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Anti-Semitism rises when populism lurches to the Right

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pushed a boulder into the pond: He called it “a pivotal moment in the history of Zionism and the Jewish state”. The Knesset (Parliament) had passed a law which says: “The right of national self-determination is unique to the Jewish people.” Israel’s non-Jewish population have been left out. Assam’s Muslims, you are not alone.

Pic Credit :The Independent

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Call it coincidence or mysterious design, there are moments in world affairs when disparate societies have the same experience.

I had barely registered that the sword of Damocles hung on the heads of over four million people, mostly Muslims, in Assam by a very Orwellian sounding National Register of Citizens, when a friend from New York drew my attention to similar happenings in Israel.

In Assam, the terrified Muslims have apparently failed to provide documentary proof of citizenship. The BJP governments at the Centre and in the state have been at pains to reassure Muslims staring at the abyss that they will have a chance to appeal what is for the time being only a provisional finding of the NRC. In any case whatever is happening is at the Supreme Court’s prodding.

Meanwhile, far removed from Assam, on July 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s kindred spirit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pushed a boulder into the pond: He called it “a pivotal moment in the history of Zionism and the Jewish state”. The Knesset (Parliament) had passed a law which says: “The right of national self-determination is unique to the Jewish people.” Israel’s non-Jewish population have been left out. Assam’s Muslims, you are not alone.

I wish someone in the opposition galaxy would lambast the NRC half as effectively as Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO did the Israeli “perfidy”. The Jewish Nation State law, she said, is “apartheid, discrimination, ethnic cleansing and sectarianism at the expense of the Palestinian people”.

The way Donald Trump is distributing largesse to both Netanyahu and Modi (shifting the embassy to Jerusalem and promising NATO status to India), he qualifies as their “big daddy” for more reasons than one. He set very high standards on how to treat the “others” when they try to violate national borders. He separated children from their parents. Children were sent to foster homes and parents to jail.

Netanyahu’s dilemma is as old as Israel: Is it a democracy or a Jewish state? The new law would tend to tilt the balance one way. Of all the American Presidents, Jimmy Carter was the only one to place his finger on the pulse: “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

In the past, New Delhi always had two distinct approaches to Israel. There was a tweed-wearing, liberal, socialist disdain for Zionism opposed to a much more powerful “Hindu” empathy for the Jewish state which, like India, was surrounded by hostile Muslim neighbours.

Trump, the great guru of anti-foreigner xenophobia virtually tousled Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte’s hair, like a school master showering affection on a promising pupil. At a White House Joint Press Conference, Trump said: “I like your policies against illegal and legal immigrants.”

Matteo Salvini, of the xenophobic League Party, a self-confessed admirer of Mussolini, Deputy Prime Minister but in effect the driving force behind the coalition in Rome, must be swooning in ecstasy. He must feel reassured that he has kindred spirits in very high places.

His ties to Le Pen once raised the hackles of Jewish leaders like Riccardo Pacifici for anti-Semitic potential of the two. After all, Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen was a holocaust denier. Salvini clarifies that he hates Muslims, not Jews. That is salutary.

I doubt if friends in Israel would be overtly impressed by a Mussolini admirer denying his anti-Semitic instincts. Indeed, there is growing anxiety that wherever across the globe the raging anti-establishment wave has taken a turn to the far right, anti-Semitism has followed.

The People’s Party in Austria, a very fascist outfit, under 31-year-old Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, has, as expected, revealed itself as virulently anti-Semitic. There are moves afoot to have Jews buying kosher meat to be placed on a separate registry. The most shrill voice supporting the move had been of Gottfried Waldhausl, former animal welfare minister. “Soon you will ask us to wear the Star of David on our chests” said a spokesman for the Jews.

In Austria has surfaced the perfect example of enemies joining hands in the face of common danger: Jewish and Muslim organisations have made common cause because “halal” meat too has come under fire.

Spokesman of the American Jewish Committee’s Berlin office has denounced attacks on “halal” meat for Muslims. “These are attacks on Jewish and Muslim ways of life.”

Global media, like the ostrich, has buried its head in the sand in the hope that a gust of anti-Semitism will pass even from a country like Poland where Auschwitz was supposed to be a constant reminder — “never again”. But what is happening is quite the contrary and scary. A law has been passed prohibiting Jews from reclaiming properties they lost during the holocaust.

Trump has rushed in with an act called “Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today”. In brief it is called the Just Act. It requires the State Department to monitor the activities of a dozen or so countries where anti-Semitism stands in the way of Jewish access to property lost during World War II. US President as a realtor is a brand new concept.

The potential of explosive nationalism (say, in Poland) being stoked by this kind of foreign intervention has apparently been lost on the authors. The image of Trump as a backyard bully will only grow, as will anti Semitism.

