1 Clueless eurozone (MN Hebbar in Khaleej Times) As European leaders go home for the Christmas festivities, they would take back with them memories of the role played by Germany in moderating the course of the debt crisis throughout the year and preventing matters from precipitating a collapse of the euro and thus of the eurozone.
As we head into 2013, Europe would carry forward its unfinished agenda and also confront new and perhaps explosive issues – such as the recent threat by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron to opt out of the EU next year.
The majority of European leaders reckon with the return of Angela Merkel in the 2013 German elections to avail of Germany’s continual influence. An informal vote taken by European politicians for the ‘star’ performer in EU and eurozone politics has fallen on Merkel as the ‘Euro’ star of 2012!
2 Top three economies to stay atop for a decade (Larry Elliott in The Guardian) Britain moved up to sixth in the global economic league table during 2012, overtaking Brazil despite a year of flatlining activity. A survey from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) found that the value of the UK’s national output surpassed that of Latin America’s biggest economy following a fall in the value of its currency, the real.
The CEBR said it would take until 2014 for Brazil to once again supplant the UK in its World Economic League Table (WELT), and that by 2017 Britain would also have fallen behind a fast-rising India. Douglas McWilliams, CEBR chief executive, said: “The Indians have lost to us at cricket this winter but they are on track to beat us at economics.
By 2017 we predict that the Indian economy will be the largest economy in the Commonwealth, overtaking the UK economy.
The five biggest economies in the world in 2012 were the same as in 2011, with the US followed by China, Japan, Germany and France. The CEBR said that the three top spots would remain unchanged for the next decade, although China’s economy would by then be 83% as big as America’s and catching up fast. By 2022, the report said India would be the fourth biggest economy in the world, with Russia up to seventh and bigger than every country in Western Europe apart from Germany. Britain will be the eighth largest economy followed by France.
3 The beast in Delhi’s belly (Esmerelda Jelbart Wallbridge in The Sydney Morning Herald) In a hospital in the south of Delhi, a 23-year-old woman clings to life, after a trip home from the cinema became a living nightmare. Brutally raped and beaten on a bus by a gang of six men, her naked body was then thrown from the moving vehicle. Her future is uncertain.
The incident has captured the attention of the nation. “Delhi’s SHAME!” screams one headline. “Save women, save India!” shouts a protester and poster at India Gate. There have been strident calls for the death penalty for the perpetrators and a groundswell of support for the introduction of capital punishment for convicted rapists. India is in crisis. The awful tragedy is that there is nothing extraordinary about what happened on that bus. Women in India are in grave danger, suffering in a culture where sexism and misogyny lead to horrific violence against women.
I have been travelling in India since early August and based in Delhi for the past few months. Overwhelmingly, I have loved my time here, but I have not felt safe. From research released earlier this year that found India to be the worst OECD nation for women, to my conversations with women who live here, to my personal experiences, I am convinced that India is the worst country on earth in which to be a woman.
When I arrived in Delhi, the first thing I noticed was the staring and leering. Conversations with girlfriends and older women warned against the perils of crowds. My experiences are filtered through the lens of my privileged position in Indian society. Protected by my comparative wealth and by my nationality, I am in a far better position than most.
At a time when Australia is making its largest concerted effort to strengthen bilateral ties with India and pundits are pointing to all the points of convergence (democratic values, shared love of cricket, common language, mutual gains from trade) it is important that we make a clear-eyed assessment of the status quo. If we as a nation are to embrace India fully – as I think we ought – we must disavow any form of cultural relativism when it comes to this issue. We must apply pressure, in whatever way possible, to call for change.
4 A thousand road deaths in SA holiday season (Johannesburg Times) The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) on Tuesday said the number of people killed on South Africa’s roads was estimated to be more than 1 000, according to a report. RTMC spokesman Ashraf Ismail said that the national death toll was at this stage likely to be over 1,100.
Authorities in the Western Cape say the province’s road death toll has risen to 142 since the beginning of December. Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said the figure was 15 fatalities more than what was recorded last year, and warned that traffic officers would clamp-down on all road offenders. Transport Minister Ben Martins over the weekend urged motorists travelling on South Africa’s roads during the festive season to prioritise life above personal convenience, the department said.