MonitorsPublished on Feb 05, 2020
South Asia Weekly Report | Volume XIII; 5

India: Assessing the impact of a polarised democracy discourse

Ambar Kumar Ghosh The recent incident in the national Capital in which a person suddenly fired bullet on the students of Jamia Milia Islamia University, who were protesting against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), makes it an imperative to take a pause and reflect on the evolving politico-societal discourse in India. This incident despite its obnoxiousness is not an isolated incident in the recent times. The gruesome attack on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus by unidentified miscreants and the brutal act of violence in a pro-CAA rally in Jharkhand are other testimonies of a deep rooted fissure that is engulfing the political discourse of India. The imperatives of the very nature of an electoral democracy create an environment conducive for political competition. Such a competition entails contestation of ideas, opinions, policies and perspectives. The differences of opinion between various political constituencies and outfits are a sine qua non of a healthy functioning democracy. It is these different outlooks propounded by various political groupings that enable them to carve out a distinctive political appeal of their own for electorally mobilising the people. Many a time, such political appeals are defined and articulated in opposition to the outlook and the ideas of the political adversaries in the electoral fray. Such distinctive political appeals based on different trajectories of nation building and development, facilitates the voters to make their choices in tandem with their ideological and political proclivities during the elections. Hence, the presence of multiple, often contradictory, ideas of politics and society for galvanising public support becomes the hallmark of a thriving pluralist democracy.

Multiple ideas

However, such presence of multiple ideas and ideologies of organising politics and society and accordingly envisaging the national identity, sometimes posits the risk of creating a polarised political environment which has the tendency of belittling and even demonizing the other political ideas and opinions espoused by the opposing political outfits. Such sharp polarization of the political discourse creates two interrelated debilitating trends much to the detriment of the healthy and open democratic environment. First, the creation of a perception that any political idea or opinion that exists outside one’s own conception of politics and nation building is unacceptable and is a threat to the very existence of the nation or society is problematic. If every political ideology or idea within a democratic discourse holds a hegemonic and infallible view of their political ideas and consider them to be sacrosanct in an absolutist sense of the term, the room of negotiations and dialogue across the political spectrum appears bleak. In a multi-party federal polity like India with vast territorial expanse and very complex diverse societal fabric, a constant dialogue and negotiation between the disparate and opposing political groupings is indispensable. If the ideational and policy related differences between the political adversaries within a democratic context are exacerbated to a point of irreconcilable rift, the political discourse becomes inevitably polarised and virulent in nature. If every political grouping dismisses all alternative views on politics and society as detrimental and immoral in nature, then the democratic discourse gradually erodes its accommodativeness. As the result, the narrative of politics becomes reduced to rigid binaries of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘moral’ or ‘immoral’, ‘divisive’ or ‘integrative and ‘nationalist’ or ‘anti-national’.  This creates the rhetoric of the intolerable “other” in the narrative of democratic discourse that polarises the environment into rigid opinions towards the political adversaries and their ideas.

Violence as a consequence

Coming close to heels with the prejudiced perception of the other, comes the possibility of aggravating of such prejudice into visceral hatred towards the political “other”. And, if the emotive appeal to the mass regarding such prejudices and differences are exaggerated and blown out of proportion by the political actors, such hatred might spill over in form of physical violence and bloodshed. As the political interactions within a democratic framework involves the mass, instigating and pandering the sensitivities of the people beyond a certain point, can have catastrophic and unintended consequences for the societal stability and healthy democratic establishment. If the perception of the people on the other side of the political spectrum gets transformed into something that is unbearable and detrimental to the nation and society, the urge to eliminate the political adversary might appear irresistible. That would become the tipping point for the radicalisation of the democratic discourse where mere political differences in opinion will be seen as pertinent grounds for jeopardising the adversary’s public stature and even resort to physical violence that might take a toll on human lives.

Need for accommodation

Therefore, it is incumbent upon the political actors in every functioning democracy to take cognizance of the fact that how threatening unabashed polarization of the political discourse might become. As India thrives as a robust multi-party democracy with humongous diversity, unrestricted polarisation of the political discourse into rigid binaries might spell danger for the nation’s stability and tranquillity. On the one hand, it is incumbent upon the political elites cutting across political divides, to exercise restraint in polarising the socio-political narratives so that the perception towards the political adversary who are their fellow citizens do not turn into visceral hatred or enmity. On the other hand, the electorates with the aid of civil society and well-meaning thought leaders and opinion makers also must deploy their own sense of judgment before drawing sweeping prejudiced conclusion against their fellow citizens merely at the behest of political propaganda and mobilisation tactics. As the Indian political discourse is witnessing spasms of violent political interactions, time is ripe to prevail upon all the stakeholders of society to come together and temper the political narrative so that it becomes more accommodative of differences and recognize the indispensability of dialogue with the political “other” for the sake of a vibrant democracy.

