MonitorsPublished on Apr 10, 2015
Land, over which many battles and even wars have been fought since time immemorial, is once again an issue over which the BJP-led NDA government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the opposition are engaged to change people?s perception so that their votes could be won in coming electoral battles.
India: Land battle between Government and Opposition
< class="heading1">Analysis

Land, over which many battles and even wars have been fought since time immemorial, is once again an issue over which the BJP-led NDA government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the opposition are engaged to change people’s perception so that their votes could be won in coming electoral battles.

The Government, after failing to overcome opposition’s reservation on the need to amend the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act 2013, decided to promulgate an ordinance on December 29 last year.

The Act had been enacted by the previous Congress led UPA government after years of consultations and several failed attempts to change the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 which had given uncontrolled and unbridled powers to governments both at the centre as well in states to acquire land from farmers and tillers for claimed rather alleged "public" use.

Powers of the 1894 Act had been widely misused as often enough government acquired land at will and well below the prevailing market price to facilitate industries and businesses, leaving the owners of the land in misery and impoverishment.

Post-poll expectations

The two houses of Parliament passed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill in 2013 and it became the law of the land after President Pranab Mukherjee gave his accent. The new Act came into operation from the first day of 2014.

Though the Act had been supported by parties cutting across the party lines, including the BJP, the new Act did not find favour with industry and business lobbies.

After its victory at the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP-led NDA government assumed charge on May 26 last year, there were expectations of changing the RFCTLARR Act 2013 for facilitating land acquisition which in the view of the industry had become difficult after the enactment of the law.

The Government was keen to make a course correction in the winter session of parliament as the industries bodies found the RFCTLARR Act restrictive. Therefore, an amendment to the Act was issued.

The RFCTLARR (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was tabled in the Lok Sabha on 24 February, which was aimed at replacing the ordinance that was promulgated on December 30 last year.

The Opposition had protested at the promulgation of the ordinance and also opposed the Bill in the Lok Sabha with the argument that it would adversely impact the poor, marginal farmers and tillers. The Bill was, however, passed by the Lok Sabha on March 10 but it could not be passed by the Rajya Sabha because the combined opposition enjoys a majority in the upper house.


The Government was forced to re-promulgate the ordinance on April 3 because if the ordinance had not been re-promulgated then it would have lapsed and the Modi government would have suffered a loss of face.

But the battle has been intensifying outside the parliament also as both the ruling coalition parties primarily the BJP is determined to change the 2013 Act while the opposition led by the Congress is equally vehement that it would not allow changes which in their assessment were anti-poor and anti-farmer. The opposition is particularly against the removal of the consent clause and doing away of the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) before the acquisition of the land. The Government had removed consent clause for five sectors.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the mandatory "consent" clause and SIA would not be applicable if the land is acquired for national security, defence, rural infrastructure including electrification, industrial corridors and housing for the poor including PPP (Private-Public-Partnership) where ownership of the land continues to be vested with the Government.

By doing away the SIA, the Government had aimed at doing away with an important hurdle. In the earlier law, the assessment was meant to find out how many people would be impacted. So apart from the land owner, all those who are dependent on the land were also needed to be compensated. But the proposed amendments to the 2013 Act have ensured that only the land owner would be compensated which considerable reduces the financial burden on those who acquired land for their business or industry.

Bone of contention

Notwithstanding the pros and cons of the ordinance or the 2013 Act, the issue has become a bone of contention between the ruling coalition and the opposition and the BJP-led government has come to acquire an anti-farmer and pro-rich image in popular perception.

The issue is agitating the popular mind, particularly in the rural country side. The Congress has planned a massive public rally in the union capital on April 19 to protest against the changes in the 2013 Act.

Other opposition parties are also undertaking public protests while the BJP MPs are presenting the changes in a positive light to their constituents and farmers.

The land issue is bound to impact in the next electoral battle that is scheduled to take place in Bihar in next six months where the BJP will be fighting against an emerging coalition of opposition parties. The outcome of the Bihar elections will determine and shape the national politics.

