OPEN YOUR MIND AND REIGNITE THE FLAMES OF DISCOVERY
Author: Anna Foster
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Anna is an English-Cantonese-Mandarin trilingual speaker and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Anna's past experiences and her diversified background showed her great adaptability to new situations as well as her ability to learn quickly.
As an award-winning student journalist, Anna has developed outstanding communication skills and interpersonal skills, and has an open mind as well as international perspective.
Nepal with its mesmerizing climate and diverse culture is one of the best tourist destinations in South Asia. Pristine rivers, unending chain of mountains makes this place a paradise. However, in recent past, frequent political and non political strike has tarnished the image of the country.
The political uncertainty and chaos that has impeded the development in many aspects. There is political instability as a result of myopic leaders who have been wrangling for power sharing but thanks to the new Constitution, women who were under-represented in the First Past the Post results will get seats in federal and provincial assemblies via Proportional Representation quotas.
Moreover, country reels under acute power outage while it claims that it is second richest in water resources- next to Brazil. The discussion was instrumental in highlighting the factors hindering the overall development of the country.
Recently, The Burmese Army Chief who is accused of masterminding ethnic cleansing on his country’s Rohingya people was in Kathmandu on a four-day visit. The Nepal Army said he was here to study Nepal’s peace process, especially the demobilization of the rebel fighters but several human rights activists have criticised the visit of someone accused to gross human rights violations, and said the timing was not right.
Between all these tussles, foreigners can see true Nepal if they visit the rural areas where local people still follow the century old practice and consider guest as god. In materialistic Kathmandu, such tradition has taken the back seat owing to blatant adoption of negative aspect of western mores, endangering its own invaluable culture. they should keep the invaluable custom and tradition intact to handover it to the upcoming generation.
US has come out with a new set of sanctions with the objective of denying access to the US financial system to any country that trades with or finances trade with North Korea.
China has promised both at the UN Security Council and General Assembly to give effect to the sanctions against North Korea. But China has not as yet made any significant attempts to rein in North Korea.
China’s links with North Korea go beyond the standard parameters of global commerce. The most apposite illustration in this regard is the case of DHID, which became a front for the Korea Kwangson Banking Corp, financing North Korea’s weapons proliferation. DHID used layers of obfuscation with a complex network of front companies based in the British Virgin Islands, the Seychelles, England, Wales and Hong Kong, apart from mainland China, the ship changed its name to Victory 3 after UNSC sanctions, though its IMO number remains the same.
The DHID came under the purview of US sanctions in October 2016, but its role has been seamlessly taken over by its subsidiary, the Liaoning Hongxiang trading conglomerate, which is headed by a Chinese national. This conglomerate is North Korea’s largest trading partner and claims to be a bridge between North Korea and the world. Unsurprisingly, the Liaoning Hongxiang Group (LHG) inaugurated the newest China-North Korea shipping route, from Longkou to Nampo, in late September 2015. This route has seen significant traffic despite existing international sanctions against North Korea.
The LHG also has significant connections with Myanmar. The conglomerate’s vice president is a Myanmarese business tycoon TayZa, who has been designated by the US Treasury Department as “an arms and narcotics dealer”. He has extensive interests around Myanmar, especially in the areas of aviation, military equipment, and fuel. He also owns a football club, one of Myanmar’s largest banks, and a company responsible for cargo clearing in the country’s international airports. He is reported to have been instrumental in organizing nuclear contracts with Russia and North Korea.
Given the above backdrop, North Korea is expected to be able to withstand the sanctions, as help from China and Chinese conglomerates is unlikely to be shut down. North Korea has been and will be a strategic asset for China. The Chinese leadership has traditionally felt that a unified Korea with American troops in the Korean peninsula, close to the Chinese border, is a major security concern. The US, on its part, cannot afford to take an excessively belligerent stance with China, which could affect its US $ 650 billion trade with the country, notwithstanding Trump’s claim that “all options are on the table”.
While India is a bystander on this issue, it needs to be on the alert. Pakistan’s links with North Korea are evident, The potential and overwhelming danger it presents cannot be underestimated. Continued caution to prevent any adventurist attempt by the Pakistan military needs to be at the top of India’s agenda.
“Skills Gap,” The theory that employers can’t fill positions because job seekers lack adequate skills/training for the positions companies are eager to fill. And for highly technical jobs — a coding job for example — I don’t doubt the pervasiveness of that problem.
