MonitorsPublished on Aug 08, 2014
From all accounts, the two-day visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal on August 2-3 was a success. It was also a demonstration of the BJP-led government's neighbourhood policy which seems to be at the core of country's foreign policy.
India: Prime Minister's visit opens up new chapter with Nepal
< class="heading1">Analysis

From all accounts, the two-day visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal on August 2-3 was a success. It was also a demonstration of the BJP-led government’s neighbourhood policy which seems to be at the core of country’s foreign policy.

By deciding to go on a state visit early in his tenure, the Prime Minister left none in doubt that India was serious in recharging age-old ties which had lost focus and momentum in recent years.

During his two-day stay in Kathmandu, Modi has created conditions for taking bilateral ties to a new level by addressing a session of the constituent assembly, interacting with Nepal’s broad spectrum of the political leadership and offering special ’Puja’ on the auspicious Monday of the holy month of Sravan at Lord Pashupatinath temple.

By announcing one billion dollars line of credit and expressing country’s readiness to revise the 1950 India-Nepal friendship treaty which has been in the eye of troubles for few decades now, Modi succeeded in preparing the ground for building up a new edifice of mutually beneficial bilateral relationship.

India’s decision to deepen energy links with Nepal is going to demonstrate New Delhi’s desire to take concrete steps for the energy security of the neighbour. By agreeing to establish a two-phased products pipeline, which will eventually carry petroleum products from Raxaul in Bihar to Kathmandu, the BJP-led NDA government is initiating steps to address pressing needs of the neighbour.

Keeping India’s interests and needs in focus, the Prime Minister intelligently drove a significant point with his hosts that Nepal’s hydel power potential could be, rather should be, harnessed for the benefit of the two people and offered New Delhi’s help and support in this area. Cooperation in this area was a win-win situation for both the countries and their people, he stressed.

’Greater heights than Himalayas’

The Prime Minister did his best to put to rest justified and unjustified fears and apprehensions about India’s interference in the internal affairs of Nepal and promised all help and support to the neighbour to "scale heights greater than Himalayas".

Modi said he wanted to HIT Nepal" with "H" for highways, I for informationways and T for transmissionways", and that India was ready to share scientific applications in agriculture, even its soil health care initiative to help the farmers of Nepal.

"You decide what needs to be done, India will stand by you", Modi said sending signals of positive new approach of his government to Nepal. He left no occasion to reiterate India’s firm commitment to development and progress of the neighbour.

By speaking a few words in Nepali and expressing gratitude for giving him the honour and privilege to be the first guest to address the Parliament, Modi touched an emotional chord with the host country. His words that it was not just an honour for him but to the 125 crore people of India left an impression with the people and leaders.

At the same time, he also urged Nepal’s lawmakers to draft a "carefully thought" and "visionary" constitution at the earliest and reminded them that "a constitution joins, never direction to the country".

Speaking at the banquet hosted by Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Modi said "I am happy I came here so early in my tenure. I will make every effort to continue my journey with Nepal during my remaining days in office."

It was more than evident in the words of Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal ’Prachanda’, who said that Modi had not only touched the feelings of the people of Nepal but also won their hearts and hailed the visit as "historic". Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said Modi’s words "have gone a long way in rebuilding trust".

Thus Modi not only won the hearts of the Nepalese people but turned even his bitterest foes like the Maoists to friends by his words and promised action.

Unlocking hydro-power

Modi’s speech to Nepalese Constituent Assembly is historic in what it seeks to achieve. It seeks to unlock about 100000 MW of potential energy and harness the waters of hope that flow from Himalayas into a source of perpetual Power.

"Nepal is so rich in terms of water that it can remove darkness in India. We don’t want free power, we want to buy it. A development course has to be chartered. You decide (on tapping hydel power), we will be with you. You can make a place on the world stage by simply selling electricity... We will double the electricity we are giving you today. In 10 years, you will be helping us..."

Modi said authorities have been directed to expedite completion of the detailed project report on the Pancheshwar multi-purpose project. Work on the 5600 MW project should start in a year. "It will give you five times more power than what you have at present. India wants to help... And if a bridge on the Mahakali river is made, it will reduce distance between us", the Prime Minister said and promised to improve telephonic connectivity between the two people who have to pay much more for talking across the borders. Let alone harnessing the entire hydel power potential, even if two major projects, Mahakali and Saptakosi are harnessed, Nepal, UP, Bihar and Delhi would be transformed into Europe. Nepal can expect an inflow of about $ 500 billion into its economy and about a million jobs in Himalayas and down-stream over the next 10 years.

Modi also put ties with Nepal in the regional perspective when he talked of the SAARC satellite which India was going to launch for the benefit of all member countries.

The Prime Minister’s journey to Nepal has sent a clear message to over 24 million people that India was their true friend and well-wisher.

The visit by an Indian Prime Minister after a gap of 17 years could indeed usher a new era of bilateral relationship if words are translated into action on ground. Modi would need to monitor implementation of his promises very closely as often enough in the past country’s bureaucracy and vested interests have succeeded in thwarting the positive intent of the decisions taken at the political level.

As the saying goes that devil lies in details, Modi, if he earnestly meant what he said and promised during his two days stay on the Nepalese soil, would have to keep the Indian administrative machinery on its toes to achieve the set goal of evolving a framework of cooperative and mutually beneficial neighbourhood.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maldives: Street violence and death-threats, a new cause for concern

N Sathiya Moorthy

Close to 10 separate incidents of stabbing and assault, including two fatalities, and suddenly ’gang violence’ has returned to the Maldivian capital of Male in particular. Add to that SMS death-threats to over half a dozen Opposition members of Parliament, including three women apart from former Speaker Abdulla Shahid, and also 15 journalists, and the emerging picture is discomforting for the administration of President Abdulla Yameen within months of his coming to power.

