MonitorsPublished on Apr 01, 2011
The provisional figures of the decennial Census-2011 has just been released in India, with the final head-count to be commuted and made public in about a year's time.
India: 1210 million and ticking
< class="heading1">Analysis

The provisional figures of the decennial Census-2011 has just been released in India, with the final head-count to be commuted and made public in about a year’s time. This concludes the major portion of what is dubbed the ’largest peacetime-mobilisation in the world’.

The census process in India is known to be among the best and definitely the oldest in the world. References to the census have been found in the Rig Veda (BC 800-600), Kautilya’s ’Arthashastra’ and Emperor Akbar’s ’Ain-e-Akbari’. First systematic census work in British India was undertaken in 1872, making Census-2011 the 15th in the series and the seventh in independent India. As has been the practice, the head-count was conducted in two phases, the house-listing and housing census in the first phase to ensure that no household is left out and population enumeration in the second. The points of time and reference date were 00:00 hours on 1 March 2011.

According to the provisional figures, the population at the point of time and reference date was/is 1,210,193,422. India now accounts for 17.5 percent of the global population of 6908.7 m. It supports this population on approximately 3.3-sq km, or 2.4 percent of the world’s land area. Indian population is the second largest after that of China, which accounts for 19.4 per cent of the world’s figure. The gap in the two figures has come down from 238 m in 2001 to 131 m in 2011 and India is set to overtake the Chinese population by 2030.

At 17.64 percent, 2001-2011 has registered the sharpest decline in decadal growth rate of 3.9 percentage points from the 1991-2001 figure of 21.54 percent. The decadal growth rate had peaked at 24.8 percent in 1961-1971.The annual growth rate is at 1.64 percent, which has significantly declined from 1.97 percent in 1991-2001. The rate, however, continues to be the third highest among the top 10 most populous countries after Pakistan and Nigeria which have above two percent and significantly above the world average of 1.23 percent (UN estimates 2000-2010). Interestingly, China’s population grew at only 0.53 percent, which is among the lowest in the top ten most populous countries. Population density in India has also gone up to 382 persons per square kilometre from 325 in 2001.

State-wise analysis shows that Uttar Pradesh with 200 million accounts for 16 percent of India’s population. Together, the top six Sates account for 55percent of the total population in the country. The Empowered Action Group (EAG) States of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Orissa have had a significant fall in decadal growth-rate after two decades of stagnation. The EAG States have registered a decadal growth-rate of 20.92 percent, down from 24.99 percent in 1991-2001.

Even as the North-South divide on population distributions and growth-rate continues to be evident with the southern States doing better, for the first time the phenomenon of low growth-rates has gone beyond the region. Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Orissa and Maharashtra have joined the southern States in decadal population rise of 11-16 percent.

The four-stage demographic transition theory, which analyses the transition of a population from a high mortality, high fertility stage to a low mortality, low fertility stage places India in the third. This stage involves a fall in the birth rate but a continued increase in population with a large number of people being in the reproductive age-group due to high fertility of the previous generation. An important development is that some States and Union Territories in India are in the final stage already. This involves a stable population with low birth and death rates.

The National Population Policy (2000), adopted by the Central Government, had envisioned a stable population by 2045. This involved a medium-term objective of bringing down the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to 2.1 by 2010. The Eleventh Five-Year Plan also envisioned such a position. However, this has proved elusive. In fact, the estimates have proved to be far off the mark and the population is expected to stabilise only by 2060-70.

Sex-ratio, or the number of women to 1000 men, has gained seven points from the 2001 figure of 933, to 940. States having traditionally a low sex ratio like Punjab, Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh have shown a positive trend. Sex-ratio in the country witnessed a continuous declining trend since the start of the 20th century with 1991 registering the worst figure of 927. The Indian figure is well below the world average of 984 and is the second lowest among the top ten most populous countries, after China at 926.

Important points of grave concern have emerged in the child (0-6 years) sex ratio numbers, which has continued its declining trend. The ratio has again registered a 13 percentage point decline, to end at 914 from 927 in 2001, with a decline in 27 States and Union Territories. This shows five decades of consistent drop in child sex ratios. Much remains to be done on the gender equity front with special emphasis on the protection of the girl child.