In my experience, the “Skills Gap” is either overblown or irrelevant. The recent graduates are deterred or intimidated from applying OR applying for the wrong job, by something much simpler: poor communication, in the form of carelessly worded job descriptions.
Securing a position requires us to translate a JOB DESCRIPTION from jargon to real-world language.
Sometimes we don’t understand what the job entails? many JOB SEEKERS would simply click “NEXT” – and it’s not because they aren’t qualified, it’s because they don’t understand what the job actually is.
If applicants make it past the “job description” hurdle, they may get tripped up by Online Assessments: It’s a technology many large corporations use to quickly whittle 500 applications to 50. Except, it’s akin to being dropped into a game of Minecraft, where applicants don’t have any sense of the rules or objectives!
More often than not, applicants don’t know basic logistical things, such as how long an assessment will take, or what skill is being evaluated…
Applying for a job is always high stakes. But these days, it seems knowing how to game the application system can be even more important than having the skills or temperament for the job.
At Match Beyond, Students may not have resumes packed with internships and office experience, but more often than not, they are leading complicated lives with great success: managing school, a job (or two) and family, they have mastered the art of prioritization and time management – key attributes in any professional work environment.
It should be make sure that these young people don’t forgo a career-track job, with benefits, because of a technical glitch or a misleading job posting…
As is well known, the current crisis in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was caused by the decision of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt, followed later by a few others, to cut off diplomatic relations as well as trade and transport links with Qatar. Well-wishers of the GCC, which had escaped the ravages of what started as the Arab Spring in 2011, have reason to be deeply disappointed.
The crisis is getting worse by the day primarily for two reasons. First, Qatar’s adversaries seem determined to punish it whatever be the cost thereof in terms of regional stability, peace, and the suffering caused to people in the GCC and elsewhere. Second, Washington, which alone has the clout to intervene and, if need be, impose a settlement in its own interest, appears to be incapable of coherent and rational action under President Trump who has signalled a policy contradicting that of his own Secretaries of State and Defense. Without indulging in untenable counterfactual thinking, anyone could have seen that had Obama been in the White House, Secretary Kerry would have undertaken shuttle diplomacy and ended the current crisis within days. That such a settlement might have been cosmetic and that the underlying causes and complaints might have remained is a different matter. In diplomacy, one is not always looking for a permanent cure. The first priority is to put out the raging fire.
A major diplomatic error has been committed by whosoever thought of sending an ultimatum. A public ultimatum prevents a settlement since ‘face saving’ becomes more difficult. It seems that it is the US Department of State which first came out publicly asking for a list of complaints in writing. On June 20, the Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert bluntly questioned the motives of Saudi Arabia and UAE for their boycott of Doha, saying it was “mystified” as the Gulf states had not released their grievances regarding Qatar. But earlier, on June 16, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir had said that a list of ‘demands’ was under preparation.
The fault of the US Department of State is that it failed to figure out that demands written and public can complicate mediation. It should have advised Saudi Arabia not to go public with its concrete demands. Here, it is important to note that Trump, by reducing the State Department’s budget, has virtually decimated it. The Secretary of State lacks senior aides with professional experience to advise him.
The following is an unofficial translation of the demands put out by Al Jazeera:
List of demands by Saudi Arabia, other Arab nations
Scale down diplomatic ties with Iran and close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar, expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and cut off military and intelligence cooperation with Iran. Trade and commerce with Iran must comply with US and international sanctions in a manner that does not jeopardize the security of the GCC.
Immediately shut down the Turkish military base, which is currently under construction, and halt military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.
This is counter revolution 2.0. This is the second phase of the attack on the Arab Spring and what’s left of it, which is very little.
Sever ties to all “terrorist, sectarian and ideological organizations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, Al Qaeda, Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as the Nusra Front) and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Formally declare these entities as terror groups as per the list announced by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt, and concur with all future updates of this list.
Stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organisations that have been designated as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, US, and other countries.
Hand over “terrorist figures”, fugitives and wanted individuals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to their countries of origin. Freeze their assets, and provide any desired information about their residency, movements and finances.
Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations.
End interference in sovereign countries’ internal affairs. Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
Pay reparations and compensation for loss of life and other financial losses caused by Qatar’s policies in recent years. The sum will be determined in coordination with Qatar.
Align Qatar’s military, political, social and economic policies with other Gulf and Arab countries as per the 2014 agreement reached with Saudi Arabia.
