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Category Archives: Socio-economic Collapse

Vision 2020: Where Are Thou? – Modern Ghana

Posted: January 18, 2020 at 10:58 am

'The realisation of this vision will of course involve significant changes in all fields of human endeavour and in all spheres of life. In essence, it would entail the structural transformation of the economy, correction of socioeconomic imbalances, enhancement of the role of the private sector, strengthening of the physical and social infrastructure, provision of greater access to social and economic amenities and fostering of positive moral and cultural values. (These were part of the Foreword, written and signed by the then President of Ghana, ex-President J.J. Rawlings to the Ghana-vision 2020: THE FIRST MEDIUM-TERM DEVELOPMENT PLAN (1997-2000).

Some 25 solid years ago, this nation was awakened from its slumber after tinkering with Economic Recovery Programmes (ERP), Structural Adjustment Programmes 1 and 2 (SAP) and other allied economic recovery programmes aimed at resuscitating an economy which had been in decline since the late 1970s. A lot of draconian economic measures with their attendant social difficulties were imposed on the people. The policies were supported with whips which made it very difficult for the citizenry to express their views about them, let alone, offer divergent opinions. The culture of silence was born in that era.

The weakness and strengths of these policies notwithstanding, the wind of political change globally, following the collapse of the Berlin wall in Eastern Europe and the perestroika and glasnosts in the then Soviets Union, many authoritarian regimes changed their political directions from 'one man show of power' to some semblance of multiparty democracy where the citizenry or at least a section of the citizenry were given the opportunity to express their views on matters that affect the collective good of the majority of the people.

Prior to that, it was common to hear politicians and policy makers, shouting 'water for all by the year 2000, health for all by the year 2000 and on and on they shouted their voices hoarse. It was within this period in 1996 when the nation decided to develop a blueprint that was supposed to be the guide lines for the nation's development, taking into consideration, all the critical areas of the economy holistically for its national development in the next 25 years.

The document had the first Medium-Term Development plan which began from 1996-2000, which came to be known as the 'First Step' was to use the first five years as a foundation stone from 1996-2000 'to consolidate the gains so far secured over the past decade and to lay the foundation for accelerated economic growth and human development from the beginning of the 21st Century.

The plan according to the document for the first step 1996-2000, was to lay a sound foundation for accelerated economic growth and human development in the early years of the 21st Century. The plan was essentially human-centred and its thematic focus was on: Human Development, Economic Growth, Rural Development, Infrastructure and enabling environment.

These were to be achieved by the year 2000 as solid foundations upon which the growth and development in the coming 20 years were to be hinged, by the year 2000 the state of our human development was nothing to write home about. Taking the various thematic areas one by one, which of the areas can we, as a nation, say with pride, had performed better by the year 2000? The nation's human-development index as of 2000 was nothing to be proud of since most of the nation's educational infrastructure were in very deplorable state.

A total expected inflow of 198.00 billion of old into the Ghana Education Fund (GETFUND) was in arrears by the end of 2000, while educational infrastructure at all levels were dilapidated and basic exercise and text books at various levels of our education were absent. The economy as at the end of 2000 which was supposed to be the end of the 'First Term' and the foundation stone was the worst in over 14 years. Incidence of poverty was alarming and not good enough to use as foundations towards the attainment of the overall goal of Vision 2020.

The nation therefore entered the 21st Century with very weak fundamentals, in fact the nation had long been declared as a highly indebted poor country, a situation which made Ghana a high risk nation for both external borrowing and foreign investments. A nation with so much domestic debts resulting from the excessive borrowing by government who in the process crowded out the private sector, an economy which had almost grounded to a halt, could not have been good to support our development objectives in the coming years.

Rural infrastructure had declined in mass to the point that rural dwellers had no business continuing to live there. By the end of the First Step period, many young and energetic rural dwellers had taken their steps to move out of the suffocating rural conditions that made them look like sub-human species. Roads were so poor, potable water was a very scarce commodity for many rural dwellers, even though the provision of electricity to rural areas had improved over the years, there were still a sizeable number of rural communities without electrification.

Educational standards were falling on the basis of poor educational infrastructure, lack of decent accommodation for trained and posted teachers to many rural communities, inadequate learning and teaching materials for both pupils and teachers and lack of incentives to encourage newly trained teachers to take up appointments in very remote areas.

The socio-economic environment of Ghana by the end of the year 2000 was so bad that the nation had become a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community. Personal insecurity was mounting by the day leading to the abduction and murder of women all over the country among others. Unemployment was rising because local businesses were collapsing, the manufacturing sector was contributing very low towards the GDP and the economy was not growing.

We failed woefully in the First Step programme which should have propelled us in the Vision 2020. Perhaps we all sat down thinking that 2020 was never going to come. Nations have developed on plans and goals they set for themselves. They worked on them. They set the rules, the dos and don'ts and monitored what was being done; they evaluated the outcomes

vis--vis inputs. They ensured the continuity in set programmes, the leaders were all ready for the national objectives irrespective of who initiated what and where they got to.

While I agree that changing circumstances and situations may require a review of original plans and activities, variations in planned activities and programmes are meant to strengthen them and achieve original set goals and not to as it were pull everything down and begin all over again when there is no need for it. This is what happened to our Vision 2020 which became blurred just at its first stage.

I will in the coming weeks look at the main targets in the VISION 2020 proper and see which of the main targets we were able to work towards as a people, why and how and those we were unable to achieve, why and where we went wrong. The year 2020 is with us now. Where are we and where are we going and within what time frame?

Daavi, I pomised not to visit you this year oo, but some cold oo. Just give me three tots for the beginning.


By Kwesi Biney

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Vision 2020: Where Are Thou? - Modern Ghana

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Flights between Singapore and Manila cancelled after volcano eruption: 5 things to know about Taal – The Straits Times

Posted: at 10:58 am

SINGAPORE - A volcanic eruption south of the Philippine capital of Manila on Sunday (Jan 12) resulted in many flights cancelled or rescheduled as Manila's international airport was closed.

A massive ash cloud from the eruption drifted north across the city and on Monday, at least 37 flights between Singapore and Manila were affected, even though the Philippine authorities said that flight operations partially resumed on the same day.

The affected airlines include Singapore Airlines, Scoot, Jetstar Airways and Philippine Airlines, according to Changi Airport's website.

Here are five things to know about the Taal volcano and its latest eruption:

The Philippines currently has 24 active volcanoes, including Taal.

It lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is notorious for its active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes caused by tectonic movements that make the area especially disaster-prone.

Taal, located about 60km south of Manila on the island of Luzon, is one of the the world's smallest volcanoes - it rises just 3m above sea level and has a lake-filled opening about 20km by 15km across.

Even so, it is considered among the world's most dangerous and is the second most active volcano in the Philippines.

People travel along a road covered in ash deposits, a day after the eruption of the Taal volcano, in Batangas province, Philippines, on Jan 13, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

One eruption in 1754 lasted six months, and another in 1911 took 1,335 lives.

In the past 450 years, Taal has recorded at least 34 major and minor eruptions.

