MonitorsPublished on Mar 13, 2015
Popularity of India as an education destination for Bhutanese students is a reference-point for close bilateral ties. Today, as many as one third of Bhutan's student population are pursuing higher education in India,
Bhutan: Education in India
< class="heading1">Analysis

Popularity of India as an education destination for Bhutanese students is a reference-point for close bilateral ties. Today, as many as one third of Bhutan’s student population are pursuing higher education in India, but lack of effective regulation could play a spoil-sport in relations at the highest level.

A stray incident in a Bengaluru college where as many as 195 Bhutanese students face an uncertain future needs an early resolution. The private college in question, Kuensel reports, had issued a circular on February 20 asking all Bhutanese students admitted through the college’s financial aid programme to pay hostel and tuition fees along with examination fees.

The students and a Bhutan-based consultancy firm through which the students had enrolled complained that the college has reneged on the agreement to waive off the hostel and tuition fees. The college has put the blame on the consultancy firm, putting the students in a limbo. Eight students have already left Bengaluru for Bhutan.

India as a destination

The education sector reflects the friendly relations Bhutan and India. Bhutan’s indigenous higher education institutions, a fairly recent phenomenon in Bhutan, India has over the years played a major role in human resources development of Bhutan.

Role of higher education has been the key to cooperation between the two countries, as identified by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee during his visit to the country last year. Nearly, 5,000 Bhutanese students study in India today and 800 of these are benefiting from scholarships.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the doubling of the Nehru-Wangchuck Scholarship last year. India government has many other bursaries; leaving alone many non-governmental and private-sector sponsored bursaries.

The blame game between the college management and the consultancy firm shows that there are loopholes in the system that allows ambiguity to prevail. What is the validity of the agreement and who has gone back on the promise, the college management or the consultancy firm, are crucial questions that need answered through an enquiry.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Government of India must intervene and address this problem and stop students from returning to Bhutan.

No monitoring

Bhutan’s adult and higher education department has to institute an enquiry into the consultancy firm that sent these 193 students to the college. Monitoring through periodic inspections of educational consultancy firms needs also to be revisited and made more effective.

Temporary suspension of the consultancy’s licence, till the time the department completes the enquiry is an important immediate measure. Other consultancies within Bhutan’s students migrating to India and other countries must also be inspected for their authenticity and collaborations.

It is no denying that several higher educational institutes in India run or function in a way that contradicts the University Grants Commission (UGC) directives or even educational laws. The UGC website runs alerts with names of such unrecognised universities and colleges in India. However, education is on concurrent list in India and hence laws of federal states also give recognition to colleges and universities.

Bhutan must incorporate such alerts provided by Indian agencies like the UGC with a dedicated portal for disseminating them to students. The educational fairs that Bhutan allows universities and colleges to hold in which India features regularly must also be examined for the claims the colleges make.

Future of cooperation

Cooperation between India and Bhutan is set to intensify and also in the education sector in the years to come and the number of students studying in India is in the future going to continue being one third of the total student population of the country.

The main drivers for most Bhutanese students preferring India are lower costs (one rupee is equivalent to one ngultrum) and availability of scholarships. Also, Bhutanese students enjoy the friendly atmosphere that they find in India.

However, unless both New Delhi and federal states of India along with the Thimphu take measures to increase transparency, accountability and efficiency in regulating admission and study of Bhutanese students in India, incidents like the Bengaluru College would continue to have an impact on education cooperation between the two countries.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India: Tack-change to impart momentum to economic reforms

Satish Misra

Learning lessons from its massive defeat at the Delhi Assembly elections last month, the BJP-led NDA government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is working hard to push its legislative agenda through the two houses of national Parliament.

In a bit late realisation of the importance of the opposition in the parliamentary form of democracy, the Modi government has decided to change tacks for fulfilling the ruling party’s election promises.

After assuming power on May 26 last year, the government has not been very successful in getting approval of the two houses of its Bills as the monsoon and winter sessions of Parliament failed to transact much official business.