(The writer is Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation)

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan: Accession to WTO

Mihir Bhonsale

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is likely to decide in May whether it will accede to membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). For long, Bhutan has kept itself isolated from the rest of the world and accession to the 161-member WTO has been debated in the country since it became an observer in 1999.

Since, there have been many changes in Bhutan. Beginning of the 21st century saw political and economic reforms introduced after King Namgyal Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne still in his early 50s in favour of his son. The fourth King also made the constitution and declared elections.

However, the decision for remaining as an observer and not becoming a member of the WTO has been a dilemmatic. Some commentators have indicated the chief dilemma as the contradictory nature of Gross National Happiness (GNH) with the WTO.

Conflict with GNH

Gross National Happiness measures happiness as an indicator of well-being of the people and does not solely credit economic well-being of the country’s people or Gross Domestic Product. The WTO, an organisation that caters to globalising world focuses on free movement of capital and goods.

The WTO also calls for bringing in line laws in the country to match with WTO guidelines, that many criticize as limiting sovereignty. The GNH aims at protecting the national sovereigniety and culture of Bhutan. The movement of capital and goods also tends to threaten national and local cultures.

More importantly, the GNH stands for good governance, decentralisation and democratisation. On this point the WTO for once stands in unison with the home-grown concept of happiness, but the former is still not been able to demonstrate these values.

Dependence on India

Bhutan has found in India an all weather friend, the latter takes care of most of Bhutan’s socio-economic needs through generous support to its Five Year Plans. India also buys hydro-power generated by Bhutan with assistance from New Delhi.

Membership of the WTO would mean that Bhutan would have to allow other countries to trade in goods. Allowing, India the Most Favoured Nation status would also make it necessary to accord the same status to all 161 members of the WTO.

Also, Bhutan would risk, the developmental assistance given by New Delhi, if it opens its doors to economic powers, especially China. The People’s Republic of China is keen on establishing diplomatic relations with Bhutan and would be happy to intensify economic cooperation with Bhutan.

Reality check

Realities of a fast-changing world have pushed the Himalayan nation to open its doors to the fast globalising world. WTO is part of the attempt of coming out from isolation. Bhutan is a Least Developed Country and there are 48 other countries which share the same economic status and most LDCs have joined WTO.

Bhutan also stands to gain from offers from WTO member nations for LDCs. Recently, Chile offered duty free import of goods originating in LDC member nations. Bhutan has to grab on such opportunities if it has to earn revenue and reduce reliance on donors.

As many in the country feel that Bhutan should negotiate the best of the terms for accession to the WTO is the right approach. It is high time that, Thimphu should start negotiating the terms for accession considering the economic and social development of its people.

The country that believes in Tsa-Wa-Sum must not be let down by the government of Bhutan which enjoys full-support of the King. The cabinet which is to decide on the accession next month must grab this opportunity to once come clean on the accession. Being in a dilemma for over a decade does not positively represent any modern nation.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Attack helicopters from Russia

The Afghan government plans to purchase Mi-35 attack helicopters from Russia to boost the capabilities of the Afghan Air Force. Shakir Kargar, special envoy to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries said that negotiations will begin in the near future.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Afghanistan intends to buy Mi-35 attack helicopters from Russia", Khaama Press, 10 April 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TTP chief on sanctions list

The United Nations Security Council has added Mullah Fazlullah, chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to its sanctions list. The decision was made by the 15 member council’s Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee on the proposal by the United States of America.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : " UN adds TTP chief to sanctions list", Khaama Press, 9 April 2015;

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Abdullah visits protest camp

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah visited the protest camp of members of civil society and the families of 31 abducted passengers in Zarnigar Park in Kabul. He promised the protestors that he would put in all efforts for the release of hostages who have been held for about two months.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: " Abdullah Visits Protest Camp Seeking Release of 31 Hostages", Tolo News, 10 April 2015;


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BNP seeks political space

The Opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) want a level-playing field to participate in the city corporation elections in Dhaka and Chittagong, party leader and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has been quoted as saying.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: " Khaleda awaits level-playing field: Emajuddin", The Daily Star, 10 April 2015;

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’War criminal’ to be executed?

