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Climate Refugees: Pain of Unseen Victims

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Damaged costal area house

Climate change is taking place fast with increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, erratic weather, loss of biodiversity and damaged ecosystems. Millions of people are suffering from damage to their lands, agriculture, livelihood systems and threat to life. Living conditions are becoming treacherous with each passing day.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reminded that on an average 21.5 million people are forcibly leaving their places annually for climate-related events like wildfires, floods, storms and high-temperature rises since 2008.

Also Read: Extreme Heatwaves: India Facing the Hottest Summers Since 112 Years

Even the international think tank Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) predicted that by the year 2050, 1.2 billion people would be affected and displaced by natural disasters and climate change.

Climate refugees are the people who are forced to cross the border of their countries due to the unavailability of clean water, food, livelihood and a place to live. As we see how people of  Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala were hit by massive hurricanes and forced to leave their places and arrived at border areas of the US and Mexico for safe living places.

Five countries with the most new displacements by disasters in 2019

Image Source: IDMC

Chain Effects of Natural Disasters

The impact of climate change is generally related to short-term relief and measures for the people who are affected by the havoc and disaster caused by weather events. But in a true sense, these natural disasters are a permanent and a huge cause of concern for people around the world susceptible to natural disasters.

Climate risks basically have chain effects and cause huge havoc on multiple aspects of life and livelihood.

Natural disaster generally limits access to safe water and food and cause diseases due to unhygienic conditions. Further damaged lands lead to loss of livelihoods and agricultural damage which causes food shortages and hunger threats.

Also Read: Terrifying effects of Climate Change are Threatening Humanity

Hunger and thrift forced people to migrate and even cause refugee problems.

Climate change has a long-term effect not only on the people but on the overall culture, societies and economies beyond just displacement of people.

For example, sea-level rise has already distressed and destroyed a number of coastal communities and forced them to leave to other places leaving behind their agricultural lands, homes, and way of living.

Rising water level

Rising seas and increasingly violent storms have wreaked havoc on small island nations like Tuvalu. Photo credit: Vlad Sokhin

90% of people in coastal areas are generally poor people and living in poor or developing nations and island nations.

Bangladesh is a nation that is being predicted to be submerged up to 17% by the year 2050 by the rise of sea level and almost 20 million people will lose their homes.

These people generally move to other places and earn meagre wages as unskilled labourers.

Children of such people are also forced to become child labourers without opportunities for education, skills or training to lead a quality life.

Also Read: Dark Life of Child Labour Behind the Shinning Mica

They are forced to live in ghettos and untidy and unhygienic conditions.

Damaged costal area house

A damaged temporary home near the Meghna River in Bangladesh, in a coastal area threatened by erosion and rising salt water levels in the soil. Credit: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Barcroft Media/Getty

Even cities and towns where they fled face an influx of more people and hence pressure on infrastructure and services.

Correlation Between Climate Change and Conflict Migration

UNHCR’s report Global Trends in Forced Displacement 2020, brings the shocking fact that 95% of all conflict displacement occurred in those countries which are vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change.

In view of this threat, international governments started to recognize the existence and effects of climate change migration.

U.S. President Joe Biden released the Report on the Impact of Climate Change on Migration in November 2021 and first time agreed with the link between climate change and migration.

This report finds the linkages between climate change and international security, conflicts, geopolitics and instability. Further, it calls for an urgent need to establish policies and strategies to develop safe, proactive and humane management for climate migration flow.

Response to Climate Migrants and Refugees

  1. Creating Economic Opportunities

One of the most important measures to help the climate-affected people is to create sustainable and viable economic opportunities for the communities at their places or the places of their migration.

In Bangladesh, cyclonic floods have caused salinity in more than 50% of farmlands. Agricultural output and earnings of farmers were affected badly for this reason. Hence, in such situations, government and NGOs can give training, skills and resources to adapt climate-resistant practices and crops to achieve a sustainable livelihood and safety of food.

  1. Recognition of Refugee Status

Climate refugees must be given the same status as those who fled the conflicts.

The Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adopted by the UN in 2018 clearly accept that one of the major factors of migration is climate change. The regulation asked nations to formulate

Plans for visas and relocation of climate refugees and help them if the return of these migrants is not possible.

A clear definition of climate refugees and their inclusion in the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is the need of the hour so as to protect these forgotten victims of climate change.

  1. Climate Financing

Funding is required to achieve a climate-neutral, resource efficient, climate-resilient and just economy by 2050.

Climate finance is required to reduce greenhouse gases, mitigate efforts, and adapt climate-resilient practices.

At the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, World’s wealthy nations pledged climate financing of $100 billion by 2020 but they are still short billions of dollars annually.

  1. Strict implementation of the Paris Agreement

Countries have to come together to reduce the temperature below 2° Celsius(c) and ideally to 1.5°c.

  1. Responsibilities of Carbon Generating and Industrial Nations.

Rich industrial nations like the US, Japan, Canada and most of Europe are responsible for generating more than 50% of all generated global warming greenhouse gases, from fossil fuels and rapid industrialization, over the past 170 years, with just 12% of the world population.

Hence, it becomes a responsibility of these developed and rich nations to help poor nations and affected people financially and technologically.

After all, they have resources and stability which they can lend to their peer nations and make them sustainable enough to live life with dignity.

Not to Forget

We all need to act collectively and fast to manage climate change threats. It is the responsibility of all national and international government bodies, non-governmental organizations, and each responsible citizen to adopt climate-friendly measures.

Also Read: Healing Ozone Layer: Time to be Hopeful About Climate Change

We are the global citizens in the sense that climate effects and their vulnerability cannot be seen and felt in silos.

Natural disasters have domino effects.

It is an irony that nature does not see the difference between people and places. It can create havoc for all without discrimination if not treated with care.

Remember, together we can make an impact!

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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Economy

“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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Economy

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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