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Hindu Nov 27

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Content
SAARC leaders reach last-minute energy deal

SAARC leaders to push for connectivity pacts at retreat

Pak. to have 200 nuclear warheads by 2020: US think tank

The demographic challenge

Envisioning a new Afghanistan

Parliament passes Apprentices Bill

The new Iron Curtain of Europe

Hong Kong student leaders banned from Mong Kok protest site

Japan casts shadow on China's bullet train ambition with India

Myanmar's Suu Kyi woos military lawmakers ahead of talks on constitution

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SAARC leaders reach last-minute energy deal

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

The Hindu, international, SAARC,

Foreign Ministers of the eight countries signed an agreement on energy cooperation


The Ministers signed the SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation
(Electricity). Two other agreements, according to current SAARC Chair, Prime Minister
of Nepal Sushil Koirala, would be signed later after the Transport Ministers of these
countries reviewed them. These two are the Regulation of Passenger and Cargo Vehicular
Traffic amongst SAARC Member States, and SAARC Regional Agreement on Railways.

SAARC leaders to push for connectivity pacts at retreat

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

Pakistan, The Hindu, international, Nepal, SAARC,

Retreat is a tradition of SAARC Summit where leaders hold private, unofficial bilateral
and multilateral talks in a relaxed and more informal atmosphere. SAARC retreats are
ideally organised outside the summit venue in resorts and hotels where the leaders can
relax and discuss the bilateral and multilateral agendas. It also provides an opportunity
to quell disagreements on unresolved issues.
Since Pakistan has stalled the inking of SAARC connectivity on the pretext that they
have not completed the "internal process", the leaders are expected to convey their
keenness to ink the pacts.

Pak. to have 200 nuclear warheads by 2020: US think tank

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

Pakistan, nuclear warheads, The Hindu, international,

Pakistan is likely to have enough fissile material to build over 200 nuclear warheads
by 2020
"Pakistan, which has the fastest growing nuclear weapon program in the world, is
believed to have enough fissile material to produce between 110 and 120 nuclear
warheads. By 2020, Pakistan could have a fissile material stockpile sufficient to produce
more than 200 nuclear weapons."
South Asia is the region "most at risk of a breakdown in strategic stability due to an
explosive mixture of unresolved territorial disputes, cross-border terrorism, and growing
nuclear arsenals."
The report details that "Pakistan has deployed or is developing eleven delivery systems
for its nuclear warheads, including aircraft, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles."
Pakistan has not formally declared the conditions under which it would use nuclear

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weapons but has indicated that it seeks primarily to deter India from threatening its
territorial integrity or the ability of its military to defend its territory.
While Pakistan is focused predominantly on the threat posed by India, it is reportedly
also concerned by the potential for the United States to launch a military operation to
seize or disarm Pakistani nuclear weapons
Second nuclear age
the "security dilemma" of the Cold War, has given way to a "security trilemma" where
actions taken by one state to protect itself from a second make a third feel insecure.
Due to this trilemma, the report says, though nuclear arsenals are shrinking in the rest
of the world, Asia is witnessing a nuclear build up. Unlike the remaining Permanent
Five (P5) countries, China is increasing and diversifying its nuclear arsenal.
The other major challenge as per the report is the emergence of non-nuclear military
technologies like missile defences, anti-satellite weapons, long-range precision strike
systems and cyber weapons which mitigate the strategic effects of nuclear weapons.

The demographic challenge

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

demographic dividend, The Hindu, economics,

The rhetoric on the capacity of countries to reap the so-called demographic dividend
cannot mask the more complex reality of a not-so-young world in 2014, and non-uniform
patterns of growth. About a quarter of the world's population -- 1.8 billion -- is in the
age-group of 10-24 years, according to the latest United Nations Population Fund report.
In 1950, the proportion was higher, at almost a third of the global total, at 721 million.
The 10-24 age segment has thus declined overall, while it has more than doubled in
absolute terms during the period. This means that in theory, people in this age bracket,
their number larger than China's population, can hope to live longer, be better fed and
educated, do decent jobs and earn adequate incomes. In concrete terms, this segment
would swell the share of the working-age population -- those between 15 and 64 years
-- over the next few decades. But here is the catch. Nine out of ten people, or 89 per
cent, in the 10-24 age-group live in less developed countries, Most people who are alive
today are below 30 years of age. In 17 states, 15 of them from sub-Saharan Africa, one
half of the population is under 18 years. One in three girls in the developing world is
married before reaching 18, raising the risk of early and perhaps unintended motherhood
among children and hampering the realisation of their full potential. One in seven HIV
infections occur during adolescence.
India's age-dependency ratio has ranged in the 50s per 100 working population between
2010 and 2013, China has stayed in the mid-30s during the corresponding period.

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India's higher ratio underscores the extent to which social protection measures would
have to be strengthened for both the components to ease their mutual interdependence
and enhance the quality of life. Prime Minister Narendra Modi must take up massive
public-funded programmes in basic education, health care and vocational training, with
a thrust on building a clean economy. Only then could the current younger age profile
of the population prove advantageous. The demographic dividend refers to the potential
among countries to increase economic growth by taking advantage of the changing age
structure in the population. Clearly, a great deal remains to be done to realise this
potential.