Following the Supreme Court dismissing his review petition Mohammad Kamruzzaman, assistant secretary-general of Jamaat-i-Islami, was expected to be executed any time soon, after family members were called to meet him in the prison, in relation to the ’Al-Badr’ group that massacred innocent people at the height of the 1971 ’Bangladesh War of Independence’. < class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Family meets Kamaruzzaman at jail",The Daily Star, 10 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Japanese investors welcome

At a meeting with outgoing Japanese envoy, Shoro Sadoshima, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised all facilities to attract more investments into Bangladesh from that country.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "PM promises all facilities for Japanese entrepreneurs",The Independent, 10 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Concern over ’border killings’

Following the death of two Bangladeshi nationals at a border-post with India at Jessore, the Government has taken up the issue with New Delhi.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Border killings: Dhaka raises concern with New Delhi",The Daily Star, 10 April 2015; "BSF opens fire at Jessore borders killing 2 Bangladesh nationals",, 10 April 2015.


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Highway projects on hold: PM

The Bhutanese government has put on hold two highway projects in Southern Bhutan to not let Bodo militants enter its territory, Bhutanese Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay. Tobgay said that the measure was taken after an exchange of firing between the police forces and Bodo militants.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Two Highway Projects in South Were Put On Hold To Prevent Bodo Militants From Coming Into Bhutan",The Bhutanese, 6 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Clearance for 1000 projects

The Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOiC) has so far approved 998 projects amounting to more than Nu 250M (million) from the two revolving funds instituted under the economic stimulus plan. The economic stimulus package was granted by the Government of India.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "998 projects approved so far",Kuensel Online, 9 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Students accuse consultancy

Students who left last year to study in Lithuania have returned home after a semester. Students said they could not find part-time work and could not sustain their daily expenses. They told a local newspaper that they felt deceived and cheated.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Student’s accuse consultancy firm of deception and fraud",Kuensel Online, 9 April 2015.


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi visits France

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a four-day visit to France on 9 April to expand bilateral economic and defence ties. He met with French President Francois Hollande, among other officials. A key part of his agenda is to promote the ’Make in India’ project and urge French companies to invest in India. The two sides will also hold negotiations on six French nuclear reactors that are scheduled to be constructed in Maharashtra. The most important announcement made during the first leg to the trip was India’s decision to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets ’as quickly as possible, amidst speculations that it was considering scrapping the aircraft deal made in 2012.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India expects ’movement’ to seal Rafale fighter deal with France", The Economic Times, 10 April 2015; "Narendra Modi arrives in France", The Hindu, 10 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Interest rates unchanged

The Reserve Bank of India announced its decision to keep the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 7.50 percent. The RBI aims to maintain an ’accommodative stance’. There is however uncertainty regarding the next interest rate cut which will be dependent on consumer inflation, impact of the weather on food prices and crude oil prices. Earlier this year, the RBI cut interest rates twice by a total of 50 basis points.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "RBI keeps rates on hold, maintains easy stance", Reuters, 7 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Distressed farmers to get more

In the wake of unseasonal rains and hailstorms leading to farmer suicides and rural discontent, the Prime Minister announced an increase in input subsidy for distressed farmers by 50 percent of the existing amounts. In addition, the eligibility for input subsidy has been increased from the current 33 percent of crop damage to 50 percent. The maximum crop damage has been reported in Rajasthan with 45.52 lakh hectares followed by Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "PM announces relief for rain-hit farmers, increases compensation by 50%", The Times of India, 8 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’MUDRA Yojana’ launched

