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Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Why Are Poors Bearing The Brunt Of The War?

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A demonstrator cries listening to a national anthem as other rallies with Ukrainian national flags in the centre of Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city

A demonstrator cries listening to a national anthem as other rallies with Ukrainian national flags in the centre of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

The world is already feeling the pain of anti-Russia sanctions, export restrictions, soared energy prices, raw material shortage, supply chain disruptions and refugees exodus. 

This shows that not only the fighting countries would lose but the whole world is going to face the consequences of the Russian-Ukrainian war. 

Economic fallouts are major but other repercussions can not be ignored either.

Also Read: Ukraine War: Understanding the Roots and Cause of the Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Further, the world is sceptical of world trade development in the future when two-way sanctions can be witnessed over trade, people, technology and normal maintenance of relationships between Russia and Ukraine’s supporters including Europe.

Food And Energy Crunch

Ukraine is known as the breadbasket of Europe as 10% of world supplies of wheat comes from Ukraine. Middle Eastern and North African countries like Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Tunisia are heavily dependent on Ukrainian wheat. Shortage of wheat can cause a feminine like situation in these countries that can lead to a humanitarian crisis. David Beasley, head of the World Food Programme warns that skyrocketing food prices are causing more people at risk of starvation worldwide, especially women and children.

Rising prices of energy and commodities like wheat add to already poor financial conditions prevailing in countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Russia and Ukraine together contribute 29 per cent of global wheat exports. As a result of war sanctions and supply chain disruptions, global wheat prices have increased by 57 per cent. Further increased oil prices will enhance the fertilizer and transportation costs.

The war is detrimental for the already food-insecure countries. Countries are facing supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts and climate change. Recent war fallouts will only make reversals to the years of developmental efforts.

Also Read: Russia Sanctions: How is the Most Sanctioned Nation in World Coping with the Measures?

The World Bank is also concerned about the almost all-time high food prices and consequent food security challenges to the poor and underdeveloped countries. It is most likely that the global economy would face a temporary, if not long-lasting, slowdown in growth.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that the consequences of war and sanctions on Russia are going to severely impact the global economy and financial markets.

Surging food and energy prices are witnessing these claims of the IMF and the World Bank.

Also Read: Syria: A Growing Humanitarian Crisis Amid the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

The IMF said that poor households are majorly facing these price shocks as food and energy are the major expenses that they have to bear.

Consequently, more escalation in war sanctions could have devastating impacts on poor households.

Gasoline prices have skyrocketed across the globe as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi said that the EU would need additional spending of about 0.6 per cent of Europe’s budget for spending on defence, climate and energy goals as a consequence of the Ukraine-Russia war.

He further quoted that energy prices have soared high and Europe already has spent an extra €16bn as a consequence. 

Health In Crisis

A women doctor examining a women patient.
Source: WHO

Even primary health, medicine and emergency services are being disrupted on both sides of the contact line. Shortage of medical staff, lack of basic medical equipment and supplies such as insulin and kidney failure treatments are worsening the humanitarian conditions. The situation is specifically alarming in war-torn areas of eastern Ukraine and non-government-controlled areas, reported WHO.

WHO is urging the international community to escalate the aid and support for health services in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine Refugees Crisis: A Fast Rising Exodus

Refugees fleeing war in neighbouring Ukraine queue at the Medyka border crossing, Poland

Refugees fleeing war in neighbouring Ukraine queue at the Medyka border crossing, Poland, Thursday, March 10, 2022.

People are suffering pain, tragic loss of life and property. More than 2.5 million people have already moved to neighbouring countries in Europe. 

Dame Barbara Woodward, the British Ambassador to the UN, said the war has caused a “humanitarian catastrophe“.

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) claimed that it is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe after the second world war and can reach up to 4 million in the coming few days.

Refugees are fleeing to border countries like Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Moldova, Romania and others with emotions and stress.

A map showing statistics of Ukrainian refugees by target country.

Source: Statista

A Dash Of Relief Among Chaos

Volunteers give food, drinks, blankets, and diapers to babies, at the border crossing in Poland.

Source: [Visar Kryeziu/AP Photo] Volunteers give food, drinks, blankets, and diapers to babies, at the border crossing in Poland.

One thing that gives relief is a strong, immediate and open-armed welcome being given to Ukrainian refugees throughout the EU unlike the Syrian refugees just a few years back. It shows the capacity and resilience of the EU to accommodate a huge refugee base within a short period of time as was claimed impossible back in 2015 during the Syrian crisis.

Also Read: Ukraine War Revealing the Double Standards for Refugees

Most of the refugees are women and children who are fleeing and queueing in freezing temperatures from several hours to several days. The Government of Ukraine has banned men between ages 18 to 60 from fleeing the country after the enforcement of martial law.