Envisioning a new Afghanistan

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

Pakistan, The Hindu, international, Afghanistan, SCO,

Close on the heels of the fourth 'Heart of Asia' Ministerial conference in the framework
of the Istanbul Process, hosted for the first time by the People's Republic of China
(PRC) and the first official visit the Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani paid to Beijing,
a regional Track II conference, "Envisioning Afghanistan post-2014" was held in
Istanbul this month. 60 experts, from Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and the Central Asian
Republics, barring Turkmenistan, along with advisers from Iran, Turkey, Russia and
China have been meeting regularly over the last three years.
What is of relevance from the joint declaration are its three key recommendations:
establishing a joint special commission of AfPak, holding an India-Pakistan dialogue
on Afghanistan, and advocacy that Afghanistan be accepted as a neutral country
commencing with a framework for non-interference and non-intervention underwritten
by the United Nations.
At the Istanbul meeting, Central Asian policy groups asserted that the Shanghai Six -the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) -- Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan,
Kazakhstan, Russia and China, have been pledging for the last three years at the SCO
summit, their commitment for a neutral Afghanistan.
The joint declaration will shortly have an add-on: an Annexure on Enduring Neutrality.
Experts who have studied the Austrian and Swiss models say that the neutrality of
Afghanistan will mean de facto neutralisation of Pakistan, and so the biggest obstacle
in its acceptance will be the Pakistan Army with its gospel of strategic depth. The
Pakistan Army has invested precious lives and resources in creating strategic assets
through "good terrorists" which has paradoxically led to many of these terrorists securing
strategic depth inside Pakistan.
The regional Joint Declaration is Afghan-driven and Afghan-owned. With the
power-sharing agreement soon expected to realise a council of ministers, features of
this document are likely to transfer from Track II to Track I. An important ongoing

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search is to find and fix a regional organisation into which the envisaged regional
framework can fit. Those available are the South Asian Association for Regional
Cooperation (SAARC), the SCO, and the Istanbul Process, which is not an organisation
but has Track I institutions supporting it.
India and Pakistan are observers and are expected to attain full membership of the SCO
in 2015. Afghanistan and Iran, also observers, are likely to join in 2016. The SCO
constitutes the most effective regional organisation from the neighbourhood to gradually
replace or supplement the Istanbul Process. Whether this is an idea whose time has
come will depend on China as Russia is the key sponsor of Afghanistan's neutrality.
Until last year, China's Afghanistan policy was characterised by four Nos: No boots
on the ground, no interference in internal affairs; no use of the Northern Distribution
Network (NDN) for the withdrawal of foreign forces, and no criticism of the United
States. But that could change as it is now politically active in South Asia. A Track II
was held recently in Beijing with Afghanistan, Pakistan and China, and where Afghan
and Pakistani participants canvassed for the PRC's deeper political involvement in
Afghanistan; unlike western countries, it is not tainted with the brush of intervention.
After the signing of the Afghanistan-China Deepening Strategic and Cooperative
Partnership, President Xi said his country would enhance its economic investment as
well as enlarge its security assistance, which in the past has included the training of
police and providing non-lethal military equipment. Beijing has pledged a $327 million
grant over three years, in addition to $200 million given earlier. China's main fears
that stem from AfPak are extremism, separatism and terrorism arising especially from
the Uyghurs linked to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. Islamabad is known to
be advising Beijing to enlarge its profile in Afghanistan, consider replacing the U.S.
and expelling India.
Premier Le Keqiang suggested the formation of a peace committee comprising regional
countries to include Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan (and presumably led by China) to
talk to the Afghanistan Taliban. The proposal was shot down by Russia due to its policy
of not talking to terrorists. China follows a similar policy.
The artificial arrangement -- a forging of the National Unity Government (NUG) of
President Ghani and CEO/PM Abdullah Abdullah -- has to be constitutionally legitimised
after ratification by a Loya Jirga by the end of 2016.
Once adversaries, two five-men teams representing Mr. Abdullah's Reform and
Partnership Team and Mr. Ghani's Transformation and Continuity Party are working
together. They are busy fleshing out institutional arrangements to support the power-sharing
arrangement in which the President will define policy and vision and the CEO/PM will
execute it and preside over the Council of Ministers.

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Two deadlines confront Kabul: legitimising the NUG and assuming full charge of the
country by the end of 2016. U.S. President Barack Obama's stunning political
announcement withdrawing troops by the end of 2016 instead of 2024 was shock and
awe for the Afghans.

Parliament passes Apprentices Bill

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

The Hindu, Apprentices Bill, polity,

A Bill seeking to remove imprisonment as punishment for violating the provisions of


the Apprentices Act, 1961 and allowing employers to fix the hours of work and leave
as per their discretion or policy was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was passed by voice vote with a majority of
speakers favouring the legislation, saying it is aimed at enhancing the skills of youth
and make them employable.
Some members, however, had reservations saying certain provisions in the Bill are
"draconian" as employers have been given full powers to deal with apprentices in any
manner.
The Bill seeks to amend certain definitions, increases the minimum age for apprentices
in hazardous industries and removes imprisonment as a punishment for violating the
provisions of the Act.

