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By Minhaz Merchant
Geopolitical power is a combination of hard and soft power — and the ability of a nation to project that power. India has traditionally punched below its weight. Britain and France in contrast continue to punch above their weight.
What are the factors that determine geopolitical power?
In my trademarked annual Geopolitical Power Index (GPI), I rank 10 selected countries on 11 parameters. These include quantitative parameters such as the economy and military as well as qualitative ones like religion and culture.
The GPI shows how well — or poorly — countries project hard and soft power. In the latest GPI, the US retains its top spot. China stays at No. 2, while the UK edges out India for third place. France is at No. 5, followed by Germany, Russia, Japan, Brazil and South Africa.
The 11 parameters that determine the GPI rankings are: Economy, Development, Military, Governance, Innovation, Geography, Population, Culture, Religion, History, and Diaspora.
Each parameter has five sub-parameters. For example, to assess the economy of each country, the sub-parameters analysed are: per capita income based on purchasing power parity, GDP (again on purchasing power parity), business competitiveness, forex reserves, and fiscal deficit.
For the development parameter, the five sub-parameters are: human development index, poverty levels, literacy rate, civic infrastructure, and education (primary and secondary).
Each sub-parameter is assigned a weight. For example, to arrive at the ranking for the economy, the weights are as follows: per capita income 25 per cent; GDP 25 per cent; business competitiveness 15 per cent; forex reserves 15 per cent; and fiscal deficit 20 per cent. The country rankings are arrived at mathematically using a proprietorial methodology (see table).
For example, the Chinese economy has a rating of 9 with a negative (-) bias, indicating slowing GDP growth. India has a rating of 7 on the economy but with a positive (+) trendline.
The geopolitical environment is currently turbulent. Uncertainly looms over the US presidential election. Multiple wars in the Middle-East have changed geopolitical equations. Russia, despite Western sanctions and low oil and gas prices, is an increasingly dominant force in the Middle-East even as it ends its military campaign in Syria and peace talks gather momentum.
Britain, divided over an impending referendum in June about exiting the European Union, is at an historical inflection point. It has western Europe’s fastest growing economy, but public spending is getting squeezed, leading to deteriorating infrastructure and stagnating wages among the middle-class.
India is already the world’s third-largest economy ($7.5 trillion by purchasing power parity). It scores well on soft power (culture, religion, diaspora), but does poorly on hard power (military, development, governance). Civic, bureaucratic and institutional governance remains hobbled by corruption and sloth.
Brazil and South Africa have done especially badly in the past year. Brazil’s economy is in a shambles, while South Africa is struggling with a slew of corruption cases and poor governance.
Japan has began to move up the GPI rankings. Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, its economy has stabilised though growth remains anaemic. On the fifth anniversary of the devastating accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant, the surrounding area remains toxic. Local people are allowed by the authorities to enter the region for just five hours a day. But the return to a semblance of normalcy underscores the strength and resilience of Japanese society.
The US tops the GPI rankings despite political turbulence because of its economic and military power as well as its global leadership in innovation. The world’s most recognised brands are still American — from the century-old Coca Cola and Ford to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon.
At a recent event, chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian said India cannot aspire to annual GDP growth of 8-10 per cent unless exports increase and services are given equal importance as manufacturing.
Subramanium, who like the Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley manages to introduce a negative train of thought even while seemingly praising India’s economic policies, in the process sounding like mentor P. Chidambaram, is being disingenuous.
Services already contribute 60 per cent to India’s GDP. Obviously services growth is imperative. But manufacturing, which contributes only 17 per cent to GDP, needs greater nurturing. Without that India will remain the world’s call centre, back office and IT body shop. China has become an economic superpower on the back of manufacturing. As its economy cools, it is now turning to services. India must likewise now turn to manufacturing without losing sight of growth in services.
The future clearly lies in geo-economics. India is well placed here. It has excellent economic and military ties with the US, Russia, Britain and France. It is extending its maritime footprint to the South China Sea in partnership with China’s bête noire Vietnam.
Religion, culture and spiritualism add to India’s soft power. Yoga now has an international brand identity and Indian actors like Priyanka Chopra have given India’s image a global makeover. The Indian diaspora is meanwhile beginning to have a real impact on American and British politics. As British Prime Minister David Cameron said during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s UK visit last year, an Indian-origin British prime minister in the next decade is a real possibility.
In the United States too, Indian-origin politicians, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and professionals have transformed India’s national brand equity. Indians are America’s highest earning ethnic group with rising political and business influence.
If New Delhi plays its cards well, the combination of hard and soft power will finally allow India to punch at its true geopolitical weight. If it does that and learns to project its influence with greater self-confidence, India could well emerge as a pivotal power between the declining West and the emerging East.
