MonitorsPublished on Sep 05, 2014
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was sworn-in on May 26, has completed 100 days in power.
India: The first 100 days of the Modi government
< class="heading1">Analysis

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was sworn-in on May 26, has completed 100 days in power.

Although 100 days is too short a period for making an honest assessment of the performance of any organisation, particularly that of a government, but administrative steps, policy initiatives or law making does offer some insight into the ways and thinking of an organisation or government. Judged on these parameters, the Modi government has begun rather well.

The new government’s economic and foreign policy moves have been in the right direction as it has maintained the continuity while eliminating, rather reducing, the negative or time consuming elements of the old policies.

The atmosphere of gloom has given way to an environment of hope by the Prime Minister’s style of leading from the front.

The Prime Minister Office has acquired the pre-eminent place once again. The Prime Minister is firmly in the driver’s seat and the decision-making process has not only become decisive but speedier too. The buck now stops at Modi’s doorsteps as he has kept no one in doubt as to who calls the shots. This has given confidence to his cabinet colleagues and his administrative machinery.

The Prime Minister has made it very clear that he will not tolerate influence peddling from any quarters, be it his own cabinet and party colleagues, corporate lobby or the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS). By doing so, he has given a message that performance alone matters to him and the days of crony capitalism are gone.

Modi, by stating in clear terms his strong aversion against corruption, has sent a clear signal that he would not tolerate corruption in public life.

With some subtle and some resolute messages, the new government has conveyed that it stands for fair play and there is not going to be any witch hunt against entrepreneurs, industrialist and captains of industry which has created an environment of trust so vital for boosting domestic and foreign investments.

The Union Budget, though largely a continuation of the UPA government policies, reflected the new government’s priorities and economic direction that it proposes to pursue. By raising the composite cap for foreign investment to 49 percent in defence and insurance sector in the budget, the new government had sent a clear message that it was serious on bringing in foreign capital for creating business and jobs.

At the same time, the government reduced the requirement of the built up area and capital conditions for FDI for development of smart cities which was a clear admission that new dispensation was looking at the issue of urbanisation seriously.

On the whole, the budget had something for everyone as it maintained the broad direction of the previous government without making any big changes.

It was reassuring to note that the Modi government decided to continue with the previous government’s programme of providing unique identification number to all the inhabitants of the country. By continuing with the scheme and deciding to give a legal backing to it, the government accepted that there was merit in it and it could serve as a useful tool to attack corruption in public life and provide government subsidies to the poor, needy and deserving individuals of society.

In his first Independence Day address from the historic Red Fort on 15 August, the Prime Minister made the announcement of the Jan Dhan Yojna (JDY) programme which aims at financial inclusion of the needy and poor by creating their bank accounts. Every account under the scheme will give a debit card with INR 5000 overdraft facility in the first phase and INR one lakh accident insurance facility.

Bank accounts will not only financially empower the poor and the marginalised sections, but will also help the government to reduce corruption by initiating schemes like cash subsidies to the deserving citizens. If completed fully, it would not only empower every family but will also free them from the clutches of merciless moneylenders. Similarly, Mr Modi also launched a programme for providing separate toilets for girls and boys and toilet in every girl school within a year. This, if implemented, will go a long way to arrest the dropout rates in schools.

On the foreign policy front, the government began on a promising note as it decided to invite heads of states or executive heads of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to the oath taking ceremony of the new government which gave an opportunity for the new Prime Minister to meet SAARC leaders personally.

In another positive signal, Modi chose Bhutan as the first destination for his visit outside India which clearly meant that the new government was going to pay special attention to improving ties with the neighbours. Following from this, the Prime Minister chose Nepal as the second destination for his bilateral visit that again underscored the significance which new government has decided to attach to the country’s neighbourhood.

In between, the Prime Minister attended the summit of BRICS countries in Brazil where it was decided to set up a BRICS Bank which was on the groupings’ agenda for last two years. It provided an excellent opportunity for Modi to meet world leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping.

