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India-Bhutan relations history:http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/too-much-dragon-too-little-kingdom/article4918267.ece?homepage=true
China's economy - case for and against:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/07/15/chinas-economy-is-slowing-heres-the-case-for-and-against-freaking-out/
LOL News: http://www.guardian.co.uk/fashion/2013/jul/15/woman-shave-armpits-still-feminist
India's politicians seem unable to resist the temptation to politicise terror acts. Soon after Wednesday's bomb blast near the office of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bangalore, Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad tweeted his concern that the terror attack would benefit the BJP in the upcoming Karnataka Assembly election. For a senior politician to think of the possible political benefit or cost of a bomb blast, and not of the innocent victims, is shocking in itself. Worse, he showed no sense of remorse for his insensitivity and lack of political judgment even after his party disowned the remark. Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi sought to limit the damage by cautioning against framing terror issues in terms of profit and loss, and on behalf of the government, Union Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh warned against extracting political capital out of the blast, but Mr. Ahmad was adamant. By way of explaining his line of thinking, the Congress leader referred to a statement by the Karnataka Home Minister R. Ashok that the attack was a terrorist activity targeted at BJP workers. Evidently, calculations of political gain and loss had so blinded Mr. Ahmad that he was unable to see the thoughtless and tactless nature of his own remarks.
With spokespersons like these in the Congress, the BJP needs to say or do precious little in the run-up to the Assembly election. At a time when the BJP was entirely on the defensive after five years of non-performance in Karnataka, this self goal from the Congress must have given it a measure of relief. On their part, the BJP and other opposition parties have also tended to use terrorist incidents as an excuse to pillory the government, citing them as evidence of the Congress's mismanagement of national affairs. On the whole, the tendency of Indian politicians to try and score political points in such situations stands in stark contrast to the attitude of the political class in the United States. There, in the aftermath of the recent Boston bombing or the earlier terror strikes of 9/11, one has seen none of the tiresome grandstanding that accompanies a terrorist incident. Despite the sharp political divisions which exist on most issues in the U.S. — or indeed in the United Kingdom, which has also experienced terrible attacks — terror is seen as a common threat, a national challenge that requires and demands a unified response. Political parties close ranks during terror attacks and refrain from making divisive and sectarian remarks. Our politicians must learn to wield power and responsibility well, and to be a calming influence at a time when people are feeling vulnerable.
18th April 2013 - The Hindu.
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Last month's coup d'état in the Central African Republic (CAR), in which the northern-based group Séléka fought its way into the capital Bangui and overthrew President François Bozizé, is yet another destabilising development in a country which has had a troubled and violent modern history. The coup resulted from the collapse of a January 11 agreement, which was itself meant to end fighting that had broken out late in 2012 over the alleged failure of a 2007 peace deal. Mr. Bozizé, who had seized power in a coup in 2003 but won elections in 2005 and 2011, has reportedly escaped to neighbouring Congo. The five-faction Séléka, which means “alliance” in Songo, is led by Michel Djotodia, who has suspended the constitution and announced rule by decree. Though he has promised that the 2016 elections will occur as planned, he also says he will review existing deals with foreign mining firms. In response, the African Union has suspended the CAR and imposed travel restrictions on Séléka leaders. Unsurprisingly, the country faces a humanitarian crisis. Some 40,000 people have fled to Congo, Chad, and Cameroon; even a fortnight before the coup, the fighting had displaced 175,000 people internally, and violent looting continues apparently unchecked.
Things do not bode well for the country's 4.5 million people. Though Mr. Djotodia, who heads the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) faction within Séléka, claims to be a secularist, some among the majority Christian population are nervous because he is a Muslim. However, his earlier record in getting himself appointed to replace a sheikh as the CAR's consul in Nyala, capital of the Sudanese state of Darfur, suggests that he puts his own ends first. A more serious problem, however, is Séléka's use of child soldiers. Members of a South African force which tried to defend the Bozizé government say they were sickened to find children among those they had killed; they themselves lost 13 troops in a serious foreign policy disaster for President Jacob Zuma's ANC government. A further complication is that the CAR's Muslim minority, which mainly lives in the northeast, considers that it has long been neglected by successive governments in Bangui. As if that were not enough, Joseph Kony, the leader of the Uganda-based Lord's Resistance Army, who is wanted for war crimes, has disappeared, with some of his forces, somewhere in the CAR, and U.S. troops assisting the Bozizé government in searching for him have abandoned the hunt since the coup. Although rich in resources, the CAR is one of the world's poorest countries. But it seems the AU will get little international help while it tries to create stability and legitimate authority there.
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It's not that such surveys tell us too much, it's more that they explain too little (don't we all feel lonely some of the time?), while the repertoire of solutions that includes the obligatory introduction to Facebook, Twitter and Skype, welcome a stranger into your home and sign up to a jolly charabanc trip to Bournemouth or two, may for some people only exacerbate the condition. It's a paradox that, as the very diverse symptoms of this particular social disease are gradually becoming better understood, the traditional package of "solutions" remains so little changed .
An excellent study by the Mental Health Foundation, "The Lonely Society", published a couple of years ago, divides loneliness into the social and emotional. The social may be triggered by the pattern of life that prunes away contact with others, including long commutes, physically moving away from family and friends and events such as separation, divorce and death. Emotional loneliness describes that deep disconnection some experience even when acting as the life and soul of a party, plugged in to a strong social network. The lonely are often in deep disguise €“ and not even willing to yield their secret to the perennial parade of pollsters.
So, although it's rarely portrayed in case histories of the old and lonely, it's perfectly possible to have a septuagenarian who is rich in friends, has an abundance of outings, is rarely alone but who also suffers that profound sense of isolation. Similarly, the growth in single households is often cited as a cause for the increase in loneliness. But single households are also home to the happy loner and the many who relish rationed periods of the solitary life.
So what of the solutions? Pity the lifelong introvert who becomes lonely in older age and who is expected to transform into the uber-gregarious. Susan Cain in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, makes a plea for less team work, group think and constant collaboration and more space for the reserved, the sanctity of solitude and those who may have less to say but still matter. What help for the vintage healthily introvert?
Loneliness, we know, is infectious. It spreads. It can damage your health. It is a profound challenge for a person of any age. So let's have fewer polls and more imaginative support. And let's encourage the very young to acquire the kind of social skills that won't vaccinate them against loneliness in later life but may make them a little less susceptible.