MonitorsPublished on Apr 20, 2012
Former President Mohammed Nasheed was on a six-day-long visit to India, pressing his case for early elections and reiterating his position on the need for reforming the nation's 'independent institutions'.
Maldives: Institution-building, the why and how of it
< class="heading1">Analysis

Former President Mohammed Nasheed was on a six-day-long visit to India, pressing his case for early elections and reiterating his position on the need for reforming the nation’s ’independent institutions’. During his three years in office, cut short from the mandated five following his sudden resignation on February 7, and later, too, he has laid a great stress on the need for reforming the Judiciary, Election Commission, Human Rights Commission and also the legislative aspect of the People’s Majlis or Parliament. His detractors, now in power, are using the same arguments of his to try and deny him the early presidential polls that Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have been demanding since his resignation. President Waheed Hassan and his multi-party coalition Government say that they needed to ’empower’, not ’reform’ independent institutions, and enact laws to check against ’Executive interference’ as happened under the Nasheed regime.

The MDP has never hidden its reservations about working with Judges and members of independent commissions, once appointed by then entrenched President Maumoon Gayoom. It wanted them removed, and critics say that the party and the Nasheed Government ’invented’ reasons to paint the entire lot of Government employees black. Critics also say that the MDP perception was based on the anti-Gayoom mood of the nation’s people and voters when Nasheed won the presidential polls, again as a part of an informal coalition ahead of the second, run-off round in October 2008. The party refused to acknowledge that three years down the line and less than two years to presidential polls, Nasheed, not Gayoom, would be the electoral issue ¨C and sought to keep the electoral focus still on the latter.

There is some truth in the political argument of both sides. There is however a need to revisit the MDP-offered specifics dispassionately, for the nation to arrive at a consensus on capacity-building at all levels of governance. It can start at the top-most, where in the absence of established norms and democratic precedents, whims of every kind, have passed for Executive discretion. Given that the President has always been chosen in a direct election, whether multi-party or not, there was greater respect for the institution. This translated into excessive loyalty for the person of the President, and a blind adherence to the policies initiated in his name. This did not find much change under the MDP, too. Familiarity with the forgettable past led to status quoism, though of a different kind, and breaching the comfort zone became difficult after a point.

Appealing to the youth

In their time, both President Gayoom and President Nasheed were in their early 40s when they assumed office. They appealed to the youth of the day, addressed their immediate concerns and quenched their aspirations, however limited their efforts were by Maldivian circumstances and economy. They sounded genuine and were readily accepted as the man for the time. In his early days as President, Gayoom focussed on education and employment, the former by opening schools in atolls and islands across the country and the latter by promoting resort tourism, an imaginative economic initiative, taking Maldives beyond the limitations imposed by fishing on both counts. All of these efforts stood in the name of Gayoom’s predecessor, the late Prime Minister Ibrahim Nazir, who did not stay on in power for long. Yet, to President Gayoom should go the twin-credits of not discontinuing the good work done by his predecessor ¨C a common trait otherwise across South Asia ¨C and also building on the same.

Ironically, educational opportunities, though only up to the Cambridge A-Level also meant that Maldivian youth would not be satisfied with the status or lack of it attaching to resort jobs. The salaries were also low compared to what was on offer in the Government. Lest they should go astray in a nation that was already concerned about increasing incidence of drug-addition in the lower age-groups, and lest he too should lose the emerging rank of youthful voters ahead of the first multi-party presidential polls of 2008, the Gayoom leadership appointed more Government employees than may have been justified ¨C adding up to 10 per cent of the nation’s 350,000 population. The trend has continued in a way, though the Nasheed presidency scraped 20 per cent of all Government jobs through a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), as a part of the IMF-guided economic reforms, but created more for political appointees, though through elections after intervening ad hocism. The Gayoom leadership could not grow with its beneficiaries in terms of thinking for the new generation of youth, born to governmental largesse or social benefit that was new and welcome to an earlier one. The inevitable stagnation attaching to entrenched leaderships, whose communication with the governed often gets stifled owing to a personality-driven administration and the inevitable sycophancy in the existing climate proved to be the electoral bane of President Gayoom. The cry for human rights and multi-party democracy were all products of a new generation approach to issues in a new era where global communication and exposure had become relatively easy and equally resolvant.

The successor-Government has since alleged that the Nasheed administration created a multiplicity of Government corporations and a plethora of elected provincial councillors, under a privatisation and decentralisation scheme. The former owed to IMF reforms, and the latter was flagged as an achievement of democracy and constitutional reforms. The elected councillors took the place of island-councillors, nominated in President Gayoom’s time. Government officials now claim that the new scheme provided for salaries for elected members and board members of public corporation, denting the exchequer much more than what the job and salary-cuts saved. In President Gayoom’s time, as some recall, even parliamentarians held only a part-time job, their sources of income coming either from the Government jobs they held, or the businesses they were associated with.

The 20 per cent cut in salaries and jobs introduced by the Nasheed presidency also meant that the Government was at logger-heads with the constitutionally-mandated Civil Services Commission (CSC). Creation of nominated provincial and island councillors ahead of election to these bodies in March 2011, replacing those nominated by President Gayoom under an atolls-based scheme instead, critics argued, was aimed at circumventing the existing processes, including the role of the CSC in Government recruitments, appointments and transfers. Under the nominated scheme, followed by elections later, the Nasheed leadership, it was argued, had brought in MDP cadres in the place of Gayoom loyalists at all levels.

In a way, it was a clash of interest between the entrenched Gayoom-appointees and the new-found power at the hands of youthful MDP cadres that was said to be at the bottom of the crises that successively rocked the Nasheed Government. When a promotion-level appointment of Deputy Ministers in individual departments under the earlier dispensation was ’compromised’ through political nominations under the Nasheed leadership, non-partisan observers in Maldives claimed that the Government and its Ministers, inexperienced and unexposed as many of them were, might not have been able to extract the right inputs and advice from the permanent civil service as would have been the case otherwise.