On his first foreign bilateral visit outside the South Asian subcontinent, Modi was in Japan between August 30 and September 3 where he had substantive talks with his counter party Shizo Abe that resulted in elevation of bilateral ties to "Special Strategic and Global Partnership". Japan announced investments of US $ 33.58 billion in India over a period of the next five years which will meet the new government’s requirements of building up infrastructure, clean energy, skill developments and bullet trains.

By consolidating relations with Japan, Mr Modi has also sent a clear signal to China that New Delhi was looking forward to doing with business with Beijing on mutually beneficial terms. The Chinese President, who is coming to India this month, will have to compete with Japan in terms of investments.

Signing of a nuclear deal with Canberra after years of negotiations which entitles India to buy uranium, during Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot’s two days visit is yet another confirmation of the country’s rising clout and growing market.

The message is clear that New Delhi was ready to do business without getting involved or taking sides in regional conflicts or disputes.

The government in its first hundred days has shown some promise but there is an arrogance of numbers evident in the ruling party which in its newly won confidence from the popular mandate in the Lok Sabha polls has not shown maturity on the issue of granting the status of leader of the opposition to the biggest opposition party. Hiding behind technicalities and by extending a not so convincing argument that the decision was entirely that of the Speaker of the popular house, the reputation of the government took a hit.

While the government has embarked on a confident path, yet there are some disturbing signs on the horizon. Communal tensions are on the rise and social harmony is fragile. Social peace is under serious threat. There has been violence in some parts of the country which has been stoked by some BJP members and other rabid organisations which claim to speak on behalf of all Hindus.

The government and the Prime Minister, if they are indeed sincere to pursue their developmental agenda seriously, will have to maintain a vigil on such elements which threaten communal peace and keep them under a tight leash.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan: Developing the eastern frontier

Mihir Bhonsale

The development of eastern Bhutan is back on the government’s agenda, with the cabinet approving a blue-print for the development of six districts or Dzongkhags that have been identified as economically backward. The development of the eastern frontier would present opportunities for not just boosting the economy of the Himalayan kingdom but also integrate itself into the sub-region of South Asia.

The plan covers Lhuentse, Mongar, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Pemagatshel and Samdrup Jongkhar districts which have the combined total population of about 2 lakh which represents 27 percent of the total population of Bhutan. The plan identifies 3 growth centers - Kanglung, Gyanphozhing and Nanglam.

This region is important for Bhutan because as many as 16 hydropower projects have been identified in the region and for the rich mineral deposits found in eastern Bhutan. The government is also conscious about the huge tourism potential that the eastern region presents for governmental revenue.

Developing the east

This region has drawn special focus from the Tshering Tobgay government. Tobgay’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the electoral campaign had focused on the development of the eastern districts of Bhutan. After assuming power last year, Tobgay set up a committee to come up with a plan to fulfill his electoral promises.

The plan submitted by the committee, called Eastern Development Initiative, focuses on infrastructural upgrade and promoting economic activities in the region. The plan outlines both social development as well as economic development of Eastern Bhutan. It also talks about policy interventions and institutional reforms.

The plan suggests that the government expedite hydropower projects planned in the region as well as use construction materials made in the region for constructing the plants. The plan also recognises the potential of this region for agro and green industries by identifying certain crops for cultivation and up scaling processing.

Major textile group clusters would be set up in the eastern districts, from where all processes including manufacturing, branding and sale will be carried out. Besides, the EDI plan also talks about upgrading the East- West Highway and extend the coverage of roads in the region. On the social front the plan mentions opening of vocational training institutes and improving health centers in the region.

Integration into the sub-region

Connectivity between land-locked Bhutan and India and Bangladesh are expected to improve once eastern Bhutan develops. With focus on trade with India and Bangladesh, Samdrup Jongkhar located on the southeastern foothills a passage for the six eastern districts of Bhutan would assume importance.

Once the Samdrup Jongkhar-Guwahati-Shillong-Silhet-Dhaka- Kolkata link identified under Asian multi-modal transit routes becomes operational, eastern Bhutan would have better prospects to be integrated into the region.

Upgrading southern East-West highway and double laning northern East-West Highway listed in the plan would facilitate movement of people and goods. Developing the Yongphula airport by 2015 and establishing air links with Guwahati and Bagdogra would encourage tourism in the region.

