MonitorsPublished on Nov 07, 2014
The rise of Narendra Modi from the Gujarat chief ministerial chair to that of the prime minister of the world's largest democracy within a short period of 18 months as a phenomenon is being studied, analysed and written about across the world but there is more to come.
PM Modi's control over party and government grows
< class="heading1">Analysis

The rise of Narendra Modi from the Gujarat chief ministerial chair to that of the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy within a short period of 18 months as a phenomenon is being studied, analysed and written about across the world but there is more to come.

After ensuring his party’s victory first in the general elections and then in the last month’s assembly elections in Haryana and Maharashtra, the BJP is now looking to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeat his performance in the coming assembly elections in Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir beginning this month and in Delhi in the first quarter next year.

The BJP, which was till the emergence of Modi as the top most leader of the party after the Lok Sabha polls a strong votary of the collective leadership, is increasingly becoming dependent upon the Prime Minister to mobilise the electorate in its favour.

This was amply evident in the two assembly elections in states of Haryana and Maharashtra where the party chose not to project a chief ministerial candidate and the strategy paid rich dividends as the BJP won both the states convincingly.

Edge over rivals

With Modi becoming the unchallenged leader of the BJP, his wish has become a command now for other prominent leaders in the party. He has succeeded in uniting the party by suppressing different factional leaders in the party as dissent has no place in the Prime Minister’s style of governance and man management.

The five-phase assembly elections in Jharkhand and J&K, beginning on November 25 and ending on December 20 with results on December 23, are going to be another test of the Prime Minister’s popularity, charisma and credibility.

The BJP, from all accounts and calculations, enjoys an edge over its political rivals in both Jharkhand as well as in J&K. It does not have a baggage from its past in J&K and in Jharkhand it has not been in power since 18 January 2013 though it has ruled the state for little over 8 years in 14 years existence of the state.

The BJP has never been part of the ruling establishment in J&K. Its main rivals in J&K, namely the National Conference (NC), the Congress and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), have ruled the state either on their own strength or in coalition arrangements. When the last elections were held in 2008, the NC won 28 seats, emerging as the single largest party. It formed a coalition government with the Congress under young Chief Minister Omar Abdullah whose family has been in power directly or indirectly for over four decades.

The Congress had won 17 seats while the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had 21 seats in a house of 87. The PDP, formed by former Home Minister in the VP Singh government Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 1999, had formed the government after the 2002 elections with the help of the Congress.

The BJP has a strength of 11 MLAs in the outgoing assembly while it had won only just one seat in 2002 while the NC, Congress and the PDP had strengths of 28, 20 and 16 respectively. The Congress and the PDP had formed a coalition government with both deciding to head the government for half of the term of the assembly. The polling percentage in 2002 was only 44 per cent while it had recorded 61 per cent polling.

Burden for the party

The past six years of the NC rule under one of the youngest Chief Ministers, Omar Abdullah, has become a burden for the ruling party, which had hoped to wrest back political ground it had lost to the PDP in the valley. All its hopes were dashed as it lost all the three seats from the valley to the PDP. The BJP went on to win two Lok Sabha seats from Jammu and one from Ladakh.

Since the Lok Sabha elections, the NC has further lost ground. The history’s worst-ever floods in the state in September this year and the NC government’s inefficient handling of the natural calamity has further added to the NC’s woes. Similarly, the Congress’s political fortunes in the state seems to be at the lowest ebb as neither in the state nor nationally it has been able to regain political ground in last five months.

In this background, the electoral battle is likely to be fought mainly between the PDP and the BJP with the NC and the Congress trying to remain politically relevant by winning few seats if they can.

The contest is going to be four cornered with smaller parties and independents contributing to the vote division. The PDP is strong in the valley while the BJP has its eyes on the Jammu and Ladakh regions.

The PDP, the NC and the Congress are going into the election alone but there are indications that the BJP is trying to reach to some electoral understanding with smaller parties. The BJP has entered into similar alliances in just held Maharashtra assembly elections and was able to reap benefits from it. The BJP will also admit disgruntled leaders from other parties who will be denied tickets by their respective parties.

The PDP, in order to be in a position to stake a claim to form the government, will have to perform well in all the three regions of the state as it is well neigh impossible for it to win all the valley seats.