Sri Lanka: Working the India chemistry right

N Sathiya Moorthy In the new Foreign Secretary of India, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Sri Lanka’s incumbent leadership has an old hand working with them. Shringla was heading the Division within the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that dealt with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives (BSM). Today, the division has been restructured and recast as a separate division for the immediate Indian Ocean Region (IOR) neighbourhood. The division now comprises Sri Lanka, Maldives and India’s other southern sea-borne neighbours like Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros Islands, and French Reunion, as a sign of New Delhi’s increasing interests in and concerns over the larger Indo-Pacific periphery. One thing is becoming clear with this increased Indian approach to the Indian Ocean. That Sri Lanka has become a greater pivot in this Indian re-structuring of the IOR division first and the recent expansion, to include nations from Madagascar to Sri Lanka. From an opposite perspective, Sri Lanka’s importance in India’s geo-strategic approach to the larger Indian Ocean neighbourhood might have diminished – if anyone wanted to say so. The truth lies in between, though in favour of the former. It is here that both policy formulation and implementation on the one hand, and personal chemistry among leaders and institutions in the two countries assumes greater significance for both. Despite differences and distinctions within various levels, institutional arrangements, acceptance and acknowledgement have remained intact and have also grown from time to time. If there is a setback, it has not meant the two or either of them having to go to beginning at the beginning. Things might seem static at one point, but there was always the ease and poise for both to rediscover each other, revive old ties with the same enthusiasm and elan, as if nothing had gone wrong between the two, in the interim.

Form, not norm

Following the neighbourhood’s unwritten form – as against norm – Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa chose New Delhi as his first overseas destination. So did his Foreign Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena. So will do Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had followed the courtesy when elected President for the first time in end-2005. This is true of India’s other Indian Ocean neighbour, Maldives, too. The Indian strategic community cannot expect similar courtesies from the ‘new neighbours’ who have been added onto the MEA’s IOR Division. Will it then dilute the continuing gestures from the existing neighbours, or will the latter continue with past gestures of the kind? Would the Indian strategic community look askance if future leaders of Maldives and Sri Lanka, for instance, were to break the practice? It would be one thing if they were to choose an anti-India Pakistan or adversarial Sri Lanka for their first overseas stop-over, but still be an entirely different proposition if they were to go to a third nation within the region or elsewhere. The Indian strategic community was upset when Afghan President Ashraff Ghani chose China for his first overseas destination in office. They were first upset that it was not India, but they were even more upset when it happened to be China. It was in the case of the Nepali leadership, too, where however they acquiesced to the common ‘leftist’ ideology – yet, the rancour remained. The reverse is truer in the case of Indian Prime Ministers’ choice of their first overseas destination in power. They have invariably stuck to the neighbourhood, though there is more than one nation in South Asia for him or her to choose from. Yet, not has Sri Lanka, for instance, been even in consideration, for full 25 years and more, no Indian Prime Minister – and there were many -- after Rajiv Gandhi, in 1987, thought it necessary to visit Colombo on a bilateral even once, until incumbent Modi did in March 2015. No member of the Indian strategic community had anything to say on it, other than parroting the official line that it was unwise for an Indian leader to visit Sri Lanka at the height of the ‘ethnic war’. The question would also remain if Modi too would have visited Sri Lanka as what was originally planned to be a four-nation, Indian Ocean neighbourhood visit (Maldives was dropped from the list) if there was no ‘regime-change’ in Colombo. Or, India has not done, nor has Indian strategic community, said anything to erase such impressions and perceptions in Colombo.