The attacks come at a time when the government was looking up to having full five years of political stability, in turn facilitating attempts at economic recovery. For a tourism-driven economy, which is otherwise facing structural and operational problems unrelated to increasing tourist-arrivals, it is saying a lot. The current apprehension thus come in the form of a possible return to the days of erstwhile Presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Mohammed Nasheed and Waheed Hassan Manik. In those times, overseas propaganda linked to domestic political instability and street-violence had contributed to anxieties about international tourism taking a beating, and impacting on the floundering economy even more.

In his Independence Day address to the nation on 26 July, thus, President Yameen said that forces within the country and outside were trying to create chaos in the country, so as to impact on the nation’s tourism economy. Opposition MDP leader and former President Nasheed pooh-poohed the claims and said that the government leader was trying to find excuses for poor performance and not being able to meet the expectations of the voters. The MDP has also made a public issue of the death-threats to its MPs, and naturally so.

Gang war, or religious violence?

The question today is as much about who is behind these assaults and SMS threats as it is about the identity of the victims. According to local media reports, most victims of street-violence, as different from the SMS threats, seem to be innocent people, unconnected with any political party or criminal gangs, for which Male city in particular has acquired notoriety - and avoidable negative publicity -- over the past decade or so, coinciding ironically with the emergence of pro-democracy movement. It has had political overtones, as well.

During the later years of the Gayoom presidency, which ended in November 2008, the fledgling pro-democracy movement would charge government leaders with encouraging ’street gangs’. Later during the days of pro-democracy MDP President Nasheed’s regime, the Opposition would blame the government granting amnesty to 400-odd imprisoned gang-members and other criminals as a cause for the sense of insecurity purportedly prevailing on the streets. The charges included ’released gang members’ resorting to arson and violence at the height of the MDP’s ’anti-coup’ protests of 8 February 2012 in the nation’s urban, ’population centres’.

Though Male in particular has been known for its gangs and gang-wars, there is nothing to suggest that the victims were members of any gang, or had any other specific reason to become a target. Nor has there been any recent reports, particularly in the local media, about the revival of gang wars, big-time. SMS threats to journalists have warned them of attacks if they continued to report against gangs. However, there are no reports about such references in the threats to politicians.

In context, the MDP-sympathetic Minivan News web-journal has referred to "a number of abductions and assaults in the capital" in the weeks prior to the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. According to Minivan News, the "victims claimed to have been related to their alleged association with online secularist movements". However, the web-journal had this to add: "While an online group associating itself with these earlier incidents had promised a post-Ramadan resumption of campaigning against those perceived to be mocking Islam, police have not said whether they believe this week’s attacks are linked to one another."

As the Minivan News pointed out, in the death-threats sent to some of the MPs, the perpetrators referred to the murder of Ungoofaaru constituency MP and Islamic scholar in October 2012."It is not a sin to kill those who challenge Allah’s words and call for freedom of religion. Afrasheem Ali was an example," reportedly read the message.

"While the murder of Dr Afrasheem was the most shocking attack on an elected representative in the country’s history, former MDP MP Alhan Fahmy was left unable to walk for months after being stabbed in the back in February this year," according to the Minivan News. "The safety and rights of MPs have previously been a concern of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which in November 2013 arranged an emergency visit to the Maldives," the web-journal said in reference to the past.

Possibly at the instance of the threatened MDP parliamentarians this time round, the IPU has called upon the government to make a speedy investigation and offer them full protection. In a statement, IPU Secretary- General Martin Chungong said "the authorities’ response to the threats and their capacity to promote, with the help of the Opposition, real inclusiveness and political dialogue will be a litmus test for the democratic process in Maldives."

It is unclear what the IPU was/is driving at. Whether it was referring to ’political inclusiveness’ and/or ’social inclusiveness’ is unclear. Likewise, its call for a ’political dialogue’ is not qualified as to what is expected of the government - if it was expecting a dialogue on political and constitutional reforms, if any, or of penal law management, enforcement and related matters, or whatever else.

Crime and cyber crime

According to Minivan News, "Male’s gang culture has been well-documented in recent years, with leading politicians and businessmen often closely associated with organised criminals." Quoting police statistics, the web-journal reported 95 incidents of assault in July alone. "The number brings up the total number of assault cases to 697 this year."

However, the Minivan News also pointed out: "Approximately 1500 cases of assault are reported annually in Maldives, of which a majority occur in Male." If statistics is anything to go by, and the trajectory did not alter in the coming months, the annual figure might have fallen, not risen at the end of the year. Or, so would it seem. What is alarming in context is the fatality linked to the attacks this time round. For now, the Maldives Police Service (MPS) has launched investigations into the attacks. The Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), entrusted with Parliament’s security under the Constitution, has also commenced discussions with the Majlis’ Secretariat, to ensure the safety and security of MPs.

Other media reports have quoted the mobile company to which most SMS numbers belong, citing the possibility of the perpetrators using freely-available internet software to disguise the sender’s number(s). At a time when the social media targeting local audience is active from both within and outside the country, the security agencies may have a tough task on hand.

It may require cooperation with security and cyber-security agencies in other countries, far and near, both in identifying the perpetrators of the SMS messages in particular - and their apprehension for standing trial in Maldivian courts, if found necessary. As may be recalled, through the Nasheed years in office and afterward, phone-tapping and social media expose of the same had become common place - no questions asked, no investigations initiated, or followed up.