Greatest plus point

The biggest plus point for the BJP is its Prime Minister who is losing no opportunity to visit the state ever since he assumed charge. He paid a visit to the state immediately when the floods hit the state and announced immediate assistance. He paid a visit to the state on Diwali. By such gestures, Modi has been attempting to expand the BJP’s base in the state and he seems to be striking a chord with the people.

Favourable results, rather a positive outcome of Jharkhand and J&K assembly elections, on December 23 when results are going to be announced, will reiterate Modi’s pre-eminence in not only the party but in the country too. A victory in the two assembly elections will also make a positive impact on assembly elections in Delhi early next year.

With both party as well as the government under his firm control, Modi will have no obstacles or hurdles to push through the economic and social agenda. There seems to be no looking back for the Prime Minister in near future. The opposition is in disarray though some efforts are being made to regroup by former Janata Dal leaders but prospects of a serious challenge are dim. The main opposition party, the Congress, too is struggling to evolve an effective strategy to counter Modi’s firm grip on the affairs of the country.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maldives: It’s back to numbers game

N Sathiya Moorthy

In a nation where registered membership of political parties entails them to a proportionate allocation of State funds, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) are at it again. Their competitive claims to registered membership also owes to their perception of their popularity among the nation’s population.

The political parties find it difficult to keep cadre and voter enthusiasm in tact - and growing. The worst-affected, particularly in terms of self-perception, could be the MDP. Dubbed the ’party of street-fighters’, it has to keep the political pot boiling all the time. That’s not happening.

It’s in this context that party membership drives assume significance. Having named former President Mohammed Nasheed as the party chief again, the MDP has now come up with a registered membership of over 50,000. The MDP has anyway been acknowledged both by the Election Commission, and otherwise, as the single largest party in the country, in terms of nation-wide membership.

However, what’s surprising is the counter-claim made by President Abdulla Yameen’s ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), just a day after the MDP submitted its duly filled-up and signed registration forms to the EC. The PPM claimed that it now had membership forms from a higher number of 65,000 persons. The difference is that the PPM was yet to submit them to the Election Commission for verification.

’Verification’ is also the name of the game. In the past over five years of multi-party democracy with State funding, the Election Commission had often challenged membership claims of individual parties after individual verification of the filled-in forms submitted by them. The non-MDP parties at various times had attributed the party’s high membership to alleged partisanship by the Election Commission.

However, there was no denying that the MDP was the single largest party in terms of membership. The MDP numbers had constantly shot up through the past five years, even when the party had lost the presidency and did not command a parliamentary majority. At the time of the November 2013 presidential polls, it stood at 48,000. Thus, a 2000-plus addition now can be described as stagnation of sorts. It should worry the leadership of the nation’s only and most popular cadre-based party.

In comparison, if the PPM’s claims are also to be accepted until EC verification, the party has nearly doubled its membership since the conclusion of three rounds of polls over six months from November last year. If cleared by the Election Commission, it should be an endorsement of sorts for President Yameen’s year-long rule. The other question will then arise if the Yameen Government and the PPM leadership, headed by his half-brother and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, would be able to sustain the momentum of their current popularity, if it’s so.

In the past, the Opposition had attributed the sudden spurt in MDP’s membership after President Nasheed assumed office, also to the party near-forcibly enrolling beneficiaries of various government schemes, to boost numbers. In particular, the beneficiaries of ’old-age pension’, out-of-island student scholarship, and later the more popular ’Aasanda’ health insurance scheme, were claimed to have been the targets.

Thus far, the MDP has not laid any charge of the kind against the PPM after the latter now claimed a membership of 65,000. The party is most likely to wait until after the EC comes up with verified figures. The MDP might also require time to do cross-verification of its own after the EC puts the respective figures and the list of registered members in the public domain.

Demographic spread

Assuming that the figures claimed by the two major parties of the nation are accurate or near-accurate, the demographic spread of their respective memberships would be interesting for the parties, independent analysts and pollsters alike to study. With four long years left for the next series of elections, they all may have a lot to learn from it, too.

