MonitorsPublished on Jul 22, 2020
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume XIII; 29

Maldives: Tourism sector reopens, expats issue back in focus

N Sathiya Moorthy

The plight of expatriate workers from across South Asia, especially Bangladesh, working in Maldives, has always been an issue of concern, for the nations of their origin. It can go either way now after the country opening up the mainstay tourism sector, which was shut down in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak across the world.

A nation with a 400,000 population, the Indian Ocean archipelago depends on its South Asian neighbours for manning not only its tourism industry but also the related construction sector and various white-collar service-sectors. The overnight tourism sector boom and the consequent increase in the family incomes since the early eighties, coupled with lack of external exposure for local youth in the working age-group meant that the nation came to depend on neighbours, starting with Sri Lanka, then India, and now dominated by Bangladesh, for its multiple labour requirements.

Trouble was in-built into the scheme, as Sri Lanka with stricter emigrant labour rules for its citizens quietly withdrew, leaving it mostly to south Indians, who had relatively better access than counterparts from rest of India in the early days. Now labour force from north, north-east India, and more so, Bangladesh, man many private sector jobs in the country. Barring the Covid-19 outbreak, the Maldivian Airlines operated Male-Chennai-Dhaka flights for their benefits while various Indian and Sri Lankan airliners have direct flights from destinations in those countries to the Maldivian capital.

At the crux of the migrant labour plight is the practice of Maldivian employers, especially in the tourism and construction sectors, using the services of unscrupulous agents in the host nations to hire labour or white-collar employees, promising much higher salaries and wages than they actually get. The ‘recruits’ are made to travel to Male on tourist visas, and their passports are ‘confiscated’ on arrival by the employer. They are forced to over-stay the visa-period by months and at times year.

Many times, the employers threatened to hand over the over-staying ‘illegal immigrants’ to nation’s notorious police and prison systems, which are willing collaborators in what then became ‘human-trafficking’ in international parlance.

Preference for expats

The problems have been accentuated over the years, owing to two reasons. Maldives follows the Cambridge system of school education, and a good score in the A-Level qualifies them to take up jobs in the government and the public sector, which anyway are the single largest employer for locals. The local youth have seldom resisted the temptation of travelling back to far away native islands for weekends and their returning to work on time,  for a variety of reasons, including unpredictable weather conditions. Hence, Maldivian youth are not preferred for jobs in the private sector and even more in the high-paying tourism sector.

Farther the employee comes from, confident are the employers about their unwillingness to undertake intra-year travel back home, until their annual, paid-holiday becomes due. Hence also the preference in recent years for labour from north and north-eastern India and Bangladesh.

The other issue pertains to every other government employee, politician and others in decision-making positions having immigrant employees in their household – as cooks, house-helps, drivers and the like. There, the expat is expected to wake up before sun-rise and go to bed only past midnight, 24X7. Politicians and public servants also own, directly or otherwise, construction companies and resorts, with the result, they also become the main culprits in every which way.

The coinciding anti-GMR protests against the Indian infrastructure major in 2011-12 diverted local public attention from the illegalities being heaped on Indian immigrants. But the Indian suspension of visa-on-arrival facility for Maldivians at the time flowed directly from local government departments also behaving like private sector employers, and holding back passports of expat teachers and nurses, after granting them long-leave for their own wedding back home.

With the result, the ‘2019 Trafficking in Persons Report’ of the US has retained Maldives in the ‘Tier II Watch List’, as over the past many years.  The report began by saying, “The Government of Maldives does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.”

The reversal came after the US list removed Maldives from the Watch List in 2017, ‘following the first successful prosecution and conviction of traffickers’. But the country was back in the American Tier-II list the very next year. All this after episodes of the Indian kind and New Delhi repeatedly taking up the issue at the highest levels, leading to Maldives coming up with the ‘Anti-Human Trafficking National Action Plan, 2015-19’, with good preparations time in December 2013.

