South Asia Times Vol.19 I No. 2 I SEPTEMBER 2021 I FREE s o u t hasiat im es.com .au
CELEBRATiNG 19TH YEAR OF PUBLICATION
READ INSIDE EDIT PAGE BOOK REVIEW COMMUNITY SPECIAL ARTICLE SOUTH ASIA HINDI PUSHP IFFM REVIEWs
South Asia Times
PG 2 PG 4 PG 5 PG 8-9 PG 10 PGS 16-17 PGS 18-19
Editor: Neeraj Nanda I M: 0421 677 082 I Add: PO Box 465, Brentford Square, Victoria 3131
How the Taliban defeated the West Read on page 2
Taliban leader Mullah Baradar and others with IN Under Secy General for Humanitarian Offices Martin Griffiths in Kabul on 6 September 2021. Photo-ANI
Taliban announce caretaker government Read on page 3
A country that refuses to be tamed Read on page 4
Afghan diaspora's anti-Taliban rally in Ottawa, Canada. Photo-ANI
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
South Asia Times
South Asia Times
PUBLISHER/EDITOR Neeraj Nanda M: 0421 677 082 firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR (Hindi Pushp) Mridula Kakkar email@example.com
SAT NEWS BUREAU/Australia (Melbourne) Neeraj Nanda firstname.lastname@example.org
SAT NEWS BUREAU/South Asia (New Delhi, India) RAJIV SHARMA email@example.com
SAT ADVERTISING (Melbourne) M: 0421 677 082 & E: firstname.lastname@example.org PHOTO SECTION (Melbourne) JOHN KUMAR kumarsphotos.com
SAT Design Bala Imagine
address P O Box 465, Brentford Square, Vic. 3131 Phone: (03) 9884 8096; Mobile: 0421 677 082 Email: email@example.com
E-PAPER Access through website FACEBOOK:
How the Taliban defeated the West in Afghanistan d By Vijay Prashad*
ays after the Taliban drove into Kabul on August 15, its representatives started making inquiries about the “location of assets” of the central bank of the nation, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), which are known to total about $9 billion. Meanwhile, the central bank in neighboring Uzbekistan, which has an almost equivalent population of approximately 34 million people compared to Afghanistan’s population of more than 39 million, has international reserves worth $35 billion. Afghanistan is a poor country, by comparison, and its resources have been devastated by war and occupation. The DAB officials told the Taliban that the $9 billion are in the Federal Reserve in New York, which means that Afghanistan’s wealth is sitting in a bank in the United States. But before the Taliban could even try to access the money, the U.S. Treasury Department has already gone ahead and frozen the DAB assets and prevented its transfer into Taliban control. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had recently allocated $650 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for disbursement around the world. When asked if Afghanistan would be able to
Last US soldier leaves Afghanistan. Photo- ANI
access its share of the SDRs, an IMF spokesperson said in an email, “As is always the case, the IMF is guided by the views of the international community. There is currently a lack of clarity within the international community regarding recognition of a government in Afghanistan, as a consequence of which the country cannot access SDRs or other IMF resources.” Financial bridges into Afghanistan, to tide the country over during the 20 years of war and devastation, have slowly collapsed. The
IMF decided to withhold transfer of $370 million before the Taliban entered Kabul, and now commercial banks and Western Union have suspended money transfers into Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s currency, the Afghani, is in a state of free fall. When Aid Vanishes Over the last decade, Afghanistan’s formal economy struggled to stay afloat. Since the U.S.-NATO invasion of October 2001, Afghanistan’s government
twitter.com/southasiatimes skype: neeraj.nanda
DISCLAIMER South Asia Times (SAT) is a monthly newspaper published in English (2 pages in Hindi) from Melbourne, Australia. Contributors supply material to SAT at their own risk and any errors will be corrected as quickly as possible. SAT does not accept responsibility for the authenticity of any advertisement, text content or a picture in the publication. No material, including text or advertisements designed by the SAT or pictures may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the editor/publisher. Opinions/stories/ reports or any text content are those of the writers/contributors and not necessarily endorsed by the SAT.
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
has relied on financial aid flows to support its economy. Due to these funds and strong agricultural growth, Afghanistan experienced an average annual growth rate of 9.4 percent between 2003 and 2012, according to the World Bank. These figures do not include two important facts: first, that large parts of Afghanistan were not in government control (including border posts where taxes are levied), and second, that the illicit drug (opium, heroin, and methamphetamine) trade is not counted in these figures. In 2019, the total income from the opium trade in Afghanistan was between $1.2 billion and $2.1 billion, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “The gross income from opiates exceeded the value of the country’s officially recorded licit exports in 2019,” stated a February 2021 UNODC report. During the past decade, aid flow into Afghanistan has collapsed “from around 100 percent of GDP in 2009 to 42.9 percent of GDP in 2020.” The official economic growth rate between 2015 and 2020 fell to 2.5 percent. The prospects for an increase in aid seemed dire in 2020. At the 2020 Afghanistan Conference, held in Geneva in November, the donors decided to provide annual disbursements CONTD. ON PG 3
South Asia Times
How the Taliban defeated... CONTD. ON PG 3 rather than aid in fouryear packages. This meant that the Afghan government would not be able to sufficiently plan their operations. Before the Taliban took Kabul, Afghanistan had begun to recede from the memory of those countries that had invaded it in 2001-2002. A Country of Poverty During the past 20 years, the United States government spent $2.26 trillion toward its war and occupation of Afghanistan. European countries spent nothing close to what the United States spent (Germany spent $19.3 billion by the end of 2018, of which $14.1 billion was to pay for the deployment of the German armed forces). The money coming from all the donors into Afghanistan’s burgeoning aid economy had some impact on the social lives of the Afghans. Conversations with officials in Kabul over the years are sprinkled with data about increased access to schools and sanitation, improvements in the health of children and greater numbers of women in Afghanistan’s civil service. But it was always difficult to believe the numbers. In 2016, Education Minister Assadullah Hanif Balkhi said that only 6 million Afghan children
Protester at Afghan diaspora rally in New Delhi. Photo- ANI
attended the country’s 17,000 schools, and not 11 million as reported earlier (41 percent of Afghanistan’s schools do not have buildings). As a result of the failure to provide schools, the Afghan Ministry of Education reports that the total literacy rate in the country was 43 percent in 2020, with 55 percent being the literacy rate for men and 29.8 percent being the literacy rate for women. Donors, aid agencies, and the central government officials produced a culture of inflating expectations to encourage optimism and the transfer of more funds. But little of it was true. Meanwhile, it is shocking to note that there was barely any construction of infrastructure to advance basic needs during these 20 years. Afghanistan’s power company—Da Afghanistan Breshna
Sherkat (DABS)—reports that only 35 percent of the population has access to electricity and that 70 percent of the power is imported at inflated rates. Half of Afghanistan lives in poverty, 14 million Afghans are food insecure, and 2 million Afghan children are severely hungry. The roaring sound of hunger was combined— during these past 20 years—with the roaring sound of bombers. This is what the occupation looked like from the ground. The Taliban’s AntiCorruption Crusade In a 2013 New York Times article, a U.S. official said, “The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan was the United States.” Dollars flowed into the country in trunks to be doled out to politicians to buy their loyalty.
Contracts to build a new Afghanistan were given freely to U.S. businessmen, many of whom charged fees that were higher than their expenditure inside Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, who fled into exile hours before the Taliban took control of Kabul, took office making a lot of noise about ending corruption. When he fled the country, press secretary of the Russian embassy in Kabul Nikita Ishchenko told RIA Novosti, his people drove four cars filled with money to the airfield. “They tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” according to a Reuters report. Corruption at the top spilled down to everyday life. Afghans reported paying bribes worth $2.25 billion in 2020—37 percent higher than in 2018. Part of the reason for the Taliban’s rapid advance across Afghanistan over the course of the past decade lies in the failure of the U.S.-NATO-backed governments of both Hamid Karzai (2001-2014) and Ashraf Ghani (20142021) to improve the situation for Afghans. Surveys regularly found Afghans saying that they believed corruption levels were lower in Taliban areas; similarly, Afghans reported that the Taliban
would run schools more effectively. Within Afghanistan, the Taliban portrayed themselves as more efficient and less corrupt administrators. None of this should allow anyone to assume that the Taliban have become moderate. Their agenda regarding women is identical to what it was at its founding in 1994. In 1996, the Taliban drove into Kabul with the same argument: they would end the civil war between the mujahideen, and they would end corruption and inefficiency. The West had 20 years to advance the cause of social development in Afghanistan. Its failure opened the door for the return of the Taliban. The United States has begun to cut off Afghanistan from its own money in U.S. banks and from financial networks. It will use these means to isolate the Taliban. Perhaps this is a means to force the Taliban into a national government with former members of the Karzai-Ghani governments. Otherwise, these tactics are plainly vindictive and will only backfire against the West. - The views in the article are the author’s own. • The author is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. Source- Globetrotter
Afghanistan: Taliban announce caretaker government
aliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has announced who will be appointed to key government posts as the group assumes complete power over Afghanistan. Despite claims they would rule differently to the group's repressive regime in the 1990s, the list was filled with mostly old guard stalwarts. In a statement released later on Tuesday (September 7, 2021), the Taliban's supreme leader said the new government would be guided by Islamic Sharia law as interpreted by their fundamentalist ideology.
