South Asia Weekly | Volume IX; Issue 10

    The Bichanakandi river in Bangladesh

    Bhutan: Hydropower cooperation under BBIN

    Mihir Bhonsale

    Energy cooperation among countries in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) group presents opportunities for hydropower rich Bhutan to diversify its hydropower exports and thereby finance social projects and attain economic self-sufficiency.

    An inter-governmental Joint Working Group (JWG) of BBIN countries met for the third time on 19 and 20 January to discuss ways to carry forward the cooperation. The JWG is said to have taken forward the discussions initiated in the second meeting last year and specific projects identified under the BBIN framework were discussed.

    Bangladesh keen

    Bangladesh is keen on importing power from the tiny Himalayan nation. Bhutan and Bangladesh are working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) identifying projects for hydropower development and electricity import via India. Economic Affairs minister Norbu Wangchuck visited Bheramara power station in Kusthia district of Bangladesh.

    Bangladesh is all set to invest around US$ 1 billion in Bhutan for tapping hydropower resources in Bhutan and importing electricity via India. The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank has assured to finance sub-regional power trade between the BBIN countries. The country now imports 600 MW electricity from India with the recent addition of 100 MW generated in the North-East Indian state of Tripura. Earlier in October 2013, a link was established between Behrampore and Behramara for exporting 500 MW.

    Bhutan generated 386.74 GWh of energy in April 2015, the highest energy generated since the commissioning of the 1,020 MW Tala Hydroelectric project in 2007. It earned Nu 621.96 million in 2015 from export of electricity to India. Economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk has said that the SAARC Energy Cooperation framework, which has recently been ratified in the parliament, has provided an impetus for power trading with other SAARC countries.

    Beyond hydropower development and export cooperation beyond the 10,000 MW it is now developing with India, Bhutan can think of developing hydropower projects with Bangladesh and boost its international currency reserves as Bangladesh is set pay for hydropower imports in U.S. dollars.

    Developing capacities

    Crucial to any fruitful energy cooperation is the need for infrastructure development, capacity building and planning for optimal utilisation of the electricity potential of regional electricity generation resources, enhanced grid security and to even out diversity in peak demand and seasonal variation.

    Delays in completion of projects leading to escalation of construction costs and red tape have been some of the reasons arresting hydropower development in Bhutan. The country is far from realising the 10,000 MW target it is set to develop with India’s help.

    Bhutan would harness only about 5,000MW of electricity by 2021, half the target the country had earlier pursued to achieve by 2020. The total installed capacity of hydropower today is about 1,600MW. The completion of Punatshangchu I & II and Mandgdechu hydropower projects is expected to add about another 3000 MW by 2021.

    At present, India imports 1,542 MW of power from Bhutan of the 4 power projects commissioned so far. Some 10 projects are under construction, but are expected to be delayed. Meanwhile, Bhutan is considering the project 1125 Kuri-1 through a trilateral cooperation with India and Bangladesh.

    Game-changer

    Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali described the BBIN Sub-regional cooperation as a “game changer” at the Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi held on 1-3 March.

    The BBIN countries are busy working out, bilateral or trilateral agreements under the already signed Motor Vehicles Agreement in June 2015. Through the JWG meetings experts are busy discussing projects to be completed for road and rail connectivity projects.

    The SAARC Framework Agreement for Energy Cooperation (Electricity) signed in 2014 paved the way for cross border electricity exchanges and trade. It rightly identified the importance of electricity in socio-economic development of the region. For some countries electricity is a major revenue for others it will be an avenue for meeting the growing energy needs.

    (The writer is a Research Assistant at Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata).    


    India: A Game-changer Budget by Modi Govt?

    Satish Misra

    The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented its third budget on the last day of February. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while presenting it in the House of the People, namely, the Lok Sabha, said the budget was being presented when the global economy is in serious crisis and the global growth has slowed down from 3.4 percent in 2014 to 3.1 percent in 2015. Financial markets have been battered and global trade has contracted, but amidst “all these global headwinds, the Indian economy has held its ground firmly”, he said.

    The budget will be extensively debated in the two houses of parliament before it is approved. The main thrust and focus of the 2016-2017 budgetary exercise seems to be aimed at boosting the rural economy because rural sector particularly the farming activity has come under considerable stress.

    Rural distress

    Roughly 58 per cent of the rural households engage in agriculture and of this, two-thirds are heavily dependent on it. Rural economy in last few years had been on the downward slope as it was marked by slowing wages, poor incomes and lower profits from farming. Poor monsoons for two years in succession had worsened the situation further.