The Prime Minister launched the MUDRA Bank which is aimed at providing financial assistance to the 5.7 crore small scale enterprises operating across the country. The bank has a corpus of 20,000 crore rupees and credit guarantee corpus of 3,000 crore rupees. The bank will also register and regulate micro-finance institutions while formulating policy guidelines to prevent over indebtedness of borrowers.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : ""Narendra Modi launches Mudra Bank for small firms with Rs 20,000 crore corpus", The Economic Times, 9 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indigenous sub on trial

The nation has begun sea trials for its first indigenously-build Scorpene submarine off the coast of Mumbai on 6 April. The project is run jointly by the Mazagon Dock Ltd shipbuilding company, and the French DCNS. The submarine is the first of six diesel-powered submarines being built which, when inducted into the Indian Navy by 2018, are expected to enhance its ’Blue Water’ capability.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Scorpene Submarine, Built at Mumbai Docks, Launched Into Water", NDTV, 6 April 2015; "Ignoring SOPs reason for submarine mishaps: Parrikar", The Hindu, 6 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NSA visits Thailand

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval visited Thailand on a two-day trip to discuss maritime security, defence, and counter-terrorism. He met with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and other key ministers.

One of the salient objectives of the visit, it is reported, was to increase cooperation in advancing freedom of sea lanes of communication. Since last year, India has repeatedly raised the risk of China threatening access to the disputed South China Sea and restricting the transport of cargo ships, especially oil containers. India’s growing collaboration with Vietnam, Japan, and Thailand is seen as an effort to check China’s growing assertiveness.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India, Thailand agree to bolster defence cooperation: Ajit Doval", The Economic Times, 3 April 2015; "India, Thailand Agree to Bolster Defence Cooperation", NDTV, 3 April 2015.


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Yameen ’returns’ anti-Nasheed Bill

President Abdulla Yameen has returned to Parliament a Bill disqualifying political party membership for convicted prisoners like predecessor Mohammed Nasheed, even as the trial court that sentenced him to 13 years in jail in the ’Judge Abdulla case’ acquitted then army chief, Moosal Ali Jaleel, at present Defence Minister, in the same case ? and the Supreme Court sentenced a ruling party MP to 25 years’ imprisonment in a corruption case.

While returning the Bill, President Yameen has reportedly said barring political party membership for prisoners was un-democratic but has left untouched, the clause that bars them from leading political parties. Co-founder of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Nasheed heads the outfit at present.

Near-simultaneously, efforts seemed to be on for a political patch-up of some kind with Nasheed’s MDP ending month-long parliamentary protests, awaiting a dialogue-invitation from the Speaker, who outside had pointed to every democracy being flawed and still respecting their respective Supreme Court.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "President seeks changes to law barring Nasheed from MDP", Minivan News, 8 April 2015; High Court says Nasheed can still appeal", Minivan News, 4 April 2015; "Defense Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel acquitted from terrorism charges", Haveeru Online, 8 April 2015; "Appeal decision on Jaleel’s acquittal to be made after review", Haveeru Online, 9 April 2015; "Tholhath and Ziyad to be sentence tomorrow night", SunOnline, 9 April 2015; "Ruling party MP Nazim jailed for 25 years ", Minivan News, 6 April 2015; "Amal Clooney and other heavyweights to represent jailed ex President Nasheed", Minivan News, 7 April 2015; "No country will be perfect- Speaker", Miadhu, 8 April 2015; "Supreme Court decisions are respected even in bigger democracies- Speaker", Miadhu, 7 April 2015; "High Court sentences has to go to appeal at the Supreme Court in 60 days", SunOnline, 8 April 2015; "MDP stops parliament protests to allow for dialogue", SunOnline, April 7, 2015; "Parliament sitting under way, first time this year without protests", SunOnline, 7 April 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Call to freeze minister’s assets

Building upon the charge made by Adaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran that Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, who was in debts before joining the Government a year ago, had bestowed costly gifts on the First Lady since, the Opposition has demanded a freeze on his assets, pending inquiry.

