10 months ago

The Bangladesh Today (11-02-2018)


EDITORIAL SUnDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2018 4 Acting Editor & Publisher : Jobaer Alam Telephone: +8802-9104683-84, Fax: 9127103 e-mail: Sunday, February 11, 2018 Khaleda Zia’s conviction T he earlier anticipations that there would be a spontaneous eruption of public discontent centering on Khaleda Zia's conviction has by now dissipated. The post convictionscenario and taking her to prison caused no extraordinary outpouring of public grievances as was warned by some BNP party leaders or BNP oriented elements. The events came and passed surprisingly smoothly. Of course some diehard BNP party workers sought to stage short-lived and sporadic confrontations with the law enforces. But on the whole the law and order conditions-- well after the sentence was read out to the BNP supreme leader-- continues to be reasonable and hardly concern raising. So, one may not contend the Home Minister's observation that the country remains generally peaceful in the wake of Khaleda Zia's conviction. It appears the people at large have tended to respond to the BNP leader's conviction as it should be : simply as a matter of the court to be settled as per the requirements of the law. They were not pulsated into a rebellious or revolutionary mood over the issue or saw no great public interest associated to take a stand over the court's judgement. On the other hand the Home Minister as well as the Law Minister's observations that people in a democracy have the rights to 'peacefully' protest something they do not like also helped a calmer outcome. Police took selective and limited actions after the judgement was delivered designed to ensure that disturbance in public life could be restricted to the minimum. Such a posture on the part of the law enforcers was appreciated as they were seen as doing their job to keep normal public life and safety and security of people's lives and properties. It appears the international community, too, broadly supports the developments that have taken place in Bangladesh over the last couple of days. They were apprehensive about outbreak of large scale violence over the jailing of Khaleda Zia. According to news reports, the US State Department in its latest policy statements warned the BNP that they ought not to do anything that would be evident of the latter's role in instigating serious decline in law and order conditions in Bangladesh. The statement mentioned about the rights of BNP supporters and others to express their opinion and exhibit their dissatisfaction but not at the cost of peace and stability of Bangladesh. Similar was the warning conveyed to BNP leaders by India and the European Union (EU). In sum, it appears the international community generally has taken a principled stand on the side of maintaining peace and stability in Bangladesh. The US, India and EU also suggested to BNP leaders that they should seek to redress their grievances through the courts and legal system and not by unleashing violence on the streets. Needless to say, the BNP leadership would do well to heed such helpful advice. They also need to try and assess people's actual feelings or passions over the issue. Another wrong calculation by them could put them into greater disillusionment in the eyes of the people. As it is, people generally have given a silent signal about what they think or feel by remaining greatly unmoved by the Court's decision. People's general apathy is clearly indicative that the imprisonment of Khaleda Zia is not considered by them as something central to their lives and well being ; their only motivation is no quarter should get an excuse to put Bangladesh on the path of another spell of strife and dissension with dangerous spill over effects on the economy by exploiting the situation of internment of Khaleda Zia. Unemotionally looking at the sentencing of Khaleda Zia, it cannot be said that justice was not dispensed in her case. The case took nearly ten years to come to a close and this is example enough that the prosecution gave her and her legal teams an extraordinary length of time to carry out their legal defence. All opportunities for adequate defence were extended to her. Besides, this was not a court set up by an extra legal martial law authorities or the like. It was duly set up by an elected and constitutionally approved government. The sentencing by a lower court does not foreclose the way to her to appeal in a higher court, to seek bail and get it, plus carry out the legal battle while remaining a physically free person in the process. Practically, it could be a matter of days for Khaleda to approach the High Court and get out of the prison at Nazimuddin Road on bail. So, all that is needed on her part and that of her party is to keep patient . Under no circumstances their faces will be brighter to the people if they encourage another round of burning and pillaging which they executed for months in 2014 to press for their so called demands. The news of conviction of the former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia by a trial court to five years of imprisonment for embezzlement of US$ 2,52,000 from a trust fund created in the name of her late husband and the first Martial Law Ruler of Bangladesh General