjoys a very close strategic relationship with its largest neighbour China, the emerging superpower. Relations with Iran are complex, but not hostile, and can become cooperative. Relations with regional neighbours Saudi Arabia, the GCC and Turkey remain friendly, with considerable potential for collaboration. Pakistan enjoys influence within the wider international community due to its size, strategic location, military strength and economic potential.
That Pakistan’s relations with India are tense should come as no surprise. This is almost a historical norm. The hostility of a Hindu supremacist BJP government was anticipated by most Pakistanis, except the purblind. But Modi’s arrogance and belligerence towards Pakistan have outstripped anticipation, partly because of the perceived weakness in Islamabad, but mostly due to the shift in the global and regional strategic environment and India’s growing alignment with the US in the context of its rising rivalry with China.
This emerging US-Indian alliance has exacerbated Pakistan’s security challenges, reflected in American support for India’s massive arms build-up; wide-ranging US attempts to contain and neutralise Pakistan’s nuclear and missile deterrence capabilities; and growing US pressure on Pakistan to act against ‘terrorists’.
Its diplomacy has displayed several missteps which illustrate an absence of strategic direction. The strategic evolution has also complicated Pakistan’s relationship with the ‘unity’ government in Afghanistan. The Obama administration has accepted the Pentagon’s proposal for an indefinite US military presence in Afghanistan. Assured that American and Nato forces will stay indefinitely and prevent its collapse, Kabul has shifted from seeking reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban to demanding that Pakistan join in crushing them militarily. Fighting, rather than reconciling with the Taliban, has always been India’s preferred option.
Pakistan, with China’s cooperation, can meet India’s security challenge and maintain credible deterrence, nuclear and conventional. Pakistan has no compulsion to press for a dialogue so long as New Delhi refuses to address the fundamental issues of Kashmir and peace and security.
What Pakistan does need to reverse at present is, first, India’s long-standing attempts to sow domestic discord and destabilise Pakistan, including in Balochistan, rural Sindh and Karachi; and, second, the attacks against Pakistan’s civilians and security forces conducted by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan militants and the Balochistan Liberation Army insurgents from the territory of Afghanistan, with the sponsorship of Indian and Afghan intelligence.
Pakistan could respond effectively to these Indo-Afghan sponsored interventions. Kashmir remains India’s Achilles’ heel, as recent events illustrate. Pakistan also has the capability to eliminate TTP safe havens in Afghanistan. However, Pakistan is prevented from recourse to such robust responses by the political and security ‘umbrella’ extended by the US to Kabul and New Delhi. While extending limited help to counter the TTP’s safe havens in Afghanistan, the US is exerting pressure on Islamabad to fight the Afghan Taliban and clamp down on the pro-Kashmiri militants now outlawed as ‘terrorists’ at India’s instance.
Thus, in order to respond to India’s mischief and Kabul’s renewed hostility, Pakistan has to address, primarily, America’s alignment with these two neighbours. Pakistan will have to evolve policies which can neutralise those US positions which are antithetical to Pakistan’s vital interests, while preserving its vital strategic partnership with China. This is the major foreign policy challenge confronting Islamabad. This challenge is likely to become more daunting if, as anticipated, Sino-US rivalry and tensions escalate further.
Confronted by these regional and global strategic developments, Pakistan must formulate and execute its external policies with clarity and imagination. As Einstein said “You cannot solve problems at the same level of thinking where they were created.”
Unfortunately, Pakistan’s diplomacy has displayed several missteps which illustrate an absence of strategic coherence and direction. These include: the prime minister’s participation in Modi’s inauguration and inability to meet Kashmiri leaders; the Ufa declaration, emphasising terrorism and ignoring Kashmir; unwarranted confidence about bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table; uninvited admission of the presence of insurgent leaders in Pakistan; the fumbling response to the Saudi request for military support; the tepid reaction to Afghan and US assertions regarding Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and the US’ unilateral drone strike in Balochistan.
Almost all of these missteps have been the consequence of shortsighted and often naive political intervention in the foreign policy process. The formulation and execution of foreign policy, like military policy, must be left to the professionals. The foreign service should be enabled and encouraged to provide objective and independent advice to the political leadership, rather than be whimsically directed from above. According to the government’s Rules of Business, the foreign secretary’s policy recommendations can be overruled by the political leadership, but they cannot be dictated to him.
Obviously, the organisational mess at the Foreign Office needs to be cleared. The government should have a fulltime foreign minister, not only for protocol reasons, but also to serve as a single, credible conduit for the expression and execution of foreign policy. There is an important role for the prime minister’s special assistant: to reconcile external policy with the government’s political priorities. But this role should be exercised, not from the foreign ministry, but the Prime Minister’s Office, where a foreign service official is, exceptionally, absent.
The security dimensions of foreign policy should be integrated through established institutional mechanisms, particularly the high-level National Security Command. If these mechanisms are not utilised, the ‘security establishment’ will find ‘informal’ ways of influencing policies.
Likewise, external economic policy cannot be formulated or conducted without the foreign ministry’s participation. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an example of the nexus between diplomatic, economic and security policies. Unfortunately, at present, development, trade and investment policies are formulated and implemented largely without the benefit of the foreign policy dimension.
A modern state cannot function without competent institutions of governance. For Pakistan, which is compelled to conduct a multi-directional external policy in a strategically challenging environment, a competent, empowered and motivated foreign service is as indispensable as Pakistan’s security forces.
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Historic Muslim Mistakes in Muslim -Israel Interaction

The Arabs managed their relationship with Israel atrociously, but the worst of all is the ongoing situation of the Palestinians. The worst mistake was in not accepting the United Nations partition plan of 1947. In the current state of the relationship between the Arab world and Israel, we see a patchwork of hostility, tense peace, limited cooperation, calm, and violence. The Arabs managed their relationship with Israel atrociously, but the worst of all is the ongoing situation of the Palestinians.
The Original Mistake
The first mistake lasted centuries and occurred well before Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948. It consisted of not recognizing Jews as equals. As documented by a leading American scholar of Jewish history in the Muslim world, Mark R. Cohen, during that era, “Jews shared with other non-Muslims the status of dhimmis [non-Muslims who have to pay protection money and follow separate debasing laws to be tolerated in Muslim-controlled areas] … New houses of worship were not to be built and old ones could not be repaired. They were to act humbly in the presence of Muslims. In their liturgical practice they had to honor the preeminence of Islam. They were further required to differentiate themselves from Muslims by their clothing and by eschewing symbols of honor. Other restrictions excluded them from positions of authority in Muslim government”.
On March 1, 1944, while the Nazis were massacring six million Jews, and well before Israel declared independence, Haj Amin al-Husseini, then Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, declared on Radio Berlin, “Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.”
If Muslims had not made this mistake, they might have benefited in two ways. Jews would likely have remained in the Muslim Middle East in greater numbers, and they would have advanced the Middle Eastern civilization rather than the civilizations of the places to which they fled, most notably Europe and later the United States. Secondly, if Jews felt secure and accepted in the Middle East among Arabs, they may not have felt the need to create an independent state, which would have saved them from the subsequent mistakes.
The Worst Mistake
The second and worst mistake was in not accepting the United Nations partition plan of 1947. UN resolution 181 provided the legal basis for a Jewish state and an Arab state sharing what used to be British-controlled Mandatory Palestine. As reported by the BBC, that resolution provided for: “A Jewish State covering 56.47% of Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jerusalem) with a population of 498,000 Jews and 325,000 Arabs; An Arab State covering 43.53% of Mandatory Palestine (excluding Jerusalem), with 807,000 Arab inhabitants and 10,000 Jewish inhabitants; An international trusteeship regime in Jerusalem, where the population was 100,000 Jews and 105,000 Arabs.”
Although the land allocated to the Jewish state was slightly larger than the land allocated to the Arab state, much of the Jewish part was total desert, the Negev and Arava, with the fertile land allocated to the Arabs. The plan was also to the Arabs’ advantage for two other reasons:
⦁ The Jewish state had only a bare majority of Jews, which would have given the Arabs almost as much influence as the Jews in running the Jewish state, but the Arab state was almost purely Arab, providing no political advantage to Jews within it.
⦁ Each proposed state consisted of three more-or-less disconnected pieces, resulting in strong geographic interdependence between the two states. If the two states were on friendly terms, they would likely have worked in many ways as a single federation. In that federation, Arabs would have had a strong majority.
Instead of accepting that gift of a plan the Arabs decided not accept a Jewish state. In May 1948, Azzam Pasha, the General Secretary of the Arab League, announced, regarding the proposed new Jewish part of the partition: that, “This will be a war of extermination, a momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” We initiated a war intended to eradicate the new state in its infancy, but we lost, and the result of our mistake was a much stronger Jewish state:
The Jewish majority of the Jewish state grew dramatically due to the exchange of populations that occurred, with many Arabs fleeing the war in Israel and many Jews fleeing a hostile Arab world to join the new state.
The Jews acquired additional land during the war, resulting in armistice lines (today called the green lines or pre-1967 lines), which gave Israel a portion of the land previously allocated to the Arab state. The Jewish state also acquired much better contiguity, while the Arab portions became divided into two parts (Gaza and the West Bank) separated by almost 50 kilometers. Perhaps one should not launch wars if one is not prepared for the results of possibly losing them.
More Wars and More Mistakes
After the War of Independence (the name that the Jews give to the war of 1947/1948), Israel was for all practical purposes confined to the land within the green lines. Israel had no authority or claim over Gaza and the West Bank. The Arabs had two options if they had chosen to make peace with Israel at that time:
⦁ They could have incorporated Gaza into Egypt, and the West Bank into Jordan, providing the Palestinians with citizenship in one of two relatively strong Arab countries, both numerically and geographically stronger than Israel.
⦁ They could have created a new state in Gaza and the West Bank.
Instead, they chose to continue the hostilities with Israel. In the spring of 1967, they formed a coalition to attack Israel. On May 20, 1967, Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad stated, “The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.” On May 27, 1967, Egypt’s President Abdul Nasser declared, “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel”. In June, it took Israel only six days to defeat them and humiliate them in front of the world. In that war, Arabs lost much more land, including Gaza and the West Bank.
After the war of 1967 , Israel offered Arabs land for peace, thereby offering a chance to recover from the mistake of the Six-Day War. They responded with the Khartoum Resolutions, stating, “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel”.
Not having learned from 1967, they formed yet another coalition in October 1973 and tried again to destroy Israel. They did achieve some gains, but then the tide turned and they lost again. After this third humiliating defeat, the coalition against Israel broke up, and Egypt and Jordan even decided to make peace with Israel. The rest remained stubbornly opposed to Israel’s very existence, even Syria which, like Egypt and Jordan, had lost land to Israel during the Six-Day War. Today Israel still holds that territory, and there is no real prospect for that land ever going back to Syria; Israel’s Prime Minister recently declared that, “Israel will never leave the Golan Heights”.
The Tragedy of the Palestinians
The most reprehensible and the most tragic of the mistakes is the way that the Arabs have treated Palestinians since Israel’s declaration of independence. The Jews of Israel welcomed Jewish refugees from Arab and other Muslim lands into the Israeli fold, regardless of the cost or the difficulty in integrating people with very different backgrounds. Israel eagerly integrated refugees from far-away lands, including Ethiopia, India, Morocco, Brazil, Iran, Ukraine, and Russia. By doing so, they demonstrated the powerful bond that binds Jews to each other. At the same time, Arabs had the opportunity similarly to show the bond that binds Arabs together, but instead of welcoming Arab refugees from the 1947/48 war, they confined them to camps with severe restrictions on their daily lives.
In Lebanon, as reported by Amnesty International, “Palestinians continue to suffer discrimination and marginalization in the labor market which contributes to high levels of unemployment, low wages, and poor working conditions. While the Lebanese authorities recently lifted a ban on 50 of the 70 jobs restricted to them, Palestinians continue to face obstacles in actually finding employment in them. The lack of adequate employment prospects leads a high drop-out rate for Palestinian schoolchildren who also have limited access to public secondary education. The resultant poverty is exacerbated by restrictions placed on their access to social services”.
Yet, Lebanon and Syria could not integrate refugees that previously lived a few kilometers away from the country’s borders and who shared with the country’s people almost identical cultures, languages, and religions. Jordan integrated some refugees but not all. They could have proven that the Arabs are a great and noble people, but instead they showed the world, as they continue to do, that their hatred towards each other and towards Jews is far greater than any concept of purported Arab solidarity. Shamefully, seven decades after the Palestinian refugees fled Israel, their descendants are still considered refugees.
The worst part of the way they have treated Palestinian refugees is that even within the West Bank and Gaza, there remains to this day a distinction between Palestinian refugees and native Palestinians. In those lands, according to the year 2010 numbers provided by Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet at McGill University, 37% of Palestinians within the West Bank and Gaza live in camps! Gaza has eight Palestinian refugee camps, and the West bank has nineteen. The Jews are not keeping the Arabs in camps, Arabs are. Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas claims a state on those lands, but we can hardly expect him to be taken seriously when he leaves the Palestinian refugees under his authority in camps and cannot even integrate them with other Palestinians. The ridiculousness of the situation is rivaled only by its callousness.
Because of these own mistakes, their relationship with Israel today is a failure. The only strength in their economies is oil, a perishable resource and, with fracking, diminishing in value. They have not done nearly enough to prepare for the future when they will need inventiveness and productivity. According to Foreign Policy Magazine, “Although Arab governments have long recognized the need to shift away from an excessive dependence on hydrocarbons, they have had little success in doing so. … Even the United Arab Emirates’ economy, one of the most diversified in the Gulf, is highly dependent on oil exports”.
Business Insider rated Israel in 2015 as the world’s third most innovative country. Countries from all over the world take advantage of Israel’s creativity, including countries as remote and as advanced as Japan. Yet they snub Israel, an innovation powerhouse that happens to be at their borders.
They also fail to take advantage of Israel’s military genius to help the fight new and devastating enemies such as ISIS.
Worst of all, the Palestinians, are dispersed — divided, disillusioned, and utterly incapable of reviving the national project that was kidnapped from under their feet in 1948 and that has since been disfigured beyond recognition.
To say that they must change the approach towards Israel is an understatement. There are fundamental changes that they must make, and they must find the courage and moral fortitude to make them.

Canola Oil- A Major Irritant in Canada-China Relationship

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Beijing for his first official visit to China since taking office in October. The eight-day trip, which will include the G20 meeting that begins September 4, is being billed as an opportunity for improved relations with the Asian superpower. Bilateral irritant clouding agenda ahead of Trudeau visit to Beijing is likely to be issue of canola oil- the Canadian nomenclature for rapeseed oil.
For Canadian canola farmers, Trudeau’s trip to China is much more than a friendly visit between state leaders. Chinese regulators have been threatening since February to tighten the rules around the amount of dockage (foreign material like leaves, pods, stems etc.) in canola shipments to less than one per cent (down from the current 2.5 per cent allowed by the Canadian Grain Commission). The new rules, which the Chinese say are designed to prevent the spread of blackleg (a fungus) are set to take effect September 1.
With harvest getting underway, Canadian farmers, who had little reason during seeding to believe China would not take their crop, are nervous the regulations could mean much of this year’s canola crop will have nowhere to go.
Discussions between Canadian and Chinese officials — a process that includes industry stakeholders — have been underway since February. A diplomatic trip to China in mid-August failed to find a fix.
Canada is the world’s largest exporter of canola, with exports surpassing $8.9 billion in 2015. Ninety per cent of Canadian canola is exported, of which some 42 per cent is destined for China.
So, why should Canadians care?
1. Canadian farmers will lose money
In recent years, canola has been one of the most profitable crops for Canadian farmers, with current prices averaging above $10/bushel. This year Statistics Canada estimates Canadian farmers will harvest more than 17 million tonnes of canola – a figure market experts and industry folks have said is a conservative estimate. Farm groups say they expect this year’s crop will be the second largest on record.
The Canadian Canola Growers Association says November contract prices for canola this year came in above $400 per tonne – making it a key source of income for farmers. The oilseed is also a critical piece in many farmers’ cash flow (the financial cycle on a farm that allows producers to apply and pay off loans needed to cover inputs like seed, fertilizer, and fuel from year to year).
Farmers aren’t paid until the crop is delivered to the elevator. Grain companies typically don’t buy crop or enter delivery contracts until they have a buyer to send it to. With Canadian canola shipments to China already at a standstill because of the market uncertainty, producers are nervous it could take longer for this year’s crop to move.
Ensuring the crop can be delivered isn’t the only concern. China is not applying its new dockage rules to any other oilseed crops, notably soybeans and sunflower, which can often be used as a canola substitute – putting Canadian canola growers at a competitive disadvantage in the international oilseed marketplace.
2. China is our biggest buyer – and hard to replace
Two-thirds of the world’s supply of canola comes from Canada, of which on average four million tonnes goes to China, a premium buyer. Ninety-five per cent of the canola China imports comes from Canada, with the other five per cent coming mainly from Australia.
Neither China nor Australia produce enough canola or food grade rape seed to fill the Canadian void. While the Western Grain Elevators Association says it thinks it will be able to find other markets for the seed, the Canola Council of Canada has warned it won’t be an easy task. Canada’s two other main markets for canola seed are Japan and Mexico, whose import amounts hardly change from year to year. Japan, for instance, the second-largest buyer of Canadian canola, imports between 1.9 to 2.3 million tonnes of canola a year – half of what China typically buys.
Other possible markets are the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Europe. However, the amounts that those markets import are heavily dependent on price.
3. It will slow down the rest of the grain supply chain
Canada’s grain handling system is a bulk handling system, one that is designed to handle large volumes of grain at the same time. The specifications China is asking for, industry says, are not easy to meet given the way the system is designed. While farmers try to harvest as clean a crop as possible, no combine can harvest at less than one per cent dockage.
Canola seed is cleaned either at the country elevator or at Canada’s major ports – depending on which grain company is moving it. The same seed cleaner is used to clean a variety of grain and oilseed crops, including wheat, oats, barley, by adjusting various mechanisms and different screens (used to separate the seed from the dockage) depending on the crop. Getting seed cleaned to less than one per cent dockage, as China is asking, would require additional adjustments and takes a lot longer – delaying the cleaning of other crops.
Further, no other country to which Canada ships canola is currently demanding a dockage level of less than 2.5 per cent (the standard set out by the Canadian Grain Commission) – meaning canola destined for China would need to be cleaned, stored and transported separately from all other shipments. Right now, under Canadian Grain Commission guidelines, Canadian canola is graded and stored via three classes: Canola 1, 2 and 3. While each class has different quality requirements (including protein levels, amount of green seed) dockage levels across all three classes are the same. It’s very likely that meeting China’s demands would require additional infrastructure within the system.
4. Canadian processing capacity is already maxed out
While most of the canola grown in Canada is exported, our domestic supply of canola oil and other food products is processed here at home at canola crush plants. The increase in canola production over the past decade, however, means there is little additional capacity in the system, which caps out at about nine million tonnes. Last year, some 8.3 million tonnes of canola was crushed here in Canada.
This year’s capacity has been tightened even further in recent weeks, after the Bunge canola crush plant in Nepawin, Sask. caught fire and was forced off-line. Industry does expect the plant to come back online soon. Meanwhile, there are no major plans to expand Canada’s canola processing capacity — other than a small Richardson plant expansion in Lethbridge.
5. The idea that lower dockage will prevent blackleg isn’t backed by science
The dispute between Canada and China over the risk of blackleg (which, while present in Canada is not a major concern for producers) has been going on for more than six years. Some $7 million has been invested in research projects and studies around blackleg transmission, variety development etc.
Canadian farmers grow blackleg resistant varieties of canola, while Canadian shippers typically send exports to processors and handlers on China’s coastal regions – far away from China’s domestic rape seed production areas.

Waiting for Godot: Would China CrisisWork to Reset the Global Economy

As China prepares to host the G20 economic summit, fears for its own economy grow. In China, capital investment is more important to the economy than the cheap labour that originally gave it an advantage, but some say the country has become too dependent on an unending cycle of debt.
Oppressive heat and humidity in my part of the country finally broke this week in a giant storm that, despite its destructive power, came as a relief. In some ways, the global economy feels as if it’s waiting, too.
Climbing stock markets notwithstanding, many have recognised an ominous feeling of escalating pressure that may need a crisis to bring things back into balance. Some commentators, including billionaire investor George Soros, have hinted that China is ready for a storm.
“I think there’s an eerie resemblance of what’s happening in China to what happened here leading up to the financial crisis, 2007-2008,” Soros said during an Asia Society event in New York earlier this year. “It’s similarly fuelled by credit growth and an eventually unsustainable expansion of credit.”
China not amused: China was officially not amused, responding to the various warnings of the billionaire — who made a large portion of his fortune betting against the British pound — with a blistering editorial in the People’s Daily titled “Declaring war on China’s currency? Ha ha.”
China has said the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, will focus on the world economy, and not the controversy over its activities in the South China Sea. But there are widespread concerns that China’s debt-based economy could face a reset, something that could affect the entire world.
Of course, Soros is by no means alone in worrying about the stability of China’s economy. Late last week, the International Monetary Fund, with nothing to gain by driving the Chinese currency up or down, echoed the billionaire’s remarks.
The IMF expressed concern about “unsustainably high growth targets,” the danger of companies defaulting on loans and ultimately “a hard landing” for the entire Chinese economy.
‘Dangerous trajectory’: “While reforms have advanced across an impressively wide domain, they have lagged in some critical areas — especially on state-owned enterprise reform and tackling excessive corporate debt,” James Daniel, IMF mission chief for China, said in a conference call. “As a result, vulnerabilities are still rising on a dangerous trajectory.”
China is preparing to host a gathering of the G20, the world’s 20 most powerful global economies, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to visit the country later this month in advance of the summit.
China is insistent the subject of the meetings on Sept. 4 and 5 will be the world economy and not what many consider its increasingly belligerent claims in the South China Sea.
“The Hangzhou summit must focus on economic issues,” vice-foreign minister Li Baodong said Monday. “This is what people want to talk about most at the summit.”
There’s no question China is a power that cannot be ignored. Only decades ago, its increasing economic clout was based on cheap labour, but no longer. The country has become a science and innovation leader and as labour costs rise, it’s investing heavily in robotics.
Keeping the dream alive: But in some ways its enormous economy is an ad hoc mess as factions within the country experiment to try to keep the economic dream alive. Its political system, still so dependent on the personal power of individuals, has yet to reach equilibrium.
Sometimes it’s hard to know who is making each new economic decision: Desperate currency move by China a worrying sign. So far China has done a brilliant job holding it all together, but it’s not uncommon for countries to stumble from the growing pains that lead to economic greatness. The South Sea Bubble back in the 1700s might be thought of as Britain’s initiation into economic hegemony. The U.S. had its stock market crash in 1929.
China is becoming a world leader in innovation. In this photo, buses are topped with solar panels.
Of course, some countries seen as the next big thing don’t actually make it. Soviet Russia was praised and feared as a coming power but collapsed decades later. In the 1980s, Japan was seen as the country to imitate in all things economic, but after the “lost decade” of the 1990s, the country seemed to have lost its way.
Faint reassurance: Current gloom about the Chinese economy is widespread enough that yesterday Henny Sender at the Financial Times felt compelled to write a piece entitled Is the gloomy outlook on the Chinese economy overdone? which concluded with the faint reassurance that “at least the worst possible outcome is no longer a given.”
The entire world economy feels as if it’s in a strange and unstable place. Interest rates are so low that many are now negative. Despite denials, the world seems to be increasingly in a liquidity trap where new injections of central bank cash do little to stimulate the economy.
And yet higher rates would be so disruptive to bond markets that governments and their central banks seem paralysed.
It may be that the world needs a shock, a clearing of the air, an economic storm to reboot the world economy and start things growing again on a new footing. And scanning for possible places for such a reset to occur, China is one eminent candidate.

