Sunday Special: The deadly diseases being released as ice thaws

Global warming has begun re-exposing more familiar diseases that modern society thought it had eradicated. What would happen if we were suddenly exposed to deadly bacteria and viruses that have been absent for thousands of years? We may be about to find out.

Climate change is melting permafrost soils that have been solid for thousands of years, and as the soils melt they have the potential to release ancient viruses and bacteria that may be capable of springing back to life.

The most recent discovery of an ancient virus came when French and Russian scientists investigated a 30,000 year-old piece of Siberian permafrost.

In a paper published in 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by Jean-Michel Claverie of Aix-Marseille University revealed they had discovered a new “giant virus” that they named Pithovirus sibericum.

Giant viruses are so-called because they are much larger than traditional viruses. Pithovirus is the biggest ever found and measures 1,500 nanometres (billionths of a metre) across. That’s more than 10 times larger that the HIV virus.

What is more, after thawing the Pithovirus from its frozen state, Claverie and his team discovered that it was still infectious. Fortunately, the virus’ targets are amoebae, and Pithovirus poses no danger to humans. However, giant viruses can sometimes be harmful to people.

Nature magazine reports how in 2013 Christelle Desnues, a virologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Marseilles, discovered signs that another giant virus, Marseillevirus, had infected an 11-month-old boy.

The virus was traced to one of the patient’s lymph nodes, which was then surgically removed. In their paper, Claverie and his team warn that while Pithovirus is harmless to humans, the “revival of such an ancestral amoeba-infecting virus” suggests that “the thawing of permafrost either from global warming or industrial exploitation of circumpolar regions might not be exempt from future threats to human or animal health”.

Warming viruses

While global warming has yet to expose any ancient viruses harmful to humans, it has begun re-exposing more familiar diseases that modern society thought it had eradicated.

In August 2016, a 12 year-old boy in northern Russia was killed after being infected by Anthrax. The Anthrax outbreak, which saw up to 20 people hospitalised, was blamed on unusually warm weather in the arctic circle.

It is believed that a reindeer carcass infected with Anthrax was buried deep in the ice, but with temperatures reaching 35C in the Siberian tundra last summer, the carcass thawed and Anthrax spores were released.

Up to 2,300 reindeer were killed as a result of the outbreak, and the entire reindeer herdsman community – of which the fatally infected boy was a member – had to be evacuated.

Average temperatures in Russia have increased by 0.43C in the past 10 years, but the rise has been more pronounced in areas of the far north, according Alexei Kokorin, head of WWF Russia’s climate and energy programme.

Speaking to The Guardian, Kokorin said the warmer climate has begun thawing the permafrost soil that covers much of Russia, including cemeteries and animal burial grounds. Thawing permafrost has also led to greater erosion of river banks where nomads often buried their dead, Kokorin said.

Anthrax may not be the only infectious disease lurking in the ice. In 2004, US researchers successfully revived the 1918 Spanish flu – which killed millions of people – from a fragment of a corpse’s lung frozen in the Alaska permafrost. Scientists have also discovered DNA fragments of smallpox in the Siberian permafrost.

Bigger threats

While the risk of infectious diseases being released by thawing permafrost is real, scientists are at pains to point out that the chances of any future pandemic are incredibly low.

Speaking in Nature magazine on the discovery of Pithovirus, Curtis Suttle, a virologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, points out that people already inhale thousands of viruses every day, and swallow billions whenever they swim in the sea.

The idea that melting ice would release harmful viruses, and that those viruses would circulate extensively enough to affect human health, “stretches scientific rationality to the breaking point”, he said. “I would be much more concerned about the hundreds of millions of people who will be displaced by rising sea levels.”

And rather than diseases being released by melting ice, some argue that as Earth warms northern countries will become more susceptible to outbreaks of “southern” diseases like malaria, cholera and dengue fever, as these pathogens thrive at warmer temperatures.

In warmer countries climate change is already having a devastating effect on people’s health. In central America incidences of chronic kidney disease are on the rise, and are being blamed on increased dehydration as hotter days become more frequent.

Non-Meeting After-Party

As the dust settles on the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) ‘non-meeting’ on Kashmir, few points are worth noting. Some will calm nerves, while others demand serious action. First, the UN keeps no record or minutes of these ‘informal, closed-door consultations’.

So, for Pakistan’s leaders to project the hour-long confab as a monumental development is delusional.

Second, while China managed to organise something resembling a get together, it was in a glaring minority of one — or may be two, if you take Britain into account. Britain’s convenient position: we won’t propose a meeting, but don’t mind if someone else does.

Well, trying to have your cake and eat it too goes only so far, especially for a Brexit-ing power. Third, the US was unambiguously in India’s corner. As was France, the original ‘strategic partner’.

This means the little flirtation with ‘mediation’ by US President Donald Trump is over. The US stand at the UNSC was, perhaps, a demonstration, that the policy process survives, that the overall strategic partnership is in good-ish health after a short fever, and that India’s importance in the larger arc of where Washington wants to be in Asia remains high.

One need just look at the White House read-out on Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s SOS to Trump before the UNSC consultations: the “president conveyed the importance of India and Pakistan reducing tensions through bilateral dialogue regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir” — bilateral being the operative word. Painful as it might be for Khan to endure, his 15 minutes of fame with Trump are over. Pakistan is back to square one, with no strategy except threats, terrorism and pleading with China — and, er, post-colonial Britain.

No wonder Khan has taken to tweeting dangerously into the night, using big and alarming words about India in random order. Level-headed Pakistanis are embarrassed, for it won’t further his country’s case with the Americans. Still, there’s no room for complacency.

Pakistan will keep trying, and China will use the opportunities as they come. Fourth, the larger Muslim world did not come to Pakistan’s rescue, a fact openly acknowledged by Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, when he asked Pakistanis to not live in a ‘fool’s paradise’.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member States have more stakes in India than in Pakistan, compulsions of religious brotherhood notwithstanding. If anything should stir a rethink in Pakistan about its Kashmir-obsession and terrorist-friendly policies, this should.

Fifth, the newly emergent ‘leader of human rights’, China, should be aware that ‘informal consultations’ can also be held about its treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang province. The US has already begun raising concerns at the UN about ‘re-education camps’ there.

The US was worked up about Uighurs during a UNSC meeting in July on ‘preventive diplomacy in Central Asia’, where members discussed how best to secure the rights of minorities. Is Beijing ready for transparency? Meanwhile, the astounding protests in Hong Kong continue.

Sixth, the role of Russia should also be noted now that Moscow has somewhat different predilections. The very fact that Russia was prepared for a closed-door meeting shows the relationship is in a different place from where it was in the 1970-80s. Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN Dmitry Polyanskiy didn’t help matters when he invoked ‘relevant UN resolutions’ in his tweets. Maybe something was lost in translation, but the fact remains that Russia accommodated China, its go-to friend these days. One can ‘understand’, but one needn’t paper over facts.

Seventh, Indian diplomats did an amazing job sensitising their interlocutors in New York, Washington, Paris and Berlin. India’s permanent representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin won the day when he answered questions after the ‘non-meeting’, including from Pakistani journalists.

The Chinese and Pakistani ambassadors, by contrast, took no questions and ran for cover after making their self-serving statements. Finally, the battle of the narratives in the ‘free world’ needs urgent attention.

India is in some trouble. Its democratic credentials are under pressure with large-scale house arrests of political leaders and a forced digital silence in Kashmir. Yes, BJP supporters can dismiss all criticism as ‘motivated’.

To fight the battle in the arena will be more difficult than denouncing the usual op-eds in The New York Times and Washington Post.

The image-making exercise should extend beyond India’s borders. (General reporting in major US newspapers was fair, though, for the most part. It was the opinion pages where critics dominated and there wasn’t a fancy name arguing India’s position.) Like it or not, newspapers remain the first draft of history in the West, and newspapers over there are important if you want to fight the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-inspired narrative.

Latin America Is About to Abandon Democracy

Latin Americans are growing dissatisfied with democracy. According to the multinational polling service Latinobarómetro, only 48 percent of Latin Americans polled favored democracy over authoritarianism; 28 percent of those polled said democracy is not necessarily preferable to authoritarianism. That is the highest percentage skeptical of democracy since 1995, when Latinobarómetro began tracking this trend.

People from the following nations were most likely to say it does not matter whether a nation has a democratic government or not: El Salvador (54 percent), Honduras (41 percent), Brazil (41 percent), Mexico (38 percent), Panama (34 percent), Guatemala (34 percent) and the Dominican Republic (29 percent).

During the late 1970s, dictators ruled 17 out of 20 Latin American nations. Today, nearly every Latin American nation except Cuba and Venezuela have a democratic form of government. But an increasing number of people yearn for a political strongman who can solve problems like corruption, crime and inequality.

“The reason for this failure of democracy goes beyond the political,” wrote Maria Ariana in an August 27 Time editorial titled “Latin Americans Are Souring on Democracy. That’s Not So Surprising Considering the Region’s History.” “Just as silver brought wealth to the Spanish elite but unspeakable cruelty to native Americans, an extractive society and an unrestrained illegal drug trade have brought riches to a very few and conflagration to the overwhelming many.”

In El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala, drug cartels rule many cities, weakening democracy and the rule of law. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has reinstated commemorations of the 1964 coup that ushered in 21 years of military dictatorship. Bolsonaro is advised on foreign policy by Prince Luiz Philippe de Orléans e Bragança, a royal descendant of both Holy Roman Emperor Francis ii and Brazilian Emperor Pedro ii. Bragança’s uncle, Prince Bertrand de Orléans e Bragança, claims that Bolsonaro’s election is the first step toward restoring the Brazilian monarchy. Roughly 11 percent of Brazilians would like to see this happen.

Latin America and the world are headed for an age of strongmen. The Bible prophesies that 10 kings (or dictators) will partner with a false church and lend it their political and military power. The late Herbert W. Armstrong explained in his classic booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? that these 10 kings are 10 authoritarian leaders who will reign over a union of 10 European nations in the tumultuous days before Jesus Christ’s return. Roman Catholicism will be the ideological glue that binds these 10 nations together; that religion will also bind many other nations to this empire.

Latin America has the largest population of Catholics in the world. The Holy Roman Empire colonized Brazil and the rest of Latin America in the 16th century. Naturally, Europe would develop an increasingly powerful alliance with South America. The nations of Latin America will turn their back on American-style democracy and come under the influence of authoritarian European leaders. They may even turn to some authoritarian leaders of their own, caudillos with the power to carry out Europe’s agenda in Latin America. The most significant factors that will cement this connection are religion and language: Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion of Latin America …. But it will not be a union of equals: The Latin American countries will become vassal states to Europe!

Anyone who knows the bloody history of this empire knows this is terrifying news for the near future. Yet it is all part of a plan explained in your Bible.

The fact that less than half of Latin Americans favor democracy as the best form of government shows how easy it will be for this region to align itself with the authoritarian strongmen of the Holy Roman Empire. 

Saturday Special: Progress of evolution in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The study of evolution allows us to reconstruct the past and to understand how life evolved from simple to complex organisms. Evolutionary reasoning can help us make sense of the biggest questions in science, from the origin of the universe to the inner workings of the human brain.

But can evolution also give us a hint of what is to come? Will technologies like gene editing make natural selection redundant? Might evolution tell us about the limits of planetary resources and what can be done to avoid environmental collapse, or how human society might evolve?

The late Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner addressed these questions in a year-long lecture series in 2017 that took a 14-billion-year scientific odyssey through cosmology, chemistry, biology, paleontology, archaeology, anthropology and sociology.

1. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, new gene-editing tools are likely to overtake biological evolution

People have always wondered whether evolution is constantly driving onwards and upwards. Is there always going to be an improvement? The answer is no—evolution is a progression of form and function, but it is not purposeful.

Brenner said, “The big lesson to learn here is that in science, only mathematics is the art of the perfect. Physics is the art of the optimal, and biology is the art of the satisfactory: if it works, you keep it; if it doesn’t, you get rid of it.”

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, “satisfactory” may no longer be the status quo. We are now witnessing the most revolutionary stage of evolution, when we give up evolving by biology alone. With new life sciences tools such as CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, we are now able to reshape genomes and alter biological form and function.

The quest for human perfection through gene editing has already begun. In November 2018, Chinese scientist He Jiankui claimed to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies. In June 2019, Russian scientist Denis Rebikov announced similar plans to edit the DNA of human embryos to confer immunity to HIV. These developments present new ethical challenges and have triggered calls for a global moratorium on heritable gene editing.

The potential to accelerate and direct the course of biological evolution raises further questions, the most urgent of which is how to manage collateral changes to the environment. Such concerns have led the European Union’s highest court, the Court of Justice, to rule in July 2018 that gene-edited crops should be subject to the same stringent regulations as conventional genetically modified organisms.

Plant breeders and scientists have called the EU ruling overly rigid, as it requires all CRISPR-Cas9 food to go through a lengthy approval process, essentially grinding agricultural gene editing research to a halt.

2. The arrival of the Anthropocene may lead to a global tipping point

When massive volcanoes erupted 252 million years ago, it triggered the Great Dying, a mass extinction event that wiped out 96 percent of all marine life and 70 percent of all vertebrates on land. Some 186 million years later, a giant asteroid hit the Earth, causing catastrophic changes in climate that brought an end to the era of the dinosaurs.

As anthropologist J. Stephen Lansing explained, there is growing consensus that the arrival of humankind has similarly ushered in a new epoch called the Anthropocene. Unlike every epoch, era or eon before it, the Anthropocene’s climate and environment are thought to be predominantly influenced by human activity.

The advent of the Anthropocene may also bring Earth to an imminent tipping point—a non-linear change that is known to ecologists as regime shifts, where the effects are not proportionate to the cause.

One possible tipping point is plastic. Under business-as-usual, the ocean is expected to contain more plastic than fish by 2050, with untold effects on the fish themselves and the humans who eat them. Plastic aside, there is new evidence that there could be a slowdown in the global meridional circulation, the ocean’s great conveyor belt that is responsible for moving heat and nutrients on a planetary scale.

Rapid urbanization might represent another tipping point, dwarfing the impacts of climate change and the acidification of our oceans. In 2014, the G20 nations agreed to invest US$70 trillion in new infrastructure by 2030, which translates into 25 million more kilometers of roads and hundreds more dams, 90 percent of which will be built in the tropics.

But there are still rare signs of hope in this age of the Anthropocene and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Take the problem of ozone depletion, which was initially dismissed by industry players. Rigorous scientific evidence later convinced world leaders to recognize the problem and act decisively, making the Montreal Protocol to ban ozone-depleting chemicals the world’s first universally ratified treaty.

3. There is a need to take a humble view in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

For the good part of human civilization, most people believed that the future was pre-ordained by the gods, fate or other forces of the universe, and that only prayer could change one’s destiny. It was only from the middle of the 18th century that people came to realize that the future could be different from the past, and that their destiny could lie in their hands.

This new way of looking at the future, of seeing it as a wide, open horizon rather than a circular loop, had much to do with science and technology, according to social scientist Helga Nowotny.

But the focus on—and even obsession with—technological innovation might cause us to overlook that social innovation is just as important. The more technological innovations we create, the more social innovations we need to accompany them.

The field of medicine, for example, is undergoing amazing technological disruption. But its full potential cannot unfold without equally innovative changes in how health systems are run and how healthcare is delivered. Advances in our ability to exploit expansive data has brought us into the realm of smart devices and artificial intelligence, but at the same time, has changed our outlook on privacy and security.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Nowotny cautioned that we should be careful to avoid hubris – the over-estimation of our capacity and our over-reliance on a single solution – be it a technological or economic fix that does not take into consideration the complexity of societal systems.

The humble view acknowledges that technology, science and culture must evolve together, and that life will continue to change in unpredictable ways that we cannot entirely control. We have the privilege of being the only species on Earth that is able to see evolution from the inside. That obliges us to reflect on what we are doing with evolution, as it is our own choices that will guide our evolutionary destiny

Pakistan Scared of Indian Success

The core problem is that if India becomes a mighty economic superpower and Pakistan remains a bankrupt nuclear power, then the whole exercise of breaking India to make a nation for the ‘pure’ could become meaningless. There is nothing that the military men next door would like more than to see the Indian economy collapse once more into that socialist sluggishness that kept it behind Pakistan right up to the end of the Licence Raj.

Some years ago when relations with Pakistan were in a good season, the Indian cricket team went on tour to the Islamic Republic. When they played in Lahore, many Indian cricket fans crossed the border to lend the team support. The Indian economy in those days was bursting with animal spirits. So among these fans were Indian industrialists who descended in private jets. A Pakistani friend said later that it was when they saw those private jets arrive that they first realised how far ahead of Pakistan the Indian economy had gone. It was good to see, she added, that it was not just Arab billionaires who were having all the fun. But, I knew from the way she said this that actually most Pakistanis were not happy about this.

As someone who knows Pakistan well, I learned long ago that nothing frightens Pakistanis more than the possibility that India could succeed and Pakistan fail. It may seem from Imran Khan’s recent rantings about the ‘fascist, Hindu Supremacist Modi government’ that it is Kashmir that Pakistanis care about more than anything. This is not true. Kashmir is not the ‘core problem’ between India and Pakistan as military men and jihadists next door like to say. The core problem is that if India becomes a mighty economic superpower and Pakistan remains a bankrupt nuclear power, then the whole exercise of breaking India to make a nation for the ‘pure’ could become meaningless.

India is already stronger economically, but we would have been much, much stronger if we had not reverted to economic policies that seek to redistribute wealth without first creating it. This is why for me the most important point that the Prime Minister made in his Independence Day speech was his tribute to India’s ‘wealth creators’. They are ‘the wealth of the country’, he said. True. And, they have been treated like criminals by regulators and tax inspectors who have been emboldened because of the search for ‘black money’ getting more importance than the creation of wealth.

The Prime Minister is now showing signs that he has noticed why the economy is in gloomy mode. He gave his first interview after winning his second term to a financial newspaper last week and said, “I want to motivate our industrialists to believe in the India story and in the long-term potential of the Indian market… I reassure all honest and law-abiding businesses of all possible support from our end.” There is a catch in the latter part of this message that he would do well to think about. The officials who adjudicate on which businessmen are ‘honest’ are often dishonest, greedy extortionists who revel in harrassing people who create wealth. Enraged by New Delhi’s abrogation of Article 370 granting special status to Kashmir, and turning the state into a Union Territory, Islamabad is once again threatening to close its airspace for all flights from and to India.

Following the Balakot airstrike, Pakistan imposed a flight ban which lasted for 138 days, and cost the country several hundred crores, which it could ill afford, by way of loss of overflight fees which carriers are obliged to pay for the privilege of using a nation‘s airspace.

Now – having failed to get the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to issue a formal statement on Kashmir, and so `internationalising’ what New Delhi holds to be an internal issue – Islamabad is throwing a self-destructive temper tantrum by once again closing its airspace to spite India.

However, while India’s economy is currently facing a slowdown, it remains the fastest growing in the world, while Pakistan’s economy is struggling for survival in an ICU, so much so that when Prime Minister Imran Khan recently made his first visit to the US to meet President Trump, to save money he travelled to Washington by a commercial flight rather than a special plane, and stayed the Pakistani ambassador’s residence to avoid paying for an hotel room.

Imran Khan’s shambolic austerity measures should prompt the people of Pakistan – if not its New Delhi-obsessed politico-military establishment – to ask if their country can really afford to punish itself by trying to punish India, because every time it does so it takes one step closer to not just economic, but also to ideological and moral bankruptcy.

This is why we have seen businessmen publicly humiliated. They like to arrest people at airports. They like to conduct tax raids with TV reporters following their every move. What seems to add spice to their jobs is the fifteen minutes of fame they get from being momentarily in the public eye. This is probably why they never investigate why black money exists in the first place. If they did, they would quickly discover that at the root of it lie bad laws, asphyxiating red tape and intrusive regulations. Since the Prime Minister has now made it clear that he respects the men who create India’s wealth, it could be time for him to set up a task force in his own office to examine these things.

India has the capacity to become the richest country in the world if the business of doing business is left to businessmen. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was prime minister, he unleashed the private sector and it was in that happy time that those private jets landed at Lahore airport, making Pakistanis nervous about what us infidels were up to. When they saw that it was prosperity that we were in search of, the planning for 26/11 began. It is no accident that it was Mumbai that was attacked and that Hafiz Saeed’s jihadists were sent to attack the Oberoi and the Taj. No accident that they had orders to target foreign tourists.

There is nothing that the military men next door would like more than to see the Indian economy collapse once more into that socialist sluggishness that kept us behind Pakistan right up to the end of the Licence Raj. I remember that when I first went to Lahore I was stunned by how prosperous it looked compared to Delhi. At the height of those bleak socialist days, our capital city was defined by those bhavans at the foot of Raisina Hill. In their smelly, ugly corridors, officials beavered away at making India a place in which no businessmen would want to invest and no tourists would want to come. Those were times that were the exact opposite of ‘achche din’( good days)

India must join US in seeking reforms to WTO

Donald Trump has punctured the notion that the US will support India’s rise as the only Asian nation that can credibly check China’s hegemony in the 21st century. Instead, he declared last week that both China and India are unfair traders hurting the US economy and must stop. He has long blasted India as a “tariff king” because of its high import duties, which keep rising every budget.

Trump says China, India and others have been taking unfair advantage of the “special and differential” status given to developing countries by the World Trade Organisation. While India and China may have once been poor countries meriting trade concessions, they are now strong enough to hurt US jobs and economic prospects. Trump seeks to challenge the entire WTO structure on non-reciprocal concessions for developing countries.

His argument may be inconvenient for India, but is reasonable. The distance between advanced and developing countries has been changing fast, and global rules need to adjust accordingly. Special treatment for all poor countries need not be abolished. But countries can be asked to graduate from the lowest to highest levels of development, getting fewer and fewer concessions as they rise up the development ladder. China must be graduated to fully advanced country status immediately. India should join the USA on this.

In the WTO, rich countries have slashed their tariff and non-tariff barriers over several rounds of tariff cutting since World War II. However, developing countries have been allowed to keep higher tariff and non-tariff barriers, higher subsidies and longer time frames for imposing safeguard duties.

Developing countries were once objects of charity. In 1995, when the WTO was created as a successor to GATT, China’s per capita income was just $592 per year, and India’s just $350 per year. They were called the biggest beggars for foreign aid.

Things are very different today. Globalisation has seen manufacturing industries close down in the US and migrate to developing countries. China’s per capita income is now almost $9,000 per year and India’s almost $2,000. The US is much higher at $62,000. India and China have large populations of over 1.3 billion each, making them massive markets in which all top multinationals feel they have to invest. In purchasing power parity terms (which adjust for low prices in poorer countries), China now has the largest GDP in the world, beating the US. India comes a distant third.

China is way ahead of India. It is now the world technology leader in areas like 5G telecom, solar panels, mass storage batteries and cybersecurity. That is why western nations see it as a security threat.

Trump threatens to exit the WTO if the rules are not changed. That will wreck WTO, which the world as a whole needs badly to oversee trade disputes. No doubt, Trump is a big bully. However, his argument on WTO rules is strong enough to be adopted by presidents who follow him. To persuade the US to stay, fresh thinking is needed on WTO rules.

Rather than oppose Trump tooth and nail, India and other developing countries should acknowledge the need for WTO reform. This does not mean abolishing all special and differential treatment, but means reducing and fine-tuning it.

Perhaps the WTO should specify four levels of development meriting separate levels of concessions. Low-income countries with a per capita income below $1,000 could continue to get all the benefits available today. Countries with a per capita income of between $1,000 and $5,000 could graduate to a reduced set of concessions. Those between $5,000 and $8,000 could graduate to still fewer concessions. And those above $8,000 could be graduated fully and treated as advanced countries.

These are no more than first thoughts. The WTO works on consensus, and that makes reforms very difficult. Even a single dissenter can stall reform. Maybe the voting rules should change. Developing countries have long prized the unanimity rule in WTO as protection from changes imposed by the rich countries. In fact, the rich countries have simply side-stepped WTO and entered into bilateral trade agreements giving far fewer concessions than WTO allows. The unanimity rule in WTO has turned out to be of illusory benefit and needs to change.

Trump is obviously right in saying China does not merit concessions as a developing country. But India and other poorer countries do merit concessions that are phased out as they get richer. Some such new thinking is badly needed to save WTO. That will remain true whether Trump is re-elected or not.

Russia and China are preparing to exploit a warming planet

Hurricanes, floods, and wildfires aside, climate change is delivering another threat: a remaking of geopolitics that stands to empower some of America’s adversaries and rivals.

As Arctic ice melts, Russia stands to gain access to oil and gas fields historically locked beneath northern ice — and is building up capability to launch cruise missiles from newly navigable waters to threaten America’s coastlines.

As polar seaways open up, China is eyeing a new “Polar Silk Road” — shorter shipping routes that could cut weeks off of shipping times from Asia to Europe.

And as drought drives more farmers and herders off their lands, extremist groups in Africa and the Middle East are finding fresh recruits. These are just some of the ways climate change stands to reshape the power dynamics between nations.

Climate change is “making all of our challenges — whether it’s terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, violent extremism or great power competition between China and Russia — that much more challenging,” said Sherri Goodman, a former deputy undersecretary of defense who led studies of climate impacts on national security for the Center for Naval Analyses.

Some of the biggest power shifts are around the Arctic, which Goodman called “ground zero for the nexus of national security and climate change. In our lifetime, a whole new ocean has opened up because with climate change the sea ice is retreating, the oceans are warming and the permafrost is collapsing.”

A global quest for resources is already underway in the Arctic, said Goodman, now a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center Polar Institute. “There are thought to be vast stores of fossil fuels, oil and gas and minerals across the Arctic that have not yet been tapped. Russia is doing so today across its vast Arctic coastline with the help of China,” she said.

Russia is vying for control of Arctic seaways and has built some 40 icebreakers — ships that can channel through ice. “Russia envisions under Putin a northern sea route that is essentially a toll road that requires Russian Arctic escorts in the form of icebreakers or other patrol boats, escorting not only the Chinese but others who want to ship across the Arctic,” she said. By contrast, the U.S. has only two icebreakers, she said.

Meanwhile, China, which is not a polar country, has launched aggressive Arctic diplomacy and gained non-voting observer status for itself at the Arctic Council, the international forum that addresses policy in the Arctic. Last year, China issued its first arctic policy.

“It envisions a Polar Silk Road that stretches from Shanghai across potentially to Hamburg and Reykjavik and parts of Europe across Russia’s vast northern sea route hugging the Russian coastline and both exploiting the energy resources there, potential transport opportunities, shipping, research,” Goodman said.

President Donald Trump’s interest in buying Greenland was driven in part by resources newly available because of melting ice. The Danish government quickly rebuffed the idea, but the incident could be seen as an acknowledgment of climate change from a leader who has derided global warming as a hoax.

Climate change poses additional security consequences. U.S. military bases at home and abroad have already been strained by destructive hurricanes and flooding that have cost billions of dollars to repair — and extreme weather has stretched thin the disaster response capabilities of the military. When hurricanes hit Florida and Puerto Rico and the East Coast of the United States in 2017 and 2018, the military had to slow the flow of forces to Afghanistan in order to be able to provide relief at home. Meanwhile, troops have to operate in higher temperatures across Asia and the Middle East, where temperatures now regularly are over 100 degrees and face a broader array of infectious diseases.

