World View Hot Topics in Pivotal Markets
What does a Chinese citizen owe the state in times of crisis? For most of recorded history, the answer to that question was simple: everything.
The individual was second to that state in all matters, and was expected to sacrifice self-interest for national interest when called upon. Those who sacrificed the most were the most patriotic. Those who refused the state were selfish, and worse.READ MORE
Here’s a back-to-school math problem: If your school district has 5,000 students, but only 2,000 desks, how do you find places for the other 3,000 students to sit?
The obvious solution is to buy 3,000 additional desks. But if, as in the case of Shunhe township in central China’s impoverished Macheng county, there isn't money to buy 3,000 desks, then what do you do? On Sept. 3, the Changjiang Daily, a major Communist Party-supervised newspaper in Wuhan published an article and photos showing parents and grandparents in Shunhe carrying beat-up desks and tables from their homes to local government-run schools, as they have done every September for at least the last three decades, according to a teacher interviewed by Xinhua, the state news agency. That three-decade mark is important: It spans the length of China’s economic revival -- a revival that apparently hasn’t touched Shunhe township.READ MORE
The emergence of the Brooklyn Nets, with the backing of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, is looking like a dream come true for fans and investors alike. As they set their expectations, they might be interested in the fate of a different Prokhorov project: Russia's dream car.
“This is the most exciting poll of the year, a poll about a dream,” author and journalist Masha Gessen wrote back in May 2011, as she watched an online counter record the number of people who wanted to buy a seemingly magical product: the Yo-Mobile, an electric hybrid car that would feature a methane-fueled power generator and would be fully designed and built in Russia. Some 50,000 people signed up on day one. As of Sept. 11 of this year, the number of potential buyers had reached nearly 200,000.READ MORE
India mourned the demise on Sept. 9 of Dr. Verghese Kurien, whose pioneering work at the intersection of dairy-farming technology, the cooperative sector, and branding and marketing created one of the nation's greatest business success stories. Kurien, who died at 90, was a revolutionary in the dairy sector, and the brand that he created, Amul, today enjoys more name recognition and goodwill than almost any other.
Kurien was also the brain behind Operation Flood, a massive undertaking that began in 1970 and lasted almost three decades, designed to develop a countrywide milk grid that would solve milk scarcity problems -- a reality of the mid-20th century that is unknown to most young Indians today -- and make the nation the largest milk producer in the world. Through his work and vision, dairying became "India’s largest self-sustainable rural employment program."READ MORE
Just a few months ago, Brazil's government dreamed of a 4 percent economic expansion for 2012. With second-quarter statistics in -- GDP grew just 0.4 percent over the first quarter -- the Central Bank now says expectations are that the year will close on a figure of 1.64 percent.
That would be a comedown even from last year's disappointing 2.7 percent and a staggering drop from 2010's impressive 7.5 percent.READ MORE
The words "modern India" are used today to describe a vast nation-state of more than a billion people, but they also imply a particular trajectory of history.
They refer to an ancient, ethnically and culturally diverse civilization that was colonized from the 18th century onward, that developed a native intelligentsia that eventually deployed against British colonialism ideas of nationhood and liberty adapted from thought currents in the West, and that in 1947 won independence and became a nation-state ambitiously committed to democracy and secularism.READ MORE
Thanks to a London court, influence-peddling in Russia has now become an internationally recognized business arrangement. The consequences could be far-reaching, both for Russian billionaires and for corrupt officials in the government of President Vladimir Putin.
In Russia, it's common for businesspeople to have a "roof:" A powerful person, often a government or law-enforcement official, who defends their interests and protects them from predators in return for a piece of the action. The concept, known in Russian as a "krysha," came to the notice of London's Commercial Court thanks to a high-profile legal battle between former Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and current Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.READ MORE
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s promise to get tough with China may fall on receptive ears in the U.S., but in China his vow has barely registered, much less caused alarm.
Unlike in 2008, when the Chinese media and bloggers were intensely focused on the unexpected rise of Barack Obama, the current election has generated limited media coverage and online discussion. To an extent, this shouldn’t be surprising. China is in the midst of a once-per-decade, totally opaque and undemocratic national leadership transition (expected this fall but still unscheduled). Those Chinese who care about politics understandably care more about their own.READ MORE
To ensure their farms and mines prospered in colonial Brazil, the Portuguese in the 16th century imported slaves from Africa, a practice that continued until 1888. Today, descendants of those slaves are again at the center of questions about Brazil's prosperity in the debate over the disposition of the quilombos.
Quilombos are rural settlements founded by freed or runaway slaves. The right of inhabitants to their land is enshrined in the Brazilian constitution of 1988. Since 1995, the government department responsible for land regularization, Incra, has been formalizing their ownership. Still, residents are frequently harassed and threatened with displacement, all the more so when their land rights get in the way of somebody else's business or the government's economic growth plans.READ MORE
Judgment on the perpetrators of two gruesome massacres in India in the last decade -- incidents far apart in space, time and ideological motivation, but sharing a common blood lust and moral blindness -- was delivered by the courts this week, and elbowed one another off the headlines.