In line with the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) the Planning commission had targeted an effective literacy rate of 85percent in the Eleventh Five-Year Plan. However, the present figures indicate an effective literacy rate of 74.04percent with corresponding figures for males and females being 82.14percent and 65.46percent, respectively. One of the most important developments in this regard is the reduction in gap between the male and female literacy rates from 21.59 percentage points in 2001 to 16.68 percentage points in 2011. Even though the country has missed Plan targets, the literacy levels have come a long way from an overall literacy rate of 18.33percent in 1951 or even 52.21percent in 1991, keeping in mind the exponential population growth.

The slogan, ’Our Census, Our Future’ establishes the significance of the census figures to the nation’s future. The figures raise some pertinent questions of how to manage such sheer numbers in the years and decades to come. Availability of resources, land-use patterns, food security, urbanisation, migratory patterns, health policies and employment generation will depend primarily on the census figures. Economic development and human development parameters will need to be formulated accordingly. Thus the outcome of the census forms the cornerstone of the nation’s development the policies.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Official-level talks with Pak positive

The recent talks at the Home Secretary level with Pakistan yielded positive outcomes. In a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting, Pakistan expressed its readiness, based upon the principle of comity and reciprocity, to entertain an Indian investigation commission in connection with the on-going probe into the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. The two sides also agreed to set up a hotline between the Indian Home Secretary and the Interior Secretary of Pakistan to facilitate real time information-sharing with respect to terrorist-threats.

Similarly, dates for the visit of the Judicial Commission from Pakistan in connection with the Mumbai attack trial will be conveyed by India within four to six weeks. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) in India and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan will continue to cooperate in the 26/11 investigations. Both sides reiterated their commitment to fight terrorism in all its forms and bring the perpetrators to justice.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, March 30, 2011, Asian Age, March 30, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NHRC seeks probe into Dantewada incident

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a report from the Union Home Secretary, Chhattisgarh Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police (DGP) of the State on the alleged rape, violence and killing of civilians by police forces in Chattisgarh.

A team of civil rights activists, on a fact-finding mission, said that the police claims about operation being a Maoist encounter were false. They also indicated complicity by the State Government.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, March 31, 2011, The Times of India, March 31, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Air India dues: oil firms told to defer deadline

The Centre directed public sector oil firms to defer the deadline for the repayment of the dues by a month, giving respite to the cash-strapped Air India. The oil companies had threatened to discontinue the supply of fuel to Air India if dues amounting to Rs 2400 crore were not cleared. This prompted a Cabinet meeting in which the compromise was arrived at.

State-run oil firms have demanded that Air India set up a roadmap to clear past fuel bills and make upfront payment for all future purchases.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, March 27, 2011.The Economic Times, March 31,2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Women MPs form pressure group

Cutting across party lines, women Members of Parliament propose to set up pressure groups in both Houses to push for speedy clearance of a number of women-related Bills that are pending passage. The proposal was mooted at a meeting of women MPs, convened by GirijaVyas, chairperson of the National Commission for Women.

Among these Bills and drafts are those related to protection of women against sexual harassment at workplace, compensation to rape victims, adding ’irretrievable breakdown of marriage’ as a ground for divorce and prevention of acid attacks. Some of these are either before parliamentary standing committees or have been passed by one House but not the other.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, March 26, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Tiger population up by 12 pc

According to the 2010 census of tiger population in the country, the number of wild cats has grown by 12 per cent to 1706 from 1411 in 2006. The figure includes 70 tigers in the Sunderbans, which area is being surveyed for the first time.

However, Forest and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said that the tiger-occupancy areas had shrunk from 9.1 million to 7.5 million hectares since 2006, and tiger corridors, including those in Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, were under a serious threat. The two States have fared badly in the census while the Western Ghats and Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the terai region in the Himalayan foothills have done well.

The Minister added that while traditional threats like poaching and mining mafias could be tackled, the real challenge was to cater to the developmental needs in an ecologically sustainable manner.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, March 29, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Parliament short of expectations still’

Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid believes that the People’s Majlis has had success in passing legislation, at least statistically, yet it has failed to meet the public’s expectations in terms of its conduct.