Otherwise, too, the Nasheed leadership, in a hurry to fast-track reforms much of which was required, rather than learning to work with and within the system, and on it, chose to work against the system. Near-wholesale change of officials at all levels as was being hinted was not on, but that was what the proposed course ended up being seen as. Worse still, unbiased observers in Maldives saw the replacement of Gayoom loyalists, whose other qualification at the lower-levels of islands-administration in particular could not be questioned, being replaced by MDP foot-soldiers. The legitimisation of the process through the decentralisation scheme in particular did not go down well. With the result, even the well-meaning measures of the Nasheed Government on governance reforms, by addressing specific cases involving top people in various institutions, came to be viewed with a jaundiced eye.

Capacity-building in judiciary

The story was no different in the case of the Judiciary. In a country where quality education means and stops with the A-Level, equivalent to Plus-Two in India, there could not have been many with legal qualification and background to prefer the Bench to the bar. At one stage during the Executive-Judiciary deadlock in 2010, it was pointed out that of the 170-plus judges across the country, only 30 or so had undergone legal education in the modern sense. The rest, the Government of the day merrily argued, had not passed even the eighth grade in some cases. The Gayoom camp, which had to accept responsibility, would point out that many of them were well-versed in the Shariat. Thereby hangs a tale, still.

In a way, the provocation for the police protests ¨C no one contests that, though there are different opinions about calling it a coup or mutiny ¨C flowed from the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge, Mohamed Abdulla. The armed forces, namely the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) arrested him on January 16, after the police chief wrote to the latter that the Judge was a threat to national security. Critics argue that there was a flaw in institutional responsibilities on this count, despite the Gayoom Government too having initiated action against the said Judge. At present Presidential Advisor, Dr Hassan Saeed as Attorney-General under the Gayoom dispensation had initiated action, but nothing moved beyond a point, for a variety of reasons, not all of them political.

The question remains if the MNDF should have been called into service to handle the case. That was also the contention of both the protesting police men and soldiers, whose numbers however were fewer than that of the former. The former feared lack of trust in the police and the latter said the MNDF was being misused for duties it was not mandated or equipped to handle. This was the case when President Nasheed used the MNDF to arrest two leading Opposition leaders on corruption charges, and more importantly to shut down the Supreme Court for a day, in mid-2010. In the Abdulla case, however, the Nasheed camp is right in arguing that even the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) had upheld his Government’s contention for the Judge not to discharge judicial duties. Incidentally, both the High Court and Supreme Court had stayed the proceedings against the said Judge, as empowered under the law.

There is a clash of concepts between the status quo system and the modern thoughts of the Nasheed leadership, on all fronts. In the Judiciary, the reformists argued that the status quo legal and judicial systems, which at times sounded arbitrary in the absence of codified laws that applied to all and derived from one another, was refusing to give place to common law practices, as understood elsewhere. The confusion also derived from the cross-cultural integration that the Islamic nation had achieved to a substantial level in other walks, but not fully in some other. In a nation dependent on resort tourism and imported goods and services for sustaining its economy and society, the dichotomy of free repatriation of the dollar earned by the former and the absence of internationally-accepted banking laws made things difficult for global players. It may have also owed to the absence of laws governing repatriation and a role for the Maldivian authorities to intervene in the processes over the past three decades and more.

The stagnation was striking, independent of the absence of attractive scope of mega-investments outside of tourism industry. Given the inherent limitations imposed by Maldives’ geographical location, human resource, and a local market for goods and services that would interest big-time investors from South Asia and elsewhere, credit facility for local investors is a pragmatic route in the local context. The beneficiary has been the local creditor and the loser, international banks, including India’s SBI. In the absence of enforceable legislation, they were often left to be cautious than overwhelming with extending credit facilities, after an initial spurt. During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s bilateral visit to Male in November 2011, when he participated in the SAARC Summit at southern Addu, the two sides signed an agreement for India to help Maldives in improving its banking laws and practices. There is a need for simultaneous reforms of laws relating to transfer of property and crimes of credit default, if international banks are to evince an interest in supporting Maldivian economy.

Reforms on the legal front in Maldives often boils down to marrying common law practices with the Shariat. No other country has achieved satisfactory results on this score, particularly in the immediate South Asian neighbourhood than India. The evolved Indian scheme ensures protection under theShariat as far as the Muslim personal law goes. It covers marriage and divorce, inheritance and the like. More importantly, the Indian scheme have imbibed the Shariat practices in its laws and judicial pronouncements, so much so lawyers and judges in India, educated and trained under the common law scheme, practice the same without they having to study these laws in madrasas or confining their knowledge and expertise only to the Shariat.

Even while criticising the nation’s judiciary while in power, the MDP and President Nasheed did acknowledge the amended provisions of the Judges Act to equip and educate the judiciary in the country on the reforms that need to be undertaken, over a seven-year period. The unstated understanding is that the judges who had not equipped them under the new scheme would have to go at the end of seven years. Two years have already passed by, but the Nasheed Government was not known to have taken any serious step to reform the judiciary ¨C though updating/modernising the judiciary would have been a better and more acceptable term. Capacity-building is the name of the game in modern parlance. The Nasheed Government could not be blamed for not trying in approaching the UN agencies and India, among others, for helping with capacity-building in Judiciary and other areas of administration, but the follow-up was lacking, however.