The NDA government, enjoying huge majority in the lower house after the BJP’s massive victory at the 2014 general elections, was possibly suffering from arrogance of numbers because its leaders had begun to think that it would be able to bulldoze its important Bills by virtue of its massive majority in the directly elected lower house, Lok Sabha.

Many of the NDA ministers held the view that since the upper house (Rajya Sabha) was not elected by the electorate directly but by the directly-elected members of the state legislative assemblies (MLAs) it cannot - rather should not - create hurdles, delay or block Bills which had been approved by the Lok Sabha.

But the defeat of the BJP in Delhi assembly elections in February and subsequently its becoming the part of the state government in Jammu & Kashmir in a coalition arrangement with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) seems to have brought a change in the ruling style of the BJP-led NDA government.

This became more than evident on March 12 when the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was passed by the Rajya Sabha. The Bill, that seeks to raise the FDI limit from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in the insurance sector, was stuck in the upper house since 2008.

A spirit of bipartisanship was visible as both the ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress came together to pass the Bill. The government addressed the opposition concerns and it was adopted after the Congress was satisfied that the Bill had all the features which were there in its original Bill that had been introduced in 2008 and had failed to get the approval because of the opposition from the BJP which occupied opposition benches from 2004 till 2014. It is the first economic Bill that has got support from the opposition since the NDA government was formed.

The budget session of Parliament had begun on February 23. The government has massive legislative agenda apart from getting the parliamentary approval of the 2015-16 union budget.

The government issued three ordinances in the last week of December last year after the winter session of Parliament had ended on December 23. These ordinances, expected to push its vital economic agenda, related to enhancing FDI in the insurance sector, auction of coal mines and amendment to the land acquisition law.

These ordinances need to be made into Acts and for that bills on related issues must be passed through the two houses of Parliament. The government had introduced the coal mines Bill in the Lok Sabha on March 2.

The Bill to raise the FDI cap in the insurance sector to 49 per cent was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 3 by Minister of Finance Jayant Sinha which seeks to replace the ordinance. An identical Bill is already pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Real problem

The amendment to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 10 amidst loud protests from the opposition MPs.

The Opposition MPs objected to its introduction of the Bill for raising the FDI cap in the insurance sector to 49 percent saying that it violated the rule book as a similar Bill was pending in the upper house. Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Roy argued that never before in countries parliamentary history was a Bill introduced while an identical Bill was pending in the other house.

The Government was keen to introduce the Bill in the Rajya Sabha and was interested in withdrawing the old Bill but the Opposition did not allow this to happen. While the Government faced stiff opposition in moving the Bills as the entire opposition was against it but the Bill will eventually be passed by the Lok Sabha as the ruling NDA enjoys majority in the lower house.

The government was expected to face the real problem in the Rajya Sabha where the Government does not have the majority and the combined opposition has an upper hand. That is why the Government could not withdraw a Bill on hiking the FDI cap in the insurance sector from the Rajya Sabha despite its best efforts. The government made amends to its earlier stance and got the cooperation of the Congress to get the upper house approval.

Fate of other two ordinances continue to hang in balance as the Bills on Mines and Mineral Amendment Act and the Coal Mines has gone to a select committees with a deadline to report back to the house on or before March 18.

After it comes back to the house, it would have to be passed by the Rajya Sabha and if there are amendments to the Bill that has been approved by the Lok Sabha then it would have to be adopted by the lower house again. The entire process would have to complete by March 20 when the parliament is scheduled to go a four week recess. The government can extend the session by couple of days if it does not want ordinances to lapse.

In order to avoid an embarrassment, the government would need to do a lot of tight ripe walk and pursue its legislative agenda in a spirit of give and take. A beginning has been made on the Insurance Bill and now the same would pave the way for further government business.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Criticism against peace talks

There has been growing criticism within Afghanistan about the prospects of peace talks with the Taliban. This past week, former president Hamid Karzai and the chairman of the Afghan Senate Fazel Hadi Muslimyar have expressed reservations about the planned peace talks with the Afghan insurgents.

