Narendra Modi’s first year in office

Narendra Modi’s election a year ago was accompanied by hopes for economic regeneration but anxiety about his Hindu nationalist agenda. Gideon Rachman discusses the Indian prime minister’s first year in office with Victor Mallet and James Lamont.

Rising tensions over war in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine, the rising tensions between Russia and the West, Vladimir Putin’s objectives, and how ordinary Russians and Russia’s other neighbouring states see the conflict. Neil Buckley, the FT’s eastern Europe editor and Jack Farchy, Moscow correspondent, join Gideon Rachman.

  © Getty

By Henry Foy in Warsaw

Pride and relief mixed on the streets of Warsaw the morning after Polish prime minister Donald Tusk’s election to the top of Europe’s political hierarchy, after seven years leading a country that is unsure of whether he would have remained in charge.

Mr Tusk’s selection as the new President of the European Council late on Saturday gives Poland the most important global political position in its history and confirms its rise to the continent’s top table.

But with his domestic ratings in the doldrums approaching a general election that his party will likely struggle to win, most are happy to wish him well on his way.

 Read more

Ebola virus (Getty)   © Getty

By Clive Cookson
Research into Ebola drugs and vaccines had been chugging along at a fairly leisurely pace for a decade or more – helped by some funding from the US government’s biodefence programme but not a priority for medical research in the public or private sector – until this year’s explosive Ebola epidemic in west Africa. Read more

Ebola: what risk does the virus pose to Africa and the wider world?
Parts of Western Africa are gripped by the Ebola virus, with more than 670 dead in the current outbreak. Gideon Rachman is joined by Clive Cookson, science editor, and Javier Blas, Africa editor, to discuss how serious a threat the virus poses to the region and to the wider world, and what the international community can do to thwart its progress.

Images of death and destruction in Gaza dominate TV screens in the Arab world. With turmoil spreading, Roula Khalaf, the FT’s foreign editor, talks to Gideon Rachman about why Arab support for Hamas is starting to fade.

Gaza crisis: what does current conflict mean for Netanyahu, Hamas and the wider middle east?
As bombing reaches its ninth consecutive day, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu is facing criticism abroad for causing unnecessary bloodshed, and at home for not sending troops into Gaza. Gideon Rachman is joined by Siona Jenkins, Middle east news editor, and from Gaza by John Reed, Jerusalem bureau chief to look deeper at the broader Israeli/Palestinian conflict and how Hamas has been able to use the current crisis to drum up support as chaos in the Middle East reaches levels unparalleled in recent decades.

By Vincent Boland in Dublin

As the man himself sings:

“When the rain’s blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I would offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love.”

Nobody was feeling the love in Dublin on Wednesday after Garth Brooks, the US country singer, cancelled his five live concerts in a dispute with a local residents’ organisation that has left everyone involved embarrassed, sorry, and counting the cost.

Mr Brooks was due to play the five gigs on consecutive nights later this month in Croke Park, Ireland’s 82,300-seat national stadium for the traditional games of hurling and Gaelic football. Some 400,000 tickets had been sold, at around €60 each. That represents nearly 10 per cent of the Irish population, and is a testament to the enduring love of country music in a country that gave the world U2, Thin Lizzy and, um, Big TomRead more

By Joe Leahy in Belo Horizonte

No sooner had what has already become known in Brazil as “The Massacre” started than the black-humoured jokes about the host team’s demolition by Germany began doing the rounds on the internet. Read more

  • Secret sanctions-evading oil deals were only the start of the corruption that thrived in Iran under Ahmadi-Nejad. The FT’s Najmeh Bozorgmehr looks at whether the country can clean up.
  • Philip Stephens considers the relationship between China and Russia: “The world is waking up from postmodern dreams of global governance to another era of great power competition.”
  • The European Central Bank lobbed in everything it could – bar quantitative easing – to counter the threat of a vicious bout of deflation, writes Claire Jones.
  • Egyptian presidential elections underdog Hamdeen Sabbahi wasn’t just beaten by Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi – he was also beaten by the number of spoiled ballots, of which there were over 1m.
  • Sisi himself is channeling António de Oliveira Salazar, who ruled Portugal for nearly four decades beginning in the early 1930s, but can he last that long?
  • Tony Blair is a narcissist with a messiah complex who lives a tragic life, says his former friend, best-selling author Robert Harris.