Florida’s Tyndall Air Force Base incurred billions of dollars in damage from Hurricane Michael in 2018 when winds tore through the roofs of hangars and destroyed buildings. Congress has in recent years directed the Department of Defense to address the climate resilience of military bases and climate risks to operating forces. “The Department of Defense is beginning to integrate these risks into its strategy plans and plans,” Goodman said.

Another geopolitical threat is migration — whether from low-lying island states that stand to lose fresh water drinking supply or coastal areas susceptible to typhoons. Prolonged drought is believed to contribute to conflicts in the Middle East. “We know that in Syria the prolonged drought that preceded the civil unrest there was a contributing factor to that unrest, which became instability, which led to the violent extremism, which has become the deadliest civil war in modern times,” she said.

Elsewhere, drought-prone countries are buying up land to grow water-intensive crops in what is called the “virtual water” trade. For example, China has been buying agricultural land in the U.S. and Europe to harvest water-intensive crops such as alfalfa.

Simon Dalby, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, told the podcast that the geopolitical consequences can be difficult to predict. He cited the impacts of a 2010 drought in Russia which led the Kremlin to limit wheat exports, setting off a chain reaction.

“International markets panicked. The price went up quickly — and it is indeed suggested that in fact part of the Arab Spring was partly a response to those price fluctuations. So political disturbances across the Middle East might indeed have been related to the drought in Russia, which was probably at least partly caused by climate fluctuations. So this is where we see how dramatically the global economy and the ecology is interconnected,” he said.

The world will need emergency stockpiles of food and disaster relief aid, he said. And, he noted, while warming may open up certain regions to new agriculture, unpredictable rainfall and flooding can wreak havoc on crops. “This is much trickier than simply saying, ‘Oh because it’s warmer, Russia will do better.’ It’s not that simple,” he said.

Climate change is transforming agriculture itself. Increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere ramps up photosynthesis and makes crops grow more quickly. But the phenomenon has been shown to reduce nutrient density in some crops, like rice. Researchers have begun studying how many people might be at risk for iron or zinc deficiency as a result.

Like governments, businesses are studying how to address long-term risks to their business models, said Gary Litman, vice president for global initiatives at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We definitely need to prepare, to adjust, to adapt to climate change to mitigate the impact of the industry on climate,” he said. But he added that it’s part of a broader pressure on companies to address long-term environmental sustainability and compete for increasingly scarce resources. “We’re dealing with finite resources. There’s not going to be more cobalt on this planet. There is not going to be new soil on this planet. There is not going to be a new oxygen on this planet,” he said.

He noted that advanced technologies, such as batteries, require rare metals. “You cannot address the climate issue — you cannot prepare, for example, for the rise of the oceans — if you don’t invest in new construction materials. How do you build the dam? If you use the current resources, you’ll run out of gravel before you build anything. If you don’t have access to reliable supply of cobalt, you won’t be able to switch to e-mobility,” he said.

Weekend Special: Humans Aren’t Designed To Be Happy

A huge happiness and positive thinking industry, estimated to be worth US$11 billion a year, has helped to create the fantasy that happiness is a realistic goal. Chasing the happiness dream is a very American concept, exported to the rest of the world through popular culture. Indeed, “the pursuit of happiness” is one of the US’s “unalienable rights”. Unfortunately, this has helped to create an expectation that real life stubbornly refuses to deliver.

Because even when all our material and biological needs are satisfied, a state of sustained happiness will still remain a theoretical and elusive goal, as Abd-al-Rahman III, Caliph of Córdoba in the tenth century, discovered. He was one of the most powerful men of his time, who enjoyed military and cultural achievements, as well as the earthly pleasures of his two harems. Towards the end of his life, however, he decided to count the exact number of days during which he had felt happy. They amounted to precisely 14.

Happiness, as the Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes put it, is “like a feather flying in the air. It flies light, but not for very long.” Happiness is a human construct, an abstract idea with no equivalent in actual human experience. Positive and negative affects do reside in the brain, but sustained happiness has no biological basis. And – perhaps surprisingly – I reckon this is something to be happy about.

Nature and evolution

Humans are not designed to be happy, or even content. Instead, we are designed primarily to survive and reproduce, like every other creature in the natural world. A state of contentment is discouraged by nature because it would lower our guard against possible threats to our survival.

The fact that evolution has prioritised the development of a big frontal lobe in our brain (which gives us excellent executive and analytical abilities) over a natural ability to be happy, tells us a lot about nature’s priorities. Different geographical locations and circuits in the brain are each associated with certain neurological and intellectual functions, but happiness, being a mere construct with no neurological basis, cannot be found in the brain tissue.

In fact, experts in this field argue that nature’s failure to weed out depression in the evolutionary process (despite the obvious disadvantages in terms of survival and reproduction) is due precisely to the fact that depression as an adaptation plays a useful role in times of adversity, by helping the depressed individual disengage from risky and hopeless situations in which he or she cannot win. Depressive ruminations can also have a problem solving function during difficult times.

Morality

The current global happiness industry has some of its roots in Christian morality codes, many of which will tell us that there is a moral reason for any unhappiness we may experience. This, they will often say, is due to our own moral shortcomings, selfishness and materialism. They preach a state of virtuous psychological balance through renunciation, detachment and holding back desire.

In fact, these strategies merely try to find a remedy for our innate inability to enjoy life consistently, so we should take comfort in the knowledge that unhappiness is not really our fault. It is the fault of our natural design. It is in our blueprint.

Advocates of a morally correct path to happiness also disapprove of taking shortcuts to pleasure with the help of psychotropic drugs. George Bernard Shaw said: “We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.” Well-being apparently needs to be earned, which proves that it is not a natural state.

The inhabitants of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World live perfectly happy lives with the help of “soma”, the drug that keeps them docile but content. In his novel, Huxley implies that a free human being must inevitably be tormented by difficult emotions. Given the choice between emotional torment and content placidity, I suspect many would prefer the latter.

But “soma” doesn’t exist, so the problem isn’t that accessing reliable and consistent satisfaction by chemical means is illicit; rather that it’s impossible. Chemicals alter the mind (which can be a good thing sometimes), but since happiness is not related to a particular functional brain pattern, we cannot replicate it chemically.

Happy and unhappy

Our emotions are mixed and impure, messy, tangled and at times contradictory, like everything else in our lives. Research has shown that positive and negative emotions and affects can coexist in the brain relatively independently of each other. This model shows that the right hemisphere processes negative emotions preferentially, whereas positive emotions are dealt with by the left-sided brain.

It’s worth remembering, then, that we are not designed to be consistently happy. Instead, we are designed to survive and reproduce. These are difficult tasks, so we are meant to struggle and strive, seek gratification and safety, fight off threats and avoid pain. The model of competing emotions offered by coexisting pleasure and pain fits our reality much better than the unachievable bliss that the happiness industry is trying to sell us. In fact, pretending that any degree of pain is abnormal or pathological will only foster feelings of inadequacy and frustration.

Postulating that there is no such thing as happiness may appear to be a purely negative message, but the silver lining, the consolation, is the knowledge that dissatisfaction is not a personal failure. If you are unhappy at times, this is not a shortcoming that demands urgent repair, as the happiness gurus would have it. Far from it. This fluctuation is, in fact, what makes you human.

Immigration Benefits & Costs Canada Heavily

Is immigration always beneficial? A reality check would reveal that there is a huge cost to the country. In a recent campaign speech, Maxime Bernier, leader of the People’s Party of Canada, cited the results of one of our studies, which showed that recent immigrants are imposing a heavy fiscal burden on Canadians. He used this information to justify his plan to reduce future levels of immigration.

The CBC had journalist Jonathon Gatehouse do a “fact check” of Bernier’s claim about the fiscal burden. In a publication sponsored by the CBC, he concludes that this claim is “false.” Since this verdict implies that our study also reached false conclusions, we feel compelled to do our own fact check of the analysis produced by Gatehouse.

The author makes much of the well-known fact that immigrants have a positive effect on aggregate national income (GDP), which says nothing about the fiscal burden. He also fails to note that recent immigrants have lowered Canada’s per capita income since, according to official statistics, they have lower average incomes than other Canadians.

He also cites a number of published studies and data he considers relevant. They involve well-known facts and again tell us nothing about the fiscal burden. For example, he notes that the gap in the unemployment rate between recent immigrants and native-born Canadian males has narrowed, but neglects to mention that this always happens when an economic boom creates increased demand for labour and leads to the hiring of previously unemployable workers.

Another statistic Gatehouse cited is that the wages received by immigrants who entered the labour market in 2017 were the highest ever. These wages have indeed been increasing every year, along with the wages of all new labour force entrants. The fact that the average incomes of immigrants who arrived in 2006 increased consistently over the following 10 years simply reflects the normal increase in incomes of all workers through time due to increased skills and work experience. As working immigrants go through this cycle, their average income rises relative to the average income of Canadians of all ages.

Estimating the fiscal burden immigrants impose on Canadians requires data on the average taxes paid and government benefits received by immigrants. Data from the 2016 Census also cited by Gatehouse shows that the average income of recent immigrants aged 25-54 continues to fall short of that of non-immigrants, which means they continue to pay less in taxes on average.

In our most recent study we used basic statistics from the previous census and the National Household Survey to estimate that because of Canada’s progressive income tax system, recent immigrants paid much lower income taxes than non-immigrants. We added to this amount other taxes related to income and wealth, such as the GST and capital gains taxes, and concluded that in 2008-09, recent immigrants on average paid $13,100 in tax compared with $18,000 paid by other Canadians, yielding a shortfall of $4,900 per year.

The government publishes statistics on how much it spends to provide different types of benefits. In the absence of all the required information, we assumed that immigrants received the same benefits on average as did other Canadians. This assumption seems reasonable since nearly all spending was on universal health care, social insurance, education, security and conservation of the environment.

In response to criticism, we estimated that with their lower incomes immigrants benefit less from government spending on protection but, because they have more children on average, benefit more from spending on education. The net effect of these adjustments is that immigrants on average receive $414 more than non-immigrants in benefits.

Gatehouse noted that in our study we had not taken account of welfare and other social benefits received by immigrants, which some believe to be excessive and others believe to be less than what non-immigrants receive. We deliberately avoided this controversial issue and assumed simply that both groups received the same average amount of such benefits. The greatest differences between recent immigrants and others is on the tax, not the spending side of the government accounts.

When we combined our estimates of taxes paid and benefits received we found that the average recent immigrant in Canada imposes a fiscal burden of $5,300 annually.

According to government statistics, in 2010 the number of recent immigrants (since 1985) was about 3.7 million. Multiplying this number by $5,300 brings the estimated fiscal burden that year to $20 billion. Since then the stock of immigrants has increased by 250,000 a year and raised the annual fiscal burden in 2018 to over $30 billion.

Canada needs a full discussion of its immigration policy that considers both its benefits, which are discussed by politicians and the media all the time, but also its very real costs, which involve not just the fiscal burden but also traffic congestion, overcrowding of hospitals, schools and recreational facilities, deteriorating environment and lack of affordable housing, which governments cannot address in part because of the fiscal burden. A lot of roads, affordable housing and cleaner environment could be purchased with that $30 billion.

Unshackle Shackled Cleantech Innovation

An overwhelming majority of climate scientists are calling for immediate action to drastically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. But progress is way too slow, considering the short time that remains to avoid catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic climate change.

One reason is that infrastructure in industrialized and emerging economies is caught in a structural carbon lock-in. Cleantech development efforts to decarbonize human activities are behind schedule in nearly all major segments.

We need to close these gaps in technology development quickly if we are to fundamentally reduce human GHG emissions across all sectors.

The necessary stages of innovation

In most of its applications, energy is a regulated commodity in a sector that provides low growth rates and in which competition is hampered by monopolistic market structures. Energy infrastructures are usually in place, but most are capital-intensive and fully developed, thus favoring the prevailing technology over innovative newcomers. If customers do not consider factors such as their carbon footprint or regionality in their purchase decisions, cost is the primary differentiation between competing energy products. In such an environment, innovative entrepreneurs face very difficult circumstances in their quest to establish new products and services.

When taking a closer look at this environment for innovators, we can identify characteristic innovation stages according to which cleantech develops. Based on our work in this field, we consider two phases particularly critical: the first is a very early stage, in which bold ideas must obtain the necessary backing to secure initial funding in order to become a noteworthy research and development collaboration. Here, government and state-level support have to be won and entrepreneurs have to find and assemble the right team of participants for effective developmental collaboration.

The other major challenge is the phase prior to mass-market commercialization. This late-stage challenge centers around convincing utility-scale or institutional investor partners to join the project and carry it into a ‘first-of-its-kind’ mass-market application. The new cleantech hardware or software has to prove it can stand on its own feet with a sustainable business model (see chart above).

It goes without saying that many ventures and ideas deserve to fail because they do not bring with them an innovative effect that is fundamental enough – that carries a significant added value in terms of technology or process. If an endeavor would not result in a self-supporting, profitable business in the mid-term, any funding would be a waste of resources that would be more effectively allocated with other projects. The problem is that too many bright (and profitable) concepts have failed due to structural barriers at these innovation stages.

Access to finance: time for new investors to enter the scene

Established financing procedures usually meet expectations on a specific risk-return ratio. Venture capital (VC) funds, for example, invest in a basket of entrepreneurs, expecting the majority to fail but counting on exceptional success of some of their investments. Their expectations with cleantech investments during the industry’s ‘boom period’ between 2006 and 2011 have been particularly discouraging. The willingness of Sand Hill Road – the street running through Menlo Park and Palo Alto on which many major Silicon Valley VC companies have their offices – to take chances on sustainable technologies has dropped considerably ever since.

Cleantech innovators have so strongly disappointed the expectations of the VC scene, in fact, that funding has dried up considerably. In particular, hardware development in cleantech requires investors to hold their breath for longer due to its capital-intensive upfront investments and exceptionally long development cycles. Institutional investors (such as pension funds, insurances or sovereign wealth funds) control an enormous amount of financial resources. However, they still have a limited impact in cleantech development even though more and more of these funds have announced a focus on sustainable investment.

The number of public-private strategic investment funds is increasing, which allows institutional investors to contribute through minority or majority positions. Given the changing market environment, moving institutional investors towards earlier-stage deals and more high-impact technologies is a chance to revive the cleantech capital scene.

A new role for the public sector

Experts have come up with numerous suggestions on innovative public policy to reduce the ‘risk asymmetries’ for cleantech investors. One of these new approaches is a ‘blended financing’ mechanism such as that proposed by the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Energy Innovations Fund (SEIF), which matches up private funding with public investment. Public investments in blended funds like SEIF would be an important step.

There are several innovative components of an innovation ecosystem to which policymakers can refer. Recent ideas include procurement-based reverse auction mechanisms (in which sellers bid for the prices at which they are willing to sell their goods or services), which would support market-based prices for not-fully-commercialized emerging technologies, or public reinsurance programmes, which would mitigate the early-stage technology risks faced by investors.

Policymakers have an opportunity to build cleantech ecosystems with a ‘magnetic effect’ of attracting both sustainable start-ups and bright minds to their region. If they manage to provide formal business development and investment support to regional cleantech startups, they can contribute to creating innovation ecosystems that reinforce their economic strength with sustainable business ideas. Regions which are undergoing structural changes in the energy transition – such as the lignite-rich regions in western Germany, with their current carbon-intensive generation portfolios – are particularly suited to host future cleantech clusters.

Summary: four steps to speed up the process

Taking all this into account, we have drawn four conclusions around how to increase the success rate of cleantech development and to secure the capital required for collaborative development efforts to make it to the commercialization phase:

1) Scout ideas early

Experts in laboratories and research institutions are not necessarily driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. Even though their ideas might be the next big thing in cleantech development, many researchers and engineers focus on the technical details of their technologies much more than they do on commercialization and securing funding for the upcoming innovation stages. So it is essential to closely monitor ideas which come from laboratories and support innovators in bringing together the right partners for development collaboration.

2) Build cross-disciplinary teams

To be successful, such collaboration should always include both technical and commercial skills in order to carry a project through all innovation stages.

3) Develop new funding mechanisms and integrate investors

It is essential to pave the way for institutional investors. New approaches in blended finance should lower the bar for new investors with patient capital so they can significantly increase their commitment to funding cleantech. Both substantial funding and the will to invest in sustainable projects exist; the key challenge for innovative funds and policymakers is to unlock this potential. As new types of financing structures come into being, the procedural approach is actually secondary. Cleantech startups need patient capital with a longer time horizon and mission-based investment strategies. Approaches like the Sustainable Energy Innovations Fund by the World Economic Forum, Breakthrough Energy Ventures or innovative corporate finance consider these requirements in their set-up.

4) Guide collaboration projects through their innovation stages

Financial support for cleantech entrepreneurs should be complemented by business development support. This includes guidance from people experienced in commercialization throughout all innovation stages to turn ideas from laboratory to scale. Energy innovators-turned-entrepreneurs face often unfamiliar demands: market and competitive landscape analysis, value proposition, product definition and prototyping. New funding mechanisms should therefore include mandatory mentoring components to increase the probability of bridging the critical innovation stages.

PIOs Outperformed All Globally

The appointment of four ministers of South Asian descent in the Boris Johnson Cabinet in Great Britain stirred some excitement in India last month, as it usually happens when people of Indian or sub-continental origin do well or make a splash abroad. This has happened all too frequently in recent years, including when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau drafted several Indian-origin lawmakers into his cabinet.

People of “desi” origin or with strong desi connection have also done well and entered the political mainstream in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, leading some to exult over the reach of the Indian diaspora. In some others, this has occasioned exasperated eye-rolls, since, from all accounts, these immigrants or descendants of immigrants are fully integrated into their country of birth (or adopted country if they are first-gen immigrants) and have little to do with India beyond their origins.

Technically, most people are immigrant descendants from someplace else, so what’s the big deal, they ask. Indeed, there comes a point in time in the life of a diaspora when it ceases to be classified or marked as an outsider. This usually happens with the dropping of the hyphen that is a reminder of its foreign origin. After all, no one identifies Donald Trump as a German-American, although he is only a third-generation descendant of a Bavarian immigrant with the last name Drumpf.

As Trump’s one time advisor Steve Bannon told me recently, he is technically an Irish-American, still observing some of Ireland’s great rituals, but he and his family are fully integrated into the United States and are identified only as Americans. Have people of Indian subcontinent origin reached that stage in America and Great Britain?

One view is that their color (brown/non-white) might make this process slower and more halting. There may still be lingering suspiciously about their fealty and loyalty. Bannon himself is leery of the South Asians in Silicon Valley, where they hold some of the top jobs that involve safeguarding American technological, economic, and strategic primacy. Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella are among the top five tech honchos in the U.S., and inasmuch as they have done brilliantly for their company, there is still a lurking suspicion – evident as a sub-text during Congressional hearings – about their globalist outlook, if not their commitment to the reigning nativist vision of America.

Indeed, no less a person that President Trump tweeted this following a meeting with Pichai earlier this year: “Just met with @sundarpichai, President of @Google, who is obviously doing quite well. He stated strongly that he is totally committed to the US Military, not the Chinese Military.” But in many countries where race is less salient, or at least the color difference is less obvious (eg Mauritius, Guyana, Fiji South Africa etc), People of Indian origin (PIOs) are fully integrated to the extent that they are a co-equal if not a dominant political force, although there is still the occasional nativist uptick.

Much of the integration comes when immigrants and their descendants become part of the political process representing the best interests of the country they were born in, not the country their forbears come from. In fact, during my first visit to South Africa in 1992, many South Africans of Indian origin had little connection or awareness of the country their forbears came from because so severe was their isolation during the preceding apartheid years (they are much more connected now with the reintegration via cricket, entertainment and tourism).

One way people of subcontinental origin have speeded up their integration into the mainstream is by entering politics and the policy arena. The striking thing about the four South Asians in Boris Johnson’s cabinet was the high-profile posts they snagged. Home Secretary Priti Patel is a Brexit supporter, and in that sense, a nativist with strong views on immigration (the joke in the US was Donald Trump will ask to borrow her, not just because her name is “pretty” but also because he needs a strong immigration hand to replace his now departed Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen).

In Canada, Trudeau appointed a Sikh Harjit Singh Sajjan as the defence minister. However, it is in the United States that Indian-origin pols are present in the broadest spectrum – across society and across parties. Nearly 70 years ago, when Dr Amarjit Singh Marwah was campaigning for Dalip Singh Saund, a first-generation clean-shaven Sikh who was running for Congress, he recalls having to hide so that he would not be seen in his turban. Saund won, by a mere 300 votes, despite his opponents playing up his foreignness.

Today, in spite of an uptick in bigotry and racism, Sikhs such as Mastercard’s Ajay Banga and PlanetSpace’s Chiranjeev Kathuria wear their turbaned “Sikhness” proudly as they lead the way in business and entrepreneurship. Most strikingly though, there are droves of Indian-origin people setting policy agenda in the U.S. It took nearly half-century after Dalip Singh Saund became the first Congressman of Indian origin to be elected to the House of Representatives for the next one to arrive (Bobby Jindal in 2004).

But in the 15 years since then, there have been five others, and going by the number of PIO pols, at the state level and in Washington (where many of them are key staff members on the Hill, including chief of staff to lawmakers), there could be more than a dozen over the next decade. Although his links to India was tenuous, it was such a novelty when Jindal became a Congressman and the Governor of Louisiana at the turn of century. Two decades down the line, the prospect of a Kamala Devi Harris vs Nikki Randhawa Haley race for the White House isn’t all that far fetched.

Beyond – and underneath – the political arena itself, PIOs are writing some of the seminal policies in the U.S. Whether it is Ajit Pai heading the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) making a call on net neutrality, or Rohit Chopra at the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) bearing down on Facebook for privacy violations, or Neal Katyal holding forth during the Mueller probe on Special Counsel rules that he authored, these second and third generation PIOs are demonstrating that are fully integrated into a society and country they were born into, and the hyphen that marks their ethnic origins will soon disappear, somewhat like the vestigial organs in the human body.

Islam and Lies Are Arsenal & War Cry of Pakistan

From Twitter to rallies and press conferences leaders of Pakistan are trying to instill violence against India. That they are getting frustrated by International silence, shows by their tweets, which go from trying to compare Nazi Germany to India and even threatening to nuke India. Pakistan has always been a state that lies and lies and then starts believing in their lies as the only truth and convinces their poor public about it.

Till today Pakistanis are convinced that their glorious army won all the wars against India, even as the entire world knows that the army has not won a single war against India. Thus, they started the doctrine of destroying India with a thousand cuts.

Even this has no succeeded but the lies continue.

Some facts:

They said they knew nothing about Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts for ages, even when the Afghanistan head of Intelligence Amarullah Saleh told President Musharraf much before Osama was found, that he was hiding in the vicinity that he was eventually found in. It seems Musharraf had an apoplectic fit and threw the voluminous files, that were given to him by Saleh, back at him.

Pakistan denied they had anything to do with the Mumbai attacks till Kasab spilled the beans that he was from Pakistan.

They fooled the Americans for years that they were with them on the War on Terror, all the time taking billions of dollars and training the Taliban to kill NATO forces. Thousands have died, and one has to wonder what compels the International community to keep giving Pakistan AID and a voice. This from a country whose Prime Minister, Imran Khan, declared at an American forum recently, that Pakistan has about 40,000 terrorists at large.

The list of lies and deceit is endless and well documented by several books written by Pakistani, Indian and Western authors.

Today, high ranking ministers in Pakistan are screaming in rally after rally in their cities and towns to rile up their people against India saying there is a complete shut down in the valley after 370 and 35A was removed and that rivers of blood are flowing. That for the sake of Islam, Allah and the Muslim Ummah they must rise up against India.

Even as they say they cannot get any news from Kashmir; they provide shots of old videos and footage of protests. It is breathtaking how they can get away with two such disparate views—People in Kashmir are dying, there is a complete lockdown and no one is able to report on it, yet they seem to get the latest photos and videos.

The Pakistani media and people must be very naïve to accept two different narratives in the same speech.

But Pakistan is a master at this. You just have to see Pakistani news to know how they claim to be the Victor and Victim in the same sentence!

The absurdity hits one at their press conferences when their Foreign Minister is asked that if the Muslim Ummah is fighting for the people of Kashmir, how come the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain have given Prime Minister Modi their highest Civilian medals! Then Qureshi starts frothing in the mouth and says I will go there personally and tell them what is happening and they will change their minds.

These ministers continue to warn the world in every speech, again and again, that there will be a false flag operation like Pulwama and India will attack Pakistan like in Balakot ( at least they admit India attacked it now) and then Pakistan cannot be restrained as they will use their nukes and the whole world will feel the affect as radiation has no boundaries. This threat is offered to local and International Communities at least 20 times a day, in their speeches, in parliament, rallies, and press conferences for the last two weeks.

Every major minister of Imran’s cabinet seems to be upping the ante on Kashmir without taking into consideration the mandate and support of the people of either Jammu or Ladakh, who are thrilled as being finally recognized as one with India. Even in Kashmir valley, the Gujjars and Bakhrawals are relieved that finally their voices will be heard, as the Abdullah’s and Muftis were only concerned with their Muslim vote banks in some districts of the valley. Even the people who voted for them did not get any benefits as the politician’s personal coffers filled up and their children went to schools abroad and got cushy jobs in India and abroad. This while the youth of Kashmir were encouraged to go on a continuous rampage against the police, and security forces most of whom were fellow Kashmiri Muslims from within the valley. After all the politicians figured the more mayhem there was, the more money the Central government would send to skill and educate the youth and mollify them. This money could be siphoned off by them to get houses all over India and the world.

When Imran Khan and his fellow ministers talk about curfew in the valley not once do they mention the way Kashmiri Hindu Pundits, whose families go back 5,000 years, were killed, raped, and ethnically cleansed from the Kashmir valley almost overnight and have no been able to return to their ancestral lands for almost 30 years because they would have been killed by radical Islamist youth.

While the New York Times and other of their ilk along with the Indian political parties like the Congress, the Communists and local Kashmiri dynasts are quoted ad nauseum by the Pakistani media and ministers— no one seems to care about the forgotten Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims of J& K, who want more than anything else to be a part of India, wholly, with the same accountability for politicians, laws and industry and jobs and an environment where tourism and development will flourish and the youth will have jobs.

Western Monkeys Asian Cats

Across Asia, the focus is turning to multiple geopolitical quarrels. Western powers are back in play, arbitrating. That was the intent when Imran wanted West to mediate nd the latest outburst of Rep Omar shows. Major Asian powers have a responsibility towards the continent as a whole.

One story from the Panchatantra which holds a lesson for students of geopolitics and international relations is that of the clever monkey and the quarreling cats. Seeking to arbitrate between two cats fighting over some leftovers, the monkey brigs in a weighing scale to ensure equal division. Finding one part of the cake bigger than the other, the monkey takes a bite of the bigger slice to make them equal. Finding it has bitten off too much, it takes a bite of the other side to ensure balance. And so it goes on, till the entire cake is devoured.