Skills for value

The two questions that school and education are supposed to answer are: ‘How much do you know?’ and ‘What can you do with what you know?’
Entire school systems are based on answering either one or the other question, or so we believe. The hearsay goes like this – Indian (and countries of the Far East) focus on knowledge, and the countries of the West teach their students to apply this knowledge. So, a physics student will not only have learnt how a circuit works, but would have some hands on experience in building circuits. Or robots. Or more. In India, the ‘circuit wala project’ is likely to have been purchased from a shop specialising in this even if a school attempts to bring this application or skill to the students. This is as far as most go, and yet none of this is enough to bridge the gap between knowing and doing.
Our students are unemployable, go the reports. Skills gap white papers have been doing the rounds for over two decades where it is made amply clear that schools, and worse, universities are not doing the basic job of training the workforce. Purists in education raise their hands in horror – we prepare students for life, for higher order goals, not mere employment! Well, in times like these, we all have to help our student get employed. We all understand the need, yet our schools do not skill us for life.
The real questions that schools need to focus on are not Knowledge vs Skills as we have seen reflected in curricula and pedagogy. The real question for schools should be – how can the students learn to create value? Value is created in both society and in the workplace when a certain set of behaviours meet specific goals. Value is created when we help an old person across the street, value is also created when we demonstrate our ability to fix a leaky tap or build a bookshelf, value is created when we demonstrate a knowledge of mathematical theory and learn how to build forward. The goal of value creation is inclusive – for even rote learning finds its appropriate place. Value is also created when a poem memorised long ago is quoted to soothe and set up a person for their next success.
School systems often decide that ‘skills’ merely refers to the old fashioned vocational skills that included working in the trades such as building, plumbing, carpentry, hairdressing etc. The skills that we need for the 21st century are not just about what you can do, but also how well you do them, and about how much an employer can rely on you to deliver value to their clients. The skills that forward looking schools are encouraged to include are often called soft skills – Creativity, Communication, Reliability, team working and similar abilities are prime. These are not soft skills or mere fancy add ons to employers. They go to the core of whether the student is a valuable employee or not. If the student does not transform into a value creating employee very rapidly, there is no reason for them to remain in work.
This is a challenge for schools – how can they train students in creativity and reliability, or in professional communication and negotiation, or even cultural sensitivity – and still maintain their core goals of creating marks machines? Schools that have slipped down the marks ladder have felt the br21st Century skillsunt of ‘loss of reputation’ because marks are a tangible demonstration of value.
Schools face three challenges here:
Their teachers are so steeped in the old industrial age assembly line rote learning methods that they do not even recognise the new paradigm. Speak to them about including employability skills and many of them are not even able to comprehend the shift. This is a real challenge for school leaders who need to be able to move school teaching (and university too) to meet the real needs of the students for the future.
Even if the syllabus and curriculum do make room for these new skills that equip students for professional life, there are practical constraints on the ground. For example, take teamwork. Creating group projects is easy in schools with a lot of technology, in boarding schools where there is time to work together after classes, or for rich families who can afford the technology/transport/space, but it is really challenging in most normal schools. A group project (even if it is a school poster, or a simple report) ends up being split into smaller tasks and each student works a part of the whole because they are not able to communicate in real time and pass the work back and forth.
Assessment of course rules our allocation of time and resources, and it is incredibly challenging to give marks for things that really matter in the workplace such as peer mentoring, creativity and work attitudes. Some, such as attitudes and values are so context driven that any attempt at measuring it ends up being a farce. The very good CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) process run at schools in India tried to assess soft skills. Sadly, most have not been able to actually understand the idea, let alone run it successfully.
We are asking for a shift in the way we look at schools, at skills and at studies. While some of us want to grow up to be intellectuals, most of us want jobs. And this is the cue to schools – each time you set a task or a test, look at what output you expect from it and ask yourself – Does this create value? Maybe even, will someone pay for this? Does it build towards something that the market will value? If we can build this question into a part of what we do, then I think we would have taken a step towards filling the employability gap.
If it is difficult for teachers to take the first step, let me call on all the sector skills councils set up by the NSDC to take a step beyond Occupational Standards for training and create a platform for schools and colleges to demonstrate skills that are valued in their industry. Let the NSDC and the Skills Development ministry fund this platform so that the Skills Councils can lead Skills in Schools with a demonstration of industry expectations. Issue an annual RFP to all students on behalf of your industry and help them up their game. Let us make skills real for schools, and students – and let us show them what we truly need and value

Securing the common civil code in India

The endeavour for a common civil law must be to end discrimination, and not stamp majority might. Public and political debates surround the “paramount” duty under Article 44 of the Indian constitution  that asks the state to endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code (UCC). These debates have a particular poignancy for communities whose personal law is to be made “uniform” and for the political parties who promise to pilot a code. It is too emotional and volatile an issue to readily permit rational consensus. Proponents for change insist that almost seven decades is too long a period for the state to not endeavour towards a UCC. In contrast are the claims that the time is not ripe and an establishment centred hegemony should be avoided. A major twist has now been added to the tale by the demands of the movements for human rights of children as well as by the demands placed by women’s rights movements for laws and policies that do not discriminate on the basis of gender.
However, the constitutional promise itself is infinitely complicated. Public and political debates have not considered what exactly are the “duties” created by Article 44. So far, all interpretive efforts have eluded narrative coherence. The duty is not to merely to legislate but to “secure” a code. How long shall the state endeavour? Perhaps, the time has come for an amendment of this article and prescribing a time-bound schedule.
Has the state at all endeavoured? While there are many different standpoints, Law Commission Chair, Justice B.S. Chauhan, was right in saying that the elements of a UCC already exist in “some legislations where a common law was applicable to all without consideration of religion”, and that “most people are perhaps unaware that common code exists in many laws”. But his preliminary articulation suggesting the need to de-link the UCC from religion will surely be contested.
Perhaps by “uniform” we understand that all citizens should be subject to the same law, regardless of community, religion, and identity. But when the personal law stands anchored in the freedom to practice religion, state intervention may violate a fundamental right. Further, who decides what religion requires: The custodians or all the coreligionists? What legal and social meaning is to be invested in Article 51-A(f), which talks of the fundamental duty of all citizens “to value and preserve the rich heritage of composite culture”? When may this conflict with Article 51-A(e) that talks of the need to “renounce practices derogatory of women”? The duty (in clause “h”) to “develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform” reinforces social inclusion in religion and the state. How best to have legal controls over religious practices that hurt human rights warrants serious consideration from all sides.
And indeed when is a “code” a “code”? If codification is to avoid merely articulating majoritarian might, it ought to be a historically-calibrated state venture at social consensus. Here, adjudicatory leadership matters as much as national leadership. Is piecemeal normative cleansing of disvalued difference less eligible than a total UCC? Is reasoned judicial enunciation to be preferred over “state endeavour”? The question is: How best to secure a codification that genuinely endeavours to remove discrimination and prejudice against women’s and child rights?
The German historical jurist Fredrick von Savigny said (in mid-19th century) that codification involved both a “technical element” (the knowledge of customs that are to be codified) and a “political element” (the question of political will to codify). Do we know enough about the personal law of various tribal communities from which the UCC may choose? Or, the laws of various Hindu and Muslim communities? Do we know enough about the religious personal law of other Indian communities? It is a sad mistake to think that a UCC is all about Hindu-Muslim relations and identities.
The political element in India today must refer equally to political and judicial will. True, the Supreme Court has quite often subjected customary and codified personal laws to the equality and gender justice discipline of the Constitution and also said that a UCC is a desirable constitutional mandate which the state ought to follow more expeditiously. The court (Chief Justice T. S. Thakur, Justices A.K. Sikri, and R. Banumathi) has also said that it is the solemn duty of Parliament to enact a UCC. However, in response to a PIL filed in the Supreme Court, a bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed the National Legal Services Authority of
India to re-examine the issue of “gender discrimination” suffered by Muslim women in the country.
The nascent Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, a national coalition of Muslim women with over 70,000 members across 13 states, recently collected around 50,000 signatures of Muslim women demanding the abolition of the triple talaq system of divorce. And it has sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for reforms. Obviously, the authority is bound to take into account this petition. Besides, the Law Commission of India has been asked in June to submit a report on UCC.
It thus seems that there is a new political determination about UCC in the air. The difficult decisions ahead relate to the linkage between personal law system and religious and communitarian identity. While the UCC opponents maintain that the state may reform a community law only with their consent, it is also a moral principle that the consent should not be withheld unreasonably and permanently. The additional requirement that the state provides security and safety to every citizens is valid: A democratic state should neither become an “institutionalised riot system” (in Paul Brass’s words) nor should governance become a specialised sphere of managing “riot after riot” (to use the title of M.J. Akbar’s book).
Farrah Ahmed concludes that the existing personal law system “harms religious autonomy” (considered as self-respect) of those subject to it. However, she suggests a religious alternative dispute resolution (ADR), under which persons will devise their norms and choose religious arbitration or mediation, restrained only by legal protections against oppression. One hopes that ADR will find some resonance in state and civil society, as a prelude to a future UCC.

Canada matters to China?

Justin Trudeau doesn’t aim to be a replica of his father. He’s a different person, and his positive differences play well for the times. He’s his own man. But on China, he knows the value of the legacy asset left to him by his father’s diplomatic breakthrough — China’s coming-of-age moment in international affairs. He’s also proud to align himself with his father’s approach to world affairs — that Canada is a global actor that needs important relationships in every part of the world. He knows such relationships bolster our credibility on the global stage — including with the United States, a country that values relationships that stabilize great power behaviour.
Senior Trudeau’s first visit to China was in 1949. He returned with Jacques Hébert in 1960 when the country was in the throes of the Great Leap Forward and got an interview with Mao Tse-tung for the influential Quebec-based political journal Cité Libre. In their book, Two Innocents in Red China, Trudeau and Hébert wrote that “it seemed to us imperative that the citizens of our democracy should know more about China.” Formal diplomatic recognition of Mao’s government was Trudeau’s top foreign policy priority when he became prime minister in 1968.
Nixon followed Trudeau’s example, and yet the diplomats have a phrase to describe a counter-intuitive — but successful — foreign policy initiative: “It took Nixon to go to China.” Few Americans realize, however, that when President Richard Nixon went to China in the spring of 1972, he was following a trail blazed by a Canadian prime minister. Pierre Trudeau had already broken the ice in Beijing. Canada was the first Western country since before the Korean War to recognize the regime that won power in 1949 as the rightful government of China.
Negotiations with the Chinese opened in Stockholm shortly after, over staggered tea sessions that would permit the exchange of positions until the next tea a few months later. The crux of the negotiations was the status of Taiwan. The Chinese side put enormous pressure on Canada to accept the description of Taiwan as an ‘inalienable’ part of China. Canadians held to the position that we would ‘note’ the Chinese view. Everyone knew the outcome could be the textual model for other countries keen to follow Canada’s lead, so the diplomatic community’s interest was intense — and not always friendly.
What happened in Sweden in 1969 may never be known. An incoming Canadian diplomatic official (in fact, a government decorator heading in to fix up a new ambassadorial residence) was met at the airport by an imposter limo service, beaten and dropped by the side of the road far from town late at night. Fake telegrams supposedly from Canadian missions depicting the Chinese as schemers and/or idiots began to arrive. Our office air shafts showed signs of recent listeners.
But by late 1970, we had pulled it off. The Chinese never forgot who had insisted that it would happen. From then on, Pierre Trudeau was officially “a great friend of China.”Our relationship with China doesn’t mute our voice on the inevitable disagreements; it lets us speak as candidly as we need to, and to be heard. You don’t get that from yelling through an ideological bullhorn.
The stakes for China were immense. Not only did the diplomatic opening with Canada enable their other relationships to expand, it helped break the logjam in the UN on the vote to award China the seat occupied by the nationalists in Taipei. In October, 1971, the Chinese were voted in.
For Beijing, of course, recognition by the U.S. was the big prize. It was an equally big target for Nixon. Kissinger’s memoirs barely mention the prior Canadian arrangement. So it goes. But the Chinese still remember how Canada set its own course and significantly supported theirs. (When I happened to be at the UN a few years later, the alphabet placed the Canadian and Chinese delegations side by side for many meetings. “Good morning,” the Canadians would say. “Ahhh, Canada!” the Chinese would reply. “Trudeau, Trudeau!”)
Pierre Trudeau always saw that first great diplomatic initiative of as a defining act of his career. Late in the 1980s, I happened to be with him at the first screening of the film Bethune with Donald Sutherland. Walking out, he said, “It’s amazing what they are bringing off in that country.” No one knew then how much further they would come in the next quarter-century.
China is a country with great geopolitical and human relevance for Canada — which means we need a strategic partnership with it. Otherwise, we have no influence on it. Such a relationship doesn’t mute our voice on the inevitable disagreements; it lets us speak as candidly as we need to, and to be heard. You don’t get that from yelling through an ideological bullhorn.
Trudeau’s visit will end an arid decade in Canada-China relations. Our longest-standing ambassador, Howard Balloch, sees it as an opportunity to jump-start our dormant connections across the board. He believes the Chinese leadership sees the Harper period as an aberration. They prefer to remember not only Pierre Trudeau’s investment but also those of prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien, two men who built a relationship with China that extended beyond politics. Trudeau can use this trip to stage an across-the-board, country-to-country composite of activities engaging the private sector, the provinces, civil society, scholars and citizens.
While the unsentimental President Xi Jinping doesn’t seem to revere all the sayings of his predecessors, he’ll surely honour Justin Trudeau as the son of an international benefactor. But he’ll expect his officials to look to Chinese interests — as we expect Trudeau to look to ours..
Justin Trudeau will be in China as a Canadian prime minister extending a ground-breaking investment in a vital relationship initiated by a prime minister who happened to be his father. If there’s magic in that, so be it. But just one visit has no meaning. Then, we’ll have work to do. He shall have to return, again and again, as the Canada-China story continues.

The Ghosts of Spain

Last week, an Argentine judge launched an investigation into the death of Federico Garcia Lorca. There’s something odd about this picture. Lorca was a poet and playwright of considerable renown and popular appeal, but he wasn’t from Argentina. Further, he died 80 years ago this month.
One of the reasons his case is being investigated by an Argentine rather than a Spanish judge is that the civil war of 1936-39, in the context of which Lorca was summarily executed, purportedly on the outskirts of Granada, remains a fraught period in the Spanish national memory.
In large part that is so because 1939 marked not just an end but a dark new beginning: the triumph of Francisco Franco’s Falangists against the left-leaning political forces that had won a popular mandate in 1936 unleashed a fascist dictatorship that endured for nearly four decades.
While the army of Gen Franco received generous support from fellow European fascists in Italy and Germany, Western democracies chose to look away. Thousands of their citizens, however, decided it would be sheer folly to feign neutrality in the circumstances, and volunteered their services as combatants or auxiliaries in the International Brigades. The American contingent called itself the Lincoln Brigade; back home, its members and supporters were commonly derided as “premature anti-fascists”.
It’s a telling oxymoron. How can anti-fascism ever conceivably be premature? This is not just an academic question. There are echoes of the 1930s in today’s Europe. They are muffled for the moment, but the silencers could come off with little warning.
The Spanish republic would certainly have had a better chance of surviving with assistance from nations such as France, Britain and the US. And it would even have done so had there not been so much internecine strife between the variety of forces ranged in defence of the republic, from socialists and anarchists to rival groups of communists. The Soviet Union was about the only country that aided the republican cause, but the ideology transmitted alongside the weaponry contributed to debilitating divisions between communists loyal to Moscow and any forces suspected of Trotskyist sympathies.
Is the Syrian conflict a 21st-century equivalent of Spain’s civil war? The question that remains unanswerable after all these years is whether the defeat of fascism in Spain would have dented Adolf Hitler’s ambitions of conquest, although it would undoubtedly have affected the mood in Europe and encouraged greater resistance to Nazism at earlier stages in the broader conflict that broke out in 1939.
Up to half a million lives are estimated to have been lost in the Spanish civil war, and hundreds of thousands more in the repressions that followed Franco’s enthronement as El Caudillo. Spain claimed neutrality during the Second World War, despite surreptitiously assisting the Nazis; as a consequence, Franco not only remained in power for 30 years beyond 1945, but in fact was cherished by the West during the Cold War as a poster boy for anti-communism.
Spain returned to democracy after Franco died in 1975 but, more than 40 years later, his malign legacy has not completely been exorcised — which helps to explain why there is still no national museum dedicated to the civil war, and why it was left to an Argentine judge to take up the case of Lorca, after the excavation in 2009 of a site where he was believed to have been buried yielded no remains.
Deeply admired by fellow poets from Pablo Neruda to Leonard Cohen, Lorca was perhaps the best-known victim of a conflict that was remarkably eloquently chronicled: Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn and George Orwell were among the writers and journalists who offered impassioned first-hand accounts of the struggle. Another war correspondent, Kim Philby, was apparently under instructions from Moscow to assassinate Franco. It has been claimed that the guns briefly fell silent when Paul Robeson visited the front line to sing to republican troops, because the other side also wanted to hear his magnificent voice.
Is the barbaric conflict in Syria today the 21st-century equivalent of the Spanish civil war? Most analogies are ultimately unsatisfactory. The battle lines in Syria are considerably more convoluted, with hardly any of the combatants striving for what could readily be recognised as a just cause. It’s simpler, of course, to draw parallels between Guernica and, say, Aleppo, but then the suffering of innocents on an almost unimaginable scale is an inevitable corollary of modern warfare. The Spanish civil war also sparked a refugee exodus, but perhaps its most obvious resemblance to the bloodletting in the Levant lies in the future, in the sense that Syria too will be haunted by the ghosts of war for generations to come.
The best that can be hoped for is that, unlike Spain in 1936-39, the multidimensional conflict in Syria is not a harbinger of worse to come. But then, the state of the world in the early 21st century serves as a reminder that humankind has proved appallingly inept at imbibing the lessons of history.

Europe’s Favorite Genocidal Warlord

Hypocrisy marks the EU leadership. Tainted, blood-thirsty, criminal terrorists are embraced by EU for purposes that are essentially nefarious. Imagine a criminal who is wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. and he has the good fortune of being the proud recipient of tens of millions of dollars in cash from the European Union.
The EU’s embrace of one of the world’s most loathed leaders may be hypocritical, but it has strong strategic reasons for backing him. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is about as much of a pariah as it is possible for a head of state to be. The man seems never to have met a terrorist group he did not like. Bashir invited Osama bin Laden to the country in the 1990s, shipped weapons for Hamas, and invited Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to set up camp.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is not the only unsavory character Europe has turned to in an effort to solve its migrant crisis. Last October, the EU called for more cooperation with Sudan to combat migrant trafficking. Then in April, it announced a $110 million aid package for the nation—paid out of the EU’s $2 billion “Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.” The money is to be spent on, among other things, “improving security at the borders.” The next month, Der Spiegel and the New Statesman reported that the EU would spend $45 million to train border police and provide equipment in Sudan and seven other African countries. “Under no circumstances” should the public learn about this plan, the European Commission warned.
The funds will also help Sudan build “reception centers.” “Sudan is effectively being funded to stanch the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe—and to build open-air prisons to house them,” wrote Foreign Policy. In July, the European Commission released a draft proposal that would allow EU developmental aid to finance foreign militaries. Reporting on this change, EU Observer wrote that “Sudan’s military may stand to benefit. The Ministry of Interior has asked the EU to help fund border infrastructure at 17 crossing points.”
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) will be the main recipient of the EU’s border protection money. “A paramilitary force that supports the beleaguered Sudanese Army, the RSF in particular stands accused of horrific human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and mass rape,” wrote Foreign Policy. “It was formed in 2013 from elements of the janjaweed, the notorious militias that carried out the government’s genocide in Darfur, and answers directly to the National Intelligence and Security Service.”
The EU’s hypocrisy here is staggering. It will not deport migrants back to Eritrea or Syria because that would violate their human rights. But it is perfectly willing to pay a pal of Osama bin Laden millions of dollars to use a militia implicated in genocide to deport or incarcerate them. Bashir cannot set foot in the EU without being arrested, but Europe’s leaders are happy to give him bucket loads of cash. And then they lecture other nations on the humane way to treat migrants.
But there may be more at work here than just the migrant crisis. A rapprochement with Sudan could dramatically improve Europe’s position across the region. Sudan used to be Iran’s best friend in North Africa. The Sudanese Army was essentially set up by and patterned after the IRGC. Conflict Armament Research reported in 2013 that besides “large-scale supplies of weapons and ammunition from Iran to Sudan,” there is “growing evidence to suggest that the government of Sudan manufactures weapons of Iranian design, operates weapons production facilities with Iranian assistance, and supplies Iranian-manufactured weapons to forces allied to it in the region.” In 2011, the Telegraph reported that members of Iran’s elite Quds Force were based in Sudan.
Sudan was the vital link between Iran and all kinds of terrorist groups, militias and rogue states across North Africa. But not anymore. The two best friends have fallen out in recent years. Bashir transferred his allegiance to the Saudi-led bloc of fellow Sunni states. In March 2015, Sudan joined the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen against the Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels, and in January, Sudan cut off all relations with Iran.
In return for the help in Yemen, Saudi Arabia has reportedly deposited $1 billion into Sudan’s central bank, boosting the nation’s foreign reserves, and stepped up its investment in the nation.
Europe’s generosity may also be aimed at keeping Sudan in the anti-Iran camp. Iran has designs on being the strongest power throughout the region and is extending its reach throughout North Africa. But Iran isn’t the only one interested in Africa. Germany is making strong inroads as well. Both of these powers are racing to get as much control of North Africa as they can. They will inevitably clash with each other.
That doesn’t mean Sudan will stick permanently with Europe. Sudan’s move to the Saudi camp is a “relationship of convenience,” as Guardian Unlimited quoted analyst Magdi al-Gizouli saying. “I don’t think there’s a strong ideological commitment,” he said. “The main driver of foreign relations is the situation of the ‘bank of Sudan,’” he said.
With Iran growing richer in the wake of its nuclear deal, and Saudi Arabia hit by low oil prices, Iran could regain its old friend. But for now, Europe is taking its chance to block Iran in North Africa, despite the character of the leader it has to work with. ▪

