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Farmers stage a Delhi Chalo march over various demands, at the Punjab-Haryana Shambhu border, near Ambala on Tuesday.

ANI Photo via Reuters

Could farming protests hurt Modi at the polls?

Thousands of farmers are marching toward New Delhi to demand better prices for their crops, but police are trying to keep them out of the capital by barricading access to the city, firing tear gas, and making arrests.

The unrest comes just months before the general election in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is predicted to win a third term.

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the Bharat Mandapam to inaugurate the Indian Mobile Congress 2023, in New Delhi, India on Oct. 27, 2023.

Kabir Jhangiani/NurPhoto via Reuters

Should India roll the dice on AI regulation?

The United Kingdom and Japan recently hosted influential AI summits, spurring global conversations about regulatory solutions. Now, India wants in on the act, and it is set to host a major conference next month aimed at boosting trust in and adoption of artificial intelligence. But as concerns over the safety of AI grow, New Delhi faces a choice between taking a leading role in the growing international consensus on AI regulation and striking out on its own to nurture innovation with light regulatory touches.

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An Afghan man works in a poppy field in Nangarhar province in 2016.

REUTERS/Parwiz/File Photo

Hard Numbers: Afghans' fewer poppies, Trump's lead in key states, Lake Titicaca’s lower water level, New Delhi's smog, Japan's new frigates, Swifties' tents

95: Once the world’s top opium supplier, Afghanistan has slashed its cultivation of opium poppies by a whopping 95%, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The drop follows a Taliban edict banning opium cultivation.

5: Former President Donald Trump is leading in five of six battleground states in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, according to new polls by The New York Times and Siena College. The numbers indicate that Biden is trailing among registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. The president remains ahead in Wisconsin by the smallest of margins: two percentage points.

29: Over the past seven months, Lake Titicaca’s water level at the Peru-Bolivia border has fallen 29 inches to near-record lows. According to scientists, climate change is exacerbating this year’s El Nino phenomenon, layering heat on top of heat in South America’s largest freshwater lake.

471: In more bad environmental news, primary schools in New Delhi have been closed through Nov. 10 due to high pollution levels. On Sunday, the capital recorded an Air Quality Index reading of 471, a level considered hazardous.

12: The Japanese Ministry of Defense will acquire a total of 12 new Mogami class frigates over the next five years. The vessels will be used to defend the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

5: Die-hard Taylor Swift fans have been camped out in tents for 5 months for a chance at front-row seats to the singer’s Eras Tour concerts in Buenos Aires on Nov. 9, 10, and 11. Some Bad Blood has been reported between the tent dwellers and locals who say the Swifties should get jobs rather than spend days waiting for their idol – but despite the potentially Delicate situation, fans appear able to Shake it Off.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seen here addressing a G20 Development Ministers’ meeting in June, is set to host the group's summit in New Delhi this weekend.

ANI Photo via Reuters

Weekend at Modi’s

Well, this weekend is the moment Indian PM Narendra Modi has been waiting for, with world leaders set to gather for the G20 Summit in New Delhi.

For Modi, it’s a big chance to show the world that India is a rising and responsible power that can broker solutions to multilateral challenges — climate change, food security, inflation — while advocating, in particular, for the interests of the so-called “Global South” (an imperfect catchall for pretty much anything outside of Europe, the US, and Japan).

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A motorist rides past a hoarding decorated with flowers to welcome G20 foreign ministers in New Delhi, India, March 1, 2023.


What We’re Watching: Tense G-20 talks in India, Finland’s fence-building, China’s economic activity, Chicago’s mayoral runoff

An awkward G-20 summit in Delhi

When G-20 foreign ministers met in New Delhi on Thursday, it was, as expected, an awkward affair. While India, the current G-20 chair, had hoped that the bloc would focus on issues of importance to the Global South, like climate change and the global food crisis, the agenda was disrupted by US-Russia bickering over the war in Ukraine, which US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called "unprovoked and unjustified war", while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed the West for not doing enough to extend a deal to allow Ukrainian grain exports that will soon expire. Of course, focusing on anything else was going to be a tall order when the top diplomats of the US, China, and Russia were all in the same room. (President Biden and Xi Jinping last met at the G-20 summit in Bali in November, though there was no bilateral meeting between the US and Russia.) In a sign of how fractured Washington's relationship remains with these two states, Blinken on Wednesday again urged Beijing not to send lethal weapons to Russia and canned China’s peace plan for Ukraine. As for US-Russia relations … need we say more? India, which has gone to painstaking lengths to maintain its neutral status over the past year, says it thinks the group can get stuff done. But at a meeting last month of G-20 financial heads, the group couldn’t even agree on a joint statement.

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A Rohingya refugee family rests in a temporary shelter after a fire destroyed a Rohingya refugee camp in New Delhi, India.


Hard Numbers: Rohingya unwelcome in Delhi, Thailand’s forgotten battle, Abbas under fire, the few remaining anti-Trump Republicans

1,100: Hours after India’s Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs said that Rohingya refugees from Myanmar residing in New Delhi would be given free housing, Amit Shah – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s closest aide and a man known for his Hindu nationalist politics – said that the refugees would not be given apartments. Shah called the 1,100 Rohingya living in India’s capital “illegal migrants” and threatened to deport them.
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Hard Numbers: Colombian violence, Ottawa vs Tehran, New Delhi’s weekend curfew, anti nuclear war consensus

23: At least 23 people have been killed in northern Colombia near the Venezuelan border in recent days amid violent clashes between rival guerrilla groups ELN and FARC rebels, who rejected the 2016 Colombian peace process. Among other things, the ELN and the FARC are vying for control of crucial drug trafficking routes.

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What We're Watching: Iran plays hard to get, China gets up in India's grid, Dominicans build a wall

Iran rules out nuclear talks… for now: Iran has reportedly rejected an offer to join direct talks with the US and EU over its nuclear program, saying it won't start the conversation until sanctions on Iran's economy are eased. To be clear, this does NOT mean that prospects for reviving the Iran nuclear deal are dead. Europeans and the Biden administration want a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, and Iran certainly needs the economic boost that would come from a removal of sanctions. But Tehran is going to try to maximize its leverage before any talks begin, especially since this is a sensitive election year in in the country. Iran's leaders are going to play hard to get for a while longer before edging their way back to the bargaining table. Still, it's high stakes diplomacy here between parties that have almost no mutual trust — and one misstep could throw things off track quickly.

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