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The Cold War that ended three decades ago, inevitably left behind a legacy, existing even today, of a divide between the US-led West and the residual of the world of Communism inherited by the Chinese leadership. In the era of the Cold War, the world was tightly divided ideologically between the two politico-economic camps of democracy and free-market on the one hand and the State-controlled means of production and democratic centrism, a synonym for one-party rule, on the other.
Every country big or small had to choose a side and the highly charged balance of power made the world vulnerable to the consequences of any local conflict or issue possibly sparking off a clash between the two nuclear Super Powers. The military build-up, however, continued unabated in the quest for a deterrent — the US-sponsored Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) evolving into Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) based on ‘space missiles’ in the Reagan Presidency. The arms race left the Soviet Union with a damaged economy and this was the main reason why the Soviet army, having invaded Afghanistan in December 1979 for gaining a quick geopolitical advantage over the US, could not bear the asymmetric offensive of the Mujahideen for long and withdrew in defeat in 1989 causing a breakdown of the Soviet empire itself and putting curtains on the Cold War.
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Over years the world is beginning to move once again towards a bipolar order, of course with a different set of paradigms. The lead player in the Communist camp this time is China, not Russia since Deng Xiaoping having taken all the lessons from the collapse of the Soviet Union — he saw the latter becoming an oligarchy with serious economic contradictions internally –proceeded to open the Chinese economy to global markets outside in a highly controlled fashion and build the new technology brought in by the success of IT revolution that had ironically coincided with the dismemberment of the USSR. Xi Jinping has carried this forward but he has also deepened the Communist hold on the state by emphasizing on ‘Sinicization of Marxism’. China has successfully pursued the economic route to becoming a superpower — with a huge favorable balance of trade against the US and potential for putting many countries around it under a debt burden through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China’s strategy of restricting the influence of India as a major Asian power is presently in full play. The Sino-Pak military alliance sustained by CPEC and the trade relationship with ASEAN countries fortified through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Pact (RCEP) are the instruments used by China to contain India.
The advent of the Biden Presidency in the US is setting off the process of reviving the US-NATO bonds that had been weakened in the times of Donald Trump and bracketing China and Russia together as the adversaries of the Cold War era. The activation of QUAD with Japan as its anchor in the Indo-Pacific and the participation of France in the recent naval exercises of QUAD have impelled Russia to firm up its axis with China for monitoring the US moves in this area and speak up against the alleged rise of an ‘Asian NATO. India is now an active partner in QUAD to give a message to China that it would not only take on the latter on LAC but also join any multilateral initiatives to counter Chinese aggressiveness in the Indo-Pacific — that helped our strategy for the defending Indian Ocean as well. The depth of Indo-Russian relations — Russia is the largest supplier of defense equipment to India ahead of the US and Israel — can be maintained by India as our diplomacy is in a position to convince the US that none of this would be at the cost of American interests. India has to project its role as a major sovereign power exercising a balancing influence geopolitically for the cause of global peace — this can be a nuanced aspect of the ‘non-aligned’ approach of the past sans ideological tints. This would be tested in our ability to simultaneously maintain a friendship with Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia in bilateral terms.
A new trend gone unnoticed in many quarters is that the increasing geopolitical alignments towards a bipolar world are, unlike in the Cold War years, revolving around ‘political’ opposition to the US and not the ‘ideological’ contradiction between Communism and Capitalism that had guided them earlier. There is a notable drift of some Islamic countries towards the Communist block led by the China-Russia combine and its allies, in consequence of the prolonged ‘war on terror that had been launched by the US-led world coalition following 9/11. Pakistan became increasingly ambiguous about supporting the US in countering Islamic radicals of the Al Qaeda-Taliban axis and in the process drew international approbation for harboring Islamic extremists and terrorists on its soil. It invited a clear reprimand from President Donald Trump on this score.
Pakistan chose to strike a military alliance with China primarily driven by its hostility towards India on the issue of Kashmir. The Sino-Pak collaboration is sustained by the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) the high investment project of China built on the territory of POK that was ceded by Pakistan to its new ‘all-weather friend’. In a situation of internal economic decline aggravated by the financial curbs imposed by the Trump regime, Pakistan is now greatly beholden to China for economic support. All of this has added to Pakistan’s recalcitrance towards the US on the issue of the threat to the latter from ‘radicalization’. It has also crystallized a group within the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) comprising Pakistan, Turkey, Malaysia, and Qatar, that directly or indirectly supports Islamic radicals on the ground of faith and is not with Saudi Arabia’s leadership known for its staunch political alliance with the US.
