Mohammad Bin Salman

Lessons from the Middle East

 

An enfant terrible for some but a reformer for many, Mohammad Bin Salman is all set to roll.

Born and brought up in the Royal Saudi Family of King Salman, Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) was the eldest of all the Siblings. A Lawyer by profession, MBS was anointed as the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia on 21st June 2017. At present he is also serving as First Deputy Prime Minister, President of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs and Minister of Defense—the world’s youngest office holder. At a rather tender age of 32, MBS has taken over Saudi Arabia to bring some tectonic changes.

Often described as “A Young Man in a Hurry”, Mohammad Bin Salman raked up a storm in the initial days at office. Some of his epochal moves are listed concisely below:

 

  • Senior Saudi Princes, Ministers and Businessmen were held captive in the Opulent Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh. The unprecedented move created a furor in the entire world, where the aim was to investigate the captives for their alleged involvements in rampant corrupt practices and biased business deals. The attorney general confirmed that 90 detainees had been released after their charges were dropped, while others traded cash, real estate and other assets to attain freedom. The authorities are still holding 95 people. Some are expected to be put on trial soon.

 

 

  • In September 2017 he conducted a Gender Mixed Celebration on National Saudi Day. The pragmatic move was celebrated by the majority and was considered to forswear the misogynistic rules.

 

  • In a Royal Decree read live on State Television, women were granted the freedom to drive. Saudi Arabia is the last Country in the World where Women weren’t allowed to drive. The change will come in effect from June 2018.

 

  • MBS has launched a massive tourism development project that will turn 50 islands and other sites on the Red Sea into luxury resorts.

 

  • With the aim of reducing the reliance on Oil, Mohammad Bin Salman announced a $2 trillion project with a punch line “Vision 2030”. It includes the development of a Mega City called “NEOM”. The name has its derivation in two parts. “Ne” is the Latin word for “New” and “M” is the first letter of the Arabic word “Future”. Neom is known to be orchestrated with a budget of $50 billion covering an area of 26,500 sq.km. The entire city will be powered by Renewable Energy.

 

Mohammed Bin Salman with the above mentioned epochal reforms has turned some heads. But on the other hand, some catastrophic decisions taken by him are being heavily condemned by the International Agencies. His role in aerial attacks on Yemen during the last two years and a proxy war with Iran for regional dominance has thrown substantial amount of bad light on him. MBS was found to be instrumental in orchestrating the diplomatic rift with the Gulf state, which was joined by Saudi allies Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE.

However Senior Columnists feel optimistic about the Crown Prince.. Forswearing the Countries traditions and taking such steps has definitely put his personal reputation on stake. Blaming the 1979 Iranian revolution for “extreme Islamism” his Ideology seems to be more inclined towards “Moderate Islam” there by dwindling down anarchic rules. Even after the bold moves he is still not quoted as a Subversive Authority as he remains loyal to the Country’s powerful Islamic Clerics.

Esoterically, calling him “Power Hungry” will not be too appropriate. What we can really learn from him, calls for a debate. Juxtaposing the reformatory steps with the situation in Yemen cannot be the legitimate option to draw a conclusion regarding the intent of the Prince. Yet some of the major learning’s will inevitably include:

  • More than 70% of the population of Saudi is under 30. His vision to reduce dependence on oil and pave way for future job creating industries is remarkable.
  • His “Anti-Corruption act” was convincingly one of the most unprecedented moves in the Gulf.
  • The ideological shift to Moderate Islamism is another strong example of shunning staunch religious beliefs.
  • The independency given to women for driving and the Gender Mixed Celebration on National Saudi Day is emblematical of his clear vision to work for Women empowerment and corollary to the reduction in such draconian rules.