Tourism opens up

In the midst of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic spread, the government has confidently revived the tourism sector on 15 July, after a month-long preparations. The Male international airport has opened up for tourist aircraft, with of prior precautions and/or post-landing testing and verification. This will help the resort tourism industry to ramp up capacity and staff strength in time for the next season that opens up by October-November.

However, there are issues on the migrant labour front, most of them linked to the construction industry. But whose negative image can impact on other sectors of the economy too. Less than a fortnight back, Transparency Maldives called upon the government to investigate the issues that led to unrest at Bodufinolhu island and take legal action against the violators of migrant workers’ rights.

The main firm involved in the issue is the construction contractor, RIX Maldives, which is owned by a Member of Parliament, Ali Riza. The company  has conceded non-payment of wages for four months, and claimed that the project owners have not paid them. It has since been contested. However, the police have accused the RIX of “exploiting expats, human trafficking violations”.

Elsewhere too, migrant workers  gathered outside the Bangladesh embassy in capital Male, claiming that the latter was not facilitating their return. The police dispersed the crowds. It may be recalled that long before the pandemic, the Bangladesh government and also the embassy had repeatedly clarified that they would not step in if their nationals violate visa rules and other local legal requirements, whatever the circumstances.

Following the protests, the government has sent back 152 expatriates back home to Bangladesh, with cooperation from the national carrier, Maldivian. Given the overall expat crisis, the immigration authorities too have released passports submitted for visa purposes, to help the passport-holders to return home, early.

Ten airlines, 42 resorts

With the first post-Covid tourists arriving by a Qatar Airways flight on 15 July, the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) said that a total of 10 airlines, including the Qatar Airways, Emirates, Sri Lankan Airlines and IndiGo, had sought slots to land flights at Male airport. The Tourism Ministry said that 42 resorts would reopen in July. Eight resorts had continued operations throughout the local Covid-19 outbreak while most of the total 157 are expected to resume operations before the year-end.

The Tourism Ministry is hopeful of attracting 900,000 tourists during the remaining months of 2020. This contrasts with the earlier projections of arrivals this year beating the previous year’s record of 1.7 million. With the World Bank predicting that Maldives would be the world-hit economy in South Asia owing to the pandemic’s impact on the tourism sector, the government has estimated a $ 450-m (MVR 6,.9 billion) shortfall in foreign currency and MVR 13 billion State deficit this year.

Grotesque business

Responding to the RIX issue in Parliament, Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail has said that the government was targeting the repatriation of 20,000 undocumented expatriates by the end of the year. According to immigration records, there were 62,000 undocumented expats in the country, the minister said, putting the ‘true figure’ at 80,000-100,000.

Under the government-initiated programme, 43,000 expatriates had been regularised. Around 4,000 foreigners were repatriated as part of the Covid-19 operations of the government. The minister said that around 3,800 of those repatriated were undocumented.

The minister said that the “business” of undocumented migrants were the worst that the Maldives has seen, even worse than the MMPRC scandal (money-laundering involving former President Abdulla Yameen, for which he has since been jailed). “This is certainly a grotesque business conducted in the Maldives with the sale of humans…. No matter what anyone says at me, as a Maldivian, I am ashamed of how they have been treated,” he added.

In this background, the pandemic may have provided an occasion for the government to re-check the number of illegal migrants. The current decision to repatriate 20,000 undocumented migrants could impact the construction sector, more than the tourism sector, at least in the short term, though the former’s post-Covid recovery may take more time than that of the latter.

This may also have given the authorities an occasion to work out verifiable modalities, if needed by deploying technology, to regularise and regulate migrant labour movement both to the country and within the country. This has become even more critical in the face of a Presidential Commission acknowledging last year, the presence of Al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates in Maldives.

Myanmar: Displaced Rohingyas left to fend on silt land

Sreeparna Banerjee

Last week, the Bangladesh government made it quite apparent that they won’t allow the displaced Rohingyas from neighbouring Myanmar, quarantined at Bhasan Char, to shift to the camp areas in the Cox’s Bazar region. They want the refugees to stay in the char region. The displaced people fear that they will be made to live there until they are repatriated to Myanmar.