Zia-ur-Rahman has become a bit old. It has travelled beyond Bangladesh instantly when the court handed out the judgment on Thursday around 3.00p.m. Besides Begum Zia six other persons, including her eldest and the only surviving son, who in the eye of the law is absconding but residing in London since 2007, have also been convicted to ten years of imprisonment from the time they surrender to the court. The embezzlement case, known as the 'Zia Orphanage Trust Graft Case' was filed on July 3, 2008 by the Anticorruption Commission during the Caretaker government. It took long ten years, 236 days of hearing to close the case. Begum Zia was the main accused and if found guilty the court could have handed her a life term but while announcing the verdict the court in clear terms said it refrained from giving her the life term considering her social status and age. The court by any definition was kind and generous. Just twenty hours before the verdict of the Zia Orphanage Trust case was announced in Dhaka thousands miles away, in London an unprecedented and deplorable incident happened. Some expatriate thugs, posing as supporters of BNP residing in UK went to the Bangladesh High Commission in London, forcibly entered the High Commission premises, vandalized the premises, brought out the official portrait of the Father of the Nation TYPICALLY, manifestos form the basis of an election campaign, outlining the objectives and the strategies a political party, if elected into office, will use to achieve them. In Pakistan, electioneering has mostly focused on development, and rightly so, considering the need to uplift standards of living, improve and increase access to infrastructure, basic necessities and welfare. However, a country cannot achieve inclusive development goals if fundamental rights, especially the right to speech, are violated. If citizens do not have an equal and free say in the policy and decision-making process, then development is less likely to be inclusive, and democracy's basic tenets are compromised. Seeing that the 2018 elections are just around the corner, it is timely to evaluate the current government's performance in implementing its 2013 manifesto with regard to rights. Equally important is to compare the 2013 manifestos of other major political contenders contesting the next elections. It is also pertinent to evaluate violations of rights by the state over the last five years, especially its vehement crackdown on critical political speech and dissent, both online and offline. To what extent have the major political parties sought to protect fundamental rights since 2013? PML-N: Since forming the federal government in 2013, the PML- Wehave all seen the action movies in which a life-or-death struggle takes place on top of a moving train rapidly heading for a tunnel. British politics now unfortunately resembles such a scene: The tussles and armwrestling over Brexit intensify even as exit day, March 29, 2019, looms. And just like in a movie, the train is non-stop to a fixed destination, and it would be unwise to choose this moment to change the driver. Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) will go ahead unless there is overwhelming public demand to prevent it, and the Conservative Party is stuck with the outcome of last year's election that gives huge power to any small cabal of members of parliament. They cannot return to the country for another new parliament, and any effort to bring in a new prime minister could quite easily derail government, party and Brexit all in one go. There is thus little choice for ministers except, in the famous Winston Churchill phrase, to 'keep buggering on'. But fixed as they are in government, in a minority, and in a formidably difficult and complex situation with the time running short, what exactly could they do to improve matters? They need to start, of course, by coming to an agreed position on what trading relationship with the EU they are seeking. That does not mean declaring their stance on every point and detail. British Prime Minister Theresa May played a difficult hand well last autumn by deciding and revealing her goals in Of justice, Vandalism and Politics Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and showed utmost disrespect to the portraits, forgetting that if it was not for the Father of the Nation they would not have been able to travel to London or anywhere outside Bangladesh as a citizen of a independent country with a passport. They also perhaps are unaware that if it was not for him Begum Zia would have lived with a broken family. What is more disappointing that the law enforcing agencies in London have completely failed to protect the premises of the Bangladesh High Commission, notwithstanding the fact that every country's diplomatic premises is considered to be sovereign and it is duty of the host country to protect that sovereignty. In Dhaka once in a while some demonstrators wants to go and protest in front of some diplomatic premises but the law enforcing agencies would have nothing of it and most of the time they are either intercepted near the Shahbagh or Mohakhali, forget approaching the Baridhara diplomatic N's manifesto merits the most scrutiny. Chapter 5 of the party's 2013 manifesto promised a new right to information