Unlike nations like Nepal and even the democratic monarchy of Bhutan, Sri Lanka, along with Maldives, have evolved a governmental system, where the topman decides – though after hearing out his aides and advisors. It’s like the Nehruvian era in the past and the continuing ‘Modi magic’ in India. It has been true of Maldives, where the 20-long-year Ibrahim Nasir regime followed by 30 years of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, institutionalised the governmental apparatus. In the case of Sri Lanka and Maldives, size too matter, though both, unlike the erstwhile Nepalese monarchy, now are democracies in their own right. Nowhere else is such top-centric decision-making process worked even for Sri Lanka than in foreign and security policy, more so under the erstwhile Rajapaksa regime of President Mahinda R (2005-15). It also owed to the need for greater cohesion and coordination between the foreign and military policy-makers during the long years of ‘ethnic war’, where the Rajapaksas entered with the resolve to finish off the LTTE in their time in office. The top-centric decision-making in Sri Lanka, especially the Rajapaksas, when it became all too visible, also owed to the apprehension of non-elite, rustic  rural political leadership of the State administration, that was on the backfoot all the time since the turn of the 20th century and continued through in the post-Independence era. There was the inherent apprehension that the urban elite that manned the policy-making tools and arms of the Government would thwart all their attempts to think and work differently. It went beyond the BBC’s ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ tele-serial was scripted, and bordered on utter contempt for the non-elitist political leadership, even if it had won a massive electoral victory as the Rajapaksas have done on their return now. It is going to be so even otherwise, as the rival UNP, the nation’s GoP, is going through an unprecedented political crisis, which is slipping beyond personality issues and backgrounds. The emergence of Sajith Premadasa, the party’s defeated presidential nominee, as the alternate power-centre to the urban elite in lost Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, may have a long story to tell. That the Premadasas too come from the southern-most Ruhuna-Hambantota district is only a coincidence. Predecessor President Maithripala Sirisena too had a rural background, and his problems with PM Wickremesinghe owed also to this aspect of the urban-rural elitist divide.

Adjustment problems

Establishment Sri Lanka may have to walk another mile, which might still keep receding, despite the changes initiated by the Rajapaksas in their long, earlier innings and continued, even if partly, under successor President Sirisena. It would even be foreign governments like that of the Indian neighbour, who too need to make the required re-adjustments, if they have to understand the other, and also communicate with the other. It is in this background, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa talked about the need for the two nations to revive ‘troika-approach’ to problem-solving, which worked for both, especially his nation, during the war years. It involved three top officials of the three governments taking decisions at their levels after consultations with their political leaderships. From the Sri Lankan side, President Gota Rajapaksa was a member of the team, as the then Defence Secretary. However, he has not since mentioned the ‘troika’, nor has PM Mahinda, after the Rajapaksas returned to power. If they would propose the same after the Sri Lankan parliamentary polls, which is due later this year remains to be seen.

VVIP visit

In between, Establishment India should consider if PM Modi, or any other VVIP in his place, should be visiting Sri Lanka, pending the parliamentary polls in that nation. If the argument against such a course is the possibility of the Rajapaksas’ rivals winning the parliamentary polls and the prime ministerial office, it is also the reason why an early Indian VVIP visit could set the tone for the post-poll future. Like counterparts in the neighbourhood, India needs to deal with the Government that the people in those nations choose. Establishment India should acknowledge this fact. If Sri Lanka were to elect a Rajapaksa rival as Prime Minister, it is for them to work out the finer details of co-existence. It could well mean that by extending arguments of the kind that had kept Indian VVIPs off Sri Lanka on bilaterals for a quarter century and more, come back to play, all over again. Given the nature of government apparatus in a neighbourhood nation like Sri Lanka, and the personalised style of decision-making in such countries, Establishment India needs to consider the need – as against wisdom – of having to deal with persons, not institutions of the Indian MEA/MoD kind. At the Kathmandu SAARC Summit, after announcing early presidential elections in Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa had PM Modi extending best wishes for a third poll victory in a row – which was also against the SAARC norms. Post-polls, Rajapaksa mentioned Indian agencies as among the global agencies that had contributed to the ‘regime-change’ in Sri Lanka.

Country Reports


Taliban assaults police base

In the early hours of 28 January, Taliban insurgents raided the police post in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital city of the province of Baghlan, eventually capturing the post after killing over a dozen policemen. Although there are conflicting reports on the total number of police casualties, the provincial police spokesperson confirmed that the attack killed the post commander and resulted in heavy casualties on both sides.

Hostages rescued

A contingent of four helicopters carrying 50 Afghan Special Forces commandos successfully executed a targeted rescue mission that freed 62 hostages from the Taliban prison in Bala Murghab, located in the Badghis province. The commandos sealed off the Taliban compound upon touch down, and killed around 8 Taliban fighters, while taking 5 of them in custody, as stated by Maj. Sayed Rahimullah, the Afghan Special Forces commando who led the raid.

US plane crashes

The US military confirmed that one of their military jets crashed in Taliban-controlled territory in eastern Afghanistan, on 27 January. Although the cause of crash is being investigated, US officials suspect mechanical failure behind the downing of the military communications plane. They have also refuted two Taliban claims; one, that the plane was shot down by the insurgent group, and two, the crash resulted in a high death toll.