As the results of the hotly-fought, directly-elected presidential polls showed last year, the MDP, which was considered an ’urban-centric party’, had increased its reach to the islands that the Gayoom leadership had dominated the preceding one in 2008. It owed to the sustained MDP campaign in the islands almost immediately after President Nasheed got replaced by his Vice-President, Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, in February 2012.

However, against better counsel and caution, the MDP was not prepared for a loss in its ’traditional’ (?) urban vote-base, particularly the first-generation and other young voters, who had catapulted Nasheed to power in 2008. It was palpable in the national capital of Male, where not all the young voters rooted for the MDP in 2013, as the party had concluded without evidence, early on.

The Jumhooree Party (JP), founded by billionaire-politician Gasim Ibrahim, was the seeming beneficiary, as the presidential poll results showed. Interestingly, there was no comparison between the JP’s claimed membership that did not go very far beyond the mandated minimum of 10,000 for State-funding, and the nearly 24-percent vote-share that Gasim Ibrahim recorded in the first-round.

Very few political analysts and pollsters had given Gasim that kind of a voter-clout. The JP’s two main rivals, namely, the MDP and the PPM, at the time refused to acknowledge the ground reality until it became too late. Their private insinuations that the JP was resorting to unethical poll practices deluded them at best - but did not alter the ground situation.

Rivals and other critics of the JP and Gasim Ibrahim are also yet to explain away - and, hence acknowledge - his ability to ’transfer’ their substantial vote-share to a candidate of his choosing in the decisive, second, run-off round. He has proved it twice in five years - in favour of PPM’s Yameen in 2013 (24 percent), and MDP’s Nasheed, with the latter’s 25 percent first-round vote-share in 2008. Gasim’s 15 percent along with Hassan Saeed’s 16 percent vote-share did the trick for Nasheed in that first-ever democratic electoral outing.

Yet, none of these could explain President Nasheed’s first-round vote-share shooting up from 25 percent in 2008 to 46-plus percent vote-share in 2013. When he lost ultimately in the second, run-off round to Yameen in 2013, it was by a slender/wafer-thin margin. All this have made membership drive and cadre-activities a necessity for the MDP, if the party is not to lose its momentum and also re-build on its voter-strength in urban centres without losing the 2013 advantage in the islands.

For the same reason, the PPM in particular would not want to give that early advantage to the MDP rival, particularly in the department of re-energising its cadres and sympathisers by indicating an early lead, way ahead of the elections. It may have helped the MDP the last time round. Hence is also the PPM’s effort at competitive membership-drive and claims. For reasons already explained, the competition will also be to ’recruit’ to their side ’Gasim voters’ who have not registered with any party, including the JP, as the latter after winning the parliamentary and local council polls in PPM’s company, has been left in the lurch.

It’s too early to predict what issues will matter to the voter in 2018, when alone the next round of elections are due. It can still be safely assumed that it would be ’governance issue’ of one kind or the other. For the MDP to harp on democracy issues, trying to re-invent the ’Gayoom bogey’ did not work entirely in 2013, particularly with the numerically substantial young-generation voters.

Those that enter the voters’ list in 2018 after turning 18, would have been eight years and below when the ’pro-democracy movement’ (2003-08) happened. That it did not matter to the new-generation voters, particularly in urban centres, in the 2013 presidential polls, too has been proved. They were in their early teens when multi-party democracy came their way. They did not share the ’pro-democracy’ aspirations and consequent apprehensions of their parents and grandparents with the same vehemence, so to say.

Reaching out to that generation, and retaining the imagination of their ’committed voters’ from the previous rounds of elections would (have to) be the focus of political parties. Issues of Islam and nationalism, both in varied global context, law and order, price rise and unemployment, apart from a check-list against the promises made by the Yameen candidacy and presidency - not necessarily in that order - could be in sharp/sharper focus.

Rather than seeking to guide the voter, getting guided by the voter, to identify a poll issue of his choice, that too without compromising on ’core values’ of parties, will be easier said than done. Catching ’em young that way may not go a long way between now and the elections, when due in the second half of 2018. In the ever-dynamic Maldivian political context, it’s light years away!