There is a profound lesson for a society like Israel in all of this. There is a potential for fascism, anti-Semitism, when anti-status quo movements take a sharp right turn. No such fear lurks when the Podemos rises in Spain, Syriza in Greece or when a 28-year-old Leftist bartender in New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, beats a 10-term Democratic Law maker, or when Lopez Obrador knocks the stuffing out of the Right in Mexico. There are examples galore. Neither Jews nor Gentiles are invoked when movements talk of distributive justice and inequality.

(A senior commentator on diplomatic and political affairs, Saeed Naqvi can be reached on [email protected] . The views expressed are personal.)

Analysis

Climate change will worsen disparities, may increase support for Naxals: Report

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Maoists Naxal

Bengaluru, Oct 16 : As the effects of climate change on livelihoods become more pronounced, especially for people involved in agriculture and fishing in South and South-East Asia, support for rebel groups and the Naxalite movement is likely to shoot up, according to a new report.

There is evidence that climate change will worsen socio-economic and political disparity in the region as those in power will get to decide who gets the limited resources and how much, the report, co-authored by researchers Pernilla Nordqvist and Florian Krampe while working for the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), has said.

“The climate-conflict linkage primarily plays out in contexts that are already vulnerable to climate change and violence, and where income is highly dependent on agriculture and fishing,” Nordqvist told IndiaSpend in an email.

Human activities have already caused warming of 1 degree Celsius as compared to pre-industrial times, according to the latest report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). By 2030, or latest by mid-century, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Close to 2.5 billion people live in South and South-East Asia, where poverty rates have been declining substantially, thanks to years of strong economic growth in countries such as India. However, the region is also prone to the fallouts of climate change, with glaciers in the Himalayas melting and several island-countries facing rising sea levels. Floods, cyclones, heat waves and droughts are now a frequent occurrence and are expected to intensify in the coming years.

“The region is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and also has a recent history of political violence,” Krampe told IndiaSpend.

Nordqvist and Krame examined 2,000 peer-reviewed studies on the relationship between climate change and conflict and narrowed down on 21 of the most authoritative works for their report, which was published in September 2018.

Their findings from India show that rebel groups and government forces both find recruitment easier when drought is around the corner.

The IPCC report also adds that climate-related risks to livelihoods, food security, health, water supply and human security are projected to increase as the planet warms by 1.5 degrees. With a 2-degree rise, the risks will intensify.

In some areas affected by the Naxalite conflict, the worsening of livelihood conditions has been related to the increased intensity of ongoing civil conflicts. During a drought, or a potential drought, there is an increased risk that rebels and government actors recruit or cooperate with civilians in exchange for livelihood and provision of food.

Naxalites could use climate-related events to gain power in an ongoing conflict, and rebel groups more generally could increase their use of violence against civilians to ensure their groups’ food security, according to the report.

“They violently remove local farmers from their land to ensure enough cropland and agricultural supplies for their own use. The risk of violence seems especially high in rural areas, where government control is scarce and the local population is dependent on the support or protection of rebels or other armed actors,” Nordqvist said.

As climate change pushes up migration, it introduces the possibility of riots in urban areas over resources, the report said. Highlighting the case of riots in Tripura in northeastern India, it said the effects will be most felt in areas where there are already low levels of socio-political stability.

“Many of the climate change problems are trans-national. The Brahmaputra, for example, flows through three countries and is seeing frequent flooding. There is no question that countries will need to cooperate and tensions like the ones between countries India and Pakistan will make this difficult,” Krampe said.

There is some research on the relationship between climate change and conflict in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the report said, adding that there is little understanding of how climate change could be driving conflict in places such as Afghanistan and Myanmar.

Elsewhere in South-East Asia, in some coastal areas of Indonesia the reduced income opportunities from fishing have been linked to a rise in piracy-related activities.

But the impact does not end there.

In Pakistan, for instance, the Islamist group Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) was able to increase its stronghold in Sindh province after the group participated in relief activities following extreme floods.

The IPCC report also warns that those living along coasts and populations dependent on agriculture will be the worst hit by climate change, which will push up poverty rates in coastal areas and in developing countries.

However, “Not everyone affected by climate change will join a rebel group but this also relates to the failure of the governments to respond to disasters,” Krampe said.

At the same time, not all areas will see conflict in the face of climate change. Some might even see a greater cooperation in the aftermath of a natural disaster. These regional dynamics are evolving, however, and their contours will only become clearer with time.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Disha Shetty is a Columbia Journalism School-IndiaSpend reporting fellow. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at [email protected])

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Higher food prices jack up India’s September wholesale inflation

“The prevailing market price for most kharif crops at major mandis has remained lower than the MSP, suggesting procurement hasn’t picked up.”

