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1. Let’s talk about abortion

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act was passed in 1971. There were practically no discussions on abortion since then until the National Conference on ‘Making Early Abortion Safe and Accessible’ was held in Agra in 2000. This proved to be a milestone in the history of abortion discourse in India, as it marked the entry of abortion into the mainstream narrative on reproductive health.
The period 2000-05 witnessed the rise of new and safe technologies such as the Manual Vacuum Aspiration and the legalisation of medical abortion. The next five years saw the decentralisation of comprehensive abortion care (CAC) in the public health space and its introduction in the health objectives and training programmes. Since then, with the aim of addressing the persisting gaps in abortion, some notable measures were implemented by the government. These include the first-published CAC guidelines, mass media campaigns and a paradigm shift in the perception of MTP from a procedure-centric to a CAC-centric lens.
This momentum, however, failed to halt the spiraling gaps in the access to CAC services for women across the country. Access and awareness continue to be a glaring problem for women seeking abortion. To address them, the key focus areas that need urgent attention are expanding the provider base and redesigning the narrative on abortions.
A registered medical provider has the unique privilege of not just improving the health of patients, but also effecting behaviour change. So it is prudent for the provider base to be strengthened with knowledge and resources, which will help them leverage their influential position to bring about positive transformations.
The starting point should be expanding the provider base by increasing the number of service providers by permitting nurses, AYUSH doctors and auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) to undergo training and be included in the spectrum of legal abortion providers. Given that the majority of India’s population lives in rural areas, home to largely mid-level professionals, it is of utmost importance to train, equip and authorise them to provide abortion services.
The ANMs are already an integral component of the public health system—focusing on issues such as family planning, sexual and reproductive health and rights—at the grassroots, and are far more in number than doctors. Their potential remains untapped, as an increase in the number of ANMs providing abortion services could reduce maternal deaths. The WHO in 2000 proposed that one of the ways to increase abortion access is through trained mid-level providers.
Besides, a number of studies from India by the Population Council have shown that ANMs are as competent as doctors in providing abortion services. Exposing the candidates in medical colleges to rural areas, with a focus on quality CAC training will help in confidence-building. If the provider lacks confidence and is inclined to turn abortion-seekers away, the latter may end up resorting to illegal and unsafe methods. Often, many doctors as well as women are unaware that CAC can be provided at public health centres.
This is emblematic of a generic lack of awareness amongst the providers as well as abortion seekers, which can be solved by effective communication. One of the common problems is the legal conflation between abortion and gender-biased sex selection. There is an urgent need to destigmatise abortion in the medical fraternity as well as amongst the people, through the construction of a counternarrative that challenges the predominant ways of thinking.
It is a common misconception that the middle class, or those in urban areas have sufficient information on abortion-related matters. They too lack access to information and services, and efforts need to be bolstered to bridge this gap. There is also a greater need to liberalise mindsets, which tend to stigmatise rape survivors, unmarried women and other vulnerable women who may wish to undergo abortion.
Very often, these women have to face societal pressures and overcome legal barriers in their pursuit of abortion services— the right to which should belong to them. Considering there is increased access to technology in urban and semi-urban areas today, it can be used to demystify abortion and provide details about when, where and how to seek abortion services.
At the same time, access to new media has not reached villages yet, so it is important to customise the communication methods so that they have maximal efficacy. This can include the likes of wall paintings and IEC (Information, Education and Communication) materials using local language, instead of technical terms, for a simplified understanding of abortion and to demystify and destigmatise it.
Susmita Margaret, youth leader, Centre of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, at a CAC Conclave held in New Delhi in July 2017 said that in the deep interiors of the country, the good old toll-free number would still be a great tool in “creating awareness and providing a platform for women to discuss their issues and seek information”. Susmita works closely with IDF, an NGO, on a project to increase awareness on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues among girls in select areas in Jharkhand, with a focus on encouraging health-seeking behaviour.
While we wait for the suggested amendments—that includes expansion of the provider base—to the MTP Act to be passed (after being abruptly put on hold by the PMO recently), we must simultaneously streamline efforts to communicate to providers and seekers alike, key abortion-related knowledge and the indispensability of making safe CAC services universally available to women.

