Why a ban on Qatar may not be in the interest of the countries joining forces against them

While the announcement that several Middle Eastern counties including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Yemen were outright banning all relations with Qatar, the fact that they actually did it has had reverberations across the globe. Saudi Arabia declared a complete ban on all air, sea and land routes into and out of Qatar while UAE and Bahrain demanded the expulsion of Qatari diplomats from their countries. At last count, Libya and Maldives had joined the growing chorus against Qatar. Qatar is a tiny emirate jutting out as a peninsula from Saudi Arabia towards Iran. While it is a member of the international oil supplying nation group Organisation ...

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As a South Asian living in the UK, my vote goes to Jeremy Corbyn

Last week, I found a pamphlet of a budding political party innocuously placed next to my door. It embossed a pulp and a round South Asian face wearing a blue tie. Or was it a purple tie? I cannot remember. The party manifesto intrigued me the most. Notwithstanding the poor grammar, which showed the carelessness on part of the party candidate, it was the ambitious claims that interested me. As a Member of Parliament (MP), he promised to nationalise transport, improve health services, reduce housing cost and, wait for it, improve global trade. The manifesto’s language did not only lack grammar, it ...

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Dictators like Rodrigo Duterte need to be careful when they “joke” about using rape as a weapon

The world works in strange ways and the more things change, the more they stay the same. After decades, nay centuries of conflict, it seems the world had finally turned the corner in the 90s. Yes, there was a lot still to be done, but we seemed to be moving in the right direction. The cold war had ended, the European Union (EU) took concrete shape, and globalisation was taking root all over. Free trade and the communication revolution were turning the world into a global village. Perhaps for the first time in human history, democracy and human rights were regarded as supreme and inviolable in ...

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Instead of playing political games, BJP should keep the Indian army in its own democratic boundary

Civil supremacy over the military, a necessary adjunct of the parliamentary form of government, stands firmly established in India, making the army a political neutral institution of the state. Over the decades, the Indian army has played a crucial role in preserving the democracy of India – first by serving the nation with professionalism, and second by keeping itself away from politics. However, off late, post the Narendra Modi government at the centre, there is angst that the military is being politicised. The infatuation between the government and the army is quite evident. The government, time and again, has been advertising cross border operations and ...

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When Trump met the pope…

On May 19, 2017, Donald Trump landed in Saudi Arabia, to mark his first series of international appearances as the President of the United States of America. The itinerary read as follows; Saudi Arabia, Israel, The Vatican City, Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) leaders meeting and finally Sicily for the G7 summit. As one would expect, there were a myriad of talking points, just hours after Trump left his Mar-a-lago comfort zone. Firstly, from a journalistic point of view it was exceedingly hard to cover this trip. In Saudi Arabia, gender segregation is still at an all-time ...

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Why do students in American high schools resort to humiliating Muslims and people who aren’t white?

When the student body president of a Northern California high school won his campaign after posting an Islamophobic joke, I was not surprised. It is part and parcel of American high schools to reward students for racism, particularly when the school administration isn’t interested in protecting vulnerable students for the sake of ‘keeping the peace’. By overlooking racist and toxic behaviour, schools inevitably normalise racism, misogyny, and heterosexism, all of which lend to bullying and cheapen the lives of many young people at these schools. And it’s not only the oppressed or the so-called victim who is negatively affected by this situation, but the oppressor as ...

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Mob justice is a slippery slope that India must not slide down from

As much as India is the land of dharma, the Buddha, Ashoka, and Gandhi, it is also a land that has been witness to untold violence and bloodshed over the centuries. There have been bloody invasions, conquests, internal clashes, and social divisions, all of which have perhaps left as much of an imprint on the collective psyche of Indian society as the great saints and yogis who preached their message of peace and love. This dichotomy manifests itself in modern India as well. At one level, 1.2 billion people co-exist relatively peacefully amidst scarcity, inequality, and intense competition for resources. On the other hand, there are ...

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Trump may be doing the right thing siding by Saudi instead of Iran

Political pundits around the world are trying to analyse the impact of President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his speech to the leaders of some 50 Muslim countries in Riyadh. Some are saying that it is full of contradictions as compared to his pre-election rhetoric against Muslims. Others say that his clear tilt towards Sunni’s and his siding with the Saudis on their stand vis à vis Iran is illogical and counter-productive to the USA’s fight against ISIS. On one hand, the fountainhead of the theological underpinnings of ISIS is the Saudi Arabian sponsored Wahabi/Takfiri ideology and its main support comes from ...

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Donald Trump will be giving a lecture on Islam to Muslims in Riyadh – let that sink in

Blowing trumpets, doves flying overhead and the awaiting red carpet. To many, this scenery invokes fairy tales of kings visiting their prefectures on gilded carriages with soldiers in tow. The princes and princesses line up to greet their guest along with the nobility, hoping a beautiful guest from within the entourage would catch their eye and sparks would fly. Not much was expected to change from this picture apart from the medieval setting when Donald Trump landed in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. This is Trump’s first visit to a foreign country and surprisingly, he chose Saudi Arabia as his destination. Surprising is too mute a word to capture the reality ...

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India’s absence from the OBOR forum is testimony of Modi’s failed foreign policy

China hosted a massive two-day international event between May 14 and 15 in Beijing to formally launch its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, which plans to connect Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. More than 65 countries participated in the summit and nearly half of them were represented by their heads of state and government. World powers such as the US, the UK, France, Germany, Russia and even Japan too were in Beijing. Apart from Bhutan, which does not have any diplomatic ties with China, all other South Asian countries took part. However, the Narendra Modi-led Indian government decided to give it a miss in spite of China’s repeated overtures. Nothing can explain this self-inflicted isolation of India except PM Modi’s ...

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