Pak for better people-to-people ties

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, Pakistan’s envoy to Bangladesh, has said that his country wants to enhance “people-to-people” contacts with Dhaka.  The enjoy said in addition to government-to-government ties, his efforts will be to promote and strengthen people-to-people contact as well as bilateral, economic, trade and cultural ties between our two countries. He further observed that he had sensed a similar desire among the people and the government of Bangladesh.

Monitoring India developments

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan informed that government is closely monitoring the developments in India following the enactment of the Citizen Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.  The Minister further added that measures would be taken as per the international laws and border laws, if necessary. The Minister commented in response to a question raised by a Member of Parliament (MP) of the ruling party.  Recently, India has amended Citizenship act to ease laws of providing citizenship by naturalisation to members of religious groups including Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who have been living in India as refugees to escape persecution.

Funds without tags

Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen informed that the country needs resources for development for implementing its eighth five-year plan that is beginning from next fiscal year (1st of July to 30 June next year).  Further, Minister opined that the assistance should be with limited conditions attached.  He observed the closing ceremony of the two-day Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF), a biennial gathering of development partners and government policymakers.

Educating Rohingya kids

The government decided to allow the Rohingya children living in refugee camps to receive formal education, a move welcomed by rights activists and the United Nations. In a pilot programme, involving around 10,000 children will be launched soon.  The children will be taught Myanmar’s history and culture up to age 14. Besides, skills training will be imparted so they can get employment on their return to Myanmar. Earlier, the government had barred the children receiving formal curriculums taught in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Either the children used to receive education in temporary learning centres established in UNICEF or Madrasas (Islamic religious school) run by various religious groups.


135 women suffering in Iraq

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) contacted 135 Bhutanese women currently working in Iraq. The ministry is working with the Iraqi government to bring back all Bhutanese workers there who want to return home. In the third week of January, the government rescued two girls bound for Iraq from a hotel in Delhi. The government has also sought for assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). With the help of IOM, the girls can be brought back if they were taken illegally, as it is also illegal to stay in Iraq.

Tackling coronavirus

As the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) spread to 14 countries as of 29 January since the outbreak was first reported, Bhutan put in place measures to prevent the virus from entering the country. The health ministry assured the public that it has instituted necessary measures at various points of entry, has identified health facilities and response teams in case of an outbreak in the country.

Economic roadmap

Despite efforts to substitute import with local products, manufacturers in the country are dying a slow death. Business is worst among the local manufacturers of construction materials. Market, even within the country remains limited with people importing almost every material from outside. Even as the government plans to fast track the establishment of industrial parks, local manufacturers, the primary clients of the facility are uncertain of its future. There is lack of confidence on local products, especially the construction materials among Bhutanese. People are seen importing the same construction materials produced by Bhutanese manufacturers from dealers outside the country.


Budget session begins

The budget session of Parliament commenced on 31 January with the President’s address to the both houses of the Parliament. The budget has been presented on 1 February by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The government has listed 45 legislations to be cleared during this Budget Session. Out of these, 28 are new and 17 are pending in either of the Houses. The new Bills include Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill, which was cleared by Union Cabinet.

Plea against RTI changes

The Supreme Court of India agreed to examine a petition filed by Congress parliamentarian Jairam Ramesh challenging the amendments made to the Right to Information Act in 2019 which gives the government the power to decide the tenure, salaries and service terms of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at its will. A judicial Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud issued formal notice to the government on the petition filed by Mr. Ramesh. The petition argued that the RTI Amendment Act of 2019 and its Rules squanders the independence of the Central Information Commission (CIC), the top adjudicatory body under the Act, by directly bringing it under the jurisdiction of the government.


Jail ‘hampers politics’

In what reads like a loaded statement viz her own ruling MDP, Defence Minister and one-time party chairperson, Mariya Didi has taken a dig at the Opposition PPM-NPC, saying that a party that needs a certain person to run it, cannot call itself a political party. She was responding to a court statement by jailed former President and PPM-NPC boss, Abdulla Yameen, that his continued imprisonment was hampering party activities ahead of the 4 April island council polls. The prosecution however told the court that a jailed leader cannot lead a political party – after a law that Yameen had passed when in power, to deny present-day Parliament Speaker Mohammed Nasheed from heading the MDP when the latter was jailed in the ‘Judge Abdulla abduction case’.

