India and China have been engaged in many border disputes but the recent Chinese infringement in the Galwan Valley resulted in 20 Indian casualties. Although both sides are engaged in military and diplomatic-level talks, India recently banned about 49 Chinese apps on grounds of threat to sovereignty. We speak to Ambassador Shivshankar Menon, Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow, ISAS. He was India's Foreign Secretary from October 2006 to August 2009 and also served as national security advisor to the Prime Minister of India from January 2010 to May 2014. Ambassador Menon shared his insights into the consequences of the current Sino-India skirmishes, possibilities for a boundary settlement, the impact of these tensions on the subcontinent and engagement with big powers.
The Sri Lankan government recently announced that the country will open up for tourism from August 2020, amidst the global pandemic. Sri Lanka has outpaced regional growth in tourism with an increase of 10 per cent in 2018, while in 2019, the Lonely Planet named it as the No 1 tourist destination in the world. However, its tourism industry couldn’t capitalise on these positive developments first due to a terror attack and now due to the pandemic. To find out more about the impact on the industry, health challenges and opportunities in medical tourism, we speak to Dr D A C Suranga Silva, Professor in Tourism Economics at the Department of Economics, Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo. He holds PhD from Virije University Amsterdam in Tourism Economics and M Phil in Environmental Economics from Maastricht School of Management (MSM), the Netherlands.
The Turkish drama series, Diriliş: Ertuğrul, has recently taken Pakistan by storm after Prime Minister Imran Khan urged his people to watch it as it promotes Islamic heroes and values. The series is loosely based on the life and times of the 13th-century Muslim Oghuz Turk leader, Ertugrul, whose son Osman Ghazi is considered to be the founder of the Ottoman Empire. Aired first on TRT, Turkey's national broadcaster, the show has now been dubbed in Urdu and aired on PTV and its YouTube channel. To find out about the popularity of this show, the socio-political debates it has sparked and its relevance to bettering Pakistan-Turkey relations, we speak to Dr Zebunnisa Hamid, an Assistant Professor of Film Studies in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies (CLCS) at LUMS.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 2018 Election Campaign was built around his vision of transforming the country into 'Naya Pakistan' or 'New Pakistan'. Now that he is set to complete his second year in office this August, it is timely to discuss the changes that he has been able to bring about thus far.
In this episode of South Asia Chaat, we speak with Dr Iqbal Singh Sevea, Visiting Research Associate Professor at ISAS, who provides a preliminary progress report on continuity and change under the Imran Khan-led Government. He discusses the constraints imposed by a struggling economy, new emerging relations between the military and civilian sectors, and the massive plague of locusts that is now confronting South Asia.
Ahead of the virtual bilateral summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison scheduled on 4 June 2020, Professor C Raja Mohan spoke to Ambassador Anil Wadhwa Distinguished Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation, on what lies ahead in Australia-India relations in terms of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, enhancement of trade and the role of the diaspora. Ambassador Anil Wadhwa authored a report titled 'Australia Economic Strategy' (AES) to complement 'An India Economic Strategy To 2035' report authored by former Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia and Former High Commissioner of Australia to India Peter Varghese.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic early this year, there has been an exponential increase in our dependence on technology. Governments are experimenting with social media to keep citizens informed and updated about the infection. Among other aspects, the pandemic has, globally, shaken the conventional methods of education. It has forced us to rethink of ways we use technology. While more countries are moving towards restoring normalcy and opening up, one of the aspects governments are enforcing is the usage of contact-tracing applications to avoid the further spread of COVID-19. To discuss the impact of the pandemic on technology, we spoke to Dr Anuradha Rao, the founder of CyberCognizanz, a training and communications company in Singapore that focuses on cyber-safety and cybersecurity.
For over 11 years, Dr Anuradha has studied, taught and conducted research on the relationship between new technologies, society, politics and security in Asia at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and other higher education institutions in Singapore. Anuradha holds a PhD in Communications and New Media from NUS, and an MA in Political Science from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India. She can be reached at email@example.com
Episode 36: COVID-19 Special Series with Mr K Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs and Law
A vast majority of Singapore's COVID-19 infections involve foreign workers residing in dormitories. The government has taken strong and proactive measures to contain and combat the outbreak among this group. After initiating measures to curb the spread among the migrant workers in dorms, it recently decided to test all 323,000 workers residing there. Singapore has been effectively addressing the ever-changing situation and initiated measures to fight different challenges including that of online misinformation and xenophobia. We spoke to Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam, for his insights into Singapore’s response to COVID-19, measures taken to keep the foreign workers safe, and curbing the spread of fake news which could potentially create disharmony in the society.
Pakistan, like many countries, found itself unprepared for COVID-19 when it struck. More than 90 per cent of the cases in Pakistan were imported, and its healthcare system struggled to grapple with the dearth of medical equipment, leading to many Pakistanis being stranded abroad. In Singapore, migrant workers are mostly from India and Bangladesh, so the number of Pakistani infected cases has been few — most of the country’s blue-collar workers are in the Gulf.
In this episode, we speak to HE Rukhsana Afzal about what the Singapore government, local Pakistani community, and global financial organisations are doing to help. This involves, among other things, the development of a mobile app, the diaspora sending home critical supplies, and a global initiative for debt relief.
Episode 34: COVID-19 Special Series with the Bangladesh High Commissioner to Singapore, Md Mustafizur Rahman
In this episode, we speak to Md Mustafizur Rahman, the Bangladesh High Commissioner to Singapore, on the impact of COVID-19 on the Bangladeshi community here, and what steps are being taken to help them. During the initial period of the outbreak, only five Bangladeshi migrant workers were infected; then came the sudden outburst in the middle of March, which has continued till date. Mr Rahman explains that the priority of the High Commission is to ensure timely treatment of infected workers, their recovery, and return to a normal life. Since, the nature of the disease and restrictions on accessing the dormitories, does not allow the High Commission to directly help these workers, they have been working with Singapore government agencies.
He commends the Singapore government’s handling of the situation within dormitories and said that even small needs like providing proper interpreters and enuring these workers get Bangladeshi food are being looked into, especially since this is the month of Ramadan.
Demand for the world’s most important commodity, oil, has crumbled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the fourth week of April this year, the US oil prices plunged to below zero for first time in history. The fundamentals of the oil industry are not determined merely by demand and supply. Geopolitics, the politics of exchange rates and paper trading also impact its performance. This could be, by far, the greatest crisis the oil industry has ever faced impacting upstream and downstream activities. It is estimated that more than 400 industry-related companies worldwide will not be able to bear the production cost at US$20 per barrel.
This conversation between Dr S Narayan (Visiting Senior Research Fellow, ISAS) and Mr Vikram Mehta (Executive Chairman of Brookings India), looks at the impact and challenges that the dive in crude oil price will have on South Asia’s oil and energy sector, as well as the economic impact (consumption and net exports) on India. For India, there is also an urgent need to build linkages and pipelines between oil and gas producers in other parts of the region such as Bangladesh.