The eastern parts also have hydropower potential with projects at Jomori, Neyera Amari, Khomachhu and Gamri-I and II. The projects have a total capacity of 1,000 MW over and above the deal made with India to generate a total capacity of 10,000 MW by 2020.

Financing the EDI

Financing the EDI is one of the tasks which the government has to consider over and above its commitments for the 11th Five Year Plan. The government has to try sourcing funds from India and international loans. An estimate for the building of hydropower projects in the eastern region is within the range of US$150 million to US$700 million. India has already promised a development assistance of INR 4,500 billion for Bhutan’s Five Year Plan. There is a possibility of New Delhi increasing this amount in the light of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving assurances to Bhutan of assisting in its development during his recent visit to Thimpu.

In a country which is mainly dependent on foreign aid, financing a plan for the development of its eastern region would not be easy. Besides the Tobgay government has to withstand pressures from power circles in Thimphu, especially from the western part of the country which have been dominant in the power discourse of the country for years.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Audit process comes to an end

The Independent Election Commission announced on 4 September that the election vote audit and recount process had been completed. Dr Ashraf Ghani called upon his rival candidate Dr Abdullah Abdullah to endorse the audit results as per the terms of the agreement signed by the two. The two candidates had also sent a letter to the NATO summit in Wales renewing their pledge to form a government of national unity. Dr Abdullah’s team, however, claimed that it would only accept the results of a genuine process. Differences continue to exist between the two regarding the nature of power sharing as well.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Candidates Still at Odds as Audit Ends", Tolo News, 5 September 2014; "Ghani Camp Calls on Abdullah to Endorse Audit Results", Tolo News, 5 September 2014; "Afghanistan election audit and recount process completed", Khaama Press, 5 September 2014; "Afghan election rivals renews pledge to sign Afghan-US security deal", Khaama Press, 5 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NATO reaffirms support for ANSF

At the Wales summit of NATO, the international coalition reaffirmed its commitment to support the ANSF beyond 2014 and to play an advisory and training role in Afghanistan. NATO will continue to provide US$ 4.1 billion till the end of 2017. The meeting was attended by the Afghan Defence Minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "NATO Leaders Reaffirm Continued Support to ANSF", Tolo News, 5 September 2014; "NATO leaders reaffirms continued support to Afghanistan", Khaama Press, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Hekmatyar seeks active role in Afghanistan

The sons of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Hezb-i-Islami (HIA), met with Dr Ashraf Ghani assuring him of the group’s support but also enquiring about the possibility of HIA playing a bigger role in the politics of the country in the future. Reportedly, HIA has already held several rounds of meeting with Dr Ghani over the past few months.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Hezb-e-Islami seeks to secure active role in Afghanistan", Khaama Press, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Punjabi Taliban vows insurgency, AQ renews loyalty

The Punjabi Taliban, a faction of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan announced that it would now abandon its insurgent activities inside the country and instead focus on helping the Taliban in Afghanistan. These reports come amidst a video released by al Qaeda in which its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri renewed the group’s loyalty to Mullah Omar while announcing the opening of a new al Qaeda branch in India.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Punjabi Taliban shift focus to Afghanistan", Dawn, 4 September 2014; "Al-Qaeda announces India wing, renews loyalty to Taliban chief", The Hindu, 4 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Majority is satisfied with Awami League government

More than 50 percent of people are satisfied with the performance of the ruling Awami League government revealed results of a major survey undertaken by a leading English daily. The survey also disclosed that people want this government to complete its 5 years term. In an earlier opinion poll conducted immediately after the January 5 election, more than three-fourths of the respondents wanted fresh elections as early as possible, or within a year.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Most people satisfied with government Dhaka Tribune, 1 September 2014; "Public demands peaceful dialogue", Dhaka Tribune, 1 September 2014.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Arms cache found

