MonitorsPublished on Jul 25, 2014
If anyone in southern Tamil Nadu, or across the Palk Strait in Sri Lanka, thought that there would be a grandiose shift in India's policy towards the southern Sri Lankan neighbour under a new, BJP dispensation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a lie to their hopes and claims.
Sri Lanka: Why Modi Govt should build on inherited policy
< class="heading1">Analysis

If anyone in southern Tamil Nadu, or across the Palk Strait in Sri Lanka, thought that there would be a grandiose shift in India’s policy towards the southern Sri Lankan neighbour under a new, BJP dispensation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a lie to their hopes and claims. By referring to the need for the Sri Lankan Government to do more on reconciliation and ’go beyond the Thirteenth Amendment’ in finding a political solution in his maiden meeting with visiting President Mahinda Rajapaksa in New Delhi, PM Modi indicated a continuance in the Government of India’s policy on the vexatious ethnic issue on the island-nation, change of Indian leadership no bar.

PM Modi’s talks with President Rajapaksa was preceded a day earlier by the happy occasion of the SAARC Heads of Government participating at his swearing-in, the first of its kind not only for India but in South Asia as a whole. He has since expanded on his broad-based theme of greater SAARC cooperation to specific areas such as launching a ’SAARC satellite’ and ’SAARC Bank’. For his part, President Rajapaksa twice earlier at SAARC Summits had referred to the need for an early adoption of a ’SAARC currency’. The enthusiasm died down in the aftermath of the ’euro crisis’ elsewhere but in the South Asian context, a SAARC currency should still not be a closed chapter.

PM Modi seems wanting to build on the small and often unnoticed initiatives on the South Asian front by predecessor Manmohan Singh. The Singh Government reorganised the South Asia Desk in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) without any fanfare, aimed at better coordination in the formulation and implementation of India’s neighbourhood policy and programmes, particularly pertaining to southern neighbours Sri Lanka and Maldives. The aim was also to bring in both Mauritius and Seychelles, relatively distant yet otherwise proximate neighbours in the Indian Ocean. The Singh era also witnessed the setting up of the SAARC University at Delhi, the initiative taken by India at the Colombo Summit of 2008. Other initiatives were to follow.

Like American Presidents of a bygone era, PM Modi now seems to be making neighbourhood consolidation one of the main focus areas of his first term in office. There is also a genuine need for doing so early on if India were to continue aspiring for a greater regional role, and build upon it a global role to call its own. The post-War experience of the 20th century showed that super-powers began with keeping their neighbourhoods on their side. The US did it through persuasion and partnership - and still remains a ’super-power’. The Soviet Union took a harsher route (for the neighbours). Not only its super-power status but even the Soviet Union is gone.

In contemporary context, India seems wanting to take the slow but steady American route of super-power status. In comparison - and only in comparison - China seems to be following the ’Soviet model’. It is becoming increasingly assertive in the South China Sea and East China Sea, as if it were making an ’arrival statement’. It has consequences that the once-inward-looking China which alone facilitated its current status may still not be able to handle after a point. India’s silent initiatives of the past blossoming in time to become positive gestures at PM Modi’s hands and in his time make the point. So does China’s unwillingness to amicably resolve territorial disputes with sea-bound neighbours in particular, but so do with India.

Before the times of Singh and Modi, the ’Gujral Doctrine’ provided for India positive impetus to improving relations with neighbours. One-sided as it was though, the Doctrine refused to take off, not only because the author was not in power after a shaky-start. Substantive as the Indian gesture was, the Doctrine fell short on returns, or returns on the ’Indian investment’ in goodwill. Though neighbours reciprocate in style only after it sort of became too late and the Doctrine itself had fallen by the wayside, they now keep recalling its continuing relevance and possible usefulness to promoting South Asian togetherness.

In more recent times, Dr Manmohan Singh preferred low-profile initiatives on the South Asian front as on other issues of India’s concerns to high-profile gestures. Modi, cut out of a different cloth, not just in terms of party loyalty and ideology, but also in relation to grassroots-level political engagement from a young age, does things differently. His campaign for the prime ministerial candidacy from within the BJP and later for the Lok Sabha elections was a pointer to his kind of leadership.

Modi’s invitation to SAARC leaders for his inauguration and now the proposal for a SAARC satellite, that too after the successful launch of India’s PSLV C-23 rocket, which placed satellites from more advanced nations like France, Germany and Canada in space, was an invitation for South Asia that they need not have to look elsewhere for support of the kind. So was his proposal on SAARC bank. Sri Lanka’s Science and Technology Minister Champika Ranawaka has revived talks about a ’Sri Lankan satellite’. He did not indicate if Sri Lanka would prefer ISRO to launch its satellite, as and when ready, to early suitors from elsewhere. Though not directly linked, the decision by the central banks of the two countries since, for RBI to be able to invest up to $ 500 m in Sri Lanka’s Treasury bonds may be a first step in the right direction.

Pending bilateral visit

For a successful neighbourhood policy initiative, PM Modi may have to follow up on his gestures with a good measure of policy initiative and participation. This would involve his having to visit all neighbouring nations as early as possible - and following up with mutual visits on a regular and periodic basis. He has since visited Bhutan, his first international destination as PM, and is due to visit Nepal. Others should follow. Predecessor PMs, including BJP’s Vajpayee, had focussed more on the rest of the world, deriving from the personality-driven style and substance of the policy initiatives of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. Truth be told for any Head of State or Government in South Asia, he or she can complete a round-trip of the region during the day light hours of a single day. Seldom has Indian PMs in the past even thought of a monthly or even once-in-six months visits to at least one SAARC country.

The irony of the India-Sri Lanka relations is such that even as successive Indian Prime Ministers have visited ’arch-enemy’ Pakistan - and China, outside of SAARC - none has found the time and comfort-levels for a bilateral with Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka for long. The year 2012 marked the silver jubilee of not only the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, but also of the last bilateral Indian prime ministerial visit to that country. Indian Presidents have not visited that country. The only time a vice-presidential visit came to be mentioned in recent times, it was as a possible alternative to PM Singh’s participation in the Commonwealth Summit in November 2013.

In the end, neither of them participated in CHOGM-2013. In comparison, every Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in the recent decades has made India his or her first overseas destination after assuming office. Then Foreign Minister Rohita Bogologama stopped over at Delhi en route to Germany to make good a European commitment of his predecessor, that too after assuming office only hours earlier in the day.

All Indian prime ministerial visits to Sri Lanka since Rajiv Gandhi’s high-profile controversial trip of 1987 related to SAARC Summits. PM Singh was reported to be considering a bilateral component to his 2008 Sri Lanka visit. However, Colombo’s belated reluctance to signing the much-talked about CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) after negotiating officials had initialled the draft in Delhi a fortnight earlier meant that Singh would not want to embarrass his host at the first bilateral summit in a long time.

Rather than rearranging the agenda or rescheduling the bilateral, India possibly thought it fit to drop the bilateral part altogether from PM Singh’s agenda. However, as always, PM Singh and President Rajapaksa met on the sidelines of SAARC, and exchanged ideas. Singh however blotted India’s copy-book by staying away from the much-hyped Commonwealth Summit in Colombo in 2013, after sending out all kinds of signals to the hosts and their adversarial Tamil ethnic population about his participation.

With this one decision, Singh also willingly conferred on the more-pronounced reluctant visitor in British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to become the first international Head of Government of visit the Tamil-majority, one-time war-ravaged Northern Province. Cameron also crowed over it in Jaffna. India’s absence at CHOGM and the continued ’avoidance’ of Colombo from high-profile VVIP visits weighs heavily on the Sri Lankan State and Government, the local strategic community, and Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists. Even moderate Tamils, who look up to the northern neighbour for permanent solace, miss it from time to time - particularly after the US and the rest of the West got involved in one more of ’India’s traditional sphere of influence’, using the much-misused ’human rights route’.

Whether a prime ministerial visit by Modi to Sri Lanka should be the beginning of a new era in bilateral relations, or should it be the culmination of the efforts in a new era, remains to be seen - and even decided upon. Yet, as an action-oriented Prime Minister, carrying forward the image and imagery from his chief ministerial years in native Gujarat, he cannot delay either a visit, or a decision beyond a point. What he tells his hosts, cutting across party-lines, as and when it happens, would be even more keenly watched in context.

India will be put in a fix, if after the next presidential election in Sri Lanka, whenever held the president-elect follows up on PM Modi’s imaginative initiative and invites other SAARC leaders for his/her inauguration. Yet, former PMs having taken a considered position, Sri Lanka too would have to do its bid in assuaging the bigger Indian neighbours apprehensions - be it on the ethnic or the China front - even if it is not expected to do otherwise. After all, on the ethnic issue, India is not asking for the unthinkable. On China, any Indian position is predicated on regional security and non-intervention by extra-territorial powers, to which Sri Lanka is sworn to.