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

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pak army chief comes calling

General Raheel Sharif during his visit to Afghanistan this week met with the acting Afghan Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi and assured him that Pakistan was willing to assist Afghanistan in economic, military and political affairs. The two countries also discussed the possibility of jointly tackling terror in the region and the training of Afghan security forces in Pakistan.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "Pakistani army chief proposes training for Afghan army officers", Khaama Press, 6 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">NATO calls for stronger ties

The NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan this week. Mr Stoltenberg met with both Ashraf Ghani, the President and Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive. He praised the efforts of the alliance over the past 13 years and called for the beginning of a new phase in its relations with Afghanistan. He claimed that NATO will continue to support Afghanistan and will be present in the country in a "new form" post-2014.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "New NATO Chief Travels to Kabul, Signals Hope for Security Transition", Tolo News, 6 November 2014; "NATO and Afghanistan ready to open new chapter, NATO SG says", Khaama Press, 6 November 2014; "NATO’s Job Not Done in Afghanistan: Stoltenberg", Tolo News, 7 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">National Assembly for amending poll laws

The Afghan Senate stressed this week that if the new government fails to bring about the necessary reforms in the management bodies of the electoral commissions, then it would take the task upon itself. Although the Senate claimed that it had the full authority to monitor the actions of the electoral commissions, such assertions were rejected by the head of the Electoral Complaints Commission.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "National Assembly Determined to Amend Election Law" Tolo News, 6 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Death for another ’war crimes’ accused

The Supreme Court has confirmed death sentence for Mohammad Kamurazzman, one of the main accused for genocide for ’Bangladesh liberation war crimes’ of 1971.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Kamaruzzaman must die, SC gives final verdict",, 3 November 2014; "Controversy over review scope", The Independent, 4 November 2014; "Execution a matter of time", The Independent, 4 November 2014; "PM vows to execute war crimes verdicts",, 3 November 2014; "PM to Khaleda: Leave the side of war criminals",, 3 November 2014; "Jamaat threatens more strikes",, 1 November 2014; "Hasina is following in Hitler’s footsteps: Khaleda",, 1 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Blast probe info shared

Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran has shared with Bangladesh authorities, information regarding Bangladesh nationals in cross-border terrorism in the adjoining State of West Bengal.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "India shares info on Burdwan blast with Bangladesh",, 4 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bridge consultancy work on

A joint venture led by the Korean Expressway has been entrusted with the supervision of the prestigious Padma bridge work.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Deal signed for Padma bridge consultancy", The Daily Star, 4 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Indian president to inaugurate hydro projects

Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee would inaugurate three hydropower projects during his visit to Bhutan on 7-8 November. Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay said that the IndianpPresident will inaugurate the Jigme Wangchuck Power Training Institute at Dekiling in Sarpang.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Mukherjee to inaugurate three major projects", Kuensel Online, 6 November 2014; "President going to Bhutan on Nov. 7", The Hindu Businessline, 5 November 2014; "Indian President’s state visit to Bhutan on Nov. 7", Kuensel Online, 5 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Queen launches Water Regulation 2014

Her Majesty, the Gyaltsuen launched the Water Regulation 2014, coinciding with Ozone Day on 4 November. The regulation for water encompasses all the legal norms that will effectively implement the country’s Water Act at all levels.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Gyaltsuen launches the Water Regulation 2014", Bhutan Broadcasting Service, 4 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Seven held for drug-abuse

The Royal Bhutan Police charged seven people with substance abuse and related crime between the evening of 4 November and 5 November morning. This takes the tally of those arrested in drug trafficking in the country to 800 since December last year.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Police in Thimphu arrest seven", Bhutan Broadcasting Service, 6 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Chinese troops enter Ladakh

Chinese troops entered five kilometres across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) into Indian Territory in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. The transgression occurred at the Pangong Lake; India controls 45 kilometres of the lake, while China exercises sovereignty over 90 kilometres. People’s Liberation Army sent boats into the lake and additional troops through land and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police intercepted them. In the absence of a mutually agreed upon border, both sides occasionally mount patrols into territories claimed by the other side, leading to such flashpoints.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : " "Chinese Transgression Again in Ladakh, Now at Pangong Lake" NDTV, 2 November 2014; "Chinese Army entered Indian waters at Pangong Lake", The Indian Express, 3 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India, Pakistan spar over Kashmir at the UN