In particular, concerns have been raised about the intentions of Pakistan in this process and there is strong opposition to any concessions being granted to Pakistan in the process.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Karzai and Senate Chief Join Critics of New Peace Talks", Tolo News, 10 March 2015; "Hamid Karzai: Afghanistan in danger of sliding ’under thumb’ of Pakistan" The Guardian, 9 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Talks on refugees

A delegation from Afghanistan arrived in Pakistan this week to discuss the state of Afghan refugees in the country. The past few weeks have seen an increase in the arrest and deportation of Afghans based in Pakistan. The Afghan delegation was headed by Sayed Hussain Alemi Balkhi, the newly appointed Minister for Refugees and Repatriation.

During his visit, he demanded that those arrested Afghans who do not have any criminal charges against them should be released soon. He also stressed on the importance of all Afghan refugees returning home, but claimed that Afghanistan needed more time to make arrangements for them.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Afghan delegation in Pakistan discussing refugees", Khaama Press, 9 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Economy stagnates

According to the Central Statistics Organisation, economic stagnation and rising inflation have been characteristic features of the last six months. There has been a one percent increase in the national inflation rate and a decrease in the per capita purchasing power capacity of the Afghans. Economic analysts have argued that the lack of a decisive and coherent development strategy have been the main reasons for such economic failures.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "National Economy Stumbles During First Half Year of New Government", , Tolo News, 11 March 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BNP hartal call

The Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition has called for a 72-hour nation-wide hartal, to press their demands, starting with fresh parliamentary elections.

Reacting to BNP leader Khaleda Zia’s statement at a news conference, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has declared that the Government would not talk to Khaleda Zia.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "72-hr countrywide hartal from Sunday", The Independent, 13 March 2015; "No talks with Khaleda, reiterates Hasina", The Daily Star, 13 March 2015; "Election as per constitutional framework: Ashraf", The Independent,13 March 2015; "DCC, CCC polls before June: CEC", , The Independent, 13 March 2015; "No confidence in Judge: HC hearing on Khaleda’s pleas next month", The Daily Star, 13 March 2015; "Hasina asks Khaleda to attend court hearings",,, 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Lower growth rate

In the light of nation-wide political violence since early this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted a six percent growth rate for the nation, lower than earlier predictions.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "IMF cuts economic forecast for Bangladesh, citing political violence",, 11 March 2015; "UK releases Bangladesh’s human rights and democracy report on 2014",, 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Seven killed in roof collapse

At least seven persons were killed and around 50 injured when a roof collapsed at a construction site in Bagerhat.

The roof collapsed when workers were pouring concrete over it.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "7 killed, 50 injured", The Daily Star, 13 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian firm to build power plants

India’s Reliance group will be investing $ 1.5 billion, to be doubled gradually, to set up four power-plants with a total capacity of 3,000 MW electricity, the Prime Minister’s Energy Adviser, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, has said.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India’s Reliance Group to build four power plants in Bangladesh",, 12 March 2015; "Government okays Chinese contractors for National Data Centre",, 11 March 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Students face problem

Eight out of the 195 Bhutanese students of the Indo Asian Academy in Bengaluru city of India have decided to leave their country as the college asked the students to pay the fees in full from the current semester. The college is preparing a new report after allegedly reneging on the agreement.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Situation still unresolved", Kuensel Online, 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Civil servants’ performance

Performance agreement deliberations for the new financial year would begin soon with the deadline to submit the deadline to submit annual performance agreement got over on 8 March for central agencies.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Civil servants performance to be measured from next FY", Kuensel Online, 11 March 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Lok Sabha passes land bill

The lower house of the Parliament, the Lok Sabha, passed the controversial land acquisition bill on 10 March after the BJP government accepted the nine amendments suggested by the opposition and persuaded its allies to support the legislation.

