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Economic Development

In 2009, Nobel Prize laureate and former Chief Economist of the World Bank Paul Romer proposed the concept of ‘charter cities.’ In contrast to special economic zones, charter cities were envisaged as quasi-sovereign units located within existing states which were to be maintained by a foreign guarantor nation or nations. This arrangement would not merely construct a separate economic framework for the designated territory, but also establish a legal and political system autonomous from the host state. This, Romer believed, would create city-scale epicentres to stimulate economic development within the Global South. This piece examines Romer’s project and questions the immediate feasibility of such a project by taking into account the ‘stickiness’ of ideas regarding the territorial sovereign state.  Since 2009, the idea of charter …

As the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic unfold, the most severe casualties of “The Great Lockdown” are resource-dependent economies with limited institutional capacity to respond to the crisis. Their supply chains have been cut off, their markets are disrupted, and their investors are crowding out. Many of these countries have high external debt and an obligation to repay it in the medium term or they will face the trilemma of registering a double-digit growth, accruing further debt, or defaulting. Come 2021, Mongolia, a superlatively resource-dependent economy, will be at the center of this trilemma. The immediate cause of Mongolia’s current state is its inconsistent fiscal expenditure and its undiversified mining economy. Over the years, fiscal mismanagement of the previous …

The Indian Government’s initial response to Covid-19—a stringent nationwide lockdown which commenced with an intimation period of only “four hours”—was hailed by the World Health Organisation as “timely and tough.” However, this international acclaim overlooked the disastrous result of the rushed lockdown on India’s migrant workforce. For them, the restrictions imposed by the lockdown has endangered their access to healthcare, housing, food and social security, which has further pushed their lives in precarity. Immediate action is needed from the Central Government to tend to their current needs and provide them with long-term economic stability. Statistics of Migrant Labour in India  As per the census of 2011, India has approximately 453.6 million internal migrants. From this, the migrant workforce is estimated to be around 100 million. The Economic Survey of 2017 estimated …

While the current lockdown in Pakistan has had a detrimental effect on livelihoods across the country, its impact on transgender communities has been particularly devastating. Covid-19 has revealed a troubling picture of transgender people’s social exclusion, marked by high poverty rates, a lack of social security programmes, and structural discrimination. Over the past years, there have been steps in the right direction towards recognizing Pakistan’s transgender community—most notably a 2009 Supreme Court judgement calling for the registration of transgender people as a ‘third gender’ and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, passed by Parliament in 2018. However, neither measure has been widely enforced. Pakistan needs transformative, equitable policies to ensure equal access to basic public services for its transgender communities, who are currently in a dire situation. Covid-19 provides …
Map showing Ethiopia and its neighbors with red pushpin over Addis Ababa

As the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) nears completion, the Nile River Basin is at a crossroads. The next few months will be consequential for relations between countries in the river basin—notably Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt—because dam management upstream could have consequences for the supply of water downstream. Although the three countries began discussions after the project was announced in 2011, they have yet to reach an agreement on how the new reservoir should be filled and managed. Despite the absence of an agreement, Ethiopia intends to begin filling the reservoir this July. This article describes the competing perspectives between countries, explains reasons for the lack of an agreement, and provides recommendations for addressing the challenges of the GERD. If …

From 2016 to 2020, China has been carrying a five-year project of hukou reform, granting urban hukous to rural-to-urban migrants. The hukou system was initiated in 1958 to control the movement of the Chinese population. Each Chinese citizen is assigned either a rural or urban hukou, depending on their residency. It is noteworthy that Chinese citizens cannot hold both a rural and urban hukou simultaneously. This has caused major problems for the estimated 262 million rural workers in urban areas nationwide. The five-year project has sought to convert rural hukous to urban ones to help rural Chinese to succeed in urban areas.  As the project comes to an end, it is important to analyse whether hukou conversion – loosening the requirements to change a rural hukou to urban hukou – is conducive to rural Chinese citizens’ educational and social success, …

In the past, India and China have disputed numerous issues, from trade to territory. Notably, in 1962, disputes over their Himalayan border regions sparked the brief Sino-Indian War. In the 21st century, a new issue has the potential to become a flashpoint between the world’s most populous nations: their shared rivers. China has planned, and in some cases begun construction on, major hydropower and water diversion projects in its southern regions, including Tibet, which is making the water security of its downstream neighbors more fragile. The glacial Tibetan Plateau, largely controlled by China, is the source of rivers that supply water to approximately 1.5 billion people. Many of Asia’s major rivers—including the Mekong, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Yellow, Indus, and Salween Rivers—begin in the Tibetan Plateau, and supply water to people living in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and mainland Southeast Asia. Thus, China exerts powerful hegemony over Asia’s water resources. China views the development of rivers originating within its borders as a matter of national sovereignty, not international cooperation. According to one telling Chinese proverb, “Upstream doesn’t suffer.” China does not have river treaties with other nations, making downstream countries vulnerable to water supply disruptions and other environmental damages. In the absence of treaties, downstream nations have no forums for formally resolving water disputes with China, and cannot use international legal institutions to ensure they receive their fair share of water.

The ‘sweetest victory’ of the Conservatives, as David Cameron put it on May 8th, and the sweeping landslide victory of the SNP, winning all but three of the Scottish seats, were indeed shocking wake-up calls for all those concerned about British politics. Labour’s unexpectedly disastrous loss of 26 seats led Ed Miliband to announce his immediate resignation as Labour leader. The Lib-Dems were wiped away, going from 57 to just eight seats, causing the resignation of Nick Clegg as party leader. The party was severely punished by voters who blamed it for betraying everything it had stood for in seeking power. Looking at these results, one could argue that the British voters decided at the very last moment to prevent the formation of another coalition government, assumingly returning to their traditional attitude of regarding coalitions as an exception. For the polling companies too, the election results proved a nightmare. In order to recover their privileged capacity to influence the media, voters, and parties, they are in the course of reexamining why their pre-election forecasts appeared to be inaccurate. Meanwhile, one shall have a thorough look at how many votes the grassroots parties such as the SNP, UKIP, and the Greens, gained in this election. Even though their positions in the political spectrum span from the left to the extreme right, the total number of votes won by these three parties amounted to nearly 6.5 million, against the Conservatives’ 11.3 million. Amongst them, UKIP failed to get more than one seat and is now in the midst of an internal turmoil. Despite that, Nigel Farage is generally praised for contributing to the party’s net gain from 9.6 to 12.6 per cent of the vote. In particular, UKIP has remained popular among those who are disillusioned with the aloofness of the political elite.