India and Pakistan criticised the rivals’ respective stand on Kashmir during a United Nations committee meeting convened to discuss social, humanitarian, and cultural matters. Pakistan’s counsellor, Diyar Khan, raised the issue of self-determination, pointing at India’s pledge to hold a plebiscite to decide the region’s fate. India responded by reaffirming its position that participation in democratic institutions have made referendum obsolete. India’s cancellation of foreign-secretary level talks after Pakistan ignored India’s advice against meeting members of the separatist Hurriyat Conference has resulted in increased tensions between the two rivals.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: " "India, Pakistan face-off over Kashmir at UN", The Times of India, 4 November 2014; "Pakistan rakes up Kashmir issue at UN, India retorts" The Indian Express, 4 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">The Indian Express, 4 November 2014

Indian Army troops killed two youth and injured two others at a check-post in Kashmir’s Budgam district near Srinagar. The incident occurred at a temporary check post set up by troops of the Rashtriya Rifles, the army’s main counterinsurgency force in the Valley. According to the army’s version of the incident, soldiers opened fire after the vehicle in which the victims were travelling refused to stop. The survivors refute details of the army’s claim and allege that the shooting was uncalled for. Hurriyat, the main separatist party, called for a four-day shutdown. All mainstream parties criticised the army’s actions and repeated their demand for repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: " "An eyewitness account of Army killing in Kashmir: When 5 teenage boys went for a drive", The Indian Express, 6 November 2014; "Survivor of Kashmir firing refutes Army version", The Hindu, 7 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Loss-making PSU disinvestment on cards

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley indicated the government’s preference towards privatising loss-making public sector undertakings (PSU), state owned units that are either making recurrent loses or have been declared as sick enterprises, sustained entirely through government support. 79 such units exist, and their disinvestment is the only sustainable solution, according to Jaitley who made these comments while addressing the India Economic Summit organised by the World Economic Forum in New Delhi. The minister also indicated greater liberalisation in mineral extraction along the lines of recent reforms in coal mining prompted by a Supreme Court ruling, as well as reforms in land acquisition, insurance, and railways.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: " "Sick PSU sell-off, reforms top of Arun Jaitley’s mind", Daily News and Analysis, 6 November 2014; "PSUs’ sale, labour reforms coming", The Hindu, 6 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Governor clears fresh polls in Delhi

After months of speculation, Lt-Governor Najeeb Jung dissolved the State Assembly and called for fresh polls. Delhi has been under President’s Rule since the resignation of former Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in February 2014. Since then, The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and the Congress proved unable to muster enough numbers to claim government, leading to prolonged suspension of the house. The decision follows censure by the Supreme Court which had criticised the centre for not calling for fresh polls despite demands from AAP and others.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : " "Delhi headed for fresh polls", The Hindu, 4 November 2014;" "Cabinet clears dissolution of Delhi Assembly, fresh polls likely to be announced soon", The Indian Express, 4 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">It’s independent foreign policy: Dunya

In a rare parliamentary appearance only days after meeting with visiting Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon told a questioner that Maldives followed an independent foreign policy, and that no foreign government was consulted before the nation joined China’s Maritime Silk Route (MSR) project.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "No consultation with foreign gov before joining MSR: Foreign Minister", Haveeru Online, 5 November 2014; "Maldives not obliged to consult neighbours before joining China’s Silk Route, says foreign minister", Minivan News, 5 November 2014; "Dunya: Government would not prioritise foreign groups’ interests", SunOnline, 5 November 2014; "Minister of External Affairs of India: India committed to security and stability of Maldives", SunOnline 3 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Three held, going to Syria

Three Maldivian youth, including a married couple, were detained by the Sri Lankan Immigration officials while they were proceeding to Syria to join the ISIS.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Three Maldivians en route to Syria, deported", Haveeru Online, 6 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pact with Russia on criminal matters

Possibly following the faux pas committed over Maldivian authorities handing over a Russian citizen to waiting US marshals on charges of cyber crime in the US, Russia and Maldives have now signed a bilateral pact for exchange of information and the like in criminal matters.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Russia, Maldives sign agreement on cooperation in criminal matters", SunOnline, 6 November 2014; SunOnline, 6 November 2014; SunOnline, 6 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Exit permits decision reversed