The other problem pertaining to the judiciary, as pointed out the MDP since Nasheed assumed the presidency in 2008, relates to the life-long tenure for judges. For a nation that had borrowed the US model of Executive Presidency without the attendant checks-and-balances, the Maldivian scheme suffers from internal contradiction that are natural to adapting alien models without thought. The checks-and balances scheme took roots in the US for historic reasons. The US also takes pride in protecting the individual accountability and collective responsibility of institutions. Neither this, nor the ’French model’ of shared powers between the directly-elected President and a Prime Minister as under the Westminster scheme, for instance, could have been transplanted into another system, without nation-wide acknowledgement and discourse, and a commitment flowing from it.

In the Maldivian context, the Executive Presidency from the Gayoom era was accompanied by live-tenure for judges, without self-accountability on the latter’s part. Under the scheme, the Legislature too being a tool of the Executive did not protest violations or protect the common man’s interests. The MDP in general and President Nasheed in particular wanted this situation changed. What transpired however was a Government in hurry wanting to change everything over-night. With the Opposition-controlled Parliament in no mood to amend the laws to grant a fixed or age-barred tenure for the judges, the Nasheed Government started painting all appointees of the Gayoom administration in black, leaving no room for shades of grey.

This also applied to members of other independent institutions, including the Election Commission, Judicial Services Commission, Civil Services Commission and the Human Rights Commission. In a more recent response to a legislative proposal to amend Article 53 of the Civil Services Act, which stipulates that civil servants wanting to contest elections should quit their post six months in advance, Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, CSC president, said that professionalism of the civil service can be maintained only of if the civil service is established as a non-political establishment. What needs to be achieved is a measure of legislative changes, which do not always go in favour of the Government of the day, particularly when it lacked parliamentary majority. The MDP Government was in a hurry to do too many things in too short a time, and seen as having revamped the system in time for their second presidential poll under the multi-party scheme. In the process, they bit more than they could have chewed.

Anti-incumbency & coalition from start

All sections of the nation’s polity should share the blame for writing the Constitution with an individual, and not institutions, in mind. Through the debates of the Constituent Assembly (2007-08), the unacknowledged assumption was President Gayoom would either thwart the effort or ensure his electoral victory even under a multi-party system. His Government in a way fed such apprehensions on the side of the multi-party Opposition. The Gayoom camp favoured the Westminster system of government. As the polling pattern in 2008 proved, he would have continued in office under the scheme, he having polled 40 per cent of the popular vote in the first round of presidential elections. Against this, Nasheed polled only 25 per cent with two other Opposition candidates, Hassan Saeed and Gasim Ibrahim obtaining 17 and 15 per cent of the votes, respectively. Anticipating some game-plan up President Gayoom’s sleeve, and also understanding the awaiting complexity, the Opposition parties preferred the Executive Presidency through direct elections and 50-per cent-plus share of the popular vote for the winner.

Written into the script even at the time was the inevitability of an anti-Gayoom candidate pooling the votes of other runners-up in the second round, if he had tobe elected President. Deals were struck by parties behind the back of the people, who in turn were excited about the prospects of multi-party democracy. The 40-per cent youth population was overwhelmed by vote for 18-year-olds.Nasheed’s victory thus implied a contract for the winner to accommodate the runners-up in the Government and in the parliamentary elections under the new constitutional scheme. When that part of the deal was not kept, the inherent coalition, inevitable to the Maldivian scheme of the time, broke. It also implied that anti-incumbency of the kind that beleaguered President Gayoom in electoral terms after multi-party democracy became possible, would haunt his successor, too. Or, with the electoral focus turning towards the new President, other parties would ’gang up’, as they did against President Gayoom, if they felt being let up the garden path or that the mood of the voter had changed, since.

Elsewhere, particularly in directly-elected Executive Governments, coalitions of the non-incumbent/anti-incumbent kind are often represented in terms of ’interest groups’ within an umbrella organisation of a single political party. In such instances as post-Independent India or Sri Lanka in the immediate neighbourhood, such umbrella organisations had splintered and fractured with passage of time, to form other political parties, representing individual interest groups, within which commonality could suffer further erosion under specific circumstances. In democratic Maldives, such ’interest groups’ have had ready representation in different political parties even at the commencement of the process.

Barring the main player, the President of the nation and the party that he led and/or represented, the rest of them all have remained constant. There are visible signs of some of the political parties weakening and others strengthening themselves at the cost of the rest. A clearer picture will take time to emerge, with each election for the presidency, Parliament and local councils, throwing up different permutations and combinations, in the interim. All this would go on to prove that democracy is a dynamic process, eternally changing and reshaping itself. Maldives and Maldivians, starting with their divided polity, have to accept that there is no constancy or permanency in democracy after a point ¨C and that all would have to accept this reality and be prepared to make sacrifices.

At present, as in the pre-democracy past, the leadership of various political parties, and by extension, the Government also remains Male-centric, and thus represents the urban elite. It could not have been different in the short , though early signs of the Maldivian polity moving away from urban Male for leadership have become visible in the democracy years. As has been happening in older democracies elsewhere in the Third World, particularly in the rest of South Asia, the trickle-down effect of democracy would swarm not only the population in terms of socio-economic benefits but would also throw up a new class of rural elite, and non-elite among the political party, and consequently government leadership in due course. Maldives has to prepare itself to accept this reality. So should Maldivians be prepared for the same. Yet, given the urban-islands divide ¨C it’s urban-rural divide, elsewhere ¨C and the reality of urban population centres having a disproportionately high share of the votes, the transition and consequent transformation could be more painful than elsewhere, and more than what the young democracy has been subjected to, already.

Institution-building, as democratic traditions, is time-consuming. Once built, it would be left to the practitioners of the scheme, politicians and bureaucrats in this case, to protect what they have given themselves and the nation. In a contemporary history whose current life is only three years or even less, institution-building in Maldives could not be ¨C and should not be -- compared to those in older and thus more matured democracies. The nation will also have to marry the traditions learnt from elsewhere with the cultural and civilizational ethos of a proud people, whose geographical insulation in this communications era needs to be balanced, carefully and patiently. It is not that it could not be achieved, but the tweaking and tempering takes time ¨C at times running to several years. After all, Rome was not built in a day, nor can Maldivian democracy and democratic institutions be, particularly when they have been inherited from another scheme of governance that were in force in another era even in the global context ¨C and cannot be, and should not be wished away, either.