London (CNN)- At five o'clock in the morning, the esteemed 86-year-old astrophysicist Jim Peebles was woken suddenly by the telephone ringing."In previous experience, the only phone calls at that time of night are bad news," he said. This one was great news. "The opening sentence from the caller was: 'The Nobel committee has voted to award you the Nobel Prize in Physics. Do you accept?'" Peebles recalled. The wording threw him. Who wouldn't accept a Nobel Prize? "You know the Bob Dylan fiasco?" he said during a phone interview with CNN. "That might have put the wind up them."The "fiasco" Peebles mentions refers to the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, which was controversially given to an utterly unimpressed Dylan.Aside from being ever-presents on college campuses in the 1960s, little connects Peebles, an expert in theoretical cosmology, with Dylan. But one of the starkest contrasts might lie in their reactions to winning a Nobel -- and the songwriter is far from the only laureate whose crowning turned out to be an awkward affair.
The five committees are notoriously secretive, fiercely shielding their choices from the outside world -- including the laureates themselves, who are told of their victories just minutes before they are announced to the public.
Jim Peebles speaking at the Nobel Prize banquet in 2019 Image credit: CNN
That tight-lipped mantra can lead to some heartening surprises, as it did for Benjamin List -- the co-winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry -- who was having coffee with his wife when he received the news.
"Sweden appears on my phone, and I look at her, she looks at me and I run out of the coffee shop to the street ... you know, that was amazing. It was very special. I will never forget," he told reporters on Wednesday after his victory was announced.It can also be far less celebratory. "I was lying in bed, and my wife woke up and heard my phone buzzing. And she yelled at me because my phone was waking her up," David MacMillan, who shared the prize with List, told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday."100% [I] missed the call. Classic Scottish person. I [didn't] believe this is happening, so I went back to bed," he added -- likely the most relatable sentence ever uttered by an expert in chiral imidazolidinone catalysts.
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And for some, the sudden ascension to Nobel laureate is an unwanted intrusion altogether. "Oh Christ," British-Zimbabwean author Doris Lessing said when reporters arrived outside her house to inform her she had won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. "I'm sure you'd like some uplifting remarks of some kind. "It's a wonderful thing," Reinhard Genzel, an astrophysicist who won last year's Nobel Prize in Physics, told CNN of his win and the months since. "But it's a chore as well."
What it's like to win a Nobel PrizeFew Nobel winners can honestly say their lives weren't changed when they received the phone call.As long as they believe it, that is. "These days you get these cold calls, and I thought this is another one of them," Abdulrazak Gurnah, the winner of this year's literature prize, told the BBC on Thursday."This guy said, 'Hello, you have won the Nobel Prize for Literature,' And I said, 'come on, get out of here. Leave me alone,'" Gurnah said. "He talked me out of that, and gradually persuaded me."Winners often can't be contacted at all, leaving them to find out about their wins from the news, their family, or even their next-door neighbors.
Nobel Peace Prize winners Ressa and Muratov Image source: CNNEconomist Paul Milgrom was woken in the middle of the night in California by his colleague Robert Wilson banging on his front door. "Paul, it's Bob Wilson. You've won the Nobel Prize," he shouted into the intercom. "Yeah, I have? Wow," an utterly confused Milgrom responded, in an exchange captured by a doorbell camera.
Genzel's phone call came while he was in a Zoom meeting with colleagues last October. "I had absolutely no inkling," he said. "I thought, my God ... obviously this is a fantasy."
The committee's secretary told him he "couldn't say anything for 15 or 20 minutes," so Genzel tried his best to keep the news to himself. "I walked over to our meeting room ... (my colleagues) told me afterwards I was stumbling in there, slightly gazed, telling them to switch on the TV," he said.Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel winner at 17, was midway through a chemistry lesson at a school in Birmingham, England, when a teacher interrupted to tell her she had won, she told Reuters.She later told Vogue that she modestly left the achievement off her university applications, because she "felt a bit embarrassed." But there are occasions, too, where the winner isn't quite as thrilled as the Nobel committee might imagine.
Dylan and Ernest Hemingway both skipped the Nobels' annual banquet; the latter made a point of telling the Swedish Academy that he had "no facility for speech making and no command of oratory." But arguably it was Lessing who had the most memorable reaction. She learned of her win as she stepped out of a taxi on the way back from the grocery store. "Have you heard the news? You've won the Nobel Prize for Literature!" an enthusiastic reporter told her. Her eyes rolled back in her head before the journalist had even finished his sentence. Lessing -- accompanied by a male acquaintance who stood next to her, bemused, his arm in a sling and a single artichoke in his hand -- was clearly more interested in collecting her shopping than talking to the world's media.
Also read: Abdulrazak Gurnah- The New Nobel Laureate
Asked how she felt, she expressed little enthusiasm: "Look, I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one."
"Am I supposed to get excited, or elated, or what?" she remarked. "One can't get more excited than one gets, you know?"