 

The Indian Perspective:

WHEN HE CAN, WHY CANT WE? Under the current political situation in India, where the majority is with the Bharatiya Janta Party, the tables can surely turn. Right from controlling the rattlebrained fringe elements to empowering women, the onus lies with the ruling party and its allies. And why not, if the Opposition constructively opposes or wholeheartedly supports the government in its sacrosanct endeavors, the day is not far where India will be considered as the benchmark of growth and prosperity. No school textbook and no book of history worth its salt will be able overlook the magnanimous rise of India, if at all the Intent of the people in power and the bloke remains Pollyannaish and pragmatic.

 

References:

  1. Al Jazeera
  2. BBC News Night
  3. Fox News
  4. The Sydney Morning Herald
  5. http://www.hareetz.com

Disclaimer: This article contains information gathered from various sources as mentioned above. This article has been penned for informative purpose, with no intention of provocation. The author does not accept liability for any errors, omissions or damage resulting from the use of this article or facts therein.

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Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Philippine Presidential Candidates Campaign On Labour Day

 Rodrigo Roa Duterte

“The Punisher”

 

“A leader must be a terror to the few who are evil in order to protect the lives and well-being of the many that are good” quoted Rodrigo Duterte the 16th and current President of the Philippines.

Duterte, a former lawyer and previously the Mayor of Davao City is the man of the hour in Philippines. He has been the longest serving mayor in the country serving massive seven terms that amount to 22 years in Office. On May 9, 2016, Duterte won the Philippine presidential election with 38.5% of the votes.

With an approval rate of over 86% (the highest ever as compared to any other president of the Philippines) Duterte is the oldest person to assume the office of the President. At the ‘young’ age of 72, Duterte is completely cognizant of the fact that he does not have many years left to fulfill the promises he made to the bloke. Reducing crime rate, abolishing drug menace and providing employment were the much highlighted promises in his campaign for the presidential post. Political observers claim that his unequivocal statements and blunt way of expression captured the audience attention and winning the presidential post was the ultimate corollary. But he is known to have taken one of these factors too seriously or you may call brutally i.e. curbing the drug racket.

Dutere’s war on drugs has led to critics terming him as a dictator. He rather calls himself a hardliner. His crackdown on the drug network in Philippines has been one of the most lethal step ever taken by a leader to sort a problem. As per the records there are over 3 million drug addicts in the country. As recently reported by the guardian, the 15 month campaign of Duterte has led to the killing of 3900 drug personalities and over 2000 in drug related crimes. However the Human Rights Watch claim that over 7000 Filipinos have been killed till date in this war out of which 2555 killings are attributed the national judicial Police.

Edgar Matobato claims to be a former aide to the president. He once created a controversy quoting that Duterte had employed him to kill drug peddlers. Duterte however quashed the allegations. On the issue raised by Human Rights groups for the creations of Death Squads in the city of Davao, Duterte was given a clean chit due to lack of solid evidence. On the Contrary Duterte himself claims that he killed 3 Drug Dealers. Duterte admits to Extra Judicial Killings and goes on to say “If you destroy my Country, I will kill you”. He further adds that the drug menace is a serious threat for the future generations. He expresses that his prime interest is to safe guard law abiding and God Fearing Citizens.

Duterte might receive mixed reactions from the global community but his work in the Philippines is more than commendable.

  • Davao, once known to be the poorest and the most violent cities across the globe has now been ranked as the 4th safest city in the world.
  • Emergency care services are available in an unimaginable 8 minutes from the time of incident, which is better than most countries in the world. On top of all these services are free of cost.
  • The vitriolic Philippines – Chinese ties are turning out to be positive since Duterte has assumed office.
  • Economic growth in the Philippines in 2016 was the fastest in Asia due to strong domestic demand following six months of President Rodrigo Duterte in office.
  • The foundering industrial sector grew at 7.6% in last October to December Period.
  • Drug Trade has reduced significantly under his regime.
  • Duterte openly expresses his will of accepting refugees on Humanitarian grounds.

There are many more examples to be put out under his regime, but his critics tend to make him accountable and answerable for his Extra Judicial Killings and brutal tactics in the drug war. His draconian approach has been highly condemned by Human Rights Groups.

