Showing posts from 2013

Huffington Post: South Sudan's Peace Unravelling -- The Misery Continues

It suddenly feels like Harold Ramis's famous film,  Ground Hog Day . I served with UNICEF in South Sudan from June 2000 to September 2001, bringing humanitarian and life-saving services to a war-torn, drought ridden and impoverished part of Africa which was aptly called  'Operation Life-Line Sudan' . South Sudan was in a secessionist war with the North but there was also a brutal internal war between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by John Garang and his Deputy Salva Kiir, (now President of South Sudan), and the Sudan People's Defense Force (SPDF), led by Riak Machar (the former Vice President of South Sudan). The tragedy of that internal war, I witnessed then, appears to have come back to haunt South Sudan, the world's youngest nation. My take on what needs to be done to ensure lasting peace in South Sudan.

Forbes OP-ED:Obama And Putin Must Stop The Appalling Slaughter Of Syria's Children

Nelson Mandela once said, "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."   11,420 children were killed in Syria between March 2011 and August 2013. Among them, 389 were killed by snipers, 764, executed and 100, tortured. Who is protecting the rights of these children? Surely, our humanity and compassion has to be awakened at the prospect of the such grave violation of children's rights, not just in Syria but in over 22 countries all over the world! Here is a link to my OP-ED. realspin/2013/12/06/obama-and- putin-must-stop-the-appalling- slaughter-of-syrias-children/

Al Jazeera-Polio in Syria-Putting Children above politics

The underlying problem is not in Syria or in the Horn of Africa, the site of another polio outbreak this year, but in Pakistan and the other two endemic countries that have never interrupted transmission of the virus: Afghanistan and Nigeria.

OP-ED Times of India: Start with Sri Lanka

Amal Chatterjee and I reflect on Sri Lanka. Amal's mother is of Sri Lankan origin and his father is Indian. I served in the Indian Peace Keeping Forces in Sri Lanka. Here is our shared perspective in an OP-ED in the Times of India.

Huffington Post UK: Polio Outbreak in the Horn of Africa: The Red Crescent/Red Cross Key to Vaccinating Kids

Guided by a strong strategy and with the support of local populations, Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners in Somalia and Kenya are gaining access to vulnerable communities and establishing networks that will help deliver other life-saving health interventions. National partners and institutions like the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies must continue to be fully supported by all international partners in order to ensure scaling up of polio eradication efforts.

Inter Press Service Q&A: “We Need a Decisive Win Against Polio”

My interview on polio with Anna Shen of the Inter Press Service.

Huffington Post: The Toxic India-Pakistan Relationship -- When Will It All End?

On the eve of India's independence day, how safe can we say the subcontinent is? 

Is there a possibility for a breakthrough for peace or are we headed towards a breakdown to conflict that not only affects the two countries, but the region and perhaps the world?

 There is no choice but to sit down and address and resolve all issues for the sake of its people, its future growth and prosperity. Here is the link:

The Huffington Post: The Spoils of War

President Obama has announced an early departure of the US military from Afghanistan. I am certain many soldiers would be happy with this decision.  This opinion piece is a reflection of my own time as an officer in the Indian Special Forces, where I had extensive exposure to counter insurgency operations, and how I saw people change under combat stress. The damages of war go far beyond what we once believed; society has now reached an understanding about the kind of moral, financial, communal and psychological toll wars can have on the soldiers, their family, community and even country. Is it a ‘silent disaster’ waiting to explode with unknown consequences? If the world cannot find a way out of war, then we may well be defeated as a civilization. siddharth-chatterjee/the- spoils-of-war_b_3586601.html  

OP/ED in CNN: The promise of vaccines

Having witnessed firsthand the ravages of polio, nothing can be more gratifying for me than to watch the world unite to eradicate this debilitating and crippling disease. In late April 2013, Bill Gates, UNSG Ban Ki-moon and the Prince of Abu Dhabi co-hosted a vaccine summit, where world leaders pledged over $4 bn of the $5.6 bn to eradicate polio, also called the End Game. 

 Following that conference I have written this opinion piece, where I state that moving towards eradicating polio sets the stage for improved health systems and marks the blue print for eradicating many other diseases all over the world. 

 This summit has filled me with optimism for the future that no child has to ever suffer the egregious effects of this disease and we move towards creating a world free of other preventable diseases. The past week saw the World Health Assembly in Geneva. We have also seen polio has reemerge in Kenya and Somalia. World leaders and organizations once again came together to

First Post: Is India's Police System failing to Uphold the Rule of Law?