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

< class="heading1">Analysis

11th Five-Year Plan: What is in store for Bhutan?

Sripathi Narayan

The 11th Five-Year Plan that was unveiled recently in Bhutan is pegged at around Nu 201 billion and will cover the period from 2012 to 2018. Within this period, the nation has set for itself a number of targets that it aims to fulfil. The primary focus is on self-reliance and inclusive green socio-economic development, and these will act as the guidelines principle for the Kingdom.

Incidentally, the Kingdom defines the "self-reliance" as the ability to address all developmental needs without external assistance while at the same time curtail the inequality divide that exists in the nation. This is proposed to be achieved by enhancing the standard of living and the quality of life of the most vulnerable sections of the society. This does not necessarily translate into effective poverty-reduction and improved quality of life, but then economic growth has been identified as a means in achieving this goal of a near-egalitarian society.

With these guidelines, the Government has identified four pillars on which the Plan will rest. Social development along with economic progress that would also complement the Government’s efforts at balancing regional development is the first pillar. The second pillar is to have an era of growth, both economic and social, in an environment of carbon-neutral or green development. This would be in line with the Kingdom’s efforts to safeguard its natural beauty and wealth for its future generations. Unlike the first two, the third pillar is aimed at strengthening the Bhutanese identity and culture that has not been subjected to outside influence for a long time. The last pillar focusses on good governance. This is of significant as the Kingdom today is subjected to immense external influence and future political uncertainties owing to the voluntary democratic transition that Bhutan underwent in recent times.

Incidentally, Bhutan would be testing its democratic fibre for the first time this year.The year 2012 will witness the second General Elections, and the first of its kind under a democratic Government. Since the last time the Kingdom went to polls the nation has witnessed a number of small but significant political developments. The list includes the rise of some political parties while others have lost their political fortunes with many more pondering over their prospects.

At the same time, the proposed Five-Year Plan comes at a time when youth unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent. As statistics show, 7.6 percent of the unemployed youth between 15 and 19 years. Of them, 12.1 per cent of the unemployed youth in the 20-24 year age-group are females. This is an area of concern and could have considerable social, cultural and political ramifications. This gains added importance since the regions immediately across the borders of Bhutan do not present any room for encouragement, and are already a hot-bed for social transformation and mixed political practices that include armed resistance.

At the same time, the Eleventh Plan has proposed levels of capital expenditureas under the previous one. But the resources allocated for recurrent expenditure this time round is expected to be 65 percent more than in the Tenth Plan. This is so as recurrent expenditure, or revenue expenditure,is expected to increase sharply, because of increased maintenance costs of the socio-economic facilities under the Tenth Plan. Thus the Kingdom till 2018 will be focusing on consolidation of past efforts rather than expansion of existing one and creating new facilities.

However, this Plan differs from its predecessor on two counts. The first is that the nation plans to develop Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to facilitate private sector development, possibly in Gelephu, Samtse and Samdrupjongkhar regions. This is similar to the efforts for rapid economic progress that has been witnessed in other parts of the world diverting from the long-held tradition of measuring national wealth in Gross National Happiness (GBH) rather than on GNP terms. The second is in addressing the gender gap. To this end, each sector has been made responsible for addressing this issue. Unlike the past, the Government does not propose a centralised formula for the same.

The Eleventh Plan has taken into consideration demographic trends and prepare for challenges of aging population as well as and population movement between dzongkhagsand the regions. According to the Population Perspective Plan-2010, rapid urbanisation from high internal migration has resulted in de-population of the dzongkhags. For the period 2012-18, the Kingdom aims at multi-dimensionally tackling the poverty index by focusing more on health, education and living standards, the areas in which Bhutan is lagging on the 13-indicator chart.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New labour laws

In a bid to improve the labour conditions, the Government is all set to introduce a new law. From May this year, all employers in the country will be required to prepare a policy on the health and safety of their employees as a part of the ’Regulation on Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare’ scheme. This regulation is an effort taken by the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, to promote occupational health and safety of workers.

This regulation will establish standards on occupational health, safety and welfare on premises, instruments, vessels, appliances, apparatus, tools, devices, electrical safety and workplace conditions.

According to the regulation, a workplace employing 12 or more employees should have a written statement of policy on health and safety of employees. The employees at a workplace may appoint one of their members to be their health and safety representative in accordance with the provisions of Section 166 of Labour and Employment Act, 2007.

The regulation requires an employer to report any accident or dangerous occurrence leading to death to the chief labour administrator of the labour ministry and the nearest police station.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, 20 April, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No more loans from non-bank financial institutions

A directive from the Central Bank states that non-bank financial institutions must discontinue all kinds of lending activities by June 2014.Central Bank Governor Daw Tenzin said the core businesses of the insurance and pension fund was not providing loans.

The directive has caused serious concerns among the institutions, as it calls for a total restructuring and reorientation of their business models. While options are being explored, officials from these companies say there are hardly any.

NPPF’s CEO Dupthob Wangchug said that they have been given only two years to prepare for the change-over. The capital market towards which the fund is looking for investment may not yet be developed by that time. "Given the fact that the economy lacks investment avenues and the capital market is still undeveloped, discontinuing lending activities would mean it would heavily affect the Fund’s performance," he said. The credit portfolio constitutes around 60 percent of the Fund’s total asset of Nu 12 b, this means 60 per cent of the Fund’s business will have to be stopped.