    The government, through this budget, has sought to correct the rural distress by putting villages at the centre of its developmental agenda. The Finance Minister has allocated funds to the tune of Rs 87,765 crores to the rural sector which will be used for creating rural infrastructure such as creation of a dedicated long term ‘Irrigation’ fund with an initial corpus of Rs 20,000 crore.  The budget has an outlay of Rs 19,000 crores which will be spent in this financial year on rural roads as part of the government’s goal to ensure that all habitations are connected by 2019.

    The Finance Minister has also given a push to the rural electrification in the next two years. Goals for rural connectivity and making of electricity available, if fulfilled, have the potential of transforming the rural economy and the government has done well to focus on it.

    Healthy step

    Introduction of a health insurance scheme that proposes a coverage up to Rs one lakh against hospitalisation costs for economically weaker households with senior citizens above the age of 60 eligible for another Rs 30,000 in top-up cover, though inadequate for contemporary critical in-hospital care yet, is a significant step forward.

    Yet another commendable initiative in the budget is to provide all families below the poverty line with cooking gas. This would not only ensure better health for the underprivileged women but would also go a long way for saving the wood for better environment tomorrow.

    The budget, seen from a larger microeconomic angle, has promised to keep the fiscal deficit under committed limits. At the same time, the Finance Minister has stressed the need for more elasticity in dealing with unfavourable economic situations.

    The Finance Minister has proposed the setting up of a committee to have a relook at the entire roadmap mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act of 2003 to explore the possibility of having a target range instead of fixed numbers which may provide the government much needed elbow room to align fiscal expansion or contraction with credit-availability.

    This budget does not offer much to the salaried class barring some sops to lower and middle income families.  The salaried class has also been shocked with the proposal to tax 60 percent of the Employees Provident Fund. The government has dropped enough hints of taking back the proposal of taxing the EPF.

    Shifting emphasis

    While the first two budgets of the Modi government were in a way aimed at pleasing the middle classes which had been instrumental in creating a positive environment for the ruling party to win a huge victory in the 2014 general elections, this budget exercise seems to be a determined attempt to shift the emphasis towards reviving the rural economy and in the process to correct its negative “Suit-Boot ki Sarkar” image which had been projected by the opposition particularly the Congress.

    The Modi government, by its third budget, has given a clear signal that it is ready to traverse the path which was taken by its predecessor UPA government of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  Substantial hiking of the MGNREGS budget to the level of Rs 38,500 crore is concrete evidence that the Modi government has come to accept the utility of the UPA scheme.

    Details of the budget must have deeply disappointed those who had sincerely hoped that Narendra Modi would prove to a transformative leader like former US President Ronald Regan or former British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher or former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

    The budget has sought to send political signals that the Modi Government cares for the poor, marginalised and deprived sections of society but whether it will get the BJP votes in coming assembly elections in four states and one Union Territory is difficult to fathom. Only electoral results will either confirm or negate the government’s strategy of course correction.

    The budget is positive on intents and tall on promises. But it seems to be short rather very short on execution or implementation. The budget document does not give a roadmap as how the government proposes to convert policy measures into measureable realties on ground barring the Finance Minister’s proposal of several bills including the much delayed GST bill.

    Successful passage of more than half a dozen important bills which have the potential of facilitating the execution of the well-meaning policies requires cooperation of the opposition parties including of the Congress but there are no indications from the ruling party that it is serious in creative suitable environment for taking the opposition on board for ensuring the safe passage of the bills through the two houses of parliament. Little over 21 months old Modi government appears to be in a confrontationist mode rather being in a cooperative mood.

    (Dr Satish Misra is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

    Country Reports


    Afghanistan

    Blast near Indian consulate

    On 2 March, a car bomb detonated near the Indian consulate in the Afghan city of Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province. Afghan security forces killed five militants – after the suicide bomber was killed due to hisown strike. Two people were killed and 19 wounded as a result of the attacks. The two victims, according to Reuters, were a police officer and a civilian woman. Consular officials told the BBC that none of their staff were hurt. A spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, Attahullah Khugyani, said, “Their target was the Indian consulate, but our forces shot and killed them all before they reached their target.” The Islamic State, active in Nangarhar, reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

    For more information, see: Militants attack Indian consulate in Jalalabad”, The Times of India, 2 March 2016

    Suicide-bombs kill 20

    On 27 February, two suicide bombing attacks in Afghanistan killed at least 20 people. The first attack occurred in Asadabad, the capital of northeastern Kunar province, killed 14 people and wounded 41 more, according to Kunar’s governor, Wahidullah Kalimzai. Kalimzai further commented, saying, “Most of the victims were civilians and children who were either passing by or playing in the park.”