The bill, however, will face a greater challenge in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP does not enjoy a majority. In fact, the Congress, the Trinamool Congress, and the Samajwadi Party, staged a walkout in Lok Sabha to protest against the bill which they consider will worsen the already meagre condition of the country’s farmers.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Lok Sabha passes Land Acquisition Bill with nine amendments, Congress stages walk out", The Indian Express, 10 March 2015; "Cong blocks roads, stalls trains to protest against land acquisition bill", The Times of India, 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Insurance Bill cleared

The government implemented its first major reform policy by securing the passage of the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2015 through the Rajya Sabha where it faces a hostile opposition in majority, on 12 March. The new legislation raises the ceiling for foreign investment in the insurance sector from 26 percent to 46 percent.

Foreign investment in the pension sector has also risen as a result of the new law. The government claims that the entry of foreign players will boost infrastructure funding; arguing that the level of insurance capital available through domestic sources in insufficient to cater to future claims of the degree associated with large infrastructure projects.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Parliament passes insurance bill in a major boost to Modi’s reform agenda" Live Mint, 12 March 2015; "Insurance bill secures parliamentary approval", Hindustan Times, 13 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Big money from telecom auction

Bidding for the communication spectrum has exceeded Rs 1 trillion, revealed communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on 12 March, adding that majority of the service areas witnessed premium above the reserve price. Some of the prominent bidders included Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, and Reliance Jio.

Private companies showed interest in 3G spectrum as well, after lukewarm response in the initial days. Experts remain divided, however, on whether the enormous cost of acquiring spectrum bandwidth will lead to an increase in tariffs.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Telecom spectrum auction bids cross Rs 1 lakh crore mark", The Economic Times, 13 March 2015; "Spectrum auction bids cross Rs1 trillion mark after 49 rounds",Live Mint, 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi for Indian Ocean nations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a five-day trip to Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, and Mauritius to enhance India’s economic and military relations with island states located strategically in the Indian Ocean region. China’s increased presence to bolster its so-called ’string of pearls’ strategy has concerned New Delhi which reflects its renewed interest in the region.

India launched a coastal surveillance radar project in Seychelles, gifted a Dornier surveillance aircraft and received an island on lease for maritime surveillance. In Mauritius, Modi offered a $500 million concessional line of credit for infrastructure projects. Finally, five pacts were signed with Sri Lanka, related to visa regulations, and setting up a museum on Rabindranath Tagore, among others.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "PM Narendra Modi in Seychelles: India launches measures to boost security ties", The Economic Times, 12 March 2015; "India inks five pacts with Mauritius, offers $500 mn credit for key infrastructure projects", India Today, , 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ex-PM summoned in graft case

Former two-time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was summoned by the Delhi High Court for his alleged role in the coal blocks corruption case on 11 March. Singh was asked to explain his role in the allocation of coal blocks located in Odisha to the firm Hindalco which were later found to have been made under dubious circumstances.

The decision follows last year’s cancellation of 214 coal blocks after the Supreme Court found the review process to be arbitrary and had declared it illegal. The Congress responded by registering its support to Singh. The party’s President, Sonia Gandhi, led around 100 senior members and marched from its office to the former Prime Minister’s residence to express solidarity.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Accused No. 6 Manmohan Singh: Court summons former PM over Hindalco coal block", The Indian Express, 12 March 2015; "I am upset, Manmohan Singh says after court summons him as accused in coal scam case", The Times of India, 11 March 2015; "Top Congress Lawyers for Manmohan Singh, Summoned by Court in Coal Scam Case", NDTV, 12 March 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nasheed given 13-year term

In a fast-tracked delivery of verdict only hours after completing what is seen as a hurriedly-conducted trial, a three-judge Criminal Court Bench has held former Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed guilty of terrorism charge and sentenced him to 13 years in prison.