Cease contact with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Hand over files detailing Qatar’s prior contact with and support for opposition groups, and submit details of their personal information and the support Qatar has provided them.
Shut down all news outlets funded directly and indirectly by Qatar, including Arabi21, Rassd, Al Araby Al Jadeed, Mekameleen and Middle East Eye, etc.
Agree to all the demands within 10 days of the list being submitted to Qatar, or the list will become invalid.
Consent to monthly compliance audits in the first year after agreeing to the demands, followed by quarterly audits in the second year, and annual audits in the following 10 years.
Upon reading the list, it is difficult not to recall another ultimatum, couched in equally arrogant style, delivered way back in 1914 by the Austro-Hungarian Empire to Serbia. That ultimatum was couched in a language calculated to ensure rejection. Three days after the deadline of July 25 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia triggering the First World War.
Fortunately, we need not fear any immediate outbreak of hostilities between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. UAE has made it clear that there is no scope for discussion and that if Qatar does not do what it is asked to do there would be a ‘parting of ways’.
What are the implications of the words “parting of ways”? The GCC will get weaker with Qatar out; and Oman and Kuwait will be offended that their mediation efforts were spurned. The Turkish military base in Qatar will get fortified. Qatar and Iran will get closer. Iran’s regional clout will increase.
There is another potential peril. If Iran’s clout increases, how will Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman respond? He took the lead in starting Operation Decisive Storm by invading Yemen in March 2015. It has been far from decisive and Riyadh is chasing a mirage of military victory at an atrocious cost in human lives and human misery.
What complicates the situation further is the unpredictable President Trump. He wants to undo as much of the Obama legacy as possible and is keen to cancel the nuclear deal with Iran. He says that Iran is the source of international terrorism. The troubling question is whether, unwittingly or not, the US President and the Saudi Crown Prince will start a war against Iran and set fire to the rather inflammable region?
Barbara Tuchman in her seminal book The March of Folly wrote:
A phenomenon noticeable throughout history regardless of place or period is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. Mankind, it seems, makes a poorer performance of government than of almost any other human activity. In this sphere, wisdom, which may be defined as the exercise of judgment acting on experience, common sense and available information, is less operative and more frustrated than it should be. Why do holders of high office so often act contrary to the way reason points and enlightened self-interest suggests? Why does intelligent mental process seem so often not to function?”
Let us pray and hope for good sense to prevail. It is unrealistic and rather naïve to expect Qatar to surrender. Any attempt at engineering a coup in Qatar is unlikely to succeed. It is not beyond diplomacy to work out a face-saving formula and end the present crisis after which the GCC can work it out among themselves over a period of time on the basis of a discreet and unpublicized give-and-take. The demand for the shutting down of Al Jazeera is not getting much approbation internationally, to put it mildly.
Egypt’s involvement has only made finding a solution more difficult. This crisis is best resolved within the GCC for which Kuwait and Oman have exerted themselves. If that does not work out, Washington should discharge its responsibilities as early as possible. The fire brigade does not wait for the fire to spread before initiating action.
Russia is a country with which India has had a strategic relationship for decades. America is a place where Indians migrate to for a better lifestyle. That is how Indians view the world’s two leading powers.
India’s PM’s recent visit to America will not change that reality, and those speculating about dramatic changes in India’s foreign policy are either fools or amateurs – or both.
Many US presidents have visited India. Likewise, Indian prime ministers have visited America. But the dynamics of the India-US relationship hasn’t changed much. And why would it? The US is the leader of the western world whose prosperity largely rests on the domination of the rest of the world. India, on the other hand, is a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping that aims to end such dominance and exploitation.
India cannot afford to sacrifice the current military cop-operation with Russia. In material technologies and strategic raw materials inheritance, Russian strength is well acknowledged, Russia is far better source for easier technology transfer than what India can ever hope from USA. India will need Russian support, be it on Kashmir or other matters at the UNSC, if India radically sways away from Russia, Moscow could anytime open up Pakistan military aid option.
Russia has always been friendly to India even during Soviet times when Uncle Sam looked the other way supporting Pakistan dictatorship against India. Any India connivance with a pro-America military alliance will cost us blood and other economic problems.
If India will have to follow USA’s policy of sanctions on Iran then India’s friendship with Iran and Afghan would get strained and would result in decrease in supply of oil from Iran and it will also make hostile situations between India and Muslim countries. On the other hand, Russia supports both, Iran and Afghan.