In the weeks prior to the fasting month of Ramadan, reports about two Maldivians dying in the ’civil war in Syria’ went viral on the social media. It was/is unclear when the two middle-aged men, said to be among the 20-odd Maldivians in the Syrian war, had left the country.The age and social background of others who were believed to be participating in the ’Syrian war’ is also unclear.

However, the reports about the death of two in Syria put the Government completely on the defensive, compelled as it was to prove that Maldives was not slipping into the hands of jihadists. True or false, such reports have the potential to threaten political stability and economic recovery - particularly the tourism industry -- in that order or in the reverse.

Coming down on gangs

Whatever the cause for street-violence and SMS phone-threats, there has been some let-up in the past week - or, so it seems. With cooperation from the Urban Development Ministry and the Male City Council, which passed a special resolution for the police to put down street-violence in the Capital, the MPS has been removing illegal street-corner huts that have become the hang-out of gangs and gang-members in many cases. Through raids on gang hide-outs and hang-outs, the police has also recovered arms and drugs, which is also said to be behind street-violence and gang wars for years now.

As if by coincidence, Parliament also passed a pending Bill during the period, empowering investigators to ’impound’ the passports of those wanted for criminal offences, without a court order. The legality and the constitutionality of the new legislation may be challenged in the court, with particular reference to democratisation-driven human rights concerns. The ’political misuse’ of the law might also become an issue.

Yet, the new law might help the police to nab gangsters and other criminals making good their escape by air after coming under the scanner of law-enforcing authorities. In recent times, there have been instances of gang leaders on bail slipping away from Maldives without court clearance, until brought back home to face trial with the cooperation of the law-enforcers in other countries.

Disciplining/de-politicisng the police?

Independent of the current recurrence of street-violence and threats, it may also be time that the MPS, among other law-enforcement agencies of the State, looked internally to check indiscipline and over-politicisation of the uniformed services, including the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), the nation’s multi-wing armed Services. As Attorney-General Mohammed Anil told Parliament at the height of street-violence, the MPS, for instance, had defied orders of the constitutionally-mandated Police Integrity Commission (PIC) to dismiss six police officers at the height of the 2012 leadership-change.

AG Anil told Parliament that some of those directed to be sacked were instead given better posting. It is possible that political motives might be attributed to the PIC decision of time, as the recommended dismissals referred to action/inaction dating to the ’power-transfer’ problems of February 2012. Rather than following up on the PIC decision, expecting those sacked to move the courts, if they found the justification and need, the MPS hierarchy has sat over the same - maybe as a part of the welcome reconciliation processes of the time. Thus unavoidable contradictions of the kind too galore.

Even otherwise, ’politicisation of the uniformed services’ has been a near-eternal topic for hot public discourse from time to time, particularly since the advent of the democratisation movement. Though the nation has seen four Presidents in the past six years, no government is known to have undertaken any serious initiative to de-politicise the uniformed services, and to free them of corruption and corrupt practices at all levels.

Suffice is to point out that politicisation of the uniformed services, like with civilian bureaucracy, often starts at the top, which is not the case in most other democracies. Instead of addressing the concerns on this score, successive governments have played partisan politics with top-level postings, not only in the police services but also the MNDF. Better or worse still, they have also known how to politically exploit the unquestioned discipline of the MNDF as against the MPS, which at times had tended to suspect/question the legality and prospective judicial adversity of such orders, based on experience and precedents.

Social and political factors

Whether gangs are involved in the recent attacks, or religious zealots in the death-threats to politicians and journalists, there are social and political factors that need to be understood and addressed, too. For a moderate Islamic nation, which overseas critics of the country, often blame as being on the verge of taking to religious fundamentalism/extremism, Maldives has a very high rate of divorce, with not much of a provision being made often for the medium and long-term physical, financial or emotional care and support of children from broken marriages.

Maldives in general and Male and other urban centres in particular are also known for the high pressure on housing. Tourism-driven economy boom since the late Seventies fuelled the Government’s thrust on providing better education and healthcare, both as a social commitment and political promise. ’Resort tourism’ also made education affordable to the people, many of whom expanded the scope of a traditional practice, which in the West, for instance, would have led to the emergence of ’nucleus families’.

In Maldives, instead, more and more families began sending their children to Male and other urban centres, to stay with local relatives and pursue their education, or hunt for employment or even take up a job. According to published narratives, aspiring students used to be sent to the homes of friends and relatives in neighbouring Sri Lanka in an earlier generation - but their numbers were also few. Not in Male any time after the mid-Eighties. The pressure on housing and within individual housing units are real, however much successive Governments have stepped in to address the problem, with overseas aid and investment, to boot.

Poorly educated owing possibly to no fault of their own, children of divorced parents or those in crowded homes are said to be taking to drug-pushing to support themselves financially, and later fall prey to drugs, themselves. In a polarised polity, where societal and family linkages are otherwise strong, gangs also become an easy and faceless tool for political rivals to settle scores - or, to add numbers, voice, noise and at times muscle-power to political rallies.

Maldives also possibly suffers from high expectations by and from children, whose education invariably has to end at A-Level. The government as the main employer has been forced to cut down on job-recruitment owing to the unavoidable need for economic re-structuring, in recent years. At one time, it used to be 10 percent of the nation’s population, or 35,000. Today, it has been reduced to seven percent or 25,000. Considering that the salaries for them constitute the fixed monthly income of most families, it automatically links to nearly the half of the nation’s electorate - and thus a sensitive political issue. In balance, poor government recruitment too has consequences for society and social order.

Through the 2008 presidential campaign and after coming to power, the Nasheed leadership had publicly stated that the outgoing Gayoom presidency, for instance, had bloated the bureaucracy with high recruitment years that the nation’s finances could not support. Yet, the MDP regime also added numbers to the payment rolls by making elected representatives of the people eligible for term-bound, fixed monthly payment out of the Exchequer, with perks to boot. Again, a political tit-for-tat, neither addressed the real and attendant issues, be they economic or societal.

