When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

India: 470 Airplanes And The New Power Of Non-Alignment

After not buying any aircraft for 17 years, Air India has announced the largest order in the history of aviation. It's a symbol of India's new standing in the world, its ambitions and the role it has as a model for other non-aligned nations

Photo of Narendra Modi walking past flags

Modi has a plan

Massimo Di Vita/Mondadori Portfolio via ZUMA
Pierre Haski


PARIS — Air India, the national carrier of India, had not ordered a new plane for 17 years. Then on Tuesday, the airline announced what we can call the 'contract of the century': 470 planes at once, the largest order in the history of aviation. 250 Airbus, and 220 Boeings, for the Indian national company privatized last year that clearly has enormous ambitions.

For the occasion, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in video conference, first with French President Emmanuel Macron, then with Joe Biden.

This type of spectacular announcement was to be expected from China or the Gulf States a few years ago. India was the poor cousin of the emerging world, blessed with immense talents, but with major obstacles to actually breaking through on the world stage.

Has this idea now been consigned to the past?

India would like to believe so. It has one of the strongest rates of economic growth in the world, and is expected to become the third-largest economy by the end of the decade, behind the United States and China.

Balancing act

This Indian awakening is reflected in its geopolitical positioning, as the war in Ukraine has shown. A subtle balancing act, revealing a change on a global scale.

India refused to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and even increased its purchases of hydrocarbons from Moscow, taking advantage of the price cuts.

However, that does not make it an ally of Vladimir Putin, and even less of its Chinese neighbor, against whom it has a historic rivalry. Faced with China, on the contrary, India has moved closer to the United States.

This geopolitical positioning may seem complex and even dangerous: it is in fact a reflection of what many powers of the Global South have been doing in the great geopolitical disruption of recent times. They refuse to conform to any fixed policy or alliance, and simply follow where their own interests take them.

Photo of an Air India plane

Air India has an aging fleet — not for long.

Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press via ZUMA

A new multipolar world

While India may be the most successful of this new model of “non-alignment,” other examples include Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and now Lula’s Brazil. Western countries that expected to see Russian aggression unanimously condemned in the name of international law were surprised by this emancipation of countries too long taken for granted.

Multiple links that are being forged in this new world that ignores the old blocs

In a truly multipolar world, India aspires to be one of the main poles. It spreads its wings this year by presiding over two very distinct circles: the G20, which brings together the major world economies, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the "club" initially founded by Russia and China, and which looks like an anti-Western alliance.

Within this wide range, India is developing an extensive partnership with France — in the supply and manufacture of armaments for example, with President Macron slated to visit India in the spring.

Meanwhile, France, India and the United Arab Emirates recently announced a three-way partnership, a sign of the multiple links that are being forged in this new world that ignores the old blocs.

This approach smacks of realpolitik, which risks our overlooking the more questionable aspects of such partners. Modi's Hindu nationalism is one of them. But during this redefinition of a new world, in the midst of the war in Ukraine, the question of human rights has been pushed off the agenda.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest