Kashmir outposts divided over status changeNEW DELHI: India’s move to carve up Kashmir and curtail its autonomous powers has caused division and anger in parts of the far-flung Himalayan region even as followers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejoice. Since Modi’s shock decree last week, protests and celebrations in many towns have widened religious fault lines between communities in the strategic region. International focus has remained on the Kashmir valley, where tens of thousands of troops have enforced a lockdown and cut off phone lines and internet connections to head off opposition to the government move.But tensions have spread to other parts of the state, which will be cut in two under the new administrative arrangements. In remote Ladakh, perched on a steep mountain border with China, the region’s Buddhist minority welcomed Modi’s decision to split the territory from the Muslim-majority valley.“Ladakh has finally gained freedom,” exclaimed … [Read more...] about Kashmir outposts divided over status change
Kashmiri Hindus dream of going homeNEW DELHI: Utpal Kaul, a Hindu, has dreamt of returning to his lakeside property and peach orchard in Kashmir ever since he fled the Muslim-dominated valley three decades ago in fear of his life. It seemed like an impossible hope — until last week, when India’s Hindu-nationalist government dramatically revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special autonomy, paving the way for the 67-year-old to finally go home. “I never thought I will see this day in my lifetime,” Kaul told AFP as he broke down in tears at his house in New Delhi.“I may be physically here but my heart is in Kashmir.” The historian was among around 200,000 Hindus who fled the Kashmir Valley after an insurgency against Indian rule erupted in 1989.Known as Kashmiri Pandits, they resettled in the Hindu-dominated southern part of the state, Jammu, and other parts of India. Many thought they would never be able to return. The scrapping of Article 370 — … [Read more...] about Kashmiri Hindus dream of going home
Five million Palestinians deserve betterUNITED NATIONS: An old adage passed on by veteran UN staff to younger recruits is, “Do nothing whenever possible. It’s safer.” For a junior officer that might indeed be career-enhancing. But — in the face of persistent hostility from the US and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s friends around the world — for the secretary-general of the UN, or even the commissioner general of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), it is a recipe for disaster. And sometimes doing a little is even worse.Antonio Guterres announced the appointment of Christian Saunders as deputy commissioner general of UNRWA but the U.N secretary-general failed to explain what had happened to Saunders’ predecessor, Sandra Mitchell, let alone the chain of circumstances that led to her departure. Saunders is experienced and well-respected, but making him deputy commissioner general … [Read more...] about Five million Palestinians deserve better
Is India on track to beat the perfect storm?NEW DELHI: “The Perfect Storm” was a dire prediction that by 2030, food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources together with climate change would threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration from worst-affected regions. It is a term coined a decade back in 2009 by Sir John Beddington, the United Kingdom’s then Chief Scientific Adviser. But in 2019 the prediction seems to be a real possibility — particularly for developing countries. The current drive for a food- and nutrition-secure world, as well as the vision of feeding an estimated global population of 10 billion in 2050, is held hostage today by the unsustainable nexus between agriculture, water and energy. This is all further exacerbated by the climate emergency upon us.“We have, over the years, tended to overuse both water and energy in agricultural operations, practices that are now at odds with the … [Read more...] about Is India on track to beat the perfect storm?
75 years ago, Paris freed from Nazi occupationPARIS: In August 1944 ordinary Parisians rose up, led by resistance fighters supported by workers, women and even priests to throw off the Nazi yoke after four years. Following six days of street clashes, random attacks and armed barricades, they were joined by French and US soldiers and victory was confirmed. “Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred!” General Charles de Gaulle declared outside the city hall on August 25.“But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself. Liberated by its people.” Almost bypassed?The landing of tens of thousands of American, British and Canadian troops on the beaches of Normandy on June 6 launched the final pushback against Adolf Hitler’s forces. After being bogged down in Normandy for weeks, the Allies were finally able to advance eastwards, taking Orleans and Chartres, south of Paris, on August 17.They planned to head straight for the German border without a detour to the capital … [Read more...] about 75 years ago, Paris freed from Nazi occupation