Who's who in the Taliban government? A spokesman for the militants said that Mullah Hasan Akhund will be acting prime minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani will be acting interior minister, Mullah Yaqoob will be acting defense minister and Amir Khan Muttaqi will be acting foreign minister. Akhund has been the leader of the Taliban's leadership council for decades. Yaqoob is the son of Taliban founder Mohammed Omar. Haqqani is the scion of a powerful family and leader of the brutal and powerful Haqqani network, which has become a suborganization of the Taliban in its own right. Muttaqi is an established
part of the group's diplomacy apparatus, representing the Islamist organization at UN-brokered peace negotiations. The Taliban has not elaborated on how long the caretaker government will last, and did not mention plans to hold elections. Who is missing? The list did not appear to include any nonTaliban figures, which had been demanded by the international community. The Taliban also reportedly disbanded the Ministry for Women's Affairs, days after violently clamping down on womanled protests against curbs to their freedoms under Taliban rule.
There are also no women in the new power structure, something protesters in Kabul had been calling for as women fear losing their hard-won rights. Also suspiciously absent, Afghan journalist Ali Latifi told DW, is Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada, who is "the leader of the Taliban as far as we know." Latifi said the omission gives credence to the rumors that the militant group's supreme leader since 2016 is dead, despite assurances from the Taliban to the contrary. What did the leaders say? As if to dispell exactly these kinds of rumors, the Taliban put out a statement from Akhundzada later on
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
Tuesday. Known as the group's supreme leader, Akhundzada congratulated the country on "liberation from foreign rule" and confirmed that "in the future, all matters of governance and life in Afghanistan will be regulated by the laws of the Holy Sharia." Under the Taliban's extremist vision, this means few rights for women and minorities and a repressive understanding of rules given in the Quran. Akhundzada said that the new government would continue to uphold all international treaties and agreements not in violation with its interpretation of Islamic law. Source- dw.com
South Asia Times
Afghanistan: A country that refuses to be tamed
RETURN OF A KING – AN INDIAN ARMY IN AFGHANISTAN; William Dalrymple; Bloomsbury 2014; 567 pp, Rupees 499. By Neeraj Nanda
ELBOURNE, 7 April 2020: I bought this book from Mumbai’s Crossword Bookstore in 2015 and started reading it quite late and, slowly, but finally, finished it last year. Meanwhile, numerous reviews of this incredible piece of history (in William Dalrymple’s history writing style) have already appeared and the book is relevant and a bestseller to this day. Its wellresearched page by page facts backed by potent sources (Bibliography pages 537 to 551) is a fine point which one cannot but commend. Since the publication of this book in 2014, the geopolitics of Afghanistan continues to be in a flux culminating with the current talks between the Trump administration and the Taliban which could lead to the withdrawal of US forces from the country. And, possibly the return to power of the Taliban in Kabul, who are already in control of much of the country. Anthony Loyd quotes a Taliban operative (he calls him ‘Pashtun fighter) in New Statesman (Letter from Afghanistan: “We have just defeated a superpower”, 1 April 2020) as saying, “It is 40 years we have been fighting now to establish an Islamic emirate, either as the Taliban or as the Mujahedin,” Khalid Agha told me as a slow breeze danced dust around the desert plains beneath us. “It is true we are sick of killing and dying. Who wouldn’t be? But if it takes another 40 years of fighting and killing to achieve what we fight for, then so be it.” This very spirit is reflected in the array of events that Dalrymple charts in this book. The 1839 restoration of Shah Shuja (1786-1842) to the throne in Kabul by a massive British invading army comprising of 14,000 East India Company sepoys plus 38,000 others are fiercely fought out by Afghans as a jihad. After
two years they are expelled slapping the biggest ever humiliation to the British. By the end of February 1842, the British quit the place in retreat and Shah Shuja could not manipulate himself to remain on the throne and on 5 April 1842 was mowed down by his own godson. The massive details and storytelling are exceptionally brilliant. From chapter one (No Easy Place to Rule) to nine (The Death of a King) is a historical thriller with clockwork precision. Shah Shuja was on the throne but the actual rule was that of the British occupation army. The Afghans never accepted this and Shah Shuja remained a hated figure till his end. The Union Jack was lowered at Bala Hissar, Kabul, on 12 October 1842 ending the British occupation. The East India Company left Afghanistan after losing
Anthony Loyd quotes a Taliban operative (he calls him ‘Pashtun fighter) in New Statesman (Letter from Afghanistan: “We have just defeated a superpower”, 1 April 2020) as saying, “It is 40 years we have been fighting now to establish an Islamic emirate, either as the Taliban or as the Mujahedin,” around 40,000 men, 50,000 camels with a demoralized army, ripe for a revolt, retreated, leaving the country in tribal chaos. In 1844, Dost Mohammed took
over Afghanistan. It was the Anglo-Russian rivalry that led to this violent and needless episode in Afghan history. But, events unfolding much later, saw the Russians (Soviet Union) in the 1980s withdrawing; in 2001 the US and Britain being pushed out by Afghan resistance; and in-between the Taliban rule and then 9/11 happened and the rest is history. The book reveals the Afghan people though united by one faith are actually badly fractured. So was their resistance to foreign occupiers. Afghanistan is a graveyard of empires, no doubt, is validated by the recent events unfolding with US troops poised to withdraw from the country and two leaders already battling for power after an election and most of the country occupied by the Taliban. Most of the sources of the book are from the
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections, National Archives of India, Public Records Office, National Army Museum, London, Punjab Archives, Lahore and private collections. The hundreds of historical sources are all detailed (chapter wise) and make one wonder the amount of hard work the author did research the book. All major figures/ personalities mentioned in the book have their details in the Dramatis Personae giving one a historical context while reading the gripping book. I repeat the quote of Mirza ‘Ata (1842) with which the author ends this book: “It is certainly no easy thing to invade or govern the Kingdom of Khurasan”. Source- First published in the South Asia Times, April 2020.
South Asia Times
Lisa Singh takes over as Director of the Australia India Institute m By Neeraj Nanda
capabilities in the relationship. But it needs to be done by focusing on shared priorities. That way partnerships for both nations will be enduring and mutually beneficial.”
MELBOURNE, 30 August 2021: Lisa Singh, former Australian Senator and first female MP of South Asian descent has taken over as the new Director of the Australia India Institute (AII), University of Melbourne.
Lisa Singh is the Deputy Chair of the Australia India Council and sits on the advisory committees of the University of Melbourne’s Asialink and the University of New South Wales’ Australian Human Rights Institute. Ms. Singh has been a longterm advocate for a deeper Australia-India relationship. In 2014, she was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman by the President of India, for building friendly Australia-India relations,
the highest civilian honor for a person of Indian origin. Ms. Singh said she was honored to take up the role and intends to work with a range of leaders in Australia and India to advance the political and economic agenda. “The Australia-India
‘Misinformation’ as the fifth horseman
relationship is going through a transformative period. I believe its success will be dependent on the effort and collaboration that governments, business, and institutes like the AII put into it,” she said. “It’s important we nurture the academic and research
“COVID-19 restrictions have stymied the education sector. The sooner Indian students can return to Australia to complete their qualifications the better. I hope to play a role to help facilitate a pathway for that to happen,” Ms. Singh said while expressing concern over the significant impact of the pandemic on the sector. Ms. Singh was previously Head of Government Advocacy at Minderoo Foundation (Walk Free initiative), a philanthropic organization founded by Andrew and Nicola Forrest to address some of the most challenging global issues.
Sending money back home? There is a faster, cheaper way. Get 2x fee-free transfers and instant delivery.
This image depicting 'misinformation' as the fifth horsemen of the apocalypse has been shared widely since it was published on 16 August 2021. It illustrates that the impact of misinformation on the health and wellbeing of communities is gaining more mainstream
recognition as a significant and ongoing threat to public health. Infodemic managers know the serious and complex impact that misinformation can have. Image credit: Bill Bramhall / New York Daily Source- WHO, Infodemic Management, Sept 2, 2021.
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
Based on 50,000+ reviews
South Asia Times
Siri Guru Nanak Darbar temple launches campaign to motivate people to get vaccinated the online event was Dr. Sukanya Muraledaran, a GP based in Wheeler’s Hill, Victoria. Dr. Muraledaran presented an excellent overview of the vaccination process and the efficiency of the available vaccines. She stressed the importance of getting vaccinated for a safe return to normal life. Various themes discussed included motivation and hesitancy to vaccinate, fake news, becoming role models. Most participants agreed that there was a dire need to demystify various fake news going around in this digital age where information is being shared without assessing the authenticity of the information.
By SAT News Desk
MELBOURNE, 30 August 2021: The Siri Guru Nanak Durbar Sikh Temple, Officer has launched a community campaign to motivate the community to get vaccinated to fight the COVID-19 virus pandemic. To promote this cause an online discussion was done through Zoon on 28 August 2021. The main speaker at the Zoom event was Mr. Jason Wood, Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety, and Multicultural Affairs among others. Mr. Wood stressed the only way to get out of the current situation in Australia is by vaccinations. He mentioned the vaccination targets and how Australia is tracking its way to meet these before lockdowns and borders can be reopened. After the keynote address, the audience was shown two videos: Australian Covid- 19 Vaccine Roadmap and an appeal to be vaccinated prepared by children of Siri Guru Nanak Darbar, Officer. Also present during www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
Several interesting comments were shared during this discussion. “The major motivation to get vaccinated is to care for others including your own family members”, posted Mr. Sarabjit Giddey. Mr. Subbu posted “Hesitation to vaccinate is due to 7.2 billion people trying to compare apples with oranges and mangoes around the world and getting confused with the science. As Dr. Sukanya mentioned, people have lost trust after getting bombarded with so many of unconnected data points in the world.” Other participants suggested the need to become role models to encourage those sitting on the fence. Community leaders Mr. Sunny Duggal, Ms. Nayana Bhandari, Ms. Gurinder Kaur, Mr. Brijal Parikh, and many others expressed their views and appreciated SGND’s initiative to organize this community forum. Mr. Harpreet Singh thanked all who attended the meeting and provided information about the role Siri Guru Nanak Darbar was playing in the current pandemic such as providing food relief, translating updated information, and providing support.
