MonitorsPublished on Nov 08, 2012
The landlocked Kingdom of Bhutan, which borders two Asian giants--China in the north and India to the south-- is some sort of a misfit in this tightly enclosed geographic space. Its two neighbours when compared to Bhutan are a world apart,
Bhutan: 'National Happiness', environment and the neighbours
< class="heading1">Analysis

The landlocked Kingdom of Bhutan, which borders two Asian giants -- China in the north and India to the south -- is some sort of a misfit in this tightly enclosed geographic space. Its two neighbours when compared to Bhutan are a world apart, with different systems of governance that focuses on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of progress, while Thimphu with its unique Gross National Happiness (GNH) index has taken a tangential path towards development.

This, under the umbrella of varied nature of relations between Thimphu and its neighbours, represents the extremes in the systems of governance and administration. It is here that Bhutan provides a myopic view of the two in some respect. With its nascent democratic practices, the Kingdom reflects the Indian state while on the other hand the reigning monarch Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck had to force down the same despite the aspiration of the people being the contrary.

While on the other hand, the difference in the style of governance of both India and China does not camouflage their intentions of progress and advancement being dictated by a measureable term called economy. It is here that Bhutan defoliates it selves form its neighbours by introducing to the world a new yard stick that defines the advancement in an intangible way, but one that caters to the needs of the people. The GHP as a measure is in many a ways a contradiction to the existing policies and practices of both India and China. The strides that India and China have made over the decades have indeed mesmerised the world but at a cost of not catering to the permanent and sustainable well being of their people.

It is here that the term "Gross National Happiness" (GNH) coined in 1972 by the fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, gains significances, since Thimphu despite the opportunities that lies across the border retains conviction that does not hinges on degradation of any sort (environment or polity). It is not only GHN that is a path breaker but also the nations efforts in safeguarding its ecology and natural beauty. The measures taken by the state to limit tourism owing to the inhibitions of ecological damage is indeed an eye opener when its counterparts across the world have relied on tourism irrespective of its consequence.

However, the Kingdom at present is on a cross-road shadowed by its neighbours. One is an age old friend while the other is a new found acquaintance. For both, Bhutan is important even if the general perception lingers on the fringes. Bhutan’s importance is exemplified by its disputes on the Himalayan frontier. But for Bhutan the Himalayan dispute is an issue would rattle and dictate its policies on most issues. The dispute is not only the difference between India and China but also their one-upmanship game of geo-politics. At one hand is the known devil that’s been reliable all these decades and on the other is the unknown angle with all its charms and promises. Thimphu will indeed benefit immensely from its two neighbours, but then at what cost?

Is she willing to change her policies and imitate the Asian giants and become another land that’s joined the list of nations that is dictated by its GDP or will she enlighten her neighbours to the salient features of GNH? It is here that the Kingdom would be facing its biggest challenge, at least in principle, for the national orientation of the two neighbours is a contrast to that of Thimphu. Thimphu’s emphasis on the well being (self-contentment) of its people and its proactive environmental concerns would be a lesson that India and China can emulate.

But then who will blink first?

(The author is a Research Assistant at Observer Research Foundation)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maldives: Waiting for the CoNI Report

N Sathiya Moorthy
The ’long wait’ seems to be getting over for Maldivian politicians, the Government and friends of the Indian Ocean archipelago. The expanded Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) has since reiterated its decision to come out with the findings on the circumstances leading to the resignation of President Mohammed Nasheed on February 7, by the extended deadline of August-end. Whatever the finding, its presentation can expected to be followed by high drama, straining the infant democracy all over again, if the stake-holders refuse to the acknowledge their contribution and accept the CoNI Report in word and spirit.

For his part, President Nasheed has since led a delegation of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to the Indian capital of New Delhi and the Sri Lankan capital of Sri Lanka. The party seems to be coming round to the view that the two neighbours would matter the most in forming the international opinion on the CoNI Report, nearer home, too, than the western nations, many of whom had backed him openly when he resigned but have not moved forward since as the MDP might have expected.