More than 300 displaced Rohingyas were rescued by the Bangladesh navy in early May after being stranded at sea for more than two months, not being able to enter either Malaysia or Thailand due to Covid-19 scare. Following international pressure, Bangladesh became obliged to provide shelter.

However, the new arrivals were sent to Bhasan Char, a landmass made up of silts. This particular landmass is located at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal and the mouth of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river system. It will be in the first area of impact if a tsunami or cyclone hits the region. Bangladesh, as is known, takes big hits by cyclones, year after year.

Bhasan Char was chosen under the initial strategy of Bangladesh -- Ashrayan 3. It was planned to move the Rohingyas there. Nevertheless, since a UN team is yet to declare the place fit for habitation after technically assessing it, the plan to move the Rohingyas in December 2019 was halted.

In February 2020, there were rumours that the land will not be provided to the Rohingyas anymore and will be made available to Bangladeshi citizens in need. However, with the current state of events, it seems that Covid-19 has become a good pretext for test-running the government’s pilot scheme since the spread of the disease remains too high within the camp areas.

Malnourished, overwhelmed

More than two months in sea with less food, water and dreadful surroundings, the people rescued are malnourished, dehydrated and overwhelmed.  They have fear in their eyes and are in need of proper nourishment, care and protection. However, the accounts of their interviews are unleashing a diverse scenario.

Barring the instability of the place in face of major storm or cyclone, the government had stated in its report that there is abundance of food and clean water at Bhasan char. Nonetheless, current interviews with the displaced people show that they are getting minuscule meal just two times a day and if they ask for more, they are verbally abused. There is also dearth of clean drinking water which questions the government plan.

Health and care

The people have stated that they are facing serious medical problems after being stranded at sea for months, but proper medication as well as care is absent. Only paracetamol tablets are being provided and specialised medicines for either communicable disease like diarrhoea and dysentery, or non-communicable diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, are lacking.

There is apprehension regarding women and girls who may have encountered sexual or other form of brutality while they were on the boat or since. Absence of counselling and treatment for such instances puts them in deeper emotional and physical barriers.

It is unclear how many medical professionals or nurses are stationed within the Char land. It was initially also confirmed by the government that if anyone within the area faces any major health emergency, facilities within the Char land is not sufficient. Thus, they will have been to be taken to hospital in the Hatiya Island, which is around three hours boat ride. This again questions the planning and reliability of governmental arrangements.

Positive will

If one looks at the promises made by the Bangladesh government, then one of the pre-requisites for the shifting to take place was positive will of the displaced people themselves to live on in such a place. However, presently there are reports of threats being made by the officials to the hapless people stating that they will not be able to go back to the camp areas. They have also stated that their families may be called in to join them.

Finally, the security aspect remains vulnerable. To avoid security threat within the islet from outside as well as inside, several facilities like watch tower, perimeter fencing along with police posts is built. The government  has past experience of deteriorated law and order situations in the camps located at Teknaf and Ukhiya which are filled with crimes like theft, murder, drugs and human trafficking as well as gender-based crimes.

To ensure that such occurrences come down, security cameras will be installed so that action and movement of the people can be continuously monitored. Nonetheless, such a situation positions these people as culprits rather than as victims. Restrictions on movement will remain due to geography and their position as displaced people will isolate them further.

Amidst the aforesaid measures and steps taken by the government, few questions still remain unanswered regarding maintenance of law and order at Bhasan Char. For instance, the kind of custodial action that will be taken if any person commits crime within the islet or if the people within are harmed by any outside entity. Also, in case of police mistreatments or custodial sexual abuses or killings, in what way such situations will be dealt or what sort of action will prevail remain unclear.

Such situations are occurring currently where the displaced people have described officers punishing them either physically or verbally. They have made women stand in hot sun for few hours since they spoke on mobile phone which is prohibited.  It is important to understand that these people have already faced injustice and abuse at the hands of people in uniform within Myanmar, thus repeating acts of injustice makes trusting similar people in a different land extremely difficult.