The Centre, through the years, having reiterated that India-Sri Lanka relations is not an ’one-issue affair’ focussed on the ethnic issue, cannot continue to link a Summit-level visit to a permanent solution to the ethnic problem. In doing so, new-generation India under PM Modi’s leadership should also think about the theoretical possibility of a political solution to the ethnic issue acceptable to the minority Tamil community but not necessarily to India. It is only a theoretical possibility, as successive Tamil attempts to internationalise the issue have fell flat on their face - and the moderate Tamil National Alliance (TNA) coming back to India for political succour and permanent solution. In context, Sri Lankan governments since PM Rajiv Gandhi’s days have spoken about a ’home-grown solution’, with some giving it a muted voice and others like President Rajapaksa lending a full-throated call.

Contours of ’ethnic issue’

It is often said -- particularly among the Sinhala intellectuals, polity and the Sri Lankan Government - that in the current post-poll Indian scenario, not having to depend on southern Tamil Nadu’s competitive pan-Tamil Dravidian polity for the stability of his government in Parliament, PM Modi can be expected to take an independent line on the ethnic issue, which is still the key and core to bilateral relations, over the short and medium terms. The fact that the BJP does not have any baggage - most of them perceived in the case of the Congress predecessor - could help. So could the BJP’s limited presence in Tamil Nadu, though post-polls, the local party bosses’ hopes have been revived, but not with any convincing figures to back.

Through the run-up to the Indian polls, elements within the Sri Lankan Government and a section of the ’Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ polity had equated theirs with BJP-Modi’s ’Hindutva’ or ’Hindu-majority nationalism’ in India. The Tamil polity in Sri Lanka and the more adamant sections of their West-based Diaspora had looked up to the BJP’s Hindu-slant, as most Tamils in Sri Lanka follow the religion. They were also hoping for Tamil Nadu, particularly the ruling AIADMK under Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, having a greater say in government-formation at the Centre, and thus highlighting their cause more vehemently and conclusively than the rival DMK under nonagenarian Muthuvel Karunanidhi could do with the Singh Government when the party was a part until about a year ago.

That the Singh Government survived for close to a year after the DMK had withdrawn support needs to be recalled in the narrative. That the north Indian polity, including the BJP rival of the Congress leader of the ruling UPA dispensation at the time, had clear ideas about bilateral relations going beyond the ethnic issue and the ’Tamil Nadu factor’ also got exemplified during the period. Not only did present-day BJP Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, led an all-party delegation when she was still the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. Subsequently, she along with other allies and opponents of the UPA cold-shouldered DMK/AIADMK’s competitive efforts to have Parliament consider a resolution stronger than the pending UNHRC draft in March 2013. Re-visiting past position The problem for India is that various stake-holders to the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka, and also the rest of the divided Opposition, have had a wrong perception of India, Indian policy and political attitudes, for long. This in the past had led to the story of ’sour grapes’ often, and they blaming India separately - or, even together - for their own mistakes. This was particularly the case when India’s response to emerging situations nearer home did not measure up to their own expectations and the role they have independently designated for India in their own schemes.

The worst was the ’IPKF era’ in the late Eighties, when both the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE conspired together - and the former supplied weapons and logistics for the latter - to have the Indian peace-keepers out of the country before peace had been restored. It is another matter that the DMK Government of Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu offered little sympathy for the Indian soldier-class, it also sort of propped up the LTTE through the IPKF years in Sri Lanka, that too on Indian soil - by possibly looking the other way when injured LTTE militants came for medical care, or their men moved war-material across the seas, with the State as their storage-base and exit-point.

There was a lesson for India in this, which the V P Singh Government of the day did not take note of. The post-IPKF period, followed by the ’Rajiv Gandhi assassination’ led to India’s hands-off policy under Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and successors at the helm for over a decade. That included the six years of BJP-NDA rule, under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. It was thus left to the UPA-I Government of PM Singh to revive bilateral political ties at the highest level. A year and a half after Singh assumed office, Sri Lanka elected incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as Executive President. After a vain attempt at peace-building, he took to war when LTTE’s Velupillai Prabhakaran offered one, instead.

The focus during this period was mostly on India extending non-lethal weaponry and political support to the Sri Lankan State to neutralise the LTTE. The mischievous pro-LTTE propaganda in India and elsewhere that it owed to the Rajiv Gandhi assassination did not help them after a point - as the war’s end showed. Instead, the Indian position owed mostly to the post-9/11 unforgiving global attitude to terrorism, of which the LTTE had become a marker.

It is another matter that SLT Diaspora diatribes often cheapen India’s well-considered and principled position on war-time Sri Lanka to the widowhood of Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the ruling Congress-UPA. Even here, they would not accept that the LTTE was behind it, after all. Now after the Indian polls, they gloat in self-importance by attributing the decisive defeats of the Congress at the national-level and the party’s one-time DMK ally in native Tamil Nadu to their ’treachery on the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka’. The election results owed entirely to domestic situations and causes, instead, as they should have been.

The pan-Tamil groups in India and elsewhere need to remember that whether Singh or Modi, Congress or BJP, governments in Delhi are not sold on propaganda - not all of which were/are a clean representation of the ground realities. In the interim, though, they might have tasted some success, particularly in Tamil Nadu and the western world outside of India, where constituency interests have often shut politician’s eyes.

India’s policy on the Sri Lankan ethnic issue may have been formulated in the weeks and months prior to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, and other negotiations earlier. The Accord itself was a reflection of that policy - of ’political solution within a united Sri Lanka’. Various improvements and mutations of the policy have been pronounced since then. All of them have been one-sentence affairs, underlying a political solution within a united Sri Lanka, addressing the aspirations of the Tamil minority and accepted by all sections in that country.

Various provisions of the Accord, as also the Thirteenth Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, were reflective of this Indian perception. There was nothing more, nothing less to the Indian position, unlike as has been claimed by the ’Tamil nationalists’ on the one hand and the ’Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ constituency, on the other. India has since improved upon the known position after President Rajapaksa unilaterally offered a ’Thirteen-Plus’ solution. Like his predecessor, PM Modi was only referring to the Sri Lankan Government’s commitment, when he met President Rajapaksa in Delhi.

Yet, the revived Indian position at the time may have been clouded by the long years of the hands-off policy at the peak of the evolution of India’s post-Cold War foreign policy. It may need to be revisited just now, to make it relevant to the contemporary situation - but without any shift or change in the broader principles, which is what some western nations seem not unwilling to consider. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA,) as the leader of the Tamil community and heading the elected Northern Provincial Council (NPC) administration has been demanding a 13-Plus solution, with a list of do’s and don’ts for the Central Government in Colombo, but all within a united Sri Lanka.

Against this, the Government of President Rajapaksa that unilaterally offered 13-Plus in the first place has been dithering, owing to ’Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ constituency-pressure - real, perceived and/or politicised. Far removed from the reality on the ground, and away from these two extremes, is a third trend of ’separatism’, which is still being propagated, silently or loudly by sections of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora. The tendency, supported by certain actions of the international community, is not only to bracket the Tamils in India as a part of a broader, otherwise non-existing ’Tamil Diaspora’. The effort is also on for Tamil Nadu to continue insisting on a ’referendum’ for a ’separate State’ in Sri Lanka, in which the TNA has no interest.

In Sri Lanka, India’s position on 13-A has wrongly - though possibly not always mischievously -- been attributed to the authorship of the 1987 Accord. It’s a fallacy, to say the least. Instead, the Indian position was/is tempered by the fact that 13-A is already a part of the Sri Lankan Constitution, which any democratically-elected government at the Centre in Colombo was/is mandated and duty-bound to implement.

If however implementation has remained a non-starter for the past 27 years, it also owes to the absence of appetite for the same, among the diversified and divided polity and society in the seven Sinahala-dominated Provinces, in a total of nine. The eighth, war-affected Eastern Province, is multi-ethnic, a microcosm of Sri Lanka. It’s only in the Tamil-majority Northern Province, 13-Aand 13-Plus gets resonance, amidst feeble but firm voices that still speak of separatism, even if only in private.

An Indian review, under a new dispensation at the Centre - as different from the continuing political tradition of the Vajpayee era - may need to look back at the past for fresh lessons that history alone can teach. Whether low-profile internal affair, or a relatively high-profile interactions, the process should precede any conscious Indian decision to get involved in Sri Lanka, one way or the other, in one form or the other.