    For more information, see: Afghanistan: 25 people killed in two separate suicide attacks”, BBC News, 27 February 2016

    Troops quit check-posts

    On 1 March, Dost Mohammad Nayab, the spokesman for the governor of Uruzgan province, reported that roughly 100 Afghan troops were moved from checkpoints in the Shahidi Hassas district of Uruzgan province to the neighboring district of Deh Rawud, also in Uruzgan.

    For more information, see: Afghan troops pull out of more posts in volatile south”, Reuters, 1 March 2016

    Migrants cautioned

    The Austrian government has purchased billboards, posters, bus signage, and other publicly visible materials in an effort to convince Afghans to not come to Austria. According to Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, “The federal government has an upper limit of 37,500 asylum requests this year. In order to get to this number it is necessary to reduce the influx of refugees.”

    For more information, see: Austria plans ad campaign to deter Afghans from seeking asylum”, Reuters, 1 March 2016


    Bangladesh
     

    India seeks action

    Expressing concern over recent incidents of attacks on minorities in Bangladesh, Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has sought swift action against the perpetrators of the crimes by Bangladesh authorities. Indian Minister raised the issue during her meeting with Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali in her office in New Delhi.

    For more information see: “India seeks action against attackers of Bangladesh minorities”, Prothom Alo, 4 March 2016

    Trade upswing with EU

    Charge d’Affaires of the EU delegation in Dhaka Frederic Maduraud this week observed that the EU-Bangladesh ties are moving from a “supplier-buyer relation to a comprehensive and more balanced partnership driven by trade and investment”. The envoy also opined that the trade partnership is at a crossroad.

    For more information see: “EU, Bangladesh trade partnership at a crossroad, says an envoy”, bdnews24.com, 3 March 2016


    Bhutan

    India allots Rs 5490 crore

    Bhutan was allotted Rs 5490 crore in the Union Budget 2016-17 by the Union Finance Ministry of the Government of India. The Union External Affairs Ministry was allotted a budget of Rs 14,662 crore, a cut of Rs 378 crore compared to last year.

    For more information see: “Budget 2016: External Affairs Ministry allocated Rs 14,662 crore”, The Economic Times, 29 February 2016

    Revenue dips

    Swelling expenditure and marginal increase in domestic revenue do not make for a good financial discipline. This means that the country’s revenue, totted up with grants and borrowings, would be inadequate to finance the expenditure and debt servicing. At the beginning of the 11th Plan, the domestic revenue in the planned period was projected at Nu 139 billion. However, the recent projection made in December 2015 revealed that the country could only generate about Nu 123 billion, resulting in a shortfall of Nu 16 billion.

    For more information see: “Domestic revenue could fall short by Nu 16 billion”, Kuensel, 2 March 2016

    Six die in hydro site

    At least six men were confirmed buried alive inside the downstream surge chamber of Punatsangchu Hydropower Project Authority-II powerhouse yesterday when loose soil and muck from above fell on them blocking the entrance to the chamber.

    For more information see: “Six men buried alive inside P II chamber”, Kuensel, 3 March 2016


    India

     Kanhaiya for ‘freedom in India’

    Kanhaiya Kumar declared that what students wanted was “freedom in India, not freedom from India.”  Addressing a huge gathering of students on the campus, said: “It is not azadi from India, it is azadi in India [we want]… from the corrupt practices that are going on inside the country.”

    For more information see: ‘We want freedom in India, not freedom from India’The Hindu, 4 March, 2016

    PM for improved infrastructure

    The ‘Setu Bharatam’ project aims to make all national highways free from railway level crossing by 2019 to ensure road safety. Under the project, 208 rail-over bridges and rail-under bridges will be built at the cost of Rs. 20,800 crore. Also, 1,500 decade-old bridges will be reconstructed and revamped.

    For more information see: “PM Modi launches ‘Setu Bharatam’ project, vows to improve infrastructure”The Hindu, 4 March, 2016

    Kerosene subsidy under DBTK?

    Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s first mega meeting with state government representatives on the ambitious Direct Benefit Transfer in Kerosene (DBTK) scheme ended on Thursday with the Centre promising an initial advance transfer of subsidies to beneficiaries for smooth transition to the cash transfer mechanism.