The new Iron Curtain of Europe

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

migration, The Hindu, immigration, international, Europe,

At present, immigration is one of the most divisive issues confronting an already bitterly
divided Europe. In May, Eurosceptic, far-right parties in France, the U.K. and other
nations made big gains after contesting the EU elections on an anti-immigration agenda.
They received a boost on November 11, when the European Court of Justice weighed
in on the issue, ruling that the EU's richer countries could limit the access of migrants
from other EU states to welfare benefits if they migrate only to claim social aid.
In August, two Ministers in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government presented
a draft law to curb down on abuse of the country's welfare system, though there have
been very few cases of proven deception by the immigrant population.
The continent's biggest economy, Germany, is in need of a highly-skilled workforce
to keep its economy running. According to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research,
the country may need to fill up to a million jobs in science and technology-related fields
by 2020 even as, on account of low birth rate, its workforce continues to dwindle. The

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Berlin Institute for Population and Development estimates that by 2050 the number of
working-age people will decline from 53.3 to 38.6 million, while the number of
economically dependent (children and pensioners) will rise exponentially.
Changing demographics, the global recession and increasing pressure on the welfare
system has ratcheted up cultural and racial tensions in Germany. displays of xenophobia
have, however, come not only from the extreme right, which has been condemned to
the fringes of the polity since the end of World War II, but also from the AfD (Alternative
for Germany) party, whose leaders have been quoted as saying that the German identity
is "dying out" because of immigration.
After last year's tragedy off the coast of Lampedusa in Italy, in which more than 360
African refugees died after their ship caught fire and sank, there were calls for amendments
to the EU's asylum policies and wider distribution of asylum-seekers among the bloc's
nations.
The economics of a globalised world is compelling European nations to open themselves
up to immigrants. In Germany, by 2030, the number of people retiring will be twice
the number entering the labour market. In such a scenario, hounding people in search
of a life of dignity and xenophobic demagoguery would only prove detrimental to the
continent's future. More than political and economic pragmatism, it is a question of
humanity and being true to the principles on which the EU was founded. How ironic
will it be if Ms Merkel, who grew up under a communist dictatorship in East Germany,
does nothing to bring down this new Iron Curtain around Europe?

Hong Kong student leaders banned from Mong Kok protest site

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

Hong Kong, The Hindu, international, China,

The protesters are demanding open nominations for the Chinese-controlled city's next
chief executive nomination in 2017. Beijing said in August it would allow a vote, but
only among pre-screened candidates.
Lined with banks, noodle shops and gritty tenements, the streets of Mong Kok have
been a key battleground for protesters and mobs intent on disbanding them, and was
viewed as the protest site most likely to resist clearance.
While the protesters regrouped and tried to storm back onto the roads, they ultimately
failed to penetrate the mass of police armed with pepper spray and batons deployed to
defend the major traffic intersections.
The Mong Kok clearance was the second time in as many weeks that police, court
bailiffs and workers moved to enforce court-ordered injunctions to clear the streets.
The main protest site in Admiralty next to the city's chief executive office and barracks

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for China's People's Liberation Army remains largely intact. There is also a small protest
site in the Causeway Bay shopping district.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese Communist Party rule in 1997
under a "one country, two systems" formula that gave it some autonomy from the
mainland and an undated promise of universal suffrage.

Japan casts shadow on China's bullet train ambition with India

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

The Hindu, international, bullet train, China, Japan,

China is keeping its fingers crossed regarding a possible bullet- train deal with India
along the 1,754 kilometre Delhi-Chennai high speed rail corridor.
Besides, it observed that "Japan, which is also eyeing the market and has pledged to
offer a more attractive funding scheme, is a serious rival in the sector."
Highly places sources told The Hindu that the finalisation of the study of the Delhi-Chennai
corridor does not mean a commitment to award the high-speed rail contract to a Chinese
company.
China's mixed response to the prospect of a deal, which could turn travel time between
Delhi and Chennai to around 6 hours, follows its recent debacle in Mexico.

Myanmar's Suu Kyi woos military lawmakers ahead of talks on constitution

Thu, Nov 27, 2014

Myanmar, The Hindu, international, Aung San Suu Kyi,

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has invited military lawmakers to dinner
in a bid to build ties ahead of a proposed summit on changing the constitution, which
bars her from the presidency,
Mutual understanding has long been in short supply in Myanmar, which emerged in
2011 from 49 years of rule by military generals who unleashed bloody crackdowns on
pro-democracy demonstrators and imprisoned political activists.
Ms. Suu Kyi has endorsed reforms by the semi-civilian government of former general
Mr. Thein Sein.
She was famously pictured watching a military parade in Naypyitaw last year, alongside
members of the previous junta that had kept her under house arrest for more than 15
years.
But over the past year Ms. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, has been critical of the
government, accusing it of stalling the reform process.

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Her party has gathered about 5 million signatures in support of a petition to amend the
military-drafted constitution to reduce the military's role in politics.

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