Divide and rule has been around for ages as a tactic of control and domination. With Japan and the Koreas quarreling, China and India quarreling, Pakistan and India quarreling, the Arabs and the Iranians quarreling, there are so many Asian cats chasing each other’s tail that western monkeys are back in play, arbitrating across Asia.

The story over the past quarter-century was the much-heralded “geo-economic” rise, or resurgence, of Asia. The focus this year seems to be turning to multiple geopolitical quarrels among Asians. That a rapidly retreating Britain would allow its capital city to become a stage for an old South Asian quarrel it facilitated over a century is as much a comment on the monkey’s delusions of past grandeur as on the cats’ lack of wisdom.

Equally, if not more, China’s questioning of India on matters pertaining to territory on one side of its borders sounds fanciful given its quarrels with many neighbours all around. Not long back, a Chinese premier said to his Indian counterpart that when India and China shake hands the whole world looks at them. What was not stated was that some would look with hope and others with concern. Today, when China and India quarrel on the status of Jammu and Kashmir, it could be said again that the whole world looks at them, some with hope and others with concern. The hope this time is that quarreling Asians will bring to a halt the narrative of a “Rising Asia”.

In 2007, the late Lee Kuan Yew, founder-mentor of Singapore, famously said that China and India were the twin engines of the Asian aircraft and that together the two engines would lift the continent as a whole onto a new trajectory of growth. Have we, within the decade, come to a point when “differences turning into disputes”, not just between the two Asian giants but between so many Asian neighbours, could ground the Asian aircraft and delay the dawn of the so-called “Asian century”? Does China imagine its future is secure without Asian stability?

It is no secret that the US is now engaged in a “geo-economic containment” of China, as originally theorised by the Harvard scholar Edward Luttwak in his wonderfully crafted book, The Rise of China and the Logic of Conflict (2012). Of course, the Chinese understand this. Must they, then, pick a quarrel with so many of their neighbours, making many of them turn West, seeking balance? Would a burnt-out power like Britain have the courage to voice concern about human rights in Hong Kong but for the courage, it derives from concerns around Asia? Would it allow anti-India demonstrators to disrupt traffic in the heart of London but for the fact that it sees new opportunities to regain lost influence?

Major Asian powers have a responsibility towards the continent as a whole. No power, howsoever big and powerful, can hope to dominate the continent. Asia will never become China’s backyard the way the US converted western Europe into its backyard after the Second World War. If the US succeeds in the “geo-economic containment” of China it will be because of China’s inability to reassure its neighbours rather then because Asians will once again wish to be dominated by the West.

The real and present challenge for all of Asia is the slowing down of its growth engines. Sure, the global growth engine is itself slowing down, but for most Asian countries the slowdown threatens livelihoods, not merely lifestyles.

For India, the slowdown is even more challenging since it is now clear that it is not merely a cyclical downturn that can be addressed with fiscal and monetary policy intervention but has deep-rooted structural foundations that need urgent fixing. Analysts have pointed to inadequate improvement in labour productivity, reduced rates of saving and investment, inadequate demand constrained by inequalities in wealth and income as structural factors that are holding the Indian economy back.

Many other Asian economies, including China, are facing structural constraints to growth. Given global demographics and income distribution, any hope of restoring momentum to global growth depends vitally on the Asian growth process rebounding. But, for growth to return to Asia, the continent needs geopolitical stability. Asia cannot look to the West for a return to such stability for a variety of reasons. Europe is constrained by a lack of vision and capability while the US is actively engaged in disrupting global growth to ensure its own continued dominance.

Luttwak’s advice for the US leadership was to seek the geo-economic containment of China. However, President Donald Trump has acted as if he is seeking the geo-economic containment of Asia as a whole. Indeed, many in Europe see him as disrupting the prospects for growth in Europe too. As for Latin America and Africa, all hopes of their growth articulated so convincingly a decade ago seem less plausible now.

Against this background, Asian leaderships across the continent have a responsibility to the future. A decade ago, it was hoped across Asia that China and India can offer that kind of leadership to the continent. Today, that hope has receded. If Asians will not shape Asia’s future, who would want to? This question ought to be the agenda for the next meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping.

If innovators can solve India’s problems, they can save the world

From mobile phones to reusable rockets, today we live with inventions that were once considered science fiction. These innovations have also affected our general living standards over the last millennia; the average lifespan has dramatically increased. Younger generations are connected to machines in a way that we never were. Energy continues to be consumed at a massive scale.

To say that innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution have not impacted those on the fringe would be an understatement. However, the fringe continues to pose a challenge in terms of its adoption of disruptive technologies. But can we look at this in an inverted, lateral way? Could the fringe be the source of the next big idea?

What is the fringe?

In the parlance of innovation, the fringe refers to the edge; those use cases that require the maximum deviation. For our purposes, the fringe is India and the subcontinent at large. India lies at the cusp of being both a developing and a developed country. It is no stranger to income inequality; India’s richest 1% hold 58% of the country’s total wealth. Besides India’s geographical diversity, India is also home to a vast diversity of languages. A total of 2% of the Indian population speaks English; the majority of the population use one of India’s 22 main languages. As a result, more than 98% of the population is untouched by technology and its manifestations in English; Alexa and Siri would have a hard time here.

From a road safety perspective, about 150,000 fatalities happen on Indian roads each year – around 400 every day.

Groundwater, the world’s most extracted raw material, supplies and sustains a range of human activity. Yet, because it is invisible and its supply is often taken for granted, it is often inadequately acknowledged. India extracts the most groundwater globally, amounting to 25% of the world’s total.

Air pollution, meanwhile, is increasing at an alarming rate. Particulate air pollution in India – especially in Delhi, the capital city – is consistently bad.

If this is not fringe, then what is? Seen from one angle, India is the world’s solutions provider with a $160 billion IT service industry. Seen from the diametrically opposite angle, these fringe cases put the country and its citizens at risk socially, economically and technologically.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has seen an uptick in technologies which were in research labs 10 years ago. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have started to become integrated into production systems. India needs these technologies to solve these kinds of challenges at the fringe.

What would be some of the advantages? Here is one to start with: if a fringe case is solved via technology or design, it has the potential to be applied anywhere else in the world. The fringe takes care of edge cases, of deviations, of order within the chaos, and acts as a test bed for regression testing of a scenario.

India’s innovation journey

India has been a champion of innovation since antiquity, from Sushruta, the great Indian surgeon of the 6th or 7th century BCE, to the 1,600-year old Iron Pillar of Delhi, a metallurgical marvel. In the modern era, India’s lunar and Mars missions have put her on the space map.

More pertinently, in a 2009 book the Indian-born scholar and leadership expert Navi Radjou coined the term ‘jugaad’ as any frugal solution designed to address a specific socio-economic pain-point. The stimulus for innovation tends to be a complex environment, characterized by diversity, interconnectivity, velocity, ambiguity and scarcity. India has always had all of those in large volumes.

Since Radjou’s book, debate has raged over whether frugal innovation is really sustainable or not and whether India has the capability to produce world-shattering innovation in today’s world. After all, space missions do not solve the basic needs and challenges of daily life within the country.

Opportunities

But there are opportunities galore at the fringe – and if these are solved, with a frugal solution designed for a subset of people or socio-economic stratum, it has the potential to scale to the rest of the world.

Here are some of those opportunities:

a) Language: Language poses one of the biggest challenges in the fringe to bring man and machine together. While a large part of western world can use technologies like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, 98% of the Indian population can still not talk to these machines as fluently as they would communicate in the local dialect, despite having smartphones. There have been attempts by companies to apply AI and machine learning by building massive corpuses of Indian languages, but they have not fared well in terms of dialects that the country possesses – and therein lies an opportunity. Perhaps we need to look back at Sanskrit, and the 4,000 rules with which the ~6th century Indian grammarian Panini formalised the language, and use this as a common transliteration engine for India’s modern dialects. Once this is done, the technique and algorithms could also be applied to make machines understand other languages better.

b) Autonomous driving: Some of the west’s biggest brands are developing autonomous cars. In India, however, driving is no longer a science but an art. From traffic lights not being obeyed to driving in opposite lanes to navigating past every kind of species on the road, an autonomous vehicle here would need much more than an AI system to adjust in micro-seconds and make a decision. It probably needs a change in the algorithm – and this algorithm, once devised, could take on any roads in the rest of the world

c) Sustainability at the fringe: India’s air quality index could become the basis for applying AI and machine learning to solving most of the challenges around climate change, and could provide a new way for the world to look at some of these parameters. There are also opportunities to tip the ecological balance in technologies such as drone-based seed sowing and through predicting water table levels.

There are opportunities galore. It is about looking at them. The ideology has to change to looking for problems at the fringe, and then scaling them for the world. Innovations and solutions can start as a ‘jugaad’ – a local, frugal innovation – but it needs a keen eye to scale them to global proportions.

Today, India stands at the precipice of change. With favourable economic conditions, a noteworthy government with a will and passion to work for its citizens and the world in an attempt to make the world smaller via globalization, India as a fringe can become the innovation crucible of the modern world.

An Evil Culture Sought To Be Revived

The European Commission is trying to revive interest in the culture of the Holy Roman Empire. In 2018, during the European Year of Cultural Heritage, over 6.2 million people took part in more than 11,700 organized events across 37 countries. By the end of 2019, Europe will have hosted thousands of such events. Europe is possibly seeing its largest cultural revival yet. But history and Bible prophecy show that there is a danger in reviving this culture—a danger that few people understand.

The culture of the Holy Roman Empire has not only served as a unifying factor, it has also served as the inspiration of many conquests, religious wars and crusades. Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Maximilian I, Napoleon Bonaparte, Fredrick the Great, Adolf Hitler and many other European leaders have had two things in common: their love for culture and their love for conquest.

For most people, culture is defined by music, food, art and architecture. Culture defines different nationalities. But the culture in the midst of Europe goes beyond that. It transcends national borders and is predominantly shaped by the Roman Catholic Church.

But the culture of the Holy Roman Empire has inspired evil. Every cultural resurgence in Europe has been accompanied by war and bloodshed.

Historians see it as an utter paradox. Some believe it to be an inexplicable contradiction. How can Europe’s most cultured emperors have caused history’s greatest bloodshed? Some believe that these evil dictators abused a wonderful culture for their purposes. The truth is more shocking, but plain for anyone willing to see.

If you understand the culture of the Holy Roman Empire, you will understand why it always brings unparalleled brutality and has led dozens of emperors into a fanatic desire to rule the world. This is well-recorded history with profound implications for today.

One man in particular claimed to be the founder of Christian Europe and culture: Charlemagne. Although he ruled more than 1,200 years ago, his legacy is unforgotten and the central theme of many cultural celebrations.

Charlemagne’s Vision

When Charlemagne was crowned king of the Franks in 761 AD, he knew he needed to ally with the Roman Catholic Church to achieve his goal of building an empire. His role model at the time was Roman Emperor Constantine, the first so-called “Christian” emperor.

But because Christianity didn’t have many supporters in Europe at the time, Charlemagne had to establish the religion.

He sincerely believed in the superiority of Roman culture and the doctrines of the Catholic Church. His biographer, Einhard, recounted that the emperor devoted much time to listen to readings of the books of St. Augustine. His favorite book was The City of God. This book, more than any other, motivated Charlemagne’s vision of conquests. He sought to create an empire with “one God, one emperor, one pope, one city of God.”

Pursuing this goal, he spared no expense of violence. After conquering the Germanic tribes and brutally butchering rebels, Charlemagne established Christian cultural institutions. The spread of Roman-inspired literature, culture and art became known as the Carolingian Renaissance.

Charlemagne didn’t just want conquered territories to submit to his rule; he wanted them to convert to Catholicism and live by it for the rest of their lives, teaching it to their children and future generations. To this day, Europe is predominately Catholic.

Convinced that he was doing God’s will, Charlemagne used some of the bloodiest, torturous methods imaginable to further his cause. “The violent methods by which this missionary task was carried out had been unknown to the earlier Middle Ages, and the sanguinary [bloody] punishment meted out to those who broke canon law or continued to engage in pagan practices called forth criticism in Charles’s own circle,” Encyclopedia Britannica recounts. In Saxony, this process lasted 30 years. A whole generation grew up under Charlemagne’s tyranny before the people accepted their new religion.

Charlemagne could have compromised and allowed the Saxons to practice their own religion within his larger empire. But he didn’t because it wasn’t just about uniting the empire. Previous empires allowed a considerable amount of religious freedom. But Charlemagne had a greater vision than a unified empire.

One example of this is his throne in Aachen Chapel. The chapel later expanded to the Aachen Cathedral, which is today praised as one of Europe’s greatest symbols of cultural heritage. While most of the chapel was constructed with materials from various parts of Europe, Charlemagne’s throne was built from materials from Jerusalem. “[I]t was all about the symbolism; the chapel of Charlemagne was like the new Jerusalem and the imperial throne of Charlemagne the throne of the anointed one,” European-traveler.com explains. Instead of the “anointed one” referring to Jesus Christ, Charlemagne claimed to rule in the place of Christ.

Charlemagne’s love for culture was a fanatic desire to establish “God’s Kingdom” on Earth and rule the world in Christ’s stead. In this kingdom, Charlemagne saw no room for pagans. There is no contradiction in Charlemagne’s love for culture and his desire to subjugate the world. The one motivated the other. Many emperors of the Holy Roman Empire have followed Charlemagne’s footsteps.

But this isn’t just early history. Less than a century ago, another ruler was motivated by the same religious beliefs of Charlemagne. He also wanted to establish God’s rule on Earth. Today, this man is mostly remembered for the evil he brought to this world, but few remember his motivation.

Hitler: A True Culture-Lover

At the time of Hitler’s dictatorship, his cultural program impacted almost everything he did. Hitler’s pursuit to revive European culture is vividly documented in Hitler’s Holy Relics, by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick.

Hitler was a passionate lover of culture. Before he became a brutal dictator, he studied art. His famous work Mein Kampf was edited by a Catholic priest. Religion and culture were always on his mind. After he ascended to power in Germany and became a mass murder, his passion fur culture continued. In fact, it motivated him to do what he did.

Before burning down villages, Nazi soldiers were told to save famous artifacts from various churches and bring them to Germany. Thus the Nazis learned to appreciate artifacts more than human life. Hitler also shaped the arts and architecture of the empire and spared no expense to set up universities, museums and other cultural institutions.

Jewish artists were banned and persecuted, while Nazi artwork was promoted. All paintings were required to portray Aryan families and European tradition. City renovations followed the Nazi empire’s design. Music and movies were used to rally nationalism.

Hitler’s favorite composer was Richard Wagner; his favorite artist, Adolf Ziegler; his favorite architect, Albert Speer. Hitler used the works of these three men to spread his ideology and motivate millions to follow his tyranny. But culture was not only a political tool to Hitler. He saw it as his divine duty to finish what Charlemagne started.

In 1938, Hitler brought the famous crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire back to Nuremberg, the city where prior emperors swore to keep them forever. Their return to the city was a massive cultural event. The centerpiece of these crown jewels is today known as Charlemagne’s crown.

Everyone in Nuremberg and beyond knew about Hitler’s love for these medieval treasures. Hitler celebrated their return to the city with a large-scale ceremony. SS soldiers, dressed in black uniforms, stood at attention. Trumpeters played from the balcony in medieval costumes. Nuremberg’s choral society sang the “Awake” chorus from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, as Hitler entered the sanctuary.

At the ceremony, he is recorded as saying: “In no other German city is there as strong a connection between the past and present … as in Nuremberg, the old and new imperial city. This city, which the German Reich deemed fit to defend the regalia behind its walls, has regained ownership of these symbols, which testifies to the power and the strength of the old Reich … and is manifestation of German power and greatness in a new German Reich.”

As Hitler stretched forth his hand to touch the crown, he said: “The German people have declared themselves the bearers of the 1,000-year crown.” Hitler’s fascination with the Holy Roman Empire spread rapidly through Germany. Millions of Germans traveled to Nuremberg to view the holy relics. In his vision, Hitler saw Nuremberg as the center of his resurrected empire. He wanted to establish the city as a shining light of cultural glory.

The only difference between Hitler’s ambition and that of Charlemagne is that Hitler had tanks to execute his dreams but was stopped before ever reaching his goal.

Today, Hitler is mostly known for starting World War ii and exterminating 6 million Jews. His efforts to resurrect the culture of the Holy Roman Empire are forgotten. And yet he is one of the best examples of where a fanatic love for the culture of the Holy Roman Empire leads.

Europeans today like to refer to Europe’s culture as a “Judeo-Christian” or based on “Judeo-Christian” traditions. By using such phrasing, politicians are attempting to distance themselves from what Hitler did and what neo-Nazis are doing today. But using such languages is dangerously misleading.

The Modern Revival of an Evil Culture

Europe’s “cultural heritage is not only about the past, it is key in building a cohesive, resilient Europe for the future,” EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics said in December 2018. Putting this statement into its historical context should give every reader chills. But such language is used by multiple European leaders today and celebrated by millions.

Hitler said there is a strong “connection between the past and present.” More than anything else, this strong connection is Europe’s cultural heritage.

Why would anyone want to revive this heritage?

Europe’s goals in creating a cultural empire don’t differ much from the past. Europe’s cultural heritage still consists of thousands of Christian churches, castles, monuments, kings, emperors and popes who have shaped that culture. Resurrecting awareness of this heritage is intended to unify Europe’s citizens.

Just as in the lead-up to World War ii, the Holy Roman Empire is being celebrated today. Last September, Aachen, Germany, hosted a weeklong celebration of the Aachen Cathedral, featuring its founder, Charlemagne. Brussels, under the direction of Austria, set up a mini-museum depicting European arts and featuring the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. Austria has continued that theme by celebrating the late Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I with countless events in 2019.

These seemingly peaceful cultural celebrations are deceptive. The Bible talks about such an illusion. Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Europe’s cultural revival may look beautiful on the outside, but don’t be deceived. History shows that the fruits of this empire are grotesque, and no matter how much the Holy Roman Empire tries to portray itself as beautiful, the fruits remain the same. Evil can never produce good.

Every time this empire is resurrected, the first visible sign is the reemergence of the culture of the Holy Roman Empire. That’s exactly what we are seeing today. The promotion of this unifying culture always ends in bloodshed

An Open Letter to POTUS: Why US President Donald Trump should buy Pakistan instead of Greenland

Mr. Donald Trump
President of the United States
White House,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President,

Since you desire to fulfil President Truman’s dream inline with the heritage of the US buying property- I refer to purchase of Alaska from Russia and purchase of Virgin Islands from Denmark-, I have a very appropriate suggestion.  

Why not buy Pakistan – apart from the reason detailed hereinafter, this would also solve the issue of seeking Pakistan’s help in solving peace deal with the Taliban- as US would be talking for and on behalf of Pakistan.

You would also have lovely Swat, Hunza and Chitral which can ideal spots for vacations and golf courses, and all US companies can easily shift from China to Pakistan – taking advantage of One Belt, One Road initiative. The US entrepreneurs shall also be able to use labor of Pakistan-which would be cheaper than that available in China.

Pakistan has recently procured billions of dollars from China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, but it is not even enough to cover the interest payments on past debts. Foreign currency reserves are fast depleting and Pakistan’s debt has jumped to $105 billion in the first quarter of 2019. Pakistan’s total debt and liabilities are now equal to 104.3% of its GDP, which is considered unsustainable by any standard.

You, Mr. President, are an excellent deal maker and here is a golden chance to strike a deal and refurbish Pakistan with democracy, viable economy and high-rise buildings, which would decisively change the destiny of South Asia in the right direction.

The Oxford-educated prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, could do well to strike a deal with you. He shall be happy to sit down with you and sign the sale agreement.The vikings of the north are not in a mood to sell, but if countries and territories can be bought, then Pakistan would be a better deal. Denmark, which has the jurisdiction over Greenland, often tops the list of the world’s happiest countries and is quite happy to be a loyal ally of the United States. To be precise, Denmark has been a loyal U.S. ally since it joined the NATO exactly 70 years ago. Denmark has supported America in all its military adventures like in Afghanistan, as well as it’s misadventures like in Iraq.

Why waste time trying to buy something from Denmark, when it is more than willing to be a good friend? The war in Afghanistan has already cost the United States a total of $975 billion. More than 2,400 Americans have been killed, and some 20,000 American soldiers have been injured while trying to secure peace and create stability in the region. All those lives lost would be in utter vain if America decides to leave in haste, knowing very well that it is the Pakistan-sponsored Taliban-regime that is likely to create havoc in the region, causing even more people to flee brutality and barbarism.

Pakistan’s military and intelligence services dictate the tunes to which the democratically elected government in Islamabad has to dance. They have long seen radical Islamist groups, such as Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the different factions of Taliban, as a strategic investment to steer the development in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Over the years, Pakistan has played a double game, simultaneously offering a safe haven to jihadists like Osama Bin Laden and Taliban members, and taking economic and military support from US to fight terrorism.

Mr. President, you would not have to rush to exit Afghanistan. It would be tremendous positive news if you bought Pakistan. For after an 18-year inconclusive war, the majority of Afghans are nervous for their women’s rights and the possibility to hold free and fair elections.

U.S. represented by envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, has held talks with the Taliban leaders, and as the deadline of September 1 is approaching fast, some sort of deal is expected very soon. It is very likely that this hasty exit strategy could result in chaos. This once again would facilitate darker forces to recapture Kabul, spoiling the entire gain of creating schools for girl students and improvement of women’s rights.

There is so much to gain and so many more lives will improve if you make a proposal to buy Pakistan instead of Greenland, which has a meagre population of 56,000 people. The Greenlandic people have all their rights respected and do not want interference as such. They are willing to cooperate with USA and they would appreciate investments in education and research.

If America is in the habit of buying land and countries, why not propose to Pakistan? Its 200 million people would heave a sigh of relief, wanting to see their government replaced by one that is genuinely democratic, instead of a puppet prime minister, manipulated by the military junta.

The Ahmadiya Muslim minority of Pakistan could then come back and help rebuild their country. For long, India has been yearning for a neighbour that is friendly and kind, competing with it in the field of science and technology, instead of spending a major chunk of its resources in spreading terrorism.

My dear Mr. President you create and leave a legacy by breaking the ice and striking a deal for lasting peace in a region that has seen too many dangerous wars and where radicalised terrorists could possibly grab nuclear weapons.

Greenland is not for sale. it would make more sense to make a similar proposal to Pakistan as you made to Greenland. And, if you succeed in making Pakistan as happy as Denmark, I am sure the Greenlanders might change their mind and would rethink their refusal.

In the meantime, the military bosses of Pakistan and their shoe licking political lapdogs must be licking their drooling lips at the prospect of having billions of green dollars, as Pakistani rupee has lost all its sheen.

As a master deal maker, I suggest Mr. President, make  no delay. I am sure, Imran already has an inkling of this and that is why he gave a three years extension to Gen.  Bajwa, so that military would support him.

The Pakistanis would bless you, the Americans would have a feel of being the greatest empire- having territory in South Asia and another thing, before I forget, You can send all immigrants to Pakistan, as it would a territory of the US.

I am sure you shall heed this piece of advice that shall make you as important as George Washington.

Warm regards

Cordially

Bikram Lamba

Youth Stemming The Tide of Corruption

A deluge of corruption-related news and scandals has recently rocked the world. The President of Guatemala has expelled a key United Nations anti-corruption body from the country. Romania’s anti-corruption chief has stepped down just as the country is taking over the Presidency of the EU. Japan’s Olympic Chief is facing allegations of bribery over Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 games, and the Danske Bank money laundering probe continues to deepen.

This is not filling global youth with hope for the future. Young people continue to name corruption as the biggest challenge they face, according to a survey carried out through the Accountability Lab in conjunction the World Economic Forum. And with good reason – corruption has a high cost for society and the economy. It depletes public funds that should pay for education, healthcare and other basic services sorely needed in those countries most affected by it. Businesses and individuals – mostly the poor – pay more than $1 trillion in bribes every year, which undermines trust, exacerbates inequality and severs the social contract. 

It is easy to get depressed about this. But there are plenty of reasons to believe that 2019 will be the year in which young people turn the tide against this lack of integrity and accountability. A new generation of change-makers is putting anti-corruption and accountability firmly at the centre of their understanding of global leadership across business, politics, media and civil society. 

In business, this clearly showed at Davos 2019, which was chaired for the first time by Global Shapers from the World Economic Forum’s youth network. Accountability for everything from corruption in global corporations to state capture in South Africa were key topics of discussion. These Global Shapers and their contemporaries are leading the way in the corporate world, where now more than ever, young consumers prefer to work and shop at businesses that drive social good.

CEOs understand this. The likes of David Cruickshank at Deloitte and Paul Polman, formerly at Unilever, are speaking out strongly on issues of ethical business. At a recent World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption (PACI) meeting, which included many leading global corporations, there was a clear consensus on the idea that values-based organizations are not just better for the world, but also more profitable in the long-term.

In government, a new generation of politicians and bureaucrats is emerging, pushing for more inclusive, transparent decision-making. In Malaysia, the 27-year-old Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq has not shied away from calling out the kleptocratic behaviour of elites. In Botswana, the 32-year-old Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo is pushing back against unfair business practices. During our recent global Integrity Idol campaign to “name and fame” honest bureaucrats, we found hundreds of young, honest civil servants doing everything from fighting corruption in the police to ensuring fair justice at the local level.

In the media, the ability of youth activists to set a national and global accountability agenda is growing rapidly. Young people are creating news checking sites to combat fake news; bloggers in countries including Nigeria are pushing for decision-making based on openness and honesty; and incredibly brave investigative journalists are taking on corrupt regimes and criminal networks. The proliferation of social media has made it harder for those in power to listen only to dishonest elites. Tech-savvy young media-makers have shown that they won’t be silenced or strong-armed by the corrupt, and are building a collective voice for change.

Finally, a new wave of civic activists is pushing back against the old ways of fighting corruption, and showing real progress. These new groups are nimble and collaborative, not bureaucratic and competitive, and draw on historic lessons from movement-building, theories of strategic non-violent action, and ethnographic approaches within specific contexts. Networks such as Libera are taking on the mafia and “spreading a culture of legality” in Italy; groups such as Al Bawsala are bringing transparency to decision-making in Tunisia; and coalitions such as Africans Rising are effectively supporting people-powered action in countries from Nigeria to Zimbabwe.

Corruption remains arguably the largest impediment to global economic and political progress. But there is a new generation finding creative, collective ways to push back against it.

An episode from English class war still resonates- Manchester revolt

Why should a massacre committed 200 years ago resonate in a Britain teetering on the edge of a no-deal Brexit, with preparations underway to cope with possible food riots and general unrest?

After all, the huge crowd that gathered in Manchester’s St Peter’s Field on Aug 16, 1819, was peacefully agitating mainly for political representation. Back then, the national parliament was elected by only two percent of the population, and the representatives of the richly propertied classes revelled in their ignorance about the condition of the rapidly expanding working class.

It took more than 100 years for universal adult suffrage to arrive, with incremental reforms stretching well into the 20th century. A more immediate effect of the clash in Manchester was even more stringent restrictions on popular mobilisations. Yet it was undoubtedly a shock to the system.