Russia’s game in the world is open. Nonetheless, it does not foreclose India’s military cooperation with democratic forces in Asia vis-à-vis a potential Chinese power aggression. India needs to culture Russian relationship deeper so that it works as an antidote to any possible Sino-Pak aggression on India. American help in such a situation would mean confrontation, a Russian help peaceful compromise. If both China and Pakistan were to gang-up on India, the US, in order not to risk a nuclear war, will stay neutral. Russia, on the other hand, would provide intermediary help, because Russia has a certain strategic leverage on China. China needs Russia’s strategic alliance for SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) to succeed. The SCO is a Eurasian Silk Road, which in the long run expectedly change the entire economic landscape of Eurasian continent, guaranteeing economic future of all involved. Why should India forego a chance for that reality by entering into U.S.–tailored Asian defense alliance principally designed to torpedo such developments to keep up U.S. predominance.
Moreover, USA is one of the most self-centric country in the world. History is witness that USA is not a reliable partner in several areas, politics, military and hardware spare parts. India will be optioned to buy whole-system units at high prices, probably with loans from US Banks to get India mortgaged to the US as a permanent financial slave. Whenever and wherever US helped, it made sure it got something solid in return.
Russia is a much more reliable partner as it has helped India on several occasions in many fields, politics, military, business, etc. Let it be the 1971 War with Pakistan or Nuclear tests or many other fields, it was Russia and former Soviet Union which stood by India and helped it to come over hard times. India will have to choose its friends and foes carefully in order to succeed in this modern world.
North Korea is a “small country, far-away, about which we know little,” to paraphrase a fateful comment in defense of appeasement from the 1938 crisis over Czechoslovakia. But there is one thing every American needs to know about far-away North Korea: its rulers are on a methodical and relentless quest for the capability to hit America with nuclear weapons.
The nuclear campaign that North Korea is planning against the United States is one it intends to win. It is formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK.
Washington is badly unprepared to meet this threat, because too many of her leaders do not understand the Pyongyang game-plan.
The Trump administration needs to do something different.
This would consist mainly, though not entirely, of military measures. Restoring badly eroded U.S. military capabilities—naval, air, ground forces and an aged strategic arsenal– is essential.
Likewise more and better missile defense: the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems against ballistic missiles that the U.S. has offered South Korea and Japan is a good step, and so is moving forward in earnest on missile defense for the USA.
The United Nations has already gotten a comprehensive report on North Korea’s grisly human rights record from its Commission of Inquiry on the situation in the DPRK: let governments of conscience now seek international criminal accountability for North Korea’s leadership.
Then there is the China question. It is by no means impossible for America and her allies to pressure the DPRK if China does not cooperate. That said: it is time for Beijing to pay a penalty for its support for the most odious regime on the planet today.
Many in the West talk of “isolating” North Korea as if this were an objective in its own right. But a serious DPRK threat reduction strategy would not do so. The regime is deathly afraid of what it terms “ideological and cultural poisoning.”
This brings us to the last agenda item: preparing for a successful reunification in a post-DPRK peninsula.
The Kim regime is the North Korean nuclear threat. That threat will not end until the DPRK disappears.
As India’s most restive region stares down the abyss of what a commentator calls another “hot summer of violence”, the doom-laden headline has returned with a vengeance: Is India losing Kashmir?
Last summer was one of the bloodiest in the Muslim-dominated valley in recent years. Following the killing of influential militant Burhan Wani by Indian forces last July, more than 100 civilians lost their lives in clashes during a four-month-long security lockdown in the valley.
It’s not looking very promising this summer.
This month’s parliamentary election in Srinagar wasscarred by violenceand a record-low turnout of voters. To add fuel to the fire,graphic social videossurfaced claiming to show abuses by security forces and young people who oppose Indian rule. A full-blown protest by students has now erupted on the streets; and, in a rare sight, evenschoolgirls are pelting stonesand hitting police vehicles.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who leads an awkward ruling coalition with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rushed to Delhi on Monday to urge the federal government to “announce a dialogue and show reconciliatory gestures”.
The ‘studious’ 12-year-old victim of India’s Kashmir problem
Eight killed in Kashmir poll violence
The election where no-one came to vote
Reportssay Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh told her that they could not “offer a dialogue with separatists and other restive groups in the valley” while fierce violence and militant attacks continued.
Former chief minister and leader of the regional National Conference party Farooq Abdullah warned India that it was“losing Kashmir”. What Mr Abdullah suggested was unexceptionable: the government should begin talking with the stakeholders – Pakistan, the separatists, mainstream parties, theminority Kashmiri Hindus– and start “thinking of not a military solution, but a political way”.
