Rishika Pardikar is a freelance journalist writing from Bangalore, India.

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Boris Johnson And the Rights of Marginalized Communities in the U.K.

by Rishika Pardikar 08-13-2019

Image via REUTERS/Toby Melville

Mahmood explained that issues such as increasing wealth inequality, and the scapegoating of migrants and refugees, set against the backdrop of the migration ‘crisis’, have led to increasing hostility and incidents of hate crime under the Tories — majority white (97 per cent) and male (71 percent) — members or supporters of U.K.’s Conservative Party.

Women Lead Sudan's Battle for Regime Change

by Rishika Pardikar 04-26-2019

Alaa Salah, a Sudanese protester whose video gone viral and make her an icon for the mass anti-government protests, in Khartoum, Sudan, April 20, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The Sudanese revolution is half-complete. On April 12, merely 24-hours after they had gotten rid of Omar al-Bashir, their dictator of 30 years, the Sudanese people were still out on the streets. They are out today too.

Where Are Afghan Women in U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks?

by Rishika Pardikar 02-20-2019

"The thing I'm most worried about is that if [the Taliban] return, I'll not be able to continue playing music," said Maram Atayee, a 16-year-old pianist who attends music school in Kabul.  REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

Late last month, it was reported that the U.S. and the Taliban have agreed in principle to the framework of a deal that could potentially end the 17-year war that began in 2001 when the U.S., with the strength of NATO forces, invaded and began occupying Afghanistan. In the lead up to war, leaders cited concerns about human rights, specifically women’s rights.

Diversity in the House Has Spurred Change. But There's a Long Way to Go

by Rishika Pardikar 01-25-2019

U.S. Representative-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) arrives inside the House Chamber for the start of the 116th Congress, Washington, D.C., Jan. 3, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

On Jan. 3rd when Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, assumed office as a member of the House of Representatives, she became the first Somali-American woman, the first Minnesotan of color, and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

#EleNão Movement Counters 'Brazilian Trump' Ahead of Presidential Election

by Rishika Pardikar 10-24-2018

"Not Him" demonstrations against presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia, Brazil Sept. 29, 2018. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

Brazil’s 2018 presidential elections are scheduled to go into a second round Oct. 28, with Jair Bolsonaro squaring off against Fernando Haddad after they secured the most number of votes but failed to meet the 50 percent threshold in the Oct. 7 election.

Correcting the Narrative of Faith vs. Science: Q&A with Vatican Observatory's Richard D'Souza

by Rishika Pardikar 08-28-2018

Richard D'Souza and Eric Bell of the University of Michigan recently grabbed headlines for their discovery: The Milky Way once had a ‘sibling,’ which was devoured by the neighboring galaxy of Andromeda about 2 billion years ago. Their study, published in the Nature Astronomy journal last month, has its implications on the understanding of how galaxies evolve over time. D'Souza, the lead author of the study, hails from the Indian state of Goa and interestingly, he is also a staff member of the Vatican Observatory, an astronomical research institute supported by the Roman Catholic Church.

'The Laws Haven't Changed. But This Administration's Policies Have Changed'

by Rishika Pardikar 08-07-2018
Faith Groups Work to Support Immigrants Amid Policy Shifts

After being reunited with her daughter, Sandra Elizabeth Sanchez, of Honduras, browses through a rack of clothes at Catholic Charities in San Antonio, Texas, U.S., July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

“The Bible tells us, in numerous places, to care for the foreigner and stranger among us. As those who were once ‘aliens’ from the family of God and have now been given full citizenship through the blood of Christ, we should, of all people advocate for the flourishing and welfare for refugees,” said Elizabeth Bristow, Press Secretary at The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “We should see those settling into our communities, not as obstacles to our flourishing, but people created in the image of God."

‘Wild Wild Country’ and the Dangers of Extremism

by Rishika Pardikar 06-06-2018

Image via Wild Wild Country trailer. 

But outsiders, especially conservative Christian neighbors, considered the Rajneeshees a threat. In Wild Wild Country, we see Osho speak to his followers of “an awakened man,” and meditation as a means of attaining higher levels of awareness. His seemingly revolutionary way to sainthood, which rested on being spiritual without having to isolate or reject human needs, had a profound effect on his devotees, and soon his stature grew to resemble that of a rockstar. Neighbors around Rajneeshpuram felt they were being too quickly outnumbered. And they were — they lost elections, as well as the city council. 