Way forward

Bangladesh needs to re-evaluate its strategy to deal with the current circumstances since the situation back home is quite disturbing due to the rising cases of COVID. Thus, proper instructions need to be laid out to the officials to deal with the displaced people with compassion and care while they live in the Bhasan Char area. Proper food and medicines need to be arranged if there is a shortage. Few sections of humanitarian organisations may be allowed entry at Bhasan Char to ease some tensions at the moment.

While Bangladesh has shouldered very weighty responsibilities towards the displaced people, the major focus is remaining on their repatriation to Myanmar. The humanitarian partners in this regard have a major role to play. The condition within Myanmar is highly unfit for any repatriation procedure to take place in the near future. However consistent efforts and funding are required to make it a reality.

In this regard, the Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan 2020 is designed (HRP) through the most inclusive inter-sectoral analysis of humanitarian needs in Myanmar till date. Based on a broad consultative process, that incorporated extensive and appropriate discussions with government, the current framework is shaped.

It focuses to address the needs and priorities of all communities in the region with the support of the government. However, the activities have been impacted by the fighting between the Arakan Army and Tatmadaw and the current COVID situation.  Yet, efforts are necessary to create conducive environment and an addendum to the HRP 2020 has been published on 17 July to counter this situation. However, implementation of written words remains the key.

On a long term basis there is a need to relax restrictions on freedom of movement, greater access to income generating activities and generating a lucid way to the citizenship question. Political will in this regard will be essential for a positive outcome to these solutions.

While the current COVID situation is taking a toll on member states yet ignoring the displaced or internally displaced population in need may not resolve anything but may create far reaching negative effect in near future. Thus, proper steps are essential to counter the situation.

Country Reports


Grim forecast for economy

The World Bank warned of a severely weakened economy due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on various spheres of life. As per the economic forecast shared by the institution, gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to contract between 5.5% and 7.4% in 2020, which would mean a 30% drop in government revenue collected. Donor countries are struggling to cope with their own pandemic-induced challenges at home, and uncertainty over peace talks is expected to stall private investment, said the World Bank.

US troop reduction on track

As mandated by the US-Taliban peace deal signed on 29 February, the US successfully reduced troop presence and vacated 5 military bases by the 135th day since the signing of the agreement. Taking to Twitter, Zalmay Khalilzad reiterated that the next phase of implementation of the agreement would remain contingent on the completion of the process of prisoner release, reduction in violence, an unequivocal commitment to counter terrorism and significant progress in intra-Afghan talks.


Flood affects millions

Nearly one and a half million people are affected by the floods caused by  heavy monsoon rains. Almost half of the country is affected by the floods impacting the lives and livelihood of the affected people.  Flood is an annual phenomenon in this deltaic country but challenges have been different due to the spread of the corona pandemic which has spread wide and deep in the country.

Transhipment with India

To strengthen maritime connectivity, a trial run was conducted between Kolkata and Chittagong ports. A ship named "MV Shejyoti" was flagged off from the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Port in Kolkata to Chittagong port with 108 containers. The move has brightened the prospect of the transhipment of goods into India’s north-eastern states via Bangladesh since it carried four cargo containers destined for the north-eastern states of Assam and Tripura. State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury observed that the beginning of the transhipment of Indian goods through Bangladeshi ports opens a new era of Indo-Bangla relations. He mentioned this during a webinar on 15 July on the India and Bangladesh relations. Notably, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the use of the Chattogram and Mongla ports in 2015.


New trade route with India

A new trade route with India was launched on 15 July connecting Ahlay, Pasakha Industrial Estate, bordering Jaigaon in India. The new trade route is expected to decongest vehicular traffic along the Jaigaon- Phuentsholing route and enable smoother trade of goods. India opened a land customs stationat Ahllay, Pasakha at the request of the Bhutanese government as part of the new land route.

King inspects pandemic impact

King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck returned to Thimphu on 15 July after completing a tour of eastern part of the country to inspect the impact and works related to COVID-19. The Prime Minister and the National Council Chairperson accompainedthe king on his visit.The King visited the eastern dzongkhags of Mongar, Lhuentse, Tashiyangtse, and Tashigangwhere besides meeting he COVID-19 task force teams, the king, lent a patient ear tofarmers, shopkeepers, and other members of the community to find out how the pandemic has impacted the livelihoods of the people.