Speaking to Minivan News, Shahid, elected to the House on the ticket of the Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), claimed that since constitutional amendments were introduced in 2008 to try and transform Parliament from a "ceremonial" institution to a functioning national body, vital pieces of legislation were beginning to be passed. He conceded though that changes were not necessarily occurring in line with public sentiment.

"The three branches of government are trying to deal with a situation where, as in any transition, the expectations of the public are at a very high level. When you have a new democracy come in, citizens will want things to change overnight. have been seen in many countries," the Speaker said. "The challenges that we have here ? with the judiciary and Parliament ? are not because we are unable to perform, but that we are unable to perform to the expectations of the people."

Shahid said that after living for decades under a non-democratic system, he believed peoples’ demands for political reform have been "suppressed" for such a long period of time that their sudden release created a "huge burst" of energy to ensure change that the Majlis was not always succeeding in providing.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, March 27, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">DRP factions clash over party logo, resources

The Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP) faction loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom boycotted the council meeting, where members from the rival faction headed by party Leader Thasmeen Ali, expressed concern that the party’s logo and resources were being used without the knowledge of either the DRP leadership or secretariat.

An unnamed council member told newspaper Haveeru that the DRP office was being billed for air-time bought by members of the Gayoom faction without official approval.

Former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, who was dismissed from the party in December, however told newsmen that "any member of the party has the right to use the logo". Umar also criticised the DRP council’s decision to finalise its 2010 audit report in time to meet with the March 1 deadline, claiming that the report had made no mention of the Rf 500,000 ($38,910) outstanding debt the party was ordered to pay Island Aviation by the civil court.

With the internal strife intensifying, MP Ahmed Mahlouf, meanwhile, told local media that the Gayoom faction was preparing to submit an amendment to article 119 of the Decentralisation Act to ensure that councillors who were dismissed from his or her party shall not be stripped of their seat.The DRP Youth Wing President claimed that he had learned of schemes by the Thasmeen faction to dismiss councillors who did not side with them.

"If we have to, we will seek the MDP’s help with this," said Mahlouf, suggesting that "Thasmeen faction" MPs would not vote in favour of the amendment.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, April 1, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maoist takeover not near, says Bhattarai

UCPN-Maoist Vice-Chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai has said that a ’Maoist revolutionary takeover’ was impossible in Nepal at present due to an unfavourable international situation and ’existing internal military balance’.

Presenting a paper titled ’Post-conflict Restructuring of Nepal: Challenges and Prospects’ organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies of National University of Singapore, Dr Bhattarai said the second scenario would be a new historical compromise between the two contending political forces ? parliamentary democrats and the revolutionary Maoists ? to take the peace process to a logical conclusion and make a new constitution through the Constituent Assembly (CA) to restructure the State, society and economy.

"Given the current stage of development of the Nepali society transiting from feudalism to capitalism and the prevailing balance of political forces both internally and externally, this is an historical necessity and most sensible political move for both the sides," he argued.

Dr Bhattarai stated the third and most undesirable scenario would be the breakdown of peace and constitution making processes and relapse of the country into a new phase of armed confrontation. "The scenario would be most alarming as it is likely to spark a regional conflict with involvement of immediate neighbours and other global powers. It needs to be avoided at all costs."
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Himalayan Times, March 26, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhattarai hints at party-split

The Vice-Chairman and leading ideologue of Nepal’s UCPN Maoists, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, has hinted that the party might split if ideological discussions within were stifled, within. The remarks come in the wake of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s statement that differences within the party are only minor.

"How can a party that lacks internal democracy build a democratic constitution?" Bhattarai said while speaking at a function in the district of Gorkha. Bhattarai is seen as particularly close to India and in favour of resolving the current impasse in Nepali politics through constructive engagement with its southern neighbour. He is also in favour of resolving the political disputes through the Constituent Assembly, rather than a revolutionary Maoist path.

The Maoists have not been able to allay Delhi’s fears of Dahal’s suspected close links with China or possible links to Maoist rebels in India.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, March 30, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Dim prospects for ’religious freedom’

The draft of the new Constitution that Nepal’s parliament is expected to produce before May 28 may not include the right to propagate one’s faith.