legislation, which the government delivered on in 2017. However, an information commission is yet to be set up, in the absence of which citizens currently have no platform to appeal to in case of non-provision of information by a government body. It should be set up immediately, ideally before the next election. The manifesto also highlights the role of civil society in strengthening democracy and governance. However, a crackdown on civil society organisations during its tenure has been unfortunate, with many having to seek redress from courts in order to continue operations. Instead of undue harassment and notices ABDUL MAnnAn enclave. If such an incident would have happened in Dhaka hell would have broken loose followed by strongly worded protests from the home country and in certain cases the country concerned would have called back their diplomats or their family members. Unfortunately nothing of this will perhaps happen in this case. At best Bangladesh can just lodge a complaint. Ironically we consider England to be home of modern democracy. However, Begum Zia is the second Head of government or Head of State in Bangladesh who have been convicted in a corruption case. The first one was general Ershad. Besides the Zia Orphanage Trust graft Case thirty seven more cases against Khaleda Zia are pending with trial proceeding and few cases like the Zia Charitable Trust Case and 21 August grenade Attack case are nearing completion. if found guilty in these cases Begum Zia and Tarique Rahman may find themselves with more convictions. taking advantage of liberal policies of the British government it seems that the world's political thugs, militants and controversial politicians are allowed to take refuge in Britain quiet easily. Begum Zia is the second Head of Government or Head of State in Bangladesh who have been convicted in a corruption case. The first one was General Ershad. Besides the Zia Orphanage Trust Graft Case thirty seven more cases against Khaleda Zia are pending with trial proceeding and few cases like the Zia Charitable Trust Case and 21 August Grenade Attack Rights in manifestos USAMA KHiLji of suspension without reason, the government should only take legal action provided it has evidence of such organisations being engaged in illegal activity. In chapter 8, the ruling party also promised a law for protecting journalists from harassment. However, such a law is still pending, currently with a Senate committee, and was not proposed by the The manifesto also highlights the role of civil society in strengthening democracy and governance. However, a crackdown on civil society organisations during its tenure has been unfortunate, with many having to seek redress from courts in order to continue operations. instead of undue harassment and notices of suspension without reason, the government should only take legal action provided it has evidence of such organisations being engaged in illegal activity. PML-N, but the JI. Interestingly, the manifesto only mentioned social media in the context of its use for business and governance, but not in terms of freedom of expression considering the increasingly important role it plays in political debate. Moreover, the PML-N also imposed limits on speech online through the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. The absence of any mention of freedom of expression is Light at the end of Brexit tunnel stages - if she had spelt out in August exactly what she would sign up to in the interim deal in December, both the EU and many in her own party would have rejected it. Proceeding with some ambiguity and a good deal of caution is the only way she can deliver a reasonable outcome. Nevertheless, there comes a time every few months to move the argument on with a clear statement of intent, as she did with the Florence speech last September. The Cabinet should be able to agree on wanting free trade with zero tariffs in goods, with a willingness to keep our standards aligned with the EU. They could propose a system of mutual recognition or equivalence in financial and other services, but prepare a globally competitive model of regulation if Brussels doesn't want that deal. They could agree on diverging from the EU as soon as possible in agricultural and WiLLiAM HAgUE fishing policy. The most difficult decision for them is what they are seeking on customs arrangements. On this, the government and the whole process could stand or fall. They face a Labour opposition whose only uniting motive on Brexit is to bring down the Tories, and who can see in the tensions over this issue the opportunity to force a That does not mean declaring their stance on every point and detail. British Prime Minister Theresa May played a difficult hand well last autumn by deciding and revealing her goals in stages - if she had spelt out in August exactly what she would sign up to in the interim deal in December, both the EU and many in her own party would have rejected it. Proceeding with some ambiguity and a good deal of caution is the only way she can deliver a reasonable outcome. potentially fatal wedge between ministers and a crucial minority of Conservative MPs. Given that remaining in a customs union has again been ruled out - and there is no conceivable way of delivering Brexit politically