Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Intelligence is all about deciphering what lies ahead — analysis of what happened in the past and a capacity to determine what entails for the future in the goings-on of the present, certainly help but Einstein’s famous dictum ‘imagination is more important than knowledge’ also speaks of the relevance of the versatility of the human mind that could see beyond what the ‘facts’ presented to the analyst meant and thus enrich the assessment. All of this seems to have guided the US National Intelligence Council’s 20-year forecast of where the world would be, published recently.
It is a sobering thought that today strategic assessments have ceased to have a long life since the world could change faster than the calculated shifts and therefore the best that such an exercise could do is to project the trends and legitimately conclude where these, if unchecked, would end. Global readings are basically premised on the doings of human beings as a whole and the NIC has rightly identified five crucial areas in play where manmade changes would contribute to the shape of things to come — international relations, global economy, technology, environment, and domestic management of governance. Long-range trends can be established and their cumulative effect read through a competitive analysis in which legitimacy of ‘imagination’ as mentioned above would also play a part. But what about a crisis not directly created by man, like Covid? An infliction by nature that affected the entire humanity would set the clock back for the analysts in the sense that they would have to recalibrate their entire readings afresh.
Follow NewsGram on LinkedIn to know what’s happening around the world.
‘A more contested world’ is the total summation that the NIC report makes and regardless of the details that might have gone into this assessment, there is no denying the fact that this is a brilliant prediction of the direction in which international relations are headed. In a very broad picturization, it is prudent to consider the end of the Cold War as a reference point for examining what is shaping up the new global order ever since. The success of the anti-Soviet armed campaign in Afghanistan leading to the withdrawal of Soviet troops from there and a rapid dismemberment of the USSR, the mighty Communist superpower, that followed, brought down the curtains on the Cold War leaving the USA as the only superpower commanding all military and economic initiatives at the global level. The transformational event, however, was accompanied by three new developments that would further affect the world in the future. Still in play these, it is hoped, did get into NIC’s calculus.
One is the impact that the Soviet collapse made on China, the second most powerful Communist power. President Deng Xiaoping did not fail to notice that the USSR had cracked under its own internal economic contradiction, had acquired military strength but not built its economy, and had in fact moved towards an oligarchy. Deng was set on seeking the economic route to becoming a superpower, learning from the failed Soviet model and opening into the global economy in a controlled fashion. China has built a huge balance of trade in its favor, reached out to Western centers of knowledge through investments in the universities there, and harnessed technology in all fields.
The second transformative change that coincided with the end of the Cold War was the success of the IT Revolution that shifted the world from the Industrial Age to the Age of Information. The new age brought in the Knowledge Economy created borderless markets and set new benchmarks of competitiveness wherein a rival could appear from anywhere on the globe making better use of information that came into the public domain as soon as it was produced. There were no obscure corners in the world anymore as a global outreach accessed them all. The end of the Cold War interestingly produced a large number of border conflicts, insurgencies, and cross border offensives as many national identities that had been suppressed during the Cold War asserted themselves. This phenomenon is still at play in Eastern Europe and Central Asia and is a significant factor affecting international relations.
The third development — and this posed a lasting threat to world security — was the rise of the new global terror, a product of faith-based motivation from the same battleground in Afghanistan that had ousted the Soviet army from there. The anti- Soviet armed campaign was directed on the war cry of Jehad and led by the Pak-controlled Hizbul Mujahideen, the radical Taliban, and the Lashkar-e-Toiba of Osama bin Laden with equal force. The success of the Afghan Jehad was followed by the installation of the Afghan Emirate at Kabul in 1996, on the initiative of Pakistan, which was headed by the Taliban’s Mullah Omar working in close concert with Laden. That regime of Islamic radicals soon bared its fangs against the US-led West, the Shiites, and the idol-worshippers and compelled the US to oust it. This, in turn, laid the turf for Al Qaeda’s offensive of 9/11 and the subsequent launch of the ‘war on terror by the US-led World Coalition against Islamic radicals, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq.
With Islamic radicals enjoying considerable support within the Muslim world spread across Asia and Africa and in particular receiving shelter in Pakistan, the ‘war on terror’ leaves behind a lasting conflict between the West and radical Islam, rightly described by the likes of Samuel P. Huntington and his mentor Prof. Bernard Lewis as a ‘clash of civilizations. The rise of China, the advent of the cyber world, and the revival of radical Islam are thus the three paradigms that are shaping the world and pushing it in the direction of a new bipolar order. Even factors like economy, environment, technology, and internal governance are in some way adding to this new post-Cold War cleavage created by international relations.