If upheld by the High Court and/or the Supreme Court, Nasheed would be disqualified from contesting future elections, though a presidential pardon might grant him freedom.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison", Minivan News, 13 March 2015; "Nasheed jailed for 13 years for terrorism", Haveeru Online, 13 March 2015; "Nasheed sentenced to 13 years in jail", SunOnline, March 13, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India ’deeply concerned’

Accompanying the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his five-day, three-nation tour of Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin tweeted that India was ’deeply concerned’ about the current developments in Maldives.

The US and a few other western nations and organisations have said that the due process was not followed in Nasheed’s case.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nations told to stay away

In an obvious reference to their indictment of the Maldivian processes in the Nasheed trial case, a tough-talking President Abdulla Yameen has reiterated his Government’s position that foreigners from faraway lands cannot instruct the country.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Foreigners from "faraway lands" cannot instruct Maldives: President", Haveeru Online, 9 March 2015; "Prosecution of people charged with crime is not persecution of politicians- President Yameen", Miadhu, 10 March 2015; "No room for emotion: President Yameen", Haveeru Online, 11 March 2015; "Attempt made to table Maldives for discussion in CMAG: Dhunya", Haveeru Online, 12 March 2014; "PPM accuses international community of "double standards and hypocrisy" in Nasheed’s trial", Minivan News, 11 March 2015

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "US, EU, and UK concerned over lack of due process in Nasheed trial", Minivan News, 13 March 2015; "UK Conservative Party’s human rights body calls for sanctions on Maldives", Minivan News, 12 March 2015; "Nasheed’s lawyers quit", Minivan News, 9 March 2015; ""This is not a court of law. This is injustice," Nasheed tells the Criminal Court", Minivan News, 9 March 2015; "Judges decide to take Judge Abdulla’s testimony", Miadhu, 10 March 2015; "Defence Minister Jaleel leads "Sentence Nasheed now" motorbike rally", Minivan News, 8 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">INS Gomati in Maldives

To participate in a joint surveillance patrol of Maldives’ EEZ, an Indian naval vessel, INS Gomati has arrived in the country.

INS Gomati will be in the Maldivian waters, 11-16 March.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Indian navy ship Gomati arrives in Maldives", Minivan News, 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Stronger growth, higher debt

In its annual report on Maldivian economy, the IMF has said that nation’s economic growth remained strong, but the public debt ratio was also going up.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Economic growth relatively strong, but public debt ratio high: IMF", Minivan News, 8 March 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Crack-down on protest

The international community expressed deep concern over the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in Letpadan, Pegu Division of the country on 10 March that saw more than 100 demonstrators arrested and many injured by baton-wielding police. The student’s were protesting against the new education law. The government has ordered an enquiry into the incident.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Int’l Community Deeply Concerned by Police Brutality", The Irrawaddy, 11 March 2015; "Official inquiry to be held into police crackdown", Mizzima, 11 March 2015; "Govt Not Telling the Truth on Student Crackdown", Eleven Myanmar, 11 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China beefs up security

The Chinese People’s Libration Army, infantry and air force have upped their vigil on the border with Myanmar as clashes between the Myanmar army and ethnic rebel continue in Kokang region. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson alleged that on 8 March stray bombs hit the Chinese side and damaged a civilian residence.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Kokang conflict: China beef up vigilance at the border", Democratic Voice of Burma, 11 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Six survive landslide

Six persons have been found alive a day after being buried in a collapsed mound of earth in a jade-mine in northern Kachin State on 6 March, though the number of people missing is still unknown. The incident occurred at a site operated by PLO Company in Hpakant District’s Matmong village.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Six found alive, more missing in Hpakant landslide", Democratic Voice of Burma, 9 March 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Talks on basis of accord’

The ruling Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML have decided to hold negotiations with the opposition parties on disputed issues in statute writing on the basis of understanding reached between the four major political forces on January 19.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Talks on basis of Jan 19 accord: NC, UML", Republica, 13 March 2015; "Constitution drafting still uncertain: Nepal", eKantipur, 12 March 2015; "NC, UML to hold decisive talks with oppen alliance soon", Republica, 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Trade Fair opens