The Rapid Action Battalion this week recovered a huge cache of firearms and ammunition from the Satchhari National Park in Habiganj in Sylhet region, around 180 kilometres from capital Dhaka. List of recovered weapon include-nine Assault Machine Guns (AMG), one Sub Machine Gun (SMG), one Beta Gun, one Auto Riffle, six Self-Loading Rifles (SLR), two Light Machine Guns (LMG), one sniper telescope and other 2,400 bullets and ammunitions. Interestingly, the area is very close to Indian border so it is not very difficult to out over look the linkage of Indian insyrgent groups behind these arms.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Rab’s Third Recovery in Satchhari Forest: Arms cache found" The Daily Star, 3 September 2014; "2500 arms, ammos recovered in Habiganj", Bangladesh, 2 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PM for strong coordination among Asia-Pac intelligence agencies

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina this week stressed on the need for better coordination among the intelligence units of Asia and the Pacific region to tackle the security challenges. "The security challenges that confront the mankind today cannot be faced by any single country. The world will has to work in a unison to face the threat," she said. PM made this comment during inauguration of the 7th Asia-Pacific Intelligence Chiefs Conference (APICC) at Dhaka.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "PM for strong coordination among Asia-Pac intelligence agencies", Dhaka Tribune, 3 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parliament condemns Israel

Parliament this week adopted a resolution condemning Israeli military attacks on Palestinians and demanding that Benjamin Netanyahu be tried in the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity. Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina said that the Israeli aggression in Gaza is similar to the one endured by Bangladesh in 1971.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "JS condemns Israel, PM offers to treat wounded Gazans", Dhaka Tribune, 3 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US offers naval ship to Bangladesh

US embassy in Dhaka this week informed that they offered the United States Coast Guard Ship (USCGS) Rush to Bangladesh. The ship which is powered by a combined diesel or gas engine system is expected to be officially transferred to the Bangladesh Navy this spring, following a joint visual inspection in Hawaii.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "US offers naval ship to Bangladesh",, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India-Bangladesh Home Secretary-level talks

Home secretaries of India and Bangladesh met this week to discuss wide range of issues relating to security cooperation. Issues that found prominence include halting border killings, deportation of sentenced prisoners, drug and arms trafficking. Major outcomes of the meeting included an agreement to hand over Anup Chetia, general secretary of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), and Nur Hossain, prime accused in the infamous Narayanganj seven-murder case, to the respective authorities soon through the legal process. The two sides have also reached an agreement on repatriation of prisoners.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Dhaka sends Delhi list of criminals", The Daily Star, 3 September 2014; "Chetia-Nur exchange agreed in principle", The Independent, 4 September 2014; "Bangladesh and India agree on prisoner repatriation", Dhaka Tribune, 3 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian envoy hands over grant to Bhutan

The Indian Ambasssador to Bhutan, Gautam Bambawale presented a grant of Nu 1.29 billion to Bhutan’s finance minister Namji Dorji. The grant is on behalf of the Indian government and shows the importance of Bhutan for India.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Indian Ambassador Presents a Cheque of Nu 1.29 billion" Bhutan Broadcasting Service, 2 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian Co to supply power transformers to Bhutan

An Indian company Alstom T&D India bagged a contract worth Rs 55 crores for supplying power transformers to a hydel-power plant in Bhutan. The contract was awarded by Mandechhu Hydroelctric Project Authority for a 720 MW project.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Alstom T&D India to supply power transformers in Bhutan", The Economic Times, 2 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Four Indians sentenced for smuggling gold

The Paro district court has sentenced 4 Indians for smuggling 640.7 g of gold worth Nu 1.8 million. The four Indian nationals have been sentenced for 6 months in prison. This takes the total number of Indian nationals sentenced for gold smuggling to 13.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Four more Indians sentenced in gold smuggling case", Kuensel Online, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indo-Bhutan Entrepreneurs Alliance plans exchange