Though no studies seem to have been undertaken, there are reasons to believe that high and personalised expectations and aspirations from the democratisation process, and the inability of the scheme and leaderships to deliver on the same, may have also contributed to frustrated youth in a religion-centric, non-leftist nation taking to fundamentalist ideas, in a big way or small. This is apart from those who had taken to religion more seriously than the rest, and may have been influenced by available material on the social media and otherwise.

To either group, successive governments in this age of increasing youth population (variously put at 40-60 percent, depending on the aspect that is being looked at) has seldom addressed the concerns of the youth, though as political parties they have been talking about the same youth and the same issues while in the Opposition. Political parties and leaderships having got used to attributing gang-violence and drug-menace to their rivals, or to the party and leader in power, it all have become part of electoral rhetoric rather than a politico-administrative issue of grave national concern.

So has ’religion-centric’ approach to what essentially are administrative issues and concerns. Considering that the Yameen administration is not unlikely to survive full five years of its elected term, religion-centric campaigns against the leadership is sure to put the government and the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), headed by his half-brother and former President Gayoom on the defensive. At the height of the social media expose/propaganda on the two Maldivians who died in the ’Syrian civil war’, President Yameen was put on the defensive, when he or his government need not have taken the blame.

Opportunity or challenge?

At a public function in the midst of the spate of street-violence, President Yameen said it was "about time that youth come to their senses with what they are doing." It could be contextualised also to religious fanatics resorting to death-threats and violence as to gangs and gang-wars. As he sought to reassure foreign investors and tourists in particular, "Maldives is not a country that is infested with stabbing, Maldives is not a country that is infested with these kinds of juvenile delinquencies or crime. These are isolated incidents."

In this context, President Yameen took a dig at the foreign media. "Whatever foreign media writes about Maldives, what can clearly be said about Maldives today is that after all the political difficulties we have had in the past, and thanks to some of the foreign interventions in these - that certainly did not make our lives easier - but that is a story of the past?Today we have a strong government, we have the support of the public and we also have a strong support in Parliament."

All these, to be sure, have provided President Yameen with a great opportunity and greater responsibility. Political stability having been taken for granted, unlike in the case of his two predecessors, Maldivians would expect his government to perform on all fronts, starting with law and order, which is of great concern to the average citizen-voter than possibly any other politico-administrative issue.

President Yameen, his party and his government need to remember that when the next round of national elections happen, starting with one for the presidency, full 10 years after democratisation, he and his leadership would be the main poll issue the next time round - whatever the MDP or other political rivals would want to believe, or want the voter to believe. It’s as much an opportunity as it is a challenge. The reverse is also true.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Karzai’s camp accused of electoral fraud

Dr Abdullah Abdullah accused the second vice president of incumbent president Hamid Karzai, Mohammad Karim Khalili of electoral fraud in favour of his rival, Dr Ashraf Ghani. Dr Abdullah’s camp released audiotapes, which suggest large-scale electoral rigging. This has been denied by Mr Khalili, who called upon the UN to investigate the authenticity of the tapes.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Khalili Calls on UN to Verify Authenticity of Audiotape", Tolo News, 6 August 2014; "Abdullah Camp Accuses Karzai’s Second VP of Electoral Fraud",Tolo News, 3 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Differences over auditing process continues

There continue to remain serious differences between the two candidates over the auditing process, with disagreements leading to physical brawls between the two camps. The process has already been delayed on a number of occasions and the slow pace of the process has been heavily criticised by various election observing bodies. President Karzai, in the meanwhile, declared that the final result should be announced by the end of August.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Karzai says election results must be announced by August end", Khaama Press, 7 August 2014; "Election Monitors Criticize Audit Process", Tolo News, 7 August 2014; "Audit Process Leads to Physical Brawls Between Electoral Teams", Tolo News, 6 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">John Kerry arrives in Afghanistan

US Secretary of State John Kerry made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan in an effort to negotiate an agreement between the two presidential candidates.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Kerry arrives in Afghanistan to meet presidential candidates", Khaama Press, 7 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Insider attack kills US Maj. Gen.

An Afghan soldier opened fire on foreign forces at a military academy in Kabul killing a two-star US Major General and wounding 16 others, which included US, British, German and Afghan soldiers. The Pentagon spokesman said that while such attacks are a serious threat they will not affect the trust between the Afghan and foreign forces.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Insider Attack Will Not Shatter Trust Between Afghan and Foreign Forces: Pentagon", Tolo News, 6 August 2014; "Afghan Insider Attack on Base Kills 1, Wounds 16", Tolo News, 5 August 2014

Primary Documentation

< class="text11verdana">Condolence Statement from the Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno for the Loss of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene, US Department of Defense, 5 August 2014


Opinion Pieces

< class="text11verdana">Dmitry Shlapentokh, "Russian elite views of Afghanistan on the eve of the US departure", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 8 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Catherine Maddux, "Divisions, Harsh Realities Plague Obama’s Afghan Surge",Voice of America, 7 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Elliot Ackerman, "Waiting out the Afghan War", New Yorker, 6 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Frances Z. Brown, "Stabilizing Provincial Afghanistan: How to Get it Right", Foreign Policy, 5 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">AkhileshPillalamarri, "Why the US Spent More on Afghanistan Than on the Marshall Plan", The Diplomat, 2 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India to increase non-lethal weapons at Bangladesh border

