Asia-Pacific

Drug Use is a Health Issue – We Need to Decriminalize

Earlier this month, and in December 2020 the Government of Samoa conducted operations that resulted in the confiscation of a total of 1,400 grams of methamphetamine at the border, smuggled from the US. The law enforcement officials (from the Ministry of Customs and Revenue and the Ministry of Police and Prisons) that intercepted these drugs deserve congratulations for their professionalism and skill. Meth is destructive and harmful - and it is good to see this potential threat removed from the community.

Myanmar: Heroes and Villains

Myanmar’s State Counsellor was recently deposed and arrested along with other leaders of her ruling party – National League for Democracy (NLD). The Leader of Tatmadaw, the Military, Min Aung Hlaing, announced that elections in November last year had been fraudulent and in an “effort to save democracy” the military would now rule the nation for at least one year, until new elections could be organised. Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi is accused of “importing ten or more walkie-talkies” and of violating the nation’s “Natural Disaster Law”. Some might agree that Suu Kyi deserves to be locked up. As an admired role model and Nobel Peace Prize winner, she was globally depicted as an almost saintlike being, canonized in movies like Luc Bessons’s The Lady. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, watched the movie before she in 2011 visited Suu Kyi, who by then had spent altogether fifteen years in house imprisonment, deprived of the company of an ailing and eventually dying husband and two sons. In spite of her forced isolation she became an eloquent representative for her compatriots’ resistance and perseverance under almost fifty years of military dictatorship.

Sustainable Energy Key to COVID-19 Recovery in Asia and the Pacific

The past year is one that few of us will forget. While the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have played out unevenly across Asia and the Pacific, the region has been spared many of the worst effects seen in other parts of the world. The pandemic has reminded us that a reliable and uninterrupted energy supply is critical to managing this crisis.

The Boon and Bane of LDC Graduation: The Bangladesh Experience

Bangladeshis at the present time share a modicum of justifiable pride in the fact that the world merits this country worth watching in terms of its economic potentials. To my mind , we have reached this stage for the following reasons: First, effective utilization of early foreign assistance; second a steady ,albeit sustained, move away from a near -socialistic to an open and liberal economy; third , a shift from agriculture to manufacturing as land-space shrank to accommodate urbanization; fourth , an unleashing of remarkable entrepreneurial spirit among private sector captains of industry, as evidenced in the Ready Made Garments industry: fifth, the prevalence of a vibrant civil society intellectually aiding the social transformation with its focus on health, education, and gender issues: and finally ,a long period of political stability notwithstanding the traditional predilections of Bengali socio-political activism.

Is This The End of Myanmar’s Quasi-Democracy?

On February 1st, 2021 the military of Myanmar overthrew the country’s democratic government in a coup d’etat followed by arresting more than 40 government officials including Aung San Suu Kyi. The military declared a year-long state of emergency under the rule of it’s Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Troops took over the streets, a night-time curfew has been put into force. Tens of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets across Myanmar, in what is seen as the biggest street protests in more than a decade. The anti-coup demonstrators are undeterred by police attacks and increasing violence from the security forces.

Money vs. Happiness

The question whether the rich are more satisfied with their lives is often taken for granted, even though surveys, like the Gallup World Poll, show that the relationship between subjective well-being and income is often weak, except in low-income countries in Africa and South Asia. Researcher Daniel Kahneman and his collaborators, for example, report that the correlation between household income and reported life satisfaction or happiness with life typically ranges from 0.15 to 0.30. There are a few plausible reasons. First, growth in income mostly has a transitory effect on individuals’ reported life satisfaction, as they adapt to material goods. Second, relative income, rather than the level of income, affects well-being — earning more or less than others looms larger than how much one earns. Third, though average life satisfaction in countries tends to rise with GDP per capita at low levels of income, there is little increase in life satisfaction once GDP per capita exceeds $10,000 (in purchasing power parity). This article studies the relationships between subjective well-being, which is narrowly defined to focus on economic well-being in India, and variants of income, based on the only panel survey in India Human Development Survey (IHDS).

Overcoming the Learning Divide: Assessing What Students Missed During School Closings for COVID-19

School closings and the varied impacts of remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic are a global challenge. Educators worldwide have been struggling to meet contemporary educational standards in this environment. But this challenge is followed by yet another: how to assess the readiness of students to resume in-school education when schools open. At BRAC, the international nongovernmental organization that operates 25,000 schools in Bangladesh, serving 750,000 students, we have developed an approach that could be helpful.