The newly started Indo-Bhutan Entrepreneurs Alliance, an informal association of young entrepreneurs has taken the initiative of inviting young entrepreneurs from Bhutan to interact with their counterparts in India to explore markets and learn more about doing business.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "A meeting of business minds across borders", Kuensel Online, 4 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Narendra Modi concludes Japan visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi concluded his five-day visit to Japan, which included a summit meeting with his counterpart Shinzo Abe, address at the Tokyo Stock Exchange, reception with the Indian expat community, and a meeting with Emperor Akihito. Five pacts were signed over the course of the visit, ranging from defence, environment and clean energy, transport, and healthcare. Japan committed $33.58 billion of public and private investment over the next five years. Modi, in turn, assured reduced red-tape and ease regulations for Japanese investors. The two sides also launched the Japan India Investment Promotion Partnership to double the number of Japanese companies operating in India in the next half decade. The much hyped nuclear deal, however, did not bear fruition and both sides reiterated their principled stand of continued negotiations.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Japan to invest Rs. 2.1 lakh crore in Indian projects over 5 years", The Hindu, 2 September 2014; "Narendra Modi describes bond with Japan as ’stronger than Fevicol’", Daily News and Analysis, 2 September 2014; PM keeps music playing: No red tape, only red carpet for Japan, The Indian Express, 3 September 2014; "Japanese companies will get same speedy clearance like in Gujarat: PM Modi", The Economic Times, 1 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Al Qaeda announces new wing targeting India

Al Qaeda has announced the formation of a new wing, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), to ’break all borders created by Britain in India’ and extend the organisation in Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh. The terror group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahari christened the new faction as Jamaat Qaidat al-jihad fi’shibhi al-qarrat al-Hindiya, loosely translated as the Organisation of The Base of Jihad in the Indian Sub-Continent, in an online video released on 4 September. Zawahiri also revealed that coordinating among extant militant groups took two years. AQIS will be lead by Pakistani national Asim Umar. Despite scepticism towards al-Qaeda’s relevance in light of the Islamic State’s gains in the Middle East, the government seems to have taken the threat seriously. Home Minister Rajnath Singh convened a meeting with top security officials soon after the video appeared.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Al-Qaeda declares new front to wage war on India, calls for jihad in the subcontinent The Indian Express, 4 September 2014; "Al Qaeda announces India wing, renews loyalty to Taliban chief", The Economic Times, 4 September 2014; "Alert sounded, Rajnath meets with NSA, IB chief", The Hindu, 5 September 2014; "LeT link troubling, say experts", The Hindu, 5 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India, Australia seal uranium export deal

Indian PM Narendra Modi and Australian PM Tony Abbott finalised a nuclear cooperation agreement on the latter’s India visit. The deal will allow export of uranium to New Delhi for use in power generation.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India, Australia seal uranium export deal India Today, 5 September 2014; "Australia to sign uranium trade deal with India", The Hindu, 5 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SBI signs $152 million export pact with Japanese Bank

SBI Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya and JBIC Governor Hiroshi Watanabe in Tokyo signed a loan agreement to set up an export credit line in two currencies worth $152 million. SIDBI signed a $290 million loan agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to lend to small enterprises for an energy saving project in India.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "SBI, Sidbi sign pacts with Japanese finance institutions to fund projects", Livemint, 1 September 2014; "SBI signs $152 mnexport pact with Japanese bank", Business Standard, 5September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Renewed skirmishes in Pulwama district of Kashmir

Security forces engaged insurgents in Kashmir’s Pulwama district in disparate incidents for the third week in a row. Troops cordoned off a house in rural Pulwama and killed three suspected militants in the ensuing battle. The deceased militants are believed to have been part of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad. Repeated skirmishes concentrated in the same region suggest local dynamics; police sources have attributed the spike in violence to a newly appointed area commander of the Lashkar-e-Tayeeba. At the same time, New Delhi remains wary of Pakistan giving greater leeway to its favoured groups in wake of impending US drawdown in Afghanistan.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Militant killed in Kashmir gunfight, 2 holed up", India Today, 2 September 2014;"Three militants killed in Kashmir encounter", The Times of India, 2 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Size alone does not determine destiny’

Representing Maldives at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said that ’size alone does not determine our destiny’ and developed nations should allow small island-States to lead the world in combating climate-change.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Former President Gayoom calls for leadership of small island states in climate change", Minivan News, 3 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SEZ Bill becomes law

With President Abdulla Yameen giving his assent to the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Bill, passed by Parliament earlier, it has become law. The Government has claimed that it will help facilitate foreign investments in non-traditional sectors of the nation’s economy, which now is centred mostly on resort tourism.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "President ratifies SEZ Bill", Haveeru Online, 1 September 2014; "Tourism Minister: SEZ Act gives government legal power to attract foreign investment", SunOnline, 4 September 2014; "MMA Governor: SEZ can be a success if public interest is prioritised", SunOnline, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India takes up teachers’ woes

