India, Pakistan on the Road to Peace – Global Research

09-03-21 02:08:00,

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Opportunities missed and opportunities seized in the chronicle of international diplomacy in modern history provide two outstanding illustrative examples. 

After centuries of enmity and the colossal destruction inflicted by two devastating world wars in the last century, France and Germany seize an opportunity to turn a new page in their relations, which eventually blossomed into the European Union and is today a major factor of peace and stability in Europe. 

Equally, on the contrary, the catastrophic failure of the West to consolidate the peace dividends of the end of the Cold War by inviting Russia into a “common European home” (to borrow Mikhail Gorbachev’s memorable words) is threatening to possibly trigger a new cold war or even morph into hostilities. 

Today, India and Pakistan are also poised on a threshold of similar Big History in the region. Seizing the emergent opportunities could make all the difference. Both countries are endowed with abundant diplomatic talent to perceive this reality that is still below the radar. 

The imperatives of development are increasingly felt in both countries in their post-pandemic mindset, which is also leading to a new awakening that there is nothing like absolute security in the life of nations. 

Without doubt, the US Special Representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad’s call with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on Sunday can lead to a passage opening into a “rose-garden”.  The timing of Khalilzad’s call needs to be understood properly. He is on a regional tour that has already taken him to Kabul and Doha and is arriving in Islamabad later today. In Kabul, he had met with President Ashraf Ghani and other Afghan statesmen and in Doha he confabulated with senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. 

Khalilzad has unveiled in Kabul a US plan about a “participatory government” to be formed in Afghanistan as an interim arrangement of six months for the drafting of a new constitution leading to a final settlement. In a swift follow-up, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with Ghani and since addressed a letter to him (and to Abdullah Abdullah). 

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India and the Weaponization of Human Rights – Global Research

22-02-21 08:46:00,

First published in September 2020

China’s Communist “Dictatorship” Lifts 700 Million Chinese Citizens Out Of Poverty: Yet India is Adored by Western Pundits, While China is Demonized and Sanctioned

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“The first human right is the right to life.” Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Counselor of the People’s Republic of China

Twelve years ago United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Jomo Kwame Sunderam presented the 2008 “Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific,” at a press briefing, disclosing, on page 124 the staggering fact that:

“With limited resources, farmers depend on borrowed money to purchase seeds and other inputs to farm their land. A drop in their farm income could lead to indebtedness. In India, for example, the distress in rural areas is reflected in the high number of suicides by farmers: 86,922 during 2001-2005 (Government of India, 2007).”

There was very little – indeed virtually no press coverage or official investigation into this horrifying fact until 2014: in an article by Jonathan Kennedy entitled: “New evidence of suicide epidemic among India’s ‘marginalised’ farmers” he states:

“In 2010, 187,000 Indians killed themselves – one fifth of all global suicides….. Latest statistical research finds strong causal links between areas with the most suicides and areas where impoverished farmers are trying to grow crops that suffer from wild price fluctuations due to India’s relatively recent shift to free market economics.”

“It is often forgotten that over 833 million people – almost 70% of the Indian population – still live in rural areas. A large proportion of these rural inhabitants have not benefited from the economic growth of the past twenty years. In fact, liberalization has brought about a crisis in the agricultural sector that has pushed many small-scale cash crops farmers into debt and in many cases to suicide.”

So much for the capitalist paradise Trump promises North Korea’s Socialist leader Kim Jung Un.

On February 22, 2014 Ellen Barry in the New York Times headlined: “After Farmers Commit Suicide, Debts Fall on Families in India,” with impoverished widows called ‘whores.” In June, 2014, AP headlined: “Raped, murdered girls reveal horrific risks for India’s poor”: UNICEF estimates that almost 594 million – nearly 50 percent of India’s population – defecates in the open,

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India plans to introduce law to ban Bitcoin, other private cryptocurrencies – TechCrunch

01-02-21 01:46:00,

India plans to introduce a law to ban private cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin in the country and provide a framework for the creation of an official digital currency during the current budget session of parliament.

In the agenda (PDF) published on the lower house website, the legislation seeks to “prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India,” but allow “for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology [blockchain] of cryptocurrency and its uses.”

The law also seeks to “create a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency” that will be issued by the nation’s central bank, Reserve Bank of India, the agenda said.

In 2018, an Indian government panel recommended banning all private cryptocurrencies and proposed up to 10 years of jail time for offenders. The panel also suggested the government to explore a digital version of the fiat currency and ways to implement it.

At the time, RBI said the move was necessary to curb “ring-fencing” of the country’s financial system. It had also argued that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies cannot be treated as currencies as they are not made of metal or exist in physical form, nor were they stamped by the government. The 2018 notice from the central bank sent a panic to several local startups and companies offering services to trade in cryptocurrency. Nearly all of them have either since closed shop, or pivoted to serve other markets.