Presumed Canadian Importance for China

As Justin Trudeau follows his father’s step to China, let him remember all the time that China does not give rat’s tail about what Canada thinks The cheerleaders have been out in force over the last few days, spreading rose petals along the route that Justin Trudeau will take on his first official visit to China next week, ahead of the two-day G20 leaders’ summit early next month.China doesn’t give a damn what Canada thinks.
And as Justin Trudeau is enthusiastic about his trip, the Chinese response is clear from the statement of its Ambassador. Luo Zhaohui, China’s ambassador in Ottawa, told this week the Canadian government has been inflexible and “unfair” in its approach to talks that began seven years ago over Chinese concerns about rules for the make-up for canola shipments.
The issue is the amount of so-called “dockage,” the term used to describe foreign material such as other plant and weed seeds, found in Canadian exports of canola to China.
The themes employed by Trudeau’s fans are time-honoured and brightly polished. They’re also questionable at best, downright nonsense at worst.
One theme is that, as the world’s second-largest economy, China is an indispensable trading and business partner for Canada. Another is that, because of Canada’s historic friendship with the Communist Party regime, we have influence in Beijing and are well placed to promote political, judicial and social reform in China.
It is always best, of course, to have constructive relations with foreign governments; it certainly beats the alternative. But under successive Canadian governments — and especially under the Liberals — the attention and deference Ottawa lavishes on China has far outweighed the benefits Canada receives in turn.
Look closely at the Canada-China economic relationship. In 1993, the year before the newly-elected Prime Minister Jean Chrétien led the first of his ‘Team Canada’ trade missions to China, two-way commerce was minuscule. Canada sold China $1.68 billion worth of goods — mostly grains — and bought $3.1 billion worth of largely third-rate manufactured goods.
Since then, the trade relationship has exploded; last year it was worth nearly $86 billion. But Canadian exports — still largely agricultural products and natural resources — made up only just over $20 billion of that trade. Meanwhile, Canadians last year bought nearly $66 billion worth of Chinese goods, most of them manufactured products that used to be made here or in the United States.
Boosters say that an Ottawa-Beijing free trade agreement will open the Chinese market to Canadian entrepreneurs and cut the Canadian deficit. Horsefeathers. The Beijing regime is very, very good at letting into its market only the goods and services it wants, or can control.
Even Canada’s agricultural exports to China are not immune to Beijing’s dexterity with non-tariff barriers. The current canola seed dispute is evidence of that. Beijing might stop all imports from Canada which is worth $2 billion worth of canola seeds, claiming there is too much extraneous plant material in the shipments.
The whole incident has the smell of Beijing jerking Canada’s leash ahead of free trade talks.
Incidents like this make it hard to argue that Beijing holds Canada in especially high regard because of historic links. Canadian boosters usually credit two people for what they claim is China’s benevolent view of Canada. One is Norman Bethune, the alcoholic, priapic surgeon who acted as a doctor for the Communists’ Eighth Route Army in the war against invading Japanese in the 1930s, and who died of blood poisoning. Bethune is presented to Chinese schoolchildren as a prime example of international support for the Communist regime.The only thing Canada’s investments in judicial reform appear to have achieved is the creation of a class of professionals with ideas that the Communist Party sees as a threat — people Beijing believes should either be intimidated into silence or locked up.
The other is Pierre Trudeau, who as prime minister in 1971 opened diplomatic relations with Beijing and set the ball rolling for U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to China the following year.
Unlike some of today’s cheerleaders, Pierre Trudeau was not mesmerized by China. As the price of establishing diplomatic relations, Beijing tried to bully him into accepting China’s claim to Taiwan. Trudeau refused, insisting that Canada would only “note” Beijing’s claim.
Nixon’s negotiator, Henry Kissinger, was more easily bamboozled by the crafty Chinese Premier Chou Enlai. Kissinger agreed to “acknowledge” Beijing’s claim to Taiwan. Successive Beijing governments translate “acknowledge” as “accept” — language which has and will continue to cause problems.
Neither Trudeau nor Bethune had as much influence with the hard-nosed Communist Party leadership as Canadian diplomats and politicians like to think. And anyone still nursing this illusion should have had it dashed at the beginning of June when China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi lashed at reporters for having the temerity to ask a question about Beijing’s human rights record.
It was a perfectly appropriate question because since Xi Jinping became president and party leader four years ago, he has overseen a campaign of repression and personal power aggrandizement that is taking China back to the dark days of Mao Zedong.
Xi is striking out at anyone and any group that might challenge the Communist Party’s complete grip on power.
He has purged the party and the People’s Liberation Army of anyone who might question his leadership. The clampdown on the media in recent years is unprecedented, and has even stretched to the abduction and detention of book publishers from Hong Kong.
Hundreds of lawyers unwise enough to defend human rights activists whom the Xi regime wants to put away have found themselves detained and interrogated. Several lawyers already have been imprisoned on vague, trumped-up charges of “subverting state power,” and others are awaiting trial.
At the same time, Xi’s regime is cracking down on non-government organizations and civil society groups. New rules have been introduced that make it very difficult for foreign NGOs to continue working in China, while local operations are being stripped of any foreign funds and forced to work under the supervision of the party.
Xi’s creation of what can now justly be called a fascist state is a particular insult to Canada and Canadian taxpayers. Ever since the period in the 1980s after the death of Mao, when it appeared China was opening up and Beijing might be contemplating political reform, successive Ottawa governments have spent many, many millions of dollars on dozens of programs aimed at stimulating change.
Of special note in the context of what is happening today is the fact that tens of millions of Canadian dollars were spent on judicial reform and the training of Chinese lawyers. Well, the only thing this appears to have achieved is the creation of a class of professionals with ideas that the Communist Party sees as a threat — people Beijing believes should either be intimidated into silence or locked up.
It’s the same with Chinese civil society organizations, in which Canadian taxpayers have also invested heavily. NGOs inevitably become carriages for people’s aspirations and, therefore, challenges to the authority of the ruling party.Still, the economic file alone — over a looming trade irritant involving exports of canola — could end up posing its fair share of risks to the relationship.
Out of concerns about the spread of disease, the Chinese government has given Canada until Sept. 1 to reduce the level of dockage in its deliveries, but Canada has stood its ground, arguing scientific evidence shows the change will not affect the risks.
On Friday, a senior government official confirmed Trudeau intends to raise the canola dispute during his visit. The official said the government is tracking the issue, but offered no additional updates.
Asked about the concerns domestic producers might have about the dispute or the persistent question of foreign investment in the oilsands, Trudeau said any talk of further opening up Canada to the world must focus on creating jobs, growing the economy and ensuring our goods have access to foreign markets.
“These are the interests that we are going to be strongly and carefully balancing as we engage with the economic powerhouse that is China,” he said.
The prime minister also made a pitch for foreign investment that characterized Canada as an oasis of calm when the insecurity of the developing world and the growing tide of protectionism in the U.S. and Europe poses increased risks for capital.
“What Canada offers to the world right now at a time when it is characterized by populism and anti-globalization is an approach that offers political, financial, economic, social stability, predictability and openness to globalization because of our extraordinarily diverse population,” Trudeau said. Canada’s supposed clout in Beijing is just a diplomat’s fantasy.
However, it’s still better to be engaged with this Chinese regime than not. But we have to do so with our eyes wide open, and without clinging to the illusion that Canada somehow has a special place in Beijing’s heart. It doesn’t.

Generation landslide

In the early 1930s, three young German academics, Theodore Adorno, Max Horrkheimer and Herbet Marcuse, formed an intellectual clique that came to be known as the Frankfurt School. Based in the German city of Frankfurt, the three men developed a way of studying Marxism (in Europe) with the aid of Freudian psychology and, in the process, came up with an intellectual and analytical tool called ‘critical theory’.
With the rise of Nazism in Germany, the three men moved to the United States and set themselves up at New York’s prestigious Columbia University. Here they applied critical theory to the emergence of fascism in Europe, and concluded that fascism was the outcome and by-product of ‘advanced capitalism’.
Some 30 years after the three men had first published their study of the rise of fascism in Europe, their thesis were enthusiastically picked up by sections of young middle-class Germans, many of whom were not even born when the Frankfurt School and critical theory were being formed. Suddenly, the idea that fascism was the outcome of advanced capitalism became all the rage among a large number of university and college students in West Berlin and Frankfurt.
But why did it take almost 30 years for German youth to embrace the idea? Journalist and author Hans Kundani in his excellent book, Utopia or Auschwitz, informs us that many Germans who were born during Nazi rule in Germany (1933-45), entered their teens and 20s in the 1950s.
By the late 1950s and early 1960s, university students associated with the left-wing German student outfit, the SDS, had begun to question the silence adopted (on Nazi rule) by their parents and the German state after the collapse of Nazism in 1945.
Articles began to emerge in radical youth magazines, and treatises authored by the intellectual wing of the SDS, denounced their parents’ generation for remaining quiet or even supporting the ‘murderous rise’ of Nazism in Germany.
Today’s young parents should be prepared for some awkward questions from their children when they grow upry operation against the extremists? Were you looking the other way when schoolgirls were being shot in the face and then called agents?
They coined the term the ‘Auschwitz generation’ for their parents and accused them of destroying Germany by facilitating the emergence of Nazism and then trying to repress the gruesome memory of it after its collapse.
By 1967, membership of the SDS and other progressive youth outfits witnessed a threefold rise and many of the young intellectuals and leaders associated with these organisations began to apply the theoretical conclusions of the Frankfurt School to the prevailing situation in Germany.
According to the students, their parents had facilitated the rise of Nazism in the 1930s and had looked the other way when the Nazi regime was committing violent crimes against those Germans who had refused to submit to the dictates of the Nazi regime.
They added that even after the collapse of Nazism (in 1945), Germany had rebuilt itself with the help of advanced capitalism that was being facilitated by their parents’ generation, that by keeping the memory of Nazism repressed, was now forming an authoritarian state run by former Nazis and their sympathisers.
The rage associated with this sentiment finally exploded in 1967 and the student movement turned violent. The violence continued across the 1970s until the German state finally decided to confront the country’s violent past, instead of suppressing it.

Balochistan is of India’s Concern

History shows why Balochistan is not an internal matter of Pakistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech from the Red Fort mentioning Balochistan has set in motion a debate on motives, linkages with Jammu & Kashmir and whether India can stay the course.
However, the moot point being missed is the legal status of Balochistan. The whole issue hinges on whether or not Kalat (as Balochistan was then called) was an Indian princely state or an independent non-Indian state under British rule. If it is the latter, then clearly what the Baloch nationalists say about Pakistan’s illegal occupation has merit.
The British came into contact with Kalat in 1839 seeking passage and provisions during the disastrous first Afghan war. The British signed treaties with the Khan of Kalat in 1839, 1841, 1854, 1862 and 1876. While each treaty eroded the Khan’s sphere of action and the territories of the Khanate, all of them essentially recognised his independence. For example, the agreement of 1862 called the Khanate a neighbouring state of India and the 1876 treaty acknowledged the Khan as an independent ruler, an ally and a friendly neighbour.
The legal status of Kalat as an independent state continued till 1947. It was on this basis that the Khan never joined the Chamber of Princes in Delhi and always maintained that they were not a part of Britain’s Indian empire. While the 560-odd princely states in India belonged to Category A and were dealt with by the political department, states like Kalat, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim, were Category B states and dealt with by the external affairs department.
However, for reasons that are not very clear, the Government Of India Act, 1935 treated the Khanate as a part of India. In protest, the Khan wrote to the British government demanding that the “restrictions and conditions imposed, contrary to the terms of the treaty of 1876… may be withdrawn and rescinded and the independence of the Kalat government may be honoured scrupulously in accordance with the treaty.” After his protest, on June 10, 1939, the British government informed the Khan that “His Excellency recognises the treaty of 1876 as fully valid in every respect and that it would henceforth form the relations between the British and Kalat.”
In March 1946, the Khan submitted a memorandum to the Cabinet Mission through his lawyer — none other than Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The memorandum argued that: “On the transference of power in British India, the subsisting treaties between the Khan of Kalat and the British government would come to an end, and whatever obligations have been imposed on the Khan by these treaties will ipso facto terminate. The consequence will be that the state of Kalat will become fully sovereign and independent in respect of both external and internal matters.”
As the Cabinet Mission could not find flaws with the legality of the demand, it left the issue unresolved. At a round table conference held in Delhi on August 4, 1947 — attended by Lord Mountbatten, the Khan of Kalat and Jinnah — it was decided that the “Kalat State will be independent, enjoying the same status as it originally held in 1838.” Jinnah also signed a standstill agreement with the Khan on August 4, 1947. According to it, “The government of Pakistan recognises Kalat as an independent sovereign state in treaty relations with the British government, with a status different from that of Indian states.”
Thereafter, the Khan declared the independence of Kalat on August 12, 1947, two days before the creation of Pakistan. The independence, however, was short-lived. At the end of March 1948, Pakistan occupied Kalat and forced the Khan to sign the instrument of accession.
From the evidence, it is clear that Kalat was not an Indian state. Thus, legally at least, Pakistan’s occupation of Balochistan is dubious at best, illegal at worst. In either case, there is merit in the argument of the Baloch nationalists that Balochistan is not an internal matter of Pakistan. As Jinnah argued before the Cabinet Mission, the association of Balochistan with India was “merely due to its connection with the British government.”
It is one of the ironies of history that Jinnah, who as Kalat’s lawyer had argued for its independence and as governor general-designate of Pakistan agreed to its independence, was later to force its accession to Pakistan.

Europe Shall Stand Changed by Immigration

Europe has been run over by immigration. It was invaded by Muslims, earlier, but the Moors had not penetrated in the heart of Europe. However, the process of colonization had a two-fold effect. It enabled the Christin missionaries to convert the non-Christians in the colonized countries, but the others were impacted by the local cultures as well. And when the colonies became independent, there was some surge to go to the countries of the rulers, as they were richer had offered more opportunities.
The unsettling of Middle East by uncalled for interference by US, added to the process of immigration and Europe became the favourite destination. It has assumed such proportions that it has thrown politics on both sides of the Atlantic into confusion.
In the United States, Republicans are divided over the nominee their voters have chosen for the presidency and his incendiary comments about migrants. Meanwhile, as Britain prepares to leave the European Union, the British prime minister has said he will step down, and the leader of the opposition there just lost a vote of confidence among members of his own party.
Control over immigration was a major issue in the campaign over whether Britain would remain in the E.U. Polls closed there last week just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in the controversy over President Obama’s immigration policy.
Demographers project more and more immigrants for decades to come. Last Thursday’s events raise troubling questions about the ability of political institutions in the developed world to cope with their arrival.
Annual net immigration into Europe is projected to increase steadily from current levels for another 20 years. This year, just over 1 million immigrants will arrive in the Europe, according to Eurostat, the statistical agency of the E.U. That figure will reach an apex of nearly 1.5 million in 2036, the agency projects.
If current trends hold, immigration to Europe will not subside below its current level until 2069. The continent will have seen net immigration of 77 million people in that time. The figure includes immigrants to the 28 members of the E.U. as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
By 2080, these migrants and their progeny will have increased the population of the E.U. by 121 million, relative to what the continent’s population would be then without any immigration. The result will be a Europe that is substantially more diverse than it is today.
For example, the number of European Christians is projected to decline by about 18 percent, to 454 million, between now and the middle of the century, according to Pew . The center predicts that the number of European Muslims will nearly double, to about 71 million.
To be sure, these are only projections. If Europe’s economic woes continue, the continent will be less attractive to potential immigrants in Asia and Africa. If the population in Asia and Africa does not grow as fast as forecasters anticipate, there will be fewer migrants as well.
European governments could also try to reduce levels of legal immigration by preventing migrants from crossing their borders and deporting those who do illegally. Efforts to reduce immigration have only a mixed record of success, however. When one crossing is policed, migrants inevitably find other routes to their destinations.
In the United States, there is evidence that enforcement along the border with Mexico might even have worsened the problem. Some experts on immigration argue that had the federal government allowed Mexican laborers to move freely across the border, they would have traveled back and forth alone, between work and their families. But because U.S. authorities made the journey costly and dangerous, some say, many migrants decided to cross the border just once, taking their families with them.
Instead of reducing the number of migrants living illegally in the United States, enforcement along the Mexican border has increased that population by 44 percent by encouraging workers to take their families with them on the journey north. Some researchers dispute these figures. There also is no consensus that the manpower and resources dedicated to controlling the border have reduced illegal immigration.
Europe’s efforts to control illegal migration might be more successful, in part because the Mediterranean is a natural barrier and because fewer people are trying to go to Europe. An average of 1.6 million immigrants arrived in the United States every year between 2000 and 2005, as per Pew estimate.Untitled
The rate of immigration has declined since then and is not expected to accelerate as it is in Europe. All the same, the share of the U.S. population born outside the country should continue to increase, according to Pew, from 14 percent today to 18 percent five decades from now.
The organization projects that future immigrants and their progeny will increase the U.S. population by 103 million in 2065 relative to what the population would be without additional immigration.

Stephen Harper: A Role Model for the Republicans

The unique honour bestowed on StephenHarper by Ukraine once again has proved that Stephen Harper has established his reputation as a Conservative statesman par excellence and he is a fit model to be followed by  his ilk. With each passing outrage, policy gaffe and character flaw it seems increasingly unlikely Donald Trump’s self-declared reputation as a winner will survive the 2016 United States presidential election. The bigger issue now is whether the Republican Party can survive Donald Trump. If the American conservative movement finds itself breaking apart, perhaps Canada has some lessons to offer.
The rise of Trump has created exceptional disorder within the Republican Party, which has long prided itself on methodical succession plans and candidates who wait their turn. (Sometimes waiting too long—viz. Bob Dole in 1996.) As the old saw goes: Democrats fall in love while Republicans fall in line.
Trump quickly bullied his way to the top of the ballot with an angry brand of populism. In the process he also upended the party’s standard policy playbook. Familiar Republican orthodoxies such as support for free trade, immigration, entitlement reform and the promotion of democracy abroad have been tossed in favour of protectionism and isolationism. In directing his message at voters who were economically anxious, white, primarily male and older, Trump has also foiled Republican Party plans, hatched in the wake of Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, to reach out to black, Hispanic, Millennial and female voting blocs.
For all his disruptions, Trump has been sternly rebuked by the party’s old guard. Last week 50 of the Republican Party’s most experienced national security officials explicitly disavowed his candidacy. “Trump lacks the character, values and experience to be president . . . [he] has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests,” the open letter reads. Signatories include a former CIA director, two former secretaries of Homeland Security and numerous top aides and strategists from previous Republican administrations. It is a shocking condemnation of a nominated presidential candidate by leading figures within his own party. What are the long-term implications of this sort of internal discontent?
One possibility is that we are on the cusp of a historic—but not unprecedented—realignment of American politics. Republicans and Democrats may be centuries-old rivals, but over time they’ve swapped positions and supporters. While free trade may seem a bedrock Republican value, up until the 1950s the party was generally opposed to open borders—the infamous Smoot-Hawley tariff that put the “Great” in the Great Depression was a Republican innovation. And the South once constituted an electoral desert for Republican candidates, thanks to the party’s historical support for black rights and northern liberal values. That too changed as Southern conservative voters gradually lost faith in the Democrats and found a new home with the Republicans.
The same sort of shift may be occurring now. Trump’s focus on economic anxiety and his desire to reduce U.S. engagement with the rest of the world shares much in common with socialist Bernie Sanders’s position during his surprisingly successful run for the Democratic nomination. At the same time, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s hawkish reputation as secretary of state and her longstanding presence as an establishment figure in Washington may offer traditional Republican voters a greater sense of security and comfort on foreign policy and the smooth operation of government. Trump and Clinton may thus be presiding over a historic exchange of policies and voters: with the Democrats becoming a more centrist, white-collar party with a view beyond America’s borders and the Republicans adopting a populist and isolationist mantle.
The other possibility is that Trump’s disruptions could cause his party to shatter into its constituent parts: chamber-of-commerce business interests, Tea Partiers, social conservatives and Trump’s angry white males. If this proves the case, Canadian conservatives might have something to offer their compatriots south of the border.
Recall that following the 1993 election, the Canadian conservative coalition built by former prime minister Brian Mulroney also broke into several pieces: Western Canadian Reformers, Bloc Québécois separatists and traditional Progressive Conservatives. It took 13 years of bitter recriminations, ideological division, personality conflict and several embarrassing electoral defeats before anyone was able to put it all back together into a competitor equal to the federal Liberals.
When the Conservative party was finally reconstituted under Stephen Harper, it was with a platform that took deliberate aim at the vast centre of Canadian politics. The many populist hallmarks of the Reform party, such as one-member, one-vote leadership contests and a triple-E Senate reform, were quietly dropped. As were controversial issues such as abortion. While he may have become a divisive figure in the 2015 election, Harper’s plan for reuniting the party was based on middle-of-the-road policies and a Tim Hortons personality. Bland brought Canadian conservatives back from the brink. If Republicans hope to survive Trumpism they must focus on a similar need to capture the centre, however boring that may seem. Perhaps Jeb Bush has a future in American politics after all.

Democracy Faces a Major Threat from Social Media

The internet was meant to spread democracy. Is it possible that it is having exactly the opposite effect? Over the past two decades, the internet has rewired civil society in unprecedented ways, propelling collective action to a radically new level of citizen autonomy.
Democracy is now not only infrequently exercised at the ballot box, but is lived and experienced online on a day-to-day basis.
Much has been made of the democratizing effect of the internet, and its emancipatory impact on under-represented and marginalized groups living under authoritarian regimes, where it nurtures a networked public sphere that constitutes an independent alternative to tightly controlled media environments.
This networked public sphere allows for bottom-up agenda-setting, universal access to information, and freedom from governmental interference. The various formats of the networked public sphere provide anyone with an outlet to speak, to inquire, to investigate, without need to access the resources of a major media organization.
Since more members of society are now encouraged to participate in public discourse and speak up about matters they deem to be of public concern, the internet has rendered the diversity of citizens’ views more salient. This is particularly visible when there is conflict and disagreement between different political or civic interest groups. Whenever there is a controversial policy announcement, there will always be a highly motivated group of people who use the internet to apply enormous pressure on politicians in these moments by voicing their discontent.
Democratic bodies are typically elected in periods of three to five years, yet citizen opinions seem to fluctuate daily and sometimes these mood swings grow to enormous proportions. When thousands of people all start tweeting about the same subject on the same day, you know that something is up. With so much dynamic and salient political diversity in the electorate, how can policy-makers ever reach a consensus that could satisfy everyone? If our representatives are unable to keep up with digital expressions of citizen sentiment, does that mean that we have become ungovernable by the institutions that exist today?
At the same time, it would be a grave mistake to discount the voices of the internet as something that has no connection to real political situations. Last month, British politicians and activists campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU in the recent referendum had to learn this lesson the hard way.
What happened in the UK was not only a political disaster, but also a vivid example of what happens when you combine the uncontrollable power of the internet with a lingering visceral feeling that ordinary people have lost control of the politics that shape their lives. When people feel their democratic representatives do not serve them anymore, they turn to the internet. They look for others who feel the same and moans turn into movements.
In this regard, the Leave campaign’s main social media messages appealed to the agency of ordinary voters to reject the rule of the bureaucracy and “take control” of their own country. Using very simple language, largely consisting of only a few syllables, these messages spread very fast across the internet and were often reinforced with amusing memes, instead of rigorous expert opinions or statistics.
Polarization as a driver of populism
In light of these recent developments, right-wing populist sentiments have been growing in strength and popularity across both Europe and the US. These movements are fuelled by populist anger, resurgent nationalism, and a deep-rooted hostility towards immigrants.
People who have long entertained right-wing populist ideas, but were never confident enough to voice them openly, are now in a position to connect to like-minded others online and use the internet as a megaphone for their opinions. They become more confident and vigorous, because they see that others share their beliefs. This is concerning, because we know from previous research that increased contact with people who share our views makes our previously held beliefs more extreme. It grants us new group identities that permit us to do things we deemed inconceivable before. In this way, one could argue that the Brexit vote was as much a vote to reclaim one’s political independence as it was a vote to reclaim one’s lost national identity.
The greater diversity and availability of digital content implies that people may choose to only consume content that matches their own worldviews. We choose who to follow and who to befriend. The resulting echo chambers tend to amplify and reinforce our existing opinions, which is dysfunctional for a healthy democratic discourse. And while social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter generally have the power to expose us to politically diverse opinions, research suggests that the filter bubbles they sometimes create are, in fact, exacerbated by the platforms’ personalization algorithms, which are based on our social networks and our previously expressed ideas.
This means that instead of creating an ideal type of a digitally mediated “public agora”, which would allow citizens to voice their concerns and share their hopes, the internet has actually increased conflict and ideological segregation between opposing views, granting a disproportionate amount of clout to the most extreme opinions.
The disintegration of the general will
In political philosophy, the very idea of democracy is based on the principal of the general will, which was proposed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 18th century. Rousseau envisioned that a society needs to be governed by a democratic body that acts according to the imperative will of the people as a whole.
However, Rousseau foresaw in Book IV of the Social Contract that “when particular interests begin to make themselves felt […], the common interest changes and finds opponents: opinion is no longer unanimous; the general will ceases to be the will of all; contradictory views and debates arise; and the best advice is not taken without question.”
The internet, in particular, intensifies the fragmentation of opinions, allowing people who are most passionate, motivated and outspoken to find likeminded others and make themselves heard – as we have seen on social media in the EU referendum.
In a similar vein, sudden attention-grabbing focusing events, such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks or external shocks to the environment, could also sway public opinion and trigger hasty political decisions with potentially unsustainable repercussions. Politicians run the risk of making important policy-decisions based on current emotional bursts in the population or momentary popular opinions, rather than what is best for the country. For instance, important and far-reaching decisions, such as leaving the EU, would need to be approved by qualified two-thirds majorities in multiple plebiscites over several years.
The critical challenge for policy-makers is, therefore, to learn to distinguish when a seemingly popular movement does actually represent the emerging general will of the majority and when it is merely the echo of a loud, but insignificant minority.
Prospects for a future-proof democracy
There can be no doubt that a new form of digitally mediated politics is a crucial component of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: the internet is already used for bottom-up agenda-setting, empowering citizens to speak up in a networked public sphere, and pushing the boundaries of the size, sophistication and scope of collective action. In particular, social media has changed the nature of political campaigning and will continue to play an important role in future elections and political campaigns around the world.
However, this technology can also be a platform for conflict and malicious agitation by right-wing populists that are dysfunctional for a healthy democratic discourse, while our current governance systems are susceptible to emotional bursts and populist movements that unfold on the internet. What the EU referendum has taught us is that this accelerating technology is open to all and can be used to influence the public agenda in many different ways. Intimated by the power of internet users, our current governance institutions are, however, incapable of handling the dynamism and diversity of digitally-mediated citizen opinions.
We are thus not ungovernable in the long term, but need to govern ourselves in radically new ways. The only way to accomplish that is by re-imagining the institutions that would allow citizens to engage in enlightened debate in an active and inclusive public sphere.