Reversing an earlier decision, the Immigration Department has suspended the order for expatriate employees wanting to leave the country to present exit permits with their employers’ clearance at the airport.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Requirement to submit Exit Permit suspended", SunOnline, 6 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt staff asked to work honestly

Defence Minister Mohammed Nazim has said that government employees have to work honestly, and always need not have to carry out all orders of politicians. His advice, at a conference organised by the Civil Services Commission (CVC) coincided with the Opposition MDP’s charge against the police for colluding with illegal tree-fellers.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : " Civil servants don’t have to obey every order by politicians: Minister Nazim", Haveeru Online, 28 October 2014; " Nasheed thanks Home Minister for request to investigate alleged police involvement in cutting down trees", Haveeru Online, 29 October 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">’Dhosti’ exercise with India, Sri Lanka

Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim launched the joined naval exercises with India and Sri Lanka, under the tri-nation ’Dhosti’ programme. The exercises are held every two years, in one of the countries in turn.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : " Minister Nazim launches trilateral navy exercises, ’Dhosti’", Haveeru Online, 29 October 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Agreement on political stability

Myanmar’s political leaders desire that there be political stability in the country. In the meeting held on 31 October at President U Thein Sein’s residence, besides the president, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, Aung San Suu Kyi, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann and Union Election Commission chief U Tin Aye, as well as the leaders of four other political parties were present.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Political stability, military dominate historic meeting", The Myanmar Times, 3 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US too optimistic on reforms: Suu Kyi

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said that the democratic reforms have been stalled since early 2013 and called upon the US to ’seriously think’ about the lack of democratic progress in the country. Her statement comes a week prior to US President, Barak Obama’s scheduled visit to Myanmar.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "US Too Optimistic about Burma Reform: Suu Kyi", The Irrawaddy, 5 November 2014; "Suu Kyi calls for critical eye on reforms", Democratic Voice of Burma, 6 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Military, technical cooperation with Belarus

Myanmar’s ministry of defence has agreed with Belarus to form a committee to oversee technical cooperation on military matters. Commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces, Senior General held talks with Belarusian Deputy Defence Minister, Lt. General Yuri Zhadobin.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Burma, Belarus agree military technical cooperation", Democratic Voice of Burma, 6 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PDA for 800 MW project

India and Nepal have agreed to a draft of the second Project Development Agreement (PDA) aimed to generate hydroelectric power in the Himalayan nation and the agreement may be signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here this month.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Nepal, India finalise PDA for 900 MW Arun III Project", The Economic Times, 6 November 2014; IBN, Satluj finalize draft PDA of Arun III", Republica, 5 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bus service with India

India and Nepal have agreed to start cross-border bus service on three routes, a step that would come as a big boost to tourism in the Himalayan nation. Top government sources said that officials from both sides have identified Delhi-Kathmandu, Delhi-Pokhara and Varanasi-Kathmandu routes and buses could ply on a daily basis.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "3 India-Nepal bus routes on the cards", The Times of India, 2 November 2014; "India, Nepal to finalize Motor Vehicle Agreement" Republica, 4 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">New constitution by Jan 22 deadline

Top leaders of the major political parties -- Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) -- have reiterated their commitment to bring the new constitution within the deadline of January 22, through an amendment in the already set calendar of events.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Big 3 reiterate consensus constitution by Jan 22", Republica, 7 November 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bomb-blast at Wagah border claims 61

A suicide bombing at the entrance of the Wagah border parade venue killed 61 people and left over 110 injured soon after the daily flag-lowering ceremony at the complex. The outlawed Jundullah and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan-affiliated Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Carnage at Wagah - 60 killed", Dawn, 3 November 2014; "Wagah Border blast death toll rises to 61", The Express Tribune, 4 November 2014; "TTP splinter groups claim Wagah attack; 60 dead", Dawn, 3 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TTP, Lashkar-i-Islam join hands in Khyber

The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has stated that it will be joining hands with Lashkar-i-Islam, another banned militant group that operates in the Khyber tribal region. TTP also announced that it had appointed Mohammad Khurrasani as its new spokesperson after its former spokesperson, Shahidullah Shahid had announced his allegiance with the Islamic State (IS).

