December 2007


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Russia lives in history—and history lives in Russia. Throughout much of the 20th century, the Soviet Union cast an ominous shadow over the world. It was the U.S.’s dark twin. But after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia receded from the American consciousness as we became mired in our own polarized politics. And it lost its place in the great game of geopolitics, its significance dwarfed not just by the U.S. but also by the rising giants of China and India. That view was always naive.

Russia is central to our world—and the new world that is being born.

  • It is the largest country on earth;
  • it shares a 2,600-mile (4,200 km) border with China;
  • it has a significant and restive Islamic population;
  • it has the world’s largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and a lethal nuclear arsenal;
  • it is the world’s second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia; and
  • it is an indispensable player in whatever happens in the Middle East.

For all these reasons, if Russia fails, all bets are off for the 21st century. And if Russia succeeds as a nation-state in the family of nations, it will owe much of that success to one man, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

(more…)

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(June 21, 1953 – December 27, 2007) 

Bhutto, Pakistan’s opposition leader and twice previously prime minister, was killed in a suicide bombing on Thursday as she campaigned in the northern city of Rawalpindi, ahead of elections due in January. She had spent many years in exile in Britain, only returning to her homeland earlier this year.

Bhartiya Naagrik” pays tribute to the leader who was believed to be the only hope for establishing democracy in Pakistan.

Washington post:

Bhutto was fearless, from her college years in America to her cruel assassination yesterday. She had an unshakable belief that Pakistan should embrace the modern world with the same confidence and courage that she had. She believed in democracy, freedom and openness — not as slogans but as a way of life.

Gordon Brown, UK PM:

Benazir Bhutto was a woman of immense personal courage and bravery. Knowing, as she did, the threats to her life, the previous attempt at assassination, she risked everything in her attempt to win democracy in Pakistan, and she has been assassinated by cowards afraid of democracy.

David Cameron, a conservative leader:

Today Pakistan has lost one of its bravest daughters. Those responsible have not only murdered a courageous leader but have put at risk hopes for the country’s return to democracy.

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Before bidding goodbye to 2007, here is a list of top 10 NRI newsmakers – the achievers and those who suffered.

The selection is subjective, based on news value and the degree of interest and concern to NRIs.

1. Sunita Williams: As a woman and an NRI, she made everyone proud with her new record for the longest uninterrupted space flight by a woman in June. “Planet Earth looks beautiful from space. There are no borders on the Earth,” she said, recounting her space experience of 195-days aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The Shuttle’s re-entry held everyone on edge but its smooth landing made history. Reminding Indians about the late Kalpana Chawla, Sunita visited India in September and made news wherever she went.

2. Bobby Jindal: In October, the 36-year-old Jindal became the youngest US governor of a state in the US and the first chief executive of any state who is of Indian-American descent. He won convincingly against heavy odds by over 50 per cent of the primary votes against a field of 12 candidates. Now, can an NRI in the US dream of the White House?

3. Sir Salman Rushdie: In June, the Queen knighted him for his services to English literature. Rushdie went into hiding and was in police protection in 1989 under threat of death after an Iranian fatwa as his book The Satanic Verses offended Muslims worldwide and a bounty was placed on his head. He returned to public life in 1999 and has remained a secularist. This year, he was separated from his wife, the model Padma Lakshmi. (more…)