2. Let’s return to development banking

Development banks played a paramount role in the economic growth of countries. The rapid industrialisation of Europe is owed to institutions such as Credit Mobilier in France, and KfW in Germany which provided capital as also entrepreneurial skills and technological expertise. In the US, War Finance (1918) and Reconstruction Finance (1932) corporations funded railroads, airlines and exports in addition to the war effort. Development banks made huge contributions to the rapid growth of postwar Japan (Japan Investment Corporation), the transformation of Korea (Korea Development Bank), the rise of China as an economic giant (China Development Bank), and Latin American leader Brazil (BNDES).
Central factor
These banks also extended useful services such as in-house technical expertise, underwriting new capital issuance and creating confidence in other lenders. They performed a counter-cyclical role to ensure investment flows even during economic downturns and actively supported regional integration and the internationalisation of domestic companies. The focus is now on promoting sectors such as green finance, new technologies, SME development and startups.
Development banks formed the central piece of growth strategy in India too. Soon after independence, the institutional framework for development banking began — IFCI (1948), IDBI (1964), IIBI (1972), NABARD and EXIM Bank (1982), SIDBI (1990), etc. The private sector got its due place with ICICI in 1955. In 1952, SFCs came into being followed by refinancing institutions to promote rural electrification, housing and urban development. These efforts paid off well as, according to a recent UNCTAD study (December 2016), development banks loans which formed 2.2 per cent of the gross capital formation in the early 1970s reached 15.5 per cent by the early 1990s.
Reforms, however, altered their pace of growth. The Washington Consensus that guided reforms have put private markets in the forefront. To overcome the inefficiencies that dogged development banks at that time, wide-ranging reforms in stock markets, foreign capital flows, ownership norms, and entry of private and foreign banks were brought in to bolster the private local markets. Accordingly, ICICI in 2002 and IDBI in 2004 converted into commercial banks. The outcome, however, fell far short of requirements. New capital issuance remained lacklustre, private capital veered towards the pursuit of high valuations and a domestic corporate bond market struggled to develop, all of which left a telling effect. The UNCTAD study notes: “As a proportion of the financial system as a whole, between the early 1970s and late 1980s, their loans (development banks) accounted for over two thirds of total disbursals. Between financial liberalisation in the early 1990s and early 2000s, this share declined to 30 per cent; after 2004, it declined further, to 1.7 per cent.”
Interest revived
If it’s the post-90s Washington Consensus that restricted development banks, ironically it is the North Atlantic financial crisis in 2008 that reignited their need. A recent IMF paper (2016) noted, “the initial hopes that the privatisation wave of the 1980s would fuel a private sector funded greenfield infrastructure investment boom have fallen well short of expectations”.
The world is now seeing a revival of interest in development banks. Last year, Nigeria set up the Development Bank of Nigeria with assistance from a consortium of global development banks. The World Bank devoted its Global Financial Development Report (2015) to the theme of importance of long -term finance. The UNCTAD study asserted “the time is ripe to promote development banks. At the national level, the global financial crisis in 2008 has opened space for national policy makers to selectively break with the Washington Consensus policy package and an opportunity to support pro-development finance initiatives”. Which China did so well.
The assets of China Development Bank (CDB) grew from a humble $11billion in 1994 when it was born to about $2 trillion now with its share in the GDP growing from 1.9 per cent to 17.7 per cent. It financed such gigantic projects as the Three Gorges Dam, the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, the Beijing Capital Airport, the Municipal Subway System and much of China’s High Speed Railway Network; it is co-financing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor along with EXIM Bank and ICBC and has projects worth $350 billion in the One Belt One Road (OBOR) regions. It has brought down its NPAs from a perilous 47 per cent in 1997 to 0.8 per cent in 2015. CDB had been a great support to the state-level investment corporations. CDB and China EXIM together lent $684 billion during 2007-14, equal to $700 billion lent by World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Inter-American Development Bank together. It’s the strong belief in development banking that led to China creating the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank with its BRICS partners. The Korea Development Bank hugely helped in transforming Korea into a futuristic economy. Brazil’s BNDES disbursements between 2007-2014 more than doubled. With the projects it supported the bank contributed to a quarter of the nation’s fixed capital formation.
Gaps persist
Despite the slush of global savings and near zero interest rates in developed markets, huge gaps persist in the investment needs of developing countries. A McKinsey report noted that the average infrastructure investment rates during 2008-2013 declined in India (minus 0.5 per cent), Russia (minus 0.8 per cent), Brazil (minus 0.3 per cent) and Mexico (minus 0.5 per cent). In its 2030 agenda for development, the UN estimated sustainable development goals funding needs at $6 trillion annually. India needs over $600 billion of investment over the next five years in India for power, roads and urban infrastructure.
Opening up and excessive dependence on foreign capital to fill the investment gaps carry risks. A strong domestic financial system is vital for growth and global leadership. The World Bank’s new broad-based index of financial development placed India in 38th place in regard to financial markets but 102 in respect of financial institutions, which reiterates that India needs to do a lot to strengthen domestic financial institutions. The first step should begin with a detailed blueprint and a master plan for the creation of a strong national development bank that will be in the forefront of funding India’s strategic and long-term development.