Understanding the implications Duterte recently directed the police to end operations in the war of drugs. The Philippines Drug enforcement agency has been given the charge. The PDEA comprises of only 1800 people which is just over 1% of the 1, 60,000 national judicial police force. This could heavily impact the reduction in killings as the factor of legitimacy may improve.

It’s the dawn of a new era for the Filipinos, but it is too early to decide whether it’s the dawn of uncertainty or a revolution. He is unabatedly working at his promise to end the drug menace. He acknowledged the plaudits of the crowd in his fierce speeches. With an ingenuous appearance Duterte is sure to surprise the global community even more.

And Most Importantly : Does India need a Rodrigo Duterte?

 

References:

The Huffington Post

Al Jazeera

Human Rights Watch

Wikipedia

RT Business News

Image Courtesy: TIME Magazine

The Manufactured Catastrophe

Before starting the article, I am enlisting a few Names, places and terms for better understanding.

 

Syria: Official name being Syrian Arab Republic, it is a Country in western Asia. The capital of Syria is Damascus and Aleppo is one of the important regions in the country in terms of the economy of the country. Population of Syria has been segmented as Sunni Islam (68.4%) Shia Islam (3.2%) Alawism (11.3%) Druze (3.2%) Ismailism (1.3%) Alevism (0.7%) Yazedism (0.2%) Christianity (11.2%) Others (0.5%)

 

Hafez Al Assad: The President of Syria from 1971 to 2000. He was an Alawite. Alawis are a part of the branch of Islam centered in Syria following the Twelver school of Shia Islam.

Bashar Al Assad: Current President of Syria and son of Hafez Al Assad who is facing the rebellion in Syria due to various reasons as mentioned below in the article.

Rebels: The Anti-government forces.

ISIS/ISIL: The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant headed by Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi

 

 

Syria is presently being ruled by the government of Bashar Al Assad; the son of Hafez Al Assad who was the president of Syria from 1971 until his death in 2000.

1973 marks the inception of the war that we witness today. Hafez Al Assad made a few amendments in the constitution. According to the earlier constitution, going back to the French Colonial Times, the office of the president was to be held by a Muslim. Hafez got the clause replaced by a redefinition of Islam of sorts. Secondly, he arranged for a respected Islamic jurisconsult to issue a finding that Alawis were really Shia Muslims rather than heretics. The Muslim Community reprobated and resorted to violence at times. Hafez Al Assad’s aides were attacked and with this the agitation began.

On 17th July 2000 when Bashar Al Assad took hold of the office of the President following the death of Hafez, he too faced strong resentment from the citizens. Peaceful protests were being reported throughout.  According to an internationally recognized news agency, in 2011 came the second incidence which led to the eruption of the extreme form of war and violence. A small group in the city of Daraa gathered to protest the failure of the government in helping the poverty struck farmers. A 14 year old boy named Mouawiya Syasneh made an anti Assad Graffiti on the wall of his school. The local authorities took note of the incident, caught hold of Mouawiya and his aide and tortured them.

Following this incidence of brutality, the commoners lost patience and gathered to protest heavily against the government and resorted to violence. In reply the government ordered for control of the situation and the army retaliated with arms. Casualties were reported. The War had begun.

The segmentation started with pro-government forces on one side and anti-government on the other. Some army men formed a separate group called the Free Syrian Army which was anti government being led by Mr.Maroof. Abu Qusai an engineer who was born in Syria, but was presently working in Dubai came back to his homeland to help the citizens. He was one of the most proactive elements in orchestrating weapons that were used by the rebels against the government.

By this time the situation was :

Image 1

At this juncture Bashar released Jihadist to counter the anti government forces. Al-Qaeda entered the scene and formed a new wing in Syria called the Jabhat al Nusra.  The situation became Complex with the two new entries. Heavy bombarding continued from the government’s side. Death toll mounted and we saw no end to this war.