Its history of large, destructive eruptions led it to be designated as one of 16 "decade volcanoes" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior in the 1990s.

This, based on the volcano's history of eruptions and proximity to people, earmarked it for more focused research and public awareness programmes.

Taal is considered a caldera and was formed after a large volcanic eruption led it to collapse into itself about 100,000 to 500,000 years ago.

While no casualties and no major damage have been reported so far after the Taal volcano began erupting on Sunday, scientists warned that a more "hazardous eruption" could still happen any time.

Since the Taal volcano began spewing ash and steam on Sunday, more than 20,000 villagers in the Batangas and Cavite provinces have fled their homes. Poor visibility and transport problems have hindered this process, with officials saying some villagers needed convincing because they wanted to save their pigs and herds of cows.

Already, the ongoing eruption has triggered some 75 earthquakes and resulted in more than 500 cancelled flights.

A change in wind directions has also seen ash blowing over more areas, as the local authorities warned that these could cause respiratory problems in the very young and those with pre-existing lung conditions.

Flight operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport partially resumed on Monday even as the authorities continued to closely monitor the situation.

The airport was shut down on Sunday when ash from Taal blew more than 100km north into Manila, reducing visibility.

Even as red-hot lava continued to gush out of Taal on Monday, the Department of Transportation, Manila International Airport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines tentatively resumed the airport's operations.

The backlog from Sunday meant that planes that have been parked since Sunday night were given priority, while flight arrivals were subjected to slot availability.

An alternative airport north of Manila at Clark Freeport remains openbut the authorities said they would shut it down, too, if ash fall threatens flights.

Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez told Bloomberg that the government has set aside at least US$50 million (S$67m) in an emergency fund that could be used to support disaster relief and rebuilding efforts.

But on the ground, dust masks have sold out even as volunteers and respondents directing rescue and evacuation efforts said they were in need of masks.

Each year, natural disasters cause about US$1.2 billion in socio-economic damage to the Philippines, including the loss in manpower when employees stay home during eruptions such as Taal's.

Each year, about 20 typhoons and other major storms also lash the Philippines.

Besides ash clouds disrupting air travel, volcanic eruptions like Taal's can have other short-term and long-term effectstoo.

In bigger eruptions, pyroclastic flows - containing rocks and gas that can exceed 700 deg C - can also severely damage nearby land and infrastructure. Ongoing evacuation efforts with Taal were done with this in mind, as a bigger eruption is expected from the volcano soon.

On a bigger scale, the mixture of gases and particles emitted into the air during an eruption has in some cases had a cooling effect on global temperatures as it reflects sunlight away from the earth.

When Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted in 1991, a significant dip in global temperatures was observed in the following year or two.

But studies have shown that the warming effect of eruptions last much longer. The large quantities of carbon dioxide released from volcanic eruptions stay in the air for years, although these still make up just 1 per cent of the amount that humans release from burning fossil fuels.

Sources: The Straits Times, South China Morning Post, The Guardian, Bloomberg, BBC, WorldAtlas

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Flights between Singapore and Manila cancelled after volcano eruption: 5 things to know about Taal - The Straits Times

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The ANC’s 108th birthday bash: A masked ball –

Posted: at 10:57 am

Pretending has come to be a dominant feature in South Africa.

Citizens continue to vote against their own interest, as if pretending that those in power can actually deliver on their promises will make it come true.

In politics, all parties pretend acting as though they have no crises, no factions, no demagogic and power-hungry individuals. They put on masks and present false fronts, pretending that the internal problems dont exist.

If the ANCs 108th birthday celebration this past weekend and its associated speeches including President Cyril Ramaphosas delivery of the January 8 statementon Saturday (January 11) are anything go by, it seems the party has become a symbol of pretence and pretension.

Great pretender

We know the reality is difficult to face, but in choosing to again wear a mask, the ruling party has become a victim of the unfortunate reality that playing make-believe can come to hide the truth even from the pretender itself.

Only the ANC could say, with a straight face, that it has declared 2020 to be the year of unity, socio-economic renewal and nation building.

Only the ANC could fail to fear shame and embarrassment about claiming to prioritise job creation and economic growth when its actions, decisions and policies as the ruling party have been such that they achieve the opposite.

Pretending has become a coping mechanism, a tool for self-comfort, a way to save face but mostly an excuse for the party to continue to lie to itself that things are going well.


Given the countrys past, and the current governments constant failure, a reflection on what is happening inside the ANC including its role in governing SA could have been more useful.

It could have shown that it is a party capable of public self-reflection.

This would also have given it an opportunity to refine its eight priorities including education, healthcare, land reform and growth instead of repeating them. Ramaphosas speech did not mention anything that we didnt already know to be his partys priorities, nor did it introduceanything new.

Believing that repeating a story will somehow make it true does not make it true.Trying to hide ones failures doesnt turn them into successes.

It is unsurprising that nothing very hopeful came out of the presidents speech, and it seems nothing hopeful is going to happen while the ruling party continues to believe the lie that it tells itself and the public.

The collapse of key institutions and state-owned enterprises, the plundering of state coffers, and the erosion of good governance in the public sector has not only reversed any progress, it has plunged the economy into a crushing rut.

Pretending to be a thriving democracy that is able to accomplish political and social growth does not make it so.

The morning after

When the sugar rush from the birthday celebrations wears off and the exhaustion from partying sets in, it may surprise the ANC and its alliance partners to see that much of what the festivities were trying to mask is still there.

The priorities the party set out for the new era are simply a collection of past plans that were never implemented or failed to lift off.

It can be said that, as the ruling party, the ANC has been riding the wave of an organisation that is forward-looking and in control of its own and the countrys future.

The reality is that it is set in its ways, has been plunged into organisational chaos and, as a government, is less clear about what it is doing than it would have its citizens believe.

The Eskom crisis is good evidence of a president at the helm of a government that is incapable of running things, let alone demonstrating a leadership that is in control.

Moreover, the corroding effect of state capture and corrupt practices is so deeply rooted that it has undermined many of the former good practices in the public sector. And the collective response from the powers that be? Go through the motions, set up commissions and inquiries, act as if action is being taken against those liable, and hope that this will keep the public appeased. In other words, present a false image of a party in control and hope that people will believe this image.

I am not moved by statements from a party that pretends to care about reducing poverty and inequality when in reality, through its actions, it extends them.

For many young people who are the most impacted by structural problems, the ruling partys birthday celebration means nothing. Many continue to be locked out of the economy and have no way of knowing how they are going to survive daily, let alone in the coming decade.

This past weekends birthday celebration was a splendid diversion used to cheer the masses, by keeping the pretence of Batho Pele (governments People First initiative) alive. But soon the lies will not hold anymore.

There was a time when the public and even its own members listened closely when the ANC spoke. This is particularly true of the January 8 statement. But the partys command for attention is diminishing.

And so too, unless things change, will its power over the people.


The ANC's 108th birthday bash: A masked ball -

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Bottomed out: Can Buller on the West Coast claw itself back? –

Posted: at 10:57 am

The West Coast's Bullerdistrict has been reeling from a major economic downturn with the loss of a quarter of its jobssince 2012. Can itbounce back? JOANNE CARROLL reports.