South Asia Times
300 artisans carving 5,500 Marble pieces in India for first Jain temple in Victoria
By SAT News Desk
(MSJS) disclosed, ” Six to eight artisans will come to Melbourne from India and install the carved marbles in the temple.”
ELBOURNE, 9 August 2021: The first Jain Shwetamber temple will soon grace the skyline here, with the foundation stone laying ceremony (Shilanayas) taking place on 4 August 2021. The temple and community center will be built on more than 2800 square meters in Moorabbin based on ‘Jain Shilpa Shastra’(Jain sacred scripture on sculpture). The ceremony took place under the spiritual guidance of ‘Pujya Acharya Bhagawant Jagvallabh Sri Maharaja’ amidst the chanting of religious hymns and the presence of leaders and people from all walks of life. Interestingly, each day since 2016, one Jain in Melbourne fasts for the completion of the temple. And, till now about 1,815 ‘upwas’ (fasts) have been done. So much is the zeal for the new temple. Each fast lasts 36 hours as per Jain tradition. Twenty-one Marble
” The total weight of the 5,500 pieces to be imported here will be around 1,500 tonnes,” Mr. Doshi said. The temple will also have a community hall, to be funded by Jain community members and is expected to complete in 2023. Mr. Jason Wood, Federal Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety, and Multicultural Affairs was present among others and pledged to support the project further to complete it. Others present included Mr. Raj Kumar, India’s Consul General in Melbourne, and Mayor of Kingston City Mr. Steve Staikos.
Some of the marble carvings to be used in the temple. Photo- Supplied.
Shilas (Marble stone slabs) were placed at the proposed temple site for the auspicious occasion. About 5,500 pieces of carved white Makrana (Rajasthan) marble will be imported from India for the temple. The carving of these stones is being done in India by about 300
artisans and can take up to two and half years. The white Makrana marble pieces are being carved for use in the temple in Pindwara (Rajasthan) by artisans under the guidance of an architect Mr. Harshad Chavda. This temple is designed by an architect
Mr. Rajesh Bhai Sompura (Ahmedabad), Mr. Sompura belongs to a small community that has been for centuries doing Jain temple designing work. Talking to SAT Mr. Nitin Doshi, President Melbourne Shwetamber Jain Sangh
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
” For many years Jains were dreaming to have a temple of their own. For 500 families this is a huge commitment – physical, financial, and emotional. Now we are sure our next generation here can follow the Jain faith,” says Mr.Doshi.
South Asia Times
Australia needs to make languages compulsory By Prof. Joe Lo Bianco
ver many decades, governments and others have made commitments to increasing Australia’s ‘Asia literacy’. But is this goal being met? Has the growth in investment in language programs and language study seen in the 1980s resulted in lasting change, or is Australia still largely complacent about Asian language education? Professor Joe Lo Bianco, one of Australia’s most respected experts in language education, says if Australia really wants to increase its language literacy—in Asian and other languages—it needs to make language learning compulsory in Australian schools. Professor Lo Bianco speaks here with Melbourne Asia Review’s Managing Editor, Cathy Harper. Q: You argue that ‘in every domain of human endeavour, common shared languages allow us to forge unity across differences, share resources, cooperate and form institutions, economies and nations.’ Perhaps there’s no greater need for ways to forge unity among and between peoples than during a pandemic, but what effect is COVID-19 having on Asian language education in Australia? A: I think COVID is having a deleterious and almost devastating effect on all language education. But I think it has really damaged the our collective efforts in Asian language teaching in a substantial way. A large part of the reason is that language, language learning and language study are social practices and deeply interpersonal ones too. Ultimately, for most learners, what is involved in learning a language is the ability to participate in real world conversations. Even though public policy is usually very utilitarian, most language teaching professionals believe in something deeply human associated with language learning and hold the view that language study, even in small ways, makes for a better, more interacting world. I think something of this spirit motivates a lot of people involved in languages, and their commitment to the enterprise of establishing language study as a normal Australian activity is not diminished, in fact, it’s increased by the events of recent times. Yet, here we are in mid-2021 with immense health, economic, and strategic challenges in the region, and our university language programs and area studies are being closed and amalgamated. While I believe the idea of what is defined as the national interest has been too simplistic in the past, I think there is a clear case today that our national interest is being undermined by the erosion of specialist high level research programs on key Asian societies. It seems incredible that in 2021, the absence of guiding policy and unchecked market forces, all aggravated by the effects of COVID, is weakening our national preparation
in this way. Just in the past six months we have receded badly, so past vision statements really haven’t seeped deeply into the consciousness of our governing classes; and implementation mechanisms, both within institutions and in bureaucracies, have been exposed as fragile and sometimes inept. Very dispiriting on the whole. So in effect I am arguing we need both the substantive humanistic element and the pragmatic strategic dimensions in a comprehensive approach to language. Q: How can we recover? Are there ways that COVID-19 is helping turn our minds to more innovative ways to teach languages? A: Recently, with some colleagues I did a project exploring the agency of young people in Asian language study. We arranged for a group of Melbourne students to ‘organically’ teach English to age-peers in China and then to receive lessons from them in Mandarin Chinese. We observed how they conceived and managed the activity, the relationships they forged, what their theory of teaching and learning was. One future direction must be to build on the affinity and normalisation that young people have with communications technology. We need to innovate in ways that allow students more direct voice and presence in language teaching designs. A lot of the routine work that teachers would have done in the past will increasingly be redundant through Artificial Intelligence systems. Teachers’ roles will shift towards providing personalised and targeted problemsolving guidance and helping students to plan their own learning. If education authorities are responsive to these new possibilities we will be able to greatly expand opportunities for students to listen to real-time naturalistic language from the authentic contexts in which it’s generated. Teachers’ roles will remain essential, but will be transformed into guidance and management of learning rather than being the complete and sole input. I feel very excited about such prospects even though I don’t see much experimentation on an ambitious scale yet. Q: Is the situation in Australia in terms of language learning and policy better or worse now than it was 30 years ago, after what you’ve called a ‘policy-parade’ of changing policy? A: I don’t think it can be said to be better or worse—it’s really different. Thirty years ago we didn’t know a lot of what we know today, such as that relying on target setting doesn’t work. Reflecting specifically on Asian languages, I wrote a brief paper called ‘Tempted by targets, tempered by results’, making the argument against the policy models of the past, especially the practice of directive targets such as ‘by X date we want 42 percent or 50 percent of Year 12 students to know an Asian language at University level proficiency’. There have been targets like these issued repeatedly since 1994 and every single one has failed. Are we
going to persist with this approach, or are we going to honestly reflect on the modest gains and failures, ask tough questions, and admit that imposing targets on education systems is a flawed outsider’s way to make language policy? What has happened historically? Between 1995 and 2000 when the first NALSAS (National Asian Languages and Studies in Australian Schools Strategy) was put in place, close to $500-million was invested into Asian languages. Precise, timed targets governed the funding allocations. No language teaching effort in Australian history has ever received that much support. It is crucial to ask what was achieved for that huge amount of money and the target centred method of its allocation? I find many people want to avoid facing these questions. A big problem with this approach is that it is ‘exotic’ or external to the culture of education and its professionals, and external pressure with dedicated funding often leads to forms of superficial compliance, rather than deep change. That’s not all that happened, there were many valuable successes, but in relation the investment the outcome was disappointingly small. The problem with most language policy is that it’s been written by people who have very little connection with ordinary schools and teachers, and are exotic to the pressures, functioning and realities of Australian public education. Some policies read like what your trade diplomat or a couple of top business people who spend a bit of time in Taipei or Tokyo say should happen. These voices have a legitimate role in helping shape what should be done, but overreliance on them, as has occurred over and over, produces many problems, but it’s just not the case that many students in schools think about trade deals or imagine themselves engaged in their negotiation. If educators have more prominence in policy design and argument, the logic would be more grounded on the benefits of learning: the cultural and intellectual benefits of learning the languages of our regional neighbours and the practical constraints of ordinary schools, with their competing demands, the identities and experiences of students. I don’t want to be too negative because I think some of what we’ve done in Asian language education in Australia has been phenomenally successful and important. I think Japanese is the best example. The first policy recognition and funding for Asian languages was in the National Policy on Languages of 1987. By 1990 we had secured the presence of Japanese in many parts of Australia, and began the process of ‘Australianising’ its teaching and learning. I recognise now that it is an unfortunate term, but at the time we called it the ‘tsunami’ of interest in Japanese, and it proved durable and hugely successful. Some simple sounding ideas governed what was done: support the teachers, build the training, encourage a culture of acceptance in schools, cooperate
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
across curriculum areas, link it to literacy, link it to what else is going on in the curriculum, resist external characterisations from ‘outside elites’ pushing unintegrated practices onto the culture of schooling. Today we can see that Japanese is a very wellestablished language—it’s the most widely taught language in the country and it has been for many years and it’s the most widely taught language at secondary level. If we aggregate all levels of education, Japanese and Italian are equal. Australian Japanese teaching and learning is a big success story and has been for many years. I think the same is true of Indonesian, but with several caveats. Sadly, today we see that Indonesian is experiencing turmoil in several jurisdictions, and this must be redressed, but in some systems the performance of Indonesian is robust and promising—this is the case in Victorian primary schools. Q: Is Australia still largely a monolingual country? A: I think the truth is more nuanced. Our national institutions and dominant social practices—most media, sport, legal and medical domains—are overwhelmingly monolingual in English, and we have an elite class that’s largely monolingual. Our decision-making classes are not just monolingual in speaking only one language they are also monolingual in their thinking— they think that monolingualism is the normal condition of humanity and of efficiently functioning societies. The reality is very different: multilingualism and multilingual thinking and behaviour are and always have been the ‘normal human condition’, to put it grandly. Away from our institutional monolingualism we see that Australia is in reality a vastly multilingual society. The immense European migration of the Second World War is an established mainstream community element. Many of these communities work hard to keep their languages alive. For several decades I have been working on language policy in Southeast Asian countries, recently mostly in Myanmar. Some people in these countries still have an image of Australia as Anglo, white and monolingual. But we know Australia has long received enormous migration volumes from all across Asia, these are people I know, work with, live next to, socialise with etc. Their families in Asia whom I visit and also know don’t think Australia is an exclusively monocultural monolingual society because the evidence is present in their family networks; yet their characterisation of ‘the country’ is Anglo, white, and monolingual. It’s important that we don’t lose sight of this ‘bifurcated’ reality of Australia, the difference between the people-topeople relations of current globalisation and mobility, the reality of Australia as a deeply multicultural multilingual society, and the contrast with the mentality and image of institutional monolingualism. CONTD. ON PG 9