The site of the first judgment was the capital, New Delhi, where India's Supreme Court upheld the death sentence passed by a trial court in 2010 on the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab. This was the man who, with nine companions, went on a killing spree in Mumbai on the night of Nov. 26, 2008, in a highly organized operation supported by handlers in Pakistan. The terrorists attacked one of Mumbai's biggest railway stations and two of its plushest hotels.READ MORE
Early Friday morning, just before dawn, four trucks were driving on a 10-month-old ramp to a bridge in Harbin, a major city in northeast China, when the deck suddenly tilted and collapsed, sending the trucks crashing to the pavement almost 100 feet below.
Three people were killed, and five were injured. Photos of the accident indicate that the trucks were carrying heavy cargoes, including stones, and were likely overloaded. But accounts by journalists and photos from the scene also suggest serious problems with the bridge itself. Some images show that key structural components were stuffed with sticks, pebbles and bags of unidentified materials.READ MORE
For the first time in its history, the Russian parliament is about to expel one of its members for mixing private interests with public service. The move would be a triumph, were it not aimed at one of the most vociferous opponents of President Vladimir Putin.
The legislator in question, Gennady Gudkov, has at least one thing in common with the president: Both are former KGB colonels. Before entering politics, Gudkov built a large private security company which employs 5,000. He now serves on the security committee in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. Initially a member of the Kremlin-loyal United Russia party, Gudkov switched to the opposition Fair Russia party and has taken part in mass protests against Putin's authoritarian rule. In the current Duma, few have been as outspoken against the regime.READ MORE
One of the more tragic possibilities enabled by the information age is that incidents of discord or violence in one part of the world often have ripple effects at great removes of space, and sometimes time, and that local causes and histories are disastrously subsumed into global categories and structures. Something of this sort has been observed in India over the last six weeks.
In July, tensions that had long simmered in Assam, a state in northeast India, between members of the Bodo tribe and Bengali-speaking Muslim immigrants, came to a boil in a surge of violence, claiming many lives and displacing thousands. It was lamentable that this crisis did not receive as much attention in the national media as it should have, but the fallout of the violence across the country was just as disturbing.READ MORE
To a Westerner, the imprisonment of three women from the feminist performance group Pussy Riot might seem a clear-cut case of inspired rebellion and mean-spirited repression. For Russians, it's not so simple.
In the days since a Moscow court handed down a two-year sentence for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, everyone from celebrities to opposition leaders has struggled to make sense of the group's staggering success. Even those fervently opposed to President Vladimir Putin's authoritarian rule are in some cases finding it hard to align themselves with Pussy Riot -- either because they genuinely disagree with the group's approach, or because they realize it could harm their careers.READ MORE
The official target of the protests was Japan's claim to a chain of islands in the East China Sea to which China also alleges ownership. The less official, but no less important, target was the Chinese Communist Party -- and its ability to serve as a steward of China’s national interests. With many Chinese voicing doubts about whether the Party is capable of protecting the disputed islands, China’s foreign policy is facing a crisis of legitimacy.READ MORE
Brazil's Olympians have returned home bearing 17 medals in all, putting the country in 14th place according to medals earned, higher than it has ranked before. One might think that would produce a sense of national satisfaction.
It has not. The Ministry of Sports had expected 20 medals. Many in the country seemed to feel cheated out of their record investment in the Olympic team, which totaled 1.76 billion reais ($869 million) over four years in government support and sponsorships by government companies, according to calculations by the O Globo newspaper. Sports Minister Aldo Rebello demanded a “much better” performance from the country’s athletes in 2016, when Brazil will host the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.READ MORE
Over the last two years, as China’s microblogging culture has expanded, observers inside and outside the country have found hopeful signs that the Communist Party is starting to respect and respond to public opinion voiced online. The most notable case comes from the town of Wukan, where, in December, villagers staged anti-corruption protests that quickly developed a national and supportive online constituency. The Party responded with elections for new local leaders.
Do these recent, allegedly populist, inclinations indicate a government more willing to shape policy to fit public opinion? Or are they just savvy public relations ploys designed to satiate angry online masses? The limits of what China's Web activists can accomplish became clear this week, when outrage erupted over the mother of a kidnap victim's political detention in China's notorious re-education through labor system.READ MORE
Russia's opposition, notorious for its lack of organization, has devised an innovative way to choose legitimate leaders: a primary election held mainly on the Web.
Some of the biggest names in the Russian Internet -- including Web guru Anton Nosik and Ilya Segalovich, a co-founder of Yandex, the search engine that tops Google in Russia -- are working to get the technology ready for an Oct. 7 vote. The aim is to elect a coordinating council of 45 people who can organize rallies, speak for the broader movement and eventually act as a sort of shadow parliament.READ MORE
When the 2012 Olympic Games came to a close on Sunday, India, the world's second-most populous country, stood a distant 55th on the overall medals table, surpassed by Jamaica, Belarus and New Zealand among others.
To many Indians, this was yet another sign of all the troubles that beset Indian sports other than cricket (the country's most popular game and, with Bollywood, its most enduring national obsession). These handicaps include: the absence of world-class facilities and support for the country's few top athletes; the inefficiencies of the country's bloated and supine sporting bureaucracy; farther down the ladder, the lack of sporting facilities in schools; and the absence of a culture of sporting excellence in general.READ MORE