The organisers of the rally had ensured that none of the participants was carrying anything that could be construed as a weapon. Even walking sticks had been surrendered before a crowd of 60,000 from Manchester and neighbouring villages poured into St Peter’s Field, waving banners demanding democracy, eager to hear what the reformist orator Henry Hunt had to say. They were dressed in their Sunday best, and there were numerous women and children among a multitude that had planned on staging a protest and then having a picnic.

It did not turn out that way. Manchester’s magistrates had put the local yeomanry on standby. Seeing the size of the crowd, they read out the riot act and sent for the cavalry. The horsemen, brandishing sabres, slashed their way through the bewildered masses. The rampage left an estimated 18 people dead, including a two-year-old ripped from his mother’s arms, while more than 650 required treatment for their serious injuries. Some of the latter were permanently disabled.

The French Revolution of 1789 was no doubt fresh in the collective European memory, and the fear of a Jacobin-style rebellion may well have contributed to the panic that precipitated Peterloo — as the confrontation in Manchester soon become known, in a punning allusion to the recent battle of Waterloo.

As massacres go, it was not monumental; it hardly bears comparison with, for instance, the mass murder at Jallianwala Bagh 100 years later. Nonetheless, the very idea of British troops mowing down British people at a peaceful rally discomfited many of their compatriots. Although the then prince regent, standing in for his mad father, thanked the regular and irregular soldiers for their efforts, slightly more intellectually gifted members of the ruling class realised that ultimately such terror undermined the goal of preserving their unearned privileges.

Other intellectuals, meanwhile, were positively radicalised by the rulers’ reaction. Percy Bysshe Shelley, living in Italy at the time, relocated to his attic after hearing the news, and composed one of his most stridently political long poems, The Masque of Anarchy, which takes its cue from Manchester to reflect on wider concerns. It contains the immortal call to arms (repeatedly cited in a very different context in Fatima Bhutto’s 2018 novel The Runaways): “Rise like lions after slumber/ In unvanquishable number!/ Shake your chains to earth like dew/ Which in sleep had fallen on you:/ Ye are many — they are few.” It could not be published until more than a decade had passed, and its subtitle, Written on Occasion of the Massacre at Manchester, did not make it into print until late in the 19th century.

Shelley also produced shorter poems that took no prisoners. The sonnet, England in 1819, begins by citing: “An old, mad, blind, despised and dying King” and refers to princes as “the dregs of their dull race … mud from a muddy spring.” Even more potently, his Song to the Men of England points out: “The seed ye sow, another reaps;/ The wealth ye find, another keeps;/ The robes ye weave, another wears;/ The arms ye forge, another bears.”

He goes on to suggest: “Sow seed — but let no tyrant reap;/ Find wealth — let no impostor heap;/ Weave robes — let not the idle wear;/ Forge arms — in your defence to bear.” If that was salutary advice in 1819, it remains so 200 years later.

The tussle today is again essentially over privilege. The haves and have-nots remain the crux of the dilemma. The vote that the Manchester agitators of two centuries ago longed for is today all too often derided as a pointless exercise. Mike Leigh, who last year directed an applauded film about Peterloo, recently said: “If the guys who were here 200 years ago could get into a time machine and come forward to 2019 and discover that people have the vote and they don’t use it, they would be absolutely outraged, horrified and disgusted.”

He is surely right. On the other hand, the notion that your vote does not really make a difference has spilled over into the 21st century from the 20th, rather than the 19th.

The unspoken reality that war is not an option for Pakistan

India’s recent actions to eliminate Article 370 and 35a in Kashmir have once again stirred the debate in Pakistan. But, unfortunately, it refuses to look at the issue any differently despite Delhi’s obvious departure from the past.

It seems as if in recent times in Pakistan, the debate has become limited to two aspects: first, accusing the government (whichever one it is) of having sold Kashmir (if Nawaz Sharif was said to be guilty of this once upon a time, now it is Imran Khan who seems to have committed the same sin), and second, to accuse the state of not doing anything to ‘answer’ or ‘counter’ India. We saw this need of a ‘reaction’ at the time of Pulwama and it is apparent even now.

But lost in the din of this debate, which obsesses with a ‘ghairatmand’ or ‘mun tor jawab’ to India as well as doing something to miraculously push forward our claim on Kashmir, is the reality of international politics. And this reality is the unspoken discomfort of the international community with the success of sub-nationalist movements.

In other words, while the international community may speak in favour of freedom and the self-determination of people, it silently prefers the status quo. And the status quo, in this case, means maintaining the world map as it is; and this can only be done if all the peoples tend to stick to borders they were ‘given’ and not redraw them. In practice, it’s not a healthy precedent, you see, for oppressed people anywhere to think they have the right to form a new state. Kashmir. Pakistan’s jugular vein. Except that it’s a vein that it doesn’t have. Pakistan was stunned when PM Modi of India stripped India’s Kashmir of its autonomy status. Pakistan had always promised action in the course of such an event but all it has been able to do is howl.

Wolves might howl in the dead of night but seldom does anyone else take any action. The same happened with Pakistan’s pleas in the UN security council. Not a whimper came out of the council, and no one knows what was discussed there for no records were kept.

Pakistan wants to do something, but what? India is a thriving democracy, and the empty streets of Srinagar are an eyesore. Modi is under tremendous pressure to let normal life resume in Kashmir. He will do so, but at his own pace and judgment. And for those who are worried that with the removal of Article 35A, storms of Hindus from the plains will rush to live in Kashmir and upset the pro-Muslim ethnic balance there could be in for a surprise.

The fully-integrated Indian state of Himachal Pradesh bordering Kashmir doesn’t allow outsiders to buy land there. Surely Modi will devise a similar modus vivendi for Kashmir, thereby letting the ethnic balance remain there as it is.

Still Pakistan is not happy. Even when Indian Kashmir was relatively autonomous, Pakistan waged war there by stealth and not-so-stealth means since 1948 to prise it out of India. In the 1965 war that it waged against India, it was the Muslim locals of Indian Kashmir who alerted the Indians of the Pakistani aggression.

Since the Soviet exit in Afghanistan in 1989, Pakistan has gone full bore into Kashmir with jihadi tactics. Its response to an Indian attack on Pakistan has always been “nuclear” — we are going to nuke India. It has also threatened to attack India if India strips Kashmir of its autonomy.

Successive Indian PMs, including the great Indira Gandhi, have stayed their hand. But in Modi, India has finally a brave, resolute and decisive leader in the Indira mould. He did not hesitate to violate Pakistani air space in response to a terror attack on Kashmir. Pakistan was stunned. It had always promised to nuke India if India violated its territory. All it could do in response was to send some jets to the border with India and engage in an aerial dogfight with the Indians.

Pakistan’s nuclear bluff had been called by Modi. Emboldened, he reorganized Indian Kashmir, leaving Pakistan to twiddle its thumbs. All Pakistan’s nuclear blackmail if India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy proved to be just that — blackmail.

Pakistan knows that if it launches all-out war against India, China must enter the war against India too. But China has its hands full with Japan over the South China Sea islands dispute and other issues baked in historical animosity. Japan by many reports is a turnkey away from launching a nuclear bomb.

The triad of the US, India, and Japan want to contain China, but were war to break out in the region, the US would conveniently abstain. It’s in no position now for another war, especially against a major power like China. Trump is busy embracing Kim Jong-un of North Korea, who keeps firing missiles and testing nukes under that hug. Trump dismisses Jong-un’s actions as shenanigans of a child, but Japan is left rattled by Trump’s and Jong-un’s behaviour.

India and Japan know that just the two of them would have to take on China. Are they ready? Oh yes, they are. Just as Pakistan’s nukes and missiles deter India, so too India’s and Japan’s nukes and missiles deter China. So China may not enter a war against India in case Pakistan provokes conflict. Without China’s active participation, Pakistan is not going to initiate conflict, for any war with India is going to be fought in a nuclear overhang, that is only by conventional means, where Pakistan is going to get a sound thrashing.

Pakistan has other stealth means though. In an eerily reminiscence of 1989’s Soviet exit from Afghanistan with the former’s tail between its legs, the American pullout from the same country is on its last legs, once again with the former’s tail between its legs. Much as the Americans believe, they are no position to dictate anything to the Taliban. The defeated don’t tell the victors what to do, and the Taliban are victors here.

The Americans have two aims in the Afghan end game. That Afghanistan doesn’t become a breeding ground for jihadis. But the Taliban are jihadis. And you have destroyed whatever was left of their country. So you think that they are not going to scream for revenge.

Second, that a nuke doesn’t fall into jihadi hands. But Pakistan has hundreds of tactical nukes in the hands of field commanders, and some of whom are jihadi. They have an inveterate hatred of both India and America. It’s a wonder that a dirty nuke explosion hasn’t already occurred in America or India.

Pakistan is going to ramp up its jihadi factory to go after Indian Kashmir. Nobody, including the US, is going to stop it from doing so. Pakistan now has the excuse of Kashmir’s autonomy being stripped. India will take a few blows from the jihadis but if there are too many, Modi will be forced to act. He is an unafraid leader who will teach Pakistan an unforgettable lesson

Where would it end? For most states in the world are inhabited by sub-groups, sub-nationalisms who may believe that they would be better off as an independent state. Consider the havoc if they all got their way. Take the Kurds. Or if you want a more civilised example, there are the Scots. South Asia is full of such examples too.

Pakistani society needs to understand that war is not an option.

This is why when borders change (and they do so very infrequently) it usually comes after considerable bloodshed. In recent years, Yugoslavia was a case in point. The breakup of the country into new states was accompanied by ethnic cleansing, genocide and war crimes.

In addition, it was a product of its times — the end of the Cold War which was accompanied by the emergence of a number of new states as the Soviet bloc lost its internal strength and cohesion. As a result, many states emerged not only from within the Soviet Union itself but also from within its sphere of influence.

But once the dust settled, the world went back to its old ways of maintaining the status quo — so Iraq could effectively fall into pieces but the world continued to see it as one country and all the suggestions that Syria be divided to end the conflict there also fell on deaf ears.

This is the context and the world in which the issue of Kashmir exists. This, too, has two aspects — a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. And on both aspects, Pakistan’s stand in a way goes against the status quo — change in the ‘border’ as it exists (however flawed and internationally impermanent as it may be).

It is this which has always weighed against Pakistan, internationally; as much as all its policy mistakes and failures that we do discuss.

The policymakers are aware of the odds against Pakistan, which is why in recent decades most of them have tried to reach out to India only to be accused of selling out. For the populace has been fed such a diet of ideals and unreal promises, it has proved incapable of understanding the reality and the impossibility of its dreams.

Here it is also important to mention perhaps a serious mistake made in recent years — of condemning Musharraf so much for being a military dictator that even Pakistan also rejected his efforts to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Not only had he come close to a solution, it had actually been in the realm of possibility — the status quo would have been maintained but along with bringing normalcy and freedom of movement to the Kashmiri people as well as allowing respite to the subcontinent. And in retrospect, it seemed as if that was perhaps the best chance it had to settle the matter and at a time when it was not negotiating from a position of weakness.

But so eager was it to condemn Musharraf for his politics that his Kashmir formula was tarnished too — by the people and those who came to power after him. Despite this, those in power, at some level, know that resolution is the only way forward (though now it is India which doesn’t seem to be in any mood). This is why Pakistan reacted so cautiously to Pulwama, despite the pressure it faced from its own people who wanted immediate revenge; and this is why Pakistan has focused on diplomatic manoeuvring even now. Prime Minister Imran Khan was spot-on when he asked the opposition: “What shall I do? Declare war?”

He knew it was not an option and he also knew that the others sitting there were aware of it.

This is now something that the Pakistani society needs to understand also. War is not an option and there are few — very few — examples in the world where borders have changed in the absence of war. This is the biggest factor it has to contend with; and not the ‘diplomatic isolation’ which has been reduced to such a meaningless cliché in the dialogue.

The Afghanistan Century

Three months after a short spell of armed hostilities between Britain and Afghanistan in May 1919, the former  ambiguously  relinquished control over the latter’s foreign relations in the Treaty of Rawalpindi. Afghanistan celebrates the event as its independence day this day every year.

A little later Afghanistan got rid of the ambiguity. As Louis Dupree notes, “So no matter what Britain planned for Afghanistan’s future, the Afghans themselves had already seized their future and become independent of overt British policy.” How has that ‘seized future’, in foreign policy and overall, evolved in the hundred years that have elapsed since the Afghans asserted their will?

Afghanistan was an absolute monarchy with power tightly controlled within an extended Barakzai Pashtun family in 1919; Amanullah had succeeded his father Habibullah who was murdered while on a hunting expedition that year. The country remained, for all practical purposes, absolutist till Zahir Shah who became king in 1933 at the age of 19, in the midst of opposition from influential family members, converted it into a constitutional monarchy in 1964.

In 1973, Zahir Shah was overthrown in a coup staged by his cousin Daud Khan, who as prime minister from 1953 to 1963 had administered the country with an iron hand. After the coup Daud Khan abolished the monarchy and became president. Zahir Shah went into exile in Italy only to return, in a twist of history, as the Baba-e-Millat (Father of the Nation) to Kabul in 2002 after Taliban were ousted from the country the previous year. He died in 2007.

The four decades of Zahir Shah’s reign was a period of relative internal calm, infrastructural development and cautious and incremental modernisation in major cities, while the countryside held firmly to its conservative social traditions. With the quickening of political activity after 1964 both Islamic and communist movements became established, beginning with the universities.

During the Zahir Shah period Afghanistan also developed its foreign relations on the basis of largely neutral postures. It did not take sides in World War II, as Prime Minister Daud Khan pursued an active but largely neutral foreign policy. Departing from the past he developed close ties with the Soviet Union and willingly accepted large Soviet assistance. While the US extended aid it refrained from seeking to curtail the Soviet involvement in the country. The US priority was Pakistan whose ties with Afghanistan remained confrontational; consequently, Afghanistan was relegated to periphery of policy. Daud Khan vigorously promoted the Pakthoonistan cause to recover the Pashtun lands in Pakistan.

The Daud Khan coup destroyed the traditional anchors of the Afghan polity. It paved the way in April 1978 for the communists who killed Daud, and unleashed enormous violence in pursuit of doctrinaire Marxist social and religious change in a country which almost completely rejected it. Consequently, Afghans began to move into Pakistan and Iran as refugees and the country descended into disorder.

The communists themselves divided largely on ethnic lines and turned on each other murderously in 1979. At this stage the Soviet Union, already alarmed at the Iranian revolution and the ferment in the Islamic world, made a disastrous strategic blunder. It moved its troops into Afghanistan in December 1979 to prevent ‘losing’ it.

With that move an endless dark, violent and tragic night descended upon Afghanistan; 40 years on, dawn is still not in sight. In these decades Afghanistan witnessed five distinct political phases – from communism to three years of Afghan nationalist-authoritarianism under Najibullah to three years of mujahideen confusion to Taliban’s seventh century Islamic Emirate to the internationally supported democratic Islamic republic. Now with the Islamic republic in tatters and Taliban staging a comeback the shape of the new polity that will come is uncertain, but a full blown Emirate would be unacceptable to the Afghan people and the international community. Also unacceptable to non-Pashtuns would be a fully Pashtun dominated political order.

The dislocation of these four decades has inevitably impacted Afghan society. The old influencers – the court, land owning elite and their mullah support base and the old business classes – have disappeared. In their place are the mujahideen, the diaspora and the children of the digital age open to global trends, all at odds with each other. Through this confusion a new Afghanistan has to emerge.

The economic potential locked up in the Hindu Kush, which promises the Afghan state to move from its ‘rentier’ status for the first time, awaits liberation. However, that is dependent on the return of peace and stability which is uncertain as the US, like the Soviets, prepares to withdraw having suffered a strategic defeat. Pakistan waits in the wings to extend its influence through heightened intervention, on account of the fanciful demons that continue to haunt it. Through all this it will make renewed but futile efforts for the acceptance of the Durand Line as the border.

The Durand Line was thrust on Amir Abdur Rahman Khan (1880-1901), who consolidated the Afghan state set up by Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1757. Named after the British Indian foreign secretary who virtually out-manoeuvred the iron Amir to accept it in 1893 the Durand Line did not go beyond demarcating ‘spheres of influence’ between British India and Afghanistan. Not a formal border it never impeded movement of peoples, but for the Pashtuns it has always been a dagger run through their heart.

Peep Behind the Veil of Well-orchestrated Climate Hysteria

We know there is simply no basis for climate alarm. All “scientific” predictions have failed, life has survived happily with much higher CO2 in the past, the medieval warming period a thousand years ago was much warmer than today, the small temperature variations of the 20th century are easily explained by natural causes, and the IPCC reports confirm that there is no increase in extreme weather events and no economic harm from CO2.

And yet the hysteria is increasing by the day. The “remedies” being suggested are becoming more extreme: it is no longer just about making energy so expensive that the poor can’t afford it, it is now about removing meat from their diet as well.

So how is such an irrational project going so strong? Because it is a clever way to disguise the deep hatred so many of the elites have of the poor. After the Hitler debacle talking about eugenics is no longer welcome in polite company. Climate alarm provides a perfect cloak. It achieves the same goal while signalling virtue. Climate hysteria is driven by an amalgamation of the ideologies of Malthus, Marx, Hitler and social Darwinism.

That this is not about the environment becomes clear when we note that these people do not care about market-based remedies to save wildlife, remove waste and reduce chemical pollution. These people also viciously attack nuclear energy. If they cared about CO2 they would be desperate for nuclear energy, but their goals are obviously quite different.

Stephen Schneider, a key “scientist” in the climate alarm bandwagon explained how their “goals” are to be achieved. In a 1989 interview he said that “to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change” scientists “need to … capture the public’s imagination” by “getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have”. Straight from the Goebbels copybook.

Malthus is the father of this anti-poor ideology. Over 200 years ago he attacked the poor even though the world’s population was a tiny fraction of what it is today. After Hitler’s eugenic project left a permanent stink, the Club of Rome revived the idea under the guise of “optimal population”. Its goal: to cut the world’s population at least by two-third. A related 1980 “Global 2000 Report” wanted US population to be reduced by 100 million by 2050.

This has never been about reducing just any population. It has a specific goal to protect first the “white” rich and then a few of the other rich, while eliminating the poor, blacks and Indians.

Margaret Sanger’s goal was to “stop the multiplication of the unfit … the most important … step towards race betterment” (note the focus on “race”). She wanted the “bloodstream of the (white) race” to be as pure as possible. She was involved in a ‘Negro Project’ to limit, if not eliminate, black births. She also detested Indians, considering India’s population (then only 300 million) a “curse”.

Nothing would have pleased her more than the total wipe-out of all Indians. When she learnt that Nehru had agreed to her persistent proposal to start a birth control program in India, she was delighted: “I cannot imagine anything more blessed happening on earth”. In the minds of such monsters, it will be truly “blessed” when all of us Indians are wiped out.

Rachel Carson was the next prominent Malthusian. Her book, Silent Spring (1962) actively fought technologies that could improve the lives of the poor. She lied through her teeth about DDT and tried to stop it from being used to fight malaria which kills millions of poor Indians and Africans.

Next came Paul Ehrlich with his 1968 book, The Population Bomb. His hatred for humanity was revealed in the title itself. Not chastened by the total failure of all his predictions, he gloated in an interview in 2014 about the prospect that things could go so bad that humans will become cannibals. Nothing would please him more than the poor eating each other.

The specific issue of climate alarm originated as part of the Club of Rome of 1968 and its 1973 Limits of Growth report. One of the Club of Rome associates was a wealthy businessman, Maurice Strong who played a particularly insidious role in drumming up a range of anti-poor hysterias.

The Club of Rome’s influence led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Program which elected Michael Strong as its head. Even though major climate scientists of the time were squealing about an impending Ice Age, he picked CO2 warming as his vehicle. After all, the best way to crush the poor is to choke their fossil fuel use.

He therefore drove the Action Plan for the Human Environment at Stockholm and Agenda 21 at Rio. This included the infamous Rio precautionary principle which underpins all anti-poor policy.

He had a revulsion for people. In his 2000 autobiography he dreamt of the day when two-thirds of the world’s population might be wiped out. A committed socialist, he outlined the plot for novel in a 1992 interview in which: “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”.

Strong was widely supported by thousands of influential like-minded people, many of whom are extremely powerful today: for instance, William Nordhaus, who received the Nobel prize in economics last year. In a major 1974 article Nordhaus cited the Club of Rome and said its concerns about “the carrying capacity of the environment” are legitimate and the concept of economic growth itself needs to be reviewed. He then started a life-long focus on CO2 and has long recommended a carbon tax without ever bothering to check whether CO2 is actually a pollutant.

The Club of Rome and its associate organisations remain active and operate behind the scenes. There is a powerful network of people determined to use climate alarm and anti-GM propaganda as instruments to curb agricultural productivity and choke energy use by the poor. Al Gore is perhaps the most well-known but the group includes innumerable “scientists” who are happy to fudge data. The Climategate emails demonstrate how these “scientists” operate in the shadows to distort facts and mislead the public.

Our party is keenly aware of the intense hatred these “white” elites have towards India’s poor. We won’t let them get the upper hand. Scientific debate won’t work with them. So we call upon the Modi government shut down the IPCC.

Sunday Special: Mother Nature Needs Protective Rights

For some, human rights are not enough – it’s nature’s turn, now. In a growing global movement, environmentalists are trying a new legal route to protect the planet – vesting rivers, reefs and threatened habitats with “rights of nature” that override the long-held human right to harm.

Supporters say they are starting to notch victories and see momentum growing, particularly as the rising effects of climate change spur an openness to untried strategies.

Critics call the efforts unwieldy, ineffective – or illegal. Take Toledo, a lake city in the U.S. Midwest whose citizens have worried about the quality of their water since toxic algae seeped from Lake Erie into the city’s system five years ago.

Stymied residents – fed up with a lack of action – took matters into their own hands this year and voted to give their local water source, the massive Lake Erie, rights to stay clean. “It’s about saying Lake Erie has a legal right to exist, and that’s a right that we get to defend,” said resident Markie Miller. Miller said the 2014 algae outbreak in the world’s 11th-biggest lake left half a million people with no safe water over three stifling summer days.

And it turned out that similar outbreaks had gone unchecked for years, a product of agricultural runoff, she said. “That bothered me — we’ve been watching and tracking this problem but not doing anything,” Miller told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. “We should be considering the whole health of the ecosystem, not just the burden on people.”

Officials did little, she said, but organisers had heard about an idea that eventually went before voters: recognising Lake Erie as a legal entity, on whose behalf citizens could sue.

“We’re working in a system that isn’t designed to allow us to win — it’s designed to regulate and allow harm,” she said. “So the idea behind all of this was that we wanted to change the system. “Ultimately, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which 61% of voters approved in February, would amend the Toledo city charter to state that Lake Erie had the right to “exist, flourish, and naturally evolve” and to do so free of violation.

The effort received no support from the city, Miller said, and has been tied up in legal wrangling ever since. Lawyers for local farmer Mark Drewes called it “an unconstitutional and unlawful assault on the fundamental rights of family farms” that gave the people of Toledo authority over nearly 5 million Ohio residents. A spokesman for the Toledo mayor’s office declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

Other Ohio communities have since tried similar moves, but on July 17, state legislators outlawed all such action, saying: “Nature or any ecosystem does not have standing to participate in or bring an action in any court of common pleas.”

‘Is it thriving?’

In Western law, the idea that nature has rights dates to the 1970s, when legal scholar Christopher Stone published a touchstone article that was cited in a Supreme Court case.

It lay largely dormant until this past decade when the notion regained currency, in the United States and beyond. “It’s certainly having an effect internationally,” said Jay Pendergrass, a vice president at the Environmental Law Institute, a Washington think tank. “It’s accelerated in terms of the countries and places that are saying this is an important legal principle that they’re going to act on.”

Bolivia and Ecuador have model “rights of nature” laws — the issue is even in the latter’s constitution.

India has recognised rights on the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, while New Zealand has a similar agreement on the Whanganui river. In July, Bangladesh recognised all rivers in the country as having legal rights.

Advocates want to use rights law to address some of the world’s worst cases of environmental destruction — be it the decaying Great Barrier Reef or the melting Himalayan glaciers.

Seven countries have “rights of nature” laws, said Shannon Biggs, co-founder of the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, which runs ‘tribunals’ where judges hear cases on fracking, indigenous land rights and more.

“Is that ecosystem regenerating itself? Is it thriving? Those are the benchmarks,” she said of the tribunal’s decisions.

It also upends long-held ideas about the rights that come with a land title. As Biggs said: “Property ownership isn’t a permission slip to destroy the ecosystem.”

While the tribunals’ decisions are not binding, Biggs points to a recent case that she said had helped halt construction of a proposed highway through the Bolivian rainforest.

Proponents say the word is spreading far and wide, influencing distant courts and guiding countries that lack their own laws.

Mari Margil, associate director at the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) – a player in several key pushes to win rights of nature – pointed to a 2016 Colombian suit over the Amazon as a case in point.

“Their own environmental laws weren’t able to offer protection,” Margil said, so the court sought outside precedent. “For the first time, they declared that an ecosystem in Colombia has rights,” she said, “and they did that without their own rights of nature law.” Now it is up to the so-called developed countries to enact laws to provide appropriate protection to Mother Nature- the most vulnerable sector of the whole system.

Exorcising Curzon’s Ghost

Curzon’s 1907 Romanes Lecture at Oxford University continues to offer fresh insights into the Subcontinent’s contemporary frontier problems. Curzon said managing frontiers is the most important task for any leader. For stable frontiers are a precondition for national development. “Frontiers are indeed the razor’s edge on which hang suspended the modern issues of war or peace, of life or death to nations”. Curzon was convinced the problem of frontiers will never disappear from world politics, but can be managed through political accommodation and scientific demarcation of boundaries.

As India and Pakistan lurch towards a new phase in their extended conflict over Kashmir, it is easy to miss the larger context of the Subcontinent’s troubled frontiers. More than a century ago, Lord Curzon, spoke on the problem of constructing stable frontiers among the emerging European nations as well between their expanding empires in the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Since Curzon, frontiers continued to change in Europe — through 1919, 1945, 1991 and most recently in 2011 between Russia and Ukraine. Britain is struggling to wrap up the Brexit negotiations with the European Union over the so-called “Irish Backstop”. It is about the nature of the border between Britain and Republic of Ireland as the former walks out of the EU and the latter stays in. The biggest political issue in North America is about Trump’s effort to build a Great Wall on the border with Mexico.

In Africa and Asia, there are countless territorial conflicts. The Indo-Tibetan frontier opened up by Curzon remains a contested boundary dispute between India and China. More broadly, the buffers and protectorates constructed by the Raj to limit conflict with Russia are now zones of political contestation between India and a rising China.

The Durand Line drawn between India and Afghanistan in 1893, a few years before Curzon arrived in India, remains disputed between Kabul and Islamabad. Even the Taliban, nurtured by Pakistan as an instrument to gain influence in Afghanistan, does not accept the Durand Line.

The North West Frontier Province (now called Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), that Curzon created out of the Pashtun lands in 1901, has seen endless conflict for the last four decades and hopes for a different future remain dim. Many other peripheries of the Raj, from Balochistan in the west to Xinjiang and Kashmir in the north to Tibet and the eastern Himalayan regions between India, upper Burma and China are all in turmoil of varying degrees.