The West Coast'sBuller districtstretches8574 square kilometres from Punakaiki to Karamea,and inland as far as Springs Junction. It is only slightly smaller than the country of Cyprus, has 150km of wild coastline andtwo national parks, but only 10,000 people.

It wasone of only two districts in New Zealand where the population declined in the year to June. Buller's populationfell by 0.3 per cent, behind only Waitomo, which had a0.9 per cent decline.

According toa Development West Coast report, Buller's GDP fell 44 per cent with the loss of nearly 1500 jobsand500 people since 2012.


Westport's main street - Palmerston St. Jobs have gone, businesses closed.

The downturn has been greatly influenced by the closure of Holcim'scement plant near Westport andchanges in the coal mining industry, including the collapse of Solid Energy and fluctuating international coal prices.

READ MORE:*Why did West Coast plans for a waste-to-energy plant fail?*West Coast ports pin hopes on Government funding for survival*Residents of Westport on the West Coast warned lives could be lost in major flood*Buller Mayor Garry Howard's mission to resurrect the economy*Westport campaign attracts home buyers

The latest economic update from Development West Coast showed the district's GDPfell5.7 per cent (to$28m) in 2018, when 209 jobs were lost, 30 businesses closed and house prices dropped 3.1 per cent.

Westport, located on the banks of themighty Buller River, is home to about 5000 people half of the district's population.


At 80, former mayor Pat O'Deaisstill runninga fruit and vegetable shop on the main street. He has lived in Westport all his life, served as mayor for 21 years, andhas seenmany changes.


There are lots of houses and sections for sale in Buller, which has some of the lowest house prices in New Zealand.

"We lost the Denniston mines [in 1967],since then we've lost police stations, post offices, we've lost the Karamea dairy company.

"We lostPDL[a Christchurch-based electrical goods manufacturer that shut its Westport factory in 1988], which wasone of the major employers of women, we lostrailway workshops, Ministryof Works, the harbourworkshops, andit just goes on and on.

"The outlook is not good because of the Governmentattitudeto the West Coast."

O'Dea blames successive Governments for the district's decline. Starting with the loss of native logging in 2000 and continuing throughto the Government's decision to stop a new mine opening in Bullerlastyear, which would have created 60 jobs, O'Dea believes West Coasters have had it tough.


Former Buller mayor Pat O'Dea, a lifelong West Coaster, has seen many changes in the district.

The loss of Holcim cement in 2016 was a big blow to the town, cutting 120 jobs.

"If you go down the street nowyou will see a lot of shops closed and a lot of people had to move away. Most of the business in town ... would be putting on abrave face but most would be struggling to makeends meet.

"I'm here just because I enjoy doing it it gets me out of bed in the morning. As for making any money, I can tell you if I am breaking even I'd be lucky."

He saidbusinesses are struggling since the downturn because people have less money in their pockets. Some homes across the districtlookshabby or are falling down because people simply don't have enough money to maintain them, or because they'veleft the district to find work elsewhere and have struggled to sell.

"People seem to have lost the will to fightthey just go from day to day.

"People want to move but they can't because they can't sell their properties. Things like that are just a continuation of the downward thrust.

"If we had confidence that the mines that are proposed could go ahead, then the boost would be enormous."

O'Dea saidthe former National Government paid $5000 to people on the doleto move to the regions from Aucklandto solve the city's housing crisis, but that brought social issues like crime and drugs to Buller, as well as putting a squeeze onthe rental market.

The average house price in Buller is$182,150, much lower than the national average of $630,000, as of November 2019. On Trade Me, there were 339 homes listed for sale in Buller, compared to 198 in Grey and 136 in Westland. Buller had no rentals listed in August, and only 13 by December.


Buller is one of only two districts in New Zealand to have a population decline.


Stuffspoke to several people who declined to be named or photographed but said life was tough in Westport.

A solo father saidhe had been unable to find work since moving to Buller in 2014 and had struggled to find a rental for himself and his son.

Many houses werefor sale and were lying empty because people who had moved out of the district for work did not want to pay to upgrade the properties under the new insulation rules.

The man said some families had to livein a holiday park. He believed the cost of groceries and petrol (which was more than $2.50 for a litre of 91 just before Christmas) made itimpossible to surviveon only abenefit.

"There's no money here. Unless you want to retire, you own your own business, or you have a job up the hill, there's no point in coming here. There's nothing here."

Another man, who lived in a caravan, said he could only findseasonal fishing work butdid not want to move away because his children lived in Westport with their mother.


People just "go from day to day" in the Buller district.

Newly-elected mayor Jamie Cleine said the rise of Airbnb could have contributed to the lack of rentals in Buller.

He hadbeen told by the Ministry of Social Development that 18 people were living in motels or holiday parks, most single men.

The Westport fish processing factory owned by Talley's needs about 30 more employees but has struggled to find people because there is no accommodation for them.

"We have identified the issue and as a council weare working to find solutions. We're talking about maybe freeing up some land and talking to developers who might be able to build some workers accommodation or social housing."

Cleine said the economy had "bottomed out" but he believed it wason the way back up. Several big projects under way wouldbring employment and tourists to the district, such asthe new $10 million Kawatiri Heritage Trail, the new $20m health centre, the newly-opened Paparoa Track and the already popular Old Ghost Road track.

Mining GDPhad fallen 21 per cent, but tourism had grown 22 per cent, albeit with lower paid jobs.


Westport residents Lynn and Glenn Irving with their daughter Roz. They've lived there through the bad times. "We've had to say goodbye to a lot of friends that's been quite hard."

While a lower socio-economic group did exist in Buller along withsome "old stock" housing that needed to be demolished, Cleine said there were plenty of people doing well, building new homes and enjoying life in the district.


Lynn and Glenn Irving moved to Westport in 2000 when veterinarian Lynn got a job at Buller Vets. They left to see the world between 2004 and 2007, but returned andbought land in 2010 where they built a home overlooking the Buller River to raise their two children in.

Originally from South Africa, Lynn Irving studied in Wellington before moving to Westport.

"A lot of my classmates said 'why Westport?' It's the landscape that draws me to this place. It's so dramatic.

"I love the weather, the mountain backdrop, the sea, the river, the smells and the sounds of the birds and the cicadas. I've grown to love the community," she said.

Glenn Irving, an engineer originally from Christchurch, began working for Solid Energy "up the hill" in Stockton when it employed 1500 and was expanding its footprint into Happy Valley in 2007.

People who had never had a job before, or were on the dole, were paid $25 an hourto pick up endangered snails to move them from the valley before mining began. Everyone had money and the town was booming, he said.


More than 300 homes are for sale in the Buller district.

Like other people who have left the mining industry, Glenn has reinvented himself several times in order to remain employed in Westport. He managed the recreation centre for seven years and now works as a contractor for the Buller District Council.

"As someone who has lived here through the bad times, we've had to say goodbye to a lot of friends that's been quite hard.