Pacific Islanders Turn to Local Economies to Drive Post-pandemic Recovery

While Pacific Island countries have, so far, been spared a catastrophic spread of COVID-19, their economies have been devastated by the effects of border closures, internal lockdowns and the demise of international tourism and trade. With the global pandemic far from over, Pacific Islanders are looking to their local and regional economies to drive resilience and recovery.

India Glacier Disaster: In a Warming World is there no Less Lethal Way to Power Development?

On Sunday morning, Feb. 7, as most of the working-class in India’s Himalayan State of Uttarakhand went about their chores, the glacier-fed Rishi Ganga river started rising. Two hours later, swollen with rock debris and snowmelt, its waters rose 53 feet — the height equivalent of a five-storey building.

Climate Change & Policy Making in Nepal

Raju Pandit Chhetri is one of the most acclaimed climate change policy experts in Nepal and South Asia. As Director of the Prakiriti Resource Centre, an action focused think tank based in Kathmandu, Pandit Cheetri shares his opinion on the latest climate focused policies being undertaken by the Government of Nepal, especially the 2nd Nationally Determined Contribution NDC that was recently submitted by the Government.

History of Female (Im)Mobility in Nepal

A proposal by Nepal’s Immigration Department requiring consent from a guardian and local government for women under the age of 40 travelling to the Gulf or Africa has sparked public fury, and is taken as yet another proof of a misogynist, bungling bureaucracy. 

Kim is Waiting for Joe — But for How Long?

How long can Kim Jong-un wait patiently? After a euphoric start, the Trump administration ultimately proved to be a bitter disappointment for the North Korean regime.

Labour Rights Have Worsened in India Post-Lockdown

As the Indian economy officially heads into a recession and news of layoffs and unemployment reaches us with increasing frequency, we at Gram Vaani turned to workers to hear their side of the story. Industrial sector workers, largely engaged in the automotive and garments factories in the Gurgaon-Manesar belt, spoke to us about the turn that their lives have taken due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Myanmar Faces Increasing Uncertainty as Opposition to the Military Coup Grows

Myanmar is in a deep political crisis. Over the past week -- reminiscent of the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1988 -- Myanmar’s citizens are openly and publicly challenging the country’s powerful military, whose coup earlier this month now threatens to stifle the country’s fledgling democracy.

The Struggle to End Female Genital Mutilation: A Dark Secret No More

Survivors of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C), are determined to share their stories to end this practice – even though they face ostracisation by their communities. Masooma Ranalvi, an FGM/C survivor and founder of ‘WeSpeakOut’, an organisation committed to eliminating FGM/C or khafd/khafz/khatna explains that FGM/C is practised by various communities in India but is prominently practised among the Dawoodi Bohras.

Nepal Struggles to Preserve Its Indigenous Languages as Those Speaking Them Dwindle

At last count Nepal had 129 spoken languages, but even as new ones are identified, others are becoming extinct. At least 24 of the languages and dialects spoken in Nepal are ‘endangered’, and the next ones on the verge of disappearing are Dura, Kusunda, and Tillung, each of which have only one speaker left.

Myanmar Looks Back in Fear and Anger after Military Coup

As night fell on Tuesday, the second day of the military coup in Myanmar, two familiar scenes were being played out on opposite sides of the world.

The Afghan Dilemma for the Biden/Harris Administration

President Biden and his administration confront a very challenging situation within the United States and abroad. His predecessor, Mr. Trump, refused to accept the defeat or extend any cooperation to the incoming team.

As Army Takes Over, Fear and Uncertainty Grip Myanmar Citizens

Yangon resident Ni Ni Aye walked to her office yesterday morning. A couple of hours before, the army had staged a coup by seizing power and declaring a state of emergency in Myanmar. Ni Aye, an employee of one of Yangon’s largest technology firms, tried to call her colleagues and family, but phone services were down. So, she decided to walk to the office and see what was happening. “There were no armoured vehicles or soldiers with heavy weapons, yet everything was extremely quiet. It was very confusing; nobody had a clue on what is really happening. Then we realised, the action is all happening in the capital,” Ni Aye told IPS.

Sri Lanka’s Deteriorating Human Rights Situation Raises Multiple Alarms

A decade has passed since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war between the government and the LTTE, where at least 100,000 people were killed in the over three-decade long conflict. Families of victims of enforced disappearances continue to seek justice, the government is yet to end impunity and put accountability for crimes under international law and human rights violation and abuses in its transitional justice process.

Myanmar Coup Sends ‘Chilling Message that Military won’t Tolerate Dissent’

Responding to reports this morning that Myanmar’s military has seized control of government in a coup on the eve of the country’s opening session of its new parliament, rights group Amnesty International said it “sends a chilling message that the military authorities will not tolerate any dissent amid today’s unfolding events”.

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