MonitorsPublished on Jul 10, 2011
For a democratic polity that is still in its infancy, Maldives has faced splits in major parties barring the ruling MDP and splintering alliances, whose aggregate result is to strengthen the hands of President Mohammed Nasheed.
Maldives: Split parties, splintering alliances strengthen President's hand
< class="heading1">Analysis

For a democratic polity that is still in its infancy, Maldives has faced splits in major parties barring the ruling MDP and splintering alliances, whose aggregate result is to strengthen the hands of President Mohammed Nasheed. Coupled with this is the fact that the ruling MDP has gone through the first major organisational elections, redefining the future course of polity, in turn.

The nature and results of the first phase of polling for the presidency under the multi-party scheme in October 2008 dictated that the losers rallied round runner-up Nasheed. Vowed not to facilitate the return of incumbent Maumoon Gayoom, who topped the first phase, the alliance for the run-off saw Nasheed winning the presidency. The smooth transition ensured that political stability was not at stake despite the massive change-over necessitated by the exit of a man who had been in power for 30 long years. That was not to be.

As was to be expected, President Nasheed, on assuming office, offered senior positions to those who had backed him in the second-phase. Chief among them were Dr Hassan Saeed, who had scored around 16 per cent of the popular vote in the first round against Nasheed’s 25 per cent and Gasim Ibrahim, leader of the Jumbhoree Party (JP), an influential businessman, who had polled under 15 per cent in the first phase. Gasim became Interior Minister and Saeed settled for the post of President’s Advisor. His senior colleague Ahmed Shaheed -- in the Maldivian National Front (MNF), later Dhivehi Qaume Party (DQP) -- became the Foreign Minister.

President Nasheed also accommodated in the Cabinet, representatives of the Gaumee Itthihaad Party (GIP), or the National Unity Party, headed by his running-mate, Dr Mohammed Waheed Hassan, who became the Vice-President. Ministerial berths were offered to the orthodox religious Aadhalath Party (AP), which had also supported him in the run-off phase. Given that Maldives follows the US model of Executive Presidency, the AP representatives continued in office even when the party could not win a single seat in the parliamentary polls only months later.

Trouble began when the MDP leadership went against the prevailing perception and contested the subsequent parliamentary polls of mid-2009 without involving the JP and MNF allies. This contributed to the party not being able to muster a parliamentary majority, with the scales tilting in favour of the DRP-PA combine. This was also behind the series of constitutional crises that crippled the polity through 2011. If the aim was to stabilise the MDP’s place in national politics and also that of the Nasheed presidency, it has since served the purpose.

Over the past years, allies of the MDP have felt the heat. Ministers belonging to the DQP and AP have joined the MDP and stayed back in the Government, when the respective party leaderships decided otherwise. The GIP Ministers joined the MDP after the party leadership failed to convince Vice-President Waheed to do so, himself. In the absence of an anti-defection law, which has become a core of political practices and legislation in other Third World democracies, cross-overs to the MDP has made it the single largest party in Parliament. The DRP split recently, and it is sure to weaken the party’s parliamentary strength as much as its electoral reach.

Within the DRP, the faction identified with Gayoom has walked out of the party, to found the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). Gayoom had earlier identified unsuccessful vice-presidential running-mate, Thasmeen Ali, as his successor and DRP’s presidential nominee for the 2013 polls as far back as 2010. There have also been on-again-off-again rumours of the PA aligning with, if not merging in the PPM with Abdulla Yameen becoming the combine’s presidential candidate. Some in DRP say that such a ’family-oriented strategy’ was behind the split in the DRP, as a strong section continued to feel that the Maumoon family should stay away from limelight if the party had to become acceptable to the masses.

Dunya Maumoon, daughter of Gayoom, has since proposed an electoral alliance between the PPM and AP, the latter an avowed fundamentalist political party, wedded to religious conservatism on the home front, and opposed to perceived ’anti-Islamic nations’, otherwise. With the pressures of electoral politics telling on the party’s electoral chances more after the current split, the PPM could be expected to compete with the AP for ’fundamentalist vote-bank’ on the one hand, and cooperate with the latter, if the first strategy failed.