3. Social media messaging, a load of junk

Forwards in social media messaging have an extraordinary power to distort and manufacture news. They have become a ubiquitous feature of mail and social media communications — and it’s all happened so rapidly.
Irving Wallace was blinded during his time to this transformation when he created Edward Armstead in The Almighty (1982), who spent his time and effort manufacturing news to be a New York media baron.
Today, thousands of such Edward Armsteads could be masked behind the social media forwards, creating information aligned to their intentions with no accountability for such forwards. A widely used and popular social media platform processes more than 42 billion messages a day with over 1.2 billion in picture forwards. It is akin to saying six messages for every person on earth being sent everyday, with only 3 per cent of the world population being daily active on that single platform. The statistics are overwhelming and mind-boggling to say the least. We are seeing a nuclear explosion in social media messaging.
This boom in connectivity is not necessarily a great thing, as it is potentially marred by the veracity of information being forwarded. The good old print media boasted a circulation of few hundred thousand to a few million every day, depending on countries and their population. The US, China and India boast larger circulation trends. The heyday of the newspaper industry was the 1940s, but the percentage of population reading newspapers began to decline with increased competition from radio, television and, more recently, the internet.
Defined role
However, in all these forms of media, the role of agencies governing what is printed, published, broadcast is fairly well defined in a bid to ensure credibility and accountability of the information published. (The extent of state control on media is another issue.) There is an editor, publisher and owner of that institution (be it state or private) who finally owns what is printed or broadcast.
Social media messaging forwards are, however, an open-ended platform. Everyone is a writer, editor, critic and even a historian sharing facts (references be damned), spiritual advisor, health advisor and retirement planner! “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” said the punchline to a cartoon in The New Yorker in 1993. The visionary cartoon is more relevant to the present times when groups in social media messaging are flooded with blank forwards.
Photoshops, political sarcasm, security tips, health advisory notices, quotable quotes, references from holy books, puzzles and sometimes even Harvard interview questions flood messaging platforms. Who is the author or editor for them is a million dollar question. Who cares for the veracity of such forwards when people forward blindly to other messaging groups. Many a time, the same message is repeated in multiple groups, giving guilt pangs to those not playing the forwarding game! There are accusations of paid set-ups being around to generate such data. What is surprising is the wide spectrum of topics covered in such forwards.
Individual responsibility
Unfortunately, many believe that social media messaging depicts the truth. William James, the father of modern psychology said, “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.” Repeat a forward to multiple groups and it becomes the solution one is looking for. If messages come from a trusted relative or friend, they are believed and forwarded without a thought.
Most people will not ask who wrote it, or what the basis for an opinion is. A few will decide it is nonsensical and not forward it. But they will not challenge whoever sends it, because they may not want to offend friends and humiliate them in a group.
It is our responsibility not to become blind forwarders. The ease of communication in social media is its greatest undoing. Compare this with the print media that publishes news. It has a writer, an editor and even provides mail ids along with an article, blog or post. Social messaging platform forwards with no named writer, reference or publication are best treated as junk. Before you forward another post, think about whether you’re helping the situation or making it worse.