In Male after the Delhi visit, President Nasheed outlined the party’s options and propositions on the CoNI findings. The MDP would want him reinstated if the report endorsed its conspiracy theory, early presidential polls in case of an unclear verdict, and elections when due by November 2012, if CoNI found no substance in the party’s argument. The toughest decision for the MDP, or any other party in the country, would be to decide on an unclear verdict ? as the possibilities are many and varied.

The most comprehensive of an ’unclear verdict’ could mean that the CoNI finds no substance in the MDP argument about a plot, but still finds evidence to indiscipline in sections of the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) and the Maldivian Police Force (MPF), punishable through the due processes. However, all assumptions of every kind are based on the premise that CoNI could come up with a unanimous finding, or a majority verdict. Given the complexity of the situation then and now, it is not unlikely that individual CoNI members could come up with varied findings, based on their perceptions and understanding of the facts collated and evidence recorded.

Such a course could mean opening the Pandora’s Box of competing and at times conflicting arguments all over again. The question would then be raised if the CoNI report would be taken up to the Supreme Court ? and, if its constitutionality too would be challenged at that late hour. There is also nothing in the Constitution that could force incumbent President Waheed Hassan to resign from office, if the CoNI report endorsed the ’plot’ theory but does not find any role for him, as suggested by some MDP leaders early on.

Even if the CoNI Report were to find President Waheed or any other on the political side of the Government guilty of conspiring to overthrow his predecessor, there is nothing in the law to reverse the politico-constitutional reality of his incumbency and possible continuity until when elections became otherwise due. It is in this context, the MDP’s neighbourhood visit assumes significance. The idea seems to bring moral pressure on President Waheed and political parties extending political and parliamentary support to him since his assuming office.

Among the parties in the Government comprising in turn a collective majority in the 77-member Parliament, only the Dhivehi Rayyathunge Party (DRP), founded by former President Maumoon Gayoom and now led by his one-time running-mate, Thasmeen Ali, is committed to early polls in case of a positive finding on the conspiracy theory. The breakaway Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), also founded by President Gayoom, has other ideas on the subject.

Talking to newsmen after deposing before CoNI a fortnight back, President Gayoom said that the party would not accept CoNI findings if it backed the conspiracy theory. More recently, Defence Minister Nazim, identified with the PPM in a way, has declared that the Government would take no action against personnel of the armed forces if CoNI found any of them guilty of indiscipline. There is already the possibility of such conflicting notions leading to contradictions and confrontation when the CoNI Report is out.

Maldives cannot afford political instability, which has consequences for the nation in more ways than one. The immediate concern would be on tourism-driven economy front, but continued instability could act and react in ways that the Government and political party leaders of the country cannot perceive now, or if and when they begin unfolding. It may be a good idea for the Government parties to formulate their strategy early on, and come up with a joint commitment like the MDP. That could throw some clarity about the emerging situation, but not much by way of resolving the continuing political deadlock which has greater consequences for the nation than a presidential poll -- conducted now or a year later.

(The writer is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation)

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nasheed meets Indian leaders

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has said that the decisions by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) subsequent to the report of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) have been intimated to the prominent officials of the respective Governments in India and Sri Lanka.

Speaking to newsmen on his return to Male after the conclusion of his private visit to India and Sri Lanka, Nasheed revealed that in addition to the decision of MDP, some other information of relevance have also been shared with the top officials of the Sri Lanka and Indian Governments.

To that end he added that the "views of certain individuals in relation to some matters" have been brought to the attention of the Maldives’ closest neighbors during the visit. In addition, Nasheed detailed that he had highlighted the importance of taking necessary action against the few officers of the Police and military involved in the overthrow of his Government on February 7.

The National Steering Committee of MDP had made three propositions in relation to the report of the CNI set up to probe the much debated downfall of Nasheed’s Government which is due on August 30. One proposition of the party is to reinstate their Government if the CNI report concludes that the MDP Government was in fact toppled through a coup d’etat. If the CNI decides that unlawful activities had contributed to the downfall of the MDP Government, the second proposition suggests to hold early presidential elections and bring the perpetrators to justice, while the third and final option is to contest in the scheduled presidential elections in 2013 if the CNI report finds that the transfer of power on February 7 had been legitimate.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru, August 18, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Decentralisation Act not unconstitutional: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that provisions of the De-centralisation Act were not in conflict with the Constitution.