CONTD. FROM PG 8 Q: Do you think our Asian neighbours’ view of Australia as being Anglo and monolingual is perhaps related to the pluralism that is present within their own countries and the extent to which their own countries support language learning? A: Few Asian countries support the language rights of their minority communities, and most foreign language study is directed to English. In most Asian countries there isn’t much teaching about Asia either. I’ve looked at the curriculum in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and ASEAN more generally, which has been promoting regional studies, and most of this is done in English, though there are more and more curriculum units devoted to ASEAN countries and their social and political make up. But the curriculum in most countries tends to be nationcentred—not nationalistic, but focused on the nation (as ours is too, we focus on Australia). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, oriented as it must be towards cultivating informed citizenship, but I think it’s not true to think that Australia is a country that stands out by denying its minorities, whereas other countries embrace them. There are experiments with multilingual education in Thailand, there are the beginnings of support for Indigenous minority languages in Vietnam and Cambodia, but for many decades this was not the case. In Laos, for example, there is no openness to teaching minority languages. By contrast, Malaysia and Indonesia do offer many kinds of language support, and in recent years the Philippines has embraced forms of Indigenous language teaching that are groundbreaking in world terms. Sadly, in the very recent past there has been and erosion of this commitment there. Though there is some opening to language differences in Japan, both it and South Korea have been tentative about embracing multiple language teaching. In recent years Taiwan has invested a great deal in new policies for supporting its many Indigenous populations. India is an exemplary case of multi-lingual policy. Its Constitution recognises 22 scheduled languages plus English and Hindi as across-the-country languages. In the south people often prefer English to Hindi, but most states support both and often a unique state language as well. In recent years, with the adoption of the Right to Education Act, India is moving to support subnational tribal language groups (Adivasi) but the picture differs greatly across the country. I’ve always been optimistic about the Australian context because I know that in most countries there is less openness to minority languages and languages in general than there is in Australia. One of the great successes of our language policies has been to improve general attitudes. People used to say, ‘the world needs one language’, ‘we’re lucky to be an English-speaking country’, ‘migrant languages should fade away’, ‘Aboriginal languages are inferior’. The systemic prejudice against Indigenous languages has also faded, but when I started in language policy work it was deeply prevalent and very shocking, there was so much racism—a lot more racism than there is now about language issues and it was coupled to a strong sense of the superiority of English. I grew up in a small rural town in the 1950s and 1960s, enough said. It is now some decades that the best performing and most
Special Article compulsory and universal language teaching right away, but this should be established as a principle and goal. The second priority action is the development of integrated language teaching practices that link into other subject areas, either through content and language integration, or through active collaboration between subject teachers and language teachers. We did this in Japanese in some schools Q: To what extent do you think the with targeted activities examining the vicissitudes of language teaching in Fukushima tsunami and earthquake Australia have been related to biin 2011-2012—working directly lateral tension, such as most notably with students on real life research, recently with China? presentations and studies linked A: It is true that language study is across the curriculum (geography, buffeted by international relations, but environment, society) to Japanese it’s not necessarily lasting. We need language and current events. At first to keep in mind that this happens such integration across curriculum areas to all languages. During the decades can be challenging for non-language when there was French nuclear testing teachers, in this case the geography and at Mururoa Atoll and other French the social sciences teachers, who must territories in the Pacific there was antiaccept that content from their area will French protest in this country and some be dealt with in the language class and of this was directed against the language accept that this will be different from the and its teaching. Directing political specialist approach they would use. The protest at language teaching efforts students’ Japanese language abilities for is a conflation of foreign government dealing with real world content needs to policy with domestic language teaching. be explicitly built up and supported, and Unfortunately, we’ve seen anti-Asian there may be some reliance on English racism in Australia in the last year at times. The effect of these approaches, precisely because some people don’t and in this specific example also, was to distinguish between global political generate a highly motivating program events and the rights of their fellow for students, dealing with something citizens. It’s a sad fact, but it recalls the real and topical. It was very motivating point I was making earlier about our and recognised the existing knowledge institutional blindness to our essential of students. The non-language subject multiculturalism. Governments should teachers became enthusiastic and anticipate these things, just like we have committed to the innovation as seen with COVID-19 communications it progressed, recognising how it and our public authorities operating reinforced rather than undermined what with a monolingual mindset. This they were doing in their subjects. The used to be much better once. We have Japanese teacher could direct attention regressed in some ways. on specific items of language and As far as Chinese is concerned, if Year 12 performance can be taken as a useful indicator Chinese is flourishing, attracting students and being promoted. We have had a generally responsive curriculum planning process, so that Chinese is offered at three levels (much better than how Chinese language programming is delivered in most countries in the world) and this allows us to accommodate students who are literate and fluent speakers of the language, to complete beginners, and to the large cohort in the middle who might be speakers of another Chinese dialect or who are Australian-Chinese and may be dominant in English. It will take more time to ascertain if current tensions between Australia and China have a negative impact on the study of the language. I hope not. Australia urgently needs a more systematic policy for Chinese high proficiency, but I don’t see that as being a school-based initiative necessarily. competitive economies in the world have been in Asia. One effect of this is that fewer people exhibit the level of Anglo complacency that I recall when I first started interviewing political and economic leaders about language policy in the early 1980s. This superiority was pervasive and we shouldn’t forget it, but the fact it’s now largely gone is a big achievement for our country.
Q: You’ve said before that ‘serious language study that produces reasonable standards of proficiency and intercultural capability should be considered a key 21st century literacy.’ If you were in charge of policy making, what would you do? A: I think four things need to be done. First, languages need to be made compulsory; which in Victoria they are practically at this point, but not in most other jurisdictions. This is especially disappointing in New South Wales which is the biggest state with a strong multicultural community presence and a lot of community organisations delivering ‘bottom up’ language programming, and yet in formal education language policy is really limited. Most jurisdictions would not have the resources to deliver www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
South Asia Times
activate students’ interest and current knowledge. These are all good language learning principles. Innovations of this kind need to be planned and executed carefully, addressing problems as they arise, and sustained because they deliver good results in language, subject content and motivation, and help to integrate language programs into general educational activity, thereby securing their future. The third thing is much more investment is needed to build new teacher professional development; and the fourth priority is, as mentioned earlier, a much richer exploration of what the technology offers us. I also think we need to ‘multiculturalise’ our curriculum in general. There’s a lot of effort currently in injecting Asian perspectives into general curriculum work, but we must go deeper. Given the radical changes in what counts as literacy that will flow from the revolution in Artificial Intelligence literacy, we need to re-think general educational practices, pluralise perspectives so that students come to see difference as a normalised expectation in life to be negotiated, understood and accepted, and to develop skills in intercultural interaction. The post-COVID world will intensify patterns of interaction that have been developing for some time but are now more mainstream, a much more richly interactive global world of mobilities. People, of diverse social classes, will space parts of their lives in Hong Kong, then Frankfurt for six years, for example, and children will have ongoing virtual lives online and interactively, and a large part of their learning will be structured there. Source- Melbourne Asia Review
south asia South Asia Times
South Asia Times
Afghanistan has vast mineral wealth but faces steep challenges to tap it By Scott L. Montgomery*
The official ending of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan leaves a number of longterm questions, including how the country can build a functioning economy. Now that U.S. assistance has evaporated and international aid is largely shut off, what options does Afghanistan have? One possibility resides in natural resources. Afghanistan possesses a wealth of nonfuel minerals whose value has been estimated at more than US$1 trillion. For millennia the country was renowned for its gemstones – rubies, emeralds, tourmalines and lapis lazuli. These minerals continue to be locally extracted, both legally and illegally, in mostly small, artisanal mines. Far more value, however, lies with the country’s endowments of iron, copper, lithium, rare earth elements, cobalt, bauxite, mercury, uranium and chromium. While the total abundance of minerals is certainly vast, scientific understanding of these resources is still at an exploratory stage. Even with a better understanding of how rewarding their extraction might be, the presence of these resources will not provide a jump-start to a new economy. As a geologist who has studied the extent of their resources, I estimate a minimum of seven to 10 years will be needed for largescale mining to become a major new source of revenue. USGS follows the Soviets British and German geologists conducted the earliest modern surveys of Afghanistan’s minerals in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But it was the Soviets in the 1960s and 1970s who performed the most systematic exploratory work throughout the country, producing a large body of detailed information that stood as the backbone to more recent studies.From 2004 to 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a detailed review of available data, adding new information from its own aerial survey, limited field checking and from the Afghanistan Geological Survey. This work better identified mineral sites, richness and abundance. No one who examines this work, as I have, can ignore the large-scale exploratory effort by Soviet scientists. Detailed field mapping and massive sampling, including tens of thousands of meters of borehole drilling, and lab analyses were
A map of mineral resources published by the United States Geological Survey in 2007. United States Geological Survey.