Similarly, the RICBL has a total asset size of Nu 6.7 billion of which Nu 5.2 b is the loan portfolio. "We’re seriously concerned and are looking to approach the Central Bank again to make further clarifications," the chief executive of RICBL, Namgyel Lhendup, said.

The pension fund already faces a sustainability issue and must get returns of seven per cent if it is to sustain the Fund for the next 30 years. Today its returns average 6.5 percent. Without the lending portfolio, which contributes significantly to its revenue, returns might come down sharply, and the fund may be able to sustain only for another 15-20 years, officials said.

The Fund’s loans for education and housing combine to Nu 4 billion, and investment in projects and companies, such as Dungsam, Nu 3.7 billion. The rest of the investment is in theform of shares, deposits, and real estate rental income, which works out to only about 20 percent of the total portfolio.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 21, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Wholesalers sail through rupee-crunch

Wholesale-dealers supplying essential food items, groceries and toiletries have experienced a surge in sales, with consumers in border towns, and retailers in the interiors, sourcing supplies from them instead of across the border.

"Our sales almost went up by 65 percent in March across the country, after the central bank started rationing the Indian rupee (INR)," the joint managing director (food grain) of the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB), SingyeDukpa, said.

Except for Gasa, Panbang, Sipsoo, Bhangtar and Lhamoizingkha, the government-owned FCB has depots in most dzongkhag and dungkhag headquarters that keep a stock of essentials for schools and institutions, and also do some retail sales for local consumers.

Maximum sales are occurring in the larger urban centres, like in Phuentsholing and Thimphu. For example, in Thimphu, the sale of rice doubled to 178 metric tonnes (MT) in March this 2012, compared to March 2011. The sale of Dalda, a vegetable oil, increased by more than thrice to 25MT in March this 2012.

This is a result of the measures taken by the government in arresting the Rupee crunch that discourages direct imports or individual purchases from India.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 21, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">External borrowings for private consumption

The Central Bank has been borrowing rupee by availing itself of overdraft facilities not to pay off Government loans or to fund Government expenditure, but to bail out increasing private consumption, said the Central Bank Governor at a meeting with Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

The Governor was clarifying the point after the BCCI said the private sector was blamed for the current rupee-crunch in the country. He said the terms "private sector consumption" and "private consumption" have been mixed up. The rupee-crunch, the governor said, was caused by private consumption and not necessarily private sector consumption.

According to RMA, credit from financial institutions fuelled private consumption amounting to Rs 48.5 billion. These are urgent and short-term debts. In 1998, RMA had to take an overdraft of Rs 800 million at an interest rate of 10 percent to finance private consumption.

According to the annual RMA report, the concentration of private sector lending in consumer©\driven and non©\productive sectors coupled with the high asset©\liability mismatch in the banking system fuelled external imbalances through private consumption.

It further contributed to upward inflationary pressures through the trade account, thereby exposing the financial sector to risks of illiquidity. In the last five years, Bhutan’s growth in credit has more than doubled the nominal GDP.

The Bhutanese economy grew by around 11 percent between 2010 and 2011. But the growth was mainly import-driven. And since the exports didn’t grow, the situation worsened.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Long-range n-capable missile tested

India successfully tested its most advanced long-range nuclear-capable missile to date on Thursday; a launch which New Delhi hopes will serve as a deterrent against China, its regional rival.

Experts say Agni-V is the most advanced missile in India’s inventory and places the country on a footing with Beijing, which already has missiles capable of striking deep into Indian territory.

Its range of over 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) means it could travel as far as Beijing and Shanghai. Earlier missiles had a range of up to 3,500 kilometers, falling short of many of China’s major cities.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 19, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Court upholds education-access law

The Supreme Court has upheld a law that supporters say can transform access to education for hundreds of millions of poor children but critics claim infringes on the rights of private schools to admit whom they want.

The Right to Education law, which went into effect in April 2010, requires private schools to give one quarter of their places to low-income children. Two judges of the three-judge bench that was hearing the challenge by over 30 petitioners found that the law did not violate the constitutional rights of those running private schools.

However, they carved out an exemption for private "minority" institutions, such as those run by religious groups, finding that the act "infringes the fundamental freedom" of such schools.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 12, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fast-tracking commando equipment

Stung by Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh’s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over gaps in defence preparedness, the government Tuesday decided to fast-track army acquisition and projects and as a first step, empowered the army to buy equipment for special-forces commandos.

The Army will buy the specialist equipment on its own, as it at present does with regard to equipment for troops posted in Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest and toughest battlefield.

This decision was taken at a two-hour meeting to review army’s procurements and infrastructure development plans chaired by Defence Minister A.K. Antony here, attended by Gen. Singh and other senior officers from the force, defence ministry officials said here.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 17, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fast-tracking energy supplies to Pak

Seeking to speed up bilateral cooperation and enhance economic engagement, India and Pakistan have decided to fast-track the ongoing talks for trade in petroleum products and electricity. The issue of opening bank branches in each other’s country would also be taken up on priority.

It was decided during the bilateral meeting between Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and the visiting Pakistan Trade Minister, Makhdom Amin Fahim, that the officials of both countries should fast-track the ongoing process. It was also noted that the Central banks of both countries were examining issues relating to opening bank branches in each other’s country.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, April 15, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Economy facing difficulties: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the Indian economy was facing "difficulties" but expressed hope that the challenges will be overcome.

"There are difficulties. Life will not be worth living if there are no difficulties. I am confident with great determination; we will overcome (these),"Singh said in his brief intervention at a panel discussion here this evening.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 14, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">RBI cuts key rates

India slashed its benchmark interest rate by a greater-than-forecast half a percentage point, seeking to bolster growth with the first reduction since 2009. Inflation might limit the room for further cuts, the central bank said.