The fourth Nepal International Trade Fair threw open its doors on Thursday with 340 domestic and foreign stalls vying to lure visitors with their displays of varied products ranging from garments, footwear, herbal products, handicrafts, building and construction materials and pharmaceuticals to decorative items, plastic products, food and beverages.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal International Trade Fair opens", eKantipur, 13 March 2015; "Nepal International Trade Fair begins today", Republica, 13 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Economic hub in South Asia’

Diplomats have said that investment in infrastructures and connectivity can help Nepal become an economic hub in South Asia at the ’Annual Economic Diplomacy Conference 2015’ organized by Asian Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs (AIDIA) in Kathmandu.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "’Nepal can be economic hub in South Asia’", Republica, 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US donates equipment

The US today provided heavy engineering equipment worth $1.8 million to Nepal for developing infrastructure at a key training centre involved in preparing units and individuals for peacekeeping missions.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "US provides $1.8 million engineering equipment to Nepal", The Economic Times, 7 March 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">HC orders Lakhvi’s release

The Islamabad High Court has declared the detention order issued against Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, one of the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack illegal and has ordered his release. India has responded to this order by stating that it is Pakistan’s responsibility to keep Lakhvi in jail.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "IHC orders release of Lakhvi", The Nation, 13 March 2015; "To keep Lakhvi in jail is Pakistan’s responsibility: India", The Nation, 13 March 2015; "Mumbai attacks ’mastermind’: IHC declares Lakhvi’s detention illegal", The Express Tribune, 13 March 2015; "Lakhvi’s detention declared void by IHC", Dawn, 13 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">End rift for talks, Taliban told

Senior representatives of the Afghan Taliban visited Islamabad for secret discussions with Pakistan after signalling their willingness to enter talks to end Afghanistan’s war. Pakistan gave them a blunt message that said that the Taliban must end the rift between its top two leaders or talks might not get off the ground.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "End rifts or talks won’t take off, Pakistan tells Afghan Taliban", Dawn, 13 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Banned groups ally with TTP

Banned militant groups, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Lashkar-e-Islam, have pledged support to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which killed over 130 schoolchildren on 16 December in an attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Lashkar-i-Islam merges into TTP", Dawn, 13 March 2015; "Banned Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, Lashkar-e-Islam form alliance with TTP", The News International, 13 March 2015

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India for 13-’Plus’: PM

On the first Sri Lanka visit by an Indian Prime Minister, incumbent Narendra Modi told the host Parliament that the nation should go beyond the Thirteenth Amendment on power-devolution to help resolve the vexatious ethnic issue.

The two nations signed four agreements during the visit, during which Modi had separate discussions with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, political party leaders, including the three denominational Tamil-speaking communities and local enterprise, before visiting war-ravaged North and East, and also the Buddhist holy shrine at Anuradhapura.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Modi: ’Go beyond 13A’", The Island, 13 March 2015; "India-Sri Lanka cooperation vital for maritime security - Modi", Ceylon Today, 13 March 2015; "A new page in Indo-Lanka cooperation - President Sirisena", The Island, 13 March 2015; "’Comprehensive dialogue’ is what we need-TNA ’13-A no solution’", The Nation, 13 March 2015; "Modi’s visit can speed up reconciliation process - GTF", The Island, 13 March 2015; "Mahinda to meet Modi", Daily Mirror Online, 13 March 2015; "Rajapaksa says RAW rallied opposition to his presidency", The Hindu, 13 March 2015; "Modi Likely to Meet Rajapaksa in Damage Control Exercise", New Indian Express, 12 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’No’ to external probe, still