The Tamils in the country, the TNA in particular, expect fresh Indian initiatives after the hoped-for western intervention since the end of the war has fallen short on power-devolution and political solution, and longer than expected on post-war ’accountability issues’. But there does exist a ’Tamil nationalist constituency’ among them whose substantial numbers are more than matched by their vociferousness, and the multiple resources and resourcefulness of their Diaspora brethren. They were the ones behind and after the LTTE that torpedoed the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord and 13-A.

No moderate political leadership of the Tamils in Sri Lanka had wanted international interlocutors to talk to the hard-liner sections, for their own political reasons. The hard-liners included militants like the LTTE in their time, and contemporary ’separatists’ and other ’Tamil nationalist’ groups with differing perceptions on what a permanent solution to the ethnic issue should look like. They prefer talking to the hard-liners themselves, but often come a cropper, as ideological divides and ego clashes become too difficult to bridge after a time.

The Indian experience with all SLT militant groups, particularly the LTTE, showed that he who wielded real power in the Tamil socio-political hierarchy used negotiations as a ploy to try and achieve something different. Those moderate groups that were/are willing to negotiate and sign a ’honourable agreement’ could at best deliver the majority of the Tamils but not the more vociferous and even more determined sections, which were/are themselves divided. The Tamil moderate polity’s efforts - the TNA just now - to talk the rest onto a common platform has not been entirely successful.

Nor is the Sri Lankan State, as different from the divided Sinhala polity, willing to concede that over time the Tamil moderate leadership will be able to win over or completely neutralise the hard-line sections, starting or ending with the silent ’separatists’, who at the moment are out to garner a stronger support-base in Tamil Nadu than in the country of their origin. To them, as also in the perception of the Sri Lankan State, the Government of the day and Sinhala-Buddhist hard-liners, these sections of the Tamils, particularly Diaspora groups, see any political achievement of the moderates, a further step towards their goal of a ’separate State’, now expanded to include (though with outright acknowledgement), the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu.

Overlooking ’Sinhala nationalists’

On the Sinhala-Buddhist side, India and other international interlocutors, including one-time peace-facilitator Norway, had been engaging only the Sri Lankan Government. At times, India, Norway, Japan, and now South Africa -have also engaged with the main Opposition party of the day, again a majority (though not always ’majoritarian’) Sinhala outfit, but only for form. Of the four nations named, Japan and South Africa want to help, but not knowing how or when. They also do not want to dirty their hands and reputation, either. India cannot be cold and distant all the time.

Norway was singularly and at times awkwardly placed to negotiate between then SLFP President Chandrika Kumaratunga and rival UNP Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe - at times, preferring the latter to the former. So skewed became the approach that they side-stepped President Kumaratunga almost completely, despite Sri Lanka having an Executive President, directly elected by the people and empowered to dismiss not only the prime minister and his team but also dissolve Parliament without assigning any reason any time after the completion of the first year after parliamentary polls.

CBK in particular held - and continues to hold - the record for the highest 62 percent share of popular vote in direct-elections to the presidency, obtained on the strength of the ’peace bird’ image of hers. She followed it up with the two ’Chandrika packages’ that the LTTE and the Sinhala nationalists alike rejected (as with 13-A), and yet invited the Norwegians for trying their hand at peace-building.

In a way, the Norwegian, classroom-level, template models of conflict-resolution and peace-building did not have a national approach, but only a notional approach, where PM Wickremesinghe became the fulcrum that was to fail - and it failed, anyway. It is not unlikely that India too in its time might have borrowed elements from the still-evolving template model for application in Sri Lanka in its time - and it failed in 1987 and back-fired, even later.

By stopping with the elected President and/or Prime Minister of the day, India, Norway and other facilitators/interlocutors have kept hard-line sections of the ’Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ constituency out of the reckoning. Like the TNA now, they had expected the Government and the President of the day to bring this constituency around, not waiting to evaluate the width and depth of the sentiments involved. They could not have been blamed, either. Nor could they be blamed entirely even now. Then and now, political parties and leaders manning the government of the day in Colombo are not favourably disposed to international interlocutors talking to anyone but them - and more particularly to ’Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ hard-liner of every kind.

The Sinhala-nationalist hard-liners’ divisions were/are possibly fewer than the differing shades of Tamil public and political opinion. In voter-strength, the Sinhala-nationalist constituency counts the most, coming possibly as close to the entire Tamil electoral constituency. Winning them, or losing them, is not an option for any Sinhala leader or party wanting to be in power. But they would not want this constituency to acquire a strong and separate political identity of their own lest they should challenge the status quo in every which way.

Aware of their limitations and often impatient otherwise, this constituency - or, the self-proclaimed, mutually-competing political leaderships of this constituency, particularly that which is relatively successful in a given point of time - has co-opted the ’winning coalition’ of the day to park their public support, and benefit politically. Rather, from time to time, this constituency has proved to be the decisive factor in elections, particularly in direct elections to the nation’s presidency. Any strong and decisive support of the Tamils to any candidate (invariably a Sinhala) means that the ’Sinhala nationalist’ constituency would - and would have to - vote the exact opposite way. In this calculus, the vast majority of the middle-of-the-road Sinhala voters decide the elections (and not as perceived in favour of the ’Sinhala nationalist constituency).

In turn, the professed leader of this constituency has acquired the status of a ’king-maker’, only to lose the same when a better-settled partner in power neutralised them without much effort. Slain President Ranasinghe Premadasa and current incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa put the ’Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna) in its place, the former’s regime in cold-blood as the JVP used the ’constituency card’ to revive its larger insurgency targeting the Sri Lankan State. After depending on the centre-Left JVP, along with the centre-Right JHU - for his election victory in 2005, President Rajapaksa almost single-handedly decimated the JVP politically, even before he had eliminated the LTTE, militarily.

For this however, the victor has to show this constituency that he or she was a better bet than the JVP then and later, and the JHU (Jathika Hela Uramaya) since. However much the political leadership of this constituency became irrelevant with the passage of time and anti-incumbency afflictions while sharing power, new mutations take shape. Just now, it seems to be the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), perceived as more vociferous and less compromising - and violent, too - compared to the relatively moderate JHU avtar, which in fact should feel threatened.


The TNA or international interlocutors, India included, or any incumbent government in Sri Lanka cannot proceed with any enforceable peace process on the assumption that they could tame or win over or otherwise neutralise this ’Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist’ constituency. This means that their concerns need to be addressed squarely if any effective peace initiative has to lead to a logical conclusion. As a ’son-of-the-soil’ leader with his political instincts intact, President Rajapaksa understands the existence and relevance of this constituency only as President Premadasa before him had done.

In his time, slain Prime Minister S W R D Bandaranaike understood the sentiments. He was the one who actually exploited the sentiments of this constituency in electoral terms in the Fifties - though in an elected democracy, the trickle-down effect of the kind was inevitable, one way or the other, one time or the other. Possibly owing to constituency-competition, a young Buddhist monk shot him while in office and his official home.

Following SWRD, his late wife, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the first woman head of government in an elected democracy in post-War world, while being seen as a naïve leader initially, was determined to retain the ’Sinhala-Buddhist constituency’. Thus, Ceylon became Sri Lanka, Buddhism became the official religion and Sinhala the official language under her first Republican Constitution of 1972.

Successor PM-turned-President J R Jayewardene, while following Lee Kuan Yew’s ’Singapore model’ of leader-driven economic agenda of ’market capitalism’, did not shut his eyes to the ’Sinhala nationalist constituency’ despite the pro-liberal attitude, outlook and image of the UNP under his care at the time. Following upon his ’Kandy march’ of the pre-Independence Forties, JRJ as Executive President amassed State power in his hands, not only viz the Tamils but also his own Sinhala polity, party and population. Premadasa was to follow, and had to follow.

Though Premadasa and Rajapaksa belonged to opposing political parties and cultures, they comprehended the situation possibly better than the rest, precisely because of their common rural background. Yet, both were, and President Rajapaksa still is unwilling to give an independent political voice(s) to these concerns, which are genuine as far as the belief goes contestable otherwise on broader and more basic issues. With the result, the two leaders in particular and others in their place have allowed themselves to be seen as ’Sinhala chauvinists’ in their time.

Yet, all of them were/are concerned more about the Sinhala-Buddhist voter-constituency. While some have metamorphosed their electoral concerns in many forms, the likes of Presidents Premadasa and Rajapaksas were/are unwilling to doing so. Their political character and leadership personality cannot provide for layers and layers. This has been their politico-electoral strength within the larger Sinhala constituency but weakness viz, the Tamil community nearer home and the international community, India included, otherwise. Yet, they are also not the ones to pass off the burden of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism to other parties or leaders, for them to claim political/electoral credit.