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "TTP joins hands with Lashkar-i-Islam in Khyber", Dawn, 7 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Conditions for India dialogue rejected

During her weekly briefing in Islamabad, Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam countered India’s tough stance on dialogue and added that Pakistan does not accept conditions on the composite dialogue with India.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Pakistan rejects conditions on dialogue with India: FO", The Express Tribune, 6 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Christian couple killed for ’blasphemy’

A mob beat a Christian couple to death near Lahore for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran, according to the police. Their bodies were burnt in a brick kiln where they worked. This is the latest example of mob violence against minorities accused of blasphemy.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : "Christian couple killed for ’desecrating Holy Quran’ near Lahore: police", The Express Tribune, 4 November 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India reassured again

For a second time in as many weeks, Sri Lanka Navy chief, Vice-Admiral Jayantha Perera has reassured India that berthing facilities for Chinese submarines for Chinese Navy would not endanger Indian security interests.

< class="text11verdana">For information more see : ""Navy Chief: Sri Lanka’s relationship with China not at India’s expense", The Island, 6 November 2014; "Docking of submarines in SL not unusual: China", Daily Mirror Online, 3 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC’s opinion sought on third term

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has approached the Supreme Court, seeking opinion on the constitutional validity of his wanting to contest the presidency for a third term.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see: "MR seeks SC opinion on third term", Daily Mirror Online, 5 November 2014; "BASL to move Supreme Court today opposing President’s third term bid", The Island, 7 November 2014; "Ranil next presidential candidate: Sajith", Daily Mirror Online, 5 November 2014; "Amidst turmoil caused by Mangala: Ranil ready to give up presidential candidature", The Island, 6 November 2014; "Govt. fuels speculation of Mangala’s crossover A group of prominent UNPers to defect - Yapa", The Island, 5 November 2014; "Deterioration of SLFP has to be prevented - Ranil", The Island, 6 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SLMC stand unclear

Addressing a party rally, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader and Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem has sent out confusing signals on the party backing incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in the upcoming presidential polls, whenever held.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Hakeem dilly-dallies on backing Mahinda", The Island, 5 November 2014; "No districts on ethnic lines: Govt", Daily Mirror Online, 4 November 2014; "Wijeyadasa tears into SLMC Demand for separate unit for Eastern Muslims", The Island, 5 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">JHU boycotts budget vote

The two-member JHU parliamentary group stayed away from the second reading vote on the budget, which was passed by 157-57 votes in a House of 225 members.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Budget passed; JHU stays away", Sunday Times, 2 November 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US warning on UNHRC probe

The US has cautioned Sri Lanka that any attempt to suffocate the ongoing UNHRC probe into ’war crimes’ and accountability issues would be an offence against the UN.

< class="text11verdana">For more information see : "Man arrested with blank UN war crimes forms: US warns Sri Lanka ’Bid to silence those cooperating with UN an attack on the UN’", The Island, 7 November 2014; "Flawed nature of OISL is being exploited-SL", Daily Mirror Online, 5 November 2014; "Police hunt for TNA Vavuniya organiser, Governor takes up Ananthi’s conduct with NPC", The Island, 7 November 2014

Primary Documentation


’Beijing Declaration’ - The declaration of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul process conference held in Beijing on 31 October 2014, Heart of Asia -Istanbul Process, 4 November 2014

Progress towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan, Department of Defense, Government of the United States of America, October 2014

Bhutan Bhutan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5 November 2014


Statement by Minister of State for External Affairs at Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Vienna, Ministry of External Affairs, 3 November 2014

Keynote Address by External Affairs Minister at the Inauguration of the International Conference on Indentured Labour Route Project in Port Louis, Ministry of External Affairs, 3 November 2014

External Affairs Minister’s Keynote Address at Business Meet in Port Louis, Mauritius, Ministry of External Affairs, 3 November 2014

External Affairs Minister’s remarks at the Reception onboard the Western Naval Fleet, Ministry of External Affairs, 2 November 2014

External Affairs Minister’s Speech at the Commemoration of the 180th Anniversary of Aapravasi Diwas in Mauritius, Ministry of External Affairs, 2 November 2014

