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India and Pakistan on the Brink of War : China, Russia sees opportunity in US absence

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Mirage 2000 Fighter Jet

Feb 28 : The aerial combat engagement between Indian and Pakistani Air Forces against each other risks triggering into a worst escalation if not a war like situation between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals. Earlier, US used to play a major role in bringing peace in South Asia but President Donald Trump’s foreign policy is more focused in North Korea and Saudi Arabia. With China and Russia competing for Great Power position in the world, are trying to find an opportunity to increase their influence in this part of the region. Meanwhile, Pakistan has approached China to mediate in its conflict with India, saying it hopes Beijing can play a constructive role in easing the tensions.

The bouts of military aggression between New Delhi and Islamabad took a step forward a day after Indian Air Force (IAF) fighters conducted airstrikes on a terrorist camps inside Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, killing roughly 300 terrorists and eventually it was clear that India has avenged the Jaish-e-Mohmmad Feb 14 suicide car bombing in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

12 Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighters armed with Israeli Crystal Maze long-range air-to-surface missiles and SPICE-2000 bombs carried out air raids on terror training camps at Balakot (Markaz Syed Ahmad Shaheed), Muzaffarabad and Chakothi areas in Pakistan is a clear manifestation of India’s new policy.

With the anti- terror preemptive strike, India has redefined its foreign and military policy of securing its national interests and defending its sovereignty. Releasing itself from the clutches of old attitudes that have prevailed since 1947. No more tolerance for terror.

Pakistan military and ISI has been strategically using terror organisations to wage proxy war against India but New Delhi has clearly indicated that it will not hesitate to violate the sanctity of the LoC or the international border to respond to any act of terror.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is facing Lok Sabha elections just months away, exploited the entire thing by putting a billboard of Martyrs behind him at a rally in Churu in the state of Rajasthan. In first public remarks after strikes by the Indian Air Force, Prime Minister Narendra Modi first patted his back, saying, “the country is in safe hands and that he will not let the country down”.

As India claimed their “preemptive” strike on the militants was a success, Pakistani authorities insisted that no real damage was done and vowed to respond.Consequently, mortar fire had been exchanged between Indian and Pakistani troops across the Line of Control in Kashmir. On the second day, Pakistan said it had captured one Indian pilot after his aircraft was shot down in the first air-to-air engagement between the two forces since their last major war in 1971. The Pakistani military soon circulated video of a captured Indian pilot in their custody.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was nervous after Congress won the recently assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, now displayed himself as the protector of the country “We won’t let this country bow down!”. Some ministers even compared surgical strike 2.0 to the United States navy seals operation in Pakistan’s Abbottabad in 2011 in which Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was killed.

On the second day, Modi met Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three Services chiefs to discuss about the evolving scenario at the border  and the status of Wing Commander Abhinandan, who has been captured alive by the Pakistani military.

India has sought his immediate release. The details so emerged of the aerial combat suggests that when at least ten Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft were seen heading targeting India’s military installments  along LoC, two MiG21 fighter jets and Su30MKI fighters engaged them and in the process.

On the other side, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan met the National Command Authority that oversees the deployment and management of Pakistan’s nuclear arms.

BJP should stop driving political mileage from the military operations by crediting PM Modi. India has been giving befitting response to the terror strikes that originated from Pakistan but no government had taken credit.

Military action was imperative but Indian Air Force should be credited and the Modi government needs to analyse his Kashmir and foreign policy towards Pakistan, whose government gave Pakistani intelligence officials access to the country’s top air force base in Pathankot after a terror attack. In January 2016, Pathankot terrorist attack was orchestrated by jaish-e-Mohammad heavily armed group.

After terror attacks in Udhampur (August 2015) and Gurdaspur (July 2015), Modi traveled to Pakistan on an unplanned visit, to attend the wedding of the then PM Nawaz Sharif’s grand daughter.

Modi and his party used every opportunity to en-cash the first surgical strike, which was conducted after Uri attack in which 18 soldiers were martyred, during Uttar pradesh assembly elections.

Pointing to the another dimension, PM Modi, his ministers and the right wing Hindu organisations used Armed forces as cannon fodder, no Indian Prime Minister ever allowed such type of treatment meted out to our security forces.