Part of the problem lies in the nature of the frontiers that the Subcontinent inherited from the Raj. The land borders of India were not defined by a single line; but by what Curzon identifies as the three-fold frontier. There was the “administrative frontier” that marked out regions that the Raj governed to the fullest extent. Beyond that was the “frontier of active defence” like the Durand Line and a third was the “strategic frontier” consisting of the outer boundaries of protectorates over which the Raj exercised a measure of control.

While the British Raj, Czarist Russia and Qing China found ways to live with ambiguities in remote corners of the empire, the new nationalist regimes that succeeded them have had much more difficulty. The Partition of the Subcontinent, based on religious considerations, added an explosive dimension to an already complex inheritance. The successor states to the empires laid formal claims to tracts of territory that had an ambivalent status, but have struggled to realise

India’s recent decision to revoke the special status of Kashmir is about the unfinished task of extending effective territorial sovereignty over lands it has claimed. Maoist China was quicker and more decisive than India in trying cleaning out the ambiguities on its frontiers. As trouble in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong shows, success has eluded one of the hardest states that the modern world has known.

Pakistan has struggled to find stability on its western border lands — where the Baloch and the Pashtun continue to challenge its claims. The Indian state, with its political hand-wringing and policy incrementalism, has been a little more effective than Pakistan. But it continues to encounter significant challenges.

China reacted furiously when Delhi in 1975 ended Sikkim’s protectorate status and integrated it with India. It took nearly three decades for China to accept the new reality. Beijing continues to claim the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh. But the arguments with China are now mostly political. After instigating trouble in each other’s territory for a period, Delhi and Beijing are now committed to managing the dispute peacefully, while expanding the broader relationship. There is frequent spike in military tensions, but there has been no shooting war.

India has had greater success with Bangladesh. Early on in his first term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seized the opportunities to settle the disputes with Dhaka on the land and maritime boundary inherited from the Partition. But unlike Dhaka and Beijing, Rawalpindi is not really prepared for a peaceful resolution. Repeated efforts by Indira Gandhi (1972), Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1999), and Manmohan Singh (2005-07) ended in failure. The inherent difficulty of negotiation has been compounded by Pakistan’s use of terrorism and Kashmir’s ambiguous political status within the Indian Union.

In confronting Pakistan’s terrorism and reorganising the political status of Kashmir, the Modi government has set a new policy template. The key to its success lies in finding early political reconciliation within Kashmir and persuading the Pakistan army that its interests are better served by stable, peaceful and a legitimate frontier with India. It could be a long haul, but the journey has begun

Is the World ‘Rigged’ Against Women?

America’s Democratic presidential candidates are weighing in on one of the big issues of our day: sex inequality. “This toxic culture, this pernicious patriarchy in this country, has to stop,” says Cory Booker. “Since 1963 when we passed the Equal Pay Act, we have been talking about the fact women are not paid equally for equal work. Fast-forward to the year of our Lord 2019, and women are paid 80 cents on the dollar,” says Kamala Harris. “The game is rigged when women earn less than men for doing the same work. It’s rigged,” says Elizabeth Warren. “The systemic devaluation of women in our society” is undeniable, says Kristen Gillibrand.

These are fierce condemnations. Are they true? What’s the evidence? How much worse do women have it? Can we measure it?

A group of scientists sought the answer. Researchers from the University of Missouri and the University of Essex in the United Kingdom calculated a way to quantify it. Called the Basic Index of Gender Inequality, it measures educational opportunities, healthy life expectancy and overall life satisfaction. These folks analyzed data for 134 nations, representing 6.8 billion people.

So, do men have it better than women? You’ll be surprised by what they found.

I only saw a news report on this last week, but the study was published January 3 in PLOS ONE, a leading peer-reviewed journal on science and medicine.

This effort to create an unbiased, reliable index to show gender inequality found that in poorer countries, women are worse off. Their opportunities for education are often limited, and their satisfaction with life is lower than that of men. These researchers found a relative disadvantage for women in 43 countries. At the bottom of the list were Chad, Benin, Liberia, Yemen, Mali, Lesotho, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Pakistan and several other countries, mostly African or Muslim or both.

What about women in richer countries, in the West—in America? Are women worse off than men? Researchers found that here, the situation is actually reversed. The index showed that in 91countries, men are worse off than women.

In rich countries, women have better educational opportunities, they live longer and healthier lives, or they have higher overall life satisfaction. In many nations—including the United States—all three of these factors favor women.

How is this possible when the whole system is supposedly “rigged” against women?

The study in PLOS ONE says we haven’t been measuring correctly. The way these issues are typically studied poses problems and distorts reality. “Apart from political agendas, research on gender inequality has also almost exclusively focused on issues highlighted in the women’s rights movement,” the study says. “Issues disadvantaging more men than women have been understudied … and are not heavily weighted (if at all) in widely used measures of gender inequality, such as the highly cited Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI). Further, the GGGI truncates all values such that no country can, by definition, be more favorable for women than for men.” Unsurprisingly, when you look at only half the picture, you find disadvantages for women everywhere.

“As a result, existing measures do not fully capture patterns of well-being and disadvantage at a national level,” the report continues. “This is an important oversight, as there are issues that disproportionately affect boys and men. Among the many examples are harsher punishments for the same crimes and an overrepresentation (93 percent worldwide) in the prison population; compulsory military service …; the large majority of homeless people without shelter are men; higher levels of drug and alcohol abuse; higher suicide rates; more occupational deaths; underperformance in schools; and men are more often victims of physical assault in general … and within schools, thus limiting educational opportunities. Men are also overrepresented in occupations that are risky (e.g. exposure to toxins) and physically taxing, such as front-line military duty, firefighting, mining, construction, or sewage cleaning.”

By these measures, there are plenty of areas in modern life where men are worse off. But people cherry-pick areas where women don’t perform as well, and use it as proof that women are systemically mistreated. They insist that every discrepancy is caused by sexism and discrimination.

This is the way many people have come to view every problem in society: Wherever they see differences, they blame bigotry.

The reality is, many factors contribute to differences and inequalities. These are inherent in human existence. Equality, as it is being defined and sought after, is impossible. In fact, I would argue it’s not even desirable.

For an idea of how misguided the quest for equality is, look at the U.S. women’s soccer team. Earlier this year, its players complained of inequality in their sport. They win more games than the U.S. men’s team does, so they decided they should get paid the same or more than the men. They filed a sex-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

This move earned plaudits from commentators and politicians. “The women make just as much of a sacrifice, put in just as much mental and physical energy, absorb just as much risk of injury as the men who play for our national team,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said. “Yet, when you break it down, a women’s national soccer team player earns a base salary of $3,600 per game while a men’s player earns $5,000.”

This implies that the only reason the women make less money is because of sexism. It is a great applause line for ignorant people.

But here are some very pertinent and irrefutable facts: The Women’s World Cup generated $131 million in revenue this year. The Men’s World Cup generated $6 billion—over 45 times more.

Blame it on whatever you’d like, but spectators for men’s soccer far outnumber those of women’s soccer. The same is true of basketball, football, baseball, golf, rugby, cricket, track, swimming, boxing and virtually every other sport. Athletes are not paid based on how much they sacrifice, or the mental and physical energy they expend, or how much they risk injury. They are paid based on how much money their contributions bring in. Just like everybody else in the economy.

That is how a free economy works. You can’t arbitrarily decide what someone’s pay should be based on whatever virtues you choose. If your work doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make money. If it isn’t creating paying customers, no matter how much sacrifice or energy or risk you take, it won’t pay. That explains the pay gap in soccer. Not sexism. Not a toxic, “pernicious patriarchy.”

The broader pay gap between men and women has similar causes. Work tends to play different roles in men’s and women’s lives. Men tend to focus more on pay. Women tend to prioritize other things—family, flexibility, personal fulfillment. They’re less likely to move for a job. They are likelier to decline promotions. They tend to choose lower-paying fields. They tend to work fewer hours—the U.S. Census Bureau says full-time men average 2,213 working hours a year versus 1,796 for full-time women.

Ignore all these factors, and you will find “unequal pay.” But as economist Thomas Sowell said, if it were true that you can plug a woman into a position for 80 cents to the dollar compared to a man, every smart employer would hire all women. If he didn’t, any competitor who did would make thousands or millions more every year and probably drive him out of business.

The pay gap is a myth that explodes when met with facts. The facts are irrefutable and clear. Nevertheless, we keep hearing about the pay gap because, to unprincipled people, it’s politically useful.

If Chuck Schumer or those Democratic presidential candidates really care about women’s rights, why are they fighting on this battlefront? This study says, if you want to find disadvantaged women, look at the developing world. Where are the feminists seeking redress for their aggrieved sisters in Nepal, Morocco, Angola, Nigeria or India? There are countries that weren’t even a part of this study, like Afghanistan, where women are forced to wear burkas and girls are forced into arranged marriages with old men. That is real inequality between the sexes! Why aren’t they trying to help the lives of those women?

But those who focus instead on the supposed sexism in America want to highlight grievances, manufacture problems, and stir people into discontentment—even if they have to ignore reality and lie to do it. As with every social justice crusade like this, no matter how much “progress” is made, there is always “more work” to do. Its advocates simply change the standard; they redefine the “equality” they seek. And information like this study is pushed aside. People aren’t interested in the truth.

We also see that we are different in mind and body, as two parts of a whole. We see that men have to fulfill one role, within the family and within society—and for women to fulfill a different, complementary role.

This is something society fights against. Our society has worked hard to guarantee equality—and has created a situation where menare disadvantaged. And still people talk almost as though we are putting women in burkas and social straightjackets.

The way these researchers are measuring sex inequality is useful in some ways. But what we really need to strive for is for both men and women to attain their full potential. We don’t need to be comparing ourselves to each other. We need to be putting our whole effort into fulfilling our role

Saturday Special: A Snapshot Of The Biggest Yet Ignored Holocaust in World History-Islamic Forays in India

Politicians are either ignorant or just believe that people are idiots. Just see what Prime Minister Imran Khan stated the other day. He said  there was no precedent in Islamic history for forcefully converting others, and those who do so “know neither the history of Islam, nor their religion, the Quran or Sunnah.”The premier made the remarks while addressing an event around the National Minority Day hosted at the Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad.

The premier said that Prophet Muhammad’s life was a road map for people to follow till the day of judgement. He explained that the Prophet himself had given minorities religious freedom and protected their places of worship, “because the Quran orders that there be no compulsion in religion”.

Nothing can be farther from truth. The Muslim advent in India is a saga of unrivalled brutality, wanton killing and repression beyond imagination.

The World seems to either ignore or just does not seem to care about the many millions of lives lost during the 800 – year long holocaust of Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhist in India.

With the invasion of India by Mahmud Ghazni about 1000 A.D., began the Muslim invasions into the Indian subcontinent and they lasted for several centuries. Nadir Shah made a mountain of the skulls of the Hindus he killed in Delhi alone. Babur raised towers of Hindu skulls at Khanua when he defeated Rana Sanga in 1527 and later he repeated the same horrors after capturing the fort of Chanderi. Akbar ordered a general massacre of 30,000 Rajputs after he captured Chithorgarh in 1568. The Bahamani Sultans had an annual agenda of killing a minimum of 100,000 Hindus every year.

The history of medieval India is full of such instances. The holocaust of the Hindus in India continued for 800 years, till the brutal regimes were effectively overpowered in a life and death struggle by the Sikhs in the Panjab and the Hindu Maratha armies in other parts of India in the late 1700’s.

We have elaborate literary evidence of the World’s biggest holocaust from existing historical contemporary eyewitness accounts. The historians and biographers of the invading armies and subsequent rulers of India have left quite detailed records of the atrocities they committed in their day-to-day encounters with India’s Hindus.

These contemporary records boasted about and glorified the crimes that were committed – and the genocide of tens of millions of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhist and Jainist, mass rapes of women and the destruction of thousands of ancient Hindu / Buddhist temples and libraries have been well documented and provide solid proof of the World’s biggest holocaust.

Quotes from modern historians

Dr. Koenraad Elst in his article “Was There an Islamic Genocide of Hindus?” states:

“There is no official estimate of the total death toll of Hindus at the hands of Islam. A first glance at important testimonies by Muslim chroniclers suggests that, over 13 centuries and a territory as vast as the Subcontinent, Muslim Holy Warriors easily killed more Hindus than the 6 million of the Holocaust. Ferishtha lists several occasions when the Bahmani sultans in central India (1347-1528) killed a hundred thousand Hindus, which they set as a minimum goal whenever they felt like punishing the Hindus; and they were only a third-rank provincial dynasty.

The biggest slaughters took place during the raids of Mahmud Ghaznavi (ca. 1000 CE); during the actual conquest of North India by Mohammed Ghori and his lieutenants (1192 ff.); and under the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1526).“

He also writes in his book “Negation in India”:

“The Muslim conquests, down to the 16th century, were for the Hindus a pure struggle of life and death. Entire cities were burnt down and the populations massacred, with hundreds of thousands killed in every campaign, and similar numbers deported as slaves. Every new invader made (often literally) his hills of Hindus skulls. Thus, the conquest of Afghanistan in the year 1000 was followed by the annihilation of the Hindu population; the region is still called the Hindu Kush, i.e. Hindu slaughter.”

Will Durant argued in his 1935 book “The Story of Civilisation: Our Oriental Heritage” (page 459): “The Mohammedan conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. The Islamic historians and scholars have recorded with great glee and pride the slaughters of Hindus, forced conversions, abduction of Hindu women and children to slave markets and the destruction of temples carried out by the warriors of Islam during 800 AD to 1700 AD. Millions of Hindus were converted to Islam by sword during this period.”

Francois Gautier in his book ‘Rewriting Indian History’ (1996) wrote: “The massacres perpetuated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history, bigger than the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis; or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.”

Alain Danielou in his book, Histoire de l’ Inde writes: “From the time Muslims started arriving, around 632 AD, the history of India becomes a long, monotonous series of murders, massacres, spoliations, and destructions. It is, as usual, in the name of ‘a holy war’ of their faith, of their sole God, that the barbarians have destroyed civilizations, wiped out entire races.”

Irfan Husain in his article “Demons from the Past” observes: “While historical events should be judged in the context of their times, it cannot be denied that even in that bloody period of history, no mercy was shown to the Hindus unfortunate enough to be in the path of either the Arab conquerors of Sindh and south Punjab, or the Central Asians who swept in from Afghanistan…The Muslim heroes who figure larger than life in our history books committed some dreadful crimes. Mahmud of Ghazni, Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, Balban, Mohammed bin Qasim, and Sultan Mohammad Tughlak, all have blood-stained hands that the passage of years has not cleansed..Seen through Hindu eyes, the Muslim invasion of their homeland was an unmitigated disaster.

“Their temples were razed, their idols smashed, their women raped, their men killed or taken slaves. When Mahmud of Ghazni entered Somnath on one of his annual raids, he slaughtered all 50,000 inhabitants. Aibak killed and enslaved hundreds of thousands. The list of horrors is long and painful. These conquerors justified their deeds by claiming it was their religious duty to smite non-believers. Cloaking themselves in the banner of Islam, they claimed they were fighting for their faith when, in reality, they were indulging in straightforward slaughter and pillage…”

A sample of contemporary eyewitness accounts of the invaders and rulers, during the Indian conquests

The Afghan ruler Mahmud al-Ghazni invaded India no less than seventeen times between 1001 – 1026 AD. The book ‘Tarikh-i-Yamini’ – written by his secretary documents several episodes of his bloody military campaigns : “The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously [at the Indian city of Thanesar] that the stream was discoloured, notwithstanding its purity, and people were unable to drink it…the infidels deserted the fort and tried to cross the foaming river…but many of them were slain, taken or drowned… Nearly fifty thousand men were killed.”

In the contemporary record – ‘ Taj-ul-Ma’asir’ by Hassn Nizam-i-Naishapuri, it is stated that when Qutb-ul- Din Aibak (of Turko – Afghan origin and the First Sultan of Delhi 1194-1210 AD) conquered Meerat, he demolished all the Hindu temples of the city and erected mosques on their sites. In the city of Aligarh, he converted Hindu inhabitants to Islam by the sword and beheaded all those who adhered to their own religion.

The Persian historian Wassaf writes in his book ‘Tazjiyat-ul-Amsar wa Tajriyat ul Asar’ that when the Alaul-Din Khilji (An Afghan of Turkish origin and second ruler of the Khilji Dynasty in India 1295-1316 AD) captured the city of Kambayat at the head of the gulf of Cambay, he killed the adult male Hindu inhabitants for the glory of Islam, set flowing rivers of blood, sent the women of the country with all their gold, silver, and jewels, to his own home, and made about twentv thousand Hindu maidens his private slaves.

This ruler once asked his spiritual advisor (or ‘Qazi’) as to what was the Islamic law prescribed for the Hindus. The Qazi replied: “Hindus are like the mud; if silver is demanded from them, they must with the greatest humility offer gold. If a Mohammadan desires to spit into a Hindu’s mouth, the Hindu should open it wide for the purpose. God created the Hindus to be slaves of the Mohammadans. The Prophet hath ordained that, if the Hindus do not accept Islam, they should be imprisoned, tortured, finally put to death, and their property confiscated.”

Timur was a Turkic conqueror and founder of the Timurid Dynasty. Timur’s Indian campaign (1398 – 1399 AD) was recorded in his memoirs, collectively known as ‘Tuzk-i-Timuri.’ In them, he vividly described probably the greatest gruesome act in the entire history of the world – where 100,000 Hindu prisoners of war in his camp were executed in a very short space of time.

Timur after taking advice from his entourage says in his memoirs : “they said that on the great day of battle these 100,000 prisoners could not be left with the baggage, and that it would be entirely opposed to the rules of war to set these idolaters and foes of Islam at liberty. In fact, no other course remained but that of making them all food for the sword’

Timur thereupon resolved to put them to death. He proclaimed : “throughout the camp that every man who has infidel prisoners was to put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the ghazis of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death. 100,000 infidels, impious idolaters, were on that day slain. Maulana Nasir-ud-din Umar, a counselor and a man of learning, who, in all his life had never killed a sparrow, now, in execution of my order, slew with his sword fifteen idolatrous Hindus, who were his captives“.

During his campaign in India – Timur describes the scene when his army conquered the Indian city of Delhi : “In a short space of time all the people in the [Delhi] fort were put to the sword, and in the course of one hour the heads of 10,000 infidels were cut off. The sword of Islam was washed in the blood of the infidels, and all the goods and effects, the treasure and the grain which for many a long year had been stored in the fort became the spoil of my soldiers.

“They set fire to the houses and reduced them to ashes, and they razed the buildings and the fort to the ground….All these infidel Hindus were slain, their women and children, and their property and goods became the spoil of the victors. I proclaimed throughout the camp that every man who had infidel prisoners should put them to death, and whoever neglected to do so should himself be executed and his property given to the informer. When this order became known to the ghazis of Islam, they drew their swords and put their prisoners to death.”

The Mughal emperor Babur (who ruled India from 1526 -1530 AD) writing in his memoirs called the ‘Baburnama’ – wrote : ” In AH 934 (2538 C.E.) I attacked Chanderi and by the grace of Allah captured it in a few hours. We got the infidels slaughtered and the place which had been Daru’l-Harb (nation of non-muslims) for years was made into a Daru’l-Islam (a muslim nation).”

In Babur’s own words in a poem about killing Hindus (From the ‘Baburnama’ ) he wrote :

“For the sake of Islam I became a

wanderer,

I battled infidels and Hindus,

I determined to become a martyr

Thank God I became a Killer of

Non-Muslims!”

The atrocities of the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan (who ruled India between 1628 – 1658 AD) are mentioned in the contemporary record called : ‘Badshah Nama, Qazinivi & Badshah Nama , Lahori’ and goes on to state : “When Shuja was appointed as governor of Kabul he carried on a ruthless war in the Hindu territory beyond Indus…The sword of Islam yielded a rich crop of converts….Most of the women (to save their honour) burnt themselves to death. Those captured were distributed among Muslim Mansabdars (Noblemen)”

The Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Abdali attacked India in 1757 AD and made his way to the holy Hindu city of Mathura, the Bethlehem of the Hindus and birthplace of Krishna.

The atrocities that followed are recorded in the contemporary chronicle called : ‘Tarikh-I-Alamgiri’ : “Abdali’s soldiers would be paid 5 Rupees (a sizeable amount at the time) for every enemy head brought in. Every horseman had loaded up all his horses with the plundered property, and atop of it rode the girl-captives and the slaves. The severed heads were tied up in rugs like bundles of grain and placed on the heads of the captives…Then the heads were stuck upon lances and taken to the gate of the chief minister for payment.

“It was an extraordinary display! Daily did this manner of slaughter and plundering proceed. And at night the shrieks of the women captives who were being raped, deafened the ears of the people…All those heads that had been cut off were built into pillars, and the captive men upon whose heads those bloody bundles had been brought in, were made to grind corn, and then their heads too were cut off. These things went on all the way to the city of Agra, nor was any part of the country spared.”

Banda Singh Bahadur was tortured to death after being imprisoned for 3 months. The heart of Banda Singh’s son was put in his mouth in an attempt to humiliate him

Why we should remember

The biggest holocaust in World History has been whitewashed from history. When we hear the word HOLOCAUST most of us think immediately of the Jewish holocaust. Today, with increased awareness and countless cinema films and television documentaries – many of us are also aware of the Holocaust of the Native American peoples, the genocide of the Armenian peoples in the Ottoman Empire, and the millions of African lives lost during the Atlantic slave trade.

Europe and America produced at least a few thousand films highlighting the human misery caused by Hitler and his army. The films expose the horrors of Nazi regime and reinforce the beliefs and attitude of the present day generation towards the evils of the Nazi dictatorship.

In contrast look at India. There is hardly any awareness among the Indians of today of what happened to their ancestors in the past, because a great majority of historians are reluctant to touch this sensitive subject.

The Indian historian Professor K.S. Lal estimates that the Hindu population in India decreased by 80 million between 1000 AD and 1525 AD, an extermination unparalleled in World history. This slaughter of millions of people occurred over regular periods during many centuries of Arab, Afghan, Turkish and Mughal rule in India.

Many Indian heroes emerged during these dark times – including the 10th Sikh Guru – Guru Gobind Singh and also the Hindu Maratha king – Shivaji Maratha – who led the resistance against this tyranny and eventually led to its defeat by the late 1700s – after centuries of death and destruction.

The modern World today is facing a global threat from organizations and groups of terrorists such as the ISIS, Taliban and Al-Qaeeda – whose ideology is chillingly similar to that of the perpetrators of the World’s biggest holocaust in India.

Let us hope that the bloody lessons of the past are learnt so that history does not even have the remotest chance of repeating itself.

Need A Better Way To Measure Innovation

Innovation is the buzz word. But the issue is how tp measure or evaluate it. It is not available on retail counters and it is also evaluated in retrospect. Innovation drives productivity, and productivity is what drives jobs growth and the wealth that pays for our health, education, defence and social security systems. In short, innovation really matters. To unleash innovation and meaningful results, you need room to make bold decisions, test and learn from mistakes, and importantly have the support of your team. Governments, businesses and academics obsess over it. We need to know what works, what doesn’t and why – and that means turning to measurements and metrics. But can we really measure innovation today? Are we doing it right, or are our metrics more suited to Industry 2.0 and 3.0, rather than 4.0?

In the era of Industry 4.0, all innovation is combinatorial. Leaders from England’s state-run National Health Service to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt recognise this fact. Almost no innovations can be attributed to a single source. 

For example, the iPhone may have been the work of Steve Jobs, Jony Ive and their teams of brilliant engineers and designers, but it was also the product of US government-led innovations such as GPS and, of course, the internet. It would be ludicrous to attribute such innovations as the iPhone to the state alone – but at the same time, there are few truly original ideas. Most successful innovations hinge on the execution rather than the idea itself, which many others may be pursuing simultaneously. The aesthetically similar LG Prada came out shortly before the iPhone, and there were plenty of touchscreen PDA-like phones before the iPhone, but none had the iPhone’s industry-defining impact. 

However, the complexity of measuring such innovations should not deter us from trying. 

Measuring innovation matters… 

Good metrics can direct better policies. The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which measures school pupils’ performance in mathematics, science and reading, has improved policy debates and led to improved outcomes in some countries. It has driven Singapore’s extraordinary educational success. Statistics on the causes of mortality, meanwhile, have been instrumental in shifting health resources towards early intervention, which has improved life expectancies. 

But measuring innovation is troublesome. 

…but it’s hard 

Indicators have to account for many different forms of innovation, with widely differing motivations, processes of development and consequences. In the past it was possible to identify innovation within particular organizations, teams or individuals; nowadays innovation is more often networked among multiple contributors, which complicates its measurement. Collecting data on innovation is hampered by the desire to ensure indicators are simple, easily accessible, comparable across nations, and cheap to acquire and compute. And these requirements do not reflect the complex and often messy realities of innovation, let alone capture whether the innovation has negative consequences, such as putting CFCs in refrigerators. 

The move over the past 60 years from products to services to an increasingly experiential economy has changed the nature of research and development (R&D). Traditional measures of innovation, such as R&D investment and patents, were fine when innovation mostly occurred in large manufacturing firms, but are of limited value when much of the action lies in services, business models, and entrepreneurial start-ups. Much innovation does not rely on traditional R&D investment and processes, and many innovations are not protected by formal intellectual property rights, but by the speed of changes and secrecy around them – and this makes them difficult to measure. 

A great deal of expertise has been developed around innovation surveys that ask firms whether they innovate, and in what forms. The EU’s Community Innovation Survey (CIS), for example, has coordinated national statistical agencies to collect extensive data on the innovativeness of EU regions and sectors. But self-reported innovations can be subjective and difficult to calibrate. We know of world-leading innovations in infrastructure and resources industries that are not accounted for; conversely, a firm that was recorded as innovative in a government survey turned out to be a hairdresser using a new brand of hair colouring. 

Other judgement calls are needed: are innovations new to the world, new to the sector or region, or just new to the firm? Is adapting an existing product or service to a new market an innovation? While these surveys can tell us about the ITALnumbers and ITALtypes of firms that claim to be innovative, they don’t address the more important question of ITALhow firms are innovating and whether this is improving. 

The nature and measurement of capital goods – the assets that are put to productive use – have changed significantly in Industry 4.0. In the past, these consisted mainly of investments in large-scale factories and production machinery, and were carefully recorded for accounting and taxation purposes, providing accurate information for governments. Nowadays, intangible investments and activities such as design are much more significant – but these are more difficult to measure. The new digital technologies of Industry 4.0, including AI and Machine Learning, virtual and augmented reality, simulation and modelling methods, and novel, small-scale ways of manipulating matter such as additive manufacturing and genome editing, for example, complicate the recording and classifications of important innovation investments. 

The measurement of innovation is changing

Agencies that collect national and international statistics are highly aware of the shortcomings of their approaches and are seeking more relevant ways of measuring innovation performance. The Australian government, for example, which has been a leader in this field, is undertaking a significant review of indicators, including a comprehensive literature review and public consultations.

