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Showing posts from December 13, 2020

Raiders of the Propaganda Arc: The CCP Touts Archaeology to Boost China’s “Cultural Self-Confidence”

Image: On May 11, 2020, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping visited the Yungang Grottoes [云冈石窟] near Datong City (Shanxi Province) to "inspect the historical and cultural heritage preservation situation." The CCP’s New Propaganda Campaign to Promote “Cultural Self-Confidence” The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which once encouraged mass campaigns of vandalism directed against antiquities and other symbols of China’s imperial history during the Cultural Revolution, has embarked on an effort to promote the value of archaeology and historical studies. Archaeology has been widely disdained in recent years among Chinese youth as a “cold door” university major [冷门专业] and a field that offers poor pay and limited career prospects. However, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has lent his direct personal involvement to a multifaceted effort to extol the value of archaeology and the study of China’s ancient history. This effort is bound up with a new propaganda campaign to promote “cultural

Chart of the Week

The Moscow-brokered Sochi Agreement, following Ankara's October 2019 incursion into northern Syria, left the Turkish armed forces and their Syrian auxiliaries in control of a 30-kilometre-deep area between the border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain. Russian military police and Damascus's border guards were to replace Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) members along the border and ceasefire line, with joint Russian-Turkish border patrols to the east and west. Our  Chart of the Week  this week maps out current areas of control in Syria.  Pro-Turkish forces this week resumed rocket attacks on the edge of Ain Issa, amid intensifying clashes with Kurdish fighters near the strategic M4 road, days after the SDF agreed that Russia and Syrian government forces could establish positions near Ain Issa, as a counter to increased military pressure from Ankara around the buffer zone it captured in 2019.

Is the AI software market headed for $150 billion or closer to $37 billion?

Forrester organizes artificial intelligence software into four buckets to get a more reality-based understanding of the market size through 2025. By  Veronica Combs   |   December 14, 2020, 10:51 AM PST A new analysis from Forrester breaks down the AI software market into four categories to get a more accurate estimate of the growth potential for the category. Image: Forrester Artificial intelligence is being absorbed into existing software products as this functionality becomes a standard feature instead of a special capability. This means that the overall category will be smaller than what some analysts are predicting, according to a new report from Forrester. "The AI Software Market Will Grow to $37 billion globally by 2025" explains why AI platforms will have the advantage in the long run, despite fast growth in AI-infused apps in the short term. Estimates for the size of this market by 2025 range from  $390 billion from Grand View Research  to $126 billion by Tractica. I

India slips two spots to 131 on human development index 2020, ranks low on gender equality

India slips two spots to 131 on human development index 2020, ranks low on gender equality The UN report says labour force participation rate of women in India was 20.5% in 2019 against 76.1% men. REVATHI KRISHNAN 17 December, 2020 Representational image | Young children accompany their mothers on a stroll in Chunni Kalan village of Mohali, Punjab | Praveen Jain | ThePrint New Delhi:  India dropped two spots to 131 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI) this year, according to a report prepared by the United Nations Development Programme. The country ranked  129  on HDI in 2019 and 130 in 2018. Titled ‘ Human Development Report 2020: The Next Frontier Human Development and the Anthropocene ’, the  survey  report was released Tuesday. The HDI is a combination of people’s life expectancy at birth, expected years of schooling, mean years of schooling and a country’s gross national income per capita. With a total HDI value of 0.645, India was placed in the ‘medium human

Pakistan to fence off Gwadar to shield China's Belt and Road port

Separating part of city shows Beijing's impatience in face of insurgency KARACHI -- Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan is putting up barbed wire around large parts of the port city of Gwadar to protect Belt and Road projects from potential attacks by insurgents. The provincial government plans to fence off 24 sq. km of the city, the center stage of $50 billion in Belt and Road projects in Pakistan. The fencing will surround the deep seaport, built and operated by China. However, the China-funded New Gwadar International Airport and 80 newly built housing projects will fall outside of the fence. According to local media reports, there will only be two entry points to the fenced part of the city, and more than 500 high-definition cameras will be installed for surveillance. Amir Rana, executive director of the Pakistan Institutes of Peace Studies, termed Gwadar Pakistan's first "sealed city," fenced off on the grounds of security, in an op-ed in a local