4. Strident Pakistan presses for UN envoy on Kashmir

Pakistan on Thursday blamed India and Afghanistan for the volatile security situation in the region, while denying charges that it is harboring terrorists who target both the countries. Striking a strident note against neighbors and portraying Pakistan as a victim of terrorism, its Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also sought the appointment of a special United Nationsenvoy on Kashmir and accused India of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. 
Mr. Abbasi’s claims and allegations were refuted by both India and Afghanistan at the U.N General Assembly (UNGA). In a strongly worded reaction to Mr. Abbasi, India said Pakistan has become a "terroristan," and Jammu and Kashmir will remain an integral part of India. Eenam Gambhir, First Secretary in the Permanent Mission of India said: "In its short history, Pakistan has become a geography synonymous with terror. The quest for a land of pure has actually produced “the land of pure terror“. Pakistan is now ‘Terroristan’, with a flourishing industry producing and exporting global terrorism," she said. A representative of Pakistan responded to India’s reply, naming National Security Adviser Ajit Doval for allegedly pursuing a strategy of aggression against Pakistan.

Abbasi warns against another strike

The Pakistan PM told the UNGA that another strike by India on territory under its control would invite a matching retaliation by Pakistan. “…if India does venture across the LoC, or acts upon its doctrine of "limited" war against Pakistan, it will evoke a strong and matching response,” he said, adding that his country has "faced unremitting hostility" from India.  He said India was trying to "divert the world’s attention from its brutalities," by ceasefire violations the LoC. “The Kashmir dispute should be resolved justly, peacefully and expeditiously.
Terming the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir the “most intense foreign military occupation in recent history,” Mr. Abbasi sought an international investigation into "India's crimes in Kashmir.” The Pakistan PM said India has responded to Kashmiris' demand for self-determination “with massive and indiscriminate force …shooting indiscriminately at children, women and youth,” adding that these "constitute war crimes."
Ms. Gambhir said Pakistan has been trying to dupe the rest of the world on the question of fighting terrorism. Islamabad has diverted international military and development aid towards creating "a dangerous infrastructure of terror on its own territory," she has said.

"Pak's globalisation of terror unparalleled"

"Pakistan is now speaking of the high cost of its terror industry. The polluter, in this case, is paying the price," she said, adding that Pakistan’s “globalisation of terror is unparalleled.” “Pakistan can only be counseled to abandon a destructive worldview that has caused grief to the entire world. If it could be persuaded to demonstrate any commitment to civilization, order, and to peace, it may still find some acceptance in the comity of nations," the Indian diplomat said. 
Mr. Abbasi had said in his speech that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism credentials cannot be questioned. "After 9/11, it was Pakistani efforts that enabled the decimation of Al-Qaeda,” he said. Mr. Abbasi said 27,000 Pakistanis have died in its fight against terrorism. "We took the war to the terrorists. We have paid a heavy price," Mr. Abbasi said.

Kabul gives it back to Abbasi

Mr, Abbasi blamed Afghanistan for the security situation in the country, denying any role for Pakistan in supporting the Taliban. On the contrary, terrorists based in Afghanistan were launching attacks on Pakistan, he claimed.
Urging Pakistan to adopt a "constructive approach" in tackling terrorism in the region, Afghanistan said facts disprove Pakistan’s claim that it was not sheltering terrorists.
"Where was the mastermind of the international terrorist leader of al Qaeda Osama bin Laden killed. The answer is, near the capital of Pakistan Islamabad. Where the notorious leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar died. Answer is, in a hospital in Karachi, Pakistan," the representative of Afghanistan said in response to Mr. Abbasi’s speech. "Where was my Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, the successor of Mullah Omar, found and killed by international forces? Answer is Balochistan of Pakistan. And guess, which country's passport he was using for travel to different locations? Again Pakistan. Where is the leadership of Quetta Shura in Peshawar Shura located at the very movement? The answer is the name of the locations mentioned speaks for themselves,” he said. 