Rationalizing the Wealth Gap Away

by Rishika Pardikar 04-04-2018

Dutourdumonde Photography / Shutterstock.com

We all know there is a chasm dividing the vast majority of Americans from the very richest — and leaders across the political spectrum will admit that it’s a problem. What are distinct, of course, are the policies being drafted to bridge the divide. Shortly after the election of President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) presented “A Better Way,” touted as an anti-poverty plan. “Our welfare system is rigged to replace work, not encourage work,” says Ryan, and the only way to tackle such challenges is supposedly to “reward work.”

How the United Arab Emirates, a Country of 90 Percent Immigrants, Handles Immigration

by Rishika Pardikar 03-20-2018

Countries in the Gulf States have some of the highest levels of immigration as a percentage of their population in the world.

78 Years Later, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ Is Just As Timely As Ever

by Rishika Pardikar 04-14-2017

Abandoned diner along highway The Grapes of Wrath's "Mother road," Route 66 in Mojave desert on April 6, 2010. Rolf_52 / Shutterstock.com

Seventy-eight years ago, John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath. It’s since become a staple in high-school curricula, offering a glimpse into our nation’s troubled history. But its lessons are just as applicable today in our hyper-polarized climate, in which empathy is often found lacking.

The Importance of Presidential Rhetoric

by Rishika Pardikar 01-24-2017

As I listened to President Donald Trump’s inaugural address on Friday, I couldn’t help but be reminded me of a book titled The Anti-Intellectual Presidency by Elvin T Lim.

We Can't End Extreme Poverty Without Addressing These 2 Things

by Rishika Pardikar 10-18-2016

Image via /Shutterstock.com

In the wake of Jim Yong Kim’s visit to the country, the World Bank’s future efforts should provide for coordinated global efforts to cope with climate change, especially to help those who live in areas most vulnerable to extreme weather. Future efforts should also provide research in agriculture, funding in education and health facilities, and directions to establish clear labour laws to regulate the booming industrial sector.

The Politics of the Burqa: When Will Women Have Their Say?

by Rishika Pardikar 08-23-2016

Duing the Rio Olympics, images of Egypt’s athletes in full-body spandex (with player Doaa Elghobashy also wearing a hijab) competing against Germany’s bikini-clad team quickly swept through the internet. It’s only been since the 2012 London Olympics that relaxed rules allowed for such diversity of clothing. The photographs echoed narratives of cultural freedom and showed how opposites can sometimes coexist quite peacefully.

Building Empathy For Syrians Through Virtual Reality. And Pokémon.

by Rishika Pardikar 08-18-2016

Syrian refugee station in Turkey, July 17, 2015. kafeinkolik / Shutterstock.com

Images trigger empathy; to perceive tragedy, we need to see the victim. The effect is curiously more profound when we see the image of a single victim: While one death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic. The photo that emerged overnight of a bloodied 5-year-old boy, wounded in an air strike in Aleppo and rescued by the White Helmets, feels hauntingly familiar. It seems to be having the same effect as the first picture to break the heart of the world: that of Aylan Kurdi, a drowned 3-year-old boy lying face-down with his soaked red shirt and blue bottoms. That image, like that of 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, lies imprinted on our minds. It was a simple photograph with an absolute truth: A kid died and his lifeless body washed up on the shore like a piece of wood or a discarded plastic bottle; at the moment nothing seemed more savage.

What the African Union Is Learning from Brexit

by Rishika Pardikar 08-16-2016

The Ordinary Session of the Assembly of African Heads of State and Government of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Jan. 29-31. Via GovernmentZA / Flickr.com

Currently, only 13 of the 54 member states offer liberal access (visa free or visa on arrival) to all Africans. African Development Bank recently released a report aimed at highlighting the economic benefits of visa ppenness by citing examples of Seychelles (a country that has been an early reformer in relaxing visa requirements to boost its tourism sector), and Mauritius and Rwanda (both of which saw an increase in African business and leisure travelers and consequently, an increase in economic activity).

While the positives are plenty, there’s also a lot that the AU could learn from the EU.