Mohan Guruswamy | How rise in inequality distorts Indian society

Dec 18, 2020, 7:23 am IST Deccan Chronicle.  |  Mohan Guruswamy Opinion ,  Columnists The nature of the institutions determines outcomes, not the means of production or processes News In 2013 the French economist Thomas Piketty released  Capital in the Twenty-First Century , a magnum opus on income inequality. It was an event book very much like Stephen Hawking’s  A Brief History of Time . Hawking’s book sold as many as 10 million copies, by comparison Piketty’s tome had 2.4 million buyers so far. Such event books are more often than not read by only a fraction of the buyers. Speaking for myself, I still have somewhere a slightly read copy of James Joyce’s  Ulysses , still considered by the cognoscenti as the foremost work of modern literature.  It is said that an analysis of Kindle readers of the Piketty book revealed that a typical reader got through 26 of its 700 pages. But have no fear, those first 26 pages have all you need to know. They encapsulate the rationale and results of Pi

Balochistan: Pakistan's land of the disappeared

Reuters The couple comes from Balochistan, but Hani denies they had any links to anti-government groups. Synopsis The men accused the couple of being part of a terrorist organisation from Balochistan, the vast, mineral-rich southern province where the military is fighting a low-level insurgency, Hani said. By  AFP Last Updated:  Dec 17, 2020, 11:52 AM IST Karachi:  Hani Baloch  and her fiance Nasim never thought of themselves as dissidents, but one day in May -- just weeks before their wedding -- the students were snatched by armed and hooded men she says were from  Pakistan 's security services. The men accused the couple of being part of a terrorist organisation from  Balochistan , the vast, mineral-rich southern province where the  military  is fighting a low-level insurgency, Hani said. ADVERTISEMENT Speaking from her small apartment in the megacity of Karachi -- just 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the province's border -- Hani told AFP how they were whisked off to a secret

Indian armed forces must prepare personnel to shoulder responsibilities at all levels of new unified commands

This calls for a major overhaul of our system of professional military education as well as doctrines. Written by  Arun Prakash  | Updated: December 16, 2020 9:22:53 am It is disheartening to note Smith’s comment about the ‘utter failure of DSSC to impart a true sense of jointness in its graduates’. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar) The year 2020 will, no doubt, earn the title of annus horribilis on account of the Chinese-origin  COVID-19 . But for India, it brought a “triple whammy” in the form of the near-simultaneous onset of an economic crisis, a health  pandemic  and a military confrontation. As the three crises unfold, their management by India’s decision-makers is being closely watched by a concerned populace. Overlaid on this anxiety is a nagging worry that activities like law enforcement, the dispensation of justice and unbiased media-coverage — whose proper discharge undergirds a healthy democracy — are faltering on account of political pressures. In this bleak scenario, the on

It is time to talk about caste in Pakistan and Pakistani diaspora

Shaista Abdul Aziz Patel Assistant Professor of Critical Muslim Studies at the University of California, San Diego. 15 Dec 2020 There are about 40 castes in Pakistan [File: AP/K.M. Chaudary] On September 29, Manisha Valmiki, a 19-year-old Dalit girl succumbed to her injuries from a gang rape committed by four Thakur (upper-caste) men in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. News of the incident caused outrage across India and the rest of the world, including in Pakistan and the diaspora. I and many fellow Pakistanis have actively participated in social media campaigns demanding justice for Valmiki. But few of us have said much about another horrendous death of a Dalit woman. On September 30, just a day after Valmiki’s death, 17-year-old Momal Meghwar took her own life in the village of Dalan-Jo-Tarr in Sindh province, Pakistan. A year earlier, she had been brutally raped and filmed by three men who have remained at large. Meghwar was the 58th woman to take her own life this year in Thar a