The previous governments had never used Army or military operation for political purposes and has given Indian security personnel due respect, prestige and logistical support to safeguard the borders of the country. Modi should also scrutinize its own policies that led to growing unrest in Kashmir: Population alienated consequently Kashmiris are swelling the ranks of the militants and our security forces are being killed brutally. After the pulwama attack, Kashmiris remain targets of physical abuse and harassment.

One must consider that the local terrorist was a suicide bomber, therefore, internal problems must be addressed as soon as possible and Kashmiris need to be embraced.


It is a tough situation as India targeted terror camps and Pakistan has used its Air Force to target military installations in India.Tough times ahead as it is difficult to say how things would turn out over the next few days.

Diplomacy is the only response to settle disputes when the global economic growth is still struggling following financial crisis.

As the P-5 countries of the UNDC called upon both to de-escalate  or exercise restraint but US President Donald Trump is not applying his personal diplomacy to bring calm in South Asia.

The most significant aspect  is Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province attached huge importance to China. The 70-mile Thakot-Havelian road project passes through Mansehra, a district where the Indian air attacks took place and is worth $1.3 billion Chinese investment and a hydro power project is also under construction.

China, who has invested billions of dollars in strategic projects including Gwadar port  under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, has asked Pakistan to avoid any further escalation of the situation.Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has called his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, to help resolve the situation.

Arti Bali

By Arti Bali Senior Journalist

Analysis

Dissatisfaction with democracy at record high: Report

The research team found that shifts in democratic satisfaction often responded to “objective circumstances and events” such as economic shocks or corruption scandals.

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Democracy

London, Jan 29: The year 2019 represents the highest level of democratic discontent on record, according to a new study by University of Cambridge researchers on Wednesday.

Across the planet, from Europe to Africa, as well as Asia, Australasia, both Americas and the Middle East, the share of individuals who say they are “dissatisfied” with democracy has jumped significantly since the mid-1990s – from 47.9 per cent to 57.5 per cent, according to the report.

Dissatisfaction with democratic politics among citizens of developed countries has increased from a third to half of all individuals over the last quarter of a century, it added.

For the study, the research team from the university’s new Centre for the Future of Democracy used a unique dataset of more than four million people. It combines over 25 international survey projects covering 154 countries between 1995 and 2020.

“Across the globe, democracy is in a state of malaise,” said the report’s lead author Roberto Foa, from Cambridge’s Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS).

“We find that dissatisfaction with democracy has risen over time, and is reaching an all-time global high, in particular in developed countries,” Foa added.

The research revealed that the downward trend in satisfaction with democracy has been especially sharp since 2005, which marks the beginning of what some have called a “global democratic recession”.

Just 38.7 per cent of citizens were dissatisfied in that year, but this has since risen by almost one-fifth of the population to 57.5 per cent.

Many large democracies are now at their highest-ever recorded level for democratic dissatisfaction. These include the UK, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, as well as the US – where dissatisfaction has increased by a third since the 1990s.

Other countries that remain close to their all-time dissatisfaction highs include Japan, Spain and Greece.

However, researchers uncovered what they call an “island of contentment” in the heart of Europe: Denmark, Switzerland, Norway and the Netherlands are among nations where satisfaction with democracy is reaching all-time highs.

“We found a select group of nations, containing just two per cent of the world’s democratic citizenry, in which less than a quarter of the public express discontent with their political system,” said Foa.

Other regional “bright spots”, where levels of civic contentment are significantly higher, include Southeast Asia, and to a lesser extent the democracies in South Asia and Northeast Asia.

“For now, much of Asia has avoided the crisis of democratic faith affecting other parts of the world,” said Foa.

The research team found that shifts in democratic satisfaction often responded to “objective circumstances and events” such as economic shocks or corruption scandals.

“The 2015 refugee crisis and the 2008 financial crisis had an immediately observable effect upon average levels of civic dissatisfaction,” said Foa.

Following the onset of the global financial crisis in October 2008, for example, global dissatisfaction with the functioning of democracy jumped by around 6.5 percentage points – an increase that “appears to have been durable”, said the researchers.

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Analysis

31% Goa IT workers battle hypertension, 40% overweight: Study

“Thirty seven (31.4 per cent) had hypertension, 50 (42.4 per cent) suffered from pre-hypertension… 13 (11.2 per cent) had diabetes mellitus and three (2.5 per cent) blood sugar in pre-diabetic range,” the study noted.