Rebuilding unbroken bridge

There is thus the inevitability of India, even while having to re-build the unbroken bridge with Sri Lanka, its foreign and security policy mandarins would have to use the changed political circumstances in the country to revisit the past on the ’ethnic issue’ in particular. In doing so, they may need to study why successive governments in Sri Lanka is not enthused to implement 13-A or the incumbent is seen as back-tracking on the unilateral offer of 13-Plus. There is also the simultaneous Tamil reservations earlier on accepting 13-A when passed, and on the contours of a new 13-Plus.

Either way, over the past decades, Sri Lanka has proved why 13-A/13-Plus cannot be met, whatever be the intention and contention - for and against. While the sheer personality of Prime Minister Modi would go a long way in facilitating the process and justifying a re-look, both internally and externally (if only it came to that), the fact remains that the basics of India’s policy towards Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue would remain without change or mutilation. Only the tools of understanding within and persuasion elsewhere may have to change - if at all.

With expectations in Sri Lanka seemingly favouring an Indian initiative, more so in the place of the ongoing international involvement/interrogation that does not really seek to address moderate Tamil concerns inside the country, a mid-course review of the Indian position may also be in order. Whether India should get involved, and if so, how, when and where, could flow from it. While visibly continuing with the much-considered government policy from the past under a new dispensation, India will also have to consider if it should make its approaches more transparent and clear, to the Tamil Nadu constituency nearer home and the international community otherwise. Such an approach will also be in keeping with the perceived personality of PM Modi.

The question just now is not when or how, but if, and if at all India should return to the centre-stage of Sri Lankan ethnic conflict, considering in particular India’s other interests vis a vis the Sri Lankan State on the one hand, the Sri Lankan Tamil polity and society on the other, and the strategic and internal security concerns of the nation providing a third anchor - with the latter assuming as much security relevance as the former (involving China and Pakistan, not to mention the US and other western friends and allies), in India’s ’traditional sphere of influence’ and security concerns.

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

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Afghanistan: Political transition and the elusive peace deal

Aryaman Bhatnagar

Afghanistan, despite the various hurdles, continues along the path of a democratic transition for the first time in its history. The recent agreement between the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani has ensured that this transition does not come to a premature halt.

However, the possibility of a smooth political transition should not overlook the fact that the new government will have the unenviable task of dealing with the Afghan Taliban. Reviving the reconciliation process and seeking a political settlement with the Taliban is likely to be one of the top priorities for the new president.

Both candidates have already expressed their desire to continue talks with the Taliban. Dr Abdullah has stressed on the importance of "genuine, serious negotiations", while Dr Ghani claimed that the Taliban "are a fact" of Afghanistan. Such proclamations from the presidential candidates are expected and reflect the prevalent mood about the Afghan endgame, especially with respect to the Taliban.

Over the past few years, there has been an increasing realisation among the international community about the necessity of accommodating the Taliban in Afghanistan’s political structure through peace talks. The concerted attempts of the Afghan Government and the international community to reach an agreement with the Taliban should be seen in light of this realisation.

However, such efforts so far have resulted in very little success. The reconciliation process can be described, at best, as a stop-start process, where any positive development or apparent breakthrough has been short lived. The Taliban has accused the incumbent, President Karzai of being a puppet of the US and has used this as a pretext for rejecting overtures from his government. While the group has remained open to the idea of engaging with the US, it has refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan Government.

It is unlikely that the Taliban will see the new leadership in a different light. It has already denounced the election process. In August 2013, Mullah Omar released a statement rejecting the elections as a "waste of time". Even at the December 2012 Paris Peace Conference, the Taliban claimed that as the elections are taking place under "foreign occupation", they will not be beneficial for the Afghan people.

The insurgents believe that the election process can never truly be a representative one as most of the decision making power lies with the US. From their perspective, the entire process is essentially one where the selection is made by the US, and not by the people of Afghanistan. Such statements were released during the ongoing electoral process as well.

Following the agreement between the two candidates, the Taliban issued a statement claiming that Hamid Karzai was enthroned by the US and the "same will be repeated in his successor’s case" as well. It subsequently released a statement predicting a victory for Dr Ghani as it believed that Washington had made significant investments in his campaign. Moreover, the group claimed that he would be best placed to implement the Washington’s agenda in Afghanistan as he was a resident in the US for a few years and completed his education from an American university.

In light of such pronouncements, the Taliban’s view of the next leader - irrespective of whether it is Dr Abdullah or Dr Ghani - seems a foregone conclusion.

Besides the Taliban’s perception of the next leader, there seems to be no change in the military balance that could force the Taliban to come to the negotiating table. This is evident from the resilience of the insurgents, who retain the ability to launch high profile attacks throughout the country. The Kabul International Airport has already come under attack on three occasions in the past few months while a number of popular restaurants and hotels in Kabul, bases of the international and Afghan forces, convoys of the presidential candidates and offices of the election commission have come under attack as well.

The latest UN report also highlighted an increase in civilian casualties in the first six months of 2014 as compared to the same period in 2013. The Taliban publicly claimed responsibility for 147 attacks that resulted in 553 civilian casualties with 234 civilians killed and 319 injured.

The threat from the Taliban is likely to intensify further post 2014. Even if the Bilateral Security Agreement with the US is signed - the responsibility for which lies with President Karzai’s successor - the size of the international military presence is going to be significantly reduced. Given the failure of the international forces to effectively suppress the Taliban insurgency at the peak of its numerical strength, there are serious doubts about the impact that it would have with diminished numbers. This problem is further compounded by the questions over the capability of the Afghan National Security Forces to operate on their own.

As the deadline for the drawdown of foreign troops from the region fast approaches, there seems to be no compulsion for the Taliban to enter into talks at the moment. The possibility of the elections providing a breakthrough with the Taliban, thus, seems remote.

(The writer is an Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

< class="heading1">Country Reports


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Audit halted twice, UN intervenes

The auditing of the votes cast in the second round of the Afghan Presidential Elections was halted twice this week. Both times the auditing came to a halt due to disagreements between the two leading candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani over the audit methodology.

Dr Abdullah’s team demanded that all boxes with 15 percent of "similar-markings" and ballots with sequential serial numbers need to be invalidated, while Dr Ghani’s team argued that a sample of fraud should not affect the entire box. Another disagreement was over signatures on ballot papers and whether that should invalidate the vote or not.

After the two candidates failed to reach a consensus on such a methodology, the UN presented its suggestions to the Afghan Election Commission. However, the guidelines suggested by the UN have not yet been made public.

The auditing process has already been criticised by both candidates for its slow pace. There are concerns that if the process is not expedited then there would be a significant delay in the inauguration of the new president.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Khaama Press, 20 July 2014; Tolo News, 20 & 22-23 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban predicts victory for Ghani

The Taliban predicted that Dr Ashraf Ghani will emerge victorious in the Afghan Presidential Elections.

The group issued a statement claiming that as the West had invested significantly in Dr Ghani’s campaign, it should tilt the battle in his favour. The group also claimed that as Dr Ghani had completed his higher education in the US and was a resident there for a few years, he was the most suitable candidate to implement American strategies in Afghanistan.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Tolo News, 19 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Taliban shadow governor killed

The Taliban shadow governor in Badakhshan province, Qari Fakhruddin was killed in a clash with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The clash resulted in the death of nine other insurgents and five insurgents were injured.

The ANSF launched a military operation in Jurm district in the past 20 days to clear the area of insurgents.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Tolo News, 22 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bangladesh advances in HDI

Bangladesh has become one of 18 countries that made "extraordinary progress" in terms of global human development index (HDI) this year, says recently published Human Development Report 2014 of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Bangladesh has risen in ranking to 142 (among 187 countries), graduating from last year’s position of 143, due to its better performance in the health, education and gender issues, according to Human Development Report 2014. Beside Bangladesh, Sri Lanka is another South Asian country that region have been able to change its previous ranking this year.

In terms of gender inequality and gender development index, Bangladesh had fared better than India and Pakistan. India’s overall ranking is 135 while Pakistan’s position is 146.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Dhaka Tribune, 25 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bangladesh ranks high in child marriage

Bangladesh has one of the highest numbers of under-15 child marriages in the world, according to a report, titled "Ending Child Marriage - Progress and Prospects," launched in the week by UNICEF. According to the report, 74% of the girls aged below 18 years are married off in Bangladesh. 39% of the girls aged less than 15 years meet the same fate.

The report also reveals child marriage among girls is common in South Asia and Sub-Saharan African region. More than 700 million women are married off under the age of 18 globally, while one in three of them are married before the age of 15 globally, according to the report.

The top 10 countries with the highest scores of child marriage are: Niger, Bangladesh, Chad, Mali, Central African Republic, India, Guinea, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Nepal.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Dhaka Tribune, 23 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Last parliament polls flawed, says US ambassador designate

US Ambassador-designate to Bangladesh Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat has described the January 5 general elections as ’undeniably flawed’. Giving her testimony before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington DC in the week, Bernicat noted the US remained concerned about the recent trends in democracy and rights in Bangladesh.