In March 2011, former State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed ’Monaza’ Naeem filed a case at the apex court arguing that some provisions of the Act contradicted the unitary nature of the Maldivian state as laid out in the constitution, and requested the conflicting articles to be struck down.

Naeem had argued that the Local Government Authority (LGA) created by the Decentralisation Act was not answerable to any government minister while article 140 of the constitution states that, "A member of the cabinet shall be given responsibility for each authority or institute established by the government or the People’s Majlis, except for independent institutions specified in this constitution or established pursuant law. Such member of the cabinet must take responsibility for the operation of such authority or institution and must be accountable for it."

The Supreme Court Bench that heard the case ruled unanimously that the LGA was not unconstitutional as it was not necessary for a minister to be the administrative head of such an authority or office. The Justices further noted that Article 140 did not envision a Cabinet to be responsible for elected councils.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, August 17, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Navy chief made Vice-President

Parliament on August 15, appointed the country’s politically moderate naval chief as one of the nation’s two vice-presidents. Vice-Admiral Nyan Tun, 58, replaces Tin Aung Myint Oo, whose resignation for health reasons was officially announced last month.

Tin Aung Myint Oo was considered a hard-liner, and there has been speculation he had disagreed with the reformist agenda of President Thein Sein, who has instituted sweeping political and economic change since taking power from the country’s former military junta last year.

Admiral Nyan Tun, 58, who has a reputation as a political moderate, was selected by the military personnel who make up one quarter of the legislature and have the right to choose one of the two vice presidents.

The army’s first candidate, Yangon Chief Minister and retired General Myint Swe, failed to win approval because his son-in-law is an Australian citizen, which under the constitution disqualified him from the post.

< class="text11verdana">Source:,, August 15, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">OIC aid for Rohingyas

According to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) the Myanmar Government has given its permission for the OIC to assist Rohingya displaced by sectarian violence.

It said Myanmar gave its agreement to the OIC following talks between a delegation from the OIC and President Thein Sein on the "deplorable humanitarian situation in Rakhine state". The delegation assured Thein Sein that Islamic humanitarian organisations were willing to provide aid to all residents of the strife-torn state.

In the mean time the nations of South-East Asia are considering humanitarian assistance for Rohingya refugees. Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said the bloc should be "part of solution to the problem".

"I have made a proposal (to our member countries) that Asean should once again offer humanitarian assistance, like we did during the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis four-and-a-half years ago," Surin told reporters, referring to a storm which left 138,000 people dead or missing in Myanmar in May 2008.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 8 and 11, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Commemoration of ’88 protest

For the first time, the Government has given its consent for the nation to commemorate the 24th anniversary of pro-democracy protests of 1988.

Former political prisoners joined hundreds of others at rallies in Yangon, Mandalay and elsewhere to mark the Aug. 8, 1988, start of the uprising, which was bloodily suppressed by the military.

A day before this year’s anniversary, President Thein Sein, who has introduced a wave of globally praised reforms since taking office last year, sent two Cabinet ministers to inform organizers that the government was approving their request to hold rallies. The ministers also handed over 1 million kyat (S$1,395.10) in cash to help fund the events, said Mr Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of the 1988 uprising who spent many years in prison.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 8, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India’s grant for trilateral highway

According to the Indian Ambassador to Thailand, Anil Wadhwa, the Government of India has granted a $500-million loan to Myanmar, part of which will be used to finance construction of a 3,200-km trilateral highway linking India, Myanmar and Thailand. The route, which is expected to be completed in 2016, will run from India’s north-eastern states into Myanmar, where over 1,600km of roads will be built or improved.

The trilateral highway will form the so-called East-West economic corridor linking India with Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In addition, there is also a North-South corridor linking southern China with the rest of mainland Southeast Asia from Myanmar and Thailand all the way down to Malaysia and Singapore.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 14, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New federal alliance

The United CPN (Maoist) has announced formation of a new alliance as a long-term strategic partnership to endorse federal agenda in the country.

Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ’Prachanda’ announced the newly-formed 26-party ’alliance of pro-federalists.’ The alliance would act as a coalition for the attainment of objectives of federalism and state restructuring, but will also remain active as a long-term strategic partnership.

The Federal Democratic Republican Alliance (FDRA) will be led by Dahal. He has, however, said that the immediate objective of the alliance was to create an environment conducive to end the ongoing political stalemate. He has also made said that restructuring of the state based on ethnic identity was the only way to end the stalemate.

Dahal has criticised the main opposition party, the Nepali Congress, for allegedly creating hindrances during inter-party negotiations. Dahal described NC leader Sushil Koirala as the major obstruction in consensus building among the major political parties.

The alliance has clearly proposed two options as solutions and the roadmap forward. The alliance’s first priority is to hold fresh elections for the CA and legislature-parliament. The second option is to reinstate the dissolved CA for a few days, mainly for two purposes -- to promulgate a new constitution and to hold elections for a parliament.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Republica, August 16, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Former minister jailed

The Supreme Court sentenced former home minister Khum Bahadur Khadka to 18 months in prison and slapped a penalty of Nepali Rs 9.4 million on him for his involvement in corruption, thereby revoking a five-year-old verdict that had acquitted him. The apex court also ordered confiscation of his property equivalent to the penalty amount.

Khadka is a leader of the opposition Nepali Congress. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against an earlier decision made by the Special Court to acquit him.

Khadka is the fourth former minister to be sentenced on corruption charges. All four were ministers during the Nepali Congress government since 1990s. Earlier, the Court had convicted Chiranjivi Wagley, Jayaprakash Gupta and Govinda Raj Joshi and jailed them

< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 14, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China to help cut deficit

China has expressed readiness to support Nepal to bring down the ballooning trade deficit. Responding to Nepali concerns during Nepal-China Consultative Meeting in Kathmandu, Chinese officials were positive to support development of infrastructure, facilitate market access for higher number of Nepali goods, simplification of customs procedures by improving customs facilities, among others.

During the fiscal year 2010/11, Nepal recorded its highest ever trade deficit with China, which rose to Nepali Rs 44 billion. Nepal had imported goods worth Rs 45.63 billion from China against the export amounting Rs 746 million during the period.

Nepal has been exporting cement, iron rods, noodles, refined flour, handicrafts, carpet, pashmina, silver ornaments, incense and medicines, among others to China. Similarly, electronics, garments, electrical goods, shoes, beverage and vehicles are the major imports from the northern neighbour.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 13, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tahreek Taliban attacks Kamra air base

Nine terrorists belonging to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan attacked the Minhas airbase of the Pakistan Air Force in the early hours of August 16. The nine gunmen were killed in the ensuing fire-fight with security units of the Air Force and police, during which one soldier was killed and a plane damaged.

The nine terrorists, disguised in military fatigues, scaled the back wall of the airbase through the adjoining village and remained undetected as villages and many security personnel were at mosques during the holiest day of Ramazan. They used small arms, rockets and suicide bombs in a shootout that lasted more than two hours. Subsequent combing operations were completed in ten hours after which the base was declared ’totally safe’. The Taliban claimed credit for the raid, and explained the selection of the target by virtue of Minhas’s use in air bombings of insurgent strongholds. The group’s spokesperson dedicated the raid on the late Osama bin Laden.

The incident has renewed debate about the security of Pakistan’s military installations, especially nuclear weapons. PAF Minhas, located in Kamra in northern Punjab Province, is positioned alongside the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, where the Mirage and JF-17 fighter jets are assembled. It is believed that modifications made to these aircrafts to make them nuclear-capable are also conducted in Kamra, making them more sensitive against such attacks.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The News International, August 16, 2012; Daily Times, August 17, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Kayani meets CENTCOM Commander

Army chief Parvez Kayani met with Commander of US Central Command, or CENTCOM, Gen James Mattis on August 16 in Rawalpindi. The two discussed the state of the twin insurgencies in Pashtun regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan and explored the possibility of coordinated operations on both sides of the Durand Line. The focus of the talk, however, lay firmly on the North Waziristan tribal agency of Pakistan which has served as a safe-haven for insurgents, most notably the notorious Haqqani network.