without that reaffirmed decision - the ministers need to focus on what streamlined and efficient system can do three things: Work in practice, including in trade with Ireland; convince the most pro-EU Conservatives that it is sufficient; and appeal to countries like the Netherlands who export much of their case are nearing completion. If found guilty in these cases Begum Zia and Tarique Rahman may find themselves with more convictions. Earlier in 2007 Begum Zia along with Awami League President Sk. Hasina were taken into custody by the Caretaker Fakhruddin government and interned separately in two houses in the Jatiyo Sangsad compound. Though number of cases were filed against them no conviction was made. Both were released later when the going went tough for the Fakhruddin government. Before the day of the verdict the law enforcing bosses announced that they will ensure no procession or demonstration takes place and on the day will pass peacefully. But things did not happen as planned. Begum Zia's motorcade was intercepted and taken over by few hundred BNP supporters near the Karwan Bazaar while the escorting police seemed helpless. This should not have happened. Such incidents may have had disastrous consequence considering Begum Zia's security. There were sporadic clashes with the police and the supporters of the ruling party. But credit should also be given to the law enforcers for the patience they have shown on that day, not only in Dhaka but across the country. For the entire period of the hearing Begum Zia's lawyers have argued on legal point for her unconditional release. The court not only gave them patient hearing but also allowed Begum Zia to speak before the court for extended period. When she spoke there weren't much of legal points but more of emotion and political rhetoric. conspicuous, something that the party must include in the 2018 manifesto, especially considering the arrests of its own activists for their political speech on social media and elsewhere. The PML-N also promised to remove all curbs on the freedom of electronic and press media in chapter 11 but, as seen last November during the Faizabad sit-in, the party had blocked transmission of TV news channels and access to social media for more than a day. Meanwhile, mobile internet access in Fata remains blocked since 2016. Further, although failing to work on a whistle-blower protection law promised in its own manifesto, the party did have one of its senior advisers resign when details of a high-level meeting between top military and civilian officials were reportedly leaked to this newspaper. PPP: The second largest party in parliament, the PPP had a dedicated section for freedom of expression and right to information in part 2 of its 2013 manifesto, where it promised a new right to information law and a wage board ward for newspaper employees. It also expressed support for civil society's right to association and its role as important stakeholders in legislation as well as implementation of human rights. This is something the party, as the opposition, adhered to by engaging with a range of civil society organisations. Source : Dawn trade to Britain. If they cannot propose an idea that ticks those three boxes, they will be in a very deep hole. If they can, every Conservative MP should get behind it (OK, we all know Ken Clarke is a special case) to prevent the European Commission pursuing a divide and destroy strategy, were it so recklessly minded, towards May's administration. If ministers emerged from their conclave last week with some such approach they will have a viable policy for the next round of talks. At the same time, there are other things they can do to avoid more of the unnecessary rows and dramas of recent weeks. The first is very simple: The key ministers involved should be meeting every working day to discuss the issues, understand each other's views and deal with immediate controversies. They would do that if Britain was fighting a war, and they are now in the peacetime political equivalent. They would then be less likely to misunderstand and apparently contradict each other, whether in Sunday morning interviews or at Davos. Next, they should make a positive virtue of parliamentary scrutiny, such as over the 'Henry VIII' powers to amend laws during Brexit now being debated in the House of Lords. A reluctance after the referendum to put Article 50 to a vote straight away led to them being dragged through the Supreme Court and overruled. Source : Gulf News