On a visit to London, to participate in a Commonwealth function as the current CHOGM Chair, President Maithripala Sirisena told his British hosts and political Opposition that his Government would not let foreign investigators on ’war crimes’ on its soil, but would work within the LLRC framework and domestic legal schemes, to bring those held ’accountable’ to books.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Maithri tells Cameron: SL courts will handle domestic inquiry findings", The Island, 11 March 2015; "Domestic war crimes dossier out before Sept. Geneva sessions, President tells Labour leader", The Island, 11 March 2015; "President to solicit British support for reconciliation", The Island, 8 March 2015; "UN hopes for ’credible’ Lanka reconciliation process", The Island, 11 March 2015; "Exclusive: Cameron on his meeting with Maithripala", Daily Mirror Online, 10 March 2015; "US is seeking meaningful action", Colombo Gazette, 11 March 2015; "New war crimes campaign backed by some British MPs gets underway", The Island, 9 March 2015; "London: Only 9 Tamils Protested Against ’War Criminal’ Sirisena", Colombo Telegraph, 8 March 2015; "Not safe for Tamil diaspora to return to Sri Lanka says TNA spokesperson", Tamil Guardian, 8 March 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Coalition heat up

Relations between President Maithripala Sirisena-led SLFP-UPFA and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s UNP has begun heating up over the need for completing their collective 100-day programme, including electoral reforms, before ordering fresh parliamentary polls on 23 April, as promised.

The problems have been compounded by former President and senior SLFP-UPFA leader Mahinda Rajapaksa drawing huge crowds wherever he has visited in the large Sinhala heartland, from Katargama in the South to Anuradhapura in the North Central Province, and with no clue if he would want to emerge as a prime ministerial hopeful.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "UPFA constituents to meet President Sirisena today", The Island, 13 March 2015; "Ranil, Maithri to hold talks UNP’s stance on General Election", The Nation, 14 March 2015; "UNP WC wants parliament dissolved on April 23", The Island, 11 March 2015; "SLFP opposed to constitutional changes sans electoral reforms", The Island, 11 March 2015; "Maithri UNP and not SLFP President - UNP", The Island, 9 March 2015; "Anuradhapura flocks around Mahinda", Ceylon Today, 13 March 2015; "If this is ’Yahapalanaya,’ may the gods have mercy on us - MR", Daily Mirror Online, 12 March 2015; "Former President laments current leaders’ obsession with vengeance", The Island, 11 March 2015; "Passports of GR, three others impounded", The Island, March 9, 2015; "I did everything according to the law: Gota", Daily Mirror Online, 10 March 2015

Primary Documentation


Prime Minister’s Media Statement during visit to Sri Lanka, Ministry of External Affairs, 13 March 2015

Prime Minister’s Remarks at the Commissioning of Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Barracuda in Mauritius, Ministry of External Affairs, 12 March 2015

Text of the PM’s remarks on the Commissioning of Coast Ship Barracuda, website of the Prime Minister’s Office, 12 March 2015

List of Agreements/MoUs signed between India and Mauritius during the visit of the Prime Minister to Mauritius, Ministry of External Affairs, 11 March 2015

Prime Minister’s Media Statement during visit to Mauritius, Ministry of External Affairs, 11 March 2015

Keynote Address by External Affairs Minister at the Inaugural Session of Delhi Dialogue VII, New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs,11 March 2015

Prime Minister’s media statement during his visit to Seychelles, Ministry of External Affairs, 11 March 2015

Kapil Sibal (former Union Minister, Congress), "Government gains, country loses", The Indian Express, 10 March 2015

Leslee Udwin (interview of director of the documentary India’s Daughter), "’I am not a fly-by-night operator’", The Hindu, 9 March 2015

Brinda Karat (Rajya Sabha, CPM), "Face the truth", The Indian Express, 6 March 2015


Press Release of forging ties between Myanmar and Vietnam, Myanmar President’s Office, 12 March 2015


First Pakistan-EU Local Human Rights Dialogue, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 13 March 2015


Fifth Round of the Annual Bilateral Political Consultations Held in Canberra, Australia 11-12 March 2015, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 11 March 2015

The Adviser Meets the Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 10 March 2015