The tone and attitude of politicians and civilians seem positive and accommodative towards Ukrainian refugees.

Volunteers give food, drinks, blankets, and diapers to babies, at the border crossing in Poland.

The EU unanimously activated the Temporary Protection Directive to provide Ukrainians with the right to work, housing and healthcare from one to three years.

The way Europe is helping in this refugee crisis can be set as a model to follow in other crises as well.

How Much Is Needed To Share Responsibilities

The International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies- the world’s largest disaster relief networks appealed for $273 million for the provision of food, water, shelter and healthcare to millions of Ukrainian suffering humanitarian deterioration at home as well as at the places of migration.

International support and aid is a prerequisite to delivering critical life maintenance facilities to those most in need.

Also Read: Palestine-Vs. Ukraine: Stark Western hypocrisy  on Palestine and  Ukraine

International organizations can identify and rescue the most vulnerable countries to provide their support and aid.

In case of general economic and financial impacts, the central banks around the world need to manage the inflationary trends and their impacts on domestic inflation. 

Governments can identify such poor households and provide them support to offset rising living costs.

Countries need policies and strategic interventions to mitigate the price impacts and ensure a continuous supply of grains. They have to plan in advance for their food supplies.

Obviously, countries have to find the means to fund these extra resources besides their national budgets.

It is time for the world to come ahead and share the burden of war-ridden people in crisis.

Economy

Muslim Women’s Empowerment and Inheritance Rights 

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Muslim Women's Inheritance Rights

Despite Islam giving Muslim women the right to inheritance, it is rare to see Muslims follow this Islamic law.  The recently released National Family Health Survey 2019-20 (NFHS-5) fact sheet for Jammu and Kashmir states that only 57.3% of women in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir own a house and/or land, alone or jointly (PDF of the survey). J and K is a Muslim-majority region. According to 2011 census, 68.3% of the region’s population is Muslim. 

Even though we can read these figures as “at least more than half women own property”, however, given that all women are coparceners in one or the other way, it raises vexing questions.

Islam entitles a sister to inherit half of what a brother gets as a coparcener. Despite this fact, the number of women owning property is almost half of that of men.

The data on women’s inheritance in Pakistan and other Muslim-majority South Asian countries is much worse. There are very few women who own property in South Asian countries.

Inheritance Rights, a Taboo?

Women asking for their coparcenary rights is considered taboo here. Further, women also seem to have internalized that asking for inheritance rights will break their relationship with other members of the family, especially brothers. As a result, they sign relinquishment deeds without giving a second thought about it.

Also Read: Death of Mahsa Amini: How Governments are Denying Women’s Right to Choice?

Women’s Empowerment through Inheritance

People mostly see the inheritance of property as a matter of money and wealth. However, it goes beyond that, at least for women. Economically speaking, ownership of any kind of property by women is a very important determinant in the quest for women’s empowerment.

In a realist world where everyone is responsible for their own survival, women should not expect their male relatives to care for them. Unless women do not attach economical value to their lives, they will have no power. This is especially true for unemployed women who do not have financial independence. Since inheritance of property is a given- however small value it may have, they do not have to get an education or work to get it. The only thing they need to do is not to sign the relinquishment deed.

Also Read: Why Are Muslim Women Still Behind Bars

Militating Against Women’s Empowerment

Relinquishment of coparcenary rights militates against women’s empowerment. It is high time that women ask for the inheritance rights that the constitution as well as the religion gives them. The right to inheritance also seems one of its kind means to women’s empowerment where people peddling religiosity may not find a reason to oppose it. Women should know that signing a relinquishment deed may lose them a lifetime opportunity for leading an independent and respectful life in this patriarchal world.

Also Read: The women behind #Blacklivesmatter movement

The Debate on Equality of Rights

It is generally accepted that Islam entitles a sister to inherit half of what a brother gets as a coparcener. However, the interpretation of the Quran regarding this law is debatable. According to Mohmmad Iqbal, “the share of the daughter is determined not by any inferiority inherent in her, but in view of her economic opportunities, and the place she occupies in the social structure of which she is a part and parcel.” Iqbal goes on to justify the case of inheritance law in Islam arguing that the daughter “is held to be the full owner of the property given to her by both the father and the husband at the time of her marriage.” Further, “she absolutely owns her dower-money which may be prompt or deferred according to her own choice, and in lieu of which she can hold possession of the whole of her husband’s property till payment, the responsibility of maintaining her throughout her life is wholly thrown on the husband.”

Therefore, for Iqbal, if we “judge the working of the rule of inheritance from this point of view, you (we) will find that there is no material difference between the economic position of sons and daughters.”

However, Iqbal made this point in 1930. Since then, there has been a significant change in the economic positions of men and women. If the motive behind inheritance laws, as mentioned by Iqbal, is applied to modern-day conditions, sons and daughters may well get an equal share in inheritance.