The problems are also for the AP. The party would have to evaluate its medium and long-term interests, given in particular the prevailing perception of some analysts that the mediocrity of democratic politics in the country could push the people towards a third alternative. Whether the AP, as a fundamentalist party, would be able to garner those votes, or if it should take the middle-path from now on, to become acceptable to larger sections is the question now facing the party.

Nearly three years after embracing multi-party democracy, politics in Maldives is in a flux. The ruling MDP, sworn to internal-democracy within the party, elected a new president in 2011, when Dr Ibrahim Didi, a Minister in the Nasheed team, defeated party elder and Presidential Special Envoy, Ibrahim Zaki. While consolidation has been the pass-word for the MDP after the presidential polls, how such internal contradictions would reflect on the party’s growing popularity, as reflected by the local government polls, too remains to be seen.

In a country where people outside the capital island of Male feel neglected all through, the election of Ibrahim Didi, projecting his southern identity has a message for the whole polity in the country. So has been the Adhaalath Party’s ability to win some island councils in March 2011 and the consequent hopes of fighting its future poll battles on its terms. How all these play out between now and the presidential polls of 2013 is what would make the politics as much confusing as it is interesting - with President Nasheed still standing tall, leaving the divided Opposition to dwarf one another, even more.

For now, the success of the upcoming SAARC Summit in Maldives in the second week of November is sure to stir up nation-wide interest. For the first time, a summit of the kind is being held outside the capital, Male, in the Southern Province. Earlier, President Nasheed had held a Cabinet meeting in the Province, in his bid to take ’government to the doorsteps of the masses’. He said that he would hold similar meetings of the Cabinet in far-flung islands of the country.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Sniffer dogs for Summit security

Sri Lanka will provide security from its Special Task Force (STF) units for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit to be held in Addu City this November.

The Foreign Ministry and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) confirmed that STF will be sending police dogs for the purpose. Dogs are considered haram in Islam, and are prohibited as domestic pets in the Maldives. An exception was made for drug-sniffing and security dogs at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, however sources familiar with the issue say local staff were unable to provide proper care for the dogs and they fell ill.Allegations of religious intervention were denied.

President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair said that the STF dogs would not be an issue for the SAARC event. "We had dogs earlier for security without any trouble, I don’t see why anybody should object because the government has officially employed dogs before," he said.

All countries participating in the SAARC convention are providing security forces. According to Zuhair, Bangladesh has donated trucks to the army, India is contributing police forces, and equipment with an estimated value of $400,000 will be arriving from Pakistan in the next few days.China will provide CCTV equipment for surveillance.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Minivan News, October 6, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Businesses to display list of tax-free goods

Shops should have a displayed list of goods and services from which the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is exempted, Economic Development Ministry has said.

In a statement, the Ministry said, "If a business is to charge GST from its services or goods the registration certificate issued by the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) should be put up on display for everyone to see and it is prohibited for an unregistered business to charge GST".

The Ministry stressed that as necessitated by the Consumer Protection Act, the wholesale price and retail price should also be displayed for customers to see. It warned that businesses that violate the announcement will be initially fined an amount between Rf500-10,000 and if repeated an amount between Rf5,000-10,000.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Haveeru News, October 7, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India uneasy with Chinese contract

India is feeling uneasy with Nepal Telecom’s decision to award a communication expansion contract to two Chinese firms, according to media reports.There is apprehension about the step, given its long term security implications, the Indian media has claimed. The Times of India cited an official to argue that the decision could mean a virtual free run for Chinese companies that have links to the Chinese establishment on the communication network of Nepal.

Nepal Telecom (NT), the Government-controlled telecom monopoly, awarded the contract for installing the Next Generation Network (NGN) in August to two Chinese telecom firms, ZTE Corporation and Huawei. ZTE would install the equipment for NGN in Kathmandu Valley while Huawei would do so in the rest of Nepal. According to details, the two companies would complete the project, estimated at $19 million, in six months’ time.

According to sources, NT had with government approval called a global tender for NGN. At least 10 international companies took part in the tender. But only four were short-listed, and from them the two Chinese firms were selected, it further reported.ZTE and Huawei would erect some 2,500 towers all over Nepal, in addition to the 700-odd towers of NT already in operation for CDMA network.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Times of India, October 5, 2011, Republica, October 6, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Madhesi leader claims a new Govt after Tihar Festival

Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) chairman Upendra Yadav has claimed that a new government will be formed after Tihar festival. Speaking to reporters at his residence in Biratangar, Yadav said the Government of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai will not last beyond Tihar because there has to be a national consensus government to conclude the peace process and the constitution-drafting.

