Letter from the Editor | November 2023

Even as the Russia-Ukraine war continues with no immediate end in sight despite a few aborted attempts at ceasefire, the Israel-Palestine conflict that started on 7 October 2023 by Hamas’ ill-conceived attack on Israel’s defence forces and civilians causing over 1,400 deaths has plunged the entire West Asian region in uncertainty with the real fear of uncontrollable escalation.

Unlike the former, where international organisations and the rest of the world were able to prevail upon Russia to facilitate creation of a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of the civilian population, rescue and relief, this has not worked in the case of Israel. Worse, the government of Israel is treating all calls for cessation of violence as a direct assault on not only the Israeli nation, but the Jewish people on the whole.

Perhaps, never before in this century have international institutions, created with much optimism after World War 2, failed to even inspire hope, exposing their complete helplessness in the face of the powerful—in this case Israel with the total backing of the United States. According to the United Nations, in the three weeks since the Israeli retaliatory attack began, over 9,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed in Gaza. Just to get a sense of the calamity, the same number of civilians were killed in Ukraine since the war began in February 2022.

Prisoner of its own policies, the US today is caught in wars across the world through its deleterious involvement in Ukraine and Israel. No wonder, instead of generating positive ideas, the US vision has been reduced to reactionary, volatile and divisive. Instead of benevolence, as behoves a world power, its foreign policy is being driven by undermining others. While it may have worked in the past, but today since its biggest challenger, China (along with Russia), is pursuing a policy of collectivism and cooperation, the US is increasingly becoming an unreliable partner.

All of this is throwing the world in uncertainty and suspicion. But this is not the only reason for the global turmoil. Full fledged wars, low grade conflicts, sectarianism, non-state vigilantes and rapacious governments are increasingly rendering more civilians homeless and stateless. Since we are moving towards an interconnected, interdependent world, despite the conflicts, India is not untouched by any of this. The pulls and pressures of global geopolitics, vested interests and compulsions born of desperation, are sucking India in the vortex of competitive interests, which are merely a shade lower than conflict.

The November issue encapsulates all of this—the global turmoil, the internal angst and a nation with possibilities but riven by petty politicking and sectarian policymaking. There is an undercurrent of sadness running through the November issue. These are truly extraordinary times. Hope we live to see better and more humane days ahead. May our collective hopes be stronger than our despair.



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