Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

21
Jan

By STEVEN RATTNER

As recently as 2006, when I first visited India and China, the economic race was on, with heavy bets being placed on which one would win the developing world sweepstakes.

Many Westerners fervently hoped that a democratic country would triumph economically over an autocratic regime.

Now the contest is emphatically over. China has lunged into the 21st century, while India is still lurching toward it.

That’s evident not just in columns of dry statistics but in the rhythm and sensibility of each country. While China often seems to eradicate its past as it single-mindedly constructs its future, India nibbles more judiciously at its complex history.

Visits to crowded Indian urban centers unleash sensory assaults: colorful dress and lilting chatter provide a backdrop to every manner of commerce, from small shops to peddlers to beggars. That makes for engaging tourism, but not the fastest economic development. In contrast to China’s full-throated, monochromatic embrace of large-scale manufacturing, India more closely resembles a nation of shopkeepers.

To be sure, India has achieved enviable success in business services, like the glistening call centers in Bangalore and elsewhere. But in the global jousting for manufacturing jobs, India does not get its share.

Now, after years of rocketing growth, China’s gross domestic product per capita of $9,146 is more than twice India’s. And its economy grew by 7.7 percent in 2012, while India expanded at a (hardly shabby) 5.3 percent rate. Read more…

Steven Rattner, a long-time Wall Street financier, led the restructuring of the auto industry in 2009 as counselor to the Treasury secretary under the Obama administration.

As published in www.nytimes.com on January 19, 2013 (a version of this article appeared in print on 01/20/2013, on page SR12 of the NewYork edition with the headline: India Is Losing The Race).

18
Jan

By Haizam Amirah-Fernandez, Associate Professor at IE School of Arts & Humanities

Egypt has squandered its constitutional moment and the Muslim Brotherhood has been shown up as a group eager to accumulate power even at the risk of splitting the country down the middle. If a constitution’s quality is gauged according to its capacity to create a consensus, respect diversity and make coexistence easier, it is evident that the recently-adopted one in Egypt is highly deficient and polarising, with the potential to give rise to more problems than it resolves. The methods employed in its drafting and approval deprive Egypt of the hope of acquiring political stability and of allowing its economy to take off in the short and medium terms.

From a short-term point of view, the first six months of the presidency of Mohammed Morsi, the candidate presented by the Freedom and Justice Party –the Muslim Brothers’ political wing–, suggest that the Brotherhood has won all the political battles it has engaged in over the past 22 months. It could be argued that it has been able to consolidate its position as the leading political force of the post-Mubarak era, winning the legislative elections at the beginning of 2012 and then the presidential elections, having dislodged the military from power and drafted a constitution to its own liking and subsequently having it approved in a referendum.

Despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s apparent successes, its leaders rush to acquire and accumulate power has led them to resort to authoritarian means, abruptly pushing aside all those who think differently. This has generated widespread rejection and set against them the rest of non-Islamist political forces, several state institutions, the religious authorities of Al Azhar and the Coptic Churches, in addition to the non-governmental media. Furthermore, several presidential advisors and other high profile personalities have resigned in protest at decisions made by Morsi and his hierarchical superiors within the Brotherhood. Read more…

As published by Real Instituto Elcano on January 18, 2013.

17
Jan

By Mohammed Ayoob

Because of its strategic location between the two twentieth-century centers of Arab power, Egypt and Iraq, Syria has been for many decades a bellwether of Arab politics, viewed widely in the region as the heartland of Arab nationalism. The fact that the first major pan-Arab nationalist party, the Baath, was established in Syria and the leading roleplayed by Syrian (including Lebanese) intellectuals and activists in making pan-Arab ideology popular contributed greatly to this perception.

Moreover, whichever ideological or political trend emerged victorious in Syria came to dominate, more often than not, the Arab political scene. This was true in the 1950s and 1960s during the time of a “cold war” between “revolutionary” military regimes espousing the cause of Arab nationalism and conservative monarchies determined to hold on to their power and privilege. According to one analyst, today’s regional politics are showing signs of a new cold war, “and, once again, that broader conflict is manifesting itself in a struggle for Syria.”

But this new cold war extends beyond the Arab world. Saudi Arabia is being challenged by non-Arab Iran. Also, the ideological lines of conflict are blurry. Arch-conservative Gulf monarchies, steadfastly opposed to democracy in their own countries, support democracy in Syria, along with non-Arab democratic Turkey. Meanwhile, the authoritarian Assad has the support of Iran, whose hybrid political system encompasses both clerical and representative institutions.

