Keep up the pressure: decision by FATF on Pakistan

The decision by global watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), at its plenary in Paris last week, to keep Pakistan on its “greylist” for monitoring its record against terror financing was no surprise. While the Pakistan government has yet to complete the 27-point action plan it was given in June 2018, it has, according to the FATF, made some progress. As a result, the 39-member group that includes India decided to extend Pakistan’s September 2019 deadline until June 2020. Actions Pakistan still needs to carry out include tightening security and banking restrictions to block loopholes through which designated groups including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad access funding. It also calls on Pakistan to begin prosecutions against terrorists and sanction entities that are flouting the UNSC’s rules for designated terror organisations. The FATF Chairman’s final comment says Pakistan must comply with all 27-action points — it has cleared about 14 — in the

Limits of funding: on private sector research funding

That research and development in India is inadequate, in terms of money, personnel and ambition, isn’t news. The founders of independent India sought to base its development on science and technology. To this end, even at the expense of universal, free primary education, the country privileged esoteric research such as atomic energy and space over industrial technology, and tertiary research institutions — the IITs — over the spread of technical education in local languages. As a strategy with successes and setbacks, this also saw, as historians have noted, Indian R&D remain beholden to the government. Publicly-funded research has always been encouraged to reinvent the wheel and customise technology to Indian realities, whereas private companies and industrial firms have rarely been incentivised to develop their own intellectual property. It is only after the turn of the millennium that policymakers have pondered on coaxing the private sector to invest more in R&D. Public

Asleep at the wheel: On Tiruppur road accident

Even in a country inured to death and mayhem on its roads everyday, Thursday’s crash that killed 19 bus passengers on a national highway, at Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu, comes as a shock. Every day, thousands board government-run and private buses for inter-city travel, placing their lives in the hands of transport operators and the authorities whose duty it is to guarantee road safety. Unfortunately, Central and State officials feel little compulsion to do their duty when it comes to road safety. Those whose lives were snuffed out on the journey from Bengaluru to Ernakulam in a Kerala government bus should not become faceless additions to the list of fatalities on Indian roads. In 2018, that toll was a staggering 1,51,417 lives. A preliminary inquiry points to human error involving the container lorry driver who is suspected to have fallen asleep at the wheel. The probe is also looking at whether the container was overloaded, and lacked an assistant. It is reasonable to assume that a helper


Terror in Germany: On far-right rampage near Frankfurt

Wednesday’s bloody rampage in Hanau town near Frankfurt by a suspected far-right extremist has heightened concerns over recurrent hate crimes in Germany, home to the largest number of immigrants from the recent refugee crisis. The incident, coming just days after 12 men were arrested for plotting attacks on mosques, is a chilling reminder of the threats to peace and stability in a European powerhouse. In separate attacks, the perpetrator gunned down nine people, including a pregnant woman and youngsters, in two local shisha bars, before killing himself and his mother. Authorities have established the gunman’s extreme xenophobic beliefs using online evidence, where the 43-year-old attacker had advocated the elimination of people across continents. Crucial to investigators is the similarity of the lethal weapon wielded on Wednesday to that used in the 2016 Munich mall shootings. The comparison has brought into focus the role of Germany’s intelligence agencies. While the latter have


Trump cards: On U.S. President’s India visit

Ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to India, some of the key deliverables from the trip, as well as the outcomes that may not be delivered after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, are coming into view. The larger question remains as to whether the bonhomie between the two, who will be meeting for the fifth time in eight months, will also spur the bilateral relationship towards broader outcomes, with expectations centred at bilateral strategic ties, trade and energy relations as well as cooperation on India’s regional environment. On the strategic front, India and the U.S. are expected to take forward military cooperation and defence purchases totalling about $3 billion. Mr. Trump has cast a cloud over the possibility of a trade deal being announced, but is expected to bring U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to give a last push towards the trade package being discussed for nearly two years. Both sides have lowered expectations of any major deal

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