Following the meeting, Pakistan army dispelled rumours in the US media about Islamabad’s agreeing to launch a large-scale military offensive in North Waziristan. Earlier, on August 13, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta had made a similar reference which generated speculation about an agreement between the two countries. The army also termed talk of joint operations by US and Pakistani forces on the country’s territory as baseless, and made customary remarks about the primacy of ’national interests’ in driving security policy.

The Haqqani militant group is responsible for many high profile terrorist attacks inside Afghanista. Pakistan’s passivity against it has become the biggest source of friction between Islamabad and Washington. Based out of eastern Afghanistan, the group is centred on veteran militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, his son Sirajuddin Haqqani and their clan. The Haqqanis own sustainable property in North Waziristan and have built considerable clout among the local tribes by mediating in their disputes and assisting rival warlords in internecine clashes.

The insurgent group has resisted peace talks and its affinity to al-Qaeda has prompted the US to consider designating it as an international terrorist. Pakistan, on the other hand, has defied pressure from the US and NATO to act against the group and is widely believed to view it as a proxy against Indian influence in Afghanistan. For this reason, North Waziristan remains the only administrative unit among seven agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to have escaped sustained counterinsurgency operations.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Times, Dawn; August 18, 2012

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Separatists still have not given up: President

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday cautioned that separatist elements in the country have not given up yet, in a veiled reference to the Tamil Eelam supporters’ conference held in Chennai recently.

"Though we have ended terrorism, there is lot more remaining to be done. Forty years ago they passed a resolution seeking separation of the country. The conference held recently also boosts Eelam demand," Rajapaksa told a gathering at Kuruvita, a south western town.

Eelam is the separate Tamil state which the LTTE fought to set up in a bitter military battle over three decades. Rajapaksa said the whole country needs to unite so as not to let those seeking separation gain momentum.

He was critical of the leader of the Left Front Wickremabahu Karunaratne for attending the DMK called TESO conference, although he did not name him directly.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, August 16, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">De-mining experts to help other countries?

Sri Lanka is looking at the possibility of sending Sri Lanka’s de-mining personnel and machinery for the use of other countries in UN demining programmes. The Economic Ministry said that Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who met with the United Nation’s Resident Representative in Sri Lanka Subine Nandy, had already held talks in this regard.

Participating in the progress review meeting of the National Mine Action Programme of Sri Lanka held at the Ministry of Economic Development today, Nandy praised the de-mining activities in the North.

Nandy had further said Sri Lanka could make good progress in the mine clearing operations due to the well-coordinated efforts of the Ministry of Economic Development through its mine Action Centre, the ministry said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, August 13, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NATO helicopter crashes, Taliban claim credit

A NATO helicopter crashed in northern Kandahar on August 16, killing eleven servicemen on board. While International Security Force Afghanistan (ISAF) remained agnostic over the cause of the crash, the Taliban were quick to claim credit for shooting down the Black Hawk helicopter, which occurred in the Shahwali Kot district, a region controlled by the insurgents.

The eleven men killed comprised four ISAF soldiers, three United States-Afghanistan service members, three members of the Afghanistan National Security Forces and on Afghan civilian interpreter. The official account, as per standard practice, refrained from naming particular units involved. The deceased’s identity can be gauged by the fact that the United States-Afghanistan command operates independently of ISAF and features many special operations forces who have conducted a majority of ’night raids’ and other missions targeting middle and high level leadership elements of the insurgency.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The New York Times, Khaama Press; August 16, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">52 killed in air strike

Fifty-two people, including militants, were killed in an airstrike in the eastern Province of Kunar on August 18. The NATO strike followed an earlier arrest of four men related to a family dispute by the Taliban’s shadow government, according to the local police chief. He added that among the dead were the Taliban’s captives as well. Casualties among the Taliban included at least twenty-eight rebels, including twelve provincial leaders of the group.