Some argue that Iran’s role in the current regional cold war has introduced sectarian (Shia versus Sunni) as well ethnic (Persian versus Arab) divisions into the region. But Tehran supports Assad largely for strategic rather than sectarian (leave alone ethnic) reasons. Syria has been Iran’s only loyal Arab ally, even during the devastating Iran-Iraq War imposed on Iran by Iraq. All other Arab regimes, principally the Gulf monarchs newly flush with petrodollars, not only supported Iraq but largely financed Saddam’s war machine. Equally important, if not more so, is the fact that since the 1980s Syria has been the principal conduit for Iranian military and financial assistance to the Lebanese Hezbollah and, until recently, to Hamas.

The relationship’s economic dimension also is important. Syria has become a crucial economic lifeline for Iran. As one analyst puts it, “As both countries become increasingly isolated from the international community their economic ties have become exceedingly more important.” These ties have included a $10 billion agreement signed just before the Syrian uprising began for the construction of a gas pipeline running though Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and reaching Europe via the Mediterranean. Read more…

Mohammed Ayoob is University Distinguished Professor of International Relations at Michigan State University, and Adjunct Scholar at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

As published by The National Interest on January 16, 2013.

16
Jan

By Jeongwen Chiang

Apple staff welcoming customers in the new Apple store at WangFujin business district in Beijing on October 20, 2012

Apple CEO Tim Cook expects China, the world’s most populous country, to become the No. 1 market for the company.

Equally heavyweight tech companies Google or Facebook can only watch with envy. It is not because of lack of effort that they are nowhere near the success of Apple in China. Their businesses are just too different.

The Chinese government’s tight control on freedom of information flow applies especially to the Internet. Web access is filtered on a regular basis. Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked because the government deems them as potential hot spots for facilitating politically sensitive or socially inappropriate content.

Meanwhile, Google is operational in China but has to route all searches to its Hong Kong site, and the access is often interrupted. So, it is fair to say that the Chinese government is the reason why companies such as Google and Facebook are not doing well in China.

In contrast, Apple mainly sells hardware, so it has not run into any censorship problems.

Chinese consumers love electronic gadgets. Mobile phones are ubiquitous. Apple is doing incredibly well because its products are so much more attractive and pricy. The iPhone quickly become a status symbol product in Chinese social circles since its debut. Likewise, the iPad also joined the must-have list as soon as it was launched.

If someone wants to lubricate his “guanxi” — relationship — with an important person, these two products are often the gift of choice. Before the iPad reached China, a businessman in Shanghai told me that in the back of his car trunk, he had stocked at least 20 iPads, all bought in Hong Kong. “It is the most-loved present for government officials,” he claimed.

The social pressure of having an Apple product is strong, especially as the wealthy elites set the trend. If a middle class Chinese consumer cannot afford an expensive car or watch, sporting an iPhone may be just as good. Even the bad press surrounding Foxconn, the main manufacturer of Apple products, did not make too much of a dent on the company’s sales. Read more…

Jeongwen Chiang is professor of marketing and chair of the department of marketing at China Europe International Business School.

As published in www.cnn.com on January 15, 2013.

15
Jan

The west African nation becomes the eighth country in the last four years alone where Muslims are killed by the west.

By Glenn Greenwald

French troops board a transport plane in N’Djamena, Chad, bound for Mali.

As French war planes bomb Mali, there is one simple statistic that provides the key context: this west African nation of 15 million people is the eighth country in which western powers – over the last four years alone – have bombed and killed Muslims – after Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and the Phillipines (that does not count the numerous lethal tyrannies propped up by the west in that region). For obvious reasons, the rhetoric that the west is not at war with the Islamic world grows increasingly hollow with each new expansion of this militarism. But within this new massive bombing campaign, one finds most of the vital lessons about western intervention that, typically, are steadfastly ignored.

First, as the New York Times’ background account from this morning makes clear, much of the instability in Mali is the direct result of Nato’s intervention in Libya. Specifically, “heavily armed, battle-hardened Islamist fighters returned from combat in Libya” and “the big weaponry coming out of Libya and the different, more Islamic fighters who came back” played the precipitating role in the collapse of the US-supported central government. As Owen Jones wrote in an excellent column this morning in the Independent:

“This intervention is itself the consequence of another. The Libyan war is frequently touted as a success story for liberal interventionism. Yet the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship had consequences that Western intelligence services probably never even bothered to imagine. Tuaregs – who traditionally hailed from northern Mali – made up a large portion of his army. When Gaddafi was ejected from power, they returned to their homeland: sometimes forcibly so as black Africans came under attack in post-Gaddafi Libya, an uncomfortable fact largely ignored by the Western media. . . . [T]he Libyan war was seen as a success . . . and here we are now engaging with its catastrophic blowback.” Read more…

Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for the Guardian.

As published in www.guardian.co.uk on January 14, 2013.

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