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister receives German Human Rights Commissioner, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 9 March 2015

President’s Visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 9 March 2015




"Hamid Karzai: Afghanistan in danger of sliding ’under thumb’ of Pakistan", The Guardian, 9 March 2015

Mujib Mashal and Azam Ahmed, "Afghan Peace Efforts Reopen Wounds Over Pakistan", The New York Times, 8 March 2015

Opinion Pieces

Musa Khan Jalalzai, "The Afghan Army is Joining IS", The Daily Times, 10 March 2015

Tamim Asey, "Afghanistan: Five Tasks for Ghani’s Crucial Visit", The Diplomat, 9 March 2015

Christine Roehrs, "The Refugee Dilemma: Afghans in Pakistan between expulsion and failing aid schemes", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 9 March 2015

"Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Taliban", The Economist, 7 March 2015


Opinion Pieces

Haroon Habib, "Mamata’s Dhaka visit? Emotion and realities", The Daily Observer, 4 March 2015


Kuensel, "For a healthy and sustainable economic growth", Kuensel Online, 9 March 2015


Opinion Pieces

Hartosh Singh Bal, "Haryana’s Decision to Include the Bhagavad Gita in School Curriculum Skews the Idea of Education", Caravan, 11 March 2015

Jagdish Bhagwati, "No one is above the law", The Hindu, 10 March 2015

Christophe Jaffrelot, "Caste and the Parivar", The Indian Express, 9 March 2015

Suhas Palshikar, "From Congress to AAP", The Indian Express, 6 March 2015


N Sathiya Moorthy, "Feeble light at the end of the tunnel?",, 7 March 2015


Nay Htun Naing, "Delayed Constitutional Amendment Places Myanmar in Limbo", Eleven Myanmar, 9 March 2015

Kyaw Zwa Moe, "Young People, The Old Guard and Enduring Antagonism", The Irrawaddy, 11 March 2015


Opinion Pieces

Kanak Mani Dixit, "He Does Protest Too Much", eKantipur, 13 March 2015

Bhoj Raj Poudel, "Breaking the Silence", eKantipur, 12 March 2015

Bhagirath Basnet, "Separate the two", Republica, 11 March 2015

Amuda Mishra, "Big on words", Republica, 10 March 2015

Kedar Maharajan, "Minority voice", Republica, 10 March 2015


Opinion Pieces

Huma Sattar, "China and Pakistan’s All-Weather Friendship", The Diplomat, 12 March 2015

Akhilesh Pillalamarri, "Why Saudi Arabia Needs Pakistan", The Diplomat, 12 March 2015

Shivam Vij, "What incentive does India have to pursue peace with Pakistan?", Scroll, 11 March 2015

Raza Rumi, "The need to review our India policy", The Express Tribune, 11 March 2015

Sri Lanka

Ameen Izzadeen, "South Asian great game: Do not modify our non-aligned policy", Daily Mirror Online, 13 March 2015

Dr Ranga Kalansooriya, "Fishing in troubled waters needs a certain kind of finesse", Daily Mirror Online, 13 March 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "India-Sri Lanka relations and PM Wickremesinghe’s interview",, 12 March 2015

Dr Steve Creech, "Plain and simple, the fishery dispute between India and Sri Lanka is a legal issue Half right, but mostly wrong" Daily Mirror Online 12 March 2015

Jehan Perera, "Tamil diaspora becoming part of larger SL community", The Island,11 March 2015

Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, "Identity and the Sri Lankan political order", The Island, 10 March 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Sri Lanka: Reforms first?", The Sunday Leader, 8 March 2015

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan : Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh : Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & Myanmar : Mihir Bhonsale;
India: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti;
Maldives & Sri Lanka : N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal : Pratnashree;
Pakistan : Taruni Kumar

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.


Mihir Bhonsale

Mihir Bhonsale

Mihir Bhonsale was a Junior Fellow in the Strategic Studies Programme and Indian Neighbourhood Initiative of ORF.

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