    For more information see: “Centre mulls advance transfer of kerosene subsidy under DBTKThe Hindu, 4March 2016


    Maldives

    Talks sans Opposition

    All Government parties participated in the revived political negotiations for national reconciliation, initiated by President Abdulla Yameen, but the main Opposition MDP and the rest boycotted the same, sticking to their position on freedom for jailed leaders. The Government said it would try to use the international community to bring the Opposition to the table, but at the same time declared at the UNHRC that Maldives wanted political and judicial reforms but would not be ‘apologetic’ for upholding the law.

    For more information, see: “Maldives begins all-party talks without the opposition”, Maldives Independent, 2 March 2016; “Maldives talks turn into all govt sit-down, offers second chance to opposition”, Haveeru Online, 2 March 2016; “No issue unresolvable in this age: Dr. Shainee”, Miadhu, 3 March 2016; “National reform is an ongoing inevitable process in every nation: Qasim”, Miadhu, 3 March 2016; “Yameen thanks India, Pakistan’s defence of Maldives at Commonwealth”, Maldives Independent, 2 March 2016; “Yameen mocks calls for reform ahead of all-party talks”, Maldives Independent, 2 March 2016; “Maldives pres downplays jailed predecessor’s treatment, says only injection needed”, Haveeru Online, 2 March 2016; “Won’t apologise for upholding law, Maldives tells UN council”, Haveeru Online, 2 March 2016; “Dunya: Will change Maldives into a democracy that protects the rights of everyone”, SunOnline, 1 March 2016; “Maldives parliament rejects debate on Commonwealth body proposals”, Haveeru Online, 29 February 2016; “’Maldives is sitting on a time bomb’”, The Hindu, 4 March 2016;  “MDP deputy leader remanded for ten days”, Maldives Independent, 1 March 2016; “Maldives seeks global help to pressure opposition for talks”, Haveeru Online,  6 March 2016; “Amal Clooney receives death threats, strengthens security”, SunOnline, 6 March 2016; “Supreme Court accuses Amnesty of Islamophobia, hate crimes”, Maldives Independent, 3 March 2016

    Biggest deals signed

    Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad has signed two contracts worth a total of $ 260-million, including a new wing for the India-donated, State-owned Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Capital Male – over which Government’s anti-graft watchdog lost no time in faulting the absence of open-tender process.

    For more information, see: “Finance minister signs biggest ever property deals”, Maldives Independent, 2 March 2016; “Maldives graft watchdog intervenes in bid-less new hospital wing contract”, Haveeru Online, 2 March 2016; “Maldives looks to regulate financial transactions with new payment system law”, Haveeru Online, 1 March 2016; “India’s Oberoi Group to manage resort in Maldives”, Haveeru Online, 5 March 2016; “Oberoi group interest in Maldives sparks global curiosity”, Miadhu, 6 March 2016; “Increase in number of European tourists boosts Maldivian economy”, SunOnline, 2 March 2016; “MDP questions sudden surge in foreign reserves”, Maldives Independent, 1 March 2016


    Myanmar

    Heads roll in scam

    Two senior government officials have been sacked in connection with unregulated jade mining operations in the country’s north, according to a President’s Office representative.  The pair were linked with the illegal import of heavy machinery into mining sites in Hpakant, Kachin State, as jade companies scramble to extract as much of the valuable stone as possible before the next government takes office.

    For more information see: “Senior govt officials sacked after jade investigation”, DVB, 3 March 2016; “Govt heads rolls in mining probe”, Eleven, 3 March 2016; “Two director generals fired after jade probe”, Myanmar Times, 4 March 2016

    $23-bn FDI pledged in USDP rule

    A total of US$23 billion in foreign direct investment has been pledged over the five-year term of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government ending in less than a month’s time, according to Aung Naing Oo of the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), a figure that may exaggerate the actual rise in money entering the country from abroad.

    For more information see: “USDP’s Five-Year Term Sees $23b in FDI: Investment Official”, The Irrawaddy, 3 March 2016

    MPs as chief ministers

    The National League for Democracy (NLD) said on March 3 that it will assign party representatives as chief minister in all 14 states and regions, despite not having a majority in two states. NLD should instead open power-sharing talks with parties in Rakhine and Shan states, where the NLD failed to win a majority.