performed. Given the time and money invested, it would appear high-level plans were in play to develop Afghanistan’s minerals once the country was under Soviet influence. Based largely on this information, the USGS delineated 24 areas in the country and estimated their mineral abundance. Data packages were prepared on all 24 areas for companies to use as a basis for making bids to exploit any resources. Chinese and Indian companies expressed strong interest, and actual concessions were granted. Arguments over contract terms and concerns about security, however, have stalled activity since the late 2010s. Mineral abundance How much mineral abundance does Afghanistan actually have? I’ll try to answer this with a brief summary of USGS estimates for metals of special interest: copper, iron, lithium and rare earth metals. Geoscientists who were part of the USGS effort have noted that their figures are “conservative” but also “preliminary.” Regardless, it’s safe to say the resources in total are huge. Total copper resources for all known deposits sum to about 57.7 million metric tons. At current prices, the resource value is $516 billion. These are “undiscovered” resources – identified but not fully explored and assessed. If further study were to judge them recoverable at a profit, they would rank Afghanistan among the top five nations for copper reserves in the world. The largest copper
deposit, which also contains significant amounts of cobalt, is the Aynak ore body, located about 18 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Kabul. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the Soviets began development of the mine but it was suspended in 1989 following Soviet withdrawal from the country. The highgrade portion of the total Aynak deposit is estimated at 11.3 million metric tons of copper, worth $102 billion at current market prices. Afghanistan also has world-class iron ore resources, concentrated in the Haji Gak deposit of Bamiyan Province. Haji Gak has an estimated 2,100 million metric tons of high-grade ore that is 61%-69% iron by weight. At current price levels, this represents a value of $336.8 billion, placing Afghanistan among the top 10 nations worldwide in extractable iron. Lithium resources in Nuristan Province, which occur as veins, impressed Soviet geoscientists with the amount of hard rock ore (lithium is also mined from brine). Based on USGS estimates, it is a significant but modest resource in today’s terms, as exploration for such deposits has increased around the world in the past decade. Finally, rare earth elements exist in southern Helmand Province. These deposits mainly contain cerium, with smaller amounts of more valuable lanthanum, praseodymium and neodymium, totaling perhaps 1.4 million metric tons. Two of these, praseodymium and neodymium, are at high price levels – more than $45,000 per metric ton – and make
exceptional magnets used in motors for hybrid and electric cars, but the abundance of these elements is not large relative to how much other countries have. Above-ground factors and geopolitics Mining wisdom holds that what’s in the ground is less important than what’s above ground. Market realities, security, contract terms, infrastructure and environmental concerns matter more than sheer abundance to whether resources can be developed. Among these factors, perhaps the most relevant at present is strong global demand for the metals, particularly copper, lithium and rare earth elements, which are essential to the growing markets in renewable energy and electric vehicles. Whether or not Afghanistan can begin mining these elements will depend on what the new Taliban government does. Under the former Ministry of Mines, a $2.9 billion contract for a portion of the Aynak copper deposit was granted to two state-owned Chinese companies. The 30-year contract signed in 2007 had a high royalty rate by global standards and required that ore smelting and processing be done locally. Other conditions included building a 400-megawatt coal power plant and a railway to the Pakistan border. Also stipulated was that 85%-100% of employees, from skilled labor to managerial personnel, be Afghan nationals within eight years of the date work begins. Though originally agreed to, these terms were later declared onerous
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
by the companies, halting development. Though roads exist to many ore deposit areas, Afghanistan lacks good-quality roadways, railways and electricity. Mining companies are no stranger to such challenges, yet the situation is heightened in this case by rugged terrain and the landlocked nature of the country. Railways, in particular, would be essential for transporting ore, raw or refined, to foreign markets. There are also environmental and cultural concerns. Mining can result in major impacts to land and air quality, as well as watersheds – a particular concern in water-poor Afghanistan – if not regulated to best practices. No less, enforcement of such standards is required and has been a problem in many lower-income countries. Close to the Aynak copper deposit is a large site of Buddhist relics, statues, temples and stupas. There are also Bronze Age mining sites that constitute important archaeological resources. Here, too, no clarity yet exists about how Taliban leaders, who ordered the destruction of the great Buddhist statues at Bamiyan in 2001, might view these sites. For Afghanistan, its resources could mean a source of longterm foreign investment, skillbuilding and infrastructure expansion, all essential for a sustainable economy. But a major question is which companies would be involved. Afghanistan is also at the center of geopolitical struggles, involving both India and Pakistan, as well as China, Iran and the U.S. That the Taliban are now in control does not make the country’s minerals any less invested with large significance. Author’s note: In 2015, I was the instructor for a task force class in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington that produced a report on Afghanistan’s natural resources and the possibility of their acting as a basis for economic development. This article is devoted to the excellent work done by students on that task force. This article was updated to correct details about development of mining operations by the Soviets. *Lecturer, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington ProfileArticles Source- The Conversation, August 31, 2021 (Under Creative Commons Licence)
South Asia Times
30 Years of economic reforms – A saga of growing Inequalities The votaries of economic reforms miss the point that while it may have increased GDP growth rate, it has worsened the conditions of the working people.
By Prabhat Patnaik*
t is 30 years since India adopted neoliberal policies in 1991, though some would date their introduction even earlier to 1985. Newspapers are full of assessments of the impact of these policies on the economy, and liberalisers from Manmohan Singh downward, have suddenly become visible, lauding their handiwork, while lamenting at best that the benefits of liberalisation have been unevenly distributed. Manmohan Singh has recently said that “a healthy and dignified life for every Indian must be prioritised”. One wonders what prevented him from doing so when he was at the helm of affairs. Such an assessment, that liberalisation greatly boosted India’s GDP growth rate and thereby improved the lives of almost every Indian, lifting vast masses of them from the clutches of absolute poverty, even though it increased income and wealth inequality in the country, would be commonly accepted, not just by the votaries of liberalisation, but even by its critics, including some even on the Left. The difference, it would appear, relates only to what weight one gives to inequality as opposed to growth. The liberalisers would even argue that the illeffects of inequality would disappear if the growth rate in the economy is revived and increased, for which the “animal spirits” of the capitalists that determine how much investment they make have to be boosted. And the Narendra
Modi government would claim that boosting the capitalists’ ‘animal spirits’ is precisely what it is doing through its anti-labour and anti-peasant policies, some of which the Congress, while not having a different analysis, is curiously opposing. Thus the Bretton Woods institutions’ claim that there is a broad “consensus” on neoliberal policies among major political parties, would seem also to extend to the evaluation of their effects on the economy over the last three decades. This entire perception, however, is wrong for at least two reasons. First, it sees the capitalist sector of the economy as being a more or less self-contained sector, detached from the rest of the economy, whose main effect on its surrounding environment is simply to pull more and more labour from it. And the lament is that it has not done so sufficiently. In reality, however, accumulation within the capitalist sector invariably impinges on the world existing outside of it in multiple ways. It draws not only labour from the world outside of it, which in an economy with massive labour reserves, is a good thing, but also
land, and other resources including fiscal resources (for instance, subsidies to capitalists for boosting their “animal spirits” come at the expense of subsidies to peasant agriculture that have traditionally contributed to its viability); and the growth of the capitalist sector also pulls demand away from the traditional sectors. Capital accumulation, therefore, invariably undermines the surrounding petty production economy (a process Marx had called “primitive accumulation of capital”), even when it draws little labour from it. Contrary to what conventional bourgeois economics says, namely, that a rapid rate of capital accumulation will simply absorb the labour reserves, thereby reducing unemployment and poverty (and if it does not do so then the panacea lies in an even more rapid rate of capital accumulation), such accumulation undermines the surrounding economy of petty producers without absorbing much labour. This means an increase in unemployment and poverty. And if the rate of capital accumulation is stepped up, then it just
worsens this tendency rather than alleviating it. This, in fact, is exactly what has happened, even going by the government’s own statistics. The undermining of peasant agriculture under the neoliberal regime, which removed all the protection given to it during the preceding dirigiste period, is obvious. It manifests itself in the fall in profitability of peasant agriculture; it is manifest, too, in the fact that between the 1991 and 2011 censuses, the number of “cultivators” (as defined by the Census) fell by 15 million; and it is painfully clear from the suicides of more than three lakh farmers over the past three decades. Not surprisingly, the magnitude of poverty, in the most elemental sense of access to calories, and not just of inequality, has increased since the inception of neoliberal reforms. The percentage of persons with access to less than 2,200 calories per person per day in rural India (which was the original official benchmark for rural poverty), has increased from 58 in 1993-94 to 68 in 2011-12 (both National Sample Survey (NSS) large sample survey years). The corresponding figures for urban India, where the original benchmark was 2,100 calories per person per day are 57 and 65, respectively. Matters have become even worse since 201112. The 2017-18 NSS large sample survey threw up figures which were so startling that the Modi government decided to suppress them altogether and also to discontinue these surveys in their old
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
form. Some information, however, leaked out before the findings were suppressed and these show that between 201112 and 2017-18, per capita consumption expenditure on all items in real terms has fallen by 9% in rural India. Nothing of this sort had ever happened in normal times (i.e, barring major crop failures) in independent India. The assault on peasant agriculture under neoliberalism is actually intensifying. The latest manifestation of it, in the form of three farm laws that are meant to promote big capital’s interests at the expense of the peasants’, is so damaging that it has brought large peasant masses from the surrounding states to Delhi, demanding their withdrawal. Let me now move to the second flaw in the neoliberal perception. Capitalists’ investment does not just depend on some intangible thing called “animal spirits”, but is rooted in tangible calculations that they make about the prospective growth in markets. True, the response to such calculations within limits may depend on their state of optimism or pessimism (which the term “animal spirits” captures), but clearly if the market is not growing or if the growth slows down, then capitalists’ investment suffers, no matter how much subsidies are doled out to them. Now, neoliberalism has widened income inequality everywhere, including in India. According to Piketty and Chancel, the share of the top 1% of the CONTD. ON PG 12