Towards Muslim Women’s Empowerment

Inheritance rights bestowed by Islam on Muslim women show Islam’s inherent quest for women’s empowerment.

Even though the West blames Muslims for repressing women’s rights, Islam has its in-built laws for women’s empowerment. These laws, unlike West’s feminist rhetoric, go beyond symbolic empowerment like sartorial choice, and hence materially empower women.

However, it is a shame that Muslims do not follow Islamic laws like inheritance law in letter and spirit. If all Muslims obeyed these laws, the world would become a better place for Muslim women.

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“The Worst is Yet to Come”— Recession 2023 & the Looming Uncertainty

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recession 2023

Recession 2023 is just around the corner.

The global economic crises are now inducing the certainty of a looming recession. Economists and financial organizations warned of upcoming uncertainty; however, regrettably, the world failed to decode the uprising of the economic catastrophe. 

Today’s economies around the globe are confronting an urgent economic crisis and is on the brink of a recession. And, the experts fear the worst is yet to come!

Shear Impact on Leading Economies – US, UK, China, and India

“Global growth is slowing sharply, with further slowing likely as more countries fall into recession. My deep concern is that these trends will persist, with long-lasting consequences devastating for people in emerging markets and developing economies,”  

World Bank Group President David Malpass.

For the first time since 2009, the US declared negative GDP growth two quarters in a row, which officially qualifies as a recession.

The British Pound is at its historic low of $1.038 against US dollars due to rare emergency interventions. Cities and states in China are still in lockdown because of a rise in Covid-19 cases. On the other hand, Indian Rupee is at its 75-year low of Rupees 82.11 against the US dollar, soaring the hike in repo rates to 5.90%

Srilanka already declared insolvency earlier this year. Russia and Ukraine war had already set the stage for World War III. And the recent resilience of china on Taiwan has tarnished the world economic environment. 

Read More: Sri Lanka: What Led the Island Nation to Bankruptcy?

All these together indicate the harsh truth: Recession 2023 will worsens the conditions of all major economies and push the globe into undefined circumstances like:

  • Central banks hiking the interest rates
  • Hike in energy and food prices
  • Depreciation of major currencies against the dollar

 Central Banks Hiking the Interest Rates  

To counteract rising inflation and the impact of a strong currency on the economies, central banks are hurriedly raising interest rates. This happens as the US Federal Reserve keeps up its aggressive interest rate hikes.

Rising Interest Rates
Rising Interest Rates. Image Source: India Today

On the other hand Reserve Bank of India is also struggling with persistently high inflation, which is made worse by geopolitical unrest, droughts, and supply-chain disruptions

Hike in Energy and Food Prices

Russia is the world’s third-largest oil-producing country. It provides 7-8 million barrels of crude oil per day, or 14% of global production, to international markets. 

The US and UK’s restrictions and many other nations’ decisions to stop purchasing Russian petroleum have exacerbated the crisis.

Russia and Ukraine are the biggest sunflower oil producers globally and the second most frequently used cooking oil. However, sunflower oil cannot yet be exported from Russia due to the tightening of import restrictions. 

Plus, due to the increasing demand for sunflower oil in the market, other edible oils are now more expensive, raising the cost of food and other products across borders.

Depreciation of Major Currencies Against the US Dollar 

Compared to the US dollar, the Japanese yen has dropped to its lowest level since August 1998. The Indian rupee is hitting its lowest in history, and for the first time in 20 years, the euro is now lower than the USD.

The decline of major currencies indicates the current state of the global economy. Moreover, it provides a crystal-clear forecast of how disastrous the recession 2023 would be if significant steps are not taken to control the situation.

The Decelerating Global Economy: IMF Forecast for Recession 2023

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is warning that over a third of the economy is headed for a recession this year or next. Its world outlook shows growth withering from 6.0% in 2021, 3.2% in 2022, and an estimate of just 2.7% in 2023.

Recession 2023 will be different from all the recessions the world has faced to date. Different factors are driving economic crashes in different countries, for example:

A cynical recession by hiking interest rates in the US, a structural recession in China powered by the crashing property market, and financial insecurity exaggerated by the ongoing energy crisis in Europe.

The ongoing turmoil in the national and global market is further sparking the threat of World War III.

Rising Certainty of World War III

Russia has already invaded Ukraine, and in opposition to Ukraine’s protection, the US cleared this support with Ukraine by immediately sending weapons to Ukraine. Such US behavior infuriated Russia, leading to increased attacks. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the US and European countries that further expansion of support to Ukraine might lead the situation to a ‘Global catastrophe.’ 

On the other hand, China assaulted Taiwan due to the recent visit of the US finance minister. The current clash of China and Indian troops erupt seriously, leading to grim conflict on north-east Indian borders.  