"Leaders of Bhattarai’s own party did not support him. How can he deliver peace and constitution by keeping the Nepali Congress and the UML outside of the government?" he questioned, adding, "Bhattarai-led government has proved to be a failure."Yadav said that despite Bhattarai’s good efforts the Government is going nowhere because of corrupt persons in his Cabinet.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 5, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC holds Govt accountable for Karachi violence

In a 152-page judgment, Supreme Court Chief Justice Ifthikar Mohammad Chaudhary has warned the Government of unprecedented disaster both the federal and provincial governments did not exert efforts in the interest of the nation. He stressed on the fact that the recent violence in Karachi represents unimaginable brutalities and that it was not ethnic alone in nature but also because of differences between groups having economic, socio-political interests in the region. The judgment saw it mandatory to find solutions within the Constitution through a de-politicised police force, political parties denouncing their affiliations with criminals, etc. The court also ordered for the elimination of ’no-go areas’ in Karachi.

As a means of reaching out to the militants, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stated that the Government would talk to anyone from the troubled areas as far as they ’decommission’ themselves. He reiterated that he avoided the usage of the term ’surrender’ as it was not conducive to the tribal traditions. He mentioned that the Three-D policy of dialogue, development and deterrence will continue as it was successful in the SWAT region.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Times 7 October, 2011; Dawn, 3, 7 October, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Abbottabad panel probes ISI chief

In a rare occurrence, the civilian commission investigating the May 2 US raid in Abbottabad recorded the statement of serving ISI Chief Director-General Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.

The ISI chief stated that the, "Abbottabad operation was not known to any tier in the Pakistan Army". Other ISI officials who were interviewed reiterated claims that the US had conducted the raid unilaterally without the consent of Pakistani authorities. According to the official statement, "the (commission) briefing included background information and post-operation investigation findings". The commission headed by Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal also conducted "exhaustive interviews" of the three widows and two daughters of Bin Laden.

The terms of reference of the Abbottabad commission are to ascertain the facts surrounding Bin Laden’s undetected presence in Pakistan for nearly five years, the circumstances and facts of the US operation, to investigate any security lapses that may have occurred on May 2 and lastly to make consequential recommendations based on the commission’s findings.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Tribune (Pakistan) October 4, 2011; Dawn, October 6, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New chief for Navy

Vice-Admiral M Asif Sandila has been appointed as the new Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) by President Asif Ali Zardari. He was also promoted to the rank of Admiral and succeeds Admiral Noman Bashir, whose three year term ended on October 7.

Admiral Sandila becomes the first Kohatian, having studied at Cadet College Kohat, Pakistan, to gain the top naval rank. He is a graduate of the Naval Command and Staff College of Indonesia and the Armed Forces War College at the National Defence University. He is a recipient of the Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military) and "Chevalier de I’ Ordre National de Merite" awards. Sandila belongs to the Sangla Hill, Sheikhupura region.

In a related development, four major generals of the Pakistan Army were appointed to the rank of lieutenant-general. These include Maj Gen Nasser Janjua, vice chief of general staff, Maj Gen Syed Tariq Nadim Gilani, GOC Sargodha, Maj Gen Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, DG Rangers Sindh, and Maj Gen Naveed Zaman, commandant National Defence University (NDU).
< class="text11verdana">Source:, 6 October, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Army continues flood relief work

The Pakistan Army has been engaged in relief and rescue operations in the flood-hit areas of Sindh. Some 2200 army troops, 2 MI-17 helicopters, 105 motorised boats, heavy vehicles and machinery have been tasked with this operation.

So far, 66,000 persons have been rescued, 12,839 tons of ration distributed and over 90,000 patients treated at medical camps established in Sanghar, Pur Khas, Omer Kot, Mithi, Khairpur and Badin.
< class="text11verdana">Source: October 3, 2011.

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TNA to discuss concerns with India

Amid charges that the government is not genuinely interested in evolving a political solution to the Tamil question, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said yesterday it would discuss its political concerns with India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai over the weekend.

TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said his party had taken up various issues with India during the past few years."Again, we will raise our usual political concerns with India’s Foreign Secretary," he said and added that the government had started the second phase of talks with the TNA, but not much progress had been made.

