What We're Watching: India's angry farmers, NATO's search for meaning, Israel's election threat

People on a tractor shout slogans at a site of a protest against the newly passed farm bills at Singhu border near Delhi, India, December 1, 2020.

Farmers protest in India: Some 20,000 farmers have descended on the Indian capital of New Delhi in recent days, blocking roads and setting up encampments to protest new agriculture laws that they fear will harm their livelihoods. The measures, passed in September, eliminate requirements for farmers to sell their produce to government-run wholesale markets. That creates more market opportunities for farmers, but they worry it will mean the end of government-guaranteed prices that they can depend on, opening the way to exploitation by large agriculture corporations. In a country where farming is the primary source of income for nearly 60 percent of the population, farmers' welfare is a huge political issue. At the moment, things are deadlocked in Delhi: the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi says it's willing to negotiate with the farmers, but not until they decamp from the center of the city. The farmers, meanwhile, say they won't budge until talks start. We're watching to see who blinks first.


NATO seeks to define itself, again: NATO foreign ministers are currently gathered for two days of soul-searching, as the 71-year old alliance searches for a new purpose in the 21st century. Ever since the end of the Cold War — which gave rise to the pact first signed in 1949 — that purpose has been somewhat unclear. Among the challenges the alliance now faces are waning US interest in the war in Afghanistan, which for 17 years has been NATO's primary engagement, as well as the problem of Turkey — an increasingly combative and undemocratic member of the club which has developed military ties with... Russia. A new report under discussion at the summit proposes focusing more on countering the strategic and political threat of China. That idea comes on the heels of a proposal from the EU — home to 28 of NATO's 30 members — to form a more explicitly anti-China technology alliance with the incoming US administration of Joe Biden.

Israel's (fourth) election threat: With the Knesset, Israel's parliament, mired in deadlock — in part over the national budget — Israel is inching closer to yet another election, its fourth in less than two years. Much depends on how the centrist Blue and White party, led by Benny Gantz, who joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government seven months ago after a bitter election cycle, votes Wednesday on a bill to disband parliament. (Gantz gave a scathing speech Tuesday that suggests he will likely vote to dissolve the government.) But either way, the coalition agreement stipulates that if no state budget is passed by December 23 for 2020 and 2021, the government automatically collapses, and fresh elections will be called. It's a delicate dance for all sides: Gantz has been trying to ensure that if this government survives, he still gets to rotate in to become prime minister next fall (this was also a part of the coalition deal). Netanyahu, for his part, wants to retain the top job, but eventually weed out Blue and White so he can cobble together a strong majority that will help him pass an immunity law and avoid a corruption trial. While Netanyahu's Likud party and Gantz's Blue and White loathe each other, neither leader really wants to go back on the campaign trail so soon. It now seems they will have to anyway.

We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?

That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.

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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.

The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.

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In two weeks, US President Joe Biden will be hosting an online "climate summit" to mark Earth Day. He'll ask China and India to sign up to America's ambitious new plan to slow down climate change. Will they go for it? China is the world's largest polluter, but Beijing is rolling out solar and wind power as fast as it's burning coal. India, meanwhile, is loathe to pick up the slack for rich countries that polluted their way to wealth and now want everyone else to agree to emissions cuts. No matter what happens, any successful plan to reduce global emissions will require buy-in from these three nations which, along with the European Union, account for almost 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions nowadays. Here's a look at emissions by the world's top polluters compared to everyone else over the last two decades.

Two big Andean elections: This Sunday, Ecuadorians go to the polls for the second time this year in a close presidential runoff, while Peruvians will vote in the first round of their own presidential election. In Ecuador, the matchup is between the leftwing-populist frontrunner Andrés Arauz, who has pledged to blow up the country's IMF agreements and boost national oil production, and Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business candidate who is seen as the choice of continuity with the current market-friendly government. Voter abstention is likely to be high, and the final result could very well be close and contested in a polarized country that was struggling with massive social unrest even before the pandemic struck. Meanwhile in Peru — which recently went through three presidents in the space of a week — the candidate field is hugely fragmented. Those with a decent shot to make it to the second round include "change" candidates like the leftist former lawmakers Yohny Lescano and Verónica Mendoza, as well as the prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, who has recently risen in the polls. Former soccer star George Forsyth is also in the mix, as is Keiko Fujimori, daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori. Both of this Sunday's elections will serve as a kind of bellwether for the political mood in a region that has been devastated by the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

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Nasal sprays, oral vaccines, and other new types of COVID-19 vaccines may be ready soon, according to Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization. She previews some of these needle-less vaccines and notes that the possibility of being able to store vaccines at room temperature could be a game-changer for vaccinating poorer nations. The advantage of nasal sprays, she explains, is that they "would generate local mucosal immunity in addition to systemic immunity." Dr. Swaminathan's conversation with Ian Bremmer is featured on the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting this Friday, April 9. Check local listings.

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