5. Tax trauma — On GST Network

The Hindu
For a reform that was cracked up to be India’s biggest tax overhaul since Independence, the roll-out of the goods and services tax is off to a less-than-desirable start. Over 80 days after its introduction, the GST Network, its online backbone, is struggling to keep pace with the millions of invoices and returns being filed electronically by businesses across the country. The government has extended the deadline for filing GST returns for July, the first month of the GST era, twice. And Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has reiterated an appeal to taxpayers to not wait till the last day, to avoid burdening the GSTN. But even those filing returns well before the last date have struggled. It is clear that the network had not been fully tested for chinks before July. A ministerial group formed by the GST Council to resolve the GSTN’s glitches gave an assurance last Saturday that 80% of the problems would be fixed by the end of October. For a country that takes pride in its IT edge, this is a strange impasse. Critically, for an economy that is slowing down for multiple reasons, even more troublesome is the implication of these implementation stumbles for 85 lakh taxpayers now registered for GST.
Exporters, for instance, have already alerted the Centre that the delayed timelines for filing GST returns (the last of which must be sent in by November 10) will mean that no refunds can be expected before mid-November on input taxes paid in advance and the integrated GST levied on goods they imported. By their reckoning, as much as ₹65,000 crore of working capital will get blocked, cramping their ability to ramp up capacity and raw material procurement in time for festive season orders from around the world. Terming these as ‘wild’ estimates, the government has asserted that many exporters’ funds were blocked for five-six months even before the GST, even as it said a solution to speed up refunds is being worked out. Those producing only for the domestic market are no better off. Therefore, expectations of a rebound in manufacturing activity may be misplaced. Moreover, in contrast to the ₹95,000-crore GST collections recorded so far for July, about ₹65,000 crore has been claimed as transitional credit (that is, taxes paid on stock purchased before the GST). On Friday, the government clarified this is not ‘incredibly high’ as firms had outstanding credits of ₹1.27 lakh crore for central excise and service tax levies on June 30. Though the deadline to file the relevant return has been extended to October 31, initially only those who filed by September 28 were to be allowed to revise their credit claims. While revisions will be enabled from mid-October, the tax department is already examining some of these credit claims, triggering unease among firms. Several revisions in deadlines, tax and cess rates, rules, clarifications and tweaks later, the GST regime is turning out to be neither simple nor friendly for taxpayers.

6. Hopes and fears

It is only with a great degree of caution and circumspection that the interim report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly of Sri Lanka can be welcomed. The panel, chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, has done creditably by producing a forward-looking proposal within 18 months of its first sitting. However, there have been several such reports in the past that envisioned far-reaching reforms in the country’s structure. None of them found broad acceptance within Sri Lanka’s polity. It is thus difficult to see the interim report as the beginning of an irreversible process of constitutional reform. There is room for both hope and fear. There is scope for optimism that Sri Lanka’s fractious polity could get its act together and adopt a durable constitution that would protect its unity and stability, distribute powers equitably across ethnic and geographical divisions, and ensure economic prosperity for all. There is equal scope for the fear that the whole process could be derailed by extremists. Yet, there is a sustained effort to build a consensus among all sections of society. The report, which incorporates a framework for key elements of a new constitution, envisages an undivided and indivisible country, with the province as the unit for devolution of power. It suggests that the controversial terms ‘unitary’ and ‘federal’ be avoided, and instead Sinhala and Tamil terms that suggest an undivided country be used to describe the republic. Predictably, there is opposition from some parties, which argue that nothing should be done to dilute the state’s unitary character.
On the lines of proposals made since the 1990s, the interim report aims to abolish the executive presidency. It introduces the concept of ‘subsidiarity’, under which whatever function can be performed by the lowest tier of government should be vested in it. Other reforms envisaged are a change from the electoral system solely based on proportional representation to a mixed method under which 60% of parliamentary members will be elected under the first-past-the-post system, and the creation of a second parliamentary chamber representing the provinces. Nationalists worried about the ramifications of devolving power to the periphery are likely to oppose some of the federal features, and may even seek the retention of the all-powerful executive presidency. The report marks a milestone, but it is still at a preliminary stage in a long-drawn process of enacting a new constitution. The government has promised that the pre-eminent status given to Buddhism will remain, an assurance that may help overcome opposition from the majority. The willingness of the Tamil National Alliance to accept a founding document arrived at on the basis of a bipartisan consensus is also a good sign. It is time Sri Lanka set itself free from the shackles of divisive notions of nationalism and charted a new path of equality and reconciliation for itself.

