Friday, 24 October 2014

Sara Zarr

Nguồn tin: nguontinviet.com

"In the end, I decide that the mark we've left on each other is the color and shape of love. That the unfinished business between us. Because love, love is never finished. It circles and circles, the memories out of order and not always complete."

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Jim Carrey

Nguồn tin: nguontinviet.com

"I would visualize things coming to me. It would just make me feel better. Visualization works if you work hard. That's the thing. You can't just visualize and go eat a sandwich."

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Andrew Lang

Nguồn tin: nguontinviet.com

"You can cover a great deal of country in books."

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Andrea Bocelli

Nguồn tin: nguontinviet.com

"All that counts in life is intention."

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Banyan: The enablers

Nguồn tin: nguontinviet.com



NOT since Indira Gandhi has a prime minister of India been as dominant as Narendra Modi. His clout comes from the big electoral victory in May of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after a remarkably personalised campaign; from a hyperactive prime minister’s office that makes Mr Modi look presidential; and from an opposition Congress party in tatters. But even the mightiest cannot rule alone, and Mr Modi relies on two old allies, both crucial. One, Amit Shah, engineers the electoral victories that give Mr Modi his authority. The other, Arun Jaitley, must take that authority and out of it craft policies and decisions that will launch the economic recovery which Mr Modi has promised and by which he will be judged. These two men are Mr Modi’s enablers.


Now the BJP’s president, Mr Shah is a master of the dark political arts—indeed, his hooded eyes give him the air of a pantomime villain. He has served Mr Modi for nearly three decades. The pair collaborated in the state of Gujarat, where Mr Modi won three elections and ruled for a dozen years. Mr Shah had charge of ten state ministries, including home affairs.


Long an outsider in the urbane circles of Delhi’s national-level politics, Mr Shah is uncomfortable in English and rarely gives interviews. When he makes an exception, as he did after state-assembly elections this month in which the BJP seized control of Maharashtra and Haryana, he mostly uses the time to extol his boss. Of himself, he says merely: “Sometimes you get more credit than you deserve.” Mr Shah is too modest. He ran both state campaigns, just as he crafted the BJP general-election success in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP). That victory was at the heart of Mr Modi’s national triumph in May.


Mr Modi stirs voters, but the alchemy of Mr Shah, who turned 50 this week, is to convert popularity into power. In UP the BJP’s share of the vote was 42%, compared with Congress’s 7.5%. That translated into 71 out of 80 of the national seats from the vast state, a golden return. Imbalances between vote share and seats are normal in first-past-the-post electoral systems, but achieving victory in India takes more skill and stamina elsewhere. Mr Shah makes minute analyses of millions-strong constituencies, imposing candidates and recruiting volunteers early, often from the Hindu-nationalist RSS organisation, where he and Mr Modi were once leaders. He tailors messages according to the audience. He has, variously, presented Mr Modi as a bringer of good economic times, a Hindu strongman and a figure of humble caste. Mr Shah has turned Hindus against Muslims (notoriously, he told Hindu Jats in UP to take electoral “revenge” following communal riots in late 2013). But he has also taken advantage of Shia Muslim antipathy towards Sunnis (in Lucknow, UP’s capital). Mr Modi’s campaigning certainly helps. He led 38 rallies in the recent state elections. Congress’s Rahul Gandhi showed up for only ten.


For all Mr Shah’s deftness, he also has a reputation as a bruiser. In 2010 he was charged over the kidnapping and murder by police (whom he oversaw) of a suspected extortionist, the man’s wife and a witness; he was also banned from Gujarat. The case remains in court. Another case, recently dropped though many details were uncontested, suggested that Mr Shah once ordered state employees to tail a female acquaintance of Mr Modi’s. Mr Shah is fiercely driven to serve his boss; it is unclear whether he cares for much else.


As for governing, Mr Modi now relies on a man who is as at ease at Delhi dinner parties as Mr Shah is uncomfortable. An urbane lawyer, Mr Jaitley holds a remarkable three cabinet posts—minister of finance, of defence and of corporate affairs. One MP recalls how in 2001 Mr Jaitley, a minister then, mentored Mr Modi, taking him to meet the capital’s power-brokers. Now Mr Modi is his boss, but as a newcomer to parliament—Mr Modi entered it for the first time in May—it helps that Mr Jaitley is a 14-year veteran of the upper house. The 61-year-old is also the prime minister’s best connection to the Delhi elite, chatting easily with politicians of all stripes and enjoying the cut-and-thrust of debate with newspaper editors. Unlike Mr Shah he lacks any electoral touch, failing even to get elected in Amritsar in May despite the BJP’s general landslide.