At a meeting with Maldivian Education Minister Aishath Shiham, Indian High Commissioner Rajeev Shahare took up the problems being faced by 2000-odd Indian teachers working in the country. He also expressed India’s interest in conducting annual educational fairs in Maldives.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "India ready to work with Ministry in Education Fair", Haveeru Online, 2 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Germany, Myanmar discuss possible cooperation

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and visiting Myanmar’s President, Then Sein met on 3 September and agreed on things Myanmar needs to do, but disagreed on the order in which it needs to do them. Merkel put peaceful development as a necessity for economic development, while President Thein Sein said, the country’s economic success would make democratization easier.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Germany’s Merkel, Burma’s Thein Sein look at development differently", The Irrawaddy, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Myanmar to take back Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh

Myanmar has agreed to take back more than 2,000 Rohingya refugees from camps in Bangladesh following a bilateral agreement between delegations led by Burmese Deputy Foreign minister, Thant Kyaw and Bangladesh Foreign Minister M Shaidul Haque held on 31 August.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Burma agrees to repatriate over 2,000 Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh" Democratic Voice of Burma, 1 September 2014, "Myanmar to take back Rohingya Nationals", The Hindu, 31 August 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Myanmar set to extend e-visa service to all EU countries

The recently introduced e-visas for tourists will be extended to all 28 European Union (EU) nations as Myanmar has increasingly become a popular destination for tourists from EU and its potential as a source market for tourists is huge.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Myanmar set to extend E-Visa Service to all EU Countries, says Minister", Eleven Myanmar, 1 September 2014;

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Census falls short of expectations

The ministry for immigration and population’s initial data shows that the total population of Myanmar is 51.4 million, 6 million short of the 2010 election commission’s estimate. The UNFPA put the miscalculation down to an exaggerated birth-rate.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Population shortfall forces rethink" Democratic Voice of Burma, 3 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Container trucks stranded in Khasa

More than 1,000 Nepal-bound container trucks packed with goods for the Dashain festival are parked bumper to bumper on a stretch of highway in Khasa, China as the road to Kathmandu remains cut off.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : 1,000 Nepal-bound container trucks stranded in Khasa eKantipur, 5 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepal and India finalise PTA

Nepal and India on Thursday signed a 25-year agreement on power trading, cross-border transmission line and grid connectivity. The eight-point agreementhas paved the way for both the countries to sell and purchase electricity through synchronized connection.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: Nepal, India ink PTA Republica, 5 September 2014; Nepal-India PTA talks begin today, eKantipur, 3 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Leaders agree to national political conference

Leaders from three major political parties and agitating CPN-Maoist have finally agreed to hold the much-talked-about national political conference. The leaders from the Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML, UCPN (Maoist) and the Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist have decided to announce the date of the conference by Friday.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : Big 3, CPN-Maoist agree to nat’l political conference, Republica, 4 September 2014; Parties agree to hold nat’l political assembly, eKantipur, 4 September 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’ISIS not present in Pakistan; no Modi-Sharif meeting’

During a weekly press briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, rejected media reports about the presence of the terror organisation Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) on Pakistani territory. She added that no meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif had been fixed on the sidelines of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "ISIS not operating on Pakistani soil: FO", The Nation, 5 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese President postpones Pakistan visit

Private TV channels in Pakistan reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan from was deferred because of the protests in Islamabad. The Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said on Twitter that the visit had been cancelled while a few hours before the postponement announcement, a Foreign Office spokesperson said that the visit was still "intact".

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Chinese President Xi defers Pakistan visit", The Nation, 5 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TTP expels Mohmand agency unit chief

TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid announced that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership has removed Commander Abdulwaki, alias, Omar Khalid Khorasani, as the chief of the Mohmand agency unit and cancelled his basic membership. He has been removed because of his interference in affairs of the Afghan Taliban and his contacts with the groups Ahrar-ul-Hind and Junud-e-Khorasan.

