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Showing posts from March 11, 2015

Nawaz Sharif in Saudi Arabia: Pakistan’s Leverage in the Gulf

It is not often that the King of Saudi Arabia receives visiting foreign dignitaries at the airport. That precisely is what King Salman did on Wednesday when he went to the Riyadh airport to lay out an ostentatious welcome to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

There is speculation that the Saudi Kingdom is seeking Pakistan’s military support to shore up its internal and external defences amidst mounting regional tensions. No announcements were made after Sharif met King Salman and other senior members of the Saudi Royal family. But security cooperation was reportedly at the top of the agenda.

India’s abandoned daughter

Controversies have a way of fragmenting the narrative of stories. They also have a touch of scandal which generates not merely outrage but also an epidemic of political correctness. The recent ban of the BBC documentary, titled India’s Daughter , on the Nirbhaya rape case, is an example. I sat and watched the documentary. It is powerful and compelling. What holds one’s attention are the fragments of conversation from the convict and the quiet responses of the family. What is irrelevant or possibly elliptical to the movie is the commentary of the NGOs that spread out like politically correct icing. The reactions of Krishnan, Kanth, Seth, all sensitive people, are reasonable in themselves but they do not touch the core of the narrative.

Modi’s Sagar Mala

As he swings across the Indian Ocean this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest challenge is not about countering China. After all, Beijing is far away and Indiais right in the middle of the Indian Ocean. In the near term, the tyranny of geographywill limit the scope and intensity of Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. Modi’s real problem is in Delhi, afflicted by a condition called continentalism, which has proved rather difficult to overcome.

Progress on the farm

The Bharat Krishak Samaj (BSK) has long urged the merger of the agriculture ministry with the water resources and rural development ministries, in the interests of bettercoordination. With cooperative federalism gaining currency as an idea, that might just become possible. Now, the panchayati raj and food processing ministries could join the club, leaving agriculture, for all practical purposes, to the states, as envisaged by the Constitution. But we must be careful what we wish for.

The real UN question

People who think about the United Nations too much tend to develop distinctly strange views of international affairs. Seventy years old this year, the world organisation is not letting old age slow it down. Its aid workers and peacekeepers are on the frontlines, from the wars in the Middle East to Ebola-stricken West Africa. Yet, diplomats and UN officials often struggle to focus on the ugly realities of these crises. It is easy to get sucked into the minutiae of the UN’s ineffably complex rules ofprocedure and committee work instead. If you sit in the Security Council (UNSC) or General Assembly in New York, these details appear to be of global importance.

NPS: Govt staffers may go for higher equity exposure

Breaking away from the traditional pension fund management system for governmentemployees, the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) is planning to provide them with a variety of investment options where they can park their funds, including a choice to deploy 50 per cent of their contribution into equities. This will be a marked change from the current default scheme that allows up to 15 per cent of contribution to be invested into equities.

India and Iran to jointly review pesticide residue levels in teas

India and Iran will together review the issue of maximum residue levels (MRL) of pesticides in teas in order to increase India’s exports of the commodity to the high-value market. During the visit of an official delegation, it was decided that a joint technical group would review this issue, at a time when Iranian importers are seeking increased level of orthodox tea exports from India, with an assurance on the MRL front.