The draft Constitution, aimed at completing the country’s transition from a Hindu monarchy to a secular democracy, reportedly contains provisions in its section on "religious freedom", prohibiting people from converting others from one religion to another.

Most political leaders in the Himalayan country seemed unaware of how this problem would curb religious freedom. "Nepal will be a secular State, there is no other way," President of the Nepali Congress Sushil Koirala said and added that he was not aware of the proposal to restrict the right of evangelism.

Forcible conversions cannot be allowed, but the members of the Constituent Assembly should be made aware of (the envangelism ban’s) implications, Koirala said.
< class="text11verdana">Source:

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Terai bomb-blasts, a terror-act: PM

Recent series of explosions and rampant killings in the southern belt of the country adjoining India is an act of terrorism, Nepal Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal said, addressing the 56th Annual Day function of Federal Nepalese Journalists.

"Explosions in public vehicles and killings here and there means that terrorists are trying to raise their heads", the Prime Minister said.

We are struggling to curtail the transitional period, draft the constitution on time and bring conclusion to the peace process; Khanal said and added that "people should support the government to take terrorist activities under control in such a critical situation".
< class="text11verdana">Source:, March 31, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian MPs conclude visit

A visiting Youth Parliamentary delegation from India said that its Nepal visit would help enhance the entire gamut of relations between the two neighbours.

Talking to media, the delegates expressed happiness that the peace process in Nepal had also helped India in a way. They further said an amicable solution to the Bhutanese refugee problem should be sought by Nepal and India. They also made it clear that they were not representing their government.

The delegation also met exiled Bhutanese leader Tek Nath Rijal who urged them to initiate a process of dignified return-home for the Bhutanese refugees. Earlier, the delegation of six MPs called on Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal at the latter’s is office in Singha Durbar.

The delegation comprised Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo of the Biju Janata Dal, O T Lepcha of the Sikkim Democratic Front, Pradeep Majhi of the Indian National Congress, Kamlesh Paswan and Sanjay Jaiswal of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Niraj Shekhar of the Samajwadi Party.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Khanal praised India for its democratic practices and expressed the hope that India’s support and cooperation to Nepal would continue in the future, too.

The goodwill visit scheduled between youth members of parliament in Nepal and India will enhance understanding of common problems faced by both countries and help find solutions, he said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Himalayan Times, March 29, 2011, Hindustan Times, March 29, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UP to develop border villages

The Uttar Pradesh Government in northern India has announced an Rs 45-crore package to develop villages and towns within the 10 km of the Indo-Nepal border. This was decided at a screening committee meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Atul Kumar Gupta here.

While allocating Rs 45 crore for the project, Gupta said the money would be used for the improvement of roads, drainage, drinking water, health and power services among other things.

Seven UP districts -- Bahraich, Balrampur, Siddharthnagar, Shravasti, Maharajganj, LakhimpurKheri and Pilibhit -- share a 619-km border with Nepal.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, March 30, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Call to ’act on child kidnappings’

Human Rights Watch has called on the Nepal Government to ensure swift investigations into a rash of child kidnappings and killings in the country’s Terai belt area.

The New York-based rights group reported five recent cases of child abduction for ransom in the region. In all, Human Rights Watch documented 28 instances of abductions in 2010 and nine of the abducted children were killed.

"In almost all the cases that the rights watchdog documented, police failed to secure the victim’s release before the parents paid the ransom," the report said. "Some families told (Human Rights Watch) that police had not acted swiftly."

There have been serious allegations by families and human rights activists that members of the police themselves have been involved in carrying out abductions," the report pointed out.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Sunday Morning Herald, March 30, 2011, , March 30, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepal, Taiwan to fight money-laundering

Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Taiwan today to join hands in fighting against money laundering (ML), terrorism funding and other financial crimes. Head of the Financial Information Unit of Nepal Rastra Bank Dharma Raj Sapkota and Director-General of Investigation Bureau (IB) under Ministry of Justice of Taiwan Chang Chi-ping signed the MoU on behalf of their respective institutions in Taiwan.

