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However, these efforts may be impacted by instability at home. Between 2000 and 2014, approximately 1.8 million Russians left the country “under [Putin’s] watch,” said Polyakova, citing official numbers from the Russian Federation. “This trend has only intensified,” she added.

Harsh repression of civil society, sparse economic opportunity and the lack of an independent media have contributed to this exodus. “The very individuals who should be staying in Russia…to make it a great power in the economic sense, those are the individuals who are abandoning their country,” said Polyakova.

Ultimately, the question of migration is a specific issue “which gives us insight to a larger issue in Russia,” according to John Herbst, director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.

Polyakova joined Evgenia Chirikova, a Russian environmentalist; Sergei Erofeev, consultant at Rutgers University; and Mikhail Kokorich, president and co-founder of Astro Digital, Inc., to discuss the scale and significance of the ongoing wave of…


Winning was the easy part

With his uncanny knack for keeping his finger firmly on the pulse of Indian voters, he knows that what they really want is a different India.


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It is not just because the election in Uttar Pradesh was a rehearsal for 2019 that the results from this state are more important than the rest. The real significance of the remarkable mandate that this state has given Narendra Modi (not the BJP) is that voters see him as a new kind of political leader. He seems to have sensed this because in the first speech he gave after the results he spoke of building ‘a new India’.

With his uncanny knack for keeping his finger firmly on the pulse of Indian voters, he knows that what they really want is a different India. This is especially true in Uttar Pradesh where crumbling walls of caste and religion have been kept standing by cynical politicians who benefit more than voters. These walls have decaying foundations and would have fallen long ago if a political leader…THE INDIAN EXPRESS



A girl sits beside a picture of former Panamanian leader Manuel Antonio Noriega, in Panama City January 29, 2009.REUTERS / Picture from Newsweek


It was 1995 and I was inside a federal prison in Miami, interviewing General Manuel Antonio Noriega in a claustrophobic cell. The Panamanian strongman was smaller than I had remembered from when I had tried—and failed—to speak to him years earlier in Panama. He didn’t resemble the machete-wielding murderer the U.S. had made him out to be.

I thought of this encounter earlier this month when I learned Noriega was in a coma after brain surgery in a hospital in Panama City. After that initial prison interview, Random House hired me to gather Noriega’s memoirs for a book. What emerged was less a story about Noriega than a cautionary tale about an American president who misled the country for political purposes.

Following about a year of Miami jailhouse interviews, Random House published the memoir, America’s Prisoner . The publisher paid a flat fee for my work, and I had no financial connection to Noriega. Separately and independently, I evaluated what he had to say and provided more than 70 pages of my own analysis of U.S. policy leading up to the invasion. To sum up his view of what…NEWSWEEK

Angela Merkel knows she must defuse Donald Trump’s threat to Europe

Natalie Nougayrède | MARCH 17 2017

Natalie Nougayrède


During his campaign, Trump had called Merkel’s migration policies “catastrophic”. Merkel delivered her own kind of blow, on the day of his election, stating that cooperation with the US could only exist on the basis of values, which meant respect for the inalienable dignity of mankind, whatever one’s origins or beliefs. After that, there were further, indirect swipes over trade, tariffs and Germany’s role in the eurozone.

It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that never since the second world war have a US president and a German leader been at such odds. Even during the transatlantic bust-up over the 2003 Iraq war, disagreements between George W Bush and Gerhard Schröder were managed with a veneer of diplomacy. (Remember how Condoleezza Rice, the then US secretary of state, reportedly said…


By way of preface

India, and the world, are changing. Our collective responsibility — to make politics and policy more creative — grows more urgent


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The fallacy of ‘growth’ | Cartoonist Nick Anderson; source & courtesy – cartoonistgroup / Cartoon via Google

I had written for newspapers earlier, but serious journalism began in 1982. George Verghese, then editor of The Indian Express, asked Mrinal Datta Chaudhuri, senior professor at the Delhi School of Economics, if he would write a column on economics. Mrinal, out of characteristic generosity, and an awareness of his own work ethic, passed the buck on to me and persuaded Verghese. And I took the plunge with my column: “Economic Graffiti”. It turned out to be one of my best decisions. I was 30, more interested in economic theory and philosophy than in policy and politics. The column became my tether to the real world. I came to understand journalism’s critical role in society — that of holding our leaders and…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

A PM like Indira Gandhi

Like her, Modi has established his dominance. But can he move beyond her legacy, to rule by persuasion?



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In political practice, despite genetic lineage, Indira Gandhi was anti-Nehru. The masses, on the whole, adored her. But intra-party dissent was crushed; civil society organisations were harassed; government interfered in universities, getting left-leaning academics in positions of power; disagreeing judges were afraid; state-level leaders came to be appointed by her, not by regional wings of the party. Regardless, based on her personal popularity, the Congress party kept winning power in most states (except for 1977), though not in as many as under Nehru. She was dominant, not hegemonic.

In his politics, Modi is more like Indira Gandhi than Nehru. Under his leadership, the BJP is ruling in many more states than ever before. But opposition within the BJP rarely raises its head. Marginalised by Modi’s popularity, the seniors are fading…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Victor and the vanquished

BJP’s dominance could turn into hubris. But what if opposition’s despair turns into more timidity?


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Picture shows celebration / Image via Google

Narendra Modi has scripted another spectacular political triumph. Before the election, there was a lot of hollow speculation; after the election, there will be many post-mortems. But there is no denying one straightforward fact: Modi is an unprecedented phenomenon in the annals of popular politics. He has reduced his competition to minions fighting over scraps. He has weathered every criticism. He has taken every risk and put himself on the line. He has defied every prediction, and written his own script of popular acclamation. No conventional wisdom of politics applies to him. Modi still manages to make other parties look like tired, corrupt, negative emblems of the past; people still repose faith in him as the energetic, clean, dynamic, hopeful repository of the future. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, it will be churlish not to acknowledge this political fact.

The election consolidates the BJP’s dominance. The BJP’s triumph in UP, coming on the heels of a strong showing in local polls in Maharashtra and Orissa, consolidates its electoral dominance. This is made more robust by its social dominance — its social base now has an unprecedented depth and breadth. It has negated ossified…


Inside track: Shahanshah

Amit Shah runs a one-man show in which there is little room for debate or consensus.


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Amit Shah exerts more influence in the party than any past president, including loh purush L K Advani in his hey day. Shah runs a one-man show in which there is little room for debate or consensus. Some time back a visitor to the BJP office on Ashoka Road was taken aback to find that all BJP office-bearers present in the building were at pains to rush to the gate to receive Shah when he arrived. No other president was given such a ceremonial reception. A major English TV channel which displayed the exit poll results and the actual seat tallies, used Shah’s photo to…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Telescope: The final build-up

News channels will regale you with numerical figures, confuse you with psephologists figuring out their data and try to figure out how to best rile the politicians.




This evening, you may experience a “brain fade” a la Steve Smith, when the exit polls for five state assembly elections take over a screen near you.  News channels will regale you with numerical figures, confuse you with psephologists figuring out their data and try to figure out how to best rile the politicians. It will be fun: The politicians from contesting parties will either welcome the “verdicts” or rubbish them; each will claim that no matter what the aggregated “poll of polls” say, their party will win a majority, handily.

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They have to, it’s all part of the “game of thrones”, as TV news calls it, in which there are no losers, only victors. For viewers to derive maximum pleasure from the “poll khol” (the name of ABP’s satirical show) they must play along. It would be political suicide for any politician to admit defeat, that too on national TV and they…THE INDIAN EXPRESS

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