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The union government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) missed the 31 Oct 2019 deadline to sign the final agreement on a Naga peace accord, ending decades of insurgency. However, a mutual understanding has been reached and the dominant Naga insurgent outfit has agreed to continue talks with the Nagaland Governor, and peace interlocutor, R N Ravi. The government has allowed the use of a Naga flag only at cultural events. The NSCN (I-M)'s demand for a separate flag and Constitution has not been accepted by the government. The issue of a separate constitution is still being discussed. The government has endorsed the use of Naga emblem and flag, specifically for cultural identity, within Naga home land. The Naga National Political Groups (NNPGS), a grouping of seven insurgent outfits, has demanded for increased seats in the Nagaland assembly, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, along with economic packages and accommodation for its cadres.

Output Falling
The output of eight core sector infrastructure industries contracted by 5.2% in September 2019. This reflects the severity of the economic slowdown. Seven of the eight core industries saw a constriction in output. Coal production fell steeply by 20.5%, crude oil by 5.4%, and natural gas by 4.9%. Output of refinery products fell by 6.7%, cement by 2.1%, steel by 0.3%, and electricity by 3.7%. Production in fertilisers increased by 5.4%. The eight core sectors expanded by 4.3% in Sep 2018. During April-September 2019 period, the growth of core industries slowed to 1.3%, against 5.5% in the year earlier period. Economic growth has slipped to an over six year low of 5%.

Agrentina Today
Peronists have returned to power in Argentina, after the incumbent president Mauricio Macri, conceded defeat in an election that was dominated by concerns over general disenchantment, rising poverty and a torpid economy. Victory of Alberto Fernandez's presidential campaign has put an end to the pro-business economic policies of Macri's administration. Cristina Kirchner, one of Argentina's most popular presidents during her two terms from 2007 to 2015 has been voted back to offer as vice-President. Macri, the outgoing president stepped down with a plunging peso, an inflation rate that ballooned to an annual 56%, and the number of people below the poverty line rising from 29% to 35%. Fernandez is a moderate Peronist and has pledged to respect the $57 billion IMF loan taken by Macri in 2018.

Crisis In Lebanon
Since mid Oct 2019, protesters on the streets of Lebanon have vowed they would keep pushing for deeper change. A nation-wide lock down has put Lebanon's government under pressure. A proposed tax on calls via messaging apps sparked a wave of demonstrations in Beirut on 17 Oct 2019. The unprecedented mobilisation swelled into a popular drive to remove a political elite, which has remained largely unchanged since the end of the civil war three decades ago. Euphoric protesters experiencing a rare moment of national unity, have pilloried politicians of all parties, calling for better public services, an end to rampant corruption, and a complete over-haul of sectarian-based politics. Security forces reopened several roads that had remained blocked. Prime minister Saad Hariri's resignation came after counter-demonstrators loyal to some of his political rivals, attacked the main protest site in the capital's Martyr's Square. They destroyed tents and marquees, and the rest of the temporary infra-structure that has turned downtown Beirut into a huge encampment, hosting protests and political meetings by day, concerts and parties by night. Well organised protesters swiftly cleaned up, and returned to the site, occupying main flyovers. Rivals in the government coalition, including president Michel Aoun's Party, and its allies from the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah warned a political vacuum could lead to chaos. At least forty people have died, hundreds have been shot and beaten, and more than 10,000 arrested. Demonstrators have blamed the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, and another faction called Amal. Lebanon has been staggering along for years. Political instability and corruption are almost endemic. The economy is teetering towards collapse, in spite of remittances from abroad. Saad Hariri recently gave $16 million to a South African model. The fair amount of money reaffirms the gulf between life styles.

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Frontier
Vol. 52, No. 24, Dec 15 - 21, 2019