This month Mr Jaitley left hospital many kilos lighter following complications from an operation. He needs to be robust since no one in government, Mr Modi aside, has so many duties. As defence minister he bears some responsibility for India’s most aggressive posture in years towards Pakistan: exchanges of fire across the line of control in Kashmir have killed 19 people this month, a nasty escalation. But his biggest tasks are to overhaul India’s dysfunctional bureaucracy and to liberalise its economy. A few improvements are showing at last. Mr Jaitley is behind a flurry of initiatives in the past few days, including the appointment of a liberal chief economic adviser, Arvind Subramanian, tweaks to rules to make labour inspectors less despotic, moves to let the market set the price of diesel, and a push to overhaul subsidies for cooking gas that are the object of rampant abuse.


That is all welcome, but deeper changes are needed, certainly by March when Mr Jaitley delivers his first full budget. He says a priority is for parliament to amend the constitution to pass a national tax on goods and services that can raise revenues and foster a single market in a country riven by local protectionism. He also needs to rethink a muddled stance on liberalising global trade, make it easier for businesses to buy land and open up for more private investors.


For India, the grinding business of governing will count for far more than the showmanship on the campaign trail that Mr Modi evidently loves (this week he flitted to Kashmir, ahead of a state election there). And in the end, Mr Modi will be judged not by the accomplishments of the panto villain, but by the changes represented by his other enabler, the urbane Mr Jaitley. No point gathering political capital if you do not use it.





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Pakistan’s militants: Taliban tumult

Nguồn tin: nguontinviet.com



FOR years Pakistan’s government and army put off confronting the Pakistani Taliban and their allied fanatics who had set up what was almost a state of their own in North Waziristan, the wildest of several tribal agencies on the country’s north-west frontier with Afghanistan. The reason for such reluctance was a belief that any attack on the militants would trigger savage reprisals. Imran Khan, a populist politician perhaps most responsible for discouraging military action, has countless times predicted a big “blowback” in the cities.


Yet since the army launched a belated offensive against the militants in North Waziristan on June 15th, the number of terrorist attacks across the rest of Pakistan has fallen by nearly 30%, according to a database maintained by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies in Islamabad, the capital. Deaths from terrorism are down by more than half compared with the same period in 2013.


Indeed, the widespread assumption is that Operation Zarb-e-Azb, named after a sword of Muhammad, has badly undermined Pakistan’s militants. Independent confirmation is impossible, but the army claims it has killed more than 1,100 terrorists in North Waziristan. (More implausibly, it also claims that its “precision” air strikes have killed precisely zero civilians.) Militants appear now to have lost what was once a secure sanctuary where fighters could be trained and suicide-bombers groomed for self-destruction. The army says that more than 40 of its soldiers have been killed in the course of capturing key towns in North Waziristan, notably Mir Ali and the agency’s capital, Miran Shah. The campaign adds to the steady progress Pakistan has made in recent years in restoring its writ over the tribal areas, nearly a third of which were controlled by militants in 2007-08, the army says.


Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella organisation of militant groups officially known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), may have all but fallen apart. For that, perhaps, the United States is as much to thank as the army offensive. Nearly a year ago a CIA-operated drone managed to kill Hakimullah Mehsud, the long-haired tribesman who had run the group since 2009. His death sparked a bitter succession struggle, with the leadership eventually passing to Mullah Fazlullah, a militant who masterminded the Taliban’s takeover of his homeland of Swat, once a popular holiday destination, in early 2009.


Mr Fazlullah has since been unable to hold together an organisation traditionally ruled by members of the Mehsud tribe. For his own safety against government attacks, he moved to eastern Afghanistan, a choice that earned him disparagement among fellow jihadists. Meanwhile, disagreements grew over whether the movement should negotiate with the Pakistani government. To date four separate groups have split off from the original TTP, two later merging with each other. They have taken much of the TTP’s fighting force with them.


In September a group calling itself the Punjabi Taliban announced that it would abandon domestic terrorism in favour of preaching and waging war in Afghanistan instead. Some analysts took that as a sign that Pakistan’s military spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), has had some success in directing the energies of militants towards creating chaos elsewhere in the region.