DEVELOPMENT sunDAy, febRuARy 11, 2018 5 ensuring accountability and transparency of development projects JInDRA CekAn While President Obama and former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Raj Shah promised up to 30% of all contracts would go to 'local solutions' that "promote sustainable development through high-impact partnerships and local solutions", nowhere near that percentage became true then, much less now. While there seem to be good examples such as Haiti, Afghanistan is a poorer example. While most international non-profits implement projects through local sub-contractors, certainly building their capacity to manage and account for foreign taxpayer dollars spent, like this MSI in Lebanon example, if we extend the measure of 'success' beyond our project implementation, policies and programming needs to change to sustain capacity and implementation post-exit. How local partners are presented can appear as somewhat of a shell game. For while Haiti and Afghanistan have been featured by USAID, I have never seen a full inventory of partners for even a handful of the 60+ countries and regional missions that USAID works in. We hear about 'local solutions' and undoubtedly USAID's 'implementing partners' do much good using local subcontractors. Yet are the locals winning the contracts these days? USAID posts contracts lists, for instance those who 'won' contracts amounting to $4.68 billion in 2016. The for-profits of Chemonics 'won' over $1 billion, then Tetra Tech and DAI got $800 million of contracts each. These three contractors comprised 39% of all USAID obligated contract funding that year, whereas (U.S.) non-profits garnered 13% of the contracts and small and woman-owned businesses 12% and 7%. Only Kenya Medical Supplies Authority, a state corporation, was listed in the top 20, winning a five-year $122 million contract for Kenya. There are no equivalent sub-contractor lists, much less amounts allocated to national NGOs which would prove we are building 'development' ground-up. While I am focusing on USAID, I believe this is true of most bilateral and multilateral donors. For USAID, caveats abound regarding their ability to accomplish local and sustained 'development'. A 2015 Congressional Research Paper about their How transparent and accountable are the local partners during and post development projects? Photo: Collected Background, Operations and Issues, cites "multiple challenges in the course of fulfilling its mission", including: Local Solutions and Sustainability. Yet the agency argues that investments are best sustained in the long-term if development is locally owned, locally led, and locally resourced." For instance, the US government's country-level foreign appropriations overall budget for 2017 shows that $36 billion funded a variety of branches of the US government's 'development', it would be instructive to see what the amounts of the funders' award contacts which would be broken down into: what % went to implementers, what % went to national governments or local contractors, and what % was directly used for our participants. Maybe this is a new aspect the industrystandard Charity Navigator can add to its existing Accountability and Transparency criteria. On my repeated wish list for them is to show evidence the nonprofit is systematically doing and learning from post project sustained impacts evaluations. I first asked this 5 years ago. Their website also talks about its 25-year CSR investments which is an enviable timespan, for most donors have 1-5 year projects. "Abengoa believes that the good relationship it has with local communities, as well as respect and development in the areas where it operates, reaps benefits, referring to this method as "social licence to operate". Abengoa's social engagement aims to further the social and cultural development of the communities where they operate. From 2014 to 2016, the company reported its social performance in line with the criteria proposed by the London Benchmarking Group (LBG) methodology. This model defines a method to measure, manage, assess and disclose contributions, achievements and impacts of the company's social engagement . Asia’s universities cruising up world rankings Water saving habits are strictly encouraged in Australia. Photo: Joe Castro What lessons can African nations learn about drought adaptation sukHMAnI MAnTel Rainfall in South Africa is naturally highly variable with total amount of precipitation very different between years and across the country. Total annual rainfall in southern Africa doesn't seem to have changed much over the last century since measurements began. But it has become more variable: droughts and floods are more frequent than before. The region's urban authorities, industries, farmers and other citizens will have to adapt to these conditions. The experience of other countries may offer useful lessons. Not all will be applicable, given southern Africa's limited financial resources. For example, southern African countries cannot afford wasteful expenditure on infrastructure, so we must be sure that our predictions of future water demand and changes in water availability have low uncertainty. Individual low-income households in southern Africa cannot afford some of the water-saving technologies used in developed countries. So it needs to adopt simple, but effective solutions. Some arid countries have been forced to develop novel technologies and strategies to survive extremely dry conditions. Australia and Israel, for example, have become more resilient as climate change has brought more frequent droughts. Two thirds of Israel's land surface is desert and the remainder is arid. Yet, the country has found ways to manage water shortages. Australia, too, has learnt how to cope. In particular, a drought from 1997 to 2009 forced Melbourne to take drastic measures to conserve water. Residents changed the way they used water - and that behaviour has persisted. On average, they still use only a quarter of the water used by the average Californian. Israel has, over many decades, developed