China emerged as the epicenter of the novel COVID-19 in December 2019, and the past fortnight seems to have shifted the contagion from China to Europe.

In just 15 days, the epicenter of the coronavirus shifted from China to Europe, or Italy to be precise, as the nation reported more than 47,000 cases, which is the second-highest number of cases reported by a single country since the outbreak began. Almost two weeks back, China was struggling to contain the virus while being the epicenter of COVID-19, and it quickly shifted to Europe which has now become the epicenter of the virus.

China reported a drastic decline in its new cases as the outbreak peak is now over as claimed by the country. China reported that the number of positive cases for the past week has been over 80,000 and less than 85,000. European countries like Italy and Spain have reported a dramatic increase in their new cases. Mansi, a student of Lady Shri College, opined, “China had resorted to adopting strict lockdowns and other necessary measures to stop the virus from spreading further, and the country has done a fair job considering the fact that nobody was ready for this strange pandemic.”

China had reported 90 percent of the total cases of the outbreak as of March 1. By March 15, the rest of the nations accounted for nearly 50 percent of the confirmed COVID-19 cases. Chinese hospitals were overflowing with patients earlier due to the spread of the virus. However, with a sharp decline in the cases, hospitals designated solely for COVID-19 patients are now lying vacant. World Health Organization claimed earlier today that no new cases were reported in Wuhan in 24 hours which was presumed to be the origin of the novel COVID-19. Spain has ordered its 47 million citizens to remain indoors except necessary venturing such as buying groceries or medications.

Feature image credits-The Week

Suhani Malhotra

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Youth Forum on Foreign Policy (YFFP), an independent initiative to encourage dialogue on foreign policy amongst the youth, organized a joint conference with European Union’s EU in India, held on   23rd February. The panel for the conference consisted of Ms. Anne Marchal, First counsellor of the Delegation of the European Union to India, BW Businessworld’s CEO, Mr. Anurag Batra and Member of Parliament and co- founder of YFFP, Mr. Gaurav Gogoi.

The conference then commenced with a presentation by Ms. Anne Marchal, highlighting the salient features and functions of the European Union. EU was formed after the Second World War and since then it has been the biggest transnational democracy in the world with 24 official languages and flourishing trade relations all over the world. Similar to the foundations of India, EU has a well endowed parliamentary system of legislations with 751 seats, along with various political parties contesting in elections. The EU’s Council of Ministers consists of a member from each EU state and at present they are all under Dutch Presidency, to be rotated every 6months.

India and EU have had strategic relations for over 50 years, the most important highlights being the EU- India security cooperation agreement, Joint Action Plan and annual EU and India security dialogue with emphasis on cyber security and nuclear non proliferation.

The discussion then continued with Mr. Anurag Batra taking the lead, voicing his concern about the areas needing improvement in the EU – India agreement. For example, the free trade agreement, including goods and services to be made easier from both sides as many Indian products fail to match up to the European regulatory standards because of different packaging or processing techniques, among other things. The flow of conversation also steered towards EU being the largest donor of development aid in the world and is still yet to aid India in its Human Development projects. A few other points were raised by Mr. Batra, regarding the ban on import of generic drugs from India to EU states and high taxes and import duties which hinders trade between the two countries. At present, India’s 18% exports are to EU and the number could steadily improve if both the sides agree upon common standards of processing products and aim at minimising difficulties in the trading process. He ended by adding that EU has been India’s “real and steady partner” for many years and he hopes to see the relations flourish even further.

Picking up the discussion from then on, Mr. Gaurav Gogoi, started off with a show of gratitude to Ms. Anne for hosting YFFP and the audience and enabling the youth a glimpse into the EU – India relations. He then went to enunciate the similarities India and EU have had from their inception itself, and how both countries stem from the same belief of “unity in diversity”. Mr. Gogoi went on to say that when India was torn up by its own diversity post independence, EU emerged as a source of inspiration in that turmoil. He personally finds the framework of EU ‘fascinating’ as he has visited the EU Parliament in the past, and he also feels envious of their canteen, he wittily added.      

The discussion then came to an end, after inviting a few questions from the audience, who raised pertinent issues such as limited employment prospects of Indian students in EU states, development aid for north east India and EU’s contributions and the growing threat of terrorism and the refugee crisis which many EU states are facing, among others. The event ended with a vote of thanks for the panellists and the audience followed by evening tea.

DU Beat is the official media partner of YFFP.

Featured Image Credits: Youth Forum on Foreign Policy

Tarushi Varma

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Singularly depressing choices generally between letting your girlfriend die or seeing the world engulfed in flames may not send a cult superhero into a cold sweat but they can easily be considered avoidable. The superhero for his part has the consolation that by the time the credits start rolling in, the girlfriend would be in his arms and the world free of doomsday plotting villains (at least for the time being). Unfortunately, India caught up in a similarly precarious situation has no such assured ending to fall back on.

With an ever increasing energy demand, managing oil imports has become the first priority for India. Around 13% of these imports come from Iran. Under such circumstances, one can forgive India for wishing that Iran had not courted the wrath of India’s long time ally, Israel and the almighty West. But that is exactly what Iran has done by refusing to cut back on its ambition of becoming a nuclear capable state.

Recent events have only made matters worse. Iran has publicly expressed delight on the progress of its nuclear programs. If that wasn’t enough, a terror attack on an Israeli diplomat’s wife in India has conveniently been linked to Iran by the ever so enterprising Israel. All this has left India ropewalking an increasingly thinning rope with no safety net what so ever.

Up until now India has successfully managed to continue importing Iranian oil despite the increasing number of sanctions against the same. According to the latest Indo-Iranian deal, Iran is willing to accept 45% of the payment for oil in rupees. This will further strengthen trade ties between the two countries. Iran will probably use the acquired rupees on Indian goods.

USA and Europe have already placed an embargo on Iranian oil and NATO is continually encouraging other allies to follow suit. This, along with India’s professed commitment to the Non Proliferation Treaty, has politically obligated India to support NATO in its endeavours. Economically and practically, India cannot do without Iranian oil.

India has been at its non committal best on the issue and this for once seems to be the right policy to follow. It will be fool hardy now to cut off trade relations with Iran and equally suicidal to extend support to its operations. It therefore seems best to play the waiting game and while we are at it, we better send out the oil scouts. And ask them to hurry up.