The geopolitical contours of ‘a more contested world’ are getting crystallized, as viewed from India, along with three courses. First is the significant development of the advent of the Biden Presidency restoring the traditional US-NATO alliance which was weakened in the Trump regime. This is in line with the Biden administration looking at China and Russia as the antagonistic powers much like what the position was for the US in the Cold War. Biden apparently looks at Russia’s Putin with great distrust — Donald Trump gave the impression of being in a comfortable equation with the Russian President and perhaps regarded Russia as another white nation across Europe. The new level of energization of QUAD achieved in Biden administration was basically directed against the aggressive designs of China in the Indo-Pacific but it has evoked a sharp reaction from Russia and created a sense of strategic unity between Russia and China. Japan is the anchor of QUAD in the region and this has evidently led to Putin cautioning India against becoming part of an ‘Asian NATO’, particularly after the appearance of France on the scene through its participation in the naval exercises with QUAD.
Another course of global alignments that has a long-term implication is the divide between the democratic world and the autocratic regimes spawning across Asia in particular, which was of direct concern for India. The Chinese strategy of gaining influence in South and South-East Asia — through the Sino-Pak alliance on the one hand and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on the other — demands an effective counter-strategy from India. RCEP is a trading partnership of China with the ten ASEAN countries along with South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The challenge for India is that its political appeal to ASEAN as a democratic power is pitted against the overbearing economic pressure of the Communist neighbor which is testing India’s ‘Act East’ policy. India has to work for multi-polarity in Asia to counter China’s dominance here. India has to be in the democratic camp in Asia, on the side of the US and its allies in the region. The participation of Prime Minister Modi in the first QUAD summit was a sound decision in this context — it serves the cause of the security of the Indian Ocean as well.
It is the third geopolitical trendsetter however, that is perhaps the most important for India’s national security and international relations — the shifting alignments within the Muslim world that weighed in favor of Pakistan despite the falling image of that country as a principal harborer of Islamic extremism. This adds to India’s concerns as Pakistan is encouraged to step up its terror offensive against India and also cause internal destabilization here. This goings-on strangely does not bother the Biden Presidency so much — even though, ironically, the ‘war on terror’ against Islamic radicals was all along led by the US-led world coalition. The Sino-Pak alliance is working for Pakistan on the Afghan issue while a new grouping within the Islamic world — of Pakistan, Turkey, and Malaysia — is becoming supportive of Islamic radicals and recalcitrant towards the supremacy of Saudi Arabia, a committed ally of the US in the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).
ALSO READ: Virtual Diplomacy Is Now The Future
If President Biden withdraws US troops from Afghanistan with a half-baked truce with the Taliban, Pakistan will retain its sway in that country and cause further problems for India. Meanwhile, pro-Pak lobbies are active in the US on the issue of Kashmir and there is a meeting of minds between Pakistan and China on countering India’s hold in the Ladakh sector that was now directly administered by the Centre as a Union Territory. Also, there is a revival of Islamic radicalism in many parts of Europe including France and Belgium because of the history of colonialism and even the legacy of the Crusades. The US-led West and India have a convergence of interest against the threat of ‘radicalization’ but the NIC report does not seem to be impacted much by the latter. India does not have the comfort of distance that the US had on the threat from Islamic radicals — it has, therefore, to counter it largely on its own. Mobilization of the democratic world against the faith-based global terror has to be kept up. (IANS/KB)
A Travel Sustainable badge, provides highly coveted information to travellers all over the world looking to make more sustainable travel choices. Booking.com has launched the Travel Sustainable Badge, a first of its kind in the industryNinety-eight per cent of Indian travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the coming year, and with more than 28 million listings on Booking.com, the company sees a huge opportunity to highlight more of the impactful efforts its partners are making to create more sustainable experiences, making it easier for travellers to find a sustainable way to stay.
Booking.com has launched the Travel Sustainable Badge, a first of its kind in the industry | Photo by yousef alfuhigi on Unsplash
With 88 percent of Indian travellers indicating that they would be more likely to choose a specific accommodation that implements sustainable practices, it rewards and encourages providers to take the next steps on their individual sustainability journeys. "Building a truly sustainable travel industry will take time, coordination, and concerted effort," said Marianne Gybels, Director of Sustainability at Booking.com. "However, progress is possible through continued innovation, partner support, and industry collaboration."
"We are recognising the sustainability efforts of a broader range of properties globally in a credible and transparent manner for consumers." Displaying the practices they have in place allows everyone to make a more informed and hopefully more sustainable decision for their next trip, no matter where they want to go. As a result, we've inspired even more of our partners to take the next step toward more sustainable operations."
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: travel, sustainable travel, india, travellers, innovation.
South Korean game developer has introduced a new initiative for Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) which will enable a new level of parental control via time limitations and OTP confirmation. The 'Game Responsibly' initiative will also show warning messages along with break reminders, game limits and more. "Every player, below the age of 18, needs to register a parent or a guardian before they start playing for the first time. An OTP will be sent to the registered person's number, post which the minor is allowed to play the game," the company said in a statement.