She also opined that the political parties in Bangladesh urgently needed to engage in a constructive dialogue to ensure a more representative government.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Daily Star, 19 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan and Nepal hold bilateral discussions

Economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk met Nepal’s minister for commerce and supplies, Sunil Bahadur Thapa on 24 July. Tourism, indigenous crafts, and hydropower are the three areas, which Bhutan and Nepal have identified to explore for expertise and resources.

Economic Affairs Minister of Bhutan, Norbu Wangchuk said these three sectors were among the many important issues discussed.

"Nepal is very strong in tourism, just as Bhutan is," Wangchuk said, explaining that they agreed to exchange the experience and share tourism resources between the two countries. "This is an opportunity that we identified between the two countries."

Wangchuk said there were opportunities, where tourists, who come through Nepal, could be routed to Bhutan, and tourists who come to Bhutan could be routed to Nepal.

The meeting also identified areas where the two countries could share expertise and experiences in the crafts industries. This, according to the economic affairs minister, would not only help Bhutanese handicraft artisans, but also help the craft industry.

In hydropower, the ministers agreed to share experience and exchange the expertise, which would be beneficial for both countries. While Bhutan has 30,000MW of hydropower potential, Nepal, Wangchuk said, had a potential of 86,000MW.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel Online, 25 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan backs bid for SAARC development bank

SAARC countries will have a development bank with branches in all eight countries, if the proposal from the SAARC secretariat gets approved.

Following the 8th South Asian free trade area (SAFTA) ministerial council meet on 24 July in the capital, economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk said the SAARC Development Bank (SDB) was important for Bhutan.

The proposal will be tabled and decided at the 18th SAARC summit, which is scheduled for November this year in Kathmandu, Nepal.

"We need lots of capital for development and, if SDB finances development activities, cost would be lot cheaper," Norbu Wangchuk said. The bank would also facilitate the Least Developed Countries (LDC) to avail for funds.

The member nations also agreed to look into possibility of a currency swap arrangement for trading.

This means that any country can import goods and services in their currency, and an arrangement would be made whereby the exporting country gets paid an equivalent amount in its currency. "This would facilitate the use of our own currency to trade," Wangchuck said.

To enhance economic integration, Wangchuck said regional connectivity was important and that all countries supported this. He said countries could explore market beyond the region by using each other’s territory through road network, railways and waterways.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel Online, 25 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan and Bangladesh to consider free trade agreement

While the SAFTA ministerial council meeting begun on 24 July in Thimphu economic affairs and commerce ministers from Bhutan and Bangladesh have already met to consider the free trade agreement to further strengthen its trade ties.

Economics affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk and Bangladesh’s commerce minister, Tofail Ahmed met on 23 July. Norbu Wangchuk said the free trade agreement would eliminate the tariff barriers and address non-tariff barriers.

The first bilateral trade agreement between two countries was signed in 1980 and renewed in 2008. From the renewed agreement, 18 major categories of duty free import items from Bangladesh were identified.

"Bangladesh is the only country in the SAARC region with which Bhutan’s trade is surplus," Norbu Wangchuk said, referring to the country’s export value exceeding the import value. "That’s why Bangladesh is very important for the country."

However, under the SAFTA revised sensitive list, Bangladesh has 987 different commodities in the list, including fish, fruits, petroleum oil, cosmetics, chemicals and tobacco products, among others.

A sensitive list is a list of commodities with every country, which does not include tariff concession. The use of sensitive lists allows countries to protect growing domestic industries or important sources of customs revenue. However, overuse of sensitive lists can make goods more expensive for consumers and reduce trade between countries.

Bhutan has 156 commodities under the sensitive list, which includes meat, dairy products, vegetables, wood and articles of wood. Norbu Wangchuk said the Bhutanese government has asked Bangladesh to reduce their sensitive list. "They assured us they’ll look at it favourably," he said.

An important aspect of this, he said, would be the duty free export of boulders from Bhutan to be used in projects in Bangladesh.

Another agenda on the discussion was the inland water transit route. During the secretary level meeting held in April, this year, Bangladesh agreed to allow the use of its inland water route and port for Bhutanese imports and export from the third countries.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Kuensel Online, 24 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Bhutan, China boundary talks in China

The 22nd Round of Boundary Talks between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China will be held in China from 24-25 July 2014. The 7-member Bhutanese delegation, led by Foreign Minister, Rinzin Dorji will leave for China on 22 July, 2014.

The 21st Round of Boundary Talks was held in Thimphu on 22 August, 2013. During the intervening period, the two sides conducted the Joint Technical Field Survey of Bayul Pasamlung area in September 2013 and an expert Group Meeting was held in Beijing in March 2014.

The Boundary Negotiations between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China are guided by the Four Guiding Principles of 1988 and the 1998 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility in the Bhutan-China Border Areas.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Bhutan Observer, 21 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India blocks WTO deal on customs rules

India blocked an agreement on new global customs rules on 24 July, angering fellow members of the World Trade Organization who say Delhi’s veto could be costly, economically and politically. At a meeting in Geneva, diplomats from the 160 WTO member countries were supposed to rubber stamp a deal on "trade facilitation" that was agreed at talks in Bali last December. Some estimates say it could add $1 trillion to the world economy and create 21 million jobs. But India said it would veto the agreement until it gets what it wants in a separate area linked to its system of subsidising and stockpiling crops. Several countries issued statements saying that a failure to agree the deal would be a massive blow to the WTO, which is trying to emerge from a decade of failed negotiations on further liberalising global trade. WTO director general Roberto Azevedo said talks were ongoing to try to resolve the problem before a deadline of July 31. A group of 25 countries including Australia, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland and Thailand said they were "dismayed" at the failure to agree at Thursday’s meeting. They warned that failing to seal the trade facilitation deal would unravel the whole package of trade agreements done in Bali, effectively destroying the chance of further global trade reform, something that India has long demanded.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The times of India, 25 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India backs UN body’s probe into Israel’s Gaza campaign

The BJP-led government, which didn’t allow Parliament to pass a resolution on the Gaza crisis, instructed the country’s diplomats in Geneva to support a UN Human Rights Council resolution to launch a probe into Israel’s military campaign in the area. Along with India, other members of BRICS--Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa-- also voted for a Palestinian-drafted resolution on "Ensuring Respect for international law in The Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem". India, along with its IBSA partners, reiterated its commitment to promote dialogue and understanding with a view to ensuring enjoyment of human rights in Palestine and Israel. The motion was supported by 29 out of 49 council members while 17 abstained. The US was the only country to vote against the resolution, while European countries didn’t vote. "India’s deep association with, and continuing commitment to, Palestine is rooted in our modern history that goes back to our struggle for independence," the statement noted. The Indian government had earlier said its policy on Palestine remained unchanged but rejected calls for a parliamentary resolution on the violence in Gaza. ET reported that Swaraj and other BJP leaders had taken cognizance of the Israeli viewpoint when embassy officials put forth their arguments. Several BJP leaders including Swaraj have old links with Israel. Sources had told ET that the BJP government’s stand was based on the argument that it was a fight between the state of Israel and Hamas, a terror group.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Economic Times, 24 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Union Cabinet clears insurance bill, Congress offers support

Congress on 24 July offered conditional support to the Modi government’s plan to hike FDI limit in the insurance sector to 49%, brightening the prospects of the proposed legislation that has been in the pipeline for more than a decade. Congress’s guarded support that it could support the bill as long as it does not deviate from the proposal considered by UPA when it was in office could open the door for the legislation’s passage in Rajya Sabha where NDA lacks the numbers. On the day when the Union Cabinet cleared the insurance bill, Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said, "It was a UPA proposal and BJP had opposed it because of partisan politics. Now, we will have to see if the bill that the government brings is a departure from our draft or is in sync with it. If it is in sync, then we will be constructively engaged." Indications from the finance ministry are that the Congress condition was likely to be met with the government proposing the bill as was moved by the UPA. If BJP and Congress do agree on the insurance bill, it will end a long standing jinx that has often seen party considerations and individual equations stall the legislation at the last moment.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Times of India, 25 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India-Pakistan gas pipeline may be completed in a year

The proposed India-Pakistan pipeline, through which India plans to supply natural gas to Pakistan, may be completed within a year. The pipeline, being put in place by the Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL), will start from Gujarat and reach Punjab passing through Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. GAIL will source liquified natural gas (LNG) from international suppliers, which will then be regasified at the LNG terminal at Dahej in Gujarat, for supply to Pakistan. "The pipeline may be completed in 12 months,"

official sources said on 24 July. India had granted basic customs duty exemption of 5 per cent on regasified LNG for supply to Pakistan in this year’s budget, opening up avenues of expanded energy trade with the neighbour. The proposed project will utilize GAIL’s existing Dadri-Bawana-Nangal pipeline network, which now extends to Jalandhar.