'I was treated like a rock star'
As soon as Genzel's win was announced last year, his face was on televisions around the world. The announcement of a Nobel Prize winner makes the front pages of newspapers and websites almost everywhere, throwing a sudden spotlight on little-known scientists and their complex research. "Once the announcement is made, you lose your identity within half an hour," Genzel said. "The telephone rings all the time. "Peebles had a similar experience just minutes after his early morning phone call. "When I returned to bed my wife said, 'What was that about?' I said 'Nobel Prize,' and she said: Oh God." Within minutes, the couple had a photographer outside their door. Genzel suddenly found himself answering questions about politics on late-night German TV, angering some of his friends with his responses. Peebles, meanwhile, spent much of the day looking through emails from every corner of the world: "Please come visit us, please read my manuscript..."
Reinhard Genzel posing with his medal Image source: CNN
"It's one thing to say that the Nobel Prizes attract attention. It's another to experience it," he said. Sometimes, personal relationships change. "There is of course a lot of envy, from some colleagues -- many people who are close to me in the same field might very well say, 'Why did he get it?'" said Genzel. But before the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered plans for two years in a row, winners were also treated to a gala in Stockholm. "I was treated like a rock star ... I experienced what I expect rock stars to experience," Peebles said of his banquet in 2019. "It's a wonderful honor." "My attache had an almost endless list of things to do," he added. "'Now you must meet these influential people. Now you must go to a news conference. Now we will have dinner with some important people. And on and on.' "Genzel missed out on the festivities last year, but he enjoyed a low-key affair in Germany. "The governor of Bavaria offered us his residence, (and) we had a fairly nice event with the Swedish ambassador," he said. Two years on, CNN asked Peebles whether his email inbox has finally receded to pre-Nobel volumes. "I'd have to look at the data on that," he responded, ever the empiricist. But for both men and many other laureates, the most exciting part of the Nobel experience is simply that it gets people talking about science and culture.
"I find it almost a necessity to tell the public at large that there is truth, there is absolute truth," Genzel said. "What I hope is understood is the importance of the Nobel Prize in making people aware of the importance of curiosity-driven science or arts," he said. "I think it must be unique."
(This article is originally written by Bob Picheta)
Keywords: Nobel Prize, Reactions, Laureates
Married Hindu women are recognised by a red streak of vermillion in the middle of their foreheads. This is traditionally called 'sindoor', which is derived from the Sanskrit word sindura, meaning 'red lead.'. Sindoor is traditionally powdered turmeric and lime, sometimes red saffron, or red sandalwood. It is also called vermilion, or Kumkum.
Sindoor is traditionally powdered turmeric and lime, sometimes red saffron, or red sandalwood. It is also called vermilion, or Kumkum. Image source: Photo by Gayathri Malhotra on Unsplash
The origin of the practise of wearing sindoor is ambiguous, but historical records from the Harappan civilisation show that women wore sindoor as a sign of being married. Today's generation considers the wearing of sindoor an outdated and patriarchal ritual. However, there is still a large population of women who uphold the ritual of adorning their foreheads with vermilion every day.
Sindoor implies the longevity of a woman's marriage to her husband in the Hindu tradition. The longer the streak, the longer her husband's life is believed to be. Women wear it for the first time on their wedding day, when the husband applies it during the ceremony. As long as he remains alive, the red streak that fills the woman's maang, or hair partition, symbolises her fruitful married life.
When the finger used to apply the sindoor touches the pituitary gland every time, it arouses affection in a woman for her husband. Image credit: Photo by Amish Thakkar on Unsplash
The components of the red powder are believed to improve the sexual energy of the woman. When the finger used to apply the sindoor touches the pituitary gland every time, it arouses affection in a woman for her husband. The mixture that she wears on her head controls her blood pressure and activates her sexual drive.
These days, feminists do not take very lightly to the practice of wearing sindoor, as they view it as a sign of patriarchal dominance. They do not like being branded as 'belonging to a man'. They prefer to wear it as a style statement because it enhances beauty. Fashion designers have recently commissioned models to sport sindoor on the runway. New age feminists are making bids to allow widows and single women to adorn their foreheads with the vermilion streak.
Keywords: Sindoor, Marriage, Symbol, Women, Patriarchy
Actress Urvashi Rautela has recently announced the name of her next film which is titled 'Dil Hai Gray'. It's a Hindi remake of Tamil film 'Thiruttu Payale 2'. Urvashi Rautela will be seen alongside Vineet Kumar Singh and Akshay Oberoi.
Urvashi shares: "I am excited to announce the title of my next film 'Dil Hai Gray' on the auspicious day of Vijaya Dashami. The film is very close to my heart and it was lovely working with director Susi Ganeshan sir, producer M Ramesh Reddy sir, and my co-stars Vineet Kumar Singh and Akshay Oberoi. "
"The film has created a massive response in the south industry and I am very positive about the story that it will be also be loved by the audience here. I hope my fans would bless us with their love and support. Super excited to watch my film on the big screen after a long time," she concludes. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: urvashi rautela, movies, bollywood, south, remake, film