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ISN Weekly Theme: Indian Democracy

Two women with voting cards

Two Indian women waiting to vote / photo: Goutam Roy/ Al Jazeera English, flickr

In the wake of a surprisingly clear victory for the Congress party in India, the ISN focuses on the democratic process in India, the election results and the future of the incumbent government.

  • In the ISN Special Report India’s Status Quo Surprise Jayne Brady, a research fellow for UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education and Harsh V. Pant, a lecturer at the Defense Studies Department at King’s College London assess the challenges and opportunities the Congress Party faces in its second consecutive term in government. In A Silent Opportunity Jayne Brady examines the tasks ahead for Congress as it tries to match action with heightened expectations, while Harsh V. Pant questions whether Congress will be able to seize this unique opportunity or once again squander its political capital in Indian Electorate Seeks Stability.
  • The Indesec Expo 2009 is taking place in New Delhi in October 2009, concentrating on India’s homeland security and defense systems. Find out more in our Events section.
  • And for a bit of historical perspective, read Jawaharlal Nehru’s Inaugural Address from 1947 and Mahatma Gandhi’s famous Quit India Speech from 1942 in our Primary Resources section.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Screenshot of Jon Huntsman with daughter from China Daily site

Screenshot of Jon Huntsman with daughter from China Daily site

The China Daily runs a brilliant website detailing the China-connections of US officials, particularly in the new Obama administration, titled “US Officials and Their China Connections”. The page opens up with a logo of hearts and delicate Japanese-inspired cherry blossom twigs superimposed on a picture of the new US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and his adoptive Chinese daughter. How sweet.

And I don’t mean that sarcastically. It’s fascinating to see how an official Chinese media outlet maintains a page dedicated to seeing commonalities, finding links and promoting- on the surface at least- friendship between China and the US. It seems that in the more friendly atmosphere of the post-Bush world such connections are becoming assets on both sides of the Pacific and increasingly, as Timothy Geithner’s recent trip to China proved, are starting to inform the making of bilateral policy in a positive way.

Obama’s appointment of Huntsman as the Ambassador is the most obvious sign of bigger and better things to come. He has life-long ties to China through his family’s business, he speaks Mandarin and has adopted a Chinese girl with his wife. Huntsman has even gone on record to say that the US-China relationship is the most important one in the world. Obama, Huntsman assures us, feels the same way. And best of all, the website points out that Huntsman is indeed considered a potential front-runner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Obama nominating him for this job, of course, might put an end to those grand plans.

Moreover, as the website proudly points out, more and more Chinese Americans are serving in Obama’s multicolored, multiracial and multicultural administration. America, it seems, is finally living up to its multicultural dream and China is taking note. The important posts of Energy Secretary and Secretary of Commerce, most notably, are now held by Steven Chu and Gary Locke, prominent Chinese Americans. Given that environmental issues, finance and commercial ties will likely dominate the US-Chinese agenda in the coming years, the Geithner-Chu-Locke trio is a kind of dream team for the two countries.

Coincidence or shrewd strategic planning, I ask you?

(…And in case you feel like getting some background on China- past, present, and future- check out our podcast on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.)

Is Twitter Eroding our Humanity?

Fire Hydrant with quote / Will Lion, flickr

Fire Hydrant with quote / Will Lion, flickr

First it was TV, then it was video games, now Twitter? Are these things really contributing to the decay of the human psyche, our morality and our ability to concentrate? Or is this just paranoid blame-seeking, intent on vilifying the entire spectrum of modern day tools part of our everyday life?

The ISN blog presents two viewpoints- mine and that of my co-worker Cristina Viehmann. Let the debate begin!

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Global Trade Alert

How does Russia’s decision to increase tariffs on imported automobiles impact world trade? Is your country affected by the EU’s reintroduction of export refunds for milk, butter and butteroil?

These are the kind of questions Global Trade Alert addresses. The project was launched today by a network of economic research organizations, coordinated by Simon J Evenett, Professor at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, and Programme Co-Director at the Centre for Economic Policy Research.

“Global Trade Alert provides real-time information on state measures taken during the current global downturn that are likely to affect foreign commerce. It goes beyond other monitoring initiatives by identifying the trading partners likely to be harmed by these measures.”

Do you know of any policy measure affecting international trade? You can report it on Global Trade Alert.

Is your country affected by the latest trade policy measure?

Is your country affected by the latest trade policy measure?

The Other Elections

Who will fill the seats? The empty EU Parliament in Brussels / photo: Xavier Larrosa, flickr

Who will fill the seats? The empty EU Parliament in Brussels / photo: Xavier Larrosa, flickr

After India’s elections, they are the second-largest in the world. And when it comes to the complexity degree I am not sure who would be top of the list. A case in point: Candidates being elected in 27 different voting procedures and 27 election campaigns, each taking place according to its own rules.

What is it about the elections to the European Parliament that makes them so special and yet so debatable? It’s a question I asked myself when skimming through a Spiegel photo stream on the most bizarre candidates to the EU Parliament. Models and showgirls, the owner of a football club and a former cosmonaut – why do they all want to make it to Strasbourg and Brussels?
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