Indian Bollywood movies have for years perpetuated two stereotypes about law-enforcement in the country. They are either bumbling fools, always arriving well after matters have been sorted and justice has been served. Or they are corrupt; venal men out to exploit the system to satisfy their greed. In truth, while neither stereotype is fully representative of law enforcement personnel in the country, they are not entirely wrong either. The recent spate of rapes, unbridled violence, police brutality, a distressing absence of respect for women's rights and a general breakdown of law and order in many parts of India is a matter of grave concern. Here is a link to my opinion piece: "How to improve India’s police – a roadmap" blogs/how-to-improve-indias- police-a-roadmap-677462.html

Huffington Post: An opinion piece with Cherie Blair on Women's Economic Empowerment in India

India is generally at or near the bottom of the heap of women's misery. A UN index in 2011 amalgamated details on female education and employment, women in politics, sexual and maternal health and more. It ranked India 134th out of 187 countries, worse than Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Iran. In this article Cherie Blair and I make the case that financial independence, especially for urban poor and rural women, is the best way to ensure their empowerment. This can only come through jobs. Women are half India’s demographic dividend; if they are given the right tools and community support, they can not only become financially independent, but could also become the engines that fuel India’s future growth.

Huffington Post: " South Asia's Water Woes-Is there hope?" siddharth-chatterjee/post_ 4403_b_2664480.html World Water Day is being celebrated on March 22, 2013.   Even after nearly twenty years since World Water Day started in 1993,  over 1000 children in India die daily from water borne diseases. The entire world is watching India celebrate Kumbh Mela one of the holiest festivals in the Hindu calendar, which happens every 12 years. Sadly the waters of the Ganges where 30 million bathed on February 10, is neither fit for bathing or drinking.  The National Geographic once described the Ganges as a septic tank, and they may be right, as the levels of fecal contamination is really jaw dropping. I thought it would be useful to draw attention to this important event with an opinion piece I have developed with Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO’s (World Health Organization) Deputy Regional Director for the South East Asian Regional Office. We hope this piece will generate a broader discussion on the gri

Forbes: For Child Soldiers, Every Day Is A Living Nightmare I sincerely hope 2013 proves auspicious and a harbinger of hope. This terrible tragedy of child soldiers and children exposed to the savagery of armed conflicts is stopped forever. We must see collective and concerted actions to bring this tragic chapter of human history to a close.

The Guardian: To fully eradicate polio, India must go beyond its own borders On Sunday, January 13, 2013, India marks two years with no reported case of polio. Given the size of population, widespread poverty, poor health and physical infrastructure and pockets of insecurity, this is remarkable. But India still needs to maintain its polio free status for another year, before it can be declared polio free. And until polio is eradicated completely, the threat of polio re-infecting India and other countries hangs like the 'Sword of the Damocles'. Polio is now present in three countries-Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The disease has to be eradicated from these countries in order for the world to rid itself of this crippling disease. We are at the last mile and have to be resolute and unwavering in ensuring the utter and complete demise of polio.

The Hindu: Are Women Not Part of Our Being? My opinion piece in The Hindu, on the scourge of sexual and gender violence in India, which is deeply troubling. Without collective resolve, education, awareness raising and affirmative action this problem will continue to cause misery to many women and children.

Reuters: A clarion call to eradicate polio-India can help 24 October 2012 was World Polio Day. It marks a day of hope for India. For the first time in its history, India has been polio free. India's Prime Minister, Mr. Manmohan Singh has stated that this, “gives us hope that we can finally eradicate polio not only from India but from the face of the Earth.” It also marks a day of hope for all children of the world. From a 125 countries where polio was active and crippling millions of children, we are down to three countries. We are at the last mile in eradicating this terrible disease. We have to do everything possible to do just that

Reuters: India's malnutrition plight: The effects are more dire than we think November 19, is the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's birth anniversary. President Pranab Mukherjee together with celebrity Bollywood actor and UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador Aamir Khan launch one of the Government of India’s most ambitious campaigns to combat malnutrition. This marks a very important step to invest in the early childhood development of the country's children. India has more malnourished children than sub Saharan Africa. The statistics are frightening and left unchecked do not augur well for the country's human development. 

Forbes: As Deaths Mount In Pakistan, Ending Polio Becomes An Act Of Courage In December 2012 hope in Pakistan's polio eradication efforts was punctuated by the reckless killing of 9 health workers. These health workers knew of the risks they faced and yet demonstrated compelling acts of courage and devotion to their work. My OP/ED today in Forbes is a tribute to these brave health workers. The end of polio is in sight. This is the moment our collective resolve matters most.