Intelligence is the first line of defence in any war; unfortunately for the Americans, this most important aspect of war was the weakest link during recent Iraq confrontation. Their failure to find Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq made them realise the need of reassessment of overall intelligence gathering procedures. The recent re-evaluation by adopting more stringent standards towards analysing their earlier estimates about Cuba’s bio-weapons programme has made them conclude that Cuba has no active bio-weapons programme.
The Ministry of Home Affairs in India is in a Catch-22 situation. In the last six months, at least seven Naxalite-affected states have written to it making an unusual demand: amend the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), 1980 to curb the spread of Naxalites. But the union home ministry mandarins are helpless: the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the nodal authority for the FCA, has refused to entertain any such demands.
Climate change is not a prognosis for the future, as some irresponsible governments believe. All countries are affected by and contribute to the cause of climate change. Some 150,000 human lives are lost each year as a result of climate change. One heat wave killed 20,000 people in Europe alone in 2003. More often invincible (!) the US is more vulnerable to natural disasters than terrorists attack. The successive floods in Bangladesh present the single most threat to the national security of such type of low-lying countries.
In recent times, war and violence are emerging in an unprecedented scale and engulfing societies across the globe. Its various manifestations in the forms of terrorism, war, ethnic conflict, crime, and domestic violence have considerably affected the human society. The younger generation, particularly the children are the worst sufferer of such mindless bloodletting. The armed conflicts in Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq have left thousands killed, maimed, orphaned, displaced from homes, separated from their families, and deprived from their basic right of education.
The proliferation of nuclear weapons has emerged as an issue demanding greater attention from international community that engaged in devising methods to fight the scourge of international terrorism. Recent disclosure by Iran that it was about to start processing 37 tonnes of raw uranium into uranium hexafluoride gas has alarmed the US and its allies in the Middle East and Europe for obvious reason.
The world of Indian policy makers is stoutly murderous. The current spate of malnutrition deaths in various parts of the country is just an enforcement of it. During July and September 20 this year, children have died primarily due to malnutrition in Rajasthan’s Baran district. In Maharashtra’s Nandurbar and Orissa’s Nabrangpur and Malkangiri districts death continues to stalk its tribal residents. Everyday 16 children die in Maharashtra of malnutrition.
‘Education for all’ still remains a distant dream and for disabled, it is even more remote in India. A recent survey of the National Center for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), revealed that only 1.2 per cent of the disabled in India has had any form of education. In its effort to have an all India school level survey, NCPEDP found that from the 89 schools, 34 did not have a single disabled student and unfortunately, 18 of them having a policy against giving admission.
Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace, had once advised Jews who were struggling in Palestine, ‘to convert the Arab heart’ by offering Satyagraha in front of the Arabs and by offering themselves to be shot or thrown into the Dead Sea without raising a little finger against them’. Typically Gandhian, the advice was too idealistic to be practical for Jews and remained largely unheeded but it springs, as do all Gandhian ideals, from a deep belief in the power of truth and moral ascendance capable enough to unsettle any hardened oppressor.
“We have gone 75 per cent of the way... the Tigers are not willing to come the other 25 per cent and We are still hoping to persuade them to come … All I can say is that there is movement forward.” In an exclusive interview with this author, Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumartunga has showed optimism for a lasting peace in dotted lines when her party came to power in April this year. Almost five months have passed since, but the proverbial ‘lasting peace’ remains elusive.
Thailand had witnessed its bloodiest day in recent history on April 28 this year in which more than 120 suspected militants were killed. Even after almost four and a half month have passed, the country is still reeling under Islamic militancy. Most recently, on August 26 a powerful bomb ripped through a food market in the Sukhirin district of Narathiwat province, bordering Malaysia. Coincidentally the blast occurred on the eve of a Prime Ministerial visit to the area that killed one person and injured at least 30 people.