Author Archives: Ramesh Thakur

Ramesh Thakur

About Ramesh Thakur

Ramesh Thakur is a professor emeritus at the Crawford School of Public Policy, the Australian National University.

The Irrepressibles tame the Invincibles in their impregnable fortress

A transformative cricket series will do more to strengthen Australia–India bonds than any amount of public diplomacy.

Posted in Politics, Top 5 | 10 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. The ScoMosa Summit

The value of personal diplomacy was on display in the Morrison-Modi Summit last week – quickly dubbed ‘the ScoMosa’ summit after some culinary Twitter banter between the leaders.  But the virtual dialogue had great substance, paving the way for closer bilateral … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Politics | 3 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Lockdown mea culpa: Norway sets an example

On 5 May, the Norwegian  Institute of Public Health published an important report on Norway’s experience of dealing with the Coronavirus crisis. The text that follows is a verbatim extract of the equivalent of the executive summary from the report, … Continue reading

Posted in Health | 1 Comment

RAMESH THAKUR. Let’s learn from this pandemic to be better prepared for the really big one

On 26 May, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said if Australia’s mortality rate matched the UK’s, we’d have had 14,000 Covid-19 deaths. This is just tautological rubbish. It would be just as true and equally pointless to say if Australia’s … Continue reading

Posted in Health | 7 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. A great documentary from Canada on the Iraq War

I strongly encourage all readers of Pearls and Irritations to watch this remarkable new documentary from the National Film Board of Canada on PM Jean Chretien’s decision to say no to the Iraq War in 2003.

Posted in World Affairs | 5 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. The rise and fall of coronavirus modelling

Will the Great Lockdown’s epitaph be ‘The Greatest Mistake in History’?

Posted in Health | 12 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Coronavirus data prove Australia is in Asia

Cross-jurisdiction comparisons are notoriously difficult and it’s almost impossible to prove lockdowns have saved lives, except by falling back tautologically on the epidemiological model’s own projections of mortality figures with no lockdown.

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 7 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Scapegoating the WHO as the CHO (Japan Times 4.5.20)

Now is not the time to demonize and defund the WHO

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

The Coronavirus Derby

And the winner is

Posted in Arts and Sport | Leave a comment

RAMESH THAKUR. Sound the Trumpists: The deputy sheriff rides again – Part Three: Goading the dragon

Cockwomblette: A neologism coined to describe the lesser antipodean cousin of the cockwomble (see Monday’s Part One). Its natural habitat is the bush capital of the world; the inheritor of an obsequious line of deputy sheriffs.

Posted in Asia, Health, Public Policy, World Affairs | 2 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Sound the Trumpists: The deputy sheriff rides again – Part Two: India and Australia

Consider the case of India. What exactly does ‘social distancing’ – elegant as it is as an abstract concept – mean in practice in Indian conditions, a country of 1.3bn people with a population density of 464 per km2 compared … Continue reading

Posted in Health, Public Policy, World Affairs | 3 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Sound the Trumpists: The deputy sheriff rides again – Part One: The global landscape

Cockwomble: A person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid statements and/or engaging in inappropriate behaviour while generally having a very high opinion of their own wisdom  and importance. Presently exemplified by Agent Orange who dwells in the casa blanca … Continue reading

Posted in Health, World Affairs | 8 Comments

BRUCE W. JENTLESON. Compete with China, but No New Cold War

The balance to be struck is to confront China as warranted, compete as necessary, and cooperate when possible

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 2 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Pandemics and the G20: One last shot at relevance

The pandemic has starkly highlighted the inadequacy of current governance arrangements. In a world in which all politics is stubbornly local but most big-ticket problems are global, the G20 is uniquely placed to bridge the global governance gap.

Posted in World Affairs | 1 Comment

RAMESH THAKUR. Lives vs lives: Corona without karuna

Coronavirus threatens to overwhelm the health and economies of many developing countries where a billion people subsist in a Hobbesian state of nature and life is ‘nasty, brutish and short’.