To strengthen friendship with Bangladesh, India’s Border Security Force in charge of guarding the border with Bangladesh, has decided to increase deployment of non-lethal weapons with its patrol troops. The deployment of non-lethal weapon has greatly helped in controlling death at the border, an issue Bangladesh often complains about.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "BSF plans to deploy non-lethal weapons at Indo-Bangla border",,New Age, 3 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Call to transfer war trials to third country

Questioning impartially of the ongoing trial of war crime of the Counsels of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, who are facing war crimes charges, have demanded that the trials be shifted to a third country and monitored by United Nationals. Jamaat Counsels made their demand during their meeting with Stephen J Rapp, United States Envoy of War Crimes, during this visit to Bangladesh this week. Meanwhile, Rapp informed that his country supports the ongoing war crimes trials in Bangladesh.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Jamaat: Transfer war trials to another country",Dhaka Tribune, 5 August 2014; "US supports trial for war crimes: Rapp",The Daily Star, 5 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">River ferry sinks

Around 33 people are confirmed dead and more than 100 missing as an overcrowded river ferry sank in the Padma river near Lauhajangupazila of Munshiganj in central Bangladesh. This unfortunate incident followed within two months after another ferry capsized in the Meghnariver in Munshiganj, leaving at least 55 people dead. Repeated accidents of river ferries raised serious question about the safety of the river transport, a major mode of communication in Bangladesh.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Padma death toll rises to 33 MV Pinak-6 still remains untraced", New Age, 8 August 2014; "More than 100 feared dead", The Daily Star, 5 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New national broadcasting policy

The cabinet this week approved the National Broadcast Policy-2014. The policy has been specially drafted to restrict publication of false and misleading information and statistics by the media. The policy has generated controversy. The popular feeling is that the policy will substantially curtail media freedom. The policy has left scope for the government to misuse it in the name of maintaining standard of news, programmes and advertisements in the electronic media.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : ""Strict monitoring, plenty of scope for misuse"The Daily Star, 5 August 2014

Primary Documentation

< class="text11verdana">Press release on the meeting between Dr.Gowher Rizvi, Advisor to the Prime Minister on International Affairs and Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Javad Zarif in Tehran on 4 August 2014, , Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh, 5 August 2014



< class="text11verdana">"Bangladesh 2013 International Religious Freedom Report", , US Department of State

Opinion pieces

< class="text11verdana">Sam Bateman, ""Resolution of Bangladesh-India Maritime Boundary: Model for South China Sea Disputes?",RSIS Commentary, 7 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Izaz Hossain, ""Deepwater exploration in the Bay of Bengal", The Daily Star, 4 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India, Bhutan to cooperate in farming

India and Bhutan agreed to strengthen strategic cooperation in farming and allied sectors in a development on 6 August. Radha Mohan Singh, Union Agriculture Minister assured his Bhutanese counterpart, YeshjiDorji that utmost importance will be given to the proposals discussed during the Indian Prime Minister, NarendraModi’s visit to Bhutan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "India Bhutan agree to strengthen cooperation in farm sector", ,Business Standard, 6 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New Indian envoy assumes office

India’s new Ambassador to Bhutan, GautamBambawale presented his credentials to the King of Bhutan on 6 August at Tashichdzong on 6 August. Bambawale said the objective during his tenure would be to add content, substance and provide further momentum to the ’Bharat for Bhutan’ partnership.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indian Ambassador presents credentials",Kuensel Online, 6 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Japan to help re-build bridges

Three bridges along the Thimphu- Trashigang highway, the life of which have expired would be built with the help of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The bridges are set to facilitate the transport of heavy mechanical equipments for hydropower projects.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "JICA to help reconstruct bridges on Thimphu- Trashigang highway"Kuensel Online, 7 August 2014

Primary Documentation

< class="text11verdana">Press Release: Bhutan to Chair 70TH Session UNESCAP, , 6 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Press Release on 22nd Round of Bhutan- China boundary talks, ,4 August 2014


Opinion pieces

< class="text11verdana">S Chandrasekharan, ""Bhutan: One year after elections: Analysis",Eurasian Review, 2 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Brian Benedictus, ""Bhutan and the great power tussle", The Diplomat, 2 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Saharanpur riots cause protests in Parliament

Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, remained restive after a riot broke out between the Muslim and Sikh community on July 29 in which three people were killed. Congress and BJP accused each other of instigating violence; former Congress leader Imran Masood has been booked. Reports suggest that a police officer received bribes to allow illegal construction which led to the disagreement. The timing of the crisis, however, is conspicuous. Electoral incentives are the principal reason behind riots in India; by-elections will be held in Saharanpur Assembly seat next month, along with 12 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The riot received significant attention in the ongoing Parliament session; members of the Opposition accused the Modi government of condoning an increase in communal violence since coming to power.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Communal violence: Congress spearheads Opposition protest in LS", The Hindu, 6 August 2014; "Saharanpur clash: Former Congress MLA Imran Masood booked for rioting", India Today, 8 August 2014; "In Riot-Hit Saharanpur, Eid in the Shadow of Curfew", NDTV, 29 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">John Kerry meets PM Modi, discusses strategic relations

US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1 August as a prelude to the Washington summit to be held in September. They discussed bilateral issues and strategic relations between the two countries with PM Modi underlining the need for developed nations to take into account the challenges of poverty in less developed countries and their governments’ responsibilities in meeting those challenges at international forums.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "NarendraModi: Developing countries’ challenges should be kept in mind",Livemint, 1 August 2014;and "US President Barack Obama looking forward to set ’new agenda’ with NarendraModi", The Economic Times, 1 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM Modi visits Nepal to strengthen ties