This is Mathai’s first visit to Sri Lanka as Foreign Secretary, and his visit is the second high-level contact between the two countries in as many weeks after President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly. In Sri Lanka, he will meet with President Rajapaksa, and UNP Opposition Leader Ranil Wicrekemesinghe, among others, and also visit sites where Indian-funded rehabilitation and reconstruction activities are under way.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, October 7, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Fisheries talk with India put off

The meeting of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Working Group (JWG) on fishing issues, scheduled to meet in Colombo on October 7 was put off almost at the last minute after New Delhi reportedly intimated its inability to schedule the presence of all officials concerned.

Ahead of the talks the environment for talks was vitiated by increasing incidents of attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen from India, and also by a statement of Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senavirathne that they would not allow any Indian fishing vessel to enter Sri Lankan waters.

No new date has been fixed for the rescheduled talks.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, October 6, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Looking East to India

In the latest episode of Afghanistan looking across borders for assistance, President Hamid Karzai visited India and signed a strategic pact with New Delhi. The Indian Government welcomed his desire for friendship and took to assure him that they would help Afghanistan with anything they need. The latest of these helpful measures includes the creation of a framework for capacity building in the key areas of health education and people to people contact.

The strategic pact would include a variety of elements like the training of the Afghan security forces and the police, while also catering to the increased energy requirements by Mr Karzai’s country. Moreover the government in New Delhi is deeply concerned over the violence and extremism which might threaten South Asian regional security. In the last few years India has been one of the largest donors to the Afghanistan government. Till date they have invested some $2 billion in the nation’s infrastructure. The Indian prime minister said that he looked forward to closer ties with the Afghan nation and would stand by it once the NATO and U.S led forces left the country in 2014.
< class="text11verdana">Source: BBC, October 4, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Senior Haqqani leader killed

A precision air strike carried out by the international security assistance force (ISAF) led to the death of a senior Haqqani leader and two of his associates. The air strike was conducted in the southwest Khost province, the dead leader was identified as Dilawar who was a principle subordinate of Haji Mali Khan. Haji Mail khan was captured last week by the NATO led ground forces.

It was understood that Dilawar operated along the Afghan - Pakistan border between the provinces of Khost and Paktiya. Dilawar planned various operations in the region, last month’s ambush of afghan forces was suspected to be his brain child, while he also facilitated the delivery of weapons across the borders. ISAF is of the opinion that Dilawar’s death would significantly hamper Taliban operations in the region.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Outlook Afghanistan, October 6, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Peace process hits roadblock

In the latest setback towards peace in the region the Afghan Government has refused to deliberate any further on the three way peace bid. They have cancelled the meeting that was to take place on October 8 in Kabul between the American, Afghan and Pakistani Governments, to discuss ways to induce the insurgents towards the negotiation tables. Moreover the Afghan government has dropped plans to invite the prime minister of Pakistan to Kabul for the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace in Afghanistan.

The Afghan Government is of the belief that they would not like to go through Pakistan in any future peace talks with the Taliban and would like to engage with the Taliban directly. This latest course of action on the part of the Afghan government was expected as Pakistan is suspected of having a hand in Dr Rabbani’s killing. Further, senior Afghan officials also suspect Pakistan of trying to jeopardise Taliban and Afghan Government’s peace bids. This recent stance is feared to complicate the regional dialogue which would add to the delay of western withdrawals by late 2014.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Associated Press, October 2, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Protests against NATO presence

To mark the 10th anniversary of US and NATO military forces in Afghanistan, a demonstration followed by a protest was organized by an Afghan political party, in which up to 300 Afghans participated in Kabul. The protesters accused the US and their NATO allies of killing innocent people and urged them to leave Afghanistan. The protesters also condemned their president Hamid Karzai of being an American puppet.