Seven Decades of Free India

Indians just celebrated the 70th birthday of independent India. As they say in Gujarati, India has finished 69 and is running 70th year. Even so, it is a milestone. Pakistan did not last so long. It broke up before its 25th birthday. Yugoslavia lasted less than 70 years and the Soviet Union only 74.
With birthdays comes a chance to reminisce. What were the best decades of independent India? As always, childhood — the first decade, 1947-1956 — was tremendous. There was a lot of hope and confidence in India’s future. Jawaharlal Nehru as the first prime minister was not only a commanding leader but he had earned his position by 25 years of freedom struggle and then winning the first three general elections. He came to the top by merit, which cannot be said of his daughter and grandson. (Some would prefer Vallabhbhai Patel but Gandhiji rolled the dice.)
The decade started with the miseries of Partition and the need to settle the five million or more refugees. But the nation coped with rationing in good spirit. It managed a decent rate of economic growth for the first time in 50 years. India’s international standing was high and it played the go-between in the settlement of the Korean War and the departure of the French from Indo-China. As the first and the largest country to become independent, it played a lead role in the UN.
The next three decades were full of trouble and strife. The Second Five Year Plan was found to be too ambitious, and then India suffered the death of two prime ministers, two famines and two wars in the second decade. The third decade was even worse. Apart from the decisive victory over Pakistan in 1971, it had inflation, Naxalites, and ended up with Emergency. India did, however, manage the Green Revolution, a triumph for the farmers, who as private sector entrepreneurs responded to the incentives.
The decade of 1977-1986 had few compensations. Strife in Punjab, the assassination of a prime minister, the slaughter in Delhi, plus Bofors. India at 40 was just about together. There had been no economic growth worth speaking during the previous three decades and a crippling permit-licence raj. But as often happens in life, with age comes a certain easy ability to change your ways. Midway through the fifth decade, India turned over a new leaf thanks to another non-dynastic Congress prime minister after 25 years. The Soviet Union collapsed and Narasimha Rao began readjusting Indian foreign policy away from visceral anti-Americanism (a.k.a. Non-Alignment).
The sixth decade, 1997-2006, saw India beginning to come into its own. India openly tested the nuclear bomb and registered its desire to be taken seriously as a military, not just a moral, power.
It was a decade of stunningly high growth and manageable inflation. Poverty levels came down. A visit by an American president began to be routine. India contained Pakistan, though attempts to befriend it failed.
The seventh decade took India back to the old days. The years 2007-2016 were up, down and up. The high inflation, lower growth of 2009/2014 took away the good feeling of the previous dozen years. Corruption reached its nadir.
Can India make the next 70 years better than the last 70?

The Chinese trail

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come” — Victor Hugo .
The concept of balancing economic development with environmental resource conservation has been a part of global discourse for over two decades, but has remained inconclusive and vague. The year 2015, however, changed that when the Sustainable Deve­lopment Goals (SDGs) clearly laid out globally agreed upon signposts for the future.
While much of the world is still scrambling to honour this consensus and heed the call for translating rhetoric into reality, a remarkable shift is happening in one of the most unexpected of quarters. Slowly but surely, the Chinese engine of development has been shifting gears.
Following decades of rapid development that managed to propel millions out of poverty, China is now experiencing the high and unavoidable price to be paid for ignoring environmental care. Air that you cannot breathe and water you cannot drink can quickly choke the very basis of economic progress. Realising that the existing model of ‘pollution now and solution later’ is unsustainable, not only environmentally but also financially, this engine of growth has been self-correcting its course.
It started about a decade ago when the idea of ushering in an ‘eco-civilisation’ was first discussed at the 17th National People’s Congress. This laid the ground for an economic transformation as it led to the concept being enshrined in China’s constitution in 2012. A new force had now been unleashed.
Within China, the first to take the lead on this trail were the ecologically rich provinces of Guizhou, Yunnan and Hainan, which demonstrated varying models of green development in practical terms. Subsequently, China’s model of eco-civilisation has slowly matured and crystallised over the years. A course of self-correction has been adopted to reverse pollution.
Firstly, in addition to being social, economic and environmental in nature, its foundation also has spiritual roots. It has built upon ideas embedded deeply in Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, and is meant to rekindle the interdependent harmony between humans and nature that all of them preach.
Secondly, the concept not only integrates the remarkable progress that the world has already made on SDGs and climate negotiations, it also takes a step further by demonstrating a model for its implementation. Within this concept, environmental conservation is not just considered an ‘add on’ to development but an integral part of development that must be mainstreamed. It has been integrated as one of the five pillars of growth in the recently announced five-year development plan for 2016-2020 — through defined plans and stated targets on forestry, national parks and the reduction of water and air pollution. All these are backed by dedicated public funds for implementation over five years.
China is aiming to export this eco-philosophy to its neighbouring region. The concept is now being integrated into the ‘One Belt, One Road’ project, which is reaching out to expand the country’s influence, trade links and economic growth to over 60 countries through the creation of an economically linked belt. The underlying objective is to export not just development, but ecologically responsible development, to trusted trading partners along the centuries-old Silk Road. In this context, it can be seen as shifting the trajectory of growth in both China and the adjoining region.
Being one of the central countries of this project, Pakistan has a rare opportunity to reap the benefits of this transformation by fully aligning the large infrastructure development currently planned along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with environmental res­ponsibility. This will not only ensure that its own development is climate-compatible and eco­logically sustainable but will also align it with a ris­ing global phen­omenon.
Thirdly, learning a central lesson from China’s own growth model, the concept of eco-civilisation endeavours to define ‘development’ not just in terms of economic growth but also in terms of poverty reduction. This has relevance for developing countries, where capitalist models of ‘trickle-down’ economics have largely failed to effectively address the plague of ever-increasing poverty.
Finally, and most importantly, the concept envisions altering the course of global growth and influencing an entire society to think differently along a shifting paradigm — from fossil fuels to renewables, from economic capital to natural capital, from resource plunder to sustainable use, and from carbon-intensive to carbon-sensitive development.
In many ways, the future envisioned for an ‘eco-civilisation’ seems to be adequately developed and in place to align China with this shifting reality and shape a future where economic growth is balanced with environmental care. Such a prospect can be termed as the dawn of a new eco-civilisation.

Ever elusive global recovery?

The World Bank has once again lowered the global growth estimates by reducing the anticipated growth in 2016 from 2.9% projected at the start of the year to 2.4% now in the report on Global Economic Prospects released yesterday. And the slowdown is extensive impacting on both developed and developing economies. While forecasted growth in the developed or high income economies has been lowered by almost one-fifth to 1.7% that in the developing countries has been reduced by around a quarter to 3.5%.
And the reasons are many. It includes the fall in commodity prices, which has hurt both rich oil exporting and primary goods producing countries, but more importantly the further weakening of global trade and capital flows. The latter two reasons in some way points to a kind of reverse globalisation. It certainly indicates that countries, faced with an elusive recovery, seems to be pulling down their shutters to protect themselves import of foreign goods even as the growing uncertainties force global investors to delay new investments for some time.
The fall in commodity prices has been of some comfort to commodity importing countries, especially the developed ones, and also the developing countries like India and China. Thus we find that the 2016 growth estimates for China remain unchanged at 6.7% while that of India’s has been marginally toned down from 7.8% to 7.6% most probably because Indian exports of goods and services have been more severely affected.
The prospects of an immediate recovery look bleak because growth in the United States, which had shown the maximum buoyancy among advanced countries, has weakened substantially in recent months with projected growth in 2016 now revised down by more than a quarter from 2.7% to 1.9%. Worse affected is Japan whose growth projections have been whittled down by more than half to 0.5%. The only redeeming feature about the advanced economies is the marginal fall in the Euro area growth to 1.6%.
The scenario in the developing countries is much more disparate and uneven. Deceleration of growth in South Asia and East Asia and the Pacific has been minimal mainly because of the strength of the Indian and Chinese economies. However, Pakistan has registered a bigger hit with growth rate revised down more sharply from 5.5% to 4.5%. In the Far East Thailand has been a gainer with projected growth revised up to 2.5%.
The most affected part of the developing world has been Latin America and the Caribbean. Growth is now expected to shrink by 1.3% in the region with Brazil registering the biggest fall of 4% followed by a less severe 0.5% fall in Argentina. Developing countries in the Europe and Central Asia region fare relatively better with the 2016 growth now revised down by more than half from 3.2% to 1.2%. But while the fall in growth is expected to accelerate to 1.2% in Russia the growth in the Turkish economy is expected to hold steady at an impressive 3.5%.
Growth has also been revised down for both the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. While the Middle East and North African economies will see growth plunge from the 5.1% expected earlier to just 2.9% now Sub-Saharan Africa will see growth fall from 4.2% to 2.5%. In fact the smaller economies in Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to register a better performance than the larger ones.
And to add to the concerns the World Bank report notes that the downside risks have further increased in the more recent months. The fall in energy prices also does not seem to have the intended effect of boosting real income and consumption. Decelerating growth prospects has in turn further weakened investment sentiments. A big hope is that growth in commodity-importing developing countries will continue to be buoyant. Similarly growth in low-income countries is also expected to pick up to 5.3% in 2016 with the growth supported by reforms and resilient domestic investments. But a firm breakout from the low growth equilibrium will require that the advanced economies are able to accelerate growth and support the sagging external demand in the developing economies. But that remains a big question mark given the demographic profile and the political uncertainties that plague these countries.
This kind of situation, if one may be snarky, is just too I-told-you-so for us post-apocalyptic financial commentators. Boo-hoo the stock markets are in turmoil and venerable media outlets are talking of Global Financial Crisis III, like they’d talk about World War III.
(The first was the 2008 Lehman crash, the second was the Eurozone crisis, and now it’s supposed to be the emerging market meltdown.) Ho hum. Economists and financial commentators don’t have anything new to say – mainly because from Paul Krugman to Nouriel Roubini to Jeffrey Sachs to Huffington Post; and forgive me for many I’m missing – along with humble commentators like me – we all predicted this about 8 years ago.
And we’ve been repeating ourselves ad nauseum ever since. Gets kinda boring. How long can you go on telling a juvenile delinquent not to dope or drive drunk? Everyone’s terrified that global banking is in for a crash; Let’s be honest, sheriff, it ain’t been out of trouble for over 8 years.
They’ve just been politically bailed out and covered up for. Given the evidence of the past 8 years, the same will happen again. If anyone takes a close look, those sub-prime and CDC type products are floating around in the markets again, and doing perfectly well, thank you. There’s a new generation of bankers at the helm, but umm, they’re not doing much except taking home fabulous salaries. There’s also a new generation of traders – in Indian parlance, stockbrokers and day traders – who haven’t remotely learnt any lessons from the past.
They were in school. And we’re all supposed to blame the Chinese and the falling oil prices. This is where I stick my neck out. The conventional wisdom now is that oil prices falling is bad for the stock markets, ergo, it’s bad for the people on the street.
Sorry, that’s rubbish. Falling oil prices is not a bad thing, in geopolitical terms. How much less money will all those rogue West Asian states, including Saudi Arabia, have for fomenting religious strife if they’re short of money? And Russia? The fact that America has entered the oil producer equation – as I predicted – with shale gas is a big deal. And they haven’t even touched their Alaskan reserves yet.
Unless ISIS does a deal with America, oil prices aren’t rising. The US of A is pumping too much oil into the system. Personally, I prefer intimidation by oil prices than bombers and troops. Let’s see. Other than India and China, most so-called emerging markets depended on their oil reserves.
The world has changed since the BRICS, and then PIGs, and then emerging markets were identified. For India, falling oil prices should be manna from heaven. It’s the biggest spanner in our deficit and growth equation. The question is, where is that excess money going to go? We’re waiting for Budget 2016. It’s easy to be flip and say the problems in stock market are all about a slowing China and oil price drops.
That’s precisely what I’d expect all the 20-something analysts and traders to say. They look at projections, they look at futures. They don’t look to the past. If one may be brutally honest, nobody, but nobody, takes all the stock market volatility seriously – there is no bubbling Lehman type crisis at the moment even if one of the global banks – say Deutsche which has been in the spotlight – went belly-up.
The one lesson the global banking and Central banking community learnt is how to deal with it. To quote Mario Draghi’s almost immortal takes, all it will take to avert WW III is “whatever it takes.”

Licensed agents of intolerance

No doubt that we are wading through an uncertain era of religious atavism. But let us also not ignore another by-product of this apparent iodine deficiency — cultural cretinism. It is steadily shrinking our life skills, including the ability to bond with people from different branches of the tree we share.
The tragedy of the Bamiyan Buddhas and of a mediaeval mosque in Ayodhya, the sacking of Palmyra in Syria, the gunning down of a loved qawwal in Pakistan, the growing assaults on Bauls in Bangladesh, who sing Tagore, Nazrul and Ginsberg, the forced deplaning of a honeymooning couple by an air hostess after she heard the man saying “Allah”, the rise of Donald Trump, the assault on Muslims and Dalits in India for eating beef, the routine beating up of Africans and Manipuris in Delhi are interconnected by a global enterprise. It uses religion to destroy great, living cultures with hate and fear.
The Bamiyan Buddhas were ensconced since whenever in Afghanistan, including several centuries under Muslim watch. They were either admired or accepted like any habit by those that lived under their majestic shadow. Then one day the great work of art was blown up, with artillery, by marauders who were raised in a joint enterprise by America and its allies as the ‘sword arm’ of Islam.
Someone asked Zbigniew Brzezinski, president Carter’s security adviser, why he had created them. He said it was more important to bring down the Soviet empire than to worry about “a few stirred-up Muslims”. That’s what we mean by cultural cretinism. Brzezinski had no clue what he was getting into. The air hostess in the plane was similarly ignorant that many Muslims by habit will call out to God, as would Jews and Gentiles, if the air conditioning was malfunctioning in their plane. Who doesn’t fight off a yawn by calling out to God? That’s not religion, that’s culture. Eating beef is not religion; it’s culture. Not eating beef or pork can be religion, if it is not also part of a doctor’s advice against cholesterol.
Prejudice, whether ultra nationalist or religious, is grounded in simplistic gibberish.
In India, people eat dog, frog, snake and mice, apart from the more popular meats. The Maoist (and non-Maoist) tribes of Chhattisgarh savour a delicacy made with red ants. It gives them calories to fight the Indian army. It’s their culture, not religion. The late Prof Moonis Raza who set up the Jawaharlal Nehru University would say that two meats were frowned upon by orthodox Hindus, and by Jews and Muslims. He was as much a cultural Muslim as his brother Rahi Masoom Raza who wrote the Mahabharat serial. It is another matter that Rahi’s televised story from a Hindu epic helped Hindutva gain a leg over his own liberal moorings. One of the characters from the serial is the controversial head of the state-run Poona film institute, which was once headed by Shyam Benegal and Saeed Mirza.
Palmyra in Syria changed hands on a number of occasions between different empires before becoming a subject of the Roman Empire in the first century AD. The city was reduced to ruins recently by men who set out to unseat the Syrian regime but couldn’t. They turned their wrath on an ancient relic of an amazing civilisation.
This is par for the course for cultural disruptions elsewhere. Mirza Ghalib’s house in Delhi was retrieved from a coal stall. Mir Taqi Mir’s grave in Lucknow disappeared under British-built railway tracks. Wali Gujarati, the 18th-century Urdu poet was a cultural Muslim who wrote paeans to Hindu icons. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s followers dug up his grave in Ahmedabad, while his bureaucracy built a spanking new road over it. It was bad enough that Genghis Khan (who was not Muslim) and the East India Company looted and plundered cultures they were unfamiliar with. However, Trump and Modi have been thrown up by their chest-thumping democracies, while Abu Bakr Baghdadi had to usurp power. The missing quantity of cultural iodine in democracies is perhaps more worrying.+
Modi slammed Hindutva busybodies for “running shops” in the name of cow care but didn’t spell out who the authorised agents were. As it turned out, Brzezinski wanted to finish off the Soviet Union and Modi wanted to become prime minister. Both harnessed religion to undermine the life skills of culture.
It is thus a fact that prejudice, whether ultra nationalist or religious, is grounded in simplistic gibberish. Culture ushers a complex togetherness even if such proximity will not always bring abundance of milk and honey. Still it is the only way we know.
Powerful agents of intolerance are at work on both sides of the imbroglio, plundering a living culture with the more profitable religious atavism.

Jason Bourne, Donald Trump and the anti-systems mood

Watching Jason Bourne, the fifth and latest movie in the Bourne series, I had a sudden moment of illumination. This, surely, is the anti-systems mood that Donald Trump also comes out of. Everything is dark and foreboding in Jason Bourne’s world; vast conspiracies are afoot against the American people.
The Bourne series is often seen as competitive to the Bond franchise,  but Bourne marks an interesting contrast to James Bond. People who haven’t yet watched but intend to should stop reading here; there might be spoilers ahead.
In Bond the good guys and bad guys are clearly delineated: Bond has the resources of the Western world behind him even when he’s alone. He has an expansive, and expensive lifestyle and his outlook is likewise: he has his martini cocktails a certain way and steamy sex with the most beautiful women.
By contrast Bourne’s world is utterly claustrophobic: hunted and on the run most of the time, doesn’t even know who he is, no time for affairs and little sensuality (rather, the overwhelming feeling is of wanting to curl into a foetal position), no resources except a few provisional allies who mostly get eliminated and/or only pretend to be allies in order to turn him in, the CIA with quasi-omnipotent powers and running black ops all the time that is always after him.
Systems, and society are always oppressive. It’s a lot like the old Hindu impulse to renounce the world, except there’s no deep forest one can retire to. No matter where you go in the world, the CIA can see you and pull you in.
All the characters in Jason Bourne are CIA or have links to the CIA; that’s how claustrophobic it gets. The movie has explosive action and brilliant photography; but characters are always one-dimensional (Bond movies allow for far more character development).
And the movie’s paranoid too, like others in the series. For instance Robert Dewey, the CIA director, sends operatives to capture Bourne but secretly authorizes the Asset, an assassin working for him, to assassinate the other operatives as well and pin it on Bourne, so that there is a reason to assassinate Bourne, which is who he (along with the Asset) really wants to assassinate.
Now, I know CIA assassinates people and operates in a very murky and amoral domain. But assassinate its own operatives, just to frame someone? That would certainly spoil its esprit de corps (resembling more of an esprit de corpse, shall we say).
That’s the paranoid feeling that accounts for a lot of Donald Trump’s support as well: the notion that the world is closing in on one, and one needs to pull up the ramparts and circle the wagons (or curl into a foetal position) before they get you.
This sensibility might seem very un-American – supposedly an open and expansive frontier spirit — but it does correspond to one part of the American experience. When I was in the US — and this was during the go-go nineties, when America straddled the world and hadn’t lost its confidence yet – there were persistent reports of sightings of black UN helicopters hovering overhead, waiting to swoop in and take over the US mainland.
I can bet those who believed such reports then are supporters of Donald Trump today, although the UN helicopters are likely to have morphed into Mexican helicopters in 2016.

Millennials are a breed apart from their grandparents

In 1966, the Vietnam War was raging, the Soviet Union and the US and its allies were locked in a nuclear arms race and John Lennon had proclaimed The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus”.
That year America’s “Silent generation”, now mostly in their 70s and 80s, was entering adulthood. During the intervening five decades they’ve witnessed huge changes to US society and culture.
Institutions like political parties, religion, the military and marriage no longer play such an important role in the lives of Americans, especially millennials. Today a majority of women are in the workforce and are more likely than men to have a college education. And at the same time, the US has become more racially diverse.
This is according to the Pew Research Center, which has compared US millennials with the Silent generation 50 years ago to reveal a string of changes that have occurred in young people’s lives.
The research highlights seven ways that millennials are different from the Silents, many of whom are old enough to be their grandparents.
1. Millennials are better educated
Only 7% of Silent-generation women aged 18 to 33 had completed at least a Bachelor’s degree. Today, millennial women are nearly four times (27%) more likely to have attained that level of education.
Millennial men are also better educated than their Silent predecessors. About 21% have at least a Bachelor’s, compared with only 12% of young men 50 years ago.
2. Millennial women are better educated than millennial men
Millennial women are six percentage points more likely than men in the same age group to have achieved at least a Bachelor’s degree (27% vs 21%).
By comparison, when Silents were aged 18 to 33, women were five percentage points less likely to have finished at least four years of college education.
But the first generation of women to be better educated than their male peers were Gen Xers, the cohort following the Baby Boomers, who had gained a two percentage point advantage by 1998.
3. Millennial women are much more likely to be working
In 1963, a majority (59%) of young women were not in the labour force and just 38% were employed. That trend began to reverse as early as 1980. And now only 31% of millennial women are out of the labour force, while 63% are employed.
4. Millennials face a tougher job market
Many millennials entered the workforce during the worst recession for decades, following the financial crisis of 2008 – a fact borne out by employment figures.
Some 78% of men in the Gen X, Boomer and Silent generations were employed at ages 18 to 33. This share has fallen to 68% among millennial men.
5. Millennials are much less likely to marry
Some seven in 10 millennials (68%) have never been married. And those who do marry, tend to wait until they’re older – typically 27 for women and 29 for men in 2014.
By comparison, in 1963, the average American woman married at 21 and the average American man at 23.
When the Silents were the same age as millennials are now, just 32% had never been married.
6. Millennials are much more likely to be from ethnic minorities
Immigration, marriage between people of different ethnic backgrounds and higher fertility rates among some ethnic groups have led to changes in the ethnic makeup of the US.
As a result, millennials are much more racially and ethnically diverse than their predecessors.

