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Foreign Affairs editor to be HRW's new chairman


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James F. Hoge Jr.

The distinguished journalist and editor James F. Hoge Jr. will take over the chairmanship of Human Rights Watch in October 2010, Human Rights Watch said. Hoge, currently editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, will become the fourth board chair in Human Rights Watch’s 32 years.

“I look forward to working with the talented staff and directors of Human Rights Watch to advance human rights around the world,” said Hoge. “Human rights are critical to building a decent, just and peaceful society.”

Hoge, who holds the Peter G. Peterson chair at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, joined the Human Rights Watch board in 1999. He will succeed Jane Olson, a long-time human rights activist from California who has chaired Human Rights Watch’s board since 2004.

“Jim Hoge’s stature, expertise, and insight on a broad range of foreign policy issues will amplify Human Rights Watch’s voice and add immensely to our impact,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch, who also paid tribute to Olson. “Jane Olson has been a key partner in transforming Human Rights Watch into a truly global organization with reach and recognition in capitals around the world.”

As editor of Foreign Affairs since 1992, Hoge has published many landmark essays, including “Tiananmen Papers,” about the Chinese leadership’s decision to crush the 1989 protests. During his journalistic career, he reported from Washington and overseas before becoming editor and publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times and later publisher and president of the New York Daily News. Under his leadership the Sun-Times won seven Pulitzer prizes and the Daily News one.

Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights around the globe, with a staff of 280 working in dozens of countries.

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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