Posted in Asia, Health | 6 Comments

HARSH MANDER. A pandemic in an unequal India (Hindu 1.4.20)

The irony is that a pandemic has been brought into India by people who can afford plane tickets, but while they will buy private health services, the virus will devastate the poor who they infect and who have little access … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Health | Leave a comment

RAMESH THAKUR. US-India relations shape Japan’s strategic environment (Japan Times 23.3.20)

Japan’s strategic environment is shaped by the intersection of three major geopolitical story lines: the rise of China as a comprehensive national power; the Trump administration’s reset of relations with China into full-spectrum strategic competition; and the expansion, consolidation and … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Politics, World Affairs | 1 Comment

RAMESH THAKUR. Coronavirus postscript

Two brief comments as a follow up to my article on coronavirus on Monday.

Posted in Health | 3 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Coronavirus pandemic: sceptical question marks make for better policy than excitable exclamation marks

When did the world’s media and politicians become collective versions of Lance Corporal Jones in the British comedy series Dad’s Army, screaming ‘Don’t panic! Don’t panic!’? Colour me contrarian, but since the 2003 Iraq war, my working motto has been: when … Continue reading

Posted in Health, World Affairs | 10 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Delhi in flames

Last month’s deadly riots in Delhi were a state-sponsored pogrom. To prevent an uncontrollable mass tragedy that could destabilise the Asia–Pacific region, friendly governments must speak out now.

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 2 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Impeachment politics revisited

The doomed impeachment has helped Trump and damaged Biden. The election is now Trump’s to lose and the Democratic nomination is Sanders’ to lose.

Posted in Politics, World Affairs | 4 Comments

SUSHANT SINGH. With a flag, song and book (Indian Express 24-1-20)

As well as Australia Day, 26 January is an important day of celebration in India as Republic Day. The Constitution of India formally came into force on 26 January 1950.

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 4 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Modi’s threat to the idea, national unity and territorial integrity of India

China’s Communist Party never admits to mistakes but always learns from them. India’s PM Narendra Modi never admits to mistakes and seems too stubborn to learn from them. He calls to mind Barbara Tuchman’s description of Philip II of Spain: … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Human Rights, World Affairs | 3 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. The half-century miracle of Asian resurgence (Japan Times 6-1-20)

Is Japan Asian? Geographically, this is a silly question. Yet in an age in which identity politics have become increasingly critical, by economic logic, political orientation and geopolitical alliance, Japan is Western.

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 1 Comment

RAMESH THAKUR. Australian bushfires: it’s not always about climate change (Straits Times 24-12-19)

Global warming and climate change are scientific facts, but beware of attempts to make them responsible for poor human decisions affecting the environment today.

Posted in Climate | 8 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Modi’s project to make a Hindu India (East Asia Forum 30-12-19)

When Scott Morrison visits India later this month, he should temper his marketing enthusiasm. The Modi government is fast-tracking India into uncharted territory despite a forest of flashing amber signs of dangers ahead.

Posted in Asia, World Affairs | 3 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Is India still committed to its no-first-use nuclear policy? (The Strategist 11-11-19)

On 16 August, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hinted that India might abandon its no-first-use policy: ‘Till today, our nuclear policy is “no first use”. What happens in future depends on the circumstances.’

Posted in Asia, Defence and Security, World Affairs | Leave a comment

RAMESH THAKUR. The Greens cruelled Australia’s last best chance for climate action ten years ago

Ten years ago, on 23 November, PM Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull had worked together to draft a compromise environmental policy for Australia that both could live with. That fleeting moment of bipartisan unity was sabotaged by Andrew … Continue reading

Posted in Climate, Politics | 8 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. The invisibility of Asian–Australians is a national scandal. The silence on this scandal is a disgrace

As I read through the opinion articles in The Canberra Times and The Australian on Saturday 9 November, I grew increasingly exasperated at the total absence of any Asian voice. I then did an online search of opinion articles in … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Immigration, refugees, World Affairs | 6 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. The risk of entrapment by self-fulfilling nuclear prophecy

As rising nuclear threats become harder to ignore, non-nuclear states have responded in one of two ways. The majority have sought to reduce the risks of deliberate or inadvertent nuclear war by doubling down on disarmament efforts, crystallised most eloquently … Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Defence and Security, World Affairs | 1 Comment