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Track 2

All the chatter and goss from around the world.

Track 2
Illustration by Saahil
Track 2

“You are going to have to watch and study the mosques because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques.”

US republican Prez candidate Donald Trump
after the Paris attacks

Big Idea

BCCI didn’t want to go to Abu Dhabi. PCB didn’t want to come here. So Sri Lanka has emerged as the potential battleground for the Indo-Pak cricket teams to battle it out. The buzz is, England is also a possible future venue.


Picking Up The Strands Once More

Having started off his prime ministerial tenure by reaching out to Pakistan, Narendra Modi has been quite disappointed by the way relations between the two countries deteriorated in subsequent months. But after a long phase of hostility, an opportunity has arisen to break the pattern and restart the stalled dialogue bet­w­­een the two countries. An invitation from Afghanistan for a regional dialogue—to be held in Islamabad next month to find ways of restoring peace in the war-torn country—is pending bef­ore the Indian leadership. Sources say foreign minister Sushma Swaraj may finally travel to Pakistan to resume talks between the two sides. Though officially no statement has been made in this regard, MEA officials point out that her visit could lay the gro­undwork for Modi himself visiting the country later for the Saarc summit, which is also being hosted by Pakistan next year.

With Love, Evidently

Isolated by the western world, Russia is trying hard to cling on to friends among the BRICS nations. To ensure that its importance in the group remains steady, it has now proposed that thousands of students from these emerging economies should be able to study free at the proposed BRICS Network University. The university proposed by the BRICS to bring in better coordin­a­tion and cohesion among member countries and its peoples, is yet to be set up. But Russian education minister Dmitri Livanov has already made it clear that students who are keen to study in the university will not be charged any fees for the courses they study there. The fees will be borne by the BRICS organisation even though no one is even sure yet where the university will be set up. With no other member coming up with suggestions, Russia has volunteered to locate it in Yekaterinburg.


Across the Nile, Swimming for Women

Diplomats often do unusual things; sometimes even undertake missions fraught with risk in the interest of their country. But few will be able to beat what the Dutch ambassador did in Sudan recently. Susan Blankhart swam across the Nile in Khartoum to raise the visibility of the Facebook page of her embassy. She had told friends that she would swim across the river if her embassy’s FB page hit 10,000 ‘likes’. Once it hit the target, the 63-year-old diplomat, along with six Dutch and seven Sudanese women, swam the several hundred metres across the Nile. Cheered by dozens of supporters on the riverbank and watched by a team of lifeguards along the route, the women made it safely to the shores.“It was lovely, it was beautiful,” said a visibly tired Blankhart afterwards, not forgetting to add that it was all for a cause, to highlight the empowerment of Sudanese women.

Diplomatic Chatter

Foreign envoys are talking about...Singapore

In the end, he came, he spoke, he conquered. But away from the strobe lights, Narendra Modi’s visit to Singapore, a country many Indian politicians hold up as a model, has been mired in controversy, and diplomats in Delhi are wondering if the tiny city-state managed to show the PM his place before it ceded ground. Modi’s televised addresses on foreign shores have usually been private thanksgiving affairs to NRIs, with suitable ticket rates. They have not alw­ays involved the governments of those countries. Lee Kuan Yew land—known for its strict laws and even stricter implementation—decided to play hardball. It allowed only Indian passport holders to attend Modi’s November 24 rally. A poorly attended do doesn’t make for great pictures on TV and this all but scuppered his prop machinery. But just a week before Modi arrived, the bar on Singapore nationals was lifted.NRI groups were cock-a-hoop and all was well that ended well. But for the part that a small point had been successfully made by a small country.

Compiled by Pranay Sharma, Sunit Arora and Pietro Reviglio

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