Health and safety first: President

Chairing a high-level meeting on the nation’s preparedness to face of coronavirus, President Ibrahim Solih has said that the health and safety of Maldivians, nearer home and overseas, and those of tourists to the country should receive top priority. At the meeting, the President also got updated on the health condition of Maldivians overseas, including China, where the virus has erupted but was spreading elsewhere, too.


Building relations with US

United States Ambassador Ambassador Marciel, in a public discussion on U.S.-Myanmar relations with the United States at the American Center Yangon, moderated by Nyantha Maw Lin, Managing Partner of The Burgundy Hills Company, stressed that contrary to perceptions, Washington is continuing its strong engagement with Myanmar, despite the fallout over the Rakhine crisis, and the imposition of targeted sanctions against military personnel. The United States investment in Myanmar reached more than 1.5 billion US$, said the U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar during the policy discussion.  However, the official investment number of United States for Myanmar was low.

Tourism industry hit

At the end of last year, the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism said the number of foreign arrivals, including business travellers and border traders, rose by 23 percent to 4.36 million, up from 3.55 million the previous year. But the upward momentum of the industry took a big hit with the recent outbreak of the new coronavirus in China. Government data showed that Chinese nationals accounted for nearly a third of the over two million tourists who visited the country last year, a 152pc increase from the previous year.


New Indian Ambassador

The Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, India, recently announced the appointment of Vinay Mohan Kwatra as the new ambassador of India to Nepal. He will be replacing Manjeev Singh Puri. At present, Kwatra is the ambassador to France. Given India’s present border dispute between the two countries, a new diplomatic channel may be created for dialogue.

Promoting competitive market

An amendment has been brought about to the Competition Promotion and Market Protection Act, 2007 to do away with ‘collusion of traders’ in the country. A dedicated panel shall also be created to look after the inherent dynamics of the market. This would also help in dealing with unscrupulous activities thereby helping in maintaining fare trade.


Retort to Modi remarks

The Foreign Office on Wednesday rejected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "belligerent rhetoric" against Pakistan, stating that his recent remarks of Indian forces being capable of making Pakistan "bite the dust" in less than 10 days were a "reflection of India’s incurable obsession” with Pakistan. The FO in response to Modi's remarks has urged the international community to "take cognisance of Indian leadership’s continuing belligerent rhetoric and aggressive posturing, which pose a threat to regional peace and security". A warning has also been issued to New Delhi not to under-estimate Pakistan’s armed forces

Dual nationality talks with Turkey

Pakistan and Turkey are mulling over providing dual nationality to the citizens of the two countries. According to Pakistan Interior Ministry, the plan is under consideration after the meeting between Interior Minister Brigadier Ijaz Shah (Retd.) and Turkish Ambassador to Islamabad Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul on Thursday. The proposal came form Turkish Ambassador on behalf of the Turkish government. The interior ministry of Pakistan said the draft is under consideration and both countries are expected to reach a mutual conclusion soon. The plan of dual nationality comes before the scheduled visit of Turkish president to Pakistan.

Support for Palestinians

Pakistan on Wednesday backed Palestine's demand for making Jerusalem as the capital of its independent state after President Donald Trump presented his Middle East Plan. Trump’s announcement unveiled the long-awaited details of the US’ plan for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, warning it may represent the last chance at statehood for Palestinians. The plan proposes to allow the Palestinians to establish a capital on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, but would leave most of the city under Israeli control. However, the foreign office (FO) clarifies that while Pakistan has consistently supported a two-state solution, as enshrined in the relevant Security Council and the General Assembly Resolution, it wants the establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of internationally-agreed parameters.

Sri Lanka

UNP patch-up?

With leadership dead-lock continuing in the Opposition UNP ahead of the parliamentary polls, due later this year, party Leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe re-constituted the working committee, which even otherwise was loaded in his favour, and obtained attestation for his continuance at the helm. The working committee meeting also resolved to name the party’s failed presidential nominee Sajith Premadasa as the leader of the UNP-UNF electoral alliance and to name his as the prime ministerial candidate of the combine. With Preamadasa and his limited number of supporters boycotting the meeting, the Ranil leadership has made the offer more palatable to the Premadasa camp, giving the latter full powers on UNP candidate-selection, and campaign, obviously waiting until after the parliamentary polls to address the leadership issue. However, the Sajith camp is yet to respond to the revised Ranil offer.

Chinese aid?