"We're now left with a good core of people who have decided to stay because they like living here and want to make it a better place to be," he said.

He has given back to the community through his work with the Buller Cycling Club and the Love Kawatiri promotions group and saysit isthe people and landscape that make Westport a great place to live andraise children.

"I couldn't think of a better place for children to grow up in. They love being in the river, they love riding their bikes on the tracks, they love exploring the bush.

"It's only a two-minute drive to get anywhere we don't spend time in traffic jams. I think that's one of the things I appreciate most," he said.



Waimangaroa fire chief Lynn Brooks says a major recruitment drive now means the town has one firefighter for every 10 homes in the village.

About 16 kilometresnorth of Westport lies Waimangaroa (or Waimang as the locals call it) a once bustling settlement at the foot of the famous Denniston Incline. Since 2012, it has lost its pub, school, shop, post office, petrol station, playgroup andsports teams.

The last community stronghold was its fire station. Fire chief Lynn Brooks said the once overflowing fire brigade was struggling for volunteers.

"It's been like a creeping death really. Everything quietly closing and before you know it things are changing and families aren't the same. We couldn't get a crew when we needed one. It was really hard."

She said it was only through a major recruitment push, and continuing to nurture the cadets programme, that they had been able to grow volunteer numbers to 15 one firefighterfor every 10 houses in Waimangaroa.

Brooks, and a small group of locals, have come up with a plan for a "little town heart" or a community garden andwalkway to keep visitors there longer on their way to Denniston or Karamea.

"I've looked around a lot and I just really like the village. We have the beautiful beach and river right here and the bush behind. That's my backyard. It's so amazing.


Waimangaroa coffee cart owner Bev Morrow says there's a "buzz" in the village now.

"The lifestyle on the Coast is really special. We've been through quite a lull but I feel like we're coming out the other side of it now. Things are looking brighter."

Bev Morrow has lived in the village for 35 years and her children were educated atWaimangaroa School, which closed its doors after 133 years with only 13 pupils remaining in 2012.

"The falling dairy payout was a big one. Lots of farmers laid off their workers and did the work themselves that was quite sad actually.

"When it all started to fall over, peoplewere left with high mortgages and not being able to rent them out or sell them. People were walking away from houses and going off to find work to pay the mortgage here and the rent where they were."

She said losing the shop and post office in 2017 was the last straw for the community. Without a meeting place, the community was losing its soul.


Some houses in the Buller district are in dire need of renovation - or demolition.

"I just didn't want to see our town die. It was dying. There was nowhere for people to meet and greet."

She decided to open up a coffee cart justoff State Highway 67 and has been doing a roaring trade with tourists, locals and miners on their way to Stockton mine, which still employs more than 200 people.

"My local support has been magnificent... People come here and have a cup of tea and talk about what's happening.I feel such a buzz in ourtown and it is exciting."


Waimangaroa, just north of Westport, has lost its garage, school, pub, shop, sports teams and post office over the last decade.


Bottomed out: Can Buller on the West Coast claw itself back? -

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Monsoon decided history of Indian subcontinent: study – The Hindu

Posted: December 25, 2019 at 6:49 am

Deficient rainfall led to the collapse of the Mansabdari system, started by Mughal emperor Akbar, in the late 17th century. Similarly, drought interspersed with violent monsoon rains sounded the death knell for the Khmer empire of south-east Asia in the 15th century.

A recent study by researchers at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IIT-KGP) has revealed that abrupt changes in the Indian monsoon in the last 900 years decided the course of human history in the subcontinent. A paper titled Abrupt changes in Indian summer monsoon strength during the last 900 years and their linkages to socio-economic conditions in the Indian subcontinent by Anil K. Gupta, professor at the geology and geophysics department of IIT-KGP, highlights that decline of Indian dynasties was linked to weak monsoon and reduced food production.

Several dynasties, such as the Sena in Bengal, Solanki in Gujarat in the mid-13th century and Paramara and Yadav in the early to mid-14th century all of which flourished during abundant rainfall declined during the dry phases of Indian summer monsoon (ISM), suggesting role of the climate in the socio-political crisis, the study revealed.

The paper published in international journal PALEO 3 highlights three phases in the 900-year stretch Medieval Climate Anomaly from 950 CE to 1350 CE, Little Ice Age from 1350 CE to 1800 CE and Current Warm Period from 1800 CE till today. The paper highlights strong monsoon during Medieval Climate Anomaly and Current Warm Period and phases of weak and strong monsoon in Little Ice Age.

There can be no doubting the profound impact of the abrupt shifts of rainfall on human history a fact we need to constantly remind ourselves in this day and age of irretrievable climate change. Abrupt shifts in the ISM precipitation has similarly impacted history in India, Prof. Gupta said.

For the study on long-term spatio temporal variability of the ISM, a group of researchers, which also included experts from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, looked at palaeoclimatic records using oxygen isotope proxy record from speleothems (a structure formed in a cave by deposition of minerals from water) at the Wah Shikar cave in Meghalaya.

We took samples from every half millimetre or sometimes even one-third of a mm, and we dated using uranium-thorium time series. Such fine sampling of less time interval means we were covering data at two-three years interval while most researches collect data at 20-30 years interval. We even captured the drought events of last few centuries, Prof Gupta said. The results showed abrupt shifts in the ISM, he added.

For more recent phases of human history the study suggests that from the beginning of the 19 century, the changes in the ISM became more abrupt with a rise in atmospheric temperature that coincides with the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

An increase in the frequency of abrupt shifts in the ISM during the last three centuries, coincidental with a rise in atmospheric temperature, suggests occurrence of more climatic surprises in future consequent to future rise in the global temperature and subsequently more precipitation in the form of rain at higher altitudes. the paper said.

Prof. Gupta said that they were doing similar work extending their Palaeoclimatic study to 6000 years ago to see the impact of climate change on Indus Valley civilization and on population migrations.

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Tunisia marks anniversary of revolution as it grapples with socio-economic woes – The Arab Weekly

Posted: at 6:49 am

TUNIS - Tunisia on December 17 commemorated the start of the uprising that toppled President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, with recently elected Tunisian President Kais Saied vowing to honour the demands of the revolution.

Saied, an academic with no prior political experience, recorded a landslide election victory in October. He has made few public statements since taking office.

However, he made an unannounced visit to Sidi Bouzid, where the first protests of Tunisias uprising erupted, and promised to realise the key demands of the revolution freedom, work and dignity within the framework of the constitution and within legitimacy.

I will work to honour your demands, he told a crowd in Sidi Bouzid.

Though Saied spoke of the political will to resolve many of the countrys problems and meet the demands of the people, he did not present programmes to achieve the goal. He promised to return to the region when funds are allocated for development programmes.

Tunisians expressed their frustration with promises, demanding action to save the country from economic collapse. The despair was noted during parliamentary and presidential election campaigns this year, with voters pushing for change and attempting to create a new political reality.

A recent poll by Sigma Conseil said more than 80% of Tunisian respondents said the country was going in the wrong direction. It showed, however, the president to be the most trusted public figure.