What looks like the beginning of a revival of the Cold War between the US and China is this time around a geopolitical polarisation not glued by ideology — the Sino-Pak axis proving this in ample measure. The alliance between a godless Communist dictatorship and an Islamic State endorsing faith-based militancy rests on a political give and take with China supporting Pakistan against India on Kashmir and Pakistan choosing to look the other way on China’s atrocities in Xinjiang and other Muslim areas under it. The antipathy towards the US has pushed many Muslim countries in the opposite camp while some others like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and even Bangladesh seemed to be favoring a policy of equidistance between the two rival sides for the moment. The Sino-Pak alliance is working for Pakistan on the Afghan issue to the disadvantage of India and we must reach out to other stakeholders in the Afghan peace process — particularly Russia, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the NATO countries to pave the way for a national government, and not an Emirate, taking charge of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops from there. Pakistan’s hold on a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan will add to India’s problem on the Kashmir front. India has to remain prepared in any case to deal with some form of coordinated aggression of Pakistan and China on our borders.
In this developing geopolitical scenario, the strategy of the Modi government to go in for bilateral or even multi-sided understandings and alliances based on mutuality of economic and security interests and in tune with the requirements of world peace and global harmony has served India well. The polarisation is ultimately between the democratic world and the regimes run by dictators or fundamentalists and there is no doubt about which side India will be on. While President Biden values India as the largest democracy in the world — considering the latter as ‘a natural ally’ of the oldest democracy of the US — some of the European powers owing to the colonial past might still be a little deprecatory towards this country. India has to launch a diplomatic mobilization in the democratic countries against the rise of faith-based militancy in the Muslim world and the unholy alliance between Pakistan and China that was supporting it.
India has to continue striving for friendly relations with countries of South and Southeast Asia apart from the closeness it had developed with Saudi Arabia and UAE — leaders of the OIC who were on the side of the US and against Islamic radicals. India can work for multipolarity in Asia and it has to build its economy, military strength, and internal governance to emerge as an important voice in international relations. We are in the era of covert offensives, cyberattacks, and information warfare and India has to develop its capabilities for dealing with the same. The ‘jointness’ among our defense services being developed by the CDS was in evidence in the build-up achieved by India in Ladakh recently to counter Chinese designs on LAC.
It is possible that due to a sense of comfort of distance felt by the US concerning the threat of Al Qaeda and an accommodating attitude shown by the Biden administration towards Pakistan because of factors relating to the Afghan peace process involving Taliban, India may not witness the kind of convergence is expected to have with America on these issues. This would be another reason why India must believe in its own strength and capabilities in dealing with its security and economic concerns while continuing to offer wise counsel on matters affecting global peace and the cause of humanity. The crippling effect of the Corona pandemic at home has put the entire energy of the government on the domestic challenge but the country has to keep up its guards against any external threats to national security in the prevailing environment. (IANS/KB)
By Md Waquar Haider
When popular smartphone brands like Xiaomi and realme entered the laptop market in India last year, they were expected to shake the existing giants, specifically under the Rs 50,000 category. However, chip shortage and supply crunch have somewhat dented their plans to make a significant mark to date. According to industry experts, the issue with smartphone makers entering the laptop category is two-fold. The first one is a massive supply crunch in the laptop component market and only big brands are able to get volume and supplies.
The other factor is that the traditional players are very strong in the consumer laptop market. Top 3 players control more than 70 per cent of the market and strong portfolio, distribution, and channel reach as well as brand marketing has helped them massively. "New brands can surely make a dent in the consumer laptop market but are challenged by supply issues right now. Watch out for them in 2022 as and when supply situation eases up," Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Client Devices & IPDS, IDC India told IANS.
Dominated by HP Inc, Lenovo and Dell, the traditional PC market (inclusive of desktops, notebooks, and workstations) in India continued to be robust as the shipments grew by 50.5 per cent year-over-year (YoY) in the second quarter (Q2), according to IDC. Notebook PCs continue to hold more than three-fourth share in the overall category and grew 49.9 per cent YoY in 2Q21, reporting a fourth consecutive quarter with over 2 million units. Desktops also indicated a recovery as shipments grew 52.3 per cent YoY after recording the lowest shipments of the decade in 2Q20.
According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group, CMR, driven by the pandemic and the associated accelerated pivot to remote work, learn and unwind culture, PCs have been witnessing heightened demand. "Despite the current supply chain constraints, PCs are here to stay in the new never normal. In the run-up to the festive season, established PC market leaders will continue to leverage their brand salience and gain market share," Ram told IANS.
According to industry experts, the issue with smartphone makers entering the laptop category is two-fold. | Photo by Manuel on Unsplash
"On the other hand, there is a niche market for those new market entrants that are able to differentiate themselves from the competition in terms of features and value. "Alongside, they would need to back it with strong brand messaging to create awareness and recall amongst the target consumers," Ram added.