Modi’s Balochistan-speak signals recovery of natural frontiers

What made Satyajit Ray a compelling filmmaker was his mastery over little details. In Sonar Kella (Golden Fort), the first of his Feluda series, there is the scene of the two conmen approaching the house of the little boy whose recollections of an earlier life had been written about in the newspapers. As they wandered into the narrow lane where the boy lived, they sighted a small child. Believing it to be the child blessed with these amazing powers, they stop him, asking for directions. “You see,” they tell him in Bengali, “we have come all the way from Balochistan.”
Whether it is Rabindranath Tagore’s Kabuliwala or travellers from Balochistan, places and peoples associated with the Great Game have always had an exotic association for fertile minds in the plains. The sense of mystery and adventure has inevitably been aroused, not least among a generation that grew up on a diet of Rudyard Kipling. The idea of the ‘noble savage’ that combined primitiveness with a fanatical sense of loyalty and freedom made a deep impression on all aficionados of Empire.
The republic of India was always intended to be the successor of the British Indian empire, a vast expanse of territory whose reach (as distinct from direct control) extended from Singapore in the east to Aden in the west, and from Gilgit to Colombo. The foreign policy of the British Indian empire wasn’t controlled from the India Office in Whitehall but from, first, Calcutta and, after 1911, Delhi. This was a legacy that long predated the East India Company. The Mughal empire always had one eye on the lost homelands of Central Asia. Prior to that, even after the Shaivite kingdoms of Afghanistan were lost to invaders from West Asia in the 11th century, the civilizational reach of India extended far beyond the frontiers of the state.
In a recent book, The Ocean of Churn, Sanjeev Sanyal has wonderfully documented the extent to which trade with countries in the Indian Ocean shaped the histories of the east and west coasts of India. It is a much-needed corrective to the Middle India-centric perception of our national past.
Sadly, much of the impulses that motivated the rotund Bengali Hurree Babu, in Kipling’s Kim, to risk his life tracking nefarious Russian designs in the forbidding Himalayas, are in danger of being erased from public memory. Independence from alien rule was a moment of great exultation. But it also had two unintended but adverse consequences.
First, the partition of the country involved the loss of the frontier territories and the common border with Afghanistan. The occupation of nearly half of the old kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan also meant the loss of Gilgit-Baltistan. In the east, Tibet came under the direct control of China.
In Kim, Hurree Babu had remarked to his youthful companion: “When everyone is dead, the Great Game is finished. Not before.” It turned out to be a false prophecy. India remained and even prospered but the truncation of the Indian state meant that the enlarged vision of the frontier was seriously truncated, both politically and emotionally. The vast repertoire of knowledge, so assiduously built by functionaries of the Indian Political Service ceased to be part of institutional memory. The effects were tragic. In 1999, the Indian response to the Pakistani-sponsored incursions into Kargil was delayed because the Army lacked the resources to understand and translate the radio chatter of the attackers.
Secondly, in positing non-alignment and anti-colonialism as the hallmarks of foreign policy, the Nehruvian order lost sight of the neighbourhood. India shifted its gaze from consolidating its pre-eminence in the region to establishing connect with countries outside its sphere of interest. Geography was sacrificed for an abstruse ideology. India celebrated Nasser, Nyerere and Makarios but closed down its consulates in Lhasa and Kashgar. The Gulf sheikhdoms that were tied to the Indian economy, even by a common currency, were abandoned to other powers. By the time the Nehruvian distortions were addressed, first by Rajiv Gandhi and then P V Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, insularity and passivity had affected the national psyche.
It is in this context that the Prime Minister’s outreach to the peoples in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan assume importance. Narendra Modi hasn’t signalled India’s direct involvement in their battles, he has merely signalled the recovery of our natural frontiers. This outreach now needs to be complemented with institutional capacity building and, most important, the enlargement of our mental horizons. The reach of India must transcend its national borders, as it always ha

The Olympics- a Waste Time & Money

The spectacle of Olympics is over but was the event justified. The juxtaposition of Rio’s squalor with the opulence of the games was sickening, so was the blatant display of pseudo-nationalism. The question is : Are these games relevant? To the curmudgeons, the few wonderful human moments don’t justify the spectacle. In the original Greek Olympics, rewarding those good at throwing rocks and spears provided an economic return in better defence from enemies. But now the Olympics Games are about grown men on toy bikes.
It has been a trying few weeks for those of us who are less than enamoured of the Olympic Games. While the Games are on, we generally try to show restraint. But now the main part of the cheering is over, it may be time to reach out to that silent minority who, for economic and many other reasons, quietly rolled their eyes as it seems nearly everyone else in the world went gaga over the Games.
Although we tend to keep a low profile, I know I am not alone. For example, one online reader used colourful language to object to a medal winner being declared a “Canadian hero.” “The inaccuracy in this story,” said the reader, “is that I, like many others, could not give a rat’s ass about either her or the Olympics.”
For me, I suppose, that overstates the case. The Games capture wonderful human moments, such as the occasion when one ingenuous young competitor kept checking her time, as if hardly believing she had won. But to the Olympic curmudgeons, those moments are few and far between.
Partly, the objection to the Games is a reaction. To the nationalist flag waving. To the chirpy enthusiasm of the wall-to-wall coverage. And this year, especially, to the contrast between the glamour, the limousines, the over-the-top spending and the rest of Rio de Janeiro, where families sort through garbage as their daily source of food.
The original Greek Olympics had a rationale: in a warrior society, throwing the meanest rock or spear was a matter of national survival against the Persians. Now we have athletes coasting down what looks like a fairground magic carpet ride on toy bicycles.
Part of the justification for the modern Games is that they inspire the young toward a healthy, active lifestyle. Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, Toronto-based author of Inside the Olympic Industry, is skeptical. “The sport part is just the tip of the iceberg,” Lenskyj tells me in a phone interview. “And the rest of the iceberg is the commercial side. The exploitation side. The negative social impacts on cities and vulnerable people in those cities. The enormous expense that is borne by taxpayers.”
Lenskyj, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, started out in sports sociology, but after years of research now calls herself a professional Olympic critic. She describes the IOC as “venal.” “Despite the persuasive rhetoric, most aspects of the Olympics are organized to maximize power and profit rather than to promote the welfare of individuals and groups in sport as a healthy and fulfilling human activity,” Lenskyj wrote in one of her searing critiques of the games.
It’s not that no one profits from the Games. It’s just that the profit is concentrated through an unhealthy reward system known in economics as “winner takes all.” That applies to the industry and the athletes. A few gold-medal stars make millions from advertising endorsements. But of those who worked every bit as hard, gave up their youths to practise, and were just a few seconds or minutes slower, the vast majority, like failed ballet stars and minor league hockey players, get little financial reward.
As a spectacle, what divers and gymnasts and even riders of toy bicycles do is a wonder — almost freakish. So is the Cirque du Soleil, but there the performers get paid a good salary. The lighting and music are better. Crowe, who describes herself as a “street nurse” was a member of the group Bread Not Circuses that intervened when Toronto was bidding for the Games, demanding that if the Olympics came to town, a significant part of the money should end up helping, not hurting, the city’s poor.
The group was named after the term “bread and circuses” the critique of ancient Rome when the rulers kept citizens politically passive by feeding them and putting on gladiatorial shows. “I’m watching the Olympics every day and I’m really enjoying it,” Crowe told me last week. “But I’m also feeling like the coverage of Rio and Brazil is not showing the real story.” Crowe, who advocates for the poor and homeless, is offended by the opulence of the Games as poor people are swept aside. “It’s almost a rude, disgusting slap in the face to low-income people there,” says Crowe.
On the bright side, the Olympic Games divert us from Donald Trump, the bombing in Syria, sabre-rattling in Crimea, hunger and the perilous state of the world economy. Of course, going right back to Roman times, that is what circuses have always been for.

Trump Averse Syndrome

I’m pretty sure I know who you #NeverTrump people are. You are people of some faith, most likely. You are trying to make a living, and you are annoyed that a growing class of people don’t even care about making a living–and you make those coasting privileges possible.
You couldn’t believe the America you love actually elected Barack Obama–twice. Some of you brought the free, cold, bottled water to tea party rallies. Some of you went to the airport and drove Andrew Breitbart to the speaking event your friend organized. Some of you won congress back for the Republicans and you watched, in despair, as Boehner and McConnell failed to put up any sort of meaningful fight. You threw up your hands and you voted for McCain and Romney, knowing they were beltway players, but deciding that you had to buy some time. You had to prevent Barack from doing even more damage to the republic you love.
Donald TrumpYou are a civil person. You appreciate order and gentleness and inclusiveness. You detest the rank, insulting diatribes of the diva misfits on The View. The progressives think you’re a bigot, but you know you are actually one of those people who listens to different perspectives, who tries to render a conversation reasonable and productive. You’re the Christian College provost who actually gives Bernie Sanders a platform, even though you disagree with him passionately. You aren’t in the crowd that denies Ben Shapiro a place to speak. Those are the other people.
And then along comes this reality star hotel developer, this philistine, this jovial narcissist, who is on his third wife, who appeared on the cover of Playboy, who appears to wing it at press conferences, who tells reporters, figuratively, to screw themselves, who ignores his consultants, who fights like a mad dog. He calls a bimbo, when he sees one, a “bimbo.” There is no restraint, no finesse, no bashful, Bush family humility about their gentleman’s “C” incompetence. This guy Donald just says what he thinks, right up to wondering, out loud, if a La Raza Judge of Mexican descent just might be prejudiced against Donald on the border issue. This guy wonders, out loud, if we ought to take a look at Muslim immigration. This guy says China ought to be stuck, hard, for intellectual theft and thug trade deals.
Oh, okay, there’s some conservative stuff in there. He believes in the 2nd Amendment. He picked the most pro-life running mate since Roe V. Wade. He proposed the largest tax cut of anyone on the stage, this election cycle. But you know better. This guy doesn’t mean it. His convictions are as superficial as his Christianity. He’s going to leave you at the altar. You know his type. You’ve seen that big, brash, bully kind before. You saw it on the playground, when you were a kid, when Derk Dixon made you run around the punch ball court, riding a broom, because you lost the bet. You saw it in your dad, who left your mother when you were 14. This guy is totally male. TOTALLY MALE. He doesn’t apologize for being a man, and he is nowhere near being a gentleman like Marco Rubio or Ben Carson or Ted Cruz.
Lord, you pray, why do you make people like this successful? Will you explain that to me someday? Am I going to get an explanation SOMEDAY for Donald Trump, Matt Damon, Kim Kardashian, and all the other misfits you put on the stage and gave power and wealth and influence?
I know. It’s very, very personal for you. You hate the guy. You hate the confidence, the swagger, the utter lack of civility. This is not your party. You are the party of reasonable discourse, honorable compromise, and well-trimmed lawns.
And I know, you hate Hillary too. You know she’s evil. You cringe when someone calls you a closet Hillary supporter, because that just isn’t fair. She’s evil personified. She’s a liar, a corrupt sociopath of the worst sort.
But you just can’t bring yourself to vote for Donald. You have to answer to God someday. You have to honor your principles and your conscience, and you just don’t believe Donald is actually defending your attachment to Constitutional judges, life, and liberty.
You’re something like a defendant, in court, represented by a flawed barrister. Your attorney is fighting for you, but he is way too confident, too direct, too brutally honest. You sneer at your own advocate. The jury looks at you, wondering why you don’t believe in him, even though he’s declaring you innocent. You know you’ll lose this way, that you’ll go to prison for it, but you anticipate your glow of self-pity in your cell — and how warming that will be. You prefer a polite warrior, over one who wins battles.

The Future of Public Companies in Canada

The grinding decline of the public company in Canada is the quietest crisis facing the economy today.
It’s a safe bet most Canadians have never heard of MCAP Corp., but the suits on Bay Street were watching it closely last month as the mortgage lender readied itself to go public on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The plan was for the Toronto-based firm to raise $275 million in an initial public offering, which would have made it the biggest IPO this country has seen since part of Ontario’s Hydro One electric utility was spun off last November. Actually, it would have been the first new Canadian company to list its shares on the TSX this year.
The first. In all of 2016.
Well, that was the idea at least. With Britain’s decision to exit the European Union roiling markets, MCAP pulled the plug on its plans to go public and breath life into Canada’s IPO market.
Now consider this: so far this year Canada’s main stock exchange has attracted close to 50 IPOs. How can that be?
Simple, the majority of listings hitting the TSX these days are not companies in the way most people think of them, which is as businesses that innovate ideas, produce goods or services and employ workers. Instead, as the number of actual operating companies declines, whether by going private, being acquired or through outright failure, the TSX is steadily being overrun by products cooked up by Bay Street financial engineers—things like exchange-traded funds (ETFs), closed-end funds and special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). Or as you might think of them, frankenstocks.
The popularity of ETFs is hardly new. Like mutual funds, ETFs are baskets of other investments—they can hold stocks, bonds or commodities—but which themselves trade on exchanges. Because they have considerably lower management fees than mutual funds, they’ve proven wildly popular with investors.
But dive into the statistics from the TMX Market Intelligence Group, the data arm of the company that operates the TSX, and the imbalance between real companies and frankenstocks becomes striking. While problems like over-indebted households, stagnating job growth and the ongoing oil rout grab most of the headlines, the grinding decline of the public company in Canada is the quietest crisis facing the economy today.
First, some numbers and charts to illustrate what’s going on. The year 2015 was seen as a relatively strong one for the IPO market, yet it was underwhelming. Of the 100-plus IPOs in 2015 only 13 were operating businesses, like Hydro One, Shopify, SpinMaster, Cara Operations and Sleep Country Canada. (Actually, those last two companies already had one kick at the stock market before they were taken private, and then re-listed again, so they hardly count as new.) As for the rest, roughly 60 were ETFs, with the balance made up of closed-end funds—another alternative to traditional mutual funds—and a handful of SPACs, or publicly traded shell companies.
Frankenstocks have accounted for a large share of IPOs for several years now. But IPOs aren’t the only way companies join the exchange. As junior companies on the TSX Venture Exchange grow larger they typically graduate to the main exchange. Listed companies might split into two or more separately traded stocks. In other cases, foreign companies also cross-list their shares on the TSX. But that’s all happening less and less, it seems, meaning we’re almost at the point where Canadian investors have nothing new to choose from in the domestic market other than frankenstocks.
At the same time, the number of operating companies listed on the exchange is shrinking. For instance, amid the ongoing commodity collapse, 116 mining companies and 25 oil and gas companies have delisted from the TSX since 2013. As an example, in March, Canadian Oil Sands was removed from the TSX after being acquired by Suncor. It’s not just resource companies, though. Rona, the hardware chain, was acquired by Lowe’s while BCE Inc.’s takeover of Manitoba Telecom is proceeding. There are 30 fewer non-resource companies on the TSX than there were at this time three years ago, a 5.3 per cent drop.
This erosion of real publicly traded companies has meant frankenstocks have come to account for nearly 40 per cent of all listings on the TSX, up from 21.5 per cent in 2008. (This chart reflects listings as of December each year. If the first quarter of 2016 were factored in, frankenstocks’ share of TSX listings would climb above 42 per cent). Were it not for the explosion in engineered investment products over the last decade, particularly during the last five years, Canada’s main stock exchange would be considerably smaller. In case you’re wondering, Canada’s oldest surviving stock is BCE Inc., which went public in 1905. The second-oldest, surprisingly, is a penny stock gold miner based in Timmins, Ont., called Moneta Porcupine Mines, dating back to 1911.
The terrible market for real-company IPOs so far in 2016 suggests the situation is only getting worse. That worries financial academics like Ari Pandes, who has studied the demise of Canada’s IPO market, and what the country has lost in the process. “The impact, from an economic standpoint, is very consequential—having a healthy vibrant IPO market leads to innovation, it leads to employment, there are all kinds of spinoffs from it,” says Pandes, an assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business. “You need company formation and companies going public, and not just these ETFs, because they don’t generate innovation, employment or tax revenues.”
The disappearing public company should also be a real concern for the retail investing public, meaning regular individuals saving for their retirements, because it erodes the opportunities and choices available to them. It’s one reason pension funds have been directing more of their investment dollars outside of Canadian equities—for instance, a decade ago Canadian stocks accounted for close to 30% of Canada Pension Plan assets, but now make up just 5.4% of the fund. Yet Canadian investors continue to focus most of their attention on domestic stocks. A recent study by Vanguard, an investment management company, found Canadians are particularly over-exosed to our shrinking stock market—Canada’s equity market makes up just 3.4 per cent of global equities, it noted, yet investors here hold close to 60 per cent of their portfolios in Canadian stocks.
It should be said that the problem isn’t necessarily that ETFs are booming, it’s that real companies aren’t. Proponents of ETFs insist they help the market by providing liquidity and access to a wider range of investment options. On the other hand, some worry how ETFs will fare if put to the test in another financial crisis, given how much more prevalent they are today. As for the TMX Group, which operates the TSX, it’s aiming to attract more ETFs to list on the exchange, to give more choices to investors and, of course, to generate listing and other fees for TMX Group. “We’ve seen an increase, relatively speaking, in the ETF world, and we’re working hard for that to continue,” says Ungad Chadda, senior vice-president of the Toronto Stock Exchange. “We see them as 100 per cent positive for supporting the underlying liquidity and innovation of companies on our market. They’re really another way to invest in single stocks.”
While the number of ETFs on the TSX is soaring, their market value remains relatively small. Indeed, as of June ETFs were roughly $125 billion out of a total TSX market capitalization of $2.5 trillion, though with so many ETFs rushing to market, the total value of frankenstocks over the last five years has risen twice as fast as the rest of the market. Even so, he dismisses any suggestion that the rise of ETFs is related to the decline in new public companies. IPOs have been slow for the past year or so,” he says, “but we do not see any causation between the two.
The vanishing corporate IPO is not just a recent trend, however. Nor is it a phenomenon unique to Canada. Since the early 2000s the number and value of operating company IPOs in the U.S. has also been in retreat. There have been a lot of theories offered for why America’s system for minting new companies is failing—some claim regulations imposed in the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals have deterred companies from going public, or that the explosion in class-action lawsuits is scaring away entrepreneurs.
Yet in a 2013 paper Pandes and his colleagues conducted the first apples-to-apples comparison of IPOs in Canada and the U.S. and found markets in both countries had declined at a comparable pace even though the common explanations for the weak U.S. market didn’t apply to Canada—for instance, Canada did not impose anything close to the regulatory burden that came with the Sarbanes-Oxley reforms in the U.S., and Canadian companies don’t have to endure America’s hyper-litigious climate. “The Canadian IPO market has been declining quietly for the past decade,” the study read. It found that between 1993 and 2000 the average number of corporate IPOs on the TSX was 42.6 per cent, only to fall by more than half to 18.2 a year between 2001 and 2011, despite the commodity boom and markets awash in cheap debt and liquidity.
The question then is: why is this happening? For his part, Pandes believes companies are “fatigued” with public markets. “There’s a lot of stress and pressure with running a public company,” he says. “So you’re seeing a lot of CEOs, management teams and insiders having to deal with being public rather than running the company itself.” By that he means contending with the 24-hour business news cycle, armies of analysts and activist short-term shareholders. “All of these people are on you if you don’t produce a result within a quarter, whereas before you might have had people who were more long-term oriented,” he says. “This short-term chase really makes it more onerous on management teams.”
Not surprisingly, Chadda at the TSX disagrees with the suggestion that companies find public markets inhospitable. Instead he argues that the decline in corporate IPOs can be traced to two things. The collapse in commodity prices is one. The second is that the private equity and venture capital worlds have been so flush with cash in the wake of the financial crisis, they’ve been able to fund private companies at excessively high valuations, which have risen with each new funding round. That, he believes, is changing as private investors grow more cautious. “Our view is still the public market multiple is the best value-creation machine that mankind has ever seen,” he says.
The reality is, there’s no easy fix. In 2012 the Obama administration introduced the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS), a measure that aimed to encourage more companies to go public. For instance, it reduced the disclosure and reporting requirements for emerging growth companies seeking IPOs. Yet there is little evidence that show more IPOs have occurred since the JOBS Act than would have gone ahead anyway. The TSX has launched its own effort to revitalize the TSX Venture exchange, which will reduce the cost and burden of going public for smaller companies. Maybe it will fare better.
In the meantime, Canadian investors will have to keep waiting for that first real company IPO of 2016. It’s bound to happen, eventually.

Bread & butter bond beyond any fad

As a light snack nothing could be simpler or more satisfying than a slice of bread and butter, a combination that has been the staple of my diet for the better part of my 80-plus years on planet Earth. And now I am told by the dietary specialists and fitness faddists that bread and butter are bad for me; bread, because of some chemical that goes into its making or baking, and butter because it is nothing but saturated fat or transfat or transgender fat or something along those lines which only leads to more fat around the waistline.
“You have a fatty heart,” I was told by a specialist some 50 years ago, when I was living in New Delhi. Well, I still have my fatty heart, although I no longer live in New Delhi, and my waistline is as undulating as the hills upon which I now dwell.
“Stop eating bread and butter,” says my dietary adviser. “It will shorten your life.”
“Should I switch to parathas?” I ask. I rather like the thought of stuffed paranthas for breakfast.
“That’s even worse!” she screams at me. “Next thing, you’ll be wanting pure ghee to go with them.”
“So what do I have for breakfast? No flour, no butter, no flour, no ghee.”
“You can have dhalia.”
“What’s that?” I ask. “I thought the dahlia was a flower.”
“Dhalia is a form of oats. They call it porridge in England. Scottish people eat it.”
“But Scotland wants to separate from the UK, so perhaps they’ll give up porridge.”
Actually, I remembered dhalia from my boarding school days in Shimla, when we used to confront it at breakfast time. It was rather insipid stuff, I recall, and most of us would make it palatable by adding jam or sweetened condensed milk. These things came in tins in those days, and the jams were all made by a company called JB Mangharam. I wonder what happened to JB Mangharam’s many fine condiments. They disappeared by the late 1950s.
Anyway, the other day I found a bowl of dhalia placed before me at breakfast time. As expected, it tasted like sand (organic of course) dug up from the beach. So I reached for the sugar bowl.
“No sugar,” said my dietary adviser. “That’s white poison.”
So I reached for the jam pot.
“No jam!” she screamed. “That’s fifty percent sugar!”
So I reached for the salt-cellar.
“No salt, no salt! Your blood pressure will shoot up!”
“Maybe I could have some mango pickle, just to give it a little flavour?”
“Pickle is full of salt!”
I grew rebellious and refused to eat the dhalia. “You can give me a plain chappati,” I said, sulking.
My dietary adviser very generously allowed me a plain chappati. When my adviser wasn’t looking, I helped myself to a little butter. It looked lovely, spread on that lovely chappati. The front-door bell rang, and my adviser went to see who was ringing.
Quickly, I attacked the pickle bottle, extracted a couple of green chillies, tucked them into my buttered chappati and hurriedly consumed the lot. It made a great chilli-rissole.
Unfortunately I’d swallowed one chilli too many, and as a result I was hiccupping for most of the day. Pip-pip-pip! On at least two occasions my dietary adviser mistook my hiccups for the signal on her cellphone. This only sharpened her dietary zeal, and for lunch I was given pea soup and what may have been granulated sunflower seeds. Organic of course.
She left in the afternoon to give a lecture on healthy eating in one of our premier schools, and I made a beeline for the kitchen and helped myself to bread and butter and strawberry jam, and washed it all down with tea made with condensed milk. At least it stopped the hiccups.
Even when I was a kid, my grandmother did not allow me to enter the kitchen. She maintained that pickle and chutneys heated the blood, and mince-pies were bad for the brain. As a result I would sneak across to our neighbour, a dear old lady who fed me meringues and lemon tarts; and I like to think that the things I have really enjoyed have helped to sustain me into a reasonably contented old age.