Saied announced in Sidi Bouzid that December 17 would be a national holiday. Tunisia already marks January 14, the date Ben Ali was deposed, as a holiday.

Ben Ali died in September in Saudi Arabia at the age of 83.

Protests broke out December 17, 2010, after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire to protest police harassment. Since then, the Sidi Bouzid region has experienced further unrest fuelled by unemployment and poverty.

In December, protests broke out in the region after the death of a 25-year-old man who set himself on fire in the impoverished town of Jelma in desperation over his economic situation.

While Tunisia has been praised as a model of democratic transition, wealth and control of the economy remain concentrated in the hands of a small group against a background of regional imbalances, slow economic growth and a large informal sector.

Deteriorating living standards and rising prices are causing increasing atrophy of the middle class. The country is grappling with an inflation rate of more than 6% and the unemployment rate stands at more than 15%, with nearly double that rate among youth and women.

The countrys government has been in limbo since Octobers legislative elections as Prime Minister-designate Habib Jemli struggled to put together a coalition government that could win parliamentary approval.

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Heat the Arctic to cool the Earth, scientists say – Eco-Business

Posted: at 6:49 am

With politicians failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions far and fast enough, the only hope may be to find a different way to cool the planet. One group of researchers has put forward an idea so different that critics may regard it as outlandish: heat the Arctic.

To heat the Arctic so much that the sea ice disappears even in the winter sounds like a weird idea. But the researchers believe it would have the beneficial effect of cooling the planet down.

They argue that with the Arcticice already expected to disappear during the summer months within the next 30 years, and large increases in temperature and changes in the polar climate already certain, we should turn this radical shift to our advantage.

Their point is that since, at the current rate of progress, politicians seem unlikely to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to prevent drastic temperature rise, humankind must find other ways to cool the Earth if it is to survive.

Heating the planet in order to cool it is certainly counter-intuitive. But, whether or not the scheme could ever work, it shows the ingenuity and enterprise now being poured into stabilising global temperatures close to their historic level.

It also, of course, shows how horribly late we have left it to rein in the climate crisis, when wise and determined action 30 years ago could have achieved so much.

Climate change is a major issue and all options should be considered when dealing with it.

Julian Hunt, postdoctoral research scholar, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

The idea proposed is, in principle, simple enough: to ensure thatthe warm currents of the Gulf Stream, known by science as the North Atlantic Oscillation(NAO) continue northwards across the Arctic Circle the whole year round. This would release massive amounts of heat from the ocean into the atmosphere and beyond that into space, so cooling the sea and ultimately the Earth.

The Arctic Ocean ice cover works as a strong insulator, impeding the heat from the ocean below to warm up the atmosphere above. If this ice layer were however removed, the atmosphere would increase in temperature by around 20C during the winter.

This increase in temperature would in turn increase the heat irradiated into space, thus cooling down the oceans, explains the lead author of the study which details the proposal, published in the journalSN Applied Sciences. He isJulian Hunt, a postdoctoral research scholar at IIASA, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

The problem that needs to be overcome is that very cold and only mildly salty water currently floats on the surface of the Arctic Ocean, freezing in the winter and capturing the warmth of the water in the ocean depths.

The authors say the main factor helping to maintain the Arctic sea ice cover is the fact that the top 100 metres of the ocean is less saline than the Atlantic, preventing the Atlantic from flowing above the cold Arctic waters. Increasing the salinity of the Arctic Oceans surface, they say, would let the warmer and less salty North Atlantic current flow over it, warming the atmosphere considerably and releasing the ocean heat trapped under the ice.

They suggest three ways to keep fresh water out of the Arctic. The first would divert the big rivers of North America and Siberia southwards to prevent them draining into the polar ocean. The second would place submerged obstructions in front of the rapidly melting Greenland glaciers, to slow the speed of the ice sheets melting, while the third would use a solar- and wind-powered icebreaker to pump cold, near-fresh water deeper into the ocean to mix with the saltier water below, allowing the warmer currents to sweep in from the south.

Dr Hunt and his colleagues say there could be terrific benefits. Shipping could navigate the ice-free Arctic Ocean all year round, cutting journey times between Asia, Europe and North America. The need for heating homes in the northern hemisphere during the winter would be drastically reduced, because their plan would raise air temperatures by as much as 20C.

But the massive interference with natural systems in the Arctic would also have its downside. The rapid year-round rise in temperature would dramatically increase the melting of Greenland and therefore of sea level rise the world over.The effect on the northern hemisphere climate, particularly much increased rainfall with a warmer sea and atmosphere, is impossible to predict.

But Dr Hunt says that while there are clearly huge risks, the world is already heading for uncharted waters, so humans must do something drastic. Although it is important to mitigate the impacts from climate change with the reduction in CO2 emissions, we should also think of ways to adapt the world to the new climate conditions to avoid uncontrollable, unpredictable and destructive climate change resulting in socio-economic and environmental collapse.

Climate change is a major issue and all options should be considered when dealing with it.

This story was published with permission fromClimate News Network.

We would be grateful if you would consider joining as a member of The EB Circle. This helps to keep our stories and resources free for all, and it also supports independent journalism dedicated to sustainable development. For a small donation of S$60 a year, your help would make such a big difference.

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The populist on the correct turned out to be a keeper – OBN

Posted: at 6:49 am

What defines a decade? The farther youre from a interval, the better its to reply that query in a number of key phrases. Say "the 1930s," and everybody is aware of what you're speaking about: Colijn, National Socialism, Threat of War. The 50s: Drees, frugality, reconstruction. The 90s, that additionally goes nicely: Cook, Third Way, Purple. This is how political historical past canonises.

And the 10s? One factor is for certain: Mark Rutte (VVD) was prime minister for nearly the complete decade. His identify will all the time be linked to this time interval. But additional? What made this decade completely different from the earlier a long time?

Five political scientists do, on the request of NRC, an try. Ask them concerning the political local weather within the Netherlands between 2010 and 2020, and youll hear surprisingly uniform solutions.

The 10s, says Rudy Andeweg, are the years that "alarmist visions" from the previous grew to become true.

The 10s, says Armen Hakhverdian, "were the decade of political fragmentation in the Netherlands."

The 10s, says Sarah de Lange, "have intensified the polarization."

The 10s, says Merijn Oudenampsen, have proven "a shift in political dividing lines."

The 10s, says Cas Mudde, supplied "even more success for far-right parties."

Dutch politics fragmented this decade at a dramatic tempo, say political scientists. The massive center events, who have been all the time in management, have, aside from the VVD, virtually performed out. Social contradictions grew to become bigger. This was, they are saying, to a lesser extent about socio-economic themes, however rather more about id. It was, briefly, the last decade of the cultural battle.

Rudy Andeweg, emeritus professor of political science at Leiden University, quotes PvdA veteran Ed van Thijn. At the tip of the 1960s, he already warned of "fan democracy". He meant that the political extremes would diverge additional and that the center imploded. That pattern may threaten democracy. The Dutch parliamentary system may implode, simply because the Weimar Republic collapsed in Germany in 1933.