Important lessons have been learned in these agencies. The shortcomings of input measures, such as R&D, and averages of innovation performance, such as gross expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP, can hide skewed distributions and are not helpful. The opportunities for gaming the system at the national and organizational levels are being recognized. And there is awareness of the dangers when poorly determined indicators become targets for governments. 

We welcome the improvement in the collection of such information, but believe this needs to be complemented by some radically different approaches. 

New opportunities for measurement and insight 

There is value in including insights from behavioural science. Ideas for new services, the largest component of modern economies, occur at the point of consumption. This means the behaviours of consumers and ‘user-innovators’ matter more and more. Furthermore, as AI and automation replace repetitive work, and human attributes such as creativity, intuition and empathy become more important, understanding behaviours around innovation becomes crucial. By changing the behaviours of individuals and populations, behavioural science is starting to be used to address significant global issues such as the environment and health. Governments and organizations wishing to improve innovation performance need increasingly to bring insights from behavioural psychology and economics into their metrics. By applying behavioural science to, for example, the adoption of good innovation practices and better risk management, we may get insights into future performance.

Data and digital science provide new opportunities for developing useful innovation metrics. Innovation statistics agencies are exploring the ways in which new sources of data can complement and supplement their work. Analysing social media sites and electronic marketplaces for ideas and employment, such as InnoCentive and LinkedIn, can provide valuable insights. While there are concerns about the self-selecting and potentially unrepresentative nature of the information collected, data-scraping and analytical tools can be used to provide useful new and real-time insights into innovation activity. 

Companies such as Digital Science are using AI tools for mapping the trajectories of science, and these could be used for mapping innovation. Scientists have created algorithms and used machine learning to study complex and emerging phenomena such as health and weather forecasting, and these could be repurposed and applied to measuring innovation. Real understanding of innovation requires a deep dive into what goes on within organizations. It has to take into account how risks are assessed, decisions are made and implemented, and how the rocky roads of internal politics and organizational battles over resources are navigated. If government policy is to be informed, quantitative indicators of innovation performance must be complemented with qualitative case studies. For these case studies to be valuable they have to comply with formal research method protocols to ensure they are relevant, accurate and can be compared. 

Government innovation policies have to be based upon, and directed towards improving, the performance and practices of the new industrial era. The way innovation occurs is changing – and so the indicators that measure it must respond to this new reality.

Let Modi & Trump Kiss and Make Up

US-India ties are once again on the skids. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get an opportunity to fix it at the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, this week, and later when he visits the US next month — if he gets a willing partner in US President Donald Trump. India and the US are often mentioned in the same breath as the world’s largest and oldest democracies. Today, there’s another common ground — both countries are engaged with an aggressive China.

US President Donald Trump announced plans to levy a 10% tax on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports, while India grapples with China’s stance on the newly made Union territory of Ladakh, along with its support to Pakistan in the UN Security Council over the Kashmir issue.

An opportunity, thus, presents itself to India by which it can kill two birds with one stone: isolate China by forging closer ties with the US on the economic front, and bolster its economy by increasing exports to the US.

The ministry of commerce recently identified 203 product lines where Indian goods could replace Chinese goods in the US and American goods in China. GoI has stated that India will bilaterally seek more access for these products from the US and the Chinese governments by asking them to remove non-tariff barriers wherever they exist. But, in reality, not much action has been taken by GoI on this front.

Data from a July SBI research report (bit.do/e5hWY) stated that while exports to the US haven’t risen by much, exports to China in certain raw material and food sectors like rubber and vegetables have doubled.

This is unlikely to be sustainable, given that China would view this increased dependence (especially for agricultural goods) negatively, and look to diversify its supply of these items. Therefore, at this point and time, India must pursue the US more aggressively, even at the cost of China.

India already has the market access for the 203 items in the US and is a direct competitor of China, making substitution easier. Additionally, the US has increased tariffs for China on these items, thereby indirectly facilitating higher export potential from India on these goods that include electrical machinery and equipment, base metals and articles.

US imports from China of these items are worth $30.6 billion, while India’s exports of these lines to the US are only worth $2.4 billion. India exports nearly $22 billion of these items to the world. A number of agricultural items and chemicals, too, have the potential for greater export to the US.

There have been some arguments that greater economic relations with China will reduce the likelihood of conflict. But the truth is, despite China being India’s largest trading partner, there is strong evidence that this isn’t stopping Beijing from pursuing its geopolitical ends at India’s expense.

India is China’s 11th-largest trading partner, and the Chinese are unlikely to be considerate of Indian interests over those of their ‘all weather friend’ Pakistan where China’s investments run to over $60 billion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) alone.

The US, on the other hand, has proved to be a more reliable economic and political partner, showing intent on several fronts that include focusing on the ‘Indo-Pacific’ in its 2017 National Security Strategy. However, for intent to be translated into concrete economic action, India needs to put the US’ interests above China’s, and could even consider placing tariffs on certain Chinese goods in a manner that could benefit the US — that is, cross-subsidise US imports by increasing tariffs on the Chinese.

India could also do their ‘small bits’ to help the US. For instance, India’s imposition of duty on American Harley-Davidson motorcycles has been a pet peeve of the US president.

India gains little from this, while its removal could lead to higher replacement of Chinese goods with India’s in the US. Having Indian goods replace China’s would also be domestically palatable in the US, given that the US trade deficit with China is mammoth, and because of the ongoing trade war.

This is not to suggest that India stops engaging with China on the trade and investment fronts. What India should seek, instead, is a reprioritisation that will maximise long-term benefits to India, something that a stronger trade relationship with the US will definitely help achieve.

India’s foreign policy has not always been driven by its economic interests. For the major part of its post-Independence history, trade has followed flag — political convictions making or breaking trade relations with nations.

However, it is time for flag to follow trade. It is imperative that India’s foreign policy not only supports but actively drives our economic interests. If we are serious in our endeavours to achieve a $5 trillion economy by 2024, we need to walk the talk.

Under Trump, India assumed a prominent position in the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy. But trade issues now threaten to derail the relationship, especially with the removal of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for India, and India’s reciprocal tariffs on the US’ decision to unilaterally impose steel and aluminium tariffs on India. Bilateral trade had more than doubled in value between 2008 and 2018 to over $10 billion. The US is now India’s secondlargest trading partner and largest export destination, with India having a small trade surplus of around $20 billion.

The US is also the largest provider of foreign direct investment (FDI) — around $45 billion — to India, with India investing close to $10 billion in the US. There are some contentious, but not insoluble, issues in the US-India trade dialogue. In pharmaceuticals, patents and pricing issues remain under discussion.

India doesn’t agree with the US on the evergreening of patents. The US is unhappy with India’s price controls on medical products such as stents. But with the Trump government also pushing for lower medicine prices in the US, and India wanting to develop its secondary and tertiary medical system, the potential for collaboration between the two is huge.

Agriculture offers great opportunities, especially after the Bali round. But these remain contentious. There are differences in certification of meat and dairy products. India can export meat to Japan and the EU, but not to the US, as its meat inspection system is different. Likewise, India is able to import dairy products from the EU, Australia and New Zealand. But US suppliers are unable to certify that their products did not originate from animals fed with ruminant products.

Both these contentious issues could be resolved to mutual advantage. As India strives to double farm incomes, it could also benefit hugely from US technology in a range of high-valued agricultural products and agro-processing to unleash a second Green Revolution. Energy — especially liquefied gas — remains another source of collaboration.

No Better? Know Better
Likewise, in telecom and IT, India will become a major market for US companies, but also a major supplier of cheaper back-office solutions. There is also growing cooperation on regulatory standards and approaches. Issues of data protection and visas have surfaced recently.

But they should be resolved to make this an area of much greater mutual collaboration between companies of the two countries. India will need to choose between the more business-friendly US, and competing EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) approach, which provides stronger data privacy.

India’s ecommerce restrictions are another source of irritation. Companies like Amazon and Walmart have been hurt, not to mention millions of Indian consumers beginning to get their benefits, of an assured quality, delivered at reasonable prices. India should encourage more competition in this area rather than impose restrictions on global ecommerce companies that also provide avenues for Indian companies to enter global value chains.

With Us and Against Us
Trump wants to position India as a strategic ally against China. But he curiouslyputs China and India in the same basket. He has declared that both China and India should not get ‘developing country’ classification at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). He called India an ‘import tariff king’, and threatened India with a Section 301probe.

But while India is the world’s seventh-largest economy, it remains a low middle-income developing country, with a GDP per capita of around $1,800, five times lower than China’s per-capital income. India’s small trade surplus of $20 billion with the US is no comparison to China’s trade surplus of over $400 billion. Ireland and Vietnam have much larger trade surpluses with the US, but don’t draw the same censure.

Moreover, unlike China, India is no security threat, and has also substantially increased its defence purchases from the US to $15 billion, with more orders in the pipeline. The US should pull India on its side in its ‘war’ with China. India, like the US, also has a huge trade deficit with China, and would like to see that imbalance corrected. It must also stop fiddling with its tariffs and keep arguing that they remain within WTO bounds — especially if it wants a more open global trading system.

India remains a small player in global trade, and will benefit hugely from greater openness. It must attract more FDI from US companies exiting China by improving its competitiveness, not by closing its doors.

Trump’s approach to trade also raises doubts in India over his strategic security partnership. You can’t shake one hand and get a slap from the other. A US-India free trade agreement (FTA), which seems so far-fetched now, might be a grand goal for Trump and Modi. But that would cement the strategic security partnership between two great democracies.

Weekend Special:Tale of Potato & Modern Economics

The humble potato fueled the rise of liberal capitalism. What we eat matters to us – but we’re not sure whether it ought to matter to anyone else. We generally insist that our diets are our business and resent being told to eat more fruit, consume less alcohol and generally pull our socks up when it comes to dinner.

The efforts in 2012-13 by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to ban the sale of extra large soft drinks failed precisely because critics viewed it as an intrusion into the individual’s right to make their own dietary choices. “New Yorkers need a mayor, not a nanny,” shouted a full-page advert in the New York Times. And when a school near Rotherham in northern England eliminated Turkey Twizzlers and fizzy drinks from its canteen, outraged mothers rose in protest, insisting that their children had the right to eat unhealthy food.

At the same time, many Britons are troubled by reports that as a nation their fondness for sugar and disdain for exercise will eventually bankrupt the NHS; there is considerable support for the idea that very overweight people should be required to lose weight before being treated. We agree that our poor dietary choices affect everyone, but at the same time, we’re certain that we have a right to eat what we want.

The story about how we started to think this way about food is closely linked to the rise of the potato as a national starch. Britain’s love for the potato is bound up with notions of the utilitarian value of a good diet and how a healthy citizenry is the engine room of a strong economy. To find out more about that, we need to go back to the 18th century.

Enlightened eating

Today’s somewhat uneasy marriage of public health and individual choice is the result of new ideas that emerged during the Enlightenment. During the 18th century, states across Europe began to rethink the bases of national wealth and strength. At the heart of these new ideas was a new appreciation of what we would now call public health. Whereas in earlier centuries rulers wished to prevent famines that might cause public unrest, in the 18th century, politicians became increasingly convinced that national strength and economic prowess required more than an obedient population disinclined to riot.

They believed it required a healthy, vigorous, energetic workforce of soldiers and labourers. This alone would ensure the success of industry. “The true foundations of riches and power,” affirmed 18th-century philanthropist Jonas Hanway, “is the number of working poor.” For this reason, he concluded:

… every rational proposal for the augmentation of them merits our regard. The number of the people is confessedly the national stock: the estate, which has no body to work it, is so far good for nothing; and the same rule extends to a whole country or nation.

“There is not a single politician,” agreed the Spanish thinker Joaquin Xavier de Uriz, writing in 1801, “who does not accept the clear fact that the greatest possible number of law-abiding and hard-working men constitutes the happiness, strength and wealth of any state”. Statesmen and public-spirited individuals therefore devoted attention to building this healthy population. It was the productivity puzzle of the 18th century.

Clearly, to do this required an ample supply of nourishing, healthy food. There was a growing consensus across Europe that much of the population was crippling itself with poorly chosen eating habits. For instance, the renowned Scottish physician William Buchan argued this in his 1797 book Observations Concerning the Diet of the Common People. Buchan believed that most “common people” ate too much meat and white bread, and drank too much beer. They did not eat enough vegetables. The inevitable result, he stated, was ill health, with diseases such as scurvy wreaking havoc in the bodies of working men, women and children. This, in turn, undermined British trade and weakened the nation.

Feeble soldiers did not provide a reliable bulwark against attack, and sickly workers did not enable flourishing commerce. Philosophers, political economists, doctors, bureaucrats and others began to insist that strong, secure states were inconceivable without significant changes in the dietary practices of the population as a whole. But how to ensure that people were well-nourished? What sorts of food would provide a better nutritional base than beer and white bread? Buchan encouraged a diet based largely on whole grains and root vegetables – which he insisted were not only cheaper than the alternatives, but infinitely more healthful.

He was particularly enthusiastic about potatoes. “What a treasure is a milch cow and a potatoe garden, to a poor man with a large family!” he exclaimed. The potato provided ideal nourishment. “Some of the stoutest men we know, are brought up on milk and potatoes,” he reported. Buchan maintained that once people understood the advantages they would personally derive from a potato diet, they would happily, of their own free will, embrace the potato.

The benefits would accrue both to the individual workers and their families, whose healthy bodies would be full of vigour, and to the state and economy overall. Everyone would win. Simply enabling everyone to pursue their own self-interest would lead to a better-functioning body politic and a more productive economy.

The marvellous spud

Buchan was one of a vast number of 18th-century potato enthusiasts. Local clubs in Finlandsponsored competitions aimed at encouraging peasants to grow more potatoes, Spanish newspapers explained how to boil potatoes in the Irish fashion, Italian doctors penned entire treatises on the “marvellous potato” and monarchs across Europe issued edicts encouraging everyone to grow and eat more potatoes.

In 1794, the Tuileries Gardens in Paris were dug up and turned into a potato plot. The point is that there were an awful lot of public-spirited individuals in the 18th century who were convinced that well-being and happiness, both personal and public, could be found in the humble potato.

These potato-fanciers never suggested, however, the people should be obliged to eat potatoes. Rather, they explained, patiently, in pamphlets, public lectures, sermons and advertisements, that potatoes were a nourishing, healthy food that you, personally, would eat with enjoyment. There was no need to sacrifice one’s own well-being in order to ensure the well-being of the nation as a whole, since potatoes were perfectly delicious. Individual choice and public benefit were in perfect harmony. Potatoes were good for you, and they were good for the body politic.

This, of course, is more or less the approach we take to public health and healthy eating these days. We tend to favour exhortation – reduce fat! exercise more! – over outright intervention of the sort that has seen Mexico impose a 10% tax on sugary drinks, or indeed Bloomberg’s soda ban.

Our hope is that public education campaigns will help people choose to eat more healthily. No one is protesting against Public Health England’s Eatwell Guide, which provides advice on healthy eating, because it’s useful and we’re perfectly free to ignore it. Our hope is that everyone, of their own free will, will choose to adopt a more healthy diet, and that this confluence of individual good choices will lead to a stronger and more healthy nation overall. But our modern belief that a confluence of individual self-interested choices will lead to a stronger and more healthy nation originated in the new, 18th-century ideas reflected in the works of Buchan and others.

It is no coincidence that this faith in a wonderful confluence of individual choice and public good emerged at exactly the moment the tenets of modern classical economics were being developed. As Adam Smith famously argued, a well-functioning economy was the result of everyone being allowed to pursue their own self-interest. He wrote in 1776:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

The result of each person pursuing their own interest was a well-functioning economic system. As he asserted in his Theory Of Moral Sentiments:

Every individual … neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it … he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

Strong men and beautiful women

The best way to ensure a strong national economy, in the view of classical economists such as Adam Smith, is to let each person look after their own well-being. The worst thing the state could do was to try to intervene in the market. Interventions in the food market were seen as particularly pernicious, and likely to provoke the very shortages that they aimed to prevent. This rather novel idea began to be expressed in the early 18th century and became increasingly common as the Enlightenment progressed. As we know, faith in the free market has now become a cornerstone of modern capitalism. These ideas have profoundly shaped our world.

It was perhaps inevitable that Adam Smith should particularly recommend potatoes. His idea of the free market was premised on the conviction that national wealth was possible only when people were happy and pursued their own self-interest. Happiness and comfort, in turn, required a plentiful supply of pleasant and nutritious food – and this is what potatoes offered, in Smith’s view. Not only was the potato far more productive than wheat – Smith calculated this carefully – but it was also incredibly nourishing. As he noted, “the strongest men and the most beautiful women” in Britain lived on potatoes. “No food can afford a more decisive proof of its nourishing quality, or of its being peculiarly suitable to the health of the human constitution,” he concluded.

Smith linked the personal benefits individuals would derive from a greater consumption of potatoes to a greater flourishing of the economy. If planted with potatoes, agricultural land would support a larger population, and “the labourers being generally fed with potatoes” would produce a greater surplus, to the benefit of themselves, landlords and the overall economy. In Smith’s vision, as in that of William Buchan and countless other potato advocates, if individuals chose to eat more potatoes, the benefits would accrue to everyone. Better input of potatoes would result in better economic outputs.

In keeping with the individualism that underpinned Smith’s model of political economy, he did not recommend that people be obliged to grow and eat potatoes. His emphasis rather was on the natural confluence of individual and national interest. Indeed, potential tensions between personal and public interest were addressed directly by 18th-century potato enthusiasts, concerned precisely to see off any suggestion that they were subordinating individual freedom to collective well-being.

John Sinclair, president of the British Board of Agriculture in the 1790s, observed that some people might imagine farmers should be left to make their own decisions about whether to grow more potatoes. He conceded that: “If the public were to dictate to the farmer how he was to cultivate his grounds”, this might “be the source of infinite mischief”.

Providing information to inform individual choice, “instead of being mischievous, must be attended with the happiest consequences”. Advice and information, rather than legislation, indeed remain the preferred techniques for transforming national food systems for most policy makers. Nutritional guidelines, not soda bans.

The 18th century thus witnessed the birth of ideas that continue to be immensely influential today. The conviction that everyone pursuing their own economic and dietary interests would lead to an overall increase in the wealth and health of nations lies at the heart of the new, 18th-century model of thinking about the economy and the state.

Potato politics

It’s this idea – that private gain can lead to public benefits – that underpins the 18th-century interest in the potato as an engine for national growth. It also explains why during the 20th century, states and educational institutions across Europe established official potato research institutes, funded scientific expeditions to the Andes aimed at discovering new, more productive varieties of potato, and generally promoted potato consumption.

The British Commonwealth Potato Collection, like the German Groß Lüsewitz Potato Collection, or the Russian N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry, are reminders of this longer history linking potatoes, personal eating habits, and national well-being.

These connections between potatoes, political economy and a strong state moreover explain the current Chinese government’s obsession with potatoes. China is now the world’s leading producer of potatoes, which arrived in China in the 17th century but which have long been viewed as a food of the poor, while rice remains the prestige starch. For some decades, the Chinese state has been working to increase potato consumption and since 2014 there has been a particularly big push. There has been a great deal of pro-potato propaganda as regards both the cultivation and the consumption of the tuber.

Just as was the case in 18th-century Europe, this new Chinese potato promotion is motivated by concerns about the broader needs of the state, but it is framed in terms of how individuals will benefit from eating more potatoes. State television programmes disseminate recipes and encourage public discussion about the tastiest ways of preparing potato dishes. Cookbooks don’t just describe how potatoes can help China achieve food security – they also explain that they are delicious and can cure cancer.

As in the 18th century, in today’s China the idea is that everyone – you, the state, the population as a whole – benefits from these healthy eating campaigns. If everyone pursued their own self-interest, potato advocates past and present have argued, everyone would eat more potatoes and the population as a whole would be healthier. These healthier people would be able to work harder, the economy would grow and the state would be stronger. Everyone would benefit, if only everyone just followed their own individual self-interest.

The 18th century saw the emergence of a new way of thinking about the nature of the wealth and strength of the nation. These new ideas emphasised the close links between the health and economic success of individuals, and the wealth and economic strength of the state. What people ate, just like what they accomplished in the world of work, has an impact on everyone else.

At the same time, this new commercial, capitalist model was premised fundamentally on the idea of choice. Individuals should be left to pursue their own interests, whether economic or dietary. If provided sufficient latitude to do this, the theory runs, people will in the end choose an outcome that benefits everyone.

A small history of the potato allows us to see the long-term continuities that unite political economy and individual diets into a broader liberal model of the state. It also helps explain the vogue for the potato in contemporary China, itself undergoing a significant reorientation towards a market economy.

The connections between everyday life, individualism and the state forged in the late 18th century continue to shape today’s debates about how to balance personal dietary freedom with the health of the body politic. The seductive promise that, collectively and individually, we can somehow eat our way to health and economic well-being remains a powerful component of our neoliberal world.

WTO may still emerge as the lynchpin of global trade governance

Another salvo from Washington, on Indian Independence Day, stripsIndia and China of the “developing nations” status. At any other moment, both India and China would have been pleased to rid themselves of this tag, but not at this time. For, there is a catch. President Donald Trump has reiterated his long-standing belief that India and China have benefited immensely by misusing the developing country tag, thereby profiting unduly from privileges conferred on such countries. He blamed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for this lapse, and reiterated his threat to leave the world’s largest multilateral trade forum.

Meanwhile, the narrative from China is one of injury to the national psyche due in part to the “centuries of humiliation” they claim to have suffered at the hands of western powers. Their growing economic and military might presents the Chinese, in their own words, an opportunity to set the historical record straight. For the US, these are anxious times for fear of losing the mantle of the world’s preeminent power after at least three decades of unchecked hegemony. Chinese rise and US fears are straining their bilateral trade and causing serious collateral damage to the institution that has served well the cause of trade, growth and stability of the world economy in the post-WWII period.

A question uppermost on trade economists’ minds is whether the WTO is worth saving. One way to evaluate the question is to investigate its achievements, with the obvious caveat that the past is an imperfect guide to the future. Since the WTO came into being in 1995, the world has witnessed massive changes, some deeply structural in nature. New technologies have transformed the way we live, communicate, and trade. In 1995, less than 0.8 per cent of the world’s population used the internet; in June 2019 it was around 57 per cent. Communication technologies and containerisation lowered costs and boosted volumes of components moving in and out of countries allowing production chains to become increasingly international and also much more complex. An iPhone, for example, has about 14 main components that are manufactured by 7-8 multinational companies with branches in more than 40 countries. Overall trade in goods has nearly quadrupled since 1995, while WTO members’ import tariffs have declined by an average of 15 per cent. Over half of world trade is now tariff-free (WTO, 2015). Growth in trade has exceeded growth in world GDP and has been associated with improved standards of living. Today, the WTO regulates more than 98 per cent of global trade flows among its members.

It also monitors the implementation of free trade agreements, produces research on global trade and economic policy, and serves as a forum for settling trade disputes between nations. An alternate way to look at the WTO’s success is not to focus on how much trade it has helped create and the corresponding tariff reductions, but the damage in trade value it has helped avert. One estimate puts the value of avoided trade wars at $340 billion per year.

When the US-China trade conflict began in July 2018, many were lulled into believing that the sabre-rattling was temporary and the aggressive unilateralism that defined US actions would die a natural death. The US had earlier used Super-301 legislation to designate specific countries as unfair traders, and to threaten them with higher tariffs unless they fell in line. Some countries complied with US pressure to avoid escalation, while others such as India and Brazil refused to negotiate under threat of US sanctions.

In the current instance, however, it does not seem likely that the US will back off. Neither does it seem that the Chinese (or India) will agree to negotiate under duress. In all likelihood, the Chinese will not brook another humiliation, while India at the current juncture is little more than collateral damage. Moreover, it is not possible for India to trade in the developing country status in the WTO without a fight.

In any case, a unilateral finding of unfair trading practices and subsequent action by the US ignoring their own WTO commitments, places other countries on higher moral ground. Under the rules, a measure is defined as unilateral if it is imposed by a country without invoking the WTO dispute settlement procedures or other multilateral international rules and procedures, and which is based solely upon invoking the country’s own criteria. Unilateral measures are inconsistent with the letter and the spirit of multilateralism. Article 23 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) explicitly prohibits members from doing so.

A gracious explanation is that the US is using its power to discipline the trading system for the benefit of all. China (and India), they claim, has been a free-rider for long having taken advantage of the open trading regime while itself being opaque on subsidies, state owned enterprises and intellectual property. And since dispute settlement in the WTO has become dysfunctional and appeals to the appellate body (AB) are taking longer than the prescribed 90 days, the US has taken matters in its own hands, playing the part of benign dictator for the common good.

While this view might have some isolated resonance, it is extremely charitable. There is no justification for subverting the multilateral process, especially by the country that was instrumental in putting it together in the first place. Further, the AB will cease to function in December unless the US agrees to appoint a replacement to maintain the required quorum of three members. Without the AB, the law of the jungle will replace the rule of law, hurting the weak and destroying the credibility of the entire process.

There is no doubt that the multilateral process needs to be fortified and it cannot happen until the strongest member is vested in it. Multilateralism implies that every country agrees to bind itself to the same rules as other (smaller) countries even when it conflicts with self-interest. Admittedly, trade is much more complex now; negotiation among 164 members on standards to generate consensus is at best hard, and at worst, impossible. The alternative, regionalism, involves a limited number of countries and ostensibly relies less on “altruism” of the members and more on mutual gain. But it suffers from an exclusionary bias.

Multilateral agreement is still the best, and when reasonable men and women sit around the table, a solution can be found. In the absence of pure multilateral negotiations, interested members could negotiate plurilaterally with the aim of achieving multilateral outcomes. But burden-sharing, as opposed to altruism among the big players, will remain an integral part of the multilateral approach. The WTO may still emerge as the lynchpin of global trade governance. For, as the Mirza Ghalib said: Ranjh se khugar hua insaan to mit jaata hai ranj/ Mushkilein mujh par padi itni ki asaan ho gayeen.

Pakistan is becoming China’s colonial outpost

 Like a typical school bully, China doesn’t have a lot of friends. Having joined with the US to impose international sanctions on its former vassal, North Korea, China has just one real ally left – an increasingly fragile and debt-ridden Pakistan. China, however, has little in common with Pakistan, beyond the fact that both are revanchist states not content with their existing borders. Despite China’s brutal repression of its Muslims, Pakistan remains Beijing’s tail-wagging client. The marriage of convenience between the world’s largest autocracy and the fountainhead of jihadist terrorism is founded on a shared strategy to contain India.

In the latest example, China engineered an informal, closed-door UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting on Jammu & Kashmir and then, despite the absence of a joint statement, presented to the media a phony summary of the discussions. Few would be surprised by Beijing’s conduct or by its attempt to aid Pakistan’s effort to internationalise the Kashmir issue, including by obscuring China’s own status as the third party in the J&K dispute. China occupies one-fifth of the original princely state J&K, including the areas it seized up to 1962 and the trans-Karakoram tract ceded to it by Pakistan in 1963.

China’s UNSC machinations highlight the fact that the longstanding Sino-Pakistan nexus has been cemented on the issue of J&K, where the borders of India, Xinjiang, Tibet, Pakistan and Afghanistan converge. The Chinese-built Karakoram highway, since it opened in 1978, has epitomised this nexus. The highway passes through J&K’s Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan region, just like the axis’s new symbol: China’s so-called economic corridor to Pakistan.

