MonitorsPublished on Jul 01, 2011
After privatisation, the 'managed float of rufiyaa against the dollar, and other aspects of governance under President Mohammed Nasheed, the Opposition has begun identifying the ills of 'western ways of governance' to individual sectors, and thus drive home their arguments against the Government, even more.
Maldives: 'Western ways of governance' takes the flak
< class="heading1">Analysis

After privatisation, the ’managed float of rufiyaa against the dollar, and other aspects of governance under President Mohammed Nasheed, the Opposition has begun identifying the ills of ’western ways of governance’ to individual sectors, and thus drive home their arguments against the Government, even more. A divided Opposition is however unable to achieve much, given the continuing popularity of President Nasheed, though his detractors are reopening the question of finding a common candidate against him when he seeks re-election in 2013.

In the aftermath of four dengue deaths, ’corporatisation of the health services’ is the latest one to draw flak. People’s Alliance founder and presidential aspirant Abdulla Yameen has charged the Government with naiveté, negligence and irresponsibility as the causes for the epidemic. Half-brother of former President Maumoon Gayoom and one-time Finance Minister under him, Yameen also derisively referred to the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) organising football matches to celebrate its anniversary when the common man was facing the dengue-threat.

As Yameen claimed, Maldives has had a robust education and healthcare schemes under the Government. He pointed out how the country had been acknowledged as ’MDG-Plus’ having met most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), set by the UN. The spread-out nature of the islands/islets forming the Maldivian archipelago made reaching out public utilities and services more difficult and uneconomical for the nation. Yet the Government was able to ensure a even spread of school-level education and basic health-care, in a graded way, going by the size and population of individual islands and groups.

More than what Yammen and the rest of the Opposition may have to say, the small size of the population, and the consequent size of the population requiring high-cost, super-speciality medical care would have made corporatisation in the sector unattractive to private entrepreneurs in the field. At the low-end too, privatisation does not pay. Most doctors, nurses, para-medics and qualified technicians are immigrants, many of them from India, and the salaries and import bills for medicines, equipment, including X-ray machines, are a costly affair.

Corporatisation of public utilities like power-supply and drinking water too has taken the flak, all owing to the high cost of production in relatively isolated islands with low population figures ? and the consequent low margins. While the initial reactions are mixed, it remains to be seen how workable corporatisation, as different from privatisation, has been. If nothing else, it has helped in reducing the number of ’Government employees’ and ease the pressure on the national budget under the heads of Salary and Establishment expenses. In a way, it has also helped the Government to ease the pressure from the independent and constitutionally-mandated Civil Services Commission (CSC), seen at times as putting a spoke in the wheel of efficient governance.

What however has come to be criticised in a big way is the more recent attempt of the Government for a ’managed float’ of the local currency, under IMF conditions for extending credit to the nation. The rufiyaa used to trade at a fixed 12.85 to the US dollar, the international currency, when the float, otherwise acknowledged as devaluation, hiked the price to 15.20 rufiyaa. The thriving black market in dollar accordingly hiked the dollar rate from less than 14 rufiyaa to 17, as at present.

Coupled with this is the non-availability of dollar in the market, as the Government has simultaneously introduced the much-needed reform, for full rufiyaa usage for local transactions, and more importantly, the mandatory use of the nation’s banking system for all foreign exchange transactions. A flawed policy, the earlier one allowed foreign investors (mostly in the resorts business) to bring in dollars, earn in dollars, and repatriate it all in dollars. Justified at a time when the erstwhile Gayoom dispensation needed to attract foreign investors to the only sector that had hopes of providing employment to the locals, the industry rules have remained unaltered, since.

