Why Pakistanis are happier than Indians

The World Happiness Report, released by the United Nations on March 20, 2017 – to coincide with International Happiness day – has ranked India at the bottom of the pyramid, in terms of happiness of its citizens. India has been ranked 122 out of 145 countries, even below Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan. These findings are based on evaluating the responses to a structured questionnaire sent to around 3,000 respondents who were asked to rate their happiness on a scale of zero to 10, where zero represents the worst possible life and 10 the best. The questionnaire covers six key variables like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), life ...

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Modi does not believe in unity in diversity but divisiveness in diversity

Let’s be blunt – India is under the reign of a Hindu extremist government. For the first time in independent India’s history, you have a government which is openly repugnant to the idea of secularism, pluralism and liberalism. What is happening in India today is not normal. The systematic targeting of Muslims in the name of cow protection or love jihad is the new norm in the largest democracy of the world. This is not happening at one place but all across the country, particularly in the states rules by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Last week, the news came from a village in Jharkhand, an eastern Indian ...

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The strange myth of America’s ‘humanitarian’ wars

In March 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a forgetful 71-page report, calling out Israel’s indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza. No rhetoric of bringing the oppressor to justice was heard within the American halls of power, and no tomahawk missiles were launched the following week. The perversity of President Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes speaks for itself. It’s fair to assume that if Assad’s regime had been backed by powerful western interests, the latest unwatchable video of Syrian children suffering from the effects of chemical warfare would have invited the same response as Israel’s hawkish policies consistently do – Assad ...

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For the US, friends and enemies aren’t important, only interests are

Growing up, we form friendships, alliances and enmities in playgrounds and classrooms. There are clear rules that govern our interactions and attitudes towards those we call friends and those we regard as enemies or our friends’ enemies. It’s mostly cut and dry and there’s very little room for ambiguity. As we grow up, we begin to see shades of grey and the thick dividing lines that existed in our minds begin to blur. However, somewhere that conditioned perception of a clear demarcation between good versus bad and friend versus enemy persists in our psyche. International relations are complex. There are layers and subtexts that ...

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Brexit: Britain’s chance to flex its economic muscles

All the pundits and economists predicted Brexit wouldn’t happen and yet here we are, nine months on with Theresa May signing a letter initiating a two year negotiation process to culminate in Britain’s divorce from the European Union (EU).The 44-year-old tumultuous marriage which has seen Britain enjoy tariff free trading and travel within the EU, will now be ripped apart and the minutiae of the separation will be attempted to be agreed upon. Brexit itself was a huge surprise but May’s calm, structured and organised approach to the whole matter has surpassed critics.  Going forward, crucial questions on Britain’s access to ...

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Trump has a Yates problem and it ain’t going away anytime soon!

I don’t even know where to begin but let me start with this – at the time of writing these lines, the bizarre saga of Russia hacking the US presidential election is moving along at a breath-taking pace. The number of people allegedly involved from the Trump camp is as high as the sky, and if justice is allowed to take its due course, we may see a few heads rolling, and by that I mean some seriously important heads! Sally Yates is a real life American hero. On the night of January 30th, when she stood up against Donald Trump’s ...

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I applaud Trump for inspiring such great progressive moments in the US

Post 9/11, the world became a very different place. However, no one could have predicted how the heinous acts of a few deranged individuals that September day in 2001 would affect the lives of more than a billion Muslims across the globe. On their part, Muslim Americans were naturally traumatised to witness the sudden thoughtless rise in islamophobia and hatred towards their community. So they internalised their fears and saw merit in distancing themselves from all national socio-political discourses. Barack Obama’s progressive policies did bring some relief for Muslim Americans. Unfortunately, his sincere efforts at instilling confidence within the marginalised Muslim ...

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The world must not allow the situation in Yemen to fester anymore

The Middle East has had a tumultuous history and the region’s politics have been anything but composed and calm. There are many fault lines that run through the geographic, social and ethnic divisions, and as a result, conflict and turmoil have never been too far from taking centre stage. The latest conflict to erupt in these volatile climes has been the civil war in Yemen which has been raging for the last two years. Yemen is one of the poorest and most backward countries in the Arabian Peninsula, yet it is also very strategically located. This makes it a fertile ground for various interests to ...

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Destroying Jinnah’s house will not undo the Partition, Mangal Lodha

The sordid saga of ultra-nationalism unfolding in the subcontinent took a new twist this week. The Times of India reports that a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, demanded that Jinnah’s house in Mumbai be demolished and replaced by a centre representing Maharashtra’s culture.  Jinnah’s residence is a mansion in the Malabar Hill area of Mumbai where Mohammad Ali Jinnah resided following his return to India from England in 1936. It continued to be his primary residence till 1944, following which he started transitioning to the Flagstaff House in Karachi where he moved permanently after Partition. Before anything else, let’s dispense one clarification: jingoism ...

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Why Turkey’s referendum is important

Turkey is one of the most beautiful countries of the world. Besides physical beauty of its architectural heritage and breath-taking landscapes, Turkey also captures the imagination because it is a crossroad of Asia and Europe, and consequently a lovely mix between tradition and modernisation. But what makes Turkey truly fascinating for me is that since the 1920s, it has been a secular as well as a moderate Muslim majority country. Whenever someone wants to prove that a Muslim country can be secular and moderate, they use Turkey as their example.  Turkey was cited by Reza Aslan as an example to counter ...

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