    For more information see: “NLD to keep all chief ministers jobsMyanmar Times, 4 March 2016


    Nepal

    LPG import talks in Beijing

    The government has initiated fresh efforts to import cooking gas from China. A three-member government team reached Beijing on March 1 to explore the possibility of importing the fuel from the northern neighbour, according to Deepak Subedi, joint-secretary at the Supply Ministry. The team includes joint-secretary Uttam Prasad Nagila and Under-secretary Nawaraj Dhakal and Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) Director Birendra Goit.

    For more information, see: “Govt team in Beijing for fuel-import talks”, The Kathmandu Post.  04 March 2016

    Media pact with Bangladesh

    Nepal and Bangladesh have struck an agreement for the exchange of news and information and mutual cooperation between government media of both countries. The decision to this effect was taken during the meeting between Minister for Information and Communications Sherdhan Rai and his Bangladeshi counterpart Hasanul Haq Inu in the Capital on March 4.

    For more information, see: “Nepal and Bangladesh reach agreement to exchange news among both government media The Kathmandu Post.  04 March 2016

    Pakistan

    Afghan Taliban leadership living in Pak: Sartaj

    Sartaj Aziz, adviser to the Pakistani prime minister on foreign affairs, said in comments at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC on 1 March that members of the Afghan Taliban and their families are living in Pakistan. Aziz believes Islamabad has the power to influence them and bring them to the negotiating table, due in part to the fact that “their leadership is in Pakistan and they get some medical facilities.”

    For more information, see: Afghan Taliban leadership is in Pakistan, admits Aziz”, The Express Tribune, 3 March 2016

    US releases Bin Laden documents

    On 1 March, a cache of 113 documents belonging to Osama bin Laden, recovered after the raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May 2011, were released by the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence Most of the documents are dated between the 2009 and 2011. The documents, translated by U.S. intelligence officials, show bin Laden’s claim to a roughly $29 million personal net worth, nearly all of which he wanted to be spent on “jihad, for the sake of Allah.”

    For more information, see: New bin Laden documents show a suspicious, pressured al Qaeda”, Reuters, 2 March 2016

    Two killed in FATA

    On 1 March, two Pakistani employees of the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar were killed when an IED exploded on a street in Pakistan’s FATA region. The two employees, Faisal Khan, an anti-narcotics official, and Abid Shah, a driver for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, were out conducting a drug eradication mission in FATA’s Mohmand Agency, according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Four other people were wounded, including two Pakistani security officials. Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban’s Jamaat-e-Ahrar faction took responsibility for the attack.

    For more information, see: Roadside Bomb in Pakistan Kills 2 Employees of US Consulate”, The New York Times, 1 March 2016

    Taseer’s killer executed

    On 29 February, Pakistan executed Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a security guard to the former governor of Punjab province, Salmaan Taseer, after Qadri was convicted of fatally shooting Taseer in opposition to Taseer’s anti-blasphemy stance and support of a jailed Christian woman. Around 50,000 demonstrators who supported Qadri’s action as a defense of Islam gathered in in Rawalpindi – the site of Qadri’s hometown and the site of his execution — while Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and other cities saw substantial gatherings of Taseer supporters.

    For more information, see: Pakistan Salman Taseer murder: Thousands mourn at Mumtaz Qadri funeral”, BBC News, 1 March 2016


    Sri Lanka

    India ‘surprised’ by Rajapaksa’s stand on ETCA

    Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Y K Sinha, has expressed ‘surprise’ over former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and many ministers from his Government expressing reservations to the proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) between the two countries, recalling it was their government that had commenced negotiations on the same. “I hesitate to get into the political controversy” but he felt “constrained” to join the debate because “I do not think we should let naysayers take all the public space on this issue without anyone else trying to put the facts,” he told a function organized by the India-Sri Lanka Society in Colombo.

    For more information, see: “Indian envoy ‘surprised’ over MR’s comments against ETCA”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 March 2016; “Indian HC tosses diplomacy to the wind…castigates Jt. Opp., takes swipe at MR, GL”, The Island, 5 March 2016; “ETCA: Indian technocrats here to educate Lankan businessmen on their requirements”, The Island, 2 March 2016; “Minister orders probe into attacks on Lankan fishermen”, The Island, 29 February 2016; “Navy commander issues warning to local fishermen not to stray into Indian waters”, The Island, 2 March 2016; “SL fisherman recounts attacks by their Indian counterparts”, The Island, 2 March 2016; “Look at China as an opportunity; not as a threat: CBK”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 March 2016; “Stopping Port City Project has affected credit rating: Gammanpila”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 March 2016

    US wants PTA to go

    At the first-ever Sri Lanka-US Partnership Dialogue at Washington, the hosts told visiting Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera that they wanted full implementation of commitments to UNHRC, including an early repeal of the war-time Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and return of the remaining lands to Tamil owners in the war region.

