Global Food Crisis 2022

For the past 2-3 months, the world is seeing a global food crisis like never before. Sri Lanka is by far the worst country to be affected by the global food crisis. Afghanistan and Myanmar are also driven by their extremist leaders towards self-isolation, leading the majority of the population towards below poverty-line. Ukraine is devastated by war with Russia, and hence both countries are seeing lowering of crop production, rise in hunger, and sharp decline in economy.

But many developed countries in the world are seeing food shortages like never before. Sanctions by the European and American countries against Russia, has hit them hard, as they are currently without primary Russian exports of wheat, cotton, edible oil, and mineral oil. Previously, all of the European countries were partially or entirely dependent on Russian supplies to feed the population. Now, with the sanctions, countries like the UK, France, Germany, US and even neutral Switzerland are facing some food crisis.

Not only food, but also production of fertilizers, pesticides, processing machines, and logistics, have dwindled since the Covid-19 pandemic, and has not fully recovered yet in most countries. As the excess stock has been exhausted, we are seeing food shortages across the globe. India, being so huge in size, is not much affected by the global food crisis, as loss in one region is compensated by excess in another region. However, keeping in mind the future food shortages, which may hit the country, India has banned the export of wheat to most countries. Other countries have followed suit, notable among them is Indonesia, banning export of palm oil and China, banning export of fertilizers. India is also looking forward to severely restricting the export of sugar, so that domestic prices are kept within the limits of the common people.

Experts say that this global food crisis was expected at the turn of the decade, when the Covid-19 pandemic started. However, the shortage is not equal throughout the world, and some countries are facing worse economic conditions than others. Some countries are getting help from neighbours and other countries like Ukraine and Sri Lanka, while others like Myanmar and Afghanistan have opted to ruin their own people. Only if the whole of humanity works together and fights the crisis we are facing today, we will get out of this global food crisis without much damage to our economy and our brothers and sisters.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Fall of Kabul, 2021

While the US prepared their exit by 9th September 2021, the Taliban rose to become the dominant political and military power in Afghanistan. After capturing Herat in the extreme west, the Taliban proceeded rapidly towards the east, where the bigger cities like Kabul and Kandahar are located.

This is not the first time the Taliban has risen to power following an unstable Government in power in Kabul. In 1995, a civil war started in Afghanistan, following which the Taliban rose to power. After a failed attempt, the Taliban established their base at Herat on the western part of the country, and again launched an offensive to Kabul. Kabul fell in 1996 and Afghanistan passed into the hands of the Taliban. The siege was only for 5 years, but it resulted in Afghanistan’s economy rolling back at least 25 years.

Mass destruction, killing and raping of women, and blowing up of archaeological monuments are features of the Taliban regime. US troops gradually repealed the Taliban from 2001 onwards and took up Kabul. However, they could not completely wipe out Taliban leadership and ideology and it soon gained momentum in remote parts of the country. Though the Taliban were a nightmare for the women, Taliban support still built up on a large scale across the remote regions. The US alleged that Pakistan sponsored the Taliban providing them shelter in Quetta.

Several countries like India, Afghanistan Government, the US, Russia alleged that Pakistan is a safe haven for terrorist organizations. The allegations were proved right when Osama-bin-Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 US bombardment attacks was found and killed in Pakistan. For a brief period, the progress of Al-Qaeda and Taliban were overshadowed by the rapid progress of ISIS in Syria, Iraq, and their suicidal attacks in other parts of the world. Heavy bombardment by the US, Russia and other world superpowers ensured that ISIS didn’t last long. While the world helped Syria and Iraq wipe out ISIS, the US was making peace talks with the Taliban to ensure peace in Afghanistan. After the fall of ISIS, the Taliban still held their ground with military and finance aid from neighbouring countries that allegedly include Pakistan.