Coupled with the simultaneous decision introduce income-tax for the first time in the country above a monthly earning of 30,000 rufiyaa and increasing the per-bed-tax for resorts, among others, the slew of economic reforms introduced by the Nashed Government has pushed up prices for a nation dependent heavily on imports to meet its basic needs in every-day living and those of every sector of the economy. The decision to allow the GMR Group of India to increase the entry tax at Male International Airport to $ 25, even for Maldivians returning from overseas travel, from 2012 has the potential for trouble. Among Maldivian travelling overseas, there is a high number of students and those requiring medical treatment.

It is in this background of ’minimum government’ as understood in the West that the Nasheed leadership’s initiatives such as old-age pension, inter-island ferry service are all reportedly beginning to lose some of its sheen. While old-age pension is substantial and a boon to beneficiary families, the numbers covered are fewer than believed, and so the impact also is low. So is the case with the ferry services, whose benefit cannot be quantified, yet whose limited use as a vote-getter, cannot be over-looked either. These are all ’feel-good factors’ after a point, and would suffer no ’negative initiatives’ of the Government, like price-rise and salary-cuts, as perceived by the population.

President Nasheed is facing re-election in 1913. Indications are that he would have a smooth sail in obtaining the MDP’s nomination. The choice of his running-mate might pose some difficulties, as a value-addition might still be required. The Opposition went overboard as early as 2010 to nominate the newly-elected DRP Leader Thasmeen Ali as its presidential candidate. Today, it is all in jeopardy with the DRP, founded by Gayoom, who continues to be its Honorary Leader, having suffered a vertical split. Thasmeen has since challenged Gayoom’s role in his election.

Feeble attempts at bringing together the two factions have not helped, and individual partners in the Opposition combine have their own agendas, even as they wait for the DRP to sort out its internal mess. Gayoom’s continued hold over a section of the traditional DRP voters, and the candidacy of half-brother Yameen for the presidential polls of 2013 would be among the issues that not only the DRP but also the entire Opposition would have to address if they hope to give a strong contest to the incumbent.

If nothing else, the unending internal feud in the DRP has demoralised the Opposition enough, for inclined members hinting at it as the cause for crossing over to the MDP camp, both inside and outside Parliament, in the past months. The MDP, which faced what it had once described as the ’scotched earth’ policy of the Opposition is Parliament, is relatively comfortable with these defections, but the larger population, particularly the moralistic sections sympathising with the Nasheed leadership, is yet to vote on the party’s approach in the matter.

In a way, it is the confusion in the Opposition that has given greater strength to the ruling MDP than otherwise. This is independent of the substantial improvement in the party’s vote-share in the March local council polls, this year. That was before the devaluation and the consequent rise in prices. The Government is hopeful of mopping up enough dollars in six months, when it hopes the situation would stabilise. How such stabilisation, if achieved, could impact on the prices is the question ? and on that will depend the continued popularity of President Nasheed, who at the moment does not have much to lose his sleep about.

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">DRP considers forming coalition with JP

The main Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has said that DRP considers forming a coalition with the opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) to win the majority in the People’sMajlis if the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) does not settle the spats regarding the control of parliamentary committees. DRP spokespersonAli Solih said that if DRP formed a coalition with JP, it would have a majority in Parliament.

Thasmeen Ali has also indicated that he was not hesitant to compete with People’s Alliance leader and former President Maumoon Gayoom’s half-brother, Abdulla Yameen, for the party’s presidential nominee to contest the 2013 polls.

Commenting on the allegations that he was procrastinating the passing of the bill on political parties because if enacted he will have to hold a primary for confirming his nomination, Thasmeen Ali told a TV interview if the Bill was passed he is ready to compete in a primary.

Thasmeen Ali also said that the party leadership was not something that Gayoom as the Honorary Leader, had given him on a platter. He had won election held among the four elected Deputy Leaders of the party at the first National Congress of DRP without any help from Gayyoom. Likewise, he was named the vice-presidential running-mate of Gayoom for the 2008 presidential polls, with the majority of the party’s council voting in favour of him, Thasmeen recalled.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, 01 July 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Adhaalath for execution of mothers who abort

The fundamentalist Adhaalath Party has issued a statement calling on the State to implement Islamic Sharia and execute mothers who abort their children. The penalty for taking the life of another without any purpose is death (according to Islamic Shariat), the party, which is an alliance partner of the ruling, liberal Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), said in its statement.