Sunday Special: The World Altering Revolutionary Mathematical Equations

I am impressed and overbowed by equations, but they have always escaped my comprehension, but then there comes a savant who opens my eyes to a new reality and opens a new vista to my understanding. I realise how relevant and revolutionary have been some equations. In 2012, Mathematician Ian Stewart came out with an excellent and deeply researched book ” In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations that Changed the World”. His book takes a look at the most pivotal equations of all time, and puts them in a human, rather than technical context.
Equations definitely can be dull, and they can seem complicated, but that’s because they are often presented in a dull and complicated way. He explained that anyone can “appreciate the beauty and importance of equations without knowing how to solve them … The intention is to locate them in their cultural and human context, and pull back the veil on their hidden effects on history.”
These equations are a vital part of our culture. The stories behind them — the people who discovered or invented them and the periods in which they lived — are fascinating.
Here are 17 equations that have changed the world – their meaning, history,  importance,and modern Use.
The Pythagorean Theorem
What does it mean? The square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of its legs.
History: Though attributed to Pythagoras, it is not certain that he was the first person to prove it. The first clear proof came from Euclid, and it is possible the concept was known 1,000 years before Pythoragas by the Babylonians.
Importance: The equation is at the core of much of geometry, links it with algebra, and is the foundation of trigonometry. Without it, accurate surveying, mapmaking, and navigation would be impossible.
In terms of pure math, the Pythagorean Theorem defines normal, Euclidean plane geometry. For example, a right triangle drawn on the surface of a sphere like the Earth doesn’t necessarily satisfy the theorem.
Modern use: Triangulation is used to this day to pinpoint relative location for GPS navigation.
The logarithm and its identities
What does it mean? You can multiply numbers by adding related numbers.
History: The initial concept was discovered by the Scottish Laird John Napier of Merchiston in an effort to make the multiplication of large numbers, then incredibly tedious and time consuming, easier and faster. It was later refined by Henry Briggs to make reference tables easier to calculate and more useful.
Importance: Logarithms were revolutionary, making calculation faster and more accurate for engineers and astronomers. That’s less important with the advent of computers, but they’re still an essential to scientists.
Modern use: Logarithms, and the related exponential functions, are used to model everything from compound interest to biological growth to radioactive decay.
Calculus
What does it mean? Allows the calculation of an instantaneous rate of change.
History: Calculus as we currently know it was described around the same time in the late 17th century by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. There was a lengthy debate over plagiarism and priority which may never be resolved. We use the leaps of logic and parts of the notation of both men today.
Importance: According to Stewart, “More than any other mathematical technique, it has created the modern world.” Calculus is essential in our understanding of how to measure solids, curves, and areas. It is the foundation of many natural laws, and the source of differential equations.
Modern use: Any mathematical problem where an optimal solution is required. Essential to medicine, economics, physics, engineering, and computer science.
Newton’s universal law of gravitation
What does it mean? Calculates the force of gravity between two objects.
History: Isaac Newton derived his laws based on earlier astronomical and mathematical work by Johannes Kepler. He also used, and possibly plagiarized the work of Robert Hooke.
Importance: Used techniques of calculus to describe how the world works. Even though it was later supplanted by Einstein’s theory of relativity, it is still essential for a practical description of how objects in space, like stars, planets, and human-made spacecraft, interact with each other. We use it to this day to design orbits for satellites and probes.
Philosophically, Newton’s law is important because it describes how gravity works everywhere, from a ball falling to the ground on Earth to the evolution of galaxies and the universe as a whole. While we take the idea of universal laws for granted today, in earlier eras the idea that the terrestrial and celestial worlds shared the same properties was revolutionary.
Modern use: Although, as mentioned above, for practical uses Newton’s law has been augmented by Einstein’s theories, the basic idea of Newtonian gravity is still a useful approximation for how things behave in space.
Complex numbers
What does it mean? Mathematicians can expand our idea of what numbers are by introducing the square roots of negative numbers.
History: Imaginary numbers were originally posited by famed gambler/mathematician Girolamo Cardano, then expanded by Rafael Bombelli and John Wallis. They still existed as a peculiar, but essential problem in math until William Hamilton described this definition.
The imaginary and complex numbers are mathematically very elegant. Algebra works perfectly the way we want it to — any equation has a complex number solution, a situation that is not true for the real numbers : x2 + 4 = 0 has no real number solution, but it does have a complex solution: the square root of -4, or 2i. Calculus can be extended to the complex numbers, and by doing so, we find some amazing symmetries and properties of these numbers.
Importance: According to Stewart “…. most modern technology, from electric lighting to digital cameras could not have been invented without them.” The extension of calculus to the complex numbers, a branch of math called “complex analysis,” is essential to understanding electrical systems and a variety of modern data processing algorithms.
Modern use: Used broadly in electrical engineering and mathematical theory.
Euler’s formula for polyhedra
What does it mean? Describes a numerical relationship that is true of all solid shapes of a particular type.
History: This was developed by the great 18th century mathematician Leonhard Euler. Polyhedra are the three-dimensional versions of polygons, like the cube to the right. The corners of a polyhedron are called its vertices, the lines connecting the vertices are its edges, and the polygons covering it are its faces.
A cube has 8 vertices, 12 edges, and 6 faces. If I add the vertices and faces together, and subtract the edges, I get 8 + 6 – 12 = 2.
Euler’s formula states that, as long as your polyhedron is somewhat well behaved, if you add the vertices and faces together, and subtract the edges, you will always get 2. This will be true whether your polyhedron has 4, 8, 12, 20, or any number of faces.
Importance: Fundamental to the development of topology, which extends geometry to any continuous surface.
Modern use: Topology is used to understand the behavior and function of DNA, and it is an underlying part of the mathematical tool kit used to understand networks like social media and the internet.
The normal distribution
What does it mean? Defines the standard normal distribution, a bell shaped curve in which the probability of observing a point is greatest near the average, and declines rapidly as one moves away.
History: The initial work was by Blaise Pascal, but the distribution came into its own with Bernoulli. The bell curve as we currently comes from Belgian mathematician Adolphe Quetelet.
Importance: The equation is the foundation of modern statistics. Science and social science would not exist in their current form without it. Statistical experiment design relies on the properties of the normal curve, and how those properties relate to errors that can occur when taking a random sample.
Modern use: Used to determine whether drugs are sufficiently effective in clinical trials.
The wave equation
What does it mean? A differential equation that describes the behavior of waves, like the behavior of a vibrating violin string.
History: The mathematicians Daniel Bournoulli and Jean D’Alembert were the first to describe this relationship in the 18th century, albeit in slightly different ways.
Importance: The behavior of waves generalizes to the way sound works, how earthquakes happen, and the behavior of the ocean.
The techniques developed to solve the wave equation have been very useful in solving similar types of equations as well.
Modern use: Oil companies set off explosives, then read data from the ensuing sound waves to predict geological formations.
The Fourier transform
What does it mean? Describes patterns in time as a function of frequency.
History: Joseph Fourier discovered the equation, which extended from his famous solution to a differential equation describing how heat flows, and the previously described wave equation.
Importance: The equation allows for complex wave patterns, like music, speech, or images, to be broken up, cleaned up, and analyzed. This is essential in many types of signal analysis.
Modern use: Used to compress information for the JPEG image format and discover the structure of molecules.
The Navier-Stokes equations
What does it mean? The Navier-Stokes equations are the fundamental physical equation that describes how fluids work. The left side is the acceleration of a small amount of fluid, the right indicates the forces that act upon it.
History: Leonhard Euler made the first attempt at modeling fluid movement. French engineer Claude-Louis Navier and Irish mathematician George Stokes made the leap to the model still used today.
Importance: Once computers became powerful enough to approximately solve this equation, it opened up a complex and very useful field of physics. It is particularly useful in making vehicles more aerodynamic.
While we can use modern computers to make practical approximate simulations of fluid dynamics that are useful in engineering, finding a mathematically exact solution (or even knowing whether or not an exact solution exists in all cases) is still an open question, one whose answer is attached to a million dollar prize.
Modern use: Among other things, allowed for the development of modern passenger jets.
Maxwell’s equations
What does it mean? Maps out the relationship between electric and magnetic fields.
History: Michael Faraday did pioneering work on the connection between electricity and magnetism, and James Clerk Maxwell translated it into these equations. Maxwell’s equations were for classical electromagnetism what Newton’s laws of motion were for classical mechanics.
Importance: Helped understand electromagnetic waves, helping to create most modern electrical and electronic technology.
Modern use: Radar, television, and modern communications.
Second law of thermodynamics
What does it mean? Energy and heat dissipate over time.
History: Sadi Carnot first posited that nature does not have reversible processes. Mathematician Ludwig Boltzmann extended the law, and William Thomson formally stated it.
Importance: Essential to our understanding of energy and the universe via the concept of entropy.Thermodynamic entropy is, roughly speaking, a measure of how disordered a system is. A system that starts out in an ordered, uneven state — say, a hot region next to a cold region — will always tend to even out, with heat flowing from the hot area to the cold area until evenly distributed.
Modern use: Thermodynamics underlies much of our understanding of chemistry and is essential in building any kind of power plant or engine.
Einstein’s theory of relativity
What does it mean? Energy and matter are two sides of the same coin.
History: The genesis of Einstein’s equation was an experiment by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley that proved light did not move in a Newtonian manner in comparison to changing frames of reference. Einstein followed up on this insight with his famous papers on special relativity (1905) and general relativity (1915).
Special relativity brought in ideas like the speed of light being a universal speed limit and the passage of time being different for people moving at different speeds.
General relativity describes gravity as a curving and folding of space and time themselves, and was the first major change to our understanding of gravity since Newton’s law. General relativity is essential to our understanding of the origins, structure, and ultimate fate of the universe.
Importance: Probably the most famous equation in history. Completely changed our view of matter and reality.
Modern use: Helped lead to nuclear weapons, and if GPS didn’t account for it, your directions would be off thousands of yards.
The Schrodinger equation
What does it mean? This is the main equation in quantum physics. Models matter as a wave, rather than a particle.
History: Louis-Victor de Broglie pinpointed the dual nature of matter in 1924. The equation you see was derived by Erwin Schrodinger in 1927, building off of the work of physicists like Werner Heisenberg. It describes the way subatomic particles and atoms evolve over time.
Importance: Revolutionized the view of physics at small scales. The insight that particles at that level exist at a range of probable states was revolutionary.
Modern quantum mechanics and general relativity are the two most successful scientific theories in history — all of the experimental observations we have made to date are entirely consistent with their predictions.
Modern use: Quantum mechanics is necessary for most modern technology — nuclear power, semiconductor-based computers, and lasers are all built around quantum phenomena.
Shannon’s information theory
What does it mean? Estimates the amount of data in a piece of code by the probabilities of its component symbols.
History: Developed by Bell Labs engineer Claude Shannon in the years after World War 2.
Importance: The equation given here is for Shannon Information entrophy. As with the thermodynamic entropy given above, this is a measure of disorder. In this case, it measures the information content of a message — a book, a JPEG picture sent on the internet, or anything that can be represented symbolically. The Shannon entropy of a message represents a lower bound on how much that message can be compressed without losing some of its content.
Modern use: Shannon’s entropy measure launched the mathematical study of information, and his results are central to how we communicate over networks today.
The logistic model for population growth
What does it mean? Estimates the change in a population of creatures across generations with limited resources. Importantly, this equation can lead to chaotic behavior.
History: Robert May was the first to point out that this model of population growth could produce chaos in 1975. Important work by mathematicians Vladimir Arnold and Stephen Smale helped with the realization that chaos is a consequence of differential equations.
For certain values of k, the map shows chaotic behavior: if we start at some particular initial value of x, the process will evolve one way, but if we start at another initial value, even one very very close to the first value, the process will evolve a completely different way.
Importance: Helped in the development of chaos theory, which has completely changed our understanding of the way that natural systems work.
We see chaotic behavior — behavior sensitive to initial conditions — like this in many areas. Weather is a classic example — a small change in atmospheric conditions on one day can lead to completely different weather systems a few days later, most commonly captured in the idea of a butterfly flapping its wings in one continent causing a hurricane in another.
Modern use: Used to model earthquakes and forecast the weather.
The Black–Scholes model
What does it mean? Prices a derivative based on the assumption that it is riskless and that there is no arbitrage opportunity when it is priced correctly.
History: Developed by Fischer Black and Myron Scholes, then expanded by Robert Merton. The latter two won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Economics for the discovery.
Importance: Helped create the now multi-trillion dollar derivatives market. It is argued that improper use of the formula (and its descendants) contributed to the financial crisis. In particular, the equation maintains several assumptions that do not hold true in real financial markets.
Modern use: Variants are still used to price most derivatives, even after the financial crisis.

Cold War Relic

Pakistan’s foreign policy, founded on hostility towards India, has isolated it globally. As Pakistan becomes increasingly isolated, regionally and globally, its foreign policy is under attack at home. “We find ourselves without friends,” the critics say, “and it is the result of the government’s foreign policy”. The government is being subjected to questioning even as posters on roads obliquely ask the army chief General Raheel Sharif to take over and set things right.
This is funny because Pakistan’s foreign policy hasn’t changed in decades. It is subordinated to the military strategy of fighting an India that is “not reconciled to the existence of Pakistan”. It worked in the 1950s when Pakistan joined the anti-communist alliances. It fought the 1965 war with India and used the American weapons that were actually meant to be deployed against communism. An American arms embargo followed, arousing the self-righteous rancour of Pakistani strategists.
The India-centric foreign policy started working again after 1979, when the Soviets attacked Afghanistan. But its effectiveness is petering out now. Pakistan’s partners never thought of India as an enemy but had requirements which only Pakistan could fulfill. America started normalising its relations with India after the Soviet bloc’s strength was broken; Saudi Arabia wants Pakistan to fight wars other than the ones against India.
Last month, the Jinnah Institute — Islamabad’s strategic think-tank, led by a high-ranking member of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, Sherry Rehman — held a discussion titled, “Flawed Pakistan Foreign Policy”. Opening the discussion, Rehman stated, “The current state of affairs…forces Pakistan’s foreign policy to operate on the misguided assumption that other countries will act rationally, or even morally. That the powerful military has taken the opportunity to fill the leadership vacuum created by the foreign policy crisis does not inspire confidence, given the country’s experience with democracy”.
The military strategy of getting on board allies who have different targets has become outdated. Lack of congruence with their goals bred hatred against the very allies who had helped Pakistan with money and arms. After the Soviets quit Afghanistan, and al Qaeda carried out the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan felt it was being asked to abandon its strategy of finding “equalisers” against India, such as the jihadis, because they killed Americans.
One expected that the other discussants in the Jinnah Institute debate would challenge the government further, but that didn’t happen. Najmuddin Shaikh, a former foreign secretary, took the discussion into an area where no one could blame either this government, or the one before it, for not trying. “Pakistan needs to recognise and exploit its geo-economic location as a bridge between South Asia and Central Asia and South Asia and West Asia. It should develop amicable relations with its neighbours in order to realise the economic advantages of its location,” Shaikh said. Indirectly accusing the military strategies, he added, “Implementing national pledges to prevent the use of Pakistani territory for hostile activities against its neighbours will resolve many problems that have strained relations within, and outside, the region.”
Ejaz Haider, editor of national security affairs at Capital TV, who writes on military strategy, was even more direct in his criticism. “The security calculus heavily influences foreign policy. That calculus… makes exercising non-military options difficult. This does not mean that security is not a dominant issue… but the problem relates to security strategies that narrow down foreign policy options. Two examples of this are bilateral trade with India and providing access to Afghanistan for the Indian market.”
Journalist Zahid Hussain, senior fellow at the Jinnah Institute, put the matter more bluntly. He said, “Like other matters of state, foreign policy management too suffers from multiple power centres running the show.The absence of any policy direction from the civilian leadership has allowed the military to expand its role in foreign policy matters..the military’s tunnel-vision has added to Pakistan’s regional alienation.”
On July 29, an all-parties (religious) conference called by Jamaat-e-Islami declared, “We assure the people of Kashmir that the people of Pakistan are with them in their freedom struggle. Therefore, our relations with the world community should be based on their support or opposition to the Kashmir cause”. That was actually an enunciation of strategic foundation of Pakistan’s foreign policy. On August 4, at the SAARC home ministers’ conference in Islamabad, three important states — India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan — accused Pakistan of “interference”.