South Asia Times
The Kharasrota river not for sale By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
he people of Kendrapada district of Odisha are fighting peacefully for the last two years to save the river Kharasrota. This river is the lifeline of farmers, fishing communities and other communities living along the river. The Kharasrota river is the source of life and livelihood for the people of Odisha in general and the people of Kendrapada and Jajpur in particular. The successive governments have failed to provide safe drinking water to the people of Odisha. The people of the Kendrapada district continue to drink unsafe water from the river. The Kharasrota river provides water for both drinking needs of the people and for irrigating the agricultural fields of the district. The people living in the downstream of Kharasrota river face acute drinking water crisis both during the rainy season the summer season. The rainy season brings severe floods, and the muddy water is undrinkable. The water flow declines in the river during the summer and salty water from the Bay of Bengal enters the Kharasrota river. The water becomes unusable for drinking and agriculture. The Government of Odisha has not done anything to address this water crisis in the region. In order to supply water to the Dhamra Port Company Limited (DPCL) in the Bhadrak district, the Government of Odisha is using its Basudha Drinking Water Scheme. The DPCL is a 100 percent subsidiary of the Adani Ports and SEZ. The Government of Odisha is spending Rs 892.14 crore to supply water to the Adani Ports and SEZ in the
name of supplying water to the people of Bhadrak district. The Odisha government has Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department of Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Departments to implement drinking water projects. However, this drinking water project is outsourced to the Hyderabad based company, the Megha Engineering India Pvt Ltd. The reasons behind the outsource is best known to the Government of Odisha and its leadership. This company is implementing the project in the Kharasrota river near the Gadagadi Ghat under the Barunadiha Panchayats of Rajkanika block of Kendrapara district. The local people argue that in the name of drinking water project for the people of Bhadrak district, the Government of Odisha is implementing this project to supply water to the Adani Ports and SEZ in Dhamra as it is close to Rajkanika. The people of Aul and Kanika are not opposed to the drinking water project and water supply to the people of Bhadrak district. The Government of Odisha is unnecessarily creating disharmony between the two neighbouring districts by providing wrong information to the media and campaigns against the protesters. The protesters of Aul
and Kanika are making six fundamental points: 1. The Bhadrak district has major rivers and water can be used from the local rivers for the drinking needs of the district. It will be cost effective for the Odisha government as well. Why is it necessary to take water from the Kharasrota river? It is neither convenient nor cost effective. It puts pressure on the water needs of the local people living around the Kharasrota river. 2. The people of Aul and Kanika are arguing that the Government of Odisha must conduct a scientific study and environmental assessment on the impact of this project on the local communities and their water requirements. What would be the ecological impact of this project on the Bhitarakanika National Park and its mangroves? The Bhitarakanika Mangroves protect communities from regular super cyclones in the district. 3. The protesters argue that the project will aggravate the water crisis in the region. Therefore, the government of Odisha must create an environmentally sustainable barrage that can save the surplus overflow of the water to the Bay of Bengal. The surplus water can be used for the drinking water projects both for the people of Kendrapada and Bhadrak
district. 4. The government of Odisha must reveal the water requirements of the four blocks of the Bhadrak district. What is the water requirement of people of Bhadrak district? How much water overflows from the Kharasrota river? What is the local water requirements? 5. The Government of Odisha must reveal the plans to stop the salt water from the Bay of Bengal entering into the Kharasrota river. It is neither drinkable nor usable for agriculture. This happens during the summer season. 6. The Government of Odisha must release all the protestors arrested by the Odisha police on false grounds and end its undemocratic police raj. These are very reasonable concerns and suggestions by the protestors to the Odisha Government. However, the Government is using brute police force to implement the project instead of engaging with people and their reasonable demands. The Odisha government is arresting anyone opposed to this project. The peaceful and democratic protests by the local people are declared illegal by the Government of Odisha by imposing the Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). Such undemocratic move by the Odisha government shows its commitment to the Adani Ports and SEZ at the cost of local people, their lives, livelihoods and their environment. The selling of river to corporates is a death sentence to local communities. The international experiences of water and river privatisation show that it starts with drinking water projects. These projects serve corporate interests more than the
drinking needs of people. The privatisation of water and commercial agriculture led to drinking water crisis across the world. The diversion of water to mining, industries and other corporations has aggravated water crisis. The decades of water privatisation has failed across the globe, but the BJP government continues to pursue and aggressively implements the failed policies of the previous Congress governments in India. The Government of Odisha follows the footprints of Chattisgarh government in making river a private property of corporates. It looks as if the BJD government in the state and the BJP government in centre are in competing to serve corporate interests by selling rivers and water resources to corporates at the cost of people, their livelihoods and the planet. The successive governments in India continue to follow rent seeking regressive economic policies that put forests, rivers, mountains, land and other common goods for sale in the market, where corporates seek profit at the cost of people. The central government and state governments have continued with such a mercantile tradition despite of ongoing people’s movements for environmental, social and economic justice. The objectification of environment and commercialisation of rivers put life, livelihoods and planet in danger. Rivers belongs to communities living around the river. It should be used for the greater common goods of the communities and not corporations. Profit over people is a dangerous ideology that puts sustainability of our present and the future in danger. *University of Glasgow, UK
30 Years of economic reforms – A saga... CONTD. FROM PG 11 population in total national income was just 6% in 1982 but increased to 22% in 2013-14 (the highest it has been for almost a century). Since the working people consume more out of their incomes than the rich, a widening of income inequality that amounts to a shift of income away from the former to the latter, has the effect of reducing consumption and hence aggregate demand, which, in turn, reduces investment and growth. Neoliberalism, in short, is afflicted by a stagnationist tendency, which, for the capitalist world as
a whole, had been kept in check by “bubbles” in the US economy -- first the “dotcom bubble” in the 1990s and then the “housing bubble” in the first decade of this century. With the collapse of the “housing bubble”, the world economy has gone into a protracted crisis that has no solution under neoliberalism (which frowns upon State intervention in “demand management”). This has affected the Indian economy as well, where, even before the pandemic, the unemployment rate in 2019 was the highest it had been for 45 years. This has had
two kinds of effects on the people: one, it has greatly worsened the conditions of life of the working people, even before the pandemic, who were already being hurt by the pursuit of neoliberalism. The recent drastic fall in employment and consumption underscores this. Two, the crisis has led to the cementing of an alliance between big capital and fascistic Hindutva groups, which sustains the Modi government. Such an alliance is not specific to India. In periods of crisis, big capital promotes and finances the political ascendancy of fascistic groups with whom it
forms an alliance. It does so as a means of altering the discourse, towards a vilification of the “other”, in order to distract people from their economic predicament. While such groups in power do the biddings of big capital, they derive their political strength not from any economic solution to the crisis they offer but from shifting attention away from the economic realm altogether. Neoliberalism, in short, while it squeezed the working people even when it was experiencing high growth, has both increased the squeeze and ushered in an arrangement that
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
is inimical to the basic premises of the Indian Constitution, such as democracy, secularism and social equality, when it has run into a crisis. The votaries of liberalisation miss the point that while it may have increased the GDP growth rate, it has worsened the conditions of the working people, and has undermined the founding principles upon which alone can a modern Indian nation be built. *The author is India’s prominent economist. Source- newsclick.in, August 1, 2021.
South Asia Times
Support today. Support tomorrow. During COVID restrictions, things can change quickly, that’s why we’ve prepared a range of ways to help you or your business during these uncertain times. Keep up to date with the latest support Our Financial Support Guide brings you the latest financial support information including government grants. Find your benefits quickly Our Benefits finder in the CommBank app does the hard work to find benefits and concessions you may be eligible for.
Help with your day-to-day finances Our Coronavirus money plan available in the CommBank app gives you ways to manage your finances such as tailored repayments and financial assistance. Support to keep you strong We’re offering a range of solutions to support business customers with their mental health and wellbeing.
CommBank Covid Support Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL and Australian credit licence 234945. www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
South Asia Times
Wealth in Australia is growing faster than health costs: new analysis T he wealth of Australians has grown by an extraordinary $9.5 trillion or 302% in the past 33 years according to a new report released by the Australia Institute. However, despite this enormous increase in wealth, which primarily takes the form of housing and shares, the rapid growth in the assets of Australian households has been completely ignored in analyses of the costs of ageing in Australia. Key Findings: - Last year Australian GDP was $2 trillion but Australian households received another $1.7 trillion in capital gains as wealth increased to $12.7 trillion. The IGR compares
government spending with GDP but misses the capital gains which boost capacity to pay and are heavily biased towards the rich who can afford to pay. - The big picture in Australia is that wealth has increased massively, increasing from 3.6 times GDP 30 years ago, to 6.4 times GDP now. Moreover, wealth and capital gains will continue their upward trajectory and in 40 years’ time are likely to swamp GDP even more. - The intergenerational report is supposed to question whether Australia can afford the spending associated with the aging of the Australian population. However, the IGR compares spending pressures with GDP alone.
