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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.
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.
OṀ KALMASHARAHITABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) -KAL-MA-SHA-RA-HI-TA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ कल्मषरहितभूम्यै नमः
(Kalmasham: Tainted, blemish, dirty, sinful, wicked, foul, dosha, opprobrium, stigma; Rahita: Absent, devoid of)
Kalmasham is the opposite of purity; it means impure, contaminated and defective. The word is used in several senses such as: defective, fault, sin, dosham, tainted, vice, crime, disrespect, abuse, evil and contamination. However, it is also used in a technical sense in certain fields of knowledge. In Vedic literature we see words like pavitram, and pavitrata in the opposite sense of kalmasham. We, as Hindus, see everything as pure and equitable with God in an implied meaning that every atom at the microscopic level is part of the Supreme Power (Bhagavān). Having this knowledge and understanding, Hindus see the presence of God in living as well as non-living objects and have a pavitra meaning- kalmasharahita bandham.
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In Vedas and Purāṇās, Lord Shri Ramachandra Murty is portrayed without any defects and His marriage with Sīta was described as kalmasharahitam. He was glorified as the one who strictly observed the 'ekapatnī vratam' meaning-'one wife as a life partner'. Even when Sīta was abducted by the demon- Rāvaṇa and he kept her in his palace for a year, Rama did not look at another woman. The same credit goes to His consort and wife Sīta, who came out of Agni (pyre of fire) as a shining diamond proving her chastity and kalmasharahitam to the world. Our sacred literature is full of these incidents. Our dharmaśhāstrās explain that what is kalmasham is that which brings defection to one's purity. They advise purity in our thought, speech and actions.
God Ram and Goddess SitaGetty Pictures
There are many relationships we have as an individual. Some are pure and kalmasharahitam, as opposed to other relationships, like extramarital affairs. The relationship between husband and wife; brother and sister; father and daughter; parents and children; between siblings; teacher and student; among friends; and last but not least, between a devotee and his desired, beloved and personal god are considered kalmasharahitam.
ALSO READ: Celebrate Holi In The Land Of Krishna
As a country, we have never waged war against another country with the intention of occupancy and robbing their wealth, or to convert them to our religion. We do not have that kalmasham on our hands or in our hearts.
Our land is 'Kalmasharahita Bhūmi'.
Xander Schauffele held off the late challenges from the chasing pack, none more so than Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia — who got without a single stroke of the American — to win a gold medal in the men's individual golf tournament at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It was a huge victory for the 27-year-old at this point of his career. Despite often being amongst the favorites in the latest golf odds, the San Diego-native is yet to win one of golf's four majors — The Open, The Masters, The USPGA and The US Open — and he will certainly be hoping that he can use this triumph in Tokyo to push on next season.
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With nine top-10 finishes in 18 appearances at the majors, six of which have been inside the top five (including finishing second at the 2018 Open and 2019 Masters), Schauffele is making a bit of name for himself as a nearly man in the sport's biggest tournaments, and that it is a duck he will certainly be hoping to break sooner rather than later.
Whilst not a major, winning an Olympic gold medal in golf is not to be sniffed at, and it is the kind of victory that the 27-year-old might just have needed to give him that boost to kick on and finally get his hands on one of the major trophies — even though he will need to wait until next year as the recent Open at Royal St. George's in Kent marked the end of this year's major schedule.
Some golfer's may have played down winning the men's tournament at the Olympics, but for Schauffele, whose grandparents live in Tokyo, taking the gold medal back to the United States with him was at the very top of his priority list.
Olympic GameGetty Pictures
"I really wanted to win for my dad. I am sure he is crying somewhere right now. I kind of wanted this one more than any other," Schauffele said after his one-stroke victory.
"You are trying to represent your country to the best of your ability and then you add family stuff on top of that. I'm probably going to have a nice call with my grandparents tonight.
"Everyone is back home watching. I was feeling the love from San Diego and Las Vegas this whole time. I'm a little speechless right now, quite honestly."
Form and momentum are key in the game of golf, and whilst this is a victory that has come somewhat late in the season, when there are no majors left to vie for, if Schauffele can just carry on playing at the top of his game for the remaining month or so, perhaps even landing a second TOUR Championship in the last tournament of 2021, which he will now likely be tipped to win on the best golf predictions sites, then there is no reason why he can't bring his current form with him into next season.
The Masters is up first, taking place in mid-April, and the prestigious Augusta National hasn't been too bad to the American over the last couple of years, as he finished second in 2019 before scuppering the same position late on to finish tied for third this year. If he can keep up the form that resulted in him winning gold at the Olympics, then he may just find himself being fitting into that sought-after Green Jacket.
It's fair to say that it's only a matter of time before Schauffele lands his maiden major triumph, and there's no doubt that scooping a gold medal at the Olympics will have only helped his cause!
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