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working pressure hypertension

Panaji, Jan 20 : Nearly 31 per cent of the IT sector workforce in Goa suffers from hypertension whereas more than 40 per cent are either overweight or obese, a cross-sectional study of IT professionals working in the coastal state has revealed.

“A majority of the 118 surveyed employees — 63 (53.4 per cent) — had normal range body mass index, seven (5.9 per cent ) were underweight, 40 (33.9 per cent) overweight, six (5.1 per cent) class I obesity and two (1.7 per cent ) class II obesity,” the study by Preksha P Vernekar, Kalyani and Jagadish A Cacodcar said.

“Thirty seven (31.4 per cent) had hypertension, 50 (42.4 per cent) suffered from pre-hypertension… 13 (11.2 per cent) had diabetes mellitus and three (2.5 per cent) blood sugar in pre-diabetic range,” the study noted.

“A significant prevalence of lifestyle diseases is noticed among the participants in the study. Lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidaemia and overweight/obesity are major risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease,” as per the study published in the Epidemiology International journal.

Considerable pre-hypertension cases raised concern over possible cardiovascular morbidities along with complications in due course of time, the research paper’s authors pointed out.

The study data was collected from health records of 118 IT professionals working in four top Information Technology firms in Goa, whose government is pitching the coastal state as a destination for IT start-ups.

The study authors, all medical professionals working at the state’s top government-run medical facility, also underlined the need for periodic health checkups to ensure timely detection and early management of health problems.

“The companies should have mandatory periodic health check-ups of their employees, preferably at their health centres, to gain better insight into their general health status.

“Pre-placement examination of employees is must to know their working capacity so as to ensure ergonomics as well as to procure first-hand knowledge on health problems workers may be suffering from before employment,” the study recommended.

The study suggested the introduction of stress-busting modules in the IT work space to ensure better physical and mental health of staff, which ensured better performance by the workforce.

“Health education on diet, physical activity and relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can be imparted to employees. These steps will finally improve their performance and in turn lead to decreased incidence of morbidities, absenteeism due to sickness and job stress, thereby leading to optimum work output,” the study said.

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Analysis

Housing sales fell 30% in October-December: Report

For the period, April-December 2019-20, sales at 2,28,220 units fell by 13 per cent, compared to 2,63,294 units last year.

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Real Estate Sector

New Delhi, Jan 14 : Sales in the residential real estate segment declined 30 per cent during the October-December quarter on a year-on-year basis across nine major cities in the country, a PropTiger report said on Tuesday.

A total of 64,034 homes were sold across nine key markets during the third quarter of the financial year 2019-20.

“Housing sales in India’s nine key property markets fell 30 per cent annually during the October-December quarter despite the government launching several measures in the recent past to revive buyer sentiment. As against 91,464 units sold during the quarter last year, only 64,034 homes were sold across the nine markets in Q3 this year,” it said.

Mumbai contributed nearly 40 per cent to the overall sales numbers during the period under review, as per the report.

“What points towards a nation-wide phenomenon, sales declined across all these markets, with Bengaluru, popularly known as India’s Silicon Valley, registering a 50 per cent fall in sales numbers.”

For the period, April-December 2019-20, sales at 2,28,220 units fell by 13 per cent, compared to 2,63,294 units last year.

New project launches in India’s nine key residential markets continued to decline, falling 44 per cent year-on-year to 41,133 units during the October-Decmber quarter, primarily on liquidity concerns, the report said.

“Only 41,133 units were launched in Q3 FY20, as against 73,226 units in the corresponding period last fiscal, the report shows. New launches fell across markets, with Kolkata and Gurugram seeing the biggest fall, at 79 and 74 per cent, respectively,” it said.

Nearly 40 per cent of new launches were concentrated in India’s financial capital Mumbai. Affordable housing continued to dominate launches, with 52 per cent units launched in this segment across the major cities.

Compared to the first nine months (April-December) of the previous financial year, launches declined by 32 per cent during the same period in the current fiscal. While 2,15,596 units were launched between April and December in the previous year, 1,45,852 units were launched during the same period this year, it added.

The cities covered under the survey were Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai (including Navi Mumbai and Thane), Pune and Noida, including Greater Noida and the Yamuna Expressway.

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