Under the MoU, the two countries will exchange information about suspected money laundering and other cross-border financial criminal activities, including terrorism financing. Nepal and Taiwan both are members of the Asia Pacific Group (APG) on Money Laundering. The two countries began discussions last year on the MoU during an annual APG conference in Singapore.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Himalayan Times, March 28, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Efforts to restart India-Pakistan dialogue

The political leadership of India and Pakistan made yet another attempt to ’re-engage’ as Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani met during the Cricket World Cup match between the two countries in Mohali on March 30.

Earlier on March 29, Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman met with India’s Home Secretary G K Pillai in New Delhi and agreed to India’s long-standing demand to get access to militants suspected of their involvement in the Mumbai 26/11 terrorist attack. It was also agreed to create a hotline between the two officials. Besides, India also announced that it will update Pakistan with the ongoing investigation of the Samjhauta Express bombings. In 2007, the Pakistan bound train was targeted by Hindu right-wing militants, killing scores of Pakistanis.

The thaw in relations should be taken with caution. Earlier in 2009, Manmohan Singh tried to improve relations during talks in Sharm-al Sheikh, but was forced to step back after facing fierce domestic opposition. Curiously, soon after the ’cricket diplomacy’, a Pakistan High Commission staffer was detained near Chandigarh, allegedly after being found in the restricted area of the airport. Pakistan promptly followed by detaining an Indian official in Islamabad.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, March 29, 31, 2011, Dawn, April 2, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Zardari reopens Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto case

President Asif Ali Zardari has signed a reference to the Supreme Court to give its opinion on the death sentence for Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. According to the Article 186 of the Constitution, the President is entitled to seek the Apex Court’s advice on matters of public importance. This, in turn, may pave the way for a formal investigation.

In 1978, , during the military regime of General Zia-ulHaq, the founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court for conspiracy to murder a political opponent. Despite international outrage, Zulfiqar Bhutto was hastily executed the following year.

Given the historical mutual misgivings between the PPP and the army, Zardari’s decision is not going earn him the army’s goodwill. In spite of assurances of party officials that the decision is not motivated by revenge, the reference, at a time of political and economic crises, is likely to worsen the culture of confrontation between the PPP, and the opposition and the army cadre.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Times, April 2, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Jamiat chief escapes bid on life

Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, chief of JamiatUlema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), narrowly escaped two assassination attempts as suicide bombers targeted him in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province. The first attack targeted a JUI-F rally in Swabi district on March 30 and killed 10 people. The second attack, which followed less than 24 hours later in Charsadda district targeted the leader’s convoy and killed 13 people.

The veteran Islamist politician blamed the ruling Awami National Party (ANP) and the United States for the attack. ANP, with its secular nationalist ideology, is staunchly against the Taliban and supports US’s strategy in Afghanistan. Addressing a rally soon after the blast, Rehman said, ’when the former Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan, the ANP leadership embraced them. Now the American and Nato forces are butchering Pakhtuns but ANP leaders are supporting them.’

However, security analysts note that JUI-F’s alliance with Pervez Musharraf and his support to the incumbent government till recently have infuriated militants that were formerly associated with the party, who might have grown disillusioned with the politician and targeted him. Repeated attacks against one of the most well-known supporters of the Taliban, clearly illustrates the complex and dynamic relations between militants, political parties and security forces.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, April 1, 2011; Dawn, March 31, 2011

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India advised us to look beyond 13th Amendment: TNA

India has advised Sri Lanka’s main Tamil political party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to go beyond the 13th Amendment when it holds discussions with the Sri Lanka Government on power devolution, a TNA front-liner has said. Jaffna District TNA parliamentarian MavaiSenathirajah said that however at a recent meeting between the TNA and a government delegation, President MahindaRajapaksa had categorically stated that under no circumstances would police powers be devolved.

"At discussions with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna during his visit to Jaffna in February he advised us to demand something beyond the 13th Amendment from the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration," he said. Mr. Senathirajah said as a basis for negotiations the TNA had prepared a paper to be submitted to the Government at the next meeting to be held on April 7 and stressed that Tamils did not have confidence in the 13th Amendment as a basis for resolving the ethnic issue and neither did it meet the aspirations of the Tamil community.

"What we expect is a political mechanism that devolves power meaningfully and the 13th Amendment falls far short of what is expected," he said and added that the successive governments have failed to devolve power even under the 13th Amendment and a good example was land power, which had not been vested in a single provincial council.

