By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
NEW DELHI (IDN) - Every few years the Indian rupee takes a dive. Every time this happens, there is the usual hand-wringing and the finance minister talking the rupee up.
Invariably, the rupee’s fall triggers the clichéd debate over growth versus inflation, talk of curbing foreign exchange outflows, sucking cash out of the market and a number of other ad-hoc measures. The rupee ‘stabilises’ at a new low. Until it goes for another spin, and the charade is repeated.
It is no different this time with the rupee at Rs 65 to a dollar and forecasts of it being headed towards Rs 70.
As it stands (or, falls) today, the rupee does little credit to India as a rising power. In fact, the rupee does not look like ever becoming a currency of power.
By Neena Bhandari | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
SYDNEY (IDN) - Even as the nuclear-armed countries continue to amass new warheads and build and modernise ballistic missiles, bombers and submarines to launch them, the campaign for nuclear abolition is growing from strength to strength.
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ (ICAN) Paper Cranes Project – symbolizing support for nuclear disarmament – is urging governments to begin negotiations on a global treaty banning nuclear weapons this year. More than 190,000 paper cranes have already been delivered to world leaders, and messages of support have been received from the Secretary-General of the United Nations and amongst others national leaders of Australia, Afghanistan, Greece, Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands, Mozambique, Slovenia and Switzerland. Read in Chinese | Read in Japanese
By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - Suddenly, a cascade of leaks has been affecting the sole superpower in the world. First there was Pfc. Bradley Manning, the American who leaked 700,000 government files to WikiLeaks, and Julian Assange, an Australian and the founder of WikiLeaks. Then in May, Edward Snowden, at the time a United States intelligence analyst, fled with his cache of surveillance program secrets first to Hong Kong and on to Moscow.
Manning has been exonerated of the most serious charge of “aiding the enemy” but has been convicted on other charges and was recently sentenced to 35 years in prison. Assange languishes in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London while being a candidate in Australian Senate elections. The cumulative damage that all three have caused the security of the United States is incalculable, quite apart from exposing to American friends and allies that they have been the subject of cybersnooping or, to put it bluntly, espionage.
By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
TEHRAN (IDN | Iran Review) - Although President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to participate in next month's summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, the whole Iranian approach toward this regional, part economic, part security, organization is now under review in Tehran, as part and parcel of a "new foreign policy" promised by Rouhani and his foreign policy team headed by Javad Zarif.
Inducted as observer, along with India, Pakistan and Mongolia, since 2005, Iran has in fact sought full membership in the SCO since 2008, only to be rebuffed by the legalistic argument that the organization's rules disallow membership by any country that is under the UN sanctions. Clearly, that is giving the UN sanctions too much importance and if China and Russia, the two leading SCO powers, really wanted they could come up with a creative solution, such as a "conditional acceptance" of Iran that would hinge on Iran's resolution of its current problems with the UN atomic agency, the IAEA.
By Anna Rutkowski | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
WARSAW (IDN) - “We need to be prepared for nine billion people on this planet, as we all deserve a decent and secure life. By being creative, the world can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs, promoting economic growth and ensuring better living standards. Where there is a will, there is a way!” says Marcin Korolec, the Polish Minister of the Environment, who will chair a landmark UN climate change conference from November 11 to 22, 2013 in Warsaw.
A lawyer, career civil servant and negotiator, Korolec wants the global conference to agree on a balance between the needs of the environment and the economy, "in order to seamlessly unite environmental protection and economic growth". Environmental protection, he says, is an interdisciplinary field that directly influences many other policy areas and is strongly influenced by international arrangements and standards.
By Siamak Kakaei* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
TEHRAN (IDN | Iran Review) - Turkey is currently grappling in its domestic politics with widespread popular protests in a number of Turkish cities. Also, on a regional level, Ankara is dealing with the aftermath of another crisis in its southern neighbour, Syria, and is also looking for ways to give a proper response to the demands of its own Kurdish population. The question is: Will these domestic and regional developments have any important effect on the foreign policy of (Turkey’s Prime Minister) Recep Tayyip Erdogan? Will Ankara’s foreign policy, which has been known in recent years as the new regional and Middle Eastern policy of Turkey, undergo changes as a result of the aforesaid developments?
By Jutta Wolf | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERLIN (IDN) - The doomsday clock has not yet struck zero hour but it is now beyond scientific doubt that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), one of the greenhouses gases responsible for climate change, have reached levels that are higher than any time during the past one million years.
As Markus Reichstein, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI-BGC) in Jena points out, increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases do not only lead to gradual ‘global warming’, but also to changed patterns of rain and snowfall (precipitation), more weather extremes such as heat waves, longer dry spells, variability of growing season length, recurrent heavy rainfall, and storms. And, there is general concern that climate change will have fundamental impacts on our natural environment, our economic activities and life.
By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERLIN (IDN) - Preparations are afoot for a new, and perhaps a promising, round of talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) over Tehran’s nuclear energy program. According to Press TV, Kazakhstan is willing to host the negotiations for the third time in succession this year.
Undeterred by continued impasse at the talks in Almaty on April 6-7 and earlier on February 26-27, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov made the announcement during a phone conversation with new Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi on August 18.
By Michael Pettis* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BEIJING (IDN | Yale Global) - Imagine having predicted in 1990 that the Japanese economy, then widely expected to overtake the US within a decade or two, would grow on average by less than 1 percent a year for the next 20 years. In the unlikely case that anyone believed you, he would probably have drawn two worrisome conclusions.
First, Japan at that time was considered the world’s growth engine, and so a collapse in Japanese growth would likely throw the world into a tailspin. Second, if after several decades of robust expansion Japanese growth were suddenly to drop so dramatically, there was sure to be social and political upheaval in Japan.
By J. C. Suresh | IDN-InDepth NewsReport
TORNTO (IDN) – President Barack Obama is coming under growing pressure at home to order "an immediate suspension" of military aid to Egypt and work with the United Nations, the African Union and other international institutions as well as Europe and Arab countries to put concerted pressure on the Egyptian military government to reverse its current policies.
Such persistent appeals are coming at a point in time when analysts stress that since the military took control in July and ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in the aftermath of popular demand, the Gulf sheikdoms have stepped in with more than $12 billion of concessionary loans and critical energy deliveries with a view to backing General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s hard line. “The United States' leverage pales in comparison: a mere $1.5 billion in annual assistance, $1.3 billion of which goes to the military,” says Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
By Shenali D Waduge* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
COLOMBO (IDN) - In 1193 A.D. Nalanda, the world’s oldest Buddhist university was ransacked and destroyed by foreign invaders led by the Turkish Bakhityar Khiliji because the 14 acre “giver of knowledge” was a strong pillar of Buddhism and attracted students from all over the world, including countries such as Turkey and Persia. The invaders burnt to ruins the magnificent library and other architectural masterpieces of the Nalanda University.
In 2006, it was announced that Nalanda University was to be revived with the efforts and contributions of numerous countries. However, the issue is that old Nalanda was essentially a Buddhist place of learning promoting Buddhist beliefs and philosophy – the new architects are ironing out a creation of ancient Nalanda with a modern twist to include subjects that are taught in general universities thereby denying the Buddhist niche that Nalanda epitomized.