"Deepening split: TTP expels splinter group chief" The Express Tribune, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Global Competitiveness Report: Pakistan third least safe country

According to the World Economic Forum, the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-15 has placed Pakistan at 142 among 144 surveyed nations, making it the third least safe place on the planet due to a fragile security situation. Only Yemen and Libya are less safe than Pakistan.

"Global Competitiveness Report terms Pakistan third least safe country", The Express Tribune, 3 September 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TNA wants Govt response

On return from India after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader Maavai Senathirajah has said that the party was willing to join the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the ethnic issue if the Government responded to its 2011 proposals.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "TNA For Conditional Talks", The Sunday Leader, 31 August 2014; "NPC funds lie idle", Daily Mirror Online, 2 September 2014; "72-year-old man in a fiery protest", Daily Mirror Online, 2 September 2014; "Northern army camps cannot be dismantled at Vigneswaran’s insistence- Keheliya", The Island, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak immigrants to be deported

After staying their forced exit earlier, a Sri Lankan court has granted clearance for the Government to send back Pakistani asylum-seekers, upholding the argument that they threatened security and public health.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "SL to deport Pakistan asylum seekers" Daily Mirror Online, 2 September 2014; "SL takes Al-Qaeda threat seriously", Daily Mirror Online, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">23 fishermen return

Indian Coast Guard handed over 23 Sri Lankan fishermen who had illegally crossed into Indian waters and their four boats to Sri Lankan counterparts at the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) between the two nations.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Indian coast guard hands over 23 Lankan fishermen", Daily Mirror Online, 3 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China not acquiring power plant

The Chinese public sector builder of Sri Lanka’s first coal-fired power-plant at Norochcholai has clarified that they do not have no intention of taking over the plant, following reports of frequent breakdowns and shut-downs.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "China says no intention to acquire Norochcholai power plant complex The Island, 4 September 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Closer ties with Seychelles

Taking forward the emerging closer ties between the two nations, Sri Lanka and Seychelles have identified areas of increasing bilateral trade and investments.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Sri Lanka - Seychelles bilateral trade and investment provoke closer ties", The Island, 30 August 2014


Primary Documentation


Wales Summit Declaration on Afghanistan : Issued by Heads of State and Government of Allies and their International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troop contributing partners, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 4 September 2014

Wales Summit - NATO’s Changing Role in Afghanistan, The White House, 4 September 2014

Statement of Islamic Emirate on the recent NATO summit in Britain, Voice of Jihad, 3 September 2014


The Ambassador of Pakistan bids farewell call on PM, Cabinet Secretariat- Royal Government of Bhutan, 3 September 2014


Tony Abbott , India and Australia: Ties that bind, The Hindu, 5 September 2014

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, "Losing the Vajpayee way", The Indian Express, 5 September 2014

Joint Statement on the State Visit of Prime Minister of Australia to India", Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 5 September 2014

Remarks by Prime Minister at the Joint Press Briefing with Australian Prime Minister, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 5 September 2014

Summary of Agreement’s signed during Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s visit, Ministry of External Affairs, Government Of India, 5 September 2014

Tokyo Declaration for India - Japan Special Strategic and Global Partnership, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, 1 September 2014


Report on President’s U Thein Sein’s felicitation by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, The Republic of Union of Myanmar- President’s office, 4 September 2014

Report on Vice-President, Dr. Sai Mauk Kham’s visit to Rakhine State, President’s Office, The Republic of Union of Myanmar- President’s Office, 4 September 2014


Press Release on Presentation of Credentials, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal, 4 September 2014

Press Release on the Report of the Advisory Committee Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal, 3 September 2014


Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 4th September 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 4 September 2014

Clarification of Media Reports, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 2 September 2014

12th Meeting of Pakistan-Malaysia Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation, Press Information Department, Government of Pakistan, 2 September 2014

Reaction to India’s Constant Violation of the Working Boundary, Press Information Department, Government of Pakistan, 31 August 2014

PM’s Resignation, Leave out of Question, Press Information Department, Government of Pakistan, 30 August 2014

Pakistan Sri Lanka Agree to Enhance Defence Cooperation, Press Information Department, Government of Pakistan, 29 August 2014




Bette Dam, A Man and a Motor Cycle: How Hamid Karzai came to power, Amsterdam: Ipso Facto, 2014