Andeweg: Ed van Thijn was far forward of his time. What he was afraid of on the time is now occurring. Middle events are eroded, voters are not loyal to their very own group. They typically severely punish events that do rule. "

"Middle parties are eroded, voters are no longer loyal to their own group"

This "billing culture" has drastically modified the connection between citizen and politics, says Sarah de Lange, extraordinary professor of political science on the University of Amsterdam. The record of punished authorities events is lengthy. The CDA (-20 seats), the PvdA (-3) and the ChristenUnie (-1) seats in 2010. The CDA (-8) and tolerant accomplice PVV (-9) in 2012. The PvdA suffered the largest defeat in 2017 the get together historical past (-29). Only the VVD, who has been supplying the prime minister since 2010, was capable of circumvent this legislation.

There has all the time been division within the Netherlands, says Sarah de Lange. But the character of that division has modified. "People differ less and less on the basis of arguments, as it should be in a healthy democracy, but have come to see each other as moral enemies."

People reject not a lot what somebody finds, however what somebody sees of their eyes. Affective polarization, that's what political scientists name it. This has made politics extra private, says De Lange. At the tip of the last decade, the proportion of people that say they hate different folks for his or her political opinions has risen to the extent of the late 1960s, the post-war peak of social polarization.

What causes that battle? Politicians eagerly quote from the guide The street to someplace concerning the Brexit, by the British journalist David Goodhart. The "anywheres", Are the extremely educated cosmopolitans, whove an curiosity in globalization and mayWebcheres", The losers, who are afraid of change and feel" at residence "somewhere. De Lange: I think that dividing line is too simple. One moment you can be a winner of globalization, for example because you are hiring a cheap Polish plasterer, and the next you can be a loser, because your job is running out, because your company is moving to India. "

According to De Lange, its extra about the perception that people have of their own lives: did they consider themselves a winner or loser? People asked that question about the major crises of this decade: the economic crisis, the refugee crisis and the climate crisis.

Political scientist Merijn Oudenampsen, now working on the University of Amsterdam, obtained his PhD final 12 months on the University of Tilburg for the concepts behind the Fortuyn revolt of 2002. For a very long time, he says, political conflicts have been primarily socio-economic: for instance, the distribution of wealth . That battle has pale into the background and has been changed by a cultural battle.

It began within the aftermath of Purple II (1998-2002), with the rise of Pim Fortuyn. The distinction between left and proper watered down. The Third Way the PvdA embraced resembled the VVD market capitalism in follow. Because political battle wants, says Merijn Oudenampsen, the controversy slowly however absolutely shifted to different subjects. "From that time it was about the multicultural society or Islam."

The 2015 refugee disaster strengthened this pattern, says Cas Mudde, professor on the University of Georgia. "In extra nations, together with in Central and Eastern Europe, the unconventional right-wing folks grew to become frames dominant. The course of that started within the first decade continued into the second decade. Nowadays, mainstream events, main however not unique proper, not solely wish to restrict immigration and make integration stricter, however they need this explicitly to guard nationwide tradition and safety.

This cultural battle works out nicely for right-wing conservative politicians, says Merijn Oudenampsen. The collapse of the center events within the 10s, particularly the CDA, has triggered a conservative wave. "The CDA united regents and employees, conservatives and progressives. For example, the CDA was for a long time a stronghold against the rise of right-wing populism, while that trend did arise in other European countries. After the collapse of the people's parties, the gap between "folks" and "elite" still arose. "

The populist proper has not solely talked about Islam, as within the years after 9/11. It is now a few repressed common will. Oudenampsen: Thierry Baudet feels the zeitgeist higher than Geert Wilders, who virtually completely turns towards Islam. Baudet's Owl of Minerva speech (after successful the States elections this 12 months), handled the particles of Western civilization. Not solely does he distance himself from migration, he additionally turns towards feminism and modernity, which might weaken the West. "

In the previous few years, local weather has develop into the dominant theme for the populist proper. Oudenampsen: In their criticism, they concentrate on morally high-flying goat wool sock varieties, on the life-style of upper educated folks. "Look: Jesse Klaver is flying too."

This is partly political advertising. If you wish to be politically profitable on this time, you promote financial topics as a cultural battle, says Rudy Andeweg. "The climate debate today is about redistribution: we have to structure the economy differently, and the costs of this end up with citizens. Thierry Baudet made a cultural debate out of it, that was a master move. The debate about Europe shows the same pattern. It should be about the economy, but proponents and opponents talk about it as a cultural project. "

Sarah de Lange says that populist events within the years after Purple gave a voice to discontent that had been round for a while. That's excellent news, she says. But: "The groups that vote for PVV and FVD are also influenced by those parties. Sentiments deepen. For example, a group of voters is drifting further and further away from the rest of the electorate. The polarization has a self-reinforcing effect. "

It is a gentle variant of what has occurred within the United States in recent times. Americans are not political, however socially divided, wrote political scientist Lilliana Mason within the guide final 12 months Uncivil Agreement. Race, place of residence, tradition and faith have develop into figuring out components within the period of "mega identity politics", as she calls it. "American citizens think they are in a struggle for life and death against a socially homogeneous other group."

Democracy, as conservative commentator Charlie Sykes wrote, "has become a binary tribal world." "Everything is at stake: the fate of Western civilization or the survival of the planet. That is why it is all about the victory of the own tribe. "

The left is aware of little to do with the brand new relationships. Left-wing events are divided internally about cultural issues. They dont wish to alienate extra conservative white staff. The SP, and to a lesser extent the PvdA, have subsequently began to make use of stricter language on migration. The progressive vanguard, seen within the anti-racism motion for instance, has remained a small avant-garde.

And in relation to economics, "it is difficult for left-wing parties to deviate from the center-right discourse," says Merijn Oudenampsen. "The financial crisis that started this decade has not led to a real debate. In the Netherlands left and right hold each other when it comes to the economy. Although Western left parties no longer strive for a balanced budget, the PvdA still has it in the last election program. Internationally, everything is shifting on the left. Capitalism is under discussion everywhere. But in the Netherlands there is hardly any commotion. "

And what concerning the "economism" of Jesse Klaver (GroenLinks)? Or VVD get together chairman Klaas Dijkhoff and his CDA colleague Pieter Heerma, who wished to speak concerning the excesses of capitalism? It was largely "witness politics," says Oudenampsen. It by no means grew to become concrete. That lies, he says, on the Central Planning Bureau, which calculates and rejects applications and counter-budgets, thus blocking new concepts. "But it is also because new economic ideas would mean that we will mess around with the structure of all institutions."

And massive reforms, Dutch politicians hate that: manner too difficult. Rather than cultural coverage, thats solely symbolic. Oudenampsen: "Thierry Baudet could consistently say:" We are being undermined by our universities. "But then (SP leader) Emile Roemer in 2012"about my useless physique"When it came to budgetary policy, it immediately disqualified him for government participation."