Modi’s Thrust on Balochistan & Azad Kashmir -A Game Changer​

Baloch nationalists have always wished to be treated as an entity separate from Pakistan. Prime Minister Modi’s statements have granted us that recognition.
I hardly know a Baloch who is not excited about and appreciative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent statement on Balochistan. Many of them look at this as a breakthrough as Baloch political activists have been struggling for years and making direct appeals to the government of India to condemn Pakistan’s atrocities against the Baloch.
Modi’s statements are a gamechanger, not only in the context of India-Pakistan relations, but they will also internally divide Pakistani society. It is not as if the Baloch, who have thanked Modi for his statements, do not realise the consequences of India’s possible support for them.What’s up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies towards Pakistan and China? The initial hopes for a significant transformation in India’s two most difficult relationships, under Modi, have soured badly. Two years ago, Modi reached out to Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif and China’s Xi Jinping. He had invited Sharif to the inauguration of his administration in May 2014. And, in an effort to regenerate momentum in the bilateral relationship, when it had stalled over Kashmir and terrorism, Modi landed at Sharif’s residence near Lahore at short notice, last December. In September 2014, Modi walked with Xi on the banks of the Sabarmati and pushed hard against Delhi’s reluctant bureaucracy to promote economic relations with Beijing.
Yet, Pakistan seems unwilling to reciprocate the PM’s goodwill and China is reluctant to accommodate India’s core interests. If Modi took political risks to advance ties with Pakistan and China, two years ago, he may now be moving the other way to secure India’s interests. Modi’s call to expose Pakistan’s atrocities in Balochistan, his public arguments with China on India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and Delhi’s opposition to China’s economic corridor in Pakistan appear to be part of a shifting strategy towards Islamabad and Beijing. This change is rooted in the recognition that you can’t clap with one hand. Modi’s bet on a positive transformation of ties with Pakistan and China had inevitably run into the structural problems that beset India’s engagement with both the countries. These problems come together in Kashmir and Balochistan.There were three proper nouns Modi used and it is important to understand the context of each.
First, he spoke of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, a part of Kashmir in Pakistani control since 1947. Following the accession of the kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir in October 1947, it belongs to India. Indian maps show it as such. Since 1965, successive Indian governments have been willing to write off Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and convert the line dividing it and the Kashmir Valley (the Line of Control) into an international border – whether a hard border or, as has been suggested over the past 10-15 years, a soft border permitting trade and movement of peoples.
Second, Modi referred to Gilgit or, to be more correct, Gilgit-Baltistan, also known as the Northern Areas. Modi was both right and wrong in distinguishing Gilgit-Baltistan from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. He was right because this is ethnically and geographically not part of the Kashmir region. Given its strategic import and proximity to Central Asia, the Pakistan government has spun off Gilgit-Baltistan into a separate territory, distinct from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or the so-called Azad Kashmir.
Yet, Modi was also wrong. While not part of the cultural and social expanse of Kashmir and so not part of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir in that narrow reckoning, the Northern Areas were a part of Hari Singh’s kingdom and legally acceded to India in 1947. As such, Gilgit-Baltistan is a segment of Pakistan-occupied portions of the former kingdom (or the current Indian state) of Jammu and Kashmir.
Third, Balochistan is in a class by itself. In 1947, it existed as a frontier region comprising a clutch of kingdoms and some territory under the suzerainty of Oman, an Arab kingdom that was an ally of the British Raj. The biggest Baloch kingdom was the Khanate of Kalat. While it acceded to Pakistan, allegedly following promises by Mohammad Ali Jinnah that were never kept, Kalat had never quite been part of British India. Its position vis-à-vis the Raj was not very different from that of Nepal. As such, if Nepal is not part of India, there is logic to suggest that Kalat should not be part of Pakistan.
Certainly the former royal family of Kalat, members of which live in London, still fancy their claims. Another princely state was Las Bela, with its capital city, Bela, famous for not having had a European visitor between Alexander the Great and the British in the 19th century. Alexander visited Balochistan on his way home from India and is believed to have boarded a ship from the Makran Coast, near today’s Gwadar.
Gwadar itself was ruled by Oman and sold to the Pakistan government in 1958. The idea was to build a deep-water port as an alternative to Karachi. This is a dream the Chinese have finally fulfilled for the Pakistanis, but more of that later.
The transnational region of Baluchistan extends to Iran and Afghanistan. Sistan-Balochistan is perhaps Iran’s most forbidding province. India has a consulate there in the city of Zahedan and this consulate was very useful when India and Iran collaborated to help the Northern Alliance in the 1990s. At that stage, the Taliban, the Northern Alliance’s adversaries, were in control of Kabul and much of Afghanistan, and the Pakistanis and even the Americans were attempting to mainstream them.
The Zahedan consulate was the subject of a propaganda offensive by Pakistan’s generals and the Inter-Services Intelligence about 20 years ago, when they planted stories among then friendly (now unfriendly) American analysts as to how India was allegedly using Sistan-Balochistan as a base to destabilise Pakistani Balochistan. That was nonsense because India’s interest was actually in Afghanistan. In any case, Iran would not allow its territory to be used for games in the broader Balochistan area. Today, India’s interest in Iranian Balochistan lies in the Chabahar port.
Balochistan is divided between nations by the Goldsmith Line. This is yet another of those whimsical boundaries drawn by colonial officials, much like the Durand Line and the Radcliffe Line, and often not taking into account ethnic and socio-economic continuities. The Baloch are not Persians, not Pathans, not Punjabis and not Sindhis. They see themselves as distinct and have been a disaffected minority in all three countries. In Iran, the Baloch are a Sunni minority in a Shia country, adding sectarianism to ethnicity.
In the 1970s, Saddam Hussein and Iraq sent weapons to Iranian Baloch rebels. In later years, after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Baloch rebels built networks with American intelligence agencies, so it is believed. While Iranian and Pakistani Baloch tribal identities differ, there are plenty of powers lighting plenty of fires in those deserts. In the Hamid Karzai years, the Pakistanis accused Karzai’s Pasthuns of aiding the Baloch rebellion against Islamabad.
The Baloch frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan encompasses the Bolan Pass, perhaps even more evocative than the Khyber Pass. It was this “long route” that the Army of the Indus, the troops of the British Army and the East India Company, took to invade Afghanistan and begin the First Afghan War of 1839. Thus began two centuries of futile Western attempts to pacify Afghanistan.
While this potted history is fascinating, why is it of relevance here? There are two reasons. One, Balochistan is hardly a settled and peaceful region, fully integrated with Pakistan. Rawalpindi’s generals have been brutal with Baloch rebels. Highlighting this embarrassing and precarious underbelly of Pakistan would do India no harm. It was a political propaganda instrument waiting to be used.
Two, all great powers seem to be predestined to flirt in these parts – the British and the Americans, the Russians and now the Chinese. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor runs from Xinjiang in western China to Balochistan. It enters Pakistani-controlled areas in Gilgit-Baltistan and is creating infrastructure that appears to have decidedly military purposes in Pakistani-Occupied Kashmir. This is integrating Chinese and Pakistani frontiers to India’s detriment. It is a new type of “strategic depth”.
China’s entry into Balochistan and Gwadar gives it access to the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea to India’s west. It allows China a determined South Asian presence and challenges India’s maritime security as nothing has since the Europeans arrive 500 years ago. India cannot sit quiet. If nothing else, it has to make a noise. That is precisely what Narendra Modi is doing.
China, which occupies swathes of territory in Jammu and Kashmir that India claims, has ended its past neutrality in Delhi’s disputes with Islamabad over the province. The China-Pakistan Economic corridor runs through Gilgit Baltistan and connects with the sea in Balochistan. The prospect of a Chinese military base in Balochistan links India’s problems with Beijing in the Himalayas with the challenge of PLA’s rising maritime profile in the Indian Ocean. Throw in a fresh bout of turmoil in Srinagar into the mix, you have the explosive cocktail that is blowing up the traditional frameworks of India’s engagement with Pakistan and China.
India’s current China policy was set on course when the then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, visited Beijing in 1988 to normalise relations with China that were in deep chill since the 1962 border war. Since then, India has worked to stabilise the border, deepened economic cooperation, and enhanced support for Beijing in the global arena.
As China became more powerful, Delhi found Beijing’s empathy rather hard to get on issues of importance to India — limiting the trade deficit, support in getting membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group or putting Pakistan in the dock for sponsoring terrorism. Unlike his predecessors, Modi is not willing to buy the Chinese argument that these differences are “minor” and should not be allowed to come in the way of strengthening the “strategic partnership”. In the past, Indian leaders were unwilling to express differences with China in public and hesitant to question in private those policies of Beijing that hurt Delhi.
Modi, however, is not willing to pretend all is well with Beijing. While Delhi may have, in the recent past, signaled that it could live with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Modi is openly objecting to it. The PM also refuses to take Beijing’s “no” for an answer on NSG and on Pakistan-based terror.
With Pakistan too, Modi is trying to break out of the framework that emerged at the turn of the 1990s. Pakistan, emboldened by the impunity that its newly-acquired nuclear weapons gave it, launched a prolonged terror campaign in Kashmir and backed it with instruments for political intervention in the state. Under pressure, Delhi put Kashmir back on the negotiating table in the 1990s. During the mid-2000s, it negotiated, in good faith, a settlement on Kashmir. India also offered substantive economic cooperation. None of this seemed to bring a fundamental shift in Pakistan’s position. Delhi discovered that the initiative was always with Pakistan, which could ramp up terror whenever it wanted and pull back from carefully-negotiated agreements for cooperation when it chose. If all governments since the early 1990s believed that there was no option but to patiently engage Pakistan, Modi appears to be willing to explore alternatives.
Many in Delhi, who have negotiated with Islamabad and Beijing over the years, think any Indian attempt to change the terms of engagement with Pakistan and China is risky. They would add that the risk increases exponentially if India decides to probe both the fronts simultaneously. But that is precisely what Modi appears to be doing — seeking more space with both China and Pakistan at the same time. The idea of a contest on two fronts — with China and Pakistan — has long been a strategic nightmare for India. But some in Delhi insist these two fronts are no longer separate and that India has no option but to come to terms with their fusion — most notably in Kashmir and Balochistan.
However, they ask, what can Pakistan do to them that has not already been done should they receive Indian support? Will Pakistan increase military operations against the Baloch in the backdrop of these developments? It doesn’t matter because the Baloch have already been arrested, tortured and killed before Modi expressed his support for their struggle. Will the Baloch movement lose its credibility and be branded as a product of India’s interference? Well, when was the last time Pakistan did not question the origins of the movement? The Baloch have been at war, albeit at varying degrees, with the Pakistani state since 1948. Pakistan has billed them as Iraqi, Afghan, Soviet, and now Indian agents in order to discredit a home-grown rebellion. So, this is not the first time they have been labelled “foreign agents”. With all the things the Baloch have been called, they will probably not be seriously offended if they are described as Indian agents.
So, who are the Baloch and what do they want? Even most Pakistanis do not have a clear answer to this question due to a systematic blackout of news stories in the Pakistani media about Balochistan. The people in the rest of Pakistan get as much information about Balochistan as the military establishment decides to release. Heavily influenced by the official narrative, Pakistanis describe the people and the conflict in Balochistan in the same words as government officials. For instance, all that the Pakistanis know about Balochistan is a stereotypical image of a tribal region where a bunch of chiefs do not want to develop their people or that India and foreign countries are out there to break up Pakistan. They want the “Balochis” (sic) to be “given” their rights but under no circumstance would they allow the Baloch to seek a separate homeland. A Pakistani textbook recently described the Baloch as “uncivilised people”. The Pakistanis insist that the Baloch are incapable of running their own affairs. Therefore, they feel they have an obligation to “modernise”, “develop” and “civilise” the Baloch.
The absence of honest news reporting has kept most Pakistanis in the dark about the situation in Balochistan and the Baloch war of independence. The closest that Pakistanis come to acknowledging the movement for independence is admitting some “angry Balochi brothers” want more autonomy. On the contrary, as one Baloch leader said, “we are not angry. We are just fed up with you.” The army has chosen to “fix” Balochistan through the use of brute force. This approach has backfired, leading to an increase in the support for the pro-freedom camp.
A tiny section of Pakistani liberals has spoken up in support of Baloch rights although they do not endorse the idea of a free Balochistan. Their primary loyalties lie with Pakistan. When they see Modi speak in support of the Baloch, they immediately jump to their default positions as Pakistani patriots. In Pakistan, nothing ruins your personal and professional reputation more than being called an “Indian agent” or a “kafir” (infidel). Pakistan’s security establishment uses these labels very conveniently to isolate and silence its critics. Modi’s comments will give the army a perfect reason to censor news stories on Balochistan in the national media.
Pakistan controls Balochistan through senior army officers whose job is to monitor the state of affairs. The Commander of the Southern Command and the Inspector General of the Frontier Corps (FC), a federal paramilitary force, enjoy more authority than the province’s chief minister. The provincial government, micro-managed by Islamabad, is a mockery of democracy. For example, the last three chief ministers were elected (read selected) unopposed. The head of the regional government is chosen by Islamabad, instead of the people of Balochistan.
Baloch nationalists have always wished to be seen and treated as an entity separate from Pakistan. Modi’s statements have granted them that recognition. Given Balochistan’s geostrategic location and increasing Chinese involvement there, the Baloch will have no option but to search for allies in the region to protect their land and resources. India and Afghanistan are two possible allies. We don’t know to what extent India and Afghanistan are willing to support the Baloch, but what we do know is that Balochistan is ripe for Pakistan’s rivals, who want to embarrass or bleed Islamabad. Pakistan has lost so much support among ordinary Baloch people because of its repressive policies that any outside force is likely to be welcomed and assisted by segments of the Baloch nationalists.

Saturday Special:You Can’t Ignore Reading These Business Books Right Away

Books, along with my wife, are my constant companion. And being a voracious reader, I have no compunction in reading everything. The season and discipline matter, and my reading list always changes. Now, that the summer’s officially begun, and that probably means you like me are going to need something to read on your next trip to the beach or for the long flight to your vacation destination. You’ll be kicking back, but might as well bring something educational to accompany that magazine you picked up at the airport. To help you out, we’ve selected our favorite business memoirs, career guides, and the most exciting research on the future of work.
You’re sure to find something to like that will also leave you with some ideas to take back to the office.
‘Sprint’ by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz
Ever wonder how you could bring some of Google’s magic into your office without installing a quirky slide between floors or investing in an on-site chef? “Sprint” can help you out. It’s a guide from Google’s venture capital arm GV. Its design partners Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz explain how to implement their signature five-day “sprint” session.
They’ll show you how they’ve used this method to launch game-changing products with companies like Blue Bottle Coffee, Slack, and Nest.
‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight
Nike is not only the world’s biggest athletic company, with a market cap of about $88 billion. It’s also, remarkably, been able to be a worldwide leader of “cool” since the 1970s. It all started with a new college grad named Phil Knight who sold running shoes out of his parents’ garage.
Knight is retiring as the chairman of Nike this month, and he’s using his book “Shoe Dog” as the definitive story of how he built an empire. It’s a well-written and emotionally engaging story about an entrepreneur growing as a human being alongside the company in which he completely invested himself.
‘Originals’ by Adam Grant
Adam Grant is a star in his field. He’s the highest-rated professor at Wharton and the youngest to ever reach “full professor.” His success is built on some of the most exciting and practical work in behavioral science.
In his latest book, Grant takes a look at some of the most innovative and daring thinkers of the past 100 years, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to the founders of Google, breaking down what goes on inside the mind of an “original.”
‘O Great One!’ by David Novak and Christina Bourg
When David Novak retired as the chairman of Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) in May, he left behind a legacy of 41,000 restaurants across 125 countries and a market capitalization of about $ 34 bn.
His book “O Great One!” is a parable based on his own career that communicates the No. 1 leadership lesson he learned: The greatest thing a leader can do is show appreciation for great work.
‘How to Have a Good Day’ by Caroline Webb
This book is a collection of career best practices she’s learned in her 16 years as a consultant.
“How to Have a Good Day” may sound like a book full of self-affirmations, but it’s densely packed with field-tested career advice, from how to have productive meetings to how to deal with an annoying coworker.
‘Grit’ by Angela Duckworth
What’s the one thing that West Point cadets, spelling-bee champs, Jeff Bezos, and Julia Child have in common? Ask Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a winner of the MacArthur “genius” award, and she’ll tell you: grit. That is, a combination pf passion and perseverance that plays a huge role in determining your success in life — more so even than intelligence or innate talent.
To be sure, “Grit” and the psychology behind it have its critics, some of whom say that the research doesn’t add anything especially new. Regardless of where you stand, the book is a compelling read that will encourage you to start questioning your own potential for achievement.
‘An Everyone Culture’ by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey
In nearly every workplace, employees are working two jobs: the one they signed up for and the one spent navigating office politics, argue Harvard professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey in “An Everyone Culture.” There are, however, companies that avoid this, and the authors call these Deliberately Developmental Organizations (DDOs).
Kegan and Laskow thoroughly analyze what they perceive to be the benefits of radical transparency through case studies on hedge fund giant Bridgewater, ecommerce company company Next Jump, and real estate company Decurion.
Quench Your Own Thirst’ by Jim Koch
Today, Americans can walk into nearly any neighborhood supermarket or corner store and find at least one quality craft beer. But when Jim Koch left a consulting job with a $250,000 salary in 1984 to start a beer company and compete with the likes of Budweiser and Heineken, he seemed like a lunatic.
Today Koch’s Boston Beer Company, maker of Sam Adams, is a $2 billion company and one of the reasons why it’s no longer seen as crazy to open a brewery in the US.
“Quench Your Own Thirst” is the story of how he got there, told in Koch’s blunt, wry delivery — for example, in one chapter he breaks down the ” F___You Rule” he implemented at Boston Beer.
‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport
In 2016, nearly anyone living in the developed world has a short attention span from years spent jumping among smartphone apps and web browser tabs. It’s not a benign cultural change, argue Georgetown professor and bestselling author Cal Newport, because the greatest output is the result of what he calls “deep work.”
Newport’s book of the same name explains how one can build sessions of deep work into their work days to get more top-quality work done in the span of an hour than they otherwise would in the entire day.
‘Ego is the Enemy’ by Ryan Holiday
For someone at the start of their careers, acting on ego can prevent them from constructive learning opportunities; for someone who has already experienced success, acting on ego can prevent them from adapting to change.
Bestselling author Ryan Holiday draws from history and philosophy to show how one can master one’s own ego, using examples that range from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
‘The Inevitable’ by Kevin Kelly
Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired magazine, has established himself as a guru of Silicon Valley. “The 4-Hour Workweek” author Tim Ferriss un-ironically calls Kelly “the most interesting man in the world” and legendary tech investor Marc Andreessen dubbed “The Inevitable” an “automatic must-read.”
In it, Kelly gives you a sneak peek at the future, and how it will be shaped by maturing forces like artificial intelligence and the on-demand economy.
‘The Sleep Revolution’ by Arianna Huffington
In 2007, after she’d been founder and editor of The Huffington Post for two years, she fainted and woke up in a pool of blood. The likely reason, she determined later, was sleep deprivation. Today, Huffington is a champion for snooze time. (She says she personally gets a full 8.5 hours of sleep every night.)
In “The Sleep Revolution,” she shares research and expert opinion on why it’s important to prioritize sleep, as well as tips on how to get a better night’s rest. Hint: Don’t bring your smartphone into bed with you.
‘Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules’ by Jeremy C. Miller
Investment analyst Jeremy Miller’s “Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules” is a thorough but easy-to-understand analysis of the investing principles of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, one of the greatest investors in history.
In fact, Miller’s analysis is so spot-on that the Oracle of Omaha himself gives it his full endorsement. “Mr. Miller has done a superb job of researching and dissecting the operation of Buffett Partnership Ltd. and of explaining how Berkshire’s culture has evolved from its BPL origin,” Buffett wrote.
‘Never Split the Difference’ by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
The subtitle of this book is “negotiating as if your life depended on it” — and Voss knows better than pretty much anyone what that’s like, having spent decades as an FBI hostage negotiator.
But Voss wants to convince readers that negotiation is a critical part of everyday interactions — with your spouse, your boss, and your real-estate agent. Drawing on his experience working with terrorists and criminals, Voss presents a series of surprising negotiation tactics, lik encouraging one to say no when you want them to ultimately say “yes.”
Best of all, it’s an easy read filled with anecdotes from Voss’ time in the FBI, and by the end you’ll be surprised how much you’ve learned that you can apply right away.
‘Smarter Faster Better’ by Charles Duhigg
Four years after the release of his bestseller,The Power of Habit, Duhigg published another book that takes a psychological perspective on a problem we face in everyday life. In this case, the problem is productivity.
Duhigg, a New York Times journalist, offers readers a glimpse into how the most productive people function, including theDisney Creators behind “Frozen,” business teams at Google, and airplane pilots who successfully navigated their way through disaster. He distills all his research into eight key takeaways that anyone can use, at work and at home.
‘The Third Wave’ by Steve Case
As the founder of AOL, Steve Case had a front-row seat to the rise of a new internet era, which he dubs in his book the “first wave.” The second wave was defined by social media, and the upcoming third wave will move much further beyond just the way we communicate, but rather how we live our lives.
Case argues his thesis in an intriguing way, and offers interesting new insights into the formation of AOL along the way.
‘If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?” by Raj Raghunathan
Presumably, smart people should make good choices about their health and well-being. But as you may know from personal experience, they don’t always. In fact, Raghunathan, who is a professor at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business, argues that the very traits and behaviors that lead to professional success often sabotage our chances at happiness.
Case in point:Smart people like to control freaks, which can make them more ambitious. But it can also make them unhappy, because they’re constantly getting disappointed when things don’t go exactly as planned. Raghunathan outlines how to overcome this tendency, as well as seven other “deadly happiness sins,” simply by shifting your mindset.
‘TED Talks’ by Chris Anderson
If you’re into TED Talks, you’ll enjoy this guide to public speaking penned by none other than the curator of TED himself. Anderson offers anecdotes from his experience working with TED celebrities — from Sir Ken Robinson to Susan Cain to Monica Lewinsky — and explains the lessons that can be learned from each one’s successful presentation.
You’ll find out how to craft a compelling narrative, overcome your nerves, and ultimately take your audience on a journey that makes them believe in the same ideas that inspire you.
‘From Silk to Silicon’ by Jeffrey E. Garten
Garten teaches courses on the global economy at Yale University, and served as undersecretary of commerce for international trade under President Bill Clinton. His latest book, “From Silk to Silicon,” looks at globalization through the lens of 10 individuals who changed the world with their accomplishments — from the emperor Genghis Khan to Andy Grove, founder of Intel.
Garten identifies common trends in each person’s life story, and uses them to help explain the current economic challenges that we face and predict how globalization will affect our future.
‘Negotiating the Nonnegotiable’ by Daniel Shapiro
Shapiro has led conflict-management initiatives in the Middle East and worked with top executives in business and in government. Over time, he’s learned that negotiation is ultimately about understanding the conflict’s emotional underpinnings. Drawing on Freudian psychoanalysis, for example, he explains how almost everyone has certain fears and inner struggles that lead them to have the same types of conflicts over and over again.
Ultimately, the book will help you think like a psychologist when approaching negotiations with coworkers or family members, strengthening your relationships in the process.
‘The Achievement Habit’ by Bernard Roth
For nearly half a century, Roth, a professor of engineering at Stanford, has been teaching a course called “The Designer in Society.” Students in the class learn how to use a process called ‘ design thinking” to become happier and healthier.
Design thinking is an innovative process developed by Roth and other Stanford engineers that’s used to improve on anything, from a light bulb to online dating. But Roth argues that the core principles of design thinking — like a bias toward action and getting to the root of the problem at hand — can be used to improve individual lives. You can use design thinking to lose weight, start a business, and stop worrying about things you can’t control.
The most valuable part of design thinking, Roth says, is that once you realize you can achieve one goal, you gain momentum toward achieving the next one. In other words, it becomes an “achievement habit.”
‘Year of Yes’ by Shonda Rhimes
Looking at her from the outside, you might assume that Rhimes was super successful — and super happy. After all, she pretty much owned Thursday-night television, with “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away With Murder.” But as she confesses in “Year of Yes,” Rhimes was overworked and unhealthy, and she hardly felt like she was living her life to the fullest. So she embarked on a project in which, instead of declining new opportunities as usual, she said “yes” to everything. That meant giving a commencement speech at her alma mater, making time to play with her daughters, and deciding to accept any compliments that came her way.
Rhimes isn’t afraid to get real about her fears and her struggles along the way, and the book is moving and inspiring. Still, Rhimes is a funny and conversational writer, so don’t be surprised if you make it through the book in one or two sittings.
‘Superbosses’ by Sydney Finkelstein
If you’re a manager — or if you have hopes of ever becoming one — this book could change the way you think of successful leadership.
Finkelstein, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, says that if you look at the key players within any industry, you’ll notice that most of them at some point worked for the same individual. Finkelstein calls these individuals “superbosses,” or managers who spawn the next generation of talent by turning their employees into stars.
The good news is that any manager can become a superboss by developing the key traits and behaviors that Finkelstein outlines, like fearlessness, authenticity, and not being afraid to let a great employee go.

The plague years

The problem with golden ages is that you don’t know it when you’re living in one, and we most certainly have been born into the golden age of medicine. Oh sure, the cold is still common and while we haven’t cured cancer we have at least controlled it to a great extent. Yes, we may get the occasional Ebola or Zika scare but the age of germ-induced apocalypse is certainly behind us.
That’s a really big deal when you consider how powerful a historical force disease is. Take what the Black Plague did to Europe: the death of millions enriched the survivors who inherited (or stole) the property of the dead and wages rose as labour became scarce. Surplus cloth (of which there was now plenty) was used as rag paper in the newly invented printing press, spurring a boom in literacy and feeding the Renaissance.
Other examples abound: the conquistador victory over the Aztecs is often attributed to their weapons and tactics, but smallpox — transferred from an infected Spanish soldier to the Aztecs — played a crucial part. The virus killed most of the Aztec army and close to a quarter of the population, who had no defence against this foreign plague.
All living creatures adapt, and bacteria are no exception. Disease also acted as a defence, and many parts of the world were inaccessible to Europeans due to the prevalence of malaria until the discovery and mass production of quinine. This event enabled the colonisation of many parts of the world and signalled that a new age was dawning.
Then in 1940s, Alexander Fleming found the magic bullet. Antibiotics had been in use for centuries in traditional medicine, with Egyptians using mouldy bread to treat infected wounds and Russian peasants doing the same with warm mud. But Fleming determined and duplicated the method behind the miracle. Once-fatal diseases could now be cured by popping a mass produced pill.
But all living creatures adapt, and bacteria are no exception. Two months back, scientists in the US detected a ‘nightmare bacteria’, a strain of E. coli resistant to all known antibiotics. It was a discovery that the director of the US Centre for Disease Control says could be ‘the end of the road’ for antibiotics.
That’s not something to be taken lightly, and England’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davis, warns that the danger posed to England by antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) is equal to the threat posed by terrorism. She has a point, given that antibiotic resistance currently accounts for an estimated 50,000 deaths in the US and Europe, while the global death toll is estimated at 700,000 per annum. If action is not taken, scientists warn the toll could reach 10 million dead a year by 2050.
In Pakistan, Shifa International Hospital’s Dr Ejaz reveals that 70pc of newborn infections in the country are the result of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and in June a study conducted by Karachi University concluded that food being sold in and around public-sector hospitals in the city was contaminated with germs resistant to many commonly used antibiotics.
This not only means that patients who eat these foods can walk away with new and deadlier diseases, but also that these superbugs can infect visitors and, in fact, anyone who eats at the stalls around these hospitals.
Here, the problem was caused by the mixing of sewerage lines with water mains, improper hygiene in hospitals and the improper dumping of medical waste, but in a global perspective the rise in ARBs can be attributed simply to the overuse of antibiotics. Let’s put it this way: these are the battle-hardened grandchildren of the 0.1pc germs your hand sanitiser didn’t kill.
While simply increasing the potency and dosage of antibiotics will be counterproductive, the key to the future may well be found in the wisdom of the past. Recently, British scientists killed the modern-day superbug MRSA by using a cure laid out in a 1,000 year old Anglo-Saxon medical manuscript, and there is little doubt that many such cures from antiquity lay waiting to be rediscovered.
Other avenues of research are even more interesting, like the revival of the use of maggots — an ancient practice — to treat infected wounds. Their utility in dealing with ARBs was already displayed in 1989 when a University of California physician used maggots to treat a patient whose wounds were not responding to antibiotics.
Even more exotic is the work being done by Australian company Entocosm, which is working on extracting antibiotics from ants and flies. The logic here is that if flies spend their time feeding on refuse and rotting flesh, they must have powerful resistance to infection, and it hold true: tests showed that the flies’ anti-bacterial compounds were active against the golden staph superbug.
To sum up, we forced bacteria to evolve in order to survive and now we ourselves must evolve new methods in turn. It’s just a question of who does it better.

Are real liberals soft on terror?