Some games can get intense and make players lose track of time. However, with timely break-time reminders, the developer has made sure players get the required downtime. These reminders will help them look up from their game and get back to real life, maintaining a healthy game-life balance. In addition, with a strict gameplay limit in place players below 18 years must not indulge in gaming for more than 3 hours per day. This automatically helps them treat gaming as an activity performed in moderation.
The brand has also set an in-game daily spend limit of Rs 7,000 that automatically stops them from overspending and overgaming. Krafton recently announced that it has removed 25 lakh accounts in just over a month to eradicate cheating on Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI). Since the last announcement, between October 1 and November 10, Krafton banned 25,19,692 accounts permanently and 7,06,319 temporarily. "The company has cleaned out most of the cheaters in the game, making BGMI a much more fun experience, and will continue to take whatever step is necessary to keep BGMI fair and fun," it claimed. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: BGMI, parental control, Battlegrounds Mobile India, Krafton, South Korea
By Vinoda Kumary
The rise in air pollution, coupled with lousy lifestyle habits, is causing a spike in respiratory diseases. According to a Lancet report, the contribution of chronic respiratory diseases in India increased from 4.5 per cent in 1990 to 6.4 per cent in 2016. With respiratory issues on the rise, there is an increased demand for natural solutions to treat such issues. Instead of conventional medicine, people are turning to alternative medical therapies to find cures for ailments.
Common Lung Disorders
Bronchitis is a health condition that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. This leads to narrowing of the air pathways and excess mucus causes wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. It is a chronic condition that interferes seriously with daily life.
Bronchitis is a health condition that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. | Wikimedia Commons
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
It is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs the airflow to the lungs. Symptoms of COPD include breathing difficulty, mucus (sputum) production, coughing, and wheezing. It can result from long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. Those affected by COPD are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, and a variety of other conditions.
Symptoms of COPD include breathing difficulty, mucus (sputum) production, coughing, and wheezing. | Pixabay
This is another variation of COPD. Bronchitis causes a similar build-up of mucus that can cause inflammation and coughing. The lungs' airways are constantly inflamed as chronic bronchitis often lasts for months on end. Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include incessant coughing, whistling sounds while breathing, wheezing and a tightening of the chest. It is said that the cure for all ailments is available the natural way. Here are some of the alternative medicine approaches to treat respiratory disorders.
This is another variation of COPD. Bronchitis causes a similar build-up of mucus that can cause inflammation and coughing. | Needpix
Alternative Medicinal Approaches to Treat Respiratory Disorders
Asthma is one of the most common lung diseases. One of the primary causes of asthma is allergies, which often result from the food consumed. It is crucial, therefore, to first prepare a diet that is suitable for an individual. Often, dairy products, meats, and certain nuts can increase the production of mucus. Foods like these must be avoided. Also, antioxidants can prevent damage resulting from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Diet is important in this regard, as fruits and vegetables high in Vitamins A, C, and E can improve the condition of COPD patients.
Diet is important in this regard, as fruits and vegetables high in Vitamins A, C, and E can improve the condition of COPD patients. | Photo by Bruna Branco on Unsplash
Yoga and Exercise
Treatment of lung disorders often involves the use of the lungs to promote healthy breathing habits. Exercises like cycling, swimming, yoga etc. that create a need for full capacity breathing are of great importance. Exercising the diaphragm is important and simple activities can go a long way in the treatment of the same. Pranayama, the practice of controlled breathing, is an integral part of alternative treatment for people suffering from respiratory issues. This extensive breathing practice helps to expand the lungs and improve the capacity of the lungs, which helps an individual breathe more freely.
Treatment of lung disorders often involves the use of the lungs to promote healthy breathing habits. | Photo by kike vega on Unsplash
Nasal irrigation systems like JalNeti using a Neti pot can help to rinse the sinuses, which may provide some relief from symptoms of respiratory allergies.
Nasal irrigation systems like JalNeti using a Neti pot can help to rinse the sinuses, which may provide some relief from symptoms of respiratory allergies. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
The traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into the skin to stimulate certain parts of the body. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, people with allergic rhinitis who were given acupuncture treatments twice a week for eight weeks had fewer symptoms than those administered placebo.
People with allergic rhinitis who were given acupuncture treatments twice a week for eight weeks had fewer symptoms than those administered placebo. | Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash
It is important to remember that no one complementary or alternative therapy works well for everyone with respiratory issues. Therefore, a proper assessment is done before deciding on the approach to the treatment plan. For those considering alternative medicine for their respiratory problems, it is recommended to speak to an expert first and discuss the approach that may work best.
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Yoga, exercise, Nasal Irrigation, Diet, Chronic Bronchitis, Respiratory Issues