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wholesale inflation

New Delhi, Oct 15 : India’s inflation rate based on wholesale prices accelerated 5.13 per cent on year in September, from a 4.53 per cent increase in August, as prices of primary articles and food items rose, official data showed here on Monday.

In September last year, the WPI had stood at 3.14 per cent.

“The annual rate of inflation, based on monthly WPI, stood at 5.13 per cent (provisional) for the month of September, 2018 (over September, 2017), as compared to 4.53 per cent (provisional) for the previous month and 3.14 per cent during the corresponding month of the previous year,” the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.

“Build up inflation rate in the financial year so far was 3.87 per cent compared to a build up rate of 1.50 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year.”

On a sequential basis, the expenses on primary articles, which constitute 22.62 per cent of the WPI’s total weightage, rose 2.97 per cent, from a decline of 0.15 per cent in August.

Similarly, the prices of food articles rose. The category has a weightage of 15.26 per cent in the WPI index.

The cost of fuel and power, which commands a 13.15 per cent weightage, increased at a slower pace of 16.65 per cent from a growth of 17.73 per cent.

The expenses on manufactured products registered a rise of 4.22 per cent from 4.43 per cent.

On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, onion prices declined by 7.88 per cent, whereas potatoes became dearer by 68.81 per cent.

In contrast, the overall vegetable prices in September rose by 39.41 per cent, against a rise of 41.05 per cent in the same month a year ago.

Further, the data revealed that wheat became dearer by 6.09 per cent on a YoY basis while prices of pulses were up 0.74 per cent, though paddy became expensive by 2.03 per cent.

The prices of protein-based food items such as eggs, meat and fish went up marginally by 0.83 per cent.

The price of high-speed diesel rose by 11.88 per cent on a YoY basis, petrol by 10.41 per cent and LPG by 17.04 per cent.

“The WPI inflation for September 2018 revealed a negative surprise, printing 30 basis points higher than our forecast. Moreover, a lagged correction in the sub-index for crude oil is likely to result in the revised print for this month, exceeding the initial 5.1 per cent,” said Aditi Nayar, Principal economist, ICRA.

“The considerable uptick in the YoY WPI inflation in September 2018 relative to the previous month was driven by primary food and non-food items and minerals, whereas the other major indices recorded a sequential dip, partly driven by the base effect.”

According to Devendra Kumar Pant, Chief Economist and Senior Director (Public Finance), India Ratings and Research, “The prevailing market price for most kharif crops at major mandis has remained lower than the MSP, suggesting procurement hasn’t picked up.”

“The future inflation trajectory would depend on the response of mandi prices with respect of new MSP, and the movement of crude oil price and value of currency.”

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Gujarat Ministers go out with invites for tallest Sardar statue unveiling

If Chief Minister Vijay Rupani went to Uttar Pradesh to invite his counterpart Yogi Adityanath, his deputy Nitin Patel just returned from neighbouring Maharashtra after inviting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for the event.

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Sardar statue

Gandhinagar, Oct 15 : As the countdown for the unveiling of the tallest statue in the world by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has begun, Gujarat Ministers have fanned out across the country with invites for Chief Ministers for the big show on October 31.

Dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Statue of Unity with a height of 182 metres that has been claimed to be the world’s tallest. It will be unveiled on Patel’s birth anniversary.

As the Gujarat Chief Minister, Modi had on October 31, 2013 laid the foundation stone for the project. Built at a cost of Rs 2,389 crore, the statue stands 3.2 km downstream of the Narmada dam on the islet, Sadhu bet.

The Gujarat government wants this unveiling to be a grand event.

If Chief Minister Vijay Rupani went to Uttar Pradesh to invite his counterpart Yogi Adityanath, his deputy Nitin Patel just returned from neighbouring Maharashtra after inviting Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for the event.

Similarly, the only woman minister in the cabinet, Vibhavriben Dave, just visited Tripura. Agriculture Minister R.C. Faldu has been tasked to invite the Assam Chief Minister.

Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama just returned from his trip to Haryana while Food and Civil Supplies Minister Jayesh Radadia has been sent to Uttarakhand. Energy and Petrochemicals Minister Saurabh Patel is now visiting Bihar with an invite for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja returned from his trip to Himachal Pradesh. Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Ishwarbhai Parmar is in Goa for the purpose.

Forest Minister Ganpat Vasava is in Tamil Nadu, Dilip Thakore has been sent to Naveen Patnaik’s Orissa, Revenue Minister Kaushik Patel to Jharkhand, Ishwarbhai Patel to Arunachal Pradesh and Kishor Kanani has been sent to Meghalaya.

The construction of the statue is almost finished, with the work going on at a fast pace and final touches being given right now.

According to the government, the project is expected to bring in huge revenues in the form of tourism in the tribal region of the state.

The statue will have a museum on the life of Sardar Patel at the base and a viewing gallery, from where the visitors can see beyond the Narmada dam.

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