Afghanistan: Ensuring Security Through Regional Cooperation

Interview by Manish Rai | IDN-InDepth NewsInterview*

NEW DELHI (IDN) – As the Afghan government prepares for the post-2014 withdrawal of NATO forces, M. Ashraf Haidari, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Afghanistan in New Delhi, India, says in an exclusive interview with ViewsAround Editor Manish Rai that the survival of the Taliban in Afghanistan hinges on the support they receive in Pakistan. “Without safe havens, without an operational infrastructure, and without financial means for their sustainment, the Taliban would cease to exist in a matter of a couple of months, if not a few weeks. Once these lines of support are withdrawn from their terror campaign, they would be smashed into easy defeat by the armed forces of Afghanistan,” adds the Afghan diplomat.

Question: What was the main reason for shutting down of the Taliban political office in Doha, Qatar?

Indian Rupee’s Fall Holds Opportunity For A Common South Asian Currency

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.

ICAN Australia Shows The Way To Abolish Nukes

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

China Not the Global Engine of Economic Growth

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.

Revived Nalanda Should Include Buddhists

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.

Japan: Political Reform Essential

By Frances McCall Rosenbluth* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW HAVEN (IDN | Yale Global) – The Liberal Democratic Party’s landslide victory in Japan’s House of Councillors elections on July 21 was good news for the Japanese economy – the third largest in the world. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s Keynesian spending policies are exactly what’s needed to pull the country out of the prolonged economic malaise that has lasted, shockingly, for more than two decades since Japan’s asset bubble burst in1991.

With solid majorities in both houses of parliament, Abe is in a strong position to get on with the task of economic rebuilding that could also benefit the world. But given the fundamental weakness of Japan’s fractured political system, the moment could turn out to be ephemeral.

India Irrelevant in Global Hotspots – Not Only in Egypt

By Shastri Ramachandaran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – Official India does not call itself a ‘Superpower’. The preferred term is ‘Rising Power’. However, Rising Power or ‘Rising India’ is no less of a misnomer as it is unsuited to India’s status and relevance in world affairs.

There is not a single international event or development of consequence in recent times that saw India rising to the occasion. To the contrary, every major development in the world proved to be a forceful reminder of the growing irrelevance of India in global affairs.

Back To The Roots with Proverbs Project

By Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-InDepth NewsReport

SINGAPORE (IDN) – “I’m making a claim that we have to discover our own heritage and not just learn about the West, at the cost of leaving behind your own culture and forgetting your own roots,” Dr. Madanmohan Rao told IDN after launching his latest book of proverbs which focuses on Singapore, perhaps the most multicultural and cosmopolitan nation in Asia.

The book captures over 1,000 proverbs translated into English from Chinese (mostly from Mandarin and the Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese and Teochew dialects), Malay and Tamil. Singapore has four official languages – English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil – which reflects the migrant background of its 4 million population.

Singapore’s linguistic foundations are influenced by its local Malay roots, and its position as a trade settlement that has attracted foreigners from Asia and beyond, bringing in new languages and dialects and creating new mixes in the process. The local Chinese dialects have now been absorbed by Mandarin, which many older Chinese, who speak Hakka or Hokkien for example, have resented. Thus, one of the book’s aims is to preserve some of the proverbs from these dialects.

Asian Economic Model Under Duress

By Martin Khor*  | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

The successful East Asian model of “state-driven capitalism” is being threatened by proposals in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) to remove possible advantages of state-owned enterprises.

GENEVA (IDN) – Many articles and books have been published on the contrast and competition between the present Western and the Asian-style economic models.

India-China Boundary Talks Ease Tension

By Shastri Ramachandran* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

NEW DELHI (IDN) – The 16th round of talks between the Special Representatives (SRs) of India and China on the boundary issue, which was held in Beijing on June 28 and 29, was not just another round of jaw-jaw towards resolving the border dispute. The meeting had acquired greater significance because it is the first after the April 15 incursion by Chinese troops in Depsang in eastern Ladakh, and was held less than a week before defence minister AK Antony’s visit to China.

In the view of some observers, the Chinese incursion had strained bilateral relations to a level unprecedented since the 1962 conflict. So much so that there were calls for cancellation of not only external affairs minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to China in May but also Chinese premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Delhi the same month. However, with China making amends and India not pushing for a confrontation, both visits went as scheduled although Premier Li’s visit – his first foreign stop since assuming office in the decadal power shift – did not evoke the expected enthusiasm.

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