 Read more

By Stacy-Marie Ishmael

I still remember how I felt when I read these words, Maya Angelou’s words. Because I still feel it today. Breathless, simultaneously more alive and less. How did she know, I wondered, at 11, at 22, at almost 30. How did she know. Read more

By Scheherazade Daneshkhu

Some good news for a change. Food security - the availability and affordability of food – has got better, according to research published on Wednesday.

The 66-page report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by DuPont, the chemicals company, found that despite last year’s freak weather patterns - drought in California, heatwaves in Australia and floods in Russia – food security improved in almost three-quarters of the world’s countries. Read more

Relations between Russia and China
President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Beijing took on added significance because of the deep divisions between Russia and the west, caused by the Ukrainian crisis. The two countries signed a landmark deal on gas supplies, as well as other agreements covering trade and arms sales. So is a new Russia-China axis emerging? Gideon Rachman is joined by James Blitz and James Kynge to discuss.

Protesters holding Vietnamese flags attempt to push down the front gate of a factory in Bien Hoa (Getty)

By Ben Bland

Prompted by anger over Beijing’s assertive stance in the South China Sea, the deadly anti-Chinese riots sweeping through Vietnam’s industrial parks have highlighted just how important the country has become to global supply chains.

This has been good for Vietnam too.

With the crucial banking and state-owned enterprise sectors hamstrung by huge debts and a lack of reform since Vietnam started overheating in 2008, it is the thriving manufacturing sector that has kept the economy ticking along, accounting for 17 percent of GDP and generating much-needed foreign exchange.

What’s behind this manufacturing boom? Read more

How should Nigeria tackle the militant threat of Boko Haram?
Nigeria’s status as the new economic powerhouse of Africa was supposed to be the talking point of a meeting of African leaders and top executives in Abuja this week. Instead, the world is in uproar over the government’s slow response to the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls by the Boko Haram terrorist group last month.

In this week’s podcast, Ben Hall, world news editor, is joined by William Wallace, the FT’s Africa affairs writer and Javier Blas, Africa editor, to discuss western governments’ increasing concern at the upsurge in attacks and the Nigerian state’s apparent inability to deal with the militant threat.

The differing responses to the Ukraine crisis
This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington for talks with President Barack Obama, and Ukraine will top the agenda. Washington has led the way on sanctions, imposing asset freezes and travel bans on dozens of senior Russians and scores of companies, in an attempt to show Russia’s President Vladimir Putin that his interference in Ukraine will bring rising economic costs. The EU on the other hand, seems deeply resistant to tougher economic sanctions, given the much more important ties between Europe and Russia. In this week’s podcast, Ben Hall, world news editor, is joined by Geoff Dyer, Washington correspondent, and Stefan Wagstyl, Berlin bureau chief, to discuss how the two leaders should handle the escalating situation

The differing responses to the Ukraine crisis
This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington for talks with President Barack Obama, and Ukraine will top the agenda. Washington has led the way on sanctions, imposing asset freezes and travel bans on dozens of senior Russians and scores of companies, in an attempt to show Russia’s President Vladimir Putin that his interference in Ukraine will bring rising economic costs. The EU on the other hand, seems deeply resistant to tougher economic sanctions, given the much more important ties between Europe and Russia. In this week’s podcast, Ben Hall, world news editor, is joined by Geoff Dyer, Washington correspondent, and Stefan Wagstyl, Berlin bureau chief, to discuss how the two leaders should handle the escalating situation

• The peace deal struck in Geneva means little in Ukraine’s easternmost province where hard core activists are refusing to end their occupation of government buildings.

Russia seeks economic self-reliance. Faced with the threat of more sanctions over Ukraine, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the country must reduce its dependency on imports and strenghthen from within.

• Thousands of government opponents in Egypt have disappeared into secret jails, which critics warn are radicalising a new generation of jihadis.

• David Moyes’s sacking, after just 10 months as Manchester United’s manager, is above all a story of image.

• The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. New York Times analysis shows that across lower-and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have won considerably larger salary increases over the last three decades. Read more

By Jurek Martin

The formal obituaries of Shijuro Ogata, the former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan who has died at the age of 86, will take due note of his policy making roles over a long career, invariably executed with acumen. They will also record that, as he frequently said with affection, he was hardly the most famous Ogata in his own household – his wife, Sadako, was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for a decade and holder of more than one Japanese government humanitarian portfolio.

What is less well known is the extent to which he was single-handedly responsible for opening up the previously closed Japanese bureaucracy to the western media – and all through the device of a tea party of his own mischievous creation. Read more