The party claimed abortion was an issue that should concern all Maldivians, who should be "very afraid" given the "rising popularity of fornication." The party added that an Adhaalath delegation had met with senior officials of the Health Ministry to try and find a permanent solution for illegal prostitution conducted inside massage parlours and medical centres. The health ministry officials noted that powerful figures were running these businesses and that the ministry faced many challenges in combating the issue,’’ the statement said.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, 30 June 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">OCI card for Maldivians of Indian origin

Dyaneshwar M. Mulay, High Commissioner of India, handed over the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Card to Mumthaz Syed Ahmed and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) Card to her husband Hassan Maniku, Managing Director, Alcyon Bakery, at a function in Male.

Mumthaz was an Indian citizen and married Maniku for the last two decades. The High Commissioner congratulated the couple for becoming the bridge of friendship between the two Countries. The High Commissioner urged the eligible Maldivian nationals to avail this facility as that would provide them long-term visa (15 years to life time) to India.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, 28 June 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">House ratifies two UN conventions

The Parliament has ratified the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, 1999, and the International Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bharatmohan Adhikari tabled the bills for ratification and the House subsequently endorsed them by a majority.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, June 24, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Baidya-Bhattarai alliance against Prachanda

In a show of strength within the Maoist parliamentary party, the factions led by Senior Vice-Chairman Mohan Baidya and Vice-Chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai have submitted a memorandum to the party central committee (CC) demanding implantation of the earlier decision to send 33 percent women into the Government and other organs of the government.

According to party leaders, the memorandum, with the signatures of 156 lawmakers, is meant to show Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda, that he was in a minority in the PP with just 78 law-makers.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, June 24, 2011

Notes: The Baidya and Bhattarai factions, representing the hard-liner and moderate factions in UCPN (Maoists) respectively, now seem to be coming closer to each other, thereby leaving party leader Prachanda in a minority. The Baidya-Bhattarai factions could not see eye to eye till recently with speculations in media of Prachanda-Bhattarai affinity till last week.

Just a day after the UCPN (Maoist) held a CC meeting to resolve internal disputes, the establishment faction (Prachanda faction) organized mass meetings on June 25 and castigated Baidya and Bhattarai. Prachanda supporters said that the alliance of the Baidya and Bhattarai factions was "not political" and would prove "fatal" for both of the leaders.

The two factions led by Baidya and Bhattarai are also engaging in secret talks and seem teaming up against Prachanda with a plan to remove the latter as the parliamentary party (PP) leader. The two camps could be working closely to replace Prachanda with Bhattarai as the PP leader so as to end Prachanda’s monopoly in the party. The two factions are also planning to remove Deputy PP leader Narayankaji Shrestha from the post. < class="heading12boldGeorgia">Prachanda rules out National Govt

Maoist Chairman Puspha Kamal Dahal ’Prachanda’ has stated that there was no possibility of forming a national consensus government as the Nepali Congress (NC) is against joining such a government and is instead conspiring to dissolve the Constituent Assembly (CA).

"The NC is in favour of direct rule by President, who is from that party, after dissolving the CA and imposing a state of emergency," a CC member quoted Dahal as saying during his briefing to the party Central Committee.

Under such circumstances, Dahal argued, the party should lead the government with the backing of the UML as per the seven-point deal reached with Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, June 25, 2011

Notes: Dahal has held the view that Khanal would pass the baton to the Maoists after completing his six-month tenure in July-August, and that would give his party an upper hand even if the CA is dissolved. He has argued that the party should give continuity to the current government as there is almost no chance of forming a consensus government.

On the issue of integration and rehabilitation of PLA combatants, Dahal has argued that the NC has taken a step backwards and gone against integration, following the recent gathering of NC district presidents. NC has said that it cannot accept more than 5,000 PLA men for integration.

