Modi outlines strategy to fight Covid-19

Indians observe social distancing before a pharmacy   A national strategy to tackle the coronavirus pandemic has appeared, finally. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interaction with state chief ministers on Thursday becomes the first milestone in a challenging journey ahead.  PM outlined an exit strategy to get out of the “total lockdown”. It is a strategy … Continue reading “Modi outlines strategy to fight Covid-19”

Trump tiptoeing toward energy market management

Oil price war in the time of Covid-19 On Monday, the US President Donald Trump literally bit the bullet by telephoning Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the state of the energy markets, which are at a crisis point not seen in history. As of last weekend, global oil prices collapsed by over 50 percent … Continue reading “Trump tiptoeing toward energy market management”

Russia quizzes US on coronavirus’ parentage

All through the recent weeks since US President Donald Trump coined the epithet “China virus” to rename Coronavirus, Moscow kept a deafening silence.  Finally, on Sunday, March 29, Moscow broke that silence. That the first Russian statement came at the level of the Russian foreign ministry makes this particularly significant.  In an exclusive remark, a … Continue reading “Russia quizzes US on coronavirus’ parentage”

A Russian firewall for Venezuela against US sanctions

The optics of the Russian oil leviathan Rosneft’s decision to sell its subsidiary Rosneft Trading SA and sell all its assets in Venezuela after the US Treasury sanctioned its trading arm two weeks ago as part of Washington’s regime change project to oust president Nicolás Maduro, may not look good to the uninformed outside observer.  It may … Continue reading “A Russian firewall for Venezuela against US sanctions”

Taliban gets Khalilzad leg before wicket but won’t appeal

Prisoners in overcrowded Afghan jails. (File photo) The US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad apparently overreached by effusively welcoming the 21-member list announced in Kabul on Thursday by President Ashraf Ghani to engage with the Taliban in the format of the forthcoming intra-Afghan dialogue.  Khalilzad tweeted on Thursday: “I want to congratulate Afghan … Continue reading “Taliban gets Khalilzad leg before wicket but won’t appeal”

Coronavirus hastens an Arab rapprochement

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L), UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (R) held a phone conversation, March 27, 2020 The phone call by the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday signifies in many ways a major development in regional politics.  The official UAE news … Continue reading “Coronavirus hastens an Arab rapprochement”

Israeli politics wins — thanks to coronavirus

Bittier political rivals Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Benny Grantz (R) joins hands in forming national unity government. (File photo) Imagine, in the 2019 poll, the BJP-led alliance led by Narendra Modi just fell short of securing an absolute majority and despite all the super genius of the party to do horse trading, a majority still … Continue reading “Israeli politics wins — thanks to coronavirus”

Covid-19: Modi, Putin to coordinate efforts

Russian President Vladimir Putin donning a bright yellow full-body hazmat suit and respirator as he visited a hospital on Moscow outskirts that is treating coronavirus patients, March 24, 2020 Soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address to the nation on Wednesday on the government’s coronavirus response and measures to be adopted to deal with the … Continue reading “Covid-19: Modi, Putin to coordinate efforts”

A lockdown for ventilators and hospital beds

A man braving the coronavirus against the silhouette of Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Delhi, which was put under lockdown on March 25, 2020   Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was addressing the nation yesterday announcing “total lockdown” in the country, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro also took to a televised address to dismiss such health measures against … Continue reading “A lockdown for ventilators and hospital beds”

Afghan endgame enters the home stretch

Afghans celebrating the US-Taliban agreement of 29th February 2020, Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan In an extraordinary statement titled On the Political Impasse in Afghanistan, Washington has admitted the failure of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s mission to Kabul on Monday to heal the political rift among Afghan politicians and to urge them to form an … Continue reading “Afghan endgame enters the home stretch”

Turkey, Iran and Malaysia spoke up on J&K. Here’s why.

Panorama of an endless Oil Palm plantation in Malaysia (File photo) The report in the Economic Times that India has signed a contract with a Turkish firm to build fleet support vessels for the Indian Navy at the Vizag-based Hindustan Shipyard Limited gives much food for thought.  Prima facie, the report is a motivated one. … Continue reading “Turkey, Iran and Malaysia spoke up on J&K. Here’s why.”

Compassion in the Time of Coronavirus

A public notice circa 1832, as ‘Asiatic Cholera’, the first truly global pandemic, gripped New York A thought was bugging me in recent days that Delhi increasingly reminded me of a distant place I knew but couldn’t place. Then it suddenly dawned yesterday when the maid who came to clean the apartment began narrating excitedly … Continue reading “Compassion in the Time of Coronavirus”

India braces for coronavirus spike

A laboratory technician prepares Covid-19 patient samples for testing at Northwell Health Labs in New York, USA. (AP) Watching the interview of Dr. R. Laxminarayan, director of the Washington-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy and lecturer at Princeton University, with Karan Thapar on the coronavirus epidemic has been a most edifying experience. A … Continue reading “India braces for coronavirus spike”

Trump samples democratic socialism. Hmm, it’s good.