Text of PM’s "Mann ki Baat" on All India Radio (in Hindi), website of the Prime Minister of India, 2 November 2014

English rendering of text of PM’s address at "Run For Unity" at Rajpath on the occasion of Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, website of the Prime Minister of India, 31 October 2014


Speech delivered by President U Thein Sein over the radio, President of Myanmar’s Office, 5 November 2014


Press Release- 5th November, 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 6 November 2014

Press Release- 4th November, 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 5 November 2014

Press Release- 3rd November, 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 4 November 2014

Press Release on the Visit of Japanese Member of Parliament and the Secretary General of Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal, 3 November 2014


Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 6th November 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 6 November 2014

Reaction to US Defence Department Report, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 5 November 2014

Statement by Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Fourth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process Beijing, 31 October 2014, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Pakistan, 5 November 2014



Opinion Pieces

S Reza Kazemi, "More bilateral than multilateral effects: The Afghanistan conference in China", Afghanistan Analysts Network, 7 November 2014

Robert Farley, "Why the US Will Welcome Chinese Influence in Afghanistan", The Diplomat, 7 November 2014

Matthew Rosenberg, "China’s Uighur Unrest is Opportunity for Afghans", The New York Times, 5 November 2014

Ali Seraj, "The Arbaki can secure Afghanistan better than the US", Al Jazeera, 5 November 2014

Zalmay Khalilzad, "Why Afghanistan Courts China", The New York Times, 3 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Mahfuz Anam, "Propaganda and the war crimes trial", The Daily Star, 7 November 2014

Naaz Fahmida, "Religious vs. National Identity",, 6 November 2014

Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd), "BNP must come clean on Jamaat", The Daily Star, 6 November 2014

Julian Francis, "Remembering the fallen",, 3 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Kuensel, "Compulsory Contributions", Kuensel Online, 6 November 2014

Kuensel, "For a purposeful scrutiny", Kuensel Online, 1 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Gautam Bhatia, "The failure of the Indian imagination", The Hindu, 7 November 2014

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, "Children’s Day in Chattergam", The Indian Express, 7 November 2014

Bruce Riedel, "Let there be more Wagahs", The Indian Express, 5 November 2014

Prem Trivedi, "U.S.-India Strategic Partnership: Shared Vision, Different Prescription", Foreign Policy, 30 October 2014

Ashutosh Varshney, "Sparks, not fires", The Indian Express, 30 October 2014

Jeff Smith, "Crossing the Line At Odd Times: China-India Border Disputes", Foreign Policy, 16 October 2014


Opinion Pieces

Zarni Mann, "What Do People Expect From President Obama’s Burma Visit?", The Irrawaddy, 6 November 2014

Aung Naing Oo "Slowing of momentum not the death of the peace process", The Myanmar Times, 3 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Kanak Mani Dixit "Undeclared capital of SAARC", "Undeclared capital of SAARC",

Khushbu Misha, "The ignored half", Republica, 5 November 2014

Jayadev Ranade, "China’s Nepal Gambit", The New Indian Express, 5 November 2014


Opinion Pieces

Satyabrata Pal, "Silence, violence and intransigence", India Today, 6 November 2014

Kuldip Nayar, "Target Wagah", The Indian Express, 5 November 2014

Farzana Hassan, "Victim of Pakistan’s madness", Toronto Sun, 1 November 2014

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Kelum Bandara, "Political parties’ pulses and approaching Presidential Election", Daily Mirror Online, 6 November 2014

Viswamithra 1984, "Can Ranil knockout Mahinda No; belief only a truly ’common’ challenger can, is growing", Daily Mirror Online, 5 November 2014

Dr Nirmala Chandrahasan, "Secession and the TNA’s stand", The Island, 6 November 2014

Jehan Perera, "Minimizing collateral damage due to human rights problems requires new approach", The Island, 4 November 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Sri Lanka: Under Appreciation And More" (Part-II), The Sunday Leader, 2 November 2014

N Sathiya Moorthy, "Sri Lanka: Death sentence for Indians stresses urgent need to resolve fishers’ problems", Observer Research Foundation, 1 November 2014

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

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