September 07, 2023
Indias rising geopolitical clout will be tested as it hosts the G20 summit
NEW DELHI (AP) — Ahead of India’s hosting of the G20 summit of leading economies, its prime minister invited 125 mostly developing countries to a virtual meeting in January to signal New Delhi’s intention to be their champion on the world stage. As the leaders logged onto Zoom, Prime Minister Narendra Modi listed major challenges he said could be better addressed if developing countries had a bigger share in the emerging global order: the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, terrorism, the war in Ukraine. “The world is in a state of crisis,” Modi said. “Most of the global challenges have not been created by the Global South. But they affect us more.” India has pledged to amplify the voice of the so-called Global South — a wide of expanse of mostly developing countries, many of them former colonies, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Oceania and the Caribbean. That pledge will be put to the test this week when world leaders arrive in New Delhi for this year’s G20 summit, which begins Saturday. But India has promoted itself not only as a bridge to the developing world, but as a rising global player and — importantly — a mediator between the West and Russia. Steering through fractures among the world’s various blocs over Russia’s war in Ukraine will be a “diplomatic high-wire act” for India, said Milan Vaishnav, director of the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. None of the several G20 meetings this year have produced a communique, with Russia and China vetoing wording on the war that they once agreed to at last year’s summit in Indonesia, when the summit statement noted that “most members strongly condemned” the invasion. If leaders don’t break this deadlock over the weekend, it could lead to the first time that the group’s summit has ended without a communique, an unprecedented setback for the grouping, said John Kirton, director and founder of the G20 Research Group. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending and neither is China’s leader Xi Jinping. Both are sending representatives. Given New Delhi’s historic ties with Moscow, its surging relationship with the West, and its hostility with Beijing over a years-long boundary dispute, Modi is in a diplomatically complicated position. India has relied on Russia, its Cold War era ally, for MILITARY hardware for decades — and more recently, for record amounts of cheap Oil. Despite India’s refusal to directly condemn Russia over the war, the West and allies have courted the country aggressively as they bank on it as a bulwark against China’s growing ambitions. U.S. President Joe Biden pulled out the red carpet for Modi recently as the two signed a slate of deals, the Indian prime minister was a guest of honor at France’s Bastille Day parade, and he was invited to attend the G7 summit a few months ago. “Is Prime Minister Modi as skilled and as committed as President Widodo of Indonesia was last year to find a way to produce a communique? That’s more of an open question given the progress of Russia’s war against Ukraine,” Kirton said. As the split over Ukraine casts a shadow over the G20, India has focused on issues affecting developing countries, like food and fuel insecurity, rising inflation, debt and reforms of multilateral development banks. And in a bid to make the G20 more inclusive, Modi has proposed the African Union become a permanent member. Many G20 countries want to focus on calling out Russia, but for a number of developing nations dealing with local conflicts and extreme weather events, the Ukraine war is not as big a priority, said Happymon Jacob, founder of the New Delhi-based Council for Strategic and Defense Research. “There’s a feeling (in the Global South) that conflicts in other parts of the world, be it Afghanistan, Myanmar or Africa, are not taken as seriously by developed countries or in forums like the G20,” Jacob said. A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit in March suggested growing support for Moscow from the developing world, with the number of countries actively condemning Russia falling from 131 to 122. “Some emerging economies have shifted to a neutral position,” it noted. The number of countries that lean toward Russia jumped from 29 a year ago to 35, it said. South Africa, Mali and Burkina Faso had moved into this group, highlighting Moscow’s rising influence in Africa. China remained the most prominent of the countries leaning toward Russia. As India progresses economically, it increasingly leans toward the West — which is welcomed by Western powers — but it also sees itself as a counterweight to China in vying for influence in the developing world with which it has historic ties, Jacob said. India has identified with the Global South since its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, though Modi has renewed the emphasis on the phrase, using it frequently over the past year or two. “India’s trying to ensure that the Global South doesn’t go into the Chinese camp,” Jacob said. Vaishnav said India is in “a geopolitical sweet spot.” Its economy is among the fastest growing for major countries, it has a large working age population as the West ages, and its neutral stance on the Ukraine war has only boosted its diplomatic sway at the G20. The global spotlight could also help Modi’s popularity ahead of a crucial general election next year. On the other hand, unemployment remains a big concern as hundreds of millions struggle for work in the country’s large but still widely unequal economy. And even as Modi touts Democratic principles abroad, critics accuse his Hindu nationalist government of stifling dissent, stoking religious violence and weakening independent institutions at home. So far, Modi has promoted a feeling that, “given the geopolitical landscape, the world needs India as much – if not more – than India needs the world,” Vaishnav said. “But the risk is that if we see domestic instability such that corporations and governments start to hedge their bets, and if India is no longer seen as delivering on its ability to counter China … there could be some diplomatic costs,” he said.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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