This proposal was challenged by several exchanges and traders, who filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court. The nation’s apex court ruled in their favor last year. This ruling was seen as “historic” but it did not impact the earlier circular on the policy level.

“Since the government is considering introducing the bill during this session of Parliament, we are sure the government will definitely listen to all the stakeholders before taking any decision,” said Sumit Gupta, co-founder and chief executive of CoinDCX,a cryptocurrency exchange in India.

“We are talking to other stakeholders and will definitely initiate deeper dialogue with the government and showcase how we can actually create a healthy ecosystem in unison,” he said.

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India: Pesticide Takeover Spells Trouble for Bees | Asia-Pacific Research

07-12-20 11:13:00,

When the history of the insect collapse of the early 21st century comes to be written, it is likely that failure to implement adequate corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices will be blamed.

In a recent example, in September when a consortium led by Japanese giant Mitsui Corporation announced its acquisition of Indian pesticide manufacturer Bharat Insecticides Ltd. (BIL), the reasons given for the takeover contradict Mitsui’s published CSR policy.

The result is likely to be a further decrease in pollinating insects in India. On its website, BIL lists several neonicotinoid insecticides for sale in India that have been banned in the EU due to their effects on bees, as well as fipronil which has been banned in China due to its devastating effects on water insects.

Crops

Pesticides Action Network India representative Narasimha Reddy Donthi said by email that the acquisition will allow access to the Indian market as BIL already has licenses there.

In addition, Donthi said that insecticide exports are also a likely aim as “India has lax laws on environment protection, which means low cost of production, through externalisation of environmental costs.”

Donthi added that, “all pesticide companies have to submit to principles of liability and pollution pays principles.

“Products such as neonicotinoids are playing havoc with the people, environment and ecology. This foreign acquisition only spurs a more expansive campaign to rein in companies that are profiting from destruction of ecology and environment.”

The situation in India is deteriorating rapidly, according to a 2017 peer-reviewed study by a team from the Centre for Pollination Studies at the University of Calcutta published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Using observations by local farmers due to the lack of prior scientific studies, the study found that together with declining vegetable crop yields, insect pollinator populations had dropped drastically compared with 25 years before.

Takeover

The disappearing insects include honeybees, carpenter bees and blue-banded bees, and the paper states that pollinator declines were attributed by farmers to the quantity and number of pesticides used.

Lead scientist Dr Barbara Smith told The Ecologist: “An increase in insecticide application is likely to be negative for pollinators – particularly broad spectrum pesticides – and this could certainly lead to declines in crop yields in the medium to long-term.”

Mitsui’s Basic CSR Policy states that the company will “contribute to the achievement of a sustainable society through the promotion of sustainable development as well as maintaining a strong awareness of the importance of preserving the global environment.”

It also emphasises the importance of communicating with stakeholders and being accountable for CSR activities.

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India: Largest Strike in World History : Over 200 Million Workers and Farmers Protest against Poverty and Unemployment – Global Research

06-12-20 03:41:00,

Barely Covered by the Mainstream Media

The general strike occurred in the context of the devastation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic in India.  Added to this are the millions of people who have lost income and who now face increased poverty and hunger, in a country where even before the pandemic 50 percent of all children suffered malnourishment.

by Maria Aurelio (Left Voice)

On Thursday over 200 million workers held a one day general strike in India. They were joined by farmers in mass actions across the country against the right-wing government of Narendra Modi.

On Thursday, some 200 million workers held a one day general strike in India. This massive day of action was called by 10 trade unions and over 250 farmers organizations and was accompanied by massive protests and a near total shutdown of some Indian states. According to the call put out by unions, the general strike was organized against “the anti-people, anti-worker, anti-national and destructive policies of the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Their demands included:

  • The withdrawal of all “anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes”
  • The payment of 7,500 rupees in the accounts of each non-tax paying family
  • Monthly supply of 10 kg of food to needy families
  • The expansion of the MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005) to include 200 workdays each year, higher wages, and the Act’s extension to urban industries
  • Stop the “privatisation of the public sector, including the financial sector, and stop corporatisation of government-run manufacturing and service entities like railways, ordnance factories, ports, etc.”
  • The withdrawal of the “draconian forced premature retirement of government and PSU (public sector) employees”
  • Pensions for all, the scrapping of the National Pension System and the reimposition of the earlier pension plan with amendments

Workers in nearly all of India’s major industries — including steel, coal, telecommunications, engineering, transportation, ports, and banking — joined the strike. Students, domestic workers, taxi drivers, and other sectors also participated in the nationwide day of action.

In addition to the demands of the nationwide strike,

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