US President Donald Trump at the White House announced that he signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Washington, March 18, 2020  The responses of the Trump administration and the US Congress to meet the socio-economic challenges posed by the onslaught of the coronavirus constitute a marker in American politics — how in … Continue reading “Trump samples democratic socialism. Hmm, it’s good.”

SAARC can learn from China to fight Covid-19

WHO image of the new coronavirus (Source: Department of Microbiology, University of Hong Kong SAR, China)  What prompts me to write this blog is the stunning, horrifying report in the Daily Telegraph, that I read in the inhuman beauty of today’s spring morning. The report forewarns that the currently fashionable “social distancing” methods to ward … Continue reading “SAARC can learn from China to fight Covid-19”

Oil price war is more about market share

Red Cross medics waiting to check the temperature of participants at the OPEC+ meeting in Vienna, March 6, 2020 for coronavirus. None was found infected, but the meeting ended in disharmony.    The common refrain is that Saudi Arabia has launched an oil price war against Russia by boosting production and selling at discounted price, … Continue reading “Oil price war is more about market share”

India revisits SAARC to fight COVID-19. Scepticism is in order.

Coronavirus pandemic is on the rise in India The teleconference today at 5 pm IST between the leaderships of the SAARC countries is a rare event in regional cooperation.  After an interlude of nearly six years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is once again networking with India’s neighbours in a SAARC setting. He had sprung a … Continue reading “India revisits SAARC to fight COVID-19. Scepticism is in order.”

Putin keeps us guessing on his future plans

What happened in the Russian parliament on March 10 wore the look of a pantomime but took everyone by surprise. President Vladimir Putin made a surprise visit to the Russian Duma and in his very presence, a constitutional amendment was mooted which was passed on the same day which limits the presidential terms to two … Continue reading “Putin keeps us guessing on his future plans”

Russia cannot do without Turkey’s cooperation in Syria

People fleeing the conflict zone in Idlib, northwest Syria. File photo. The former Soviet Union was a satiated world power. It didn’t have to prove anything. The Great Patriotic War (1941-45) spoke for itself. Thus, triumphalism was never a diplomatic tool in the Soviet inventory.  The removal of the US nuclear missiles from Turkey in … Continue reading “Russia cannot do without Turkey’s cooperation in Syria”

Intra-Afghan dialogue gets kickstarted

Two presidents, one country. Abdullah Abdullah (L) and Ashraf Ghani (R) were sworn in as Afghan presidents in public ceremonies in adjacent palaces, Kabul, March 9, 2020  Three significant things about Ashraf Ghani’s swearing-in ceremony in Kabul on Monday augur well for the implementation of the US-Taliban pact signed in Doha on February 29.  One, … Continue reading “Intra-Afghan dialogue gets kickstarted”

A “win-win” over Afghanistan and Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) met with Turkish President Recep Erdogan, Moscow, March 5, 2020 Two peace agreements within a week are a bit too much. Hot on the heels of the US-Taliban peace agreement signed in Doha on February 9, Russia and Turkey have signed a peace agreement over the Syrian conflict in Moscow … Continue reading “A “win-win” over Afghanistan and Syria”

Trump puts Taliban deal back on track

US special representative for Afghan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (L) met Abdullah Abdullah (R) and other leaders of erstwhile Northern Alliance, Kabul, February 3, 2020 A mini mutiny in Kabul against the US-Taliban deal has been nipped in the bud and it should sound warning bells in Washington that the real threat to peacemaking in Afghanistan … Continue reading “Trump puts Taliban deal back on track”

UN offers seamless partnership to India’s judiciary

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (September 1, 2018 –). File photo   The UN Human Rights Council’s move to approach the Supreme Court on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is already triggering a response in our country that can only be called manifestation of ‘Pavlovian conditioning’ — a classical conditioning, which … Continue reading “UN offers seamless partnership to India’s judiciary”

Regional states won’t oppose US-Taliban deal

Youth release balloons and pigeons to celebrate the reduction in violence, Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Feb. 28, 2020 The reactions of the major regional states surrounding Afghanistan over the US-Taliban peace agreement in Doha Saturday reveal fault lines that are useful pointers in the Afghan peace process.  A sardonic remark by the Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar … Continue reading “Regional states won’t oppose US-Taliban deal”

Afghan peace comes with caveats but can’t be snuffed out

US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (L) and co-founder of Taliban movement Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (R) signed the Afghan peace agreement., Doha, February 29, 2020  The chasm between illusion and reality in politics remains perennial. Wars seldom ended according to the script of peace agreements. The fall of Saigon in April 1975 … Continue reading “Afghan peace comes with caveats but can’t be snuffed out”