On the other hand the western security forces have already started moving towards relinquishing responsibilities to afghan security forces in a bid to keep to the 2014 withdraw timeline. The initial first round of security transition has been completed while Afghan and NATO officials have met to streamline the second phase of the transition. All this amidst increasing wave of insurgency as the Taliban launched their summer offensive targeting Afghan and NATO forces.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Khaam, October 6, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">ICT indicts Sayedee for war crimes

Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Maulana Delawar Hossain Sayedee was indicted by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), for his alleged involvement in crimes against humanity during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Sayedee, now 71, was charged with crimes against humanity, including genocide, rape, arson attacks, looting, and forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam during the 1971 war, this in collaboration with the Pakistani forces. Sayedee pleaded not guilty to the 20 odd charges brought against him and sought justice. He alleged that he had been victimized by the Awami League alliance Government implicating him in the war crimes case. The 3-member tribunal headed by Justice M Nizamul Huq has set October 30 as the day for commencing the trial.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 4, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Reshuffle at the top

The top bureaucracy got a shake up with two new appointments .Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan has been appointed as the new Cabinet Secretary and Shaikh Md Wahid Uz Zaman as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr Bhuiyan a 1981 Bangladesh Civil Service recruit, is the most senior in his batch and has served as chairman of Petrobangla. He was previously posted as Secretary in the Economic Relations Division. Mr Zaman, who was earlier the Water Resources Secretary, is a 1979 batch officer and will work with the current team of civil servants led by secretary of the PMO secretariat Mollah Wahiduzzaman.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 2, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Foreign aid set to increase

US Charge D’ Affaires Nicholas Dean and USAID Mission Director to Bangladesh Richard Greene announced that the US Government will provide over $ 180 million in development assistance to Bangladesh in 2011 through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an increase of over $ 20 million from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to loan $ 55 million to the Bangladesh government to implement a poverty alleviation programme in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. This will help fund rural access roads and markets, improve small-scale water resources and watershed management, build community infrastructure, and promote small agri-business opportunities to increase incomes for communities there.

The World Bank too approved $172 million credit to Bangladesh to support installation of an additional 630,000 solar home systems and other renewable energy mini-grid schemes. The $ 172 million credit is an additional financing to the ongoing Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development Project (RERED).
< class="text11verdana">Source: 3 October, 2011, 6 October, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese pipeline work delayed

Work at the State-owned Power Development Boards (PDB) 150 MW Chandpur power plant is likely to be delayed because of failure in the timely construction of a planned gas pipeline.The Bakhrabad Gas Systems Limited, (BGSL) was required to complete construction of the proposed 48 km dedicated gas pipeline for the power plant. The contract for the construction of the power plant was awarded to a Chinese contractor named China Chengda Engineering Co. Ltd. in February this year.

The gas pipeline construction delay has forced the PDB to think of alternatively receiving the gas supply from a distribution line instead. As per the contract the plant installation work is scheduled to be completed within 24 months and commercial operations likely to begin by February 2012.
< class="text11verdana">Source: October 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Remote areas get mobile connectivity

Lunana, the last and most remote region of Bhutan was connected by B- mobile’s cellular network. In the last project of B- Mobile, 15 tonnes of mobile telephony was transported by a chopper in 35 trips. It is estimated as the most expensive project undertaken with a cost of Nu. 25 million and according to B-Mobile officials it was carried out as part of a social responsibility mandate of the corporation.

The next most expensive project is Laya at Nu 15M. Previously, Bhutan was covered by satellite phone system which was expensive to use. B-Mobile officials said the work was carried out as part of social responsibility mandate of the corporation.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 7, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Buddha relics travel to Thimpu

Saturday witnessed the transportation of Buddhist relics from the Bhutan house in Kolkata to Thimpu with the prime minister of Bhutan. The relics rest at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, India, but will temporarily be residing in Bhutan for a month.

The relics comprise of those of Lord Buddha along with those of his two principle disciples Sariputta and Moggallann. The reason for the transfer is to display before the multitudes of Buddhists in the Himalayan kingdom, and would be considered auspicious for the marriage of the fifth king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk, on the 13th of October.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, October 1, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Agreement with Afghanistan

India and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership in Delhi Tuesday; just a few days after Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office accused a Pakistani citizen of carrying out a suicide attack against former president and peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani last month.

The partnership, which was signed after Mr. Karzai met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, involves India training Afghan security forces. This takes ties between Delhi and Kabul to a new level, beyond the economic reconstruction that India has been very careful to focus on in the last decade since the Americans returned to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. It is the first such agreement Afghanistan has with any country, including the U.S.

