The latest Union budget unveiled on 1 February by finance minister Arun Jaitley has been widely commended as a “defining” and “watershed” moment, as providing “stability and predictability”, and as being “pragmatic”. However, this euphoria is distinctly lacking among Indian and foreign experts who have keenly tracked the budget as it pertains to defence salaries, pensions, expenditure and military modernization programmes. Indeed, the tone among strategic experts on the defence budget is distinctly sombre.
The eagerly-awaited United Nations Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (PVE) is an ambitious and much-needed shift toward tackling the root causes that lead to radicalization. It is a bold strategy that combines a UN system-wide response with an “all of government approach” to violent extremism.
Last week, Frank-Walter Steinmeier made his last visit to Paris as Germany’s foreign minister (he is about to become president) in order to issue a plea to the French people: “Please do not surrender to the siren song of populism.” His meaning was plain: Do not elect Marine Le Pen, leader of the nativist National Front, in the presidential election this spring. If France falls, Germany, which votes in September, could be next.
In his first two weeks in office, President Donald Trump's "America First" pledge has proven more than an idle slogan. In word and deed, the White House has signaled an aggressive unilateral stance toward the world that's antagonized allies abroad and divided supporters at home.