On the issue of constitution-writing, Prachanda has stated that the pro-parliament parties have not shown any interest, and has defended himself against allegations from the party’s hardline faction that he is making compromises on the fundamental principles of the party. < class="heading12boldGeorgia">Beijing wants curbs on anti-China activities

China has renewed its call on Nepal to curb ’anti-China’ activities by Tibetan exiles on Nepali soil. During a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara on June 27, newly-appointed Chinese envoy to Nepal, Yang Houlan, expressed worries that Tibetan exiles in Nepal could resort to ’anti-China’ protests during the upcoming anniversary celebrations of Chinese Communist Party (CCP). China is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the CCP on July 1.

According to Home Ministry spokesperson Sudhir Shah, the envoy also expressed readiness to expand areas of cooperation with the Home Ministry. The envoy said China could extend logistical support and capacity enhancement training to security agencies if Nepal wanted. Minister Mahara also accepted the invitation extended by the envoy for China visit.
< class="text11verdana">Source:, June 27, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China to invest 51 pc in hydro-project

The China National Machinery Import and Export Company, a Chinese government venture, has agreed to invest 51 percent share in West Seti Hydropower Project in Nepal. Himalaya Pandey, chairman of West Seti Hydro-project, said that he signed an agreement to this effect with chairman of the Chinese company Jia Zhiquane last week.

Following the assurance of investment, the government has directed Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) through energy ministry to extend the license period of the project by one year. The license of West Seti Hydropower Project was going to expire on December 31.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Financial Express, June 26, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MQM severs alliance with PPP

The Sindh-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) severed its alliance with the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and announced that it will henceforth join the Opposition in the National Assembly, the Senate as well as the Provincial Assembly in Karachi.

Senior MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar also stated that party loyalist and Sindh Governor for the past eight years, Dr Ishratul Ibad Khan, had resigned from office and flown to London to receive directions from party chief Altaf Hussain. Further, federal and provincial Ministers belonging to the MQM have also sent their resignations.

The latest split occurred over last week’s Pakistan-administered Kashmir elections. According to the MQM, PPP leaders had asked them to withdraw their candidate for one seat in Karachi which was reserved for Kashmiri migrants, in order to field its own candidate. The MQM, which dominates politics in Karachi, refused to accede to the demand, and blames its erstwhile ally of postponing the elections on the eve of polling day on the pretext of security concerns. Sattar added, "If the PPP uses all dictatorial steps for the sake of one seat in Karachi, it is not difficult to foresee its attitude in the next general election.’ It also termed the local elections as ’unconstitutional’ and has filed a petition in the Sindh High Court against the Government’s interference.

In terms of numbers in both the federal and the Provincial Assembly, MQM’s exit for the coalition cannot be termed as a crisis for the incumbent government. The PPP enjoys the support from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid as well as the Pashtun Awami National Party in the National Assembly. In Sindh, on the other hand, the PPP enjoys a simple majority with 93 seats in the 168-member house.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Express Tribune, June 27, 2011; Dawn, June 28, 2011

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian Navy to buy Lankan boats

As part of the exercise to strengthen coastal security post-26/11 Mumbai attacks, the Indian Navy has decided to procure 80 interception boats at a cost of Rs 300 crores from a Sri Lanka-based ship manufacturer, The Times of India, has reported. The boats are planned to be used by the newly-formed Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) and other wings of the Navy, naval officials said. The contract process for 80 Fast Interception Craft (FIC) from Sri Lanka-based SOLAS Marine is in its final stages and the deal is expected to be finalised soon, they said.

The Indian Navy had last year placed an order worth around Rs 60 crores for 15 such boats with a French shipyard Chantier Naval Couach. The first three boats of the lot were inducted a week back for operational service at Mumbai, they said. Delivery of the first 15 FICs is expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and the next 80 would be inducted in coming 36 months, they said.