"This may be extended to Lahore via Amritsar by laying a 110-km pipeline of 24-inch diameter," the sources said. The pipeline will start at Dahej in Gujarat, pass through Vijaipur in Madhya Pradesh, Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, Bawana in Delhi before reaching Nangal in Punjab. India’s decision to pipe natural gas and other petroleum products to Pakistan is being seen as a first step towards the revival of two stalled mega projects involving Islamabad — the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, 25 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President vows to foil attempts at unrest

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Friday vowed to not allow any form of unrest to arise in Maldives. In his address to the nation on the Independence Day, the President said that after a lengthened period of political unrest, peace has finally come with the people slowly settling into a content life. He, however, cautioned that some Opposition parties are continuously trying to ignite strife back in the society.

"At the delicate moment when the nation has sighed contentedly, the government shall not allow anyone to disrupt this peace. Opposition parties and individuals work deliberately to disrupt the peace and create disorder amongst the people so that they may gain from the chaos. There are incidents where such manufactured distress has even threatened the independence of the nation," he said, speaking at the flag hoisting ceremony at the Republic Square.

The President said that the attacks Maldives now faces -- attempts to reduce tourist-arrivals and fish exports -- are aimed at jeopardising the economy. He said that weakening a country economically is an attack upon its independence.

"I blame those who have called for boycott of Maldivian tourism and have planted doubts amongst buyers about Maldivian fish products. This government will defeat all such attacks, and will build a strong, peaceful youth generation. Using this opportunity, I would like to call upon the people of Maldives, all political activists and opposition leaders to not risk the peace in the country for their own political gain," he said.

President Yameen commended the "hard work" of Ibrahim Nasir, the father of the independence movement and the first President of the second republic. He also praised his half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, for his "bravery and sacrifice" to thwart the armed coup on November 3, 1988.

The President also spoke against the Israeli aggression in Palestine. He said that all the powerful nations of the world along with the UN can bring a swift end to Israel’s incessant attacks on the people of Palestine. He reassured the support of the Maldives government and the people to the people of Palestine.

"In addition, all Israeli products have now been banned in Maldives until they stop their brutal attacks, change their inhuman means of dealing with Palestine and begin to make peace with the country. Also, the three agreements Maldives signed with Israel have now been dissolved," the President said.

President Yameen also vowed to preserve the independence of the Maldives in his endeavour to bring major development projects to the country.

Former Presidents Gayoom and Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik attended the ceremony. Abdu Sattar Moosa Didi and Ibrahim Rasheed, two of the pioneers who stood besides President Nasir 49 years ago, also attended the ceremony.

In his Independence Day message, Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed has said that Parliament plays a huge role in maintaining democracy and independence of the country.

"We need to renew our determination today to protect the independence of our nation and to work towards the good of our nation together as one. It will be the dearest service we can do for our country. Parliament works with this goal," he said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline 25 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Balance Independence and economy: Home Minister

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has said that it is important for Maldives to open its doors to foreign investments without compromising the country’s independence through over-dependence.

Speaking at the flag-hoisting event to mark the country’s 49th Independence Day, Home Minister Umar Naseer said that the country’s political independence and its economic independence are intertwined and that Maldives must be careful to strike the proper balance to preserve its freedom.

"This is a very thin and delicate rope that our leaders today have to handle when we deal with foreign partners for economic purposes. It is not easy to balance such a thin piece of rope," said Umar Naseer.

The Home Minister said that the government’s economic policies are clear and wel- defined and praised the government for its economic vision. He also noted that the conventional ways of depriving a country of its liberty and independence has changed and said that in the new age, a country’s independence is threatened through penetrating the economy.

"As it opens its economic doors to the international world through the economic zones, the principals to safeguard the country’s sovereignty will be defined by the necessary laws. The areas that would need to be fastened will be properly secured. In this, there will be no neglect or carelessness. There will not be even a minor deprivation to the people’s rights or identity," said Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer.

Meanwhile, the President’s Office denied the reports that the powers of Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer have been restricted by President Abdulla Yameen. Spokesperson at President’s Office Ibrahim Muaz Ali confirmed that since Umar Naseer was appointed as Home Minister, his powers have not been restricted by any extent.

Some local media groups reported on Thursday night that President Yameen had restricted Umar Naseer’s powers after he issued an order upon the police to investigate a case relating to Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adheeb. Media Information Officer at Maldives Police Service Hassan Haneef said that there is no ongoing police investigation regarding the Tourism Minister.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline 25 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Dunya asks UNSG for stronger action against Israel

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon has urged the United Nations Security Council to take urgent and stronger action against Israel.

This came in a statement issued by the Foreign Minister on Thursday, 24 July 2014, condemning the Israeli bombing of a UN shelter in Beit Hanoun in Palestine which killed nearly 30 Palestinians, including infants.

"It is a cowardly and shameful act on the part of Israel to target a UN shelter whose exact coordinates were given to the Israeli military by the UN. It again underscores the need for the UN Security Council to take urgent and stronger actions against Israel. The international community has a duty to put pressure on Israel to stop the killing and to end the crippling blockade of Gaza," read the statement.

On Wednesday, the UN Human Rights Council passed a Resolution co-sponsored by Maldives, following which the council has decided to set up an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate the atrocities committed by Israel in the current conflict.

Earlier in the day, the Maldivian government also enforced a new policy to prohibit the import of products made in Israel into the country. Commissioner-General of Customs Ahmed Mohamed warned that while this ban is in place, action will be taken against any party that tries to bring Israeli products into the country.

According to Customs records, products worth about MVR 9 million were imported last year and products worth about MVR 3 million have been imported so far this year to the Maldives from Israel.

In addition to the ban on the import of Israeli products, the government has also annulled three agreements signed with Israel by the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Meanwhile, a petition, circulated by a local youth group seeking the parliament to call on the international community to take a stronger action against Israeli aggression in Gaza, gained over 12,000 signatures by Thursday, the youth group said.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline 25 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">SC empowered to initiate contempt proceedings

The Supreme Court has enacted new regulations that allow the court to initiate proceedings into cases of contempt of court and judges.

According to the regulation, the punishment for contempt outside the court would be decided after the prosecution files charges against the person or the court in question initiates the case. The regulation also grants the Supreme Court power to look in to all contempt of court cases, collectively.

The regulation states that contempt of court outside the court premises will be judged by a panel of judges in an odd amount and that a ruling issued in such a case cannot be appealed against.

According to the regulation, disobedience, acts against the systematic norms of court or leaving the court room without permission are all punishable immediately. The punishment varies between a fine by an amount lower than MVR 1,000 and a prison sentence of 15-30 days.

The regulation also grants the courts with authority to immediately punish any disrespect shown towards a judge, the court premises, a court staff or a property of the court. Obstruction or disturbances directed at an ongoing trial is also punishable, with the punishment magnified if physical touch or anything that can be deemed a weapon is used.

According to the regulation, refusing to cooperate with court staff to fulfil their responsibilities and refusing to attend court as witnesses will also be punished. Lawyers can be suspended from courts for three to six months, the regulation says.

In case of an independent institution that is involved in a contempt of court case, the regulation dictates that the top-most person in charge of the institution will be charged for it.

The new regulations replace the original regulations made in 2008 concerning contempt of court.

< class="text11verdana">Source: SunOnline 25 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Myanmar Legislature considers proportional representation

The lower house of parliament in Myanmar has agreed to discuss a controversial proposal to switch to proportional representation for future elections.

The proportional representation system was first proposed by the National Democratic Force (NDF), a splinter faction of the main opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). The plan is also supported by the ruling party and military representatives in parliament.

NDF leader Khin Maung Swe on 24 July said the idea will be an important step forward for the country.

"Only the PR system will make the political transition smooth," said Maung. "It will include not only eight major ethnic groups but all the small ethnic minorities and smaller political parties as well. We proposed it because if representatives of all parties are included the system will work better to achieve national unity and peace." But the proposal is opposed by more than 40 MPs, including some representatives of ethnic minorities and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Critics of the plan say its proponents are mainly concerned about the possibility of an NLD landslide victory in the 2015 general elections.

Ethnic MP Ba Shin of Rakhine National Development Party warned the proposal could harm stability if enacted.

" the PR system is important for the national unity," said Shin. "But we want to point out that the unity will be impaired if this system is imposed because ethnic peoples and their parties are opposing the PR system. This fact should be considered seriously as well as the principle of the majority rule and minority right."