With more than 500,000 security forces in the region, India is unlikely to lose territory in Kashmir. But Shekhar Gupta, a leading columnist, says that while Kashmir is “territorially secure, we are fast losing it emotionally and psychologically”. The abysmal 7% turnout in the Srinagar poll proved that “while your grip on the land is firm, you are losing its people”.
So what is new about Kashmir that is worrying India and even provoking senior army officials to admit that the situation is fragile?
For one, a more reckless and alienated younger generation of local youth is now leading the anti-India protests. More than 60% of the men in the valley are under 30. Many of them are angry and confused.
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT KASHMIR
India and Pakistan have disputed the territory for nearly 70 years – since independence from Britain
Both countries claim the whole territory but control only parts of it
Two out of three wars fought between India and Pakistan centred on Kashmir
Since 1989 there has been an armed revolt in the Muslim-majority region against rule by India
High unemployment and complaints of heavy-handed tactics by security forces battling street protesters and fighting insurgents have aggravated the problem
“It is wrong to say that the Kashmiri youth has become fearless. He just feels alienated, sidelined and humiliated. When he feels like that, fear takes a backseat, and he becomes reckless. This is irrational behaviour,” National Conference leader Junaid Azim Mattoo told me.
Secondly, the new younger militants are educated and come from relatively well-off families.
Wani, the slain militant who headed a prominent rebel group, hailed from a highly-educated upper-class Kashmiri family: his father is a government school teacher. Wani’s younger brother, Khalid, who was killed by security forces in 2013, was a student of political science. The new commander of the rebel group, Zakir Rashid Bhat, studied engineering in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.
Thirdly, the two-year-old ruling alliance, many say, has been unable to deliver on its promises. An alliance between a regional party which advocates soft separatism (PDP) and a federal Hindu nationalist party (BJP), they believe, makes for the strangest bedfellows, hobbled by two conflicting ideologies trying to work their way together in a contested, conflicted land.
Fourthly, the government’s message on Kashmir appears to be backfiring.
When Mr Modi recently said the youth in Kashmir had tochoose between terrorism and tourism,many Kashmiris accused him of trivialising their “protracted struggle”. When BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told a newspaper that his government“would have choked”the valley people if it was against them, many locals said it was proof of the government’s arrogance.
Fifth, the shrill anti-Muslim rhetoric by radical Hindu groups and incidents ofcow protection vigilantesattacking Muslim cattle traders in other parts of India could end up further polarising people in the valley. “The danger,” a prominent leader told me, “is that the moderate Kashmiri Muslim is becoming sidelined, and he is being politically radicalised.”
The security forces differ and say they are actually worried about rising “religious radicalisation” among the youth in the valley. A top army official in Kashmir, Lt-Gen JS Sadhu, told a newspaper that the “public support to terrorists, their glorification andincreased radicalisationare issues of concern”.
One army official told me that religious radicalisation was a “bigger challenge than stone pelting protesters”. He said some 3,000 Saudi-inspired Wahhabi sect mosques had sprung up in Kashmir in the past decade.
Most Kashmiris say the government should be more worried about “political radicalisation” of the young, and that fears of religious radicalisation were exaggerated and overblown.
Also, the low turnout in this month’s elections has rattled the region’s mainstream parties. “If mainstream politics is delegitimised and people refuse to vote for them, the vacuum will be obviously filled up with a disorganised mob-led constituency,” Mr Mattoo of the National Conference said.
In his memoirs, Amarjit Singh Daulat, the former chief of RAW, India’s spy agency wrote that “nothing is constant; least of all Kashmir”. But right now, the anomie and anger of the youth, and a worrying people’s revolt against Indian rule appear to be the only constant.
Famine is the biggest single crisis facing our planet right now. Across East Africa, 16 million people face starvation. Men, women and children are dying, every day. It’s bigger than any food shortage we’ve ever seen before. It’s so vast a problem that it’s almost hard to know how to tackle it.
South Sudan’s famine has conflict at its very heart. A bitter civil war that’s raged since 2013 sends deadly ripples across the country. I walked around a village, once a thriving community with homes, a school, a soul. But it had been attacked, the people were chased away, and their crops withered and died. That’s where the hunger comes from. If Continue reading “SOUTH SUDAN IS FIGHTING AGAINST FAMINE”→