The boats, with speeds between 45-50 miles per hour, would be mainly deployed for coastal security duties and would be used for engaging any suspicious vessel or activity in these areas, they said. With four or five crew members and capability to patrol far-off areas, the boats would also be deployed to provide protection to vital assets and installations along the coastal areas.

Post 26/11 attacks, the Navy was given the responsibility to look after coastal security along with the Coast Guard and the local authorities. After the Mumbai attacks, in which 166 people were killed by terrorists from Pakistan who landed on the shores of the megapolis, the Indian Government had announced a slew of measures for plugging gaps in maritime security including creation of a 1,000-personnel-strong Sagar Prahari Bal.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror, Colombo, July 01, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Army-level talks with India

India and Sri Lanka began their first Army-to-Army staff talks in New Delhi on Wednesday to bolster bilateral military cooperation with joint exercises and training programmes.

The three-day talks, led by Sri Lankan Military Secretary, Maj-Gen HCP Goonetilleke and Indian Army’s Additional Director-General (International Operations), Maj-Gen I P Singh, will chalk out the programmes to be undertaken by the two armies over the next one year.

"Such interactions will result in a more robust and pragmatic defence cooperation," said an official. India over the last several years has trained thousands of Sri Lankan personnel at its military institutions ranging from Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School at Vairengte (Mizoram) to School of Artillery at Devlali (Maharashtra), apart from providing specialized naval courses in gunnery, navigation, communication and anti-submarine warfare.

The importance of the talks can be gauged from the fact that India has similar staff talks with only nine other countries, namely US, UK, Israel, France, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Singapore, The Times of India reported.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, June 30, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US, UN body warnings on HR violations, ’war crimes’ probes

If Sri Lankans themselves do not conduct a ’full, credible, and independent investigation of alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and accountability for such violations, the international community will examine other options’ to bring Sri Lanka to face accountability, the US State Department has said.

Following is the complete text of the question and answer the Office of the Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department issued on Tuesday:

"As we have stated before, the US supports a full, credible, and independent investigation of alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and accountability for such violations? We continue to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to quickly demonstrate that it is able and willing to meet these obligations as it seeks reconciliation," the office of the State Department’s official spokesman said in a statement that has been given a prominent display in its official website.

In a separate statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, warned Sri Lanka not to take too long in probing war crimes allegations, saying failure to carry out a credible inquiry could lead to international action."There is now a high level of expectations expressed by member states that should seriously inquire into these allegations" of prisoner executions and assaults, she said further.

"But this should not be an open-ended process," she stressed, noting that a previous Sri Lankan internal inquiry "failed to complete its task, never published its report and never led to a single prosecution?"If that should be the case again, there is an intention for the international community to take further action. I certainly believe that the Human Rights Council should actively consider this matter," she said further.

In Colombo, the Sri Lankan Defence Ministry release to the media the unaltered video used to create the BBC Channel-4 documentary on Sri Lanka,The video which was obtained from England was shown on a private media station this evening.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Armed groups operating in East

The Army’s Eastern Province Chief has said steps would be taken soon to disarm armed elements which are hiding behind political parties in the Eastern Province. Addressing a meeting between General Managers and Political party representatives of the eastern province in the aftermath of the recent Batticaloa bank robbery, eastern Commander Maj-Gen Boniface Perera said there had been an increase in killings and robberies in Batticaloa over the past one and half years and that and the recent robbery was of a serious nature.

He said the culprits behind the robbery would be apprehended and advised these armed groups to surrender their weapons to the police or search operations would be carried out to curb this menace. He stressed that only armed forces personnel had the authority to carry arms.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online, July 01, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US expedites troop exit

US President Barack Obama has announced a significant withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beginning this year. According to the latest statement, 10,000 US troops will leave the country in 2011, followed by another 23,000 by the end of next year. This way, the US will retain 68,000 soldiers after 2012. French President Nicolas Sarkozy too announced a similar withdrawal 4,000 French soldiers. The Taliban, on the other hand, termed the decision as ’symbolic’ and insisted that the insurgency will continue until all foreign forces exit the country.