The Syrian Kurdish Groups now entered the war situation. The Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, comprising between 10% and 15% of the country’s population according to the Minority Rights Group International, CIA and pro-government sources. Syrian Kurds had faced routine discrimination and harassment by the government. They had earlier sought autonomy and now resorted to take up arms. The war by this time became a global issue. Iran now entered in support of the Assad government. Considering this move by Iran, the Gulf States joined hands with the rebels to counter Iran’s Influence.

Now the situation stood in the below stated manner.

Image 2

Hezbollah now entered to support Assad. Hezbollah is a Shi’a Islamist militant group and political party based in Lebanon. They deployed their militia in Syria to train the local forces. Hezbollah was earlier seen as resistance movement but with their proactive alliances in the Syrian war, their reputation was hit hard. To counter this move by Hezbollah, the Arab Countries started pumping in more money via Jordan to support the rebels.

The situation now had become deplorable. With the entry of these extremist organizations, the war had become deadlier. Innumerous lives had already been lost, and the end still could not be seen.

Barack Obama stepped in to monitor the situation and arranged for the training of rebels, but the program got stalled. They did not give up. They finally sent the CIA to train the rebels.

Now came the worst part. ISIS entered the war to fight against the rebels and the Kurds. White House responded promptly and soon ISIS was being bombarded by America. To strengthen their attack against ISIS, they launched another program which would focus only on fighting ISIS.

 

In August, Turkey started bombarding Kurdish Groups in Iraq. Turkey did not enter into war against ISIS. America by this time had realized that the Middle Eastern stated had other priorities.

What is more interesting to note is that at this Juncture, Russia entered to help Assad. This move strongly went in favor of Assad and they were able to capture Aleppo with the help of Russia and Hezbollah. Aleppo being one of the major centers of economy for the entire Syria, had now gone into the hands of the Assad Government. At one point of time Aleppo was strongly held by rebels. This incident is famously termed as the Death of Aleppo

The Assad government was already accused by the UNHRC of using chemical weapons in April 2014 and March 2015in Talmenes and Sarmin respectively. Yet again, Assad resorted to Chemical Weapons in 2017. This was considered as one of the most nefarious move by a government. This massive provocation led to the launching of Tomhawk missiles against the Assad army by America. They hit the government controlled airbase at Shayrat.

The Final Situation is seen in the following way:Image 3

 

According to News Agencies 4, 70,000 deaths have been reported so far in which the number of Children reported dead is 55,000. The war has plunged 80% Syria into poverty. The Livelihood of people has been obliterated. Syria has inevitably become a ground for Proxy wars for the Powerful nations. If these figures are not enough to raise some eyebrows, what more can we expect.

Not resorting to any kind of Jingoism, but at the least we can raise our voice and ameliorate the situation via Social Media Platforms in the hope of a more sensible and altruistic World. Let such wars not be an impediment to a peaceful world.

With this I would like to end this article, but unfortunately the war is still on.

 

References:

 

  • Al Jazeera

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This article contains information gathered from various sources as mentioned above. This article has been penned for informative purpose, with no intention of provocation. The author does not accept liability for any errors, omissions or damage resulting from the use of this article or facts therein.

Breaking News:Is it really breaking?

Untitle copyIt was a surreal Sunday morning in the hills. The sun shone bright with the gentle breeze providing a pure sense of serenity.  A cup of coffee was like the icing on the cake. My father entered with his morning beverage and asked me to switch on the 32 inch Idiot box. I had just switched to the news channel when the screen was flashing with furious animations trying to grab our eyeballs with some so called Breaking News. I really wondered for a second what was breaking at 7 in the morning.

The revolutionary media is on a role. Every nook and corner of the world is being covered, monitored and brought to light for the much needed good or bad reasons. Every newsbreak is being discussed using hashtags on social media. Right from local news channels to the global ones, each one plays its role well. The manner of portraying their coverage may vary from Euphemistic to harsh and blunt language, but surely brings to light what is needed.