The demand came even as the civil court declined the interim stay sought by Opposition Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group against the Government taking back resort islands allotted to it and demanding $ 100 million in tax and duty dues and fines.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Opposition calls for tourism minister asset freeze", Minivan News, 9 April 2015; "Sheikh Imran calls not to give and accept expensive gifts bought from peoples’ money", Miadhu, 7 April 2015 "Gasim’s Villa denied stay order in court battle", Minivan News, 9 April 2015; "Gasim meets with Chief Justice at Supreme Court", SunOnline, 8 April 2015; "Committee passes to delay implementation of new Penal Code", SunOnline, 9 April 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Longer lease on resorts

In what’s seen as a desperate attempt to shore up revenues, the Government has decided to extend up to 99 years the existing 50-year lease for resort-islands, against a down payment of $ 50 million.

The Government has also fixed a high $ 25,000 application fee for investors seeking to participate in President Abdulla Yameen’s ambitious SEZ programme, purportedly to keep off non-serious players, even as people protested against the regulation of electricity subsidy, impacting on individual pockets, badly.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : : "Government proposes $5m resort lease extensions", Minivan News, 7 April 2015; "Government to charge US $25,000 for SEZ applications", Minivan News, 5 April 2015; "Government’s economic policies have failed", Haveeru Online, 6 April 2015; "Businesses around Maldives protest electricity subsidy cut", Minivan News, 5 April 2015; "Subsidy cuts will cost 11 million per month", Haveeru Online, 6 April 2015; "Power subsidy deadline extended amid public anger", Minivan News, 8 April 2015; "Permanent water crisis for Maldives islanders", Minivan News, 8 April 2015; "Japan provides disaster reduction equipment worth MVR 64 million", SunOnline, April 7, 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bangladesh cautions expat labour

In the aftermath of a series of attacks on expatriate Bangladesh labour in Maldives, the nation’s High Commission in Male has publicly advised them against getting into quarrels with ’strangers’ in public places. This, even as the police arrested two persons, including an Immigration official, for fraudulently arranging Maldivian passports for some Syrians wanting to escape to Europe, and separately denied that their men were not involved in expat-labour frauds.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : : : "Bangladeshis warned not to fight with strangers", Haveeru Online, 9 April 2015; "Issuance of travel permits to be expedited, for expats willing to return to Bangladesh", SunOnline, April 9, 2015; "Immigration department denies migrant worker fraud", Minivan News, 9 April 2015; "Immigration staff arrested over passport scam for Syrians", Minivan News, 9 April 2015; "UN sees increase in Maldivian jihadists overseas", Minivan News, 4 April 2015


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Lukewarm response to dialogue

Political and ethnic leaders offered a lukewarm response to the latest round of 48-party dialogue with President Thein Sein held on 8 April. The discussion that is slated as a preliminary round before the long-awaited 6 party talks to be held on 10 April is said to have mirrored the round of talks held on 12 January.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Lukewarm Response to Latest 48-Party Confab", The Irrawaddy, 9 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Punished for ’child soldiers’

The Ministry of Home Affairs has punished 277 servicemen of the Burmese military for recruiting child soldiers, minister Brigadier General Kyaw Zan Myint has said in the Lower House on 8 April. Myint was responding to a question put by an M.P.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "277 servicemen punished for child soldier recruitment", Democratic Voice of Burma, 9 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Education demands omitted

Key demands of students and teacher’s organisations were omitted from inclusion in the amendment to the National Education Law, passed in the Lower House of Parliament on 8 April. An MP from Shan state said that while some clauses proposed by the organisations were kept, some key demands had been dropped.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Key student demands omitted as lower house passes amendment bill", Democratic Voice of Burma, 8 April 2015.