President Obama’s policy decision is contrary to the views of military commanders such as Gen David Petraeus and Adm Mike Mullen, who had stressed on reducing no more than 5000 troops in 2011, and another 5000 during the next winter season. According to their assessment, which is endorsed by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, gains made through military operations during the past two years are fragile and ’reversible’. Further, many regions remain contested despite the presence of foreign troops. In such an environment, the Pentagon has termed Obama’s decision ’more aggressive’ than advised, a diplomatic euphemism for politically motivated and opportunistic.

The recent hurried announcement, taken against the opinion of field commanders, can be explained by the pressures of public opinion. By withdrawing 33,000 troops by the time he goes into next elections, Obama can claim to have kept his promise of bringing back the ’surge troops’ back home. This, along with the killing of Osama bin Laden in May this year, will further bolster his credentials to his domestic constituency.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The New York Times, June 22, 2011; BBC News, June 23


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Statute change abolishes ’Caretaker Govt’ scheme

In a major constitutional amendment, Parliament on June 30 abolished the caretaker government system. Following this amendment, the general elections will now take place under elected partisan governments.

The present changes have been severely criticized by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led opposition. Protesting against the abolition of the caretaker government BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia said that political confrontation has become inevitable after parliament rescinded the constitutional provision that general elections are overseen by non-partisan caretaker government. Khelada Zia said that all the possibilities of holding free, fair, neutral and competitive elections are now gone. BNP, its allies Jamaat-e-Islami and BJP, which have 38 seats in the 345-member Parliament and they did not participate in voting in the Parliament. Khaleda Zia, in fact, threatened to launch a protest movement.

The amendment has retained Islam’s status as the State religion and also the Arabic phrase "Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim" with its translation "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful/ In the name of the Creator, the Merciful." Also, the amendment has allowed religion-based political parties to continue, after they were banned last year following the cancellation of the Fifth Amendment. The present amendment which is 15th one also imposed a ban on amending the Constitution’s Preamble, the ’basic structure’.

Another significant change was the new amendment restored secularism as one of the four fundamental principles of the state which was omitted by a martial law regime that took over power in 1975. It also restored ’Bangalee nationalism’, while citizenship was maintained as Bangladeshi.

Interestingly, the religion-based political parties have expressed their objection to the 15th Amendment. Some 12 political parties including Islami Andolon Bangladesh (IAB), Bangladesh Khelafat Andolon, Sammilito Olama Mashayekh Parishad, National Democratic Party, Islami Oikya Andolon, Bangladesh Muslim League, Bangladesh National Awami Party-Bangladesh NAP, NAP Bhasani, Jatiya Ganatantrik Party, Islamic Party and Nezame Islami Party, declaring a two-day street-protest from July 10, to host 2 day street protest beginning from July 10, against the restoration of secularism and socialism as among the basic principles of the Constitution. The indigenous groups also rejected amendment as they claimed that their identity lost and basic rights denied following restoration of Bangalee nationalism in the constitution.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, July 1, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Legitimising black money

In a major move to legalise the undisclosed money the government declared to allow undisclosed money to be invested in stock market with a 10 percent tax.

With this incentive in place, the Government is hopeful that it will be able to control the huge informal economy in the country, which is estimated to be around 42 percent, 62 percent or 82 percent of the GDP.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, June 29, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese tanks for Army

For the first time in the country’s history, the Army is all set to get 44 new tanks and three armoured recovery vehicles (ARV). The Main Battle Tanks (MBT-2000) and the ARVs will be purchased from China.