The freedom of the press was well granted in time in the Indian democracy. The creation of new platforms like news channel apps and pages on the social media are surely grabbing attention. Every minute a notification pops up in your mobile giving you the latest update of whatever is going on in the world. Accept it or not, increase in awareness level and sensitivity to various issues has been brought in by some of these Breaking news flashing across your Television screens or app notifications.

The paradox comes into play when the news breaks are questioned by certain sections of the society as irrelevant. Being a democracy that supports a huge diversity of citizens, it is really not easy to please each section. But the problem is not with the media houses reporting. Irrelevance is usually noticed because apart from political drama, what else is really left to report. It may be a high profiled combat in the parliamentary session or the sarcasm in the rallies, the news room is day long engaged in covering and breaking such news for us.

Coming to the connection of media houses and the political class, even the war of wardrobes between political parties in India are covered extensively by media houses. The suit-boot comments by one or the kurta pyjama jibe by the other is surely presented in the most humorous way at times by the media. Such comments will never give any clear cut political ideological message, but will surely turn some heads at massive rallies. Each political leader tries to outdo the other by encouraging the individuals who make our polity to be more dependent on a mai baap sarkar which will dole out various forms of subsidies and caste based quotas in jobs and educational institutions. When the media tries to bring out such issues in the limelight, they are often questioned on their role.

Well it may be the eruption of the war of words or the war of wardrobes, the spectators will surely set the Rubicon. The media houses are always keeping a close watch on the political conundrum and the logomachists have their ears wide open. We never know when some ardent burning eyes may set the tune for an unprecedented revolution. It is then when we decide whether the news was breaking or “bray”king.

Social Media : Frenzy

It was a beautiful morning at the airportand the automated Piano nearby brought to my ear the most melodious tracks. The clock struck 7 when my stomach unequivocally prompted me to get up and bring something to eat. I was waiting at the counter for my meal, when I noticed a toddler using an Ipad. To my astonishment he was actually using Facebook and his mother sitting right next to him, using Instagram. Once again I emphasize it was 7 am and the child was nowhere beyond 8 years of age.

The articulate facts mentioned above are just an example depicting the real story all of us are aware of. Yes indeed it is the most dreadful and horrifying future event, which even the chiromancers may not warn you of. The overuse of social media and related gadgets is becoming a normal routine for a human being. Needless to mention there is no such age criteria in this crime being committed day in and day out.

For a majority of us, the use of applications or apps has become an obsession.At times we actually gadding in our cellphones through the so called social apps. It will never be #Adaywellspent unless it’s uploaded on #instagram. A snapchat story is inevitable during any event, may it be the house party or an evening at the theatre. A flight to any random place on Earth will never be complete without a check in at the airport. The hashtag has become another irreplaceable aspect of our so called Social Life.

In an conversation with an eminent Psychiatrist in New Delhi, I was enlightened with some very undesirable and “UnSocial” facts. With all seriousness and conviction he shared the most uncomfortable shortcomings of this excessive use of social media. Text Neck as he told was a common ailment most adults were facing, root cause being excessive use of the mobile phone. He even went on to say that this social online life was also leading to disorders including anxiety and depression.The young minds are becoming prosaic in some cases.

The solution came crystal clear from his side. He stated that parents need to be strict in their approach. Youngsters between the age of 18-24 need to keep a self check and refrain from being excessively online. Socializing at coffee shops was a much better and genuine option he said. Needless to mention, he even stated that the adults in the house should set a practical example for their younger ones by limiting their online activities.The biggest saboteur for a healthy mind would be excessive involvement in online socializing.

Well, this epidemic needs to stop somewhere. But is it really possible? The answer to this is yet to be found, but we need to act. All of us need to stop firing at our own feet. Or you never know, may be these Apps might be the next things to be banned.