PM Modi met with Nepalese PM SushilKoirala on his two day visit to Nepal. The two leaders signed three pacts and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in key sectors including trade, investment, hydropower and agriculture. Modi also gave a speech to Nepal’s Constituent Assembly where he announced $1 billion as a concessional line of credit to Nepal and proposed a "HIT" formula for Nepal, where the focus would be on ’H’ for highways, ’I’ for information technology, and ’T’ for transmission lines for electricity.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Narendra Modi meets Sushil Koirala, three agreements signed",The Economic Times, 3 August 2014; "PM Modi announces US $1 billion concessional line of credit to Nepal", NDTV, 3 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India announces sops for Nepal

In Indian Prime Minister’s first visit to Nepal in 17 years, Mr Narendra Modi announced an array of sops with the Nepal government. India will assist in the construction of a multi-lane motorable bridge on Mahakali River to facilitate shorter and easier route between western Nepal and Uttar Pradesh. The leaders of both countries also agreed to conclude a Power Trade Agreement (PTA) - a framework pact for the commerce and power sector within 45 days. PM Modi also donated 2,500 kilograms of sandalwood to Pashupatinath temple and promised to provide assistance for restoration and renovation.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "PM NarendraModi winds up Nepal visit with slew of sops", India Today, 4 August 2014; "PM NarendraModi’s Nepal visit: Unfurling vision of an integrated South Asia",The Economic Times, 5 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UPSC row continues to stall Parliament

Disagreement over the format of the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT), which selects candidates into various branches of the state administration, stalled Parliament proceeding for the second week in a row as the opposition criticised the government for failing to remedy the ’language apartheid’, the supposed privilege afforded to urban English speaking candidates in the current structure of the CSAT test. With this year’s test approaching on August 24, the Opposition demanded immediate changes in test format, leading to adjournment of several sessions in both Houses. The Government’s decision to convene an all-party meeting, a time honoured delaying tactic, indicates its strategy to let the matter subside after the test which is due in a few weeks.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "UPSC row: protests outside Rajnath’s house", The Hindu, 2 August, 2014; "Govt to convene all-party meet on UPSC row", The Times of India, 6 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Controversy in Kashmir over proposed Hindu pilgrimage

The Hurriyat Conference continued its protests over the state government’s earlier decision to grant permission to pilgrims to perform religious services at Kousar Nag, a natural spring located at the Pir Panchal mountain range, revered by the Kashmiri Pandit community. Following protests last week in Srinagar, Anantnag, and Sopore, the Omar Abdullah government had halted the pilgrimage from the Kashmir side. Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani was not content; he demanded that the yatra be closed from the Jammu side as well. "Until this yatra or puja is also stopped from the Reasi route, our resistance movement against it will continue," said the octogenarian leader.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "More trouble over Kousar Nag yatra", The Hindu, 1 August 2014; "Tension in Kashmir over Kausar Nag yatra", Hindustan Times, 2 August, 2014; "’Cancelling the Kousar Nag yatra shows the state’s brazen intolerance towards pluralism’" Rediff, 3 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Former diplomat appointed new Dy. NSA

Former diplomat Arvind Gupta was appointed the deputy National Security Advisor on August 4 after his predecessor, Nehchal Sandhu, resigned on grounds of ’personal reasons’. Gupta will concurrently hold the post of Secretary, National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) as well. The 1979 batch Foreign Service officer has served as Director-General of Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) since 2012. Sandhu’s resignation, more than 20 months before his contract was to terminate, adds to speculation that the Modi government is jettisoning political appointments made by the previous UPA-2 administration. Earlier, in July, Joint Intelligence Chief AjitLal and Military Adviser Lt. General Prakash Menon’s tenure was also not extended.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Deputy NSA puts in his papers",The Hindu, 1 August 2014; "Ex-IFS officer Gupta appointed Dy NSA", The Indian Express, August 5, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UN supports India’s tough stand on WTO

UN body for development of agriculture International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) supported India’s stand at WTO on the food security issue. IFAD President KanayoNwanze said that ensuring food for people must be prioritised over creating jobs in other nations.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "India’s tough stand on WTO gets support from UN body",The Times of India, 4 August 2014; "UN body backs India’s stand on food security at WTO", The Hindu Business Line, 4 August 2014;"India’s tough stand at WTO draws support from UN body IFAD",Financial Express, 5 August 2014

Primary Documentation

< class="text11verdana">Joint Press Statement on the Visit of the Prime Minister to Nepal, 4 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Joint Statement on the Fifth India-U.S. Strategic Dialogue, 31 July 2014

< class="text11verdana">PMO Statement on Meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, 1 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Statement by Ambassador Asoke K. Mukerji, Permanent Representative of India at the informal meeting of the UNGA concerning the situation in Gaza, 6 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Statement by the Hurriyat Conference on the Kousar Nag controversy, 2 August 2014



< class="text11verdana">Natwar Singh, One Life Is Not Enough - An Autobiography, New Delhi, Rupa Publication, 2014

Opinion pieces

< class="text11verdana">Rama Lakshmi,"Modi’s speech in Nepal shows India is paying attention to its neighbours", ,Washington Post, 5 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">W.P.S. Sidhu,"A transformative India-US Dialogue?", Livemint, 4 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Brahma Chellaney,"A world to woo: Modi must set the bar higher on foreign policy", Hindustan Times, 6 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Yogendra Yadav,"And the winner is English", The Indian Express, 4 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Jaya Bhattacharji Rose ,"Stories on conflict", The Hindu, 2 August, 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">GMR did not undertake risk assessment: Yameen

While cautioning foreign investors about the importance of political risk assessment before investing in countries such as the Maldives, President Abdulla Yameen has said, "At a time when you had a very heightened political environment in Maldives, at a time when Parliament was polarised, it was a pity that political risk assessment was not undertaken by GMR" before the Male airport deal.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "GMR failed to conduct political risk assessment prior to investing, says President Yameen", Minivan News, 6 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Oil exploration by German vessel