“Liberals in Pakistan have been an endangered species for a while … liberals everywhere are winning only rarely. It’s so much easier to be sectarian and nationalist than accommodative and universal.” So writes veteran campaigner for civil liberties in Pakistan Pervez Hoodbhoy. Substitute ‘Pakistan’ for India and he could well be describing the plight of Indian liberals.
Repeated pummelling of the world by Islamic terrorism is seen to have snatched the ground away from the feet of liberals. When innocents are repeatedly being slaughtered it’s become almost unacceptable to talk of avoiding the language of hatred or upholding the rule of law or avoiding religious prejudice. A liberal who doesn’t chant the mantra of aggressive counterterrorism is branded as ‘appeaser of Muslims’, ‘apologist of terrorism’ and ‘anti-national’. To ask any questions about the encounter killing of Burhan Wani is seen as being anti-India. The sabre-rattling nationalist is seen as the winner of the debate and the liberal the pathetic loser.
Indian liberals are abused yet Muslim liberals are in the vanguard of the fight against Islamic terror. In the Dhaka attack, three names shine: Faraaz Hossain, Abinta Kabir and Ishrat Akhond. They stood forth bravely as liberal Muslims and died doing so.
The liberal Pakistani politician Salman Taseer was killed because religious zealots feared his campaign against blasphemy laws. Bangladeshi liberals are courageously taking on fundamentalists and dying for their beliefs as did Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi in India for daring to challenge religion-inspired killers.
In fact, the liberal is almost the last sentinel against militant traditionalists who want to hark back to a mythical golden age and kill those who uphold the cause of modern civil liberties. As such surely liberals across the subcontinent should get much more public support than they do. Yet today those who argue for rule of law are shouted down because the only law in place seems to be the law of force.
Important questions remain. Liberals are attacked for saying terror has no religion and Muslims mustn’t be stereotyped. But don’t the Dhaka attacks show that while some Muslims use Islam to perpetrate violence, other Muslims don’t? After all it’s the government of the Muslim Sheikh Hasina which executed Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami.
Also, is the Islamic terrorist the only entity to use identity to perpetuate violence? Surely, many political and social movements have similarly used identity for violent campaigns. Should we therefore say that all Tamils are LTTE supporters, all tribals are Maoists, all north-easterners are insurgents and all Sikhs are supporters of Khalistan?
To hold Islam guilty of terror would mean saying the Tamil sentiment is responsible for LTTE or a belief in Marxism is directly responsible for Maoist killings. If Islamic terrorism forces hatred and prejudice against Muslims then don’t we begin to speak the language of the terrorist? Don’t the terrorists win?
Which is why liberals need to speak up and not be silenced by ‘nationalist’ war cries. Liberals need to demand that society and state uphold the essence of the law which is justice and fairness. If state institutions are not seen to provide justice, if law courts and police are seen as colluding with political interests for short term ends, if the state becomes a militia which simply kills those who do not accept its authority, then militant ideas will only grow. Unless there is an attempt to reach out and engage in the crucial battle of ideas, terrorists will only gain more supporters. Is a killing-machine government going to ‘encounter’ them all?
The demand for justice means holding state agencies accountable. The liberal is not being a terrorist sympathiser when she asks: What were the circumstances of Wani’s death? Why did he have to be killed? Could he not have been captured, arrested and brought to justice? Why should ‘encounters’ of this nature not be thoroughly probed? The UK battled IRA terrorism for years but still upheld the cause of justice. The Birmingham Six who were suspected of terrorism and found to be wrongfully prosecuted were not only let off but even awarded compensation.
The state must act against perpetrators of violence but act lawfully. Only when the legitimacy of state authority is restored does the terrorist lose his raison d’etre. A stone pelter in Kashmir can’t be treated differently to a rioter in Haryana: Excessive force in one case, a weak kneed approach in the other is not even handed justice.
Today militants like Wani no longer hide their identities, instead they display their aims and ideology on social media in open challenge. When thousands of youth crowd into militant funerals, then clearly in their eyes the state has lost credibility. Bad ideas flourish when there are fertile conditions for them; bad ideas can only be fought by better ideas, not by just killing off the practitioners of those bad ideas. When Manmohan Singh apologised to Sikhs, when the late Mufti Sayeed initiated the ‘healing touch’, they created ideas that frontally challenged zealots.
Faced with Islamic terrorism there should be zero tolerance of terror, but also zero tolerance on hate and manifestations of hate. Rather than summary killings, bring to justice. State and society institutions need to go the extra mile and demonstrate their capacity for rule of law and fairplay.
Supporters of terrorists must be weaned away through visible demonstrations of inclusivity and delivery of genuine justice. Liberals are called irrelevant but today they need to be heard loud and clear demanding pluralism and fair and just police and law courts. Why should they not? After all Indian liberals have a proud inheritance; it is they who stood by the rights of victims, be it during Emergency, 1984 or 2002.

Australian Economy Way Ahead of Canadian Economy

The Canadians are always in a self-congratulatory mood. We always have a tendency to feel and say that this country is a country par excellence. It is another matter that we are not No. 1 in any sector. Take economy. We have been quietly congratulating ourselves about how our economy has outperformed the U.S. in recent years. We were immune to the worst of the financial crash, avoided the U.S.’s housing bubble and even the oil crash hasn’t hurt as much as some feared.
But maybe we should stop comparing ourselves to the U.S., and start comparing ourselves to another country whose economy is a lot like ours — but who has been kicking our pants, economically, for years.
That country would be Australia.
Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter has been calling Oz “the Lucky Country” for its impressive ability to grow through thick and thin.
“Australia has not been in a recession for more than 25 years now, a world record,” Porter wrote in a recent client note.
That’s right, the last time Australia had a recession, Vanilla Ice was topping the charts and the Soviet Union was still a year away from dissolution.
Since the start of the century, Australia has averaged 3 per cent economic growth per year, compared to 1.9 per cent in Canada and 1.8 per cent in the U.S., Porter noted.
In those 25 recession-free years, there have been only three quarters when Australia’s economy shrank.
Meanwhile, if Canada’s economy shrinks this quarter — as economists now largely expect — that will be the third quarter of shrinkage for Canada just since last year, Porter noted.
Similar economy, similar problems
Australia’s economy parallels Canada’s in many ways, particularly its reliance on commodity exports (iron ore in Australia’s case). And in both cases, the downturn in commodity prices has hurt, but hasn’t thrown these countries entirely off course.
Maybe the more notable parallel to Canada is Australia’s overheated, super-expensive housing market. In Australia as in Canada, there is a lot of talk about how much foreign (mainly Chinese) investors are responsible for the price run-up.
Those high house prices have made Australians, like Canadians, among the most indebted people in the world. And in both countries, many observers fear that huge debt could lead to an economic crisis.
When the OECD warned Canada to get a handle on out-of-control house prices, it gave Australia an even harsher warning: Its house prices are likely about to experience a “dramatic” crash, the international agency said.
But, like in Canada, Australia’s housing market keeps defying predictions of doom. The country’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, keep seeing double-digit house price growth, similar in scale to Toronto and Vancouver.
Australia’s average house price now stands at the equivalent of C$550,000, compared to $508,000 in Canada.
So when Canadians compare themselves to another country (as we like to do), at least on economic issues, maybe we should be looking at Australia instead of the U.S

The undiscussed honour killings

The outcry over the death of Qandeel Baloch had just barely died down, the follow-ups to the murder, its special treatment, the arrest of the brother, the statements by solemn-faced politicians just barely wrapped up, when new episodes of horror took their place. On July 26, news broke that a British member of parliament had written to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif regarding the murder of Samia Shahid, a British woman who had been duped into visiting Pakistan and was now dead. Her husband, Syed Mukhtar Kazam, who is in Britain, was alleging that Samia had been killed by her family because she had divorced the man whom they had chosen for her and married him instead.
The facts, even as they span two continents and communities seemingly separated by great distances, are not new. Samia Shahid, part of Britain’s Pakistani community, had been engaged when she was young to a relative belonging to the same clan and village. Despite her own opposition to the marriage, she acquiesced to her family’s wishes and married the man. As she was a British citizen, her husband was able to travel to the UK. Samia eventually filed for divorce from this person.
She was later introduced to her current husband and married him despite her family’s opposition. Efforts at reconciliation, some of them taking place in the presence of a police officer in the United Kingdom, were not successful. Early last month, Samia received a call from her family saying that her father was ill and at death’s door. Distraught, she decided to travel to Pakistan and be at her father’s bedside, even as her current husband told her that it was likely to be a trick.
Pakistani society refuses to budge from the premise that women’s lives belong ultimately to men.In the last week of July, Samia was supposed to travel back to the UK. The text messages she had been sending her husband abruptly ceased and there was no more news of her. When her husband called other relatives, he was told that his 28-year-old wife, who was healthy in every other way, had died of a sudden “heart attack”. Her father, who was not sick at all, later changed the heart attack story to say that his daughter had committed suicide. An autopsy report revealed ligature marks on Samia’s throat, suggesting that she had been strangled. Her body was found lying on the stairway of her cousin’s house.
Nor was this the only honour killing to take place last week. On Friday evening, Kausar and Gulzar Bibi, two sisters from Vehari, in Punjab, were murdered by their brother. The two sisters liked the men they were about to marry, both of whom lived in Karachi. The parents had agreed to the match and the wedding was set for this Saturday past. One of their brothers, Nasir, did not agree with the match and decided, therefore, to kill his sisters, even as they were preparing to become brides. On Friday evening, he gunned them down. A home that was preparing for two weddings was left arranging for two funerals.
There is no surprise in either of these cases. In the first, because of some minimal pressure of international attention, some feeble efforts at investigation were made, an autopsy conducted, arrests made. The second has only received perfunctory coverage; poor women dying poor, hapless deaths at the hands of enraged men. To the readers of this newspaper, none of this should be shocking. Pakistani society, on a daily basis and with great consistency, refuses to budge from the premise that women’s lives belong ultimately and entirely to the men that ‘own’ them — fathers, brothers, husbands and sons. The theatre of outrage plays out in the aftermath of one or another killing that involves a woman that commands a bit more attention than the nameless ones that are murdered every day.
Everyone, including the living women, the women not yet murdered, the women toeing the line that men have prescribed for them, is inured to the arrangement. Even women’s rights activists are in a sense complicit in the situation. After the death of Qandeel Baloch, many wrote analyses and condemnations, yet few (as noted by columnist Zubeida Mustafa) have tried to make the effort to organise and empower women into anything beyond an elitist discourse. The concern of many seemed to revolve far more around creating limits over who was permitted to speak about and on behalf of Pakistani women to the international media, rather than the core issue of actually developing initiatives that could assist in ending the crimes themselves.
There are Pakistani women alive this week that will be dead next week, killed by men who are their fathers, their brothers, their husbands. Others live half-lives, effectively having extinguished their desires, their hopes, their dreams — their control over their own lives such that they may continue to live in a physical sense. They withstand slurs and beatings, being locked up and being silenced. Like hardened prisoners used to confinements, many have mastered the rules: the silence, they know, is required for survival. Like birds who do not fly even when the doors of their cages are opened, they seem resigned to their constraints, even angry at rebellious others who would defy them. For their good behaviour, a patriarchal society rewards them, by simply allowing them to live.
The deaths are many and they seem to come week after week. What they do not bring with them, other than the shouts, the momentary outrage, the limpid promises by compromised politicians, is actual moral change. This elusive moral change — the shift that would mean an end to the killing of women, an end to the attachment of rationalisations as to why, insist on controls over their behaviour, offer judgements over whether they were right or wrong in doing what they want — doesn’t seem to be arriving any time soon. So next week, more will die, shot or burned or strangled, and all the rest, unfeeling, uncaring, unmoved, will live on.

Muslim Triple Talaq Needs Review

Indian Muslims must find a solution in accordance with the teachings and spirit of Islam. Some Muslims incorrectly believe that any rule whose origin is from outside the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence is prohibited, and that is why they oppose the argument for making three talaqs in one sitting to be counted as just one.
The issue of triple talaq in one sitting has once again become a subject of heated discussion. Many Muslims continue to oppose the argument that uttering the word talaq in one sitting cannot dissolve a Muslim marriage. This is because triple talaq in one sitting as constituting an irrevocable divorce has been the position of many (though not all) of the scholars affiliated with the four major schools of Sunni jurisprudence for centuries.
Some Muslims incorrectly believe that any rule whose origin is from outside the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence is prohibited, and that is why they oppose the argument for making three talaqs in one sitting to be counted as just one. However, this concept has no authentic foundation in Islamic jurisprudence. In Sunni jurisprudential history, there are many instances of practices which were followed earlier by others and were later adopted by the Sunni ulema or scholars of Islamic jurisprudence due to changes in socio-historical circumstances.
Since the period of the companions of Prophet Muhammad, a considerable number of Muslim scholars and jurists have insisted that if a Muslim husband utters the word talaq three times in one sitting, it constitutes one talaq. According to Ibn ul-Qayyim (d.1350), the Islamic jurist and theologian, some noted companions of the Prophet such as Ali (the fourth Caliph of the Sunni Muslims), Abdullah bin Masood, Abdullah bin Abbas, Zubair bin Awwam and Abdur Rahman bin Awf, viewed the utterance of the word talaq in one sitting as one, not three, and, thus, as not resulting in an irrevocable divorce (al-talaq ul-mughallaza).
When formulating the law about divorce, it appears that the Quran tends to restrain quick divorce since it clearly suggests that “a divorce is only permissible twice: after that, the parties should either hold together on equitable terms or separate with kindness.” (2:229)
According to this verse, there must be room for retaining the wife after uttering the word talaq. This would not be possible if triple talaq in one sitting were considered irrevocable. It seems illogical and unnatural that a marital relationship of, say, 30 years breaks off within 30 seconds, without leaving a chance for reconciliation. The Quran (4:22) refers to the agreement which a husband and a wife pledge together as a ‘strong covenant’, and obviously, that cannot be so vulnerable and easily broken by a one-sided decision taken in a state of anger or depression.
Those who claim that three talaqs in one sitting count only as one, and not three — and so does not result in the end of a Muslim marriage — infer their opinion from a hadith recorded in the Sahih Muslim, a collection of hadith reports widely respected among Sunni Muslims. According to this report, Abdullah bin Abbas, a companion of the Prophet, said that triple talaq in one sitting was considered as one in the period of the Prophet, the period of the first caliph Abu Bakr, and during the early years of the second caliph Umar (Sahih Muslim, 1482).
Another tradition relates that a companion of the Prophet, Rukanah bin Yazid, divorced his wife thrice in one sitting. He then regretted what he had done and approached the Prophet. The Prophet asked him how he had divorce his wife. Rukanah answered that he had done so by pronouncing the word talaq thrice. The Prophet asked him if he had pronounced it in a single sitting, to which he replied in the affirmative. The Prophet then said that it had the effect of one divorce and that if he wanted to take his wife back he could.
Defenders of triple talaq in one sitting often cite the enforcement of this practice by Umar, the second Caliph. In response, it can be said that this was intended for the welfare of society in that particular socio-historical context. Umar thought it an appropriate ruling as men had made talaq a joke by taking back their wives even after uttering the word talaq several times, because of which their wives had to suffer, being stuck in a vicious circle and not being able to gain their freedom.
The issue of triple talaq is a sensitive one. Traditionalist Muslim scholars wrongly regard even the slightest deviation from the opinion of their school as unlawful. On the other hand, are the thousands upon thousands of Muslim women whose lives are being destroyed by the effects of this method of divorce.
It is incumbent upon Muslims to find a balanced solution to this in accordance with the teachings and spirit of Islam. Muslims must take initiatives for the reform of the practice of talaq. This reform needs to happen at the level of laws.
Many Muslim-majority countries have reformed their laws and consider three talaqs in one sitting to be just one. Indian Muslims must come forth to support this sort of reform, realising that it is essential for their own welfare.

South Asia needs to learn about the Bomb

It’s hard to learn about the Bomb in the media. Other issues have a higher call on public attention and press coverage, like counter-terrorism in Pakistan and China’s rise in India. Journal articles in publications devoted to security topics reflect other priorities: Over the past ten years nuclear security research has only featured in 14 per cent of the articles in Strategic Studies published by the Islamabad Strategic Studies Institute and in only seven percent of the articles in Strategic Analysis, published by India’s Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses. Television coverage of nuclear-related topics is paper thin — and about as deep. The Bomb is supposed to be big news, but it turns out that nuclear weapons-related issues take a back seat to other important issues, like the war in Afghanistan, missile defence, and Kashmir.
It’s also hard to learn about the Bomb in the classroom. There are too few classes on security studies, let alone nuclear security issues. In an informal survey, we found that even those young analysts and scholars steeped in strategic affairs still saw the need for a more balanced and comprehensive curriculum.
What little material is available is usually framed in national narratives. Talking points that are repeated endlessly by government officials and are unconvincing to outsiders do not make for classroom learning. National narratives may help a state in its drive to acquire nuclear weapons, but nuclear mythmaking can overtake reality. When national narratives become stale or stray from reality, they become unpersuasive except at home. Talking points are only as persuasive as the facts behind them.
Nuclear issues are growing in importance. There is a significant, triangular nuclear arms competition underway among China, India and Pakistan. Since India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices in 1998, together they have flight-tested almost one new ballistic or cruise missile per year. China and India have begun sea trials on new ballistic missile-carrying submarines. Pakistan is also moving nuclear warheads to sea.
Pakistan worries about India’s conventional war-fighting doctrine, so has invested in very short-range, nuclear-capable missiles. China and India have tested missile defence interceptors. Nuclear weapon stockpiles are growing in China, India and especially in Pakistan. China has begun to place more than one warhead atop some of its missiles. India might follow China, and Pakistan might follow India. Nowhere else in the world is there so much dynamism with respect to nuclear weapons.
Nuclear doctrines might also be in flux. China, India and Pakistan all say they embrace limited deterrence, but all are expanding their nuclear war fighting options. India asserts that it will retaliate massively to just one nuclear detonation. Pakistan doesn’t believe India. Pakistan asserts that it will use nuclear weapons first if it must; India doesn’t believe Pakistan. Meanwhile, borders remain contested and the territorial dispute over Kashmir is again on the boil. Diplomacy is moribund as the nuclear competition heats up. There is no basis for stability under these circumstances.
Nor is there evidence of nuclear learning. Unusable weapons do not add to national strength and security. The general public and strategic elites in India and Pakistan talk about fighting under the nuclear threshold and using nuclear weapons in war. A recent survey experiment found that under scenarios of a terrorist attack, a majority of Indian respondents favoured nuclear use even when other options were equally effective.
A recent Gallup survey found that should war break out, the vast majority of Pakistanis remained exceptionally confident of military victory over India, as if nuclear weapons can somehow accomplish what conventional and sub-conventional conflicts have failed to achieve.
Nuclear weapons have helped deter nuclear wars and full-scale conventional wars between nuclear-armed states. But it is unclear they have deterred anything else. There have been two limited conventional wars fought by nuclear-armed states. Nuclear weapons have not deterred sub-conventional wars, internal security threats, deep crises, or resolved the Kashmir dispute.
In an effort to promote nuclear learning, the Stimson Center, where we work, has launched a free and open online course on “Nuclear South Asia.” The course is an invitation to learn from experts beyond ones’ borders, deliberate over tough questions, and think hard about current and future challenges. The course combines and distills the wisdom of over 60 experts and former officials from India, Pakistan, and the United States.
Nuclear education can yield multiple benefits for everyone. Wherever they turn to for knowledge and information, students, analysts and the interested general public need to view hard problems from a variety of perspectives and engage in balanced analysis. We are confident that learning about the Bomb will help prompt new thinking on ways to reduce nuclear dangers and advance regional stability.

Turkey’s red flags

“TODAY,” one of Turkey’s greatest modern poets requested his wife in verses composed in his prison cell in 1945, presumably anticipating a visit, “Nazim Hikmet’s woman must be beautiful/ Like a rebel flag…” Last Sunday, one could have been fooled into thinking that a vast meeting space in Istanbul was awash with rebel flags.
The mammoth gathering was a sea of red. The effect was caused, though, by a crowd estimated to be more than a million strong waving the national emblem. It was strictly a loyalist gesture rather than an indication of rebellion, the grand finale of a series of rallies throughout Turkey in the wake of the abortive coup of July 15-16, which supposedly came close to toppling the established order. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking to the crowd, declared he would endorse the restitution of the death penalty if it were sanctioned by the requisite parliamentary majority.
It’s a chilling thought, given the vindictiveness that has been on display since the failure of the still somewhat mysterious military coup attempt. There is little cause to doubt that some kind of a takeover was indeed intended, and one of the explanations for its poor timing and execution is that the conspirators were on the verge of being unveiled. It’s nonetheless exceedingly odd that Erdogan, who was on vacation at the time and therefore a relatively easy target, was not only spared but able to fly back unhindered to his citadel of power.
A chill has descended on all dissenters. Furthermore, despite the presumed urgency of their action, could the coup-makers not have waited for a bit and attempted their takeover in the early hours instead of showing their hand late in the afternoon? Given Turkey’s 20th-century history of repeated military coups, it is no doubt extremely fortuitous that last month’s putsch did not succeed. Its consequences could have been considerably more offensive than the backlash of the past few weeks.
There are, nonetheless, significant questions that remain unanswered, or at least the responses stop well short of being entirely satisfactory.
The Erdogan government has blamed the entire episode on exiled spiritual leader and educationist Fethullah Gulen and his Hizmet movement, justifying its thorough purge of the military, the civil service, the judiciary, academia and journalism on the basis that action is being taken exclusively against adherents of a terrorist movement more terrifying than the militant Islamic State group, and one whose tentacles have bored into every facet of Turkish life.
That isn’t necessarily as nonsensical as it seems. The part that is often left out of the official narrative is the role Erdogan once played in making it so. He and Gulen were effectively allies until three years ago, united in the goal of superseding Turkey’s 20th-century secularism, and most of the Gulenists who insinuated themselves into the body politic did so with the connivance of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). The final break came when apparently Gulenist judges and prosecutors began targeting Erdogan aides over corruption charges in 2013.
Since then, the split between the rival Islamist brands has steadily widened. It’s worth asking, though, why Erdogan waited until now to banish Gulenists from military and state structures, if he had known all along precisely where they were ensconced. After surviving the events of July 15-16, the Turkish president described them as “a gift from God” (and it is surely no coincidence that Erdogan himself was hailed in the same terms by participants in Sunday’s rally), but surely he and his loyalists — not least in the military — could have pre-empted this particular ‘gift’?
There can be little doubt that Erdogan enjoys a huge amount of support in Turkish society, but there is also plenty of opposition, and much of it isn’t Gulenist in nature. The president’s authoritarian tendencies, the drift towards religious fundamentalism and his generally uncompromising attitude towards the Kurdish minority have until now been resisted by substantial segments of Turks. In the wake of the coup attempt, though, a chill has descended on all dissidents, as any criticism of Erdogan runs the risk of being tagged as terrorism.
Erdogan was scheduled to meet Vladimir Putin yesterday, after having mended his fences somewhat with Russia as well as Israel, amid suggestions that the coup attempt was sponsored by the US. That’s unlikely, albeit not out of the question. Erdogan’s Turkey has pursued a muddled course in neighbouring Syria, long serving as a conduit for recruits to the jihadist cause. It hosts millions of Syrian refugees, meanwhile, and post-coup critiques from Europe may well prompt Ankara to unleash once more the flow of asylum-seekers into Greece.
There are, for the moment, red flags all over Turkey, in the sense of danger signals. There are indications every day that even as it failed, the botched coup may well have facilitated the nation’s descent into dictatorship.