    For more information, see: “Return remaining lands swiftly-US to SL”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 March 2016; “Wigneswaran seeks India’s help on new Constitution”, The Island, 1 March 2016; “Singapore to help SL in restructuring its foreign ministry”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 March 2016

    MR anticipates arrest

    Claiming that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe-led UNP partner in the Government was trying to destroy his SLFP ally, led by President Maithripala Sirisena, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he and his son would be arrested soon on some charge or the other.

    For more information, see: “UNP attempting to destroy SLFP: MR”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 March 2016; “Mahinda: I’ll be arrested soon”, The Island, 28 Februrary 2016; “Yoshitha suspended”, The Island, 1 March 2016; “Lascille sacked from Presidential Commission”, The Island, 2 March 2016

    Primary Documentation

    Bhutan

    Press Releases

    Lyonchhen meets the Ambassadors of Myanmar, Mongolia, Slovenia and Serbia, Cabinet Secretariat, 1 March 2016

    Bibliography

    Afghanistan

    Opinion pieces

    Waslat Hasrat-Nazimi, “Russia’s new role in Afghanistan”, DW, 2 March 2016

    Sune Engel Rasmussen, “I never heard from them again: an Afghan family’s doomed journey”, The Guardian, 27 February 2016

    Mujib Mashal, “Facing the Taliban and His Past, an Afghan Leader Aims for a Different Ending”, The New York Times, 28 February 2016

    Bangladesh

    Opinion Pieces

    Jeremy Hance, “Tiger country? Scientists uncover wild surprises in tribal Bangladesh”, The Guardian, 1 March 2016

     Bhutan

    Editorial

    Kuensel, “Give us so that all can have”, Kuensel, 2 March 2016

    Opinion Pieces

    Karma Ura, “The Prince and Bhutan’s Future”, Kuensel, 29 February 2016

    India

    Mihir S Sharma, “A forward-looking Budget, finally”, Business Standard, 4March 2016

    Rathin Roy, “Of Tagore, Tiruvalluvar and pet lovers”,Business Standard,4March 2016

    Rakesh Sinha, “A Melting Pot”, Indian Express, 4 March 2016

    Maldives

    Opinion Pieces

    Ahmed Rifaee Abdul Sattar, “Save our waves”, Maldives Independent, 1 March 2016

    Myanmar

    Opinion Pieces

    Joern Kristensen, “Transforming Myitsone into a win-win”, Myanmar Times, 4 March 2016

    Andy Hall, “Grim Future Awaits Migrant Workers”, The Irrawaddy, 1 March 2016

    Nepal

    Editorial

    Republica “Nuance, please”, Republica, 04 March 2016

    Opinion Pieces

    Jagriti Bhattarai “Out of the shadows”, The Kathmandu Post.  04 March 2016

    Pakistan

    Opinion Pieces

    Khurram Husain, “Burying the assassin”, Dawn, 3 March 2016

    Ayesha Siddiqa, “Of heroes and villains”, The Express Tribune, 2 March 2016

    Talat Masood, “India and Pakistan-prisoners of the past”, The Express Tribune, 1 March 2016

    Zahid Hussain, “Talking the Afghan talks”, Dawn, 1 March 2016

    Sri Lanka

    Opinion Pieces

    Prof G L Peiris, “Sri Lanka’s economic relations with India: Myth and reality”, Daily Mirror Online, 3 March 2016

    Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, “The last decade and the next six months”, Daily Mirror Online, 2 March 2016

    Prof Priyan Dias, “Will the western megapolis be a threat to our national unity?”, The Island, 2 March 2016

    N Sathiya Moorthy, “Walking the extra mile can be tough: India and Sri Lanka yet to resolve trade issues”, South Asia Monitor, 2 March 2016

    Eran Wickreamaratne, Deputy Minister, “Diverse views on ETCA”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 March 2016

    Jehan Perera, “Need for both external and internal champions of reconciliation process”, The Island, 1 March 2016

    N Sathiya Moorthy, “It’s back, the demand for a separate Muslim Province”, The Sunday Leader, 28 February 2016


    Contributors:

    Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kriti M. Shah & Mihir Bhonsale

    Bangladesh: Dr Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

    Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale

    India: Shubh Soni & Pushan Das

    Maldives & Sri Lanka: N. Sathiya Moorthy

    Nepal: Dr Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury & Sreeparna Banerjee

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