A German research vessel ’Sonne’ with 25 scientists on-board, re-visiting Maldives after 2007 for studying climate-change impact on sea-levels, has agreed to do the oil exploration research for free, the government has said.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Maldives to begin oil exploration with assistance of research vessel", Minivan News, 7 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Unchecked deficit could stall salary payments

Shortfalls in revenues despite Parliament increasing taxes, leading to the ballooning of budget deficit, despite repeated warnings by the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), can affect the Government’s ability to pay civil servants, though so far it has remained unaffected, says Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Finance minister fears spiralling deficit will leave civil servants without pay", Minivan News, 6 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Suspended HC Chief Justice demoted

Over a year after his indefinite suspension on the very day he was to have heard an appeal against the constitution of a three-judge trial court to try a criminal case against former President Mohammed Nasheed, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has transferred High Court Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef to the Juvenile Court as a disciplinary measure.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "JSC demotes High Court Chief Judge Shareef to Juvenile Court", Minivan News, 7 August 2014,

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Death-threats to MPs test of democracy: IPU

In the face of SMS-bound death-threats to at least seven members of Parliament (apart from 15-odd journalists) and a sudden surge in street-assaults, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has called on the Maldivian Government to make a speedy investigation into the death threats against opposition MPs and to offer them full protection, saying the authorities’ reaction to the attacks is a ’test of democracy’.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Authorities’ reaction to death-threats to MPs a test of democracy, says IPU", Minivan News, 6 August 2014,"15 journalists receive death threats over gang reporting", Minivan News, 4 August 2014" Police to dismantle huts in Malé to curb gang violence", Minivan News 6 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Telethon, human-chain for Gaza fund-raising

Numerous media organisations in Maldives have initiated a 33-hour telethon titled ’I will also help’ to raise funds for victims of the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza, which has totalled $ 350,000 thus far. The organisers will also assist in arranging a human-chain across the capital Male for the purpose.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Maldivians to take Gaza fundraising efforts to new heights", Minivan News, 6 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US Secretary to visit Myanmar

US Secretary of State, John Kerry will visit Myanmar on 9 August on his tour to Asia-Pacific region. He will attend the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting and East Asia Forum Meeting to be held in Nay Pyi Taw.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "U.S. Diplomat arrives in Myanmar later this week"Burma News International, 7 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Heavy floods hit Mon and Rakhine state

Heavy floods have hit Mon and Rakhine state leading to some deaths and displacement of a thousands of people. A police major said on 6 August, the entire Thandway Township is under water.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Monsoon kill several and displace thousands in Mon and Rakhine states",Mizzima, 7 August 2014; "Children caught in Bago floods are getting sick, villagers say" Eleven Myanmar, 7 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Screening of Bengali Citizenship bids begin

Screening of residents in Myebontownship in Arakan who have self-identified themselves as ’Bengalis’ has begun. There are over 1,000 residents in Myebon who prefer to be identified as Rohingyas. However, the government does not use the word Rohingya and instead calls them Benglais.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : : "Screening of Bengali Citizenship bids begin in Rakhine state", The Irrawaddy, 7 August 2014

Primary Documentation

< class="text11verdana">Myanmar’s Heath Department Statement denying the outbreak of Ebola, 5 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Interview with new information minister Ye Htut Mizzima, 7 August 2014


Opinion pieces

< class="text11verdana">KyawZwa Moe, "Burma Struggles to Ditch its Military Masters" ,,The Irrawaddy, 7 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Dr. Paul Fuller, "Roots of Intolerance and Prejudice in Buddhism", Democratic Voice of Burma, 2 August 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Coalition develops strains, UML seeks talks with Congress

Relations are getting strained between the two major ruling coalition partners of Nepal and the CPN-UML has decided to hold serious negotiations with the Nepali Congress, which leads the government, over the functioning of the coalition government. UML leaders said ministers from the party have been irked by non-cooperation from NC ministers and their interference in routine business at the UML-led ministries.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "As coalition develops strains, UML seeks talks with Congress", Republica, 8 August 2014; "Implement 7-point deal: UML chief tells Koirala" Ekantipur, 8 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Modi’s Nepal visit a success

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wrapped up his two-day official visit to Nepal Monday, has said that the visit has laid the foundation for a new relationship between Nepal and India. Narendra Modi believed that Nepal should have three development priorities- highways, information-ways and transmission-ways.Expressing solidarity with Nepal´s development endeavors, India has announced to provide US$ 1 billion concessional Line of Credit (LoC) to invest in priority areas such as infrastructure and hydropower development.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Modi pledges $1 billion concessional line of credit to Nepal"Republica, 3 August 2014; "Modi mantra for Nepal’s progress", Republica, 4 August 2014;"India announces sops for Nepal, PM NarendraModi vows relook at 1950 Treaty" The Economic Times, 5 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sindhupalchowk landslide

Landslide at Sindhupalchwok district on 2 August has wiped out an entire village and may create flash floods in districts Bihar. Some 80-100 houses in the affected settlements are said to be wiped out, according to Home Ministry. The Nepal government also requested India and China (whose borders touch Sindhupalchowk district) to help control the flow of water on Sunkoshi and Saptakoshi rivers.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Sindhupalchowk Landslide: Death toll reaches 10",Ekantipur, 3 August 2014; "Landslide kills 8 in Nepal, hundreds still missing", The Hindu, 2 August 2014