Draft tourism policy soon

The draft tourism policy that aims to encourage spread of tourism activities in low footfall regions of Eastern and Southern Bhutan is likely to be finalized this month. Tourism is the worst affected sector in the Covid-19 pandemic and the government hopes to promote tourism as a year-round activity. Out of the 100,000 tourists that visited Bhutan during the six month tourist season, the western region- which mainly Paro, Thimphu and Punakha received the maximum footfall. Eastern and southern receive the least number of tourists.


Political crisis in Rajasthan

A political crisis has precipitated in the state of Rajasthan as Congress leader Sachin Pilot have rebelled against the incumbent Chief minister Ashok Ghelot. Mr Pilot is camping in Haryana with other MLAs who supports him. After appeals made to Mr Pilot to return to the state for talks, the Congress Legislative Party of Rajasthan removed Mr Pilot from the posts of deputy Chief Minister and State party chief and other two ministers close to Sachin was also sacked from the cabinet. Rajasthan speaker have issued notice to Mr Pilot and other 18 rebel MLAs for defying the party whip. Mr Ghelot is accusing Mr Pilot to conspire with the BJP for toppling his government. However, Mr Pilot have repeatedly maintained that he is not joining the BJP and is still with the Congress demanding justice for the humiliation meted out to him by Mr Ghelot.

‘Fruitful summit’ with EU

The 15th India-EU Summit took place virtual on 16 July which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The EU was represented by European Council President Charles Michael and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Mr Modi stated that the summit was “fruitful” and discussions on key issues like Covid19, multilateralism, trade and investment took place. Mr Modi also discussed the development regarding the ongoing India-China border dispute in the summit.


Tourism opens up

Even as the nation continues to fight Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism sector has opened up, with the planned arrival of a Qatar Airways flight on 15 July. The government said that nearly 100 of the 157 island-resorts across the country will reopen by the year-end, and hope to make up for a part of the lost tourist numbers the nation has a total of 2,913 confirmed and 543 active cases. Thus far, the country records 2,340 recoveries and 15 deaths.

Covid cases nearing 3,000

With identification of 19 new Covid-19 positive cases, including three Bangladeshis and one Sri Lankan the total in the country has reached 2930, with 546 active cases. Till date, the country recorded 2,354 recoveries and 15 fatalities. As one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Maldives' capital Malé recorded a significant increase in in the first weeks following the first confirmed local transmission on April 15. After recording low numbers for several weeks, the recent spike of virus cases has reduced the total amount of recovered patients from 86 to 80 percent. The number of Covid-19 cases increased after the State-initiated efforts to steer the country towards a 'new normal' with the phased easing of lockdown restrictions across the Greater Male' Region.


Taiwan allows students to return

Myanmar has been added to a list of countries and territories classified as having a low or low-to-moderate risk of Covid-19 infection by Taiwan's Central Emergency Command Centre (CECC). This means that some international students from those nations who were enrolled in Taiwan universities will be allowed to return. According to Taiwan Ministry, 431 international students have been given permission to return to Taiwan to complete their studies. With a total of 19 countries and territories on the list, some 6,795 international students who had been unable to return became eligible to do so.

Off-grid solar programme

The World Bank, through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), has cleared a $3.45 million grant to help the Government of Myanmar finance an off-grid solar programme. The signing of the Results-Based Financing for Off-grid Solar grant agreement will enable more than 450,000 people in rural Myanmar to gain access to clean energy for the first time. The programme is co-funded by the Global Partnership for Results Based Approaches (GPRBA) and the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP).


Loans at 5 pc interest

The new monetary policy for 2020-21 was disclosed by the Nepal Rashtra Bank, mainly directing towards getting relief from Covid-19. All the affected sectors were assured of support with job-creation and liquidity management. Loans at five per cent interest rate for many sectors were guaranteed. There was also mention of keeping the inflation rate for the next fiscal year at seven per cent and maintain foreign exchange reserve among several other points.