Kunar lies in the eastern mountainous region of the country and shares its border with Afghanistan. Inaccessible terrain, remoteness, and a deeply agnostic social structure comprising rival clans have long defined Kunar’s stateless characteristics. For these reasons, the Province has a long history of being favoured by insurgents and those fleeing the central State. The lack of authority has also made it easier for Taliban-like movements to create administrative structures like ’shadow Governments’ that run in parallel to formal police and bureaucracies. ISAF’s decision in 2010 to withdraw its forces from most of Kunar owning to its sparse population and instead focus on the more populous southern Afghanistan has made it more prone to the use of air power such as the recent bombing.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Pajhwok, August 18, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Uncertainty clouds deep seaport project

Construction of the deep seaport project at Sonadia Island, off Cox’s Bazar has become uncertain as the government failed to mobilise necessary fund. Unable to procure the necessary fund the government is planning to go for government to government deal instead of building the mega project under public-private partnership (PPP). Sources in the shipping ministry informed the prospective Chinese companies with spare cash in their belts have lost interest to build the deep seaport at Sonadia after building one in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota and in the process of constructing another in Myanmar. Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan earlier had disclosed that China would lend support to the massive project and the port was expected to have been completed by 2015.

The proposed deep seaport, visualised as a regional hub, would facilitate maritime trade with China, seven states -known as seven sisters -of north-eastern India and its West Bengal state, in addition to Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Independent, August 16, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Russia agrees to provide 85pc fund for Nuke power plant

Russia has agreed to provide as credit 85 percent of the estimated Tk 12,000-15,000 crore needed for setting up the first-ever nuclear power plant in Bangladesh. Initially Russia will provide $500 million (around Tk 4,000 crore) for conducting necessary studies and preparing the design for the 1,000 MW nuke plant. This decision was taken at a two-day meeting between the Russia and Bangladesh on August 8-9 in Moscow. The two countries are likely to sign an agreement to facilitate the loan.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, August 13, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Hizb-ut Tahrir activists arrested

Law enforcement agencies arrested 35 members of banned outfit Hizb-ut- Tahrir from capital Dhaka. The group had convened secret meeting to plan subversive activities and massive showdown after the Eid. Law enforcement agencies recovered some books and leaflets of the banned organisation from the spot. Among the arrestees, four are teachers of school, college and private university; eight study in different private medical and dental colleges, English medium schools and private universities; and 12 are university admission seekers.

Members of law enforcement agencies claimed that since the government is taking action against the banned outfits, like Hizb-ut-Tahrir and Harkatul Zihad, these groups are now collaborating with other Islamist political parties and hiding their identities to carry out activities of their own outfit. Speculation is that the number of such activists could be more than a lakh.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: The Daily Star, August 14, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New strategy to fight graft

To ensure good governance and to check corruption, the government has drafted a National Integrity Strategy. As part of the strategy the government plans to establish a separate department investigate corruption allegations. This strategy calls for mandatory publication of wealth statements of lawmakers, judges and government officials.

Sources in the finance ministry informed that development partners especially Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have been putting pressure on the government to prepare the strategy in the wake of corruption allegations over the Padma bridge project.

In June this year, World Bank cancelled a loan to Bangladesh for construction of the Padma bridge project on charges of corruption. JICA and ADB are co-lenders to this project.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: The Daily Star, August 13, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Border Talks with China

During the 20th round of boundary talks between Bhutan and China was held Thimphu on August 10 wherein both the countries reaffirmed their commitment to resolve boundary issue at the earliest.

The delegations from both the countries reaffirmed their commitment through mutual consultation, understanding and accommodation on the basis of the Four Guiding Principles that were agreed upon in 1988 and 1998 under the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility in the Bhutan-China border areas.

The 19th round of boundary talks was held in Thimphu in January, 2010. During the intervening period two meetings were held: The Third Expert Group Meeting (EGM) in Beijing in July, 2010 and an informal meeting of the Expert Group Meeting in Hong Kong in November, 2011.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 10, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China may support Bhutan’s UNSC Seat bid

Bhutan has sought China’s support for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the term 2013-14. The two sides discussed Bhutan’s aspiration to serve as a non-permanent member of UNSC, elections for which are scheduled for October this year.