Reserve Bank of India Governor D Subbarao lowered the repurchase rate to eight per cent from 8.5 per cent.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 17, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">G-20 urged to make action plan

India has called upon G-20 nations, the world’s top economies, to work out a ’’credible and ambitious’’ action plan to put the global economy firmly on the path of recoveryas alsopromote strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

The proposed action plan to be adopted by the leaders of these countries at their summit in La Cabs, Mexico in June should pay greater attention to three important issues at this juncture, Finance Minister Prefab Mukherjee said at a meeting of G-20 finance ministers here.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt clears Air India turnaround plan

The Government on Thursday approved a restructuring plan aimed at turning around the fortunes of debt-laden national carrier Air India that makes a loss of nearly $2.0 million a day.

"The Cabinet has cleared Air India’s restructuring plan," Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told reporters in New Delhi. At the same time, the Cabinet postponed a decision on allowing foreign airlines to buy stakes in struggling Indian carriers.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 12, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">90-seater planes planned

India is working on developing its very own 90-seater civilian aircraft with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) saying "the strategy for its production has already been evolved" with the design "planned to have unique features like enhanced fuel efficiency, use of bio fuel with low carbon footprint, short to long range haul, shorter air strip requirement and ultra-modern avionics".
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, April 16, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US aid for clean energy centre

In a significant development in the quest for clean energy, three top research institutions each in India and the US have joined hands to form three consortia that will make up the $125 million US-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centre (JCERDC).

These consortia, led in the US by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the University of Florida, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) will bring together experts from national laboratories, universities, and industry in the US and India, the US Department of Energy announced Friday.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 14, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">C’wealth ultimatum on ’coup probe’

Following up on the earlier call for independent and credible investigations into the circumstances accompanying the change of Government on February 7 in Maldives, the Commonwealth Ministerial Group (CWMG) has served a four-week ultimatum on the Government of President Waheed for providing details in the matter. It has also reiterated the call for presidential polls by December 31, ahead of the November 2013 deadline, when it is otherwise due.

The Maldivian Government has reacted by promising to engage with the CWMG, and procure details on what it thought would make the probe credible. Earlier, President Waheed had declined the demand for an international probe, citing reasons of sovereignty, but said that they would be ready to include international experts to assist the probe team, from a list that they would request the Commonwealth and/or the UN to provide.

DRP Leader of the Opposition Thasmeen Ali said that the CWMG’s expectations were unreasonable. He however was committed to early polls, once the ’coup probe’ was completed.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, April 16-20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nasheed seeks Indian support

Former Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed and a delegation of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spent most of the week in the Indian capital of New Delhi and the business capital, Mumbai, seeking support for their demand for early presidential polls in their country, ahead of scheduled meetings with the Indian leadership.

At interactions with Indian intellectuals, strategic and business community, and the media, Nasheed reiterated what he described as his forced exit, and said that India should use its influence to ensure early presidential polls, if needed by enforcing sanctions and travel restrictions on the current leadership in his country.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, April 18-20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PPM, main ’minority group’

With the election of a first MP under the party symbol in by-elections on April 14, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the breakaway faction of the Dhivehi Rayyathunge Party (DRP), both founded by former President MaumoonGayoom, has become the main ’minority group’ in the People’s Majlis or Parliament, after the 32-strong Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The parent DRP’s strength has come down to 15 after 16 members identified with President Gayoom formally crossed over.

Under the law, for a political party to claim recognition in Parliament, it should have won at least one seat under its symbol. With the DRP split occurring during the interregnum, the PPM had to wait the election of the first member under its flag and symbol before effecting the formal split.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru, April 19, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">West eases sanctions

With the successful conclusion of the April I by-elections, the international community has announced that it will be relaxing the sanctions that they had imposed upon the nation. To this end, the Australian Foreign Minister said that the travel ban on government officials have been revised to 130 individuals from the existing list of 390. According to Foreign Minister Bob Carr,senior serving military officers and people of human rights interest will be subjected to travel restrictions as well as the longstanding ban on defence exports would remain in place.

On the other hand, the European Union countries have agreed in principle to suspend all sanctions against Myanmar, with the exception of an arms embargo, for a 12-month period. The 12-month extension is aimed a giving the EU time to assess the sustainability of reform. The United States too has eased financial restrictions so as to enable US-based non-governmental organisations to operate in Myanmar. As a result of the US will no longer bar financial transactions in the country which are meant for projects that "meet basic human needs" or to promote democracy. Such projects include assistance to internally displaced people, English-language schools as well as delivery of clothes, food and medicine.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 16, 18 and 19, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Japan waives old debts

Japan plans to wavier the 300 billion yen ($3.7 billion) debt and proposes to resume suspended-assistance. As a first step, Japan is to announce a 127.4 billion yen waiver that had been previously agreed but suspended while the country was in the grip of the military regime. The remaining 176.1 billion yen, including interest and delay penalties, will be forgiven on condition that the process of democratisation continues apace, the paper said.

This announcement comes on the side lines of President TheinSein will visit Japan from April 20 to 24 after a 28 year break.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 19, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Suu Kyi to receive Nobel prize in Oslo

The Opposition NLD leader Aung San SuuKyi plans to make her first trip abroad to Oslo in June to accept in person the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize she had been given for her peaceful struggle.

"She will give her Nobel lecture at Oslo City Hall," where the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held each year, the Nobel Institute’s events manager Sigrid Langebrekke told AFP on after Norway’s foreign ministry announced the visit for which an exact date has yet to be set.

Myanmar officials said the democracy activist, who has spent much of the past 22 years locked up by the junta under house arrest, had applied for a passport to travel but that it had not yet been granted.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 18, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">3000-plus combatants opt for integration

Only 3,129 Maoist combatants have chosen integration into the Nepal Army by the time of completion of the voluntary retirement process in all the cantonments on April 19.

According to the Special Committee secretariat, altogether 6,576 combatants chose voluntary retirement and they have been released from the cantonments.

