Standpoint May 2014

The May issue of Standpoint hits newsstands on the 1st of May. In this issue, Nikita Malik explains what the Indian elections mean for a first-time voter.

Standpoint is a monthly British cultural and political magazine launched in May 2008, the first launch of a major current affairs publication in the UK in more than a decade.

Well-known contributors to the magazine have included Clive James, Jonathan Bate, Michael Burleigh, Ian Bostridge, Joseph Bottum, Julie Burchill, Robert Conquest, George Walden and Paul Wolfowitz, Allan Massie, Piers Paul Read, Craig Raine, Joseph Epstein, and Tibor Fischer.


The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Jordanians split over the War in Syria

Painting Jordanians as [Syrian] rebel allies with a broad brush would be too simplistic: rather, popular opinion in the Hashemite Kingdom is divided. Many Jordanians do support the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but some oppose it and many others have grown skeptical over time, as the spillover from Syria to Jordan increases, writes Nikita Malik for the Carnegie Endowment.

Read the full article here.

The Huffington Post

Syria’s Spillover Effect on Jordan

The Jordanian border is difficult to police. There are more than 40 crossing points, and they are used by both refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war and smugglers. Although border guards receive Syrians seeking refuge in Jordan on a daily basis, they must increasingly watch for infiltrators from both sides, writes Nikita Malik for the Huffington Post.

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Jordan Business

Equity in Rocky Waters

A water shortage for Jordanians could fuel growing instability for the Hashemite Kingdom. Citizens without a fundamental human right are likely to express their dissent, voicing protest both on and off the streets. The focus for the Hashemite Kingdom remains two-fold: guaranteeing the fulfillment of domestic water needs to improve food security in the nation, and contributing to political stability through equitable sharing of water resources within the wider region, writes Nikita Malik for Jordan Business magazine.

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The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Syria’s Spillover Effect on Jordan

Nikita Malik writes for the Carnegie Endowment on smugglers, refugees, tribes & Islamism. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a foreign-policy think tank with centers in Washington, D.C., Moscow, Beirut, Beijing, and Brussels.

In January 2013, the Jordanian armed forces prevented a smuggling attempt across the Syrian border, claiming that they had stopped a “major shipment of arms, ammunition, explosives and drugs.” It was no isolated event. In 2013 alone, smuggling activity across Jordan’s border with Syria, which is over 230 miles long, increased by more than 300 percent.

The impact of Syria’s crisis on Jordan, its smaller southern neighbor, has been most clearly seen in the form of a massive influx of Syrian refugees, now numbering some 600,000 people. But there are other, less visible, consequences that also contribute to the erosion of Jordan’s internal stability.

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Does Jordan need nuclear energy?

Jordan hopes to become self-reliant with the creation of two nuclear power plants. However, in the future, there are dual challenges in the form of cost and safety, writes Nikita Malik for openDemocracy.

Read the original article here.

The Citizen

Does Jordan need Nuclear Energy?

AMMAN: As Jordan strives to become self-reliant with the creation of two nuclear power plants, the country’s foreign policy displays a strategic realignment, writes Nikita Malik for The Citizen. 

With greenhouse gases increasingly accumulating in the atmosphere, finding ways to produce power cleanly, safely, and affordably is a pressing issue for many governments. Accelerated by the discovery of 70,000 tons of uranium deposits in 2007, Jordan has opted for nuclear power to meet its growing energy needs. In time to come, it will be important to monitor the effect of Jordan’s decision to adopt nuclear power on shifting regional alignments, the evolution of geo-political and country-level risk, and the environmental, economic, and safety repercussions that are likely to result from this choice.

On October 28th, Russia’s Rosatom Overseas won the contract to build Jordan’s first nuclear power plant. Many have angled the choice of Rosatom as one of a good fit: the company meets costs according to prerequisite demands by the Jordanian government[2], and has several functional prototypes around the world, reducing potential hidden costs and learning externalities. This outcome was influenced, in part, however, by the automatic exclusion of the United States, which was unable to bid for a tender because of Jordan’s decision to retain the right to enrich uranium. Under terms of the current U.S. – Jordan agreement, Jordan can mine the uranium ore, but not convert it into fuel for nuclear power. Such a pact is unique to dealings with countries in the Middle East, given the United States signed a modified nuclear agreement with Vietnam in early October 2013.

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The Huffington Post

A Clean Sweep

Nikita Malik examines Delhi’s AAP in the run up to the highly political 2014 that awaits India for the Huffington Post. 

These are tough times in India. The nation faces its lowest GDP growth rate in the last decadeUnemployment rates have jumped to 4.7%, from 3.8% in 2012. Voters are disheartened by failed reforms and record corruption. Now, India’s political future depends on how power negotiations in the nation are distributed and negotiated. If the Aam Admi Party (AAP) is able to fulfill citizens’ expectations regarding participation, social justice, and due process, a shift in India’s democratic paradigm is to be expected.

Caste and religion based politics have long been an active playing card of regional parties in India. Championing the cause of their respective regions, regional parties tend to be ideologically fickle. Initial party dialect and promises can readily swing back, depending on the political opportunities that become available, the ambition and convenience of their leaders, and by a need to further bolster electoral prospects. The incorporation of backward caste elites and members of the scheduled caste into Indian political passion has done little to reduce the enormous economic disparities that persist in India’s social order. A 2013 report published by Credit Suisse reveals that 50% of India’s GDP, and 90% of India’s employment, is informal. Previous social welfare programs to reduce tax burdens and labour-market restrictions, such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), have been marred by corruption. An increase in the size of the informal sector negatively affects growth: first, by reducing the availability of public services for everyone in the economy, and, second, by increasing the number of activities that use the existing public service less efficiently, or not at all.

The key to the AAP’s inclusion strategy lies in its social activism, and its citizen-centric governance approach. Kejriwal’s quest to improve the quality of government institutions by enacting development policy dialogue is not a new approach in Indian politics. The AAP represents a deepening of democracy, however, because it measures and monitors governance by listening to the people, and not the interest groups. A growing demand for citizenship rights by common Indians has given rise to numerous needs for power and resources. The AAP meets both demands by actively involving voters as stakeholders in funding and party management. The utilization of social movements has been another key strategy in including voters, regardless of identity, as active participants in change. These movements have been formalized with the AAP’s rise to power and the creation of a complaints commission launched post-December 28th. Class-like divisions within castes and religions, and the failure of the Indian state to provide public goods such as primary education and health, have eroded the power of identity-based politics, releasing new actors ready for political and social mobilization on grounds of national inclusion.

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The National

Will Gujarat’s leader help India focus on economic gains?

Nikita Malik on The National. The National is a government-owned English-language daily newspaper published in Abu Dhabi.

December 19, 2013 Updated: December 19, 2013 18:59:00

Ask most Indians about Narendra Modi and you will get a clear response. There will be those, of course, who can’t stand the man, but in his home state of Gujarat the answer you will most likely receive is: “He has helped us. There are fewer problems with him around.”

These assertions are supported by their votes. Mr Modi is the longest-serving chief minister in Gujarat’s history. His popularity is due, very largely, to his economic policies. Under his control, Gujarat has seen industrial and agricultural growth, a more efficient bureaucracy and even reduced corruption. Now, Mr Modi is making his pitch as the prime ministerial candidate for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (the BJP) in next year’s Indian general elections.

There is a different picture that can be painted, though. Many argue that he simply did not do enough to prevent the communal riots in his state in 2002, when hundreds of Muslims were killed over several days of extreme sectarian violence.

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