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rail-link thru Everest

China plans to build a 540-kilometre high-speed rail link between Tibet and Nepal, passing through a tunnel under Mt Everest, a move that could raise alarm in India about the Communist giant’s growing influence in its neighbourhood.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "China plans to build rail link with Nepal via tunnel under Mt Everest", Business Standard, 10 April 2015; "Alarm bells for India? China plans to build rail link with Nepal through Mount Everest", The Economic Times, 10 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Strike-call withdrawn

The proposed three-day general strike enforced by 30-party Opposition alliance on Tuesday turned violent across the country, with 20 vehicles and some government offices vandalised and set ablaze, Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement. Following this, the alliance cancelled its decision to hold bandh on the next two days.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal Opposition withdraws strike following violence", The Hindu, 8 April 2015; "Maoists firm on strike", Nepali Times, 6 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pipeline pact with India

The signing on the bilateral agreement regarding the 41-km Amlekhgunj-Raxaul petroleum pipeline project between Nepal and India is scheduled to take place within the next three weeks.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Petroleum pipeline pact within 3 weeks: Minister Thapa", eKantipur, 10 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Achievement in education

Nepal has made an impressive achievement in the education sector by attaining universal pre-primary and primary enrolment rate despite its conflict ending fairly recently, according to the Education For All Global Monitoring Report.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal’s achievement in edu sector ’impressive’", eKantipur, 10 April 2015.


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

The Lahore High Court has ordered the release of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi , Jamaat-ud- Dawa leader and alleged mastermind of the Mumbai 26/11 attack, as the Punjab government has failed to convince the court with regard to his detention.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "LHC orders Lakhvi release", The Nation, 10 April 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">CIA arrests TTP commander

The Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) has claimed to have arrested a member of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and commander of Harkatul Mujahideen who had allegedly kidnapped Colonel Imam, a retired Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "CIA arrest TTP commander from Lahore", The Express Tribune, 10 April 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Seeking sustainable talks with India

During her weekly press briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam emphasised that Pakistan is committed to a result-oriented, meaningful and sustainable dialogue process with India to resolve all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Pakistan wants sustainable dialogue with India: FO", The Nation, 10 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Counsels restraint on Yemen

While talking to Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called upon all Muslim countries to use their influence and counsel restraint and promote a spirit of mutual accommodation on the issue of Yemen. After resuming debate for the fifth day to discuss if Pakistan should join the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, the National Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution stating that Pakistan will remain neutral in the war and will play an active role in mediating peace.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Pakistan calls for restraint in Yemen", The Nation, 10 April 2015; "LIVE: Parliament decides to remain neutral in Saudi-led Yemen war", The Express Tribune, 10 April 2015; "Parliament calls for neutrality in Yemen conflict", Dawn, 10 April 2015.

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Referendum must for major 19-A changes: SC

In the mandated pre-legislative ’determination’ of proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the Supreme Court has held that the clauses empowering prime minister to head the Cabinet, and facilitating an overseeing body for the nation’s media required a public referendum, and other provisions could be passed through the less strenuous two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe promptly declared that the Government would make the changes, as advised, and present the 19-A Bill to Parliament on 20 April, three days ahead of the 23 April deadline for dissolving the House under the Government’s 100-day programme. In turn, President Maithripala Sirisena has said that he would order fresh elections once Parliament passed the Bill, without indicating the stand of the ’Opposition’ SLFP-UPFA that he heads.