An announcement by the Government of Bhutan was made to this effect when the topic was opened on the sidelines of the border talks. An eight-member Chinese delegation led by Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying participated in the border talks.

The talks were held in a warm and friendly atmosphere," the Bhutanese foreign ministry said in a statement. "It will provide the opportunity for the two nations to better understand each other’s positions, which will facilitate an early and just settlement of the boundary issues.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, August 13, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Consultation meeting with Japan in New Delhi

The Seventh Bhutan-Japan consultation meeting between the Bhutanese and the Japanese governments was held in New Delhi, on August 16. The Bhutanese delegation was lead by the Bilateral Department’s Director under the foreign ministry, Kinga Singye. The Japanese delegation was lead by the Economic and Development Minister, Tamaki Tsukuda.

The consultation identified and discussed five projects in the areas of agriculture, road, renewable energy and telecom infrastructure for possible support by the Government of Japan for the year 2012-2013.

The two sides also discussed the proposed Country Assistance Policy to be introduced in Bhutan for the future Japanese development assistance and agreed that the Country Assistance Policy would be synchronized with the government’s 11th Five Year Plan.

They also discussed bilateral and multilateral issues of common interest. The two sides expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the Consultation and the growing ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

< class="text11Verdana">Source:, August 16, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sankosh project down-sized more

According to Bhutan Energy Department, the Sankosh hydroelectric project is could be downsized to improve viability and optimize the investment versus output ratio of the project. Even after this downsizing, installed capacity will remain 2560MW. But the total output will come down for only 3% allowing this cost cutting of 23%. The cost cutting is being done by reducing the height of main dam of the reservoir from 265 meters to 215 meter.

Initially planned for 4050MW, the project of Rs 21000 crores was downsized by the Empowered Joint Group (EJG) of high government officials of Bhutan and India to 2560MW with expenditure of Rs 13300 crore. After further 23% cost cutting, the final cost will be around Rs 9700 crore. Still it will remain as the single largest upcoming Indo-Bhutan power project.

< class="text11Verdana">Source:, August 16, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Economic growth is issue of national security: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh used his Independence Day speech on Wednesday to push for economic growth, cautioning that it was linked to national security. He also blamed "a lack of political consensus" for growth lagging behind.

"If we do not increase the pace of economic growth, take steps to encourage new investment, improve the management of government finances and work for the livelihood security of the common man and energy security, then it most certainly affects our national security," Singh said.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: The Indian Express, August 16, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Assam backlash rumours hit South

A day after the country celebrated its 66th Independence Day, the spectre of violence on ethnic and communal lines returned to haunt the people. South India - which has never seen non-locals fleeing the region for fear of their lives-continued to witness the unprecedented exodus of citizens from Northeast on Thursday, with thousands from Chennai too rushing to the railway station to take the train home.

In Bangalore, where it all began, their flight continued unabated with 7,500 more people boarding four Guwahati-bound trains apart from regular Bangalore-Guwahati Express.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: The Tribune, The Hindu, August 17, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ramdev for ’all out war’ against Congress

The national capital was thrown into chaos on Monday with Baba Ramdev, along with thousands of his supporters, courting arrest while trying to march towards Parliament with a call for an ’all out war’ against the Congress on the issues of black money and corruption. This came after the UPA government refused to engage in talks with him despite several threats during his three-day "symbolic" fast on the Ramlila Ground in New Delhi, which spilled over into Monday.

The fifth day of Baba Ramdev’s fast saw last minute support from the National Democratic Alliance. Bhartiya Janata Party chief Nitin Gadkari, NDA convener Sharad Yadav, Janata Party leader Subramainian Swamy and representatives of Biju Janata Dal and Akali Dal visited the venue and shared the stage with the yoga guru.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, August 14, 2012

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tight money policy to continue

Reserve Bank of India Governor D Subbarao has said that the bank could ease pressure on the brake pedal of tight monetary controls only in a calibrated manner, given the prevailing macro-economic situation.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, August 14, 2012

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti;
Bangladesh: Dr.JoyeetaBhattacharjee;
Bhutan and Myanmar: Sripathi Narayan;
India:Dr.Satish Misra;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;

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