a centralised water management system. It has invested in continuous technological innovations, improvements in practice and development of long-term management plans. The country's infrastructure innovations include a scheme to supply water from the north to all parts of the country, drilling extremely deep wells and seawater desalination plants. Israel also reuses wastewater and compels people to use water-saving technology. Its greatest innovation relates to irrigation. It has developed an efficient drip irrigation system that uses up to 75% less water than some other irrigation techniques. For its part, Australia passed legislation that allowed the federal government to provide funding to Melbourne for an integrated response to the drought. It also allocated power to a regional water manager to force cooperation between water utilities, city agencies and reservoir managers. It invested in infrastructure too, including a pipeline to deliver water and a desalination plant. The government encouraged households to save water through technology and behaviour. It provided rebates for residential greywater (water that is relatively clean enough to be reused e.g. from bath, sink or washing machine, in contrast to black water which is water from toilets) systems for gardening, encouraged investment in rainwater tanks and implemented water restrictions. Its marketing included simple elements like displaying reservoir levels on electronic billboards. By 2010, Melbourne residents and businesses were using only half the water they'd used in 1997. And this behaviour has continued, making the city more resilient to future droughts. It's clear that southern Africa needs to take action on a number of fronts. Countries need to pass new laws that make an integrated response to drought possible. They need to invest in infrastructure, which could include alternative sources of bulk water supply. Our own study on how bulk water suppliers can adapt took into account the uncertainty associated with future climate change and development. We recommended adaptive management along with continual monitoring. Adaptive management is a decision making process that reevaluates management processes and actions iteratively over time to adjust to changing conditions. For example, adaptive water management monitors the amount of water available due to variable climate (supply) and the quantity used over time (demand). In this way, trends in water availability and water use predicted by science can be confirmed or corrected by observations, and can more confidently guide infrastructure development. The region should also invest in innovative ways of saving water. Some of these changes would be behavioural. Media such as television and billboards can be very effective in campaigns for change. Simple water saving technologies can be invested in, such as rainwater tanks. Countries in southern Africa must also start using the water they have more efficiently. They can plan their water resources better, reuse wastewater and maintain infrastructure so as to reduce leaks and wastage. Agriculture uses a large amount of water, up to 70% of water usage globally. Adopting techniques such as drip irrigation could save a lot. ‘Poverty clock’ ticks with real-time data Asian universities are becoming more and more visible in the top 100 list of Times Higher education rankings. Photo: Panos CRIsPIn MAslog The banner headline was that the University of Oxford has become the first UK university to top the 2016-17 Times Higher Education World University rankings, when they were released last year. But the subplot, reinforced by the recent release of the first-ever rankings specific to Asia-Pacific, is that more Asian universities are now edging to the top 100 and are poised to enter the top 20. The headline trends of last year were that the University of Oxford has knocked five-time leader California Institute of Technology, also known as Caltech, into second place in the Times' latest rankings. And of the top 200 universities, 63 are from the US while 32 are from the UK - two shy of last year's number. Germany is once again the third most represented country in the top 200, with 22 institutions (up from 20), while the Netherlands is still fourth, with 13 (up from 12). While these Western countries continue to dominate the list, Asia is becoming increasingly visible. According to the world rankings, there are now nine Asian universities in the top 100, up from eight in the last ranking, with several Asian institutions edging closer to the top 20. Asia's leading institution, the National University of Singapore (NUS), moved up two spots to 24th - its highest rank ever. Singapore's second best university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), came in at 54. Two of China's flagships have also joined the elite 100. Peking University leaped to 29th from 42nd last year, while Tsinghua University jumped to 35th from 47th the year before. Japan has one university in the top 100, University of Tokyo at 39. Two Hong Kong universities joined the magic 100 circle - University of Hong Kong at 43 and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology at 49. There are also two Korean universities in the top 100 - Seoul National University at 72 