The deal is likely to cost around Tk 1,201 crore. Besides, a process is on to buy 18 brand new cannons. The purchase is being done as a part of modernisation of the Bangladesh Army.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, June 27, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ex-Minister, ULFA leader charge-sheeted in arms haul case

Charges have been pressed against 11 suspects, including former State Minister for Home, Lutfozzaman Babar and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami in the ’Chittagong arms haul case’.

In all, 10 truck-loads of arms were seized in Chittagong in 2004. The arms were produced in Chinese factory Norinco which were smuggled in the country was destined to be transported to India for insurgent group United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa).

Other important persons charge sheeted in the case were ULFA leader Paresh Barua from India, former Director-General of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Brig Gen (retd) Abdur Rahim, the then Director of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) Maj Gen (retd) Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, June 27, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Officials violated training rules

An audit carried out by the Royal Audit Authority for 2008-09 found that several civil servants had violated training rules in varying degrees. The Royal Civil Service Commission has taken administrative action against 27 civil servants based on the irregularities found. For instance, some were reprimanded while, for some, promotions and future trainings have been withheld.

"In more serious cases, they’re being asked to refund the training costs as per the Bhutan civil service rules," Commissioner Sangay Dorji said.
< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel Online, June 30, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Ranjan Mathai is new Foreign Secretary

Ambassador to France Ranjan Mathai has been appointed as the new Foreign Secretary. He will replace Nirupama Rao, who retires by July-end and is being posted as Ambassador to the U.S.

A 1974 batch officer of the Indian Foreign Service, Ranjan Mathai has served in Europe, the U.S. and the Middle East, and has also handled Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives (BSM Desk) at the MEA.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, June 28, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US for ’clean waiver’ at NSG

Outgoing US Ambassador to India, Timothy Roemer, said that Washington "strongly and vehemently" supports the Nuclear Supplier Group’s (NSG) clean waiver for India and hoped that the civil nuclear deal between the two countries continues to move in a positive direction.

"I want to say that the US and the Obama Administration strongly and vehemently support the clean waiver for India. The 123 civil nuclear legislation also underscores our support for India in this debate that is going on and our law also points to the clean waiver for India," he said.

The announcement came in the wake of the decision taken by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to push for more stringent norms that govern technology transfer for reprocessing technology.
< class="text11verdana">Source: PTI, June 30, 2011.

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Implement sanctions on Iran

India has called for the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran without harming its legitimate economic activities.

Hardeep Singh Puri, the Indian Ambassador, underlined the need to resolve the row over Iran’s nuclear programme peacefully.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, June 25, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC criticises land acquisition policy

The Supreme Court criticised the Uttar Pradesh Government for acquiring prime agricultural land to build luxury flats in Greater Noida. The apex court expressed its annoyance over the invocation of the urgency clause for taking over the land.

The court expressed concern to avoid a situation similar to Nandigaram in West Bengal, where such steps to acquire land had led to large scale protests and violence.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, June 28, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Protest over petrol price

The Opposition parties protested against the hike in prices of kerosene, diesel and cooking gas. The parties alleged that the Congress-led UPA had betrayed the very people in whose name it came to power, i.e. the ’common man’.

Demonstrations and protests spread all over the country, including in Orissa, Lucknow, Noida, Jammu and Srinagar, among other places.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj pointed out that the Government had hiked the prices of petroleum products for the tenth time since it came to power. "The victims are housewives, farmers and the poorest of the poor", she remarked.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, June 25, 2011

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Exports jump 56.9 pc

India’s exports grew by 56.9 per cent year-on-year to $ 25.9 billion in May due to a rise in demand from Western markets like the U.S. and Europe. Imports also surged by 54.08 per cent to $ 40.9 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $ 14.9 billion, as per official data released by the Commerce Ministry.
< class="text11verdana">Source: The Economic Times, July 01, 2011.

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:

Afghanistan & Pakistan: Kaustav Dhar Chakraborti;
Bhutan: Sidharth Raimedhi;
India: Akhilesh Variar;
Nepal: Akanshya Shah;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N SathiyaMoorthy;

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