Additionally, civil wars in countries like Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Mali are raising the certainty of World War III

Needless to say, World War III will destroy the world economy, resulting in more financial turmoil, starvation, a hike in oil prices, and the depreciation of currencies

Recession 2023: The Worst is yet to come

Slowing down economies, high repo rates, depreciation of currencies, bankrupted countries, and looming wars between nuclear countries are further solidifying the onset of a cold economic winter. 

The circumstance indicates what is coming. The indication of recession, the yell of “the worst is yet to come.

However, to wrench the global situation on track, policymakers should continue to give needy powerful tailored assistance to respective governments while also putting in place reliable medium-term fiscal strategies.

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Hindutva Activists Call for Economic Boycott of Muslims

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Hindutva Activists Call for economic boycott of Muslims

Days before the Hindu festival Diwali, Twitter is full of anti-Muslim hatred. One of the trending hashtags on Twitter is “Halal Free Diwali”. It seems like a well-orchestrated campaign against businesses owned by Muslims or catering to Muslims. Through this social media campaign, Hindutva activists and supporters are calling for the boycott of Halal-certified products. Some of them allege that Muslims are creating a parallel economy that is used for Jihad. Some people have even gone a step ahead and called it “economic Jihad”.

Economic Boycott of Muslims is not New

The economic boycott of Muslims on this Diwali is not something new. It has been a constant for several festivals now.

Earlier this year, Temples in Karnataka prohibited Muslims from doing trade during festivals. This happened in the same locality where the Hijab row had erupted.

Hindutva activists alleged that Muslims had dominated the trade. They said that Muslims were doing “injustice” by dominating the businesses and keeping Hindus out. The Hindutva supporters also argued that while Muslims are involved in some unpleasant incidents but also want to reap the benefits of trade during Hindu festivals.

The boycott calls escalated later. Some Hindutva organizations also called for a boycott of Muslim cab and tour operators.

Boycott of Companies Owned by Muslims

Last year, some Hindutva miscreants launched a campaign of misinformation and fake propaganda against iD Fresh Foods, a company owned by a Muslim businessman. Common masses were misled through WhatsApp forwards that the products of the company contain animal extracts. It was a concerted attack to hurt the company’s reputation. Further, some people also alleged that the company only employed Muslims.

Even though these allegations were refuted by the company, nothing could undo the harm that the company suffered. Further, the government did nothing to punish the culprits who defamed the company.

Disempowering Muslims

Muslims in India are a minority. They have a very low literacy rate. They do not have access to resources. As a result, most Muslims are involved in trading rather than the government sector.

When a particular community boycotts Muslim shopkeepers, the Muslims have no choice but to shut down their shops. The only way out for these shopkeepers is to operate in Muslim-majority areas. However, since most Muslims are involved in the trading sector, how many traders can the Muslim community sustain?

Also Read: 2 Billion Muslims must send a Stern warning to India’s Nazi-like government to stop its anti-Islam discourse

Distortion of History

Hindutva activists and supporters allege that Muslims have always dominated Hindus. They accuse Muslims of perpetrating injustice on them in the past. Hence, they claim it is payback time.

It is a typical strategy that precedes genocide. The “other” are demonized. Their history is distorted. They are accused of being dirty. Further, they are also accused of things like dominating the economy or stealing jobs. 

Nothing can be farther from the truth. Muslims in India are disempowered. They are underrepresented in all the public sectors job.  The representation of Muslims in the formal sector of the economy is also low.

The condition of Muslims in India and their power can be gauged from the fact that they make up almost 15% of India’s population, but Muslim representatives constitute only 5% of the Indian parliament’s total strength.

It is the political power that determines the power of a particular community. Muslims do not even have political power proportionate to their population. The truth is that Indian Muslims are marginalized and excluded.

India’s Economic Policy and Economic Boycott of Muslims

Ever since coming to power in 2014, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched many schemes to make India’s economy grow faster. Further, Modi wants India to become a manufacturing hub.

While these schemes and plans are ambitious, Modi’s supporters are calling for the economic disempowerment of 15% of India’s population.

Also Read: Why Is Indian PM Modi’s Silent About Attacks Against Muslims?

Muslim Countries and the Indian Economy

A significant proportion of India’s population works in Gulf countries. They send remittances back home, contributing to India’s foreign exchange. Further, Indian businesses have a ubiquitous presence in Gulf countries. They do a lot of business there.

Muslim-majority countries contribute to India’s economy without discrimination. In fact, Gulf countries give preference to Indians rather than Pakistani Muslims when it comes to business and employment.

However, back home, Indians are marginalizing Muslims. Hindutva supporters are calling out Muslims because of their religion.

It is rather ironic that Hindutva supporters think it is fine for them to find employment and use profits from business proceedings in Gulf countries but at the same time accuse Indian Muslims of economic and employment Jihad back home.

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