Things took a decisive turn as US President Joe Biden ordered the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by 11th September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The US made a peace deal with the Taliban, where mutual peace and unity between Afghanistan Government controlled areas and Taliban controlled areas were signed. However, as soon as the withdrawal of US troops started, the Taliban started capturing one city after another in bitter street fighting. Within 3-4 weeks, the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the southern city of Kandahar, the western city of Herat was captured by Taliban forces.

The Afghan military provided almost zero resistance to the Taliban attacks, most of them switched sides taking the opportunity of lack of nationalism and leadership from the Government. Despite Joe Biden assuring that Afghanistan is self-sufficient in military power to combat any Taliban uprising, the reality shows a completely different picture. Covering almost the entire Afghanistan, the Taliban now attacked Kabul from all sides. The Afghanistan President, Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul on the night of siege and took refuge in either Tajikistan or Uzbekistan. Street fighting started in Kabul but there was hardly anyone loyal to the Afghanistan Government and most has switched sides. Kabul passed into the hands of the Taliban, who now proclaimed their country as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The fall of Kabul in August 2021, marked the beginning of a new era of Taliban rule over Afghanistan. Parts of the city, around the airport, where most of the foreign residents living in the country are escaping were spared from damage. As soon as all foreign countries finish their evacuation of citizens, entire Afghanistan will pass into the hands of the Taliban. Many Afghans want to leave the country to find shelter in other developed countries but are unprepared given how quickly the Taliban captured one city after another. While Taliban rule is a nightmare for women and minorities, they have no option other than hope that the new rule of Taliban will not be doing mass raping or ethnic cleansing and treat everyone with respect and give importance to education and growth of the economy of the war-torn country.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Taliban Rising in Afghanistan after US Withdrawal

The word ‘Taliban’ means students in the Pashto language. The ideology of the Taliban has its roots in northern Pakistan in the 1990s when the Soviet Union troops were withdrawing from Afghanistan. Taliban is a militant organization, formed based on Islamic extremism. The Taliban proclaimed the territory they occupied as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. At one point of time in 1998, the Taliban controlled more than 90% of Afghanistan land. Since then, they were pushed back to the verge of extinction by the US forces who sided with the current Afghanistan government in Kabul.

Peace talks resumed between the US and Taliban in 2018, when both parties signed a peace deal, allowing the safe withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. In 2020, another peace deal was struck between the two parties, as President Donald Trump initiated the withdrawal of US forces from the territory of Afghanistan. After his landslide victory at the 2020 elections, US President Joe Biden has proclaimed that the withdrawal of US forces is going to be completed on 11 September 2021, marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the US. This proclamation had some effect on the current rise of the Taliban.

Taliban captured mostly the rural and inhospitable lands of Afghanistan. Major cities like Kabul and Kandahar are still in the hands of the Afghanistan Government. However, in the past 3 months, the Taliban has made great advances to big cities and has almost reached the outer fringes of both Kandahar and Kabul. Taliban leadership, however, has stopped progressing since then and focussed more on gaining strongholds in regions they have captured.

India chose not to support the Afghanistan Government, neither it is supporting the Taliban. The Afghan Vice-President openly declared that the Pakistani Air Force is giving full aid to the Taliban in their attacks, a claim that Pakistan denies. India air-lifted 50 officials and security personnel from Kandahar city as the fighting grew among the Taliban and Afghan forces at the outskirts of the city. Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs in India has clarified that the Kandahar consulate has not shut down and will be operated by the locals. Two foreign missions in the northern town of Mazar-e-Sharif have also closed their operations due to violence in the area.

The rise of the Taliban is certainly a threat to the restoration of local culture and tradition. The 2001 destruction of Bamiyan Buddha in Taliban controlled provinces of Afghanistan, strict punishments, and mass killings have only made the Taliban worse in the early 2000s. However, many say that Afghan forces are not strong enough to combat the powerful Taliban, and may collapse if US forces withdraw anytime soon. In this view, the US needs to stay longer, and India should also try to foster dialogue between all parties concerned to bring peace and harmony in the region.

Written by – Himadri Paul