Primary Documentation

< class="text11verdana">Joint Press Statement on the Official Visit of the Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Shri NarendraModi, to Nepal (August 3-4, 2014), 4 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Press Release on Call on Honourable Shri NarendraModi, Prime Minsiter of India by Honourable Mr. MahendraBahadur Pandey, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, 3 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Press Release on the Arrival of Honourable Shri NarendraModi, Prime Minister of India, 3 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Press Release on Address by Honourable Shri NarendraModi, Prime Minister of India to Legislature-Parliament of Nepal, 3 August 2014



< class="text11verdana">Christian Dennys, Military Intervention, Stabilisation and Peace: The Search for Stability, Routledge, 2014

Opinion pieces

< class="text11verdana">Gardiner Harris, "Nepal Enthralled by Visit of India Premier, Who Hits ’the Right Notes’", The New York Times, 3 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">C. Raja Mohan, "Nepal Treaty", The Indian Express, 6 August 2014"


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Arrested BSF soldier to be returned to India

A Border Security Force (BSF) soldier who had been arrested in Pakistan for trespassing will be handed over to India on 8 August 2014 according to Pakistani authorities. The soldier was captured on Pakistani soil by Chenab Rangers and interrogated at an undisclosed location. Indian officials maintain that he was swept away by the current of the Chenab River.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Pakistan to hand back arrested BSF soldier tomorrow", The Express Tribune, 7 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Drone strike kills 6 in North Waziristan; Zarb-e-Azb may be widened

Six people died and two others were injured in a drone strike in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan. The government has asked people in Mirali and Shawal sub-divisions of the region to leave their homes amidst reports of the expansion of the ongoing Zarb-e-Azb operation.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Zarb-e-Azb updates: Drone strike in North Waziristan kills 6, injures 2", The Express Tribune, 15 June 2014; "Drone strike kills 6 in North Waziristan", The Express Tribune, 6 August 2014; "Widening of Zarb-i-Azb operation likely", Dawn, 8 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Imran Khan: Azadi March aimed at establishing genuine democracy

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan has stated that the Azadi March organised by his party is aimed at establishing a genuine democracy in the country and removing the ’monarchs’ currently in power. The Islamabad High Court has received a petition requesting it to stop the March scheduled for 14 August 2014.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "March aimed at ushering in genuine democracy: Imran", Dawn, 8 August 2014; "Citizen’s plea: ’Azadi march’ challenged in IHC", The Express Tribune, 8 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Two security personnel, seven militants killed in Turbat operation

At least two security personnel were killed along with seven militants in the Turbat operation on 7 August 2014 when unidentified gunmen opened fire at a security forces’ convoy. Over 20 others were injured in the firing.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Two security men, seven militants die in Turbat operation", Dawn, 7 August 2014

Primary Documentation

< class="text11verdana">Joint Press Statement - Pakistan-Sri Lanka Foreign Secretary-level talks, 6 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Pakistan Condemns US Drone Strike in North Waziristan, 7 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Opening Statement by Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security & Foreign Affairs/ Co-chair of Pakistan-Turkmenistan Joint Governmental Commission Islamabad, 7 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Pakistan Rejects Latest Afghan Allegations, 7 August 2014



< class="text11verdana">T.V. Paul, The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World, New York: Oxford University Press, 2014

C. Christine Fair, Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War, New York: Oxford University Press, 2014

Opinion pieces

< class="text11verdana">Husain Haqqani, "A bubble called Pakistan", The Indian Express, 8 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Hassan Abbas, "Pakistani Taliban on Target", Foreign Policy, 6 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">Doug Bandow, "Blasphemous Oppression in the Name of Islam: Hold Pakistan Accountable for Persecuting Religious Minorities", Huffington Post, 5 August 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">UN, foreign diplomats criticised

President MahindaRajapaksahas expressed’grave concern’ over’deliberate and arrogant violation of the fundamental principles of justice and the rule of law by some agencies within and outside the UN’ even as the External Affairs Minister G L Peiris told heads of foreign missions that they should respect local sensitivities.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Row over politician-diplomats

The head of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ), Ven. MaduluwaweSobithaThero, a possible common opposition candidate for the presidential elections, has said that the Sri Lanka Foreign Service (SLFS) was a chaotic mess and that the wrong people were being awarded posts. His comments followed the Opposition JVP listing out names of ’political appointees in the SLFS, and the Government countering it with an indication to appoint an all-party committee to review the current postings.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : :"Bringing inept persons into SLFS hurting country: Sobitha Thera", Daily Mirror Online, 8 August 2014 "Diplomatic missions have become SLFP branches, blasts JVP", The Island, 6 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian, Japanese experts for missing persons’ probe

Even as President MahindaRajapaksa has expanded the scope of the domestic probe into war-time missing persons even as indications are that the Government may add Indian and Japanese experts to the three-men overseas advisory team for the commission headed by former High Court Judge Maxwell Perera.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "War crimes probe goes ahead with international advisors’, The Island, 6 August 2014"Sixth sitting of missing persons commission in Mannar", Daily Mirror Online, 6 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India will take back its nationals among boat-people

Even as Australia hoped to despatch back the 157 Tamil asylum-seekers, mostly of Sri Lankan origin, the Indian Government has reiterated that it would "certainly welcome back" Indians, if any, among them.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "India to welcome back its nationals from Australia", Daily Mirror Online, 6 August 2014,"Top Aussie border protection official in SL", Daily Mirror Online, 6 August 2014

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "MR hits out at UN double-standards", Daily Mirror Online, 8 August 2014,"GL tells foreign diplomatic missions to respect local sensitivities", The Island, 8 August 2014

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:
Afghanistan: Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale
India: Kaustav Dhar Chakrabarti, ManmathGoel and Niharika Betkerur;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Nepal: Pratnashree Basu;
Pakistan: Taruni Kumar

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