In a world on the brink of a global recession caused by COVID-19, the Infrastructure efforts of today and tomorrow are more crucial than ever. They are an indispensable countercyclical tool to mitigate the negative effects of the economic paralysis. But they also constitute a pivotal component of a country’s development and competitiveness in the long term.
The expression ‘economic reforms’ is back in the governance lexicon of India. With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19) bringing nations to a physical slowdown if not a complete standstill, and jobs and GDP growth becoming collateral damage, the mere announcement and phraseology of reforms seems to have become a solution. Unfortunately, and perhaps its early days, communication rather than action, words rather than deeds, and tactics rather than strategy seems to be dominating the discourse.
The EU Recovery Fund proposed by the EU Commission would be an important building block of the region’s policy response to the coronavirus crisis. It broadly mirrors the Franco-German proposal, which should raise the chances of it gaining the political support needed for its approval. But given the opposition from some countries to the sizeable grants and implied transfers within the package, it will likely take lengthy negotiations by the 27 EU member states to achieve the required unanimous support.
“It should be kept in mind that every disaster comes with opportunities”. These words pronounced by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the occasion of Europe’s Day reflect well the rationale of Turkey’s foreign policy approach during this pandemic.
Turkish foreign policy is premised on several drivers: domestic political considerations, the nationalist governing coalition’s needs and aspirations, the weight of the Kurdish question, economic constraints, and the geopolitical balancing act between Russia and the West and regional realignments. Each factor impacts the formulation of Turkish foreign policy to varying degrees.
Turkish drones have by now become regulars in many skies of the Middle East and North Africa, playing an unprecedented role in some of the region’s major flashpoints. Confirming a remarkable domestic technological advancement, Turkey’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are at the forefront of an expanding indigenous defence industry, which aims to improve the country’s military might while serving as a launchpad of Ankara’s regional ambitions.
As conflict escalates in western Myanmar amid the rise of coronavirus cases in the country, there is growing concern of a deepening humanitarian crisis. As of May 26, Myanmar has recorded 206 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 6 deaths. Clashes between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA), an armed group seeking greater autonomy for ethnic Rohingya people, have displaced hundred thousand people since conflicts started over a year ago.
It is the dawn of a “new era of peace”. The Bangsamoro armed struggle in Mindanao has come to an end. The conflict between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has gone through different phases of the peace process and has culminated in the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).
For several governments, including those in South Asia, the Covid-19 pandemic is today’s 9/11: sudden and deadly, global in impact and an opportunity for establishing a deeper security state to mitigate risk through surveillance, regulation of citizens’ mobility, and at times, even centralized control. These signs of the times are manifest in Sri Lanka as well, noticeably in how the country has veered towards greater militarization in its “war” on the virus and a constitutional crisis.