The coalition supporting debate of the plan has enough votes to easily pass legislation over the objections of the opposition.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Democratic Voice of Burma, 24 July, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">MSF invited back to Rakhine State

Aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières-Holland (MSF) has been invited to resume operations in Rakhine State, according to state media.

An announcement from the Rakhine State government and a Myanmar News Agency article based on a Ministry of Health report, both published in the 24 July edition of the New Light of Myanmar, said the group will be allowed to re-start work in the Western state.

In the announcement the Rakhine State government invited UN agencies and INGOs, including MSF, "to participate in development, humanitarian, education and healthcare programs in accordance with the wishes of the Rakhine people".

The invitation was made in order to implement the Rakhine Action Plan, which was developed following meetings on June 26-27 with members of the Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC), UN officials, civil society representatives and officials from the Myanmar Peace Centre, it said.

It remains unclear as to when and under what circumstances the organisation will be allowed to resume its programs, which include the provision of medical care to isolated Buddhist and Muslim communities.

MSF said that it welcomed the announcement.

"MSF welcomes the Myanmar government’s announcement today that the organisation will be invited to resume medical humanitarian operations in Rakhine State," it said. "We look forward to continuing constructive discussions with the Ministry of Health regarding how MSF can support the ministry in the immediate expansion of life-saving medical activities for the people of Rakhine currently facing a humanitarian crisis."

The group declined to comment further. According to Rakhine State government figures, there are 24 international organisations working in the state, with a total staff of 185 - 112 locals and 72 foreigners.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Myanmar Times, 24 July, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Myanmar, India to forge closer business-to-business connectivity in trade, investment

The expo ’India Investrade 2014’ kicked off on 23 July in Yangon, with an exposition and buyer-seller meetings seeking to forge closer business-to-business cooperation and connectivity in trade and investment between Myanmar and India.

During their speeches before the inauguration of the two-day exhibition at Sedona Hotel, officials from both sides stressed the need to build synergies for trade and investment between the two countries which share a long land border of over 1,600 km. They are hopeful of expanding the volume of trade between India and Myanmar from the existing about US$1.5 billion annually.

Boosting investment and trade will be focused at the business sessions, said U Win Aung, president of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, saying that "the more foreign investments, both in infrastructure development and SMEs, we see, the greater our people benefit from them".

According to him, Myanmar needs trading partners to bring quick benefits to its people as requirements, indicating local businessmen who are not in a state of readiness to utilize the GSP benefits that Myanmar regained from the European Union last year, still remain in the country.

Although the largest engagement between India and Myanmar is in food export, especially beans and pulses, from Myanmar, Myanmar’s access to EU GSP will be a very good opportunity for Indian textile businesses, Shiv Siddhant N. Kaul, vice president of the Indian Chamber of Commerce told The New Light of Myanmar in a brief interview with him.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The New Light of Myanmar, 24 July 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China rail to reach Nepal in six years

A website of the Chinese government states that the continuing expansion of the Chinese railway from Sigaste of Tibet would link Nepal, India and Bhutan by 2020. The update posted on 22 July on after 14th track test of the Lhasa-Sigaste railway line says 253 km of railway line has already been completed. "The 253 km railway line is complete now. It will come into operation from August," said the website quoting Yang Yulin, deputy director of railway office of Tibet. "It is under China’s 13th five-year-plan (2016 - 2020). Within this period, two rail links would be extended to Kerung border area of Nepal and Yadung area to connect India and Bhutan," Yulin adds.

According to Hari Basyal, consular general in Lahsa, the Lhasa-Sigatse railway line would open new avenues for Nepal-China trade. "Since it falls under the five-year-plan, it is certain that the railway line will reach Kerung. If Nepal government insists on it, China is positive about extending it even further in Nepal," he said. The construction of Lhasa-Sigatse railway had started in 2010. There are 14 stations along the block constructed at the altitude of 3,600-4,000 meters. Lhasa-Sigatse road, which was a seven hour drive, has been shortened to just two hours after the construction of the railway line.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 25 July, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Cabinet approves agenda for Nepal-India 3rd JC meet

The cabinet meeting on 25 July discussed and approved the agendas that Nepal will take up during the third Joint Commission meet between Nepal and India. Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is arriving in Kathmandu on a three-day official visit to Nepal this evening to co-chair a meeting of the Joint Commission (JC) scheduled for Saturday. The JC meet is expected to dwell on various issues of mutual concern and take up additional confidence building measures to further strengthen ties been two countries. According to Minendra Rijal, government Spokesperson and Minister for Information and Communication, the meeting has appointed Finance Secretary Yubaraj Bhushal, whose tenure expired on 24 July, as chief of Nepal Administrative Staff College for a term of one year. Similarly, the meeting has also appointed former secretary Krishna Hari Banskota as expert member of the High Level Committee for Administrative Reform.

< class="text11verdana">Source:, 25 July, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Nepal ranked 145th in human development rankings

Nepal has improved its human development index (HDI) value in the latest Human Development Report (HDR) 2014. According to the HDR 2014 launched on 24 July, Nepal’s HDI value increased to 0.540 from 0.463. The HDR 2014 has ranked Nepal 145th, up from last year’s 157th. However, the two rankings are not directly comparable. The good news is Nepal’s HDI value is the highest among the "Low Human Development" group. In South Asia, Nepal is above Pakistan (146) and Afghanistan (169). Nepal has also improved its ranking in Gender Inequality Index. The country is now ranked 98th from 102nd last year. The report, titled "Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience", offers a fresh perspective on what makes people vulnerable, and proposes ways to strengthen resilience. The report states there is no country in the "very high development" group from the region. According to the report, across Asia and the Pacific, over a billion people live just above the extreme poverty line, on more than $1.25 but less than $2.50 a day. The report asserts those who face multiple deprivations are especially at risk of falling back into poverty if a disaster or crisis should occur.

The report has urged governments to commit to the universal provision of basic social services and social protection to build resilience, especially for the poor and other vulnerable groups.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Himalayan Times, 25 July, 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India allays Nepal’s fears over hydel proposal

With a draft proposal by India on hydropower development in Nepal causing concern that the neighbouring country is trying to establish a monopoly, the Indian Embassy here stepped in on 20 July to deny any such move. Issuing a five-point statement, the embassy said the proposal was a draft for discussion "and would require bilateral negotiations prior to finalisation." Both sides are free to propose amendments or modifications to the draft, it added. With concerns mounting in Nepal over India’s intentions, four years after Nepal sent it a draft agreement on the power sector, the embassy said, "In no way does the draft constrain Nepal’s sovereign right to develop its hydropower potential." The hardline Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) joined issue on 22 July, demanding that the government make public its official position on the Indian proposal. Issuing a statement, party chairman Mohan Baidya said that news reports about an export-oriented PDA (power development agreement) with India, "instead of scrapping the already existing unequal treaties on Koshi, Gandak, Mahakali, Upper Karnali, Arun III, High Koshi Dam and Upper Marsyangdi, has come as a shock to all patriotic Nepalese people." The controversy over the draft has been brewing for several days now. Both the ruling and the opposition parties have come together to oppose it.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Hindu, July 20, 2014


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Militants killed in air strike on Shawal

Warplanes bombed suspected hideouts in Shawal area of North Waziristan on Sunday, killing 28 militants. The ISPR reports that six targets had been destroyed in the air strikes carried out near the Afghan border. It said local and foreign militants were among the dead, but the claim could not be verified from independent sources because journalists had no access to the area. Some reports suggest that because of Shawal’s rugged terrain and areas with dense forests militants had moved there before the Zarb-i-Azb operation was launched. Havaldar Wahab Khan and Sepoy Mohammad Rehman were on duty at a check post on Charmaro road near Shah Kas when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire at them and fled. Soon after the attack, security forces launched a search in the area for the attackers, but no arrest was made till late night. A house-to-house search operation continued in the area on Sunday. Ghundi, Pump House, Bakarabad and Nehr Khula areas are still under curfew and residents have been asked through mosque loudspeakers to stay indoors. People are facing hardship because of the curfew and are unable to buy essential items for Iftar and Sehr.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, 21 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Pakistan to return seized Indian fishing boats

Just days before a high level meeting between Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan and his Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman takes place in Thimpu this week, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sent another goodwill message to New Delhi by deciding to release 57 Indian fishing boats in the custody of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA). The premier had already released 150 Indian fishermen in May before he reached Delhi to meet with his counterpart Narendra Modi. Normally even though fishermen are released from time to time in both countries their boats once confiscated are kept in custody. The Nawaz government says that it views the issue of prisoners as a humanitarian one and continues to make efforts for their release as soon as their prison sentence has been completed. Pakistan says that Indian fishermen and boats are often apprehended by PMSA authorities when they violate Pakistan territorial waters.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The International Tribune, 22 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Govt feels the need to include NGOs as IDPs exceed one million

Federal Minister for State and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch said on Monday that they had so far registered one million people displaced as a result of the Zarb-e-Azb operation in North Waziristan and that they were working to incorporate help from UN agencies and NGOs in relief efforts. Chairing a meeting of International NGOs and UN relief agencies at the Ministry of SAFRON in Islamabad, the minister briefed that so far 30,000 IDP families have been transferred cash and 16,000 families have received cash through SIMs. He further briefed the participants about the current situation of IDPs and the relief provided to them. Various measures taken for the rehabilitation of IDPs and reconstruction of infrastructure in the affected areas was also discussed in the meeting. The ministry of SAFRON said it would extend its full cooperation to issue NOCs to international relief NGOs to help relief efforts.