- By 2060, the Federal Government’s self-imposed cap of 23.9 per cent of GDP might be as low as 10.4 per cent of a comprehensive measure of income that includes capital gains. - And the distribution of income will worsen. Wealth is distributed much more unevenly than conventional measures of income so that as wealth increases, capital gains increase, and they pull the total income distribution further apart. “The vast majority of wealth in Australia is held in the hands of those aged over 55. In the coming decades, not only is the wealth of Australians likely to grow rapidly but that wealth will almost certainly flow primarily to those aged over 55,” said David
Richardson, senior research fellow at the Australia Institute. “Rapid increases in wealth, like the one Australia has already experienced and the one we will likely experience in the decade ahead, are a good problem to have. But unless we reform our tax system, the benefits of growing wealth will come with significant costs in the form of inequality and economic inefficiency. “Because Australia currently has no taxes on wealth, and collects very little income from capital gains, government revenues have not grown nearly as rapidly as the wealth of Australians. The Australian Government may keep choosing not to tax
wealth and capital gains of our wealthiest people as thoroughly as it taxes the incomes of ordinary workers. However, such choices make it hard to argue that Australia ‘can’t afford’ to provide healthcare in the years to come to what will clearly be the wealthiest generation Australia has ever known. “It’s remarkable that in the five intergenerational reports produced by the Australian Treasury, not one of them has examined the rate of growth or the distribution of wealth in Australia. How can you ask about intergenerational equity without considering wealth and the way it is, or isn’t taxed?” Source- australiainstitute. org.au, August 25, 2021
Technology being weaponised to control and silence women: eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant at the National Summit on Women’s Safety By SAT News Desk
ELBOURNE, 7 September 2021: Technology is routinely being weaponised against women to demean, control, and ultimately silence them according to a keynote speech given by Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant at the National Summit on Women’s Safety. In her candid landmark speech, delivered today on the opening of the second day of the Summit, details how abuse via technology has become a common feature in family and domestic violence cases and is now becoming commonplace in wider society. It illustrated how personal and professional online harms are becoming increasingly intertwined, causing women to withdraw from situations and roles that may put them in harm’s way, further undermining their economic opportunities and entrenching existing inequalities. “Women are disproportionately targeted
in every form of online abuse we deal with at eSafety and this abuse is often rooted in misogyny and designed to demean, control, and ultimately silence women,” Ms. Inman Grant said. “And this is why we have a specific focus on women through our eSafety Women program.” “And we see this in its most extreme form in domestic family violence situations where an abuser, usually male, uses technology to
isolate, harass, monitor, stalk, and threaten a current or former female partner. “Importantly, we now recognize that this technology-facilitated abuse can be a red flag for future physical violence as we saw in the tragic case of Hannah Clarke and her three young children. “Our domestic violence frontline worker training and resources around TFA are key to helping support
and protect these women and children but we all need to band together and do more to halt the increasing weaponization of technology against women.” Ms. Inman Grant said that the online abuse experienced by women daily is also causing many to limit their participation on social media and is dissuading them from taking high-profile professional roles that could make them a target online. “Our research shows that over a third of women have experienced abuse online as part of their professional lives and a quarter would think twice before taking on a public-facing role, for fear of the abuse they might receive,” she said. “Our Women in the Spotlight (WITS) program aims to change this dynamic by providing tips and strategies as well as social media self-defense training to help women build their psychological armor and learn to interact online with impact, confidence, and resilience. “We need to understand that online violence hurled
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
against women is much more targeted, sexualized, and threatening than abuse their male counterpart’s experience. “Our soon-to-beoperational, world-first adult cyber abuse scheme will provide new pathways for women who are on the receiving end of cyberstalking and threatening online abuse. “But it’s also time for the tech industry to step up. The platforms haven’t made the kind of progress we need to see in terms of making online spaces safer and less toxic for women and this needs to change.” In the Commissioner’s speech, she also outlined eSafety’s unique approach to managing these issues on the three pillars of prevention, protection, and proactive change and the forwardleaning steps she’ll seek to take in tackling the spectrum of online harms targeting a broad range of women. She emphasized online abuse is not different from real-life abuse and urged people to go to esafety.gov. au for all information on the subject.
WORLD SOCIAL protection
South Asia Times
More than 4 billion people still lack any social protection, ILO report finds By Paul Haskell Dowland* & Robereto Musotto**
he COVID-19 pandemic has revealed and exacerbated the social protection gap between countries with high- and low-income levels. GENEVA (ILO News) – Despite the unprecedented worldwide expansion of social protection during the COVID-19 crisis, more than 4 billion people around the world remain entirely unprotected, a new International Labour Organization (ILO) report says. It finds that the pandemic response was uneven and insufficient, deepening the gap between countries with high- and low-income levels and failing to afford the much-needed social protection that all human beings deserve. Social protection includes access to health care and income security, particularly in relation to old age, unemployment, sickness, disability, work injury, maternity or loss of a main income earner, as well as for families with children. “Countries are at a crossroads,” said ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder. “This is a pivotal moment to harness the pandemic response to build a new generation of rights-based social protection systems. These can cushion people from future crises and give workers and businesses the security to tackle the multiple transitions ahead with confidence and with hope. We must recognize that effective and comprehensive social protection is not just essential for social justice and decent work but for creating a sustainable and resilient future too.” The World Social Protection Report 202022: Social protection at the crossroads – in pursuit of a better future gives a global overview
of recent developments in social protection systems, including social protection floors, and covers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report identifies protection gaps and sets out key policy recommendations, including in relation to the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Currently, only 47 per cent of the global population are effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit, while 4.1 billion people (53 per cent) obtain no income security at all from their national social protection system. There are significant regional inequalities in social protection. Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of coverage, with 84 per cent of people being covered by at least one benefit. The Americas are also above the global average, with 64.3 per cent. Asia and the Pacific (44 per cent), the Arab States (40 per cent) and Africa (17.4 per cent) have marked coverage gaps. Worldwide, the vast
majority of children still have no effective social protection coverage – only one in four children (26.4 per cent) receives a social protection benefit. Only 45 per cent of women with newborns worldwide receive a cash maternity benefit. Only one in three persons with severe disabilities (33.5 per cent) worldwide receive a disability benefit. Coverage of unemployment benefits is even lower; only 18.6 per cent of unemployed workers worldwide are effectively covered. And while 77.5 per cent of people above retirement age receive some form of old-age pension, major disparities remain across regions, between rural and urban areas, and between women and men. Government spending on social protection also varies significantly. On average, countries spend 12.8 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on social protection (excluding health), however highincome countries spend 16.4 per cent and lowincome countries only 1.1 per cent of their GDP on social protection.
The report says that the financing gap (the additional spending required to ensure at least minimum social protection for all) has increased by approximately 30 per cent since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. To guarantee at least basic social protection coverage, low-income countries would need to invest an additional US$77.9 billion per year, lower-middle-income countries an additional US$362.9 billion per year and upper-middle-income countries a further US$750.8 billion per year. That’s equivalent to 15.9, 5.1 and 3.1 per cent of their GDP, respectively. “There is an enormous push for countries to move to fiscal consolidation, after the massive public expenditure of their crisis response measures, but it would be seriously damaging to cut back on social protection; investment is required here and now,” said Shahra Razavi, Director, ILO Social Protection Department. “Social protection is an
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
important tool that can create wide-ranging social and economic benefits for countries at all levels of development. It can underpin better health and education, greater equality, more sustainable economic systems, better managed migration and the observance of core rights. Building the systems that can deliver these positive outcomes will require a mix of financing sources and greater international solidarity, particularly with support for poorer countries. But the benefits of success will reach beyond national borders to benefit us all,” she said. Specific measures to promote universal social protection were highlighted in the Global Call to Action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic . The Call to Action, which outlines a comprehensive agenda for recovery, was endorsed unanimously in June 2021 by the ILO’s Member States, representing governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations. Source- ilo.org , 1 September 2021.
South Asia Times
Ghar Ka Pata (Home Address), English, Kashmiri, Hindi – Anyone who is displaced will try to reconnect… By Neeraj Nanda
ELBOURNE, 30 August 2021: On the last day of the IFFM-2021 Online film festival, I saw ‘Ghar Ka Pata’(Home address) which has dialogues in English, Kashmiri, and Hindi. It’s emotional, human, and very personal. The daughter of Pran and Nancy Jalali, Madhulika Jalali has made this documentary trying to search and reconnect to their lost home in Srinagar’s Rainawari area. The Jalali’s fled Kashmir at the height of Kashmir’s separatist insurgency fearing for their life. Madhulika was then six years old and now after 24 years she and her family are here searching for their lost home. Lots of research, visits to Srinagar, and talking to relatives took four years. There were many unanswered questions, beautiful nostalgic memories, lost friends, and neighbors. Visits to Srinagar become revealing. With her mother, Madhulika is able to trace the Rainawari area and
the camera takes us to the Muslim neighbor who was her father’s good friend. Even a local shopkeeper remembers the Jalali family. The emotional meeting with the neighbor reflects how strong human bonds can be despite an adverse toxic ambiance. The scene of the neighbor’s wife embracing
Madhulika’s mother and crying is heart-breaking. “Your husband (Mr. Jalali) was my brother”, she says sobbing. 162823725228687876 Frame by frame the camera moves around casually as the mother and daughter are
shown the area where their abandoned home was. The neighbor says, “This is your home and I always told your father to sell it to me if he desires.” And, is saddened to know his friend is no more. Humanity seems to erase politics and religion. Is it emotion or years of exile have healed the wounds?
