Tuesday. 23/4/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Take a minute

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Elections / India

Debatable methods

The third phase of voting in India’s general election begins today. Organising a vote in the world’s most populous democracy is a mind-boggling feat: 900 million people are eligible to head to the polls and the process takes place in seven phases. Prime minister Narendra Modi of the governing Bharatiya Janata party is seeking a second term after anchoring his 2014 election win on an anti-corruption platform. Since then the potent brand of nationalism he has peddled has left India a fractured state, especially after the recent flare-up of tensions with Pakistan following the capture of an Indian fighter pilot in Kashmir. Modi may well find the nationalist genie he has conjured impossible to put back in the bottle – and he has shown little desire to do so anyway.

Geopolitics / Japan & the EU

Trading stories

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is heading to Brussels for a meeting with European Council president Donald Tusk on Thursday. Exports of goods and services to Japan are worth €86bn a year to the bloc – it’s the EU’s second-largest export market in Asia – and since an historic trade deal came into force earlier this year, the relationship has become more important still. Today’s summit will offer both parties a chance to take stock, as well as engage with foreign-policy issues. The progress of Brexit will be of particular interest: Japanese companies have invested heavily in the UK, which they formerly viewed as a gateway to the EU.

Defence / Russia

Guarded approach

The eighth annual Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) kicks off in the Russian capital today. The event is organised by the country’s defence ministry and will be attended by the likes of Indian defence secretary Sanjay Mitra and Iranian defence minister Amir Hatami, who will meet to discuss regional security in the Middle East and Asia. Last year’s conference was populated by 850 delegates from 95 countries and Moscow is expecting a similar turnout this year. In another parallel to last year’s event, the US and the European members of Nato have all refused to send their representatives. While this boycott makes a clear statement about the West's unwillingness to co-operate with Russian security, the absentees would be wise to keep a close eye on today’s discussions.

Society / Japan

The bells are going to chime

Get ready for a sudden rush to get hitched in Japan. The first day of May coincides with the start of a new imperial era known as the Reiwa period. Perhaps motivated by having a memorable anniversary date, many couples are expected to dash to their city offices to register their marriages. Japan has a history of embracing these frivolities: in 2000 the number of marriages increased by 36,000 thanks to the “millennium” novelty. One Tokyo ward mayor will make time for a photoshoot session with the newly betrothed (should they wish), while Aikawa town in Kanagawa will present each couple with 5kg of rice. Perhaps most importantly, local governments are hoping the boom will stimulate the nation’s sluggish birth rate.

M24 / Culture

Mid90s

Description: The actor Jonah Hill makes his directorial debut with “Mid90s” – a coming-of-age film about a group of teenage skater boys in LA. But how does he do in the director’s chair? Robert Bound discusses the film with critics Simran Hans and Tim Robey.

Film / Spain

Parc de Belloch: the home of Catalonian design

Show-stopping design firm Santa & Cole takes inspiration from the Catalonian countryside and being just far away enough from bustling Barcelona.

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