I met late professor T.N. Srinivasan (popularly known as TN) a couple of months before he passed away in November 2018. Despite his original contributions to trade theory, ¬development economics, inequality and poverty, he never won the Nobel in economics. His colleague at Yale had once ¬remarked that TN would get not one but two Nobels. I was too much in awe of TN to ask this question but my friend asked him directly if he could think of an Indian economist who might win the Nobel for economics in the near future. He said, “Abhijit but not so soon”. He was right but not entirely.
Success has many parents – so the saying goes. In the case of the massive successes of international agricultural research, no one person can claim parentage. There are heroes along the way such as Norman Borlaug and his early cereal breeding, and the team that eliminated the cattle disease Rinderpest from the world – smallpox is the only other disease that has been totally eradicated. Another is the founder of The Crawford Fund, Derek Tribe, who was also instrumental in the creation of what is now the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which I chair. However, it would be more correct to highlight the thousands of scientists who have contributed to the world’s greatest feat of feeding an extra three billion people when pundits said it was impossible.
Currently, the topic of abortion as human rights leaves the world bustling. When the state of Alabama1
in the United States enacted a very strict ban on abortion, it shocked the world. This prompted so-called conservative movements, led by female business owners, to make a full-scale advertisement in the New York Times claiming abortion is a human right2
; hence the global debate between pro-life and pro-choice
For the first time since a new development agenda was adopted in 2015 to make the world a better place for everyone, government leaders assembled at the United Nations in late September to take stock of progress. The verdict of this summit was not good.
In a 1974 article, Woody Allen poked fun at biblical stories presenting ludicrous paraphrases of The Book of Job
, Abraham´s intended sacrifice of his son Isaac, as well as The Book of Proverbs
. One of Allen´s invented proverbs was: “The wicked at heart probably know something”, thus implementing that the “pure of heart”, i.e. credulous people, know nothing. 1
A month ago I visited Jersey, one of the few European territories still welcoming refugees, though in the case of Jersey they have to be wealthy and are generally fleeing not from war and misery, but from taxes. Once Jersey and the nearby island of Guernsey harbored one of Europe´s most famous political refugees – Victor Hugo (1802-1885), who after he had been too outspoken in his criticism of the autocrat Louis Napoleon found it more convenient to live on the Channel Islands than in France. In spite of being very close to France and with a population that at the time was mainly French-speaking, these islands were nevertheless British territory.
Over the years, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has worked in tandem with legislators and parliamentarians to help implement the historic Programme of Action (PoA) adopted unanimously by over 20,000 UN delegates at a landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo back in 1994.
The United Nations held its first major international conference in one of America’s mountain states, bringing scores of civil society organizations (CSOs) to discuss ways on making “cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable by 2030.”
It has been a long, arduous journey – a journey ridden curiously with obstacles and indifference. Two decades have passed by since the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted, by consensus and without reservation, its landmark and norm-setting resolution 53/243
on the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace in 1999.
The past five years have been the hottest on record in Asia and the Pacific. Unprecedented heatwaves have swept across our region, cascading into slow onset disasters such as drought. Yet heat is only part of the picture. Tropical cyclones have struck new, unprepared parts of our region and devastatingly frequent floods have ensued. In Iran, these affected 10 million people this year and displaced 500,000 of which half were children. Bangladesh is experiencing its fourth wave of flooding in 2019. Last year, the state of Kerala in India faced the worst floods in a century.
Graduate students of the London School of Economics and Political Science gathered at Kenya’s coast in September 2018, where the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Dr Mukhisa Kituyi told them: “With your international credibility, it is easier and tempting to leave and take out of the continent the little intellectual resource that could solve problems their countries face.”
Fourteen-year-old Fanta lives in a tent in a settlement in Zamaï, a village in the Far North Region of Cameroon with her mother and two brothers. They came here more than a year ago after her father and elder brother were murdered and her elder sister abducted by the extremist group Boko Haram.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is convinced that the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth-- a quarter of the global population—have a key role to play in helping implement the UN’s 2030 Development Agenda.
We live in different worlds. The ones of friends, family and work colleagues. Worlds which are overshadowed by other, much bigger ones. Global spheres of international finance, politics, climate change, etc., contexts that might threaten our smaller circle of relationships; our family, our income, our general wellbeing, in short – our entire existence. However, even at those levels there exist small circles of acquaintances and associates able to make decisions that affect the entire humankind. Let me take one example – the regimes of U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, which are menacing our global natural habitat.
Being fluent in a world language is a desirable skill in modern day society. However, some languages are suffering and in danger of extinction -- namely those of the indigenous peoples.
There are several initiatives in place to foster sustainable development-- and the Global Geodetic Reference governance frame is one that has proved effective.
In 2019 a female scientist created an algorithm that gave the world the first ever images of a black hole. Working with a team of astronomers, physicists, mathematicians and engineers, a young woman led the development of a computer program that in her own words enabled them to “achieve something once thought impossible.”
Trying to teach and inspire youngsters is a daunting task. Many teachers tend to suffer from a harrowing, bad conscience, obliged as they are to follow routines, rules, and regulations set down by their employers while knowing that these are difficult to apply and provide with desired results. Worst is a nagging feeling of inability to reach out to the students. Most teachers want their pupils to be good learners, critically thinking individuals who feel gratified and keen to change things for the better.
For the family of indigenous Guatemalan activist Jorge Juc, the announcement last week by US President Donald Trump of an agreement declaring Guatemala a “safe third country” could not be more bitterly ironic.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They live in all geographic regions and represent 5000 different cultures. These people are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to others yet are being forced to give up their ways of life.
Over 100 years ago a little brown passenger pigeon named Martha died in the Cincinnati Zoo. She was the last of her breed. Just like that, in an instant, a bird species that had once numbered in the billions was wiped out forever.