There were 9,705 combatants who had opted for integration in the first phase of categorisation in November last year. The Special Committee had carried out the second phase categorisation as the number of combatants choosing integration was much higher than the allotted quota of 6,500.

India, China, the UN and the EU have all welcomed the recent development in the peace process and urged the political parties to show similar consensus in constitution drafting process.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Six-point deal with Tarai outfit

The Government on April 18 signed a six-point understanding with United Revolutionary TaraiMadhes Liberation Front (URTMLF), an armed outfit operating in the Tarai. The deal was signed in Hetauda, Makawanpur district.

As per the agreement, the government would release the arrested URTMLF cadres. On the other hand, the Front has expressed its commitment to join peaceful politics. The five-member talk team of URTMLF was headed by BiwasBidrohi.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 18, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President for consensus govt

President Dr Ram Baran Yadav has said that he wishes to see a consensus government in place at the time of promulgating the new constitution and urged the prime minister to make efforts to that end.

The ruling Maoist party is in favour of such a consensus government under its own leadership. The political parties are currently engaged in talks on issues of constitution drafting. The main issues include form of government, state restructuring, electoral system and judiciary.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 17, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt drafts National Land Use Policy

In a bid to control haphazard use of land, the government on April 16 drafted National Land Use Policy 2012 with the aim to manage, classify and put them to proper long term use.

The policy calls for the land to be classified into six categories -- agriculture area, residential, commercial, industrial and forest areas and public and other necessity area -- with provisions to preserve at least 40 per cent of the total lands area for forestry. The new policy allows the government to acquire any land, if necessary, for infrastructure development.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, April 19, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Call for demilitarisation of Siachen

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Shariefhas said that the Government should take the initiative and withdraw troops unilaterally from Siachen Glacier. Sharief made the statement during his visit to the Gayari sector of Siachen to observe rescue efforts following the avalanche that claimed 127 soldiers’ lives.

Sharief said that no one in the world can justify keeping troops at 21,000 feet and losing soldiers to frostbites and avalanches. He added that India learned the futility of fighting for a "strategically unimportant" piece of frozen land during its war with China in 1962 for a road built by China in Aksai Chin (part of Kashmir territory). By negotiating with China, he added, India-China trade is worth $100 billion.

Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani made a similar statement when he visited the Gayari sector along with President Zardari for monitoring rescue operations of the 135 troops and civilians buried under a large avalanche over a week ago. He said that neighbours should live together peacefully and should reach a resolution on Siachen and other issues. He also made a call for demilitarisation of Siachen so that both countries don’t have to pay the cost in terms of huge monetary expenditures to maintain troops at such high altitudes, and lives of the soldiers. India appreciated and welcomed Kayani’s remark for peace and demilitarisation.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, April 19, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">384 prisoners freed in Taliban attack

Around 200 heavily-armed Taliban terrorists attacked Central Jail in Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa early on April 14 and released 384 prisoners, including Adnan Rashid, a former junior technician of Pakistan Air Force who was on death row for plotting to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf. More than twenty prisoners out of those escaped were on death sentence and considered dangerous.

Tehreek-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and the spokesperson of TTP said that the purpose of the raid was to free their important members and therefore they attacked with 150 suicide bombers and were in charge of the jail completely for more than two hours. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Home Secretary Azam Khan said eleven prisoners were arrested and 29 prisoners returned to jail making a plea that they fled to prevent themselves from gunfire.

Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that cellular service providers will be instructed to block services inside the prisons. The parliamentary forces, Army and police have already launched search operations to arrest the escaped prisoners.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Times,The Express Tribune, April 15, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Co-ownership of drone operations

Pakistan and the US are exploring possibilities of joint ownership of drone attacks against militants of the tribal belt. Sources confirmed that US has refused to stop predator strikes and insists that drone strikes are integral part of US counter-terrorism operations. Earlier, Pakistan’s proposal of conducting such strikes on their own by using F-16s has already been rejected by the US. Various proposals related to a real-time intelligence sharing and advance notifications of drone strikes are under consideration.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani while briefing the negotiation agenda at the Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) meeting said that negotiations on new terms and conditions for resumptions of NATO supplies, joint counter-terrorism co-operation, expulsion of all foreign fighters and non-use of Pakistan’s territory to attack other countries, transparency of US diplomatic and intelligence in Pakistan are some of the fundamental policy parameters that are under consideration.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, April 20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">$110-m aid from US

US Ambassador Cameron Munter and Pakistan’s Secretary of Economic Affair Dr Waqar Masood signed an agreement to provide Pakistan with $110 million aid for improving law enforcement. This aid will be used to train police officials and for procurement of uniform, vehicles, and communication equipment. The aid program will support nationwide private and government drug treatment centres and anti-drug campaigns, counter narcotics efforts including poppy reduction and developing alternative crops.

It will also support aviation by expanding operating locations of the 50th Air Wing Squadron in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas to improve border monitoring. The aid comes at a crucial time when Pakistan is about to decide on reopening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan and thus can be seen part of the larger negotiations.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, April 17, 2012.

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian MPs’ team visit war areas

In a significant development with far-reaching effect on bilateral relations, seemingly strained after the Indian vote for the US-sponsored Sri Lanka-related resolution at the UNHRC in Geneva, a 12-member team of Indian parliamentarians toured across Sri Lanka, meeting with people of various political shades and opinions, starting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, UNP Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leadership under R Sampanthan.