HP maintained its lead in the India PC market with a 33.6 per cent share as its shipments grew 54.2 per cent annually. Dell Technologies continued to hold the second position with a 22.1 per cent share and an impressive 86.1 per cent YoY growth in 2Q21. Lenovo maintained the third position with a share of 17.8 per cent in 2Q21.
Arvind Suraj, Research Fellow, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said that there is always a trust issue with new brands. "You won't buy a laptop in 6 or 7 months just like smartphones. In this case, we often go for existing players. Brands like Lenovo, HP, ASUS and Acer have already gained our trust," he said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Chip, shortage, laptop, market, India, Xiaomi, hp, dell, brands
A drug used to treat agitation in people with dementia is no more effective than a placebo, and might even increase mortality, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The research, led by researchers at the University of Plymouth, showed that antidepressant mirtazapine offered no improvement in agitation for people with dementia -- and was possibly more likely to be associated with mortality than no intervention at all.
Agitation is a common symptom of dementia, characterized by inappropriate verbal, vocal or motor activity, and often involves physical and verbal aggression. Non-drug patient-centered care is the first intervention that should be offered but, when this doesn't work, clinicians may move to a drug-based alternative.
Agitation is a common symptom of dementia, characterized by inappropriate verbal, vocal or motor activity, and often involves physical and verbal aggression. | Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash
Antipsychotics have proven to increase death rates in those with dementia, along with other poor outcomes, and so mirtazapine has been routinely prescribed. This study was designed to add to the evidence base around its effectiveness. The study recruited 204 people with probable or possible Alzheimer's disease from 20 sites around the UK, allocating half to mirtazapine and half to placebo.
The trial was double-blind; meaning that neither the researcher nor the study participants knew what they were taking. The results showed that there was no less agitation after 12 weeks in the mirtazapine group than in the control group. There were also more deaths in the mirtazapine group (seven) by week 16 than in the control group (only one), with analysis suggesting this was of marginal statistical significance.
"Dementia affects 46 million people worldwide -- a figure set to double over the next 20 years. Poor life quality is driven by problems like agitation and we need to find ways to help those affected," said lead researcher Professor Sube Banerjee, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health at the varsity. "This study shows that a common way of managing symptoms is not helpful -- and could even be detrimental. It's really important that these results are taken into account and mirtazapine is no longer used to treat agitation in people with dementia," Banerjee added. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Depression, antidepressant, dementia, drug, effective, life, health
Digital beauty platform Boddess.com aims to be a disrupter in the Indian beauty market segment offering a curation of products to suit customisation and individual needs. Intime for the festive season, Chandni Goyal, Training Manager at House of Beauty and Boddess, shares a few tricks to see you through endless nights of partying:
* Have fun with colour and sparkle--Move away from blacks and browns and experiment with colours complementing your outfit. The traditional smokey eye can be given a touch of glamour with a dab of glitter eyeshadow in the inner corner of your eyes. It will make your eye make-up pop and will be just what is needed for a festive look.
Move away from blacks and browns and experiment with colours complementing your outfit. | Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
* Define your eyes with wing eyeliner--Don't shy from entering the negative space and go all out to draw a bold line to define your eyes and make a statement. Start from the inner corner of the top lid--keep the line thin here, extending along the lash line, going thicker, and finishing with a thick wing towards the outer corner of the eyes.
Don't shy from entering the negative space and go all out to draw a bold line to define your eyes and make a statement. | Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash
* Don't forget the lashes--They can really make or break your entire look. Add a few generous coats of volumizing mascara and if you are a pro, apply false eyelashes for added depth.
Add a few generous coats of volumizing mascara and if you are a pro, apply false eyelashes for added depth. | Photo by Perchek Industrie on Unsplash
* Glossy lips--Glossy lips are big this season. Define your lips with a nude-pink lip liner and fill in the same lip liner all over your lips. Top it up with a clear crystal gloss that gives a glass-like shine and makes your lips look fuller and plumper.
Define your lips with a nude-pink lip liner and fill in the same lip liner all over your lips. | Photo by Nojan Namdar on Unsplash
* For the cheeks--A pop of colour that imparts a flushed, radiant glow will round out your look beautifully. This can be achieved with a cream blush, on the apples of your cheeks, and a layer of highlighter that melts into the skin on your cheekbone. Pinks, peaches and corals are the colours this season.
A pop of colour that imparts a flushed, radiant glow will round out your look beautifully. | Photo by Gursimrat Ganda on Unsplash
(Article originally published on IANS life) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: beauty, party, fashion, makeup, eyeliner, mascara, blush, season, tricks