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Showing posts from January 28, 2017

Peace is a process (Hindu.

The absentees at the Astana talks on the Syrian conflict hold the cards for the next steps

Two days of talks over the war in Syria ended this week in Astana, Kazakhstan. Iran, Russia and Turkey were the main powers at the table. Kazakhstan was a perfect location for the talks, since it has close ties with both Turkey and Russia. The Syrian government and the armed opposition sat together for the first time in six years. The Syrians came to the table, but they were not party to the final agreement. In the end, the three powers came to an understanding, which is itself a matter of great significance since these powers were major rivals on the Syrian battlefield.

Lack of external support

Wars end either with a decisive victory or in exhaustion. In Syria, neither condition has been reached. What drives the ceasefire talks is the recognition that the major proxies of the armed opposition — Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the U.S. — have withdrawn. Turkey has decided that this war has spilled ove…

Case for targeted basic income (Hindu.)

The idea of a basic income is not new. The first known suggestion on an unconditional universal basic income for all adults regardless of other income sources was from Thomas More. Centuries later, in 1918, Bertrand Russell discussed a basic income sufficient for necessities as central to the social model combining the advantages of anarchism and socialism that he argued for in Proposed Roads to Freedom. “A certain small income, sufficient for necessities should be secured to all, whether they work or not, and that a larger income — as much larger as might be warranted by the total amount of commodities produced — should be given to those who are willing to engage in some work which the community recognises as useful.” Even on finishing education, no one should be compelled to work, and those who choose not to work should receive a bare livelihood and be left completely free, he wrote.

With anti-globalist populism on the rise, several advanced countries are considering whether they s…

Getting ready for Sport 3.0? (Hindu.)

Technique and technology have combined to turn sport into a spectacle that was never accessible to our forefathers.

Two events that occurred recently in the world of sport not only challenged our imagination but also offered us a peek into the future of sports. But think deeply about them and they may not surprise us.

For, both sportsmen and sports equipment, the latter more so, have been evolving at a mind-boggling pace and we are left playing catch-up, jaws dropped, mind reeling.

The incremental leaps in technology that sports have made make us wonder whether our grandfathers or great grandfathers would have recognised them for what they are.

In fact, some of the changes that sport has undergone can be compared to artificial intelligence or unimaginable robots.

This might be the conclusion of those who watched Virat Kohli in the India-England ODI series in Pune hit Chris Woakes’s slower short ball soaring over mid-on a few days before Ivo Karlovic hit 75 aces and a huge number of f…

Strong railway, strong India. But do we care? (hehidu, )

In the early hours of November 23 in 1956, a train accident at Ariyalur, a town not very far from Thanjavur, killed 142 people and injured 110. Lal Bahadur Shastri, Railway Minister at the time, took moral responsibility for the mishap and resigned. Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister, forwarded his resignation to the President.

Sixty years later, on November 20 last year, a train accident near Kanpur killed nearly 150 people. And within 60 days, last Saturday, at least 40 passengers died when a train derailed in Andhra Pradesh. No one resigned, no heads rolled. Instead, fingers were pointed at Pakistan’s ISI and Maoists.

The truth is 60 years is long enough for those in power to grow a thick skin — and also for people to become insensitive to such tragedies. I mean, how does it matter to us if 100 or 150 die in a train accident somewhere in Kanpur or Odisha or wherever, as long as we were not travelling in the ill-fated train? Today, what matters to us is who said what — and not wh…