The documentary uses family photographs and interviews with relatives who talk of their past in Kashmir. People are now spread out in India, Canada, and England. Madhulika has a photograph that shows a part of the home she was looking for. No doubt, anyone who sees this film will feel the humanness of people separated by politics and faith. But the love for one’s land remains strong. The fact human-made barriers come to naught is evident in the film. ‘Ghar Ka Pata’ is Madhulika and the Jalali family’s personal space. But can we separate ourselves from this story? Madhulika makes us think and think. This was one of the best I saw at the IFFM2021. I give this film 4 and a half stars out of 5. Director: Madhulika Jalali Run time: 67 mins | Recommended Certificate: 12A Language: Hindi, Kashmiri, English with English subtitles | Year: 2020 | Country: India
Biriyaani – Flavors of Flesh, Malayalam : Revenge feast By Neeraj Nanda
ELBOURNE, 30 August 2021: Khadeeja, suppresses her emotional desires in marital life. Relations with her husband’s family are not good and grapples with a traditional family situation. As if family issues were not enough, her brother is reported in the media as a religious extremist. She and her mentally upset widowed mother are excommunicated from the community and her husband divorces her. The movie portrays the agony a woman faces in a patriarchal society. A woman journalist helps her and does a story on how the mother and daughter connected to the alleged terrorism accused (her brother) are suffering and help arrives. TV debates on the subject are plenty but a young abandoned woman in misery is easy prey. The rather tough day-to-day happenings make Khadeeja strong. Sympathy arrives from Bijil (a priest) and she fights back. Decides to host a feast to remember her late brother and www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
father. The feast is her revenge where Biryanni is served. The movie created controversy in Kerala as the scenes of sex, circumcision… hit the moralists strongly. The movie breaks the fake silence that suppresses a woman, in a man’s world. Using one’s own personality as an equal human to fight against gender injustice is no easy task. But this happens as the movie culminates into the Biryanni feast. One can say that the film is a bold take on faith and gender issues not before experienced in Indian cinema. Iconic performance by Kani Kusruti (Khadeeja) is flawless and others add to the movie’s hard-hitting narrative. Well done, Director Sajin Kusruti. I give it 4 out of five stars. Name- Biriyaani Duration- 96 minutes Country- India Cast- Kani Kusruti, Surjith, Anil Nedumangad, Shailaja Jala Director- Sajin Baabu
South Asia Times
1232 km – The Long Journey Home (Hindi): We will die on the way or when we reach home
By Neeraj Nanda
ELBOURNE, 3 August 2021: For how long maximum have you walked or cycled? Not sure. Anyway, it’s not easy, but possible. Don’t worry, journalist & director Vinod Kapri’s ’1232 km – The long Journey Home’ documentary details how determined humans (yes, humans) can chart their journey against unprecedented hurdles. It’s no joke to make an one hour and 56 minutes documentary on seven migrants who cycle (with a few lifts in trucks) from Loni, Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh) to Saharsa (Bihar) with no food and the lurking danger of rough cops. This journey starts instantly as the determined seven undertake a do-or-die journey to their villages in remote Bihar starting a
month after PM N. Modi announced the nationwide lockdown with a four hours notice, rendering them jobless and hungry. In fact, millions of others faced the same fate as India faced the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The seven days desperate journey of these helpless underprivileged workers by cycle had only one slogan – ” Marange ya to raste main – ya phir ghar ja kar marange” (Either we will die on the way or when we reach home). Some have mobile phones and keep in touch with family in the village. All sorts of people emerge on the way. Some help and others refuse fearing the police. Many truck drivers agree to give lifts and dhabawallas (wayside eateries) help them with food. The pandemic also seems to generate humanity and compassion. Villagers
and common folk on the way give a helping hand. People help people, not worried about the consequences. Survival creeps in despite the danger of never seeing loved ones. One small error on the road could be disastrous. The beautiful photography of rural landscapes and simple people interacting with the helpless speaks for itself. A man makes samosas for the riders. The never-ending journey keeps revealing till the seven enter Bihar. It’s joy and relief. They go for quarantine in a depilated school building and uneatable food creates despair. These are hardworking people who earn and eat. Being with families has its reliefs but a much tougher life is in the offing. Life without work starts. The chains of a decadent
exploitative system are deep. If these areas had developed they would not have gone far away from families for work. Vinod Kapri and his team tell us all as they saw it. In a way, it exposes the hollowness of decisions without thinking about the consequences. The documentary reveals approximately 30 million laborers migrated during the lockdown (announced in India on March 24, 2020) from different cities between 25th March to 15 June 2020. Media reports, the documentary says, more than 350 laborers lost their lives in different incidents during the lockdown. The Indian government claimed it had no official statistics that could conform laborers’ deaths. Seven months later during the Bihar elections, the migrants’ issue was not an issue.
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
All the migrants featured in the documentary were forced to return to big cities because of the lack of jobs in Bihar, the documentary says. So, the system remains alive. For India’s mainstream media the narratives are different from what Vinod Capri brings for us. This human tragedy should not be forgotten is the message. The ’1232 km – The long Journey Home’ team’s historical hard-hitting narrative leaves me numb and shocked. CAST: Rambabu Pandit, Ashish Kumar, Ritesh Kumar Pandit, Krishna Pandit, Sonu Pandit, Mukesh Kumar, Sandeep Pandit… DIRECTOR: Vinod Kapri; LYRICS: Gulzar & MUSIC: Vishal Bhardwaj; SINGERS: Sukhwinder Singh & Rekha Bhardwaj; FILM EDITOR: Hemanti Sarkar…
South Asia Times
Grazing, gorging or skipping: which is better for weight loss? By Adam Collins*
fasting diets are based on the idea that reducing meal frequency will ensure your body spends more time in the fasted state. It’s thought that this will improve your ability to manage the fat and carbohydrate in the meal. These diets can give better control over storing and burning fat stores and enhance your metabolic health.
hen it comes to diet and health, especially losing weight, most of the focus has been on what you eat and how much you’re eating. While eating fewer calories than you’re taking in is key to weight loss, another important factor is how you eat – such as how many times you eat a day. In recent years, much attention has been put on meal patterns. While some diets suggest that the key to losing weight is to only eat one meal a day, other popular diets suggest people should eat up to six small meals a day. Many of us have also been brought up to eat three meals per day – so which is best? Many diet plans also follow a three-square-meals eating pattern. Having such a rigid approach may leave people feeling hungry between meals. This can lead to people snacking between meals, potentially overeating in the process. But while snacking between meals was long seen as a way to stave off hunger, some early studies showed that eating more meals a day was linked with lower bodyweight. Since then, research has looked at a variety of different eating patterns, ranging from “nibbling” (up to 17 small meals per day) to “gorging” (two to three meals a day). There is a popular belief
that nibbling increases your metabolism, but this is not the case. There is evidence from one study that nibbling causes a less pronounced insulin spike after mealtimes compared to gorging. This indicates better bloodsugar control, which may be indirectly linked to managing weight better by storing less fat. But pending more research, nibbling may not actually burn more calories than gorging. Subsequent studies which looked at the effect of eating between two and four meals per day have failed to show whether nibbling or gorging is more beneficial to weight loss. Some studies show that eating more frequently helps with weight loss, but this can also increase hunger and impair your ability to clear fat from the blood – an important factor in cardiovascular disease risk. But the way we eat has changed over many decades, with more of us snacking or following other patterns of eating, such as
intermittent fasting, which advocate decreasing the number of meals eaten or leaving more time between meals. It’s thought that such eating patterns will help the body better lose weight. These diets are based on an understanding of our body’s different metabolic states. After we eat, our body goes into the postprandial state. During this state, which can last for several hours, the body stores energy from the food we’ve just eaten – often as fat. The postabsorptive (or fasted) period is when the body begins to burn through store fuel, which only really begins around ten or more hours after a meal. When we follow a traditional eating pattern of three meals a day, we tend to spend a large part of our time (12 hours or more) in the postprandial state, with very little time in a truly fasted state. This is exaggerated further with grazing or “nibbling” eating patterns. Intermittent
This is also why some people choose to intentionally skip meals, such as breakfast, while still following a normal pattern of eating (as opposed to intermittent fasting, where they may still eat three meals but in a shorter period, such as eight hours). While skipping meals may or may not affect how much we eat, it may have other metabolic benefits that come alongside an extended fast without adversely affecting appetite. Time of day Alongside eating frequency, another factor that might affect your weight is the time of day that we eat. Research has found that eating later is associated with eating more overall, which may hinder weight loss. The emerging field of chrono nutrition has also found that humans are designed to eat during the daylight hours as opposed to later in the evening – similar to our preferred sleeping schedule. Some research has shown that eating later in the day is associated with higher
www.southasiatimes.com.au - 0421 677 082
bodyweight. Research also suggests we’re more likely to eat unhealthy foods when we eat outside of our natural circadian rhythm. Another consideration is the timing of when we eat carbohydrates. How you deal with carbs in one meal can be influenced by whether we’ve eaten carbs in previous meals – known as the secondmeal phenomenon. Carbohydrates are largely responsible for transitioning the body to the postprandial state, releasing insulin and control fat storage. This means that if we eat carbohydrates at every meal, we’re more likely to store these as fat. Some research suggests that limiting carbohydrates may help us burn more fat during exercise, and may improve exercise performance. Different eating strategies may have different benefits for our body, such as better blood sugar control. But when it comes to losing weight, no strategy seems to work better than the other. At the end of the day, the eating strategy that works best for a person will differ. Knowing which strategy will work best for you depends on many factors, such as your goals, your lifestyle, your sleeping pattern and what type of exercise you do. *Principal Teaching Fellow, Nutrition, University of Surrey Source- The Conversation, September 1, 2021 (Under Creative Commons Licence)