By Kalinga Seneviratne* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
NEW DELHI (IDN) - When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived on May 14 in the historic city of Xian, at the start of his three-day visit to China, he was almost immediately taken by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Wild Goose Pagoda that symbolise the two countries’ umbilical cultural ties, thus setting the tone for the important visit. Xian is where the ancient Silk Route began.
This Buddhist temple which is today a major tourist attraction in China, and where the Chinese Buddhist scholar monk Xuanzang spent many years of his later life translating some 35 volumes of Buddhist scriptures into Chinese that he collected during 16 years he spent at Nalanda University in India in the 7th century. It is these volumes that helped to spread Buddhism across much of East Asia and later helped Indian scholars to find out about Nalanda University after Muslim Turkic invaders burned Nalanda into ashes in the 12th century.
Thus these two-way civilizational exchanges are significant milestones as Asia’s two leading civilizations led by two visionary leaders embark on building a new economic and cultural relationship that could transform the world.
By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepthNews Report
PARIS (IDN) - In a carrot-and-stick approach, the 34-nation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has commended Poland for having combined robust economic growth with reducing some of the pressures on its environment since it joined the European Union in 2004. At the same time, it asks Poland to decrease its economy’s reliance on fossil fuels and make growth greener.
By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
BRUSSELS (IDN) - At the height of the Ebola-crisis, scenarios predicted the deaths of around 1.4 million people, or around 20.000 deaths a month. Now the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Ebola-free. This means that no new cases have been diagnosed in the last 42 days. The total number of lives claimed by the disease in Liberia is 10,722 deaths. What lessons can be drawn from this and what should be done now?
News of a first Ebola patient in Liberia was spread in March 2014. A doctor at a large public hospital in Monrovia had attended a meeting at the University and left that same night to sound the alarm. The danger was immediately recognised by the leaders of the healthcare system in Liberia. Nonetheless, a large number of doctors and healthcare workers died in the first period, because the knowledge and means to properly face and control the disease were lacking.
By Shastri Ramachandaran | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint
NEW DELHI (IDN) - The Royal Danish Embassy in New Delhi is a reminder that Denmark has fallen off the map of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Neither the change at the helm – from Manmohan Singh as prime minister to Narendra Modi – nor foreign secretary Sujatha Singh being replaced by S Jaishankar has altered Denmark’s situation.
The Government of India (GoI) barely acknowledges the Danish embassy as a diplomatic entity, which is kept out of official programmes. However, the embassy does not deny a visa to any Indian, including journalists, who want to visit the land of Hans Christian Andersen, known for famous fairy tales, including The Little Mermaid and The Emperor’s New Clothes.
IDN-InDepthNews Interview with Daisaku Ikeda*
By Ramesh Jaura
BERLIN | TOKYO (IDN) - As things appear to fall apart and decision-makers around the world grapple with ways out of manifold crises, an eminent Buddhist philosopher and peace-builder has stressed the need for building a “sustainable global society” in which all peoples’ rights are protected and the international community agrees on a path that leads toward a nuclear weapons free world.
In an exclusive interview with IDN, Soka Gakkai International president Daisaku Ikeda expressed the hope that the adoption of sustainable development goals (SDGs) by the United Nations General Assembly in September will “energize a new round of mutual striving to contribute to a world free of needless suffering”.
The email interview in full follows:
By Taro Ichikawa | IDN-InDepthNews Report
TOKYO (IDN) - The 34-nation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has called for narrowing “gender inequality” as part of “reforms for more inclusive and stronger growth” in Japan. Presenting the OECD’s 2015 Economic Survey of Japan, the influential economic bloc’s Secretary-General Angel Gurría also pleaded for boosting productivity that, he said, was “key to unlocking stronger growth”.
By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint
BRUSSELS (IDN) - The European Council is expected to formulate a coherent European response to the continuing humanitarian disaster in the Mediterranean on April 23. The tragic deaths of more than 1000 men, women and children as well as the recognition that the situation is spiralling out of control, seem to have finally alerted Europe to the scale of the crisis. EU High Representative Federica Mogherini for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – who is also Vice-President of the European Commission – and her staff deserve commendation for their determination and commitment to get things moving.
By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint
BRUSSELS (IDN) - Despite one of the largest humanitarian disasters of recent years unfolding on their doorstep, and another 700 deaths on April 19, the EU and its Member States seem totally paralyzed and incapable of providing an urgent and appropriate response. The deaths of men, women and children only seem to promote further rounds of discussion. These will – in due course - no doubt result in yet another political declaration and yet more empty promises.
The urgency of the situation demands action, not words.
After several years of intense debate, the EU seems further away from providing any tangible and effective response to the crisis than ever before. Europe has proved totally incapable of agreeing to anything that could halt the loss of life in the Mediterranean. While the diplomats and politicians talk interminably the death toll is increasing remorselessly. The deliberate downscaling of search and rescue operations, and the blunt refusal to respond to even the most basic requests for international protection, have caused the death and suffering of some of the most vulnerable and desperate people.
By Shailendra Singh* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
SUVA, Fiji (IDN) - Prominent Pacific Island anti-nuclear campaigners want a revival of their once-robust movement to support the international effort against ‘nuclearism’. Their call coincides with a major international meeting at the United Nations in New York – the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) from April 27 to May 22, 2015.
By Ramesh Jaura | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
BERLIN (IDN) – In run-up to the four-week-long quinquennial review of the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the goal of a Middle East free of the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery remains a distant dream. And so does the Helsinki Conference that should have been convened in December 2012.
All indications are that also the Foreign Ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) influential countries of the world – Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States – do not see a silver lining on the horizon. They met ahead of G7 summit June 7-8.
By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis
GENEVA (IDN) - Access to medicines, even if a person is too poor to afford it, is a cornerstone to the realization of the right to health and life. There has been significant progress in new and better medicines. However prices of the medicines are often priced so high so as to be out of reach of the poor or even the middle classes in many countries, not only in developing but also in developed countries.
A major reason for this is the monopoly granted to drug companies through patents, which prevents competition. Sometimes the prices are so astronomical so as to make super profits for the companies. The latest example is the new drug for hepatitis C, sofosbuvir, which is sold for USD84,000 for a 12 week course, or USD1,000 a pill. Profits for the company Gilead have run at many billions of dollars already.