Turkey, Russia tiptoe toward ‘unnecessary war’

The Russian destruction of Turkish fleet at the Battle of Sinop on 30th November 1853 sparked the Crimean War. (Painting by Ivan Aivazovsky, Russian Romantic painter who is considered one of the greatest masters of marine art.) A military confrontation between Turkey and Syria has erupted in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib. Latest reports say … Continue reading “Turkey, Russia tiptoe toward ‘unnecessary war’”

Deconstructing the election to Iran’s Majlis

Iran’s parliamentary election on Friday took place in extraordinary circumstances. The pandemic fear over coronavirus significantly impacted the voter turnout, which is estimated to be around 42% (as compared to 62% in the 2016 election to the Majlis). A dozen people have died so far in Iran and a few dozen diagnosed with the virus … Continue reading “Deconstructing the election to Iran’s Majlis”

Socialism rises like a phoenix to haunt America

The race for Democratic Nomination in the upcoming US presidential election in November has electrified with the huge victory by Bernie Sanders in the Nevada primary on Saturday. The race has crossed a critical milestone. The primaries so far gave us a sampling of the trend in two regions of America — the American heartland … Continue reading “Socialism rises like a phoenix to haunt America”

Pakistan’s triumphalist moment in regional security

The acrimony over the disputed results of the Afghan presidential election notwithstanding, there has been a consensus within Afghanistan for the “reduction in violence” plan negotiated by the US and the Taliban, which commenced at midnight Friday.  Hope has replaced despondency. President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai (who is … Continue reading “Pakistan’s triumphalist moment in regional security”

US rams down Taliban pact. Will Afghans throw up?

US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (L) called on former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Kabul, Feb, 20, 2020 The manner in which the Trump administration is ramming down the Afghan throat a peace settlement is disconcerting. Delhi’s silence is more so. One shudders to think that comprador elements in the Indian establishment could be silently collaborating … Continue reading “US rams down Taliban pact. Will Afghans throw up?”

A world no longer shaped by Atlantic powers

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier delivering the opening address at the Munich Security Conference, Munich, Germany, February 14, 2020 The annual Munich Security Conference last week (February 14-16) turned out to be an iconic event, drawing comparison with the one held in the same Bavarian city on February 10, 2007 where in a prophetic speech Russian … Continue reading “A world no longer shaped by Atlantic powers”

Russia warns Turkey against rash moves in Idlib

Turkish military reinforcements preparing to cross the border into Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, February 12, 2020 Moscow has taken with a pinch of salt Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s statement on Wednesday that a Turkish incursion into the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib is imminent.  Objectively speaking, Erdogan should be out of his mind to order … Continue reading “Russia warns Turkey against rash moves in Idlib”

Trump’s exciting event in Ahmedabad

An aerial view of yet-to-be-completed Motera cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where the Namaste Trump event to honour US president takes place on Feb 24, 2020 One great thing about US President Donald Trump is that he can be brutally frank. Trump recently picked up the phone and called British PM Boris Johnson to convey his displeasure … Continue reading “Trump’s exciting event in Ahmedabad”

India should be wary of US ‘pro-activism’ on Lanka’s Tamil problem

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena (C) summoned US envoy AlainaTeplitz to convey “strong objections” on the travel restrictions on Army Commander & Actg. Chief of Defence Staff, Colombo, Feb. 16, 2020. What cannot be lost sight of is that the “public designation” of the Sri Lankan army chief and Acting Chief of Defense Staff … Continue reading “India should be wary of US ‘pro-activism’ on Lanka’s Tamil problem”

Tweaking ‘Namaste Trump’ is still possible

India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar accosting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Munich, Bavaria, February 15, 2020  Among the notable interactions External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has had on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (February 14-16), the momentary encounter  with the US House Speaker Nancy … Continue reading “Tweaking ‘Namaste Trump’ is still possible”

Cutting the US-Iran Gordian knot at Munich

India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar addressing the annual Munich Security Conference on ‘constructive vocal nationalism’, Munich, Germany, February 15, 2020 The External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar chose the annual Munich Security Conference (February 14-16) as the forum to espouse a world order characterised by nationalism that is legally legitimate, constructive and vocal. It was … Continue reading “Cutting the US-Iran Gordian knot at Munich”

Syria: M5 highway secured, time for truce

Syrian forces took control of  M5 highway connecting economic hub of Aleppo to Damascus and other key population centres to Jordanian border, February 12, 2020. The de-escalation talks between Moscow and Ankara over the Russian-backed offensive by the Syrian government forces in the northwestern province of Idlib didn’t help defuse tensions.   On the contrary, … Continue reading “Syria: M5 highway secured, time for truce”

