By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - The general elections for 543 seats in the 16th Lok Sabha (the Lower House of Parliament) in India are due in May 2014 and are of indisputable importance. It is also a gigantic electoral exercise with about 800 million voters, 150 million voting for the first time, in the world’s most populous democracy. Consequently, analyzing the trends and the likely outcome is of crucial importance globally.
By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
GENEVA (IDN) - Several developing countries are now being engulfed in new economic crises as their currency and stock markets are experiencing sharp falls, and the end is not yet in sight. The “sell-off” in emerging economies has also spilled over to the American and European stock markets, thus causing global turmoil.
Countries whose currencies were affected of late include Argentina, Turkey, Russia, Brazil and Chile. A hike in interest rates by Turkey and South Africa has so far failed to stem the depreciation of their currencies. An America market analyst termed it “emerging market flu” and several global media reports tend to focus on weaknesses in individual developing countries.
By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERLIN (IDN) - New data launched by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that sales of arms and military services by the world's largest arms-producing companies, which amounted to $395 billion in 2012, has increased by 29 per cent in real terms since 2003. But compared to 2011 the 2012 data represent a 4.2 per cent decrease in real terms and follow a 6.6 per cent cut in that year.
The report released at the Munich Security Conference on January 31, 2014 points out at the same time that the decrease in arms sales in 2012 was not uniform: "while sales by companies in the United States, Canada and most West European countries continued to fall, arms sales by Russian companies increased sharply, by 28 per cent in real terms".
By Daniela Estrada | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
SANTIAGO DE CHILE (IDN) – Latin American and Caribbean countries registered an average global deficit of 2.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2013, but their fiscal revenues rose and kept their public debt situation stable, giving them more room to increase investment and social spending, according to a new study by the UN Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
By Brian M. Downing* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
TEHRAN (IDN) - The Iraqi province of Anbar, which lies to the west of Baghdad and leads to the border with Syria, has been the scene of momentous historical events over the last decade. It was the site of fierce resistance to US forces and later a short-lived alliance between the insurgents and the US. Today Anbar is the site of Sunni opposition to the Shia government in Baghdad and of al Qaeda organizations that are fighting Shia governments in both Syria and Iraq. Initial stages of the campaign for Anbar are underway in the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, with broader operations to follow for weeks if not months to come.
By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
NEW DELHI (IDN) - Although he was frustrated in sealing a long-term India-US strategic partnership – with the nuclear deal not gaining India a seat in the N-technology regimes — keeping that priority at the centre of foreign policy enabled Singh to upscale and deepen India-China relations like never before.
This is no mean achievement considering that there is much wider support – among the public, media, policy-shaping elite, think tanks, industry and business, and powerful sections in the political, military and official establishment – for India embracing the US (and its interests) than engaging with China in India’s interests.
By Zachary Fillingham* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
TORONTO (IDN) - The East China Sea territorial dispute between China and Japan figured prominently in various geopolitical risk forecasts for 2014, and with good reason. Neither side shows any sign of standing down, and with every new military deployment near the contested area comes an increased risk of a small-scale military incident spiraling into war.
Anti-Japanese sentiment in China runs deep, fueled by memories of Japan’s brutal invasion and occupation during World War II. These feelings have been strengthened by the Chinese education system and state-controlled media, along with frequent examples over the years of half-hearted and waffling contrition on the part of the Japanese government. They have even been absorbed into the national narrative of China’s rise, such that China will only receive the official stamp of superpowerdom once Japan has been fully eclipsed in East Asia - politically, economically, and militarily.
By Aditi Sen* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
WASHINGTON IDN | Yale Global) - Typhoon Haiyan hitting the Philippines in November was yet another devastating reminder of what climate-related extreme weather may mean for coastal communities. While the underlying causes and the full impact of the typhoon are yet to be known, this disaster was by no means an isolated occurrence.
Several studies indicate that coastal communities in Asia are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and among the hardest hit will be the region’s megacities. The sprawling cities by the sea – cities like Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta – face an increased risk of flooding thanks to the combined impacts of sea level rise, storm surge from intensified tropical cyclones and land subsidence.
By Savitri Goonesekere, Jayantha Dhanapala and G. Usvatte-aratch* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
COLOMBO (IDN | Colombo Telegraph) - There has been, in recent times, public discussion in regard to whether our country is moving towards an authoritarianism that undermines democratic governance. The President, Ministers and government spokespersons have consistently denied this allegation. They refer in particular to the recent elections in three provinces as indicative of a functional and vibrant democracy responsive to the needs of the people. Infrastructure development that has taken place is also cited.
The recently concluded CHOGM hosted by Sri Lanka is considered an indication that Sri Lanka has achieved significant international stature as a country whose governance follows Commonwealth values. These values as stated in the final CHOGM communiqué refer in particular to democracy, human rights, tolerance, freedom of expression, separation of powers, rule of law, good governance, and sustainable development.
By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
ROME (IDN) - More partnerships and investments are needed to support the pan-African Great Green Wall Initiative, which has become Africa's flagship enterprise in tackling the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation, desertification, drought and climate change, experts say.
The initiative brings together more than 20 African countries across North Africa, the Sahel and the Horn, international organizations, research institutes, civil society and grassroots organizations, supporting local communities in the sustainable management and use of forests, rangelands and other natural resources in dryland areas. It also seeks to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well improve the food security and community livelihoods in the Sahel and the Sahara.
By Isabelle Ramdoo and San Bilal* | IDN-InDepth NewsEssay
MAASTRICHT (IDN) - The sustained commodity boom of the last decade provided a new impetus to a number of African countries, after decades of economic turmoil. High growth rates, recorded in recent years, uncovered new opportunities to finally address long-standing socio-economic challenges that had hindered the continent’s economic performance for decades. From an economic perspective, to be truly transformative, these opportunities will have to be translated into employment creation, improved productivity and industrialisation, and governments will increasingly be put under pressure to deliver on concrete results.