< class="text11Verdana">Source: The Express Tribune, 23 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">20 militants killed in air strike in Shawal

Military planes bombed four hideouts in the mountainous Shawal valley of North Waziristan on Wednesday and killed 20 suspected militants. According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations, both local and foreign militants had been killed in the air strikes. The claim could not be verified from independent sources because media has no access to the area. Ground forces, meanwhile, continued clearing Mirali, the second major town in the area, and a house-to-house search operation is under way in the town and adjoining villages. The statement said that an ammunition-manufacturing unit had been found in the town. A huge cache of arms and ammunition, scores of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and large amounts of foreign currency were also recovered from Mirali Bazaar. The statement said that technical disposal and clearance of the IEDs and explosives was in progress. Security forces had des¬tr¬o¬¬yed over 30 IED-making units in Miramshah, the ad¬ministrative headquarters of North Waziristan, which has now been fully secured. Sources said that security forces had started a search operation in Mosaki village near Mirali town.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Dawn, 24 July 2014

Sri Lanka

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Aircraft maintenance facility to be handled by locals

The government had proposed the construction of an aircraft maintenance facility with the assistance of the Chinese government, but it would be completely handled by the Sri Lanka Air Force personnel, Military Spokesman Brig Ruwan Wanigasooriya has said.The major objective of the proposed facility was to carry out maintenance work on Chinese-built aircraft used by the Sri Lanka Air Force locally, he said.

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament on Tuesday that Chinese had been permitted to construct an Aircraft Maintenance Centre in Trincomalee and that it would be detrimental to India’s Security interests.

Brig Wanigasuriya said that at present Chinese aircraft in service with the SLAF had to be sent to Pakistan for maintenance work and that facility in Pakistan had been set up with Chinese assistance. "We have vessels maintaining facility of the Sri Lanka Navy set up under Japanese assistance," he pointed out, adding, "The government could save millions by setting up such a facility here."

SLAF spokesman Wing Commander Gehan Seneviratne said that most of the Chinese built aircraft in service with the SLAF had been manufactured before 1980. The Opposition leader said that those companies were no longer manufacturing such aircraft at present, but they offered servicing and maintenance to keep them flying, he said.

Wing Commander Seneviratne said that according to the proposal Chinese experts would train SLAF personnel to carry out maintenance work at the initial stage of the facility, but later all maintenance would be entirely handled by Sri Lankans.

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island, 23 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President shuns C’wealth event in UK due to ’security concerns’

Taking into consideration the failure on the part of the British government to restraining the UK based LTTE groups during his previous visits, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided against attending the World War I Commemorative Service for the Commonwealth at Glasgow Cathedral on August 4. President Rajapaksa is at present the Chair of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris, has, in a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport as well as Minister of Equalities in the UK, stressed that the decision to skip the Commonwealth event had been taken due to the British government’s failure on previous occasions to rein in LTTE groups, though the LTTE remains proscribed in the UK.

Alleging that the British law enforcement authorities turned a blind eye to violent protests against the Sri Lankan delegation including President Rajapaksa himself, Prof. Peiris has recalled how bottles and cans were thrown at the car carrying President Rajapaksa.

Responding to a query by The Island, a spokesperson for the British High Commission said: "This is a matter to pursue with the Sri Lankan government, but, yes, we were informed."

Referring to President Rajapaksa’s visit to London in June 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prof. Peiris has pointed that the Diaspora groups disrupted the visiting Sri Lankan President’s itinerary though the main event wasn’t targeted.

The Cameron government has been informed that the Sri Lankan government felt that it is unsafe for President Rajapaksa to participate at the early August event due to LTTE groups taking advantage of the situation to launch protests..

< class="text11verdana">Source: The Island, 23 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No foreign funds for NGOs without approval

The Finance and Planning Ministry has informed all Non-Governmental Organisations that they should receive prior approval from the Ministry prior to obtaining foreign funds.

The notice comes hot on the heels of the Government strongly criticising the foreign aid programme carried out by USAID.

It had planned to provide US$190 million dollars for a programme titled, Election Support Through Voter Education (ESVE)’ but later withdrew it following protests.

The "Notice" published in most of the national newspapers is addressed to "All government agencies, local institutions, civil society organisations, and the general public that due diligence be observed on the utilization of funds received from foreign funding agencies, INGO’s and any other source".

In its notice, signed by the Director General of the Department of External Resources of the Ministry of Finance and Planning said that various complaints have been lodged at the Ministry regarding the utilisation of Foreign Funds, without adherence to local standards and structures.

"There have been different programmers including Micro Financing and other instruments being funded by various agencies without proper approvals and compliance to local and national requirements" the notice said.

Spelling out reasons for the need to obtain such approval the Notice said that some of the projects carried out through foreign funding were "outside the government budget undermining the national development programmes"

The notice comes in the wake of a controversial circular issued by the Ministry of Defence earlier, banning Non-Governmental Organisations from conducting news conferences.

In Parliament, UNP Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said blocking the NGOs from carrying out educational and awareness programmes amounted to depriving them of rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the country. He wanted to know what intelligence service had provided that report on NGOs and the methodology adopted by the intelligence service concerned in arriving at that conclusion. "What is the law that empowers the intelligence services to act in this manner?"

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online 22 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Britain sold weapons to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is among the 27 countries that the British government sold weapons. Britain had supplied £12-bn of arms to some 27 countries including Sri Lanka, the House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls stated in their 2013 report.

Accordingly, Britain approved extant arms export licences to Sri Lanka worth over £8mn for assault rifles, body armour, combat shotguns, components for assault rifles, components for body armour, components for combat shotguns, components for pistols, components for sniper rifles, components for rifles, equipment employing cryptography, pistols, rifles, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles, software for equipment employing cryptography, sporting guns and weapons.

Chairman of the influential Commons committees on arms export controls (CAEC), has criticised exports of arms to countries that the Foreign Office has expressed human rights concerns about. The Parliamentary committees report says the sales to Sri Lanka, worth over £8mn raised "very serious questions".

The committee’s chairman, Conservative MP Sir John Stanley, said "There are other, quite clear areas of concern; 600 assault rifles were sold to Sri Lanka, despite the very well documented cases of human rights abuse there. We have to ask the Government why this is the case. Arms licences to Sri Lanka included pistols, small arms ammunition and approval for the sale assault rifles.

The MPs demand tighter controls on weapons sales to authoritarian regimes, saying that more than 3,000 export licences for arms worth £12 bn were approved for 28 countries cited by the Foreign Office for their poor human rights records. They include Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sri Lanka.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online 22 July 2014

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">EPRLF calls for re-merger of north and east

The Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) led by MP Suresh Premachandran, a constituent of the ruling Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in the Northern Province, has passed resolutions calling, for among other things, the re-merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces in conformity with Indo-Lanka Accord.

The EPRLF, a key member of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), had its annual convention during the weekend.

Mr Premachandran said that his party had adopted 14 resolutions, and one of them called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a special envoy to supervise the resettlement of war-affected people.

"Both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the UN secretary general agreed in a joint statement to resettle all the displaced people within one year after the end of the war. Now, five years have lapsed. There are people yet to be resettled. We call upon the UN Secretary General to appoint a special envoy to look into the resettlement process," he said.

There was also a resolution calling for the withdrawal of the military from the North.

The Convention was attended by TNA leader R. Sampanthan, Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, New Left Front leader Wickramabahu Karunaratne, Democratic People’s Front leader Mano Ganeshan, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress General Secretary M.T. Hasan Ali and United Socialist Party leader Siritunga Jayasuriya.

< class="text11verdana">Source: Daily Mirror Online 21 July 2014

< class="brown12verdana">Contributors:
Afghanistan: Aryaman Bhatnagar;
Bangladesh: Joyeeta Bhattacharjee;
Bhutan & Myanmar: Mihir Bhonsale
India & Nepal: Pratnashree Basu;
Maldives & Sri Lanka: N Sathiya Moorthy;
Pakistan: Bhavya Pandey

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.


N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy is a policy analyst and commentator based in Chennai.

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