Travel costs for migrants

As several Nepali nationals are still stranded abroad, the government has decided to bear the expense of bringing them back. This decision was mainly made after the Supreme Court issued an interim order to the government to use the foreign employment welfare fund to help the migrants, living in vulnerable conditions.


Consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav         

Pakistan has offered third consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav to Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The access this time will be given without presence of any security guard confirmed by Foreign Office (FO) of Pakistan. The FO also added that the consular access is a goodwill gesture. However, the response from New Delhi is still awaited. The move comes after two officials from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad were given consular access to Jadhav at the request of New Delhi. The two officials left without meeting him as they were not provided “unimpeded” consular access. These developments came after Jadhav turned down an offer to file a review petition. It is pertinent to mention here that last date for review petition against the ordinance promulgated by Islamabad High court is 19 July.

TTP leader in UN sanction list

Pakistan as well as the United States have hailed the decision of United Nations’ Security Council (UNSC) to add Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief, on its sanctions list. TTP is already a designated terrorist organisation by UN after it was found responsible for numerous attacks in Pakistan. Hailing the decision of UNSC, Pakistan said it "will continue to pursue its policy of fighting against those involved in participating, financing, planning, facilitating and perpetrating terrorism". On the other hand, the US State Department welcomed the decision of the UNSC stating that TTP was responsible for many deadly terrorist acts in Pakistan. The State Department also added that Noor Wali was already designated as terrorist by the US in September last year.

Sri Lanka

No ‘second wave’: PM

There is no ‘second wave’ of Covid-19 pandemic in the country, and the spread is now ‘under control’ with effective counter-measures in place, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has said. "Some people are spreading rumours that our country is on the threshold of a fresh wave of the disease. The public need not have any fears on that score as there is no room for such an eventuality,” he said. It was true that 533 new Covid-19 positive patients were discovered from the Kandakadu Rehabilitation and Treatment Centre, but these cases were confined to the facility and didn’t emerge from within the community, he clarified asking people not to panic as appropriate counter measures were being adopted.

Greater challenge: President

The current challenges faced by the country was 10 times greater because of the Covid19 pandemic than when compared with the challenges he encountered when taking over the administration, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said. But that he would face the situation with more vigour, he said. “Developing the economy means raising the living standards of the people,” President Rajapaksa said adding that a development plan should be drafted with the aim of achieving this target.



Opinion Pieces

Randy Ziffer, “In Afghanistan, No One Owns the Night Anymore”, International Policy Digest, 15 July 2020

Mohammad ZahirAkbari, “The Root of Afghanistan’s Crisis from the Perspective of Political Psychology”, The Daily Outlook Afghanistan, 14 July 2020


The Middle East North Africa Financial Network, “Stabbing in the Back?”, 15 July 2020

The Daily Outlook Afghanistan, “Scuttling Intra-Afghan Dialogue will have Horrible Consequences”, 15 July 2020


Opinion Pieces

Md. Nazmul Huda & Md Kamrul Hasan, “Is it still possible for Bangladesh to contain Covid-19?”, The Daily Star, 17 July 2020

Tamim Sujat, “Digital Bangladesh Needs Digital Currency”, The Daily Star, 16 July 2020


Dhaka Tribune, “Next time, we must do better”, 16 July 2020

The Daily Star, “Child marriage has spiked during the pandemic”, 14 July 2020


Opinion Pieces

Bertil Lintner, “Why China wants a Himalayan dispute with Bhutan”, Asia Times, 13 July 2020

Sonam Tshering, “Striking a balance between free speech and right to a fair trial”, Kuensel, 11 July 2020


Kuensel, “The pandemic is still major threat”, 17 July 2020

The Bhutanese, “COVID-19 Threat”, 11 July 2020


Opinion Pieces

Mahesh Gopalan, “The lost voice of Indian university”, The Hindu, 17 July 2020.