"The people of Afghanistan have suffered enough. They deserve to live in peace and decide their future themselves, without outside interference, coercion and intimidation," Mr. Singh told the media Tuesday evening.Mr. Karzai said he hoped South Asia would, one day, be able to live in peace where "radicalism is not used as an instrument of state policy."

The partnership agreement specifically calls for India "to assist, as mutually determined, in the training, equipping and capacity-building programmes for Afghan national security forces," representing a significant scaling up of India’s intention to enhance its presence in Afghanistan.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Wants UN to adopt anti-terror convention

India on Wednesday said adoption of the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism would provide a legal base for the fight against the global scourge, noting that United Nations’ global counter-terror strategy would be incomplete without such a convention. In an address to the ongoing 66th session of the UN General Assembly, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman K Rahman Khan termed terrorism as a "scourge of humanity" and a global problem that has spared no country or region in the world be it "New York, London, Abuja or Mumbai."

"India believes that adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) would provide a solid legal basis for the fight against terrorism. In our view the UN global counter-terrorism strategy is incomplete in the absence of such a comprehensive convention," Khan said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, October 5, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">World’s cheapest tablet computer

Apple’s iPad at $499, Amacon’s Kindle Fire at $199 and the HP Touchpad at $99. How about a tablet computer for $35 with hope of an eventual $10 price tag? India on Wednesday unveiled the Aakash, which means "sky" in Hindi, and billed it as the world’s least-expensive tablet. The plan is to distribute thousands of the computers in coming months to students at a Government-subsidised rate of $35.

It has taken several years to develop, faced a lot of skepticism and received help from taxpayers given the state’s actual cost of around $50.But the Aakash offers the promise of computing to millions of people in rural India who seem to be living more in the 19th century than the 21st.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 5, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Talks for trade pact with GCC

India is in talks with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to conclude a free trade agreement and a framework agreement for the FTA has already been signed, a leading Indian banker in the region has said.In a note, Doha Bank Group CEO R Seetharaman said bilateral trade between India and GCC countries exceeded $ 80 billion in the nine months up to December 2010.

According to him, the GCC countries - Oman, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - have identified various sectors, such as petroleum oil and energy, gas and fertilisers, information technology, higher education, civil aviation and agriculture, for potential cooperation with India.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, October 5, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Increased education ties with US

India-US cooperation in the field of education is poised for major expansion, Indian envoy to the US said ahead of the next week’s major summit between the two countries on the issue.

"India-US cooperation in the field of education is today poised for major expansion," Nirupama Rao, Indian Ambassador to the US said while addressing at the Yale University on "Future Direction in India-US relations".

"We in India see education as critical for achieving its goals to have inclusive growth and to realise the potential for taking the Indian economy to even higher growth trajectory," she said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, October 5, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Forex reserves slump by $ 4.05 billion

India’s foreign exchange (forex) reserves slumped by $4.05 billion to $312.70 billion for the week ended Sep 23, due to a sharp drop in the value of foreign currency assets, official data showed. The country’s foreign exchange reserves kitty has declined by $8.08 billion in the last three weeks after rising to an all time high of $ 320.78 billion for the week ended September 2.

The forex reserve kitty had risen by $ 266 million for the week ended September 16 after declining by $ 4.29 billion in the previous week. Thus the forex reserves have registered a fall of $ 8.08 billion in the last three weeks under review.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Hindustan Times, October 2, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Deal with Iran on payments

In a significant development indicating a breakthrough in resolving the India-Iran payment crisis for import of oil as well as exports, both countries have agreed to set up a payment mechanism to facilitate bilateral trade.

According to the Finance Ministry, both sides agreed on the mechanism to be put in place for the purpose, including for the payment to Indian exporters and project exporters. Although the statement did not indicate but this would also include payments made by India for buying Iranian crude oil. The issue of payment for oil had been hanging in fire for the last nine months with the Indian side grappling for a solution on the issue.

The agreement follows a meeting between Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) Secretary R. Gopalan with Iranian delegation led by Vice-Governor of Central Bank of Iran Seyed Kamal Seyed Ali. The Finance Ministry statement said both sides agreed to continue their engagement in the matter.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, October 7, 2011 .

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan: Haripal Brar;
Bangladesh: Astik Sinha;
Bhutan and Pakistan: Aarya Venugopal & Astik Sinha;
India: Satish Misra;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
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.


N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy is a policy analyst and commentator based in Chennai.

Read More +