7. From ocean to ozone, the limits of our planet

The population of vertebrate species on Earth in the wild saw a dramatic fall of about 30% between 1970 and 2006, with the worst effects being in the tropics and in freshwater ecosystems. Destruction of species’ habitats by pollutants and land-use change are obliterating flora and fauna at unprecedented rates. In fact, the ecological footprint of humanity — the natural habitats, such as water and land, transformed or destroyed as a result of human activity — far exceeds the biological capacity of the earth.
In an attempt to understand the natural world, its relationships with human societies and limits, in 2009, Johan Rockström and others from the Stockholm Environment Institute described elements of the biophysical world that link us together. Often regarded as a “safe operating space for humanity”, these planetary boundaries include loss of biodiversity, land-use change, changes to nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, ocean acidification, atmospheric aerosols loading, ozone depletion, chemical production, freshwater use and, of course, climate change.
In the course of 12,000 or so years after the last ice age, the Holocene epoch has offered a stable climate, a period of grace for humanity to grow and to flourish, with settlements, agriculture and, more recently, economic and population expansion. This epoch has since given way to the Anthropocene, the exact beginnings of which are debated, but which has led to over-reliance on fossil fuels, industrial agriculture, pollution in water, soils and air, loss of species and so on, which are devastating for many life forms and connected ecosystems throughout the planet.

Biophysical considerations

Many of these conditions respond in a non-linear manner to changes. This means, for instance, that ecosystems that are stressed by their exposure to pollutants may not recover once the pollutants are removed. Or, some systems may collapse precipitously under conditions referred to as thresholds. We understand many of these thresholds and how they interact with each other, but not all.
When ecological thresholds or tipping points are crossed, significant large-scale changes may occur, such as breakdown of glaciers in Greenland and the Antarctica, the dieback of rainforests in the Amazon, or failure of the Indian monsoons. Since these boundaries interact with one another and cause changes across scales, crossing a threshold in one domain can speed up or undermine processes in another subsystem. For instance, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increase ocean acidification, land-use change often increases GHG emissions, and increasing nitrogen and phosphorus deplete species biodiversity and freshwater resources and increase warming from climate change.

Boundaries and limits

According to Mr. Rockström and others, we are already at critical levels of concern for climate change, fresh water, species biodiversity and changes to nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, which are reaching tipping points. For example, GHG emissions have led to average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations being about 410 ppm. This is well above the 350 ppm level considered a ‘safe’ limit, and the earth is already about a degree Celsius warmer than average pre-industrial temperatures.
Since publication of these studies by Mr. Rockstrom and others, there has been plenty of discussion, even strong disagreement, regarding the boundaries. Some scientists, such as Kate Raworth, have expanded them to reflect and include several social dimensions such as equity and gender justice that were subsequently placed in the centre of a schematic representation of the boundaries as a circle with a hole or as a doughnut.
One may regard planetary boundaries as support systems for life on Earth or view them as expressing “carrying capacity” and defining “limits to growth”. The latter is a thesis that was originally published nearly half a century ago by the Club of Rome as a book in 1972. It described the situation we would find ourselves in with exponential population and economic growth. While the “limits to growth” argument was challenged for good analytical reasons, it still provided a lens through which to view the changing world of the 21st century. It also offered the idea of thinking about a system as a whole — systems thinking — not just as separate parts and feedback mechanisms as valuable processes in considering long-term change.