Mr. Senathirajah said he hoped that the ongoing discussions between the government and the TNA would pave the way for a permanent solution to the ethnic issue and address the grievances of the Tamils. The government and the TNA had agreed to meet on April 7 and 27 to further discuss core issues. "We expect to raise the issues regarding the dismantling of High Security Zones, the release of Tamil detainees from rehabilitation centres and resettlement. The TNA delegation will submit a comprehensive report on power devolution at the meeting on April 7," he said.

Mr. Senathirajah said it was a good move on the part of the Government to release particulars of Tamil youth under rehabilitation. "We believe there are about 11,000 youth at rehabilitation camps and we want the government to release them or prosecute them as soon as possible if there is tangible evidence against them," he said and added that discussions held in January, February and March had not produced spectacular results that met the aspirations of the Tamil people but it was a good move in the right direction.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, March 31, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Talks only for Tamils’ rights: MP

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is engaging in talks with the Government and others only to secure the legitimate rights of the Tamil people, party MP Selvam Adaikalanathan has said. "To think and propagate that our decision to negotiate with the Government is an expression of our weakness is a foolhardy way of looking at things," he said.

Pointing out that the people have given a mandate for the TNA to run 12 Local Government bodies in the Tamil-speaking areas of the North and the East in March elections, Adaikalanathan said that the ’Tamil parties’ in the Government have maintained a stoic silence on issues that have concerned the community for long but have not been addressed even after the conclusion of the ’ethnic war’. He listed colonization, High Security Zones and other rehabilitation and reconstruction aspects in this regard.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Uthayan-Jaffna (Tamil), March 30, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Protestors kill UN staff

Protestors enraged at the burning of the Holy Quran by a pastor in Florida stormed the UN’s compound in the north Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif and killed seven people. The victims included civilian staff from Sweden, Norway and Romania. Four former Gurkhas of the British Army employed as private security guards were also killed, besides an equal number of local residents.

About 2000 demonstrators assembled outside the compound after the city’s mosque urged worshippers to protest outside the UN compound against Wayne Sapp, who burned theQuran at a church service in Florida on March 20.

Northern Afghanistan has remained relatively unaffected by violence during the last decade and as a result, benefited from development activities of the United Nations and Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT’s). Therefore, it remains to be seen whether the recent act of violence is an aberration, or an indication of latent discontent against foreign presence.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Telegraph, April 2, 2011,The Guardian, April 2, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban captures key district

About 300 Taliban insurgents over-ran the headquarters of a district in the eastern Province of Nuristan after forcing lightly-armed police units to retreat. The local police chief said that the retreat was deliberate and that the district will be recaptured very soon. Nuristan, along with neighbouring Kunar and Nangarhar Province, share a porous border with Pakistan, and are the preferred route of infiltration for insurgent groups. The heavily-forested region is a stronghold of the Haqqani network and the Hezb-i-Islami insurgent groups.

The event demonstrates that security conditions in southern and eastern provinces remain fragile and, as Gen David Petraeus, the American commander of coalition troops said in a recent testimony, the limited successes achieved during the past year are indeed ’reversible’. Like many remote mountainous parts of the country, the captured district was not secured by foreign troops and had minimal Government presence.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Panjwok, March 29, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fiscal deficit increases

According to the newly released annual report of the Royal Monetary Authority, during 2009-2010, the national fiscal deficit increased to 6.7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), amounting to Nu 4 billion. This has increased when compared to a surplus of two percent of the GDP in the previous fiscal year.

The total Government expenditure between 2009 and 2010 increased from 40.9 percent of the GDP in 2008-2009 to 49.7 percent in 2009-2010. While the tax revenue and grants increased by 40 percent each from that of the previous year, there was a huge drop in non-tax revenue and other miscellaneous receipts. Foreign grants that financed around 34 percent of the total budget outlay in 2009 and 2010 increased to 17 percent of the GDP as compared to 12 percent of GDP in the previous year.

The current expenditure stood at Nu 13.8 billion and the capital expenditure amounted to Nu 16.6 billion.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Bhutan Observer, March 29, 2011.

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kaustav Dhar Chakraborti;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & India: Akhilesh Variar;
Nepal: Satish Misra;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N SathiyaMoorthy;

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