Dutch democracy, the political scientists say, has however carried out its dampening work. Cabinets fell, however the system by no means wavered, not like different Western nations. According to Sarah de Lange, the fragmentation and tribalization of politics generally triggered voters to vote extra strategically. "In this way, left-wing voters gave the PvdA a big victory in 2012, because they did not want the VVD to win the elections."

Armen Hakhverdian, political scientist on the University of Amsterdam, says that the 10s confirmed a serious democratic decline worldwide. "About ten years in the past we skilled a peak in democratization. Since then, a setback has been set in movement, significantly in main democracies such because the US, India and Brazil. It doesn't occur with coups. But within the US youll be able to see how democracy is being killed in small steps, for instance by the best way by which constituencies are redesigned.

The Netherlands has escaped the wave of authoritarianism, says Hakhverdian. Paradoxically, exactly as a result of the political panorama was so fragmented. "As a result, voters are much less blind to the shortcomings of their get together. They can change to a like-minded get together. Moreover, the ability is not concentrated with one get together. Seen from that perspective, fragmentation is one blessing in disguise proved: the worldwide anti-democratic pattern has largely ignored the Netherlands. "

"The international anti-democratic trend has largely ignored the Netherlands"

According to Armen Hakhverdian, the truth that Mark Rutte has been the undisputed prime minister in such a divided nation since 2010, thus making certain stability, is "the great mystery of our time." "Somewhere its sometimes Dutch: weve got solely had 4 prime ministers within the final 35 years. They don't normally polarize, is the concept, and are normally discovered sympathetic. Rutte additionally has such a realistic picture. That is unusual, says Hakhverdian. Behind the coverage of the Rutte cupboards was an ideology, that of neo-liberalism.

Other political scientists additionally dont have any reply as to why its Mark Rutte who has dominated this decade. Rudy Andeweg: Rutte is a technocratic director within the custom of Kok and Lubbers. He depolitizes the controversy. That works out nicely for Rutte, however he has contributed to the gradual weakening of the political heart. Coalition companions are eaten. The CDA and the PvdA are removed from that blow. "

The recognition of Rutte, and the steadiness of the VVD, are each finite, says Armen Hakhverdian: "The Netherlands has long premierships that always end dramatically for the largest government party. The CDA after Lubbers, the PvdA after Kok and again the CDA after Balkenende all collapsed at the end of their reign. "It could be a singular achievement if Rutte and the VVD may evade this within the subsequent decade."


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Russia’s New Su-57 Stealth Fighter Is Back in Action in Syria – The National Interest Online

Posted: December 19, 2019 at 5:43 pm

The Russian air force deployed Su-57 stealth fighters to Syria a second time since first deploying them to the war-torn country in February 2018.

But that doesnt mean the twin-engine Su-57 is any closer to being ready for mass production, to say nothing of its readiness for full-scale warfare against a high-tech foe.

The Russian militarys chief of the general staff Valery Gerasimov announced the deployment in mid-December 2019, according to TASS.

"The fifth-generation Su-57 aircraft is being tested, Gerasimov said. They were re-tested in Syria, during which all the planned tasks were successfully completed."

But its unclear what those tasks might have been. The Su-57s first deployment to Syria apparently did not involve any actual combat. Its possible the 2019 deployment didnt, either.

The two T-50s that took part in the 2018 deployment appeared in Syria along with a Russian air force A-50 radar plane, four Su-25 attack planes and four Su-35s fighters. The warplanes arrived in Syria following weeks of intensive airstrikes by Russian planes targeting areas controlled by anti-regime rebels in Idlib and East Ghouta.

U.S. and coalition forces monitoring the air space over Syria reacted with caution. The Su-57s presence certainly raises the level of complexity the crews have to deal with out there, Air Combat Command Commander Holmes said, according to a tweet from Aviation Week reporter Lara Seligman.

But the coalition also seemed to acknowledge the limited combat potential that just two warplanes represented, regardless of their stealth qualities. The presence of any new Russian aircraft in the region does not affect coalition operations, nor do we see this as a danger to coalition aircraft, a coalition spokesperson stated.

In deploying Su-57s, the Kremlin was outright gambling with precious prototypes and their pilots lives, according to Tom Cooper, an aviation expert and author. The Su-57 was then, and remains, a prototype fighter.

The Russian air force possesses just a dozen or so of the type, which flew for the first time in 2010 but has suffered from a dearth of funding and the collapse of a co-development deal with India.

As of early 2018, the Su-57 possessed inadequate and incomplete sensors, incomplete fire-control systems and self-protection suites, no operational integrated avionics and ... unreliable engines, Cooper noted.

The plane had conducted hardly any weapons-separation testing and lacked any other operational weapons beside its 30-millimeter internal cannon. Worse, the aircraft were flown by pilots who lack any kind of doctrine or tactics for the type and who cannot really depend upon the planes avionics and other systems, according to Cooper.

Shortly following the 2018 deployment, the Kremlin suspended production of the Su-57 after the 28th copy, effectively canceling the program. Russian president Vladimir Putin dramatically revived the program in mid-2019, announcing a plan to buy an additional 48 copies.

The Kremlin ordered its first dozen production-standard Su-57s in August 2018, hoping to form the first regular squadron some time in 2019.

Turkey later expressed interest in buying the type after its insistence on acquiring Russian-made air-defense systems got it kicked out of the American-led F-35 program. Moscow has touted the United Arab Emirates as another potential buyer. These possible sales obviously incentivize Russia to portray the Su-57 as an operational warplane.

But for all the drama of its de facto cancelation then restart and for all the talk of exports, the Su-57 program remains under-funded and under-developed. Its one thing for Russia to announce an order for 48 more of the fighters. Its another for the government actually to pay for the planes, and for Sukhoi actually to build them.

It's unclear how much the Su-57's development has cost so far, how much the program would need to complete development and how much each production-standard plane would set back Russian taxpayers. The U.S. military spent more than $60 billion acquiring around 180 F-22s and expects to spend $400 billion buying some 2,300 F-35s.

But the Su-57 undoubtedly is expensive. And time is running out for the Russian air force to integrate the type into its force structure. The "fifth-generation" stealth fighter began development in the early 2000s, but its fortunes are tied to the Kremlin's 2009 defense strategy, which aimed to reverse years of budget cuts and declining military readiness.

In May 2009, Dmitriy Medvedev, then Russia's president, announced a new national security strategy through the year 2020. The strategy praised former, and future, president Putin for leading Russia out of its "political and socio-economic systemic crisis" and anticipated that Russia would "consolidate its influence in the world arena" as a leading political and economic power.

"Unprecedented" new spending backed up the new strategy, according to the 2017 edition of the International Institute for Strategic Studies' "The Military Balance" report. "The proportion of military spending increased when measured against GDP, placing Russia in a small group of nations spending over five percent of GDP on defense."

"After almost two decades of deterioration and neglect of the Russian military, Moscow began developing a more modern military force capable of power projection outside Russias borders," the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency reported in 2017.

The spending supported five fighter production lines -- one producing the Su-57, three making variants of the Su-27 including the Su-30, the Su-34 and the Su-35 and a fifth manufacturing versions of the MiG-29. Russian air arms received around 200 new and upgraded aircraft in 2017, another 100 in 2018 and around 130 in 2019. By comparison, the U.S. armed forces ordered more than 400 new aircraft in 2018 alone.