and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology at 89. A third one, Pohang University of Science and Technology, came very close at 104 in the world but is 10th in Asia. The Asia- Pacific rankings add to these trends by showing that of the 24 universities in the top 200, only four lost ground compared to 20 who improved their position. Those which gained ground have increased their scores by 24 points on average. They also show that some universities jumped in the rankings by phenomenal scores. The Chinese University of Hong Kong moved from 138 to 76; KAIST from 148 to 89; Zhejiang University from 251 to 201; Shanghai Jiao Tong from 301 to 201; City University of Hong Kong from 201 to 119; and University of Science and Technology of China from 201 to 153. Meanwhile, India's leading university, the Indian Institute of Science, is edging closer to the top 200, claiming a spot in the 201-250 band, its highest-ever position. Of the top ten Asian universities, four are science universities and six are humanities oriented. Offhand, we can say that being a science university does not automatically make a university great. Other factors come into play. The Institute of International Education's (IIE) deputy vice-president of research and evaluation, Rajika Bhandari, attributes the sharp rise of Asian universities in the rankings to three main factors: "rapidly growing populations and demand for higher education in the region; governments making significant investments in universities; and improvements by individual institutions." Bhandari, co-editor of the book Asia: The Next Higher Education Superpower?, was quoted by the Times university rankings as saying that many Asian scholars who studied at Western universities are back in their home countries and have "really begun to transform their own higher education sectors." They have "brought back to their home campuses some of the teaching values of critical thinking and liberal education, as well as the idea of promotion based on merit and research outputs," she says. To explain Singapore's sterling performance in the university rankings, Eddie Kuo, former sociology department chair at NUS and founding dean of the NTU School of Communication, tells SciDev.Net: "The two schools are highly international, with high ratio of international faculty and students. There is a strong emphasis on top-tier publication. These are possible as both universities enjoy strong government funding. Faculty salaries are highly competitive. TAnIA RAbesAnDRATAnA Every minute in Nigeria, 6.5 people fall into extreme poverty. And as this sentence is being written, 42.5 per cent of its population - 82,640,203 people - are extremely poor. These are up-to-the-second, specific estimates that come from the World Poverty Clock: a database, launched in May 2017, of national income figures paired with easy to follow, real-time graphics. Nigeria's rising poverty trend translates to the colour red on the website's map. Official data sources do not give such specific poverty estimates. The 'global poverty today' figure often bandied at big international meetings is usually based on four-year-old data, says Homi Kharas, the lead economic adviser behind the clock, who also leads the global economy and development programme at the Brookings Institution, a US think tank. The clock's team is aiming to paint a clearer and more timely picture, so that countries can check their progress to escaping extreme poverty by 2030 - one of the targets under the UN's global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the process, the clock can also come up with surprises. Unlike Nigeria, India is well on track to meeting the target and appears green on the map. At the time of writing the clock estimates that 83,653,728 people, or 6.3 per cent of its population, live in extreme poverty (with less than 1.9 US dollars per day) and 47 people escape it every minute. This means that within the next few months, Nigeria will have the largest absolute number of poor people in the world - which Kharas says is unexpected, given that India has "held that title" for hundreds of years. The clock is the brainchild of the non-profit arm of World Data Lab (WDL), an Austria-based company. Its models rely primarily on publicly available national household surveys, which governments typically conduct every three to ten years, to project income figures into the present and the future. For India, for example, Woman washing in a slum in Delhi, India. the estimates are based on 2012 data collected by the National Sample Survey Office, adjusted and published by the World Bank on its PovcalNet website. Though the clock's algorithms rely largely on World Bank data, the bank is not responsible for the clock. Those algorithms estimate how people's incomes change over time in each country, using economic growth forecasts and longterm scenarios that account for global events such as climate change. The estimates, available for all nations except Syria, are Photo: Anita Makri then paired with graphics to display how fast each country is escaping poverty and whether they will meet the 2030 goal. "We want this used by individual countries, to see how they are doing against their neighbours," says Kharas.

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