Not content with stationing thousands of its own troops in Pakistani-occupied J&K, ostensibly to protect its strategic projects, China is working to enlarge its military footprint in Pakistan. China’s “economic corridor” seeks to turn Pakistan into its land corridor to the Indian Ocean, with Jiwani (located near Gwadar and just 170 km from Iran’s India-aided Chabahar port) likely to become a Chinese naval hub. China has already secured naval turnaround facilities at Karachi.

Slowly but surely, Pakistan is becoming China’s colonial outpost, primarily aimed at checkmating India. After the Pulwama massacre of Indian paramilitary soldiers, Beijing came to Pakistan’s help by shielding it from international calls to take concrete anti-terrorist steps. For a decade, China vetoed UN action against Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar, until it could no longer sustain its obstruction. But China still blocks India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, asserting that – as happened in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation – India’s entry must be counterbalanced with Pakistan’s admission.

Indeed, China has long played the Kashmir card against India. For example, in 2010, it started the practice of issuing stapled visas to Indian citizens from J&K and denied a visa to the Indian army’s Northern Command chief for a bilateral defence dialogue on grounds that he commanded “a disputed area, J&K”. It also officially shortened the length of the border it shares with India by purging the line separating Indian J&K from Chinese-held J&K. The then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned that, “Beijing could be tempted to use India’s ‘soft underbelly’, Kashmir.”

Although J&K is divided among three countries, only India was maintaining special powers and privileges for its portion. Even if India had maintained J&K’s special constitutional status, the Sino-Pakistan J&K pincer movement would have continued. This is why China shields Pakistan’s proxy war by terror against India, even though it has locked up more than a million Muslims in the name of cleansing their minds of extremist thoughts. In fact, like Pakistan, China wages asymmetric warfare against India. This is in the form of a “salami slicing” strategy of furtive, incremental territorial encroachments in Ladakh and elsewhere.

Turning Ladakh into a Union territory will likely advance India’s effort to counter China’s hostile manoeuvrings, including increasing military forays and incursions. The J&K constitutional change also compartmentalises India’s territorial disputes with Pakistan and China centred in that region, although India today faces Chinese troops on both flanks of its portion of J&K because of Chinese military presence in the Pakistan-occupied areas.

India, however, needs to recognise the difference between being cautious and being meek: The former helps avert problems, while the latter invites more pressure. China has the temerity to talk about human rights in Indian J&K and chastise India for unilateralism, while India stays mum on the Tibet repression, Xinjiang gulag policy and Hong Kong excesses. Indeed, Beijing has sought to masquerade as a neutral party because India is loath to remind the world that China, in unlawful occupation of parts of J&K, is directly involved in the dispute. India has shunned even indirect criticism, such as reminding Beijing that those living in glass houses should not throw stones.

Worse still, New Delhi has allowed China to reap a growing trade surplus with India that has more than doubled in the past five years and now dwarfs India’s total defence spending. This, in effect, means Beijing is able to have its cake and eat it too. India must subtly change tack, or else the fire-breathing dragon will be emboldened to step up hostile acts.

Marriage and Fidelity in the Internet Age

Revolutions have a way of upending not only political landscapes, but also marital and family terrain. The French Revolution’s emphasis on individual rights shifted marital norms well into the post-Napoleonic era, while the Industrial Revolution took women and children out of the home and into the factories. Even today, aftershocks still reverberate from the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s.

What of the iRevolution? Does the Internet’s seismic impact on our professional and personal lives portend major or minor upheavals to our sexual norms? Do rumors of screen-addicted Millennials destroying marriage, or of Facebook liaisons spawning Boomer divorces, have any basis in reality? And is monogamy — as explained by Vox on Netflix — no longer attainable or desirable?

iFidelity: The State of Our Unions 2019 was released recently.  Using data drawn from a survey conducted by YouGov, the study examines the links between sexual fidelity online and relationship quality among American men and women. The iFidelity report also offers the first generational overview of how Americans think about sexual fidelity in the wake of the iRevolution.

One of the major takeaways: Today’s young adults are markedly more likely to cross online boundaries related to sex and romance. For example, of Millennials who have ever been in a cohabiting or married relationship, 18 percent have engaged in sexual talk online with someone besides their partner/spouse. This is compared with 3 percent of Greatest/Silent generation participants, 6 percent of Baby Boomers, and 16 percent of Gen Xers.

1. We still prize fidelity and the ability to stick together. While the General Social Survey records an alarming eight-percentage-point drop over the past decade in the belief that extramarital sex is “always wrong,” the vast majority (75 percent) of Americans still consider it so. Even more telling, in responding to our follow-up question asking “How would you feel if your spouse/partner” engaged in sexual infidelity on or offline “without your knowledge and consent,” the vast majority (70 percent) called most of the infidelity behaviors listed cheating. For example, 89 percent of participants felt that if a partner or spouse engaged in vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone other than them, that would be cheating. Furthermore, 82 percent of participants labeled sexting as cheating, and 76 percent called having a secret emotional relationship “in real life” cheating. Even in 2019, most Americans don’t want their partners having a relationship online or in real life with someone else.

2. Generation X started it, not Millennials. Yes, the kids who grew up with The Brady Bunch, not Full House, are the ones who began blurring online boundaries. Behaviorally, both Generation X and Millennials admit to real-life affairs at the same rates as their parents and grandparents in the Silent/Greatest and Boomer generations (about 15 percent), with the majority in all generations faithful to their partners. However, both GenXers and Millennials are much more likely to create porous Internet boundaries — including sexting, cybersex, and following a former boyfriend/girlfriend online.

3. The cohabitation effect persists, and men still claim the permissiveness prize. While eclipsed by the report’s more significant generational findings, worth noting are differences that emerged between relationship types and genders. What researchers call the “cohabitation effect” exists in our survey as well, with individuals in cohabiting relationships being more likely than married individuals to admit to both real-life and online infidelity. Men and women also distinguished themselves, with men responding more permissively in both cheating behaviors and attitudes.

4. Most important: i-Infidelity matters, and following your ex has repercussions. Porous electronic boundaries equate to more problematic relationships, with those most open to online infidelity the least happy and most likely to feel their current marriages or relationships will break up. Conversely, American men and women who refrain from emotional and sexual entanglements in the real and virtual worlds enjoy the most committed, stable, and happy relationships.

A tendency to jettison boundaries once a computer screen lights up puts younger generations onto riskier paths that threaten their future marital and relationship well-being. Where the Sexual Revolution of the ’60s dismantled barriers, perhaps the iRevolution calls for reconstructing a few of the barricades that once kept our relationships intact.

The Insidious Work by Google

Former Google employee Zachary Vorhies went public as a whistleblower on August 14, revealing to investigative watchdog group Project Veritas that Google is attempting to manipulate U.S. elections in a bid to “overthrow the United States.”

Vorhies made the decision to go public after Google called in a U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation swat team to perform a “wellness check” on him. Apparently, one of his co-workers found out he had previously leaked internal Google documents to Project Veritas, and reported him. Google sent Vorhies a “cease and desist” letter, which prompted him to post a message on Twitter saying that all the Google documents he possessed would be immediately released to the public if anything happened to him.

That is when Google called the police to report that Vorhies might be mentally ill.

Vorhies later described his “wellness check” to Project Veritas: “[T]hey got inside the gate, the police, and they started banging on my door …. And so the police decided that they were going to call in additional forces. They called in the FBI, they called in the swat team. And they called in a bomb squad. [T]his is a large way in which [Google tries to] intimidate their employees that go rogue on the company ….”

Vorhies delivered over 950 pages of additional Google documents to Project Veritas and the U.S. Justice Department before revealing his identity to the public in an August 14 interview.

“I thought that our election system is going to be compromised forever by this company that told the American public that it was not going to do any evil,” the former senior Google software engineer told Project Veritas in an on-the-record video interview. “And I saw that they were making really quick moves. … They were intending to scope the information landscape so that they could create their own version of what was objectively true.”

The information Vorhies shared reveals that Google has been engineering its algorithms to promote liberalism and suppress conservatism. These algorithms use something called “machine-learning fairness” to target particular words, phrases and contexts in an effort to promote, alter and manipulate our perceptions of reality. In a nutshell, Google is using “artificial intelligence” to accomplish a very human goal: promote a liberal agenda.

The documents Vorhies released reveal two blacklists, one for websites and another for search terms. After reviewing Vorhies’s documents, Dr. Robert Epstein, who has conducted extensive research on search-engine bias, told Breitbart News: “There are about 400 websites on there that are censored on a list literally called ‘News Blacklist Site for Google Now,’ some of which are very recognizable names, some of which you’ve never heard of.”

These revelations further confirm what Jen Gennai, Google’s head of responsible innovation, said last May in a private conversation secretly recorded by Project Veritas. Google is using its algorithms to keep people like President Donald Trump out of office by deliberately suppressing conservative ideas and promoting a liberal philosophy.

It easy to dismiss these revelations as no big deal, but Google is the most popular search engine in the world. More than 90 percent of all online searches worldwide are conducted through Google or its YouTube subsidiary. And biased Google engineers are deliberately trying to warp people’s perception of the truth for political purposes.

Dr. Epstein, a liberal Hillary Clinton supporter himself, warned that 15 million votes could be shifted to the Democratic Party in the 2020 election due to “artificial intelligence” practices that border on mind-control. Vorhies warned that “the reason why I collected these documents was because I saw something dark and nefarious going on with the company, and I realized that they were going to not only tamper with the elections, but use that tampering with the elections to essentially overthrow the United States.”

For 230 years, the U.S. has been a constitutional republic where people freely elect the representatives who govern them. Now Google’s board of directors is trying to change that; not by abolishing elections, but by biasing algorithms to create their own version of what is objectively true. If they can manipulate what people think is true, they can fundamentally change America into whatever they want. That is why Vorhies told investigative reporter Sara Carter that when people see what Google is doing, “this will actually be taught in universities of what totalitarian states can do with this type of capability.”

The “dark and nefarious” activity that Google is involved in is nothing less that a war on truth itself. Anciently, Seleucid Emperor Antiochus Epiphanes fulfilled this prophecy when he desecrated the temple in Jerusalem with an idol bearing his likeness. But the book of Daniel is primarily for the end time (Daniel 12:4). There is also a political Antiochus who “cast down the truth to the ground” in America.

Barack Obama fulfilled the role of America’s political Antiochus. He is out of office now, but his administration is still at work in Silicon Valley and the mainstream media. This army supported Antiochus when he was in office, and it continues to wage war against the truth now that he is out of office.

Companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft had a close relationship with the Obama administration. Data from the Campaign on Accountability shows Google representatives attended White House meetings more than once a week during Obama’s presidency. During these years, almost 250 people left his administration to work for Google or vice versa. Google is now working to manipulate elections and brainwash a generation.

Political Travel Bans Are Reality World Over

Israel’s decision to bar Tlaib and Omar from visiting may not be wise, but all talk of violation of democratic norms is moronic. In a new story earlier today about Israel’s reported decision to bar congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering the country, The New York Times’ Jerusalem-based correspondent, Isabel Kershner, echoed the opinion of many in the media and the Democratic Party when she wrote that President Trump’s pressuring of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu into blocking the congresswomen’s visit was a grave offense against American democracy.

“Mr. Trump’s decision to recommend that another country block entry to two United States citizens, let alone members of Congress, was one of the most pronounced violations of democratic norms that he has engaged in since taking office in January 2017,” Kershner wrote.

You could convincingly argue, as many have, that blocking Tlaib and Omar’s visit is a bad idea. You could point out that Netanyahu’s apparent reversal on this issue—he was originally inclined to let the two in—is at best a cheap bit of electioneering, and at worst a reflection of weak leadership. You could sing the praises of bipartisanship, or of the power of dialogue to move hearts and minds, or of the open society and its many merits. But describing this as a never-been-seen-before violation of democratic norms—in a news story, mind you, not an analysis or an opinion piece—is simply bonkers.

Let us revisit the facts.

In 2005, Narendra Modi, now India’s prime minister, was getting ready to visit New York and address a rally for Indian-Americans held in Madison Square Garden. The visit never happened: Invoking an obscure 1998 law that prohibits foreign leaders responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom” from receiving a visa to enter the U.S., the State Department argued that having failed to stop deadly riots years earlier in which Hindus killed Muslims in Gujarat, where he was the top official at the time, Modi shouldn’t be allowed in. The Obama administration kept its predecessor’s ban in place for a long time, even though Modi was the only person against whom the 1998 law was ever applied.

Similarly, Great Britain has banned a host of individuals whose opinions or actions it found distasteful: In the 1950s, for example, it refused to let Menachem Begin in, arguing that the Israeli parliamentarian—and future prime minister—was once engaged in violence against Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as a leader of the pre-state paramilitary Irgun. More recently, another Israeli politician, Moshe Feiglin, was instructed to stay out of London as well. Feiglin, read a letter from Britain’s Border and Immigration Agency, was “seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.” The Dutch right-wing MP Geert Wilders received a similar note, this time from the Home Office, informing him that his opinions “threaten community harmony and therefore public safety.”

You may be shocked to learn that none of the aforementioned cases was described in terms of a severe blow to the body politic or a treasonous assault on the core values of western democracy. Instead, it was understood in context: Exercising their right to defend themselves, democracies reserve the right to keep out anyone they feel might endanger them in any way. American law, for example, goes on at length regarding the various categories of people who may be barred from entering the United States, including those with communicable diseases, those convicted of certain crimes, and—drumroll, please—anyone who “seeks to enter the United States to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in… any activity a purpose of which is the opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the government of the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means.”

Israel has similar laws. Its argument that avid supporters of a movement, BDS, whose overtly stated goal is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state represent a threat to the country may not be politically savvy, but nor is it unprecedented or indefensible.

In the coming days, we are likely to hear much more about Netanyahu and Trump marching their respective countries towards illiberalism and stupidity. Maybe. But in this, they have plenty of help from scores of opposition pundits and politicians, who are—like clockwork—addressing these moves not with reason or solid argument or even simple, genuine feeling, but with outlandish statements that are at best ignorant of history and at worst outright lies. Democracy dies not only in darkness, but in madness as well.

Imran’s Toxic Tweet Tantrums Vitiates Strained Relations Further

If there is one thing Imran Khan perhaps picked up during his recent visit to Washington DC, it is how to work himself into a Twitter-rage. But his outburst on Sunday surpasses anything Donald Trump could have worked up – in venom, stupidity, and absurdity. Compared to this frenzied eruption, Trump actually comes across as calm and reasoned. The US President has twitted many world leaders on Twitter, but one can’t think of an instance where he has lashed out so viscerally to the extent of going completely apeshit, as Imran Khan has towards Narendra Modi.

Before we get into the weeds of Imran Khan’s tan-twitter-trum (indeed, someone asked “What is he smoking?”), let’s just say this: after this outburst, there’s fat chance that India will talk to Pakistan, or more specifically, of Modi will talk to Khan. This is serious katti, folks. Stranger things have happened, but don’t expect a Modi-Khan bhai-chaara at the United Nations next month (September last week) when they will both be in New York City. Things could get even nastier by then. In fact, don’t be surprised if the Pakistan game-plan is to make it so nasty that the world will sit up and take notice. This is country begging for attention, not just for money.

Sadly for Pakistan, the only thing the world has noticed so far — notwithstanding India’s precipitate action in Jammu and Kashmir — is Pakistani depredations in the region through terrorist attacks, its record of harboring the world’s most wanted terrorists, and going further back, nuclear proliferation. This has been chronicled extensively, and in the past two weeks, even the Saudis, Pakistan’s owners, have had no problems dealing with India amid all the Kashmir brouhaha. That’s because Kashmir notwithstanding, India is seen as the stabilizing force in the region; Pakistan as the destabilising one.

It now turns out to no one’s great surprise that the perpetrator of the horrible Kabul wedding bombing on Saturday claimed by ISIS was a Pakistani suicide bomber named Abu Asim Al-Pakistani, belonging purportedly to ISIS, which claimed credit for the carnage. But according to Pakistan, ISIS/Daesh hardly have a presence in Pakistan, so going by the target, a Shia-Hazara wedding, the finger of suspicion goes to one of Pakistan’s many sunni extremist sectarian groups who frequently target minority Muslim groups.

It is in this context that Imran Khan’s Twitterant needs some deconstruction. Let’s go with the first

India has been captured, as Germany had been captured by Nazis, by a fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist ideology & leadership. This threatens 9m Kashmiris under siege in IOK for over 2 weeks which shd have sent alarm bells ringing across the world with UN Observers being sent there

Straight off the bat, arrant nonsense. Sure, a right wing BJP government has come to power and sections of it has nutters, but India remains a secular Republic with a constitution that guarantees rights to all its citizens regardless of religion. Are Kashmiris under siege? Definitely, but only those in the Valley (J&K is a large composite state turned union territory). But there are 200 million other Muslims across India living in relative harmony. Is it a perfect union and is everything in harmony? Far from it. There are aberrations. Many. Just as there are aberrations in the U.S. or U.K But fundamentally these are secular countries whose constitutions do no discriminate on grounds of religion. Pakistan does – it was founded on the basis of religion and born of religious discrimination and bigotry. Imran Khan may want to look within.

And the threat also extends to Pakistan, the minorities in India & in fact the very fabric of Nehru & Gandhi’s India. One can simply Google to understand the link between the Nazi ideology & ethnic cleansing & genocide ideology of the RSS-BJP Founding Fathers.

This really cracked us up. The country founded by Jinnah on the basis of Islam is suddenly worried about the fabric of Nehru and Gandhi’s India. Fabric fine bro, a little wear and tear, but still fine for minorities to make good in every walk of life (you should know our cricket and film world, if nothing else). It’s Pakistan fabric that is in tatters after being moth-eaten in the first place. Count the minorities in your country (whom your sunni tanzeems are wiping out) after you lost half the country in 1971 because they were darkskinned and spoke a different language. What did you study in Oxford by the way?

Already 4m Indian Muslims face detention camps & cancellation of citizenship. World must take note as this genie is out of the bottle & the doctrine of hate & genocide, with RSS goons on the rampage, will spread unless the international community acts now to stop it.

Yes, the Kashmir Valley has been under curfew, there are hardships, and sure as hell, there will be instances of violence, human rights violations, and heartbreaking stories. Many will be reported in the Indian media (already are). But two things: Reflect on Pakistan’s role in jihadising and radicalisng the youth with religious indoctrination, as much as how much India might have screwed up. You (your predecessor strategists) turned a beautiful plural, syncretic state into a cesspool of bigotry, violence, and hatred – the founding principles of Pakistan.

The World must also seriously consider the safety & security of India’s nuclear arsenal in the control of the fascist, racist Hindu Supremacist Modi Govt. This is an issue that impacts not just the region but the world.

This cracked us up even more, coming from a country that earned the epithet “nuclear walmart” and was caught proliferating with its pants down. Just one word (or name): AQKhan. You are lucky you have not been defanged by P5/UN because it is universally acknowledged that you are the biggest nuclear menace on this planet.

The rest is all the usual garbage aimed at justifying Pakistan’s misbegotten birth and tortured existence. At the rate it is going, it will end soon – without India’s help.

Get India & Pakistan Talk But First Strip Pakistan of Its Nukes

Two “strategic” partners, India and the US, are calling each other a liar. Donald Trump recently said that India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, had asked him to meditate on the disputed Kashmir issue with Pakistan. India promptly denied that claim, effectively calling Trump a liar.

Now India says that it had briefed the US on the moves that it has just made in Kashmir, but the US denies that contention.

India has just changed the status of the Kashmir under its rule wherein people from outside the state can gain domicile there and buy land there.

Kashmir is pristine, and a lot of Indians from other parts of the country and the world would like to buy property there. There then is the question of a concomitant change in the demographics of Kashmir. There is a way out. Kashmir’s adjacent state is Himachal Pradesh, which is mostly Hindu and is a fully integrated state of the Indian Union. Yet, non-natives are not permitted to buy land there.

India has to balance the fears of Kashmiri Muslims with the needs of Kashmiri Hindus, who were driven out of home and hearth by Muslim terrorists when the Kashmir insurgency began in  1989. Kashmiri Hindus have become scattered all over the world but wait for the day when they will be able to return to Kashmir. Indian politicians since 1989 have mainly paid lip service to their cause.

Will India’s new moves allow Kashmiri Hindus to return? Unlikely, because Pakistan is going to ratchet up terrorism in India’s Kashmir and specifically target Kashmiri Hindus were they to return. Secondly, so much Kashmiri blood, both Muslim and Hindu, has been spilt since 1989, that there is bad blood between the two communities. It is unlikely then that the mainstream Kashmiri Muslim would want the Hindu to return.

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, is threatening nuclear war over India’s recent moves in Kashmir. He got Trump on his side over mediation in Kashmir by promising a better result for America in the Afghan end game. But those in the know know that the Americans have always been mediating between India and Pakistan, albeit if only from behind the scenes.

Pakistan has always supported the Taliban, but the Taliban doesn’t always listen to it. Still, after the Americans leave, Pakistan will redirect jihadi forces from Afghanistan to “liberate” Kashmir. There are no ifs and buts about it. This is in Pakistan’s DNA. That’s why they have played a double game with America in Afghanistan for close to two decades. They are not going to give up just when they are reaching their crowning moment.

India will not let go of its Kashmir. That means war between India and Pakistan. But it is not that war that is more threatening to America than Pakistan’s nukes falling into jihadi hands. Pakistan’s military is infiltrated by jihadism. It has operationalized nukes in the hands of field commanders who can act independently of any more stable central authority.

America should try to seek peace between India and Pakistan. But more importantly, and more urgently, it must strip Pakistan of its nukes. A nuke, even a small one, falling into jihadi hands can prove more catastrophic for the West than any amount of war between India and Pakistan.

The most important skills you need to be successful in the modern workplace

No doubt about it, so-called soft skills—those hard-to-measure talents like empathy, adaptability, and a knack for communicating your ideas—need a new name. “‘Soft’ sounds weak, or somehow less important than ‘hard’ or technical skills. That’s completely wrong,” says Heide Abelli, senior vice president for product development at Skillsoft. The company designs and delivers training courses to about 140 million employees in 160 countries around the world. “We refer to them as ‘power skills,’ because, without them, people’s technical skills aren’t running on all cylinders.”

“I call them durable skills,” says Jeremy Auger, a co-founder and chief strategy officer of training company D2L, which numbers Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Fidelity and American Express among its clients. He points out that the average lifespan of a tech skill now is roughly 18 months. Durable skills like creativity, adaptability, and time management, by contrast, never get obsolete. “You can take them with you anywhere in the company, or outside it.”

Power skills, durable skills, human skills, people skills, durable skills, E.Q.: Whatever you want to call them, they’re in big demand now. But, as employers scramble to hire enough high-E.Q. people (including new college grads), and launch massive efforts to instill “power skills” in vast numbers of the employees they’ve already got, one question leaps to mind: Can these skills be taught?

It matters. As companies grapple with digitization, automation, and constant change, creating a culture where people can communicate their ideas is crucial to competitiveness. So are collaboration and creative thinking.

Meanwhile, for employees, as more and more tasks are taken over by algorithms, durable skills are becoming a kind of career insurance. Studies show that people with both technical expertise and strong human skills not only have their pick of jobs these days, but they earn far higher salaries too.

But it’s hard to tell if human skills training helps people change aspects of their personality—being resistant to new experiences, or having tone-deaf social skills, for instance. At the moment, no one has yet come up with a standard way to assess those skills before and after training.

Instead, progress is measured subjectively. After executives complete Skillsoft courses in, for example, giving timely and effective feedback, their direct reports are asked whether, and by how much, the boss has improved. That has obvious disadvantages, of course. A staffer with an axe to grind, or another who’s the manager’s golf buddy, could easily distort the score.

Even so, those evaluations are more than what most rank and file employees get. Training firms and their clients “need to start doing more peer assessments,” says Heide Abelli. “We need to collect and analyze the data.”

And when it comes to gauging the human skills of prospective employees, companies are even deeper in the dark. “Employers rely heavily on what they can glean from candidates in job interviews,” notes Auger, “even though decades of research show that there is little, if any, correlation between how people come across in interviews and their performance later.”

That’s not to say that people can’t change their behavior—even if their fundamental nature doesn’t shift much, and even though reliable quantitative measures don’t (yet) exist. “Power skills” training makes the biggest impact, Abelli says, when it includes three elements: learning, introspection, and practice. The content of Skillsoft’s coursework, delivered online and including videos that show people interacting in real-life business situations, is the jumping-off point for the other two, which is where Abelli believes true change can happen.

“Let’s say that you didn’t like sharing your toys when you were a kid, and you still don’t,” she says. “Maybe that is just part of your basic personality. But this is where introspection is crucial. Reflect on it, and ask yourself why you’re now allowing it to get in your way at work. Then, make a conscious effort to get better at collaborating, and practice, practice, practice.”

If that sounds like hard work, she adds, it is. “But then, learning anything new takes work.”

Auger likens improving a human skill that doesn’t come naturally to learning to play chess. “You can read books about the rules, memorize different strategies, and so on,” he says. “But the only way you really learn the game is by playing over and over again, preferably against someone who’s better at it than you are.” For that reason, D2L’s approach to durable skills training puts a big emphasis on coaching and mentoring from managers and peers, who can point out progress (or the lack of it) in real time.

One caveat: For all that practicing to pay off, employees need a sense of what Auger calls “psychological safety.” Change is hard, and people tend to backslide into their old ways (especially under stress) until new habits take hold. To allow people some leeway for mistakes while they’re still in the practicing stage, he says, “make sure that feedback about learning and development efforts is entirely separate from performance appraisals.” Someone who’s trying out a new behavior—especially if it’s one that doesn’t come naturally—won’t want to practice it, if a misstep could cost him or her a raise or promotion.

But what if a personality quirk turns out to be impervious to change? A manager, for instance, who has been trained in empathy, doesn’t seem to have acquired any. Abelli’s answer: More training, introspection, and practice.

“Anyone can learn power skills, regardless of their personality,” she says. “True, someone may never be a rockstar at a particular skill, but they can get competent at it, so at least they’re not doing damage to the organization.”

Rise of Hinduism Is No Threat to anyone As Normally a Hindu Can’t Be Communal

That Hinduism is a threat to minorities etc. is now the electioneering war-cry of parties vying for power. A new party has suddenly emerged as the new ruling party and the old party is unable to accept its humiliating defeat. They’re now building a narrative that this new entrant is bent upon converting India into a Hindu nation and that the ideology of Hinduism will be a danger to the very fabric of a secular, modern India, that they’ve built. They dislike the idea of a majority Hindu nation because they claim that it will become Brahminical and caste-driven and then will ignore the lower castes, minorities, etc.

 Hinduism as a religion or as a nation has never been a threat to any nation and cannot be a threat because Hindustan of all nations of the world, has never been a conquering race and has never engaged in forced conversions. Conquerors from across the world have come to us to partake in our glory and grandeur and have made India their home. They came to loot and plunder; to impose their narrow ‘my-god versus your-god’ religious ideologies, to criticize all our systems and break our faith in the wisdom of our forefathers. They’ve marched their battalions to conquer our lands and our beliefs, but our civilization still survives only because it is based on the Vedantic foundation of the ‘spiritual-oneness of mankind’, the ‘whole world as our family’, and holds all religions, sincerely practiced, as equal paths to one god.

