MonitorsPublished on Sep 06, 2009
Sri Lanka ordered a senior United Nations official James Elder to leave the country with immediate effect. Elder was the spokesperson of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
South Asia Weekly Report 88
Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Sri Lanka orders senior UN official to leave the country

Sri Lanka ordered a senior United Nations official James Elder to leave the country with immediate effect. Elder was the spokesperson of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). Elder was an outspoken critic of the ethnic conflict and its effect on the children. He was labeled as pro-Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam by the government of Sri Lanka and accused of taking sides during the final months of the bloody conflict. Regional Communications Chief Sarah Crowe told the news agency AFP that UNICEF strongly felt that. Elder should continue to act as an impartial advocate on behalf of Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable sections, including women and children.

< class="maroontitle">Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister visits India

The relations between India and Bangladesh got a major boost with the visit of the Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. Dipu Moni. She was in India from September 7 to10. During the visit Dr. Dipu Moni held meetings with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Minister for Water Resources and Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal. Dr. Singh, during his meeting with Dr. Moni, mentioned that India attaches highest priority to its relationship with Bangladesh. The visit marked some positive development in resolving issues like connectivity, trade, sharing of water and security. Some of the highlights of the visit were:

  1. India agreed to facilitate Nepal-Bangladesh, Bangladesh-Bhutan connectivity
  2. India agreed to provide at least 100MW power on priority basis.
  3. Bangladesh discussed allowing India to use Chittagong Port and designating Ashuganj a new port of call under the Inland Water Transit Agreement.
  4. Both recognised the need to finalise water sharing agreement for the Teesta river and agreed for joint hydrological observation on rivers immediately.
  5. On trade, both side agreed on opening of the trade point at Sabroom-Ramgarh, setting up of border haats on the Bangladesh-Meghalaya side of the border.
  6. On security, both the sides agreed to conclude the following three agreements:
          a) Agreement for mutual legal assistance on criminal matters, 
          b) Agreement of transfer of sentenced persons, 
          c)  Agreement on combating international terrorism, organized crime and illegal drug trafficking.
< class="maroontitle">Majlis fails to pass any bill in its first session
The first-ever session of the newly-elected Majlis ended without passing even a single bill. While the two political parties -- Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party and the Maldivian Democratic Party -- are busy blaming each other for delaying the proceedings of the Majlis by indulging in the endless debates for securing some undue privileges for former presidents, some faulty technicalities enshrined in the constitution regarding the passage of the bill in the Majlis are equally responsible for the current state of affairs. Former Information Minister Mohamed Nasheed, who is also a legal expert, suggested changes in procedures to expedite the proceedings of the legislature. The first shortcoming is the absence of a system where parties can allocate time amongst themselves to debate a bill. Secondly, there is no way to stop the debate until everyone who wishes to speak finishes his turn. Thirdly, Nasheed also calls for a practice where MPs do not have to rewrite a bill once a bill reaches the committee stage. Further, Nasheed stresses that post-committee debate stage of a bill must be curtailed to the “bare necessities”.     
< class="maroontitle">Pakistan announces ambitious Education Policy
Education Minister Mir Hazar Bijarani on Wednesday (September 9) announced the National Education Policy (NEP) 2009. The new policy earmarks 7 per cent of the GDP for the education sector, a three-fold increase from the current allotment. The plan envisages the literacy rate to rise to 85 per cent in 2015. At 55 per cent literacy rate, Pakistan is currently placed at 160th in the global literacy index. NEP 2009 aims to improve the standard of teachers by offering attractive incentives, upgrade facilities in schools, and revise the syllabus of public schools, besides other wide-ranging reforms. Contemporary courses will soon be introduced in madrassas, thus enabling its students to join the mainstream economy. The policy also envisions greater coordination with international donors and private players. Pakistan, like much of South Asia faces a youth bulge but due to continued underinvestment in education, faces a serious challenge of endemic unemployment in the near future. The new policy, therefore, comes as a welcome initiative by the government to address some of the core socio-economic reasons that contribute to the growth of political violence. The policy, if executed correctly, will also help built civil institutions and strengthen the burgeoning civil society.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                       – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee       – Bangladesh
      • Kaustav Dhar Chakraborti – Pakistan

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.