The Indian delegation, headed by BJP Leader of the Opposition, Sushma Swaraj, visited Indian-aided projects and handed over benefits to Tamil war victims, apart from visiting them in the camps for internally-displaced persons. Talking to media persons before returning home, Sushma Swaraj said that they had impressed upon President Rajapaksa on the need to persuade the TNA, UNP and others to join the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for finding a negotiated settlement to the ethnic issue. The team also reiterated the known Indian stand on finding a political solution within a ’united Sri Lanka’.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, April 17-21, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cross-Strait spat on ’separate State’

Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, entered into a cross-Palk Strait spat with former DMK Chief Minister M Karunanidhi of the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu, after the latter called for a UN-sponsored referendum for a ’separate Tamil State’ in Sri Lanka, on the lines of those that have been similarly created elsewhere.

In a hard-hitting reaction, Gota Rajapaksa said that Tamil Nadu had more Tamils than Sri Lanka, and it would be appropriate for Karunanidhi to demand a separate State in India than in Sri Lanka. In a retort of the kind for which he is well known, Karunanidhi said that there was no need for the creation of a separate State for Tamils in India as the Union Government was not biased against the community, nor was there any State-sponsored violence against them, as in Sri Lanka. However, he toned down his earlier rhetoric to clarify that he was never for a violent movement to obtain a separate State, and favoured only peaceful attempts in this regard.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, April 18-20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Khaleda wants good ties with India

Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief Khaleda Zia this week claimed her party was committed to build good relations with India through resolving outstanding problems between the two countries. She expressed the view when the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran, made a courtesy call on her.

BNP Vice-Chairman Shamser Mobin Chowdhury, who was present at the meeting, later claimed that Saran had informed Zia those top Indian officials who would visit Bangladesh in the future and hold talks with her for enhancing bilateral relations.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, April 20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Security talks with US

Bangladesh and the US held the first-ever security dialogue. During the dialogue the two sides agreed to enhance partnership in the UN peacekeeping, counterterrorism and disaster management.

The two sides at the meeting exchanged views on the on-going engagement between the two countries in the areas of counterterrorism, disaster management, maritime security and peacekeeping operations and shared commitment to peace, security and prosperity in the region.

Additional Foreign Secretary Mustafa Kamal led the Bangladesh at the dialogue, while Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J Shapiro led the 11-member US delegation.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, April 20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">BNP alliance expanded

The Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led four-party alliance this week declared that it had added allies and it is now stand to an "18-party alliance". This alliance is formed with an intention of strengthening their movement for restoration of the caretaker government system and to form government.

Declaring the new alliance BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia said expansion of the four-party combine was a necessity in view of demands from all parties and people from all walks of life to be united to compel the present government to hand over power to a non-party caretaker Government.

The new components of the 18-party combine include Liberal Democratic Party, Kalyan Party, JatiyaGanatantrik Party (Jagpa), National People’s Party (NPP) and Bangladesh NAP, and seven other parties not registered with the Election Commission -- Bangladesh Labour Party, National Democratic Party (NDP), Muslim League, Islamic Party, National Awami Party (NAP-Bhasani), Democratic League and People’s League. Interestingly, among the leaders of these parties, only LDP Chairman Oli Ahmad won the last parliamentary polls.

The four-party alliance was formed in 1999. It comprised of BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami, Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ) and Bangladesh Jatiya Party (BJP). Later, IOJ split into three factions -- IOJ (Aminee), Khelafat Majlish and Jomiyote Ulamaye Islam-- and all of them were active in the four-party combine.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, April 19, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Opposition protest

The streets of Dhaka turned violent as clashes broke out between opposition activists and law enforcement agencies as Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) nationwide demonstrations in protest against the disappearance of its leader Elias Ali. The clashes left around130 people were injured and dozens of vehicle were burned.

BNP leaders who were leading the procession, including acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, standing committee members Moudud Ahmed, Nazrul Islam Khan and Mirza Abbas, joint secretaries Amanullah Aman and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi and education affairs secretary Khairul Kabir Khokan, sustained injuries in the police attack.
< class="text11verdana">Source: New Age, April 20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">FDI opposed in apparel sector

Garment manufacturer expressed their reservation about the inflow of foreign direct investments in apparel and textile sectors as they claim that local players are strong enough to cater to customers worldwide.

Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association have opined that the FDI could be allowed into certain segments of the RMG sector, as currently Bangladesh is graduating from basic garments to high-end items. He further observed that the government can allow FDI into specialised textile products so that the garment makers can purchase fabrics from the local market, instead of importing them from China and other countries.

Mohiuddin further added they his association want protectionism about FDI in the RMG sector, as protectionism is practised worldwide to protect local industries.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, April 20, 2012.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">More items to be allowed for trade

The Cabinet this week approved amendments to the Mode of Operation of Border Haat, allowing trade of more products including toiletries, cosmetics, aluminium, crockery and plastic products on Indo-Bangladesh border.

The transaction limit for each buyer from now on would be extended to $100 from $50 at the weekly market that opened on July 23, 2011 on the border stretched from Kalaichar in West Garo Hills district of Indian state of Meghalaya to Baliamari of Kurigram district in Bangladesh.

Governments of India and Bangladesh have reached a consensus that the Border Haats’ Mode of Operation should be changed based on the experiences from the weekly market operating since July 23, 2011.

A total of 47 locally produced commodities being traded on the weekly market include vegetables, food items, fruits, spices, bamboo-made products and broom stick, excluding timber, products of local cottage industries like ’Gamcha’ and ’Lungi’, small locally-produced agriculture household appliances like ’dao’ (machete), plough, axe, spade and chisel, melamine products, processed food items and fruit juice.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the two countries on October 23, 2010 for setting up the border markets. Dhaka and New Delhi agreed to allow trade in specified produces and products at the Border Haats, in accordance with the regulations agreed and notified by both the Governments.
< class="text11verdana">Source: New Age, April 17, 2012.

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Bhutan and Myanmar: Sripathi Narayan;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
India: Satish Misra;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
Pakistan: Vinesh Kaushik;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;

The views expressed above belong to the author(s). ORF research and analyses now available on Telegram! Click here to access our curated content — blogs, longforms and interviews.