On sustainability

The idea of sustainability has been embedded in the human imagination for a very long time and is expressed through our ideas of nature, society, economy, environment and future generations. But it became formally a part of international agreements and discourse when it was recognised at the Earth Summit of 1992 in Rio de Janeiro.
This systems view and the recognition of interlinkages among the social, environmental, and economic pillars of sustainability, and between biophysical planetary boundaries and social conditions, are essential to have a chance of keeping the world safe for future generations. It is telling that scholars who work on planetary boundaries regard climate change as one of the easiest to manage and contain.
In thinking about these planetary limits then, researchers and policymakers should reflect on multiple systems and the linkages among them, and whether step-by-step or transformative changes must be considered to keep the planet safe for the future.

8. Bangladesh seeks help from India, China

India, China and Southeast Asian countries should help implement Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s five-point Rohingya solution proposals, said a Bangladesh High Commission source on Friday.
“We are satisfied with the Indian position and hope that China and ASEAN countries will also take more active roles in implementing the proposals of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” said an official from the Bangladesh High Commission.
The official, however, said that the ASEAN countries are yet to take a united step to force Myanmar to take effective measures. He also said that China needs to be more vocal in stopping the tragedy inflicted on the Rohingya.
Bangladesh has been handling the crisis of influx of refugees from Myanmar single-handedly, said the official, urging more international support. The role of ASEAN and the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) will be critical in ensuring support for the Rohingya, said the official.
Bangladesh has been receiving attention from international relief agencies, though political support to force Myanmar to stop the campaign against the Rohingya has not arrived so far so far. Prime Minister Hasina did not receive the assurance of support from U.S. President Donald Trump during her ongoing trip to the U.S. for the UN meet.

9. Hasina floats five-point peace plan

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has floated a five-point proposal at the United Nations to find a permanent solution to the Rohingya crisis.
Emphasising swift action to resolve the crisis in her speech at the 72nd UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Thursday, she called for immediate steps to end the 'cleansing' of the ethnic Rohingya minority. She was at the centrestage at the UNGA this year, with the Rohingya crisis deepening along Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, a crossing made by over 430,000 refugees fleeing violence in Rakhine State in past over three weeks.
Hasina’s five-point proposal says: Myanmar must stop the violence and the practice of ethnic cleansing in the Rakhine State unconditionally, immediately and forever; the UN Secretary General should immediately send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar; all civilians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity, must be protected in Myanmar; for this, 'safe zones' could be created inside Myanmar under UN supervision; sustainable return of all forcibly displaced Rohingyas in Bangladesh to their homes in Myanmar must be ensured; and the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission Report must be implemented immediately, unconditionally and entirely.
She said it was the 14th time she was addressing the UN General Assembly, but this time she came with a heavy heart just after seeing the “hungry, distressed and hopeless Rohingya”.
“Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya from the Rakhine State are entering Bangladesh to flee violence. As estimated by IOM (International Organisation for Migration), in last three weeks, over 430,000 Rohingya entered Bangladesh. They are fleeing 'ethnic cleansing' in their own country where they have been living for centuries,” Hasina said, adding that Bangladesh is currently sheltering over 800,000 Rohinya in all.
She proposed that the UN Secretary-General send a fact-finding mission to Myanmar where 'safe zones' can be built under the UN’s supervision for the protection of all civilians, irrespective of religion and ethnicity.

‘Take them back’

Before her speech at the UNGA general debate, she cleared Bangladesh’s stance over the protracted Rohingya crisis at several meetings at the UN Headquarters in New York. At the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) Contact Group meeting on Tuesday, she demanded Myanmar take back the refugees and end ‘state propaganda’ that labelled the ethnic group as ‘Bengalis’.

Hasina thanked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council for their attempts to stop atrocities, and bring peace and stability in Rakhine. She added, “We are horrified to see that the Myanmar authorities are laying land mines along their stretch of the border to prevent the Ronhingya from returning to Myanmar.”

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