Kejriwal bestows a road map on India’s opposition

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal offering prayers at a Hanuman temple on the eve of Delhi elections, Feb 7, 2020. He said, “What kind of politics is this? God belongs to everyone. May god bless everyone, even those in the BJP.”  The meaning of the Delhi state election results will take time to sink in, … Continue reading “Kejriwal bestows a road map on India’s opposition”

Kejriwal bestows a road map for India’s opposition

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal offering prayers at a Hanuman temple on the eve of Delhi elections, Feb 7, 2020. He said, “What kind of politics is this? God belongs to everyone. May god bless everyone, even those in the BJP.”  The meaning of the Delhi state election results will take time to sink in, … Continue reading “Kejriwal bestows a road map for India’s opposition”

US rolls out new Central Asia strategy

Every five to six years, roughly, the United States comes out with a ‘new’ Central Asia strategy. The Indian automobile industry might call it “facelift” — cosmetic changes to create an air of novelty, such as  a new radiator grill, a tweak in the rear bumper, exciting colour options and so on.  The document titled … Continue reading “US rolls out new Central Asia strategy”

Russia rejects Turkish narrative on Syria

A Turkish military convoy entering the town of Sarmada in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.  The Russian reaction to Turkey’s latest military moves in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib has appeared in the form of a lengthy interview with the government daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on February 4, which has since … Continue reading “Russia rejects Turkish narrative on Syria”

US uneasy as Iraq gets new prime minister

Iraq’s Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi (L) receives appointment decree from President Barham Salih (R), Baghdad, February 1, 2020  In happier times, Washington and Tehran might well have zeroed in on Mohammed Tawfik Allawi as their consensus candidate for the post of Iraq’s prime minister.  Why not? He was opposed to Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship — … Continue reading “US uneasy as Iraq gets new prime minister”

Putin ushers Russia into transition period

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered his annual address to Federal Assembly, Moscow, January 15, 2020  It is a common fallacy that authoritarian rulers can afford to be impervious to public opinion. On the contrary, leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin or Turkey’s Recep Erdogan who are democratically elected ‘strongmen’ and enjoy high popularity in their respective … Continue reading “Putin ushers Russia into transition period”

Why Turkey won’t hitch Syrian wagon with US

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on rare visit to frontline in northwestern Idlib province, October 2019. (File photo) The remark by President Recep Erdogan on Friday that Turkey might militarily intervene in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province fuelled speculation that tensions between Ankara and Moscow have reached a point of no return.  However, this is nothing but … Continue reading “Why Turkey won’t hitch Syrian wagon with US”

Moscow pips Pompeo at the Syrian post

A street in Maarat al-Numan town in Idlib captured by Syrian forces after heavy fighting with al-Qaeda affiliates The capture of the town of Maarat al-Numan in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib bordering Turkey on Wednesday by the government forces must be counted as the first ‘new facts on the ground’ since the murder of … Continue reading “Moscow pips Pompeo at the Syrian post”

Russia stood by Iran in showdown with US

Russian President Vladimir Putin watches Black Sea navy exercise from Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser, Jan. 9, 2020. The US President Donald Trump first said there were ‘no casualties’ in the Iranian missile attack on the Ain al-Asad military airbase in Iraq on January 8. “We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and … Continue reading “Russia stood by Iran in showdown with US”

Pakistan’s exit from FATF list puts India on the spot

US Acting Asst Secy of State Alice Wells  met Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ijaz Shah, Islamabad, Jan. 20, 2020 The media reports that in the Indian estimation there is “a 75 per cent chance” of Pakistan exiting the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at the plenary of the international body on February 16 … Continue reading “Pakistan’s exit from FATF list puts India on the spot”

US plotting return of ‘strongman’ in Iraq

The departure of the former Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani is beginning to be felt in Iraq. The two meetings that the US President Donald Trump had with the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani and the president of Iraq Barhem Saleh in Switzerland on Wednesday on the sidelines of the World Economic … Continue reading “US plotting return of ‘strongman’ in Iraq”

India’s neighbourhood first policy crumbles

Massive anti-CAA rally at Kochi, Kerala, on New Year Day Two of South Asia’s most prominent national figures have made critical remarks regarding India’s Citizenship Amendment Act CAA) and related issues. The criticism is striking not only because it is unprecedented but both Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai have … Continue reading “India’s neighbourhood first policy crumbles”

China, Myanmar to build shared future. What’s there for India?

Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Nay Pyi Taw, Jan. 18, 2020. The state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Myanmar on January 17-18, the first of its kind in nineteen years, has been a transformative event in regional politics from the perspective of China-Myanmar … Continue reading “China, Myanmar to build shared future. What’s there for India?”