An economic downturn, which shaved nearly four percent off of GDP in 2015, forced Moscow to reconsider its priorities. "In preparing the 2016 budget, there was clear awareness that this level of spending could not be sustained," IISS reported.

A few years of higher spending had a dramatic effect on the Russian air force. "Substantial deliveries of new frontline aircraft, and their intensive use in Syria, have given the Russian air force an entirely new public face in a short period of time," analyst Keir Giles wrote in a 2017 report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"Optimistic Russian commentators, comparing their airpower specifically with that of the United States, note approximate quantitative parity with the U.S. Air Force," Giles continued.

In fact, the DIA estimated in 2017 that Russian air arms maintained just 1,000 tactical aircraft. At the same time, the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps between them possessed more than 3,000 fighters, including hundreds of F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters.

To support the 2009 strategy, the Kremlin needed to acquire 1,000 new airplanes and helicopters by 2020, the DIA estimated. Deepening budget cuts could force the Russian armed forces to make do with far fewer new aircraft. The same cash-crunch could weigh on plans to buy scores of Su-57s, and bodes poorly for the types development into a fully combat-capable warplane.

In light of the difficulties the Su-57 program faces, the purported second Syria deployment likely achieved as much as the 2018 deployment did. Nothing much.

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is theauthor of the graphic novelsWar Fix,War Is BoringandMachete Squad.


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Indian Economy is Performing Well | Devsena Mishra – The Times of Israel

Posted: at 5:43 pm

A prosperous India is crucial for a prosperous World. After an unprecedented mandate to the Modi government in 2019 elections (consecutively for the second time), the expectations and hopes from India, both at the domestic and global levels have risen to a new scale. Some discussions around the Indian economy and fluctuations in its GDP growth rate are going on. But according to the IMFs latest estimates, amid the global environment of uncertainty, India retains its rank as the worlds fastest-growing major economy, with a projected growth rate of 6.1 percent for the current fiscal year. The World Economic Outlook report released by IMF in October projected the Indian economy to again pick up a 7 percent growth rate in 2020. India is the worlds third-largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) next after China and the USA and the fifth largest country in terms of nominal GDP rankings.

It is interesting that some business and media experts in India are criticizing the government for the things like quarterly fluctuations in the GDP growth rate, slowdown in the auto industry (which is the result of a shift in buying patterns of consumers globally), and Job creation (while some 80-85% of Indians are self-employed), on top of that some regular worrisome comments of ex financial authorities/advisors are catching the front headlines. Most interesting of these comments came from a former Union Finance Minister of India, P Chidambaram (who is out on a bail on some high profile corruption charges) in a press conference he said: Government is clueless on economy; it is stubborn, mulish in defending catastrophic mistakes like demonetization, flaw GST. He recently penned an opinion article that concluded with the statement that Indias economy is being run without the aid and advice of competent economists. And Running an economy without reputed economists and through incompetent managers is the same. By making this argument, former Finance Minister of India has made it necessary to have a quick overview of what was the scenario of the Indian economy when these reputed economists were in charge.

Ten years long UPA (United Progressive Alliance- a coalition of left and centre-left political parties in India) rule is often remembered as one of the worst periods in the economic history of India and some people called that era (2004-14) a decade of economic destruction of the country. According to the contemporary articles of S Gurumurthy, an eminent economist and present part-time Director of Reserve Bank of India during the UPA tenure, the current account deficit topped $360 billion, and it knocked off the value of Indian rupee by almost half. In 2004 when the UPA government started the rupee was 45 to a dollar and it fell to almost Rs 68 to a dollar by August 2013. Moreover from 2009 to 2014 when UPA-II was in power, the average rate of inflation in the country was 10.4%. A series of high profile corruption cases and mega scams had put the Indian economy on the verge of internal and external bankruptcy.

During that time, India was one of the members of the Fragile Five club and the global sentiment was that the I in the BRICS would soon collapse. In the article UPA policies weakening India and enriching China published in August 2013, Gurumurthy wrote: Who gained from Indias loss? Not America, nor England, Germany, France, Japan, or Russia countries friendly to India. It is China. He referred that the UPA was the architect of the huge deficit syndrome with China and further the trade deficit with China ($175 billion) weakens the Indian Rupee and Indian economy and strengthens the Chinese economy, which was a big economic and geopolitical blunder of the UPA government.

It is quite evident that the reputed economist under a failed leadership cannot do a miracle for the economy but the so-called incompetent managers under a visionary leadership can certainly turn all the negatives into positives. Today, the overall picture of the Indian economy is positive and its fundamentals are stronger than ever. India has a continuing and fiscally responsible government, and in the last five years all macro-economic parameters i.e. inflation, current account deficit, fiscal deficit, etc. have been brought down to satisfactory levels. The way India has kept the inflation under control while maintaining a high growth rate is an example for many developing countries of the world.

A country which was plagued by reform inertia and policy paralysis for decades has seen some of the most bold moves in a span of just five years such as Demonetization, Goods and Services Tax (GST), Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), FDI-related reforms, simplification of labor laws, lowering of taxes, EODB reforms, reforms in the power sector, asset monetization and asset recycling in public sector, reforms in banking, insurance, and pension, etc., there is no sector of the Indian economy where the reforms are not introduced.

The socio-economic reforms of the Modi government and the Speed and Scale at which they are planned and executed reflect that the goal of the Bharat is not merely to survive but to thrive on every sphere.

Bharat is going to become the third-largest economic power, in the coming few years and the five trillion dollar economy goal (by 2024-25) would be the first milestone that it has to achieve.

Economic growth and development of any democracy do not depend on the government alone, from industry to society to common man, everyone plays an active role in it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi perfectly summarized the current scenario of India when in a recent investors meet he said: Today, the growth vehicle in India is running on 4 Wheels with new thinking and a new approach. One Wheel is Society, which is aspiring. The second Wheel is Government, which is Encouraging for New India. The third Wheel is that of Industry, which is daring and the fourth Wheel is of Knowledge, which is sharing. Thus, on these 4 wheels, we are moving at a fast pace.

One of the least discussed facts on Indias real GDP growth is the trajectory of its fastest-growing cities. According to the report of the research institute Oxford Economics (published in 2018), all the top 10 fastest-growing cities by GDP between 2018 and 2035 will be in India. These top 10 vibrant cities of India are- Surat, Agra, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Tiruppur, Rajkot, Tiruchirappalli, Chennai, and Vijayawada.

The first paragraph of the Indian Constitution starts with the line India, that is Bharat and today this statement can be seen as an interesting reference point to examine the shift in the approach to the economic growth of the country. From 2014, India is working with the perspective of Bharat, and an aspirational Bharat is emerging, whose foundation is stronger than ever.

Devsena Mishra promotes advanced technologies, startup ecosystems and Indian governments business and technology related initiatives like Digital India, Make in India and Startup India etc. through her portals, articles, videos, and books.

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