Political greatness or military power has never been our mission. On the contrary, we believe that the very purpose of India that is Bharat is to conserve and preserve all the spiritual energy of the human race, and whenever circumstances are favourable and whenever people and nations look god-wards, the universal spiritual wisdom of mankind is ever available for the benefit of mankind.

We’re criticized about our caste system because of exploitation and unnecessary privileges, which of course will have to go; but isn’t caste a natural order? Based on our inherited tendencies we can perform different duties. Some can govern; others can be entrepreneurs. Some can teach; others can be farmers. However, these aren’t reasons why we should look up to some and look down on others. Can a teacher be a farmer or can a farmer be a teacher? You may be clever in governing but that is no reason why you should trample on my head; These privileges and judging will have to go. Caste is the only natural way of harmonizing life so that we can grow towards the higher dimensions of life, engaged in a vocation where we can serve society best. People form themselves into groups, and we cannot get rid of that. Wherever we go there will be differences, but that does not mean that there should be these privileges. This is Vedantic culture.

The so-called convent and English-educated-intellectuals, in India and abroad who have been in power so long join forces with political parties in an attempt to demolish the rise of the Hindu-ideology and write articles depicting dangers of a Majoritarian Hindu state; they try to show that yes, the rise of Hinduism is a threat to the lower castes, minorities and the constitutional and other institutes! They deride and protest against the rising hegemony of Hinduism and question how dare India call itself a Hindu nation.

The so-called intellectuals simply ignore and gloss over the fact that throughout history, and even till today, India is always called Hindustan, i.e. the land of Hindus, even by Islamic nations. And, for thousands of years we’ve been enslaved by outside forces of Islam and Christianity, who have tried their best to impose their ‘one-master, one-scripture’ religion on the point of the sword and destroyed our temples and libraries. So, the real wonder would be if Hindus themselves wouldn’t rejoice if Hinduism is on the rise or if India is called Hindustan!

The sad part is that most of the Indians are totally unaware of the wisdom of Hinduism because in the name of secularism our Vedantic composite culture and our religious principles have never been taught to us in mainstream schooling!

In his inaugural Independence day speech, India’s atheist prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, stated that the soul of the nation had been long suppressed, for centuries. Who did Nehru mean when he spoke of a nation? I presume he meant its people.

And so who were India’s people? Well, about 80 percent were Hindu, and the rest were of other religions. So in effect, Nehru was stating that the soul of the Hindu had been long suppressed.

From ancient Times, even before the advent of the proselytising religions the books and thoughts of Hindus existed but were not recognised . When our Vedas were read and interpreted by European intellects they found it so profound, so true and intellectually challenging that they said there must have been a race just like ours who took Sanskrit the most perfect language from the North of Europe to India.

Thus came about the Aryan Invasion theory and the birth of the Indo- European languages. Growing up in India there was nothing to dispel this theory. In Fact our history was Delhi centric and I learnt more about the Islamic invaders than the Cholas, the Vijaynagar Empire, and the great Kingdoms of our ancient lands that spread all through South and East Asia. I only realised this when I travelled to Indonesia and saw so much of my culture and traditions there as well as in Angkor Wat, in Cambodia and then China where there is the oldest Buddhist monastery where they still teach martial arts and say proudly that we got this from India.

But we were brought up to believe in the later aspects of a strange religion called Hinduism- something that never existed apart from the minds of our invaders. After all they said they were people of a book but we could not or did not tell them we were the people of a library. We did not just have the ancient wisdom of the Vedas but so much more.

Somehow we could not explain to them that our philosophy was 5000 years old and it was about the Universal Truth – Sanatam Dharma that all mankind should aspire for.

This philosophy was so unique, so very different from Islam and Christianity that it dared to say we were all one. We each had the God Particle in us and there was no heaven or hell just Universal energy, a higher consciousness that we could all connect to if we wanted.

Some of the greatest scientists and thinkers in the West, including Thoreau, Einstein, Oppenheimer, Schrodinger, the co-creator of quantum theory, was inspired by the Vedic texts and he along with Heisenberg built theories which were consistent with Vedantic concepts. These are just a few.

English writer, novelist, and philosopher, Aldous Huxley was a prominent member of the Huxley family. He was the one who took Vedanta and Upanishads to Huxley family, as well as implemented the principle of ‘ahimsa’ in the family. He was also a Vedantist in the circle of Hindu Swami Prabhavananda and is known for his philosophical book ‘The Perennial Philosophy’, which talks about the mystics of Hinduism.

Here are some of the instances:

  • “The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the clearest and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of the humanity.” [“Sacred Jewels of Yoga: Wisdom from India’s Beloved Scriptures, Teachers, Masters, and Monk”]
  •  “The Bhagavad-Gita is perhaps the most systematic scriptural statement of the Perennial Philosophy. To the world at war, a world that, because it lacks the intellectual and spiritual prerequisites to peace, can only hope to patch up some kind of precarious armed truce, it stands to point, clearly and unmistakably, to the only road of escape from the self-imposed necessity of self-destruction.”

These are the great thinkers from the West that we were not taught about regarding their thoughts on the greatest philosophy given to them by India.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was greatly influenced by Indian scriptures and even challenged the Christian scriptures.

Now that we have the internet we can easily look up the Western thinkers who were inspired by what we can finally call Sanatam Dharma- the Universal Truth. As Indians, we can finally be proud of our heritage and what we gave to humanity.

Some writers claim that about a hundred million Hindus perished in India’s Islamic invasions. Hitler killed about 5 million Jews. That is referred to as the Holocaust. In Germany today, it is a crime to deny the Holocaust.

Even if one believes that figures of the Hindu genocide are inflated, one cannot argue with noted Pakistani writers who state that indeed, Islam, was spread by the sword and that millions perished at the hands of Islamic invaders. So while Jews are allowed to commemorate the Holocaust without question, whenever Hindus bring up the question of their genocide, liberals such as Arundhati Roy, Romila Thapar and Pankaj Mishra shriek them down.

Instead, the liberals keep painting Hindus as communal. I know many Hindus, and none of them is communal. I grew up on history books inspired by Romila Thapar that said that the Islamic invaders were better than the British because they stayed back in India and kept its wealth in India, unlike the Brits who repatriated Indian wealth home. Akbar was praised to the skies. Aurangzeb was only faintly criticized, with just a mention of him having restored the Jaziya. Jaziya to a sixth-grader like me signified nothing.

I grew up liberal. Very, very liberal. I hated the RSS. My family always voted Congress. Then, in the eighties, Bhindranwale and his goons started murdering Hindus in the thousands in Punjab. Their aim was to ethnically cleanse the Punjab of Hindus so that they could create their independent Sikh nation of Khalistan.

For four years this genocide of Hindus in Punjab went on. Very few Sikhs protested against it then; very few Sikhs protest against it now. Arun Shourie says that by 1984 a feeling had grown amongst Indian minorities that the Hindu was effete, that if you slap his one cheek, he would turn the other cheek.

In 1984, Indira Gandhi sent the army into the Golden Temple to get Bhindranwale who was safely ensconced there. Her Sikh bodyguards killed her in revenge the same year, and Congress party goons, almost all Hindu, went on a killing spree of Sikhs all over North India shortly thereafter. This killing spree is widely remembered by Sikhs and even by many Hindus until today, but no one remembers the faceless, nameless Hindus killed by Bhindranwale.

There is a Sikh widows’ colony in Delhi and another one in Kanpur, but there is no Hindu widows’ colony anywhere in Punjab. The Hindu widows there seem to have vanished along with their men.

Soon enough, a Hindutva movement seized upon a rickety mosque in India to build itself. While this Hindutva movement seemed like a naked play for power, it had grounds in reality. European travellers in the Mughal Empire like Manucci and Tavernier regularly chronicle how the Mughals would blow up Hindu temples and build mosques over them.

The Archeological Survey of India, a body which maintains Muslim monuments like the Taj Mahal in pristine condition, has found that some sort of Hindu structure, a temple or a palace, was buried below the Babri Masjid. Atal Behari Vajpayee suggested that there was technology available to move the mosque brick by brick to another less contentious space, but he found no takers in the Muslim community.

Many Muslims believed that if they gave in on one mosque, Hindus would ask for other mosques to be moved.

Unlike Islam and Christianity and Buddhism, my religion doesn’t evangelize. Unlike Islam, Hinduism doesn’t force spouse or children to adhere to Hinduism. This religion has an ethos, a Hindu ethos, that allows all religions to live and breathe freely in India.

This religion may not perfect. But so is no other religion. But this religion is less imperfect than most any other religion. Today, India is ruled by a man who is unabashedly Hindu, unapologetically Hindu, unashamedly Hindu. He is Hindu, so he cannot be communal. I Other religions, and shrieking Hindu liberal fascists, please refrain from painting us as so.

We need to ask: Why have we Indians been denied the knowledge of the Vedantic foundation of our composite culture? Our Constitutions clearly states “India that is Bharat….”, thereby sealing the link of modern India with Bharat, with its rich, ancient Vedantic culture aka Hindu or Hinduism Vedic culture. Up till now, for the past many decades we’re simply following an education system given by the British, which teaches us nothing about the glory and grandeur of India and even the NCERT school text books have nothing good at all to say about Hinduism, though they point out its many ills! No wonder, even the educated Indians, Hindus or otherwise, know nothing about the profound experience-based-Vedantic-wisdom, the foundation of Hinduism.

Education as given to us so far, ignores character-building and nation-building. It has certainly done great good but has also failed to produce selfless leaders and workforce who could be committed to duties and would ‘work in spirit of worship’ for good of society. Our textbooks teach nothing of our ancient Vedantic culture, about our worldview of ‘oneness’, about the goal of life and the purpose of work, about how to manage our mind, build will power, self-control, etc. Our education has failed to develop love for our nation and commitment to the fulfillment of our duties for the good of people.

It is time to discover our Bharatiya roots and supplement and complement the present 3R’s education with inputs from the Vedantic foundation of Hinduism, its worldview of ‘oneness’; that man is Spirit and as Spirit we’re one, the whole world is our family, as depicted in the Upanishads. The idea of oneness is the ideal, the vision to be realized. We’re self-centred now and we don’t feel oneness with others. Our composite culture if taught in schools can give us clarity that the purpose of our daily work and life is to gradually grow from selfishness towards unselfishness, from wherever we’re now, in and thru’ our daily work and life. The inspiration to grow towards good, better, best, is to be provided by the academia in participation with religions.

The Vedantic culture of the Upanishads as elaborated by Vivekananda in English to Western audiences, if it is brought into main stream schooling will teach us from our very childhood to look upon every man, woman, and everyone as God, whatever be their caste, religion, nationality. Let’s not think we can help anyone; schooling should teach us humility, that we can only serve; serve the children of the Lord, serve the Lord Himself, if you have the privilege… Give up the idea that by ruling over others, you can do any good to them.

Poor Issues Management Marks Trudeau’s Team

The recent Ethics Commissioner fiat against Justin Trudeau once again brings the focus back on his ill-assorted that lacks all skills of effective and ethical management. Let us see other instances. The Liberals must learn from recent self-inflicted wounds that they have let fester. The public relations problems that plagued Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent India trip are part of a pattern of poor issues management that politicos say will dog this government if it doesn’t change course quickly.

Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) and his team are prone to self-inflicted wounds and not responding fast enough to nip an issue in the bud before it gets worse, say political strategists. This is evident not only from reaction to the over-the-top outfits and invitation to a man convicted of attempted murder to an exclusive reception in India, but also poorly executed tax reforms, and ethics violations levelled against Trudeau and his finance minister.

On several of these issues the Liberals mistakenly dug in their heels and were unwilling to budge from their original position, said Clive Veroni, an expert on marketing and brand positioning.

“It’s like they stretch out these controversies longer than they need to, rather than dealing with them swiftly and decisively and cutting their losses. This seems to be a bit of a pattern with this prime minister and his cabinet.”

The Prime Minister’s Office will need a “sharper focus” over the next 18 months in the lead-up to the 2019 election to avoid what former Conservative issues manager Laura Kurkimaki said she saw as “self-inflicted wounds” suffered because the Trudeau team wasn’t thorough in its response. It’s important in issues management to get information out quickly and form a plan to explain what happened, she said.

“You need to be clear, truthful, decisive, and in control,” she said, pointing to trouble with small-business tax changes proposed last summer when Liberal MPs appeared on the back foot offering explanations to worried constituents. The issue didn’t die down for weeks.

In another case, the Trudeau family vacation in December 2016 at the private island of the Aga Khan, an Ismaili Muslim leader, remains an issue more than a year later, after the ethics commissioner reported in December 2017 that the prime minister violated conflict-of-interest rules when he vacationed there. For months, Mr. Trudeau maintained he did nothing wrong, claiming a “deep personal relationship” with the Aga Khan and opening further space for criticism when the ethics report found he’d last seen the billionaire religious leader at his father’s funeral in 2000.

“One constant we’ve seen is facts not all being provided upfront,” said Ms. Kurkimaki, an account director with Hill & Knowlton Strategies. “There’s a tendency to dribble out the facts.”

Issues management breakdown

Self-inflicted wounds are avoidable and may indicate Mr. Trudeau is getting bad advice, or that his advisers are afraid to offer honest feedback or the prime minister is unwilling to listen, say strategists.

Led by Trudeau confidants principal secretary Gerald Butts and chief of staff Katie Telford, his team is “the smartest communications and political strategy team in the country,” according to Mr. Veroni, which leaves him with questions following the disastrous showing in India last month.

“I’m just wondering why such a smart communications team is not able to give sound advice to their leader,” he said.

At around the time of the India trip, the Liberals started to drop in the polls. The latest Nanos Research polling results have the Liberals at 35.8 per cent support, coming close to the Conservatives’ 33.1 per cent, while the NDP is back at 19.3 percent. Those results are based on responses from 1,000 Canadians to a phone survey, using a four-week rolling average of 250 respondents each week. A random telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians is accurate 3.1 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.

The backlash from the India trip is “only just beginning,” Ms. Kurkimaki predicted. That’s in large part due to the images associated with that gaffe, said Mr. Veroni, from Mr. Trudeau trotting out his family in traditional dress to the more damaging images of Mr. Atwal smiling next to the prime minister’s wife.

Those images fly in the face of the one he had created for Canada abroad in his likeness.

“He was the anti-Trump. He was this young, dynamic, attractive politician who was very progressive,” Mr. Veroni said. “This trip turned all of that upside down and turned him from this Canadian hero into the butt of jokes,” he added.

“It’s very easy to mess up on issues management when you’re trying to place blame on other people and other offices, if you don’t have the sense of what’s best for government, if you have individuals that are trying to pass the buck and make things less difficult for themselves [and] preserve their own position—whether elected officials or staff,” said Sally Housser, an NDP strategist and senior consultant with Navigator Ltd., noting she doesn’t know if that’s the case in current cabinet offices, but she’s been “baffled” by the handling of many issues

In this undated Facebook photo, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands with Jaspal Atwal, far right, who was convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in Canada in the 1980s. Photograph courtesy of Media Waves Communications Facebook page

A small portion of the work, maybe 30 per cent, should be spent on crises, but most “should be on the front end to ensure these things don’t happen,” she said, like inviting Jaspal Atwal, a man convicted of trying to murder an Indian minister, to a reception the Canadian government hosted in that country.

The Liberals attempted to control the story by blaming backbench MP Randeep Sarai (Surrey Centre, B.C.) for inviting Mr. Atwal and offering a government official to suggest “rogue elements” in India were at fault.

Neither worked, and left outsiders feeling like they weren’t being told the whole story, an environment Ms. Housser said often generates extra days of stories.

From Boyle to electoral reform, some issues died down

While a sluggish response has often stretched controversies longer than necessary, observers noted some crises died down after a few days. A private one-on-one with Joshua Boyle before the former hostage of the Taliban was arrested in January on assault charges raised security-screening concerns before the Atwal incident. But the PMO managed that issue better than others, observers said, by repeating the same lines and highlighting that the meeting request came from the former hostage’s family.

Then there was the more than $200,000 in moving expenses filed by Mr. Butts and Ms. Katie Telford, which might have been an early indicator of why the PMO is “losing the plot” now, said Mr. Veroni. Eventually they agreed to repay more than $65,000.

But in this case, as in others, the PMO’s first response was: we did nothing wrong; we followed the rules.

“In politics it doesn’t matter,” Mr. Veroni said. “It matters what the perception is.”

Crawling back on election-reform promises was one issue Ms. Kurkimaki said the Liberals were “bullish” about and willing to take their lumps on.

Then-democratic reform minister Maryam Monsef (Peterborough-Kawartha, Ont.), after a failed attempt to use an equation as a prop explaining away her government’s shift, was shuffled to another portfolio.

Ms. Housser said she was “was hung out to dry,” but it is a strategy. It was also likely a calculation based on the level of interest in the population, making it unlikely to emerge as much of a vote-losing issue for the Liberals.

In contrast to his actions related to Ms. Monsef, Mr. Trudeau stood by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South, B.C.) when he mistakenly claimed he was the “architect” of a battle in Afghanistan against the Taliban. As with Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre, Ont.), the opposition demanded Mr. Sajjan’s resignation but Mr. Trudeau stood by him.

On Mr. Morneau’s taxes blunder, some of the problematic summer roll-out could be chalked up to bad timing, with the House was not in session. It took a while for the backlash to build and even longer for the Liberals to realize they had to offer different answers.

By then, there was also misinformation to muddy the waters, Ms. Housser said, and it allowed the Conservatives to take control of the narrative.

“That’s still your responsibility,” she said of the Liberal response.

That issue ballooned into a question of Mr. Morneau’s competence and judgment surrounding his personal finances and the potential for a conflict of interest related to pension-reform legislation he tabled. In an apparent effort to repair his reputation, he made himself available for a couple profile pieces and by mid-October agreed to put his shares in his family firm Morneau Shepell in a blind trust.

By late October, he said he would donate to charity any profits off shares he sold—a “ham-fisted” and slow-moving response, according to Ms. Housser.

Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches showed humans as complex machines

Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated by the human body. His disdain for painters who did not bother to learn anatomy was barely concealed in his criticisms of those who “draw their nude figures looking like wood, devoid of grace; so that you would think you were looking at a sack of walnuts rather than the human form”.

His bodies envisioned something very different – living mechanics – combining ideas that he explored across many fields of investigation, including animal and human dissections.

In doing so, he anticipated many questions that now preoccupy modern scientists, from the mechanics of the human body to the possibility of a mechanical body for humans.

Leonardo was born the illegitimate son of a notary and a peasant woman. He did not attend a university and had a rather haphazard and informal education. His knowledge of the human body was self-taught and largely experiential.

Leonardo’s notebooks are filled with an explosion of ideas, in treatises, sketches and jottings. One note mentioned the following:

“Have Avicenna’s work on useful inventions translated; spectacles with the case, steel and fork and…., charcoal, boards, and paper, and chalk and white, and wax;…. …. for glass, a saw for bones with fine teeth, a chisel, inkstand …….. three herbs, and Agnolo Benedetto. Get a skull, nut,— mustard.”

In this jumble of thoughts, we see Leonardo’s interest in the body, one he would explore through dissection. Perhaps his most famous dissection was that of a man who claimed to be over 100 years old, at the Santa Maria Nuova hospital in Florence in 1506.

Leonardo had chatted to this man on the night he passed away: “And this old man told me, a few hours before his death, that he was over a hundred years old and he was conscious of no bodily failure, apart from weakness.” After he had died, Leonardo proceeded to probe the man’s corpse.

Anatomical mechanics

Leonardo’s anatomical drawings show exploded and multiple views, unusual for his time but similar to modern mechanical drawings and descriptive geometry.

As he wrote: “If you wish thoroughly to know the parts of man, anatomically, you – or your eye – require to see it from different aspects, considering it from below and from above and from its sides, turning it about and seeking the origin of each member.”

Leonardo was thinking outside the box. His approach connects anatomy to engineering.

His interest in machinery linked to his fascination with motion. His drawings vividly illustrate how components of machines, animals and humans are designed to move, and how motion and forces are transferred from one component to another.

Strong analogies are formed between mechanical and biological parts, such as the role of ropes and cords, and sinews and tendons.

Leonardo was fascinated by the change of form over time, whether in the processes of nature or the gradual disintegration of the human body. He found the 100 year-old man’s artery, for instance: “to be dry, shrunk and withered.”

Alongside this autopsy, he recorded another dissection: “of a child two years old, in which I found everything the opposite that of the old man”.

Leonardo also had a lifelong interest in depicting decrepitude and the grotesque in human form. In his work, we see the contrast between robust mechanical forms and aging bodies.

With his designs for various forms of automata – machines that operate alone by following predetermined instructions for movement – some of which witnesses suggest he brought to life, Leonardo moves from the human body, which is subject to weakness and aging, to the wholly mechanical body.

The mechanical knight, for example, that he sketched in the Forster notebooks appears to have been designed from clockwork and geared mechanisms. It could move its arms, hands and legs, and turn its head.

Leonardo’s interest in automata in a human form and replicating human bodily movement foreshadow ideas present in modern robotics.

Through Leonardo’s exploration of the human body, we see his fascination with engineering, motion, anatomy and aging, topics that still preoccupy us scientifically today.

Sunday Special: The Disaster Called Neat Lawns

You won’t find many neater lawns than those where Roger Federer and tennis stars from across the globe played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club – better known as Wimbledon. But while immaculately mown and weed-free grass might be perfect for a spot of tennis or soaking up some sun in your garden – it’s doing very little for biodiversity, says Adriana de Palma, a researcher in Life Sciences at the Natural History Museum.

In the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse came within the top 10 lists of risks in terms of both Likelihood and Impact, making it one of the biggest threats facing humankind today. And the report concluded: “Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe.”

In May, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report found that a million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction, many within decades. While Wimbledon’s team of ground staff ensure there are plenty of flowers throughout the All England Club to attract insects, there are things all amateur gardeners can do to boost biodiversity.

Let us see exactly why the most manicured gardens are not havens for wildlife – and what more needs to be done at an individual and national level to save our species.

Why should we care about biodiversity?

Biodiversity provides us with everything we need to live: clean air, clean water, it creates healthy fertile soil for growing crops and it pollinates crops. So if you like your coffee in the morning or an afternoon apple, we need biodiversity, to survive and to have a good quality of life.

What are the main threats to biodiversity?

People, unfortunately. Climate change gets a lot of attention and rightly so – it has the potential to harm millions of species. But right now, the biggest threat facing biodiversity is habitat loss and degradation, so humans pulling down natural landscapes, forests and grassland and converting them into urban areas, creating more agricultural land, and managing that land in an intensive way that doesn’t provide enough space for biodiversity to survive inside it.

That’s the big one, but exploitation of species, pollution and invasive species are also threats. So species are expanding their ranges because of man-made transportation links and climate change, and making it into areas they didn’t exist before. And the native species have never learned how to deal with this new threat.

The Earth could be facing a sixth mass extinction – what impact will this have on humans?

We’re going to see the impact long before global extinctions. When a species goes extinct, across its entire range of the whole globe, that’s the end point. But before that, we’ve got these huge declines in how many individuals of that species there are, where they exist in the world, and those changes in the abundance of the species. At a smaller scale, that’s going to be what really hits us.

A lot of work has been done regarding pollinators. A lot of our calories come from things like wheat and rice that don’t actually require animals to pollinate them. But in terms of getting a healthy, varied diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, pollinators are absolutely key. We’ll end up with huge amounts of malnutrition through these changes in biodiversity.

I think a sixth mass extinction would be catastrophic for humans. We don’t have the technology to make up for the losses. We don’t have the manpower. There’s really no way around it other than to prevent the mass extinction happening, because once we’re there it is really too late.

What more needs to be done by governments across the globe?

The key thing, that many of us in this field are working on at the moment, is finding ways of balancing food security, climate change mitigation and biodiversity protection. For instance, there’s been a lot of interest in biofuels as a climate change mitigation process to try to move away from using fossil fuels.

But if we’re not careful, we essentially end up moving biofuels onto agricultural land, which has implications for food security. And how you manage that biofuel plantation has huge implications for biodiversity. So there are really difficult trade-offs that we’re trying to work out – and hopefully, we’re providing some evidence that can help inform some of these decisions.

We live in a global community now and when we import products from overseas, we can essentially export our biodiversity damage. So we can maintain our national commitments to biodiversity, but at a global scale, we’re still causing huge amounts of damage. Often that leads to biodiversity losses in some of the poorer areas of the world – where the local communities rely on their natural biodiversity to a much greater extent to survive.

If our biodiversity damage crosses borders, then our commitment to biodiversity protection has to do that as well.

Why are lawns a problem for biodiversity?

I’m very much against neat lawns because they have very little benefit for biodiversity. They’re usually dominated by just a few grass species. Any flowering plants that pop up in the middle of the lawn are considered weeds, and they’re removed.

If you remove the flowering plants, there’s not a lot of pollen or nectar for many insects to use. So bees, butterflies, moths, flies, you just won’t find them in your lawn – and especially not if you’re using herbicides as well.

People think of flowering lawns as providing resources for flying insects, but it’s not just about that – they also provide shelter for other invertebrates as well. So you might not think woodlice are attractive, but they like to live on stray bricks or logs that you’ve left on your lawn. And some bee species can live in empty snail shells, so just leave a few of them here and there.

What can gardeners do with their lawns to boost biodiversity?

A low-maintenance ‘tapestry’ lawn with low-flowering plants such as thyme and chamomile will be more beneficial for biodiversity and needs mowing less often. If you want a traditional grass lawn, then leave some of the weeds in there, like clover and dandelion, and try to change your mindset. Stop seeing them as weeds and start seeing them as part of the natural land.

How positive are you about our ability to make a difference before it’s too late?

Some of our work has been looking into the future – and there are very stylized, broad potential pathways of how humans might develop. But some of the work has shown that, depending on the decisions we make, we could undo 50 years of damage. So I’m positive that there are ways forward and we can live more sustainably if we take a longer-term view.

A lot of the biodiversity damage that we do is because we have a very short-sighted view of pulling down this forest to grow this crop, to create money, when in the long run that might not benefit the local community, and it’s not benefiting the global community. There are definitely ways forward and there are a lot of people working on how we balance all our different priorities.

The key thing is that we make decisions and act now. The UK government has really taken the IPBES survey on board. I just hope that we can make decisions now, because we just can’t delay.

What’s the one single thing we could all do today?

For those of us who live in a world where we have more food than we need, while other people are starving: waste less. There’s been a lot of talk about plastic waste, which is obviously important. But if we take wasting less on board, that goes into everything, it means you waste less food, you start eating less meat. We waste less of our resources in general.

One of the most upsetting things to me is the inequality that some people are starving while other people are throwing food away. If you think how much land use has gone into creating this, how much deforestation has resulted from our desire for more and more, for cheaper and cheaper, and then what the consequences for climate change are.

That change in mindset can have a really big impact on creating not only a fairer world, but a more biodiverse world and hopefully one where we can stop the worst of the current climate change scenarios from coming true.