Observational Learning

OBSERVATION=IDEA GENERATION=SOLVING AN EQUATION

In the words of R B Powell, if you make listening and observing your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.

This weekend I was out with my family for dinner at Simla Club, a place distinguished for its ambiance and quality of food. Dinner was served at the scheduled time and we began with the process. The adjoining table was occupied by a Retd. Doctor and a Retd. Army personnel. They were enjoying a drink, discussing politics. While observing their conversation I overheard some facts I never knew. For example, during Ind-Pak war of 1965, Modi, as a 15 year old boy, volunteered to serve the soldiers in transit at the railway stations. Well, many people who observe him for his administrative skill might be unaware of this patriotic element.

The idea behind the last example is not to promote Mr. Modi or Simla Club but to explain that how small observations might prove fruitful for you in the long run. Your observational skills at a social gathering may prove to be the best learning experience of your life. Suppose you are attending a party where the guest list includes the best artists and poets of the state, some businessmen and office people. Right from the artists to the working class each of them would have some quality which you could imbibe. Or the other case might be that the discussions among two different groups might give you information about things you always wanted to know. Going by the rule, real life experiences of people are much more noteworthy than printed material. With this assumption, in our endeavor to keep the learning process going, observation holds importance. The artist might present his views in the most articulate and impressive manner which is worth appreciating, while the businessman might be observed explaining his encounters with some customer, in a frustrated tone. Each experience shared by either of the group will surely relate to your life someday or the other. The only issue is that the observer might have some unprecedented advantages over the non observer.

Another real life example can be noted to prove the efficacy of observations. The usual college going student in a city away from his native town might find it hard to adjust to the local food. Especially during night time it is impossible for students at places to move out and have something to fill their empty food bowls. This opportunity of supplying food to outstation students at night could be capitalized by any aspiring entrepreneur to garner some monetary gains. Thus the observation about students and food related issues generated an idea of commencing a business.

At times you are caught in a situation where an escape seems impossible. For example, you get into a war of words with your boss at the workplace. According to your observations the boss is fond of sycophancy. You have this information because lately, you observed that your colleague was pardoned for a blunder he made, just by using some flattery techniques. Now you might also follow the same route to normalize things. Thus, your observation about your colleague’s method of getting away helped you to face the situation. Had you been one of those non observant employees the war of words could be your last words in the premises of the firm.

As rightly noted by G B Shaw The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who don’t have it.

Why No Action

WHY NO ACTION?

The citizens of India voted for a government which not only promised prosperity and development but also peace and harmony throughout the landmass. The newly anointed Prime Minister’s track record proves his worth as an administrator. But does the same man prove his mettle in the national scenario.

It has barely been 60 days since the BJP led NDA has formed the government and questions seem to arise. The BJP with its stellar performance in the elections seems to have lost track too early. Mr. Modi promised the nation that he would keep a check on hate mongers within the party. In an interview he went on to say that hate speeches would not continue by any party men. But his party men seem to be putting all their effort to prove his promises wrong. Eminent leaders still go on to preach their religious bias and staunch feelings. When questioned by the media, party leaders duck questions and evade from the issue.

The social evil and catastrophic act termed as rape, seems to go unchecked. A 6 year old girl was raped in the premises of a private school. When questioned by the media a leader went on to say “Is this the only news you have”? The same person was caught sleeping on camera in the parliament.

Parts of Uttar Pradesh still witnessing curfews, seems to be a matter of shame for all the parties. The state administration as well as the bosses at the center failed to stop violence which led to fatalities.

Pre election promises and manifestos have proved themselves to be pieces of trash. Mr. Modi with his excellent oratorical skills persuaded the nation to vote for him. But Mr. Modi seems to be too busy to keep a check on such acts as mentioned above. Are politicians above the law, or is the law made to penalize only the poor. Media bashing, fake promises and high headed attitude of the political parties seems to be on a rise. The citizens are highly observant and will surely respond if the government refuses to act.