A long-standing ISI policy of fighting only those seeking to topple the Pakistani state while tolerating or even supporting groups on Pakistani soil that restrict their violence to Afghanistan and India has long been a source of despair to Pakistan’s Western allies. They point out that, wherever they operate, militants with bases in Pakistan share ideas, fighters and often allegiances. Western spooks appear convinced that the Haqqani network, a particularly lethal Afghan insurgent group, received ample warning and even assistance from the ISI in making their escape from bases in North Waziristan before the launch of Zarb-e-Azb.


Sowing further discord among the jihadists is the excitement generated by the success of Islamic State (IS) in conquering swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. Leaflets praising IS and declaring Pakistan, Afghanistan and bits of India to be part of a caliphate have been circulated in Pakistan’s north-western city of Peshawar. This month six senior TTP leaders announced that they had declared their allegiance to IS’s “caliph”, Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi.


As for al-Qaeda, the terrorist group now in competition with IS for leadership of the global jihad movement, it is attempting to shore up its position in Pakistan, where American drones have killed many of its leaders. Last month the group announced a new franchise, called al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. However, its first big operation, an apparently overreaching plan to hijack a Pakistani frigate and attack American warships, came to naught after it was foiled by a guard.


Although the army’s battlefield success, splits in the TTP’s ranks and a tug-of-war between IS and al-Qaeda have reduced violence in Pakistan, hopes of this lasting are not high. Jihadist militancy has a record of evolving for the worse, and the especially loathsome tactics of Islamic State may inject a new radicalism into Pakistan’s already ferocious militant groups. And for as long as the army’s spy agency continues to regard some militants as helpful to its regional designs, then Pakistan is unlikely to be properly at peace.





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Indonesia’s new president: Taking the reins

Nguồn tin: nguontinviet.com


Oh what joy it is to ride


EVERYONE loves a politician with a common touch—except that politician’s security detail. After Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, was inaugurated as Indonesia’s seventh president, he and his vice-president, Jusuf Kalla, rode through central Jakarta to the presidential palace in an open horse-drawn carriage, their wives following along behind. Tens of thousands of well-wishers lined the path, banners saluting “the people’s president”. As ever, he reached out to them. Only the security men in black suits failed to look elated.


More hard-bitten observers did not share the crowd’s optimism. They set the simple, almost innocent demeanour of this grass-roots politician against the ruthlessness of the old guard he beat. It is determined to fight hard to preserve its wealth and privilege—and parties sympathetic to his opponent in the presidential election, Prabowo Subianto, control the legislature. Such observers are writing Jokowi off as a decent man but a political naif.


Yet the demeanour masks canny political instincts. Since Jokowi’s victory in July, Mr Prabowo has attempted to frustrate him at every turn, starting by claiming spuriously that the election had been stolen. Leading up to the inauguration, Mr Prabowo, a former son-in-law of Suharto, the late dictator, along with Aburizal Bakrie, a tycoon who heads Suharto’s former party, threatened to boycott the ceremony. But Jowoki ran rings around them by making them look petty. They attended the inauguration after all, and when Jokowi mentioned Mr Prabowo by name, the former special-forces general snapped to attention and saluted his new commander-in-chief. The battles with the old guard are only beginning. But Jokowi intends to appeal to ordinary Indonesians if the parliament obstructs attempts to transform both the country’s corrupt, grasping politics and the lives of ordinary Indonesians. A common touch can pack a punch.


Jokowi promises to “move together to work, work and work.” He wants to offer free health care and 12 years of schooling to every Indonesian. More tourism across the archipelago can generate jobs. He says ports are in urgent need of improvement. And he thinks a little investment directed at 20m Indonesians dependent on small-scale fisheries would go a long way. Above all, he must cut the fuel subsidies that consume a fifth of the budget, redirecting the savings to education and the like. Falling oil prices give him the opportunity.


But first he needs a cabinet, and despite repeated assurances that one was imminent, as The Economist went to press its line-up had yet to be announced. Partly, the delay was because in the Javanese political way, nothing is brisk—even Suharto took forever over his cabinets. Partly, the new president has been trying to chop and change an unwieldy number of ministries: some want a new ministry for maritime affairs and port works, for instance.


But mainly, Jokowi has to balance a desire for a technocratic government in key areas such as finance and resources with the many demands for seats coming from his Indonesian Party of Democratic Struggle, the PDI-P. Its matriarch is Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia’s founder, and room will presumably be found for her daughter. Not all potential cabinet appointees are placemen or hacks. But the names of several have been cause for concern when brought to the anti-corruption commission, charged with vetting a new cabinet—another source of delay.





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