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  • The Old Democracy
    November, 2010 By Ambika Vishwanath

    Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, has always been hailed as a confluence of the East and West – where Europe meets Asia over the Bosphoros; where French style bistros and cafes line the streets and share a comfortable space with age old Ottoman mosques; where culture and daily life have evolved into a unique blend of tradition and modernity. On a recent visit to Turkey this idea was reinforced in many ways, and I realized that as unique as this blend is, it is not an entirely new concept or purely a product of Attaturk’s vision.

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  • Seat at the High Table
    November, 2010 By Sanaa Arora

    The recently concluded UN Security Council elections for the 2011-2012 term saw India returning to the “High Table” after a gap of 19 years. India’s victory was expected as it was the sole candidate for the Asian seat, after Kazakhstan withdrew earlier this year. However the margin by which it won has made domestic audience in India ecstatic. India received support from 187 out of 192 countries, an impressive victory which is being touted as a record win in recent years. India’s success is particularly sweet after the embarrassing loss it suffered in 1996 when it received only 40 votes and lost to Japan. The comfortable entry into the Council this time around has been hailed as a diplomatic success. 

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  • Recognizing Israel as a Jewish democratic state: Religious politics in the Middle East
    November, 2010 By Gitanjali Bakshi

    Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state has become the most recent obstacle to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace process. After weeks of negotiations about an extension on a settlement freeze in the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an offer: a two month extension freeze in return for open recognition from the Palestinian Authority that Israel is a Jewish democratic state.  

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  • 1001 Inventions
    October, 2010 By Ilmas Futehally

    On a recent visit to Istanbul, I noticed a new structure in the historic Sultanahmet area where the Ayasofya, the Sultan Ahmet (Blue Mosque), the Hippodrome and several other imposing monuments are located. Some of these trace their history back to the 3rd century BC.  The new structure housed the 1001 Inventions exhibition that traces the forgotten story of a thousand years of science from the Muslim world from the 7th century onwards, and how it was impacted by discoveries from other civilizations- the Indian, Persian, Greek and Chinese.

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  • Takaful: An Emerging Industry in the Middle East
    October, 2010 By Shivangi Muttoo

    Takaful or Islamic insurance is becoming increasingly popular in the Middle East particularly in GCC nations because it is suited to the principles of Islam. The region has a large untapped insurance market because conventional insurance has certain elements like gambling, uncertainty and interest which are prohibited by Islam. This is one of the reasons for the almost negligible growth of the conventional insurance sector. Since takaful accounts for Islamic principles, it has enormous potential to emerge as a suitable alternative to conventional insurance in the Middle East.  

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  • A Settlement on Settlements
    October, 2010 By Gitanjali Bakshi

    Everyone involved in the current Israel-Palestine peace negotiations waited with bated breath for the 26th of September - the day the 10-month Israeli freeze on settlement building expired. Would Netanyahu extend the moratorium as a gesture of sincerity towards peace negotiations? Would Abbas be able to save face among the Palestinians if he didn’t?  Will Obama’s effort to attend to a two-state solution actually amount to something? Or is this the end? The answers to these questions will set the course of Israel-Palestine relations for the next 12 months. 

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  • One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
    October, 2010 By Anumita Raj

    For close to 20 years now, India has been striving to be a major player in the global arena. Moving away from decades of non-alignment and closed markets, India has shed its socialist roots to embrace the world more firmly. And in doing so, it has received attention as a potential global superpower. As every year passes, more voices join the chorus, wondering why exactly all the buzz hasn’t translated into concrete action. 

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  • Vietnam’s ‘Capital’ Concern
    October, 2010 By Joyanto Mukherjee

    Vietnam’s capital Hanoi is proposing a master plan to develop the city and also plug the migration into the city, a plan which may have severe repercussions on the informal sector which enters the capital every year. The law is expected to be approved this month when Hanoi celebrates it 1000 years of existence. No other capital in Asia and arguably across the world has attempted such a law which would potentially deride the city of over half its population. 

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