AYJAZ WANI writes: A resurgent Taliban is in haste to recapture power in Afghanistan and is making advances across the war-torn country following the winding down of US military operations and the steady withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban has made headways within their traditional strongholds of the south and also in the northern districts of Mazar-e-Sharif. The Taliban have encircled the provincial capitals, seized vital border crossings, and restored rules like no smoking and no shaving. They have barred women from going out unless accompanied by a male. The Taliban has also ordered all imams to provide a “list of girls above 15 and widows under 45 in captured areas to be married to Taliban fighters.”
ROBIN RUSSELL-JONES writes: Climate change is the biggest threat that humanity has ever faced. Warming of the troposphere as a result of releasing man-made greenhouse gases into the atmosphere was predicted as long ago as 1896.
Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere have been measured continuously since 1958 at the Mauna Lao Observatory in Hawaii. CO2 has risen from a pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 415 ppm (2021). Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas and has risen from a pre-industrial level of 722 parts per billion to 1,866 (2019). Methane levels plateaued in the ’90s, but have started rising again since 2008 as shown by the observatory at Baring Head in New Zealand.
AKSHAY MATHUR writes: The recent G20 finance ministers’ meeting has reminded us of the powerful role the G20 plays in financial multilateralism. In the last year alone, the G20 has secured a global deal on international taxation, US $650 billion worth of Special Drawing Rights, and launched a debt-relief programme for low-income nations suffering from COVID. It is a work plan reminiscent of G20’s role during the trans-Atlantic financial crisis a decade ago.
RAMANATH JHA writes for ORF: India’s rising urbanisation in recent years has triggered unbridled construction activities to meet the needs of the growing populations in these cities. Not all of these constructions abide by existing laws, however, leading to adverse consequences on governance systems, the environment, people’s health, transportation services, and overall citizen well-being. In extreme cases, illegal constructions have resulted in loss of lives and property. This paper calls for the rectification of policies, improved planning, stricter implementation of laws, and improvement of technology for governance.
RAJESWARI PILLAI RAJAGOPALAN writes for ORF: Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar joined other foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for a meeting in Dushanbe this week. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said ahead of the meeting that it would focus on assessing the “achievements” of the SCO as it marks its 20th anniversary in 2021. But the more important meeting for India was obviously going to be the one on the sidelines between Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi. The press release and statements from the respective foreign ministries after the bilateral indicates that India and China are no closer to resolving their troubles along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between the two countries.
go to ORF website: China-India Foreign Ministers Meet in Dushanbe | ORF (orfonline.org)
Nikita Jain and Siddharth Rathore write: For a second consecutive month the headline inflation rate, CPI (Consumer Price Index-Combined), has been above the 6 percent range of the central bank. The year-on-year percentage change (YoY%) print for June 2021 has marginally eased to 6.26 percent from 6.30 percent in May 2021. This is mainly due to easing off the sequential momentum to 0.6 percent month-on-month (MoM) in June 2021 versus 1.6 percent MoM in May 2021.
JOHN C. HULSMAN writes for ORF: There was no longer any way to put it off; in July 1940, the army-dominated government of Imperial Japan had come to a strategic fork in the road. Angered by its ongoing aggression in China, the western powers (the US, UK, and the Netherlands) had enacted a full oil embargo to stop Tokyo’s militarism in its tracks. Despite its stockpiles, the Japanese high command knew this was a potentially game-changing economic blow as, together, the three countries supplied Tokyo with an overwhelming 90 percent of its energy needs. Unless Japan engaged in the most humiliating about face, ending its adventurism in China (on which its government had staked everything), Tokyo’s economy would soon literally grind to a halt. A decisive strategic choice had to be made, and quickly.
Sadia Rahman and Namrata Hasija write for ORF: Education diplomacy is one of the facets in the process of building mutually beneficial and reciprocal relationships between nation states. Opting for the trajectory of the education diplomacy model is instrumental for the establishment and strengthening of any two states’ bilateral relationship. The internalisation of higher education has availed several opportunities for convergences; thus, this article intends to introduce education diplomacy as an effective soft power tool in establishing a robust bilateral relationship between India and Taiwan.
go to ORF website: Education diplomacy to improve India-Taiwan relations? | ORF (orfonline.org)
ABHIJIT MUKHOPADHYAY writes for ORF: Economic recovery needs a certain amount of optimism across all sectors of the economy. Important economic players, who will determine the course of recovery, should be moderately optimistic. But optimism also needs to be supported by real-time data and statistical facts.