Harsh V. Pant, India’s Afghan Muddle: A Lost Opportunity, New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2014

Opinion Pieces

Nematullah Bizhan, "The Limits of U.S. Aid in Afghanistan", Foreign Policy, 4 September 2014

Lynne O’Donnell, "Does Afghanistan’s New Mining Law Benefit Its Mafias?", Foreign Policy, 3 September 2014

Lotfullah Najafizada, Lotfullah Najafizada, BBC News, 2 September 2014

Helena Malikyar "The ’Afghan Spring’ turns into an ’Autumn of Discontent’", Al Jazeera, 1 September 2014


Opinion Pieces

Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan, "The downside of AL’s BNP strategy", The Daily Star, 4 September 2014

Barrister Harun ur Rashid, "Dhaka-Tokyo relations to a greater height", The Daily Star, 4 September 2014

Ifti Rashid, "Understanding public pulse", Dhaka Tribune, 3 September 2014


Matsushiro Horiguchi, "Bangladesh and Japan need comprehensive partnership", The Daily Star, 3 September 2014


Opinion Pieces

"A Second Bash at Building Bhutanese", Kuensel Online, 4 September 2014


Jonah Blank, "Let’s Talk About Kashmir", Foreign Policy, 5 September 2014

C Raja Mohan, "The story beyond uranium", The Indian Express, 5 September 2014

Seema Mustafa, "The BJP in Kashmir", The Express Tribune, 2 September 2014

Allison Berland and Michael Kugelman, "Is There Any Hope for India-Pakistan Relations?", Foreign Policy, 2 September 2014

D. Shyam Babu and Chandra Bhan Prasad "For a new paradigm of social justice", The Hindu, 1 September 2014

Syed Ata Hasnain, , "Looking beyond a tattered truce", The Hindu, 1 September 2014

Ashish Khetan, "Old and new fault lines in Uttar Pradesh", The Hindu, 30 August 2014

Hilal Ahmed, "Understanding postcolonial Muslim politics" The Hindu. 30 August 2014


Opinion Pieces

Yeni, US Takes Steps to Restart Business Relations with Burma" The Irrawaddy, 3 September 2014

Craig Hoyle, "Foreign journalists key players in Myanmar’s new press freedom", Pacific.Scoop, 1 September 2014



Thomas Bell, Kathmandu, Random House India, 2014

Keith Krause, Small Arms Survey 2014, Cambridge University Press, 2014

Opinion Pieces

Mahabir Paudyal, "Back to square one", Republica, 4 September 2014

Nirendra Basnet, "Ball in our court", Republica, 4 September 2014

Sujata Awale, "Is power really a priority?", The Himalayan Times, 5 September 2014



Anthony H. Cordesman, "The U.S. Strategic Vacuum in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia", Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2 September 2014

Opinion Pieces

"Army in the middle", The Economist, 6 September 2014

Farooq Tirmizi, "Why Nawaz has already won", The Express Tribune, 5 September 2014

Sakib Sherani, "Unintended consequences", Dawn, 5 September 2014

Asha’ar Rehman, "Within shouting distance", Dawn, 5 September 2014

"Generosity of spirit required" Dawn, 5 September 2014

"Military’s figures", Dawn, 5 September 2014

Umar Cheema, "A severe blow to Pakistan’s economy", The News International, 5 September 2014

"How Pakistan’s Army Weakens Pakistan", Bloomberg View, 3 September 2014

C. Christine Fair, "Still Standing in Pakistan" Foreign Affairs, 3 September 2014

Ishaan Tharoor, "Did a ’soft coup’ just happen in Pakistan?", The Washington Post, 29 August 2014

"Pakistan, Its Own Worst Enemy", The New York Times, 29 August 2014

Sri Lanka

Opinion pieces

Kelum Bandara, "Indo-Lanka fishermen’s crisis still unsolved", Daily Mirror Online, 4 September

K Godage, "Is a new Constitution the need of the hour?" Daily Mirror Online, 4 September 2014

Sarath N Sillva, Sarath N Sillva, The Island, 30 August 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, Mutual accommodation is the catch and the phrase still", The Sunday Leader, 1 September 2014

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

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