Gopalkrishna Gandhi, “The Congress is not meant to die or wither away. It must change”, hindustantimes, 17 July 2020.

Kaleeswaram Raj, “In a different epoch”, The Telegraph, 13 July 2020

Shaoni Shabnam, “Power and perversity”, The Telegraph, 13 July 2020


The Indian Express, “State of deluge”, 17 July 2020

The Indian Express, “All that glitters”, 16 July 2020

The Hindu, “Inflation alert: On rising prices”, 16 July 2020

The Hindu, “A crisis in pause: on Rajasthan Congress rebellion”, 14 July 2020


Opinion Pieces

Khady Hamid and Mariyam Mohamed, “Truly essential, but still invisible”, The Edition, 18 July 2020


Opinion Pieces

Tony Picon and Stuart Deed, “More Paper shuffling than progress?”, The Myanmar Times, 17 July 2020

Joe Kumbun,“Myanmar’s Jade-Rich Hpakant Caught in a ‘Winner’s Curse’”, The Irrawaddy, 13 July 2020


The Irrawaddy, “Weapons Seized in Mae Sot Destined for Myanmar’s Rakhine State: Intelligence Sources”, 15 July 2020


Opinion Pieces

Bhairab Raj Kaini, “Has Nepali agriculture collapsed?” Republica, 17 July 2020

Madhukar Upadhya, “The invisible pandemic”, The Kathmandu Post, 16 July 2020

Pramod Bhattarai, “Role of civil society during the pandemic”, Republica, 16 July 2020


The Kathmandu Post, “Restore it right”, 16 July 2020

The Kathmandu Post “Blood on the hills”, 15 July 2020


Opinion Pieces

Fahd Husain, “Our aviation mess”, Dawn, 18 July 2020

Irfan Husian, “The right to rule”, Dawn, 17 July 2020

Imran Jan, “Delaying peace in Afghanistan”, The Express Tribune, 15 July 2020

Talat Masood, “The importance of US elections”, The Express Tribune, 14 July 2020

M Ziauddin, “Post pandemic positives?”, The Express Tribune, 18 July 2020


Dawn, “Jadhav affair”, 18 July 2020

Dawn, “Hindutva fascism”, 18 July 2020

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Udiihya Devapirya, “SJB and its repeated bomb-shells”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 July 2020

D B S Jeyaraj, “CWC, Jeevan Thondaman and Nuwara Eliya Tamils”, Daily Mirror Online, 18 July 2020

M S M Ayub, “Northern politics revolve around only one issue”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 July 2020

Rohana R Wasala, “The good, bad and ugly”, The Island, 17 July 2020

Dr Upali Wijayawardana, “Democracy, intelligentsia and the masses”, The Island, 17 July 2020

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Sri Lanka to review Inida’s role in Colombo Port terminal”,, 17 July 2020

Malinda Seneviratne, “Whither SJB and the SJB”, Daily Mirror Online, 16 July 2020

D Godage, “East Container Terminal and national interest”, The Island, 14 July 2020

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Can TNA make it big in parliamentary polls?”, Ceylon Today, 14 July 2020

Jehan Perera, “Elections without postponement necessary to meet challenges”, The Island, 14 July 2020

N Sathiya Moorthy, “Can Covid impact on the polls?”, Colombo Gazette, 13 July 2020


Kamanthi Wickremesinghe, “The UNP is a party that can stand on its own: Ruwan Wijewardene”, Daily Mirror Online, 17 July 2020

Piyumi Fonseka & Kalani Kumarasinghe, “Women are treated as second-class citizens: Hirunika Premachandra”, Daily Mirror Online, 16 July 2020

Piyumi Fonseka & Kalani Kumarasinghe, “People should accept me for who I am: Jeevan Thondaman”, Daily Mirror Online, 12 July 2020


Afghanistan: Shubhangi Pandey

Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee

Bhutan: Mihir Bhonsale

India: Ambar Kumar Ghosh

Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy

Myanmar: Sreeparna Banerjee

Nepal: Sohini Nayak

Pakistan: Ayjaz Wani

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.