Doubts however persist about a smooth passage even for the court-advised 19-A after the Government lost a Treasury Bill by 21 votes, and a total of 60 ’Opposition’ MPs joined hands to declare that they were considering a no-trust move in Parliament.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Birth of 19A to mark end of parliamentary term", The Island, 10 April 2015; "President: Parliament will be dissolved after passage of 19A", The Island, 9 April 2015; "Govt agrees to pursue 19 A after sorting out electoral reforms issue", The Island, 4 April 2015; "SLFP in no hurry to contest a General Election", The Island, 4 April 2015; "Opposition insists no half way solutions 19th A and electoral reforms must come to parliament together", The Island, 6 April 2015; "JHU joins Opposition in bid to torpedo 19A", The Island, 5 April 2015; "Taking up amended 19A on Wednesday a gross violation of the constitution - Prof. G. L. Peiris", The Island, 5 April 2015; "AG argues 19th Amendment will not require referendum", The Island, 6 April 2015; "Maithri behind attempts against 19A: Anura", Daily Mirror Online, 7 April 2015; "Sixty UPFA MPs announce no faith motion against govt", The Island, 8 April 2015; "Defeat of resolution: Govt. asked to resign Kiriella claims Nimal and John assured support", The Island, 8 April 2015; "Government not affected by defeat ? Ravi K. ", Daily Mirror Online, 8 April 2015; "Govt. bankrupting Treasury, claims Opposition Leader", The Island, 6 April 2015; "PM: ’Within 88 days we achieved more than MR regime did during 10 years’ Opposition pooh-poohs his claim demands debate", The Island, 7 April 2015; "SLFP to invite CBK, MR and MS for May Day rally", Daily Mirror Online, 6 April 2015; "Mahinda to join UPFA?rebels on May Day?", The Island, 8 April 2015; "Gammanpila challenges CBK to contest parliamentary polls", The Island, 7 April 2015; "CBK jeered at SLFP Balamandalaya", Daily Mirror Online, 9 April 2015; "Chandrika rules out returning to electoral politics: Says ’it’s very ugly’", The Island, 4 April 2015; "UNP behind moves to get MR back: Rajitha", Daily Mirror Online, 4 April 2015

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TNA opposes Indian fishers

Obviously under untested pressures of political administration in the Northern Province, ruling TNA leaders, led by R Sampanthan, joined party-controlled NPC’s Fisheries Minister N Deniswaran, to meet President Maithiripala Sirisena, and oppose Indian fishers’ recent proposals at last month’s third round of talks at the southern Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Govt., TNA see eye to eye on need to halt Indian poaching", The Island, 4 April 2015; "SL mulls punitive action to keep TN?poachers at bay", The Island, 7 April 2015; "Fishing: Failure to heed EU concerns costs SL dear", The Island, 7 April 2015; "Indian fishermen regret SL President’s stand", Daily Mirror Online, 3 April 2015; "Now, new governor, TNA on collision course over transfer of top officials", The Island, 5 April 2015; "Anandasangaree petitions Polls Chief against recognising TNA", The Island, 7 April 2015.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">N-deal with Pakistan

After visiting India, China and the UK, President Maithiripala Sirisena visited Pakistan, when the two nations signed six agreements, including one on nuclear cooperation of the kind signed with India and Russia, earlier. < class="text11verdana">For more information see: "SL, Pakistan sign nuclear agreement", Daily Mirror Online, 5 April 2015; "Lanka, Pakistan sign agreements to enhance bilateral cooperation", The Island, 6 April 2015

Primary Documentation


Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay’s visit to Srilanka, Bhutan Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 7 April 2015


Raghuram Rajan, "First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2015-16", Reserve Bank of India, 7 April 2015

"PM announces relief to farmers in distress", The Prime Minister’s official website, 8 April 2015

"PM launches Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana", The Prime Minister’s official website, 8 April 2015

"Rating Action: Moody’s affirms India’s Baa3 rating; changes outlook to positive", Moody’s Investors Service, 9 April 2015

"Prime Minister’s address to UNESCO", Ministry of External Affairs, 10 April 2015

"Keynote Address by Secretary (East) at the Round Table on ’’India-Morocco: Imperatives of cooperation’’ organised by The Society for Policy Studies (SPS)", Ministry of External Affairs, 10 April 2015


President calls for political dialogue before elections, President’s Office, 9 April 2015


Press Release issued by Embassy of Nepal, State of Kuwait, Ministry of External Affairs, 7 April 2015


Evacuation Mission Culminates after Bringing All Stranded Pakistanis Home, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 10 April 2015

Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 9th April 2015, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan,9 April 2015

11 Indian Nationals Evacuated From Yemen Leave for New Delhi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 8 April 2015

Fifth Round of Bilateral Political Consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Sultanate of Oman, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 8 April 2015

Pakistan Condemns Terrorist Act in Negour Iran, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 8 April 2015

Evacuation Update, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 5 April 2015

Evacuation Update, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 5 April 2015

Pakistan welcomes Iran-P5+1 understanding, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 4 April 2015

Crisis Management Cell Update, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 4 April 201

Curtain Raiser ? Visit of President of Sri Lanka to Pakistan (5-7 April 2015), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 3 April 2015



Opinion Pieces

Helena Malikyar, "Everything you don’t need to know about Mullah Omar", Al Jazeera , 7 April 2015

Nick Paton Walsh, "Afghanistan’s changing of the guard: ISIS recruits in Taliban territory", CNN, 6 April 2015

Haroun Mir, "Afghanistan stuck between Iran and Saudi Arabia", Al Jazeera, 6 April 2015


Opinion Pieces

Kuensel, "Food Safety first", Kuensel Online, 8 April 2015

Kuensel, "For a bigger and safer airport", Kuensel Online, 7 April 2015


Opinion Pieces

Vidya Subrahmaniam, "Nobody is clean in this ugly war", The Hindu, 11 April 2015

"Forced migration and homecoming", The Hindu, 10 April 2015

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, "My outrage and yours", The Indian Express, 7 April 2015

Milan Vaishnav, "Why a ’Congress-mukt Bharat’ would be bad for BJP", The Indian Express, 7 April 2015


Opinion Pieces

N Sathiya Moorthy, ""Maldives: Yameen ’returns’ Bill barring politics for Nasheed",, 8 April 2015

Hussain Shameem, "Comment: The old and new penal code", Minivan News, 6 April 2015

Latheefa Ahmed Verrall, "Comment: The darkest hour is just before the dawn", Minivan News, 4 April 2015


Opinion Pieces

Yamin Oo, "Thein Sein committed to charter reform talk", Democratic Voice of Burma,, 9 April 2015


Opinion Pieces

Navin Singh Khadka, "Hot air", eKantipur, 10 April 2015

Kanak Mani Dixit, "Shape and Sensibility", eKantipur, 10 April 2015

Deepak Thapa, "An Experiment with Truth", Nepali Times, 9 April 2015


Opinion Pieces

Nirupama Subramanian, "Pakistan’s yes-no question", The Indian Express, 10 April 2015

"Nuclear Fears in South Asia", The New York Times, 6 April 2015

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Gomin Dayasiri, "Living with minority governments till eternity", Daily Mirror Online, 10 April 2015

Kelum Bandara, "Treasury bill ordinance defeat in Parliament is it alarm bells for the Govt?" , Daily Mirror Online, 9 April 2015

Vidya Abeyagunawardene, "GSP-Plus: International conventions and Sri Lanka", Daily Mirror Online, 8 April 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Sri Lanka: Playing peace-maker between India and China?",, 8 April 2015

Dr Devanesan Nesiah, "Are Sri Lankan Tamils prone to collective political suicide?", The Island, 7 April 2015

Shamindra Ferdinando, "Indo-Lanka relations and Mahinda Rajapaksa having a ’soft spot’ for China", The Island, 7 April 2015

Rajeeva Jayaweera, "PM Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka ? some Negatives", The Island, 7 April 2015

Jehan Perera, "Constructive engagement with NPC will benefit people more", The Island, 7 April 2015

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Tigers back on the prowl", The Sunday Leader, 5 April 2015

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan : Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh : JoyeetaBhattacharjee;
Myanmar & Bhutan : Mihir Bhonsale;
India: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti and Shruti Gupta;
Maldives & Sri Lanka : N SathiyaMoorthy
Nepal : Pratnashree Basu;
Pakistan : Taruni Kumar

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