The Chinese government would provide a soft loan of $350-400 million to fund the fourth plant at the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant Complex, according to official sources. Though the Finance Ministry had recommended involvement of Independent Power Producers (IIP), the proposal has not found favour elsewhere as the other three Norochcholai plants are funded by China and are in control of the public sector CEB. Even a joint venture between the two governments would not work as it would not tantamount to an IIP precisely for the same reason.



Opinion Pieces

Todd South, “Bean counters, not bullets, are key to Afghanistan’s future”, Military Times, 30 January 2020 Shubhangi Pandey, “The Dilemma of Differing Positions on Peace”, Observer Research Foundation, 28 January 2020 Mohammad Zahir Akbari, “Afghanistan-India Relations: A Good Example Among Regional Countries”, The Daily Outlook Afghanistan, 29 January 2020


The Daily Outlook Afghanistan, “Afghans Sustained Heavy Casualties Last Year”, 30 January 2020 Afghanistan Times, “HPC in the doldrums”, 29 January 2020


Opinion Pieces

Kamal Ahmed, “Dhaka’s crucial role in enforcing ICJ ruling”, The Daily Star, 31 January 2020 Mir Aftabuddin Ahmed, “The dominance of business elites in the political economy”, The Daily Star, 29 January 2020 Ali Riaz, “ICJ Ruling on Rohingya: Where do we go from here?”,The Daily Star, 26 January 2020


The Daily Star, “First EVM-only polls”, 30 January 2020


Opinion Pieces

Sonam Tshering, “Of separation of power and tussle between the legislature and judiciary”, Kuensel, 25 January 2020


Kuensel, “How Bhutan is looking at tackling coronavirus”, 30 January 2020


Opinion Pieces

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, “Incitements by BJP leaders aim to polarise society, create violent identities — not just win elections”, The Indian Express, 1 February 2020 Ananya Bajpeyi, “Symbols and Slogans of Substance”, The Hindu, 31 January 2020 Rajendran Narayanan, “For the rural poor, a manufactured crisis”, The Hindu, 31 January 2020 Muchkund Dubey, “Time to prioritise education and health”, The Hindu, 30 January 2020


The Hindu, “Unfounded optimism: On Economic Survey’s GDP forecast”, 1 February 2020 The Hindu, “India abroad: On diplomats firefighting negative references to India”, 1 February 2020 The Hindu, “Capital campaign: On Delhi Assembly election”, 31 January 2020


Opinion Pieces

Ashley South, “Ethnic Voters Face Disenfranchisement in Myanmar's 2020 Election”, The Irrawaddy, 29 January 2020 Rurik Marsden, “UKaid reaffirms support for education”, The Myanmar Times, 24 January 2020 Sebastian Sahla, “It’s time for the Myanmar government to disclose oil and mining contracts”, The Myanmar Times


Opinion Pieces

Chandan Sapkota, “Nepal's industrial sector is underperforming”, The Kathmandu Post, 31 January 2020 Udayan Regmi, “Preventing medical negligence”, Republica, 30 January 2020 Kalyan Bhandari, “Visit Nepal 2020 could be the biggest embarrassment for this government”, The Kathmandu Post, 29 January 2020


The Himalayan Times, “Sustainable conservation: Possible only when the locals benefit”, 31 January 2020 The Kathmandu Post, “Local judicial committees lack the expertise to resolve disputes”, 30 January 2020


Opinion Pieces

Najmuddin A. Shaikh, “Our Afghan policy” Dawn, 30 January 2020 Ashaar Rehman, “Imagine, just imagine” Dawn, 31 January 2020


The Express Tribune, Modi’s belligerence, 31 January 2020 Dawn, Indian bellicosity, 31 January 2020

Sri Lanka

Opinion Pieces

Patali Champika Ranavaka, “Tale of Ravana and Vijaya: Reality or fabrication?”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 February 2020 Udhith Devapriya, “Defusing ethnic bomb before it goes boom”, Daily Mirror Online, 1 February 2020 Justice Chandradasa Nanayakara, “Attacks on Judiciary in recent times”, Daily Mirror Online, 31 January 2020 Neville Laduwahetty, “Geneva: Lessons not learnt”, The Island, 31 January 2020 Lynn Ockresz, “Positive ties with India, a key foreign policy focus for SL”, The Island, 30 January 2020 N Sathiya Moorthy, “End of an era or a new beginning”, Ceylon Today, 28 January 2020 Jehan Perera, “Adopt a problem solving approach for the north”, The Island, 28 January 2020 N Sathiya Moorthy, “Where from here US-Sri Lanka relations”, Colombo Gazette, 27 January 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
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